Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Comments by Richard D. Lewis

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  • Robert

    I think it would be helpful if you came down a few notches from your high (no pun intended) horse and listen to what some of the commenters are trying to say here.

    I have stated in prior comments that I believe you have made several good postings at MIA. That being said, you still, in the final analysis, defend Psychiatry as if it is a legitimate part of medicine – to be only “reformed” and not “abolished” as history will clearly demand in the near future.

    Perhaps some of your dogmatic responses to the possibility that psychedelic drugs might be helpful to some people under certain (safe and highly controlled) conditions, is reflective of some your difficulty in being thoroughly dialectical materialist in your assessment of the scientific fraud that supports the existence of Psychiatry as a legitimate part of medicine.

    To clarify my beliefs on this question: I am NOT advocating or supporting the use of these drugs by Psychiatry. I have zero trust in this institution (as a whole) having the legal right to prescribe ANY mind altering substance to any human being, or other animal, for that matter.

    There have been prior blogs on the MIA website written by major critics of Biological Psychiatry who have found the use of certain psychedelic drugs, in carefully controlled and supportive environments, to help with reprocessing past traumatic events that WERE NOT accessible using other more commonly accepted therapeutic methods.

    Robert, are you aware of some of the more recent scientific evidence that indicates that memory is a very malleable phenomena in the brain that is subject to transformation and adjustment each time a person is able to access it through many different types of internal and external measures that overcome prior blockages?

    I believe there MAY BE emerging scientific evidence that certain psychedelic drugs might help people access certain traumatic memories in a way that helps them reprocess these past events in such a way (not previously possible) that allows them to move on from the negative power of said events. Perhaps there is also some anecdotal evidence from other people over the years who have also used these drugs recreationally that experienced some other similarly positive effects.

    Robert, do you deny that this evidence mentioned above might someday show that these drugs could prove to be helpful under certain circumstances?

    Yes, I also believe (as you do) that for many people, over the past several decades, psychedelic drugs could have caused great harm and contributed to dangerous, or unhelpful, forms of psychosis like effects. But we must be THOROUGHLY SCIENTIFIC when examining these questions, NOT mechanical and dogmatic in our outlook. And this is coming from someone who has written many blogs on the harm done by all categories of psychiatric drugs.

    Richard

  • Pitolay2002

    I like some of what you say here but the following part of your comment is WAY OFF:

    You said: ” Methadone has been used to treat opiate addiction for a long time and is currently considered the gold standard for the treatment of opiate dependence…”

    The “gold standard” comment only makes sense if you are talking about the profits of Big Pharma and the ability of the ruling classes to control certain sections of the population. The current uses of methadone are very dangerous and overall very harmful to those caught up in the clutches of the “orange handcuffs.” I suggest you read my past blog at MIA:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/04/manufacture-maintenance-oppression-profitable-business/

    And as to its dangers: less than 5% of opiate prescriptions involve methadone (a synthetic opiate), yet it is implicated in one third of all the deaths associated with opiate drugs.

    This profit based System we live under has NO solution to drug overdose crisis and as long as there is the existence of poverty and various forms of class oppression, it will NEVER be solved.

    And I will add, that I agree with many of the criticisms of this blog’s dogmatism when it comes to the possible benefits of psychedelic drugs, especially as it pertains to the reprocessing of past trauma experiences.

    Richard

  • Truth

    You said: “The drug and ECT damages to my brain mean no amount of love can help me to recover.”

    I don’t know how you define “recovery,” but I just want you to know that over the past several years reading all your comments, especially your unrelenting exposures of ECT and on going challenges to Dr. Healy, you do a masterful job of exposing some of Biological Psychiatry’s biggest crimes. Carry on; we need you!!!

    Comradely, Richard

  • FeelinDiscouraged

    You raise a good point about “spiritual abuse” being a form of trauma.

    I am aware of this problem and have frequently used the phrase “genetic theories of original sin” (which was originally coined by Ashley Montagu to describe biological determinism) to describe Biological Psychiatry’s “Disease”/Drug Based based theories and practice.

    The whole concept of “sin” can be very harmful to people, especially because it is based on myth and things that don’t exist, and is used punitively to make people feel bad at a core level.

    Richard

  • And BTW, I would NEVER defend OR promote the kind of “treatment” offered in all the current inpatient Psych Hospitals for WHATEVER problem people end up there for.

    Julie, I appreciate your detailed critical comments and personal accounts of the horrible “treatment “you have been subjected to over the years.

    Richard

  • Julie and others

    Even though I have a history of being a therapist, I NEVER mentioned “therapy” and NEVER mentioned “bad parenting,”(even though I do believe this can be a factor in some cases). I DID mention the possibility of a trauma history AND other types of conflict with one’s environment as being causal factors in what gets labeled as “eating disorders.”

    All this is predicated on the fact that we live in a very stressful, unjust, and often trauma filled world. Do you deny THIS reality and the fact that it is THE PRIMARY source of those human problems that get labeled as “mental illness?” As opposed to the “genetic theories of original sin” and other “diseased based” theories promoted by Biological Psychiatry, that represents pseudo-science at its best.

    And yes, I believe that what gets labeled as “eating disorders” (that happens FAR MORE often in women) is very much connected to women’s overall oppression within our society, especially the high rates of sexual abuse and the treating of women’s bodies as sexual objects. Do you deny this reality?

    I DO NOT say this is the ONLY factor, but certainly is a SIGNIFICANTLY IMPORTANT factor in these problems. And I believe most research would back this up.

    These problems are certainly NOT based in nutritional deficiencies as a primary causal factor as the author has promoted. Why are people NOT CONCERNED about this problematic form of REDUCTIONISM?

    Richard

  • Julie and others

    Do you (and others) not see the major problems with the OVERSIMPLIFIED and REDUCTIONIST views being promoted by this author?

    While I’m sure there are many origins for problems that get labeled as “eating disorders,” they DO NOT mainly DERIVE from “nutritional intake” issues. I believe it is correct to say that their origin derives more from ONE’S CONFLICT WITH THEIR ENVIRONMENT. This includes various forms of trauma experiences (or perceived trauma), especially in the early years of growing up.

    This author is using a lot of anti-Biological Psychiatry language, but then is using a REDUCTIONIST approach to say that bad nutrition is both the CAUSE and the SOLUTION to everything that gets labeled as a “mental health” issue.

    This author’s approach IS NOT helping our cause. She may be well intentioned in her work, but we must be equally as critical of this particular form of REDUCTIONISM as we are of mainstream Psychiatry.

    Richard

  • Ok, so let me get this straight; “eating disorders” are caused by “leaky gut” and solved by changing ones diet and/or nutritional intake. How dumb of me to think these were complicated questions.

    So, no need to examine any possible trauma history which could have directly affected a person’s body image or related desire to “disappear” (and not be noticed) or become less of a sexual object within a society with high rates of sexual abuse and objectification of the female body etc. OR explore other unresolved psychological stressors that could manifest themselves in power and control issues with food etc. etc.

    You are presenting a potentially dangerous oversimplification of these kind of problems and other forms of extreme psychological distress. This becomes almost the flip side of the same REDUCTIONIST type of coin promoted by Biological Psychiatry, even though it is dressed up in some anti-Psychiatry type language.

    Richard

  • Elizabeth

    You leave us with the impression that if we just had a “Revolution in Nutritional Health” all the “symptoms” that get labeled as “mental illness” would disappear in the world. This view is steering people AWAY from a more centrally important and vital political and social agenda.

    Extreme psychological distress PRIMARILY arises out of one’s conflict with a stressful, unjust, and often traumatic environment that frequently pushes the human species beyond its ability to adequately cope and adjust to these circumstances.

    I would strongly contend that these enormous stressors in society mainly have their origins in a class based and profit based economic and political system. Psychiatry has clearly evolved into a major institution of social control within this political framework.

    While nutritional health has some SECONDARY importance in the overall scheme of things, it is primarily a POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC REVOLUTION that must take place to create the material conditions in the world to eliminate those conditions that give rise to “extreme forms of psychological distress” that get mislabeled as “mental illness.”

    Richard

  • Elizabeth

    I agree with many of comments here challenging some of your central beliefs.

    In the recent blog on nutrition and “mental health” by Bonnie Kaplan and Julia Rucklidge, I raised the following question and comment – to which they never answered:

    “You said: “…our research has helped put on the map the idea that mental health problems CAN be addressed through nutrition, offering an alternative to our current approaches.”

    “What exactly is meant by this statement, especially your emphasis on the word “CAN”? I am a firm believer in science and the scientific method. I support your efforts at researching the value of nutrition as a valuable “aid” to recovery, but I believe it can be harmful and even dangerous to exaggerate its meaning if not backed up by proven science.

    “In my comment above I stated the following:
    “And more importantly, RECOVERY from these negative and harmful experiences in life must ultimately be UNDERSTOOD AND ADDRESSED in each person”s own experience and timetable for recovery. This may, or may not, require therapy, but most certainly will require A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT to nurture one’s recovery.”

    “It is here where good nutrition and gut health may be an important ENHANCEMENT or ADDITIONAL SUPPORT for such recovery by aiding a more suitable INTERNAL BODY ENVIRONMENT for such recovery, but NOT the PRINCIPLE MEANS for such recovery to take place.”

    “A person in recovery will STILL have to address the original traumas that began their conflict with their environment AND the subsequent traumas that took place when they encountered AN OPPRESSIVE “MENTAL HEALTH” SYSTEM that added to, and reinforced, earlier traumas. There can be no SUBSTITUTE OR SHORTCUT for doing this work.”

    Richard

  • Matt

    Great blog. Very insightful critique of some of the serious weaknesses remaining in the so-called “Critical Psychiatry” movement.

    Your emphasis taking on “System language” is an important lesson for many writers here at MIA who have not yet taken their own critique of what’s wrong with the “mental health” System far enough, or to the next level.

    And that next level will ultimately (in the final analysis) lead to an “anti-Psychiatry” position, that is, seeking to abolish Psychiatry as a legitimate medical specialty AND stripping them of any, and all, legal rights in society to take away a person’s human rights with disease labeling, forced drugging and incarceration in Psych hospitals.

    Matt, about your quote from John Read: “A dilemma for all of us … is whether or not to soften our criticisms of psychiatry in the hope of reaching those psychiatrists whose minds are not totally closed. But doing so rests on the assumption that change can come from within the profession.”

    I would add that it also comes from an incorrect outlook that says “gentle” and “unoffensive” criticism and/or political critique is the only type of feedback that leads to people actually changing their minds. This is simply NOT TRUE in the real world.

    In my own experience (as well as my knowledge of many other people I know), quite often, it is very sharp and uncompromising criticism that ends up forcing people to deeply examine their own belief system, thereby leading to a more radical transformation of one’s political outlook.

    I am not suggesting that personal attacks or cheap sarcasm and snide remarks are the way to go here. But let’s face facts here, there is a serious clash of world outlooks (based in a class society) that have devastating consequences on the daily lives of millions of human beings. This could very well lead to some type of Civil War. We don’t have time to be all “sweet” and “sensitive” about these life and death questions.

    Every one is usually somewhat defensive when they first encounter criticism of their views, but it is the reflective period that follows that can provide the basis for change. Soft peddling our views or fearing that we might offend someone’s feeling will only SLOW DOWN our Long March to true liberation from this madness.

    Richard

  • John

    Thanks for that source reference on Harvey Jenkins the founder of RC counseling. This article raises some serious questions about this type of therapy and those that practice it. This whole topic requires much more investigation before people should be promoting these programs.

    Richard

  • Peter

    In all my comments over the past few years I have always bent over backwards to find something positive in an author’s blog before raising some of my concerns or criticisms. I am always respectful and try to never allow myself to resort to cheap or snide comments or personal attacks. I try very hard to raise the level of political and moral discourse in every discussion I participate in.

    I stand by my sharp and unrelenting responses to this author. Do you not see his overriding arrogance in his belief that he is truly “enlightening” his students with this pathetic message covering up for and apologizing for such an oppressive “mental health” system? And especially his insulting belief that he has been so “successful” as psychiatrist over the past 30 years.

    Please read his past blogs (and the comment sections) and then decide what he has learned over the past 2 years. If anything his MONSTROUS HUBRIS has only become more inflated, and thus more dangerous.

    When there is this level of arrogance and hubris by defenders and apologists of the system, there is no room for trying to find “common ground.” This kind of trash must be exposed for what it is, without any efforts to sugar coat the reality of what is going on.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • “Emotional Skills and Strategies for Aspiring Mental Health Workers”

    Dr. Ragins, you have provided your students with a sure fire recipe for being “Good Germans” in the face of major human rights violations being carried out every day in this country.

    If any would be students entering today’s “mental health” system possess even a minor amount of critical thinking skills and a developed moral conscience, they will inevitably face the following political and moral conundrums on a daily basis:

    1) A massive amount of cognitive and moral dissonance regarding the daily harm perpetrated against millions who enter today’s Disease/Drug based Medical Model.
    2) A daily unrelenting discomfort and internal knot in their stomachs related to what they see being done to people and their particular role in carrying out possibly more harm, all in the name of “treatment.”
    3) Lost sleep thinking about the added traumas from the System that those unfortunate souls entering “treatment” have to suffer, and what could, and should be done to stop it.
    4) Moral dissonance on a daily basis about WHEN and HOW to “Blow the Whistle” on the crimes that they witness. And then heightened anxiety and paranoia when they do “Blow the Whistle” anticipating the System coming down on them and most likely losing their job and source of income.

    I am not suggesting that new students entering today’s System cannot help some people, or even make a difference by challenging the “Beast” from within. HOWEVER, this is a very difficult road to follow, filled with many obstacles and pitfalls. Dr. Ragins has offered his students nothing but better ways to “go along to get along;” that is, with a full set of moral blinders covering both their eyes and their heart.

    Dr. Ragins, why didn’t you tell your students to read Mad in America; an absolutely essential tool for anyone taking on today’s “mental health” system? Perhaps if they did read MIA on a regular basis they would have exposed your bogus defense of Biological Psychiatry.

    Two years ago in one of your blogs, Dr. Ragins, you boasted about yourself as being a “good psychopharmacologist.” Please tell us what you have learned over the past few years about which particular drug cocktails are “most effective” for your patients. And also tell us how many people you have “saved” by forcing them against their will into some kind of so-called “treatment.” Please, please tell us all your success stories; maybe we could all learn something from you. You obviously have decided that you cannot learn anything from us.

    Richard

  • Thank you for this thoughtful blog.

    As i stated in my very first blog at MIA:

    “Similarly, extreme states of psychological distress can lead to altered states of consciousness that are mislabeled as a “mental illness” and a “disease,” but could instead be better looked at as a creative and necessary coping mechanism dealing with an experienced and/or perceived hostile and threatening environment. This coping mechanism, as with addiction, may also prevent more extreme reactive behaviors or provide an escape or temporary relief from intense physical or emotional pain….”

