In 2021, New York Times reporter Benedict Carey, after covering psychiatry for twenty years, concluded that psychiatry had done “little to improve the lives of the millions of people living with persistent mental distress. Almost every measure of our collective mental health—rates of suicide, anxiety, depression, addiction deaths, psychiatric prescription use—went the wrong direc­tion, even as access to services expanded greatly.”

If one has a dark sense of humor, psychiatry’s medical model can be seen as the root cause of a comical farce in which an institution charged by society to decrease suffering actually increases it. In 2022, I described how psychiatry’s medical model traumatizes, re-traumatizes, and perverts healing, and I am often asked: What then is a helpful alternative to psychiatry’s medical model?

The simplest answer is its complete opposite. Here, I will spell out exactly what that means. Specifically, I will discuss: (1) how psychiatry’s control-freak medical model fits into contemporary society; (2) how only with rebellion can professionals be healers; (3) emotional wounds and healing; and (4) how genuine healers help create healing conditions.

How Psychiatry’s Control-Freak Medical Model Fits into Contemporary Society

Psychiatry’s medical model is a technical-mechanical model, in which behaviors and emotions that cause tension and discomfort are subject to various manipulations. The medical-model psychiatrist is a technician who views healing as synonymous with fixing.

While the medical model may work for suturing a laceration or removing a malignant tumor, it routinely exacerbates emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances.

Much of what makes life tragic or comical comes from applying a manner of thinking that is appropriate in one mode to a completely different mode. This is the case with psychiatry’s medical model, which is essentially a model for mechanics. While it is silly for a car mechanic to try to create the healing conditions for a rusted-out muffler to naturally heal and become whole, it is tragic to treat individuals who are emotionally suffering like rusted-out mufflers.

Emotional suffering, including what we commonly call “depression” and “anxiety,” is routinely fueled by trauma and the pain of disconnection, including breaks to personal wholeness in which people disconnect from the truth of what happened to them and who they are. Emotional suffering is also fueled by the absence of genuinely supportive community, resulting in many of us becoming terrified that we cannot survive without becoming compulsively controlling, which creates suffering for ourselves and others.

In saner cultures—those that value wholeness and community more than consumerism, comfort, and control—it is widely known that a compulsively-controlling ego is a major source of misery. However, in our insane society, those designated to reduce emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances—psychiatrists and other mental health professionals—are trained to be control freaks who create even more emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances.

Control-freak psychiatrists are reflections of our control-freak culture. With each failure of its control techniques, some now viewed by much of society as barbaric—such as lobotomy and insulin coma therapy—control-freak psychiatrists seek new techniques to reduce discomfort, but all these techniques ultimately increase discomfort and misery.

Ushered in during the late 1980s as a “miracle drug,” SSRI antidepressants have been repeatedly linked to higher suicide risk; found to create a far higher percentage of sexual dysfunction than to positively affect depression (with SSRI success rates no different or even lower than placebo rates); and create tolerance and dependency resulting in painful withdrawal.

Following psychiatry’s repeated failures, a sane society would not give it increased status and power. However, our insane society so worships technology—including surgical, chemical, electrical, and digital technologies—that rather than thinking critically about the value of any technology, it uncritically accepts and celebrates anything promoted as technological.

So while a sane society would view electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), commonly known as electroshock, as barbaric—given that there is no scientific evidence that it is effective, and a great deal of evidence that it results in adverse cognitive effects—our insane society continues to buy psychiatry’s promotion of ECT as “the gold standard for treatment of severe depression.”

In the twentieth century, there were prominent mental health professionals, even some psychiatrists, who recognized that what is helpful are not control-freak “treatments,” but the opposite—acceptance. Carl Jung in 1932 pointed out:

“We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses…. If a doctor wishes to help a human being he must be able to accept him as he is. And he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.”

Many humanistic theorists came to Jung’s conclusion, and the idea that manipulation and force only make emotional suffering worse has long been held in Eastern philosophies such as Taoism and Buddhism. In contrast, by the 1980s, psychiatry began to be completely dominated by anti-humanistic control freaks who were clueless that their “diagnoses” such as “borderline personality disorder” and “schizophrenia” were, in effect, condemnations; and rather than acceptance, they manipulated their patients with behavioral, biochemical, and electrical technologies.

How Only With Rebellion Can Professionals Be Healers

One can “treat” emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances with a mechanical-technical model, or one can recognize that manipulations subvert natural healing. Depending on one’s approach, one is going to be a very different type of doctor—and likely a very different type of person.

Most people who enter the mental health profession truly want to help others, but they are often naïve to the reality that the selection, socialization, and training processes are fear based, aimed at creating control freaks who then become unhelpful. Most mental health professionals, especially psychiatrists, are naïve to the reality that those professionals who are helpful have rebelled against their socialization and training. Sadly, the majority of professionals do not rebel, and so only a minority of professionals are truly helpful.

While most professionals want to believe that their intelligence allowed them to achieve the grades and test scores necessary for degrees and credentials, the reality is that these achievements were mostly the result of their fear of academic failure and compliance with authorities’ demands.

Owing to their fear-based compliance, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals suffer a loss of wholeness in their training. They are routinely so afraid of not appearing “professional” that they are intimidated into shedding core aspects of their personality, as many readily incorporate professional jargon at the expense of their own authentic language. This disconnect from their authentic being renders them impotent as healers.

Professional demands create even more fear. Psychiatrists are charged by society with evaluating whether or not a person is mentally ill, and whether that person poses a threat to themselves or others. There are multiple fears attached to this role. At one level, there is the fear of making an incorrect assessment, not diagnosing a person as mentally ill and a threat to themselves or others who then acts self-destructively or is violent with others. Moreover, there are legal fears of being sued over their actions, and career fears that their actions can jeopardize their professional license.

