Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Comments by John Hoggett

Showing 100 of 1247 comments. Show all.

  • “Specifically, mental disorder is a biological disturbance of brain function, presumed to be at the level of neurotransmitters and caused by genetic disorders. Thus, the treatment of all mental disorder, as a physical disorder of the brain, is necessarily physical in nature: chemicals to correct a chemical imbalance, you could say, or if that fails, electrical currents to induce seizures, implanted electrodes, powerful magnetic fields, hyperthermia and, in the extreme, neurosurgery to disconnect parts of the brain.

    This is the standard view of psychiatry as it is taught in all medical schools in the world and adopted by all major professional psychiatric bodies throughout the world.”

    And that has to change.

  • “The only appropriate training is to have lived it yourself (psychosis) but good luck if you lived it yourself getting certified by the deeply entrenched education mafia as being qualified.”

    I think there are records and personal experiences of people being helped by those who have not been through the kind of distress that gets labelled as psychosis. However I recently went to a conference on Peer Supported Open Dialogue where it was said that the peer supporters, who were trained and integral parts of the teams, often said the most helpful things to the clients as they had indeed been through it themselves. I suspect there position of training people who have been through psychosis and of employing them as equals is unusual. It does give me hope though.

    As a gay men I find the company of other supportive gay men means a lot more to me than anyone else, no matter how much they try to understand, but I wouldn’t completely right off non gay people when they offer support to me. I think it is likely to be the same for madness

  • When I was involved in anti-psychiatry campaigning, and not just posting comments on websites, I ended up thinking we needed to create some alternative services. These being:

    1 advocacy for people trapped by psychiatry, especiallly those forced to take drugs they didn’t want
    2 support services such as counselling and psychiatry free open dialogue type help
    3 drug reduction and withdrawal services

    I thought that doing that and publisising them as necersarry because psychiatry was harmful would make a powerful statement. I also found the quite a few people in the organisation I was working with were in need of these services. They were prone to crisis and forced to take damaging drugs by services.

  • I have a concern about the first sentence of the article:
    “By law people can now be forced to take medication once they’ve been discharged and are living back in the community, if they have had several hospital admissions for psychosis.”

    I think this refers to community treatment orders. I think the law is slightly more complicated than that. You maybe discharged with a conditions. One condition might be that you take the drugs. You might decide to not follow the conditions. The mind website has the following if you decide not to follow the conditions of a CTO:
    “What happens if I don’t follow the conditions?
    If you don’t follow the conditions, your responsible clinician may:

    change the conditions or the support you receive if there is a problem with them, or
    return you to hospital
    You cannot be recalled just because you don’t agree to medical treatment. As long as you have capacity to consent to treatment, you can only be given treatment if you consent to it. But there are different rules if you are recalled to hospital or do not have capacity. (See our page on recall to hospital to find out more.)”

    The page on recall to hospital says:
    “When can I be recalled to hospital?
    You can be recalled to any hospital if your responsible clinician thinks that:

    you need medical treatment in hospital for your mental disorder, and
    there would be risk of harm to your health or safety or to others if you are not recalled
    You can only be recalled if you meet both criteria. For example, you cannot be recalled just because you stop taking your medication. But if you stop taking your medication, and your responsible clinician thinks that you will get unwell, they can recall you.”

    So if I am right then the law is slightly more complex and subtle, though still bad, than the article says.

    I have little experience around this and there will be people who know more than me. I would however advise talking to an advocate if you are on a CTO and want to come off or reduce medication. Please do not just accept what the Dr’s say and give up.

  • I agree with your statement as the story seemed to have little proof to link between nutritional suppliments and behaviour.

    The way I read it the improvement came when the drugs were carefully withdrawn, which was at the same time as the micronutrients were added to his diet. So it is impossible to know what was more important.

    I think nutrition is worth investigating but this story as I read it has no evicence that shows any effect. At the very least nutrients will do a whole lot less harm than drugs though.

