Sunday, June 20, 2021

Comments by Steve McCrea

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

    Hope that clarifies things!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

    Take care of yourself!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I hope that helps a little.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Posting as moderator:

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

    Thanks for your help!


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


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

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

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


  • That makes sense to me. You are empowering the client to evaluate his/her own ability to admit being wrong about his/her perceptions, as well as normalizing a very human tendency to fight the possibility of being “wrong” about one’s ideas or perceptions.

  • It’s a difference between a decision or direction being wrong, and a PERSON or their feelings/reactions being wrong. I agree 100% with your statement that “most ‘mental health’ problems result when people have a goal and then are doing things that actually get them going in the opposite direction without their awareness of that.” So the goal of therapy is to help THE CLIENT to gain an awareness of what direction s/he wants to be going and what barriers, internal and/or external, may be preventing that, including false beliefs that seem to force them to go in the opposite direction. Again, that is very different from saying that the person is wrong for feeling anxious or depressed or angry. Long ago, I learned that the proper approach is to validate/normalize FEELINGS, while challenging BELIEFS/THINKING that is getting in the way of the client’s success.

    And I think you are mistaking me if you think this is about the word “wrong.” It is about the invalidation of a person’s knowledge of or ability to know their own mind and ethics and/or to decide for him/herself what is right/wrong, effective/ineffective, valid/invalid. And it most definitely IS imposing one’s idea of rightness/wrongness when we tell or imply that a person’s emotional reaction is somehow “wrong” or that a person suffers from a “mental illness” simply because s/he engages in behavior that seems irrational or unproductive. I find it much more helpful to help a person identify the reason why something that I think is “irrational” makes sense to them. Once the problem they are trying to solve with the “irrational” behavior becomes clear, it may be possible to consider other solutions that are more coherent with their goals.

    Of course, this is more complicated when a person’s connection to what we consider “reality” is more distant. But I think the same principles apply. It is clearly very ineffective to start off telling someone who hears voices that they are imaginary, or telling someone with a “delusional” belief that their belief is wrong. It’s a question of what really works, not a particular antipathy to the word “wrong.”

  • We do not withhold or approve comments based on opinion or topic. The only comments held back are those which violate the posting guidelines, which are available on the home page. You are entitled to post any opinion you have to share, as long as it’s done respectfully. Of course, others may respond in kind.

    That being said, I have to ask: are you suggesting that the poster is making up this story? At least in terms of the dosages prescribed? Or are you simply shocked that your colleagues would engage in such unscrupulous and unethical behavior?

  • The point is more that I have no right to decide what they are doing is “wrong,” unless it is a violation of the rights of others. I would equally not want to tell someone that their behavior is “right,” as I also believe that is their job to evaluate. So telling them that “there is nothing wrong with you” is also not a viable position. It’s just plain not my call. This also doesn’t prevent me from expressing my concern for the direction someone is going, or pointing out potentially adverse consequences of their continuing on the path they’ve chosen.

    I do also agree that there are “better” or “worse” ways to do a particular task, and that we are doing no favors NOT to tell someone they’re going the “wrong way to get to the Pacific Ocean.” But that’s a different context, where the person has made their goals and intentions clear, and you have information to convey that will help them accomplish their goal. That is very different from saying to someone that feeling depressed about something is “wrong,” that it is “right” to listen to your doctor or teacher, that you are “wrong” not to want to go to school or find it dull, that your perception of the world is “wrong” and that if you agree with mine, you will be more “right.” In a therapeutic setting, it is my job to empower the person I’m helping to become more self-determined and to apply their abilities to creating their own lives. Something is only “wrong” to the degree that it fails to move them in the direction they want to go, and again, no one else is able to determine that definitively besides the client him/herself. Again, the only exception to that in my view is when the client is violating the rights of others, and even then, it is ultimately the client him/herself to decide what that means and how to handle the conflict. Therapy is about empowering the client, not enforcing my view of reality on someone else. And the proof is in the pudding – people who are told what to think and do, in my experience, tend to do worse and worse. And the vast majority of the time, the reason they present as “mentally ill” in the first place is because their sense of self-determinism has been systematically snuffed out of existence. The last thing most clients need is someone else’s needs and wishes to accommodate!

  • I don’t agree. I would never say “there is something wrong with the way you are looking at yourself.” I would ask the person what they were trying to accomplish, and ask them whether they believe their current approach is getting them where they are trying to go. I would also listen for things they felt they “couldn’t do” or “have to do” and ask them to explain how they came to these conclusions. If the person had beliefs I saw as irrational or even non-reality based, I’d ask them to explain how they know these things to be true. I might challenge their beliefs with contrary facts and ask them to explain these differences. I might even say I disagreed with them about certain conclusions. But at no point would I ever tell them that something is “wrong” with how they were looking at themselves. That is simply not my job. It is their job, 100%.

  • Absolutely. To determine “overdiagnosis,” one would have to determine objectively the proper level of diagnosis. With the shifty, subjective, hazy criteria designed for “ADHD” or any other DSM “diagnosis,” there is no possible way to objectively diagnose even one single person. So yes, ANY “diagnosis” is overdiagnosis. Or in other words, DSM “diagnoses” are fraudulent, 100%. Not that human suffering isn’t real nor that people don’t need extra support sometimes. But calling these things “diagnoses” is, scientifically speaking, a complete joke.

  • Hi, Ron!

    I think there is a difference between a person deciding for him/herself that there is something “wrong” with their beliefs, assumptions, habits and someone ELSE telling us that something is “wrong” with us, or deciding exactly what it IS that is “wrong” with us. And deciding there is something “wrong” with our own belief systems is highly subjective and personal, very, VERY different than saying there is something wrong with my blood pressure or my ability to breathe or my immune system. The question of what “wrong” means and who gets to decide this is essential to having this kind of conversation make sense.

  • It always bothered me a lot when institutionalized children/adults had hands laid on them by staff, and when they fought back, they were accused of “assault,” and sometimes even charged criminally! The “CLIENTS” were assaulted by the staff and were fighting back! It is stunning that this obvious fact seems to be lost not only on “mental health professionals,” but on our entire legal system. Defending oneself can’t be considered an assault!

  • Couldn’t agree with you more! Detaining someone for being dangerous should NOT in any way be considered as or associated with “treatment” or “diagnosis” at all. Social control is social control. As I’ve said many times, without even arguing about the obvious failings of the destructive psychiatric model, as soon as you introduce force, it can no longer be considered in the realm of “treatment.”

  • I am never one to justify violent behavior, just because someone is enraged. But I find it predictable and understandable, even if it is ineffectual and counterproductive in most cases.

    Of course, there ARE cases where violence IS justified, when one’s safety or the safety of others is involved. In such cases, the minimum force should be used, but the use of force isn’t always “wrong.”

  • I would suggest that King was not advising or supporting violence (he was a VERY strong advocate of a nonviolent approach), but more putting the violence from the poor and disenfranchised into perspective. While he supported nonviolence, he understood that if you push people enough and deny them their voice, their frustration and anger will in many cases be translated into rage and violence. So a person wanting to reduce violence would be wise to start listening to those who are shouting but not being heard.

  • I would add domestic abuse and child abuse to your list. Both are highly associated with “mental health” issues. But of course, that must be because people being abused have bad genes or something. Couldn’t be that the trauma themselves cause “mental health symptoms?”

  • All I can say is, very well said, and I agree completely. I just wonder how many other people we see “acting normal” who go home and order takeout because they are utterly exhausted from “acting normal” and who lay on their couches crying or numbing themselves out watching Netflix.

  • Bruce Perry is a man who tells it like it is, backed by solid research. The psych mainstream really WANTS to dismiss him completely, but can’t, because he’s so solidly based in research. They have chosen to coopt and minimize his contributions, focusing on “trauma changes the brain” as a means to justify more drugging, and forgetting Bruce’s main theme, which is, “Healthy relationships can HEAL the brain, even in adulthood.” The latter message is unacceptable and has been muted by every possible means the psych professions have had at their disposal. This looks like an important read. I hope that Oprah’s stamp of approval gets it the wide viewing it most likely deserves.

  • The whole idea that people can be divided into the “mentally ill” and the “normal” is brought into sharp relief by your analysis. A “normal” person who gets intimidated by his/her boss and starts feeling anxious and avoids him/her is considered to be “under stress.” A “mentally ill” person with the exact same reactions to the exact same situation is considered to be “having symptoms” or “decompensating.” It is nothing but rank prejudice and discrimination, not dissimilar in structure to white people engaging in violent acts being considered “lone wolves” or “troubled men” when black people doing the exact same thing are considered “thugs” and Muslim people doing the same thing are considered “terrorists.” This is perhaps the most important reason that “mental health” labels in general are ultimately destructive, even if a particular person doesn’t mind or appreciates their particular label. These labels are more or less arbitrary, and enable folks to engage in systematic discrimination without consequence against people who have them. In fact, these labels make such discrimination virtually invisible to most people who observe it happening. Instead of seeing it as condescending disrespect, the discriminators can frame it as “helpful concern” and the observers allow that framing unless they are quite enlightened.

  • Same thing happens with “ADHD.” They give the kid stimulants to increase their dopamine levels. They often become aggressive, lose sleep, even hallucinate sometimes. Then they give them antipsychotic drugs to DECRASE the dopamine levels that they are INCREASING with the stimulants! Why not just STOP INCREASING the dopamine by giving them less stimulants? No, that would be too simple and not make them enough money, I guess! That is REAL insanity!

  • All too true! I’m tired of hiking being called “nature therapy,” or expressing oneself through artistic media being called “art therapy,” or meditating on the meaning and purpose of existence being called “mindfulness therapy.” Some things are just good things to do. I would hate to think they will turn Harry Potter into “fantasy fiction therapy” instead of just being a good read!

  • Bullying is, indeed, the more fundamental problem. Psych labels are merely the bully’s tools.

    I appreciate your clarity about why you wanted a “diagnosis.” I’m sure your feeling is shared by many, that lacking a “diagnosis” means you are not taken seriously. But I would toss out the question: why in our society is it necessary to have a “diagnosis” to be taken seriously? Maybe that is a problem even more fundamental than bullying itself!

  • I agree absolutely. The word has been “polluted” by the cultural context surrounding it, at least for me. It is associated in our culture with violence, destructiveness, lack of value, and shame. It is interesting that in other cultures in which “voice hearing” is more accepted, “Voice hearers'” voices are actually more positive and helpful. How we choose to view phenomena and how we choose to name them has power. At a minimum, that power should not be usurped by the “professionals,” but I’m afraid most of these labels have already been appropriated culturally to the point that their personal meaning is difficult to untangle from their cultural meaning.

  • Another of those weird “Medicalized” headlines. Why not just say, “Financial debt is depressing and anxiety-provoking?” Why the resort to “mental health outcomes,” as if getting upset about financial problems is some sort of disease or “disorder” or failing of the person in debt? Why not just admit that being in debt sucks?

  • You write very powerfully! And I appreciate your comments very much, and your kind words for me as well.

    I think the only REAL way to be non-judgmental is to understand that we are ALL judging all the time, and to become AWARE of and acknowledge one’s judgment, to the degree that one is able to view those very judgments themselves objectively enough to set them aside and not put them onto the other person. It is difficult to describe, but I do believe it is most definitely possible to accomplish, at least enough that the person we are dealing with doesn’t feel they are being judged and sees that you are able to hear what they really are saying instead of what you think they ought to say or mean.

    I am reminded of a quote from the Princess Bride by your closing paragraph: “Live IS pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.”

  • I think the person suffering has every right to identify their “problem” or “issues” however they would like to view them. My objection is when another person tries to take that right away by deciding for you what your “problem” is. It would be one thing if they are saying, “You have a brain tumor” or “Your blood pressure is higher than normal.” But instead, they are judging their clients/patients/whatever based on some set of arbitrary rules and pretending they know what they’re talking about.

    I respect YOUR views on your condition/situation WAY more than any “professional” who might come along and condescend to “diagnose” you!

  • Excellent analysis!

    I always figured the best assessment tool was to ask the client what s/he felt was troubling them, and then ask what they would like to see be different in their lives. Then ask them what barriers they saw to making that happen. Depending on what they said, there would be a whole lot of different things they could do to move in the direction they wanted to. No “clinical judgment” or “diagnosis” or “spectrum disorders” required!

  • Waste of time. The “model” fails to alter the most basic and incorrect assumptions of the DSM, namely, that a “clinician,” by virtue of some level of training and education, can look at someone’s behavior, mood, or thinking and objectively determine if there is something “wrong” with them. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, we’re substituting human judgment for actual scientific observation and attributing “medical” legitimacy to someone’s biases and opinions based solely on what kind of degree or training they have. As long as we pretend that we are “diagnosing” a “mental illness,” it doesn’t matter if we use HiTop or the DSM or the ICD or a dart board, we’re wasting a lot of energy categorizing what kind of iceberg hit the Titanic instead of trying to keep the ship from sinking or getting the passengers to the lifeboats!

  • Well, no community just IS that way, it has to be CREATED that way and continue to be created that way over time. I have experienced that from time to time in my life, but only for a little while. It is difficult to get everyone on board with that kind of ongoing creation. We’ve all grown up in an oppressive society and we all need healing!

  • Humans are social animals/beings. Most don’t do well when isolated. We seem to thrive when living in communities. The failure of psychiatry to even notice let alone try to understand this simple fact makes it impossible for psychiatry to ever be of any help to anyone. The Rat Park experiment alone puts the lie to the vast majority of psychiatric research – obviously, if community and activities can change even a rat from a cocaine addict into a “normal” community member, the idea that addiction or “mental illness” is inherent in the person seems pretty stupid.

  • Usually, when a practitioner “wants to protect you,” it usually means they want to protect THEMSELVES from the feelings you evoke in them. If YOU get “treatment,” then THEY will feel better. It has little to nothing to do with your needs!

  • That sounds like an AWFUL experience! I ran into quite a few of these situations when I worked with foster youth. The easiest “disease” to attribute to your child is a “psychiatric disorder,” because there is no objective way to prove that the “diagnosis” is right or wrong. It is the “Munchhausen parent’s” paradise!

    I hope you have found other adults to validate the bizarreness of this experience. I was not meaning to imply that you were validating the DSM “diagnoses,” I was just expressing my own discomfort with assigning a “disorder” that is in no way validated or validatable, rather than just describing the behavior that is of concern for what it is. You certainly did a fine job of doing the latter!

  • I have always considered “transparency” a joke. “I’m taking bribes from Big Pharma to promote their drugs. Here are the companies paying me off.” And then the get to go ahead and make “recommendations” based on who is paying them, and no one stops them. How about disqualifying anyone on the take from participating in making practice recommendations? How about forbidding researchers at colleges and universities from taking any funds from industry directly, as used to be the case when I was a kid? As soon as you can use your research grant to get a patent and make a ton of money, your scientific objectivity is shot to hell, I don’t care who you are. Publishing one’s conflicts of interest is a useless and ridiculous measure. Preventing conflicts of interest is what we need to be doing.

  • “Munchhausen’s by proxy” to me isn’t something to “diagnose,” it’s just another phenomenon that most likely has multiple causes and multiple effective interventions. Drugs obviously are not one of the effective approaches.

    Rather than call it “Munchhausen’s by proxy,” why not just say, “This person likes/needs to believe that his/her children are ill to meet some personal need of their own.”

  • Generally, yes. If something doesn’t show up and I haven’t sent you a note, by all means, check in with me. Sometimes I think I’ve approved things that somehow don’t get approved, and sometimes I forget to write the note to ask you to explain. It is rare that I change or remove something without connecting with you in some way, so please check back in with me if you are wondering what happened.

  • What it means is that the doctors are not prescribing based on scientific evidence. They are motivated by different factors, including keeping parents happy, feeling like they are “doing something,” fitting in with social expectation, and/or increasing their personal income, to name a few possibilities. It is not a problem of information or knowledge. It is a problem of improper motivation.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I am allowing this comment, despite stopping this thread earlier, because the poster relies on personal experience and research data in her comment and is presenting the evidence she has encountered in a respectful manner. I am not inviting a return to the personalized, escalating rhetoric that was occurring previously. Others who wish to present their own personal experiences with COVID vaccinations are welcome to do so, particularly as it pertains to any pressures, oppression, or neglect based on “mental health” labels. Personal experiences are always welcome. Personal attacks and invalidation are not.

  • I’m not sure I agree. There are power differentials that exist in almost any relationship. It is the negotiated terms of the relationship that allow or disallow connectedness. If the person in the higher power position chooses to be respectful and genuine and chooses not to use that power over the other person, I think connectedness is still possible. But if one person actually views himself as superior and is willing to disregard or condescend or otherwise use his/her “power over,” then I agree there can be no connectedness between them. To connect, there needs to be sufficient safety for both parties.

  • Conflicts of interest are an enormous problem in the government right now, at least in the USA. There’s a revolving door with Big Pharma. I believe more than 50% of the FDA membership should be people who have no relationship to the pharmaceutical or medical industries at all. Indeed, why would we believe the fox when he says he’ll guard the chicken coop for us?

  • They have not researched “deaths of despair” because they don’t recognize despair as a legitimate complaint. There should BE no despair, as far as their model is concerned. Despair is indicative of “illness,” even if it’s caused by being hung upside down in a dungeon and tortured by people who have promised you will never escape. The tortured person should apparently have a better attitude, or else the reason they’re so upset is because their brain chemistry is messed up. If they were “normal,” it would not bother them much to be tortured. They’d just accept it as another one of those crazy things that happen in life!

  • I am sure they don’t cure infections, but they have been noted to have strong effects on pain, nausea, emotional conditions, fatigue, etc. These effects are apparently measurable and observable in the brain.

    More convincingly, how the brain is used has been shown to alter the function of the brain itself. Taxi drivers develop an increase in areas of the brain associated with geography; meditating monks have an increase in areas of the brain associated with calmness and relaxation, as well as alterations in brain wave activity.

    One can say, “Well, they’re using that part of the brain more, so it’s more developed.” But WHO or WHAT is using that part of the brain more? And HOW is that decided? These are things we simply do not understand.

    The mind is and remains a mystery. It appears to have effects on the body, but how these effects are created is not remotely understood by any in the world of science. What “the mind” even IS is not understood by scientists. I don’t claim to have any understanding of it myself, I’m just pointing out that claims that understanding the brain means understanding the mind are similar to claims that understanding electrical circuitry is the same as understanding computer programming. They are very different things.

  • I would say that the brain is an organ, while the mind appears to be an agent of controlling the body. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the mind does somehow arise from the brain, but that is certainly not proven, nor is there even evidence to say it is so, other than materialists saying, “It must be, because what else could it be?” But regardless of that, there is tons of evidence that the mind, whatever that is, is able to control the body, including the brain, in many, many different ways. The placebo effect is a great example. How can believing that something will work help the body to heal or change? Obviously, there is some form of agency that uses beliefs and goals to move the body to do things. Perhaps the concept of a “programmer” is the best analogy. Lots of people refer to the “hardware” (the brain) and the “software” (whatever programs the brain is running), yet no one seems to remember that someone has to WRITE the programs for a computer to run! So who is the “programmer” of the human brain? That’s what I’d call the mind. And again, it is a mystery – no one really has a clue what it is or how it works, but it is clear that it DOES exist and it DOES work, and pretending that we’re just a brain is as dumb as pretending a computer is just a bunch of electronic components and wires. Try to run a computer without software and see what happens! Try to program a computer without a programmer and see how far you get.

  • I agree 100% on THAT point! I think I’m emphasizing more what people’s attitudes have become, and you are emphasizing more how that attitude has been used to mislead the public. There is nothing “rational” about believing some subset of humanity, with sufficient intelligence and training, can somehow determine what is “true” for the rest of us. It’s just as superstitious as believing in evil spirits. Maybe a little more so!

  • Right you are! The very essence of science is skepticism, the willingness to invalidate any and all conclusions in the face of new data, and in fact, the drive to do all we can to try and invalidate a particular theory that SEEMS to be true, and only accepting it as truth when all other explanations are proven to fail. And even then to be prepared for new data to force modification. The concept of “scientific truth” is badly misused, as “scientific truth” by definition is always subject to change. Even Newton’s Laws of Motion, long held up as the ultimate in “proven fact,” ended up being approximations. Who knows what we’ll discover in the future, if we stop pretending that some “smart people” already know everything and that we can stop looking and just let them tell us what is true!

  • True, but a slightly different issue from what I’m talking about. The idea of science being “value neutral” is extremely problematic, as Robert Pirsig so eloquently elucidates in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” But what I’m talking about is a form of almost religious worship of Scientists as the All Knowing, so smart and informed that us mere parishioners are too ignorant and easily misled to be able to understand their deep knowledge. Doing what the Scientists say makes us Smart and Clever free from the curses of Superstition and Blind Faith! The fact that this is another form of Blind Faith does not occur to the faithful. Science is Truth, and to question this is Sacrilege! Oops, I mean Unscientific! Psychiatry is able to use this kind of blind faith to maintain its hegemony despite the fact that their own scientific researchers (not to mention basic logic) have proven that their diagnoses are nonsense and that their “treatments” tend to make people worse rather than better, and in fact to shorten their lives. To question Psychiatry is to question Science, and who are we to question the wisdom of the Great Scientific Gurus!

  • A lot of people are “pro-scientist” rather than “pro-science.” They thing science is something that other smart people in lab coats do, and they then report their findings honestly and all we need to do is follow their recommendations. The idea that scientists could be dishonest or corrupt or just plain incompetent and narrow-minded is too much for them to process. It’s more like a religion than a logical conclusion. Real science is scary to those people, because it requires them to personally sift and evaluate the evidence, instead of deferring to “the authorities.” So they get very upset at people who question their “pro-scientist” dogma!

