Monday, February 24, 2020

Comments by Steve McCrea

Showing 5614 of 5698 comments. Show all.

  • Why should you automatically trust them? Isn’t trust earned by trustworthy behavior? Isn’t one of the “deficits” of “borderline personality disorder” (as they frame it) a difficulty deciding who can and can not be trusted?

    It is clear that these people don’t really know what they’re doing, and they get very insecure when anyone starts making it clear that they don’t, they get defensive and start blaming the person telling them the truth. It’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes! Lord help anyone who points out that the King is naked!

  • I think you start by pointing out the power differential overtly, acknowledging your power advantage and the general advantage of the other staff people and asking how they think it will affect the conversation. I would then humbly ask what YOU can do to make it more comfortable or easier for people to say what they are thinking without feeling like they might get into trouble. But I think the first discussion would be a huge one, if it gets going, and will pull you in the direction you need to go. I think the main thing is to bring it out in the open as an unavoidable fact of life, and get them talking about how it affects their experience. It will be a lot more interesting than Nietzsche, I’m thinking!

  • Another psychiatric success story! How can these people not see when their “treatment” fails utterly? In what other profession are the professionals allowed to blame their failure on the person/machine/process they are supposed to be fixing? “The bridge collapsed because it was a span-resistant river.” “We couldn’t fix your breaks because they are repair-resistant.” “You were poisoned because our chef had the misfortune of serving health-resistant food.” Come on, who the hell else would ever get away with it?

  • Somehow, I found the entire article alienating from the start. The language is very “clinical,” and there is a confusion between social conditions and “mental health diagnoses” that the authors never begin to address. If loneliness is caused by social conditions, then how does it even become a “mental illness?” If “mental illnesses” as defined by the DSM can be caused by loneliness, which is itself caused by adverse social conditions clearly identified in the research, how are they “illnesses” at all? Should they not instead inform the need for changes in the social structure that is increasing the difficulty people are having creating meaningful relationships?

    A lot of fancy words that seem to obscure more than they illuminate.

  • It seems likely that such a group would not be fully successful unless it started with a full discussion of the power dynamics entailed in you being the “professional” and organizing the group. It is apparent from your description that they patients viewed you as the “expert” regardless of any provisos you may have put out there. In fact, your ability to frame the conversation in terms of your role is already an exercise of power over the participants. Unless this set of assumptions, which may have largely been unconscious or subconscious, are fully deconstructed, the group as you envisioned it was unlikely to develop.

    Of course, if you HAD conducted such a discussion, your hierarchical peers would have felt their power threatened and almost certainly would have shut you down, just as they did with the “du” vs. “Sie” issue. Why would it bother them for you to use informal pronouns, except to the extent that it threatened their role as the “experts” speaking down to the “patients?”

    I have to wonder what Nietzsche himself might have said about the process.

  • This is why I’ve said again and again that psychiatry itself is not the enemy, it is only one manifestation of the enemy. The real enemy is AUTHORITARIANISM, the belief that people have the right to order about and take advantage of those below them in the power structure, and the belief and experience of those below that they must acquiesce to such behavior or be punished or ostracized from the group. Regardless of the name and stated purpose of a group, the ability of the group’s membership to hold the group’s leadership accountable is essential to any movement toward justice and equal rights to be successful. In other words, we have to have our own house in order before we’ll succeed at changing the external circumstances. And that is not an easy task!

  • It is also very important to note that these “differences” are AVERAGED over large numbers and are generally quite small. There is a huge overlap between the “disordered” and the “normal” population on any such measure. In other words, even if the average brain size of an “ADHD” diagnosed child is smaller, there are many “ADHD” diagnosed children who have larger brains than the average “normal,” and many “normal” kids who have brain sizes smaller than the average “ADHD” diagnosed kid. When you then take into account that the “ADHD” diagnosed population contains large numbers of kids on stimulants, which we know decreases brain size in the area of the basal ganglia, even these average differences reflect nothing at all.

    SO in other words, it’s all smoke and mirrors. There is no “difference in the brains” of “ADHD”-diagnosed kids. It’s all PR.

  • But there IS a point in telling parents that their kids have a “brain disorder,” even though this has been disproven decades ago: they will be more willing to accept and administer a drug to their child. That is the ONLY purpose for this deception to have continued this long, and the fact that it does continue makes the intentions of the profession eminently clear.

  • Where did they ever come up with that 51% suffering from trauma statistic? The real answer is in the 80-90% range from everything I’ve ever read. Did he provide a reference or was he just spewing hot gasses from his mouth?

    The “It’s not all about medication” meme is just a cover for the fact that “medication” prescriptions are 99% of a psychiatrist’s business these days. My experience (and I have a lot from advocating with foster youth) is that the vast majority of psychiatrists exist solely to prescribe and “monitor” drugs, though the term “monitor” must in most cases be used very, very loosely.

  • They need to believe in their doctors and in “Science.” It violates basic mythology for most people to question that doctors are knowledgeable scientists with their patients’ best interests at heart. We have to undermine this mythology before any real change will happen. I do feel bad that kids have to deal with parents who are deceived, but most parents are trying to do the right thing and need to be educated. Of course, there is a minority of parents who are more interested in controlling and subduing their children than in helping them live well, and such parents get very little sympathy from me.

  • The 6% (I actually think it was more like 6.7%) was from a file review, and only included those reactions noted in the kids’ files. Naturally, there would be doctors who would not notice these symptoms or would not write them down, and also kids/parents who did not report them or did so in a way that the doctor did not make the connection. So if 6% of doctors both knew and recorded these reactions, clearly the actual number so reacting would be considerably larger.

    That being said, even a 6% rate is large enough that it ought to be discussed at every “informed consent” conference with parents and children considering this “treatment.” Of course, many doctors don’t really do an informed consent consult in the first place, but even those who do rarely if ever mention to watch for psychotic symptoms as an adverse effect. In 20 years of experience as an advocate for foster youth, I never once heard or saw it mentioned to any of the 20% of kids in care who were diagnosed with “ADHD.”

  • Few parents indeed are ever told that psychotic experiences are a possible adverse effect of stimulants, even though one study indicated over 6% of kids on stimulants had psychotic symptoms noted in their files. Most kids who start showing these signs are diagnoses with “bipolar disorder” or a “psychotic disorder” and put on antipsychotics. I saw this many, many times in the foster kids I advocated for.

  • I think what it does is help create and sustain an alternate narrative of what is going on. It helps people see that an attitude critical of psychiatry is not “nuts” and is based on actual data and research as well as lots and lots of people’s experience. This in itself doesn’t change the status quo, but it helps bring people together that are opposed and provides tools and information that will help them do so. That’s my take on it, anyway.

    It also provides a space where survivors of the psychiatric system can speak their truth and not be brushed off or attacked for doing so.

  • I wouldn’t really classify him as “right wing.” He’s kind of “wingless,” says what he thinks with no real allegiance to any political viewpoint and offends both ends of the political spectrum. Though some right wing folks have attached themselves to some of the things he has said, because they can be made to fit the right-wing narrative. But in my view, he’s an equal opportunity offender.

  • In what other situations can these diagnoses be given out? They are ALWAYS given on in a subjective situation, because they are all utterly subjective by their very nature. A lay person is just as qualified as a psychiatrist to give a subjective opinion on someone’s “mental health condition,” which is why so many feel like the can do so.

  • It is clear from the focus of the “studies” that the definition of effectiveness is “reduction in symptoms.” This may or may not be of interest to the client specifically, but it certainly makes it obvious that resolving the actual issues that created the “symptoms” is never the goal. It’s like spending a ton of money on topical rash treatments without bothering to figure out if you have poison ivy, the measles, prickly heat, or syphilis. But it certainly is “effective” for creating lifetime patients and blockbuster drug sales!

  • I’d prefer to have “regular people” running for office rather than letting the ignorant and uninformed do the voting. There was an influx of new candidates in 2018, mostly women, who were NOT career politicians but just seemed tired of “business as usual.” But of course, we have to get rid of corporate money donations as point zero in any change plan, which is one thing Bernie has been very strong about.

  • Such euphemisms! What we REALLY should say is, “Schools as designed are extremely stressful for a large percentage of children. We need to rethink how schools are run so we don’t keep traumatizing our young citizens.” You don’t have to be “vulnerable” for school to stress you out. In fact, schools appear to MAKE a lot of kids “vulnerable” in ways they would not be if they participated in a more child-centered, respectful institution.

  • From my observation, antidepressants essentially induce a manic-like state, where a person is more spontaneous and less concerned about consequences. A friend of mine called it “Zolofting.” It’s kind of a “who gives a f*&k” attitude that can feel really good, especially for someone who has always been worried a lot about what other people think or feel about them. But as with all drugs, messing with the neurotransmitter system, however good it might feel, has long-term consequences that are often quite destructive. Some people seem to be able to tolerate them long term, but it’s a very risk way to “feel good,” and of course, does nothing to address why you might have been feeling bad in the first place.

  • The problem is, nobody has a clue what to test for. What’s SUPPOSED to happen is that a cause is postulated, and things that would be present when that cause exists would be extrapolated, and then we develop a test for those events/conditions. We haven’t even gotten to first base (identifying a cause), mostly because “schizophrenia,” like pretty much all the DSM “diagnoses,” is a very vague concept that could not possibly represent one specific malady, and may not represent any malady at all. So how to you test for something that is defined socially instead of physiologically?

  • There is nothing in my statements that conflicts with the idea that certain people’s conditions might have a physiological/medical genesis. All I’m saying is that calling these “mental illnesses” obscures the fact that there are multiple possible causes and multiple possible solutions, and that in many cases, there need not be anything physiologically wrong at all. Once we say someone “has depression,” any attempt to understand the real causes, be they physical, psychological, spiritual or social in nature, come to a rapid end. This is particularly true when the system automatically assumes that every single possible divergence from complete satisfaction with the status quo is caused by a “chemical imbalance” or other physiological problem.

    There are most definitely physical illnesses that manifest with psychological “symptoms.” It just doesn’t work the other way. As Socrates pointed out, if all men have facial hair, and Bob has facial hair, it doesn’t follow that Bob is a man. The logic flows from known physiological conditions to psychological effects, but not the other way.

  • The problem resides in trying to come up for a “solution” to something that can not be identified or defined as a single entity. “Mental illness” is a concept, not a disease state with a defined cause. Why would we imagine for a moment that something so nebulous and subjective as “mental illness” could possibly have a unitary cause or solution?

  • I’m glad this is coming up, and it looks very interesting! I have only one suggestion: let’s see if we can find a way to talk about “people who are suicidal” without lumping them all together and implying there is some “treatment” that is going to “help” all such people. There is a subtle but powerful subtext through most of the titles of the presentations that buys into this idea.

    How about “people who are feeling despair” or “people who are wondering if their life continues to be worth living” or something like that? Or “helping people find hope when their lives seem hopeless to them?” Something that makes it feel like “feeling suicidal” is actually a pretty common experience that doesn’t necessarily reflect anything “wrong” with the person having that experience?

    I think Leah’s title gets to this best: “The Way Forward: Pathways to Hope, Recovery, and Wellness with Insights From Lived Experience.” Hope, wellness, insights… no mention of ‘suicidal people’ at all.

  • It is also important to remember that the “differences on brain scans” are AVERAGES, not diagnostic indicators. And you’re right, of course, they could mean anything. But even if some so-called “ADHD” kids do have a different genetic presentation, SO WHAT? Tall people have different genes than short people, red haired people have different genes than blondes or brunettes, men have VASTLY different genetics in the XY chromosome area… genetic differences are the key to species survival!

    As for the heart events, this was being discussed way back in the mid 90s in antipsychiatry circles (see the “Ritalin Death” website), though it was massively denied by the mainstream. Now, once again, we find that the protesters were correct and the “professionals” were lying. Anyone see a pattern emerging here?

  • I personally thought this was quite enlightening for anyone looking at the gap between what supporters of the DSM approach say and what is really true. I don’t expect an interview with the APA head to get into Marxist analysis, I expect it to report accurately what the APA head has to say. This can be VERY important in laying out a counterattack, as once a person is on record making specific statements, it is a lot easier to counter their position with factual research and descriptions of real events. I don’t see it as supporting the idea of “mental illness” just because MIA interviews someone who believes in it. But maybe that’s just me.

  • I read the quotes from the pamphlet in the article. It seems to be pretty straightforward, and the criticisms forwarded are generalizations and don’t appear to address any of the specific claims in the pamphlet at all. Saying something is “misleading and inaccurate” without saying what is inaccurate or misleading about it is a pretty lame criticism!

  • I’m not entirely certain that people are looking for relief from suffering, at least not all or most. I think a lot are looking for UNDERSTANDING and CONNECTION, but they are offered “escape from suffering” as a weak alternative by the psychiatric industry, and told that’s all they can hope for. Understanding is more nebulous, requires more work, and can be scarier, but those who have genuinely experienced understanding from another person after working through some pain know it is far superior to merely escaping. Because the escape offered by the psychiatric industry is not very different than getting drunk to forget one’s pain – once one “sobers up,” the pain remains in place and needs to be avoided yet again. To reconsider that pain from a new perspective can not only ease the pain, it can provide meaning for one’s suffering and pathways to create a better life going forward, something no drug can ever begin to deliver.

  • I don’t disagree with you on that point. There are certainly diseases and medical situations that cause what has come to be known as “mental illness.” My objection is only the idea that they are “mimicking a mental illness,” because there is no such thing as a “mental illness” to mimic, at least not as defined in the DSM. It is an absolute certainty that anything which is called a “mental illness” COULD be caused by real physiological problems (there are literally hundreds of examples), and one of the greatest harms done by psychiatry is to stop doctors and patients looking for actual causes and allowing the “mental illness diagnosis” stand in place of actual research into causes.

    SO in essence, it seems we agree with each other, terminology notwithstanding. I appreciate the feedback.

  • I agree they have no idea of the cause, but I highly doubt further study of the brain per se is going to yield any more information. It is their primary error to believe that the brain is the causal factor in these “disorders,” in the same sense that solving a software bug or issue can not be resolved by studying the hardware. The mind runs the brain, not the other way around.

  • Lawrence, can you please address the issue of long-term neurological damage that extends beyond the technical withdrawal period from the drug itself? This is not really a controversial issue, at least in the world of substance abuse – it can take a long time for the brain to recover from years of drug-induced altered functioning, and in some cases, there is evidence of permanent damage. Why would this not apply to psychiatric drugs?

  • I would add that “withdrawal” may not be the proper term for this experience. It is more like “recovery from brain damage.” Most people know that the specific withdrawal period for cocaine, for instance, is pretty short – a matter of hours. But for someone taking cocaine long-term, the recovery period can literally take years. I find it pretty easy to believe that the exact same kind of mechanism would be at play for any psychoactive drug, in fact, I’d be stunned if it were not at play. There is plenty of research regarding neurological up- or down-regulation in the brain when the brain is flooded with/deprived of normal brain chemicals. Recovery from this kind of damage is going to take a hell of a lot longer than it takes the drug to exit the body, and I think it is pretty disingenuous to suggest that people suffering months or a year later are automatically suffering from some psychological problem when it is very possible they are continuing to suffer from brain damage induced by neurochemicals provided by their friendly “medical professionals.”

  • Speaking Chinese also runs in families. Do you think there may be genetic roots?

    They can’t even find genetic vulnerabilities for heart disease or most cancers. There are a few clearly genetic diseases, but even physiological diseases are influenced heavily by environmental impacts. To suggest that “mental health” is analogous is pretty ridiculous.

  • This is the fourth loss of a significant MIA contributor and antipsychiatry activist in the last month or so, and it is hitting me and others very hard. Bonnie in particular always seemed so immutable, so inexorable and so powerfully present, it is hard to imagine her succumbing even to death. Her spirit will continue to be with us as we fight on, but this is a huge loss to us and to the world. RIP, Bonnie, and keep fighting on, wherever you are!

  • Maybe you can select options: “If you’d just like a prescription, press 1. If you’d like a spurious but scientific-sounding ‘diagnosis,’ press 2. If you’d like to have the context of your ‘symptoms’ specifically invalidated, press 3. If you’d like a psychobabble explanation of why you need to keep taking your drugs forever, press 4. If you’d like someone to actually listen and understand your struggles, hang up and call somewhere else!”

  • Well said! It is the responsibility of those claiming to “treat the mind” to come up with a coherent definition of the “mind” they are supposedly treating. Those criticizing the approach don’t need to define “mind,” they just need to point out that those claiming to be “treating” it can’t define their terms.

    You can’t treat a metaphor!

  • I don’t disagree with anything you said. I was making the point that I do support individual people in making their own decisions and try not to make generalizations about “psychiatrists” as individual practitioners. There are many subtle points on “effectiveness” of drugs – as I’ve often pointed out, alcohol is a great “antianxiety” agent, but no one would prescribe it as a MEDICAL TREATMENT. It’s just something that makes you feel better temporarily. There are always dangers of ANY psychoactive drug, and I would certainly not recommend Ritalin as a way to make oneself fit into the capitalist mold. My point is only that individual decision making is one issue, but group-wide intentional corruption is something completely different. The first is complex, the second is not really all that complex at all. People do things that bring them money, unless they are motivated by caring first. It’s clear that psychiatry as a profession is motivated by greed and power over individual results.

  • I would suggest that there are, in fact, many caring individual psychiatrists out there, and I have certainly met some of them. I think there is a distinction to be made between psychiatrists (who vary widely as individuals) and “psychiatry,” which is an institution that has its own objectives and strategies and fears and blind spots. It is the institution that I am criticizing, the APA and its group objectives to promote a biologically-centered viewpoint and a drug-centered approach and the DSM strategy of de-contextualizing people’s suffering and blaming them for their “wrong” reactions to trauma and stress in their lives, and the constant hostility and dismissiveness toward even their own research when it conflicts with their agenda. I also feel it is very appropriate to criticize the corruption coming from the pharmaceutical industry that has informed the above goals and strategies.

    I also would never criticize an individual for doing whatever works for them or their families. I have stood by and watched while a friend’s husband got ECT (which didn’t work) and eventually came up with moving to another part of the country as a solution. I’ve known domestic abuse victims who used antidepressants as a means of becoming less worried about their abusers’ feelings and it helped them get away. I know people who feel that they can’t live without Prozac or who feel they’ve benefited from stimulants helping them concentrate better. I have no problem with people doing what works for them. And I have no problem with individuals, professional or not, helping other people. But I do have a big, big problem with an entire profession intentionally lying and manipulating data so that they and their drug company counterparts can increase their income and power, and I make no apologies for doing so.

    I hope that makes things more clear.

  • I like this post. The distinction between trying to “make the bad behaviors go away” and understanding their origins so that a person’s needs can be met in another way is huge! Once we understand the emotions driving behavior, CBT can be a useful technique to practice doing something different. But CBT alone often comes across as minimizing or invalidating the emotional components of behavior. People choose a particular action for a REASON, and without understanding the motivation, changing the behavior in isolation doesn’t work very well, in my experience.

  • I don’t know, maybe it would be fun to interrupt someone’s tirade and say, “You know I was considered one of ‘those people’ once. Do I seem crazy, dangerous or hopeless to you?” Might toss a monkey wrench in their works.

    BUt I also get why you wouldn’t want to go there. People who are on that kind of trip really NEED to believe what they are saying, and even a big dose of “cognitive dissonance” rarely has any effect.

  • Having spent half my career advocating for foster youth, this article resonates with me. Foster youth are the most disempowered group of citizens in the country, and they need all of our help. The rates of drugging tend to be around 20%, but increase by adolescence to over 50% in most states. Claims of “genetic inheritance” and “chemical imbalance” are particularly offensive and egregious in these cases, as we KNOW the main reason why these youth are suffering, yet somehow they continue to be blamed and “treated” for not being happy with their second- or third-class citizen status in life. Many are groomed for the adult “mental health” system and are told they have no chance of surviving without public assistance/disability payments for life. Yet many also rebel when they are able to escape the system and ditch their “mental patient” identities, acting on impulses and beliefs that have been subdued since they were very young in many cases.

    These youth need and deserve all the support we can give them. They are the ultimate “market” for the psych industry and are almost helpless to resist.

    Consider supporting your local CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program, or volunteer to become a CASA in your jurisdiction, and you’ll have some direct and substantial influence upon this most undesirable course of events!

  • Most of them don’t even know the adverse effects of the drugs they personally prescribed. I’d bet that 90% don’t even know there ARE withdrawal effects from Cymbalta. I just figure I have to educate them every time, but avoiding MDs whenever possible is much more effective. I only see them when I have no other choice or need something specific that only they can provide, like antibiotics. Don’t trust them as far as I can toss them.

  • I’ll go with Oldhead on this one, and say that a MIND is an idea, or a set of ideas and processes, and ideas can’t be “ill.” There are neurological illnesses, which should all be detectable by some physiological means. But it is a mistake to equate neurology with “mind.” No one really knows what “mind” is, and until we do, it is going to do nothing but add confusion to call a mind “ill.”

  • It is not lack of training, it is the ability to dehumanize the victims that leads to this kind of mass unethical behavior. It works very much similar to a gang rape. What is the likelihood that ALL members of a certain sports team are rapists? Simply not possible. So how does an entire team participate in such an atrocity, as has been documented numerous times? It happens when the victim is sufficiently dehumanized that other group members can treat the victim is a non-human so that normal rules of ethics don’t apply in this situation. Same thing with group torture like Abu Ghraib. And it is psychiatry’s own DSM labeling process that makes this mass dehumanization possible. Those people providing “treatment” have been “trained” to see the “patients” as a subgroup who don’t deserve the same rights as other humans. So, in fact, it is not a lack of training, but a training in the use of dehumanizing terms and beliefs that leads to this result.

  • Right you are, Sam! Genetic diversity is the core of species survival. Even if it’s proven that genetics, for instance, affect activity levels and that some “ADHD” people have a genetic difference means NOTHING about whether or not “ADHD” is a disease state! Men and women have VASTLY different genetics in the X/Y genes, heck, men are MISSING a whole bunch of DNA that women have, and men certainly act differently overall than women. Are we prepared to call having male sex genes a “disease” based on that fact alone? (Testosterone poisoning, anyone?)

  • The large associations with individual violence are drug use/abuse and domestic/family/pet violence. “Mental illness” and especially “Schizophrenia” are tiny blips in comparison. But it’s easier to blame than it is to deal with big societal problems like why so many people are using and abusing drugs and why so many feel it is OK to beat up their wives and children and dogs.

