Comments by Susannah Senerchia

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  • Indeed… “Because that would make us have to think about our own childhood maltreatment which we are repressing, and we are really scared of that and don’t want to do that, so we will deny child abuse anywhere and everywhere out in the world too, just like we deny our own.” (not a conscious thought process) C.f. Alice Miller “The Psychiatrists’ Campaign Against the Act of Remembering”

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  • Further, Steve: everyone’s brain is different because brains develop in response to the environment. Our brains are not fully formed when we are born; in the first few years of our lives our brains develop rapidly, particularly the limbic or emotional part of the brain, and after that the cognitive part. How it wires is highly dependent on the inputs it receives. So this is what I find massively missing from this conversation about different brains: an awareness of how they got that way.

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  • Oh yes, I will always mention Alice Miller, because like you I think her theories (explanations) are complete and were almost everything I needed to be able to heal the longstanding issues/trauma that I couldn’t find proper therapeutic help for, or couldn’t afford. Reading her books was the best-quality therapy I’ve ever received, and certainly the cheapest. If everyone could read and understand her books we’d have a much different world. She’s apparently “world-renowned” in some circles but not nearly as well-known as she should be. I’m with you on the reading requirement for all young adults, it’d be more important than all the other required reading students are made to do put together!

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  • Indeed. And that lack of authenticity in the field is a reflection of the repressed childhood trauma of those practitioners and academics who keep up the charade. This points to how widespread and serious of a problem childhood trauma is in our society, how far-reaching its effects. It’s not just the “patients” who are suffering from it; it’s the “authorities” and “helpers” who are avoiding dealing with their own pain by passing it off (inflicting it) onto their patients and others. Alice Miller wrote a fantastic chapter in her book Breaking Down the Wall of Silence that goes into this, explaining how psychiatrists et al. are avoiding dealing with their own trauma by traumatizing their patients and living in denial. It’s chapter 3, “The Psychiatrists’ Campaign Against the Act of Remembering,” and I believe the following chapter “Blindman’s Buff and the Flight from Facts in Psychoanalysis” continues the same theme

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  • Birdsong,

    In civilization we tend to have a poor view of human nature, because there is so much unchecked narcissism and unresolved trauma running rampant. But when Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost, went to live amongst an indigenous tribe in Venezuela, she found something completely different: they had a very positive view of human nature and as a result were able to raise very peaceful, pro-social children as a rule:

    And Dr. Peter Gray talks about how hunter-gatherer societies tend to practice “a system of ‘reverse dominance’ that prevented anyone from assuming power over others,” thus maintaining a very egalitarian climate for which they’re famous:

    “The writings of anthropologists make it clear that hunter-gatherers were not passively egalitarian; they were actively so. Indeed, in the words of anthropologist Richard Lee, they were fiercely egalitarian.[2] They would not tolerate anyone’s boasting, or putting on airs, or trying to lord it over others. Their first line of defense was ridicule. If anyone—especially some young man—attempted to act better than others or failed to show proper humility in daily life, the rest of the group, especially the elders, would make fun of that person until proper humility was shown.

    One regular practice of the group that Lee studied was that of ‘insulting the meat.’ Whenever a hunter brought back a fat antelope or other prized game item to be shared with the band, the hunter had to express proper humility by talking about how skinny and worthless it was. If he failed to do that (which happened rarely), others would do it for him and make fun of him in the process. When Lee asked one of the elders of the group about this practice, the response he received was the following: ‘When a young man kills much meat, he comes to think of himself as a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his inferiors. We can’t accept this. We refuse one who boasts, for someday his pride will make him kill somebody. So we always speak of his meat as worthless. In this way, we cool his heart and make him gentle.’

    On the basis of such observations, Christopher Boehm proposed the theory that hunter-gatherers maintained equality through a practice that he labeled reverse dominance. In a standard dominance hierarchy—as can be seen in all of our ape relatives (yes, even in bonobos)—-a few individuals dominate the many. In a system of reverse dominance, however, the many act in unison to deflate the ego of anyone who tries, even in an incipient way, to dominate them.

    According to Boehm, hunter-gatherers are continuously vigilant to transgressions against the egalitarian ethos. Someone who boasts, or fails to share, or in any way seems to think that he (or she, but usually it’s a he) is better than others is put in his place through teasing, which stops once the person stops the offensive behavior. If teasing doesn’t work, the next step is shunning. The band acts as if the offending person doesn’t exist. That almost always works. Imagine what it is like to be completely ignored by the very people on whom your life depends. No human being can live for long alone. The person either comes around, or he moves away and joins another band, where he’d better shape up or the same thing will happen again. In his 1999 book, Hierarchy in the Forest, Boehm presents very compelling evidence for his reverse dominance theory.”

    This makes me think that narcissism going unchecked is closely tied to our move away from small, peaceful, egalitarian, nature-based tribes to large, hierarchical, unjust, violent civilizations. I’m just not sure what causes the initial failure of those checks on narcissism; or, why so many people in the tribe become traumatized and are unable to heal.

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  • It is indeed very hazardous. After disappointments & retraumatizations with many therapists of different kinds, I eventually found Alice Miller to be my best and only trusted therapist. After reading her ~11 books and nearly everything else she’s written, I’ve been hard-pressed to find even once sentence of hers that hasn’t rung true or has rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t think I’ve found even one sentence. The woman could see things clear as day. She has given me the safety, understanding, validation and advocacy that has allowed my healing to unfurl like no one else had. Some somatic therapies I pursued prior to landing on her books probably helped open me up to be ready for them.

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  • This is exactly it Birdsong. It is too threatening, but in the best, healthiest way.

    “Narcissism often wears the badge of authority.” Spot on! And the more our parents were narcissistic and abused their authority, the less we will be able to recognize that narcissistic abuse in others, the less able we will be to confront authority, the more we will comply.

    I wouldn’t say the problem of unchecked narcissism is the story of humanity, but it is definitely the story of civilization(s). Civilization has only existed for 10,000 years at most and only in certain parts of the world; humanity has existed for much longer. I believe narcissism going unchecked is what causes civilizations to develop and metastasize.

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  • I haven’t watched the film yet, but I do know that Alice Miller started going through her own healing and came to many of her insights — and started writing — later in life, around age 60. That was obviously long after she had raised her children as, presumably, a still-unconscious, unhealed person. I don’t think this takes away from the validity and importance of her later work.

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  • I would think, at least hundreds, or thousands of years. Agriculture (the primary slavery-based system, upon which all the rest of it is built) is only 10,000 years old in certain parts of the world; in other parts, much younger. So, it may feel like millions of years, but really our wrong turn is a lot more recent.


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  • How does explaining how intergenerational trauma works guarantee it will continue and get worse? To me it seems the opposite – it will help us finally make sense of it all.

    A caveat should have been added that those “conditions” described are themselves caused by C-PTSD, which is a cycle that repeats if it doesn’t get repaired. That, I agree with.

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  • Our ancestors had much better lives than we do, what’s not to want to go back to? They had everything we want, except all the “stuff” we produce that’s clogging up & destroying the Earth & not making us happy anyway. I recommend reading John Zerzan’s anti-civilization writings (e.g. Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization) or, for an easier start, In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations by Jerry Mander. That hunter-gatherers had worse lives and we have better ones now is one of the main myths/bits of brainwashing that keeps the pathology of our society churning away.

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  • Hi Sam et al.,

    The Earth actually naturally provides for all our needs, if only we stop abusing and destroying her. The cult of work and addiction to money – which is a fake substance that in reality, in nature, can’t satisfy any real needs – are ironically destroying the very things we depend on for survival. The choice is not between industrialized capitalism and industrialized socialism but between continuing on our path to complete ecological and social collapse or choosing to go in the opposite direction – contracting rather than expanding (materially, “economically,” in numbers, in ambitions) – and yet expanding rather than contracting, too (emotionally and spiritually). Returning to our roots and to the original, natural, sustainable way of living that allowed our species to thrive for most of its history, before we took a wrong turn with agriculture, civilization, ruling classes, slave/”working” classes, institutionalized abuses and generational traumas, empires and ever-worsening extraction, exploitation and ecocide.

    We don’t even need to “produce” much to survive and thrive, in reality – if we got in touch with our original way of living, we could simply make use of what the Earth freely provides. By taking only what we need and giving back as much as we get, we ensure balance and sustainability, respect and equitability. There are so many ideas and habits of thinking that have been programmed into us over centuries of civilization that it’s necessary to deprogram ourselves out of in order to truly get back in touch with our lost health and integrity, both as individuals and collectively.

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  • That last paragraph – “We are so used to these empty rituals that it’s easy to stop questioning them, because it seems like if we did, that’s all we would ever do. But of course, the reverse is closer to the truth– if none of us put up with this crap, it probably wouldn’t continue.” So true and well said. It will take more and more of us examining our lives and everything around us, and having the courage to go against the flow.

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  • That’s just pure insanity and I can’t believe that actually happens. If someone is taken against their will to a so-called “hospital,” didn’t want the “service” and didn’t ask for it, how can you possibly charge them for that??? I just can’t understand what’s going on, like is everyone completely out of their minds? How do we allow such insanity to become institutionalized in our country? Things that make zero sense in any way shape or form, that are basically unthinkable, are just our de facto policies here, everyday affairs. And not enough people bat an eye!!! It boggles the mind. This is an insane society. The people that get called insane or “mentally ill” are not the crazy ones. The so-called normal ones are. That’s been said many times in these anti-psych circles but it’s so true.

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  • Not sure what you’re getting at, Alex? Did you look into their bios?

    “He completed a Master’s Degree in Public Health at the University of New Mexico, and has worked for decades in the mental health sector with a strong interest in cultural aspects and social determinants of health…His main areas of interest are: mental health problems as part of the ‘recovery’ model, research on historical trauma, integration of culturally effective approaches, social determinants of health, coordination and integration of mental and physical health assistance, teaching and supervision of Native American students at the ‘Center for Native American Health’ (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque).”

    “She edited the Italian edition of Peter Breggin’s book ‘Psychiatric drug withdrawal – a manual for prescribers, therapists, patients and their families.'”

    “She carried out an internship at the ASL of Grosseto following a joint project to support victims of violence…She has lectured extensively on issues relating to violence from a psychosocial, family and legal perspective.”

    (from above) “We will emphasize the role of ‘lived experience’ and the testimony of people who live and face daily the reality of emotional distress as a valid and reliable form of practice-based knowledge.”

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  • Unconditional love trumps fear because as humans/mammals, belonging to a group is one of our most profound biological/psychological needs. The kind of creatures we are are not designed to survive and live on our own. Mammal brains – the “limbic” or second lobe of our three-part brains to develop evolutionarily – function by “resonating” – connecting or interlocking – with other mammal brains. Without that, particularly in the first few years of life when the most brain growth, development and wiring are taking place, things go very wrong. This is why solitary confinement is classified as torture and is known to cause insanity (no doubt, particularly in people who were deprived of secure attachment as children).

    Unconditional, attentive love is a unique relationship that each and every one of us needs to develop healthily. Attachment, which describes a stable, secure and nurturing relationship – particularly of an infant with its primary caregiver(s), which creates lifelong resilience due to the aforementioned brain wiring phase – is one of the key fundamental building blocks of each human life, besides such things as oxygen, nourishment, freedom from physical harm, etc.

    This current technologized culture is largely blind to the mechanism and importance of attachment/love. That is why we see the ravages and injustices that we do – because too many people are being forced to develop without the most essential nourishment for their social-emotional brains. This causes, in addition to all “mental illness” and much physical illness, character issues, lack of empathy, anti-social behavior, etc.

    Also, contrary to current popular ideas, love is not something we can self-generate. Love and attachment refer literally to the connections *between* human beings, and the basis for that is a healthy period of *being on the receiving end* of ample nurturance as a child, which fortifies us with reserves of love that we are then able to give out to others.

    If we were an aware and intelligent society, we would pay much more attention to attachment and solidarity, and support parents in creating a time- and love-rich relationship with their young children to create healthy and pro-social future adults.

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  • Hi Steve, good points (and I hadn’t heard of opioid-induced hyperalgesia, but it makes sense – another frustrating angle in this whole topic), but just one thing – when you mention “addicted to,” do you mean “dependent on”? My understanding is that addiction is the more psychological phenomenon whereas dependence is the physical aspect where the body becomes accustomed to the drug, and that the two terms are often confused & used interchangeably when really they’re two separate issues.

