Sunday, June 20, 2021

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • I don’t know that Robert would identify MIA as a “social justice site,” but it certainly provides a safe space for survivors to have a voice, and the forums here are populated primarily by survivors, and we have discussions that center on issues that would get commenters tossed off of a lot of “mainstream” sites. And there are many articles posted by survivors, such as Christine’s this very week. I think it is exceedingly unfair to call MIA a forum for “liberal mental health professionals.” There is a hell of a lot more going on here than that. In fact, I seem to recall certain “liberal mental health professionals” either changing their tunes or stopping posting here because they could not handle the intensity of the appropriate feedback from the survivors who are the core of the commenting communities. So I respectfully and firmly disagree with your assessment.

  • Wow, they seem to be worried that you “voice hearers” will compare notes! Can you ask them what evidence they have that voice hearers getting together is harmful? The evidence I am aware of says that it’s quite helpful to get together with other voice hearers. Honestly, they have no idea what they’re talking about, or they’re lying. You should do what feels right to you, and to hell with what they think!


    I continue to be concerned we are going too far afield, here, even though I participated myself in getting us here. My sense is that no one is disputing that a lab release is a very plausible explanation for what happened, and that this explanation was quickly and summarily dismissed without investigation at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. I’m not seeing that anything else can be inferred from this fact, and I don’t really want to see this conversation go down that pathway. The question of how to distinguish a “conspiracy theory” from a feasible explanation seems like a topic related to the
    “mental health” system, but I want to make sure we do not get back into another endless loop about unprovable opinions regarding the intentions of various parties, good or bad. That is a conversation for another website.

    Just trying to head this off before we end up going down that pathway.


  • The doctors almost killed my dad when he was 40. He was on blood thinners from a recent heart attack, and they gave him something that was totally contraindicated with blood thinners, with a warning it might kill the patient. He had sudden bruising from barely touching his arm. He looked it up in the PDR and found out what was happening. If he had trusted them, a minor accident, a fall, a bump on the head could have killed him!

  • “The road to hell…” as they say. Good intentions in a damaging system usually leads to either the person quitting or being coopted into doing things they know are wrong. The system needs to change. Changing the personnel without changing the model just leads to more of the same.

  • You can tell by the intensity of the response who doesn’t have the real data behind them. Why would there be a need to put down someone sharing their own negative experience if you are SO confident that the drugs are great? Couldn’t you just listen and say, “Wow, that sucks! That didn’t happen to me, but if it happened to you, I’m really sorry to hear it. I guess they don’t work the same for everyone!” Is it that hard to be a tad empathetic? Apparently.

    But there is still that one out of 10, and that’s who we have to look for, I think.

    I also think it matters what site you go on. I used to post occasionally on the CHADD site (very pro-drug ADHD site, or was at the time at least, kind of like the NAMI of “ADHD” parents). Man, you had to tread lightly not to be attacked or tossed off the site! I stuck to sharing studies and alternative approaches, and my own experience with MY own kids, but still got attacked. I told them I had two “ADHD” type kids who grew up fine without drugs. I admitted it was a lot of work and required a lot of creativity and research and just trying things out. Still, they said things like, “It’s great if your kid has a mild case and you can get by without drugs.” (There was nothing MILD about Patrick, I can tell you, and Kevin would have been just as tough, except we learned from Patrick how to handle him!) Or, “I know this worked for you, but we don’t want you to discourage or shame other parents who might need the medication for their kids.” They “corrected” me when I said “drug” instead of “medication,” even when I pointed out that d-amphetamine was actually a street drug of abuse.

    I may have educated a few people but most of their minds were made up. So I stopped wasting time on it and started looking for sites that were less rigid and medical-model oriented. I still toss out some corrective data in that kind of site from time to time, but I don’t expect to be welcomed there! Mostly, I try to find communities like this one where my views are a little more “mainstream,” even when the site is totally NOT mainstream!

  • Interesting how an ineffective “cocktail” of drugs leads to the conclusion that a “new cocktail” needs to be devised, rather than the more obvious but less remunerative conclusion that “cocktails” of random drugs simply don’t lead to good outcomes, at a minimum in this case at least. The answer is always more or different drugs, it seems, no matter how many times that screw just WON’T HAMMER IN PROPERLY WITH THIS HAMMER!

  • They are also often used on children or the developmentally delayed or the elderly for “aggression.” As one can imagine, it’s pretty easy to conjure up some “aggression” in any of these populations by just putting hands on someone and trying to move them, and when they fight back, call them “aggressive.” Psychosis these days is the tip of a much larger iceberg when it comes to “antipsychotics.”

  • It is disturbing that the kind of stalking behavior you are talking about is laughed at and minimized. The view that he is obsessive and stalking because he “loves you so much” is a common one that is strongly supported by our media. How many “romantic” movies involve a woman turning down a man’s advances, and him engaging in “romantic” behavior like following her home, strewing her walkway with rose petals, serenading her outside her window while the neighbors look on, proposing to her in an extremely public venue, and other obnoxious behaviors that show he “loves her so much?”

