Thursday, August 16, 2018

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • This is a common phenomenon, and one of the reasons I really despise the DSM. It provides cover for the adults who are not doing their jobs, or are outright abusive. If the kid protests his/her treatment, s/he is “ADHD” or “Oppositional Defiant” or “bioplar.” Saves anyone having to ask the difficult question of why the child is protesting and what is going on in his/her life?

  • I agree completely. The whole concept presented here, that “side effects” can even be measured by clinicians, seems ridiculous. Since we are not “treating” disease states, the only legitimate measure of success is whether the client feels they have accomplished what they wanted out of the therapy. I can tell you for certain that any therapy that didn’t involve “distress” or “strong feelings involving the therapist” would have been a total waste of time for me. But another client might have different goals than I did.

    Why not ask the clients? Radical concept…

  • My experience is that there are two kinds of helpers. One believes that helping means making people do what you think they should and using rewards, punishment and force to ensure compliance. The other kind could care less about compliance and focuses on helping the other increase personal power. These two subgroups exist in any profession and across the political spectrum. I try to hang out only with the latter whenever possible.

  • I don’t disagree with you there. As I said, generalizations are a more challenging point, more of a gray area, and the relative power level of the group in question and the person speaking will definitely play into how a comment is judged. I hope you did pick up that the comments I make toward survivors suggest more protection of their voices, while those toward professionals posting encourage developing more understanding and a thicker skin.

    Thanks for the feedback. I hope you’ll be kind enough to let me know if you see me going too far astray!

    — Steve

  • You’re welcome. I really appreciate your mentioning Alice Miller. Some of her thinking has been very central to my understanding of why clinicians so often take the side of the parents or the authorities when clients/patients/victims report abuse by their parents or by the system as a whole. I have concluded that the best qualification for a therapist/counselor is that they have taken a good look at their own historical crap and have it under a good level of understanding and control.

  • I like the “Miranda Rights” idea. I used to do this when talking to kids who were in difficult situations with their parents (and sometimes with the parents, too) if it appeared they were going in a direction of reporting abuse. I wanted them to know I was a mandatory reporter and that there may be consequences that neither I nor they could fully control if they disclosed abuse to me. That way, at least they had the option of choosing not to talk about details, or presenting a hypothetical case instead of telling me what happened. It seemed the fairest way to give them the most control I could.

  • Midwives in the USA experience similar dynamics. Doctors can have babies and even moms die in their care and their colleagues just shake their heads and say how sad it is that “we can’t save everyone.” But any kind of bad outcome for a midwife is proof that anyone who doesn’t give birth in a hospital with a doctor attending is a fool, and that midwives are dangerous butchers who don’t care about the lives of their patients. It’s amazing they get away with it, but I guess it’s one easy way the people in power continue to exert their control over anyone who poses a threat to their unearned authority.

  • And another thought on this point: just because the person continues to feel suicidal or even plan suicide doesn’t mean we have NOT been helpful. The goal should not be to stop the person from doing something or making them do something. It should be to understand their viewpoint and priorities, and in so doing, perhaps help them understand themselves a little better.

  • I agree 100%. For whatever flaws it has, MIA appears to be the only site where survivors of the system and people who think the system is nuts rather than the people it claims to help can have this big a national voice. It is also kind of unique it the attempt, however awkward, to bring dissident professionals and survivors as well as their friends/family that support them together in one place. Not an easy task!

  • The point about “system failure” resonates deeply with me. Systems that can’t identify failure never grow and develop. If I can’t help a depressed person, it’s not because they have “treatment-resistant depression,” it’s because what I did was not effective. This is not a place of blame, but one of learning from experience, and if one really wants to be more helpful to those in distress, one must be humble enough to admit when one’s efforts were not helpful or made things worse.

    BTW, BRILLIANT idea to ask him what he wants to do before he dies! I’m definitely going to have to remember that if the occasion arises in the future.

  • I am glad the author included the sad and lonely and abused childhood that Williams experienced. While it is obvious that the environment always interacts with the person’s goals, intentions, preferences, etc., the correlation between what is called “mental illness” and childhood adversity is enormous. Those who wrote about Williams purported “mental illness” after the fact almost completely failed to provide this important context in their zeal to advocate for “treatment” for Robin’s “brain disorder.” I found it disgusting, and appreciate this more nuanced and humanizing biography.