  • I think the larger question, Daniel, is how do you feel about the use of psychedelics IN THE HANDS OF PSYCHIATRISTS as you know they currently practice their brand of “medicine?” Hell, we know that alcohol can be a great antianxiety agent, and has a better “side effect” profile than benzos. But it’s not a MEDICAL INTERVENTION, it’s a way of holding anxiety at bay. That’s the level psychiatry is working at right now: Anxiety BAD. Benzo make anxiety go away. GOOD. Benzo patentable. GOOD. Alcohol not patentable. BAD. WE USE BENZO! There is no sense of mission or analysis deeper than that going on at the practice level, and for those operating on the “theoretical” level, the situation is even worse! “This research disproves our theory. WE MUST BURY IT! This person speaks uncomfortable truths. WE MUST ATTACK THEM! This group opposes us. WE MUST DEMONIZE THEM!” Do you really want people in such positions promoting psychedelic drugs for traumatized people? A profession that systematically denies that traumatic events are even causal factors in their lists of “disorders?” And who can then force psychedelics against their will on anyone they decide is unable to make informed decisions for him/herself?

    It is much more than a question of whether there are positive research results. It’s a question of putting trust into an utterly corrupt system of decision making and control.


  • That’s what I was thinking. What psychiatrist would possibly be remotely qualified to engage in guiding someone through this kind of experience? It seems beyond ludicrous, having known some folks rather intimately who have used this drug. It is shocking that even psychiatry would be so arrogant as to think just giving someone a dose of this and “objectively” watching what happens would be anything but an invitation to disaster.

  • Wow, you are suing? Let us know how this goes. I think the only real success in undermining the psychiatric worldview and control is to hit them in the pockedbooks and in the public realm of discussion. I am sorry all this crap happened to you, but t would truly be awesome to have national news about the psych professions getting their butts sued for hurting people they are claiming to help.

  • Psychiatry and big pharma have ALWAYS claimed miracle cures. Remember when Benzedrine was all the rage, safe, effective and non-habit forming? When that disaster was finally admitted, we had Valium, which was, wait for it, safe, effective and non-habit forming. Except that it’s one of the most addictive drugs known to man. Later on, we have claims that Prozac and the SSRIs are effective and have virtually no side effects. Well, except for increasing the rate of suicide and the occasional outburst of homicidal rage. Oops! So forgive me if I’m a tad skeptical when a party drug/tranquilizer is suddenly claimed as the miracle cure for everything. As for “rewiring the brain,” that’s a pretty tired analogy that doesn’t really correspond to any reality at all. There are no wires in the brain, and nerve channels are not in any way remotely similar to wires other than the ability to conduct and electrical signal.

    It’s important to sift through the rhetoric. EVERY drug is “safe and effective with no side effects” until the patent runs out.

  • I just did a little research on Britney Spears’ life. It sounds like she had a very traumatic upbringing, exposed to domestic abuse by her dad, dad was an alcoholic, and of course, her mom most likely meeting her needs through having Britney perform as a kid. There is evidence she most likely experienced domestic abuse herself. Seems she grew up very insecure, for rather obvious reasons, and was easily taken advantage of by others because she was constantly seeking approval. Of course, NONE of this is discussed in the explanation of her “disorders.” It is all blamed on her “condition,” but it is easy to see that the controlling behavior of her family members continues to the present day. Instead of acknowledging the abusive behavior by her parents, they talk about her being the victim of “very bad genetics.”

    This shows the destructive nature of the DSM labeling process, even for the rich and famous.

  • Waste of time. The only measure of whether or not any “therapy” is effective is whether the person receiving it thinks it’s effective. To think that one “therapeutic school” will magically be proven more effective, regardless of the therapist or the client, is simply a fantasy. Therapy is a HUMAN INTERACTION, not a mechanical undertaking that can be quantified and measured out like some weight of ground meat!

  • Amazing how long they can claim that they “haven’t found the right combination” as if that is an inevitable outcome given enough time, instead of admitting that “our drugs have not been helpful to her, and stopping them makes a whole lot of sense under the circumstances.” How many times can you take your car to the mechanic and hear, “We haven’t found just the right ‘treatment’ yet for your engine…” before you fire them?

  • That’s a great way to put it, Al. We have to be willing to not know and to sit with the person we’re helping and feel their discomfort and pain and despair and not run away from it. Even if we don’t know how to help, knowing that we’re willing to confront the situation with them and NOT try to “make them better” in and of itself is the core of actual helpfulness. And if a possible solution then DOES emerge, both know that it’s a real possibility rather than something you cooked up to make yourself feel better.

  • If you haven’t read about the “Rat Park” experiment, you should. It kind of says all that needs to be said about addiction. Classic experiments have been done where rats in a cage are given a choice between pushing a button for water/food and one for cocaine, and the rats eventually choose the cocaine so often that they die, which is held up as proof that cocaine is “physically addictive” and that the rats have no choice once they’re addicted.

    But the Rat Park people put the rats in a healthy rat environment, with dirt to dig in and tubes and wheels and stuff to play with and other rats for company and so on, everything a rat would need to live a happy rat life. And they were given the same choices, and guess what? These rats picked the food and water and left the cocaine alone.

    To me, it is total proof that the “physically addicting” theory of drugs is hogwash. People, just like rats, take drugs because they’re in pain and they’re trying to alleviate it. Some of these drugs are legal, some are not, but it doesn’t matter, because if they can’t fix up their environment to meet their needs, they will instead continue to use the substance to numb out their feelings of anxiety and depression. The answer is not more drugs, but an approach to modifying the environment so it is easier for folks to meet their basic needs. We need to set up “human parks” and see how many humans choose drugs over life!

  • “Remember, there is no shame in being labeled a worthless, helpless, permanently brain-damaged drain on society of whom other people are taught to be irrationally afraid and who will remain on disability for the rest of his/her medically forshortened life, no matter WHAT those other people say!”

  • Great strategy! This actually comports with my theory on how “ECT” gets people rating it as improving their conditions. After several “treatments”, the patients/victims become more and more likely to say, “Wow, doc, that was GREAT! I feel SO much better, not a HINT of depression any more! What a miracle! Now, can you please unlock that door and get me the hell out of this place?”

  • Unfortunately, recreational drugs and psychiatric drugs are very similar in action, and attempts to convert street drugs into psych drugs are a natural progression from the “bad brain” viewpoint. After all, taking cocaine makes you feel better, doesn’t it? So it’s an antidepressant! Maybe a tad addictive, but hey, you have to deal with the side effect, right? They’ve already converted amphetamine sulfate into a “medical drug,” and tried to do so with meth, with a lot less success, luckily. Why not esketamine, or heroin? The difference between taking Xanax and drinking a prescribed amount of alcohol three times a day is essentially zero. The line between drug dealers and the average psychiatrist is a thin one, indeed.

  • “If you were Jello,” seriously??? That is majorly warped.

    I’m glad you brought this up, especially regarding the obvious financial advantages the “mental health professionals” display. It seems like quite the slap in the face. I mean, I get someone wanting to have a nice office that doesn’t have paint peeling or sticky spills on the floor or broken blinds, but these opulent offices just scream “I’m making a boatload of money off people like you, and when push comes to shove, that’s what really matters to me.” I think it’s inherently offensive. But I guess if the “professional” really believes their clients deserve less because they are that much less important or valuable, maybe they don’t notice how insensitive and greedy they’re being.

  • Of course, they don’t really even do laboratory science, either. They do experiments on heterogeneous groups, don’t identify proper outcomes half the time, if they do identify outcomes and they come out negative, they shop around for positive outcomes instead of reporting, and when their own research condemns their process, they ignore it or “explain” it away and keep on doing whatever they already decided they wanted to do. Not very scientific.

  • It really shows the intense differentiation made by many or perhaps even most “professionals” between themselves (sane people) and their clients (insane people). It is this differentiation that makes it next to impossible for such professionals to be genuinely helpful to their own clients.

  • What I find fascinating is that in the entire article, getting feedback or information from the actual clients is never mentioned once. Perhaps that’s the real reason clinicians can’t get together – they’re aiming as usual at the wrong target.

    Maybe we start with asking clients what or whom they find helpful, then find out what those people do that the clients find of value. Nah, too simple and effective…

  • That is a beautiful post! I can absolutely relate to having to learn that my rage is essential to my survival! And you truly show how destructive idea that you are “disordered” for having your feelings can be. It destroys people’s idea of themselves and keeps them from learning how to direct their righteous indignation for the purpose it is intended.

  • I apologize if I seemed to minimize the incredible damage these drugs can do. I find them abominable and the lies about them and the pretense that they are so wonderful and that the “side effects” are someone’s “disorder” reasserting itself incredibly offensive. The point I am making is that the presence or absence of the drugs doesn’t address the bigger issue. I totally agree the drugs are bad news, and it’s my belief that anyone who gets TRUE informed consent about them would be VERY reluctant to use them at all. It is the framing of the problem as “biological” and the promise of FIXING the “imbalance of brain chemicals,” as well as the societal propaganda pushing all the blame for any behavioral or emotional issues that make the ‘status quo’ uncomfortable on the person with the emotions, or worse yet, on their brains, that allows these drugs to be marketed and sold. If that structure is removed, psychiatry is left with, “This might make you feel better temporarily or it might not. It has a bunch of risks and no long-term positive effects. It won’t solve any problem you have, the only thing it might do is temporarily make you feel better, and even that is not a guarantee.” If that is the marketing pitch, they’ll be right down there with the corner drug pusher, which frankly is where the bulk of psychiatrists belong.

  • The question I ask is this: is psychiatry really a “school of thought?” It purports to be a MEDICAL SCIENCE, with no actual support for that claim. It ignores its own research when it conflicts with the basic dogma of the belief system. People who don’t support those dogma are attacked and/or purged from the group. It seems a lot more like a RELIGION than a school of thought. A school of thought implies a philosophical viewpoint that is open to argumentation and new data. Psychiatry is unwilling to admit that it is promoting a philosophical viewpoint with which others may honestly disagree, and relies instead on having social power to enforce its dogma regardless of the truth. Which really prevents any kind of civil discourse with those who are unwilling to recognize the speculative and frankly dishonest nature of psychiatry as a “medical” field. For that reason, having a discussion about it feels like a big waste of time.

  • I think perhaps you are confusing these drugs, which people may find useful on occasion, and psychiatry, which comes up with socially-biased “labels” in committees of entitled old (mostly) men and lies consistently to people about the “biological origins” of their “disorders,” despite masses of evidence showing that 1) there are no identifiable physical indications of ANY of their so-called “disorders,” and 2) the “treatments” for these “disorders” are essentially an uncontrolled “experiment” where the experimenters declare success whenever anything good happens and blame any unexpected or undesired result on the client or the “disorder,” and 3) any and all evidence invalidating their “theories” is dismissed with unfounded “explanations” or ad hominem attacks on anyone who dares to challenge their dogmatic “reality.” I’d be happy to make drugs available (with GENUINE informed consent) to those who want them once the lies and excuses and pressures and marketing bullcrap area taken out of the equation.

    The problem isn’t the drugs – it’s the lies and the abuse of power that are the real core of psychiatry. And that core is, in fact, totally rotten.

  • “Therapists should have innate understandings of themselves, life, and the possibility of themselves being completely wrong.”

    You said a mouthful there! Success of “therapy” of any type has a lot more to do with the qualities and attitudes of the therapist than what “school” they subscribe to. In my experience, the very best counselors have no commitment to any particular approach, and do instead whatever works for their client. But such therapists are rarer than hen’s teeth!

  • I suppose if we define a “real leftist” as someone committed to actual empowerment of the masses, then I would agree with you. But there might not be a lot of “real leftists” around. There could certainly be people who are sincere but confused, or who have difficulty overcoming their authoritarian programming. The folks at the school I refer to for the most part really did believe in the model, at least to start with. They just got nervous and started panicking. It takes a lot of courage to really stick to one’s mission in the face of the training and pressure to the contrary. And there are a few people around pretty much any group who are mainly interested in gaining control of the group, and are only faking commitment. One school I helped create was destroyed by such a person.

    As to legitimate authority, of course, I’d agree with you 100%. When I talk about authoritarianism, I’m talking about the acceptance of certain people as authorities regardless of legitimacy, and authorities expecting compliance with their demands without question, as well as both authorities and members attacking on those who are willing to question the dogma of the authoritarian group.

    Again, I’m not trying to say this is hopeless or that we should give up. I am merely saying that one needs to be constantly vigilant about authoritarian types making their way into such an organization, as well as being vigilant that one’s own subconscious needs for control and safety don’t overshadow the goal of empowerment of the populace.

  • By all means, we should never stop working toward that goal. We simply need to do it in awareness that AUTHORITARIANISM is a deadly foe that is larger than capitalism itself. Freedom and mutual respect and support are the goals we need to pursue, not a different system with different bosses and different people in powerful and oppressed roles. But I think you agree with me on that point.

  • And just for the record, I don’t equate efforts to maintain the status quo at all costs, which tends to be the ‘right’ leaning form of authoritarianism, with efforts to force one person or group’s vision of change on society by force, which tends to be the ‘left’ leaning form, in my view. Fascism is fascism, it’s authoritarian for sure, but not all authoritarians lean toward fascism. As you well know, there have been plenty of ‘socialist’ dictatorships and lots of human rights abuses done in the name of “socialism.” My only real point is that ONLY looking to the “right” for authoritarianism fails to take into account the internalized oppression we’ve all experienced which leaves every one of us vulnerable to either kowtow to or engage in authoritarian tactics in the service of what seems to us to be a worthy goal. It is something that must be consciously identified and resisted if we’re going to create a different kind of society.

  • I think I understand you better at this point. I was simply stating that SOME authoritarianism can be found everywhere, because it is endemic to our society. By no means do I mean to suggest (or did I suggest) that it simply “human nature” – I believe, as I stated, that it is TRAINED into us from birth onwards, both explicitly by parents and churches and educational institutions and so forth, and implicitly by being the only game clearly on display, and by the hostility expressed toward those who refuse to go along with the status quo. It is a challenge to overcome that kind of training for anyone. For instance, in the “dictatorship of the proletariat” concept, the idea is that there is a temporary period during which the new ideas will become held by a majority of the people in the society, allowing this dictatorship to melt away. But during that period, there is an authority in charge of what should be taught and how it should be taught, and those doing the “teaching” ALL grew up with these authoritarian models of education. So it requires real care and attention not to replicate the same forms that we’re comfortable with, as my example of the “democratic school” shows so clearly. It is not enough to just believe in a revolution, we have to pay attention to how it will happen and what will happen afterwards. I don’t think it’s doomed to failure, but I do think these challenges are great, because a lot of the ideas and models we carry are not conscious (kind of like implicit racism or other unconscious biases). I have always found it of the greatest importance to address the dilemma of being a person of privilege and authority trying to help others to find their own freedom. How easy it is to fall into saying, “Do it my way, it works for me.” It is a challenge we must all keep at the top of our awareness any time we’re working for real empowerment of ourselves and others. That’s my experience anyway.

  • I didn’t say a lot of what you think I said, Richard. I think it’s important to be careful not to read into posts things that are your assumptions. I’d prefer if you’d simply ask for clarification if what I said is confusing.

    I believe that a lot of the current population is authoritarian, at both ends of the political spectrum, based solely on my own observation of people’s behavior. I believe this is mostly because of our authoritarian means of educating people and our ubiquitous authoritarian structures which seem to be “the only way” because people don’t SEE another way ever demonstrated to work. I certainly know people who are not authoritarian and believe that non-authoritarian structures can be found and/or created, and have spent a good proportion of my time on Earth working to create that possibility. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds, because we have all had this stuff hammered into us from birth, and people who are NOT authoritarian are punished for following their path. Naturally, authoritarianism occurs on a spectrum, and people are pushed back and forth based on how their efforts are perceived and reacted to by those around them. So encouraging anti-authoritarian thinking is possible and will push people in the direction of seeing things that way. But just as obviously, those who are running the current society are very invested in maintaining the current power dynamics and use authoritarian tactics to maintain them and push people to a more authoritarian view of the world. Revolutions have historically not always led to real change, because the internalized authoritarian underpinnings of the social system were not addressed, and the new rulers step into the authoritarian roles that they and the society they are part of feel comfortable with. This is a big part of why the current “liberals” in the USA have such a hard time supporting antipsychiatry as a movement – they are unable or unwilling to challenge the idea that doctors generally have their best interests at heart and should be trusted to make up rules that the rest of us should follow. That’s authoritarianism, and you see how strong it is when you try to talk to some (not all) “liberals” about the human rights concerns of those labeled “mentally ill,” with whom their stated philosophies should have great solidarity. But they don’t, because it’s not in their own structure of what is “right” and “good” and “wrong” and “bad.” They accept the authority of the doctor without questioning it. I saw a lot of this when working on creating democratic schools, where kids are mainly responsible for making up their own school rules and enforcing them. Parents and teachers SAID they believed in these principles, but when the kids’ standardized test scores started to come into play, or the District started complaining about the vagueness of the curriculum, they started getting unconsciously very nervous and bit by bit re-instituted authoritarian structures that were opposed to the mission, because they really weren’t quite comfortable themselves trusting kids to wield all that power themselves, much as they wanted to believe that they backed the mission 100%.

    The world is not a black and white place. I can certainly go into examples from our current world where people on the “left” engage in authoritarian behavior and don’t recognize it as such. Examples on the “right” are perhaps more obvious and easy to identify, but the idea that all authoritarians are right-leaning politically is just plain not borne out by the facts. There are also people who identify as “conservative” who are actually quite anti-authoritarian. We need to become more aware of this if we really want to change the way we’re doing business. Because in the end, “society” exists within the people who create and participate in it, and if we want to create a new society, we have to understand our internalized oppression and deal with it, or else we will perpetrate it in our new society as well. As the Who sagely suggested, we want to avoid a “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation. It is not enough to change the external structures of society. We have to change our own internalized structures, too. And that’s a lot of hard work that few are ready to take on, in my experience. That may seem jaded, and maybe it is, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think it can be done. I am saying that, as discouraging as it sounds, this reality MUST be dealt with, and pretending that it doesn’t exist will doom further revolutionary efforts to failure or limited success. We do ourselves no favors by ignoring this particular set of facts about human behavior.

    I hope that clarifies things.

  • The trick is, they portray anyone who actually gets caught as a “bad apple” and an outlier and assure everyone that they are HORRIFIED that any doctor would act this way, and THEY certainly don’t ever do anything like that! It is a great way to distract attention from any deeper investigation or analysis.

  • NA might not be a bad idea, I don’t know. It seems that familiarity with dealing with withdrawal might be valuable. I knew a former heroin addict who took SSRIs for a time, and she had bad withdrawals. She said she felt lucky she’d had to withdraw from heroin, because otherwise, she would not have understood what was happening or how to deal with it. Of course, the doctors never bothered to tell her that she might experience withdrawal.

  • A message from Sharon Crestinger, who has been an MIA poster in the past:

    I am thinking of Julie Greene today and am very sad for her transition from this dimension. I have many comrades and friends, but few contemporaries in the world of survivor and abolitionist essayists. Julie was usually the first one I could name. This was the context of our relationship.

    Writing was never a problem for Julie. She wrote and wrote, every day. It’s beyond an outrage that she was murdered by psychiatry at 62 with so much left to say. And, I am glad she said so much while she was here. Julie got discouraged and frustrated sometimes that her work didn’t find a wider audience, but she never gave up. I greatly admired how she kept going through the discrimination, marginalization, health problems, and everything else she faced as a survivor. She believed her writing and her activism made a difference and that if she and others just kept going, abolition would be a real possibility one day. Julie believed the work of abolition would eventually succeed in a very real and material way I greatly wish I could share.

    Julie was my best editor. The way she lived her life inspired me.

    I see a lot a grief for the end of Julie’s life. I’m trying hard to be outraged, but I am so sad and tired.

    I wish more people were outraged. I wish more people used the words murder and genocide to mark our passings.

    Safe travels, comrade. I’m so sorry you won’t see your writings elevated to the place of importance they will eventually occupy in our history.

    Sharon Jean Cretsinger
    Tijuana, December 7 2019

  • Your point about the “hostile takeover” is very well taken. There appeared to be little in the way of hostility – it was more of a merger made in the interests of monopolizing the market. Both sides agreed from the start, and both sides benefited massively from the collaboration. The only hostility was toward any whistle-blower who tried to point out what was really going on.

  • You seem to be coming from the assumption that all people with the “ADHD” label have the same problem or need the same kind of help. “ADHD” is just a name for a certain set of behaviors that have been identified as problematic. There are all kinds of reasons why people act that way, and hence all kinds of different things that might help different people. It makes total sense that some “ADHD” labeled people would do better with meditation and some would not, because they’re all different. Acting in a certain way doesn’t make people actually similar – it’s just a surface manifestation. Unless you know why it’s happening, you can’t say they are similar at all.

    Besides which, some people who act in ways that are called “ADHD” don’t believe they have any problem, just because other people have a problem with their behavior. And I tend to agree with them.

  • I’m so glad you said that! Science is MUCH better at disproving things than proving them. Scientific proof really consists of vigorous attempts at DISPROVING a hypothesis failing over an extended period of time. A scientific finding that can’t be replicated isn’t scientifically true any longer, but of course, psychiatry does not hold itself to such standards.

  • Ditching the DSM should be on the list. The DSM a highly trauma-misinformed or trauma-denying or trauma-delegitimizing document, and to attempt to provide “trauma-informed care” while working in a DSM framework is utterly impossible to accomplish. Those who really do effective trauma work either ignore the DSM entirely or use it for insurance billing. It has no place in actual therapeutic intervention for trauma survivors.

  • I think what bugs me about this is that it begs the very important question of why there would be debate in the first place. I bet you can’t find 8 or even 4 different audience critiques over clinical practice guidelines for heart attacks or broken limbs. Sure, there will be different opinions on particular approaches taken, and on the possible conflicts of interest with drug companies and others which plague the entire medical profession, but no one will be arguing that heart attacks don’t really happen or that it is a medicalization of a normal human variation. The main reason there are debates of this nature is specifically BECAUSE there is no scientific basis on which these “diagnoses” are formed. So yes, it is a social document, for sure, but one that has little to nothing to do with science and a lot to do with economics and sociology.

  • The problem with the label “PPD” is that it implies something you HAVE rather than something that is happening to you as the result of complex circumstances. Anyone who has had a child knows there are 50 reasons why you might be feeling depressed after the birth of a child. To mention one that never gets mentioned, domestic abuse often starts or escalates immediately after childbirth, and DV is hardly a rare occurrence. How many cases of emerging domestic abuse are papered over by the term “PPD?”

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, and we are not in disagreement, but I wanted to make it clear from my viewpoint why the term PPD is particularly offensive to me.

  • Anecdotal evidence can be useful, but these studies are controlled and more intentionally screen out “false positives” and “false negatives.” The placebo effect is a HUGE part of why some people find their antidepressants effective. There are also many who find them effective to start with and then the effectiveness fades over time. There are also many who start on ADs and then have trouble coming off due to withdrawal effects, and many of these are told that this is their “depression coming back” and proof that the ADs are “working.” And of course, there are some who derive actual benefit from them in terms of feeling better, however that may be defined.