Fear is obviously an unpleasant emotional experience, and professionals can privately become angry with patients for creating a condition that results in fear for them. When professionals have anger and don’t acknowledge it, they are vulnerable to coercive retaliations that increase the suffering of their patients.

Most individuals who choose the mental health profession—this includes those who become medical-model control freaks as well as those who become genuine healers—have been emotionally wounded when young. Often the wounds were from abusive or neglectful parenting, and from various types of dysfunctional family violence. Among professionals who buy into the medical model and become control freaks, these wounds have never been healed; and so they compulsively react to all pain and discomfort by trying to control it. Professionals who have not actively attempted to recover their own wholeness cannot possibly actively care about their patients’ wholeness.

Genuine healers have acknowledged their wounds and opened themselves to healing; and so their wounds become a formative positive experience, creating a deep connection and compassion for the pain of others that results in acceptance and not manipulations.

Emotional Wounds and Healing

In order to physically survive, it may have made sense to shut oneself down and numb oneself when on the battlefield—whether that battlefield was Vietnam or Iraq, one’s parents’ alcoholic brawls, or one’s sexual molestations. Such shutdowns may well have helped one to survive, but when people are no longer on the battlefield, they often cannot let go of what helped them survive, and their defense becomes a burden that interferes with healing.

When it comes to healing, one must be emotionally open. Healing requires an openness to the truth of one’s pain and confusion. However, having been assaulted, humans are understandably often afraid to be open emotionally, as they fear that such openness makes them vulnerable to further assaults.

The unhealed and unwhole can be so terrified by emotional pain that they move quickly to defenses, protections, and shutdowns. And those very defenses, protections, and shutdowns block the process of healing. People who need healing most are in the most pain, and they are most likely to defend and protect themselves. They can block healing in many ways, including by a guarded attitude of defensiveness; by reflexively disagreeing; by distrusting others’ motives; and by compulsively predicting and controlling.

It is difficult to be open if one is being diagnosed, judged, compartmentalized, and condemned. If mental health professionals are diagnosing and “treating” via controlling, their patients likely stay in a protective rather than a receptive mode. Emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances are only made worse by judgmental diagnoses and technological manipulation.

Our emotional wounds heal naturally when we are not in a state of defensiveness. Healing occurs when there are healing conditions which encourage openness. These conditions allow us to naturally move toward wholeness. If we can create the conditions for healing, healing will naturally occur.

How Genuine Healers Help Create Healing Conditions

What sets genuine healers apart is their wholeness and their lack of fear of individuals experiencing emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances.

The very presence of genuine healers—in contrast to control-freak technicians—has a soothing quality. Genuine healers’ facial expressions are easy on the eyes, and their speech is equally easy on the ears. They are not only good listeners, but go beyond that. In sharp contrast to control freaks, they are not reactive to negativity. If others are hurt, angry, frustrated, or pained in some way, this does not make them anxious. Genuine healers are uncontrolled by someone else’s pain—not detaching with coldness but with warmth, and others feel that they care about their pain. This wholeness and lack of fear allows genuine healers to have a special kind of humor that is extraordinarily sensitive to pain, adept at knowing how to lighten its burden.

Genuine healers, unlike medical-model control freaks, recognize that their job is not to manipulate “symptoms” but to help create conditions for natural healing. When such healing conditions are in place, the barriers and defenses to healing are more likely to disappear. This allows us to become open to feeling cared about; and this results in us being more likely to become open to caring about others, and open to the entirety of nature beyond ourselves—and this results in healing.

Genuine healing is a phenomena that cannot be quantified and scientifically measured, and so it does not fit into a mechanical model. Healing conditions are created by kindness, gentleness, and love, and one cannot pass an objective exam to evidence proficiency in these areas.

Kindness includes generosity, the giving or sharing of what one has of value, such as time. Kindness is warmheartedness, a turning toward rather than away from suffering. It is tolerance, an acceptance that those in pain are often unpleasant.

Gentle speech, gentle movements, and gentle touch are healing. When one is noisy, erratic, and rough, others stay in a protective mode, which is not amenable to healing. Gentleness is knowing that people who are suffering have difficulty tolerating much discord. And gentle people have patience; if one feels the pressure of time, one cannot heal.

Love is the opposite of fear. If we fear that the pain of another will overwhelm us, we cannot love that person. Love is a deep affection for the uniqueness of another. It is a union that maintains the integrity of each individual, and a valuing and respect for another. It is a heartfelt concern for another’s pain, and an experience of resonation to another’s being.

Healing is not a technical-mechanical controlling process but a natural one, with the goals of the healer being to help remove the barriers to this natural process.

Such natural healing, unlike repairing, is not a top-down, vendor-to-customer kind of process. It is not unidirectional. In the natural healing process, both helper and helpee can receive healing.

In our insane society, we are told that we must seek experts to fix all of our problems—and this results in missed opportunities. People, by virtue of being alive, can heal and be healed. There are all kinds of roles in which healing can take place. This truth is often denied because it plays havoc with capitalism and consumerism.

Our increasingly control-freak society creates—directly and indirectly—emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances. Insanely, those charged with reducing our emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances are trained to be control-freaks who then increase our emotional suffering and behavioral disturbances. Thus, healing can only occur with rebellion from such insanities.


  1. Every word in this article speaks the Truth! Until we stop abusing people with toxic drugs (and let’s not forget other methods like ECT), I fear that the very necessary approaches of kindness, gentleness and love needed to heal will not be forthcoming. A recent article featuring a retired psychiatrist, a user of Paxil who has not been able to withdraw from the terrible effects of the drug yet still supports the psychiatric profession, says it all! It is time to reassess our approach to so called “mental illness” and realize that our problems are not “mental”, but “spiritual”.

