The Alternative to Psychiatry Has Been Discovered—We’re Just Not Using It


In the academic debate, the nature of mental health disorders is often described as an enigma, like ‘mental illness is very complex, and we do not understand how or why it occurs’, ‘depression and psychosis are mysteries that we have yet to figure out—incomprehensible mysteries!’, ‘it is so weird that some people develop psychopathology and some do not’. The terminology mental illness, mental health disorder, and psychopathology—which is further defined as the study of abnormal behaviors and experiences—all indicate that some psychological mechanism is malfunctioning when producing the distress, or symptoms.

Meanwhile, I have never met a person suffering from these alleged incomprehensible and out-of-the-blue types of psychopathology, where symptoms just occur with no apparent reason, context around them, or meaningful history leading up to them. I dare say that psycho ‘pathology’ always makes sense, and that we do know what it is (when actually looking at the individual’s current context and life story). It has been investigated and discovered; it just hasn’t happened in psychiatry’s many failed attempts in biology, neuroscience, or genetics, but in clinical psychology and the affective sciences.

So, while the debate on psychiatric diagnoses and drugs continues, we are some who have long moved beyond the discussion and are helping our emotionally distressed clients via fundamentally different treatment principles. Some who have long abandoned the very idea of psychiatry in its literal sense, meaning medical treatment of the soul (psyche = soul, iatry = medical treatment).

Illustration depicting one yellow paper ship breaking away from a fleet of monochromatic ones

Psychopathology as an emotion regulation problem

What we help our clients with is regulating their painful and difficult emotions, thoughts, and traumas adaptively when they occur, so that they do not evolve into the clinical states called depressive episodes, prolonged anxiety disorders, panic attacks, stress burnouts, or psychotic episodes etc. Implied is the distinction between pain and pathology, the absence of which is what causes psychiatry to pathologize normal human suffering and reactions to life.

Prior to therapy, the clients’ emotion regulation styles are dominated by strategies like avoidance, emotional suppression, isolation, excessive worry and rumination, overthinking, self-criticism, alcohol, drugs, binge eating, self-harm, rituals, and compulsive behaviors. Different diagnoses involve different emotion regulation strategies and different emotional themes, but the underlying psychological mechanisms appear to be transdiagnostic. That is, all these behaviors function to reduce (i.e., regulate) some emotional distress and excessive thought chaos that is experienced as uncontrollable, overwhelming, durable, incomprehensible, wrong, and faulty.

These are emotion regulatory behaviors. As such, these so-called maladaptive emotion regulation strategies are always solutions to a problem. They can only be expected to make sense in the psychological context in which they are used. However, overreliance on these strategies risks backfiring long-term, creating more distress by causing new problems or by extending the initial distress into a clinical state—because the initial distress was not effectively regulated (or allowed?) at its source in the given context.

Metacognitive beliefs and emotional schemas as the root cause of psychopathology

There is one deeper psychological level of analysis than the dynamics between emotion regulation strategies and psychopathology. Recent developments in clinical psychology have emphasized that we choose our strategies based on what we believe about our thoughts (called metacognitive beliefs) and emotions (called emotional schemas), such as ‘my thoughts are uncontrollable, my emotions escalate and overwhelm me, I can’t get in contact with my traumas without being overwhelmed in emotional pain and flashbacks, I can’t control my intrusive thoughts and I must act on them, my emotions are intolerable, incomprehensible, dangerous, wrong, unique to me, will last indefinitely, and come out of the blue’. Obviously, these beliefs are shaped by what we’ve been through in life.

When holding such beliefs, we naturally aim to escape the distress—at almost any means, including the maladaptive strategies—rather than resolve it at its source. That is, we are controlled by our negative, intrusive thoughts and by experiential avoidance of our emotions rather than by approaching our goals and living by our values. We feel compelled to do something acute, but often short-sighted and repetitive, to endure and get rid of the pain. An outright terrible state of mind to be in.

However, the maladaptive strategies risk leading us further astray from our true values and goals, potentially adding existential distress, and there we have the deep depressive episodes, anxiety attacks, and psychoses. Understandable, but maladaptive strategies in terms of regulating life’s distress. Furthermore, it gets difficult to fall asleep, stay focused, enjoy things, and generally be in the present when our thoughts are experienced as uncontrollable, as their nature is to constantly tear their host emotionally and attentionally out of the now and into future scenarios (worrying; what if…?) and the past (rumination; if I had just done this or that instead! Why did this happen to me? What is the reason for my suffering? What could I have done differently?).

Thus, there is a triad relationship between what we believe about our thoughts and emotions, how we regulate them, and whether we develop psychopathology or not. The backside of the maladaptive strategies is that they prevent discovering that thoughts and emotions are, in fact, temporary, meaningful, tolerable, safe, benign, and controllable via our own minds, as they are subject to attentional control and thus need not to overwhelm us.

Where does psychiatric drug treatment fit this model? As psychotropic agents, it is difficult to see drugs as anything but another emotional control strategy. It is self-evident that drugs may work if they can introduce some sense of controllability and numb the emotional pain that is experienced as both incomprehensible and overwhelming. The problem is obvious: While reducing distress (or ‘symptoms’) and improving mood, the drugs risk confirming and reinforcing the underlying problematic beliefs of uncontrollability, durability, and incomprehensibility.

Put simply, it is impossible to genuinely experience that one’s emotions need not escalate and overwhelm, but can be tolerated and controlled (which is the aim of psychotherapy), if the emotional episode is medically terminated or numbed. Furthermore, as emotions are usually meaningful reactions to current contexts or past events replaying in the mind, which psychotherapy is about figuring out, the emotionally numbing drugs may even interrupt the therapeutic process—even when the drugs ‘improve mood’. Symptom reduction is not necessarily good. It depends on how the symptoms are reduced.

Conversely, we risk reasserting our beliefs in the opposite; that our emotions and thoughts are uncontrollable, overwhelming, durable, and make no sense, since we experience this need for emotional control strategies. That’s when the real trouble emerges. Hence arises the self-perpetuating downward spiral between beliefs, strategies, and symptoms that is psychopathology. It is this spiral that psychotherapy aims at intervening.

The psychological solution to psychopathology

In clinical psychology, we can ‘diagnose’ based on which metacognitive beliefs and emotional schemas, and the associated emotion regulation strategies, there are at play, rather than based on which symptoms the condition manifests as. Depending on the strategies and the content of the thoughts and emotions, the condition will manifest in widely different ways, but the underlying mechanisms to target are virtually the same. Suicidal thoughts, feeling worthless and inadequate, and excessive rumination, isolation, and avoidance is called depression; catastrophizing thoughts, difficult-to-control worrying, and inflexibly locked attention on threat and danger is called anxiety disorders; intrusive thoughts, obsessions, rituals, anxious feelings, and compulsive behaviors is called OCD; flashbacks and recurrent thoughts about traumas, negative views of oneself and the world, and excessive avoidance is called PTSD; and various intrusive paranoid thoughts will naturally lead to psychotic episodes—provided that the thoughts are followed and fed with our attention, which is what psychotherapy aims at learning how to not do.

Whereas psychiatry (and, unfortunately, some branches of psychology) insists on categorizing such expressions as different diseases with different treatments, modern psychology takes a transdiagnostic approach to psychopathology, focusing on the underlying mechanisms and causal treatment rather than symptomatic treatment. Psychological symptoms do vary and group in different syndromes, but the mechanisms involved in the underlying problems that the symptoms are symptoms of (which is not a disease, but some psychological context) appear to overlap significantly, which undermines the validity of the many and ever-increasing different psychiatric diagnoses.

The alternative, psychological, categories include psycho’pathology’ as overthinking-problems, avoidance-problems, emotion regulation-problems, crises inherent in being human, unmet or thwarted goals or psychological needs, traumas that have taken control, and a life incongruent with one’s values and goals.

With these ‘diagnoses’ follow a fundamentally different treatment rationale than symptom reduction and medication. Rather, the aim is to break the vicious cycle by intervening at the belief level, primarily by bringing about experiences that challenge and disprove the beliefs. In therapy, we identify and challenge the problematic beliefs using various metacognitive techniques, experiential exercises, meditation, attention training, validation, by connecting the distress to the life story and the goals, values, or needs activated in the current context, and by unfolding the painful emotions in-session from a safe space to allow experiencing and navigating through the distress without terminating it or getting overwhelmed. This is what psychologists are trained to do so that the experience actually disproves the problematic beliefs rather than confirms them for the individual.

When psychotherapy works, it is because it successfully alters the problematic beliefs into adaptive beliefs like: ‘My thoughts are controllable, I control whether to follow my negative thoughts or leave them be, thoughts arise spontaneously, but I choose what to do with them; I can get in contact with my painful emotions and traumas without them escalating or overwhelming me, I control whether to give my emotions and thoughts attention, and if I choose not to, they are temporary by nature and fade rather quickly; I am not wrong or faulty, my painful emotions often indicate that something is wrong, which I’m supposed to listen to, understand, and potentially act upon’.

When this psychological reality appears, the fight against our thoughts, emotions, and minds can stop. Acceptance, problem solving, detached mindfulness, defusion, flexible attentional control, goal-orientation, value-orientation, outer focus, and generally listening to our emotions becomes the new agenda—all of which involves actually feeling what is there to be felt. Ideally, long-term medication, too, becomes unnecessary. As such, the psychiatric solution and the psychological solution to psychopathology are fundamentally incompatible with each other. Furthermore, one risks standing with the hand on a hot stove without being able to feel it—until the drug is withdrawn.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Sorry, but what a (almost used the world pathology)….
    Tries to start again (must have been reading a certain terminology)
    What a smorgasbord of scientism..

    You know, since man has existed there has been art, and the need to experience emotions at a multidimensional level. Which is what art is, it’s also why you respond the way you do, the whole day, not only when you consciously feel a certain way. Because emotions are multidimensional, and honoring that they are expressed, and one can gain perspective, one sees the beauty of life, all of it, even the stuff that we label as negative.

    I’m sorry, but when I read: “When psychotherapy works, it is because it successfully alters the problematic beliefs into adaptive beliefs like: ‘My thoughts are controllable, I control whether to follow my negative thoughts or leave them be, thoughts arise spontaneously, but I choose what to do with them; I can get in contact with my painful emotions and traumas without them escalating or overwhelming me, I control whether to give my emotions and thoughts attention, and if I choose not to, they are temporary by nature and fade rather quickly; I am not wrong or faulty, my painful emotions often indicate that something is wrong, which I’m supposed to listen to, understand, and potentially act upon’.” and the rest of it, this almost sound like some “miracles” of one can control the weather, as in that one can control one’s negative thoughts. I can get triggered by all sorts of things, one example is trying to work with ANY digital device, when it seems ALL of them by now are CLOGGED up with encompassing commercials, and the “economy” of marketing. Having encountered the plethora of pesterings and harassings one encounters in these times simply wanting to research something online, all in the name of “free market,” or in other words, if you have enough money you can join our brain washing cult. Even anything that’s delayed can start bothering me. I somehow don’t think that simply thinking: “this anger is negative thoughts, and I can control them, I can decide not to follow these thoughts,” when perhaps I then might have no idea what’s triggering them, and then never actually find out what it is that bothers me, and what my mind wants me to be wary of because that’s labeled as allowing my “emotions” to overwhelm or escalate me. AND what’s quite strange is that someone, or anyone can write music actually depicting that anger, can put it in a poem, can paint it, can use it to create perspective in a novel, can dance it, and then have it used as “entertainment” because it’s a stimulant that perhaps people STILL don’t want to see WHY, and the trigger AGAIN is exploited rather than the poor artists understand how multidimensional his emotions are. Going to “therapy” might AGAIN rob him of such understanding.

    “thoughts arise spontaneously, but I choose what to do with them”


    Isn’t this why people talk about the weather so much, because they’d want to control it!?

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  2. ‘depression and psychosis are mysteries that we have yet to figure out—incomprehensible mysteries!’

    Not really, since we here all know that the antidepressants, antipsychotics, and ADHD drugs can create “psychosis.” In the case of the antidepressants and antipsychotics, it’s via anticholinergic toxidrome.

