Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Comments by Seth Farber, PhD

Showing 428 of 428 comments.

  • This is a serious discussion,Jolly, and such a broad generalization as you make is foolish, if not stupid–and it is not at all what Michael and others are saying. The point is that the disease model, the mental illness model, is harmful–and stupid.Not ALL psychotherapy is harmful. Not all therapists “prey” on others.What does that mean anyway?:How do they “prey? on their clients???
    Please note Michael IS- a therapist and he wrote,”The very brave dissident psychiatrists that I’ve personally known such as Loren Mosher, Peter Breggin, Daniel Fisher and John Weir Perry all paid dearly for breaking ranks with their fellow psychiatrists. They were ostracized as class traitors, were marginalized and mocked for their humane approaches to helping people.”
    Michael’s premise is there are humane forms of therapy.
    We might agree on this point–there are risks involved in therapy because the therapist (usually) becomes financially dependent on her clients.

  • Wow. That is quite an ambitious book.

    Psychiatrists are very dangerous. Thomas Szasz once said that on the door of every psych ward and every drug-pushing psychiatrist’s office there should be a sign–like the one Dante had emblazoned over the entrance to hell–that read:”Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Without that warning there can be no informed consent.

    It’s not surprising the psychiatrists did nothing to save you from the drugs..But the naturopaths, psychotherapists, craniosacral therapists?
    Were they too brainwashed by Psychiatry to help?

  • BigPicture,
    I happened to see this–there have been so many I stopped reading them all.
    “Homo-normalis-rationalis” is very good term–from Maslow? I like “normates” also.
    I got my PhD from CIIS in 1984. Like many students I did a “phenomenological” dissertation.
    However I got my Masters at the New School, and I worked in the mental health system.
    I agree with you. It’s worse today, but even then education (including internships) consisted in an indoctrination into a reductionist misanthropic determinist view suppressive of human potentiality.(In those days it was mostly Freudian) But I soon became an apostate. The books I wrote were strongly influenced by Laing first, then Szasz–and everything I wrote was informed by the big picture in my mind formed by my “spiritual” experiences and readings in grand thinkers, particularly Sri Aurobindo.
    I do not think words are completely inadequate–they can convey some sense of experiences beyond the realm of the senses.

  • Amnesia,
    That is a very poignant, well written very moving horror story. Thank you for telling it. I hope you will write it up for Mad in America. Fortunately you made a “spontaneous recovery”’ from every “disorder” with which they claimed you were afflicted. But unfortunately you still suffer from the effects of your treatment. It’s not clear if you’re still with your husband but it seems your marriage survived the assault on you by psychiatry. They often do not–your husband deserves credit.

    Amnesia, yours is a cautionary tale because until you decided to withdraw from the drugs it seems you had complete trust in your psychiatrist. You trusted his authority and you assumed he had your best interests at heart–until he resorted to coercion. If you had any doubts you do not express them above. In fact if you write this up I think you should be more explicit about this–at some point your trust in him turned to an awareness that he had betrayed you. At some point you realized–either gradually or suddenly, or both–that this man in whom you placed all your trust was not helping you and did not have your best interests at heart. But until you came to this realization you were a victim of his brand of psychiatric insanity This is an important part of the story that I think you should include if you submit it to MIA.

    It is misplaced trust that leads so many Americans to become victims of the mental health system, of psychiatric drug pushers. If Americans stopped trusting psychiatrists they could avoid the harm that is currently inflicted on them. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to find genuine support from “mental health” professionals–or anywhere. Instead in the name of mental health the mental health professions offer a variety of “medical treatments” that are harmful, debilitating and brain-damaging. If these don’t make the patient “better” more brutal treatments are used– in the 20th century psychiatry decided that the cure for “mental illness” consists in various assaults on the brain

    The goal of this system is not to provide support but to make money for the mental health professionals and their partners in the pharmaceutical industry. But if the patient does not “improve” the shock doctors are brought in–this is pure sadism unconsciously intended to torture
    and injure the patient for committing the crime of not getting “better.”

  • Ron
    Why are they not morally responsible for the consequences of the policy they implement? ( Of course they are not legally responsible. No one is.)
    Dr Joseph Biederman takes over a million dollars from Johnson and Johnson and assures them his experiment will make their “anti-psychotic” look good. He is still teaching at Harvard. Biederman invents a new disease: pediatric bipolar disorder. 100s of thousands of children who previously would have been seen as restless are now placed on toxic drugs—and have their lives ruined. Biederman is not responsible? And the APA which does not punish him for taking money–a bribe– to fudge results of experiment–they are not responsible? And Harvard which knows about this bribe and does nothing Thy are not responsible?
    Psychiatric knows about tardive dyskinesia. In 1994 the APA published Task Force report. They know most people taking neuroleptics for years will get TD—yet they continue to push neuroleptics as treatment of choice. A few years ago Bob Whitaker showed that most of the people taking neuroleptics are harmed without any benefit.
    Yet APA ignores the evidence and its president calls Bob “a menace to society.” They are not responsible for the effects of the drugs they continue to push? This goes on and on..
    No one is responsible for the consequences of destructive social policies–even when the evidence was obvious?

  • I am not talking about what you said Arjuna. Of course you did not say schizophrenics were predestined to damnation I am talking about the history, the psychic resonances, behind the distinctions you make. Of course you did not say what I said–I was explicating the deep structures beneath the surface grammar, to use an analogy. You don’t know the history.

    For centuries the mad–“schizophrenics” as we call them in most of the 20th century–were regarded as irreparably damaged, and beyond repair. They were supposedly incapable of having intimate relationships. Thus the Freudians were silent when 50,000 of them in US were lobotomized in the 1950s.

    R D Laing and the counter-culture revolutionized(at least among a subset of intellectuals and therapists) the way “schizophrenics” haD been viewed since the birth of the asylum (see Foucault)–as the ultimate Other. Yet among psychiatrists they remained the Other–the sacred symbol of Psychiatry, to quote Szasz

    Grof was influenced by the counter-cultural changes and in some respects was a leader. But he continued to perpetuate the stereotype of the “schizophrenic”–but he opened the cage. Some among the mad were not really psychotic. They were ON a journey and could be guided back. But the rest were irreparable, and had to be left to the ministrations of the psychiatric soul killers Grof still depends upon this spurious distinction. They had to continue to take the brain damaging “medication” that des5troyed their brains.

    Arjuna read what Bob Whitaker has written about the “medication.” Reade DR Peter Breggin.
    I have to run–for now.

  • No I do not accept this distinction, Arjuna. To me this is a secular version of the Augustinian idea of original sin and predestination. Psychiatry has always claimed–and the Freudians first provided a quasi-theological rationale for this–that it could tell who were saved and who were predestined to eternal torment. The great unwashed masses, particularly “psychotics” and “personality disorders”(the door was open a bit for the latter by Kohut and others in post 1960s era) could never recover. They were supposed damaged irreparably by trauma in “oral” phase of childhood/infancy.

    Grof comes from a Freudian background–as I did until I became an apostate in my last years of grad school–so this distinction is very much in his unconscious. In my own books and essays I have critiqued the psychoanalytic theology. Grof never did–and although It has lost its spiritual resonances these distinctions continue in the now dominant bio-psychiatry. Michael is old enough to remember well the disdain and contempt with which the mad were treated when the field was still psychoanalytic. Even among Jungians Perry was a black sheep FOR breaking wiTH party dogma,

    So I do not believe that there is a group of persons who have lost the capacity to exercise free will, and others who are not. Yes some people turn out to be to be more addictive than others. But we cannot identify them in advance. That is the not the vocation of the therapist in a world in which therapeutic expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies.

    The transpersonal psychology movement is itself at fault for abandoning those persons most brutally treated by the psychiatric priesthood. THey could have followed in the footsteps of Laing and Perry but by and large they did not. Grof’s compromise did not go far enough.

    I DON’T have time NOW to elaborate…

  • Hi Michael
    I see your response on email but I don’t find it here. Anyway you write “John saw how Diabasis like Agnew’s and Iward and Soteria,(not Laing’s Kingsley Hall) could divert 60-70 percent of first breaks from being in the system if they went through madness without meds in a loving setting.”

    In his books Trials of the Visionary Mind, I believe he claimed 90%. But still I always wondered about the other 10%.(Same thing with Soteria.) Perry did not say in his books why or who. So it’s interesting and encouraging to read your account and experience here.
    I have to say Perry did not fall prey to type of elitist view that characterized many in TP community–partly because of Freudian influence. Thus he opened up Diabasis to all first breaks.

    Besides Perry and Laing, Anton Boisen ought to get credit: He shows very persuasively that the “hospital patients” and the great spiritual leaders (St Paul, George Fox) were going through an identical experience. He does not take the next step because he assumes the patient has constitutional limits, just as Perry did. But I found the implications to be tantalizing.

  • Arjuna3, I went to CIIS also–before you, before Tarnas, 1980-4.
    Yes this is very true–R D Laing was the first to make this point..
    But too often transpersonalists assume that there is a small subset of “schizophrenics” who are going through a “spiritual emergence.” Grof even at times seemed to imply that standard psychiatric treatment is fine for the real schizophrenic. Wilber in those days was even more conventional drawing a red line between the pathological pre-personal(the “schizophrenic”) and the transpersonal

    I don’t think John Weir Perry, Michael’s mentor, ever made those distinctions.Nor does Michael. Nor does my friend and former classmate Stuart Sovatsky. Is there any “psychotic episode” –breakdown– that does not present an opportunity for a spiritual breakthrough?

  • Since when does exercising my right to free speech–and my obligation as a citizen and a psychotherapist (with 30 years experience) to help my fellow man and give my best advice—-make me a criminal?? Besides I was just drawing the conclusion from mepat’s own statements–that what helped him was love, sex and the encouragement of his psychiatrist. (I believe the drugs created a placebo effect due to his trust in his shrink.) Do not lecture me, “registeredforthissite.”

    The fact is I have faith in mepat’s capacity to meet the challenges of life. I would wager you have more faith in psychiatry. Every book Thomas Szasz ever wrote said in effect to readers:”You do not need psychiatry.” Every book by Peter Breggin said to readers: “You do not need psychiatric drugs”(and he did add warning to get off them gradually). Every book by Laing said to “psychotics”:”You are smarter than the shrinks.”

    “a choice the person must make for themselves” So that means it is criminal for me to express my opinion??. Do you realize how many people must have told poor mepat he needed the drugs and could not function without them?? And yet when I– one person– give an alternative opinion you claim that the very expression of my opinion deprives mepat of the right to choose for himself. In the name of liberty and choice you try to suppress choice and intimidate me into not expressing my alternative opinion. That is the purpose of this website–to counter the incessant psychiatric propaganda.

    It is the expression of “controversial” opinions and views that make this an exciting and important website. Thank God, there is nothing illegal about that.

  • Very good piece, Michael
    “The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.”

    I did not realize the story ended like that! Yes interesting-“The procession has got to go on.” No matter
    what the cost.
    Look at all that could be lost– the country houses, the swimming pools,private schools for kids, vacations paid for by the drug companies, the prestige of the medical specialist, the power, the billions for the drug companies… Does it matter that they,once idealists (probably), are no longer helping people? That they are doing great harm?
    The truth is not highly valued in modern society.
    “The vast majority of psychiatrists are bullshitters, uncommitted to either facts or fiction…It is not in the bullshitters’ interest to know what is true and what is false, as that knowledge of what is a fact and what is fiction hinders the capacity to use any and all powerful persuasion..” (See Bruce Levine, “Psychiatry’s Current Greatest Controversy: Fraud, Bullsh*t or What? at Mad in America)
    They don’t like lying–they would prefer not to know the truth.

  • Oldhead,
    I think the difference is — Richard conveys it aptly–is that in the 1980s the drug industry rather than the guild became the dominant influence. But the guild influence was always there and it requires using pseudo-medical treatments on “psychotics.”

    Remember in 19th century psychiatrists were managers and custodians of lunatic asylums. In order to win out over lay competition they had to appear as much like doctors as possible. In 19th century medical treatment entailed attacks on the body, whereas in 20th–as Breggin noted–it entailed direct assaults on the brain of “psychotics.”

    There were major differences after big pharm took over–you could say they were merely “quantitative” but that doesn’t make them less radical. The number of people subjected to Psychiatry is vast today as compared to the 1950s, as Bob documented in AE.

    Guild interests required shrinks pose as doctors from the start, and their attitude towards psychotics has always been disdainful and punitive–their “treatments” have always been destructive. But their influence was relatively limited. Now their influence on society is extensive and ever-increasing.

  • Hi Sandra, You write, “I have come to wonder if there is something in addition to guild pressure and Pharma influence – something inherent in the nature of clinical decision making – that creates a cognitive distortion for the physician.” I wonder what the relevance this would have. Since guild and pharma influences are so powerful and virtually ubiquitous (albeit not necessarily consciously experienced), when would this putative clinical factor even come into play? The former two influences coopted many idealistic therapists–products of the countercultural 60s– during the threshold of development of psych-pharmaceutical complex in late 1970s and 80s. (Bonnie Burstow discusses the transformation of the few idealistic young professionals into drug pushing social control agents–and their eventual apostacy.)

    On the other hand it does not seem as if the clinical factor you hypothesize adversely influenced many of those who worked at programs such as Open Dialogue or Soteria–they resisted whatever impulse they may have felt to resort to encouraging neuroleptics.

  • Yes I agree entirely but you omitted to mention psychiatrists role as junior partners of the pharmaceutical industry which makes billions on these life-long customers. And noew psychiatrists are expanding the market for neuroleptics to include infants.
    It’s not just psychiatrists anymore–all(including other “mental health” professionals) are part of psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex, which is as intractable as MIC.

  • Susan
    Opioids?: The government and medical establishment are trying to prevent even people with chronic pain from getting opioids, even though only a tiny percentage of opioid addicts got them from doctors. (Ironically NSAIDs like ibuprofen are much more harmful.)
    I think opioids make people feel too good–so the establishment doesn’t like them. They probably would be helpful for many people in a state of panic, as would benzodiazapines, but apart from financial factors, “anti-psychotics” are –like “schizophrenia” itself– a sacred symbol of psychiatry–they are integral part of metanarrative about “psychosis.”
    But my point is dissident professionals should not wait for their “patients” to weigh “the pros and cons” of neuroleptics–of a chemical lobotomy–, as some dissidents have advised here at MIA. They should act with authority as mainstream doctors do, and are expected to do, and tell their patients on the basis of experience and familiarity with the “science”,”I would advise you not to take anti-psychotics–particularly on long term basis because…”
    In a humane society they would have been phased them out of existence. As you say there are many positive alternatives…

  • Thanks for the new essay Bob. I did not read all of the responses so i hope this is not redundant.I feel compelled to address a controversial issue- I brought up in response to other critics of the dominant paradigm–to Jonanna Moncrieff and Dr Larrsen-Barr. In your response to Allen Frances you wrote, “I think science is telling us that antipsychotics, on the whole, worsen long-term outcomes, even when prescribed for ‘clear cut psychiatric disorders,’ and thus, if psychiatry wants to develop evidence-based protocols, it needs to figure out how to minimize their long-term use. ”

    Some of the dissidents have been seduced by the prospect of “a middle way”–as if it is Buddhistic. You described the mildly dissident Frances ‘credo, “Prescribe them to the right patients, because for these patients the drugs can be life-saving, but curb the overuse and polypharmacy that can prove harmful to so many, particularly for those who have ordinary problems, as opposed to real psychiatric disorders. As you can see in his blog, he also sees this middle way as informed by his own clinical experience.”

    And you continue” But, here’s the rub: the “middle way” he describes is not an evidence-based practice. It is not a practice that is informed by science that tells of drugs that induce a dopamine supersensitivity, which may increase the biological vulnerability to psychosis; or of science that tells of drugs that shrink the brain, with this shrinkage associated with worse negative symptoms and functional impairment; or of animal research that tells of why antipsychotics fail over time; or of science that tells of much higher recovery rates over the long term for unmedicated patients. Those are drug effects that are not immediately visible to the clinician, but rather are made known through the illuminating powers of science, and they pertain to those with “clear cut psychiatric disorders” too.”

    Now some of the most well known dissidents in the field seem to think that there is a more reasonable patient-centered alternative to discouraging long-term use of neuroleptics. There are a number of reasons why this is not true. Let me mention two. Even if there were some patients for whom long term use of anti-psychotics were optimal, we would not be able to identify them in advance.

    As you say the drug effects of long term use cannot be known in advance, they “are not immediately visible to the clinician.” Nor are they visible to the patient. Some clinicians think that these effects are visible to patients –if mental health professionals only ask the right questions over and over ostensibly a group of neuroleptic- responders will gradually emerge. Dr Moncrieff writes, “Psychiatrists need to support people to evaluate the pros and cons of antipsychotic treatment FOR THEMSELVES [my emphasis] and to keep doing this as they progress through different stages of their problems.” I think the effect will be that more patients’ lives will be ruined by the drugs. I will grant for arguments sake that a few genuine responders to long term use will be identified. Still we will increase the false -positives and overall do more damage. Let us remember –as Moncrieff notes–that even those genuine responders are not invulnerable to tardive dyskinesia, diabetes, akathasia, brain damage, tardive psychosis etc

    Second, I do not believe there are genuine responders to long term use of neuroleptics. There are responders to the placebo and the nocebo effects which are confounded with the positive reinforcement given to compliant patients; thus the compliant patient’s satisfaction grows with the approval of her psychiatrist–and therapist and families and friends all of whom say “Take your meds”‘ These are the ALLEGED long term responders to anti-psychotics–but they pay a high price for this social approval.,Psychiatry’s approval is conditional on patients’ compliance with the anti-psychotic regimen.

    You have said Bob that psychiatiy should commit itself to minimizing long term use of neuroleptics.
    To me this translates into a moral obligation for clinicians–particularly psychiatrists–to say to their patients,”I encourage you not to take anti-pychotics on a long term basis. I think you can do it.” And we need to realize that one cannot take a “neutral” position– as if the patient can make a decision that is itself pure, free of social influence. Thus relieving the clinician of the responsibility to take a stand. I think the idea of socially unbiased pure decision of the patient is the illusion that informs the position of otherwise strong dissidents like Joanna Moncrieff.Considering the enormous social pressures on patients to take drugs it is particularly incumbent on dissidents to say to patients, “I am confident that you will do well without needing those brain-damaging drugs.’

  • Hi JanCarol
    This is a powerful letter. I quoted it–most of it–in my response to Joanna Moncrieff’ s article in this issue of this blog–see “front page” here.. I was surprised that Joanna defended long term use of “anti-psychotics” for “some” people–in an article that cogently argued neuroleptics caused brain-damage. My response to that is like yours. The psychiatrist/therapist cannot be impartial. She either encourages or discourages dependence on harmful drugs that have NO value in long-term treatment.(Actually UI don’t think neuroleptics should be used at all)
    [email protected]

  • Joanna, Excellent article but there is a fly in the ointment. I appreciate your immense contribution to the “counter-narrative” as Robert Whitaker calls it. As you make clear, contrary to the conventional narrative the evidence undermines the claim that “schizophrenia” is a progressive brain disease, and confirms the proposition that anti-psychotics cause brain damage. This would be no surprise to the psychiatrists who promoted these drugs in the 1950s, often praising Thorazine as a “chemical lobotomy.” Nor would be a surprise to Peter Breggin MD who argued in the early 1980s that the “therapeutic effect” of neuroleptics was a product of brain damage.

    However I must strongly object as have others have here to your statements in your last paragraph, “I still think antipsychotics can be useful, and that the benefits of treatment can sometimes outweigh the disadvantages, even in the long-term for some people.. Psychiatrists need to support people to evaluate the pros and cons of antipsychotic treatment for themselves and to keep doing this as they progress through different stages of their problems.” I also objected to Dr Larssen-Barr’s similar statement, but in her response to me (online, here) she back-pedaled and said she did not recommend long term use of of anti-psychotics.

    There are a lot of problems with this agnostic, seemingly libertarian, position. But let me ask you first: Where do you draw the line? I am sure there are patients in the 1950s who would have told you they benefited from lobotomies. Did the benefits of lobotomies outweigh the disadvantages FOR SOME PEOPLE? Should dissidents professionals have taken a wait-and see approach?(Virtually no one opposed lobotomies) Of course LONG TERM use of neuroleptics–the topic in dispute– like lobotomies produce irreversible effects.

    Although you post on the blog started by Robert Whitaker you seem to be unfamiliar with his essays on anti-psychotics. First of all, I think Bob shows there is far more evidence than you indicate about the effects of “anti-psychotics” and the advantages of avoiding long term use. He discusses that evidence and its cumulative weight in many of his articles. You repeat the same canard about the Harrow study made by Frances, Pies, Torrey et al and others which Whitaker has repeatedly refuted, along with the charge that he doesn’t understand “science.”

    It demonstrates more than a correlation. Patients who got off the drugs did so not because
    their symptoms were less severe (they were not) and thus they decided with their psychiatrists to get off the drugs (as Pies claimed) but because they were “non-compliant patients.” But the Harrow study is one of many indicating–along with Bachoven, WHO, Wunderink,Open Dialogue, to mentioin a few– that patients in general do far better without neuroleptics.

    This led Whitaker to finally courageously conclude:
    “I think the scientific literature argues for using antipsychotic medications in a selective manner that seeks to minimize their long-term use….But if psychiatry is going to be “evidence-based” in its practices, and if it is going to put the interests of its patients first, then I believe it has a duty to develop selective-use protocols, which seek to minimize long-term use of antipsychotics (and other psychiatric medications). I also believe that our society should provide the resources to enable this rethinking of the drugs.”

    The moral obligation of the mental health professions to seek to minimize
    the long term use of anti-psychotics has become a meme repeated throughout Whitaker’s writings. I think it is because Bob takes this position, particularly courageous for an outsider–he is a journalist, not a mental health professional nor an MD— that he is such an irritant to people like Jeffrey Lieberman, former APA President, who called him a “menace to society.” I think all dissidents professionals should follow Whitaker in taking up this position. This puts the responsibility where it should lie–not on patients, but on psychiatrists and on society.

    Your wait and see approach is problematic for a number of reasons. I presume you agree that on the whole the costs of neuroleptics outweigh the benefits. You imply there is a small group for whom the reverse is true. These poor souls are so bad off –so severely afflicted by so called “schizophrenia ” –that the suffering the effects of brain damage (high likelihood, with varying effects) and/or tardive dyskinesia(very high incidence), diabetes,metabolic disorders,impotence, obesity, 15-20 years decrease in life span etc etc are outweighed by the benefits. That is, you claim that without neuroleptics these persons would be far worse–the same claim psychiatry makes when they are honest about the adverse effects of the drugs.

    But we have no way of knowing in advance, Joanna how to identify these alleged benefitters. (It is not true that they are the ones with most severe symptoms initially). Thus in order to minimize harm we have to discourage long term use. Of course even if there were a number of psychiatrists who discouraged long term use (there are practically none in the US) there would still be patients who would take the drugs. (I am noit advocating making them illegal.)

    I don’t believe these drugs are beneficial for anyone.There are certainly patients who claim they are benefitting, but how can you exclude the placebo effect? How can you exclude the nocebo effect–these poor patients have been terrified by doctors and authorities and parents and the media and NAMI into believing that “the meds” are their only life line to sanity, their only protection against a life time of torment by “mental illness,” by all the most horrific specters of their imagination. And they have been told by the doctors they trust–unlike the persons who read subversive blogs like this, the average person trusts her doctor– that if they take their medication they can hang on to sanity, avoid rehospitalization, quiet the demons in their mind. And everyone they know says “Take your meds.” If you think I exaggerate, re-read Kate Millett’s The Loony Bin Trip to see how her radical lesbian feminist artist friends handled Kate’s “mental illness.”

    Please read the story told by Jan Carol in response to Dr Larrsen-Barr
    I am going to quote the first few paragraphs. But let me say in closing some more positive words(qualified by the awareness that hope itself sadly can only be offered by the few dissidents since the psychiatric-pharmaceutical complex is unassailable)– the placebo effect is so powerful, and the therapeutic effects of social support are so potent, that I do not think it would be difficult to help patients cope without long term use of neuroleptics, unless they are already addicted. But it is professionals’ responsibility to give patients the reassurance they need that they can cope without neuroleptics (the worst of any of the drugs available, and thus in a class by themselves)–and not create more generations addicted to brain-disabling “anti-psychotics.”

    Jan Carol writes:
    ” I have a dear friend who is being killed by the drugs. She has metabolic disorder, her endocrine is shutting down (Hashimotos, adrenal fatigue), has been diagnosed with TBI, suffers huge cognitive deficits, and her opportunities and options are cascading into collapse. She has been on Seroquel for at least 20 years, and various cocktails. Her current cocktail includes 5 drugs.

    If you talk to her, she will express gratitude that she does not have intrusive delusions, that her behaviour is under control, and she is thankful for the benzo that can put her anxiety on hold for awhile, and grateful for the Z drug that helps her sleep.

    But if you get to know her, and see the 30 point IQ loss, the chronic motor dysfunctions (shaking, jerks), the thyroid difficulties, the inability to address her situation or her problems with anything more than “whatever,” and see the constant drive to suicide, self harm – you will think: this is not a well person.

    BUT HER DOCTORS AREN’T GOING THERE. They just treat her, “business as usual.”….

    That’s the difference between knowing and understanding. She hears me talk about the harm of the drugs – but is so terrified (and conditioned to be so by the drugs) and has suffered akathisia, TD and cognitive decline for at least 20 years. How could she possibly go through this to a life of freedom from the drugs?

    Where are the people to help her do this while she is worried about having enough food to eat, or how to pay her bills? This is clearly the result of long term neuroleptic and benzo use – but – how do you save her from what is killing her, when she believes so firmly that she “needs” it?…
    The drugs cause more harm than good. Especially when you take the long term view into the equation.”

    Seth Farber,Ph.D.

  • I cannot tell from your abstract how long beyond a year the discontinuers had gone. But the most impressive studies in Whitaker’s review lead one to expect positive results(measured behaviorally) from discontinuing would not show up before two years at the earliest.

    I wonder whether you take fully into account the pressures on patients to stay on drugs and the social isolation that can result from getting off. You do state you assess social support–but this can be subtle. For example if they are living with family members(parents or partners) who
    invalidate them or withhold support.

    I suppose in America there is a larger patients’ rights movement than there was 20 years ago and there is Internet–but still I think most people are unaware of alternatives. So their family members are not likely to support them getting off their “meds.” If there was more support it would be easier for discontinuers.

    I do not get the impression from your abstract that you fully take all the relevant factors into account–but the abstract may not give a full picture. “Few people reported being well-informed of the potential benefits and risks. .. Most experienced both benefits and adverse effects. Most (79%) had contemplated stopping AMs, and 73% reported making at least one attempt, with variable preparations, methods and outcomes described. ” The first sentence has to be an understatement. Here in US i think virtually all psychotics are told by their shrinks that it is very dangerous and harmful to go off their “meds.” So they are not warned if they do try they should do it gradually. I imagine it is about the same in NZ. Considering these pressures, it is amazing that a full 73% try to get off drugs–thus defying I would guess their shrinks.

    You imply in your article that for some people it is true that the benefits outweigh the long term costs. I do not believe it. As you also say,”Nor was the possibility that unmeasured psycho-social factors might account for the variation in outcomes these studies observed.” My theory–conviction–is that in every case like this there are these psycho-social factors attendant on the use of “medication”–and that is these factors–including placebo and nocebo– that account for the apparent long term benefits. Of course even if there were a tiny group of genuine benefitters, there would be no justification for long term use of the drug because there is no way to identify members of this group in advance. But with education and social support we could get the benefitters
    off the “meds” so they don’t have to pay the costs.

    Of course this is impossible in a mental health system controlled by the drug industry where all patients are pressured and forced to take drugs that cause a chemical lobotomy. THose who resist are labeled non-compliant and subjected to forced drugging under State orders.

    “Since quality of life is associated with coping and social support, treatment systems cannot rely solely on medication to produce positive outcomes for those who take AMs. “

  • Well I’m pleased to see, Doctor, that you changed your position about the protocol that should govern prescription of anti-psychotic drugs.
    You had written”The only way to determine whether the benefits are outweighing the costs is to ask the individual experiencing them, and to keep asking over time. A quantitative meta-analysis cannot give us the answer.”
    But we do have enough information, enough evidence, now to infer that for “psychotics” as whole the costs of long-term use far outweigh the benefits, which you apparently recognize upon reflection because you now write,”While this blog doesn’t speak to how I think antipsychotics should be used, I would say rarely, other things tried first, full info shared (multiple times given what can be happening at first prescription), very short-term, proper monitoring to reduce and withdraw as soon as possible given all of the well-proven adverse effects, mortality rates etc that come with long-term use; much like the Finnish model. .”
    It is important that we take that position now because as Steve McCrea succinctly put it,”there is no objective way to even approach determining who the “right patients” are except by giving them the drugs and seeing what happens.” That is even if we assume there are some individuals for whom the benefits outweigh the cost–an assumption I do NOT accept– we have no way of knowing whom they are without subjecting many more individuals to these gargantuan costs.
    I agree with your argument (as I interpret it) which you make very persuasively that phenomenological inquiry greatly adds to our knowledge base, and our understanding. And that it also can be valuable as a tool for conveying information. But still the evidence we have –and it includes many autobiographical accounts–leads inexorably to the conclusion that the costs of long term use outweigh the benefits.
    I personally cannot see any one would lose if long term use were phased out entirely–except the drug industry and greedy shrinks. Yes I know there are people who claim they benefited. But I submit that these are individuals who trust the mental health system–and thus were beneficiaries of the placebo effect–and are largely unaware of all the costs. I’m sure there were many patients who believed they benefited from lobotomies.
    Hopefully your research can help elucidate WHY patients feel they benefit from long-term neuroleptic usage, i.e. chemical lobotomies. I hope you will
    explore with them their feelings about their psychiatrists and about the mental health system as a whole. Also that you will explore how taking the “anti-psychotics” influenced their relationships with their psychiatrists AND all their family members. If you ask the right questions you will be able to test my theory, my conviction, that the positive effects of anti-psychotics have nothing to do with the intrinsic (“therapeutic”) properties of the drug (at least not beyond the “side effects” convincing them it’s a powerful “medication”) and everything to do with the psychological(including the interpersonal) effects of taking their “medication.”
    Since you did not mention any questions along these lines, I hope you will consider adding such question to your inquiry. I agree it will tell us a lot more than we could learn by more conventional kinds of research. (Yes I know the converse is true–that those who have adverse effects are likely to be persons who are critical of the society in which we live–and thus less trustful of doctors.) And I look forward to learning the results. .

  • I strongly disagree with your conclusion, Dr Larsen-Barr–on scientific and ethical grounds. Although you do not mention Robert Whitaker’s name– he created this blog– your conclusion directly contradicts the implications of Bob’s surveys, and of the explicit conclusion he has drawn from them.. Dr Peter Breggin’s position is I think(I have not read him in a few years) at least as radical (compared to current practice) as Whitaker’s. You seem to be taking the Allen Frances’ position, what Frances calls “the middle way.”

    But the merit of your epistemological considerations do not abrogate the weight of the evidence–evidence of brain damage– indicating, as Whitaker has urged, the immediate necessity on humanitarian and ethical grounds of stopping and discouraging long term use of ‘anti-psychotic” drugs for all patients! (It is indicated also by Matt Stevensen above, but for some reason he seems to overlooked your conclusion.)

    You write,”The only way to determine whether the benefits are outweighing the costs is to ask the individual experiencing them, and to keep asking over time. ” No! This is a cop-out, superficially libertarian! Bob’s conclusion is not premature. If anything it is belated. Psychiatrists said quite bluntly when neuroleptics were first introduced in the mid-1950s that they produced a “chemical lobotomy.” Over and over this was said in the 1950s–in praise of the new drugs! We have long known about the ravages of tardive dyskinesia–even acknowledged by the APA in its mid-90s Task Force report. We know now about other iatrogenic effects of neuroleptics–thanks to Whitaker and Breggin.

    Your conclusion sounds fair and even libertarian —and obviously some in patients rights’ movement will applaud this position–but you are not doing patients any favor. The majority of patients are NOT well informed–unlike the psychiatric survivors who post on this blog. There is no informed consent. They are not informed about the risks of neuroleptics, the inevitable harm, and like most people they trust their “doctors”–the authorities. The information most of them will have will be given to them by liars and drug-pushers like Jeffrey Lieberman, former APA President–the same Lieberman you criticize. Patients who trust their doctors will claim the drugs help them (we know the power of the placebo effect) –but their satisfaction will not prevent them from experiencing the longer term effects of brain-damage, and the longer- term symptoms of complete social and vocational impairment.

    The small group of dissidents who post here cannot prevent the mental health colossus from continuing to push neuroleptics. But we can do our best to warn clients and advocate against anything other than very brief use of these drugs. (Other drugs are less toxic. and less discomforting.)

    Must we sit by and/or interview clients about whether they like the brain-damaging toxins their trusted doctors assure them are necessary for their recovery while another generation of patients’ lives– the lives of so called “psychotics”(and even infants now, allegedly at risk for psychosis)— are destroyed? Do we need yet another generation of guinea pigs before we admit that neuroleptics ruins lives? Whether you know it or not this is what you are advocating, Dr Larsen-Barr.

    Lieberman undertook this survey in an attempt to undermine the conclusions of Bob Whitaker whom he called on the radio a couple years ago ” a menace to society.” These drugs pushing psychiatrists are a menace to society.

    Whitaker writes about the middle way you and Frances propose, “Prescribe them to the right patients, because for these patients the drugs can be life-saving, but curb the overuse and polypharmacy…But, here’s the rub: the “middle way” he describes is not an evidence-based practice…It is not a practice that is informed by science that tells of drugs that induce a dopamine supersensitivity, which may increase the biological vulnerability to psychosis; or of science that tells of drugs that shrink the brain, with this shrinkage associated with worse negative symptoms and functional impairment; or of animal research that tells of why antipsychotics fail over time; or of science that tells of much higher recovery rates over the long term for unmedicated patients. Those are drug effects that are not immediately visible to the clinician, but rather are made known through the illuminating powers of science, and they pertain to those with “clear cut psychiatric disorders” too.”

    It is imperative that all critics of psychiatry do everything they can now, before it’s too late, to discourage long-term use of neuroleptics by ALL CLIENTS. I hope you will read Robert Whitaker’s work on this topic –or if you have a critique of his findings and/or conclusion then express it directly in an article here– and reconsider your own position.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Jeffrey Lieberman, former APA President, well known well rewarded drug-pusher for the pharmaceutical industry. and Stalinist-style propagandist for modern psychiatry!
    You can discount that analysis. Thanks for information Sandra.But indeed
    it is not clear why if drop-outs had worse outcomes (as expected)
    that should skew studies to show negative effects of the drugs. ??
    Lieberman is no “scientist.” He recently wrote a book–an advertisement for psychiatric drugs that will lead many people to take these poisons with false expectations–thus undermining their chances of recovering from their distress, discouragement and crises.
    Bob Whitaker reviewed Lieberman latest book here: “In sum, Lieberman recounts a story of miracle drugs arriving in psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s, which brought hope to the hopeless and enabled people struck by serious mental illnesses to live fairly normal lives. That is a story that of course provides great comfort to the psychiatric profession. But, alas, it is belied by the science that can be dug out from psychiatry’s own journals.”
    I disagree with the conclusions of Larsen Barr but let me address that below.

  • JanCarol
    Yes very eloquent and moving description. Thank you. AS you know–and as I think Lynne should have made clear in her article(I hope she does in her book)– most people who take “anti-psychotics” never experience this rebirth you describe. The mental death system does everything in its power to make sure they do not–typically the mental health professionals define spirituality (anything beyond the realm of rigid conventionality) as pathology, and any attempt to stop taking the drugs as “treatment-resistance.” The “mental patient” is urged to accept ahedonia and emotional blunting as normative, any enthusiasm as pathological “mania,” any sense of transcendent purpose as ‘grandiosity” etc

  • Richard, You claim that I assume that the universe “is “finite” and predetermined by an a priori existence of a supernatural “God,” which you would probably say has existed “infinitely'”
    But I said the “new atheists”(whom you seem to be channeling) seem to be unfamiliar with a non-fundamentalist theology, or metaphysics . The idea that God creates the world out of nothing is a literalist (fundamentalist) interpretation of the Jewish bible or old testament. It is not the belief of David Ray Griffin a Christian (process) theologian. And this is not the position of Eastern mystics–the Upanishads– or other Western panentheism.
    Biblical literalism posits a radical dualism–God vs nothing.But an infinite God cannot be limited by nothingness.Nor could there pre-exist a realm oF meaninglessness..|
    Panentheism affirms that God manifests or “creates” the world within Godself–within the realm of no–thing, the divine abyss of infinite possibility, as Philip Sherrard calls it. Yes the universe must have always existed in some form. For panentheists God is both immanent and transcendent–there is nothing beyond or outside of consciousness which has always existed and always will exist. “Matter” itself is a form of consciousness.
    AS neo-Hindu philosopher Sri Aurobindo expressed it,”: “We are bound then to suppose that all that evolves already existed involved, passive or otherwise active, but in either case concealed from us in the shell of material Nature. The Spirit which manifests itself here in a body, must be involved from the beginning in the whole of matter and in every knot, formation and particle of matter; life, mind and whatever is above mind must be latent inactive or concealed active powers in all the operations of material energy.”

    “We have to come back to the idea of a spirit present in the universe and, if the process of its works of power and its appearance is in the steps of an evolution, there imposes itself the necessity of a previous involution.”

    It is not only human beings’ minds that that are characterized by awareness and purposive striving, but all of nature manifests qualities of sentience and purpose.Thus cosmic intelligence manifests itself from within nature, and also from outside, from the Transcendent pole of spirit.

    I don’t see what you see liberating about a universe stripped of all value, consciousness and purpose. But in any case such a universe is but a construction of the modern secular mind, which denigrates and decries it own yearning for meaning, for soul, for holiness. Long ago Carl Jung recognized this internal self-division as the “spiritual schizophrenia” of modern rational man. Madness itself, as Laing and John Weir Perry(Jung’s student) recognized, is an attempt to heal this inner rift.

  • Frank
    There is nothing laughable about Laing. He did not have an interest in “parapsychology” as a discipline__I don’t where you get your facts from.
    He has interest in vast realm of paranormal experience, and a realization that
    “madness” was a gateway potentialities to the recovery to d capacities of the human mind repressed in the modern secular world.
    Don’t look at the evidence–if it makes you uncomfortable. Pretend it doesn’t exist–pretend it’s “scientifically” . But it has now been proven by standards of modern science– in the kind of blind controlled repeatable experiments. Remote viewing for example has been proven beyond a doubt.
    Furthermore anyone with an interest in Eastern religion knows that there are all kinds of “supernatural” powers possessed by masters. there is a vast literature on this. For example, the writings of Alexanda David Neel in the 1930s, e.g. Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Anyone with a “spiritual “orientation can experience this in his/her own life.

  • But this is not an insignificant qualification, Noel:”most of the excess risk appears to be mediated by substance abuse comorbidity ” –the point then is that it is not the ‘schizophrenia” that cause the violence, and the stereotype of the wild dangerous psychotic or lunatic is a phantom of the imagination. This means it should not provide a rationale in the mind of the alarmed public for subjecting them to greater scrutiny—-which it would if “schizophrenics” were significantly more violent as the public thinks.No it is the “drug addict” who must be watched.
    The book by Torrey that oldhead cites was written when he was still a Szaszian. I cannot recall what he says, but the NAMI line is that that “mentally ill” are dangerous to themselves and others.
    But oldhead is probably referring to MacArthur Violence Study in early 1990s which got a lot of publicity.Here is conclusion based on MacArthur study: “But new research published in Clinical Psychological Science by APS Fellow Jennifer Skeem (University of California, Berkeley) and colleagues suggests that the relationship between mental illness and violence isn’t as strong we might think”
    . Torrey and Satel of course claim that study is flawed.
    I have not looked yet at the review you cite. I will..

  • CORRECTION (I had omitted “not”)
    . The existence of telepathy, telekenesis ought NOT not to surprise anyone familiar with the findings of quantum physics, eg non-locality, quantum entanglement. As one reviewer put it,”

    The idea that meaning, intentionality and purpose exist only in the human mind,–whether as real or as illusory– but not in the vast realm of nature–is reductionist and quaint.

  • That is not true, Frank. There is copious evidence–reviewed by Chris Carter in his books–eg Science and Psychic Phenomena: THe Fall of the House of Skeptics.
    It is the commitment to a materialist ontology that leads biased critics to dismiss the evidence. Carter has another book discussing evidence for life after death, and reincarnation. The existence of telepathy, telekenesis ought to surprise anyone familiar with the findings of quantum physics, eg non-locality, quantum entanglement. As one reviewer put it,”Exploring the scandalous history of parapsychology and citing decades of research, Chris Carter shows that, contrary to mainstream belief, replicable evidence of psi phenomena exists. The controversy over parapsychology continues not because ESP and other abilities cannot be verified but because their existence challenges deeply held worldviews more strongly rooted in religious and philosophical beliefs than in hard science..”
    I also recommend the book on the topic theologian and 9/11 Truther er David Ray Griffin which not only makes the case for psi phenomena but shows that the existence of psi buttresses the panpsychic Whiteheadian view of the world of which Griffin is an exponent.
    If even matter possesses at least rudimentary consciousness(a view found in Eastern religions, also) than one would expect that consciousness can directly “perceive” or prehend “matter” or other minds. Directly means without mediation of sensory processes. One could also prehend God. Again this is consistent with quantum phenomenom. Certainly this is a more “spiritual” conception of the universe, but it is also more in accord with finding of modern science.
    The idea that meaning, intentionality and purpose exist only in the human mind, but not in the vast realm of nature–whether as real or as illusory–is reductionist and quaint. Evidence of purpose is found throughout the world– as if Mind is organizing the world seeking to manifest the higher values (love, beauty, goodness) within the world–just as forces of ignorance or evil seek to thwart this power. To deny a priori the existence of “God” shows either one is unfamiliar with modern non-fundamentalist theology and non-dogmatic mysticism or one has embraced a 19th century Newtonian materialist view of “science.”
    In my writing I argue there is interface between madness and spirituality–as R D Laing and other argued in 1960s and 70s. My 2012 book is THe Spiritual Gift of Madness

  • Look you are avoiding the point just like Parents Opposed to Pot. There is no evidence presented that marijuana causes “psychosis” in the majority of users. Pre-psychotic persons may have a greater tendency to use marijuana.

    But my hunch is that neither marijuana nor heavy drinking are likely to be helpful to the majority of troubled persons.But Parents against Pot and you are making unwarranted claims in an effort to re-criminalize or prevent legalization and decriminalization of grass.

    Every one I knew smoked grass when I went to college early 1970s. Sometimes the pot would make one of us “paranoid”–a word carelessly used to denote anxiety that passed as the pot wore off. I did not know any one who smoked 5 marijuana cigarettes a day! My only friend who became psychotic had been smoking for a couple years before he had a breakdown. He also drank. The marijuana did not cause his breakdown. But the neuroleptics he took prevented his recovery.People who have been through wars and traumatized should not smoke pot, or take SSRIs.

    We smoked mostly on weekends when we did not have to go too school the next day. Marijuana contributed to my spiritual awakening-i saw the “crack in the coasmic egg.” I would smoke sometimes and read Kant or Hume, and see the world differently.There are very few jazz musicians who would not claim that marijuana contributed to their creativity as artists. All drugs should be used cautiously. Some should not be used at all by some people. And some
    should not be used at all on a regular or long term basis–such as “anti-psychotics” or SSRIs

    I never advocated marijuana as therapy. (I said LSD has shown some promise as a therapeutic tool –it was effective with prisoners and with non-psychotic persons.) Your claim that marijuana causes as many accidents as marijuana is absurd.It is well known marijuana does not have the same deleterious effects on coordination and risk-taking as alcohol. I do not believe that 25% of fatal accidents are people with marijuana in their system BUT NO ALCOHOL. Ai never heard of anyone stoned on pot alone who drove OVER the speed limit. Driving under the speed limit is far less dangerous. Most of us know the joke about the weed smoker stopped by the cop who think he’s stopped for speeding when he’s going 25 MPH. The problem with all your data–and of Parents against Pot–is it does not prove what you say it does.

    You write, ” Marijuana does not get to the root of the problem, only treats symptoms. Masks the problem, doesn’t treat it. Same with SSRIs. So we need better treatments and these are available if you look. The only reason alcohol is more dangerous in terms of accidents is that more people use it. But now that people have been using pot for 4 years in Washington, around 23% of their fatal accidents involve drivers with marijuana in their system.”

    . How come there is not a group called Parents against Neuroleptics or Parents against Anti-psychotics? Such a group would do a hell of a lot more good then this group of over-controlling parents who are fighting a war against the generation gap.

  • Jewelfs, Do you think it is realistic or desirable to wipe out all recreation or experimental drug use among young people? How about pre-marital sex?. Should that be discouraged also?.

    Drug use does not create “mental illness. I could only read the abstract of the study you cite as I am not a member of PubMed but the abstract does not say that veterans who use cannabis are more likely to commit suicide.

    It says their is a correlation of cannabis use DISORDER and suicidal or non suicidal injury. Correlation does not mean causation. We might expect that someone who is suicidal would be more likely to do drugs–to do excessive drugs. I would bet you would find as high a correlation with excessive use of alcohol. I do not know how CUD is defined.

    But lets look at this intelligently. A vet who has been in Iraq and /OR Afghanistan and has CUD is I would bet likely to have been traumatized in the war–I think most vets have been, for various reasons–mostly the high number of innocent non-combatants they often find themselves killing.
    Is it therapeutic or harmless for traumatized unusually vulnerable vets to smoke lots of marijuana? No, of course not. What I would like to know how does the correlation of CUD and suicide compare to the daily (doctor-prescribed) use of SSRIs and suicide. I would bet the latter is higher—even controlling for “depression.”

    Although a drug like LSD has been demonstrated to have a therapeutic effect(see Stan Grof) that is only when it is used under careful supervision in controlled situations. I do not know what the veteran study concludes. But there is no evidence that marijuana is going to increase the risk of suicide in a non-traumatized population. There is evidence that SSRIs anti-depressants which are routinely prescribed will increase the suicide risk among “normal populations.

    You have the same ambiguity in the studies Bob cites,p.180. We do not know to what degree marijuana is causal. But we do know that marijuana use peaked in late 60s and 70s whereas bipolar epidemic burgeoned later. I think the data would lead the cautious researcher to advocate cautious use of recreation drugs.l Taking drugs, like having drinking, and non marital sex are integral parts of growing up. The majority of adults integrate moderate use of alcohol into their lives, and alcohol is far more dangerous (eg auto accidents) and harmful than marijuana.

    On the other hand, we know that long term use of anti-psychotics and long term use of SSRIs
    are harmful and are correlated with chronic patienthood. Parents ought to far more concerned about their children’s use of psychiatric drugs than of alcohol or marijuana. The latter like sex when approached with care can contribute to their lives–besides the negative aspects, they also have positive effects.

  • This article is sheer propaganda. We are expected to believe these victims of marijuana use had no strong pre-existing emotional problems, just because the author asserts it. A veteran, returning from a brutal war in which 23 vets a day commit suicide.. has no problems??
    Who could trust parents who want to make marijuana illegal SO THEIR CHILDREN WILL NOT SMOKE IT?? That is itself a indication to me that there IS a problem. The problem is with the parents.I have seen families like this –usually they will fight like hell to keep their kids on PSYCHIATRIC drugs.These are the kind of “normal” families R D.Laing wrote about–the normal parents are crazy as hell–every word out of their mouths seems as if it was scripted and they are TERRIFIED of their teenage or young adult children’s autonomy! See Sanity, Madness and the Family.

  • I AGREE WITH OLDHEAD. This series of articles is sensationalism, akin to Reefer Madness type propaganda. There are numerous methodological flaws–not surprising from a NAMI type group
    of parents whose agenda seems to be to stop their children from using any drugs. These anecdotes do not prove the individuals described were not already troubled before they used “pot.” The statisticsw for Colorado are dubious in light of other data. I quote from American Journal of Public Health, 2014.Here is link,
    “The graphical analysis provided evidence that, before legalization, male suicides in the treated states evolved in a similar fashion to male suicides in the control states. After legalization, these trends diverged. Specifically, the male suicide rate in medical marijuana states fell, but the male suicide rate increased, albeit modestly, in the control states. Formal estimates obtained with regression analysis were consistent with the graphical analysis. These estimates suggested that the legalization of medical marijuana was associated with a 9.2% to 10.8% decrease in the suicide rate of men aged 20 through 29 years, and a 9.4% to 13.7% decrease in the suicide rate of men aged 30 through 39 years. These estimates were generally robust to adjustment for linear time trends at the state level. ”
    This is a more trustworthy and objective survey, than that done by group of over-conjtrolling parents opposed to all use– even responsible use of marijuana.

  • We have discussed here people who are burdened with shame and guilt for crimes or sins they did not commit.Either they feel guilty for original sin, for sex, for drugs, for not living up to their parents’ expectations.Yes they should be relieved of their burden of guilt and self-hate.

    But no one has said that they have worked with cold blooded murderers(prisoners or soldiers) and it is therapeutic to relieve them of all sense of shame or guilt–but it is implied by omission.

    Again I assert that the first group is different from the second.

    Was Dostoyevsky wrong? What about–to take a few iconic mass murderers– Hitler, Eichmann,Dr Mengele, Stalin, Kissinger, Lt Calley. Cheney, Bush? Do we really think they can and should be redeemed without feeling any guilt or shame for their crimes, their sins?? Some would say some or all of the above can or should not be forgiven or redeemed–that they should not be allowed to rejoin the human community. I think they should–all.

    But I challenge anyone here who agrees, to affirm that they should be forgiven, or that they could be rehabilitated without having first felt a profound sense of guilt, of remorse, of shame for the crimes,the sins they perpetrated. And is this not also true for those who have deliberately murdered one innocent person? Is there another route to redemption–or rehabilitation–for people who have committed heinous crimes, grievous sins??.


  • Other dictionaries (Mirriam-Webster) define remorse as including feeling of guilt.
    Well you clarified what you mean about remorse–distinguishing it from regret.
    Yes there is a lot that comes up if one googles “guilt vs remorse.”
    “As nouns the difference between remorse and guilt is that remorse is a feeling of regret or sadness for doing wrong or sinning while guilt is responsibility for wrongdoing.. awareness of having done wrong”
    It’s revealing that guilt means both the objective determination that the subject was culpable of wrong-doing and the subjective painful awareness of
    having done something wrong. I am thinking of real criminals in prison–with whom I have no personal experiences, or soldiers who have killed civilians. I don’t know if you have worked with them but I think it’s very different than the experience of the mad or the worried well who are often afflicted with guilt for merely existing.
    The latter are burdened with the painful legacy of
    hundreds of years of an Augustinian culture, IN City of God Augustine
    declared ALL people deserved to burn in hell eternally, and that the souls of all perople were spiritually diseased, tainted, a viewpoint reaffirmed by Calvin and Luther– and in secular somewhat diluted form by Freud. They were guilty not for sins they committed but sins Adam committed–or in Freud’s theory the sins that their parents committed. Augustine said even the unborn actually committed the original sin “in Adam.” So today many are afflicted not by genuine guilt but by self-loathing and the feeling that one is bad and
    diseased. You give a good example of how they think””I feel like other people are more able and worthy to enjoy a pleasant day than I am. If you knew me, you’d know I’m so much more a failure and pathetic loser of a person than you could ever imagine, and that I probably deserve all the worst days possible, even to burn in hell for everything I’ve done wrong.”
    For the former group– of criminals or soldiers– I would think both remorse and guilt (and shame) are necessary for healing. Remorse implies responsibility. We don’t feel remorse for a crime committed by another. Although if it is against someone we know we can feel deep empathy and regret. An other focused restorative remorse is one side of the picture. We want Lt Calley (let alone his sociopathic superiors) and Eichmann to feel guilt as well as sorrow and empathy–because they degraded themselves as well as those they harmed. Instead of self-hatred
    it could be–perhaps that should be the therapeutic task– a disappointment with oneself. Instead of a punitive attack on oneself there should be sorrow and mourning for the loss of the innocent self. Should there not? Perhaps you would call that remorse, rather than guilt.
    I saw a documentary on TV about restorative justice. The most interesting story was of the relationship between a woman who lost her son and a criminal who killed him. Strangely enough they became best friends. The criminal was car thief not a sociopath or a cold blooded murderer/ Nevertheless in his effort to escape and steal a car he shot a man in his way and her died. It seems this was the most important event in his life as well as in the mother’s. I doubt there would have been the deep reconciliation between the two if the killer had not expressed and felt guilt as well as remorse. He became the substitute for the son she could never bring back–and she visited him every week.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Hi Michael, I agree with most of what you say–particularly the inculcated sense of shame for not succeeding in the social rat race–the Social Darwinian paradigm.

    I remember the poignant passage in The Politics of Experience where Laing quotes Jules Henry on the humiliations inflicted on students (on “Boris” specifically) in the competitive environment in which students learn the zero-sum game. Henry concludes that “to be successful in this society one has to learn to dream of failure.” I think you are referring to inapprpriate self-hated rather than to guilt or shame that is appropriate

    I think we would all agree here at MIA to replace retributive justice with restorative justice. The former clearly implies that the perpetrator is evil–and usually is seen by many people as irredeemable. But even restorative justice must involve a sense of shame and guilt–with the hope of recovering one’s lost integrity, a desire to be forgiven. I don’t see how reconciliation can take place without these emotions.

    You write “But if we don’t have shame and guilt to keep us in check and to scare us into performing, succeeding and obeying, won’t we become irredeemable beings, sociopaths, if not lesser outright losers and failures?

    “The good news is that remorse is an emotion that is good, healthy, and healing, and can replace the function for which guilt has been employed. If we feel and express genuine remorse when we hurt ourselves or others, there’s no need to feel guilt. We can take responsibility, make amends, seek forgiveness, reconnect — and do all that without self-condemnation, self-judgement or self-punishment.”

    But if you look up remorse in dictionary it is not distinct from guilt and shame. Do you mean “regret”? Take a case that has become common. Many soldiers return from US wars tormented by remorse for having killed civilians, probably under orders. (It’s far worse if they have no remorse.). In the 1960s many became anti-war activists.

    Regret seems an anemic, shallow and ego-centric emotion–not appropriate to the severity of the violation. Shame and guilt bond us to the Other we have harmed. Would you be inclined to forgive someone who had harmed your loved one, if they felt only regret, if they were not disturbed in the depth of their soul? Shame and guilt are spiritual feelings and I don’t see how one can have a communal order without them–unless everyone was perfect. Our society today IS run by greedy sociopathic egotists and elitists…

    I think it makes more sense to reject the Augustinian tradition, as Mathew Fox did, and affirm original blessing. To put it in theological terms one is created “in the image of God.” This image cannot be destroyed, although s St Gregory if Nyssa said, it can be OBSCURED by sin. The process of restoring the image, must involve remorse (shame, guilt) and making amends and seeking forgiveness. All of these feelings and actions contribute to our living up to our calling as ministers, ambassadors, of viceregents of God/Goddess.

    The calling and the potential (the image of God) remain, regardless of the crimes one has committed–I think this is the main truth obscured by the mental death system, which offers such a reductionist view of humanity–as biochemical machines– which dismisses the idea of a vocation, let alone a divine calling. In the light of this sense of divine calling, remorse can be even greater–one has “fallen short of the glory of God.” But this can become an inspiration to make up for one’s crimes, and actualize the image of God in one’s soul, one’s psyche.

  • DEEO
    “. Your ability to put down with a plethora of references assures us that you are well read”
    What makes you think I have any desire to assure you or anyone eldse that I am “well-read.” ?
    My motive was to quote an astute and renowned scholar to show that Rasselas claim that “shamanism” was a flaKY New Age” construct was not true. And to dismiss an entire spiritual tradition because of a few modern hustlers who call themselves shamans was not a serious way to investigate the phenomenon–as contrasted to the profound commentary and research of the late Professor Mircea Eliade.
    It;s clear to me that Rasselas has some sort of peeve, Maybe not ethnocentrism. Maybe he/she is a secular humanist and atheist in the tradition of Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens and Bill Mahr who regards all spiritual traditions as bogus. It seemse he/she read Castenada as entertainment.
    I quote Eliade because he is profound and astute, and highly respected by those with interesrt in spiritual traditions. It is presumptuous
    to claim Deeo that I quote him to show I read him. I did not give a plethora of references . I have not read that much on shamanism. I gave a few references.

  • There may very well have been a deterioration of shamanism. The deterioration of sacred phenomenon in modern world was one of Mircea Eliade’s themes. But just because there are hustlers–whether pseudo-“shamans” or degenerated shamans– does not mean the phenomenon should be dismissed.

    I would be humble dealing with an authority, but you know a little of “shamanism” which you probably picked up in The National Enquirer and you present yourself as an authority–thus potentially leading people to avoid reading about an important spiritual tradition. You probably don’t believe in spiritual traditions anywayr.

    Shamanism is not a “New Age” construct!!. It was an integral to native American culture, as well as other indigenous cultures in N and South America and Asia. The renowned author Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), historian of religion and professor at the University of Chicago, started writing on shamanism in the 1950s. Eliade was not influenced by the “New Age.” His main book on the topic Shamanism was written in 1968. The shaman is above all an expert in ascension into the spirit world and a mediator between the natural and supernatural worlds. Eliade called shamanism “one of the archaic techniques of ecstasy ” at once mysticism, magic, and ‘religion’ in the broadest sense of the term.” He wanted to restrict the term ‘shaman’ to those who went into trances and who would address the tribe through a spirit or would visit the spirit world and return.”( But the shaman is also ” believed to cure, like all doctors, and to perform miracles of the fakir type, like all magicians […] But beyond this, he is a psychopomp, and he may also be a priest, mystic, and poet[137].”

    When thus defined, shamanism tends to occur in its purest forms in hunting and pastoral societies like those of Siberia and Central Asia, which revere a celestial High God “on the way to becoming a deus otiosus”.[138] Eliade takes the shamanism of those regions as his most representative example.

    In his examinations of shamanism, Eliade emphasizes the shaman’s attribute of regaining man’s condition before the “Fall” out of sacred time: “The most representative mystical experience of the archaic societies, that of shamanism, betrays the Nostalgia for Paradise, the desire to recover the state of freedom and beatitude before ‘the Fall’.”[135] This concern—which, by itself, is the concern of almost all religious behavior, according to Eliade—manifests itself in specific ways in shamanism.