  • Getting a Masters Degree in Education disabused me of any delusion that having an advanced degree means you’ve met some much higher standard of knowledge. My grad courses were WAY easier than most of my undergrad education, and a student could easily get through the entire curriculum while having not the slightest skill or motivation toward caring about kids’ learning. I’m absolutely certain the same would apply to a psychology degree. The only truly useful part was my internship, and that was because I was lucky enough to land a good mentor teacher to work with.

    An advanced degree means pretty much nothing about someone’s skill level or integrity.

  • He is ABSOLUTELY a victim of psychiatry. I hope no one is disputing that fact. Again, my disappointment is only that a person with such a large platform has missed an opportunity to get the word out about his victimization, especially since his own philosophy as stated is so consistent with a critical attitude toward the kind of “solutions” psychiatry has offered.

  • As for me, I feel no hostility toward him at all, just a certain sadness and disappointment that such a fantastic opportunity to direct his energies toward that profession which is most strenuously opposed to his philosophy, even when he was victimized by that profession. But it is very hard to admit when you’ve been victimized, especially for those who revere doctors as being automatically more trustworthy than the general population.

    I wish him well, and hope he sees soon what seems clear to us who are further down the road.

  • It does seem ironic that he is telling people to face their emotions and not try to “fog” them, while taking antidepressants for years and then getting dependent on Benzos by following his doctors’ advice. Wouldn’t you think he’d see the irony here and come out and acknowledge that he’d been led down the garden path? I feel compassion for him, but he’s missing a great opportunity to promote his ideas by challenging the cultural assumption that “feelings” can be a “disorder” that needs to be “treated” rather than understood and faced as Peterson insists is necessary to get away from our overly “orderly” society.

  • I think the clinical approach is called either “corruption” or “stupidity.” We could give it a fancier name if you’d like.

    Adderall can certainly counteract the effects of “antipsychotics,” especially the traditional ones like Haldol that act solely on dopamine. It appears that is why smoking is so very common for users of neruoleptics. (What, it’s not because they are all lazy, irresponsible addicts? But, but…) But what sense is there to raising dopamine levels with one drug while lowering them with another? Meth would absolutely work similarly. Stimulants are pretty much all the same, except perhaps for cocaine.

  • My understanding is that the shrinkage is primarily in the basal ganglia, where a lot of dopamine is processed on its way to the frontal lobes. (If I recall correctly, this was the part of the brain that lobotomies attacked, leading some to call neuroleptic “treatment” a “chemical lobotomy.”) This makes sense, because dopamine is the target of the “antipsychotics” aka neuroleptic drugs. I also seem to recall something about reduction in white matter, the stuff that surrounds the neurons. Tardive dyskinesia is clearly and unarguably caused by damage to the dopamine system, only seen in people taking dopamine inhibitor drugs like the neuroleptics, and it would stand to reason that damage to the dopamine system would associate with TD, though I have not researched that question.

  • Indeed it does! But apparently, they don’t even respect their own “experts” when they come up with the “wrong answer!” These are not people who are going to suddenly say, “Gosh, we seem to have gotten it wrong – maybe we should listen to our clients in the future.” They are dogmatically committed to their worldview and to taking down anyone who dares to challenge that view. I want to extend my love to such people and hope for their transformation, but we can’t allow such people to decide what is “helpful” for the people they truly don’t give a crap about!

  • Of course, alcohol feels good, too, and I used to enjoy marijuana before it started making me a little paranoid. I have no objection to people using whatever drugs work for them, but it’s sure not a sign of psychiatric drugs “working” to “treat mental disorders!”

  • Not to mention denying the evidence from their own researchers: that “ADHD” is 30% more likely to be “diagnosed” if a child is a year younger, that there are no long-term outcomes that are improved by stimulants for “ADHD”, that “antidepressants” increase the likelihood of aggression and/or suicide rather than decreasing them, that taking “antipsychotics” for more than a brief time dramatically DECREASES the likelihood of recovery, that countries with less “antipsychotic” use have better outcomes, that the likelihood of “psychosis” is strongly affected by social conditions, in particular, migration, urban living, and childhood sexual abuse, that genetics contributes little to nothing to the probability of any psych “diagnosis,” that “antipsychotics kill people decades earlier than the general population… I could go on.

    I agree, the most fundamental evidentiary problem is ignoring the actual experiences and feedback from those they are supposed to be helping. You’d think that would be the MOST important data, and it is considered the least. But even without that vital consideration, the profession’s ability to ignore cartloads of inconvenient evidence disqualifies them for even the vaguest consideration of being “scientific!”

  • I agree completely. School in its entirety was a total violation of any sense of safety or self-determination I had. I was in internal revolt for 13 years, but externally acted like things were OK, except for one or two incidents of acting out over the years. It is very damaging, and is only one of many ways in which we have to deny our intuitive sense of what is right in order to survive.

  • Thanks for pointing out the subtleties of your comment! Your writing borders on the poetic!

    I don’t think it is inevitable that we are required to disrespect our own instincts and rhythms. It seems to relate largely to having too many people for the space we have, and having too few people with too much power to direct others’ behavior for their convenience. And we all accept it at this point, or most of us. I think a lot of ‘mental illness’ comes from internalizing these expectations.

  • It can hardly be considered coffee’s fault that our circadian rhythms are not respected. I’d view coffee as mostly an effect – an attempt by individuals whose circadian rhythms are PERFORCE disrupted by a society that does not respect them to do something to maintain their alertness in spite of the constant assault on their natural rhythms of sleep and lots of other things. This disrespect begins in the cradle (remember forced feeding schedules and intentional waking of babies who “slept too long” for their arbitrary schedules?) and continues through school (how many days were we all forced to “go to sleep on time” and get up at a ridiculous hour to spend a day of largely wasted time in a building we hated with people we were forced to associate with doing things that someone else decided were important?) and of course is brutally enforced in the workplace for most of us who have had to do a “job” to maintain survival for ourselves and our families.

    Let’s not blame coffee for doing a job that our society has created for it! Remember the Rat Park experiment – rats DON’T prefer cocaine to food when their social and emotional needs are met!

  • It is a typical, dense, heavy-handed, insensitive, context-absent psychiatric intervention. If someone doesn’t eat enough, let’s give them a drug to make them hungry! If they eat too much, let’s give them a drug to make them LESS hungry! If they take stimulants (which increase dopamine) and become aggressive, forget DECREASING the stimulants, let’s give them antipsychotics to decrease the dopamine we’re increasing with the stimulants!

    It’s like watching someone try to do sculpture with a pickaxe. They have no tool to do the job, but insist on doing it anyway, and regardless of the damage done, never seem to conclude that perhaps they ought to find a small chisel and hammer, but continue to hack away with the pickaxe and require everyone else to admire their “work.”

  • But cigarettes can also uncover a latent coughing disorder. Which, of course, we can treat with an anti-coughing medication. And later on, you may develop lung cancer. We have found that lung cancer patients seem to have a penchant for cigarettes earlier in their lives. We believe a chemical imbalance in those pre-disposed to lung cancer also leads them to crave cigarettes. Of course, the cigarettes are just a meaningless correlation – the couldn’t POSSIBLY be a causal factor!

  • This seems to be so difficult for some people to understand. To say “there are no ‘mental illnesses’ is not the same as saying that this kind of suffering doesn’t happen. It means that the categories they define don’t mean anything at all! You can group together people with brittle fingernails or people who clean out their ears with their pinkies or people whose hair falls out early or people who have larger breasts on the average, and any one of these can be defined by a list of “criteria” and people can be diagnosed with “Excessive Ear Cleaning Disorder” or whatever you please. But if the grouping of people has nothing in common other than the ostensible “symptoms,” what is the point of it? And to then attribute these “disorders” to “neurodevelopment” without a shred of evidence adds insult to injury! Plus, if some subset of these people really DID have a neurological problem, the psych “diagnoses” immediately become a barrier to discovering this, because they’d be grouped together with a large cohort of people who did NOT have the same problem, and no one would look at these people with an interest in finding the cause.

    There is no scientific validity to any “mental disorder.” They are based on arbitrary judgments and assumptions that have no coherent meaning. This is not to say people don’t suffer these described syndromes at times. It’s saying that calling these collections “mental disorders” is worse than pointless – it actually prevents any recognition of any ACTUAL physiological problems that DO exist, while invalidating the importance of life experience as the most important contributing factor to most mental/emotional distress.

  • I don’t disagree at all. The point is not that acting out of anger is always OK, but that feeling anger is not a “disease” and behavioral choices are not ma “disorder.” They are choices. And choices have consequences. And if we want different consequences, we need to make different choices, and we can use our feelings in different ways rather than trying to snuff them out or feel guilty for having them.

  • Clearly, that is central. The need to define “normal” and to attack or demonize anything that deflects from that “normal” seems to be critical to this effort. This way, everyone is focused on whether they are “happy enough” or “good enough” or “smart enough” or “pretty enough” and so on, instead of wondering where this anxiety and frustration is coming from!

  • “Neoliberalism is contemporarily used to refer to market-oriented reform policies such as “eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets, lowering trade barriers” and reducing, especially through privatization and austerity, state influence in the economy.”

  • “A more recent analysis estimates 128,000 Americans die each year as a result of taking medications as prescribed – or nearly five times the number of people killed by overdosing on prescription painkillers and heroin. Sep 27, 2016”,on%20prescription%20painkillers%20and%20heroin.


    Note that the now use the term “medical errors,” but over 120,000 deaths included in the original study (back in 2001 or so – more than half!) resulted from properly prescribed and properly administered drugs. So it doesn’t require an “error” for doctors to kill you. Standard medical practice does the job more than half the time.

  • The ultimate subgroup is a single person. If you break it down far enough, you end up with individualized “treatment,” which is what should be happening anyway, if any “treatment” at all is considered appropriate.

    Of course, there is “heterogeneity” in a group you put together based entirely on how they FEEL at a given moment in time. The idea that people who feel depressed are all the same is the most basic deception psychiatry is based on.

  • I’m just going from stats here. Most mass shootings are perpetrated by young men who are misogynistic and have a history of drug abuse, or are on psych drugs. I am certain older men would factor in there as well, as being MALE is the most common characteristic by far of all shooters. My point is, if we’re going to create a profile, we ought to base it on actual correlations, and “mental illness” doesn’t even come close to making the cut!

  • Actually, that is a good point! If they are advertising being “evidence based medicine,” isn’t that a tacit admission that their prior “medicine” was NOT evidence based?

    Of course, it is impossible to have a real evidence base for “disorders” that are not objectively distinguishable from non-“disordered” conditions, which the DSM itself admits in its introduction is the case for any and all of the DSM “diagnoses.” Kind of like collecting “evidence” to “treat” laziness or cowardice or spontaneity or joy. It is an illogical proposition from the word go.

  • Well said. If we were going to “profile” the dangerous person who needs to have an eye kept on them, it would be a younger male domestic abuse perpetrator with a substance abuse problem (or on certain psych drugs) and an obsession with weapons. “Mental illness,” whatever that means, would not even make it onto the board as a risk factor. Most gun owners are safe, most people labeled “mentally ill” are safe. We should be looking at the actual risk factors if we are going to try and prevent such situations from arising.

  • I see it as a constant struggle. There are people who believe they “know best” and should be the authorities, and others who resist are “wrong” and need to change their viewpoints or attitudes to comply with what “we know is true.” This kind of arrogance in a “helper” is incredibly dangerous, because the “helper” has no naturally occurring reason to stop or question his/her activities, since s/he is automatically doing good by virtue of being the authority!

    The other group, which I think is a lot smaller, is those whose intent is to increase the self-determination of the people they help. People in this group would be horrified by the idea of telling someone what to believe or think about their own situation, and instead are focused on helping this person gain sufficient perspective to evaluate their own lives and tell their own stories, unencumbered by any “expected” way of thinking or acting.

    Of course, there are many who don’t really belong to either group and can be swayed one way or the other. Unfortunately, at this time in history at least, Group One has control of the mass media and the main messages we receive are authoritarian ones, and those working for empowerment are considered foolish or dangerous.

    That’s my take, anyway!

  • I don’t think we are talking about the same thing if you are saying that “repressed” memories can’t be spontaneously recalled. If “repression” per se exists, it would involve an immediate action of putting this memory out of consciousness for purposes of self-protection. There is nothing in the concept of “repression” that would say such a memory could not later be spontaneously recalled or triggered, in fact, this is exactly what PTSD researchers find happens when a person gets triggered. They may have had some vague awareness that “something bad happened during the war” or “my uncle used to creep me out when he came in my room,” but then something reminds the person of what actually occurred, and the memory comes back up in more detail.

    I am certain that there are people who have chosen to distort this admittedly theoretical mechanism to explain how such events happen in order to justify “pulling out” memories that the client is “repressing,” then I say they are behaving reprehensibly. As I think I’ve made clear, there is no excuse for such a shabby form of “therapy.” It sounds like we agree on most points, and are perhaps having different meanings for the term “repression” that are causing us to think we’re disagreeing.

    Thanks for working through this with me.

  • I agree with you – not knowing is quite dangerous!

    When I say “unethical,” I’m referring to acting on the therapist’s idea of what they “should do” rather than on the observable effects on the client. It would follow that there are a lot of unethical therapists practicing. A truly ethical therapist is humble, knowing first off that it’s better to do nothing than to do harm, and knowing secondly that anything they DO attempt needs to be filtered through the knowledge that inadvertent harm is easily done and not always readily observable. A competent therapist is one who is constantly getting feedback from the client, verbally and nonverbally, and altering one’s approach to meet the needs of the client rather than the therapist’s need to be perceived as “competent” or “insightful” or “skilled” or to prove that the therapist’s school of thought is “correct.”

    In my experience, there is nothing that harms a client more than telling the client what to think about his/her own narrative. Telling them that their memories are “false” or telling them that they “have memories that they don’t recall” are equally destructive, and it should be obvious to anyone looking at the client’s reaction that such actions create confusion and uncertainty, and those are two things we should NOT be creating as therapists!

    My biggest objection to the DSM is not the drugs, it is the action of the doctor/therapist telling the client what to think or believe about their “condition” or needs. Even if such an evaluation were based on facts, it is still not going to be helpful to tell the client “here’s what’s wrong with you.” When such an evaluation is based on raw speculation or invention, as the DSM “diagnoses” almost entirely are, it probably crosses over from unethical treatment to criminal fraud in my view.

  • Wow, that’s a pretty bent assumption there! I know many people who believe that people could recall prior abuse that they have not recalled previously who would find the idea of “recovered memory therapy” horrific and abusive. Perhaps we travel in different circles. There is absolutely no connection between the ability to recall memories previously not available to the conscious mind and the vindication of therapy that implants “memories” that never occurred, or assumes the presence of “memories” from a vague and subjective list of “signs and symptoms” that has no scientific validation.

    And I would add that the possibility of this discussion is certainly NOT foreclosed upon just because of the observations that some abusers have used the concept to discredit their accusers. Both can be valid at the same time. There is no contradiction that I can see.

  • So we are playing semantic games now? You know no more than I do about why someone doesn’t recall something that happens, or what mechanism is involved in them being “spontaneously recalled.” I hear no science about this, just a redefinition on your part.

    So we can agree that a traumatic memory could be “forgotten” and then “spontaneously recalled” based on some environmental stimulus? In that case, there isn’t much we are arguing about. We’re both saying that something could be forgotten and then recalled later, and the fact that it wasn’t recalled doesn’t mean that the spontaneous recollection is false. Seems like splitting some pretty fine hairs to me.

  • You can say the same thing over and over, but it doesn’t make it true. First off, there is nothing “fantastical” about the idea that people would choose on some level not to consciously recall something that was troubling them. If they can “spontaneously recall” something they didn’t before, why could that thing they “spontaneously recall” be a traumatic event??? Your argument makes no sense at all!

    My point regarding memories is that YOU are not in a position to tell ME what I recall is true or false. OF COURSE, people have inaccurate recollection that are contaminated by later experience or poor questioning or whatever. My point is that NO ONE can say if the recollection is true or false absent confirmation from objective data. As this is almost never possible, we are left with the subjective problem with memory in general.

    For instance, the person who recalls what they believe was abuse may be confused or recall incorrectly. Absolutely. But why does this same reasoning not apply to the person who denies that it happens? Could the alleged abuser or other family members not have their recalls contaminated by later experience, or by their on conflict of interest in wanting to minimize the damage they have done or to avoid legal consequences? Do we require a “mechanism” to explain how people who are guilty of abuse claim to be innocent, and often BELIEVE themselves to be innocent in contradiction to actual facts?

    It is very interesting how the recollections of those claiming abuse are so closely scrutinized, and frankly thoughtlessly invalidated on occasion, while the recollections of those denying the abuse are so readily accepted as true? Why do THOSE “false memories” not concern the “false memory” crowd?

  • Again, these two things have nothing in common. One is a spontaneous process that occurs within a person, the other is an effort to induce or implant memories in people who have none. The latter is NOT caused by the concept of repression, it is caused by unethical therapists who are either greedy or unable to deal with their own issues and act them out on their clients. If they did not have “repression” to use as a blunt instrument, they’d come up with another one. And many do. How many professionals believe they can “detect bipolar disorder” (or whatever other “disorder du jour”) and tell people they “have it” without any objective way to say it is true, and without the slightest consideration of the viewpoint of their “client?” This is not caused by the concept of “bipolar disorder.” It is caused by unethical practitioners, and is far, far more common than the “false memory” phenomenon.

    It is important not to blame a concept or idea for how people choose to use it. No one should be telling anyone what they should believe about their own experience. THAT is the problem!

  • The majority of experts also believe that psychiatric drugs address biological anomalies in human brains, despite the complete lack of evidence that “mental illness” of any sort is associated with biological anomalies, nor that psychiatric “diagnoses” are meaningful entities that identify homogeneous groups, nor that people so “treated” do better in the long run (and significant evidence that on the average, they do NOT do better). The majority of experts are comfortable with a 30+% Caesarian section rate. The majority of experts believe that “treating” youth with “antidepressants” is good treatment, despite overwhelming evidence that there is no benefit to such “treatment” for children and that the recipients of such “treatment” are MORE likely to kill themselves or feel like doing so. The majority of experts once believed that Thalidomide was safe, that Benzodiazepines were not addictive, that Benzedrine was not addictive, that Tardive Dyskinesia was NOT caused by antipsychotic drugs, that there were no withdrawal effects from antidepressants, and that Viiox was a safe and effective pain reliever. They believed that sexual abuse was explained by “Oedipus complexes” or frustrated sexual drives in three year olds. Experts believe a lot of things that are not true. The “resort to authority” argument doesn’t hold a lot of water in the area of “mental health.”

  • I don’t agree. It is scientifically improper to assume repression can’t exist, just as it is scientifically improper to assume that it does. I agree that it is easier to prove that repression does occur than proving it doesn’t, but there is plenty of suggestive evidence that it does occur, even if it is not conclusive. The evidence that people do, in fact, recall memories that they previously did not and that these memories reflect actual events that happened is pretty powerful in the community of people who treat “PTSD” and other trauma phenomenon. It is not scientifically valid in any sense to invalidate such evidence simply because occasions occur where such memories are implanted by poor or unethical therapists or professionals. Stories of repressed memories have been recorded for over 100 years and cannot be simply discounted because someone says “prove it.” The proper scientific position on repressed memories should be, “We really don’t know for sure.” To invalidate memories of a person who recalls them can be just as damaging as trying to induce memories that don’t exist. In the end, the only real judge of the reality of a memory, absent confirmatory evidence, is the person doing the remembering.

  • Of course, these are not criteria that are generally accepted in the “mental health” system, which we know has pretty low standards to start with. I would say the important missing information is that the allegations were made after influence by a professional or other adult who has encouraged the person to believe they have memories which they don’t recall. I think denials by perpetrators are completely meaningless and should not even be a consideration, and denial by family members would also extremely questionable and need to be viewed in context. Not sure why the perpetrator would have to have any kind of dependency on substances, or “bipolar disorder” (which is, of course, totally unverifiable), or a history of molestation or abuse. Many, many perpetrators do so when stone cold sober, and many, many perpetrators have no record whatsoever, especially in family situations. As to “bipolar disorder,” it is a ridiculous criterion. Are they really suggesting that being diagnosed with “bipolar disorder” is a requirement for molestation? That “bipolar disorder” predisposes people to molesting children? I find such a suggestion utterly ludicrous in my experience (and I worked for 20 years with foster youth, seen plenty of abuse victims and perpetrators). And what’s that weird point about “bestiality appears in prehistoric art?” Are they trying to normalize bestiality? Or what?

    These seem like extremely questionable criteria for any “diagnosis,” and the stakes involved here are enormous. Surely, the authors could do better than this!

  • Or they are dealing with a person who is overwhelmed, whose life has turned upside down and who has insufficient support or is being actively undermined. It is very common for overt domestic abuse to begin during pregnancy or shortly after the birth of a child. Additionally, the mother usually has to deal with loss of sleep, physical stress of nursing, change of body image, loss of connection through employment, loss of income, isolation, triggering of childhood memories of abuse/neglect, shock or disappointment about the realities of having a baby not matching social expectations… I could go on. There are a lot of good reasons to be depressed after a child is born that have nothing to do with the body. That said, I totally support nutritional interventions, as a lot is changing on a physiological level as well.

    In short, the idea that “postpartum depression” is a medical problem is laughable for anyone who has actually become a new parent of an infant.

  • I don’t agree. There are people who are still receiving “treatment” involuntarily, including those forced by law and those who are in a bad position where detoxing from these drugs is dangerous or sometimes even not feasible due to alterations to the brain caused by the drugs. Additionally, I’d say that anyone who has recognized the contradictions and dangers the system has put them through and is trying to get out is also a “survivor” by any measure. They have survived, even if they are still being abused.