    As far as I know the story on what to eat is pretty simple: eat a varied diet, mainly plant based, don’t over do the refined sugar or fats. There is some evidence that some people do better with dietry suplimentation but maybe that reflects the poor nature of people’s diets with cheap fat and sugar being at the core of so many people’s eating habits these days? To my mind that is probably about the influence of Big Agribusiness and the food industry and supermarkets.

    I think behaviour that gets labelled ADHD has a whole host of causes. Some children have a lot of challanges. Some don’t fit in with school. Some children, especially boys, can be difficult to parent, or a right handful, as we say in the UK, but they then calm down as they grow up. That may have happened here and to my mind is just as convincing on the evidence given as any micronutrient theory.

    I like the altrnative to drugs aspect of the piece but I also find the publishing of trade marked product a bit worrying. There are other blogs about diet on this site that I find more convincing.

    I’m glad that they boy is doing well and has escaped the dead hand of psychaitry.

  • I’m not sure what your point is Rossa. From what I can understand some people want gender free pronouns. Proff Peterson does not like that. It sounds like the gender free people are promoting freedom of speach and the Proff thinks it has gone too far. None of that debate seems to me to be about, “the regressive-left currently engages in social control by trying to shut all free speech and engage in thought-control through authoritarian political means.” It sounds more like politics as normal. It might be irritating if you are on either side of the debate but hardly authoritarian as there are few sanctions in place for what to me seems a quite mile demand – that people be called what they want to be called.

  • I think that depends on how you define self help. All those books repeat themselves endlessly and offer trite advice as if they were pearls of wisdom.

    A book giving basic advice on how to withdraw from psyche drugs in a safe a manner as possible published under the name of Pschiatric Survivor Press would be something else.

  • I think community workers are also worth reaching out to so I add them to the list that Phil has generated as potential allies. They often have contact with distressed people and see the outcome of people taking psyche drugs or being in contact with psychiatry. The alternatives of social support are natural to them.

    I think the development of alternatives (counselling, therapy, Open Dialogue type work, sancturies, drug withdrawel services and advocacy groups) under anti-psychiatry names are something I would like to see. So often these services are seen as complimentary to psychiatry but organising them and saying we are providing them because psychaitry is damaging would be powerful statement. One of the most powerful things the Black Panthers did was provide breakfast for children in schools. A breakfast club is not radical, one done under that name was. A self help group for people who are distressed is not a powerful symbol, one done under the name of Speak Out Against Psychiatry would be.

  • Eek, and I thought we had reached peak benzo idiocy a few decades ago.

    Guess not, esp judging from all those dead celebraties who died on prescription drugs (Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse…..)

    At least this discussion bought the revolutionaries out, though I am a bit of a lazy anarchist these days….

  • I think, though I have not checked, that more women and up psychiatrised then men and more boys than girls.

    Women have less power than men and might therefore be more likely to be distressed but boys behaviour is less likely to fit into job roles these days.

    Well that’s the theory. I’m not too attached to it, but I find it interesting

  • I think you have been very lucky when you decided to be open about your expereinces of psychiatric oppression. While I think that this can sometimes be the way oppression ends, though it is only one tactic, I also think that people often need support in order to do it.

    There are risks to being open about a history of psychiatric abuse, sometimes serious risks. Risks of loosing a job for example and this can have serious economic consequences.

    Rather than urging people to be out I would urge people to consider the consequences and do so if they think it useful and a risk worth taking but not if they think it isn’t. I would also encourage people to take part in and set up of supportive institutions, such as the Hearing Voices Network, or preferably more radical organisations, that can give support to those who want to take this step. Jaqui Dillon is a member of the Hearing Voices Network and very out about her psychiatric survivor history. She has a lot of support and I suspect a lot of her income is from self employment.

    I do not think this is a tactic for everyone. I think that the LGBT liberation movement was quite strong with many other tactics, including direct action, when it adopted coming out as a strategy where as the psychiatric survivor movement seems fairly weak at the moment.

  • I think it is more complicated. I think labour, and specifically trade unions, have not adapted to the new conditions.

