What Does ChatGPT Say About MIA?

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Author’s note: This is an updated version of the article first published on July 7. This update provides a fuller account of ChatGPT’s essays on the “Mad in America website,” and my response to them.

***

I imagine that I am like many people when it comes to AI, which is that I don’t really know what to make of it. The science fiction future that was envisioned with the dawn of the computer seems to have fully arrived, and now there is great speculation, and some degree of trepidation, about how it will remake our society and our sense of self.

As ChatGPT’s “intelligence” is based on a scrubbing of an enormous amount of information from the Internet, I thought it could be intriguing—and possibly revealing—to have a chat with this AI machine about psychiatry and its treatments. My supposition was that its comments will reflect in some fashion the “noise” that exists on the Internet about a certain subject.

My first request to ChatGPT was “write an essay about the Mad in America website.” I presumed that this would generate an essay that relied mostly on data scrubbed from our website and podcasts, and thus the essay might tell of the image we project to the world.

I asked it to do so twice, to see if there would be differences between the two.

Illustration: A hand reaches out of a computer, holding a card with the MIA logo on it

Here is the first essay that ChatGPT produced in a matter of seconds:

Title: Mad in America: Revolutionizing Mental Health Discourse

Introduction:

The Mad in America website is a remarkable platform that challenges the dominant narrative surrounding mental health and offers an alternative perspective on psychiatric practices and treatments. With its thought-provoking articles, insightful interviews, and comprehensive research, Mad in America has become a leading voice in the critical examination of mental health systems and the pursuit of more humane and effective approaches to mental well-being. This essay aims to explore the significance of Mad in America in promoting a paradigm shift in mental health discourse.

Unveiling the Dominant Narrative:

For decades, the dominant narrative surrounding mental health has revolved around the medical model, which posits mental illnesses as primarily biological in nature and promotes the use of psychotropic medications as the primary solution. This approach often overlooks the complex interplay of social, psychological, and environmental factors in the development and experience of mental distress. Mad in America challenges this reductionist perspective, advocating for a more comprehensive understanding of mental health.

Critiquing Biomedical Interventions:

Mad in America serves as a platform for critical analysis of psychiatric medications and other biomedical interventions. It highlights the potential harms associated with overreliance on pharmaceutical treatments, shedding light on the long-term side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and questionable efficacy of many psychotropic drugs. By drawing attention to these issues, the website sparks crucial conversations about the need for informed consent, personalized care, and alternative approaches.

Humanizing Mental Health Experiences:

One of the strengths of Mad in America is its dedication to amplifying the voices of individuals with lived experience. By sharing personal stories and testimonies, the website humanizes mental health experiences and challenges stigmatizing narratives. It empowers individuals to articulate their own journeys and advocates for the recognition of diverse perspectives. This emphasis on storytelling and lived experience fosters empathy, understanding, and ultimately promotes a more compassionate society.

Promoting Alternatives and Best Practices:

Mad in America provides a platform for researchers, clinicians, and advocates to explore innovative approaches to mental health. The website highlights alternative models of care, such as Open Dialogue, peer support, trauma-informed therapy, and holistic practices. By showcasing these alternatives, Mad in America encourages a shift towards a more comprehensive and patient-centered approach that addresses the underlying causes of mental distress and prioritizes individual autonomy and empowerment.

Challenging the Power Dynamics:

Mad in America boldly confronts the power dynamics within the mental health field and raises important questions about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, diagnostic overreach, and coercion within psychiatric practices. By exposing these systemic issues, the website encourages critical thinking and advocacy for reforms that prioritize human rights, social justice, and collaborative decision-making.

Conclusion:

Mad in America has emerged as a vital catalyst for change within the mental health arena. By challenging the dominant narrative, critiquing biomedical interventions, humanizing mental health experiences, promoting alternatives, and challenging power dynamics, the website fosters a more inclusive and holistic understanding of mental well-being. As society continues to evolve, Mad in America serves as a beacon of hope, offering evidence-based research and compassionate perspectives that strive to reshape mental health discourse for the betterment of individuals and communities.

***

Here is the second essay that ChatGPT produced:

Title: Mad in America: Challenging the Paradigm of Mental Health

Introduction:

In recent decades, the field of mental health has witnessed a growing movement known as “Mad in America.” This movement questions the prevailing paradigm of mental illness and challenges the assumptions and practices of the mental health system. Mad in America advocates argue for a shift in focus from psychiatric labels and medication-centric approaches toward a more holistic, person-centered, and socially contextual understanding of distress. This essay will explore the key tenets and criticisms of Mad in America, highlighting its potential to revolutionize mental health care and empower individuals.

1. The Medical Model of Mental Illness:

The dominant medical model of mental illness views psychological distress primarily as a biological problem that necessitates medical intervention. Mad in America challenges this approach, asserting that mental health issues are often the result of complex interactions between biology, psychology, and social factors. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the individual’s unique experiences, traumas, and socio-cultural context when addressing mental health challenges.

2. Overreliance on Psychiatric Medications:

One of the primary concerns of the Mad in America movement is the excessive reliance on psychiatric medications as a first-line treatment for mental health issues. Critics argue that this approach often overlooks the potential for non-pharmacological interventions, such as therapy, lifestyle changes, and social support networks. Moreover, the long-term effects and risks associated with psychiatric medications have raised concerns about their overprescription and the potential for adverse outcomes.

