Monday, September 21, 2020

Comments by Paula J. Caplan, PhD

Showing 100 of 128 comments. Show all.

  • I just now read some of the later comments and find it frightening that people are saying Fauci is lying or just wants to control people! I hope you will look at the GOOD science that proves that wearing masks and social distancing really do reduce the spread. Have a look, PLEASE, at the areas where covid increased when masks and social distancing were NOT used and the areas where covid decreased when they were used. I don’t want people reading comments after my article to end up believing that covid is all a hoax and a plot! People are dying at a scary rate from this. We cannot render them and their loved ones invisible, please!

  • Audrey, I am happy for you that you found your way so well without the mental health system. However, I am saddened that you continue to use psychiatric terms like “Bipolar Disorder” and “Complex PTSD” instead of using this essay as a chance to teach others that psychiatric diagnoses have NO scientific basis and cause massive harm of a vast array of types. I guess someone told you that you “have” “Complex PTSD,” but what you really “have” is your own way of having reacted to and tried to cope with the trauma you experienced. You do not need to use such a damaging system’s language to refer to yourself. I urge you to use ordinary words that will help you stop pathologizing yourself and others who have been traumatized. I wish you well.

  • Peter, like so much of your work, this is an important article. I agree with Oldhead, though, that to report the 0.5% statistic is a good start, but then to continue on to say what the rest of a totally in-valid entity called “schizophrenia” consists of undercuts the quotation marks used around the term in the headline. It makes it seem suddenly as though “schizophrenia” were a real entity BUT that only a tiny bit of it is accounted for by genetics. In fact, NO PERCENT can be accounted for by anything, since it has no scientific basis supporting the claim that it is a real entity…I hope people will read Robert Whitaker’s book, Mad In America, and Jeffrey Poland’s chapter called “Bias and schizophrenia” in the book Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis. These make it clear that the category itself is a godawful mess. And we know it does massive harm.

  • I am so sorry that you were given a psychiatric label instead of being responded to with understanding that you OF COURSE were suffering because of racist treatment and because of your not having a “typical” style of acting or coping. And I HOPE you will stop thinking of yourself as “mentally ill,” since the effects of trauma like racist treatment should NOT be considered mental illness, nor should being an introvert or otherwise different. In any case, even the American Psychiatric Association repeatedly acknowledges that it has never been able to come up with a halfway decent definition of “mental illness.” And it’s proven that the psychiatric categories are not scientific and cause enormous harm. The last thing you need is to accept other people’s pathologizing of you. I wish you all the best.

  • Peter, this is SUCH an important article and should make everyone stop and think before accepting claims to “prove” connections between emotions or thoughts and the brain! In our book, my co-author (an HONEST neuroscientist!) and I have a whole chapter about this! The book is short and very accessibly written, by the way.,aps,115&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&linkCode=li1&tag=whejohandja0d-20&linkId=f7e069369609c5b0095adc0c20cf1c49&language=en_US

  • This is about a post way up the line. I wanted to respond to Steve McCrea’s comment that terms like “narcissistic” are different from “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” I TOTALLY agree! Nearly every head of every DSM Task Force and nearly every president of its publisher, the American Psychiatric Association, which is officially registered as a lobby group, has either said nothing publicly about the DSM or has proclaimed that psych diagnosis is scientific! Nothing could be further from the truth. Steve is right that terms like “narcissistic” have long been used by the novelists, the poets, and ordinary people to describe people who are totally self-absorbed, etc. But to use a term like “NPD” that comes from the DSM is to become complicit with the DSM authors and marketers and profiteers who benefit from the false claim that such labels represent scientifically validated entities…and from further false claims that, because they “are” scientific, therefore whatever “treatments” they recommend inevitably follow from the diagnostic label.

  • I had stopped reading the comments to this post when it looked like they were slowing down, so I was surprised to check in just now and see how many more were posted. I haven’t yet read them all and am also surprised to see how many veer WAY away from the subject of my article but will try at least to read the relevant ones. However, I need to point out a libelous statement I noticed by someone who won’t use their real name but signs on as “Berserk.” That person alleged, among other offensive and totally uninformed comments, that I was paid to be a consultant on DSM-IV. That is completely untrue, and the idea that I did it for money is libelous. If “Berserk” or anyone else is genuinely interested in why I agreed to be a consultant and stayed for two years (I hoped to have a role in encouraging their Task Force to be honest about the relevant research and to take steps to prevent harm from psychiatric diagnosis, and I resigned when it became clear that both were hopeless), as well as learning about how the DSM process looks from the inside, it’s all described in

  • Will, thank you for this extremely important article!

    I have been terrified by discussion by media people and politicians who think it’s a good solution to replace police with “mental health professionals,” given the oppressive and even violent ways that the latter have treated people who are suffering. And Will, I agree that NONPATHOLOGIZING, NONCOERCIVE approaches are needed, but how do you think, in a practical way, anything can be done to make sure that groups calling themselves “mental health advocates” and such but that are Big Pharma-funded and focus on labeling don’t increase their access to and power over those who are suffering? What steps can be taken to make sure that the compassionate groups and individuals are the ones who are called when someone is frightened and/or menacing?

  • Thank you for this important article, which I hope people will read with Dr. Lauren Tenney’s recent, devastating article about electroshock that was also published in MadInAmerica!
    I do wish that EVERYONE would stop calling it ECT, as the late Leonard Roy Frank — himself a victim of electroshock — used to plead with people to do, because, as he pointed out, the “T” stands for “therapy,” which is dead wrong for something that wipes out people’s memories, as they did to him. Also, to say “ECT” means not coming right out and saying “electroshock.” Even the “C” in “ECT” is a bit of whitewashing, since it stands for “convulsive,” which sounds more clinical and less horrible than “shock” or “seizures.” We can all help educate people about what this involves, and one of the ways to do this is always to call it “electroshock.” Make people hear those words and know what it is.

