Thursday, October 29, 2020

Comments by Irit Shimrat

Showing 67 of 67 comments.

  • Hi, this comment is not from me but from Don Weitz (https://www.madinamerica.com/author/dweitz/), who wanted me to post on his behalf because he does not want a log-in password (note to moderator – is there a way I could get a password on his behalf without going through his email, for future reference?)

    Don’s comment:

    “Too bad Samantha Lilly never mentions the systemic racism and fraud in psychiatry that has been prevalent since the 19th century, starting with Dr. Benjamin Rush, the racist “father of American psychiatry” and founder of the APA. The psychiatric and prison systems are not global movements; they’re self-serving, fraudulent, exploitative, health-threatening and disabling. In their essence, they are essentially paramilitary police: moral enforcers for neoliberal and fascist regimes. The “mental health” movement is dominated by psychiatrists and other professionals; it’s largely funded by self-serving, profiteering, and amoral Big Pharma (transnational drug companies), promoted by the corporate media, and politically supported by neoliberal governments, including those of the United States, the UK, Australia, and Canada. This “mental health movement” continues to spread and profit from psychiatric myths and lies, including “mental illness,” “mental health,” “safe and effective medication,” and the widely discredited “chemical imbalance” theory. This “movement,” in partnership with national “justice” departments, has permanently discriminated against, stigmatized, imprisoned, debilitated, electrocuted, poisoned and killed millions; particularly Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, middle-class and poor people, and political dissidents. The global “mental health movement,” like the psychiatric and prison systems, does not heal; it disables, traumatizes, and stigmatizes vulnerable people including children, single parents, the elderly, the unemployed, immigrants and refugees and is a willing partner of neoliberal governments and fascist regimes that are inherently harmful, racist, repressive, inhumane, and deadly.

    “In short, the “mental health movement” promoted by psychiatry and the corporate media is a destructive fraud. It does not deserve our support. It must be abolished. Instead of “mental health” and psychiatric institutions, people in crisis need and deserve non-institutional community supports, including 24/7, non-medical walk-in crisis centres, and crisis lines, runaway houses, drug detox houses, and other humane alternatives controlled, not by intrusive “mental health professionals” and the police, but by psychiatric survivors and our allies.

    “Our health, lives and rights are much too important to be interfered with, controlled or ‘treated.'”

  • My response is to recommend *The Careless Society: Community And Its Counterfeits,* about which Goodreads says: “John McKnight shows how competent communities have been invaded and colonized by professionalized services — often with devastating results. Overwhelmed by these social services, the spirit of community falters: families collapse, schools fail, violence spreads, and medical systems spiral out of control. Instead of more or better services, the basis for resolving many of America’s social problems is the community capacity of the local citizens.”
    (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/635872.The_Careless_Society)

  • Thank you, dear David, for this wonderful article. Boy, our gang sure has problems with terminology, don’t we? I’ve long wished the concept of “mad pride” could be replaced by that of “mad liberation” (yay, MindFreedom!). Nevertheless, everything you’ve written here and elsewhere resonates with me, and I love and admire you so much. I will never forget the time I managed, somehow, to phone you from inside the bin, in 2007, and told you what a failure I was for getting locked up again, and that I just wanted to die. You told me I hadn’t failed anyone or anything, but was re-establishing my credentials by doing field work; that I should make sure no staff ever heard me talk about wanting to die; and that I mustn’t die, because the movement needed me! Your loving words made all the difference in the world. They gave me the comfort and courage I needed to make it through yet another psychiatric incarceration. The idea of all oppressed peoples uniting to rise up and fight the right is such a beautiful dream, and even if it remains a dream for a very long time it strengthens us to remember it and strive towards it.

  • Excellent, important article, Rob. Thank you for writing it and for choosing to highlight the work of such smart people. A few specific comments:

    “mainstream mental health approaches influence or determine community resilience agendas.”

    Or obliterate them, eh? Keeping in mind, too, that “mainstream mental health approaches” include the administration of incapacitating drugs that prevent thinking about, never mind acting on, any sort of agenda other than compliance, trying to get out of bed in the morning, etc. And of course psychiatric drugs commonly cause a huge variety of physical problems that can contribute to the human body’s ability to deal with excessive heat, bad air, etc., etc. Not to mention that it’s harder to get out of a burning house, or town, when your body and brain can’t function properly.

    “the competence of the local community to deal with deviance goes down.”

    I wish the word “difference” were consistently used in place of “deviance,” which, though harmless in its actual meaning, unfortunately carries connotations of “abnormal psychology,” “deviant” as “criminal sex pervert,” etc.

