Saturday, August 18, 2018

Comments by Richard D. Lewis

Showing 100 of 1157 comments. Show all.

  • Shaun

    Thanks for reading the blog and your positive feedback.

    I get the clear sense that you are trying to do the best you can for the people you work with, and that your education here is a work in progress.

    Just be aware that merely expanding the depth of your explanation of “informed Consent” does not in any way solve all your the ethical dilemmas here, or does it necessarily absolve you of responsibility for possible harm done to people affected by this system.

    First off, there is no such thing as true *informed consent* given all the major power differentials and the billions of dollars spent each year to propagandize the Medical Model.

    And there can never EVER be true *Informed Consent* when it comes to Electro-Shock. And your comparison of ECT and EMDR, would be like comparing the “stoning” of a person to giving someone a sauna bath.

    I have used EMDR to help people, and I am convinced by all the testing that has been done, and by the benefits I have personally witnessed.

    Electro-Shock (ECT), on the other hand, is barbaric, and there is more than enough evidence (both scientific and personal stories) to abolish its use forever. I think you need to go into MIA’s archives and read up on the numerous articles on this topic.


  • To Kindredspirit , Sera, and others

    I believe it is both possible AND necessary (in the course of building political movements today) to raise issues of racism, including the horrible history of slavery and all its remaining legacy that is still VERY MUCH alive today.

    I also believe that most white working class people can AND will (over time) be able to recognize the unique history of racial oppression, while also waging struggle with POC to transform the world into a world free of ALL forms of exploitation and related forms of racial, sexual etc… divisions.

    HOWEVER, this will NOT happen by either white or Black activists insisting NOW that ALL white people must FIRST renounce their *White Skin Privilege* and then blindly accept what may be questionable definitions of racism, such as using the “slavery analogy” as it applies to psychiatric oppression and/or “wage slavery” that references higher forms of slavery in the capitalist system.

    All of these sort of changes (including understanding white privileges in society) in thinking and institutional transformations will be a long complicated process with many twists and turns.

    Kindredspirit is correct to raise the importance of a class analysis here, but part of that very important class analysis IS, and MUST BE, a recognition of the unique position and critically important role of Black people (and other POC) in the overall struggle to build socialism and a truly classless society.


  • Oldhead

    I completely “get” what you are saying, and this is pretty much exactly how I responded to this issue in the above mentioned blog. And at that time my comment and overall analysis was completely ignored.

    This “movement,” and people such as political activists like myself, all contain elements of racism and other birthmarks from this class based capitalist system. HOWEVER, this DOES NOT in any way characterize the principle aspect of their identity and/or their overall role in the world, which is definitely NOT “racist.”

    The following comment linked here is my best summation of what was wrong with that past blog and Sera’s role in it:

    And this linked comment also addresses how unfairly you, Humanbeing, and others were treated in that blog comment section.


  • Sera

    Thanks for responding.

    Let me clarify something about my “feelings” in all this. While I am not immune to effects of labeling, I have far too much experience in revolutionary politics over 45 years to take things too “personal” in these kind of struggles.

    I am mainly “hurt” by the divisiveness of this particular political struggle, and the potential damage that this form of *Identity Politics* can do to important political movements, including right here at MIA. And I am deeply invested in the struggle against psychiatric abuse, and genuinely care for the people I have become acquainted with through my involvement here at MIA.

    And that “hurt” involves seeing how this well-intentioned effort to expose racism, so quickly devolved (because of the political errors related to *Identity Politics*) into pitting formerly united (on some limited levels) activists against each other. This went far beyond people just being defensive because you and the other authors said they don’t REALLY understand racism.

    And that disappointment also involves my particular relationship with you, which has a history of mutual support at MIA, and includes certain social interactions on other levels you are aware of.

    If you carefully examine how that blog comment section progressed, you can clearly see that very important opportunities to educate people about racism in America were sidetracked, and ultimately derailed by some of your own blind spots, including a failure to combine and apply a genuine class analysis to your noble efforts to combat racism.

    I hope you will also admit that you just might have some “blind spots” when it comes to adopting the correct methods and approach to advancing the political struggle against racism, sexism etc.

    And I do wonder if you have attempted to read, or have been exposed to any genuine Marxist type historical analyses of *Identity Politics.* And to clarify here (as Uprising has suggested), I am not using the term *Identity Politics* in the same way Liberals used it to sum up the defeat of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

    And do you even believe that *Identity Politics* has any negative connotations, or that it can ever become a problem in political movements?

    And finally, as to the “racist label” I would ask the following two questions: Is the current movement against psychiatric abuse (with all its limitations and different and divergent strands) a “racist movement?” And leaving aside all my personal feelings, is Richard D. Lewis “racist.?”

    I believe how one answers these two questions says volumes about some of the important political questions being debated here.


  • Uprising

    I agree that sometimes these political terms are co-opted and misapplied by Right Wing or or other backward forces. So yes, there might be a need in some discussions to clarify its definition and meaning so as to avoid any misunderstanding.

    Although. I would say that if Sera read ALL the comments (and deeply thought about them) she should know that we were NOT misusing this important political terminology.

    If people were to read the above mentioned blog (and I think we all should reread it even if we were involved in the discussion), AND especially the entire comment section, they would have a fairly in depth lesson in the nature of *Identity Politics* as it manifests itself today, and why it is so divisive and harmful to political movements trying to change the world.


  • Sera

    I find it amazing (though not totally out of the ordinary in political movements) how I can be so completely in agreement and emotionally and politically touched by your most recent blog, “Suicidal Tendencies, Part III”, and at the same time be so in disagreement with a major theme in your joint blog with Iden Campbell and Earl Miller, titled “A Racist Movement Cannot Move.”

    My role in the comment section of that blog is one of my proudest moments as a blogger/commenter here at MIA. I say that not necessarily because it was the best of my writings here, but instead, because of just how complicated, delicate and potentially treacherous that dialogue was through all its twists and turns. AND most importantly, how dangerous and divisive *identity Politics* can be when it takes hold in any particular political movement, and why it must be vigorously opposed. I am convinced that this type of political trend at MIA could have a disintegrating effect, on a similar level as allowing Scientology to become a presence at MIA.