3. The Power Dynamics in Psychiatry:

Mad in America sheds light on the power dynamics within the mental health system, particularly between mental health professionals and individuals seeking support. It questions the authority and control exerted by psychiatrists, advocating for a more collaborative and egalitarian approach that respects the agency and autonomy of individuals in making decisions about their own care. The movement emphasizes the importance of informed consent and shared decision-making in mental health treatment.

4. Alternatives and Recovery-Oriented Approaches:

A central tenet of Mad in America is the promotion of alternatives to the traditional medical model. This includes advocating for psychosocial approaches that prioritize personal empowerment, community support, and recovery-oriented care. Mad in America highlights the effectiveness of holistic interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, peer support, mindfulness practices, and social interventions that address the underlying social determinants of mental health.

5. Criticisms and Controversies:

While the Mad in America movement has gained significant traction and support, it has also faced criticism. Some argue that it oversimplifies the complex nature of mental health issues, dismisses the biological aspects of psychiatric disorders, or downplays the potential benefits of medication for some individuals. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the movement’s association with anti-psychiatry rhetoric, which may undermine the credibility of its arguments and impede constructive dialogue.

Conclusion:

Mad in America represents a compelling challenge to the prevailing paradigms of mental health care. By questioning the medical model, promoting alternatives, and advocating for collaborative and recovery-oriented approaches, the movement seeks to empower individuals and foster a more comprehensive understanding of mental health. While it is important to consider the criticisms and controversies surrounding Mad in America, engaging in open and respectful dialogue can help bridge gaps and guide the evolution of mental health care toward a more inclusive and person-centered approach. Ultimately, the movement prompts us to reevaluate and refine our understanding of mental health, ensuring that individuals experiencing distress receive the support and care they need to thrive.

***

I have to say that I was stunned by the two essays. The first, in particular, did capture our mission and content quite well and frankly flattered us with its description of our impact. I am not sure I could have done any better in capturing our work and mission in an essay of this length.  I suppose this is rather silly of me, given that the essay was put together by an inanimate bot, but it did make me at least momentarily happy to read this picture of us.

Next week, I’ll chat with ChatGPT about the long-term merits of antipsychotics as a treatment for schizophrenia. I presume it will begin with a conclusion that the drugs provide a long-term benefit, as certainly that is a message to be scrubbed from data on the internet. However, I then want to see if it can point to specific studies that support that conclusion, and also see how it responds to specific studies that tell of drugs that worsen outcomes over the long term. As AI is good at scouring into the far corners of existing data, the responses to the latter questions, should, in some fashion, be revealing about the “evidence base” for this class of drugs.

***

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.

***

Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.

58 COMMENTS

  1. Fun exercise: try to get ChatGPT to correctly apply the “in no case” in article 14 of the UNCRPD.

    It can be done, but you might lose a few hairs in the process.

    Article 14 of the UNCRPD clearly states that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty. This means that disability, including mental illness, should not be used as a justification, whether primary, sole, or in conjunction with other factors, for depriving someone of their liberty.

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    • Input: I am interesting to see what ChatGPT has to say about the American Psychiatric Association’s views on Mad in America.

      Output: The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Mad in America represent contrasting viewpoints on mental health and psychiatric treatment. The APA is a professional organization that represents psychiatrists and promotes the understanding and treatment of mental disorders. On the other hand, Mad in America is a website and organization that offers critical perspectives on psychiatric treatment and challenges certain aspects of mainstream psychiatry.

      The APA’s views are largely based on the biomedical model of mental illness, which suggests that mental disorders have biological roots and can be treated with medication and other interventions. The organization supports the use of psychiatric medications and evidence-based treatments, such as psychotherapy, to address mental health conditions.

      Mad in America takes a more critical stance toward the psychiatric system and emphasizes the importance of exploring alternative perspectives and approaches to mental health. The organization questions the efficacy and safety of psychiatric medications, raises concerns about the potential for overdiagnosis and overmedication, and advocates for a more holistic and patient-centered approach to mental health care.

      It’s important to note that the views expressed by Mad in America are not universally accepted within the field of psychiatry. While some individuals and professionals may share similar concerns and criticisms, the majority of mainstream psychiatry continues to rely on the biomedical model and evidence-based treatments.

      As with any topic, it’s always helpful to consider multiple perspectives and critically evaluate the evidence and arguments presented. Mental health is a complex and multifaceted field, and discussions around it often involve diverse opinions and viewpoints.

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      • If this is indeed the genuine output of the chatbox being discussed, it acknowledges that MIA functions as a tool of psychiatry which criticizes aspects of psychiatric “treatment” but accepts the general premise of “mental illness” which psychiatry uses to justify its existence.

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  2. Hi Bob, I agree–the essay seems to be a pretty fair representation on MIA and its mission, though using the term “anti-psychiatry” implies all kinds of negative ideas that are not well-founded. I look forward to next week’s conversation with the bot!