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  • I can think of one mitigating factor where women are concerned, off the bat. As women we are permitted to be more emotional and more supportive of one another. People don’t bat an eye at women empathizing with each other, supporting, hugging and kissing each other, talking for hours, talking about feelings and experiences – how accepted is this for males? Males learn to bottle up their emotions much more and generally receive less empathy and emotional support in our society than females do. All of this is dangerous for their eventual boiling over/exploding. They often face more violent/dire life circumstances as well – they work more dangerous jobs, get sent to die in war, are more often faced with physical fights, etc. – and I feel our society’s decreasing empathy for what they face and deal with is perhaps aggravating the situation.

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  • Not all trauma is created equal, though – different types, severity/frequency, and the ages at which they happened will all play a role in the outcome. One of my favorite psychologists who explains this all so well, Dr. Faye Snyder – you can see a breakdown of how different trauma ingredients produce different outcomes in her book “The Predictor Scale: Predicting and Understanding Behavior According to Critical Childhood Experiences” – has a simple saying that sums up the mechanics well: “What goes in must come out. What doesn’t go in can’t come out” – for better or worse. There are many mitigating/compounding factors, but the bottom line is, well-nurtured/loved people generally do not hatch plans for mass murder. There is a rhyme and reason to all of this, and it behooves us to untangle what it all is.

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  • From Jeff Brown, from his upcoming book “Grounded Spirituality”:

    “It’s been my experience that the one that families call the ‘crazy one’ is often the sane one. This is particularly true in very dysfunctional families where ideas of healthy functioning are turned upside down. In these families, members often repress their authentic expression and turn against anyone who reminds them of their unresolved issues and patterns. As a result, the truth-speakers, the ones who refuse to contain their feelings, those who challenge the toxic status quo, are often scapegoated and vilified, made to feel crazy by those who lack the courage and insight to see beyond the family’s madness. If you have been labeled the ‘crazy one’, take heart. You are truly not alone. Most great creators and paradigm-shifters were met with fiery resistance by those afraid to grow. Whatever you do, do not allow your voice to be drowned out in the face of their judgments. Your voice, your vision, your ways of being, live at the heart of your unique soul’s journey and are the key to collective transformation. No one has the right to bury them under a bushel of shame. No one! And remember- what is crazy to an unconscious person is often brilliantly sane to one who is awakening. Without people like you, the world is lost. Blessed be the ‘crazy’ ones’!”

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  • Similarly, psychologist Dr. Bertram Karon puts forth: “Schizophrenia is a chronic terror syndrome. All of the symptoms of schizophrenia are either manifestations of the terror or defenses against it. Chronic terror blanches out most other emotions, which led Eugen Bleuler to the erroneous conclusion that schizophrenics have no affect. Many patients are helped by being told in the first or second session that you will not let anyone kill them.

    Schizophrenia is not genetic, 85% of patients do not have a first-order relative who has the diagnosis. Schizophrenia is not primarily a physiological disorder, the disordered physiology is the result of the chronic terror. The physiological changes are the same that everyone experiences when we are terrified. Of course there are also physiological changes which are the effect, usually destructive, of the psychiatric medications.

    It is now known that schizophrenics typically have suffered multiple traumas, as well as lesser bad experiences. Most of the traumatic experiences do not get in to the hospital record, but if you listen to the patients you will eventually learn about them. I have never treated a schizophrenic patient whose life as experienced by the patient would not have driven me, or anyone I could conceive of, crazy. People do not get sick because life has been good to them.”

    So, the causes of “schizophrenia” are known, by some, but as of now their voices are rarely listened to or heard in the mainstream, and there is a strong current of blindness to or avoidance of looking at and naming disordered parenting as causative

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  • A psychologist I greatly respect puts forth the following list of causes:

    “As children, schizophrenics suffer four injuries: 1) insufficient bonding that includes sensory deprivation and a profound lack of touch. They feel invisible, transparent and porous, as if they don’t have a container in which to exist; 2) intrusive parents who presume to read the child’s mind with invasive messages like, “I know what you are really thinking,” “I know you don’t mean what you said,” “No one would believe you;” 3) a major mind-blowing, terror-producing experience where no one says, “Wow, that was terrible!” or, “Wow, that was wrong!”‘ and 4) the child is not allowed his own point of view or perspective and cannot safely tell anyone how his life is going.”

    “It must be specifically said that the way psychiatrists historically treated their patients was schizogenic. In other words, if a parent treated her child the way psychiatrists treated their patients, the child would have become psychotic. As you will later read, the way to induce schizophrenia is to acutely or chronically injure a child, to then negatively and intrusively redefine that injury and his resulting feelings and thoughts so that the suffering was not suffering after all and the treatment was said to be humane. The child will never be allowed to recall the truth of what actually happened or express his authentic feelings. Feelings and memories are forever forbidden in order to protect the identity and interests of the abuser.”

    “Due to sensory deprivation from lack of touch, a bombardment of parental projections and a lack of quality personal interaction and communication around the child’s feelings and truth, the subconscious becomes more vivid and hallucinations begin to superimpose over reality when there is no real, material support. Traumatic experiences are definitive.”

    “lack of touch + intrusive parenting + extreme mental abuse + repression”

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  • Ditto. I often have a hyper focus and can be very analytical, but I would rather die than do STEM. I am much more interested in psychology, in a way that combines left brain and right brain in what I feel are the proper amounts. I am interested in the role of attachment in autism-like states (ever since discovering how attachment is – imo – the biggest & most tragically kept secret in human life/psychology/development). Ive recently been made aware of a few works on this autism-attachment connection, which I hope to look into at some pt, including “Arctic spring,” “The Protective shell in children & Adults,” & “Working the Organizing Experience – Transforming psychotic, schizoid, & Autistic states.” (Thanks, Matt S.!)

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  • I haven’t been able to read this through, but is there any mention of the role of early attachment in creating resiliency? If not, then there is no real understanding of psychology or mental health.

    Our culture has been obsessed with genetics both where psychology and physical health are concerned. In both areas, the role and power of genetics has been vastly overstated and over bought-into, in psychology probably more so. We utterly neglect and are ignorant of the many key environmental ingredients that go into creating personality and mental health or ill-health, and the (esp. early) psychological environment’s impact on physical health down the line.

    Genetics is a holy grail in today’s psychological and medical fields, but after decades and decades and millions of dollars worth of research, it has been leading us (esp. re: psychology and also but less so in medicine) mostly nowhere.

    c.f. –John Horgan’s “gene whiz” articles in Scientific American
    –Publications by Jay Joseph, PsyD
    –“When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection” by Gabor Mate, MD (“The war on cancer, for all its triumphs, has generally been a failure because it looks for the causes of malignancy in minute cellular mechanisms. As an astute observer has pointed out, attempting to find the cause of cancer on the cellular level is like trying to understand a traffic jam by examining the internal combustion engine.”)
    –“The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and The Causal Theory” by Faye Snyder, PsyD –> Explains the exact environmental mechanisms (children’s social and emotional needs which are either met or not by their parents) which go into creating mental health vs. ill-health, healthy personalities vs. all the personality disorders.

    Our society needs to become educated in *real* psychology and stop *assuming* genetic causation for which there is generally no real evidence anyway. Come on, people. The causes are right before our eyes. We just have to have the eyes and the knowledge to see them.

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  • I agree, Monica – Again, anything “biological” is seized upon in the hopes that ‘mental illness’ will be able to be attributed to purely organic, non-social phenomena (i.e. no one’s – except perhaps the sufferer’s – fault), and chronic stress & trauma are ignored. Are they asking the question, “From whence commeth all this inflammation & immune activity? Could it be that the psychological stress that is already known to be implicated in, well, psychological distress (otherwise known as m.i.) is also behind much of this inflammation & immune activity in the first place?” It’s almost as if many researchers and others have an agenda to avoid looking at chronic stress & trauma at all costs, to avoid looking at parenting and other social forces which shape growing bodies & minds & to implicate anything but.

    Have you read Dr. Mate’s book “When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection”? It is eye-opening. He explains thoroughly the exact ways in which psychological/emotional stress affects the immune and all the other systems of the body – since they are all connected – and can lead to all sorts of physical illness over time (autoimmune diseases [incl. ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, “and many other diseases that are not always recognized to be autoimmune in origin, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease”], cancers, ALS, cardiovascular disease, allergies, asthma, etc.). He describes a sort of medical “bermuda triangle” which has been swallowing up this type of research over the past decades resulting in the medical field’s neglect of and even bias against this very important cause & effect mechanism, but that a new field called “psychoneuroimmunology” is emerging which “studies the ways that the psyche–the mind and its content of emotions–profoundly interacts with the body’s nervous system and how both of them, in turn, form an essential link with our immune defenses… We are discovering the scientific basis of what we have known before and have forgotten, to our great loss.”

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  • “Feel upset about anything at all, you immediatley have a life long brain disease.”

    Love that.

    “…a continuing pulling down of communities and society, and an increasing reliance on the medical model to cure everything.”

    Indeed. Ignorant, harmful, and doesn’t work!

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  • Guess what also causes gut problems – chronic/acute stress (fear, worry, anger, etc. – emotional upset). You must also know that stress compromises the immune system. I believe that may people who see a connection between digestive/nutrition problems and “mental illness” of various kinds infer a causative relationship but it’s the wrong one. At least in the vast majority of cases, probably, the long-term emotional stress comes first, causing damage to the gut and the poor absorption is a result of that – not the other way around. Again, stress and trauma (including and maybe especially attachment trauma, which is very little understood & acknowledged in our society) are passed over and their extensive effects on the human body and spirit are not recognized.

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  • I absolutely agree. Thank you. Childhood and social/stress issues are I believe still the big underrecognized causes of distress (both physical and emotional/mental) in our society. I see this with physical illness too – the corrosive effects of emotional stress – which includes things like attachment trauma and isolation & loneliness which are on the rise – are not given the recognition they deserve in terms of the ravages they exact on the human body. Our society is fundamentally ignorant about key human interpersonal and emotional needs – as fluffybunny said, if you have not experienced something like attachment trauma and have had no reason to really learn much about it, you will not be able to imagine what it feels like and the devastation it wreaks on a human mind/body/life. None at all. It is vastly underrecognized and passed-over as a cause of illness both physical and mental.

    I find the last paragraph of this piece oddly telling –

    “Every one of us wants to solve the terrible problem of the epidemic of mental problems. With no new psychiatric drugs on the horizon, and growing concerns about the value of currently-available medications, the time is ripe to invest in assessing the extent to which micronutrient treatment may improve mental health in our society. And that’s all we are trying to do.”

    It sounds as if you are switching out one magic bullet for another (as if psychiatric drugs are the only real way we have of approaching these problems currently?), and continuing to focus on where the real problem (at least the vast majority of it) does not lie. I agree with fluffybunny. My prediction is that this focus on nutrition is exaggerated and that if anything, it might account for only a very small proportion of what gets called mental illness. The most important and widespread causes are still going neglected and simply not known or understood, or purposefully avoided, as usual.

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  • Yeeeeeeesssss….. This is what I’ve been going on about trying to get people to see. *Collective* and *social* problems are being misconstrued as *individual* and *internal,* and thus people are being asked to solve them on their own, which is absolutely nonsensical – the very opposite of what should be done. This in and of itself is just about enough to drive me mad. For such a technologically advanced society, we are extremely socially ignorant/backwards.

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  • Steve,
    But *why* was he a misogynistic abusive creep? Why do some people turn out that way, while others turn out with healthier and happier tendencies? Please see for a discussion of Elliot’s upbringing and the factors which more than likely led to his ending up in the position and with the feelings and drives that he did. These things happen for distinct reasons, and we need to be much better at understanding the causes and effects…

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  • Responding to B’s comment which begins: “A few points there.”

    Re: “I don’t think anyone is disputing that genes…contribute to how you react to trauma or stress (that includes how much trauma you can take and what the reaction is going to be). That is called personality.”

    Well, I for one have reason to doubt that genes are responsible for individual personality differences and resiliency. The alleged science backing up that assertion seems to be about as strong as that which claims that “mental illnesses” are genetically determined, biological brain diseases. For a full discussion on the creation of personality and a refutation of the idea that it is caused by individual genetic instruction, see “The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and The Causal Theory” by Faye Snyder, PsyD.

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  • All depends on what is meant by “psychiatry” and its “evidence-based treatments” here. Psychiatry is currently made up of two basically distinct, often opposing paradigms – the biomedical and the psychosocial – so I have to look for context clues to try to figure out which is being talked about. Psychiatry as a field needs to address this split personality and decide what it is and what it believes.