    Again, it saddens me that we agree on so many other important issues here at MIA, but are currently still at loggerheads on this issue.

    AND I will also say that I am still saddened, and yes, hurt by the fact that you have never apologized and/or retracted your statements in that comment section that essentially labeled me as a “racist.” I will post here a link to my response in that particular dialogue challenging your “racist” labeling of certain people (including me) and of the “movement against psychiatric abuse,” of which we are both a part of.

    Here is the link to my past comment in response to that inappropriate and politically wrong labeling: To be fair, for anyone interested enough to draw thorough going conclusions regarding this topic, it would require reading the entire blog AND comment section.

    Sera, you are correct in most all of your attempts to point out the harmful effects of the use of certain terminology,words, phrases etc. that continue to reinforce racism, sexism, psychiatric labeling and all other forms of bigotry and divisiveness in the world. I have been very supportive of almost all of your writings on these topics and will continue to do so, even if you never seek resolution of the above mentioned slurring of me and my political position on *Identity Politics.*

    But I would also add, that if you do not find a way to further investigate and seek some study and understanding of the corrosive nature of *Identity Politics,* it will come back to bite you in future political encounters and undermine your ability to maximize your overall impact on ending psychiatric abuse and all other forms of human oppression in the world.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Shaun

    And as a further commentary on your above comment: you said: “Most people in the system, both clients and staff, believe that it’s a helpful system overall.”

    Unfortunately, we all know this to be the case at this time in history. The KEY question here is: What do YOU think is the true and accurate assessment of the current “mental health” system.

    If you believe, as I do, that it causes FAR MORE harm than good, then you MUST (as a moral imperative) act accordingly. And this means (if you carefully analyze the overall situation) that you NEVER EVER use any ‘force’ on those you are entrusted to help.


  • Shaun

    You said: ” I think that it’s unrealistic to ask clinicians to not follow the law. We have invested time, money, and energy into getting education and training to do what we do.”

    My response to you is as follows: Is it unrealistic to ask clinicians and other professionals to TO NOT HARM the very people they claim they are helping!?

    DO NO HARM is the most fundamental precept that should guide ALL our actions when entrusted to be a helping professional.

    AND if it can be proven that the overall use of ‘force’ causes FAR MORE harm than good, than you MUST (as a moral imperative) take all the ethical and legal risks to protect people from harm by NEVER subjecting them ANY forms of ‘force.’

    And Shaun, based on your above response, it is very clear to me that you have not yet read the blog I provided a link for above. Please read this blog along with the entire comment section and THEN tell me it is okay to continue using ‘force’ in your job.

    And BTW, my above short comment clarified my misuse of the “mandated reporting” terminology.


  • Sera and Shaun

    This is exactly true. Where I use to work a clinician could have less than a 5 minute conversation with a doctor and this could lead to a chain reaction of events that would strip a person of all Constitutional Rights, force them in a hospital, which could then lead to being tied down to a gurney and forcibly drugged. And who knows how long this horrible odyssey would continue and how damaged that person would become if they were able to physically survive.

    This is the state of present day “freedom and justice” in America.


  • Sera

    I agree that my use of the terminology “mandated reporting” here was confusing and did not consider the whole issue of protecting children and the elderly.
    Thanks for pointing that out.

    I believe it is more correct to say that there are ethical standards in our profession that say we are “mandated” to report individuals (to doctors, police, and/or crisis centers) who are suicidal, which is what I was trying to focus on.


  • Steve and ALL

    Everything you say is true. So why mess with some fundamental principles and a particular format that got us here? Once again, I am NOT against changes that improve things, but there is simply NO reasonable justification to suddenly hide the comment section from readers, and create a COMMENT BAR that readers must click on to see other readers comments.

    Since you still have an independent voice here, please give me one good reason that makes any sense for making THIS particular change at this time. Again, I am not talking about all the other proposed changes.

    At first I was NOT inclined to think (as some of the other people’s criticisms have suggested) that some of the other proposed changes were meant to diminish and/or limit certain more radical perspectives here at MIA. Now I am not so sure.

    What reason (please tell me, some one out there) could there be for having a COMMENT BAR, other than to have readers avoid seeing the very first (or first few) comments in the comment section?

    Now since there are a certain relatively small number of regular readers and commenters that are more often on the anti-psychiatry (or close to that perspective) side of things, AND they often can be very politically incisive (IMHO, usually very insightful), and that includes their ability to point out problematic formulations and ideas, there is a higher probability that they might end up being the first, or one of the first commenters under a blog.

    This is really a random phenomena, and I am often surprised when it happens that I end up having the first opportunity to be the very first to comment under a blog. I try to take full advantage of this opportunity, but I approach EACH AND EVERY COMMENT the same.

    Which means, I always point out things that are positive in the blog and that I agree with, BEFORE I move onto any particular criticisms. But I can sometimes be harsh on what I view as very harmful or arrogant perspectives. However, in all this I believe I am quite civil in my discourse and dialogue.

    My comments number well over a thousand, and I believe I have only been moderated maybe three times in 7 years or so, and this involved some form of sarcasm. And even though I am politically on the anti-psychiatry side of things, one of my moderated comments was actually directed towards another anti-psychiatry commenter (that’s a whole other story).

    So my major point here is that there is a higher probability that a more radical perspective may end up in the very first comment under any particular blog. This raises the question: is this policy meant to avoid having “sensitive” people see these very first few comments for fear that it may somehow “drive them away” from MIA.

    I say then , WHAT ABOUT all those people who read a mediocre, boring, or politically “bad” blog, and want to leave (or give up on) the MIA website, but are suddenly intrigued, then impressed, and then highly stimulated to become a regular reader after seeing the very HIGH LEVEL of critically thinking commenters that can break down concepts and politically dissect ideas that help lead to a higher understanding of psychiatric oppression, and then use that new understanding to help work towards changing the world into a better place.

    Yes, let’s ALL be more civil here, but let’s not forget about what’s at stake here, and exactly what kind of political discourse and struggle is truly necessary to bring about genuine change in the world.

    Think about about the decisive times in your life when you went through very profound changes in your world outlook. Did these changes come about without some personal discomfort and/or cognitive dissonance?