    “I dare say that psycho ‘pathology’ always makes sense, and that we do know what it is (when actually looking at the individual’s current context and life story).” But some psychologists only deny people’s real life problems, like the psychologists who function as the child abuse covering up arm of their religions.

    “Furthermore, as emotions are usually meaningful reactions to current contexts or past events replaying in the mind, which psychotherapy is about figuring out, the emotionally numbing drugs may even interrupt the therapeutic process.”

    I absolutely agree, the psych drugs do interrupt the therapeutic process. Therefore the psychologists should un-partner with the psychiatrists, rather than functioning as psychiatry’s pipeline.

    “and various intrusive paranoid thoughts will naturally lead to psychotic episodes,” I consider that more of a psychological assumption. For example, as the mother of a child abuse survivor, and since I now know the psychologists have been in the business of covering up child abuse, since Freud.

    I know it is unwise for me to have anything to do with psychologists. But that knowledge – which theoretically could be called “paranoia” – has not resulted in “psychosis.”

    “modern psychology takes a transdiagnostic approach to psychopathology, focusing on the underlying mechanisms and causal treatment rather than symptomatic treatment.”

    So how do you bill without use of the DSM? And what exactly is “modern psychology?”

    “In therapy, we identify and challenge the problematic beliefs using various metacognitive techniques, experiential exercises, meditation, attention training, validation, by connecting the distress to the life story and the goals, values, or needs activated in the current context, and by unfolding the painful emotions in-session from a safe space to allow experiencing and navigating through the distress without terminating it or getting overwhelmed.”

    Well, that was not my experience with a child abuse denying and covering up psychologist.

    Psychologists are most definitely frequently not “a safe space.” My former psychologist’s medical records clearly state she had hoped to steal my children from me, thankfully she did not succeed in that satanic goal. But anyone who has the power to steal someone else’s children should not be considered safe. Which, I guess, is part of why our society has an enormous “medical kidnapping” problem.

    “the psychiatric solution and the psychological solution to psychopathology are fundamentally incompatible with each other.” I agree.

    So perhaps the best solution is for the psychologists, who are not medically trained, to divorce themselves from the medical community all together. And since psychiatry is nothing more than a gigantic iatrogenic illness creation system, which is pure evil, we end psychiatry all together. And the psychiatrists can retrain in other areas of medicine. Goodness knows, they’ve defrauded millions from their clients, and not paid for their massive on a societal scale, malpractice. So they most definitely can afford to retrain themselves.

    Although since they took known medical knowledge of how to poison people – all doctors are taught about anticholinergic toxidrome in med school – and used it to intentionally harm their clients. Most psychiatrists probably should be put in jail.

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  3. Great article. Echoes my sentiments.

    I always say free choice is THE most important thing in the world. What I have not said is that…

    Choice leads to madness.

    Because choice leads to fear of repercussion.

    But having a choice and overcoming fear both lead to a step towards liberation.

    So although choice leads to fear and madness as it goes up the mountain, once it crests the summit in fullsome satisfaction and tumbles in a freefall back down again the experience is one of euphoric liberation.

    Euphoria and fear are thrilling neurological flipsides of the same glinting coin. Eradicating fear eradicates euphoria. It is a deadening.

    Due to fear the madness seems frightening at the impulse of the choice savouring moment. Yet in bravely confronting or dealing with the fear of disapproval madness feels healingly freeing.

    It is society’s over infatuation with “logic” and its “right” “wrong” dichotomy that says an individual’s free choice, no matter how simple or harmless, is to be feared as if automatically “wrong”.

    Accumulated anxiety over many years about making “wrong” choices, gives a sense that having any choice at all is dangerous.

    But free choice is both fed by feeling “and” free choices feed further feelings. So free choice really matters. Even, ironically, the free choice to be a stalwart stoical paragon of “logic”. For this too is a fine harmless choice if you like devouring textbooks. Whatever you like is “great” for you.

    This is one understanding of madness. The choice drives you mad. The choice to declare your embarrassed love to a new attractive colleague drives you mad. The choice to have knee surgery or not drives you mad. The choice to have one flour dusted soft centred sugary bon bon drives you mad.

    Repercussions mean fear. Fear can seem traumatic at its lifelong disabling worst.

    In this way….

    “choosing to go mad”

    mad enough to not give a stuff what the repercussions are to stripping off in a nudist beach, becomes the medicine you need.

    Madness becomes our friend and rescuer in a rule riddled, uptight world gone choc-a-bloc with war and bullying of your every private finicky choice. For you cannot argue with the very essence of arguing itself. If you do you will ironically be argueing with the differently mad. Then you will spend another year and another year and another year wasting the sands of your egg timer little life in proving how “right” you are to them. Until you become a “righteous” paragon of “logic” also. Which is absolutely wonderful “if” this be your free choice. But for many they feel “obliged” to argue their hours away, “duty bidden” to explain how they are not “wrong” to choose the things they want in their life.

    Millions of free choices are in each day.

    Millions of these hurt nobody.

    And yet the internet is built on the concrete foundation of begging to be accepted. Billions of unique individuals are on it this moment begging to have one other person understand that their little free choice is a good choice, a nice choice. Perhaps everyone is yaking and nobody is listening.

    Better to save breath and stop begging.

    Be the fairy god mother to all of your lovely harmless choices and feelings. She won’t ask you to explain why you made them.

    So, what I said before was my rumimation, to to highlight one kind of definition of madness. Some would call it “normal” but I prefer madness as a word since it shuts a door on certain “logical” versions of “consensus normal”.

    Another understanding of madness is where an individual has choice over themselves, but this is not from a “logical” bully but from an ill sense that persecutes them from within. An illness. A state of complete psychotic wrack and ruin. This is not a judgement from outside of the person, such as a carer or a bully might utter, but rather it is coming from the sufferers own lips that they “feel” ill and made maddened by the intrusion of that ill state night and day.

    I enjoy the first description of madness. I also suffer miserably from the second description of madness.

    A psychotherapist is fantastically healing and restorative and supportive for the first kind of madness, the liberation by free choice, choice as informed by “feelings”.

    But the psycgotherapist may not be so helpful for a torturous nightmare season of never ending schizophrenic hallucinations. A schizophrenia sufferer may know precisely what free choices they yearn for but be assaulted by a barrage of hallucinations the moment they go near their own free choices.

    Schizophrenia is a bit like LSD.

    Depression and anxiety are like benzodiazepine.

    The two drugs produce deeply different states. If someone is troubled by their emotions and they are on benzodiazepines a psychotherapist may be able to give them homestudy along the lines of enjoying emotional choices more. Maybe to reduce overwhelming anxiety.

    A person on a LSD trip won’t be able to stop their hallucinations JUST BY FEELING or JUST BY THINKING. What they got going on is unstoppable.

    Maybe better diet and better sleep will make inroads into giving them resilience to help them deal with each seizure of hallucinations. I am not at all saying schizophrenic people would not find great healing in psychotherapy. Quite the opposite. It is a life saver. It ought to be the FIRST offer of help. But the psychotherapy ought to be more like that given to sufferers in hostage taking ordeals, where conditions do not give a crust of bread as to how the client “feels”. Another parallel is domestic violence. It becomes immaterial to discuss “feelings” whilst being beaten up into all colours of an irredescent oil spill.

    In schizophrenia the motto is more like….

    “Feelings don’t make a damn difference while this is going on”.

    Living with schizophrenia is pure survival mode, twenty four seven. Of a migrant crossing a stormy sea type of survival state.

    I am not saying survival is not needed to that extent in severe anxiety and severe depression. Of course it is. Your feelings become dangerous in depression and anxiety. Or rather the depression and anxiety often come from the pushing down of crippling feelings. You become afraid of feeling since all feelings seem to be trying to snuff you out. But in schizophrenia it is not so much that you fear feeling, since often you are awash with intense feelings, often wonderful feelings, just like on an LSD trip. Rather it is that you KNOW that your merely feeling something or not feeling something will have no impact on an exteriorly perceived hostage taker beyond your control.

    It would be like a hostage having a psychotherpist come to visit and give a session in that dungeon and the psychotherapist to fully expect that just by getting the victim to weep that this will “vanish” the very real jailor.

    What the psychotherapist CAN do is stop the hostage from killing themselves out of despair. The psychotherapist can give the same hand holding benevolence they give to the depressed and anxious. And this is powerfully medicinal. But it will not magic the illness of hallucinations back into a eureka moment box.

    The despair of being in a cell IS NOT MY SCHIZOPHRENIA. These two things are qualitatively different. BOTH the despair and schizophrenia should NOT be seen as the same thing. Any more that going to a family doctor for a measles rash should be given the same regard as kidney stones. They are different agonies. The flaw in psychological professions is being carried over in the new paradigm where the psyche is regarded as if it is ONE BODY.

    A ONE of something is easy to push and pigeonhole and apply quick routine fixes to.

    The psyche is not a ONE SOLID ENTITY. The psyche is a FLOW. It is beautifully uncontrollable. Uncontrol is its blessed state.

    In psychotherapy’s rush to remake itself it is at risk of imprisoning the psyche as if it is a ONE BODY.

    You would not say your “love” for your significant other was sitting in a chair by the breakfast bar and solidly wearing maroon shoes and chinos and a denium jacket. You would say your love for your signigicant other; if you have one, was flowing here and there and anywhere and everywhere. Transcending time and space.

    But psychotherapy is fond of getting out its butterfly net to trap that flow and pin it to the body. Indeed our feelings ARE influenced by our fleshy vehicle, in a harmonious blending, but that does not mean our feelings or our psyche are SOLID or so easy to pick apart.

    All of this is only in my own opinion. I feel heartbroken for the many who have been given a sham diagnosis. It is perhaps essential that they know for themselves what ailed them, if anything at all. Perhaps that trauma or despair is what their problem was. Emotional healing is probably what they urgently need. That, and for many also social justice.

    I do not rate the increasing attempt to marshal schizophrenia in with depression and trauma, nor should those who have left being a schizophrenian and find they are now healed and well. These states, schizophrenia and depression, are different. They should not be amalgamated. Difference is to be CELEBRATED not made grey and uniform and monoculture.

    I believe there has been many with a vested interest in binning schizophrenia as an illness and borrowing those coats, from off the backs of the hallucinating, for depression and anxiety instead.

    Making off with mad women’s cultured pearls.

    Psychotherapy does not need fixed, in my opinion. It has been serving the people for decades quite alright. But professionals are ever wont to get bored listening all day to the sobs of the almost mended. And so it brightens up a dull officey day to reinvent the wheel of the psyche by seeing it anew. With a crisp new paradigm and trajectory. Don’t forget, if anyone is about to toss themselves under a driverless car it is a psychiatrist, so I expect all psych professions follow suit in those stats.

    A new trajectory comes to everyone’s salvation. It likes to be sleek and streamlined and smooth, like a successful runway. Everyone gets good with dealing with harrowing trauma and tumultuous emotions and all becomes well. I totally agree. It is my mission in life to make a more loving and compassionate world. My comments have this abiding focus. Click on my name above to see so.

    However, compassion does not mean the answer is sleek or streamlined or smooth to everyone. My irritation with “consensus opinion” is it does not accept the possibility of illness occasionally being a mess, a mystery, an outlier, a misfit.

    If we want a world that loves us we must be free to change from one hour to the next or we are not free at all.

    Free to be you. Free to be me. Free to be mad. Free to be normal. Free to be ill. Free to be healed. Free to be logical. Free to be a different kettle of fish. Free to be a misfit.

    A gauzy atmosphere has breezed all over the world and cause each person to become incensed upon reading any words by anyone else if any of those words do not completely reflect the person’s own choices. As if the person can only be calm if everyone mirrors perfectly their every preference and choice. One man can like boats and eco friendly permaculture and spaghetti and the music of George Formby. He can plug in to social media and spot a comment from a man who likes boats and eco friendly living off grid and pasta ribbons but who likes the music of Brian Eno. And that is enough these days to cause a rise of rage. As if the Brian Eno disappointment was a catastrophic trauma, against the ENTITLED version of “Oneness”. A faux “Oneness” that is just from being bullying. It is a bullying injunction for everyone to make the exact same choices. A bullying mimicking a want of greater “togetherness” that is really an unacceptance of difference in its pressure to make everyone think and speak and choose the same.

