Comments by kindredspirit

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  • I will withhold judgement until I read the book for myself. However, I tend to scoff at the framing of suffering and “depression” in this way which can only apply to those who have lived lives relatively free of severe traumas. Those who had parents, family, community who supported them to grow up with healthy bodies and minds despite life’s challenges. I can’t see how this viewing can apply to those who have “suffered” severe ongoing traumas during all stages of our development, chronic illnesses throughout life, oppressive “care” from psychiatric, medical and legal authorities. Those who are dismissed as having dissociated ourselves. Those whose lives follow predictable trajectories of truncated education, earnings, social status. No one who has survived all that I have – and our numbers are legion – would suggest that run of the mill suffering and sadness is what we have struggled with. Dissociation may have saved my life. But what I got was pathology, scorn, drugs, ECT, harmful “therapies”, stigma, and ultimately dismissal with a broken body and mind that I’ve been left to my own devices to piece back together.

    I’ll read the book out of morbid curiosity. But if the “suffering” I and millions like me have experienced is going to be normalized, I won’t be praising “suffering” as a concept.

  • Yin Yang,

    Sorry to break it to you but Mother Teresa was a con woman who has long been exposed for being gleeful over children suffering and dying in her care homes in India. She was exposed first by Christopher Hitchens and later by Hemley Gonzalez and his organization Responsible Charity. Her mission was investigated for child trafficking and whole documentaries have been produced on it.

    Chomsky is an actual saint in comparison.

  • “Isn’t the fact that there is no way to measure the quality of psychiatric care kind of proof that we’re not dealing with medical issues?”

    No, and I’d urge you not to promote false equivalencies and provide fodder for psychiatric apologists to smear antipsychiatry principles. I’d argue that the vast majority of Americans at least are sick, judging by the obesity rates and subscription drug use. The likelihood (if you keep abreast of the research) is that chronic inflammation plays a major role in mental distress of all kinds. You’re never going to heal a broken mind while ignoring the vessel that cradles it.

    The problem as I see it is that like the rest of western medicine, psychiatry targets symptoms and not causes. If we were to target obesity’s causes for example, Our government would stop subsidizing cheap crops of low nutritive value which end up being ubiquitous sources of calories absent nutrition in processed foods. We’d have a shorter work day and work weeks. People would get paid a living wage and valued for their contribution to society, not to corporate bottom lines. We’d regulate chemicals that pollute our water, food, air and nearly every product we purchase. We’d promote community stability and pro-family values and structures. We’d ensure that all who want it have access to safe housing and meaningful work that gives a sense of purpose to their lives.

    But in such a toxic environment that is our actual reality, it’s hardly surprising that so many people are distressed. And suggesting that real medicine does a better job of healing is farcical in light of the facts. The real problem is one nobody wants to admit, much less address. (It is admittedly gargantuan.) Medicine alone cannot fix what’s wrong with our broken culture and polluted, toxic, and increasingly uninhabitable world. And our collective distress will unfortunately increasingly reflect that reality as the air warms, the seas rise, our bodies are increasingly filled with PFAS and micro plastics and pro-inflammatory “foods”, and ever more divisive social milieu.

    Psychiatry may not be medicine. But medicine is no hero here, either.

  • I had no idea Dr Bandy Lee had finally faced consequences for her unethical practices. Her firing came years too late.

    MIA could also have published Alan Dershowitz’s own article, which is far better argued and more coherent than this defense of Lee. The partisanship of this site is once again glaring for all to see.

  • I appreciate this rebuttal but I have to point out that these conversations almost invariably leave out those who have untreated disabling physical illnesses that are labeled as mental issues. Many Lyme Disease (and other physically ill) patients are misdiagnosed for years or decades with “mental illnesses” or with catch all “mental” associated illnesses such as “fibromyalgia”. These people are physically ill and need treatment. Many are left permanently disabled by the damage wreaked upon their bodies by a medical system who all but ignores them until they are nearing death’s door.

    When we discuss whether or not those labeled with “mental illness” should receive disability or be considered disabled, we can’t exclude those who have been so grievously treated by the medical system and who are indeed seriously physically ill.

    All of this also ignores the current state of the world. If you’re not depressed, something is seriously wrong with you.

  • This will be my last comment as I do not believe Mad in America has any intention of ever addressing the concerns brought up by survivors ad nauseam in both its own publication and in these comments sections. I think this continued rehashing of the same stories of victim blaming and abuse by the psychiatric industry is disgraceful, and the encouragement of “mad pride” in those who have been subject to such has been a source of contention for at least 50 years, going back to the writings on women and madness by feminist authors Phyllis Chesler, Kate Millet, and Shulamith Firestone, among others. There is nothing that I have personally brought up that hasn’t been discussed and written about by feminist survivors for many decades now. It is time for this organization to take an actual stand that is clearly in line with the science against this system of harm. There is nothing left to rethink.

    The whole concept of ‘madness’ is more gaslighting and abuse and it doesn’t matter if it’s coming from professionals or survivors. But don’t take it from me. Generation after generation of feminist survivors have come to the same damn conclusions. There is a wonderful British radical feminist psychologist, Dr Jessica Taylor, who has been standing up for women and girls for years. This is from 2019!!

    I’m done here and won’t return until there is a serious reckoning within this organization about its own complicity in this system of harm.

  • There doesn’t seem to be much point in engaging here any more. The site has gone stale and I haven’t got the stomach for the recent turn toward struggle porn that’s not accompanied by a strong activist response and organized call to action.

    I am heartbroken for both Cindy and Sidd, of course.

  • THIS is the kind of hard-hitting journalism that I hope to see more of here. I learned from this, especially the parts about Martin Seligman and his involvement in the CIAs development of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. I was already a critic of positive psychology but I honestly had no idea how insidious and subversive it’s roots are. THANK YOU!!!

    I only want to add that I passed a billboard for one of the military branches the other day that advertised “finding meaning” in military service or something to that effect (“purpose”, “community”, I can’t remember the exact wording now.) I remember thinking about how the military recruits its lowest ranking members from poor and disadvantaged communities and here it is offering military service as a path toward finding meaning or purpose in the lives of those desperately seeking a leg up and a sense of belonging in a culture that otherwise devalues those communities. One need only look at the racial and socioeconomic differences between those recruited to the front lines vs those who enter as officers to see who really matters. And recruits are notoriously lied to, promised things the military has no intention of delivering. Few among the poor know how many low ranking members of the military survive on food stamps or that their bodies are intended as canon fodder and to be trained as killers for the advancement of the US empire rather than toward keeping peace in the world. It’s all propaganda.

    Anyway, this was a very educational read.

  • I think you’ve brought up some points that lead to a bigger discussion on childbearing in general. The right to both produce and raise ones own genetic offspring has been under attack for decades by multiple industries that profit from both fertility and infertility. This is part and parcel of the right to NOT bear and raise children, which is equally under attack.

    Both of these movements utilize the production of children for profit through fertility treatments, through adoption, and through surrogacy.

    The adoption industry alone is a multinational, multi billion dollar industry that promotes the transfer of humans from the undeserving to the deserving largely along economic lines. Equality has been framed as everyone having equal ability to adopt rather than a restriction of the circumstances under which children are transferred from the poor to the well off. There are few discussions of this which take into account the lifelong effects adoption often has on children and on the mother’s who have lost or willingly given them up. We hear almost nothing but positive stories in our cultural discussions of adoption but rarely are willing to discuss how the children themselves fare or what circumstances led to their being relinquished. Whether it’s adoption of infants or older children, we can’t have a genuine conversation without discussing issues such as poverty, racism, trauma, and the culture of extreme judgment of what is a good parent vs what is a bad parent.

    Additionally, in pursuit of economic freedom, women have been for decades delaying childbirth while they build their careers so that they can be independent from male oppression. So now we have millions of women relying on fertility treatments as they attempt to bear children nearer the end of their natural fertility.

    We also have the surrogacy movement that benefits single hopeful parents as well as the LGBT population. Surrogates are often socioeconomically disadvantaged women who are essentially renting out their wombs. I’ve known them. Successful surrogates pump out one child after another at great risk to their own health and future fertility.

    You bring up good points about women choosing (or being forced) not to have their own children because of the drugs they have been prescribed. Often, adoption is the solution promoted to fix this issue.

    Another thing we don’t talk about is the pain of adoption loss. The majority of birth mothers never go on to have more children after experiencing the pain of relinquishment. Surrogates experience all of the same physical effects of childbearing and birth regardless of the genetic makeup of the child in the womb.

    We don’t talk about these things because they are inconvenient to the goals of those who are seen as deserving of raising children.

    When we talk about the right to bear and raise children, we have to also talk about society’s responsibility to keeping families intact. We have to talk about how poverty (socioeconomic status generally) influences decisions and cultural opinions about who is worthy of being a parent. We have to talk about the long term effects of CPS involvement, foster care, etc. We have to talk about how many foster parents are doing it for the financial boost and how awful so many foster homes are and the damage being done in the name of child protection. We need to talk about how many death row inmates are former foster children. We need to talk about international adoption. We need to talk about the health effects of fertility treatments and surrogacy. We need to talk about the trauma so much of this produces.

    In order to realize full reproductive rights, especially for those labeled as “mentally ill”, we really have to talk about who matters in our society.

    And thank you for the book link and description!

  • David, I also think that a blog about AOT and SAMHSA’s stonewalling would stand better on its own. The US is perfectly poised right now for a discussion about the harms of coercive “care” in the mental and judicial systems. Had this blog been a full blown attack on those topics riding the coattails of Britney Spears explosive testimony, it would have been much more effective in generating discussion about that.

    But instead it segued into mad pride, which many of us don’t resonate with, and the loss of SAMHSA funds for the Alternatives Conference. And again, this is a distraction. For one, we don’t need “alternatives” to oppression, though some of what gets billed as alternatives to psychiatry would be great programs to implement and stand on their own.

    Second, I am no bootlicker. In what reality do you beg your oppressors for money and then cry when they take it away? SAMHSA is an oppressive governmental entity that continually grows in its power to regulate behavior, which is the entire purpose of its existence.

    Count me in as someone who wants to talk about and help develop more effective strategies for gaining liberation. I see independence from SAMHSA as nothing but positive.

  • I am hoping that it involves offering legitimate support to survive without “mental health” coercion. The years of disability I received could have been replaced with housing and supported employment and a ton of therapy without all the psych drugs and labels. They might have even found my Lyme disease many years sooner if I’d been fully human worthy of the supports I was receiving in the eyes of the helpers.