    Think about those individuals who challenged and inspired you to reconsider your viewpoints? Were these people always gentle, patient, overly civil, NAMBI PAMBI with you. OR were these kinds of conversations often contentious, and even sometimes outright argumentative, that set in motion the kind of political groundwork necessary for seismic shifts in your overall thinking.

    Again, please reconsider this very first backward direction change.


  • James

    Thanks for your response.

    I still stand strongly with my above comment.

    Any MIA policy promoting MORE commenting and discussion would definitely WANT the comment section to be visibly part of the reader’s experience right from the git go. Something that appears in their face (if you will) at the end of every blog. And I use the phrase “in your face” with some humor associated to it, because in the grand scheme of things this is hardly an example of ANY kind of internet pressure or “force.”

    Yes, I believe that there are some people that have certain issues and strong reactions to how the comment section at MIA is conducted. HOWEVER, I cannot believe that there was a SINGLE PERSON responding to the survey that complained that somehow they were FORCED to look at comments “against their will” because their was no COMMENT BAR to click in order to give them some sort of so-called CHOICE! to face the “unwashed hoard of demon commenters.” I hope you can appreciate and understand a little use of sarcasm here to make this very important point about “choice.”

    You said: “… what we aim to do with all of our changes here is enable more choice for the reader/commenter…”

    This kind of so-called “choice” (involving how MIA situates the comment section) cuts right to the heart of MIA’s mission in the world, and how it evolved out of the historical struggle against various forms of psychiatric abuse in the world. This “choice” is completely different than when someone chooses (by clicking) to see a podcast or read some scientific article circulating on the internet.

    MIA does NOT give its readers a “choice” of what the titles of the blogs will be, or where on the webpage certain articles will be featured. Both writers and MIA editors/staff make these very important AND very political decisions AND choices on these journalistic issues of design. Many of these titles are, by themselves, provocative, politically charged, “triggering,” intriguing etc. etc.. as they should be, on any important and socially relevant webzine.

    After all, MIA and most of those people regularly active on the website, are not JUST interested in understanding the world better (important as that is), we also very much WANT the world to change for the better. And we are looking for every opportunity and means for this to happen, including the very necessary need for more dialogue and discussion in the world. AND yes, including sometimes very contentious and cognitively dissonant discussions that at times makes us, and others, uncomfortable. AND yes, I believe in the importance of “civility” in those discussions.

    To now somehow say that the mere positioning of the comment section at MIA must conform to the “wishes” (which again, I believe no single reader complained they were “forced” to view comments “against their will”) of the most sensitive of its readers, is both gratuitous and very misguided. It clearly comes across as appealing to the “lowest common denominator” and giving in on very critical issues of political principle.

    This new approach (on the comment bar) is NOT going to achieve the desired result of increasing readership AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, bringing more people into the type of activism that could potentially weaken the very oppressive Medical Model and hopefully change the world for the better.

    Those of us who might find this first change very off putting and misguided, are NOT somehow stuck in an old routine and afraid of change. We have very real concerns about the very essence of the intent and ultimate result of these changes.

    You said: ” The reader survey told us that there was dissatisfaction, it seems wrong to ask people to tell us about their experiences of commenting if all along we planned to do nothing about it.”

    I am NOT saying, nor do I believe others who have raised concerns, that changes should NEVER be made OR that we should not listen to readers thoughts and feelings. I support the moderation policies and I support the efforts to increase readership AND participation, BUT NOT at the expense of very important political principles. Political principles that have been tested over many centuries of important social upheaval that has pushed the world towards a trajectory of more freedom and social justice.

    This is a very BAD start to a possibly necessary process. Please, please think again and reconsider this initial comment bar change. Yes, do all your other changes and THEN come back to this at a later date after further discussion and consideration; AFTER we have had time to digest these other changes.


  • Shaun and Sera

    Sera has written a very powerful piece here that is filled with enormous wisdom and courage regarding how to relate to people who are in such emotional distress that their very life may be on the line.

    The decisions about how to relate to (not “treat”) someone in this kind of emotional distress where they are suicidal, is almost identical to the decisions involved in the whole “sectioning” debate (that is, forced “treatment” and/or incarceration) that will occur if you (as a professional) notify any doctor and/or psychiatrist of suicidal or violent thoughts on the part of the individual.

    Over several years, as a professional, I have come to (with the help of MIA) the exact same conclusions as Sera, regarding how to handle suicidal thoughts and the related issues of forced “treatment.” Here is a link to a blog I wrote a few years ago on this same subject titled “May the Force NEVER EVER Be With You! The Case for Abolition.”

    Shaun, in response to your question about being a “mandated reporter” with the so-called professional “responsibility” to report someone with this level of psychological distress, and possibly suffer professional and legal consequences if you choose NOT to report that person:

    If you want to take a morally and politically correct stance here, you MUST take the risk of losing your job and/or suffering other legal consequences, by NOT reporting this person AND relate to the troubled person in a similar fashion as Sera has so eloquently demonstrated here.

    The reality here is that If your actions cause someone to be forced into a form of incarceration in a hospital, there is a GREATER overall risk of immediate and/or long term harm, including INCREASING the future risk of this person ending their life by suicide at a future date BECAUSE of the very chain reaction of events that you started by making the initial report.

    Ironically, if that person DID take their life after getting out of a forced hospitalization (that you initiated by your actions) you would suffer absolutely NO professional or legal consequences. Instead, you would only be praised and consoled by other professionals, who ALL want to self justify and reaffirm the workings of an oppressive system that they knowingly AND unknowingly continue to “enable” with “mandated reporting.”

    My blog mentioned above makes it very clear that once you start saying there are extreme circumstances or exceptions where some type of “force” may be necessary, you start reinforcing a slippery slope into a deadly abyss. You might want to read the very long comment section that follows this blog for it is both rich and extremely comprehensive covering every possible argument for and against the use of “force.”


  • Hi James

    I did not comment on the proposed changes because I was not sure how these changes would positively or negatively impact MIA and its overall mission.

    HOWEVER, I already have a big problem with one of your VERY FIRST changes you’ve made here. Why should I, or anyone else, have to click on the COMMENT BAR in order to see and participate in the comment section. Respectfully, this is totally ass backwards and cuts against any, and all, of the proposed efforts to promote discussion of published blogs.