    Talking about understanding the “nuances of psychiatric care” is likely to be considered pretty insulting in this particular community, as most of the posters have been exposed to those “nuances” personally and can tell you a thing or two about just how “nuanced” the approach was in their particular case. I get that you have found ADs helpful for you or your clients, but it should be clear very quickly from reading these posts that this is NOT the case for everyone, and I think it would be wise to listen a little more to what people have to say about their own experiences before leaping to the conclusions that they “don’t understand” what psychiatric care is all about.

    BTW, have you read Anatomy of an Epidemic yet? You really should read it. It is the basis for this entire site and community, and might open your eyes a bit to what people here are protesting. Hint: the use of medication is not the main issue.

  • I guess some kids must not be “tough enough” to deal with the abuse and need to be diagnosed because their brains just aren’t up to the task of being forcibly separated from their families and kept in overcrowded little rooms or cages without knowing if or when they’ll ever be released. I guess the “mentally healthy” ones either lapse into total apathy or “look on the bright side” because “they control their own narrative.”

  • The idea of common sense suggests that a person with little to no education should be able to see the truth in it intuitively. I truly believe this is the case when it comes to understanding human beings and what we need from each other. Too much training, as you say, creates more and more confusion, because they’re making things more complicated than they really are. And then we get weird studies showing that “racism and oppression increase mental illness symptoms.” Gosh, who knew? It really isn’t that complicated, though it requires courage and willingness to experience intense feelings to fully understand, and that’s where a lot of “professionals” fail.

  • Though Oldhead may disagree with you, I do not. While psychiatry as a “profession” may not be a legitimate “service” that actually intends to meet anyone’s needs but their own need for money and power, most people who seek out psychiatry DO have a need of some sort that our society is not meeting. While there is no real hope for reforming psychiatry, as its intentions are not actually to help (though individuals within the system may have that intention), there are people who need real support and caring which our society fails to provide (or at times actively opposes). We need a plan to help such folks (which let’s be honest has included most of us at one time or another), and I do think that having such a plan will make it easier to get rid of psychiatry, as it will remove one excuse/justification for psychiatry’s existence. Naturally, the psychiatric hierarchy will attack any such attempt with vigor, but that is to be expected, as they will see their gravy train being derailed. So we’re not talking of an “alternative to psychiatry,” but a viable way to help folks who are suffering from the oppression of our patriarchal, authoritarian and capitalistic greed-and-power based system of social control.

  • Do you know of any evidence that any of these “disorders” are physical problems? I don’t. For sure, physiology can be involved, including things like sleep, diet, exercise, drug intake, physical pain, etc. And there ARE physiological conditions that can cause mental/emotional effects (like Lyme Disease). But so far as I know, there is no proof that any “mental illness” is consistently CAUSED by a physiological problem. Remember that these entities are defined by committees voting, not by any kind of scientific process. How would they even know the cause if they are defined by a list of behaviors and feelings?

  • I have found the same. You can’t fully trust someone until they’ve seen you let loose with your most difficult feelings and behavior and find they still want to be around you. There is no intimacy without vulnerability, but we’re taught all the time (which actually starts making it true) that sharing our true selves is foolish and dangerous and we’d better keep those masks on, or else!

    I personally found school particularly awful in this way. Keeping one’s own integrity in place in a standard school environment is next to impossible for most kids.

  • And our society as a whole makes it even harder, as even those women with no trauma history are taught that their value lies in sexual attractiveness and acceptability of appearance to others. But naturally, this kind of issue does not appear to carry any weight with the paternalistic psychiatric profession, which seems myopically committed to blaming the victim and letting social institutions off the hook.

  • I heard an almost exact replica of your description from a coworker who was taking Zoloft for migraine headaches, not “depression.” She was shocked with how “reasonable” the idea of suicide seemed to her, just a casual thought, like, “I could go to the store. I could kill myself.” I do think the “positive effect” of SSRIs is a lessening of empathic connection to others. For some people, this will feel like a relief. For others, it will make things seem reasonable that would have seemed outrageous before. Including suicide or murder in some cases.

  • Commenting as moderator: Just so you know, I will never moderate you for including accurate descriptions of your experience, no matter how ugly it was. Moderation is only for things that attack or distract, not for things that are true but uncomfortable. Sharing the true but uncomfortable is a lot of what this site is all about!

  • I think you hit it on the head. “Mentally healthy” in these circles seems to mean not experiencing any strong emotion of any type. Like Stepford Wives or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. “Once you do the transformation, you’ll understand.” If those pea pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers really existed, the psychiatric profession would be very excited about them.

  • Wish they’d be a little more definitive in their conclusions: “The use of ADM for adolescent depressive symptoms is not supported, as the risks far outweigh the ostensible benefits.” Or “Doctors should not use ADM as a treatment modality for children or adolescents having depressive symptoms.”

    Of course, the idea of “treating” depression is problematic in itself.

  • ““Partnership-based relationships seem to promote personal recovery more than traditional expert–patient relationships. Our findings also indicate that mental health services need to be organized, more individually tailored, and “bottom-up,” starting with the needs, preferences, and goals of service users.”

    This is a very euphemistic way of saying that seeing a doctor is not likely to be helpful, and that services that ARE actually helpful are ones that start from the client’s needs and preferences. Is this news to anyone? But good for them for making it explicit.

  • That was my experience as well. I remember being a safety patrol and having to keep the kids outside the building when it was 20 degrees out while the teachers walked around inside drinking coffee in their comfy sweaters. I think that was the first time it really struck me clearly just how systematically abusive the system was.

  • Well, ugh! But in addition, what does he think the chemicals in the brain are made from? Food, obviously. Even if one fully embraces the “chemical imbalance” myth (which even psychiatrists are now finally backing away from), it would still make sense that nutrition would be a viable intervention.

    I wonder how much money he gets from Big Pharma every year? Sounds more like a drug salesman than a doctor.

  • And I’d probably be much more interested in talking to one who did than one who simply believed in the “status quo” mythology.

    It is my understanding that traditional healers are part and parcel of psychiatric care in Brazil, and they do, in fact, come in and deal with spirits. I also know of a case in Texas, I believe, where a spiritual healer came over from Mexico and cured a person deemed “severely treatment resistant” by the doctors.

    Compared to “standard treatment,” I’d take spirit dispossession any day of the week.

  • The authors’ experience is not in the least bit surprising, and they properly identify the privilege and power of the academic elite who don’t want their authority challenged. I would have liked to hear more of a connection made between that power and the money flowing to institutions from psychiatry, from equipment makers, and from the pharmaceutical industry. Academia has been largely corrupted when the door was opened to big corporations essentially buying research that promotes their product, including the right to not publish research which is critical. This ethos permeates the entire academic world (not just in psychiatry) to the extent that it is almost invisible to those who swim in that particular water. We don’t bite the hand that feeds us, especially when the owner of the hand can now bite back so painfully. We have to get big corporations disconnected from academic research!

  • The term “social psychiatry” appears to me to be an oxymoron. It fails to recognize the corrupt nature of the current biomedical model and suggests that it is feasible to “integrate” this model with more social/psychological views of emotional distress. This is in my view impossible, because the biomedical model is driven by profits and the interests of the APA to control the narrative, and is not in any way directed toward “health,” even in the metaphorical sense. It is directed toward profit and control, and as such, can’t be integrated into anything rationally focused on improving people’s lives. If you want a socially responsible and flexible approach to people’s emotional well being, don’t bother with the current model. You’d need to start over from scratch.

  • If someone were NOT a therapist, just a friend or colleague, do you believe that that person might listen to someone else’s experience in a non-exploitative way? And that such listening could be helpful to the person telling their story? Is it possible that those “on the barricades” might tell each other stories during lulls in the fighting, and that they might benefit from sharing their stories with each other?

  • If I really wanted to reform schools to improve what they metaphorically and euphemistically refer to as the children’s “mental health,” they could start by reforming the authoritarian nature of the student-teacher relationship and give the students more control and some genuine recourse when they have been wronged by the staff or other students. There are any number of “democratic schools” around the country and the world, starting with Summerhill way back in the early 1900s. At Summerhill, students got to choose what classes they attended, including not attending any class at all. And yet the students chose to attend classes most of the time and would ask kids who were not serious about studying to leave. They made their own rules and had their own justice system for kids AND adults who might have transgressed the school’s agreed laws. The students and staff all got one vote at the meetings, and staff were frequently overruled in their suggestions. This is the kind of approach that is needed if we want our students to be “mentally healthy” – an environment where they are trusted, where they have responsibility and control, where they are able to protect themselves from abusive or coercive behavior of others, where adults are there to help the students pursue their own goals instead of forcing the students to pursue the adults’ goals. Most adults are horrified by such an arrangement and believe that students will never learn anything unless they are forced and coerced and punished into compliance. This is because our culture hates and disrespects children, and most of adult “mental illness” starts from the disrespect and mistreatment of children as they grow up.

    It is laughable in my view for schools to talk about improving students’ “mental health” when the reality is that schools do a huge amount of mental/emotional damage to our kids that many never recover from.

  • I agree with you. The idea that any one intervention will help in ALL cases of “depression” or “ADHD” or whatever label psychiatry wants to toss out is the central problem. There are real, physiological problems that can affect mood and behavior, and they ought to be identified and dealt with through testing and smart interventions. I only protest when someone suggests that ALL such issues can be handled by nutrition or any other specific intervention. Everyone is different, and how they feel is a very sketchy guide for intervention. Good research and exploration is the key to finding out what is actually needed, instead of assuming that someone feeling depressed or anxious is enough information to know what to do.

  • I can’t say that, and I didn’t say that. I’m saying that no doctor can tell you that your depressed moods and experiences are due to genetics, nor can they say in general (and this is more important) that depression is always or usually due to such genetics, because they don’t know that. They’d be lying to you if they claimed that they did. YOU can make your own observations and believe as you see fit, and I totally support your right to do that for your own situation. It’s when one person starts telling another what THEY should believe that things become dangerous, especially when the person (like a doctor) has a special societal role of translating what is known scientifically for lay people. For a doctor to claim that you or anyone else is suffering from a “genetic predisposition” to depression when they have no way to know if this is true or not is not only dishonest, it should be considered malpractice. Whereas your own assessment of your own situation harms no one and hopefully helps you get a better grasp on how to help yourself to move to a better place. That’s the big difference.

  • Hey, I have never said that I “rule out” biology! I’ve always agreed that there are real biological problems that cause problems with moods and behavior. (One such problem is the adverse effects of drugs one is taking, for instance). What I have said and continue to say is that the fact that one FEELS a certain way or ACTS a certain way does not say ANYTHING about why they feel or act that way, and to suggest that simply because someone feels depressed it means they have a problem with their brains is absolutely ridiculous. It’s very much like a person having a pain in their leg and being diagnosed with “leg pain disorder” and to “treat” it by giving drugs to dull the sensation of pain. There could be 50 reasons why a person’s leg is hurting. Let’s suppose they were hit by a car, or stung by a bee, or have a piece of shrapnel in their leg. Is the pain in the leg the problem? Or is it information that leads us to investigate what is going on?

    I don’t know why it seems to be so hard for you to see this distinction. No one is denying that physical conditions can cause changes in mood or behavior. What we’re objecting to is the idea that ALL changes in mood are behavior are ALL caused by physical conditions, especially when there is absolutely NO physiological finding to support such a ridiculous assertion.

    If you want to believe that you have a genetic condition, you’re welcome to believe that. But there is no scientific evidence showing that there is any genetic basis for depression, and assuming or implying that everyone else who is depressed has a genetic or biological problem is going to be viewed as a problem by most of the people who post here.

  • I actually do think that words define our reality. For instance, if a person is kidnapped and threatened with death, and as a result has moments of intense anxiety that this might happen again, do they have an “anxiety disorder?” Or are they responding pretty normally to a violent and terrifying experience?

    I’d say it matters a lot to the victim whether you tell them that their response is a normal reaction or a “disorder” that needs to be “treated.” Having worked with a lot of traumatized people in my career, I’d say that it makes a HUGE difference to have a person think of their reaction as an understandable response to a difficult or impossible situation. The more I was able to have the person understand why they reacted the way they did, the easier it was for them to recognize that the present moment was different and that perhaps a different response in the present is a possible option. Whereas telling someone that they “have a disorder” tells them they SHOULD have reacted differently to the situation and that the fact they are upset about it is a personal failing that needs to be fixed.

    Words do matter. A lot. Especially words about who you are and what your behavior and feelings mean.

  • Dang, these guys are really making things complex!

    What’s wrong with mind-body dualism, anyway? Why would that philosophical position be outdated? I’d say the majority of the world’s cultures see the spirit and the body as being separate entities that interact with each other. This viewpoint could also have explanatory value if it is not dismissed out of hand. Without knowing what “the mind” really is, how can it be considered “disproven”?

    What needs to change is demonstrated in the article – the masquerading of philosophy (such as ethics, epistemology, etc.) as scientific inquiry. Asserting materialistic philosophy as established “truth” does not do science any favors. It’s best to acknowledge when the unknown is unknown, instead of calling a viewpoint “outdated” because it isn’t currently fashionable.

  • This is true, of course. Medical care is the third leading cause of death in the USA. But I consider it even more egregious when the “conditions” being “treated” aren’t even objectively definable, and actually represent social assumptions and biases rather than medical conditions. It’s bad enough we have to trust doctors to treat actual illnesses. I sure don’t want them “treating” my emotions and thoughts!

  • Let’s get rid of the “mental health” language here!

    How about: “Survivors’ reality is badly messed with when people don’t believe them.”

    Or: “Survivors of sexual abuse find it invalidating, infuriating, and depressing when people pretend that what happened to them wasn’t real.”

    Or: “Denying the reality of sexual abuse survivors is another form of abuse.”

    It doesn’t “affect the mental health” of abuse survivors. It attacks them directly and undermines their safety and sense of reality, and it does so intentionally. It is normal to be pissed and confused and self-blaming after someone abuses you, and even more so when those entrusted to protect you protect your abusers instead.

  • How would we react if our doctor told us, “Well, I can’t say for certain what’s wrong, but we think you have a little tiredness disorder, plus a rashy skin disorder and an insomnia disorder plus a headache disorder and a right leg numbness disorder. We have a drug for each of those conditions, but it won’t cure them. It might keep the symptoms under control, but the drugs will make you gain weight and possibly raise your risk of early death through heart disease and/or diabetes. And we still don’t really know what’s causing all of this.”

    I think we’d all realize we were visiting a charlatan.

  • The burden of proof is always on the person supporting the hypothesis. So one can say a hypothesis can’t ever be proven absolutely, because there is always the possibility of new data having to be incorporated into a system. Even Newtonian Mechanics, the ultimate in a set of certain laws of the universe, had to be modified eventually due to relativity and quantum mechanics.

    But science is actually very capable of disproving things. All that’s needed is for the theory to predict something that doesn’t appear to be true in reality. For instance, if there is a claim that “low serotonin causes depression,” it would follow at a minimum that all people who are seriously depressed will have low levels of serotonin compared to normal. That isn’t sufficient to prove it, because of course low serotonin could be an effect rather than a cause, or simply a co-occuring phenomenon that has no relationship to depression. But if depressed people DON’T have lower serotonin on the average than non-depressed people, the theory is shown to be false, because the results conflict with the hypothesis. And in fact, this is the case. People who are depressed don’t always have low levels of serotonin, and people with low levels of serotonin aren’t always depressed. Moreover, increasing serotonin levels doesn’t consistently improve depression, and many “antidepressants” don’t even attack the serotonin system.

    So yes, the theory of low serotonin causing depression has been convincingly disproven. We know it is not true. It isn’t just a lack of data – the data show that that hypothesis does not predict realty, and is therefore false. Similar arguments can be shown for the high dopamine theory of psychosis, and the low dopamine theory of ADHD. The idea that “mental illnesses” are caused by “chemical imbalances” can’t entirely be disproven, but in every case where a concrete hypothesis has been put forward, it has been disproven.

  • I agree with you. I’m not sure whether I was responding to you or just to the topic in general. I think it’s important not to generalize about how to handle specific manifestations as if they all require the same handling. I actually think that point is quite consistent with yours, as the nature and meaning of voice hearing could also be very different depending on the person in question.

  • I tend to agree. There are other forces not obvious to the doctor-patient relationship that act to make it more difficult to avoid psychiatric “treatment” even in the absence of overt force. For instance, doctors are pressured from insurance companies and their own organizations, as are counselors and therapists, potential patients are pressured by friends, family, workplace, schools put pressure on parents to psychiatrically “treat” their kids, the news media makes it seem like people are foolish for not “taking their meds” as prescribed, movies and TV shows dramatize again and again how those who “don’t take their meds” deteriorate and become dangerous, and yet are magically fixed when they are back “on their meds.” Maybe it’s not “force” but “social coercion,” but there are a lot of people on these drugs against their own better judgement, or lacking any kind of informed consent, who were not ordered by the courts to take them. Lying to people can be a form of coercion if the lies create fear that the person will be damaged or do something dangerous if they don’t comply with the doctor’s “suggestions.”

  • It seems this is where we disagree. If I want to challenge someone regarding psychiatry, it’s not the time pr place to speak out against Scientology, because I see it playing into the hands of the person trying to avoid the question.

    Now if a person GENUINELY thinks that all antpsychiatry activity is started or supported by Scientologists, that’s an opportunity for education. Very different in my mind from a blatant effort to intentionally deflect attention away from a critique of psychiatry by implying that anyone taking such a stance must be irrational and unscientific.

    Anyway, as I said, we can respectfully disagree on this point. I don’t see much point in continuing the discussion, as we’ve both made our positions and arguments clear. People can consider either one and do what works for them.

    Another clever approach was suggested by another poster: “Actually, I’m a Buddhist. What about you? Now that we’re done with talking about religion, let’s get back to talking about psychiatry.”

  • BTW, do you really think that most of the psychiatric profession is asking protesters about Scientology because they are concerned it is a “dangerous cult” and don’t want to interact with it? Or do you think they
    are using a preexisting social reality/fear to manipulate people into thinking that anyone who opposes psychiatry is only acting out of the dogmatic insistence of Scientology’s leadership? I personally doubt very much that any psychiatrist actually has such a concern or would be in the slightest degree reassured if you told them you were not. It seems to me that the goal is to tarnish all resistance with the brush of irrationality, and my preferred response is not to allow that goal to be put forward unchallenged. Because people are easily manipulated by innuendo.

  • That’s my position as well. Social control should be named what it is. It’s not “treatment” of “mental health issues.” It’s an attempt to control “deviant” or “undesirable” behavior from the point of view of the status quo. Naturally, it’s a very slippery slope when we start reframing “He’s doing something that annoys his neighbors and should be stopped” as “He’s got a ‘mental disease’ MAKING him do something annoying and heneeds to be ‘treated.'” Again, what is “deviant” is defined socially, not medically, and it’s a pretty big scam to pretend otherwise.

  • I am never arguing for any kind of “broken brain” theory. I am saying that there ARE brain problems, which are handled by neurology or some other actual medical specialty. I was trying to explain within Rassel’s context of materialism why “mental illness” still does not make sense as a medical problem. I’m not a materialist by any stretch of the imagination!

  • Well, that could work just fine, but it still leaves you potentially vulnerable to someone changing the topic to how bad Scientologists are or how “most” opponents “are Scientologists” even if you are not. It is an attempt at distraction, whether they are accusing you of being a Scientologist or a Zoroastrianist or a Communist or a Nazi. I think the best approach is not to take the bait. But I know we will respectfully disagree on this point.

  • I don’t think anyone here doesn’t believe that a brain can malfunction. I don’t agree that a brain malfunction is the only thing that can be behind someone being violent or depressed or whatever. It sounds like you believe the brain creates the mind and therefore HAS to be responsible for any actions that occur. I don’t see it that way – I see the mind as being the mechanism for controlling the brain, at the minimum an “emergent property” that extends beyond the mechanism that created it. I also hold the strong possibility that we are spiritual entities that are responsible for our bodies, though it is difficult to prove or disprove this kind of premise. In any case, it is pretty clear from direct observation that the mind can and does control most aspects of the brain. Even the revered PET scans show that when someone simply THINKS something different, the PET scan changes. For instance, someone can think of a sad event and their brain shifts gears into a “sad” profile, and shifts back when they think of something that isn’t sad. This belies the idea that feelings “just happen” because our brains are bad.

    Even if we accept the premise that it’s all in the physical universe, there is still the “computer model” to consider. While I don’t believe that the human brain is much like a computer really, it is fair to suggest that we have “hardware” and “software” operating, in the sense that there are physiological structures that are used while thinking and making decisions and emoting, but there are also “programs” in the sense that we make MEANING out of things and we make decisions based on values that are programmed in starting early in life.

    Using this metaphor/analogy, what if the problem is not in the hardware, but in the programming? You can’t solve a programming problem by replacing memory chips or rerouting the power supply. The program is contained within the chips, and really consists only of on/off switches. It is only because the programmer assigns MEANING to the switches that the computer works at all. It seems to me that what is wrong with the “mind” most of the time is faulty programming, or perhaps more accurately programming that doesn’t create the desired result from a social perspective. Of course, then we get into the question of who gets to decide what the “desired result” is, which is a whole different question. However, it is likely that those who are violent have, in most cases, grown up with and/or developed value systems in which murdering people is not wrong or is justifiable under certain circumstances. This is something that can not ever be improved by physiological intervention.

    So the catch-all of “mental illness” does not necessarily imply any kind of problem in physiology, even if you take a strict materialist point of view, any more than a computer malfunction has to be a function of the hardware. The vast majority of computer problems are programming issues, and the same analogy almost certainly holds true for “mental illnesses” as identified by the committee-driven DSM.

  • Actually, even allowing the discussion of whether antipsychiatry and Scientology are the same or not still gives in to the tactic. When we were at the APA protest in Philadelphia, a psychiatrist said she’d talk with us, but wanted to know if we were Scientologists. We shouted her down, saying, “Oh, no, you’re not pulling that crap! We’re here to talk about psychiatry, not religion!” And various statements of that order. The topic of Scientology vs. antipsychiatry was never breached, because she understood we were not willing to play that game with her.

  • Psychiatry claims to be helping with “mental health problems.” We are seeing a VAST increase in the use of psychiatric “treatments” (especially drugs), and yet we’re seeing a steady worsening of the “mental health problems” that these “treatments” are supposed to solve. Isn’t it psychiatry’s job to address these “worsening conditions of society” through their helpful interventions? Doesn’t seem to be working too well, does it?

    And this trend is seen to happen again and again in countries where drugs and the “treatments” are introduced – more and more people on disability and unable to participate in normal social interactions and expectations. What exactly is psychiatry claiming to be doing about these societal problems? It seems at best to be drugging the brains and bodies of those harmed by these societal woes, and at the same time denying (through their claims of physical causality) that there is any connection whatsoever between the suffering experienced and the social issues that you have identified. In all likelihood, psychiatry as practiced is not helping, but in fact making those conditions worse by providing a handy way to blame and silence the victims of our post-industrial society’s insanities and adding to that insanity by its stigmatizing labels and “treatments” for “disorders” that are voted into existence by committees.

