Sunday, July 5, 2020

Comments by Richard D. Lewis

Showing 100 of 1370 comments. Show all.

  • Anomie

    Thanks for reaching out. You said:

    “We don’t need “mental health” alternatives. We need to end police brutality, end the war on drugs AND the wars overseas, end gentrification and provide affordable housing, provide anti-bias education in the classrooms and to adults, end capitalism and bring in Universal Basic Income, end the war on drugs, end food deserts, start worker-owned coops, break up the big banks, provide free holistic healthcare, etc.”

    Of course you have highlighted many particular forms of oppression that this system of capitalism engenders. And ending capitalism is the ultimate solution to these problems. NO AMOUNT of so-called reforms will bring about the changes we need.

    Under capitalism, when some reforms are actually put into place after some sort of social upheaval, the System inevitably eats away at these reforms, creates alternative forms of oppression, and co-opts most of the leaders into selling out the struggle.

    This does NOT mean we shouldn’t fight for radical reforms. We must do so without any illusions about what we are up against, and with a clear vision that full Revolution beyond capitalism is our goal.

    When we do fight for reforms, including ending psychiatry and all forms of psychiatric oppression, we must ALWAYS link that struggle to the need to end capitalism. Because any type of reform we accomplish will only eventually be eaten up and twisted upside down by the System.

    Fighting for radical reforms can become a process for educating new activists about how the System works and what it will take to actually bring about full Revolutionary change.

    You said: “…Mental Health professionals are the police.”

    Yes, many (not all) do, unfortunately function in this role in our society. There are a small percentage who do not function in this manner because they are in conflict with the Medical Model’s approach to providing support. People need to search for those who they can trust.

    But the Medical Model and its’ Disease/Drug Based approach is clearly dominant with billions of dollars and major institutions controlling the educational system and society’s narrative on the source (and solution) to major psychological distress.

    Richard

  • Will

    Thank you for this great blog.

    “Defund” and “Dismantle” the police are definitely important demands that could lead to some positive changes in the U.S. that will ultimately save innocent lives.

    HOWEVER, we must clearly recognize that we live in a class based capitalist society, and even significant reforms made to policing in American will not end all forms of violence to working class and dispossessed people in this country and around the world.

    Capitalism (by its very nature) leads to the violence of poverty, climate destruction, sexism ,racism, and inter imperialist type wars. These facts of political life will also ultimately lead oppressed people to confront the ruling classes enforcement of such and oppressive “order” of life in our society. Some sort of police force or military force in society BY NECESSITY will inevitably be sent out to brutally suppress uprisings against this oppressive “order” of things.

    So to Will and others, when we raise demands such as “Defund” or Dismantle” the police, we must also link these struggles to the need for humanity to rid itself of a profit based capitalist system.

    Richard

  • furies

    I think you are absolutely correct to bring up some of the dangers of *Identity Politics,* which is often used as a battering ram against a more revolutionary class based analysis of society. If you read this past blog authored by Sara (“A Racist Movement Cannot Move.”), and then carefully read all my comments (and those by “Oldhead” and “Humanbeing”) in the comment section, you will see a clear denunciation of the damage done by an “Identity Politics” political line.

    What you are be missing here, is that in these tumultuous times there is a much needed critique and condemnation of EVERYTHING in society (including all language and art forms) that are in some ways supporting and maintaining human oppression. AND it is inevitable in these kind of cultural upheavals that there will be EXCESSES. That is, certain situations where these criticisms an critiques go too far over the edge (often veering into the realm of “Identity Politics) and end up targeting and condemning good people and good ideas.

    We must nurture the desire AND the process for MORE revolutionary critiques of the current society, BUT carefully sort out each and everyone of these political debates to make sure that there are fewer “excesses” where good people and their good (actually politically CORRECT) ideas are falsely and mistakenly targeted.

    For example, I do like some things in general about Mike Taibbi’s writings, but I did not agree with the main arguments he made in the link you provided. However, I did like a lot of what I read in the link about The Vampire”s Castle” article.

    And I do respect the risks you have taken to bring up this difficult topic.

    Richard

  • Oldhead

    Perhaps you are correct to point out the “reformist line” within the MIA mission statement.

    It is fair to say that most people who post blogs and comments at MIA do ultimately slip into some sort of “reformism” most of the time.

    This occurs, both when they discuss what’s wrong with psychiatry and their Medical Model and then they propose *alternatives,* AND when they discuss making changes to the system of capitalism which both advances and sustains psychiatry and the Medical Model.

    I am extremely gratified that MIA leaves so much space for anti-psychiatry perspectives.

    All of this just makes it even clearer how much work we (those who are abolitionists and anti-capitalists) must do to move humanity closer to the point where both psychiatry and capitalism will only be featured in museums and history books.

    Historically, most people in any given societal upheaval will cling on to reformist tendencies right up to the last minute prior to when a revolutionary transformation occurs.

    Richard

  • I just posted a comment in the “Around the Web” section of MIA. Since we are in a heightened moment of societal (and self) examination and introspection about systemic forms of racism, should we not be just as vigilant about the harm done by the Medical Model. I put this message here because quite often people do not read or comment in that section of the MIA website.

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/06/207074/?unapproved=174144&moderation-hash=776a53dae606193f5ecf0b0d5d219b37#comment-174144

  • Since we are in a national moment in our history where both the most obvious and more subtle form of racism are being examined, SHOULD WE NOT BEING DOING THE SAME WHEN IT COMES TO THE TREMENDOUS HARM DONE BY THE MEDICAL MODEL’S LABELING AND CONCEPTS OF “MENTAL ILLNESS!!!”

    How is this posting any different than saying “all lives matter” or “buildings matter too.”

    This posting which belongs on NAMI’s website, should be removed from MIA’s website immediately. I don’t think the person who posted it should be fired, but instead, let’s use it as a very important teachable moment about everything that is wrong with the Medical Model and the related “liberal” perspective in society that perpetuates it.

    Richard

  • Sara, Oldhead, and ALL

    To break INTO the tension here, I just want to say that I LOVE both Sara Davidow and Oldhead!

    That form of LOVE is often referred to within political movements fighting oppression, with the affectionate name or greeting of “COMRADE.”

    Wikipedia says: ” ,,,Political use of the term was inspired by the French Revolution, after which it grew into a form of address between socialists and workers…
    When the socialist movement gained momentum in the mid-19th century, socialists elsewhere began to look for a similar egalitarian alternative to terms like “Mister”, “Miss”, or “Missus”. In German, the word Kamerad had long been used as an affectionate form of address among people linked by some strong common interest, such as a sport, a college, a profession (notably as a soldier), or simply friendship.[5] The term was often used with political overtones in the revolutions of 1848…’

    I have spent precious time wrangling (criticism/self-criticism) with both of these “comrades” because they are brilliant writers and such deeply passionate fighters against human oppression.

    I have learned from them both, AND ,at times, taken the risk (cause it sure ain’t easy) to struggled with them to help make them be BETTER at what they already do WELL.

    Damned it, don’t we ALL have to get better at fighting this incredibly powerful system of capitalism/imperialism that simply has such infinite ways to crush the human spirit.

    Oldhead, I would NEVER EVER want the past blog “A Racist Movement Cannot Move” to be removed from the archive. Everyone here should most definitely read and reflect on that blog and comment section, because it is so deeply rich with political lessons.

    To quote Oldhead from above:
    “It’s important for white people to understand racism, both what it is and what it isn’t.”
    Reading that particular blog and comment section (and this one) provides many deep lessons that can help us in future battles against systemic racism.

    Now back to the work at hand: trying to find ways to build off of the tremendous opportunities provided all radical activists by the powerful uprising in America and around the world over the brutal murder of George Floyd.

    Our ENEMY has been weakened and exposed in these tumultuous times. We must seek to advance AND link all these struggles against systemic racism, psychiatric oppression, climate destruction, sexism. classism etc.

    Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!.

    Comradely, Richard

  • Sara

    You completely misinterpreted my meaning in the following quote:

    “While your intent here is to combat various forms of racism, and some of your particular examples you used (in the past blog) to highlight your intent were exactly that – crude forms of appropriation that do come off as racist, and just plain stupid.”

    Here I was actually AGREEING with you that some of the particular examples you had used in that past blog were CORRECTLY pointing out examples of racism and political stupidity.

    My essential point was (and still is) that in some of the OTHER situations, and examples I presented, there is a definite need to carefully examine the political context and political purpose of how white activists are using certain words and taking certain actions, before declaring them *out of bounds*, or possibly labeling them “racist.”

    While I did mention the struggle over the “psychiatric slavery” analogy, I deliberately chose NOT to use that issue in my main example of where you failed to take into consideration “context” and “political purpose” when examining how white activists can correctly use significant quotes from past Black activists.

    I don’t know if your misinterpretation of my above quote has now created a level of emotion, and a resulting atmosphere where dialogue can no longer continue.

    I do believe that my Frederich Douglas example (in the above comment) was both important, and helpful, feedback about when “absolutist” language and certain types of “dictates” to white activists (that ignores certain contextual information), will NOT help us in our fight against racist thinking and behavior.

    Sara, I am not sure WHAT you overall think my motivation is in raising some of these criticisms of a very FEW aspects of your many writings here at MIA.

    Even as an older and very seasoned revolutionary activist, it is not easy (and frankly,very uncomfortable at times) raising these issues with you. I take no pleasure in pursuing these types of discussions. I do it because I feel some sort of moral and historical responsibility to seek the truth and a path to human liberation from oppression.

    In past MIA dialogues over your blogs, other critics of your writing, either dismiss you outright, or just argue with you about how you are wrong. Very few people, if ever, actually try to offer you constructive feedback by carefully analyzing where you are right and suggesting where your logic and/or political pronouncements may have drifted off course.

    I make the effort (and tolerate the discomfort) with you, precisely because I see you as a gifted and very consequential writer on the internet, around the issue of psychiatric oppression and other important political struggles. I am not sorry I made these efforts to dialogue with you and attempt to give you constructive feedback, but I am saddened and disappointed that this discussion may end on such a negative vibe.

    Richard

  • Oldhead

    When you said about RW:

    “His position is essentially that since “people” see the notion of anti-psychiatry as unscientific and conflate it with Scientology we should reject it.”

    By itself, this description of RW’s views does not exactly imply that he is against the concept and meaning of “anti-psychiatry.” It only means that he possibly believes that to be public about such a position at this time in history, especially for a journalist, would undercut his role (and that of MIA) in the struggle against psychiatric oppression and the entire Medical Model.

    I applaud the spectacular forum RW has created at MIA for us all to learn, debate, discuss, and organize against psychiatric oppression.