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  • Steve, you so often express what are my thoughts exactly . We have so much control over “environment,” and yet that is not what is being focused on primarily. All of this searching for a genetic holy grail is taking resources away from what we can and direly need to be changing in the real world, right now. I cannot understand how searching for genes is viewed as more important than addressing the environmental factors which are admitted to be necessary for developing these problems. First of all, if they ever do find genes which are truly associated, it will not be a single gene, that much is clear – tt will involve many genes. Secondly, what are they going to do with that knowledge? Are they going to genetically manipulate all of those genes out of our human DNA? That can’t possibly be wise, can it? Or are they searching for genetic causality merely to defend what has been their stance and practice – their scientific credibility – for decades or more? I’m just wondering what the thought process and plan is in terms of what to do about these “conditions” if genetic predisposal is found. It just seems like so much blindess and eugenics-tinged fool-hardiness on the part of the scientific establishment.

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  • 100,000%.

    The impact of stress, especially intra-familial stress, not only on the growing brain but on the body as well as the personality and mind. We just do not see and do not want to see what’s right in front of us. I really like psychologist/author Dr. Faye Snyder on this topic – the reasons why we have a tendency as a culture to “shut the eyes” – to protect those in power (incl./partic. parents) and go on continuing the cycle of injury, scapegoating others, those we see as weaker – often our own children, or other vulnerable/less powerful groups in society – and avoid really looking at and dealing with these tough interpersonal and power dynamics, and rectifying/healing them.

    There are harmful things which many parents do inadvertently to their own children, because similar things were done to them, they haven’t realized, healed and transformed from their own experience yet, and thus they can’t see their own children and their children’s needs clearly, or cannot seem to come up with adequate nurturing or overcome their destructive drives. Then, instead of identifying and sticking up for children’s true needs, we choose to protect what we see as the parents’ egos instead, not “blame” (hold them accountable), and simply “don’t go there.” Many defensive parents refuse to have it any other way, as well, and we as a society give in to their demands.

    Of course this is not the only reason. There’s also the money to be made, and the prestige of a deluded profession to continue propping up. But the parent~child dynamic – and the bias in favor of parents and the powerful at the expense of children and the less powerful – is a central element in play in all of this. This is one of the things that riles me up most about the mental health paradigm, the denial that it’s in, the lack of justice, the way it chooses to collude with the powerful and “shut the eyes” to what by this time should be obvious. That is why this ‘movement’ is very much a social justice movement. Not only is it about flawed science, it is very much about power – a dysfunctional power struggle – and repression/suppression/oppression (?) at its core.

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  • johndoe,
    Thank you so much for saying this. I agree 100%.

    “If we are unlikely to ever have a complete picture of the etiology of “extreme” mental states it is because we stubbornly keep looking in the wrong places and avoiding the obvious questions about the impact of stress on the developing brain and the many shapes which stress can take, particularly in intra-familial relationships. But many of these questions are uncomfortable, not just to researchers but also to sons and daughters and fathers and mothers.”

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  • This is a fantastic article.

    Well, I could quibble with the statement in the first paragraph: “the problem with mental illness is not that people have it but it’s that they BELIEVE they do.”

    In a sense, you are right, because perhaps if most people did not believe in “mental illness” as such, they would be more open/understanding/supportive of people going through crises, not treat them as alien “other,” and this would go a long way towards the person’s so-called mental health. However, this is still an “if.” It’s still possible to not believe in “mental illness” as such yet be completely unsupportive if not abusive to those going through emotional/psychological/life crises.

    My main thought about that line was that: what gets called “mental illness” is still a major problem in and of itself, even if it is divorced from the biopsychiatric b******* (not sure if we can curse on here!).. So to dismantle the biopsychiatric paradigm is a major part of the solution, but the other part is effective prevention and/or “healing” (an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure) of these problems (where they exist) in the first place.. which itself is a tall order but must be done! Proper understanding of what the problems are about is of course the crucial first step.

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  • Me! Me! I agree with oldhead and anothervoice. If there is any real mechanism of karma or justice in the world, human beings are setting ourselves up for an incredible fall, all deserved, for thinking we have the right to do the things we do to other feeling species. C.f.

    Let’s take care of our own da*n problems, especially the problems we should totally understand by now, like human psychology, and leave these creatures to their own lives, they have nothing to do with it. The arrogance, blindness, hypocrisy, and brutality of our species at times are shocking.

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  • oldhead,
    Exactly. Very well said. Like “anger.” Some anger is absolutely appropriate and life-affirming/defending. To pathologize it across the board and/or in the abstract is to negate important parts of our humanity.

    Also, (general comment on the article) there are reasons some folks seem more “pre-disposed” to forgiveness (and all other manner of behaviors/temperament/tendencies) that have to do with quality of attachment (primarily) and/or discipline in their critical early years, and their resulting degree of resilience. See Dr. Faye Snyder, esp. “The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and the Causal Theory” and “The Predictor Scale: Predicting and Understanding Behaviors According to Critical Childhood Experiences.”

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  • Vegwellian, “However, my grandmother had no serious trauma and had depression so severe in her later life that she had shock treatments. So it is fairly reasonable to conclude that something runs through my family that creates a vulnerability to persistent and disabling brain symptoms.”

    Ok. Let’s look at that. First of all, as I mentioned in another comment, it is not only the outwardly “serious” and recognizable (to most people) traumas that create vulnerability to depression and other kinds of mental/emotional distress (what you call “brain symptoms”). Again, please refer to Dr. Faye Snyder, she is brilliant on this. Secondly, “something” could be “running through your family,” indeed, that is causing these sorts of psychological issues to develop, but you (as well as the field of psychiatric genetics and, now, almost our whole society) jump to the conclusion that this “something” is genetic rather than environmental/interpersonal (mainly the result of parenting) and passed down through generations and between family members the same way other family quirks and styles are shared/transmitted. The genetic assumption is just that – an *assumption.* It is not proven via any consistent, replicable research, while on the other hand the evidence in favor of the social/parenting/human development argument is *replicable* and *consistent.* It is simply not very visible or audible in the mainstream as of yet – can you guess why? Because it goes against gigantic and very vested interests (not only financial).

    Two excerpts from the sections, “Misrepresentation by the So-Called Experts” and “The War of the Researchers,” from Dr. Faye’s book, “The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and the Causal Theory”:


    There is an ongoing debate as to whether personality stems from ‘nature vs. nurture.’ We have good reason to believe there are no genes for personality, both from experience and scientific research. Alan Zametkin asked whether there is a gene linked to ADHD in his 1995 JAMA article, ‘Attention Deficit Disorder: Born to be Hyperactive?’ In his article in 2000, Jonathan Leo answered, “to even seriously consider that ADHD is due to a single gene goes against everything that science knows about genes and behavior.” Leo pointed out that Cal Tech geneticist Seymour Benzer has shown that even in fruit flies, a behavior as simple as moving toward a light involves hundreds of genes.

    Any genetic predisposition for temperament is just as unlikely. I cannot assume it like many of my colleagues. Temperament appears to be the result of an unconscious process between parent and child. Temperament is simply an extended and unmitigated mood that ultimately creates a parent’s projected expectation of that mood. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and finally some harder wiring results as the child experiences the same treatment again and again…

    …This section on Misrepresentation of the Experts has been included because so many of our students, the general public and even honest scientists have been led to believe that their genetic makeup has a determining role in their mental health, their pathology or their ability to heal. This section briefly shows you reasons to question what you have been hearing regarding the validity of genetic influence on personality traits.

    For my entire career as a psychotherapist, clients who come to heal want to know how much of their problems are genetic, asking, “How can you argue the research?” Here is my response: There are two opposing camps of research and only the one with the funds reaches you. Follow their motives. Question the research you hear about and find the other research that’s not publicized.

    The research that promotes the notion that pathology originates in our genes is predominately generated by the pharmaceutical industry, which uses its false results to convince the public that psychological symptoms of all degrees are genetic and thereby treatable with drugs rather than healable with guided work. Some give lip service to parenting, but in the final analysis, we are led to believe that the symptoms we treat are genetic.”


    “I have been observing a war of the researchers over the causes of pathology. Anyone who looks closely into the issue of nature vs. nurture will see this battle. Some of the contenders are misinformed yet sincere. Others are very proper yet dishonest. Others are so angry they sling mud as if they are defending their own parents to the end. All of them appear to represent the voice of authority. It is our job to identify researchers’ agendas as they oppose one another and to identify which research is credible, not which research gets the most press.

    The clinical field is represented by multiple theories designed to either protect the parent at the expense of the child (pro-parent) or protect the child at the possible cost of the parent’s ego (pro-child). While a pro-parent theory may explain behavior in terms of the child’s responsibility by blaming his genes, another pro-child theory will explain the very same behavior in terms of the parenting.

    Researchers may approach this primary issue using the terms “nature vs. nurture.” Ultimately, the compromise of the open-minded seems to be a combination of both. However, in practice, the nature-and-nurture-together theory ends up simply being pro-nature. I say this because it seems that under this model we assume whatever we don’t’ understand in behavior must be inborn, and we choose to understand so little. In effect, espousing nature *and* nurture is essentially espousing nature. If it leads us to assume the parents were not essentially the cause, the assumption in nature. I assume nurture because parents must be ultimately responsible for whatever happened. [? poorly-written sentence]. I have clients who reveal a trauma they have been keeping secret for their entire lives in order to protect their parents. Even in this case, I hold the parents responsible for not teaching their children that they can handle the truth and to always bring their problems to them.

    Behind every theory there are motives and ramifications. This field, as I have said, has been divided between pro-parent thinking and pro-child thinking since Freud. Research has been produced to prove that genes cause traits, and research has been produced to prove that parenting causes traits. Both findings cannot be true. It cannot be true that genes create personality and pathology if parenting creates it. It’s as if one child is saying “She did it,” and the other child is saying, “He did it.” Who’s telling the truth? How do you figure out which one is lying?

    My field, from the bottom to the very top, has accepted that both sides are telling the truth and it is not the job of our leadership to get to the bottom of the conflicting information, even though deception is unethical, something a clinician would lose her license for, and so much is at stake. Inaccuracy leads to unnecessary suffering. The scientists and their sponsors are expected to be self-regulating but they aren’t.

    One side has been consistently more truthful and more rigorous in their research. The other side has a history of rigging results. My field sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil. They don’t look at the two children blaming one another with any parental responsibility for getting to the truth. This, in my opinion, is malpractice at the top.

    Pro-parent research has to falsify the truth in order to contend. It is my intention to clarify what tricks geneticists usually use. I want my students to know what questions to ask of studies to see if the ‘evidence’ they’ve been presented measures up. Unfortunately, more and more recently the studies are written in such code that even other scientists cannot follow a study well enough to question it. I would like my field to call for transparency in research. I would like us to insist that any study that cannot be scrutinized should be discarded and that our field will take no study seriously until it has been replicated.

    Even pro-child researchers get timid under the pressure to ‘believe in genes.’ They sneak their theories and observations past the pro-parent gatekeepers by agreeing with the premise that human personalities are made of nature and nurture. Then when you read what constitutes nature and what constitutes nurture, they actually represent that personality adaptations come from experience. The genes provide for the body-self and experiences provide the personality adaptations. By nurture they do mean experience and only experience. By nature, they mean the genetic instructions given to all humans across the board and not uniquely variable from person to person, so as to constitute personality or temperament.

    None of us are born speaking Chinese. Only those of us exposed to Chinese speak Chinese. Yet all of us are designed to learn to understand and ultimately speak to one another in shared verbal symbols that convey information regarding the interactions of matter and energy. A linguist would say that Chinese is learned, but could say that speaking Chinese by a Chinese-born person is genetic and environmental. We must assume that the actual specific Chinese version of language rather than any other language is the environmental part.

    However, when it comes to personality, a great leap is regularly taken in assuming that the personality of any given person could possibly be genetic. In the most serous cases, we assume that the Psychopath, Sociopath or Antisocial personality is the result of bad genes, at least in large part. If we assumed all the behaviors of serial killers were created by their parents, then we would be seeking interviews with these parents and we would want to hear the hard questions and the hard answers. Brutal parents might begin to fear the repercussions of their parenting and get help if enough of these parents were interviewed.

    Even one of my all-time favorite skeptics, neurobiologist Sam Harris, makes the tragic assumption that, “The men and women on death row have some combination of bad genes, bad parents, bad ideas, and bad luck–which of these qualities, exactly were they responsible for (p. 109)?” In another reveal of the genetic orthodoxy of this thinking, he writes, “While it may be difficult to accept, the research strongly suggests that some people cannot learn to care about others (p. 99).” It’s hard to imagine someone as skeptical as Harris being so blind, or perhaps sheltered, to evidence to the contrary. I wish he would become as skeptical of the myth of genes as the origin of personality as he is of religion. The truth is, if an infant is not protected and shown empathy, he cannot give it later on. Good science would rule out the acute neglect during infancy and/or the terrible abuse that happens to all violent predators during their youngest years before assuming any of their traits are due to their genes. Just find one predator who wasn’t violently abused or severely unattached or both, and then we can discuss genes as the origin of personality (Lewis, 1998).

