Sunday, November 28, 2021

Comments by John Hoggett

Showing 1559 of 1560 comments. Show all.

  • about 12 years ago I wrote a play which deconstructs psychiatry. The play is called Mental, it has a scene about ADHD and rips the construct apart in a knock about comedy manner. Now I find people writing scholarly articles about it which are much more learned, but mine version is funnier.


    Suzannah: My daughter had a problem with an educational psychologist you know. They’re a kind of therapist. The special educational needs coordinator at her school sent her to see one.
    Mark: What did they say it was, ADHD?
    John: Or was it Sadburgers, sorry, Aspergers.
    Mark: Oi, don’t’ be rude.
    John: Just because you’re a bit of train spotter does not mean you’ve got a disorder. Just a bit annoying, unless you like trains that is. Personally I think a diagnosis of Aspergers is about as useful as knowing what star sign someone is.
    Suzannah: What’s your star sign John? Are you a fire sign?
    John: As it happens, I’m Sagittarius.
    Suzannah: Ah, that explains it.
    John: Well Suzannah, I’m not really into Astrology, but it’s a lot less dangerous than a psychiatric diagnosis.
    Mark: Tell us about your daughter then Suzannah.
    Suzannah: They said she had ADHD.

    John returns to the Tourettes syndrome symptoms.

    John: Idiots.

    Suzannah and Mark look odd at him as if he might have ADHD.

    Suzannah: The school. The special educational needs coordinator and the educational psychologist wanted to put her on Ritalin.
    John: Idiots! Ritalin’s all over schools these days, just like head lice.
    Suzannah: I know, people end up on it for life sometimes. And it makes the children look really drugged up. My daughter kept playing up and getting into trouble, but she hated her teacher and was getting bullied by the other children in her class.

    Suzannah and Mark sit down and start acting out naughty school children. Mark pulls Suzannah’s hair, she makes as if to hit him, looks at John and sits down.

    John: ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    He barks it out like a teacher shouting out orders.
    Mark and Suzannah start sticking tongues out at each other and acting like naughty children, throwing things at each other, getting up and looking at John like he is the teacher.

    John: Attention Deficit.

    Mark speaks an aside to Suzannah.

    Mark: Thinks he knows it all.
    Suzannah: Oi, Sir, is you gay?
    John: Now, now, Suzannah, get on with your work

    Mark giggles, gets up and pushes Suzannah in a bullying way, John looks at Mark.

    John: Oi you, stop talking to your mate and pay attention boy. Attention Deficit – not paying attention. Well that’s not a disorder.

    Mark gets up and sneaks behind John, Suzannah stands up and follows him.

    John: Hyperactivity.

    Mark stands on a chair and makes like a monkey.

    John: Right, you, Mark, sit down, over there. And you, Suzannah, sit down, over there. And get on with your work.
    John: To audience Hyperactivity: Not sitting still, running around. Well that’s not a disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, its pants. ADHD, yes, ADHD it’s pants. What does ADHD mean? It’s the doctors medicalizing a particular distress. What kind of distress? Well in this case naughty boys.
    Suzannah: And a few girls.

    They start acting like naughty kids in school. Throwing things, getting up from the table and looking at John like he is the teacher.

    Mark: But mainly boys.
    John: And what do Dr’s do with naughty boys?

    Suzannah scowls at John.

    John: And girls. Give them drugs. In this case Ritalin.

    Mark and Suzannah speak in a speedy way.

    Mark: I’ve got ADHD me.
    Suzannah: I’ve got ABCD me.
    Mark: I’ve got HIJK me.
    Suzannah: I’ve got ICUP me.

    The giggle, John gives them a dirty look.

    John: Is there something you two would like to share with the rest of the class?

    They calm down, lean over table and get on with work.

    John: Ritalin has almost the same effect as cocaine. Or speed. But for some reason it slows kids down, probably because it’s poisoned their brains.
    Mark: He raises his hand. Sir, the headmaster won’t let me in school unless I’ve taken my Ritalin.
    John: Yes, well the less said about that sadistic idiot the better.
    Mark: I’m telling on you Sir. I’ll tell the headmaster you called him a sadistic idiot.
    John: Get on with your work Mark.
    Suzannah: My mum likes me to have Ritalin. When she runs out of money she takes my Ritalin off me and sells it to her mates down the pub.
    John: Now I think that is the better option. Drug free children, adults taking responsibility for their drug taking, stimulates the local economy; it’s all good! Imagine if what happens in school happened at work. You have your annual review, your appraisal, whatever. Just you and your manager in a little cubicle, and she says:

    Suzannah and Mark sit at table opposite each other. Suzannah as manager, Mark as employee.

    Suzannah: Now Mark, I’m afraid you’ve not been hitting your targets.
    Mark: Ah, sorry.
    Suzannah: I’ve been noticing that you’ve been finding it hard to concentrate. We’ve paid for you to have extra tuition on your computer and it hasn’t helped; you keep making spelling mistakes, which, as I am sure you are aware, is not acceptable in this line of work.
    Mark: Sorry.
    Suzannah: Also, Sally, the manager in sales says you’ve been wandering in there and talking to John and Sarah. Sally’s put in a complaint about you distracting them from their work.
    Mark: Oh.
    Suzannah: I’m going to recommend a referral to the occupational health team for a psychological assessment.
    John: Next thing you know they won’t let you back into work unless you’re on class B drugs.

    Mark pretends to pick up a phone.

    Mark: Hello, is that Unison? My line manager is refusing to let me into the office unless I take Ritalin. I agree. It’s an abuse of my human rights. What can I do?
    John: There’d be an outcry!
    Suzannah: Unless you’re a kid of course, when a doctor can give you a dodgy diagnosis and force you to take class B drugs, possibly for the rest of your life.
    John: Mind you, some people like that!
    Suzannah: My daughter doesn’t pay attention and plays up when she’s bored or angry.
    Mark: I wonder if lot of kids diagnosed with ADHD are like that?
    John: Hey, lets not look at that, just in case someone starts to wonder why the kids are so bored and angry at the world.

  • 40 years ago I knew a woman who fled a very violent man. She had a breakdown and the people who gave her sanctury called the services as they did not know what to do. She was sectioned, detained, seperated from her kids and drugged up. The hospital had no interest in the reason for her breakdown. When she calmed down she was sent back to her very violent husband. Luckily her friends once again helped her escape, this time with better preparation and she went very quickly into a womens refuge.

    I doubt my friends story or the story in the blog is unusual.

  • Thanks for raising this important issue. In the early 90’s I met a man who had suffered, “electric shock “therapy.” He said don’t ever do it. I had no intention of doing any such thing.

    Your school and psychiatrist were evil. People deserve compensation for these sorts of harms. Sadly that is unlikely to happen.

  • Your experiences are horrible, you have my sympathy. However I think the original comment was aimed at psychiatrists and researchers who make very good livings poisoning people or doing useless research while people like you are ignored, shunned or locked up and drugged.

    I personally would like all the money these people get taken back and given to you and people who support people like you.

  • Your view is the one I like the most:

    Follow the money, as ever, is the motto here.

    Peterson has made a small fortune peddling his strict Daddy self help rubbish and he and his publisher needed another book to consolidate his fortune. The benzo story added to the drama and as in all his mutterings there is no coherence, just what passes for intelligent thought.

  • I liked the whole article till it got to this point:

    “They propose that this kind of research could inform public policy efforts to combat social and economic inequality and the deleterious mental health effects that can result from such “toxic” environments.”

    It is fine to propose this sort of research. It would be good sociology, anthropology and have an impact on lessening the present drug based model. But it is naive to think that public policy will change from academic research alone. Those street children in Brazil will only go when the poor organize and rise up to get rid of the rich in those gated communities. They need to be aiming this research at those who fight poverty, not those that enable it such as governments. The researchers are revealing there own class background by making this statement. They are middle class academics hoping to influence and then implement policy for the ruling class. They are not the oppressed.

  • Speak for yourself luv. I’m as mad as a hatter.

    I quite like calling myself the names my oppressors call me. It takes the sting out and shows society that their standards are just ideas that can and are constantly remade.

    There is a strong disability rights movement that says peoole are disabled because of society excluding people with impairments. The antipsychiatry movement could be seen as part of that just as it could be seen as part of the prison abolition movement.

  • Excellent chapter.

    I am heartened by the description of what happens in Italy where hospitalization is very limited and where community support with big service user input is common.

    In this blog I write about a project I was involved in which enabled service users to imagine what a service created by them would be like. It sounds remarkably like what happens in Italy.

  • I agree. I also think that there are therputic communities within the prison system that are humane and effective and also that psychiatric drugs are dolled out on prison wards.

    I think we need to hear from inmates from both institutions as well as looking at outcomes from both. They all sound pretty dismal to me.

  • In the UK a few years ago the government kept banging on about how employment was good for people’s mental health. They used this to push conditionality, where by people had to go to ridiculous lengths to look for jobs, applying for 30 jobs a week for example and going on mickey mouse training courses, to get benefits. If they don’t comply they are sanctioned. So thanks for unearthing this research to show that this is all built on a lie.

  • I love this as it uses one of my core principles, which is to turn complex sounding ideas into plain English (or as some physicist once said, if you can’t explain it to an eight year old you probably don’t know what you are on about). Most therapy is based on a few simple ideas really so I am glad you are making that explicit.

    I also like the idea that, “A market economy requires ongoing selling to sustain itself. It needs consumers to feel a bit better, but not in any sustained way, so they keep coming back for more.” As that is my experience of therapy.

    Conversely if I on a retreat, an intense group experience, my whole outlook changes and after I leave I cope with the world much better for a while. So I can see how the Open Dialogue and other community based approaches could work, they reflect my experience of groups being encouraged to get to know and struggle with each other to the benefit of all of them.

  • I think your comments on IAPT are intetesting in the context of previous chapters on neoliberalism. The same target cuture, excessive managerialism and dire results are found in teaching. Good teachers leave or are pressired out, teachers do not set the class, they ate expected to teach lesson plans set by year heads. Teachers and pupils are micromanaged and fed up, just like IAPT clients and therapists.

  • At the most TMS is a sophisticated placebo procedure. Expensive treatment requiring assessment by a well paid expert, big impressive machine that makes muscles move by magic that you are told calibrates the machine to your particular brain, then treatments that are expensive with the machine and technicians every day for a few weeks and which cause people to feel disorientated, maybe have headaches and such like discombobulation. Who wouldn’t feel better for a while with all that attention? Just as long as you don’t get the brain damage…..

  • ” There are over 500 different forms of therapy documented and every year new ones come on stream.” A bit like religions then. As a young man my friends and I joked about inventing a new religion. Now a days we would joke about inventing a new therapy.

    I met a therapist a few years ago who worked on IAPT. They were doing a bit of admin for the team and did there own analysis of the data. They found out that they got lots of returners. If it worked so well that wouldn’t happen of course. The manager was not pleased….

  • I am utturly shocked by the TMS advocates in these coments. Their comments are junk science at there worst. It reminds me of the kind of “science” proposed by homeopathy or dowsing. You cannot map the mind with any kind of electric stimulation to show which bits cause u happiness and then use any kind of electromagnectic stimulation to clear brain pathways so that new and nicer ones form. This is dangerous junk science.

    If you really could clear brain pathways then you could by accident clear the ones that say what someones name is or where they live. Then they may decide they are called simething else or live next door.

    If you really believe TMS clears brain pathways you are saying it causes brain damage and that brain damage stops people feling miserable. Lets hope real doctors see that for the dangerous sham it is.

  • You can’t clear pathways in the brain, only damage them.

    Brains change all the time. Any teacher will tell you that. New pathways ate created as a person learns something new. Teachers do not use electricity to help people have space in there brain to learn more maths.

    If you have been told tms clears pathways in the brain you have been lied to. It probably works on a placebo effect at the most.

  • It is a superb essay. It is very generous of the authhor to publish it here for free.

    I was wondering about the low number of commments compared to some other blogs. My guess is that the subject of this chapter, which is about how the politics of the last forty years have influenced both the psyche, culture and the development of mental health and other services, is not of direct relevence to the lives of those harmed by psychiatry. For myself I think that the broad background of the ploitics of the last forty years is important in understanding how the harms of psychiatry have expanded so that we now talk routinely of, “Mental health, ” and so many are on damaging and addictive drugs.

    What I would like to see more if is how the neoliberal model has influenced and degraded the commisioning and implimentation of services and also what part the left plays in all this.

    Neoliberalism trimphed because the left failed and continue to fail. Inequality is still growing. Inequality is also related to trade union membership. More equal countries have more trade unionists per head of population. Yet trade unions are weak as we can see from both there reactions to both austerity and the covid 19 crisis.

    The bigger question for me is how much can we really change psychiatry without changing society?

  • Hm, I am a gardener by trade. I have a client who is a doctor, a consultant in ICU as it happens, which means he is of importance in treating server coronavirus cases at the moment. I call him Andy as that is what he seems to want to be called. Although it must be said I call him Dr Andy to my friends as he is rather cute and I harbour a Chic Lit fantasy of him rescuing me as I mow over my toes one day and we miraculously end up married – sigh, one can dream. Meanwhile I need to order some aconites for his garden (not to mention getting a life…)

  • If you are saying autism is an identity, a social group that people identify with and find use from then diagnosis is irrelevent.

    The problem with diagnosis is that people diagnosed seldom have choice over the treatment offered and those treatments can often be irrelevent, timewasting or harmful.

  • I think your economic analysis is true. There maybe a class issue too. The diagnosers are middle class professionals but maybe the diagnosed are more likely to be working class?

    It would of course be possible to reward the clinics that refuse to diagnose and drug by giving them goid reviews and punish those that drug and diagnose children with banner drops and office invasions. It just takes enough of us to do it.

  • ” hidden message that the ASD was the reason they were bullied (i.e. their “disorder” caused others to treat them badly)” a nice bit of victim blaming going on there. Reminds me of my step mother saying she was horrible to me because I never fought back when she was horrible to me.

    As the for ADOS assessment I think this one is better and maybe more valid

    Or indeed any personality quizz in any women’s magazine over the last fifty years.

  • Your story is an excellent and tragic example of how psychiatries main function is to stop people from thinking about why people are distressed.

    I hope one day you will come off the lithium and ditch the diagnosis.

    Good luck with the novel.

  • “Because psychosocial risk factors are more amenable than their genetic counterparts to remediation by social policy, this should be good news.” Not to governments intent on making the rich richer. This is ample argument to see why the bio model is predominant. Or do you want psychiatrists to become militant socialists?

    You can see similar forces at play when Freud disavowed his seduction theory, ie that unhappiness is largely caused by child sexual assault, because male doctors gave him the cold shoulder cwhen he went on about it in public. Instead he said survivors, mainly women, imagined it because secretly they fancied there parents. It eas a sick theory designed to keep his standing with his professional peers and psychiatries insistence on bio explanations of distress despite the contrary evidence is a similar ploy to keep in with the powerful and keep getting the dosh.

  • “…we cannot match the power and influence that comes from resource-rich bodies like the pharmaceutical industry; hence we are only able to make marginal differences.”

    There’s the rub. Websites like thus are important, as is Timimi’s work as an example of what can be done (though survivor led services do just as well when they emerge) with a bit of common sense but to achieve big change needs smart strategy, a huge movement and perhaps the death of capitalism?

  • Brilliant as usual.

    “What this evidence seems to be telling us is that what we wrap up in special expert-sounding language has more to do with everyday human experiences than any special knowledge,” is my conclusion about therapy. Or as the old song goes:

    “Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face
    Don’t mind people grinnin’ in your face
    You just bear this in mind, a true friend is hard to find
    Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face

    You know your mother would talk about you
    Your own sisters and your brothers too
    They just don’t care how you’re tryin’ to live
    They’ll talk about you still
    Yes, but bear, ooh, this in mind, a true friend is hard to find
    Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face
    Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face
    Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face
    Oh, just bear, ooh this in mind, a true friend is hard to find

    Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face
    You know they’ll jump you up and down
    They’ll carry you all ’round and ’round
    Just as soon as your back is turned
    They’ll be tryin’ to crush you down
    Yes, but bear this in mind, a true friend is hard to find
    Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face
    Don’t mind people grinnin’ in your face
    Don’t mind people grinnin’ in your face, oh, Lord
    And just bear this in mind, a true friend is hard to find
    Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face”

    Or, ” Resilience,” as they like to say these days.

  • I think Open Dialogue is a way of running a meeting. It was developed by mental health practitioners but the principles are found elsewhere. Let’s free it from it’s psychiatric bounds. If school counsellors can do it so can others. If someone is distressed don’t call services, call a meeting and find some facilitators.

  • I love Timimi’s work. This is the clearest expression I have read by anyone working in the psychiatric industry that it is all dangerous bunkum. It is refreshing to see it clearly laid out.

    A survivor of psychiatry might write something similar but with justified anger and venom.

    I have been reading interviews with Raul Vaneigem, an anarchist who was central to the Situationists (an anarchist movement whose hay day was the 1960’s) and whose book The Revolution of Everyday Life was essential reading for those involved in the uprising in Paris in 1968. Timimi’s text reminds me of many of the concepts central to situationist ideas that Vaneigem talks and writes about, for example he said this on an interview; “I just do what I can to see that resistance to market exploitation is transformed into an offensive of life, and that an art of living sweeps away the ruins of oppression.”

    That modern society is so sick that it takes our desires for happiness and our refusal to face the misery of everyday life that late capitalism provides and then sells that desire back to us as fake and poisonous medicine, then locks some of up and forces these poisons us is a sick culmination of what Vaneigem and the situationists called “The Specticle”, ie the all enveloping miasma that is late capitalism.

    Perhaps to end psychiatry capitalism needs also to end?

  • I agree that we cannot always leave this to family and friends. People are often overwhelmed by working long hours in insecure work places these days to provide care for anyone, never mind people who are going off the deep end.

    However DP Hunter in there book Tracksuits, Traumas and Class Traitors puts forward the idea that all state, “Support,” services (psychiatry, benefits, social services, children’s services etc) are about control of the working class and are evermore likely to be so. In the book he describes how as an adult, when he had a breakdown, his friends supported him by sitting with him on a round the clock rota for several weeks. He was insistent on them not calling services and he had been through them, which large sections of the book are about.
    We know it is possible to support people through crisis, but we also know that people are often overwhelmed by the demands of our increasingly unequal society, ill equipped with the patience or knowledge of how to deal with someone in crisis, or might have contributed to it.

    I suspect DP Hunter, as an anarchist, would call the support they received as Mutual Aid. While I cannot see many people setting up mutual aid collectives to support those in crisis I can see that it would be possible to do. The principles of Soteria House and even Open Dialogue are reproducible by unpaid volunteers with a little training.

