Friday, June 22, 2018

Comments by Richard D. Lewis

Showing 100 of 1097 comments. Show all.

  • Bob and Kindredspirit

    Bob, great blog and further development of your critical scientific analysis of the overall harmful effects of psychiatric drugs throughout society. You have made a great case for the importance of NNT’s in analyzing the available data for the dangerous risks involved in the promotion and use of these mind altering drugs.

    Kindredspirit, you also raise some excellent points about how people in general are so willing to take risks (sometimes enormous risks) to get some perceived benefit from potentially dangerous drugs and/or some other gambling type activities in society.

    What has been left out of this discussion is how ALL of these important questions (of risk vs benefit) are both magnified, and their eventual course determined by a capitalist/profit based market place.

    Big Pharma (in collusion with psychiatry) is able to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to control the overall narrative while advertising and hyping the so-called benefits of these drugs, while downplaying the harmed caused. The counter narrative of forces such as MIA and other critics, is allowed to promote its counter perspective, but it is a mere tadpole swimming in a sea of sharks.

    Here the “Powers that Be,” that control the entire status quo, can say there is “free speech” and that the public has so-called “equal access” to a counter narrative, but we all know that the access to the “truth” is NOT on an equal playing field AND NEVER WILL BE as long as we live in a profit based capitalist system.

    Here it might be important to look at the history related to the FDA approval of the drug Vioxx (for arthritis and chronic pain) which was removed from the marketplace in 2004 due to dangerous side effects (or main effects) on the heart. It was determined that this drug probably caused anywhere between 88,000 to 139,000 heart attacks with 30 to 40 percent of those resulting in death. The pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., who produced this billion dollar blockbuster drug, was guilty of hiding valuable data that actually revealed the dangerous potential of heart damage, but continued to market and sell the drug.

    Interestingly enough, in 2005 the FDA and Canada’s equivalent agency voted to allow this drug to once again be sold in the marketplace DESPITE these serious heart consequences. Merck has not pushed for this to happen because of the high number of lawsuits and settlements proving major harm done to high numbers of people.

    However, it has been rumored that Vioxx may soon once again appear in the marketplace because both Merck & Co and the FDA may argue that its benefits outweigh any of the major risks involved in its use, and they may find a way around having to pay any more for legal damages.

    AND it should be quite apparent that they, (Big Pharma and the other powerful medical institutions), have enormously powerful financial, legal, political, and advertising resources at their disposal. These institutional forms of power and control are clearly based in a profit based/capitalist system and are driven by a set of economic and political contigencies that we have virtually no control over.

    All of these same institutional forces mentioned above, ultimately control and govern the entire course of how ALL psychiatric drugs are both viewed and dealt with by millions of people around the world. We cannot make fundamental change in how all forms of psychiatric abuse are addressed in society without confronting the very nature of the economic and political system we all live within.

    It is clear that MIA and the entire worldwide backlash against the psychiatric drug “revolution” has a significant number of credentialed experts, along with a powerful number of credible published stories by psychiatric survivors, yet the number of drug prescriptions and psychiatric labeling increases by the day throughout the world. Incremental reform (while both noble and necessary) is NOT going to lead to any fundamental change when it comes to ending all forms of psychiatric abuse.

    Just as with the enormous level of cognitive and political dissonance between Trump & Co. and those who oppose his rule, this System, can and will, tolerate vastly different narratives in the “marketplace” of ideas and regarding the sale of certain commodities, as long as it DOES NOT threaten the fundamental nature of a profit based system and those that rule it.


  • Hi Brett and Everyone

    I realize that I am way late to this discussion/debate. I found it very interesting and educational, and despite the fact that there was no clear resolution, it IS an important topic to be discussed.

    It is too late for me to go back into the main points, which were all covered quite thoroughly by many commenters. As with many discussions, we MUST continue to thrash them out (perhaps again and again) because the world needs solutions.

    Brett said the following (out of frustration and disappointment):

    ” I do not belong here, according to the culture of the comments section at MIA, and I’ve finally come to understand that. People who share my scientific values do not belong here. This helps to explain why MIA has made basically no inroads, and indeed has no chance of making inroads, in the world of non-biomedically-oriented “mental health” professionals who care about science, as long as the present culture remains intact.”

    Of course Brett belongs here and his presence has ALWAYS been positive and educational.

    However, his/your assessment that the “present culture” of the commenters at MIA IS the reason that more inroads have not been made influencing “biomedically-oriented “mental health” professionals,” CANNOT be supported by science or any other method of analysis.

    We must first look at who has “STATE POWER” in society and controls the media, educational system and all other significant institutions involved in the promotion and control of the current paradigm of so-called “treatment.” They spend billions of dollars YEARLY to carefully control public opinion and maintain the power and authority of psychiatry and their entire paradigm.

    This class based capitalist system needs psychiatry (and all that comes with it) to maintain its existence, and it WILL NOT give it up just because some minority group can now prove the harm that it causes.

    Again, there are BILLIONS being spent here, and it is of tremendous importance to those in power that psychiatry and its ” genetic theories of original sin” continue to be accepted widely throughout society and its legal and “scientific” authority sustained.

    I am not saying that the culture of the comment section at MIA has zero effect on its participants. But we must put all this in the perspective of what we are truly up against here, and what it will actually take to end all forms of psychiatric abuse.

    People participating in discussions at MIA SHOULD NOT EXPECT that a highly rational discussion will always lead to a resolution, and then be deflated or demoralized if they feel misunderstood or don’t reach the desired conclusion. This rarely happens in the comment section.

    Sometimes we must just finish our main arguments and then move on. In the mean time, there is growing chaos in the world and scientific and political struggle (of all kinds) breaking out all over the planet. Tomorrow will be a new day, with new conditions and opportunities for us to make trouble and possibly small inroads against those in power.

    Everyone get a good nights sleep and get ready to do battle in the new day.

    Carry on! Richard

  • Slaying The Dragon

    It was wrong of me to use caustic sarcasm to your above comment that literally equates psychiatry to the “Devil.” I apologize for the tone of that past moderated comment.

    The point to be made here is that by equating psychiatry to the “Devil” you end up totally abstracting psychiatry from the actual MATERIAL CONDITIONS in the world that gave rise to this profession, and NOW continues to sustain AND increase its power and control.

    Yes, psychiatry does evil things in the world, but it is not “pure evil” in the sense that it has always existed as in the myth of the existence of a “Devil.” Human beings are capable of doing terrible things, but in the best of environments they can be very cooperative and loving.

    For when you so narrowly focus on characterizing psychiatry as “evil” or the “Devil,” this lead us AWAY from finding the path to eliminating psychiatry and its oppressive paradigm of so-called treatment. This approach will NOT reduce the rise in suicide or end psychiatric oppression.

    Right now in the world, psychiatry (with its “genetic theories of original sin”) makes people focus on bad genes, brain diseases etc. and wants us all to NOT look at institutionalized forms of trauma and inequality in the world. This clearly serves the interests of the rich and powerful, that is the pharmaceutical industry and those who want to suppress dissent and other forms of rebellion.

    Just look at who are the most highly labeled and drugged segments of our society. In the past these segments of our society (minorities, women, prisoners and other system outliers etc.) were always the most rebellious and more willing to challenge the status quo.

    We all need to broaden our analysis of psychiatric oppression and get to the heart of where it comes from and how to uproot it from the actual material conditions in the REAL world.


  • Slaying the Dragon

    Yes, it is correct to target the critical role of psychiatry in these deaths, but your emphasis on ONLY psychiatry obscures the central underlying message in this blog. In fact, in my view, your total focus on the surface phenomena of psychiatry tends toward leading people away from finding the solutions to the problems of suicide and human alienation.

    Psychiatry and their paradigm of so-called “treatment” exists in a certain environment (type of society) and we must ask (and answer) the following questions:

    1) How did psychiatry come to gain its pervasive power in our society over the past 4 decades, and whose class interests does it serve?

    2) What is the origin and ultimate source of this obsessive focus on INDIVIDUAL success and achievement in society (that is so alienating), and how does it connect to the nature of our economic and political system?

    3) AND what systemic economic, political, and cultural changes need to take place in society to reduce emotional trauma and alienation, and give people more of a reason to live and contribute to making the world a better place?

    And BTW Noel. a good and timely blog. I am deeply grieving the loss of Anthony Bourdain. In his own unique way, he was truly breaking down WALLS and revealing through his travels how most human beings on this planet want and need the same fundamental things in life.


  • Oldhead

    You said: “Though I didn’t make this clear, when I said “we” it was in reference to a specific project geared towards identifying aspects of psychiatric oppression which cross ideological boundaries.”

    Psychiatric oppression is pervasive throughout all of our society. ALL psychiatric oppression cuts across ideological boundaries.

    The key question here is: why would a revolutionary activist want to create ANY advanced political organization OF ANY KIND (including an anti-psychiatry organization) in this historical era, that was NOT clearly delineated as Left (anti-capitalist)???


  • Oldhead

    You said: “…we should be looking for is an anti-psych analysis which encompasses or transcends “traditional” left-right dialectics in a way adherents of otherwise conflicting philosophies can embrace.”

    There is NOTHING in the world today, including any type of liberating ideology, that can (or should attempt to) “transcend” left-right dialectics.”

    Oldhead, using your own prior definitions where “Left” is defined as “anti-capitalist” and NOT as “liberal democrat” etc., why would anyone seeking a better world want to escape the “dialectic” you describe above?

    This is especially true when a profit based capitalist system is THE major historical roadblock to the advance of human progress seeking an end to ALL forms of human exploitation and oppression.

    Psychiatry and today’s ‘mental health” system is intimately interwoven within the overall capitalist/imperialist framework. For you to somehow suggest that a current day liberation movement can develop a theoretical or organizational presence that “transcends the left-right dialectic” is a utopian dream at best, and as a strategy, it can only lead toward “reformism” and liberal compromise.


  • Oldhead

    You said: “Therefore, for MIA as a non-survivor led organization to be pushing a “mad studies” approach reflects its own perspectives, not those of any organized survivor movement, and the latter should not be implied.”

    I am sure that MIA like any organization, has different and sometimes conflicting ideologies and perspectives that are reflected in its public presentation. There IS clearly a representative current of psychiatric survivors at MIA who are involved in the overall workings of the webzine, and it IS very much reflected in the content of the blog articles and other postings.

    Since, as you say, there is no clearly defined organized anti-psychiatry movement or organization, what is so wrong with there being a “mad studies” course promoted on the website where these issues can be discussed?

    Doesn’t this type of educational series provide a forum for an anti-psychiatry position to be delineated, and for contending viewpoints to be debated?

    If some of us don’t like the fact that there is no defined anti-psychiatry theoretical and organized presence in the current political landscape, then let’s stop complaining and do something about it!


  • Emily

    Where we agree:

    NOT telling people that their different (from social norms) behaviors and emotional states are “bad” for them and others, and therefore must be “treated,” and

    NOT telling someone that their fatness is “bad” for them and they should make “healthier” choices in their life and/or be “treated” for this condition.

    Both of these situations (as currently addressed in today’s society) I described above come across as judgemental, shaming, and fit into a category of “blaming the person” for whatever problems and/or distress they may experience related to these states of being. Both harm people in extreme ways at times, and do not help them.