    For example I know a teacher who was bullied at work. Bullying of teachers is now endemic in the UK due to the constant monitoring of pupils and teachers and the league tables and comptetion between schools which has turned many heads into petty tyrants. Meanwhile unions reps are distant. They will help you in your harrasement case against the boss but they don’t bring teachers together to talk over what it is like being a teacher now and encourage them to support each other in resisting the petty beurocracy. My freind went off work with stress and gets prescribed drugs, luckily not anti-depressants as they make her ill, but beta blockers to deal with her racing heart.

    I think labour lost in the 70’s. Work becomes more stressful, as did the rest of life. Unions and other labour organisations have not regrouped and come up with new strategies and inequality got ever worse.

    Paolo Friere outlined a way of working that involved getting marginlised groups together to ask the three basic questions:
    1 what is life like round here?
    2 how do you feel about that?
    3 what shall we do about it?

    Although more broad strategies are also needed I think that to regroup trade unions and other left groups need to do a lot of the kind of work that Friere outlined. Without that basic work when people feel distressed they fall into the hands of psychiatry and psyche drug prescribing GP’s.

    I can see how anti-stigma campaigns do fall into the analysis that you wrote in your blog. The anti-stigama campaigns say it is OK to be distressed, just go to the GP. The GP prescribes drugs and maybe six weeks CBT when what you realy need is solidarity at work and a better place to live with lower rents. Sp the anti-stigma campaigns may help stop the distress turning into organised rebellion.

    I find it interesting that shortly before this blog was published another was published about Open Dialogue and social justice where Friere’s name was used. But then mental distress is so often the outcome of the abuse of power

    Sorry my reply is terse. I feel you deserve a fuller response than the one I have given but I hope my meanings are clear.

  • “dialogic, relational and peer approach are the most democratic and non-violating ways I have found to respond.”

    Who is to pay for these?

    Either people campaign for the state to pay or money is found for independant groups to provide.

    Current power structures want drugging and incarceration as it makes money for the rich.

  • Have you got the figures on that?

    I generally trust Timimi but I have not checked on that. Though I maybe remembering what he wrote wrongly. He writes on ADHD and Austism, which I believe diagnosis which are disproportionately given to boys.

    I tried to look it up and found more behaviour disorders amongst boys but found the rest of the article hard to interpret

  • I find this quote interesting: “Capitalism needs psychiatry to impose social control because it fears working-class revolt. The greater the threat, the greater the need for repression.”

    Bio-psychiatry and mass drugging took off after Reagan and Thatcher were elected. Market regulation was reduced, state assets sold off, unions systematically reduced in power.

    There was a battle between capital and labour in the 1970’s and labour lost. So bio-psychiatry rose as the corporations had more power but under this analysis maybe more psychiatry is needed by capital to keep the working class from rebelling against the sale of state, ie shared, assests, cutting of benefits and growing inequality?

  • That point, about the job readiness thing, is elucidated by Sami Timimi in The Myth of Autism. He writes that it is boys who get dispropportiontely more psychiatric diagnosis than girls as boys traditional behaviour does not fit in with the current job market of late capitalism. A lot of jobs these days are service sector: call centres and sales for example. The job role requires people to form quick relationships. These are typically seen as feminine attributes so noisy and naughty boys are given diagnosis of ADHD and obsessive ones, which in the UK we might call Train Spotters, are given the diagnosis of Autism.

  • I think all of those are well worth investigating.

    Are you saying that the state uses psychiatry to keep dissent under control?

    If so I can only agree though I also think those harmed by abuses of power, those who are distressed, are detained, druged and the causes of thier distress ignored. It has always been like that as long as psychiatry has existed.

  • You wrote, “the regressive-left currently engages in social control by trying to shut all free speech and engage in thought-control through authoritarian political means.”

    Could you give some examples of this?

    When I think of, “authoritarian political means,” I think of military dictatorships locking people up without trail or, “Dissapearing,” people or of torture. While many consider what happened at Gauntanomo, or indeed in USA prisons where solitary confinement is frequently used, as torture I somehow think this is not the sort of thing you are on about.

    So could you please explain your terms?

    Regards John Hoggett

  • I do not think you have prooved anything.

    You have a theory that, “schizophrenia can be caused by the central nervous system and the chemistry with the firing of nerves to and from the brain.”