    If services were to be run by the state, before or after any revolution (I for one see the world moving away from communism and whatever people may consider the left to be that it is getting progressively weaker) they would have to have a high degree of user/survivor/community input and control for any coercive, medical based model to not be instigated.

  • For me, as a Greenpeace activist, it was a bit of a laugh. For me, who at the time was also running The Rose and Thorn Theatre company, a “mental health” consultancy, it was quite revealing in a not very nice way.

    We put on a play about section 136 based on service user/survivor experiences.

    We didn’t concentrate on what the police did but I got one story of someone who was detained under section 136 by the police, taken to the hospital 136 suite and then no once actually came to “asses” her. I presume she was taken off the street, or from her home, by a police person, maybe asked if she was suicidal, taken to hospital, locked up for half a day or so and ignored and then sent home.

    This woman’s story illustrates what this is all about. It is about taking people who are distressed away so that they do not disturb the public, asking them if they want to kill themselves so the people taking them away can show they did the job get paid and justify the agencies exorbitant fees and then ignoring the person in distress and letting those that caused the distress get away with it.

    “This person is ill, we have taken her to a place of safety, we are dealing with it, go home now, move along please.”

  • Good article. My guess is suicide assessments are to help organisations not be criticized if a, “Client,” kills themselves.

    I was once arrested for sitting on the top of Houses of Parliament, ie the Palace of Westminster (Greenpeace protest – natch). When the police processed us before locking us in the cells, it was 2am by then, they asked all sorts of pertinent (name, address, any known illnesses or disabilities) and impertinent questions such as are you thinking of killing yourself. I laughed, as I was interested in what in the UK is called Section 136, where the police detain you for reasons of mental health and thought this is probably what they ask a distressed person when they take them off the street before taking them to the hospital or putting them in the cells. The policeman checking me in asked why I laughed, so I replied I wondered how they did that assessment. He replied, “Well how else am I supposed to know?” I could have given him an answer but really they just wanted to tick the tick sheet and lock me up. As long as that was done it didn’t matter if me or anyone else tried to kill themselves as they were covered – job done. Time for a tea break and wait till the end of the shift.

  • There are high rates of psychiatric diagnosis and incarceration and forced treatment among BAME (Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities) either because racism drives people mad, or because BAME people are more likely to live in poverty and poverty drives people mad, or because psychiatry is racist – or a combination of all three. Yet the survivor, critical psychiatry, anti-psychiatry movements seem pretty white.

    I have thought about this for a long time and my conclusion is that this will continue until organisations have sufficient numbers of BAME people at involved in strategic positions and that white organisations go out of there way to make sure BAME stories, issues and people are represented in the organisation.

  • I read as far as, ” suicide risk assessments are well known not to work,” and laughed. It reminded me of the time when I was arrested on a Greenpeace action, when I still did Greenpeace actions. We were taken to the police station and as we were booked in the desk sergeant asked us one by one if we were suicidal? I laughed at the time and said, “So that’s how you monitor people who might be a risk to themselves?” The desk sergeant replied, “Well how else am I meant to do it?”

    I guess they do this to everyone who is arrested?

    It is a tick box exercise designed to cover the person and institution asking and nothing to do with care for the person they are monitoring.

    I should have said, “No Comment,” as I did to most of the other questions they asked.

  • Jordan Peterson is prone to depression….. While that on it’s own tells us little combine that with his harsh parental manner towards many things and his promoting physical punishment of children and I, in my putting two and two together to make five, see him as having a harsh conscience that he wants to project on the world while fighting the bogeymen of censorship driven by rebellion against his own harsh parenting.

    Unfortunately as yet I have no proof of my theory.

    As some of you may have realised he has riled me. I have a friend who acts like he is her cult leader where as I see a charlatan.

  • Jordan Peterson: a man good with words and bereft if ideas (or any that have any internal consistency at any rate). The charlatans charlatan: he charms those easily taken in with fake intellectualism and comes across as a stern Daddy, telling us all off for not reaching his rather high and impossible standards while looking credible by taking pot shots at the bogey men of political correctness (don’t hit children for example) while ignoring the real issues of inequality and injustice (the evidence that hitting children harms and is not an effective way to discipline children).

  • I am looking at the excess death stats in different countries. It shows about three times the expected deaths in the UK while covid 19 is raging. That is all I need to know.

    SAR, MERS and Ebola are proof that viruses can be beaten by good public health without vaccines.

    The UK housed all it’s homeless people at the start of the Covid 19 epidemic in the UK. S Korea dealt with it so well that it did not spread to homeless people too much with only 254 deaths so far out of a population of 51 million compared to the UK of a declared death number of 29, 000 deaths and rising in a population of 67 million.

    As I am 61 with high blood pressure and asthma I have a vested interest in public health measures controlling this virus. In 18 months, the minimum time to develop, test and distribute a vaccine, I could be dead from Covid 19. However if contact tracing is bought into the UK along with other public health measures my chance of not being infected goes up considerably.

    I am not sure what the article was about. It was a bit opaque for me. What I do know is the the UK government is using this crisis to privitise the health service, starve local councils of cash and give contracts to big business friends of theirs as well cut away at democratic accountability. That cannot be good for those suffering the brunt end of psychiatry and that is the broader point I also want to push. This is a crisis the rich will use to rip us all off and erode our rights even more and vaccine conspiracy theories are a distraction from that vital point.

  • We don’t know if vaccines will be developed and if they are that will be 18 months away.

    Right now I stand in solidarity with nurses, doctors, care staff, the elderly, people who work in factories preparing and packing food for us to eat, people who are incarcerated in prisons and psychiatric facilities and those who have lost there jobs and have little to live on.

    These are real struggles and people are unnecessarily loosing there lives.

    Vietnam – no deaths, South Korea 252 deaths, UK – 28,446 deaths, USA 68,602 deaths. The figures speak for themselves. Those that prepare and use WHO guidelines beat this virus just as they beat SARS. Those that ignore the guidelines have there citizens unnecessarily die, and that is the poor who disproportionately die and those in institutions where it can be transmitted very quickly.

  • Coronavirus is a horrendous situation: a pandemic that many countries have managed well but which many others have botched. The USA and the UK are two of the worst examples of how to handle a public health crisis where money and business comes before people’s well-being. Some countries did well by having few lockdowns but acting early, stopping people coming into the country or testing or quarantining them when they arrived. They also made sure those that needed to be financially supported were well looked after so that they could isolate without loosing income. When countries didn’t take measures to limit transmission fast the number of cases, quickly followed by the number of deaths increased exponentially.

    When people are given good information by people they trust and well supported they will accept temporary restrictions on there freedoms. That was illustrated in New Zealand which has had an exemplary response to this crisis. Without those conditions in place people question whether quarantine is justified and many on low incomes have to break it to survive and this leads to increasing cases and death rates and those deaths are disproportionately among the poor and the incarcerated.

    People are fighting back: for example Amazon workers are demanding proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe working conditions in the USA and other places and care workers and medical staff are demanding proper PPE too. Deaths due to coronavirus are especially high among nurses and care staff, this is a scandal as it is unnecessary as witnessed by those countries that have had few deaths by early and aggressive action.

    When people are locked up in psychiatric facilities, prisons or live in care homes infections diseases can spread through them very quickly unless appropriate infection control measures are put in place. Countries that fail to take those measures are demonstrating how little they value the lives of both those who are locked up and the staff who work in those institutions.

    Organisations that are making money out of this are big business that is close to government. For example in the UK testing for coronavirus is run by big private companies like Deloitte, a major accountancy firm, and Boots, a big pharmacy company while local councils and the NHS are kept out of contact tracing which is an essential part of dealing with coronavirus.

    This pandemic is not only a major public health crisis of our time it also shows who governments value and in the USA and UK’s it is the lives of the well off and profit for business that seems to come before all else.

    This webpage has details of countries doing well

    I like the website as it has a summary of measures that are needed to contain and hopefully eliminate Covid 19. What it lacks is any kind of social justice element and it is the people at the bottom, including survivors and users of psychiatry that need to be part of this struggle and in my opinion at the core.

  • My step mother worked with children like your son in the early 1970’s.

    Now Autism seems to mean anyone who is a bit odd.

    Yous son needs care, but different care from people with no intellectual impairments but who struggle with the social world.

  • “The management of the rehabilitation institution was made aware of this hierarchical break-down and deemed it in conflict with the collective institutional stance. They asked me to revert to using the formal pronoun or else discontinue the group. Under this condition I could not continue with the reading group, for it opposed much of what I had been trying to do.”

    Dear me, such stuffy managers. Reminds me of school.

  • “Among the anarchist attendees at my last talk, some have been beaten by cops, interrogated by the FBI, and jailed. Among psychiatric survivors I’ve known, it is common to have had coerced “treatments” that include drugs, electroshock, and lengthy psychiatric hospitalizations forced on them against their wishes.”

    I know patients who have been beaten in by staff too. The comparisons are very close.

  • I am experimenting with meditation for ten minutes twice or three times a day at the moment. I find myself expressing a lot of fear and anger while doing it. I think this is helping with my sleep as I was suppressing a lot of seething rage about something I will not go into here. This fits in with the idea of avoidance.

  • Great piece.

    The UK psychiatric complaints system is set up so that they hardly ever have to say sorry. Even if they beat up and then “accidentally”kill your nearest and dearest (a case I know of). Or falsely accuse you of being a potential criminal and pervert and force you to leave your job and get sick things on your medical record that takes months of stressful time to get corrected (which happened to me several years ago). Never mind if eventually they agree that the drugs cause more harm than good or that ECT is dangerous nonsense – I’m not expecting any apologies there if those things ever happen.

    I was reminded of running a theatre based consultation on Section 136 of the Mental Health Act (UK law which state the police can detain you and take you to a psyche hospital for assessment if they think you are acting nutty). We did it in the day centre and did a line out asking people how bad/good is psychiatry and the line went from mediocre to appalling. We did it again with social workers who did out of hours 136 assessments and the line went from mediocre to brill. Fortunately we had three service users there to take them to task.

    We did another piece, a consultation for the Day Centre on proposed changes. We interviewed service users, put a play on that represented there concerns, booked an afternoon to put it on a run a discussion. The staff gave us a day and time that was the lunch outing for members. So we waited for them to come back from there outing. None of the staff were planning on coming and certainly not the area manager who asked and paid us to do the work. So we pulled the staff in from the offices. The normally reserved service users were quite outspoken about the proposed changes, we did our job well, the staff were a bit mortified. We wrote a report for the area manager on what service users wanted and were concerned about. They ignored every word.

    The suicide prevention people remind me that nearly all social movements get co-opted by the powers that be. They choose compliant service users to go on committees and professionals who see there job as protecting those in power take over the top positions.

    Never saying sorry means you are a heartless, well paid, middle class manager IMHO.

  • I listened to the song, looked up the lyrics. Reed is very bitter. I bet no one apologized to him for the cruel injuries he was subject to.

    They never apologies.

    We must fight back.

    All your two-bit psychiatrists are giving you electro shock
    They say, they let you live at home, with mom and dad
    Instead of mental hospital
    But every time you tried to read a book
    You couldn’t get to page 17
    ‘Cause you forgot, where you were
    So you couldn’t even read
    Don’t you know, they’re gonna kill your sons
    Don’t you know, they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
    They’re gonna kill, kill your sons
    Until they run run run run run run run run away
    Mom informed me on the phone
    She didn’t know what to do about dad
    Took an axe and broke the table
    Aren’t you glad you’re married
    And sister, she got married on the island
    And her husband takes the train
    He’s big and he’s fat and he doesn’t even have a brain
    They’re gonna kill your sons
    Don’t you know, they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
    Don’t you know, they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
    Until they run away
    Creedmore treated me very good
    But Paine Whitney was even better
    And when I flipped on PHC
    I was so sad I didn’t even get a letter
    All of the drugs, that we took, it really was lots of fun
    But when they shoot you up with thorizene on crystal smoke
    You choke like a son of a gun
    Don’t you know, they’re gonna kill your sons
    Don’t you know, they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
    They’re gonna kill, kill your sons
    Until they run run run run run run run run away

  • I had one really good experience of group therapy and one mediocre one which I walked away from. I think it depends on the group and the skill of the person hosting it, same as one to one therapy.

    Often it is seen as cheap but that doens’t work well if it is not run well.

    I once went to a hearing voices group with a friend. He went a few times after that and said it was the best thing he had ever got from services.

    So I think we can’t generalise, but I do think bad group therapy is just the pits, boring and stressful.

  • The Dr’s said “I think in that case our hands are quite tied if someone is to dictate that we are not allowed to give the treatment which I think is best for that patient’s illness.”

    Good, as it should be.

    I think this shows there is a fightback happening by Dr’s and drug companies, that these meagre reforms are at risk and it will be a long struggle to ensure psychiatric patients have their full human rights.

  • No, I’m resting and wibbling away on facebbok and websites.

    I’ve done my bit, I set up speak out againsy psychiatry, I’m now bitter and as the modern boys say, burnt out.

    Get back to me when you, or anyone else has a decent strategy and maybe I’ll be, ‘in.’

    In the meantime I’m thinkonh of setting up a prize for the best escape from my local looney bin. I’m looking for prizes. Let me know if you want to offer anything

  • I agree that re educating clients, or just people, that distress does not need to be seen as illness or disorder is entitely sensible. It is an approach that Sammi Timmimi takes in his oo clinics. I am glad you have been succesful in helping people with this approach. However yor style seemrd to have little sympathy for people falling for the trap of diagnosis in your original article, something I fall into too and which I am trying to ameliorate.

  • I certainly think the arguments outlined work like this for autism and adult ADHD.

    However I think the blaming of patients for not taking responsibility for themselves is not pleasant to read and counter productive. Most of society refuses to take responsibility for themselves and those whose lives have been especially hard do so more than most. It also is an individual response and not a systemic analysis.

    An analysis which looks at poverty, racism and other systemic injustices in the manufacture of distress and how psychiatry is a distraction from those and how these play out in individual choices would be more interesting to me.

  • Here in the UK anti-capitalists have worked with anti-psychiatry, survivors. It has not happened a lot but it does happen occasionally.

    At the moment I am working on an anti austerity project that did for a while work with survivors. So although it is not a common alliance it is possible.

    One of the problems is that politics is now dominated by the middle class, who find challanging professinals very difficult. For example I spammed the wellbeing e-mail list for Occupy in London with an anti psychiatry protest flyer and all the professional on it, who were helping support the homeless people that Occupy attracted, were appaled. I was most gratified to see the uproar I provoked on their e-mail list!

  • I am interested in your point. I’ve been thinking and learning about co-option a lot in recent years. A friend who is in the disability arts movement said that it used to be about attacking the system and pointing out how disabled people are excluded from society. Now it is brave artistic cripples showing how great they are funded by big lottery money.

    Disability Arts on the whole lost it’s bite and got co-opted. Some think the LGBT+ movement did too. All same sex marriage and queers in the military while young queers are at risk of homelessness as benefits are cut to young people in the UK making those in homo and transphobic homes at risk of homelessness.

    Government funding always comes with strings – and that means criticizing the government is weakened as organisations get paid off. The rebel is never paid for by the master.

  • From what I have read asylums were developed for pauper lunatics in early industrial capitalism. The families of paupers could not afford to look after their mad relatives so putting them in asylums was probably essential to the family and lunatics survival. The asylums for the well off didn’t grow so quickly as those for paupers.

    Dr’s convinced people they were the experts in dealing with lunatics so people dumped there lunatics, ie those who they considered difficult, in asylums and definitions of madness grew as more and more people were considered mad and outside the normal bounds of society. Psychiatry became a social control agent in early industrial capitalism.

    I therefore suspect the early asylums with the legalisation of the locking up of pauper lunatics, ie the odd and unproductive, is one of the sources of stigma, ie shame of being distressed.

    Tranquilizers and ECT became the new and additional social control mechanisms of psychiatry as well as profit driven industries.

    Now we have state funded anti-stigma campaigns that normalise being tranquilized or given ECT and which arguably makes the acceptable range of behavior narrower, disguises the causes of distress and increases profit for drug companies. Meanwhile any good help, and long term counselling can often be effective, is cut and short CBT aimed at symptoms, and thus is a psychosocial tranquiliser is increased.

  • I skimmed this article.

    I think it should have stayed as a heart felt conversation over coffee between the author and a mate, not a confessional morality tale where serious abuse by a therapist is mixed with Mr Hall’s, “When I was younger I made a massive mistake, I was a plonker and….”

    I am left wondering if the women concerned read a draft before it was published?

    I want MIA and other media to cover sexual abuse by therapists, and when therapists blame the client that very much deserves investigating and bringing to the attention of the public. I want to read articles about abuse by therapists that cover how serious it is, whether it is endemic and who, these days it tackling it. I especially want to hear the survivors side of the story.

    I do not want such articles dressed up with personal moral quandaries where someone who is saying they made a mistake and may have hurt a women and which the women concerned may read. I am wondering if the women in the story Will Hall has told may not have seen a draft of this article and whether she consented to this article being published? I hope she did. If not this is a serious error of judgement by Will Hall and the MIA editorial team.

    If no consent was given by the women in Will Hall’s story then I think MIA need to review their editorial policies.

    I think Will Hall needs to get some advice on how to publicly address the serious issues around of sexual assault in therapy. If no consent was given by the women in Will Hall’s story he needs to review whatever he learnt about confidentiality and respecting people who he comes into contact with in self help groups and therapy situations and get some advice on how to write about those situations in a way that respects people’s confidentiality, especially if he thinks he may have abused his power in such situation.

    Perhaps I skimmed the article too quickly. If so please correct me.

  • I have been reading some books, Training for Transformation manuals, that are based on the ideas of Paolo Friere. They seem to combine therapy and politicising the poor and marginalised communities. I may use this work with down and outs.

    Consciousness raising could be seen as a form of psychotherapy and was used by a variety of groups, notably the Gay Liberation Front, in preparation for action.

  • Interesting point. There is evidence that I find compelling (though I have not looked into it sufficiently to have have a well grounded understanding of the work or how significant it is) on how the lack of micro-nutrients are linked to unquiet minds.

    Whether this is mental illness, or symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency is an interesting debate.

    I can see where your stand on that issue and I tentatively join you in that position.

  • I found out tonight that my step-mother died about a week ago.

    I hadn’t seen her for over 25 years.

    In your terms I guess she used protective identifications a lot. Or as a friend of hers said, ” Suzannah put the knife in when you were feeling vulnerable.” That’s why I hadn’t seen her for 25 years.

    She had a hard life and I know her life story well enough to know some of why she felt so bad that she was horrid to people around her and why she drank herself to a relatively early grave.

    Once I was sleeping in a squatted building on my own when some people broke in and wanted to smash it up. For a while I talked them down.