    We should definitely WANT people to clearly see that there IS a comment section and hopefully be intrigued enough to at least start reading the comments. It should be up to those who definitely DON’T WANT to participate and/or EVEN SEE (God forbid!) the comment section, to HAVE TO make the effort to make a click in order to totally avoid this process. I cannot possibly see ANY justification for this particular change. Just because there are other websites that do it this way should have no influence what so ever on the direction and choices of MIA.

    I am willing to give the other proposed changes a chance over the course of the coming period, but I must say that I was immediately put off and offended by this first change.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Steve

    It is impossible to provide the statistics you are looking for because most likely close to a 100% of those with serious pain issues are being drugged in one way or another. That is, with either opiates and/or psychiatric drugs, including huge cocktails of both categories of drugs.

    Very few people are ever introduced to well designed programs to mitigate pain, such as those involving motion exercises, meditation, diet changes, and/or CBT or other forms of talk therapy, BEFORE they are given drugs. And I would also speculate that very FEW people give these alternative approaches a serious chance to work over a long period of sustained effort and guidance.

    Part of the reason why good alternative approaches do not happen is because the ALLURE of the “quick fix” drug “solution” is so readily available and advertised everywhere in our society.


  • beckys11

    By itself, chronic pain has very little to do with suicide. It is all the harmful drug prescribing practices by mainstream medicine and psychiatry that push people over the edge.

    These drugs may have some short term positive effects, but in the long term they actually increase people’s sensitivity to pain and disable their own natural coping mechanisms.


  • No one should deny the fact that benzos might have a valuable role for someone in acute crisis, including some type of psychotic break. BUT they should only be used for a short period of time, probably no more than one week, if that. Any longer period of time has a HUGE risk of causing major dependency, addiction, and/or withdrawal problems.

    There are millions of benzo victims (mainly women) in the world today searching desperately for a way to safely taper off of these dangerous and harmful drugs.

    Jeffrey, you are dead wrong to say that it is a myth that the over prescription of opioids has fueled the opioid crisis. I have seen figures of at least 60% of all heroin addicted people since the late 1990’s came to use the drug AFTER having developed an iatrogenic dependency on opioids from dangerous prescribing patterns by doctors, encouraged and pushed by Big Pharma.

    There are a hundred million prescriptions every year for benzos, and a sizeable percentage of these drugs end up in the street and purchased by, and/or given to opioid addicted people. There is a lot of blood on the hands of certain top leaders in medicine. psychiatry, and Big Pharma.

    AND there will be no justice and/or an end to these crimes in our society unless. and until, we live in a world that outlaws these behaviors and puts people like this in jail.


  • Steve

    Welcome to a very difficult job and position at MIA, but I am confident you will be fair and do a good job.

    I am also glad that individuals who work at MIA, at the same time, can be open and honest with their views in blog submissions and comments while still working within the agreed upon parameters at MIA. Why should someone’s voice go silent just because they work within an organizational structure? We need all the voices we can get, especially those who are passionate and articulate in their beliefs.

    The most difficult area of moderation will often be when evaluating the use of sarcasm. Sarcasm definitely has a positive role in these discussions as a way to delineate the different political and philosophical viewpoints. However TOO much sarcasm may sometimes go over the line where it can become a way to personally attack or degrade someone’s character. This will be one of the most challenging parts of your moderation role at MIA.

    And finally, one of my biggest concerns at MIA (which I wrote in my evaluation) would be if “Identity Politics” were somehow to take hold, and it resulted in the literary police banning certain political terms and phrases (such as the “slavery” analogy) because some people found it distasteful, or claim it is not permitted if you do not have the “correct” or proper “identity” credentials etc. I am very glad that this kind of “identity Politics” approach has not reared its head for sometime at MIA, and that is very refreshing.

    And finally, Steve, the next time there is a “Scientology” discussion you and I are going to have to find a way to “settle up” outside somewhere. Perhaps we could “beat” on each other with some wet pages form a ripped up DSM V. Carry On! We have much work to do!

    Comradely, Richard

  • Benzos have always been a crisis on the level of the poly-drug (opioid) crisis. They are both deeply intertwined and have undergone a parallel path of exponential growth in prescriptions. .

    There is documented evidence that benzos are involved in fatal opiate drug overdoses at LEAST 30% of the time.

    My best estimate woulld be that this figure is closer to 50% of the time. Benzos are highly sought after drugs by those people using opiates on a regular basis.This is because of the synergism between the two drugs where benzos will greatly magnify the effect of the “high.”

    In fact benzos are often THE decisive drug in the cocktail that ends up killing people. This is because most opiate addicted people know how to use their opiates, but often they forget how many benzos they consumed on any given day. It is only a matter of time before the “Perfect Storm of Addiction” will come around.


  • bcharris

    You just revealed in this comment why it is SO WRONG for this author to continue to use the term, “scientism” repeatedly in his titles and subtitles throughout his blogs. The use of the word, and people’s interpretation of it, usually make no sense at all.

    This blog is NOT exposing any kind of MISUSE of science or exposing someone being TOO scientific (although I’ve never understood how that can be a problem) where science does not apply. This is exposing nothing more, or nothing less than, “bad” science, “corrupted” science, “phony” science, and/or simply “pseudo-science.”

    The author does use this latter phrase “pseudo-science” in his last sentence when he drops the phrase “pseudo-science scientism.” This ends ups being some type of gibberish phrase, like saying “bad bad” or “phony Phony” etc. etc.

    Dr. Timimi’s blogs contain some very important scientific and political exposure of Biological Psychiatry. But when he uses the term “scientism” (which he has NEVER carefully defined) he detracts from, and undercuts, the heart of his message. There is NO USEFUL PURPOSE for his use of this term in his critiques of psychiatric oppression.

    The term “scientism” is MOST OFTEN used by people who want to attack the legitimate use of science in its exposure of superstition, climate change, and other controversial topics such as certain religious myths. Here it is understandable why someone might resent people being TOO scientific when they are relying on faith to determine reality, and holding onto some type of Right Wing agenda.