    Oldhead, it is up to US to do a better job in the coming years of exposing and attacking psychiatry for its oppressive and criminal role in the world today.

    We must create favorable conditions in our anti-psychiatry political work to make it possible for many people, including RW, to grasp the necessity and importance of taking a clear and public stand for the abolition of psychiatry.

    Of course, Oldhead you know that I believe the destiny of psychiatry is intimately connected and dependent upon the future of the entire capitalist system. So we need to do a better job in our anti-capitalist work, as well, in making these links to social control and all other forms of psychiatric oppression.

    Richard

  • Sera

    Whether or not the meme (REPEAT AFTER ME…) you posted in your current blog were your specific words, is not the essential point I am making here. They were used in same manner, and used partially for the same purpose as some of your “dictates” and “admonishments” in prior blogs.

    I’ll mention two prior such dictates:
    “Stop Comparing Psychiatry to Slavery (or similar) and

    “Stop Appropriating the words of Black People to Support System (or anti-system) Messages

    While your intent here is to combat various forms of racism, and some of your particular examples you used (in the past blog) to highlight your intent were exactly that – crude forms of appropriation that do come off as racist, and just plain stupid.

    However, your use of “absolutist” language in your “dictates” often totally lack CONTEXT AND POLITICAL PURPOSE by some of the radical activists using the language and analogies you decry and condemn.

    For example, I applaud radical activists of ALL colors and nationalities who correctly use a famous quote by Frederich Douglas to expose the hypocrisy of U.S. patriotism and flag waving on July 4th in a country built on the backs of slavery, and the vicious exploitation of working class people (of all colors) here, and in many Third World countries. Once again, it’s all about “context” and “political purpose.” when evaluating someone’s particular use of a famous Black person’s words.

    And some white political activists (anti-psychiatry and anti-capitalist) here in the MIA comment section, have correctly used the words of the Black revolutionary, Mumia Abu-Jamal (and other Black revolutionary leaders) to make important political points on numerous topics, including fighting psychiatric oppression.

    And Sera, I have seen the video (and read the accounts) of a Black city official in Ferguson (in the rebellion related to Michael brown’s killing) tackle and assault a white revolutionary giving a revolutionary speech in the streets supporting the uprising. This same Black official (“fire extinguisher”) attempted to incite the police and other Black people against the “white outside agitators destroying our community.”

    Bear in mind that this same white revolutionary is part of a larger group that also has Black members in the organization fighting for a socialist future in this country and around the world. That particular Black official needed to be condemned and called out for his attempts to suppress (and limit) multi-racial and multi-national unity fighting a common enemy. And yes, I am aware that there are some right wing elements acting as provocateurs in these situations. But this was definitely not the case, and this official knew that.

    Sara YES, some more backward and ignorant white people need to be justly put on the defensive, and yes, they need to listen to, and follow the lead of Black people in some of these struggles.

    However, there is far more nuance to be considered here when you print and repeat various absolutist “dictates” and “admonishments” to white radical political activists. It all boils down to CONTEXT AND POLITICAL PURPOSE when evaluating the role of white people in multi-racial political struggles.

    Sera, I would never expect you or anyone else to defer to someone merely because of their age or political experience in political movements. But there are some people writing in this comment section with literally decades of radical activism, and some have been in the forefront with other Black radicals in some of the most significant struggles in this country’s history against systemic racial oppression. I’m in my fifth decade, and I know of others who equal that experience ,or come close.

    So once again, Sera I ask you to reconsider the “absolutist” type language in some of your “dictates” and “admonishments” that have, at times, lacked NUANCE and CONTEXT, and result in potentially tarnishing very good radical activists with a tag of “racism.” And it can also have the effect of shutting down much needed debate and discussion.

    Don’t get me wrong here, I am ALL FOR provocative political commentary and slogans, IF,they appropriately leave room for both political nuance and political context.

    Richard

  • Sara

    I believe I “get” what you are talking about when it comes to finding ways of creating a better environment for “inclusion” and greater participation of marginalized people etc. Some of your suggestions about “listening” and at times “stepping back” so others can come forward and speak etc, are especially important when you have new people, and others who might feel “out of place.”

    But I am wondering if you are open to some criticism/feedback about some of your choices of language (at times) when you post “dictates” or “admonishments” to white people about what they can or cannot say, and/or do, in certain situations. And if someone were to disagree with some aspect of the “warning,” then the implication is that they must therefore most certainly be a “racist.”

    For example, in this blog you posted a big black box warning with the following admonishment:

    “REPEAT AFTER ME: I WILL NOT TELL BLACK FOLKS HOW TO FEEL, PROTEST, OR MOURN.”

    First off, I would not tell anyone how they should “feel” or “mourn.” Personal feelings are unique to the individual and generally flow from someone’s belief system and cultural influences. Mourning behavior and thoughts are also very much related to the the nature of a person’s “feelings.”

    However, to say that people who are not minorities do not have the “right,” or even an “obligation,” to enter into a discussion and/or debate about the best ways to struggle (protest) against systemic racism, is just plain wrong.

    As I mentioned in my above comment, there are many minority spokespeople (in this current uprising) from all sectors of society, representing many different class and racial viewpoints. Some of these people are acting (as I pointed out above) like “firemen” and “fire extinguishers” trying to stifle and limit the scope of the struggle within acceptable parameters for the “powers that be.” They must be challenged and struggled against.

    We must ALL find ways to join with more radical elements within these minority movements and uprisings to oppose reformism and other dead end strategies. The fact that this is not easy to do correctly, and is filled with all kinds of potential minefields, should never preclude us from trying. History demands this of us.

    And if the struggle against systemic racism does not ultimately link up with other struggles, such as ending climate destruction, women, psychiatric oppression, classism etc., we will never defeat the “powers that be” and their class based system of exploitation and oppression.

    I believe you have made a few other bad choices of language (with several dictates and admonishments) in the past blog “A Racist Movement Cannot Move.” I do take issue with how you characterized that particular comment section as “too ugly and out of control.” Within that very long comment section there was some very respectable and legitimate feedback/criticism of some of your choices of language and particular admonishments to MIA readers and commenters.

    Now that some time has past since that past struggle, do you see that there may be a similar problem connected to your black box warning (REPEAT AFTER ME…) in this current blog.

    Again, you know I am a big supporter of your prolific writing here at MIA, and anyone writing several dozen blogs on any website is definitely increasing the odds that they might make a few mistakes here and there.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Sara Thanks for your response. I may have more to say in the very near future. But I thought I would post a link to a very powerful post that is circulating on the internet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLDmB0ve62s

    Here is a black women (Kimberly Rice Jones) “speaking truth to power” where she actually DOES use the words “rioters” and “looters,” but she provides a powerful historical and political context. She also references the the Tulsa and Rosewood massacres of several hundred Black people that has largely been hidden in the history books. I believe that Robert Whitaker has written in the past about this topic.

    Richard

  • Thank you Sara for being the first at MIA to write about the historic rebellion and uprisings (worldwide) against the death of George Floyd and its’ direct connection to systemic racism.

    Sara you have always led the way at MIA in writing on the difficult and necessary topics that often make people uncomfortable while living with much greater privilege in a wealthy class based capitalist society. Especially, since there would be no U.S. imperialist empire, and such enormous wealth, without the oppressive legacy of slavery, and the on-going exploitation of those sectors of society on the bottom rungs of the ladder (especially people of color) both here in the U.S. and in the Third World countries dominated by the U.S.

    And I am so glad you did NOT mention the words “riot” or “looting” since they only serve to demean, denigrate, and distract from the truly historic nature of these uprisings. The police were “rioting,” and “looting” takes place on a daily basis in this country by the one percent who have a foot on all our necks in one form or another, including with their Disease/Drug Based Medical Model that is at the route of all psychiatric oppression.

    And yes, just as with Covid 19, people of color are disproportionately harmed by today’s so-called “mental health” paradigm of “treatment.”

    Systemic racism is intimately connected to the entire history of the U. S. capitalist/imperialist system,and we ALL must find ways in a post Covid 19 world to politically target a profit based capitalist system in ALL our struggles against all forms of oppression. In fact, this has now become a “moral imperative” for those who “know better,’ or should I say, “know more.” I will soon write a blog titled “Psychiatry and Capitalism in a Post Covid 19 World” where i delve deeply into this profoundly important “moral imperative.”

    Sara, I was so glad to see you mention the word “revolution” in your blog as a direction we need to seek in our political struggles in the future. But once again, the enormous ELEPHANT (not mentioned) in the room, the fact that ALL of this oppression we are talking about, not only takes place in a CAPITALIST system, but is both given sustenance and powerfully generated by capitalism. And systemic racism, and all other forms of human oppression, cannot end unless humanity ultimately moves beyond a capitalist system.

    Now back to the issue of ALL people engaging with Black people, and other people of color, about the way forward out of this systemic insanity. We could plainly see in these recent uprisings MANY different political viewpoints coming from ALL sectors of society and ALL sectors within the Black community. This includes Black politicians, mayors, police chiefs, spiritual leaders, political commentators, and others with various credentials who were sometimes seeking ways to limit the scope, intensity. and political targets for this historic uprising.

    In the 60’s, we use to call these type of political interventionists (of all colors and political persuasions) as “firemen” or “fire extinguishers.” They are genuinely afraid of these rebellions going “too far” with too much revolutionary content. These are the same people who choose to focus on “looting,” “property destruction,” and “law breaking” to denigrate the political significance of the righteous rebellion taking place against systemic oppression. These are some of the same people afraid of the terms “dismantling” and “defunding” who now just want to see a few so-called cosmetic reforms to policing and other institutions within our society. All of which will do nothing of consequence to end racist oppression.

    Of course, I (and others) should always listen extremely carefully to the political perspectives of all minority people’s, including those who are representing the current power structure and/or status quo. We must always engage in respectful struggle (being very mindful of the long legacy of historical racism in this society) when we have different ideas or views regarding making radical change in society.

    But white privilege, and any other class or sexual identity privileges we were born into, should never lead us to hold back from any, and all, opportunities to make radical change in the coming period – the world demands it!

    Nor should we engage in any kind of patronizing behavior towards minority people’s (which, in itself, is a form of racism), where we hold back our political perspectives for fear of challenging or “offending.” someone of a different race or ethnic background.

    All of these struggles involving systemic racism, climate destruction, women’s liberation, sexual identity, psychiatric oppression, classism etc. must increasing find ways to increasingly come together with a singularity of purpose, with clear targets, and common strategic and tactical goals. This WILL NOT happen without very deep and intense struggle WITHIN, and AMONG, ALL the people fighting those at the top rungs of society. Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

    Richard

  • Sam

    Thank you for validating my art work. It means so much to me when psychiatric survivors, and others harmed by psychiatry, find some type of connection to my song.