    Sometimes I can let the threats come and go, reflect on them, reflect them back with empathy for myself and the other person. Sometimes I can’t. For some people, such as my step-mother, I was and maybe will never be able to.

  • I think the extreme measure called for in extreme situations is knocking on someone’s door, offering to be with them, telling them how you feel, and listening to them. I’d never call services, or go to them for help unless I knew what they were offering something useful. Usually they aren’t.

    But when someone does’t answer the door, the phone or online contact and is at risk for physical medical reasons or is so distressed that they could have committed suicide already (or be in the process of committing suicide) is a real possibility I will call the police. They could be dead, in which case it needs dealing with, or they might not be in which case it might lead to them being sectioned, which while worse in most cases could lead to a constructive convesation about how to proceed when the person gets out if something similar occurs in the future.

    They were difficult choices.

  • Beautiful piece.

    Tonight I am visiting someone in hospital who will die soon. It is cancer and she has chosen no more treatment other than palliative.

    I have called the police on someone twice. They have type 1 diabetes and are also long term MH service survivors. They stopped answering the door for a few days. His blood sugar was often out of control and I knew he could go into a coma and die. Both times when the police arrived he answered the door to their knocks so they didn’t have to break the door down.

    Each time it was a struggle.

    I nearly did it another time when someone was not answering the phone or door but in the end she had been sectioned so that was why she was not answering the door.

    Most cases though I’d do what you did, maintain contact as best I could, allow them freedom, but insist they not to kill themselves where and in ways it interfered with me or people I know.

  • That is a really good question. I have been looking into, and using complaints procedures a lot this year.

    Whether one would be relevant to MIA is a also a good question as MIA is not a service or public body, which is what I have been putting in complaints about. It is an online magazine, has a forum, has educational projects and recommends resources. I think ways to complain about all of those should be available, easy to find and done in a fair an transparent manner. So I eagerly await to see if Steve answers your question.

  • I look forward to seeing how your moderation of the comments evolves.

    Personally I think that skilled moderation and clear guidelines are essential in managing blogs, especially ones dealing with subjects where people’s personal experiences of being hurt both emotionally and physically, are addressed.

    I have seen unmoderated online spaces used in ways that were used to settle scores and air grudges. Those need dealing with in other ways.

    I am also someone whose comments have been deleted or moderated. Often I know when what I have posted is likely to be moderated. I tend not to engage in discussion about that.

  • Nice article. I am giving a talk later this week that has a somewhat similar message, though from a decidedly more left wing point of view and from a UK perspective.

    We have a prime minister always banging on about mental health, initiatives to combat loneliness are publicly funded and suicide prevention boards in every county now but no one actually wants to discuss what drives people mad or to suicide or makes them lonely. Meanwhile services and benefits are cut, rents rise and landlords can evict at a moments notice for no reason, local pubs close down and are turned into luxury flats, homelessness increases, psychiatric drug prescriptions go up, awful counselling services where you get six weeks CBT to get the mildly distressed back to work get funding while help for the seriously distressed and drug and alcohol and sexual health services are cut – and there are more billionaires in the country than ever before.

  • but they sacked him for his work on recreational drugs. He kept classifying drugs and not very harmful and the government wanted them all to be very very bad. He was quite honest about recreational drugs, it’s the psychiatric ones he gets his knickers in a twist about. But then he was in the pay of GlaxoSmithKlien.

    If only he had stuck to saying what the real risks of recreational drugs were and telling it as it is all would have been well.

  • Wow, either Nutt is very busy and thought the book he helped put together is enough or he is an arrogant t****er (English word that should not be translated in polite company.)

    He is an interesting chap who got himself into hot water with the government over the classification of illegal drugs. He said a lot of them are a lot less dangerous than the government would like so they sacked him from his job assessing such things for the government. His views on depression however make me wonder who he is in the pay of.

  • In the UK psychiatric services have been cut but the government is stressing mental health at work and, “Parity of Esteem.” Something else is going on apart from there being psychiatrists selling stuff. There is a growing market in mindfulness teachers and aromotherapists and such like, mainly aimed at the middle class, while services are taken away from the working class. Those services are not just mental health, but also children’s centres and youth centres and women’s aid.

    So I think there is something else going on. Part of it is the marketing of psyche drugs and GP’s prescribing them but also mental health being used as a distraction from the misery caused by extreme capitalism.

  • Power, Threat, Meaning:

    To be, or not to be: that is the question:
    Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
    No more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
    To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause: there’s the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life;
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
    The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
    The insolence of office and the spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death,
    The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
    No traveller returns, puzzles the will
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pith and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action.—Soft you now!
    The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
    Be all my sins remember’d.

  • except that as a poofy woofter homosexulist I didn’t define my experience by a psychiatric label or definition. Autism is a Dr’s definition.

    Nuerodiverstiy sounds like science but has not scientific basis.

    Behavioural diversity I can understand.

    Queer Freaks I can understand.

    Nuerodiversity is still something that I don’t know what it refers to. Maybe i’ll look it up?

  • As it happens I looked up the symptoms of Aspergers and such like on google this very evening.

    I found a prestigious UK site and looked up it up. What I found was a list of vague symptoms that could apply to almost anyone and a lot of circular logic.

    Controversial though init, as a lot of people with the diagnosis like it and get really narked if you say it has no validity.

  • I agree institutionalisation plays a part in creating chronic patients.

    I have no convincing evidence to counter the arguments that Whittaker et al have proposed that psyche drugs are harmful and stop recovery in most people.

    I would welcome an article on learned helplessness and institutionalisation caused by psychiatry. I would not want to share this one because it conflates those ideas with an investigation into the effect of psychiatric drugs.

    I would welcome an article on the psychological damage of psyche drugs based on psychological theories and challenging biochemical ideas, eg the nocebo theory, but I would need more evidence for me to take it seriously and for it to be one I would share.

    There are non psychiatric drugs that cause psychological harm. I was prescribed one for asthma and having read the potential side effects I decided not to take it. I have a friend who was prescribed another drug that is an antibiotic that affected her state of mind badly, it is a known effect of this drug. Therefore you argument that psychiatric drugs do not cause mental distress seems unlikely and unproved.

  • I have just had the second ADHD post in my facebook feed from friends this week.


    I may have to cut then out of my friends lists if they do it again.

    I have posted this article on the ADHD ACTION website though. I hope she doesnt’ try and message me again. I’m not up to a polite convo with an angry Big Pharma shill (OK, I’m making that one up. I have no idea why the women behind this loves her diagnosis and is proselytising to wildly)

  • The thread above is closed so I will reply here.

    Thanks Frank. The Michelle case was a mess. Bullying someone by text or in some other online manner, who then kills themselves, should be a crime. That was not happening here but that was what the prosecution was alleging. The whole situation was a mess and legally what happened was appaling. However I dont’ think it is the same as standing by and being a witness to someone who want to end thier life.

  • Frank wrote about Szasz, a professional, not a friend or family member, which was your point.

    Here in the UK mental, someone in my local bin set fire to themselves and the room they were in and died. There is an enquirey but I doubt anything will happen to anyone.

    I can understand your concerns about professionals trying to restrain people who are suicidal but I think the answer to that is to end forced treatment. Indeed I doubt the problem you raise there will not end until forced treatment end.

    Actually I think sometimes offering understanding does change minds, and sometimes it doesn’t. However I doubt that neither you are I are going to scout the internet to find evidence of our claims.

    I’m still interested in news stories of those who were prosecuted for being witnesses to those who killed themselves.

  • I have saw the letters on two days ago.

    The goal would be let the person know that you cared about them and you would miss them but to be open to listening to what they have to say. The effect is that often people change their minds. That for those who care about them is a pleasant out come as they still want their company.

    I have never heard of people being persecuted for non intervening witnesses. Could you put up a link to a news story about that?

  • There is no law against suicide. The majority of the UK, where I live, are not religious.

    There are suicide prevention strategies which have some sensible ideas like making it harder to jump in front of trains. There are suicide prevention strategies that ignore that poverty and bullying at work are big drivers of suicide.

    There are laws against helping people kill themselves in most, but not all countries.

    I am in the UK and I have a friend who contacted Dignitas, that Swiss assisted dying organisation. He has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. A few years ago they offered to kill him at a discounted rate.

    He didn’t take up the offer, is slowly reducing his psyche drugs, gets therapy sometimes, and is now hopeful of a pleasant future.

    He still gets letter from Dignitas, which makes money from killing people. I think he asked them to take him off their database and so far they have not. Perhaps the death business is profit driven, just like psychiatry?

    Disability organisations in the UK oppose assited dying for a host of reasons. Here is an article about it

    I am undecided on the issue of assisted dying.

    I think offering suicide to unhappy people when thier lives could be transfromed by proper social provision, better benerfits and taxing the billionaires until the pips squeak is in most cases immoral, espcially when people make money out of it.

    The most anyone can offer anyone who wants to kill themselves is to try to understand why, often that will be enough for them to change their mind, though sometimes it isn’t.

  • I am not actively involved in this struggle in a big way these days. When I was I thought that support services that were named as being run by antipsychiatry organisations would be a good tactic. If peer run orgs said they were providing services because psychiatry was dangerous it would have an impact.

    Some think that the most dangerous thing that the Black Panthers did was to run breakfast programmes for school children. Implicit in that action was the idea that the state is starving black children. They didn’t have to mount protests to show what they meant. This was a big threat to the white government. Perhaps peer support got coopted because it was a threat?

  • Well done in breaking free and taking this to court and especially well done on acting as your own lawyer.

    “Since the summary and technical judgment, it has come out that the defendant psychiatrist’s legal defence has been paid for in whole (or at bare minimum, in part) with taxpayer money. I have not received any taxpayer money to fund the plaintiff’s side.” I think this is worth investigating more and seeing if it contravenes any human rights or other legislation and taking up with your politicians as this seems a hugely important issue an seems to me to be contrary to natural justice.

  • I think psychiatry is a mixed bag. While I realise this is rubbish as a figure it lets you know how I feel about things: I think psychiatry is 80% harmful and 20% useful. The useful things are listening, talking, understanding, encouraging, providing sanctuary and even drugging people into some semblance of peace when nothing else is available. None of that needs to be provided for by psychiatry and often isn’t.

    For myself I usually the functions of psychiatry are to be the drug delivery agent of Big Pharma and to make sure no one thinks about why people are distressed.

    If on a societal level, ie the powers that be were held to account, thought about why people were distressed then the powers that be would have to have a lot less power as poverty, racism, sexism, violence and sexual assault are at the bottom of so much mental distress. Plainly the powers that be would not welcome that, so yes I agree psychiatry on the whole is about social control.

    So I suspect our positions are not too far apart. I am saying it is politically sensible to acknowledge that a lot of people do, and will always need support.

  • I almost entirely agree with your excellent sentiments, especially, ” the collective trauma of living under a corporate dictatorship,” however human distress is universal and societies need systems of care to address this. It doesn’t need to be psychiatry but I suspect most societies needs something that is organised to help address the needs of the severely distressed.

  • “psychiatric illness can best be viewed as a biologically based socio-cultural expression.”

    Not in my book. First I’m not keen on the term, “Psychiatric illness.” Second, the biologically based bit is a red herring and a dangerous one at that. If this drug don’t work, try that one, etc etc etc. Forget the biology.

    The only thing that is good about ecstasy is that is it about as dangerous as horse riding, according to Proff Nutt, and therefore a whole lot safer than other psyche drugs.

    Personally I’d prefer a good friend to drugs any day.

    Nuff said.

  • In the UK if a patient wants to reduce their drugs their requests are usually ignored the staff.

    “Like insulin for diabetes,” is often said to patients by staff.

    The psychiatrists I hear about seem to know anything about drug reduction or dopamine super sensitivity.

    Maybe Robin will let them know his opinions soon?

    I’m not holding my breath

  • The author writes: “….an extraordinary level of arrogance, condescension and even narcissism.”

    Nothing extraordinary there, those are the character traits displayed by the most memorable psychiatrists I have met.

  • we have everyday problems being psychiatrised in the UK too, but with an NHS.

    I read a bit of propaganda recently from a particularly bad anti-stigma campaign that said, “We all have mental health.”

    Yuk is my response. We all have states of mind but why bring medicine into it?

  • That is a very pull your socks up or shut up attitude.

    I find that people don’t do things, including writing, for all sorts of reasons.

    As an example, I sometimes teach voice work. I have worked with people who mumble. I found more than once that they would start talking more clearly once they had talked over some trauma. I did allsorts of technical work with someone who was really hard to understand. It helped a bit, but not a lot. For some reason we started talking about how we had both seen our fathers try to strangle our mothers. His voice grew clear and easy to understand.

    If you have faith in a professional you may well do what they say. If they say you will never write a book and you have faith in them you may well believe them and act appropriately. It is the opposite of the placebo effect.

  • Really interesting article.

    So psychiatry is muscling in on the criminal justice system is it?

    This makes Frances assertion that a whole load of prisoners should be in psychiatric hands seem like him and his colleagues just touting for extra business and not being about caring for people at all.

  • I knew Jean. I think she killed herself for a variety of reasons. One big one was that she hated psychiatric drugs that she was forced to take and she hated the ward she was put on when she had breakdowns. She saw no escape.

    The doctors knew she hated the drugs but could not imagine any other way of treating her.

    I feel slighly guilty as I started Speak Out Against Psychiatry and I think that raised her hopes of getting off the drugs and freeing herself of psychiatry. I am no longer involved in anti-psychiatry campaigning but if I was I would make sure that setting up good advocacy, drug withdrawal help and social support was at the heart of it.

  • “It is reasonable to assume,” write the authors, “that the number of people in England receiving ECT annually within NHS Trusts had continued its steady decline until around 2006 (to a low of about 1,300), but then increased and stabilized for a few years at about double that number.”

    My guess is that the rise corresponded with the outfall from the 2008 crash: lots of depressed people, a series of right wing governments who cut benefits and also services, including mental health services. This lead to a rise in mental health diagnosis due to rising inequality and poverty but less psychological help available due to the cuts.

  • Funnily enough I was at a talk about strategy last night. It was given by George Lakey, who was promoting his new book Viking Economics, about how the 1% were beaten back in the 1930’s in the Nordic countries leading to social democracy.

    He said when loosing to the forces of reaction it is always tempting to go on the defensive to try to maintain what has already been won. He said this is a mistake. He said when under attack create a bigger vision and use that to draw in others and then go for it big time with well thought out tactics.

    I agree that money and corruption is a problem, esp in the USA. I agree with joining with other movements.

    I think the message is out there that Big Pharma is dangerous, that psychiatry is nasty, that profit driven healthcare is dishonest and not fair. Social Entrepunership and what is happening in Masschutus shows us what is possible but the 1% rules the rest of the country (and the world) and will do so until people fight back in well thought out campaigns.

    What is needed is organising this movement in some kind of structure and then a strategy that involves direct action.

    Mainly I think it is time to take the messages of Robert Whitaker and others and turn them into smart campaigns using direct action tactics: a hearing voices group at the AGM of some insurance company, die in’s at Big Pharma offices to protest the mass poisoning that is Prozac and ritalin and olanzapine, hammers to ECT machines in hospitals to stop shock, Open Dialogue meetings in the lobby’s of hospitals to get more less lock up and drugs and more social support.

    Without well thought out campaigns with some kind of dramatic actions and mass organisation this struggle will go nowhere. I say that because other struggles got successful when they too took that road.

    Here is a George Lakey piece on campaigns

  • give in, stop trying, be miserable
    exercise, esp in groups (eg walking groups, going to the gyn, green gym – alias bramble bashing and other conservation activities)

    Kirsch’s work implies that anything that inspires hope, prescribed by someone you have faith in, especially if they are interested in you, your life and how you see things, is likely to be helpful. So that could be therapists, friends, counselors, alternative health practitioners such as homeopaths and acupuncturists

  • I once heard someone talk about how in one small part of Rural Denmark (now I maybe wrong on the country) the community had designed an addiction service that involved family and other networks. It sounded like a variation on Open Dialogue, where family and other important people are invited to conversations with trained staff (therapists, social workers, psychiatrists etc) and those conversations might happen every day for a week or so and then tail off. Central to this model is the idea that someone needs social support and that all treatment decisions are made by discussion with all relevant parties.

    Drugs could still be prescribed in this model and attendance at meetings would be entirely voluntary. People who have been through addiction and come out the other side would probably have useful things to say as the skilled and trained helpers.

    I am interested in this model as families and communities often struggle as to what to do when someone turns to drugs and I think they need support too.

  • Peers and Peer Support: He who pays the piper plays the tune.

    Nuff said.

    Or to put it less cryptically: peer support, trained or untrained, run by psychiatric survivors and their allies and from an anti-psychiatry ideology is what I want to see. Most of the rest is co-opted nonsense which at it’s best gives service users a much needed step back into paid employment.

    There are of course a few exceptions, such as peer supported Open Dialogue in the UK, but they are rare.

  • I think this is a really interesting article. I’d like to see some other studies comparing different cultures incidences of psychotic diagnosis and see them related to their histories.

    Eric tied the high level in post war Germany to war trauma. I’d like to know if other countries that have suffered recent wars have high levels of psychotic diagnosis.

    If anyone knows of such studies please let me know.

  • I have seen many professionals who work in the system who blog and comment on this site not get a hard time from people who have been harmed by psychiatry.

    Personally I think that those who have been harmed by psychiatry have a right shout down anyone who they disagree with.

    The comments are moderated, as I know only two well, having had a few removed in my time.

    If you feel the way comments are moderated should be changed I suggest you take it up with the people who run the site.

  • We have no idea why the Dr’s concluded that it was mental illness, whatever that is? All I can assume is that they could find no physical cause and therefore assumed it was psychological in origin. I think that is an easy way out for the Dr. Much better that they say they have found no cause.

    I hear people with mental health diagnosis sometimes have physical symptoms dismissed as being psychological in origin with no or little evidence.

    I also know someone with long term chronic pain caused by real physical disease who learnt to deal with it largely by psychological and behavioural methods. So these things are often complex.

  • If you give Dr’s the power to take away someone’s rights and force drugs on them they do not want and to ignore them, which is what happens in most wards, then why would you expect what you offer to be examined by anyone outside your organisation?

    The law has given you the impression psychiatrists can do what they want. Why would they comply with people who call you to account?

  • If I post what I think needs to be done again I shall probably be banned.

    Enough of the comments, where is the action?

    Where is the organising?

    Where are the banner drops, invasions of pharmacies, Dr’s offices, Big Pharma offices, MP’s offices and schools?

    Where is the publically organised outrage?

    Breggin and co gives the info. Nothing will change until people get of thier arses and take action.

    Breggin and co will not organise the masses, they will not lead ACT UP type campaigns. It us up to us.