    And yes, capitalism has convinced us that there is a too broad of a definition of obesity (culturally imposed norms regarding both health and beauty standards), AND (as it will ALWAYS do) seeks to profit from the very problems and/or conditions they themselves have a direct role in creating.

    I often refer to their type of pseudo-scientific theories as so-called “genetic theories of original sin.” (As if these are inherent flaws in human nature, instead of representing major flaws in the way society is organized around ownership, production and distribution). This was a phrase coined by the famous sociologist, Ashley Montagu.

    Where we disagree:

    I believe there has been a significant rise in obesity/fatness over the past 60 years that, overall, has diminished the health of the broad masses of people. And I belief legitimate science can back this up.

    Yes, some heavy people are quite fit and meet many of these legitimate health standards. But when it comes to heart health and overall effects on joints etc., many overweight people fall short of healthy standards and will suffer negative effects from this, in both the short and long term. Most people already know this to be true.

    BTW, my having said the above statement, does NOT mean it is okay to go around shaming people or telling them they are unhealthy. Here we are talking about general trends in society, that frankly the “Powers That Be” do NOT want people knowing the actual origins of these kind of societal problems. (see below)

    This is directly related to the “for profit” capitalist food industry producing and advertising foods with higher and higher levels of salt, sugar, and saturated fats. All this is combined with higher stress levels related to other forms of alienation and trauma within a class based society.This has all been done, similar to the cigarette industry, knowing that these ingredients have addictive qualities to the human brain and body, similar to other addictive drugs in society, and that people will be “forced” to continue using them at higher and higher levels over time.

    So here I am making the point that there is, and needs to be, a QUALITATIVELY DIFFERENT approach to addressing (OR NOT ADDRESSING) these issues when dealing with people who might be labeled as “obese” and or “fat,” AND when we start discussing these issues as broader questions confronting society as a whole. This is ESPECIALLY true when we start talking about issues of “blame” and “responsibility” in society for the existence of these sorts of problems, and for how we might find solutions.


  • To All

    I would hope that people would respond to my above point about trends in the for profit food industry over the past half century.

    Where I might disagree with the authors, is whether or not we should talk about obesity as a general social phenomena in late stage capitalism. I think having these discussions is fundamentally different than “fat shaming” and “sizeism” that gets directed towards INDIVIDUALS.

    This trend in higher rates of obesity is reflective of increased stress and oppression in society, and is not an overall healthy trend for both physical and psychological reasons for the broad masses of people..

    Here I am talking about addressing these issues of food production and advertising on an institutional and systemic level. People must be made aware that the “for profit” capitalist system DOES NOT have their best interests at heart (in a million ways) when it comes to promoting so-called healthy lifestyles.


  • Oldhead

    You said: “Also is it perhaps worth pointing out that “shaming” is impossible if you don’t give a shit what someone thinks of you?”

    The reality is that we are all SOCIAL human beings who need and require positive social interaction with others. And people can CLAIM that they don’t give a shit, but THEY DO! Shaming matters, and must be opposed as the authors have so eloquently advocated.

    Here I am talking about caring what people think from social groups we are attracted to and/or tend to hang out with. Of course I don’t really care if the far Right Wing dislikes me, and if they don’t dislike me, then I am probably not doing my job as a moral and justice seeking human being making my voice heard.


  • Gabi taylor

    You said: “a person who is consumed with pain and indignant and injustice, and then drowns the feelings in a doughnut is less likely to go out and right the world, than someone who acknowledges the pain and uses it as a motivator to action. Would you not agree?”

    No gabi, I agree with very little of what you are saying in this thread. And since you have missed the total essence of the blog I would hesitate to even validate any of your secondary points here.

    And BTW, there are many people here at MIA, and out there in the real world, who would “down the doughnut” and then march out in the street, or write a kick ass blog, that takes on this oppressive system, especially the oppression of women.

    And gabi, while you may not be eating the doughnuts, you have clearly imbibed a heavy dose of this sytem’s Kool Aid way of looking at the world. And when people point this out to you, you only tend to “double down” on these backward beliefs.

    And as I remember in a previous blog discussion you definitely steered clear of the “feminist ” label, AND clearly showed your lack of understanding of women’s oppression by opposing women’s right to control their own bodies and their reproductive rights, with your anti abortion stance.

    It is now clearer to me why you would also not understand women’s oppression as it pertains to “sizeism.”


  • Oldhead

    You said: “outlawing it [prostitution] absent the current exploitative milieu would be extreme I think, and partly grounded not in economics but in puritanism.”

    Prostitution ALWAYS takes place in an “exploitative milieu.” It has always been one of the major pillars of historical patriarchy in human history.

    Oldhead, my position on ending prostitution has absolutely nothing to do with “puritanism,” and everything to do with ending capitalist oppression and creating a truly classless society where all forms of human exploitation, AND the material conditions in the world that gives rise to that oppression, are totally eliminated from human society.

    And I am still waiting for Emily, or anyone else to somehow defend the statement that prostitution is “empowering” for some women.

    I am sure that Kitty Dukakis would say that Electro-Shock was “empowering” for her. The fact that she said that, and/or believes that to be true, does not make it so.


  • Sarah

    Your disdain for making a principle out of “laws” is only understood for me when you look at the sham democracy we have in this country. The biggest joke of all is that, in theory, there are suppose to be laws against “monopolies” in this capitalist system. And the reality we face today is that economic and political power is more and more consecrated in the hands of a tiny elite.

    HOWEVER, laws in a truly socialist society will mean something totally different after such a revolution takes place, AND they will represent an historical achievement that involved enormous struggle and sacrifices by millions of people. And yes, after a revolution it will still take enormous struggle to maintain the viability of the new laws in order to advance towards a truly classless world.

    But new revolutionary laws will be absolutely necessary as a way to codify our achievements and set new standards of acceptable behavior until human nature advances to the point where cooperative forms of behavior become a more natural part of human nature.

    If we reach a point in history where there ARE laws that outlaw all forms of human exploitation, this would be a great thing, and represent a very important step in human progress.

    And you are to be commended for getting out of the law profession. I am reminded of the Al Pacino movie “And Justice for All” which is a true exposure of so-called American justice and the crazy making aspects of working in that profession.


  • Yes, Sarah, all very good points.

    And just as Emily made the point that maybe there could be a seemingly unconscious desire on the part of fat people to take up more space as a form of “in your face” to those who promote the “thin is good and beautiful,” there ALSO can be an opposite form of these tendencies as well.

    For example, I have heard people who work in this field theorize that anorexia can represent a desire to “disappear” by getting smaller and smaller. And also, as a way to remove any outward signs of female sexuality (smaller hips and no breasts) to avoid being viewed or pursued as a sexual object in our society.

    The same could be said for fat women, who are also removing the more overt physical forms of sexuality, as a way to avoid conforming to cultural standards of “beauty” and as a way to avoid being approached as a sexual object in our society.

    All of this is such a sad commentary regarding the high rates of sexual abuse and trauma in our society, and what people are forced to do consciously, or unconsciously, as a way to cope with this madness and the related cultural norms regarding the treatment of women.


  • gabi taylor

    You seem to be venturing into some sort of version of “positive psychology,” where perhaps you believe all people can and should find a way to “happiness” in this world, IF they just make the right choices (or think the right way) in life. This new trend and form of therapy actually does great harm to people who have very good reasons (suffering from real oppression) feeling depressed or being socially and psychologically detached from the world in some way.

    Depression, “psychosis,” manic behavior, fatness etc. etc. – they all represent a form of social protest, and they serve as a major public indication that we live in a very oppressive world. These forms of protest are not necessarily consciously carried out or planned, but they are a form of protest never the less. Some people may live their entire life in this state of being. Should they be made to feel shamed or somehow responsible for maintaining this form of coping mechanism within a difficult world?

    The first three examples I gave might, at times, preclude a person from engaging in actual more conscious forms of protest due to their debilitating effects. Someone who is overweight, according to socially acceptable standards (or even medical standards that calls them obese), can still become an active participant in any, and all, forms of organized protest to confront all forms of oppression and seek systemic changes in the world.

    I am going to stop telling (or judging) people (including my own grown children) that they could make better choices in their life regarding food and exercise. They have already been judged as “less than” in this world, and I don’t want to, in any way, contribute more to their oppression.

    People can be decent loving human beings AND full participants in revolutionary change regardless of their size. When a true Revolution occurs in this world, we will then be fully free to explore (without the profit motive corrupting science and everything else) what it means to be “healthy.” And when all oppressive institutions are torn down then (and only then) will people be truly free to make fully informed and non-pressured choices that will benefit both them and their community in a better way.


  • gabi taylor

    You have totally missed the main points in this blog and have now resorted to giving “advice” to the authors, and to some commenters, about how they could be “happier” and “healthier” in their lives. This really ends up shaming them for their past choices and/or future choices, and it fails to understand the essence of “sizeism” and “sanism.”.

    The bottom line is that we live in a very oppressive society that “others” and “isolates” all those who have developed all types of socially unacceptable coping mechanisms to manage and survive in this extremely oppressive and insane world. Both “sizeism and “sanism” are just two forms of oppression in this sick society that ends up “blaming the victims.”

    My earlier points (and more recent comments) are not meant, in any way, to undercut the main essence of this blog. I do have some problems with a much more secondary current in this blog that tends towards a form of
    “hyper-individualism” and “Libertarianism.”

    I totally agree with Katethewolf’s comment:

    “Sunsets are nice, justice would be better.”


  • Emily

    You said: “I am a staunch abolitionist of paternalism.”

    Does this mean that any new revolutionary societies that come into being in the future should NOT have any laws that outlaw human exploitative behaviors?

    Yes, I know that it will be a difficult process to determine exactly what are all the “exploitative” practices by which one individual or group exploits another. But is it not possible for human beings to ultimately figure this out, AND don’t we now have more than enough evidence when it comes to examining the nature of ECT, Conversion Therapy, and prostitution?

    Emily, I agree that suicide should be legal in ANY society, and I would fight for that right.

    You said: “I also think that the criminalization of sex work only leads to more exploitation and violence…”

    Yes, IN THIS SOCIETY, the criminalization of prostitution does end up coming down heavily on the women engaged in this practice. My reference to outlawing the practice of prostitution was in a REVOLUTIONARY society. And here as I’ve stated, great efforts would be made to aid all the women and men who were previously forced (or driven) into this practice.

    You said: “I know many sex workers who find this job empowering.”

    Any in depth examination of prostitution would reveal that the vast majority (if not 90% or more) of the women engaged in prostitution were victims of some forms of sexual abuse and/or other trauma in their life. It would also reveal that the “choice” to be a prostitute was driven by the experiences of both economic violence and other severe forms of emotional violence (many of which you [Emily] have revealed in your writings at MIA) from their position as oppressed women within a patriarchal society.

    I would also say that selling one’s body as a commodity, to be used and objectified by a man, does not really fit any historically moral and just definition of the word “empowering.”

    And as to your upholding the legalization of Electro-Shock, Emily, is their really such a thing as “Informed Consent” when people (mainly women) allegedly “choose” to have ECT in today’s world???

    As I stated in a prior comment, some of these political positions contested here are falling into some type of “Libertarianism” and “Individualism” that divorces human behavior from any moral standard and political compass that we can ultimately judge what is “exploitative” and “oppressive” in society.