  • All very true. We seem to toss out any respect for all the good work on developmental expectations and the range of appropriate development as soon as they reach Kindergarten. Suddenly, everyone’s expected to be on the level the teacher wants, and if they are not, they have a “reading disorder” or “mathematics disorder” or “Oppositional defiant disorder” or “ADHD.” And I agree, school for me was AGONIZINGLY dull! It’s only because I was possessed of an extraordinary level of self control as a child that I didn’t run screaming from the room!

  • You might be interested to know that a good study of employees who had been diagnosed with “ADHD” at some time in their lives. The employer ratings were compared to non-ADHD employees and were found to be essentially the same for both. The researchers posited that once the “ADHD” youth were freed from the bounds of the school system, they chose jobs that allowed them to take advantage of their strengths. So when they were able to select the environment, their “ADHD” had little to no impact on their ability to perform up to standards.

    And you’re right, our kids were fortunate in many ways. What I find sad is that our school systems are so rigid that they are unable/unwilling to do what is necessary to adapt to these kids’ needs. It’s already a known fact that open classrooms are the best setting for most of these kids. Instead of drugging them, why aren’t we creating open classroom environments so they can succeed in school?

  • I always found it particularly egregious when they’d put someone on Zyprexa or some other fat-inducing antipsychotic drug, and then talk to the client about “bad food choices” and “needing healthy exercise,” as if being fat were somehow the fault of poor eating habits or laziness. I often brought that point up, but it only seemed to get the staff upset with me. Almost no one (except me or my CASA volunteers) ever told the kid they were beefing up due to the drugs.

  • Posting as moderator here. If you re-read my blog, you will see very clearly that no one will be moderated for posting antipsychiatry comments (or pro-psychiatry comments, either). You can also see my lean toward protecting survivor voices even if they are perceived as expressing anger toward the psychiatric profession, and advising professionals to develop a bit thicker skin. I’m not sure how this can be characterized as protecting professional voices at the expense of survivors. It seems rather to lean a bit in the other direction. Am I missing something here?

  • You bet. It’s a very sore subject for me, too. We found that alternative schooling was absolutely essential to maintaining any kind of sanity, and home schooled for years. We also helped create a few different alternative school environments where kids got more control of their own educational goals and activities, as this has been proven long since to be the best environment by far for them (educators asked to distinguish between “ADHD” and “normal” kids back in the 70s were unable to do so in an open classroom, while they were 90+% accurate in a standard classroom environment). We also found that standard disciplinary tactics were often totally ineffective, and we had to be VERY creative. We used to often “bet” each other or our son that he could not or would not do what we wanted him to do. He hated us predicting anything about him and enjoyed making us “wrong,” so this worked pretty well. The best we ever came up with was what we called “energy points.” He started every day with zero energy points. If he did something to make me feel more energetic, or saved me energy in some way, he got “plus one.” If he did something to drain or waste my energy, he got “minus one.” If he got below zero, I stopped doing ANYTHING for him – talking, making lunch, driving him anywhere, playing with him – I did nothing at all. Of course, arguing about receiving a minus meant another negative point. He then had to do something to elevate my energy in order to get back up to zero or above. This usually meant some kind of work, and doing work in and of itself often brought him out of his negative state. In fact, I used to try and start the day giving him a useful task or two in order to set the tone. The only thing I had to remember was not to go more than minus two, because then he felt like he was so deep in, there was no point in trying.

    You know your child and will figure out what works. Schools don’t know your child or try to get to know them, and the DSM diagnoses simply make it easier for them to blame the child and evade any kind of professional responsibility for figuring out how to teach him what he needs to learn. I encourage you to seek alternatives. I don’t know that we would have survived if we had not.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and I wish you the best of luck in finding a better path forward!

  • I think they were hoping to prove that “ADHD” kids did better when receiving “treatment.” They were, not surprisingly, sadly disappointed. But ever hopeful, rather than admitting that they have their answer and need to give it up, they will continue to apply for and receive grants to “study” this “condition” that is only definable in the vaguest and most subjective terms, and whose “treatment” apparently does little to nothing to improve the ostensible “condition” it is supposed to “treat.”