  • And yet UK GP’s are pleased by the increase in prescribing over the last ten years as they say the drugs are effective. They also say that there are withdrawal effects but these can be managed by coming off them slowly over a couple of months which is completely counter to what many ssri withdrwal support groups report.

    Meanwhile, in another land, I see no epidemiology that shows a reduction in days off work for depression as a result of all these extra drugs being prescribed.

    Big disconect going on here. I largely blame Time to Change, the UK big funded anti stigma campaign. Disease like any other init? Bound to drive up prescriptions, especially with a depression and austerity policies putting the majority of the population under financial stress.

    I love John Read’s work by the way.

  • I agree with the gist of your argument but I still think that the practical points outlined in the article can be fought for by those who seek reform and those that seek abolition.

    It would all depend on who was leading a perticular campaign as to what the overall aim was but I would hope that both camps would cooperate on any campaign that led to less forced treatment, less drugging, less ECT and more humane compassion.

  • I was offered this. I turned it down. I had to go through so many hoops to get the offer too.

    They do it because health care in the UK is increasingly marketised. Providers compete to provide packages of healthcare. This one looks good on outcomes, if you measure them in the right way, just like the drugs do if you run the tests yourself.

  • I am just re reading your book, Psychiatry and the Business of Madness, and am struck by the section on form filling and how that effects the experience of inmates in hosptals. Whether there were drugs or not hospitals as they stand would still be a kind of soft prison with observations and locked wards and not a lot of getting to know and support people in distress.

    Today I performed at a Mental Health Arts Festival and afterwards someone said they were really glad I had written about psychiatric oppression in the programme notes.

  • That sounds like a strategic answer not a sience or ethics based one. That is, strategically psychiatry is likely to be weakened by the use of critical psychiatry arguments and allieing to critical psychiatrists and other respected professionals.

    Where as I takea an anti-psychiatry viewpoint and am willing to seek allies from critical psychiatrists and other respected proffessionals. Oddly my position partly comes from reading Mad in America which details the history of USA psychiatry and from which I came to the conclusion that psychiatry has always done more harm than good, it is not just a modern phenoma.

  • I read your post but cannot see how it relates to the article. At the moment it reads to me like you are posting about a personal bugbear that may or may not relate to it.

    Timimi runs a child and adolescent clinic where many children who would at other clinics get a diagnosis of ADHD are helped. His clinic on the whole is drug free and diagnosis free. It also has far better outcomes than most other CAMH’s clinics.

    Some of the clients come from other clinics and are on drugs and have diagnosis. Most of those, once they have heard the benefits and downside of diagnosis and drugs decide to drop them, though some decide to keep them. I therefore think that if no diagnosis, no medication and lots of conversation are all needed to help a child then that is between the parent, the child and doctor. However this was not the main point of the article.

    I can see your personal experience and opinions are counter to Timimi’s practice however the article on the whole is not about that, it is about scientific outcomes of a variety of studies. Could you therefore go back to the article and copy and paste bits of it and then tell me how your post relates to the article? That way I and perhaps others might be able to debate with you.

  • Here are the lyrics from the song in the article:

    “I took pills for my depression

    just to smother my emotions.

    Doctors said that I would need them,

    but I learned to cry without them.

    So I stopped taking the tablets,

    then I let my feelings rise up

    for my mother when she passed on,

    for my marriage when he quit me,

    left me as a single mother,

    with a hard job and no weekends.

    Now I weep without taking pills,

    yet I still feel very angry,

    and the fury seems well-founded,

    but the feelings will not hurt me.”

  • I suspect there is a difference between Bonnies’ ideas and Julie as Julie is anti therapy and Bonnie is, amongst other things, a therapist.

    I wonder if either of the two of you could elucidate on this further?

    I read Masson’s book Against Therapy and while I have some sympathy with his views. After all Soteria House was set up by a psychaitrist, run by carefully chosen people who had n training and who got to talk to a social worker about what was going on once a week yet they had brilliant outcomes.

    David Smail wrote an essay comparing therapists and prostitutes. He wrote that prostitutes sold sex and therapists sold love – or something near it.

    I am not against therapy myself but niether do I put therapists on pedastals.

  • It must be hard to be at the coal face and see all this cruelty meterred out to tramatised people.

    I congratulate you for carrying on.

    I have witnessed it myself as a friend of people who are persecuted by psychiatry – because that is what it is, a kind of persecution.

  • A quick google search and I find two articles on this, one saying CBT is no better than other forms of therapy, the other saying that it is for anxiety and depression and possible other forms of distress.

    You pays your money and you takes your choice.

    Unless you have the skills and time to in detail analyse the two articles and write up fair critiques of either.

    Here are the links – says no difference – says CBT probably better, at least for anxiety and depression.

    Personally I found not being in dire poverty and being part of a supportive community helped more than anything.

  • “…cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, and Recovery International. They were all harmful and pathologizing at worst and ineffective at best,” I like a bit of icnoclasm.

    I’ve done a few of those things and sometimes they were helpful, sometimes not. I’ve also done something like Large Group Awareness Trainings and I’ve avoided other types of large group therapy experiences. One small group weekend event I left thinking the people running it were petty bullies, but I still got something out of it. Another I left as they said they were for gay men but then said we could not be out to the staff of the centre they hired as it might traumatise them – oh dear, self oppression from gay therapists, how sad.

    There is a basic bit of therapy research that says that what helps people is the relationship between the therapist and the client, as assessed by the client. I suspect that is true for Large Group Awareness Trainings. Those who are good at running groups in a senstive manner have good results, those who are bullies end up with compliant robots and people having breakdowns. Most of them however are probably cults with bullies running them. Well done you on spotting that and for exiting this one.

  • I think availability of methods to commit suicide are an important factor in reducing the incidence. The availability of certain drugs and of firearms are two things to consider on both a societal and household level.

    I can’t find information on where restricting which drugs are sold over the counter by country related to suicide rate but it would be interesting to investigate. I have not looked up how the availability of guns is correlated to suicide rate either but as the gun violence rate is related to availability of guns I suspect suicide rates are also related.

  • I have often sat with people who are psychiatric patients and within an hour they will tell me about thier truamatic histories. I ask them if the services know about this and they say no. I ask them how long they have been in services and they say 10 – 20 – 30 years. I ask why they do not tell the services and they say in so many words they do not trust them and they are not worth telling.

    So I completly agree with you about how service users so often see staff, and quite rightly so in my opinion, as untrustworthy

  • My step mum is a sick in the head drunk.

    I’m pretty mad at her (though in one of those confused, I’m sorry for her, she had a hard life, I don’t want to make her life worse, how much did I deserve all her abusive comments and being the victim of her soap opera of a life, way).

    Does she have a disease? Only in a metaphorical way:

    O Rose thou art sick.
    The invisible worm,
    That flies in the night
    In the howling storm:

    Has found out thy bed
    Of crimson joy:
    And his dark secret love
    Does thy life destroy.

    William Blake – Sick Rose – init?

  • Sami Timimi and two people who were diagnosed with autism, but who later de diagnosed themselves wrote a book called The Myth of Autism: medicalising men and boys sociall and emotional competance

    They also wrote a paper for the BMJ saying autism is not a scientifically valid or clinically useful diagnosis

    Timimi is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who has published on Mad in America. Timimi, Cabe and Gardener write that people’s individual experiences and those of them around them need to be taken into account when offering help and that a diagnosis of autism is a distraction from that. I believe there arguent is also that late capitalism demands people who have good customer service skills and those are often more feminine ways of being. Therefore boys behaviour, which in previous generations would have been fine in the workplace, are now medicalised.

    Interesting argument, I like it, many will take issue with it.

  • OMG – I just watched the vid. Horror movie meets early public health HIV AIDS add.



    If this is what Autism and Mental Health Awarness Month is about I wanna see that blockbuster movie now. Gotta be better than the last X-men movie.

    Did they really raise huge ammounts of money and say they were supporting people with autism? Surely they are a front for some wild neo-fascist, kill all people with learning disabilities, fringe group?

    Or am I wrong?

  • Neurodiversity is an interesting social movement however I have yet to see any data to back up the theory. If you have any please share.

    I do however think that people with different personalities should not be give medical labels or offered medical treatment.

  • “……….a cocktail of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines at age 13…….”

    How common is this?

    At this point I ask why not add a horse tranquiliser?

    These people, these so called doctors, are but legalised drug pushers.

  • I have a less jaudiced view of therapy and counselling though I have also experienced harmful practices too. I think that good practice is found inside and outside the mental health system and while there are varied prctices it has some simple principles shared by many other disciplines. I think these principles are:

    1 caring for someone
    2 trying to understand someone
    3 offering encouragement

    I think they are also found in community work, self help groups and from good freinds as well as other places.

    Peter Breggin asked his clients what it was that he did that helped and they said he cared for them until they felt they could care for themselves. That doesn’t sound like a value that is only held by therapists or counsellors, it is how we often act towards friends who are in distress such as when they are grieving after the death of someone close. Bad therapy is where the thearpist thinks they know what is best for you and that sounds like what you have experienced from the metal health system.

    Dorothy Rowe, writer and retired thearpist, was once part of a debating team that proposed the motins that Thearpy has caused more harm than good, and Jeffrey Masson wrote a book called Against Therapy, so I suspect you will have many supporters in your views. It is a debate that I think is well worth having though.

  • Thanks for telling us about your experience of the Sunrise Centre and of cults in general.

    I have a freind who is a cult survivor, mainly of religious and New Age cults. They damaged her quite considerably both emotionaly and finacially.

    I agree that one sucees story is not sufficient evidence of effectivness. I also agree that no programem should say, “You have to keep coming back.” Effective help, of any kind, leaves people feeling better and should be open to someone coming back if they want to and eventually they should leave the person moving on and not needing the programme.

    Often cults will offer something that is helpful, such as the calming down found in meditation and other religious and New Age practices, or the expression of emotion and telling of ones story to someone who listens, as found in therapy cults. Often this then ceases to help and the cult blames the person for not trying hard enough or doing the practice sufficiently. I do not think RC blames people if it does not work as they tend to be at the happy clappy end of cult behaviour, but they do stress that people should keep on with the practice of RC and stress, “Discharge,” ie expressing hurt emotions, as a route to cure. Expressing hurt emotions (having a good cry, shouting at the TV when Trump says something idiotic etc etc) is something we all do and often we feel better afterwards but it not the only thing that helps us deal with difficult situations and neither is encouraging someone to express emotion the only thing we do when trying to help someone in distress, though sitting with someone in distress and offering comfort is part of what we might do when appropriate.

    So expressing distressing emotion to someone who is listening is the hook RC has that pulls people in and it can be useful at times for some people. The push to keep repeating it as the cure, the waccy practices and the exagerated believes are the rubbish that goes along with it are what I see as the dangerous part of RC. RC people often say that groups that have progressed in society, such as women, have done so due to discharging distress and this has allowed them to achieve things. This is partly coopting consciosness raising practices which both the women’s liberation movement, the LGBT liberation movement and Paolo Friere’s work with landless peasants in Brazil stressed but is also rubbish. Women got the vote due to effective political organising and yes people may have had a good old rant and a cry when doing this but it wasn’t the only way political solidarity emerged. Political groups that engage in consciousness raising then go onto put together practical programmes such as founding LGBT phonelines, women organising pregnancy testing centres, peasants setting up trade unions or health centres. RC’ers just do more counselling. Whether their personal lives are better is a moot point and open to debate and personal annecdote but it isn’t changing the world.

    I gained from some of my time with them, I learnt some listening skills I also cringed at some of what I experienced, and am unlikely to engage with them agian. I don’t think they did me serious harm though I have seen some RC’ers with fixed grins that are just creepy.

    I am also concerned that the founder, Harvey Jackins, who is now dead, was accused of rape and sexual assault by a number of his women clients, and that the organisation had no proper investigation or democratic structure to deal with such complaints. Tim Jackins, his son, now runs the organisation. While not everyone involved in RC may know of this scandal I would be very suspicious of anyone who did know who continued to be involved.

  • I knew a good worker who was part of a very small group that did theatre based consultancy to help service users get more of what they wante (we put on plays about how bad psychiatry is, they watched and then discussed them. The service users grew in confidence and supported each other better as a result). I wrote a stinking letter about her employer to the local paper explaining how badly a freind was being treated. She resigned as she felt personally attacked.

    You can’t run with the hare and the houds, as Dr Ragins is finding out.

  • thanks Richard.

    I think you can learn a lot from RC, specifically how to improve you ability to listen to people and how to sit with people in distress in a useful way but I also think there is a whole wierd philosophy and ways of working that risk being open to not being scrutinsed, are hierachical and open to abuse.

    I really want programmes for people who want support in coming of psychiatric drugs. I especially want to see them run by people who are actively criticising psychiatry. I think group work is important. I think there are many models for learning and practicing those skills. RC is one I have reservations about.

  • I agree.

    I like the UK psychiatrists statement that psychiatric diagnsosis is potentially damanging and that there are already alternatives such as psychological formulation. Which sounds a bit like gobblebegook until you realise that psychological formulation means asking someone what thier problems is, what might have caused it and what might help? Which is no more than most of us can do most of the time.

  • I like the sound of the centre and it’s mission to help people come off psychiatric drugs. I do think that services such as these are essential for this movement to flourish. However I am suspicious of Re-evaluation Counseling. I am all in favour of effective self help therapy and other methods but Harvey Jackins, the founder of Re-evaluation Counseling was a sex pest and the techniques of Re-evaluation Counseling lend themselves to wierd and waccy methods. I wish the author good luck but I would love to hear user expereinces of this project.

    While the old concerns about Re-evaluation Counseling may not be relevant to this organisation they do concern me sufficiently to post an old Mind Freedom article about it, in which they call it a cult

  • I’d appreciate it if Robert Whittiker could comment on the studies D S Goel, MD mentions as he seems to have the best grasp of such things.

    Annecdotaly I know a family who want thier adult son medicated with clozapine and he wants to come off it. He tells me of all the things that drive him mad. He tells me the services know nothing of these things. Same old story I’ve heard many time from other people. He is applying to the Open Dialogue programme in London where he hopes his traumas will be taken seriously and the drugs will be prescribed in a way that takes his wishes into account, which is what seems to be happening on these new Norwiegian wards.

  • I went to the London conference on Open Dialogue. It was a very friendly affair.

    I spoke to all sorts of people including a nurse who had trained in Open Dialogue and was doing that work three days a week. He liked his doing the work. He also did two days doing other work, which is what the majority of his colleagues does, and he hates it.

    He found out I was from Reading. He said the person who was his best man at his wedding was there, in Prospect Park Hospital, the local psychiatric hospital. He knows how inadaquate, damaging and bad his friends treatment is and is powerless to do anything, though he talks to his freind on the phone and internet quite often (his friend does not want to see him face to face often as it reminds him of the life he has lost).

    I wonder if Dr Ragins has any advice to that might be of any solace to the nurse who has for three days a week found a way of helping people in distress that uses few drugs and on the whole is democratic but for the rest of the week has to give out drugs, fill in forms and on the whole ignore people, some of whom are forced to be on wards where they do not want to be? Leave his job? Go part time on the Open Dialogue work and get a part time job on to compensate the loss of earnings? Found a militant anti-psychiatry campaign? Start using the drugs to slow some of his psychiatrist colleagues down?

  • I think a lot of good workers leave due to frustration and being ground down.

    I think the essential skills on top of those of being caring and understanding of clients are those of being a community worker, trade union activist and political activist. At the very low level of being caring to clients those skills maybe needed if the dehumanising effect of working for psychiatric services are to b countered.

    Consider when the author says, “focus on building protective factors (e.g. safe housing, money for necessities and emergencies..” and then consider what that means in the age of Trump? Housing shortages and homelessness with low wages and precarious work patterns mean safe housing and money for necessities and emergencies are not avaialable for a lot of poeple and poverty is the biggest risk factor for getting a diagnosis for mental illness.

    Being a part of fighting back against what I shall call the stinking rich is an essential part of being a good worker who supports those who are mentally distressed.

  • “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.

  • This made me laugh. I didn’t think all the hype around Katamine for depression would stand up. Why would it? Depression is caused by a set of believes that arise out or life circumstances and how people interpret them not some chemical reason.

    I didn’t think it would go very far anyway, I don’t think it would make anyone much money being an old drug and therefore probably out of patent.

  • no idea what you mean love.

    What I meant, and explained so badly, was that this list of symptoms of not what I think depression is.

    To make depression a list of symptoms like this allows for expansion of diagnosis and therefore more prescription of drugs.

    That list of symptoms, depressed thoughts, low motivation, “feelings of guilt, nights with sleeping problems,” just sounds like someone having a bit of difficult time. For some this is transient, for some it goes on and one, or it might rather dominate a person’s life. But it still doesn’t make it depression.

    I don’t think this is what the author meant, but I wanted to bring this up as I think it demeans those who do suffer depression to make it a list of symptoms.

    I often have this list of symptoms and am not depressed.

    I have written three good things down and felt a bit better. I have done this before. This may not work for someone who severely depressed. Any good thing would be a reminder that everything else is not good, or the person would not be able to think of anything good. I had a friend who when we went out and had a great time would lock himself away and not speak to anyone for days and go into a profound crisis because it reminded him of how bleak the rest of his life was. His life was partly bleak because of psychiatry, though not entirely. He needed more than writing good things down to help him, though I did offer this to him. He needed someone to understand him, his state of mind and what might have caused it.

    People who are depressed when speaking use metaphors of complete isolation. A famous example would be the book, The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath.

    Dorothy Rowe wrote a book called Depression, a way out of your prison. She elsewhere wrote the there is a depression between unhappiness and depression. People who are unhappy can reach out to others and are not completely psychologically isolated. I am basing what I write on her ideas.

  • “It is also quite normal to have days with depressed thoughts, low motivation, feelings of guilt, nights with sleeping problems, ……”

    Sounds like me most weeks love.

    Not going for a major depressive diagnosis though.

    Depression is a feeling of being totally alone, of being in a box, of the past and future being bad etc etc.

    I ain’t like that. Just a miserable git.

  • Don’t be silly, if you end up thinking like that you’ll have to end up saying all diagnosis are irrelevant and the drugs are just treating symptoms at best and that we need to look at societal causes of mental distress.

    Now where is that going to leave your average psychiatrist? Joining some local anarcho-syndicalist protest group? I think not, there’s not enough money in it and it might involve some actual, you know, thinking.

    Hey ho.

  • so they gave you a downer, Ativan, an SSRI and then they gave you speed and they made you take it every day.

    Not even the most desperate thrill seeking drug addict would take that every day. Yet these people who prescribed this nonsense combination call themselves Doctors.

    They are not. They are drug pushers for the greed driven mobsters, Big Pharma.