    Without such a moral and political compass, we will be prevented from making the kinds of changes in the world to eventually eliminate all forms of human exploitation and oppression once and for all. I am NOT suggesting that the path to obtaining this “moral and political compass” will be easy, but it is POSSIBLE!


  • Emily

    I have tremendous respect for your writing here, but I think you should definitely reconsider the following comment related to conversion therapy:

    ” I said it should be legal, if freely chosen (I definitely don’t think it should be legal for parents to coerce their kids into it, for example). At the end of the day, WHAT EVER HAPPENS [my emphasis] between two consenting adults is none of my business and certainly not the state’s.”

    In the current status quo, we live in a very oppressive and exploitative capitalist/imperialist “state.” By “state” I am referring to the government and institutions that corresponds to this form of economic and political system.

    Yes, living in the CURRENT oppressive “state” we should question every, and all, intrusions into people’s lives and the laws that govern people’s behaviors. We should have no confidence that their laws are in place for our benefit.

    But your above view that “anything goes” if it’s between “two consenting adults” is very problematic. Your falling into some type of “Libertarianism” that divorces human behavior from any moral standard and compass that can ultimately judge what is “exploitative” and “oppressive” in society.

    Of course you know that the term “consenting” is extremely problematic as well. Should we NOT outlaw Electro-Shock, if it’s between so-called “consenting” adults.

    And to pose another provocative question to you: suppose we have a socialist revolution in this country. Do you think it would be wrong for the new “state” (which is now based on non-exploitative institutional structures) to outlaw prostitution.

    Prostitution is clearly the ultimate personification of objectifying and commodifying women in society, and a fundamental pillar of historical patriarchy.

    Any just and moral NEW society would definitely, as a beginning step, outlaw prostitution, while making every effort to provide emotional support, housing and monetary support for those women who were previously forced into this form of behavior. And it would criminalize those men who were found continuing to pursue women for this practice.


  • Oldhead

    I would add to your point by talking about the evolution of food production and standards in America, especially over the past 60 years.

    It is very clear that the American food industry (to raise their profit levels) very consciously became aware of the addictive nature of producing food with higher levels of salt, sugar, and saturated fats. These food substances very clearly access the hedonic pathways in human brain chemistry, very similar to a brain and behavior process that occurs with other more commonly used addictive drugs.

    It is no accident that millions of people on the planet are attracted to these foods and obtain some level of comfort in consuming them. Just one more reason why capitalism must be eliminated to advance human evolution through Revolution.


  • Emily and Sarah

    Thank you so much for this very educational and extremely challenging blog. I say, “challenging,” because of all the kinds of prejudices in our sick society this is the one (if I am willing to be honest) that I struggle with the most.

    Having been a radical political activist since the 1960’s I try to be a critical thinker about all forms of oppression and seek to take the most advanced political and morally correct stand that I possibly can, and then act accordingly.

    You both have deepened my understanding about this form of oppression (from your personal and political perspectives) and it has definitely changed my thinking, and I hope it will manifest itself in my future behavior.

    Now to my questions and concerns. Emily, you write very passionately about your own aspects of “thin privilege” and “fat phobia” throughout your life and how this has caused a great deal of anxiety and pressure in life. I am sure this whole issue can be quite different for women in this society (where the women’s body is “objectified”) and the resulting related trauma is so much higher than it is for most men.

    For me the issue of “fat phobia” and health standards “divides into two.” Yes, I have been deeply affected by our culture and all the pressures and the standards of beauty. However, at some point in our life we each develop our own sense of personal identity (and it is always in flux) that, yes, is shaped by these cultural norms, but also has its own individual character that we may grow comfortable with in both our mind and body. And it may end up conforming to how we, as an individual, define what it means to be “healthy.”

    For me, being athletic from a young age and desiring a goal of physical fitness became something that made me feel good about myself in my own body. That is, a sense of physical awareness about the various muscle groups and a positive feeling from the sense of muscle contractions (through weight training type exercises) and a sense of muscle tone and aerobic conditioning from the sports I was playing. In fact, I would say that my involvement in sports in high school may have been one important thing that shielded me from some of the negative effects of all the other kinds of pressures that push many youth over the edge during this very vulnerable part of their life.

    And as to the way some people maintain a certain weight standard that might be labeled “thin” or “normal.” For some people like myself this may evolve (over many years) into some type of internal body “set point” that allows a person to stay at the same “lower” weight. I am now 70 years old and only 10 pounds heavier than my high school weight. Of course, I am flabbier and more wrinkly in appearance, but still have the overall sense of body awareness (that I had as a youth) in regards to the weight I feel most comfortable with and the one fits my sense of personal identity.

    I believe this point I am making about my “set point” and sense of body awareness can overall manifest itself in eating behaviors that tend to offset each other. For example, If I overeat or over indulge in certain foods on one day I subconsciously tend to back off the next day as a way of maintaining this “set point.” This is NOT a process of self shaming or berating myself about so-called bad behaviors the prior day, it just happens (a behavior pattern that has evolved over 70 years) to allow me to sustain the “set point” of weight that I feel most comfortable with and that corresponds to my self identity.

    I do NOT separate all this from cultural norms and societal influences, but neither do I choose to call myself primarily “fat phobic” because these thoughts and behaviors (about food and exercise) have evolved in my life and help keep me aligned to those standards that I value as “healthy.”

    When humanity reaches a stage in history when there is no class oppression and all the other forms of trauma and human degradation are eliminated (a stage of history well beyond a profit based/capitalist system), I do believe human beings will evolve to a point where we will both understand what “healthy” standards are (for eating and exercise behaviors), AND most importantly, EVERY ONE will have the freedom to access those standards.

    And while there will be a multitude of personal differences in the categories of size and eating behaviors, there will NOT exist the types of behavioral and emotional extremes that pervades our current society and that bring with them all the related forms of oppression and human degradation.

    What does it say about American capitalist society (the richest and most powerful country on the planet with overall less than 5% of the world’s population) that it concentrates the highest rates of people labeled as “obese” and the highest rates of people labeled as “anorexic.”???


  • Frank

    I cannot believe you stand by these statements:

    “I am indifferent to consensual psychiatry.”

    “Psychiatry is not the problem.”

    You say you are against “non-consensual psychiatry” because it takes away people’s rights and harms and oppresses people, but you are “indifferent to consensual psychiatry” and do not believe it is “the problem.”

    What if I could prove to you that “consensual psychiatry” throughout the entire world actually causes overall (in terms of numbers and degree of harm to human beings) FAR MORE harm and FAR MORE damage than “coercive psychiatry”? Then what would you have to say to justify such twisted logic where you are “indifferent” to “consensual psychiatry.”

    Of course, “coercive psychiatry” cause enormous harm; this is well documented. However, it is safe to say that exponentially FAR MORE people worldwide are exposed to “non-coercive psychiatry,” and it also WELL DOCUMENTED how much harm this causes to human beings.

    Frank, you are correct to say that merely abolishing psychiatry will not stop the harm perpetrated by this oppressive “mental health” system. And yes, the power structure running this profit based capitalist system would find other ways to carry out all the labeling, drugging, and incarcerating of people.

    I do get where you are coming from on that part of your position, but to make the other statement I’ve highlighted above defies all moral and political logic.

    As you know from my prior blogs and comments, I do not believe it is possible to eliminate either “consensual” or “non-consensual” psychiatry under the current capitalist/imperialist system.

    Psychiatry’s power and control of dissident sections of the population, along with the enormous profit margins of Big Pharma, makes the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex now an indispensable component of the entire System. Each is now interdependent on the other’s existence and their future together are permanently linked.


  • Thanks for writing your story.

    Another blog documenting the horrible “treatment” by psychiatry and mainstream medicine when it comes to DSM labels and the subsequent psychiatric drugging of people.

    The author only answered the first part of the question as to why there is almost total ignorance in medicine when it comes to benzos. Her answer was “a lack of education.” True, but a more important question to ask AND answer is : WHY is there a lack of education???

    Here we have to examine the entire corrupt history for the FDA approval of benzos that involves collusion, of a criminal nature, by psychiatry (APA) and Big Pharma. The author of this blog needs to read the books of Robert Whitaker and Peter Breggin. These books document a history revealing that the above mentioned institutions have all kinds of economic (profit levels) and political (power and control) reasons to keep people in the dark about the harm done by benzos, including the horrible withdrawal symptoms.

    If the entire history of the worldwide benzo disaster were revealed, it would be the one of the biggest medical scandals in the last 100 years.


  • Steve

    You are correct to say that until this form of deadly abuse is made illegal, and those who perpetuate such crimes are duly punished, this will NEVER stop.

    A key question to be asked: can those type of legal interventions occur under a profit based capitalist system?

    I would argue a definite, NO, to that question.


  • So McB18 wishes to self identify as a “troll” (what does that say about one’s character), and somehow believes they have won [buried their opponent] in an argument, or ended a discussion, with a half baked analysis that is essentially dismissive of a true class analysis of society and its problems.

    I have responded with two major comments above that reveal the significant weaknesses in your position.

    What happened to your shovel, McB18?


  • McB18

    And to add to my above comment, while you have added depth and passion to the argument that ALL children (cutting across class lines in capitalist society) can and will often suffer various forms of abuse, sometimes very horrible forms of abuse, your overemphasis on this point does, in fact, tend to negate a true class analysis.

    Children are NOT going to lead a Revolution to transform an oppressive profit based /class system of oppression. Nor is the issue of family oppression and child abuse going to be a DECISIVE dividing line question (like racial, women’s, and anti-war struggles etc.) leading to critical forms of mass struggle challenging the overall system.

    I say this NOT to diminish, in any way, its [child abuse] importance in the overall scheme of things and in understanding other forms of exploitation in our society.

    But I do say this to highlight a class analysis and a more accurate view of what MAJOR sources of resistance are likely to arise in the coming years that will fundamentally challenge this system to its core..

    Yes, FORMER CHILDREN, will lead the Revolution, and all politically active people coming to terms with ALL the various forms of oppression in capitalist society, will come to the conclusion that the entire System, including those things wrong within the nuclear family, is rotten to its core and needs to be replaced with a NEW form of socialism.

    It is this fundamental transformation in society that will end the nuclear family, and all its own forms of oppression, and bring into being NEW forms of institutions and social arrangements in society that can end exploitation (over many generations) forever.

    And those FORMER children in particular, especially those coming from the upper classes, will have to ideologically and politically BETRAY their own class interests and privileges, in order to play a true revolutionary role in transforming society in a thorough going way.


  • McB18

    You said to Uprising: “Are you just not paying attention to what’s being said here, OR DO YOU DRINK HEAVILY [my emphasis] while writing your comments?”

    How was this not anything but a flip personal attack meant to instigate and/or bate an emotional reaction, and the exact opposite of promoting civil dialogue?

    You said: “While I’m sure Richard Lewis would wholeheartedly agree with my position in theory, I detect a real emphasis on his part on societal sources of oppression (capitalism, for example) over oppression within the family, much less any real discussion of the universal risks of being a child. I could go through his piece and pull out statements to support this if you like.”

    Yes, please go through my comments and pick out where I have denied child abuse.