    If mental health problems are caused or exacerbated by social conditions, what exactly does psychiatry propose to do about them, Stevie? Maybe start by discontinuing the blaming of people’s “malfunctioning brains” for their suffering?

    Of course, the bitter irony of you blaming psychiatrists’ high suicide rates on social conditions while the profession blames their clients’ genetics is not lost on anyone reading your comment.

  • It comes from a fear of how others who don’t understand may characterize you. Depending what position one is in, it might make sense not to advertise it. But I don’t think it’s something one needs to defend or explain. It’s the psychiatrists who need to do the explaining. But they are way too often let off the hook by people buying into these rhetorical tactics.

  • I call it the Ad Homenem Attack, based on ancient Greek definitions of rhetorical techniques. The Greeks recognized that attacking the character of the person involved through generalization or implication is a tactic relied on when someone is lacking a logical argument. Ad Hominem means an attack “on the person” rather than on the subject or the argument or the data.

    My usual retort to such an effort is, “Why are you talking about religion/philosophy/(whatever they’re using to distract) when I was talking about scientific facts? Is it possible that you don’t really have a counter argument and are resorting instead to trying to attack my character due to the weakness of your argument?” This immediately shifts the discussion back to the topic at hand and identifies the tactic to the listener. If the person continues the attack, it’s easy to say, “Well, I guess we know who has data to back up their argument and who doesn’t. Come back when you have some actual science to share with the audience.”

    The biggest mistake people make is trying to prove they are NOT “antipsychiatry” or “a Scientologist” or whatever. As soon as you take that bait, they have won, because now the topic is your credibility instead of the data you’ve presented.

    That’s my take on it, anyway. I know not everyone agrees with this.

  • Not only because of, but in support of the demonization of Scientologists, antipsychiatrists, or anybody who threatens their control of the market. The idea that people who oppose psychiatry are anti-scientific, biased and/or irrational is a PRODUCT that has been SOLD by the psychiatric industry in order to deflect criticism. Robert is quite clear about this in Anatomy, where he outlines how the psych profession collaborated with Time Magazine to do a cover hit piece that established and connected any resistance to psychiatric hegemony to irrationality and self-serving bias. To suggest he doesn’t understand this suggests that perhaps a person might need to reread Anatomy again, because they’re forgetting what RW has said about this very subject.

  • Scientific theories are not based on “popularity,” or should not be. The general exception to psychiatry is not that one of its theories got shot down, but that the entire edifice is based on false scientific premises, namely that one can group behaviors together and define “illnesses” based on checklists of behavioral characteristics, all of which might exist in people who might have little to nothing in common except for certain aspects of their external presentation. There are actually diagnoses where people could literally have NO criteria in common and still both have the same “diagnosis.” Additionally, psychiatrists have been chronically resistant to actual data that contradicts their theories. The “chemical imbalance” theory was essentially disproven in the late 80s, and yet continues to be perpetuated to this day by many claiming “scientific basis” for these DSM “disorders.”

    I would not have an objection to an honest science of the brain, as long as it adhered to basic scientific processes and assumptions and admitted to error when conflicting data shot down a theory. Oh, but there already is such a science – it’s called neurology!

  • It sounds like you are defining “mental illness” as any condition that results in people behaving in dangerous or destructive ways. Do you really see these behaviors as “illnesses” in the medical sense? Do you believe that something is physiologically wrong with someone who does these things, and that this explains fully why they do so? Or are you simply stating that these people may meet the “criteria for mental illness” as defined by the DSM, which we all know is something decided on in committees and voted on by the APA, rather than detected by any legitimate test of “health” or “illness?”

    If it is the latter, then claims that all shooters are “mentally ill” is pretty meaningless, as it seems to be defined simply as behavior that a society disapproves of.

  • I agree, and that was actually my point. It’s not “fragile” to need and want safety and agency in one’s life. It’s a normal part of being human. What is abnormal and unfortunate is when humans intentionally take away other humans’ safety and agency in order to profit or dominate others. We should, indeed, be focused on stopping abusers instead of accusing their victims of “fragility.”

  • I agree with this thinking 100%. The primary error in the DSM is the assumption that all depressed people are the same, all anxious people are the same, all hallucinating people are the same… these assumptions are absolutely not true, and there is no reason to suspect they would be. Some people who are depressed love meditation! Others find it completely useless or damaging. Same with CBT, regressive therapies, micronutrients, etc. Every person’s needs are different, and what will help is different, too. There is nothing to suggest that all depressed people will be helped by the same approach.

  • “Working well” is the key phrase here. The vast majority of conventional systems do not “work well” for the majority of those exposed to them. The WHO cross-cultural studies bear this out. A person who hears voices is far better off (in terms of effective help) living in Brazil or Nigeria than in the USA or Great Britain.

  • They are both important. You focus on getting good sleep, eating well, working with supportive providers to address any possible physiological problems. But you make sure that they have a real way to TEST for these problems, rather than just telling you that you “have a disorder” because you meet some biological checklist of criteria voted on in some meeting at the APA convention. AND you focus on environmental factors, managing stress, deciding on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, creating the kind of life you want, staying away from destructive people, etc. AND you focus on social things – connecting with other people, making sure you are engaged in productive activity that has meaning for you, etc. They are all important. The problem with the DSM is that it ASSUMES biological cause without testing it out, and at the same time minimizes the impact of the psychological, social and spiritual issues that create most of the “mental health” issues that are “diagnosed.” I say this as a person who used to be VERY anxious much of the time, who had frequent thoughts of suicide when under stress, who was tremendously shy and isolated as a child with really limited social skills. But now I’m very easy to talk with, have excellent social skills in most situations, am willing to engage with total strangers, have learned how to have difficult conversations with hostile people – LOTS of things that I could never do before. Do I get anxious sometimes? Sure. Depressed? Absolutely. But I know what to do about it now, and I don’t get stuck there.

    I managed all of this with no “treatment” except for 15 months of weekly therapy in my 20s. The rest I learned by reading and sharing with others and by challenging myself to do things I was scared of through my employment and my drive to improve myself. I have learned that lack of sleep leads me to being more depressed and anxious. That’s biological. But I don’t need a drug, I need SLEEP! And when I get it, I find it easier to deal with stress. It doesn’t cure it, but it makes it easier.

    So I do believe it’s all of the above, but I don’t believe, based on research and observation and stories from others, that the psychiatrists have the slightest idea what might be “biologically” wrong with someone who is anxious or depressed or whatever, if anything. Their claims about ‘chemical imbalances’ are outright lies, and some (like Ron Pies) admit that this is the case. Yet they still try to tell you it’s all because of your “bad brain.” I see the system as being corrupt and misleading and very destructive. Each of us has to come up with our own approach that works for us. Any therapy or other help should be focused on helping YOU find YOUR path rather than telling you what they think is wrong with you and providing false explanations in order to sell drugs.

  • I have no problem with that framing. The problem is that the DSM categories have nothing to do with biology – literally NOTHING AT ALL to do with biology. If you have a thyroid problem, or anemia, or syphilis, you’d better get medical treatment! But that has zero correlation with any DSM category – they are real medical problems that are treatable, unlike the DSM labels. Other issues like food, sleep, exercise, physical pain, all can contribute to feeling bad or being confused or whatever. Those are biological. “Depression” is not biological, “Anxiety disorders” are not biological. They are catchall phrases made up for lazy clinicians who don’t want to bother to actually figure out what’s going on.

  • I have done this, actually. Just heard back from the guy today. He’s doing a lot, a lot better than when I started, but it’s taken years. He was in and out of “hospitalization” and on lots of drugs, now has worked for a year plus in construction, is studying, is able to communicate effectively with others, not using, has made amends to a number of people he’s hurt… still on a very low dose of “antipsychotics” to stave off withdrawal, but tapering gradually. I had no professional relationships with this guy. He was a friend of my oldest son, but everyone had disconnected from him and I was the only one who believed in him.

    So yeah, it happened.

  • I’m not sure I see the similarities you mention. As I understand it, Scientology is based on the idea that we are spiritual beings being held back by physical and emotional pain, and that the answer is reexperiencing this pain to release it. It seemed very individualistic as I have read about it. That’s my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong about that. I’m unaware of any kind of family approach, and there was no talk about “different internal voices” or a lot of talk about “different parts” of people and so on as Schwartz seems to go on about. I don’t really see what is so similar about them. Do you have any specifics?

  • I think you hit the key point – people can label themselves whatever they want, and more power to them. But when credentialed doctors who have the trust of their patients and the general public start promoting “theories” they know to be wrong or speculative as if they are certain and settled science, they are being extremely unethical. And when their clients are concretely harmed by such deception, they have moved from unethical to criminal behavior.

  • OK, in order to honestly prescribe benzodiazepines for anxiety caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, would you not have to be able to establish a) what a proper “chemical balance” is, and b) how to measure deviations from that normal expectation? Would you not also be required to show that anxiety is CAUSED by such an “imbalance” rather than the “imbalance” being a natural occurrence when someone feels anxious? And if neither of these criteria are met, how could anyone be considered to be practicing medicine when they prescribe a drug based only on behavior and emotion rather than any actual measurement of normalcy/deviation?

    I know that you’ve been told by many sources that “chemical imbalances” are real and that drugs “treat” them. But were you aware that mainstream psychiatrists like Ronald Pies, a great champion of the current model of “treatment,” have said that the chemical imbalance theory is false, that it is, to quote Pies, “an urban myth” that no respectable psychiatrist takes seriously? That the idea of a “chemical imbalance” was actually debunked as far back as the 1980s?

    You have been lied to, XxXxXx. I’m sorry to have to say it, but it’s true. There is no evidence of a chemical imbalance even being measurable, let alone “treatable”. Benzos make people relax and not worry about things. It is the same effect on anyone. It’s a crude effect that certainly does nothing to “balance” anything, but actually pushes the brain very far past its equilibrium. This can feel good at times, but it also causes dependence and addiction. Long term use actually does damage to the brain, including damaging cognitive functioning. All of this is commonly known from psychiatry’s own mainstream researchers.

    The idea of “treating” chemical imbalances is 90% drug company propaganda, supported by mainstream psychiatry from day one. There is zero scientific truth to it. Even Ronald Pies says so.

  • So how would you define a “mental illness,” Milan? How would you distinguish it from “normal suffering?” That’s the part I really struggle with. Plus, if your distress is caused by abuse and oppression around you, is it an “illness” to be upset about it? Seems like a pretty strained concept, even though you’re right, there is lots and lots of agreement about it.

  • I don’t disagree with this at all, in fact, I’ve said the same many times. We’re living in the resurrection of Calvinism – your financial success proves that God is with you. This, however, doesn’t mean that we can’t help each other to deal with the consequences of these destructive postulates, whether in formal or informal ways. Naturally, the psychiatric/psychological industry is an industry and is driven by profits, and that’s the real problem we’re all dealing with.

  • The USA exists only as a result of violence and oppression, a fact which colors every aspect of our society. We are not alone in this, of course, but the particular history of the USA, from the treatment of the native population to the use of slave labor to create wealth to the continued second-class citizenship of certain populations in the USA continues to place violent conquest and subjugation at the center of our politics. And of course, the entire business model of Western society is based on conquest and the implied violence of starvation and hopeless poverty for those who fail to comply with “the rules,” and even for many who do.

  • You know, I had not even thought of that until you just said it. I assumed that he realized he was busted and had no hope of preserving his self-absorbed and abusive lifestyle and therefore decided that death was better than living such an ignominious life. But it is quite possible this process was initiated or exacerbated by antidepressant drugs.

  • I would agree that the conclusions from this study are very limited, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that hospitalizations the way we do them is decreasing the suicide rate. Again, it is the responsibility of those advocating for more hospitalizations to prove that they DO reduce suicidality, not the responsibility of those opposed to prove it does not. There is no evidence here that a reduction is taking place, therefore, the scientific conclusion must be that to date, we can’t say that hospitialization is an appropriate action to prevent suicide, at least as it is done. This doesn’t mean that certain individuals might not choose not to commit suicide if they are kept alive a while longer, but there is no data to suggest that the “treatment” is anything more than simply preventing a person from acting upon impulse and giving them time to consider their decision in a new light.

    What I am uncomfortable with is starting from the assumption that hospitalization DOES reduce suicidal behavior and forcing someone to prove that hypothesis wrong. We should assume that it DOES NOT until those in favor of it prove otherwise, just as a drug has to be proven effective against placebo or it is assumed that it is not effective.

    Hope that is clearer.

  • There is a very distinct difference between not accepting psychotherapy IN GENERAL, and I actually agree with you on this point, and invalidating the personal experience of someone whose experience in something that happened to be called “psychotherapy” who describes specific ways in which it helped that person accomplish the very things you claim to value, including feeling one’s unwanted feelings and taking political action. The first is an opinion, the second is disrespectful to someone else’s experience. The first is allowable, the second is not.

    ise, you are contradicting your own premises.

  • This is not about you “going along” with anything or about me “feeling better.” It’s about your chronic attempts to make gross generalizations and being disrespectful about others’ experiences. Coming back with, “Well, it sounds like your therapy experience worked well for you, but it is not consistent with my experience” might work. Suggesting that I am wrong in my assessment of my own therapy experience is a totally different act, and borders on abusive on your part. There is absolutely no inconsistency with receiving therapy and being willing to fight psychiatry, as my case and the cases of many other people on this site can attest. Your inability/unwillingness to accept that anyone else’s experience might not comport with your predigested views massively undermines your credibility. It seems impossible to have an exchange with you, as you appear to be preaching to your own choir and deleting any notes that don’t fit with your song. At a certain point, it moves beyond expressing your opinion and into the realm of suppressing others’ experiences, which is something I’d think you of all people would be against. You don’t want to be one of those that you’re fighting against, do you?

  • I can testify as an advocate for foster kids for 20 years that the system often does more harm than good. There are most definitely some situations that turn out much better for the kids or the families, but there are just as many where the kids continue to be abused, neglected, or forgotten, including being abused by the “mental health” system during their time in care. Most of our advocacy was done to prevent further harm by the system itself. And statistics most definitely show bias against black people, Native Americans, Latinx people and poor people, all across the country. Child abuse is awful, but foster care is not a great answer, either. We need to look at other ways to deal with the problem.

  • It certainly suggests to me that at the minimum, psych hospitalization doesn’t appear to reduce suicidal acts. And from a scientific viewpoint, it’s the responsibility of the “treaters” to prove their treatment works. Saying they are worse to start with and that’s why so many kill themselves afterwards suggests that “Treatment” has had no positive effect.

  • So help me understand how someone learns to face what happened to them as Alice assures us we must do? It’s easy to say that, but as Alice would explain, our defensive symptoms make it very difficult for us to face our pain and instead we tend to pass it on to the next generation. So how does one get through this defensive system so one can feel these undesired feelings?

  • Again, it’s clear you argue from your own personally limited viewpoint and nothing anyone says will sway you from it. You tend to repeat the same statements over and over, but they are full of assumptions, such as the assumption that therapy itself must lead to legal redress, or that therapists are going out of their way to force people to adjust to their circumstances instead of fighting back, which is, of course, only your own assumption and in my case is directly contradicted by the facts I’ve presented.

    You’re also invalidating my assertion that taking on my own parents and reclaiming my power is plenty of redress for me, as it freed me to follow my own path instead of spending all my time worrying about what they think or do. If that is not a positive outcome, I’m not sure what if anything would ever qualify. Perhaps you’d have been satisfied if I’d sued my parents for being insensitive and overwhelmed and not being able to do what they needed to for us kids?

    And you yourself admit that some “stuff” IS between your ears, in the sense that “feeling your feelings” per Alice Miller is an essential part of becoming a whole person, at least if you really believe what Alice was saying. I would think you would support whatever efforts did that for a person, regardless of what it’s called. But you don’t seem to do that. You want to tell everyone else what to think and believe, even when the person him/herself tells you that your beliefs are incorrect in their case. This kind of invalidation doesn’t help anyone, and in fact reminds me of the very failings of the “mental health” system you and I both so vehemently disapprove of. You would be a lot more credible with me, and I think with a lot of people, if you stopped telling me/others what they should believe and started listening a little more and trying to incorporate what you hear from me and others into your philosophy, instead of just ignoring or arguing with me down when I don’t agree 100% with your preconceived philosophical notions.

  • Again, agreed 100%. Cultivating that gut level feeling is something I talk about in my book as the ultimate tool for detecting abusive people, but our society teaches us from early on how to mute that “little voice” and talk ourselves out of believing what we have legitimately observed. A big part of healing on the spiritual level, to me, comes down to learning to listen to those intuitive messages and to take the time to figure out what they’re really about. It’s not always clear exactly why we get those messages, but they are there to be respected and listened to!

  • I agree. Most psychologists and counselors are 4 square with the DSM model and believe most of the mythology about “biological brain diseases.” Some psychologists in some states have even fought for prescribing rights! The therapists/counselors I’m talking about are generally mavericks who aren’t interested in playing along with any system, but are committed to meeting people where they’re at and being present with them to help them figure out their own solutions. I’m not in agreement with any kind of authoritarian approach to counseling, where the counselor somehow “knows more” or tells the client what to think, feel, or do. The only good counselors are the one that help increase the power and capabilities of their clients so that they are able to follow their own paths, not a path the counselor wants them to follow.

  • I don’t disagree. That’s one of the big reasons I moved out of that realm into advocacy. Even the “good ones” are embedded in a system which rewards compliance and challenges any attempt to improve services or humanize clients. At a certain point, it starts to feel like you’re “sleeping with the enemy” and supporting a system that is generally much more damaging than helpful, and not by accident. My personal ethics would not allow me to continue to collaborate with the system.

  • It appears to me that you are unable to accept data from my personal experience that contradicts your philosophical premises. It should be easy enough for you to simply acknowledge that I had this experience and that my therapist, at least, did not have the intention of preventing me from becoming active in asserting my rights or was encouraging me in any way to “adjust” to my environment. Why is this so difficult for you to accept? What would be wrong with recognizing that not all therapists are the same? And that some do, in fact, encourage their clients to stand up against those who are mistreating them, whether in the past or the present or the future, even if the majority do not do this? Is maintaining your philosophical purity more important than respecting the actual data you get from people who actually use this kind of service? Maybe you would do well to stop telling everyone what to think and instead listen to people’s experiences? Maybe you could learn something from listening to survivors yourself?

  • I don’t at all disagree. Most therapists are either ineffective or dangerous. There are a small minority that can be very helpful, but most people either lack access to such people or don’t realize what they are really looking for. Just signing up for a therapist is a dangerous act, because the power imbalance is so profound and so few professionals are able to recognize this problem and address it.

  • They have stopped talking about “endogenous” vs. “exogenous” depression, first off because there is no way to actually tell the difference, and secondly, because if they really looked at this question, it would be clear that the vast majority of their client base has very good reasons for being depressed, which would eliminate their justification for drugging anyone they encounter with these “symptoms,” regardless of the reason they might occur.

  • Not necessarily. There is no requirement that a therapist listen from a point of view of superiority or of instructing the client on what is going on or what to do. Certainly the majority of therapists these days DO operate in that way, partly because they’re now trained to look down on their clients, partly because they haven’t done their own work on their own issues.

    But a truly good therapist would, in my view, listen only from the point of an outside observer of their client’s narrative of their own life and experiences. Their job is to ask questions to help the client make up their own minds about what is causing their distress and what THEY want to do about it. The therapist’s job is not to tell the client what to think, in fact, my own therapist years ago pretty much refused to EVER tell me what she thought even if I asked her to. She did share some things from her own life to help me understand that she was NOT coming from a superior point of view, but had been through similar pain and frustration herself. But she never, ever told me what to do or think. She simply helped me unwind my own story and realize some important things regarding “feeling my feelings,” which you correctly point out is so essential to moving beyond the abusive/neglectful/oppressive environments that most kids grow up in. She empowered me by listening without judging, asking pointed questions about what I said, and supporting me in feeling my feelings and acting on the logical consequences of those feelings. It was my parents who viewed my viewpoints as invalid. She never did, and in fact, strengthened my confidence that my own views were, in fact, valid, in contradiction to what I’d come to believe from listening to and being worried about my parents’ and siblings’ views of what I should/should not be or think or do.

  • It is not a majority that go on psych drugs, but it is WAY more than the average for non-foster kids. Over half of teens in foster care are on psych drugs. Usually around 20% of all foster youth are on psych drugs, including even 1-2% of infants! Interestingly, though, kids placed in relative foster care have only slightly higher drug use rates than the general public, whereas non-family foster placements have 3-5 times higher rates of psych drug use.

    Foster kids are most definitely at higher risk of being diagnosed and drugged than the average kid.

  • Well, I still think you’re making generalizations that aren’t true for every therapy relationship. My therapist didn’t specifically suggest that I do anything or not do anything in particular, because she saw her role as helping me process those unconscious feelings you and Alice Miller talk about, and then to decide FOR MYSELF what I should do about it. It certainly did involve confronting family members about how I had been treated, and seeing roles that other family members had been thrust into and helping protect them against the (mostly unconscious) tyranny of my mom and my brothers. There was also a raising of social consciousness regarding the plight of others who had experienced similar family dynamics and were suffering. This led me eventually into social work, and then when I observed what social work systems were doing to people, into advocacy. She most definitely helped me move from being angry at myself to being angry about social injustice, not because she told me to feel that way, but because she helped me find and connect with my own sense of righteous indignation. And as I said before, without this experience, I would never have gotten to advocacy as a career and life path.

    So my therapist did not fit your model of “teach you to adjust to injustice” or “accept your lot in life.” It was much more about, “If you have an issue, what are you going to DO about it?” Which certainly fits into your framework of encouraging people to take action against their oppressors.

    Now this was in the 80s, and I fully acknowledge that such therapists have become more and more rare as the DSM has taken hold. But to pretend that there is some generalized agreement among therapists that their job is to prevent people from holding their oppressors accountable is to me simplistic and not supported by the fact. Therapists are not lawyers, nor are lawyers therapists, but there’s nothing to prevent a therapist from making referrals to lawyers for class action suits and the like, and I certainly have done that with many a person in my social worker days.

    As a wise man once said, “Generalizations are always wrong.”

  • I am saying that it depends very much on who the psychotherapist is and what they’re about. I would say that it is true that most therapists these days are fully indoctrinated into the DSM system and see people’s problems as “mental illnesses.” But as Bonnie points out, there are therapists who take a very different view of what therapy is or should be, and there are many people, including myself, who have had very positive therapy experiences themselves. I can pretty much guarantee you that I would not have become an antipsychiatry activist and advocate for stopping the mass drugging of kids in our society (and adults, of course, but kids were my specialty) without having gone through that experience myself. You have talked about Alice Miller and the need for people to get in touch with, feel, and validate their own experiences in order not to perpetuate the same offenses on the next generation. I agree totally with Alice, and I would also submit that most therapists haven’t done this work and are either useless or dangerous. But not all.