    I’m so sorry you were not supported by your coworkers. People who engage in that kind of behavior are almost always dangerous and need to be stopped very early in the process.

    Your insight that the “voices” that people here are often them fighting with someone from the past is a very good one!

  • I agree, testing for those with “extra sensitivity” could easily be used as an excuse for not facing the fact that the drugs themselves are systematically destructive and don’t actually “treat” anything, any more than drinking “treats” anxiety by interfering with a person’s inhibitions. (Someone recently shared with me a study on using laughing gas to “treat” depression! The idea of it made me laugh out loud!)

    That being said, I do think it’s good for the common person to know that such genetic vulnerabilities do exist and to insist that doctors check for these before prescribing them random drugs. Apparently, the genetics affect a lot more than just psych drugs, and people who have this particular vulnerability deserve to know about it.

  • That actually makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve seen kids get super aggressive on stimulants, then be put on Risperdal to “calm them down.” When someone prevailed upon them to stop double-drugging the kid, they always want to take them of Risperdal first, which of course then leads to the aggression they’d created with the stimulants, which leads to, “Oh, no, he’s having a relapse, we’d better abort!”

  • I tend to agree with you overall, but I think we need to reserve skepticism for both directions. Choosing to believe a “theory” because it “feels right” isn’t really valid, either. We need evidence. And as you describe it, it has been very difficult to get true and honest information from anyone in this COVID mess. So sometimes all we can do is gather the information we have and make the best decision we can based on what we know and our intuition. My intuition tells me that intentionally releasing a virus to create a worldwide pandemic doesn’t really benefit anyone enough to be worth the effort to make it happen. I could be wrong, but it just seems way too far fetched for me. Whereas an accidental release seems much more believable based on history and probabilities. Others will have a different take. But if we are going to have a group discussion of what is/isn’t happening, it has to start with what is known. If the answer is “little to nothing,” I suppose intuition is all that’s left to us, but it’s not really appropriate for people (I’m not referring to you, of course) to cast aspersions on others’ characters because of personal intuition. There is a very big leap from, “I’m feeling uncomfortable with the information about the last election” to “there was massive fraud, the election was stolen and we need to break into the Capitol and stop the transfer of power by violent means if necessary.” Just as an example.

  • I am not sure I can agree with you. I evaluate “conspiracy theories” like any other theory: 1) given what I know, how likely/unlikely is such a theory to be true? (Occam’s Razor, for instance – is it the simplest explanation? Does it require me to assume untestable proposals? How many times?) And 2) is there actual hard evidence to substantiate the claim?

    An example would be the recent claims of a stolen election. As to 1), the simplest explanation is that Trump simply lost the election. For any other theory to hold water, it would have to have a plausible mechanism by which it occurred. The idea that millions of people “voted fraudulently” and ALL voted for Biden illegally and somehow local election officials missed it requires believing unprovable premises that contradicts many decades of experience. The idea that there was a giant conspiracy to intentionally overlook these millions of irregularities that involved life-long Republican election officials somehow joining in to get a Democrat elected requires even more unprovable and very unlikely assumptions to be true. Which moves us to 2). If I am to believe these less likely scenarios to be accurate, I will need hard evidence, and the more implausible the theory, the more hard evidence is required. Dozens and dozens of cases were brought before a wide range of judges, both Dem- and GOP-appointed, some Trump appointed, and not one case was found to have sufficient evidence to go to a full trial. So we have two unlikely scenarios requiring unprovable assumptions to be accepted, and a lack of any concrete evidence. These “theories” can be dismissed out of hand. They are simply false.

    Whereas the “lab origin” theory does NOT stretch the imagination at all – historically, lab accidents have happened, if pretty rarely, including adverse consequences (remember the Killer Bees?), and safety protocols are not infrequently ignored (look at handwashing figures at hospitals for support for that premise). When it was denied initially, there was no specific evidence against it, nor was their evidence in favor of alternate theories. It was pure speculation, and I never did buy it. On the other hand, the idea that there was an international conspiracy to release COVID into the environment intentionally was a much more difficult premise to buy (WHY would “they” do this again? To sell vaccines???), and required a number of untestable assumptions, and is FAR less probable than a lab release origin. So until and unless I see specific hard evidence to show this far less likely scenario to be more feasible, I am ignoring that as a likely cause, and am putting my bets on accidental lab release.

    An old medical saying goes, “When you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras.” Unless you’re on the African savannah, of course!


  • I don’t see how science could ever prove or disprove the existence of a Supreme Being. Science is the study of what happens under earthly/celestial rules. The idea of a supreme being transcends the rules of earthly existence by definition. They are simply different realms. Science could totally follow exact rules that are completely knowable and still be the product of some form of creation. At the same time, the world could be filled with one mystery after another and still be the product of physical forces with no creator in sight. So to me, science is not required nor likely capable of proving or disproving the existence of a creator, and it can happily go on being scientific and reliable and helpful and viable without the question of a supreme being even being raised. Science and religion are simply two different realms that have little to do with each other. As long as religion doesn’t invalidate the facts we observe in front of us, it’s all fine by me for people to have and exercise their faith. I only object when one’s faith says that what is observed is wrong because some book or prophet says so. Otherwise, who am I to decide how we all got here?