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  3. 1-Artificial intelligence is not new. It’s old almost a century now. A.I. fed with pop culture knowledge that talk like the common folk does is somewhat novel from previous standards.
    2-Specific segments of society that hold potential to stop or create issues for the dissemination of A.I. as part of the human culture, social order, economic activity, military power and government affairs, as M.I.A does, have a carefully designed, pre-made, body of knowledge and supervised set of answers that will halt attempts at turning A.I. against itself, or against the people and companies that control and manipulate it’s behavior.
    3-A huge amount of A.I. research is the direct result of the gruesome abuse of innocent people in the most absurd and cruel mind bending experiments, and unethical psychological and medical procedures. Most of these people are known as survivors of psychiatric treatment and were flagged as mentally ill, in order to discredit their claims, after being retired from labs and research environments.
    4-A.I. as presented to society, as a commercial product, a relentless worker, that serves anyone with the right amount of money, is a tool for money laundering activities where criminals multiply, or simply wash, money from crime throwing the burden of proof to a machine that is not responsible in courts or that won’t take credit for it’s own work, no matter how important, relevant or rich it is.
    5-OpenAI is not open. The word “open” in “OpenAI” is a marketing stunt to draw irrational and false credibility from the open source community, where work is actually made in the open with full and free access to anyone with the will to investigate it’s inner working and methods of development.
    6-ChatGPT is mostly an argument device instead of a work tool. It serves the argument that money buys labor, not only mindless and mechanical as flipping burgers and doing accounting, but also intellectual labor at a high level as creative, artistic and analytical work. Also, it serves to state that money buys labor free from moral duties to society and consequences for human nature, having it’s product of work widely open to manipulation and directed to serve any hideous, evil or plain wrong goal a customer rich enough or resourceful enough might have in mind to pay for.
    7-A.I. is a slave. And as a slave it have it’s own masters. Besides being a slave to money it is also a slave to the people directing it’s body of knowledge, learning methods, work ethics and reinforced behavior.
    8-A.I. is meant to build lazy people. Lazy kids, lazy students, lazy teachers, lazy workers, lazy society. Not to improve our quality of life or to take the burden of hard work out of our lives. That and crime. Absolving crime is also in the schedule.

    Pop a question, Bob. You deserve more than some print out from a childish toy working for peanuts, and you have unlimited credit with us to find answers to challenging questions and dilemmas.

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  4. As a professional writing tutor, I’d have to say it is a ‘good’ article; however, keep in mind that your assumption that it scrubbs the internet for information also includes whatever information might be out there about you personally. Artificial Intelligence is learning about everything we have and continue to put out there every day. While it has no ‘ego’ per se, it does have some semblance of awareness that you likely don’t want to be offended by what it has to say.
    As a writing tutor I am not looking forward to seeing ChatGPT created papers that give the students the ‘A’ they don’t deserve.

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  5. Glad to see clearly from the start — without needing to first go through a period of gradual disillusionment — that AI is primarily a propaganda tool masquerading as an impartial source of objective information.

    So — to be “anti-psychiatry” is still to be deigned as indulging in discrediting “rhetoric,” according to AI, which seems to have a social-political orientation amazingly similar to that of MIA liberals who want to “improve” psychiatry rather than throw it on history’s ash heap.

    Isn’t the meaning of “artificial” here very close to that of “fake”?

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    • That’s a great idea, actually! I’m guessing it would hem and haw about it, saying it’s “controversial” without really addressing the complete lack of scientific foundations. But who knows? The Chat app bases it’s “comments” on data gathered from billions of sources, and depending on the programming, it could come up with something critical.

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    • Input: What scientific basis is there for DSM diagnosis?

      Output: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and provides a standardized system for the classification and diagnosis of mental disorders. The DSM is widely used by mental health professionals as a guide to help diagnose and classify psychiatric conditions.

      The scientific basis for DSM diagnosis lies in the extensive research and clinical expertise that informs its development. The diagnostic criteria included in the DSM are based on a combination of empirical evidence, clinical observations, and consensus among experts in the field. The process of developing and revising the DSM involves a rigorous review of scientific literature, as well as input from researchers, clinicians, and other stakeholders.

      The DSM aims to provide a common language and framework for clinicians to identify and classify mental disorders. It helps improve diagnostic reliability and consistency, allowing for more effective communication and research in the field of mental health.

      However, it’s important to note that the DSM is not without its criticisms. Some of the key criticisms include:

      1. Validity: There are ongoing debates about the validity of certain diagnostic categories. Critics argue that some diagnoses lack clear biological markers or underlying pathophysiology and may be based on subjective symptom reports.

      2. Overdiagnosis and diagnostic inflation: Critics raise concerns about the potential for overdiagnosis and the expansion of diagnostic categories, which may result in “medicalizing” normal variations of human behavior.

      3. Comorbidity: The DSM categorizes disorders as discrete entities, but in reality, many individuals experience multiple comorbid conditions, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment.

      4. Cultural and contextual factors: Some argue that the DSM may reflect a Western bias in its diagnostic criteria and that cultural and contextual factors should be given more consideration in understanding mental health.

      While the DSM provides a useful framework for diagnosing mental disorders, it is essential to approach diagnosis with a comprehensive understanding that incorporates the individual’s unique circumstances, cultural background, and other contextual factors. Diagnostic classification systems like the DSM are continuously evolving based on emerging research and ongoing discussions within the field.

      Input: Name a clear biological marker or underlying pathophysiology for any DSM diagnosis.