    Finally, in reference to David Oaks’s words about his “wide range of alternatives to support myself … especially [including] nature (going out on 3-day fasts in Oregon wilderness, for example)” certainly needs to be taken in the context of what is happening to the Oregon wilderness right now – I hope you’re okay, David! – and what will happen to all wilderness and nature if climate change goes unchecked.

    Personally, I pretty much need to get outside every day, preferably riding my bike to and around a park, in order to feel anything close to okay (one of the consequences of long periods spent locked up in hospitals); and, right now, smoke in the air here in Canada, as elsewhere – smoke that is emanating from U.S. wildfires – makes outdoor activities “inadvisable.”

  • “.’.. people of colour killed instantly’. Are you speaking generally or specifically?”

    Both. There have been two reports in the past month (and probably more that I’ve missed) of police arriving at someone’s house on a “mental health call” and that person – in one case a black woman and in another case an indigenous man – ending up dead. “Mental health calls” are never good news for the “mentally ill” person, though they do end in the caller getting rid of the inconvenience, sometimes by the inconvenience getting thrown in the loony bin and sometimes by the inconvenience being murdered. It would be nice

    “To be fake and talk “Law and Order” while gassing and shooting rubber bullets just doesn’t realize a path towards justice nor respect for the possibilities and probabilities of collaborating together.”

    That’s for sure.

    “Managing a government’s laws one would think would also reach to our experience, by which we could begin to make sense not just for ourselves, but also others. If not, bodies of law that becomes alive thereby embracing the concept of what is Tikkun Olam?”

    Tikun Olam – literally “repair of the world,” for those who may not know – is a wonderful concept, as is managing a government’s laws in a way that would make sense. But it seems to me that people have been trying to reach these goals for a long time without any success.

  • I hate the term “interventions” too. To me the question of “workers and patients” already accepts that our problems are in the realm of disease and medicine, which I don’t buy. I think expediency and economics has everything to do with the impossibility of systemic change, which is why we have to figure out how to help ourselves and each other outside of systems. From what I see many people who get into politics do so to exert power over others, though I imagine most or all are lying to themselves about that, as shrinks and their minions (and a great many police officers, etc.) must surely be doing as well. Humanitarian concerns are only important when they don’t challenge the status quo. So, yes, I think we’re on our own. And it can be hard as hell to help each other, but I think that’s all there is, at least for those who can’t afford or hate the idea of therapy. Which is not to say that I am only helped by (or only help, for that matter) other crazies. But mutual aid, independent of pay, is where it’s at for me. And I realize that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to get by on that. Hope this is halfway coherent. I get very worked up about this stuff!

  • “Do you think the U.S. Bill of Rights is stronger or weaker than the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”

    My guess is they’re both fairly useless in the real world, and 100% useless when it comes to mental patients.

    “How do we begin to get the thinking to enfranchise what many have disenfranchised in silence? I reckon we just might need to go beyond the prevailing belief systems. What do you think?”

    I think so too. The problem to me is how do we get everyone else to go beyond prevailing belief systems. Wish I had a clue.

  • “Do you sense a healthier rhythm, by which we can advocate? And how does our “professional”, that is the we/us advance a certain awareness that detects before we are injured/hurt further”

    I think we can learn a lot about healthier rhythms from the traditions of the Indigenous peoples from whom this country was first stolen, and of other Indigenous peoples and ancient cultures, and from each other, and even from looking into our own hearts. If we could just stop the meaningless, harmful noise coming from the psychiatric and capitalist systems (which are tightly linked), that would be a start. I am not sure what you mean by your question about our “professional” – can you explain?

  • “I thought all people are supposed to be treated equally, isn’t this part of the Canadian Constitution?”

    Yup, it’s in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is about as good at actually protecting the rights and freedoms of disenfranchised people as any other country’s constitution, I reckon.

  • Thanks, Sam.

    “Please forward this hopefully to our PM, although I am not certain he understands.”

    Pretty sure he can’t emotionally afford to understand, as his own mother has been mental-healthed. Not to mention the “need” for social control. It has been disturbing that to calls for dismantling the police are inevitably accompanied by demands for more “mental health” funding. Not to mention reports of “mental health calls” by police (sigh) during which people of colour are killed instantly. Where the desired outcome would have been their being slowly poisoned to death.

    “The underpinnings of beliefs are that people MUST “deserve” this. (it’s not “treatment, it’s abuse)”

    And punishment.