  • Ombudsmen can stand up for individuals in oppressive systems, and can collect data and stories relating to oppressive patterns that transcend individual cases. But advocates alone can’t create system change – I think it requires the “consumers” to stand up and demand different “solutions.” And some systems are simply too corrupt or ill-intended to start with and resist any effort to “reform.” Such systems need to be discarded and a new plan built from scratch.

  • I think that stuff about “free will” has very little to do with science at all. It’s essentially a philosophical argument, suggesting that because there is not enough time to “think” before making certain decisions (such as a batter swinging at a ball) that therefore the person can’t have made a decision and must be compelled to be acting the way that s/he is. They pretend that this is “science” by measuring reaction times and the time required for a conscious cognition to be put into effect. The measurement of such times is scientific, but the conclusion is based on the (I believe quite errant) assumption that a conscious thought is required in order to make a decision. This is NOT a scientific, but a philosophical premise. A common fallacy these days is to measure something (like PET or SPECT scans) and then draw conclusions based on unstated philosophical assumptions, which invalidates the conclusions entirely.

    Anyone who watched Mike Schmidt (Hall of Fame third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies back in the 1970s and ’80s) foul off one pitch after another after another when he had two strikes on him, waiting until he walked or got a good one to hit (as I did many times when I lived in Philly), has to conclude that the guy was doing it on purpose, no matter whether or not he had time to consciously decide where that ball was coming into the plate!

    Sorry if that’s too far down the “rabbit hole” for others. Feel free to ignore!


  • The “Authorities” always say that this kind of intervention is “too expensive” and doesn’t get funded. Meanwhile, they spend billions on useless and destructive “treatments” that could easily be redirected toward this kind of help. It’s more like, “We can’t afford to fund this because it will take our snoots out of our comfortable troughs!”

  • A big part of the problem is that there is no actual standard on what “helping people” actually means. Of course, it can be vastly different for each person from their own perspective -forr one it’s getting married, another it’s getting out of a dead-end job, another it’s recovering from childhood abuse, another is working on serious health issues – naturally, when you lump together people who have little to nothing in common, it’s going to be hard to define any kind of “improvement.” The only thing that makes sense to me as a standard is that the person in front of you becomes more capable of handling his/her life in as self-determined a way as possible. Nothing else really can make sense for everyone at one time. Not very “measurable,” but I’d say the client/helpee will know if they are feeling more in control of their lives!

  • Your statements are unfortunately very valid. People are susceptible to being sold “wish fulfillment.” I’m not sure what anyone can do about that. What I think you’re leaving out is that this model primarily serves those who wish to label and dismiss the distress of others and have them take the blame for it. Is it really likely that the average person is going to stop believing in psychiatry, or in the infallibility of doctors in general, when they are blanketed with propaganda through their own doctors, the media, the schools, their churches, their friends, and so on? We can’t expect the mass of individuals to develop this kind of insight – action needs to take place on a MUCH larger scale than hoping that educated individuals somehow acting en mass to alter the economics of selling people drugs that don’t work at a premium price.

  • You are talking about internalized oppression here. No one is denying it exists. I am saying that it is still the full responsibility of the abusive “doctors” in the system to NOT “tell people what they want to hear” but instead to tell people the truth, regardless of what they want to hear. That’s the responsibility their power conveys upon them. We can and should help people NOT view themselves as helpless, by all means, but that does not for one instant relieve psychiatry’s responsibility for pitching that narrative with all they have the power and money to do. Most people would have a much harder time convincing themselves they are hopeless without the unscrupulous support of those in power who know better, but pitch that narrative only so they can make themselves rich at their patient/victims’ expense. And even those who DON’T view themselves as hopeless/powerless are relentlessly beat upon to accept that viewpoint, not only by doctors, but by friends and relatives and TV shows and movies and the evening news, not to mention DTC advertising. We need to stop the onslaught instead of wasting our energy trying to talk the victims of the onslaught into ignoring the enormous social pressure to conform!

  • Lawrence, I am not arguing that people are not making decisions. But a lot of times they are NOT aware of doing so, while the “mental heath” industry is quite aware and intentional in their deceptive practices, and takes advantage of common cultural beliefs to manipulate those who are not as aware of their ability or need to think independently. I don’t think it is proper to invalidate all responsibility for the clients, as reassuming responsibility is critical to improving one’s emotional state. However, there is a big difference in levels of responsibility. The client has a normal human desire to seek a quick and easy solution, just like almost all human beings on earth. They are responsible for choosing to trust and believe the doctors’ pronouncements and directions, which our society totally supports and even expects of people (I can’t tell you the flak I’ve taken over the decades for questioning doctors’ opinions, and not just from the doctors!) Whereas the clinician knows (or should know) about human nature and the tendency to look for easy solutions, and intentionally tells a tale that they know to be false, taking advantage of the subconscious need to trust them on the part of the client. They are also responsible for observing whether or not their intervention is helpful, for researching the outcomes for these interventions, and for changing the intervention if it doesn’t seem to be working. Failure to do all these things is 100% on the clinician, whatever level of awareness the client may or may not possess.