    The problem is that where Harris works and studies, everyone assumes the source is genes. He may even be a bit of a renegade for factoring in parenting as much as he does. The rigorous studies that account for all pathological behavior by environment or parenting are strategically ignored in his environment ,just as evolution is ignored by the very religious. Children will continue to turn out violent as long as they are treated in the cruelest of ways. As long as we make allowances that these symptoms may be the result of bad genes, suffering children will continue to slip through the widely woven net of science and we will be pawns of deception on the moral landscape.

    If pro-child scientists were braver or more suspicious of the pro-parent research results, they would report unequivocally that genes provide the blueprint for the body while experience creates the individual personality. They could clearly educate us that there is not yet any scientific evidence that nature designs personality or even temperament. None. Those who believe otherwise are operating on faith and mutually reinforced assumptions (Ross & Pam, 1995); Valenstein, 1998; Leo, 2000; Lewontin, 2000; Whitaker, 2002; Galves, 2002; Joseph, 2004; Scott, 2006; Wilbur, 2008).”

    If you are confused by the pro-child/pro-parent language, here is a quick snapshot of what she’s talking about ~

    She then goes on to discuss the “Business of Science” and lists out the various forms of “Research Fraud” used, under the following categories: Standard Practices; Adoption Studies; Identical Twins Separated at Birth; All in the Family; Statistical Problems; Chemistry and DNA; Interpretation of the Data; Chemical Imbalance and Brain Abnormalities; and Politics.

    I’m not sure if those two quoted passages were the absolute most fitting/apropos for the discussion, but you get the idea.

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  • CannotSay, “particularly people who have experienced things like happiness, love, betrayal, deep sadness as a result of a loved one, etc -which is most of us (with the probable exception of the APA quacks who write the DSM),” heh, good one. No joke, it’s as if they don’t understand human feelings and have never experienced real, colorful, human life, judging by how blind they are to what’s in front of their eyes. It’s as if they are a set of androids with a very underdeveloped social sense and capacity for empathy.

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  • Vegwellian, “Last I knew, the predominant medical theories for mental illness involve the “double blow” hypothesis. That is, a genetic predisposition may exist, but something enviromental, be it exposure to a virus, or child abuse or growing up in a war zone, also has to happen in order tfor that potential to be fully expressed.”

    What you don’t know is that this “theory,” which in reality is actually only an unproven hypothesis, has no replicable science backing it up. Are you familiar with Jay Joseph’s critiques of genetic research in psychology & psychiatry? I have not read his work, but it is extensive. He talks specifically about the twin studies. I also encourage you to read the work of Dr. Faye Snyder, who explains the flaws in these genetics studies and, again, the lack of consistent, significant, replicable results in ANY of the psychiatric genetic research to date. Additionally, she explains human psychological development thoroughly, from birth through to adulthood, including what creates resiliency (unbroken, quality attachment in at least the first year of life) and the ins and outs of what creates personality. It’s a fascinating read and, imo, extremely important for our currently socially/psychologically ignorant society to understand – we have so little understanding of the extreme importance of attachment in human development, and of all the various ramifications of broken or insecure attachments as well as disciplining problems in the second year on. (I noted her book, “The Manual,” in another comment, but she has written another one which discusses the genetic research, “The Predictor Scale: Predicting and Understanding Behaviors According to Critical Childhood Experiences.”) A person doesn’t have to have had an overtly (to the naked eye) abusive or what we think of as “traumatic” childhood to nevertheless have gone with certain key needs unmet, which create ramifications for their resiliency and success vs. floundering later in life.

    Also, I’m pretty surprised that you are even on this site if you don’t understand why many of us speak of “mental distress” and if you believe only in “mental illness/disease.”

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  • *fight for your life, your DIGNITY, and the TRUTH.

    In other words Dr. Pies, I’m asking the members of your profession to show some *maturity* and *ethics.* Do you think that’s at all possible?

    If it’s not, I can only hope that those who can tell your profession what to do, namely the government, learns in a timely fashion that what you are up to is abusive nonsense and forces you to cease and desist, while making you pay for not voluntarily doing so.

    This is a total power struggle and a fight for social justice. Medical-model psychiatry is squarely on the wrong side of history and is going to occupy an embarrassing, shameful place in the history books. If you don’t see the light, you will be among those remembered as having been blind, ignorant, and wrong, factually and morally. Decide for yourself if that’s what you want.

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  • Dr. Pies, psychiatrists playing the victim is pretty stomach-turning. The invective comes from the knowledge that arrogant, blind people with no understanding of you (the “patient”) or your life whatsoever have legal power over you that they absolutely should not have. It is infuriating and unjust. Can you put yourself in our shoes and think about it from that perspective? Imagine being overpowered by someone who doesn’t understand you and doesn’t care for you– in a way that makes you want to fight back, fight for your life, in a way you know is SIMPLY WRONG. Yet the state has given the power to these blind, ignorant abusers to act as they will with you. Stop being (intentionally?) obtuse and twisting words like “illness.” Own up to the responsibility that the field of psychiatry has to come clean and admit it has been very wrong for a very long time. Have some integrity. If you honestly don’t realize how wrong you/your profession is, try LISTENING with a bit of humility to some of the more cogent arguments and you may just learn something. This nonsense, the nonsense and abuse of your profession, has gone on for far too long and we are tired of it.

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  • Psychiatry deserves to be taken down very publicly and very embarrassingly. They should also be responsible for reparations for the harm they’ve done and the cluelessness they’ve spread for decades. The field of psychiatry should be abolished, and former medical-model psychiatrists should have to carry the shame of having been part of a bogus, abusive, ridiculous, non-profession.

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  • “By the early 20th century, it was accepted wisdom that mental illness was caused by suboptimal nutrition.” Um, what? That’s a mighty broad statement, is this what you believe too?

    I bet that if you study it for long enough you will actually discover that food and nutrition are *not* the answers to all of life’s problems. There are other things going on in life, some of which are more important for our functioning than attaining 100% perfect, *optimal* nutrition, if you can believe that.

    This seems to be along the lines of the kind of nutritional religious fundamentalism/myopia that rubs me completely the wrong way. Because our society really needs more encouragement to keep ignoring all of the trauma, abuse, neglect and stress reported by the majority if not all of its mental patients – doesn’t it? Let’s just keep ignoring all of that (as usual), act like it’s not as important or harmful as it really is, not address unhealthy family systems and oppressive social conditions, & boil it all down to food instead. How neat (& blame-free).

    I’m sorry, I guess I’ve known too many people who were ignorant of/desiring to hide or ignore what should be glaring social/power/family systems problems (particularly those they were perpetrating) and, instead, put their faith in nutrition – obsessing over it as if it’s the holy grail that will right all of life’s major wrongs. I think that’s utter folly and worse, it helps us continue to ignore, miss, and misunderstand what really are the drivers of so much mental/emotional distress.

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  • Nice essay, if anything I would say it’s actually too accommodating and not forceful enough. For example, “sometimes normal difficult emotions are (mis)diagnosed as an illness requiring medication…” Sometimes? How about, very frequently or almost all the time? “sometimes the (mis)diagnosing of human experience for a ‘depressive illness’”.. Sometimes, again? In my experience, the medicalization and invalidation are relentless. One has to fight tooth and nail, or happen upon just the right people who really get it, who seem to be few and far between, in order for it to be understood that there is a *valid reason* for one’s emotions, when it comes to depression, when it comes to shyness or anxiety, when it comes to anger, feeling mistreated or abandoned, etc. I find our society to be almost relentlessly ignorant and invalidating. I like this piece but I would have used stronger language – not to alienate, but to say “Enough.” We have had to take more than too much bullshit – as you so aptly mention in your last line – for too long now. The right information and practices exist out there, so no more excuses. Enough of the medieval ignorance, power abuses, and bullshit. ENOUGH.

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  • But, probably not. Probably the field should just be abolished, condemned, and relegated to its rightful place of shame in the history books. Psychiatry has been too wrong and done too much damage for us to try to ‘save’ or reinvent the profession. Psychology and neurology should be able to cover the ostensible subject matter of psychiatry just fine.

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  • Ooh, good comment JeffreyC. There really should be major consequences for psychiatry’s ruination of people’s lives/torture and all the other injustices/crimes against humanity this field has committed. It doesn’t matter if they ‘should have known better’ or not; what they have done (continue to do) is so unjust, backwards, wrong, and harmful that it needs to be recognized as such on a massive/official scale. (Obviously this doesn’t go for all psychiatrists, but the misleading biological/forced contingent of the field – [although it’s my belief that the existence of the field at all as a medical specialty is unnecessary and even nonsensical. Perhaps psychiatrists could specialize in ferreting out any real medical conditions that are causing psychological/behavioral symptoms, and leave the problems-in-living to psychologists/therapists/counselors and the like.])

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  • Hi pamgon,

    Do you have any clues as to what may have precipitated his psychosis? Was he having trouble launching into his adult life, for example – did he feel lost as to where to go & what to do after college, perhaps? Were there clues from earlier on in his life that things weren’t going so well, or did he lose important friendships/relationships/activities shortly before he started to act psychotic?

    I think it’s important to understand what the psychosis is about in order to help someone find their way out of it.

    Unfortunately, what can often happen is that someone is going through a traumatic moment which makes them feel & act in seemingly bizarre, scary ways, and the typical reaction of mainstream psychiatry is additionally traumatic which actually makes the problem worse. I wonder if that’s what happened with your son.

    You may want to read some books that illuminate examples of psychosocial causes of extreme distress/psychosis, if that is indeed what your son is suffering from. One that comes to mind that I would recommend is Ty Colbert’s “Broken Brains or Wounded Hearts: What Causes Mental Illness.” His other books are good as well.

    The only caveat I would add to Steve’s otherwise great advice is that at the part at the end where he says “these are things that he will have to struggle to determine for himself – where does he want to go, what does he think is important, what kind of life does he want to live,” I think it’s essential to stress that while he does need to be in charge of determining what he wants to happen with his life, it is virtually impossible to act & decide this in a vacuum – in other words, it’s likely that he’ll need a great deal of support/solidarity/assistance, at least at first, but it’s key that it be the right kind of support & interaction, which really understands where he’s coming from, what he’s going through, and what he ultimately wants to have happen, and helps him get there. I highly recommend that you read some books that can help explain this more, such as the one I mentioned above – and if I can think of other helpful resources (there are many, but I don’t have at the top of my head which ones may be most helpful, at the moment) – I’ll come back & post them.

    I’ll echo Steven is saying that a Hearing Voices organization (, or an alternative psychotherapy/healing/respite center may be very helpful. Depending on where you live, some examples are Sequoia Psychotherapy Center in Fresno, CA, Associated Psychological Health Services in Sheboygan, WI, and the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community in Western Mass (actually, here is a longer list: Or you may want to consult an alternative (non-mainstream-psychiatry) psychologist such as those recommended in the Mindfreedom Directory of Mental Health Alternatives If you would like to listen to some stories of people who have recovered from extreme states and ‘psychiatric diagnosis,’ I recommend the videos at, particularly that of Dr. Dan Fisher, Lauren Sprio, Daniel Mackler, Amy Long, the “Voices Matter” video, etc. Additional resources: Emotional CPR (eCPR); Mother Bear: Families for Mental Health

    Best of luck to you & your son.

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  • Dr.,

    You don’t think it’s at all disingenuous to describe the actions you listed as “psychosocial interventions”?

    And yes, forgiveness and acceptance and reconciliation and support and inclusion and attention and love are too rare in our society. So instead of stressing how critical it is for our society to become more the way it needs to be to support human life and flourishing, we should make peace with the idea of replacing these healthy and necessary values and actions with prescription drugs. Replacing love and all the rest of what we actually need to function on earth with a daily pill that will play with our thoughts and emotions. This philosophy and approach is so damn dehumanizing.

    You know, if people want to make up for the lack of their basic psychological, social, emotional needs being met with various kinds of mood- and mind-altering substances, that’s their choice. But the least we can do is be honest about what is actually taking place. Taking psych drugs to deal with our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is no different than drinking to deal with our problems, or relying on any other kind of psychoactive drug. yet one of these is condemned in our society, the other supported. Doctors need to be honest about what it is they are actually doing and we need to clear up the hypocrisy on this issue.

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  • “It has to be dismantled by making coercive psychiatry history. People who want to destroy their neurons with psychotropic drugs should be free to do so but nobody should be forced to take these drugs nor should they be presented as “medicines like insulin”. Information about the toxicity of these drugs should be presented to anybody willing to engage in its usage.”

    Exactly. In addition to this, quality, effective alternatives to drugs must be seriously developed and offered. These two tasks are imperative and urgent. Anyone disagreeing with this, should have their head examined….