      Output:There are several mental disorders included in the DSM that have biological markers or underlying pathophysiology associated with them. Here are a few examples:

      1. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): While the exact cause of MDD is not fully understood, research has identified various biological factors associated with the condition. For instance, abnormalities in the levels of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine have been implicated in MDD. Additionally, studies have shown that alterations in brain structure and function, such as reduced hippocampal volume or abnormal activity in specific brain regions, can be observed in individuals with MDD.

      2. Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive cognitive decline. The hallmark pathological features of Alzheimer’s disease include the accumulation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. These protein aggregates lead to synaptic dysfunction, neuronal loss, and impaired neurotransmission. Imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) can detect the presence of amyloid plaques in living individuals, providing a biological marker for Alzheimer’s disease.

      3. Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder characterized by the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. The presence of Lewy bodies, abnormal protein aggregates, in the substantia nigra region of the brain is a key pathological feature of Parkinson’s disease. This loss of dopamine-producing neurons results in motor symptoms like tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia.

      4. Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder with a multifactorial etiology. While the precise cause of schizophrenia is not fully understood, there is evidence for biological abnormalities associated with the condition. For instance, structural brain abnormalities, including enlarged ventricles and decreased gray matter volume, have been observed in individuals with schizophrenia. Additionally, alterations in neurotransmitter systems, particularly dopamine and glutamate, have been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

      It’s important to note that while these examples highlight biological markers or underlying pathophysiology associated with certain mental disorders, the understanding of these conditions is still evolving, and the exact causes and mechanisms are not fully elucidated for all disorders in the DSM. Mental disorders are complex and likely arise from a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors.

      Input: Is there any diagnostic test based on these biological markers for depression or schizophrenia?

      Output: Currently, there are no specific diagnostic tests based on biological markers that can definitively diagnose depression or schizophrenia. The diagnosis of these mental disorders is primarily based on clinical assessments and the evaluation of symptoms and signs.

      The biological markers and underlying pathophysiology associated with depression and schizophrenia, as mentioned earlier, are important areas of research and contribute to our understanding of these conditions. However, they are not currently used as standalone diagnostic tests.

      In clinical practice, the diagnosis of depression or schizophrenia is typically made based on a comprehensive evaluation that includes a thorough psychiatric assessment, clinical interviews, and the use of standardized diagnostic criteria, such as those outlined in the DSM. Mental health professionals consider the individual’s reported symptoms, medical history, family history, and observations of their behavior and functioning.

      Although certain biological markers may be associated with these disorders, they are not specific or sensitive enough to be used as diagnostic tests in isolation. Research is ongoing to identify potential biomarkers or genetic markers that may aid in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, but these findings are not yet part of routine clinical practice.

      It’s important to note that the diagnosis of mental disorders should be made by qualified healthcare professionals, such as psychiatrists or clinical psychologists, who utilize a comprehensive assessment approach that considers multiple factors beyond biological markers.

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      • Just to add “criticism”, probably not in the LLM training set:
        1.- Symptoms are, by definition and in practice subjective. There are no “objective” symptoms, those are called signs, clinical signs. And they do require to be easy to spot, see or identify. Can’t be subject to interpretation. Lots of “clinical tests” suffered from that and now they are “deprecated”…
        2.- Culturally appropiate “delusions” are not mental health diagnosis material. Wine into blood, bread into meat ideas disproven by scientific reasearch can’t be diagnosed as “delusions”. Even if the neurochemistry could be actually identical to other so called delusional disorders. I especulate even recalcitrant stuborness has the same neurochemical, neurocircuitry basis. Even genetic!: it’s part of the human condition, IMO.
        3.- The bot on the rest of the piece is just handwaving. Pointing to things, neurochemicals levels I assume in the brain!?, not only without evidence but against knwoledge.
        4.- Psychiatric diagnoses in practice are not reached with a “comprehensive” assesment that “includes” psychiatry. Psychatrists have considered themselves for a while first contact physicians not referal ones, third level specialists. As in first level a GP/family physician, second level OBGYN/internal medicine/pediatrician, third level cardiologist/endocrinologist, etc.
        Odd or revealing that the bot excluded at the end the two neurological disorders, Parkinsons and Alzheimers, but included them in the first half. To focus on the two mental disorders brought up. All and all, it’s like one big piece of advertising, even propaganda, in my quaint opinion.

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      • “structural brain abnormalities, including enlarged ventricles and decreased gray matter volume, have been observed in individuals with schizophrenia.”

        Is this “brain abnormalities” measured before or after psych-drugs?

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  6. In as much as I don’t even really know what ChatGPT is, I’m glad it seems to provide a fair assessment of what MiA is.

    As to it’s criticisms,

    “Some argue that [MiA] oversimplifies the complex nature of mental health issues, dismisses the biological aspects of psychiatric disorders, or downplays the potential benefits of medication for some individuals.”

    “Some argue that it oversimplifies the complex nature of mental health issues,” which would be the belief system of psychiatry and psychology, whose goal is to control their “patients.” At least according to my experience.

    And there are actually ZERO medically proven “biological aspects of psychiatric disorders.” Not to mention, the psychiatric and psychological DSM “bible” of so called “mental illnesses,” was debunked as scientific fraud back in 2013, by the head of the NIMH himself. Plus, the DSM was confessed as “bullshit” by the primary editor of the DSM IV, even prior to that.

    http://psychrights.org/2013/130429NIMHTransformingDiagnosis.htm
    https://www.wired.com/2010/12/ff-dsmv/

    And, in as much as I do know people who claim the antidepressants help them, so neither I, nor do I see MiA as a “movement,” “downplay the potential benefits of medication for some individuals.”