  • My main point is we don’t have to stand up for the right to be mad, whatever that even means, in order to oppose human rights abuses and restrictions of civil liberties. Although these two things have often been linked, it’s a terrible strategy as we can see from the slow and steady march toward less freedom for those whom society successfully “others” with such labeling.

  • Look David, I agree with you that “normal” is a loaded word. I use it as a counter to what psychiatry (which has a hold on the culture) considers “abnormal”. “Abnormal” psychology dominates and controls the range of acceptable expression, the range of acceptable lifestyles, and the range of acceptable responses to harm.

    I grew up with the contradictory influences of evangelicalism juxtaposed with my mother coming out as lesbian at the height of the AIDS crisis in 1987 and immersion in east coast sci-fi/fantasy fandom. I’ve been letting my freak flag fly since I was a child with those influences. I very much understand the rejection of ridiculous cultural norms. This is my lane.

    So what isn’t normal? What shouldn’t be allowed? That which actually harms others. That’s it, in my book. And we already have a plethora of laws that address that. And a justice system (broken as it is) that deals with that. Which brings me to the basic premise that psychiatry is a tool of social control and is part and parcel of the justice system. You can’t make weirdness illegal but you can pathologize it and restrict people’s rights extra-judiciously (and sometimes totally legally, Britney Spears style.)

    Normal could be defined as something that is common. Mental distress after trauma is very common and expected. It is normal under that definition. This is why I applaud trauma informed approaches. Hearing voices is *very* common. Struggling to survive and support oneself under capitalism is normal.

    What psychiatry traditionally did was pathologize nonconformity in the same way that a lot of laws targeted nonconformity. It has largely moved on from that to medicalize distress.

    Your mention of increasing greenhouse gas emissions as normal is somewhat out of context but I’ll bite. The climate crisis is not driven by individuals but by large polluting multinational corporations. This is not normal by any definition. It’s driven by greed and power by those that can. There has been a lot of appropriate pushback against the idea that individual efforts at reducing energy use has much effect at all. And now we are aware that stopping the production and use of fossil fuels reduces necessary global dimming. This is a topic for our governments. Let’s write to our Congress people and see how far we get.

    But there are certainly things that are common, and thus normal, that are harmful to others. Driving an average of 11 mph over the speed limit for one, which increases accidents and road deaths. It’s normal, judging by research of DC beltway traffic, but it causes harm. To address this harm in a sensical way, you work backwards to find the conditions effecting this behavior and change those.

    So that’s the basic metric. Does it cause harm? Then, if it causes harm (such as long prison sentences in punitive conditions causes harm) what can be done to minimize or eliminate it? A lot of people who end up getting tickets they can’t pay and losing their licenses, or causing unintentional accidents through speeding are doing so because they will be late to work otherwise, because they’re poor and their schedules aren’t as flexible as the privileged. I don’t ever have to speed. I’ve never had an auto accident and I have great insurance rates. But it reflects much more than a willingness to follow the posted speed limit. There is so much nuance to what drives normal and abnormal behavior then.

    So back to SAMHSA:

    In my experience, two things work to get government agencies to comply with the law. Actual public pressure, which means changing attitudes and getting into the mainstream press. And the other is suing. That takes money. Count me in to donate to the effort.

    Your last statement seems to be a dig at my comments here as if I am obliged to justify what I have done lately in order to be allowed a voice here. The answer is none of your or anyone else’s business. Because that’s a straw man argument to deflect from the topic at hand. And you aren’t the final arbiter of what counts, either, though there has been a long-standing culture on the internet of suggesting that people who disagree in online spaces aren’t doing anything. The truth is I have personally learned a ridiculous amount through discussion here at MIA over five years. As have others. I assume we take these things back to our families, communities and our efforts to defeat psychiatry. None of which I need to boast about in order to justify participating in the conversation online.

    The only thing I am seeking here is to have a voice in a movement that at times doesn’t seem to include me at all.

    One last thing. Those who, like me, also have physical illnesses that cause psychiatrically labeled distress aren’t mad either. Lyme Disease is not a symptom of madness. People with it want to be cured of an agonizing systemic infection that often effects our emotions and behavior. That’s it. I want to be cured. And we deserve a voice in the big tent of those who have experienced psychiatric harm. And this is my main point. Psychiatric survivors are extremely diverse. We come from all backgrounds and all paths into psychiatry. So have all the mad pride you want. I am artist and I appreciate the desire to depathologize strangeness. But understand that it isn’t an inclusive or unifying concept to a large portion of the psychiatrized. We can and should fight for our rights using much broader much more inclusive language. That just might be what takes antipsychiatry mainstream.

  • “This is demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority of those who consider themselves “mad” never saw themselves as such until they had been diagnosed as “mentally ill,” then defined themselves as “mad” as a substitute label — but a label generated by psychiatry nonetheless.”

    Well put.

    The romanticizing of experiences that many find distressing in the extreme seems extraordinarily out of touch to me. If we are to reach the majority celebrating mental health awareness, we need to recognize that most people simply want relief from their distress.

    This isn’t Alice in Wonderland. It’s an increasingly desperate and suicidal population that doesn’t want to live. Psychiatry is mad! It boasts of how its iatrogenic effects are proof of latent illness! That’s the only madness I see!

  • I find the several claims that the article wasn’t about “mad” pride to be disingenuous in the extreme. The entire second half of the article was about an effort to make July “mad pride month” and “Happy Mad Pride Month of July” was in bold preceding that.

    I do not find this policing of what people are allowed to agree with or object to in any way helpful especially when such a huge emphasis was placed on this subject by the author himself! It’s comical and highly illogical to suggest that comments should only focus on the first half regarding SAMHSA!

    People don’t turn to psychiatry for help because there is something to be proud of in their struggles. Most people who deliberately “get help” do so because they’re miserable! The portion of survivors who identify as having had a misunderstood spiritual experience is SMALL compared to those of us who were desperately trying to survive extreme depression, panic attacks, dissociation, perhaps physical illnesses, intense anger, nightmares, etc. Who in their right mind would interpret those experiences as something to be proud of?

    Do I not get a voice here?

  • Ha. If you say absolutely nothing, you may be labeled catatonic and given ECT!

    The trick is to smile, nod, admit to some struggles here and there but assert you’re ordinarily happy and content with your life. No, you don’t hear things or see things. Of course you sleep great. You’re not too happy or too sad. You have reasonable goals like, you know, sewing up a pretty skirt or knitting a scarf. Nothing too fancy or outlandish. You appreciate the concern. Compliment the nice doctors and thank them for their time. Stay calm, don’t cry. Don’t fret. Walk out of the office. Don’t run.

    And then you practice like you’re about to audition for a part in a play. Practice makes perfect. Throw fear out of your mind. Convince yourself it’s true. Play the part. This is how to survive.

  • Debra, what a tragic and incredible story. The fact that you got a degree and can articulate any of this post-lobotomy is miraculous in itself. Your story makes mine look like a fairy tale in comparison. I can only say that I can relate to some aspects as a teen mother, mother of loss, and ECT survivor. Your analysis of the actual issues at hand and your fears about the future are well grounded.

  • Thank you so much, Miranda, for your continued coverage of this heartbreaking, outrageous and terrifying situation involving Britney Spears. If you haven’t seen them, I think today’s New Yorker article by Ronan Farrow is absolutely mind blowing in its detail about the specifics of how hard Britney has been fighting this conservatorship all along. It answers questions many have had about how much control she has over her social media and general public image as well.

    In addition, an article yesterday in The Cut is an incredibly well written, no holds barred take down of psychiatry generally that I think will be very well received by many of this site’s readers should it be republished here.

  • Actually David, it isn’t hard at all to see why the “mad” pride movement has been so spectacularly unsuccessful.

    All I really want to have is a conversation about why I don’t feel that identifying as “mad” is a constructive path toward freedom in a world that has such narrow and rigid conceptions about normality. So how about we change the wording here since your apparent difficulty in seeing the necessary nuance is getting in the way of each of us being heard. Let’s talk about acceptable presentation instead.

    We live in society. Each society, each culture of you will, have cultural norms regarding behaviors and presentations that the local culture deems to be acceptable. These are fluid and changing with the times. Our culture embraces presentations now that would have been heavily pathologized just a few decades ago when I was a child. This is excellent progress and yet still hasn’t had much of an effect when it comes to the human and civil rights of those labeled with “mental illness”.

    My goal is to expand this range of acceptable presentation in behavior and emotion so that those of us who have been harmed or for whatever reason experience “big emotions” are allowed to be ourselves in freedom. It seems like our goals are not that far off. And yet, because I question the usefulness of identifying as “mad”, you respond in an adversarial manner. You seem to skirt the edges of the community guidelines in order to state that those of us who want to expand what is considered normal are having “paroxysms” without directly stating it about myself or Oldhead. This is rather disingenuous as we can all read between the lines here.

    “One really fun and amazing aspect of embracing MAD Pride, is that folks who describe themselves as “normal” are often upset. Wow, must be so amazing to be “normal.” “Normal folks” seem to enjoy telling other people how to think, behave, what we can call ourselves, how we can act, what is correct, wow. So effing normal!

    Each of us as individuals can describe ourselves. But overall, I am actually calling ALL of humanity, 100%, by any accepted definition or non-accepted definition, MAD. To be human is to have strong feelings, passion, difference. Part of what is going on with the “medical model” is trying to medicalize simply being human.“

    It’s interesting to me that when I push back and state that I am not mad, you say that we can each define ourselves as we wish. Fair enough. We agree here. Then you state that we are ALL mad. Am I still not allowed to push back against such a statement? When you are clearly now not just labeling yourself but labeling me as well?

    I am not MAD. I have been harmed. I have had expected responses to harm. I have had those expected responses to harm pathologized. It is not in my interest to extend that pathology by self labeling as “mad”. See, I did not use the word “normal” once and yet I clearly stated the same point I have been making. Please address that without having a “paroxysm” over the word “normal”. And please do it without exerting your authority. I don’t recognize your authority. You don’t speak for me any more than Oldhead does.

    I am a human that deserves human rights. That’s what psychiatrists and SAMHSA needs to hear. There is no need to have pride in the obvious and expected presentations of the harm I have experienced.

    We are not adversaries and there is no need for defensiveness. But I can’t support an effort that isn’t inclusive of the diversity of experiences of psychiatric survivors. Most of us don’t identify ourselves as “mad”. Many of us identify as regular people who have been targeted for our deviation from harmful cultural norms simply because our emotional expressions have been too big for others to bear. I am not “mad”. I’d sooner call those who harmed me “mad” than I would identify as such.