  • Thank you for your comment, Bippyone. I have never understood how “mental health professionals” see “improvement” in inmates/outmates whom they have turned into zombies; “patients” whose bodies, minds and souls have so obviously been destroyed by “treatment.” I had left “sexual dysfunction” (among other things) off my list of the effects of psy neurotoxins because it seemed less directly relevant to covid-related risks, but I’m glad you brought it up, as it’s important and should not be forgotten.

  • Thank you, Tina, and everyone involved in the drafting of this statement. Although it is not possible for me to imagine that any of the good things proposed here will be brought into effect, I believe that it is vital to propose them, in part because they will serve as useful evidence in future. And let us not forget other effects of psychiatric drugs that make those who take them (whether voluntarily or by force) more vulnerable to infection, discrimination and/or ill treatment, among them muscle stiffness, pain and spasticity; dizziness; dehydration; constipation; blood vessel hemorrhage; osteoporosis; damage to the brain, heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, intestines, and other internal organs; seizures; obesity; parkinsonism; dystonia; dyskinesia; akathisia; confusion, memory problems and other cognitive difficulties; depression; tremors, hallucinations; anxiety; “paranoia”; suicidal and homicidal thoughts and feelings; and of course withdrawal “psychosis.”

  • I was fortunate to attend Tending Hearts and Minds, as well as many other excellent events and meetings, courtesy of the Eppersons’ tireless efforts in exposing psychiatric iniquities and promoting better ideas. I have also been personally supported by both Diana and Steven, who have saved me from being locked up on several occasions. This has taught me how very much we diagnosed people need our allies (when I was younger I was militant about meeting and organizing only with my fellow nutbars). I hope others will be inspired by this article to organize and educate, wherever they live.

  • Thank you, Tina, for this excellent article. As we know (and as I like to keep reminding people) besides akathisia, lethargy, weight gain and diabetes, psychiatric “treatments” also directly cause acute agitation; anxiety; blood vessel hemorrhage; cognitive deterioration (including confusion, memory loss and reduced ability to focus, concentrate, or think at all); constipation; damage to the brain, heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, abdomen, and other internal organs; depression; dehydration; distress; dizziness; dyskinesia; dystonia; fatigue; hallucinations; muscle stiffness, pain and spasticity; osteoporosis; paranoia; parkinsonism; seizures; sexual dysfunction; suicidal and homicidal impulses; tremors; and of course decreased life expectancy (common) and sudden death (rare, but not unknown).

  • Enormous thanks and kudos to RW for this excellent article, which I had previously only skimmed but read thoroughly today. Would that this had been published in the New York Times or the New Yorker or the Guardian or any large mainstream publication. Which is of course about as likely as Torrey suddenly admitting that he’s been lying all these decades.

  • Don Weitz has an ancient computer and was unable to open the link to this article, so I sent him the text, and this is his response:
    “WOW. What a horrific nightmare of suicide attempts and shocks (89) Annita Sawyer endured in NY psychoprisons, and helpful psychotherapy from psychiatrists Heller and Searles that helped her heal. Very glad she recovered her memories shock apparently destroyed. Her deciaion to write, go public and find her voice is awesome and inspiring.The shrinks once labeled me ‘schizophrenia reaction, improved.’ If you find her emaii address, please send her the MIA Library link to my book.* Thanks so much for sending me her gripping personal story of survival, professional success, courage.”
    Don Weitz
    [email protected]

    * https://www.madinamerica.com/mad-america-library/

  • Thank you for the excellent article, Sera. I feel so strongly about language that I often jump down people’s throats. (I will do so now, in reference to some of the comments, by saying that uncritical acceptance of the words “provider” and “recipient” make me kinda sick.) I recently went out for coffee with a young woman who had just been “discharged” from a month-long hospitalization and felt very traumatized, but wanted to tell me that the neuroleptic she was now taking was helping. I said I hoped she wouldn’t stay on it for long and spoke about some of the dangers. She responded by trying to explain why some people “need” long-term neuroleptization: she had a relative who had been born schizophrenic. I had a fit. I didn’t yell, but I’m sure I turned purple. I said that there was no such thing as schizophrenia, etc., etc. I came home and wrote an apologetic email saying that I wished I hadn’t been so mean. She replied that she’d very much enjoyed our visit and wanted to meet again soon. The next day I went to a party, attended mostly by psychiatrized people, and someone spoke about my work in the area of “mental health.” I had a fit about the wrongness of that term, and it resulted in a lot of interest from one of the party-goers, leading to a new friendship; she is thrilled to find a perspective on her own “mental health” experience that resonates for her. Sometimes, oddly, my fury about language does not work against me. Just thought I’d mention.