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  • Is this typical in medicine? (if you can consider prescribing mood-altering chemicals to people with emotional/life problems “medicine”) Do the effects and performance of non-psychiatric drugs also tend to vary so wildly from person to person that it’s essentially a crap shoot each time they’re given as to whether they’ll make the person better, worse, or no change at all?

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  • madmom,

    Such awful abuse and suffering inflicted on one who is already at wit’s end – it’s a crime. Can I just say, though, that this is an amazing piece of writing you’ve posted here? You’ve analyzed and understood everything so well. I sincerely wish you, your daughter, and all your family the very best.

    I can only imagine the outcome if your daughter and family had had a program like Open Dialogue to resort to rather than the backwards, dysfunctional nightmare that is ‘mental health care’ in the U.S.

    I’m so glad you found your way to the MiA community.

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  • Corinna,
    I think what Peter is taking issue with is not the distinction between cause and mechanism, it’s the claim that simple dopamine IS the mechanism. He’s saying that pointing to just dopamine as that mechanism seems to be another of psychiatry’s assumptions that are not actually based in thorough, valid science…
    Thanks for that “street light” comparison! That’s exactly how I feel biopsychiatry approaches research most of the time.

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  • Unfortunately, it seems like the right to act like self-centered and self-indulgent teenagers is one of America’s most highly valued freedoms, lately. It is especially obvious in our pop culture. That along with the skittishness and (perhaps unintentional) coldness with which we often conduct our daily lives… seems to create a very bad environment in which to suffer emotionally and need help – a desert where love and warmth and inclusion are only available to the very (previously) blessed or lucky (or to those who agree to profess to some religious belief or other). Those who fall through the cracks often have nowhere to go but down in such an environment. I’ve experienced this myself. What we do currently is relegate all emotional problems in those who are not fortunate enough to have good friends & family & other support structures to turn to, to the mental health system. The mental health system is currently pretty much bollocks. Those like me who know the system is very unlikely to help and even has the possibility or probability of harming, where do I go? This is why I see the development of safe-haven type communities as so important. Truly what we need is to provide these loving & healing communities for those in the most distress while we rehumanize our entire society & way of life, making it more hospitable to life. Gosh knows when or if we will achieve that. My hope is to simply make it to another country which does value family, community, and the human heart more than we do. Where interdependence is valued, not just independence.

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  • Insightful comments, Anonymous. I agree that “bizarre delusions/hallucinations” are not necessary for someone to become frustrated, desperate, and enraged enough to kill. If it is so clear that many in our society are so frustrated and desperate, I wonder why we cannot devote more of our time, attention, and energy to helping each other out – looking out for younger people (all ages, really), being there for them, lending our ears, our hearts, our time. A society so focused on “me, myself, and I” cannot long stay healthy. Young people struggling with failure and becoming lost and hopeless need somewhere to turn, real people to turn to who will actually care about them and lend them some guidance. Right now, that can be next to impossible, if not impossible, to find. So much of people’s individual success right now depends on their personally having a strong family/support system of their own, because the sense of community in this country is so generally lacking. So, those who are not blessed with this strong family and support system – to whom do they turn? The mental health system is often not a solution, though it purports to be. Left alone with no healthy social interaction to turn these thoughts and feelings around, they generally fester til you get to this crisis point. With all of the prosperity and the resources this country has, we need to turn off the celebrity reality shows and actually concern ourselves with each other – or this alienation and societal ill-health will just keep getting worse. (I’m betting on the latter, unfortunately.)

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  • Yep. People want to believe that “mental illnesses” are discreet entities that can be detected and “treated” by science & medicine. Well, that’s what they’ve been told, ad nauseum, is the case, by the powers that be. So they believe it as they are told to do, because what do they know? You have to investigate and dig really deep to discover that the powers that be are full of it. Most people will not go to that extent to discover the truth – only those of us who really care and have reason to doubt. And even when you do start to realize it, it’s hard to believe. The faux-scientific spin sounds so believable. These are top scientists and researchers, right? How could they be so wrong… it sounds preposterous. Anyway, we’re up against a mighty beast but we must keep working to chip away at it until, hopefully, we can reach a tipping point where the whole idiotic house of cards blows over. Kudos Stephen for your important work in the system. It is such a tough fight but thanks to forums like MiA we can find our comrades and give each other hope… We’re in this together…

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  • Excellently said, Stephen. I wish we had a “like” button for these comments.

    “Psychiatry and Big Pharma have created an unholy alliance where psychiatrists catch and trap people and the drug companies provide the “treatment” for everyone.

    You would think everyone in the American public could see this but you really have to wonder about just how smart the public really is at this point.”

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  • Right on, brother. So that “we can all understand one another”? How about, so we can all continue to misunderstand and fail to understand one another? That’s all that that language gets us. I have really had it up to here with this ignorant, arrogant paradigm and its undeserved power. We in this movement really need to strategize because this nonsense needs to go the way of bloodletting and alchemy, stat.

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  • Personally, I generally refuse to use a lot of their invented words to describe states that they don’t understand. I think using the “sick” language – including words like:

    mental illness
    DSM acronyms
    medication (and definitely not “medicine”)

    and even words like “mental health,” “recovery,” and “cure,” sometimes

    only add to the power of the biomedical model and obscure the real nature of the problems.

    What usually ends up happening is that I use a lot of quotations and “so-called”s.

    When I was going through emotional difficulties, I think I could have been easily “diagnosed” by this sham profession, but none of the sick language ever made sense, ever seemed to fit my situation. I didn’t feel sick, I felt distraught. I felt worried. I felt scared, sad, hopeless – but never “sick.” I think the “sick” language is a major impediment in our society’s attempts to understand so-called “mental illness,” it’s inaccurate, misleading, and it needs to go.

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  • Love it, Stephen. Enough is enough. They’ve had plenty of time to work through and try to substantiate their hypotheses and play around at being brain doctors. Time to face the fact that they’ve been wrong all along and have totally misunderstood what they supposedly had expertise in. Grow up, face the music, realize (first, if you haven’t realized yet) and admit that your profession’s bogus – it must be tough to do, but tougher still is to get caught up in their vortex as a vulnerable, defenseless person – so they can deal with it. It’s 2013. Enough with the medieval superstitious mindsets and barbaric practices. More than marriage equality, I believe this is the biggest civil and human rights issue of our age. We just have to raise more hell about it so that anyone even notices.

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  • “anti-stupidity, anti-abuse, anti-lying, anti-greed and anti-coercion.” You’ve just described the field, as a whole. When a field is this corrupt and this out of touch, it makes sense to be against it. Also, as I commented somewhere else on this post, the entire underpinnings of the profession seem to be illegitimate, from its founding. People defending the existence of the medical specialty of psychiatry, what do you see as its role? Should they become specialists in the detection and treatment of the various medical problems that can masquerade as psychological problems? That could be a valid mission for the profession, but that’s not what it was invented to do & that’s really not what it does now. I suggested elsewhere that perhaps they could become a kind of sorting department where they try to separate out medical from psychological issues, and refer accordingly. I’m not sure how well that would work. But the problem remains that a medical specialty is attempting to deal with largely psychological-emotional-spiritual-social problems, and that mismatch is going to continue causing problems unless we think about why medicine is dealing with these problems in the first place, and whether it should continue having a role, and what that role should be.

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  • You’ve said it well, Cheryl – and about your last line, well, the thing is is that until psychiatry is dismantled (i.e. exposed as clueless pseudoscience), it will continue getting in the way of providing real understanding of and help to those in need of it. It is a (seemingly) easy target, and one in dire need of being taken down. Of course that’s not all that needs to be done, as people still need to be helped – but it’s a big and important part of what needs to be done, and seems to be the first step in truly improving “the system.” It’s like the elephant in the room making it difficult to move around, and impeding any progress, as people are so focused on “brain diseases” and think that science has the solution, that they are blind to any other explanation and approach.

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  • This is exactly the analogy that occurred to me as well. Just as in the times of slavery, I’m sure there are many vocal proponents who will look for any way to discredit or intimidate those who oppose them. We have to be extremely strong and stand up to them, because if not we will just get pushed down & aside as those in power continue to get their way.

    I feel that allowing ourselves to use unequivocal terms like anti-psychiatry is one way of standing up to their intimidation and not letting them dilute our power and righteous indignation (or anger, as it is otherwise known. Let them not pathologize us out of our right to feel that natural human emotion, either).

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  • Ooh! I want to talk about strategy too! Richard, here’s the point that I always come back to: Psychiatry is a medical specialty. Why? Does that make any sense? The very nature of the field/specialty is the first and biggest statement on its illegitimacy, in my opinion. The field was literally invented a century or two ago (I don’t have the exact dates/movements down) by asylum doctors (who were there to attend to the general medical needs of the asylum populations) who basically wanted to play more of a role or who wanted to test out their own theories by experimenting on the inmates/’patients.’ I believe I read about this history in Mad In America (the book), and I’d love to research it more. It appears that the medical discipline of psychiatry was invented based off of half-baked scientific/medical hypotheses, which means it was illegitimate as a whole, from the start. And the very nature of the medical specialty of psychiatry will mean that it it always tied to biology, because without that, what else do they have? Why would they go to the trouble and expense of going to med school, just to end up doing psychology? Where’s the prestige and the money in that? No, the very nature of psychiatry – being a medical discipline – means it will stick with its biological paradigm because it’s the only thing that distinguishes the field enough from lowly psychology or social work. Pointing out the lack of validity underpinning the field’s existence as a whole seems to me the quickest, or most sustainable (I’m not sure which), way to achieve the changes we want. That’s how I see it, anyway. Maybe I should go back to school to study the origins and development of the field of psychiatry, and write a thesis, and prove myself right.. :p

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  • I’m anti-psychiatry because it’s a scientifically illegitimate (i.e. fraudulent) and abusive enterprise which has no right to exist as is. I don’t see a need to qualify that statement. There are many practitioners who work in ‘mental health’ whom I have the greatest respect for. The field of psychiatry on the other hand, not so much, unless it loses its pretensions of being a medical specialty and admits it has nothing more to offer than the field of psychology. Actually, I do have one idea. If the field really wants to exist and show that it occupies a useful place in between psychology and neurology/medicine, perhaps it could convert itself into a triage department, determining whether “symptoms” are due to a legitimate medical issue or a psychological issue, and refer accordingly. That’s where I could see some use for the quasi-medical field of psychiatry. Otherwise..?

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  • Ted’s right on the money: We should ALL be anti-psychiatry! Anyone in their right minds should be against a practice, a power structure, that bastardizes science and makes a fool of medicine, and traumatizes and abuses people in the process, just to make money or to feel powerful or simply out of ignorance! Any human being worth anything should be against that. We should ALL be anti-psychiatry, our whole society, the sooner to tear it down and bring some sanity and humanity into our “treatment” of those struggling with life, or those struggling with a genuine bodily ailment. Would you guys worry about the ‘ad-hominem’ or ‘categorical’ nature of being anti-slavery back in the day? Would you worry about offending slaveholders or their sympathizers? Would slavery ever have gotten abolished without the likes of John Brown and others willing to step up and take a real stand, and to fight, as was necessary? I, like Ted, feel that psychiatry is evil and harmful enough to be battled outright. Otherwise it will continue on for years and decades more on end, easily putting down wishy-washy attempts to challenge it, what with the immense power and ill-gotten respect it enjoys. I’m sorry to say but we have to be fighters if we want to see changes in our lifetime. Dismantling psychiatry may seem like an academic exercise for some, but for others it’s a matter of life and death. I think about those people and the sheer insult and injustice that psychiatry represents, the insult and injustice to our souls, to our lives, to ourselves. I am certainly anti-psychiatry in that sense, and if the field doesn’t like that, they better take a good hard look at themselves and their practices, and fix them, yesterday. Otherwise, I’m going to stand up and explain to the world how psychiatry is a shameful, ridiculous joke which needs to be abolished, and its practitioners essentially tarred & feathered (not the good ones, obv). And I’m not going to let a few pathetic hecklers crying “Scientologist!” stop me.

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  • I have so little respect for the field of psychiatry as a whole, that I have no problem saying I’m anti-psychiatry. As Ted said, that doesn’t mean I hate or am even against all people who call themselves psychiatrists. However, the field was developed off of a faulty premise, and remains that way to this day, more than a century later. I have absolutely no respect for a field that is so blind and has perpetrated so many human rights abuses, and is so frankly stupid. I think that grownups can recognize the difference between being anti- actions, which is what the field represents, and anti- people. (That said, there are definitely some people in the field who deserve no respect either and should be in prison). I’m not afraid to say I’m anti-psychiatry, and I’m perfectly able and willing to explain what I mean. If people are grownup enough to listen to the whole argument, they will get it. If they are simply looking for an excuse to fling the “Scientologist” label, they are not really ‘on the level’ anyway, and arguing with them is usually a waste of time, anyway.

