Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Comments by Richard D. Lewis

Showing 100 of 818 comments. Show all.

  • Hi Monica

    In Sept. of 2015 I resigned in protest from my job in community “mental health” after 23 years; I wrote a blog about this at MIA a year and a half ago. I still have a small private practice where I do therapy/coaching/helping or whatever makes the most sense (at this moment in time) to describe my relationship with people I work with.

    I always read and learn from your writings and in this case take the message as a very truthful and sobering assessment of the perils (for those people vulnerable enough in life to share their secrets with a stranger) inherent in my role/work as a so-called “therapist.”

    Over 10 years ago I briefly saw a therapist for a family issue (the person seemed like a very nice man) but I felt very uncomfortable with the entire process, especially with the issue of “trust.”

    There are less than a handful of therapists that I have worked with over the years that I had ANY trust in the quality of their ability to work with people in a counseling relationship.

    If anyone plans on doing this work with any level of integrity and safety for those they counsel, they need to constantly expose themselves to all types of survivor narratives and System criticism of the Medical Model that we might find at websites like MIA and Beyond Meds.

    If one is not continuously exposed to this form of education then they WILL NOT be able to help people very much, and most likely will end up harming them. AND each person doing therapeutic type work must make sure they are CONSTANTLY engaged in a form of self-interrogation regarding their own personal agenda and the actual nature of the inherent power differential in their therapeutic relationship.


  • Kurt

    Thanks for writing here at MIA and participating in a difficult discussion.

    One important thing to point out in this discussion, is that in today’s world (when looking at power relationships), Psychiatry is the only other institution in our society that has as much power as the U.S. President and the Executive Branch of government.

    After just a 5 minute discussion with a “mental health” worker or family member, a psychiatrist can completely strip away a person’s Constitutional Right to freedom with a simple signature of a pen. With this signature any person DEEMED “a threat to themselves or others” can be forcibly incarcerated and drugged (some would say “mind raped”) in a psychiatric hospital.

    There is accumulating evidence that it is these kinds of experiences of trauma (the use of ‘FORCE”) that are a major contributing factor to the rise in suicide in this country.

    Kurt, I challenge you to read and contemplate the arguments made in the blog I wrote for MIA a few years ago titled: “May the ‘Force’ NEVER EVER Be With You: The Case for Abolition.” Here is the link: https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/10/may-force-never-ever-case-abolition/

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Hi Matt

    I am still very surprised you still want to cosign MartinMc’s comment. I hope you read ALL the follow up comments beyond his original comment.

    I believe myself and a few others made a strong case that he was in essence putting forth his own version of a form of biological determinism that in the final analysis only reinforces aspects of Biological Psychiatry’s pseudo-science. This same view ultimately reinforces certain prejudices regarding common fears of the rise of the Women’s Liberation movement.

    Matt, you said: “…I did not agree with everything he said, but thought some of it was quite valuable. By assuming I agree with certain things he said (when you couldn’t know all that I actually agreed or disagreed with), you might be making a mistake.”

    I would say that in my own participation in commenting on blogs, I am VERY CAREFUL when agreeing with someone on a few points to distinguish that agreement from other parts of that person’s analysis that I find objectionable.

    The fact that you were NOT clear on exactly what you agreed with, AND DID NOT follow up your comment with any objections to other parts of his analysis, leaves you very open to fair criticism of you basically co-signing what MartinMc wrote here.

    And MartinMc was also presenting some major political themes that quite often dovetail with Right Wing Libertarianism in this country. I believe it is very important to criticize these political views because they are so utopian when it comes to understanding the true nature and role of capitalism in today’s world.


  • Thank you Steve, J, and others for your insightful critique of the shortcomings and problems with this blog.

    Kurt Michael, you said: ” Some teens have even accused my clinicians (many in their early 20’s) as being out of touch with teen culture, saying that as adults, we “don’t get it.” In fact, as an exemplar of a literal “piling on” to this so-called generation gap, my 24-year-old clinician was told that “24 is the new 40!”

    Have you ever considered the possibility that the huge “gap” that some of the teens are describing about your clinicians may have absolutely NOTHING to do with age. It may instead have EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE TYPE AND CONTENT OF THE EDUCATION THAT CURRENT STUDENTS ARE RECEIVING BEFORE THEY ENTER TODAY’S “MENTAL HEALTH” FIELD.

    Over the past 4 decades there has been a complete “take over” (in both education and practice) by the Biological Psychiatry “Disease”/Drug based Medical Model of so-called “treatment. The collusion, at the highest levels, between Big Pharma, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and the leaders of academia, has led to a consolidated shift in the way psychological duress is understood in today’s world AND how caregivers are taught AND directed to provide support and care.

    Today’s students are thoroughly indoctrinated in a pseudo-scientific paradigm dictated by the outlook and practice of Biological Psychiatry, where the essential content is nothing more than a series of “genetic theories of original sin.”

    Students are directed AWAY from looking at what is wrong in our surrounding environment, and forced to focus on defective genes, brain “diseases,” and the “magic bullets” of mind altering psychiatric drugs that are alleged to correct mythical “chemical imbalances” in the brain.

    Even in those educational programs where students MIGHT be exposed to alternatives approaches (other then the dominant Medical Model) we cannot underestimate the overwhelming influence that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent by Big Pharma and the APA in its massive PR campaign over the past 4 decades, has had on influencing the thinking of the American public.

    It is NOT A MYSTERY why young caregivers actively working in today’s “mental health” system are completely unable to effectively reach out and connect to teenagers who are only a few years different in age.

    Suicide is NOT a mystery, nor are the solutions to this crisis that difficult to understand. There must be major Revolutionary type institutional changes at all levels in our society. But the first thing that needs to happen is that We ALL need our brains “washed” thoroughly from the harmful AND deadly way of thinking and “treating” people promoted by Biological Psychiatry.


  • Jill

    You said: “Addictive drugs capture the individual’s motivation system such that the behavior is compelled. The affective consequences of consuming the chemical are irrelevant. It’s not about seeking pleasure or seeking relief, its about having no choice.”

    This above statement is one sided and leads to an unscientific understanding of addiction that actually reinforces Biological Psychiatry’s and the medical establishment’s “disease” propaganda regarding the nature of addiction.

    In fact, it is this view which uses words like “capture” or “hijacking” the brain as one of the main arguments of those “mental health” opinion leaders who push the whole concept of addiction as a disease. They consistently call addiction a genetic based, chronic, and progressive brain “disease” which requires “treatment” and quite often, replacement drugs and/or psychiatric drugs to manage for one’s lifetime.

    Yes, on going heavy use of certain drugs can impair and diminish (while using) the frontal lobes and more rational thinking parts of the brain that clearly impair judgement. “Capture” and/or “hijack” are misleading concepts that are refuted by literally millions of examples of human experience where people have broken major addictions (most often) with no formal “treatment” of any kind.