    So my objection is not to making generalizations about the practice of therapy as a profession, but to generalizing that all THERAPISTS have the objective of removing someone’s honor and having them accept themselves as inferior beings. That was not at all my experience, and others report finding therapists who have helped them gain new and helpful perspectives on how to live their lives without worrying about how “the system” or “the middle class” would judge them. I think this is very valuable when it happens, even if it is rare, and I don’t want folks who have had that kind of experience or who have provided that kind of experience to be invalidated by sweeping generalizations about what “all therapists” are intending to do.

  • I would agree that psychiatry is an organized system with a specific purpose and a political apparatus to support it, including mass funding through the drug companies, and it is much easier to make accurate generalizations about psychiatry. I would still maintain that saying that “all psychiatrists” are the same is inaccurate, but in the case of psychiatry, the defectors from the status quo are much fewer and much more exposed to blackballing and other punishment from the powers that be.

  • That is what I have always suspected. SSRIs appear to create a sense of not caring what others think about your behavior. This might be seen as a good thing of someone is spending a lot of time worrying that others don’t think they are good enough. Being able to say, “Screw mom, I’m gonna do what I want to do,” might feel really good to some people. But what if someone is being prevented from doing something violent because s/he is concerned about the consequences, that they might be shamed or put in jail? In that case, removing empathy or concern for the views of others may be deadly!

  • Denial is not “trauma informed.”

    This is more proof that anyone can take any concept and turn it into a means of oppression. The attitude is what has to change, and calling one’s oppressive attitude “trauma informed” is just another way of coopting the drive to expose abuse of power for what it is and turning it into a way to protect the perpetrators.

  • This is kind of sad to me. Talking about the person’s neighborhood they grew up in or other aspects of their culture should be standard practice for anyone who actually wants someone to feel safe talking to them. Sharing about one’s own background is also helps build trust. If psychiatrists understood that building trust is the beginning of doing anything remotely helpful, this would not be a necessary exercise.

  • I wish I had one! Big social changes take time, and also usually money. I think maybe we have to start with getting money out of politics so our representatives are representing us rather than big corporations. But that in itself is a huge task, and probably starts with political organizing at a local level and commitment for years to making changes. It is a daunting task!

  • I would submit that we don’t KNOW anything that we haven’t personally examined and found to be true based on our own standards. You don’t “know” something just because someone else told it to you. All you know is that this is what you were told. The lack of intellectual curiosity and rigor amongst people who claim to be representing scientific or technological advances is disheartening, though no longer even slightly surprising.

  • Sandra,

    As a psychiatrist whom I respect greatly, I’d be very pleased to hear whether you have seen psychiatrists or the APA promoting the “chemical imbalance” or “brain disorder” hypothesis. It’s hard for me to imagine you have not heard this being put out there all the time, as I ran into it frequently just in the foster care system. What’s your experience?

  • So either they are not psychiatrists, or the entire psychiatric profession in New Zealand has to be regarded as “not serious” by Pies and his ilk. Of course, there is also the possibility that they are lying for the purpose of increasing their “market share,” but no, that COULDN’T be true! Psychiatrists would NEVER be corrupted!

  • Even if psychiatrists did not promote the “chemical imbalance hypothesis” (which of course we all know they did and continue to do), they certainly said and did NOTHING to correct any “misimpressions” created by the Pharmaceutical Industry or whoever else made them look like they believed in it. Failing to take action to correct false information is pretty close to promoting it, in my view.

  • How about if they are informed of the multiple long-term studies showing that stimulants do not improve ANY long-term outcomes for “medicated” vs. “unmedicated” students, including academic test scores, high school graduation, college enrollment, grades passed, delinquency rates, teen pregnancy rates, social skills, or even self-esteem ratings? Why is this rarely if ever mentioned in critiques of stimulant drugs for “ADHD”-diagnosed children? If long-term outcomes are not improved (or in some studies, made worse), what is the purpose of drugging these kids, even if one accepts the concept that “ADHD” exists as a disease state (which I do not)?

  • I have also worked with foster youth, and found that the “trauma brain” trainings, rather than increasing empathy as they ought to, for some people provide yet another way to say that “his brain is broken because he’s traumatized” and use it to justify more drugging and diagnosing. What is needed for traumatized people (which is pretty much all of us!) is empathy and kindness and honesty and human vulnerability. It doesn’t matter how many trainings are done – we need to impact the ethics of the people involved such that they start thinking about how they might accidentally be harming someone rather than assuming that everything they do is magically helpful.

  • The problem with mindfulness is that it has been abstracted from its spiritual roots in Buddhism and is now being used as a gimmick to deal with anxiety. Which it does help with, but it seems a shame (but typical) to remove the spiritual focus that provides a context for why one might meditate and what one might get out of such a practice over time. It should not be a means to escape the rigors of capitalism. It is a lot bigger than that.

  • That is very well said. Unless someone has an identifiable neurological disease that one can accurately test for, whatever people do is “neurotypical.” Genetic diversity is the key to species survival. We need all different kinds of people, and the sooner we learn to value what gifts everyone brings to the table, the healthier we’ll be as a society. But I’m not holding my breath on that one…

  • I respectfully disagree, based on personal experience. You appear to be committed dogmatically to a viewpoint that is not supported by the reported experiences of many people. I agree that the run-of-the-mill therapist is likely to be supportive of the status quo, and that there are certainly a significant number who are married to diagnoses or other client-blaming theories, and that such “help” is not very helpful. However, to say that all psychotherapy has the client yielding as the goal, or the client putting all problems in the past, is simply not true, no matter how many times that idea is repeated. It feels very disrespectful both to people who have found counseling/therapy beneficial and to those therapists (admittedly a minority these days) who work very hard at helping the client meet his/her own goals in an empowering way.

  • I don’t think that everyone knows what is good for themselves, not by a long shot. What I do believe is that everyone has a right to make his/her own decisions, and the job of a helper is to assist that person in gaining sufficient perspective to see the options available and the likely consequences of whatever decision they make. Forcing someone to do something “for their own good” is so fraught with problems that it is far better to decide never to force someone to do anything at all in the name of helping. Sometimes we do need to use force to keep them from hurting someone else, but at that point, we’re helping the potential victim, not the person we’re using force on.

    It is very painful to watch someone doing things you know will lead to pain, but everyone has to learn in their own way. We can provide information, show love, set boundaries, share perspectives, but in the end, each person is responsible for charting their own course in life, even if we don’t like the results.

  • “We do need a model to help clinicians and service users understand why their emotions and behaviors are maladaptive for them.”

    I would respectfully disagree with this statement, as a former counselor/therapist. I believe any “model” needs to understand why their emotions and behaviors are, or were at one time, ADAPTIVE for them, and help them decide if that behavior is still adaptive or if different options might be more effective in accomplishing their goals. Calling clients’ behavior “maladaptive”, in my experience, leads to defensiveness or self-shaming, whereas acknowledging that “all behavior meets a need” (as the saying goes) and that people aren’t acting or feeling random things, but are making decisions based on their own perception of what makes sense in their world. And of course, no one can really understand what makes sense in their world except the client him/herself. As soon as an helping person starts deciding for the person they’re helping what is and isn’t “adaptive,” they stop helping.

  • In my experience, this is very much the norm – it takes an act of Congress to get a doctor to support withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, and the desire to do so is often regarded as a “symptom of the illness” rather than a rational decision based on the pros and cons of the situation. Many docs seem to believe that being “mentally ill” eliminates the ability to think and reason and make decisions.

    It is true that it is getting easier to find clinicians to help someone wean, but such professionals are still the exception rather than the rule. And even when one does find someone “willing” to help them taper safely, there is an almost constant message that it’s a bad idea and will probably go wrong soon. Plus a lot of the “supporters” don’t appear to understand how to taper safely anyway. So it’s not really a very easy process, and some people can’t find anyone willing to help at all.

  • It depends who uses them and how. I have no problem with a person him/herself identifying as “mad” or “neurodiverse” if that is an identity they find helpful. The problem comes in when we start studying “neurodiverse” people to find out “what is different (aka wrong) with them” based on the same brain-based reasoning that the psychiatrists use. So “neurodiverse” in particular doesn’t challenge the psychiatric paradigm to recognize that THERE IS NO NORMAL in terms of “brain function” – everyone’s brain is different, and should be! After all, genetic diversity is the key to species survival. The term also tends to imply for me that one’s brain condition is fixed – I’m “neurodiverse” because I was born that way, you’re not, because you “fit in” better to our society’s expectations. Now, I understand that some people do believe that they were born particularly different, and that may even be absolutely true in their particular case. But brains change and develop over time, and everyone has their gifts and challenges biologically. I do very much appreciate the reflection that people who get diagnosed “ADHD” or “Autistic” or whatever can find positive characteristics associated within the groups that are diagnosed that way, and I often pass on or comment similarly when someone starts talking about “brain-based disabilities” and such crap. But those labels are still based on the DSM and the “adapt or you are diseased” way of thinking, and I’d rather do away with them altogether.

    So again, I’m not against a particular person identifying that way as a person, I just don’t like to use these terms myself because they reinforce the biological model for me. Others are certainly very much entitled to their own views on this, and those views may be far more informed than my own. It was just that the comments on this article brought to my attention why the term bothered me, as I would guess I’m pretty “diverse” based on what is actually expected of human beings in our society, but because I chose a quiet way to rebel and to deal with the oppression I was experiencing, I am considered to be somehow a “normal” person. I don’t think such a “normal” person exists on this earth.

    I hope that makes things a bit clearer.

  • Posting as moderator:

    All comments are put into the moderation queue upon receiving them. Some comments are approved by other people than me, depending on length, complexity, and/or potentially controversial content. I only get to look at them once or twice a day, depending, so some of your shorter or simpler comments might be approved by a different person while one that is longer or more complex may have to wait until later when I get to it. Which means some comments may be approved earlier, even if posted later.

    Hope that explains it!

    — Steve

  • An excellent question, and very kindly put!

    I do support that kind of use of the word – I have never had any problem with people advocating for “mad pride” or seeing themselves as “neurodiverse.” I think my issue is more one of assuming, for instance, that the kids who don’t act out in school and do their homework and try to keep the teachers happy are “normal” while kids who can’t manage that intense effort are “diverse.” I was one of those kids who did what he was told and tried to play the game so that I wouldn’t get in trouble. But I hated every minute of it. It was totally traumatic on a daily basis. So I was no more “neurotypical” than the kid who was being sent to the principal’s office for acting out. I was just being harmed in a different way because I did have the capability of pretending I was OK more than other kids did. I totally support anyone identifying as “neurotypical,” because I know some people have a rougher time than I have had. I just want to make sure everyone is clear that the kids (or adults) acting “normal” may be suffering in their own way from the oppressive system that we have to deal with. Just because I can “fit in” doesn’t make me “typical.” Those who “fit in” are an extremely diverse group that have little in common beyond their ability to dance to the masters’ tune well enough not to be singled out for special discrimination.

    I hope that makes my view a little clearer.

  • You are so right, the “helpers” seem to believe that they are automatically being helpful and are incapable of abuse and harm, and so are blind to the damage they do. People believe that taking a kid from an abusive situation and putting them into foster care makes it all better for them, but it does not. There is automatic instability and craziness inherent to the situation, not to mention unavoidable breaking of almost every social bond the child has had to date, but kids are frequently overtly abused by the system itself beyond those unavoidable challenges. Any helping agency that can’t admit it could inadvertently do ill should not be trusted for human beings.

  • I just realized what it is about using the term “neurodiverse” that’s bugged me. It seems to imply that there is some monolithic mass of people with “normal” brains from whom the “neurodiverse,” well, DIVERGE. But isn’t the real truth that ALL of us are “neurodiverse,” and that it is the practice of expecting everyone to think and act the same that is causing the distress? Shouldn’t the concepts of allowing people to think and feel as they see fit apply to ALL of us, rather than just a category of people who are already judged to be “weird” by the judgmental “mainstream” of oppressive social institutions?

    I’m not saying this as a criticism, just asking what folks think about it?

  • And yet studies where they simply provide food and shelter and basic necessities to people living on the streets, without any requirement to do anything else (the “Housing First” concept) appear to start getting better without any further intervention. Imagine, getting enough sleep, being able to have food and shelter and to be able to wash and use the toilet safely actually helps people feel better and stay safer. What a concept!

  • Your comments reflect my experience completely. There are people who are able to be helpful in more than a run of the mill way, but they are rare and a degree or license or “school of therapy” certainly does nothing to identify such people. They are human, real, caring, and allow themselves to be affected by our stories, and even share some of their own experiences when it is helpful. They make mistakes and apologize for doing so, they are properly horrified by horrific things, they are, in short, real humans who are there to help in whatever way they can. And again, they are quite rare.

  • Little irks me more than when they give someone a bunch of fat-inducing “SGAs” and then put the person on a diet because they “make bad food choices.” Saw it happen all the time in the foster kids I advocated for. Then there was the kid who spent two years working through a tendency not to want to eat anything. She was eating well and doing great, then they decided she had “ADHD” and put her on stimulants. Lo and behold, she appeared to “relapse!” I was apparently the only one who saw the obvious causal factor. They were totally ready to see it as a resurgence of her “eating disorder.”

  • I agree completely that confronting propaganda and sharing factual knowledge is essential for changing the system, and that is sometimes going to be uncomfortable for some people. I’ve certainly been accused of “pill shaming” or “being biased” or “not sharing both sides” many times in the past, and it does not deter me from sharing the information. I do think that “peer pressure” plays a big role in how people decide things, and knowing that there is someone who questions this paradigm and has data to back it up can be a big game changer for some people.

    The only point I want to emphasize is that this kind of work has to be done with a sensitivity to the potential backlash for some people who are very committed to believing in the paradigm for whatever reason. Again, if it is a professional, I have no problem “shaming” them when they are using their power to do harm. I feel different about how to approach a person who has been a believer in this system from a “service user” point of view. I think it’s important to find out where the person is and how much they are able to process to avoid unnecessary pain and confusion. That doesn’t mean not to share the truth with such a person. It just means it’s important to do it in a way that is at least marginally digestible given their present viewpoint. It has been a path for many of us to get here, and it’s sometimes way too easy for those of us farther down the path to think that the truth is obvious, and to forget that we were once farther back along that path and that it took time and patience and multiple experiences for us to get to where we are today. And it’s also important to remember that others’ paths may look different than ours. We don’t want psychiatrists and “mental health” workers to assume we’re all the same – we ought to make sure not to do that to ourselves.

  • You as a client should NEVER have to give the “benefit of a doubt” to your supposed caretakers/helpers. It is THEIR responsibility to figure out what is helpful, or to admit that they don’t know how to help. It infuriates me (though it’s not surprising) to hear the staff telling YOU that you need to understand and take care of the staff who are supposed to be there to help YOU. I find it disgusting.

  • Have you looked into “Hearing Voices” groups? They are run by other people who have had similar experiences and can make suggestions of what may or may not be worth trying. If I were in your situation, I think I might start there.

  • It is certain that feelings of self-deprecation are present in most of us who grew up in this highly shaming society. They are exploited by the system in order to create more compliant “patients,” and this can be very effective. It’s easy to say “not to be open” to shaming, but that has been a journey of decades for me, and I don’t think we can expect most people to be free from it. The real shaming that goes on is the labeling of someone as inadequate or insufficient in the first place, and the responsibility for that shaming lies squarely on the shoulders of the “professionals” who engage in it.

  • I totally respect yours, Julie. I’m simply saying that therapy experiences are all different and that I have an issue with making gross generalizations about what therapists intend, even if in most cases it ends up being fruitless or counterproductive. Believe me, I recognize how fortunate I was to find the person I did! I also recognize that she could have taken the same approach with a different person and not gotten good results. (To her credit, she recognized and stated this to me as well.) It was a good match, for whatever reason, and worked for me.

    I also recognize that therapists such as Elissa would be much harder to find nowadays, since so many people have been trained and propagandized into the DSM model of reality.

  • I agree with you, Richard, except in one point: I think that Oldhead and Auntie Psychiatry are correct in saying we should not use the term “pill shaming,” as it was invented by and is continuing to be used by those in charge of the system to discredit any criticism. But the phenomenon of someone from an anti- or critical-psychiatry viewpoint acting in ways that effectively disempower those who are being victimized by the system or who are trying to sort out what to do does in fact occur and is harmful, and often gets into what seems like victim blaming. I just think we need a new name for it.

    I think we do best when we recognize that people are where they are and that it’s not our job to “convert” people in low-power situations to our viewpoint, as it reinforces the idea that this person is foolish or incapable of making his/her own decisions with the right information. I do think we are responsible for educating anyone who is in any way receptive in the truth about these drugs, but it needs to be done in a way that respects their autonomy and power to make and live with the consequences of their own decisions.

  • I am not sure you’re really getting what I’m talking about, and I find your comments here more than a bit dismissive of my reality. I ABSOLUTELY was encouraged to fully experience all the pain and confusion and loss that was the reality of my childhood, with tears and hopelessness and anxiety and angry swearing and the whole 9 yards. So your comment that therapists are always about stopping feelings or distracting oneself from reality is not accurate, at least in my case.

    Moreover, though this therapist didn’t specifically suggest getting involved in political activity, she certainly inspired me to understand how widespread my experiences as a child were and how important it was to try to change the real conditions that exist which create understandable fear, anxiety, anger, apathy and other strong emotions in children and continuing into their adulthood. It is fair to say that one of the first steps on my path toward political enlightenment was my engagement with this particular therapist. And led to my eventual career advocating for abused and neglected children in the foster care system, including getting a law passed to help protect them from psychiatric drugging.

    So while I agree with you on the fact that most therapy is crap these days, I don’t agree that all therapy can be categorized that way. I agree completely that feeling emotions that are repressed or intellectualized is essential to becoming a fully functioning human being, but I’d have to say that any therapy that does have that effect will help you get folks to the barriers protesting the injustice of the world.

  • Wow, THAT was a “trauma informed” therapist??? I think they missed the boat by a pretty wide margin, there. It goes to show again that training and qualifications don’t mean much in this world of contradictions and power trips. Finding a person who actually cares enough to get to know you is the real winning game, and there is no guarantee or necessarily even improvement in odds that a person with a degree or training in “trauma-informed therapy” will be that kind of person for you. It absolutely disgusts me to hear this kind of story – thanks for sharing it and good for you for seeing what was really going on!

  • And I would add that she was ANYTHING but protective of my parents. In fact, my mom said to others (naturally, I never heard about this for YEARS later and from a third party) that my therapist was “driving a wedge between us.” We spent most of the time talking about my historical relationship with my mother and her denial of any kind of emotional reality except that “everything is just fine.” And it was VERY helpful to me, and I doubt that selecting an average person off the street to share my issues with would have been remotely as helpful. She had a very useful skill, and I was happy to pay her for the excellent service she provided.

  • You’ve said this stuff before, and I’ve finally realized why some of it bothers me. You claim that all therapy is about making someone “feel OK” without dealing with emotions. But I had a fine therapist back in the 80s (before the DSM III and the “chemical imbalance” theory had taken hold), and it was ALL about me learning to feel the feelings I was avoiding. That was the whole point of it. So while I agree that much if not most therapy today avoids dealing with these awkward realities (and that the DSM III and later editions were, in fact, carefully constructed to allow for this shift in emphasis), there have always been therapists who viewed their jobs as doing exactly what you are saying needs to be done. So I think you are overgeneralizing in these statements – there are a lot of different therapists doing a lot of different things, and with a lot of different competence levels, but the idea that ALL of them are aiming to help people repress their emotional experience and side with their parents against abused kids is just not true in my experience.

  • I’d be the last person in the world to argue against some increased sanity in the foster care system, as I worked as an advocate for foster kids for 20 years. The Kibbutz/commune idea has a lot of merit, and I’d love to see it worked out.

    However, I do think it is important to remind everyone that today’s parents were yesterday’s kids who were usually abused and/or neglected and/or misunderstood by THEIR parents (and other adults responsible for them). While there are certainly parents who overtly wish their kids ill, and I see no reason to have mercy on such parents, there are a hell of a lot more who are just passing on what was done to them. You are an Alice Miller fan, as am I, so you know what I mean. Of course, this does not excuse the parents from the damage they do – I personally find the “don’t blame the parent” meme offensive and destructive to kids (and adults) who are the victims of inadequate or abusive parenting. It’s not the kids’ fault that the parents had a rough upbringing, and the parents are responsible for not passing that on. But most do so inadvertently or unconsciously, and I therefore see no reason why sane approaches to raising kids should not be a legitimate subject of study, as long as we aren’t providing excuses for parents or other adults to continue harming their children with impunity. It is very possible to talk about improving one’s approach to child rearing without making excuses for the parent or supporting child abuse, neglect or exploitation.

  • The correlation between “schizophrenia” diagnosis and childhood abuse (especially sexual abuse) is orders of magnitude hither than any genetic correlation that the most optimistic study has every come up with. Yet we still spend millions on gene studies and almost nothing on researching childhood abuse effects and how to help people resolve them. At this point, it is clear to me that those leading the field are either utterly blind to the obvious or extremely corrupt, or both.

  • It beggars belief that anyone would be so arrogant as to claim neuroleptics increase lifespan. Just based on weight gain, increase in diabetes, and increase in heart disease, it is obvious that these drugs kill people more quickly than if you left them alone. Add in the increase in smoking cigarettes as a means of dealing with “side effects” and you know the death rate will climb.

  • This article reinforces my observation that what people need to “heal,” if that is the proper word for it (a bit medical for my taste), is for someone to connect with them on a real and personal level. There is no technique, training, school of therapy, medical intervention, or special approach that will create this kind of connection. It requires a person being human and being willing to experience with another person what is happening in their lives.

    When therapy works, it’s because such a connection is formed. Most of the time, it appears to me, such a connection is not formed. And having a degree or a license is no guarantee of better odds that a person will be helpful.

    You are blessed and fortunate to have found such people, and others are no doubt very fortunate to have found you so you can pass it on. I wish there were some way to teach people how this works, but I don’t know that such a thing is really possible. Everyone follows their own path, even therapists. I guess a person who wants such an experience needs to know what they’re looking for and spend a lot of time shopping around.

  • That is such a good point! The shame is what comes from the system labeling someone and exerting power over them. Then the system comes and accuses anyone who wants to tear the veil of secrecy over their own shame and tries to project it onto those who is trying to get the facts on the table. It’s classic projection.

    I also agree that “no-pill shaming” is a lot more common, and yet no one seems the least bit disturbed by “did you take your meds?” humor or the pressure that people come under to give in to the psychiatric worldview and accept their shaming label without complaint.

  • Very true. In the world of mediation/negotiation, it’s long been recognized that “shared decision making” is impossible in the presence of large power disparities. It’s hard to think of a greater disparity than a person who is highly distressed talking to a person with high social standing who has the back pocket option of imprisoning them if they don’t go along with the program.