    Anyway there are now many scholarly books out on shamanism–many by participant-observers. I hope people don’t take snide assessments of professional skeptics and religious-atheists(like Bill Mahr) to heart and do their own research.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • You have not read any scholarly books on shamanism–I have no doubt.
    And even if some shamans are destructive that doesn’t mean you can dismiss the whole spiritual tradition., YOu are just ethno-centric. Have you read Mircea Eliade’s books on shamanism ? I’m sure you haven’t.
    Some think Eliade unfairly disparages use of hallucinogens. Havre you read McKenna’s books? Or Michael Harner’s? I’m not an expert of shamanism. I just know enough to recognize bigotry…
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • DeeeO42
    I wanted to respond to your post July 30,9:58 but I there is no “response” below it. Anyway I don’t tyhink we necessarily disagree.
    Of course “schizophrenics” get better if they are left alone. My point was that they weren’t. THus I wrote “Half of the mad, as you claim, did not get better. Most of them from the discovery of neuroleptics in the mid– 1950s onward were destroyed by the drugs—and the degradation and the ostracism.Maybe that was true in 19th century when moral treatment was still popular.” My statement “Maybe THAT is true..” was written quickly. By “that” I meant your claim that 50% got better. And even more when they actually got help.d In the WHO survey those who recovered were actually integrated into communities… in undeveloped world. Same with moral treatment, to a lesser degree..
    It does not matter whether your cohorts actually read FReud. THe views on “schizophrenia” were based on psychoanalytic theories that pervaded popular culture. The meme of the chronic severely diseased schizophrenic was taught in all the grad school programs in universities. It is impossible to over-estimate the influence of psychoanalysis throughout most of the 20th century. It has the influence bio-psychiatry does today–plus it had a literary status and social prestige that immunized it from criticism–until the end. It took brilliant intellectuals like Laing and Szasz to begin its deconstruction.
    Madness is an ambiguous phenomenon. Psychiatry constructed it as “chronic mental illness” There is no question psychiatry did not create madness but its transformed it into a disease—and above all its treatment made an acute crisis into a CHRONIC life problems. Psychoanalysis lent all its prestige into defining “schizophrenia” as chronic, incurable tragic –original sin. REad THe City of God. Read Calvin. Then read Freudians on schizophrenia. I make the link in my book Eternal Day.
    As I wrote in the 1980s.”Yesterday’s shaman is today’s chronic schizophrenic. THe kind of person who in a bygone era would hare been initiated into the vocation of shaman. medicine man, spiritual healer is today inducted into a career as a ‘chronic mental patient’–victim of the most serious mental illness known to mankind”
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Deeeo42,
    I was not trying to establish I know more about Freudianism than you–I did not know until now how much you knew. I knew quite a lot because I was steeped in it. I went to school at the end of the Freudian era.
    Yes FReudians, psychoanalysts wanted as little to do with “schizophrenics” as possible. AS soon as they put in time in public hospitals or clinics, they set up restrictive private practices. I don’t see anything admirable about that. Anyway the public clinics were still psychoanalytically oriented. Very low expectations were held for most of the clients. Just as things began to improve a bit psychiatrists teamed up with drug companies. THe APA changed its rules so it could accept drug company money. This deregulation was happening everywhere and its motivating factor was greed–not a capitulation to NAMI’s line, though NAMI helped.

    THe mad were being drugged and crippled by drugs and the FReudians raised no objections. They thought the mad were hopeless anyway. And my point was they influenced everyone in the system into regarding the mad as incapable of intimacy..In Valenstein’s book on lobotomies he quotes a critic who said, “Even the therapists who opposed the procedure failed with amazing uniformity to give public utterance to their opposition.” Half of the mad, as you claim, did not get better. Most of them from the discovery of neuroleptics in the mid– 1950s onward were destroyed by the drugs—and the degradation and the ostracism.Maybe that was true in 19th century when moral treatment was still popular.
    Freudians’ contempt for the mad influenced everyone in the field, and probably set the stage for lobotomies and “:chemical lobotomies.” I knew these shrinks and I know the disdain and pity with which they regarded “schizophrenics.” If you read R D Laing’s revolutionary book THe Politics of Experience(1967) the shrinks he excoriates were all Freudians. Same with Szasz’s greatest book THe Manufacturer of Madness(1970) These powerful defenses of the mad were written in the Freudian era. The only change is now far more people are put on toxic drugs.
    The psychiatric wards’ view of the mad as hopeless cases who must be suppressed with drugs was heavily influenced if not created by the Psychoanalytic priesthood, the sages, the intellectual elite of society.
    But what I’m trying to get across is that how shrinks saw themselves DID matter. Freudians, with only a few exceptions, in those days were unequivocal: Schizophrenia was incurable. The best that could be done was to firm up the “schizophrenic’s egos with “supportive psychotherapy” to prevent them from being rehospitalized.(The same was tyrue of so called personality disorders–although Kohut tried yto open up psychoanalysis to wealthy “”narcissistic personality disorders.” But as far as the “psychotics” ” Freudians did not offer :intensive psychotherapy” to enable them to live fulfilling lives. I don’t have time to go into detail about the great harm done by psychoanalysts to the mad. I tried to convey a sense here.You can read more about it in my books.
    Today there are numerous methods to help the mad—and to learn from, the mad. What is lacking is the motive to do so. But I do not put the blame on the parents but on mental health professionals who have become pimps for the drug companies. If they were doing their jobs parents could be educated to be “good-enough” (Winnicott’s term)care-givers.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • BPD..Writes
    “..g Gustav Schulman, Bryce Boyer, Vamik Volkan, and Gaetano Benedetti. They have written about their work in books that are available on Amazon. Just because results aren’t written about in an academic sounding paper with university letterhead, doesn’t mean they aren’t real..”
    I don’t know where you got that idea–as if I gave a damn or even read academic journals regularly. I was a psychoanalyst in grad school. I became an apostate because of reasons I mentioned. THus I stopped reading analysts in mid 1980s. Probably the persons you mentioned were writing in mid–1980s to 1990s–by which time I’d lost interest in FReudianism. I wrote 2 books in 1990s that critiqued FReud and object relations theory which I espoused in early 1980s> but I based my critique on theorists who were popular in clinic in early 1980s. By the 1990s psychoanalysts were replaced in public sector by bio-psychiatrists….
    I was influenced by people like Laing and John Weir Perry.
    Anyway I was still optimistic in 1990s about reforming mental health system. Now it’s merged with pharmaceuticl industry…

  • Hi Fiachra,
    You know I’ve made that point, or similar point before. I don’t think people suffer from “schizophrenia.” I think they suffer from fear, despair, terror, grief, sorrow etc. Therefore a therapist or helper should not be trying to suppress
    “schizophrenia” or altered states of consciousness, but rather help the mad person feel less anxious., or help them cope with grief. Do you agree?? It’s like an LSD trip–it can be good or bad. ASC are not bad in themselves(See Laing and John Perry, fdiscussed in my last book-2012)

    Your other point is more dubious–all negative emotions or behaviors are manifestation of fear or anxiety. No I think loss creates grief which is different than fear? If lose someone you lover you will feel grief. Do you really think fear and grief are the same?

  • The Sullivan school had nothing to do with Freud. It was considered to be “interpersonal.”
    Sullivan himself had a “schizophrenic” break as a young man from which he recovered.
    THe FReudians were so rarely helpful to “schizophrenics”: because schizophrenia was said to be a severe disorder, a result of maternal deprivation during the “oral” phase that made one incapable of having intimater relationship.
    I was told this over and over when working on my PhD in late 70s and early 1980s. By promulgating this dogma Freudians did a considerable amount of harm to “schizophrenics.”THe field was Freudian and everyone followed their lead.
    Yes “psychotherapy” was for the purpose of preventing people from getting worse. Freudians said only an elect was capable of benefitting from “psychoanalysis” which was supposedly curative.
    The secular Augustinianism of Freudianism claimed “schizophrenics” were “predestined”
    to eternal loneliness, not able to form intimate relationships. So the secular Priesthood condemned the mad to eternal hell and blamed it on their parents–on secular analogue of original sin
    Seth Farber, PhD.

  • There is no study that shows particularly spectacular results from psychoanalysis. What the literature shows is that therapy with any orientation is very helpful(as is peer support) is the therapist expects the client to get better and forms a good relationship. THe only analysts I know who got “spectacular” results were Bertram Karom, and those trained by him—for the reasons I mention –not because FReudian theory is superior. To what “body of evidence”
    do you refer???
    The fact is for all of its history vpsychoanalysts –with a few exceptions–took the position that schizophrenia” was incurable, and that all that could be achieved was better ability to cope. But to love and experience intimacy? No– according to Freud and Freudians (with the few exceptions)– that was impossible . It was not even allowed to offer analysis to “schizophrenics.” Freudians have a disgraceful record, and they do not deserve your praise.
    Your sanguine view of Freudianism is unwarranted. Read Final Analysis by Jeffrey Masson, an apostate from psychoanalytic faith, famous for his expose of Freud. I discuss some of the successful approaches in my last book.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D., THe Spiritual Gift of Madness

  • Thanks for your comments, Dana,
    Many of the posters here do not have any kind of strategy for preventing psychiatrists from ruining patients” lives by labeling them “psychotic”: and putting them on and keeping them on neuroleptics. Drugs like benzo’s or Neurontin can play an invaluable role.
    If a patent is given only a drug for anxiety it makes it virtually impossible to OTHER-IZE them. THeir problem is defined as fear, anxiety—not schizophrenia. Of course long term use of benzo’s can be harmful. But it attenuates the line between the worried walking and dreaded “schizophrenics.” Plus benzos rarely trurn people into zombies. THis is why nursing home inmates are given Zyprexa, not Valium.
    What is missing from this discussion is 1) Patents on benzo’s are less likely to become convinced they suffer from “mental illness” rather than problems of living, THis means they will regard benzo’s as crisis drugs. 2) Patients should have the right to choose less destructive drug. Not to accede to shrinks.
    By evading these issues our posters are not contributing to preventing patients from becoming chronIc patients. By obscuring differences between benzos and neuroleptics, posters are contributing to perpetuating use of psychologically and physiologically most toxic dRUGS In America. Read WhitaKer’s work on drugs.
    What dominates today is neuroleptics–the most dangerous drugs on mArket.
    Chemomonster speaks eloquently–but he is not alone. THe posters have avoided issues raised by others on psychiatric drugs. I submit that the single-most important ISSUE for therapist is preventing the otherizing of patients and getting them off “anti-psychotics.” While the harm inflicted by all psychiatric must be addressed, one must also address: How to get patients off of neuroleptics that ruin their lives. And short term use of benzo’s and other drugs like Neurontin should be offered to patients as alternative to neuoroleptics and Other-izing patIENTS as psychotics.
    I will take a look at The Cult of Pharmacology–It looks impOrtant. THe industrY doMINATES THE whole medical fiELd., I am awaRE that the whole medical field is dominated by big Pharma. THus chemotherapy makes pAtients sicker but it is highly lucrative for doctors and pharm industry, Cancer is lucrative. These issue cannot be addressed in isolation, Read Foucault But of course Psychiatry has nothing to do with medicine–but with problems in living
    . Like cancer, “schizophrenics,” will not be” cured” by therapy or “medicine.” Not when billions of dollars can be made by keeping people sick or unable to function. “Schizophrenia” is a myth, there is no such thing–there are only problems of living. Normals take drugs for anxiety. They are less risky long term treatments but if you get thrown into loony bin you should be able to ask for Valium as alternative to far more toxic stupefying Zyprexa. THe greater advantage is Valium. That way you can’t be labeled “schizophrenic”– you can’t be Other-ized.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Thanks for your comments, Dana,
    Many of the posters here do not have any kind of strategy for preventing psychiatrists from ruining patients” lives by labeling them “psychotic”: and putting them on and keeping them on neuroleptics. Drugs like benzo’s or Neurontin can play an invaluable role.
    If a patent is given only a drug for anxiety it makes it virtually impossible to OTHER-IZE them. THeir problem is defined as fear, anxiety—not schizophrenia. Of course long term use of benzo’s can be harmful. But it attenuates the line between the worried walking and dreaded “schizophrenics.” Plus benzos rarely trurn people into zombies. THis is why nursing home inmates are given Zyprexa, not Valium.
    What is missing from this discussion is 1) Patents on benzo’s are less likely to become convinced they suffer from “mental illness” rather than problems of living, THis means they will regard benzo’s as crisis drugs. 2) Patients should have the right to choose less destructive drug. Not to accede to shrinks.
    By evading these issues our posters are not contributing to preventing patients from becoming chronIc patients. By obscuring differences between benzos and neuroleptics, posters are contributing to perpetuating use of psychologically and physiologically most toxic dRUGS In America. Read WhitaKer’s work on drugs.
    What dominates today is neuroleptics–the most dangerous drugs on mArket.
    Chemomonster speaks eloquently–but he is not alone. THe posters have avoided issues raised by others on psychiatric drugs. I submit that the single-most important ISSUE for therapist is preventing the otherizing of patients and getting them off “anti-psychotics.” While the harm inflicted by all psychiatric must be addressed, one must also address: How to get patients off of neuroleptics that ruin their lives. And short term use of benzo’s and other drugs like Neurontin should be offered to patients as alternative to neuoroleptics and Other-izing patIENTS as psychotics.
    I will take a look at The Cult of Pharmacology–It looks impOrtant. THe industrY doMINATES THE whole medical fiELd., I am awaRE that the whole medical field is dominated by big Pharma. THus chemotherapy makes pAtients sicker but it is highly lucrative for doctors and pharm industry, Cancer is lucrative. These issue cannot be addressed in isolation, Read Foucault But of course Psychiatry has nothing to do with medicine–but with problems in living
    . Like cancer, “schizophrenics,” will not be” cured” by therapy or “medicine.” Not when billions of dollars can be made by keeping people sick or unable to function. “Schizophrenia” is a myth, there is no such thing–there are only problems of living. Normals take drugs for anxiety. They are less risky long term treatments but if you get thrown into loony bin you should be able to ask for Valium as alternative to far more toxic stupefying Zyprexa. THe greater advantage is Valium. That way you can’t be labeled “schizophrenic”– you can’t be Other-ized.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Thanks for your comments, Dana,
    Many of the posters here do not have any kind of strategy for preventing psychiatrists from ruining patients” lives by labeling them “psychotic”: and putting them on and keeping them on neuroleptics. Drugs like benzo’s or Neurontin can play an invaluable role.
    If a patent is given only a drug for anxiety it makes it virtually impossible to OTHER-IZE them. THeir problem is defined as fear, anxiety—not schizophrenia. Of course long term use of benzo’s can be harmful. But it attenuates the line between the worried walking and dreaded “schizophrenics.” Plus benzos rarely trurn people into zombies. THis is why nursing home inmates are given Zyprexa, not Valium.
    What is missing from this discussion is 1) Patents on benzo’s are less likely to become convinced they suffer from “mental illness” rather than problems of living, THis means they will regard benzo’s as crisis drugs. 2) Patients should have the right to choose less destructive drug. Not to accede to shrinks.
    By evading these issues our posters are not contributing to preventing patients from becoming chronIc patients. By obscuring differences between benzos and neuroleptics, posters are contributing to perpetuating use of psychologically and physiologically most toxic dRUGS In America. Read WhitaKer’s work on drugs.
    What dominates today is neuroleptics–the most dangerous drugs on mArket.
    Chemomonster speaks eloquently–but he is not alone. THe posters have avoided issues raised by others on psychiatric drugs. I submit that the single-most important ISSUE for therapist is preventing the otherizing of patients and getting them off “anti-psychotics.” While the harm inflicted by all psychiatric must be addressed, one must also address: How to get patients off of neuroleptics that ruin their lives. And short term use of benzo’s and other drugs like Neurontin should be offered to patients as alternative to neuoroleptics and Other-izing patIENTS as psychotics.
    I will take a look at The Cult of Pharmacology–It looks impOrtant. THe industrY doMINATES THE whole medical fiELd., I am awaRE that the whole medical field is dominated by big Pharma. THus chemotherapy makes pAtients sicker but it is highly lucrative for doctors and pharm industry, Cancer is lucrative. These issue cannot be addressed in isolation, Read Foucault But of course Psychiatry has nothing to do with medicine–but with problems in living
    . Like cancer, “schizophrenics,” will not be” cured” by therapy or “medicine.” Not when billions of dollars can be made by keeping people sick or unable to function. “Schizophrenia” is a myth, there is no such thing–there are only problems of living. Normals take drugs for anxiety. They are less risky long term treatments but if you get thrown into loony bin you should be able to ask for Valium as alternative to far more toxic stupefying Zyprexa. THe greater advantage is Valium. That way you can’t be labeled “schizophrenic”– you can’t be Other-ized.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • It’s not always possible to avoid. Most of the people in these places would rather be home. But either they don’t have family to arrange out-patient treatment for them–and they are declared incompetent and appointed a “guardian” who puts them in a nursing home. OR they do have family. Their adult children don’t care about their freedom or quality of life. They figure they are “safer” in a nursing home. Which is true in narrow sense–they are less likely to wander around and fall and break a bone. If they die sooner, it seems natural so the family is happy.
    I have talked to people in nursing homes. I have never heard of any who are not on “anti-psychotics”– neuroleptic drug–, which are probably more harmful than benzos. Not only do they cause many undesirable effects(eg diabetes) but with elderly population they invariably cause tardive dyskinesia, a disorder with symptoms like Parkinson’s that make patients shake uncontrollably–they also significantly shorten life span.

    So any patient on benzos is not on them as alternative to neuroleptics like Zyprexa but in addition to neuroleptics. The problem with benzos is that like alcohol patients like them and they make patients more garrulous–harder to control.

    The new findings that benzos are likely to increase risk of dementia means that alternatives to drugs must be found for treatment of anxiety and insomnia. This would entail therapy or herbal or vitamin supplements. But this would be a radical shift in paradigm—and a major threat to the pharmaceutical industry. Thus it won’t happen. There are probably les malignant drugs but nursing homes will not stop prescribing atypical neuroleptics, for the reason I mentioned and also because they are the most powerful way to shut up an ebullient patient. Nursing staff wants docile quiet patients, not people who are enjoying life. The latter presents too much of a threat. Such a patient may want to talk to other patients, or take a walk–but the more mobile a patient is, the greater the risk of breaking a bone. Thus patients will continue to be prescribed Zyprexa AND Xanax.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • It’s a corporate-government plot. As a toxic industrial b y-product fluoride would be difficult and costly to dispose of. So corporations came up with a great idea. Dump it in the water reservoirs for Americans citizens to ingest– and claim it prevents tooth decay. They saved millions of dollars.
    may slightly decrease tooth decay when placed on the teeth, but it is a toxin when absorded into mucous membranes.)Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Colin, I don’t have time for such a dialogue. Besides as you say I am not interested in having discussions that I already have had hundreds of times with other people who were acolytes of the medical model. Indeed I WOULD like to “help [you] see the error of [your] ways,” but I know it’s a hopeless task. Thus you and I, Colin, are like two ships passing in the night. The difference is I hear you on deck singing a song that I’ve heard a million times before. Whereas I am shouting at you something unfamiliar: “Abandon your leaky rotten vessel! There is room for you on ours.” I’d even send you a life boat. But alas since you are perched somewhere comfortable and safe you have no desire to abandon the old ship.
    It’s odd you see me as narrow-minded and rigid because I see you and others who espouse the medical model as narrow-minded and rigid and imprisoned within the parameters of a paradigm that ought to have been abandoned long ago. All I can say positively about your position is that you defend it eloquently, very smoothly with perfect command over syntax and an unusual amount of color. What you defend is mostly an unimaginative colorless paradigm that continues to serve as a rationale for an oppressive mental health system increasingly dependent(at least in America) on the pharmaceutical industry
    You missed my point. I am not advocating better prognosis. I am advocating no prognoses. I am saying as long as professionals make prognoses and encode expectations in their writings, their discussions, their pronouncements, these expectations will continue to act as self fulfilling prophecies except by those who rebel against and reject their prognoses–all of them. For example over and over you keep saying “less severe cases of schizophrenia open better chances for reducing or quitting medicine than severe cases.” It has been branded on the cells of your brain that there are more severe cases and less severe cases of “schizophrenia”—INDEPENDENT of the way these “cases” are regarded by professionals. Horsesh–t! AS I wrote years ago “Yesterday’s shaman is today’s chronic schizophrenic.” It was the craziest people, the maddest of the mad, who became shamans in another age.
    Today many become activists. I am bored by the studies but they confirm my spiritual development and hermeneutic paradigm. Furthermore there are numerous activists in the “mental patients liberation movement” (as it was first called) who were labeled ‘schizophrenic” and told they had a life long illness. In fact these were the leaders of the movement, not the “mild cases.” The APA always took the position that “schizophrenia” was incurable. (To answer your question the different groups in the Harrow study had different labels, such as “bipolar” which was always considered less severe than “schizophrenia.)
    You have no way of determining who is the “most severe.” You declare those least severe who get off the drugs—it’s merely a tautology. When mental patients rights leaders attacked the Establishment, neo-conservatives wrote books and claimed these activists can’t speak for “schizophrenics”, because they were not schizophrenics–they were misdiagnosed! Of course they had to be–the tautology must be preserved: Those who get off the “meds” and get “better” were not severe cases.
    . No one has ever established that psychiatrists diagnoses have any reliability, nor any predictive validity except insofar as they are self fulfilling prophecies. That is they have only seemed to be reliable because professionals have suppressed and oppressed and destroyed the brains of “schizophrenics” throughout the 20th century and beyond. You missed the point of the the essay I quoted. It is not the prognosis should be based on behavior. It is that the behavior of “the mentally ill,” the deviants, is influenced by those very prognoses. I wrote, “[Institutional Mental Health] fails to see how its own WAY OF UNDERSTANDING THE OTHER enters into the event. It is as if its particular way of understanding has no historical or social ramifications. It is as if psychiatrically labeled individuals are deaf to the discourse that Institutional Mental Health articulates through a variety of media, institutions, groups and individuals. Mental illness is a cultural artifact, the end result of a particular kind of highly structured dialogue between socially empowered experts and socially disenfranchised, psychiatrically stigmatized individuals. ”
    In the medical model there are no “problems in living.” Every such apparent problem is really a symptom of a disease. In your country (UK?) the medical model allows somewhat more room for change but it has the same ideological functions. In America millions of people are being destroyed by the medical model. I developed a developmental model based on Laing and others. All the data or most fits within my paradigm.

  • Colin,
    I cannot discuss treatment of “schizophrenia” in England or Australia. But your discussion of prognosis is irrelevant in America. THe APA position was throughout the 1990s and before that “schizophrenia” was a chronic illness from which n o one recovered. (I’m not sure what it us today–probably the same.)I know this from working in clinics throughout the 1980s, from reading the literature, and from talking to persons who had been diagnosed as schizophrenics.

    I do not accept a medical model. For deconstruction of such a model read Thomas Szasz–too many books to pick a couple. For the defense of a crisis model, read R D Laing (I’d recommend The Politics of Experience and Sanity, Madness and the Family) and John Weir Perry ( Trials of the Visionary Mind is a good place to start) and my first book (probably my first book , Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels–1993 and my 2012 book, The Spiritual Gift of Madness). And read Leaving Home by Jay Haley. And Psychosis and Spirituality edited by Isabelle Clarke.

    Let me clear up a few points. People don’t stay on neuroleptics because they make them feel good, like cocaine. They stay on them because psychiatrists tell them they will be rehospitalized if they don’t. I say they are addicted because after being on neuroleptics for, say, a year or so, one will in all probability have intense withdrawal symptoms if one tries to get off. (This will of course be interpreted by the shrink as the return of “the illness”) These confounding variable vitiate your ludicrous claim that only “severe” schizophrenics will stay on the drugs. People who trust their psychiatrists, or are scared of rehospitalization, often are hooked on the drugs–even if their schizophrenia is “mild.”

    \ No no no! I said Wunderink was a randomized study. THe majority of people who were taken off the drugs were chosen randomly. There was a small subset who CHOSE to get off the drugs later. To quote Whitaker”this was a randomized study designed to see which treatment protocol produced better outcomes.” Randomized studies are considered gold standard–of course with neuroleptics’ awful side effects such a study cannot be blind. But that fact only strengthens our arguments because non-drugged clients did not have the advantage of a placebo effect.

    Our main differences are philosophical. My paradigm is not medical–as stated. It is nonsense to interpret a spiritual crisis as a medical problem–and proclivity to being labeled schizophrenics proves nothing. For 2 reasons 1) Some persons re more sensitive than others–that MAY be genetic trait 2)) Joseph Jay shows in Mad in America that the studies that claim “sc hizophrenia” is genetically transmitted were flawed. But even if Joseph was wrong it does not prove as potential shaman is REALLY a schizophrenic., See “Shamans and Acute Schizophrenia” by J Silverman in American Anthropologist, 1967.

    As to prognosis, it cannot be separated from behavior. This is just like quantum physics. How the person behaves depends upon how he/she is observed. Observation influences behavior–which you could argue explains better than drugs in Harrow’s survey why some patients don’t recover . Please see my article in 1990 but still relevant–and reprinted online
    I will quote from it.” This is the fundamental hermeneutical insight. Objectivism obscures this reality, it pursues the illusory Enlightenment ideal of the “detached’ scientist, unmindful of the historical roots of this ideal, unmindful of the social consequences of the futile attempt to realize it. Gadamer wrote, ‘In this objectivism the understander is seen.., not in relationship to the hermeneutical situation and the constant operativeness of history in his own consciousness, but in such a way as to imply that his own understanding does not enter into the event” (p. 28). … Institutional Mental Health acts as if its own understanding does not enter into the event. It focuses its lenses upon the Others, the deviants, and professes to possess objective knowledge about their situation and their destinies. It fails to see how its own way of understanding the Other enters into the event. It is as if its particular way of understanding has no historical or social ramifications. It is as if psychiatrically labeled individuals are deaf to the discourse that Institutional Mental Health articulates through a variety of media, institutions, groups and individuals. Mental illness is a cultural artifact, the end result of a particular kind of highly structured dialogue between socially empowered experts and socially disenfranchised, psychiatrically stigmatized individuals. ”

    Well I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that you were one of the people who proved the mental health Establishment the APA, wrong. I assumed you were working for the system. Hopefully if you are you are encouraging clients and telling them long term use of neuroleptics is unnecessary and harmful.

  • Colin, Alex
    Alex, Read Whitaker’s articles, not Colin’s summaries. There arfe sa range of opinion on this blog, all critical of mental health system.
    Colin writes” One of these unknowns is why and how schizophrenia manifests in individuals in such idiosyncratic ways, as to make most attempts at prognosis, little better than a lottery. ” I don’t know what world you lived in Colin but I talked to 1000s of mental patients in the 1990s when I was most active. Virtually all were told they had a life-long disease from which tyhey would never recover. But your criticism are never of mental health professionals. YOu even concluded that patients got better without drugs,
    and yet when I told you that the APA party line said drugs were necessary just to keep patients from getting worse, you have nothing to say. The evidence of TD and brain damage from the drugs don’t bother you. YOu cheery pick what suits your fancy and have no criticisms of the harm inflicted on patients by APA policies. You assume the good will of shrinks when all the evidence points to opposite conclusion. You live in a bubble–and refuse to admit that your statement is insulting to patients. Again ” One of these unknowns is why and how schizophrenia manifests in individuals in such idiosyncratic ways, as to make most attempts at prognosis, little better than a lottery. ” NO NO NO. It’s not a lottery. The party line has always been that no schizophrenic can recover. It manifests in an idiosyncratic way because “it” is not an illness. It is a spiritual crisis that gets labeled schizophrenia. There is no mystery.
    YOu leave out all the relevant factors. You write “it would be a natural tendency that anyone who could go off meds without relapsing too harshly probably would do so with time, whilst those who experienced insurmountable problems whenever they tried, would probably remain on medicine either by choice or by coercion.” This is because the drugs are addictive. IT is also because some people are more trusting of their psychiatrists than others. The latter is what those of us critical of the system are trying to change. AS they lose their faith in psychiatry,patients have a better chance of getting off the drugs, rejecting the no hope diagnoses and getting better. You don’t even bother to read the randomized experiment which provide evidence the drugs undermine recovery/
    In 2013 Bob looked at new studies.I directed your attention to them buT you ignored them. Bob writes,”Wunderink has now provided psychiatry with a randomized study of long-term outcomes. In his study of adults with a first episode of psychosis, all patients were stabilized on antipsychotics for six months (n=128), and then they were randomized either to a “drug discontinuation/drug reduction” arm (the DR group), or to standard drug maintenance (the MT group.) In other words, this was a randomized study designed to see which treatment protocol produced better outcomes: tapering first-episode patients from their antipsychotics (or down to a low dose), or standard drug maintenance, at usual doses.” At the end of 7 years the low dose or no dose had a full recovery rate of about 40% vs 17.6% for the medicated group
    Since this study was randomized it leads to interpretation that the drugs impede long term recovery as the author concluded, ” “Antipsychotic postsynaptic blockade of the dopamine signaling system, particularly of the mesocortical and mesolimbic tracts, not only might prevent and redress psychotic derangements but also might compromise important mental functions, such as alertness, curiosity, drive, and activity levels, and aspects of executive functional capacity to some extent.”
    Bob also discusses Open Dialogue. No matter how you slice it there is no justification for long term use of “anti-psychotics.” Bob concedes that there are a small subset that might require them–20%–but I have argued that is because we don’t have a more flexible treatment model and sufficient resources in social and financial support.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Colin, Alright, you make a more modest case, and acknowledge that the study at least shows that “anti-psychotics” don’t make a difference in long term successful
    outcomes. It certainly was claim of psychiatric industry for years that unless “schizophrenics” remained on neuroleptics they would decompensate and get worse. (Now many psychiatrists claim that neuroleptics are “neuro-protective.” )

    For example, in 1992 the APA published a book length Task Force Report on tardive dyskinesia. They acknowledged that a prevalence rate of 30–57% of tardive dyskinesia of patients who were on “anti-psychotics” (the range was great because many cases are masked by increasing the dosage of the neuroleptic) but still insisted long term administration of neuroleptics was the treatment of choice because “schizophrenia” was so devastating. Just showing patients got better without drugs debunked APA’s rationale for using drugs–to prevent patients from getting worse..

    There were other studies that were ignored.
    David Cohen wrote in special issue of The Journal of Mind and Behavior (1994, Vol 15 No’s 1–2))”Considerable evidence from controlled random assignment studies clearly shows that GIVEN THE PROPER SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT, most newly identified schizophrenics can be treated successfully with little or no psychotropic medication”(p144). Yet the APA and almost all psychiatrists ignored this evidence and continued to inflict TD and other disabling disorders on “schizophrenics.”
    How many million people people developed TD over the years because of the APA’s policies is anyone’s guess but TD reached
    epidemic proportions?

    I deon’t know how you define “less sick” but you originally claimed sicker clients took more “medication.” If your statement is not a tautology–meaningless–you need an operational definition of less sick–basically it comes down to appearances. My point is that many patients–no matter how “sick”– stopped taking the drugs not because they were less sick but because they did not like the side effects. Its side effects were as troubling to “severe” cases as
    to “mild ” cases. Also even mild cases were exhorted by their shrinks to take neuroleptics. Therefore there is no basis for your original contention that the phenomenon of undrugged patients getting better can be explained away with the claim that they were mild cases who needed less drugs and therefore took less.

    My own experience brought me into touch with many persons who were given prognoses of life-long illness who became activists and in conventional terms could be said to have recovered from “severe schizophrenia.” The Establishment’s response to high functioning activists was if they got better they were not really that sick to begin with. My point is this claim was used to justify long term use of drugs that were unnecessary and extremely harmful. Your original claim seemed to be that kind of apologetic: Patients who get off the drugs were obviously mild cases. It’s just not so. You wrote that ” severe schizophrenia and the tendency to use medicine correlate, whilst milder schizophrenia correlates with a diminished tendency to resort to medicine.”

    Yes there could have been other unknown factors that explained recovery in Harrow’s survey. By 1990 there was sufficient evidence, taking the TD epidemic into account, for the APA to recommend against long term use of neuroleptics.. Yet they continued to do the opposite, breaking the Hippocratic oath.

    Furthermore subsequent studie to Harrow’s discussed by Whitaker on this blog
    were randomized controlled studies–they showed that long term use of neuroleptics impeded the recovery process. I know that recovery was also impeded by self-fulfilling prophecies like “You have a life-long illness for which there is no cure.” This “prognosis,” repeated over and over by psychiatrists destroyed many patients lives. The ones I knew who got better got off the drugs and away from the mental death system.
    Your own practice may be more like Bert Karon’s or the Sullivanians than like the typical psychiatrist who followed the APA party line: “There is no cure for schizophrenia yet patients must take brain damaging drugs or they will get much worse.” I hope it is.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • “all we can conclude from the Harrow study is that severe schizophrenia and the tendency to use medicine correlate, whilst milder schizophrenia correlates with a diminished tendency to resort to medicine. That is of course exactly how it ought to be – one should only take medicine if one can’t manage without it.”
    This is a self-serving explanation that is clearly at odds with the facts. It is often the persons who manifest the most symptoms who refuse to take their “meds.” They are not eager beavers. Out-patient commitment was based upon the idea that many “sick” patients will refuse to take “anti-psychotics.” The last figure I read was 70%–70% of “schizophrenics” were “treatment-resistant.” If all those patients have such mild symptoms why must they be forced to take drugs? And if they have severe symptoms how come they are resistant? People don’t like to take “anti-psychotics” because they have such virulent “side-effects”–one might as well argue that “sicker” have even less tolerance for side-effects. Considering the wide-spread phenomenon of “non-compliance” as shrinks call it, the idea that the difference in outcome can be explained b y the likelihood that “sicker” patience are more likely to take neuroleptics
    is unpersuasive. Furthermore it does not explain the results of the WHO studies, or the more recent studies Whitaker surveys in articles on this website.
    The fact that you so easily dismiss the impact of eugenics only testifies to you own ignorance. Read The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould or The Legacy of Malthus by Alan Chase,
    Seth Farber, PhD.

  • Rossa, Richard, Yes well Bob is following in the tradition of Thomas Szasz–and R D Laing for that
    matter. They were the professionals to bring “schizophrenia” “out of the shadows.” Szasz put his finger on the mark when he titled his book, Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry.

    I think Richard Lewis is absolutely correct. I would add to it Szasz’s point that the belief in the construct of “schizophrenia” (and other “psychoses”) is the symbolic key to saving Psychiatry. Frances reminds me of the 19th century when psychiatrists were fighting to get control of the “lunatic asylums.”
    This was before Freud made it possible for psychiatry to colonize everyday life, and pathologize “normal” people . Frances’ middle way, is a rearguard battle. “Leave normal people alone” he is saying, “but we psychiatrists are the rightful custodians of the seriously mentally ill who need our medical treatments.”
    The 19th century psychiatrists were fighting against “lay” people who operated institutions, including the “moral reformers” who had a far better “recovery rate” in institutions for “lunatics.” Today Frances is fighting non-medicalist therapists and peer support groups in the survivors’ movement with the same message, “We are the rightful custodians of the mentally ill.”
    But as Richard notes these middle ground positions must b e exposed. Psychiatry is a sham–it would have fallen decades ago but it sold its soul to the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry which has turned America into a nation of people addicted to the most poisonous drugs.
    IT is the “lunatics” now who are leading the battle against these corrupt institutions. The “extremists” hope to see the fall of the psychiatric- pharmaceutical industrial complex and the revival of the tradition of mutual aid and
    indigenous healers.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Kayla, I don’t what you meant to write–“sesible” is not a word. Sensible. But your perceptive and ironic comments add to Philip’s article by showing the absurdity of Frances’ project. I have not read Frances’s latest piece. But it has longed seemed obvious that Frances is aiming his weapons at “psychotics” and those who don’t urge them to take neuroleptics. These were the original victims of psychiatry–particularly “schizophrenics:”– and Frances is really interested in “saving normal” or more aptly saving normals and containing and controlling the real abnormals, or saving schizophrenia, “the sacred symbol of psychiatry”, to quote Szasz. In other words saving schizophrenia is the same project AS saving normal. I don’t k now what his motivation is–probably a sentimental attachment to the paradigm, as Thomas Kuhn would say. It’s obvious as Hickey points out there are no scientific grounds for the distinction. If pressed he’d probably say something specious and banal like the good clinician is not merely a scientist but an artist—as if a real artist is a poisoner and not a radical social critic –like Artaud.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D. The Spiritual Gift of Madness…

  • Brooke,
    Thank you.
    Yes I think it’s easy for most people, with a little help, to escape the vise of Psychiatry. But not after–as Bob Whitaker has argued–they’ve been on neuroleptics for 20+ years.
    THe problem is it seems it harder for society as a whole to escape the vise of normal people–of the various centers of powers . Thus as Laing became convinced we re on a very pernicious trajectory—as a society governed by elites– that is leading to the extinction of humanity.Today it is not the threat of nuclear war which is threatening but environmental destruction, particularly from global warming. For this reason and others I am more worried about humanity’s prospect for the next hundred

  • Oldhead,
    Hi. Thanks
    Yes I think that is what Steve Spiegel meant but I don’t think he was clear.
    It goes back to Szasz and “the myth of mental illness” which reigned supreme during the long era of the dominance of psychoanalysis.
    The term’mental illness was always the stigmata inflicted upon those who had extreme experiences and came to attention of the experts. Once the label was applied the long string of violation of constitutional rights followed.

  • Steve,
    I agree with you if you are making the Szaszian point that even non-biological medical models like the psychoanalytical medical model
    (which Szasz debunked again and again) are mystifying and harmful. Today people think that biology psychiatry is the only medical model. But as soon as one talks about a mental disorder ot illness one is using a medical model–the root metaphor is “illness.”
    However you write, ” I do not believe that it is important to identify “’essentialist’ views” of biological etiologies to directly connect biological etiologies with prognosis pessimism and worse outcomes.” I don’t understand why you say it is unimportant. Unnecessary perhaps,s but it certainly strengthens the argument for
    using alternatives to drugging–which is today virtually the only “treatment” recommended for people who end up in the “mental health” system.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • What I said was not intended as a “personal attack,” registered… It was intended as advice. Acidpop had the same reaction as I did. Maybe there is something else you are not saying but you tell us you hate the SSRIs but you must take them because of a “shitty person” in your life. It
    makes no sense to blame another person–unless there are circumstances you chose not to reveal.
    Anyway you write. “I could quote several of your posts from your posting history and make similar insinuations about you as well. ” I don’t know how you could since I have not talked about my personal life here, and I don’t take SSRIs.(Maybe you have me confused with someone else) But if you think you could give me some insights into m y life based on my posts feel free to comment.
    Good luck,

  • there is something wrong with your story. I tyhink acidpop is write. IT’s not the drug, it is the “shitty”
    person you are addicted to. YOLu are doing this to yoiurself. And hyou’re leaving something out. YOLu could get off SSRI’s more slowly. There are 100s of books. Instead you say

    “I may take an SSRI (which I wouldn’t have to if I didn’t have a certain shitty person (and family problems) in my life who causes me tension) out of desperation, but I never want to be on them for more than two or 3 months. It’s okay for a short period of time. Other than that, I would rather be dead than be on SSRIs. Life to me is meaningless, with the kind of side effects SRIs have in me.”?
    You are doing this to yourself. And you blame it on “the shitty person.” Either end relationship with shitty person or stop complaining abolut him beding “shitty person” olr sert new limits. YOU arfe doing this to yourself and playikng victim …

  • This is eloquent and forceful critique, often astute.Congratulations. However I think it misses several points.
    First the Murphy bill and scapegoating of the “mentally ill” is not an example of “hysteria reaching the federal government,” and it ought not to be seen in isolation–it is part of the trend to elimination of democratic processes in the US and transformation of the US into a distinctive kind of totalitarian state. It should not be viewed in isolation from NSA intrusion into ALL Americans lives.
    Second the author implies that the chaos and violence that give rise to the Bill are random, or the byproduct of other processes such as growing inequality. The author writes,”the more chaos and violence within society the more governments and frightened citizens will continue to look for something and someone to blame.” Although the chaos is certainly partly due to social processes like growing inequality it is also true that the problem entails the DELIBERATE creation of violence and chaos in order to justify authoritarian measures that undermine the foundations of democracy.
    For example there is the administration of SSRIs by psychiatrists to unstable and rebellious teenagers despite the fact that it is known that SSRI–popular anti-depressants push many people–even a small but significant group of non-violent people -over the edge into insanity and homicidal rage. This has been documented in books by Dr Peter Breggin, Dr David Healy and Ann Blake Tracy, Ph.D. among others.
    Third, the question must be asked of the acts of violence used to justify these bills, such as schoolyard killings or other mass killings:Did these children or young people kids act alone on their own initiative?. There is reason to suspect that in many cases the official story is dubious. From Columbine to the Batman shooter to Sandy Hook, there are reasons for suspicion. Why for example in the Batman shooting did numerous witnesses report seeing a second shooter who was never apprehended? And in Sandy Hook was it possible for Adam Lanza to shoot so many bullets in such a brief time each time scoring a bull’s eye? Or was Lanza a patsy? The exploration of these inconsistencies can be found on youtube or on the excellent website
    Anyone who thinks my suspicions are those of a crackpot “conspiracy theorist” should read the real story of CIA agent Frank Olson (murdered by CIA).or the history of MK-Ultra or read John Hall’s new book Guinea Pigs or read the numerous literature by those associated with the 9/11 Truth movement, including books by theologian David Ray Griffin and Kevin Barrett.My point is that we may be dealing with deliberate creation of chaos and violence either by intelligence agencies or rogue elements within these agencies in order to scare the population into supporting greater surveillance and control–particularly of the” deviant”— and the dissident (protesters), I would add–as Hunter points out– by State agencies, as well as by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who demand more power to do exactly the things that create disturbed youngsters.
    Finally I’m surprised no one pointed out that psychiatrist Thomas Szasz was the first to draw an analogy between the mental health system and the Inquisition. The late Dr Szasz argued in The Manufacture of Madness that the witches were not traumatized citizens at all. Szasz would probably say that the interpretation above is akin to the modern day psychiatric explanation for the witch hunts– that the witches were unhappy mentally ill people. Szasz argues that they were indigenous healers, women, who were perceived as a threat to the Church. I think subsequent scholarship bears out Szasz’s interpretation.
    Despite my criticism the article was a well written and forceful critique of psychiatric labeling and Murphy’s project. Seth Farber, PhD

  • Of course there is a famous right-libertarian talk show host who has large audience and opposes the shadow government in America: Alex Jones. I was on his show two years ago attacking the Therapeutic State. His influence is limited because he is considered a conspiracy theorist and crackpot. On the “extreme” (Chomskyist) left if this show was done with gravitas I’m sure Amy Goodman would cover it on Democracy Now. Also I’m sure there would be a lawyer for Center for Constitutional Rights who would oppose. THe ACLU has become part of the establishment but CCR, lawyers for Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, has many interns one of whom with CCR backing would get behind this cause. You could also get Green Party candidate DR Jill Stein(MD) for what it’s worth to oppose it. There are also many small libertarian groups who would oppose it. This could revive the long slumbering movement(outside of anti-psychiatry sites like this–excuse the term) against coercion in psychiatry to become active again.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.,
    P.S. I think this is too divisive an issue for someone like Sanders( for whom I will vote, despite his imitations) to herald. It’s far more radical than the high price of prescription drugs. He sticks to several issues for which there is widespread support. Remember Sanders supported the bombing of Serbia and the war in Afghanistan. HE will likely define this as an issue for experts. (It;s worth a try—he might help to publicize it.) Rand Paul is far more likely, particularly since he can’t win>

  • Dr Lawhern, Nobody here is advocating nihilism but our values are completely different from your. I can’t help but start with one of our more successful “drop-outs.” Timothy Leary himself who coined the phrase, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Now it is true that most of the 60s’ generation ended up conforming. Leary dropped out. He even dropped out of CIA. And he made a living for himself writing books and giving speeches. And preaching his odd ideas. Ram Das was less marginal but he also rejected the egotism of capitalism, and embraced Hinduism.
    But admittedly we are talking about individuals. But there are other such individuals–like Alex. Or the “schizophrenics” wshose true stories I tell in my books. (See website.)
    You write:”Psychiatrists are not the inventors or (despite the large egos of some of the worst of their profession) the custodians of the term “normal”. The rest of us are.” Not exactly true. Shrinks play a major role. Until 1973 professionals considered homosexuality an illness. But that years things changed. Gay psychiatrists were tired of being marginalized and said so. They lobbied for change. AS a result the APA took a vote and decided by a narrow margin homosexuality was no longer an illness!!
    Alex IS too optimistic –the competitive corporate society we live in is so obsessed with making money that the elite is doing nothing about global warming. AS a result humanity may be extinct in 50-100 years. What kind of INSANE society is THAT?? Put the normates in the loony bin and let the inmates run the asylum (i.e. society). That is the only genuine solution. Psychiatrist R D Laing suggested that in 1967. How right he was!
    Seth Farber, PhD.

  • Paula,
    I wan to defend humanbeing against the psychiatrist thelonikousmonk. It was the latter whose posts were filled with ad hominem arguments and attacks on you and Bob Whitaker. He says,”Do you know what is “normal” and what is not, and how to measure it? Shall we say all are normal and just inappropriately “labeled”? ”
    In the light of that usurpation, humanbeing statement was very appropriate. He/she
    wrote: “I wouldn’t in a million years be what is considered ‘normal’ in this society.

    What is ‘normal’ and who defines it?

    That is not name calling. It is pointing out that psychiatrists have taken it upon themselves to define legitimacy. It is arbitrary at best. And humanbeing has an answer–not always available: drop out, don’t concede that huge power
    to the psychiatric Priesthood.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D

  • Thelonius,
    It’s not clear what your point is. You have nothing condtructive to contribute so you attack the messengers. Yu are wrong–the truth in itself can lead to great changes. Read for example Laura DElano’s story–in numerous articles here. Or my own books show how people have gotten better merely by getting off the drugs.
    It seems pointless to continue with you because you probably
    won’t work with those who need the mist. AS I fdiscovered n,any created it themselves,
    Seth Farber,Ph.D.

  • Hi Julie, I think this is a very good point often overlooked. Therapy is a business. I remember when I worked in a clinic before my position against drowning people in psychiatric drugs made me unemployable. I was scolded for telling a 21 client he was getting better (his presenting problem of depression was pretty much gone) and I reduced him to every other week. The supervising psychologist said this was irresponsible, even though it made my client feel even better. The supervisor was a Freudian and Freudians did that all the time, Tannan Dineen in her brilliant book discusses the techniques for Manufacturing Victims. There are many.

    The only alternative to this is to reorganize the economy–and the cultural premises upon which it is based. The false premise is that someone who does something is “earning her keep” even if its building bombs or putting black pot smokers in prison.

    Another premise that should be integral to therapy is the client not the therapist should be the judge on when to stop. It’s the clinics who have the interest in keeping the revenue source flowing. And that create a tendency to manufacture victims. The whole economic arrangement militates against the client’s good, the common good. This is true in almost every realm, so that income should not be entirely dependent on doing “work”–since so much work is destructive of the social good.

    So I don’t see that CBT is any worse than other modalities. The best are short term. And another premise, alluded to– there are many things therapeutic from becoming part of a group, to acquiring a pet, to falling in love. Things happen which is why passage of time is often as effective as therapy.

    But I must admit in the 1980s I found doing family therapy was a very effective modality. For all the reason mentioned. The therapist focused on the present, not the irreversible past. Therapy was intended to be short. Salvador Minuchin whom I studied with (1980s) advocated every other week for a few months, Haley’s maximum was a few weeks. And best of all there was no patient. The patient was the family.

    The most important goal was to extricate “patient” from “Identified Patient” role. This carried lasting benefits—a sense of abiding self respect. But it worked in the short term too. Minuchin did acknowledge there were dysfunctional families–but they were comprised of individuals whose strengths went unacknowledged in the pathologizing world of individual therapy in most cases.

    Minuchin became famous in the 1970s because he had a 95% cure rate with anorexics.
    For Minuchin–similar to R D. Laing–everything that happened in the family was about power. Since Susie’s parents did everything FOR her—a typical enmeshed family— not eating became her only way of asserting herself. I remember great videos of Minuchin sitting down to eat with the family and urging Susie not to eat. TYpically Minuchin would prevent the parents from assuming control over Susie as in “Susie you must eat your dinner or you will die.” Susxie was trapped in the role of ID. As soon as Minuchin normalized HER behavior and defined the parents as extremely intrusive, Susie felt free to develop more creative ways to assert herself. Then Minuchin would work on teaching Mom and Dad to do things together as husband and wife. Again the emphasis is on strengths, not “pathology” and on the present not the past. In just a few months you had “borderline personality disorders” and “narcissistic personality disorders “cured.”

    Whereas I had been taught as a psychoanalyst these was incurable. This was a revolution.. This could not last –it was not lucrative. When the drug companies were invited to take over, Susie was put on half a dozen drugs, and defined as a borderline with an eating disorder.

    Nothing can last as long as we live in a corporate dominated society. Dysfunctional therapy and the new Jim Crow and near term extinction global warming etc etc are themselves merely symptoms of capitalism which itself is a manifestation of a society based on the illusion that every person is a skin encapsulated ego. The solution here is based on a metaphysical shift in each soul. This is an issue raised by few therapist. These were the questions R D Laing raised in The Politics of Experience.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D., The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement

  • I just want to remind you that Szasz was a life-long member of the Libertarian Party. His mentors were von Mises and Von Hayek and American founders, so you are not talking about Michel Foucault. Although oddly Foucault thought Szasz’s work was important.
    You can find an affirmation of equality both on the right and left. Gordon Wood wrote The Radicalism of the American Revolution. The expansion of the welfare state represents a failure—a point made also by Christopher Lasch in The Revolt of the Elites. This is a long story but to pretend Szasz’s work has nothing to do with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship may be an interesting exercise but it turns Szasz into an armchair intellectual. It may pacify shrinks and academics but it is far more important to discuss what are–or were the unique potentialities of the American experiment–and its failures.
    I am not a conservative but I think John Dean (who turned in his boss,Nixon), a collaborator with Goldwater right before the latter’s death was correct to say in his recent books that conservatives in America are pseudo-conservatives. They don’t stand for any principles except greed. Anyway I agreed with Szasz it was far better to teach a man to fish, than to give him a fish.
    Szasz undersestimated the harm done to the country by the super wealthy elites–and he failed to note that these questions obsessed the mad who took their citizenship more seriously than most people. But he realized the harm done by psychiatric do-gooders. To put in in other terms Szasz realized that “the New Classs” (e.g. mental health professionals in public sector) did not serve the common good, a point even a Marxist could concede.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I just want to remind you that Szasz was a life-long member of the Libertarian Party. His mentors were von Mises and Von Hayek and American founders, so you are not talking about Michel Foucault. Although oddly Foucault thought Szasz’s work was important.
    You can find an affirmation of equality both on the right and left. Gordon Wood wrote The Radicalism of the American Revolution. The expansion of the welfare state represents a failure—a point made also by Christopher Lasch in The Revolt of the Elites. This is a long story but to pretend Szasz’s work has nothing to do with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship may be an interesting exercise but it turns Szasz into an armchair intellectual. It may pacify shrinks and academics but it is far more important to discuss what are–or were the unique potentialities of the American experiment–and its failures.
    I am not a conservative but I think John Dean (who turned in his boss,Nixon), a collaborator with Goldwater right before the latter’s death was correct to say in his recent books that conservatives in America are pseudo-conservatives. They don’t stand for any principles except greed. Anyway I agreed with Szasz it was far better to teach a man to fish, than to give him a fish.
    Szasz undersestimated the harm done to the country by the super wealthy elites–and he failed to note that these questions obsessed the mad who took their citizenship more seriously than most people. But he realized the harm done by psychiatric do-gooders. To put in in other terms Szasz realized that the New Classs did not serve the common good, a point even a Marxist could concede.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Trailler
    You force me to read MF’s piece again, and it bores me!. Yes I agree his intention were benign but there is no awareness of how indignant Szasz was as an American citizen at the treatment of the mad. You can find many references in Szasz but most are to the “foundering father” of our country.

    This idea to depict Szasz as an Epicurean is a fine way to take away the teeth from Szasz’s writings. Compare him to Paine or Jefferson or Madison or Lincoln–because it is obvious that is the tradition Tom identified with. And his project was to recover the basis of American Republic. Also compare him to the abolitionists. THis is why Szasz’s writing sizzle: He is an American patriot defending our tradition. His best book in the years before he died was Slavery and Psychiatry.

    Epicurus was not a fighter standing up for the rights of man. And IF MF presented Tom that way he would have been jeered not feted. He reduced Szasz to what I consider an irrelevancy and this he threatened no one b ut he makes Szasz’s project worth no more than a footnote in history at best.

    In 1991 Tom wrote a forward to my 1973 book–oddly since the book had a Laingian theme. One of my argument was the people who escaped the system
    were having spiritual death-rebirth experience that were pathologized by Psychiatry. Szasz may have disagreed but he did not even mention it in his Foreword. What was important to him was I showed how destructive the system was. He did criticize my subjects for seeking help from Psychiatry in the first place. In my opinion both Laing and Szasz made huge contribution.

    The broader perspectives: Laing was a critic of modern society. Szasz was infuriated because he was a believer in the basic principles
    of the American republic. That is why Szasz simmers with anger whereas MF’s version of Szasz puts one to sleep. The moral indignation is gone.

    Now if you see Szasz as a subversive and citizen in the tradition of abolitionists you can understand his anger. You can also come up with a more cogent explanation for why there are so few Szaszian psychiatrists. You poo-poo it, Trailler, but it is critical. Szasz was silenced, Leifer was fired. He had tenure so they paid him his check but thery would not allow him to teach medical students.Psychiatry did not want people going around calling it bogus medicine and unAmerican in the tradition of slave-owners. Had Szasz been allowed to teach–I repeat-you’d have 100s–at least– of Szaszian psychiatrists, antibodies to the Psychiatric suppression of liberty, contractual psychiatrists who refused to become servants of the state. That is why Szasz “failed” and any other explanation is just a cover-up for Psychiatry. AS to shirking responsibility of freedom–that is why I said there would be 100s of Szaszian psychiatrists, rather than the APA would have switched to a Szaszian model.
    Seth Farber, PhD. ,

  • Thanks Trailler
    Basically I just wanted to point out that Szasz was censored by the academy. If you want to construe Szasz as a philosopher offering intellectual nostrums like Epicurus, that’s fine. That is not how the majority of people on this page, including me, see him. He was a psychiatric abolitionist– a fairly recent book was Slavery and Freedom. That sets the bar higher.
    But even so—and you ignore my main point to retreat again to a realm of abstractions–had SUNY not prevented Szasz from teaching and hsd Szasz’s supporters not been fired, I submit you would have 100s of Szaszian
    psychiatrists today fighting against coercive psychiatry and Michael would not be writing books comparing him unfavorably to Epicurus. He might have a different critique, but those on this page would agree the country would be better off.

  • Hi Paula,
    Good to see you.
    ” I read them in connection with my attempts to assist eight women (only women volunteered bravely to do this) who each filed a complaint with the American Psychiatric Association’s Ethics Committee about damage done to her — or in one case, to her brother, leading to his death — that had all begun with being given DSM-IV labels.”
    This is exactly what I have found. It is still the medical model that is at the root of the problem. And as you say it has consequences for people in all areas of their life. I could give other examples. For example an elderly acquaintance in a nursing home (She’s perfectly lucid when I talk to her) who cannot get medical treatment because she is told it’s “all in her head.”
    And irony of irony the lady had great pain from arthritis that she used to alleviate with Vicodin. SNow she can’t get any narcotics to alleviate her pain because they say she’s an addict. I say it’s ironic because they force her to take neuroleptics. She lost her rent controlled apartment when she was given a guardian–and a new DSM label. I could tell you of even more ghastly cases, the woman who was blinded by her deranged violent roommate in a state hospital (Trenton Psychiatric Hospital where Joseph Cotton once reigned does not protect their non dangerous clients from criminals and NJ passed a law exempting themselves from liability) where she did not belong because she had Medicare and the schizophrenic label. Her presenting problem was “OCD.” And the labels never go away. They follow the patient like scarlet letters….. I could go on and on.
    Seth Farber, PhD., [email protected] The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement Inner Traditions, 2012)

  • Mary
    It took me 15 minutes to discover Lars Martensson died in 2009. There is very little written on him, perhaps less in English. I could not even find a single obituary. (Nothing on Wikipedia.) He wasone of the most eloquent writers on neuroleptic drugs, a pioneer—too little known here, and too little is known about him. I have no idea how old he was. I can infer over 70. That’s all.

  • Trailller-vous,
    Of course one can’t reduce Szaszx work to one central idea. But if you look at all his books, including his more recent book Slavery and Psychiatry (2006?)it seems clear to me that the civil rights of those persons who become mental patient is a central concern of Szasz and one he argues for better than anyone else. Szasz wrote as a citizen–one who had inherited the legacy of the founders, and fought to advance and protect it.
    I was looking over Michael’s article and he says at the end that Szasz failed–a poor choice of words–because people are afraid of responsibility Erich Fromm said that all his life. This is interesting because Michael implied Szasz had a thick concept of freedom, and that it included freedom to, as well as freedom from. I agree.
    I think that was one of the weaknesses (I don’t want to say”failures”) of Szasz–unlike Fromm he never filled that in. I don’t think he ever discussed what he did with his clients, how he inspired them to embrace freedom–never includes one discussion.
    But what would success mean for Szasz?. I think Michael has defined it too high But he not completely off. It would have meant there was a large school of Szaszian psychiatrists and psychiatrists influenced by Szasz in America. (And other professionals, as a consequence.) Face it. There are almost none. Jeffrety Schaler PhD his protege is a psychologist, Ron Leifer MD was a neo-Szaszian (he is a progressive, not a libertarian but he was unable to get a job teaching and then among those who write there are about 10 professionals influenced by him. They write here and include me, David Cohen, probably Bruce Levine. Peter Breggin, MD is the only psychiatrist strongly influenced by Szasz (he was his student)–but they don’t talk to each other. MICHAEL IS RIGHT FOR THE WRONG REASONS. Szasz
    was silenced by SUNY, SYRACUSE. They would not allow him to speak publicly to med students after THe Myth of Mental Illness was published. HAD SZASZ NOT BEEN SILENCED CUNY WOULD HAVE BECOME A CENTER OF SZASZIAN THOUGHT. Hollander knew that and that is why he silenced Szasz and fired Ron Leifer and ERnest Becker. HAd Szasz not been silenced I believe there would be at least a thousand Szaszian and Szasz influenced psychiatrists today. They would be an influential minority.
    Process theology is esoteric but thanks to Claremont Institute there
    are a few thousand clergy and educators who believe in process theology.Schools of theology spread because they had a center where students went to learn, e.g., University of Chicago (Eliade), Union Theological (a range of liberal theologians often with radical political views), Princeton Theological–a center for Calvinism. (I realize the limits of the analogy but imagine thousands of med students taking Szasz’s classes at a public University! ) Michael fails to take into account that if Szasz failed it was because the establishment put a sock in his mouth and made sure his influence was restricted to those hyper- intellectuals who read his books–not medical students with a desire for another perspective. (Laing was slightly more successful since some of his students created a Laingian space at Duquesne University. I am critical of the reduction of Laing’s thought to phenomenology)
    Part of the tragedy of the mental health system stems from the fact that in the late 1970s Psychiatry willingly placed their power in the pharmaceutical companies–they changed their rules so they could accept drug money. Had Szasz not been silenced there would be a large faction fighting this, screaming when Dr Joe Biederman took millions of dollars from Johnson and Johnson to propagate a new illness: childhood(“pediatric”) bipolar disorder–and said Risperadol(made by J and J) was the best treatment.(His test was bogus.) Biederman should have gone to prison—-think of all the very active kids who are labeled bipolar and kept on drugs forever. Instead he went to teach in Florida. Harvard found him an embarrassment and fired him. As he basks on the beaches in the Florida sun I hope he thinks of the millions of kids whose lives he has ruined. If a 3 year old has a temper tantrum instead of being sent o his room, parents are taught to put her on strong drugs–Risperadol is an “anti-psychotic” and it causes diabetes, cardiovascular problems, tardive dyskinesia, and apathy. Great training for a career as a mental patient. The same kid who in 1970 would have been sent to his room.
    Michael points out that recently the British counterpart to the APA endorsed Szaszian ideas–rejected the medical model– without mentioning Szasz. This is evidence that Szasz’s ideas would have spread here among psychiatrists if he wasn’t silenced.
    Trailler writes:”The notion that the issue of psychiatrists refusing to release patients has most to do with either violence or inability of the patient to care for himself is hyper-proclaimed. What goes on most often is that psychiatrists want you to thank them or want your “friends and family” to see who’s boss, so that they will know who to call when they tire of you.” It is true that hospital psychiatrists make the decision. While the psychological factors Trailler mentions are true there is a stronger systemic factor. The patient will be kept there if there are empty beds and Medicaid will pay the bill. Then the shrinks and the staff will see danger and pathology—and money, money money.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • You have to translate the description of Continuity of Care from psychobabble–in American Journal of Public Health, to English to realize
    how it functions and what its goal is. (It really is necessary to do this because many people don’t know.) “The purpose of outreach and transitional residential programs is to enhance clients’ “housing readiness” by encouraging the sobriety and compliance with psychiatric treatment considered essential for successful transition to permanent housing. ” “Compliance with psychiatric treatment” means willingness to take (toxic) psychiatric drugs. The goal is conformity with the medical model and clients for the pharmaceutical companies. And “housing readiness”means subservience to the “mental health” authorities.