    Until you offer some proof, preferably from peer reviewed journals, you have prooved nothing.

    Proof would be observations of those phenonema in those who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia and those without. You have not offered any studies on that. Therefore you have prooved nothing.

    You have a theory that is no more scientifically valid that that of demonic posession.

  • I disagree with this statement, ” For many people there is a biological component to the mental health challenges that are experienced.”

    I do not think I am not an utter fool.

    I maybe misguided or lacking information. If you have any information that says, “For many people there is a biological component to the mental health challenges that are experienced,” Please post here so I learn something.

    If not please apologise for calling people with different viewpoints form you utter fools.

  • I think the job description angle is really interesting. If we wrote one out for a state president and then compared it to Trump where would he fall down? You have listed some ways. Just writing those up in a public blog or article would be a good exercise in itself and also challenge the psychiatric diagnosis angle.

  • I am not familiar with the USA situation but here in the UK over the last 35 or so years the unions have been systematically weakened, work has gone abroad due to globalization, tech has reduced skilled work resulting in lots of low paid jobs, some high paid jobs and few medium paid jobs of skilled working class and lower middle class jobs, there has been a bubble in property prices and a reduction in what people have to spend on other things apart from rent and mortgages.

    So we have a weak working class and progressive middle class all whom have lost out economically. That makes scapegoating easy. A strong working class tends to stick together and not blame immigrants, the mad, people of colour, people of non Christian religions, women etc etc.

    Rebuilding working class solidarity and institutions is an important part of what needs to be done, but it is slow, longterm work.

  • Hurrah for this article. I posted on my facebook page this:

    “Saying Trump is mentally ill gives service users a bad name.
    He is a very greedy, power crazed, nasty man. I don’t need any fake medical language to tell me that.”

    Psychiatric diagnosis lack validity but some people like having a diagnosis.

    I quite like that so many have signed the petition or that professionals are saying he is mad as it shows widespread opposition to Trump but it also colludes with psychiatry.

    Why he got in is worth looking at. Of course people liked his nasty side but also the working class are weak and disorganized. If they were organised and strong they would likely see what he was promising were lies and he would not have got into power.

  • Eek – this is full of horror stories of bad employment practice, poor workers rights and an economy based on debt designed to discipline the working class and enrich the 1%.

    “……a clinical director of a mental health clinic and monstrously abusive …….. to his clients.”

    “The director of the Mental Health Division…. fear of his well-known rage attacks.”

    “We are an at-will employer which means we can dismiss you at will without explanation.”

    “I’m still living in poverty despite my hard-earned education. I will work until my dying day paying for my education at minimum wage”

    Lets just take a few seconds to remember that poverty is one of the biggest causes of mental distress (which then gets labelled as mental illness).

    Lets then remember that Trump wants to cut, “Red Tape,” and regulation, and that will include workers rights.

    Lets remember that inequality goes along with high rates of, “mental illness.”

    Lets remember that inequality goes with low union membership which is pretty obvious as when you weaken the power of the working class the rich will just make sure they get even richer at everybody else expense.

    Maybe it’s time to get a little angry?

  • Wow, what a load of big words to say:

    1 calm down
    2 think things over
    3 try to talk to someone about things
    4 do things differently if you can face that

    The way it is presented is making helping people an even more professional, experts only activity. Not a way to go I am in favour of. Also, miserable adolescents get miserable for reasons. They have hard lives and need help in dealing with that.

    Never mind, just bung a bit of psudoscience at em and say they have sick minds and then we don’t have to think about all that.

    Still, it;s better than drugging them up with suicide inducing, penis numbing, prozac.

    Hey ho

  • Years ago I read an autobiography by Wax. In it she portrayed her parents as horrid.

    That was before she trained as a clinical psychologist and got the mental health bug.

    This is what she said in a Guardian interview:
    “Fans of Wax will be familiar with her parents. From her earliest days as a comic, they were great source material. Her Jewish parents had fled Austria and Hitler and found safety in the US – her dad became a wealthy sausage manufacturer, her mother a depressive beauty with a fine brain (she spoke nine languages) and a frigid soul. That’s the way she told it, anyway. Her act was fuelled by anger at the parents who dismissed their only child as an ungainly loser.