    We are ALL bullies. To some extent lightweight pushiness is par for the course. But the endemic spread of gross bullying, as if it is in the circulating air, is from “fear”. Fear of loss. This causes anger enough to become a bully and to expect everyone to be servile and identical and precious about ones own persnickety choices. The Formby. The Eno.

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    • “Eradicating fear eradicates euphoria. It is a deadening.” I don’t agree at all, Diaphanous. I believe fear – as opposed to hate – is the opposite of love. And a “No Fear” theology is important, if one is to understand what real love is.

      And if you’d ever dealt with a “drug withdrawal induced manic psychosis,” you’d know that being withdrawn from the psych drugs, can create a type of mania, in my case, a
      staggeringly serendipitous, “euphoria.”

      Perhaps your “Accumulated anxiety over many years about making ‘wrong’ choices, gives a sense that having any choice at all is dangerous?”

      But most decent humans, I don’t think, feel that way. We didn’t spend our life making bad choices, so we shouldn’t have been neurotoxic poisoned, in the first place … in my case, to cover up the sexual assault of my very young child, by the systemic child abuse and rape covering up “mental health professionals” and religious leaders, of my former religion.

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      ANDERS, lastly I must share this remedy with you. A youtube channel of videos I happened to discover. It is BETTER than ANY antidepressant. Initially you may focus more on the tall thin man who has a rare and unusual way of giving short staccato sentences. I thought he was brusk or austere but after a few videos you realise it is his lovely way of being up front. Meanwhile she, his wife, is so delighted by everything she sees and finds that she makes the world seem valuable and sacred and cherished just for existing.

      Anders, as part of my voyage of spiritual knowing I kept a dream journal for years. I found that the other dimensional realm appeared to me in my sleep state easier than my awake state. In an abundance of those mystifying yet exciting dreams portals would open up and I would be “shown” extraordinary things. The effect is like when you are watching television and during the evening news broadcast suddenly an enigmatic figure appears in place of the newscaster. A jolt occurs and whilst you are still aware of being asleep this wakes you out of your usual stupor and into recognising “something more urgent is going on” in your dream. So you take note of that. I was often “shown” animals. Sentient ones. And I was often “shown” museum artifacts from our planet or distant planets. But I was also “shown” people.

      The mysterious people were always along the same theme. They were aware I was coming aware of their presence, as if I was emerging from anaesthetic yet I was still dreaming. And the people always nodded to me with a fond greeting then continued whatever they were doing. They would be gardening, or painting a beautiful painting, or strolling by a river, or loafing in a vibrantly colourful house, or running the desk of a hotel. Woozy serenity charaterized these meetings. The people were mostly always couples. Two people who were in harmony with one another. Like soul mates. They appeared to me night after night after night for about three months. It was like an initiation of me.

      Into what I am not sure yet.

      The people were just ordinary and human looking. I later had cause to feel that the beings were what we call angels.

      The thing is those angels were not engaged in “saving the planet”. They were not mounting a global campaign. They were not telling anyone what to do or be or what to not do or be. They were not admonishing or deriding anyone. They were not doing amazing speeches. They were not weilding massive books. They were not demonstrating their superior intellect or wisdom. They were not chastising humans. They were not doing anything but simply enjoying themselves in the blissful moment. Really rather Zen. Just revel in the sights and sounds and sensations brought to fruition through the bodily senses. Those angels were not giving preachy “lessons”. They were only able to show by example what makes a lovely life. Life is short. There isn’t time in any one puny life to “fix” the world. It is a waste of time to try. And in fact the breaking of the world has often been caused by people who cannot bed down into gorgeous simplicity. It is easy to get conned into having a fight with yourself and then having a fight with everyone else. Big waste of time.

      The people in this video channel have no interest in complicated. The ego likes complex. These people have no ego. They are supreme beings because they are like a couple of banal children.

      Children are the peace makers.

      Children do not blow up the planet with nuclear missiles.

      And children know the key to happiness is not in a pill but in simplicity of being and an eagerness to play with life as if life is its own adventure and it needs nothing “logical” added to it.

      From the perspective of a lost and forsaken drunk man or an abandonned drug addict, descending into a gutter of abject misery, these angels who do nothing remarkable in life but continuously be the river of love seem holy.

      In all their comments sections they are regailed as being a tonic for flagging spirits. Most are bewildered as to why their videos cheered them up.

      It is often not what is kept in a video or documentary or lesson or life but what is kept out of it.

      The mind is like a garden. It is easy in our era to let it fill with vileness, vulgarity, hatefulness, wickedness and trash.

      One does not have to be religious to keep rubbish out of the garden of the mind.

      Our natural feelings of revulsion or fright or stress offer to do that for us.

      But we are schooled out of listening to our own warning feelings. We cease listening to what our feelings yearn for most.

      Which is often simply harmony.

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  4. There is no such thing as mental illness. The idea persists because people have an interest in promoting it. Usually it is to get money.

    The alternative to Psychiatry and to the entire Mental Health Edifice, is the middle finger.


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    • I agree, Joshua. Let’s hope and pray, God judges all the scientific fraud based members of the DSM “bible” believing religion, for being the systemic criminals that they are. Albeit I will say, with mercy for the wonderful, and truth telling, repentant within the insane DSM “bible” religion.

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  5. Thank you for this article. It has given me both hope and confidence. Unfortunately, I live in an area which has a sub-par mental health system. I also do not have the means to see someone with this kind of understanding but I believe you have given me a lot of helpful insights and enough direction for me to begin healing on my own. I will use this as a blueprint when seeking a counselor in the near future. I identified with almost all of what was written. Thank you

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  6. “When psychotherapy works. . .”

    But in my case it didn’t. I thought my situation was an anomaly, until I got online and found others for whom it didn’t work, and even instead caused other, sometimes worse problems.

    I was in and out of therapy for over 50 years. I read about therapy, believed in it, even when it didn’t work with a given therapist. “Try another” was the recommendation sometimes. “Dig deeper in yourself and work it out with the therapist” was another. I tried both strategies until the last therapist terminated me after 6 years saying she didn’t “have the emotional resources” to continue.

    There may, of course, be many reasons to blame me for the failure of therapy. But the fact is that I presented myself for treatment, tried to be as honest and committed to the process as I could. And it failed.

    I BELIEVED in therapy and maybe that in itself was a problem. A believe without sufficient foundation. It was a belief that ultimately proved false, providing me with what turned out to be false hope and for which I paid large amounts in co-payments and sometimes out of pocket fees. Therapy itself promoted that belief and did not help me overcome it.

    I’ve done enough research now to know that the rates of failure and ineffectiveness of therapy are not insignificant. And I’ve seen a few studies about the types of harm that therapy can do. But none of that was given to me in order to help me make “informed” consent to “treatment”.

    Psychotherapy may be an alternative to psychiatry. But it is NOT an alternative which consistently WORKS and without a risk of additional, sometime significant, harm.

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    • Brava, Mella! When I was in college, my partner had a roommate who’d been in therapy for 35 years. He was devoted to it, constantly advocating for psychotherapy. This despite admitting that in all those years he NEVER felt better even after, like you, changing therapists and trying the “gold standards”–CBT & DBT.

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    Do the rich and powerful have mental healthcare needs? Yes. Therefore, it is safe to assume that if there were a secret, effective alternative to current practices, the rich and powerful would be using it, supply would rise to reach demand, interfering laws would shift to allow it, and it wouldn’t be secret anymore.

    The actual truth is just that current practices suck, and are unavailable or unaffordable for those who need them. There isn’t a cure for cancer that “They” are keeping from you.

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    • Hear, hear! There are many, many reasons therapy may not work. If it did work–if SOME therapy were reliable and well-understood–then population rates of depression and suicide should by now be much lower. Even if the claim is that therapy works but the broad environment our culture has created isn’t conducive to maintaining good mental health, then it would behoove us to change our environment. But most of us realize we’re not gong to do that. So here we are.

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  8. The alternative to psychiatry is no psychiatry, and some of us, myself for instance, are using it. Mental health nonsense is an obsession for some people, but not for all people. It, to my way of thinking, makes sense to make more wise choices than, say, that of any choice that would lead to a permanent state of stuckness. Good thing we have more options than one.

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      • I think we need to organize against human rights violations and abuses, for instance, against forced drugging and confinement.

        Psychiatry, I suspect, will be around as long as people pay for it. Boycott psychiatric treatment, and then, you, personally, are not part of the problem.

        Confusing the medical with the criminal has become a way to further demonize criminal behavior of late. Look at so-called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a label used to chastise and humiliate the self-absorbed. It is usually directed at criminally errant behaviors. Criminal behavior, as always, is something to be punished, not “treated”.

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        • I am among those who believe that punishment doesn’t work.

          There are some people in prisons who will respond to educational “therapies” and some who won’t. Some addicts will respond to detox and rather mild therapies while others will not. The deciding factor seems to be whether or not they are a psychopathic personality or are closely connected to one.

          We can attempt to separate criminal behavior from mental illness, but I don’t think that path will ever be productive. The trick is that some “criminals” are pushed into criminal behavior by psychopaths while others ARE psychopaths.

          Psychopathy can be treated, but not by punishment or by conventional therapies. We isolate criminals from society to reduce the harm they do to society. It behooves us to try to return those who respond to treatment to society, as imprisoning a person is expensive, and can deeply upset someone who is put away unjustly or is capable of reform. But for most psychopaths the only realistic handling at this time is isolation from the community.

          As far as “demonizing criminal behavior,” what would you prefer we do about it? Treat it as normal? Criminal behavior can be discouraged by a system of laws and legal responses, but real criminals are inverted on the subject of punishment and will sometimes seek it as a self-deterrent, or see it merely as a game of cat and mouse.

          While popular culture will often label people with mental disorders incorrectly, I am more interested in how the legal system and mental health system handle the subject. We call people “crazy” all the time. But that doesn’t result in them getting electroshocked! Both these systems regularly lead to injustices but more importantly don’t produce productive happy people; they are ineffective.

          Society would find effective systems of justice and mental health helpful, so I don’t believe in simply abolishing them. But we desperately need to handle the fact that they are doing things wrong.

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          • I don’t think the path of hospitalizing criminals works any better than the path of jailing sick people, and when your hospitals are prisons, and your prisons are hospitals, well, that’s worse than confusing, to bring in ethical considerations, that’s plain wrong.

            Imprisonment as a deterrent to further crime might not work as well as execution, but execution is a crime when applied to individuals rather than to states, and I really don’t think state execution is much of an improvement over individual murder.

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          • Frank, the path of “hospitalizing criminals” (giving them therapy or training instead of mere punishment) WOULD work IF the treatment worked! Why deny that any treatments work on some criminals when some do? Would you prefer a world perpetually filled with crime, rather than some day figuring out how to do something about it? Don’t you think the process of doing something about crime would probably include sitting down with the criminal and sorting some things out in their life?

            I am not juxtaposing imprisonment with execution. Why are you? I am juxtaposing isolation from society with doing something to help the person return to society. Some people cannot be returned to society successfully without undue expense. For them, isolation does not equate to punishment, but more likely would be experienced as a mild form of therapy.

            Killing people for what they did simply returns them to new lives probably resentful. But that’s a different discussion.

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          • “Kill” “people for what they did”, and the people (person plural) you kill are no longer doing what they did. Death is kinda final. That’s efficiency for you.

            I’m arguing against this middle ground between “sickness” and crime, which is to say I don’t think people should be confined to prisons masquerading as hospitals who have broken none of the written laws of the land. Period. When you do that, you’re stretching the law beyond its bounds.

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          • Most psychopaths (anti-social personalities) HAVE broken written laws. I would not advocate isolating people who have not gone through a legal/justice process.

            I do agree that most psych hospitals act as prisons, and that shouldn’t be tolerated.

            But I would argue that killing a person releases the personality to start living a new life, whereas keeping them alive but isolated from society keeps them out of circulation longer and gives us the opportunity to rehabilitate them.

            I realize this argument is not much supported by “rational” people. But I don’t base my views of life on what “everybody knows.”