    Sam, I have been reading your comments at MIA for some time now and always find them to be very educational and emotionally moving.

    We all have much work to do in order to sweep psychiatry and their oppressive Medical Model into the “Dust Bin of History.”

    Carry on! Richard

  • Malcolm

    Sorry for your loss, and I, too, share your very powerful critique of the oppressive forces in society that were directly involved in leading your beautiful son to his untimely demise. Thanks for sharing such a well written and emotional tribute to his life.

    I wrote this song ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmpfq0b7tLA ) after working 22 years in community health in the U.S., and I witnessed all the damaged done by psychiatry and their Medical Model. I hope my song provides some level of beauty and emotional catharsis to your loss.

    All the best, Richard

  • Steve

    Thanks for the response.

    You just said:
    “… it is certainly obvious that our populace is so far away from even asking that question that, in order to meet people where they are at, we have to answer less overarching questions…”

    I believe this type of approach (of lowering political expectations and dumbing down our analysis) is EXACTLY what leads people into all kinds of reformism and failed “piece meal” approaches to political change.

    If ANYTHING (over the last several decades) has opened up people’s minds to ask very fundamental questions about the viability of a profit based capitalist system, it is the Covid 19 pandemic.

    OMG. Steve, even the current ruling has been forced to discuss (and in some cases implement) some policies that would have been clearly labeled as “communist inspired” prior to this pandemic crisis.

    Every (and all) the weaknesses, inequalities, vulnerabilities, and overall immorality of the capitalist system has been laid bare for all to see.

    There is no better time than right NOW to raise all the BIG questions about the need for major systemic change in the world. Seize the time! Humanity can’t wait much longer for these type of revolutionary changes to occur.

    Richard

  • Oldhead

    You said:
    “At first glance my impression is that Lieberman may be on the right {sic} side here”

    I think you might want to consider taking back the above comment for it it totally contradicts the very consistent and correct logic you have applied in all your above comments.

    Lieberman is only taking his position against Lee and others because he believes it might potentially threaten the political and “scientific” credibility of psychiatry as a professional enterprise.

    Oldhead, I would stick with your later comment which says:

    “Simply put, we should not be getting involved in psychiatry’s internal disputes. A pox on all their houses!”

    Richard

  • Steve

    I strongly agree with Oldhead here.

    Steve you said above:
    “I think rather than “diagnosing” Trump, what is needed is a coordinated effort to honestly evaluate his behavior in terms of whether he’s doing his job and adhering to his oath of office.”

    Trump IS doing his “job” quite well representing one particular (more openly fascistic) faction in the U.S. capitalist ruling class.

    And as far as “adhering to his oath of office,” this particular faction Trump represents believes their current agenda is absolutely necessary to protect and extend the economic and political interests of the U.S. Imperialist empire at this time. And why should WE ever want to quibble with their Imperialist based strategic perspectives???

    And Steve, why would you want to give ANY credibility to a Presidential “oath of office,’ when the very nature of that office is to oversee and continue the oppression of millions of people around the world? The Covid 19 pandemic has exposed (for those who could not already see) the incredible levels of inequality and oppression in a class based capitalist system, and also why this system must be removed for humanity to have any chance of future survival.

    Steve then you said above:
    “We have a means for removing incompetent or corrupt presidents from office. If Congress doesn’t act to remove him, the voters have a responsibility to do so. If they do not, well, as they say, people get the government they deserve.”

    Who is the “we” in this paradigm? Here you are completely confining the chances for future political change totally in the realm of “voting” in an organized capitalist class based electoral process. This has proven historically to be an utter failure in bringing about necessary systemic change in the world. And the same will be so in the future.

    And finally Steve, when you say “…people get the government they deserve” (in the above context)

    This is the essence of a “blame the victim” type statement. This completely ignores ALL the brutally oppressive instruments of power and control (including psychiatry and all forms of social media) used by the “powers that be” to maintain their class based rule.

    Steve, I appreciate many of your above comments, but these particular comments must be critically analyzed for remaining totally within ruling class type logic and overall framework of thinking.

    Richard

  • You completely lost me with the title to this blog.

    Who the the hell is the “WE” in the title.

    The curriculum in ALL the schools training psychiatrist today is 100% controlled by a colluding alliance between the leaders of Big Pharma and the American Psychiatric Association – end of story.

    What should WE expect to be the result of such oppressive power and control?

    Richard

  • Phil

    A simply simply brilliant deconstruction (complete annihilation!!!) of the so-called scientific underpinnings of modern psychiatry.

    You have taken the preeminent, and very top scientific thinker (and spokesperson – Dr Kendler) for psychiatry, and revealed their profession”s extremely unprincipled and desperate search for a “science” to justify their existence.

    This quote from your article captures the essence of psychiatry’s motivations for a way to justify their existence:

    ” Didn’t most of the great errors of science stem from efforts to justify the status quo often for the benefit of various powerful conflicting interests?”

    Phil, please carry on your totally revolutionary intellectual pursuits! They are SO very valuable to the human pursuit of truth and justice in a very oppressive world.

    Richard

  • Thank you Bob, we all needed that.

    In this case the New York Times defended the economic and political interests of Big Pharma and their colluding partner psychiatry. These are both extremely valuable institutions for maintaining and expanding a very oppressive status quo of a class based capitalistic system.

    Long Live the Spirit of Bonnie Burstow!

    Richard

  • Thank you Don for such a fitting tribute to the life and activism of an amazing warrior for the oppressed.

    Bonnie Burstow represents the very best of humanity. She never settled for just enjoying the privileges available to those of us living in a first world country. She was a tireless fighter for ALL the oppressed who gave of herself to her last breath. We should all be inspired by her example to do even more to make this world a better place.

    In addition (and very much connected to) her advanced anti-psychiatry activism and radical feminism, she was a major critic and fighter against the capitalist system. She was very aware of the deep connections between all psychiatric abuse and a profit based/capitalist system.

    While I have corresponded with Bonnie in the past, I only wish I could have engaged with her in person to strategize and plan more activism to end ALL psychiatric abuse and help move the planet beyond the crippling effects of a profit based/capitalist system.

    LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF BONNIE BURSTOW!!!

    Comradely, Richard

  • Bob and All

    Thanks for sharing such a deeply personal story (from both Zel Dolinsky and you, Bob), and I want to express my condolences to all who knew this very courageous man.

    This story, in so many ways, concentrates EVERYTHING that MIA and “Anatomy of an Epidemic” has been about for the past 8 years.

    We (those who live in the U.S.) must constantly remind ourselves that we live in a trauma based society, and the Medical Model does everything to steer us away from understanding the connection between psychological pain and the surrounding environment.

    We have a long road ahead; psychiatry and the entire Medical Model are so deeply embedded in every pore of this very sick society. Truly Revolutionary type change is necessary to move the world in an entirely different direction.

    Thanks to the Zel Zelinsky’s and Bob Whitaker’s of the world who dare to speak the truth.

    We love you Bob – Carry on!

    Richard

  • Rachel

    Thanks for the response.

    I would say that the concept of “original sin” imposed on society by various religions. has actually done FAR MORE harm to people in the world (up to this point in history) than the harm done by psychiatry and their genetic theories. Although psychiatry is doing its best to catch up.

    When you look at how children, in particular, respond to trauma experiences by deeply internalizing toxic guilt and shame, you can see the tragic results of this religious doctrine. People (especially children) feel completely abandoned by the adults they are taught to respect and obey, and who are suppose to protect them in the world.

    They also end up not feeling worthy enough to be protected by their “God” and negatively judged, as a “sinner,” by their “God,” and ultimately “punished” by this same god. These kind of very harmful beliefs are often repeated by many trauma victims in multiple ways, and carried into adulthood.

    Rachel, you said:
    “the doctrine of “original sin” goes along with the doctrine that all human beings are special beings who bear the divine breath within. And have basic rights to life and liberty by nature of our common humanity. Regardless of intelligence, strength or beauty.”

    This comment ignores the fact that the Bible is filled with quotes that promote harmful patriarchy against both women and children, including stoning and death as a punishment for various types of so-called disobedience and disrespect. And one of the 10 Commandments actually upholds slavery. Overall, there is very little “rights to life and liberty” depicted in the morale standards of the Bible.

    I believe there is no such thing as “sin,” which implies some type of eternal “good AND “Evil” in ALL human beings and in the world.

    There is, however, “right and wrong” in the world as determined by an evolving code of human morality that has fortunately evolved far beyond (in some places on the planet) than the more primitive standards laid out in the Bible.

    I have to say that the uncritical and blind interpretations of biblical scripture and religious doctrine that some engage in reminds me very much of the uncritical and blind interpretations of the DSM Bible and the entire Medical Model.

    Rachel, I love almost all your comments and your overall presence at MIA, but I just can’t let these contradictions in thinking slide by without responding in a direct and honest way.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • There is one very BIG difference in this discussion about “Left” and “Right,” and why it is NOT a good idea to equate problems with “authoritarianism” within both political persuasions.

    Those people on the “Right” who defend capitalism and class based societies as a necessary form of political and economic formation, believe that human beings can NEVER rise above the need for some form of “authoritarianism.”

    They base this belief on the theory that this conforms to a forever (selfish) flaw in human nature. They also worship at the throne of some sort of “Libertarian” right of individual freedom, that somehow supersedes the rights of the collective whole.

    Both of these outlooks by those who adhere to a “Rightist” political persuasion, guarantees the continuation of the status quo of a capitalist/class based society, where the bottom line of “profit first” will always guide us into competitive Imperialist wars and the further destruction of the environment, along with all the other problems of a commodity based culture.

    ON THE OTHER SIDE, a genuine “Left” perspective advocates for, AND believes, that a cooperative classLESS society is both necessary AND possible. Thus their goals and intention is to eliminate ALL form of “authoritarianism.”

    Genuine “Leftists” do NOT believe that human nature has any permanent fixed flaws, but it is quite malleable and capable of the creative conscious transformation of the world into a place with ever increasing amounts of freedom, where exploitation, trauma, war, and violence can gradually be eliminated (over hundreds of years) from social society.

    Of course declaring one’s beliefs about human nature and about what kind of societies are both necessary and possible in the world. is very different than actually living up to those ideals AND making it happen in the real world.

    BUT these distinctions between “Left” and “Right” are very important to be understood, AND they have deeply important moral and political implications about where we choose to stand in the world, and how we go about making the world a better place, including eliminating ALL forms of psychiatric abuse.