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  • Love it, Ted! I am totally anti-psychiatry because I realize the profession was built on and continues to rest on a fraudulent house of cards! I am anti-psychiatry because I know that those going through horrible, distressing situations need REAL help and REAL respect, which is not easy to find in psychiatry nor in much of the mental health system as a whole. I am anti-psychiatry because I can’t stomach the ignorance and arrogance endemic in the field, and because human beings deserve something much better and more sensible. The corruption, the sheer blindness, and the abuses are just inexcusable. Thank you for your straight talk, as always Ted. I, like you, think we need to be much more clear, coherent, and forceful in our advocacy or we will never be heard.

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  • Do these people want to drive us literally all the way insane, if we are not already there? It seems like that’s what they’re trying to achieve, with these comments. It’s like, if you’re already having severe issues and trying to stay afloat, the insane “mental health” system will finish the job and just completely obliterate you, mentally, psychologically, emotionally. If that’s not insane and sick, I don’t know what is.

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  • Francesca – same here! I end up frothing as well & then just getting really depressed about it all. These idiots are too powerful & persistent. Somehow we have to organize ourselves better as well as encourage sympathetic professional organizations to SPEAK UP MORE. This nonsense should NOT still be going on in 2013!

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  • Of course she buys into it, anon, it’s what the “experts” tell us ad nauseum. To not believe in it requires some serious going against the grain, some kind of experience which opens one’s eyes & keeps them open even amidst an onslaught of “information” to the contrary. There are two narratives here, one of the efficacy and power of compassion, and one of the supposed latest science of the medical model. People just truly don’t realize that the medical model is bullshit because it is not called out as bullshit often enough if ever. That’s where we need to come in. I think a lot of people saw the power of her compassion but they just don’t know what to think because science and medicine have apparently told us that they can detect differences in people’s brains or the genes which cause these ‘disorders’ (none of which is true), but if it’s framed as “official science,” people believe it.

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  • The sad & tragic part is thinking what his life has been like & what it’ll be going forward. No happiness/little relief is likely in the cards for him. As happy as I am to hear how Antoinette acted & what a wonderful person she is, I’m also extremely sad thinking about that poor kid’s life & so many others like him who are done such an injustice/disservice by those in their lives, by this country’s culture & by psychiatry/mainstream mental health treatment.

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  • Rossa, I hope when you said “it looks like they haven’t moved beyond their diagnosis,” you’re describing how it must seem to others who have no idea what’s going on beyond the typical biopsych paradigm. Not what you or any of us here should think. Also, I can’t believe you would say “the ranting and the blaming is mental illness in action.” First of all, maybe if you personally had had experiences being the victim of this idiotic, abusive paradigm, you would have more of a right to say this kind of thing. As I assume you have not, you may as well not tell the rest of us how to feel and act. I really hope what you instead meant was, “The ranting and the blaming APPEARS TO OUTSIDERS TO BE mental illness in action.”

    Also, the flip side of that “insanity” cliche is persistence, and the value of it. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Doing the same thing over and over sometimes DOES get you where you want to be – you chip away and chip away until there comes a tipping point.

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  • I do agree with a lot of your comment though, about supporting human beings at all levels, etc. I just find that trauma (broadly defined) and dysfunctional families, relationships, social conditions and other ‘environmental’ problems get so little attention for how important they really are, and are often not well understood. There is so much money and science and technology being thrown at problems which are often simple matters of the heart and taking the time to listen, care, and connect, that some of us feel the need to harp on this point because it’s obviously not getting through.

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  • meremortal, why the need to limit ‘trauma’ to such a strict, narrow definition though (as has been done traditionally)? You may find the discourse limiting because you are working with a very limited concept of the term. What human beings (and other animals) have the capacity to tolerate also depends a great deal on their resources and circumstances. So what may not be too big of a deal for one may be overwhelming for another who is low on coping resources. Hence why you can’t limit the definition of trauma to just a few discrete events as has been done “traditionally,” as you say. Joanna mentions that the term has been broadened now but if you have a problem with that, you could substitute “psychological/mental/emotional distress” and would be referring to approximately the same thing.

    Which is not to say that trauma/psychological distress is the one and only ’cause,’ don’t know that and am not saying it, but I do believe it’s a gigantic and maybe the primary one which is nevertheless greatly neglected/overlooked/misunderstood in the mainstream. Most mainstream efforts and dollars are put towards researching the brain in an attempt to find the causes of distress while adverse life conditions and events are routinely ignored or simply not understood. This may be why some of us harp so much on it – because it doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves, on the contrary, it’s brushed under the rug, hidden, or simply not seen much of the time.

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  • for everyone? probably for a minority of cases if that. By the way, over on his blog Behaviorism and Mental Health, Dr. Phil Hickey mentions this blog post but contrasts it with a story “of a man “with schizophrenia” who also transitioned from “anti-psychotic medication” to the same nutrient formula as Andrew used. (It’s marketed as EMPowerplus). This young man, Jordan Ramsey, shortly afterwards killed his father and gravely injured his mother.” He concludes: “Vitamins and micronutrients in proper quantities probably won’t do much harm. But they can be over-hyped. Dr. Grohol states that “…after more than a decade on the market, the manufacturers of this product haven’t done a single placebo-controlled trial.”

    In my view, a double-blind randomized controlled trial is overdue for a product for which such strong claims are being made.”

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  • While I agree, various research has found that psychological distress causes increases in inflammation, so before everyone jumps on the inflammation-as-purely-physical-cause bandwagon…:

    “Researchers from Ohio University found that levels of a protein that rise in response to inflammation, called C-reactive proteins, increase when a person is asked to think about a negative and stressful event.” –

    “A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen has found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response.” –

    So in these cases the inflammation and the distress can both be seen as results of the same thing rather than one causing the other. Right?

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  • I’m interested by the finding that psychological stress causes inflammation.

    “Researchers from Ohio University found that levels of a protein that rise in response to inflammation, called C-reactive proteins, increase when a person is asked to think about a negative and stressful event.” –

    “A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen has found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response.” –

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  • Ross,

    I still feel you are over the line in terms of determining for someone else which sadness is “realistic” or acceptable in your view and which or how much is unnecessary, “irrational,” excessive, “distorted,” in your opinion. Life conditions vary so broadly. Summing up my life from the outside you cannot necessarily see all the forces that are shaping my feelings & responses to the world. For example, I have never had any extreme trauma happen to me that would be recognizable by most people. (“Acceptably catastrophic” perhaps in your view). However, various conditions of my life combined to produce a rather difficult and unhappy situation for me for many years, and at one point I simply stopped being able to cope with it altogether. Depression is a logical answer when we simply can’t go on in a certain situation. Attempts to change the situation have been fruitless. Hopes seem to continually be dashed or dreams constantly deferred. Who are you to say that becoming depressed in these situations is “not rational”? Life is not all about cold hard “rationality” you know. Emotions are a big part of it and a big driver of our actions. If you condemn depression for being “irrational” you should condemn falling in love or loving anything, really, as similarly irrational and we should shame people who feel that emotion as “unrealistic,” “overly cheerfulesque,” etc. It makes just about as much sense and is just as valid as invalidating depression.

    How about some reading assignments for you now. Why don’t you leaf through “Depression: An Emotion not a Disease” by Corry/Tubridy and gain some insight into the logic and rationality of depression, an emotion which “has evolved over aeons of time stretching back to our ancient brain. We share this powerful emotional response with social animals who are bonded through relationship and attachment. Abandonment by their group can cause death. Lacking the required survival skills for life outside it, they experience overwhelming helplessness, and such animals become depressed, and surrender the will to live.

    Similarly in humans the moment exclusion and abandonment is experienced, these old evolutionary pathways and doorways are opened in the ancient architecture of the brain….” (in reference to bullying)

    “Depression is an emotional response, at the core of which are the feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and loss of control. Any life difficulty which we find insurmountable can cause depression. Being alive and human exposes us to risk and danger, placing us on a spectrum ranging from feeling effective and resourceful to powerless and paralysed. Life is fired at us point blank. From the moment we are parachuted into life’s soup, emotionally, behaviorally, and intellectually we are challenged to respond.

    From conception to death, traumatic and stressful events come our way: intrauterine stress, insufficient nurturing, family dysfunction, abuse and bullying, betrayal and ridicule, broken hearts, dependents with special needs, marital difficulties, accidents and life-threatening situations, financial burdens, drink and drug problems, job loss, peer group exclusion, chronic pain, disability and illness, ageing and finality of our own death.”

    “Like fingerprints, no two human beings are exactly the same. As such we do not respond to setbacks in the same way. Take a puncture [flat tire] for example. It’s the last thing you expect to find as you approach your car in the morning. As you take in what’s happened, a strategy begins to form. The meaning you ascribe to it, the action policy you decide on, and the intensity of your response is going to depend on a multitude of factors, both internal and external.

    It will make a difference if you don’t’ have a spare tire or a second car, you can’t change one by yourself, it’s pouring rain, a taxi isn’t an option, or you’re not a member of the Automobile Association. Time-urgency tips the balance too – if you’re rushing to catch a plane, hurrying to an important meeting, or rushing your child to the accident and emergency department. Cruising down the the local shop to buy the papers on a leisurely Sunday morning is a different experience.

    Other factors matter too. Such as whether you’re the boss or are further down the pecking order, and could lose your job because of your track record of turning up late. Your personality is in play too, you might be shy about asking a neighbour for a lift or for their help, guilty about letting others down, cringing at the idea of calling work to explain your late arrival, or still fuming from an argument with your partner over breakfast. The variables influencing our response to any setback are infinite, with resources defining whether it becomes overwhelming or manageable.

    The flat tire scenario is a trivial example. Many setbacks are of grave proportions, ranging from the loss of a loved one, to workplace bullying and life-threatening illness. The principle still remains however that resources are crucial…

    Resources or not, the continuous everyday grind can seem overwhelming in its own right. The treadmill, be it at school, college, or on the career ladder, can dampen the spirit and take its toll…..

    It is human nature to have desires and to want to satisfy them. To wish, want and hope that our future needs will be met. Isn’t every child’s game-plan to become successful, contented, loved and secure? From an early age we ‘look forward’; to santa coming, to being popular at school, to getting on a team, passing our exams, finding a job, falling in love, having a good lifestyle.

    This roadmap keeps us motivated, giving us the willpower and eagerness to continue. If our way is blocked, there is a sense of loss as our dream evaporates, as if something concrete has been taken away. In fact it is our illusion – that our future would turn out rosy – which has been removed. A sense of loss overwhelms us, and will and action become redundant.

    Now we are confronted by future scenarios which are painfully less desirable than those we’d planned on. Who anticipates rejection, sexual abuse, bullying, heartbreak, deaths, marital difficulties, failure to achieve, financial insecurity, problematic children, disability, chronic illness or lack of companionship? Unprepared and disillusioned, it can be impossible to find within us the desire or the will to remain engaged with such hardship. In shock, we wonder what happened to the game-plan. We can’t go back, nor can we yet see a way forward. Confused, lost and immobilized, the drive to go on dries up: we are depressed, and in grief.”

    “The scenario you’re confronted with may vary from sudden heartbreak, the daily anxiety of facing a workplace bully, or the dawning shock of finding that the life you’ve carefully constructed has come to look like a death sentence. Whatever the cause, your instinct is to recoil, disengage and have the bad dream cease.

    What can your average human being do in such circumstances? There are only so many ways out. Some run away – literally, by leaving a pile of clothes at the beach or by taking the next plane out. Others change their reality by swapping it for madness, mania being the ticket out. Many become physically ill, embarking on a road which absolves them from the same level of engagement. Those who can, make efforts to inject change into the situation, bringing control by whatever measures they can. Others heal with the passage of time.

    For most, although they may wish to curl up into a ball like a child, and turn their back on the problem, they can’t. Modern life demands that you go on. Working lives must be continued, the care of children not shirked, relationships maintained, bills paid. You must carry on regardless. Yet this requires that you engage, and you are in recoil mode. The unconscious compromise is depression. You’re still here, but really you’re not.

    This is a shadowy life, one where your body does one thing, goes through the motions, but your mind screams its dissent. It withholds its enthusiasm, supplying you with not a shred of motivation, rationing your energy so you have to get by on the slimmest budget. You’ve torn up your contract with life. But your ship at least must still stay ostensibly afloat, albeit in an agonizingly unsatisfactory state.”