    Housing First is given a little money thus illustrating that a policy of tokenism is now implemented, unlike the years when Loren Mosher toiled unsuccessfully to get funding for non-drug programs after he was fired from NIMH as punishment for the success of Soteria Project. But while token programs may continue to provide necessities to the socially marginalized many more persons will be conscripted into programs where they will be forced to “comply” with “psychiatric treatment” thus expanding the market for drug companies and psychiatric drug pushers. How will those who don’t want to pay the price of tardive dsykinesia, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes etc survive? Will they be forced to choose living on the street as the alternative? It may very well be a lesser evil. It is moot whether they will live any longer in our cold wet climes, but at least they will retain their dignity, at least they will not succumb to psychiatric slavery–as Szasz put it.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • It’s not even predicated on “principle of recovery.” In the early 1990s the APA did a Task Force report on tardive dyskinesia. They finally bluntly acknowledged it caused TD in most long term users but they said “schizophrenia” was such a dreadful disease and the risk of decompensation without “meds” so high that patients had to learn to live with TD. Now we know this is bs, that the neuroleptics
    reduce chances of recovery and over time increase chances of hospitalization. But it doesn’t matter. The party line is psychotics have to live with diabetes, amputation, heart attacks etc because the “psychoses” are such dreadful diseases. In fact in violation of constitutional prohibition
    against cruel and unusual punishment, ” non-compliant” patients will be forced to ingest these poisons. Hail to Moloch!
    Seth Farber,Ph.D.

  • I can answer that here. Gloria has not seen an ophthalmologist who has training in restoring vision to remaining eye. Disability Rights said they would use their power to make sure Gloria was taken to a master eye surgeon\ophthalmologist.
    On this past Saturday Gloria woke up and could see!! That proved the previous eye surgeon was wrong. Her sight only lasted 10 hours/. But it is all the more reason to demand Gloria be taken to a top ophthalmologist in NJ/NY! CALL DISABILITY RIGHTS AND DEMAND THEY USE THEIR POWER SO GLORIA CAN SEE AN OPHTHALMOOGIST.
    AS for Christie, Trenton is threatening to take Gloria back there. Gloria wants to be in a group residence near Jeff–in Brooklyn or Manhattan, hopefully for visually impaired not the mental death system
    Trenton Psych is 1) dangerous and 2) It is a place for warehousing
    the “mentally ill” jut like in the 50s and 40s and before . Gloria deserves better.
    More details on Julie’s page.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Laing popularized this idea in his most underrated and most well known book The Politics of Experience (1967). A year later Julian Silverman wrote “Shamanism and Acute Schizophrenia,” published in American Anthropologist. Anyone who has read on shamanism can’t help but see the parallels between the neophyte shaman’s initiation and psychotic “breakdown.” Mircea Eliade
    wrote before Prigogone but the point was the same. “The return to primordial chaos” makes possible a new creation. The shamanic initiation often involves the experience of having one’s body torn apart
    and then reconstituted. My first book, Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt Against the Mental Health System provided more evidence for this argument. Oddly Szasz wrote the Foreword to my book despite its Laingian strains. (It seems for a few years after Laing premature death Tom’s feelings toward Laing had softened.) I could go on citing more and more evidence. My latest book focuses more on madness and social change, but it does discuss those who saw madness as individually regenerative–John Weir Perry, Anton Boisen etc. The same argument could be made for Douglas’ crisis–although he wasn’t labeled “schizophrenic.”.
    But most people are caught–captured– during this time of vulnerability, or put themselves in the hands of the psychiatric butchers. Thus as I wrote “yesterday’s shaman is today’s chronic schizophrenic.” Whereas a breakdown used to be a prelude to a breakthrough, and frequently still is–as people from Laing to Whitaker have shown the mental health sysatem defines any crisis as symptom of a mental illness and inducts the souls in crisis into careers (Goffman) as chronic mental patients. No one in grad school even reads Laing or chaos theory today. The patients are drugged, indoctrinated, terrified and cajoled into
    accepting the identity of the chronic mental patient. Until the psychiatric-pharmaceutical complex is destroyed, the extraordinary spiritual potential of our great spirits or of modest but keenly sensitive souls will continue to be destroyed by the “mediocre minds” (Einstein) who are certain that their impoverished vision of human possibility must be foisted on everyone as “reality.” Those who propagate this vision of reality currently have no motive to change–like the MIC, or PIC the PPIC is big business. AS Peter Breggin showed in Toxic PsychiatryPsychiatry made its deal with the Devil in the late 70s. Now it’s up to those modern shamans who escape psychiatry’s clutches to bring the system down.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Sure thanks you could send this to any reporter in Philadelphia, or I’ll send it. (It contains link to TRenton Times). I’ll talk to anyone (212 560-7288)The lawyer problem is difficult because Gloria is incoherent now., They’ve driven her crazy. And she doesn’t want to sue. It would take a canny lawyer. Disability Rights says they think they have a lawyer. I’m told a D.R. lawyer would not go for blood–she’d mediate between government and Gloria. So it would take a smart lawyer to understand Gloria’s ambivalence.
    [email protected]

  • Joe, I don’t know the details but skimming those reports I get the feeling that had Gloria been more cooperative I might very well have been able to get Gloria out of there by talking to MHLS attorney which I offered to do– but she did not want me to intervene because she trusted the system, and did not want me to alienate them. It’s hard to say. Gloria lived in a group home. After the assault Jeff found out they kept her room (the brother sent her disability money over there each month–even though he had stopped talking to Gloria) for 5 months.. I don’t know if Gloria was on CEPP but the group home held on to her room for 5 months. Maybe they expected Gloria to be released in 6 months–but when they did not hear from Trenton they gave away her room. The shrinks at Trenton and the judge kept Gloria at Trenton going on 7 months. WE expected her to be released in June then in August but each time the hospital said Gloria was “too sick” to function—in a group home!!. I think it was all about money. he MHLS lawyer probably said nothing—but no one was looking over him. Would that have made a difference? So it sounds like they were violating the spirit of those agreements. They should have let her go back to group home but Trenton said she wasn’t “communicating.” She WAS taking showers. She kept to herself, talked to Jeff 5 times a day, and patiently waited for the authorities to decide her fate. Like a little lamb led to the slaughter…. I don’t know what to make of it.

  • Hi Joe,
    Jeff doesn’t have access to a computer, nor the discipline to read all this. I wrote the article.
    I am Seth Farber, a dissident psychologist. (See above)
    Probably the editor removed my reference to Cotton after I submitted article. I am well aware of what Cotton did.
    What you say is exactly right: Gloria received the opposite of what was promised. And now we can’t even get her a lawyer.
    I do not know what you mean in the 2nd paragraph You describe “Conditional Extension Pending Placement status.” They kept Gloria in a state mental hospital for over 4 months–over 6 months. I thought they should have returned her to her group home0–she was not dangerous. Are you saying they were under an obligation to do so?. The judge authorized psychiatrists’ insistence that she needed more treatment. Gloria would not let me talk to her MHLSK lawyer because she trusted the system.
    If you want to talk to Jeff he’d be pleased to get any support., He’s at 718-338-3234
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • That the so-called mentally ill are incapable of intimacy was a dogma of the version of the medical model taught when I was in grad school–psychoanalysis. Those who fit into that category were a wide swathe, not only “schizophrenics” but all the personality disorders. For example borderline, narcissistic personality disorder etc. These people according the psychoanalytic narrative were injured in their early “oral” phase of life. Therefore they could never love. They were frozen in a schizoid state. R D Laing first book–The Divifrf took this awful position–a position Laing soon strongly repudiated (although not necessarily the “Laingians.”
    Besides Laing and Szasz and a few mavericks the first school to reject this perspective were the original family therapists, people like Jay Haley, Carl Whitaker, Savador Minuchin. The did not believe pathology was inside an individual. In fact the identified patient was often the most aware.

  • “There must be others – lawyers, doctors and mental health professionals, human rights activists/organisations, politicians even, people in authority, who would wish to do something to address this particular injustice.” Yes but I’m wondering if they exist in NJ.
    IT is such a right-wing state–exemplified by their fat Governor… But my goal of writing this article and going on radio (besides educating on how f-ed up the mental health system and society) is to get Gloria a lawyer.
    Now that she’s blinded she doesn’t qualify to go back to halfway house. If we don’t get her a lawyer she may very well end up back in the state mental hospital. She should not been in group home either but…
    Someone (Julie) started a FB page–Hope for Gloria.

  • Ted, Yes and the other social institutions show the same indifference.
    There may be no recourse for Gloria–as extreme as her situation is. Dennis Feld tells me he’s won cases like this. But it seems the lawyers in NJ are all mercenaries. And they don’t want to gamble on a case they might lose, a case that would require expert witnesses. Although a good lawyer could win and make money as well as doing a good deed it would be a gamble—for a number of reasons.The two main reasons are Gloria is a mental patient, and a state hospital has limited sovereign immunity.
    That would require a lawyer with a social conscience—and I don’t know if they exist in Jersey. Which means the hospital could be guilty of criminal negligence but since Gloria can’t afford to pay a lawyer she remain at mercy of Trenton Hospital in whose custody she still is. She is in rehab now but always accompanied by an orderly from Trenton.

  • Bluesky, I have been writing from this perspective for years–I am a dissident psychologist. My recent book on the Mad Pride movement– as a new phase of the survivors’ movement–is in the tradition of R D Laing.
    I wrote a number of brief articles on the theme of my book. They have the link to my book on Amazon, The Spiritual Gift of Madness

    You can contact me at [email protected]
    Seth Farber,Ph.D

  • Oh you noted that. Does that mean that we cannot quote critics of the medical model? Szasz, Laing, Goffman etc?
    Discussion to consensus on the talk page?. On the Wikipedia talk page? How can we possibly expect consensus with NAMI types patrolling these entries? THis is not democratic. Someone posts the official APA view of “psychosis” and the epigones label any dissenting positions “subjective,” “biased”–it’s a good modern way to silence heretics, ie those who reject the dominant paradigm.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Marksps, You’re right. It’s there. Fantastic. That saves me an hour or so. Now if can we overcome the other obstacles to keeping revisions up….
    THe original article is so dull-reflecting the mediocrity of the mental health establishment that if we don’t put it near the top I doubt many people will read it. And below someone said there is a list of canonical journals–the rest are unacceptable.

  • ” I don’t know how to find your edit, Seth, but maybe you can paste it back? Maybe it is an idea to not take it in the beginning to not provoke too much? Anyway, with your caliber, you can match anyone in the justification for why you post!”
    Yes I did not copy the damn ting. I did at first, but it’s gone. So it will take me an hour including the references to reconstruct. I don’t have time now. Eventually I’ll re- do it. I put it in the beginning because you said it would have the most impact.
    Oh there’s a talk page for justification. Thanks. Yes I can do that. To talk about psychosis and not mention Szasz and Laing is pure censorship. It’s presenting the official view as if it’s the only reality.

  • Kjetl
    Obviously this idiot is going to say we are biased no matter how many references we have. “Bias and personal opinion is generally not tolerated” he’/she says. He forgot to add “unless it is the bias of the APA or any of the official organs in charge of manufacturing consent.” And who AUTHORIZED him to remove our additions? On a stylistic level alone it is now colorless and boring. That is how APA propaganda is. He substituted propaganda for information and he calls this “objective.”
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • John, An apology for what? I took time off a busy schedule (I do my best work at odd hours) to give you exactly what you asked for– guidance. I myself could not believe it was so easy because I’m a klutz with the computer. I left out a word though. “All you need do is CLICK ON “edit.””
    I also could not believe adding references was mostly automatic. What I do is to write the first and copy and paste the symbol to close references
    I’m not a 22 year old computer wiz. I’m probably your age –over 60.

  • Copycat
    Why do you say so that ” somebody [on MIA may change the information back”…?
    Are we not all working together here? Even if we don’t all agree, don’t we have a consensus
    that we are against the medical model? Why would someone from MIA change it “back” to establishment version?
    I don’t think it is a god idea to take things off. It is better to refute them.
    I just added a few sentences to psychosis, taking Kjetil’s and Chaya’s advice. About 4 sentences on Szasz’s and Laing’s modification of the dominant view/ I think it fits in with
    Kjetil’s changes although K. uses medical terminology, as Bob does. But I’m not expecting it to be written as I would write it–just to undermine the establishment view and present alternatives.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.
    I did not havce time to register on FB. But I’ll report my addition here.

  • Clearly RonW had internalized psychiatric ideology before he concluded his friend went crazy because he stopped taking his “medications.” We don’t know how long his friend was off his ” meds.” but let’s assume it was long enough to have an effect. Anyway who has read any of the critics of psychiatric drugs, say Dr Peter Breggin, knows that anyone who stops taking the drug abruptly is almost certain to have withdrawal effects. This is why all the critics urge patients to go gradually, slowly. You will never hear a psychiatrist (other than the dozen critics) utter the word “withdrawal effects”, let alone addiction. But the best way you can be a friend is to warn him of the long- term effects of the drugs he was on, and probably still is–certainly a neuroleptic (i.e., “anti-psychotic”) azd probably a SSRI–common effects include tardive dyskinesia, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, Parkinson, obesity,mania etc.

    You’re on Bob Whitaker blog yet you tell the standard psychiatric story- propaganda: The illness came back as a result of his not taking his “meds.” Even if you had no skepticism about psychiatry, a scientist doesn’t just ignore the many other variables involved. You write: “Colleague #1 went back to the drug and has been fine ever since. I don’t know what the drug is, but that drug seems to be helpful whatever it is” That is a nice little fairy tale but there is not going to be a happy ending. Not unless you or your friend actually read the articles or books by some of the posters here–I don’t mean Dr Fontaine. I mean Bob Whitaker’s last book, Dr Joanna Moncrieff, Laura Delano(survivor) , And Dr Breggin latest book on how to get off psych drugs–or my first book, Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels, with stories of people–‘psychotics’– who got off drugs–‘meds.’. Then–if it’s not too late–you have a chance of getting him off those poisons before they kill him–they actually shorten life expectancy by 20 –30 years in addition to all the other ways they incapacitate one.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Ron writes,
    ” The problem with that though is that there are way more people worried about what to do about distressed and confused people than there are people worried about how the existing system has flaws and often hurts people, so unless we can address both issues at once, we aren’t likely to get the broad support we need.”

    You express the premise that is the problem. There is a solution to the first–social control disguised as mental health. Because this solution worked, the” mind police” (who are well remunerated) had no need to look for a different solution.
    Those worried about the destructiveness of the system were viewed as problems–social control was not working.

    Michael keeps insisting that the social control agents had no conflict of interests with survivor-activists and heretics.

    As if had Szasz been more clear he could have convinced the former group.

    Those who spoke up for Szasz lost their tenure, e.g. Ron Leifer.
    The authorities thought that to criticize the flaws in the social control system
    made one a problem for the social controllers.

    The solution for problems in living created a problem for social control.

    You cannot eliminate the social control problem AND solve the problem in living by fostering autonomy. It is a zero-sum game.

    The only way Szasz could have succeeded is if he built an enormous movement of radical mental patients. (For that you m need money.)
    It seems neither of you understand that. Szasz did.
    Although he might have slightly more effective
    Had he joined with Mosher and demanded more Soteria Projects.

  • Since I’m already on moderation I will take a chance at saying this. I don’t think it is right for a teacher, a professor, to characterize a book whose argument he does not remember. Thus when Michael was asked if he had not been careless when he said Szasz compared psychiatrists to witches he responded:

    ” ‘ Psychiatrists to witches? Do you mean inquisitors?’ No. Surprising as it may seem, in Manufacture of Madness Szasz argues that psychiatrists correspond to witches, whereas mental patients correspond to the bewitched. It’s certainly a counterintuitive argument, so I invite you to read the book for yourself.”

    This clearly implies Dr Fontaine, an authority on philosophy, had read and was familiar with the book. If I had read the above characterization and had never read Szasz I doubt I would have been inspired to read the book. I might have even wondered why the subtitle was: “A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement.” But I would not have doubted Dr Fontaine’s expertise on this book by Szasz.

    If you have read The Manufacture of Madness and do not remember that psychiatrists are compared to the Inquisitors who tormented and murdered “witches,” the book has not made a profound or lasting impression on you. I believe it is unethical to authoritatively characterize an author’s argument that you only vaguely remember. Michael says he read the book so I will assume he has. As I showed above this is an egregious mischaracterization of what I consider one of the 3 greatest books on the “mental health system” — and one of the greatest books on the human condition. I also am somewhat of a feminist. Thus I take offense to claiming Szasz equated one of our most powerful and destructive elites to a poor group of harmless women who did not hurt anyone but were the victims of authority. Just as “mental patients” are today. I think Szasz would have objected also.

    PS There is nothing wrong with saying, “I think so but I don’t remember the book well enough to discuss it.”

  • RonW,
    Michael claimed that Szasz failed to” repeal” the mental health system because of his lack of clarity.
    Later he seems to contradict himself and claims says Szasz “failed” to attract followers because his idea of responsibility was not appealing.
    I have been critical of many of Szasz’s ideas– for example his Libertarian argument that the government has no responsibility to redistribute money to aid people in need. So it is not a matter of people not tolerating criticism of Szasz. But the criticism of Szasz must be fair. I strongly object to Michael’s first criticism because it is absurd. I will not repeat the argument I made above but I will say it is unfair because Szasz brilliantly and clearly expressed his ideas. And it is to my mind based on the premise that had Szasz’s “failure” must have pointed to a lack of clarity as if the skewed maldistribution of power between the psychiatric-pharm complex and its critics and victims was irrelevant..

  • MadinCanada you read one book by Szasz which you read too superficially to understand–as Oldhead points out Szasz did not believe in mental illness so to seeks its causes is misleading –and I would add exacerbates, reifies and perpetuates the presenting problem. That was Szasz’s point and his writing can be extremely empowering to people like your son. He was not interested in what caused “mental illness” but in what kept
    people as chronic patients. But you need to read him carefully to benefit from his work.
    To dismiss him as a simpleton is an indication that you have not understood his project. If you want a book on the causes of distress etc read Peter Breggin’s Toxic Psychiatry. Or the causes of madness read my first book, Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels…

    It is easier to dismiss our prophets and iconoclasts as simpletons than to exert the discipline and tolerate the cognitive dissonance they cause. For exampleit’s easy to read a few pages by Chomsky and dismiss him as an unpatriotic ideologue. Read a little Isaiah, Jesus, Dorothy Day and the Berrigan brothers and dismiss them as idealists who did not understand war is allegedly necessary and politics requires compromising principles. Martin Luther King Jr was a critic of American military power and domestic class warfare (like Occupy Wall St) but today he is celebrated by our political elites as a sort of black Santa Claus who uttered vapid clichés and posed no threat to corporate America. Laing was dismissed as a romantic who did not understand the realities of schizophrenic. If you don’t make an effort to read and focus you will just parrot the received wisdom of our culture. But at what social cost? At what cost to your own individual growth?

  • You read one book by Szasz and conclude he “over-simplified” the causes of “mental illness!
    But as oldhead points out Szasz did not believe in mental illness and thus to look for its causes was misleading–and I would add it exacerbates, reifies and perpetuates the original presenting problem. Had you read Szasz more carefully MadinCanada you might have understood what you were reading. And learned from it.
    But this is a good way to handle our great prophets and iconoclasts, men and women who would have us reexamine our most comfortable myths., Read superficially a tiny fraction of their work and then dismiss them as simpletons who don’t understand the complexity of life. Thus Isaiah and Jesus, Dorothy Day and the Berrigan brothers could be dismissed as ieewalists who don’t understand the reality of politics and the necessity of war. Laing was dismissed as a romantic who would not face the reality of mental illness. Read a few pages of Chomsky and dismiss him as an unpatriotic ideologue. So much easier than actually making the effort to understand him.And it spares all that cognitive dissonance. Or dismiss Whitaker as an anti-drug fanatic. In his day Martin Luther King Jr was also dismissed by those who never read his work. Today his subversive ideas on imperialism and class warfare (similar to Occupy Wall St but more caustic) have been disappeared and he has been transformed into a vapid purveyor of sentimental clichés–a vapid icon celebrated by both corporate parties.
    This strategy obviates the need to look within, to see the root of our problems in our own societies or psyches. We need not exert the intellectual discipline it requires to understand a Szasz or a Chomsky or Foucault who prophesized the omniscient totalitarian national security state AND the Therapeutic State. It’s so much easier to read a few pages and dismiss them as simpletons than it would be to actually seek to understand them. But at what social cost?
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Zilboorg clkaims, I mean,–I repeat–that witches were really mentally ill people who were misconstrued as “witches” by the Church and persecuted. Szasz does not claim that witches have any continuity with schizophrenics. That is psychiatric propaganda–an effort to take on the role of the Church. It is the PROCESS that is tyhe same. On the one hands you have the manufacture of withcraft–woimen who sealed their pact with the Devil through
    sodomy. On the other hand you have the manufacture of madness.
    The later derives it legitimacy through the former which it replaces.
    Now Later I’ll look for that Szasz book. What Foucault may have been saying is that the women who were indigenous authentic healers were replaced by psychiatric charlatans.“What’s strong and important in Szasz’s work is to have shown that the historical continuity doesn’t go from witches to madness, but from the institution of witches to the one of psychiatrists.” This is an illegitimate usurpation.
    But this is not the main theme of Szasz book which is “the manufacture of madness.” Usually Szasz is critical of leftists like Foucault–but Foucault had greaT respect for Szasz–and passed that on to his buddy Laing. SF

  • I’ll have to look for that book later.(I have it–it’s rare for Szasz to quote Foucault whom he disliked.) But clearly you have not read The Manufacture of Madness. What you write here is true:”Szasz disputed Zilboorg’s traditional interpretation that the mental patients of today were identical with the witches of the early modern period.” That doesn’t mean the analogy does not equate witches with mental patients. THe Psychiatric revisionist account posits–as I said above already–that witches were mentally ill. That the Church persecuted the mentally ill. Szasz disputes this as he denies the existence of mental illness! AS I said the witches were indigenous healers persecuted by the priests.Just as witches and heretics were formerly persecuted by the Church, the Inquisition, in our era deviants are persecuted by Psychiatry. So of course Szasz does not agree with the Psychiatric view of Zilboorg. He claims–I repeat–that witches were really mentally ill people who were misconstrued as “witches” by the Church and persecuted.” This is Psychiatric Whiggery. Szasz argues –correctly –that there is no such thing as mental illness. THe witches neither had sex with the Devil(as the priests claimed) nor showed any “symptoms” of “psychosis.” as Psychiatry claims. They were for the most part indigenous healers.
    Now if you hold that in mind you can see the scandal that continues today. Just as social deviants were persecuted as “witches” by the Church so today social deviants are persecuted by the Mental Health movement. The construct witch is a fiction invented by the Church. And the construct “schizophrenic” is fiction invented by Psychiatry. Now in order to establish its hegemony the Psychiatric “historians” rewrite history and claim the heretics persecuted by the Church were really mentally ill.. There is neither mental illness or witchcraft. Both are inventions of the powerful. Seth (TO BE CONTINUED)

  • OK
    Here is the first reader from Amazon . I could also quote from a joiurnal review. But they all say the same thing. Michael has imagined or invented
    a book Szasz never wrote. Micael Fontaine writes above”…, in Manufacture of Madness Szasz argues that psychiatrists correspond to witches, whereas mental patients correspond to the bewitched. It’s certainly a counterintuitive argument, so I invite you to read the book for yourself.” I read the book 3 times so I know Michael either lied or
    imagined this.
    Here is the description on AmazOn

    The Manufacture of Madness is a fine historical analysis of psychiatry and the mental health movement, drawing comparisons between the medical establishment’s treatment of deviants as mental patients and the Inquisition’s treatment of deviants as witches. Radical, perhaps, although it must have seemed much more radical in 1970, when first published. Dr. Szasz knew his material well, having worked for twenty years as a psychiatrist in this country prior to writing the book.
    His views were considered heretical by his colleagues (an irony that he makes much of) because he argued, quite strongly, that institutional psychiatry is dehumanizing both to patients and society as a whole because it deprives these people of all rights, treats them as objects to be repaired, and submits them to cruel tortures in the name of therapy. He went on to declare that mental illness itself is a myth; there has never been a scientific basis for treating social and behavioral deviance as stemming from the same causes as physical illnesses, nor reason to try to cure it. His central thesis is that institutional psychiatry fills the same role in modern times as the Inquisition did until only a few hundred years ago–a system of control and suppression of social deviants.

  • Michael, I have read the book at least three times–although not in a while.
    It’s a counter-intuitive argument alright –and it is not true.
    What What kind of game are you playing with us? To what end????
    Boans you are correct/
    Michael, You do not know what you are talking about. Szasz compares mental patients to witches and psychiatrists
    to witch- hunters. That is the analogy on which this book–his greatest IMO–is based.Now there may be one parenthesis in the book where he reverses it for some reason but in the book the psychiatrists are the Inquisitors. I don’t bet money but if you do not believe me I’ll make you a “gentleman’s bet.”
    I don’t know what kind of game you are playing here but it is really incredible.
    You have invented an entirely different book. To what end? Did you think there is no one here who read it? What is your motive?
    Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book.Madness. Heresy and the Rumor of Angels. Look on Amazon if you don’t believe me. Do you think I have not read TMM, his second most famous book? Is this a deliberate lie, or have you imagined this?.!!!
    Leszt someone accuse me of unfair play I’ll be right back with the description of the book.

  • Well I’m afraid I misunderstood you to mean Szasz’s FOCUS was the problem.
    Well if not you have attributed Szasz “lack of success” to two contradictory causes. On the one hand, Szasz you claim is unclear about autonomy. His lack of clarity is why he has not been able to “repeal psychiatry.” On the other hand, you tell us his account is rejected because it is unappealing because people do not want to be autonomous because that is to be held accountable.. If the latter is true than his lack of clarity is irrelevant.If anything it should only make his account more appealing.

    Certainly Szasz’s account could be both unclear and unappealing. But you cannot invoke contradictory ideas to explain his “lack of success.”
    On the one hand you say he failed because he did not make himself clear to psychiatrists. On the other hand to the extent that he made himself clear you say
    his model alienated people.

    You do not even address the problem Szasz considered central: The mental health system destroys and dehumanizes those it claims to help. You don’t present a solution. You treat that problem–integral to Szasz’s ouevre–as if it is parenthetical. Szasz deals with human suffering.

    Second you certainly did NOT deal adequately with the issue of power. You say “power is at stake” But your model completely ignores power. You mention it but you don’t include it in your explanatory schema. Virtually everything Szasz wrote was based on the idea that psychiatrists’ goals conflicted with the goal of those citizens who are deemed mentally ill. You completely ignore this and seem to imply that Szasz would agree with you that had he been clearer and had his account not frightened people with talk of accountability(a contradictory position, I repeat) then Szasz would have been “successful.” But that is nonsense because Tom knew that the interests of psychiatrists and that of “mental patients” conflicted.

    The former wanted to exercise social control–that is their social role for which they are remunerated. The latter do not want to be controlled (under the guise of being helped), they want the rights of citizens, they want the abolition of forced treatment–they want them even at the cost of being held accountable, of bearing the burden of freedom because this is what it means to be human.

    Your piece is based on the canard that Szasz could have appealed equally to mental patients or psychiatric survivors AND to psychiatrists—and been “successful.”. Szasz’s model is based on conflict. And because psychiatrists and the State–and I would add the billion dollar drug companies– have more power they will win–in the short run. You write,” His philosophy, and especially his chief claim that mental illness is not a medical disease, has not spread throughout the world; rather, it is psychiatry that has flourished and grown worldwide, and has spread throughout all classes in the West.” You are not judging Szasz by the standards of Epicurus–you are judging him by the standards of Batman! Captain Marvel. Napoleon. It’s an unfair and meaningless comparison.

    Your model is based on the idea of a harmony of interests between mental patients and psychiatrists.That is in fact the verdict of consensual reality: Psychiatrists treat patients. You don’t seem aware that Szasz deconstructed this myth of harmony, this ideology of doctor and patient. His accomplishments were intellectual and moral. But you don’t understand that because you’re oblivious to the suffering of people n the mental health system–or if not you’re not letting readers in on your awareness.

    But you have no solution. You tell us that if Szasz was only less confusing he would have repealed psychiatry. This would be like telling Trotsky if his writing were less rhetorical he would have convinced the capitalists to stop exploiting the workers, and there would not have been a need for a Russian revolution!! I am not a Trotskyist–I use this as an analogy to emphasize your failure to grasp the conflictual nature of Szasz’s model, the conflictual nature of human society.

    There is only one way to get around this problem. The only place I recall Szasz discussing it explicitly was in The Manufacture of Madness, published in 1970.In this book Szasz appeals to humanity to give up “existential cannabalism.” By existential cannabalism Szasz means e.g.,the psychiatrist enhances his own status by destroying the meaning other people–his patients–give to their lives. In this book Szasz posits that humanity will evolve spirituality so that enough of us will give up cannabalism to transcend the conditions that threaten to destroy all of humanity.

    In his other books Szasz is not explicit. He appeals to human beings’ sense of morality. Whether he thinks he will be successful or not is unclear. But Szasz at least had a criterion of success. It would be ending exploitation in the mental health field.Of course he knew one person or 1000 persons could not achieve that goal. (Furthermore that is only one domain.) I don’t know whether Szasz thought his work advanced that goal.

    Epicurus, you say, was “successful” because he had lots of followers. And Szasz didn ‘t.There is another criteria you present of success. But you tell us Epicurus had a lot of followers because he avoided dealing with the issues that disturbed people. In other words he was evasive. So what is the point of the comparison? The Moonies have many followers. The Scientologists have many followers. The Hari Krishnas had more followers than Szasz. That does not make them more “successful.” Szasz did not want followers. You picked a catchy title but it seems to me to be an unfair and meaningless comparison.

    Seth Farber, PhD

  • I agree with Uprising and Frank (above)
    I appreciate your efforts Michael to think creatively about Szasz, but your analysis, although erudite and eloquent, strikes me as naïve. First of all, let me clarify a possible misunderstanding that I fear may create the wrong impression , that may be interpreted as an expression of defeat or despair by Thomas Szasz. You start by saying Szasz “killed himself.” While technically true anyone who has read Jeffrey Schaler’s account knows that this was not an act of desperation but a reasoned decision based on considerations of health at 92. And of course Szasz had written prolifically on suicide as a right and a rational decision. Just to clear that up, Michael–for those who do not know.

    You write
    “In my view, his focus on the coercive element of institutional psychiatry as the successor of mad-doctoring explains his failure to articulate the position he was advocating as clearly as he might or should have. And that in turn explains why his attempts to repeal psychiatry have failed.”
    And you write:
    “In short, Szasz failed not because he was wrong but because he championed an ideal, personal responsibility, that few want to accept. As he knew and said, responsibility is something man is forever hoping to avoid and displace onto another; hence his attribution to Satan or illness as the agent “really” responsible for his poor choices. It is more pleasant to blame his failings on demons, witches, his genes, or his metabolism for his gaining weight—anything but himself.”

    Let’s take this: “In my view, his focus on the coercive element of institutional psychiatry as the successor of mad-doctoring explains his failure to articulate the position he was advocating as clearly as he might or should have. And that in turn explains why his attempts to repeal psychiatry have failed.” In the first place I strongly disagree with you. I read at least 15 books and many articles by Tom and I think he very strongly and very clearly advocated his belief in autonomy.(You are right that autonomy was probably his primary value.) Second, and more importantly, separating his commitment to autonomy from the oppression of mental patients would have made Szasz an armchair philosopher and not a prophetic advocate, at best an academic mediocrity if not a hypocrite. (I expect you will disagree–so I’ll return to this issue later.) Finally your own explanation for his “failure” overlooks much of Szasz’s argument, which I think explains BEST why his “failure” was almost inevitable– at least in the short run.

    Your argument is like saying there is a plutocracy in America because Americans were not willing to accept the idea of equality. You completely overlook the will to power that Szasz finds at the basis of modern psychiatry. This put Szasz in the same boat, to his chagrin, with leftists psychiatrist R. D Laing (who was, contrary to your assertion, the most famous psychiatrist in the 1970s and 80s–more so than Szasz) and philosopher Foucault whose deconstruction of the Panopticon is too often overlooked. One must examine the dialectic of domination in psychiatry and the ideological ruses it assumes which make it appear as a medical enterprise undertaken for the benefit of patients. You cannot understand history if you assume the Masters and the slaves have equal access to knowledge–are equally powerful, have equal means to propagate their ideas. You write as if you assume the best ideas will “win” in the marketplace of ideas as long as they are CLEARLY articulated. My God, read Thomas Kuhn, Noam Chomsky, liberation theology, Anabaptist John Howard Yoder, Marx, Weber, Gramsci, Mills, Breggin (on the psychiatric-pharmaceutical complex), Healy, Whitaker, and Laing.

    I included religious thinkers because the Marxist notion that religious ideas are inevitably reactionary is very wrong. There are two modes of Western religion–Constantinian and anti-Constantinian.The former is religion in the service of economic elites and the State and the later is religion in the service of equality, in the service of all beings. It is Constantinian religion –of which I claim psychiatry is a secular expression— which help explain why Szasz “failed.” I make this point in all of my books. At any rate,to reiterate, the success you claim eluded Szasz would have been inconsequential for humanity. It would have excluded the “severely mentally ill”–those for whom Tom was a vigorous advocate. It is better that his ideas live on–even as a thorn in humanity’s flesh, a goad to create a more equal world in the future.

    To quote Marx,“The ruling ideas of an epoch are the ideas of its ruling class.” That is not always true but it is the reality every revolutionary(and I do not necessarily mean Marxists) must confront in “normal” times. Tom’s greatest insight–and he shared this with Laing, even though Tom would not acknowledge Laing– was that psychiatrists were the secular priesthood of the current social order.They sanctified it–they defined “reality.” (Tom’s idea were hobbled by his economic Libertarianism which became more pronounced and stingy as he got older.For example his opposition to any Soteria type asylum.)

    Why do you think Szasz compared Psychiatry to the Inquisition? The priesthood legitimizes and sanctifies the power of the dominant elites. And like the priesthood Psychiatry maintains social control. BTW Tom’s antipathy toward Laing abated ephemerally in the early 90s after Laing’s premature death, and Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book, despite its quasi Laingian spiritual argument, Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt against the Mental Health System. Ron Leifer,a dissident psychiatrist and Buddhist, was a protégé and friend of Szasz (and later of mine) whom I interviewed for that book–- Ron did not go along with Tom’s unfortunate opposition to any equalizing role for Government.

    Szasz’s point was Psychiatry like the Inquisition (see,The Manufacture of Madness) was not really concerned with the cure of souls but the persecution and control of social deviants (“witches,” Tom argued, were not “mentally ill” –the revisionist Psychiatric position–but indigenous local healers, usually female, who competed with priests as healers) including heretics. Leifer, a psychiatric heretic, had lost his job at the University–(SUNY-Rochester) when he defended the tenured Szasz whom the University was trying to silence. Szasz lost his classes and Ron lost his job. AS did Ernest Becker who also defended Szasz. You overlook the fact that Szasz repeatedly claimed that the real goal of Psychiatry was not cure of souls, but social control–a point made by powerfully by Leifer in In the Name of Mental Health.

    In Szasz’s book on the Inquisition he predicted coercive psychiatry would continue until humanity gave up its tendency toward “existential cannabalism”–that is until the powerful repudiated the will to power.

    You write,”In short, Szasz failed not because he was wrong but because he championed an ideal, personal responsibility, that few want to accept.” Again you are over-simplifying. Szasz’s work gave rise to the mental patients’ liberation movement–and that movement ought not be lightly dismissed.(You do not even mention it.) Despite complaints about its own under-emphasis on responsibility, it accepted personal responsibility(which includes the right of freedom and autonomy) in principle and it made the achievement of full citizenship rights and responsibilities part of its program, albeit unachieved. Thus it became a social force that embraced and symbolized the ideal of personal responsibility-–among the lowest caste of “schizophrenics” no less. He could not have done THAT had he adopted your Epicurean strategy–and that would have been an ineffable loss.

    But you keep conflating the Master and the Slave. It’s like saying slavery was supported in America because Americans could not accept the idea of equality. Blacks did support equality and by the civil war most abolitionists did as well. Those who had a financial interest in slavery did not accept equality. And they had the economic means to promulgate their ideas.(Only a minority in the South had actually owned slaves.) Remember psychiatrists had a diagnosis for slaves who ran away from slavery—a pathological condition termed “drapetomania” (cited by Szasz) described by physician Samuel Cartwright in Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race.

    No your study of Szasz is creative and noble but your idea that he should have abandoned his advocacy for “the mentally ill” and thus presumably been more acceptable is misguided. Perhaps you think he would have gotten psychotics in the master’s house that way through the back door.AS someone who worked in these clinics in the 1980s, before and after I got my PhD, I can tell you it doesn’t work that way. The idea that psychotics were “severely and incurably disabled” was an intractable self fulfilling prophecy. Szasz greatest accomplishment may well have been that his ideas empowered the oppressed –the “schizophrenics”–and gave rise to a movement that proved the psychiatric narrative was wrong.

    I must admit in my current writings I reject the secularism of the Szaszian narrative. I argue it is time to go beyond the Szaszian phase, the Enlightenment phase, of the survivors’ movement –without abandoning it– onto a second phase of the movement,by explicitly affirming the spirituality of the Mad, by emphasizing the gifts of the Mad, by helping the mad to complete their initiation as prophets, poets and visionaries of humanity. That was the theme of my article published here shortly after Tom died. . My newest book of the Mad Pride movement is called The Spiritual Gift of Madness…
    Thanks for your contribution.
    Best, Seth
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Yes indeed.
    Trying to ban a game liked this–judging from the description in article– is the kind of thing NAMI would do
    It is so rare when the prevalent psychiatric stereotypes are implicitly undermined in popular culture– the anti-psychiatry movement should not try to suppress this.
    Just read this description:’ “Mystery Room” invites groups of participants to gather clues and work together to try to escape from different rooms in a large building. “Enter if you dare — Escape if you can!” read the dark billboards for the game, listing four rooms called Satan’s Lair, Prison Break, Mummy’s Curse, and Psychiatric Ward.’ Not one thing depicting Psychiatry as anything other than oppressive and evil.
    Leave it to the APA to try to ban such games. I’m sure virtually every psychiatrist who sees this is bothered. Does anyone doubt that?
    Why do THEIR business for them?
    I’m glad to see such a game.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I disagree with Szasz about a lot.
    But he never made a good argument that he was NOT an antipsychiatrist.
    (Nor did Laing, at least re 1960s)
    Szasz was in favor of relationship between psychiatrist and client. But he did not support doing any of the thing psychiatrists do qua psychiatrists.
    Bonnie does not speak of banning it but of its long term abolition.

  • B claims I am lying or wrong when I say telepathy has been scientifically validated. B cites no books or evidence. The best summary is Science and Psychic Phenomenon by Chris Carter. BTW the resistance to this evidence comes not from scientists but from fundamentalist
    materialists. Thus Carter cites copious research and interesting survey:
    ” Two surveys of over five hundred scientists in one case and over a thousand in another were made in the 1970s. Both surveys found that the majority of respondents considered ESP “an established fact” or “a likely possibility”: 56 percent in one and 67 percent in the other.

    In the study by Evans (1973), 53 percent of the “ESP is an impossibility” responses came from psychologists, although psychologists made up only 6 percent of the total sample. Only 3 percent of natural scientists considered ESP “an impossibility,” compared to 34 percent of psychologists.” [page 132]”

    Is anyone here surprised that the dogmatic skeptic who refused to accept were mostly psychologists? Their whole method is bogus science. I suspect B is either a psychologist (whose firstg language is not English) or a believer in psychiatry or psychology

    A reviewer of the Carter book wrote aptly:
    “Chris Carter, in Parapsychology and the Skeptics, treads the same ground that Damien Broderick did in Outside the Gates of Science. Both show convincingly that parapsychologic[al] phenomena have been demonstrated, repeatedly and with statistical significance, using methodologies which have withstood the criticism of skeptics, over multiple decades. And that despite this convincing evidence, a skeptical community continues in a denial mode, contrary to reason and science. His goal is to demonstrate that the skeptics are ideologues, intent on defending a semi-religious worldview for irrational and non-scientific reasons.”
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Nobody here supports non-consensual psychiatry. In fact although allowed it is a constitutional violation of right to freedom. It’s not an “abolitionist” position. It’s basic civil liberties.
    Burstow makes a more radical argument–for the long term abolition of psychiatry.
    Many people have not read the article and don’t understand her argument.

  • Frank, If you read Bonnie’s helpful article carefully you’ll see she is not talking about “imposing” the abolition of psychiatry. In fact she does not discuss the “how.” The issue is THE LONG TERM GOAL which provides a sense of orientation. She writes: “Given the intrinsically flawed foundations, the profound harm done, the inherent violation of human rights, and the nature of the political agenda, moreover, antipsychiatry sees no place for psychiatry. Accordingly, not the “improvement of psychiatry” but psychiatry abolition is the long run goal (for an articulation of how this might be approached, see Burstow, 2014). But why not try to improve it?, you may ask. Because you only seek to improve something you judge as having some legitimacy—not something which you contend has none.” Presumably the book will talk about “how this might be approached.” However I agree with Bonnie. For the reasons she gives the abolition of psychiatry SHOULD be the “long term goal” of the movement.
    I discuss this also in my more “spiritual” terms in my own recent book.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Telepathy is a phenomenon that has been validated over and over using scientific criteria and methods. See Chris Carter’s book for references. You throw around the term science Francesca to validate the ontological perspective you prefer–a materialistic ontology based on 19th century Newtonian physics. Thus you assume that ideas, feelings are CAUSED by materialist processes, but not vice versa. Yet the first thing you will learn in a course on scientific methodology is that correlation does not necessarily entail causation.

    Thus it is plausible– and no more or less scientific– to assert that your ideas and experiences cause the neurophysical processes in your brain. In fact the validation of telepathy provides evidence that mind can act upon ” matter” and upon other minds without the medium of matter. Alfred North Whitehead, the great 20th century philosopher also believed this–that everything including matter is sentient. He called this pan-psychism.Quantum physics also showed that 2 quantum objects that had been “entangled” were instantaneously aware of what the other was doing. Einstein called this “spooky action at a distance.” Scientists have shown that the information imparted from the quatum object to its twin does not require a transfer of energy–it is a non-materialistic process faster than the speed of light. This relationship is called non-locality. Mind can act directly on mind. In telepathy one mind “prehends” what the other mind is doing.Just as the quantum object prehends what its twin is doing.

    Yes experience is usually correlated with physical processes, but not always. (There is evidence of life after life.) These phenomena undermine the materialist ontology, according to which only matter is ultimately real. Whitehead believed even material objects were sentient. He called this pan-psychism. You have identified a materialist ontology with science, but you are using the word “science” to give elevated status to a materialist ontology. All that scientific experiments have shown is that there is a CORRELATION between mind and matter not that all mental experiences are CAUSED BY by matter and that material processes are never caused by mind. The placebo effect is another example of how mental ideas or expectations can cause neurophysical processes.

    I believe that everything is conscious to a greater or lesser degree. This ontology–theory of the nature of existence– is not less “scientific” than materialism. In fact materialism cannot explain the data of quantum physics. Eastern philosophy also posits that everything is conscious. The idea of the universe as a giant machine is not compatible with modern science. William James also believed that science validated the mystical and the paranormal. The world is more mysterious and miraculous than 19th century science would lead you to believe. Here is a brief essay I wrote.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Telepathy is a phenomenon that has been validated over and over using scientific criteria and methods. See Chris Carter’s book for references. You throw around the term science Francesca to validate the ontological perspective you prefer–a materialistic ontology based on 19th century Newtonian physics. Thus you assume that ideas, feelings are CAUSED by materialist processes, but not vice versa. Yet the first thing you will learn in a course on scientific methodology is that correlation does not necessarily entail causation. Thus it is plausible and no more or less scientific to assert that your ideas and experiences cause the neurophysical processes in your brain. In fact the validation of telepathy provides evidence that mind can act upon ” matter” and upon other minds without the medium of matter. Alfred North Whitehead, the great 20th century philosopher also l believed this. Quantum physics also showed that 2 quantum objects that had been “entangled” were instantaneously aware of what the other was doing. Einstein called this “spooky action at a distance.” Scientists have shown that the information does not require a transfer of energy–it is a non-materialistic process faster than the speed of light. Mind can act directly on mind. In telepathy one mind “prehends” what the other mind is doing.Just as the quantum object prehednds what its twin is doing. Yes experience is usually correlated with physical processes, but not always. (There is evidence of life after life.) These phenomena undermine the materialist ontology, according to which only matter is ultimately real. Whitehead believed even material object were sentient. He called this pan-psychism. You have identified a materialist ontology with science, but you are using the word “science” to give status to a materialist ontology. All that scientific experiments have shown is that there is a CORRELATION between mind and matter not that all mental experiences are caused by matter, but that material processes are never caused by mind. The placebo effect is another example of how mental ideas or expectations can cause neurophysical processes.
    I believe that everything is conscious to a greater or lesser degree. This ontology–theory of the nature of existence– is not less “scientific” than materialism. In fact materialism cannot explain the data of quantum physics. Eastern philosophy also posits that everything is conscious. The idea of the universe as a giant machine is not compatible with modern science. William James also believed that science validated the mystical and the paranormal. The world is more mysterious and miraculous than 19th century science would lead you to believe. Here is a brief essay I wrote.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Szasz objected to the term “antipsychiatry.” The article F quotes puts it aptly:”In practice, the prejorative tone of the term “anti-psychiatry” has often become a way to stigmatize and ridicule any critical voice in the medical field …” It was for strategic reasons that Szasz opposed use of the term. I think Szasz was really antipsychiatric in the way Bonnie describes it, but the term has negative associations– this also explains why you will not find any “professionals” here who overtly identify with it, except me.
    The reason I say Tom’s objection was disingenuous is because he thought his training as a psychiatrist was irrelevant to the service he provided to his clients. And he opposed most of what people did in the name of psychiatry. Thus he was really for the abolition of psychiatry.( BTW Tom wrote the Foreword to my first book, so l have some familiarity with his work.)

  • Francesca, How do you KNOW you “have” a neurochemical state– that is,that
    your brain is characterized by a neurochemical state? You would NOT know unless you were conscious, unless you were aware. If you were comatose you would not know So it is consciousness that “leads to” neurochemical states. Or in other words could you have neurochemicals in the brain without having thoughts and feelings? You have made the assumption that the physical is the primordial. I think it is consciousness that is primordial.

    Quantum physics leads to the same conclusion. You do not have a quantum object with a specific physical location until you measure it, until it is observed.

  • Hi Steve
    What I really meant was that there were no professionals who will get near the term “antipsychiatry.” Yes I knew Ted did. Thomas Szasz was antipsychiatry but he claimed he wasn’t becausehe wasn’t against seeing clients. But he regarded the fact that he was a psychiatrist as irrelevant.
    All my books and particularly my last book are about spirituality and madness. My last book was inspired by the Mad Pride movement. I had hoped to influence Icarus–TIP–to reaffirm the mad gifts idea. They didn’t. So I am arguing now for the creation of a utopian-messianic wing of the mad movement.
    The idea is not to focus on healing mad people but empowering the mad to use their gifts to save the world. The goal should not be to revolutionize the mental health system but to abolish it, and change the world. It’s a complex argument with an intellectual
    history of various schools in anti-psychiatry.

    Steve do you have a reference for this article?
    The biochemical imbalance is a myth. For God’s sakes 6 yrs ago David Oaks and 10 other people went on a hunger strike and finally the APA admitted they had no proof of a biochemical imbalance. They did not even know how to define a chemical balance. It was just a way to sell drugs. Some of you people are retreating to a reductionist materialist view of the world. If you approach life as a psychosocial theorist–to borrow the term Dan wants to throw out—-the world makes sense. Donna and Jonathan gave some examples. That is the right methodology. Not looking at people as if they were machines.

    Francesca writes'”neurochemistry… leads to individual thoughts, feelings and experiences, regardless of the origin of any particular neurochemical state.”
    That’s backwards. It is thoughts and feelings that most often lead to neurochemical changes. We are complex spiritual-emotional beings. You can’t make sense of any of it by starting with neurochemistry–unless you’re dealing with brain damage. We know now through telepathy and quantum physics that one can impart information to another being without any transfer of energy. Mind can prehend mind directly, non-locally. Psychiatry is still living in the 19th century. It’s a good way to sell drugs but not to optimize human potential.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D. author of

  • Hi Donna, Well put. I’m glad you straightened that out. But you won’t get Dan to yield any ground because he is the Prophet of Orthomolecular Religion, er Medicine. It’s better than psychiatry and like most systems when you believe in people they get better. That is orthomolecular medicine in the hands of a true believer has a powerful placebo effect. But there are social factors, as you say. And even all the Vitamin 5s in the world don’t compensate for homelessness.

    And Soteria and Diabasis and Open Dialogue and other approaches (HVN) demonstrate that the problem is not a biochemical imbalance which no one has ever demonstrated. Thomas Szasz put it best in his early days– patients suffer from “problems of living.” And if you do not have a decent home to live in what you need is housing, not vitamins etc Furthermore as I have demonstrated and witnessed, the schizophrenic IS a shaman manqué, and if she were given the opportunity to assume a socially valued role conducive to her temperament–say a shaman in the premodern world– she might enable others to commune with other worlds. Get my latest book and read the interview with Paul Levy and you’ll see here is one of the most gifted shamans (or transpersonal healers) in the country, so to explain him in orthomolecular terms or psychiatric terms is ludicrous. Let him explain himself. He was locked up 5 times as “psychotic” so he has the credentials to prove it- he is a wounded healer. As is the destiny of all of of us–wounded healers– who would save the earth from the spiritual/ecological crisis that is leading to its destruction. Which is why I am calling for a new utopian-messianic-shamanic wing of the anti- psychiatry movement.

    But I had to digress. My point is: Let’s rehabilitate the term”antipsychiatry.” I am for the abolition of psychiatry in Burstow’s sense. And she has done us a service. Because that term has been so tarnished that no one dares to use it. I have been reading MIA for several years assiduously and I have never read anyone describe herself as an antipsychiatrist. It’s like saying, “I am a communist.” Or “I am a religious fanatic.” One problem was the two theorists associated with the term–Thomas Szasz and R D Laing–both repudiated the term. Bonnie ought to have explained Szasz’s position because it really was inconsistent. Laing embraced the term ephemerally. I use it. I am not against the voluntary use of drugs. I am in favor of the abolition–in time–of psychiatry. So I hope others will join me in referring to the antipsychiatry movement.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D., author of

  • They do not create ‘mental illness”—which she makes clear. They cause brain injury which has negative psychological and biological manifestations. THey do not cause chemical imbalance. There is no such thing. The drugs are harmful PERIOD.
    These are literalized metaphors. You cannot beat the system Fiachra by using embracing psychiatric jargon. It will take you down with it, spiritually, permanently.
    I suggest you re-read the essay which was good.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Yes this is one of 2 important point. Of course most of the most destructive “psychiatric treatments” are considered standard–not experimental. Although the Bill’s authors are undoubtedly well-meaning, it is based on a naivete about psychiatry. Lobotomies were done for years–they were not considered experimedntal.
    Second although Copycat’s point about Nuremberg is important, it must be qualified. While a dozen Dr Mengelle doctors were hung at Nuremberg 12,000 Nazis scientists were imported and set to work by the CIA (Operation Paperclip). Nuremberg has not placed any constraints upon CIA. The CIA admits that 36,000 subjects were given LSD w/o their knowledge, let alone consent. It was probably higher. It was banned in late 70s but it oinly went underground.
    In the last several months I have met many individuals who are targeted. Their brain are manipulated by directed energy weapons described by Robert Duncan, whistleblower–see his books on Amazon. These person are at the mercy of psych-ops. See or read 1996 by Gloria Naylor.
    Thomas Szasz said child psychiatry itself is child abuse and should be banned. That would be one step in the right direction. Then abolish the other intrusive agencies of the State.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D

  • In response to my comment above a reader and survivor wrote to me, “It’s too incendiary. It’s safer not to link this with wider social issues….Also, he wants to highlight the danger of deeming people mentally incompetent because they refuse treatment. That’s specific to mental health.”

    My response is: I was not criticizing the author of the article–although I’m curious as to his position on this topic, which he seemed to evade when I made my comments. He did what you said he did –effectively highlighted the specific dangers of “mental patients”–and as a journalist it was not his obligation to discuss strategy. My criticism has been of the strategy of the antipsychiatry movement or survivors’ movement if you prefer, the activists, for not making these links and for not seeking to build alliances based upon a response to the increasing repressiveness of the state. Don’t you see it is ALL part of a strategy of the Surveillance state? Chelsea Manning in prison for 35 yrs (formally) Julian Assange forced to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (if he leaves the premises to go to Ecuador where he was granted political asylum, an international right, he would be immediately arrested by British police) and Edward Snowden in Russia. And mental patients placed under great surveillance and forced to take toxic. drugs

    These are not independent and unrelated events. They are all manifestations of the State ‘s increasing surveillance and control of its populations. I have no doubt Foucault if he were alive would see this as the apogee of the surveillance state, of what Foucault (following Bentham) called Panopticon. Panopticon a condition, a policy (an architectural design actually) in which the State sees everything. Nothing is invisible, there is no privacy. Even one’s innermost thought are monitored by the State. While the State on the other hand is invisible. FOIA requests–passed as law in the 70s–are no longer responded to. No legal action can be taken against the State (eg for torture at Guatanamo) because Obama invokes “State secrets” (a doctrine that claims national security allows the State to shield all its operations from public view), thus making the State invisible to its citizens.

    Obama as candidate promised to have the “most transparent” Administration in history. It has probably been the least. Under Bush there was constant leaking by disillusioned former Bush supporters. Under Obama the ONLY leaking (besides whistleblowers who are persecuted) is BY Obama as PR moves in his own interest. Obama has prosecuted/ persecuted more whistle blowers than any previous Administration in an effort to eliminate transparency and democratic accountability So today all citizens are observed and the state is invisible–the ultimate Panopticon.

    I argue that it is a major mistake for the anti-psychiatry movement to view what happens to “mental patient” in isolation. First it is politically naïve–mental patients–as “wild people”– are made the scapegoat and pretext for increased repression. But second I have always disagreed with this policy of failing to connect the dots, of treating repression of patients and parents of “patients” (like Justina) as if it was isolated phenomenon unrelated to other developments. Third by doing so the movement deprives itself of political allies and plays into Establishment’s hands: We(“mental patients”) are different from the others.(I have argued that culturally this is true–but I speak now politically.)

    The movement instead should be leading a battle against increased repression, against the National Security state. Mental patients forced to take drugs are as much victims of this Surveillance State as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. And we should all unite and build a movement against state totalitarianism and repression, against the repression of free speech (that keeps Julian Assange in asylum in Ecuadorean Embassy for 3 years) and thought control that keeps mental patients on toxic drugs that control their thought and prevents them from “recovering.”. And against the targeting of person that subjects them to non-consensual mind control through cutting edge technology discussed by groupsof TIs I have discussed elsewhere. See
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • In response to my comment above a reader and survivor wrote to me, “It’s too incendiary. It’s safer not to link this with wider social issues….Also, he wants to highlight the danger of deeming people mentally incompetent because they refuse treatment. That’s specific to mental health.”

    My response is: I was not criticizing the author of the article–although I’m curious as to his position on this topic, which he seemed to evade when I made my comments. He did what you said he did –effectively highlighted the specific dangers of “mental patients”–and as a journalist it was not his obligation to discuss strategy. My criticism has been of the strategy of the antipsychiatry movement or survivors’ movement if you prefer, the activists, for not making these links and for not seeking to build alliances based upon a response to the increasing repressiveness of the state. Don’t you see it is ALL part of a strategy of the Surveillance state? Chelsea Manning in prison for 35 yrs (formally) Julian Assange forced to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (if he leaves the premises to go to Ecuador where he was granted political asylum, an international right, he would be immediately arrested by British police) and Edward Snowden in Russia. And mental patients placed under great surveillance and forced to take toxic. drugs

    These are not independent and unrelated events. They are all manifestations of the State ‘s increasing surveillance and control of its populations. I have no doubt Foucault if he were alive would see this as the apogee of the surveillance state, of what Foucault (following Bentham) called Panopticon. Panopticon a condition, a policy (an architectural design actually) in which the State sees everything. Nothing is invisible, there is no privacy. Even one’s innermost thought are monitored by the State. While the State on the other hand is invisible. FOIA requests–passed as law in the 70s–are no longer responded to. No legal action can be taken against the State (eg for torture at Guatanamo) because Obama invokes “State secrets” (a doctrine that claims national security allows the State to shield all its operations from public view), thus making the State invisible to its citizens.

    Obama as candidate promised to have the “most transparent” Administration in history. It has probably been the least. Under Bush there was constant leaking by disillusioned former Bush supporters. Under Obama the ONLY leaking (besides whistleblowers who are persecuted) is BY Obama as PR moves in his own interest. Obama has prosecuted/ persecuted more whistle blowers than any previous Administration in an effort to eliminate transparency and democratic accountability So today all citizens are observed and the state is invisible–the ultimate Panopticon.

    I argue that it is a major mistake for the anti-psychiatry movement to view what happens to “mental patient” in isolation. First it is politically naïve–mental patients–as “wild people”– are made the scapegoat and pretext for increased repression. But second I have always disagreed with this policy of failing to connect the dots, of treating repression of patients and parents of “patients” (like Justina) as if it was isolated phenomenon unrelated to other developments. Third by doing so the movement deprives itself of political allies and plays into Establishment’s hands: We(“mental patients”) are different from the others.(I have argued that culturally this is true–but I speak now politically.)

    The movement instead should be leading a battle against increased repression, against the National Security state. Mental patients forced to take drugs are as much victims of this Surveillance State as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. And we should all unite and build a movement against state totalitarianism and repression, against the repression of free speech (that keeps Julian Assange in asylum in Ecuadorean Embassy for 3 years) and thought control that keeps mental patients on toxic drugs that control their thought and prevents them from “recovering.”. And against the targeting of person that subjects them to non-consensual mind control through cutting edge technology discussed by groupsof TIs I have discussed elsewhere. See
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Christian, Thanks for update and information. I want to add a few points. In the first place while it’s good to know the Bills are not going to pass (yet), the bar is already low for AOT. The purpose of AOT is not to provide help to people in tough situations. The bar is low and then there is economic draft for forced drugging for those who can’t find decent housing–virtually impossible in NYC. So they end up some place where they’re forced to take toxic psych drugs. The goal is to sell drugs.

    Let’s recall the point Bob Whitaker has been making for years–which complements Ms Ryan’s points: Forced drugging is a death sentence. Apart from diabetes, cardiovascular problems, obesity, and 15-20 years shortening of life span, there is the fact, now proven by Harrow Wunderink etc that clients forced to take “anti-psychotics” are doomed to a life time of chronic “psychosis.” Add to this the deterioration in the quality of life caused by the “meds” in addition to “psychotic” symptoms.

    I could go on but I want to make a different point. This is part of nationwide trend of government surveillance and harassment. The problem is too often the anti-psychiatric movement had tendency to compartmentalize. But mental patients are like Gitmo prisoners—they are punished in the absence of evidence. Call them “dangerous mental patients” and call toxic drugging “treatment” and mental patients might as well be alleged terrorists. Losing your freedom at Gitmo or being injected with poisons. Which is a worse fate? This is all part of the attack on due process begun by Bush and continued by President Obama.