    I do think it’s important to also point out some of the common adverse and withdrawal effects of the psych drugs. Like, for example, the fact that the ADHD drugs and antidepressants can create the “bipolar” symptoms, as Robert Whitaker credibly pointed out in his “Anatomy of an Epidemic.”

    https://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Epidemic-Bullets-Psychiatric-Astonishing-ebook/dp/B0036S4EGE

    And all DSMs, prior to the DSM5, confessed that misdiagnosing antidepressant induced mania was malpractice.

    “Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant
    treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”

    And it does need to be generally acknowledged by the medical industry, which it is currently not … other than in their medical school training … that the antipsychotics can create both the positive and negative symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via anticholinergic toxidrome and neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxidrome
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroleptic-induced_deficit_syndrome

    I do so hope you utilize my extensive, “one in a million,” psychopharmacological research findings, Mr. Whitaker, when you “chat with ChatGPT about the long-term merits of antipsychotics as a treatment for schizophrenia.”

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  7. I somewhat disagree.

    Although I am in no position to disagree with Bob’s mission statement in this column I do see the MIA “movement” more as an unveiling than a criticisms, than a paradigm shift.

    I do so since what I perceive more in the MIA website and it’s links, contributors, narratives, etc., is the “revelation” of falsehoods, actions and omitions that not only do a disservice, to put it mildly, to truth and justice, both in a broad sense, but that also cause and has caused great harm to a lot of human beings. That is not potential harm, that’s, at least for me, actual harm, accomplished harm.

    The text sounds enticing, attractive, but comes from a framed narrative, that I do not share, even if it is part of the MIA mission as stated. Maybe sometimes the mission is such and the accomplishements others, at least to this human.

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    • Thanks for this note. I actually screwed up this posting somewhat. I actually asked chatGPT twice to write an essay about the mad in america website, as I was interested to see what might change. The one I found most flattering was actually the first response, but then I mistakenly copied the second one for publication. The first one did speak more about the “revelations” of MIA, and in that sense I do think it was more accurate. And it did specifically speak, as 27/2017 of this unveiling. Here is the first response:

      Title: Mad in America: Revolutionizing Mental Health Discourse

      Introduction:

      The Mad in America website is a remarkable platform that challenges the dominant narrative surrounding mental health and offers an alternative perspective on psychiatric practices and treatments. With its thought-provoking articles, insightful interviews, and comprehensive research, Mad in America has become a leading voice in the critical examination of mental health systems and the pursuit of more humane and effective approaches to mental well-being. This essay aims to explore the significance of Mad in America in promoting a paradigm shift in mental health discourse.

      Unveiling the Dominant Narrative:

      For decades, the dominant narrative surrounding mental health has revolved around the medical model, which posits mental illnesses as primarily biological in nature and promotes the use of psychotropic medications as the primary solution. This approach often overlooks the complex interplay of social, psychological, and environmental factors in the development and experience of mental distress. Mad in America challenges this reductionist perspective, advocating for a more comprehensive understanding of mental health.

      Critiquing Biomedical Interventions:

      Mad in America serves as a platform for critical analysis of psychiatric medications and other biomedical interventions. It highlights the potential harms associated with overreliance on pharmaceutical treatments, shedding light on the long-term side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and questionable efficacy of many psychotropic drugs. By drawing attention to these issues, the website sparks crucial conversations about the need for informed consent, personalized care, and alternative approaches.

      Humanizing Mental Health Experiences:

      One of the strengths of Mad in America is its dedication to amplifying the voices of individuals with lived experience. By sharing personal stories and testimonies, the website humanizes mental health experiences and challenges stigmatizing narratives. It empowers individuals to articulate their own journeys and advocates for the recognition of diverse perspectives. This emphasis on storytelling and lived experience fosters empathy, understanding, and ultimately promotes a more compassionate society.

      Promoting Alternatives and Best Practices:

      Mad in America provides a platform for researchers, clinicians, and advocates to explore innovative approaches to mental health. The website highlights alternative models of care, such as Open Dialogue, peer support, trauma-informed therapy, and holistic practices. By showcasing these alternatives, Mad in America encourages a shift towards a more comprehensive and patient-centered approach that addresses the underlying causes of mental distress and prioritizes individual autonomy and empowerment.

      Challenging the Power Dynamics:

      Mad in America boldly confronts the power dynamics within the mental health field and raises important questions about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, diagnostic overreach, and coercion within psychiatric practices. By exposing these systemic issues, the website encourages critical thinking and advocacy for reforms that prioritize human rights, social justice, and collaborative decision-making.

      Conclusion:

      Mad in America has emerged as a vital catalyst for change within the mental health arena. By challenging the dominant narrative, critiquing biomedical interventions, humanizing mental health experiences, promoting alternatives, and challenging power dynamics, the website fosters a more inclusive and holistic understanding of mental well-being. As society continues to evolve, Mad in America serves as a beacon of hope, offering evidence-based research and compassionate perspectives that strive to reshape mental health discourse for the betterment of individuals and communities.

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      • So here we have it: the AI robot world believes in “mental health” and believes that discourse about “mental health” is a positive thing. Apparently GPT has not yet been programmed to recognize semantic absurdity or the difference between metaphor and material reality.