    Psychiatrists as a guild, in particular, are responsible for creating an utterly dishonest narrative for promoting their own financial and guild power interests and using what they know about human nature to create incentives for people to avoid their real problems and rely on the psychiatric profession for a “solution.” They spend billions and billions of dollars on this, invent new “disorders” in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry, create or alter “practice guidelines” in the direction that increases their power, influence, and income, and intentionally ignore or misinterpret their own industry’s research that says that none of this crap really makes a difference in the long run, and in fact can be quite destructive or even deadly.

    So on the one hand, we have the clients, the “marks,” as it were, who are guilty of being human and seeking an easy way out, and we have the gigantic collaborative shell game which is utterly committed to milking the “marks” for all they’re worth by lying to them and making them think such easy solutions are real, in contradiction to data they are quite well aware of. We know who is really running the show here. And that’s not even talking about directly or indirectly “involuntary” clients, which encompasses a lot more people than most of us are aware of.

    Blaming the clients for being gullible feels very much like saying that domestic abuse or rape victims should just learn to make better choices and avoid abusers, thus letting the abusers completely off the hook. Yes, it would be very good for them to learn to recognize abusers earlier (I wrote a book on this very subject), but the abusers are the ones making the problem. If there were no assholes out there looking to victimize them, they would not have to look out for them. The assholery is 100% the responsibility of the assholes in the world, and blaming the victims for having normal human emotions and reactions doesn’t help change the situation at all. The real goal should be for those authorities to actually BE trustworthy and tell their clients the real truth, even if the clients don’t want to hear it or believe it.

  • I think it mostly works great for those in positions of power who want to evade responsibility for the results of their use of the power they have. This can be a parent who isn’t willing to figure out how they might better approach their child, or a teacher who would rather blame the student than change their educational approach, or even a whole system like foster care where it’s easier and less uncomfortable to “diagnose” their charges than to figure out what is actually going on and how to help for real.

    As in any oppressive system, internalized oppression is a very real problem. There have always been women, for example, who vociferously object to any discussion of altering gender roles, or foster youth who embrace the identity of “mentally ill” because that’s what is expected of them and rewarded, or kids who believe they are “stupid” or “bad” because they can’t make themselves fit into the abnormal expectations of the school system. But such internalization, in my view, is a consequence of the system, not a causal factor. It is true that being “diagnosed” with a “mental illness” can temporarily relieve a “client” from the responsibility of having to take action to move their lives in a positive direction, but it is psychiatry who is responsible for holding out this false hope of a ‘Medical solution’ and creating a Stockholm-syndrome kind of situation where hope of the “right answer” is always right around the corner, with the next “change of meds,” while the poor client gradually deteriorates and begins to blame him/herself for not being a “good enough” mental patient.

  • Training and education are a part of how any culture transmits its knowledge to another generation or to other members of the society as a whole. There is nothing wrong with someone with higher skills in a particular area teaching someone who doesn’t have all those skills how to do what they know how to do. It would be silly for an expert blacksmith to not teach others their blacksmithing skills because it somehow prevents them from a purely egalitarian relationship. And I also see no reason why the blacksmith would be wrong to charge for that service of training.

    The serious problem we are really talking about is the cooptation of a movement to empower people by an institution dedicated to putting people down. The word “peer” has been so seriously coopted by the “mental health” system that it is difficult to use it in its original meaning. But KS is right, a “peer” is simply someone who is at an equal social status or standing as you are, rather than possessing some kind of power advantage. Co-workers are peers, as opposed to management. Students in the same class can be referred to as peers without any negative implications. It appears to me that it is only in the field of psychiatry/”mental health” that the term has come to mean something potentially nefarious. And of course, the “peers” who are buying into the system are no longer “peers” in the true sense, as they are granted a certain “power over” their ostensible “peers,” but only as long as they toe the party line.

    So the problem isn’t “peers helping peers.” The problem is the authoritarian power distribution in the “mental health” system that pits people against each other and requires compliance with certain dogma in order to be granted “power over” those deemed beneath you in the system. In my view, there is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching certain approaches or techniques or ways of thinking about how we help each other, as long as 1) these approaches are offered in a “take what you need and leave the rest” style, rather than a “this is the right way and anyone who disagrees is wrong” approach, and 2) the training is not offered in the context of an authoritarian system where those higher in the hierarchy are permitted, nay, are EXPECTED to put those beneath them in their proper place.

  • My main objection is reframing what is likely a wide range of withdrawal effects as “relapse.” I find this quite disingenuous. It assumes that the “antidepressants” are automatically helping in all cases and that the psychotherapy is needed because not having the pills to keep their “disease” under control means they’d need therapy. The idea that they feel bad because of the known and often serious withdrawal effects of stopping the pills themselves is completely discounted.