    But Snowden’s revelations and the Supreme Court’s refusal to say No to the POTUS’ power under NDAA to kill any American citizen accused of “supporting” terrorism mean we now live under a totalitarian regime–no due process. Add to this the double standard applied to people of color, and the continuing expansion of NSA snooping.

    It would be a terrible strategic blunder if the survivors’ movement does not recognize the broader trend and approaches this as if we are not all in the same boat. The movement should seek out allies and protest against the vitiation of due process, of the Bill of Rights. The subjects of the dictatorship are all American citizens, except the super-rich. The slogan should be either, “We are all Gitmo detainees” or “We are all mental patients” The goal is to destroy the new NSA/CIA/military junta, the Therapeutic State and forced drugging and to restore genuine DUE PROCESS and thus the American republic.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I don’t think I “dismissed” her. I think I am realistic about the choices she will make. You want .
    her to acknowledge you’re making the right choice. Well people don’t always do what we want. She wrote,
    “I think it’s IMMENSELY dangerous to suggest that the bulk of psychiatric disorders aren’t even illnesses, and that psych meds are hokum…. I think this “withdrawal symptom” is a load of BS and is, in actuality, her disorder in an untreated and worsening state.” That does not sound like a person who is going to validate your reality. I had a client/friend, a so-called schizophrenic who got off neuroleptics when he was 27 as a result of my encouragement. Although he was doing great for 15 years his NAMI mother would not talk to him– until she was on her death bed.

    I’m not as saintly as you Monica but my guess is I probably would NOT have” dismissed” you had I met you for ONE simple reason.(I think you meant to say dismiss you not her 10 years ago.) Maybe I’m wrong but my guess is you were far more ambivalent about Psychiatry than this woman is. My impression is you have little in common in terms of your sensibility. This woman has certainly dismissed you now. If I saw the slightest sign you were ambivalent about psychiatrists or drugs I would have tried to warn you. Of course you’re a pioneer so I could not have known how far you could come after so many years on the drugs.

    But basically I believe that almost no one benefits from these drugs in the long run, I wrote “It’s my responsibility to reach people BEFORE they are on the drugs for years–and have to pay the price. This particular woman is hopeless.” I meant there is little or no chance of breaking the hold her shrink has on her, not that she’s an evil person. I would not waste my time and hers trying to change her belief system. But when people are younger or more ambivalent I will tell them that long term use of neuroleptics and SSRIs can ruin their lives—and not to listen to their psychiatrists. I would consider it a cop out to do anything less. It’s a thin line between “dismissing” someone and respecting their desire to be left alone. But in every case I’ve met, the person who raves about anti-psychotics has been brain-washed by psychiatrists. Usually the most generous thing to do is to tell them they have been deceived.

    I wonder what YOU call “dismissing” someone. Gently telling them they’ve been duped? Or quietly walking away? If you tell me the drugs are really right for THEM, I would say you are overlooking what we know about the long term effect of the drugs.

  • Hi Monica, There is a group in the movement–not popular here– that proscribes criticizing the patient. To do so, theyclain, is to act like a psychiatrist. The credo is the client knows best. So if she takes 5 different drugs one must respect her, i.e. accept she has made the correct decision. People in the movement who say that act as if their drugs come from a slot machine. They never want to talk about their shrinks. I used to say, “People are not addicted to their drug. They are addicted to their drug pusher.” It’s my responsibility to reach people BEFORE they are on the drugs for years–and have to pay the price. This particular woman is hopeless. But notice,”However, finding the right meds takes time and a good doctor. I finally got there and found out that my mood swings and sensitivity didn’t have to be the way I lived my life. Without my meds, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here.” Is if the meds or the doctor? Obviously they go together. She trusts the doctor to take care of her. WE know SSRIs, e.g., are no more effective than an active placebo—50-60%.. Moncrieff found lithium was not effective. Most likely it the doctor and placebo effect ( which can be very high) of the drugs he gives her which “saved” her, not the drugs alone. The first wave of activists to get off neuroleptics hated the shrink. they placed their trust in Szasz or Breffin, and they got off successfully. Just like with LSD the effects depend up set and setting.” That is set is mind-set/expectations and setting is environment which for todays’ radical is a virtual community. And they don’t end up with diabetes and TD.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Stuart writes:” I do not set another appointment; how can their emotions be normal if they need ‘treatment?’They are grateful to have their own perceptions validated ” This is excellent. You realize that among mental health professionals this makes you highly unusual and among psychiatrists, it probably makes you unique. The mental health professional is trained to believe distress is pathology and she makes money by recruiting clients to return.To leave it up to the client to return or not return conveys, as you say, that they have responded appropriately AND you are not in a position to say the client needs “trearment.” How many professionals would sacrifice the opportunity to recruit a w clients in order to act in the most ethical manner?

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Michael, I came across this, and I just have to say that your last statistic is revealing. I could cite many others. For example there has been a 40 fold increase in the last decade in diagnosis of “pediatric bipolar disorder”–ever since Joseph Biederman invented “pediatric bipolar disorder” after he accepted $1.8 million dollars from the drug companies. In fact he promised Johnson and Johnson in advance that his research would achieve favorable results for their new drug. Yet Marlop tells us “it is time for them to grow.” Grow they will but not in the manner that Marlop wants. He is wrong. WE should not “urg[e] them on” They will not serve the public good because of exhortations from the terminally naïve. The “advances in neuroscience and psychology” will not be used to help people. Look at Psychiatry’s historical record. Look at what they’ve done since they started taking money from the drug companies. It is time for psychiatry to shrink, to accept less money, to cut their financial ties to the drug companies. Unless they do that they will continue to be a force of evil. I remind Marlop before the late 1970s the APA prohibited the receipt of money from drug companies. Unless they reinstitute those ethical restrictions we must indeed pace Marlop throw out the “baby with the bathwater.” The baby is the son of Frankenstein. And psychiatrists are enabled by armies of “lesser” “mental health” professionals. We must expose psychiatrists as drug pushers— more dangerous to children than the drug dealer on the corner– not advice people, as Marlop urges, to trust and empower them.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Hi Donna,
    Yes excellent point. And it brings up another point– unless you are controlling for effects of drugs and particularly SSRIs, you cannot separate so called symptom effect from drug effects. As you point out bipolar is largely iatrogenic—=and according to Bob a common route to bipolar diagnosis is ingestion of SSRIs that are given to children with “ADHD” and depression diagnosis. We also know that of all the drugs SSRIs are the ones that most often lead to violence. So there is no reason to assume correlation between bi-polar symptoms and crime is directly CAUSED by former. Even if it is, the symptom is an artifact of a “disease” or “symptom” created by SSRIs.

    Second, another major limitation of this study alluded to by Francesca is we do not know the nature of the crime. For example Francesca astutely writes, “The most common victims of MI violence are psych staff, family members and the police. What’s got to be acknowledged is that these three groups are also the most likely to be inflicting or attempting to inflict violence upon the MI person.” This is not typical crime directed at stranger. This is either an act of self defense or an interpersonal statement, or both The worst response is to send the IP to a prison. Consider her “crime” is an index of a dysfunctional family unit for which the IP is scapegoated. Increasingly in the US, “mental patients” who commit misdemeanors are interned in prisons rather than “mental health” institutions. As bad as the latter are the former are even more brutal.

    But there is no space in mental health sector anymore. So the IP is sent to a prison which he is too sensitive to handle–particularly a men’s prison. Sane social policies would handle these kinds of “crimes” by sending the whole family for out- patient family therapy.(As in Open Dialogue.)This won’t happen but my point is a mind-experiment would lead to the realization that this IS the solution. 20 years ago such IP would not be sent to crimogenic prisons. In the 1980s mainstream media mourned the fact that former mental patients in NY (and other cities) ended up in SROs–and did not get mental health “treatment.” Looking back SRO’s (single room occupancy hotels) were remarkably humane compared to anything today.

    The problem was city government did not want to waste that much real estate on the disadvantaged or poor. So it helped greedy landlords like Donald Trump tear down these SROs and turn them into luxury flats for yuppies. The non-rich and the “mentally ill” were then homeless as NYC became a playground for the very rich. Many of the former ended up in shelters and “mental patients” who used to live in cheap hotels or half way houses had no where to go as all the real estate– even residences for “mentally ill” –were gobbled up by moguls like Trump. They were redefined as criminals instead of mental patients and sent to prisons for long periods for minor crimes. The article above overlooks these macro-social dynamics. It has to: the real cause is neo-liberal capitalism and greed. And who will admit that?
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Primarydoc, You are the first person I’ve read on MIA to suspect the first diagnosis is not adequate. Most of us are not MDs, but there are a few psychiatrists here (critical of psychiatric system). I am a psychologist, and like AA below am aware that any person who has a “mental illness” label is treated as if everything she says or does is a symptom of a mental illness.

    But why do you think none of the psychiatrists here noticed mitochondrial disease was inadequate? Do you have any theories? Is it that esoteric? And second, could you make a guess about the kind of illness that might be overlooked? You do say “it is entirely possible that it is within the realm of an infectious disease, and I don’t mean influenza or any other self-limiting viral involvement. ” This sounds ominous. What exactly did you have in mind? In the days of flesh eating bacteria when new sorts of diseases keep cropping up due to negligent practices (eg over prescription of antibiotics) in the past
    people are vulnerable to non-resistant strains of old illnesses? But why have no specialists stepped forward with theories? Are the doctors secretly willing to yield to psychiatry because they do not want to admit their own limitations? Or failures in the past?

    Why are the kind of tests you mention routinely NOT done when they are indicated?

    Your suggestions raise many more questions. I wonder if you have any more theories that might throw light on this? As people here are aware a psychiatric diagnosis is always a crime–it means the patient will be subject to further crimes of commission (e.g.,toxic psychiatric drugs) and omission–no treatment. However we forget that modern medicine is guilty of its own distinctive brand of negligence–it too is dominated by the drug industry, and thus it is tragically limited by the failure of the latter to fund any kind of research that is not to its own advantage. What should be done?
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Nick, You’re right. We are discussing THE GREAT TABOO–DRUGS
    You’re right because my formulation was careless. But I never referred to a disease, but to an unwanted feeling. I had in mind something stronger than MILD anxiety. We need a more precise phenomenological language for drugs and unwanted anxiety states. Supposedly the Eskimos have 100 words for snow. So to “wind down,” to mitigate mild anxiety for many if not most people, alcohol or marijuana would be optimum. Many people find marijuana makes them more tense, “paranoid.” So we are dealing with idiosyncratic effects–which is common with drugs.

    Anyone who has been to a party knows alcohol mitigates social anxiety and facilitates social interaction. That is a positive effect. The puritan school opposes all use of drugs (like alcohol) for this purpose, and thus will not admit alcohol’s promotion of social intercourse is an asset . I would prefer to see them–and all drugs– used more carefully.

    When I spoke of benzos for anxiety I had in mind more intense anxiety. I do NOT accept the medical model. That is why I said,e.g., people do not suffer from schizophrenia. They suffer from anxiety. Once you accept this as your premise the patient
    should be offered a choice of a variety of substances to alleviate anxiety. One can use drugs to alter mood. For intense anxiety in a hospital or Soteria type setting a benzo is probably going to be the best option. Richard Lewis pointed out there are other comparable options like Vistaril or neurontin. All of these drugs are better in terms of risk/benefit ratio than neuroleptics.

    The antipsychiatry activists I’ve known all had extremely adverse reaction to neuroleptics—from the start it made them feel awful. Just as it did Soviet dissidents. Patients should be offered benzos and similar drugs as options, not forced to take “anti-psychotics.” You all seem to be missing my point. First, it is humane to offer patients some sort of drug to alleviate unpleasant states ranging from anxiety to panic. Second, even alternative psychiatrists seem to consider neuroleptics the only option albeit on a temporary basis. This makes no sense–it’s inconsistent.

    Conventional psychiatrists are threatened by the use of alternatives to neuroleptics (“anti-psychotics”) because they undermine the premise that what is being treated is psychotic illness, rather than unwanted feelings. People like Phil and Richard are so opposed to the use of drugs they will not even consider benzos or eg neurotin as alternatives to neuroleptics for the management of anxiety. It is a topic that remains unspoken. It is taboo.

    So by default neuroleptics are tolerated even by alternative professionals who are opposed to long term drugging. If this statement is untrue than I ask Mr Lewis or Dr Hickey where on this page or anywhere else have they discussed any kind of positive use of drugs–at least from a harm reduction or lesser evil perspective?

    So what would they advocate for a patient in a state of panic–“schizophrenic”– who ends up on a psychiatric ward? I would advocate their right to take Valium, Klonapin or Neurontin (or nothing) as an alternative to neuroleptics. I agree that benzos are used–prescribed– irresponsibly by psychiatrists. But why is there no discussion about their positive aspects—their use as alternative means of mitigating anxiety???? Let’s be realistic. Sometimes patients are in intolerable states of panic. Do they not have a right to be given a drug to alleviate this panic? Should we not admit benzos then have a potential positive use?
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Michael concludes:”I hope that our society doesn’t persist in the fear-induced reaction that forces people in our communities who are experiencing extreme states to experience violations of their human rights as well.”
    It will.

    It’s not right, and it’s not necessary.” It’s necessary to preserve the medical model and to ensure that the drug companies will be able to sell toxic drugs to clients increasingly reluctant to ingest these drugs. Once again we have vested interests overriding the rights of low status vulnerable citizens. In 1986 the NY State Supreme Court ruled that the State constitution–which is identical with US–
    prevented the kind of forced drugging that was made possible about 15 years later by the legislation known as Kendra’s Law. The study used to justify the passage of Kendra’s Law was misinterpreted by its authors. Its claim that patients subjected to forced treatment did better than the control group overlooked the fact that only the experimental group received enhanced services and most importantly affordable housing. Let me point out here in NY it is virtually impossible for the poor to find decent housing without consenting to be subjected to brain-damaging drugs, i.e., “anti-psychotics” in residences for the “mentally ill.”

    In Rivers v Katz the Court ruled “the due process clause of the New York State Constitution (art I, § 6) affords involuntarily committed mental patients a fundamental right to refuse antipsychotic medication….We reject any argument that the mere fact that appellants are mentally ill reduces in any manner their fundamental liberty interest to reject antipsychotic medication. We likewise reject any argument that involuntarily committed patients lose their liberty interest in avoiding the unwanted administration of antipsychotic medication.” The ruling explicitly rejects the contention that “the mentally ill” are incapable of making their own treatment decisions and permits overriding patient’s liberty interests ONLY if they constitute a danger to themselves or others.” But the NY Times justifies their use on the basis of the contention that they are good for clients—a violation of their right to choose.

    In River Vs Katz the Court ruled that, “the sine qua non for the state’s use of its parens patriae power as justification for the forceful administration of mind-affecting drugs is a determination that the individual to whom the drugs are to be administered lacks the capacity to decide for himself whether he should take the drugs.” Lack of capacity may not be inferred from the determination that the patient is mentally ill nor from the patient’s choice NOT to take the drugs. This fundamental provision–this protection of patients’ right of control over their own bodies–is violated by AOT laws which base coercive treatment on the patients’ refusal to submit to forced drugging in the absence of any demonstration of incapacity.

    WE now know with far greater certainty than we did in 1986 that long term use of anti-psychotics is typically very harmful. Forcing patients to submit to these treatments or making the availability of fundamental resources like housing conditional on taking these drugs is a violation of patients’ constitutional and human rights. It is not done to help patients, but to cater to the demands of the drug companies and the mental health system.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I don’t have all the answers. But many people have commented how odd these “parents” were. most did NOT manifest the kind of grief that is typical after losing a child. Some seemed to lack emotion. Others laughed in inappropriate manner considering the context.. Maybe some kids died. But we were not shown any bodies. Not even any ambulances. Only one shot of unharmed survivors leaving school. You obviously did not look at brief video to which I linked–above.
    Adam Lanza is supposed to have been gone to this school, walked past security system with a gun
    and then in record time shot 24 or so children, every bullet lethal but one. Amazing sharpshooting for a autistic kid. He was not even a student in that school. Neighbors had not seen him in over 3 yrs. Has the state presented compelling evidence–on the media–that Adam Lanza was guilty of multiple homicides? They have not even presented bodies. Or death certificates They could never have proved their case if Adam were alive. There is one obvious victim.,
    People who accept the official version are inclined to trust authorities.
    I am not.
    I think it was SOME kind of psych-ops. MK-Ultra never ended–it went “dark.”
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • AgniYoga, This article “A Century of Deceit: Iraq, the World Wars, Holocaust and Zionist Militarism” is misleading.While I agree with much of it characterization of Zionism it repeats anti-Semitic canards and essentially seeks to minimize and justify the Nazi holocaust. It denies the virulent anti-Semitism of Hitler, and claims the internment of Jews was merely a measure taken
    to help Germany win the war. It denies the obvious–the racialist ideology of the Nazis and their intention of eliminating “inferior races.”

    I agree with one of its main points–the interest of Zionists and Nazis were complementary. Ben Gurion knew that the rise of Nazis would gain support for the Zionist cause –which was highly unpopular among Jews. The overwhelming majority of German Jews were anti-Zionists (a point omitted in this article) and saw themselves as Germans who happened to be Jews. That was the Reform Jewish position then–in America also until the rise of the Nazis.. It was right-wing Zionists like Jabotinsky who actually wrote letters to Nazis proposing collaboration with the German war effort in exchange for Nazi support for Jewish state. (See Zionism in the Age of Dictators by Lenni Brunner) Both the Zionist and the Nazis believed Jews did not belong in Germany or other democratic states. The Nazis believed the Jews, among others, were an inferior race who threatened to contaminate the purity of the Aryans. THe German holocaust was based on a racial purity paradigm that led to “ethnic cleansing” and then genocide. Tragically Israel today is based on the same paradigm, and thus it contains the Palestinians in open air prisons, subjects them to apartheid and starvation and regards them with the same contempt of which Jews were once victims. By denying the injustice done to European Jewry by Nazis, you are endorsing the same paradigm you claim to decry. You are as guilty as American and Israeli Zionists.
    I suggest you read my 2005 book
    Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers: Conversations with Jewish Critics of Israel which includes conversations with anti-Zionists like Chomsky, Finkelstein, and Rabbi Dovid Weiss among others.

  • You do not stick to a point but jump around from topic to topic. It’s irrelevant whether you like Primo Levi–that wasn’t my point. I don’t like Elie Weisel either and I wrote a book attacking Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. And what do you think of UFO’s and ETs? Is there a government cover-up?
    Come on. Stick to the topic.

    My point was simple. I agree with you about dealing with the emotional pain “psychotics” experience—before they become entangled with the mental health system. You make some perceptive observations. But I do not agree with you regarding patients’ treatment BY the mental health system. It is NOT helpful to obscure and deny the power dynamic. We need to expose the function and destructiveness of the psychiatric pharmaceutical industrial complex. Survivors need to protest injustice and demand their rights. To deny Psychiatry’s responsibility for the oppression of “mental patients” is analogous to denying Nazis’ responsibility for the German holocaust. You are confusing the political and the metaphysical, the victim and the oppressor–this is not education, it is not metaphysical, it is mystification.

  • You do not stick to a point but jump around from topic to topic. It’s irrelevant whether you like Primo Levi–that wasn’t my point. I don’t like Elie Weisel either and I wrote a book attacking Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. And what do you think of UFO’s and ETs? Is there a government cover-up?
    Come on. Stick to the topic.
    My point was simple. I agree with you about dealing with the emotional pain “psychotics” experience—before they become entangled with the mental health system. You make some perceptive observations. But I do not agree with you regarding patients’ treatment BY the mental health system. It is NOT helpful to obscure and deny the power dynamic. We need to expose the function and destructiveness of the psychiatric pharmaceutical industrial complex. Survivors need to protest injustice and demand their rights. To deny Psychiatry’s responsibility for the oppression of “mental patients” is analogous to denying Nazis’ responsibility for the German holocaust. You are confusing the political and the metaphysical, the victim and the oppressor–this is not education, it is not metaphysical, it is mystification.

  • I also believe in reincarnation, but I don’t see how it vitiates my point: That the idea of “mental illness exists because there is an industry which profits from it. I agree on a deeper level they do not really profit from it because one can never attain true spiritual well being at the expenses of others. Nonetheless those who are profiting financially from this system are attached to it. There are rare
    dissidents, whistleblowers etc–like Szasz, Breggin etc–but they are a very small group. So this system which destroys bodies and souls will continue to exist. It remains as an impediment to individual and collective growth.

    If you were to ask Solzhenitsyn if it were worth it so that he could become the greatest historical. writer of the 20th century he would not hesitate for a
    moment: No. Was Auschwitz worth it also –l so that Primo Levi and Elie Weisel would write their books?

    You write:
    “So the “mentally ill” person can fight their condition or they can accept the challenge of these dark thoughts and emotions. If they do the former they fall into the hands of the psychiatrist and his mechanical model of the human being. If they do the latter to educate themselves and gradually transition to a different condition and eventually the illness is in the past. This is not a theory. ” What does it mean “to accept the challenge of these dark thoughts” ?
    You might be right, but I’m not sure what you mean. If you mean that there can be growth through overcoming adversity and understanding one is partially responsible–perhaps over many life times–for attracting certain difficult situations, I agree. If you mean they have more power than they think I agree. But one can take that too far.
    For example you say they should not “fight their condition”? They should certainly fight against being locked up and forced- drugged. They should join with others in fighting to destroy or at least expose the system. If you think there is “growth” from succumbing to domination I think you are wrong. Change must be both individual and collective.

  • AgniYoga
    You write: “I have some trouble understanding your comment.” Well now you’ve added more theories.
    There is nothing ambiguous about my comment. You ask rhetorically in 2nd paragraph of first statement, “Who is in charge? Concepts and words or people?” You reiterate that “[i]n any case in the second paragraph I am pointing to the danger of our words and concepts” I agree with you that the words used (e.g.”mental illness”) are oppressive, mystifying, but you implication is that humanity AS A WHOLE is the victim of these words and concepts. That is too vague an explanation. It contradicts what you imply in first paragraph in which you use the SU as an analogy–the power of the oligarchy, the elite is turned against the people, particularly those who are different.

    You cannot understand the oppression of the so called mentally ill without examining the stratification of wealth and deployment of power. While the medical model is used to obscure these realities it persists because SOME people benefit. Thomas Szasz always asked “Cui bono?” The beneficiaries today of an ever increasing population of chronic psych drug users are the members of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex. The metaphors that mystify don’t just float in the air like viruses that might afflict anyone. They are sustained because certain people benefit from them. And before the victims will reject these concepts and assert their autonomy they must first understand that those who pose as their benefactors are profiting from their suffering.

  • AgniYoga
    Your comments are insightful (although overstated) but your second paragraph contradicts your first.
    The concepts are used because they serve the needs of power, of “the oligarchy.” It’s not purely a matter of everyone being a victim of concepts. The medical model serves the goal of social control, of surveillance and control (Foucault) and of profit. (The industry wants permanent customers, as Bob Whitaker points out.)
    Again there is no reason to believe the official story. no reason to believer Adam Lanza was anything other than a patsy.

  • I should add that these incidents ARE being used to justify forced treatment and that although I don’t believe the Adam Lanza story there is copious evidence that SSRIs–eg Lexapro—cause Jekyl and Hyde reactions (see Breggin, Healy,Ann Blake Tracy), that the majority of school shooters were on SSRIs. The EFFECT of these false flag incidents is to create support for greater surveillance
    and control of the population.
    Thus I agree of course with the author: “This is a disservice to the people of Connecticut and any other state legislating increased mental health services in response to the Sandy Hook shooting.”

  • We cannot even conclude Adam Lanza was the perpetrator. Another lone gun man story–Ithink Adam Lanza was a “PATSY,” to use tghe immortal term of Leee HarveyOswald. The official story strains credibility. We are to believe that Adam Lanza was such an expert marksman– he shot off numerous bullets in record time and almost every one was lethal. Furthermore we are to disregard the other suspect who was originally picked up and released by the police. The most suspicious feature was the absence of any footage of the bodies. Anybody who does not have complete faith in our government, press, intelligence agencies etc will not conclude Adam Lanza shot over 20 people and then himself. This was some kind of psych-ops operation–the motives (I don’t buy that the purpose was to create groundswell of support for “gun control”) and the reasons are unclear. We live in a strange country where the population–at least the majority who relies upon mainstream media– is kept in the dark about most matters. But this is not unprecedented.(See MK-Ultra.) Here is a short video that raises the most important question. On the right there are many others.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • It does not “prolong” chronicity, Jonathan. It creates chronicity. The difference between 2 years and a life time is qualitative. Even the two years equivalence is misleading, since we are comparing detrimental treatment with no treatment. All of these articles present revolutionary data but still insist that SOME persons are helped by anti-psychotics, even in the long run. Even Dr Moncrieff asserts this!–on the basis of no evidence, at least none in her articles. I challenged her on this but she was evasive. Is this a ploy to enable critics of psychiatry to get our Trojan horse in the enemy camp?

    A very small percentage of patients who take the drugs (neuroleptics) do not manifest psychosis. These persons were resilient enough that they endured the neuroleptics, and the symptoms disappeared.There is no evidence the neuroleptic was the decisive variable. It could have been the passage of time or placebo effect. Further what reason is there to believe this group would not have done better with no neuroleptics or with a placebo alone? Or with the kind of treatment pioneered by Laing and Soteria? Yet this assumption is made even by critical psychiatrists. Why? Further how can any doctor justify prescribing such harmful drugs?

    I have to give Harrow credit. He has asked the question that virtually everyone– even Bob Whitaker and Joanna Moncrieff– has shied away from:”If multi-year use of antipsychotics increases
    the possibility of psychosis, as the data suggest, does
    it increase it for some or all SZ?”

    I have little doubt it will increase it for all “schizophrenics.” These drugs were first introduced because they made patients seriously physically ill (see David Cohen) and thus easy to control. The idea that anyone would benefit from them is the remnant of an atavistic sensibility.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • ColinB897 Thanks for your lucid analysis” . “Groupings and movements and systems have to be built around and across that recovery and retrieval.”
    ” It researches the ground and dynamics of the disempowering power; it researches what countervails that power. ”
    “The question then is what is involved in the meta-resourcing of that streaming. Clearly that meta-resourcing is counter-cultural, because what it intends opposes what a prevailing culture is mediating.”

    What is IT that countervails that power? It is NOT power. It is the opposite of the power Foucault so well describes. It is love, a culture based upon love. I don’t know if Foucault ever acknowledged his mistake..He engaged in a performative self contradiction since his critique–and it was a critique– assumed something outside and beyond the will to power. It must be love– which presumes ontological equality . Such a resourcing is INDEED counter-cultural. Its contestation must be more than local. It must be universal, metaphysical, it must be based upon a vision cosmic in its scope–it must constitute a counter-culture. The 60s Resistance knew this –before it became sectarian. For example “Make love, not war.” The feminists knew this: “The personal is political.” Love is the basis for a critique of domination, for an alternative culture.
    My latest book argues that premise–and argues that the anticipation of a radical counter-culture, the “seed -insight,” can be found in the visions of the Mad. (“My sense is that the seed-insight for that meta-resource is already in play in the existentiality of those psychiatry sorely treats.”) To abdicate such a vision in favor of single issue campaigns has been the doom of the anti-psychiatry movement, of the survivors’ movement. The Mad movement betrays its calling when its chooses identity politics over universality, rationality over its own utopian-messianic vision of human– of cosmic –redemption.

  • A powerful piece, terse, eloquent and astute. . I have to agree with Someone Else even though I disagree with his/her contention that corporations should not be bashed. But the latter is for another time.
    What needs to be focused upon is the collusion of the State with the psychiatrists and the corporations. These hearings assume that psychiatrists and hospitals may have biases. That is the ASSUMPTION that led to the institution of civil hearings in the first place. Their existence is due to victories won by civil liberty lobby inspired by Szasz in the 1960s, a victory that has been completely vitiated due to judicial deference to hospital psychiatrists (and the absence of non-hospital shrinks, unless the parents are canny and rich).
    Everywhere we turn today we see that the State is an instrument of corporate power. Regulation, for example, is meaningless, as the regulatory agencies are captured by the corporations–usually through the revolving door. In this case it seem there is no financial incentive–but there might be. (We’ve read about the judges who got kickbacks for sending kids who had committed misdemeanors to private prisons.) Here in NYC before a person is committed to a psych ward she is entitled to a hearing. 20 years ago, Tina Minkowitz Esq did a study of the Brooklyn civil courts and found that the judges almost never refused to go along with the hospital psychiatrists. So the hearings are show trials, witch trials– rituals whose REAL function is to legitimize the subjugation of the vulnerable to psychiatric power.
    And consider also the role of Child Welfare—this also is corrupt as I demonstrated in articles I wrote in the 1990s.It kidnaps children. It augments the growth of CWA, it does not protect children, except incidentally sometimes.
    The State is an instrument today for the imposition of corporate and elite power. It is not a tool– although it once was to some degree– for the protection of individual rights or the common good. It serves the 1%, not the demos.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Richard,
    I answered Philip above.

    First of all let’s get this opiate thing off the table. Maybe you and Phil keep know as mentioning it because you work with opiate addicts. The survivors I know as friends comrades or clients have not been opiate users. So I have no reason to even contemplate that point. It’s obviously an important point for those who work with opiate abusers.

    You write,”You, on the other hand, do not completely uphold the drug centered model because it appears that you approve of all drugs being prescribed and used (if someone so chooses) except the category of drugs originally called major tranquilizers (mislabeled as ” anti-psychotics”).”
    There is no inconsistency there. I’m also against the use of arsenic. My point is that the most harmful drugs are first neuroleptics and second the SSRIs. There are many critical psychiatrists who agree with this. Ron Leifer did–when I interviewed him for my first book, although we did not discuss SSRIs. And Peter Stastny did when I interviewed him recently. Many of these psychiatrists believe benzos should be used in hospital settings rather than neuroleptics.
    Read David Cohen’s articles on the history of neuroleptics. Psychiatrists wanted to make people physically ill as means of sedating them. Furthermore they promoted Thorazine as a chemical substitute for a lobotomy.” Read also about the Russiasn dissidents on these drugs. In the Harrow experiment as I recall 40%
    of non-drugged patients made a full recovery, 5% of those on neuroleptics did.
    The higher the dosage, the more toxic.
    I suggested benzos but you’re right Vistaril, Neurontin are probably also benign means of alleviating anxiety.

    I’m not sure the point you’re making in the middle. That anything can be interpreted in an infinite variety of ways. Yes in theory. But shrinks want to keep patients on “anti-psychotics” and taking these drugs sustains the propaganda.

    You ask if I don’t believe you have the right to say to a client “I can no longer prescribe you this drug anymore in good faith because I believe (based on all my knowledge) I would be causing you far more harm than good” ? Yes I do. I wrote “psychiatrists do not have the right to deny patients the right to use benzo’s to alleviate anxiety. They are the least harmful tranquilizing drugs and since persons cannot get them without a prescription …” I deliberately wrote “psychiatrists.” I did not mean that every psychiatrist has the responsibility to offer benzos to patients. Here in NY I worked recently with several friends to find a psychiatrist who would help them get off drugs, or see them without demanding they take drugs.

    My first friend, Susan, found a pro-drug psychiatrist who said he’d help her decrease Valium. She had been off neuroleptics for months. She postponed getting off Valium because she is under too much pressure, and she feels now is not the time to cut back. None of the MIA psychiatrists were seeing patients except one who charged $425 per hour–every week. The person who wanted to find a psychiatrist who would not force her to take drugs had no luck. I am thinking of advising her to ask him for something less toxic than neuroleptics. Without a psychiatrists she will likely be committed again. A shrink seems to be the only insurance policy.

    I have met those people who say benzos were a living hell for them. Every one I met was taking very high dosages–the equivalent of 30-60 milligrams of Valium a day, or more.

    I do not believe in long term regular use of benzos or any drug for anxiety–I’m not sure I made that clear.I would encourage people to use a variety of non-chemical ways of reducing anxiety. I believe that some people need to have it around for emergencies and sleeplessness, and may need to take benzos or whatever it for patches of time–to avoid being hospitalized, to avoid being subjected to AOTs.. Switching between benzos and the other drugs you mentioned is one way to avoid tolerance.

    You wrote, “Seth, can’t we also say, with some science to back it up, that Benzos are the best drugs at INCREASING AND SUSTAINING anxiety in some people over the long haul. For as tolerance develops some people experience increased breakthrough anxiety (with their natural coping mechanisms now suffering from almost total atrophy due to long term dependency) and anxiety now becomes a sustaining factor in their life.” I am not familiar with this. I have seen tolerance develop and the drug ceases to be effective. My assumption is that this is what happened. I have not read anywhere that “they sustain anxiety over the long haul.” I have no way to assess this. I’ll read the references. I don’t know if you reference that in “Addiction, Biological Psychiatry, and the Disease Model.” I don’t have time to look now but I’ll look later.

    I have to go back to some work

  • Philip,
    I was pleased to see that regardless of your “Calvinist” attitude toward drugs, you support patients’ right to make their own choice.

    You write, ” I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take these products. If they choose to take them, let them take them. What I’m saying is that we need to stop pretending that they are medications, and that they are being used to treat an illness: “, ” I have stated that my issue is not with people choosing to use psycho-pharmaceutical products, but rather with the psychiatric fiction that these products are medications being prescribed by psychiatrists to treat illnesses. ”

    I completely agree with this position–although I still think you have a prejudice against the use of drugs to alter consciousness, but contrary to my suppositions you make it clear at any rate that you support people’s right to make these decisions. And your target is Psychiatry and its use of the medical model to maintain its hegemony and to augment its growth and relationship with the drug industry .

    I was using the term “ideological” in a different sense, as is typically used by anarchists or Marxists to denote a process of mystification. I describe Moncrieff’s drug-centered approach as non-ideological, meaning transparent as opposed to the mystifications of the medical model. (I was not contrasting it to your position because I thought you were opposing the use of drugs. )So I agree with you characterization of Moncrieff’s position. It is the only honest approach to the use of drugs. But unlike Breggin I believe drugs can have positive functions and persons have to weigh their assets against their risks. Although you praise Moncrieff your position is really Breggin’s. You regard all drug as neuro-toxins that should be avoided. Ironically I had a dispute with Moncrieff because of her defense of neuroleptics in some cases. However I agree with her about other drugs.

    Years ago I saw a “schizophrenic” who had not spoken in at least 10 years become passionately involved in a conversation with another resident after he had a glass of champagne(This was an unusual half-way house in the Bay Area.) I don’t know of anyone who has explored its potential to foster social interaction among withdrawn patients but we do know many of the great American writers attributed their inspiration to alcohol. Of course for the most part they used alcohol self-destructively but as any shaman knows one has to learn to master a drug lest one become its slave.

    Moncrieff provides an alternative to Breggin anti-drug approach. A drug-centered approach would weight the pros and cons of every drug. For example, any psychiatrist using this approach would warn clients of the dangers, as you have, of combining Valium and opiates. She would also warn clients that benzos have “a very high addictive potential.” I would be inclined to explain and qualify this characterization. I think their high addictive potential is in large part because they make people feel good as opposed to neuroleptics which make people feel awful.

    I do not believe based on observation of friends and clients who were survivors (and my own occasional use–I had a back injury that required muscle relaxants) that they are any more addictive than neuroleptics –that is I do not believe they are harder to withdraw from, although psychiatrists will repeatedly warn “schizophrenics” of how addictive benzos are. So if you are implying that Valium has a higher addictive potential than Risperdal, I am skeptical.(Valium, for some reason is virtually never prescribed. It has been replaced by more addictive benzos like Ativan.) Is this not
    a mystifying way of saying patients like benzos better and thus are more inclined to abuse them, rather than that they have more intense withdrawal effects allow to moderate levels? And if so how is this relevant to individuals who are not inclined to abuse drugs?

    I want to point out to you that what I am doing here is applying a drug centered model like Moncrieff’s to the problems of living.

    Benzos would admittedly be problematic for clients who have a tendency to take drugs to get high. Those are the clients who use them “recklessly.” I had a friend who was an alcohol abuser and a crack fiend–sadly she died at 42. If she had access to Valium she would take them in handfuls. She was an extreme but the more inclined one is to abuse drugs with a “highness potential” the poorer a candidate one would be for benzos. Persons like these might find themselves in a living hell. Obviously there are psychiatrists who recklessly prescribe benzos

    These drugs have value when they are used cautiously to alleviate anxiety or panic. They have a low threshold for tolerance so the less frequently they are taken the more effective they will be. Most “psychotics” are not inclined to abuse benzos.

    ” Addictive” is a word used to scare “patients.” Thus I have never heard of a psychiatrist who warned patients of the “addictive” nature of neuroleptics. Never.
    Psychiatrists are threatened by mad persons use of benzos. Successful use of benzos by “psychotics” undermines the claim that they suffer from a disease, not from anxiety. The efforts to pathologize anxiety has not been successful: Almost every one knows that anxiety is a feature of life in the modern world. And most people feel they sometimes “need” a few beers, a little wine or a joint to take the edge off. If the mad start learning to function without “anti-psychotics” the “sacred symbol of psychiatry” is going to lose it bedrock reality.

    Certainly with benzos there is a low threshold for tolerance. That is an argument for using them carefully. One might avoid taking them every day. In my opinion it is not an argument in favor of the use of neuroleptics.It is an argument for using meditation or music as an alternative but these do not always work. Of course medicalists (my word for adherents to the medical model) will urge “schizophrenics” or “bipolar 2’s” to take neuroleptics, not benzos. As a non-medicalist I believe persons suffer from anxiety, not from “schizophrenia” and not from “anxiety disorder.”

    When I interviewed people for my first book I discovered that everyone of these people who rejected the medical model and repudiated their diagnosis of “schizophrenia” (this was before “bipolar” became popular) had a terrible reaction to neuroleptics the first time they were given it. It was not tranquilizing for them, it was sickening.It sedated them in the same way as a bad flu does. For all of them neuroleptics were a hellish experience.
    After they were on it for more than a few days they began to develop the zombie effect–they became emotionally indifferent to everything.The shrinks always told them they would need to take it for their entire lives.

    While I argue that most of the suffering of “mental patients” is iatrogenic it is true that many first break patients were in a state of panic even before they were apprehended, before they were hospitalized. The humane thing to do is to offer such patients some sort of real tranquilizer, Benzos are effective. So are other drugs Lewis mentions like Neurontin. Maybe you do not have a Calvinist approach but many in our camp do. They feel the “patient” should tough it out on her own– that is the “purer” more “holistic” way. Breggin is opposed to all drugs since he believes they all, including alcohol, cause brain damage. He believes every drug is neuro-toxic. In Breggin’s ideal world no one would ever drink wine. But Moncrieff’s approach is different than Breggin’s.

    You have not understood what Madmom and Hermes and I have been saying.
    We live under a regime of psychiatric slavery. Any mad person not on neuroleptics risks being picked up and taken before a judge and ordered to go to out patient trreat3ntake “anti-psychotics”. I know people who have been cheated out of a life. One cannot function on neuroleptics.

    The best solution for a “psychotic crisis would be inexpensive housing, a rich support network etc etc. A support network for people who say strange things is very hard to find outside of virtual reality–but that is not the same.
    As far as housing Psychiatry and the State give the mad a restricted array of options–but they all involve being looked over by mental health professionals. Perhaps it’s different in Colorado but patients here are fortunate if they can stay off neuroleptics–that requires finding the right kind of housing and the kind of psychiatrist who does not exist. I had a friend who was an activist against the system for years. When her mother died she was unable to find a place to live. After 35 years of fighting the system she ended up in a halfway house. She developed tardive dyskinesia in one year. When I saw her I was shocked: She looked like a patient with a bad case of Parkinson’s.

    “I think our energies would be better spent in directly challenging the use of the major tranquilizers.” I think neuroleptics are poisons that no humane doctor would ever prescribe to a patient who was not already on them. But your statement is comparable to a socialist who says, “Our energy would be better spent in challenging capitalism than in trying to get higher wages.” Every day I deal with people who are victims of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex–they spend much of their times worrying about how to avoid being caught and subjected to forced outpatient commitment. They’ve been on these drugs before—they knows it would be a death sentence–so they live in fear.One friend of mine will say “delusional” things to the wrong people if she does not get enough sleep. Thus she takes a sleeping pill sometimes on top on benzos. That way she can avoid being forced to take neuroleptics–ie being forced to undergo a chemical lobotomy. “Oh God what are we doing to our visionaries” cried John Weir Perry.

    My recent book discusses these questions in passing. I discuss in greater detail the theories of various critics of psychiatry– with more emphasis on Laing than Szasz because the book is on the Mad Pride movement. It includes interviews with Oaks and DuBrul and a Foreword by Kate Millett. Like Laing in The Politics of Experience, 1967(Laing retreated from this position 2 years later) I argue that the mad are the potential vanguard of a new Great Awakening based upon the propagation of a utopian-messianic vision. But if the mad are going to play this redemptive role they have to protect their minds, they have to find ways to avoid being captured by the mind-police.

    I’m behind schedule–I’ll read the other article of yours you mentioned later
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • But Someone Else thinks mainstream doctors might become a “force for change” re Psychiatry. That will not happen. Besides although medicine is not as bogus as psychiatry it too is corrupt. The AMA is not much better than the APA. The drug companies and insurance companies have turned all of medicine into an industry.
    ColinB makes some brilliant points. Foucault’s writings are prophetic but the system has gone beyond anything Foucault imagined. You write: “What we then require are the meta-perspectives of resistance.” We have meta-perspectives—of heroic resistance, not yet of effective resistance
    because the system has no bounds–there is no inside that remains a sanctum .
    Are you aware of groups of “targeted individuals”? MK-Ultra was never stopped. When Church Congessional committee outlawed such experiments in the 1970s, they simply went underground. They now have the ability literally to read people’s minds and put voices in their head through Voice to Skull technology using electro-magnetic or microwaves wave frequencies. This technology has been written about by Robert Duncan who has MIT doctorate and interviewed 600+ targeted persons. Here is the description by European Coalition against Covert Harrassment. This describes video that you can watch online :Using detailed research, the EUCACH.ORG panelists—Magnus Olsson, Dr. Henning Witte, and Melanie Vritschan– describe Transhumanist Agenda that is now using advanced scalar technologies, super quantum computers, a quantum cloud, a super grid of over 1000 grids that is connected to HAARP for global coordinated mind control of a growing population of human robots that are created via these technologies for a global control and enslavement agenda. EUCACH.ORG Panel

    Magnus Olsson, Dr. Henning Witte, and Melanie Vritschan, three experts from the European Coalition Against Covert Harassment, revealed recent technological advances in human robotization and nano implant technologies, and an acceleration of what Melanie Vritschan characterized as a “global enslavement program”.\

    People ARE resisting but they cannot yet stop the invasion of their brains. But they resist.

  • Richard, Phil
    I said that I agree with Phil Hickey’s “impassioned and astute argument against the disease model” and of the medicalization of the problems of living. However I feel it is my responsibility to bring up an issue that is virtually always ignored here. Any argument against drugs will meet an enthusiastic reception because it accords with the general anti-drug orientation of most readers. You may accuse me of “arrogance” but I think Madmom’s reluctant confirmation of my point is an indication that I am raising an issue that will be ignored if I don’t make my point with vehemence. Manmom’s bemusement– “crazy,” “ironic” — confirms that I am
    ,stating something unfamiliar, taboo–because it’s just not said. Let me remind you that conventional shrinks never talk about the option of putting schizophrenics on “MINOR tranquilizers” instead of neuroleptics. And here it’s not cool to advocate any drugs.

    You may be right about the statistics but I don’t consider my point secondary. Most of the people for whom I advocate are “psychotics” and most survivors (including most posters here) have been locked up and labeled bi-polar or schizophrenics–these groups are the vanguard in the movement. All of my books are attacks on the psychiatric-pharmaceutical complex. So I took the opportunity to raise points that are not discussed here at MIA, instead of reaffirming the points where I agreed.

    Let me bring up 2 fundamental premises of yours and Hickey’s that are antithetical to my beliefs.
    Hickey writes
    “The fact is that anxiety is not an illness, and drugs that dissipate anxiety are not medications – they are drugs.” That’s right. But Hickey implies that the use of drugs is illegitimate, while the use of medication is justified. (I expressed myself ambiguously because the computer deleted my first response–and I was rushing. I will try to be clearer) My sense is that you and Hickey share the culture’s double standard re licit and illicit drugs. This is the “Calvinism” that leads the two of you to speak of “drugs” with such disdain. I support the responsible use of alcohol to alleviate social anxieties and facilitate social intercourse. I support the use of LSD to “expand” consciousness.” I support the use of drugs. They are as “legitimate” to me as medications.

    My objection is to medicalization of the problems of living, to the alliance of the drug companies and “mental health” professions and to the campaign of misinformation that leads people to take SSRIs despite their inefficacy and risks and neuroleptics which in my opinion are no better than chemical lobotomies. I can’t elaborate here but I think you and I have antithetical premises. One measure upon which we would probably agree is the following– I strongly support re instituting the APA’s pre-1980s ban on accepting money from the drug companies.

    Here is another fundamental premise about which we disagree. You write (and I’m sure Hickey agrees): “A doctor has responsibility way beyond “Informed Consent.” Doctors must also be completely aware of their power and prestige in the therapeutic relationship. They must also be aware that in our culture of addiction and demand for quick fixes that vulnerable patients might be willing to take risks that doctors need to protect them from. The case of antibiotics is a good example where this guidance is essential in overriding the desire and demands of a patient.” I agree with much of your eloquent formulation here but not if it is intended to replace informed consent. That is not if it leaves the final choice with the doctor. I strongly believe the final choice should belong to the client. I think you disagree–I think you probably favor benevolent paternalism.

    What I meant to say last time–I think you misunderstood because of my ambiguity –is that psychiatrists do not have the right to deny patients the right to use benzo’s to alleviate anxiety. They are the least harmful tranquilizing drugs and since persons cannot get them without a prescription THE CHOICE SHOULD BE WITH THE CLIENT. I do not think you or Hickey agree. I think you feel the doctor should have the right to make that choice for the client. Is that not right DR Hickey? Is hat NOT your position?

    So you see there are fundamental differences between us.

    How do you get “psychotic” patients off drugs.I support Moincrieff’s drug centered model of psychiatry. But as Madmom and I agreed psychiatrists refuse to .do this. I think the key is building up informal support groups–with the support sometimes of an outside non- medical therapist . That means for many patients being on benzos for more than a few months may be necessary if they can get access to it. And if they do not have .a tendency to abuse drugs. Many patients have realistic anxieties because of the risk of being committed by a relative, neighbor or shrink.

    But you stated, “once again, anything beyond a few weeks, in almost all cases is getting into addiction territory and long term dependency…”: That is too doctrinaire a position. Of course it is true that after a few weeks you get into tolerance territory. Anyone advising the client must take that into account but again I think your puritanical bias against drugs is coloring your assessment. My goal is to get clients and friends off of neuroleptics and keep them out of chronic patienthood. To say that every client becomes addicted is the stuff of Reefer Madness–the film. Benzos are best drugs for alleviating anxiety. Meditation obviously has less side effect but it may take times before clients can master it.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Since your argument Madmon amplifies mine, however reluctantly, I want to highlight a few points before I respond to Dr Lewis. First of all I am arguing that arguments like Dr Hickey are insufficiently insensitive to the needs of so-called psychotic people.

    Let me reiterate my opposition to the disease model. Thomas Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book in 1993(Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels) on the battle of “schizophrenics” to maintain their integrity under the assault of the mental death system. Unlike Tom I thibk Laing also made an important contribution.

    As you say Madmom it is virtually impossible to find a psychiatrist who is willing to help “psychotics” withdraw from neuroleptics. I pointed this out in my first response which I lost when my computer went off. So I’ll repeat. Here in NYC there are several non-medicalist (as I call it) psychiatrists. Most of them don’t take clients or they do but will not prescribe drugs–thus they are no help to patients who needs to wean herself off. There is another doctor here who is “holistic.” She gives vitamins instead of drugs. She may prescribe drugs temporarily (until the patient gets off) but since she insists on weekly sessions and charges $425 a session what good is she for the thousands labeled “schizophrenic” or “bipolar”? And this is NYC!

    So patients face a daunting task. Anyone who has ever been locked up is in danger of being locked up again. These are the conditions of those former captives who live under the regime of psychiatric slavery. Certainly they live in fear, and they have every right to take drugs that mitigate their fear–alcohol, marijuana or benzo’s. They have no trouble getting neuroleptics because an army of psychiatric vulture swarm about them waiting for the opportunity to force neuroleptics on them. Neuroleptics is in a class by itself–both in terms of the risks entailed and the harm that will inevitably be incurred. I listed the common afflictions above. Psychologically ingesting “anti-psychotics” convey the message that the client has a disease. Taking a Valium conveys a different message–that the client suffers from anxiety. In fact that IS what people suffer from–whether normal or mad. THey also suffer from sleeplessness. If they do not get enough sleep they might do something unwise and be caught and Court ordered to spend years taking brain-damaging neuroleptics that
    will almost inevitably result in them developing tardive dyskinesia, and minimizing the chances that they will be able to escape from the condition of chronic patienthood. Whitaker has shown that. I have witnessed it repeatedly.

    If a former patient can get access to benzo’s she can often avoid being caught by the mind-police–usually with the help of peers or non-psychiatric therapists. It is one part of a regimen of practices and drugs that enable one to deal with the problems of living. It is irresponsible to maintain all psychiatric drugs are equally harmful. They are not. Nor are they equally useful or useless. This is pure dogma.

    Madmom writes: “Benzo’s will probably play a role in the recovery of thousands, if not millions of people who have been deeply wounded by medical ‘science’. Ironic but true.” For many patients it is their ONLY chance of escaping from chronic patienthood. For those of us who made it a priority to get persons off of neuroleptics and Lithium the prospect of banning drugs like Valium is a move that disempowers those who are victims of the Therapeutic State.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Michael
    Chrys’ insightful comment I think enhances my understanding of the problem.
    The problem is that once the child is labeled the parents have a problem that requires a solution.
    AS Chrys points out very few parents had the reaction she had as a survivor. In other words the desire to help children benefits those who want to build up psychiatry–not to build the opposition. Once the child is labeled the white middle class parent does not doubt the child has a problem. Don’t forget EARLY SCREENING is presented as a program to prevent future problems. Even the left(those most critical of society) will often accept this as a humanitarian program opposed only by anti-psychiatrists and stingy Republicans–and demand more money for these “humanitarian” mental health programs. In this environment left-wing or liberal forces are easily coopted by astro-turf movements like NAMI.

    Furthermore the labeling often makes the child symptomatic. Chrys writes,”I think the pressures are great if you have a child or young person in mental distress, and the system tells you what you must do. ,A good parent will want to relieve the distress and this can lead to trusting the professional who shares the burden. ” Exactly.

    What alternative does the critical psychiatry movement have? I prefer to use the term “anti-psychiatry” but many people in our camp will reject it, so I’ll alternate/ In other words, to paraphrase David Icke, they have created the problems–but they are also there to provide the nervous parents with a solution. Icke calls it, “problem, reaction, solution.” In this situation the anti-drugging forces do not APPEAR as the protector of innocence, but as opponents of services for the disadvantaged!

    We are trying to persuade the parents there is no problem. Or that the problem lies in the school system Or psychiatry. Or society. Or them!! How many white parents want to hear that. (I mentioned above how different black parents are.) NAMI will say, “There they are–blaming the parents again.”

    Here in NYC it is usually impossible for a distressed or labeled ADULT to find a psychiatrist who will agree not to drug the patient or to help them get off drugs. The critical psychiatry psychiatrists usually either do not see patients, or do not take insurance–one such “holistic” doctor will put her patients on vitamins (not drugs) but she insists upon weekly visits for which she charges $425.

    I think Michael and I agree: The system creates the problem. But the problem exists and we don’t have a “solution” that is acceptable. While psychiatric drugs will destroy the child in the long run, in the short term it appears as a solution because it makes her more obedient. So it is the destroyers of innocence who appear as the protectors of innocence. This is the dynamic of our upside down world that I think Michael and others are overlooking. Chrys writes,. ” I will always resist when possible and look for a better way.” Exactly the way I feel. Probably the majority of us here were–like Chrys–rebels from a young age.
    Most middle class and working class white Americans were not.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Hi Michael,
    Well you are certainly right about psychiatry. But over the years the only group that has come out in large numbers have been those who experienced it–the survivors. But I don’t see parents coming out. My friend John Breeding PhD has had a group of parents you probably know, but I don’t think it’s grown much.
    On MIA I believe parents are a small %. People want to continue to believe in doctors. They just do not see it as the violation of innoce nce–to the contrary. So unless it is their child the motivation is not strong enough to break the spell–even then it takes a lot. It’s hard to believe the 60s happened here.
    I think of my parents. Here it is 6 years later and copious evidence but and they still will not face the fact that Obomber is not the person he pretended to be in 2008. They just listen to his propaganda on MSNBC. Also psychiatric survivors feel a kinship with other survivors but you don’t see many parents coming out on behalf of children in general.
    If one were to build such a movement one should start with African Americans. It used to amaze me when I spoke to them. Unlike white parents they never wanted their kids on drugs. Right away they smelled a rat. Breggin used to get standing ovations when he spoke in Harlem.

  • Like Dr Hickey I am strongly against the medical model– more aptly termed the” disease model” (see Sarbin and Mancuso).
    But it is in large part because I am against the disease model that I believe the benzo’s—Valium, Xanax, Klonapin etc– are valuable drugs in our era and can play a critical role in helping persons to avoid being caught by the system, put on neuroleptics and becoming chronic mental patients.

    Hickey’s cautionary note is appropriate but he overlooks the value of this class of drugs: Benzo’s do have the risks he mentions, but their risks are less than the risk of “anti-psychotics” and the harm they inflict upon the body and mind is much less (unless used recklessly) than those of “anti-psychotics”–Risperadol, Zyprexa, Haldol. (The latter as Whitaker notes include cardio-vascular problems, obesity, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, tardive dyskinesia–resulting in life span 25 years less than average.) We know now that regular use of neuroleptics doom clients to become chronic life long “mental patients.”

    Persons who have “hallucinations” etc do not suffer from “schizophrenia,” No one does. But they might suffer from anxiety, dread and sleeplessness–just as “normal” people do. We have the right to have access to drugs that alleviate these unwanted states. Hickey’s call to ban benzo’s is misguided– it compromises his eloquent denunciation of the medical model. His impassioned and astute argument against the disease model is weakened by his moralistic disapproval of “drugs” per se, of getting “high”– his Calvinistic tone leads him to overlook the value of the benzo’s when used carefully.

    In fact cautious use of benzo’s enable many psychiatric survivors to avoid the anxiety and sleeplessness that might bring them to the attention of psychiatrists who are inclined to define them as psychotic and force them to take drugs that maintain them in a condition of chronic patienthood. Of course if one takes benzo’s frequently one’s tolerance will increase, and the drugs’ efficacy will wane. That is one of the problems of this class of drugs that a drug centered approach like Dr Moncrieff’s would address with the client.

    But that is not a reason to never take these drugs. Certainly not in days like these when shrinks are pushing far more destructive drugs and out patient commitment hangs over every survivor like an incubus.

    Yes the disease model is bogus. Dr Moncrieff’s formulation of a drug centered approach to psychiatry is the only non-ideological approach. Such an approach would not exclude non-drug modalities.
    For example a person who is labeled “schizophrenic” may hear voices or have delusions. But so do many “normal” people, so do people undergoing spiritual transformation. She may be undergoing a spiritual awakening. The problem is not the voices, or even the delusions per se. It is the anxiety that sometimes accompanies non-ordinary states. A responsible psychiatrist might recommend the following to an anxious client: meditation, running, making more friends and cautious use of benzo’s . That is she might recommend they not be used every day and the ultimate goal ought to be to develop one’s own inner resources, the capacity to control one’s feelings or moods so one does not need any drugs. But a psychiatric survivor in a fragile state might wisely choose to use benzo’s because her primary goal during this phase of her life might be alleviate anxiety while avoiding neuroleptics and avoiding getting caught by psychiatrists who insist that all schizophrenics or bipolars take neuroleptics.

    Being subjected to years of Court ordered out patient treatment –forced drugging– which resulted in complete debilitation and tardive dyskinesia is a hellish nightmare that has befallen many fragile survivors I have known. It is still happening today. I have seen or heard over the years thousands of people whose lives have been ruined by “anti-psychotics.” I have spoken to others who claimed being on benzo’s was hell. (They were on high doses) But I have known more people who felt that without benzo’s as sleeping pills they would have become captives of Psychiatry long ago. To take these drugs away from them would be to throw them to the psychiatric wolves.
    No drugs can be compared to neuroleptics— they destroy persons’ capacity to have a fully human life. Lars Martenssen knows that.

    I personally would like to see all neuroleptics banned, but this won’t happen. But any critical psychiatrist living in the US or UK in the current era would want to make sure his client did not get captured by the psychiatric system. Once that occurs the person faces the risk of Court ordered treatment– a life-time career as a chronic and iatrogenically disabled “mentally ill “person.

    Dr Hickey makes a powerful argument against the medical model, but his Calvinistic attitude leads him to make recommendations that would undermine psychiatric survivors’ chances of escaping from the system. Of course Valium is not as bad as Zyprexa. Valium was given to normal people. Up un til recently neuroleptics were restricted to “mental patients”–the lowest caste, the “sacred symbol of psychiatry.” The inventor of the first ‘anti-psychotic, Thorazine, boasted it was a “chemical substitute for a lobotomy.” As Dr Peter Breggin said about neuroleptics,”My personal feeling is that if these drugs were given to anyone but mental patients
    they would have been banned long ago.”

    Dr Hickey claims that patients have no right to use drugs to alter their consciousness. But no doctor has a right to deny patients’ the rights to used drugs to alleviate anxiety, terror. There may be better ways to alleviate emotional anguish or sleeplessness but drugs (benzo.s) should be one option, and in some emergency situations it might be the best. (In fact pace Hickey persons even have a right to use drugs to get high, or to expand their consciousness.)

    Every survivor I know who uses benzo’s does so because he/she is afraid of being forced to take neuroleptics–and each of them has found that sometimes they need benzo’s to get to sleep. No mental health professional has the right to tell patients what drugs to take. The only responsible position is one that supports the right of informed consent–which means that patients must be told of the awful damage done by neuroleptics.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • But why? Society does not see it as an evil that it is willing to tolerate. It sees it as a positive good. The good liberals who demand “moral parity” believe it is evil that makes us unwilling to pay for the treatment of “the mentally ill.” You tell us that the child psychiatrists you know are deeply caring people who also feel a moral obligation to give children drugs. And even you — you say– “would surely do what my child psychiatrist friends unintentionally sometimes do – I would risk harming innocent children while truly believing that I am helping them”–if you believed in the medical model. Why do you think Michael that “the parents and loved ones of children” would be the vanguard? I have met many of these parents. They DO believe in the medical model, they do trust their doctors. They usually demand their children have the right to be given “meds.” They regard people like us as dangerous and deluded fanatics who are against “science.”

    You have given us a powerful illustration here Michael of how people can do evil things while being confident they are doing the moral good. You say they do this because they believe in the medical model. Why should the NUMBER of children matter when the perpetrators believe they are acting in childrens’ interest? If the number of children given drugs would not change your child-psychiatrist friends, would not lead them to doubt the medical model, why would it have this effect upon the “parents and the loved one of children.” I’m not saying this might not be true, I just don’t see the logic. It seems likely that your psychiatrist friends would read the Bureau of Child Psychiatry report and say, “We are now catching schizophrenia at an early age and treating it before it damages the brains of children. You see Michael how much good psychiatry does for our children?” The numbers “treated by” Psychiatry would not make the medical model less viable.

    Note Michael that Bob Whitaker’s hope is based on completely different premises than yours. He envisions a different scenario. He thinks the revolt must come at least partly from above. Reading the Wunderink study he thinks it is possible that psychiatrists will refuse to carry on as usual. They will see the need for a reformed medical model. They will be convinced by the data. But your answer to Bob seems to be that they will not even read Wunderink! If I understand you correctly, you believe the powerful tropes and rhetoric of the medical model (see Bradley Lewis’ Foucauldian analysis) are sufficient to compel or at least permit belief among child psychiatrists. Why should it be any different among parents? Bob seems to think the doctors will be more influenced or as influenced by the evidence than the parents, since the later are even less likely to read Wunderink?