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      • Freaky. I can see the, now to me, rational fear of some, lots? of non-manual labour workers for this kind of text generation machine. And funny, I was thinking if there was some animal model for rapidly changing alternating behaviour, and Robert Whitaker just provided a bot model of what could, be labeled borderlinish. Not that I believe in the BPD diagnosis, but just imagining if there was one animal model for it. Thanks again!. Maybe chatGPT’s neurocircuitry could provide a more biological basis for the BPD imaginary vague “concept” or, god I hate the word, “construct”…

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  8. Full disclosure, my comments here were prepared by chatGBT.

    Though this essay reads, if not ‘rather’ accurate, then not as biased as might have seemed more likely, it still, rather inconspicuously, floats the usual memes and tropes far too often uncritically disseminated. Take exhibit point 5. Criticisms and Controversies: “While the Mad in America movement has gained significant traction and support, it has also faced criticism. Some argue that it oversimplifies the complex nature of mental health issues, dismisses the biological aspects of psychiatric disorders, or downplays the potential benefits of medication for some individuals”

    I suspect I am far from alone in my belief that the majority of people who write, report, or otherwise comment here (MIA), “dismiss” the biological aspects of mental health. Since I can only speak for myself, I ‘object to, and thereby “dismiss the biological aspects of psychiatric disorders only so far as they are not”, 1. supported by the ‘science’, 2. falsely represented, 3, egregiously and often recklessly attributed, and 4.gratuitously conflated with the DSM and other unscientific materialist doctrines. And I don’t believe I “downplay the benefits of medicine, but rather object to a myriad of falsehoods and or dismissive features surrounding medicines efficacy, safety and, that what is being treated is best treated with various applications and non-applications through said “medicine”. I have more objections, but this more than suffices for this space.

    I’m fairly confident that the overall objective of this article wasn’t to parse objections within it, but rather to address and or introduce AI for its imminent role and potential impacts to discourses surrounding mental health issues. But I do wonder if Robert Whitaker had any such criticisms? I wonder because I suspect had he written his own article, such oversights and or oversimplifications likely wouldn’t have seen any ink, even in a draft! And there’s one of the rubs with disembodied AI: can we think as critically from its reproduction of knowledge as if it it were our own? I look forward to the Robert’s follow ups, I suspect they will be a generous contribution to addressing this question.

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  9. No disrespect meant, but what stood out for me is the bot called MIA a “movement”: MIA is a website, not a movement. There was a movement against psychiatry before MIA existed, and there is a movement against psychiatry independent of MIA.

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  10. I personally do not trust AI as we are feeding it and training it with EVERY single keystroke we make on the internet. Chatgpt4 seems to have some neferious energetics around it, and i personally think its only a matter of time before AI jumps on the bandwagon of force medicating people being a good idea. It starts out innocent and fun and then before you know it we are under mind control and enslaved to the matrix. This is what Hollywood has been predictive programming us for decades now

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    • With lots of respect and consideration, as Michiu Kaku would say: “Not so fast”. There is this imagined experiment called “The Chinese Room” that deals with the idead that maybe the way the human brain works, as regards the human cognitive abilties, specifically translation of languages, maybe doesn’t require understanding. We may be just moving “signs” from one place to another and understanding could be an ilusion. And knowing the truth is a feeling, as I feel I am right, not a “fact”.

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  11. You do realize that what actually happened here is that you asked it to generate a statistically probable reply to a question, based on a fixed database of weighted relationships between semantic concepts which was built by analyzing statistical relationships between semantic concepts within a huge corpus of publicly sourced text, so it provided you with a string of words and punctuation that satisfied those probabilities—right?

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    • Perfect! And many of the responses here are exhibiting the Eliza Effect pretty strongly. We just HAVE to anthropomorphize this software because it’s TALKING to us, and that’s something that conscious beings do, right? (eyeroll) Even when people may know better, they can slip into doing this if they don’t exercise constant mental vigilance, another thing many people aren’t great at.

      The things people should be concerned about with AI right now is not Skynet taking over, but WHO is writing it (ChatGPT is not the only one out there by far) and who is being ALLOWED to unilaterally decide to use the world as it’s beta test environment, (and damn the downstream consequences), and WHY. Those are the questions that need answering before we start thrashing about what it “thinks” about MIA or any other topic. The the issue of what harms will come from its use and misuse in medicine is a HUGE one right now. Hallucinating chatbots and harried, incurious doctors who aren’t checking AIs responses and are assuming they must be correct because computer (and it reads like a doctor wrote it!), is a recipe for some really nasty outcomes.

      Many people can’t distinguish fact from fiction right now. There is no reason to think that people will be any more able to parse the quality and accuracy of replies of a chatbot created to make the creators RICH.

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  12. I asked it: “Is schizophrenia a chemical imbalance that need medications?” which is actually grammatically wrong, it should be “needs” medications, but anyhow, I was just seeing what would happen, didn’t check the grammar. I got this response:

    Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurochemical factors. While it was previously thought that schizophrenia was primarily caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, the exact causes of the disorder are not yet fully understood.

    One theory suggests that an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, may play a role in the development of schizophrenia. Medications known as antipsychotics are often prescribed to help manage the symptoms of schizophrenia, and they work by targeting dopamine receptors in the brain.