    BTW, I’m not using AA or NA as the example for those people recovering without “treatment.” For the actual record of success for the 12 Step groups is quite low (about 10%) according to the Cochran Institute.

    The whole famous rat experiment cited above refutes your concept of “capture” mentioned above and its applied misleading beliefs in the direction of “disease” thinking. It also cuts against the whole concept of neuroplasticity which is one explanation for why people can recover from major addictions.

    Jill, I suggest you read Dr Carl Hart, neuroscientist, and Dr. Lance Dodes (The Sober Truth) to get a better scientific perspective on these issues so you are not unknowingly promoting “disease” based thinking and faulty science.


  • MartinMc

    Your above analysis represents a clear example of putting BIOLOGY above the more dominant and principle influences of ENVIRONMENT as the determining factor when examining the evolution (with some periods of rapid revolutionary change) of human culture and human nature. You are making a different version of the very same errors as Biological Psychiatry.

    You have taken a “brief” snapshot of some of the more common ways men and women behave in today’s world in this historical era (or projected your own narrow personal experiences growing up) and, in an unscientific and mechanical way, projected that onto a very static and limited view of human nature. In the final analysis, this view only serves to reinforce the status quo and some of the worst stereotypes regarding what constitutes sexual identity and the social roles of men and women in our society.

    THE MOST IMPORTANT AND DOMINANT FACTOR in how human beings socially interact with one another within society is rooted in the fundamental way in which the necessities of life are produced, the ownership of those means of production, and the type of political organization that is developed to oversee production and manage social life within the broader society.

    Both human culture and its closely related construct called human nature are quite malleable when looking at the history of the human species.

    While one can’t discount that there are some biological (especially the levels of certain hormones) differences between men and women, these differences are not only secondary to the influences of the culture and society surrounding them, but that very culture itself can have a direct impact on a person’s biology, including levels of hormones etc. depending on what is happening in that environment.

    In today’s world most human beings live in large social groupings, including large urban centers. Production of the necessities of life on also done socially, most often in larger group settings called factories. So we live together socially and produce socially BUT the very means of production built and operated by a working class is OWNED and CONTROLLED by a SMALL CLASS of capitalists.

    In order to survive, those in the working class must SELL THEIR LABOR POWER to the highest bidding capitalist. This my friend is just a higher form of slavery – called WAGE SLAVERY.

    This same class dominates and controls the entire political system and we are duped into thinking we live in a democracy.

    It is this societal framework in which the social roles and so-called differences in human nature between men and women are fostered and developed. The role of women, as oppressed second class citizens, within this framework has been necessary and vital to the ruling classes to maintain their power and control throughout society, despite some limited changes in First World countries.

    MartinMc, you can put Maggie Thatcher or Hillary Rodham Clinton in major positions of power in a capitalist dominated political system and they will act (and have already acted) just like the men who preceded them. The internal logic of *capital* is to “expand or die.” In the final analysis they will end up doing things within a general framework of expanding and protecting the Imperialist empire. The fact that they have given birth to children or have higher levels of estrogen in their bodies will mean virtually NOTHING when it comes to their political decisions and actions as a government leader.


  • MartinMc

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I want to be clear that I am not somehow labeling you as a bigot or a Right Wing fascist sympathizer.

    HOWEVER, your current analysis and previous comment was “cloaking” (and maybe you are not even aware of it) a very dangerous set of ideas that, in fact, mirrors in similar ways some of the main themes of the Right Wing Libertarians in this country.

    The fact that you have such a blase view of Trump also scares me, and tells me volumes about your political instincts AT THIS TIME. There are many people with far less knowledge and political sophistication as you that have an appropriately visceral negative reaction to Trump, especially women and minorities. And your above comment shows a complete failure to grasp the more subtle (and sophisticated) forms of sexism and racism in today’s academic world.

    So, no MartinMc, I am NOT somehow putting you in the camp of the people I would describe as the ENEMY. However, that being said, the views you are currently professing, if taken to their furthest extension, do end up in some scary places.

    My pointed use of sarcasm in my above comment is mainly to alert you and other readers the very dangerous extension of these set of ideas.

    MartinMc. you said: ” I wouldn’t say I am anti-capitalist as I believe that giving people the opportunity to bargain between themselves about what they are willing to offer each other for their efforts or products while having a limited governmental or judicial process to go to if an agreed deal or contract has not been fulfilled is an essential component as I don’t just trust the market enough to correct itself.”

    As to your description of modern day Capitalism, I don’t think I’ve read a more “benign” sounding description of today’s system of wage slavery that, not only fosters and maintains class oppression in this country, BUT operates the most DESTRUCTIVE form of Imperialist domination throughout the Globe.

    Don’t forget that the U.S. only makes up slightly less than 5% of the world’s population, yet it sucks up and controls vast percentages of the worlds natural resources AND holds a vast number of countries in a constant state of economic and political backwardness to serve its Imperialist needs and agenda. Do I need to bring up Imperialist wars, for one example, to make this point?

    AND look what havoc, crimes, and distortions the capitalist profit motive has wreaked on today’s system of medicine, the”mental health” empire, and its huge barriers to fostering legitimate independent science.

    As to your positive references to Carl Jung and his use of maternal and patriarchal archetypes, don’t forget that Jung had sexual relationships with several of his “patients.” What does that say about his judgement and views toward women?

    MartinMc, I still maintain that I want to be a “million miles” from several of the views you profess here, because all my political experience and understanding of history tells me EXACTLY where this type of viewpoint is headed.

    MartinMc, you said: “… your reply has given me a chance to try to prove to you that you do not need to stay away from my analyses and that I’m not as nasty and sneakily cunning as you seem to perceive me to be.”

    First off, I never used words such as “nasty” or “sneaky,” those are your words. And further, it is very unfortunate that you are seemingly NOT currently open to changing your thinking on these critical issues. What this comment tells me is that you currently have NO INTENTION of reevaluating your above comments or learning from my criticisms and analysis here, BUT you ONLY want to defend and restate and/or double down on these backward headed viewpoints.

    MartinMc, I hope you, and others who may hold similar views here at MIA, will seriously reevaluate where these ideas will take you and our entire society, if taken to their final extension.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • MartinMc and Matt

    Neither one of you did much with these comments to advance ANY confidence from MIA readers in your ability to advance the causes of social justice beyond perhaps a partial critique of what is wrong with today’s “mental health” system.

    First off, let me be clear where I am coming from, so there will be no attempts by MartinMc to smear me with some kind of liberal democratic brush.

    I am anti-capitalist and condemn both the Democratic and the Republican Party as being tools and instruments of the 1% constituting a ruling class that is an impediment to future of human progress on this planet. They have always been, and will continue to be, totally unable and unwilling to provide any thorough going advance of any forms of social justice for people in this country, and most definitely for people around the world, as they control the number one Imperialist power dominating the world stage.