    Uprising is correct in saying that oppression in the family IS very much connected to overall oppression in society. And certainly my emphasis in singling out the need to end “patriarchy” (as part of the struggle to end capitalism and all forms of class oppression) which very much includes the oppression of children, was a legitimate response to many of the past points you were making.

    McB18, your repeated negative remarks about leftists and those upholding a “class analysis” of society, make me wonder if you truly accept that a “class analysis” matters when trying to transform society into a more humane era.

    I would ask you the following questions:

    Which class in society (in terms of its interests and material position as a class) is in the best position, if able to seize power, to end all forms of oppression, including patriarchy and all forms of child abuse?

    And what form of economic and political system provides the best (and only) opportunity to truly end ALL forms of exploitation and oppression in society?


  • Hi Laura

    Congratulations on the successful launch of the ICI internet support system and educational website. And glad to see your internet writing presence so prominently displayed again.

    The growth and success of ICI will surely strengthen our movement to end all forms of psychiatric abuse and advance the cause of all human rights struggles.

    Carry on! Comradely, Richard

  • Oldhead

    I am “diverting” nothing here. I am responding to a major attack (by gabi taylor) on women’s rights which is a significant part of the current Right Wing agenda.

    Oldhead, since when do you start calling a defense of an important dividing line question for women’s rights in the world today a, {“diversion.”}???


  • phoenix

    I believe “moving on” means finding a way to reprocess past events in a safe and supportive way.

    There is new evidence that one’s memory is very malleable and undergoes a transformation each time a person revisits past trauma events. So instead of someone expending a great deal of energy trying to run from, forget, and/or numb out these past events, the person can actually begin to use adult/rational thinking to review the nature of these events from some place of emotional distance.

    EMDR is one such approach that helps people revisit past troubling events to help sort out issues of shame and guilt and become clearer about those people and institutions ultimately responsible for creating the trauma.

    Once someone begins, through this reprocessing, to doubt and/or question the earlier decisions they made as a child (and sometimes as an adult) about the sequence of events and thought patterns that led them to believe they were “bad,” then healing and “moving on” has a chance to progress forward.

    In this case “forgiving” may be more like “cancelling the debt you think your owed” and getting on with one’s life.

    This could include grasping the understanding that these past troubling experiences, while certainly horrible, actually created conditions for the person to turn these life challenges into transforming themselves into a more compassionate person who understands, in a deeper way, the human condition and the need revolutionary change in the world.


  • phoenix

    Thanks for the positive feedback on my first blog.

    I will add this point about the trauma/forgiveness question. While the actual act of forgiveness may never occur for various reasons, it is important for people to work toward finding a way to move beyond their past traumatic experiences. This does NOT mean forgetting, but trying to find ways to not be stuck in anger or revenge type thinking. And anger can often be channeled into some type of constructive activity or cause that is working to help eliminate forms of abuse and make the world a better place.


  • Fiachra

    You might want to read up on the history of the use of the terminology surrounding the battle over defending the right of women to have an abortion. Their insistence on the use of word “baby” (to describe a fetus) is very important to all those trying to deny women control of their reproductive rights.

    In fact, I would equate its political significance to those who are very invested in calling psychiatric drugs, “medications.”


  • gabi taylor

    You say you are not Right Wing but you are promoting one of their most important political positions – the subjugation of women.

    You certainly can’t call yourself a feminist since you advocate for women NOT having any control over their bodies or reproductive rights, which is absolutely fundamental to feminism or support for the equality of women.


  • Someone Else

    You raise some important points.

    What about this quote from “Psychiatric Times”?

    “Burdening pharmaceutical companies to conduct such research before granting them license to sell would certainly slow down the development of many new and helpful medications.”

    Given the millions of people HARMED by these drugs, this statement sums up in a powerful way the truly criminal nature of Big Pharma and Psychiatry and those apologists who wish to cover up their crimes.


  • Steve and LavenderSage

    Thank you for those necessary comments. While this blog has many strengths it also has some glaring weaknesses, some of which which you have correctly critiqued.

    The author of this blog tended to demonize depression by abstracting it from the real life experiences in the world that bring it on. He also made no distinction between the more milder experiences of depression and the severe forms of the experience. ALL experiences of depression by women are often routinely “treated” with mind altering (and cellular altering) drugs after a 5 minute discussion with a doctor and/or psychiatrist.

    AND I will repeat a criticism I have made of this author”s previous blogs when he continues to alternate between using the word “baby” and “fetus” to describe a developing fetus.

    This misuse of language is very contentious and politically volatile in a world that is increasingly restricting the rights of women to control their bodies and reproductive rights. Right Wing forces in society, of course, want the word “baby” to be used to describe a developing fetus so as to claim a “murder” has been committed when a women makes a righteous choice to end a pregnancy due to its enormous impact on the trajectory of their life.


  • McB18

    I hear your intense anger towards those responsible for your’s and all other children’s trauma and neglect. Anger can become a force channeled for major political change. Cynicism becomes a deadend.

    Since you seem to almost mock those of us who seek major systemic change as an important first step in reshaping the world, I would like to hear what solutions you would propose for political activists in today’s world.

    Exploitation and oppression is inherent and endemic to capitalism at its very core. Workers must SELL their labor power to the highest bidding capitalist. Economic crises are a periodic inevitability in this system leading to layoffs and recessions and/or depressions. War (one of the highest forms of trauma and death) is an an inevitable product of the competing Imperialist powers fighting over spheres of influence in the world.

    This system creates and encourages divisions between races, men and women, and other minorities and system outliers. Children also have no respected voice and are subjected multiple forms of exploitation that often have some form of profit at the origin of the various forms of trauma. Just look at the labeling and drugging that is occurring among young people subjected to Psychiatry’s and Big Pharma’s Medical Model.

    So I definitely think major systemic change is necessary AND good place to big focusing our attention for social and political change.


  • McB18

    Yes, patriarchy and other forms of traumatic experiences that affect all children and young people is endemic to capitalist society and cuts across class lines. And when i use the word patriarchy, I believe it covers both the oppression of women AND children, and penetrates all classes, although the oppression is far greater and pervasive within the under classes.

    While patriarchy and poor treatment of children has existed in socialist experiments, it is more a part of the birthmarks remaining from the previously existing class societies. Socialism and communism provide the material basis (if the necessary political struggle is carried out over many generations) to ultimately eliminate patriarchy and the oppression of children once and for all.


  • McB18

    Yes again to what Steve said. You must read more of the blogs here at MIA. I am squarely on the nurture side of things. After billions of dollars of research they have found NO biological markers for what gets labeled as “mental illness” diagnoses.

    My blogs (over a dozen) and comments at MIA have always discussed and pointed out the daily traumas and neglect that exists in this society. Classism (with its poverty), patriarchy (which oppresses both women and children), racism, homophobia etc. are all endemic to this system and add the kind of stress that leads to severe psychological distress.

    Check out my very first blog at MIA 5 years ago:

    Here I lay out very clearly the source of all this pain and sadness and criticize all the Systems’s “genetic theories of original sin.” And I discuss very clearly a better way to understand addiction and so-called symptoms of “mental illness.”

    All the best. I am glad you are reading here and challenging us regarding the content of our writing.


  • Frank

    My belief is that if this word becomes accepted and more commonly used in these discussions that it would be a set back for our movement. This is why I have made a big deal out of the misuse of this term.

    There are many attacks going on against science in this world and I believe this is one of the less obvious and more subtle ways people undermine the belief in legitimate science.

    Dr. Timimi could have written all of his recent blogs without ever using this term and still made all of his political points very clear to everyone. We should ask WHY does he insist on using this term even in all the titles of his blogs as well as some subtitles and within the text?


  • Steve,

    You were supporting the phrase: “…autism is not a scientific term because it’s not definable…”

    Wouldn’t it be more correct to say that “autism” or its related phenomena “is not YET definable?”

    We may just not know enough about this phenomena or have the science and/or knowledge to describe what is going on here. There is so much we don’t know about how human beings and the human brain is affected by the environment and its related culture.

    I think we are both in agreement that all the so-called “treatment” for these labels is in most cases harmful and not advancing our understanding of how to help ALL people make progress in life.


  • Steve

    There is a much better term than “scientism” to describe people who blindly follow anything that has an alleged scientific label or credential behind it, and that is “BLIND FAITH.” These are people who don’t understand science, or know how to correctly use the scientific method. This is all closely very related to the phenomena of “blind faith” in authority. which we know is very dangerous in these times.

    I would also say that the terms such as “dogmatism,” pragmatism,” “reductionism,” and “mechanical materialism” are also useful terms to criticize poeple who distort the scientific method by using incomplete methodology, narrow interpretations, shortterm gathering of data, and the isololating of phenomena and components from their intrinsic whole. These are just a few of the distortions of the scientific method.
    The term “scientism” does nothing but sow confusion whem trying to correctly criticize psychiatry and the medical model, AND may actually lead to diminishing people’s belief in the importntance of genuine science.

    It is both funny and ironic that everyone here (including the author Dr. Timimi) who is criticizing the autism diagnosis (and promoting the use of the term “scientism) is actually using SCIENCE AND THEIR UNDESTANDING OF THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD to deconstruct what is wrong with those who are promoting the “autistism” and “Aspergers'” diagnosis. Friends, you can’t have it both ways.


  • Neil

    Thanks for that response. I notice in that definition you provided they use the word “faith,” which is ironically in major contradiction to the scientific method. It once again shows how confusing this term really is.

    And while you provided this confusing definition you ,as well, have offered no valid justification for using this term.

    Exposing and critiquing what is wrong with psychiatry and the medical Model is difficult enough without using controversial and nonsensical terms.


  • To All

    ONCE AGAIN, Sami Timimi ruins a potentially good blog on the pseudo-science related to the Autism diagnosis by continuing to use the nonsensical term “SCIENTISM.”

    He even has a subtitle, “Scientism Defines What Autism Is,” but NOWHERE” does he EVER really provide a workable definition of “scientism” that makes any sense. He is guilty of the very same criticism he makes of those that claim there is somehow legitimate science or a legitimate definition backing up the autism diagnosis.

    Dr.Timimi says the following in his first paragraph:

    “I am aware that some think my use of the term ‘scientism’ as opposed to, say, ‘pseudoscience’ or ‘corrupt science’ is a mistake. I think scientism is a more useful term as it can cover many aspects: It can refer to an over-emphasis on the use of scientific knowledge and techniques, but can also refer to the corruption of science.”

    Here he just makes up his own justification for why this term has some apparent meaning without providing ANY scientific evidence that it has ANY useful purpose or ANY clearly agreed upon acceptance within the scientific community.

    First, he continually shows how the pro autism crowd has NO definitive or useful science to back up their diagnosis, so I ask how is this an example of “… an over-emphasis on the use of scientific knowledge and techniques…” which Dr. Timimi claims is an example of “scientism.”???

    There are a dozen other words such as “pseudo-science,” “corrupt,” “unverifiable,” “half-baked,”etc. etc. that have far more useful meaning when criticizing the lack of a legitimate scientific model for describing autism.

    Once again I will say the following, any web search on the the meaning of “scientism” will provide MULTIPLE meanings of the term and hugely contested debates from all types of scientists and philosophers and other academics. There is NO accepted meaning OR agreement that this term has any validity.