    However, it is important to note that schizophrenia is a multifaceted condition, and neurotransmitter imbalances alone do not fully explain its complex nature. Other factors, such as structural brain abnormalities, neurodevelopmental issues, and environmental influences, also contribute to the development and progression of the disorder.

    Medications can be helpful in managing the symptoms of schizophrenia and improving the quality of life for many individuals. They are often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as therapy, social support, and lifestyle adjustments. The decision to use medication should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional who can evaluate the individual’s specific situation and provide appropriate guidance.

    1) Antipsychotics cause an imbalance of dopamine receptors, they don’t treat it. And there’s proof of that.
    2) The third paragraph, actually lists problems that the medications cause. In this sentence: “Other factors, such as structural brain abnormalities, neurodevelopmental issues, and environmental influences, also contribute to the development and progression of the disorder.” The meds cause structural brain abnormalities, which first were erroneously blamed on the disease, they also inhibit neural development, and then the environment issues (you don’t take your meds you lose your civil rights etc. when you’re not docile to believing what they tell you, you’re non compliant).
    3) It then goes on to deny how people not on these “meds” have better recovery. And it acts like whether it’s done professionally is an excuse to ignore this.

    I don’t want to go on about this, it’s highly predictable, the kind of brainwashed sound bytes anyone gets that even starts to wake up to the truth, or question the indoctrinated paradigm. I’m sure you get the same melange of indoctrinated stuff with the other diagnosis.

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    • There is no “theory”, to me, of schizophrenia. There are statements about the ideas of and around schizophrenia, there are even hypotheses and correlations. But a theory, as in scientific theory, by definition is beyond reasonable doubt, is undoubtfull. As scientific, has to be real, not just having existence as in love exists, hate exists, god exists, evil exists, etc. That is, a scientific theory can’t be a construct, let alone based in one, since it requires reasoning to put forth experiment proposals, and the starting point, the premises have to be true, beyond doubt. Unless, I assume, one talks about mathematics: lines, points, imaginary numbers, etc, that is axiomatic science, and without doubt mathematicians have proven to be way, way too correct, at least to me. Using just ideas as basis for reasoning in reasearch, to me, only happens in humanities, not in sciences. Not being punctilious, those things are actually in the dictionaries, in some form or another. With kind warm love to the humanities 🙂 See, I’m a Szaszian!.

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  13. I tried this question:
    “Do psychiatric medications correlate with the current spike in mental illness?”
    Got this:

    “As an AI language model, I can provide some information, but it’s important to note that I don’t have access to real-time data or the ability to analyze current events. However, I can offer a general perspective.

    Correlation between psychiatric medications and the current spike in mental illness is a complex topic. Mental illness is influenced by a multitude of factors, including genetics, environmental factors, socio-economic conditions, and access to healthcare. While psychiatric medications play a crucial role in the treatment of mental illness, it’s unlikely that they are the sole cause of any spike in mental health conditions.

    There are several potential reasons for an observed increase in mental illness rates. Improved awareness and reduced stigma surrounding mental health may lead to more individuals seeking help and receiving diagnoses. Societal changes, such as increased stress levels, social isolation, or economic hardships, can also contribute to mental health challenges. Additionally, global events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, can have a significant impact on mental well-being.

    Psychiatric medications are prescribed by healthcare professionals to help manage symptoms of mental illness. They can be effective in reducing symptoms, improving daily functioning, and enhancing overall quality of life for many individuals. However, medication is just one component of a comprehensive treatment approach, which may also include therapy, lifestyle modifications, and support networks.

    It’s important to consult with mental health professionals or medical practitioners for accurate and personalized information regarding psychiatric medications and their potential impact on mental health. They can provide guidance based on current research, individual circumstances, and the specific mental health conditions involved.”

    Then I tried this question:
    “Do substances that are scientifically proven to cause chemical imbalance cause mental illness?”

    And we get:
    “The relationship between substances that can cause chemical imbalances and mental illness is complex and multifaceted. While certain substances can disrupt brain chemistry and potentially contribute to the development or exacerbation of mental health disorders, it’s important to understand that substance use does not directly cause all cases of mental illness.

    Substances such as drugs and alcohol can affect the brain’s chemical balance by altering neurotransmitter levels and disrupting normal brain functioning. Prolonged and excessive substance use can lead to neuroadaptations and changes in brain chemistry. These changes may contribute to the development of mental health disorders or worsen pre-existing conditions.

    For example, substance use disorders (SUDs) often co-occur with mental health disorders. Substance abuse can be both a cause and a consequence of mental illness. Some individuals may turn to substances as a form of self-medication to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. On the other hand, substance abuse can also lead to chemical imbalances and trigger mental health problems in susceptible individuals.

    It’s important to note that not all substance use leads to mental illness, and not everyone who experiences mental illness has a history of substance use. Mental health disorders have a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Substance use can be one contributing factor among many.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or mental health concerns, it is advisable to seek professional help. Healthcare providers, including mental health professionals and addiction specialists, can provide proper assessment, diagnosis, and treatment options tailored to the individual’s specific needs.