  • Of course, trying to get anything about systematic traumatization into the DSM is going to be a failure. PTSD only got in there due to war vets, not abused children and partners. It is absolutely against the guild interests of psychiatry as a profession to give any acknowledgement of the role of trauma in creating “mental health disorders.” If they did, the entire edifice of the DSM would collapse under the weight of its on corruption. They only hold their power as long as they can convince people that they can “diagnose” people with different “disorders” that are driven by “brain diseases.” As soon as it becomes clear that traumatic experiences and social stresses are at the center of most “mental health problems,” the psychiatric leaders are exposed for the charlatans that they are. Plus the drug companies lose profits, and we can’t allow THAT!

  • Posting as moderator here. Are you talking about in the articles, or in the comments section, that you see the “dialog degenerate into projections and defensiveness?” I’m interested because if it’s in the comments section you’re talking about, I want to be looking for this tendency, and would really appreciate it if you let me know when you see it happening in your perspective.

    Thanks for that.

  • And if it is sometimes “neurological,” so what? Species survival depends on genetic diversity. Everyone has challenges and strengths. My kids (two of which would definitely have qualified for “ADHD” diagnoses) always heard what they were good at and what they needed to work to improve, and THEY were a big part of deciding for themselves what those “work ons” were and what they were going to try and do to make improvements.

    And there are upsides to any personality tendencies as well. The unfortunate reality for so-called “ADHD” kids is that they are forced to contend with a school system that specifically does almost everything it can to frustrate them (albeit mostly without evil intent. Mostly.) “ADHD” is pretty much synonymous with “hates a standard classroom.” Put those same kids in an open classroom with freer choice and movement, and “ADHD” is almost invisible. That’s what we did with our kids (homeschooling or alternative schools with open classrooms) and all three are doing very well as adults, with nary a milligram of stimulants. Not saying it was easy, because it wasn’t, but just because a kid is frustrating for adult does not make him/her “mentally ill.” Sometimes they are just being normal and it’s inconvenient for the grown ups. I think it’s the adults’ job to adapt.

  • I relate very much to your comments here. In particular, it’s become clear to me that verbal connection between a counselor and client, or any person trying to help and the “helpee”, is insufficient. It is the emotional connection on a real level that matters the most – that sense that the other person really GETS where you are at on a visceral level. And I think that’s also what babies are looking for, and you’re right, their very survival depends upon making such a connection. My sense is that it is terrifying for a baby not to be able to connect with a caretaker many, many times a day, essentially whenever they need something. Once the baby gets the idea that the parent figure is going to respond every time (or almost every time), s/he learns to relax some and be able to tolerate distress without panicking. I think that life can be very difficult for those who never have this primary experience of safety and trust.

  • The analogy is, unfortunately, all to apt. Including the fact that the general populace is not going to be protected by their cowardly avoidance of the gang. But as in the movie, it’s hard to convince the regular folks to stand up to evil, especially when evil has such firepower!

  • Increased “civility” is the goal here, not discouragement of people’s views. I see what you mean about people feeling unsafe in sharing their stories at times. A recent acquaintance of mine wants to submit under a pseudonym for exactly that reason. I just want to make sure everyone knows I have no interest or intent in moderating away anyone’s voice, and I have a particular interest in protecting the space for survivors to feel safe in sharing their stories, since those are the voices most likely to be silenced in other arenas. I think my blog above reflects that intent.

    What would you suggest could be done to make it feel more safe for survivors to post?

  • I think you make a great point – not only the scales themselves, but the decisions of what to “measure” are very much culturally bound, which prevents them from ever really being “scientific” in the sense of truly objective. And I also have found, for me and for others, that thinking in terms of what I don’t like and want I want to change and what I do like (learned this one a LOT later in life) and what I want to preserve and appreciate is much more helpful that thinking of “what is wrong with me?”