  • Of course, someone can call themselves the Easter bunny if they wish. But that’s really a different point from advocating for not being othered by a society with very rigid rules about what is considered normal.

    You see normal as a dirty word and that’s fine but I see normal as a word that needs redefining. And I see no point in arguing over it. I’m several decades younger than you and I’m fine with the fact that we have different visions. The mad movement hasn’t been terribly successful beyond the closing of institutions. So maybe give us younger whippersnappers a chance at facilitating a different kind of change.

  • My position is that a very wide range of behavior is normal, not the very narrow culturally approved range. I talk to myself all the time. I answer myself too. It helps me to vocalize my thoughts. I get to the answer more quickly. But that behavior has also been disturbing to others who don’t understand it. Why should it matter if the conversation is one-sided or if we have imaginary friends?

    There’s a thing about culture and that what is considered normal varies widely and its location based. Someone from the Deep South may be very different from someone from NYC who will be different from someone from the upper Midwest who is different from someone from coastal California. And yet all of these differences are normal human variation. I travel extensively and I like to remind people that the United States is not one culture. It is a series of overlapping cultures that change by location but also by race and ethnicity, income and education, political and religious leanings, etc.

    The enforcers of normality as you put it are really enforcing a very rigid narrow definition of normal that is extremely unhealthy. How is “mad” any different from “bipolar” or “psychotic” or “psycho” or “nuts”? These labels are all the same. I do not run from them. I reject them all. They are all stigmatizing normal variation in human behavior. I reject them for the same reason I reject the concept of neurodiversity. It’s not that doesn’t isn’t real. It’s that again we put some people in the category of normal and some people in the category of neurodiverse and some people in the category of mad or crazy, etc.

    I posit that the “normal” range of human behavior and expression is far greater than what local cultures consider “acceptable” in that culture. So then we start to see that this isn’t about anyone actually being normal or mad or neurodiverse but people being pidgeonholed into a narrow range of acceptable presentation for other reasons.

    What we really need to grapple with then is the deeper question: “who is this serving?”

  • I think the answer is to stop identifying as “mad” and to stop begging our captors for money.

    I am not “mad” and I don’t believe that other people who have “psychiatric” labeled emotional and altered mental states after trauma or illness are “mad”. These are normal responses. These responses are no different than what happens to non-“mad” people when they are severely sleep deprived, have drug-induced reactions (such as happens with normal controls in drug studies), or have responses to severe social stress. I think it is counter productive, and gives them ammunition to other us when we identify as having those struggles beingan internal part of us. It flies in the face of those fighting against various traumas and oppressions to frame these extreme states as innate or something to have “pride” in.

    And how can anyone fault SAMHSA for not cooperating with the requests of “mad” people? When we agree we are “mad”, we walk into the biomedical trap being set that allows them to internalize and individualize our struggles. Let’s go back to what Britney Spears said in her testimony. She’s done with evaluations, with human rights abuses, with control. She’s competent, as are the vast majority of people having normal reactions to abnormal conditions.

  • I agree with the criticism of endless research. My point was only that because research drives funding for programs, directing research toward providing robust evidence of the benefit of pets for emotional support and service dogs for those who wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise. It could also help to change laws regarding pets in housing and temporary accommodation. I wasn’t able to get my dog until I had the benefit of my husband’s income. She has had medical emergencies that amounted to more than double my monthly disability check. The cost of a high quality food alone is prohibitive to a person living on disability. This is what I’d like to change with research showing the cost-benefit ratio of pets and service animals to persons with disabilities.

  • These have been very interesting articles, Peter. Quite thought-provoking. It occurs to me that I’ve never had a discussion with my doctors about ANY of the screening questions I’ve answered, either when I first started seeing a doctor or at subsequent appointments. You’d think some of my family history of metabolic disease, diabetes and heart disease would elicit some discussion of diet and lifestyle choices at the least. I have to wonder if doctors don’t initiate further discussion about this because of concern about being reviewed negatively as a “fat shamer”.

    I think the only useful discussion that has ever resulted from screening for me has been that of smoking history.

    I also tend to wonder whether doctors have frank conversations with their patients about much of anything anymore with as time constrained as the majority of visits seem to be.

  • I am always a little nervous when people start talking about revolutions. Do they mean a revolution of thought or do they mean the total breakdown of the current society with civil war style violence? Because I’m thinking the US could go either way at this point, especially with the steady march toward climate collapse. I’m not really looking forward to the violent revolution that seems to be where we are headed. Especially in a culture that doesn’t think I should be able to arm myself against increasingly violent revolutionaries on both “sides”.

  • Maria, thanks for clarification. It’s funny how fraught online communication can be. I learned only yesterday that I’m apparently out of touch with how “the kids” use punctuation in texts and ellipses are a sign of passive aggression when texting with the younger crowd. This explains why my own kids sometimes misinterpret my text messages and think I’m mad and I’m here scratching my head, having grown up with (and using) standard printed English. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to not writing full punctuated sentences in a text message. 🙂

    Anyway, yes, we are of like minds. I see how you are using your references now, not in agreement but for illustration.

    My own Lyme disease is, of course, one of the medical mimics you mention. And my history of high ACEs and complex trauma really confounded any thought doctors may have had along the way about the potential for a real medical issue to be underlying a lot of the emotional struggles I had. And November 2001 was really the turning point in my life with the doctor who pressed a few places in my back, declared my illness fibromyalgia and poly drugged me on my first visit. It seems to me that it’s doctors who are addicted to their magic formulas, if this then that, and can’t really see the bigger picture with someone like me who had a complex medical history even by young adulthood.

    And while I’ve never tried to minimize the number of men who are harmed by our current systems who’ve experienced the kinds of extreme traumas I have, our culture has a different way of dealing with them. On average, men who have been severely traumatized in the ways that I have tend to find their way into the prison system. Their violence is more often outwardly directed. Whereas women’s violence is more often inwardly directed with cutting or unsuccessful suicide attempts or emotional instability. Men trend toward more antisocial labels and prison while women trend toward the borderline label and psychiatric drugging. I think both end up being controlled, just in different ways. This is why some of us point out the social control intent of psychiatry and how it’s functions as an extension of the prison system. It’s just a different type of imprisonment. But I think a lot of us women, especially those of us labeled as “high functioning” tend to see ourselves in Britney Spears shoes.

    But I also think her wealth was a huge driver of her conservatorship. She’s been a meal ticket for her father since she was a child star on Disney. She would likely have never been in this situation if she’d been a mere mortal. So I think when we talk about the more widespread use of conservatorship, we need to explore the motivations behind those where less money is involved to try to understand the nuances of their genesis. I have a nephew with Down Syndrome and now additional Autism and ADHD diagnoses who is heavily drugged and will likely never live independently. Some form of guardianship is likely going to be entirely appropriate for him as an adult. And I think it’s time to start having serious discussions about the benefit, necessity, of extending CASA and guardian ad litem programs to these adults. It’s clear to me that Britney’s court appointed attorney has not been acting in her interests, and that the influence of her being a dependable income stream likely played a role. And the voluntary nature of the CASA program would act as a counter to that financial influence.

    But again, we also need to change the cultural attitude towards those who’ve been so badly harmed. I’m a big advocate for restorative justice. There are some truly bad people out there but I believe that good people do “bad” things for myriad reasons and that our current justice system is mostly a punishment system that does little for victims and makes almost no attempt at rehabilitation for offenders, in much the same way that psychiatry makes very little attempt to rehabilitate the harmed and instead labels us as having lifelong mental diseases and drugs is into being unable to think straight.

    As for how we could criminalize paparazzi behavior, we could start with making nonconsensual human photography illegal to sell and purchase. This could be written in a way so that news outlets covering legitimate stories would be protected and could disseminate images that are in the public interest but that paparazzi selling random photos of celebrities walking their dogs (or going to therapy) would not be a legal activity and would constitute harassment. That seems like the most straight forward way to end the practice to me. There is nothing newsworthy in a decent society about someone going to see their therapist or buying coffee or walking their dog. It would take some cultural shifts as well. But celebrities really are just people who deserve to live their lives in peace.

    I’m interested in your feedback, of course. These kinds of legal issues are indeed fascinating. I know it’s a struggle to balance the law in a way that doesn’t produce unintended consequences.

    I appreciate the opportunity for a friendly nuanced discussion of what are really important issues!

  • “While coercive treatment is considered to be in the best interest to protect our society, a patient’s rights must still be preserved.

    The Court’s decision in Wyatt v. Stickney 325 F.Supp. 781 (M.D.Ala. 1971), a key issue was that patients have a “constitutional right to receive such individual treatment as will give each of them a realistic opportunity to be cured or to improve his or her mental condition.”

    What we want is the right to refuse “treatment” because these “treatments” are lacking in scientific validity. Coercive “treatment” doesn’t protect, it disables in the name of protecting society. What it does is intentionally disable those with unacceptable thoughts, expressions of emotion, or unwillingness or inability to be exploited for capitalist profit.

    The abuses and traumas of living in a society of this type further traumatize those who have been harmed rather than hold those doing the harm unaccountable.

    I think you meant to mostly agree with me but I find the framing troubling. The behavior of Paparazzi should be illegal. It isn’t “inhumane” or “disrespectful”. It’s a dangerous violation of human rights that drives people to insanity. Princess Diana lost her life trying to outrun this phenomena in Paris in 1997. How is it still a thing anywhere? How is this not absolutely forbidden criminal behavior? Why are these photographers’ often “crazy” and dangerous behavior in pursuit of a photograph not illegal? Why do celebrities not have a right to privacy and a life? These are sociopathic cultural norms that need to change. Our laws do not protect us. Britney has been criticized for naively attempting to befriend paparazzi to try to get them to stop hounding her.

    As far as women shaving their head, this criticism isn’t “unkind” or “mean-spirited”. It’s sexism. Men can do it, women are pathologized for it. My brother is half bald and has been shaving his head since he started going bald at 19 years old. When my daughter shaved her head just before she turned 18, this was used to implicate she was “manic”. These are sexist cultural norms where men and boys can do things and women and girls can’t without it being called “mental illness”. These sexist stereotypes have weaseled their way into acceptance via “gender identity” where we now have to “identify” with the proscripted local cultural norms belonging to “maleness” and “femaleness” or else be “non-binary”. This is insanity producing insanity. Let people express how they want to express! Let them reject stereotypes. And let’s call sexism for what it is.