  • The author of the book, when she had recovered, went back to interview the psychiatrist who prescribed the drugs. At one point he said she was ill and was basically trying to use her diagnosis to undermine her credibility. She bravely carried on the conversation and pointed out that psychosis was a known side effect on the leaflet provided with the drug. He eventually backed down and admitted that the drugs could have made catastrophically her ill. She had to be very persistent and he probably realised she was an investigative journalist and his reputation was on the line. If she wasn’t, or if she was still a patient she would almost certainly have been dismissed.

  • I found this book in the library today

    It is a really well written account of how psychiatric drugs, primarily anti-depressants robbed a woman of her life for a year and sent her psychotic and dangerous. The author is a journalist so it is well researched and written in a style that combines a tragic personal story with gripping research.

  • indeed this maybe the case, however the majority of the blog is about him being coerced to take medication after he was released and how he eventually came off that drug.

    Forensic psychiatry may believe that keeping people on drugs lowers risk of violence but that may not be the case. In this case he has not repeated his crime despite not taking the drugs that his psychiatrists recommended and tried to coerce him into taking and that is worth noting.

  • I can quite believe that the hospital has injured and killed people. Once someone is labelled as insane or mad they are deemed to be a non person.

    When we say someone is mad we mean what they do or say is not valid and not worth investigating to find out if it is valid. We dismiss that person. We never look at context, ie why the person is acting in a certain way.

    It is very easy to treat someone who is labelled mad in a horrible way. Lock them away behind closed doors and the risk increases as no one can see what is happening to them.

    Your best chance of helping your son is to do what you have done, bring his plight to the world’s attention and ask for help.

    I wish you and your son good luck in what must seem an enormous task.

  • Easy Peasy:


    is my slogan, the rest is in the press release which highlights any help available for coming off antidepressants.

    If you make the message clear that they are addictive in the banner drop and then back it up in the press release the message should be simple enough to understand.

    Better still combine a banner drop and a press release with setting up a support group for coming off them. Remember to make sure to say this is being done because psychiatry is evil and in the pay of drug companies.

    A banner drop, a press release and a speak out by people who have been made ill by the drugs, including those who are struggling to come off them would be even better and might put pressure on GP’s to set up withdrawal services and prescribe them less.

    There are many ways of educating primary care physicians and my proposal is only one way

  • I think that any voluntary body could take up Open Dialogue or any other model and provide it for free providing they could get people to administer it.

    The big question then is who would do that?

    If you take the term Open Dialogue away you have people talking to the person in distress and those around them to try and offer understanding and encourage the people around the person to understand them too. Once someone’s social needs for housing, food and water are sorted I don’t think there is much more anyone can offer.

    When I was involved in campaigning against psychiatry I did think of setting up a free servcie like this, partly because we had so many people in distress and at risk of being detained against thier will and forcibly drugged. I never did and I am not involved in that anymore. But I think it would be possible to do on a small scale.

  • I think Open Dialogue is a method pionered in Western Lapland, part of Finland, in a socialised healthcare system. It isn’t in a neoliberal context there.

    The rest of Finland does not have a neoliberal healthcare system either. They choose to do the same as most of the rich world, drug people up and ignore them. I am not sure if they rejected it or never tried it and are dominted by conventional psychiatry who spurn any initiative that is not about drugging and neglect.

    The commoditification comes when it is delivered in systems where private providers compete to provide care packages.

  • I have never seen a grand strategy but I think it would be quite short. Maybe ten – 20 pages and a one page summary with maybe five key points.

    It would map out the forces that keep psychiatry in place, those opposed to it, potential allies, where psychiatry could be undermined and tactics that would be endorsed.

    Mabye one could be written online? Or at least started.

    Whether that would be put into action would be another matter but an idea of how it might look might be heartening.

  • I think most people assume that revolutions are violent.

    In reality some are, some are not. A lot are a mixture.

    Non-violent ones are more likely to succeed as it is easier for people to join the movement and it is numbers that seem to matter more than anything else.

    However I think while the ideas of Non-Violent Revolution as outlined by Gene Sharp and others over throwing psychiatry are very relevant it is not a revolutionary struggle, any more than the civil rights movement was. We are not talking about overthrowing a government. It is social movement made of many parts with many overlapping aims and ideologies and many potential allies.

  • In a previoius article the author quoted Gene Sharp, the academic whose life study is non-violent revolution. The phrase that caught my eye was:


    I think MiA has a strategy. Publish articles by commentators critical of psychiatry on this website, establish a group of people to manage the project, and slowly expand from there. It now has courses, forums and a film festival.

    Mad in America seems to be a slowly growing community. It is not however a movement to abolish psychiatry. There is no Grand Strategy at the moment to do that or any group coordinating such efforts. MiA may help one emerge though as people meet online and sometimes in person.

  • essentially these drugs are poisons.

    All drugs are poisons but in the right ammount at the right time they can be useful – very useful in some cases.

    In this case they are not very useful for most of the time but are still poisons

  • I have had the same response. Indeed I had the same response in 1992 when talking to a psychiatrist.

    I am not convinced that debating with psychiatrists is the best tactic though I see no harm in it providing you have a tough skin.

  • the clue here is in the study. It says, “most people diagnosed with depressive, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders recover without treatment within a year of diagnosis.” It does not say eveyone. Your experience is not everyones, and according to this study, not like the majority either.

    On what basis are you making your assertion that people do not get better on thier own and only get worse?

    There are other studies on depression that show that most people who have depression get better in about ten weeks without treatment, because for most people the depression is a result of life circumstances which either change or the person either comes to terms with what caused them to become depressed or they change thier life so as to no longer have that in thier life.

    I do not think this is about shaming modern treatments, it is about trying to make an assesment of thier effectiveness using a science based approach and looking at the evidence.

    Approaches that stress that mental illnes is an illness like any other has been shown to increase stigma. Approaches that say mental illness is the outcome of having a difficult life have been shown to reduce stigma. These are not just my opinions they are well researched.

  • if only……if only reporters were decent people
    ……………..if only editors only commissioned decent articles
    ……………..if only psychiatry wan’t such a pile of poo
    ……………..if only……………………………………………………………….

    If only survivors of psychiatry invaded the offices of The Boston Globe and shut it down

    I am a UK citizen but I shall end by quoting a USA citizen:

    “I have a dream……..”

  • I laughed at your description of Becky as I have just ended therapy with someone who was a bit like this, though not nearly as bad. There are very few people interested in what therapy is actually like for clients, when it helps and when it doesn’t and when it harms. It is an important topic and one well worth looking into.

    Personally I like this little video which more than debunks positive thinking, it eviscerates it

  • I am all too familiar with this dynamic.

    Shout, “The Emperor has no clothes,” too loudly and too often and you will be marginlised and bullied, your sanity will be called into doubt by others and if you hang around too long, by ourself.

    Congratulations on getting out and yes, this is a small, but growing community

  • “I suspect the same correlation can be found in the divorce rate and availability of marriage counselors. The incidence of unresolved grief and the availability of bereavement counselors, and the rate of ptsd and the availability or trauma counselors.”

    I suspect the rate of divorce is more related to well paid jobs for women. But, hey, maybe I’m wrong. I have no figures.

    Unresolved grief and ptsd are socail constructs. However mapping the relationship between trauma and distress has been done and it shows that those who have psychiatric diagnosis for psychosis (if you like the term) have high rates of easily identifiable trauma. But hey, lets not let facts get in the way of a good bit of rhetoric.

    Otherwise a good piece that describes what it is like to be on the outside of the common delusion of a place of work. Most of the good workers leave or get coopted.

  • Thanks for a reminder of this awful state of affairs of mass drugging of vulnerable people with addictive dangerous drugs that is so widespread.

    I guess it will go on until people start invading pharmacies, GP offices and Big Pharma conferences.

  • I think ECT against your will and being tied down is torture.

    It reads to me like this was done to him because he would not shut up and comply. That is why torture is often administrated – openly question the regieme and you are locked away and tortured. The analogy to how it is used in repressive regiemes is illuminating. Those outside the regime can critice, those in who dare to do so will be tortured.

    I think he may never recover from the ECT induced brain damage.

    I do not know what the outcome of those who were tortured is likely to be. I did look it up on torure survivor organisation websites but have not found out so far.

  • I think there is hope here. I think it is likley that drug and ECT prescribing psychiatrists, right wing politicians, racists and violent men all have epigenetic changes that result in cruelty and that this might be amenable to drug treatment.

    Lets hope so.

    What gets looked into first in terms of epigenetics and drug treatment does seem to show some bias by the researchers though.

  • “…similar programmes still in existence.”

    I’m not normally an advocate of violent methods but maybe in this case I will make an exception. You are basically describing torture, such as used the by US government in Guantanomo bay and used against troubled teenagers.

  • I can see it would great personal impact on all taking part. For me I think this would be of more importance to those who were actively harmed by psychiatry as patients than to workers.

    Workers might find it useful to do this to salve thier consciences and if still working in psychiatry to have more confidence in challanging mainstream practise and to have more empathy for clients. However I think most of them will still be in the position that most workers who are critical of psychiatry are of feeling trapped in a system that they are almost entirely helpless to transform. To do that they would need to work in a progressive unit, such as one practising open dialogue, or to have the support of something like The Critical Psychiatry Network.

    It sounds like a worthwhile, and well facilitated venture but that to achieve any systemic change it will be a very slow processout of which other modalities might arrise.

  • someone in an Al-anon meeting I went to said their Dr had given then an anti-depressant and that the Dr had said it was like insulin for diabetes.

    I challanged that, though I also said that if the person found it useful that was another matter. The woman who was taking them said she found them useful as it helped her get the courage to challange her alcoholic son.

    I was challanged on what I said and was told that this was not a matter for the group. I did not go back.

  • I think that Allan Young, chair of psychopharmacology for the Royal College of Psychiatry, and the editor of Lancet Psychiatry, Niall Boyce are legitimate targets for a campaign. It might be that they do have credible scientific arguments that counter Robert Whittikers but have not presented them.

    If they do not have credible arguments then

    1they are corrupt and in the hands of the drug companies
    2 they are incompetant and should not hold thier posts

    A challange that undermines their authority with thier peers, MP’s, Dr’s and the public would be a usefult strategy. My preference would be to ask them for presentations that refute Mr Whittiker within a reasonable time, say two months and then invade of thier offices to do citizens searches for the data they have that refutes Mr Whitiker’s arguments.

    That is plainly not Mr Whittiker’s style. So I hope he finds some other way of challenging either these specific people or others that hold a similar role of supposedly upholding the science that psychiatry is based on.

  • “How can this institution be moved to a place of curiosity about the soaring disability rates for the patients it treats?”

    I actually think this meeting is a big step.

    I think the psychiatric industries replies are standard. They never ask to look at the evidence against the drugs or provide a coherent argument back. They just deny the problem and obfuscate.

    That is worth pointing out.

    But eventually it will be people damaged by these drugs doing banner drops in chemists, regulators offices, drug company offices etc etc that will get things changed.

  • I think you have two seperate arguments:

    1 your life is/ was different from most people and as a child adults find this difficult
    2 your brain is different from most people

    I have no evidence that the sort of behaviour is caused by any brain difference. Do you?

    I think whizzy kids are a bit of a challange but also quite exciting. Pity the psych establishment decided to medicalise them.

  • I’ve seen presentations here in the UK and from the USA online on Open Dialogue in which psychiatrists only go to the network meetings to discuss drugs. On the whole the person taking the drug makes the decision having listened to the guidance from the psychiatrist. At the rest of the network meeting the pscychiatrist may not be there and other workers take over. This maybe a viable option for psychiatry, though it is debatable and some would like to see even less role for drugs and Dr’s in the care of the mentally distressed.

    GP’s as pointed out above, do a huge ammount of prescribing of psyche drugs. That is nasty, dangerous and needs to be stopped or seriously curtailed. Any view of mental distress as being medical ties into GP pschiatric prescribing.

  • “Good,” psychiatrtrists tend not to drug, or use few drugs, tend not to lock people up, see diagnosis as irrelevent or only as a start of a long conversation, do not use ECT.

    Apart from the fact that a few good psychiatrists offer limited drugs for a few people there is little difference between what they do and what therapists, counsellors and other workers do.

    Even if you want to keep psychiatrists they should not dominate the care of the mentally distressed.

  • Psychiatry will give in when people invade offices, wards, clinics, hang banners, chain themselves to pharmacy counters and take domestic hammers to ECT machines.

    I salute the author for his advocacy and humane treatment.

    It is up to the rest of us to get organised and get militant

  • Sad and dangerous.

    We were give a list of diagnosis (depression, schizo, anxiety etc) and then asked to list appropriate treatment. The treaments were drugs, with talking as alternatives.

    I questioned both the dignosis and the drugs and the tutor agreed there were controversies but did not encourage much discussion and certainly not the required answers for the full marks.

    At no time was anyones personal experiences solicited.

    Serious situations were asked for and the correct response was refer back to the psychiatrist. At no time was discussion of people’s experiences of psychiatry elicited despite the room being full of service users. So if someone is having a crisis and hates thier psychiatrist, too bad because the peer support course said to refer them back.

  • I think it is about the money and neoliberalsim. Turn things over to the market, have service providers compete for money to provide a service, have dodgy outcome measures that justify the money, do not actually look at what works or help workers support each other or really listen to clients.

    This happens in all privitised services; education, transport, housing power, water etc etc.

  • but also for the service provider.

    There are a lot of Mickey Mouse providers out there. I had a freind who worked in drug and alcohol services. He was told to traffic light the clients. Red was ready to go, easy clients who would have got better with a few chats with freinds, orange for more difficult, green for very difficult. The manager said to mainly work with the Red clients as it looked good for the result but have one or two green ones for workers satisfaction.

    He had similar stories of other services.

    Once the treatments are monitised the neoliberal agenda comes in: assess on dodgy criteria, write glowing report, ask for more funding from commissioner of service, do down competitors, never seriously consult with service users.

  • Thanks for your harrowing account of both the genesis of your behaviour around eating and your systemic neglect and abuse by psychiatry.

    I question your use of the word, “Treatment?”

    Your account leads me to think you needed, and probably still need, people who were offering things that had the qualities of: understanding, compassion, a sense of justice tempered with respect for someone’s self determination and autonomy.

    To call such help, “Treatment,” seems demeaning and somehow odd.

    I wish you luck though and I hope some help you got was useful and that you find more useful support in the future.

  • you write “Severe mental illness is biologically based.” I have no proof of that. Do you?

    If you do not I will assume that you are just restating what psychiatrists have told you, which they tell themselves, but for which there is no proof.

    I believe this a dangerous myth that needs countering at every opportunity. I maybe wrong. If so please correct me.

  • I suspect it is because Big Pharma has loads of money and people who are critical of psychiatry are not at the moment a very powerful group.

    I also find in the UK that liberals, socialists and even those from the Green Party do not get the basic arguments of the dangers of psychiatry but that anti-corpoarate anarchists do. It’s that suspician of big busineess and an interest in power politics that probably helps.

  • Brill work there Matthew.

    Local authorities do not know what to do about hoarders. They get complaints from nieghbours and then there might be a fire service assesement. Then it gets more difficult.

    I have had a couple of clients who are hoarders. I am a gardener. One was in contact with social services and they had no idea of what to do.

    What you are saying is just get to know the person. That at the very least is the place to start.

  • As I wrote above: They want you out probably because you know more than them about the issue of trauma, you know more about community engagement especially with this group, and you don’t toady up to the managerial class.

    I’ve suffered this myself. Hard init?

    I’m taking a break from activism while I think this through.

  • I think you can do both. But only if you take a community empowerment approach.

    I found that using particiipatory planning local service users were quite able to plan a mental health service that did all the things you want.

    It should be possible to use participatory planning to educate on ACE’s and how to prevent them in such a way that also increases community resiliance and individual wellbeing.

    However, as you post below shows, you are banging your head against a brick wall. They want you out probably because you know more than them about the issue of trauma, you know more about community engagement especially with this group, and you don’t toady up to the managerial class.

    I’ve repeatedly suffered the same fate myself on this an other issues. It needs thinking through before it can be addressed. That’s what I’m doing anyway

  • “self soothe in response to triggers,” isn’t that, calm down, shut up and be grateful for what you’ve got”?

    This is like the UK gov putting money into loads of short courses of CBT because it will get people back to work instead of addressing the bullying, poverty and such like that actually cause people so much stress they have to take time off work.

    It is b*ll*x: patronising middle class b*ll*x.

  • I thought your first point was interesting.

    I have been criticing a variety of UK social movements recently and have notices a pattern that others have noticed in local council run community engagmenet programmes and it is about class.

    Basically middle class managers, or upper middle class political organisers, think they know it all.

    They say they want to work with manginlised communities but they do it in a way that they think is right. They callange sexist langauge but they will not provide a creche. They challange racist langauge but will not actually ask black communities what they need to contribute and paticipate.

    In social care consultancy work the managers will pick service users for service user consultancy committees who toe the line. Managers will only listen to those who echo back what they already believe – and as they have done the training and read the books they know how to do these things and what marginlised communities, or the tramatised, really need. They think they do not need to listen or find out what marginalised communities really experience or want.

    They do not know what real community development is. They have shallow ideas of participatory education.

    I think you are looking for real participatory education on ACE issues and what you are getting is patronising managerial b*ll*x. Well funded managerial b*llox by the sound of it. But it is still patronising managerial, middle class knows best, shut up and keep that smile on your face, b*llox.

  • I used to sit in a mental health day centre and listen to people drop hints about surviving childhood sexual assault, family violence and witnessing current domestic violence and then see the staff offer a few platitudes, a cup of tea and ask if they wanted to join the knitting class.

    The day centre did not want to change. They will not change until some of us start getting very angry in very coordinated, well thought out ways.

    I believe Robert Whittiker and Mad in America will have very little impact unless the information presented is backed up with well thought out direct action campaigns led by the mad.

    Invade the wards, banner drops from hospital admin blocks, die ins at chemists. I see little prospect of change unless those tactics are adopted.

  • I agree, you can’t deal with the trauma of poverty without political organising around it. You can’t deal with the trauma of racism with out black conscousness (and where is that expressed on MiA?). You can’t deal with the trauma of homophobia without going to those Pride marches and throwing a few bricks like the stonewall rioters did.

    You can’t deal with the trauma of child abuse, in all it’s various forms, without political and social organising. dParents who are struggling need support but children need to know that smacking them is illegal in some contires and should be everywhere.

    I remember going on public rallies and speak outs in Traflagar Square organised by CROSS – the Campaign for the Rights Of Survivors of Sexual Assault. A women stood up and said it is torture to be forced to take psychiatric drugs against your will and it is torture to see your friends forced to take them too. CROSS disbanded after a couple of years but NAPAC succeded them and as a result of thier and other campaigning there has been a lot of change in the UK around this issue, though there is a lot more to do.