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        • Hi, Frank. Would you mind sharing a bit more of your perspectives? For instance, what do you see as some of the alternatives to modern clinical psychology and psychiatry for severe emotional trauma? And what do you think a better way to deal with criminality is than imprisonment (or do you think something ought to be added to or changed about imprisoning people)? Looking forward to anything you care to share.

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          • Facing personal responsibilities is the only answer I can find for either. Trauma theory doesn’t strike me as a great excuse to live like an adolescent for life, and with the lack of human and legal rights that goes along with doing so. When wrongs have been perpetuated, the criminal justice system is looking for acknowledgement that this has been the case, and rightly so. Remorse has its place. .

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      • Yep, we’ve got a “mental ill health system”, and there seems to be no end to it. While there seems to be no end to it, it can be exited, and that is exactly what I would counsel anyone caught up in that system to do if at all possible. Mentally healthy people don’t receive/consume mental health treatment as a rule of thumb. Another way of putting it is to say that mental health is achieved through a complete abstinence of partaking in mental health treatments and services.

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  9. Psyche is not empirical problem to solve, depression, psychosis, death are the essence and the main mystery of psychological life, not problem to solve by wulgar materialism in medical disguise. First you must know, as a monist trapped in monistic ideologies, what psyche is. Psyche is not the problem to solve.The ignorance of monism, is. The low rhetorics is. Barbarians are the problem. Not psychosis, depression or death. Cowards are the problem. And the worst pathology is – the souless mental health and norms, and unification. Norms only shows you the meaning of main pathology. We should stop solving sth which means more than small arrogant ego of religion of scientism.

    Stop solving the mysteries fo psyche or gods will kill you. Scientism will die, it is a long road to real world. The naivety of monism is unbearable. Arrogance of scientism is the main sign of stupidity. Death, psychosis, depression are not a frills, and not the illnesses inside the brain. Brain only shows you the complex nature of the psyche. Pathology is the base of psychological life – but not in monistic utopia of ego cult (materialism) without the main role of the psyche.The society of small ego creatures should grow up.

    Psyche won’t be as small as the small monistic man and his small zombie thinking.

    James Hillman “Re-visioning psychology”

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  10. A wise old psychotherapist with a white beard once said to me…

    “People do not come to therapy because they want to change. They come to therapy to find someone to agree with them that it is not them who needs to change. Most people in therapy are acting out a battle to resolutely stay the same”.

    A therapist is not GOD. Nobody can magic the world all just so. That said, whilst humans are immersed in feeling that they do not matter to anyone at all some become therapists to feel as a GOD.

    I prefer to see therapy as some formal or stylized version of FRIENDSHIP. Two flawed humans having an indepth chat about mutual existential suffering.

    Can friendships be exploitative?

    Of course.

    Can friendships save your life?

    Of course.

    The true GOD is the understanding that…


    and that friendship at its best is a dance of equality.

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  11. Hello Dr. Sorensen, I enjoyed reading your extremely well written article. I agreed with every element of it. As a training psychotherapist many years ago I wandered into a training film for Doctors created by the Pharmaceutical Industry. The point of the film was to warn Doctors about misunderstanding the cause of the depression in the female example in the film. Even though the woman in the film presented with a history of the death of her Mother, a divorce and an ongoing physical illness, the film asserted the REAL cause of her depressive symptoms was a chemical imbalance. I left the film with an open jawed shock at the misinformation, and an understanding of why so many doctors are ill equipped to see their depressed patients accurately.
    I completely agree with your writing about how and why people deny their own emotions and how and why this creates “symptoms”. I actually created a self-help EMDR program that is in many ways ahead of its time. This is a not for profit project and my vision is that future clinicians will take up this template and create self-help recordings that are specific to various traumas. My program focuses on childhood issues but it has been used by the military, domestic abuse, medical trauma, and grief. It is incredibly effective in all those instances. I see that your primary focus is in drug abuse rehabilitation. Please consider giving this program a trial. Most drug abuse occurs in reaction to trauma, and this program has saved several lives. Would you accept one as a gift and to do your own little research? You can write to me at:[email protected]. The program is downloadable to a phone or computer at:

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  12. Great article!

    Just one point I think could have used some additional attention. You wrote that “I am not wrong or faulty, my painful emotions often indicate that something is wrong, which I’m supposed to listen to, understand, and potentially act upon’.” The tricky part is that painful emotions can arise in situations where acting upon them would not be a great idea. For example, a person may have experienced some trauma, now something is reminding them of the trauma, creating feelings of wanting to take extreme evasive action, even though such action would be detrimental to the person in that situation.

    Commonly, this makes the person want to deny or suppress the feeling since acting on it would be unwise, but since the original trauma was terrible and part of the person wants to avoid anything similar at all costs, that part fights back against the suppression, and now the “psychic civil war” is on!

    The solution is to accept the feelings but also to slow down enough to not act on them till more is considered. So one has to find a way to notice the resemblances to the original trauma but also the differences, to chose appropriate responses in the present. One can accept and be kind to parts of oneself that are terrified by resemblances to an earlier trauma, without letting those parts drive decisions.

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    • Pssst!

      If I may say so All “feelings” are “appropriate responses”. Our fear that “feelings” are not causes guarded shut down of emotion. This shut down delays healing.

      Though All “feelings” are appropriate responses, All decisions that come in over and above those “feelings” are made by the rational monitoring impulsive thinking mind and those “epiphenomenon” of guarding thought may not be “appropriate”.

      See it like a couple. She, the “feelings”, is upset and crying. He, the “thinking”, gets pumped up with an impulse to go out in the world and thump “who did this”.

      If he would learn to just let her sob the “feeling” of upset free, a “feeling” so deliciously “felt” throughout her body, this would heal her, and soon she would be laughing, which is a new “feeling”.

      Not “feeling” causes a person to live only in their uptight “logical” mind and decisions and actions. Which are actions so woefully divorced from “feeling” that there is a failure to “feel” the jaw of the passerby person conveniently thumped.

      There are only one or two “feelings” that need to be ignored. Any “feeling” linked to repeated imaginings of sadism or gross vulgarity or murder.

      This is because a “feeling” can be an innocuous pleasure or it can be a warning not to overstep moral boundaries. You do not want to be a “warningless” person. You need that discipline overseeing outrageous reckless behaviour but mostly it is only in those states that a person does need reigning in. Do No Harm.

      But aside from those provisos nearly ALL “feelings” are totally, totally harmless and THE MORE you indulge in them the LESS of a problem they become because they do not linger. They evaporate as you “feel” them just like the sobbing woman’s “feeling”.

      Society is frightening people out of accepting their “feelings”. This results in shutdown of “feelings” to the point where the ponder of behaving with impunity or depravity is met only with numbness and indifference within. These are the new citizens. The benumbed.

      Trauma causes a huge fear of “action” because there is the belief that “behaviour” and “feelings” are the same thing.
      They are not.

      Feelings are SAFE.

      You can joyously feel like smashing up a winning ice hockey team. At no point does it actually happen.

      Indeed, if you feel nothing it may.

      It is the lack of “feelings” that causes violence. Because there is no access to soft and tender “feelings” that would curb such an action.

      The world of “logic” is prefered by masculine cultures. Eighty percent of domestic violence is caused by men. Men have been robbed of their potential to live more luxuriously in their “feelings”. Even women are taught to keep their “feelings” to themselves. It is a societal problem. People are taught to be impressed with impeccable stoicism. Numb heroism.

      Tyrants never look flustred with “feelings”.

      What “feelings” are great at is breaking “actions”. Emotions abort catastrophizing because your mind cannot argue catastrophizingly while you are blowing a bucket of snotters from your weepy nostrils.

      On the subject of deluges I must remind everyone that the Hoover Dam has issues.

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      • I think it is also important to remember that not all “logic” is logical! But I agree completely, it is the suppression of feelings, not the feelings themselves, that lead to real trouble. Not all feelings need or deserve to be acted upon, but all of them can be safely EXPERIENCED, and in fact, feeling “negative feelings,” as people call them, generally leads to them being LESS likely to be acted upon in a destructive way.

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        • I was going to say “correct” but laughing at myself here the word sounds too “logical” so instead I give you my “feeling” of lovely joy that you commented on my comment so kindly…but wait…there is more…I give you my lovely joy that you “feel” a nice “feeling” for yourself…even if you were to disagree with anything I “logically” said.

          The generation of a “feeling”, whatever emotion it is, is like a process of digestion of food from the outside world. Your own body may use the food to mend specific repairs that I do not have, and visa versa. Two people can eat the same kippers but each will digest that outer experience or article differently. Reading any article is like munching on food. But “logic” in the society and percolating as an additive in the article will try to convince two different readers that they SHOULD not only NOT FEEL anything about a scholarly or argumentative article but that IF they do feel anything it must be rationally explained and uniformly unanimous.

          Humans do not eat food like that.

          At a Parisan restaurant the chef comes up to the two different people and is ecstatic if they taste anything at all, and is even more pleased if they taste completely unique experiences. That becomes the miracle. Not that the dish is a success.

          God is a chef.

          Send the dish back if ever it seems overly “pious” or “logical” or displeases your feelings. Your wellbeing is more important than the dictates of froo froo “logical” confections.

          You are not here to entertain the world with your obedience.

          You are here to derive nourishment from the world.

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    • Mr. Unger, you’re not talking about feelings, in fact you’ve misrepresented them. Feelings when really allowed WILL have the intelligence to know whether it’s safe to express them. And will lead to a safe place. And to separate such intelligence from feelings is quite intrusive, as if the person doesn’t have that kind of intelligence. In fact allowing feelings will find answers that such analysis never will, even when you think YOU have the answer because you’re being rational. If the rational mind had sway over life, I don’t even want to consider what evolution would have ended up being.

      But thank you for pointing out once again what kind of a mind expletive-deleted to avoid.

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  13. “Rather, the aim is to break the vicious cycle by intervening at the belief level, primarily by bringing about experiences that challenge and disprove the beliefs.”

    When the “therapeutic space” attempts to disprove beliefs rooted in narratives that the dominant classist, racist, patriarchal, gender biased, queerphobic, ableist hegemony will not and cannot acknowledge, this is called EPISTEMIC VIOLENCE, or more popularly, GASLIGHTING.

    MINDFULNESS as practiced by the anglo-western-psycho-hegemony has proven to be RETRAUMATIZING for those who have lived through sustained violence and abuse. Not to mention alienating to those raised in the eastern traditions from which you borrowed and sanitized. Not to mention offensive to those with extensive experience and understanding of how this tool of RELIGION has been used to suppress the political conscientiousness of the oppressed classes time and time again.

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  14. Thank you very much Anders for this article. I find it to be a very intelligent and convincing assessment of the causes of psychological distress and how to alleviate it. I am sharing this with a good friend who is currently having panic attacks, along with a list of some online Health & Wellness classes offered for free at Kaiser Permanente.

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  15. Hi Anders

    You have left the problem of deciding which of the estimated 500 schools of psychotherapy one should prevail. You appear to have presented from a CBT perspective – but what if you had presented from a psychoanalytic perspective, or a solution focused brief therapy perspective, etc etc. Its a veritable Tower of Babble situation as these various schools compete in the market place. Most are like religions in that they require both practitioner and “client” to accept certain assumptions – in your case that it is possible to have meta-cognitions – cognitions about cognitions – which has been questioned by some philosophers. Just as psychiatry has got a significant number of people f..ed up on drugs, so too do a number of psychotherapies get people hooked on a set of metaphysics – which may turn out to be equally harmful. First do no harm.

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  16. Hello Dr. Anders,
    I enjoyed your extremely well written article very much. I am very much in agreement. If you google my name, you will see a program that could aid your work. This could change mental health delivery. It is a hard to resist invitation for clients to deal with their deepest emotions. I will try and contact you through Facebook. Respectfully, David Busch, LCSW

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  17. Stephen King once offered advice to upcoming writers looking for feedback on their work:

    “If you ask ten people to read your piece and five of them dislike the same part, then change it. However, if you get ten different opinions then you can safely disregard all of them.”

    I have found the same to be true when it comes to psychotherapists. While they do not prescribe dangerous medications, they are still far from being harmless.

