Monday, December 9, 2019

Comments by Irit Shimrat

Showing 39 of 39 comments.

  • 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”