    It would be interesting to see you and Bob debate the topic. Bob believes the evidence will lead Psychiatry to change. You believe parents will lead a revolt that will lead society to “restrict” (but not end?) the mistreatment of children.
    The first question to you would be, “Why should the numbers make any difference? Would parents not say: Psychiatry is saving more children from “schizophrenia” and catching bipolar earlier? “What factors will enable parents– who have less access to the studies than child psychiatrists, and have deferred to medical expertise for close to 2 centuries– finally be able to see beyond the veil of the medical model, and revolt?

    Why have Bob and you–who have the same moral outrage–come to such different conclusions about what might lead to change, such different scenarios about the process of change?

  • Hi Michael,
    Your article is an eloquent cri de coeur, a passionate declaration of your faith. However, sadly, your faith that the depravity of psychiatry will lead to its demise is belied by the facts you present in your article. In fact a headline that more adequately conveyed the discussion in your article would have been “Will Psychiatry Continue to Prosper Despite Its Harmful Treatment of Our Children?” Your reasoning leads to that conclusion– or at least to that question.

    For example you tell us you have worked with child psychiatrists who are among “the most dedicated and caring people” you know. You tell us when you protest over their giving neuroleptics and SSRIs to children they respond to you “with true anguish”: “But Michael I have to do it.” And you tell us:” The solid, peer-reviewed research I would then offer, attempting to counter their biochemical, genetic-based, disease model beliefs, would unfortunately not be taken seriously enough to change my psychiatrist coworkers’ minds.” Specifically you say,”They shunned the evidence proving the efficacy of psychosocial alternatives to psychiatric medications.”
    Presumably this includes the well publicized studies about the harmfulness of neuroleptics, from UNESCO to Harrow, as well as the recent research that Bob presents ( e.g., Wunderink, Open Dialogue), which led to the recent calls for more cautious use of neuroleptics by establishment psychiatrists and psychologists. They must also shun DSM-4 editor Allen Frances’ critique in Saving Normal. They must ignore this statement by Insel (recently cited by Bruce Levine): “For too many people, antipsychotics and antidepressants are not effective, and even when they are helpful, they reduce symptoms without eliciting recovery.”

    Whitaker has not called for an end to the medical model. Some of the studies are done by medicalists (as I call them) and their methodology is conservative. Their only nod to phenomenological methods is to include
    some “quality of life” indices in their definition of efficacy. Yet they show the drugs don’t work, they cause immense harm–particularly to children– and the diagnoses are not reliable, and pinning a defective brain diagnosis on a 4 year old child sets into motion a self fulfilling prophecy that will handicap her for life –unless she rebels. Had Laura Delano not rebelled instead of Harvard she would still be in day treatment.

    One would hoped that the cognitive dissonance caused by the recent studies would lead as Bob hoped to changes in prescribing practices. No instead these child psychiatrists ignore the evidence and continue to drug kids with neuroleptics and SSRIs. They ignore and will continue to ignore studies that show that children will be permanently ruined by chronic ingestion of neuroleptics.

    Obviously Michael these “caring” young psychiatrists to whom you refer will not deal with cognitive dissonance by refusing to drug children. You write that “child psychiatrists in Australia will actually administer ECT to children under 4 years old, and that antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are given to toddlers in the U.S.” They will deal with the evidence by ignoring it. Right now psychiatry’s “scientific” status is based upon IOUs and the skillful use of propaganda. They will continue to hide behind a façade of scientific legitimacy, they will read and sign articles that are ghost-written by employees of the drug industry—and, as David Healy showed, they will never see the raw data, only the data after it is massaged by drug industry ghost-writers.

    Parents who do not accept their children being drugged will be threatened–as we saw recently in Massachussets– with the removal of their children due to their “negligence.” But how many will
    rebel? Most people trust their doctors. What your essay shows us Michael is that “dedicated and caring” (your words) doctors are perfectly capable of acting as functionaries in the psychiatric gulag–no matter how harmful it is to children. This leads to a conclusion that there is no stopping Psychiatry–a conclusion antithetical to the one implied in your title. If even the most caring doctors you know–doctors who are themselves mothers and fathers– will continue to act as Eichmann did– or even Mengele– continue to harm children rather than sacrifice their perceived self interest, upon what do you base your faith that psychiatry’s harmfulness to children will bring about its demise??

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Anna,
    I agree that David Healy has made a major contribution–I think
    Pharmageddon is his best book and one of the breakthrough books on the topic…I know from his work on SSRIs that he underwent a transformation. He has also to his credit associated himself with the reform movement. HOWEVER one cannot just push under the rug the fact that he profits from giving electroshock in his clinic in Wales. He makes no bones about that–he co-authored a book with Max Fink defending electroshock, which I have not read. I am friendly with 2 of the well known shock survivors: Leonard Frank and Linda Andre. Linda is author of Doctors of Deception.
    Seth Farber, PhD.

  • Mikeke, The people on this site–authors and respondents–cited books and articles and their own experience.You cite not a single article, nor your own experience.
    The article by Andrews is very good but as I noted it leaves out some of the most alarming effects. For example as Whitaker pointed out in his last book SSRIs cause manic states in many people and thus explain the rise in “bipolar” among teenagers.
    Although SSRIs appears to be very minimally more effective than placebos, that edge would likely disappear if they were ever tested against an active placebo, since we know active placebos are more effective than sugar pills. In other words the therapeutic effects of SSRIs is probably entirely a placebo effect. You don’t even take the placebo effect into account.
    You write, “The people who agree with this article should do more research before they add their “me toos”.” How disingenuous can you get. You present no evidence you’ve done a scintilla of the research (reading) of the authors or respondents.
    The one alleged finding you mention–although you give no reference–could easily be attributed to the placebo effect. AT any rate there is most probably no drug effect–all of the efficacy is due to the placebo effect of these highly advertized and popularly praised drugs. See Dr Irving Kirsch’s writings on this.Orthe book Mad Science by Stuart Kirk, David Cohen et al
    So upon what is YOUR authority based?
    Perhaps you’re a psychiatrist who prescribes these drugs.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • The reviewer’s bias prevents her from objectively assessing the book. The fact that the author takes “unusual” positions in counted AGAINST her. The reviewer writes:”Elsewhere, Moncrieff writes that the view that antipsychotics act by correcting an underlying disease ‘kept the genie of social control firmly inside the psychiatric lantern…. [and] made the practice of forced drugging respectable’ (page 143). This is an extreme view.” An extreme view? There is no reason to describe it as extreme. Evidently Fazel means it is a view few psychiatrists would take, and of which most would disagree.But why should that count against the view? Or make it “extreme.” There was a time when denouncing lobotomies would have been considered extreme. Einstein’s theory of special relativity was an extreme view. Fazel’s bias toward the status quo shows that she egregiously misunderstands the nature of scientific progress–or stasis– and the role of scientific revolutions.Evidently she never carefully read Thomas Kuhn’s seminal book which vitiates her own epistemological conservatism.

    She writes, “Clearly, psychiatry has occasionally been abused but psychiatrists have also been instrumental in challenging such abuses.” When? Where? Here is the US I can think of no instance in which psychiatrists have challenged such abuse. Even in the era of the lobotomy those who opposed the procedure have –according to Elliot Valenstein’s authoritative account—-with “amazing unanimity” “failed to give public utterance to their opposition.” On the other hand to call the systematic abuse of psychiatry “occasional” is bizarrely euphemistic. As Peter Breggin has shown the main treatments for “schizophrenia” in the 20th century have entailed assaults on the brain—from insulin coma therapy to lobotomies to neuroleptics. There is nothing occasional about that. And that does not even take into account the application of such procedures–the coercion and disinformation.

    “To suggest that ‘social control’ has ‘always’ been at its ‘heart’ would be a surprise to most psychiatrists” Yes it was a surprise to most slaveowners in America when the abolitionists argued they were violating the rights and dignity of men, but that does not mean the latter were wrong–most oppressors think they are acting benevolently. These psychiatrists “one would reasonably think…” Why would one RESASONABLY think that their motives were altruistic? What does reasonableness have to do with anything? If one looks at the introduction of neuroleptics into state hospitals in the US over and over psychiatrists stressed that it made ward management easier. The evidence indicates that social control WAS their primary motive–even if it is “reasonable” to think they “are mostly motivated by treating illness and reducing distress.” Today the evidence suggests they are mostly indicated in pleasing the drug companies. The problem is that most people think what is “reasonable” rather than what is true. “Other examples of unusual statements include that the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia is ‘pseudoscience’ (p. 74), and that the medications are ‘evil’ (p. 169).” The reviewer’s bias toward the status quo and her prejudice against unusual views make her unsuited to review Moncrieff’s book.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • AOT exists in all but 2 or 3 states. But you are focusing on superficial changes. More people are on psychiatric drugs than ever before and the most rapidly expanding market is children–they don’t have much choice. Kids who end up in foster care or other institutions are far more likely to be placed on drigsd–cocktails of drugs. AOt is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is as I stated the existence of a psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry that markets drugs and markets diseases.Just this past Sunday there was article in NY Times on the selling of ADHD.
    You don’t need coercion when those whom you trust the most (doctors, psychiatrist) are pushers for the drug industry who systematically mislead you. THAT’s where you make money–not writing critiques.And those you expect to protect you–the FDA– are controlled by the drug industry itself.
    I suggest you begin with Anti-psychiatry 101
    Which would be Breggin’s book Toxic Psychiatry.It is the simplest and the best introduction to the topic. My first book Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels with Foreword by Szasz)is much more elementary than my current book. You need to start at the beginning.
    Seth Farber, PhD.
    PS The questions you ask are answered in any of my books.

  • You have very naïve ideas about publishing. You make little or negligible amounts of money for a book of this kind. Even Bob’s books–which sold fairly well for a book of this kind–would not pay his rent for a year. Had money been his concern he would not have picked this topic. The enormous amount of effort is not commensurate with the meagre financial rewards.
    My books make virtually nothing since if you sell less than 10,000 copies (as I do) the author only makes 5% of the profits–enough to pay the rent for a month if you include the advance.
    I write out of moral conviction. The reward is not financial. Your idea that we are writing these books to make money shows how little you understand about the motivation of people with strong convictions. Take Thomas Szasz– he spent half his life writing and probably made little money on his books.
    I would have to sell about another 5,000 books to make more money beyond my advance. I don’t “plug” my books to make money (which I don’t do) but because I want people to read my books and wrestle with my ideas.BecAuse I want to save people and recruit them to the Mad movement.
    If you want to post you summary of Anatomy you could do it here, or on my FB or both. (I’ll confirm you on FB.) I have 2 FB pages. Here’s my personal one.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Torrey is responsible for putting hundreds of thousands of people in chains– whether legal or mental. Some people embrace their chains, not knowing any other way. Bob Whitaker is responsible for liberating 100s of thousands of people, and bringing light into their lives. There is no equivalence in service between the two. mjk ought to know that. In the past she witnessed to it.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D., author of

  • I think the most striking analogy is between scientific procedures and the political process. Not too long ago last century it was recognized that due to the inordinate power of the corporations and the corruptibility of the individual– in particular of beneficiaries and employees of the corporations– there needed to be a countervailing force to protect the public interest, the common good. The democratic state was the agency that ostensibly buffered the power of the corporations, of the “power elite” (Mills) or the “ruling class”(Marx). The ideology held that the democratic political process preserved the state as a representative of the pubic interest that would constrain the power of large corporate interests. The fatal flaw of Marxism, it was argued in the 20th century, was that it failed to realize that the autonomy of the democratic State was a constraint upon capitalist interests. Of course this is no longer(if ever) the case. The measures that once ensured (to some degree) the autonomy of the state are today mere rituals creating an illusion of autonomy. US national elections are a dramatic example of this: Campaigning is based upon lies and propaganda and “impression-management” of the public based upon the manipulation of the cosmetic qualities of the candidates whereas voting is determined by these advertizing campaigns. On the other hand private ownership of the candidates–no longer restrained by spending limits–now ensures that the State, despite appearances to the contrary, is an instrument of naked corporate rule. This exploitation of the political process today has reached such a degree of turpitude that the even the polemics of Karl Marx sound like understatements.

    The same thing has now happened with “science” and medicine. Due to the potential venality of corporate private interest, Science had developed procedures and methods to ensure that medicine would advance by serving the interests of scientific progress and subordinating private interests to the public good. Science itself still has a halo of heroic truth-seeking and dispassionate devotion to the public good due to Science’s identification with the Enlightenment during the days when the Church represented the forces of obscurantist superstition which sought to suppress truth lest it undermine the religious ideology and dogmas upon which Christendom was based for centuries.(And also due to pockets of scientists not in the employ of private interests.) Thus Richard Dawkins represents himself as a modern day Galileo, an apostle of rationalism, seeking to topple the last bastion of religious superstition.

    But today David Healy is the real iconoclast-–he has demonstrated in Pharmageddeon and his current articles that “science” has been reduced to a public relations operation carried out by the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex whose rise in the 1980s was first chronicled by Peter Breggin. In order to work, i.e., to deceive the public, Science(subordinated to corporate interest) retains and “fetishizes” (as Healy notes) the procedures and methods that have been associated with it for years, and that used to serve the quest for truth. But like the political process the methods now have been corrupted (by the stratagems Healy documents) and thus like the political process they also have no more value than optical illusions designed to lull the public into false complacency based upon trust in Psychiatry’s concern for the public and its ostensible devotion to scientific progress. In reality as Healy has documented the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry cares about nothing other than increasing its profits.It cares nothing about the corpses, the collateral damage generated by the marketing of its products. There are no longer any constraints upon the turpitude and venality of corporatized medicine (particularly the bogus medical specialty of Psychiatry) aided and abetted by the corporatized State.

    Seth Farber, Ph.D., THe Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement

  • Yes those labeled “mentally ill” are subjected to the most degrading treatment, and placed on the most toxic psychiatric drugs, including “anti-psychotics.” They physiological effects include cardiovascular problems, Parkinson, TD, diabetes etc. The loss of interest in life inevitably lowers resistance of immune system.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D., author of

    Sorry his name is Lloyd Drew. Brian Nash isd the guy in sidebar who is doing a TV series to push psychiatric propaganda. It is Drew who could be a valuable asset. He needs to be recruited by the HVN. Was it Martha who warned him about the environment?In either case he is not “paranoid schizophrenic.” He is a voice hearer, a canary in the coal mine, a potential prophet. Does he knowe about the failed conference in Warsaw last week? THe shrinks don’t care.

    “He’d been discharged from a psychiatric ward five months earlier after hearing voices, specifically the voice of a 30-year-old woman called “Martha”. She was getting him into trouble, telling him to drive his dad’s Jaguar. Lloyd started to worry that he was damaging the ozone and so decided to rebalance his carbon footprint by stealing a wind turbine from a boat.”

  • Of course the article is propaganda for the “mental health” system.
    Despite the death of a c lose friend, the breakup of a long term relationship with his partner and the loss of his mother, the “experts” insist his distress is a symptom of an illness. Or was it the voice who warned him of the disastrous effects of carbon emissions and global warming? This is not a sick person. He is one of those sensitive people who cannot shut out reality and function like an automaton. But the article says, “Many are kept well and out of hospital by an invisible army of social workers, psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists overwhelmingly driven by a sense of compassion, but some patients are reluctant to engage because they find it hard acknowledging their illness, they don’t want to take medication or they believe they’ve got better.” Are these drug pushers overwhelmed by compassion? If they were they’d stop pushing drugs and stop insisting their clients take them. Those who won’t and who refuse to “acknowledge their illness,” are the ones who will recover. (We already know that long-term use of neuroleptics undermines the chances of recovering.)Right now Nath is a propagandist for the mental death system. Hopefully someone from the mad movement can get to him and explain to him how and why he is being deceived.
    Seth Farber,Ph.D.

  • I agree with you that:
    “Part of the problem with the mental health system today is that it is a dependency system, and it is a system full of “chronic” patients because it is doing much to encourage, and little to facilitate, the independence of the people it claims to “treat”, and more often than not, mistreats.”
    It’s goal is entirely to make money.It does so by harming its clients. It is a cannibalistic system as are most system in our society.

  • Yes of course there was a time when the drug companies played a minor role. But now they ARE involved. There was a time when NSA was not spying on the entire population. When there was no military-industrial complex. THIS is what is here now. Actually in my book on Mad Pride (you might call it neo-Laingian), I advocate that Mad Pride take on a much broader role and that it not focus JUST on protesting abuse of mental patient but on changing the world.

  • You evaded my point. The fact that we still have involuntary treatment is not because Laing was equivocal on the topic.
    It is because of the power of the drug companies.It’s because there is not a mass movement to rival that power.

    But let’s start with getting the facts straight.You write,” In so far as R. D. Laing covertly supported, ignored, rationalized or excused forced psychiatric treatment, we’d have to oppose R. D. Laing, too.” “Insofar as..”? Let’s deal with reality, not fantasy.You are getting Laing mixed up with E Fuller Torrey. Laing was not an advocate of forced treatment.He wrote cryptic books that–after his fame in the 60s–were read by a coterie of mystics and intellectuals, psych survivors and dissident therapists. I cited several quotes from the same book that Szasz cited in which Laing said forced treatment was a violation of individual rights, and a form of torture. So you are making up a story
    based upon a selective reading of Laing that you derived from Szasz.
    You have ignored the point I made– that you can not build popular opposition to forced treatment unless you also popularize the efficacy of non-coercive alternatives like Soteria,Open Dialogue, HVN, Freedom Center etc. Laing did that as did Loren Mosher and Peter Breggin and Robert Whitaker and David Oaks. Thomas Szasz did not support alternatives since he said madness did not exist, and therefore Laing should not spend money treating it.THe only group Tom belonged to was CCHR–which did not support alternatives because it was subsidized by Scientology. Judi Chamberlin always said that the two goals of the movement were to abolish forced treatment and to build up patient run alternatives–the two go together.
    Like Szasz you want to demonize Laing
    but you fail to take into account that Laing spent his life writing about the superiority of the non-coercive asylum. Laing’s asylum was the model for Mosher’s Soteria which is the linchpin of Whitaker’s efforts to popularize alternatives to forced psychiatric drugging. Unless you present an alternative to forced treatment you will never get the public to oppose involuntary treatment. Laing, Mosher Chamberlin and Whitaker realized that. Thomas Szasz didn’t. How could he? He argued that the mad were part of the undeserving poor who were malingering in order to get disability, in order to avoid going to work. In Europe the Hearing Voices Network has spread all over. In the US there are now non-coercive alternatives. There are Soterias in Vermont and Alaska. These models will not replace ACT unless people continue to do the kind of work Bob Whitaker has done–demonstrated that the alternative to forced drugging is not madness in the street, but non-coercive alternatives–from HVN to Soteria– that enable people to “recover” without labeling, without neuroleptics.

  • Frank,What bothers me is Tom’s unrepresentative process of selecting quotes from Laing. Anyone who read Laing with an open mind would find he was far more inconsistent than Tom claimed. Laing despised the coercive treatment of mental patients. Unfortunately after the 60s he was wary of taking any “political” positions.

    But if you read Wisdom, Madness and Folly cover to cover you get an impression antithetical to the one Szasz tried to convey. For example, Laing goes on and on discussing the need for non-coercive asylums. He contradicts the statement you quote above, Frank: “To say that a locked ward functions as a prison for non-criminal transgressors is not to say that it should not be so.” Of course it should NOT be so. One wonders is Laing being sarcastic? Laing’s style is not Szasz’s but let me give examples of a few quotes from the same book that are completely antithetical. Laing talks about the consequences of the examination of a patient by a psychiatrist in a brief period–often a 5 minute interview. This may be enough “for that person to be taken away and observed indefinitely. It may inaugurate a period of weeks, months, years during which that person is kept imprisoned–that is, in involuntary custody and there drugged regimented reconditioned, brain given electrical lavages, bits taken out by knife or laser and anything else the psychiatrist decides to try out. This autonomy given.. the psychiatrist to strip away civil rights and liberties in the name of medical necessity….has no equivalent in any legally authorized power anywhere in our society, except where the torture of prisoners is legal.” Certainly Laing did not condone torture.

    But Laing then goes on to say that the exercise of such power might be the best that can happen. Laing thinks this is a “pity” though. Laing describes in this chapter how starting as a conventional psychiatrist he evolved to the state where he “would not force on people treatment that I would not want forced upon me.” That SOUNDS LIKE a person who is convinced that a locked ward SHOULD NOT function as a prison for non-criminal transgressors. Laing at least refused to be the guard or the executioner at such a prison. And yet… It’s hard to make sense of this–one can only infer that Laing was confused.

    I quoted elsewhere Laing’s vision–expressed in this chapter– of a non-coercive asylum. Laing writes in this same chapter, “The principle of autorhythmia entails that each person has his or her own biorhythm and a right to this rhythm and no person has the right to interfere with the rhythm and tempo of anyone else, if it is not doing anyone harm.” This directly and unequivocally contradicts Laing’s statement quoted by Frank (a few pages earlier in the book)”To say that a locked ward functions as a prison for non-criminal transgressors is not to say that it should not be so.” To say , as Laing does, that no person has the right to interfere with any person’s biorhythm is INDEED to say that that locked wards should NOT function as prisons for non-criminals. One has to wonder about Laing: What the hell was he thinking, or not?

    But Szasz also must be criticized.I read the book by Szasz from which Frank quotes. He does NOT (accurately) represent Laing as a man with a divided mind who contradicts himself, but rather as an unequivocal supporter of coercive treatment. But anyone who reads that chapter fairly, or anyone who is as familiar with Laing’s work as I am, would realize that Szasz was misrepresenting Laing. Why?

    I think Szasz was “projecting” his own “shadow.” You cannot eliminate coercive psychiatry by pretending that madness does not exist, that people are never in extreme states in which they require and are entitled to non-coercive asylum at public expense. Since Tom insisted all madness was malingering, he could in good conscience argue against publicly funded asylums–like Soteria–for the mad. This was consistent with Tom’s right-wing economic policies which in Libertarian fashion left each person to fend for herself. Compassion was unnecessary because the mad were bad, i.e., malingerers. But underneath it all Szasz himself was acting in bad faith–attempting to depict all extreme states as acts performed by the mad to deceive people. Szasz projected his shadow on the mad and on Laing. But of what value was Szasz’s argument to a poor or indigent or even middle class person who was undergoing an extreme state(“schizophrenia”) and needed a safe place–one unlike Windhorse which was accessible only to the very rich? How many of us would feel comfortable allowing a relative or friend undergoing an “acute schizophrenic episode” , i.e., an extreme state or a shamanic initiatory crisis, to fend for herself? No we want and have a right to demand publicly funded alternatives to psychiatric wards.

    Tom’s work suffered from a major contradiction. His compassion for the mad was genuine, as was Laing’s, but riddled by contradictions. Tom’s compassion came to an abrupt stop at the point where he had to pay taxes to support places like Soteria. At that point Szasz said: There is no schizophrenia, no madness, no extreme states, no crises. We should not have to pay for alternative treatment. His embrace of FRiedmanite and von Mises economic policies placed him indirectly in conflict with his own argument against coercive treatment. Anyone advocating a genuine alternative to coercive Psychiatry has to be willing to support the kind of asylums Laing devoted his life to attempting to create. Anything else will strike the public (rightfully) as infeasible.

    Tom was not willing to do that. Instead he rationalized his own lack of compassion– reified in the Libertarian perspective–by claiming the mad were largely “the undeserving poor”–to use a sociological phrase. Laing’s advocacy for alternatives pressured Szasz to face his own inconsistency. Szasz was an advocate for the mad but he refused to recognize their need for help–temporarily. Instead he lashed out against Laing whom he demonized in Antipsychiatry Squared

    Szasz argued that the mad were all malingerers trying to get ahold of the public’s money–thus he avoiding facing his OWN internal contradictions. In order to abolish coercive treatment society must offer the kind of non-coercive alternatives that Laing pioneered.

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Michael,
    I appreciate your compassion and your humane approach to clients and colleagues. Your formulations are elegant.
    You remark about my redundancy. This was partly because after the first statement I made to you Michael after a couple days passed I assumed you were not reading the comments (some authors don’t)– I was speaking
    to OTHER people who questioned my views.

    I must also say there are two people here who have a different approach to yours–one is a protege of Stan Grof, and the other was a protege of John Perry. Yet neither of these persons took the opportunity to discuss how their approach differs from yours. Perhaps they thought it would not be considerate to do so,or perhaps they concluded from your essay that Laing’s approach was not “spiritual” after all, and thus there was no point debating the issue. I am sure they did not think my views represented their own, although by default I was the only one representing a “spiritual” view- point on Laing. BTW I don’t want to take up time but for want of a better term Laing used that term often when talking in public.

    I took 2 workshops with Laing in addition to listening to his famous dialogue with Christy in 1985 at the Evolution of Psychotherapy conference–and heard him lecture sat least 6b ime–and met with him once. THAT ought to be enough to know where a writer stands. One ought not to need to befriend him.

    I should also explain Michael that I am always pained by constant attacks here on Laing by movement militants who have not read him.I take these attacks personally, although they are only rarely aimed at me, because Laing was a hero of mine since the age of 17. One person who read the Clancy Sigal book IS always insisting Laing is a phony who (he implies) made a habit of forcing drugs on people. Other Szaszians here have read Szasz’s misguided biography of Laing or writings about Laing–and on the basis of this they concluded Laing was in favor of involuntary treatment, whereas Szasz was above reproach:Thus was obscured Laing’s life long dedication to non-coercive treatment.

    I don’t know if you read my statement where I mentioned Tom Szasz’s support of my first quasi-Laingian book, for which he wrote a foreword (which I attributed partly to the ephemeral softening Szasz felt towards Laing for the first couple years after Laing’s early death) My point has been that there is a failure to appreciate the depth of Laing’s commitment to non non-coercive asylums,such as the celebrated Soteria Project. Laing’s eloquent comments on “autorhythmia” in his memoir demonstrates his commitment to creating alternatives (unlike Tom) and thus to minimizing the chances of a patient ending up on a locked ward as a result of an panicked relative.

    I have always felt Szasz and Laing’s work complemented each other and I am angry at the disingenuousness of Szasz’s holier than thou attitude.Because–put it this way,
    Michael: if your article had been about Szasz you would have 10 times as many readers here.So I have every intention of representing Laing exactly the way I see him as a radical,philosophically and spiritually.(And briefly politically.) Which causes constant friction over here.

    So I certainly do not take Tom’s attitude that madness does not exist. You write, “You not only reject the concept of
    psychopathology, you also reject the concept of madness, for all intents and
    purposes. For you the mad person is someone embarked on a metaphysical journey,
    is not “psychotic” or “schizoid,” but is rather in some sort of enlightened
    state of becoming, what Grof calls a spiritual emergence” That is a kind of mischaracterization of both Grof and Laing. To loosely paraphrase Laing “madness”–the term he uses–is not “all, breakthrough” and “renewal.” It is also “breakdown” and “existential death.”
    So how could I possibly deny the existence of madness? Madness is part of metanoia. I have worked as counselor advocate and friend to the mad, so I do not have a Pollyannaish view any more than Laing did. What I deny Michael is your psychoanalytic reductionist interpretation of madness. I am not calling names. From my perspective a psychoanalytic (object relations) view that denies the spirituality in madness IS reductionist. (I am not talking about Charles Manson “spirituality.”) For example you dismiss the term spiritual as nebulous (yes I agree but I have not come up with anything better), and tell me you concluded that everyone at Kingsley Hall had a “manic episode” at best which after it was over required existential–psychoanalytic therapy.(I’m guessing that is the kind of therapy you mean–to discuss their fear of implosion, starting from infancy.) Madness as I see is a phase in the process of the reconstitution of the self.It’s the breakdown of the schemeta that filters and organizes the data of life–and it allows–or forces- the patient to access the imaginal spiritual messianic dimension. Michael Cornwall commended you above but he said nothing about his remarkable work at Diabasis as John Weir Perry’s protege.Or his personal journey–as I believe he’s called it.It’s somewhat annoying.Nor did Sean Blackwell (who also commended you above) say anything about his excellent book, Am I Bipolar or Just Waking Up? Only about how angry he is at people in the movement(his book was written a few years ago.) Sean is a protege of Stan Grof. There are a few people around here who share my view of madness as metanoia (that is one of Laing’s models, to borrow Daniel Burston’s taxonomy) but I’m left carrying the torch myself. Well so be it–one never knows who is listening.

    Yet Perry’s asylum was extraordinarily successful –at least as successful as
    Soteria. You might say the key to Perry’s success was the phenomenological method–but in his case it involved listening carefully to his patients’ discussion of their “primary process material,” their visions, their messianic grandiose experiences. I wondering why is your report of your patients so different?. Did your clients spontaneously report Freudian-existential issues
    or did you deliberately guide them in that direction? Or something in between?

    I cannot argue against your claim that Laing
    gave you the real dope.
    All I can say is that much of what you say is contradicted not only by his books, but by his interviews with Bob Mullan, and what he said in lectures. For example
    you leave out the overtly spiritual dimensions of his work. But over and over again I heard him evoke the mystical elements involved in the relationship between the patient and the therapist. It’s true of course he distanced himself from the political radicalism of TPE and the assertiveness but I never heard him or read him go back to the views he expressed in TDS. You tell me, “I can assure you that up to his death, Laing believed that TDS
    was by far his best book and the one that his legacy would be built on.” I do not believe it– that Laing still agreed with the perspective of TDS.I’m sure you’re not lying so l’d be forced to speculate.For example, maybe he told you what you wanted to hear. He never says that to Mullan.(He doesn’t comment on the merits of either TDS ot TPE..)
    Certainly TDS IS the book most likely to be praised by the analytic establishment. ..

    Furthermore you understate the significance of what he says in the Preface. It’s not that he talked too much about “Them.” And not enough about “Us.” He cites that as an example that he underestimated the mad–partially. Furthermore the recognized authority on Laing, Daniel Burston, also agrees Laing went through a paradigm shift after he published TDS.
    Burston does not have MY biases. If anything he’s closer to you.But he agrees with my interpretation of his paradigm shift.

    Burston, who is not partial to the Laingian metanoia model–the same model as Perry’s (but Laing evidently took out his dislike of Jung on Perry), blames the low success rate of Kingsley Hall on the lack of disciple, on Laing’s turbo-consumption of drugs and alcohol and the constant
    conflicts and personality cult tolerated or encouraged by Laing.(Not to mention Cooper’s Maoist
    tirades and his belief that it was his responsibilty to sleep with all the (female) residents of KH.) Joe Berke also confirmed this in a personal correspondence to me. No wonder the patients needed psychoanalysis! But this was not what happened at Soteria or Diabasis or with Stan Grof’s work. Nor is it what happened with the native American’s neophyte shamans who went on vision quests. Julian Silvermman wrote a seminal article in American Anthropologist, 1967 called “Shamanism or acute schizophrenia.”Phenomenologically they were indistinguishable.In all these cases Laing’s THEORY of metanoia–as explicated in TPE– was confirmed as was the Laingian model of “guiding” patients through madness.

    Further I can tell you from reading Grof and Perry (I’m theoreticaly closer to Perry, since Grof often implied he was dealing with a small elite) that they all provide corroboration for Laing’s metanoia model of madness. SEe also Paris Williams recent book. So do the interviews in my first book and in my recent book. In my latest book on the Mad Pride movement all but one of my 6 interlocutors had spiritual aspects in their “psychotic breakdowns.” I would particularly urge you to read the interviews with the 2 older (baby boomer)persons, Ed Whitney and Paul Levy. Paul is an author and spiritual counselor who was locked in the loony bin 5 times in the 1980s.He’s a Buddhist who had read all of HJung’s collected works. He makes a cogent argument that his “psychotic” breakdown was a process of emergence.
    I imagine that had Paul focused on his fear of intimacy he could have given an account like TDS, but he focused on different tropes–death-rebirth archetypes. My theory Michael is that the outcome of the mad experience–and the process–depends largely upon the metanarrative into which one integrates the experiences and episodes in one’s life. For example
    what about the mad persons in
    Sanity, Madness and the Family, a book which Laing told Bob Mullan he actually wrote alone–not with Esterson? Remember this is the second book after Lain’s paradigm shift.

    In TDS Burston pointed out, Laing equated normality with mental health. In The Self and Others Laing defines normality as complicity in “social fantasy systems.”In SMF Laing views the mad person as attempting to assert her own autonomy against parents who are afraid of her autonomy.If one was convinced that psychotics were afraid of intimacy then one would view their use of mad language as a schizoid withdrawal0–fear of intimacy. This is why I maintain that it was so important, it betokens a paradigm shift when Laing wrote the Preface to The Dividecd SElft AS Kuhn notes data are never atheoretical.Had Laing not made that shift he probably would have argued that the “schizophrenic’s” language in Sanity, Masdness abd the Family reflected her schizoid withdrawal, and pathological splintering. THis is exactly Laing’s reading of Julie in The Divided Self.But SMF is exactly the opposite. Laing depicts a young person struggling to break away from the family. I studied family therapy after I completed my PhD–with Jay Haley, Salvador Minuchin etc I learned to look for manifestation of independence–and most of the time I found them. And most of the time the parents were frightened of the young patients growing autonomy.

    The Divided Self is a psychoanalytic book. It is based upon a psychoanalytic metanarrative. It is the only book by Laing I did not like. I was psychoanalytic until 1985, the year after I completed my PhD. And then I turned against it–against Freud, Kohut, Fairbairn. I abjourned all of them. THey have been writing a tragic metanarrative. The source of my inspiration and faith is Sri Aurobindo (1870-1950)

    In my newest book I argued that Laing provided a basis for Mad Pride in the 1960s. Yet the mental patients liberation movement was stillin
    its nascent phrase and thus still Szaszian.
    Szasz you see argued that mental patients were just like everyone else and were entitled to the same rights. In the higher stage of the movement, it emphasized the distinctive traits of the Mad. That is where Laing comes in. In fact I go beyond Laing–although there are a couple sentences–and argue for a messianic-utopian model of madness and social transformation. THat is the mad can become the catalysts of a New Great Awakening. THis is because many of them have had messianic utopian visions. And that is the only antidote to the looming threat of catastrophe.

    I wrote here,”When I first read TIP’s 2004 Mission statement I was stunned. The document could have been written by R D Laing…I called up the co-founder of TIP, Sascha DuBrul, and he agreed to meet. I was shocked when he told me neither he nor his co-founder, Ashley (now “Jacks”) McNamara had ever read anything by R D. Laing. They were both in their 20s when they wrote TIP’s Mission statement in 2004. They both felt a new language would provide new tools for self-expression and lead to greater tolerance for the non-conformity of the mad. It was clear we are now in the second phase of the movement, the Mad Pride phase: The focus had shifted from emphasizing how the patients were similar to “normal” persons to affirming and validating the distinctiveness of the mad.”

    I seems to me Michael that you see madness as just a fallibility(if not pathology), or am I wrong? You did not mention one asset in your piece. So that’s my problem. Tell me if I’m wrong.

    I look forward to meeting you some day and continuing our conversation. I think I met you in San Francisco in 1984. I was an intern in an existential clinic. I forgot the others names–connected with Saybrook?


  • Joanna, Thank you. I will definitely read Cresswell. Have you read Linda Morrison’s monograph?–I noticed Cresswell mentions it.
    It’s very useful, very astute. (I met her but she did not tell about her book.) In fact she uses some of the survivor accounts in my first book. Leonard Frank in particular provides her with prototype of “radical survivors’ narrative.” It’s also a short albeit academic history of the movement in the US so it’s very
    useful. I would criticize her omission of Szasz (and Laing)–so would Leonard I’m sure. I recommend Leonard’s account here at MIA.He has written account and shorter video. (Leonard is 80 now.)Leonard is iconic (like Judi) among people old enough to remember him. He shares my utopian/messianic perspective, although oddly he never read much Laing. AS far as I’m concerned the experiment Spandler was doomed to fail since it was psychoanalytic. (I have to write a piece on Laing to rescue him from the Freudians.)I WAS a psychoanalyst so I know how pernicious it was in practice.Leonard called it the velvet glove on the iron fist. (Karon is exempted–he is a nice man, iun spite of…) I call it a secular version of the Augustinian original sin narrative. Peter Chadwick is an English survivor/psychologist whose accounts are great (even though he uses medical terminology. Although he talks of “pathology” better go to work. I don’t know those UK Survivors but Elena Williams probably does–I’m in contact with her. (I would not use Sedgwick for my model, but I was sorry to hear he’s no longer around.) Thanks, Seth

  • I just criticized above Szasz’s malingering view above under Frank’s post. It seemed to me
    that it was suited to his right-Libertarian politics. A lot of people HERE don’t realize that Szasz was criticizing Laing for using public money for providing support for alternative asylums for “schizophrenics.” Szasz never gave Laing any credit for trying to set up places like Soteria(Philadelphia Assoiciation)because he opposed it. Szasz fans here think it was because Szasz was a more consistent critic of forced treatment, which he was ALSO.The attacks on Szasz by NAMI and the neo-cons bolstered his popularity.
    Szasz kept writing books. His attacks on involuntary treatment which he rightly denounced as unconstitutional hit a nerve since outpatient commitment laws were spreading throughout virtually every state. Also Szasz was a powerful writer who compared “mental health” policies to slavery. All of yhe dissident critics of the system were influenced by Szasz. Otherwise they would still be talking about reforms for the “mentally ill.”
    Mosher did not write for the public–he wrote a very dull text that I doubt many people read. He became well known here only when he resigned from the APA in 1998–calling it the American Pharmaceutical Association in a letter that made him famous. I don’t think many people here even knew his name until then. (It was Laing who wrote eloquently–I quoted him above– about non-coercive asylums, although not many people were reading him either by then either.) Laing was still a celebrity in New Age circles in the 80s, when new age was still young and had a subversive timber. By the 1990s the only large group on the radical wing of the movement was David Oak’s. David was very influenced by Peter Breggin and his attack on bio-psychiatry and was a genius for getting publicity and funding. Judi sadly was dying in a hospice. Rae Unzicker, who founded NAPS, also died at less than 70. Now Robert Whitaker is the inadvertent hero of the movement–and David’s tragic accident has taken him out of the picture altogether. It was very unfortunate for the movement (as well as for David). He was just about to launch a project based on Martin Luther King’s idea of creative maladjustment. His associates attempted to carry it on according to plan but the project fizzled without David’s participation. I was personally very hopeful about David’s attempt to take the movement in a new direction–David’s accident happened just months before this was to take place.
    The Icarus Project was formed in 2005 and has been growing–mostly on college campuses. The group was mostly known for its website which provided an online forum
    David had a split with Peter Breggin in 2005 after Breggin, formerly a left-wing sympathizer who gave talks in Maoist bookstores in NY, when Breggin mysteriously allied himself with an extreme right-wing radio talk show host–and began attacking the left for being un-American. This was a very strange interlude, and after a lawsuit
    and passage of time Breggin put the incident behind him and decided to stick to attacking psychiatry.He also accepted Gary Niull offer to appear on his “progressive” talk show network.
    I think similar things happened in the UK. I read the British Mad Pride anthology. I thought they were off to good start. I know two of their founders were Trotskyists–Ben Watson and Esther Leslie, but they were not typical Trotskyists. Watson, a composer was very interested in Frank Zappa’s work. Leslie was a professor at Birbeck. I think they also fizzled when one of their most charismatic spokespersons committed suicide. Threy are being revived.

  • The idea that Szasz was the pristine fighter against coercive psychiatry and Laing was some kind of poetic phony is a myth.
    Tom Szasz did not only object to Laing because of his alleged resort to coercion.I say alleged because the Clancy Sigal cased was a singulklkar occurrence
    and hads far more to do with Laing’s complex friendship with Sigal, an accomplished journalist and writer whose approval Laing sought, than with Laing’s “softness about forced treatment.
    AS stated Laing wrote in 1967,” I do not myself believe that there is any such ‘condition’ as ‘schizophrenia’. Yet the label, as a social fact, is a political event. This political event, occurring in the civic order of society, imposes definitions and consequences on the labelled person.. .The ‘committed’ person labelled as patient, and specifically as ‘schizophrenic’, is degraded from full existential status as human agent and responsible person, no longer in possession of his own definition of himself, unable to retain his own possessions, precluded from the exercise of his discretion and whom he meets, what he does. His time is no longer his own and the space he occupies no longer of his choosing. After being subjected to a degrading cermonial know as a psychiatric examination he is bereft of his civil liberties in being imprisoned in a total institution know as a ‘mental hospital’. More completely, more radically than anywhere else in our society he is invalidated as a human being.”
    Szasz did not like the idea that Laing believed in providing non-coercive asylum to the mad at the public’s expense.Not only did he claim mental illness did not exist he denied persons experienced emotional crises (what I call spiritual crisis.)He insisted madness was malingering. Therefore the mad person
    did not need asylum.
    The idea that you could dispense with coercive psychiatry without providing alternative non coercive asylums is spurious or disingenuous. Tom managed to make himself look holier than thou, than R D Laing. But unless you adopt the ludicrous idea that persons never have break-downs Szasz was advocating only one half the solution. Not only did he attack Laing for seeking to provide the other half, he also never acknowledged Mosher or John Weir Perry. Although Soteria was quite famous Szasz never said a word in praise of it. Had he spoken out he would have opposed it for the same reason he opposed Laing’s attempt to provide alternative asylums.
    Tom’s Libertarianism often cloaked a Randian social Darwinism which in itself fostered an unfortunate lack of compassion.
    Lasing deserves credit for devoting his life to trying to get funding for alternative asylums–Szasz deserves censure for condemning Laing and ignoring Mosher. I am not trying to hold Tom to a double standard. But his attack on Laing in 2009 was sanctimonious, petty and mendacious.
    Let’s take a quick look at Laing’s ideal of an alternative asylum–in his last book, his memoir, Wisdom, Madness and Folly, written in 19856 4 years before his death.He wrote,” The principle of autorhythmia entails that each person has his own biorhythm and a right to this rhythm, and that no person has the right to interfere with the biorhythm and tempo of anyone else, if it’s not doing anyone harm…In mental hospitals where biorhythm is under surveillance and control, this power of control over the biorhythm usually takes the form of regimentation.That is patients had to be doing things at the same time ..Patients had to be drugged to sleep, drugged to keep awake….There is nothing intrinsically pathological about being wake at night and sleeping during the day. Most of my reading, thinking, writing has happened at night…Maybe some people need the night. Where in the world are lunatics allowed to bathe naked under the moonlight?..” So here is what Laing advocates. It is a profoundly anti-authoritarian vision, in the best tradition of anarchism. Without these kinds of asylums the opposition to forced treatment is not sufficient.”What would happen I began to wonder if we were to declare existential experiential anarchy, and let everyone have their own biorhythm
    (the principle of autorhythmia) but ban or restrict transgressive conduct.”

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Who DO they credit? I don’t understand. They don’t define themselves as mentally ill, do they? They see themselves as persons with problems of living? The must have read that or heard that didn’t
    they? Who was the ultimate source?Did they
    refer to themselves as psychiatry survivors?
    I know HVN was Romme, and later, voice hearers themselves.

    In the case of David Oaks the main influence was not Thomas Szasz. It was Peter Breggin, Szasz’s student. But Breggin was a more specific critic of BIO-PSYCHIATRY. Icarus founders had read none of them. But the first few decades Szasz, Breggin and to a much lesser degree Laing were influential. You can see that through reading Madness Network News.

  • oanna, It was inevitable that Szasz was extolled. How could there have been a mental patients’ liberation movement –which started in 1970(9 yrs after The Myth of Mental Illness)–without Szasz’s paradigm shift? At that time it was comprised of the avant-garde of the ostensibly most disabled people–”schizophrenics.” (There were hardly any “manic-depressives” or bipolars then.) I was not aware of the movement until 1988 several years after I completed my PhD.

    Ironically I felt more resonance with Laing although Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book in 1993. Actually Tom wrote the Foreword in 1991, 2 years after Laing’s death. Laing’s early death in 1989 seemed to have softened Tom’s attitude toward Laing (temporarily). My book had a strong Laingian leitmotif–the idea that “psychosis” was a spiritual crisis. That was not an idea for which Tom had any sympathy.I doubt he would have given me a foreword 10 years later.

    The competition was because of Szasz. He did not like Laing’s association with the left and the counter-culture. And he did not like people disagreeing with him. (Ask Peter Breggin.) Laing would have liked to be accepted by Szasz. (This is all chronicled in several books.) I think Laing took the position–as I did–that their work complemented each other.(Although initially Laing was disparaging.) In 2009 Szasz wrote a book that dismissed Laing as a worthless phony.

    In my latest book I argued that Szasz provided a theoretical basis for the movement in its nascent phases whereas Laing provided a basis -or a sketch for a basis-for the more mature phase– Mad Pride. If you are NOT revolted by spirituality
    (as many here are) you might find my “neo-Laingian” theory interesting.(I call it “neo-Laingian” only because that term has a connotation people know and understand.) I distilled it here, where there was a lot of resistance (this is mostly a Szaszian website) to publishing my spiritually “extremist” essay:

    I wrote:
    ” I called up the co-founder of TIP, Sascha DuBrul, and he agreed to meet. I was shocked when he told me neither he nor his co-founder, Ashley (now “Jacks”) McNamara had ever read anything by R D. Laing. They were both in their 20s when they wrote TIP’s Mission statement in 2004.[It had idioms that could have lifted right out of Laing–I guess they got it direct from the zeitgeist.]Neither was attracted to Mind Freedom. They both felt a new language would provide new tools for self-expression and lead to greater tolerance for the non-conformity of the mad. It was clear we are now in the second phase of the movement, the Mad Pride phase:The focus had shifted from emphasizing how the patients were similar to “normal” persons to affirming and validating the distinctiveness of the mad.”

    To my mind Laing was a radical thinker–even more radical than Szasz,(just as the 60s counter-culture was radical) although more inconsistent and far less linear–which might be in part why you like him. I revolted against Freudianism, against object relations theory–formally with my first published article in 1987. Michael presents a Freudian view of Laing–what I call conservative. I was a Freudian for at least 10 years. Although I did not invent fairy tales about Freud like Michael does.(Please see Jeffrey Masson’s work.)Freud regarded schizophrenics as human “garbage”–he was a Prussian elitist, as Philip Rieff showed in his biography.

    The Divided Self makes me so sick I cannot even get through a few pages today.(I loved it when I first read it in 1970 and re-read it during my Freudian days.) I wanted to work with “schizophrenics” when I was getting my PhD in the 1980s. I was still a Freudian but I rejected the idea that they were incurable. Over and over and over I was told by clinics that schizophrenics were incapable of forming deep relationships. The best that one could do was supportive therapy. And quite a few day programs told me they were hopeless–good for nothing. This was a result of the dogma that schizophrenics could not tolerate intimacy. And this was San Francisco! You may be too young to be familiar with these Freudian categories.They dominated clinical psychology in America when I was in grad school and in the clinics (off and on in the 70s and 80s).

    Michael rejects the idea that schizophrenics can’t form relationships but it is a logical conclusion of the object-relations idea that schizophrenics were afraid of/incapable of intimacy. I rejected this Freudian dogma.
    Not that the mad did not have an awareness of the risks of intimacy but in TDS the fear of intimacy become the focal point of a tragic psychoanalytic narrative. Laing existential version in TDS was no better–except at times he saw beyond it. 4 yeares later he knew that he had given away ammunition to the enemies of the mad. That’s why he renounced the book–in the Preface!– and shifted the blame for the rift between therapists and schizophrenics, the normal and the mad, to the normal, to the professionals. Foucault had established the template: the effort of the psychiatrists to silence the mad while miming the charade of a dialogue.

    In every book after TDS he blames the shrinks for the rift. He followed in the tradition of Foucault who argued that once mental illness becomes the “root metaphor” the normal no longer tried to communicate with the mad–just to control them. The belief in mental illness reduces the mad person’s statements to the “semantic exudates”(Szasz) of her disease. The patient tries zealously to communicate to the therapist but the latter is unwilling to listen–he is convinced she makes no sense. And then irony of ironies she is said to be incapable of communicating. In his investigations of families of the mad he found the normal parents were terrified of their adult children’s autonomy. Thus they became scvapegoats.
    Every book after TDS discusses how much more aware–spiritually and interpersonally–the mad were.

    In The Politics of Experience the mad are the spiritual pioneers who will save normal society from itself. Thus he wrote,“Our society may itself have become biologically dysfunctional, and some forms of schizophrenic alienation from the alienation of our society may have a sociobiological function that we have not recognized.” If they could only escape the vise of Psychiatry they could assume their rightful role as the vanguard of the spiritual revolution initiated by the counter-culture. The story is not about therapists any more even though today there are Laingian therapists who want to make Laing’s oeuvre JUST about therapy. But as I see it’s about a movement to change the world.

  • Joanna, It was inevitable that Szasz was extolled. How could there have been a mental patients’ liberation movement –which started in 1970(9 yrs after The Myth of Mental Illness)–without Szasz’s paradigm shift? At that time it was comprised of the avant-garde of the ostensibly most disabled people–“schizophrenics.” (There were hardly any “manic-depressives” or bipolars then.) I was not aware of the movement until 1988 several years after I completed my PhD.

    Ironically I felt more resonance with Laing although Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book in 1993. Actually Tom wrote the Foreword in 1991, 2 years after Laing’s death. Laing’s early death in 1989 seemed to have softened Tom’s attitude toward Laing (temporarily). My book had a strong Laingian leitmotif–the idea that “psychosis” was a spiritual crisis. That was not an idea for which Tom had any sympathy.I doubt he would have given me a foreword 10 years later.

    The competition was because of Szasz. He did not like Laing’s association with the left and the counter-culture. And he did not like people disagreeing with him. (Ask Peter Breggin.) Laing would have liked to be accepted by Szasz. (This is all chronicled in several books.) I think Laing took the position–as I did–that their work complemented each other.(Although initially Laing was disparaging.) In 2009 Szasz wrote a book that dismissed Laing as a worthless phony.

    In my latest book I argued that Szasz provided a theoretical basis for the movement in its nascent phases whereas Laing provided a basis -or a sketch for a basis-for the more mature phase– Mad Pride. If you are NOT revolted by spirituality
    (as many here are) you might find my “neo-Laingian” theory interesting.(I call it “neo-Laingian” only because that term has a connotation people know and understand.) I distilled it here, where there was a lot of resistance (this is mostly a Szaszian website) to publishing my spiritually “extremist” essay:

    I wrote:
    ” I called up the co-founder of TIP, Sascha DuBrul, and he agreed to meet. I was shocked when he told me neither he nor his co-founder, Ashley (now “Jacks”) McNamara had ever read anything by R D. Laing. They were both in their 20s when they wrote TIP’s Mission statement in 2004.[It had idioms that could have lifted right out of Laing–I guess they got it direct from the zeitgeist.]Neither was attracted to Mind Freedom. They both felt a new language would provide new tools for self-expression and lead to greater tolerance for the non-conformity of the mad. It was clear we are now in the second phase of the movement, the Mad Pride phase:The focus had shifted from emphasizing how the patients were similar to “normal” persons to affirming and validating the distinctiveness of the mad.

    To my mind Laing was a radical thinker–even more radical than Szasz,(just as the 60s counter-culture was radical) although more inconsistent and far less linear–which might be in part why you like him. I revolted against Freudianism, against object relations theory–formally with my first published article in 1987. Michael presents a Freudian view of Laing–what I call conservative. I was a Freudian for at least 10 years. Although I did not invent fairy tales about Freud like Michael does.(Please see Jeffrey Masson’s work.)Freud regarded schizophrenics as human “garbage”–he was a Prussian elitist, as Philip Rieff showed in his biography.

    The Divided Self makes me so sick I cannot even get through a few pages today.(I loved it when I first read it in 1970 and re-read it during my Freudian days.) I wanted to work with “schizophrenics” when I was getting my PhD in the 1980s. I was still a Freudian but I rejected the idea that they were incurable. Over and over and over I was told by clinics that schizophrenics were incapable of forming deep relationships. The best that one could do was supportive therapy. And quite a few day programs told me they were hopeless–good for nothing. This was a result of the dogma that schizophrenics could not tolerate intimacy. And this was San Francisco! You may be too young to be familiar with these Freudian categories.They dominated clinical psychology in America when I was in grad school and in the clinics (off and on in the 70s and 80s).

    Michael rejects the idea that schizophrenics can’t form relationships but it is a logical conclusion of the object-relations idea that schizophrenics were afraid of/incapable of intimacy. I rejected this Freudian dogma.
    Not that the mad did not have an awareness of the risks of intimacy but in TDS the fear of intimacy become the focal point of a tragic psychoanalytic narrative. Laing existential version in TDS was no better–except at times he saw beyond it. 4 yeares later he knew that he had given away ammunition to the enemies of the mad. That’s why he renounced the book–in the Preface!– and shifted the blame for the rift between therapists and schizophrenics, the normal and the mad, to the normal, to the professionals. Foucault had established the template: the effort of the psychiatrists to silence the mad while miming the charade of a dialogue.

    In every book after TDS he blames the shrinks for the rift. He followed in the tradition of Foucault who argued that once mental illness becomes the “root metaphor” the normal no longer tried to communicate with the mad–just to control them. The belief in mental illness reduces the mad person’s statements to the “semantic exudates”(Szasz) of her disease. The patient tries zealously to communicate to the therapist but the latter is unwilling to listen–he is convinced she makes no sense. And then irony of ironies she is said to be incapable of communicating. In his investigations of families of the mad he found the normal parents were terrified of their adult children’s autonomy. Thus they became scvapegoats.
    Every book after TDS discusses how much more aware–spiritually and interpersonally–the mad were.

    In The Politics of Experience the mad are the spiritual pioneers who will save normal society from itself. Thus he wrote,“Our society may itself have become biologically dysfunctional, and some forms of schizophrenic alienation from the alienation of our society may have a sociobiological function that we have not recognized.” If they could only escape the vise of Psychiatry they could assume their rightful role as the vanguard of the spiritual revolution initiated by the counter-culture. The story is not about therapists any more even though today there are Laingian therapists who want to make Laing’s oeuvre JUST about therapy. But as I see it’s about a movement to change the world.

  • Joanna,
    I do not know why you choose those particular thought-experiments. Perhaps there will always be these dilemmas in as long as we live in a society as problematic as this.

    But imagine the impact of a change in macro social policies. The point of social policy changes
    is to procure a net gain–in many cases considerably so.

    I am not a Szaszian, although I agree with his critique of mental illness. (He wrote the foreword to my first book.) Laing’s critique of mental illness was a critique of the Freudian argument that ”schizophrenics” have a fear of intimacy–the classic Freudian view of the so-called “schizophrenic.” Laing rejected that as early as Sanity, Madness and the Family. Unlike Szasz I believe in madness. I only reject the idea that it is a defect. I accept the Perry/Laing theory that it is potentially a healing process.

    I agree with you, Joanna: I do not believe that society has no right to prevent an unhappy confused child from committing suicide. That’s not a grey area. That’s black and white. You write
    “Would I let a child starve to death of anorexia if I really couldn’t help her to stay alive – no I would not – if I really had to I would allow the minimal force to pull her away from death – but NOT continued relentless force feeding because I know how much it damages people.”
    But why are there so many people in this situation. How does a child get to the point of starving to death of anorexia? That tells me there is something wrong with society. I don’t know why. I do know this. I studied family therapy with Savador Minuchin. Psychoanalysis did virtually nothing to help the anorexic patients. Psychiatric drugs makes the problem worse. I never had an anorexic patient
    but I saw lots of videos of Minuchin working with anorexics. Almost all got better.Why? Because Minuchin rejected the disease model. He did not buy the idea that the anorexic was afraid or intimacy. He saw her as a person struggling for autonomy.Minuchin model focuses on strengths, not “pathology.” Minuchin told us that family therapy would replace psychoanalysis in the clinic and in the schools within another generations—he was probably thinking of Thomas Kuhn. But he was wrong. He forgot Karl Marx.
    Psychiatry sold out to big drug corporations.

    I don’t understand Joanna why you see anything problematic about preventing psychiatrists from forcing psychiatric drugs (neuroleptics) on patients. I don’t see the logic of the Schramme’s reservations. Where is the crooked line? Schramme seems to think it’s a problem that psychiatrists cannot pretend to be medical specialists. Good.

    Social policies should be based on philosophical premises and designed to have macro effects. The philosophy is that
    no one is mentally ill. The British Psychological Society says that now I believe. Had the APA been banned from accepting contributions from the corporations–had they been prevented from changing their pre-1980 policies, Minuchin might have been correct. Or had we not lived in a society run by sociopathic elites, very few girls would be in that position.

    One could mandate outcome based treatments and ban the use of psychoanalysis and drugs. Salvador Minuchin and other family therapists have shown that great harm is done by treating the identified patient as if there is something wrong with her. Psychoanalysis pathologizes, and it scapegoats…

    You could save thousands of people by mandating a change in social policies…But that cannot happen as long as corporations own the political process in America.
    Both Szasz and Laing realized how destructive the diagnostic view is.

    I believe Laing adopted a Foucauldian perspective, not the psychoanalytic view Michael presents. Laing rejected the psychoanalytic view (e.g., Fairbairn’s view) that the mad were frozen in their fear of intimacy, that the rift between the sane and the mad (one of Laing’s central concepts, even after he distanced himself from The Politics of Experience) was the responsibility of the mad. No it is the responsibility of the psychiatrists, the normal people, and of those who claim the mad are afraid of intimacy. People do not understand:One’s philosophical stance has practical consequences.
    It was judges of normality as Foucault called them who silenced the mad. Or claimed the mad were responsible for their own unwillingness to comprehend the communications of the mad. Those who doubt this ought to re-read Laing’s evisceration of Bion, the psychoanalytic hero, and Binswanger, the psycho-existentialist hero in The Voice of Experience. The schizophrenics assiduously attempted to communicate with the psychiatrists and the psychiatrists refused to listen, were not willing to understand. If you treat a young schizophrenic as if she has a fear of intimacy, as TDS advocates, you are increasing the chances that you are going to do great harm. There are exceptions, but the philosophical premise of TDS is pernicious. I have always conveyed to every schizophrenic I ever met that there was nothing wrong with them. They are not schizoid. There is nothing humanistic about defining them as such.

    To quote from one of my teachers, Jay Haley. Haley (1980) described the attitude of one of his own teachers. “He believed that there was nothing wrong with a person diagnosed as schizophrenic. It was inspiring to watch him work with a mad offspring who was an expert at failing. I recall one who would not speak. She would sit pulling at her hair like an idiot. Yet Jackson treated her as if she was perfectly capable of normality, given a change in her family and treatment situation. The family was forced to accept her normality, partly because of Jackson’s certainty”. This kind of intervention was also typical of Laing at his best.

  • Hi Sean,
    The commentary above by various readers is not negative. It is critical.(You make quite a sweeping statement there, Sean. I think probably a few of us are wondering: What are the allegedly self-defeating conclusions that most people in the movement have embraced?)

    Michael has chosen to withhold from readers very pertinent information about Laing: That in the paperback edition to The Divided Self Laing felt it necessary to insert a preface to convey that he was not in complete accord with the book (his first), that he believes he “partially” fell “into the trap” he was “seeking to avoid”:of writing about Them (the mad) before he had an adequate understanding of Us(normal man). That is quite a self-incriminating admission. But it was courageous and admirable–particularly considering the book was an enormous success. Laing made that admission because he believed he had a responsibility to the mad, to so called “schizophrenics.” To treat The Divided Self as Laing’s definitive statement on madness, is to fail (inadvertently) to do justice to the mad, to “schizophrenics”–that is to a group of persons who have been subjected to systematic emotional and physical violence.