    “Here is the rub. A problem often arises with both substance use leading to addiction and also with extreme states of psychological distress, when these behaviors and related thought patterns are sustained for extended periods of time, the formerly helpful coping mechanisms can gradually, or even suddenly, turn into their opposite and now become primarily self-destructive, self-defeating, and socially unacceptable*. This is especially true when the short term benefits of the behavior and resulting thought patterns start to shift and begin to cause far more immediate, as well as long term negative consequences for the individual and the people around them. Some people may now actually get stuck in this new state of being and be unable to find their way out by themselves. This is the point when we might say that these once helpful coping mechanisms have now seemingly become “stuck in the on position.” ”

    I would add the point that all of these “extreme states” have there own internal logic to them based on each person’s individual conflict with their environment. And the more conscious a person can become of this internal logic (within a safe and supportive environment) the better able they will be at resolving or adapting to this conflict; thereby ending or significantly reducing any self-defeating, self-destructive, or socially unacceptable behaviors or thought processes.

    Psychiatry and their entire Disease/Drug based/Medical Model of “mental illness” must not only be vigorously opposed, but ultimately abolished as a legitimate part of medicine.

    Richard

  • Thank you Bob for this important update on the state of “treatment” in Norway.

    This update does point out some minor cracks in the current oppressive “mental heath” system in Norway and throughout the world. Your painstaking efforts, together with other reformers, has helped create the basis for some change. We should not underestimate this development, nor should we overstate how far it takes us on the Long March toward ending all forms of psychiatric abuse.

    What this article points out is that Norway is quite unique in that it is both the origin of Open Dialogue and other important reformist efforts, BUT also at the same time has some of THE MOST Draconian laws in the world regarding the use of forced drugging and forced incarceration in Psych hospitals.

    This combination of extremes in Norway reflects a coming Civil War over these seriously divergent approaches.

    Today, Psychiatry is an extremely powerful institution in Norway and throughout the world. It performs a very important function of social control against the interests of those fighting for radical change. It will not allow its power to be diminished, even slightly, without a major fight.

    There already is significant push back in Norway on the part of Psychiatry against these particular (relatively minor) reforms. This push back will certainly intensify as things develop. Psychiatry is hoping for, and will seize upon with a vengeance , the first instance of violence or suicide in these small programs, and will attempt to crush any further reforms. We must not underestimate what we are up against here.

    I agree with those who say there can be no “Revolution in Psychiatry;” there can only be attempts at reform. Given the oppressive power that Psychiatry wields in today’s world, and the fact that it is an illegitimate branch of medicine, I believe there can only be (and must be) a Revolution AGAINST Psychiatry.

    Richard

  • Hi Bonnie

    You said: “…our research has helped put on the map the idea that mental health problems CAN be addressed through nutrition, offering an alternative to our current approaches.”

    What exactly is meant by this statement, especially your emphasis on the word “CAN”? I am a firm believer in science and the scientific method. I support your efforts at researching the value of nutrition as a valuable “aid” to recovery, but I believe it can be harmful and even dangerous to exaggerate its meaning if not backed up by proven science.

    In my comment above I stated the following:
    “And more importantly, RECOVERY from these negative and harmful experiences in life must ultimately be UNDERSTOOD AND ADDRESSED in each person”s own experience and timetable for recovery. This may, or may not, require therapy, but most certainly will require A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT to nurture one’s recovery.

    It is here where good nutrition and gut health may be an important ENHANCEMENT or ADDITIONAL SUPPORT for such recovery by aiding a more suitable INTERNAL BODY ENVIRONMENT for such recovery, but NOT the PRINCIPLE MEANS for such recovery to take place.

    A person in recovery will STILL have to address the original traumas that began their conflict with their environment AND the subsequent traumas that took place when they encountered AN OPPRESSIVE “MENTAL HEALTH” SYSTEM that added to, and reinforced, earlier traumas. There can be no SUBSTITUTE OR SHORTCUT for doing this work.”

    Could you please respond to my point about what will most often be the “principle means” for recovery from “mental health” issues? And could you justify not using quotations when using the term “mental health?”

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Understanding nutrition and gut health are very important areas to explore when looking at ways to ENHANCE recovery from severe forms of psychological distress.

    HOWEVER, we must be VERY CAREFUL to not fall into the trap of exaggerating its importance or reinforcing Biological Psychiatry’s own dangerous and faulty theories of “broken brain” chemistry.

    First off, it is doubtful that bad nutrition can be the ultimate cause of severe psychological distress OR its cure. If we promote such a view we are dangerously close to promoting the “chemical imbalance” theories of “mental illness” by the current oppressive “mental health” system. That is, a view that good nutrition will somehow “correct bad brain chemistry etc” or create a better environment for brain chemistry “to normalize…” etc. If we are not careful we are in danger of promoting false hope for people (and their families) who are seeking recovery for themselves or their loved ones.

    While there may be some more rare examples of people having severe distress related reactions to toxic chemicals and substances within our environment, it is more OVERWHELMINGLY THE CASE that what gets described as “mental illnesses” represents human conflict with a stressful and trauma filled (and/or perceived) environment.

    And more importantly, RECOVERY from these negative and harmful experiences in life must ultimately be UNDERSTOOD AND ADDRESSED in each person”s own experience and timetable for recovery. This may, or may not, require therapy, but most certainly will require A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT to nurture one’s recovery.

    It is here where good nutrition and gut health may be an important ENHANCEMENT or ADDITIONAL SUPPORT for such recovery by aiding a more suitable INTERNAL BODY ENVIRONMENT for such recovery, but NOT the PRINCIPLE MEANS for such recovery to take place.

    A person in recovery will STILL have to address the original traumas that began their conflict with their environment AND the subsequent traumas that took place when they encountered AN OPPRESSIVE “MENTAL HEALTH” SYSTEM that added to, and reinforced, earlier traumas. There can be no SUBSTITUTE OR SHORTCUT for doing this work.

    I am raising the above points, NOT as a criticism of the authors but only to help clarify important topics of discussion when dealing with nutrition and gut health.

    The authors made the following VERY IMPORTANT statement :
    ” we are living in an era in which drug companies have so totally corrupted scientists and clinicians that our audience members cannot believe that there is any other way to ‘do business’ in the scientific world.”

    This is oh so true! And unless and until we ELIMINATE, ONCE AND FOR ALL, the profit motive from all scientific, medical, and social supportive endeavors in our society, we WILL NOT be able to fully understand extreme forms of psychological distress in our society OR provide the means and overall supports necessary to promote ultimate recovery options.

    Richard

  • Humanbeing

    People must, and can only do, what they are capable of doing in this movement. There should be no quota system or unreasonable expectations.

    I love your participation here at MIA and always learn something from your comments.

    There is a role for every single person who yearns to be free from the oppressive yoke of Psychiatry and the overall System that sustains and requires its presence on this earth.

    Comradely, Richard

  • Kjetel

    Some very interesting and creative suggestions.

    An IMPORTANT EDITORIAL CORRECTION: the U.S. Imperialist war in Vietnam killed over 2 million Indochinese people, unless one does not view these people as somehow human. We do NOT want to appeal to any form of American/First World chauvinism when creating our various forms of protest.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Philip

    Your essay is a powerful piece to a developing manifesto for a much needed anti-psychiatry movement.

    You have brilliantly covered almost every necessary issue for such a manifesto, and made important suggestions for the way forward. And BTW, all of your proceeding writings on Psychiatry have made a major contribution to getting us to this current historical moment where we are on the cusp of launching a world changing anti-psychiatry movement.

    One important addition that needs to be made to your essay is in the realm of politics and economics. While you correctly pointed out the following political observation:

    “Psychiatry provides a “valuable” service to governments by promoting the false message that legitimate and appropriate responses to discriminatory and exploitative policies are symptoms of illness….
    Psychiatry is the cornerstone of a multi-billion dollar world-wide drug cartel.”

    We need to take this analysis a few steps further. Psychiatry has increasing become (over the past 4 decades) a required institution of social control for the preservation and growth of modern Capitalism. Their “genetic theories of original sin” are essential to shifting focus away from the inherent inequalities and daily traumas within a class based/profit system.

    Psychiatric labels along with their anesthetizing drugs, have been increasingly directed towards some of the more volatile sections of our society who are most likely to become the future agents of radical political change.

    And Big Pharma may have evolved into (with their enormous rates of profit growth) an industrial cartel TOO BIG TO FAIL, as U.S Imperialism competes with other growing Imperialist powers.

    And additionally, some of the inherent flaws in the way science is conducted, and the overall corruption of most scientific endeavors (especially psychiatric drug development), is intimately connected to the guiding principles of the profit motive infiltrating and harming every facet of our existence.

    Just as the key leaders within the environmental movement have linked the future of our planet to the need for more fundamental (systemic) political and economic changes in the world, the anti-psychiatry movement must also do the same.

    I am NOT suggesting that an anti-capitalist position has to be a necessary point of agreement (or basis of unity) to be in anti-psychiatry movement. I am only suggesting that it is necessary (when and where possible) to draw the real world connections between modern Psychiatry and modern Capitalism. To not do so would be to hide part of the reality we face in the world today as we fight all forms of human right violations, and it would also avoid discussing necessary strategic issues about exactly what it will take to end ALL forms of psychiatric abuse and oppression in the world.

    Comradely, Richard

  • Tina

    I have great appreciation and admiration for the work you do in the international/legal arena as well as, your struggle against all remaining vestiges of Patriarchy in our society. This includes within those movements claiming to be advocating for Revolutionary transformations in our society.

    When looking at the history of the Supreme Court in this country, their interpretation of the Constitution and Law (in general) has NEVER had some kind of inherent permanent essence divorced from the actual nature of the class struggle going on in this country at any particular time. They would have us believe that Supreme Court decisions are somehow PURE and unrelated to the political climate of the times.

    When looking at the history of racial politics in the U.S., the Supreme Court held onto the LEGAL interpretation/belief that Blacks were three fifths of a human being until this so-called accepted LEGAL belief had become totally UNTENABLE with the class struggle going on in the country as a whole.

    In this case it was Northern industrial capitalists in major conflict with Southern plantation owners holding onto a now archaic labor intensive slave system of production. This combined with a growing Abolitionist Movement (leading to international embarrassment and pressure) that all culminated in a major Civil War that led to a very bloody resolution of these contradictions.

    In the case of Psychiatry, with their power and legal rights to circumvent basic Constitutional freedoms (with forced drugging and incarceration in psych wards) that actually matches the same power as the Executive branch of the Presidency, how will this all actually be changed WITHOUT a corresponding level of mass class struggle that matches what took place place (for example) in the Civil War era?

    In others words, don’t we need a very powerful political movement in this country (including possibly another Civil War) in order to create favorable material conditions for such a dramatic shift in the Legal realm of government as it pertains to the power of modern Psychiatry?

    Richard

  • BetterLife

    Thank you for that story of medical/psychiatric oppression that is SO common these days.

    The dangers of anti-hypertensive drugs are under appreciated.

    AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the rise in fractures and falls in the elderly parallels the rise in BENZODIAZEPINE PRESCRIPTIONS that have dramatically risen (especially targeting women) over the past 2 decades.

    In fact, THERE IS NO OPIATE DRUG OVERDOSE CRISIS in this country, in reality
    there is A POLY-DRUG OVERDOSE CRISIS, where BENZODIAZEPINES more often play THE DECISIVE ROLE in the deadly drug cocktails that kill so many people.

    And Psychiatry, Big Pharma, and the FDA are guilty of the worst kind of medical negligence and manslaughter numbering in the hundreds of thousands. All of which is fueled by an underlying drive for profits and power that is inherent within a Capitalist system.

    None of this will end through a struggle for reforms. True reform (or more accurately labeled as TRANSFORMATION) can only come about through a struggle for Revolution – that ultimately means moving beyond a profit based Capitalist system.

    Richard

  • Oldhead

    Good points.

    While the high profit margins of the pharmaceutical industry is of a secondary nature when analyzing the necessity of the institution of Psychiatry for the survival (through social control) and growth of Capitalism, we should not minimize its significance either.

    The high profit margins of Big Pharma over the past 3 decades, especially the marketing and sales of psych drug in particular, have made this industry vitally important to the future preservation and growth of capitalism. Big Pharma may have become TOO BIG TO FAIL in the increasingly competitive world markets among other Imperialist powers.

    Also, we should not minimize the role of Big Pharma (and their drive to maximize profits) in the almost total control and manipulation of ALL SCIENTIFIC (pseudo-scientific would be more accurate) research promoting and justifying the use of harmful psychiatric drugs. I would argue that there cannot (and will not ) be the development of safe and more effective science in medicine (and no, Psychiatry is NOT medicine) until we move beyond a profit based economic and political system.

    Richard

  • Susan

    Thank you for this very important and powerful blog about this new book focused on a Marxist analysis of “mental illness.”

    This is an important book to discuss, and the critical issues you raise in your book review were very insightful regarding both the strengths AND weaknesses of this particular Marxist analysis.

    First off, it is absolutely necessary to start from a class analysis when viewing the history and nature of modern Psychiatry and it related oppressive “mental health” system. This book appears to accurately portray how Capitalism has had an increasing need for an institution like Psychiatry, and all their “genetic theories of original sin” – to shift focus away from a “diseased” society to “diseased” individual members within the society. This has become a useful and necessary means to maintain control in an increasingly more volatile world.

    I have pointed out many times at MIA that Psychiatry (and the entire “mental health system) has increasingly targeted (with labels and mind numbing drugs) those sectors of society who have consistently been historically the most active creative agents of change – this includes, minorities, women, prisoners, and other non-conforming sectors within our society. This has especially been the case in a post 1960’s world political landscape.

    The political and economic collusion between Psychiatry (APA) and Big Pharma since the 70’s contains many important lessons about how Capitalism currently attempts to maintain control of the masses, and how CRITICALLY IMPORTANT it is for all those who dream of a Revolutionary transformation of society to understand and oppose these developments. Unfortunately today, many on the Left do not understand these developments and the importance of working in this political arena.

    Susan, I am so glad to you pointed out how the author tended to dismiss or deny the critical role of the working class/proletariat AND its allies in bringing about the end of Capitalism and all forms of class oppression. And yes, there has been a dangerous and incorrect *religiosity* type legacy within Marxist theory to somehow view Revolution as “inevitable” WITHOUT the true makers of history *the masses* being the creative agents of change through CONSCIOUS and STRATEGIC activity in the material world.

    For all those people who believe that Socialist and Communist theory has remained stagnant and become obsolete over the past 4 decades, this is NOT TRUE. There have been some Communist theorists such as Bob Avakian, who have attempted to synthesized a new theoretical and strategic approach to Socialist/Communist Revolution. Check out the following link: http://revcom.us/avakian/science/ba-the-new-communism-en.html#availablebox

    Susan you stated: “…PSYCHIATRY CANNOT BE ABOLISHED WITHOUT ABOLISHING THE SYSTEM THAT REQUIRES IT”

    This is a powerful statement that is SO TRUE. And I would add that all forms of abuse that exist within today’s “mental health” system will not end until we move beyond a profit based system. This System (both Capitalism and its related “mental health” system) cannot be remodeled OR reformed; it must be completely dismantled.