    And lastly, those labeled “mentally ill” are made vulnerable, marginalized, and discriminated against. We don’t start out that way. Many of us have been deeply harmed and then we are punished and marginalized for unacceptable expressions of that harm, as Britney has been.

    What has happened to Britney isn’t important because she’s a celebrity. It’s important because it brings to the light of day how so many people’s rights are violated so grievously. The situation is so bad that nobody even knows how many American citizens are in these kinds of legal arrangements. And AOT proponents have been leading the charge for MORE control of those so labeled.

    Court testimony revealed that her own lawyer, who has made over 3 million dollars from “representing” her, colluded with the judge to not inform her that the court had not ruled on her right to remove her IUD. That was in 2014. He reported to her father that she had cursed in front of her children. I don’t know many parents who have NEVER cursed in front of their children. Samuel Ingram and Judge Penny should both be disbarred for gross abdication of legal responsibility.

    And if we truly believe this is a disability rights issue rather than simply a gross miscarriage of justice and violation of human rights of a competent person, where are all the social justice warriors? Where is Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats? I’ll tell you where they are. They are busy making sure that poor people receiving disability don’t buy guns. They are busy exploiting the voiceless. It has been Republicans calling for congressional hearings on these issues.

    And for the record, Britney isn’t the only female celebrity held hostage by a conservatorship in California. Her case isn’t unique, only the loudest.

  • I have discovered that the relapsing/remitting nature of late-Lyme Disease flares looks an awful lot like the criteria for “bipolar disorder”. When I am in a flare – which is usually brought on by stress depressing my immune system – I become “depressed” from a combination of severe pain and exhaustion because my body is fighting an inflammatory infectious illness. After years of fighting this process, trying to medicate my way out of it with both OTC and Rx painkillers, sleep aids and energy boosters, I have learned to instead work with my body during these times. I give myself permission to rest and be sick when I’m sick. I stay in bed when I need to. I boost my immune system with natural anti-inflammatory substances like curcumin, ginger, vitamins c and d, vegetables, berries and cold water omega rich fish. I don’t judge myself for being unable to do things I “should” be able to do. I cry, releasing emotion as needed.

    Then when I’m better, I play catch up. I feel good, my energy level returns, the pain recedes to a manageable level, my emotions stabilize and I get done the things I need to get done.

    This works for me. Judging myself as disabled, deficient, abnormal, disordered and the like didn’t work for me. Following the route of western medicine and American style rugged independence didn’t work for me. I need supports around me when I’m ill and I need agency and independence and freedom when I’m well.

    I would fail this test without question. And I think it serves a far more insidious agenda than screening for any kind of illness. It serves as a sort of new rule. A new set of lines we must learn to stay within lest we risk losing agency and become pathologized as disordered instead. You can’t be too happy. You can’t be too sad. You can’t be any of these things for too long. The length of which creeps shorter and shorter as time goes on. If you have trouble sleeping, it can’t be an unrelated sleep disorder like the sleep apnea it took me seven years to get properly diagnosed and treated. Or it can’t be ongoing unavoidable stress in your life. It must be a disorder. And you should seek treatment for it.

    And then you have to ask yourself, why are humans now treated like we’re supposed to be robots? Why is there such a strict definition of what it means to be properly functional?

    When you peel the layers back, you realize we live in such a rigidly controlled system because what we are now is labor generators for the people we produce profit for. Our lives are designed around work. Around productivity. We are programmed from birth to prepare ourselves to be come part of the labor force and for most of us that will mean laboring for others. School is not because we have a right to education, it’s because we grow up into a world where a “right” to work really means a right to be fired for no reason and a right to be exploited.

    This is not living. This is not freedom. We are human capital.

    So then what happens to those of us without the ability to hold down a forty hour a week (or more) schedule of labor outside the home? We are throwaways. If we are lucky, we earned enough or we were disabled early enough and our parents earned enough that we won’t be thrust into poverty by our inability to be constant income generators for those above us. Or maybe we allied ourselves romantically with someone who earns enough to keep us out of the disability-poverty continuum. If we are lucky, we won’t be completely thrown away in the human trash pile. If we are lucky, we aren’t institutionalized, ordered to AOT, or placed in myriad forms of guardianship.

    If we are lucky.

    A screening tool can be a very dangerous thing indeed. Screening tools lead to “treatment”, which often leads to poly pharmacy, and then to increasing disability, increasing loss of rights and freedom.

    Britney Spears apologized for lying to us and saying she was ok. But Britney was just doing what many of us have learned the hard way to do. Grin and bear it. Don’t burden others. Smile. Fake it. Not because we don’t need and deserve help but because control often arrives cheerfully masquerading itself as “help” and “care”.

    Miranda Lambert wrote a very poignant line into one of her songs. “It doesn’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look.”

    Message received. Yes, doctor, I sleep great. No I’m never unusually happy for too long. No I’m not depressed. Pain levels are great. Thanks, see you next year.

    What a shame it’s come to this in order to be free in our “free country”. And what a shame so many learn this the hard way. And what a shame so many “helpers” are so invested in the business of further disabling rather than supporting.

    Finally, I’ve learned the answer isn’t to refuse the screening, which brings its own level of suspicion because now you’re not playing along and walking nicely into the trap set for you. The answer is to know you need to lie, to practice the lie, and pretend like your life depends on it.

    Let freedom ring.

  • Rebel, I want to make something very clear here. You are not being harangued for your opinions. Each side continues to engage and to be rebutted. This is how debate works until one side or the other either decides to agree to disagree and walks away or changes their view based on new data. This is not a personal attack even if it feels uncomfortable when others continue to push back against your assertions. You aren’t being held hostage and interrogated either. You are making claims and those claims are being challenged.

    There are a lot of times that I walk away from a conversation when it gets to this point because I don’t have time to argue indefinitely, or I feel like it isn’t going to be productive and I’ve made my points. But there’s nothing respectable about accusing others of haranguing you simply because they don’t back down and continue to challenge your assertions. I know this makes people in positions of privilege uncomfortable when their assertions are challenged and their opponent won’t back down. But we’re all grown ups here and we can handle discomfort.

    As for the data you presented, this is cherry-picking. There is no relation between women becoming psychiatrists and women being oppressed by the system of victim blaming. Frequently, the women who make it through medical school and residency are already massively privileged financially and they participate in the continued marginalization of women whose circumstances they haven’t ever experienced and don’t have to understand. Economically and racially privileged women are overrepresented among the professional class. And economically and racially privileged people are massively overrepresented among those who graduate from top tier universities and medical schools. It is reasonable to make the assertion that a woman who has grown up in a stable, middle or upper middle class home, graduated high school, gone on to university and then medical school is going to struggle to understand the life experiences of a woman who was in and out of foster care and other institutions as a child, was serially abused, was a child bride and child mother, didn’t even attend high school much less graduate, lost her kids, multiple times divorced, etc.

    So let’s compare apples to apples when we are talking about oppression because my life experiences, just like those of other marginalized populations, are little understood by the majority of doctors or others among the professional class, most of whom don’t know how to even begin to empathize with someone like me or a black kid from the hood or an immigrant like my husband. These inequalities are what intersectionality intends to address.

    I am talking about pushing back against harm by the dominant culture and yes, those who might otherwise be oppressed often side with the oppressors either because their privilege overall allows them to or because they’ve made a calculated decision in pursuit of safety and/or personal power.

  • Sam, I loved this comment. Especially the part at the end about how our disabilities don’t define us. This is why I prefer the term “differently abled”. I even read someone else use this term today for the first time. It is how I feel about myself. I am not a disabled person. I am a person with disabilities. But I have many wonderful abilities that get lost or remain unseen and unappreciated when I am framed solely in the light of being disabled. I think this gets at the heart of what disability advocates are fighting for – to be seen as whole people with many gifts and much to offer despite whatever physical or mental limitations we may have.

  • Steve, you said “it is not helpful to identify as “oppressed” and to blame “oppressors” for your condition.”

    I don’t know that I agree with this statement. I think that this treads awfully close to the victim blaming tactics that are so pervasive in our culture.

    I think, rather, that a powerful facilitator to healing from oppression occurs when an individual who HAS ACTUALLY BEEN OPPRESSED is able to put those oppressions into context, label them for what they are, and actively shed the shame and stigma that are heaped upon those who have been and maybe currently are still being oppressed in various ways.

    It is not a blaming attitude for black men to name police officers as oppressors. One only need to look at the data to see that it is backed up by statistics showing that black people and black men especially are DISPROPORTIONATELY singled out for being stopped on the road for minor infractions, stopped and frisked on the street, reported by homeowners for walking through a neighborhood.

    I myself left the neighborhood app NextDoor years ago after my neighbors in Columbia, Md made a complaint about black juveniles doing nothing worse than walking down the street in broad daylight. Columbia is known for its intentional diversity, both economic and racial. And yet my fellow (mostly) white homeowners were posting porch cam video of random black teens walking down the street as suspicious activity. In other cases, doing nothing other than walking or jogging has caused the police to be called on black people. Or for vigilantes to shoot such people as happened with Ahmaud Avery last year in Georgia.

    This is oppression. These encounters lead to loss of life in far too many cases. In best case scenarios, these encounters lead to disproportionate drug arrests even though white people use drugs at the same rates.

    When we deny other people’s oppressed and marginalized identities and refer to their correctly naming their oppressions as “blaming”, we become the oppressors.

    So I think we need to tread VERY carefully when we are inclined to agree with a sentiment expressed from a position of privilege that having an oppressed or marginalized identity is blaming others for our condition. Because there are well documented conditions for which the only way out is to name the oppression for what it is and fight like hell for our rights. That’s what keen psychiatric survivors do. It what astute disability rights advocates do. Its what those fighting for police reform and prison reform are doing. It’s what women largely were doing before third wave feminism nearly destroyed the movement.

  • Rebel, this isn’t about individuals and their feelings. This is about fighting back against realities that are ongoing as demonstrated by statistics when viewing groups of people. Recognizing and validating realities provides the beginning of a framework for changing those realities. It’s frankly delusional to think a person can be free of the conditions of oppression by simply believing it. Britney Spears as a perfect example cannot just “positive vibes” her way out of her conservatorship.

    People get to name their own realities whether or not it is uncomfortable for others to hear that those realities exist.