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  2. Dr Levine, thank you for this article. I believe, the average life expectancy of a man consuming Neuroleptics at a prescriptive level, is about 58 years of age.

    In my personal experience, if “Terror” can be assumed to be a form of “PTSD” and the “Feelings” experienced without going into the “Thinking” – then the complete problem levels off.

    This was the only therapy I needed (in 40 years), to come off Strong Neuroleptics and survive.

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  3. “If one has a dark sense of humor, psychiatry’s medical model can be seen as the root cause of a comical farce in which an institution charged by society to decrease suffering actually increases it.”

    Institutions like psychiatry aren’t charged by society.

    In fact, what is?

    Psychiatry is mandated by the State, whichever it may be, to do something about annoying and/or dangerous behaviour that is perceived to be a detriment to productivity and the controlled narrative.

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  4. QUOTE{}Psychiatry’s medical model is a technical-mechanical model, in which behaviors and emotions that cause tension and discomfort are subject to various manipulations.ENDQUOTE{}

    Mania does not cause tension and discomfort.

    Quite the opposite, In extremis it can cause a full-body and full-mind orgasm.

    Only the most frigidly and piously predisposed would suffer a full body-mind orgasm as tensioning and discomforting, unless of course the release was prevented, perhaps with medieval contraptions or abstract condemnations. Since 1950 most have been freed from those curtailments.

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  5. This is so upsetting. I’ll never be able to view the “treatment providers” who repeatedly maimed me over the course of several decades as victims or wounded souls. I’m tired of hearing about “but they’re stuck” because they have student loan debt and moral injury and they’re doing their best and really it’s big pharma and the insurance companies, the providers have no power.

    Nope. The people who did what they did to me should be in prison. They destroyed my life and I think some of them really enjoyed it.

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    • I understand your anger. However being on both sides of the desk and having great anger as well give the workets in this broken system a bit of a break. The system can be so bad that the employees become cogs in a rusted melted dangerous helping machine and many cant get out to other employment and many are harmed by the machine overseers so to speak andthere are multiple invisible systems many dont know about. There are healers but because as a society we dobt undertstand or teach then or actually fear them we healer types get hurt as badly as you were hurt and harmed.
      We need a way to work together knowing ALL HUMANS have hard times and sometimes so so unfair and sometimes over and over again. But always healers in human civilization abd we need to bring them back or sew up the wounds thst they have and get rid of those that profit for otgers misfortune or trauma.

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      • While I agree with your sentiments, having been “behind enemy lines” for a number of years, the problem is that the workers, while some struggle with the ethics of their situation, also have the power to easily pass on their frustrations and “moral injuries” to the very people they’re supposed to be caring for. The “consumers” or recipients or victims of their care have no such luxury. It is imperative that those working in the system who DO recognize what’s happening fight to change it, even if it means losing their jobs. Saying, “I had to harm them, I would have lost my job otherwise” is very similar to saying “I was only following orders.” Not a valid ethical “out” for someone who really understands the harm being done.

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        • Yes I understand and I agree with the thinking. In a perfect world yes. My recently deceased husband choose to stay in the system but was crushed but lots of financial reasons PT and OT for one child , multiple surgeries for others ect ect. States used to have The Bureau for Handicap Child BCH it has home visits free services in my state cut and badicslly worthless. In IEP just to get sevices hard and when delivered usually with asdociates degree not Masters because they went into private practice like MSWs. And summer IEP help almost nonexistant. So he was trapped by chikdrens health concetns and had planned to go back but I was on total bedrest fir 7 months with twins and god knows how twins happened I did nothing in teems of fertility treatment and they did not run in my direct family line. Oh then my husnands father developed ALS right after the twins were born actually
          showed signs we just didnt recognize. So he had an out wanted an out and couldnt. I had to start doingbthe IEP dance with my child at six months and the forced bedrest stopped all my part time work I think three jobs bevause chesper way for agencies to cut the bottom line no bennies! Also his Stage Three Kidney Cancer with mets to the aorta vein with five kids and we practiced birth control more than not but an end ti any vision of him leaving the system because who would be able to give him a salary equivilent to what he had? Cancer support agencies but very low and of course the insurance risk. I am sure he was red flagged by the insurance. And he had been in some ways a fighter agaibst the sytem through work and family. And we had great great differences be ause my experince in the other side of the desk was hell.
          So my call for working together does not negate any anger it is right and just but there comes a time one has to change the anger into something more if possibke and damn strsight not easy but there has to be a coming together somehow even if we choose not to lije each other or agree to disagree. Wr can chpose certain rivers to fix and let each person feel their ferlings and listen learn but pick one or two thobgs we all can work on. The advertisng of television commercials, the use of peets as mere tools ir not voice of peets at all, funding. Going to the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame and protesting it and its board. There are wayscand always disagreements about words ect ect ect but the powets that be WANT NEED US to FIGHT EACH OTHER and that kerps everything at bay and they thecwealthy powerful folks kerp on merrily floating along as the sysyems actoss many frameworks break down. And perhaps breaking feragmenting can bring new growth . Just as person who was terribly harmed I also want to take the cooperationbstance and workbtogether on some but not all. As you have written previously whovwere helped. There are the helpers but random luck and who knows what when you and they collide into each other.
          Agood wat to tell if folks would be open to working onbstuff gmfrom the in the system side is if they acknowledge ita all screwed up. My husbabd did. And if they have no outside supportss thst woukd make them compromised by links with corporations or foundations that are problematic.
          I know this has bern tried before but worth another attempt and fir those do tragically injured O am so sorry and yes know the rage now the shame the embarresmebt and total lack of cobtrol. Until the day I die I will never forget the do called nurse or lpn or aide abd theu kerp that a secret who caljed me yiu psyck crazy boderline bitch on the floor dmfor all to hear. And what I wanted to say but timing is everything when you have no control dearie where and how did that phrase come to live in your mind? Its trauma in the majority no idea and not sure for other reasons and some beginnings of how to handle though one hundred years when sometimes folks would get it and then so would be stamped out because so so inconvient.