    With the election of a Fascist Trump regime in the U.S., we all have important moral and political responsibilities to oppose these development, and also some favorable conditions to raise people’s consciousness about ALL forms of oppression and ways to seek an end to this Madness.

    Richard

  • Oldhead

    I am not attributing this to Trump. The conditions in the U.S. to suspend the Constitution have existed for many decades for both Psychiatry and the Executive Branch.

    I do believe that the current election of Trump represents a serious leap in the direction of Fascism in the U.S. I believe this increases the likely hood of even more future examples of totalitarian forms of oppression throughout many institutions in this country.

    I believe that Psychiatry will only GAIN in power under a Trump administration, and that Psychiatry will be used as an even greater weapon against the masses in the coming period.

    We must unite all who can be united to drive the Trump regime out of power. Of course, our work will not end with such a campaign, but such a movement would create more favorable conditions to reach even greater goals in our efforts to end all forms of inequality and oppression.

    Richard

  • Daniel

    Great blog and exposure of the totalitarian nature of Psychiatry in this country.

    Psychiatry has exactly the same authority as the executive branch of government in the U.S. That is, the ability to suspend and circumvent the Constitution by taking away a person’s fundamental rights in a so-called free society. A Fascist President like Trump can suspend the Constitution in order to deal with so-called terrorist threats (real or made up) – think this can’t or won’t happen – THINK AGAIN!

    And a psychiatrist can simply sign a piece of paper after a 5 minute conversation with a cop or a “mental health” worker and anyone’s basic Constitutional rights can be removed in a heartbeat. You can then be sent to a psychiatric hospital (prison!) and drugged into oblivion and only possibly receive some type of court hearing days later. And in such a court hearing the power differential is stacked way in the favor of Psychiatry.

    Check out this article at Refusefascism.org and you will read a very similar story about the role of cops and threats of Psychiatry being used to oppress those resisting this System and Trump’s election: https://refusefascism.org/2017/01/17/brutal-arrest-outrageous-charges-nypd-assaults-refuse-fascism-activist/

    Richard

  • Sandra

    WOW! What a powerful letter that is eloquently brimming over with an appropriate level of moral outrage and resistance against all the backward and harmful trends within your profession and also extending out to the broader world surrounding us.

    I have consistently (in my blogs and comments at MIA) been challenging doctors and others, working within the ‘System’ and their professions, to take risks and find ways to challenge “business as usual” within an oppressive status quo. This is a powerful example of how various professionals can find creative ways to do this.

    Sandra, you have found a unique and important way to express your own moral outrage, and also challenge others at the same time to raise their heads and look around at the dangerous scientific and political trends manifesting themselves around us. I salute your courageous efforts here and challenge other professional to follow in your wake.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Interesting blog worthy of more in depth investigation.

    The author, Niall McLaren’s descriptive identification at the end of the blog states the following:

    ” Jock McLaren is an Australian psychiatrist who worked 25yrs in the remote north of the country. He occupies himself delving into the philosophical basis of psychiatry, only to find there isn’t one. This has not helped his popularity with his colleagues, now well into negative territory.”

    I disagree with this description. There is a philosophical basis for all theories and practices in the real world. In this case modern Psychiatry has a philosophical basis rooted in “Idealism” and “Mechanical (as opposed to ‘Dialectical”) Materialism and Reductionism.”

    And for those not familiar with philosophical terminology, these are philosophical theories and approaches that are not provable in the material world and totally abstracted from a true scientific methodology.

    This is not meant to be a criticism of Niall McLaren, but only a philosophical critique of the description written on this website.

    Richard

  • Perhaps we should phrase it this way:

    We need to pay attention to the “MAIN EFFECTS” of psychiatric drugs (not medications) which are overwhelming NEGATIVE and HARMFUL to people tasking the drugs as prescribed.

    The few examples of people reporting positive benefits from psychiatric drugs are either due to the “placebo effect” or examples of rare and unusual “SIDE EFFECTS”.

    Richard

  • Robert

    Thank you for responding to this difficult issue.

    I am an admirer and supporter of the work you do. I also admire the fact that you speak out about what is wrong with Psychiatry and with today’s “mental health” system. You sound like a very caring and compassionate therapist. If I needed such help I might be very inclined to seek you out.

    You wrote the following:
    “I do my best to speak out. I’m clear about the state of psychiatry in today’s world. My identity is not political. I am a practitioner and this is what I value.”

    I believe you greatly underestimate the power of your words and actions when it comes to defending the future existence of Psychiatry as a medical specialty.

    Whether or not you like to identify as “political” your implicit defense of Psychiatry as a medical entity is most certainly a clear political statement (especially to those open minded people questioning the status quo) that has broad implications and specific EFFECTS in the real world. It might even preclude some people from believing it is necessary to look much deeper into the serous problems facing us in regards to the current crisis in “mental health” throughout the world. Knowing the true nature of Psychiatry in today’s world is a big part of knowing what must be changed etc.

    I believe it is our moral responsibility, in the face of the horrors that are spewed out daily with massive psych drugging, Electro-shock, forced hospitalizations etc., to do as much as we can to stop it all from happening and create more favorable conditions for future systemic changes in the world.

    If politically aware and conscious psychiatrists are not resigning from their profession as a more advanced MORAL and POLITICAL stance, then there could be some other justifiable reasons to hold on to the MD moniker/credential while still exposing the faulty science that props up its existence.

    For example, 1) radical doctors could be very helpful in providing medically necessary backup support for newly developed alternative respite programs for people experiencing psychosis etc. 2) Or use their medical credentials to provide (and scientifically study) much needed safe withdrawal programs and/or protocols for the millions of people trying get off these toxic psych drugs. 3) And lastly (but not less important) some doctors might keep their credentials to gain access to all the organizations and medical forums and meetings where they could continuously raise hell and disrupt “business as usual” by condemning all forms of psychiatric abuse and those people, especially the top leaders of Biological Psychiatry and Big Pharma, who are responsible for all the high crimes of medical negligence.

    Other than what I just stated, I can’t conceive of any justification for defending and holding on to a psychiatrist/MD credential given what it represents in today’s world. And to do so helps perpetuate (in certain ways) the myth of “mental illness” and all the horrible forms of “treatment” that go with it.

    Of course there are PhD doctors of psychology who provide therapy of various quality levels, and this represents a completely different category for which I am not presently raising any major critical questions at the same level.

    Robert, it sounds like you are very satisfied and proud of the work you do as a therapist; I get that. But please don’t underestimate the effect of your LACK of decisive action when it comes to challenging the very essence of the psychiatric profession when it comes to the legitimacy of calling it “medicine” or a legitimate medical specialty.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • drt

    I have been reading your comments for a couple of years now. I always feel your passion and learn something from the experience you share . And thanks for the positive feedback.

    BTW, I just went to a forum discussion in my town last night on the opiate epidemic. There were some nurses and doctors there as well as other citizens. I focused my comments (and I said a lot as you might imagine) on the benzodiazepine crisis raging in this country, including its connection to the opiate crisis. People were very open to these comments, but there is so much ignorance out there. We have Mount Everest to climb when you look at all the billions spent by Big Pharma and the APA to brainwash people about brain “diseases” and the so-called curative powers and safety of their drugs.

    We have much work to do.

    Richard

  • Robert

    Thank you very much. You have just provided a very educational exposure of how screwed up and oppressive our current healthcare system is, and how intimately it is connected to the inherent whims (inner logic) of the role of “capital” within a profit based capitalist system.

    This healthcare crisis will only worsen in the coming years for exactly the reasons you have outlined. This will not (and cannot) get fixed WITHOUT major systemic changes that move us out of, and beyond, a capitalist based profit system.

    The same could be said for saving the planet from environmental destruction and overturning and dismantling the oppressive nature of our so-called “mental health” system.

    In all of these current oppressive institutions (Psychiatry, Big Pharma, and the Energy Industrial Complex etc.) profit and power rule the roost and guide their every move and decision. Until the masses of people seize control of these institutions, and the overall reigns of government, and install a more EQUALITARIAN NONPROFIT BASED ECONOMIC SYSTEM, all these problems we face will only get worse.

    And finally, Psychiatry has now become a very useful way to control some of the more volatile sections of the masses – those who are most likely to become radical political activists and threaten the status quo. They will either drug you or incarcerate you (in their jails euphemistically called “hospitals”) and/or do both.

    I am now of the belief that Psychiatry (and their paradigm of so-called “treatment”) will not, and cannot, be put into a museum where they belong with other historically oppressive institutions, unless and until we end capitalism.

    Richard

  • Robert

    Your call for “A New Paradigm for Psychiatry” provides absolutely NO justification for the continuation of Psychiatry as a medical specialty in today’s world.

    Your theory of “the play of consciousness in the theater of the brain” has great merit as one way to explain severe psychological distress. I have no doubt you are a very good therapist who has helped many people overcome enormous problems coping with a very unjust world.

    But where is your scientific rationale for keeping Psychiatry as a medical specialty when the essence of what you do in the real word is “therapy,” and also the construction of well thought out therapeutic theories for how best to work with people in distress?

    Since you agree that there are no brain “diseases” and the Medical Model is absolutely wrong when looking at ways of analyzing and providing support for people in distress, why hold on to the credential of Psychiatry/MD? Doesn’t the very existence of the MD moniker mislead people as to what you do and perpetuate the belief that these are “medical” problems that you are addressing in therapy?

    Yes, while Biological Psychiatry is the worst of Psychiatry on steroids, our Grandmother’s Psychiatry several decades ago was also quite oppressive when we look at the existence of lobotomies, Electro-shock, and other oppressive forms of “treatment” that people were subjected to. You even agree that psychoanalysis, which was more prevalent among psychiatrists in this period, also had its serious problems.

    One of best ways to proceed in a current movement to end ALL forms of psychiatric abuse is for activist doctors to declare Psychiatry THE SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL FRAUD that it TRULY IS in the real world.

    Robert, you could play a much more powerful role in this movement if you, as a psychiatrist with the MD moniker, would renounce the complete legitimacy of your profession as a medical specialty and sacrifice all the power and financial benefits that go with it.

    This would make a very important statement to the world that could potentially change many people’s thinking on the true nature and oppressive role of Psychiatry. And actually, this act of courage and defiance would provide a much STRONGER AND POWERFUL BASIS to promote your highly creative and useful theories of providing supportive therapy for those experiencing extremes forms of psychological distress.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Hi Noel

    Great blog and great questions posed. Most of the answers are all there if only there weren’t the impediments of profit (and a profit based capitalist system) and power standing in the way.

    Another reason for the connection of religion to psychosis (besides ignorance in the face of unexplained chaos and unbearable trauma experiences that lead people to seek “out of this world” answers and solutions) is the acute perception of a struggle between “good and evil.” Here is where the theories of “original sin” (both the religious and the pseudo-scientific) take over and influence people in a very negative direction.

    People end up believing they are very bad or even evil at their core especially if very horrible things like childhood sexual abuse occur etc. Then, of course, Biological Psychiatry swoops in and tells people they have defected genes and are permanently “diseased.”

    Some people experiencing deep psychosis related to trauma experiences will at some point believe or claim they are “Jesus Christ.” Think about it for a moment, if you have been heavily influenced by religious myth, you might end drawing the following conclusion:

    “I must be Jesus Christ (or his or her equivalent) because how else can one explain a human being somehow being allowed to endure SO MUCH pain and suffering as I have endured. I must be “God’s” sacrifice for all the sins of others, and I must have a religious purpose that flows out of these horrible experiences.”

    That false conclusion flowing out of a psychosis ,BTW, is a million times less harmful and dangerous than the myths (and daily practice) promoted by the institutions of Psychiatry and Big Pharma running today’s “mental health” system.

    Richard

  • Important topic to expose.

    But I have a SERIOUS problem with the title of this article and I think the MIA editorial staff should consider making an immediate change.

    “Benzodiazepines Continue to be Prescribed Without Psychotherapy to Older Adults”

    The implication from this title is that things would be OK or better if therapy was somehow included with the benzos. In fact, is this not the standard status quo approach promoted by the Biological Psychiatry paradigm of so-called “treatment.” That is, that psych drugs COMBINED with therapy is the so-called “best practice” approach to providing care to those people in some sort of psychological distress.

    Of course, in reality the mention of therapy is just some sort of inconsequential “lip service,” when the reality is that Psych drugs represent the new “STANDARD OF CARE” in community mental health and throughout organized medicine.

    If benzos are given to people, either young OR old, for longer than two weeks (counting time for a safe withdrawal) EVEN with the greatest therapist or therapeutic program, they will most certainly end up with some serious drug related iatrogenic damage or possible death, PERIOD – END OF STORY!!!

    Medical crimes and other forms of malpractice are being committed on a daily basis, especially with the elderly, but broadly throughout our society. With almost a hundred million benzo prescriptions every year in this country, most being long term, we have a crisis of epic proportions.

    And don’t forget that at least 30 percent of all opiate overdose fatalities involve the use of benzos, where benzos may actually be the key component of the particular drug cocktail that leads to death. I believe this figure could possibly be closer to 50 percent given that about 60 percent of all opiate drug users (both legal and illegal) use benzos on a regular basis.

    Richard

  • We have lost a great fighter for truth in science and for more humane care of those suffering from extreme psychological distress.

    As some one who is anti-psychiatry, I clearly recognize the important contribution Mickey Nardo has made toward ending all forms of psychiatric abuse and holding those accountable for the corrupted science that has harmed so many people.

    Thank you Sandra for writing such an eloquent tribute to this man. You have truly honored his humanity and his historical legacy. This was so much more meaningful than the more obtuse writing of David Healy.

    Richard

  • Sandra

    I appreciate your willingness to wade into this extremely important and contentious issue of the use of ‘force.’

    It sounds like these “reformers” are still very much stuck within a paradigm of overall psychiatric oppression and defending Psychiatry as necessary institution within our society. I would guess that in the end they would still be so-called “reluctant” users of force and somehow justify its use in so-called “extreme” circumstances.

    I would urge you to read my blog “May the ‘Force’ NEVER EVER Be With You: The Case for Abolition” https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/10/may-force-never-ever-case-abolition/
    Here I make a strong case for “abolition” (from every possible angle) with no room for ANY exceptions. What follows is some concluding paragraphs from that blog:

    “So all of these arguments regarding the use of ‘force’ in the mental health system boil down to the following points:

    1) ‘Force’ causes FAR more harm than good.
    2) ‘Force’ violates every precept of human rights in a so-called free society.
    3)‘Force’ inevitably leads to more sustained psychiatric drugging and its related iatrogenic damage to the mind and body.
    4)‘Force’ leads to greater forms of social control using threats of future incarceration (in psych wards or jails) and coercive forms of monitoring within the community at large; this includes various levels of coercive psychiatric drugging.
    5)We have no way of proving where the use of ‘force’ will ever lead to positive outcomes, or where its lack of use has led to an increase in negative outcomes.
    6)We know for sure that force has caused great harm to some people, and ultimately fatal or permanent harm for far too many of its victims.”