  • Steve McCrea, I cannot see a way to REPLY to your comment, which was this:
    Of course, that begs the question of how any person could be determined to “have a mental illness” when these “illnesses” are clearly subjective judgments about a person’s behavior or character, without any objective way to determine who does and doesn’t “have” these spurious “disorders.”

    But I want to note that the term “beg the question” (which is a term of rhetoric) doesn’t mean “raises the question” (despite its mistaken use frequently) but actually means “avoids the point.” So I know what you mean is that this RAISES the question, and then I totally agree with your comment. 🙂

  • So many lawyers who work within the Protection and Advocacy domains are goodhearted people. However, I have gotten NOWHERE when I have said to individual lawyers and to the heads of major organizations who try to protect the rights of people who are diagnosed with mental illness that “EVERYTHING bad begins with psych diagnosis, so instead of saying that your client ‘with mental illness’ deserves to have rights, you could save vastly more people if you filed a lawsuit about the false advertising of psych labels as scientific and failure of the APA and its DSM honchos to warn of the huge array of kinds of harm that all start with the diagnosis.”

  • So glad you wrote this, Jim Gottstein, and so glad that Evan has you trying so hard to help him. Is there no legal clinic (Harvard Law, for instance) that will take his case?
    One other point — you said that you feel lucky that mistreatment by the system did not end up making you “mentally ill,” but I don’t know what that means, since that term is meaningless and so misused by the very system we despise. I assume you mean that mistreatment by the system can intensify and multiply the manifestations of a person’s suffering, yes? 🙂

  • Very good list in this article, but I wish you had added that psychiatric diagnosis is utterly unscientific, rarely helpful (except for requirements for “services” the person might want and need), and appallingly harmful.

  • I am so sorry about what you went through. You deserved to have people make you comfortable telling about your suffering a long, long time ago. It is tragic that that failed to happen. It is also tragic that people have given you psychiatric labels, and I hope you have not accepted them as either scientific (NO psych diagnostic label is scientific) or helpful or safe for you to have attached to your name. In fact, I know there are people who will read your brave article and be dismissive on the grounds that you “have” these various “disorders.” You don’t really “have” these made-up, unscientific entities. You have suffered in a number of ways and have coped in a number of ways, and finding out what is helpful in alleviating your suffering is what really matters. Diagnoses tend to get in the way of that. And they expose everyone who is diagnosed to a vast array of kinds of harm. Wishing you all the best. You might want to have a look at which you might find of some help.

  • Thank you for this scrupulous study of the effects of neuroleptic or “antipsychotic” drugs on death rates. This is so important to have all this work carefully described and critiqued.
    Happily, I note that you refer to people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder rather than to “schizophrenics” and “people with bipolar disorder.”
    Since I know you and I and many others agree that there are all sorts of horrible and dangerous reasons that people are given psychiatric diagnoses, I want to reread your article, considering what other thoughts would have come to mind if instead of calling people “seriously mentally ill” some other kinds of terms had been used.

  • Magdalene, since it appears that you are an attorney and are asking why the law and legal systems have failed to scrutinize and curb the damage caused by the DSM, please contact me at, because as a psychologist who has done a great deal of work in the legal system, I have been working and writing extensively on that very thing for decades. I assume you are not in the U.S. (you use the spelling “scrutinise”), and wherever you are located, I hope to hear from you.

  • Miranda, this is a terrific article! I would like to add a few things.
    (1)Even saying lots of people are experiencing “anxiety” and “depression” (whether psychiatrically labeled or not) can impede the path to feeling better. This is because both words are so vague and give little guidance toward how to cope. If anyone tells me they feel either of those, I ask what words they would use if they were NOT going to use those. The answers are far more helpful. What’s called “anxiety” is usually “fear,” and calling it that helps the person identify the fear’s source and set about figuring out how realistic the fear is and how to protect oneself. What’s called “depression” is used in a staggering array of ways, as David Cohen’s and David Jacob’s classic article about tests of “anti-depressants” shows, and it helps if one can recognize that they are feeling loneliness and isolation or helplessness or hopelessness or nostalgia or fearfulness.
    (2)I urge EVERYONE to put quotation marks around every term ever used to pathologizes people. It’s a very important form of educating others and reminding ourselves that they have no scientific basis and therefore are usually useless and often VERY harmful.
    (3)Since suicidal thoughts were mentioned, I want to say that I addressed this in my MIA webinar last week (which people can sign up to watch, including Bob Whitaker’s brilliant opening webinar and the ones that will follow), and good heavens, what could be more natural than thinking about suicide when death feels close to us (in our death-phobic and death-denying society) than in a long time?
    (4)Miranda included this from some media coverage:“difficulty sleeping, changes in eating patterns, rapid changes in mood, inability to carry out required or necessary tasks, [and] self-medication using alcohol.” These were being used to signal “mental illness.” So somebody tell me, do we really want to believe that in the face of this pandemic and all the unknowns about it and the fact that death is its ultimate outcome, we should have NO new difficulties in eating, sleeping, emotions, carrying out tasks, and trying to find ways to help us calm down? So what IS the “normal” way we should all be coping?
    Finally, I don’t think the word “grief” was mentioned here, but grief is something so many of us are feeling — grief that we cannot hug loved ones or help them in person, grief that we cannot go to the grocery store for potato chips even WITH a mask and gloves and not feel tense and watchful, grief about so much that is unavailable to us now, and perhaps grief that we are not handling this with as much serenity and resourcefulness as we would have hoped.

  • Anthony Murray, I know that good lawyers for this kind of situation are few and far between. I urge you to read Jim Gottstein’s new, brilliant book, The Zyprexa Papers, because one thing he does is to lay out exactly how he tried to prevent a client from being forcibly drugged. And a lot of this applies also to being committed against one’s will. It might be helpful to you in trying to work with a lawyer who might do better by seeing what Jim Gottstein did. He is a great role model! Good luck to you.