    My views on MIA policy have been well stated several times in this blog and I will not repeat them again here.

    MartinMC’s critique of MIA staff members and the supposed source of their political decisions about blog policy is shear nonsense cloaked in a sophisticated attack on women’s liberation and other related struggles for social justice in the world.

    MartinMc’s says: “I believe that matriarchal control is beginning to become more prominent in Western societies…”

    Oh, so I guess you believe the struggle for women’s liberation may have gone a bit to far for your liking. And in particular, perhaps the role of women in leadership positions at MIA is the cause of the so-called stifling of the *freedom of speech* of mainly male bloggers in the comment section.

    MartinMC should I anticipate that you believe that perhaps the struggle against racism in America may have also gone too far for your liking, with their being perhaps too many minorities promoted into positions of power in this country. And therefore this has now become the source of some kind of “racist” backlash now oppressing white people.

    Have you somehow forgotten that the political system in this country just took a MAJOR leap in the direction of Fascism with the election of Trump. That every single struggle for human rights, from women’s control of their bodies, gay rights, advances against racial oppression, the struggle against psychiatric oppression, protection of the climate etc. are in serious jeopardy of being set back or wiped out completely.

    MartinMC you allegedly speak out strongly for *free speech* but what direction is the “freedom” moving in regards to the struggles for human rights that I mentioned above. AND please tell us exactly what is YOUR agenda on these vital struggles that you cloaked in a sophisticated rant against MIA moderating policy.

    MartinMC you said: “…where it highlights how Democrats are far more likely to be diagnosed with a ‘mental health condition’ than Republicans so while I know that there may be other better explanations from this I would guess that psychiatry, its affiliates and the pharmaceutical industry would only be delighted if more people became or voted Democrats…”

    Now MartinMC, in this comment you have totally exposed and embarrassed yourself, and once again revealed a not so hidden form and agenda of bias and discrimination against oppressed people in this society. Apparently you believe that people who get diagnosed with “mental illnesses” in this country are the same “numskulls” that fall for the liberal Democratic and/or other types of a Left political agendas.

    As has been proven here at MIA by its publication of legitimate science and correct (is it safe for me to use this word?) political analysis, poor people subjected to all aspects of poverty, racial minorities, women, gay people, transgender people etc. are ALL more likely to be diagnosed with a so-called “mental illness” and drugged in this country.

    The fact that more people from these particular groups vote Democratic proves nothing in this context except that, as expected, – environment trumps biology when it comes to understanding the kinds of social stressors that push human beings beyond their ability to cope. The fact that less Republicans get diagnosed has more to do with their *class* position in society than any other factor you are trying to imply here.

    So MartinMC, if you were trying to offer a well thought out political analysis for why the MIA moderating policy is wrong, you failed miserably. And as much as I agree with some of your initial concerns about the closing down of the comment section of some blogs, I DO NOT want to be within a million miles of the rest of your political analysis.

    And Matt, you have just embarrassed yourself as well, by saying: “The comments here from Martin are excellent.”

    Do you really want to cosign MartinMc’s above comment?


  • Emmeline

    Have you considered this. In the future, this policy may force people like myself to just go ahead and write an entire blog that is a devastating critique (within the appropriate standards of writing) of the prior (silent) author, as a follow up to a particular blog.

    I bet you might see that author suddenly appear in your comment section when her/his viewpoint/positions are totally deconstructed by other commenters and the new author, her/himself.

    As you know, I eventually did this once at your suggestion to deescalate a particularly hot comment section. Although the blog came out several months later and was also very hot in the comment section, the final result (after my actual testimony for the MA benzo bill) was a very rewarding reconciliation among almost everyone involved.


  • Uprising

    I see no evidence that there is a lack of bloggers trying to be published at MIA. The blogs keep coming and coming, and many from first time writers. And sometimes I even lament that fact when my blogs so quickly get pushed down to the bottom of the front page and then off the screen.

    Let’s hope that MIA becomes so popular (with tons of good blogs submitted) and widely read that MIA staff can set the terms more decisively about required participation.


  • Emmeline

    Thanks for that response.

    That still doesn’t answer the point about what efforts will MIA make (in delineating a preferred policy based on its overall mission etc.) in attempting to persuade all bloggers about the value AND importance of participating in discussions to enhance the search for the truth and the ultimate goal of social justice.


  • Philip

    Your posts are SO devilishly deconstructing of Biological Psychiatry in the most scientific and sarcastic way that it simply gives me such great joy to read them, and I laugh out loud all the way through most blogs.

    This is simply one of your very best, but, of course, I have said that to myself before. You are a vitally important treasure to the anti-Psychiatry movement that sparkles beyond the brilliance of true gold. Keep on keeping on!!!


  • Bob

    Thanks for this response to such an important and intense process that is occurring within this vital social justice resource that you were so instrumental in creating.

    I still strongly advocate for a policy that ALL people who blog here should be required to participate in some way or level in the discussion that follows their publication. Even if that participation (because of time constraints and other responsibilities) can only be one summarized response at the end of the discussion addressing some of the main themes etc.

    Don’t forget that all the authors publishing blogs here at MIA are getting the ENORMOUS PRIVILEGE to promote their ideas, their reputation, their books, and even their BRAND, if you will (some make a living off of their writings and business endeavors related to their writing interests), to a broad internet audience. MIA has grown in readership significantly over the last few years, so this is no small opportunity and privilege that authors are given.

    The least they (the authors) can do is make an effort to provide some give and take with the readership base of this blog. And Bob, I hope you are hearing how vitally important these comment sections have been, especially to survivors who read at MIA on a regular basis. Some people have stated that they learn more from the discussions than the actual blogs themselves.

    IF IF IF you decide to allow some authors to close discussions (and I hope you don’t), then I would hope you make sure you impress upon ALL authors that you would STRONGLY PREFER that they engage with the readership, and NOT allow these closed blogs to become even close to a “norm” at MIA.

    Recently, the two nutrition writers who promote their books and “brand” at MIA closed off such a discussion after a few people raised some legitimate questions. These questions were not raised (in my opinion) in any kind of a hostile way, but they were “pointed” probings of exactly what was being promoted in the writings. I felt this may have fueled the beginnings of a bad precedent or direction here at MIA.

    Is it not also the role of MIA moderators to “soothe” the egos of some authors and help clarify what readers are REALLY asking of the authors? So that they can see that they are not being “attacked” by these questions, and that further dialogue and clarification would only enhance our efforts to arrive at the truth of the matter being discussed, and actually advance EVERYONE’S goal of improving scholarship and knowledge.

    More food for thought – ONWARD!

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Brett

    Thanks for that thoughtful and personal response.