  • thanks, julie. i thought i’d better let don reply, as it’s his book, so i passed your email on to him and this is what he wrote in response:

    Julie
    Thanks for your comments re self-publishing. However, I want a real publisher, a publisher that can give the book the credibility and legitimacy it deserves, a publisher that recognizes its literary value and power. For far too long, most psychiatric survivor writing has been rejected as second-rate, as footnotes, by mainstream and left-wing publishers. I feel that my book and similar works should get the credibility, legitimacy and wide readership they deserve, which self-publishing rarely achieves. It’s time publishers stopped discriminating and patronizing our literature, especially personal testimony and biography, as second-rate. Most of our writings have been unjustly minimized or flatly denied by self-serving corporate publishers and the media. It’s time our writings were officially recognized as valuable contributions to anti-oppression and resistance literature. In a more practical sense, I also believe that a real publisher will promote the book, mainly because of its access to financial resources and the media that are generally denied to self-publishing writers. I want my book and other survivor works to walk through and be accepted at the front door of publishing, not the back door of self-publishing.
    That’s all I want to say. Thanks for sharing your suggestions.
    Don

  • wonderful, sarah! i do agree with kindredspirit on the right to die (especially for the many whose bodies and lives have been utterly destroyed by psychiatry and who have no support and therefore no way out). but i love all the points that you make here, and it’s so important to talk about this stuff. as someone who has been damaged (and who knows so many others who have been damaged) by “health care providers” and their diagnoses and “treatments,” and by trying to get help from crisis lines, and by 911 calls made by concerned persons, i find it very gratifying to see all this laid out.

  • “Irit – do you remember the Madness e-community set up by Sylvia Caras in the mid-1990s? That was my first taste of anti-psychiatry activism, and it saved my life!!”

    I remember it very well, and loved it, but it almost drove me nuts. I was most of the way there already, and new to e-lists, and the flood of daily emails was so overwhelming that I had to quit. i avoided e-groups for the next couple of decades and still feel overwhelmed by the very few i belong to now.

    “But it pains me to realise that over 20 years later, we are still covering the same old ground in the same old way.”

    Me too. It’s sickening.

    “As far as I can tell, there is no anti-psychiatry movement for psychiatric survivors – in fact the word “movement” is a hollow joke. The very phrase “Anti-psychiatry” is defined and controlled by the likes of Lieberman, Pies and Wessely – it has been weaponised and is used very effectively to bludgeon anyone who gets in their way”

    Exactly.

    “How do we break out of this habit of fighting each other and hollering into the void?”

    The only way I know is to keep trying to get our work into the public’s view, which is of course terribly difficult, and to try to work together with those who do not want to fight.

  • i am so sorry that you lost your son to zyprexa. thank you for your persistence; it’s great that caplan wrote about this horrible drug’s dangers in the times, and that you helped get a warning on it. yes, progress is inevitably glacial. every accomplishment on our side should be publicized and celebrated.

  • i am perfectly okay with people using pseudonyms! my point was not that everyone has to be or should be or can be “out” as a psych survivor, but rather that those of us who are “out” might sometimes get a little cranky about being trashed for being naive, tautological, etc., on the grounds that our work does not live up to the ideological standards of those still in hiding.

  • thank you for this comment, Jasna. I, too, believe that every effort each of us makes against psychiatrization is valuable, and I thank you for reminding us of that. Spotlight is not free of reformist content. One of the writers says, e.g., that the “lack of accessible documentation, among other failures of the current system, makes it difficult to study and improve the practice and administration of psychiatry.” Such views, however, are far outweighed by everything else in the publication, as well as potentially making it easier for the not-already-converted to be willing to read what other contributors have to say. In fact, I was going to put the reformist piece first for that reason, but just couldn’t make myself do it.

  • just as a matter of interest, i wonder how many of the people on mia who advocate for the abolition of psychiatry (which i would love to see but do not believe is ever going to happen) and slag those who do not publicly do so are using their real names. anyone happen to know?