    Once you recognise that the vast majority mental distress comes from injustice the only way of preventing it is to fight those injustices and to ally oneself with people and organisations that do.

  • Nice article. For some people forced psychiatric treatment must be worse than the things that drove them mad. And that reason alone is enough to argue for it to be banned.

    “I’m going to resist the temptation to wrap this up nicely with a moral or a happy ending, to make it a recovery story.” Lol

    I hope CRPD is used more in beating back the dangerous power of psychiatry. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • I have neither the wit or wisdom to respond to this post with anything near the adaquacy it deserves.

    All I can say that if anyone is converting gay men to straight men with megavitamins than I for one want all vitamin suppliments banned immedaitly.

    The world can never have enough fascinating gay men to get to know and if they are cute and faciable to eye up and drool over.

    That possibley isn’t what Tina meant, but hey, I’m entitled to my view.

  • I am not sure how mental health law differers between the UK and the USA but I do know what the criminal law is and I agree that a comparison shows a shocking lack of human rights.

    Even if you are not detained against your will in some wards they will threaten to detain you if you try to leave. I have seen that happen

  • “Maybe there is a special part of the brain that refuses to get damaged if your the kid with the valid prescription “using” it every day instead of buying a few from a classmate who illegally selling and “abusing” them.”

    Interesting idea and nice bit of irony.

    I ask the rhetorical question, how many 8 year olds can either afford to, have the contacts, or want to, buy enough speed to get high every day for the next decade?

    Rhetorical answer: not many but the psyche/drug/school complext does it regularly to a rather large proportion of children. Mass drugging, mass poisoning and mass psychologial and phsysical damage.

    Forget your chemtrail/floride conspiracies, this is real.

  • And Peace is War because I said so.

    And I said it louder.

    I blame the popular press. I read articles in Huff post and other places all the time that make wild claims about genetic and biology and mental illness. They usually quote no sources, no published peer reviewed articles and no reputable journals.

    What I hear is that the media science and health editors have almost no science training and often just rehash a press release and then publish it as an an origianl piece of journalism.

    Of course this could be rubbish but it looks that way to me. Maybe I will research where that point of view came from sometime.

  • A common story that does not just effect those wishing to work outside the medical model of mental illness.

    I used to go to consultations on redesigning mental health services and also lead one. Everything I said, or that I enabled the service users to voice, was ingnored. So I would not do so again unless I had checked before hand that my input really was valued with measures in place to make sure that was going to happen.

    I have found the climate movement to be lead by upper middle class, mainly white, 25 – 35, year olds who want to include the working class and who think that dealing with oppression of all kinds is really important but who struggle to listen contsructively to anyone outside thier demographic. So it isn’t just mad issues that this applies to.

  • Great work from John but clearly the idea of Direct Action is not one that is popular amongst the Survivor movement.

    All of Whitiker’s work, and all the work of the many other writers, critical psychiatrists, peer supporters and the many other proponants of alternatives to conventional psychiatry without a bit, or more likely, a lot of kick ass organising with banner drop, office and ward occupations backed up with lobblying and petitions.

    The information that Whittiker and co provide needs to the basis for a campaigning movement, not near whole that it is a the moment. Without that commmitment we will see many more cases like this

  • It is a pity there is not an effective direct action campaign against psychiatric assault, and perticularly one in Australia. This is the sort of case where banner drops and office and ward occupations might well work.

    In the meantime I thank John Read for providing e-mail addresses for the minister of health and prime minister for the state of Victoria.

  • Nice description of how horrid child rearing can produce later anxiety.

    I wonder how widespread the belief that anxiety is a biochemical problem though? My impression in the UK is that people unquestiongly take the drugs rather than beleive their anxiety is caused by a biochemical problem. They do tend to believe in biological causes of depression, though that might be fading, and for schizophrenia (not that I believe this is a valid diagnosis, but many do)

  • I wonder what would happen if this was a court of law dealing with a political prisoner? Surely Amnesty International would be up in arms about both the treatment of person detained, strapped down and forced to endure ECT but also about the lack of a fair process in the tribunal.

  • Yes, when I first came across the term I was interested in what seemed a hopeful concept too. It was Ron Coleman’s book, Recovery an Alien Concept. Basically he thought that recovery was not considered possible in the mental health system for people diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (never mind whether these are spurious concepts or not – obviously I believe they are).

    He got out the bin with the help of the hearing voices movement and maybe other things. So then he started teaching recovery. Mainly it consisted of getting to know people in distress really well and offering them emotional and practical support.

    There maybe mixed feelings about Coleman’s work however what he was on about is not what is on offer in most places these days. Healthcare Trusts talk about The Recovery Agenda, but they offer the same old nonsense as they always have: drugs, patronising fortnightly chats with social workers and neglect in the community is what most people I know get. But now there is an added pressure to look after yourself slightly better, do voluntary work, move towards getting a job. Then there are government assessments to see if you are worthy of your benefits. If you fail you have to appeal or apply for jobseekers allowance and then go through the humiliations heaped on all claimanats by the Job Centre which seem to get worse ever year.

    Meanwhile, if you actaully sit down with people who are trapped in these services and actually listen to them for an hour most of them will actaully tell you what drove them mad and what is distressing them in their lives right now – not that most of the workers do that, they are not trained, selected or supervised to do so.

    That is a patronising nodding dog approach that uses a term points towards an idea that meant something hopefull 10 or 15 years ago but is now a form ticking exercise for psychiatric social workers.

  • “When young people receive real support with things that weigh on them and cause them stress, their mood lightens, their ability to function improves, feelings of hopelessness wane, and their recovery speeds up.”

    Call me old fashioned, but when anyone is offered real support with things that wiegh on them and cause them stress, thier mood lightens, thier ability to function improves, feelings of hopelessness wane……

    I’m not dissing the programme, I am questioning the whole idea of mental illness

  • Colin Bradley, there are people, one being emeritas professor of psychology Mary Boyle, however I think we can all agree there are various degrees of mental distress.

    I guess your other point is that drugs, ie the major tranquilisors, can help some people, sometimes. It seems Whittiker and some others who blog on this site agree with you. Some think that if enough support is offered they are unecersarry. Most think that the drugs should be optional and not forced on anyone. Some think the drugs should be banned and never used.

    All agree these drugs have dangers – as all drugs do, though these ones are perticularly nasty.

    There is evidence that these drugs impede recovery for many. That maybe something you find contentios and worth debating. This position is not just from the Harrow study.

    This website has a wide range of viewpoints expressed by the people who blog and comment. They probably do include your opinions. However your manner has got some people’s backs up for a variety of reasons – probably the embedded psychiatric language which is used so often by clinitians to ignore people’s experiences and opinions and then to ride rough shod over thier wishes. This may not have been your intention.

  • I can dicuss the UK situation and it an’t that different from the USA: diagnose, drug for life, pressure people to take the drugs, use CTO’s and depot injections for those who try to escape the chemical cosh.

    It a disease like any other, it’s like taking insulin for diabetes are two common mantras.

    There are a few good clinitians and a few good clinics, who see things differently, but they are few and far between. Any psychiatric survivor or critical psychiatrist will say the same.

  • Colin Bradley, I might respect your arguments if you had not written, “A good psychiatrist is of course well aware of these pitfalls in treating psychosis with medicine, and takes suitable precautions. The bad psychiatrists must vouch for themselves.” After decades of being involved with mental health serivce users I have yet to meet many good psychiatrists – ie those who take into account a distressed persons experiences of the drugs when prescribing, is ok about not prescribing if the patient does not want them and has a serious interest in the persons life.

    You then raise the spectre of homelessness and mental illness without mentioning the huge disparity between rich and poor and other social factors that give rise to the large number of homeless people in the states – and now in the UK. Once again psychiatry is used to avoid all the messyness of life.

  • I signed the petition.

    Maybe we need some action committees?

    Some time ago someone wrote a blog about online activism on this site. It changed my life. I now regularly give Rethink (UK mental health charity) a hard time on thier facebook page. Sometimes people argue back but often people like what I post and add thier comments too. Maybe a few committees looking at little actions and campaigns like this would build some practical solidarity and increase the strength of the movement?

  • Allan Frances is a textbook example of how psychiatry colludes with capitalism and those in power. He goes on about people in prison who should be in psychiatric facilities or recieving psychiatric treatment. Yet he is ignorant of the massive prison population in the USA and how, as a book I read recently put it, “For all intents and purposes, the prison industrial complex became the primary primary housing provider for the poor, homeless, and mentally ill.” In the meantime political violence against people of colour, queer, and the homelss contiued.” What this book does not say, but which seems obvious to me, is that growing inequality, racism and violence and prison conditions will drive people mad.

  • It does not look like Frances has understood your analysis. It looks like he is seeing it through his own lens.

    I find his comment, “…..the needs of the severely ill inappropriately in jail & homeless…” interesting. I wonder what he things causes people to be in jail or homeless? Pressumably he thinks they are due to inapropriatly treated mental illness. This leaves my wondering if Frances is aware of the very high prison population in the USA compared to the rest of the world or how homelessness is effected by social factors such as poverty?

  • I wrote a short sketch about ABCD – woops, I mean ADHD. It is part of a play called Mental. In this bit John pretends to be a teacher and Mark and Suzannah pretend to be naughy pupils. He is teaching them about ADHD.

    John: ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    He barks it out like a teacher shouting out orders.
    Mark and Suzannah start sticking tongues out at each other and acting like naughty children, throwing things at each other, getting up and looking at John like he is the teacher.

    John: Attention Deficit.

    Mark speaks an aside to Suzannah.

    Mark: Thinks he knows it all.
    Suzannah: Oi, Sir, is you gay?
    John: Now, now, Suzannah, get on with your work

    Mark giggles, gets up and pushes Suzannah in a bullying way, John looks at Mark.

    John: Oi you, stop talking to your mate and pay attention boy. Attention Deficit – not paying attention. Well that’s not a disorder.

    Mark gets up and sneaks behind John, Suzannah stands up and follows him.

    John: Hyperactivity.

    Mark stands on a chair and makes like a monkey.

    John: Right, you, Mark, sit down, over there. And you, Suzannah, sit down, over there. And get on with your work.
    John: (To audience) Hyperactivity: Not sitting still, running around. Well that’s not a disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, its pants. ADHD, yes, ADHD it’s pants. What does ADHD mean? It’s the doctors medicalizing a particular distress. What kind of distress? Well in this case naughty boys.
    Suzannah: And a few girls.

    They start acting like naughty kids in school. Throwing things, getting up from the table and looking at John like he is the teacher.

    Mark: But mainly boys.
    John: And what do Dr’s do with naughty boys?

    Suzannah scowls at John.

    John: And girls. Give them drugs. In this case Ritalin.

    Mark and Suzannah speak in a speedy way.

    Mark: I’ve got ADHD me.
    Suzannah: I’ve got ABCD me.
    Mark: I’ve got HIJK me.
    Suzannah: I’ve got ICUP me.

    The giggle, John gives them a dirty look.

    John: Is there something you two would like to share with the rest of the class?

    They calm down, lean over table and get on with work.

    John: Ritalin has almost the same effect as cocaine. Or speed. But for some reason it slows kids down, probably because it’s poisoned their brains.
    Mark: He raises his hand. Sir, the headmaster won’t let me in school unless I’ve taken my Ritalin.
    John: Yes, well the less said about that sadistic idiot the better.
    Mark: I’m telling on you Sir. I’ll tell the headmaster you called him a sadistic idiot.
    John: Get on with your work Mark.
    Suzannah: My mum likes me to have Ritalin. When she runs out of money she takes my Ritalin off me and sells it to her mates down the pub.
    John: Now I think that is the better option. Drug free children, adults taking responsibility for their drug taking, stimulates the local economy; it’s all good! Imagine if what happens in school happened at work. You have your annual review, your appraisal, whatever. Just you and your manager in a little cubicle, and she says:

    Suzannah and Mark sit at table opposite each other. Suzannah as manager, Mark as employee.

    Suzannah: Now Mark, I’m afraid you’ve not been hitting your targets.
    Mark: Ah, sorry.
    Suzannah: I’ve been noticing that you’ve been finding it hard to concentrate. We’ve paid for you to have extra tuition on your computer and it hasn’t helped; you keep making spelling mistakes, which, as I am sure you are aware, is not acceptable in this line of work.
    Mark: Sorry.
    Suzannah: Also, Sally, the manager in sales says you’ve been wandering in there and talking to John and Sarah. Sally’s put in a complaint about you distracting them from their work.
    Mark: Oh.
    Suzannah: I’m going to recommend a referral to the occupational health team for a psychological assessment.
    John: Next thing you know they won’t let you back into work unless you’re on class B drugs.

    Mark pretends to pick up a phone.

    Mark: Hello, is that Unison? My line manager is refusing to let me into the office unless I take Ritalin. I agree. It’s an abuse of my human rights. What can I do?
    John: There’d be an outcry!
    Suzannah: Unless you’re a kid of course, when a doctor can give you a dodgy diagnosis and force you to take class B drugs, possibly for the rest of your life.
    John: Mind you, some people like that!
    Suzannah: My daughter doesn’t pay attention and plays up when she’s bored or angry.
    Mark: I wonder if lot of kids diagnosed with ADHD are like that?
    John: Hey, lets not look at that, just in case someone starts to wonder why the kids are so bored and angry at the world.

  • “Its Five O’clock in the morning, shut the **** up!” – I find that statement so reasuring.

    Kick out the Jams Mother****er

    I want to be that person who goes to meetings and is rude to everyone

    I’ve had it up to hear with being understanding

    I can do it, be the Girrafe, understand my own and other’s feelings and needs, carefully present them, but I’m not sure how much good it is doing me or anyone else for that matter

    I went to a lecture by Marshal Rosenburg once. He was boring. So I went and got a cup of tea in the welcome room for the lecture and chatted to a man who was distressed. He ran a mediation service for rival black gangs in London who were from some specific community (Somalian, Eritrean – I dunno, it was a long time ago) and he was worried about his son getting involved in the gangs. So I tried to understand how he was feeling, what was going on for him, what his worries were. He calmed down – visibly. The person who booked Marshal and put on the course was looking on and said to me something about how I had used NVC without knowing it.

    Fair enough.

    But I just want to Kick out the Jams Mother****ers

  • There is something I find odd about this discussion. The research of people like Richard Bentall and John Read show high rates of negative childhood experiences in people who end up with severe psychiatric diagnosis such as schizophrenia. Some of these, such as the early loss of parent are just bad luck. Some of these are about the child suffering cruelty, such as child sexual abuse or being the victim of violence or witnessing family violence. These are about the extreme abuse of power by adults who have power over children.

    Not everyone who experiences horrid things in childhood become mad, though it does increase the chances of that happening and also of other difficult outcomes such as drug addiction and homelessness.

    It seems, though this is less well proven, that certain things lessen the blow of bad things happening in childhood, such as the effect of a supportive grandparent being around. However in other abuses of power, such as racism, by the police for example, we do not pussyfoot around blame so much and are often happy to, “Call out,” racism, and we also hold people to account. With parenting we somehow hold other standards.

    I was reading a book written by a retired clinical psychologist recently in which she talked about a woman who as a teenager went manic and was hospitlised. It turned out her father was often violent, forced food down her throat if she refused to eat it and who sexually assaulted her.

    Even if her father’s behaviour had not resulted in the child becoming mad and having a difficult life with very restricted eating habits and other life problems I would still want to condemn the man for his behaviour. I would still want to understand why he did them in terms of his attitudes and life history, but I would still want to say what he did was wrong.

    I know that not every mad person has such horrible stories to tell but I have been around the mental health system long enough to know they are fairly common. One thing we can do is to acknowledge that this is so. What we do after that is more complex, but it would at least be a start.

  • “Aberrant electrochemical events,” a chilling phrase.

    Not so long ago psychiatry, using this ideology, would have said I was gay because of, “Aberrant electrochemical events.”

    It is a cliam to expertese in human behaviour completely devoid of all social or psyhochological context and there ripe for abuse by the powerful.

  • I thought of that angle because I’m involved in protesting against oil sponsorship of cultural events. The British Museum and Student Pride specifically – they support exhibtions and LGBT events while campaigning to prevent action on climate change and BP specifically are responsible for the Deep Water Horison oil blow out which polluted th Gulf coast. Tobacco companies did similar things, specifically with sport sponsorship. The term campaigners use is, “Social Liscence.” The corpoarations gain a social liscence by giving money to cultural events and worthy causes while reaking havoc on the population.

    Who could possibly object to a school programme on Suicide Prevention? Especially when we are all more aware of mental illness how we have anti-stigma campaigns?

    I can see the Big Pharma marketing strategists brainstorming how they can make use of anti-stigma campaigns and coming up with this.

    However I agree they are also garnering customers as well as bigging up thier name.

  • The author writes, “I have had the great privilege of learning about different ways of “being with.” Soteria, Open Dialogue, Intentional Peer Support while all being extremely valuable are not helpful for everyone. To some extent, every so-called alternative program of which I am aware is self-selective to some degree. By this I mean that those who are involved in these programs admit to having their own limits. Some of them by design only work with people who come to them. Others chose carefully who can participate.”

    Open Dialogue is the mental health system in Western Lapland. This is what is on offer to everyone. I therefore fail to see how it is self-selective – or even what they means. It is what the state offers and there is no other choice, or that is what I have been led to believe.

    Everyone has thier limits. Every system has it’s limits. Conventional psyhiatry as practiced by psychiatrists in the USA have it’s limits. I am not sure how this relates to the studies, and the various ways they have been interpreted, that the author is commenting on. Soteria and Open Dialogue use psychiatric drugs but they both used them less and allowed people to be in more extreme states than conventional psychiatry does before using them – or that is how I interpret what I have read.

    The author also writes, “But in my world, it seems that psychosis is tough. It is not infrequently scary. ” This leaves me wondering who is scared of what? Those questions take me towards the UK psychologists ideas of Formulation, a posh way of asking people what are your problems, what caused them and what might help? My guess is that who is scared of what are questions that arrise in the conversations that happen in Open Dialogue sessions or happen when staff, “Be with,” clients in Soteria houses.

    So for me the core question is whether the fear and confusion implied in the statement, “psychosis is tough. It is not infrequently scary,” is a medical matter. If not then perhaps I might have to stop using the term, “Psychosis,” as it think it means sick in the head (psyche – mind, osis – medical suffix meaning disease, morbid state, abnormal increase)

  • “It is important to note that the APA’s definition of a mental disorder/illness is entirely arbitrary, in that there is no objective reality to which it must conform.” So when a psychiatrist tries to diagnose me with some fictitious diagnosis I can retort, “So you say love. Whatever.”