  • I think you summed it up very well. I have absolutely no problem with folks being careful about the details of such memories being potentially altered by mixing up with later experiences. We all know this can happen. But I take absolute exception to the idea that a vague, hazy recollection can be clarified and retrieved more completely by writing or talking to someone about what is recalled, nor that a memory can be brought to consciousness by external events that has not been held in conscious memory for very long periods of time. The phenomenon of PTSD suggests that memories being triggered by external factors similar to the unrecalled events can and does occur and has been very well documented. I have no problem saying that we don’t fully understand how memories work and how accurate such spontaneous recollections of previously unconscious memories might be. I have a BIG problem with one person telling another person such memories are false simply because they were forgotten (for whatever reason) and then later recalled. AND I have a big problem with someone telling someone they DO have a memory that they have NOT recalled as well!!! It is for the person having the recollection to judge how accurate or believable it is, absent any external proof regarding such recollections. The problem with the FMS concept is that it can very easily be used to invalidate the recollections of others that are NOT induced by bad therapists or malfeasant professionals. If a therapist is seen to have intentionally implanted or insisted on the presence of “memories” the client has never recalled, then I think “FMS” has some validity. But to say it is somehow “proven” that memory repression can’t happen is going WAY beyond where the science of memory can possibly take us today.

  • Richard McNally can say whatever he wants to say. “Recovered Memory Therapy” is a sham, and we all know that. But it does not follow AT ALL that “repression” does not exist. And there are certainly many in the “false memory crowd” who suggest that ANY memory that was not recalled all along is almost certainly false. One such post was approved (with provisos) just a moment ago and is in this thread for you to read.

    I still see absolutely nothing in your post to even distinguish the difference between a “spontaneous recall” of a previously unrecalled memory and a memory temporarily “repressed” under stressful circumstances that is later “spontaneously recalled,” let alone evidence that the former exists and the latter does not. It is not logical or scientific to deny that something happens in order to address unethical practitioners who choose to take advantage of their clients’ vulnerability by suggesting that they have “memories” which the clients have never originated having recalled. The latter should be handled by the criminal courts and by stripping such practitioners of their licenses. Their unethical behavior has NOTHING TO DO with whether or not a person can “repress” a memory in a moment of stress and then “spontaneously recall” such a memory at a later time.

    I will also counter your statement of “providing cover” by saying that the overreach of the concept of “false memory syndrome,” which properly applies ONLY to “memories” evoked or created by poor questioning or unethical acts by a therapist to implant memories the client has never said they recalled, has provided cover for people who have committed acts of abuse against children and yet can claim that their child’s recollection is a “false memory” in order to avoid the consequences of their criminal behavior. Surely, this should be as great a concern as therapists implanting “false memories” with poor technique or unethical attitudes toward profiting from creating upset in their own clients.


    I am allowing this post to stand, ONLY because there is already a reply posted that indicates that the case in question is not about a person who is posting here. I have already asked that people be VERY careful not to intentionally or accidentally invalidate the recollections of any person who is sharing their personal narrative. This kind of post is extremely dismissive and invalidating, and if it were in response to someone’s own story, could be extremely hurtful. PLEASE do not post anything that could call another person’s recollections into question! This is NOT a place where people should have to “prove” their personal stories are correct, and those who demand such “proof” will be moderated without exception, and may ultimately be blocked from posting if this kind of thoughtless behavior continues.

  • I think you are splitting hairs here. The big question is not whether someone can introduce false memories with poor questioning techniques or intentional manipulation – we all know this happens, and there are systematic trainings on how to question kids to avoid such events happening.

    The big question is whether memories can exist of which a person is not consciously aware, but which can come to awareness at a later time. If you call this “spontaneous recollection,” that’s your right, I suppose, but I fail to see any distinction between a memory a person files away to the “unconscious” file that can later be retrieved and the basic assumptions behind “repression.” Repressed memories, to me, would be memories that a person on some level becomes unaware of as a self-protection mechanism against being overwhelmed by pain or fear, or perhaps simply because they are unpleasant to recall. If those memories later become retrievable under less stressful circumstances, I think we have the full mechanism of “repression” in view, no matter what term you choose to refer to it. As long as someone isn’t “pulling” the memory out, I think “recovered memories” are a very valid phenomenon. Whether these memories contain all the information recorded with 100% accuracy remains debatable, but in the instance noted, a person is “triggered” to recall a memory of something that in all likelihood really happened. A lot of folks in the “false memory” school of thinking would question or deny that this memory could be a memory of a real thing that happened, and that I find to be a very destructive and unscientific viewpoint.


    I generally don’t remove moderated comments until the end of the month. At that time, it often occurs that a long string of “removed for moderation” comments appear at the same time. It is not the result of a change of policy, it’s just an administrative issue, based on the most efficient approach to saving copies of moderated posts before deleting them.

    Hope that explains things!

  • “Precision psychiatry” can start as soon as psychiatry is able to precisely distinguish between an “ill” person and a “well” person. And I won’t hold my breath that this ability will develop in my lifetime, or ever. Because there is no way anyone can establish with precision that someone’s emotional condition is specifically caused by a “mental illness” that is based on committee consensus and voting.


    A reminder that generalized comments about COVID-19 are going to be moderated at this point as “off topic.” The topic of the blog is whether or not those labeled “mentally ill” should be prioritized for the COVID vaccination. The wider discussion has led to deteriorating civility and increasing personalization of comments without contributing anything to the main topic, and also without much evidence that an actual exchange of information was going on. I apologize to those who are posting appropriate comments, but for the good of the community, this particular aspect of the discussion is closed.

    Feel free to make comments on the basic premises of the article.

  • I am glad to hear that you were able to heal, and I’ve known many who have been able to, probably a majority. But I have run into a number who seem to be set up now so that stopping the “antipsychotics” leads to massive “relapses,” and despite slow tapering and support, it seems they have now become dependent on these drugs for stability. Bob goes over the mechanism in his book, and it makes perfect sense. So I agree that keeping hope alive is critical to recovering from the “help” usually doled out by the psychiatric industry, but it does seem to become harder the longer one is on these (on the average), and there does seem to be some lasting damage that some folks are not able to shake, in my experience.

    The spirit, however, can always be healed!

  • I have no problem with “madness” as a self-description of a certain act or behavior – “I went mad!” Or “I had this mad idea…” I do see what you mean about it potentially becoming a counter-identity for someone being attacked or dismissed by psychiatry. I’m not sure I find that a bad thing – certainly better than kowtowing to the “authorities” and letting oneself be dismissed as “mentally ill.” But I can also see how it could still be viewed as accepting one’s “otherness.” In the end, I tend to agree that we’re all a bit “mad” in one way or another, and the distinction seems to fade away if it is viewed that way. Though it does provide a nice double-entendre, because we’re all freakin’ pissed at the system!

  • An excellent question. I do believe that self-healing has to happen before one can truly be of help to others in their struggle. What I hope we will work towards is communities of people caring about each other, as opposed to the “winner takes all” philosophy that seems to have the world it its grip right now. But this will mean challenging those who are benefiting so extremely from the status quo, and that will take love to a higher level of seeking justice for those we don’t personally know. It’s a big hill to climb!


    OK, Richard, you get the last word here. We are now going to stop any further discussion of the generalities of COVID. Further discussion on this thread will be focused on the particular question of COVID vaccine prioritization for the so-called “mentally ill.” Any divergent comments regarding the possible causes and general approaches to COVID not specific to the article will be moderated as “off topic.”

  • Does it seem completely outside the realm of possibility that the virus DID accidentally escape from the lab and that the people who run the lab didn’t want anyone to know about it? I am pretty surprised at your complete confidence in the authorities to always tell the truth, given your experiences in the world of “mental health” where the authorities lie through their teeth as a matter of course. It seems contradictory to say that you can’t say with certainty that COVID 19 was not a lab experiment gone wrong, and yet say a moment before there is “NONE, WHATSOEVER” evidence that this might have happened. I think there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that such a release is quite a strong possibility, even if is is not a proven fact.

  • Does your question mean that YOU think it is a GOOD idea to create extra-infectious deadly viruses in labs, trusting that ALL the human beings in charge will ALWAYS act with complete and utter security to make sure there is NEVER an accidental release? If anyone really believes this is a good idea, I think I have some farmland near Chernobyl that they might be interested in.

    It means the idea that somehow a coronavirus that is particularly virulent is coincidentally released just a few miles away from a lab doing research on making coronaviruses more virulent but that it is from bats at the local grocery stretches credulity well beyond comfortable bounds. Besides which, there is now some evidence emerging from China (via the US State Department) that some of the Wuhan Lab workers were ill with a flu-like illness just a few weeks before the huge outbreak was identified. I am by no means buying anything suggesting this is some kind of planned “plandemic” for some kind of nefarious but as yet vague plot of the Shadow Government to somehow obtain worldwide control by forcing everyone to wear masks or some such nonsense. However, history tells us that “High security” labs and the like are far from perfect, and escapes and leaks are not a rare phenomenon. Additionally, the Chinese have been quite protective of any information regarding this lab and how the pandemic got started. So while I can’t be certain of this, all the evidence leans toward the likelihood that this virus did, in fact, accidentally escape from the lab in some way. As the saying goes, “Never attribute to malice that which is easily explained by incompetence.”

    Even if the virus did not escape from the lab, the possibility of such escapes is certainly more than negligible, and the idea of creating viruses that COULD cause a worldwide pandemic as a means of PREVENTING a worldwide pandemic seems quite foolish, to say the least. This research was discontinued by the Obama administration for a very good reason. It needs to be stopped, permanently.

    I would appreciate it if you are a little more careful in your between-the-lines implications in your “questions” in the future.

  • I agree absolutely, modeling and education is what helps other people see the possibilities. As I said above, my only concern is that we need to go beyond the individual’s experience and work on system problems. I spent a lot of years advocating for foster kids, and despite repeated successes with individuals, saw the exact same situations arising again and again, because they were only responding to my or my CASA volunteer bugging them and pressing them to do the right thing, and never really learned why it was the “right thing” in the first place.

  • Oh, believe me, I agree with you completely, but it just can’t stop at the individual level, and we can’t allow those running the show to reframe all of this as “individual problems.” You know as well as I that the personal melds into the family which melds into the institutions we participate in which melds into the survival of the species as a whole. Each affects the other, back and forth, and I think that needs to be recognized for us to be successful.

  • You are probably right. I know of a few cases personally where the person had zero history of suicidal or homicidal impulses before the drugs. But I know from both research and direct personal conversations that the suppression of inhibitions is one of the cardinal effects of cranking up serotonin artificially. It is too consistent a report to be chance, according to my “inner p-value test!”

  • Although I think it is important to recall that this is not all about our individual abilities to empathize, listen, etc. There is also a very widespread lack of community connections that impact the most skilled communicators among us. There is more going on than a lack of individual skills here. It is, as they say, a “system problem.”

  • I am sorry if you thought I was referring to you when I said “beyond stupid.” I was referring to the authors of the DSM who make that claim, that if I’m not “over it” when my spouse dies within two weeks, I have a “mental illness.” It is the most absurd of many absurd things in the DSM.

    It appears you are simply defining “illness” as “distress.” I don’t define it that way. I believe there is plenty of distress that is natural and normal and healthy and not a part of any disease process. I also believe that calling these things “disorders,” as the DSM clearly suggests we ought to, prevents research and interest in actual physiological problems that may be in play.

    But it sounds like we are substantially in agreement on most points, except for that definition.

  • I don’t think we’re far apart here. You are choosing to define “illness” more broadly by far.

    Just for the record, I have never regarded SUFFERING as metaphorical in any sense, and I don’t believe I said anything like that. The problem with the term “mental illness” at this point is that it is used intentionally as a means of denying that suffering has any kind of meaning beyond messed up brain chemicals. The idea of the “mind” being “ill” in the same sense as the body is the metaphor we’re talking about here. Suffering is very real. Saying someone “is mentally ill” because they are suffering is metaphorical.

  • Dang, we need someone to try and refute it! Of course, the fact that they haven’t even tried means they know how badly they would lose if they did. They want to preserve their ability to con most people by allowing those who have the resources to fight to get away with it.

    What about a class action?

  • Do you realize that the bulk of those “homeless mentally ill” who are talking with themselves are either taking “psych drugs” or have taken them without any real success? Do you know that some people have reported BECOMING psychotic after taking psychiatric drugs when they had none before? Have you noticed that the number of such people has dramatically INCREASED in the years since psychiatric drugs became the “treatment of choice” for such people? If these drugs are so great, why are there more and more “mentally ill” people living on the streets?

    Were you aware that studies show that long-term use of antipsychotic drugs DECREASES chances of recovery? Were you aware that providing shelter for homeless people, with no other intervention, IMPROVES their “mental health” symptoms? Did you know that people are more likely to attempt suicide AFTER they leave the hospital than before?

  • I still don’t get why you don’t get what I’m saying here. There ARE physical illnesses that can be DIAGNOSED based on CAUSE. These are real illnesses/injuries of the BODY. They may cause what is currently called “mental illness symptoms,” but they are PHYSIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS that can be diagnosed as such. Would you say a person with low thyroid has a “mental illness” if they become depressed as a result? Is the child who is hyperactive because of disturbed sleep (sleep apnea or other sleep disruptions) “mentally ill?” Or do they have a physical problem that makes them act hyperactive?

    Compare this to someone who is depressed. Diagnosing them with “major depression” can be done without the slightest reference to cause. They could be depressed due to a head injury, due to domestic abuse victimization, due to having a dead-end job and no chance of promotion, due to feeling unable to pay one’s bills, due to the loss of a loved one or a pet, due to confronting the difficulties of aging, due to lack of sleep, due to wondering what the point of life is, due to anemia, due to Lyme Disease… you get the idea, I hope? The “mind” is not “ill” because a person feels depressed. They may be struggling with something difficult, but that does not make them ILL. Their body can be ill/injured in a way that affects their mind via their brain (which is a part of the body). But being depressed does NOT suggest any sort of “illness” that can possibly be defined! It’s kind of like saying I pick my nose because I have “nose-picking disorder.” It is completely tautological and means nothing at all. It CAN be used metaphorically (“I experienced psychic injury as a result of my abuse” or “I need to heal from my difficult childhood,”) but until someone can show me the location in the body of the “psychic injury,” it is a metaphor and not an “illness” in the medical sense.

    I think that is as clear as clear can be. I understand that “mental illness” is used generically to refer to any kind of emotional upset or reaction, but it’s obviously beyond stupid to say someone is “ill” because they feel sad that their dog died, or because they are anxious about asking a girl for a date, or because they find school boring. There is a clear and distinct difference between a physical illness that has emotional effects, and an emotional situation that has no physiological cause. If that’s not enough to explain it, I’ll have to just agree to disagree. It seems obvious to me that these are very different realities.

  • Of course, there is no actual way to objectively determine who “has bipolar illness,” so this provides a handy excuse to let the drug off the hook and blame the patient. I think it’s fair to say that suicidal and/or violent behavior can be caused by exposure to SSRI drugs, regardless of “diagnosis.” It may be that people with a “bipolar” diagnosis are more likely on the average to react in this way, though I have seen no scientific study ever done to prove this (and it would be difficult to prove anyway, as again “bipolar” is such a vague and subjective “diagnosis” as to defy any clear definition of who “has” or “does not have” such an ostensible “condition.”)

    I am not in the least inclined to let doctors and drug manufacturers off the hook by blaming their victims as being “bipolar.” If they don’t know their craft well enough to judge who will and won’t become suicidal taking SSRIs, then they ought to admit that up front and warn everybody of this possible danger, rather than trying to hide it for decades and then complaining when the FDA forced them to put it on the label, claiming that “lives will be lost” if we tell people the truth. Well, guess what, making people suicidal and/or homicidal loses lives, too!

    The hiding and denial of the adverse effects of SSRIs is one of the many heinous acts that prove psychiatry to be essentially a corrupt industry that is more interested in covering up their failure than in learning how to do their jobs better.

  • I am not saying that at all. I am saying that the legal definition is a SOCIAL definition, and that the legal system acknowledges the uncertainty and subjectivity of such judgments, and makes no claim to scientific verity (hence the need for a jury of 12 to make final decisions). The problem with psychiatrists in the legal system is that they claim to be able to KNOW who is and is not dangerous, who is and is not responsible, who is and is not aware of right and wrong, in some sort of expert or “scientific” way, such that other people’s judgment should be subordinated to them. It gives them WAY too much power, and is based on no actual knowledge that differentiates them from anyone else’s judgment, as has been shown again and again when the question of predicting danger or recidivism is concerned. Psychiatry has no right to claim expert knowledge of danger assessment or evaluation of a person’s state of mind at the time of committing a crime, because they as a profession have proven incompetent in such assessments. We are better off by far admitting that, and giving that latitude to the judges and juries who are appointed to make difficult, subjective judgments. Having psychiatrists in this role makes it way too easy for judges and juries to pass the buck and accept their judgments, rather than those parties having to personally wrestle with the difficult questions of capacity and safety.

  • It is true, the SSRIs most definitely can take away someone’s inhibitions, such that something which seemed horrible (I can’t kill myself, how would my mother feel?) can now seem acceptable, (“Ah, she’ll be fine, not my problem anyway…”) I had a friend once who called it “Zolofting” – where she simply didn’t care about what anyone or society thought about anything. This might seem like a relief to someone who was always worrying, but if someone was always repressing a desire to go on a shooting spree for fear of the consequences, it might not be such a great idea…

    Still, there are plenty of reports of people who had no suicidal and/or homicidal impulses beforehand contemplating these actions after being “medicated” with SSRIs. And in any case, removal of inhibitions is NOT the same as “providing the energy” to do something. It is an alteration of one’s moral compass, a muting or deletion of the sense of right and wrong. And it is pretty damned dangerous! Though I’m sure you’d agree with me on that last point.

  • My research into the subject supports Cabrogal’s assertions. The recidivism rate, at the least, for intrafamilial sexual abuse is dramatically lower than for extrafamilial abuse. This doesn’t of course mean for a moment that serial sexual abusers don’t abuse their own children, but I think if we’re talking statistics, this pretty dramatic differentiation should be noted.

  • “Insanity” as a legal principle grew up as a completely separate concept from “mental illness” in the psychiatric world. Psychiatrists have made every possible effort to co-opt this judgment, and I find this extremely problematic. There is no objective way to determine who “has” and “does not have” a DSM diagnosis. While the concept of “diminished capacity” and “awareness of right and wrong” can be executed in the legal arena without any “help” from psychiatrists. Psychiatrists need to get out of the legal arena, because their claims of being able to determine “legal responsibility” are not grounded in science or even in legal tradition. They are grounded mostly in fantasy and in social biases that have no place in courts.

  • I also want to note the subtle but damaging implication in the statement, “…you must accept the risk that the medications themselves will enable you to get up and commit suicide or harm others.” The word “enable” is the problematic term. It makes it sound as if the depressed person is lying in bed, thinking about suicide or murder, but only doesn’t kill people because s/he lacks the energy to do so. It buys into the mythological trope that the “antidepressants” are not themselves creating suicidal or homicidal impulses, but that depressed people are ticking time bombs just waiting for the burst of energy enabling them to act on their dastardly deeds.

    SSRI antidepressants, at the least, have been tested on non-suicidal people and a small but significant number of those become suicidal. THey were not “lacking energy,” they BECAME suicidal after taking the drugs. Similarly, these drugs were initially banned in Germany due to an increase in aggressive behavior in those taking the drugs. This information has been known for decades. Pretending that the “activation” of the SSRIs “enables” suicidal or homicidal people to act out their impulses is a false narrative created to absolve the SSRIs and their prescribers from responsibility for their known adverse effects.

  • I don’t want to seem impertinent, but I feel I need to ask one question: is it still “psychiatry” if it is focused on moving people through art and writing to change how we relate to each other’s suffering? That doesn’t sound like a “reform.” It sounds like an utter repudiation of everything psychiatry currently represents. Sort of like transforming a cannon into a flower planter. It’s not really a cannon any longer, even if it’s the same shape.

  • Just for the record, there are uses of the word “mad” (and I don’t just mean “angry”) that do not imply insanity. “Crazy” comes from the little cracks that appear in the patina of a glazed piece of pottery as it ages. So being “crazy” means having an interesting array of fine detail that transcends the original design.

    But I do understand what you’re saying. No one has to identify as “disabled” to attack the status quo.


    I am getting the very strong impression that this conversation is on the verge of escalating into a more personal one. I am not really seeing an exchange of views as much as an exposition of different positions, any of which have their perspective and reasoning behind them from the viewpoint of the poster. What I’m NOT seeing as much of is 1) exchange of statistical or scientific data or studies supporting one’s position; 2) personal stories to support the viewpoint being taken; 3) attempts by one “side” to understand where the other “side” is coming from.

    The original point of the article was not to debate COVID or even the safety profile of the vaccines released to date. The article is about whether or not it makes sense to prioritize/encourage/enforce vaccines for people “diagnosed” with “mental illnesses.” There are many issues that this raises, including the question of what message it sends to make this kind of “prioritization,” whether force is being contemplated, whether or not the vaccine interacts with psychiatric drugs, etc. I think we’d do better to focus our energies on those questions. I think everyone has stated their positions fully and with passion, and further discussion along these lines seems likely to deteriorate as it has in the past.

    If folks have actual articles, research, statistics to share, please feel free, but we really aren’t learning much by simply restating our positions louder and with more emphasis, and stating or implying that those who disagree with us are irrational or dangerous. Let’s either start listening and focusing on known facts, or get back to the topic at hand.

  • Perhaps I misread your comment. Good to know we’re on the same page.

    Though I don’t agree with your last statement. You are, I believe, referring to the “governmental” meaning of authoritarian. Being “Authoritarian” in my view does not require you to be the “authority” yourself. Every authoritarian leader requires followers who are unquestioning in their loyalty and allegiance to the leader. In fact, there are generally power hierarchies where the people at the top expect compliance from those beneath them, and those in the middle have to comply with those above, but get to order about those below, and it’s only those at the absolute bottom that don’t have anyone to dump on. To me, an authoritarian is anyone who believes in and subscribes to this kind of structure. As you can see, the key is unquestioning allegiance to those above you in the chain, and the absence of independent thought at anywhere in the hierarchy. Those who say that psychiatry must work “Because they are doctors, and they know what they’re talking about, and you aren’t, so I don’t care what you think” are as authoritarian as the psychiatrists that set up the system.