    I will remind people that the term “scientism” is MORE often used by those who want to UNDERMINE the role of science in the world (including by Right Wing global warming deniers) and those that are particularly upset that almost all scientists challenge the fundamental basis of religious belief systems. Dr. Timimi’s insistence on using this term, without ANY clear definition, or useful purpose, makes me wonder if he is part of those academics who resent scientists (and the scientific method) from entering into theological discussions.

    Now on the issue of autism, I am not prepared to say that autism can ONLY be defined in a “cultural” sense as Dr. Timimi has implied. Until MORE LEGITIMATE SCIENCE is developed, I believe that we’d have to say it is most likely a combination of environmental and genetic factors. It is correct to be very critical of how the Medical Model has made a entire profitable industry of the autism diagnosis, and yes, millions of these children and adults are heavily drugged with mind altering chemicals.

    And I hope that in this blog, Dr. Timimi will actually participate in the discussion that he has provoked with such a controversial topic.


  • Oldhead

    My “allowed to fail” point is stressing that this system needs psychiatry and will only tolerate resistance to this “mental health” system up to a certain point. Neither psychiatry or the “mental health” system can be eliminated or dismantled as long as a profit based system with a capitalist class is running the show. The same would apply to those people who want to break up the big banks etc.

    My use of the phrase “alternative support systems” is only stressing that there is much value to those people working to find ways to help people in psychological stress while still living within an oppressive status quo. I think you know that I view psychiatry as being without redemption and/or providing people with nothing other than more distress and harm.

    You said: “More realistic than what?” to my following sentence:
    “But at least this strategic approach represents a more realistic and truer picture of what we are actually up against”

    “More realistic” than those who believe we can reform the “mental health” system and/or eliminate it within a capitalist/profit based system. Again, the future of psychiatry and the Medical Model is inseparably bound to the future of the entire capitalist system. And of course you cannot reform something that is harmful to the core and promotes a belief that there is something called “mental illness.”

    You said: “The last few points sound a little more idealistic and abstract than the others.”

    Are you saying that revolution is “abstract” and an “idealistic” dream, or that it is impossible to link the struggle against psychiatry with other human rights struggles against oppression within the capitalist system?

    The fact that most advanced revolutionary groups on the Left do not currently understand our movement (against psychiatry and the Medical Model) should not deter us in the least in pressing forward with advanced demands and organized resistance against this system. It is precisely this kind of activity that will force all revolutionary minded people to pay attention and take careful notice of the important significance of our movement. We have a dual task here in not only educating the broad masses about the overall illegitimacy and oppressive nature of psychiatry, but also educating the “Left” as we press forward.

    I believe that the movement for LGBTQ/gay rights faced the same kind of resistance, that is, a history of homophobia and ignorance within past socialist/communist movements. So this is nothing new, and we can say that the LGBTQ movement has forced the “Left” to seek a more advanced perspective on human sexuality and the importance of these human rights struggles.

    Certainly we should NOT let this pervasive ignorance in the “Left” stop us from seeing the importance of having an “anti-system” perspective in ALL our organizational formations when taking on psychiatry and the Medical Model.


  • Steve

    I would avoid using the words “crony capitalism.” It is a frequently used term by the “Right Wing” to obscure the true nature of capitalism.

    They want people to believe that somehow there is a “pure” form of capitalism that is fair and humane. The capitalist “law of value” necessitates the inevitable formation of monopolies and the consolidation of power and wealth in the hands of a smaller and smaller elite.

    It also necessitates international competition that leads to inevitable wars for control of markets and natural resources.


  • Bradford

    You said: “…“capitalism” certainly *allows*, even “facilitates” the authoritarian excesses you decry. But it does NOT *require* them.”

    Fifty years ago that may have been true, but times have changed, and I believe I have correctly outlined its necessary role in preserving the system today. Today the labeling and drugging is at levels never seen before.

    You said: “I believe that capitalism is slowly becoming more humanized, even as it becomes more un-equal.”

    With that comment you have turned reality upside down. The millions harmed by this system would seriously challenge this bogus claim.

    And where is the evidence of “…capitalism jettisoning the dead weight of psychiatry.”


  • Someone else

    Thanks for the compliment on the song. I agree with some of your comment.

    You said: “And I will point out, Richard, that the goal of those bankers is a socialist/communist type system, of course, with them at the top.”

    I don’t think we want to mix up definitions of key words. All these banks and the banking system are operating in a profit based capitalist system., where the law of value and the drive for profit dominates the economic landscape.


  • Auntie P

    Thanks for the positive remarks about the song.

    I do not think psychiatry’s PR machine “will bring the whole rotten facade down.”

    I believe we will have to tear it down ourselves. Society is becoming more and more polarized AND it seems to tolerate many extreme viewpoints in the so-called “market place of ideas.” Just look at how the System is tolerating and legitimizing Trump’s alternative universe of modern day fascism – “alternate facts” are allowed to stand next to the truth. It’s all part of the “marketplace.”

    Psychiatry’s “alternate universe” is allowed (because it is useful to the preserving the status quo) to stand right next to very devastating scientific critiques and personal stories that detail the horrors of the Medical Model. I have come to realize that the “Powers That Be” will NEVER allow this to all somehow be resolved (one way or the other) under this current political and economic system.

    Remember who controls the media and who benefits from psychiatry’s role in society.


  • Slaying the Dragon

    Thank you very much for the compliment and your comment. I am not sure Frank believes a humane form of socialism is impossible.

    I know you restrained yourself from going off on socialist ideas, and I also know on many subjects you respect and use science in your critical thinking skills, especially when you critique psychiatry.

    I genuinely would like to know what it is about your view of human nature, or of the human species, that somehow makes socialism and cooperation on the highest level impossible for human beings to achieve. Yes, there were many problems with prior experiments, but do you have some scientific evidence that these kind of systems are unachievable by the human species. And, if so, what is that specific evidence. And keep in mind that many great discoveries by human beings failed in their first attempts, only later to succeed.


  • Thanks for the comment Steve.

    I would say that genuine socialism and/or communism CANNOT be a “top down” form of governing.

    Humane and forward thinking leadership must be the kind that creates the most favorable conditions in a socialist system for more and more people from the masses of people to grow and evolve into leaders themselves.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with socialism as a system, or anything that guarantees that it will fail and/or become authoritarian.

    We are still learning and summing up past mistakes from prior revolutions. AND the we must face the fact that these experimental socialist systems were surrounded by capitalist governments whose main mission was to make sure that socialism was defeated and/or failed.

    Do you believe that capitalism and psychiatry have now become inseparably bound with the same future?


  • liittleturtle

    Thanks fr that comment.

    My “spirituality” is the human connectivity of people fighting to both understand and change the world for the better. Being a part of radical and revolutionary movements (in addition to loving family members) since the 1960’s has help keep me sane in this very insane world – it is a day to day struggle. Fortunate for me I have never been labeled (accept as a troublemaker) or drugged by the system.


  • Mi

    Psychiatry is bad where ever it is, but now we face a capitalist world where psychiatry and Big Pharma are governed by the law of value. They seek the highest rate of profit by any means necessary, including corrupting science in order to justify their pseudo-science for a bogus Medical Model. They also need to maintain social control of people and find psychiatry very useful for this purpose.

    We cannot end psychiatric abuse unless we face the reality that capitalism stands as a roadblock for ending these kinds of Human Rights violations. Capitalism is NOT the highest pinnacle of human social organization. We can do FAR BETTER than this kind of systemic insanity.


  • Lawrence

    Stop with this form of exaggerating people’s comments and putting your words in other people’s mouth. The jury is out on the question of “irreversibly damaged.”

    The question being discussed here: Is there damage from psychiatric drugs that can lead to various forms of disablement?

    Ever since I have written and commented at MIA I have ALWAYS promoted the concept of “neuroplasticity” and promoted a belief that people can get better from harm caused by psychiatry.

    You have been unfortunately promoting a mixture of “damage denial” and “blame the victim” with some of your other more appropriate criticisms of psychiatry and appropriate belief in people taking control of their lives.

    We are calling you out on these negative undercurrents in your blog and you are defensively doubling down on your inappropriate remarks. How about really listening for a change?


  • Steve

    Thanks so much for that comment. I appreciate all of your critical thinking skills when deconstructing the Medical Model. I also appreciate your willingness to be self-critical when you miss a point or misinterpret someone’s comment.

    When will Lawrence be self-critical and admit that he was promoting a theme of “blame the victim” in part of his blog?


  • Lawrence

    You said: “So by your insisting that people don’t have any of these capabilities when in reality they do have some, you are being pro-psychiatry…”

    Stop putting your words in my mouth and/or creating “straw man” arguments to cover up a wrong position. Where have I EVER said people do not have the capabilities of “choice” and “responsibility?”

    What the whole argument centers around here is: where do we place BLAME for these problems? You are making a strong case that the blame should be SHARED by the victims. Bullshit!

    So I guess women who are raped should have known better than to have worn provocative cloths and/or drank too much alcohol, and/or been alone with the rapist. According to you, they must SHARE the blame – bullshit!

    So I guess the millions of Jews should have refused to “willingly” get on the trains. They should have known better; they should have known better that the Nazis were up to no good. They should have put up more resistance, and therefore they must SHARE the blame for their ultimate demise – bullshit!

    And Black people should know better than to show attitude towards cops, show up in high risk places, and/or display any behavior that might be suspicious in any way, and therefore they must SHARE the blame for being gunned down by the cops – bullshit!

    People stuck in poverty could have made different choices in their life, and/or “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and therefore they must SHARE the blame for remaining in the bottom rungs of society – bullshit!

    You sound like Bill Cosby (we know where he ended up) when he used to moralistically preach to other Black people about SHARING blame for their remaining stuck in poverty, on welfare, and having children without two parents etc., etc. – bullshit!

    Again, in ONE TO ONE conversations with individuals in any of these particular situations we would most definitely help someone carefully sum up their choices and options in life, so they might do their best to avoid risky situations, danger, defeatist type mentalities etc.

    But on a societal level, we are talking about institutional and systemic forms of violence. In these conversations and public positions we NEVER EVER place ANY blame on the oppressed. This only serves to reinforce the ideology and programs of the oppressor.

    Lawrence, you are NOT being anti-psychiatry when you “blame the victims” of psychiatry by saying they must SHARE responsibility for their position as victims. This is bullshit!

    I usually don’t use this strong form of language in my comments. But you have refused to be self-critical of your comments, and have doubled down on your arguments while deploying specious methods of debating such important issues.


  • To Steve, Oldhead, Julie and All Others Minimizing the “blame the victim” theme in this blog:

    Reread the following quote from the blog:

    “In seeking psychiatric treatment, clients transfer responsibility for dealing with life’s struggles to medical authorities….They thus commit to and get locked into lifelong dependence on psychiatry.”


    This is a straight up “blame the victim” bullshit. There is no such thing as genuine or real “CONSENT TO TREATMENT” when people are sucked into, through false advertising and billion dollar PR campaigns, and/or coerced into psychiatry’s web of lies and oppressive forms of so-called “treatment.”

    Of course, if I had a ONE TO ONE counseling relationship and/or friendship, with someone caught up in the system, yes, I would be challenging them to take control of their life and find ways to not get caught up in any forms of “learned helplessness.