    Richard

  • Given ALL the difficulties you describe about moving away from abusive forms of authoritarianism in building a new society, we must seriously address the question of RISK/REWARD.

    Yes, the path moving toward a more egalitarian society free of all forms of oppression. war, trauma etc., including ending psychiatric abuse, will be long and extremely difficult.

    But doing nothing (for fear of failure), OR falling for all the many traps of trying to reform a capitalist system that is functioning in a way that it is intrinsically designed to function. are both recipes for disaster.

    Either Imperialist war and/or climate change will certainly destroy this plant if we unable to move beyond the capitalist system and actually achieve (through revolutionary change) a non-authoritarian socialist system as a step toward a truly classless society.

    For these kind of changes to have a CHANCE of happening, we (those who believe this is necessary) need to change our attitudes AND LANGUAGE.

    We need to articulate just how dangerous it is to accept the status quo, AND/OR, how dangerous it is to advocate for SLOW change.

    We need to be willing to take some RISKS in making systemic change, with no absolute guarantees of success. If we don’t. this world is in danger of being destroyed.

    Our LANGUAGE (including how we talk about authoritarianism) needs to reflect some of our willingness to take risks (I’m not talking about impulsive or foolish risks), but carefully summing up the past attempts at socialism (the good and bad), and then boldly move forward.

    This conversation is NOT off topic. It is my view that we cannot end psychiatric abuse without ALSO ending a class based capitalist system.

    Psychiatry and Big Pharma are TOO BIG AND IMPORTANT to “The Powers That Be” to be allowed to fail. The program and laws promoted by K.Harris actually targets the more rebellious sections of society. It leads to more drugging and social control of those sections in society who are most likely to be a part of the Revolution we need.

    Richard

  • Steve

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I addressed this issue in a challenging way because I have read very similar comments by you on other occasions, and never got around to responding to you (my bad).

    We need to be very clear when we use the “Left” or “Right” labels (as Oldhead has pointed out many times) because its definition is now so confusing to people , when for example, Hilliary Clinton or some other Liberal can be called a “Leftist.”

    I define “Leftist” as someone who believes that humanity needs to move BEYOND a capitalist system towards socialism, as an historical transition to a truly communistic classless society.

    People who have made genuine attempts to fight for, and build, socialism and move towards a classless society SHOULD NOT be equated (even when they make authoritarian type mistakes) with those on the “Right” who either operate an exploitative capitalist society, and/or advocate for one.

    Yes, it is true that some formerly genuine socialists (Leftists) can transform themselves into becoming oppressive authoritarians. In these cases they end up actually wanting to “go back” and/or preserve some sort of class structures that will benefit them and their family at the cost of the majority of people (they then become counter-revolutionaries). Thus, we ultimately have a RETURN to some form of capitalism (or as we call it, “state capitalism” as formerly existed in the Soviet Union, and now exists in China) – Russia is now openly capitalist in both name and deed.

    Other genuine Leftists, did NOT want to return to capitalism, but instead, made authoritarian (and other related) type mistakes that set back the course of revolutionary change. These mistakes (even serious mistakes), in the course of valiant attempts at Revolutionary change are a complicated combination of ignorance, trial and error, and very much related to the horrendous pressure applied to defeat these revolutions by the old defeated capitalist class, and other countries fearing the growth of Revolutions around the world.

    Steve, you said: ” Revolutions have historically not always led to real change, because the internalized authoritarian underpinnings of the social system were not addressed, and the new rulers step into the authoritarian roles that they and the society they are part of feel comfortable with.”

    Here, if you are talking about “the birthmarks” of the old system reasserting themselves in the new society, then I can agree with you.

    But, we must remember that historical attempts at transitioning BEYOND capitalism to socialism/communism, are ONLY a hundred and fifty years YOUNG. This is a relatively short period of time on a human historical scale. Most new experiments in both science and in the social world will NEVER succeed on just the first few attempts.

    Why did the prior historical attempts at socialist/communist revolutions fail? Is this somehow because there is an “authoritarian” flaw in human nature, or are there other more scientific and ultimately knowable explanations for these unrealized (and defeated) attempts at Revolutionary change.

    To simply repeat phrase about “authoritarianism” being endemic to “all” political persuasions on both the “Left” and the “Right” contributes to a commonly accepted narrative pushed by the defenders of capitalism and the status quo. This is a narrative that lacks any attempt to do justice to an accurate historical summation of revolutionary attempts over the past 150 years.

    Steve, I am NOT saying this was your intention, but we all must be careful with the phrases we choose to repeat, and how that particular vernacular is interpreted by most people in today’s society.

    Richard

  • Steve

    Your comment is confusing at best, and tends to reinforce the “authoritarian” view that human beings will ALWAYS be authoritarian.

    This is, in the final analysis, a justification for people to ultimately accept the status quo, and stop dreaming of, and working towards, a world FREE of authoritarianism.

    Your comment reinforces the view that we all need to accept the fact that human beings will ALWAYS need to live in some sort of class based (authority) type capitalist society, because somehow this corresponds to some sort of “forever” human characteristic that can never change.

    There ARE, and CAN BE, “political persuasions” that advocate for, and work towards, a world free of “authoritarianism.”

    Steve, are you denying this possibility?

    Richard

  • Syd

    Thank you for those meaningful words and details filling us in about her life.

    I remember her as valiant warrior against psychiatry and the Medical Model who never let her wounds keep her from helping others or speaking her mind against all forms of oppressive authority. May her spirit live on and inspire others to step forward in the struggle.

    Richard

  • Stephen Gilbert was a true warrior for all those oppressed by psychiatry and the entire Medical Model. He walked that oh so delicate line of working inside the System, but never allowing himself to be engulfed or compromised by it. His anti-psychiatry critique was filled with both passion and scientific substance.

    And when Stephen felt himself somehow (by association) participating in harm to people by being a part of the System, he was the first to be self-critical and seek ways of finding restitution. He has always been one of my favorite people writing in the comment section, and I learned so much from his personal experience, his overall political critique, and his forthright honesty. He will be sorely missed, and there are big very shoes to be filled by those following in his footsteps.

    Long Live the Spirit of Stephen Gilbert!

    Richard

  • While this blog raises some important points about the psychological effects (self image) of young women taking antidepressant drugs, it leaves out the ESSENTIAL QUESTION of the actual physical and psychological effects of these drugs.

    There is a great deal of evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) of the sexual side effects (loss of desire and ability to experience pleasure), and also, evidence that these drugs interfere with the desire to “bond” with other human beings. These two related phenomena could have enormous negative effects on the overall development of a young girl’s life.

    And what happens when these young women cycle through the often reported “rabbit hole” of on going relapses with drug changes and the addition of more powerful psych drug cocktails?

    I don’t think we can adequately discuss this important topic WITHOUT discussing these crucially related topics of overall psychiatric drug harm.

    Richard

  • To RW and All the MIA Staff

    There is much to celebrate in what MIA has accomplished over the past 8 years. MIA has become a powerful force on the internet and within our society exposing the overall oppressive Medical Model, and the particular role that psychiatry and Big Pharma play in promulgating that model. It also offers many empathetic alternatives for those needing emotional and psychological help.

    I am heartened by RW’s and MIA’s willingness to continuously re-evaluate its mission and role in the struggle to end psychiatric oppression, and to establish a new narrative about the emotional and psychological difficulties of human existence.

    And I do very much appreciate that RW, both solicits and responds to, the sometimes contentious and controversial views of the MIA readers and followers. In particular, the fact that the term “mental illness” was placed in quotes by RW represents part of this important evolution and growth of thinking that has taken place at MIA.

    In conclusion, I want to say I support the changes and evolution in the MIA mission statement. I will add the following comments about the nature of our current society and the struggle to overturn the oppressive Medical Model:

    While there has been progress in changing minds and gathering forces to oppose all forms of psychiatric oppression, we must be brutally realistic about what it will actually take to end the enormous harm done by the Medical Model.

    Psychiatry, Big Pharma, and its related “genetic theories of original sin,” and its increasing role in society as a form of social control, has become TOO BIG AND IMPORTANT to the POWERS THAT BE, to be allowed to fail.

    So what is likely to develop in the coming years is A VERY POLARIZED DIVIDE on the narrative questions that MIA has definitively staked out territory clearly on one pole. That is, a humanistic and empathetic understanding of human psychological distress as intimately connected to the daily stress related to social inequality, injustice, and trauma emerging out of a class based, profit driven economic and political system.

    On the other side of this very polarized divide, stands deeply entrenched psychiatry, Big Pharma, the capitalist ruling class, and all those people in society who have consumed (often out of fear) the Medical Model narrative of chemical imbalances, genetic defects, and human psychological flaws as the explanation for why there is social inequality and enormous human angst in the world.

    This type of divide I am describing is very similar (and in many ways connected) to the current divide in the U.S. over summing up the role of Donald Trump as a so called “fascist threat,” or as a “savior and protector of the glorious U.S. Empire.”

    This system we live under, with its vast “market place of ideas,” can tolerate sharp political divides (like those over the Medical Model and Trump) for certain periods of time. But these types of political divides WILL NOT ultimately be resolved through a mere EVOLUTION, or just gathering more forces who accept the “new” narrative.

    These sharp political divides I am describing must ultimately be resolved through major systemic change in society. Here I would argue that this will require replacing our current profit based/capitalist system with a new type of socialist model.

    Whether or not people believe this is possible (or have other ideas for big solutions), please DO NOT be lulled into thinking that these major type changes related to the oppression of the Medical Model, will GRADUALLY CHANGE through slow evolutionary growth. This type of thinking is not only very unrealistic, but also extremely dangerous.

    Any serious look at what is going on in the world tells us that “power concedes nothing without a struggle.” And psychiatry, Big Pharma, and other ruling class forces in society who DIRECTLY BENEFIT from what the Medical Model provides to HELP maintain the status quo, WILL NOT simply rollover and give up because we have the “facts” and significant forces gathered on our side.

    We have a long and tortuous struggle ahead, and I am convinced that MIA can play a significant role in this struggle.

    I salute MIA and its staff – keep up the great work. Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win! I already give a donation every year to MIA, but I will now add an additional one hundred dollars to the cause. Carry on!

    Richard D. Lewis

  • Modern psychiatry was created by capitalism and its profit based system. Given its current role in society labeling and drugging some of the most potentially rebellious sections of society, psychiatry CANNOT be abolished until we abolish the capitalist system.

    How would the capitalist class ever allow psychiatry to be dismantled, when it has become so valuable to their current existence and their ability to maintain control of certain sections of society?