    I felt particularly obligated to correct this misunderstanding since I have an intellectual and spiritual debt to Laing.I first read Laing when I was in high school in 1969. All of my books on the “mental health” system were influenced by Laing. My latest book is a neo-Laingian profile of the Mad Pride movement. I was the co-organizer of the Memorial Symposium for Laing in 1989 at the New School in NYC.

    Too often Laing is attacked on MIA. He is attacked because he is misunderstood by people who have not read him,or have not read enough, or do not share his spiritual perspective.It is not incidental that Laing’s Kingsley Hall was the inspiration for the founding of the Soteria Project by Laing’s friend Loren Mosher.

    Laing was a complex and often troubled man. Many of the posters on MIA do not realize that Laing made a huge contribution to the understanding and appreciation of extraordinary gifts of the mad, of “schizophrenics” and “bipolars.” His prophetic books–particularly The Politics of Experience and also The Voice of Experience(the first half)– laid the foundation for the Mad Pride movement.

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I forgot to sign
    the above critique (Excuse the last couple paragraphs that were poorly worded since written under fatigue, excuse typos).
    I forgot to put URLK

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.
    author of The Spiritual Gift of Madness,,

  • In the years between the publication of The Divided Self (1960) and The Politics of Experience (19670) R. D Laing underwent a transformation. As a result he came to the realization that he had done an injustice to the mad in The Divided Self (TDS). Like many of those ensconced in the world of psychotherapy, Michael Thompson avoids mentioning this and he presents The Divided Self as if it were Laing’s last word on the topic of madness, rather than his first fledgling book–one still influenced by the psychoanalytic and common prejudices against the mad. Thompson tells us that Laing examined the commonality between the schizoid who was not psychotic and the schizoid who was psychotic(“schizophrenic”):”The common thread is this: that the person so labeled, in his or her personal experience, suffers from a peculiar problem in his relationships with others: he cannot tolerate getting too intimate with other people, but at the same time cannot tolerate being alone.” But he fails to inform readers that a few years later Laing repudiated this analysis, based as it was on a tacit division between Us and Them. The problem with this “diagnosis” as Laing tells us in the Preface to the paperback edition of The Divided Self is that “I am still writing in this book too much about Them and too little about Us.”

    Once Laing began to examine “us” he saw that his opinion about the mad had been wrong.Laing came to doubt the psychoanalytic construct of the schizoid personality–psychotic or not.After TDS it drops out of Laing’s analyses.It had been used by modern psychoanalysts to denigrate the mad. Although Michael claims that the term schizoid does not imply pathology, that is incorrect. It is a term that denotes pathology and Thompson uses it to imply pathology. I don’t know whom he’s trying to fool.

    Thompson himself is concerned to maintain a distinction between us and them.For example he writes that Laing wondered how “wounded a person must be to even want to spend all of his professional time in the company of people who are obsessed with their problems.” This is insulting to so called patients –to imply such a division. As if therapists are NOT “obsessed with their problems.” In my experience they are–as are most people.(Thompson of course both denies a division and asserts one at the same time by implying that the therapist could be so “wounded” that her status as normal becomes questionable– it is implied that she almost crosses over the barrier and becomes pathological like the patient.) But so what? Does Thompson think an absence of “obsession” with one’s problems is the ultimate criterion of normality, of spiritual superiority? This allegation of pathology whether made by Thomas or the early Laing is a form of degrading others, a way of asserting the therapist’s superiority over the patient, and the normal person’s superiority over the “psychotic.”

    TDS is based on the spurious claim that the schizophrenic is terrified of intimacy–an idea Laing derived from Freudians, from neo-psychoanalysts such as Fairbairn and Guntrip.

    Are the mad schizoid? Are they terrified of intimacy? Laing’s books after TDS show that the mad (e.g., “schizophrenics”) have been trying very hard to become intimate with us, with so called normal people. The blame for their failure lies with Us: We refuse to listen because the mad person speaks a different language–as Foucault pointed out–and she communicate to us truths we do not want to hear.

    When we take this into account we realize that the mad do NOT have a problem with intimacy–or at least not an intra-psychic problem.They do not flee from intimacy. They do not have a pathological inability to tolerate intimacy. Rather WE flee from intimacy with the mad. THAT’s the problem. And then, Laing seems to imply in his Preface to TDS, we label them or construe them as Other, as Them. For example we diagnose them as schizoid as Laing did in The Divided Self, as if they had not been desperately trying to become intimate with us all along. There are passages in TDS where Laing is keenly aware of this but the full realization could not come until he freed himself from the Freudian-existential paradigm.

    Anyone who went to grad school or trained to be a mental health professional in Laing’s era (up until the 1980s), as Thompson did,(as I did) would have had it drilled into them that schizophrenics had a profound fear of intimacy–and ultimately they suffered from an alleged inability to form intimate relationships. This was the Freudian view, and the neo-psychoanalytic view from which Laing eventually freed himself, but Thompson is still under its thrall. Hence his enthusiasm for Laing’s most conservative most psychoanalytic book in which Laing only slightly modifies the Freudian view that “schizophrenics” are incapable of intimacy.

    Michael, for all his good intentions and his insight, does a disservice to Laing and to psychiatric survivors, the mad, who frequent this website, by not mentioning Laing’s repudiation of The Divided Self and the paradigm shift he underwent that eventually resulted in the publication of his bookThe Politics of Experience(PE). Evidently Michael has not come to terms with Laing’s change in orientation. He needs to re-familiarize himself with Laing’s 1967 book, The Politics of Experienc, as well as Sanity, Madness and the Family which preceded PE. He ought to re-consider also the thesis of Michel Foucault.

    Thompson tells us in passing that Laing was a friend
    of Foucault. Perhaps it was Foucault who influenced Laing, consciously or unconsciously, to give up the ideas that the mad were terrified of intimacy.Foucault excoriated the medical model which became dominant in psychiatry at the end of the 19th century. In an earlier era, the madman was heard, listened to– at least occasionally. But now, to quote Foucault in Madness and Civilization, “[i]n the serene world of mental illness, modern man no longer communicates with the madman…As for a common language there is no such thing; or rather, there is no such thing any longer; the constitution of madness as a mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, affords the evidence of a broken dialogue.The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue of reason about madness, has been established only on the basis of such a silence.” Foucault insisted that madness had its truth to speak, as does the mad person
    It’s hard to believe Laing was NOT influenced by Foucault’s perspective: Almost all Laing’s book after TDS show how normal people seek to silence the mad person with her inconvenient truths. The mad person continues to try to communicate, although she often switches to the language of metaphors, of dreams– but no matter how lucid she is the normal person refuses to hear.

    Laing also found common ground with Szasz. He repudiated the myth of mental illness, and he did not display the ambivalence about the construct that some of his followers display.Many times Laing reached out to Szasz, but Szasz a conservative Libertarian kept his distance from the left-wing fire brand. Now that Laing realized (this realization can first be seen in Sanity, Madness and the Family)that the mad person was trying to communicate, seeking to reveal her innermost secrets (to her family, to her analyst) Laing no longer posited that the mad person was driven by a putative illness. Rather she was a signifying being, a person who could be understood but only if one realized that she has intentions and that she is not a cluster of symptoms. This was the difference between a person who engaged in , “praxis” and one who was merely an effect of pathological or neuropathological processes. This distinction between praxis and process became central to Laing’s work, although one would never know this from reading Thompson.

    I suggest Michael re-read The Voice of Experience. Here Laing reproduces a dialogue between a schizophrenic and
    Wilfred Bion, one of the most highly respected British Freudians–respected largely for his theories of schizophrenia. Laing’s commentary upturns the received wisdom: Laing shows that the “psychotic” makes perfect sense (and quite poetically), although he speaks in metaphors, whereas Bion is so engrossed in his own psychoanalytic fantasies,which he formulates as nonsensical interpretations, that even another psychoanalyst would have trouble making sense of his twisted reasoning. Yet the schizophrenic keeps bravely trying to get through to him.

    Thompson’s statement illustrates the danger of adopting a pathological model. Although he wants to say the mad person is an equal of the normal person or the sane person, once he makes the ascription of pathology to the mad he ends up unconsciously reproducing many of the most common stereotypes of the mad person.Laing realized this danger which is why I contend he made a point of inserting a Preface into TDS repudiating most of it. He never did that with The Politics of Experience even though in the 1970s he distanced himself from some of its contentions– but he never repudiated any of it and never reverted to the position of TDS.

    Thompson writes,”Like the Europe that invented the Lunatic Asylum, our society feels it needs to protect itself from crazy people, some of whom are undeniably dangerous and capable of savage violence, even murder.” As if the “normal” person isn’t. Thompson seems to be unaware that numerous studies have refuted the canard that mad people(those labeled “psychotic)are more violent than normal people.The MacArthur study and others have shown that the mad do not commit more violent acts than normal people–unless they are on narcotics.There are far more acts of “savage violence” committed by so-called normal people in the heat of passion. What could be more revealing of Thompson’s prejudice than this evocation of the mad person as a threat to society who is capable of “savage violence, even murder”? Not just once, but a paragraph later, again Thompson
    (as if obsessed!) depicts the mad person as a threat, noting that if Laing “met a mad person on the street who was threatening him, Laing would defend himself” and, “if need be, ask the police to confine him.” Thompson would have never made comparable remarks about a black man. Just imagine, “Had Laing met a black man on the street who was threatening him…” Or imagine stating that the black person was capable of savage violence! This was a stereotype that I never saw in Laing’s writing. Thompson is of course unaware of his prejudice. It is not surprising that, as several other readers note above, Thompson ignores Psychiatry’s violence AGAINST the mad person.

    But this is precisely the point Laing makes in his Preface–about which Thompson does not inform readers– where he even describes the violence by Psychiatry against mental patients. Laing criticizes TDS in the Preface but his criticism applies as well to Thompson: It is our failure to examine OURselves that leads us to pathologize and demonize the mad.

    Had Thompson carefully re-read Laing’s most famous book The Politics of Experience he would have read Chapter 5 one of the powerful denunciations against psychiatric violence and dehumanization ever written. Space does not me to do justice to it here but I quote in part,”I do not myself believe that there is any such ‘condition’ as ‘schizophrenia’. Yet the label, as a social fact, is a political event. This political event, occurring in the civic order of society, imposes definitions and consequences on the labelled person.. .The ‘committed’ person labelled as patient, and specifically as ‘schizophrenic’, is degraded from full existential status as human agent and responsible person, no longer in possession of his own definition of himself, unable to retain his own possessions, precluded from the exercise of his discretion and whom he meets, what he does. His time is no longer his own and the space he occupies no longer of his choosing. After being subjected to a degrading cermonial know as a psychiatric examination he is bereft of his civil liberties in being imprisoned in a total institution know as a ‘mental hospital’. More completely, more radically than anywhere else in our society he is invalidated as a human being.”

    Or take for example the extraordinary violence of the institutions ostensibly intended to protect normal society.
    Laing writes in the Preface to TDS,”The statesmen of the world who boast and threaten that they have Doomsday weapons are far more dangerous and far more estranged from ‘reality’ than many of the people on whom the label ‘psychotic’ is affixed.” In Thompson’s essay he says nothing about the violence of the world–only of the “psychotic”‘ person, only of the mental patient. Thompson puts his stamp of authority upon a book that Laing views as flawed and reflective of his lack of spiritual maturity, while failing to tell the readers about Laing’s Preface, or Laing’s other books that contradict this.

    Furthermore Thompson ignores The Politics of Experience, the book that became a bestseller on college campuses and made Laing into an icon of the counter-culture, and an international celebrity. In PE Laing avoided pathologizing the mad–and in fact had reached the conclusion that many of the mad were spiritual pioneers,mystics, shamans. Laing writes “If the human race survives, future men will, I suspect, look back on our enlightened epoch as a veritable Age of Darkness. . . .The laugh’s on us. They will see that what we call ‘schizophrenia’ was one of the forms in which, often through quite ordinary people, the light began to break in the cracks in our all-too-closed minds.” Once Laing had liberated himself from the Freudian theories to which Thompson still clings, his writings on madness became extraordinarily insightful courageous and profound.

    Thompson asks the question:”Yet many of the people Laing saw in therapy suffered terribly and saw him in therapy in the hope that he could help them relieve their anguish. But what, precisely, was it that Laing was helping them be relieved of, if not a psychopathological condition?” Thompson says rightly that this is the question raised by Szasz’s famous challenge to Laing. Szasz’s critique of Laing’s advocacy of Soteria-type asylums was disingenuous: Szasz also saw clients for counseling (those who could afford to pay him) although he was careful to avoid the term “therapy” due to its medical connotations.(Szasz was splitting hairs by objecting to Laing’s use of the term “therapy” since most people, including therapists who agreed with Szasz’s contention that mental illness was a myth, used the terms counseling and therapy interchangeably.) But it’s clear that Szasz did not only object to coercive therapy which Laing also condemned, although not as consistently, Szasz objected to the provision of any kind of treatment to the mad at the public’s expense.

    Laing on the other hand spent his entire life trying to obtain financial backing for alternatives to the traditional coercive psychiatric ward. Laing’s unremitting efforts in this regard almost never receives the credit it deserves among those survivors in the “anti-psychiatry” movement (a term by the way rejected by both Laing and Szasz). Szasz, on the other hand, escapes criticism by psychiatric survivors for his lack of support for Soteria-type alternatives to psychiatric hospitals. Szasz rightfully criticized Laing for the one instance in which he involuntarily injected a patient with a psychiatric drug.(The case of Clancy Sigal is too complex to discuss here.) The act is inexcusable, but there were mitigating circumstances. The victim was a long time friend and peer of Laing, not the typical “psychotics” Laing saw as clients with whom his relationships were extraordinary–he stunned audiences of therapists by talking easily with so called paranoid-schizophrenics. The famous case of “Christy” with whom Laing interacted at the Evolution of Psychotherapy conference in 1985 in Phoenix is a good example of one of the latter.

    Szasz’s staunch Libertarianism was probably a factor in his opposition to Laing’s treatment of patients at Kingsley Hall. But Szasz suggested no alternatives for patients who had “schizophrenic” episodes. Szasz not only denied the existence of mental illness, he denied the existence of madness. Thus he evidently felt that persons undergoing breakdowns should be left to fend for themselves, sinvce he denied there was anything the matter.

    One need not posit that persons were suffering from mental illnesses to justify providing them with asylum at the public’s expense. Laing’s answer to Michael’s question was spelled out in all his post-TDS books. In each case Laing redefines the problem
    and the challenge. After Laing rejected the Freudian formulation of TDS, he came to see madness as a developmental crisis, a sort of existential counterpart to the condition of pregnancy.The progeny would be a spiritually reborn self. In both instances we are dealing with developmental crises that require
    social support to be successfully brought to term. In both cases we are dealing with non-pathological conditions.A pregnant woman needs social, financial and emotional support to successfully complete childbirth, just as a mad person needs an array of services in order to successfully resolve her crisis. Thus I believe in almost all cases what is interpreted “mental illness” is a problem in living that can most lucidly be described in terms that draw upon the categories of growth. I have discussed the epistemological (and therapeutic) superiority of a developmental model over a medical model in my own writings.

    Although Thompson states that madness is not pathology, as I’ve shown he seems ambivalent and he completely ignores Laing’s rich spiritual non-pathological non medical multi-faceted view of madness.For example, Laing was not merely helping the mad to be relieved of anguish, of a burden. In The Politics of Experience Laing writes “Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be breakthrough.” What Thompson’s Freudian view obscures is that a breakdown or a “psychotic” episode is not just negative, not just anguish. Not just a meaningless product of misfortune to deposits a burden to be gotten rid of. It is a spiritually significant event. From Laing’s heretical perspective the “schizophrenic” breakdown is a valuable opportunity, a precondition for a spiritual breakthrough. The breakdown of the ego makes possible the reconstitution of the self on a higher level. If this experience were not aborted by psychiatry–as it usually is– the mad person might be spiritually reborn as a mystic or a prophet—she might transcend normality and attain a new self attuned to God, to the cosmos, a self that was “hypersane.” (See the discussion in my book, The Spiritual Gift of Madness.) As Laing eloquently wrote in PE: “True sanity entails the dissolution of the normal ego, that false self completely adjusted to our alienated social reality. . . and through this death a rebirth . . . and the eventual re-establishment of a new kind of ego-functioning, the ego now being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer.” This is the forerunner of the new man or woman, the person of the future.

    Laing never renounced the idea that madness has this potential.It is why I say that Laing provided one powerful rationale for Mad Pride. Maybe Thompson disagrees with Laing but at least he ought to inform readers that this is one answer to his question about what Laing was helping the mad “be relieved of, if not a psychopathological condition?” The question was reformulkated: What was Laing helping the mad to achieve? In most of his books Laing gives a more mundane answer. He would say that he is helping the schizophrenic achieve a state of autonomy in a family situation in which independence is feared. That is, by the time Laing co-authored Sanity, Madness and the Family his investigations led him to a radically different view of madness than the view of TDS. He believed that the schizophrenic comes from a family where her autonomy is feared by her parents who attempt to suppress it. It is this that causes her inner distress. From this perspective the therapist’s role is to encourage the patient’s autonomy. The two views I presented by Laing are not necessarily conflicting. One or both could be true.

    Not once does Thompson mention the theory for which Laing was most famous–the idea that the mad were spiritual pioneers. Thompson describes madness purely as suffering, purely as pathos.
    Nor does he mention his almost equally famous theory that the families of “schizophrenics” drives them crazy. Like Foucault, Laing insists throughout his books (even in TDS–in the book’s most famous passage in which Laing discusses Kraepelin’s examination of a patient) that madness had its truth to speak, and decried the psychiatric silencing of the voice of madness. Throughout Laing’s life he devoted himself to revealing the assets of the mad, and to amplifying and interpreting the voice of the mad. Even when Laing dropped the messianic vision of PE, he continued to reveal how creative and intelligent and spiritually aware the mad were.

    In my own work I have argued that Laing books AFTER TDS provided a sketch for, a basis for, the development of a theoretical rationale for Mad Pride. The Mad Pride movement developed only in the late 1990s, and went beyond the psychiatric survivors’ movement which united mental patients around their identity as victims or survivors of psychiatry: Mad Pride united many of the victims of psychiatry by affirming the existence and the value of a mad sensibility. (See The Spiritual Gift of Madness.) I argue in my book that the patients’ movement followed a trajectory similar to the African American and queer movement which started off by down-playing their distinctive traits.

    But there is a difference: Many if not most mad persons have had a vision of a new utopian-messianic order.It arises within them spontaneously during their “psychotic episodes” (along with more disturbing visions)–in the eyes of psychiatrists their visions are really pathological symptoms of severe mental illnesses. During their psychotic or manic episodes the mad also have the feeling that they have an important spiritual mission that God gave them to fulfill. I agree.

    I believe the mad have a calling to be the prophets of the new messianic order that is seeking manifestation upon the earth. An organized force of mad prophets, visionaries and messiahs can arouse the slumbering yearnings for redemption latent within the collective psyche. If organized, these mad messiahs could become the catalysts of a new Great Awakening that will rouse the messianic yearnings of humanity and impel the masses to create new institutions based upon equality and justice.

    Each soul would be a cell within the multi-cellular body of humanity. The principle of cooperation would replace that of competition, peace would replace war, love would triumph over death. Such a new order will be open to the influx of divine lov or grace from “above” that will transform the earth and make possible the realization of the ancient dream of the end of suffering, the enlightenment of all beings,the reign of the Goddess, the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth.

  • Dr Thomas,
    Thanks for your concise and insightful summary of Dr Moncrieff’s new book. I am looking forward to reading Joanna’s book. I read her 2008 book, and her articles here.I think her innovative and astute argument for a drug centered approach took the discourse beyond that of pioneer Peter Breggin–it provides a solid foundation for a harm-reduction approach. However I believe it is important to point out that there is a major inconsistency in Moncrieff’s work,to the point sometimes of absurdity. I previously attributed this inconsistency–on comments here on MIA– to the unconscious influence of the medical model. Before I elaborate let me give a quick but telling example of Joanna’s inconsistency–whether it is deliberate or unconscious. Dr Moncrieff makes a powerful argument for a drug centered approach, yet she consistently refers to neuroleptics as “antipsychotics.” The term obviously implies that the effect of the drug is upon the putative disease, or on the specific symptoms.

    This may be a deliberate attempt to avoid alienating professionals, but it undermines her advocacy of a drug centered approach, and it reinforces the medical model. Language shapes people’s perception of reality. It’s not insignificant when one continually evokes an image that contradicts the model for which one is advocating. The public at large is convinced that neuroleptics ARE anti-psychotics and I cannot help but think Dr Moncrieff would be a more effective advocate if she began to refer–at least 75% of the time– to so-called anti-psychotics as neuroleptics.

    I am led to genuinely wonder: Does Dr Moncrieff, an advocate for a drug centered approach, think that neuroleptics do not have any distinctive anti-psychotic properties? My impression is she is not completely sure.

    I listened to her interview with Peter Breggin yesterday.At the beginning Joanna said she thought short-term use of “antipsychotics” is necessary. She thought Peter would agree but he responded, “I believe that if these drugs were given to anybody but mental patients they would have been off the market a long time ago.”He said that short term use of benzodiazepines could and should be used instead of neuroleptics. They then had a fascinating discussion. Every time Peter made a generalization she would give cite powerful evidence that backed it up, and vice versa. Towards the end of the hour, there was a pause and then Dr Moncrieff said out of the blue– as if she had not participated in the previous conversation:”My guess is that there are some people who do need antipsychotics and benefit from them.” There was a long pause. I imagine Peter was trying to overcome his confusion. Rather than pursue the point he tactfully changed the subject.

    Now you write, Dr Thomas, “There is a much to admire about Joanna Moncrieff’s book, but treading the path of a critical psychiatrist can at times be a fine balancing act. If her message is to get through to the profession, its tone and positioning are of utmost importance….For this reason I suspect that some may find her arguments too cautious, possibly to the point of ambivalence.” Is her ambivalence then a pose, a move in a strategy designed to influence what you call the “academic elites.” I am convinced her ambivalence is genuine–after all she was talking to Breggin in a program that would in all probability be unheard by the academic elites. Does her ambivalence serve her goal nonetheless? I don’t put much stock in the academic elites, but I am wary whether such ambivalence serves the cause of educating her readers who includes professionals as well as clients.

    There is no good evidence that long term use of psychiatric drugs is beneficial for anyone–and in fact Moncrieff is the first to point that out.If one takes into account the reduction in life expectancy and the 2/3’s incidence of TD after 20 years of use, along with numerous other indices of the deterioration in the quality of life…well I’m sure Joanna makes these very points in her book! THE APA in their mid 1990s report on tardive dyskinesia acknowledged the prevalence of the problem (this was before the myth of the atypicals) but said neuroleptics were necessary for the management of schizophrenia. What is Dr Moncrieff’s “guess” based upon? I stated that there was no good evidence. The “bad” evidence Dr Moncrieff might cite is the fact that many people she knows believe they were helped or saved by antipsychotics. Just as “psychotics” in other eras would have said they benefited from ECT and insulin coma therapy–let alone lobotomies. Of course. People trust psychiatrists. I think that is why 50% of depressed persons respond to placebos. (I am not aware of any cross-cultural studies on the placebo effect of anti-depressant drugs.)

    As to short term benefit I think Dr Moncrieff is aware that there are studies that show benzodiazepines are just as effective, and she knows they don’t have the extremely adverse side effects,e.g., akathisia, EPS, emotional blunting.Most of the former patients I know who were put on neuroleptics in the hospital would argue that the administration of these drugs constitutes torture–physical and psychological– even when they took them willingly. Of course they were not permitted to stop taking them. Nor to switch to benzodiazepines. Why not? Because benzo’s are not “antipsychotics.” In other words there IS no good reason for the use of neuroleptics rather than more benign drugs.

    I think Dr Moncrieff makes some pro-neuroleptic statements because she believes(some of the time, half-heartedly) that these drugs have specific and distinctive properties that make them usually well-suited for the “management”of “psychosis.” (Dr Sandra Steingard, who was probably influenced by Moncrieff, also believes this.)

    Otherwise why support the uses of drugs that have the horrendous risk/benefit ratio of neroleptics when there are alternatives? I think her guess is based purely upon the hold that the medical model has upon the collective psyche,such that even dissidents do not escape its influence.

    I have heard her online make an argument for the use of alternatives to SSRIs. She boldly contends that anti-depressants do not have an “anti-depressant” effect. But when it comes to schizophrenia, the “sacred symbol of psychiatry”(Szasz), even mavericks become timid. Even R.D. Laing became ambivalent.The fact that Tom Szasz was consistent, even with schizophrenics, throughout his life, is one reason he was held in such high esteem by activists in the survivors’ movement.

    Dr Moncrieff described the Dutch follow-up study in one of her recent articles on this website, “This study provides tentative confirmation that long-term antipsychotic use impairs people’s ability to function, and this is exactly what we should expect from drugs that inhibit mental processes and nervous activity.”Yes,
    indeed! And we should expect that drugs which “inhibit mental processes and nervous activity” would not be beneficial for anyone, even if many patients think that they are. In some activist circles these days it’s taboo to imply the patient could ever be wrong, whether she claims the drug is detrimental or helpful to her.

    Every “mental health” professional and particularly every psychiatrist has to decide what they would say to clients who claim that neuroleptics are helping them. They have to decide how to respond to clients who wants to be en-couraged– who need the doctor’s confidence in them– to wean themselves off of neuroleptic drugs. They have to decide what to say to clients or colleagues who want to know if neuroleptics have specific anti-psychotics properties. And if they don’t, why call them antipsychotics?

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Indigomind,
    Judging from your comment, you have not read the article or the discussion above your comment.
    If you had read the above you would see the destructive effects that result from labeling people “mentally ill.” You would see that the drugs supposedly designed to rectify “mental illnesses” do not do that but typically have effects worse than the original problem.
    Losing a job is nothing compared to losing a life. I suggest you read my latest book on the Mad Pride movement.It also tells the stories–as did my first book in 1993–of people who resolved the spiritual crisis the psychiatrists label “schizophrenia” and “bipolar disorder” by getting out of the “mental health” system and off psychiatric drugs. They are evidence that the spiritual crisis model is more illuminating and more therapeutic than the disease model. At the time I interviewed them they were “weller than well” –to quote Karl Menninger–because they had incorporated the spiritual dimension into their lives, and because they were NOT normal. That is unlike normal people they were not adjusted to our insane society, they were “creatively maladjusted.”
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.,

  • Evidently, according to the above, BZDs were phased out and replaced by SSRIs. There have been no studies comparing the two.
    Lisa you don’t know that you were not experiencing a placebo effect.We know that SSRIs do not outperform active placebos in the alleviation of depression–for which it was designed.They are only slightly better than sugar pills. It would be surprising if SSRIs were better for anxiety than for depression!! BTW the placebo effect is greater if the patient has a positive relationship with the prescriber.I think you did. We have no way of knowing that you were not benefitting from placebo effect rather than SSRIs, as do almost all those taking SSRIs for depression.
    One issue would be the cost/benefit ratio.A BZD is more likely to be abused since people use it to get high.So this is going to be relevant for specific populations–those with a tendency toward alcohol or drug abuse. Another problem is one quickly develops a tolerance for BZPs–which is all the more reason NOT to use it every day.
    But SSRIs I think have far more adverse side effects. First there is a risk of suicidal thoughts or actions increasing with use of SSRI.Healy found the risk of suicidality is 7 times greater with Zoloft than with placebo.People with no history of suicide became suicidal. For men the incidence of sexual dysfunction is 50% according to Glenmullen. Women report a reduction in sexual interest. There is tardive dsykinesia and akathisia.Glenmullen’s book on Prozac discusses the risk.
    SSRIs are more harmful drugs than BZDs–of course this would not be true if the person were given massive dosages of the latter.
    There is copious evidence that meditation is effective for the alleviation of anxiety. If meditation were supplemented by giving clients access to BZDs to take in an emergency or until they become adept at meditating, one could avoid the harmful effects of SSRIs. Unlike SSRIs a benzo has an immediate effect.It occasional and moderate use is far less harmful than regular usage of SSRIs.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • You know there are people who have gotten off these drugs
    after 12-15 years. At least two of them post here.Laura Delano and Monica ( You coyuld ask them for advice. Most people who have been on the drugs 15 years find it harder to get oiff. Their body as habituated to them despite the drawbacks. But according to you, you’re in hell anyway. You write, “I have no quality of life and im in pain & suffering everyday, i wont bother to list all the neuro, and physical symptoms…” You might as well try. It took Monica (whose nom de plume was Gianna Kali) 5 yrs to get off the drugs. At the end she experienced great fatigue- I don’t know how she feels now, about 2 yrs later.
    Good luck.
    Seth Farber, Ph.

  • Peter, Considering how and why these drugs were selected in the 1950s (let’s remember they were hailed as by psychiatrists as “chemical lobotomies”)
    it would be quite a extraordinary coincidence if they had any distinctive properties that made them particularly suited for the “treatment” of “psychotics.”
    The assumption is made that they have such properties because of their long history of use, and because of the mythology that surrounds them and that surrounds “schizophrenia.” They are medieval treatments like insulin coma therapy, lobotomies and packing patients in ice. To refer to them as “anti-psychotics” as to perpetuate dangerous myths. I think one of Bob Whitaker contributions was to focus on the destructive effects of these drugs. Lars Martensson has also rightly I think singled this class of drugs out as unusually toxic.

  • Maria
    Well written, witty and moving article but I’m not sure exactly what your point is. It’s seem obvious that a relationship with an emotional boob, with the typical narrow-minded views of a shrink, is not going to
    be helpful to someone of your intellectual independence. But I don’t see how that refutes the idea that
    “a strong therapeutic alliance trumps treatment modality” as you imply. The logical and valid converse of that idea is that a weak alliance also trumps modality since it’s hard to imagine anything that therapist could have done that would have helped you.

    Your story demonstrates the weakness of their research methods, although you do not explicitly say this. I think your point is that had you been less self-confident (i.e. someone else) you might have “contributed more” to the “therapeutic alliance” and thus you might have felt or reported that the therapy was effective even if it undermined your self-confidence, even had it weakened your ability to be self-assertive, even had it made you dependent on drugs. That’s a strong indictment, but you stop short of saying it.

    Therapy is greatly over-rated. There are few studies that assess the harm it can do to people–yet Thomas Szasz, R. D. Laing and Erving Goffman and many other great writers and/or therapists have shown its destructive effect on those outside the prevalent social norms–particularly those who get the worst labels.Your story also illustrates the agonizing effect of having to suffer such imbecility right after a personal tragedy. Even
    when it’s not an adjunct to drugs, individual therapy is at best a substitute for community and friendship which are often difficult to find in our society–particularly in rainy day weather, Nowadays as John points out above
    psychiatry offers drugs and isolation in the community.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Joanna, You seem to make a good argument for doctors to avoid prescribing neuroleptics AT ALL to first break patients–except perhaps for controlling violent behavior and treating intractable cases of insomnia.(I exclude patients who are already addicted to them). Why do you stop short of saying this–or at least saying that they ought not to be used routinely even in the short term, and certainly not in the long term?? Why do you think alternative psychiatrists have prescribed Valium or Xanax rather than “anti-psychotics”? Why are so many patients “non-compliant”?

    You write: “Antipsychotics do help some people suffering from psychosis. There is evidence that they reduce symptoms and levels of distress in the short-term.” I don’t think there is any evidence that they are any better than other drugs that do not have their drawbacks:1)They produce “side-effects” that most patients I have talked to found mildly to extremely unpleasant(They were never told they could get off the drugs, so their suffering was protracted–from akathisia to emotional blunting to impotence to disturbing EPS 2)Their use (despite their adverse effects)perpetuates the MYTH that neuroleptics have specific anti-psychotic properties (a subset of the disease centered myth you have attacked)–a myth that has such hegemony in this society that I suspect EVEN YOU have been influenced by it–perhaps unconsciously. I have made here briefly (added to your
    considerations) a drug-centered argument against the use of neuroleptics–except in unusual cases.

    You claim, “It is more difficult to judge whether they are beneficial in the long-term…” I have not seen any evidence of the latter. Every comparison with no-drugs or different drugs (in the short term) is to the detriment of neuroleptics, particularly when you take into account the 25 years reduction in life expectancy. To me the strongest evidence is not RCS but the psychiatric survivors who got off the drugs and flourished

    I notice that you are bold enough to say SSRIs do not help depression. Is it not possible that you have been intimidated by the myth of schizophrenia–what Szasz called the sacred symbol of psychiatry?

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I completely support your idea of a paradigm switch to a drug-centered model. However, Dr Moncrieff, this is not consistent
    with your advocacy of limited use of “anti-psychotics”–or your use of that term. Let’s call them neuroleptics.

    Let’s look at the history. In David Cohen’s brilliant essay “PsychiatrogenicS: Introducing Chlorpromazine in Psychiatry” he examines the original psychiatric accounts. Neuroleptics were first hailed “because they stupefied agitated inmates of mental hospitals as well as or better than the existing treatments”–you know what those were. Cohen notes–and this is CRUCIAL, “We are told repeatedly in these accounts that neuroleptics induced profound obvious neurological dysfunctions, that these dysfunctions were part and parcel of the drugs’ desired effects and that some psychiatrists sought to produce these dysfunctions with the drugs.” Bizarre movement disorders such as parkinsonism, dyskinesia, dystonia, akathisia were observed within a year after the drugs’ introduction. To pick a typical observation by a psychiatrist in 1959, “Agents having very few toxic effects are usually without action in the psychoses.The ability to induce a EPS is a sine qua non of therapeutic effectiveness.” In the context of the state mental hospital where patients were warehoused, therapeutic efficacy meant efficient patient control,effective ward management and reduction of patient violence–in an abusive (by staff) environment conducive to violent acting out. Causing the least harm was never a concern bto the psychiatrists promoting these drugs.

    But Joanna the main reason neuroleptics are used today in hospitals instead of less harmful sedatives is because the former are viewed as “anti-psychotics”, i.e,they bolster the medical model which in itself originally depended upon the belief in psychiatrists’ ability to treat schizophrenia, the sacred symbol of psychiatry.Another reason is the prejudice against the “addictive” “minor tranquilizers.” As if neuroleptics were not addictive.

    Peter Breggin’s model—all drugs are brain-damaging– often I think blurs the boundaries between different drugs. But a drug-centered model like yours should prioritize the reduction of harm. And for that matter undermining the medical model should also be a priority since the medical model is itself iatrogenic and fosters the long term use of iatrogenic drugs. It is revealing that many of the asylums based on a Soteria model or a Laingian model substituted occasional use of of benzodiazepines or “minor tranquilizers” (routinely used by “normal” people) for the use of neuroleptics. The only justification for the use of the latter might be to sedate a violent patient. But there is no reason why a frightened patient should not be given the option of taking a benzodiazepine (or a glass of wine, or marijuana if legal). The harmful effects are much less and they are not accompanied by painful “side effects.” In other words their therapeutic effects is not attained by making the patient so physically ill she is unable to do anything but sleep. It is in patients’ interests to phase out of existence altogether the use of neuroleptics which maintains the psychiatric caste system.

    People do not suffer FROM hallucinations or delusions. They suffer from anxiety, fear, panic. And copious evidence exists that these unwanted emotional states can be alleviated by the same substances that “normal” people, i.e., non-“psychotic” people, typically use to mitigate anxiety. Clearly these drugs cause much less harm than neuroleptics. (The fact that these drugs are often abused as compared to neuroleptics is an argument for caution, not for the use of a class of drugs whose “side effects” are so unpleasant that “non-compliant” patients have to be forced, often Court-ordered by the State, to take them.)
    Seth Farber, Ph.D., author of The Spiritual Gift of Madness…,

  • MJK You’re right about the Wuornos comment.It’s very convincing. I think there is material- articles, books(that include Manson) among others–about the Manson murders that show there were other forces involved..
    It is pretty strong evidence. You know they used this technology on people without credibility. Evidently they also wanted to program them to kill. That is too evil a scenario for most people to believe. They want to believe MK-UlTRA ended, but it did not.It merely went “dark.”
    But they are NOT using it on the population at large now. But if the CIA or even rogue CIA were behind some of these killings–whether Manson, or the two in Colorado–they are trying to impact the population at large. It is terrorism. I don’t buy that they are doing it in order to create pressure for gun control–it’s more complex. My point is only that it exists and we should recognize it, even though the targets have low social credibility.

  • All I can say NI that is positive, in agreement that is, is that you articulate your position well and your concern is a valid one. That is, I can conceive of some, perhaps many, contexts in which I would withhold my beliefs on mind control out of concern for the other person. I can conceive of situations I might reassure someone that they were not a victim of others trying to control their mind. Although I can’t remember that ever happening. I DO tell a friend that I do not believe the TV set is literally talking to her–that it is more likely that it is just synchronicity.
    But not here, not now. Particularly when the only other person who says she was a victim of mind control has been saying the same things to you that I have.
    (Nor will I never mention it in a public venue.)
    I found a quote just now on a blog by a psych survivor that is also relevant.
    “It was liberating to hear on Youtube, Ron Coleman speaking at the Voices Matter Conference. He was asked by a Hearing Voices Network member; “Do you hear voices, Ron?” “ Yes” answered Ron. “Well, they’re real.” Ron went onto say that this felt like “The first time someone acknowledged the reality of my experience.” I took this on board and applied the sense that my experiences visual, auditory, and sensory were real. It felt revelatory that what I experienced was real. Real to me, and as real as a thought, that my perceptions weren’t defective. To deny a sense that these experiences are real would be to deny many wondrous and frightening sensations. To deny beauty itself. Maybe that’s why I make paintings to show people that my experiences are real….” A fundamental human need is the need to know that the other is seeing a particular thing as well as us.

  • NI You are making up things and you are taking things out of context. Furthermore you evade my arguments.

    The context in which I am currently speaking is MIA under an article on violent action committed by a man who thought he was a target.This poor man could obviously find no one who agreed with him. I put it to you that it would have been a great relief to Alexis had he found one authority figure who agreed with HIS belief he was targeted–even if he wasn’t. There is one person here who says she was targeted–mjk.(I’m not sure if she believes she is still targeted.) I’ve read her posts many times before and she (I did not know her gender until just now) did not strike me as the kind of person who would change her beliefs on the basis of anything
    some psychologist–or anyone–would say. On the other hand, I find her quite convincing (unlike 2 other people I mentioned whom I thought had erroneous beliefs, delusions).
    I find her testimony adds weight to our argument that Alexis WAS targeted. But according to you by saying this I am being harmful to her. I strongly disagree. I keep telling you that to the contrary people’s self confidence
    is strengthened by being taken seriously.

    But if I were to follow your advice NI I suppose I would either not give her any reason to believe I think her testimony
    is credible, or I would try to convince her she was wrong. But of course this would be doing her a disservice. I suspect she would experience this as an insult.How does insulting people contribute to their well-being? Yet this is what you advocate.

    What about your claim that I am reinforcing fears that people are ready to give up? (Your argument falls apart if they are not ready to give them up.) First of all you misrepresent what I said. You state, “You say a lot of things but among them is the unmistakable message to a person experiencing psychosis that, if they believe the government is controlling their mind, they have good reason to believe their belief is true.” I never said that. According to Freedom from Covert Surveillance and Harassment there are 1/2 million targeted persons in the US. I’m not sure how they arrived at that number but let’s say there are more conservative estimates. So I do not give the message that people are necessarily right. So if I were to speak publicly about it–as I will in the future–I would say the number is relatively small. I would say many people believe this w/o good evidence.

    If they have delusions that they are ready to give up (and sometimes people DO obviously have delusions) then my saying the truth is not going to keep them from giving them up. People have a right to their delusions. They are almost always metaphorically correct–but that is not what they want to hear. So I have to respect them.

    I must say though NI you would not make a good counselor or therapist. I have yet to meet a SINGLE persons who had what you might call delusions –and I might agree–who would not feel undermined if I told them I thought their ideas were wrong or delusional.They would not feel relieved–they would feel invalidated. You see it is exactly the opposite of what you think NI. People are undermined by having their so-called delusions, their deepest convictions, refuted by some authority figure. You think they are relieved of their fears. In most cases the most I can do is confirm their self-confidence.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

    PS mjk, Is Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues video online? On youtube? I never heardof it?

  • N.I.
    You overlooked The points I made in my lat response to you that clashes with your position. But first let me say that I never said that it was more than a minority.I intend to always make clear that it is a relatively small number–however they do exist within the Mad community. But you want me to self-censor all discussion on this topic. You ignored my contention based on experience that many people who consult me a therapist would find it harmful for me to tell them that their perception that an institution is interfering in their lives is delusional. I gave 2 examples.
    Now let’s take the current case. I think the few people on here
    found this discussion edifying. No one was harmed.No one was so awed by the fact that I have a PHD in psychology that they accepted what I was saying as fact. This is not like a therapeutic
    The proof of the pudding is the fact that one person here has experienced exactly what I was talking about. MJK is not a credulous person, she already displays a greater familiarity with the literature on this topic than I have–I only learned about this 5 weeks ago when I was approached by a member of a group of targeted individuals. I find MJK’s story very credible. She is obviously a person of high intelligence as she says (although I’m not sure that is why she was targeted). She has done a lot of reading on this topic–her opinions are informed.
    How do you think she would feel if everyone dismissed her experiences as delusions? Don’t you think she values Mad in America precisely because she is not dismissed as a “mentally ill” person. Your implication seems to be NI that I should say to mjk, “As a psychologist I must say that these ideas of yours are paranoid.”
    I’m afraid NI your position makes no sense to me. If you just apply it to the current situation you would see that it would be patronizing and insulting. A less independent person than MJK would be troubled by my failure to take her perceptions seriously.
    You are a critic of psychiatric drugs but the position you are advocating seems similar to that of a typical psychiatrist.

  • Mere Mortal
    I answered your questions in my reply below to NI.
    As to your question on who–by far the most likely are persons in military followed by persons with a psych history, for obvious reasons.
    See below.
    Both MJK andi gave you the resources. You write
    “What motive would someone have had to surveill or harrass adam lanza or james holmes? I don’t know, but if you want me to believe that they were surveilled or harrassed by the FBI, I’m going to need an answer to that question.” You are going to have to do some homework then. I picked this all up in the last 6 weeks. There are
    just a few books you could read that would give you a good overview. If you think the sanity of the persons in intelligence, or rogue elements,is greater than that of DR Mengele than you’ll never understand. Ten thousand Nazi scientist were secretly recruited by the CIA underb Operation Paperclip and put to work for US government–American intelligence. I argued in my latest book that–as Laing said–normal society is insane. It is the logic of to quote one American soldier in Vietnam, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” I admit
    although I knew they were ready to do this to the
    the foreigner, I was not aware of the extent to which the guinea pigs for the development of “knowledge”- in the Foucauldian sense–that enabled US intelligence to pursue its goal of mastery were American citizens.
    If you want to understand the motive you have to read the literature–you have to see what was done.This is not new: 200,000 soldiers were deliberately exposed to radiation, in MK Ultra they were given LSD w/o their knowledge.It should remain ultimately incomprehensible since evil remains opaque.

  • First of all N. I. makes 2 claims. The first one must be addressed first. (MJK and I mostly agree but I don’t know why MJK implies he/she is perfect and could never be mistaken.) NI writes:
    “I think it is highly irresponsible and dangerous to promote the idea that people who are in the throes of the kinds of experiences referred to in psychiatry as delusions and hallucinations are not experiencing paranoia or perceiving the world in an objectively inaccurate, way but have been subjected to mind control…vertable evidence to the contrary — it cannot possibly influence nearly all cases. To suggest to someone experiencing paranoia of this variation that their beliefs are true is simply harmful to that person and contrary to the harm reduction ethos of this cause…” First of all who ever said anything about “suggesting the idea” or “promoting the idea”? As a therapist for several decades consulted by many so called psychotic people I have learned that the most harmful thing I can do is to impose my beliefs upon them. I DO tell them right away that I do not believe in “mental illness.” If they don’t like that belief I can’t help them. But if they tell me the CIA is persecuting them even if I do not believe it–unless they are soliciting my opinion–it would be an act of extreme insensitivity, even of emotional abuse, for me to tell them they are wrong.I don’t agree with you that I ought to convey to them that they are”paranoid.” There is one woman who has been emotionally abused all her life by the Catholic Church. She was molested at one point. I do not know how she got in the space she is now at, and I would like to see her give up the idea that the Church has been poisoning her food (just enough to keep her physically ill), listening to her conversations, sabotaging her relationships.threatening to murder her..but I can’t.She is an interesting person, looks completely “normal” not at all eccentric; 20 years ago this woman was a therapist, she still looks like an upper middle class conventional elderly person of 75, she discusses with me a variety of books she reads in the half way where she resides–she tends to lean toward New Age.She has no one to talk to at her residence as most are uneducated. Her children cannot accept Sally’s (pseudonym) beliefs so they minimize the time they spend with her (she particularly misses her grandchildren). I cannot undermine this belief system. I am the only person she can talk the “truth” to who accepts what she says–anything else–any hint of skepticism– she experiences as a kind of psychological rape. Metaphorically there is truth to her “delusions” but I could not say that to her without her feeling deeply betrayed.She has left other therapists who challenged her beliefs. I know what I’m doing is right. If I thought she really wanted to know my opinion
    I would be happy to tell her. But my purpose– is to accept her boundaries–unlike her Catholic parents, Catholic ex-husband and Catholic adult children who sided with their father– by accepting her story even though it keeps her in a rut.

    So N.I. before you start making these accusations against me I think you’d better consider how the woman I described feels. Many people do not want a therapist to help them figure out the world. In a world that is against them they need to feel that at least one person is on their side.I also knew years ago a survivor–call her X– who thought she was targeted by the CIA. She was a friend. I had not read the literature then but
    even if I had I would have been skeptical. But she did not ask my opinion. Today in the Internet age there is a support group for targeted individuals, there are various things they can do to help themselves–it’s very empowering. If an individual is really targeted then they can be helped by these groups. Now what if X had not been targeted? What is like Sally her story about the CIA had only a metaphorical truth. If she asked me obviously I would tell her that. If she did not want to hear that I would tell her about the self-help groups for targeted persons. The irony is by enabling people to feel less helpless, they empower even persons who are deluded (not real targets)
    and make them feel less helpless.
    But I am not practicing therapy here so I can speak honestly about what I believe.I
    was consulted after I did a radio show 6 weeks ago by targeted
    persons. I talked to many–6–of them and believed them. Unlike NI
    I investigated the literature.I strongly recommend The CIA Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists by Colin Ross as well as the Robert Duncan and John Hall book.(All of these books are written by scholars, not by professional “conspiracy theorists.”) I already knew that during MK-Ultra
    at least 100s of Americans and Canadians were subjected unknowingly and without their permission to mind control experiments. Germans were hung at Nuremberg for the kind of experiments done–without the subject’s knowledge or permission– by Dr Ewen Cameron and others.Cameron’s experiments–involving mega-electroshock and unwitting administration of LSD– destroyed the targets.Others were left with PTSD after having LSD slipped into their coffee.Frank Olson did NOT commit suicide. As his son discovered–after exhuming his body– he was assassinated. Why? He was planning to resign in protest. Now anyone who does the research and looks at the materials recommended by mjk or me can see that these experiments did not cease. They now use technology
    that is capable of creating the sound of voices in the brain/ Anyone who is really interested should contact these targeted persons at

    AS a therapist my position has to be different from my position as a writer, a social critic and activist. NI writes “Isn’t even the suggestion on a site like this, where people in or familiar with these mind states congregate, that these beliefs are true, wrongminded?” Of course it is not “wrongminded.” How could the truth be wrongminded. As stated above there are people more afraid
    of the idea that they are not being harassed by the CIA than by the idea that they are–even if they’re not.

    To say it is wrong to discuss the existence of this phenomenon reminds me of NAMI. You are introducing the very distinction between the so called mentally ill (or however you call them) and so called normal people that Szasz spent his life fighting.Are you going to keep these people from reading the newspapers or searching the Internet? AS mjk said, “What would be such a HARROWING mistake is to deny the reality of people who ARE caught up in this mental warfare (which DOES include psychiatry).”

    Someone asked who is selected. People are selected at random but they tend to be from preponderantly from certain groups–those in the military, those in prison and those with psychiatric histories. The reason for the latter is obvious: No matter how convincing their evidence, who would believe them??
    (To say the handlers target psych survivors is not to deny, as you state, N. I., that they are still a minority–which is a fact that every reader should keep in mind.)Only the subject knows–on some deeper level– if she is a target. Only she knows when it is right to adhere to the idea and when it is right to give it up.If they do not want your opinion you are not doing them a favor by imposing it. On the other hand it IS your responsibility on a public forum to expose the truth, not to censor it in the name of mental health.

    I have proposed in my book an idea that is no longer popular, that is in fact disparaged by those in the Icarus Project who first proposed it in 2005–that the mad are uniquely suited to make an unusually significant contribution to saving the world–to saving it from “normal” people. That is that they need to take on far more responsibility not less.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • . However not a single SSRI is still under patent of big Pharma.
    That is irrelevant. They need to fulfill certain criteria.
    For years they have done that through various subterfuges. A recent study found 90% of psych drugs approved by FDA had no advantage over drugs on the market. If you read the critics –say Pharmageddeon by David Healy– you’d see FDA does not protect the consumer and ever since FDA collects fee from drug companies it is in their service. You would see in the Healy book that the science today is just a PR operation of the drug industry.
    It’s hard to come up with new patent after 25 years
    but they will.Or they will increase consumption by conquering new markets when they should not even be used, particularly on children. Bob Whitaker shows that SSRIS cause manic states. This is one reason there are 6 million bipolars today–they are a product of SSRIs. Once labeled bipolar they will be put on neuroleptics as well as a cocktail.
    THE SSRIs have no value as their efficacy is no better than placebo and these drugs greatly increase the risk of suicidal and violent behavior. The common side effects range from akathisia to sexual impotence. AT least half the males experience some sexual dysfunction. Yet SSRIs are along with neuroleptics the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs.
    The benzo.s are more often abused because threy have a pleasing effect unlike the SSRIs. Yes if on regulat dose of benzos getting off can be dangerous but the advantage of a benzo is their effect is immediate and they can be taken when “patient” NEEDS them,e.g., once or twice a week, for a week if one is under stress and then stopped before tolerance. SSRIs are always taken daily for years and patients find it extremely painful to go off–the withdrawal effects are extremely disturbing.
    I doubt that you have read Ann Blake Tracy(Prozac:Panaceo or Pandora) or any of the books by Healy or Breggin I mentioned above. For example, almost all of the school shooters were on SSRIs. Not any of the other commonly prescribed drugs. IN other words it isnot just a correlation– thus, I argue, the effect of SSRIs is causal, it makes some people violent. Even people with no history of violence.
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Daniel,
    I read it so often I don’t remember where.(I did not read Kirsh but I’ve read enough references to his book–I am surprised he omits that.) But it would certainly be in Healy.But I’m not sure if it’s in both of Healy’s relevant books–see below. (I tried reading some other books by Healy but they were not worth the effort.) Only Healy, Breggin and Ann Blake Tracy focus on the bizarre Jekyl and HYde type quality SSRIs have on a small group of people. (Healy is or was an establishment psychiatrist so his claims might be more believable to skeptics–that is to believers in Psychiatry.)I say small meaning relative to all the people on SSRIs but it is a large group when compared to those who commit violent crimes-it turns out 67% of violent acts were committed by persons on psych drugs (SSRIs mostly).The book by Healy on this issue is Let Them Eat Prozac. I don’t recall if he talks here about how benzos are given with SSRIs in the tests.

    It would certainly be mentioned in Pharmageddeon –the best book written on the reduction of “scientific” testing to PR operation by the drug companies– which does not focus on SSRIs . Also America Fooled by Timothy Scott definitely covers this,not as original and sophisticated as Healy but easier to read. Healy talks about all the tricks performed to disguise dangers of drugs in Pharmageddeon. Breggin’s Medication Madness is an easy and entertaining book to read, but it’s just on the dangers of SSRI, almost all narratives. (I give it to people who are not readers whom I want to encourage to get off psych drugs on any kind although it focuses on SSRIs–but it would not be in THAT book.) Another book that DOES mention the concurrent prescription of benzos is Joseph Glenmullen book on Prozac–an establishment shrink who hates the SSRIs.

    Breggin probably wrote an article on it–so Google might be the quickest way.Here’s a quote from a Breggin article: “The FDA allowed the drug company to include in its efficacy data those patients who had been illegally treated with concomitant benzodiazepine tranquilizers in order to calm their over-stimulation. With these patients included, statistical manipulations enabled the FDA to find the drug marginally approvable. Basically, Prozac was approved in combination with addictive benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Xanax, and Valium; but neither the FDA nor the drug company revealed this information.”(–just accessed) But if you read other sources you will find this is ROUTINE–Kirsh’s failure to include it means the efficacy of SSRIs are even less that Kirsch stated, i.e., less than the placebo!

  • Many people DO take SSRIs alone. When you read about violent act by someone on drugs, it is usually just SSRIs, which seem to have the distinctive ability to make a small group (but large enough to do great damage) non-violent subjects violent.
    I also have met many people who would have liked to get a benzo for anxiety(obviously they are least harmful when used for emergencies–so that tolerance does not develop) and were only given the choice of SSRIs and/or neuroleptics. (That is not to say the benzo.s are harmless but used with caution and moderately they are benign compared to SSRIs and neuroleptics.)
    Another disadvantage of the benzo.s is that they are not compatible with the serious “mental illness” diagnoses shrinks prefer. They are for everyday “anxiety” as indicated by their class, “minor tranquilizers.”

  • Stephen You mean the Violence Initiative in early 90s–Fred Goodwin, head of NIMH. I was friendly with Breggin then and helped to expose the VI to black community here in NYC. It generated lots of opposition. It seems Clinton did not like the idea since Goodwin left when Clinton got into office. Now they just drug blacks in schools and foster care (and prisons) and don’t advertize it.
    There was an article about Alexis in the NYT today–they found papers in which he claimed Navy was subjecting him to mind control.
    What makes this credible is that he accurately described the kind of technology
    that is used–has been used to experiment on people. Of course no one will believe him because that is “paranoid.” For years the intelligence agencies have been obsessed with creating a “Manchurian candidate.”
    Seth Farber, PhD

  • Robb, Actually that’s a good point but it’s not just “at times.”
    It is routine( see Glenmullen, Healy) in tests of SSRIs for FDA approval to include administration of a benzodiazapine–its use is not even mentioned in the articles on tests. This is another one of the under-handed tricks the drug industry gets away with. Presumably the anxiety caused by SSRIs would be much greater and undermine its “therapeutic efficacy” (already low) if it were not given with a “minor tranquilizer.” One could infer that violent and suicidal acts would also be more frequent. Of course SSRIs are not routinely given with benzo’s in the “real world.”
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Yes I noticed some of the other articles were anti-Semitic. This was the best article I’ve seen taking the position that Alexis was subject to mind control. There is nothing offensive about this article. The fact that it appeared in an often reactionary magazine is no reason not to read the article.

    The quote to which you object is not by a psychiatrist but by an expert in micro-wave technology. I’m sure he did not intend to bolster psychiatry. If he did he would not have referred to the heart or the eye. I think his point was probably that by focusing on one point, one gland, you create maximum trauma, which is often the point.It is a fact that they can use “voice to skull” technology to deliver specific messages that sound as if they are said by voices in the head. The technology is discussed in books by John Hall (Satellite Technology) Robert Duncan(Project:Soul Catcher Vol 2) and Colin Ross(The CIA Doctors: Human Rights Violation by American Psychiatrists).

    I was contacted by one of the groups of targeted individuals after I did a radio show: Freedom from Covert Harassment and Surveillance.
    A large percentage of the members are black. Their agenda is not reactionary. To the contrary they are one of the few groups who do not believe the propaganda of “the war on terrorism.”

    Meremortal I don’t know what the government intends to do with this technology. I only know they are obsessed with surveillance and control and that the US is becoming a giant Panopticon.It’s beyond
    Foucault’s imagination.
    And I know the government does use the American population as guinea pigs to test out this new technology. They did it during MK-Ultra. The involuntary administration of dangerous substances to members of the American public particularly those in the military without their knowledge is as American as apple pie.

    Targeted person probably constitute only a small percentage of those who are psychiatrically labeled but do you really believe the official story about James Holmes(the Batman shooter) and Adam Lanza?

    You write,”we dont need this crap to effectively call out the BS of the mainstream discourse on mental illness” as if “what we need” was the relevant criteria. It is true that many people would not be able to accept this. But the relevant criteria is what is true. And it is true that there may be up to half a million person who are subjected to mind control experiments.
    Seth Farber, PhD.

  • DK,As a dissident psychologist and critic of psychiatric drugs I agree with you. Breggin, Healy and Dr Tracy Blake have nailed the SSRIs. However the evidence here was scant –and I’d be more suspicious if the drug were a genuine SSRI. However after speaking against Psychiatry on a radio show I was contacted a few weeks by victims of government mind control. I thought MK-Ultra had ended long ago
    but it hasn’t–or it has in name only. It is not mentioned in the anti-psychiatric community but this case is remarkable. Alexis clearly believed
    he was a victim of government mind control technology which is far more developed than most people are aware. Here are the facts as presented by a knowledgeable journalist
    Here is URL for group:
    I thought the previous two cases in Colorado were suspicious anyway but I was not aware of the technology.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Hi Duane, I was looking over this(I read it over a week ago) and noticed this.
    What many studies show is that advanced training, higher education is of no value. You’re not familiar with this. Robyn Dawes makes argument for evidence-based treatment and goes over the data in House of Cards–as I recall it was published in late 1990s. These studies overestimate the relative advantage of psychologists and psychiatrists because the subjects are not those against whom professionals are most biased–“psychotics.” The classic study compared depressed college students who went to professionals with years of experience to control who went to English professors posing as professionals. Both groups improved –but to the same extent. Thus the entire training/higher education process is a waste of time. As stated these studies were done quite awhile ago and thus did not involve use of drugs–inconceivable today. So at its best therapy is merely purchase of friendship.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • You critique MIA for supposedly misreading the summary of the article.You claim that MIA readers have a “hear what you want to hear mentality.” The evidence does not support that claim. I wonder if some people have a tendency to overlook ambivalence, ambiguity and self-deception–common today among mainstream psychiatrists. Does that explain why you failed to see that Chrys’ summary right about your was correct?
    Chrys wrote:”.. the article on one hand seems to be saying that schizophrenia exists and is because of brain damage, on the other hand too much anti-psychotics also can cause brain damage.” She did not hear what she wanted to hear. She got the ambivalence of the article.But all of the MIA readers above your comment got it exactly right, and made trenchant criticisms.

    While you accurately summarized what the article “actually says” you inaccurately denied Andreasen’s admission.Bob explains below WHY it is important.

    The summary of the article could not have been clearer: “The researchers also analyzed the effect of medication on the brain tissue. Although results were not the same for every patient, the group found that in general, the higher the anti-psychotic medication doses, the greater the loss of brain tissue.”
    If you doubt your own eyes, the next sentences confirms it
    “This was a very upsetting finding. We spent a couple of years analyzing the data more or less hoping we had made a mistake. But in the end, it was a solid finding that wasn’t going to go away, so we decided to go ahead and publish it.” It is revealing of the turpitude of the profession that Andreasen considered not publishing it!

    Ambivalence, ambiguity,and a willingness to mislead clients–for their own good of course.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I looked up your article
    at Frontiers in Psychology:
    and it’s not there. It says “Article Not Found.” I tried googling with your name and the above URL DOES come up but when I click on it, again I get “Article not Found.”

    This is a very good article–above–but there are important omissions.The most important omission is the tendency of SSRIs to cause manic states. This is a major theme in Bob Whitaker’s last book. THis is significant because about 20%
    of youth put on SSRIs will become manic. Then they will be diagnosed as bipolar with no awareness or willingness of the psychiatrist to acknowledge that the problem is caused by SSRIs. So now you have millions of person labeled bipolars. That is a gateway to hell–a lifetime on cocktails of psychiatric drugs and the assurance by the shrinks that the patient has an illness for which there is no cure.