    “A principled and uncompromising stand for the abolition of all ‘force’ in today’s “mental health” system creates the most favorable conditions to challenge and educate people about the true nature of psychiatric oppression. It shines a spot light on everything that is wrong with the “mental health” system and the unjust and abusive power that Psychiatry wields in today’s world. Such a stand unites with the highest aspirations of those people desiring true liberation and freedom from all human rights violations and forms of oppression.”

    “To all those survivors of Biological Psychiatry and those at risk of falling into its clutches, AND to all those working inside the Beast yearning for radical change, MAY THE ‘FORCE’ NEVER EVER BE WITH YOU!”

    Richard

  • Great blog.

    You have taken a very principled position at great expense to your ability to work in your chosen field. It may not be immediately apparent now, but this kind of activism will cause people to question and reevaluate the role of Biological Psychiatry in every facet of the “mental health” industry.

    Let the whistle keep blowing!

    Richard

  • Matt and Sandra

    Sandra, I appreciate your blog and the issues you are willing to critically explore, including your own biases and the related moral issues regarding the role of psychiatry.

    When you say: “…to all who merit the diagnosis of schizophrenia…”

    I believe you are still perpetuating the worst of Psychiatry’s harm through it’s use of oppressive labels and the resulting horrible treatment that flows from their use. By not challenging the very existence of this particular label (among many that fill the DSM Bible), especially by using quotations, are you not succumbing to the very historical biases you are now questioning?

    Matt, I agree with all of your above points but would add this MOST IMPORTANT point to the list. The “bio-genetic focus” you refer to has an especially important role within an oppressive status quo (a profit based Capitalist/Imperialist society) of shifting the focus AWAY from people examining what is inherently wrong with the political and economic structures within our society. Instead it shifts the focus to people blaming society’s harms on “genetic theories of original sin” or so-called inherent flaws in human nature. How convenient his becomes for the ruling classes to be able to maintain their power and control over the broad masses of people.

    Richard

  • Frank

    I believe we should view our movement against psychiatric abuse (including the anti-psychiatry wing) as in the same type of position as the environmental movement. Both are life and death movements of great significance and consequence, but we cannot fully protect this planet from destruction under a profit first (by any means necessary) capitalist system.

    To think we can fully protect this planet without a Revolution is a delusion promoted by all those who believe that capitalism can be reformed to become a humane system. The same could be said about our efforts at ending psychiatric abuse

    In the capitalist “marketplace of ideas” anti-psychiatry is just one of a million political perspectives relegated to the back pages or to some 30 second sound bite on the television news. If this movement becomes too powerful it will be more viciously attacked by the very powerful institutions of Psychiatry and Big Pharma. They are clearly now viewed by the ruling classes as TOO BIG and IMPORTANT TO BE ALLOWED TO FAIL.

    I am not promoting a defeatist type approach here; I am just trying to be realistic as to what we are up against. All the “fraud” and human damage done that you point out that comes from the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex, this is exactly the fodder we have to work with. All this exposes the criminal nature of these institutions and presents the masses with enough reasons to lose faith in this capitalist system and the class of people that run and benefit from its existence.

    And yes, if and when a new socialist system comes into being there will need to be an important summation of past mistakes so all forms of totalitarian control can be once and for all eliminated. That includes all forms that have derived from “mental health” systems.

    Richard

  • Hi Frank

    It is not a question of whether the struggle against Psychiatry and capitalism are “contingent” upon each other. It is more a question that, at this historical juncture, the capitalist system “needs” Psychiatry to maintain its existence for several reasons – both economic and political.

    For that reason, in the final analysis we will have to end a profit based capitalist system BEFORE we can fully end Psychiatry. And the struggle against psychiatric abuse on a broad scale can be a very important human rights struggle that can help expose capitalism and rally forces against ALL forms of oppression under the capitalist system.

    I believe remnants of Psychiatry will still exist after a social Revolution against capitalism. So yes, the struggle against Psychiatry (and all its forms of backward thinking about “mental health”) would necessarily have to continue after such a Revolution. But NOW, the material basis would exist for the people to finally isolate and expose Psychiatry in such a way that it would ultimately wither away and go out of existence.

    As Oldhead said in a previous comment, this does NOT mean that you can’t wage struggle against psychiatric oppression without always raising anti-capitalist rhetoric. But it does make sense to try to constantly point out the connection between these two entities. And especially, educate people how vital Psychiatry is for the future preservation of a capitalist system.

    Richard

  • Robin

    As a person who is anti-psychiatry, I appreciate your willingness to respond to this intense discussion. I also appreciate your empathy for those harmed by psychiatry and your willingness to admit past mistakes.

    Given the current levels of harm perpetrated by the institution of Psychiatry throughout the world, I believe history demands even greater efforts at speaking out about those serious problems, and the willingness to take risks at disrupting “business as usual” within the psychiatric field.

    Robin, given your unique position and reputation within the psychiatric field, I believe your words and actions could have a very positive effect at bringing about change, if you are willing to take the necessary risks in doing so. I hope to read more in the future about your efforts at taking these type of ethical and moral stances against all forms of psychiatric abuse.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Frank

    Apologies are not without meaning or importance in the struggle to end psychiatric oppression. Some members of the profession may actually stop practicing, or possibly devote their career work to helping psychiatric victims safely withdraw from their toxic drugs and cast away their labels. And most importantly some psychiatrists might actually start raising hell within all psychiatric organizations exposing the harm done and the faulty science propping up the entire institution.

    Any activity like I just mention could help to promote various splits and divisions within psychiatry. These kind of intense political divisions have historically always preceded the end of most oppressive institutions. Any and all splits within Psychiatry should be both welcomed and exploited by all anti-psychiatry activists. We should be encouraging and supportive to all those psychiatrists willing to apologize for harm done, AND for becoming active to end ALL psychiatric forms of oppression.

    However, the issue of “apologies” was not my main point in my above comment. You did not address my point about how at this time in our history Psychiatry has become such a vital part of how the current ruling classes can maintain their power and control of the masses.

    Psychiatry affords the status quo a vey effective and legal way to render potential rebels and creative agents of change ineffective through psychiatric labels, drugs, and incarceration in locked units. Also, the pharmaceutical industry has become a vital component of the entire U.S. economy, and psychiatric drugs are a major part of their profit portfolio. And for these reasons, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the future of Psychiatry is inseparably linked to the entire future of the capitalist/imperialist system – you cannot effectively fight or end one without targeting the other.

    Richard

  • Olga

    I salute your skepticism and your willingness to bare your soul regarding your experiences both within, and with, this oppressive “mental health” system.

    This discussion reminds me of a lyric line from a John Gorka song when he sings “…where paranoia makes common sense….” Given the material circumstances we now face on this planet regarding the power of certain institutions, skepticism in the face of such enormous power is a very healthy way to view the world.

    Given the enormous power Psychiatry has gained in our society over the past 4 decades, we must reexamine all preconceived notions about what it will take to confront this beast. Especially, when we look at just how entrenched it has become within the fabric of societal forms of social control. I believe that those in power are becoming more and more aware of exactly what they have with an institution that can can so easily circumvent the Constitution and restrain and drug people at will.

    We must not forget that many of the people who are today most victimized by Psychiatry’s oppressive system are from the same social strata and groups of people who were the political rebels and creative agents of change in the 1960’s. In a newly “Trumped Up” world we should only expect this power to be exercised in even greater amounts, and perhaps even with unforeseen forms of control, in the not so distant future.

    I believe that the future of Psychiatry and the political and economic system from which it arose, (and now sustains it), are now inseparably linked. The rise and fall of this profit based capitalist/imperialist system and Psychiatry, now have the same destiny. It is up to us to put them both in the dustbin of history. Nothing short of that will lead us to a world free of such oppressive forms of power and control.

    For this reason we should expect there to be a group within the institution of Psychiatry to make apologies for the worst of their crimes. Some will have legitimate changes of heart, but others will be the kind of apologists who are trying to desperately preserve and protect this institution from a (hopefully) inevitable demise. We must do our best to sort out the genuine from the fake apologies as they develop in the future. But a HEALTHY SKEPTICISM will be one of our greatest assets in seeking future revolutionary change in the world.

    Olga, your words are filled hope and sanity in such an insane world. Carry on!

    Comradely, Richard

    Richard

  • Matt

    I agree with your point here. We must be able to acknowledge both aspects of this development with Murray’s self-criticism.

    Yes, it is a very significant event and laudable that Murray has made these admissions, but we must also understand the context for these developments and also examine what may be the motivations for a psychiatrist to make these statements.

    First off it reveals some of the positive advances the anti/critical psychiatry movement has made in its challenges to Biological Psychiatry. But it also reveals some of the current defensiveness and self preservation that is going on in their profession. Some psychiatrists, like Allen Frances and others, are aware that the entire scientific foundation of Psychiatry is beginning to be shaken to its core by current challenges.

    As a result of these developments many psychiatrist are consciously, or unconsciously, trying to find a way to justify and protect the future of their profession. Therefore, they see the need to criticize the more extremist positions and most vulnerable practices and positions of their profession in order to preserve their existence as a medical entity, and not lose ALL credibility.

    To build a successful movement to radically change the status quo (of an oppressive “mental health” system) we must be able to both support and praise psychiatrists willing to criticize their profession, but also TARGET the LEADERS of Biological Psychiatry who are desperately trying to defend and preserve their overall oppressive profession with partial, or half baked critiques, that deny the reactionary essence of Psychiatry’s social and political role in society.

    Richard

  • Eve

    I appreciate your critical approach and your action of conscience by quitting this truly oppressive system. In 2015 I resigned (as an LMHC therapist) from a community “mental health” clinic after 23 years of service for many of the same reasons.

    I appreciate you writing about this experience and putting the words “mental health” in quotations as part of your critical approach.

    However, I must point out that you did use the word “medication” perhaps a dozen times in this blog. Here you are being inconsistent in your critical approach by perpetuating the myth that psychiatric drugs are somehow “medications.” Real medications treat scientifically proven cellular anomalies and biological disease processes. This is hardly the case with the total lack of any true biological markers or a scientific basis for the DSM V psychiatric diagnoses.

    Biological Psychiatry in collusion with Big Pharma have spent billions of dollars, over four decades, promoting a false belief and narrative that mind altering psychiatric drugs are “medications” targeting “chemical imbalances” and brain “diseases.”

    If we want to truly dismantle this oppressive “mental health” system we must totally stop using their unscientific and harmful language describing these mind altering drugs as “medications.” Language is an important part of any historically oppressive institutional paradigm, and it will NOT change unless WE MAKE IT CHANGE – NOW!

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Princess

    You are wrong about Brooke Shields. Brooke (who had a very controlling mother who allowed her to be photographed nude as a child) ended up with a depression diagnosis and put on antidepressants. She became a poster child for Biological Psychiatry’s bogus diagnoses and drug treatments.

    Unfortunately, she became a target of Tom Cruise’s Scientology rants which was not only unfair to Brooke Shields, but also gave *System* critics a bad name.

    Richard

  • Jarett

    A truly inspiring story of someone who has been able to climb out of the Hell of the current “mental health” system and then speak out with such a powerful voice. I hope you continue to educate yourself about the criminal nature of Biological Psychiatry and use your story to educate others.

    I have a couple of questions and additional comments: How much were you influenced in your recovery by the emerging movement against psychiatric abuse – such as websites like MIA and other critical writers, including psychiatric survivors?

    Have you considered the long term effects of benzo dependency causing a condition similar to what happens with long term opiate use, that is, “Opioid Induced Hyperalgesia.” The long term use of these drugs actually makes a person more sensitive to pain, thus lowering their pain/frustration tolerance level. I believe that benzos may also cause a similar type reaction in the body due to its disturbance and overall down regulation of Gaba receptors.

    On the issue of language, especially calling psychiatric drugs “medications.” Remember the use of the term, “medications,” is a “System” term that is the strategic result of literally billions of dollars of advertising by Big Pharma in collusion with Biological Psychiatry. True medications in the field of medicine address human disease processes or other cellular anomalies in the body. Psychological distress of a severe nature is NOT a disease. Even “post traumatic stress” is a real reaction to our conflict with our environment and we should probably make it a point to leave off the “disorder” part to not reconcile with “System” language and all their DSM diagnoses. Psychiatric “drugs” are exactly that: mind altering drugs, and I believe it is very important for us to use this scientifically more accurate language to counter the false narrative promoted by Biological Psychiatry.

    Sometimes mind altering “drugs” can play a positive role for some people, especially in the short term. So by countering the “System” narrative (by not using the term “medications”) we are not necessarily promoting and “anti-drug” position. Food for thought.

    Once again, great blog! I hope you write more in the future.

    Richard

  • Bonnie

    Don’t forget that Gandhi had the world renown reputation as a so-called “nonviolent/pacifist revolutionary activist.”

    It is an historical truth that during his lifetime there was not a single war he did not like, and he ended up actively helping to recruit people to fight in those wars.

    It is amazing how history is often twisted to serve certain political agendas.

    And the inspiring story of Helen Keller who became world famous (even had a Hollywood movie made of her life) by overcoming being without sight and the ability to hear, was robbed by historians of her Revolutionary essence. She once wrote an essay praising Lenin as a great revolutionary leader of the Russian Revolution. Who ever heard about this part of her life?

    We must be careful who we promote as strategic icons in the pursuit of Revolutionary change. BTW, this comment is not intended to promote pacifism as a political strategy. I am only pointing out the contradictory nature of Gandhi and how he has been promoted historically.

    BTW, I did like your blog and your use of humor to make important political points promoting anti-psychiatry. May you have a productive new year.

    Richard

  • I agree with the criticism raised by most of those commenting here.

    I believe the there were good intentions in the posting of this article. However, the way in which it combines multiple viewpoints and a collection of conflicting half truths leads readers to some dangerous conclusions that ends up minimizing the nature of the worldwide benzodiazepine disaster.

    In my 25 years of working around psychiatrists, many often emphasized that their patients needed to take benzos “only as prescribed,” that is, several times a day on a particular schedule, and “not as needed.” We now know that it doesn’t really matter how benzos are taken, they will, in short order, lead to serious and harmful consequences.

    As Humanbeing has pointed out in her comment, the onus for problems are more often put on the patients and NOT on the doctors, Psychiatry, and Big Pharma – which is where the ultimate responsibility belongs.

    The concluding remarks of this article that end up emphasizing that benzos need to be prescribed “more carefully” is a gross minimization of the problem. This is a line that is often repeated by many mainstream doctors and psychiatrists, but is virtually meaningless in the context of the actual benzo crisis that is taking place across the planet.

    Richard

  • Hi Carina

    The brevity of your posting in no way undermines its oh so powerful message of wonder and hope.

    You said: ” Maybe someday I will be big enough to stand up. Maybe someday I will be brave enough to do my part and do what I should have done a long time ago.
    Amidst all the lights and tinsel, the presents and the aromas from bubbling pots my mind is needled by the unrelenting thought — does it really have to be like this?”