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        • Exactly. At this point I am actually most interested in the professionals who are in fact in the field because once they actually say enough is enough we need to change there can be some real change. Obviously the continued pressure, and critique, and discourse from people with lived experience and journalists is a necessity and needs to continue. But I also think a focus on getting people within the profession to become empowered and change is a necessity as well and I don’t know if there’s as much focus there.

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      • ALL HUMANS are born with the capacity to heal themselves and as well others, and NO special designation, (aka “healer”) is needed, EXCEPT for those seeking glorification, IMHO.

        To me the term “healer” sounds downright grandiose.

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          • Traditional psychotherapy is based on fear that their intentionally constructed “power imbalance” tries to hide. And since ‘therapist’ is the modern term for ‘healer’, I often find myself asking the following questions: Why try to be Jesus? Isn’t being yourself enough?

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          • I must agree, I had the misfortune of dealing with a Holy Spirit blaspheming psychologist and psychiatrist. Then I had the misfortune of dealing with a Muslim, Triune God blaspheming psychiatrist and doctors. Then I had the misfortune of dealing with a blatantly God deluded psychologist, who I refused to hire.

            Any government, that makes the mistake of not understanding that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” thus gives an industry – or group of industries – the power to unjustly play judge, jury, and executioner over any person for any reason they choose. Which is the power all Western governments have made the mistake of giving to the “mental health professionals.”

            Those are governments who lack wisdom.

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        • I not saying give them a break or give me a break when I was in the field. Perhaps healer is the wrong word. And some folks have the capacity to make people just smile or laugh so how does that fit in.
          Its a broken sustem andvcane out of bad science eugenics and other stuff. Most people dont go into the helping fiend to hurt and harm but somehow the hurts and harms just keep in coming. Maybe surviviors msybe living witness. I dont know but id uou look st Civil Rights theu had a plan and did sll sorts of things to be preoared for hurt snd harm. It took years and lots of disagreements and fierce issues debated and fought over. But somehow they interwove many groups
          and it worked imperfectly but it worked.

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          • I’ll just remind everyone here that “bad science” isn’t really science at all. It is mostly attempts to use a scientific veneer to justify things that REAL science doesn’t support. The way to tell the difference is what happens when real science comes out with data that contradict the “opinion leaders.” If they attack the data or those who promote or share it, they’re not involved with “bad science.” They’re involved in marketing!

            But you ARE right, we do have to engage with anyone who is a real ally and not expect total agreement, except on the point that psychiatry as currently imagined needs to GO!

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      • Two statements: Responsability, and first do no harm.

        I have met people who changed their previously chosen profession after knowing what the job actually required to do beyond the cultural imagery that conceals the nitty gritty.

        Hence, the importance of not doing the dirty laundry in house, but publickly, so future generations get at least a glimpse of what was previously concealed.

        I did not got that in such a clear way. And many won’t if they don’t get to hear the opposition, either way.

        As for excuses and reasons to do what one does? Well, just explain yourself to the one that complains, you have nothing to hide right?, and most complaints ae justified. As a former practitioner I knew I did something wrong if I got a complaint, I did not see a possible bad ouctome, and didn’t explaint it to the patient. And if I didn’t and that was beyond my human condition, none of my patients would have chastised me for that. Some might, instead, gone to see someone else.

        And most definitively you have to go outside your circle to get feedback on what you actually do… somehow. And be opened to criticism, otherwise you won’t get any better in your art and science.

        They don’t teach you that in med school, they teach you that in kindergarden.

        And from psychiatry and psychologists I have never, really, heard that. That sounds to me like concealing, and that inspires no sympathy for what they actually do. Specially when victims are more reasonable, coherent, factual, etc…

        The blaming and upset is not only, to my mind, understandable, but justified. Just the silence speaks volumes…

        So, previously, around 1% of the patients I saw, came with doubts about their, at some point, previous diagnosis, treatment and outcome. About half of those could be explained as part of the disease process, a forseeable outcome, not explained to the patient. The other half were not, they seemed like a ioatrogenic harm. Also not explained to the patient. In GP, not psychiatry.

        And the national body that investigates medical malpractice in my country, told us, residents in training years ago: The best to avoid a lawsuit is EXPLAINING to the patient what went wrong. Simple as that, as human being. The second one? just write what you do, keep a good record. THAT SOMEONE ELSE CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU DID AND WHAT WENT WRONG.

        I have seen so many notes, referals, etc., that violate that principle: EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

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      • I’ll get them a break when they’ve shown they give me a break. I view it as very similar (with some major caveats) to anti-racism work. A career in therapy is a ticket to not being a low-desire career (however you define it). It’s solidly middle to upper middle class, even factoring in debt. It’s a hard job. It also has a LOT of privilege and power, relatively speaking

        Being white is also not a magic ticket to enteral happiness, but comes with a LOT of privilege and power, relatively speaking. Every therapist, even the lowliest one, is taken more seriously than the average patient when speaking up. And so on.

        So yes, like white people, doing anti-racism and anti-sanism work comes with work and struggle, and that’s valid. But it’s not EQUAL struggle, and centering the struggle of the professional as equal to the oppressed is a massive injustice.