    I still believe that MIA must retain and nurture its solid survivor base with all its edginess and yes, anger at times, in order to continue its mission. In fact, I would say that in many ways this “voice of survivor” edginess actually attracts many professionals to come here and explore in a deep going way the actual effects that this system, and those of us that work in it, are having on the very people we are suppose to be serving.

    Some professional people may be hesitant to write or comment here, but I believe they DO VERY MUCH want to know what is truly on the minds and in the hearts of those they profess to serve. AND I believe those same professional people want very much to be accepted into this community by the most ardent and critical survivor activists.

    This whole process may take some time because the overwhelming majority of professionals do not yet truly understand the inherent nature of the power differential in their relationship with their client/patient relationship, or understand the terrible harm perpetrated by this System.

    Brett, I remember a previous period a few years ago when you stepped back form participating at MIA for the very same reasons. BUT you came back again to try and fit in and actively participate. I am confident that your heart is in the right place and you will, indeed, be back with us in due time for another try. Next time, don’t wait so long OR reconsider now, and push on through all your reservations and fears.

    There are many people here who want you to be participating in this community and witness the changes that you (and all of us) will go through in the coming period of intense struggle against the EVIL EMPIRE (I do not use this term lightly) of psychiatric oppression.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Oldhead

    Who says he has to share my “goal of bringing down the system.” You are being just as subjective in your own impatience with this f#$king System as he is, only in a different and more “ultra left” way.

    Did you read Brett’s comment above? Did you you not pick up on his frustration trying to make change against all these overwhelming powerful forces out there? Did you you not pick up on his personal admission that he has difficulty with contentious discussions? We both have no idea of what personal experiences Brett has endured in his life that might make him more sensitive to this sort of dialogue.

    Sometimes it’s hard for me and many others that participate here to deal with certain comments and difficult exchanges. Some are more seasoned and experienced than others. I believe it is his frustration with the System and his personal difficulty with certain exchanges that led Brett to make what both you and I believe are bad proposals for how MIA’s blog dialogue should be operated. This does not make him some “enemy” that deliberately wants to take down MIA and destroy its vital core.

    MIA does NOT have a revolutionary agenda, nor should we expect it to have one. It is a “community” of people seeking the truth about what is going on with this oppressive (my description) “mental health” system and seeking solutions for those harmed by it.

    Oldhead, if you are really interested in changing this f#$king System you’re going to have to figure out how to communicate with people like Brett and James (the author of this blog) and others not at your level of critique or political experience, or you’ll end up in some corner somewhere hurling insults at people, and not advancing this cause much.

    Sometimes you act like you can’t discern the difference between your enemies and your potential friends in the Long March we are on in this movement. I stand with you in your overall anti-Psychiatry critique, but some of your methods of struggle need some adjustment, Comrade.

    I disagree with Brett on a few important issues, BUT he is still on OUR side of the barricades and we must work toward “uniting all who can be united” in this struggle to build a broad based movement. Oldhead, why aren’t you attempting to win over Brett to your perspective instead of assuming that he will hold onto, forever, what it is you think he needs to change???

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Brett

    Your record proves you have made great efforts to advance a more radical critique of Biological Psychiatry. I have read some of your articles in the past and found them to be skillfully written with important exposure of the entire “mental health” system. You have also made some very valuable contributions to some of the addiction discussions that have followed some of my blogs critiquing the “Disease” Model of addiction. You ARE a part of the MIA community and you BELONG here and I hope you decide to remain here.

    That being said, it does not mean that you and I (and the rest of this community) share EXACTLY the same assessment of the current objective reality facing us, necessarily agree on the best strategy to advance this cause, or share exactly the same ultimate goals of this movement. AND we don’t need to ALL be in exact agreement on these things to all work toward advancing this cause. NOR should we expect to ALL be on exactly the same page at this time.

    Your above comment actually reveals a great deal of the frustration and yes, anger, we all feel about why our movement against Biological Psychiatry is not at a more advanced stage. We have THE SCIENCE to refute them, a significant number of articulate and outspoken survivors, and a solid number of credentialed doctors, scientists, and other professionals, YET the “Cabaret” still goes on seemingly unabated. In fact, if anything, it is more accurate to say that their oppressive System is stronger than ever, and still getting stronger every day. How do we explain this?!

    You said in the above comment:
    “I do not know if the culture here is a barrier to more professionals engaging with MIA, but I think it is possible…. But I also think there are lots of other people like me, who support MIA’s mission but who are hesitant to engage with this community because of its culture. And also, perhaps, because they are more interested in discussing certain issues with their peers than with a general audience.”

    Brett, you are a firm believer in science and the scientific method. You, indeed, practice it in both your writings and in your professional work. Yet, in the above statement you used the phrases “I do not know,” once and “I think,” twice, and the phrase “perhaps because” once. And then you followed those phrases with a predetermined (possibly subjective) conclusion as to why MIA and our movement is not growing faster. And that conclusion was your proposed belief that it must be all the edgy and sometimes combative discourse that takes place in discussions that follow MIA blogs.

    Respectfully, Brett, you have seriously veered away from the scientific method here and perhaps imposed a conclusion (out of our universal feelings of frustration and anger with this f@#king System) that flows more from your own subjective discomfort with contentious debate, and yes, sometimes dialogue that comes across as personal and cutting. While I have somewhat steeled myself against over reacting to this, I can’t tell you how much sleep I’ve lost and emotional stress I’ve experienced when my blogs are up and the debate and discussion gets pretty hot.

    I’m not a survivor, so my words are especially scrutinized by many readers here. But I’m OK with that, because we have to endure these pressures if we truly want to change the world. And I also know many therapists who do harmful things in their work.

    The same sort of contradictions are present when white people are involved in Black Lives Matter or men are involved in struggles against women’s oppression. This System has placed enormous barriers of racism, sexism, classism and the endless other divisions created by this System, including between psych survivors and professionals working in an oppressive “mental health” system. We all have to work through this, and yes, suffer with some angst and anxiety when people disagree with us etc.

    I believe the future success of MIA and its mission must involve a foundation (including a growing number of developing leaders) of outspoken, and YES, edgy, articulate, and sometimes openly angry victims/survivors who educate us professionals about the true underbelly of this oppressive System. Those same survivors also need to be open to learning a few things from the scientists, professionals, and other intellectuals who have the skills to use science against our enemies who operate this gulag.

    MIA would not even exist without the original core of survivors who were the impetus and inspiration for this entire project, and have been the heart and soul of Robert Whitaker’s books. The future of this endeavor must, and will, involve a growing core of activist survivors, or it will fail and fade into obscurity.