    “According to Adorno’s theory, the elements of the Authoritarian personality type are:

    Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs about right and wrong
    Respect for submission to acknowledged authority
    Belief in aggression toward those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking, or who are different
    A negative view of people in general – i.e. the belief that people would all lie, cheat or steal if given the opportunity
    A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power
    A belief in simple answers and polemics – i.e. The media controls us all or The source of all our problems is the loss of morals these days.
    Resistance to creative, dangerous ideas. A black and white worldview.
    A tendency to project one’s own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group
    A preoccupation with violence and sex”

  • Just to clarify: to assume that vaccines or any drugs are likely to present unknown dangers until proven otherwise is rational. To assume that all vaccines ARE unsafe or that the dangers out weigh the benefits REGARDLESS of actual evidence is irrational. I am not advocating for mindless acceptance of drug company or CDC assertions, as your post perhaps seems to imply. I’m arguing against automatically rejecting the possibility that something might be helpful based on past bad experiences with vaccines or drug companies or governments, or based on someone suggesting without evidence that there is some nefarious purpose behind such efforts and therefore not bothering to do one’s own research on the subject.

    In other words, I’m opposed to authoritarian approaches, regardless of who is the “authority.”

  • Because not all of them have proven dangerous. It is irrational to assume that even all drugs are dangerous without evidence one way or the other. I do think it’s wise to be SAFE, namely to assume it is LIKELY there are unknown risks of ANY intervention until proven otherwise. But SSRIs are of course a horrible example. They are factually known to be dangerous, and those claiming otherwise are just ignoring the facts. But it would be foolish to assume that any new drug that came to the market would automatically be dangerous just because SSRIs are dangerous. That doesn’t mean I’d take something just because it wasn’t yet PROVEN to be dangerous. It means I would be extremely cautious about taking a stand before I knew the evidence. I generally never take ANY drugs, largely because EVIDENCE suggests that drug companies don’t do safety testing and hide bad information from the public. But if I do need to take a drug for any reason, I do a thorough research of what is known about it, and have no problem whatsoever telling the doctor or pharmacist that I’m not going to do what they say I should, even if they get snide or condescending with me. In fact, I avoid doctors as much as possible, and use nurse practitioners or physician assistants instead. And I currently have the good fortune to have a naturopath as my PCP! So I’m not apologist for the drug industry, which you should know very well by this point. However, being rational means allowing that despite their history, the drug industry may develop some useful things from time to time, and I need to be open to that possibility, particularly when a whole society is being affected by this particular “viral phenomenon.” It doesn’t mean I assume they are not lying to us or pretending to know things they don’t, as I think I made VERY clear in my prior comment. It just means I don’t rule out the possibility that the vaccine may be an overall benefit without gathering actual data as to the pros and cons. Which seems to be just what you advocate for in your other post.

  • I want to be clear in my view that seeing all vaccinations as dangerous and ill-intended is foolish, but assuming that all vaccines are effective and benign and are intended to help is just as wrong. Each vaccine needs to be evaluated on its own merits. At this point, it does appear from what I’ve seen and read that the COVID vaccines are, in fact, generally effective in preventing infections. However, there has certainly not been enough time or research to determine what the long-term effects of these vaccines will be, and which people may have more severe reactions than the average. It also remains to be seen if those so vaccinated can still pass COVID to someone else (are they not able to be infected, or if they just become asymptomatic). It does appear that people with a history of allergic reactions may be at risk. There is also some suggestion, though this has not been studied, that older folks may be more likely to have adverse reactions.

    So it’s never a black and white thing. I’d welcome people submitting actual studies or epidemiological statistics on the pros and cons of this particular vaccine, but I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to either condemn anyone supporting vaccines as a fool or a dupe, nor is it sensible attacking anyone who expresses concerns about the lack of safety testing or long-term experience. We are doing a rather uncontrolled experiment here, and folks do have a right to do their own research, and are not obligated to automatically assume that “these vaccines are safe” just because the authorities say so. But I also think we do a large disservice to assume that the vaccines are dangerous or intended to harm without gathering data to actually support or refute that position. Again, just because someone says it’s true, doesn’t make it so. Let’s allow people to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, helped by whatever data and research can be shared with each other.

  • And when force IS used as a last resort, that does not excuse forcing “treatment” on someone regardless of their agreement and intentions. I believe detaining someone for a criminal act needs to be completely separated from any idea of “treatment.” “Forced treatment” by definition is no longer “treatment” at all. It is force.

  • How is “forgetting things and later remembering them” any different from “recovering memories?” My experience as a counselor who does not EVER try to tell any client what to think or believe about their own experience is that many clients have the vague notion that “something” happened to them but can not recall at all what that “something is.” Yet when a safe enough space is created, they feel OK about remembering the details, without any prompting from me. Did they “forget something and later remember it?” Did they choose not to be aware of the information that they knew had happened so they didn’t have to deal with the consequences? Should I automatically discount these recollections because they did not have them before?

    I used to have a vague recollection of my second grade teacher tossing a book across the room after yelling at us and shaking that book for some reason. I seemed to recall standing up in my seat, and then being out in the hall with another kid. That was it. I wasn’t really sure it had actually happened. It had a dreamlike quality about it. At my 30th high school reunion, I told this recollection to a classmate of mine. She remembered it really happening! She remembered me standing up in my seat and saying, “Miss Vaughn!” in an incredulous voice. She recalled her marching down the aisle, hitting me on the side of the head, and tossing me and Freddy Baughman out in the hallway. She even knew the name of the kid who was out there with me, which totally validated my recollection.

    After hearing this, I recalled more information about it – what Freddy said to me, going to the office, seeing the nurse who checked out my left ear (which would have been the one exposed to her right hand as she hit me). I still don’t recall being hit, but it all made sense and checked out with what she remembered, and she was completely certain about it happening. She had “forgotten” the incident as well until I mentioned it, but instantly recalled it in detail.

    So was my original haziness an indication that the incident was made up? Or that I had altered recalls? Do the additional tidbits I later recalled qualify as “recovered memories?” Or did I just “forget” and then “remember?” How on earth can anyone make that distinction? Who can possibly judge the accuracy and validity of these recalls besides ME, the person who was there? Of course, I will never know for certain exactly what happened, and it is possible that the details I recalled may be somewhat of an alteration of the actual events. But I have absolutely NO DOUBT that such an incident did occur, and that I had invalidated the reality of this recollection before getting validation and additional details from my friend Susan’s perspective.

    I find the act of inducing “recovered memories” based on some therapist’s idea of what “signs” they see in the client to be utterly reprehensible. If that happened to you or your family, you have all my sympathy. However, to extrapolate from “memories can be induced by unethical therapists” to “clients are not able to remember things they may in the past have chosen to forget,” is unforgivably unscientific.

    You are correct that “proving a negative” is particularly challenging for science. But just because science can’t “prove a negative” doesn’t mean the phenomenon does not exist. It just means we don’t know the answer. Practically speaking, I’ve found without exception that respecting the client’s recollections and perception of reality as their own, and respecting their right to create and modify their own narrative, is essential to any kind of effective therapy. Many people are suffering specifically because they have had their narrative invalidated or manipulated by others, including by unethical therapists. Each of us has to evaluate the quality of our recollections based on our own standards of judgment.

    Let’s not make the leap to invalidating someone’s recollections for our own comfort. Each of us is entitled to define our story, and it’s not you job or mine or any other person’s to tell people what is and is not true for them.


    I am not going to get into the semantics of what a “repressed” vs. “unconscious” vs. “forgotten” memory means. It seems like splitting of hairs to me. But I can state unequivocally that someone whose comment invalidated someone’s individual recollections/narrative would not be allowed to be published, so you would of course not read it. I trust you can read between the lines on this point.

    NOT posting as moderator, I believe there is a pretty massive distinction between saying “repressed memory therapy” is nonsense and probably quite dangerous, and saying that no one can bring an unconscious memory (whatever you’d like to call it) to greater consciousness and awareness. The two factually have nothing to do with each other. One is a method of ostensibly “helping” someone recover assumed “memories” at the insistence of the “therapist,” the other is an observation of a process of how we recall (or don’t recall) things that are in our past. I think it is fair to say that scientific research has thoroughly invalidated the first, but that the second remains as much a mystery as the nature of the mind itself.


    To be clear, this is NOT a response to andersone’s comment, I just put it here because I have to put it somewhere I think it will be read.

    I want to note here for everyone that this is a VERY sensitive subject, and folks need to be EXTREMELY careful what they say, in terms of how it might affect another person who is reading. There are many people posting on this site who have been abused physically, sexually, or otherwise, and it is absolutely their right to tell their own stories and have their own reactions and opinions to this essay. The main way “false memories” are implanted or altered is by a person in a power position telling the person they are working with what is/is not true and invalidating the clients’ own recollections and sense of “rightness.” Please, let us NOT do this to each other here!

    My read of the data is that 1) false memories CAN be implanted by poor technique by questioners, and 2) the question of whether “recovered memories” can happen is one that remains undetermined. As such, it is NOT going to be accepted by me as moderator for anyone to tell anyone else that their own memories are false or that recovered memories don’t exist. We need to respect that each person has the right to make their own evaluation on this question, which I believe is a question that actually goes well beyond what science can tell us today, and maybe will ever be able to tell us. Additionally, there are an unknown number of posters on this site who have already been TOLD by clinicians and family members, and in some cases even the courts, that their known, certain, clear recollections are “false memories!”

    So please, tell your own stories, share what research you have, but be very careful not to suggest or imply that others’ recollections and experiences are not valid!

  • Agree 100%. The whole subject and industry is corrupt from top to bottom. But that’s another reason that these DSM “diagnoses” are so dangerous – they allow the industry to continue the fiction that these drugs are “treating” some sort of “medical condition,” rather than prescribing them to suppress feelings/thoughts/behavior about which they have no rational understanding, nor any intent to come up with one.

  • I am sure that lots of people who have been forcibly psych “hospitalized” would give your approach a big thumbs up. I think you are missing the context of these comments that doing a better job of using less force and coercion and attending more to social conditions would be an IMPROVEMENT, but that it does not address fundamental issues of power and pretense of “scientific-ness” in the current model, that are both misleading and potentially dangerous.

    I once worked at a nursing home ombudsman’s office for the State of Oregon. I recall a home that was shut down and put into federal receivership still received over 80% “good” or “excellent” ratings. A lot of folks are willing to go along with whatever is offered and feel like if they’re treated with some level of respect, they’re AOK. They are generally unaware of the damage that may be done to others, and sometimes even to their own potential growth, because they’re doing what they’re “supposed to do” and they don’t know of any other way.

    There are any number of folks who post here who might in the past have given in-home treatment high marks, and only realized over time that the “treatment” wasn’t really helping or was making their lives worse. And like I said, it sounds WAY better (in most cases) than being locked up after being arrested by the police! I mean, who can’t see the relative advantages there! Yet the basic assumptions of the system, that people “have bipolar,” that they “need treatment,” that drugs “correct chemical imbalances” or some physiological/genetic problem, are all still there.

    So the question to me isn’t what your customer satisfaction ratings are, or whether “acceptance of treatment” is higher. The real question is what COULD happen to these folks if the current paradigm were scrapped and they were approached from a standpoint of people who have experienced difficult times and need support, rather than people who “have” a “disorder” and need to be “fixed?”

    I want to say that I do appreciate your efforts. But I would encourage you to listen a little more deeply to the feedback you are receiving, and don’t be so quick to dismiss it as people who “don’t understand” or “reject treatment.” I’d suggest you listen from a standpoint of saying, “These are people who report having been severely damaged by the system I essentially believe in and promote. How and when is this happening, and am I inadvertently contributing to this kind of event, even when I think I’m doing things right?”

  • I would agree with the “multiple cause” theory, and that overt or specific trauma is not required to fit the “criteria” a “mental illness.” Of course, the fact that someone “fits the criteria” means essentially nothing at all if the “diagnosis” has a wide array of possible causes.

    The main problem I have with these “diagnoses” (and others will raise other problems, I’m sure) is that they lump together people who have nothing else in common besides feeling, thinking or acting in a certain way and ASSUME that 1) all these people have something wrong with them, 2) they all have the SAME thing wrong with them, and 3) some form of “treatment” should help ALL of them “get better” in someone’s eyes. Of course, these “diagnoses” have absolutely no scientific validity at all, as Thomas Insel, the head of the NIMH, himself admitted years back. He said it’s like someone diagnosing “chest pain.” It is meaningless to make such a subjective and broad “diagnosis,” because it includes people who have literally nothing in common with each other besides a surface manifestation of some sort. It is not possible to conduct any meaningful research on a group of people who have no common trait. What would you be studying?

    As to “innate vulnerability,” I’ll go to an analogy. If 50 people got hit by a car at a certain intersection, and 35 of them broke their legs, would we be studying that group for a diagnosis of “weak bone disorder” and find out what kind of “genetic vulnerability” they had to their leg breaking? Or would we study the intersection or crossing and find out why it is that so many people are getting hit by cars there?

    Just for a little icing on the cake, the most optimistic estimate of the “genetic” contribution to any single “mental disorder” is well below 10%. Whereas people diagnosed with “schizophrenia” correlate with childhood abuse/neglect at an 80% rate or higher. Correlations between abuse and “anxiety” or “depression” are even higher. So the very idea that these “disorders” have a “genetic etiology” is over 90% mythology.

    One question to leave you with is this: If there is a less than 10% genetic component and a more than 80% environmental component, and the genetic component is the one thing in the equation that can absolutely NOT be altered by any means, why are 90% of the dollars spent on studying genetics and physical interventions and a paltry sum being spent on studying environmental effects and how to ameliorate them? I think the answer says a lot about the ostensible “objectivity” of the current system leaders, don’t you?

  • I agree. I’ve seen many articles on the high suicide rates among doctors, and there is not a single word about “chemical imbalances” or “genetics” or even DSM “diagnoses.” It is all about stress, burnout, loss of sleep, rough schedules, inability to maintain relationships, poor training… not a word about “mental illness” is raised. And the remedies are all about creating better working conditions, selecting for a wider range of personality traits, improving the training process, changing expectations. In short, changing the environment rather than blaming the person who has a hard time adapting to it. Why does this reasoning not apply to kids in school, or foster youth, or victims of domestic and sexual violence, or victims of racism, sexism, and other oppressive structures?

  • While there is no doubt that some people would find this approach far less oppressive, it does not reduce the power imbalance and the frequency of coercion or abuse. I’d say that a person who agrees to “voluntarily” be treated at home under fear of being forcibly “hospitalized” is in no wise voluntary. Additionally, if the recipients of these voluntary “services” are only offered biological interventions, or are forced to accept biological interventions as a part of the package, or are misinformed about the limited benefits and potential long-term costs of these interventions (including the very real possibility of a significantly reduced lifespan), or are not offered the full range of alternative options (including sending y’all away at the door), we are still dealing with degrees of coercion, and the “voluntary” nature of these services is undermined.

    Just a question: does your service tell those who are recommended to take antipsychotic drugs that they are risking shortening their lives by a decade or two by accepting this “service?”

  • How do you know she “had a mood disorder?” By how she acted? How do you know that how she acted was not simply a reaction to her abuse and oppression? What objective means do you have to distinguish who “has a mood disorder,” other than your own opinion or a subjective behavioral checklist?

    When I used to do hospital evaluations, I ran into many women who were diagnosed with “bipolar disorder” or “anxiety disorders” who were feeling suicidal or panicky. I asked every one of them about their current relationships and abuse history, and every one (except two who would not talk to me) shared horrible abuse that occurred when they were young.

    Maybe a “mood disorder” is no more or less than what happens to people when the stresses in their lives overwhelm their coping measures. In which case, do they have a “mood disorder,” or are they victims of a thoughtless and oppressive culture that continually puts people in a place where they can’t cope with the harm that they are repeatedly exposed to.

  • I totally agree! I’ll talk with anyone who wants to change things, no matter what they think the “new solution” is. Even those who are “reformers” are potential recruits for a more radical analysis. Heck, I was a “reformer” once upon a time! And we can work to get agreement with “reformers” on certain goals that will help in either purpose, like getting Miranda rights read to people receiving an “evaluation.” We need to generate power, and ideological purity isn’t a requirement to get things done.

  • Bright, bored, or troubled. Exactly.

    At this point, I often bring up the fact that there is NO evidence, despite 50 years of biased research LOOKING for such evidence, that “ADHD” drugs improve ANY long term outcome, including delinquency rates, academic test scores, high school completion, college enrollment, mental/emotional well being, social skills ratings, teen pregnancy rates, drug abuse rates, or even self-esteem ratings. A number of long-term studies suggest diminished functioning in one or more of the above areas. So we are exposing millions of kids to the risks of stimulants, including psychosis, mania, weight/appetite loss, reduced adult height, alterations in personality, and a small but not insignificant chance of heart damage or death, to name just some. And yet there is no evidence to suggest that these risks are associated with ANY long-term benefits at all, in any area.

    So WHO has the “mental illness” here?

  • I think that is an important distinction. The conceptualization of emotional distress as existing in the BODY of the distressed person is the central evil that psychiatry is based on. The rest is all footnotes to blaming the patient/client for their own suffering. If it’s in their bodies, then it’s not something the powerful (or anyone) in society needs to worry or think about.

  • I am aware that “mindfulness” is part of DBT, and a significant number of commenters on MIA have stated that they were coerced into doing “mindfulness” during DBT, or else suffering some kind of consequence from the group leader. While this is completely contradictory to actual meditation practice, it is being done, and frankly gives a very bad name to what I’ve found to be an extremely powerful and helpful practice.

  • Absolutely not. I’m always amazed that the same doctors who hand out drugs that demonstrably cause earlier death in recipients, and warn strenuously that taking large doses of niacin or vitamin C is dangerous, or that homeopathic stuff is a terrible hoax and waste of money.

  • I have seen brain studies on Buddhist monks who have meditated for decades. It indicates that the areas of the brain associated with calmness and focus are larger. Now that doesn’t mean that people being forced to “meditate” are going to see any benefits, and I’m guessing they probably are likely to be harmful in some cases. I do have serious doubts about actual brain damage occurring, but psychological damage seems likely whenever force or coercion is involved.

  • There are dupes who believe this is for the benefit of the “patient,” but these people are duped. The forces behind anti-stigma campaigns are not concerned with the welfare of the “mentally ill.” They are trying to protect and expand their markets. It’s true that NAMI feels like they are helping out, but they are funded to a very large extent by Big Pharma.

  • I don’t see awareness campaigns as “symbolic,” I see them as marketing schemes for the psych system. They are selling the idea that people have “mental illnesses” and that the system has solutions to these “mental illnesses” and that anyone who says otherwise is “shaming” the “mentally ill.” It has no other real function than to publicize and sell the concepts above, as far as I can see.

  • The “mental health” version of “mindfulness” was also appropriated from Buddhism and Hinduism, and as such, misses a lot of the substance of what “mindfulness meditation” is really about and what it is intended to accomplish. It’s not about breathing deeply to make us feel less anxious, even if it happens to have that effect. But anything spiritual seems to be anathema to the mental health industry, and in particular to most of the psychiatrists I’ve encountered.


    Just to be clear, there was never any kind of ban on the SUBJECT of COVID. The last conversation was shut down because of the tone of the participants, and the escalating personalization and attacking nature of the comments. Facts and experiences on any subject are always welcome to be discussed, as long as it is within the Posting Guidelines.

  • My point has nothing to do with the “learning” aspect of school. I always knew from the start that school was not about “learning,” it was about COMPLIANCE and HIERARCHY. Knowing your place. Dumping the shit downhill on the person on the next lower step. Not challenging the basic assumptions. Trusting the “authorities” to have the answers and subduing any independent sense of reality.

    The advantages of online school for me would have been

    1) No need to be with rude and obnoxious and bullying teachers all day. Having a mute button or the ability to walk away from the screen if they were abusive. Not having to stay in at recess because I talked to someone at the end of lunch. Not having my teacher be able to throw a book across the room and hit me on the head when I objected.

    2) No need to be with obnoxious and bullying peers all day. No recess sitting wondering if anyone would want to play with me. No having to stand by and watch when other kids were being abused.

    3) No need to get up at the wee hours and take the bus. ‘Nuff said there.

    4) Ability to proceed at my own pace on things without having to wait for the class to catch up.

    5) Plus, I could have gone to the bathroom without getting their freakin’ approval!

    Naturally, it is quite possible to make distance learning just as obnoxiously authoritarian as in-classroom school. But it would have made me feel a lot less anxious just to know I could be where I was and not be subject to the whims of the teacher and can turn my camera off at my discretion, even if they got mad at me. I’d have given a lot for those privileges.


  • I agree. The title should read, “Antidepressants can cause manic behavior in many who take them.” Honestly, from talking to a number of people who have taken them, I kind of think that’s what they do. For people who are really withdrawn or super anxious, it probably feels good as long as it doesn’t go too far. But I’ve never taken them myself, so I really don’t know. In all likelihood, different people have totally different experiences. Which is really not a good thing if everyone who “has depression” is encouraged/forced to take them.


    I am going to agree here that this has most definitely veered in too personal a direction. I think everyone has had a chance to make their points, and folks can go ahead and read and make up their own minds about it. Or better yet, visit the site and see what you think.

    At this point, I am not going to post any further comments along this line of discussion. It is apparent that there are personal feelings and disagreements here that are best resolved by individual conversations. I’m happy to connect people who feel the need to talk to each other via email, but for purposes of this discussion, we need to refer back to the content of the article, and any personal complaints or criticisms will no longer be published.