  • Hi, Kindred Spirit,
    I agree with you. In the article I wrote here, I didn’t spend much time on the kinds of things you are describing, because I have written so extensively about that elsewhere so many times, and this article was intended specifically to be a critique of a couple of pieces of research that function to cover up exactly the kinds of things you mention. So at one point I listed some of the real causes of veterans’ trauma, and I think you missed my mention of moral anguish in the above article (as just one of many causes of their trauma), but that is the term that came to me when I was writing my book,aps,220&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&linkCode=li1&tag=whejohandja0d-20&linkId=1dbd7dedc192a717801d8a2ccc9ed082&language=en_US about veterans, before I had heard Jonathan Shay’s term “moral injury.” I like that he highlights the importance of the kinds of things you describe in your comment, but I continue to use my term “moral anguish,” because anguish is a less neat-and-clean term than injury, and anguish is what veterans themselves told me about.
    I am glad you mentioned Veterans for Peace. I am a longtime Associate member of Veterans for Peace and winner of a Friend to Veterans Award from them, at least in part because I have for more than a decade been calling out the entities and individuals who keep trying to conceal the real causes of servicemembers’ and veterans’ trauma, including being in a war and being sexually assaulted in the military.
    Thank you for writing.

  • Hello, Someone Else,
    If you will listen to the podcast again and look at the website at you will see that we do NOT have veterans as listeners. Please note that the project is called Listen to a Veteran! We have nonveterans who are not therapists listen to veterans.
    As for having listeners for people who were abused as children or adults, I hope you will set up listening sessions for them. My approach as described on the above website is easily used for listening to anyone who is suffering. I don’t arrange for listening sessions for anyone other than veterans or servicemembers or their loved ones, because I have no staff, no assistance of any kind, and no funding. But I encourage you to do as you suggest.
    And yes, I certainly agree that all sorts of nonpathologizing approaches are the right things to use for people who are suffering in any way. The more than two dozen examples of such approaches can be seen at from a conference I organized that is for veterans, but the approaches are useful for everyone. And I beg people, as noted in the podcast, to stop using terms like “art THERAPY” and “music THERAPY” and just call them art and music, etc.
    Thank you for your comment.

  • So glad to see the topic of this article. Dr. Phyllis Chesler indeed deserves massive praise and respect, and her book — which is not mentioned in Lucas’s article — WOMEN AND MADNESS — is THE pioneering classic of feminist critique of the mental health system and remains all too true today. So do her MANY other courageous books (do google her and see the vast array of important subjects).
    And Chesler was one of the dynamic founders of the Association for Women in Psychology, which was an intensely activist organization whose activist roots are currently being revived — see and especially the information about its Activism Caucus.
    The recently deceased Dr. Bonnie Burstow has also been a tireless and inventive critic of the traditional mental health system and deserves mention.

  • So glad to see this article. It’s something that’s been close to my heart for more than a decade. In my book,When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How All of Us Can Help Veterans, which was published in 2011 and won three top national awards for nonfiction.,aps,220&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&linkCode=li1&tag=whejohandja0d-20&linkId=1dbd7dedc192a717801d8a2ccc9ed082&language=en_US
    there is an entire chapter about “What the VA Is Doing and Why It’s Not Enough,” and Chapter 6 (much different in the revised version and more up-to-date) is all about the importance of JUST LISTENING to veterans and how anyone can do it. Readers might also want to check out, especially the very brief video at the top of the page, where I describe what the listening sessions are, why/how I conceived of them, and a bit about outcomes. We have a lot of data on outcomes in addition to that. It would be great if the VA were to bring Listen to a Veteran! which is extremely simple and nonpathologizing and helpful to the VA. And it costs nothing. But so far, no VA people have been willing to bring this to their facility.
    Our film about this, “Is Anybody Listening?” was screened on Capitol Hill in D.C. and on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, had 140 showings on PBS stations across the U.S., had many endorsements from highly respected veterans’ entities and veterans, and has won numerous awards.
    Veterans interested in having a nonveteran (NOT a therapist, just a person!) listener or in learning more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via

  • Hughmass, it is heartbreaking to hear what the VA and the state hospital put you through. Occasionally I hear of someone who got real help from the VA, but is far more often that I hear nightmarish stories like yours. You deserved so much better! I invite you and other veterans to go to and see if you are interested in having a totally private, nonjudgmental, free listening session from our Listen to a Veteran! Program.

  • Thank you, Patrick Hahn, for this thoughtful and important article! If people are interested in empirical research that is a documentation of the vast extent of mother-blame, I refer them to:
    Caplan, Paula J., & Hall-McCorquodale, Ian. Mother-blaming in major clinical journals. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 55, 1985, 345 353.
    Caplan, Paula J. & Hall-McCorquodale, Ian. The scapegoating of mothers: A call for change. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 55, 1985, 610 613.
    I followed this research with a wider-ranging book about mother blame,,aps,112&sr=8-1-spell&linkCode=li1&tag=whejohandja0d-20&linkId=ebbdc31e3728055aed59ab0b60631dc4&language=en_US in which, among much else, I address the myth of the schizophrenogenic mother.
    Later, I wrote:
    Caplan, Paula J. (2007). Mocking Mom: Joke or hate speech?, Vol. 1, No. 4. June 23.
    And as for the whole, absurd and dangerous concept of “schizophrenia” itself, you’ll find this insider’s story about how all psychiatric diagnostic categories are invented and then falsely claimed to be scientific in

  • Thank you, Don, for this wonderful essay about Bonnie.

    I had heard about Bonnie Burstow — and Don Weitz — many decades ago and found the revolutionary work that each of them did individually and together to be stunning, courageous, and inventive. Over the years, Bonnie and I were in touch about the work, and I was always struck by how hard she worked, how varied were the kinds of ideas she had, how knowledgeable she was, how she put together the pieces of information in revelatory ways, how she combined intelligence with compassion, how her determination to make a better world never flagged. With regard to this last matter, we rarely communicated with each other, for no reason other than that both of us were busy, but awhile back, I called her after learning that she was struggling with terrifying vision problems. I made some suggestions, but she explained there were reasons she could not try them. I was thinking how scary and difficult it must be to try to continue working, as she had said she was doing, while losing one’s sight. And then after awhile, I learned that she had written a novel! A woman with a passion to reduce human suffering and who worked to do that in so many ways — writing nonfiction articles and books, writing a novel, and creating an anti psychiatry scholarship — there has never been anyone like Bonnie Burstow. The world is impoverished by her death but forever enriched by her spirit and her work, which will live on.