  • I’m sorry that my comment came across that way. I don’t believe and never have that “some people are fundamentally bad.” I agree 100% that intergenerational trauma is usually at the core of any misbehavior by children, and I’m the biggest advocate you can imagine for family work and attachment parenting and dealing with childhood trauma. I was perhaps being too flippant in my statements, as I was thinking more about the attempts to characterize “ADHD kids” as “needing treatment” to avoid bad outcomes. Two of my three met the criteria for ‘ADHD’ and we did a lot of work to avoid getting them enmeshed in the psychiatric system/paradigm, including some very creative discipline and home schooling. Lord knows what would have happened if we’d put the oldest in school – he probably WOULD have gotten at least an “ODD” diagnosis.

    Anyway, my intention was not to insult kids or their parents, but to point out that if a certain behavior occurs as a child, predicting that the same kind of behavior would continue as an adult is not really an accomplishment. I most certainly should have chosen my words more carefully, and I apologize for that.

  • Again, speaking with my moderator hat on.

    Thanks again for sharing this. It only just occurred to me yesterday how sensitive this issue with “likes” could be for many people. You have stated it very clearly here, and I appreciate this. Again, if you ever feel that I am discouraging certain voices because of their position rather than the tone of their presentation, PLEASE tell me right away.

    I will add that I intend to always communicate directly with the writer about their intent in writing anything I feel needs to be moderated, unless it’s really blatant and obvious. I want to make sure no one is feeling they are having posts removed without any opportunity for feedback. It’s kind of a big deal to me to remove someone’s post, and I know I’d want to be fully in the loop about the whys and wherefores if it happened to me. Which it has, BTW.

    Again, thanks for letting us know so clearly what your concerns are. I’m sure it will be a further topic of conversation among the staff.

  • Nixon made his name on the House Unamerican Activities Committee when he was a representative. He was a total McCarthyite. My understanding is that McCarthy finally buried himself when he started attacking folks in the Army, who had sufficient organization and power to defend themselves and take him out.

  • Thanks for sharing that. I think it’s important to consider how powerless WE feel as professionals with degrees and positions of respect, and then consider how it must feel to be a CLIENT in such a system where the supposedly powerful people themselves are feeling oppressed! At a certain point, I just couldn’t stand it any more. I felt like I was colluding with the occupying army.

  • Thanks for pointing that out. Of course, it was not a conscious intent, but we all have lots of these images in our language and there is a lot of confluence of aggressive and sexualized language, particularly toward gayness in any form. I will be more thoughtful of such phrases in the future.

  • As a moderator, I absolutely see your point, and I encourage you to keep that viewpoint in the editors’ minds. We are all human here, too, and it’s sometimes difficult to anticipate the impact a particular piece might have on the readers. All I can personally assure you is that I have no intention of creating an special protections for anyone based on their role as MH providers. They are here on the same terms as the rest of us. And my experience so far is that my colleagues here are very open to feedback regarding what articles are posted, so I encourage you strongly to let one of the editors know if you feel an article that’s posted is or has been offensive to you or to the survivor community in general. It’s very easy for those who have not been there to misunderstand why some subjects or comments or attitudes might be hurtful to those already hurt by the system.

    Let’s keep talking!

  • Most “treatment providers” have no idea what “individualized treatment” actually means. I think they believe it’s about choosing the drugs they give you on an individual basis rather than giving the same drugs to everyone. I’m not surprised you have not experienced anything that looks like it.

  • Hi, Kindred!

    Speaking as the moderator here, I wanted you to notice that I never used the term “civility” in my blog, and that was a very purposeful decision. I don’t want us to ever convey that it’s not OK to express anger and rage toward those who are in a position to harm us. There is, in fact, no actual shift in what will and won’t be allowed – I was being very specific in stating that the main issue is PERSONALIZATION, not the position being expressed. If you will re-read my blog, you’ll see that I was very clear about stating that any position on the spectrum is welcome to be stated and supported, from “psychiatry saved my life” to “psychiatry should be abolished.” I had hoped that would provide some reassurance that there is no intent to censor or discourage any viewpoint here. I’ve seen some legitimate concern expressed that professional voices have felt more protected in the past, and I specifically addressed that too, by suggesting that we be very cautious about attacking people’s personal experiences, while counseling professional commenters to develop a thicker skin.