    Both psychiatry and their colluding partner, Big Pharma, operate under the cover of alleged legitimate science, but this blog (along with all the other exposures at MIA) have revealed that these institutions only distort, pervert, undermine, and corrupt the scientific method in order to arrive at their false pseudo-scientific, and ultimately harmful, conclusions.

    Please leave it all at “pseudo-science” and drop the nonsensical term “scientism.”


  • Kindredspirit

    Great comments in this thread.

    There is another explanation, or social theory, for understanding the behavior that gets labeled “manic” or “mania.”

    Some believe that it can be a person’s attempt to desperately “outrun” their depression.

    A person can become very desperate to NOT have to slow down and think about and face some very difficult and painful things going on in their life (such as traumatic experiences), that they become super focused and involved in various types of behaviors or activities as a major strategy and tactic of avoidance.

    Behaviors such as talking real fast, increased physical activity, obsessive creativity, not sleeping, grandiose scheming etc. etc., all have the very REAL purpose to AVOID having to dwell upon and confront the reality of very real and/or perceived psychic pain and/or physical pain.

    All this can be a a person’s tactical and strategic (both conscious and unconscious) behavior to avoid a horrible reality. This adaptive (and sometimes very creative and successful) behavior can often help a person survive difficult circumstances, and even prevent people from taking their own life as a final solution to avoid the psychic pain.

    But this adaptive form of behavior is not without its many risks. People can eventually become totally physically and emotionally exhausted, and eventually “crash and burn” as they hit a wall by encountering much conflict and resistance from their environment (the people they encounter and the boundaries and limits they have crossed). And they can often fall into a deep depression when they eventually must slow down and think about (and even dwell upon) those painful things in life they expended so much desperate energy trying to avoid.

    More “food for thought.” This is why environmental context is SO very important to understand in these discussions, which many above commenters have pointed out with much insight. I also agree that this approach was very much lacking in the above blog.


  • Great review of an important book.

    I believe there is an important role for those dissidents working inside this oppressive “mental health” system.

    It is a very difficult and treacherous road to travel, but it can be appropriately navigated IF one is willing to stay connected to a system critical movement on the outside, AND also be willing to continuously self-interrogate themselves so as to avoid any form of “enabling” of the System and the ongoing dangers of “burnout.”

    I also liked Noel’s broader description of the word and meaning of “trauma.” This class based capitalist system has a million and one ways to alienate people and transform all human relationships into some form of “commodity” type relationship, which perverts our human essence.


  • Kirk

    Thanks for responding to my post.

    You said: ” If the oppressed have absolutely nothing in common with their oppressors I see the potential recipe for what we saw in The Terror of the French Revolution or in Stalinist Russia or Maoist China. Reversals of oppression can be just as oppressive as those who originally oppressed…”

    So what should I conclude from this statement – that it is FOOLISH or ILL ADVISED for oppressed people to rise up against their oppressors??? That it is FOOLISH AND ILL ADVISED for oppressed people try to bring into being a new type of system that moves beyond all the inequality and trauma inherent in a profit based class system??? Or that oppressed people should not attempt to move history forward because there is the risk of defeat and/or failure in the first or second time around.

    Summing up the historical experiences of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions in one extremely brief VERY NEGATIVE sentence does a great disservice to importance of understanding these first attempts at building socialism (including all their weaknesses) and moving beyond capitalism, while denying all the very important POSITIVE lessons.

    I still strongly contend that your theoretical approach lacks a genuine class analysis of the world.

    I agree that no Revolution or genuine radical political movement should EVER base its approach (or vision of a new world) on revenge or fear.

    Most oppressed people know their oppressors are human beings, but in reality their class interests in the world are diametrically opposed. In today’s world those people who run this system are guided by the capitalist economic Law of Value which views other humans as a pragmatic means to increase profit by any means necessary, including Imperialist wars. This systems turns human beings into commodities and distorts and traumatizes our human social relationships in so many ways. This reality must be at the HEART of any attempt at explaining extreme forms of human psychological distress in the world.


  • I like the fact that someone is trying to situate these human problems most fundamentally in the environment, rather than in genetics or brain diseases.

    I DON’T LIKE the name (and what it implies) the, “polarized mind,” that this theorist came up with to explain psychological distress. It seems to contradict the essence of what he/she is arguing for, by once again focusing on the individual mind.

    The author is quoted as saying: “Schneider expects that these types of interventions will allow people to broaden their perspectives and find points of commonality with others, which could reduce polarization.”

    Frankly, this way of approaching human conflicts totally negates a class analysis of society and WILL NOT lead to a world where true equality abounds.

    Class polarization is actually a GOOD thing IF it can ultimately lead to the upper class having its power overthrown and removed from the neck of the oppressed. AND this will NOT happen unless those people in the under classes begin to see they have absolutely NOTHING in common with their oppressors and need to take power from them.

    All this requires the masses to be won over (through education and struggle) that a profit based capitalist system stands as the major obstacle to the advance of all science and an obstacle to all human beings achieving a true commonality of purpose and a sharing of the world’s resources.


  • The author of this article has created a “straw man” argument for those critics of the over prescription of opiates. No reasonable critic would just say “accept your pain.”

    The author states: “Pain patients are not trying to avoid pain or medicate it away—we are simply trying to get some relief from the daily grind of constant pain.”

    The author CANNOT speak for ALL pain patients. This above statement ignores the reality that today’s medical establishment (and Big Pharma) has definitely encouraged pain patients “to avoid pain or medicate it away.” This is why their are millions of people dependent and/or addicted to opiates, and a significant percentage of those people transition to buying illicit opiates in the streets. AND far too many of these people die from overdoses.

    Long term use of opiates to treat chronic pain is an overall harmful treatment strategy that is NOT successful or backed up by science. There is research that shows that people will have worse outcomes and actually become MORE sensitive to pain (opioid induced hyper-algesia) over time.

    There are other alternatives to using opiates and other drugs to treat pain, such as meditation, CBT therapy, motion exercises, and other forms of physical therapy. Unfortunately many pain patients have become so invested (physically and psychologically) on the opiates, that they will often reject these other strategies. Here we need to blame the medical establishment (and Big Pharma) for this problem.