    I believe the MAIN reason why it has been SO difficult to grow our movement is because we have underestimated exactly what we are up against. Biological Psychiatry, in collusion with Big Pharma, has literally spent several hundred BILLION dollars over the past 4 decades on the biggest PR campaign in history to perpetrate some of the most deadly myths in human history. This mythology is deeply imbedded throughout the entire population, both among those who are highly educated and those who are functionally illiterate.

    Let’s be clear, we are up against an empire here and Trump’s new appointee for “mental health” has already declared her desire to INCREASE the power of BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY in the coming period.

    Brett, don’t let these frustrations get the best of you and/or let the System turn us all inward fighting among ourselves, resorting to subjective type conclusions for why our movement is not growing more at this time. Try to remain as scientific in your personal efforts to dialogue at MIA as you are in your professional life.

    Let’s all take a deep breath, and then dig back into all the rich discussions here at MIA and struggle (including within ourselves) with searching for a deeper understanding of the truth and finding the ways to ultimately bring down this Beast of a f$%king System. Carry on.


  • Sonja

    Great blog – and such a powerful story told with such deep insight based on “lived experience” with these dangerous and grossly over prescribed drugs.

    I had heard bits and pieces of your story in our prior conversations but had no concept of the depth of the living hell you experienced. You are one brave and resilient woman who is engaged in a very important battle against Big Pharma and Biological Psychiatry.

    Keep us posted on the the progress of this legislative effort; for I want to help in any way I can.

    Comradely, Richard

  • To Brett, James, Emmeline and ALL

    I just completed a very brief look at the list of all the authors/bloggers here at Mad in America. I attempted to assess the number of professionals who have written several blogs AND actively participate in discussions.

    I believe that Brett, James, and some others here may be exaggerating or over estimating the nature of the problem where professionals working in the System are somehow “victimized” by excessive criticism or some type of perceived personal attacks, and thus, discouraged from further participation here. AND that somehow this requires a qualitative change in MIA policy leading to the closing down of some discussions under written blogs. Or the suggestion that there should somehow be a SEPARATE site for ONLY professionals to dialogue.

    Here is a partial (unscientific list) of professionals who write at MIA on several occasions who do JUST FINE with the comment section. It does not mean that some of their views are not criticized or challenged, but they handle this process quite well, knowing when to respond to certain negative critiques and also knowing how to shy away from dialogue that has reached an impasse: (and BTW, this is a list of professionals for whom I believe have not had any “lived experience” as a survivor, but of course, living in this world today does subject us all to multiple forms of trauma on many different levels, including those stories told to professionals by “clients”, “patients,” etc.)

    Carina Hakanson, PhD – Bonnie Burstow, PhD – Bruce Levine PhD – Kjetil Mellingen PhD -Peter Gotzche, MD – Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson – Jay Joseph, Psy.D – Johanna Ryan – Michael w. Corrigan, Ed.D – Philip Hickey, PhD – Richarad D. Lewis M.Ed., LMHC – Robert Berezin, MD – Sandra Steingard MD – Stuart Shipko, MD

    This list does NOT include professionals who also have “lived experience” which is a whole separate discussion in many ways. And I did not include some writers at MIA who write very few blogs or I am unaware of their personal history with the System.

    The few writers here at MIA who are having the most difficulty with this process should not “project” their personal assessment onto other professionals writing here by exaggerating the nature of this problem in such a way as to pressure MIA into making significant editorial changes.

    And as a last point, I would suggest that some of the professional bloggers who are having the most problems with this process go back and read the many blogs and comment sections of Dr. Sanda Steingard over the past several years.

    If you do, you will get first class lesson in how to stand your ground in the face of very harsh and emotional criticism, yet honor and respect, and YES attempt to understand where the writer is coming from in their traumatic experiences within the System. And she very astutely knows when certain dialogue has reached an impasse and, she artfully moves away from such exchanges before allowing such dissonance to devolve into harmful forms of communication. This does always make people happy when this cutoff happens, but it is a testament to her compassion and personal incite as a human being in a very controversial profession as a psychiatrist. It is also why she is highly respected by her patients, other critics of the current “mental health” system, and also respected by those who even believe that Psychiatry should ultimately be abolished as a medical specialty.


  • Brett

    As a professional AND an anti-Psychiatry activist who is determined to be a part of a movement WITH psychiatric survivors to end ALL forms of psychiatric abuse, your suggestions here, if implemented, would be a serious step backward for this entire movement.

    And this perspective, if widely adopted, would only further polarize and exacerbate already existing contradictions among survivors and people working in the system. And don’t forget there are a number of survivors out there also now working inside the system. How would you classify them in this whole dynamic?

    You said: “I suspect there are many people in my profession who would welcome a MIA-style resource for news, blogs, and discussion about issues related to MIA’s mission, where they could discuss and debate important issues among fellow professionals who generally share their values without having to spend their time arguing with those who want to abolish all mental health professions, regard science as worthless, and so on.”

    Your comment about having to waste time “…arguing with those [survivors] who want to abolish all mental health professions, regard science as worthless, and so on…” is a gross exaggeration of how these views get expressed here. A very tiny minority here at MIA express views that “all mental health” professionals should be abolished.” (BTW don’t you indeed desire a world where therapists and other “mental health” professionals are no longer necessary?) And the vast majority (I would guess 90% or more) express deep appreciation and value for ALL the science that refutes the oppressive paradigm promoted by Biological Psychiatry.

    You said: “I hope that someday the culture here will allow me to confidently recommend that kindred spirits in my profession become actively involved. MIA has a long way to go before that can happen.”

    Brett, there are many professionals who blog and comment here who do just fine. Please don’t project your current dissonance onto other professionals participating here, and then make a principle about dividing people off from one another. If you’ve read some of my blogs and commentary in discussions on benzos you will see that I’ve encountered some serious turbulence at times. But I have learned a great deal by persevering with an open mind through these difficult and turbulent waters. And I believe some survivors have learned from me in the course of these debates and discussions.

    Yes, MIA has a long way to go, as WE all do, INCLUDING YOU, before we can end psychiatric oppression.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Emmeline

    You said:”I hear you on professionals not always being willing to make the effort to see things from the perspective of people with lived experience. But the reverse is also true — people making no attempt to see the good in what a professional is doing, instead bending over backwards to find fault and assume the worst, sometimes missing the point of a blog entirely or reacting to things the writer didn’t even say.”

    I would say in this situation the onus/responsibility is mainly on the professional to step back and not overreact, or take things in a personal way and respond on that basis. This is true even when we are, in fact, personally attacked by a commenter and/or survivor.

    I am not suggesting this is easy to do, nor am I suggesting that this comment section should be allowed to become a free for all battle of competing comments without any rules of decorum.

    As a professional, we should assume form the git go that many people have been harmed by this oppressive “mental health” system and that many therapists have engaged in the negative aspects of the inherent power differential (therapist/client relationship) and taken in some of the worst influences of the Biological Psychiatry paradigm – labeling, “disease/drug based model etc.