    When things happen disproportionately to one group of people than another, it creates oppressive conditions for the effected group. Those oppressive conditions often translate into distress. And it is the DUTY of those not experiencing those oppressions to recognize and assist the affected population. But often the people not effected instead actively deny the conditions of the effected group. This is what is meant by privilege. Privileged groups often work very hard to systematically deny the conditions of the effected group in the very ways you are doing now. This is the mechanism by which oppressions continue to be perpetuated.

    Frankly, it’s evil by your own definition.

  • Steve, you make some of these things sound like they’re mainly historical oppressions. We both know it’s effectively still legal for men rape their wives. It is effectively still legal for men to beat, spank, and/or otherwise punish their intimate partners. More than 50% of “mass” shootings with four or more victims are cases of domestic violence and perpetrated almost entirely by male intimate partners. Men commit 97% of violent gun related crime.

    Britney Spears hasn’t spoken up because she didn’t think she would be believed. These invalidating comments are a very potent example of what often awaits women who speak about their suffering as a result of abuse and trauma. Indeed, Britney Spears mother Lynne’s attorney confirmed this isn’t the first time Britney has told the court she doesn’t feel heard about the abuse she is experiencing. The attorney reminded the court of Britney’s private testimony in court in 2019 to the same effect. Britney was very brave in speaking up publicly given that this kind of flat out denial of women’s testimony is so pervasive.

    And when women seriously struggle in the aftermath of abuse, instead of empathy, we often find ourselves on the receiving end of shame, judgement, commentary about our lack of motivation or strength or attacks on our character.

    This conversation couldn’t illustrate these points better.

  • The bigger question here is why is it so taboo in our culture for women to shave their heads? Why is the behavior of paparazzi legal? Why was Britney allowed to be treated that way legally with little practical recourse? Why does our culture punish the victims of abuse and trauma? How do we go from “you can’t hack in on your own” to “you can’t make ANY decisions at all”? Why are the only options rugged independence or total dependence?

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

  • “ ‘anti-depression’ does not just refer to a kind of intervention, but to a pervasive cultural prejudice towards suffering itself – as a society we have a very hostile relationship to any emotion that brings us down and that threatens the social order. Our communities have consequently developed a deep intolerance of suffering, which has in turn bred a certain amount of fear among us. The professionalisation of ‘mental health management’ has deskilled and intimidated us – and our communities no longer trust they have the wisdom or resources to respond effectively (pretty much contrary to any indigenous group I have ever studied). And so we exile sufferers to ‘experts’ in consulting rooms sitting far outside the community walls, who in turn end up, often with good intentions, transfiguring suffering into a mere commodity from which revenue can be accrued (let’s not forget that the global psychotropic market is now worth around $70 billion a year). And our idea of care, once they return, often amounts to: ‘please don’t forget to take your meds’ – there is no community, no shared cosmology, no ritual coming-together around the person’s pain. There is isolation, fear, pathologisation and much too much medication.

    This deep intolerance of distress (which is linked to bias against any economically inconvenient emotion) was even explicitly enshrined in the DSM. In 1980, the same year that Reagan came to power, the DSM for the first time reclassified occupational underperformance as a key index of mental disorder, at the very same time as neoliberal states began to grapple with the need to improve worker productivity – i.e. the output of each worker per hour of their labour. While governments would aspire to improve productivity from the outside, via new social policy, psychiatrists and drugs companies would claim to improve it from the inside, via new drug interventions that claimed to alter the very dynamics of the unproductive self.”

    This is truly incredible. Exquisitely framed.

    There are two themes ever present in the comments at MIA. One is anti-‘victim’-mindset promotion. That is, expressions of support for suffering are cast as having or promoting a victim mindset. So it’s fine to talk about having been victimized but displaying any of the common behaviors or emotions resultant from that victimization is framed as having a victim mindset. It’s a very powerful form of silencing. It’s especially prevalent in discussions of systemic oppressions and marginalization by denials of the very existence of such.

    Secondly, notions of help and/or recovery are equally stigmatized. But Dr Davies has very precisely stated here the reason why I promote eCPR.

    “we exile sufferers to ‘experts’ in consulting rooms sitting far outside the community walls”…”there is no community, no shared cosmology, no ritual coming-together around the person’s pain”

    This is what eCPR does differently. This is what peer support does differently. These are not “alternatives” to psychiatry, they are the foundations of a healthy community. This is why we need a cultural change around how we view distress and why we need to be in it together. We are all better off when we are all better off and not a day before it.

  • As for the women’s liberation movement, that came about because of the historical male dominance over female bodied people that continues to this day. It isn’t because the Rockefeller’s or some other criminal class wants men and women at each other’s throats. It is because men have and continue to use their physical size and cultural dominance to keep women in line.

    It is rape. It’s cat calls. It’s domestic violence. It’s financial control. It is pay inequality. It’s the mommy track vs the career track. It’s unpaid domestic labor. It’s medicine being based on research predominantly performed on male bodies. It’s gendered stereotypes of what it means to be male or female. It’s the positively Victorian legal ownership of Britney Spears by her father! (and the thousands of conservatorship cases like hers only coming to light because of her bravery!) It’s the colonization of the female psyche and the female body. It’s surrogacy and infant adoption and the exploitation of poor women’s wombs and the transfer of children from the poor to the well off. It’s women knowing we won’t be believed when we tell our stories of harm. It’s the concentration of power. It’s police and doctors and courtrooms and jobs where we must do our best to not have any sort of emotional experience and to mimic male ways of displaying dominance lest we be pathologized, psychiatrized, or fired.

    This isn’t the Rockefeller’s exploiting anything. This is the historical and ongoing fight by women for equality for women to own our bodies, our minds, our sexuality, our lives. We want to be free of male dominance. To be free of proscribed rules and stereotypes about what it means to be properly feminine. To be free of exploitation of our bodies. To be free to direct our lives without being labeled, pathologized, or psychiatrized. And lastly for men to be free of the same restrictions that perpetuates toxic masculinity.

  • I believe racism was caused by the economic allure of free labor. I don’t believe whites created slavery, but they sure as hell exploited it when they bought African slaves and transported them to the Americas. I think reducing this legacy of American slavery to the “criminal class” is a convenient way of not having to deal with the actual history of slavery in this country and the legacy of such, including Jim Crow laws, the war on drugs, Biden’s famous crime bill, redlining, etc.

    I’m sort of stunned by your assertion that there is some sort of organized criminal endeavor behind Black people wanting freedom and equity after experiencing centuries of systemic oppression. I have walked through the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King, Jr was killed. I’ve stood next to the shell of a burned out bus that was involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. You can’t walk through there with a dry eye. Or at least, I don’t think anyone with a heart could possibly visit that site and be a witness to the history presented and not be permanently effected.

    But I also have a Black grandchild whose Blackness she cannot escape and which is the first thing people notice. She has been othered since birth by people who see a Black child instead of a child as my white grandchildren are seen. This is not the behavior of criminals. This is behavior that many white people think is ok, think is totally innocuous. Who laugh and insist they didn’t mean anything by it when confronted but for Black folk is their daily existence. Being seen as Black before being seen as human. White people insist they aren’t racist. White people refuse to acknowledge and deal with their own implicit biases and then turn around and call my grand baby “scrub brush” because of her kinky curly hair. Other white people have pressured my daughter into trying straightening my grand baby’s hair “just to see what it would look like”. Because her Blackness isn’t enough. They want to know what she would look like if she were white. Because whiteness is the rubric by which all other colors are measured in this culture.

    So, no. I don’t think the Civil Rights Movement is or was orchestrated by criminals who just want us to be at each other’s throats and keep people against each other. I see first hand how my grandchildren are seen and treated differently and it burns me up alive when white people refuse to deal with their own shit. She isn’t another Black person shot by police. She isn’t a number or statistic or random data point. She is my flesh and blood! My baby’s baby! And maybe it’s wrong that it’s taken THAT to wake me up to these horrors. I’d like to think I was pretty strongly anti-racist before she came along. But what I’ve witnessed is that systemic racism is a collection of harms. It is harms written into laws, it is harms baked into cultural norms, and it is an awful lot of white people who claim not to be racist but whom still see Blackness first and foremost before they see that precious child. Every Black man and woman who was mowed down in the streets, or stopped and frisked, or didn’t get a job because of their name sounded too ethnic… They are ALL somebody’s child. Somebody’s grandchild. Their lives are in the hands of a majority of white people who desperately want to believe they are colorblind and that racism is a thing of the past.

    I have no time for this bullshit. I cannot say it loudly enough or often enough that Black Lives Fucking Matter. And the only criminal class involved is the white majority exercising power while denying they implicit roles in maintaining such.

  • “According to the author, this is an opportunity for the countries that normally lead the discussions around mental health to acknowledge that other countries and cultures understand mental health very differently.”

    Of course, the real problem with Western exportation of psychiatry is the assumption that what the West is doing is working for the West. It’s not like what we have is working for us but doesn’t export well as this position would assume. In reality, the approach of the West isn’t working for us, either. And so maybe what global mental health needs is for high income countries to take a look at what middle and low income countries do differently that works better as those countries have historically had much higher rates of recovery before implementing the biomedical approaches that dominate Western psychiatric practice and theory.

  • “but to those of us who know psychiatry is inherently evil and a tool of the devil know that ending psychiatry would make all these movement unnecessary and extinct.”

    Abolishing psychiatry will not end racism, it will not end sexism, it will not end socioeconomic inequality, it will not end war, it will not end domestic violence, it will not end poverty or hunger or climate change. Abolishing psychiatry will only end psychiatry. It will not mean people automatically know how to help each other when they’re distressed. Ending psychiatry won’t put food in bellies or roofs over heads or shoes on feet. It won’t provide a living wage or meaningful work. It won’t protect the abused from their abusers.

    Ending psychiatry is only one part of a very dynamic process of changing our culture to be more humane, caring and equitable so that the people in it actually want to live.

  • Rebel, my comment about batshit crazy beliefs wasn’t referring to you so I don’t really understand this response.

    And contrary to what you think, I don’t have a problem with your religious beliefs. (Richard actually started that particular discussion.) The only issue I take is with your expression of your beliefs when you suggest that what our country needs is to get right with god (and statements to that effect) because that way of expression doesn’t allow for the existence of other beliefs or no belief at all. And since many of us, myself included, have experienced religious trauma, it can be hurtful and retraumatizing when others express that what we really need is more of what we have considered harmful and abusive.

    There would likely be much less pushback against such if it was approached in a way that was more respectful of the diversity of faiths that exist, many of which do not include the concept of the Judeo-Christian God but are just as worthy of respect in religious dialogue. This would also avoid unnecessarily triggering those who have experienced abuse justified by Christian teachings. Expressions of faith can be wonderful testimony of positive personal experiences or they can stifle the sharing of diverse beliefs and experiences. The latter is all too often the case here.