    Wax tells me a story about when the family dog died to illustrate her relationship with her mother. “I was away at school and she went and got a replica of the dog. He was 150 in dog years when he died and when I came home there was a puppy. She didn’t mention he died.”

    She sounds a nightmare, I say. “She is a nightmare. Yep.” Wax pauses.”No. Not a nightmare any more. She’s sweet now.” Is she senile? “Senile, yeah.” Wax says that her mother barely recognises her when she visits.”

    Here is an interview with Wax on Dutch tv about her parents. Having watched it, why does she or anyone need any genetic explanation for Ms Wax’s depression?

    Depression can be seen as a belief in the just world fallacy ie that good things happen to good people and that bad things happen to bad people. It is a pity that Wax does not mention this, and how her family history has effected her, in her talks on mental health.

    However her talks to confirm that psychiatry has two main functions:
    1 to be the drug delivery agent of big pharma
    2 to make sure no one asks why someone is distressed

  • it could be that some people recover from psyche drugs and some don’t.

    People who have had strokes sometimes totally recover. Some get some functioning back and some very little.

    There probably needs to be more research on this to find out how often people recover.

  • this is really interesting. There are short and long NICE guidelines. We were made to look at them for a peer support course I went on.

    Not only are the diagnostic categories scientifically invalid but psychologists ignore the guidlines do what they think works best.

    NICE guidelines have taken huge amounts of money to produce and distribute. Even without psychologists doing what they think is best, which is really what they prefer and have had some training in, people generally do not get what the guidelines say they should, they get whatever their local trust and psychiatrist is doling out and can afford that month.

    It’s all a bureaucratic sham.

  • I met a friend at the weekend who had upped his tranquilisers due to government induced stress (he is being transferred from one benefit to another).

    He has a physical health condition that causes him chronic pain and takes pain killers for that.

    I wonder whether the benzos are contributing to his pain levels and general bad health?

    Apart from that this article just confirms to me that psychiatry needs to end. It is the drug delivery agent for Big Pharma and it tries to make sure no one thinks about why someone is distressed.

  • I knew someone who had a diagnosis of bipolar who had ECT in the past and who was on lithium, an antidepressant, a daytime benzo and sleeping pills.

    She had Chronic Fatigue and also had fallen over several times and walked with a frame to prevent further falls. No one linked the falls to the benzo’s or other drugs.

    She thought all this was fine until her kidneys started to fail. Even then she was convinced that her decades without a manic episode was due to all the drugs she was taking when it was probably because she had divorced her appalling husband sometime after the original manic episode.

  • this sounds both like a Soviet secret police operation and also like psychiatry as we know it.

    I hope this family gets help in supporting the person whose human rights are being abused.

    It will take a lot of work and a well thought out strategy to free this man or to impede his abusers. So I hope there are people advising them on this.

  • The other route people with medically unexplained illness take is the alternative therapy route which is a minefield of charlatans and guilt inducing nonsense. But at least you are unlikely to be poisoned by taking this route.

    Sometimes people go from GP to alternative and spiritual practitioners and back again all with out much improvement and sometimes being given things that make things worse.

    My own chronic fatigue was helped and eventually cured by engaging with various supportive communities. I felt cared for and life had meaning.

  • Excellent article.

    The BMA proposals seem good.

    What I would like added is that drug companies should pay for these services as they caused the damage by lying about their products and over sold them to doctors and patients.

  • I think the things you are pointing out are not about the left, but about being in a late capitalist economy. Manufacturing has gone abroad or been mechanised. We are left with lots of call centre or sales jobs. The characteristics that are needed now are the ability to make quick, but not too deep, relationships.

    Hence rowdiness, mainly seen in boys rather than girls, is seen as ADHD and obsessive interests and moderately low social skills, also more often seen in boys than girls, is seen as autism.

    The left leaning psychiatrist Sami Timimi in his books The Myth of Autism and elsewhere has written about this.