  • Hey, I have a better plan: if you just take a couple teaspoons of Epsom Salts in warm water in the morning, you’ll completely lose your appetite for anything, feel nauseated at the thought of food, and have a bad case of the runs within hours! A lot cheaper than taking the drugs with the same result. People who purge have been aware of this for DECADES! But seriously, folks, what kind of an industry comes up with solutions like this? What’s next, they burn out our taste buds so nothing tastes good? At least the stomach staple is honest in its approach and doesn’t pretend to be “treating” anything. What is wrong with these people???

  • I feel compelled to ask a question here, not as moderator but just as a person. It seems you feel that someone is telling you that you don’t have a right to “be ill.” You have talked at great length and quite articulately about the importance of allowing multiple definitions or understandings of what is called schizophrenia in the DSM, and have acknowledged the sketchy and subjective nature of these DSM labels. I have also seen many posters, including me, support you in being able to view yourself as schizophrenic or ill or however it is that best describes what is happening to you. I honestly don’t recall one person saying you are wrong to view yourself that way, though it is possible I have missed it.

    So my question to you is – who do you feel is telling you that you don’t have a right to identify as ill or schizophrenic? And what are they saying that is giving you that message?

    It seems pretty clear that you feel compelled to say this same thing many times, which makes me think you are not feeling heard, yet looking from my perspective, I don’t really understand what it is that is not being heard? Can you help me understand this, in specific and simple terms? What is it that people are saying that upsets you and gives you the sense that your right to be ill is being taken away from you?

    I hope you will take this in the spirit in which it is asked. I really do want to understand.


  • “Normalization” was to me the most essential element in approaching people in distress. Letting people know that their reaction to their situation was pretty common, and that lots of other people had experienced similar struggles or engaged in similar coping strategies. Helping them see that their reactions were less the issue than the things they were reacting to. Which is pretty much the opposite of what most people experience when they encounter the “mental health” system.


    Everyone is welcome to post at MIA, as you say. There are no restrictions on language, other than what is listed in the “Posting Guidelines.” This does not mean that others will always see things similarly or won’t argue or disagree. It’s OK to argue and disagree about concepts/ideas as long as you’re not attacking a person or group or people. It gets stickier when one person feels that attacking a particular concept or idea is attacking them personally. This can lead to difficult conversations, but again, that doesn’t mean anyone is not welcome, it just means that words/ideas have different meanings to different people. It is always my hope that such conversations lead to some kind of Hegelian synthesis where everyone understands each other at a higher level. But sometimes we have to agree to disagree, and that’s OK. MIA doesn’t take sides, we just try to make sure the conversation is fair and respectful.

    Hope that clarifies things!


  • Sometimes I am just trying to meet someone where they are and create some common reality. Not everything I say is intended as advocacy for the cause of ending psychiatry. Sometimes I’m just talking to someone. I don’t like the idea that you are hovering around waiting to pass judgment on the adequacy of my communication. It was not intended for your consumption, and frankly isn’t really your business to critique, IMHO.

  • You know, I find I agree with most of what you have said. The problem I see is, and I’m guessing you agree with me, it is (or should be) the job of the psychiatric profession to correct these misimpressions and to get people to focus on what really will improve their lives. So it’s definitely true that the residential treatment staff would often refer kids to a psychiatrist for such idiotic indications as “doesn’t want to go to school” or “stays in her room too much (isolates)” or “won’t complete their ADLs” (I kid you not, these are all three actual reasons provided by treatment programs to justify a “med increase.”) But I also think it’s true that the psychiatrists had a responsibility to say, “You know, it’s not OK to refer kids to me just because you can’t figure out how to get them to school. That’s really your job as a residential counselor.” Or “Yes, teacher, Joey can be hard to handle in class, but he’s super smart and tells me he’s bored to death. He needs to be challenged in class – what can we do to make things more interesting and challenging for Joey, instead of blaming him for being bored?”

    There are a lot of “reasons” why this epidemic of labeling and drugging has occurred, DTC advertising being a very big one. However, psychiatry as a profession has paved the way for this to happen, by redefining mental/emotional problems as “probably biological” and by selling the drug solution as the first line intervention, instead of a temporary or adjunct intervention on the path to empowering the client. At least, that’s my view of it.

  • I am sharing only my own experience as an advocate for foster youth and earlier as a mental health professional. I don’t recall many psychiatrists in community settings trying to taper patients from drugs they got from family physicians. Most of the time, they got referrals from physicians who had prescribed either stimulants (for “ADHD” diagnoses) and/or SSRIs (for “major depression,” which was a very common “diagnosis” for foster kids). They usually got referrals because the physicians’ initial prescriptions didn’t work or more commonly made things worse (usually made them MORE aggressive instead of less), and most of the time, they increased dosages or added new drugs, even if it was kind of obvious that the drugs were causing the problem. As advocates, we usually had to move heaven and earth to get them to EVER reduce ANY drug, let alone drop something from their regime. Every once in a while, they might do a “med wash” if things were super messed up, but that was one case in 500 probably. Most of the time the answer was more “meds” in bigger amounts. There were only two psychiatrists I ever met who even understood that stimulants could make kids aggressive, and only one who regularly did anything about it. I could count the number of med reductions on two hands, and most of them were prompted by us or by the child’s attorney not by the psychiatrists. So my experience is very different than yours!