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        • And the complainers are labelled as mean-spirited, lacking insight, ignorant, deluded or sick by the stubborn therapists.

          And no therapist asks for informed consent when it comes to around 30% what we can confidently call now verbal/psychological aggression by the therapist.

          They don’t ask for informed consent for false/erroneous diagnosis and it’s consequences/outcomes. Nor for the risk of sexual violence, fraud, indoctrination, cult joining, iatrogenic disorders, etc.

          That although “apparently” infrequent is a real risk, and given it is catastrophic it should go into the informed consent form signed BEFORE any assesment/therapy is started.

          Dying of a vitamin injection is rare, and a provider might have never see one, and be under the belief true or false that he or she “can’t” do that or won’t happen in his or her watch, but it should still be at least discussed with the patient. 1 in 10,000 to 100,000 chance is rare, but given that it cost a life, it’s important, particularly if it’s my own.

          And some clinical psychologist might say: I am not in a cult, and I have never done fraud, I am no sex ofender!. Which trivially can be dismissed for informed consent: sex offenders started with someone under their control at some point in their “careers”.

          During the patients “therapy” you could join a cult, you could be driven, convinced, willed, coerced etc to commit fraud!. That’s no excuse! it’s risk about the future outcome! not about just your personal past or the idead the therapist has of itself, it’s situation, and what he or she is actually capable of doing to harm a patient, which most people IMO underestimate.

          No one is immune to such things. So much so, that most people who have a bad reaction to a drug never had it before! and for most there was no reason to expect one, otherwise why risk it there being alternatives?!.

          Clinical psychologists never do that and they never will, at least two have said to me they are incapable of asking for such informed consent.

          Without me refering illegalities or exotic risks, the plain simple vanilla psychotherapy and it’s obvious risks: i.e. hurtfull, harmfull, painfull, prejudicious, spitefull, ignorant, outside of expertise, common delusions, iatrogenic questions/nonverbals that made no difference to an accurate usefull diagnosis.

          And for which I did not provide consent, let alone an informed one.

          Sorry for the tirade 🙂

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        • Yes!! This!! I feel like there is such a lack of political theory education and education of mass movements of power in the US that this is a very crucially missing piece of the conversation. This is not an equal struggle and the point is also not equality, it’s liberation. And liberation is for ALL peoples. Those who do not understand how they are dehumanized and suffer from their own actions as professionals would also be liberated to experience what it means to be human more fully, with more love, community, compassion, and support. It’s like they can’t see beyond what’s right in front of them to what could be. And instead of just admitting their professions current and past failures they dig their heels in even more. Which is incredibly human. And importantly, it’s a deeply human response for those who have also been traumatized, who are also suffering. Unfortunately, as in all unresolved trauma, their suffering may negatively effects others. And I would say also that the inflation of the ego here means suffering too even if they cannot see that. There is one group that is being oppressed and purposefully disempowered and another who is doing the oppressing and disempowering, often completely openly and willingly. This is not an equal playing field. We need to begin to look to other political and social movements to discern how best to work towards liberation AND we need to do this work in solidarity with all other current struggles for liberation because we are the same and working towards the same goal. There is real solidarity to be found if we actually practice connection (which I understand can be so challenging in our world of immense disconnection and separation).

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  6. QUOTE{}Emotional suffering, including what we commonly call “depression” and “anxiety,” is routinely fueled by trauma and the pain of disconnection, including breaks to personal wholeness in which people disconnect from the truth of what happened to them and who they are. Emotional suffering is also fueled by the absence of genuinely supportive community, resulting in many of us becoming terrified that we cannot survive without becoming compulsively controlling, which creates suffering for ourselves and others.ENDQUOTE{}

    I agree with this but there’s so much more. Why not mention the rest?

    Depression is “fueled” by… actually no. Let’s use our own language. Unhappiness, sometimes intense and enduring is constructed personally and socially, sometimes in very difficult circumstances that are tricky to pick apart but often involve a young awakening into the absurdity of life, self and broader bewilderment. A lot is circumstantial, born under a ill-fated star.

    Life is a traumatic experience, for everyone. Even those that keep on smiling or insisting it’s all okay.

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  7. I agree with the healer part. Well narrated how a healer might be.

    I just have a doubt that controlling freakness seems to be not much explanatory to me with the “facts” that A) psychiatrists really do not appear to show competence evaluating what they read and are told and B) they are not only irrational but obdurates.

    What kind of control freak can risk being both? I gues one that is incompetent, irrational and obdurate. A very frustated or “deluded” one will come out.

    I disagree there are insane or ill societes. On my first impression is bringing the medical model to society. There is no “sane” physiopathology for the ills of society. There are explanations from sociology, ethnology and anthropology, among others, but hardly to call them social anatomopathology, etc. Like saying some chemical synthesis that involves stepwise addition of 30 chemicals went “wrong” and then my beaker is somehow ill.

    Another thing I haven’t read that I can’t see related to control freakness is that psychiatrists usually have an attitute towards all their patients as fakers, liers or ill willed. Psychiatrists have severe trust issues towards their patients, but not to KOLs, pharma reps or med journals. What kind of physician chooses to work helping people you have no trust? Maybe a criminal lawyer, but I guess they do look for facts, or invent their own.

    In the 90s I once knew a psyhciatrist that told his patients in a public general hospital the he was a neurophysiologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon, etc. (which btw was then a crime, stil is, and the hospital was ok with it). Very peculiar fellow. He not only passed as medical specialists he was not, he even pretended at least once to be “qualified” as an electromyographical machine…

    Hard to guess he diagnosed that patient as a faker… ironies 🙂 He did mentioned in some phrasing “why send the patient to an EXPENSIVE EMG study when she is faking?”. And apparentyl EMG is not as accurate as believed.