    The Spirit of Dialogue is one of my favorite books. Perhaps you would enjoy it, too.

  • I hope that data like this can be used to expand access to animals as therapeutic supports, both emotional support animals in the home as service animals trained for public access. While my dog has been enormously beneficial for me, she has cost nearly $20,000 in three years between training, gear, medical care, food, toys, treats, etc. Service dogs cost so much in part because they are often large and require intensive training and mental stimulation that isn’t given to the average pet. A service dog was entirely out of reach for me financially when I needed her most, when I was at my least functional and most intensely used other services. I would love to see more studies like this that can be used to expand access to this kind of support for those who need it whether it’s just support to help low income people keep therapeutic pets or to help more people access service animals they otherwise wouldn’t be able to attain.

  • Great article, Madison. Very educational, as well. I did not know about these origins of what has become our EMS system. Not that I am surprised as so many helpful services started (and were coopted from) mutual aid practices.

    Yes, let’s decouple police response from mental health care. But then can we also work on decoupling psychiatry from the same? Imagine these communities with a mental health crisis response team whose options included peer respite, open dialogue, legal aid, individual and family therapy, increased provision of emotional support and service animals, domestic violence intervention, referrals to actually helpful services like housing, supported employment, targeted structured support groups like the hearing voices network, grief support, etc. Imagine if all of these services were provided without blame or shame or financial requirements or racist or sexist or religious agendas? Imagine humane human services.

    From each as they are able. To each as they need. In human community.

  • Dude, I’m confused. So men concocted the women’s movement and white people concocted the civil rights movement?

    Of course they were influenced by the forces they were meant to deal with. Psychiatric detainment influences people to turn against psychiatry. Black people being systematically put down in the streets definitely influenced Black Lives Matter as it and other elements of racism influenced the origin of the civil rights movement. The behavior of men influences the women’s movement. For sure.

  • I am all for abolishing psychiatry. It won’t happen until we change the cultural approach to those in distress, no matter how unscientific it is. It serves a purpose – social control. That’s why it is so powerful. Calling for an end to psychiatry without understanding the need for and working toward a different cultural response to distress first is either naivety or cruelty. I’m going to be charitable and suggest that most are simply naive to the bigger picture of why systems of social control exist and how we can influence them for positive change.

  • “I think the “new breed” of rebels need to get their noses out of Das Capital and Critical Theory books and start reading the writings of Dena Merriam!”

    You say this as if they are conflicting positions but Dena Merriam’s work is certainly complimentary to anticapitalist, antiracist, and anitimperialist perspectives! Remarkably, her interfaith organization of women faith leaders doesn’t preach her personal spiritual views because to do that is to negate the existence and validity of others’ religious and/or spiritual beliefs. In this way, all of our divergent religious/spiritual beliefs can be respected and honored.

    Religion and spirituality does not need to be a competition about who is right. It is also not an alternative to fighting back against harmful economic and social structures. Though it can certainly provide a moral and ethical foundation for such work.

  • “This was true for the civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement, and will be true for any successful movement to come.”

    Correction: This IS true for the civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement, and will be true for any movement to come.”

    To be clear, these movements are ongoing and constantly losing ground in some areas even as they gain it in others. Black folk are still fighting for equality and equity. Women barely have a movement anymore such as the definition of “woman” has become a feeling or identity rather than a biological reality.

    Talking about these movements as if they are historical instead of ongoing is a method of erasure. It’s propaganda.

  • Rebel, you say:

    “Ancestry and 23andMe have been called out to selling or giving our their data on those who subscribe to those tests to “who knows who.””

    I’m not as familiar with ancestry as I am with 23andMe. There are strict opt-in procedures on 23andMe for the release of aggregate (de-identified) level data and participation in research. There is the option to not participate at all. And there is, of course, a possibility of a data breach. I made a calculated choice to obtain my genetic information because I felt the benefits of having that information outweighed the risk. So far, that has continued to be the case.

    There is a 2008 federal law on the books prohibiting the use of genetic data from effecting health insurance as well as employment. There are a handful of states who have further protections enshrined in their laws pertaining to discrimination in other areas like housing and education based on genetic data. Ultimately this is civil rights matter and Congress needs to strengthen the protections for those whose genetic data is already in “techno space” as you put it. The genie is out of the bottle. And it’s not even a matter of personal choice in some cases. Many states and localities take a genetic sample of all accused suspects – many of whom are of course innocent of the accusations against them. Federal courts have upheld this practice. Genetic tests have been in used for decades to establish paternity. This is not something that is going away because some people don’t participate. So again, the answer is to demand that Congress strengthen the laws already on the books pertaining to the legal uses of genetic material.

    One of the concerns people have about the misuse of genetic material is how it’s being used by law enforcement. I’m of mixed minds about that. I certainly don’t object to the fact that a couple of serial killers and other career criminals have been identified via these sites due to their relatives’ use of genetic sequencing.

    A larger concern I have is the patenting of individuals’ genetic data, most notably in cancer patients. This was an issue well before the direct to consumer genomic sequencing test became a thing.

    Are there risks of dystopian abuse of our genetic material? Absolutely. But I used the same process with this as I have with all the other decisions I’ve made and that is to first become as informed as possible so I could make a well-reasoned and rational decision based on information and not fear. Becoming informed is actually the antidote to fear. This is what informed consent looks like.

  • “One more point, how can we advocate for genetic testing in a psychiatrist’s office, if we believe that psychiatry is not medically/scientifically based.”

    Did someone here suggest genetic testing in a psychiatrist’s office? I certainly didn’t.

  • Richard,

    First, let’s separate out fact from fiction.

    “There are some things we need to be cautious about when it comes to these genetic testing and metabolism theories regarding psychiatric drugs.”


    “We have to make sure we expose the totality of harm done by these drugs when discussing or promoting these genetic tests for metabolism issues with psychiatric drugs.”

    To be clear, I’m not speaking only about psychiatric drugs. I specifically stated pharmaceutical, over the counter, as well as herbal substances – many of which can have significant medicinal effects to be cautious and aware of. And these aren’t metabolism theories. 90% of the most widely prescribed pharmaceuticals are metabolized by six liver enzymes in the cyp450 pathway ( Roughly 8% of Caucasians and slightly higher numbers of Black and Hispanic people have one or more mutations to these SNPs that make taking many of the available drugs (RX, OTC, & herbal) a potentially dangerous proposition. So to reiterate, this is not limited to psychiatric drugs. This is real known science on how the human body metabolizes chemical substances.

    The private companies pushing expensive limited genetic tests aimed at psychiatric drug users in a crude attempt to mimic “personalized medicine” are total scams in my opinion. I didn’t and would never suggest such a thing. (I’d also never suggest someone start taking a psychiatric drug in case that isn’t clear from five years of my comments here.)

    The direct to consumer DNA tests like Ancestry and 23andMe both provide raw data files so that the user can view their genetic data at the SNP level (with help from one of the many apps that decodes such data and interfaces with SNPwiki) to provide information about each SNP individually. It costs less than $200 for the test app and the user has almost their whole genome rather than just a couple of SNPs.

    “There may be some people who are genetically more sensitive to psychiatric drugs and will have the more extreme “akathisia” side effects etc.”

    It doesn’t quite work that way. You can have multiple poor metabolizer mutations or you can have a mix of poor and rapid metabolizer mutations or you could have multiple rapid metabolizer mutations. This is the part where it gets tricky and there can be dramatic drug-drug interactions because the drugs themselves can further inhibit or induce the production of these enzymes.

    “BUT that does NOT mean that on some sort of continuum of effects, millions of others will have various lesser levels of “akathisia,” AND a host of other negative effects from psychiatric drugging.”

    Of course it doesn’t and I’ve never suggested it does.

    This information has implications for oncology patients, cardiac patients, chronic pain patients, those with various infections, etc. The fact that a portion of us are more likely to have severe reactions to pharmaceuticals and other chemical substances doesn’t change that other people can be and often/usually are harmed to some extent by these drugs.

    It isn’t a contest. Nobody is gunning for the title of most harmed psych survivor here.

  • “I wasn’t suggesting that anyone who is abused should forgive and forget.”

    I know you weren’t. I was speaking of my own experience and why I believe that the kind of person who behaves in that way – intentionally harming – doesn’t generally change unless they’re forced to no matter how long they’re in therapy.

    I do very much identify with all the dynamics you’ve detailed about the ways in which a friend group can reinforce the destructive behavior of a popular member. The one I was a part of for the decade that I was with my ex were all extremely highly educated, interesting, engaging people and yet they flocked around my ex largely because he was fun to be around, the life of the party, and he was basically a walking historian and encyclopedia. People loved being around him and enabled godawful behavior, including wide open sexual abuse of minors (myself included). When the rare person did try to make the rest of the group aware of his predatory behavior, she was held by the neck over a second story balcony and threatened with her life. And then the story of that incident was repeated whenever she was mentioned. So even if others knew and wanted to speak up against him, they knew better.

    I wouldn’t understand how powerful men like Bernie Madoff or Jeffrey Epstein got away with their blatant crimes if I hadn’t witnessed these horrifically destructive group dynamics upholding the power and position of popular members (usually men.)

    Yet there is still a part of me that does empathize with the broken person deep down inside the people who become that way. I just remain realistic about their likelihood for change.

    But anyway, seriously, good on you for getting away and being so strategic about your escape. I believe you when you say it would have been dangerous to do it any other way.

    Have you read Moderator Steve McCrea’s book Jerk Radar? It seems like you might resonate with the content.

  • “Everyone has the right to believe as they see fit, get their news or whatever from what source they see fit, etc.”

    Of course you do. I never said otherwise.

    My point about being differently abled is one of empowerment. I have physical limitations that preclude me from committing to going into a job on a set schedule. But that doesn’t make me completely useless. I have many skills and I contribute strongly as a competent member of my household. Our cultural way of viewing disability is very binary and we as a collective people tend to treat those labeled as disabled as if they have nothing at all to contribute. But those with disabilities have fought hard to be valued as contributing members of society even if we don’t have full time paying jobs. I have value beyond that. That’s what differently abled means to me. It means celebrating all the things I CAN do, which is a lot more than the things I can’t, and not getting too caught up in the tunnel vision our economic system has on being monetarily “productive” in creating wealth for the owner class.