  • I think the question of whether the “system is broken” depends on what we believe it was designed to accomplish. I think it is fair to say that the system works quite well for a certain kind of person, in particular, a person who is gaining money or prestige by pretending to know things about “mental illness” when they actually have little to nothing to contribute. To such people, any “improvements” in the system are seen rather as threats to their control. They don’t see the system as broken, they see those who challenge it as deluded or hostile!

  • That is a good way to put it. The error that many make, especially those with conflicts of interest, is that they try to find evidence to support their preferred theory, and despite never finding evidence to reject the null hypothesis, they continue to believe that their hypothesis will eventually be proven true. At a certain point, failure to disprove the null hypothesis repeatedly proves the null hypothesis true.

  • Your last line says it all for me. There is nothing “disordered” about reacting emotionally to adverse circumstances, whatever they may be. In fact, it is more likely the message from authorities NOT to be emotionally powerful, NOT to tell the story, NOT to “overreact” that creates most of what is so euphemistically referred to as “mental illness.” The label-and-treat (or -drug) method makes people worse!

  • I’m not sure if the intent is specifically to marginalize and minimize, but marginalization and minimization are required to accomplish the actual goal of making money and amassing power and deflecting attention from larger social issues. Marginalization and minimization may be “means to an end,” but it doesn’t make a lot of difference to the patients. The most important, certain knowledge is that the intent is NOT to make the patients’ lives any better, whatever else may be intended.


    Very well said, and I thank you for taking the time to make this important point.

    From a moderator’s viewpoint, an argument about whether or not “Critical Race Theory” is being taught in the schools or should be or is dangerous or not dangerous doesn’t really get to the point of the article, which is about “mental health activism.” However, comments connecting CRT to “mental health” oppression such as you have done will continue to be welcome. I hope the distinction is clear.

  • ACEs represent only the extreme end of the spectrum of stressors and trauma. It’s not like “I’m traumatized, you’re not” or “I got a 14, and you only got a 9, so I had it worse than you!” What is the impact, for instance, of having an older brother who always puts you down for years? Of living in an environment where shooting and police sirens are commonplace sounds and experiences, even if you are never involved? Of having to attend a school that is incredibly dull for over a decade, or having a teacher who has a grudge against you for a year or more? Of having a mom who is nice and not abusive but is never really emotionally available to connect with? There are SO many different “micro-trauma” that can occur, and the person him/herself may not even be consciously aware of the impact they have had on him/her. That’s not even mentioning all the physiological insults that a person can have, from illnesses to toxic exposure to allergies to noise pollution to racism/sexism/etc and on and on and on. ACEs only establishes that HIGH STRESS associates with HIGH LEVELS OF PHYSIOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS. We ought to be extrapolating that to the whole range of physical and emotional stresses and micro-traumas that kids encounter in our bizarre and often toxic world.

  • I’ve long said that the DSM categories make scientific research impossible, because they group together totally heterogeneous groupings of people, particularly if you’re studying physiology. Why would anyone assume that all people who feel depressed have the same problem??? Even if we assumed there WERE some physiological cause to ‘depression,’ which of course is also a ridiculous assumption, it’s like saying everyone with a rash has the same cause, or everyone with a sore knee should be diagnosed with “knee pain disorder.” (Of course, medicine IS moving in that direction, with things like “high blood pressure” and “obesity” being now accepted as “diagnoses.”) Naturally, if you studied people with “knee pain disorder,” you’d find that most did not respond to any single treatment, with only 20% responding to arthritis treatments, 15% responding to chiropractic adjustments, 20% responding to treatment for strained ligaments, 15% to orthotic shoe inserts, etc. All of these treatments would be dismissed because they only helped a small percentage of the “KPD” patients, and the only thing that would “help” the majority of them (temporarily) would, of course, be pain killers. So we’d decide that “KPD” is a chronic, untreatable condition, but that we can “manage symptoms” with pain killers for life. Works great for Big Pharma, but not so good for the person who could function fine in a few weeks or months if they got the correct treatment for their actual underlying problem!


    At this point, I’d like to bring the discussion of the use of the term “schizophrenia” and the related issues to an end, at least as far as this particular thread is concerned. It seems that all the positions and viewpoints have been aired and are at this point being repeated. I think anyone reading this thread will get a very good idea of the issues and the various ways to look at it. I don’t want to have things deteriorate into a more personalized exchange that could be hurtful, and in truth, the thread has veered pretty far from the original topic of the difficulties being a “mental health professional” who is out of agreement with the status quo model of reality that is so vociferously enforced by the “authorities” in the field.

    Thanks to everyone for their contributions – it has been a very interesting discussion!