    The struggle against psychiatric oppression in all its forms, however, is potentially a vital conduit for the growth of overall resistance to capitalism. Exposing psychiatric oppression to its core, gets right to the heart of what causes human alienation and psychological trauma, and what changes are necessary (socialism) to finally eradicate it, once and for all.

    Richard

  • Noel

    Great blog.

    I would only quibble with your use of the word “scientism.” Unfortunately, this word is used in multiple ways by people on both sides of the political spectrum. More often than not, it is used as a way to attack legitimate science from Right Wing perspectives.

    The examples you have used in this blog are ALL examples of BAD science that cannot be substantiated by the legitimate use of the scientific method. So why not just call it “bad” or “illegitimate” science instead of the very confusing term “scientism,” which implies that it is somehow bad to be “too scientific.”

    Richard

  • Andrew

    Great blog and exposure of the enormous harm caused by the Medical Model of so-called “treatment” for human psychological distress.

    This system cannot be reformed, and must be eliminated along with the profit based system of capitalism that created this oppressive model and continues to benefit in many ways from its existence.

    Question: is there any scientific evidence that DBS provides any help to people with Parkinson’s disease?

    Richard

  • Just one more example why we need to move beyond a profit based capitalist system. Even when these profit hungry murders are caught red handed, their system is rigged so they can recover their ability to remain in positions of power, and then continue exploiting people.

    All reforms and appearances of so-called justice under the capitalist system are merely an illusion.

    Richard

  • Steve

    You said: “…but it still leaves you potentially vulnerable to someone changing the topic to how bad Scientologists are or how “most” opponents “are Scientologists” even if you are not.”

    No, just the opposite. People can keep the discussion (or argument) focused on Scientology as long as we refuse to answer the question.

    So again, the best way to handle this is SIMPLE. We simply tell the truth by saying:
    ” I already told you, we are not Scientologists. We think they are a dangerous cult, so why do you keep bringing this up to avoid dealing with……”

    Steve, you said: ” do you really think that most of the psychiatric profession is asking protesters about Scientology because they are concerned it is a “dangerous cult” and don’t want to interact with it?”

    Again, it doesn’t matter why they are asking the question. It could be a legitimate question by honest people or an illegitimate question by psychiatry lovers trying to deflect the discussion. To eliminate this issue from the discussion or debate, just tell the truth (“No, we are not Scientologists.”) and move on.

    In fact, in some discussions by honest people making the inquiry about Scientology, we could provide some of the history of our movement. We could let people know that some past activists made the MISTAKE of working with Scientology, and then show how that gave psychiatry and the Medical Model an opening to attack those people critical of psychiatry. And also, how this has now become a strategy by lovers of the Medical Model to discredit its critics.

    Scientology is a powerful and well organized cult with deep pockets. It does great harm to those people (especially vulnerable people going through psychological distress) ensnared by its sophisticated anti-psychiatry cover and purported solutions to people’s problems in a difficult world.

    Just like any organization that preys upon and recruits disaffected youth, we should be prepared to both understand Scientology’s reactionary role in society and speak out against them when the opportunity presents itself.

    Richard

  • This is NOT the best way to handle the Scientology issue.

    For many people (including myself) they want to know if Scientology is involved in an organization because they know it is a DANGEROUS CULT and NOT A RELIGION, and they do not want to have ANY connection to it at all.

    Because Scientology is a dangerous cult, it has a specific agenda that is in major competition with psychiatry to recruit very vulnerable people in psychological distress. Based on this reactionary agenda, Scientology will ultimately destroy any anti-psychiatry organizing from within, in addition to discrediting our movement to the general pubic.

    Yes, some people (including psychiatry) use this as a foil to discredit anti-psychiatry and the struggle against the Medical Model. And this has been historically very successful, because past anti-psychiatry type activists have made the MISTAKE of working WITH Scientology.

    So the answer to all this is SIMPLE.

    1) Do not ever knowingly work with Scientology

    2) When asked or accused of being a Scientologist simply say the following:

    “No, Scientology is a dangerous cult, so why are you accusing me of this instead of dealing with …………………..”

    Richard

  • Unfortunately, psychiatry is NOT “on shaky ground” at this time. It is more powerful than ever and deeply (and forever) connected to the future of the entire capitalist system.

    Those who are NOW overly optimistic about ending psychiatry and their Medical Model, FAIL TO UNDERSTAND THE INTERTWINED CONNECTIONS OF PSYCHIATRY AND MODERN CAPITALISM.

    Read Bruce Levine’s blog (currently posted next to RW’s blog) which provides an important response to the provocative question Robert Whitaker raises with his title.

    To be optimistic about the fall of psychiatry at this time would have to mean that you are also optimistic that we are now on the verge of a revolution to end the profit based capitalist system.

    While a political crisis could develop rapidly and these conditions could change to be more favorable, there is no evidence of this happening at this time.

    This is why we must always connect our critique AND organizing efforts against the oppressive Medical Model to also ending the profit based capitalist system.

    Richard

  • One can respect the activism and science promoted by those people who are all the way ANTI-PSYCHIATRY, but not YET be ready to advocate for the complete abolition of psychiatry in society.

    I would say that this is most likely where RW is coming from. So it is OBVIOUS why he would put some distance between his own views and *anti-psychiatry.*

    This is not rocket science!

  • Oldhead says: “Stephen, Steve, KS and Rosalee, please pay attention to my main point …”

    No one is going to pay attention, or give much credence to to your “main point,” after you totally mischaracterize some one else’s words and their essential arguments.

    And then when you’re called out on this, and rightly criticized for this behavior, you refuse to acknowledge your error and blame RW for being “…ambiguous, intentionally or not.”

    This sort of uncivil and unprincipled discourse will NOT lead a higher understanding of these questions.

    Richard

  • Bruce

    This is perhaps the most important, and the very best blog article you have ever had published at MIA

    This is the perfect blog response to be read following Robert Whitaker’s provocative blog titled “Is Remaking Psychiatric Care Possible.”

    This is a highly insightful and penetrating analysis of just how deeply entrenched and essential psychiatry (and their entire Medical Model) is for the future survival of modern capitalist society.

    Neither psychiatry NOR capitalism can exist in the future WITHOUT the other. Both are major impediments to the future of human progress, and any hopes for reform of either one are both undesirable AND impossible.

    Richard

  • Capitalism evolved into Imperialism (spreading its oppressive tentacles over the entire planet, searching for new markets and cheaper labor).

    Recognizing this historical development of capitalism into Imperialism is both useful and informative, and in NO WAY does it somehow mean that we are denying, and/or minimizing the oppressive nature of capitalism as a system of human exploitation.

  • Lawrence

    I support your use of the term “biological psychiatry” as you clarified its use here. It is is very important to recognize and define what has taken place over the last 4 decades with the incredible growth of the Medical Model and the powerful rise (at its head) of an evolving institution of psychiatry “on steroids.”

    Our grandmother’s and grandfather’s psychiatry was always oppressive from its inception, and defining how psychiatry has morphed into “biological psychiatry” does NOT have to mean we are somehow giving the earlier incarnations of psychiatry some sort of “pass.”

    Richard

  • “I suppressed a momentary urge to bang my head against the cinderblock wall. THEN I SIGNED DR. G’S TREATMENT PLAN {emphasis added} and hoped I had planted at least a seed of curiosity.”

    So the good doctor thinks he “planted a seed” and then went right ahead and signed off on this poor patient’s horrible “MISTREATMENT PLAN,” so she could be labeled and drugged with oppressive mind altering substances. This doctor in charge would have been much better off (and taken a much better moral stand) to have actually banged his head “against the cinderblock wall.”

    What happened to the oath to “do no harm?” Who will take responsibility when this poor patient suffers even greater decline in her life because she believes she has a “disease,” and becomes dependent on benzos and/or antidepressant psychiatric drugs?

    This article, not only tells us everything that is wrong with today’s oppressive Medical Model, but ALSO, what is wrong with how morally deficient the response is by those who think they know better. Just let the “cabaret” carry on!!!

    Richard

  • Someone Else

    Not really. The founding FATHERS, while expousing general concepts of “freedom” and “civil rights,” were very much stuck in developing a system ruled by the propertied classes of white men.

    Black people were declared to be 3 fifths of a human being, and women had no right to vote. The working class of laborers were terribly exploited AND the first 100 years of American expansionism and growth was built on the blood and sweat of the American slave system.

    There would be no U.S. imperialist empire without this oppressive history of slavery, and then, of course, we had the wholesale destruction of native peoples and their culture.

    This is just the beginning of a very sordid history of conquest and exploitation leading to the U.S. being the most powerful and wealthiest country in the world with LESS THAN 5% of the world’s population.

    And finally yes, it is the birthplace of biological psychiatry (psychiatry on steroids) that now dominates the entire planet with its oppressive labels, toxic drugs, and forced incarceration and control – “God Bless America.”

    Richard

  • Phoebe

    This was a well told story of your complicated relationship with psychiatric drugs. It is a very sobering and pragmatic assessment of this relationship, and you do not seem to buy into psychiatry’s “chemical imbalance” theory or overly romanticize the benefits of these drugs.

    What is missing for many readers is a more in depth understanding of the connection of your history of psychological distress and your history of trauma. There is only one brief mention of you working on trauma issues in therapy.

    Without some understanding of (and a more in depth presentation) of the environmental factors that may have led to your distress and difficulty focusing and completing important tasks in life, people are left to speculation as to what are the causative factors for these problems. And if a trauma history was, in fact, a central factor in the onset of your difficult struggles in life, what kinds of trauma help (“treatment”) is actually effective and can (in some instances) mitigate the necessity to rely on mind altering drugs as means to coping with a troubled world.

    Of course, a trauma narrative is a deeply personal thing, and you are under no obligation to share this story in your blog, nor am I suggesting you do so. I am only suggesting that it is difficult for readers to reconcile all these complex issues and compromises related to taking psychiatric drugs without knowing essential details of the overall narrative, including what forms of trauma help was accessed (or not accessed), and what was most helpful.

    I admire how much you have accomplished in life and your resilience in the face of such enormous obstacles presented by a very harmful Disease/Drug based Medical Model that dominates the “mental health” system. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Richard

  • Oldhead says:

    “Again, this is a false issue and even discussing it as though it is otherwise falls into the Pharma trap.”

    Oldhead, it was not I who initially mocked this entire blog with the statement:

    “I can’t believe this. Pill Shamers Unite!!”