    It is hard to see how else to conduct a discussion forum without some expectation of decent treatment of posters. Otherwise, we get de facto censorship, as people with certain views will be too intimidated to ever post. Like I said in the blog, I’m sure this happens anyway with “mainstream” folks – 5 minutes reading comments or even half the articles would drive most of such committed pro-DSM folks running from the building! But I want people to be able to post whatever content they feel is relevant, and I want a principled discussion of facts and experiences to be the way issues are resolved, rather than by ad hominem attacks or resorts to degrees or other authority or humiliation and condescension. I have faith that the truth will win out in any such discussion, and it seems to me that sinking to personal attacks actually undermines the power of the truth to break through the mythology that passes for “mental health care” these days.

    What’s the other solution? “Moderating” anyone who is not sufficiently ‘antipsychiatry’ or who expresses a view that people here don’t like? It seems to me that allowing an open expression of viewpoints to compete in the “marketplace of ideas” is the best way to boil down the truth and break through the psychiatric religion’s dogma. While I don’t relish the idea that folks with pro-psychiatry views come and post here, I think enforcing the commenting policies on everyone will in the end empower those who can be most easily shouted down, namely those who have directly experienced the massive power of the psychiatric juggernaut aimed at their bodies and their persons.

    I’m seriously asking, though. What do you think would be the best moderation policy? What could we put in place that is better than saying, “You get to say anything you want, but you can’t attack people in a personal way?”

  • True enough! And there is lots of money in selling drugs, while there’s a lot less in investigating whether drugs really work or whether other approaches work better. There are many effective “alternative” approaches to pain management that have been known about for decades, some for centuries, but unless someone can get a patent on it, we’re probably not going to see mainstream medicine supporting it any time soon.

    Thanks for your reply!

  • I think doctors work in a ridiculously over-competitive and stressful environment, and at some level recognize the degree to which their profession has become subservient to the all-powerful pharmaceutical industry. Psychiatrists in particular, at least those with consciences, must feel pretty hopeless at the utter ineffectualness of their approach, and their inability to pursue another course without quitting their profession or going completely rogue. I would further guess that the profession weeds out those with high “emotional intelligence” early in the process, so those who remain will have relatively high authoritarian traits that prevent any real self-examination. Sounds like a pretty hopeless place to be.

    Though I do find it interesting that articles I’ve read about physician suicide rates all talk about the stresses of the training and the job, the lack of sleep, etc. but when these same physicians see “depressed” patients, they spend all their time talking about “bad brain chemistry.” Kind of a disconnect there, eh?

  • That is exactly how I experienced it. I held to my integrity as best I could, but it was not safe to talk about certain things, and certainly not safe to challenge the status quo. When I did so, I was most definitely marginalized. To maintain my ability to empathize with the clients and at the same time fend off the wrong-headed approach that was almost a 100% agreement among the staff was a constant stress that eventually drove me out of the field entirely.

  • I’m just writing as myself here. I’m a little confused as to where there was a desire expressed to court NAMI or “the pro-psych crowd” to become “fans” of MIA. I’ve seen what happens to anyone who comes here to post with a pro-NAMI or pro-medical model viewpoint – they are properly put in their place in short order, and I don’t see anything suggesting that will stop happening. I’m honestly asking this question – where do you see that position put forward?

  • Posting as moderator here. I would have to say that I have no intention of making the comments section “less controversial or passionate” or even “less lively.” I think if you read through my blog, you’ll see that there is still plenty of room for controversy and passion without being insulting or attacking.

    You make a good point regarding more specific details of the feedback perhaps being shared. As for the survey questions, also legitimate points worthy of careful thought for future surveys. Crafting survey questions is an art form that I certainly have not mastered by any stretch of the imagination!

  • Hi, Richard!

    Do you have hard data on that point of chronic pain not being specifically linked to suicide? I’d love to see a link or two if you do. The claim of such a connection is very common in claiming the need for “antidepressants” for those with chronic pain, and I’d love to have something scientific to use against such arguments if you have it.

    Thanks in advance!

  • I am absolutely committed to the same standards for everyone, and if you see me flagging from that commitment, please let me know right away.