  • Just to clarify, I was not talking only about “critical psychiatry” people from the “professional” ranks. I know of plenty of clients/survivors/victims who totally bought into the “mental health” narrative to start with, then began moving to “Critical” as they learned and experienced more of the failures and damage that the system doles out, and eventually to a more abolitionist stance. Laura Delano is only one good example. I agree it is true that most antipsychiatry activists don’t come from the professional ranks, but “peer workers” and some fringe therapist types (like me) who never did embrace the “medical model” are certainly worth spending time educating. Stephen was another good example of someone who worked in the system but never bought into it, and came to a more radical position through observing the way he was treated in his “peer” role. Such people to me are very much worth educating, as their evolution does happen with some frequency, in my observation.

    Of course, I agree that being “scientific” is a necessary but certainly not close to sufficient criterion for any kind of claim of “medical treatment.” And that there are many areas where science is not able to really provide any answers, such as the nature and function of the mind itself.

    Additionally, I’m not a pure “professional” type, as you may remember.


  • That makes great sense to me. It is easy to see how that could bring comfort. And as I said, I think you should do whatever it is that gets you through the day. I have no criticism for anyone who personally wants to embrace whatever label they choose. It is, indeed, the bullying aspect that I object to. I do think it’s very possible to be assertive and strong without being a bully. But it’s a skill that few truly develop.

    Take care of yourself!

  • I am suspicious of the trope that any “mental illness” has a unitary cause at all. Trauma, nutrition, social conditions, sleep problems, immigration, urbanization, adverse drug events, grief and loss… there are many, many potential causes for any “mental illness” that exist and are routinely ignored.

    Treating people as individuals and looking for root causes instead of categorizing and discriminating against people based on social constructs seems to me more likely to lead to better outcomes, regardless of what the DSM/psychiatry wants us to call these phenomena.

  • I hear and I think I understand what you’re saying, both of you. Here is where I think the conflict lies: I think that you, DS, are arguing about your right to view yourself as ill and having schizophrenia and find objections to these terms conflicting with those rights. I see you, Oldhead, saying that giving power to these words IN GENERAL means giving power to the system to label and judge people and also gives credence to the idea that psychiatry can define “mental illness” by coming up with a list of “criteria” voted on in a meeting of privileged “professionals” who are more or less arbitrarily condemning people to a label indicating that their brain is broken without any objective means of identifying what is supposedly wrong.

    Oddly, I agree with both of you. I think the use of the term “schizophrenia” by an individual, and/or a reframing or believe that you as a person “have an illness” is your absolute right as a human being that no one should try to take away from you.

    At the same time, I see the damage that these labels do to people, as you, DS, saw in my presentation on “ADHD.” So in general, having these labels ENFORCED on individuals who may or may not agree with these evaluations or the philosophy behind them is evil. And spreading the idea in society that psychiatrists have some inside knowledge of the causes and effective “treatments” for these “mental illnesses” that they claim to be able to identify is very destructive socially, as it reframes what are often completely normal reactions to difficult or oppressive social conditions as “diseases of the brain” or “of the mind” with no evidence that there is anything at all wrong with a person’s brain.

    So it’s no big deal for YOU to believe in schizophrenia and view it as a disease, if that is what you see and believe is going on. However, it IS a very big deal when psychiatry as a profession/industry is promoting a concept of “mental illness” that is not actually supported by science, or in fact is even able to define its basic terms (like “mind”), and that has huge financial conflicts of interest driving its claims, and which claims are very destructive to our society at large.

    And it is VERY difficult to engage in an honest discussion of the damage done by the current psychiatric system without directly criticizing the idea of “diagnosing” people with “mental illnesses” in the absence of any evidence that these sets of “criteria” they identify correlate with any kind of specific biological problem. This observation does not in any way suggest that you, DS, do NOT have an illness of some sort, nor does it suggest that you aren’t allowed to call it an illness or call it “schizophrenia.” What it means to me is that the PROFESSION calling EVERY situation where people have similar experiences to you “schizophrenia” is not supported by science, nor is it even philosophically sound for professionals to suggest that people have an “illness” that can’t be defined by any objective means. I hope that this difference is clarified by my remarks. This conflict is the cause of much consternation both by those identifying personally as “schizophrenic” and those who find the process of labeling BY PROFESSIONALS in general to be objectionable on the face of it. And this conflict, while understandable, is to me unnecessary. Because the first has to do with the right of an INDIVIDUAL to identify with their own terms and ideas, while the second has to do with the assumed authority of a large cohort of professionals to use their power to label a range of people as “mentally ill” without their agreement or even any objective scientific evidence supporting such claims. These are very different assertions that don’t actually conflict with each other, even though it may feel as if they do.

    I hope that helps a little.


  • I think there is a more fundamental problem – your comments (and Laing’s) presume that “schizophrenia” is a unitary condition with a unitary cause, whether it’s biology or trauma or “refrigerator moms.” There is, of course, no accurate, objective way to determine who “has” or “does not have schizophrenia,” since “schizophrenia” is “diagnosed” by a list of thoughts/behaviors that allow for a broad range of “clinical opinions” to enter in, to the point where people who have literally not one single “symptom” in common can all be labeled as “schizophrenic.”