  • Some parents won’t listen. There are a lot of parents who are working on doing the right thing very, very hard. And the answers aren’t always as simple as to take away the video stimulation. Parents are fed a lot of bad information, and it’s hard to sort out what makes sense, especially when so many of them have been treated less than respectfully by their own parents growing up.

    Parenting is a tough job, but at the same time, parents should not be let off the hook for the damage that they may do, intentionally or inadvertently.

  • OK, I was overgeneralizing a bit. There are moments when it IS the correct thing to say. But mostly not, and I’d have to gather a lot of information before deciding to go that route. A person has to be at the right point to be able to process that kind of a push.

    But you’re right – there is a difference between personal communication that is unintentionally shaming and the use of this concept of “pill shaming” in a shamelessly (sorry!) political manner as has been done. Acknowledging that there are moments when people can’t process the idea that their pills may be dangerous really doesn’t connect with the idea of “pill shaming” as put forth by the leaders of the psychiatric/drugging movement.

  • Not at all. I’m saying that if you really want to bring someone to a different place, you need to meet them where they are and understand why they believe what they do rather than starting off by telling them that they’re making bad decisions and should change their minds. I’m by no means tolerant for a second of the concept of “pill shaming,” as it was invented for the purposes of stifling discussion. I’m merely saying that an approach that recognizes the person being harmed as a victim of the system who needs some gentle guidance, vs. someone who needs to be rescued or fixed by again doing what someone else says they should do. What I want from these encounters is to maximize the odds that the person’s going to be able to hear what I’m saying. Anything that smacks in any way of me judging the other person’s decisions as being “bad” or “wrong” or me “correcting” their views generally leads me no where at all. I learned this by much trial and error, and believe me when I say, I have had plenty of time to discover what works, and telling people they’re wrong doesn’t do the job.

    Again, very different from how I’d approach someone accusing ME of “pill shaming.” No need for gentle measures there generally, though there are those who are brainwashed and don’t really believe it themselves who still engender my compassion, even though I have to call out their judgmental behavior. But if I want to be in a position to call out judgmental behavior, I kind of have to avoid it myself, don’t I? Or I end up being way too similar to those whose behavior I am trying to stop.

    Hope that makes a little more sense this time. It is a kind of subtle point, but as far as dealing with domestic abuse survivors, it’s tried and tested over hundreds and hundreds of people who have found my interventions generally very helpful, once I figured out what NOT to do. I haven’t done half bad with psych survivors, either, based on what feedback I’ve gotten. I’m not talking through my hat – I’m sharing what I’ve found to work best for those I’ve worked with.

  • I think this is a very good observation. It being such a normal reaction, I think we all need to be sensitive enough to expect it and not judge people who have been understandably pulled into a system they don’t understand for displaying this predictable sign of resistance to being “wrong” about their investments.

  • Hi, AP,

    I have to say, I have seen some pretty serious insensitivity from some folks about the impact of their statements on the person in question. It seems to me that, as we care about the welfare of the folks we’re trying to educate, we need to start gently and from where the person is rather than overwhelming them with information and pressure to agree with us.

    A useful analogy may be someone in a relationship we see as domestically abusive. We may be absolutely right about our observations and assumptions, but I can assure you that it’s not very helpful to say to someone, “You’re in an abusive relationship – you need to leave right away!” Now, the person who says this may have no intention of shaming the survivor, but the effect will nonetheless be one of shaming – the survivor will almost always feel inadequate and defensive, and will in fact often go into a reactive defense of the abuser as a means of avoiding the perceived judgment that s/he is too stupid to see the obvious reality that we “outsiders” are kind enough to point out.

    I have found it MUCH more helpful to enter into a discussion with the person, to find out his/her own view of what is going on, what the pros and cons are, what they’ve thought about as possible solutions, or just to hear their story and listen supportively. It has become very, very clear to me over time that people are in different places in their processes and that the last thing they need is someone else telling them what they should do or that they are wrong.

    Of course, we also have to consider the possibility that we are wrong, that the person is not feeling abused or mistreated, and that the situation is not the same to them as it looks to us.

    This is a very, very different approach than I would take toward the PERPETRATORS of such ill treatment. I see no reason not to pull out all the stops in challenging those in the position of power to deal with the actual facts of the situation and to let them know we see and know what they are about. But they are the ones committing the heinous acts, whether intentionally or not. Those who are being victimized deserve a high level of sensitivity to how our approach may come across, including making sure that our efforts don’t have the unintended effect of making them feel LESS empowered and more shamed. We can absolutely create a shaming situation without intending to.

    I would also suggest that this is very different than presenting objective DATA to a person in a difficult situation, while allowing that person to decide what it means and what to do with that information. My big objection is when people start objecting to providing objective information on the grounds that “it might discourage people from taking their meds” or “it might be perceived that you are shaming them.” I think sensitivity is still in order, but there is nothing “shaming” about sharing research data, statistics, personal experiences, cross-cultural studies, or whatever solid factual information is known with anyone who is interested in hearing about it, and even with some who aren’t.

    I guess the big difference for me is whether one believes that the other person has the right to make their own decisions based on their own assessment of the data, or if one believes that anyone who doesn’t agree with one’s own interpretation is de facto wrong or deluded or deceived or victimized. I think it is a minimum level of respect to grant to any person in the low power situation the right to make up their own minds about things without having to worry about how I’m going to react or judge them if they make a different decision than I would want them to make.

  • Sometimes the article titles are from the journal or publication that published them. But I agree with you – I’d like to see articles with titles more like, “Kids enjoy school more when they have lots of exercise” or “Active kids learn better when allowed to be active.” Or even, “Kids who are allowed to be active are less likely to end up with an “ADHD” diagnosis.” We can talk about issues without labeling kids.

  • I do think we’d agree on most points. My issue is the professionals pushing these “diagnoses” when we know they are BS. But they have permeated society, and some people do take offense or get confused when I communicate my disagreement with these concepts. I think it’s an inevitable part of the problem, and I blame the doctors and the profession for promoting ideas they know to be false for the bulk of the confusion.

    The most important part of helping anyone is, as you say, recognizing that everyone has different experiences. Unfortunately, the main thrust of the DSM (in my view) is to invalidate those differences and suggest that we can lump people together based on how they feel or behave rather than taking the time to actually find out what’s going on. I am guessing we’d be of a mind that the job of any helper should be to find out from the person they’re trying to help what works or doesn’t work for them, rather than forcing one’s own view of the situation down their throat (in some cases literally). As to how the average clinician views the situation, it might be interesting to do a survey and find out for sure.

  • I know what you’re talking about, as I trained as a chemist undergrad and have done some programming as well. The most important element of creating a functional model is feedback from the model in action. If the model doesn’t predict reality accurately, you have to start redefining your assumptions. And you’re right, the most basic assumptions affect the outcomes most significantly.

    So what I see here is that the psychiatric industry, for reasons of economics and prestige/power/status, made a decision to regard the brain as the source of all mental/emotional/behavioral distress or wide variance from the norm. We are seeing now a lot of the feedback from that model in application and it is not pretty. However, rather than doing what a good scientist would do, and understand that the original assumptions were erroneous or at a minimum simplistic and go back and start altering those assumptions, they have a financial and power-based investment in maintaining the original assumptions as true regardless of any feedback they might receive from the model’s outcomes.

    In other words, they have abandoned the scientific method and have decided to do what makes them the most money/power instead of what helps their clients.

  • I think you underestimate the importance of and the damage done by the DSM. To start with, there is no reason that we can’t say, “X has difficulty eating enough food” or “Y has a difficult relationship with food” or “Z has a very negative body image that she wants to change.” Not labeling something doesn’t mean denying the circumstances that prompted the labeling process. In fact, we can get a MUCH more accurate description of what is going on by simply asking the client to describe the circumstances they feel they are facing and having them identify their own description of the problem. So there is no need to tell someone “you have an eating disorder” to provide helpful intervention. Now if the person him/herself identifies that “I have an eating disorder,” I would certainly not invalidate that. But that’s very, very different than a professional telling you, “You have an eating disorder” and defining your reality for you. This is especially true when the doctors start telling you that you suffer from a “chemical imbalance” or that your “disorder” is hereditary or due to some kind of brain malfunction that no one has even come close to identifying as true. And if you don’t believe this happens, you need to read up on this site or talk to a lot more people who have engaged with the “MH” system.

    More importantly, the DSM is taken VERY seriously by both professionals and the society at large. Not all, but lots and lots. Saying that a person “has depression” implies that there is something wrong with THAT PERSON for feeling that way, that they have a “medical problem” and that they need “treatment.” A survey in the late 2000s showed that over 80% of Americans believed that “depression” was caused by “low serotonin.” This belief did not just happen – it was the result of a large and coordinated effort to convince Americans that “mental health problems” were, in fact, biological. There is plenty of documented evidence that the thrust of the DSM III, which prompted a huge expansion of biological explanations for “mental illnesses” defined in the book, was to expand psychiatry’s market share. It was, in fact, a quite cynical effort to position psychiatry as a “real branch of medicine” and to promote its practices as “scientific” and “proven effective.” Naturally, the pharmaceutical industry was happy to team up with psychiatry in this effort, and continues to provide most of the funding for the continued propaganda campaign to that end.

    It’s easy to think that those who made the DSM are just trying to understand better and refine their model, but the origins of the DSM series belie that suggestion. It is more than possible to provide good support to people who face mental and emotional suffering without the slightest reference to a “diagnosis.” Again, if an individual wants to view him/herself through that lens, they’re welcome to do so, but the profession has no right to promote the idea that these “diagnoses” represent real, biologically-distinct entities when they know absolutely that they do not and never will.

  • What if the “diagnoses” are known to be manufactured and to not represent any kind of medical problem? Is it not a fraud to pretend one is practicing “medicine” beyond “symptom management” when “treating diagnoses” that are known not to be scientifically definable? What’s to stop someone from inventing “nose-picking disorder” or “excessive skipping disorder” or “unreasonable political protest disorder?” If we can just invent “disorders” out of anything we don’t like or find uncomfortable or confusing, where does it end? Hell, they’re prescribing STIMULANTS for “Binge Eating Disorder” now! As if the person is suffering from excessive appetite and suppressing the desire to eat is “treating” the problem! I’m sorry, but these utterly unscientific “disorders” are not advancing the understanding of people’s mental/emotional distress or well being, but is instead creating further confusion.

  • You are absolutely right, the proof is in the pudding, and so far the psychiatric pudding is falling pretty flat. Making more people disabled, reducing people’s lifespan, reducing hope and increasing stigmatization and discrimination – nothing that could be called a success in any sense.

    Real science makes things simpler and more effective over time. The psychiatric model makes things more complex and more confusing and is ultimately very ineffective.

    I agree that people are programmed to categorize, but categories are only as useful as they create better understanding. And any real scientist knows that categories are always approximations and that incoming data has to be considered to improve the model of reality over time. A model is not reality, but psychiatry seems to think the model is more important than the results. Unless you count financial results for their corporate buddies.

  • I’m not going to try and explain myself again. You seem to have difficulty following what I’m saying for some reason. I never assumed that bad brain chemistry causes anything – to the contrary, I think the whole thing is a bunch of pseudoscientific chicanery invented to sell drugs. Anyone who has ever read anything I wrote knows this about me. All I’m saying is that sometimes having hard scientific data proving such assumptions FALSE is helpful in counteracting pseudoscientific propaganda put out by the proponents of the DSM “model” toward their potential victims. You’re free to disagree with me, but not to put words in my mouth that I not only didn’t say, but which are in direct contradiction to what I’ve clearly expressed myself to believe over and over again on this forum.

  • I think you misunderstand me. The only research I’m talking about it that which debunks any idea that there is some medical issue at play. For instance, I have found it extremely valuable to read decades of reviews of the literature on “ADHD,” not because I believe in that bogus concept, but because those decades of research prove what we all intuitively know to be true: giving kids stimulants doesn’t improve their grades, their academic test scores, their social skills, their high school dropout rates, their rates of delinquency, or even their “self esteem,” however they measure that subjective concept. This is very useful to me when someone tries to explain to a parent how “untreated ADHD” leads to high school dropout and delinquency, and I can say, “What most people don’t seem to know is that 50 years of research have shown that “treating ADHD” with stimulants does not change those outcomes one iota, and in some studies it makes them worse.”

    I’m certainly not in favor of wasting good money on studying these idiotic constructs. But I do value people (like Giovanni Fava or Jonathan Leo or Peter Breggin) who do or assemble research showing that the institution of psychiatry has its collective head in a very dark place. Yes, even if they use “those terms.” Because sometimes people just need to hear that psychiatry is lying to them as a place to start their journey to understanding how deeply harmful the industry really is.

  • I agree absolutely. I’ve said to people that even if they DID prove that people “with ADHD” have a difference in their brains from the average person, it would not mean that there was anything wrong with them. After all, genetic diversity is the key to species survival! Or as one foster youth once wisely said to me, “Maybe different people should be allowed to have different brain chemicals.”

  • That is my general practice, and I think it says what needs to be said. This particular use of quotation marks is meant to indicate that this term is used by others but is considered by the “quoter” to have a different value, and usually indicates a degree of disrespect or scorn for the term. Kind of like saying, “So-called schizophrenia.” I have also used “persons who have been labeled as” when talking about research. This allows us to communicate the intent of the researchers without buying into the terminology. That’s just my personal take on it, but I agree with Oldhead here that the quotation marks are the easiest way to show disagreement while still using the recognized term for those who are new to the idea of critiquing the DSM “diagnoses.” (See, it works!)

  • I don’t think that it’s possible to be truly “trauma informed” as long as you are relying on the DSM-driven standard “mental health” system. The only “trauma informed” thing to do is to erase everything people claim to know about “mental illness” and start over from scratch, and rebuild from the viewpoint that the people who have been traumatized are the ones who actually know what they need.

  • The problem is that there is no profit in it for any big corporations, so there is no motivation to do anything different than what is being done. If Maori methods actually help “cure” people of their ostensible “disorders,” that would be a strong reason for many in the industry to try and bury the idea as deeply as possible so they don’t start losing “customers,” whether voluntary or not.

  • I am impressed at how complex and confusing they have made a very simple correlation. Burnout and depression “overlap” because they are both descriptions of how people feel and act when they are overwhelmed, stuck,hopeless, and/or disconnected or unsupported by their communities. Making it seem like they are somehow different things that “overlap” is just a sleazy way to continue to legitimize their medicalization of “depression.” I found it particularly amusing that they assert that “burnout” is a syndrome that can’t be clearly defined, as if “depression” were somehow different.

    Anyway, you can tell when someone’s explanation doesn’t hold water if it continues to make the situation seem more and more complicated instead of simpler.

  • Thanks for your kind words. It baffles me beyond belief that a person who knows they feel lonely and unloved would be secluded in a room and put in a straight jacket and drugged!!!! How could ANYONE think that would help you feel LESS lonely and unloved? Seems like the best way I could think of to make you feel MORE lonely and unloved?

    I can only surmise that a lot of these people don’t really understand or care how other people feel. The lack of empathy is astounding to me. There is nothing wrong with a person who is feeling lonely and unloved! Maybe what they need is connection and love? Radical thought!

  • The system itself is organized along racist/classist/sexist lines, and unless the field suddenly and miraculously divorces itself from the DSM and all the attendant “diagnoses” and similar medicalized language toward people in distress, it will continue to function as an agent of oppression, despite the scattered patches of sanity that one finds here and there fighting for their own survival. The fact that the psychiatrist could make that incredibly racist statement without an outcry from the entire staff shows how completely accepted it is that psychiatrists get to do whatever they want and the rest of the staff either go along with the bully or get bullied themselves. How anyone could get “saner” in such an environment is a miracle that occurs in spite of rather than because of the system itself.

  • Way to get complex about it, researchers. The explanation is both simple and obvious: ADHD is diagnosed based on the degree to which the child creates problems for the teacher. Younger kids are more likely to create problems for the teacher, and are therefore more likely to get a referral or pressure to get diagnosed and “medicated.” The other explanations (2-4) are clearly just attempts to rationalize continuing to drug kids because they are annoying.

  • The first problem is grouping all people who fit the “PTSD” criteria into one group and trying to find one intervention that helps everyone. Some people may like “exposure therapy,” some hate it. Some people find meditation to be a very difficult experience, I personally found it very helpful. People are all different, and different approaches help different people. Why anyone would try to force a “therapy” on someone who said it didn’t feel right is beyond my comprehension.

  • I recall doing an excellent exercise on distinguishing facts from opinions/projections. A person would be asked to look at a picture and say what they know about the person in the picture. People would say things like, “He’s sad.” The facilitator would say, “Do you KNOW he’s sad? What do you actually see that you know to be true?” “Well, he looks sad.” “Looks sad to you – that’s your opinion, too. What do you SEE?” “Well, his face looks sad.” “What about his face looks sad?” “He’s frowning.” “How do you know he’s frowning?” “Well, his lips are turning down at the edges.” “THAT is a fact. The rest of the things we think we “know” are assumptions or judgments.” It was a sobering exercise. Most of what we “observe” is not really an observation at all, it’s a judgment. I would also submit that any “observation” made would need to be checked back with the person being “observed” for accuracy, but far better for the person to make his/her own observations without any suggestions from the “helper.”

  • Solid advice. I’d add that there are some “patients” who have bought into the system as it is and will be difficult to engage on these points. I’d also add that the system personnel will sometimes ask if you are “antipsychiatry” or “a Scientologist” or “anti-science.” You want to be prepared not to engage with this kind of attack, and I’d suggest responding by asking, “Why are you changing the subject? I thought we were talking about whether or not psychiatry works?” But of course, anyone who attacks you in that way is probably not really worth trying to convince, as they are invested in the status quo and maybe even making money off of it.

  • I actually agree with you, and efforts to be “objective” are often a big barrier to helpers connecting emotionally with the people they are trying to help. Perhaps a better description is for the helper to understand that s/he is NOT objective, and to make strong efforts to double and triple check his/her observations and ideas with the person whom they are supposed to be helping.

  • “Why is my car not running?”

    “There is no way of knowing – there are too many factors involved.”

    “So if you don’t know why it’s not working, why should I pay you to fix it?”

    “Trust me, I have 25 years of experience working on problems that I don’t actually understand.”

    Time to get a new mechanic?

  • It is possible, but it is my firm belief that only a tiny percentage of people who are suffering will have any kind of neurological difficulties at all. Because being scared, or angry, or depressed, or bored, or even having fantasies are all completely normal activities that every human being experiences at one time or another. It makes no sense at all that 20% of the population is “mentally ill” – they are in the vast majority just people having normal reactions to life. The idea that there will be some physiological cure for something like “depression” is a fantasy. It’s just as likely as curing something like “pain.” It isn’t going to happen, because pain is a part of life, and so is depression and anxiety and all of it.

  • Actually, beyond direct force there is a lot of manipulation using parental fears. For instance, they tell parents that “untreated ‘ADHD’ leads to delinquency and school dropouts and etc etc.” Of course, they don’t bother to tell them that the “treatment” doesn’t do anything to improve any of those outcomes, nor that most “ADHD” diagnosed kids turn out just fine as adults. So parents are afraid if they don’t “medicate” their child, the child will suffer these awful outcomes that the “treatment” doesn’t even touch. It’s pretty evil!

  • Though it is true that many capitalists claim to be “libertarians” in order to justify their opposition to anything that might help the working stiff have a chance at a better quality of life. The Koch brothers are a great example – they claim to be libertarians who are in favor of minimizing regulations and supporting the “free market,” but when rooftop solar started to out-compete other energy providers in sunny places like Oklahoma, they were first in line to propose a tax on rooftop solar. So much for the free market, guys…

  • He clearly states that the use of the term “illness” to refer to a state of mental or emotional suffering is not a proper use of the term. He (and I) believed that some illnesses could have impacts on thoughts and emotions, such as low thyroid or anemia or a head injury. But those are identified as real illnesses and treated by real branches of medicine. He always was clear that if there is no known physical cause, it’s not an illness. I wanted to make sure you knew I wasn’t denying that things like loss of sleep or the side effects of certain drugs or poor nutrition can cause mental/emotional problems. But to call something like “depression” an “illness” doesn’t make sense to me (or to Szaz), because it assumes that everyone who is feeling depressed has something wrong with them. Indeed, it assumes that all people who are depressed have the same problem. This is about as silly as saying that all people who feel pain have “pain disorder” without bothering to see what is actually causing the pain. Actually, it’s even more silly, because feeling depressed is a normal part of living, it’s not even an indicator of something physically wrong, as pain most often is.

    So to be clear: “Major Depression” is not caused by a physical problem. It is an invented category that does not correlate to any physical abnormality. It is just a label for a phenomenon that could have many different causes. Low thyroid IS a physical problem that can cause a particular person to feel depressed. In this case, “depression” is just an indicator of the problem, no different than weight loss/gain or tingling in the hands and feet. So “depression” is never the “illness.” It is just an emotional experience people have, which in rare cases can be caused by a physiological problem of some sort, but which in most cases is simply a normal emotional response to a difficult environment where one has difficulty figuring out what to do.

    I hope that makes things clearer. But Oldhead is right – Szaz did not believe that “depression” was or could be a “disease” or “mental illness.” He wasn’t opposed to treating actual illnesses that might cause a person to feel depressed, but he was very much against any kind of idea that “depression” as a whole was or could ever be the result of a biological problem.

  • That is exactly what I mean. He is pretty clear about saying that if something is discovered to have a real physiological cause, it is moved into one of the actual medical categories, like neurology or nutrition or internal medicine. Psychiatric “illness” is only reserved for those manifestations that DON’T have an actual known physiological cause, which he properly identifies as a metaphorical use of the term “illness,” since there is no reason to believe there is anything physiologically wrong with the person in question. I’d say his take is, “If you know it’s an actual physical ailment, show me the test and treat it as such. If you can’t show it to be physiological, stop calling it an ‘illness,’ because it isn’t.” I’m no Szaz expert, but that’s what I most recall of his writings.

  • Not at all, and neither does Szaz. The important point is that you can’t DIAGNOSE A DISEASE STATE by looking at HOW SOMEONE ACTS OR FEELS. There is no question that certain physiological conditions can cause mental/emotional symptoms or adverse effects. The problem is claiming that a person has such a condition BECAUSE they have certain mental/emotional effects. For instance, it’s legitimate to say that a person might be depressed because he’s had insufficient sleep, but it’s not legitimate to say that you know he has insufficient sleep because he’s depressed. He MIGHT be depressed due to lack of sleep or due to having a dead end job or because he was abused as a child or because he is lonely and has no connections or because his wife just left him or he lost his job or etc., etc, etc.

    An analogy might be diagnosing a person with “knee pain disorder.” It is meaningless to say that a person has “knee pain disorder” because their knee hurts. You’d have to know WHY the knee was hurting. Maybe it’s arthritis, maybe it’s a muscle cramp, maybe it’s a bruise, maybe it’s nerve damage, who knows? You’d have to analyze it further to find out what was the cause before you made a diagnosis.