    No chronic pain patient should EVER be ripped off their opiate drugs. The medical establishment must invest money, time, and effort in correcting a problem of their own making. And in the mean time some of the Big Pharma CEOs should be put in jail for all the deaths and harm they have caused.


  • Oldhead

    Rachel’s link above says only 17% of the surveyed psychiatrist listed no religion when questioned.

    “Original sin” permeates the Bible and most religions.

    Why do you equate atheism with “sophistication” instead of merely the ability to think rationally and scientifically about how the world works and how harmful various forms of superstition can be to the human race.


  • bcharris

    You said: ” I’m afraid we’ll have to endure this until we consistently have to endure repeat disasters from this pseudo-science.”

    I think you completely missed the essence of this article which was summed up in the last line.

    “But in all likelihood, the problems will continue until the root cause is addressed — that is, until capitalism no longer dominates the university, and the society that sustains it.”


  • Emily

    BTW, in my reference to the blog “A Racist Movement Cannot Move,” I did not mean to only highlight one comment. You would have to read ALL my comments and those of the authors (and others) to get a clear sense of the different positions, AND the VITAL distinction and political importance of those differences.

    I still have not received an apology for essentially being called a “racist.”


  • To all those who promote the view that there are “No Victims” are also, by defining logic, saying there are “No Oppressors.”

    All of which, is taking “relativism” to its extreme.

    This get us nowhere and makes the “Powers That BE” very happy and free to continue ALL forms of human oppression.


  • And I would add this point.

    The essence of the LGAT position that bad things that happen to people in the world are essentially part of “THEIR OWN FAULT.” is very similar to the “LAW OF ATTRACTION” promoted in the popular book (several years ago) “The Secret.”

    If someone is raped or abused then they must somehow accept the fact that they “attracted” this behavior. What a F#$king “blame the victim” philosophy! That book, “The Secret,” and the philosophy it promoted was very harmful.


  • Emily

    Thanks for those comments.

    If you have the time you might want to read the very long comment section to a very controversial blog ( ) that appeared at MIA perhaps before you arrived here.

    I believe there were some elements of a harmful group/think approach in the form of “Identity Politics,” that if taken to their extreme, and then codified here at MIA, it would have had disasterous results for the future political role and growth of MIA.

    I don’t really expect you to comment on that here, but sometime I’d like to hear your assessment of this important debate and dialogue.


  • Hi Emily

    Your more direct presence here will be SORELY missed, both as a moderator and your decision making presence on the future editorial and political direction of MIA.

    I share Oldhead’s basic points in response to the essence of your blog. When it comes to music the term “polyphony” has a clear meaning and application. BUT as to politics and making Revolutionary change in the world, I believe it only has a very limited meaning and application. To make a “principle” out of “polyphony” in political activism has the very real danger of promoting “relativism” – there are no “absolute truths” at any given historical time that require necessary and decisive action in the real world, including in the area of establishing humane “laws” that end certain harmful institutions, behaviors and practices.

    I would also say that I detected a certain amount of pessimism in your blog regarding the future possibility of real Revolutionary change in the world. At the very least it (big change) came across as very remotely distant, and this could be related to your emphasis on the need for “polyphony” in future political discourse and activity in the world.

    HOWEVER, after just now (I must have missed this when it first came out) reading your past blog on your horrible cult experience with “Large Group Awareness Training,” I now more fully understand some of the evolutionary development of your philosophical and political approach to things.

    My reaction to this blog on the LGAT experience is, HOLY SHIT!!! what a horrible traumatic experience. Not only did this group traumatize you with their oppressive cult group/think methods, but they most likely totally destroyed the relationship you had with your then, fiance. I am so sorry you had to endure this, and in some ways it sounds as bad, or almost as bad, as what you experienced with this oppressive “mental health” system.

    The LGAT group sounds very much like the cult, Scientology. And if you had continued with them you might have experienced even greater thought control and coercive methods employed by them at higher levels. AND they would have definitely taken a lot more of your money to boot (once again, the negative role of the profit motive f$#king things up in the world).

    I refuse to call Scientology a “church,” and I am very dismayed at some commenters here at MIA that continue to minimize the danger of Scientology, given all their monetary, property, and legal resources that are very much at their disposal.

    Emily, I hope to maintain contact with you, especially when I spend more time in your area of Florida (in the winter months) while you attend school there. I would like to meet some of the other ‘critical psychiatry” and/or “anti-psychiatry” people in that area, and hopefully engage in educational endeavors, social activities, and other forms of direct political action. My brain tends to turn to “mush” when I am in Florida, and I need more provocative political stimulation to prevent that from happening and to be a part of some radical movement activities.

    All the best, Carry on! Richard

  • Dr. Peter Breggin does not always make good political decisions about who to associate with. After 9/11 he took a bad political turn to the “Right” and made several appearances on Michael Savage’s nationally syndicated radio show.

    Michael Savage does promote some critical ideas about psychiatry’s over drugging of people, especially children. BUT Michael Savage is clearly one of the most Right Wing Neo-Fascist talk show hosts in the country. Any internet search of some of his quoted ideas will clearly show what a vile and sickening outlook he promotes on his radio show.

    Lawrence, you haven’t responded to my other comment below.


  • There are major problems with this article. Twelve Step approaches to addiction AND Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) are flip sides of the same “Addiction is a Disease” coin. BOTH are flawed approaches which promote confusion and ultimately undermine (for many people) their attempts to obtain a life free from addiction.

    Yes, AA and NA has helped some people, but no where near the exaggerated claims trumpeted by Twelve Step zealots. Attempts by some people to conform to their Disease Based Model (the “One and Only Road”) has harmed their efforts to become drug free, and caused many people to become pessimistic about the possibility of permanent abstinence.

    Medically Assisted Treatment – MAT, is the new EUPHEMISTIC name for “Opiate Replacement Therapy.” This new name is now calling synthetic opiates a form of “medicine” treating the “disease” of addiction. And they more often encourage people to stay permanently on these mind altering drugs for life.