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  18. The description in this of different labels such as depression or PTSD don’t seem to match DSM description or my understanding. For example, PTSD is far more complex & powerful than “avoidance”. Research shows a theory that the amygdala encodes those memories differently. Later when something triggers the PTSD response, the person becomes overwhelm with emotion– their limbic system giving a high arousal response *as if the event was happening right now*. It actually takes for the person to identify the trigger(s) and only then is the choice to avoid made. Avoidance is a coping mechanism; it isn’t the real problem. I’m not aware of cognitive therapy that is showing peer reviewed & significant results for the root cause. You cannot reason your way to not having that hyperarousal response. When it happens, all the positive self talk or “choosing” to dismiss it doesn’t doesn’t anything. The thinking part of the mind becomes secondary. Do you really believe a positive outlook & confidence in coping skills can somehow undo a profoundly negative-emotion encoded memory?

    Same goes for depression. It’s far worse than negative self image & giving in to discouraging thoughts. In some people, it’s an inability to string together complex thoughts– a brain fog — that makes even simple tasks like taking a shower seem too hard to deal with. Depression can take away a person’s ability to control the focus of their attention, to the point where normal negative physical sensations (background pain) become overwhelming. Some people may feel so unable to think and move, expecting them to show up to therapy regularly is unreasonable. It’s an insult to their intelligence to tell a chronic sufferer of major depression that they’re still depressed because they don’t believe the right things. It comes across as sounding like the layperson advice to a depressed friend: “Your life isn’t that bad. You can get over it. Stop believing you can’t. Get over it.”

    One thing you may with me about is the belief in therapy that stressors make symptoms far worse. Things that can really add to a person’s burden: shaming them, telling them they’re not trying hard enough to believe they’ll get over their issue, in a way blaming them for their own failure to get better. Invalidating their experiences & self knowledge. It almost borders on “gas lighting”: telling someone you know better than they do who they are & what they want to believe. In my opinion these things are more harmful than constructive.

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  19. It is encouraging to find that some psychologists are not going along with the current psychiatric way of doing things.

    However, I would like to point out that the original meaning of “-iatry” refers to a “healing practice.” Though today that gets conflated with “doctors” and “medical” those are associative meanings and not necessarily the original meaning.

    That psychiatry in its current form has failed to live up to the meaning of its name is obvious. But so has Medicine in general. At least to the extent that it ever intended to be a healing art.

    Though I don’t see any detailed examples of how Dr. Sørensen operates, his comments remind me of the work of people like Jordan Peterson who take a didactic and persuasive approach to mental health, similar to how a “life coach” would operate. While there are many people willing to take this route in therapy, what about all those who are not?

    Kelly Brogan, for example, runs a very successful program for her clients that uses no drugs stronger than vitamins. But her clients must be willing to show up and pay her fee. I can only imagine that it is similar for anyone out there practicing some form of non-medical therapy. Can you get insurance to pay for such work? If not, then you are left with mostly well-to-do and more highly motivated clients.

    The methods I espouse run into the same problem. Practitioners want to make a living at what they do, but insurance won’t pay for it (even though it is highly effective). So they are left to serve the well-to-do.

    Clinical psychologists like Anders, Jordan and now even Kelly are getting closer to what is really going on with people. But they haven’t made it yet. Those who have are still considered to be outliers, or quacks. When clinical psychologists start talking about their subject – the psyche – in proper spiritual terms, then I will be even more encouraged. So, keep going! Hopefully you will catch up in time to make a difference!

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  20. I would like to hear from a person/people who has been into therapy and can list exactly what was “hurting” before that has “healed” in psychotherapy.

    The reason a lot of people have problem or difficulties in understanding psychotherapy is that:
    Those who recovered cannot articulate exactly what happened (the experience is a fog). But seem to be convinced something happened that is inarticulate and often they are still struggling or still in therapy but their belief of being “helped” is strong.
    Those who did not recover have hard time finding what may work or struggle with the process.

    Until there is a real experience of a person who recovered and can articulate what exactly worked, it is no different than seeing a shaman (and even this is stretch) because shaman process does not take years.

    almost every research is from the POV of the therapists/researches. I need a real experience of recovery from a real person.

    I am curious how others truly recover in psychotherapy.

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    • I had what was described at the time as a mild depression or might today be termed social unease or something on the autism spectrum. I had no thought of “recovering.” I just wanted to make some adult friends. I had lots of friends when I was a kid.

      One thing my therapist counseled me to do was to simply look more adult. I would describe this now as improving my image or my PR. Though I did this, I don’t know that this was a key action.

      Another suggestion that was more helpful was to find a gradient of social contact that worked for me. She recommended group hikes with Sierra Singles or dance classes. I tried both of these, and out of this I made two good friends – girlfriends. Neither friendship lasted, however, because I did not have a full complement of social skills. I also fell into an amazing year working as a volunteer musician with an ethnic music ensemble in the Bay Area named Gamelan Sekar Jaya. This was a truly great experience for me.

      My therapist also had me study the theory of Transactional Analysis, though she didn’t practice it with me. After I was sold and read a Dianetics book, I cut off my therapy.

      Did I “recover?” Well, I went on to live an amazing life, but I now recognize how much more I would have to do to fully “recover.” Our fall started a long long time ago. With all that mental baggage attached to us, it’s a real accomplishment just to make it through one lifetime. To live with utter confidence for an eternity is going to take a bit more work.

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    • The MYTH OF THE PERPETUALLY FIXED PERSON is pedalled by bullies in professions, ie not all people who work in those professions believe in that myth, BUT ALSO the complainers of such bullies in professions can still be clinging onto the MYTH as if it is a ticket to invincibility. No life is so oblivious to others that they become impervious to let downs and disappointment. So there is no “recovered” to demand or complain about. Humans are ALWAYS A FLOW that is EVER CHANGING. They cannot be “fixed” but they can be cared for and consoled while they fathom for themselves what they can do to improve their choices.

      This can be where bullies in professions can seek to coerce others to follow the bully professional’s own agenda of best choices.

      However, ANY honourable psychotherapist is just a fallible human being who may want to share their insights, as a friend would if they met someone fed up. This is normal human behaviour. It is not devious manipulation. People in any vocation are not a conglomerate lump all the same.

      That is not at all said to dismiss the tragic treatment many in this website have experienced. Outcry is important.

      So is balance.

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  21. Anders…I am here to give you a hug.

    I disagree with comments that lambast what you are endeavoring to do. I hope I did not come across that way. There is a fine wobbly line between artful sparring wit and criticism and outright rejection. People these days get more therapy from lambasting than treating strangers with cordial regard. It is high time article writers told commenters to keep opinions to themselves if those are devoid of any semblence of civil manners. Asking for politeness is not oppression. It is a basic human right. Some commenters in past articles seem to say that you won’t help “the people” or “everyone”.

    I do not believe you are so delusional as to preposterously seriously think that way. You have no intention of helping “the people”. What repellent nightmare that phrase has come to mean. As if to not be helping all nine billion people makes you a persecutor of those nine billion people. It is a guilt trip phrase used in bullying. Wear the “right” clothes or “the people” will see you. Rather I think what you offer Anders is one food source that undoubtedly will save some people. Probably many more than armchair critics. I am wanting you to know that I fully feel happiness at what you are offering to so many people. I know it is not going to mend all people. And what is this demand for mending anyway. There is not one person on planet Earth who could not do with an immediate response to that want of mending. Especially dictators. We are not born to be broken but neither are we born to be completely mended.
    It is “unreasonable” to expect a blissful existence twenty four seven without becoming a bastard to everyone else. At some stage a person matures to know that their want of “fixing” forms part of a long long long sad queue.

    Everyone is forgetting how to be an activist about the queue and are instead using activism to punch anyone in the same long queue who comes up with only an idea that will only help some individuals. But how can any one person fix everyone. Are they meant to be the Messiah? Jesus!
    And are such idea generating plucky individuals allowed “freedom of choice” to choose “how” they might like to help some people? Or is everyone now only to help anyone in a particular person’s gold standard way, a one monoculture way masquerading as a new orthodoxy, to replace former “consensus opinion”. Which is really just the same thing.

    Yes, a revolution is needed at times to look into why people are more broken than fixed and why there are long queues and why any queues are needed anyway if communities can come the healer instead. But what I often sense these days is a growing trend of “blaming” this person, that person, the next person, on and on and on. I believe some of it is a consequence of living in a society that chronically tells peoples to be so “logical” that they become truly ill inside, argumentative and not relaxed. In some of those persons that illness is what causes a cry to be fixed. But because crying looks “illogical” then “a reason” for that ill state of separation from “feelings” arises and one of the things “reasoning” persons like to do is say it is…

    “All your fault”.

    As if “you” are “not right” but are “wrong”. Since “reason” likes to be judgey.

    Some commenters treat articles too heavily in my opinion. NO ARTICLE will bring about THE MYTH OF THE PERPETUALLY FIXED PERSON.

    Confusingly, many of the fine passionate comments are shouting that very same truth. But the shouting is anger and all anger has fear of loss within it and therefore out comes a demand to be fixed of that fear of loss. So what I think everyone, myself included, gets swept up in is picking on anyone who has not fixed us all yet, and I mean ALL, every man, woman and child on planet Earth. That is a bit of a tall order. In fact I believe it is an unhealthy order, to tell strangers to hurry up hurry up hurry up and fix the mess. Who do we think we are to speak so vengfully for our not being whole and entire from a complete stranger who is only trying to offer comfort in a ghastly world? One frail human being who is a stranger!

    Nobody knows dear Anders if you have terminal prostate cancer or a goodbye letter from a partner waiting on a hall table or a horrible history of child abuse to cope with. Nobody knows and nobody seems to care. And I believe that is a problem in our world. Each individual human’s lack of capacity to “feel” enough to “feel compassion”.

    Some have picked up on the way preachiness comes from a religious mindset out to convert the dim. Indeed, bullies do use the draw of religious hope to start pedalling an over emphasis on “logic”, which is why religions that begin as the epitome of love and charity can turn paralysing with dogma and rules. It is NOT religion or politics that is a bully. It is that bullies will ALWAYS find an entrance hatch into the inner sanctums of such and proceed to try to do the very daft stunt of “saving the planet” from a “them”. Them who are invariably the messy “feeling” types who have an annoying tendency to invoke emotion in the “rational” nitpicking bullies. In this way bullies clear out any “feeling” or “caring” people from religions and politics and turn those once benevolent good forces in the world into lit bonfires of hatred and war. They turn whoever is left into puppets on strings who agree to nod while men, women and children are being pitchforked into an “improved” future.

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    • You seem to think you know what we are thinking and feeling when we post critical comments…you wouldn’t happen to be a therapist would you? ;P

      All joking aside and speaking of assumptions, it is the confident assumptions that mental healthcare professionals regularly make – minus the accountability when they are so wrong that they harm the patient – that is probably the biggest objection I have about the industry.

      I really hope this guy has the answers. But a couple hundred years of similar pronouncements by would-be healers means extreme caution is a good bet.

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      • I am free to hold my own opinions. As are thee.

        I am against people telling people they cannot have feelings or thoughts or that they cannot imagine themselves posessed of abilities to perceive the thoughts or feelings of other people on a beach or hiking or shopping. It is called rumination. It is natural. People like to do people watching because we are primates. Ever curious and fascinated by similarities and differences.

        I am free to feel and think anything I like. I am free to have assumptions. I am free to have animalistic and therefore logically “wrong” assumptions since I cannot possibly know a stranger just by a few black and white lines in a small comment. My opinions are like songs or poems. Songs and poems do not claim to be “right” for every listener. If that had to be worked out before hand then the world would have no poetry or music in it.

        Did you know that developmentally music is the first language of the human species. Consider cave peoples. Consider whales.

        I do oration. If it does not resonate switch off. But I believe your query was said in friendly interest. If I say yes I am a therapist what will that mean to you. What added bit are you needing?

        Some like to think I am not schizophrenic because I am lucid. This dumbed down idea of the schizophrenic ought to stop. It condescends Robert Whitaker’s notion that coming off antipsychotics indeed restores one’s prior erudition. Since hardly any schizophrenics can bear to come off meds, faced with nothing to take the place of those drugs, you may find me unusual in my verbosity. And adding that to my occasional dislike of any blanket idea of a people group, as if comprising only good or only bad people, you may think I am loyal to those you may think bad, and this may cause you to wonder at my presumed loyalty, as if the inspiration to be more loving to people is an oversight by a dim yet verbose schizophrenic.