  • Terrific article, Miranda Spencer!

    The following quotations from your article so clearly suggest that she has suffered a lot from being in a “mental health facility” and from being on psychiatric drugs and/or having dosages changed, not from having a “mental illness”:

    “The conservatorship continues, her manager told the Post, because earlier this year she had been struggling to adjust to changes in her medication regimen and became ‘rattled and destabilized.’

    “Having defended the conservatorship, the Post article then turned its attention to the #FreeBritney movement. In this arena, noted TMZ in one of its articles, Spears did have a voice. “There are indications that Spears herself craves more freedom. At the hearing, she reportedly told a judge that ‘her father . . . committed her to a mental facility a month ago against her will and also forced her to take drugs.”

  • Just repeating here what Irit Shimrat wrote in her comment above, because it is just what I was going to write!! She wrote:

    They write, “The DSM is not simply a scientific manual, but a social laboratory where political, sociological, ethical and psychological issues are discussed and confronted.”

    imho, this article could have been replaced (and readers’ time thus not wasted), by the sentence “The DSM is not a scientific manual.”

  • Bob and Derek, great work in pulling together these various sources of data.
    (1) As you know, in my 2011 book, When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How All of Us Can Help Veterans,,aps,220&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&linkCode=li1&tag=whejohandja0d-20&linkId=1dbd7dedc192a717801d8a2ccc9ed082&language=en_US I spent three entire chapters writing about this very thing…and much more. Chapter 3 includes detailed analysis of the problems with not only “PTSD” but other psychiatric labels being harmfully applied to servicemembers and veterans whose deeply human reactions to war trauma, military rape trauma, and so on were thereby pathologized and about the harmful use of psych drugs as a result of that pathologizing; Chapters 4 and 5, respectively, are about what the military has been doing and “why it’s not enough” and what the VA has been doing and “why it’s not enough.” In Chapters 4 and 5, I track the DOD’s and VA’s press releases, showing a pattern of their expressions of dismay about suicide rates, bewilderment about their causes (usually avoiding any mention of numbers of deployments, the moral anguish coming from lies they had been told about how the military was being used and what was really happening, trauma from participating in or witnessing acts of war, and military sexual assault), and claims that they were introducing new initiatives to try to prevent suicides…followed by similar press releases with “new approaches” and continuing avoidance of real causes the next time. A long time ago, I met with the two top people in the Army who were then in charge of what they called suicide prevention, and they said their two main initiatives were to emphasize that “Army strong” includes acknowledging when one needs help and trying to get people more “mental health care” sooner. They were clearly totally uninterested in the serious problems I pointed out (politely) about each.
    (2) Many years ago, Col. (Ret.) David Sutherland and I wrote an article about the four main reasons veterans kill themselves, and two of the reasons were those you mention: the diagnosing of them as mentally ill and the use of psych drugs. (Sutherland, Col. (Ret.) David, and Caplan, Paula J. (2013). Unseen wounds. Philadelphia Inquirer. )
    (3)The long-famous “22 veterans commit suicide every day” statistic was based on VA data from only 21 states, not including California and Texas, whose veteran populations are huge. It would be good to find out — if it is in fact possible to do so — whether the VA’s current claim of “20 a day” is based on all states reporting, as well as how they defined “suicide,” since sometimes causes of death are mistakenly applied as cover-ups.
    (4)A great addition to your article would be description of what truly does help, and so I refer you and your readers to the Listen to a Veteran! Project, which has definitely been shown to reduce veterans’ isolation, which is of course a major cause of suicide. This is a completely free service, in which a veteran from any era (combat or noncombat, woman or man) is paired with a nonveteran who is NOT a therapist and who truly JUST listens with their whole heart to whatever the veterans wants to say. Data from a Harvard Kennedy School study and subsequent data have shown these simple, private, unrecorded sessions to be stunningly helpful for the veterans and life-changing for the nonveteran listeners. I also refer you to the 28 nonpathologizing, non drug, low-risk or no-risk approaches to helping veterans and their loved ones that are presented in extremely brief (10 minutes or less) videos filmed at the conference I organized in 2011 at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance. It was called “A Better Welcome Home,” and the videos can be seen at Several Pentagon higher-ups have requested this information, and we urge not only veterans and their families but also anyone who is suffering to go to that site, find a few approaches that resonate for you, watch the videos, and try those approaches.
    (5) Yesterday I posted the following to mark Veterans Day on my Facebook pages and on Twitter:
    Easy, wonderful things anyone can do to mark Veterans Day (before, during, and/or after):
    (1)LISTEN TO A VETERAN! Truly, just listen…with your whole heart.
    (2)Go to and watch any or all of the 9 very short (10 to 45 seconds each) “Listen to a Veteran!” Public Service Announcements that won a Telly Award — and see whom you recognize and if you have a favorite one.
    (3)Order and watch — or give as a gift to a veteran or veteran’s loved ones or a caring nonveteran — the 50-minute, awardwinning film, “Is Anybody Listening?” is the film’s website, and you can order the film at

  • How troubling to see that MIA is again — and this time in a major way! — publishing a piece in which “PTSD” is used without the least mention of the unscientific nature of the category, the way it pathologizes people who are having deeply human reactions to trauma, and the devastating harm the label has caused. Do some people say they want the label applied to them? Yes. That is nearly always because (1)It’s the only time anyone has ever tried to convey, ‘I believe you’re suffering,’ but that could be done by using those nonpathologizing words instead; (2)The labeled person BELIEVES that getting a label represents something scientific that will pave the way to relief from their suffering; and/or (3)They cannot get certain benefits unless they accept a label. Re: (3), I tell people that since the system providing benefits is intractable, if accepting the label gets them what they need, they should nevertheless know in their hearts that they are not mentally ill for being upset by trauma. I address these problems in a couple of my books. Most importantly, I have heard the devastating stories of people who have suffered because of getting this label.