    From the chapter “Fear, Panic, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, O.C.D – Battle Fatigue”

    Wave a wand, take away fear and helplessness and depression would virtually disappear. The fight or flight response is the most primitive and ancient of all survival responses, dealing as it does with the matter of life and death. The degree to which this is aroused is dictated by the threats we face, and their severity places us along a spectrum between fear at one extreme, and safety at the other. To spend extended periods of time at the fear end, teetering on the edge of panic, with no possibility of controlling it or disengaging from it, has to be one of the most disempowering and excruciating states a human being can experience…

    Picture this fictional scenario. Your home has been broken into and the intruder has assaulted you repeatedly over the last month, leaving you battered, bruised and exhausted. None of your familiar surroundings appear the same any more, the home you used to so enjoy is ruined. In spite of all your efforts, there seems to be nothing you can do to either predict or prevent the attacks. You think of nothing else now, vigilant all the time, waiting, expecting the worst. Sometimes the attack is during the night, taking you off guard, when you’re at your most alone. Of those you seek help from, some wonder whether you’re imagining it, since they see no intruder or sings of a struggle, suggest that your distress is an overreaction, tell you to ‘pull yourself together’, and then leave you to handle the attacks on your own.

    If this were really happening to you, do you suppose you might feel your zest for life ebbing away, since it would now all be sapped by having to be constantly watchful for the next onslaught, or recovering from the last one? Each morning on waking, might you not be likely to begin thinking ‘oh God, another day, maybe I’ll just stay in here under the covers”? It’s hard to believe you wouldn’t begin to lose faith in yourself, becoming ruthlessly self-critical over your inability to get your life back on track.

    Would you still be as keen to socialize, when that would mean hearing about the trouble-free lives others were living, when all that was on your mind was your hopeless situation? Might you lose interest in sex, in keeping the garden, in reading, while it seemed more urgent to keep checking the windows and odors, a permanent ear out for any sign of impending danger? Surely the future would begin to look bleak if all it held was more terror?”

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    There is a description of animal depression towards the beginning of Paul Gilbert’s “Overcoming Depression” which helped crystallize for me the natural, valid nature of this emotion/response to life, which we share with other social animals, as well. (I’m not sure if this image I have in my mind comes from there or from somewhere else, but think of an animal trapped in the bottom of a ravine. It has tried and tried and cannot climb up the slippery slopes to escape. After x number of exhausting and futile attempts, it gives up hoping & trying, & lies down & essentially prepares to die. This to me seems a good analogy for depression. It’s like a state between life and death – we are not dead yet, but energetic/hopeful/full life, indeed sometimes survival at all, seems to be a futile endeavor.)

    Then there are Harry Harlow’s experiments on Rhesus monkeys from the ’60s in which he reliably created depressed states in monkeys subjected to social isolation, or other disturbed ‘mental’/emotional states in young monkeys deprived of their mother, etc. Harlow is quoted on his Wiki, “When initially removed from total social isolation… they usually go into a state of emotional shock, characterized by … autistic self-clutching and rocking. One of six monkeys isolated for 3 months refused to eat after release and died 5 days later. The autopsy report attributed death to emotional anorexia. …”

    Seems as if the monkey died from depression due to extreme social and environmental deprivation. I’m sure it would have helped if we left him in that situation but told him he was being irrational and catastrophizing, that his depression at that point was self-destructive – I’m sure that would have helped, when he was already past the point of caring about anything and had given up on life.

    Come on. There are tons of unbearable situations and, while positive thinking of course should be practiced as much as is possible and realistic, so much more is needed – and not just needed from the suffering party themselves, but from others. In the example of the monkey, someone should have come along and freed the monkeys and prevented Harlow and his team from ruining any more lives, and should have provided intensive care to the already-damaged monkeys to aid in their recovery as much as possible. All that, the monkey cannot do for itself. It takes outside help and real tangible changes in circumstance (often due to luck or conscious efforts on the part of others to help).

    I really don’t know how you (or CBT) can continue to claim that anything more than a passing sadness is uncalled for in life… Depression is a natural emotion just like all our other ones and provides us feedback on our environment and situation… It should be viewed as such and not invalidated

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  • Joanna, replying to your comment from 8:44 am, I quite agree. There are some psychologists that I really like and respect, I just think that where our society gets in trouble is by depending on them too much, depending on professionals to take the place of healthy communities where people look out for and care about each other, there is no adequate substitute for that. An outside helper can be a helpful adjunct but we cannot outsource all our emotional caring to paid professionals. Our social fabric will quickly fall apart as it seems to be doing now.

    I like Paula Caplan’s project involving having “normal people” hear out and empathize with returning war vets’ stories, not relegating them to (I feel, sometimes) inert, sterile therapists’ offices, where no one actually involved in the person’s life has to hear about what they’re dealing with. This is what we do more and more as a society, we say, if you have a problem, find someone whom you can pay to listen to you, because no one else has the time or interest or can bear to hear you out or offer concern or advice. (a lot of therapists don’t even offer advice. They are into being as neutral and risk-free – on their parts – as possible… how helpful is that really?) Then well if you don’t have money or insurance to pay anyone to care about you and you are really in need of attention and support, well you are pretty badly screwed. Honestly I don’t know why everyone’s so surprised when we have these terrible situations with people shooting up schools and workplaces and committing suicide. We give them absolutely no outlets and nowhere to turn, we make caring and attention into a commodity that they have to purchase with their nonexistent funds, then when they spiral out of control from all of the burdens put on them which absolutely no one has stepped up to help them with, we complain and condemn them and talk about how we just can’t understand it. Of course you can’t understand it if your life is relatively easy, sweet, and provided for. Trade places with them and see if you start understanding it more.

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  • Richard,

    I agree with much/most of what you say here and truly appreciate the humility and respect you have for those who are struggling, which comes through in your writing. Personally I can say I feel much more validated and from there empowered by an approach such as yours which does not try to sugarcoat reality and deny where difficult thoughts & feelings comes from, or try to convince us that our experiences shouldn’t affect us. ‘Practitioners’ who are too much into mind-game playing and showing you how silly and irrational you are quickly just earn my resentment. Thanks for your deeply respectful and loving approach, we need more of this!

    P.S. I loved the part about how affected your client was by your shedding tears over the passing of her dog. That’s what we need more of. Humanity! True emotion. Respecting our hearts and what they tell us rather than trying to make the “mind” supreme – as the Dalai Lama said – “Develop the heart.
    Too much energy in your country
    Is spent developing the mind
    Instead of the heart”….


    “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Without them, it is very hard for individuals to survive. I’ve experienced this first hand…

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  • This is what you said: “Bush and other evildoers feeling horrible about their crimes would not necessarily constitute “depression” (which is always irrational) under this definition.”

    This is what that sentence means as written: “Bush and other evildoers feeling horrible about their crimes would not necessarily constitute “depression” under this definition. Depression is always irrational.”

    To say that depression is always irrational to me is very irrational indeed.

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  • The truth is that life is not at all as pretty as it is made out to many of us to be from the time we are little. It is full of some pretty horrific, gruesome, awful, tragic things. Because of that, it can cause immense pain and often even more so when one is an open, sensitive, loving individual exposed to some of these horrible things. If one is really paying attention to what goes on in the world then to be honest, depression is the only rational response. We all constantly have to play little mind games or just shut off awareness of what’s going on if we want to maintain some sanity and cheerfulness. I probably do “CBT” on myself intuitively a hundred times per day. The negative, bad thoughts are not irrational or distorted at all, in fact some of the cheerfulness I try to replace them with is the more distorted and contrived of the two. I would very much like my intelligence and awareness not to be insulted by ‘mental health professionals’ who think they know so much more than I do. More than 1,000 innocent, poverty-stricken, hard-working Bangladeshis were crushed to death a couple of weeks ago in a factory making our super cheap clothes that we all have way too many of and throw away without a second thought. Sickeningly wealthy individuals are profiting off of the exploitation of these extremely unfortunate other individuals whose lives matter just as much as the wealthy ones. No one (not enough people) cares. This is the way our world works. The inequality, injustice, waste, wrongness of this world is mind-boggling if you truly think about it. Don’t come telling me that my cognitive processes are distorted. I went to the best schools and trained for x number of years to have fully functioning cognitive processes. It’s what those cognitive processes have to deal with more often than not that is the problem. If we focused less on trying to make people dis-believe what’s right in front of their eyes and in their hearts, and put more effort into truly transforming our world for the better, as Richard is saying, we would have much less need to play CBT mindgames and we could actually just feel our natural feelings as we were meant to and not have to try to constantly convince our mind and body that everything they are telling us is wrong.

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  • Lol, Joanna, I LOVE RVAT, in fact I often make use of it myself.

    Totally agree that the RELATIONSHIPS are often what really matter. (It’s the relationship, stupid!) Contrary to mechanistic views of psychology we are not really machines that one can easily perform a “technique” on & have us back up & running in no time (much of the time). At least, I’m not! Don’t know about the rest of y’all. I mean, I have been ‘turned back on to life’ as easily as flipping a switch but it hasn’t been by people who have no real genuine interest in/love or concern for me.

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  • I attempted to read David Burns’s book a few years back but was pretty turned off by it. His “Feeling Good” approach does not make me feel good. Instead, I would get much more validation & motivation from, for example, critiquing & attacking biopsych than from listening to some guy who doesn’t know me simplistically tell me why I’m doing everything wrong and stupidly thinking maladaptive wrong thoughts. I guess I’m just one of those who doesn’t ‘click’ 🙂

    Seriously? This is from a review I just saw of Burns’s book – “your negative mood results from your own thoughts. Not from external events – those are just triggers for the thoughts. Only your thoughts decide whether you’re cheerful or sad.” This is the line of thinking that I absolutely cannot stand. Try saying that to someone who’s been raped, traumatized, tortured, abandoned, any one of a million terrible things that can happen to people and animals in this world. Are you seriously going to come in here and say it’s their own thoughts about the event that is the problem? How simplistic and out of touch can you be? I’m guessing people who hold this line of thinking are secure and comfortable with all their basic needs met and no big traumas. How invalidating, how dehumanizing.

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  • John,

    ‘Psychotherapy,’ much of the field of psychology, and let’s not even mention biopsych HAVE been made into rarified mumbo jumbo. Simple and elemental concepts common to all of us down to the last uneducated little baby have been put through the academic mumbo-jumbo machine to the point where you need a PhD to decipher it all. And even if you do decipher it more often than not you’ve lost the connection of all this mumbo jumbo to the basic, intuitive, felt concepts that it refers to – concepts like love, hurt, violation, shame, abandonment etc., which, yes, the last little baby intuitively feels. Secondly, aren’t relationships often the main ‘meat’ of therapy work, since relationship problems are so often central to people’s psychological problems? So the quality of relationship between therapist/therapee is even more important than say that of a student-teacher relationship – it’s central. In fact, I have received more helpful, more life-changing ‘psychotherapy’ from several people lacking high school diplomas (or certainly no formal training in psychology) than from all the degree-holding psychological professionals I’ve seen put together, because it was the relationship and real genuine connection that mattered, which the non-educated non-professionals were more disposed to form. I.e., they were willing to be there in ways the professionals were not, which is what made all the difference. I don’t doubt that some professionals do great work, but in my experience the whole ‘professional therapy’ model has seemed very limited and certainly rarified. It’s attentive, loving, supportive relationships. Not, sorry for the cliche, rocket science.

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  • Amen, Joanna. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all trade places, walk in other people’s shoes, and then see if we still consider their feelings and responses to be “irrational” when we don’t have our safe, healthy distance to be judging from. Or if we wouldn’t come to understand, empathize with, and validate them much more once we have been put through what they’ve been through…

    I wish….

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  • I have experienced both depressed and non-depressed states in my life, and having analyzed them I can see quite clearly that the circumstances of my life directly produced the depressed or non-depressed responses that corresponded. My depressed states have been no more “distorted” or “irrational” than my happy states have been. This is one of the big lies of our culture, I think – that happiness is the only really rational response to life, and to be unhappy means that you personally are doing something wrong – and it certainly seems that this is what CBT in part implies.

    Thanks to a a very lucky experience that happened to me, my eyes were finally opened to the fact that I and my thought processes had never been the problem/the reason I felt bad – it was the input I was receiving from my environment and the conditions put on my life which were more messed up than not, more often than not. When all of a sudden I received some great input/nurturing/life conditions (i.e. something that was provided in part by others, not just myself), my thinking clarified & my mood improved quickly & dramatically, with absolutely no more effort on my part than I was used to expending – in fact, I could put in even less effort than usual and still felt a lot better BECAUSE I HAD A GREAT SAFETY NET and others around me who genuinely liked & supported me. In the absence of those supportive relationships now, I have tried to talk or think myself into happiness/success, but have found that my own thoughts and cajoling are no substitute for the mental/emotional well-being produced by the genuine support & love of others.