    Same with “depression.” Saying “he has depression” tells you nothing at all, except that he’s feeling depressed at that particular time. It may be physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, political, or any mix of the above. So calling “depression” a “disorder” is not only meaningless, it is destructive, because it gives people the idea that the psychiatrists have some understanding that they actually don’t have.

  • You should read his books. Essentially, he says that the idea of “mental illnesses” is only metaphorical – they are not really “illnesses” but “difficulties in living” that have been labeled as such for the purposes of those in positions of power in society. That’s all I’ll say for now – you should read some of his writings. I think they would be very helpful for you to understand why some people say “mental illnesses don’t exist” – very different meaning than “people don’t suffer mentally/emotionally.”

  • They say a lot, but it’s mostly speculation and nonsense. The one thing we do know is that brain chemistry is constantly changing as we encounter different stresses and needs. So to suggest someone’s brain is “chemically imbalanced” means practically nothing. We also now know that the actual physical structure of the brain is changed by experience. So it seems to me we waste a lot of time studying genetics, which can’t be changed, instead of studying which EXPERIENCES help people feel more strong and capable.

  • All of those elements are involved in creating or alleviating distress, for sure. For instance, loss of sleep definitely increases my feelings of hopelessness or anxiety and reduces my ability to communicate effectively. So sleeping could be said to be a “treatment” for my negative feelings, but really, all they are “symptoms” of is a lack of sleep.

    So by all means, we should be addressing deficiencies in our social environment, eating better food, working on our own attitudes, working to improve the economic situation, etc. The problem is that my reacting badly to, say, a very oppressive school environment as a child (I was deeply depressed, did act out one time, had a psychological evaluation, etc.) meant that I had a “disorder” or “disease” or “condition” – it meant that the school’s rules, expectations, and processes and the complete lack of recourse that I or any of the other students had to address any kind of injustice or arbitrariness provided a horrible environment for me to grow in. The real answer wasn’t to ‘treat’ me, but to get me the heck out of there or to change the environment so I didn’t feel so hopeless about having to go there and be bored and lonely and angry and frustrated 5 days a week, 6 hours a day.

    Do I have a tendency more than other people to be anxious or depressed? Yes, I do. Could some of this tendency be built into my personality? Sure, it could. But so is empathy, compassion, willingness to fight for justice, humor, and lots of other things that go along with being “sensitive.” I don’t think I needed to be “assessed” or “evaluated” or “treated,” I needed to be loved and listened to and provided more opportunities to take more control of my own life.

    So I’m all for looking at all the factors that contribute to someone’s distress. I’m just opposed to the idea that being distressed in a particular way that is inconvenient for those in charge means that I have a “disorder.” I think it means I’m human, and we humans are all different and unique in our needs and goals and values and deserve to be treated that way. We don’t deserve to be slotted into categories of “wrongness” for the convenience of those who want to pretend that life is a garden of delights and that anyone who is not loving every minute of it needs to be “fixed.”

  • Given what the “mental health” world has done with ‘mindfulness’ by abstracting it from the Buddhist philosophy that underpins it and in some cases making it a requirement in someone’s “treatment plan,” I am very skeptical that Western Psychiatry will do anything but distort and ruin any helpful practice the Maori may have developed. Maybe we should skip reforming psychiatry and instead pay the Maori what we used to pay the psychiatrists rather than expropriating their spiritual practices and turning them into yet another bastardized western product for sale?

  • I don’t think anyone should invalidate your own perception of what works for you. Certainly, lots of people report finding psych drugs helpful. But that does not make psych diagnoses legitimate. They are not discovered, but literally voted on by committee. Read “So They Say You’re Crazy” by Paula Caplan, who served on the DSM IV task force.

    And yes, they do invent “disorders”. Look at the cases if Juvenile Bipolar or Social Anxiety Disorder or Binge Eating Disorder. Not that such things are not issues for some people, but there is solid documentation that pharmaceutical companies conspired with leading psychiatrists to create these “disorders” in the DSM to sell pharmaceuticals and psychiatric “services.” I know it’s hard to believe, but it is true.

  • But it is important to acknowledge that people DO suffer in various ways, and often need help dealing with their emotions and their experiences. This doesn’t make them ill, but I think it is important to distinguish that these “diagnoses” are crap, in that they are social inventions, but that suffering is real and that we need to get together as a community and look for solutions that actually help but don’t blame the sufferer for suffering too much or in the “wrong” manner.

  • I do see what you’re saying. I think it involves a confusion about language. When people say, “There is no such thing as ‘Bipolar Disorder,'” I think they mostly mean that “Bipolar Disorder” is an invention that doesn’t have a scientific basis as a medical diagnosis. I don’t think people mostly believe that those behaviors defined as “bipolar disorder” don’t occur, or that they don’t cause distress, or that help is not sometimes required. I think the objection is that someone with medical authority is DEFINING these behaviors as a “medical disorder” without cause. But it is often intepreted by readers as meaning that people don’t have these feelings or behaviors, which leads to lots of confusion and, as you say, distraction from the key points. At the same time, I really do understand why people who have survived the system often are very strongly against using these terms, which is why I put them in quotation marks whenever I use them. These generalizations have been used to harm people, often intentionally, and if that had happened to me, and I later found out the “disorder” I was assigned was voted into existence by a committee, I’d never want to see that word in print again!

  • I mean the goal of being “normal” as defined by the social norms promoted by our cultural system of values. It is the slavish adherence to this artificial “normalcy” and its conflict with people’s actual reality that is behind many cases of “mental illness.” This is very different from accomplishing what the client personally wants to create as their own “normal” mode of operation. What I find abhorrent is when therapists/counselors/psychiatrists define “normal” for the client and feel their job is to make them “fit in” better to society, rather than finding their own definition of “normal” that allows them to be comfortable in their own skins.

    As for pissing of psychiatrists, it depends if the psychiatrist is in a position to influence your reputation or your employment potential. There are definitely situations where one’s survival as a therapist in a particular institution depends on not being too vocal about critiques of the DSM or “medication” use. I respect anyone who can operate “behind the lines” without being beaten down or giving up. You appear to have established a certain level of respect and independence that has allowed you to be a maverick with limited consequences, but that takes time and skill to develop, and for some, it appears to be beyond their capacity. Working in a psychiatric institution or one controlled by psychiatric thinking can be extremely oppressive toward the workers as well. It takes a lot of courage not to pass on that oppression to the clients.

  • I never really thought about it, but you’re right, the concept of “baseline” is totally bogus. It assumes a person is a fixed entity that is only temporarily impacted by life circumstances. This is rot, of course. People are always developing, and the whole idea of “therapy” ought to be to help someone move onward to their next step in life, rather than returning to some “baseline” equilibrium defined by another person.

  • I think there is a big difference between a person preferring a particular framing of their situation and a doctor claiming that everyone having a particular behavioral manifestation is suffering from “X disorder.” We are all entitled to view our circumstances in a way that makes sense, but doctors are claiming to have some superior knowledge of the situation. Making unsubstantiated claims of understanding situations that are scientifically inconsistent or mysterious or invalid is something no professional should be allowed to do. I see it as extremely damaging to our society as a whole to allow these false claims to be viewed as some kind of scientific truth. At the same time, I have no problem with anyone choosing to view their own problem as a “mental disorder.” I just don’t support doctors making this kind of assertion unless there is actually evidence it is true. Medical diagnoses should not be something people choose because they prefer them. They should be objectively measurable conditions that can be reliably identified and treated. OCD certainly does not meet those criteria, nor does essentially any other “mental disorder” in the DSM.

  • Hi, PD,

    I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion regarding therapists not being allowed to practice if they don’t follow the priorities you mention above. I have tons of experience with therapists, both as a part of the MH system and as an advocate for foster youth for 20 years. I can assure you that therapists are all over the place in terms of practice, and any generalization you’d like to make is not going to be accurate. Some are unwilling to give any direction at all to the client, no matter how bogged down they get, others think they know everything and constantly tell the client what to do. Some believe that everyone’s issues come from poor parenting, others believe that nothing in the past has any impact on the present. Some have people go over past traumatic events in detail, others avoid them like the plague. Some believe religiously in the DSM, others consider it ridiculously simplistic and only use it for billing purposes. Some seek to be empowering, others seek to define and solve the client’s problems for them. Some feel that sharing personal details of their lives is essential to a successful relationship, others consider any sharing a violation of “professional boundaries.” The only generalization that can be made about therapists is that there is no consistency regarding expectations or results.

    I do get that the CONCEPT behind therapy suggests that fixing the person to make them more “normal” is the goal, and I of course find such a goal abhorrent. But therapy for the most part can be whatever the therapist and client make it, and some people report very positive experiences with therapists that have helped them change their lives for the better. (Though I have to admit that such reports seem to have become rarer over the decades.)

    Bottom line, I think comments about the therapy industry as a whole can be reliably made, but generalizations about what would happen to a particular therapist if they didn’t toe some imaginary party line do not line up with what I’ve seen. Therapists can generally do whatever the heck they want, as long as they can bill the insurance company for their work, and as long as they don’t piss off any psychiatrists they have to answer to by threatening their label-and-drug gravy train.

  • Once again, I think we see how the labeling process actually does as much or more harm than the drugs themselves. What if we just said, “Here are some strategies for those who want to figure out a way to reduce unwanted compulsions” or something like that. Why not just describe the problem in terms that are meaningful for the client, and work toward the client’s goals? Why do we have to ascribe some critical label to the behavior, rather than just identifying that it’s something the client wants to change?

    It is unfortunate that some good tips and ideas can be obscured by these medicalizing terms. I hope we as a community can work to tell the difference between our cultural training to use medicalized terms and the actual potential of the interventions being discussed. Some people with good ideas haven’t yet figured out the problematic nature of these terms just yet.

  • Not sure I agree with you, Ron. I think of survivors of domestic abuse – they are or should be proud that they have survived such horrific abuse and continue to lead semi-functional lives in the wake of it, even if they fully know and understand that they have to continue to work on overcoming the damage done to them. It’s possible to be proud that you came up with ways to get through something difficult while still recognizing that one’s life can be improved yet further by continuing efforts.

  • They will always tell parents that “untreated ADHD” is associated with higher rates of delinquency, school dropout, drug use, lower test scores, lower college enrollment rates, lower self-esteem and so forth. What they DON’T ever tell them is that “treatment” in the form of stimulant drugs has never been shown to improve ANY of these outcomes! It’s a real flim-flam job, though I sometimes think the teachers themselves have mostly been flim-flammed and don’t even really realize what they are saying. It’s like a robot or computerized message, they just all say it because they’re programmed to do so.

  • Posting as moderator: I would also add to Emmeline’s comments that choosing to publish a summary and link to a research article in no way implies that MIA approves of the research or supports the conclusions. It is simply a summary of research that some readers might find helpful. If you don’t, it’s fine to ignore it. I personally find MIA to be the best place to gather ammunition if I’m trying to influence a professional person to take another look at their belief system. Some people make up their minds based on research, and this kind of information is sometimes essential to counteract their narrative.

  • And I think the challenge for me is that the degree confers some kind of confidence in people that this person knows what they are doing. If therapists are to be licensed, there ought to be a much more practical way to do so that is based primarily on the person’s actual impact on the client(s) s/he serves, rather than how many years of education s/he may have consumed.

  • It is my understanding that lot of the “paraprofessionals” used by Mosher at Soteria House were people who had used hallucinogens and had experience as “trip guides.” There are many ways to learn the necessary skills to be a good helping person. And it should be very, very clear that obtaining a Masters Degree or Ph.D. is no guarantee that a person will learn these skills. It is unfortunate that the conferring of an advanced degree is assumed to indicate a minimal level of interpersonal competence when there is really no way to assure such competence by any educational approach now known.

  • I think “trauma” can only realistically be defined by the person reporting the experience. Trying to set some kind of standard only gets us confused. Some people are sexually molested by a family member, yet are believed when they tell their parent or loved one and are protected, and some of those people reportedly have relatively little long-term impact from the experience, while others find it horribly traumatizing. Some folks are yelled at by a parent or teacher or left on their own very young and feel frightened enough that it ends up being a lifelong issue for them. I think you get to decide how traumatic an incident that you experience is for you. Anything else is just authoritarian invalidation of your experience.

  • There are all kinds of fundamentalism, which is why I say that the real enemy is not the Right or the Left, but AUTHORITARIANISM in any form. A certain amount of agreed authority is needed to accomplish many tasks, but the assumption that there are authorities who are “right” and that those who want to be successful have to merely follow the instructions of the wiser “guide” or “leader” without having to think too hard is what screws us over. This happens with a lot people who are hard-line conservatives and a lot of people who are hard-line liberals/progressives/whatever and it happens to lots of folks who don’t identify with either end of the spectrum. It’s not a left-right issue, it’s an issue of whether people want to actually solve real problems or feel safe being in the middle of an ideological herd and not have to tax their intellect or their emotions too much.

  • A little confused by this, because I didn’t suggest that Marxism was a solution. I’m asking what it is? I agree that good must defeat evil, but what is the mechanism by which that happens on a societal scale? I don’t think there are any simple answers, but I think humans tend to be easily mesmerized by attempts to present simple answers, whether it be total government control over everything or elimination of all regulations and letting the “free market” save us all, or following some spiritual leader who seems to “have the answers.” Saying “socialism is bad” is no more sensible than saying “socialism is good.” There are clearly elements of socialism that are embedded in any Western democracy, and there are free markets operating in the most totalitarian economies. It’s not a black and white thing to me – it seems we need a balance between freedom to exercise our own ideas and objectives and the need to act together as a society to make sure that people’s rights are not violated.

    Or to put it in terms of an old joke: What’s the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, man exploits man, while in Communism, it’s the other way around.

    We can do better, but I think we have to have a practical way for “good to fight evil.” I don’t think it’s simple, and it most definitely doesn’t involve trusting all or most corporations to be on the side of “good.” Especially Big Pharma!

  • I do feel compelled to add to your narrative that the current “drug first and ask questions later” approach to “mental health” is driven to a very large extent by pharmaceutical companies in the interests of maximizing profits at the expense of the “patients.” This is not Marxism in action, but the profit motive. Of course, we can go off into explaining how “big government” makes this all possible, but government corruption is also a function of too few people having too much money and using it to influence politicians to do their bidding. So as much as an actual “free market” arguably has shown some large-scale benefits, at least for a proportion of people participating, the redistribution of money to those who already have money and power is something that has to be addressed in my view. How do you see this happening? How do we reduce the vast influence of big pharmaceutical money that is driving this “epidemic” of invented “disorders?”

  • I would add that there is plenty of evidence that maternal SSRI usage is associated with increased autism rates, and that the increase in autism diagnoses corresponded to big increases in SSRI use by adults.

    Of course, there is also the loosening of “criteria” for autism and the constant seeping in of the idea that “diagnosing” kids is more effective than understanding them.

  • Posting as moderators:

    Sorry, it seems to have been moved off. Essentially, all comments are going to be read first before they are posted. This will eliminate spam as well as rude or disrespectful comments in advance, rather than have them posted all day before I can get to reading them. It will slow down the rate of posts, but we have extra people looking over and approving comments at different times of the day, so it shouldn’t be too much different than it is now. But if it really affects your experience, Bob Whitaker is available to answer questions and take feedback.

  • In other words, people who are abused as kid are more likely to abuse their kids than those who aren’t. The old cycle of abuse idea. Hardly groundbreaking research here. The disturbing part is that everyone in the field doesn’t already know that childhood abuse is behind much of what is called “mental illness.” Treat kids better and “mental illness” will be reduced. But oh, that’s “blaming the parents,” isn’t it? Safer to blame the kids’ brains.

  • I actually think there is another factor – I think people often become worried that THEY are the “crazy ones” and are happy to find someone else to be labeled “crazy” so they can feel more “normal.” I think most people suffer confusion, anxiety, depression about our current society and the fragmented and often conflicting and competitive roles they have to play to survive, from grades in school right up through competition for jobs and wages. They seek some sort of order that they can hang onto, including looking for someone “below” them in the social order so they can feel like, “At least I’m not as messed up as THOSE people!” Psychiatry is happy to take on that role so that this kind of “othering” has the backing of the “authorities.”

  • I think it is an excellent and important question. It is the kind of question that gets people tied up in knots when someone suggests eliminating psychiatry altogether. While they don’t understand that psychiatric practice appears to actually increase the suicide rate, people will want to know where they can go for help if there is no doctor/psychiatrist/hospital to go to. I’m not sure I have a great answer yet.

  • I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that grouping people together based on their emotional state is not going to lead to any positive conclusion. Most emotional states are the result of our interaction with the environment. Anxiety is mostly caused by experiencing scary things, depression by hopeless experiences. Now anxiety can also be created by deprivation of oxygen or by taking a lot of stimulants, which are physiological causes, but the idea that there is ONE physiological cause of anxiety is just plain wrong. So what I’m objecting to is not the idea that biology can cause anxiety in some cases, but the idea that anxiety is all caused by the same thing every time, or that anxiety is even always a “disorder.” Anxiety is our body’s way of telling us that something scary is happening and we need to take action to remedy it. What it is that is scary can be very different, depending on the person and the situation. It is not a “mental illness” to be anxious. It may be an indicator of some other illness, but anxiety itself is not an illness. It’s a natural state of the body under stress.

  • I concur. Guilt, like all of our emotions, has a survival role to play in our lives. Psychiatry’s first mistake is identifying emotions as being “good” or “bad,” and trying to eliminate the bad ones. Emotions aren’t good or bad, they send us messages about how we are surviving and what we can do to survive better. Learning to listen to our emotions is a part of being a rational human being.

  • I have not found that to be true in all cases. I’ve certainly seen many who do, and you may not have encountered any who don’t, but psychotherapists are human beings, too, and since they don’t really have any specific guidelines, my experience is that everyone pretty much does what they think works. Whether they support political activism for their clients is a function of their personal beliefs and goals. If they are a “top-down” therapist who believes that they know best, they can be extremely invalidative. But there are therapists (admittedly in the minority in my experience) who truly do believe in empowerment of the client to be more capable of living his/her life the way s/he wants to, including taking action against oppressive agents if need be. And there are a whole lot who are in the middle, trying to be helpful at they can but not really having a good idea of what they are trying to accomplish.

    As I said before, generalizations about “therapists” lead to mistaken ideas. Not all therapists are alike or believe in the same things.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    A reminder that I am not sitting at my desk with a little red light that goes off when someone posts a comment that requires my attention. Making critical comments regarding moderation decisions is not appropriate in the comments section, as it leads to escalation and further difficulties, and it is for that reason a violation of the guidelines to do so.

    If you have concerns about a comment, please contact me at [email protected]. I may be up to a full day before I’m able to deal with the issue, because I only work 5-10 hours a week and have other things to do besides moderating at MIA.

    In the meanwhile, please don’t make things worse by attacking the commenter yourself or by criticizing the moderation process when I may not have even read the comment for moderation at the point you see it. I left some pointers on how to respond appropriately to inappropriate comments in my original blog:

    I appreciate your understanding and patience with this process.

  • Making gross generalizations about therapists leads to errors in judgment. There is a huge range of therapists/counselors out there with different orientations and priorities. I was fortunate to have one who was very empowering and focused on me getting better at accomplishing my own goals. She was very much “trauma informed” and the results were quite significant for me. Of course, this was back in 1981 before the DSM III and the ‘chemical imbalance’ model had totally taken over, but there are still folks out there doing good work, though I most definitely consider them to be very much in the minority these days. I’ve certainly spoken to folks who became more radicalized through therapy, not because the therapist wanted to “radicalize” them, but because as they woke up to what led to their so-called “mental illness,” they realized that radicalization was the path they needed to take. I’m one such.

    In fairness, I know a lot more stories about therapists who were either ineffective or were invalidative and destructive, and more and more these days believe wholeheartedly in the DSM and in drugs for “mental illnesses.” So I’d be super careful looking for a therapist, actually, I probably would not consider it for myself these days because I know more than most of them. But there are still some competent people out there.

  • That’s the basic lie, I agree. Calling it “mental illness” means it is the client/patient’s problem instead of a natural outgrowth of living in a social system that is designed to allow a small number of people to thrive at the expense of the masses. “Diagnosing” people clearly and intentionally puts the problem on the individual and exonerates social institutions from any responsibility.

  • I found this very moving. It seems to me that you have learned that humility is the beginning of understanding and being of help to another human being in distress. Sadly, humility is sorely lacking in most of our ‘mental health’ services and professionals. The entire enterprise is based on hubris and prejudice. I wish your attitude would spread among those who errantly believe they are helping. Being willing to hear that kind of feedback is painful but really the only path to gradually unraveling the truth.

  • It’s pretty freakin’ bizarre. I am sure if you thought I said otherwise, you misinterpreted. I have always wondered how ANYONE could look at this idea, “Gosh, I’m feeling depressed, maybe passing an electric current through my brain and inducing a seizure might help,” has got to be pretty darned confused, and anyone who would do it to someone else is either completely lacking in judgment and empathy or else enjoys making others suffer. I am totally against drugging people for “mental illnesses,” but “ECT” seems even worse.

  • I agree 100% that it is an attempt to “get ahead of the story” and control the narrative. I believe it only is happening because the true information about the ineffectiveness and dangers of psychiatric drugs are coming to the surface. They have to deflect attention somewhere, so they are choosing to focus on “withdrawl effects” in order to keep their “diagnostic” and “treatment” systems as intact as possible. So as distorted as the story itself may be, it is a sign that the recent increase in pressure to get the truth out is having an impact. “Cracks in the armor” make space for a well-placed sword strike to do some real damage!

  • Just to be clear, “Biological psychiatry” was alive and well long before the DSM III. Insulin coma therapy, lobotomies, “hydrotherapy,” and all sorts of weird practices went back decades or even centuries before 1980. I would say, though, that 1980 and following was a shift toward a more systematic marketing and disinformation campaign to intentionally and vastly expand the scope of psychiatry’s influence, especially into the “markets” of children, the elderly, and those formerly considered “neurotic.” There was also a coordinated campaign to minimize the impact of social conditions and trauma that served the purpose of improving psychiatry’s “brand.”

  • I believe the reference to “materialism” refers to the idea that the human is just a body, and that nothing can exist outside the physical plane. Whether that philosophy bred psychiatry, it has certainly been seized upon by psychiatry as a means of “proving” their point that “mental illnesses” are in the brain – “because if they aren’t, where could they be?” You and I have both made the point repeatedly that the assumption that mind = brain is at the crux of psychiatry’s “brain disorder” concepts. I think that is the aspect of materialism being referred to here.

  • “Biological psychiatry” goes back way before Thorazine. But I certainly don’t hear Bob calling for a return to the “good old days.” I see him identifying the DSM III as a big shift toward “diagnosing” teens and children, which was a lot less common before that time. They were identified as a new “market.”