  • Dawn, is that you replying as “ArmyWife”? I appreciate the clarification. If someone can tell me how to correct that mistaken phrase in my comment, I am happy to do so! I did of course read the article but did not see a mention of VCPA (Veteran’s Center for the Performing Arts). I know Stephan has done work combining Shakespeare and his own military experiences in his brilliant, one-man show, CRY HAVOC! which I have seen praised to the skies and urged everyone I know to go see. When I learned about DE-CRUIT and saw the performances of some of the veteran/students participating in Stephan’s Shakespeare class, it was the night that it was done in conjunction with Bedlam Theatre, and Stephan and Bedlam’s founder Eric Tucker (also a veteran, who I believe directed CRY HAVOC! at least at some point) and I talked that night about disseminating the work and the principles of it as widely as possible. It now strikes me that Bedlam is not mentioned anywhere in the MIA article, so are DE-CRUIT and Bedlam no longer connected? I am very much aware of and a great admirer of Alisha Ali’s work in general and with DE-CRUIT, and she and I are longtime colleagues and friends. In fact, after Stephan came with Alisha to the NYC premiere of my film about the tragic and unhealthy divide between veterans and nonveterans, “Is Anybody Listening?”,, I was delighted to meet Stephan, and Alisha and a number of my other friends and colleagues talked at length afterward, which was when I began to learn about her work with Stephan on DE-CRUIT. I continue to wish that there could be this glorious use of theatre for veterans — and indeed for other traumatized or otherwise suffering people — everywhere! And Dawn, if you are the one who wrote that above comment, I had the pleasure of meeting you at an LA performance of CRY HAVOC! and know how crucial a part of the work you are.

  • Drew and MIA, I am thrilled that you have featured the phenomenally wonderful DE-CRUIT program here! In DE-CRUIT, the brilliant Stephan Wolfert has conceived, created, and implemented with so much art and heart a way of helping veterans without pathologizing them, without using risky approaches like psych drugs or forced “treatment,” and with a way of using theatre and other literature to reconnect with aspects of themselves, with the arts, and with the humanity of themselves and others, as well as — importantly — with Stephan and with their DE-CRUIT classmates. The work that Stephan and Dr. Alisha Ali have done in documenting the powerful effectiveness of DE-CRUIT and _why_ it works is also tremendously important.
    I had the privilege of attending an event at which DE-CRUIT participants performed Shakespearean monologues and poetry they had written themselves, and what was stunning was that, both those veterans who are or want to be actors and those who are/do not, the depth into which they dove in exploring or creating the material and presenting it and the honesty and integrity with which they did it were all too rare onstage and in life. This is a tribute both to Stephan and to the veterans. The night I attended that event, I said I wished that every veteran could have the chance to participate in DE-CRUIT and urged that they — and Eric Tucker’s BEDLAM Theatre Co. in which DE-CRUIT was born — create a video to help spread the word.
    I have two other comments. One is that I hope that the nonpathologizing, even DE-pathologizing nature of DE-CRUIT comes through strongly enough in Drew’s article that the use a number of times of the dangerously pathologizing term “PTSD” is understood by readers to mean “people who have been traumatized by military experiences and/or by homecoming experiences and have wrongly been given the pathologizing ‘PTSD’ label when instead their reactions are deeply human ones that should never be pathologized.” Although many MIA readers would automatically make that translation in their heads each time they see a term for a psychiatric “disorder,” for some, there is the danger that any mention of one of these labels without a reminder that such labels are unscientific and expose the labeled person to a wide array of kinds of harm runs the risk of perpetuating the harm of such diagnoses.
    My other comment is based on my experience when I blogged for Psychology Today. There, I wrote about a great variety of such subjects. I found that any time I wrote about veterans, the number of readers ranged from 30% to under 3% of the number who read about any other topic. As I wrote in my book,,aps,220&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&linkCode=li1&tag=whejohandja0d-20&linkId=1dbd7dedc192a717801d8a2ccc9ed082&language=en_US, nonveterans — who represent 93% of the U.S. population — don’t like even to _think_ about veterans, as those percentages show. As an experiment, after I saw those figures, the next time I wrote an essay about veterans for Psychology Today, I made sure the headline did not reveal that veterans were the subject. Within about three days, that essay received as many hits as my other articles that were not about veterans. I see a similar pattern here. I think it is wonderful that MIA plans to publish articles about veterans and trust that they will be about depathologizing them, but it is poignant that so few comments have been posted in response to Drew’s article, and I hope that that is not a reflection of low readership. Nonveterans who have been pathologized and otherwise harmed in the traditional system would do well to make common cause with veterans, because the system has done them harm in so many of the same ways to people in both groups, and people who have not been labeled and “treated” are often frightened by appalling stereotypes of both “mental patients” in general and of veterans as Other and as dangerous.

  • I am so sorry to read this tragic and all too common kind of story. I have been listening to veterans for more than a dozen years, and for people who want to read more about this, please see,aps,220&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&linkCode=li1&tag=whejohandja0d-20&linkId=1dbd7dedc192a717801d8a2ccc9ed082&language=en_US and especially Chapter 3 about what is wrong with calling traumatized veterans mentally ill and putting them on psychiatric drugs, and Chapters 4 and 5 about what the military and the VA are doing and why it is at worst wrong and at least not enough.

  • You are right, Rosalee, that they didn’t put DDPD (the Delusional Dominating Personality Disorder that Dr. Margrit Eichler and I created) in the DSM. It’s too much like the DS people themselves. So glad you are liking “They Say YOu’re Crazy.”

  • LavenderSage, I wish I could answer your question, but I believe this varies from one school district to another, not just from state to state. I assume that whatever the school district’s rules, there is no harm in a parent asking that a child not be labeled with a diagnosis, and that could be a good teaching moment for school personnel, but I suspect the reply will be that if they don’t get diagnosed, they cannot get the help they need. Another way to approach it would be to ask if there is ANY way for the child to get the needed help without getting a diagnosis. I wish that parents might band together and start advocating for changes, but parents who are trying to get help for their children are often too exhausted to get politically involved. That is why others need at least to help with this kind of action.