    He kind of narrated in some veiled way that caring residents in psychiatry got their ears bitten by patients. He was recurrent with the bleeding heart physician, and the relationship with that and loosing your ear. He also used to mock a lot the kind of care/love one associates with Saints, to put it somehow. His rhetorical figures were stereotyped and recurrent. Guessing, he probably was shocked by seeing that first hand, but he had both his ears.

    I did once saw a psychiatrist at top hospital without part of an ear, he was the “chief”. I saw someone who said “was” a neurologist without both ears, what happened there?. So, the inference of how those things happened might be not too difficult to guess.

    But, is that related to control freaknes, irrationality, incompetence and obdurance?

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  8. I first saw a psychiatrist 60 years ago. There weren’t many psych drugs back then. Psychiatrists did psychotherapy, but none of them that I saw then, nor any of the psychologists that I saw off and on for over 50 years, were what you called “genuine healers”.

    What has helped me, in the last 8 years, is that I lucked into an informal support group, growing out of a meetup group of people with similar interests. All of us had tried therapy, sometimes for years like me, but we were still struggling. None of us had found what you call “healing.”

    I appreciate much of what you have said in this article, Dr. Levine, but I wish you could turn your eyes toward your own profession, too, and see the harm that still-wounded would-be healers can do to clients. I, for one, could not see it for myself because of issues I went into therapy with.

    In contrast, my support group HAS been a place for genuine healing because of our ability to genuinely accept each other.

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  9. Bruce once again is absolutely spot on: biological psychiatry and its many affiliates are clear examples of a world addicted to expert-ism and drowning in consumer-ism all in service to the almighty capital-ism, that overly-competitive, fiscally-sanctified insanity that it fails to see.

    But at the risk of sounding cynical, the term “healer” brings (to my mind) the image of “guru”.

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  10. Perhaps “control-freak” is even too kind a term for mental health practitioners; authoritarian might be more apt given that they have the full force of the state behind them.

    For more than 200 years now, psychiatry has been claiming that people who behave differently suffer from a bodily disease that is best treated by doctors and medicine. Study after study has failed to provide a scintilla of evidence to prove this allegation.

    Medicine should have long ago held a tribunal to investigate such charlatanism, as France did with Franz Anton Mesmer in the late 1700s. He was found to be a fraud, utilizing at best the power of suggestion (placebo), and run out of Paris.

    Instead, the American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted the medical model of behavior, with physicians regularly prescribing psychiatric drugs known to be unsafe and ineffective. Pediatricians may be unsafe for your child at any speed, given their tendency to diagnose ADHD and prescribe stimulants. And the elderly in nursing homes are defenseless against gerontologists

    The latest term to control the unruly is “behavioral health,” an oxymoron if ever there were one. It is often used to justify involuntary commitment and treatment of the homeless and others.

    But here too the AMA has embraced the concept:

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  11. Bruce once again is absolutely spot on: biological psychiatry and its many affiliates are clear examples of a world addicted to expert-ism, drowning in consumer-ism, all in service to its almighty capital-ism, that overly competitive, fiscally-sanctified insanity that (not so strangely) it fails to see yet faithfully pays homage to in hopes of being fiscally, professionally and egotistically rewarded; their “patients”/clients” are merely the means to their ends. But such is the world we live in.

    And at the risk of sounding cynical, the term “healer” brings (to my mind) the image of “guru”, and a commercialized one at that.

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    • Well said, Birdsong.

      Yes, that’s definitely a problem in hyper capitalist modern society. If I hear someone call themselves or someone else a healer, my immediate thought is that whatever the healing they do is, it’s going to a) cost more than I can afford or b) be a scam, or maybe both.

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  12. In the context of this debate, I would highly recommend Dr. Jeffrey Masson’s excellent book “Against Therapy: The Myth of Emotional Healing.”
    From a strictly linguistic point of view, so-called mental illness and mental health are only metaphors for socially approved or disapproved thoughts and behavioral patterns, unless we are dealing with genuine physical disorders with certain mental sequelae, such as various types of dementia.
    To speak of “mental health professionals,” “clinicians,” “symptoms” “diagnoses,” “healers” and “disorders” in a literal sense is an illegitimate appropriation of language, which is meant to confer an aura of superior knowledge and insight upon credentialed con artists who have the state-sanctioned authority to inflict harm (by administering neurotoxins and ECT, or by ordering hospitalization) upon persons who are experiencing distress but are by no means ill in a truly medical sense.
    Thomas Szasz was right: psychiatry is a “science of lies.” This is the greatest scam ever perpetrated in human history. My basic question is: Why has society willingly granted so much power to this spurious field?

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    • Great comment.

      To me, one way to find out the invalidity of a diagnosis, any, not just psychiatric ones is to ask the positive predictive value of a given sign, symptom, test (lab, imaging, or miscellaneous). Or it’s absence…

      If there is no number in a given patient, based in previous scientific studies, etc, then we are talking of pseudoscience, guru stuff, crystal ball, chiromancy, holometry of diagnosis, that kind of stuff. Gestalt madness…

      Or the negative predictive value, similar thing.

      The predictive value does tell you in one number a lot about the precision of diagnosis, it is based on a lot of stuff that is relevant to a particular patient in a particular situation: ER vs ambulatory, acute vs chronic, gender, age, etc.. And all the science behind it, not just clinical, but basic medical science. Otherwise how are you gonna come up with a study to tell you the number?.

      There are cases that the clinical art can modify that, and as allways the patient preference , but it’s a great start. It’s absence implies it lacks the basics to be called a diagnosis in modern medicine.