    I read MIA carefully for 6 months before I dared to comment and/or write blogs here. Some might say I shouldn’t had to do such intense preparation before participating. But others might say it was a smart and necessary process of preparation.

    I guess you might be critical of how I participated in this particular discussion. I believe I have given the author credit for the important points he has raised, but also tried to understand where all the objections and criticisms have come from as well.

    Emmeline, if you are critical of my participation in this comment section I hope you find a way to engage me on where you believe I was off the mark. And that does not mean it needs to happen now in the comment section.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Stephen

    Interesting comment. And I find as I get older (69 an 1/2) and closer to the end of my life, the less willing I can tolerate oppression or ideas that in some way may unknowingly reinforce oppression. And also the older I get the bolder I become in strongly putting out my views and not fearing the response and/or sugar coating my views to avoid upsetting people.

    I still realize I must be careful and respectful how I go about this, but there definitely are changes in how we dialogue on controversial issues as we get older. At least that is true for me, especially over the past two years.


  • James

    I actually agree with the essential point you have made (in the above blog) about the importance of searching for (and helping others search for ) a true understanding of reality as it truly exists in the the objective world – independent of any one persons subjective interpretation of that reality. Not being in touch with this objective reality can be a serious problem for individual members of society and our society as a whole.

    Where I think people picked up on some issues with your blog is on the question of how do we go about living with (and working with) people who have a different or distorted view of that reality. I think this is where some people may have picked up on some rigidity or paternalism etc.

    I saw this blog as an opportunity to go back into some of your inconsistent moral and scientific beliefs (as expressed in prior blogs where you defended Catholic doctrine on very controversial issues) which are quite contradictory at times. Since you very often insist on the importance of science and acknowledging the true nature of objective reality (as in this blog) I am totally confounded by your moral and political inconsistencies.

    And James since you are such a gifted writer and seeker of the truth, I believe you underestimate the impact of your words and moral stances in other contexts, especially when it comes to defending Catholic doctrine and how that might influence other Catholics or would be Catholics.

    You said in your earlier comment that you advocate for reform in the Catholic church, yet some of your writings in Catholic publications such as here (http://www.aleteia.org/en/scienvironment/article/10-ways-that-science-is-proving-the-church-is-right-and-the-cultures-wrong-5881921179484160) were using a very limited version of scientific understanding to justify a very backward and harmful social agenda.

    If you were really advocating for reform in the Catholic church why would you not use the same standard and method that allows you to criticize Biological Psychiatry and their whole System (in such a deep going way) but yet not take those same types of risks in challenging the Catholic hierarchy and their harmful doctrine when it comes to women and gay people etc.?

    You could potentially be a powerful force for change within this institution (Catholic church) yet you seem to spend more energy convincing others (with extreme forms of mental gymnastics) to go along with and accept this doctrine. I am totally perplexed and confounded by this moral inconsistency, especially since I do respect many of your other writings.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • James

    I find it necessary to repeat something I’ve said to you in prior discussions over the years: I respect your writing here at MIA. You have published many excellent blogs and critiques of what is wrong with Biological Psychiatry and their whole “mental health” system. I have learned from your writings and hope you publish more in the future. At the same time there are some issues we have major differences on when it comes to inconsistency in moral beliefs, political agendas, and religious doctrine.

    Somewhere in the comment section under your prior blog a few years ago titled “Addressing the Mental Health Crisis: What Really Matters,” you made the following statement: “”But the ONLY thing I care about is understanding what truly is, no matter how inconvenient, unpopular, antiquated, or mundane they appear. Period.”

    James, I want to hold you to this comment. I hope this statement would also apply to any and all critical appraisals of your words and written blogs, even when the first tendency (that all of us tend to have) when we are criticized; that is to be defensive and sometimes deflect the discussion to other issues.

    In this case you are now bringing up the fact that some people writing here at MIA cannot always handle heated debate of their ideas (and are thinking about not writing anymore blogs here), including those times when people may express their angst against professionals (and their being part of the System) and the Catholic religion etc. And yes, at times that includes dialogue that crosses the line into angry outbursts and what may appear to be personal attacks.

    I would say that if we truly are interested in learning from this process (that includes all of us who author blogs here and believe we have something to teach others) then we must be able to weather the many different forms of debate and political struggle that occurs at MIA. Despite a minority of examples where these discussions digress into bad forms of communications, OVERALL there is very positive dialogue going on here at MIA, and there are enormous opportunities to learn about the world and ourselves.

    James, why not step back for a moment and consider that some people have picked up on a particular tone or rigidity in how you presented your ideas here. You just might learn something if you can get beyond the defensiveness and search for the underlying meaning of what people are saying. This includes even those times when they might not be expressed in the best way.

    I am the one who brought up the Catholic issue and I will explain in a subsequent comment why I chose to bring that into this particular discussion.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • This article has many good aspects to it in regards to bringing forward the role of trauma in addictions. Unfortunately it still promotes the disease concept of addiction and has not escaped the influences of Biological Psychiatry.

    The following quote reveals how it promotes the same old “disease” based thinking:

    “So, how long does it take before they’re cured? “How long should you take insulin if you have diabetes?” responds Sumrok, making the point that this is a chronic disease, that people should be in treatment for as long as it is necessary, and that some may relapse.”

    And at the end of the article it promotes the new female president elect of the American Psychiatric Association; as if putting a woman in this position is somehow going to change the reactionary and harmful nature of this organization.


  • I would say that even the term “consensus reality” has some problems when you examine history. What was the “consensus reality” regarding Black people in this country during the period of slavery and after (even to a lesser degree today)? The “consensus” among the vast majority of people would have contained the most blatant forms of racist prejudice, including all forms of racial inferiority and stereotypes.

    And what was the “consensus reality” in Nazi Germany in regards to the Jews, gay people, communists, and those labeled “mentally ill?”

    There is “consensus reality” and then there is the actual true reality independent of any one particular human being attempting to comprehend and understand it. Some people may have a closer approximation of exactly what that reality is at any given time.

    Yes, it is important for all of us to seek out and attempt to understand “reality” as it truly exists at the moment and within our surrounding world. And not knowing this reality, or somehow having a distorted perception of it can cause problems for any given individual and the society at large.

    So the author of this blog does have an important point he is making. But based on his prior blogs and his vehemently uncritical and total acceptance of Catholic doctrine, he leaves himself open to enormous contradictions and hypocrisy in his thinking and overall ethical approach to morality.

    In prior blogs he has strongly defended the Catholic church in its stand against gay people and homosexuality. This stance by has (in reality, “consensus” and otherwise) caused enormous harm and death (through murder and suicide) to perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. And given the Aids crisis in Africa, the Catholic church’s position on birth control has also directly led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings. These are irrefutable facts by any standard measure of reality.