    Regardless, what terminology we use (and I’m fine with letting Big Pharma and psychiatry own “pill shaming” here on in) the issue of some psychiatric survivors experiencing “shame” (within the movement) for still using some kind of psychiatric drug, DOES EXIST. And your denial of this issue, only contributes to this phenomena.

    Sera and Caroline’s blog only dealt with this issue as one SMALL PART of their overall message, but grasping this particular aspect IS important to thoroughly understanding the totality of their nuanced analysis of the “pill shaming” phenomena.

    Richard

  • Some people still want to be dismissive of this entire blog and topic – which has had a very long and educational discussion.

    They want to deny that “pill shaming” can even exist within our movement against psychiatric abuse.

    I think Julie Greene’s comment – https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/06/pill-shaming-phenomenon-whats-it-really-about/#comment-157622 – and reaction resonates strongly with my views on this topic.

    Richard

  • JanCarol

    Close friends and family members (or clients you’re trying to help on a one to one basis) are a different matter all together than making general public statements. either written or verbal.

    I think we should find any, and all, opportunities to educate and help people (close friends, family, and clients) become less reliant on and/or drug free, for all the reasons you stated.

    Like any personal (or sensitive subject) we should tread lightly and be mindful of how much these people can handle challenging subjects, or whether or not we have real open and honest avenues of dialogue between us.

    We must bear in mind that most people already feel “less than” because they are on these drugs, and also usually have a demeaning label to go with it. Some will even hide their drug taking from us because they know our strong views (regarding negative effect etc.) on the subject. And they may fully agree on an intellectual level.

    But there are some people who get down to one drug (from a big cocktail) and just can’t seem to get off that last small dose. They may function overall quite well otherwise with few related medical issues. They have to proceed at their own pace on these questions and NEVER be made to feel less than because they are still not drug free.

    But ALL public blame and shame (even with people with serious drug problems) should be directed at the profit driven capitalist system and the class of people who run it. It is THEY and THEIR SYSTEM that have created the material conditions (trauma, stress, violence war etc.) that cause people to be so alienated, stressed out, and just plain unable to cope with this oppressive environment.

    Richard

  • Sera and Caroline

    This was a great blog that covered every aspect of this issue from every angle, including ALL the nuances that could be misunderstood and/or turned back on the authors.

    It must be VERY frustrating when MIA commenters don’t take the time to read and consider the essential content of what you are struggling about here.

    You correctly put the major onus and overall responsibility on the larger examples of systemic power and oppression.

    We should NEVER EVER blame or shame anyone form the masses for taking, and/or becoming dependent on (or even addicted to), ANY mind altering substance. OR for using them simply as a means to better cope with a “sick” world and environment that surrounds them.

    This oppressive world has so many ways to crush human resilience and render one’s coping mechanisms ineffectual, or just not enough to get by at any given moment.

    In their lifetime some people may NEVER be able to move beyond some form of need or dependency on some type of drug, AND that makes them NO LESS of a person. Nor does it make them someone who cannot somehow contribute to making this world a better place, if they so choose to be a part of this struggle.

    OF COURSE, in a ONE TO ONE conversation with someone, who was open to the idea of strengthening their coping skills, and/or becoming less reliant on mind altering drugs as a way to cope with the world, I would do my best to share more info on all the negative aspects of these drugs, and discuss (and sometimes even challenge them) about working on alternative ways to strengthen and add to one’s coping skills.

    BUT in any public commentary or written statements, THIS is where we should focus ALL issues of blame, shame and responsibility on the “Powers That Be.” Call it, SHAMING AND BLAMING OUR OPPRESSORS and their entire profit driven, meat grinder of a System.

    Richard

  • One thing to consider in this entire discussion about terminology.

    Quite literally, the major power brokers (psychiatry and Big Pharma) promoting the Medical Model and ALL their false terminology, have spent several hundred BILLION dollars on misguided and corrupt research AND advertising over the past 4 decades, promoting the biggest PR hoax the world has EVER seen throughout all of human history. Someone please name another PR hoax that compares.

    Every time we give ANY scientific legitimacy to their diagnostic labels and terms like “mental health” or “mental illness” or call psychiatric drugs “medications,” we end up somehow validating that their money (actually it’s our money when you consider who produces real value in society) was well spent on transforming our linguistic paradigm to justify and reinforce oppression.

    Richard

  • Great blog and I agree with your position on this matter. We are being MORE SCIENTIFIC when we avoid using these labels and/or let readers know they are spurious.

    And I think the exact same argument can be made about NOT EVER calling psychiatric drugs “medications.” They are clearly mind altering drugs that are NOT “medicating” anything at a cellular level, let alone some kind of “disease.” We are being MORE scientific when we refuse to call them “medication.”

    And while we’re at it, let’s be clear about the term “mental health.” (Paula, please take note of this point because you did use this term without quotation marks.) Socially different ideas, thoughts, feelings, and behavior are NOT “sick” or “unhealthy.” We are reinforcing the Medical Model every time we use those words without some type of challenge.

    Let’s be historically clear about how revolutionary change occurs in the world. It often starts with challenging certain language and terminology that wreaks of the oppression of the old order.

    Richard

  • Rosalee

    Thank you for those kind comments. Here is a second song you may be very interested in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R6djpTt32w

    And yes, I am coming out with my first CD the first week of July – a dozen songs (including the two above) backed up by many instruments, including violin, dobro, drums, piano, cello, pennywhistle, drums, and Great Highland Bagpipes. I’ll keep you posted when the time comes. Thanks for listening.

    Richard

  • Lauren

    A great blog and a very powerful story, very well told.

    I wrote and performed a song about you and millions of other victim/survivors of the worldwide benzodiazepine crisis.

    Take a listen. I hope you find this as meaningful to listen to as it was for me to write and perform.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYuhNEn2OKw (or google “Benzo Blue”)

    All the best in your journey, Richard

  • Having worked in a community mental health clinic as a therapist for 22 years, ALL OF THIS sounds painfully very familiar.

    The Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex is so deeply and firmly entrenched in modern capitalist society, that NOTHING short of a Revolution can dislodge this form of systemic oppression.

    Attempting to focus on reforming this System is an illusion. Fighting for “reforms” should ONLY be viewed as an important means to prepare minds and organize forces to get rid of this System once and for all.

    The profit system ultimately corrupts everything it touches, and it stands as THE major obstacle to the overall progress of human society on a worldwide basis.

    Richard

  • This blog raises some very important points about psychiatric drugs being used in society as a means to stifle political upheaval.

    Just to add to the auhtor’s main point: any political movement for positive change always involves an “advanced” contingent of people stepping forward and initiating resistance. This “advanced” core of activists acts a “catalyst” for broader rebellion by providing leadership and inspiration to all those who follow.

    It is MORE than just interesting to note that in today’s society, some of those sections of the masses MOST HEAVILY drugged have historically been those SAME people MOST LIKELY to be that “advanced” core of activists leading political rebellion.

    In today’s world this includes, minorities, prisoners, women, rebellious youth, and other political outliers and outcasts.

    This is why psychiatry and their entire Medical Model has now become TOO IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE to the ruling classes to be allowed to fail, or somehow be stripped of its power to drug AND incarcerate people without due process or respect for civil rights.

    Great blog, Melody. Richard

  • The fight to abolish psychiatry is really on the radical edge of the overall struggle to end all forms of psychiatric abuse and the entire Medical Model.

    The above mentioned struggle is really one of the newest waves of Human Rights struggles in the world.

    And as such, any and all political exposure and organizing done (including here at MIA) as a part of this Human Rights struggle, can play an important role in raising consciousness and resistance against the ultimate source of modern day oppression – a class based capitalist/imperialist system.

    Richard

  • Bruce

    I believe that psychiatry can neither be “delegitimized” nor “abolished” under the capitalist system. As an institution, psychiatry has now become (over the last several decades) TOO important to the “Powers that Be” to be allowed to fail or lose its Executive power to drug and/or incarcerate people against their will.

    The vital position of Big Pharma in the U.S. economy with its high profit margins (in its collusion with psychiatry and the meteoric expansion of psych drug sales), AND the increasingly important role of psychiatry to label and anesthetize (and thus render ineffective) the more potentially rebellious sections of U.S. society, makes it highly unlikely the ruling class will do (or allow) ANYTHING to weaken psychiatry.

    In a truly just and Revolutionary society, psychiatry would immediately be stripped of all medical legitimacy and Executive powers that involve any kind of FORCE. At the same time, all of psychiatry’s pseudo-scientific and paternalistic theories and activities would be openly criticized and ridiculed through a People controlled media.

    In this way (outlined above) psychiatry would eventually lose ALL credibility and interest from the masses of people, and thus simply “wither away” from society. THIS is how psychiatry will ultimately be “abolished” from the face of the earth.

    The word “abolish” should STILL be used today to describe our movement here among the more radical activists. This is true even though in a Revolutionary society the actual process will one of “withering away.” The word “Abolish” has a more radical and unifying effect among the more advanced activists, and clearly identifies psychiatry as the extremely oppressive institution it truly IS in the world today.

    Richard (BTW, Great blog!)

  • Rosalee

    Thank you very much for that comment. And I always appreciate your input at MIA as well.

    Things can get rough at times in the comment section, but we can’t forget that this will be a long and treacherous Long March to do what is necessary to change this world into a better place.

    “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

    Richard

  • Fred

    The following was my response in a recent blog to a question about the future of psychiatry:

    “In a JUST world ,where real science was taught to regular physicians, they would know that “psychosis” could occur from certain medical conditions, and then act accordingly. This DOES NOT require the need for psychiatry.

    In a JUST world, those people currently labeled as genuine dissident psychiatrists, could either choose to do therapy (and now call themselves therapists) OR choose to become neurologists, for which there is genuine science to describe certain actual brain disorders and the respective forms of legitimate treatment.

    There is NO science to justify the existence of medicalizing psychological distress and responding to these problems as if they required medical “treatment.”

    The existence of modern psychiatry has a definite role in shifting people’s attention away from the inherent systemic problems (injustice and inequality) within the class based capitalist system.”

    Richard

  • Fred I agree with Kindredspirit about the candidness of your responses and your willingness to be open to all ideas and criticisms, if they ring true. I, also know that dissident psychiatrists can be open to many attacks for operating outside the confines of the oppressive Medical Model paradigm.

    There is a Dr. Kelmenson who posts blogs here (with some good points) but has often promoted a “blame the victim” political line about the “willingness” of psych patients to take drugs and accept diagnoses and disability benefits.

    My response to this has been that in a ONE TO ONE conversation with such a person I would definitely challenge their acceptance of psychiatric labels and believing they are disabled, or any other approach of accepting less in life.