      It’s the basis of all medical diagnoses, each question answered yes or no, changes the a priori probability the patient has a disease or not in known ways, i.e. it takes the probability from 5% to 50%, etc. Otherwise it’s a random walk, not an “algorithm” of diagnosis.

      Why would one ask if a patient has a given symptom or a given test result if that didn’t move the needle to reach a less that 1-5% change of having it, or more than 90-95% of having it?.

      Otherwise is just running in circles.

      And there is the differential diagnosis, each question, exam, test result, changes the probability of being or not one of those other diagnoses.

      I speculate old clinicans outside psychiatry used the vague concept of predictive value, but I haven’t read that… I know I did use it vaguely, I trained before evidence based medicine. That required for me to know what was normal in populations of all kind, poorly.

      Psychiatry never meassured ANY of those, and psychiatrists never report them even when prompted. How could they? They get pissed if you ask them, and try very hard to disimulate.

      They have no science to calculate those numbers. So their questions just run around in circles trying to “pin” a diagnosis where each positive or negative question does not change the a priori probability of any diagnosis.

      That explains a lot of behaviour of psychiatrists: changing diagnoses in the same patient, adding diagnoses, taking away diagnoses, being dishonest, blaming the patient, accusing of antipsychiatry, putting words into patients mouths, ignoring what patients say, leading questions, leading patients to answer accepted “psychiatric” answer, etc…

      At the most, they can tell you what the post hoc probability of another psychiatrist agreeing with them is. Not a real predictive value, since psychiatrists, at least, are trained to agree with each other… That smells of Z rays in the psychiatrists office… and something else. 🙂

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  13. I would like to elaborate upon my previous comment somewhat.
    By pointing out the fallacious premises of psychiatry, I by no means wish to exempt from criticism the host of other supposed self-styled “healers” (licensed social workers, psychologists, counselors, therapists, etc.) engaged in the mental health industry, especially as so many of them willingly make use of the bogus DSM, which, as Dr. Jeffrey Schaler once aptly said, is a “great work of fiction” devoid of any scientific merit. Alan Francis, who was involved in compiling the latest version of the DSM admitted as much.
    Exactly what does it mean to be “board-certified” or to be a “clinical psychologist” or earn a state-approved license in a field lacking universally valid criteria and value-free tests and experiments? it would make just as much sense to speak of licensing of phrenologists or board certification of astrologers.
    Yes, Bruce Levine is spot on when deconstructing and dismantling the harmful biomedical model of psychiatry. But he unfortunately doesn’t go far enough. The very concept of state-credentialed professionals endowed with some kind of unique skills and higher wisdom ought to be abandoned, since it only serves to perpetuate a harmful power imbalance that can easily lead to condescending attitudes toward supposedly “broken” clients.
    Emotional suffering is not illness: it is most often an understandable, normal, and appropriate response to the manifold horrors and injustices of life. The best way to address such suffering is through mutual, non-judgmental, non-hierarchical support.

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    • joel stern says it best:

      “The very concept of state-credentialed professionals endowed with some kind of unique skills and higher wisdom ought to be abandoned, since it only serves to perpetuate a harmful power imbalance that can easily lead to condescending attitudes towards supposedly “broken” clients.”

      100% CORRECT!!!

      “Emotional suffering is not an illness: it is most often an understandable, normal, and appropriate response to the manifold horrors and injustices of life. The best way to address such suffering is through mutual, non-judgmental support, non-hierarchical support.”

      1,000% CORRECT!!!!

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      • Thank you, Birdsong.
        I’m a retired translator and am sensitive to the importance of nuances in the use of language.
        To me, it’s a blatant misappropriation of medical or scientific terminology to speak of health and illness in regard to thinking and behavior whose origin cannot be found to have a demonstrable physical cause.
        Obviously it’s sheer nonsense to attribute discrete illnesses to non-corporeal thoughts and emotions. The implicit reason for doing so at the present time is the fashionable hypothesis (lately championed psychiatrist Thomas Insel) that “disordered” brain circuits are responsible for certain types of socially proscribed beliefs or conduct (the formerly prevalent hypothesis of so-called chemical imbalance has now been exposed as a urban myth propagated by Big Pharma and its corrupt enablers in the media. academia, and the ever-compliant drones in the mental health industry). Well, then, let’s consider the validity of the concept of supposedly disordered brain circuits by citing just one concrete example.
        Homosexuals, who were universally regarded as emotionally disturbed by Freudians and other guardians of psychiatric orthodoxy up to 1972, were presumably suffering from some undefined of brain dysfunction. But in 1973, the APA decided by majority vote to remove homosexuality from its constantly expanding list of mental illnesses. Was this consensus achieved through numerous, careful laboratory experiments conducted and replicated worldwide? What happened to make the brains of gays and lesbians suddenly and inexplicably recover from their dysfunction in just a single year? The same arbitrary decision was reached in 2009 or 2010 in regard to transgenderism, which is no longer classified in the DSM as a mental disorder requiring professional treatment. What, may I ask, was the basis for this reversal? And what valid criteria, on the other hand, underlay the decision to add PGD (Prolonged Grief Disorder) to the DSM, when the very notion of appropriate mourning rituals and duration is manifestly based on cultural norms?
        My argument, essentially, is that we need to reexamine the language commonly used by so-called mental health professionals to describe emotional suffering, inasmuch as it gives rise to faulty assumptions that can have disastrous consequences (as the testimony of psychiatric survivors on the MAD website clearly shows).

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        • Thank YOU, joel stern!!! I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read your beautifully constructed arguments against a dystopian system that keeps getting more and more draconian. People like you give me hope!

          (And I see Insel as grasping at straws.)