    Yes, we all can and must do more, and yes, that does mean taking more risks to do so. To acknowledge this truth about ourselves in these difficult times is part of the power and beauty of your words.

    “…does it really have to be like this?”

    Your words and your courage to say/write them says volumes about the true answer to this vexing question we should be asking ourselves every single day of our existence on this planet.

    Have a Great Holiday Season Across the Pond!
    Comradely, Richard

  • Fiachra

    I don’t see the sarcasm you describe regarding the use of the term “medications” to substitute for “psychiatric drugs.” As I said above, Psychiatry and Big Pharma spent billions to convince the masses that their drugs are indeed, “medications,” and they have succeeded quite well in getting over with this false narrative. Why should we unknowingly perpetuate this harmful narrative by using THEIR carefully chosen language?

    Why do we somehow need to “concede” to them the use of this very important issue of language? If “psychiatric drugs” had been used instead in this blog , its overall intended message would have have been far more powerfully understood by its readers. This is especially true since we are saying that these drugs DO NOT correct or treat any cellular defects in human beings. Instead, they completely DISRUPT homeostasis in the brain, leading to a cascade of body and brain disruptions.

    Real science tells us that this is NOT just a question of so-called “medications” not working the way they are advertised, or having uncomfortable “side effects” for some people. These drugs actually perturb chemical processes in the brain and body. Some people even argue that some of these chemical disruptions may have some permanent effects, or very long term negative effects.

    In fact, I would say that it might be important, in almost everything we write about these drugs at this time, to make a scientific point as to why we DO NOT call psychiatric drugs, “medications.”

    Richard

  • Marion and others

    I appreciate how you are trying educate people with this blog.

    While on the topic of language, this blog would have been much stronger if it had not conceded to using the *System’s* language by calling mind altering psychiatric drugs – “medications.”

    Real “medications” treat diseases and/or other cellular anomalies. Since we now know that there are NO such thing as “chemical imbalances” in the brain, and there are No biological markers for any psychological stressor that gets falsely labeled with invented psychiatric (disease/based) diagnoses, we must STOP using psychiatry’s oppressive language.

    Psychiatric drugs should be called exactly what they are – mind altering drugs. To call these substances “medications” only perpetuates the myths created by Biological Psychiatry, for which they spent billions to promote broadly throughout our society.

    People can understand that sometimes, especially in the short term, a mind altering DRUG might temporarily help a person cope with a major stressor in their life. However, these situations must be evaluated very carefully, for even short term use of psychiatric drugs can be harmful.

    *System* language and the myths they promote will not end unless we start making it happen NOW.

    Respectfully. Richard

  • Bonnie

    Great work. I appreciate how you are able to see beneath the surface of things and provide some tiny (yet significant) glimpses of positive incremental change taking in the face of such enormous reactionary power and major obstacles. It is this type of political analysis that provides optimistic hope for the future.

    This positive outlook is not based on false optimism or some kind of foolish (and harmful) positive psychology approach, but rather, an optimism based on a real materialist analysis of what is actually going on in the world and how radical change takes place within it. You inspire us all.

    Comradely, Richard

  • Oldhead and others

    On the question of how do we characterize “THE MOVEMENT?”

    I believe there is a broad based movement, that on various levels, is fighting multiple aspects and forms of psychiatric oppression.

    Many people caught up in and/or working in the “mental health” system as peers etc. might not view this as a struggle against *psychiatric” oppression but just see many things wrong with the way people are being treated on a day to day basis by some psychiatrists and other “mental health” workers in the System

    We (activists) know by analyzing history and the particular role of psychiatry in the real world, that it is, in fact, correct to label this as *psychiatric* oppression.

    Of course, not everyone fighting *psychiatric oppression* is anti-psychiatry at this time, that is, wanting the institution of psychiatry to go out of existence and placed in the dust bin of history with other formerly oppressive institutions.

    And of course there are still some radical activists who still believe that Psychiatry can be reformed and tweaked in a way that would make it an institution worth preserving in the world. We need to wage political struggle, over the long haul, to convince them and others that preserving Psychiatry WILL NOT serve the best interests of humanity and WILL NOT lead to the total dismantling of today’s “mental health” system.

    So I would say that those of us who ARE *anti-psychiatry* represent the LEFT WING AND MOST RADICAL SEGMENT of the overall *movement against psychiatric oppression.*

    I hope this is a clear presentation of my thoughts on this subject and brings more clarity about how we should discuss and characterize *THE MOVEMENT.*

    Richard

  • Sera

    So I will raise the question again, is the movement against psychiatric oppression RACIST?

    You are still implying by your above comment that this is the case when you made the following statement:

    “While I *am* absolutely saying this movement is just as racist as any other that exists within this nation, that’s a bit different than calling particular people out as ‘racist’.”

    So what is it? Is the main aspect of its presence (the movement against psychiatric oppression) in the real world to sustain and promote the existence of racism?

    OR is it MORE CORRECT to say that the movement against psychiatric oppression (which contains many different trends and political currents) is a VERY POSITIVE historical development that unfortunately contains many of the same forms of racism that pervades our society, and they need to be seriously addressed as part of the overall struggle.

    The position that over emphasizes the racist character of the movement against psychiatric oppression, is once again promoting an “Identity Politics” political line and assessment of the current situation. This line is ultimately divisive and holds back the overall political struggle, AND actually undermines the necessary efforts to confront examples of racism within the movement.

    And finally Sera, am I a RACIST? You have not retracted your denigration of me and my participation at MIA. In the above comment you said:

    “Does that mean you are ‘racist’ for disagreeing? No. Not exactly. It’s not that simple.”

    Well what is it? You need to be held accountable for those words that carry with them the utmost of heavy negative implications in today’s world.

    Are you capable of self criticism? Are you going to hold onto to some of your harmful words and negative viewpoints to “the death,” as you have accused those of us who have dared to wage political debate around these critical questions?

    No, I am NOT free of racist thinking. But I would like to believe that my behavior in the world AND the words I write on the internet are working towards making the the world a better place for humanity to be free of all forms of oppression and exploitation. That is what I aspire to with the best of my ability. ” The proof is in the pudding” as they say, so I guess it will be for others to make the final assessment over The Long March.

    Richard

  • Humanbeing and Sera

    The part of this blog that dealt with “appropriation” went over the edge on this question. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with quoting Black writers/ Revolutionaries etc. who have said something profound and meaningful.

    The key question is what quotes are being used AND MOST IMPORTANTLY for what political purpose are they being used. In other words, where (and what political direction) is the author using the quote trying to take his/her readers or listeners. Is the particular quote supporting an ideology and strategy (or a particular movement) for the advancement of the cause of freedom and overall less pain and strife for ALL of humanity, OR is its purpose to support the status quo and hold back the forward direction of the struggle against all forms of oppression?

    To characterize the issue of white people quoting Black people as MAINLY a form of “appropriation,” WITHOUT EMPHASIZING THE ESSENTIAL POLITICAL CONTENT AND PURPOSE OF THE PERSON DOING THE QUOTING, is to once again fall into a form of *Identity Politics* where it now becomes an issue of “Black vs. white” instead of , let’s say, Reformism vs. Revolution.

    In the main example used in the blog to support the case for “appropriation,” it is most likely that the authors are against the direction that the speaker (using the quote) wants to take the struggle. That is the main issue to be emphasized in one’s criticism of the speaker NOT the issue of a white person quoting a Black person.

    The best way to expose this is to say, for example, “Malcolm X said those words advocating for …..(this kind of radical change etc etc.), you are using those same words to justify conciliation with the System… etc. etc. Stop appropriating and twisting the words of Black Revolutionaries to promote and your agenda of defending the status quo…. etc. etc.”

    Yes, there are examples where white people are obsessed with only Black culture and fail to fully understand the historical nature of racial oppression, and from exactly what human living conditions this culture arose out of and why it developed the way it did. This does sometimes come across as a form of racism, especially if they are making big bucks from this culture and never (or rarely) pay homage and educate people about this history.

    Most often these these kind of white youth and individuals (with lower economic status) will embarrass themselves if they persist with behaviors that lack authenticity.

    But in the grand scheme of things I’d much rather have these people identifying with Black culture (even for some of the wrong reasons) then stuck in, or identifying with, the racial superiority of the white experience and history the pervades the world we live in.

    Richard

  • Sera

    I believe that one of the main reasons that people have felt “fearful,” “defensive,” and/or even “beaten down” from this blog is because of the way that its heavy dose of “Identity Politics” created a climate of “no right to speak” UNLESS you have the correct “Identity,” and/or are in COMPLETE agreement with the blog’s definition of racism.

    Sort of like, “Listen Up ALL You White People and Closet Racists – Up Against the Wall M$%%##F%$#&!. We own the historical rights to the slavery moniker. And any white person who has used this analogy (in the struggle against psychiatric oppression) in the past was acting as a racist AND anyone who uses it in the future will be declared a racist. And if anyone dares to disagree or criticize this position you are MOST DEFINITELY harboring racism and keeping POC from ever coming to the MIA website.”

    And then when people felt threatened by these demands and the overall verbal assault (that slammed them up against the proverbial wall) many commenters began to debate and struggle back out of fear and anger at these so-called racist charges and form of labeling. Some commenters (in this emotionally charged situation) now expressed words and beliefs (at times) that either showed ignorance about the history of racism and/or reflected a few common racial stereotypes. And BTW, I did try myself to address some of those more backward comments.

    It was then that some of the authors went into full blown “GOTCHA” mode. “AHA, WE KNEW THERE WERE SOME RACISTS HERE AND THIS ONLY PROVES OUR POINT!” This whole blog process comes across as a set up to bait and/or push people into the shadow part of their belief system. Yes, we need to take a cold hard look at these shadows but This is DEFINITELY NOT the way to challenge people or educate them about racism.

    All the valid criticisms of the blog were outright dismissed and the authors then proceeded to doubled down on those parts that were way off the mark. This was unfortunate because there was some very important issues regarding racism in this blog that very few people have discussed or debated because it was dominated by a negative core of “Identity Politics” and the over emphasis on the slavery analogy being THE dividing line question. BTW, the authors made this there the very first “STOP IT” demand to lead off the overall topic and set a negative tone that undercut healthy discussion.

    And it is important to note that there were some quite defensive responses from the authors who revealed several less than principled ways of conducting political struggle, including outright backward statements. Such as the following:

    “My personal agenda is to ensure I speak for myself first and foremost. I don’t have the power to threaten any anti-Murphy struggle and even if I did that wouldn’t be where I would place my energy.”

    Here is a classic example of “Identity Politics” making this a “Black vs. white” issue, and NOT making use of a CLASS ANALYSIS and seeing the material basis in the world for POC to seek ways to unite with the vast majority of white people (and vice versa) around a common struggle against the Murphy Bill. That is, even unite with white people knowing that many still harbor some deeply embedded forms of racist thinking, and probably will for many decades especially, unless and until, there is an overall Revolutionary change in society.

    Sera, for you to have NOT corrected or challenged Iden about this comment back to Oldhead, (and then questioned in several comments by AA and others) – this has unfortunately placed your co-author in a very uncomfortable position.

    In this situation it is interesting that we have a white person cheering on and encouraging her POC collaborative writers to freely run into the storm (so to speak) with more and more “Identity Politics” which will only lead to inflaming the climate and ultimately (and unnecessarily) casting them in a unfavorable light for some readers. This does NOT create favorable conditions for POC to participate here, nor for anyone else participating from that perspective.

    Sera, I hope you will reconsider your role in this blog and the best ways to fight racial oppression, especially how it manifests itself in the movement against psychiatric oppression. I appreciate the way you’re willing to put yourself out there with the hottest controversies, but this can be the territory where mistakes are most likely to be made. I hope we can all learn something important from this painful chapter.

    I realize that for Iden this whole blog topic and process (especially being one of the few POC writers here at MIA and thus unfairly being put in the position of trying to represent a so-called POC perspective) has been extremely difficult and untenable position, and perhaps if he had time to reconsider (in a less stressful environment) what was wrong with the above comment he would change his position. (there are other similar positions that unfortunately developed in a similar manner).

    I know just how difficult it can be to defend controversial blogs. I some times freak out from the pressure when I have written hot topic blogs, and I don’t have to deal with the whole racial issue. I want to learn more from Iden and Earl in future blogs and I’m hoping the discussion of this process will help create more favorable conditions for this to happen.

    As I said in prior comments, I will always be extremely careful when using the slavery analogy as it applies to fighting psychiatric oppression or other forms of oppression in our society. But NO ONE owns the right to use this term or analogy. And when it is misused or trivialized it then becomes a great opportunity to educate people about the true horrors and legacy of slavery in America; I will try to be a part of that process.

    I know that this discussion has caused me to reconsider the more trivial ways I have used the analogy in my everyday life, such as using humor and sarcasm with a friend by saying “I’m not your slave” when they want me to do their share of work responsibility. Or “I’ve been slaving all afternoon on this job” etc., etc. We all must carefully review our use of many forms of racially infused language.

    I hope we can find a way through this struggle to start over on better footing and create more favorable conditions to conduct these much needed discussions about racial oppression and the best way to replace the economic and political system that both engenders and thrives on racial oppression and class divisions in our society.

    Richard

  • Sera and Humanbeing

    Just to clarify some history here. Both Oldhead and myself were overall very supportive of your “Dear Man” blog , especially, Oldhead (who was way more active in his support than myself).

    Where Humanbeing and I (and Oldhead as well) clashed (in an overall respectful way, I might add) was over a Benzo blog. There were some themes there pertaining to us being men (and in the view of some commenters we were attempting to take over or overshadow) a blog written and supported mainly by women.

    Richard

  • Sera

    You are correct to point out that there is a “movement” (against psychiatric oppression is how I choose to label it) with all its many divergent political trends and contending elements.

    However, a more serious problem at this particular moment in the discussion IS NOT those people denying that there is a “movement,” instead, it is those people declaring or implying that this “movement” is “RACIST,” and then using “Identity Politics” as its main means to justify such an analysis.

    Richard

  • Humanbeing

    You are making some excellent points here about the major problems with the political content of this blog and the feelings it has aroused at MIA.

    The authors of this blog stated that their intention was to increase diversity and inclusion at MIA by creating a more favorable environment for people of color to participate at MIA and in the movement against psychiatric oppression. THE OVERALL EFFECT OF THIS BLOG AND THE WAY THE AUTHORS HAVE CONDUCTED THEMSELVES IN THE COMMENT THREAD HAS DONE JUST THE OPPOSITE.

    The following quote from the above article you referenced does have direct bearing on this blog:

    “This illustrates the real problem with modern liberalism. Not that it is too preoccupied with promoting diversity or ending all forms of discrimination — there is really no disagreement on the left that these are vitally important goals — but that these efforts and achievements are often used to mask or divert attention from the deeper structural problems of our economic and political systems.”

    While I don’t support the purpose of the above Solon article in terms of its attempts to rescue the Democratic Party, I believe there is important truth in understanding the dangers of “Identity Politics” in all radical movement for change.