  • and a discussion, Sera, on why this movement is almost entirely white and what can be done to widen its demographics is a really important part of movement building.

    Whatever it is that people are defending themselves from in the comments on this blog has meant that this central question is avoided.

    That kind of reflects where I was in the climate campaign I mentioned above where I was supposed to be dealing with power and privilege and ended up giving up.

    Please don’t give up. I hope that because there are three of you who wrote the article, that a few comments have been supportive and that MIA staff approved of the article that you will not.

  • I disagree with your second paragraph.

    I do not think the author’s blog or the way they answered comments reduced the diversity of commentators to MIA.

    The comments looked about as diverse as the rest of MIA, if anything I thought they were slightly more diverse.

    The authors are three people. The staff, bloggers and commentators also have power on this issue.

    Can I presume that you would like MIA to be more diverse in it’s contributors and commentators? If so do you have suggestions on how to do that?

    I ask as I hear hardly any of the people who are critical of the blog saying the agree with the basic premise and have other suggestions on how to make MIA and this movement more diverse.

  • I agree with what you write about who is commenting on this blog.

    I agree with what you write about the majority of campaigns and movements in both the USA and the UK. This maybe reflected in Europe too, I do not have enough information to know.

    However I see a few exceptions:

    News of U.S. military veterans going to Standing Rock to support First Nation people is coming on my facebook feed.

    I presume they were invited, are doing what First Nation people who run the protest want and didn’t just turn up and assume they would be welcome.

    The authors of Rules for Revolutionaries said they got this one wrong; they did not have people of colour and immigrants as leaders of the campaign at it’s highest circles of influence and management, though they did at other levels, and strong enough sentiments were not expressed by Sanders on these issues. They are aware of this and hope to learn to do better. They indicate that this is likely to have played a part in why Sanders is not the incumbent president of the USA.

    I also know other white activists who are raising these issues. The trainer George Lakey comes to mind

  • I am reading Rules for Revolutionaries – how big organising can change everything by Becky Bond and Zack Exley. It is an account of how part of the Bernie Sanders campaign achieved such huge number of participants.

    One chapter is called: Fighting Racism Must Be The Core For Everyone.

    this is first paragraph of that chapter:

    “If it not led by people of color and immigrants, if it doesn’t have fighting racism and xenophobia at its core, and if it is not mobilizing white people to lead other whites to choose multiracial solidarity over fear and hate – then it’s not a revolution.”

    This is the last paragraph of that chapter:

    If we do not listen to black leaders and do all these things, our revolution is doomed to fail. The literal war on black people will go on, with the body count going up everyday. Participation in a racist system will also continue to hurt white people as they prop up the elites and billionaires who use dog whistle racism to divide the working class. Starting now, we must all unite to defend black lives, or the billionaires win.”

    Replace, “Billionaires.” with, “Psychiatry and drug companies,” and then re read the title of the blog:


    and essentially you have the same argument.

  • I think the authors addressed that point. Irish people found it possible to assimilate into USA culture as they are white yet Irish people were treated appallingly in the past.

    Slavery has happened all around the world and in many parts still does. However the USA experience was overwhelmingly of black people being enslaved by white people and the shadow of that experience is still being played out.

    The authors are asking for a little tact around this issue, not asking for the entire history of slavery to be ignored or eliminated.

  • Thank you.

    I did a fair bit of training about power and privilege when I was in the Climate Campaign and I was for a while helping run a theatre based diversity training organisation. I read around the issues.

    At the very least the dominant group, and this is a white dominated movement, need to listen to black and ethnic minority and other marginalised groups if they want to be more diverse, tackle systemic racism and grow an effective movement.

  • I think that what the authors are outlining is probably common to all white dominated movements in white dominated countries.

    I live in the UK and have recently stepped back from a local environmental network for a variety of reasons. At one meeting the chair said they wanted to know why so few black and ethnic minority people came to their meetings? Sometimes this is followed up by the statement, “Don’t they care about the environment?” I would not be surprised if white psychiatric survivor activists ask similar questions.