    Personally, (meaning that I’m NOT representing MIA below), I see any advocate for AOT or “Anosognosia” or any other kind of dehumanizing crap having their views quickly and effectively dissected by this group without any help from me. That’s the beauty of an “open forum” to me – those who claim such positions need to defend them, and there is more than enough intellectual clout and knowledge of the real data, as well as brutally contradictory personal experiences, to show up any such claims as the BS that they are. The reason I think it’s important to have moderation on these comments is that such presentations come across MUCH more effectively when they are presented without personal attacks or rancor. In the field of psychiatry, the truth speaks for itself very loudly, and our job is more undermining the mythology that the truth doesn’t fit with. Unfortunately, calling names and attacking categories of people makes it easier for the myth-makers to say, “See, those guys are all crazy, don’t listen to them.” I’ve always found that a passionate but respectful recitation of the true facts, followed by some solid Socratic method towards the misguided poster, is much more effective than calling them names.

    Anyway, thanks for your support!

  • It seems the proper conclusion would be, “We (the professionals) really suck at predicting anything to do with ‘depression’ and should give up on our ridiculous tests and just ASK people what’s going on, since that appears to give much more accurate and useful results.” Your point about pronouns is very well taken, as well – why does “we” not include the client “we” are supposed to be helping? Perhaps this is the center of “our” difficulty in predicting “depression?” Perhaps “we” need to give up on the idea that “depression” is a thing to be measured in the first place?

  • I just scratch my head when I read these things. Are they not scientists? They are SO biased, they are searching for certain results, and when they don’t get them, they are “disappointed.” This is actually a very helpful study, because it shows that “having ADHD” as a child is NOT associated with negative long-term outcomes. The conclusion should not be that “predicting the course of children with ‘ADHD’ remains a challenge.” It should be that “Our original hypothesis was disproven – an ‘ADHD’ diagnosis does not lead to worse outcomes as an adult.”

    As for the proviso about children with “conduct disorders,” that’s meaningless, because it’s been determined long before that kids with ‘ADHD’ and ‘conduct disorder’ diagnoses do have later troubles in live, while those who “just have ADHD” do just as well as their peers. And when you consider that “conduct disorder” just means kids who are mean and selfish, what we have is that mean and selfish kids grow into mean and selfish adults, a trivial result that should surprise no one. It was, in fact, very smart to isolate “ADHD” in kids not diagnosed with “conduct disorder,” because now we can see that having the “ADHD” characteristics in and of themselves has NO EFFECT on whether or not a kid turns out to be a successful adult.

    But I guess the authors just can’t accept the conclusion that the data tells them is true. They need to hold onto their reality despite the data, which means they’re not scientists after all.

  • Right, we wouldn’t want people trying things and not always succeeding – it will torpedo their self esteem! The proper action is to discourage them from trying anything at all by telling them they are incapable of both the action they want to AND of handling the disappointment if they are unsuccessful. THAT is a SURE way to make someone feel good about themselves!

    Seriously, if you wanted to make someone feel as bad about themselves as you can, it would be hard to imagine a more effective course of doing so than telling someone they can’t handle trying something they are not assured of succeeding at. It makes me wonder how “accidental” this approach could be. It’s pretty freakin’ evil!

  • I wonder also how a refocusing of attention away from external environmental factors and toward brain chemistry manipulation contributes to people losing hope and increasing self-blame for their “condition.” Perhaps it’s easier not to feel hopeless if you can find an external condition that you CAN change and focus your energy on regaining control in that area. I’ve found that the most helpful thing for people who are feeling depressed is acknowledging that their feelings are a normal or at least not unusual reaction to the conditions of their life, and then focusing on one aspect of their lives, no matter how small, that they can exert some control over. Suggesting that “it’s all in your brain” may create a sense of hopelessness, as what can one do about one’s own brain chemistry?

    Of course, there really ARE things one can do about one’s own brain chemistry, but that’s material for a different blog.

  • This was pointed out by another reader. I thought I was being “funny,” but it turns out I was being insensitive. I appreciate your observation – it shows how deeply these concepts of power are embedded in our culture and how easy it is for a person in a power position (like me) to make such “jokes” without understanding the impact it might have on someone in a less powerful place in our social hierarchies.

    My apologies!

  • I always read anything potentially controversial over three or four times before I post it. When I haven’t, I’ve sometimes regretted it deeply!