  • Eric Coates, there is absolutely no reason for, as you say, the MIA editors “to spend thousands upon thousands of hours teaching the webzine’s various writers how to talk about psychiatric issues with any clarity while at the same time lacking the kind of consensually agreed-upon language that I have been advocating.” I have been happily stunned by the huge number of comments posted in response to my essay, about 99.9% of them positive. It seems that the wide variety of people posting comments had no trouble grasping the principles of my concerns or the extremely simple solutions I suggested. It only takes a few minutes to read my whole essay. I would be totally comfortable if the MIA editors wanted to ask all writers to read the essay…or if they just lifted the various solutions that I proposed — two of which were suggested to me by Amy Smith — and posted them in an “Instructions for Written Submissions” section that would be there permanently.

  • With regard to what you said about Allen Frances saying psych diagnosis “is bullshit,” (1)If you look in Gary Greenberg’s important and fascinating book, The Book of Woe, you will see that Frances was enraged that Gary made it public that he had said that, and (2)Frances has repeatedly ALSO said that HIS (only his) Task Force’s work on the DSM was “scrupulously scientific,” something I, having been on two of his committees before I resigned in horror at how they operated, can attest could not be farther from the truth. Hmm, what to make of Frances saying two totally opposite things about psych diagnosis…and having the nerve to title his absurd book about it, “Saving Normal,” when he more than anyone in history was responsible for a greater increase per year in DSM categories (even more than in DSM-5) and has continued in many ways to reify categories of “mental illness”?

  • s_randolph, I do hope that what I wrote will be helpful to any human beings. But you misrepresent me by implying that the only reason I totally dissociate myself from Scientology and its so-called Citizens Commission on Human is that “once upon a time a different Scientologist lied” to me. They are dangerous and alarming for a vast number of reasons, some of which I experienced directly and many others of which are well-documented in publicly available places.

  • Julie Greene, I do object to the word “disorder” in “eating disorder,” because it pathologizes it. I know you do not consider eating problems to be brain diseases, but to say “it” (there are actually various kinds of eating problems) is a nutritional disorder is a statement that does not include consideration of the ways that intolerable pressures on girls and women about their appearance being hugely important in determining their worth, and those pressures definitely do contribute in major ways to many girls’ and women’s frightened, often extreme ways of dealing with food. These factors can certainly lead to serious nutritional problems…I agree.

  • I have repeatedly expressed my concerns to MIA when they continue to publish pieces in which psychiatric diagnostic terms are used without a single mention of the fact that they are NOT scientific, that it is NOT helpful to use these terms (including ADHD) when trying to alleviate suffering or help people change their behavior IF THEY WANT TO, and that getting ANY psych label exposes one to a vast array of kinds of harm, and that there are MANY other approaches that do NOT involve pathologizing or drugging and that have few or no risks and are shown to be effective. I would like to know which person or people at MIA are currently in charge of overseeing such things, and I beg MIA yet again to stop helping with the reification of these labels!

  • Julie, so glad you are conveying this important message and glad your parents were so clear-sighted. I had an email address for you but cannot find it now and would like to send you a private message. Can you please email me, or if you don’t have my email address, then — though I usually avoid Facebook messenger consistently — please send me your email address through a Facebook message. Thank you.

  • Thank you for writing this. I assume you have not seen my “Diagnosisgate” article about how Allen Frances the very year after his DSM-IV was published (so that he was the world’s most powerful psychiatrist) secretly joined with two other psychiatrists to earn about half a million dollars from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of the evil Johnson & Johnson (the company that knowingly sold baby powder filled with talc and asbestos, which caused deaths due to ovarian cancer and heaven knows what else), to produce a “practice guideline” that would help Janssen promote the extremely dangerous drug Risperdal. You can see the article at

  • Since Bipolar Disorder, like virtually everything in the three or four most recent editions of the DSM, lacks scientific grounding, lacks even interrater reliability and stability and therefore cannot have validity, a more appropriate question to headline this article might have been “Can ANYONE ‘Have’ ‘Bipolar Disorder’?” Although the author makes some crucial and interesting and helpful points, in troubling ways she reifies the notion that Bipolar Disorder for anyone is a valid or helpful and not harmful category.

  • Julie Greene, I am sorry to say I have absolutely no control over which of my books is ever put on kindle or not. In fact, there is now a different publisher distributing They Say You’re Crazy than the one who originally published it. (These publishing houses keep buying each other out.) But perhaps if people write to the current distributor — which I believe is Perseus — and request that it be put on kindle, they might listen.

  • Lawrence, I would love to know how you found out that Allen Frances had hoped to play a crucial role in DSM-5! I have always wondered whether he left that whole enterprise willingly or was turfed out…and if the latter, for what reason. Please either post more info about that here, or write to me directly.
    Also, no, no one on the DSM-IV Task Force ever admitted why they did what they did. In my book, They Say You’re Crazy, I included an entire section about their possible motives, and there is a whole chapter about the dozens of gatekeeping technique they used that I experienced directly (I am sure there are more, but these are the ones I could report having experienced myself).

  • Thank you, streetphotobeing, for the kind words about my work. You may know that I organized the filing of 9 complaints to the APA’s Ethics Department about harm from psych diagnoses, but they dismissed them with no attention to their merits and on totally spurious, manufactured grounds. I wrote about this in madinamerica. I also wrote in madinamerica about the 5 complaints I then helped file with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services and got the same results. But all this provided an essential paper trail PROVING that PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSIS IS ENTIRELY UNREGULATED, AND THE TWO ENTITIES THAT OUGHT TO BE PROVIDING OVERSIGHT HAVE NO INTEREST IN DOING SO.