  • Psych “diagnoses” are opinions, every one of them. It is ridiculous to apply such a term to a so-called “illness” that is not objectively observable or determinable. Like saying someone who doesn’t acknowledge that they’re “cowardly” is suffering from “anosognosia.” There is a proper application of the term to a known, observable neurological problem that can be tested for and verified. Saying someone has “anosognosia” because they disagree with your opinion is about as far away from scientific as you can get.

  • I don’t expect him to. I don’t know of any politician, “liberal,” “conservative,” “independent,” or anything else, who has done diddly squat for the survivors/victims of the psychiatric industry. They mostly are partly owned by the pharmaceutical industry. But that’s kind of a weird question to ask in the context of my question. I just want to know if there is any initiative that I need to get my energy behind.

  • Additionally, since 90% or more of the funding goes to drugs, naturally, the only “evidence base” that exists is for the drugs. So anything else, except DBT apparently, can’t be considered “evidence based,” because the lack of financial incentive means no one has bothered to study it!

  • Right you are! What if he said, “Well, we don’t know what really causes depression, but microwave radiation from cell phone towers may play a role?” Everyone would be immediately (and appropriately) up at arms! Science doesn’t speculate, except in the formation of hypotheses. It makes zero sense to share hypotheses that are purely speculative as if they were somehow sharing some budding scientific discovery that is “just around the corner.”

  • “The authors emphasize that many intervention techniques currently available to relieve CMDs miss the mark. Tension exists between some orientations to intervention harbored by mental health professionals, and issues of access and effectiveness continue to compromise the impact of existing supports.”

    This is impressive double-speak! To say that an intervention “misses the mark?” Doesn’t that mean that we are spending money and time and energy on things that DO NOT WORK? If an engineer “misses the mark,” his bridge falls down and he gets fired! And tension between “some orientations” and “effectiveness” seems another way of saying that practitioners continue to insist on using interventions that DO NOT WORK!

    Sounds like job protectionism for the incompetent to me!

  • There were lots of “good people” who participated in atrocities in Nazi Germany, and lots of other places around the world. The Milgram experiment ought to have taught us all that years ago. “Good people” who don’t think for themselves are always vulnerable to being manipulated or “educated” into doing horrible things.

  • His behavior is consistent with a person lacking in ethics and willing to bully and harm others in the interests of pursuing his own goals. His speeches from day one appeared to be calculated to play on peoples’ fears and prejudices and to bring out the worst in terms of hatred and division between Americans. It was also clear from the people he hired and who traveled in his circles that he had criminal connections and engaged in his own personal forms of corruption. Not to mention the constant lying about everything, and his tendency to turn violently against his “friends” as soon as they said or did something he found threatening or even disagreeable. I didn’t even consider his personal life, though of course, it is totally coherent with my observations that he is selfish and bullying and corrupt. (Paying off prostitutes to keep quiet? Cheating on his wife? Bragging about grabbing women’s private parts?)

    As to the insurrection, he started telling everyone back in March or April how the election was going to be “corrupt” because of “fraud” due to voting by mail. It was obvious that this was going to be his backup strategy in the likely case that he lost the election. It became more obvious in the summer how desperate he was, as COVID raged and his popularity ratings tanked. The hiring of a postal service head who intentionally slowed the mails showed just how lacking in any kind of ethics he was. The civil suits aimed to make sure that the mail-in votes (likely to be heavily Democratic due to his previous lies about the unreliability of mail-in votes) were counted last were a pretty obvious ploy to make it look like he was ahead at the start and have Biden catch up later in the evening, leaving him free to claim “victory” before all the votes were counted and to claim “fraud” and being “cheated” out of his supposed victory by those evil mail-in ballots. The eventual end game was for him to inflame his supporters to go to bat to keep him installed as “President for Life” regardless of the electoral count.

    So yes, it was utterly predictable that something of this sort was part of the plan. The “stand by” message to the right-wing militias should have made it obvious to anyone whose eyes were open.

  • Actually, according to quantum mechanics, all matter has both a wave and a particle aspect. The wave aspect of large, solid objects is so small as to be negligible, but when you break it down to a molecular/atomic level, the chair you’re sitting on is a particle/wave phenomenon, and there is an infinitesimal possibility that it could suddenly become empty space and you’ll fall on the floor on your butt!

  • I am actually working on a comedy routine and am ready to roll it out for the public as soon as “open mic night” is back in operation. I call it, “Intelligent design.” I agree with folks that design by a Creator is a reasonable position to take. But then I ask the question, “If we were designed, I have to ask – how intelligent is it?” Of course, psychiatry is going to have a place in the routine at some point.

  • That is my feeling. A person should be removed from office based on their inability/unwillingness to execute the duties of the office with integrity. Corruption, neglect, malfeasance, poor judgment, dishonesty for personal gain, these should be the things that are considered. Behavior, not “diagnosis,” is what matters.

  • There is no data indicating that psychiatrists or psychologists are any better than anyone else at determining levels of dangerousness than the average Joe on the street. And there are plenty who are “diagnosing” him at a distance.

    And BTW, I do consider him very dangerous.

  • I would say that true science has helped accomplish a great deal in terms of technology and knowhow. You can’t program a cell phone or create an electrical grid or fly a plan without science. However, what PASSES for science these days is often corrupted, either by money or desire for status, or the need for society to have “answers” to questions that science can’t address. Psychiatry is NOT a science in any sense of the word. It masquerades as a science and pretends knowledge that it does not have.

    This doesn’t mean a true scientific approach can’t be taken toward human beings. It means that science has to be honest about what its findings are. For instance, 50 years of genetic research has failed to indicate any genetic basis for any “mental illness” identified. This ought to be considered proof that “mental illnesses” don’t have a genetic origin. But this result is not accepted. In fact, psychiatry fails from day one in being a science, in that its terms are not definable by any objective means. If you make up “diagnoses” without any reference to objective observation and measurement, any claim to being “scientific” are already out the window.

  • And so what? If they actually had something worthwhile to offer, it might be worth some risk of offending people or risking some false positives to get them some information. But they offer hopelessness and dependence on life-threatening, soul-flattening drugs that may or may not even work to “reduce the symptoms” of a “disorder” (and may in fact bring about the very “disorder” they’re supposed to address) that there is a 50-50 chance they won’t even develop??? Are these people serious????

  • Wow, is this only the 100th time or so that this finding has been made? Maybe we need to spend 20 more years testing to REALLY make sure that there isn’t the SLIGHTEST correlation…

    They are saying that psych research has a “replication problem.” Maybe that’s because they’re framing it wrong – they DO get replication again and again that their hypotheses and theories ARE WRONG. But since it doesn’t validate their preconceived prejudices, they consider it “failure to replicate” instead of the clear and repeated replication that their hypothesis holds no water.

  • As I read this, I think you’re both right. The DSM is, by design, not based on understanding of “mental health” (whatever they claim it to be), nor is it intended to heal anyone. It was originally a billing manual. But the use of the DSM is determined by people who don’t really want to help. So it is evil because it enables abusive “mental health treatments,” but it enables those because it is designed by people who are actually committed to making sure no one gets better.

  • It certainly does provide all the “cover” needed to do lots of disguised harm and have people believe you know what you’re doing. And the DSM III forward were designed specifically to allow psychiatrists to pretend they were doing “science.” There are no doubt many ways to screw our fellow humans over, but there can be no doubt that the DSM exists for the purpose of making the whole psychiatric worldview/deception viable.

  • There is every indication that the very fact of being “diagnosed” leads to stigma, particularly to the degree that such “diagnoses” are associated with biological explanations for the “diagnosed” person’s suffering. It is built into the psychiatric system – the system itself stigmatizes those it serves as a matter of course. The only way to avoid this kind of “stigma” is to develop a different system.

  • The “free market” is a scam. There is no “free market” today. Even Ayn Rand agreed that “free markets” require a way to avoid monopolization. Real “Free markets” exist only in a social context, where there are rules of competition that are either agreed upon or enforceable. They seem to work well in smaller communities where there are direct and immediate consequences for mistreating community members. But to think that today’s corporate grift and corruption even vaguely approximates a “free market” is a joke. Most of those objecting to “regulations” really just want the regulations that keep them from risk-free profits to be eliminated, and love the regulations that protect their market share. There is a sociopathic drive to “profit” regardless of the social effect, or even the legitimacy of the product, as psych drugs definitively prove. The Koch Brothers, supposedly super-advocates for the “free market,” advocated for increasing taxes on rooftop solar in Oklahoma the minute it started threatening their profits. This kind of thing happens all the time.

    I agree that complacency is a huge part of the problem. Unfortunately, a lot of complacency is disguised apathy by people who don’t see any way to “win” or even break even in the current economic structure. The “criminals on the planet” are running the show, whether through manipulating/corrupting government officials, controlling media messages, undercutting or buying out the competition, destroying small farms/businesses with the assistance of the government, and so forth. How much can even the most vigorous individual do against the evil of Novartis or Monsanto? To challenge this requires organized resistance, no matter how spiritually aware and capable the individuals are. Where does this organizational energy and MONEY come from?

  • Well, I don’t disagree. I think Sanders said “AT LEAST” they should be able to afford to live, and the fact is, people making minimum wage and even well above minimum wage do NOT have enough income to feed and shelter themselves and their families. Clearly, that is a VERY low bar, and yet we fail to achieve it. So yes, something is drastically wrong with a system that values real work so poorly and yet rewards screwing around in the casino of Wall Street producing NOTHING of value so well. Better pay and fewer hours for everyone should be goal #1 to help create a better society. People shouldn’t have to work three jobs to make ends meet when others make $10,000/hour or more. But try to tell that to those benefiting from the status quo.

  • I think you get my drift. People should be paid relative to their contributions. There is no “law” to determine this – it is a matter of personal and group ethics, a subject that sorely needs more study and commitment, obviously. So I agree, spiritual growth is at the center. We don’t need a society where some group enforces the rules on value of work, we need a society where those who are in management recognize and reward the contributions of those who contribute well, or better yet, a collective-type workplace where the group agrees on what people get paid for what work. But that takes emotional/spiritual work and courage, and that seems in short supply in our industrialized, corporatized society.

  • I think the point here is not that we should just give people money. It is that the stress of economic poverty is a huge causal factor in “mental illness” as “diagnosed” by the DSM. Creating a plan to deal with poverty will improve “mental heath” more than an army of therapists ever could. To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, anyone working a full time job should be able to make enough money to pay for food, shelter and the basic necessities of life. So, people should get more money as compensation for the valuable work they are already doing. If this were the case, “mental health” would improve dramatically, as well as the economy expanding due to more people having disposable income. No “communism” necessary!

    Or course, the “mental health” industry will object to any such efforts, as they will lose clients and income. But we can come up with re-education programs to train them to become more productive contributors to society. And those rich criminal types (not all rich people, but a large subset who are getting paid lots for doing little) who are skimming money off the top while producing little to nothing will, of course, object strenuously, but what do we expect from non-productive criminals?

  • In other news, death threats are noted to increase anxiety, and permanent incarceration in a dungeon without charge or hope of release has been linked to depressed mood. It is noted that not all respond to death threats with anxiety, and is postulated that this reaction is due to a chemical malfunction in the region of the amygdala which amplifies the fear response. Of course, those who don’t experience increased anxiety score high on tests of psychopathy, but hey, it seems like psychopaths are better equipped to deal with direct threats to their welfare, which is quite adaptive when confronting other psychopathic killers.

  • The only point I’d disagree with is your use of the terms “contamination and degradation” in regards to psychiatry. Psychiatry was already contaminated and degraded plenty long before neoliberalism arrived. I’m sure they were absolutely thrilled to meet each other, as psychiatry as an institution was already committed to the goal of making money and maintaining the status quo, whatever the cost to its patent base, and they have proven a perfect support for Neoliberalism’s most damaging premises, without having to modify themselves in any way.

  • If the car itself had a flaw which only occurred in one car in 100, but that one driver got killed, I’d care a lot about that, and the fact that you had no trouble with your car would not convince me that the car did not pose a danger to drivers. I hope that distinction is clear. The assertions here are not that someone had an accident with the car, but that there is an “intermittent” problem with the car itself that most people won’t see, but those who do see it can be seriously harmed. This is a very real problem seen frequently in psychiatry. Only one person in 20 becomes psychotic on stimulants at normal dosages, but those 1/20 can be severely impacted. Only perhaps one in 200 have a violent outburst due to being on SSRIs, but those small few include murderers. Should we not tell people that this is a risk, even if the risk is small? It is not reasonable to minimize or dismiss real risks just because they don’t happen that often. The stories being told tell me that such risks are very real and should be taken into account as a person considers this treatment, even if some people choose not to risk it as a result.

  • Posting as moderator:

    As I said before, I expect people to respect that others’ experiences are valid. That goes both ways. It sounds as if some are experiencing your comments as invalidating the experiences of those who have had different experiences than you. It sounds like you have felt the same way about others’ comments. That’s what I am concerned about.

  • Interesting. What are these perceived “barriers to implementation,” and from whom do they come? It seems to me that almost any patient would be foursquare behind being actually told the truth and being consulted before agreeing to a treatment plan. It seems to me that the only barriers to implementation have to come from the rigidity of authoritarian practitioners who want their patients to blindly follow their dictates and are afraid that telling the actual truth will lead to pesky difficulties like the patients actually discovering that these “professionals” don’t actually know what they’re talking about.

  • Posted for KindredSpirit:

    MissDolittle, of course, TMS *can* help people because that’s how the placebo effect works. What hasn’t been demonstrated is that the help you believe you got from your treatment should somehow have more weight than the stories of harm from those who were not helped by this treatment. There will always be people who feel that TMS or ECT or psych drugs helped them. There will always been people for whom these treatments were neither helpful nor harmful. But we also have to sit with and reconcile the pain from those who’ve been deeply harmed by these treatments.

    You seem to think “screw you, I’ve got mine” is a reasonable response to someone else sounding the alarm about the damage these treatments have and continue to cause to people who weren’t as lucky as you.

    You haven’t done anything to prove the efficacy of TMS, only your lack of compassion.

  • I am concerned when you say you don’t care what anyone else says. TMS may have worked for you AND harmed others. Does it not concern you that others may have been harmed? Does it invalidate your success that other people may not have experienced the same thing? It is OK that you found it very helpful and other people found it unhelpful?

  • Commenting as moderator:

    I am not speaking to a particular poster in saying this, but I think it needs to be said.

    I think this discussion will be a lot more productive if each person allows that others may have had different experiences, and not try to “explain” how other peoples’ experiences have happened. I think we need to respect that different people experience the world differently, and the fact that something “works” for one person does not mean the other person’s experiences are not due to the “something” that person one feels like works for them. Or vice-versa.

    It seems to me that the science on TMS is not very well determined, and the “science” on “mental health” is almost completely absent. So we’re going to get into different opinions and experiences, and that’s OK. Especially when dealing with something as amorphous as “depression,” there is no reason to believe or expect that any two people will have the same experience just because they’re both feeling “depressed.”

  • I fully acknowledge not knowing what these things mean, mostly because I don’t think they mean anything specific, but are simply descriptive syndromes that don’t really hang together in terms of cause.

    As for politeness, I find it perfectly viable to be both polite and firm. Of course, there are people who won’t respond to politeness, but that’s no reason to toss it out in every single case. There are plenty of people who will listen better if the person speaking doesn’t start off being presumptuous and offensive. I save that for those who don’t seem to be capable of hearing things presented more rationally. Which, admittedly, is a lot more common in this particular field of endeavor.

  • I have a hard time thinking there can be a unitary cause for psychosis, since we know that it can be caused by things as disparate as several days of no sleep and excessive stimulants and childhood sexual molestation and living in an urban environment. But I’m interested to hear – what does Jung say is the cause? I have read some of Jung’s work but this one has not come to my attention. And any explanation that gets away from brain-blaming seems very worth considering to me.

  • The point of putting quotation marks around “psychosis” is not to deny such experience exists, but to take away the implication that “psychosis” is a “thing” that can be viewed as a unity. It’s an experience that has many potential causes, which have been lumped together into one purported entity for purposes of making money and saving the trouble of having to seek out the actual causes.

    Tell you what – I won’t correct your language in the future, and you don’t correct mine. If you wonder why I’m using a particular convention, maybe you could ask instead of assuming and telling me my own reasons? It would seem a lot more polite to me.

  • If I had a repair manual for a lawnmower and tried to apply it to an airplane engine, you’d be pretty disturbed if I said, “If somebody has something better…” you’d think that I was pretty stupid or unethical. Either the model works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, you work on developing a new model. You don’t continue using the model that doesn’t work, and you especially don’t claim that the principles of this model apply to the situations where we know they do not apply.

  • I agree 100%. There are the intentionally evil, a small cadre in charge, and a lot of dupes or petty tyrants who go along with the program. None of it is designed to assist those receiving the “aid.” There are many things that can be done which are not conceived or are actively suppressed by the “mental health authorities” because they disturb the larger agenda of making money and keeping people from gathering together to protest.

  • Actually, I don’t think you get what I’m saying. I’m not suggesting that “lived experience” per se automatically gives one natural authority. It is based on one’s competence in accomplishing the tasks at hand. And you’re right, hierarchy does seem to be a natural outgrowth of human groups. I’m saying that the optimum situation is where the official “authorities” conform as best they can to natural authorities, and that such authorities that do exist in the hierarchy respect the fact that their position does not preclude someone else knowing more than they do about a subject, and that the ostensible “subordinates” don’t assume that the authorities automatically know what they’re doing.

  • I find the ability to temporarily step out of one’s own biases is helpful to making rational decisions. But I agree, engagement is inherently subjective, and trying to permanently remove subjectivity is a road to a dark place.

  • I would say that I DO respect professional expertise whenever it is demonstrated. The problem is, a doctorate is neither necessary nor sufficient proof of “professional expertise.” I’ve know PhDs and MDs who were so incompetent and/or malfeasant as to be extremely dangerous, and I’ve known volunteer crisis line counselors who were incredibly capable and successful in helping their charges consistently and effectively. I don’t really see a direct relationship between training and professional expertise, especially in the “helping professions,” and the pretense that such a relationship exists is part of why the current system fails so badly. I mean, why would someone trained as a medical doctor be expected to have ANY expertise in helping people with emotional/spiritual/behavioral problems they might identify? Let alone the expertise to “diagnose” such people according to the subjective and largely arbitrary rules of the DSM? It’s kind of like hiring a plumber to repair your car.

  • I meant in a large public forum like the WSJ. I know there are plenty of people (like me) who don’t think getting an advanced degree confers some special status on you that entitles you to a special name. But purposely writing an article in a national journal saying that someone shouldn’t be called “doctor” specifically because they’re the First Lady smacks of sexism to me.

  • As to whether it is “sexist” or not, I think the question to ask is, have you ever heard this kind of argument being used to tell a man not to call himself “Doctor?” And how would it fly if a high-ranking male cabinet member were called “kiddo?”

    It is, at best, intentionally demeaning. Of course, I don’t call my doctors “Doctor X” anyway, so she wouldn’t be getting that honorific from me, but I wouldn’t try to rub it in by writing an article or do a TV bit about it!

  • I guess it depends who is stating the dangers. It may be that detractors overstate the risks, but it is clear to me that the psychiatric profession understates them, to the point of violating their own ethics of “informed consent.”

    Again, I’m glad that it worked well for you. But I have talked to many people whose lives were destroyed or severely damaged by ECT. My point is that it makes logical sense that since seizures can and do cause brain damage, ECT would pose a risk of brain damage. It is the responsibility of psychiatry to evaluate this risk, or else acknowledge that the risk exists. This does not appear to be happening with the people I’ve talked to or read about.

    Notwithstanding that scientific reality, there is plenty of evidence that brain damage can and does occur as a regular effect of ECT. The existence of such evidence should in itself be sufficient to insist on a serious warning that this is a significant danger.

    From one internet search:,or%20degree%20of%20brain%20damage. (this is a very pro-ECT article which identifies long-term memory loss and brain damage in a significant number of cases)

  • So it is possible that “Autism,” whatever that is, is simply a combination of high intelligence and certain personality characteristics? Yet there are plenty of “autistic” people who have lower IQ, correct? So are those people “Austistic”? Or are they something else?

    Perhaps we can just go with describing people’s behavior instead of having to slot them into “categories” that limit our ability to see the differences between them?

  • I appreciate your thoughtful reply.

    I truly have no problem with social sciences, as long as they learn to limit themselves to actual observations and understand the problems of variable control that are so prominent.

    Let’s take the “ADHD” diagnosis as a very simple example. We can look at a classroom and say, “Wow, there are some kids who do really well in this classroom, and others who do poorly.” That is an observation. We can say, “A certain subset of those who do poorly seem to have characteristics in common – they have difficulty sitting still, they seek out constant stimulation, they seem impatient with the process, interrupting the teacher and so on, and they don’t like to do exactly as they are told.” These are still legitimate observations.

    We stop doing science when we say, “Those kids who don’t do well in the classroom have something wrong with them.” We are now in the realm of judgment and behavioral control. I suppose we could continue with the assumption that behavioral control is our goal, and then scientifically study better ways to control behavior. But that decision, that behavioral control is the goal, is in no way scientific, even in the very loose social sciences sense.

    If we REALLY want to be scientific, we’d have to break down the classrooms into groups. We’d have to do backgrounds on the groups to see if the ones who hate it have anything in common, and if the ones who tolerate it have anything in common. We may find that the majority of the tolerant group ALSO hate being there, but simply have more skills to cope with feeling oppressed. But maybe that means THEY are the ones with the problem! “Over-accommodation Disorder” could be attached to them, and we could give them drugs or do behavioral training to make them LESS compliant and tolerant of oppressive environments!

    Of course, the question of whether the environment is “oppressive” or not is social and political and not at all scientific, either.

    And we could go on, but I think you get the idea. As soon as VALUE JUDGMENTS get involved, we are leaving the path of science. We can observe behavior and even draw conclusions based on these observations, but what we decide these conclusions mean about how we as humans should act is very much outside the realm of science, and always will be.