    HOWEVER, publicly when addressing these issues I would NEVER EVER place ANY blame on the masses for ANY collective sense of low self esteem or desire to numb themselves from a trauma filled world. We must ALWYS place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the “powers that be.”

    NOBODY IS BORN THIS WAY! It is a powerful ruling class (including the leaders of Big Pharma and psychiatry) who have created a world and a System that all too often crushes the human spirit, and some people end up accepting less in life and will engage in many type of self defeating behaviors. This is NOT their fault.

    We must always point the finger of blame directly towards those people, institutions, and classes in society who DIRECTLY BENEFIT from any human being accepting the concept of “mental illness” and all the disability diagnoses and drugs that may go with it.

    Fred, thanks for writing and staying down in the difficult trenches in the comment section.

    Richard

  • Dr. Moss

    I appreciate that you are speaking out about the problems with the Medical Model and writing about it here at MIA.

    However, I have some SERIOUS problems with part of the way you are characterizing the problem here.

    I will preface my criticism by letting you know that I worked for 22 years in community mental heath as an LMHC, with a strong focus on addiction issues. All those years I fought the take over of Biological Psychiatry and the Disease/Drug/Based Medical Model. I have multiple blogs here at MIA that make my positions quite clear on the problems with the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex.

    You stated the following:

    “All of this points to the reality that mental illness may provide the beholder some unique benefits. A payoff. What inherent benefits or payoffs may exist for identifying oneself as mentally ill?”

    First off, you did NOT put “mental Illness” in quotes. These are NOT medical problems people are dealing with here, but major conflicts with their environment that cause extreme forms of psychological distress. To make big changes in the world we must FIRST challenge the language of an oppressive status quo.

    Secondly, before we should EVER talk about the so-called “unique benefits” of a “mental health” diagnosis, we must FIRST thoroughly expose and analyze ALL the harm done by psychiatric labels. You did not do this. You placed an emphasis on the so-called “benefits.” This, unfortunately, gives power to, and reinforces, some of the negative stereotypes that exist in society about people with psychiatric labels who are declared “disabled” and receiving benefits.

    With some other more aware counselors I worked with over the years, we used the phrase “secondary gain” to describe the phenomena you are describing about people deriving some MINOR benefits from a “mental health” diagnosis.

    BUT notice the term “SECONDARY GAIN,” this is a far better way to characterize this issue, AND a far more accurate description that acknowledges the PRIMARY HARM and oppressive nature of psychiatric diagnoses.

    EVERYONE with a psychiatric diagnosis is PRIMARILY harmed by it, even if they are not currently conscious of this harm. While there may be surface benefits from these labels, do you really think these people are happy, and living lives to the fullest of their human potential???

    For anyone to accept a psychiatric diagnosis (and all the implications of said diagnosis) is a certain recipe to accept less in life. These diagnoses are psychologically crippling and the equivalence of “mental chains.”

    People who have unfortunately “bought into” the concept of a “mental health” diagnosis, are very much victims of a very oppressive System that has *brain washed* millions of people into believing a false narrative about the origins of psychological distress in society.

    We should NEVER talk about so-called “benefits” of psychiatric diagnoses without FIRST discussing the fact that people in society are victims of the biggest PR hoax ever successfully promoted in human society.

    Big Pharma and psychiatry have literally spent several hundred BILLION dollars over 4 decades to promote its false narrative about “chemical imbalances” and so-called “mental illness.” All of their “genetic theories of original sin” serve to hide (and misdirect people away from ) the inherent inequalities and forms of trauma in a class based capitalist society, that are the REAL causative factors for extreme psychological distress.

    We should NEVER write an article about people “LOVING” their diagnosis or gaining “BENEFITS” from it, without making it DOMINATELY clear where we are placing blame for ALL the psychological chains that are crippling human beings, and preventing us from obtaining REAL freedom and the fullest of our human potential.

    Fred, I hope you are open to important feedback about some of the problems with this blog.

    Richard

  • Kindredspirit

    No that does not answer the question.

    No where in any of these quotes you cited above is there a single reference to an anti-psychiatry position being “ultra-left.”

    What WAS called “ultra-left” here is a political position that labels potential friends and allies as part of the camp of the “enemy.”

    That is, a political stance that demands that people be “all the way” anti-psychiatry NOW. And if they (especially someone who might be a professional) will not accept the anti-psychiatry label (or someone’s definition of this label) then they must be working for the interests of psychiatry, and therefore be opposed and degraded.

    Unfortunately, the term “ultra-left” has different meanings to different people.

    My definition implies that someone with an “ultra-left” position is jumping stages in the development of a political movement. That is, not seeing how a radical political movement actually develops over time. And not developing a strategy and set of tactics that will have chance for victory.

    A consistent “ultra-left” position appears “radical” and “left” on the surface but its strategy and tactics actually disrupts the ability to gather allies through education and struggle over the long haul.

    I prefer to not argue over the definition of “ultra-left,” because of its different meanings to different people. And for that reason I will no longer use it to identify this wrong approach I am challenging in some of Oldhead’s comments.

    To avoid fighting over definitions, lets get to the heart of the matter here. I will ask you Kindredspirit, (and others) the question I raised in the above comment:

    “Just because someone is not yet ready to identify as “anti-psychiatry” (despite decades of fighting against all forms of psychiatric abuse and the Medical Model) should they somehow be discarded and labeled as if they represent the other “side?”

    Richard

  • Oldhead states the following: “It is bizarre that to refer to abolitionist AP sentiment as “ultra-left” …”

    Exactly who and where (please show the exact quote) has anyone in the comment section called an *anti-psychiatry* stance as being “ultra-left.”

    Oldhead states the following: “and that someone talks about OUR “drawing lines” between survivors and professionals ”

    Exactly who and where (please show the exact quote) has anyone talked about “drawing line” between survivors and professionals”

    And when Oldhead states the following:

    “I think the response — as well as the undercurrent of hostility — draws a clear line regarding what “side” LC represents.”

    I ask the question, exactly what “side” is Oldhead saying that Lee Coleman represents?

    If someone cannot honestly and accurately sum up (given the totality of Lee Coleman’s history of activism) what “side” he is on when it comes to fighting psychiatric oppression, then how do they expect to unite anyone to be a part of any kind of anti-psychiatry movement?

    Just because someone is not yet ready to identify as “anti-psychiatry” (despite decades of fighting against all forms of psychiatric abuse and the Medical Model) should they somehow be discarded and labeled as if they represent the other “side?”

    Richard

  • Alex

    I am not clear on your point here. You obviously have some issues with how Lee Coleman responded to your above comments, That’s fine and certainly open for your critique.

    But are you prepared to put him in the camp of the enemy, simply because he does not completely agree with your exact approach? And thus negate all the positive work he is doing in his critique of the oppressive Medical Model

    Do you not see the danger of ultra-left positions when dealing with potential allies in Human Rights struggles?

    Richard

  • Rachel

    I agree with you.

    In a JUST world ,where real science was taught to regular physicians, they would know that “psychosis” could occur from certain medical conditions, and then act accordingly. This DOES NOT require the need for psychiatry.

    In a JUST world, those people currently labeled as genuine dissident psychiatrists, could either choose to do therapy (and now call themselves therapists) OR choose to become neurologists, for which there is genuine science to describe certain actual brain disorders and the respective forms of legitimate treatment.

    There is NO science to justify the existence of medicalizing psychological distress and responding to these problems as if they required medical “treatment.”

    The existence of modern psychiatry has a definite role in shifting people’s attention away from the inherent systemic problems (injustice and inequality) within the class based capitalist system.

    Richard

  • Oldhead makes the following statement summing up Lee Coleman’s position:

    “I think the response — as well as the undercurrent of hostility — draws a clear line regarding what “side” LC represents.”

    This is a classic example of an ultra-left position that fails to distinguish “friends from enemies.” This is not a winning strategy to end all forms of psychiatric oppression.

    Any objective analysis of Lee Coleman’s views and social role would recognize that he is doing very important work exposing the entire oppressive paradigm of the Medical Model AND delivering serious blows to the institution of psychiatry.

    Just because he does not YET have an ‘all the way” position advocating for the abolishment of psychiatry, DOES NOT somehow put him in the camp of the enemy, as Oldhead strongly implies.

    No wonder Lee Coleman and others are turned off from dialoguing with people pushing a strong anti-psychiatry position. Ultra-left positions can be very damaging when it comes to “uniting all who can be united” against a common enemy.

    Of course there will be many important and powerful activists like Lee Coleman who still want to cling to preserving some old institutions from the old order. Call it “holding on to some remains of class privilege” or still wanting to believe their psychiatric medical credentials are worth something.

    As a firm anti-psychiatry activist, I believe that dissident psychiatrists have an important role to play working inside the “System.” Using their criticisms of the Medical Model, they can disrupt any, and all, gatherings of psychiatry everywhere on the planet. Their medical credentials will also provide them platforms to speak out on that many of us will never be invited to speak.

    Dissident psychiatrists can also use their credentials (for many decades) to promote some science regarding psych drug withdrawal and help those psychiatric survivors attempting to come off psych drugs.

    Psychiatry’s future is inseparably bound to the future of the entire capitalist/imperialist system. It is TOO VALUABLE to preserving the status quo to be allowed to go out of existence in this historical era OR be allowed to lose its executive power to incarcerate troublesome dissidents threatening the capitalist system.

    Thank you Lee Coleman for writing this blog and all that you do fighting the Medical Model.

    And I found your reference to the great revolutionary brother, George Jackson, very interesting and important to the evolution of your thinking, and also to many others who came to revolutionary consciousness during the 60’s era.

    Keep writing!

    Richard

  • Lawrence

    I believe that your blogs have made some very good exposure of the oppressive Disease/Drug Based/Medical Model.

    While it seems like you are making a major break from the practice and ideology of psychiatry in today’s world, your overall analysis is being held back from having a MUCH MORE powerful impact because you are still holding on to some deeply embedded ideological beliefs that justify and support a class based capitalist system.

    We all have much work to do to escape those indoctrinated ways of thinking that undermine our belief that those people on the bottom rungs of society can some day truly rise up and throw off ALL their chains. This includes those mental chains that inhibit us from all becoming creative agents of change, and believing that we can run society far better than those people who exploit others for their own power and gain.

    Our movement should involve not only rejecting psychiatry’s Disease Model with all their labels and drugs, but also the more modern day caste system that has us actually voting for a new person every four years to legitimize this same insanity over and over again.

    Richard

  • Yes, Dr Kelmenson has indeed accepted (hook line and sinker, as the expression goes) a very negative and one-sided view of human nature. This is a view that is very consistent with all the apologists and defenders of a class based capitalist system.