  • I totally agree with almost everything in this essay, and people wanting documentation of the points in the essay will find the inside story of how this came to be in They Say You’re Crazy: How the World’s Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who’s Normal As far as I know, I am the only person who actually served on a DSM Task Force (two of its committees under Allen Frances’ DSM-IV reign), resigned on moral, ethical, and professional grounds, then wrote about what I learned about how the DSM is put together, how science is ignored, distorted, or lied about, and how the harm it causes is concealed by the folks who publish the manual. One correction: It’s mentioned in the essay that Allen Frances has acknowledged that his edition of the DSM led to some epidemics of diagnosis, but it is crucial for people to understand that: (1) he named only three diagnostic categories that he said were the subject of epidemics; (2) he elsewhere has said repeatedly (I have the documentation if anyone wants it) that the process he oversaw of creating his DSM-IV was “scrupulously scientific,” when that is patently absurd (as I documented in the above named book); (3)in a book he wrote, he first says he is about to issue a mea culpa, then mentions the epidemics of the three categories, then says that he and his DSM colleagues could not possibly have foreseen these epidemics, and then goes on to blame for the epidemics just about everyone and every entity except himself and his colleagues; and (4) he continues to this day to talk out of both sides of his mouth about psych diagnosis, having said at one point that psych diagnosis “is bullshit,” as quoted by Gary Greenberg in an article in Wired, which Greenberg says in his Book of Woe led Frances to berate him for having quoted Frances accurately about that … and then he currently goes on to say that people who have “serious mental illnesses” are being under diagnosed and underrated. So please beware of simply citing without context his acknowledgement of a tiny number of diagnosis epidemics.

  • I have long been expressing my profound concern and even alarm that MadInAmerica continues to publish articles, essays, etc., that help to reify psychiatric diagnostic categories and labels, when it has been proven compellingly that (1)psychiatric diagnoses are NOT scientifically grounded — indeed, they are not even reliable, so they are even farther from being valid! (2)giving someone a psychiatric diagnosis does NOT increase the likelihood that their suffering will be reduced, and (3)giving someone a psychiatric diagnosis (even those that would seem to be the least severe) exposes them to a vast array of risks of harm. People interested in learning more about this can have a look at, at and at as well as many essays in the Psychology Today blog I wrote for some years.

  • It is SO troubling that people writing for Mad In America would use totally unscientific and VERY harmful terms of psychiatric diagnoses and using those categories as the core of research! Even one of the greatest purveyors of the term “ADHD” has publicly, repeatedly acknowledged (in his rare moments of candor) the harm that the epidemic of use of that diagnosis has caused. I hope that people will stop doing this sort of thing, especially in Mad In America but also elsewhere. You yourselves cause terrible harm by reifying these diagnostic labels, which have been proven time and again to cause terrible harm.
    and see my chapter in (available much more cheaply on Kindle)

  • I hope Mark and all the commenters here will read the brilliant work by Jeffrey Poland in his article about so-called schizophrenia (which is based on a THOROUGH review of the research literature and will give all of you a grounding to fortify your arguments) in the book called Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis. What he wrote in that chapter would have given you a powerful way to support what you wrote, and in it, he covered vastly more and in stunning depth some years ago. It is something everyone interested in this topic should read. The publisher priced the book higher than we wanted, but ask your library to order it!

  • Dr. Hickey, I appreciate your clarification about this matter. But I think it is important to point out that, quite apart from anything related to “unduly severe,” I hope people will read the following criterion from Major Depressive Episode in DSM-IV, noting as you say, the word “or,” so that any ONE item in the list of “marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation” causes the person to meet section “E.” And given that it has been shown (e.g., by Meadow Linder in that even very caring therapists often assign a psychiatric label even if the person does not meet ALL of the criteria, and given that (as Cacciatore and Lacasse have shown) professionals often immediately prescribe psychiatric drugs for the bereaved and of course have to find and assign a psychiatric label to justify the prescribing, it is clear that, in effect, there was no effective bereavement exclusion in DSM-IV.
    E. The symptoms are not better accounted for by Bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation.

  • THIS IS URGENT, because there is a major error in Dr. Hickey’s article here, although he has always before been absolutely accurate and compelling about everything. This is urgent, because the huge numbers of people who were diagnosed with Major Depressive Episode from DSM-IV even during the very earliest stages — even in the first few days of bereavement — will know that it is not true that there was the “bereavement exclusion” that DSM-IV king Allen Frances CLAIMED was in DSM-IV was actually in there. In other words, there was no effective bereavement exclusion. There is something about not diagnosing Major Depression if the person has been bereaved in the past two months. HOWEVER, if you look in the DSM-IV on about the fourth page into the description of Major Depressive Episode, you will see that it says not to diagnose this if the person was bereaved UNLESS the person had ONE of these things — “unless they are associated with marked functional impairment or include morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal
    ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation” (p.352 of DSM-IVTR). ALL OF THESE ARE absolutely typical of bereavement — NORMAL (I have problems with the words “normal” and “abnormal,” but you know what I mean) bereavement. In other words, Frances’ DSM-IV included the clear specification that normal bereavement even on the day of the loved one’s death SHOULD BE classified as Major Depression (it was Major Depressive Episode). And Joanne Cacciatore and Jeff Lacasse wrote a paper in which they neglected to mention all of the above but importantly documented how speedily bereaved people were put on psychotropic drugs, so clearly by implication, those were people who were not classified as having deeply human, even typical reactions to bereavement but were mentally ill and thus needing drugs. I’ve written about this in these two places and, I think, in something I wrote for MadInAmerica, too:
    –Caplan, Paula J. (2014). When you try to speak truth to power, what happens if the powerful turn off their hearing aids? In D. Holmes, J.D. Jacob, & A. Perron (Eds.), Power and the psychiatric apparatus: Repression, transformation, and assistance. Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 165-181.
    –Caplan, Paula J. (2013). Psychiatric diagnosis as a last bastion of unregulated, rampant harm to the populace. In M. Dellwing & M. Harbusch (Eds.), Krankheitskonstruktionen und Krankheitstreiberei: Die Renaissance der soziologischen Psychiatriekritik. Wiesbaden: Springer, pp. 351-388.