    The Sheriff idea was most definitely intended as humor. I think my job will be more like a referee!

  • Your last point is probably a good one. And I wouldn’t mind using the DSM as a conflict resolution tool in the way you suggest, but I would hate to send a penny to the authors. Perhaps we can use toilet paper instead – the value would be the same, but at least the toilet paper manufacturers are honest about its intended use.

    I very much appreciate your support and advice. Sarcasm is probably the hardest thing to moderate. And I agree that there will be some hot items where this could get VERY interesting…

  • Exactly what I’m talking about. Thanks for clarifying and extending the concept – credibility of the poster AND of our site is what is at stake! I think we are MUCH better off when we are specific and pointed in our criticism. When we drop to ad hominem attacks and sweeping generalizations, it is much easier to attack or dismiss us as unstable or uneducated. First-hand experience with specific details is what really gets past people’s defenses.

  • I don’t intend to be a censor. I intend to make sure that people aren’t mean and nasty to each other. That’s all. It really won’t be that different from what’s been happening all along. I’m just trying to be clear about what I’m intending so no one is surprised. So far, I’ve moderated two posts out of the last 5 days, so I don’t think it’s going to be as much of an impact as some folks are imagining.

    Thanks for your perspectives – you are clearly a person of great intelligence and learning. I’ve still GOT to read Hillman – got any suggestions on where to start?

  • Thanks for your comments and your willingness to give me a shot!

    I can say from my viewpoint that I don’t think there is any resistance to the idea that “rethinking” may include abolition. Bob and all the top editors looked over this blog and supported it 100%. I believe I’ll be supported fully in allowing content from across the spectrum of opinion, as long as it is stated within the guidelines.

    I agree (and said so in the blog) that there is a lot more “wiggle room” in the insulting a group concept. A big part of my desire to make this a priority is that I believe making generalizations about “the mentally ill” or some diagnostic category is very much accepted in our society, and not even noticed in many cases. So I’d really appreciate it if you let me know if you feel like I’m missing such instances. I think it is very good discipline for anyone to think carefully about generalizing, because generalization is the beginning of bigotry. Even if the generalization applies to 80% of a group, there is still 20% being unfairly disrespected. That’s my take on it, anyway. So I really want us to be specific about who we are talking about and to own our own experiences, whether we’re professionals or survivors or family members or just interested parties checking out the site.

    You may also note that “feeling insulted” isn’t the standard for moderation. I provided 5 different options for people who feel insulted, including reporting the comment. Just because it’s reported doesn’t mean it will get moderated. The one thing I wish I had was the ability to communicate to the person reporting a comment to find out what they are upset about, because sometimes I can’t figure out what the issue was. I suppose someone could e-mail me with their concern to add clarification. Anyway, my point is that the standard is not someone FEELING insulted, it’s if a reasonable person would consider it insulting. And it is sometimes going to be a close call. This is why I included the “thick skinned” comment in the blog.

    Anyway, I’m going to do my best, and I’m sure I’ll make errors, and I’ll count on you to help keep me on mission. Thanks again for your comments and your good wishes!

  • As I like to say, “Generalizations are always wrong!”

    I appreciate your support. I think the distinction between attacking ideas vs. people is the most important part of this approach. I know that there is some concern that certain views are more likely to be edited because they are uncomfortable for professionals to hear, and I wanted to make clear that is in no way ever going to happen.

    We’ll see how it goes!

  • I think there is a LOT of room between “expand the mental health system” and making career patients or “peer specialists” who support the system and the suggestion that some seem to make that any form of assistance offered to people experiencing mental or emotional distress from a professional source is de facto oppression. I guess that’s my definition of “strict abolitionist position” – no professional assistance may be offered for any form of mental/emotional distress. My understanding is that you have no objection to the latter when force is eliminated. I have absolutely agreed with you that the use of force as “treatment” (which includes manipulation, threats, lying, enforcing “diagnoses” to get insurance reimbursement, and so on) is wrong and needs to be eliminated.

    What about my example of altering the system to meet the needs of kids (or adults), rather than “treating” those who don’t “adjust” to the authoritarian system that we’re supposed to all love?