    So we are left at a place where any explanation will fail, because no one explanation could possibly explain such a wide variety of experiences and behavior. So we get endless discussions of who “has it” or whether “it” really means anything specific at all, or what causes “it” if anything. And we have people like DS who perceive correctly that SOMETHING is not right, and yet the “help” she is offered is ineffectual, perhaps because they are given the idea that the psychiatrists “know” something that they don’t.

    So the most sense that can be made of “schizophrenia” is that it is a name for a certain broad set of experiences, and that some people (like DS) identify with it and others don’t. It does acknowledge the idea that SOMETHING is wrong, yet it does nothing to determine what is actually wrong or what if anything should be done about it. People should be respected for the identity that makes sense to them, yet the general use of the term will never lead to any resolution or effective “treatment,” because we are expecting people who have a wide range of different issues going on to ALL respond to the same “treatment.”

  • I’m not aware that the requirement to do one’s own therapy before becoming a professional therapist is still in place in the USA, at least not in most places. It used to be a requirement, and in my view, it still ought to be. The big problem being that the “outcomes” for therapy are so disparate, and in fact, even the idea of what an actual positive outcome IS (lower symptoms? Less troublesome behavior for society? Opinion of the client? Achievement of agreed-upon goals? Avoidance of hospitalization?) that it would be very difficult to get any kind of consistency in our therapy candidates’ therapeutic “success” ratings.

  • I agree with this. Many who eventually become antipsychiatry activists begin (like I did) with a “critical psychiatry” stance. There is an evolution of viewpoint that takes place as people gather more information, and I don’t think it’s proper for me to judge where people need to be on that path. I don’t hesitate to lay out facts for people to hear, and I don’t for a minute buy that doing so is somehow “shaming” people who don’t want to know the information. But I don’t expect people to agree with me just because I said so, and I try to meet people where they are and help them take whatever next step seems right for them. Psychiatry takes away people’s ability to make their own decisions about things. I’m not going to do the same, even if people see things differently from me.

    However, when we’re talking about systems of oppression, there is no mercy!

  • That is another of the bad things about the drug model – it gives psychologists and therapists an “out” so that instead of admitting they don’t know what’s going on or what to do, they can blame the client for “failing therapy.” Sorry, if you’re being paid to do therapy, and it doesn’t help, the only one failing is the therapist! You (the therapist) aren’t delivering your product and should step aside, instead of blaming the client’s brain and passing on your failure to your client.

  • There are lots of programs to help people with things that are not “mental illnesses.” Why would we not be able to provide a process for people to re-integrate their lives without requiring that they have a “mental illness?” Churches, support groups, hotlines, meditation groups, Tai Chi classes or meetings, community get-togethers, all of these things happen all the time with participants able to join without subscribing or being “diagnosed” with anything. Why not Soteria House?

  • Posting as moderator:

    I am approving this post, as it does not specifically violate the Posting Guidelines. However, I am concerned that this will re-create the dive into off-topic interpersonal hostility, as it has done twice before. Richard has posted his view of things, others are welcome to post their view of things, but it is essential that this not deteriorate into an us-vs-them, “You are wrong and I am right” kind of discussion. I ask for your cooperation in keeping this a safe environment for all views to be expressed. I will be keeping a close eye and will intervene swiftly if I see this conversation deteriorating into personalized attacks.

    Thanks for your help!


  • I read a study one time where they sent volunteers into a residential treatment facility for teen youth with a handful of reasonable but kind of personal questions. Over 80% of the youth revealed a trauma history to these complete strangers surveying them. Yet less than 20% had their trauma history documented in their logs! So either the youth were more willing to trust a complete stranger than one of the staff they see daily, by a factor of 4, or else the staff never bothered to ask them, or considered their revelations so irrelevant they didn’t even warrant a log entry. I thought it said a whole lot about what “treatment” constitutes today.


    At this point, this discussion seems to be moving in a more personalized direction that I don’t think is going to be productive. A couple things are clear: 1) Everyone has a right to identify as they please; 2) Everyone has a right to object to terminology they find objectionable; 3) when there is a general objection a term that an individual might find workable for him/herself, there is a very distinct possibility of feelings getting hurt.

    It seems to me that the primary conflict is around whether the general discussion of the damage done by psychiatric labels is in some way disrespectful to those who identify with such a label. I’m not going to try and be the final judge on this point, but I will say that the conflict is one that is inherent in the subjectivity of the diagnostic system itself, and is unlikely to be resolved by further discussion of this nature.

    So at this point, I am going to ask that we leave this discussion where it is at, with the acknowledgement that the conflict is not resolved, and that different people have different feelings about it, to which each is fully entitled. Others who want to discuss this further with each other are certainly entitled to do so by direct communication off line. If anyone needs/wants to connect with someone through email for further discussion, I am always happy to assist with making such connections.