    I like this.

    Psychiatry, as I like to say, has two functions:
    1 to be the drug delivery agent for Big Pharma
    2 to stop people thinking why someone is distressed

    Now they want to add
    1 to stop people taking responsibility for their bad behaviour
    2 to stop people thinking about why people behave badly

    Actually they always did this to some degree with people diagnosed as psychopaths whe are often deemed untreatable.

    There is however a prison abolitions movement, especially in the USA. The criminal justice system often does not reform people and is harsh and often racist. I do not see psychiatry as much better.

    There are psycho-social factors around bad behaviour, just as there are around mental distress, and both the criminal justice and psychiatry ignore this. Most violence is committed by men. Most people who end up diagnosed as psychopaths have had appaling childhoods. Diagnosis generally ignores this but if we want to reduce violence in society then we need to look at this and if we want to reform people, usually men, who have acted appalingly we may need to look at this too.

  • I think the common theme here is probably Neo-Liberalism which is a political philosophy that was frist put in place under Thatcher and Reagon: privitise, small state, low taxes.

    This generally leads to a degrading of public services and a business ethic of control and managerialism entering public institutions. School is more regimented, claiming benefits becomes harder and you have to jump through more hoops to get it, people purchase packages of care or treatment and Dr’s and social service providers have less flexibility in what they provide to sick and distressed people.

    The accountants have more power as the profit motive is king.

    Ultimately this lead to the banking crash of 2008. Fortunately people are fighting back.

    I think this might give us some idea of who our allies are in fighting the excessess of drug company fuelled psychiatry.

    On this site the libertarians often object to this point of view. I do not wish to argue with them and instead point to the rise of Bernie Sanders .

  • My freind is a teacher. She is ground down by all the petty rules and constant monitoring she gets from senior staff. She is allowed almost no inititive in setting the work programme for her classes or in the way she marks work. She has to write reports on these children, who are five years old, in a style deemed fit by the head and then has the reports marked by the head before they are sent out to the parents.

    The children are bored, frustrated and angry.

    This is systemic and effects teachers as well as pupils. A huge percentage of UK teachers want to leave. A large percentage of new teachers do not stay in the job very long. A lot have time off sick with stress (I guess a lot of them turn to psychiatric pills – just like the children are forced to do).

    Education was never brill but for the last twenty years it has progressivley become more of a controlled system as more and more business tools have come in and as more and more schools are given over to private ownership – though they are paid out of public money. In the UK these are called Acadamies, in the USA I understand they are called Charter Schools. No matter what the status of the school (run by the local authority, by an acadamy chian or a Charter School) the ethos is ever more about testing, teaching to the test, rote learning, doing as you are told, league tables for schools – control, control, control that turns education into a sausage factory to produce complaint people who will not rock the boat in Macjobs and call centres.

    Recently I went to a play about the Great Chicago Teachers Strike. I do not know if the sort of issues you are writing about was important to the struggle there but I hope so.

  • I went on a UK peer support course ran by Together, a mental health provider that ran a day centre I was a member of. It was one of the worst courses I have ever been on, and I have been on a lot. Most of the students agreed that by the end of it they had learnt no more than they had by reading the induction literature.

    They taught diagnsosis, refering people back to services in a crisis and most shockingly that drugs are the most appropraite treatment and that talking was an alternative. ECT was not challanged. They did no personal/group work where we might have practised the actaul usful skills needed to do the job.

    Once qulified you could work in the day centre doing exactly what the staff used to do: playing pool and dominoes with the clients, serve the tea and wait around to see if anyone wanted to talk to you. Meanwhile people came in and from time to time dropped hints ab0ut how awful thier lives were but as no one had actaully practised listening, picking up on these things and validating people’s experiences and as they were supervised by the same stupid, lazy staff, the day center users were ignored as usual.

    I have read some stories on this site of peers doing really good work, but that was from organisations ran by survivors dedicated to challanging the psychiatric norms of diagnose, drug and ignore.

    Ultimately, he who pays the piper plays the tune is the motto to bear in mind here.

  • here is a video on the an analysis on this problem. It concludes there are cultural issues and that the availability of guns is exceptional in the USA but that tackling this will be very difficult, as the above thread shows.

    It does not identify anti-depressants, however I think this is worth investigating as a recent article by Robert Whittiker shows.

  • I read that people who are diagnosed with anorexia are at risk of death from malnutrition. Those that go into hospital are at higher risk that those who do not go to hospital. This article goes someway to telling us why.

    It is not because people who go into hospital are at higher risk. It is because they are treated like dogs in a kennel.

  • try this interactive map on gun owenership per head of populations and number of gun releated homocides. It show the USA has very high gun related homocides and low gun ownership countries have low gun releated homocides.

    Also, non violent revolutions, ie those without guns, are more likely to succeed and have better outcomes in terms of democracy and human rights than violent ones. I could link to the book based on an academic study on that and can do if people want – I have read it. So the argument that guns are protection against the state does not hold up to academic research

  • I’d be interested in breakdown of gun owenership in different countries and how that relates to gun violence. Is there a correlation or not and if so how strong?

    There are obviously cultural issues and psychiatric drugs appear to have a role too but I’d like to see if there is numeracal corelation to gun ownership – or not.

    Also, all this violence is committed mainly by men. As a man that makes me squirm slightly.

  • Difficult innit.

    I’ve been protesting against oil company sponsorship of Arts Institutions in London (some of that was with the Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, who were fab).

    It does not stop the oil company but it does seriously challange thier social liscence.

    There is not a lot of direct action around challanging drug company influence on, “mental health,” provision but if the funders of this organisation are connected to Big Pharma then I think they would be an ideal target.

    I think MIA and all the work it does is building up a reputation for challanging the lies Big Pharma pumps out but eventually a direct action approach will be needed to make the message hit home.

  • “the harm started when they essentially gave those who hurt, and hit, and raped, and devalued me a pass and said the problems all resided in my head,” and that is essentailly what psychiatry does.

    The mental health channel is essentailly carrying on this tradition. It will flourish if it gets funding to do that.

    The funders, unless they are ones devoted to social change and probably anti-corporatists, will not want anything else.

  • I see the process of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, either recreational or prescribed, and becoming dependant on psychiatric drugs as quite similar.

    The drug and alcohol business are in it for profit and do not warn their clients about the problems of dependance and tolerance. They do not provide support for people who wish to come off them and they do not look at why people might want to take them long term.

    Psychaitry does the same.

    I realise psychological craving, which is at the heart of addiction, is not the same of withdrawal reactions which are at the heart of benzo dependancy and that is very important to stress. But the financial processses and the lack of care are at the heart of both processes.

    I do however support people using whatever label they are most comfortable with.

  • “sanctuary, extended kindness and the facilitation of meaningful activity that is educational and enthusing:” doesn’t sound too far from Soteria House.

    That psychiatry holds onto it’s power seems true. I was talking to people about how to deal with a, “Mental health crisis,” on week long retreats and how it might not be wise to call the services and to be aware of what they do and do not offer. The guy was receptive and then said but eventually you need to call the expert.

    Most people have faith in the instution even when presented with evidence that it is damaging

  • I am glad you have raised sexism in this movement – not because i am very aware of it, I don’t spend enough time around survivor movements these day to have enough experience of it to know how common it is, but because it always needs addressing, as do other issues where groups are marginalised. However I find this article hard to engage with without examples. This maybe because I’m a man. If it was about how lesbians and gays are ignored or walked over I’d probably get it straight away as I’m a gay man. I certainly appreciate the things you listed do happen, and not just in the survivor movement. I think they are pretty much endemic to society and I could give you examples from groups in other movements I have been involved in, but examples would have helped me engage more – even if they were made up ones.

    I realise examples would be difficult to provide as they might be considered inflamatory or be open to legal challenge.

    I am aware that those effected by psychiatry reflect the power dynamics of society at large (the poor, women, ethinc minorities and queer people being disproportionaly psychiatrised). I do not see this being very well addressed by many activists.

    I am aware that at least in the UK there is a much higher rate of forced psychiatrisation of ethnic minorities, perticularly from the afro-carribean community, and I see little from activists to address this or many attempts to form links from white activists to ethnic minority groups.

    I think addressing all this is possible but difficult and requires commitment over the long term.

    I went on some training for UK activists, though not from the mad movement, on power and privilege in which we were invited to say if we were part of any marginilised group, find others in those groups and discuss the following questions:

    1 how are we opppressed by our movments?
    2 what do we have to offer our movements that are special
    3 what do we need to be included by these movements?

    The groups in that perticular workshop who came forward were, working class, parents, hidden disabilities (which included those with enduring mental distress – or the mad which I talke about) and LGBT people.

    It was very interesting to hear all these people say how they felt oppressed, what they had to offer and what they needed. I perticularly remember parents saying do not advertise your meetings as child friendly and then complain when a child starts being disruptive instead organise a chreche! And don’t tell parents how to feed thier child, especially middle class people telling working class people how to feed thier children.

    So I think it is possible for campaign groups to hear what women, and other margialised groups, suffer and what they would need to particpate fully. But I also know this is hard work and takes a lot of effort for both the mainstream to egage with and for marginalise groups to have to repeatedly bring these things up. It isn’t a one off discussion either. If movements want to address sexism, or other ways minorities are discriminated against then it probably has to be long term work.

    In a climate campaign group I was part of a group looking at these issues. Women seemed to have a lot of power though they still complained about being interrupted by men, so sexism was not completely dealt with. There seemed however to be a hidden hierachy of people with higher degrees making most of the decisions so class seemed to be a problem. So I think these issues can take a long time to address and probably need constant work.

  • on the subject of climate change I think that bpdtransformation, B.A. is wrong; there are serious commentators that think the overwhelming majority of the components of industrial civilization, i.e. crop production, transportation, electricity generation are based on burning fossil fuels that CAN be cheaply, easily, and quickly replaced by fossil free alternatives.

    Here is a book that a freind has writtten on just that–Clean-Fair-Democratic/17417611

    If this is done it is extremly likely there will be a mass extinction event and that will be the end of all but a few small pockets of humanity.

    What mainly stops this transformation happening is the powere of fossil fuel companies who pump out huge ammounts of propaganda and lobby politicians to protect thier interests. This is the same dyanamic as keeps psychiatric drugs flowing through the economy and through people’s brains. PR and advertising beats science when multi-billion budgets are concerned. I find anti-capitalist climate campaigners need no pursausion to understand thsi point and that many will support the anti-psyhiatry struggle.

    It seems to me we are heading towards the end of most of humanity however I keep campaigning on climate change. I was in the British Museum protesting against BP sponsorship on Friday evening with an exciting bunch of activists.

    It is a pity I find it hard to find a bunch of anti-psychiatry activists who are as committed as they are.

  • I agree that creating alternatives is very valuable.

    I also think that dialogue is not the only tool for challanging the mental ill health system.

    Peter Beresford in the UK gave a talk in which he said that users have been invovled in user consultations with psychiatry and other services for people with disabilities for decades now and little changes. On the other hand direct action has produced quite a lot of change.

    Alterntives and ward invasions Community run clinics and hammers to ECT machines.

    All power to the Survivors
    Destroy the capitalist running dog psychiatry

    (I’m trying to make Soviet Revolutionary anti-psychiatry slogans for the internet age here, I hope I’m appreciated)

  • this is a very important study.

    A few years ago we were constantly told that canabis increased the likelyhood of psychosis in the vulnerable. Yet the traumatic events in the lives of people who developed psychosis were ignored. Now this study says there is no link between canabis and mental illness.

    I think smoking canabis can laeve some people freaked out but if they stop smoking it they should calm down. I see no reason why smoking it should cause long term damage. So this study makes sense to me.

  • I think this is more about corporations influencing Dr’s to prescribe more pills so as to maximise corporate profits. Government then foots the bill. This is the way corporations work the whole world round, espcially when governments are hand in glove with corporations.

  • I recently met two people who son, Zane, died in thier house when flooding of an unmarked landfill site released poisonous gas into thier house.

    Flooding is happening more due to climate change and more will happen.

    People living near landfill sites are at risk form poisonous gasses released if the site floods.

    This can be dealt with but only if the local and national governments admit there are risks and take preventative measures such as blocking access of gases into the house from underneath it.

  • If you lived in the UK you can choose to have private healthcare and you always could. However if that went wrong you would end up in an NHS hospital because they were alwasy better.

    I do not think this is being treated like children, it is sharing out resources in a fair and equitable manner. It is also something that the people campaigned for. So that is people acting as adults campaigning to be treated like adults.

  • my friend diagnosed with bipolar who has been on drugs for decades had a violent father, has had a host of horrible things happen to him and almost lives with a drug addict with whom he has a very difficult life.

    You know what I am going to write next:

    All of this is ignored by services.

    I’d be interested in knowing how the Open Dialoge teams in Western Lapland and elsewhere deal with mania.

    I will leave it there.

  • Brill article. I shall repost in a few places.

    I was on that march, coordinating a Queer Bloc as it happens.

    I have been asked to help organise a local People’s Assembly that is fighting Austerity politics – the natural outcome of neo-liberalism. I may do so, but it does seem rather a big job to take on….

    I take issues with one point in the article. Governments that like Neo Liberal ideas generally role back the state for everyone, which is where we agree, except when it comes to proping up big business, which I do not think you mentioned. The big example here is bailing out the banks but not fining any bankers, but subsidies of fissil fuel industries are also an example.

  • I am reminded of the independant crisis house in Wokingham, UK, that has a rule that no mental health worker is allowed on the premises unless invited.

    Keeping your independance over the long term seems to me to be really important.

    I was shocked by this statement in the article, “by the time people get to the age of 18, which is the youngest Soteria-Alaska could house, they had already been on neuroleptics for a number of years.” As Michael says most psychotic breaks do not happen until early adulthood, I was expecting that to be 18 – 25. So this raises worrying questions about the use of these drugs earlier on.

  • just to clarify – I think Mad in America has lots of really interesting, well argued articles with good science and some excellent opinion pieces and accounts of a lot of professional activism from critical psychologists, critical psychiatrists, people providing alternatives to psychiatry and people challanging the power of Big Pharma however there is a growing number of people and organisations of mainly survivor so psychiatry who are campaigning as outlined above and perhaps that needs a seperate newsletter?

  • I opened this article just after sending an e-mail to Anthony Burgess, from Berkshire NHS Healthcare Trust as a follow up to the anti ECT protest I did as part of the international day of action.

    Just before the protest I wrote the the trust asking various questions about ECT and informing them of the protest. They sent me various doucments. I replied with some questions. Anthony Burgess from the trust replied to my mail saying he would get back to me after he asked the clinicians concerned my questions. Last week I mailed him asking how long I would have to wait for my answers. He replied on the 12th June that he hoped to be able to get back to me early this week. Today, on Friday morning, the end of the week, I mailed him if I would recieve the answers to day and if not when might I recieve them?

    He has replied just now. I will read the replies and consider my next moves.

    I think an activist newsletter is something this movement could do with.

  • just found this event in London on June 16th entitled TTIP and the Death of Magna Carter

    “The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta could be its last. TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership currently being negotiated between the EU and USA, will destroy the principle of equality before the law which Magna Carta enshrined, as US corporations are granted a privileged judicial system available to them alone. Join us for this free event to discuss the threat of TTIP to our basic freedoms, and how we can defeat it.”

    So others are using the metaphor of Magna Carter in a similar arena to Dr Healy.

  • I have heard the term Neo-Fuedalism banded about recently to describe the new economic relationship between most of us and trans national corporations.

    Most of us write something that illustrates a point and maybe use a metaphor somewhere in the writing to add a bit of spice (to use a metaphor), but make sure the metaphor stays in the background to the whole story. Healy puts his metaphor in the foreground of his writing. This can make the story hard to spot.

    In Healy’s writing there are three main players:
    1 patients
    2 Dr’s
    3 Big Pharma

    He sees the relationship between Dr’s and patients corrupted by Big Phama. Sometimes I wonder if he thinks there was a golden age of Doctoring when the relationship between patient and Dr was pure and wholesome? What Healy does not write about is how the dynamics of corruption that Big Pharma enter into are paralleled by other corporations and sectors of the economy.

    UK Uncut have highlighted tax avoidance by lots of big businesses such as Google and Starbucks. I believe the USA has a similar organisation called US Uncut. The big four accountancy firms of PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG have senior staff who are seconded to the UK tax and revenue department where they advice on how to implement tax law. These workers then go back to work for the accountancy firms who advice big corporations on how to avoid tax. The same workers will then go to work in the accountancy departments of big corporations. This is exactly analogous to how people work for Big Pharma corps and then work for government drug regulation agencies and then for another Big Pharma firm. Poacher turned game keeper turned poacher.

    There is a whole analysis of psychiatry as the handmaiden of capitalism. I might go into it more tomorrow if I can be bothered. I hope this is not too off topic, though the power of the corporations and how psyche drugs have taken off are so obviously related to me it seems worth commenting on again.

  • nah, he is using pretty tortuous metaphor, I’m just up on TTIP and googled it plus big pharma to find the link.

    I see his piece as about corporate power corrupting medicine written in a metaphor about Magna Carter. Magna Carter is a bit of English history that is in the news right now and was something to do with the barons limiting the kings power. He could have dropped the Magna Carter bit and written it in plainer English though. If I hadn’t been involved in campaigns against TTIP, a transatlantic trade agreement that gives corporations power over the state, I might have struggled to know what he was on about.

  • Hm – sounds like big business having more say than The People or The Government, as Big Gov hands it’s powers to Big Biz.

    the big scare at the moment about the transfer of power to Big Biz being the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

    Here is briefing on Big Pharma and TTIP

  • I’d also add that a lot of people who end up on psyhicatric, “treatment,” are distressed for reasons that on the whole psychiatry ignores. Read and Bental’s research shows high levels of all sorts of trauma in people diagnosed with psychosis for example.

    Therefore I argue that psychiatry forces damaging procedures and damaging drugs for made up diseases on people while ignoring the real causes of thier distress.

    While the medical metaphor is somewhat streteched, at best, psychiatry could be compared to taking someone into hospital with a broken leg, locking them up and then forcibly injecting them with insulin while not setting the broken leg.

  • in the run up to the ECT protest, on the 13th May, I wrote to my local psychiatric hospital asking some questions. They said they would get back to me in due course. Today I wrote asking when they would get back to me. If they do not give adaquate reply or if the reply is inadaquate I will take further action such as a more confrontational protest.

    Here are the questions:

    In the document CCR013 ECT


    Q Does ECT really work

    the following is stated, “There have been several studies comparing ECT with “sham” ECT…….In these studies , those patients who had standard ECT were more likely to recover and did so much quicker than those who had “Sham” treatment. Also those who didn’t have adaquate fits did less well than those who did.”