    Yes, methadone and suboxone have a positive role to play in helping to stabilize people addicted to opiates. And yes, these synthetic opiates have a positive role to play in helping people detox and/or slowly taper from their opiate addiction. But these MAT programs are often profitable enterprises that encourage and promote “maintenance” rather than a goal of abstinence. They promote another version of the “disease” concept of addiction that is merely the flip side of the same coin promoted by Twelve Step AA and NA programs.

    See my link below to a blog I wrote a few years ago on the suboxone and methadone MAT programs.
    And also see another link to a past blog of mine critically analyzing Twelve Step programs.


  • Lawrence

    Psychiatry and their entire Medical Model is now firmly embedded within a profit based capitalist system and serves a very critical role in reinforcing and preserving this systems superstructure – ideology and class based institutions. And part of that role is to label, drug, incarcerate, and marginalize any and all potential political deviancy.

    You said: “We should be getting desperate here in the U.S., since pro-medical model propaganda is getting increasingly entrenched in our schools, government, scientific circles, media, and entertainment. Trillions of dollars have been spent on promoting/expanding the psychiatric system, which is drawing in an ever-rising percentage of our population – We’re losing the war, and “Brave New World” is quickly approaching… Are you really interested in stopping psychiatry from destroying our whole country, or are you content to just complain and chat about it with each other?”

    The desperation you describe here (which is very real) SHOULD NOT be directed towards drawing in other despotic individual or groups that promote and support FASCISTIC social and political agendas, no matter how anti-psychiatry they appear on the surface.

    Lawrence, we need to consider Revolutionary approaches to political change BEFORE this planet is destroyed. AND anti-psychiatry political action can be a vital part of this worldwide uprising that needs to take place.

    In past discussions when I have brought up an activist anti-capitalist perspective, you have been dismissive of these politics and claimed the mantle of some type of so-called “nonpolitical” approach. Yet here you are proposing the development of political alliances with neo-fascist groups like Scientology.

    I believe your anti-psychiatry writing and activism will NOT go very far, unless and until, you link up with an understanding of the oppressive Medical Model’s connection to maintaining and preserving a class/profit based economic and political system.


  • Thanks Steve and Oldhead

    Both responses (serious and humorous) are necessary critical responses to this blog. While the author has good intentions in his criticisms about the “over” diagnosis and drugging of depression, this still leaves the door open for harmful psychiatric labeling and drugging of those determined to be “clinically” depressed.

    There is NO way to determine this imaginary “line” between “healthy” depression and “clinical” depression.
    And doesn’t this second designation sound rather “clinical’ to everyone here.

    Depression is a necessary and healthy evolutionary response to human conflict with the environment and various social injustices that surround us. It is an important coping mechanism that can unfortunately get stuck in the “on” position for some people in certain circumstances. And yes, this can be terribly painful and debilitating and should NOT be minimized.

    BUT many people have (and will continue to ) find their way out of this morass with the right combination of social supports and time healing personal insights that emerge through difficult struggle.

    Let’s NOT leave the door open for psychiatry and their oppressive Disease/Drug Based paradigm of so-called “treatment” to somehow determine what is a so-called “unhealthy” level of depression that we all need to pathologize with a “clinical” designation.

    Here, in this discussion we once again have a clear distinction between what is “critical psychiatry” and what is genuine “anti-psychiatry.” And it should be obvious from my comment that I stand firmly with the latter.


  • Mark

    I hope you take the time to read some of the above referenced blogs here at MIA that I provided in earlier comments. There is a wealth of valuable analysis in the writings of both Dr. Hickey and Dr. Joseph.

    Nobody has deconstructed modern psychiatry better than Dr Philip Hickey. People cannot, and should not, promote themselves as being knowledgeable, or learned, in this field without a willingness to suffer the cognitive dissonance encountered when reading these writings with an open mind.


  • Mark

    Thanks for engaging on these question.

    You said: ” To submit that there have been no reputable studies demonstrating brain changes in patients diagnosed with mental disorder runs counter to reality.”

    Mark if somehow you only thought about sex (or engaged in sex) for 16 hours a day for a certain period of time, there might be some sort of change in your brain activity and/or structure. And then after you stopped for a period of time your brain would most likely return to its “normal” state.

    When or if some changes in the brain took place, this proves NOTHING about so-called “mental illness” or “disorders.” It only means that the brain adapts to abnormal circumstances.

    Mark, you said above that there was an “abundance” of evidence for the biological pathology in so-called “mental illness.” Even some staunch Biological Psychiatrists lament the fact that this evidence has NOT yet been discovered.

    I will provide you two links below that refute the biological model and deconstruct the phony evidence provided so far by psychiatry.


  • Hi Mark

    Why would you want to continue to quote Ronald Pies as some authority on the issues of whether or not “mental illness” exists?

    He is the same man, who of recent years, has been a major apologist for psychiatry since it has come under much overdo criticism for its pseudo-science and oppressive forms of so-called treatment.

    He is the same man who called the “chemical imbalance” theory an “urban myth,” while he himself has continued to promote his own version of it. And isn’t he the same apologist who said the “chemical imbalance” theory had some pragmatic value as an explanation (to so-called ignorant patients) even though it has NO validity, because it helped convince them of the viability of psychiatric drugs if the doctor deemed them necessary? I suggest you read some of Dr. Philip Hickey’s scathing blogs (here at MIA) directed towards deconstructing Ronald Pies role as an apologist for psychiatry.

    And Mark you said:
    ” even the purest Szaszians would admit that there has been an abundance of research in the past few decades linking what is called “mental illness” with certain biological changes–to a greater or lesser degree depending on the condition.”

    NO, no, no, this is not a true statement. There is still no discovery of so-called “biological markers” for “mental illnesses” or “disorders.” Please show us the evidence of these “biological changes.” Even the pet scan analyses and brain scan analyses that have evolve into some pseudo-scientific explanations have been blown apart by legitimate scientific appraisal.

    The only verifiable biological changes found over the past two decades that make any sense are those in which the “treatment” by psychiatry, with psychiatric drugs and/or Electro-shock, has seriously (if not sometimes, permanently) perturbed brain function and/or other neuro-chemical processes.

    No major anti-psychiatry critic here at MIA (except those few who want to somehow “romanticize” “mental illness”) denies that there are people deeply disturbed by trauma and other stressors in the environment and present themselves with different behavioral and thought manifestations that reflect this level of psychological distress.