        I truly aspire to be dim. I am working on it every day. Intelligence has never been my friend. I prefer to be a complete idiot.

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        • @ Daiphanous Weeping: Of course you are free to have an opinion. But if I feel your opinion about MY opinion is wrong or a misrepresentation, I feel it necessary to either defend myself or to try to clarify myself. In this case, it is my perception that you have mischaracterized critiques of psychotherapy and/or the author here as being bitter and reactionary, and appear apologetic to the author who belongs to a group of professionals who many of us have legitimate reasons to criticize. But correct me if I’ve gotten it wrong.

          I joked that you might be a therapist because in my experience, some therapists think that they know what the patient is thinking and feeling better than the patient does. It is based on the assumption that the patient has unconscious defence mechanisms that are keeping their true feelings and motivations hidden. Sometimes that is the case, but not always. I don’t know what therapists say to schizophrenic patients, but I’ve heard some doozies and each time they missed the mark it harmed me, and my mental health further declined, suffering “a death by a thousand cuts”.

          “Did you know that developmentally music is the first language of the human species. Consider cave peoples. Consider whales.”

          Yes. I get it. I am a multi-disciplinary artist. I am a visual artist, a musician, songwriter, designer, builder and inventor among other things. I would have made a damned good caveman! (Maybe I was born 20,000 years too late?) I don’t say that to impress anyone or to assert my authority, but to highlight the primary reason therapists have gotten me wrong all these years. Because most of them still DON’T get it, “IT” being creativity, free-spiritedness and the necessity for the highly creative person to defy conformity, expected norms and to be easily understood.

          “I truly aspire to be dim. I am working on it every day. Intelligence has never been my friend. I prefer to be a complete idiot.”

          I am a fool. In a couple ways in my creative life, literally. My screen name means “nobody”. I have seen glimpses of what I believe a “healthy” state of mind is whilst in a flow state whether it be engaged in a creative act or while going extremely fast on a gravity vehicle of one sort or another. Sadly, that state of blissful idiocy is fleeting but keeps me seeking. Have a good day.

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          • I have the human right to hold my own opinion. A person, any person, may think I hold the “wrong” opinion for their way of perceiving what the “right” opinion “should be”.

            Bear in mind that my opinion is not an act of bullying. It is merely a thought I have arrived at.

            They may proceed to attack my opinion by saying they need to be defending their opinion, which may really be a way of saying I am not allowed to hold my own opinion, or thought or feeling, I have to have theirs.

            Mr Anders is a human being who works in a profession, like school teachers work in a profession, or brick layers work in a profession. Working in a profession does not dehumanize the human being even if they are a sewer cleaner or a ratter or nurse mopping up vomit or street worker. Someone might work in a profession that you have an opinion on, and that is fine. An opinion is an opinion. But if it means they are less than what you think they should be that goes a step beyond a mere opinion and seems to use the same cold “logic” that is always used to single out and oppress any human who belongs by birth or class or choice or mistake to any place or biology or faith or employment and shun them. Usually without ever having met them. This is how some in psychiatry used to get away with dehumanizing.

            The impulse to dehumanize comes from an inability to empathize.

            It is not the duty of the one who is being dehumanized to get the dehumanizer to give them a “logical reason” to “feel emotional”.

            I know of no therapist who is so superhuman that they do not from time to time come out with lame or even insulting trivialities. So WHAT !

            If you read any of my early vintage comments you will see I am of the opinon that a therapist does their finest work when they feel free to offend enough to SPEAK THE TRUTH. Often this is what people want after a lifetime of being deceived by family. This truth talking holds good in any human relationship. I do not mean permission to be a bully. I mean permission to give authentic responses.

            Recent seizing on “words” by bullies means a new orthodoxy has been enshrined that declares “words” are harmful weapons. This is as bad as saying a person’s digestion or breathing is harmful to whoever is in charge. Historically psychiatry victimized humans merely because of their “ill” use of words. Now antipsychiatry is inheriting that lust for power over.


            I had hoped antipsychiatry was that beacon of justice.

            Sadly I am disillusioned.

            A den of vipers at least only bites who physically touches them.

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          • @ Daiphanous Weeping: There is no need for name calling. No one is preventing you from sharing your opinion. I for one am neither dehumanizing nor ostracizing the author of this piece who is free to chime in at any time. Like you, I am merely sharing my OPINION, borne not from malice or the desire for power or to bully but from legitimate concerns borne from personal experiences, as is my right.

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    Anders, along with the metaphorical hug of appreciation have also a song from me. A climate change song. Years ago I got given an indication that a time would arise where nobody would believe climate change was occurring. Everyone would instead find it too unbelieveable and so would block it out. Like the palace courtiers drifting in a 1OO year sleep in the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Pricked on the spinning wheel needle of reason.

    But a time will come when people will wake up to the magnitude of climate change. Something that reason alone cannot “fix”.

    The future is good but people are going through a temporary trial before arriving there. To gain in understanding of what they never needed to change. Their simple affable animal natures.

    I am not human.

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  23. PTSD Illusion

    It’s possible to demonstrate how PTSD operates and how to balance PTSD off, through a very simple Experiment.

    For Example, States of Anxiety seem Very Real, but they eventually SOFTEN – if the ANXIETY is NOT engaged. When this happens the MIND comes back to Normal.

    This phenomenon only needs to be experienced ONCE – to know that it is TRUE.

    Described Brilliantly …:-
    DISSOLVING THE PAIN-BODY: An excerpt from THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle
    (Google in the Heading – to get the text).

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    To Nikhto…I add to my reply just made by giving you a song. It has real whales chatting in it. Best played LOUD. I feel I was unfair to your sincere intrigue. I am not a therapist. I trained as one in a quirky way far back in my past. But the reality is that everyone has been training in therapy, from aunts and uncles to babes in arms, everyone knows “that wordy lingo”, and that is how people are able to spot charlatain therapy. It takes expertise to scoff at experts. I think people are recognising the limits of their fellow human beings to heal them completely and this feels like mass abandonment and a cry for the Mother.

    The study into the origins of human speech surmised that whales as early mammals started communication but that it was music. Music is older than talk. I can hardly wait for the day when humans return to this Mother Tongue and stop bickering over words and sentences.

    But whilst I await that happy hour I play footsie with vocabulary.

    I feel human crying and human laughter contains archaic remnants of our musical patois. I often listen to the music within someone’s voice rather than the artifice of their empty words. Words are decorative gift boxes that we are obliged to hide our feelings in. I say keep the feelings and, as our cousins the whales do, in the blue freeness, immerse yourself in them.

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  25. I’m glad to read Mr. Sørensen disavows some of the more harmful aspects of traditional psychiatry and mental health services. Others contributors to MIA have called out society’s structure and institutions as dehumanizing and traumatizing. I can see how these perspectives (the latter and Mr Sørensen’s) can be compatible. However, after many years navigating mental health services, my perspective is that it is often ineffective investing in “cognitive therapies” when the underlying traumas (for example, having your legal rights repeatedly flouted by those who have great authority over you–like law enforcement, the courts, even landlords in a context of nearly universal affordable housing scarcity; or chronic failure to secure (other) basic survival requirements; or lifelong experience of pervasive and impoverishing bigotries…) go unremedied. There are probably those who benefit from learning how to better manage their responses to major challenges. What concerns me, though, is the relationship between grave social injustices and the attendant so-called maladaptive cognitive responses. Even the more liberal psychologists seem to lay the burden of responsibility (what are the right thoughts, how to manage stress…) on the shoulders of those already bowed from chronic stressors. Frankly, many may not want to learn how better to manage suffering. They may want only the alleviation of suffering. Barring that, it’s no wonder that suicide rates year over year generally have continued rising. Sadly, I’ve utterly lost faith in social work and psychology to address the causes of many people’s debilitating emotional/cognitive states.

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    • There is a hospital. It has wards for kidney disease, liver disease, lung cancer, leukaemia, bladder stones, and so on.

      Some who are ill with liver disease may be so due to hepatitis infection. Some may be there due to alcoholism. The ones who have cirrhosis may be energized to know that social injustice and poverty triggered their alcoholism, although we all know of some wealthy people who drank to lethal excess. The alcohol harmed liver owners might thrive on direcring their energy to improving “the world” in say banding with like minds to start overthrowing the government. But some in the liver ward have no interest in alcohol and may never have been poor, not as poor as someone in rural sub Sarharan Africa. Those liver havers on the hospital ward may just choose to recognize that they feel ill and that it is nobody’s fault.

      Some people are ill because they are bullied and oppressed.

      Some people are just ill.

      A concern is that when people want everyone on that liver ward to agree to say their illness got given to them “by” some system or group or person this can set up a new form of oppressing those who are just ill.

      Illness is a personal thing. It is personal to you to choose to see your illness in the way you want to. And that choice may be to reframe your illness as never having been an illness but a harm from a “them” or a system. That is all fine. Many feel better on that ward soup.

      But others feel better on different ward soup. The personal choice to see their illness as spiritual or biological or excitingly rare and mysterious. Trying to get those people to disdain of whoever “gave” them their illness is either going to heal them or feel like a imposition or even a form of oppression.

      I do not think the oppression of one gathering of people justifies the fervid oppression of another gathering of people.

      A problem can be where the first gathering deems the second gathering to be complicit bystanders in the first gatherings oppression just by virtue of the second gathering feeling too sick and ill to put their shoulder to the wheel of change. But if sick and ill it could feel like oppression to be cajoled into leaping from their beds to wave a banner they have no interest in. This then means the unwell are fractured into two groups that start to bicker to the degree of becoming hurtful foes.

      I believe the best outcome is to recognize the importance and validity of BOTH of these groups. They each have a different function in the overall health of any community or society. Sometimes illness has nothing to do with politics. Sometimes illness is from oppression from a political regime. I would argue that a regime can often ensue from a lack of balance within the individuals running them and as such regimes can be rigors from the illness in individuals who have been taught to suppress the “feelings” that make “compassion”.

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      • I’m not sure you meant to reply to my comment. I thought I’d recognized that different therapies may work for different people. My first point is that there are many who’re labeled “mentally ill” BECAUSE they suffer grave injustices that are never righted and/or which never stop. Therapy for dealing with ongoing illegality or injustice won’t remove the grave problem which is why some sufferers may seek out suicide instead of lifelong struggle. Other authors here on MIA have already elaborated on this so I don’t think it necessary to do so again.

        My second point is that traditional Western clinical psychology lays a great deal of the responsibility for dealing with emotional problems on victims. Again, this has already been discussed elsewhere in detail. But for many victims of bullying, abuse, bigotry… it’s not helpful to keep learning how to respond to abuse–very often ILLEGAL abuse. What is helpful to us is for the law to do its job and prevent the illegal abuse. That’s sadly not how the law works, though. Modern psychology is far too often complicit in the normalization of abuse and victimization. Readers of MIA have many examples of this in the publications here and elsewhere as well as from our own personal lives.

        While clinical psychology (or any other kind of therapy) may work for SOME people, what sets this practice apart from others (like religious counseling or art/music therapy…) are, among other things, these: 1) clinical psychology wrongly assumes the air of legitimate science when much of it is merely speculation and/or poorly understood personal interaction–how some psychological/emotional stimulus affects an individual or even, for reasons practitioners don’t understand but are quick and even arrogant to assume they do, people statistically; and 2) clinical psychology together with psychiatry have convinced the courts these disciplines and practitioners should be entitled to remove the civil rights of and to use coercion and even deadly force against individuals who haven’t broken any laws. Again, there are many publications that detail all of this.

        Lastly, I stand by my perspective. Clinical psychology and psychiatry do a great deal of harm. But unlike other interventions people voluntarily seek out and are free to disassociate from, clinical psychology and psychiatry have become arms and fists of the state. This, for many of us who have direct experience with these disciplines, makes them repugnant and inexcusable. I’m not arguing that they may not help some people or that different therapies work for different groups but rather that the rest of us shouldn’t be obliged to be their unwilling subjects. So long as these disciplines and practitioners enjoy these state-sanctioned insidious and abusive powers, I will never trust them or their pundits.