    But I would NEVER EVER make ANY broad blanket like public statements that put ANY AMOUNT of blame on the millions of victims of these oppressive institutions, like psychiatry, which both cause and perpetuate poverty and disability.

    I can’t believe some of you can’t see the serious problems with this blog, in addition to its denial of specific forms of harm done by psychiatric drugging.


  • Lawrence

    You said: “There have always been, and will always be harsh experiences in all societies, partly because man’s nature is often harsh.”

    It seems you are saying that human nature is INHERENTLY AND FOREVER “harsh?”

    This is an UNSCIENTIFIC AND STATIC VIEW of human nature that serves those who cannot see beyond a class based profit system with all its inequalities and daily forms of violence.

    A much more scientific view (both dialectical and historical) would say that human beings have the capacity to be both loving and cooperative in their nature, IF surrounded by an environment that provides for their basic needs, encourages full participation, and maintains a high level of safety.

    If the surrounding environment cannot provide the above mentioned basic conditions, then, of course, human beings can be “harsh” and even quite violent.


  • Lawrence

    No where in any of your comments do you address the fact that children and other people living in this society experience daily traumas that have their origins in various unequal and oppressive institutions OTHER than psychiatry.

    Lawrence do you believe that poverty can be a form of violence perpetrated on human beings?

    If psychiatry disappeared today, there would still be thousands of other human stressors (“Me Too” moments) arising out of the bowels of this society that would still push human beings over the proverbial edge.

    These are issues that neither you or “Slaying the Dragon” seem to want to address in your commentary.


  • Lawrence

    You are rather quickly undoing all of the “good will” and support you accumulated with some of your past blogs critical of psychiatry.

    You are clearly DENYING the growing body of evidence that psychiatric drugs perturb, alter, and disable the serotonergic, norepinephrinergic, and dopaminergic neuro-chemical processes in the brain (and in other parts of the body, especially with serotonin being in the gut system). There is clear evidence that SSRI’s reduce the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, and neuroleptics (anti-psychotics) add to the number of D2 dopamine receptors (and cause harmful metabolic changes in the body). The latter (increased D2 dopamine receptors) is the basis for the supersensitivity theory (leading to psychosis) when people too quickly taper off of anti-psychotic drugs. And benzos do serious harm to the gaba receptors in the brain, that can last for long periods of time. Some people may have permanent damage – the jury is still out on the very long term effects.

    You said “In seeking psychiatric treatment, clients transfer responsibility for dealing with life’s struggles to medical authorities….They thus commit to and get locked into lifelong dependence on psychiatry.”

    Who is primarily to blame for this dependence and what are its major components? You have presented a very strong current of “blame the victim” in the way you have characterized people’s disablement due to psychiatric mistreatment. Of course, “learned helplessness” is a factor in some of the cases of those harmed by today’s “mental health” practitioners, but this is only one small piece of the problem.

    In past discussions you have tried to say you were apolitical and you avoided addressing larger political questions. But it sounds like you might be presenting arguments here that back up Right Wing (blame the victim) views of those people stuck in poverty etc. You can’t have it both ways, that is, openly avoiding larger political discussions yet seemingly trumpeting a “conservative” analysis of why people are stuck in the underclasses.

    And finally, you said: “And drug effects can’t explain why antidepressant users decline over time, since they’re placebos.”

    You have this ALL wrong – antidepressants are ACTIVE placebos. They have a placebo effect, both because they are prescribed by a doctor and advertised as successful, AND because they are chemical agents that intrinsically make people feel different and actually alter neuro-chemical processes. This is one reason why double blind studies are corrupted because almost everyone (including the patient) knows who is actually getting the tested drug.

    Lawrence, usually I would say “you can do better than this”, but now I am not so sure where you are coming from with this type of analysis.


  • Au Valencia and All

    A very positive blog that raises many important questions.

    You said: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

    Here is where this blog falls way short in an analysis that can lead us towards ending all forms of psychiatric abuse.

    Who is the “master” and what is his “house.”

    Your blog makes no mention of the critical role of a profit based capitalist economic system in setting the terms for the perpetuation of class inequality and the violence of poverty pervading our society, and of course, extending (through Imperialist exploitation) around the world.

    Psychiatry and their entire Disease/Drug based Medical Model has evolved in to an essential component of the entire capitalist system. The pharmaceutical industry is a vital (highly profitable) cog in the U.S. economy, and the entire “mental health” system has increasingly become an important means of social control on the more volatile sections of our society.

    Labeling and drugging people is a crucial way to control and eliminate dissent.

    “Genetic theories of original sin” turn people’s focus away from institutional forms of oppression by focusing attention on inherent “genetic” flaws that need so-called “medical” solutions, and “band aids” that become new forms of mental and physical chains.

    And there can be no legitimate use of science as a liberating force for social change in society when it is constantly controlled and corrupted by those forces in society who place the bottom line of profit ahead of the search for the truth.

    Psychiatric abuse in ALL its manifestations cannot be ended within a capitalist system.

    Au Valencia, please raise your head and your sights just a little higher and begin to address these much bigger and essential questions that necessitate answers before we can truly create a world WITHOUT any form of a “mental health” system.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Bonnie

    Happy Birthday! You are indeed an inspiration to all of us.

    I really identify with how you feel such a strong sense of an historical moral imperative to guide your behavior and choices in life. These moral imperatives are obviously guided by your own personal experience in this world, and most certainly by having educated yourself politically about how institutions and power relationships operate in the world. AND of course, most fundamentally, by a deep sense of love for your fellow human beings.

    Your efforts to end Electroshock are noble, and I wish you great success in your work on the artistic front with “The Other Mrs. Smith.” Perhaps I should consider writing a new song. Soon I will be posting at MIA an anti-psychiatry song that I have been singing for the past year.

    Bonnie, keep up the great work and dedication towards liberating all of humanity from all these shackles of oppression. And especially, how you are able to focus in on the extra forms of oppression heaped upon women in this world. We must all acknowledge that tomorrow is International Women’s Day – “Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution.”

    Comradely, Richard

  • Frank

    You said: “Medicalization [of human thought, feelings, and behavior] is an example of scientism in practice.”

    This is nonsensical verbal gymnastics on your part to fit a specious argument.

    The “medicalization” that Psychiatry promotes and practices is *mythology* in practice. They have to distort and subvert scientific methodology in order to arrive at their wrong and harmful conclusions and practices. Why even give them (and it) any so-called scientific trappings by even using a word like “scientism.”

    I suggest you and Oldhead read some of the in depth debate about the history of this term, and how contentious, confusing, and politically charged many of the arguments are surrounding the use of this term.


  • Oldhead

    I see intuition, and the feelings associated with it, as representing partial knowledge (little bits and pieces of knowledge combined with one’s past experience) that leads to embryonic forms of thought and conclusions about what may or may not happen, or be anticipated to occur in someone immediate future.

    I don’t think we can separate it from past experience or one’s logic about probable events in the real world based on that experience.


  • Frank

    You said: “We don’t need more people applying the scientific method where it can’t, or shouldn’t, be applied.”

    Once again, please tell me where are those places where it can’t or shouldn’t be applied?

    You said: “Logic is not the truth. Logic is a method for determining what the truth actually is, and of distinguishing that truth from falsehood.”

    Exactly Frank, and that is also exactly what science is suppose to do.

    And you can never be TOO good at either logic or science. And to say you can be, is a way (for some people) to diminish the importance of science, and thus leave the door open for superstition to guide one’s thinking. And we see all the dark places where that has led human beings in the past.

    And Frank, behaviorism denies the role and importance of consciousness. I would never deliberately do that. Please tell me where you think I might have done that in any of my writings.

    The use of the nonsensical “scientism” term is a backward step in ANY discussions critiquing Psychiatry and psychiatric oppression. It cannot be justified, and no one here has come close to making a legitimate case for its value in these discussions.


  • Frank

    I would truly like to plead guilty to “scientism,” but the nonsensical, contradictory, controversial, and inconsistent use of the term, prevents me from doing so.

    Even the defining type quotes you chose above make my case for why this term should never be used in these discussions.

    “excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.”

    We need MORE people being scientific, and thinking scientifically in this world, NOT LESS. Just look at the horrible crimes perpetrated against other human being by those who follow superstition.

    Let’s take the words “rational” and “logical,” can there really be such a [negative] thing as being “too rational” and/or “too logical”? You could only answer, yes, in instances where people somehow lacked an understanding of other people’s emotions. And even here we can draw “rational” and “logical ” conclusions about how such behavior may need to explore a deeper understanding of how humans are effected in these situations.

    Frank, what are those things in the world to which we cannot somehow apply some aspect of the scientific method? And for those things to which TODAY we cannot seemingly do this, who says that TOMORROW we may not find a way to explore these questions in a scientific way?

    And Frank, for those things that you do not think science is currently useful or helpful for, are you willing to trust religion, or some other faith based and/or superstitious belief system to provide the answer?


  • Oldhead

    First you quote me as follows:

    “They are instead being dishonest, manipulative, deceptive etc. etc. etc. and the list goes on.”

    Then you follow that up with a one liner that reads:

    “Exactly. And they have it down to a science.”

    You know damn well that YOUR USE of the word “science” here is NOT the meaning of “science” throughout the two blogs in question. Come on, let’s have a dialogue that reflects the essential meaning of these words.

    Then you ask me the question:

    “Are you suggesting though that “science” should replace religion in determining what behavior is “moral”?

    I would ask you: do we need religion to have morality? Were human beings acting in moral ways BEFORE the advent of religion? Can atheists be moral human beings?

    And if we look at the essential content of the Bible, we can hardly call this a bastion of morality. And if we look at a sizeable percentage of those who strictly follow religious teachings, can we call them people who act in moral ways, or even profess a set of behaviors that could be classified as consistently moral?

    You already know what my answers are to these questions.

    And since you threw the ultimate bate here, YES, if science was somehow used to help determine those behaviors and material conditions on earth that would afford human beings the very best opportunities to live a free, non exploitative, and just human existence, it would be FAR superior than what any so-called religion could offer.

    And any careful examination of the historical role of religion and its overall effect on human beings would bear out my above statement. And I have no reason to not think this will be the case in the future.


  • Oldhead

    You described “scientism” as the following: “…I would read the term as referring to the embracing of “science” as some embrace religion, i.e. as a dogma to believe in rather than as a tool to help understand the material world…”

    Even your attempt at defining this highly misused and confusing term in NO WAY shows how it represents, or helps explain what is fundamentally wrong with Psychiatry’s approach to developing the disease/drug based Medical Model.

    They are not way using science in a “religious” way. That is, believing in science too strongly or with too much fervor etc. They are totally DEVIATING from the scientific method and using very distorted and corrupted methodology to arrive at their bogus conclusions. The only sense that your use of a religious analogy would be, is that they base all of their conclusions on FAITH, not real scientific evaluation of facts in the real world.

    And Psychiatry is NOT being “scientific,” or “TOO scientific,” when they deceive the public with their pseudo-scientific claims. They are instead being dishonest, manipulative, deceptive etc. etc. etc. and the list goes on.