    If you read the work of Ann Blake Tracy (Prozac:Placebo or Pandora),Peter Breggin (he has several on this topic but Medication Madness is very powerful) or David Healy (Let them Eat Prozac) you’ll find SSRIs are even greater risks than you state. Quite a few people become violently deranged on this class of drug. People with no history of violent behavior commit bizarre kinds of homicide: They will murder their spouse or children or parents.They will shoot innocent persons with whom they have no history of rancorous relationships. These are puzzling and inexplicable crimes because they appear to lack sufficient motive.Nor are they committed by violent or anti-social individuals. THOSE kind of crimes are unfortunately common enough and do not require SSRIs to trigger them. The jealous boyfriend whose woman is cheating on him, the serial killer etc. THe SSRI crimes effect a Jekyl and Hyde personality transformation. If you read about a mother who kills her own children or an adult male who shoots his wife and elderly parents the odds are above 95% they are taking an SSRI or have just stopped taking one. Dr Tracy (whose FB page I recommend) says that over 99% of the school shooters were on SSRIs.In the above book by Breggin
    he describes many persons whom he saved from life without parole prison sentences by testifying as an expert witness. David Healy compiled a long list of crimes of this nature–and posted it online.(You’ll have to search–try his website.) Although this is not common it has resulted in many tragedies and thousands of death. Also a significant percentage of people with no history of suicidal behavior engage in suicidal acts, or suicide. The drug companies went to considerable lengths to conceal this but as you know after resisting for years eventually the FDA placed a black box warning for suicide on SSRIs–although unreasonably only for youth under 24.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • N.I.
    Thanks for your comments.
    My point when I used the word addicted was that many “patients” could not get off the drug without great difficulty if at all because they had been on them so long their body was habituated to them. For many, like you, it was not practical to even try. Most shrinks are quick to tell any patient who tries to taper and begins to experience adverse effects that their “illness” is coming back. I understand Sandy would not do that but my impression however is that she treats neuroleptics like any other drug– or “medications” as the shrinks all call them. Your observations bolster my argument that neuroleptics are NOT like any other drug, and psychiatrists should never get patients started on them. I cannot help but wonder if Sandy is still unconsciously influenced by the dogma–drilled in every mental health professional’s mind– that “psychotics” need neuroleptics, i.e., “anti-psychotics.” In 1993 the APA published their task force report on tardive dyskinesia. They acknowledged that about 65% of those who took neuroleptics for over 25 years had tardive dyskinesia. They described the devastating effects of TD but insisted that “anti-psychotics” were the treatment of choice for “schizophrenia” a supposedly dreadful disease so patients had no choice but to accept TD–a disease with symptoms like Parkinsons.
    Neuroleptics are not like any other drug. As David Cohen (who co-authored a book withy Peter Breggin) wrote in an essay(review of Exstential Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol23, Special Issue):”[N]euroleptics gained favor in 1950s psychiatry because they stupefied agitated inmates of mental hospitals as well as or better than existing treatments.” David shows
    that shrinks were looking for a drug that produced a “parkinisoniform state.” This had the unique advantage of making hospitalized “schizophrenics” easy to control. By the end of the 1950s it was accepted by most psychiatrists that in the words of one, “Agents having very few..toxic effects are without action in the psychoses. Their ability to induce an extrapyramidal action is a sine qua non of therapeutic effectiveness.” Living with a disfiguring and disabling movement disorder was considered necessary by the APA in the 90s–and still is. If less “patients” are afflicted by TD today it is because they are on lower dosages–not because atypical neuroleptics do not cause TD and other syndromes.

    By the 1960s there was a consensus among psychiatrists that neuroleptics were the treatment of choice for psychotics. Would it not be a coincidence that drugs that were originally valued because they produced a pathological brain state so severe that it made neglected patients in hellish institutions docile actually had unique properties that were good for “psychotics.”? Yes, too much of a coincidence. These drugs are used because psychiatrists have never come to terms with their own history, because most of them do not know what was the difference between psychiatric treatment in the 19th century and in the 20th century. The previous treatment were based on an assault on the body, eg dunking patient in freezing water, putting them in revolving chair. The 20th century treatments were based on attacking the brain directly–ECT,lobotomies, neuroleptics.The 21st century has not changed.

    My impression is that Sandra takes an agnostic approach toward neuroleptics. She regards it as one drug among many, with advantages and disadvantages and she allows her patients to make their own decision. But my point is that putting a patient on neuroleptics who is not addicted to neuroleptics(for example a first or second break “psychotic”) is setting her on a course from which there may be no turning back. Every subsequent shrink she sees will continue the treatment convinced by her drug history itself that she is a psychotic. Simply the fact that she is on neuroleptics will be taken as evidence that she has a severe chronic psychosis.

    I have been interacting with “schizophrenics” for years. Many get off the drugs right away and
    as the activists in the movement show they are among the most creative, aware and socially responsible persons in their communities. I do not believe neuroleptics have any distinctive advantages for someone undergoing “psychosis.” People who are “schizophrenics” are distinctive persons. Their left-brain traits may be less developed than their right-brained. As Laing and Perry have argued a “schizophrenic” episode may be a healing process, if allowed to run its course– it is also a death/rebirth experience characterized in its initial phases by a liminal state, of confusion, of suspension of the cognitive schemata that order experience. This is followed by a rebirth.If a patient is in a state of anxiety or panic it is humane to offer them a “minor tranquilizer.” There is no justification (except in highly exceptional circumstances) for giving a so-called schizophrenics (who has not been taking neuroleptics for years) neuroleptics. These are poisons with no therapeutic value. Psychiatrists who use them are usually I think unaware of their history–they think they have unique “anti-psychotic” properties. Or they think they are like any other “medication.” Or they are unaware that giving them neuroleptics may convince them that they are chronic psychotics. Psychiatrists iuntroduced these neuro-toxic brain diabling poisons into the “mental health” field. They should take responsibility for phasing these poisons out of existence, along with the lobotomy and with electroshock which has made a come-back.

    Seth Farber,Ph.D.

  • Powerful beautiful piece again. The system seems even worse than when i was working in it before I became a renegade psychologist in 1988. AS I read this I see it clearly, described by you Laura with such lucidity. This is where it leads—the disempowerment of the self, the stripping away of subjectivity,of creativity, potency, identity, of autonomy, the transformation of the self which initiates into a process, a bundle of symptoms, a cipher. The drugging into obliviousness. And the constant repetition by the System of the invalidation of the self, the reduction of the self to a victim, always acted UPON, never the actor … Yet the longing never extinguished to recover the lost self, to act again even if the only act left is the final rebellion against the divesture of your being leading to annihilation….reduced to a vegetable ministered to by caretakers, custodians who kept your body alive, your soul a ghost…Invalidated you hoped to reclaim your self in that final authentic act, having been robbed of all authenticity…This constant pain of the awareness of what had been taken from you testifying to “the profound realization of how much I actually yearned to live.” The psychiatric invalidation of all subjectivity leaving you no way to ACT but to extinquish the shell of the self. This then is the logic of psychiatry, the only way to escape from its hall of mirrors, to recover your dignity, to ACT: the literal negation of the body/self. But it led back to the same cycle. It was only a dress rehearsal while you awaited that strange moment of destiny, confronting a book of facts and figures that turned out to be an epiphany freeing you from your false self and leading to a rebirth “So what do you say about all those people out there who want to kill themselves right now, in this moment?” To me the answer seems like common sense. “Humanity is destroying itself, destroying nature. We need your help.”
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I am sympathetic with MJK’s point.Not that neuroleptics are not effective in some ways in the short run but that there are always psychological factors that explain why they are helpful to some people, and not to others. As a dissident psychologist I am often criticized in more drug friendly arenas of the Mad movement than MIA because in my recent book I violate what has become a sacred taboo in The Icarus Project: No one has the right to doubt that each patient knows best what drugs are best for her. I argue that all patients would be best if they stayed off “anti-psychotics”
    This purpose of this taboo was not merely to discourage pro-drug doctors from pushing drugs but to discourage radical psychiatric survivors from disparaging drug-using patients or from implying that the latter were being misled. This became the postmodernist pluralist dogma.

    But it is a proscription not an epistemological insight–if it were, there could be no placebo effect. (Most patients who think they are benefiting from SSRIs are experiencing the placebo effect.)When I made this argument in my recent book many in Icarus Project were angry–the fact that I was not a survivor only aggrandized the anger at me. That did not stop me. I was not going to encourage any so called patient to take neuroleptics even subtly by acknowledging that ANYone benefitted from neuroleptics in the long run.AT TIP that IS done.

    There were many risks of neuroleptics–many of them are discussed in Bob’s books . I’ll add here another one implied by MJK I think–the internalization of the medical model. I consider it my moral obligation as a dissident psychologist to discourage patients from taking “anti-psychotic” drugs unless they are already addicted. I was using a Moncreiff drug centered approach to argue against neuroleptics for years, in the 1990s. I had not read Moncrieff in the 1990s– I don’t know when she developed her drug centered approach.

    My reasoning was that patients like non- patients did not suffer from mental illness but they did suffer from fear, terror and despair. But having witnessed the horrendous effect of neuroleptics–from tardive dsykinesia to emotional blunting (eloquently described by NI above) I could see no reason why a patient who was not indoctrinated would voluntarily take neuroleptics which were compared to
    chemical lobotomies by their psychiatrist promoters when they were first introduced in the 1950s.
    In the first place the “mental patient” who take “anti-psychotics,” too readily draws the conclusions from the temporary relief provided by the drug that she does indeed have a psychotic “illness.” She lives in a culture in which she has heard this since childhood—and is unlikely to have heard of the critics of the medical model. Even the very intellectually gifted leaders of Icarus had not read Szasz or Breggin when I interviewed them in 2009. Sascha DuBrul refused to read them although he devoured Kay Jamison. Why?
    I was not able to figure out Sascha’s ambivalence about psychiatric drugs and their critics(I did not have enough information about his personal life) although I tried thus violating the pluralist taboo, and eliciting the anger on many TIPers. (Except for Sascha who does not take criticism personally) NI and Sandra agree that neuroleptics may be helpful because they make patients feel less intensely. NI gives a very insightful non-medical account of why patients sometimes find neuroleptics helpful in the short run, despite its tremendous emotional cost. Sanda agrees.
    But again I do not think this justifies the non-medicalist (dissident)psychiatrist’s use of neuroleptics,except as agents of last resort.I do not think any “professional” should make it easy for “patients” to use neuroleptics. They are much worse than most illegal recreational drugs, let alone medicinal marijuana.

    Neither NI nor Sandra mention any of Breggin’s books. I changed my naive position on drugs after reading Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brains and became blacklisted in the public sector just 5 years after getting my PhD. Neuroleptics were hailed when they first came out precisely because they made patients apathetic–and ward management easier.

    But neither can we dismiss the placebo effect. MJK is right.
    The placebo effect means a patient improves because a drug produces an expectation of improvement. (BTW MJK’s statistics for placebo effect are much too low; they are far lower that the definitive analysis by Irving Kirsch. In fact MJK placebos are arguably AS effective as anti-depressants.) It has been shown that placebo are more effective if the patients has a positive relationship with the psychiatrist dispensing the placebo. As written in No More Diagnoses “ having a good relationship with the prescribing doctor is a stronger predictor of a positive response to an ‘anti-depressant’ than just taking the drug regardless of who prescribes it.” I have observed that this is also true of neuroleptics.This confirms MJK point.

    In spite of the harmful and painful side effects many patients trusted the psychiatrists. But, e.g., making a patient more apathetic about her voices is one way of reducing the fear evoked by hearing a voice in a secular society. Giving her a “minor tranquilizer” is another. The latter has many advantages. En-couraging someone is better than making them too dull to care.

    Sandra writes: “I will post the results of two years of tapering neuroleptics. About 40% of people choose to stop tapering. The reasons vary. Some people do hear more voices and do not like that. Some people find that they have delusional thoughts and they do not like that. Some people just get frightened about having a recurrence of experiences that they did not like. I can say that they are making these decisions with a psychiatrist who is very supportive of tapering.” But can you say Sandra they have not interpreted the voices or delusional thoughts as symptoms of mental illness? Can you say they are making these decisions in a society and in a setting where altered states of consciousness are not discouraged? Can you say these patients did not choose to stop tapering because they feared heir illnesses were “returning”? Did you assure them there illneses were NOT returning? Or did you take an agnostic position? But we do not live in an agnostic culture. Did you ask the kind of questions to the patients that I am asking now?

    I raise this as rhetorical question–I don’t expect you to answer it until you publish your experiment. Even if you did not do this at least you offered some patients the option of getting off the drugs. But my point is not intended as a personal criticism but as a commentary on the System. I would argue despite your good intentions if you treat neuroleptics as legitimate treatments rather than poisons you reinforce the medical model. .

    I would like to see this studied with some methodological rigor and with double bind. My own observations is that there is an interaction between the effects of the drugs and the patients’ world views. Yet I have not seen any studies of this. For example take a patient who has been reading Peter Breggin and Bob Whitaker
    and give her neuroleptics. I predict the drugs will have a more deleterious effect upon her than someone who had no exposure to psychiatric critics.We know from the recent studies you cited that patients not on neuroleptrics are going to do better in the long run. Throw in Peter Breggin and Bob Whitaker 101—and accounts by people like Laura Delano– and I predict these patients will get better quicker. This is not purely hypothetical: in the late 1980s and 1990s thousands of patients were reading Peter Breggin. Would David Oaks have had no episodes after his breakdown if he had not become a student of Peter Breggin’s work? It did not take 7-15 years for him to recover. Is that a coincidence?. I would hypothesize that those former patients in the movement who read Breggin got better sooner than those I interviewed who were not familiar with Breggin or Szasz or Laing.

    Obviously there are some former patients who would have rejected Breggin’s work. They joined NAMI, or became consumers.. One of the variables is a receptivity to the critics of the system. Some patients were by nature more rebellious than others. For example David Oaks had been a long time activist before his breakdown at Harvard. My theory is that reading anti-psychiatric theories will greatly accelerate the speed of recovery. I did not have enough information to explain in my book why Sascha DuBrul felt neuroleptics helped him but I do know he would not read Peter Breggin–although I kept urging him (2007–9) to do so.

    Panic is a common symptom of “psychosis”–that is it often accompanies voices or other unusual experiences. We know that in the few experiments done Valium was as effective as neuroleptics in sedating “psychotics.” Why? What is it we want to accomplish?. In my recent book I interviewed 7 former patients. Paul Levy and Ed Whitney agreed with me that what the shrink calls bipolar or schizophrenia is often a spiritual awakening. (I would argue it is never a disease.) Let’s say the patient is having a distressing hallucination. If we give a patient a Xanax –or a glass of wine (as Henry Stack Sullivan did in the 1940s) –you might mitigate the fear without producing a state of apathy. More than apathy the shrinks hailed Thorazine when it was discovered in 1956 because it produced a state of “emotional indifference.” Patients were described as acting and feeling like “zombies.” Benzodiazapines do not produce that effect. Shrinks had rationalizations for avoiding benzos. Is it because benzos are more addictive or simply more pleasurable? The withdrawal effects of neuroleptics are no less intense than those benzos that have a longer half life, but the latter do not produce the same emotional indifference, or the other pernicious side effects.)The ingestion of a neuroleptic in a psych ward is a medical ritual that convinces the patient she has a medical problem.
    But assume as I do that for example the voice hearing patient is not suffering from an illness. But she may be very frightened. If the psychiatrist gives the patient a Xanax or a Klonapin the former is implicitly defining the problem as anxiety–she is underrming the medical model. She is giving the patient a drug which “mentally healthy” people use to take the edge off (unless they are addicts).Bruce Levine argues that cocaine and SSRIs are equally effective in the short run for despair––he disputes that either are helpful in the long run. My point is we are dealing with propaganda in the one case—“anti-psychotics” or “anti-depressants.
    You are going to tell me that benzos are not without risks. Yes if the patients has a tendency to use drugs excessively Valium may indeed be more dangerous. But my point is that psychiatrists like yourself Sandra should use neuroleptics as a last resort and prescribe them with the same trepidation with which you would prescribe morphine.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Many patients are chain smokers–they are compensating for the brain deadening effect of the neuroleptics. Torrey has ruined his sister’s life, like Joe Kennedy did to Rosemary–forced to undergo a lobotomy because Joe did not approve of her having affairs. Later the family lied and claimed she was retarded..
    Michael, I agree these are degradation ceremonies. But for the shrinks it is just the opposite. Since their origins psychiatrists have sought to legitimize their own theory and praxis precisely by seeking to appear as much like real doctors as possible. They have had to compensate for the suspicion that they are not real doctors, like cardiologists or internists or proctologists. The diagnosis ritual does not require legitimization.It
    is one of the primary ways by which psychiatrists have legitimized themselves–by adopting a procedure integral to every other medical specialty. One might say that the very same ceremony that degrades the patient legitimizes the shrinks. What is a degradation ceremony for the patient is a legitimation ceremony for the shrinks–for her self esteem, but more importantly because it gives her credibility in the public eye. I think it would be hard to overestimate how many psychiatric practices over the years were adopted because on the surface they had all the markings of a medical procedure. Thomas Szasz deserves credit for documenting this. This was true of electroshock treatment as well as the lobotomy and today psychiatric drugs, and it one reason why mental health professionals cling to the medical model and resist what several of the bloggers here called the demedicalization of misery. One might add the demedicalization of deviance, including prophetic and mystical experiences in a secular society.
    I don’t think Torrey does much to legitimize anyone.He is such a crackpot even the APA regards him as an embarrassment. His cat phobia is nothing compared to his “brain bank.” You know don’t you that for decades he has been collecting the brains of “schizophrenics”? I read somewhere that he often carries some of these brains around with him in a glass jar so he can study them. Perhaps he takes them to the beach with him when he goes on vacation,as a substitute for “summer reading.” I like to imagine him sneaking around cemeteries looking for the brains of famous “schizophrenics.” He thinks of course he will discover the cause of so-called schizophrenia.
    Although I think he’s viewed as an embarrassment rather than a credit to many shrinks Ithink you’re right though when you say, “Follow the money.” He has been instrumental in passing out-patient commitment laws (forced drugging) all over the country. .And he has been instrumental in the expansion of NAMI which has opened up all kinds of markets to the drug companies.All this creates more markets and ultimately brings billions of dollars to the drug companies
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Torrey started out as a student of Thomas Szasz. The influence was strong–one could have aptly described Torrey
    as a Szaszian. (His book critiquing Freud was fairly good also, despite its neo-con bias against “liberals.”) I don’t know why Torrey changed. Was putting his so called schizophrenic sister away in a custodial institution for good cause
    or effect of the change.Once he became an apostle of bio-psychiatry he DID draw a distinction between “the worried well” and the truly “mentally ill” whose thoughts and actions he regarded with “the same importance of those of a circus clown.” Another sad case of a man who betrayed the ideals of his youth..
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I never got around to reading Garfinkle, Michael. Very powerful it seems. The father of labeling theory was not Goffman–although Asylums was a classic–but Thomas Scheff. In The Politics of Experience Laing proposed replacing degradation ceremonials with “initiation ceremonials.” But what takes place in Psychiatry is one iteration of a process that occurs in different social contexts although Laing said it was most thorough and most dehumanizing in the psychiatric context. Szasz has a great term for it–“existential cannabalism” in which the professional enhances his status by destroying the meaning other people give to their lives. This was in The Manufacture of Madness in which Szasz compared Psychiatry to the persecution of “witches.”
    I have to agree with JW, because it’s plain cannabalism
    these days, and it is not just with kids. People are destroyed by the psych drugs. And of course we see the same things all over. Now that war is becoming permanent we realize that many Americans live or flourish financially through the destruction of others. Very little is productive anymore.Most groups profits from the destruction of other people.
    But I think identity degradation might be the foundation of it all..
    “It will be treated here as axiomatic that there is no society whose social structure does not provide in its routine features, the conditions of identity degradation.”- says Garfinkel. Once we question that, we have to question who and what are we. If we think we are merely bundles of physio-chemical processes, or machines, or organisms ruled by chance and pushed by biology to compete for survival in the rat race, does it matter? Unless we answer the basic theological question in a cogent manner we have no basis to answer the individual’s identity question in a more ennobling manner than the shrink, although one need not be as brutal. If you think
    that there is no intrinsic worth to human existence then you might be kinder to the “patient” but you will still look at her struggles as worthless.Your own soul will be haunted by the specter of the void–although if you are a mental health professional you very likely have never even wrestled with that question. To do so would be interpreted as a sign of psychopathology.Laing pointed out many shrinks thought Kierkegaard was “psychotic.”
    In the Abrahamic tradition
    the human is created in the image of God. In Hinduism the individual soul IS God. These are symbols but they reflect a perspective on human existence that is antithetical to those
    who believe that the most the most the “patient” can accomplish is to cope, or if she is very lucky to “recover” from “mental illness,” and to adjust,and join the rat race.
    From the mystic’s perspective until one realizes one’s authentic divine nature–one’s ultimate worth– one is merely living in Ignorance.Most mad people I’ve met have seen– or see– through the crack in the cosmic egg–and thus they intuit that psychiatric labels are tokens of delusion. Most shrinks have adjusted to the consensually validated delusional system. How to wake them up is a problem– one that the mad have not yet solved.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Clarification:
    I refer to the Times article to which NI thoughtfully provided URL above.
    BTW thanks I missed that article first time around. The Times does provide decent critical coverage of psychiatry, even though it makes often assumes the medical model.
    It might have stressed a bit more that these changes will not lead to changes since the penalty is cost of doing business–it did mention this.
    They are killing old people too I might mention, Donna. THe 5 at 5 was macabre. I finally ordered the book you keep recommending Donna. That may explain the Biedermans but there are so many people involved at least by virtue of their silence. How many people have a fraction of the courage of a Manning or a Snowden? It’s safer to give the old lady her Zyprexa even if she does drop dead sooner–safer for the nurse who has kids to feed

  • I have no idea what the title at the top or the abstract means–what was the treatment? There does not seem to have been any.The headline sounds like a tautology.
    What is so called schizophrenia apart from the “negative symptoms” and functional “impairment.”? I don’t regard psychosis as a disease anyway. I view it as a developmental crisis triggered by difficulty negotiating phase in life-cycle. Like Laing/Perry I hold it could be a healing process. But does anyone know what the article purports to say?
    The Times article is superb. Everyone should read it/Unfortunately the NYT coverage of foreign policy does not meet this standard. Thus one had to turn to the foreign or alternative press to understand that Obama is trying to mislead Americans into another war. (There is plenty of evidence–omitted from the NY Times— that Assad did not use these weapons, which is exactly what common sense ought to lead one to expect.)
    There is one major false premise in Times article. It is implied that if FDA approves the use of a drug for a specific group
    there is no problem.But of course neuroleptics ought never to have been sanctioned–at least not for long term use. The APA has argued for years that although 65% of >20 year users of “anti-psychotics” will get TD, it is worth the cost. We have evidence that such a claim is spurious.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I always felt the work of Laing and Szasz complemented each other. (I’m glad Joanna you are also affirming the value of Laing’s work–your description are I think accurate and moving.) Not only did do I feel that way but they were constantly classed together in the 60s and 70s, and that was appropriate. It is unfortunate that Szasz chose in 2005 or so to write a book declaring Laing worthless.

    Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book published in 1993, Madness, Heresy and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt against the Mental Health System.. Ron Leifer encouraged Tom to do this. This book has an obvious Laingian influence. AT that time-a few years after Laing’s death–Szasz’s feelings against Laing had mellowed. But his acrimony returned by the time he wrote the unfortunate anti-Laing book. Tom’s intolerance for certain perspective foreign to his own showed a lack of humility. Of course one could say Tom was a genius in his own right and actually quite humble as a person, but evidently there was a philosophical arrogance.
    I don’t think it is quite right to say neo-liberals veer toward Szasz. You know the neo-conservatives hated Szasz as well as Laing. Szasz was of course a Libertarian, but that is different than a neo-liberal. I stand by what I wrote about Tom above in a previous post: He was tolerant of but he did not have Laing’s appreciation for the “schizophrenic” sensibility.Unfortunately Szasz was not tolerant of Laing–except for that brief time after Laing’s death. Tom was an atheist. Laing was a mystic. That to me was the most relevant distinction. It is why I personally had more resonance with Laing. Tom’s most spiritual book was The Manufacture of Madness.

  • Anonymous
    My last statement was about Szasz. I don’t understand your complain I called you a victim. When? Where? I was already penalized for making personal comments so I am being careful not to do that. I don’t recall. And you don’t quote me—I have about 8 post here, most defending R D Laing.
    I don’t understand how you can so casually dismiss
    the various threats we face. If you do not believe in msn-made g.w., there are enough other threat–productds of a totalitarian plutocratic society. I do not remember EVER saying or thinkng you acted like a victim.

  • Yes he did, but he has stated on several occasions in his polemic against Laing that there was nothing mystical or poetic about the schizophrenic, that she was just an ordinary person who was malingering or acting in bad faith. I ‘d have to search but on a couple occasions Szasz is himself explicitly denigrating. Another alternative to the illness model was presented not only by Laing but by John Weir Perry and by Anton Boisen and others. The “psychotic” was experiencing a spiritual crisis. Without invoking a developmental model the alternative to an illness model was that the “psychotic” was just putting on an act. This was one reason Szasz excoriated Laing for opening up an alternative asylum for persons in extreme states. Anyone with any Romantic tendencies could not fail to be struck by the poetic and poignant way the mad person used language to communicate. But Szasz finds nothing exceptional in the “schizophrenics” whose cause he champions. Missing in Szasz’s work is any sense of the extraordinaryly poetic sensibility of the schizophrenic Other.In fact Szasz never writes about his own experience of the Other who play such a pivotal role in his work. The Other is purely an object or member of the collective object of oppression. There is no positive content to her identity. This is a major omission in Szasz’s work, in the same way as the political dimension is not fully articulated in Laing.

    But Laing at least acknowledged a debt to Szasz and reached out to make common cause with him. On the one occasion he picked Szasz to comment on one of his talks, Szasz dismissively commented that after sitting through Laing’s talk he had a sense what it was like to be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. Yet as I’ve stated Laing’s work complemented Szasz’s. Although not a systematic thinker Laing brought brilliant insights to the understanding and appreciation of the poetry and genius of the madness. It took the genius of R D Laing to illuminate to the 1960s generation the genius of the Mad.

    Szasz accused Laing of unconsciously assimilating the medical model but it was Laing, ironically the quasi-socialist, not Szasz the capitalist individualist who appreciated the subjectivity of the mad, who rescued her from the anonymity of the collectivity. Considering the non–person status to which the mad were relegated Laing’s recovery of their subjectivity was no mean feat. It was Laing who in the tradition of Artaud demonstrated how the mad person became a spokesperson for the Great Refusal, to use Marcuse’s term for the Western tradition of Romantic art. Over and over Laing would reproduce the very words of the mad person and showed how in the language of poetry, of dreams, she mounted a critique on the banality and violence of everyday life.

    For example in Laing’s first and worst book The Divided Self,, a traditional medical model account, he already demonstrated how the “patient,” excoriated the psychiatric degradation ritual. Szasz never analyzed the communications of the IP, and it was Szasz who failed to see there was something other than bad faith at work in these communications.

    The example is taken from the work of the German psychiatrist, Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926), who pioneered the classification of mental disorder on the basis of thousands of case studies.] Here is Kraepelin’s (1905) account to a lecture-room of his students of a patient showing the signs of catatonic excitement:

    “The patient I will show you today has almost to be carried into the rooms, as he walks in a straddling fashion on the outside of his feet. On coming in, he throws off his slippers, sings a hymn loudly, and then cries twice (in English), `My father, my real father!’ He is eighteen years old, and a pupil of the Oberrealschule (higher-grade modern-side school), tall, and rather strongly built, but with a pale complexion, on which there is often a transient flush. The patient sits with his eyes shut, and pays no attention to his surroundings. He does not look up even when he is spoken to, but he answers beginning in a low voice, and gradually screaming louder and louder. When asked where he is, he says, `You want to know that too? I tell you who is being measured and is measured and shall be measured. I know all that, and could tell you, but I do not want to.’ When asked his name, he screams, `What is your name? What does he shut? He shuts his eyes. What does he hear? He does not understand; he understands not. How? Who? Where? When? What does he mean? When I tell him to look he does not look properly. You there, just look! What is it? Why do you give me no answer? Are you getting impudent again? How can you be so impudent? I’m coming! I’ll show you! You don’t whore for me. You mustn’t be smart either; you’re an impudent, lousy fellow, such an impudent, lousy fellow I’ve never met with. Is he beginning again? You understand nothing at all, nothing at all; nothing at all does he understand. If you follow now, he won’t follow, will not follow. Are you getting still more impudent? Are you getting impudent still more? How they attend, they do attend,’ and so on. At the end, he scolds in quite inarticulate sounds.”

    Kraepelin notes here among other things the patient’s `inaccessibility’:
    “Although he undoubtedly understands all the questions, he has not given us a single piece of useful information. His talk was … only a series of disconnected sentences having no relation whatever to the general situation.” (pp 29-30)

    Laing disagrees. He thinks that Kraepelin’s own approach is shaping his vision in a specific way, and that there is another, better approach. “Now it seems clear that this patient’s behaviour can be seen in at least two ways … One may see his behaviour as `signs’ of a `disease’; one may see his behaviour as expressive of his existence. . What is the boy’s experience of Kraepelin? He seems to be tormented and desperate. What is he `about’ in speaking and acting in this way? He is objecting to being measured and tested. He wants to be heard.” (pp 30-31)

    “Kraepelin asks about his name. the patient replies by an exasperated outburst in which he is now saying what he feels is the attitude implicit in Kraepelin’s approach to him: What is your name? What does he shut? He shuts his eyes. … Why do you give me no answer? Are you getting impudent again? You don’t whore for me? (i.e. he feels that Kraepelin is objecting because he is not prepared to prostitute himself before the whole classroom of students), and so on.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Thanks for testifying. MY own claims that Laing empowered many labeled “schizophrenics” are second hand and thus don’t carry much weight.It is painful to me to hear Laing’s work denigrated and Laing vilified as if Laing was on the side of the establishment, as if he was drugging people and locking them up–al based on rumor and Laing’s vexed and abusive relationship with Clancy Sigal, and on Szasz book on Laing. Although Szasz wrote the Foreword to my 1993 book and I was very influenced by his work, it is important that the record be set straight. Szasz trashed Laing’s work but was oblivious to his own blind spots. Szasz stood up for the outsider, he had a profound belief in American constitutional democracy. But his effort to write Laing out of the movement was misguided.

    The book Szasz wrote on anti-psychiatry is completely misleading. One reason Szasz did not appreciate Laing’s contribution on behalf of the mad is Szasz did not understand and frankly did not like mad people. For example, he called them malingerers, he accused them of self-deception, he felt disdain for their spirituality, he did not approve of their taking money from the government. Some of Szasz’scriticisms may be accurate. But they are not balanced by an appreciation for the particular assets of the mad. Laing on the other hand was awed and humbled by the genius of the mad.On the other hand it is to Szasz’s credit that he was able to passionately and eloquently defend the rights of a group of people for whom he felt no particular affinity.

    The work of Szasz and Laing fit together like a gestalt–they complemented each other. Laing dialogues with mad persons–some were recorded– demonstrated that Laing intuitively understood the mad. He liked them and they took to him right away. Szasz did not understand the mad and he did not understand Laing. The book he wrote about Laing in 2005, 15 years after Laing’s death was cruel and obtuse albeit witty–he did “get” Laing. It would be like reading a book by Richard Dawkins on the Kabbalah or the Theosopical movement. He would not understand. Peter Breggin had been a student of Szasz but Szasz would have nothing to do with him EITHER because at some point his ideas diverged from Szasz. They were all in the same anti-medical model camp. Part of the problem was Szasz did not approve of Laing’s efforts to get funding for non-coercive asylums. Szasz was opposed to any government funding for Libertarian reasons/.

    Those who did not know the scoop assumed Szasz and Laing were in the same camp against the establishment. They were, and they each deserve their place in history. They each should be read by every person in the mad movement or survivors’ movement today. They each made an invaluable contribution–like it or not they were on the same side.

    See my article Szasz and Beyond: The Spiritual Promise of the Mad Pride Movement

  • Hi Chrys,
    I’d like to hear to hear about your Damascus Road experience. You mention it but don’t explicate.
    “Although I do believe it changed the
    world I don’t agree with you as to how the change came about, similarly with the
    concept of the Kingdom of God.”
    You disagree with me but do not say
    how, why etc. You only mention Paul. Paul is generally credited with the expansion of Christianity which soon was abandoned by the Jews. But even if that is untrue my by modern psychiatric criteria point was a person who was “schizophrenic” was highly functional and had a major effect upon the world. I was using that as an illustration of the potential of these kind of unusual spiritual experiences.

  • Anonymous
    writes, “On a scale of 1 to 10,000 in usefulness and insight into the states of mind that get called ‘mental illness’ I rate Laing a 3 and Szasz a 9100.”

    How much have you read by Laing? BTW Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book. Most of the people I know who were so called schizophrenics believed Laing had more insight into their state of mind. For those who have not read Laing, Laing stated in The Politics of Experience that schizophrenics deserved to be treated with reverence as explorers of the “inner world.” Although Laing abandoned some of the central ideas in PE, he retained the idea that the mad had a special insight into the spiritual dimension of life. He also believed they were very interpersonally aware.

    Tom on the other hand felt “schizophrenics” were very “ordinary” people.He did not appreciate their assets. While in the 60s-80s he seemed to have compassion for them he increasingly regarded them as malingerers and people who would not face the facts about their lives. That’s not to say he did not passionately defend their rights. But I was alienated by Tom’s growing disdain for the mad and his inability to see that they were gifted.

    So Anonymous let me make a guess about you. I already know you were a victim/survivor of Psychiatry. My guess is that you were not labeled schizophrenic. I think had you been put in THAT box–and if you had the schizophrenic sensibility–you would have more resonance with Laing and more respect for him. And you would also be a little more reserved about Tom. Am I right? Maybe you don’t want to say. I don’t know the label you had but not that one. Maybe depression..

    It is also clear you are not sympathetic to Laing’s mystical/spiritual sensibility.
    You are probably an atheist. And a rationalist/ And a libertarian. So you start off with a bias toward Szasz.

    Furthermore you seem unaware of or indifferent to Laing’s life-long commitment to opening up safe non-coercive asylums for “schizophrenics.” He started the Philadelphia Association for that purpose. You keep saying Laing forced- drugged people but except for the exceptional case of Sigal, there is no evidence of that. Even his son Adrian who did not like him admitted Laing was very compassionate to mad persons.

    Tom’s positions were sometimes heartless and they grew increasingly so as he got older. You say, “Szasz was in favor of ‘adult orphanages’ so he was not opposed to any voluntarily organized place for overwhelmed people with extreme problems in living to go.” Big deal. Laing was in favor as were Mosher and Breggin of state funding for alternative asylums. Tom’s position was that “schizophrenics” were not sick and therefore were not in need of treatment or entitled to taxpayer funded asylum. It’s irrelevant that they were not mentally ill. They are in extreme states and they were in need of help. Instead of attacking Laing Szasz ought to have joined with him in supporting the right of the mad to State subsidized non-coercive asylums for persons undergoing madness.

    I don’t know what you mean by usefulness but voluntarily organized places do not solve the problem. Szasz’s Libertarianism got in the way of his supporting the RIGHT of people in extreme states to be supported by the State. There was no way to raise enough private money for alternative asylums. Tom’s voice was noticeably silent when Soteria Project funding was cut. Many admirers of Szasz don’t even know he took these positions. Ron Leifer did and he opposed Szasz. The idea that people undergoing so called “psychotic episodes” don’t need or deserve help was cruel and indefensible.

    Laing DID reject the medical model but people undergo crises, extreme states, and part of the anti-psychiatric agenda should be to demand the State subsidize non-coercive asylums like Soteria. Szasz accused Laing of hypocrisy for running an alternative asylum.

    Szasz of course had a more consistent and more developed position against involuntary treatment and he provided a rationale for the mental patients’ liberation movement that sprung up in 1970 and then spread.

    Szasz would never admit that Laing’s work complemented his own. There is lacunae in Szasz’s work that is filled by Laing. I ve argued inb my book and in my essay in MIA on Szasz and Beyond that Szasz established the foundation for the movement, for its demand for full rights as citizens, for the battle against involuntary commitment. (Although due process is being undermined all over America
    the last few years.) He also was the first to deconstruct the medical model. But I argue as the movement grows, at least that part of the movement that consists of “schizophrenics” and other psychotics, in the next and higher stage of its development, the writings of persons like Laing will attain a more prominent position. The Icarus Project was moving in this direction before it reversed course in 2009. But its Mission Statement reads like something written by R D Laing in the 60s. Ironically the co-founders of TIP had never read Laing–nor Szasz, nor Breggin. Nonetheless as compared to the first wave whose position was Szaszian, TIP sounded Laingian.

    So my theory is you don’t like Laing because of your own background. I know plenty of psychiatric survivors who consider Laing’s work as important as Szasz’s, if not more so.

    To me they stand together–with Breggin in the third position.John Perry is not well known but he ought to be. Along with Anton Boisen.
    Whitaker is another generation.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.


  • This has been an interesting discussion but unfortunately veryone avoided the topic of the NYT article and the claims:
    “Patients were much less likely to end up back in psychiatric hospitals and were arrested less often. Use of outpatient treatment significantly increased, as did refills of medication. Costs to the mental health system and Medicaid of caring for these patients dropped by half or more.”

    A co-author, Dr. Marvin Swartz, head of Duke’s social and community psychiatry division, said a study in 2010 by the team found that patients “were less likely to return to the hospital, if they went to the hospital they had shorter lengths of stay, they were more likely to be adherent to medication, and generally they functioned better in the community.”

    I would be interested in people thoughts on this–which I suppose must be speculation since we don’t have the study. I publicly opposed Kendra’s law. I did it on the basis of the study they used to support it. There was a control group. The patients who got AOT actually got essential resources such as housing as compared to the control group who didn’t.It was obviously flawed yet it was used to support Kendra’s Law.

    . The director from Bazelon said the what made the difference described in Times was the “array of services” provided not the coercion–in other words not the forced drugging. But we are not told what the services were. On the other hand, the Times cites a couple dramatic cases in which patients were engaging in very self destructive behavior until they were AOTed. Their families were understandably relieved they were AOTed.

    Obviously it was not the drugs that made the difference but these patients and their families–one of whom is constantly popping up on my FB and hectoring me–are going to BELIEVE it is the drugs. And others will say even if it isn’t, the AOT still helped.

    What do WE say?.

    The above is an important discussion but coming up with a response to the Times is also important and urgent–yet no one has addressed it. Everyone has changed the topic to a related issue that is important but not the one that calls for a response NOW. Please look at the headline on top. NY Times: Forced AOT WORKS.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • To continue Subvet, Claire felt the CIA was stalking her, she felt they were trying to control her mind. Were they? Ewen Cameron did experiments with mental patients. Claire had reams of information n MK Ultra. It’s possible. The thing is Claire was so crazy she would have thought that even if they weren’t. On the other are not those kind of people the best to experiment on, precisely because no one will believe them? Claire was killed, hit by a car. I would have assumed it WAS the CIA except Claire had a bad habit of crossing the street and not looking. I only found out a year later so I don’t know the details.

    Claire was a nice lady and she had a superb collection of texts on mind control. Was the Batman killer a victim of CIA mind control? I think so. But neither Holmes nor Claire could contribute much to leading a rebellion.

    Subvet you are interested in preventing psychiatric oppression (as am I)of which you have been a victim. You are not interested in changing the world which you say is fine. You don’t even believe in mad-made global warming. But Bruce Levine
    is interested in changing the world.

    Bruce Levine is talking about rebellion yet due to the secularist outlook which he shares with most of the left and certainly with you, Anonymous or Subvet he overlooks and ignores the sensibility of those people who have been in the forefront of the rebellion. Sascha Dubrul and Jacks McNamara were diagnosed as bipolar and originally they also rejected the philosophical materialism of modern culture.(They have since changed their minds.) McNamara claimed to have a mystical understanding of the world through “mania” that it had taken an aspiring spiritual adept she met 20 years to reach through meditation. She experienced the unity and infinite meaningfulness of the world. If the world can be changed and saved as I believe it can be, although the prospects look dim, Levine should take into account the
    experiences of those who have had spiritual epiphanies and visions. While Sascha may now dismiss these vision Paul Levy does not.

    As John Weir Perry argued and I argue in my book
    those who have a new mythic vision are usually those who in the past have galvanized movements for profound social change. Although R D Laing hailed schizophrenics as the one group most resistant to modern technocratic society–the same argument Sascha made about bipolars before he became more conservative–Bruce says nothing about them.

    Bruce write. “Some of us rebel by becoming inattentive. Others become aggressive. In large numbers we eat, drink, and gamble too much. Still others become addicted to drugs — illicit and prescription. Millions work slavishly at dissatisfying jobs, become depressed and passive-aggressive, while no small number of us can’t cut it and become homeless and appear crazy. Feeling misunderstood and uncared about, millions of us ultimately rebel against societal demands, however; given our wherewithal, our rebellions are often passive and disorganized, and routinely futile and self-destructive.” This is true
    and very insightful.
    But what about those who rebel by retreating to an inner world. Laing and Campbell and Perry think this may have a potential we fail to recognize.Laing wrote, “If
    the human race survives, future men will look back on our enlightened
    epoch as a veritable Age of Darkness. The laugh’s on us. They will see
    that what we call ‘schizophrenia’ was one of the forms in which, often
    through quite ordinary people, the light began to break in the cracks in our all-too-closed minds.”

    Saul was traveling to Damascus and he heard a voce say “Saul. Saul Why do you persecute me?” And he looked up and saw the risen Jesus. Neither of Paul’s 2 companions saw or heard anything. By today’s standards Paul had had a psychotic breakdown marked by auditory and visual hallucinations and delusions of grandeur.
    If not for the schizophrenic St Paul Christianity would be unknown today/ It started off as a popular anti-Empire movement and a few centuries later was coopted by Constantine. But it was the messianic vision and missionary preaching of a “psychotic”–St Paul– that launched a radical social movement to change the world.

    “When we have hope, energy, and friends, we can choose to rebel against societal oppression with, for example, a wildcat strike or a back-to-the-land commune. But when we lack hope, energy, and friends, we routinely rebel without consciousness of rebellion and in a manner in which we today commonly call mental illness.” That is true and as I have argued rebellion is galvinized by prophets and messiahs–not e “messiah,” but many messiahs. They create hope and energy and community. This happened during Americas Great Awakenings including the counter-culture of the 60s. That is it takes a great revival and preachers who propagate a new vision so that many people are gripped by a vision of the promised land and will rise up in rebellion and demand justice and righteousness and care for the earth–so that finally we can realize the nKingdom of heaven on earth.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • First of all there is no evidence that Laing forcibly drugged anyone but Clancy Sigal.Sigal claims credibly that Laing drugged him–but Sigal was an unusual case.He was Laing’s peer and friend.You are propagating a rumor that has no substance in reality. Did you see the film on Kingsley Hall? There is a young girl about 18 who has prominent role in the documentary. 6 years ago I saw the film (for the second time). The young woman had come to NY to publicize the film. She is today an alternative psychologist. Had Kingsley Hall not existed this woman might have become a chronic schizophrenic. As Bob Whitaker has shown the typical treatments in the West are disabling. She believes that Kinsley Hall saved her. She and the other residents had the freedom NOT to take psychiatric drugs. She made that very clear. KH fell apart for complex reasons but the idea lived on–the idea was to have an asylum–a place of hospitality–in which there was no coercion. Laing affirmed and explain this idea of non-coercive environment in his memoir Wisdom, Madness and Folly. Loren Mosher, a close friend of Laing’s, was inspired by KH to establish Soteria. Laing spent his life trying to get funding for other places where patients could go. David Goldblatt established Birch House (which lasted over three decades) due to inspiration by Laing. Andrew Feldmar established a non-coercive environment inn BC, Canada. The idea of a non-coercive environment was popularized by Laing. I have great respect for Szasz but I also have criticisms. Szasz insisted that there was no need for “schizophrenics” to have any sort of healing place to go because there was nothing wrong with them.

    You write “I’ll ask a third time, why are the thoughts of people labeled ‘mentally ill’ so compelling to you if they have religious content, but not if they have CIA content?”

    Often the CIA narrative goes together with the religious narrative. Almost all the people I have met labeled “schizophrenic” had
    spiritual experiences. There were even people who were atheists until they had so called psychotic experiences. My theory is based both on readings and on experiences that have been told to me by hundreds of persons labeled psychotics.

    You write;”but if someone has thoughts of the CIA stalking them, they don’t have anything to offer the intelligence community or the practice of espionage, they can’t usher in a new era of espionage or security studies or have nothing to offer international relations?”

    That’s very possible. Except I think the intelligence community does not serve to protect
    national security. Rather it does more nefarious things in order to advance the interests of the corporate elite that controls this country–the 1%. Oh yes I did have one friend who had only negative ideas that the CIA was controlling her mind. Before she died she had quite an impressive website on the CIA and mind control. I encouraged her to use her knowledge to alert others. She would not be the slightest bit surprised by revelations about the NSA. What has not been revealed except in alternative sources is the CIA’s development of a sophisticated technology of mind control. I’ll leave it to others to come up with creative
    theory of how people with CIA narratives could contribute to transforming the planet. End of Part I (I have to run out.)

  • Thanks.
    Don’t forget what’s happening with NSA and what NYT calls
    a second “secret Supreme Court.” And the manner in which the Obama Administration, which campaigned in 2008 on restoring transparency, had gone after whistle-blowers with a vengeance. Today US denounced Russia for giving Snowden asylum. After all Holder gave assurances Snowden would not be tortured..
    Although what do their assurances mean–Manning was subjected to torture for months, although they don’t call it torture.

    The attack on the once considered fundamental rights…

  • Great article.

    Maybe NSA caught on to him, Ted.(Joking) Actually I’d like to see an article by Bruce on Snowden, Manning etc Assange was probably a rebel since high school or before, but Snowden and Manning represent something different–and encouraging. I wonder if Bruce has any insights to add.

    OK Bruce there is one major omission in your work. In the early 1960s R D Laing hailed schizophrenics as the most radical critics– mostly unconsciously–of the existing order. He had various formulations. In a secular one-dimensional disenchanted rationalized world (Max Weber, Marcuse)schizophrenics were exploring the inner world and seeking to recover their connection to the divine. At one point–in The Politics of Experience– Laing even went further: “The socially adjusted bomber pilot may be a greater threat to species survival than the schizophrenic who thinks the Bomb is inside him.[The context of course was Vietnam and the arms race.] Our society may itself have become biologically dysfunctional, and some forms of schizophrenic alienation from the alienation of our society may have a sociobiological function that we have not recognized.”

    That’s a radical thesis, one that Laing never developed and abandoned within 2 years.For Laing the mad person is expressing (in what we would call metaphorical language) –and living– a critique of society. But what is the sociobiological function of the mad person in the context of species survival? Wow. I have developed these embryonic notions of Laing in my own 2012 book, a cultural history of the anti-psychiatry movement, The Spiritual Gift of Madness Thus I argue that by sociobiological function Laing is really talking about a redemptive function which calls for a redemptive-messianic praxis. I argued that “psychosis” was often a prophetic calling, a calling to collectively propagate a messianic vision. Not everyone will accept the validity of the idea of a calling, but it has a history.

    As far as I know I am the only “professional” (psychologist) who has attempted to develop these Laingian ideas in this kind of radical manner. (The transpersonal psychology field was never radical like Laing–they were not challenging the premises of psychology/psychiatry, unfortunately.) This is because most of Laing’s fans have not taken their cues from The Politics of Experience.(Nor did Laing himelf after the 60s.)They are more interested in phenomenology and therapy.I am more interested in madness and revolution–or more specifically in what I call messianic politics.(This is more
    unconventional by today’s standards than Michael Lerner idea.)Nor has the book had an influence on the current Mad Pride movement,partly for reasons discussed in the book.

    Anton Boisen also saw the schizophrenic sensibility as the same sensibility as that of the religious prophet–not the other-worldly mystic, but the one who seeks to change the world, to base it on the principle of unity, of spiritual sacrifice and love.He does a excellent job of drawing the parallel between Jesus, St Paul, George Fox,on the one hand and the “hospital patient on the other.(This was in the 1930s!)The Icarus Project started off in this quasi- messianic (the secular left would call it utopian) direction and rather abruptly after a few years retreated to a less radical position, for reasons I discuss in my book. Ashley McNamara wrote essays in 2005 in which she referred to madness allusively but unequivocally as a catalyst for collective spiritual transformation.

    I’d be glad to send you a copy of my book, Bruce.Although its may be too metaphysical for your taste. Although the book has been from what I hear an inspiration to the diaspora of mad people, it’s not discussed in the movement itself. Sascha graciously tried to call attention to it, although I was critical in my discussion of him in the book of his trajectory. I had hoped the book would prompt some discussion within the mad movement but it hasn’t as of yet although it has a Foreword by Kate Millett. (A couple articles I wrote for Reality Sandwich provoked a lot of controversy among Mad activists who saw it) If my ideas were of any interest to you (even if you disagreed), your mention of it might bring it some attention within the movement.

    One more thing I did not discuss it in my book but the most overt argument for mad people as revolutionaries was not Laing but Allen Ginsberg. Unfortunately Allen also abandoned these ideas but he very clearly redefined so called mental illness (at least among his friends) as a mystical quest, as a desperate and noble effort to reestablish a connection with the Absolute. Abby Hoffman claimed he learned Howl by heart in high school. But no one now even seems to realize it is a Mad Pride statement. It is even more overt and direct than Laing’s PE in 1967.
    Best, Seth
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Seth Farber, PhD
    Good to hear that Bob.
    These attacks are to be expected. In a sense
    this is a battle. What you say is a threat to the psychiatric pharmaceutical industrial complex (to use a variation on Breggin’s phrase).
    I appreciate Jonah’s perceptive remarks about the role of the public journalist. I would also suggest you are conforming to the best ideal of the public intellectual–a threatened species today. (Russell Jacoby wrote a book on that ideal.)
    You write, “I also think that some of the animosity now being directed toward me, or trying
    to stop me from speaking, is related to the fact that this website is proving to be a gathering place for a larger community of voices, which is being heard in ever larger circles. ”
    Yes well put. Indeed this is a living embodiment of the truth you articulate
    since it includes the voices of many people who got off of the psychiatric drugs, the neuroleptics, and are intellectually and spiritually flourishing.
    The psychiatric pharmaceutical industrial complex and those who identify with it would like to suppress the truth. But the truth is not like a non-compliant patient whom they can force to shut up. It abides and endures and finds expression everywhere and hopefully one day will rule supreme.
    Keep going. Thank you.
    Best, Seth
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Maria
    It’s typical.
    It’s amazing some of the things these NAMI parents will do.
    Have you read SAnity Madness and the Family. It is mostly transcript of seven–or was it 11– families.
    It was done by R D Laing Esterson and Lee. THese transcripts are amazing because these parents are terrifiedof their 18-30 yr old chldren becoming independent. The “schizophrenic” talk in these beautiful metaphors which as metaphors are comments on the interpersonal violence and manipulation.
    Of course there were methodological questions like Can we be sure the parents did not become like this AFTER the son or daughter became “schizophrenic.”?
    But this is a common theme in these families. Jay Haley
    has similar data but a different interpretation.
    I’ll look at these later.

  • Rossa
    First of all I did not psychoanalyze you. I did not discuss your emotional state. I did not attribute your ideas to your inner feelings or character–specifically to negative emotions. Analyzing the content of what you say is not psychoanalyzing. I was having what seems to me a friendly dialogue when you lashed out at me.
    You said that I assumed that all families were toxic to the child (which as is known by anyone who has read any books by me is not my position, but rather a position I have critiqued) and you imply that I took this alleged position because I was angry. When you attribute someone’s argument to “anger” you are psychoanalyzing them–using the term loosely. It is also considered an insult. Out of nowhere you insult me.
    You say it is not out of nowhere. I did not pull “I am a psychologist card” in order to make you feel small. I was not angry at you at all until the preceding email. Because it makes you feel small does not mean that was my intention.It was not my intention. Or my assessment. I had a favorable impression of you or I would not have chosen your letter to respond to in the first place.
    You write well and your ideas are clearly organized. In this last letter I notice you express yourself at times with imagination and humor: e.g., “trying to make the hapless soul on the receiving end look small and ill-equipped to play in the big leagues.”
    It is admirable and courageous for you to acknowledge your feelings of vulnerability, of insecurity. At least this way I can assess and see if it matches my feelings and intentions. AS I said I find nothing matching what you attribute to me until AFTER that letter–the I sense anger letter.I had no intention of hurting your feelings.
    I don’t know what you mean when you say that I sometimes “resort to pulling the “I am a PhD psychologist card…”
    I AM a psychologist– a dissident or anti-establishment psychologist and it is part of my experience and what I do.I draw upon my experience when I make arguments on this topic.Is that what you object to? It does not seem fair to expect me to censor myself. Anyway I don’t know your background and did not assume anything. You could be a Rhodes scholar for all I know. (I thought you had training as a social worker therapist after you wrote “I sense anger”–seriously.) I put my credentials at the bottom because OTHER people sometimes read these things and they do think, rightly or wrongly, it means I have studied the field and thus have knowledge that the lay person would not have. There is a grain of truth to this. Just as it is true that activists in the psychiatric survivors’ movement have
    similar knowledge and experience–to dissident therapists or scholars.
    Excuse me but I did not remember everything you said.I read and study hours each day and I don’t retain all this, but my impression of you was positive until the letter preceding this one. You write. “Guess what I didn’t like? “Did you never read The Loony-Bin Trip?” I sensed anger there big time with me. I don’t know how to find that formulation w/o spending hours. It’s not in my previous 2 letters. Believe when I get angry I remember it, and I had no anger at you until the “I sense anger” letter. I;ll explain what I probably meant. I meant I was surprised that a woman as intelligent as you and as involved with the movement as you had not even read The Loony Bin Trip. (I have no reason to lie to you.) There is an element of criticism there perhaps–that you should have read it– but there is also an element of praise.It is an important anti-psychiatric book. Take the alternative
    “Have you ever read The Loony Bin Trip?” That formulation to me means that I did not expect you would have read the book. Asif it’s not really the kind of book you would read. But you see I did think it was the kind of book you would have read, especially as a literate woman. Of course I assumed you were a survivor but now I’m thinking that maybe you’ve taken an interest in this only because of your son. Anyway considering that i thought (up until now) that you were a psychiatric survivor
    and intellectually inclined that it was surprising that you had not read the book.
    I’m beginning to see the misunderstanding. I’ve seen your name a lot and read your comments but I don’t retain things unless I’m reading for research or in a one to one conversation so I assumed you were a psychiatric survivor, and you could have also been a therapist. Now that you tell me you’re not a survivor it makes sense why a literate woman like you would not have read this book.
    Anyway I did not think after reading your comments on this page that you were a NAMI mother–figuratively speaking. You would not be here if you were. So I commend you for that. I DO think you are naive about NAMI mothers. I don’t know how much experience you have with women in NAMI because you do not say but I notice people on this website have had experiences similar to mine with NAMI mothers. I take your word for it that your son could live with you comfortably and not take drugs. But that is rare. And I also have been a therapist for years so i may have a broader range of experience than you. You don’t say.
    It has taken a long time to resolve this. I hope you believe me. I wish you would agree that you ought not to have lashed out at me like that. I always thought you were a thoughtful and sensitive person–and I really did not have this huge anger you attributed to me– until your “I sense anger” letter. Then it bothered me so much that I have spent a huge amount of time to try to resolve it.I hope we are closer to a resolution. I hope you will admit some responsibility here.
    Got to run.

  • First of all Rossa I must comment on your psychoanalysis of me. Your implication that my perspective is a result of (suppressed or unacknowledged?) anger. It’s wrong and it’s silly.
    I would bet that I have had more experience directly or indirectly–through their adult children– with these NAMI mothers than you have. So I would bet my difference from you is a result of this experience. I have spoken to many adult children labeled with some kind of “psychosis” who were banned from their parents houses, involuntarily locked up and subjected to all kinds of abuses by parents–usually mothers–to keep them on drugs. I ‘m somewhat angry but not on my behalf. I have a good relationship with my 89 years old mother and father and girlfriends over the years etc etc.
    I was trained as a family therapist (after I got my PhD) by 3 of the top people in the field. Before I was fired
    I was very successful with all kinds of families including parents–except for some parents of “schizophrenics.” Have you read Sanity Madness and the Family? It is transcripts so one cannot blame it on Laing’s ostensible anti-family attitude.It’s a classic–about this topic.
    If you want to talk to a couple of these adult kids they will tell you how their mothers did not want them to be “healthy.”
    The one I’m friendliest with now–over the Internet– is happily adjusted, and has been off drugs since several months after he last saw me in 1989.His mother would not talk to him for 12 years. Her condition for meeting him was he go back on drugs–even though he was having no troubles, and had a job and girlfriend. (I was fired for encouraging kids to get off drugs.)On her death bed she finally relented. She was a member of NAMI. I also told you that this is generally NOT true with black parents.
    I must admit to you Rossa that this sentence really irritates me:”I sense a lot of anger there.” It’s not only the psychoanalysis. That particular hackneyed therapeutic cliché reminds me of that therapeutic culture I worked in years ago. I’m surprised at you. Jesus were you trained as a therapist?
    You write,”You also seem to assume that all families are toxic to the struggling child.” There is nothing in anything I have written to warrant that assumption–your assumption I mean.I challenge you to find one statement where I ever said or implied that.
    In fact you can find many statement under the article by Julie this past week(I’d have to look up the title) in which I argue AGAINST that theory! It is the psychoanalytic theory and I find it misanthropic and fatalistic.I have written many deconstructions of it. That is right. That is the reason I repudiated psychoanalysis)I was seduced by Freudianism for a few years in graduate school.Eventually I realized how destructive it was.I became an apostate.
    It’s why I became a family therapist–although I don’t get families now that I’m excluded from the public sector.
    It’s one of my abiding regrets. I loved doing family therapy.But these were working class
    and middle class people who would not be likely
    to call me on the basis of reading one of my neo-Laingian books. Fortunately I discovered
    the survivors movement in 1988 and co-founded The Network against Coerive Pychiatry–no longer extant.
    To briefly describe family therapy: As a ft I had found I could resolve problems by modifying family members’ interactions IN THE PRESENT. That is I rejected the idea that children are damaged by inadequate parenting in the first few years.
    I rejected the idea of pathology and focused on
    families strengths, not their weaknesses.These ideas are expressed in al my books. Except for the NAMI types I always got along with all the family members.I cannot think of any exceptions–except NAMI mothers, and fathers sometimes.
    For awhile I was going into Court on behalf of black mothers who had their kids taken away from then–not because they were alleged to be abusive, but because they picked on and examined by psychologists who said they were borderline personality disorders etc But the judge almost always did what Child Welfare wanted.But my point is I fought for the family against the State.
    When I worked as a family therapist I was spontaneously as empathic with the parents as I was with the kids. Except with these kids who had NAMI mothers. They NAMI mother (not always a member of NAMI–we areusing it figuratively) had kids who all had labels of psychotic–schizophrenic or schizoaffective since it was before the bipolar labeling mania.
    Well this has taken up some time. But I have to defend myself against the idea that I am some sort of cold ideologue filled with unacknowledged rage, and a nihilist who wants to destroy the family. I am what one might call opinionated–strong convictions combined with intellectual orientation– so maybe that was the basis of the imaginative portrait you have painted of me. It’s amazing how you could be so condescending and wrong about my basic beliefs in just 4 short sentences You see it is exactly what therapists do.
    OK finally
    You write, “I think getting off drugs and remaining stable is a lot more complex than connecting on the internet with others who have done it.” I did not say that it wasn’t.Here again you have made an assumption based your own fantasy. I said that if the young man connected on Internet with people who had gotten off psych drugs and were involved in movement, this would be a start and he would never go back into the system again. I believe that is all I said. The rest I did not go into.
    After that he might have made other connections. I’m always willing to talk to these people at least once pro bono.Sometimes more. But because I know a lot and have written books these kind of people usually find me helpful. And my books are helpful–particularly if like this young man they are inclined to read. Often I know other people I can connect them with. And there are other people
    who would do the same. I know a lot of people who got off drugs with little resources.It;s being part of a community which sometimes can
    take place on the Internet, because they do usually have some other resources. Though I usually would encourage them to leave home if they have NAMI parents
    The people in the studies Bob cites–Harrow and the new one–had less resources but they did it. But it took too long.My point was that Bob should include these URLs in his lectures so these young people who want to get off drugs can get support for doing it. If you think leaving this sensitive person I n the parents home–like this father- then I think you are naïve. Read THe Loony Bin Trip. BTW after 17 yrs on lithium and not being able to get off living with her girlfriend Kate got off in 6 months by talking with 3 people in the movement once a month.
    I have to run.
    I suggest you don’t play therapist again and reduce someone else to a cliché that does not even bear any resemblance to them. I’m sure you’ll say you sense anger. Yes I was angry for your condescending letter. I’m angry at therapists who do that all the time. But my statement about NAMI parents was based upon experience.
    You ought to at least read one of my books after you’ve psychoanalyzed me. Here is my latest

  • Morias, Well I made my argument already. We don’t know the specifics. My example of a great opportunity was when Alternative bowed to pressure to rescind Bob’s invitation.(But
    as soon as they saw opposition they changed their mind again.)
    But I do have to concede you are technically right about Marx. (Marx did send quite a lot of time organizing First International, but that had far less effect than his books)Marx himself wrote the books but others influenced by him acted upon them. That included brilliant intellectuals like Trotsky and Lenin who were also shrewd organizers–that is not to defend their authoritarian policies.
    But had they just written books there would have been no Bolshevik revolution.
    The same is true of Martin Luther King Jr. AND of the abolitionists. Theory AND praxis , to use a lefty term, are both necessary. I was not advocating–as I stated–that Bob himself lead protests just that he call for mass political action in opposition to efforts to suppress him.
    Bob’s books and blog, as I stated, has already had a major impact. Probably more than any book in this field since Szasz and Laing in the 60s. Within a few years his two books–mostly Anatomy– had more impact than Peter Breggin’s did over many years. I don’t know why. Maybe the blog or Internet or the cunning of history. (Although Breggin will tell you about the impact of his activism in decades gone by.)
    Are you joking? Whatever you think about Marx you must know he did not spend his days getting drunk in the British Museum– Library.
    Mad in America is a movement that is due for political expression. The people who converse below the articles are more radical, more anti-psych drug, than most of the leaders or spokespersons for The Icarus Project.Or “Radical Mental Health.” And MindFredom has no such forum. So MIA has a distinctive kind of spirit, although there is also diversity of voices. So that says something about what Mad In represents.
    Bob himself had no intention of becoming
    a full time speaker for the movement. Destiny led him to a role he never anticipated.