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  14. Excellent recomendations Joel! I would also add Steven James Bartletts “Normality Does Not Equal Mental Health’-an absolutly essential read for those who feel the suffocating informing and constraing effects of institurional-legacy mental health systems/care. I would also add Daniela Sieff’s esential book, “Healing Emotional Trauma”: interviews with 10 brilliant and diverse psycho-social and anthropological, etc. thinkers. This was, for me, the single most generaous complilation of discussions surrounding what constitutes the foundations of mental and social health, and by extension, “what neither does nor can substaintivly constribute to mental and spiritual health-ergo, what is most abundantly available if not compulsory…

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  15. Not sure about Pulitzers, but I know Bruce deserves at least seven Nobels for this. And Goodness knows how many more for the decades and more of work that went into it.

    Thank you, MIA, and all you touch.

    “Certainty of death. Small chance of success. WHAT are we waiting for?!”

    And us a single human being that ever was any less a contributor that Bruce, or than Gimli, or than Jesus, his mom or Joan of Arc?


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  16. This article actually had a good intention and touched some of the underlying issues but I got stuck on this statement:
    “Genuine healing is a phenomena that cannot be quantified and scientifically measured, and so it does not fit into a mechanical model. Healing conditions are created by kindness, gentleness, and love, and one cannot pass an objective exam to evidence proficiency in these areas.”

    As per the contributions made by fellow commentators, I would like to contribute my perspective to the ongoing discussion. It is worth considering that quantification is plausible provided we approach this endeavor constructively.

    To begin with, there is a noteworthy aspect concerning the notion of “perceived power” within this context which also relates to the payment involved. This pertains to the scenario where one individual is evaluating another solely who would naturally be in the “defensive/protective state” and why not?. Would not the act of diagnosis put the person in defensive state, otherwise, a receptive person would not be eligible for diagnosis.
    Allowing discussion about the payment is most critical to learn about one’s protective versus receptive from the get-go. In other words, an honest talk about the funds exchanged opens the door for all the emotions relating to feeling safe and unsafe and the fact we skirt around this issue is the first “disabling” “mystifying” and “manipulating technique”. Let us talk about the money so both the treater and the client feel the shame that comes with it and move TOGEHER FORWARD!

    This adds another layer, most of those giving diagnosis are in fact having their own diagnosis so how do you give one when you are struggling with one?

    The irony becomes apparent when a person who is positioned as a healer engages in diagnosing others while potentially contending with their own unresolved issues.
    It is pertinent to contemplate whether a healer without their own “diagnosis” might be better equipped to perceive the complete spectrum of humanity within the room. A critical issue arises when those providing diagnoses fail to disclose their own condition. This situation contributes significantly to a sense of discord. (I hope my comment is received as a constructive contribution, aligned with cultural norms and without undue assertiveness.) A diagnosed person already gave up on the idea that every single person is different and therefore cannot be a non-biased in the process. This is a quantifiable factor.

    Given that accurate diagnosis during a “receptive” state is inherently challenging, and considering that the essence of recovery or healing revolves around the dichotomy between a defensive, protective stance and a receptive, secure disposition, it might be prudent to relinquish the fixation on diagnosis altogether.
    The healing is how fast or slow a person may be conscious of their “protective” versus their “receptive” states and nurturing that live and with radical warmth and acceptance. And this does not take years and medication!

    If the elements I have presented here are integrated into training protocols, it is conceivable that a quantifiable framework could emerge. While the specifics of implementation remain unclear to me at this juncture, I hold a sense of optimism that a viable methodology could indeed materialize.

    PS: Making people get rid of (not that the article stated this) their protective and defensive is the biggest scam in the system. We all need our defensive and protective…healing is to know when and how it looks to us and others when we are in it. Not get rid of it or make into shame. We need this then and we will need this in the future. No one is receptive and warm all the time!

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  17. joel stern is right: Bruce does a good job deconstructing the harmful medical model of psychiatry but doesn’t go far enough which is the reason I reacted so strongly to this article.

    While the mental health system does have some good people, they work for a system that’s fundamentally flawed: power imbalance, the DSM, and last but not least the charging of fees. So, if people freak out when they hear that and think, “But what have we got without those things?” I simply say PEER SUPPORT.

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  18. As long as social workers, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatric aids, psychiatric nurses, pharmacists, pharma companies, pharma salespeople, make tons of money every year from the misery and suffering of others, then there will be no change. This is a 75 billion dollar yearly industry! Medical schools and teaching hospitals make $$ for training many of those mentioned above.

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  19. An illuminating video: “The Psychology of the Wounded Healer”, courtesy Eternalized.

    “Healing can take place only if the analyst has an ongoing relationship with the unconscious, otherwise he or she may identify with “The Healer” archetype, a common form of inflation. This is known as an Asclepius Complex, where the therapist takes healing too far, just as Asclepius brought back people from the dead; the therapist believes he/she has god-like powers of healing, and that there’s no need for a personal relationship.” @28:03

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    • Excellent point, Birdsong!
      I contend that it makes no sense to speak of “healing” thoughts and emotions in a literal sense. Thoughts and emotions shouldn’t be judged according to universally verifiable medical criteria but rather in a highly subjective sociocultural context, which of course changes over time and differs from culture to culture. What may be considered religious mania (delusional psychosis) by a western-trained “mental health professional” will be accepted as perfectly normal and appropriate by a traditional shaman or Jain holy man.

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    • There is no such thing as a “diagnosis”, “healing,” or “therapy” of metaphorical conditions known as “mental illnesses.” Don’t accept the inappropriate pathologizing of emotional states that have no demonstrable physical etiology. This misuse of language can and does have harmful consequences, as one can clearly see in the traumatic experiences of those whose stories are featured on the Mad in America website.

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