    Oldhead, don’t forget that there is a whole segment of the population that is very much threatened by legitimate science (or TOO much science), and they need to place certain limits on its acceptance as an important way of analyzing the world around us. This is, because it seriously challenges and threatens those who place a great deal of dependence on faith based belief systems to determine behavioral and moral choices in life. More often than not, these same people will fall out on the “conservative” spectrum, that is, defending the status quo and criticizing those seeking Revolutionary change in the world.


  • To all

    Once again Dr Sami Timimi has ruined a potentially good blog by repeatedly using the term “scientism” (even in the title) to describe psychiatry’s pseudoscience as it applies to the ADHD diagnosis.

    The term “scientism” is completely nonsensical and confusing in this context and undermines the goals of anyone who is trying to present a critical analysis of the oppressive disease/drug based model of Psychiatry.

    noun: scientism

    thought or expression regarded as characteristic of scientists.
    excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.”

    The term “scientism” is most often used as a way to criticize GENUINE scientists for over emphasizing the power and role of science in seeking truth and creating a more just and moral world.

    Modern Psychiatry is in NO WAY being TOO scientific in their efforts to convince people that human psychological distress is based in faulty genes and brain diseases, AND allegedly requires psychiatric drugs (not “medications”) to “fix” all these “chemical imbalances” in the brain.

    The reality here is the exact OPPOSITE of what Psychiatry has both posited, and executed in their theory and practice. They are NOT using a real scientific methodology in their psychiatric diagnoses, and they are guilty (in so many ways) of totally corrupting the scientific method throughout their entire efforts to promote their Medical Model.

    I am amazed and dumbfounded as to why most of the commenters here at MIA seem to suspend all their critical thinking skills and allow the use of the term “scientism” to go completely unchallenged. Using this term is not just utterly confusing, but also undermines our efforts to expose this oppressive Medical Model.

    Dr. Timimi says the following:

    “I was astonished to realise that ADHD had been conjured into existence by a few people’s imaginations without evidential basis. The evidence then brought forward avoided the scientific methodology and ignored the ‘null hypothesis’ (the basic and starting assumption that ADHD does not represent a characteristic natural entity, which should be assumed until concrete evidence is presented that shows that this null hypothesis cannot be true).”

    Using Dr. Timimi’s own words here, WHERE THE HELL is there even a USEFUL definition of the term “scientism” that has ever been used in either of his two blogs? And he has even placed this term in the title, as if it were somehow a negative critique of Psychiatry. He has, in no way, even attempted to prove that the word “scientism” has ANY legitimate meaning when critiquing what is wrong with the Medical Model.

    The word “scientism” is a highly contested and confusing term which leads ALL of us away from our goals of applying a consistent and accurate analysis of Psychiatry’s negative and oppressive role in the world.

    And as a secondary criticism, Dr. Timimi continues to use the word “medication” to describe psychiatric drugs. Once again, I will point out that both Psychiatry and Big Pharma has spent several hundred billion dollars on the the world’s largest PR campaign attempting (quite successfully) to convince people all over the world that their mind altering drugs are some form of “medication.” We should never concede them the ability and right to use this false terminology. Changing language is a critical part of any historical movement for social change. Let’s start NOW!

    I wanted to like Dr. Timimi’s blog; he does provide some very good critical analysis of the ADHD diagnosis. But his reckless and cavalier use of the term “scientism” sticks out like a sore thumb and undermines the essential content of a potentially good blog.


  • Lawrence

    Good blog.

    Agree with Oldhead; better without the American chauvinism and the promotion of “American Exceptionalism.”

    AND, you/we don’t need Freud to explain the underlying basis of “free will.”

    In the “five stages of change” theory, the “pre-contemplation” and “preparation” stages are a far better explanation for brain activity preceding any actual behavior change.


  • Joanna

    You raise some good points.

    I believe this is where the term “consensus reality” has some serious limitations and problems in meaning.

    If the “consensus” is based on an inaccurate interpretation of the real world (the material world independent of our own individual thoughts reflecting that world), and/or the “consensus” is based on the social groupings of humans promoting and allowing any forms of exploitative and/or potentially traumatic type experiences to exist among them, then all forms of human “validation” will now be corrupted and ultimately lead to more extreme forms of psychological distress.


  • Oldhead

    You sometimes bring nit-picking to absolutely absurd levels. Instead of going after and deepening an analysis of the American chauvinism and narrowness displayed in some of these above comments, you wasted time and space on trivial points in my comment.

    Anybody truly aware of what is taking in this country knows that Trump, AND his overtly fascist agenda, represents a dangerous leap in efforts by the ruling class to clamp down within this society.

    And it was Trump who tried to say there were “two sides” to the fascists who marched in Charlotsville. Posing the above question to Lawrence, using Trump as an example, was necessary and very appropriate in making comparisons in the above political challenge to him.

    And today’s modern psychiatry IS Biological Psychiatry. This terminology has very important historical meaning an implications for what is going on in the world today.

    Yes, all psychiatry is scientifically and philosophically flawed and oppressive as an institution in society, and must be abolished. But we can’t ignore the level and totality of the newer forms of oppression brought forward by the advent of BIOLOGICAL Psychiatry.

    If you can’t, or do not want to, engage in a deeper analysis of what developed over the last 4 decades, then this is your loss. But please stop wasting time and focus from what is important here.


  • Lawrence

    You said: “I don’t have strong political views. I can see both sides’ points.”

    We live in a world where it is becoming more and more difficult for people to straddle fences. Especially when those fences are becoming as sharp as razor blades. Fence sitting can soon become a dangerous and bloody mess in these kind of times. Just ask those Germans who stood aloof and hesitated in the 1930’s. AND what do you currently see (or want to unite with) on Trump’s side of the fence, or rather, wall?

    Political indecision, political “neutrality,” and/or intellectual laziness in these times, is to abandon any kind of moral compass and eventually morph into becoming part of THE problem.

    You said : “We seem to have achieved this without oppressing people as much as in other nations (with the obvious exception of slavery). That’s why so many people have always wanted to leave their lands to come here.”

    This statement contains a great deal of American chauvinism and/or ignorance. The U.S. is an Imperialist empire whose high standard of living has been accumulated over the last century on the backs of many Third World countries.

    U.S based atrocities did not somehow end with the Civil War. What about the 2-3 million Asian people who died because of the U.S. led Vietnam war of plunder? What about the 500 thousand to one million Iraqi people who died from the largest “drive by shooting” on the planet earth?

    AND what about the political despots propped up in El Salvador and Guatemala who unleashed (U.S. trained) death squads and mass political terror on indigenous populations resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths?

    Do you REALLY wonder why desperately poor people from those above mentioned countries (that U.S. Imperialism has kept in a state of enforced backwardness) want to come to America???

    Is it because they truly worship the American Dream and all the so-called (partial) freedoms we have? Or are they making a basic human survival choice enforced on them by the inherent inequalities of profit based systems that divides up a planet in to “have” and “have not ” countries.

    Lawrence, I respect your work here at MIA, and support many of your critiques of everything that is wrong with Psychiatry and their entire paradigm of so-called “treatment.”

    You said: “My goal is thus to correct psychiatry’s lies so people will realize they have the power/ability to choose/pursue their own paths.”

    I would argue that you (and anyone else joining you) will fail miserably at this goal if you attempt to remain politically neutral and/or aloof from the political realities facing us all. And this means drawing very clear links between Biological Psychiatry and the oppressive profit based system from which it was spawned, AND whose existence depends upon it ability to help maintain social control of its people.


  • Lawrence

    You are conducting this entire discussion about “desire” and “ability” to work in the U.S. without EVER mentioning or discussing the huge elephant sitting in the room.

    What is the fundamental relationship of those potential workers (who are labeled and/or acting “disabled”) to the means of production, and to those who own and control the means of production?

    This is would be like discussing the lack of “motivation” and “desire” of a certain number of slaves (prior to the U.S. Civil War) who may have been crushed by their position as slaves, or engaged in some form of resistance by refusing to work.

    Most workers in this country (even those not politically conscious) are aware on some level that they are being exploited.

    Remember that under capitalism workers are given wages that reflect only a PARTIAL portion of the value that they have created and impart on the goods they produce. Also, relationships between people in such a society are also quite often turned into commodity type relationships that are highly alienating.

    While this level of oppression (for wage workers) does not compare to the forms of oppression under chattel slavery, it is still VERY MUCH an exploitative relationship. AND it MUST be taken into consideration of ANY discussion of “motivation” and “desire” of those living in this society, including ALL those coming into contact with Psychiatry.

    Any genuine scientist must examine ALL FACTORS in the environment in which the experiment (and the evaluation of such an experiment) is taking place. You consistently seem to want to avoid such discussions. If you are serious about ending all psychiatric oppression, you are going to have to start addressing these issues.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Bob

    Great investigative journalism that reveals some very important kernels of change (of worldwide significance) emerging within the Israeli “mental health” system.

    I would like to raise 3 questions/concerns regarding some of the particular details revealed in this blog. I raise these to promote further discussion and debate regarding some contentious issues involved in trying create a paradigm shift in the world. These are NOT criticisms meant to undermine the overall importance of this great blog.

    1) Bob you said: “If this initiative succeeds Soteria homes will become a centerpiece of Israeli psychiatry.”

    I think this statement tends to overestimate what this experiment is doing within the Israeli “mental health” system. Even though there are clearly some more open minded visionaries working in this system willing to experiment, they are up against some powerful forces in the pharmaceutical industry and the APA. All it will take is a few serious setbacks for THE System to discredit these alternative programs (and its leaders) and to reinforce the value of hospital incarceration and drugging as a quick and easier form of social control.

    We cannot forget that we here in the U.S., and those citizens in Israel, live in despotic/pseudo-democratic regimes built upon a foundation of profound forms of imperialistic oppression. Changes of the magnitude required to fundamentally end all forms of psychiatric oppression, ultimately run up against an inherent need by current governments and institutions to maintain maximum control of any forms of social unrest. This statement is NOT meant to undercut these developments but only present a more sobering approach as to what may be required to actually achieve this paradigm shift.

    2) Pesach Lichenberg is quoted in his description of the Soteria experiment by saying “…What could be done, he wondered, to exploit the placebo to its maximum? Couldn’t a different setting help achieve that?”

    It must be pointed out here that the Soteria environment is NOT an example of the “Placebo Effect.” Everything described about this radically new environment for recovery, is the exact antithesis of what can be expected from a psychiatric hospital experience, including with the massive amount of psychiatric drugging. In fact, it is vitally necessary to make the point that there are huge differences in what participants in these programs will experience related to the characteristics of “respect,” “love,” “nurturance,” “boundaries,” “safety, and especially, the absence of no (or very little) psychiatric drugging.

    3) And finally, Bob, I need to continue an important contentious dialogue regarding the use of the language describing psychiatric drugs as “medications.” While this might seem like nit-picking, or very trivial when looking at the importance of promulgating the lessons of the Soteria experience, I strongly believe it is necessary to once again raise this issue.

    In this article, both you and others go back and forth using the terms “psychiatric drugs” and “medications” interchangeably. When “psychiatric drugs” is used it is very clear what the meaning is and does not somehow make your comments sound like an “outlier.” In fact, I often read hardcore biological psychiatrists use the term “psychiatric drugs” when describing their prescriptions as the centerpiece of their so-called “treatment” modality.