    The Read and Bentall 2009 – revised 2010 literature review on ECT research found that the studies comparing ECT and Sham ECT did not support this view .

    Here is a link to the study,


    I therefore ask on what studies are the statements in CCR013 ECT based on and how they have been interpreted by the relevant staff?


    In the document CCR013 ECT

    section 2 THE PROS AND CONS OF ECT

    Q What are the side effect of ECT?

    A variety of potential deleterious effects are listed including serious loss of memory and skills. This section acknoledges that different levels of damage are found in different studies and that this level seems to be dependant on who is invetigating the damage.

    Medical treatments need to take into account the risks and benefits when deciding if they are justified and in what situations. The more dangerous the condition the larger the risk to the patient of the treatment is thought to be acceptable as being justified providing the treatment is effective and less risky alternatives are not available.

    A big risk with major depression is suicide.

    Read and Bentall found no reduction in the suicide risk from ECT. This is detailed in the section DOES ECT PREVENT SUICIDE starting on page 339.

    As there is a significant risk of serious and permanant harms from ECT, which the document CCR013 ECT acknowledges, how does the team reconcile using it when Read and Bentall can find little or no evidence of reduced suicide risk?


    In the document CCR013 ECT
    section 2 THE PROS AND CONS OF ECT

    How Does ECT Work?

    States, “Those who support ECT say that in very sever depression certain parts of the brain are not working normally because of changes in the brain chemicals that allow nerves to “talk” to each other. ECT alters the way these chemicals are acting in the brain and so help recovery.”

    Which studies are these? Does the ECT team at Propect Park have any opinion on the validity of these studies?

  • This is done is other struggles. It is called Direct Action Advocacy. Mind Freedom run an online version of this where people write e-mails and letters on behalf who is being forced tretment they do not want. But radical advocacy where someone goes and talks on behalf of the person and if that does not work groups invade a ward, stand outside with banners, follow the Dr’s round and hold up banners saying what they think of them…… would be a face to face way of doing it and a great way of raising awareness of psychiatric abuse.

    There is a man in Scotland who got his wife released from psychiatric care by going to every meeting he could where the psychiatrist concered was and asking pertinant questions very forcefully. Eventaully, after about four months he got his wife released. This is the only case I have heard of where this happened but it is worth noting.

    Here is an article on direct action advocacy

    I think people also need psychological and social support and drug withdrawal services. Both could be provided by surviors on a voluntary basis in local groups. I think people need these as I saw sevearal people repeatedly sectioned in an anti-psychiatry campaign group I was involved in.

  • I think there is something interesting about psychiatrists and pro-psychiatry commentators on Mad in America.

    They tend not to comment on blogs that are written by people who are versed in science and who have read and disected scientific papers such as Philip Hickey, Michael Corrigan or Robert Whittiker. Instead they tend to comment on more personal pieces and often on pieces by people who have been personally adversely effected by psychiatry.

    Often they try to quote science or rather they quote the commonly held believes of psychiatry and try to use science to back it up. But when questioned on the science they back off or repeat themselves without answering the question that challenges thier believes.

    I think that challenging such people on the science is important. But I don’t belive it is the entirety of any movement that wants to challange psychiatry, or even the most important part. I do think it important that some people are able to do it though.

  • It looks like you are trying for a survivor lead, survivor only magazine. I think that there is a need for that. Most movements have such publications – eg radical sepertist feminist spaces and publications.

    I also think there is a need for survivor lead and survivor edited publications that have articles from non-survivors: parents of children who were prescribed psyche drugs and harmed by them, professionals that are onside, campaigners from other causes that in line with survivor philosophies and so on.

    Either way it looks like there is a call for more survivor voices to be heard and that can only be a good thing. So I wish you luck with this project Julie.

  • In that case I suggest you find a small group of people and develop a manifesto, what you want to achieve and how you want to achive it, before doing much more.

    Then pick another target, or the same one, and try to do another international day of action.

    From that try to develop a community by developing a newsletter/website etc.

    And stick to the manifesto so that any outside funding comes in with as few strings as possible.

    Personally I think being anti-psychiatry in the manifesto but working with those who want to reform it as a step in the right direction might help stop the take over by astroturfers.

  • my basic message is start small, but aim to grow very big over time.

    Aim to draw people in and support a growing movement.

    Strat with low key tactics but aim to grow to direct action when the movement is gowing and sustaining itself.

    Formats that encourage story telling and forming supportive networks are essential to sustain such a movement but make sure this is tied into the aim of completely overthrowing psychiatry, or if necersarry, or completely reforming it (not so radical but it might be necerasrry to grow a big movement)

  • I think discussing how to develope a movement that is in very early stages via a website is difficult. The ECT protest was succesful as it was held in so many countries on one day and well coordianted.

    However in the past someone asked people to brian storm ideas and he selected online activsim tackling wikkipeadia entries and other online media. I found it encouraged me to tackle pro psychiatry charity sites such as Rethink in the UK. So I think it is worth trying to discuss this as a way of trying to catalyze a movement.

    I think encouraging people to set up local chapters of an organisation would be productive and asking them to engage in simple activities such as tea parties to share experiences, letter writing to local papers and setting up support groups for survivors of psychiatry. From that supporter base protests and maybe support groups for drug withdrawal could be set up?

    Setting up alternatives such as psychological support groups similar to hearing voices groups but which say they are doing it because psychiatry causes more harm than good would be a good idea.

    In terms of targets then the mass drugging of children is an obvious one.

    Setting up a survivor newsletter/website or even facebook page is a good idea too. Having a way of promoting local groups within that is something I would suggest as a good thing.

    Having a conference that is either anti-psychaitry, anti forced treatment, or anti-ECT or some other unified theme would be good.

    Education work by training people on giving talks and then arranging local speaker tours would be good too. From this people who are confident in approaching politicians, commissioners of services as well as potential supporters could be developed.

    Smashing an ECT machine, getting arrested and then using the defence of committing a crime to stop a greater one being committed, which is what anti-military Ploughshare activists do, but with weapons of war.

    Banner drops outside pharmacies where people obtain anti-depressants and other drugs, with leaflets and a speak out by people damaged by the drugs is something I can imagine getting press in small towns but not big cities. Coordinated small town actions can have a bigger impact than one big city protest that gets ignored.

    If NAPA or another organisation takes off then I would recomend looking into training from direct action and social movement trainers such as from Trianing for Change

    As for a statement of purpose, and equally important, how to achive your aims are important but probably need to be done democraticaly with a dedicated founding group. Some want to end psychiatry completely, some want it reformed. Some things can probably be easily agreed such as ending ECT, psychosurgery and forced treatment.

  • Julie, it sounds like you and others would like a discussion on ownership of the Mad in America site and a discussion with the owners of how much should survivor voices have input into editorial decisions.

    A liberation movement needs to have the most opprressed either leading it or having a large role.

    However there are roles for other actors, as Robert Whitiker, critial psychiatrists and others have shown.

    These thinkgs seem like worthwhile things to discuss.

    I would like to see a growing, effective survivor movement, whether developed through Mad in America or via another route.

    It is unlikely that I will be taking a large role in discsussions on either what the role of survivors should be in the development of Mad in America or in developing the survivor movement but I hope those who do the best of luck.

  • Yes, anti-corruption campaigners and those fighting the influence of Big Money are our natrual allies.

    Psychiatry was always bad, you can read about that in Robert Whittikers book, Mad in America, but Bio-psychiatry took off as Neo-libralism took off in the 80’s under Thatcher and Reagon.

    That does include your rabidly anti-captialist, pinko commie queers like me (though most days I am far too lazy to actually get out of bed). But it also includes many others.

    Big money dominates politics and Big Money demands influence of all the major parties politics. As that happens the everyday folk, of all political pursuassions have less influence – unless some right wing billionaire starts funding them, as in the Tea Party.

  • AA, I agree with your point.

    That is why it takes more than sceince to succeed in most social movements.

    Good science is needed, and good science should reflect the experiences of survivors of psychiatry, if it doesn’t it isn’t good science, but change will only come when the power of psychiatrists and drug companies are undermined. That takes a lot of organising and campaigning. However it looks like there is growing movement that wants to do that.

  • I am all for personal stories. I have spent a lot of time helping survivors of psychiatry find ways of bringing forth thier stories. I am a founder of speak out against psychiatry:

    However Dr’s like to quote evidence. That often influences them more than personal stories and it is shocking that they so often glibly ignore people’s personal experiences both of, “treatment,” and anything else about people’s lives.

    I think a movement is a lot more than influencing Dr’s so I welcome bringing forward personal stories from survivors here and elsewhere.

    What I would really like is to hear stories of succesful survivor lead campaiging.

    I also look forward to seeing a growing movement that uses a range of effective tactics and develping effective alternatives to psychiatry and that includes hearing survivor stories, seeing survivor campaigns as well as challanging psychiatrists on the science.

    Right now though I am asking MT to justify his position, partly because it is a skill I want to develop. He is using his evidence to ignore people’s personal stories. Yet I suspect his evidence is weak and so I am asking him to justify it.

    I hope this does not come accross as ingnoring peoples personal stories. When I put up I was doing an anti-ECT protest on my facebook page I had people saying they knew people who had it and were never the same again, so I do value personal stories of appaling psychiatric abuse.

  • but you have no evidence so you could be wrong.

    It does raise questions of who decides to use ECT and who checks to see they are not abusing thier power.

    I acknowledge that many see all use of ECT as an abuse of power.

    If it does not save lives, and Read and Bental says it does not, and if other effective methods of helping people are avialable, and I suspect there are, then it is indeed an abuse of power in every case.

    To find out if other methods that are just as effecive are available we might have to look at places where ECT is not used and then look at outcome studies. Does anyone know if this has been done?

  • I’d be greatful if you could do that, espciallay as you are a proponant of ECT. Without doing that you are giving your patients care that is fully informed by the evidence.

    Whether Read and Bental are biased or not they present a cogent analysis and I think you have a duty to examine it to arrive at treatment decisions that are in the best interest of your patients.

    I would therefore be greatful if you would do that before posting on here again as without that you cannot be fully informed of the relevant arguments on this issues.

    In other words, you have to proove Read and Bental are so biased that thier paper is not worth considering by reading it and presenting a valid arguement answering it.

  • Read and Bental’s study is dated 2010, the ones you site are before that.

    He maybe against ECT but I ask you to tease out his study and the ones you quote and show us why they are different and why interpret them as favourable to ECT while Read and Bental reach different conclusions.

    Without doing that you are not engaging into meaningful debate.

    If you want I can quote the relevant part of Bental and Read’s study to start the discussion off, which is what I have done with my local hospital.

  • I have not examined these studies but they are counter to the Read and Bental study which was conducted in a similar manner.

    I would like to see either of them comment on this and on the papers you cite.

    Here is a link to the study, it is a 2010 study and therefore after the studies you cite, though that is not enough to indicate the quality of the work

  • MT, according to a literature review in 2004 by Read and Bental there is little evidence that ECT works better than placebo but there is evidence that it causes brain damage. They conclude it the short term gain that some obtain does not warrent it’s use.

    Individual stories are not enough to justify either promoting or calling for a medical treatment to be banned. For that we need well conducted studies. This is the best I can find.

    Here is a link to the study:

    If you have any other evidence that is contrary to that I’d like to know.

    I wrote to my local psychiatric hospital in the run up to the protest asking them whether they knew about the controversies surrounding this treatment. They replied fully saying they did and saying that sham ECT was effective for some people but that real ECT was much more effective. They acknowledged people reported damaged memory and cognition. So I wrote back asking them which studies they were quoting and how they interpreted them as the Read and Bentall literature review came to another conclusion.

    Your post has reminded me to get back to them as without providing such evidence I feel duty bound to take further action.

  • Good. I was thinking of setting one up when I was involved with Speak Out Against Psychiatry as we had a few people who came off and were sectioned pretty quickly afterwards.

    It was stressful to deal with and these people hated the services where they were forced to take drugs they did not like.

    Drug withdrawal advice and support is only one part of what is need for people who feel trapped in the system but an important part and setting up alternatives is a valid campaign tactic.

  • Sandra, I agree about the importance of Open Dialogue. There are many small studies, or small units or individuals who do good work with low or no drug regiems. They all offer psychosocial support in a huge variety of ways. But Open Dialogue is the only known system where a whole mental health service has done this. For me it is not the method but how widespread and accepted in the region that makes it interesting.

  • thanks, I think I heard someone say there are more women patients than men in adult psychiatry and more boys than girls in child and adolescent.

    I have theory that the epidemiology of adult psyhiatry is like the canery in the cage in a mine. The figures for who gets treatment compared to the proportion in society as a whole revleals who is at the bottom of the societal pile.

    In child and adolescent psychiatry it is about medicalising difficult boys behaviour while ignoring girls distress.

  • The bit about parents being therapists I find a tad controversial.

    The rest I love. It seems an important discussion to have.

    I remeber Peter Breggin on one of his internet radio shows saying that after every therapy session, or every time you see a human service professional of any kind, you should feel better (a little better, or a lot better, he didn’t specify). I took that to heart and decided if I was going to offer to help anyone in distres that is what I should aim for.

    Conversly if I am seeing someone to try to get help with my distress and I do not feel better after each conversation I need to talk to them about this. If things do not improve after two or three session I need to say goodbye. That’s my rule these days.

    life is still a pain though, a lot of the time.

  • i think it is always the way when you want to challange the mainstream by going to mainstream events that you will be patronised and misunderstood.

    It is part of social change to deal with this as best you can while also developing the outsider organisations and helping effective protest that challenges the mainstream.

    Painful innit? I just want to throw eggs these days when I go to such events and hear nonsense. That, or I ask difficult but challanging questions that get noticed but not acted on.

  • I think Robert Whittiker is slowly and carefully facilitating the building of a movement. We just have to hang in there and it will arise.

    For every person taking direct action you need 100, 1000, 10, ooo followers. People who will write letters and sign petitions supporting you.

    You need to identify your allies and talk to them.

    You may need to take your allies struggles on too.

    All of this is slowly happening with two steps forward and one step back but it is happening.

  • The other thing that happens is that people get refered to therapy, usually breif, say 10 – 20 weeks of therapy and they get an assessment interview. They are expected to spill thier guts to someone they will never meet again and then wait for about six months before seeing anyone.

    That in itself is a grueling process to go through that is probably of no help to most people and damaging to many.

    It is however something that marketised packages of, “Care,” seem to demand

  • I really like the way you described what she saw as core: creating a safe place. A trusting relationship to review how we see things, what we have experienced and what sense me make of that. Just creating a trusting relatsionship.

    Isn’t that what we all need?

    I have found nothing else works and indeed it is thing I can offer to anyone who is distresed.

  • Healy wrote, “We are living in a New Censorship. This is an era when efforts to adhere to the norms of medicine and science by bringing treatment related adverse events to light risk being interpreted under trade agreements as an interference with the capacity of corporations to trade so that governments are all but obliged to shut down criticisms of corporations or their products.” on

    I pressume this is a reference to TTIP and other such trade agreements.

    From this I say Capitalism drives you mad, then it sells you snake oil and when you point out the snake oil made you ill they shut you up and sue you.

  • I think this is an inititive in movement building. It something many people can take part in and will have a small but visible effect.

    There was a post sometime ago on MIA where someone suggested online activism on wikkipeadia and social network sites that usualy take an uncritical perspective. I think these inititives are well worth pursuing both for thier own purpose but also as ways of encouraging easy to access activism.

  • I know someone who spent a happy afternoon with someone looking for somewhere to have sex on a secure ward. Eventually they found somewhere. It opened my eyes to the fact that patients have sex, form relationships, continue after they get out, fall out etc etc, much like the rest of us.

    Pitty this is not discussed intelligently more often.

  • I am not in the USA and so do not know how Medicaid works. My impression is that it is some kind of government funding for healthcare and aimed at those who do not have private healthcare packages, which usually come with employment. If I am right then this could be interpreted as mass drugging of the poor, uppity trouble makers and therefore an extension of the original purpose of psychiatry, ie a way of locking up people who are disruptive and who stop factories working at full pelt but who do not fall foul of the criminal law.

  • I liked the start of this article but then it went off on epigentics, which as other commentators have written is a popular term that is badly explained and then used in vaugue ways to justify …… something.

    It also said that the pollutants from our industrialised world might be effecting childhood behaviour and is probably effecting childhood, and adult, medical conditions. Well I have asthma and air quality certinaly effects that and bad air qulity in the UK is leading to a rise in deaths from respiritory disease. However I know of no known studies that show that pollution is leading to a rise in beavioural and emotional problems in children. The chemical imbalance theories of mentall illness are wrong and discredited, as the author points out, however they were built up on what sounded like viable spectulation and pushed by drug company marketing departments. The pollution theory of mental distress also sounds like viable specultation but without proof it will rely on someone’s marketing for it to be taken up.

    The article also uses the diagnosis Autism, but some experts have said Autism is not a valid diagnosis and that the way it has been defined has grown since the diagnosis first came into being. There needs to be some more reliable way of measuring behavior before it can be tied into a cause such as pollutants.

    So overall the article has some interesting ideas debunking modern child psychiatry, and that is something I welcome, but then introduces some ideas of other potential causes but has little foundation for those assertions.

    An approach I would welcome more would be to look at known correlations between distess and social factors such as the degree of inequality in a country and all kinds of distress, including distress in children, or how violence and other traumas effect child behaviour and emotions.

  • I have spoken to people who feel they benefited from ECT. One was vehemently defending it. I expect a few patients will be seen on blogs and in letters pages of the press defending it in the run up to and in the wake of this day of action.

    Someone above suggested a holiday in the Carribean as an alternative. That is not realistic when you are so depresed you have not eaten for so long you are on the point of death, may not want to speak to anyone and refuse all company for days on end.

    Being that depressed is horrible. Being with someone that depressed is very difficult. Yet we need to be able to present realistic alterntives to frightened patients and staff who have to deal with this sort of horrible condition from time to time.

    I have ECT horror stories of friends. One was threatened with it on a ward because she kept trying to escape and another was subject to experimentation by a gung ho psychiatrist conducting his own experiments in an NHS hospital. I have also read the literature. So am familiar with the horrors of ECT. That is not what I am debating here. It is the reality of severe depression and the helplessness of staff and patients who have to deal with it. We need realistic alternatives and if possible personal stories of how very severe and life threatening depression was dealt with to answer our potential, and I think likely, critics.

  • Dear Katie, thanks for pursuing this. While Healy has made statements in favour of ECT to me he seems far too busy taking down Big Pharma to be a perticularly big ECT advocate. The science is open to debate, and it is on this post, in the comments section. I am, like you concerned about Dr Breggin’s comments on Healy. They have exagerated the case and misprespresented what he has said.