    I came to see therefore that *I was not the problem*. So, I am not about to let CBT tell me that if I am depressed it must mean I have flawed/faulty/distorted/irrational/illogical thinking. I realize that my cognitive processes have always worked just fine. It is the input they have received from the outside world which has affected my ability to be happy or not, and I don’t see why all of us homo sapiens wouldn’t function more or less in the same way. So I wish our culture would stop pinning all the blame (really, this is what we do) and responsibility for how we feel and what we do on each individual person. As a highly interdependent social species we simply don’t work that way. We do not all function as little islands, though I believe our highly individualistic (and x, x, x) culture in the West has encouraged us to believe we do, can, should. This seems to have made us very ignorant, judgmental, and unrealistically demanding of our own and others’ emotional/”cognitive” functioning, clueless about some of our social & natural motivations, etc.

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  • CBT often seems incredibly condescending and invalidating. If that student fails an exam and concludes he is a failure and becomes depressed, there are likely multiple strong reasons he has come to feel that way. For example he could be receiving excessive harsh criticism from his parents, being teased about how stupid he is, etc. From all that feedback he is receiving, it is perfectly LOGICAL and RATIONAL for him to come to agree with them and conclude he really is an academic failure. This is where CBT is incredibly invalidating. Maybe that student has had multiple failures before and needs special help which has not been available to him. Maybe he has many other worries which get in the way of his learning. From that person’s experiences in life, what he is concluding can seem PERFECTLY logical and rational, to conclude otherwise one would have to be ignoring a lot of feedback from the environment, which intelligent people are not wont to do. To focus on the person with any ‘negative’ or painful thoughts and feelings as the problem, to say they are ‘faulty’ (which saying they have faulty thoughts implies), to ignore the context of their lives and act like they’re silly and sabotaging themselves for no reason, that is where, to me, CBT as an approach is totally arrogant, ignorant, and out of line.

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  • Anonymous, so well-said. I hope to god Ronald Pies is reading all of this. There is more thoughtful, coherent, & right-on-the-money education on this page than in all his years of psychiatry school. If only, if only, if only they would get their heads out of the sand and open themselves up to reading, listening, and learning what they really have to learn.

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  • Believe me, I would contribute if I could. I can’t even afford to eat right now. I believe this must be a problem for a great many ‘psych survivors’ – economic insecurity & poverty. I hope all the mental health professionals & others making a decent living will take it on themselves to contribute. All the professionals at ISEPP and other groups – please consider donating some of your pocket change, since many of us have none to spare. Please! MIA is too valuable of a resource.

    Thanks Matthew Cohen & the whole team for all you do.

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  • Excellently stated, S.A. As Lucy Johnstone argues in “Time to Abolish Psychiatric Diagnosis?” (,

    “‘Diagnosing’ someone with a devastating label such as ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘personality disorder’ is one of the most damaging things one human being can do to another.”

    I.e., insulting doesn’t even begin to cover it, for many people.

    She continues, “Re-defining someone’s reality for them is the most insidious and the most devastating form of power we can use. It may be done with the best of intentions, but it is wrong – scientifically, professionally, and ethically. The DSM debate presents us with a unique opportunity to put some of this right, by working with service users towards a more helpful understanding of how and why they come to experience extreme forms of emotional distress.”

    Have you read Ty Colbert’s “Depression and Mania: Friends or Foes”? He is currently my favorite psychologist/mental health writer for his very simple, clear, and compassionate explanation of the issues involved in mental health: the emotional pain which overloads one’s ability to cope, and the love and care which is the only true way for people to heal from these conditions.

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  • Re: the “it’s like a rapist” comment… To me it makes more sense to compare someone in your position not to a rapist, but more like to someone who’s been abused, perhaps, who then begins to identify with the abuser & start adopting their state of mind/rationalizations/explanations for why things are the way they are etc., like a Stockholm Syndrome-type situation. Not that you intended to do any of that. But maybe that’s more what (commenter?) was getting at. This is probably a common occurrence in psychiatry & really quite understandable, given how thoroughly we all are indoctrinated into the biopsyhiatric worldview (& quite frankly abused with/by it). It is incredibly shocking when one starts realizing that our trust has been totally misplaced, and we are being systematically lied to or misinformed by people and institutions that are supposed to be credible, trustworthy, the supposed authorities & experts, sources to whom we are told we can go for real ‘help.’ It can seem preposterous at first and that’s probably part of why more people don’t get beyond this point, don’t come to see the trauma-informed angle that we here at MiA and in the critical- or anti-psych movement (or whatever you want to call it) have mostly come to know & understand. If it hadn’t happened to me, and I hadn’t had a contrarian nature like yours as well as a very fortunate experience which showed me that with the right environmental ingredients *I could be totally fine*, who knows what party line I would be towing right now :p So, I don’t think it makes sense to say that you’re like a rapist at all, but obviously, you can see how indeed triggering this is for a lot of us & there’s a really good reason for that! I’m so glad to see that you have really taken all this in & have come to understand what some of us were trying to get across. It can be tough to explain this position especially when we know how little likely we are to be heard & taken seriously by many in the mainstream, when all this has been really frustrating, isolating, & traumatizing (& frankly just hard to believe), and when people are apt to respond negatively to our expressions of emotion & passion around this, valid though they may be.

    Sorry my writing is not the most articulate, but hoping you get the point :p

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  • Layla,

    Personally, I think you’ve really redeemed yourself with these comments. You showed that you really do have an open mind and are willing to consider criticism & grow from it. That takes maturity & integrity. By the way, I think that “stubborn, contrarian streak” is something that, if put to good use, can really be a strength and help to accomplish a lot 🙂 I hope you are stimulated to continue exploring these questions here at MiA +/or elsewhere. We need people thinking critically about the status quo & always looking to improve a situation/system which, by all accounts, needs a lot of work. Thank you for taking the time to reflect on all the feedback your posts have gotten & for showing a real willingness to engage with us here. I think you’ve shown a lot of integrity & I commend you for that.

    Peace & all the best.

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  • I meant to post this comment earlier in the day, but oh well.

    My advice to you would be to take your own advice. After reading your very copious commentary here, I have wanted to respond to you many times that if you could *stop talking (& immediately reacting & responding) for a moment* – * just a moment * – and *listen* and think about what people are saying a bit more, and investigate some of the links and leads that have been given to you, you might learn something. You might not. Often it takes a profound and very personal experience to wake us up. That evidently has not happened to you yet, and who knows if it will. Biopsychiatry has a very powerful hold on our society currently. Yes, there is a lot of anger and upset from posters here – that’s normal for people who have been mistreated by an established power structure and have few opportunities to be heard & affirmed. You are coming onto a site to defend a power structure that has abused, traumatized, and angered many here. Sorry, but what do you expect? You are going to have to realize that this is part of the playing field if you choose to come here & tell us that we are wrong. I may be mistaken but I think your tone was a bit confrontational to begin with, so you should expect confrontational responses, especially since you are defending an oppressor to an oppressed & angry party. I am thankful for the people who can calmly respond (from a place of safety) to some of the points/objections you (& others such as madincanada) have brought up, but we are not all so safe & healed to be able to respond so calmly. Being a psychiatric survivor in a world that constantly tells us we are wrong and defective – knowing there is nothing wrong with us but having society constantly and without any proof or evidence tell us there is – is an extremely tough & frustrating – sometimes maddening – place to be. If you choose to believe that there is something defective or physically wrong with you with no proof or evidence of such, fine, believe whatever you want to believe. But other people shouldn’t have to, and that’s why we are making the arguments we’re making and doing what we’re doing.

    I don’t think anyone here is interested in standing up for you much as a mental patient, because you seem to be okay with that identity. Since you are so busy defending psychiatry, then by all means, deal with it yourself. You be in charge of standing up for yourself in the face of anything that comes down the pike as a result of your “mental illness” identity/label. If you do come to be harmed in the future by this profession and its fallout, then maybe at that point you will remember some of what we’ve said. In the meantime, there are many people who are actually open to the message of hope, justice, the message that they are *fine* the way they are and the way they were created, and just need support, understanding, affirmation and love. Since you reject this message and think you know better, then please, look out for yourself and don’t expect us to. No sense in forcing help on those who don’t want it. “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” Harriet Tubman. If you like your identity as a mental patient/mentally ill person then knock yourself out, but do not inflict it on others who don’t want and don’t deserve it, which is what support of biopsychiatry in the absence of any evidence does.

    Anyway, to circle back, I think talking less & listening more might help, but I know it can be very tough to break the hold of the indoctrinated psychiatric mindset. Our whole culture is under its spell. Well, our whole culture once accepted slavery and many other wrongs as commonplace too, and I’m confident this mistreatment and misunderstanding of people’s emotional and social problems will also go the same way. When Galileo said the earth was round, he was intensely ridiculed, censured, and disbelieved by almost everyone. The scientists of the day “knew” the earth was flat. Today we all know Galileo was right. Many of us on MiA believe we have seen the light – I know I do – and will do all we can to help change the conversation around what we are calling “mental illness” for the sake of justice for the oppressed & misunderstood, and REAL healing & societal health. Protestations like yours’ – and we have heard them a thousand times – will not deter our movement and goals, because we have all been where you are – having the same doubts and raising the same questions – and have moved beyond that place. Before reacting so much, you may want to investigate more – just a thought. Loren Mosher, Ty Colbert, who else – who are some good people to read who really explain the problem with biopsychiatry, its lack of evidence and science, its wrongful rejection of other healing modalities, its fundamental barking up the wrong tree… Personally I like psychologist Ty Colbert, not sure how you would respond to him, but I recommend Broken Brains or Wounded Hearts: What Causes Mental Illness, and Rape of the Soul: How the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Modern Psychiatry Has Failed Its Patients, along with his other books. Those are the ones that I have personally responded the best to, but that was after my mindset was already predisposed to believing in the emotional-pain model due to the experiences I had.

    Anyway, one last thought, the reason there is a lot of anger and upset here is because people who defend the chemical imbalance/”mental illness”/biopsychiatric model are not just talking about themselves, they’re talking about all of us. If it was just yourself you were affecting with your beliefs, we wouldn’t care so much, because if that’s what you want to believe & how you want to live it’s your own choice. It’s that the rest of us are implicated in whatever theory our society is currently going with as the cause and best approaches to emotional/mental suffering, so we have a high stake in this. And we are not going to let some misguided and misleading power structure pass down judgment on us that they have no factual reason to believe, when we ourselves are dying to tell our own version of the story, to which they will not listen. We basically feel like freedom fighters for ourselves and those in the same boat – we *are* freedom and dignity fighters – and the fact that you may not see or understand it that way, yet, does not change anything.


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  • “Nothing good comes from shaming and attacking…” It’s easy for someone on the more powerful side of a power differential to say that…. I wonder if you would say the same if someone raped your child…. that “shaming and attacking” is just never appropriate. I wonder if someone was abusing you, chronically, with impunity, if you would still talk of “sharing wisdom” with that person. I highly doubt it. You would be angry and suspicious and rightfully so. Many of us who have been mistreated not only by our families but by the system/society at large have righteous anger and mistrust, and to call that “boorish,” “bullying,” liken it to road rage etc., is highly inappropriate and “bullying” of you, so why don’t you take your own advice….

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  • doth the lady protest too much? Please, we are having a hard enough time already getting people to pay attention to & understand the trauma angle. I don’t think anyone’s arguing that real biological medical conditions can’t cause these problems, or that they should be ignored, but the trauma angle is already known (by many) to be a huge player yet is routinely neglected in our society. People, doctors, scientists, are only too ready to look for & accept medical conditions as causers of this distress, but trauma, abuse, neglect, social problems etc. are much more likely to be ignored/avoided/discounted, especially because they implicate other people who DON’T WANT TO BE IMPLICATED. That’s why we have to make such a case for them. Medical conditions are generally blame-free thus much more palatable to our society.

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  • Madincanada, “Nobody who as ever lived with a psychotic person would ever say that “familial, social and political” factors cause psychosis,” are you serious?

    You are quite in the dark.

    There are many professionals besides Richard Bentall, as John Hoggett mentioned, who are more than ready to explain the familial, social, and political factors that can lead to such conditions as “schizophrenia,” etc. Bert Karon, Ty Colbert, the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis, for starters.

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  • Great comment, Susan. This is one of my biggest pet peeves – victims constantly being pressured to “stuff” their hurt, trauma, violation, anger, etc. – it is inappropriate. Pressuring people to forgive & absolve, too soon. The anger & grieving & responsibility being placed where it belongs – this is all a key part of healing. If people truly have been victims then we should allow them to act like it until they are truly ready to move on. We do the same for rape and natural disaster victims; trauma is trauma.

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