    It is also valuable to recall that science is a subcategory of philosophy. So something can be philosophical within the boundaries of science, but if it is a “mix” of science and higher level philosophy, then it’s really no longer science, strictly speaking.

  • I think we’ve both made our points. I’m guessing we’d actually agree closely on what should be done to help people with perceptual or behavioral differences, and I certainly have never claimed in anything I said that biology does NOT impact behavior or perception – I actually said the opposite several times, as I recall.

    The only point I am making is that claiming neurological SAMENESS of people who don’t happen to stand out as “different” does not make scientific sense. We have close to zero idea why people act the way they do. All we know is that certain patterns to emerge, and that expecting people to simply change their perceptual or behavioral style because it’s inconvenient for others is rather oppressive. I am encouraging us to focus less on whose brain is more “different,” and more on how we can help people whose behavioral/perceptual/personality styles don’t fit our largely arbitrary social expectations can find their place in our social system. If someone has to have a “diagnosis” or a “spectrum” identity to be considered worthy of special consideration in this regard, we are leaving millions and millions of kids behind just because they happen to be better at adapting to irrational and oppressive conditions than others.

  • I say “seizure” because that is exactly what ECT does. This question is not in the slightest dispute, even amongst the most fervent supporters. The very idea, as I recall, came because they found that people hospitalized for psychotic episodes were less psychotic after having a seizure. They used to induce seizures by drugs like Metroconazole (I think). The whole point of ECT is to induce a seizure.

    I am not “angry” at ECT – I am angry at psychiatry for pretending they don’t know what the limitations and dangers of ECT really are. I’m glad you found it helpful. But I can’t allow the claim that no one has proven that ECT does damage to the brain stand. It is a basic tenet of science that the person making a claim is responsible for proving the claim – the “null hypothesis” (that there IS no effect) is assumed true until proven otherwise. If you’re trying to prove something has a positive effect, the assumption is that it does not, until proven otherwise. If you’re trying to prove that something which reason would suggest is unsafe is safe, the assumption is that it is NOT safe until proven otherwise by the data. Otherwise, I can claim that “cars are run by angels” or that “sleeping in the rain without a coat at 35 degrees F is safe” and you’d have to prove that cars are NOT run by angels, or that sleeping outdoors in a 35 degree rainstorm without a coat is unhealthy. In the case of ECT, reason would suggest that a grand mal seizure is dangerous, so it’s the promotor of ECT who has to prove it is not.

    The smoking industry and drug manufacturers in general apply the reverse approach – they say, “No one can prove that cigarettes cause cancer. We don’t have to say it can until someone proves it does.” As you can see, this is not “science,” it’s a form of marketing, and the same kind of BS marketing has been done in favor of ECT.

    The following article may illustrate my points:

    As you can see, ECT induces seizures, and there IS evidence of brain damage. But again, it is not the job of critics to prove it ISN’T safe, it is psychiatry’s job to prove that, despite the logical conclusion that seizures can and do induce brain damage, the process of ECT somehow is exempt from this general expectation.

    As you can see below, no one in the medical field outside of psychiatry pretends that seizures are not potentially dangerous to the brain. Why ECT should magically be different is theirs to prove, and they have not even attempted to do so. They just say it isn’t and dare others to prove them wrong, just as the cigarette manufacturers did for decades.

  • I agree 100%. But for some reason, this kind of argument flies over most people’s heads. Whereas pointing out that there is no evidence of long-term benefits almost always has some “bite.” Some people get upset about it and try to tell me I’m wrong, others are shocked, but a small few are induced to explore the question further. I’m afraid the idea that “ADHD” exists is too firmly planted in the minds of at least US society that pointing out its spurious nature seems to induce too much “cognitive dissonance” for most people to handle!

  • And as I said, we are now getting into philosophy, not science. While stating that “all things have a cause” is pretty solid scientifically, the assumption that cause is always biological is a philosophical one, that is often presented as “scientific” (in fact, people are often accused of being “unscientific” when proposing other philosophical positions), but actually in no way proven by any scientific means, and in all likelihood unprovable by such means. We get into a discussion now of what is the MIND vs. what is the BRAIN. The position you present is a “materialist” position, that all causes must be material in nature, and therefore changes in the mind must be caused by something in the physical universe. Yet there are traditions of thousands of years duration that place the mind as transcending the body but being in charge of running it, and would see the brain as more of a “switchboard” used by the mind/spirit to run the body. Less esoteric ideas include the idea of “emergent properties,” in other words, the physiology of the body creates an effect that then is able to act on the physiology itself. It seems pretty clear to me that humans can do a lot to control their bodies, including their brains. Biofeedback and meditation are two examples. There is also the science of epigenetics to consider, which falls within the purview of materialism, but allows that environmental changes are able to change the way the body works and what genes are expressed or muted or turned off.

    So the idea that the brain is the causal factor of all phenomena of the mind is not something I would automatically accept. I have no interest in denying either the very real experience of being a “different” person in a world that ACTS as if there is some “normal” we should aspire to (I am such a person myself, as you might surmise.) I also don’t deny that biology may play a significant role in such differences. I see the problem more in society’s unwillingness to recognize or accommodate to the factual existence of such differences, whether they are obvious or subtle or disguised by the person pretending to be “normal.” I doubt you’d disagree with my last statement, given what you seem to be doing.

    So you ask some excellent questions. They are just more philosophical questions than scientific.

    As a closing example, let’s suppose for the sake of argument (and I suspect that there is some truth to this) that a certain percentage of the population is biologically predisposed to hate sitting still and is very intolerant of boredom and is constantly seeking stimulation. We put children with these characteristics into a standard classroom, and they act out and get into trouble and are extremely unsuccessful. Is the problem that the child is “too active” and “unable to focus” (even though they seem to focus just fine on things involving big movements and interesting experiences)? Or is the problem that the classroom is too dull and rigid and unable to accommodate the needs of these children?

    Not a scientific question. It’s a philosophical one, and a very good one, especially when one makes the scientific observation that children of this personality type do quite well in an open classroom setting where they can set more of their own agenda. We can study these kids in different environments and observe what happens scientifically. But deciding what it means transcends science.

    Again, I do really appreciate the work that you’re doing. I’m sure it would have been a big relief to me as a kid to know I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t so “weird” as I thought. I fully support those efforts. I just don’t want to concede that there is some “normal” neurological configuration that “normal” people have and that we need to only accommodate for those who diverge far enough from this purported “norm” to stand out. There are plenty of “normal” kids in any classroom who are in intense pain and hate every minute of their experience, yet are able to act “normal” as a performing seal might in order to keep their masters happy and less dangerous. I was one of those kids. I could pretend to “fit in” and do what was expected of me, but I was miserable for 12 1/2 years of school. Was I really neurologically “normal” because I could accommodate? Was I neurologically “abnormal” because it was painful to accommodate? Or were the adults simply unreasonable to expect children to comply with such an oppressive system?

    I vote for #3! But science can’t answer that question for us.

  • The question isn’t whether “being autistic” is the cause, it’s whether brain alterations are the cause of “being autistic.” It sounds like there is some evidence in a number of spheres that differences in brain operations, aka how the brain is USED by the person running it, between different groups. But we walk down a VERY slippery slope when we assume without scientific evidence that these differences are necessarily structural or causative.

    The following link shows how imagination can cause changes in brain imaging that mirror real experiences. This demonstrates the power of the individual to alter his/her own brain operation, which to me tells us that there is no way to causatively link brain images to structure – they are simply different measurements that in most cases have little to nothing to do with each other.

    I don’t mean to try and refute that there are people who experience the world differently from the “average” person. I just don’t see at this point any means to objectively distinguish between them. I much prefer to look at it as a human problem – how do we as a society deal with the inevitable differences in needs and skills and preferences that will exist in even the most homogeneous group or community.

  • At the risk of repeating myself, it is not the responsibility of critics to present evidence that inducing a grand mal seizure through electrocution damages one’s brain. It is the responsibility of those claiming therapeutic effects to prove that inducing a grand mal seizure through electrocution does NOT damage one’s brain. We all know that seizures are dangerous and can produce brain damage, which is why people with seizure disorders are immediately put on anti-seizure drugs. Why would we imagine that an intentionally-induced seizure would somehow NOT create brain damage?

  • I get that. But your definition is philosophical, not scientific. There is no objective way to distinguish your two groups. It is a judgment call, which I think is why the term “spectrum” was introduced. I have no objection to philosophical definitions per se, I just object to them posing as scientific ones. You have proposed no specific neurological “structural differences” nor presented any evidence of such. The burden of proof falls to those claiming there is some way to distinguish these groups neurologically, and I have seen nothing that meets even a very loose standard of proof. What I hear is that certain people tend to behave in certain ways, and that some people believe these differences are neurological in nature, but no one can show what the difference is. The definition is entirely based on subjective assessments how people act, feel and think (as all psychiatric “diagnoses”) and so falls into the category of philosophy. I see no scientifically valid entity of “autism” that can be distinguished beyond someone’s opinion or assumptions.

  • Thanks for that.

    As I suspected, these results are based on functional brain scans, rather than structural differences. Additionally, these patterns are based on averages among participants, rather than specific, consistent differences between the groups being measured. So there very well may be many individuals in the study group who do NOT have the characteristic pattern, and many individuals who DO have the characteristic pattern, who are in the control group. The differences do not distinguish between the groups.

    An illustrative quote:

    “No research has uncovered a ‘characteristic’ brain structure for autism, meaning that no single pattern of changes appears in every autistic person. Studies of brain structure often turn up dissimilar results — there is great variety across individuals in general. But some trends have begun to emerge for subsets of autistic people. These differences might one day provide some insight into how some autistic people’s brains function. They may also point to bespoke treatments for particular subtypes of autism.”

    So SOME people diagnosed with autism have certain characteristics in common in terms of FUNCTION. They state clearly that these findings can’t be considered causal, as they might be the result of rather than the cause of “autistic” behavior, and as they are not close to consistent for anything close to all people so labeled.

    The studies are suggestive that there may be some correlates among people labeled as “autistic,” but does not establish that these are either genetic or neurological in origin. Of course, we might expect that from a group of people who are “diagnosed” based on subjective behavioral checklists and clinical judgment. In short, I would conclude from these studies, and what else I know, that “autism” is a loose connection of people who have certain behavioral/emotional/intellectual characteristics in common, but that this group is extremely heterogeneous and that the causes of these shared behaviors have not been determined, nor has it been determined that such behaviors even HAVE a shared cause.

    This is the problem with “diagnosis by checklist.” I don’t mean in any way to suggest or imply that people who fit this description don’t have anything in common, nor that such people gathering together isn’t a great idea (it IS a great idea!), nor that there couldn’t be some biological similarities between a big part of such a group. I’m saying that there is no direct evidence that people so grouped have a neurological problem, have a shared neurological problem, or even have a biological problem at all.

    As to “neurodiversity,” my opinion is that the idea that there is some kind of “normal” neurological configuration that can be used as a basis for “neurodiversity” to be determined. I am of the opinion that we’d be far better to consider EVERYONE “neurodiverse” and needing individual, creative interventions that respect our individual rights and needs. Which it sounds like you are making every effort to provide, so WELL DONE!

  • As Whitaker outlines, there are actual physiological changes forced on the brain by these drugs, and depending how long a person’s been on them, it can take a very long time to get back to “normal.” It is exactly the same process as happens with street drugs, yet of course, the psychiatric guild continues to deny that such things even happen, despite the science.

  • I do think it important to remember that something can be intentional without being fully conscious. A lot of times, the staff’s motivations go to maintaining order and avoiding emotional discomfort on their own parts. They are mostly completely unaware of these motivations, yet make decisions with these motivations in the back of their minds. The DSM contributes greatly to making this easier, because rather than admitting they feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what to do or because their own issues have been brought to the surface, they can blame the patient by saying, “Her borderline symptoms are escalating” or “He’s decompensating, we need a PRN injection stat!”

    So the staff may not be aware they are intentionally oppressing their patients, and yet be intentionally oppressing their patients nonetheless, with the full support of the oppressive system.

  • What kind of evidence are you aware of for consistent and objective “neurological differences” in autistic-diagnosed people? I have not seen any such evidence, and have been working with this stuff since the mid-90s. I’m always happy to be educated, but if there is any such evidence, I am not currently aware of it.

  • It depends on what you mean by “works.” If you mean, “Can I manipulate my mental and physiological states by experimenting with mind-altering drugs,” then yes, they “work.” If you are asking can such drugs improve ones’ biological well being, balance brain chemicals that are theoretically “out of balance” (with no evidence, of course), or “heal” some sort of purported “Mental illness,” the answer is a resounding NO.

    As Peter Breggin pointed out almost 20 years back, these drugs don’t fix anything. Every one of them acts by disrupting normal functioning of the brain (and other parts of the body). If someone likes the way this disruption makes him/her feel or think, that’s up to the user. But it’s past time to stop pretending that these drugs “work” in any sense of healing the body, or helping the body heal. They absolutely do not.

  • Certainly. But a very important question that is generally avoided is this: genetics contributes to behavioral decisions. SO WHAT? Genetics is not something that can be modified, except through epigenetics, which is directed by, guess what, EXPERIENCE. So why do we spend millions and millions studying genetic vulnerability when we can’t do anything about it? Wouldn’t it be more productive to direct the bulk of those dollars toward finding what kind of environment helps people succeed emotionally and mentally and toward creating such environments?

    As an example, it’s likely that a certain percentage (but very far from all) of “ADHD” cases are no doubt strongly influenced by a genetic tendency to be more active than other kids. These kids don’t succeed in a regular classroom very easily. So is the answer to try and alter their brain chemistry (seeing as the genes are not changeable)? Or is the answer to create environments that allow such kids to be active and to learn in the way they learn best?

    Finally, before we ascribe specific behavioral tendencies to genetics, ought we not to have evidence of what genes affect what behavior? Yet decades of research provide almost no information about this. Why do we imagine that’s going to change somehow?

  • First off, I don’t see doctors being particularly reluctant to prescribe benzos. Xanax is the second most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, and Ativan comes in at #7, in 2016. (

    Second, restrictions on long-term use appear to be advisory at this point, and the recommendations for short-term use only are well established and long standing. There are exceptions to every rule, but it seems to me that it would be irresponsible not to give appropriate warnings regarding the difficulties of discontinuing Benzos. The guidelines seem appropriate to me, just as it is appropriate to warn adults and youth that stimulants are drugs of abuse, even though it appears that a certain percentage of users report being pleased with the results.

  • You may be correct in your evaluation, but my point still stands: until someone comes up with an objective standard that is based on a real-world, replicable measurement that doesn’t depend on the opinion of “experts,” the boundaries of any “diagnosis” will continue to expand and no argument regarding “overdiagnosis” can ever be made, because there is no standard for diagnosing. The rest is all philosophy, and generally not even very good philosophy at that.

  • It seems scientifically sketchy at best to suggest that something is “overdiagnosed” or “underdiagosed” or “not overdiagnosed” when there is no way to measure what the correct level of “diagnosis” could possibly be. It’s like arguing whether kids need more or less recess or more or less discipline in school. There is not a “right answer,” and it is silly to talk about it as if there were. More or harsher discipline has certain consequences, which some people like and some people don’t. It’s totally subjective. Same with basically all of these psych diagnoses, including autism. There is no way to “over- or underdiagnose” because there is not correct level of “diagnosis,” mostly because these are not definable medical conditions but socially-bound, subjective definitions based on beliefs and values rather than any kind of scientific observations.

  • From a medical/scientific viewpoint, it is a meaningless grouping of people who have little to nothing biologically in common. People can identify that way for themselves, but to me it has all the scientific validity of “diagnosing” people as Catholics or French or greedy or sexually promiscuous. People can be all of those things for as many reasons as their are people. People can identify however they wish to, but it doesn’t make their identification a “diagnosis.”

  • I don’t know that anyone here wants to prevent you from doing something you find helpful. However, it becomes different when doctors lie to people about the supposed causes of their problems and try to force “treatment” on them that is really just giving a drug and hoping it works. Not to mention the incredible levels of denial that occur when the clients themselves report that the drug is making them worse.

    I’m interested by your comment that “Anxiety has been proven to be real and heredity.” Anxiety is certainly real, but I’m pretty familiar with the research on this point, and I am not aware of anything that suggest that “anxiety” IN GENERAL is hereditary. I’m not denying the possibility that some people may struggle more with anxiety (including me) for reasons that may be significantly affected by heredity. But these same anxious people may have lots of other good qualities, like empathy, commitment to bigger goals, willingness to sacrifice, sensitivity in social situations, and so on. And of course, it is obvious that anxiety is HUGELY impacted by environmental factors. It is, in fact, a survival mechanism to help us avoid dangerous situations. So to decide that anxiety is hereditary is, as far as I know, not supported by evidence (please share if you have some!), but more importantly, anxiety is not a “disease state” that needs to be “treated,” even if some people find that there are drugs or other physiological interventions that can ease anxiety.

    Hope that makes sense!

  • Of course, I agree. I just don’t see that much difference, except that stressed parents have to be there with their kids and try to enforce the teachers’ dictates. Virtual learning will work better for some kids, worse for others, be the same for others, but it does not begin to address the flaws within the system, which is my point. Rather than simply observing that some kids are less anxious when they aren’t forced into an unnatural setting under the control of a person they may or may not respect with kids selected at random that they can’t get away from having to do things that may or may not make any sense, maybe they should be asking why going to such a setting induces so much anxiety in so many children, and maybe stop doing those things that make the environment so utterly oppressive? But that would presume that there is a desire to empower rather than oppress the students, which is probably a highly erroneous assumption.

  • So you are saying that “virtual learning” on a large scale amounts to child abuse?

    I’m a little surprised if that’s what you’re saying, since I’d expect you to see the school system as a primary means of keeping the unruly masses from rebelling. The whole enterprise is massively authoritarian from day one, and I believe a lot of what is not working in US society, at least, has to do with little kids being trained to invalidate their own perceptions and being forced to accommodate the “party line” on what is “right” and “wrong.” Not to mention the number of kids routed to the psychiatric system by schools.

  • It’s kind of a joke to talk about ‘differential diagnosis’ when there is no objective way to differentiate between one group and another. I think it’s fine to talk about personality characteristics and how to deal with them, but the idea that these utterly subjective categorizations somehow represent “diagnoses” is laughable, and to talk about “differential diagnosis” as if that were somehow a meaningful phrase is ludicrous to me.

  • “Jerk Radar” concepts are most definitely applicable to psychiatry. They try to charm you initially with promises of a better life, try to quickly engage you with them intensely to isolate you from other help, interfere with other relationships by explaining how they have your best interests at heart and that anyone disagreeing with them is undermining the relationship. Big egos abound, with willingness to lie or manipulate to maintain control, and willingness to blame others for anything that goes wrong. Low responsibility – goes without saying. History of abuse, encouraging others to use drugs, employing denigrating labels and comments… the concordance is quite thorough.

  • This is very well spoken! I would add that what people have in common is more likely to be the stresses that CONTRIBUTED to their “symptoms” rather than the label. For instance, survivors of domestic abuse have a lot in common with each other, even though they might qualify for “PTSD,” “Major Depression,” “Bipolar Disorder,” “Borderline Personality Disorder,” “Anxiety Disorder” or many other possible labels. It would be more functional AND politically powerful to organize around experiences, rather than “reclaiming” a label that was never even relevant to most of the people who had it applied to them.

  • Posting as moderator:

    There is no rule here that participants in comments are or are not “supposed to hate Trump.” I am concerned that this thread is about to go off topic into electoral politics or some other disrelated conversation that will end up being unproductive and hostile, as has happened recently.

    The point of the article is that the White House refused to pay for “mental health care” for separated migrant families. Arguments about whether this is a good or bad thing are welcome. I don’t want to see an argument about whether this means “Trump is bad” or not.

  • Which of course means that the only “evidence based treatments” are going to be drugs, because they’re the only ones with enough research to provide an “evidence base,” however corrupt or flawed or sketchy that evidence base is. For instance, they still call stimulants “evidence based treatment” for “ADHD” even though decades of research show that they do NOTHING to improve long-term outcomes for children. What good is an “evidence base” that doesn’t take long-term effects into account?

    And that’s not even getting into how the grouping of the “DSM disorders” puts together heterogeneous groups who will respond differently to the same approach, so that only the heavy-handed “symptom suppression” approach will be viewed as “effective.”

  • I don’t know that I have one to hand, actually. Whatever you call it, there is a power differential, and any person who is really good at it knows this is a huge part of the dynamic and knows how to step down from their power and return the power to the client, and appreciates that the “peer worker” is actually in a BETTER place to do this. But the DSM attitude/philosophy speaks directly against this, encouraging and even in some ways requiring the “clinician” to see the “Mentally ill” as below them. And by analogy, the “peer worker” is below them, too.

    Maybe we can call them “coaches” or “mentors” or something that doesn’t delineate their value as being a “peer” with people who are identified as being “beneath” the “professionals.” But the real problem isn’t the name, it’s the attitude of the professionals toward their clients, and by analogy to anyone who as been on the “client” side of the relationship. Condescension is both a consequence and a cause of the disempowerment of clients, and I see that condescension clearly indicated in attitudes toward “peer workers,” who are automatically seen as less wise, less emotionally stable, less effective, and less important than the so-called “professionals,” even when the opposite may well be the truth.

  • I honestly have not seen anyone saying that a response to life’s tragic circumstances is not absolutely needed. Perhaps you can let me know what quotes or statements lead you to this conclusion? I think there IS a sense in a lot of people that a “professional” response to human distress is condemned to failure from the get-go due to differences in power and intention between the “helper” and the “helpee.” Perhaps that is what you are referring to?

  • The fact that anyone has to suggest that “person-centered services” should be a model of care tells us enough about the usual attitude of the “mental health” professions toward their ostensible “clients.” What other kind of help could possibly be envisioned, that is not centered on the person one is purporting to “help?”