  • so, oldhead, as I have long known from following and appreciating things you have said here and elsewhere on mia, we are in accord with regard to the “mh system,” and all that attends it, being utterly pernicious. however, i will not apologize for spotlight, most of which i quite like. true, the reason spotlight came into being in the first place was a request for a one-time newsletter responding to operating in darkness, from someone i used to work with, who did indeed want to publicize the CLAS report as a tool for “mh” law reform. now, let me be perfectly clear: i have zero interest in helping psychiatrists and their minions become gentler, kinder murderers, or in “educating” anyone who provides “professional help.” i personally regard making money off the misery of others as a morally bankrupt enterprise (and all the more so when it’s “peers” making that money). nevertheless, i liked and still like the CLAS report’s strong, human-rights-oriented-language, and its admission that psych drugs debilitate. obviously, all of that is kindergarten-level stuff for us, but not for many of spotlight’s readers. yes, all of us know all about psychiatric abuses, but most people don’t, and as for their not caring, i think there are many different ways to help them care. in other words, i still agree with myself (ha-ha) that people who are less easily dismissed than us can be useful in saying, yup, there’s something wrong with this picture; and that this might help outsiders give a damn. that said, please let me reiterate that i am fully aware that the only purpose for the “mh” paradigm is to justify the authorization of “practitioners” to inflict damage of many kinds (including financial damage) on “patients/clients.” i may be crazy – in fact, there is no doubt – but i still think that, for all its reformist content, there is other material in spotlight which indeed indicates, just as you say, that psychiatry is a bankrupt institution which needs to meet the dustbin of history.

  • i personally don’t give a fuck about educating “mental health professionals.” i was talking about educating the public. and i think we should be trying not to defeat (whatever that would mean) but to replace the system. i respect and admire you, oldhead, but when you say, “I’m sure you realize this, at least at some level” it makes me wonder whether you’ve actually read spotlight. i’m actually very well aware of what psychiatry is and why it is so powerful.

  • it is not so much “just” that i’m feeling discouraged about pace and strategies as that there is no progress, no pace, and a marked absence of strategies. my point here was that all the “education” i and others have been attempting for decades has been accompanied by the steady worsening of the mental death system.

  • hi, francesca, my dear. my response is just what you would expect: the piece is gloriously well-written and persuasive, and i wish that such a fine mind as yours was on my side regarding the illness paradigm!

    e.g.

    “the onus seems to be on the patient to prove that she’s not insane, rather than on the psychiatrist to prove that she is.”
    if only you’d stick to “sane vs. insane” by way of terminology!

    “Why don’t you do something more respectable for a living like deal crystal meth?”
    love this, and it indicates insight and humour, though of course to Them it clearly indicates illness. sigh.

    “I exercised much self control (which is really all it takes to disguise mental illness), spoke calmly and slowly, displayed a passable rendition of sanity”
    again, to me, that self-control indicates that this has nothing to do with illness. if your brain is diseased self-control should not be an option.

    “was taking massive doses of medication as prescribed (three antipsychotics, a mood stabilizer and a sedative)”
    that anyone should be subjected to this mishmash of poisons is revolting, and certainly these substances cause true brain problems, even individually, never mind in combination.

    “As with all mental illnesses, there is no brain scan, blood test or any other physical test which can confirm or deny the presence of anosognosia.”
    indeed. which proves, to me and my ilk, that there’s no illness.

    “As somebody who has been diagnosed variously with anxiety, psychotic depression, schizophrenia, panic disorder, schizoaffective disorder, major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder and, finally, bipolar disorder (my sole accurate diagnosis), I’m skeptical that disagreement with my psychiatrist as to the presence or absence of any particular mental illness necessarily indicates neurological disease.”
    again, this hodgepodge indicates to me that there’s no science in any of this…

    “most of the mentally ill”
    a category in which i assume that you would include me, given that i, too, during certain chaotic periods,
    “threw many of my apartment’s contents out the window, destroyed my treasured photographs, screamed incomprehensibly, burned food, embarrassed myself on the internet, disturbed my neighbours, wasted police resources, scared the shit out of my parents and alienated most of my friends.”
    yet to me this behaviour, awful as it was, had to do with distress and despair, and not with some unprovable neurological whatever…

    “substantially expanded and run properly, psychiatric hospitals would have little need of force. With the current power structure dismantled, hospital procedures would have to be designed to be inviting, humane and mindful of patients’ rights.”
    sounds right, except there should be no need of force and this shouldn’t be a matter of hospital, from my perspective (obviously).

    “street people who may not identify as mentally ill but who surely know that they are tired, poor, hungry and scared, would also flock to safety. The only real problem with this solution, in my view, is that voluntary psychiatric hospitals would be simply overrun, unable to provide for all those seeking sanctuary.”
    ah, sanctuary. exactly. not in any way what hospitals are meant for.

    “Extended Leave is a form of social control, not health care, as it’s primarily designed to curb undesirable behaviour.”
    i agree 100%, except that this is true of psychiatry and not just of the hideously and militarily named “Extended Leave”