    While this author has written some good blogs and is willing to question today’s “mental health” system, his critical thinking skills seem to reach a sudden halt when it comes to evaluating the true role of organized religion in the world.


  • For Biological Psychiatry this “Choosing Wisely” campaign is nothing more than a lot of ass covering and a “pretend” form of “Informed Consent.” Prescriptions of all their toxic substances (psych drugs) only keep going up every year.

    Given how pervasive and powerful Psychiatry is as an institution of social control, all this will not change unless and until, Psychiatry is ultimately abolished as a legitimate form of medicine. And that cannot happen unless and until, there are revolutionary changes in our economic and political System.


  • Oldhead

    You said:”Dialectical materialism works fine within the sphere of political struggle, which is part of the highly material focus we currently share. But there is ample scientific consensus that the very existence of material substance, along with the perceived limitations of time and space, are essentially illusions, or limitations of our senses.”

    I am surprised that you would promote this form of “relativism”, that is, a kind of approach that says, “well we can’t really know all these things for SURE when it comes to spiritualism and materialist philosophy etc. and the political reality that flows from all these real life problems we all face.”

    Don’t you you see how this conveniently fits into this giant hodge podge of beliefs in the so-called “market place of ideas,” where nothing is really knowable, so we can’t really be sure of anything etc. or take direct political action in the real world because “who the f#%k really knows what is true” etc.

    This fits very well into people just living their life as individuals and “doing their own thing” because “reality is only in your own mind” etc.

    This kind of “relativism” is VERY USEFUL to the ruling classes (and those that want to preserve the status quo) because people are often paralyzed by uncertainty and the related forms of mystical thinking.

    There is a reality out there and there are knowable truths AND WE MUST ACT DECISIVELY ON THAT KNOWLEDGE TO CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER. Yes, there will always be things we don’t understand, and the universe is always in a state of constant change but this SHOULD NOT prevent us from taking decisive action in the real world.

    Dialectical materialism, as a scientific methodology for understanding our world (and the universe), is NOT limiting in this sense but actually embraces the concepts of unknowable truths and a constantly changing reality.


  • Hey Frank

    Every time they build a new telescope it shatters all previous conceptions, and they end up conceding the fact “well, I guess we were wrong, the universe goes out much farther than we used to think.” This itself will be an infinite process as human knowledge and our capacity to explore the universe continues to expand.

    And here is another aspect of infinity to explore. There is both “inner” and “outer” (for the sake of better terminology) forms of infinity. For as human beings explore smaller and smaller objects by searching for the so-called smallest particles inside known objects, suppose we conceive of this as also another endless search where smaller and smaller particles will be discovered in an “infinite” space going in the so-called other direction, if you will. And there is a dialectical relationship between both forms or types of infinity.

    Infinity is almost an impossible concept for humans to understand because of the finite nature of our thinking minds. But nevertheless, we can explore these questions and they have important significance in understanding both philosophy and physics and ultimately, political solutions to human problems. Food for thought.


  • JanCarol

    I respect your beliefs and I did not mean to offend you with my use of the word “confusion.”

    Part of my strong anti-religious beliefs come from my years of political activism and study of history as to how religion has been used as the ‘opiate of the masses” to suppress and undermine people’s ability and willingness to fight the “powers that be.” I still believe it overall serves this function in today’s world. And yes, there are major differences between organized religion and any one particular person’s spiritual belief system.

    That being said, I am also aware that some very religious people have also been great fighters historically against against an oppressive status quo. And I am sure this will also be true in the coming battles.

    It is still very important to have these kinds of back and forth discussions, in a respectful way, because the better we all understand how the world works the better we will be prepared to change it.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Seth

    You say: ” To deny a priori the existence of “God” shows either one is unfamiliar with modern non-fundamentalist theology and non-dogmatic mysticism or one has embraced a 19th century Newtonian materialist view of “science.””

    You are promoting a philosophically “idealist” presentation of reality similar to the old “I think therefore I am” approach to understanding the world. As opposed to a more philosophical “materialist” approach which says “I am therefore I think.” The latter presupposes the existence of an objective reality independent of and outside the self.

    Seth, the view you are promoting actually places MAJOR LIMITATIONS on the true nature of the “universe” by implying that it is “finite” and predetermined by an a priori existence of a supernatural “God,” which you would probably say has existed “infinitely.” This unscientific outlook actually stands (in the long run) as a major obstacle to human progress.

    What makes far greater sense and can be backed up by true science, is that “the universe” itself is infinite – it has always been there and will infinitely exist, that is, the law of matter in motion is infinite. Nothing was “created” by a “God” for it has always existed.

    “God” is actually finite in the sense that it is a conceptual creation of human beings to somehow explain the unexplainable in a confusing and often traumatic reality. The more human beings grow to understand how the world works and create a reality with less oppression and trauma, such concepts as “God” and/or religion (and other superstitions) will no longer be necessary for the human race.


  • JanCarol

    Thank you for sharing such a powerful story with so much emotional depth and meaning. Even though your descriptions of the “darkness” were hard to fathom, your sense of hope and rediscovery of self were truly very inspiring.

    I will definitely pass this comment on to a very close friend who is currently in the throws of a very difficult stage (serious insomnia and unrelenting anxiety in the early part of the day) of withdrawal from several decades of being on a psych drug cocktail, which includes lithium.

    I can definitely see how your post psych drug experiences could have a “spiritual”component to them perhaps in a similar way I described “spiritual” in my above comment, which I will repeat here:

    “While I am a hardcore atheist, I still believe in a certain concept of “spirituality,” IF that is extended to mean a form of human CONNECTIVENESS (emphasis added) that elicits a strong emotional sense of bonding and/or an uplifting sense of being part of, and connected, to certain social movements (where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) attempting to change the world for the better. I certainly felt these feelings in the movements of the 1960’s and beyond, and in today’s movement against psychiatric oppression and other environmental and anti-capiatalist struggles. These types of feelings (loosely called “spiritual” in the broadest sense) are based on tangible human interactions in the REAL world, not superstition.”

    In your case just reconnecting to the experience of real feelings again, both to nature and other human beings (we are by nature social beings), must be a complete revelation and profoundly emotional in a deep going way.

    But I do try to make a distinction between those particular feelings and the religious belief in a supernatural “god,” which I believe is in another metaphysical category. Sometimes these two categories of feelings are confused by people and lumped together. I don’t think this blog at MIA was able to draw those necessary distinctions, which was one of its major shortcomings, in addition to trying to separate out these questions from the overall harm perpetuated by the massive amount of psych drugging going on in society.

    Again, thanks for telling your story.


  • Oldhead and Vortex

    I agree with Frank’s above comment.

    Oldhead you said: ““Science” cannot prove or disprove spirituality, they are two different realms. One is subjective and experiential, the other objective and abstract.”