    Again, I offer these ideas for whoever might find them useful.

    I’m not reengaging in further discussion of matters of faith, which are inherently unprovable and highly personal.

  • “But if you can’t cut it as an actual doctor, better become a shrink. Easy money, no science.”

    I actually think it’s time to stop demonizing individual psychiatrists. My former therapist once asked me if I thought my psychiatrist had at least meant well even though the polydeugging for years did so much harm. And the answer is, of course she meant well. I think most psychiatrists do go into the business with decent intentions. But this is beside the point. A red herring and a distraction from dealing with the harm being doled out on a systemic basis.

    The real issue here isn’t that psychiatrists are bad people doing harm intentionally. The issue is that good people are unwilling to see the evidence of harm being done. It isn’t about individual patients and individual doctors. It’s about a statistical picture that doesn’t add up. If the drugs are therapeutic treatments, why do so many continue to get sicker and less functional the longer they are on them? That’s the pressing question, not whether or not individual doctors and treatment providers are basically good people. (To be clear, there are plenty who aren’t but that’s also a distraction!)

  • “I understand that there are so many flaws in our mental health system that people think it should be eliminated. But I feel that it needs to change.”

    I think this is an oversimplification. Calling out psychiatry as a pseudoscience isn’t the same as suggesting that all forms of help for distressing or disturbed mental experiences should be eliminated.

    The problem is precisely as you say though and that is that many in the psychology field operate from the basis that deviation from perfectly functional is evidence of pathology. I think we’ve all heard the quote “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

    I also thinks it’s important to separate our empathic feelings about someone who has been deeply harmed from our sense of reality about what they’re capable of. Case in point, my seven years older sister was severely abusive to me as a child, used to smother me to the point of my stopping breathing. I don’t even know how I survived childhood looking back on it now. When I was 19, she stabbed me with a screwdriver in a fit of rage while I was holding my eldest child who was a toddler at the time. I am deeply sympathetic to the harm she experienced as a child and yet I do not identify with her in any way. I have never sought to alleviate my own pain by deliberately harming others. All she wants is revenge because she believes that’s the only thing that will make her feel better and she thinks that I deserve revenge for the crime of having been born three days before her birthday and her missing out on having a birthday party. It’s so delusional that there is no way to make logical sense of that kind of thinking. I know that something very fundamental in her got severely broken as a child but I do not make the mistake of thinking she will change unless and until the point that she decides she wants to be a good person despite having been so deeply harmed. She is a sociopath, full stop. She alleviates her own pain and self hatred by harming others. She has told me in so many words that she it makes her feel good for me to hurt. I’m honestly not sure that kind of damage to the psyche can be healed. She can spend the whole rest of her life in therapy for all I am concerned and I still won’t want to be within a mile of her.

    I have made the “forgive and forget” mistake with others who have abused me and I’ve always been burned for it. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people will not seek to harm others no matter how deeply harmed they are. I am a fundamentally good person who means well but I have not intentionally harmed others and when I have harmed others, I have sought to remedy that harm. Other people are damaged and their response is to harm others before they can harm you. It’s a fundamentally different way of approaching life. I do not want to do harm because it harms me to harm others. I hurt when others hurt. I am like a sponge for psychic pain and have no real defenses against it. But for people who derive pleasure from others pain, it is a mistake to think they will change. It may not be impossible but it is rare and usually involves incarceration and intense rehabilitation.

    And I’m sorry, I know you care about Bill and say he’s in therapy but my experience is that his type – the kind of gaslighting and manipulation you describe – don’t change until they absolutely have to. I think it’s naive to hope for a different outcome.

  • P.S. for those interested in a more thorough explanation of how these specific genes can influence metabolism of common drugs, this article gets into a lot more detail, especially regarding how some drugs can be both inhibitors and inducers of metabolic enzymes and create individual as well as drug-drug interactions.

    It’s also important to be aware that many popular herbal remedies (like turmeric/curcumin) are powerful cyp450 enzyme group inhibitors/inducers.

  • Lisa, what a compelling story. Thank you for sharing your and your son’s harrowing journey. I am glad to hear that he is healing and I hope his PSA is widely disseminated. I’m not one to be star struck or fawn over Hollywood types but this narrative is a nice change of pace from the constant “mental illness”, anti-stigma, NAMI-promoting narratives that seems to come at a slow drip from that quarter at about the steady and maddening pace of Chinese water torture. I hold hope that your bravery in sharing a counter narrative to prevailing beliefs will encourage others in your circles to show the same.

    As someone who also has the mutation to the CYP450 (A34) phenotype that causes slow metabolism of most of the psychiatric and many of the other popular drugs on the market, I sympathize with the frustration that doctors make little effort to ascertain their patients’ genetic status before prescribing. And it should be noted that many drugs that were previously available by prescription but are now over the counter can be similarly dangerous if one is unaware of their genetic status and presence of certain genes or mutations.

    The other big one that I’m aware of that effects certain drugs is the APOe genes that effect Alzheimer’s risk. Those of us with one or more APOe3 or 4 genes are at greater risk of hemorrhagic stroke when taking blood thinners and these drugs should only be given when their necessity is absolutely certain. I’ve been given these drugs on suspicion of heart attack (warfarin, specifically) when I’m at high risk of stroke as a result of their use. But ER doctors dole them out to anyone and everyone without knowing the harm they may do to any given patient. Given my father’s history of several hemorrhagic strokes, I’d rather not risk going to the ER for chest pain that might be benign because each time, due to abnormal heart rhythm, I’ve ended up on the telemetry or cardiac units being unnecessarily pumped full of warfarin when I’m not having a heart attack. But again, well meaning doctors can do great harm when practicing medicine as usual and so knowing your own genetic status can become a life or death kind of thing. I’ve largely decided it’s safer to stay away from conventionally trained physicians as a result. At some point, you have to risk looking like a crank in order to protect yourself from the people who are supposed to be healers. I applaud you for taking that risk, here.

    One last thing, if you believe your son needs disability, do NOT wait to apply just because you think he will be unlikely to get it. Social security has a cutoff of age 23. Those aged 22 and under on the date they first apply are considered to be minors and their monthly payments are based on their parents income. I applied about six months after I turned 23, and despite evidence of my disability going back to childhood, my payment was calculated on my adult work credits and hence I lived in abject poverty on SSI for the next decade until my now husband and I began dating despite my father having been a high earning career federal employee. So I implore you to file early, and then appeal any denials. One severely disabled person I knew took 8 years to get approved and then got a several hundred thousand windfall when they were finally approved on their half dozenth appeal. But unless you’re certain of your son’s ability to eventually support himself and your own ability to support him until that time, it is wise to apply before the age cutoff to ensure he receives benefits based on your and your husband’s work credits.

  • I like to use the term “differently abled” rather than “disabled”. This is how I view myself. Even those who are “enduringly sick” often have a great deal to contribute if they were afforded the supports to do so. But often supported housing or employment are offered in very coercive ways and many reject these supports in order to retain agency even if it means homelessness or being unemployed and otherwise dependent. Our concepts about ability/disability are extremely binary and largely harmful.

  • This started as a reply to Rebel but really is not to anyone in particular, – just my thoughts on the general subject. I rely heavily on my intuition and I’ve never seen it as conflicting with logic and reason in any way. Actually, I think it’s a perfect compliment. However, I do think most people have been conditioned not to trust their gut, not to think too hard, and instead just listen to what the people on the TV news tell them. And that even those who aren’t easily led to conspiratorial thinking still struggle to find the time to be adequately informed on a wide range of subjects when the world is as busy and complicated as it has become. And really, too many people just have zero drive to be informed about anything and are averse to hearing information that conflicts with their made up minds. They believe what they believe with little to no information. As far as I’m concerned, there is little point in engaging in serious conversation with such people as there is such an imbalance in actual information held between the two parties.

    I am deeply privileged with abundant free time and a strong intellect. I don’t know anyone other than academics and journalists who spends as many hours a day as I do reading as wide a variety of news sources as I do in order to be fully informed. Being fully informed is not necessarily holding a particular belief about a subject, it actually means knowing what different sides believe as well as what they believe their opponents believe which is often drastically different from what their opponent actually believes. I particularly enjoy identifying bias and a priori messaging that is most prevalent among nearly all American news sources. I avoid television news because video tends to be emotionally manipulative with the actual intent to sway the audience to an emotional reaction instead of thinking.

    Skepticism is absolutely healthy. Low information skepticism is usually ignorance passing for informed knowledge and such conditions aren’t conducive to reasoned debate. Intuition can lead us to new information if we listen to our gut feelings when they tell us something isn’t right and heed the call to explore the subject further. But intuition is meant to be a catalyst, not an end in and of itself.

    Knowledge or wisdom, then, becomes less about who is right or what the absolute facts are (facts are often in dispute even by historical accounts), and more about integrating collected information with life experience to decide what to believe based on what seems most plausible.

    I tend to also view what is categorized as “conspiracy” with the same process that Steve described. Is there compelling evidence for what is being presented? Sometimes there is, like the potential for a lab leak in the case of Covid. And oftentimes, whether the particular conspiracy is from the Left or the Right, it gets called that not because there isn’t any evidence for it but because it goes against mainstream messaging. It goes against what powerful political leaders want you to believe in order to garner your support for their agenda. This is why following solely left or right leaning (or even solely alternative) news is so dangerous and leads to being poorly informed but highly convinced.

    Rebel brings up good points about government secrecy and the various harms that have been perpetrated in secret. The problem is that this tends to make the low information person simply distrustful and fearful and leaves them feeling like they don’t know what or who to trust any more. I believe this is entirely intentional and that there has been a concerted effort to dumb down the population in order to create more compliant and obedient workers. I am not the first to think this way. George Carlin had me beat by decades. But it still presents difficulty in having any kind of serious debate with someone who feels overwhelmed by too much conflicting information and isn’t sure what to believe any more. The tendency to then latch on to whatever fits your biases rather than think hard about information that challenges your biases is very strong. One fact has been proven repeatedly and that is the tendency by most too immediately dismiss conflicting information in order to not feel cognitive dissonance. This is why presenting new information to people who already have a strong believe one way or the other rarely works and why playing on people’s emotions is generally much more effective. This is human nature and not really related to intelligence but it also means that humans tend to be emotionally manipulable and believe things that are untrue but that feel compelling.

    So, in terms of politics or religion or any of the other areas where folks tend to believe very strongly with positions based on faith rather than having gathered a wealth of quality information, it’s mostly not worth the effort to attempt a rigorous discussion.