    I have made some serious and respectful efforts to point out important problems with this blog (see all my prior comments) and they have been met with complete disdain and derision, that is, absent of any real critical appraisal by its authors. All I received (and other blog critics as well) was more “Identity Politics” as a justification for dismissing all criticism.

    And when I called out one of the author’s comments where I was denigrated (following what now appears to have been patronizing praise) and essentially called a racist who is “dismissing and denouncing other voices” at MIA, what did I hear back? – SILENCE!

    This is hardly an example of principled debate and discussion at MIA, and represents a prime example of where “Identity Politics” will take things at MIA if it is allowed to continue unchallenged.

    Huambeing, thanks for the courage of your comments.

    Richard

  • Matt

    You said: “To play the devil’s advocate, as well as to highlight that critics of social justice advocates make their own valid points, I’d like to share a few conservative articles I read recently.”

    And then at the end of your comment you added the following point: “These ideas are mostly politically incorrect…”

    You have floated out a can of worms here that seems to be testing the waters to perhaps see how much people might unite with some of these more sophisticated attacks on the BLM movement. I am confused about your agenda and asking for more clarification before I respond in a full way.

    We live in an extremely racist world and the spate of police shooting caught on video cameras (and I say “caught on video cameras” only because these kind of shootings have been going on unacknowledged in our country at a high rate since slavery) It is out of this reality that the slogan “Black Lives Matter” emerged.

    Given this political reality, I believe it is politically correct to say that any person Black or white, or from any nationality, who makes a response to the BLM movement that “All Lives Matter” is either 1) terribly ignorant of this history and/or the overall history of racial oppression in this country 2) fearful of backlash from the BLM movement (especially if they are Black) and choosing a form of conciliation to this oppressive situation, or 3) or consciously upholding, defending and/or promoting racism. Of course, the third alternative is the worst position and most politically incorrect, but the other two are not very good either.

    That is my very brief and quick response to your post. But I believe it is your responsibility since you posted these quotes to explain which parts of these analyses are partially “valid” and which “…ideas are [not] mostly incorrect.” Your willingness to more deeply explain your position could help advance this discussion on important aspects of racial politics.

    Richard

  • Iden

    Thanks for the response. I will look forward to your future writings here.

    In response to your comment: ” The question to Oldhead was serious…why should a group of marginalized folks stand on the frontlines for another group of marginalized folks that have systemically oppressed them?”

    In this situation I would prefer to view this from a class analysis. This other “…group of marginalized folk…” has NOT been principally responsible for the systematic oppression of Black people. The ruling capitalist class that rules over and exploits (or pushes over the psychological edge) these poor white working class people, and also strategically foments racial conflict and fears as a “divide and conquer” strategy, are the main enemy in this situation.

    Of course, I’m not including active racists or the KKK in this kind of a class analysis of poor white and Black people.

    And if I’m not mistaken, didn’t Nat Turner (in leading his courageous and historically significant rebellion of slaves) make a similar type of analysis by actually sparing the lives of some poor whites he encountered on nearby farms who he deemed overall not PRIMARILY responsible for slavery. Maybe, he even viewed them as potential allies in future struggles. I am looking to learn more about this history.

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to viewing that Nat Turner movie soon, despite the raging controversy about the writer and director and those advocating a boycott. Now that is a whole other hot topic that may bear future exploration, and wouldn’t that make for a very interesting discussion on race and women’s oppression – count me in.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Matt

    Thanks for the compliment and the response.

    Here is the quote from your first comment where I believe you are minimizing racism and racial profiling in the “mental health” system:
    “Also, the higher diagnosis rates of non-illnesses among black and Latin people is likely primarily due to social factors more frequent in those groups, especially poverty and lack of economic opportunity. Their getting these labels is not caused directly by their skin color in a simplistic cause-effect way. Although bias by white people “over-diagnosing” (if one can overdiagnose an invalid psychiatric non-illness) is also likely involved.”

    Yes, of course class is an important factor to consider in all this, but the overall implication of your comment tends to minimize race as the essential factor in this kind of racial profiling, and the end result is more racial oppression for an oppressed minority.

    As to the issue of “political correctness,” I believe you are misusing the term and misunderstanding how this whole term developed as a “right vs left” conflict in this country.

    It started as more and more right wing people (especially as the political gains from the 1960’s were being overturned) would criticize those on the left (including more people who would self identify as “liberal”) for vigilantly pointing out racist and sexist terminology by criticizing spoken and written prose containing discriminatory or oppressive language.

    Right wing critics would then tell (or openly chastise) people for being, or trying to be, too “politically correct” all the time. They would say things like, “lighten up” or “stop being so picky,” “it’s not that big of a deal,” and stop promoting some type of “left wing” or “liberal agenda” all the time.

    Due to political changes moving things in a right wing direction in this country, many left leaning people would cave into these sentiments and back off, or grovel in the face of this by saying something like “I’m not trying to politically correct here” and apologetically make their point, or back off all together.

    I believe the very best responses to this whole trend was to take it on in a very direct and unapologetic fashion by saying, “what’s wrong with being politically correct.” This flows from the correct assumption that there is such a thing as “political correctness.” Some words and ideas represent the forward motion of history, that is, trying to overcome all things oppressive, including outdated and/or oppressive language.

    And some words and ideas represent the status quo and the past, that is reinforcing and maintaining oppressive social relationships and trying to overall stop the forward motion of history. Therefore I believe WE SHOULD ALL STRIVE TO BE “POLITICALLY CORRECT” ALL THE TIME OR AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, AND NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR BEING THIS WAY.

    Richard

  • Sera

    I believe there is an attempt here to silence people from using the slavery analogy and an attempt to categorize this as a form of racism for those who want to continue to debate the issue.

    Some people (i am assuming, white men) have stated that they have felt intimidated by the discussion. I cannot speak for those who may be avoiding the discussion because it is too hot or controversial.

    And for the moment, leaving aside the slavery analogy relative to psychiatric oppression, what about the “wage slavery” analogy. I spent some time in my former comment introducing this topic.

    Historically, there have been millions of followers of socialist/communist ideology, calling themselves Marxists, Marxist/Leninists, or Marxist/Leninist/Maoists (millions who were also people of color) who have fought against feudalism and/or capitalist dictatorships; many dying for that cause; many trying to create a new type of society; a world free of all forms of oppression. They apparently had no problem with and/or embraced the “wage slavery” analogy. Should we forget about or ignore this reality?

    And Sera, I would hope you would reconsider some of your past comments to me. I reread your first comment to me where you at first praise me (I hope you weren’t patronizing me) by calling me “…a very kind human being who does his best to operate with a great deal of integrity…” and then basically lump me in with every other contrary voice here, including those that show racial ignorance or outright disrespect, when you stated “…to your response which comes across as a heavily intellectualized way of essentially doing the exact same thing: Dismissing and denouncing other voices – many of whom already feel unwelcomed here – and defending your own perspective to the death.”

    I have always approached my blogs and all discussions with the utmost respect for the highest level of principled debate and discussion. I have NEVER been “…dismissing and denouncing other voices…” or “…defending [my] own perspective to death.”

    I am attempting to answer your questions. I am responding and conducting this struggled to defend my “integrity” which has been discredited by these comments AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, because I believe if a trend of “Identity Politics” takes hold in this movement (or any other one, for that matter) it will be potentially divisive and hold back the struggle for Revolutionary change.

    Richard

  • Iden

    “Identity Politics” should not be understood necessarily in a literal sense. It is a name that has been used in the past to describe a certain political trend or political strategy. People who have not been apart of past Revolutionary, Socialist and/or Communist struggles may not be especially familiar with the terminology or with the long standing debate and political criticism of this approach to Revolutionary strategy and/or struggle.

    You said the following in a response to Oldhead: “Right now, if a Black person or another POC is oppressed and their voices discounted in the mh community do you truly believe deep in your spirit they should be going all out with you against Murphy? It’s like choosing the POTUS which one is less evil.”

    Your voice is NOT being discounted here. You have made many insightful and deeply educational comments about how racism manifests itself in society and within the movement against psychiatric oppression (including here at MIA). I have learned from you.

    Myself, and others disagree, with your position on the use of the slavery analogy and the way a form of “Identity Politics ” is being used to silence people using certain terminology and to actually stifle further debate on this subject. You, and others have NOT made a convincing enough argument for why this analogy should be avoided.

    So that should be the heart of this discussion, if you must have it. Unfortunately, the other important points within your blog on Trump’s election, “Color Blindness” and the “peer movement” are not also being discussed.

    I completely agree that the slavery analogy should be used selectively and VERY carefully, and explained with very clear and decisive historical evidence to justify its use.

    I also agree that some people who use this analogy DO NOT fully understand the horrors of slavery and its legacy in today’s society. To make this the dividing line question at this time IS NOT going to help people get to where they need to go; it has become polarizing approach in a bad way. And if you have read some of my past blogs or comments you would be aware that I’m not against “polarization” when it is necessary and reflects important dividing line issues.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Sera

    I went to great lengths to explain how I defined “Identity Politics” and what kind of philosophical outlook it was based on. The issues and struggles surrounding “Identity Politics” has a long history in revolutionary movements in this country and in the world; my involvement goes back 45 years. By the content of your response it seems as though you either did not understand or agree with the theoretical points I was attempting to make regarding what “Identity Politics” represents as a strategic approach in today’s political movements.

    Of course it is a natural process for people of different races, gender, and other common social identities etc. to often first come together as a political entity or force mainly by these types social identifications. This is a positive thing and represents many important avenues for the initial involvement of the masses struggling against all forms of oppression. This an historical phenomena and process that is necessary and important. I am neither negating OR criticizing this.

    What I am challenging here is when “Identity Politics” is promoted as an *overall revolutionary strategy or approach* for advancing an entire political movement. To build a successful Revolution in this historical era people must be able to move BEYOND “Identity Politics.”

    Unfortunately, in this case “Identity Politics” is being used as a means (and in some cases, as a “club”) to beat back other political positions with “a no right to speak” moniker based on not being a part of a specific “Identity.” THIS IS BOTH WRONG AND COUNTER PRODUCTIVE TO BUILDING REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE. Please reread my prior explanation in my past comment for why this approach will NOT arrive at finding *truth* and will NOT act as unifying approach to building a Revolutionary movement.

    Richard

  • Iden, Sera, Earl

    The political scope of this blog, given the multiple issues raised and the way it was written, makes it almost impossible to respond without being misunderstood, or to somehow lose sight of essential aspects of its political content. I will try anyways, recognizing that doing so will be difficult and full of potential pitfalls of misunderstanding.

    The blog conclusion stated:

    “Shortly after Trump was named incumbent, Black Lives Matter released a powerful statement that concluded with the following sentence: “The work will be harder, but the work is the same.” For our own movement(s), there is also much truth in those words.”

    These words cannot be emphasized enough at this time. 9/11 dramatically changed the political landscape in the the U.S. and throughout the world. The recent election of Trump is on the same level of political significance, and it has some of its origins related to the 9/11 aftermath. With the ascension of Trump to the American presidency the world will never be the same now that the U.S. government has made a serious shift in the direction of fascism.

    This has enormous importance, as it affects ALL political movements for human rights and for the protection of the planet from total environmental destruction. This critically important topic deserves a separate blog in and of itself (and maybe I’ll attempt to write it in the near future), and to now have to veer away from this this critically important topic (to address other political issues) is a near impossible task to accomplish without somehow diminishing its political importance.

    I do salute the efforts of the authors to point out the above noted dark and challenging reality, and to also attempt to discuss issues of race and racism as it pervades every pore of our society (including those movements trying to transform it), and the struggle against racial oppression will be (and must be) a key part of any strategy to work toward Revolutionary change.

    The second part of the blog conclusion stated the following:

    “But, for us, the work had also better be different. We had better fight to include far more voices than ever before. We had better look to get much more honest about our failings and who’s been left out. Ignoring these realities is a path to nowhere. A racist movement cannot move.”

    Yes, the work for us must be very different in the coming period, including being more inclusive, but I don’t believe an increased focus on “Identity Politics” (more on this later) is the direction we need to go at this time. In fact, “identity politics” is a roadblock to building a true Revolutionary movement.

    The last sentence of the above paragraph and the overall title of the blog (including a thrust of its content) implies that the current movement against psychiatric oppression is currently racist or that it predominates it content. The very first “Don’t Do This Anymore” admonition regarding then use of the slavery analogy by movement activists is given the primary emphasis as proof of the current level of racism that exists.

    Yes, of course, racism is alive and well in this movement (and throughout our society) , and yes it needs to be identified and struggled against. But it is wrong to characterize the current movement against psychiatric oppression as “racist” at this time or to say (or imply) that the use of the slavery analogy is the PRIME example of this.

    The section of this blog on “color blindness” was very insightful and well written and gets to the heart of the matter regarding the way racial oppression is minimized in our society and in the various movements for change. Unfortunately, this section of the blog gets undercut and confounded by the misdirection of other topics.

    I believe one of the main objections for those criticizing the “slavery analogy” (as a comparison to psychiatric oppression) is the fear that to do so will somehow imply, or diminish, one’s understanding of the incredible horrors of this American institution. Or that people will believe (or will incorrectly state – as has occurred in some blog comments) that racism and the lasting effects of slavery are essentially over in America. This is a legitimate fear for people to have, but I do NOT think it is a reason enough to avoid the use of the slavery analogy, or to make this the basis for criticizing those who do use the analogy.

    Just so people know where I come from on this particular subject, America was NEVER EVER A “GREAT” COUNTRY as Hillary and Obama would have us believe. Any country that built its first hundred years of growth and expansion (and with its many remnants continuing) on the direct basis of the institution of slavery, can never be called “great.” “Greatness” will only be achieved when this entire capitalist/imperialist system is dismantled and replaced with a socialist system seeking the the goal of ending all classes and the material basis for any type of societal divisions or forms of oppression.

    Karl Marx made great use of the phrase “wage slavery” to describe the remaining forms of societal oppression that STILL existed when the system of feudalism was historically replaced by capitalism. As the foremost critic (in his time) of capitalism, he recognized and acknowledged that capitalism was, in fact, an advance over feudal relations of production. The peasantry, that now historically evolved into the proletariat, was no longer *predominantly* owned and controlled by feudal landlords. This represented an advance in society and created more favorable material conditions for future revolutionary change by bringing vast numbers of human laborers into greater social living and industrial production conditions of existence.

    BUT despite this advance in human labor conditions, it was still based on a NEW FORM of exploitation where human beings had to now SELL THEIR LABOR POWER to the highest bidding capitalist, hence he coined the phrase “WAGE SLAVERY.” And of course we know that modern capitalism and its highest form, Imperialism, still embodies many horrible forms of human oppression. Marx’s use of the slavery analogy was not done to somehow diminish the significance and horror of other forms of historical slavery. In fact, Karl Marx wrote profound works of analysis of human slavery that still existed, especially in America, where his economic and political analysis of American slavery and the resulting Civil War still stands the test of time with its insightful critique.