    These are the wrong questions. My local environmental group needed to go to the Mosque, the Hindu Temple, the Pakistani, Indian, Jamaican and other ethnic minority groups and ask them what were there environmental concerns, how could we all work together and what would need to happen to enable us to work together? Specifically, what changes would the white dominated environmental group need to make in order for black and ethnic minority groups and individuals to want to participate in environmental justice issues more than they do at present.

    This blog eloquently starts by saying black and ethnic minority people are disproportionately harmed by psychiatry, just as they are by the police. This is true in the UK too. The blog then says that this movement is dominated by white people. MIA certainly is. The blog then proposes some things that might be done to enable black and ethnic minority voices to be heard.

    I see few writing that they agree with the initial premise as set out in the blog and that they want to debate the proposed solutions and suggesting other potential solutions that might be complementary or alternative. The majority of comments repeat what the blog says are the counter arguments to addressing racism and lack of ethnic diversity in this movement, ie it is important that we all pull together now, without looking at why that is not happening. Or they say we can only debate racism on, “our”, ie white people’s, terms.

    The statement in the blog, “our best efforts thus far to correct for all that (lack of black and ethnic minority people in this movement) have tended toward demands that white people make space for those who are not white at tables where we’re not even sure it’s worth having a seat” is backed up from the comments Sera wrote from black people who either looked and decided they do not want to comment or have already decided that MIA is not for them.

    If this white dominated movement wants to be more inclusive it will need to:
    1 go to black and ethnic minority groups and ask them how they experience psychiatric oppression, what are the important issues and how do they think all this needs tackling?
    2 ask black and ethnic minority groups what help can this white dominated movement offer that they would be of use to black and ethnic minority groups?
    3 ask black and ethnic minority groups what strengths do they have that they would like to contribute to this movement?
    4 ask what black and ethnic minority groups would need to participate in this white dominated movement if they wanted to?
    5 ask how we could support each other’s struggles?

    It maybe that this movement does not want to be more diverse.

    Judging from the majority of comments so far that might very well be the case.

  • And how many black people and people of colour, and more importantly, groups ran by and for black people and people of colour will be joining you in focusing on Murphy?

    That is a rhetorical question because we now have Sera telling us the black people have said that MIA is far too white focused for them to even look at it and some of those that did found the comments so painful to read they left without commenting.

    Once again, you may take issue with some of the points in the blog but the title itself is important if you want to achieve your aims.

    The problem the authors outline are found in most white dominated movements, not just this one.

  • I just read the article and most of the comments.

    I congratulate the authors for writing it and for engaging with the comments in such an evenhanded, fair and consistent manner.

    There are some things in the article I might question or debate or suggest related areas to explore but on the whole I am impressed by the article and that it was published by MIA. Psychiatric oppression disproportionately affects people of colour but that is not reflected in the authorship of the blogs.

    Psychiatric oppression disproportionately affects poor people and marginalised groups in general. It is a kind of canary in the cage as far as oppression goes and this is definitely not reflected in the blogs.

    This blog however is about racism, a subject that at this moment in USA and European history definitely needs debating. The racist and nationalist far right is on the ascendant in both the USA and Europe.

    I echo a comment from one of the authors: how many black people and people of colour would feel welcome at MIA pages after reading these comments? The tone was overwhelmingly, “We do not want these debates here.” They were not, “How do we use these ideas, whether we agree or disagree with parts of the blog, to build a stronger movement?”

    Strong movements engage all sections of the community. That includes marginalised communities. It isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes planning, thought and continual reflection to do it well.

    I am not presently involved in any movements of any kind, anti-psychiatry or anything else. However at one time I had a job of dealing with power and privilege for a climate campaign. I gave up as the job was impossible. The group was dominated by an informal hierarchy of mainly white, age 25 – 35, upper middle class, elite university graduates and post graduates who were very keen on power and privilege providing it was seen through their lens and did not challenge their power.

    I think class intersects with race. Not in the sense that class is more important than race but rather who decides what is racist and who decides what issues are the most important to address first? Hopefully people of colour decide what is racist but I also hope that the voices of poor and working class people of colour are included in deciding what the priorities are.