    My only real complaint then become when those people present their beliefs as facts. Such as the belief that there is a Creator, that he is male and omnipotent and all loving and yet also vengeful, that he knows everything and there is a divine plan and yet humans have free will. None of it makes any sense except to those who have a need to feel like there is some grand protector out there because the idea that everything is basically random is a scary prospect, especially for those who are otherwise low information. And this is why the more educated one becomes, the less likely one is to believe in deities of any kind.

    Again, this is not really directed at anyone specific but just is my thoughts on why so many of these conversations here are largely unproductive and will likely continue to be so.

  • And as I said the last time this subject came up. The origin of the virus and whether or not it is lab escaped (a theory I have thought likely from the beginning, actually) is a different subject from 1) the usefulness of masks and, 2) the effectiveness of vaccines.

    Using the first to support not participating in the others is a straw man and demonstrating a lack of logic.

  • I think the timeline and demographics may shed more light on that.

    It appears that in places where there were strict lockdowns like the west coast and northeast, crime went down during the lockdown period and gradually began to rise in concert with the lifting of the restrictions. However, South Carolina, which didn’t have much in the way of lockdowns in comparison to those other parts of the country saw it’s biggest rise in violent crime on record apparently during 2020. So it seems plausible that there is a connection with lockdown itself, perhaps simply in terms of fewer opportunities to commit crimes of opportunity.

    As for the drugs, the suicide attempt numbers for teen girls rose significantly (50%) and it appears to coincide with the increase in antidepressant prescribing during 2020. Not that any of the mainstream media articles mention that as a possible factor.

  • The Swedish ombudsman concept speaks to me. Although I have grave concern about the potential loss of personal agency and how that type of support might make it more difficult (at least in the US) to withdraw from the psych drugs against medical advice. In essence, I can see it being a tool of forced treatment in the US. But it still is the sort of support I’ve wished I had at least at certain points along the way.

  • “ portraying the idea that enough interpersonal stress can drive anyone “crazy.” Meaning so overwhelmed by negative emotion that it becomes difficult to think straight or function.”

    Fair enough. I totally identify with “crazy” by that definition.

    I did resonate with the experience of being part a harmful friend group who participated in vilifying me while supporting my abuser. That probably has something to do with how strongly I felt reading this.

    Maybe I’ll get to catharsis some day but mostly I feel outrage and pain that nothing seems to change and these dynamics just repeat themselves with a regular fresh influx of victims who often end up psychiatrized as a result.

    Mental injury as a concept has potential and I like the implication of healing that injury suggests rather than disease or disorder which tend to imply a chronic or permanent state.

  • “My point is that the field of psychiatry needs to increase its understanding of what a normal reaction looks like.”

    We’re in total agreement on that. The damage that psychiatry did to me was primarily within my own psyche and shaping how I viewed myself. I’ve had to work very hard to contextualize my own struggles in order to heal from shame that was misplaced onto me rather than those who hurt me.

    “Disorder may be the wrong word but I think my psychological state was more serious than distress would imply.”

    That’s a fair point. And one I’ve personally grappled with for some time. ‘Distress’ totally fails to capture the severity and seriousness of my own extreme states.

    But I think the only point I was making, perhaps inelegantly, was that on a cultural level, we describe those who have been victimized as disordered but rarely are those who perpetrate psychological harm pathologized as disordered. But it is their behavior that is abnormal and antisocial and so very harmful.

    ‘Disorder’ just rubs me the wrong way and I’m a contrary sort, I suppose. 🙂

  • I wonder why you repeatedly called your own normal and expected adaptive response “disordered” while never once calling “Bill’s” abusive, manipulative and gaslighting behavior “disordered”. You went to some trouble even to suggest that he was living in consensus reality while never exploring the way men, and especially abusive men, are so often assisted in their abuse by their associates. You didn’t explore any of the power imbalances inherent to your relationship, either.

    It disturbs me when people who have been victimized portray their own responses as the disordered behavior but not the behaviors of their abusers and the abusers comrades in at least the same way.

    People who have been victimized like this are not disordered, they are expressing adaptive threat responses because of the brain’s remarkable ability to rewire itself in response to hostile environments. You, my dear, may well have been quite distressed, but you were never the disordered individual in this situation. The ability to develop increasingly reactive responses to continued threats is exactly the mechanism that helps us escape such situations. We are wired to survive predators like the “Bill’s” of the world.

    Well done. But I do hope you will eventually #dropthedisorder.

    As for the DSM, clusters of behaviors are not “symptoms” with any meaningful result. This gaslighting needs to stop for doctors to practice actual medicine for those who are sick and for psychologists to see their clients in a light other than “mentally ill”. Given all I’ve survived in 42 years, “Titanium Woman” is as apt a ‘diagnosis’ for me as anything in the DSM. A lot of diagnosed people decide not to have children but I’m glad I reproduced because toughness and grit and inner fortitude are what I’m made of and the world needs more of us, not less.

    Disordered… pfft!

  • “People don’t want quick fixes? All the Latin and South American countries whose economies are centered around selling drugs to Americans may disagree with you.”

    Are you completely blinkered to the role the US CIA has played for decades in providing guns to drug cartels south of the border in exchange for their flooding poor (black and brown) communities with drugs? Are you totally ignorant of the role US sanctions have played in destabilizing Latin American countries’ economies so that those same cartels remain so powerful? Do you not understand why we continue to have wave after wave of immigrant caravans walking thousands of miles on foot in search of a better life in America because our own government purposefully keeps these countries at perpetual internal war with such horrific conditions that it’s safer to risk such a journey for the prospect of working menial jobs below minimum wage here in America than it is to risk their lives staying in their homeland? Are you aware of how all these policies and flooding our streets with drugs have enriched the prison-industrial complex at the expense of Black and brown communities? Are you aware that slavery still exists in the US and that many large private corporations benefit from prison labor from those who have gotten caught up in the drug war?

    Do you know that it is all deliberate?

    You did your residency at Cornell – an Ivy League school. Why don’t you spend more time picking on people your own size, like your fellow Ivy League trained doctors? Your statements are amounting to ignorant and privileged bullying of matters you probably won’t ever understand because you’ve never had to.

  • How did people do all this before we destroyed the economic system? Before we destroyed the environment? Before we destroyed the social institutions that communities relied upon for eons to sustain themselves?

    Dr K, did you know that Lyme Disease did not become an epidemic until after the US government deliberately weaponized it in a lab in the 60s for war against Cuba and accidentally let it escape? And then the medical establishment and federal government (CDC) spent decades demonizing it’s victims as “Lyme loonies”? Did you know that the test for Lyme deliberately excludes the bands that are most known to cause neuro-Lyme symptoms that get misdiagnosed routinely as psychiatric disorders? This has been going on for decades and is only slowly changing because you can’t deny the truth with half a million new cases a year sending a wrecking ball through communities.

    Makes Covid seem like child’s play in comparison. It’s only because Covid devastated all at once that it couldn’t be ignored the way Lyme has been.

    You get the same response to all of your blogs here because you are so intent on not seeing the systemic and cultural factors that influence people’s lives and treat them all as if they started with the same circumstances and abilities and just chose not to think for themselves. Your continued victim blaming at this point is willful. These factors have been explained to you over and over and yet you are willing to die on this hill for some seemingly inexplicable reason.

    Try harder, Dr K. I have seen glimpses of empathy in your writings.

  • Richard, I just want to point out that the term ‘Libertarian’ in the US has been fully co-opted by a hard right-wing, extremely authoritarian faction of former Republicans who are entirely unconcerned with the fate of their fellow humans and largely want freedumb for corporations to pillage and destroy at will.

    Left Libertarianism, which is where I fall politically, and where my political heros like Chomsky and Cornell West are on the political compass, is not even remotely the same.

  • Kevin, that’s an interesting explanation. I don’t think of my young self as having been brainwashed and my older self as being “woke” in any sense. I rather think of my younger self as having been set adrift with no idea what the rules of survival were, no sense of who to trust or even how to figure out how to meet my own needs.

    But 2021, come this November, it’ll be 20 years since I went to my doctor with what could have been understood as a systemic infection and properly treated and was instead labeled as “fibromyalgia” and had a handful of drugs thrown at me. And I simply didn’t have the life experience and maturity needed to question my doctor’s expertise. I had what amounted to somewhere between fifth and eighth grade education, had been a 15 year old mom and twice married (from the age of 16) with no family looking out for my interests. I have not woken up. I have spent the last twenty years raising myself, educating myself and learning to love and care for me as if I were my own child.

    Now, with most of my growing pains behind me, even with greatly reduced health, the difference between then and now is a little like the difference between not knowing what you’re searching for and knowing right away what terms to use in the Google search box to find the information you need. Things take minutes instead of hours. I have clarity where there was fog.

    I think a lot of times young people who are struggling, especially in this era, are assumed to have a whole lot more agency than they actually have simply because we forget all that we once didn’t know and assume everyone is walking around with not just the same knowledge base but the same ability to gain new knowledge.

    I think this remains Dr K’s fatal flaw in his thinking about people turning to medical authorities as if they should know better or are thinking for themselves.

    I’ve always loved the quote “Teach the young people how to think, not what to think.” It gets attributed to half a dozen different people in different wording but it remains the same concept. When we teach people how to think, they have a tool they can use to protect themselves throughout their lives. But our culture is extremely focused on teaching kids what to think while often punishing creative original thinkers and crushing their spirits and ultimately their potential.

    I am not the scared poorly educated victimized young woman I was twenty years ago sitting in that doctor’s office trusting that the diagnosis and drugs I was being given were appropriate and would make me better. Sometimes I am still angry for my younger self but more often I mourn for all the young girls and boys like her who have lost their way and are fighting to survive in such an unforgiving world as the one we live in now. An adult world they are wholly inadequately prepared for and where they will be mercilessly judged by experts and other authorities instead of understood, educated and empowered.

  • What a delightfully simplistic dichotomy. It’s totally divorced from any kind of nuanced take that would include the possibility of actual illness. It sets up opposing positions that depression is either due to social factors or lack of individual agency, while ignoring myriad other factors such as actual physical health status, drugs a person is already taking, intellect, educational attainment, available time to research alternative approaches, individual values, maturity level, desire vs ability to obtain helpful supports, generational values, etc.

    Addressing social determinants of health and changing individual attitudes about agency are just two of many factors that influence psychosocial functioning in individuals and in communities. These are living dynamic processes all interacting and influencing each other. It’s not an either/or but more like an and.