  • This is a much bigger scandal than this journalist describes, and I have two concerns about this article, although I am of course glad that yet another article about the Risperdal scandal has been written. One concern is why the “marketing group” to which the writer refers is not identified, why this writer — like every other major media person who has written about the scandal — fails to mention the readily available information about the three psychiatrists who were paid vast sums of money to create a false “Practice Guideline” for using Risperdal that laid the very foundation for all that followed AND who also were paid vast sums after that to produce what their leader, Allen Frances of DSM-IV fame (infamy) called their “marketing plan.” Why do the major media people protect these people over all these years, when they readily name the names of others who were involved. The full story is told in this video and in these articles, one of which is in MadinAmerica: and
    My other concern is about how the writer of this article, like investigative Stephen Brill in his 15-part series (!) about the Risperdal scandal, focus so intensively on gynecomastia. Certainly the photos that accompany the current article are intended to be shocking, but I would not have expected MadInAmerica to decide to include any such photos, never mind several! I do feel badly for the young males who were already suffering in some way — or causing trouble for others — because why else would they have come to the notice of whoever put them on Rispderal? And on top of whatever else was going on, to be adolescent boys or men and develop breasts must have been terrible. But it is terrible because of the combination of misogyny — “Eww, who wants to have a body part that is associated with women?!!” — and the rigidity, manifested in so many ways, that people have about sex and gender. As some of the other people who commented on this article have wisely observed, where is the alarm about the other Risperdal-caused harm, including shrinkage of the brain, diabetes, hyperglycemia, and even death? Why is this entire article and a 15-part series focused on gynecomastia?

  • It is very important to expose the appalling practice of the prescribing of so-called antipsychotic drugs for people who are suffering from war trauma. But I am surprised that Madinamerica would allow the unchallenged use of terms for psychiatric disorders like “PTSD,” since there is no scientific validation for them, a point that has been documented over and over and over. I hope that Madinamerica and Ms. Pagan-Ortiz will not do this in the future.

  • Begging Madinamerica and everyone who writes for them and posts comments will refrain from using “ECT” or “electroconvulsive therapy.” Please, please call it electroshock instead. Many years ago, I heard the brilliant survivor of electroshock, Leonard Roy Frank, who suffered in devastating ways from electroshock, plead with people never to use the “T” or “therapy” in connection with electroshock. As Audre Lorde wrote, “We cannot use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house.” Using “T” or “therapy” is using the marketing term for electroshock and helping perpetuate the coverup of its dangers.

  • In this otherwise interesting and important article, what is not mentioned is that Allen Frances was the driving force behind probably the most stunning conflict of interest and story of corruption in the modern mental health system…and it involved his creating a marketing plan for a dangerous antipsychotic drug. That information is in “Diagnosisgate: Conflict of interest at the top of the psychiatric apparatus.” APORIA:The Nursing Journal 7(1), 30-41. The article is at…/articles/2015_01/commentary.pdf To clarify some other bits of the history: Frances started trashing DSM-5, on whose Task Force he did not serve, while simultaneously making false claims that his own DSM-IV was “scrupulously scientific.” It most certainly was not, as I know from serving on two of his DSM-IV committees for two years before resigning after seeing how resistant he and his colleagues were to accurately reporting the findings of high-quality research, how they regularly based decisions on appallingly poor research, and how they ignored and even denied the harm done by psychiatric diagnoses. Furthermore, the grounds on which he trashed DSM-5 — that it is unscientific, that many of the Task Force’s deliberations were carried out secretly, that they were expanding the boundaries of abnormality — were the very grounds on which his DSM editions had been accurately criticized, but he never mentioned that. What has been fascinating, though bizarre, has been to see how he tries to position himself as the White Knight who warns people about the harm that diagnoses and drugs can do (and astonishingly, he has some people believing that he is a true critic, that he has somehow totally switched sides) while claiming that many people who need drugs are not getting them. And what class of drugs is he pushing in this way? Anti-psychotics. Think there might be a connection between that and what Johnson & Johnson paid him to help them market their anti-psychotic drug Risperdal?

  • How wonderful of Lauren Tenney to recognize that this story needed to be told and then to do all of the digging, FOIA request filings, and analysis of the information obtained! She so often is way ahead of the pack at spotting dangers and reporting them with penetrating analysis.

    And I love the comments posted above!

    I have to say that twice, people I respect tremendously have told me that electroshock was helpful to a close family member when nothing else had helped. My reactions to those reports are (1) I am first and foremost glad that they felt better, (2) I hope that they were fully informed ahead of time about the real and devastating kinds of harm that so often result from electroshock (but I know that it is highly unlikely that they were), (3) if it was in fact the electroshock that helped them, rather than something else, that of course does not disprove the harm that electroshock has been shown to cause in so many people, and I have heard far more first-person stories from people I greatly respect about its devastating consequences.

    With regard to footnote 3 of the article, if people are interested in the work I’ve done and am doing with veterans, better websites than the one given there are and

  • You are so right, and I appreciate your posting all of this.

    Bipolar Disorder is no more scientifically valid than anything else in the DSM. All of these labels are based on criteria that are so subjective that in essence, your therapist gets to decide if you have too much of one thing or not enough of another. Do some people suffer terribly from severe mood changes? Of course! Do they deserve help? Of course! But applying an unscientific label and then prescribing treatments that cannot be proven to help with something that has not been shown to exist is in effect experimental treatment without the patient’s knowledge or consent. Do some people say they were helped by treatments that were held out as based on their diagnosis? Yes. Do we need to believe what they say? Of course. But how many of them were ever told, “I don’t want to label as a mental illness what is happening to you, I see that you are suffering, and I will try to help. Now here is a huge array of things that have been found to be helpful by at least some people who have experienced something like what you are experiencing, and all of them are low-risk are no-risk”? We have 28 of these — and there are MANY more — at The people on these 28 very brief videos are referring to veterans, but these are all helpful for anyone.