    To the extent that people living in an American class based capitalist society (especially one built on the basis of slavery and imperialist domination of the Third World) somehow believe they are truly free, is a serious problem and demands employing any and all creative means of education and ways to shock people to a new awareness of how the world truly operates. The “wage slavery” analogy is just one of many ways to do this because it does describe an actual economic and political realationship of domination and control.

    The recent election of Trump should be a major lesson in the reality that we live under the ILLUSION of democracy and freedom, and what relatively few remnants of political freedom that do exist are potentially on the verge of being completely wiped out.

    The slavery analogy, when used carefully and correctly, can bring to light new and additional forms of oppression that exist in the world where people may be blind to or ill informed about the nature of various institutions and their role in society. Yes, some people will use it WITHOUT fully understanding the horrors (both past and present) of American slavery. As we continue to build ALL human rights struggles in the future we can, and must, make sure that this history is kept alive. But somehow restricting the “slavery analogy” is NOT the way to accomplish this OR somehow the best way to fight racism in our movement.

    TRUTH, (AND ESPECIALLY SCIENTIFIC AND POLITICAL TRUTH), IS NOT BOUND OR DETERMINED BY CLASS, RACE, AND/OR SEXUAL IDENTITY. TO BELIEVE SO AND/OR TO PROMOTE THIS AS A POLITICAL STRATEGY IS A FORM OF “IDENTITY POLITICS,” AND “IDENTITY POLITICS” WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD US INTO REFORMISM AND PREVENT US FROM ACHIEVING THE UNITY NECESSARY TO MAKE THOROUGHGOING REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE IN THE WORLD.

    Identity politics implies that BASED MAINLY ON ONE’S RACE OR GENDER etc., a person (or persons) know the true reality of their condition in the world and/or THE way forward for their liberation. Reality and truth do not function that way in the real world. Yes, they are heavily influence by one’s (or a particular group’s) material position in the world but coming to know the truth is NOT ultimately determined by that position. There ARE NOT multiple realities out there based on race or gender etc. type determinants. There is ONE reality out there and each of us (in an on going basis) uses our minds and experience to approximate that reality. Some people are better able to do this than others for a variety of reasons. Race or gender, for example, may only be ONE of those reasons, but not the ultimate determinating factor.

    When people of color or women (for example) tell me that something I am saying or doing is offending them or possibly racist or sexist, I will listen extremely carefully and ponder with great care my future words and behavior. This IS NOT a form of pandering or shying away from possible conflict, it is plain common sense, given the world we live in and they way we have ALL been conditioned to accept forms of racism and sexism as a normal part of the status quo. This goes very deep and will take generations to root out even when more positive material conditions have been created in the world for this to happen.

    But this kind of thoughtful deliberation should NEVER stop me from advocating for what I believe to be true, and for what I believe will advance human kind towards a more just and humane world.

    There is a very strong current of “identity politics” in the above blog that gets in the way of other important political points and distracts readers from grappling with key issues facing our movement.

    “Identity politics” promotes a view that only if you identify with a certain group (race, sexual identity etc.) then, and only then, can you speak with authority (or with some aspect of the truth) on this issue or political struggle. It is ultimately a reformist approach because it leads to compartmentalizing various political struggles and prevents ways to develop a long term strategy to UNITE all human rights struggles into a single movement for liberating the entire human race. “identity politics” will ultimately lead to each “identity” group struggling for “their own particular share” of the “liberation pie” WITHOUT fully transforming the entire base and superstructure of society. In today’s world it would most likely end up promoting a view that freedom and equality is possible within a reformed capitalist society. Ain’t going to happen!

    Sera, you know that I have supported and shown great respect for all of your blogs. And I expressed high kudos for those where you been able to link racial oppression to the struggle against psychiatric oppression. Here you have presented a buffet of too many important issues at one time. Some were quite insightful, but others have completely missed the mark and undercut the ability to focus on key issues. There is no way I can fully address my issues (in a single comment) with such an important topic. I hope this will lead to further dialogue on these important questions.

    As to Matt’s comments: I support some of your reasons to use the slavery analogy, but disagree with part of your defense of such an analysis. The issue here IS NOT that people are “telling others what to do” or promoting “political correctness.” If something IS politically incorrect, then there is NOTHING WRONG with telling people to STOP doing it. And vice versa, there is NOTHING WRONG with trying to get people to do POLITICALLY CORRECT things in the world IF it is based on a scientific analysis of how the world works in the real world. For example, we both share a belief that it is wrong to call psychiatric drugs “medications.” I am planning on writing a blog that will tell people that calling these drugs, “medications,” is a form of oppressive language. I think I can defend scientifically why this is the politically correct thing to do. This is the same approach you should take with defending your use of the slavery analogy.

    And Matt, when you undercut race as the central factor (for greater racial oppression within various forms of psychiatric oppression) by emphasizing “poverty” as the determining factor, you are denying (or de-emphasizing) the amount of racial profiling that goes on when people of color are evaluated and/or diagnosed within today’s “mental health” system. The same sort of racial profiling goes on within the justice system functioning in this country, and especially the role of the police. This profiling is based on deep seeded racism embedded within the fabric of our society and has its origins going back to slavery. If you want to do justice to using a slavery analogy within the ‘mental health” system you need to clear on the this fundamental question.

    Respectfully, (after 3 hours of writing) , Richard

  • Caleb

    I will look forward to reading that blog. While suboxone and methadone may have some *short term * benefits for some people there are serious problems with how these drugs are being promoted and used in this country.

    Before you write that blog you might be interested in reading a blog I wrote on this very subject about 2 years ago. See link here: https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/04/manufacture-maintenance-oppression-profitable-business/

    Richard

  • Caleb

    The fact that you have now revealed a prior period of being on both a stimulant (vyvanase) and a benzodiazepine (klonopin), and also had to suffer from withdrawal from these drugs, adds a whole new dimension to trying to understand some of the factors that may have contributed to your psychological break. Most certainly this is fodder for another very interesting blog in the future.

    And Caleb, on the addiction question, you might find my first blog at MIA very interesting. Here is the link: https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/09/addiction-biological-psychiatry-and-the-disease-model-part-1/

    Have a good holiday, Richard

  • Caleb

    A very moving story and so well written. You have shown such great resilience in the face of enormous societal and individual obstacles. I am so glad you decided to be public with your story. There is so much that can be learned from your experience, and so much much that challenges the current functioning of our “mental health” system.

    Have you reconsidered the negative effects of the way our society (led by Biological Psychiatry) has labeled more extreme psychological states as some types of “diseases” with names like “schizophrenia,” and how this pseudo scientific narrative impacted your own outlook on what was happening to you. Because of this false narrative (so embedded within our society) people now doubt your story and do not even believe you ever actually had “THE DISEASE” because you are now no longer exhibiting the so-called “symptoms.”

    And additionally as it applies to the “disease” concept of addiction, if you do not currently attend Twelve Step meetings to address your “disease of addiction” to opiates, then many of those same people (infected with this similar kind of thinking) might now say you never REALLY had a TRUE addiction to opiates. After all, opiate addiction is the “disease” and NA/AA is the “medicine” – “don’t take your “medicine” the rest of your life, you are most certainly destine to relapse.” I have counseled dozens of people who have had to face the negative effects of this “disease” based narrative which stood as a serious obstacle to their recovery.

    Your story indicates that you believed (based on what you read and/or were told by medical authorities) that you had an incurable “disease” and needed to take “medications” the rest of your life to treat it. Even your current fears of a “relapse” may imply aspects of this sort of belief.

    Having done addiction support work for over 25 years and studied the effects of all kinds of drugs, your story tells me that quite possible the mind altering DRUG effects of pot (THC) may have been a catalyst that exacerbated already highly aroused emotional feelings and thoughts that you were experiencing. My experience tells me that some people are very sensitive to the effects of this drug, or that people’s relationship with pot can slowly evolve over time to a point where it becomes a “trigger” fueling more paranoid type thinking and feeling. This is especially true when a person becomes more isolated and alone and tends to be engaged in more of a *monologue* with themselves than a social *dialogue* with other people.

    And then following your emotional break, various psychiatric DRUGS had (as you described) a combination of very negative effects (lethargy, serious weight gain, a shuffling gait etc.) and quite possibly some positive effects of providing sleep and tamping down your extreme emotional state. You are very fortunate to have left behind these drugs before some of the more long term damage and negative effects that recent statistical analysis and scientific studies reveal.

    Yes, mind altering “drugs” can have very serious negative effects on people and, at other times (especially in the short term), some positive effects that may help people cope with a difficult reality, especially those experiencing more extreme emotional states.

    Caleb, I have shared my reactions to your story to express how you have inspired me (and I am sure many others) about overcoming a period of such enormous emotional distress in your life. I also would hope you would reconsider the acceptance of the “schizophrenia” label as a legitimate scientific category of mental “diseases” to be used without written quotations. Use of quotations, and other written forms of critique, would provide a necessary challenge to the Biological Psychiatry narrative that has become so deadly in our society.

    I also would suggest that to call major mind altering drugs (such as Haldol, Zyprexia etc) “medications” is to unknowingly support the current pseudo scientific narrative that these drugs are “medicines” treating “diseases.” Big Pharma and Psychiatry have spent billions of dollars over several decades convincing the public that their DRUGS are actually “medications” treating brain “diseases” by acting as “magic bullets” correcting “chemical imbalances” in the brain. I believe we must oppose this ultimately oppressive language and call these chemical substances exactly what they are – mind altering drugs.

    By making some of these changes in how we use language regarding psychiatric labels such as “schizophrenia,” and countering the “medication” myth, we are slowly creating conditions in the world where people like yourself and millions of others will not have to suffer from all the oppressive forms of treatment in today’s “mental health” system and the types of “disease based” thinking that act as a form of mental chains inhibiting more liberating ideas and alternative roads to recovery.

    Caleb, I hope you find my feedback as both helpful and validating to a truly inspiring story that must be spread far and wide.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Ron

    You said: “…we need to organize first around principles like compassion, wisdom, and strength, within ourselves and our support groups, and then reach out and dialogue with extreme and even overtly destructive voices, individuals and groups. This dialogue can help us find and even ally with what is good in these voices, and [REDUCE THE CURRENT POLARIZATION] (emphasis added)…”

    I disagree with the thrust of this blog. There will be NO reduction in “polarization,” nor should there be, UNTIL the current political upheaval in this country is resolved through major systemic changes in the both the economic and political system.

    “Polarization” has historically always preceded major social change and right now should be viewed as a very GOOD thing. We should not fear this or try to make it go away, but instead seize upon the new opportunities this opens up for us to change minds and organize forces for future battles.

    In my neighborhood (in Massachusetts) I have witnessed friends who have in the past leaned toward the Republican Party who have become outraged (and even talk about feeling traumatized) by the presidential campaign and the election of Trump. Some of these people are already building alliances with people on Facebook and elsewhere to prepare for upcoming political battles. I am amazed at the kinds of advanced discussions I can now have with these people.

    It is a waste of time to focus on trying win over hardcore right wing supporters of Trump and his ilk, or to approach this recent “polarization” by promoting more “love.” Organizing against reactionary ideas and policies and fighting for a major transformation of the status quo (in the most powerful imperialist country on the planet) is a true act of “love” for ALL of humanity. This will involve both activities of persuasion AND confrontation.

    Back in the 60’s there was the strategic approach of “unite the advanced to win over the intermediate and neutralize the backward.” Will some very backward people be won over and change their thinking and behavior through major political upheaval? Yes, of course this will happen, but it should not be the focus or major concern related to our political tasks at this time.

    A significant leap has taken place in the direction of fascism in this country. We must not fear the resulting “polarization” but seize upon the opportunities it opens up for us to advance all forms of human rights struggles. I have said it before and I will repeat it again; a profit based economic system and its related political structures stands as a major impediment to future advance of all human society. “Dare to struggle, Dare to Win!”

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Matt and Oldhead

    Matt, I was very surprised you did not participate in the intense discussion over terminology under the recent “Santa Clause” blog. This discussion focused on the terms “drugs” vs “medications” and the term “mental health.”

    “Schizophrenia” (and all that goes with it) is a key pillar propping up Psychiatry and the “mental health” industry. We must always use quotes when using this term, and/or add to to our written documents caveats about our scientific disagreements with all psychiatric labels and why.

    Oldhead, unless someone is clearly a spokesperson (or a would be spokesperson) for Psychiatry and Big Pharma, I believe we can offer a two sided assessment of their writings. That is, point out what was positive in their analysis but then offer critique of its shortcomings.

    I respect your impatience with all forms of psychiatric oppression, but Very few people are going to come to this website with a clear and precise anti-psychiatry viewpoint. We cannot, and should not, approach these debates with an “up against the wall *####$% approach” if people use some forms of backward terms or “system” analyses mixed into their overall perspective. We must take the time to sort out the “wheat from the shaft” so to speak.

    On the use of the word “psychosis”, I am not yet convinced that we should avoid this term. To me, psychosis has some descriptive value as I understand it, and it seems to imply something temporary, as opposed to a permanent condition that is necessarily connected to a “brain disorder” or “disease” (even though I know some people believe it to be a permanent condition without the use of psych drugs). But I am open to more debate on this topic. I do appreciate your critical thinking skills and your efforts to hold us accountable for every word we write.

    Richard

  • Hi Matt

    A great interview with some valuable information and analysis of extreme psychological states and positive ways to help people. How sad that a person with such gifts as Paris Williams cannot work in New Zealand with the very people who need his help the most.

    On the issue of the use of the word “psychotic” that Oldhead keeps bringing up in discussion threads, I believe he is making a very legitimate critique of the problems with the use of this word.

    The biggest problem is that the word “psychotic” is often used as a noun that can be interchangeable with the word “schizophrenic.” For that reason, I believe it is best to discourage the use of that term or word.

    The word “psychosis,” as in “a person experiencing psychosis,” is a much better choice and description of the process of breaking or losing touch with reality.

    I believe it is very important at this time in our movement to have some serious debate and discussion (and even sharp lines drawn) regarding the use of certain language that represents and becomes part of the overall oppressive paradigm we are confronting from the past.

    It still drives me crazy how people still choose to call psychiatric drugs “medications” and don’t grasp how this is fundamentally no different than using a racial slur. I am frequently surprised by the people who make this error or somehow believe they need to “concede” the use of this language in order to have their views accepted by the professional or scientific community.

    I know that quite often people (including myself, occasionally) simply slip up because we have been so indoctrinated by years of pharmaceutical and psychiatric propaganda. But I believe we must relentless challenge and/or correct these mistakes. Oppressive language harms people on a daily basis and we all must come to terms with this reality. I plan to write on a blog on this particular subject very soon.

    Richard

  • Marie

    Many well meaning, hardworking, highly educated Germans either supported, or remained silent, when the Nazis were gathering momentum and influence in Germany during the 1930’s.

    If this conversation makes you, or others, feel uncomfortable then I’m glad; we should all feel very uncomfortable at this time.