  • Chrys, This is also eloquently formulated but I don’t see how it necessarily contradicts anything I said.
    I think you mean to disagree with me but I made a specific statement
    and this is general.
    I said that any attempt to ban Bob should be met by a call to resistance because it is a great opportunity to publicize and build the movement. To get people off their computers for a day. Sure there is a time for everything and an effort to ban Bob from speaking would be the perfect time to supplement Bob’s books
    with a political mass based response. I gave some reasons why in two posts above.
    For instance I said had Alternatives not rescinded their ban there was so much momentum building up–I could sense it on the Net–
    that it would have been a boost to the movement had they not retreated and had we responded vigorously. I said that often movements have grown precisely because the Establishment foolishly gives the protesters an opportunity. I’ll give you another example. Everyone who has written on Occupy Wall St agrees that the qualitative change from a little group to a mass movement was precipitated by the cops brutally pepper-spraying 2-3 women in NY’s Liberty Park–it was all over TV. That launched the movement. The opportunity would have been lost though had people not responded spontaneously by going out all over the country. Very often the arrogant Establishment hands us these opportunities. We have to be astute enough to realize that we can seize victory from the jaws of ostensible defeat. Sure there are times to retreat, but not now.

  • Morias, You’re eloquent, but wrong, I think. Bob through no planning of his own has become a political phenomenon. As I said in a previous post if there were an effort to ban him that would be a great way
    to get more publicity for these issues.It could be a blessing in disguise.
    I’m not saying Bob should become an activist in the sense of leading marches. But he should call for an organized political response on the part of the movement in response to any and all efforts to ban him. The movement would grow much stronger that way. Books are only one tool. Education itelf is insufficient to produce change, as Karl Marx once said.
    You write,”They want to stop you from speaking here or there? I don’t know, maybe you should let them and use your time to write them off the face of the Earth..” That would be a terrible mistake, an opportunity wasted. Your idea that speaking truth to power is enough to reduce to dust the walls of Jericho is unfortunately not true. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power never concedes anything without a struggle….”
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Where are you? You say “We have our share.” Are you in Norway? I expect them to be more open–minded. Some of the NAMI motherswon’t change–no matter what. They might change if the culture changes.
    You notice here a completely different attitude toward Psychiatry and drugs on the part of African American parents. The contrast is amazing. They don’t want their kids on drugs.
    So nif some of THEM were in NAMI they’d probably be more receptive to change. Indeed the new President who iscritical of the drugging IS black.

  • Bob, That is a far more serious and nefarious response. That may require both an organized political response and a legal response. (I’m sure you’ve investigated the latter.) It’s a token of your efficacy, as Chrys says. I must say you books and blogs hAve had a tremendous impact. It’s almost miraculous. No one else in this field since the 60s has had such a powerful impact in such a short period of time.
    It’s a phenomenon. Obviously the Internet helped.
    But unfortunately contrary to Chrys you can keep a good man down. I could name quite a few recently, not to mention
    the great martyrs of the 1960s. But in your case I think they would be overplaying their hand. I think it would backfire. In fact I was partially disappointed when Alternatives rescinded its ban–I thought it would have been a way to get you national publicity. I was ready to call up Democracy Now–and I think they would have covered it. Even Peter Breggin
    said his career did not take off until NAMI tried to take away his license in the late 1980s. Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl became a bestseller (the only bestselling beat poem) because of the obscenity trial. His publisher Ferlinghetti was delighted when he learned the government was going to try to ban it. Of course the judge was very sympathetic to Allen.
    You never can tell but I’m sure it would only mobilize support for you. Of course it’s must be rather unnerving.
    Seth Farber

  • I understand you’re French but the last part of your sentence
    does not make sense: “…the least self-proclaimed journalists like Earley is enter into a responsible examination of such obviously inappropriate modes of “free” speech.” I am wondering what you intended to say. I suggest you formulate so people can understand.
    Maria provided some critical information. And keep in mind that as someone noted this Earley character is a worldwide missionary for forced
    psychiatric drugging.


  • hi Rossa
    The NAMI mother that I tangled with would not talk to her son for 12 even though he was doing fine off the drugs.
    NOW there Aare probably many mothers in NAMI who are ambivalent. This was not true in 1990s. And there were “NAMI mothers” who were not in NAMI. These women would rather have theirchildren locked in a cage their whole life, than become independent. R D Laing showed this in earlky 60s in nthe transcript he published Sanity Madness and the Family.
    There is no way this mother could tolerate her son getting off drugs. Did you never read The Loony-Bin Trip.
    Remember I said his ability to get off drugs and to remain stable depends upon his connecting–even on the Internet–with others who have done it.
    trust within the family relationship might be a better first priority.” I don’t know how you could possibly think thatb is a priority with this mother who wants Bob Whitaker’s head. I worked as a family therapist in lte 80s before I became unemployable because of my position on drugs, and the NAMI mothers–I use the term figuratively aswell as literally– are not willing to tolerate their adult child’s independence. Furhermore at that age peers are far more important than parents.

    ” The
    mother might do well to learn to let go, and be there to support her son when he
    chooses a different path than the one she might have chosen for him.”
    You are not being practical. If this could not happen with Kate Millett’s radical lesbian friends it won’t happen with her. If he had help procuring his own living space he could make friends.

  • Julie, If you like Laing you ought to read my latest book(2012) which is in Laingian tradition CIRCA !960s. So far I think I’m the only psychologist (or psychiatrist) writing whose position is as radical as Laing in the 60s.Daniel Burston did not even like PE. And of course Laing backed away from his 60’s views. I wrote,”Is a “revolution
    in the mental health system”*—as Oaks calls for—sufficiently
    radical and inspiring as a goal to motivate the mad to great acts of sacrifice
    and devotion? I do not think so. It fails to strike the deeper chords
    in the collective imagination of the mad. The Mad Pride movement
    must set its heights much higher: It must learn to take its bearings from
    the mad themselves, who have said so often in private moments (in
    moments of authentic madness) that they were the prophets and messiahs
    of a new messianic age.
    A truly authentic revolution will wipe away the entire professional
    “mental health” system. The “mental health system” and “mental health
    professionals” are just another symptom of an insane and spiritually
    deranged society.”.

    BTW I think the story about Laing’s ability to sober up quickly is in Adrian Laing’s bio. He had a lot of anger toward Ronnie who abandoned them all. His mother was Laing’s first wife. I think Laing expressed himself well even when he was drunk but there were always people that complained, so I don’t think that was the problem. He led a very irresponsible life so he did not set a particularly good example. He had at least 11 kids—of course he could not afford child support. A couple died, at least one had a breakdown. He was very good at establishing a rapport with crazy people, but he did not have a lot of patience for anyone else. His dialogue with Christy is worth seeing–it may be on Internet–Laing at his best. I still think his best book was THe Politics of Experience (essays, 1967). The Voice of Experience is neglected classic–the first half critiques psychoanalysis…
    His memoir Wisdom Madness and Folly had the same title as a 1950s memoir by John Custance. It seems most oeple were unaware and thus missed the irony: Custance was a brilliant “lunatic.”

  • The question how can this young man be helped. Unfortunately he now has voluntarily chosen to go back into the hospital.
    You can criticize the mother Rossa but you might as well talk to a wall. AS an anti-establishment psychologist I’ve encountered these NAMI mothers before–they’re almost always inaccessible, and self-righteous.
    This young man cannot live at home and get off the drugs. Even if the mother were to agree she’d sabotage it. (See The Loony Bin Trip) What she should do is to help her son financially get a room somewhere.”He left us a long handwritten note filled with nonsense about how a voice was telling him we were devils, our house was haunted by evil spirits and we were trying to poison him. He said God was commanding him to not live with us anymore.” He’s right! I’m afraid now when he comes out of the loony bin he’ll forget this.
    They might even give him ECT, depending on where he is.It’s too bad we cannot get in touch with him.
    It would help the son to be able to connect
    even on the Internet with other people who have gotten off the drugs. Once he does that he will not go back into the system. Whenever Bob speaks at these places (goes into the lion’s den) he should give–maybe he did and the guy wasn’t listening–the website of several places. I could name several but I’m sure Bob knows them.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • John,Laing often showed up at lectures drunk.
    Although TV takes it to another level.
    One time he cried throughout most of his lecture. Jutta has left him not long before–he never got over that.
    Yes I did say (I don’t know if “praise” is accurate) that Freud was a gifted writer. But no one has ever accused me (not since my Freudian days)of a bias TOWARD Freud. I’m not an expert in mythology as Lewis. However Lewis might have been criticizing in part Freud’s reductionist INTERPRETATION of mythology?
    Yes Masson is a very moving writer about animals. It is in fact the only area in which he overcomes his knee-jerk attitude against spirituality–a result partly of his father’s guruitis. Anyone like me who think animals are underestimated and abused should read some of his work. He is an astute observer with a love of animals–in Jane Goddall tradition. He has a classic of elephants weeping and another–A Peaceable Kingdom orsomething–in which he trained natural prey-predators to be friends. It was quite quaint. Things like a cat and a mouse becoming best friends. (I read it 10 yrs ago so I forget the specifics.)
    You know the time Laing got drunk and in a big brawl in his hotel room with a friend, another therapist. The room was torn apart and both men were bloodied. The police were called. Evidently Laing had ability to sober up quickly. So he pulled out his card, gave it to the cop and said his friend was a schizophrenic patient of his whom he had ben trying unsuccessfully to cure. Laing said the man needed to be contained. Laing’s friend was still staring into space dumbfounded as the police handcuffed him
    and took him away to a cell for the night.

  • Oh I thought you were younger. In America up until the mid-80s psychoanalysis was still hegemonic in the mental health system in US. I have no idea about England, although today it is obviously far more advanced–with the denunciation of “diagnosis.” Clearly the US was the forefront in battlefield against psychoanalysis. Jeffrey Masson’s work made him a celebrity. It completely upturned the image of Freud. And Masson had risen to the top before he became a critic. He was friends with and a protégé of Anna Freud. They expected him to do great things forb the psychoanalytic movement. Masson himself ASSUMED once he had read through the Freud letters and the archives that his peers in Freudian movement would want everything revealed. You see in the intellectual world and in psychology “Freud” was a synonym for the struggle for truth wherever it takes you. So when Anna Freud and the other said to Masson, “You can’t publish this stuff, it will ruin us” Jeffrey was crushed. It was like with former Communists in 40s and 50s who wrote The God that Failed. For Masson psychoanalysis WAS the God that failed.

    The first revelation was Freud suppressed the material showing many children were sexually molested by adults, by their parents. Masson might have remained a Freudian had the others said, “Yes we must reveal this. The quest for truth is more important even than Freud himself.” But they tried to silence Masson. Once he started talking they demonized him and tried to ruin his reputation. Masson was 100% honest–although one might say he had a big ego–in the Eastern sense. But he had no ulterior agenda. Freud had been his God. Masson felt it was his responsibility to reveal what he learned–just like Snowden does today. After Masson, other revelations came and other defections followed. Frederick Crews was a major blow. Peter Breggin never was a Freudian because most of them looked down on “schizophrenics.”
    Yes Laing too was an ex-Freudian–he left Tavistock in late 50s or early 60s. In THe VOICE of Experience in early 80so he debunks the Freudians, although he never renounced his teacher Winnicott. For Laing as you say it all hinged upon their abusive attitude towards the mad. Laing’s revolutionary book was The Politics of Experience in 1967. As far as I can see I am the only “mental health professional” who is following in the tradition of the 1960s Laing. Hardly anyone even mentions him anymore. When they do it’s the more sedate Laing of the 1970s and 80s, not the 60s radical. It’s Laing as a therapist. Laing himself was divided between his desire to be a “great master” like Freud and his 1960s belief that there was a need for more radical changes and that the mad were the spiritual vanguard. My 2012 book was inspired by the 1960s Laing, the inspirations that Laing himself abandoned by late 1960s.

  • John and Julie
    BTW John I’m pretty sure I mentioned Karon has one of the few if not the only admirable Freudians who treated “schizophrenics” like human beings and felt they could be cured.
    I indeed feel like I’m flogging a dead horse except Julie is young and unaware of how Freudianism and Freud was exposed and eviscerated inn the US in the 1980s and 90s.
    Thus she says things about it that no American supporter of the psychiatric survivors’ movement as it emerged in the 1970s would be likely to say. It amazes me but younger people–under 45– don’t realize that the patients’ movement felt the same fury at the Freudians that they now feel towards bio-psychiatry.
    Julie when you say “And I do not like the fact that he[Freud] was clearly biased against women” you are missing the point. I’m not talking about bias, I am talking about exploitation and emotional abuse.He was far worse than the average professional of his era. This is one reason Freudianism was destroyed by the 1990s–its allure had rested partly on Freud’s reputation as a man of unflinching self scrutiny and moral integrity. That persona could not withstand the numerous attack and revelations.
    You write ‘Freudians believed that ‘schizophrenia’ was an ‘illness’ and that individuals would never recover from this. I don’t believe this is unique to Freudians.” That is true but as I said in American clinical psychology all the universities and clinics was dominated by the Freudians. I’m trying to tell you when Szasz launched his critique against the medical model the target was the psychoanalysis. The same with Laing. Although they both thought psychoanalysis could be reformed. Few people realize it but the Freudians had hegemony in clinical psychology s well as exalted status in the literary world.
    As mentioned I was an ardent Freudian for 10 years. To know how pernicious Freudianism was in the clinics you had to be there. That’s why Masson who, unlike me had despised all forms of spirituality, depicted Freudianism in similar terms. But after I became an apostate I agreed with Popper that a non-falsifiable theory was of no therapeutic value. Yes I came to loathe Freudianism for the harm it inflicted upon patients, particularly my comrades in the patients’ movement. Further I was finally disabused of my fascination with the psychoanalytic metanarrative and came to regard Freud as probably the greatest intellectual charlatan of the 20the century.(A view I think I shared with Masson.) Freud was a highly gifted writer and a good story teller which partially accounted for Freud’s success. I was not a fan of Rogers, My allusion was to the famous studies that showed the efficacy of a type of therapy depended purely upon the quality of the patients relationship with the therapist, a finding that was disturbing to the Freudian intellectual elitists.
    My book presents the Mad movement as an alternative to therapy which is at best a stop gap measure. AS I see it if humanity has a chance of surviving it will have to adopt q messianic redemptive paradigm of madness and change The greatest thinker and visionary of the 20th century was Sri Aurobindo


  • Damn I lost what I wrote. I don’t agree with Bob entirely. i agree that anti-psychotics are harmful and that OD and Soteria are positive alternatives. It’s very important that Bob chronicled those facts. But I would never refer to someone as”schizophrenic” without using the scare quotes. That’s an insult to the people I know who had spiritual episodes. It’s not an illness. I agree with you that shamanism is an ASC and it can be enriching, it can give people the gift of healing. Hallucinogens when used carefully can be therapeutic. Schizophrenia can also be part of a healing process as John Perry and Michael Cornwall, Paris Williams and I have argued.
    The psychiatric establishment regarded Jesus as “schizophrenic,” as defective–they did not understand he was spiritually gifted.
    The papers you cite report only the negative. They don’t recognize that people can grow BEYOND normality.
    You write, “The most simple way that it was described to me was my brain was swelling and I suffered organic brain damage that was successfully treated. I had a very broken brain, literally and I was labeled bipolar, schizoaffective and schizophrenic.” OK how did this happen to you? There is book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley. It may be helpful to you because there is a greater capacity for change–and the book shows how. But you were not bipolar and schizophrenic. You don’t understand Maria that those words are used to insult people.
    We have been telling you over and over that there is no such disease as schizophrenia. When you tell a patient she is “schizophrenic” you undermine her self confidence. if you look at MindFreedom or my book there is absolutely no evidence of a brain disorder. Those words are used to demean and anti-psychotics are used to make or keep people dis–abled.
    The sensibility of the psychiatrist is shrunken. They look at people who are growing beyond them and instead of seeing growth they see disease.In The Politics of Experience Laing presciently wrote, “If
    the human race survives, future men will look back on our enlightened
    epoch as a veritable Age of Darkness. The laugh’s on us. They will see
    that what we call ‘schizophrenia’ was one of the forms in which, often
    through quite ordinary people, the light began to break in the cracks
    in our all-too-closed minds.”
    Of course we have to turn even suffering into an occasion for growth as you did. But still the doctors lied to you
    when they told you that you had “schizophrenia.” It was not that Jesus was a “schizophrenic.” It’s that sychiatristws did not understand him. What they call schizophrenia is a growth crisis as Laing said. You don’t realize Maria how spiritually ignorant shrinks are. They are not like real doctors. They label anything
    THEY don’t understand as mental illness. They are afraid of the light, and they cling to their Ignorance.
    It seems you had a brain injury.I’m sorry to hear that. It’s good that you got over it. But you did not have any of those other illnesses. You were lied to by psychiatrists.All psychiatric labeling should be abolished. And the sanctity of the human soul–of your soul– should be affirmed.

  • Maria
    Yes you’re right. His attitude was contemptuous and contemptible. However your own omission was misleading.
    To say that a person with organic brain damage had a broken brain IS literally true. To say it about s so-called schizophrenic is a lie and sheer mystification. I don’t know enough about brain damage to even understand most of your terminology. I do know that they have discovered lately that the brain is not intractable
    and that it possesses neuroplasticity which makes such grim prognoses self-fulfilling prophecies.However it’s more complexthan someone with “schizophrenia.”The shrinks use Latin terms vto avoid telling the truth. This is a person undergoing an emnotional crisis or upset. I am completely against the use of such medical diagnosis. It’s the same thing with grief. Now they label a person who ost a close friend or family member pathological. If you spent all your life with someone andshe died it is natural to be unhappy miserable. Yet the shrinks say, Well we’ll let you feel sad for two weeks. Any longer is a “clinical depression.” Or a major depression. This is not a legitimate diagnosis. It’s a public relations trick to assert control over the unhappy person. This enables the shrinks to hospitalize her against her will and deceive her into thinking she has a medical problem. This kind of language degrades and debases the bereaved person. It would be far more accurate to say that she has the “blues.” But that is not financially profitable.
    It does not allow you to fill the hospital bed or to sell psychiatric drugs–drugs that do no better than
    placebos. The shrinks take the stories of life and translate it into medicaleeze. We should be doing the opposite. We should tell our own life stories, not give it to medical con artists who have become pimps for the drug companies.

    I have worked with so called schizophrenics as friends clients advocate for years and my impression is that you have been deceived, you have been influenced by their tropes and terminology which are completely bogus.It is kind of you to work with people with TBI.I think you came to identify with them. But you are different. You cannot compare an emotional crisis it with TBI.
    I spent quite a many years reading the literature and there is no evidence that there is any anomalies or disorders in so called psychotics. That kind of language is used to deceive you and make you believe shrinks have some expertise they do not have.They are bogus doctors. If you read Joanne Moncrief you’ll see the only person who show signs of brain pathology—shrinkage of ventricles–are those taking neuroleptics.
    Psychiatrists speak this jargon to make people think they are brain doctors but they are not. The rhetoric is used to disempower you. After years of working in the field I know that those who get OUT of the system and off the drugs do better. That is what Bob is trying to show you.
    In the 70s and 80s they did many experiments all designed to prove “schizophrenics” were cognitively inferior. If you read Ted Sarbin/James Mancuso book on Schizophrenia you find the majority of patients performed as well as the normal population. A few ersons did less well. That is only a small difference between group means–attributable to disguised variables like the effect of the drugs. But they use these difference to construct the myth of schizophrenia.
    So there is copious research: There is nothing wrong with the brain of schizophrenics.Sure there may be a few who actually have TBI. The problem Maria is not the Chinese menu. The problem is with the menu at all, with all medical diagnoses. If an orthomolecular doctor accepts the diagnosis of the shrink
    he has also embraced a myth. I don’t object to people taking vitamins or whatever they want.As long as it’s not neuroleptics But the diagnosis is incorrect. There is no such thing s schizophrenia. Sure emotional symptoms could be caused by physical problems but that is true for everyone.
    If you tell someone there is something wrong with their brain that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psychiatrists have mastered the jargon of brain disorder even though it’s not validated by research because they are trying very hard to convince “patients” they have specialized knowledge.
    I have met 100s of patients who got off the drugs out of the system and then their problem was resolved
    If they lost their partner they may have the blues for a long time. That’s not a pathology.And even a orthomolecular doctor should not say it is.
    Every psychiatric diagnosis is a misdiagnosis. A “schizophrenic” may have a more sensitive constitution than normates which is all the more reason they should stay away from shrinks and look for non-medical solutions to their problems.

  • I don’t get your reasoning here Julie. It’s such a non-sequitur I’m struggling to think of an analogy.Nothing precise comes to mind.It’s sort of like praising Stalin because social democracy (arguably a form of socialism soomewhat akin to “socialism” under Stalin) is better than neo-liberalism. Yes it is better but I don’t see why Stalin should get the credit.
    \ First of all I agree that good therapy is better than drugs. But the research shows the efficacy of therapy depends upon factors that have nothing to do with the kind of therapy-the Rogerian trio of warmth empathy and genuineness is what makes the difference. But let’s not go too far as Breggin does. We live now in a state of permanent war, the environment is being destroyed to the point where many scientists doubt whether humanity will survive. Martin Rees guessed the chance that humanity would survive until 2100 as 50-50. And America has become a totalitarian state. Therapy is not THE answer\
    You write,” I agree with what you say about Freud and how he was viewed in terms of his biased views against women etc.Casting these criticisms aside…” This is like saying “I agree with you Stalin imprisoned too many people but casting this error aside ..”– as if Stalin’s gulags were trivial. Freud’s misogyny was no small matter.If you read Masson, Patrick Swales and others, Freud’s theory and behavior was not just mildly sexist. It was abusive.In his most famous sexist case study–was it Anna O?–
    Freud blamed his patient when a friend of her father (her father was Freud’s friend and benefactor) sexually forced himself on her.
    Freud came up with one of his usual cockamamie theories– as I recall the young woman unconsciously WANTED to be sexually harassed by this man, a much older man. The woman was traumatized–Freud blamed this on her failure to resolve her desire to have sex with her own father. There were so many of these incidents that were unearthed in the 1980s that Freud’s reputation as a warrior for Truth was ruined by the early 1990s.
    He seemed to have two dominant concerns that trumped his search for the truth. 1) Being well paid and 2) Watching out for the old boys’ club. For a brief book that covers all of this I recommend Against Therapy by Masson. I do not think Masson
    makes a good argument against therapy(although others have) but that book does cover the most egregious cases of Freud’s abuse of women, and of the abuse by his followers, including the abuse by a famous Freudian of a young girl who became a leader in the psych survivors movement-Sally Zinman..
    “I just feel that he was one of the main pioneers in his field to recognise and address the internal, dynamic workings of an individual’s world and how they can be affected by external influences.” This was another problem. Thanks to Freud, for close to a century
    the dogma was unassailable that all problems in living were the intractable result of inadequate parenting in the first few years of the child’s life. External influences in the present were virtually entirely overlooked. I only freed myself from these Freudian dogmas after I accidentally discovered systemic family therapy.
    For example Freudians had a terrible record with anorexics–the latter had a high mortality rate despite analytic interpretations. Salvador Minuchin became famous for his high success rate. Minuchin’s family therapy was based on the premise that the patient’s refusal to eat was a response to the parents’ refusal to accept the young girl’s autonomy in the present. Instead of spending years talking about the past, Minuchin used his authority to get family members to modify their behavior in the present.
    This is of particular relevance for psychiatric survivors since the crux of Minuchin’s intervention was extricating the labeled person from the role of the identified patient; she was freed to express her independence in a more productive way, and the parents were taught to
    valorize her independence. I am abbreviating this Julie because there were numerous moves involved.
    I studied with Minuchin and became an expert family therapist but once I took a position against the drugs I was unemployable. But my point is this. Psychoanalysis was relatively ineffective.
    Had the drug companies not allied with the shrinks and the APA, many more effective modalities would have replaced it. But instead psychiatrists became pimps for the drug cartels.
    You want to give Freud credit as a pioneer but he did more harm than good. One of the most pernicious “accomplishments” was establishing the face-validity of the idea of mental illness.
    While therapy was often of value for patients in private practice that was not because of anything distinctively Freudian, but because a relationship could be of value–but not when the therapist looked down on the patient.
    I will repeat. For 10 years I was a Freudian. Much of this time I worked at clinics collecting hours. I spent years in NY and San Francisco looking for a clinic where I could do therapy with “schizophrenics.” At every single
    clinic or half-way house (Soteria was filled up)I was told schizophrenia was an incurable illness. The best that could be offered was “supportive therapy” plus drugs to prevent schizophrenics from “decompensating.” These were all Freudians. Not a single one offered “schizophrenics” anything other than a prophecy of doom. They were the lowest caste, the untouchables. The mental patients liberation movement was a revolt against psychiatrists who were Freudian.
    In some ways biopsychiatry is actually better for “psychotics.” Since everyone is a mark for the drug industry those on the bottom are not quite as different today as the rest of the population. Today the psychotic gets drugs alone. 30 years ago she got drugs and a degradation ritual termed supportive psychotherapy.
    Of course you know Freud hinself regarded schizophrenics as hopeless and “worthless.” Julie you are unaware of how critical the caste hierarchy was to Freudianism–it was the heart of it.See Final Analysis by Masson–an indispensable book for understanding the CULTURE.
    None of the things you like about therapy Julie were distinctively Freudian. And certainly some of the worst aspects of therapy–the legitimization of the medical model–WERE distinctively Freudian; that is the Freudians made mental illness their root metaphor and gave it its legitimacy. Like most people in the field under 45 you have little idea how awful it was. Even if you had done more reading you really have to sit in the back rooms as I did.
    Further you say “he was one of the main pioneers in his field to recognise and address the internal, dynamic workings of an individual’s world”..”.Freud may have his critics but his basic principle of allowing a person to talk their distress out was one his major contributions to the world of mental health. .” If you are talking about schizophrenics, as stated this is just not true. There are many books on this–Philip Rieff–but I summarize it in my book Eternal Day. It was only rich educated “neurotics” who were allowed to talk their distress out.(SEE Webster, Why Freud was Wrong) But even the value of this was dubious because unless the patient felt understood by the shrink the process was not therapeutic. There were others who deserved credit who were not exclusive, eg Sullivan even did therapy with schizophrenics. You called Freud a pioneer but I point out his hermeneutic was destructive.Freud does not fare well when you compare him to more open-minded therapists–For example the moral education school in the 19th century. Or contrast Freud to his contemporaries who were not as misanthropic as Freud was–Adler, Jung, Otto Rank.
    I do not think Freud stand up well to history. Nor do I think reviving psychotherapy is the solution to the problems of today. I address this issue in my books as well.In THe Spiritual Gift of Madness. But basically I think HVN and OD and various groups are more democratic than therapy. Propagating a myth of a golden age of therapy obscures the recent move to more alternative forms of caring and social organization that are more democratic. Whatever the weaknesses of these groups they are part of the effort to create a more democratic society.I recommend The Careless Society by John McKnight. If anyone is interested I could send them my essay, Augustinianism and the Psychoanalytic Metanarrative which was published in the Review of Existential Psychiatry and Psychology.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.
    [email protected]

  • Hi Maria,
    Despite your impassioned andeloquent statement there are a couple thing you do not understand and they are critical/
    Bob Whitaker above makes a powerful statement about ending the use of neuroleptic drugs. Although Breggin is against ALL drugs few people are. You cannot compare taking one Vicodin for a headache or Valium for insomnia to being placed on neuroleptics. I have long oppoised the puritanical attitude toward drugs.After I had a back injury I learned the value of “narcotics” when used cautiously. Sure there are people like Michael Jackson but that does not mean analgesics do not havea legitimate medical function.Neuroleptics do not-they were not introduced for the purpose of making “psychotics” lives easier–let alone to “cure” “schizophrenia.”. These drugs were introduced in the mid 1950s. They were given to “schizophrenics” who were expected to spend the rest of their lives in psychiatric hospitals. The psychiatrists hailed these drugs as “a chemical substitute for a lobotomy.” That was meant to be an endorsement. They made it possible to warehouse thousands of people in horrendous institutions and to keep them docile. They cause all kinds of serious physical problems, including tardive dyskinesia. They turn people into zombies.Up until recently they did not give them to “normal” people because they make it impossible for them to function–to work, to study to make love, to pass for a normal human being.(Yes if you take very low doses the effects are not as debilitating.)
    I knew these drugs kept people as “mental patients” back in 1988 when I got fired from a clinic for encouraging clients to get off these drugs–and SSRIs since they often seemed unnecessary. I think Breggin has unwisely diverted attention from neuroleptics by implying that ALL psychiatric drugs are the equally bad.That’s how he sounds anyway. They are not equal!. NOw Bob has presented incontrovertible evidence that “anti-psychotics” prevent people from recovering from their crises. This I have long argued is ironicAlly one of the reason shrinks still use these drugs.If people started getting over so called schizophrenia Psychiatry would lose its “sacred symbol” and the medical model would begin to lose its credibility.AS Sassz pointed out “schizophrenia is the linchpin in the medical model. Anyone in the reform movement should take the same position towards typical and atypical neuroleptics as they take toward electroshock. They should demand the abolition of its maintenance-use, if not of itsuse altogether. (Obviously some people have been on too long to get off–they’re the exception.) It is an evil drug that makes emotional crises chronic mental problem.
    It is to Bob’s credit that he has placed so called anti-psychotics in the center of the debate. It cannot be compared to the type of drugs that normal people often take and sometimes abuse, like Valium or Ativan or alcohol for that matter. Anybody who is genuinely in the reform movement must demand that shrinks stop putting people on “anti-psychotics.” Despite the name they cause a chronic state of disability that looks just like “mental illness.” They are “pro-psychotics.” Any psychiatrist who prescribes anti-psychotics (Except to people who can’t get off) should be boycotted. When the mental patients liberation movement started in 1970 the leaders knew how destructive these drugs were, and they started getting off them.
    Second Maria it’s irrelevant that they are some good psychiatrists. That’s not the point. It like telling me that you have met some good soldiers and thus you feel you have to support the military and war. You have to look at the institution, at the structural factors that lead most psychiatrists to prescribe unnecessary drugs. The reason we have wars is not because they are necessary for nationa security–both Bush’s war and Obama’s war(s) have created far many more terrorists than they have destroyed. And look at all the other costs of these wars. Look at the civilians killed and maimed in Afghanistan, the sky high suicide rate among American soldiers.
    Look at the cost in terms of liberty. The fact that there are nice soldiers is irrelevant. As Eisenhower predicted in 1960
    we hAve wars because there is a military industrial complex which profits from wars–and now we have a anti”terrorism” industrial complex which has destroyed the basis of our Constitutional republic. (Sorry NSA, I’m just kidding you.) So as Peter Breggin showed, in 1978 changes were made in APA rules which led to the growth of a massive psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex. The fact that there are good psychiatrists is not going to stop the drugging of America or the diseasing of America.
    In the same way that the MIC profits from wars the PPIC complex profits from diseases and
    drugging. Appealing to the goodwill of generals will not end war BECAUSE war is profitable. Appealing to the goodwill of psychiatrists will not end the diseasing of America because diseases are profitable. Of course we should welcome the dissidents. I am a dissident. I became one when I encouraged my “schizophrenic: client in a clinic in 1988 to get off anti-psychotics. I was fired but my faith in John gave him faith in himself.
    He was 25 then and had been a “schizophrenic” for 7 years. He got off the drugs on his own and today 25 years later he has not taken a drug since or been locked up since. No one could ever guess he ever was a “schizophrenic.” But back in 1988 I was the only psychologist who took this position.His parents had dragged him all over. But his NAMI mother walked out when I said John could get off drugs and over his problems. Anyone else taking the position I took today 25yearslater would also be fired. John had never heard what I told him before. If our paths had not crossed he would be a chronic schizophrenic today.
    THE PPIC does not hire therapists who warn patients to get off of drugs. Thus the good will of dissidents is not enough to change the system.
    If you don’t understand these two facts–the crazy-making properties of neuroleptics and the power of the PPIC– you just do not understand the forces we are up against.
    Right now we should follow the British and demand the end of psychiatric labeling, ie diagnosis. We should also demand as Bob implies the abolition of the use of neuroleptic drugs. These along with opposition to coercive treatment are critical. They are currently outside our power but they are good educational tools. Other demands however useful are tangential and do not get to the heart of the issue.
    Best, Seth
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • I remember now I spoke to Maria at ISEPP about 5 or 6 years ago. This was after Peter Breggin went nuts and alienated half his followers by saying that they had a mental disorder–“Americapohobia.” ISEPP was the non-Breggin group, the one David oaks joined. She was very helpful to me. But she clearly does not understand the critique of bio-psychiatry by the dissidents including Breggin who seems to have resolved his belated mid-life crisis.
    It is noble that Maria volunteers for ISEPP. But her work there contradicts what she says here.

    Thanks Duane for the reference for Maria’s statement. First of all I had suggested that a primary care physician could coordinate
    the non-psychiatric medical assessment (Maria’
    s suggested such an assessment) of people who are psychiatrically labeled, instead of a psychiatrist. Of people who want to go through such a process. She responded, “Most primary care physicians do not have training to deal with patients in psychotic states.” Ha! This comment indicates Maria does not agree with the perspective of ISEPP or MIA. It is the very opposite of what most people are saying here: The training of psychiatrists does not equip them to deal with people in psychotic states. To the contrary they are trained to objectify them and see them as Others, not to let their barriers down, not to bridge the distance between them. Maria then quotes a primary care doctor, a DO, to prove the point that they had a patronizing attitude toward so called psychotics. One statement would not prove anything but Maria omission of relevant data is suggestive of her pro-psychiatric orientation. I had predicted Maria had misquoted it because as she presented it it did not belong on MIA.
    The DO claimed his patient had a broken brain. Had his patient been a “psychotic” this would have been unacceptable but his patient was in fact a woman who had suffered serious brain damage! The DO said, that “she was a 31 year old blond woman with a history of traumatic brain injury and partial hemiplegia.” This is entirely different. Thomas Szasz never denied that there were people with brain damage. I would say that this DO has never heard of neuroplasticity
    and thus was unduly pessimistic. But that’s another point.
    Bob argues that psychiatry is (and will soon be proven to be) a failed medical
    profession. But Maria insists they are well equipped to care for the so called mentally ill. She only want to make sure there is no organic problem or a physical problem. So she advises psychiatrists to follow guidelines. But she evades the point Bob raises which is the basis of the critique of Psychiatry–its corruption due to its relationship with the drug industry.

    In fact she is critical of every other non-psychiatric approach to dealing with madness that eliminates or minimizes the role of psychiatrists and eliminates or minimizes the use of neuroleptic drugs.She mocks that two most effective programs. Maria is nice person with a kind heart but
    she has a divided mind. The problem with psychiatry is not a purely technical one that can be solved with guidelines. It is political, economic, ideological.

    Most orthomolecular practitioners I have known have been reluctant to get”psychotic” patients off drugs.They have accepted the psychiatric paradigm. The ones that do not use drugs should be commended. My problem with them is that they accept psychiatric diagnosis. Study after study has shown that the efficacy of a drug is correlated with the quality of the “patients” trust and rapport with her therapist. Thus the placebo effect is enhanced by interpersonal factors. I have not seen research on orthomolecular approach and psychosis but the success of millions of people getting off neuroleptics
    suggests that in most cases madness is caused by social factors. Tht may also be true of orthomolecular treatments.

    Nevertheless as I stated the success rate of OD is only 80%. It should be 100%.Orthomolecular doctors (they need not be psychiatrists) who foreswear the use of neuroleptics may have a contribution to make.
    But the first thing most of us dissidents agree about is psychologists have too much power, and they have abused that power. That issue must not be shelved.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Thanks John,
    Oh yes it was completely deterministic. Masson paints the same picture as I did in his memoir on it, Final Analysis–and Masson was a stringent atheist. If you were “schizophrenic” you did not do better under the Freudians. Probably worse because they were subject to a a kind of apartheid–exclusion, segregation. But the Freudians had a caste system whereas today it’s an industry that drugs everyone. There were a couple of Freudian exceptions like Bertram Karon.
    Pagels book is seminal. Yes a lot of new scholarship puts Paul in a better light. The Lutherans imputed all these individualistic ideals to him. He was a radical egalitarian and appreciated by John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas etc
    Read Paul Among the Postliberaks by Doug Harinck .
    PS Many of the admirers of Augustine are talking about Confessions. It’s the City of God that is thoroughly misanthropic.
    My conclusions about Freudianism Julie were formed before I studied the Christian narrative. It was not seen through that prism. Rather later I used those analogies to bring out the authoritarian and misanthropic nature. You cannot help anyone if you view them that way as you already stated. Therapy CAN be helpful, sometimes necessary but studies have shown an untrained English professor was just s effective with depressed college students as a mental health professionals with years of experience. I have most hope for Open Dialogue, Soteria and Hearing Voices Network
    Masson and others showed FReud was a thorough misogynist. No woman (or enlightened man) familiar with Freud’s therapy with women could have any respect for him. His asic worldview–influenced by anti-Semitic pseudo-science– is well described by Sanford Gilman.

  • Julie,
    BTW John is right about Masson’s critique of Freud, but that’s another story. Actually Masson captured the Freudian life-world best in his memoir Final Analysis.
    I suspect Julie from what you say that you are too young to know the psychoanalytic culture. Although your sociological description is enlightening to me. Thank you for the description. It seems psychoanalysis is stronger there–unless it is just in London. Although it’s20 years since I worked in a clinic and attended case conferences my impression is that Freudianism has been eclipsed–and good riddance. You were not in grad school in the 1970s or early 80s.Right? Or else the UK was very different–but I doubt it from what you say. It was impossible to study psychology in grad school in the US in that era without being inducted into the Freudian world. It was not original Freudianism but object-relations as you say.
    I admit I found it seductive, even though from the start I adopted the heresy that schizophrenia was “curable.” There were a few that said that (eg Searles, Rosen who turned out to be abusive, but not many.) Yes indeed the patient cannot escape the label because the construct was not falsifiable, a common critique of Freudianism but one that did not bother them. They regarded such Popperian demands as a sign of philistinism. They managed to maintain their prestige with platitudes like, “It’s an art, not a science.”
    Because I was a Freudian–I’m going to say I was a “Neo-Freudian” (expanding its meaning beyond the small group who took that as a brand name) and because I had an interest in spirituality once I had my epiphanies I realized that psychoanalysis was based on a deep structure that it shared with Augustinianism. At first I did not know about the intricacies of the original sin narrative–which is a perversion of Christianity.(There are a couple Christian here at MIA who accuse me of being anti-Christian every time I say this–or at least they used to. They refuse to accept that I am just opposed to one particular interpretation of Christianity-the one they seem to favor. I even converted to Christianity in 1990 after a mystical experience in order to utilize its profound resources. Although My background is secular Jewish, Judaism did not have much appeal to me.) But I had read enough literature to intuitively grasp that to say someone is “mentally ill” is akin to asserting their soul is defective, diseased,tainted by original sin. To deny the soul is flawed is proof that you are resisting the truth. Like you say it is a Catch
    After this I charted the deep structure of psychoanalysis, its metanarrative and showed its astonishing isomorphism with Augustinianism, as contrasted for example to St Gregory of Nyssa who believed in universal salvation. A psychoanalyst must start as an analysand. I never underwent orthodox analysis but I was in analytic therapy while I was practicing therapy. I had this epiphany and I realized everything was filtered through this basic stance, that the core of my being is flawed: There is something wrong with me.
    And since I was so convinced of that any assertion to the contrary was an act of evasion. I remember one time my supervisor rebuked me for discussing a client as if she was a teleological being instead of a cluster of symptoms. “She is deeply pathological” my supervisor said. At first I accepted it but I became aware that the more I saw my client in those terms the more unconsciously inclined I was to interpret my own actions as symptoms of my pathology. So you see this is the root of the problem you describe, Julie.
    Gradually I became to see the possibility of an alternative.(I can’t tell that long story here.) That would start with an act of courage–the courage to assert: “There is nothing wrong with me.” And to make the same assertion of my clients. Ultimately it rested on a metaphysical premise–the soul was not defective. In theological terms the soul was created in the image of God, and retained the image after the Fall. So you see there is no way out of the psychoanalytical hermeneutical circle–even the successful patient (and only a very few qualified for psychoanalysis, and even fewer successfully completed it) remained defective. The damage could never be completely undone–just like the narrative of original sin. Even the saved remained unworthy.
    The metanarrative was so seductive– it was a tragic narrative, and its allure appeal to masochism. After I made this discovery I was able to “save” many clients as long as I caught them in the beginning–e.g.,when they were 25 or younger. I conveyed to them that life was difficult and they might indeed have picked up some bad habits but there was nothing wrong with them. That was a great relief for most of them because they had been worried they WERE defective, a fear stoked by the Freudian therapists… My own explorations led me as time went on to approach the issue theologically. In my Eastern Christian book I asserted that the soul was holy and divine.
    Frankly I never came across anyone else
    who made a theological critique of psychoanalysis. If I were to teach Freudianism in grad school it would be as comparative religion.
    Since it was disguised as science in the age of Science it was all the more difficult to break out of it. The doctor pronounced you have a borderline disorder. That means you are lacking in worth–deep down a worthless wretch. Not the brain as you mistakenly said. No for Freudians it was the mind or psyche that was defective.Unlike Augustinianism the patient did not deserve to suffer. Unlike Adam the adult child of inadequate parents was not evil, only pitiful and contemptible. Once you were an apprentice analyst (albeit eclectic) you viewed all patients through the grid of medical terms which fixed down low the ceiling of the patients’ aspirations. The borderline–like the other pd’s– had a defective or flawed ego.It needed to be firmed up by superficial, “supportive”, therapy.But the patient could not expect to be able to love, only to survive–Freudians regarded the borderline in most cases as incurable, tragic. Read Fairbairn for a poignant literary account.
    In Eastern Christianity as well as other forms of Christianity as well as Hinduism the divinity of the soul was asserted. This evoked feelings of reverence and love. Freudianism dismissed all religion as superstition. Instead the borderline was pitiful, contemptible and I remember in our cases conferences we spoke of these patients with a mixture of pity and revulsion.
    Because I was a true believer and because I converted from Freudianism to Christianity and neo-Hinduism I believe I know why it is so harmful, and why it is so hard to break out of–not to say there could not be a truly humanist version of psychoanalysis albeit a long way from Freud.
    Neo-Freudianism is a bewitching narrative and to fully break away, the therapist has to replace it with another narrative, another paradigm. You can find the narrative I ultimately embraced–although I would call myself a educator and an advocate not a therapist– described in my new book, The Spiritual Gift of Madness… It is to Sri Aurobindo that I remain most indebted for this narrative, although Christianity left its mark upon me.
    For the young patient the respect of the older therapist may be enough to alleviate the fear she is defective, and unworthy of love. For the Mad activist the narrative of political struggle and liberation becomes enthralling–along with the respect of her peers. See L. Morrison’s Talking Back to Psychiatry.
    To quote one of my essays which summarizes my Christian humanist critique of Freudianism in my book Eternal Day:”Psychoanalysts have been writing a tragic story about the human situation. One cannot read psychoanalytic literature without being overwhelmed by a profound sense of pathos, without being haunted by a sense of “It could have been” and “almost.” As in a dream one can faintly hear the strains of a mournful tune accompanied by the psychoanalytic refrain: “It could have been …. It could have been …. It could have been.”
    “Northrop Frye in his classic text described the hero of the tragic story: “The tragic hero has normally had an extraordinary, often a nearly divine destiny almost within his grasp, and the glory of that original vision never quite fades out of tragedy … While catastrophe is a normal end of tragedy, this is balanced by an equally significant original greatness, a paradise lost” (Frye, 1973, p.210, Emphasis added). This is the “almost” that haunts the psychoanalytic tale. The psychoanalytic hero, of course, is the newborn infant who possesses a whole ego, a psyche of pristine purity and integrity, who has a nearly divine destiny almost within his or her grasp, but whose ego is then irreparably damaged by the very individuals who cherish the greatest hope for the infant child: his or her parents.
    “Psychoanalytic literature betrays a nostalgia for a past that never was, for a “might have been” that is a figment of the imagination. This, of course, is ironic, because psychoanalysis announced its arrival as a power that had come both to reveal that human beings are fixated on the past and to liberate them from that fixation. It cannot fulfill that aspiration: it cannot forge a trail to a brighter future. For the psychoanalyst, the vision of what could have been is vivid and resplendent, whereas the vision of what could be is at best tarnished and obscure. For the neo-Freudian, as for the Augustinian, the past is far more real than the future.” Needless to say bio-psychiatry is even less satisfying as a narrative. Ultimately the human need for a redemptive-messianic vision will reassert itself. Bio-psychiatry will be swept away just as Freudianism was. It remains to be seen what kind of unifying narrative will emerge to enable humanity to find the courage to subdue those forces of Ignorance which are destroying the earth and the faith to forge a trial through the darkness to the new day, to the eternal dawn.

    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Hi Maria
    Thanks for your response.
    Congratulations for your good work.
    This has nothing to do with a battle between psychologists and psychiatrists. You obviously don’t know much about the “mental health” system in America.
    My position is as heretical among psychologists as psychiatrists. I despise the entire mental death system. I have no identification with psychologists who are clamoring to get prescription rights.
    I am not advocating more power to psychologists.
    But you have evaded Bob’s point. Although you have been a victim of psychiatrists you have no objection with vesting more power in their hands although as Bob shows they have consistently abused it. Considering their symbiotic relationship with the drug cartels it is unlikely they will change. They are pimps for the drug companies. Yet you avoid this issue altogether Maria.

    You write, “Most primary care physicians do not have training to deal with patients in psychotic states.”
    And what value is the so called training of psychiatrists? Is that a joke? It is of no value. Most patients I know have been traumatized and harmed by their treatment by trained psychiatrists. You are not being consistent. The psychiatrists are the most dangerous persons. If there is a need to search for physical problems let it be done by specialists who are referred to patients by primary care physicians. The training of shrinks only makes them more arrogant and destructive
    When you talk like this you sound like an apologist for psychiatry and the mental health system.

    Although I accept that many “psychotics” have medical problems unlike you I have found most of them are suffering from problems of living–and this is why Soteria and OD are so successful.

    Back in 1989 I wrote “Psychiatric treatments” in mental hospitals are for the most part forms of physical and emotional abuse. Psychiatric “diagnoses” are demeaming labels without any scientific validity. The psychiatric Establishment is pushing dangerous drugs which they euphemistically call “medication.” Treatments in this century have ranged from revolving chairs to lobotomies
    to electrical assaults on the human brain to neurologically damaging drugs. There has been no revolution in the treatment of individuals who are psychiatrically labeled: it is an unbroken history of barbaric practices, justified by professionals as medical procedures designed to control patients’ ostensible mental diseases.” It has only gotten worse since then. But you think the problem can be solved by imploring psychiatrists to send patients to other doctors for specialized examinations?

    As long as you leave power in the hands of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex, nothing will change. You need to transfer power to patients themselves. A visit to a specialist is fine
    but not as a substitute for changing the system. It is the centralization of power and the disenfranchisement of “mental patients” that is the main problem. Yet you think the main problem is a technical error.

    You wrote:

    “We should consider what a primary care physician wrote on his MIA blog about one of his patients:

    “She is a difficult patient, a bottomless pit of needs with no coping mechanisms, and I don’t have a clue how to help her. She is truly a “broken brain”–literally–and will always be disabled. In her case, keeping her semi-sedated makes some sense–to spare herself and society the legal and criminal consequences of her mind unleashed. It seems to be what she wants.””

    I find it hard to believe anyone would write this on MIA. It is disgusting. I think you misread it. I bet it was criticism of this position. If not please tell me who wrote it. If you are correct I will ask that such a person be prohibited from posting here. It is the worst kind of bigotry and does not belong on this website. Please give me the information. If you prefer to do it offline write me at:
    [email protected]\
    AT any rate it is not typical–psychiatrists are usually worse precisely BECAUSE they think their mis-training equips them to help the so called mentally ill.

    You write: “Because psychosis involves people who are a “threat to society”, the law entrusts psychiatry with our care.” They are not a threat to society and the fox should not be guarding the chicken coop.
    PS I am going to quote Bob again:But, if psychiatry doesn’t amend its protocols, and if psychiatry doesn’t sponsor new research to best reach these goals, then—and I know no other way to say this—then I think psychiatry will have to be seen, by mainstream society, as a failed medical discipline. Psychiatry will no longer be able to claim that its practices are evidence-based and driven by a desire to achieve the best possible outcomes for its patients. Instead, the lack of change will be evidence that its prescribing practices are, in fact, driven by an ideology, which is to maintain a societal belief that antipsychotics are a necessary long-term treatment for psychotic disorders, and that it is more important for the profession to maintain that belief than it is to help those it treats to have the best chance possible to achieve a good functional outcome, which is the outcome that counts.

  • Half of what I wrote disappeared! I don’t have time to recapitulate. Briefly Like all Priesthoods the Freudians determined who had status. The “schizophrenics” were at the bottom of the caste hierachy. They were non-persons. Above them were “personality disorders” particularly narcissistic and borderlines. Supposedly they were incapable of intimacy although a small elite could be saved if they spent years in “supportive therapy” and then underwent–if they qualified– REAL psychoanalysis. This was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Szasz aptly described
    the psychoanalytic project as “existential cannibalism.” The Freudians derived their own status as brilliant theorists and humanistic professionals by destroying the meaning that other people gave to their lives. The gays realized this and thus gay psychiatrists lobbied to get homosexuality declassified as an illness. Briefly my critiques in the 10 yrs after I finished grad school were directed against Freudianism. I argued that it was a firm of secular Augustinianism (itself a perversion of Christianity) with its doctrine of original sin and predestination. (Two of my books were published by Christian presses as I counterposed to the Augustinian narrative a more humanistic Christian narrative–one which found supporters in various Christian confessions, including Catholicism.I mention this because I have been unfairly accused of being anti-Christian but my critique was aimed at both secular and religious people who adopted the kind of views Szasz criticized )

    At any rate my point is that the idea of personality disorders is rooted in psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic era. Bio-psychiatry should be repudiated but so should all psychiatric diagnosis.We need to know the history of the field–it did not begin with bio-psychiatry. What is salient about the latter is that it subjects millions more people to psychiatric drugging. Psychiatry today is not a corrupt Priesthood but an industry.But let’s not falsify and romanticize the past. There was no golden age of psychiatry. Problems in living are not symptoms of defective personalities.
    I wrote a number of essays critical of the Freudian paradigm(and books) but one was reprinted online, ironically by a progressive psychoanalytic group.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Julie, As I said there was a non-biological “medical model”
    before the rise of bio-psychiatry. Many people here are unaware that when Thomas Szasz became famous for his attack on the “medical model,” bio-psychiatry was unheard of. Every graduate psychology program I applied to in the mid 70s was psychoanalytic. Every clinic was psychoanalytic. The psychoanalysts dominated within the grad school programs. They were the ones who decided what was “sick” and what was healthy.” THIS WAS A MEDICAL MODEL because the rot metaphor was mental illness. The Psychoanalysts were in effect the psychiatric Priesthood. They were just as oppressive to the “mentally ill” as the bio-psychiatrists today but they did not have the drug cartels backing them. The only people who did well under the Freudians were well to do “neurotics” who were willing to spend years in psychoanalysis.
    In the 1970s the idea of personalities disorders became popular due to the works of Freudians like Kohut, Kernberg, Masterson and others.
    They were influenced by the English “object-relations” school started by Fairbairn. The psychoanalytic dogma was that those with personality disorders were incurable.
    I could go into a whole description of this theory–I was a Freudian before I became an apostate–but I don’t have the time. But the theory was pernicious and oppressive. The mental patients’ liberation movement arose in the early 1970s in the heyday of psychoanalysis. The idea that Freudianism was more humanitarian than bio-psychiatry is a popular myth. Leonard Frank always called psychoanalysis the velvet glove on the iron fist of Psychiatry.
    Psychoanalysts were the Priesthood.
    Like Szasz I am opposed to ALL psychological diagnosis, to all efforts to attribute problems in living to mental disorders.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  • Thanks Bob for the forceful and lucid statement.
    Maria–Dr Mangicaro?– does not comment on it. Instead she posts
    BMJ’s guidelines. The problem with these guidelines is that aside from recognizing “psychotic” symptoms may be caused by physical disorders it affirms the conventional understanding of “mental illness” that had been deconstructed by the best minds in the field on Mad in America blog.
    There is no reason why a psychiatrist is necessary to do the medical tests that could determine whether some other condition is causing the problem. Of course it should be done. Open Dialogue has only an 80% reported success rate. It should aim for 100%.
    Nevertheless Open Dialogue and Soteria did a hell of a lot better than conventional treatment. That is partly as Bob shows because neuroleptics are so dis–abling. See also Peter Breggin.
    In light of their relative success the medical model ought to be replaced–as the British Psychological Society (Clinical Division) has recently recommended.(THe BPS is the counterpart of the American Psychological Association–which is way behind the SPS.) And practicing professionals or psychiatrists like Ms or Dr Mangicaro ought to be a little less arrogant about the pioneers at Open Dialogue. She writes, “While Open Dialogue and Soteria are nice concepts, I would think any reasonable person would conclude that the care of “psychotic” patients should be entrusted to those who implement best practice assessment standards.” They are more than nice concepts.
    To repeat there is no reason why best practice
    assessment should be placed in the hands of psychiatrists when they have repeatedly broken the Hippocratic Oath. A general practitioner
    could oversee the process just as she would if the poroblem was not defined as “psychiatric.”
    Furthermore I don’t recall Bob’s treatment of Henry Cotton’s work at Trenton State Mental Hospital but I do remember Andrew Scull’s.And I’m sure Bob account is consistent with Scull’s. Henry Cotton did not discover that many so called schizophrenics were suffering from abscessed wisdom teeth. Cotton had the theory that the etiology of “schizophrenia” was infected teeth. He had no test to prove this–he assumed it. Thus he removed thousands of teeth from patients under his care. Perhaps because the results were disappointing Cotton’s theory evolved. He came to believe schizophrenia was caused by other infected organs. He had no test to prove this–it was his premise.
    To quote from a book review of Scull’s book Madhouse: “Cotton started his operations in 1917 on the hypothesis that madness could be caused by local infections. Teeth, even when X-rays showed no problems, were only the beginning of the bodily culprits to be removed. If patients were unwilling to undergo these surgical procedures, such obstruction was viewed as a reflection of their diminished mental capacities.”
    Just as today a patient’s unwillingness to accept that she is mentally ill is viewed as evidence of their illness rather than a rational response to being treated with a toxic drug.
    If the removal of the teeth did not result in restoring the patient to normality Cotton looked for other infected organs. As Wikipedia notes,”If a cure was not achieved after these procedures, other organs were suspected of harboring infection. Testicles, ovaries, gall bladders, stomachs, spleens, cervixes, and especially colons were suspected as the focus of infection and removed surgically.[1]” Since
    there were no antibiotics in the 1930s the mortality rate was quite high.Even the patients who lived often did not fare well.Those without colons had to live with a colostomy bag. Others were debilitated after the removal of testicles andovaries. As I recall thousands of patients died. This did not prevent Cotton from being lauded by his cohorts, just as Moniz was given a Nobel prize for his invention of the lobotomy. Cotton died in the mid-30s but these operations continued at Trenton State until the early 1960s.
    So you see Dr Mangicaro you got the story wrong.You haveunderestimated the harm done by the medical model. Your general point is of course correct– emotional distress may indeed be caused by a physical disorder.
    But you must take into account the problem with the medical model–it has been thoroughly explored on this website. If there is a medical problem at the root of emotional distress, it is not a problem for the psychiatrist.
    I think Bob’s conclusion is more than fair: If psychiatry continues its promiscuous and unjustifiable prescription of neuroleptics as I’m sure it will, “this will be a medical story of continuing harm done, and, I would argue, it would be reason for our society to conclude that the care of “psychotic” patients can no longer be entrusted to the psychiatric profession.” Whatever the blindspots of Soteria and Open Dialogue they are minor compared to the willful blindness of a profession that profits from its symbiotic relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and that has done immense damage to millions of people in the 20th century. The vast majority of people labeled “mentally ill” are suffering from problems of living. They do not have a “mental illness” or a brain defect or other illnesses, yet psychiatry refuses to learn from its mistakes.It refuses to ask why a group of para-professionals at Soteria were so much more effective than the creeme de la creme. Have YOU asked yourself that question? I doubt it although you do admit Open Dialogue is “nice.”
    That’s big of you.
    This is not a new problem. No one has criticized Cotton except Scull and Whitaker. In The NY Times it was written in 1922, “At the State Hospital at Trenton, N.J., under the brilliant leadership of the medical director, Dr. Henry A. Cotton, there is on foot the most searching, aggressive, and profound scientific investigation that has yet been made of the whole field of mental and nervous disorders… there is hope, high hope… for the future.”
    Ha ha.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.