  • I think my response DOES answer your question, and quite clearly. Each person will need something different, and the first error of psychiatry is clumping people together based on how they feel or act rather than on what their experiences, life conditions and motivations are. The only way to help people in distress is to get to know each and every one of them personally and help them figure out their path. It is much more a spiritual than a physiological thing, though physiology certainly does play a role (exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc.) Psychiatry is destructive largely because it invalidates the humanity of its clients in the interests of money and power. Restoring connections and respect and caring leads to a wide range of solutions that depend on the person and his/her situation. There is no “prescription” for mental well being.

  • Reminds me of the Star Trek Next Generation episode where people from one planet got everyone on another planet addicted to a substance only found on the first planet, and then said they all had a “disease” for which their drug was the only “treatment.” And of course it was VERY expensive, but what’s it worth to be protected from this horrible “disease!”

    It is beyond despicable to create a “disease” with one drug and then sell another to “cure” it!

  • I actually had a very good therapist who worked with me to meet MY goals, never once told me what to think about my life even when I asked her to do so. But this was back in the 80s before the DSM took full hold. I think such people are harder to find these days, but I do think there are times when having an objective person who is willing to listen and ask pointed questions about your thinking and decisions WITHOUT telling you what to do is extremely valuable. The problem is, most therapists seem incapable of being there for the clients without meeting their own needs at the clients’ expense. The DSM structure makes it that much easier to avoid the real issues or to work out the therapists’ issues on the client. And I’m not sure there is a way to actually train therapists to do this. It seems to have a lot more to do with the therapist’s own grasp on his/her personal issues and needs, and corresponding ability to set those needs aside and truly LISTEN to the what the client is saying instead of trying to “fix” the client’s life.

  • I think the problem is connecting psychiatry, which is NOT designed to help people except in the crudest sense of deadening “negative emotions,” and society responding to suffering and misery, which I agree society is responsible to do. In fact, as long as psychiatry is around, our society at large can pretend that psychiatry has the answer and that they don’t need to bother responding to your or anyone else’s emotional difficulties, as they will buy psychiatry’s story that it’s all about flawed brains and doesn’t require any social changes at all.

    As to what society can and should do, I think there is a major problem assuming that there is one answer for all those now considered “mentally ill” by the DSM system. There are many different responses possible, which can be adapted to many different situations. For instance, the main “cure” for ADHD appears to be to restructure schools so that they are more adaptable to the needs of kids. Things like “anxiety” and “depression” can have many causes, and the response should be different for different situations. Does society need to respond the same way to a person in a dead-end job or an unhappy marriage, as opposed to someone abused as a small child, or a person who is being discriminated against systematically because s/he is an immigrant or a black person or a woman?

    Grouping “the mentally ill” together as if “they” are some monolithic entity plays into the hands of the psychiatric community and the drug companies’ needs. It is a false grouping of heterogeneous people into pseudo groups, which obscures any real attempt to analyze and help with a person’s actual situation.

  • Yeah, Freud was a huge improvement over anything else that preceded him, because he at least started from the idea that the what the client says is the most important thing to consider. That postulate alone would invalidate the entire edifice of the DSM and all that passed for “psychiatry” throughout history. It is just a shame that he backed down from his accurate observations. But as we all are, he was a product of his time, and his revelations were just not tolerable in the society he lived in, however accurate they may have been.

  • Freud’s main contributions were that he believed that listening to people’s stories was a path to healing, and that early life trauma unconsciously affected decisions and emotions on an ongoing basis. He was the first to recognize that sexual abuse of children (especially girls) was rampant, and at first he believed these stories and attributed women’s “hysterical” symptoms to the abuse they had experienced. This outraged the Viennese society of the time (one has to wonder how many of his psychiatric colleagues were suddenly worried they’d get busted!) and he came under tremendous pressure to recant. Unfortunately, he did so, and devised all the weird “drive theories” like the Oedipus complex and penis envy and whatnot and the secret of childhood sexual abuse went back under wraps for another hundred years. Most of what he is remembered for is the crap he came up with to explain away his original observations. He may have saved his career by doing so, but his betrayal of his integrity condemned another four generations of children to unrecognized sexual abuse.

  • They are often prescribed “antipsychotics” because they become aggressive from taking stimulants, which is one of the well-known side effects of taking them. These kids get diagnosed with “bipolar disorder” because of their negative adverse reactions to the stimulants, (or sometimes they are prescribed without any further diagnosis) so instead of taking them off the stimulants (which INCREASE dopamine), they keep them on stimulants and give them “antipsychotics” (which DECREASE dopamine!) I mean, if you want to decrease their dopamine levels, why not start by NOT INCREASING THEM?

    There is nothing more logically stupid in the entire field of psychiatry (which is replete with logical stupidities from top to bottom). I saw it dozens, perhaps hundreds of times advocating for kids in foster care. It is appalling that this continues, and speaks to the moral depravity of the institution of psychiatry.

  • There is no question that these drugs have an EFFECT, and sometimes the effect seems positive or worth the cost. This does NOT mean there is something “wrong” with the child, or that the child is being “treated” for some “disease” or “disorder,” or that other children experiencing similar problems will be “helped” by whatever you felt worked for your child. Individual stories are valid, but scientific claims need to be made on overall data, not individual stories.

    Best of luck with your continuing challenges!

  • I’d be pretty f-ing insulted if I were called a “treatment non-responding anxiety patient.” Isn’t it clear how dehumanizing this whole idea is?

    I also wonder that the model here is to only provide therapy to those whose drug “treatment” seems to have “failed.” Why not start by talking to them before you decide to mess with their brain matter?

  • It sounds like we’re substantially on the same page. He has recently revealed some childhood trauma we did not know about, and he was operating with that inner secret (from himself, too), which no doubt made it difficult to make sense out of things. He also had an emotionally abusive partner he was escaping from, and I think the drugs provided escape for him, too. He was guided at first, but the person guiding him also had some serious issues and told him some very not helpful things. I think certain people just don’t do well with any kind of drug intervention. Nothing works for everyone, and we all have to find our own paths.

  • I think we’re getting into the difference between individual actions, which vary widely, and the system that has been devised, which is very narrow and rigid. There are most definitely individuals who can do great things within the system, and those who fight the system itself to do better (I was one of those for a while). I had a great therapist who really helped me back in the 1980s, though in fairness the DSM-III was just taking hold and therapists were more conversant with Jung and Rogers and Hoffer and Maslow and Bowlby and the like. But the system has changed, and is now rigged to encourage labeling and drugs and a discounting of the importance of experience and personality development as well as to ignore social impacts on human experience.

    I’d use the comparison of individual vs. systemic racism. There are individuals who really do choose to hate people based on their skin color or national origin or class. But the majority of people are able to manage relationships with individuals of varying backgrounds without overt hatred. Unfortunately, ALL of us are steeped in a culture of racism, and carry around images and assumptions and reactions that are “programmed” in by the society we’re a part of, to the extent that much of it, we don’t even notice. Some people are able to rise above this training to one degree or another, but most are only partially or marginally aware that such things are even happening.

    That’s how I see the psychiatric system. There are individuals within the system who can rise above the system’s assumptions, but the training and the culture surrounding “mental health” is warped in the direction of believing that “the mentally ill” are a specifically identifiable population, whose value and capabilities in life are less than the “normal” person, which of course the majority practitioners believe themselves to be. So even if people within the system do challenge the system to do better, they tend to make temporary stirs in certain areas which quickly settle back down into the status quo, because the system is supported by a huge culture of discrimination and condescension and power dynamics, and most of the practitioners are comfortable enough with it to keep supporting its basic assumptions.

    This is why I got out of the business myself. I decided at a certain point that continuing to participate, even as a rebel behind enemy lines, was a tacit approval of the system as it was. I saw the damage being done and realized that one person can’t change the entire culture. So I became and advocate, and earned a lot more inner peace.

  • I am most definitely saying that psychiatry as a pseudo-scientific philosophy/religion denies or minimizes the causal role of stress and trauma in any of their “diagnostic” categories. At the same time, they also systematically overlook REAL physiological problems, like sleep apnea or low iron for so-called “ADHD,” and deprive the client of actual medical care that they may need.

  • Looking again, I just thought it was an important distinction to make. It is common to use the term “illness” in a metaphorical sense, like “that is SICK!” or “she has mental illness” without any actual attempt to look for physiological illnesses, and without the consideration that stress and trauma cause physiological symptoms that can easily be interpreted as “illness.” Of course, these ostensible “symptoms” are intentionally framed as “illness” by the psychiatric community.

  • Throwing up suggests “ill.” Feeling depressed suggests “stressed” or “traumatized.” There are some people who are depressed because they are ill (low thyroid, chronic pain, iron deficiency, etc.) There are some people who throw up because they’re stressed or traumatized. To assume someone’s ill because they are depressed is dangerous and unscientific. Screening for illness makes sense. Assuming illness does not.

  • ‘Kwanzaa’s second principle, Kujichagulia, Swahili for “self-determination,” which reflects a sense of “defining, creating, naming, and speaking for oneself.” ‘

    If this second principle were put into place, the DSM and the standard of “care” in the “mental health” system would be immediately put to rest. The DSM’s purpose is to “define, create, name, and speak” for the “patient” and prevent the patient’s voice or viewpoint from being taken seriously.

    The author may actually have been fortunate that her colleagues didn’t immediately call the authorities and allowed the author to exercise her own self-determinism in deciding how to proceed with the assistance of her psychiatrist. I was a bit disturbed to hear her talking about the “stigma” of “mental illness” and even moreso being “stigmatized” for being black. I think the proper word here is “discrimination”, not “stigma!”

  • I think psychiatric practitioners who “treat” imprisoned “patients” are worse than the criminal justice system. At least alleged criminals have to be “Mirandized” and can have an attorney present during questioning, get a full trial and have to be convicted “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and have a specific and limited sentence. The “committed” have almost no rights, other than a “preponderance of evidence” trial in front of judges who are generally heavily biased against them. And they can be “held” indefinitely, or at least as long as their insurance holds out.

  • The other huge problem with “EBM” is that “evidence” will only accumulate when studies are done, and most studies are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. So any non-drug interventions (like peer support) will never gather enough evidence to be called “EBM,” even if the results are far superior to “treatment as usual.”

    And of course, the article does not take on the more fundamental problem, namely, that helping people suffering from emotional distress is not really “medicine” in the first place. Studying “depression” will never lead to a proper “evidence base,” because the researchers are studying a heterogeneous group, where some will be helped by one intervention and others will be not helped or harmed. If people are treated as individuals, we’ll get a lot better result than by lumping together a whole bunch of people with a wide range of issues and trying to “treat” them as if they had a medical problem that no one apparently can actually identify.

  • Yeah, if owning guns reduced crime, we in the USA would have the lowest crime rates in the world!

    But you are right, there is nothing to suggest that having a “mental illness diagnosis” makes one more predisposed to violent gun use. Heavy drug use (including LEGAL drugs like antidepressants and benzos) and domestic abuse are the highest associations with gun violence and have been for a long, long time. The “mentally ill” angle is just to create a scapegoat so those much larger REAL social problems can be ignored or minimized.

  • I recall an experiment where someone designed a computer program to act like a non-directive therapist. It asked basic questions like, “Tell me about your childhood,” and gave generic acknowledgements like “I see” or “Uh huh…” If someone went off on a tangent, the computer would say something like, “Let’s get back to your mother.” The users reported feeling better from using the program. I think it showed how desperate people are just to have someone listen to them, even though the “listening” was totally artificial. Perhaps the machine had an advantage, in that it was unable to give unsolicited advice or demonstrate prejudice or evaluate for the user what the computer thought their “real problem” was.

    Anyway, I think we’re sinking down pretty low when we’re trying to have computers provide “therapy.” Though the computer program may have a big advantage over a psychiatrist with a prescription pad. At least it won’t make you worse.

  • Very true! The problem is not that the information is not known and available, it is that there are so many people invested in the status quo who stand to lose money or status or both, that the facts are no longer relevant to their analysis. The only consideration is how to maintain power as long as possible before one is caught and held accountable. And this attitude extends very far beyond the boundaries of psychiatry.

  • I recall seeing a film of a nice, German family, small house with a garden and a white picket fence. The father was a German officer, was dressed up for work. Walked out the front door, said goodbye to the wife and kids, and turned up the street. The camera shows Buchenwald rising in the background and the father heading off for his job at the death camp.

    Individual humans do not have to be evil for their behavior to be evil, or for the institution they work for to be evil. Many “good” people are able to justify bad actions in a wide range of manners, and evil institutions are very generous in providing plausible justification for the actions they want people to be able to justify. Remember the Milgram experiment!

  • Biederman and company also cherry picked their non-placebo-controlled studies. Studies in Quebec, Australia (Raine Study) and in Finland showed that taking stimulants don’t improve any outcome measured in the “meta-analysis” discussed. Additionally, the OSU Medication Effectiveness Study showed no improvements in any outcome, except for a slight reduction in accidents for “medication” users. This issue has been studied for over 60 years now. If this stuff were so awesome, why aren’t there clear and unambiguous indications of positive results? How many “no result” findings have to happen before we conclude that it simply doesn’t have any long-term benefits?

  • That is my observation also. “Peers” are rarely considered equal partners, but more someone who can “talk at the client’s level” and thereby explain why the system is “right.” I’ve seen plenty of “peers” who intentionally and consistently buck that trend (Stephen Gilbert/Boren, for instance), and they can sometimes get some stuff done, but they are never considered actual peers to the professionals. As long as that condition pertains, “peer support” remains mostly coopted and lacking in significant influence beyond the level of an individual person’s situation.

  • Posting as moderator: It is possible that past moderators handle things differently. The Posting Guidelines do mention profanity, but in the context of being respectful to others. It could be interpreted that all profanity is banned, but I’ve read it as meaning profanity in reference to someone’s person or ideas would be out of bounds.

  • The difference is that I get to define what I think. is “wrong” in the mental/spiritual realm. If a doctor tests and finds I have low thyroid, s/he can then tell me what is “wrong” and we can make a plan. But no one can tell me it’s “wrong” for me to have flashbacks or feel anxious. Sometimes feeling anxious is absolutely RIGHT – it is my body warning me that I’m in danger! Sometimes it is right but not very helpful, like if I’m going for a job interview and there is a “danger” that I won’t get the job. Sometimes it was right at an earlier time but is being applied to a situation today where the application doesn’t work. So I would be “wrong” for applying it to this situation. But the anxiety isn’t in itself “wrong.”

    Establishing order is what we do as humans. So “disorder” can certainly be perceived as “wrong.” But someone else telling me that my emotional state is “wrong” because it doesn’t meet their criteria for “normal” is judgmental and is frequently destructive.

    As a therapist, I have no problem asking a client, “What’s wrong?” from the perspective of the client. But I would NEVER tell a client, “Your reaction to being sexually molested is ‘disordered’ (AKA WRONG!)” It’s not my job to decide, and that’s why the DSM labels are problematic. It makes people feel “wrong” for feeling the way they do, instead of helping them see the challenges they face in a new light, which is what therapy should be doing.

  • “…by convincing them that their troubles are just an inevitable result of what happened to them, and there is no possibility of them changing their reaction to something else and so getting more control over their lives.”

    I don’t think someone needs to believe there is something “wrong” with them to consider the possibility of changing their reactions/coping mechanisms. My emphasis has always been on how they WANT their lives to proceed as opposed to how they can be “fixed” in the sense of “returning to ‘normal’ (as defined by our social norms).

  • Harrow showed that people with more favorable prognoses prior tom the study had worse outcomes on drugs than those with less favorable diagnoses had when off drugs. So “favorable prognostic factors” did not associate with better outcomes, whatever Harrow might have speculated about it. I also understand that he reconsidered his first analysis in the light of further data and critiques, and I’m wondering if you were reading his first assessment.


    If there are specific posts that aren’t there, please let me know. Your posts are pretty much always posted without moderation, so I’m not sure what could be missing. E-mail me directly if you find something specific I need to look for.


  • I agree, children are their weakest point. They can’t portray a two-year-old as a potential mass murderer needing to be “treated.” When you tell people about kids under one year old being on psych drugs, they are stunned. When you let people know that over half of foster youth over 12 are on psych drugs, people pay attention. A lot of the arguments for psych drugging and incarceration don’t sound nearly so convincing when kids are the victims.

  • Hi, Sandra,

    I guess I have a little concern about the idea of “diversity of opinions” in this context. My problem with it is this: those in the psychiatric world have a MUCH greater power and privilege than those that they ostensibly “treat.” I believe that conveys a much higher responsibility on them to insist that their “opinions” are based firmly upon scientific facts and knowledge. I think one reason you don’t have an answer is because opinions or “voices” can be valued differently by different people, and it is of course very, very easy for those in power to simply ignore the voices of those they have power over. So if we REALLY want to have a conversation where “all voices are heard,” I think we have to start with amplifying the voices of those who receive the services in question, such that their EXPERIENCES (not their OPINIONS) are considered the most vital data being examined. At the same time, those who have the power to ignore such voices would have to be restricted from positing their opinions as fact – they would have to present scientific data to support their opinions, AND would have to have their positions jibe with the reports of their “patients” or else not be considered valid.

    It is, indeed, difficult to manage, but not because there is a diversity of opinion, but because there is a differential of power, and those who have the power to make their opinions sound like facts are unwilling to set that power aside long enough to hear what the real effects of their “treatments” are. Present company excluded, I think.

  • I agree wholeheartedly – the tendency of the “professional” is often to force the person to be “reasonable,” and to re-a. ssume the roles they are rebelling against. Which is actually the very WORST thing you can do! A “mental health” crisis generally means that whatever role a person HAS been playing is not working. Maybe they need to reconsider how they’re living their life! Forcing them back into their old roles would drive them into apathy.

    Having a crisis is not an illness! And the solution is not to. force someone back to “normal,” whatever that is.


    In fairness to Oldhead, I have posted this last response (since Richard specifically referred to him in his post).

    I will be following Robert’s directive from here onward, and post things that relate to Terror Management Theory. Comments re: COVID are welcome as long as they are presented in that context. Any attempts to personalize negative responses will not be posted.

  • Pretty much, yeah. They don’t have to agree with each other or with US law, though US law can supersede them depending on the issue. “State’s Rights” vs. centralized government control has been an issue since the first Continental Congress back in the 1700s. It continues to play out today, right in front of our eyes. The intensity of the conflict over “mask mandates” is a reflection of that ongoing conflict. “Let’s act together in everybody’s interests” vs. “Washington isn’t going to tell US what to do!” Our current “liberal-conservative” spectrum is closely related to that theme, IMHO. Unfortunately, I think it can blind us to bigger issues on different spectra.

  • I agree, we know what we need to know about them. We know: 1) They mess with our brain chemistry, and indirectly, our brain structure, just like any “psychoactive drug,” including heroin, meth, alcohol, LSD, etc.; 2) there is no identifiable “illness” being treated, no means of distinguishing the “ill” from the “well,” so at best, these can be considered palliative drugs, similar to heroin for pain or aspirin for headaches; 3) all of these drugs have serious and in some cases deadly adverse effects, such that people taking the APs die 20-25 years earlier than the average person in society; 4) they all have withdrawal effects that generally lead to MORE of the “symptom” they are supposed to be suppressing; and 5) whatever unstudied long-term consequences exist, the evidence suggests that they are not good or helpful.

    What more needs to be known? A simple cost-benefit analysis says that we’re “treating” an unknown condition (if it even is a condition) with a drug that has largely unknown long-term consequences (other than early death and diabetes) and known short-term adverse effects which can be severe, and known withdrawal effects which can be worse than the “condition” being “treated.” The only benefit appears to be a temporary lessening of uncomfortable “symptoms” for an unknown proportion of the population using them. What argument is there for their continued widespread use? What happened to “first, do no harm?”

  • Certainly, state legislatures have done a ton of things that have forced the national government or national/international corporations to take notice. For instance, California set fuel emission standards that were higher than any other state. Because they wanted to sell cars in California, auto makers targeted making cars to meet those standards, even if other states didn’t require it.

    Laws governing “involuntary commitment” are made by the states and differ from state to state. Setting a different standard in a particular state and proving that it worked better is one very legitimate approach to handling the problem. The city of Berkeley, CA banned “electroshock therapy” for a while back in the 80s, and even though a judge overturned it, it got plenty of news coverage. It’s a legit strategy.

  • Thank you, Larry! That is very helpful.

    And I agree with you – it is one of those arguments like nature/nurture that can go on forever but not be resolved. Some of it gets down to values and priorities, and some comes down to perceptions vs. reality. The second part can be addressed through research, at least in part. The first is not resolvable except through quality communication, which I find few take the time to learn or execute.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    I have a suggestion. It is clear that we could go on and on about how this is proven or not proven or this is the right approach or that approach is really dumb and anyone who agrees with it is a fascist traitor and on and on. But I think you’re right – science does not make political decisions, and political decisions themselves can’t be altered by science. So let’s stick to the stuff that CAN be determined with more certainty!

    If someone believes hydrochloroquine works, please, share the studies showing that is true! If someone believes it’s dangerous, please share the source of that information – what side effects have been shown in studies to occur, and what’s the cost-benefit analysis? If someone thinks masks are dangerous, where is the data? If you believe they’re helpful, let us know the scientific reasons why.

    The last time this discussion got started, it degenerated into a rhetorical shouting match that had to be discontinued. I don’t want that happening again. Let’s debate the issue like the intelligent, mature adults we all are, and put out the pros and cons without the hype and fear. After all, we’re not going to change the minds of most people by telling them they are wrong. Let’s put the data out there and let people decide for themselves! I’d be happy to be educated, especially about the value of Zinc and Vitamin C and D.

    So my suggestion here: instead of wasting time about whether Trump’s or Biden’s plans are good or bad or bad and worse, why don’t WE bring the science together and examine it? How about educating each other in a mutually respectful environment, and then we can all decide which plan(s) seems best to us? Does that sound do-able?