    These are NOT “illnesses” that should in any way be treated in a medical sense, nor are they necessarily permanent conditions. And we need NO medical terminology or biological explanations for them. And there is no scientific evidence up to this point (nor will there ever be, in my view) that in any way undermines the essential positions put forth by Szasz that “mental illness” is a myth.

    And Mark, I would ask, are your suppositions that there really is bio-physiological evidence for “mental illness,” more of a HOPE on your part that someday someone will find them?


  • Yes, while there are a few minor examples of where some people on the Left have used the term “Libertarianism” to define their politics, OVERWHELMINGLY those who promote this ideology are PRO capitalist and worship individual rights OVER the collective whole.

    Just because some Nazis chose to occasionally use the term “National Socialism” as a descriptive term DOES NOT mean there is ANY association between socialism and fascism.


  • Chris

    You cannot get around the fact that psychiatry invented the term “Bipolar’ and went on to define its meaning within its oppressive paradigm of Disease/Drug based “treatment.”

    Let them completely own the term with all its contradictions of science and morality. Let them stutter and squirm when they attempt to explain their NONSENSE that can’t be proven OR justified. Let’s NOT engage in verbal gymnastics to somehow confuse this very important debate and area of contention.

    Chris, you said:
    “The diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder is merely a set of symptoms; hopefully we agree on that. I am saying that these symptoms do not exist in pathology of the individual, but rather exist between an individual and systems.”

    Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are somehow different or odd from the norm (but completely understandable human responses when the true circumstances for their emergence are understood) are NOT “symptoms.” This is their attempt to “medicalize” a normal response to abnormal conditions in the world, and/or pathologize necessary human conflict with one’s stressful and often oppressive environment.

    Chris, this is exactly another way of saying what you meant with your following words:

    “The extent to which people experience arousal, dissociation, agitation, elation, madness, etc.—in similar conditions—is an expression of diversity, driven by the demands of the conditions.”

    Using “Bipolar” to define the above conditions, ultimately allows the enemy to develop and define the language and terms of the discussion within their oppressive and corrupt Medical Model, and forces us into various forms of verbal gymnastics. This ends up allowing them to control the terms of the debate and overall battle. This is NOT a winning strategy here.

    Chris, the beauty of your narrative and the depth of your powerful analysis is undermined by the use of THEIR terminology. Please reconsider dropping their language and getting into a more complete “deconstruction” mode.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Frank

    You said: ” Libertarian merely means placing a high value on liberty.”

    This is both very naive and very wrong.

    You CANNOT abstract Libertarianism from the current way in which the necessities of life in the world are both produced AND distributed throughout society.

    Libertarians worship at the alter of “Free” Market capitalism, and all that goes with this type of economic and political system. This includes the so-called Darwinian social concepts of the survival of the fittest and placing rugged individualism on a cultural pedestal.

    We should ALL know (especially you, Frank) what class in society this type of ideology and philosophy will end up serving. We can all see where this type of thinking has already taken us.


  • It is amazing how some so-called learned people can write some pretty good scientific and political summations regarding the significance of someone like Thomas Szasz, AND THEN completely abandon logic and journalistic honesty with a few bogus concluding remarks.

    This author stated the following in his concluding remarks:

    “And the growing research on the pathophysiology of severe mental disorder paints a more complex picture than Szasz let on.”
    “Sixty years ago, Thomas Szasz did the profession—and the world—a great service by pointing out the gross abuses of power perpetrated in the name of psychiatric treatment…. But his claims regarding the nature of mental illness seem to be based on flawed logical and epistemological assumptions. They certainly seem to run counter to the clinical reality.”

    This author provided NO scientific or theoretical evidence to back up his claim of the “pathophysiology of severe mental disorders [sic]” or of the so-called “flawed logical and epistemological assumptions” of Thomas Szasz.

    Yes, Szasz’s “libertarianism” was flawed in many ways, because “libertarianism” is a flawed ideology, but his analysis of psychiatry and psychiatric oppression has essentially stood the test of time and any legitimate scientific analysis.

  • Chris

    This is a powerful blog filled with many insights about the multiple forms of trauma and personal difficulties of life in modern capitalist society. It is also a clear indictment of how this insane “mental health” system of psychiatric labeling and drugging is itself a form of trauma and only perpetuates a sick system.

    Your point about how this society promotes the “pathologizing of empathy” is so true and is very connected to the promotion of the capitalist view of human nature, that is, “dog eat dog, look out for number one” type of mentality. We can see how deadly this view of human nature has become.

    BUT this analysis does NOT go far enough, and remains stuck within the confines of the very paradigm it criticizes.

    There are many ways to be critical of the “Bipolar” label WITHOUT trying to “reclaim” it and/or “transform” its meaning. While one can understand why people might want to attempt this strategy of “appropriation,” it is ultimately a dead end that takes people down a “rabbit hole” of political and cultural contradiction.

    This is no different than the troubling history of Black people attempting to appropriate the “N” word, or women somehow trying to “reclaim” and/or “transform” the “B” word or the “C” word. This is NOT a revolutionary strategy, but one that ends up in some form of “reformism.”

    Chris, you said:

    “I see psychiatry as a necessary component to the problems we face, but the field must be transformed by empowered consumers, just as we now need science to undo the catastrophic blunders technology has brought about.”

    Again, Chris you are not going far enough in your analysis. Any true scientific analysis of psychiatry would revealed that there is NO basis for a so-called medical specialty that allegedly “treats” illnesses that do not exist. Psychiatry is based on pseudo-science and serves an oppressive role in society to shift attention towards “genetic theories of original sin” and AWAY from seeing the actual oppressive forms of trauma and inequality inherent in a class based capitalist society.

    And I would add that your choice of the phrase “empowered consumers” was both mistaken, and also an oxymoron. Anyone who “consumes” what psychiatry has to offer in our society can NEVER be “empowered.” We all must puke it up and spit it out, and the sooner the better.

    Chris, I hope you are open to some critical appraisal of your writing. You have a very important story to tell and I love many aspects of your writing and critical insights. I just believe it is vitally important to take things several more steps forward. We need a revolution, not some form critical reformism.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • 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.