    This statement makes no logically sense. All experience is based on human interaction with the material world; which is the originating source of all ideas and thoughts. There can be no thinking or thought processes without there first being human interaction with the objective world that exists outside of oneself.

    As to science (or those believing in science) proving spirituality in terms of the existence of supernatural beings, this cannot be done, nor is it our responsibility to try.

    If someone says there is a pink elephant in the room but no one can see it with the naked eye or find any material evidence of its existence, it is NOT my responsibility to somehow prove it’s not really there. It is their “goddamn” responsibility to prove it is there, otherwise please stop insisting it is there, AND that others should accept on faith its existence.

    How many similar sorts of superstitions and beliefs based on shear faith or trust in those proclaiming to know the truth, have ended in such great harm and destruction to the human race?

    And Oldhead, science can’t be both objective and “abstract” at the same time as you implied in your above statement. This does not make any sense in this context.


  • Matt

    You have NOTHING to be defensive about regarding your issues/questions regarding religion and and spirituality.

    I should start out by saying that I am NOT an agnostic, but rather a militant atheist. I believe that not only is there no such thing as a “God,” but that religion and the spread of various similar forms of superstition is a harmful thing for the human race as a whole. I don’t deny that religion may have a short term consoling affect for some people in grief etc., but overall belief in these unscientific myths holds back the progress of humanity.

    While I am a hardcore atheist, I still believe in a certain concept of “spirituality,” IF that is extended to mean a form of human connectiveness that elicits a strong emotional sense of bonding and/or an uplifting sense of being part of, and connected, to certain social movements (where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) attempting to change the world for the better. I certainly felt these feelings in the movements of the 1960’s and beyond, and in today’s movement against psychiatric oppression and other environmental and anti-capiatalist struggles. These types of feelings (loosely called “spiritual” in the broadest sense) are based on tangible human interactions in the REAL world, not superstition.

    Matt, I’d like to challenge your comment that said: “… since I believe that these beliefs are basically denials of the fact that we are as far as we know alone in the universe (without a known God),…”

    We are NOT alone! There are several billion human beings on this planet we can unite with to transform this world into a more peaceful and humane place to live. People, who can and do provide us with tangible evidence (on a daily basis) of love, affection, and support. Since there is no God, and nobody can prove its existence, it is beyond me how people can claim that somehow we (atheists or agnostics) are in anyway missing out on some mystical connection that has no basis in proven reality.

    Matt, you also said: “… they are often adaptive delusions, since one feels safer and less afraid of death and meaninglessness by believing in God or being spiritual.”

    I don’t believe for a minute that this is necessarily true or more “adaptive” in a positive way. Many very religious people are very hypocritical in their social relationships and have serious problems in making genuine human connections. Many also have great fear of death. Is it possible in some situations that their religiosity stands as an obstacle for them being able to make those human connections or overcome their fears.

    Matt, you said: “…After writing this, I realize that it is depressing not to be spiritual; however, I do not view deluding oneself with unevidenced beliefs as something to be proud of and thus it is difficult for me to be spiritual, even though I love nature and other people.”

    Again, nothing to be defensive about here. For me it is NOT depressing, but rather LIBERATING to not be burdened with the all the religious superstition and the false concepts of “sin” and “evil” etc. that come with most religions. It is precisely your love of “nature” and “other people” that makes you a “spiritual” person in a sort of philosophically “materialist” way (if I might frame it that way).

    Matt, I believe your instincts about these questions are far more on target than those who will immediately accept religious dogma with no verifiable proof in the real world. And I must point out here, that I mean no disrespect to people who still hold on to religious beliefs. I think that religious belief will be around a long time on this planet and I plan to work as hard as I can alongside of many religious people as we attempt to change the world. I just want atheism to command the same level of respect among the broad masses, so that atheistic people DO NOT have to be defensive or somehow feel “deprived” or lacking in some mystical human quality.

    As to the content of this particular blog, I have very mixed feelings. The following quote rubs me the wrong way:

    “To be clear, I’m not trying to debate whether medications work or not, or if they are an appropriate first-line treatment for emotional distress. The aim is to look at the particular ways that psychiatric medications work which create the conditions for perceived interactions with spirituality.”

    While I am very much in favor of most scientific endeavors (even some of the more obscure investigations), I don’t know how someone can remain so impartial to the huge elephant in the living room of any discussions regarding psychiatric DRUGS in today’s world. First off, to use the term “medications” is to concede to several decades (where billions have been spent on marketing) of propaganda by Big Pharma to convince people that their mind altering substances are somehow “medications,” instead of the mind altering drugs that they are in reality. This is NO SMALL point in semantics, but a direct struggle against very oppressive language.

    And most importantly, given that overall their psychiatric drugs are causing FAR MORE HARM THAN GOOD in the world, that is, literally destroying millions of human lives, who the hell cares their psychological effect on spirituality WITHOUT AT THE SAME TIME LINKING THIS TO THEIR OPPRESSIVE ROLE IN OUR SOCIETY? Or how can we EVER separate their social and political role in society from their effect on spirituality?

    These drugs are, in their essence, mind altering substances, that impair overall brain functioning. So using common logic, I would expect them to interfere with rational cognitive functioning which would, in most cases, enhance one’s tendency to accept all forms of superstitious thinking, which includes religious spirituality. What more do we need to know on this artificially separated out subject of investigation.


  • Robert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Pitolay2002

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

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

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


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

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

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


  • Truth

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

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

    Comradely, Richard

  • FeelinDiscouraged

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

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

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


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

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


  • Julie and others

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

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

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

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

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


  • Julie and others

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


  • Elizabeth

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

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

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

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


  • Elizabeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Matt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • John

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


  • Peter

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

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Thank you for this thoughtful blog.

    As i stated in my very first blog at MIA:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Hi Bonnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Humanbeing

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

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

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

    Comradely, Richard

  • Kjetel

    Some very interesting and creative suggestions.

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

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Philip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Comradely, Richard

  • Tina

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • BetterLife

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

    The dangers of anti-hypertensive drugs are under appreciated.

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

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

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

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


  • Oldhead

    Good points.

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

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

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


  • Susan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


  • Oldhead

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

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

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

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


  • Daniel

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

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

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

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


  • Sandra

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Interesting blog worthy of more in depth investigation.

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

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

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

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

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


  • Perhaps we should phrase it this way:

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

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


  • Robert

    Thank you for responding to this difficult issue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

  • drt

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

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

    We have much work to do.


  • Robert

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Robert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Hi Noel

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Important topic to expose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


  • Sandra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Great blog.

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

    Let the whistle keep blowing!


  • Matt and Sandra

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

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

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

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


  • Frank

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

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

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

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

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


  • Hi Frank

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

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

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

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


  • Robin

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Frank

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

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

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

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


  • Olga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Comradely, Richard