    But you make a good point that the attack on the patients’ liberation movement appears to have been coordinated with the release of the DSM III. It stands to reason that if psychiatry was interested in altering their “image” to appear “more scientific,” silencing those who would tarnish that image would have to be part of the plan.

  • I will say, though, that there appears to be a move to acknowledge withdrawal symptoms from “antidepressants” in many media stories all of a sudden. Someone else said this, but I think it is a “damage control” approach, where things are so bad they have to admit something, but want to direct the “flow” to a place where it will minimally interfere with their financial concerns. So it IS a victory of sorts that the narrative has changed, if only in this one respect, and I don’t think it would have happened without MIA and other efforts to make the truth known to the public. Keep the heat on!

  • I actually think Laura’s story is very common. Many people become ensnared in the system because they trust that the “professionals” know what they are doing. Once they are in, many are scared into compliance by stories of what will happen if they go off the drugs, and if they do try, no one is there to explain about or help with the withdrawal symptoms. So they start falling apart when they go off the drugs, and it seems that the psychiatrists were right so they stay on for years or decades. It’s not a rare story.

  • The obvious point that is overlooked here is that the psychiatric profession “diagnosed” these people “treatment resistant depression,” when in fact there was nothing wrong with them that some artificial hope and time passing could not change. How is it possible that these people were deemed “treatment resistant” when they were completely capable of “self-healing,” if there was even anything to heal in the first place? Rather than “regression to the mean,” is it not in fact likely that the withdrawal of psychiatric diagnosis and “treatment” and the hopelessness that it conveys was the biggest variable in these miraculous recoveries from a supposedly hopeless condition?

  • It seems so odd that those in the field are comfortable with the idea that we can choose the theoretical framework we like or don’t like. Can we decide we don’t like the “theoretical framework” for cancer? If some people don’t like the idea that it’s an overgrowth of cells, and prefer to think of it more as a focus of negative energy, and others see it more as a new evolutionary pathway, do they get to pick?

    Real diagnoses refer to real, observable, measurable physical phenomena. No one has to vote on whether a broken leg is broken, or how you fix it. The very fact that we’re having this kind of discussion is proof enough that the “professionals” don’t have any idea what is going on. STOP DIAGNOSING, at least until you actually figure out what small percentage of the “mentally ill” actually have an observable physical problem you can see, measure, and effectively address!

  • I’m glad you mentioned oppression. The big shortcoming of this article is that it makes it seem like there are two equal ideas competing to see which one comes out on top. This is not what is going on. One idea is being FORCED on people, both practitioners AND clients within the system, and the other is being actively suppressed, not because the dominant one is “better,” but because it is more financially rewarding for certain people and because it helps those in power relieve themselves from any responsibility for the damage they cause. I eventually concluded that I had to get out of the profession completely, because change from within seemed impossible and because I felt I was colluding just by participating in such an oppressive system, even if I could help a small number of people along the way to escape or minimize their experience of oppression within the system.

  • I am not at all being facetious. You write very well and articulately, and have important things to say. I say this as a writer myself. Sometimes writing the book is in itself a very empowering exercise, regardless of who reads it. Mine has not sold a lot of copies, but I figure if even one person is helped by what I have written, it makes the entire process worth my time and energy.

  • I am not sure the “middle ground” you’re talking about is what was meant in the article. Your sounds more like a Hegelian “synthesis,” or like the Buddhist concept of the “middle way,” selecting neither of the two opposites. I think what the article is talking about is something more along the lines of, “Well, ECT does do some brain damage to some people, but let’s not forget that other people say they really like it!” Or, “Let’s not be too extreme in how we talk about psychiatric drugs, because some people who take them might have their feelings hurt.” It’s a call for not speaking the whole truth because it’s uncomfortable. Very different than collaborating to find a solution that works for a wider range of people involved in a conflict.

  • I totally get this. A ton of foster youth I worked with were diagnosed with “bipolar” or “emerging schizophrenia” based 90% on the fact that a parent had such a “diagnosis.” Despite the fact that not one of the “diagnoses” has ever been connected to any genetic anomaly, it’s assumed that “he got it from his mom.”

    The expectation of “medication compliance” from “therapists” is also not surprising to me. Sometimes it seemed they spent more time on that than on actually trying to help the kid sort out how to deal with all the bizarre dynamics of being in an abusive family and then being in foster care. I mean, if you can’t get why a foster kid might be feeling depressed or anxious or angry, what the heck are you doing trying to provide “therapy” to them?

  • It has always bugged me when someone says, “Oh, they JUST need attention!” As if needing attention is some trivial thing, or that the child is being somehow selfish by needing it. Attention is survival for young kids, they will literally DIE without attention. And the need for social connection is vital to all humans. The minimization of kids’ need for attention is a sign of people who really don’t like or understand children at all. Which says a little something about the psychiatric profession.

  • Posting as moderator:

    There is certainly a VERY large difference between arbitrary and ambiguous. Arbitrary would suggest a complete lack of any kind of standard except a person’s whim, whereas ambiguous would suggest that the standard is not black and white, which is certainly the case in any moderating scenario.

    It would certainly be possible to censor people based on the content or position their comment takes, but I think a look at the wide variety of comments and views that are allowed to stand that at least in general nothing of a censorship nature is occurring. Of course, when there are subjective standards, individual bias comes into play, and if there is any preferential treatment of which I am unaware, it would be coming from this kind of place rather than an intent to suppress or promote different views. That said, I can say with absolute certainty that I leave most posts up, including ones with which I personally disagree or some of which are critical of MIA or Robert Whitaker or a particular article or author, and the only intent I have is to make sure that people are “playing nice.” There ARE standards, and they are published standards, and decisions regarding moderation must be held to those standards. That’s what moderation is about. It is not based on any intent to sponsor or suppress any particular viewpoint as long as it is expressed within those rules, which everyone can read and which everyone implicitly agrees to by choosing to post.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    We do not moderate for content here. People are free to express whatever views they want to express. The editorial staff also selects a wide range of articles, many of which are not written for MIA but are gleaned from various places on the web. The only moderation that occurs is for potentially offensive or hostile language that would make the comments section an unsafe place for people to express their views. You are, of course, welcome to respectfully express your opinion on the value or lack of value of such questionnaires or articles regarding them.

  • I think you are perhaps not taking into account the impact of the lies and mythology spread so widely by mass marketing. I personally think it should be illegal for ads to claim things that aren’t true (actually, I think Pharmaceutical ads should be banned, as they are in every other industrialized nation except New Zealand), and I think it should be illegal for doctors to lie to their patients about what is supposedly known about “mental illnesses.” I also think it should be illegal to invent “diseases” by committees.

  • I had a similar thought. I believe he’s talking about the caretakers in people’s lives starting from a place of love. I say this based on past reading of his works. He’s very big about the adults being responsible for creating a safe and loving environment for their children, and doesn’t think kids should have to worry about taking care of the adults in their lives. By extension, it would make sense that he means that the “mental health professionals,” if that term applies, would have to be loving toward those in their care. I doubt very much that he means that if you meet your psychiatrist with love, that s/he will somehow magically become a good and loving person. We don’t live in fairy tales!

  • I don’t have a lot of time to make comments, John. I am mostly moderating others’ comments for appropriateness, so I don’t have a lot of time to make lengthy remarks. Additionally, you have summed things up so well in most cases that there isn’t much to say besides, “I agree, and I’m glad you said that!” You’re talking about a lot of things that occurred just as I was coming to adulthood. I grew up in the 60s and early 70s and related to the student protest movements big time. The election of Reagan was such a grave disappointment to me, yet the media and a lot of Americans somehow continued to portray him as some kind of hero or amazing leader when he was mostly a figurehead B-movie actor acting out his greatest role. The same scum that were really behind him were behind Bush, Bush II, and continue to have influence on Trump, though Trump is pretty hard to control. These are not nice people, and you are absolutely right that they were terrified by the youth movements and did all they could to shut them down. Limiting employment and creating economic anxiety were not accidents that happened, but in my view were part of the plan to get us so worried about our daily survival that we (especially the young) had no time or energy left for organizing. It’s been very effective, unfortunately.

  • There are most definitely “secondary gains” for people who’d rather pretend that emotional distress doesn’t exist or is pathological. Makes it easier for folks to discriminate and dismiss anyone whose behavior they don’t approve of.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    John, I understand your feelings, and a lot of people feel that way. I’m going to post this not only for you, but for anyone who is feeling that way. It is an act of power for me or another moderator to choose to remove what someone has posted, and that can easily feel like bullying to anyone. I try to be very, very sensitive to this fact when I make moderation decisions.

    I guess the question is what is meant by “censorship.” If I or anyone is removing comments because their content is considered unacceptable by the management, that would be censorship.


    “the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.”

    What happens here is that we have certain standards of behavior that are expected and are implicitly agreed to by anyone who posts. These standards are posted and available for anyone to read. When we remove comments, it is intended ONLY to reflect concerns about whether or not it violates the guidelines that are written on the site. I always try to work with anyone whose comments are moderated and give them an opportunity to re-post an edited version that doesn’t violate the guidelines. And I have in a few cases been talked into leaving the post unchanged once I understood the intent.

    So no, we don’t do censorship here, though I understand why it might feel that way. Anyone is free to post any idea or thought or story they have, as long as it fits within the posting guidelines. In fact, I sometimes get pushed to censor certain viewpoints that aren’t popular in the community, and I always refuse to do so. Everyone has a right to their viewpoint and to express it here, as long as it is done in a way that respects others’ rights to do the same.

    I hope that clarifies things, and I do apologize for any hurt feelings that may have happened along the way.

    —- Steve

  • It sounds awful, John! No one should have a parent who doesn’t care. Sadly, it happens far too often. I have worked with foster kids for over 20 years and I have seen a lot, including a teen whose mom in fact backed over her in the driveway. She said she THOUGHT it was accidental, but couldn’t be sure. It’s just wrong to have to feel that way about a parent or caretaker!

  • Once again, your analysis is spot on. He broke the ATC union which had a chilling effect on unions nationwide, and he also promoted the idea that if you’re not doing well, it’s all your fault. “It’s Morning in America,” and if you’re not happy, you’re not trying hard enough. Very good fit with the psychiatric worldview, which not coincidentally began to expand its influence at just about the same time.

  • You said a mouthful! I think that is the real key to good parenting – to teach kids that it’s OK to be who they are and it’s safe to bring up stuff that is uncomfortable. Of course, kids need a lot of guidance and love, but it is so important for them to be able to “bring what’s inside to the outside.” In fact, that sounds like a great title for a book!

  • Of course, you are grieving. It is hard for me to understand how people can be so callous? Is it just because they don’t want to feel the grief themselves? But in any case, it means nothing about you. You’re entitled to feel whatever you feel, and the heck with anyone who says otherwise!

  • This is such a sad story, and really illustrates one of the many unintended consequences of forced “hospitalization.” It is also pretty awful that you are “used to” being looked at in a negative way. I am certain you do not deserve such treatment, yet a “diagnosis” (especially of “Borderline Personality Disorder”) seems to leave one open to any sort of denigrating comments from those claiming to be “helping.” It kind of makes me ill.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    I have not moderated any of the comments between Krista and Kindredspirit, but in both cases, some of the comments are getting pretty personal. I’d ask you both to back off and refocus on the content of the article, or to come up with a more respectful way to discuss the cat issue so I don’t need to intervene. Thanks!

  • I really don’t think it is, if the “bashing” is coming from the victims of the system. I consider it quite natural and necessary for oppressed people to gather up their energy and get good and angry before they can fight back against the oppressors. I don’t consider it quite reasonable to expect those who are being harmed to differentiate between the “good workers” and the “bad workers.” While I think intentional meanness and cruelty should not be practiced against anyone for any reason, but I guess I see it as the job of the “good mental health workers” to listen and hear the harm done by our colleagues and to help the person in question come to terms with it and decide what they want to do about it. At the end of that, it’s up to them to decide if you or I are an exception to the rule or not, no matter what we think of ourselves. And perhaps if we do a good enough job, we can introduce the possibility that not ALL “mental health workers” are abusive or condescending.

    I experienced plenty of oppression from my supervisors when I spoke up and called out things that were wrong and hurtful. But I can’t say I ever experienced the kind of uncontrolled harmful environment that was enforced on those our system claimed to be “helping.” It is different in both kind and in degree.

  • I think what he’s getting at is that psychiatrists pretend to offer the “quick fix” and take advantage of people who are looking for it. I think he’s said elsewhere that he’s not criticizing the patients, but the system for setting up rewards for being compliant and not asking a lot of questions but instead accepting their assigned “identity” as “mental patient.”

  • This is an excellent example about how “privilege” works. Those running the show can do almost whatever they want and get away with it. Some choose not to, but they all have that privilege in the system. Those below them have to accept abuse from their superiors as they dish it out, but they have the privilege of dumping it on the person below them. They may or may not exercise it, but they do have that ability to do it and get away with it. So people can be and are oppressed and yet still have privilege over someone lower down in the hierarchy. I feel bad for those line workers, but they do have a choice not to pass it on and to challenge the oppressive environment they are working in instead of taking it out on the inmates. Someone has to make a decision to toss a monkey wrench in the works, and yes, it’s scary, but continuing to work in the oppressive system without challenging it is tacitly approving of it. That’s what eventually drove me out. I could no longer live with what I had to do, or should I say what happened to some of the people even when I did my job well.

  • Thank you for saying this. I think your experience is pretty typical of “voluntary” patients. They have been told that this is the place they should go for help and that these people know what they’re doing. It’s quite a shock to arrive at the conclusion that they don’t.

    I also very much appreciated that a PTSD “diagnosis” “allowed me to reframe how the trauma in my life had led to my mental distress.” This seems in my experience to be what most people really are looking for – a way to reframe their experience that makes sense to them. Sadly, the DSM “diagnoses” generally do the opposite – cause more confusion and minimize or invalidate completely the role of trauma in the genesis of one’s so-called “mental illness.”

  • I think you may want to add one more incentive: parents or caretakers benefit from “diagnosis” by having the responsibility for figuring out what’s going on and how to help taken from their shoulders. It’s not because you need to develop more effective parenting skills – she has Bipolar Disorder! It’s not that you’re a boring teacher with poor classroom management – he has ADHD! It’s not that we’re neglecting our child – she has Depression! It makes it easy for parents, teachers and other caretakers to blame the child for their inability to care appropriately for him/her or to figure out what s/he needs.

  • Two excellent points, Lee. Morality and ethics are not scientific endeavors, and no amount of scientific experimentation can determine right from wrong – that’s an entirely human individual and social effort.

    I have also argued that the “null hypothesis” for these drugs should always be that they ARE dangerous, and the burden of proof should be on the company selling the drug to prove convincingly that they are not. If they can’t prove safety, we should assume dangerousness and act accordingly. If we did, medical care wouldn’t be the third leading cause of death in the USA today.

  • I think it goes even beyond that. There is an underlying need to believe in materialism, the idea that nothing can exist that goes beyond the physically observable and measurable universe. Any suggestion that there may be such a thing as a spiritual existence beyond the body, or even the idea that there are extra-physiological phenomena (like the mind) that might arise from the body but transcend it, seem anathema to such people. They seem to believe that materialism is the only way to be “scientific.” Ironic, as they are operating on a non-scientific assumption but are unable to recognize it because they’re so committed to making others whose beliefs are based on non-scientific assumptions wrong.

  • You make a valid point. However, in terms of brain damage specifically, it seems likely that both could cause such damage in a similar way due to similar effects. They use benzos, for example, to detox someone from alcohol, so they’re almost interchangeable in terms of effects on the brain. As such, their damage profiles in the brain should be similar. It may be that the livers and hearts of the benzo users are not impacted in the same manner, though again, it may be very much dependent on dosage control, or lack of same.

  • Since Benzos and alcohol both act on the same systems in the brain, if alcohol causes brain damage, it stands to reason that benzos would do the same eventually. Perhaps it depends on the person, dosage, and length of exposure, but it seems we ought to expect benzos to do such damage and be surprised if it doesn’t.

  • Mindfulness is, in the end, a SPIRITUAL practice, which is grounded in Buddhism. Efforts to make it into a utilitarian tool for surviving the rigors of a heartless and isolating modern society I think disrespectful to the true purpose of meditation, which is to free the mind/spirit from its bindings to the cycle of life and death. There is a lot more than “brain activity” going on here!

    —– Steve

  • Commenting as moderator:

    At this point, it appears that this thread has had plenty of time for everyone to air their views, and it feels like the comments have in some cases become excessively personal and disrespectful. My appreciation to those who have maintained equanimity throughout the discussion.

    I will try to summarize what I see happening at this point. It appears that one side of the discussion is focusing on the need for survivors to take a leadership role in the antipsychiatry movement, and it appears that the other side is saying that professionals have a lot to contribute and that it should not be framed as an us-vs-them dynamic between professionals and survivors. I think both of these viewpoints have some validity and that it is very understandable that professionals and survivors are likely to have different points of view, and indeed are likely to have difficulty completely understanding where the other side is coming from. I’m also not certain that either side is actually trying to say what the other side seems to believe they are saying.

    I don’t think there is a lot more to say, and it seems that further discussion, rather than leading to further clarification and understanding, is instead leading to more frustration, hurt feelings and hurtful comments. As such, it seems best that we close this discussion on this thread.

    I am closing the thread for further comments. I will continue to moderate comments that have already been made, as it appears there are some which will need to be addressed, but we will now be ending further discussion on this topic thread.

    —- Steve

  • I agree, John. There is frequently a collaboration between the parents, who want the professionals to “fix” their child, and the professionals, who want the parents’ support in keeping the child in “treatment,” with no respect for what is going on for the child. Often (not always) it is the parents or the family that needs to be “fixed.” It sounds like you needed support you didn’t get.

  • That is one of the less obvious problems with the DSM – it allows abusive parents and professionals to blame the children for their own inability to appropriately handle the children in their care. I read a study at some time in the past where children with abuse histories were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with “ADHD.” Some psychiatrist actually commented that this was because “ADHD” kids are more difficult and it makes it more likely that their parents will abuse them! The least powerful person always gets the blame when the DSM is involved.

  • My understanding is that esketamine is just one of the steroisomers (two different mirror image molecules) of ketamine, which contains both stereoisomers. What difference that makes is not something that is obvious. It could make a difference in some cases, but I’m guessing (as a chemist) that in most cases, the actions of stereoisomers would be very similar unless they’re engaging some system that only accepts one isomer over the other. And even if only one isomer is active, the ketamine contains both, so if there is a difference, the most likely one is that it would be a more powerful impact of the same effect.

  • I merely commented that Ketamine has been used as a date rape drug.

    What is Ketamine?
    Ketamine was developed in the 1960’s as an anesthetic for surgeries. Today it is used mostly by veterinarians. Ketamine causes unconsciousness, hallucinations, loss of body control and numbing. Overdose can be fatal. Ketamine is found in a white powder or a liquid and has a horrible, strong bitter flavor. Ketamine works very quickly, so if you tasted it in your drink you would only have a few seconds before losing consciousness.”

  • I think you are more than a bit optimistic about the intentions of the psychiatric profession when you say it’s obvious that “mental health is not a medical issue.” In fact, this is the song the profession has been singing loud and clear since the DSM III came out in 1980. Millions of the so-called “mentally ill” have been told by their doctors, their psychiatrists, the Oprah Winfrey show, TV shows and movies, and of course, those wonderful DTC advertisements showing Zoloft “rebalancing” the chemicals in our cartooned synapses while failing to mention the dramatic reduction of serotonin receptors that results from this supposed “balancing.” It is thus VERY far from “obvious” that “mental illnesses” are not biological entities. A few years back, over 80% of surveyed Americans believed that “low serotonin” causes depression, despite the fact that this idea was convincingly disproven by the mid 1980s.

    I’m glad you “get” that, but I don’t think you’re going to convince anyone that the psychiatric profession agrees with your assessment or shares it with their clientele in most cases.

  • This was my strong reaction! For every case where someone was dense enough not to recognize that stimulants were causing the problem and instead the child was diagnoses with a “psychotic disorder” and prescribed another drug, there have to be at least 10 where the doctor or the parent or the child him/herself was smart enough to say, “Hey, this shit’s making him/her nuts! We need to get them off immediately!” If this is true, then suddenly we’re going from .2% to 2%, which is hardly negligible. And we’re only talking about psychotic episodes here. A Canadian Journal of Psychiatry retrospective study of 100 kids’ files showed an over 6% rate of psychotic symptoms in kids taking stimulants for “ADHD,” which means it’s happening in one kid out of every 16 kids who is taking the drug. With millions of prescriptions out there, there are at least hundreds of thousands of kids experiencing psychotic symptoms as a result of their “treatment.” Yet we’re just “discovering” this now?

    “And in other news, people who are cut have a tendency to bleed…”

  • I have seen many, many cases of this working with foster kids. Stimulants cause aggressive behavior, or less commonly, mania and even frank psychosis, and instead of stopping the stimulants, they add more drugs to “treat” the adverse effects, and of course that requires new “diagnoses” as well. Part of the “juvenile bipolar” explosion was due to stimulant adverse effects being diagnosed as ‘bipolar disorder.’ Ironically, they are often prescribed antipsychotics, which reduce dopamine transmission, while still being given stimulants, which INCREASE dopamine transmission. But as many times as I pointed out this contradiction, only one psychiatrist ever listened to me that I remember.

  • I actually believe the medical education system chases off critical thinkers from the word “go.” The hypercompetitive atmosphere, the extreme authoritarian approach, the intentional overstressing of trainess by loss of sleep and ridiculous expectations – an antiauthoritarian or non-authoritarian would run the other way screaming. I think the field also attracts authoritarians because being a doctor conveys status and financial success, which are less important to antiauthoritarian types.

  • “Narcissism” is just a description of a way of behaving, nothing more or less. A pretty obnoxious way, admittedly, but it’s just a description. Anyone who thinks that people fall into two classes, “good” and “evil,” will not be very successful in understanding human behavior.

    As one wise person once said, “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.”

  • I agree with you about antiauthoritarian vs. anarchist. It is very much a real possibility to have government that respects people’s rights to make their own decisions. Such governments are, sadly, very rare, as most people are in the end authoritarians, and are in fact heavily trained to be so by our school system and other institutions. But I have, on rare occasions, been part of a group that governed itself in a truly democratic fashion, and it is a joy to participate in.

  • This has become our policy ever since our 18-year-old son was “screened” for depression by a doctor, who afterwards went into the usual tirade about how “depression is a disease, just like diabetes” and “it’s now treatable” and so on when he told them he’d been suicidal. The doctor never for ONE MOMENT asked why he had felt that way. It actually pissed him off big time, as he had been struggling with an assault and other issues and so had many good reasons to feel hopeless or discouraged at the time. Now if someone asks, we simply decline to answer those questions, or else say, “I’m just fine!”