    This view states the following: that poor people and other sections of people are on the bottom rungs of society are there because they somehow lack the drive and/or the intelligence to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” to make it in this “dog eat dog world.”

    I believe it was the African revolutionary Franz Fanon who wrote about African people having a collective sense of low self-esteem and submission to their oppressors.

    BUT BUT BUT, Fanon NEVER EVER blamed the victims for their plight. He was very aware of the long history of the most extreme forms of colonial and imperialistic oppression that can literally crush the human spirit and severely limit a human being’s ability to fight back against their oppressors.

    If I am having a ONE ON ONE conversation with someone (be they a friend and/or a client in a therapy session) and I believe they have somehow incorporated, and/or bought into a victim mentality, of course, I will try to find the ways to challenge (over time) some of their beliefs and patterns of behavior that might be holding them back from making progress in life WHERE IT IS POSSIBLE.

    BUT I WILL NEVER EVER PLACE COLLECTIVE BLAME ON THE MASSES OF VICTIMS OF HIGHLY SYSTEMIC AND INSTITUTIONALIZED FORMS OF OPPRESSION. TO DO SO, IS TO DO THE DIRTY WORK OF OUR ENEMIES.

    Dr. Kelmenson if you choose to continue to promote these negative and one-sided views of human nature, why don’t you provide the scientific evidence to back up such a narrow and stigmatizing perspective.

    Richard

  • While this blog has some good exposure of psychiatry and the omnipotent growth of the Medical Model, it suffers from the following mistaken themes:

    1) It tends to glorify the myth of the American Dream, by minimizing the amount of trauma and violence that exists in America. And yes, poverty is a form of violence. It is written from the perspective of a privileged white American who fails to grasp the class and racial oppression faced by minorities and poor working class people over the past several hundred years.

    2) It ignores the fact that over the last 4 decades Big Pharma (colluding with psychiatry) engineered, by far, the single largest public relations hoax the world has ever seen. Quite literally, hundreds of billions of dollars has been spent on a very clever and effective PR campaign that continues as we speak – prescriptions for all these mind altering drugs continues to go up every year.

    3) The pharmaceutical industry has become a major cog in the U.S. capitalist economy bringing in some of the highest rates of profit of any known industry. Psychiatric drugs have been a major part of this growth, especially over the last 3 decades.

    4) Psychiatry and the Medical Model has now evolved into a major and necessary form of social control, especially for the more volatile sections of society that could pose a future rebellious risk for the U.S. empire.

    5) SSRI antidepressants are NOT placebos. Yes, they have a placebo effect on some people, but they are also mind numbing drugs that cause many other physical and psychological problems because THEY ACTUALLY PERTURB THE SERTONERGIC SYSTEM IN THE BRAIN AND BODY. This can cause numerous physical and psychological dysfunction and stressors, including major withdrawal syndromes.

    6) Most people DO NOT know that benzodiazepine drugs are addictive. They have been indoctrinated by Big Pharma and psychiatry and then misled by doctors who prescribe them inappropriately.

    7) Dr. Kelmenson continues his theme of “blame the victim” when he makes statements like “Psychiatry feeds off people surrendering their free will and abdicating their personal responsibility…” Again, this statement ignores the overall effects of the world’s largest public relations hoax in human history, and the desperate nature of people who have experienced trauma and other forms of alienation in a commodity relations (and class based) dominated world.

    Richard

  • Alex

    Nothing, and/or nobody, can transcend class based identities or ideologies until we ultimately get rid of classes from the planet. The working class (as defined by their relationship to the means of production) is the only class that has an historical mission to create the material conditions in the world where it will some day go out of existence. That is, there will be no classes anymore of any kind.

    The working class (those who hold no wealth or property of consequence) must seize power and run society for the interests of the majority. And slowly over many many generations (through education and cooperation) slowly eliminate the material basis for there to be any class distinctions in the world.

    The goal is to create a world where everyone can be both a “thinker and a doer,” and live by the principle of “from each according to his/her abilities to each according to their need.”

    Richard

  • Oldhead, you keep raising “self-determination” as a diversion to avoid dealing with the fact that you are openly opposing a broad based anti-psychiatry organization and movement that would clearly link psychiatry to a profit based capitalist system.

    You keep doing this by over emphasizing the contradictions that exist between survivors and various kinds of other people (including professionals) working inside the oppressive “mental health” system. You also negate the critical role that the family members of survivors could play in such an organization.

    You seem to want a movement that is divided up into multiple groups formed primarily by “identity” and not by class (or one’s ideological stance against psychiatry). This is NOT the approach taken by a genuine class conscious radical activist.

    Need I remind you that the leaders (and other rank and file members) of the Black Panthers became more and more Marxist towards the end of that organizations existence.

    A small number of these activists later joined multinational communist organizations, and this is clearly where some the Panthers most important leaders were headed before that organization’s destruction. It is clear that these more class conscious members of this organization were moving beyond *identity politics* in their political evolution.

    What happened to you?

  • Alex

    I fully acknowledged in my above statement that the terms “self-empowerment” and “self-determination” have both individual and collective short term historical value.

    All I am pointing out, especially to those who adhere to a class analysis of society, that we have to be moving much more in the direction of “collective empowerment” and “collective determination.” Or any other terms or terminology that describes human beings beginning to think and act in a *collective* way toward freedom and a world free of all forms of oppression.

    Richard

  • Society is most fundamentally divided into classes in this historical era. Without a class analysis (and a strategy deriving from that analysis) we will get absolutely nowhere fast.

    For society and political movements to FULLY advance beyond capitalism, we must also advance beyond terminology and labels such as “SELF-empowerment”, SELF-determination” etc.

    While these terms and their corresponding political actualization in the today’s world have some short term value, they also have limitations that will NOT get us beyond “nationalism” and “identity” politics to a unified class approach toward real revolutionary change.

  • Steve

    You said: “Antipsychiatry is rejected by most anti-capitalists; it cannot become “closely linked” to anti-capitalism.”

    That is part of the important work that Left Wing anti-psychiatry activists have in the coming period. We must make all the very real connections between psychiatry and capitalism and educate the more conscious activists.

    Since more and more people are being drugged and harm by the Medical Model, these links are not that hard to make. And when we make some headway on this, it will help energize a vital human rights struggle in it infancy.

    Richard

  • I would add these slight changes to your summation:

    Psychiatry is a subset problem of a much larger problem, that is a very oppressive capitalist system that overwhelmingly harms the vast majority of people on the planet, ALL for the benefit of a relatively tiny propertied class of power hungry exploiters. This class based profit system stands as THE major obstacle to advancing human progress on the planet.

  • Instead of trying to tell professionals what to do, why aren’t you advocating for ALL anti-psychiatry activists to unite around an advanced anti-psychiatry set of principles (including linking the Medical Model to capitalism).

    With your current approach, next you will be calling for women to have their own separate anti-psychiatry org. then Black people, then gay people etc. and the list could go on and on. This makes no sense at all coming from someone who claims to be a highly CLASS CONSCIOUS ANTI-CAPITALIST ACTIVIST.

  • In the capitalist “market place of ideas” anti-psychiatry is easily tolerated as “just another idea in the marketplace among millions of other ideas.”

    But when anti-psychiatry becomes more and more closely linked with a growing movement against capitalism, then and only then, will it get the attention it deserves. Because it will now become a threat to the very class of people that the Medical Model overall serves and protects.

  • Lee

    I appreciate very much all that you are writing about and doing to combat all forms of psychiatric oppression. Your above cited paragraphs do touch on the outskirts of the points I raised, but obviously not deep enough to suit my liking, or what I think is critically necessary for us to do in our exposure of the entire oppressive Medical Model paradigm.

    Our movement (in its infancy) is fundamentally a human rights struggle. I believe that it is now essential that all modern day human rights struggles closely link their movements to a broader movement against a profit based capitalist system.

    This does NOT mean that people must be totally convinced or united around the belief that the world needs socialism or a classless communist world (which is my firm belief). They only need to see the serious problems and connections between the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex AND the way the profit motive corrupts science, medicine, the environment etc. and everything else it touches.

    If we fail to do this (for the fear of alienating potential allies) then we will miss important opportunities to draw the increasing more obvious links between psychiatric oppression and a class based capitalist system.

    Historically, when human rights movements start off “watering down” their analysis of oppression (in order to go super broad), it almost always leads into reformism and co-optation by the “Powers That Be.”

    So I would say a slogan that was often said in the 60’s as an important strategic method: “Unite the advanced first to win over the intermediate and neutralize the backward.”

    And when you think about how volatile the world is today, we don’t have the time to wait around for people to somehow grow tired of the capitalist system. In the mean time this planet will be destroyed by either environmental destruction and/or imperialist wars, both directly tied to capitalism.

    So we must take every AND any opportunity to expose capitalism as we also expose psychiatric oppression – because , in the real world, they are truly deeply connected. We are simply telling the people the truth when we do this kind of political exposure.

    Comradely, Richard

  • Lee

    This blog provides some very insightful exposure of the entire Disease/Drug/Based Medical Model and the enormous harm it causes in the world.

    HOWEVER, it is missing one very important piece for truly understanding the dangerous role that this oppressive paradigm of “treatment” is playing in today’s world. AND also, how we might go about putting it in the “dustbin of history.”

    The blog DOES NOT explain why the current status quo (today’s profit based capitalist system) needs to have a psychiatric institution focusing people’s attention on “genetic theories of original sin” (that is, genetic or intrinsic flaws in the human species) that somehow accounts for all the social inequalities, trauma, violence, wars etc. that human beings inflict on one another.

    The big question here (the elephant in the room) is: where do all these so-called symptoms (extreme human psychological distress) that gets labeled as “mental illness” originate from? The “Powers That Be” want people looking “inward” and not at the inherent flaws in the various forms of social organization that predominate this particular historical era in the world.

    It is these systemic flaws in social and economic organization in society that creates most all the stressors, and various forms of social inequalities and violence that push the human species to various types of breaking points in psychological tolerance.

    Psychiatry (over the last 40 years) has now become a vital and necessary form of social control (and deliberate attempt to distract the masses from the actual origins of their psychological distress) for the overall preservation of this profit based capitalist system. THE FUTURE OF PSYCHIATRY HAS NOW BECOME INSEPARABLE FROM THE HISTORICAL FUTURE OF CAPITALISM ITSELF.

    And to those whose comments here are saying we need to simply explode the “myth of mental illness” and then psychiatry will disappear, are also sadly missing this key part of the analysis about the connections of modern psychiatry to the capitalist system.

    Richard