    Oldhead, as bad as Clinton and other Democratic leaders are and have been (and I do view them as criminals as well) none of them have advocated (at least publicly) suspending parts of the Constitution and large scale suspension of other basic human rights (yes, I am aware of the Murphy bill). To use the “fascist” word to describe current Democrats is a serious misuse of the term and has the effect of underplaying the severity of the current leap that just took place in the political landscape.

    Richard

  • Marie

    It is the capitalist/imperialist system that is flawed (the word “flawed” grossly understates the overall harm perpetrated by such a system). All the the candidates and/or political leaders who control or compete for power in that system are merely a reflection of those “flaws.”

    That being said, if people (especially human rights activists) are unable to see the qualitative leap that just took place in the direction of fascism in the U.S, then the collective “insanity” that this represents scares the shit out of me. It is beyond the time to WAKE UP and start marching to the barricades; we’ve got a lot of work to do! It is no time to sit back and be a “good German.”

    Richard

  • Explorer86

    You are repeating some of the worst lies promoted by Big Pharma and the Pain Industry. The 75% figure is referring to newly addicted people introduced to heroin after first developing an opioid dependency via prescribed pain drugs. The prescribed pain drugs will inevitably become more difficult to obtain from doctors and no longer provide enough of a drug effect. As an alternative, heroin and other related street drugs became more easily accessible and are cheaper to purchase.

    And when heroin becomes not enough to get the right effect or too expensive given the amounts needed, that’s when people add benzos which creates the “perfect storm of addiction” that more often than not leads to death from overdose.

    The 1% figure (you repeat above) developing a problem with pain drugs, is pure fiction and pharmaceutical propaganda. Long term use of opioid drugs will almost always lead to dependency and/or addiction issues and will often lead to people actually becoming MORE sensitive to pain thus requiring even more drugs to get the same effects.

    It is actually a sad fact (and a commentary on the state of modern medicine) that it take a famous comedian to provide some of the very best factual information and analysis of the current opioid drug crisis. This video should be spread very widely to every one possible.

    Richard

  • AA

    Thanks for the response;

    You said: “In my opinion, whether you say psychiatric drugs or psychiatric medications, the issue is they cause great harm. That is what the focus on the message needs to be.”

    The important aspect of this discussion is to look at the fact that medications are viewed in general as “healing agents” that cure diseases and/or treat cellular abnormalities. In this sense they are almost always viewed as very positive and necessary substances to put in your body.

    Big Pharma and Psychiatry colluded at the highest levels (for 4 decades), spending billions of dollars to convince hundreds of millions of people that their newly developed psychotropic drugs were in fact “medications” that heal
    psychiatric “diseases/disorders.”

    Unfortunately, the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex has been highly successful in their PR campaigns and have won over the broad masses to believe that psych drugs are , indeed, “medications.” That is, people now believe they are both safe and very “HELPFUL/HEALING” substances to put in their bodies. All this promotes the belief that these mind altering substances “cure” people’s “broken brains” and therefore can resolve all their psychological distress.

    Why should we continue to CONCEDE to Big Pharma/Psychiatry’s need to pass off these mind altering substances as “medications” and all that this word connotes to the general public? Why should we acquiesce to promoting a key aspect of the Biological Psychiatry narrative?

    Every time we use the word drugs instead of “medications” (and explain exactly why when necessary and when asked) we are undermining their efforts to promote their view of psych drugs as “magic bullets” healing damaged brains. Please reconsider and ponder the importance of how they use language and why we need to emphasize this as an important issue in our movement.

    AA, as to your point that psych drugs are in fact, “symptom suppressors.” I think we need to be careful here. When someone becomes depressed after their mother dies or becomes highly anxious after a sexual assault, should these human reactions be labeled as “symptoms.” This is a medical term that implies that the depression or anxiety are some type of “internally caused” problem in the person experiencing them. The oppressive Medical Model makes sure to convince people that these are as a form of “ill health” and/or a brain “abnormality.”

    We know that in these circumstances the person’s depression and anxiety are actually normal human reactions to abnormal conditions of life. We must oppose all attempts to pathologize these normal human responses and promote psych drugs as the solution by passing them off as “medications.”

    If anything, the use of the word “symptom” might more accurately apply to our using the analogy that we live in a “sick” and “diseased” society that produces enormous stressors and forms of trauma on a daily basis. In this context we are making it clear that people’s extreme psychological distress (that gets incorrectly labeled as “mental illness”) flows from people’s conflict with their environment, not from brain “abnormalities.” Unless we plan on developing further this type of analogy I think we should probably avoid the use of the commonly accepted medical term, “symptom.”

    AA, more food for thought, but in this case making sure we eat the “best” food makes an important difference to our overall nutrition. (if I can use a food analogy in this highly important scientific and political dialogue).

    Richard

  • Tim

    You said: “Like I said in my article, the chemical deficiency is created after the medications are ingested. So, in a way, you’re very correct. It is because of a chemical imbalance that Big Pharma is making billions of dollars. It’s an iatrogenic chemical imbalance caused by the chemicals.”

    When you say “Its an iatrogenic chemical imbalance caused by the chemicals,” this is precisely why it is SO important to call these substances exactly what they are – mind altering psychiatric drugs. This is both more scientific AND, most importantly, counters the false narrative promoted by Biological Psychiatry and Big Pharma.

    Why is it so difficult for you to accept my feedback regarding the vital importance of contesting Medical Model terminology? Historically, changing language has been a critical part of making social change, and this is so necessary and true when taking on the whole “mental health” industry.

    Richard

  • AA

    You said:”… I personally am not going to be too critical of a writer for using the term, “psych medications” if this person agrees with a good portion of our issues. It seemed to me that Tim qualified on this basis but perhaps I am missing something.”

    I think the major point here is not whether or not the author “agrees with a good portion of our issues” but rather how does his writings influence the broader public? That is, how are we educating the masses about the critical difference between what has been advertised (with billion dollar PR campaigns over 4 decades) as “medications” but are, in fact, mind altering psychiatric drugs that overall cause great harm to people?

    Is it not vitally important to counter the Biological Psychiatry (Medical Model) narrative that these psych drugs “correct,” “fix,” and/or act as “magic bullets” targeting the brain’s “chemical imbalances?” What better way to do this than to completely dispel the myth that these drugs are, in fact, some type of “medication.” “Medications” that are promoted as allegedly curing brain “diseases?disorders.”

    In this situation language and terminology are critically important to advancing our movement by further educating the masses about the dangers of the Medical Model. Tim C’s critique of “chemical imbalances” was very good but he weakened his overall analysis by conceding to Biological Psychiatry the use of THEIR terminology (for which they spent billions to promote) in regards to “medication” vs. psych drugs and the use of “mental health” and “mental illness” without the necessary challenging use of quotations.

    Unfortunately, my attempts to make the above points have been met with derision and defensiveness from the author. This defensiveness led to him label me as “authoritarian,” “dogmatic,” and “single-minded.”
    Do you believe my analysis above is making valid points to be discussed here at MIA? And do you believe that his use of negative labels was an appropriate response to make in this important dialogue?

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Nickfitz

    You said:”Good luck and best wishes for your future anger-filled change and transformation!”

    Is this how you want to conduct dialogue at MIA by using arrogant sarcasm and English lessons to mischaracterize and denigrate other people’s viewpoints? Your arrogance in the above comment matches similar comments made to me at the end of several responses from Tim Carey, the author of this blog. You apparently share several things in common.

    I find it hard to believe that you never get angry and always function in an emotionally “contained” and “pragmatic” manner. It may reflect why your views do not contain a sense of urgency for overcoming oppression in the world, and you look down upon those whose emotional responses to this oppression might contain anger. Or perhaps you channel all your alienation and anger into the passive AGGRESSIVE forms of sarcasm and put downs such as above.

    Of course the world needs more humanity. If you read any of my writings here at MIA (including the body of my comments) or were aware of the content of my work for several decades, you might become aware that human compassion and love is the foundation and driving force of my motivation for change.

    But Nickfitz you labeled me an “angry old man,” so I addressed the issue of “anger” not the issue of the need for more humanity in the world. And when I called you on it and asked you to justify your remark about anger your reply dodged the issue and focused on the fact that I added the words “out of control” (which I thought was your implied meaning).

    So again, why the original comment about anger, and what was wrong with my political critique of Tim.C’s blog?

    Richard

  • Nickfitz

    I proudly plead guilty to both charges. I have no control over my age nor do you. And maybe if you post more here at MIA other readers will eventually be able to determine whose ideas (including yours) are actual “young,” that is, innovative and creative enough to contribute towards transforming the world into a less oppressive place to live.

    And yes, I am angry because I live in a world filled with trauma and multiple kinds of oppression, and I cannot, and will not ignore it.

    Are you NOT angry? If you are NOT angry then you are not alive with both your eyes and heart wide open.

    There is nothing wrong with anger (in fact we need more anger not less in this world) it is what we do with it, or how we express or channel the anger that is so important in making positive change.

    Now having said that, I will ask you the same question that I asked Tim (which he repeatedly refused to answer), what words or phrases did I write in ANY of my comments that were disrespectful or represented out of control anger or any other negative label (such as Tim used) that you might wish to give them, OR deserved your very flip and sarcastic remark about anger and age???

    Richard

  • Tim

    Ok, you have finally exhausted me since you choose not to directly respond to any of the questions I have asked you to defend, especially those in which you used negative labels to describe me and my methods of political discourse.

    I must point out (once again) that in the context of this entire discussion the use of quotations for key terminology is not a minor or trivial matter as you have recently implied in your last few comments. These involve hugely important and highly contested issues that will surely be discussed and debated for years to come.

    And as for my comment about your “zinger” regarding having better things to do than dialogue with me, this was in response to your joint response to Oldhead and myself where you stated the following:
    “Hi Richard and Oldhead,
    I’ll have to bow out of this one. If there are things that are useful in this discussion you then that’s terrific. It’s gone way past being productive or useful for me.”

    Tim, I clearly get the message that you believe you could learn nothing of importance by dialoguing with me. I guess I wasted my time with you, but I do hope others were listening.

    And you should be more careful about attributing a quote to me, involving the use of the phrase “totally clueless,” which, in fact, was made by Oldhead.

    And if you would carefully read all the comments here, you would know that I was not hesitant to criticize Oldhead twice for using this arrogant phrase, which I believe was NOT helpful in promoting positive dialogue in this discussion.

    And finally, your very last little diddy of a comment to me was quite passively arrogant. You said:”I really do hope you get the revolution you’re after.”

    Do you not see the arrogance dripping from this comment? As if the whole concept of “Revolution” is a personal matter aimed at pleasing someone’s individual agenda. And in this case (based on your prior comments about me), my supposed narrow and “dogmatic” approach to political change for which you declared without foundation or substance to back up the personal sleight.

    “Dare to struggle, Dare to Win” Richard

  • Oldhead

    If I am going to be honest with you, your use of the phrase “totally clueless” was a major arrogant put down of Tim Carey (remember the movie title, “Clueless”) that has the effect (if not the intention) of embarrassing someone, and will almost certainly shut off all further dialogue.

    Your use of the phrase “largely clueless” in your response above, was a smart ass remark indicating that you did not accept the first criticism and you were basically doubling down on your original arrogant comment.

    Comradely, Richard

  • Tim

    Oh, so now you want to bale out on this discussion without addressing ANY of my criticisms of the way you mischaracterized my responses to your using highly charged words (like “authoritarian,” “dogmatic”, and “single-minded”) to describe both my ideas and the way I conduct political discourse at MIA, and even implying that this might be how I would treat a client of mine.

    And then you have to throw in the zinger at the end that you have better use for your time then to engage in dialogue with the likes of someone like me.

    I will repeat a previous question I raised in a prior comment: “I believe that I have conducted this discussion in a very respectful and non-authoritarian way. Please tell me one word or phrase I used in any of my comments that deserves to be characterized negatively in the way you have…”

    If you can explain to me where I somehow became disrespectful or “authoritarian” I will seriously listen, for I do NOT want to EVER become like that. And in the spirit of “criticism/self-criticism,” I would hope you would be also be open to taking another look at your defensive responses in several of your comments where you directed negative labels towards me without foundation.

    I spent a great deal of effort engaging in very respectful and principled dialogue with you explaining in great detail why I could not rate your blog as “excellent” and where I thought there were significant enough inconsistencies in some of your arguments that prevented me from wanting to spread widely your overall analysis.

    I liked many aspects of your blog and told you so, and even resorted to a kind of begging by saying “please, please, please” justify why you shouldn’t make some changes in the content related to three key points so as to improve its overall political impact. I sincerely wanted this blog to become better and a more useful tool in the struggle against Biological Psychiatry.

    Tim, I take my reputation at MIA, reflected both in the content of my more than a dozen blogs, and also regarding the way I conduct dialogue within the comment section, very seriously. If you choose to disengage at this time, after making comments that I believe denigrate my reputation with no willingness to substantiate the use of your negative labels, I will have lost all respect at this time for your participation here. Please reconsider this, for this doe not and should not end like this.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Tim

    Here again you have mischaracterized my role and involvement in this dialogue by labeling me as “authoritarian” and “dogmatic” and “single-minded” because I have dared to challenged the inconsistencies in your analysis.

    You said:”Are you saying that if I don’t come around to your way of thinking then I’m not “truly open minded” and not using my “critical thinking skills”?

    No, Tim I would NOT characterize this dialogue in the above slanted way you describe. And is it fair for me to question whether or not you always react so defensively to someone who might point out inconsistencies in your thinking?

    Yes, I do hope you will become more scientifically accurate and consistent in using your “critical thinking” skills. Skills for which you have so adeptly and correctly made use of in critiquing the “chemical imbalance theory.” If you do not make these changes (over time) then I believe this historically important political movement we are building will soon pass you by and your many critical thinking skills (i have also read your other blogs as well) will be sorely missed.

    I believe you underestimate the impact of your use of Medical Model terminology with both your readers and the clients you serve in therapy. Your continued non-critical (in a thorough going way) use of the terms “mental illness” and “mental health” may have a negative impact on your clients in ways you are not even currently aware of. Think for a moment how powerful it would be to discuss, in great depth with your clients, the controversy over the use of these terms. The same is most definitely true for the debate about “medications” vs. psychiatric drugs.

    Yes, there are two sides to most controversies. It is NOT being “single-minded” and “authoritarian” to rigorously and passionately (using the very best of science) to argue for one particular side of the controversy over the other.

    One side of the conflict usually represents the forward motion of history and what represents the best way forward for the future of humanity. The other side usually represents maintaining the status quo and what will actually hold back the forward progress of history.

    This is so very true when looking at the battle over climate change and against its many deniers, and no less true (and important) when looking at the battle over the use of Medical Model terminology within the oppressive status quo of today’s “mental health” System.

    Richard

  • Tim

    BTW, Oldhead is one of my favorite commenters at MIA and I consider him a close comrade in the struggle against psychiatric abuse. But I agree that his use of the phrase “totally clueless” was inappropriate and not helpful in the context of this important dialogue. However his use of the analogy comparing psych drugs to alcohol is worth pursuing in this overall discussion.

    Richard