    However, when you and others slip back into referring to these drugs as “medications,” it is reinforcing one of the centerpieces of the entire Medical Model of so-called “treatment.” Bob, everyone of your books has exposed the myth of these drugs being some form of “magic bullet medication” targeting “diseases” or “chemical imbalances” in the brain. Your books, along with those of Peter Breggin and other critics of Biological Psychiatry, have exposed the fact that Big Pharma and other Medical Model proponents, have literally spent several billion of dollars on highly crafted PR campaigns convincing the worldwide public that their mind altering drugs are “medications.”

    Bob, wouldn’t it be a good thing, if every so often someone said to you (and others, avoiding the “medication” term), “Hey, I noticed that you seem to always use the term “psychiatric drugs” and avoid saying “medication,” why is that?”

    Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to explain the huge difference in this terminology, and why you choose not to want to reinforce, or somehow support, the dangerous myths promoted by the Medical Model. By doing this you WILL NOT in any way be undermining your credibility (or scientific credentials) by somehow avoiding the term “medication,” but you will only be maintaining a clear consistency of a well thought out scientific and political narrative.

    We cannot underestimate the overall importance of making specific language changes (from “medication” to “psychiatric drugs”) in our efforts to seek a paradigm change on a world scale. Any serious examination of prior significant historic movements, would validate the importance of changing language as part of these historic shifts. Let’s start the consistency of this language change NOW!

    Great work, Bob. Carry on! You inspire us all.


  • Tom Petty’s death was NO accident!

    The title should be: “Mainstream Pharmacy is Causing the Poly-drug Crisis.”

    Calling this crisis an “opioid crisis” is a misnomer that leads people far away from solving these problems. Very rarely does anyone die from a single dose of a single drug.

    While it is a good thing that other drugs like benzos are now being exposed as a major factor in the poly-drug overdose crisis. there is absolutely NO ACCOUNTABILITY for these crimes of medical negligence.

    This article still repeats the lie that Tom Petty and all these other famous, and not so famous people, died from “…an accidental drug overdose.” These are NOT ACCIDENTS. When someone like Tom Petty is prescribed multiple forms of opiates AND TWO benzos, this is criminal negligence or manslaughter by a medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry that knows better and continues to puts its own power and profit above public responsibility.


  • Ron

    You said: “It’s kind of humbling to many to recognize that our “sanity” is not based squarely on rationality, but on a mix of rationality with more arbitrary factors, something perhaps even more like spiritual revelation.”

    Your reference to “spiritual revelation” needs to be clarified. I do not view this “spiritual” necessity in a religious sense, but in the sense of the need for “human connectivity.”

    In order for us to truly believe that our “rationality” about the world makes complete sense, is to have VALIDATION from other human beings in our social group.

    It is very difficult to sustain oneself as a “voice in the wilderness” for an extended period of time. Loss of sanity usually comes when someone is engaged in a perpetual dialogue within themselves with no “validation” from other people around them.


  • To All MIA Readers

    This is a great series of articles on the poly-drug (opioid) overdose crisis. It clearly breaks journalistic ground by expanding the research and depth of reporting on all types of drugs involved in this crisis. We should encourage everyone to spread these articles far and wide.


  • Lawrence

    You said: ” And someone’s behavior, unless it’s the result of a real disease like seizures, is the result of their CHOICE.” [my emphasis]

    I completely disagree with this implied meaning; it falls into a “blame the victim” view of troubled behaviors prevalent throughout our society.

    For example, the most obvious disputed description of addiction, is that “addiction is a choice.” In fact, someone actually wrote a book with this title. Even though I agreed with the main themes of the book which were taking on the “disease” theory of addiction, I thought the title was terrible.

    When someone experiments with drugs at age 13, they are NOT making a choice to become an “addict.” “Yea, I think by the time I’m 21, I want to be totally dependent on heroin, living in the street and stealing for my next fix.”

    Addiction is a process, that may occurs over many years, and can sort of creep on some people BEFORE they really know what is happening to themselves.

    However, once someone becomes more fully aware of their addiction and begins to understand the possibility of recovery (or has experienced some period of abstinence) then, YES, further use of the substance (or a relapse), is a now clearly a Choice. They must understand (as an individual) that their ability to change is largely in their own hands, so to speak. Of course to rid society of addiction on a broader scale, will require major systemic changes in our overall society.

    If you don’t understand the difference I just outlined above you will fall into a “blame the victim” approach to describing society’s “symptoms” that manifest themselves in people’s behaviors.

    This same above description would apply to ANY of the so-called “mental disorders” and behaviors that get psychiatrically labeled, including “EDs.”


  • Julie

    You said: “I went on a diet for religious reasons. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist.”

    When I made my above comments about “obsessive” behaviors and discussed some of the psychological factors (especially as it pertains to women and trauma in our society), I was NOT trying to say this necessarily applied to YOUR particular story. Your blog tended to downplay psychological factors in response to the environment and I felt it was necessary to give some explanations where this could be the case.

    You have made a case for dieting to be a cause of so-called “EDs,” but overall for most women in society dieting flows out of some of the factors I discussed above about “standards of beauty” and the cultural pressures on women to be thin in this society. Do you not agree that this is a factor?

    And I would say that almost all “EDs” have some connection to the history and depth of patriarchy penetrating every pore of our society.


  • Julie

    Thanks for this very interesting and provocative blog on so-called eating “disorders” and the various ways the current “mental health” system “treats” them. You have covered a lot of territory and revealed some of contradictory understandings and approaches to helping people deal with these problems. It is very clear (as with all the other so-called “mental disorders”) we cannot, and should not, trust the current System to provide a clear understanding and/or safe forms of help for these problems.

    I would like to raise some comments and questions to help in the search for a greater understanding of these problems so we can get to better solutions.

    You said: “What does this mean? This means that for many of us, the drive to binge is a physical need. Therapy blames the patient for “bad coping” when all she is doing is responding to her body’s signals.”

    The above point you are making does not convince me that there is not an issue of “coping ” here. Of course no one should be “blamed” for anything related to these problems. BUT, all the physical signals you describe here, starting in the pancreas (alerting the body that a binge is imminent) may be very real, but they could have origins in a person’s thought patterns. A person may have a pattern of possibly binging at night and this may be preceded by certain thought patterns that are related to (and trigger) anxiety and/or some type of anticipation of an impending binge. The binge might provide some temporary “relief” from this anxiety, but as we know over the long run it may actually add to a person’s anxiety due to the many problems these behaviors can cause for people.

    We do know that a high percentage of people with these problems (as with most all other psych labels) have a history of some type of trauma in their lives. Trauma causes excessive levels of sustained anxiety combined with other issues of low self esteem and deep shame. This is especially true for many women who live in this society. This is related to the overwhelmingly strong tendency of men to objectify the female body (due to patriarchy) and so-called standards of “beauty” heavily imposed on young girls in our society.

    People will naturally seeks a means to resolve this problems. For some this may involved “obsessively” controlling their intake of food while seeking some order in the face of perceived AND actual chaos in their lives. This can also (for some) evolve into a desire to “disappear” (anorexia), and for others, the opposite tendency to pack on the layers of fat, where both tendencies represent, either a desire to remove any outward signs of sexual maturation and/or physical characteristics that would make them more of sexual “object” to men in this society. These patterns of coping mechanisms (and the emotions attached to them) can become deeply ingrained habits and behaviors that are difficult for people to break away from.

    These types of pressures (especially on women) in our society are huge and often manifest themselves in “unconscious” forms of thoughts and behavior for many young people. They can evolve into a set of eating patterns and behaviors that travel with that person into adulthood.

    So, of course, everything I am saying here is an indictment of the culture within our entire society, and an attempt to get at a deeper understanding of the multiple forms of unrecognized trauma that many young people endure growing up in today’s world. AND it is no accident that the U.S. contains some of the highest rates of the two extremes of anorexia and obesity in the world.

    So I am saying here that these problems are very complex. Yes, there may be some physical components that we are not yet aware of, but there is definite evidence of many psychological components that are directly connected to a very stressful and ‘sick” culture that we all forced to grow up in and endure over our lifetimes.


  • Uprising

    I agree with you and Steve on this question. The following quote is from my long comment on Sera Davidow’s recent blog:

    “…NONE of my above conclusions means we should not build struggle and resistance AND/OR alternative forms of systems for those who need help. These are all important ways to expose these forms of human oppression, educate broader numbers of people, bring more people into resistance against the status quo, and save some people along the way. BUT there will be no FUNDAMENTAL type of change in what we all abhor until we grasp the necessity of moving on to a new historical era where capitalism is replaced by a more humane form of socialism.”


  • Oldhead

    Susan made a good comment. Her point about “convincing the powers that be” is consistent with her statement that the future of Psychiatry is inseparably bound to the future of capitalism. If you believe Psychiatry can end BEFORE the end of capitalism, then in essence your strategy would involve “convincing” the ruling class to let go of Psychiatry. Psychiatry has become too important and too big to be allowed (by the “powers that be”) to fail.


  • So, I guess according to Robert Nikkel, those who believe in making revolutionary changes in this world as it pertains to ending ALL forms of psychiatric abuse, are advocating for nothing more than a form of “PSYCHIATRIC NIHILISM.”

    Definition of nihilism: “…the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless…”

    The tone and content of this blog quite often comes across as arrogant and reveals ignorance about the actual nature of many abolisionist positions relative to anti-psychiatry.

    Robert Nickel has presented the classic “straw man” characterization of an anti-psychiatry position and then proceeds to mock and ridicule it with this hysterical and ominous prediction of how the world would simply fall apart if efforts were made to abolish Psychiatry and the oppressive disease/drug based Medical Model it has spawned.

    Anti-psychiatry positions articulated at MIA and other places in this society are far more advanced, filled with morality and compassion, and nuanced than his completely simplistic and self serving characterization of “psychiatric nihilism.”

    Robert Nikkel says: “These changes are of such magnitude that a planning process, if it was taken seriously… would take many years and yield endless reports because this is obviously a complete re-conceptualization of how [mental health] challenges would be handled. It would require a complete overhaul of how any remaining supports and services would be funded, and how entirely new training programs would be created.”

    “I can guarantee that this would bring lobbyists from every profession (not just psychiatry) and every pharmaceutical corporation out of the woodwork. No legislator would touch it with a one-hundred-foot pole.”

    Robert’s above comment does contain some truths, and herein lies his HUGE error in ridiculing, misconceptualizing, and then characterizing ALL anti-psychiatry positions as being hopelessly monolithic.

    Some of us (I noticed he did not quote any of my writings) have linked the future of psychiatry (because of its critical role of social control and the profitability in the pharmaceutical industry) to the future of the entire capitalist system.

    Ending Psychiatry (based on the depths of its overall influence and power in society ) ultimately involves a complete overhaul of all major institutions in our society, including property relations, and the dominant role of profit in the economy, which corrupts almost all our science, and the functioning of every existing social service agency in our society.

    And Robert, even if you (and others) DO NOT believe such revolutionary changes are possible, I would still say that your analysis lacks an understanding of the overall depths of oppression that Psychiatry wreaks on millions of people today, because you forecast DOOM if somehow it were to suddenly disappear. I have FAR MORE faith in the compassion an ingenuity of the masses to find OTHER ways to help people in psychological distress than the current horror that Psychiatry and their sick system has to offer.