    This comment maybe slightly off topic and overly influenced by my rather galling experience of trying to address power and privilege in a climate movement a few years ago.

    I hope however that after some reflection on this article and how it was received we will see more articles on racism on MIA.

  • Sami Timimi says both diagnosis are pants (I paraphrase, what he actually says is that they are social constructs). He has written one book, co authored with two men who have ditched thier autism diangnosis, called The Myth of Autism

    And a few on ADHD including this one Naughty Boys, Anti-Social Behaviour, ADHD and the Role of Culture

  • Call me old fashioned but I would say that a competent human rights investigation would be of more use than thorazine and haldol to patients chained to poles in basements of hospitals, full of urine and defecation, and just the worst conditions.

    Those drugs may or may not be beneficial and alternatives may or may not have been sufficient to address their problems but from what you are describing they would be irrelevant to the human rights abuses you are describing here.

    I wish that there was close monitoring when psyche drugs are prescribed, and lots of care when someone wants to taper off a drug I personally have never witnessed such a thing though I have seen the opposites happen more times than I care to remember.

    Your point that the prescription of psyche drugs should be done carefully, with full consent and lots of negotiation is one worth debating but on the whole it is an academic exercise as it is so far from what actually happens to most people.

  • I find your comment really interesting as I have just written a paper on power and privilege in a UK anti-capitalist climate campaign. My conclusion was that the problems in the campaign are also found in many activist movements in the UK and probably the USA too. The main problem was that the campaign was founded by upper middle class graduates and post graduates from Russel Group Universities, ie the posher ones of which Oxford and Cambridge are the most famous. The campaign is meant to work using consensus and has policies that talk about power and privilege and preventing discrimination against people of colour, disabled people and other marginalized groups yet every major decision is made by the coordinating group of upper middle class 25 – 35 year olds. Their ideas on power and privilege were seen almost entirely through their lens, thus language was policed but no creche at organising meetings was provided so parents, mainly working class women with children, could not participate in planning. The campaign managed to recreate the class structure of UK society while saying it was radical and vaguely anarchist. It’s tactics were great, it’s successes not surprisingly were limited.

    While I have the greatest respect for the professionals who are videoed here, from whom I have learnt so much, I think there is a lack of understanding of how to successfully challenge ingrained power structures. They are all growing in their international reputations and do shake psychiatry to some degree but I doubt that they alone will in anyway significantly undermine it. To have a chance of doing that all levels of the beast would need to be undermined and challenged by a large and effective movement and that can only be achieved by working alongside survivors and service users as equals.

    Here in the UK the Critical Psychiatry Network is for psychiatrists only. Other workers are directed to the hearing voices movement, which mainly deals with people who hear voices not the entirety of psychiatry and which has no groups for workers who criticise the many practices of psychiatry to come together support each other and develop strategy.

    I have great respect for all the professionals listed in this article but ultimately it is somewhat patronising for the upper middle class, which many of these people presenting are, to work on liberating an oppressed group without actually allowing them to lead the movement.

    It does not have to be like this. The Brazilian educator Paolo Friere was plainly a professional but he spent his life working alongside working class and disenfranchised communities, building up their self confidence and helping them fight for what they wanted. This slow long term strategy had great impacts in South America where over the long term dictators were ousted.

  • I think that is up to the person concerned. Some people find it useful to have a measure of how they are doing as it can inspire hope if they see an improvement over time. Some do not.

    These scales are blunt instruments.

    What the article does however is cast doubt on the validity of a huge swath of antidepressant and other biomedical research into the effectiveness of treatment for depression.

  • A friends sister is on these drugs. She lives on her own and has early dementia symptoms. Her daughter is nearby. She got up one night and was frightened that children were behind the TV and harassing her. The drugs are merely tranquilisers, what she really needs is someone to call in a few times a day and a phone number for when she gets scared. As time goes by she will need more personal care and eventually it might be 24 hour care.

    I think this might be a quite common way the drugs are used in the UK; elderly people with moderate dementia who live on their own being tranquilised to cut down the amount of personal care which the person really needs.