        Thanks for the exchange and best regards to you.

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        • Dear TomH,

          There is a very good reason why books have jackets.

          Each book is an experience unto itself. Each book is not meant to hold EVERYONE’s OPINION. Every person on planet Earth. An abundance of books are produced to cater for diverse tastes.

          You have your metaphorical book of fav opinions. You do not want my opinions in your book. I am glad. A world where everyone’s book HAS TO HAVE the exact same opinions would be monotonous. So it is nice to have a selection of books. A choice of books. A choice of fav opinions.

          The trouble with the comments section is it is trying to be a battle of the books. Each person wants to see written only their writing, their word choices, their pet peeves and precious notions. But Lo…

          Along comes a rival, then another rival, then another.

          It is as if these rival books are trying to shred any competing writing, as if trying to edit out what they consider dross that has infiltrated into their chapters.

          Comments sections are tearing up people as if they are mere books.

          Each commenter makes a comment and only wants to see themselves gloriously reflected in it. As if the little reply box were a fabulous Cleopatrian copper mirror. A little lift of mood happens after making a comment. As if clarity wins the book deal. The deal that says you are splendid and wise and all your anguish in life has been for this meaningful moment where you utter into the golden mirror things of outstanding awe and intricacy. But holding up a comment box like it is a restorative mirror, a mirror in which you re-find yourself again and again, from constantly losing who you are, by your having to bow to “logical” critics, becomes a mesmerizing looking glass that obscures the “other” who is reading your comment.

          Is the comment box for your sake or for their sake?

          I ask this philosophically and not meaning “you” as an individual. My use of the word “you” is generic here.

          Is whatever is for your sake the only way they can have whatever is for their sake?

          It is an uncomfortable question. You go on about emotional abuse as perhaps this has damaged whatever was for your sake.

          I have schizophrenia. It is killing me. It is not emotional abuse. I can understand emotional abuse. I can understand cancer and embolisms and toothache. None of those are my pressing concern. They have nothing to do with what is for my sake. Just as schizophrenia has nothing to do with your pressing concerns or whatever is for your sake. We are in completely differents tribes. Our metaphorical books are completely different. They are not meant to read the same. Our books are meant to clash and juxtapose and contradict each other.

          How may we hold together the very different elements we each bring?

          Diaphanous Weeping is not meant to be ThomH and ThomH is not meant to be Daiphanous Weeping.

          Our lives, or sufferings, our solutions for our sufferings are totally unique to each of us.

          Bullying is about pushing the other to think the same and be the same book. Bullying is about neglecting the need for the other to have a voice because that other is seldom witnessed beyond the copper mirror of impressive erudition.

          I can come out with your words.

          You can come out with my words.

          But that would be a sad world impoverished of diversity of belief and feeling and idea.

          MIA began with the ambition to hold all the elements togther. Hold all the unique contradicting individuals together.

          Where ever you find contradiction you are immersed in emancipation.

          It takes courage to let people speak.

          The wounded human tendency is to want to heal self by ensuring that the bookshelf only has one book on it.

          Or the world only has one person in it.

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          • I’m not trying to be dense, really, but I don’t see how your comment applies to mine. I’m not talking about book jackets. I’m talking about the great, lasting harms clinical psychology and psychiatry perpetuate, whatever benefits some find in these disciplines notwithstanding. I’m also not trying to censor anyone’s speech. I’m adding my experience and perspective. If the modern psy-disciplines prove fruitful for others–I’m happy for them. But there’s no excuse to marry these to state powers to coerce and even torture people against their will. Free citizens shouldn’t have to beg to be free of coercion as regards our own private lives and our own bodies.

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          • I think there is a big difference between one citizen telling another one what to think/not to think about their condition, whatever it may be, which I think would be a bad thing, and a person with big social power, like a doctor or psychologist, telling people that “science” says that you have “X disorder” and that it is biological in nature, and that drugs are the solution, especially when there is no scientific evidence that is the case. So I think the two of you may be talking about different subjects. It seems like DW is not liking it if people tell HER that she “is not ill” or that “schizophrenia is not an illness,” which I completely understand and agree with. What I understand YOU to be saying (and I agree with you 100 percent) is that the PROFESSIONS of psychiatry and psychology have intentionally perpetrated misleading or downright dishonest representations of the truth, and that these misrepresentations have damaged those they claim to help. To me, these are completely different subjects, and I hope we can all be careful to make sure we make that distinction. If DS or anyone else wants to frame their experience as an illness or attribute a biological cause, they are free to do so. When a psychiatrist or psychologist or an MD makes that claim about someone ELSE, then it is THEY who are bullying and telling others what to believe about their own condition, without scientific backup for their position.

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          • @ Steve McCrea — “So I think the two of you may be talking about different subjects.” I agree. I also agree that while it’s offensive, it’s a very different matter when one private citizen imposes her/his perspective on another’s (this can be ignored) from when an official with the backing of the state, the courts, and law enforcement does (this is much harder to ignore). And yes, this is one of the most insidious forms of intellectual bullying. Thanks for your points.

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    • Better yet, if we stop insisting everyone thinks they have to be the “we” then everyone can make their own “free choices”. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world that honours your own unique “free choice”?.

      What is coming is the derision of indoctrinators.

      But also the indoctrinated.

      The thing is there is NOT ONE person on planet Earth who is not a vessel of all kinds of indoctrination. Each person won’t call it indoctroctination. Rather they will call it their considered opinon.

      The DECLARATION of HUMAN RIGHTS says BOTH you AND I have a basic human right to hold our “OWN OPINION”.

      In future any person’s own opinion will be called “indoctrination” and such opinions will be confiscated, if not whole living people with innocuous free choices and free opinions.

      It starts with the burning of books and soon becomes the burning of men, women and childen.

      All atrocities are conducted in the name of “we”.

      I prefer to live with the environmentally lighter footprint of only….


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      • Dear L.e. Cox,

        My “I” supports any “free choice” that “I” prefer and this includes any choice I have to like any concept or idea I damn well please. It is called liberation.

        As an “I”, I am also “free” to share my preferred ideas and concepts. It is called having a voice. Something that those who are genuinely and severely ill mentally or severely ill physically are historically often coerced out of airing.

        MIA, as far as its welcome mat appears to explain to ALL site visitors, is an impartial venue for rethinking psychiatry. If it is just about rethinking government then I am in the wrong place. As a rethinker of psychiatry I would like to use words like mental illness in order to explore what these words mean “to me”.

        I think you might be surprised to know how many schizophrenic people are eccentrically conventional. I know some who think the police are miracle Jesus disciples or bunnies dressed up in uniforms. I am saying here that to call their preferences to use words like mental illness “a mental illness” is profoundly rejecting of their basic human right to describe and see their universe in any way they damn well please.

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  26. I don’t expect it to make any immediate impact, but I would caution everyone to be careful with their generalizations.

    An immediate example is the statement Daiphanous Weeping just made, “All atrocities are conducted in the name of “we”.”

    One doesn’t have to think very far to find contrary examples – the recent shooting of children in Texas is a recent one.

    Our statements seem more powerful when they make some black and white generalization, but if that generalization is not true, they don’t help us understand our actual difficulties.

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      • To Mr Unger,

        I ran out of the reply box. I think the shooting in Texas was horrendous though I would say that even a supposed loner does not get to be a so corrupt in isolation. A baby is born an “I”….

        not a “we”.

        Babies do not murder people. When a boy has the shit kicked out of him for being an “I” by a school gang of “we” , the hatred in the “we” errodes that baby’s “I”…until the baby grows up to buy guns to stop the “them” who are the “we”, and this may be done by aligning, even if only in fantasy, with a conquesting other group of “we”, like the marines, which is what the Texas boy yearned to do. In essence because of the “we” who did not let him be judging himself and explore wearing eyeliner and be himself he was not able to get back in touch with his “I” to know he was full of pain enough to get help.

        When a person is ostracized from any “we” group the shunned one invariably turns into a terrorist. Which is sometimes what the “we” subconciously want him to do, to treat him like the group refuse collector or sick bucket, to cleanse the group of anything within its cohesion of being traitorously “I”. It is as if in order for the “we” to exist the “I” element surfacing in each individual within the group proper has to be driven out like a ritual chasing off of group emotions as if disowned devils. What is being driven out are all the unwanted feelings knocking about within the group, which get lumped as a mass and blamed on the outsider as if he is the miserable container who brought them from nowhere. He then wanders the parks and streets alienated and adrift and reviled and finds himself unable to be either the “we” or the “I”. Then he sees happy loved children all being allowed to be their “I” yet being simultaneously embraced in shared togetherness.

        The boy tortured cats. A human cannot be cruel if they are in touch with their “feelings”. Cruelty is the result of indifference. The absence of “feelings”.

        To be in touch with your own deep “feelings” needs a sense of “I”. As in “I feel sad” or “I feel despair”. Clearly the damaged boy had the benefit of neither “feelings” nor his “I”.

        I am guessing he was born with an “I”.

        I am guessing he was not born with a rifle.

        Something happened to that boy. A “we” left him no choice since to access your sincere emotional choices requires “feeling” which choices you like best.

        I must leave the comments section. It is all too easy for anyone, me included, to snip and bicker in it and whilst this can feel healing more often it is just adding fuel to the fire. I do not believe people want to be proved “right”. I believe people long to be held.

        Like all the poor dead children in Texas.

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        • @ Daiphanous Weeping — “I would say that even a supposed loner does not get to be a so corrupt in isolation.” From the deluge of social media comments on the recent tragedy and similar ones in the US, it’s obvious that your brave position is often unpopular. But I agree with you that we ought to be thinking about how individuals’ social experiences before they might commit horrendous acts influence their choices. It’s sad and frustrating we can be so lax often on bullying–especially when the popular or powerful do it, for example, but then express outraged when bullying contributes to more pain.

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    • Somehow, I don’t think the shooting of children in Texas was done by someone who actually created the ridiculous indoctrinations that:
      1) Guns are necessary.
      2) When Angry get violent and act out (I think that’s more a “we” thing, and “general” given the way people behave: what’s in the “entertainment” that there are jails, militaries, even street gangs etc,)
      IN FACT the shooting of children in Texas is more a display of how RIDICULOUS those beliefs are, when someone is lost how to behave. In fact the whole media blitz about that, while excusing Ukraine (as if there’s a solution there thanks to violence from EITHER side), denying what’s been going on in Yemin, all of Africa, the other places like Iraq and Afghanistan decimated. The “we” of it is more going on in Ukraine, where all sides excuse it, mostly.. In fact, such beliefs are more general, with all sorts of excuses. The saintly stance of “we don’t do that,” denying the rest of what’s going on…. THAT is a generalization, or worse….

      That there is such investment in manufacturing guns, the whole military industrial complex, that IS a “we” thing, or are there countries that exist as communities WITHOUT such!?

      It is different when someone actually looks into what someone is saying, because most of the people saying “we don’t do that,” are more part of what keeps it going, while folding over supposed moral excuses for what perpetuates the very thought that it leads anywhere but more of what the cause is to stop what result is coming from the cause that’s said to be necessary to stop the result, while the cause is causing the result (sound familiar!?)….

      By saying it is a “we” thing, that points out where the whole idea comes from that such violence has ANY excuse, and why it comes out in such a manner from people that have nothing to hold onto anymore as to how to respond. THAT might have stopped what happened in Texas, when all of the “we don’t do that,” never will.

      Admitting that it’s a we thing, would actually change society, rather than excusing much worse things, as well as what doesn’t change when it’s denied as a we thing…..

      I understand perfectly what Diaphanous weeping is saying, neither do I have to call myself a therapist to do so.

      But of course to dissect things, and when it is fragmented enough, one does have to start going on about black and white, because there’s that “fragment” that’s then……

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      • Thankyou Njinsky,
        I say this also because a previous reply I made to Ron Unger has become part of an unintended mosaic directly after your comment here and so I do not want you think the comment I made to Ron, on “caution” was a reaction to your comment. Steve is very busy planting our bulbs. The comments and replies take a while to reach their own sediment level.