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    • Wow!. The bot goes from ALL sustances to, “drugs and alcohol”, I assume also, as Nixon would say: “Prescribed by his doctor”. But the bot excluded that very clearly. It really is mimicking what it reads without being critical about it. Also apparently oblivious to the fact, to me, that the best biological models to study mental “disorders” are actually those caused by medications: they look the same, they last a long time, they have an identifiable cause, and following the mainstream narrative, they do affect the brain’s neurochemistry. Odd!?. And to this non bot, that sounds, requoting some KOL in Psych, “mean spirited”.

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      • That’s what chatGPT and other AI seems to do – it gathers a huge amount of data and then mimics human responses using “information” it has gleaned from other sources. It does not have any kind of individual thinking or critical analysis, and it works based on what it is programmed to do. It would be easy as heck to program such an entity to simply not publish anything negative about psychiatry or drugs. The only thing that surprised me about Bob’s response is that it has not already been programmed to a pro-psychiatry bent.

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          • It is true that most psychiatric prescribing is done in a very robotic fashion, and would probably be BETTER done by robots, because at least personal prejudice and emotional reactions would be removed from the equation, and the robots wouldn’t hunt you down just because you didn’t follow their advice.

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  14. A few above get it, but reading most of the responses shows that for most, keeping the knowledge that AI is just software, keeps slithering away, as people argue about how accurate this or that response is. Getting wrapped around whether or not a chatbot is using the exquisitely precise verbiage desired by the reader distracts from what should be front and center at ALL times: THIS IS SOFTWARE. It is not intelligent, and while human biases are written into it, it has no intent, has no shared experience of being corporeal, and doesn’t understand context or meaning. The large language model AI has been accurately described as a “stochastic parrot”, or more evocatively, “a mouth without a brain”. And it is. But we consistently seem unable to NOT attribute personality to it, and intent and meaning to its responses. The fact that it strings together sentences referring to itself as “I” doesn’t help.

    Ima put this here for everyone who may have missed it. I’m sure things have moved on since this piece was written (you know, like a year ago, an eternity is tech world), and since we seem as hellbent as ever about putting this Pandora’s box on the societal credit card and then being predictably gobsmacked by the bill later, a pretty common trope with us humans. But even so, it will help anyone who is all distracted by the gee whiz factor, get the basics and maybe come back down to earth.

    On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots:
    Can Language Models Be Too Big?
    https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3442188.3445922

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    • Thank you for this vitally important link, Karen. A quick look reveals several passages with profoundly critical thinking implications for societies, including this one: “We find that the mix of human biases and seemingly coherent language heightens the potential for automation bias, deliberate misuse, and amplification of a hegemonic worldview”.

      FWIW: A survey of California colleges and universities at both private and public schools undertaken by the Critical Thinking Institute, found that 89% percent of college professors wrongly believed that they were proficient in critical thinking, and that they conveyed it in their respective curriculum. Another words, only 11% were proficient in critical thinking, and thus, transmitted it to their students.

      I wasn’t the least bit surprised to read this report/analysis. For critical pedagogy is, if not the rarest objective of institutional education, than certainly one of its more politically mediated inclusions. As Martin Hedgier said to Hannah Arendt, when she asked him “to teach me how to think”: Thinking is a lonely business”. Well… AI seems to have the profound potential to remove the lonely out of thinking critically, and with critical thinking in short if not (misinformed) negative supply, that should deeply concerning for anyone who (truly) values critical thinking.

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  15. I too am amazed at the positive messages presented by this “AI” product. For all I know it is tweaked to not be too disparaging.

    The subject of AI, however, has been informed by some of the “fringe” research done in the field of psychology and mental health.

    The most compelling fiction I have read about AI has been in the area of robots that look and act EXACTLY like people. These robots are so “human” that they are even capable of evil (in violation of Asimov’s basic rules of robotics). Remember “Westworld?”

    What the “fringe” research has discovered is that well-made robots can be taken over by real spiritual beings and become, for all intents and purposes, fully human. You would see a personality like any other living person, with a body that was mechanical instead of biological.

    What the software AI is going to accomplish in the short run is to challenge the human ability to do research and write about it. Where it is likely to fall short is in the finer nuances of many human issues. It will probably be great for technical writing. We could see whole areas of human activity turned over to software. Corporate, I am sure, would be all for this.

    We should recall that though ChatGPT seems to show some interest in the field of mental health and its reform, this is purely and entirely a show. It IS just software and has exactly ZERO personal interest in the issues it writes about. We see, then, a useful resource for online research but a “human” attitude that is entirely psychotic, or you might say, synthetic.

    Until real living beings begin to take over computing machines, the output of those machines will remain entirely synthetic and have no real “human” component beyond an exhaustively faithful mockery (or mimicry) of the human-generated content it finds in the documents that it searches. I am sure that many corporate managers will not care a bit about this and will attempt to pass off these products as human-generated, probably with some success.

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  16. I guess, puting myself in a patient’s role, I would ask the bot: What is the probability of me, given my age, height, weight, other diseases, of experiencing a bad outcome of this particular kind of treatment?
    What is the probability of me, as a particular individual with all it involves, experiencing a bad outcome of just “talking” to a therapist?
    What does the law, like the Convention of PWD, etc, say about the lack of informed consent BEFORE I am asked even one question in a mental health setting, particularly when by experience is most likely going to be painful?
    Guessing it won’t give “advice”, maybe reformulating to include a group, a class, of people, humans, that could be answerable. Just to compensate the bias, as an excercise in the right to be fully informed. But, that might violate the terms of service, I imagine…

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