    I very much doubt bringing psychiatry to an end will realistically occur if people on the same side can’t work out a way of communicating respectfully about things we don’t agree about. Thoughts?

  • Working as an advocate for foster youth, I saw this same pattern over and over. Stimulants for “ADHD” leading to deterioration/aggression, leading to more drugs, leading to more deterioration, eventually leading to kids on 4-5 drugs who can’t maintain in a foster home and end up in residential “treatment” centers. And yet mentioning that the “treatment plan” seems to be leading to more and more deterioration is met with hurt feelings and outrage, or with complete dismissal. Isn’t “treatment” supposed to make you better?

  • Yeah, there was some study way back that claimed that “combined therapy was better than either medication or therapy alone.” It became some sort of mantra such that any challenge to it was met with derision, at least in the circles I was traveling in at the time, even though many future studies showed no such thing. It’s one of those myths like the “broken brain” myth that has little to no support, and yet persists like a bad case of poison oak.

  • Are these people freakin’ serious? What about a voice pattern could POSSIBLY be considered a “biomarker” for anything? I suppose that they will discover that “depressed” people speak in a flatter and less variable tone. Or we could just ASK the person how s/he is feeling instead of using all this technology to analyze their voices? How does this kind of idiocy pass for science?

  • And a lot of people given antidepressants don’t feel better or feel worse. See Kirsch’s works for the minuscule difference between AD’s and placebo when you look at all the trials together instead of cherry picking the ones they submit to the FDA. As for antipsychotics, yes, they do tend to reduce hallucinations and in some cases delusions in the short run, though certainly not for everyone. Unfortunately, long-term followup studies suggest that this is very much a temporary phenomenon, and that over the long term, people chronically using antipsychotics have MORE episodes of psychosis than those who use them intermittently or not at all. If you would read “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” you could see this research for yourself.

    I’m afraid a lot of what you’ve been led to believe about psych drugs is not actually true.

  • I’d be interested in hearing your “evidence of brain pathology” for any “mental illness” you’d like to name. Of course, all such research is tainted from the beginning, since the definitions of “Schizophrenia” and “bipolar” and “Borderline Personality Disorder” are all extremely vague and subjective, leading inevitably to heterogeneous groupings who can’t possibly have significant shared biological traits. But even accepting such vague definitions, the research I am familiar with shows at best very small correlations with any biological “cause,” the most optimistic being around 15% correlation with a mess of a hundred or more genes, and using multiple “disorders” for the correlation. Whereas the correlation between traumatic events and any of the “mental disorders,” including “schizophrenia” and “bipolar,” is extremely high, usually over 80%.

    And if you’re talking instead about fMRIs and PET scans, this research has long been critiqued for not being able to distinguish cause from function. What I mean is, if a “depressed brain” has a certain pattern (which has NOT been consistently shown, by the way), there is no way to know if that pattern CAUSES depression or RESULTS FROM the person feeling depressed. In fact, there is evidence that thinking depressing thoughts shifts the brain’s function in the direction associated with “depressed brains,” and thinking of something else returns to a more “normal” pattern.

    The other problem is that these scans are AVERAGED. So even if there is a tendency, for instance, for people who are diagnosed with “ADHD” to have a certain pattern when confronted with difficult tasks, only SOME of those so diagnosed have this pattern – there is a wide range of individual results, some of which conform closely to the pattern and some of which vary widely. This is why PET scans can’t be used as a diagnostic tool – there is NO consistent finding across large numbers of “ADHD”-diagnosed people.

    So the science I know of says that biology probably plays some role in how we react, but that there is no consistent biological pattern with any of the “mental illnesses” as defined in the DSM. The science also says that traumatic experiences are MUCH more highly correlated with any “mental illness” than any biological findings to date.

    I’m happy to read any research you have that would speak to this question. But so far, I can’t agree that the science to date agrees with or even suggests the conclusions you propose.

  • In other words, listening to a black young person’s experience and validating it can help them feel better? This title makes it seem like “discussing racial stress” is some kind of a special “therapeutic technique” for black youth with “mental health problems.”

    Systemic change will happen when we stop talking about common experiences and reactions to our social and economic system as if they are somehow “illnesses” that need to be “treated.” And when listening to someone is considered what kind-hearted and compassionate people do when meeting someone in distress, rather than some sort of “treatment” for “mental illness.”

  • Of course, they don’t really have an opinion of you. They haven’t bothered to find out who you are. They have an “opinion” of “bipolars” or “borderlines” or whatever box they want to put you in. The only “success” with such people is escaping their boxing game and finding someone who actually cares about you as a human being.

  • “Overtreated” suggests that there is a proper amount of “treatment.” It seems a devious term to be used in this context, as of course, having no objective way to “diagnose” “bipolar” or any of the other so-called “disorders,” it is impossible to even establish what is being “treated,” let alone what the “proper amount of treatment” would look like.

    Maybe the title should be, “Overheated, then overwhelmed with attempts to define and control my life.”

  • I think you’re right on that indifference is the big problem that underlies the ability of some “mental health professionals” to continue to do harm and feel OK about it, and that the public has unfortunately largely bought into this idea to a large extent.

    I do want to take a moment to remind everyone that psychiatrists are human beings, like everyone else, and they come in all varieties. I don’t think we can say that all of them are “soulless” and “cynical.” Certainly, there is an attraction to the soulless and the cynical to a profession that handles pain by repression and blaming, and makes lots of money for its followers while creating permanent clients. However, my experience of rank-and-file psychiatrists is that most are more “hypnotized” and think they are doing good works. They have been trained, as it were, in a cynical system of thought, and behave in accordance with that system. And there are a handful who see the foolishness of their training and are trying to do something better, some ow whom post on MIA.

    But in the end, you are correct in saying that it will require organization and resistance from the potential clients/victims of such a soulless system to bring it to an end. Connectedness is the cure to soulless cynicism, in my book.

  • I don’t think we really disagree with each other much here. I think we’re just emphasizing different aspects of the problem. Being biased against someone for differences is certainly not something invented by psychiatry. They just tend to make it a lot worse, and then blame others for their poor outcomes.

  • It is true, we ought not to think less of people regardless of whatever struggles, physically or psychologically or whatever, they may experience.

    My point is that how a problem is framed has a lot to do with what people believe can be done to resolve it. The placebo response is a perfect example – if people are given hope that they will improve, they can often rally their internal resources and they actually DO get better without intervention. This is particularly true of so-called “mental/emotional disorders.” Telling someone they’ve “had a rough childhood but that other people have experienced the same and have overcome it, let me connect you with some of them” will give the person both validation and hope. Telling someone their “brain is genetically defective and they’ll have to take drugs for the rest of their lives to deal with the symptoms, but there is no cure” removes agency and blunts hope. Since the latter has not been shown to be true in the overwhelming majority of cases, why would we not start with a framing that provides hope and agency, rather than one that promotes hopelessness and passivity?

    There is a reason psychiatry frames things the way they do, and it has not much to do with helping people achieve better control of their lives.

  • I would add that suggesting Open Dialog might work is no more of a fantasy than suggesting that taking antipsychotics for the rest of one’s life is a viable solution for most people. Or more of a fantasy than NOT telling clients the known potential adverse effects of the drugs being recommended because it might make them decide not to cooperate. Or the fantasy of choosing a list of undesirable behaviors that tend to occur together and calling it a “diagnosis” and then claiming that “it” is caused by a “biological brain disease.”

    The entire enterprise of psychiatry seems to be founded on fantasy. Not sure why trying Open Dialog would be any more fantastical than what is already accepted as “standard treatment.”

  • “They were dysfunctional before I treated them.” I always find this a very lame line of “reasoning” and don’t understand why it seems to work to deflect so many people’s concerns. If I went in for a sore shin and came out of the doctor’s office with a broken leg, I don’t think they’d get away with saying, “Well, the leg was dysfunctional before I treated it.” Treatment, if we may even use such a term, is supposed to improve the condition. Even accepting that the person was “ill,” if they continue to act “ill” despite your “treatment,” how does that let you off the hook? If your “treatment” doesn’t work, why are you accepting money for “treating” them in the first place?

  • Posting as moderator:

    Anyone who wants to post here is allowed to post, as long as they follow the Posting Guidelines. We have never moderated family members who chose to participate based on their being family members or on their not having a family member embroiled in the system. It is true that some of our community distrust family members’ intentions, based on their own experiences. But family member voices have always been welcome at MIA. I’m not sure where you are getting the idea that family members are “not allowed to post” if their loved ones are not caught up in the system. What would stop such a person from posting?

  • Multiple studies have indicated that the process of telling someone they have a “Brain disorder,” or telling someone else that “mental illness” results from brain malfunction, increases “stigma,” in contrast to telling people that it is the result of struggling with difficult life experiences. So a large percentage of the “stigma” is the result of the very psychiatric system that later decries it.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I want to be clear that voices of those who feel they are helped by psychiatric drugs have always been welcome here. It is admittedly sometimes a challenging environment, as they will hear stories and feelings which don’t comport with their experience, but attacking or downgrading people because they choose a pathway that includes psychiatric drugs is never accepted here. Now if someone starts arguing that people HERE need to accept their reality and validate the reality of DSM diagnoses or something of the sort, they’re going to be in for an argument. But civil exchange of views is the central theme of the comments section, and no one is allowed to be censored or attacked for having a contrary view.

  • Akathesia is often not reported and not understood by people who work with children, even the psychiatrists. I had a young lady (14) who specifically reported being “unable to sit still” (the literal meaning of “akathesia”), and was on a special program where she could raise her hand to leave class because it was so hard for her to stay in one place. They had a goal of staying in class longer. After my CASA volunteer and I got them to reduce her Risperdal and Lithium dosages, her in-class percentages went up significantly. But the psychiatrist still denied that akathesia had been an issue. A survey of the residential staff showed that none of them had been trained on what to look for as adverse effects, nor were they told that watching for adverse effects was a part of their job. The level of denial is unbelievable.

  • I’m saying that not all the individuals who play the role of police are acting in defense only of the rich and powerful. I suppose the same could be said of psychiatrists, though in my observation, there are a hell of a lot more police of integrity than there are psychiatrists. The school system is very similarly messed up to me. There are a goodly percentage of teachers who care, but they work in a system that disempowers the students and they can’t really fix it themselves.

    I’ll look at your links, but I was interested in YOUR answer – what do YOU think we do about bullies and aggressive people when there are no more police?

  • I have to take issue with this to some degree. I have known many police/sheriffs who have done a fantastic job of “protecting and serving” the community they are in, including handling some situations involving “mental health clients” with particular aplomb. I’ve also seen unwarranted brutality, dismissiveness, and threatening behavior that would make anyone distrust the force. Both kinds of officers exist. And while accountability issues are critical, particularly with darker-skinned people, and systemic racism is very, very real, I am not sure we really want to live in a society where there is NO police function at all. We saw what happened in the CHOP zone when there was no law enforcement – people got shot and died. Every society has some form of law enforcement, formal or informal. There will always be people who threaten the community in some way. While the current system appears to have been coopted by the rich and powerful, and this has been true for a long, long time, I have to ask what means will we have to deal with people who want to harm and take advantage of others if the police are entirely “defunded?” And even if they are defunded, what’s to prevent psychiatry from coming in to take over their role by “diagnosing” people who don’t behave as society expects, for whatever reason?

  • Ah, but the ones who are in denial are the ones deemed “mentally healthy!” If you’re too worried about it, you have an “anxiety disorder!” If you’re working hard to stop it, you’re “Manic!” If you give up and feel hopeless, you have “major depression!” The only acceptable response is to not be too worried about it and assume it will work itself out.

  • The problem with this is that once you make it OK to use these in “extreme cases,” very quickly, it becomes OK to use in ANY case, because there is no objective standard to justify their use. And making people more tractable isn’t really a “medical” issue, anyway, it’s a social management issue.

    There are also lots of ways to intervene with dementia patients that don’t involve drugging them into submission, and these are rarely even considered before going to the drug solution. Yet information on these is buried deep! I just did a search on “alternative approaches for dementia” and got only drugs and “complimentary medicine” (herbs and homeopathy, etc). I had to go for “psychosocial approaches to Dementia” to get any hits worth looking at. This is because dementia has been redefined and captured by the psychiatric industry and all other approaches have been suppressed.

    My wife’s dad had Alzheimer’s and was put on Risperdal because he was grabbing the nurses arms too hard. He went from being quite interactive and gregarious within a very short time to being unable to sit up, head thrashing from side to side, trying to but unable to talk, obviously in utter misery. No one at the facility seemed to know or care that the drug had done this. Ginny got her mom to take him off the drug, and within three days, he had recovered most of his personality and communication ability. When he grabbed her arms to tightly, she said, “Dad, you’re grabbing too hard, it hurts!” And he stopped grabbing. That easy! And yet they felt it was OK to drug him into insensibility and near paralysis because he didn’t just do what they wanted without having to communicate with him respectfully.

    Yes, dementia is very difficult to deal with, and yes, antipsychotics make them easier for caretakers to manage, but the dangers of abuse of power by the facilities or other caretakers are extreme, not to mention the risk of early death that they convey. I would not allow my loved ones to be put on these drugs. They are for the convenience of the caretakers, and remove any incentive for them to actually figure out a loving way to handle the difficulties such people present.

  • Posting as moderator:

    OK, that’s it! Everybody out of the pool! This thread has deteriorated and has become nothing but a back and forth between people completely fixed in their positions. It is time to end it. Again, I am not “banning posts on COVID” or “censoring,” I am stopping this deteriorating thread of subtle insults, straw-man arguments, defensiveness and disrespectful analogies. EVERYONE has had their say. I will not post any more comments on this theme on this thread.

    We can do a lot better than this, folks!


  • Richard, it is too difficult and time consuming for me to address the various assumptions and implications in your responses. You’ve made your point, people can read it, and I’ve made my point, people can read it. It is time to end this conversation, as it is not only going in circles, but going on extreme tangents at this point. We agree that COVID is real and that it needs to be taken seriously and that there are people with hidden agendas opposing taking it seriously or taking advantage of it for political gains, and that those forces need to be opposed. Let’s focus on what we agree upon and move on.

  • Oh, believe me, you’re not the only one! I’m still waiting for that moment of crystallization when suddenly it becomes clear to enough people that something shady is going on. In the meanwhile, I keep trying to educate and support, educate and support. But it doesn’t feel very hopeful.

    Still, I never thought the Berlin Wall would come down, and it did. So the world can surprise us sometimes. I’m hoping it will be sooner rather than later! What will it take for the masses to rise up and say “NO!”

  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: So we are in agreement that black and white rules of moderation are not possible?

    I tend to agree with you that using terms such as “fascist” out of context would constitute ad hominem attacks. I will continue to try and be more sensitive to this kind of language, and will appreciate people reporting posts where I have missed such statements. Of course, it is quite legitimate to say, “My therapist was a bully, because s/he would tell me I was stupid every time I questioned her.” Or to say, “This person subscribes to fascist ideology, as indicated by his references to quotes from Mussolini and his use of nationalistic slogans and identification of external threats as excuses to curtail civil liberties,” or that sort of thing. The issue would come if the person is trying to discredit an author or another poster by the use of such terms to refer to them or their writings without any such context. My preference is for folks to simply refer to the offending comment, such as “Mr. X uses the term ‘redskin,’ which I and I think most people consider racist” rather than “Mr. X is a racist because he said the word ‘redskin.'”

    So there is always a degree of subjectivity. But I don’t think we want a community where someone can say, “Oldhead is a slimy bag of feces” without being called out on it. Nor do I think we want a site where someone can’t say, “I think vaccine policy is highly influenced by unethical government agents in cahoots with the drug industry” without being called names or shunned or having his/her opinion censored just because their position may be viewed by others or MIA staff as controversial. Which is why we have the posting guidelines. But again, they’re guidelines, not rigid laws, and the goal is to have a free-flowing conversation while avoiding as far as possible unnecessary personal hostility, bigotry, and hurt feelings. As long as we keep that goal in mind, I think we can all live with the uncertainty of it. And as you know, I am always willing to listen to and discuss if anyone feels they are being treated unfairly. I am not sure how we can do any better than this.

  • Well, if we’re talking about whom we support politically, there are sides. I took your comments to be referring to the larger questions of knowledge/facts regarding COVID and other issues that are in conflict. I was objecting to the idea that there are “sides” when it comes to exploring the truth of a particular assertion. I don’t consider science to have “sides,” except for seeking the truth and using “science” to avoid or distort it. But using “science” to distort truth is not science at all.

    I do know the song you refer to. But as I recall, it was in reference to being on the side of those who are exercising power for their own benefits, vs. on the side of those who are attempting to come together to resist them. This seems pretty different from questions regarding what the actual threat from COVID is and how best to deal with it. As I have already stated clearly, politicians from both sides have tried to engage in “information management” or “messaging” to take advantage of this world-shaking issue and benefit themselves. I’m definitely NOT on their side. But I can’t embrace the idea that there is a “side of truth” and a “side of dishonesty” in this particular case. (Well, OK, there MAY be a side of dishonesty!) The sides I see are the side of using a disaster to manipulate people to support or oppose a political agenda, and those who are trying to figure out the best thing to do to ensure the safety of our population while remembering the limitations of our knowledge, and maximizing our ability to remain engaged and productive in our lives. That’s the only side I support fully.

    What I don’t support is the idea that there are those who believe and agree with everything you said above and those who don’t think COVID is real and don’t give a crap about anyone else but themselves (or those who are too foolish to avoid the deception of the Forces of Evil). I’ll provide a simple example: should one wear a mask while hiking in the woods, or at least when passing someone else on a hike? If I told you that the science suggests that outdoor mask-wearing outside of a close gathering of people is pretty much pointless, would you consider me part of the “other side?” Well, a recent tracking study in China tracked 7000 cases as to origin. Exactly ONE case out of 7000 was caught outdoors, and that one case involved a person talking to an infected person at close range for more than 15-20 minutes. So I don’t wear a mask outdoors, unless I am in a crowd. This is in violation of the CDC guidelines, which from a scientific point of view appear to be wrong. Does that make me one of those deceived by the forces of evil? Do I have to wear a mask while hiking to be considered on the “right side?”

    To reiterate: Politics has sides. Science does not have sides. Things are proven true, proven false, or are uncertain. Very, very few things fit into the first category. Generally, things are scientifically false or are uncertain. Uncertain situations require judgement, and judgement is based on data, not political agendas. Mixing science with politics creates bad science.

    I hope that clarifies my point. As to the Bush comment, it was just what came to mind when you said what you said. I’d certainly never compare you to Bush II, with whom I’d guess you have almost nothing in common. But I’m also not going to apologize for what thought came to mind when you said it, nor for sharing it. I hope it gives you pause to consider that you may be creating an impression that you don’t want to create.

  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: I challenge you to find an objective way to decide whether someone’s comments are “shaming” or make generalizations based upon a label or are an attack on a person vs. on what that person said. Moderation is unavoidably subjective, no matter how objective I try to make it. If we are in grey areas, I tend to use consultations with others, but again, not purely objective. Sometimes I pass something through and it ends up offending others for reasons I could not have understood until explained to me, and I have to reconsider.

    Sorry, but there will always be grey areas in moderation. Nature of the beast.

  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: When a certain number of “levels” are reached under a particular thread, the “reply” button disappears on new comments, and you have to go back to the last one that has a “reply” button and use it, and your post will end up at the end of the thread. It’s a feature of WordPress and not something we have control over.

    Hope that helps!


  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: Oldhead, you cut off the part of the last sentence you quoted about insisting that others agree with their personally-derived “truths.” MIA is and should continue to be a place to explore the truth, but when the discussion itself becomes increasingly authoritarian as it progresses, there is a point at which it is no longer productive of truth, as both sides are merely stating and restating their own ‘truth’ in a louder and louder voice, and things get more personal and insulting and it gets plain ugly.

    Admittedly, it is hardly an objective standard, but in the thread I asked people to let go of, it was most definitely getting into that realm and very far afield from the original topic.

    Sorry, there are no black and white rules in moderation! But I’m not moderating for content, except to the degree that off-topic conversations on any subject, when they become unproductive and backbiting, will be discouraged.

    Your idea of a different place to have this discussion is a good one. Not sure exactly how to bring that about, though. I’ll give it some thought.


  • Hi, Richard,

    I appreciate your inclusion of a lot more factual material in this comment. However, I do find using language like “Which side are you on?” does contribute to divisiveness. It reminds me of GW Bush’s “You’re with us or you’re against us” rhetoric back in the Iraq Ward run-up. I do agree that these issues are serious and we need to make our decisions based on facts rather than rhetoric, and that there are political agendas behind much of the supposed “facts” that we have been provided with. But not having reliable fact sources does put us all in the position of having to educate ourselves about how to evaluate what information is true. I’m hoping MIA will run an article or blog on this point, because I think people need help sorting out what is or isn’t true, and many don’t even know they need that help. I believe that acknowledging the point that it is difficult to know whom to believe is very important if we want to help more people make better evaluations of what “information” to believe.

  • Note how cleverly they say that “chemicals… MAY be unbalanced,” but then claim that the “medication” helps “restore the balance” of chemicals that they later admit they don’t know are actually “imbalanced” (which is why they say MAY). It is a clever workaround of “truth in advertising” laws, but I think it should never be allowed, because by claiming to restore the “balance,” they are essentially asserting a truth that is actually not known to be true.

  • Posting as moderator: COVID is a valid point of discussion if it is relevant to the article at hand. In this case, there is a claim that COVID is somehow moderated by psychostimulants, so that would be the topic of the conversation. Clearly, comments relating to COVID would be germane to the discussion. However, if the thread gets hijacked into talking about related issues that go too far afield from the article’s topic, I might end up asking folks to end the discussion, particularly if the discussion is becoming repetitive and escalating into personal attacks, as happened in the thread I believe you are referrin