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    • Politely, and with the highest affection, may I say that I do not welcome your “caution”. It smacks of being judged “wrong” for airing my own brilliant opinion. I do not HAVE TO come out with correct “logical” opinions. The mad are wonderfully FREE to come out with rhymes and riddles and curses and incantations and generalizations and party pieces and tunes and expletives and embarrassing revelations. It is called being childish and it FEELS GREAT.

      Let me welcome you.

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  27. I feel for you. I think people should realise that Robert Whitaker is NOT arguing for NO TREATMENT CHOICES. He himself agrees with SOTERIA HOUSE that in some circumstances sick people may die if they do not get a break from symptoms that are driving them into an early grave. Which is why, even though he disbelieves that there is a madness mollecule, he still allows for the possibility of antipsychotic use in the short term. I would infer that this means either he feels they do have some statistical benefit OR he feels their placebo lift has some benefit. It would be pitiful to deny an alcoholic a drink if they feel they cannot exist without it. People ought to stop metaphorically trying to shut down the booze factory by throwing desperate ill alcoholics under a bus.

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  28. Dear Steve, I got engrossed in doing a comment to you on your bit about how people are free to define themselves and their illness but that it is wrong when an organization tells a person what is wrong with them. This is good.

    However, and I must be brief because the long reply I did got zapped by a computer glitch, a person does have a “free choice” to choose to gravitate towards anything that is not good for them, even listening to a bishop or a bishop of psychiatry tell them what is wrong with them. People who veer towards science as their God are no less entitled to their freedom than a Muslim is to go to a mosque, or a Christain is to play a guitar in an evangelical church, or a tourist is to take advice from an overly certain Shaman. People have a right to get up to no good for themselves in psychiatry and psychotherapy and psychology. If these be this years church for those troubled souls then who are you or I to bulldoze their church?

    A problem may be if you are half “in” the same church and you despair of its teachings. If science is a church that has become corrupt in your estimation then you will rightly revile it and choose to leave and find a temple or shrine or nature hilltop that makes you feel much better. But that is “you”. Your individual “free choice” to leave what no longer heals you. If “free choice” is holy then we must let every individual have what is sacrosanct. Even their choice to marry a devil. Sad as that seems. We all want people to follow our example of “best choices”. Partly it is because we care. But it can be because we think our “way” is the path of redemption or perfection and the notion it might not be, if there are options of lots of other choices, causes anxiety that our choice might be “wrong”. This then raises a need to sound rock solidly certain about our better choice, to assauge our uncertainty about where we are going in life. But this posture of certainty means we rush to rubbish anyone elses “free choice” by throwing doubt on what they feel is fine for them. Getting them to doubt their “choice” of “church” shores up the collapsing weight of our own hidden uncertainty about our “choice”. If your choice is so emphatically right for you then there won’t be a need to spit tacks at anyone else’s choice of church or way of life or indoctrination. You would just feel compassionately sorry for them. I am not saying the “you” word to mean you here. I mean generically anyone.

    Science is still your church, as far as I can tell. And seeing science done badly is to you like a Christain seeing Christain love done badly. It is more threatening for us to have “freely chosen” to be in any church and find it growing more corrupt by the hour and yet needing to stay in the church as our “best free choice”, rather than bin scientism itself as hogwash. You still see the beauty of the church of science and it could break your heard to defect from it and join anarchy or mysticism or disinterest in scientific teachings and philosophies. And so you look around at who has bedevilled your lovely church of science and the finger of blame points at psychiatry. They have brought the corruption. They must be made to leave the church. You cannot simply bulldoze their church without bulldozing the church of science, so brick by brick you dismantle parts of the church that pertain to them, in the effort to salvage the “truth” that is in science. That God of Reason. You want to rescue him from charlatains who are using his name to further their agenda.

    But agenda is a big elastic word, as is corrupt. Some women are called corrupt for not wearing a facemask. What seems corrupt to one individual’s sense of “free choice” seems like the answer to fix all of life’s problems to another individual’s “free choice”. So we cannot have the holiness of “freedom of choice” without allowing for the fact that we may find other individuals have made bad or ill or even corrupt choices, according to us. We must tolerate loathing with a venom anyone else’s “free choices” but love that we and they live in a world that lets “freedom of choice for all” come FIRST.

    Even the choice someone has to kill themselves is still a “free choice”. Even the “free choice” to do so with antipsychotics. You can look on caringly and offer great advice. That is wonderful. A Muslim might offer advice to a miserable Christain. Advice is an attempt to influence choice. But influence ought not to be riducule or guilt tripping or intimidation of someone’s “free choice”, even if their choice is to go to university and train to become a Muslim or a Christain or a firefighter or a psychiatrist.

    There is ONLY one stage at which a person’s “free choice” is no longer just that innocuous decision. When a “free choice” hurts other people.

    It is crucial to undertand what is meant by the choice to hurt others. A Christain may be hurtful in what they believe about abortion or divorce or healthy lust. They may eschew these. But when they form a “we” gang that steps beyond celebrating mutual belonging and starts to bully others into HAVING TO believe what they believe then this is where abuse comes in.

    Abuse is not a “free choice”.

    Abuse is an act of violence.

    Abuse cannot be tolerated.

    It is essential to know exactly what is meant by the word abuse. A Jew who chooses to go to a synagog is not abusing any Christains just because they chose not to go to the church.

    Belonging to a “we” group is delightful IF the group are not seeing “enemies” in every “individual”.

    My impatience with the “we” of antipsychiatry is it is going from celebrating union of belief to making an “enemy” out of “freedom of choice”.

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    • I agree with you for the most part. The only objection I’d make here is that psychiatry is not to me “science done badly.” It is pretend “science” used in the service of marketing drugs. You and I both agree that enforcing drugs on people as “the only solution” is oppressive, especially when done so without the consent of the “drugged.” I am adding that pretending that “science” supports such an action, that the reason you should “go along with the program” is because “you have X disorder” or “you have a chemical imbalance in your brain” is not science, but pure marketing, promoting something they know is NOT supported by science as if it were, because it sells drugs.

      If psychiatrists said, “These phenomena happen to people. We don’t know why, but we have discovered some drugs that may stop some of these phenomena temporarily, with x and y adverse effects,” then they’d be a lot closer to being scientific.

      So a person can believe fully in science as a means of determining the truth (or I should probably say, a means of determining what is NOT the truth, as science is a lot better at that) without having a minute to give for psychiatry’s effort to use people’s vulnerability to sell them drugs. I will add that I don’t worship science and recognize its limitations, and have a full spiritual life and believe in lots of things that Science can’t explain. But psychiatry has nothing to do with science, except to the extent that they can study what effects these drugs actually have on people, and they’re not even honest about that.

      I never confuse psychiatry with science. It’s a marketing scheme, plain and simple. You or anyone else can certainly use the psychiatrists’ framing of disorders or diseases if you choose to, and more power to you for it. I even use some of them on occasion. But I don’t view such “disorders” as scientific entities, any more than describing someone as “courageous” or “a slow runner” or “has lovely hair” as scientific descriptions.

      I don’t mind you viewing yourself as “ill” and describing yourself that way. I do mind a doctor pretending that they have proof that I am “ill” and therefore need to accept their “treatment” of me as a legitimate medical practice, especially in the absence of any evidence that they can identify a definitive cause and test me for it in some objective manner. Just as someone is free to be a Christian or a Muslim or a Hari Krishna if they want to, but I object when they start telling me I have to agree with them, especially if they try to claim that “Science proves that Christianity is the ‘right’ religion.”

      I hope that clarifies the point.

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      • “psychiatry is not to me ‘science done badly.’ It is pretend ‘science’.” — Agreed. Regardless what others (professionals, policy makers, or lay) feel about antipsychiatry, there are certain objective criteria of the natural sciences both psychology and psychiatry fail to meet. Still, both disciplines regularly (mis)represent themselves as natural sciences offering reliable answers. So, it’s justifiable for people COERCED to live under the yoke of these psy-disciplines to be angry that their rights and freedoms are circumscribed because of others’ speculations, worldviews, and opinions. I agree with you that other people should feel entitled to buy into psychiatry and psychology if they want, but the rest of us shouldn’t be forced to.

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      • Yeah this is like Palestine and Israel. We need to find an understanding and acceptance that we may never agree on our way of seeing the world. Agreements tend to try reach for the intruments of “logic” to save ego identity and usually it is done to belittle not understand and all belittling is a way of making a wall. Not saying this of your comment Steve. It is just an observation.

        People seldom realise that science is a religion when people invest it with morals. Morals are rather spiritual and “personal” and yet real science is supposed to move above and beyond the spiritual and personal. A person who lionizes sciences feels it must always be perfect and flawless and reasonable. Much like a God or a belief. The faith in such a thing as perfection can be a comfort to anyone reeling from the chaos of an arbitrary cruel world. To take shelter in a cool cathedral of scientific objectivity can reassure people that the world is comprehensible and therefore its cruelty and craziness is controlable in a beneficient way. Like Christianity says to its adherents. When a person believes in science in this way they abide by certain dedications. They forgoe jumping to conclusions. They restrain their need to shout at idiots who do not adhere to science. They try to wrestle with their own selfish impulse to impose their ideas on others if those ideas are not backed up by a stack of analysis. But all of this can easily slide into the realm of becoming a positive regard of self and this can then become a heirarchical or “better than” way of thinking of one’s own personhood. One becomes a priest of science as if science is dogma. Ironically this is what some leaders in psychiatry used to be like as they excused themselves from colonizing indigenous populations. They used a belief in science as a moral good far superior to aboriginal versions of creation.

        Let us suppose I am an aboriginal woman who has a lore or myth or shamanic notion that I took wrong leaves from a bush and now the spirits in those leaves have befevered my brain. This is no different from my believing there is a chemical imbalance. Psychiatry may be my shaman. You may revile him and call him a witch doctor but in your rush to rob me of my choice to belief what I believe, in my choice to like what you may call “bad science”, you might favour your moral preferences over mine. That is totally fine. A person in a church should not be made to be in a temple.

        Now let us consider that we are both aboriginal tribes people in the same tribe called love of science. But parts of what or how I believe in science differ from your way. We are both nibbling leaves and I say the spirits of the leaves affect my brain but you say that is not possible according to science.

        It is like my saying the Virgin Mary spoke to me and healed my sickness but you tell me that it is not possible.

        Science seems to say what is possible and not possible, like biblical legends used to tell people that God could part seas and send plagues and viruses. Things that are arrived at in legends via unscientific methods often do have a grain of truth in them. We now stock our health food stores with rather inscientifically proven shamanic leaves.

        And science itself debunks whatever it held as the only truth only yesterday, as new information complicates or simplifies prior “facts”. So being a science is as shifty and watery as religion and being as both tend to blanket their separate adherents in quasi spiritual certitude, I find certitude preposterous yet enjoyable to preen oneself with. But concluding oneself better than or more morally perfect for believing in a shamanic truth or believing in a scientific truth is to use belief to make others feel immoral. And THAT is an overarching belief in humans that is born of fear.

        Fear cannot arrive at peace. Not unless the “feeling” is fully felt enough for it to be “let go”. What stops the “feeling” of fear from being felt fully until it flows harmlessly away is “reason”.

        “Reason” avoids “feelings”.

        And so the fear stays. It gets a grip and poisons the person’s system with anxiety and anger and a sense of threat.

        There may be good reasons why a person has fear of someone else’s choice of belief but logical arguments will not soothe the fear away. They will only point at why there is a reason to fear. A person explaining why they are now shouting is not the same thing as them understanding and fully experiencing the feeling of despair within their own interior that prompts it. Enough for the feeling to ebb away and peace to be a possibility.

        I must halt this comment now because I do not want to be seen as trying to convert anyone into my tribe. Instead I want everyone to enjoy their OWN BELIEFS. That kind of IS my tribe. An “each individual do your own thing” tribe, follow your own star, be your own explorer of this world.

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  29. Diaphonous, everyone believing that they just need to make their own choices is what has brought us the current state of affairs, with a predatory mental health system. This is a collective abomination. It will end when people see that their is a common interest in eradicating it.


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