Monday, April 23, 2018

Comments by Richard D. Lewis

Showing 100 of 1060 comments. Show all.

  • McB18

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

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

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

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

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


  • McB18

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

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


  • McB18

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

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

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

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

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


  • Frank

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

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

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


  • Steve,

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

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

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

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


  • Steve

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

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

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


  • Neil

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

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

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


  • To All

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

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

    Dr.Timimi says the following in his first paragraph:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Oldhead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Steve

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

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

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


  • Bradford

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

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

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

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

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


  • Someone else

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

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

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


  • Auntie P

    Thanks for the positive remarks about the song.

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

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

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

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


  • Slaying the Dragon

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

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

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


  • Thanks for the comment Steve.

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

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

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

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

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


  • liittleturtle

    Thanks fr that comment.

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


  • Mi

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

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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


  • Steve

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

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Reread the following quote from the blog:

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


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

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

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

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Au Valencia and All

    A very positive blog that raises many important questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Bonnie

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

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

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

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

    Comradely, Richard

  • Frank

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

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

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

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


  • Oldhead

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

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


  • Frank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Frank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Oldhead

    First you quote me as follows:

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

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

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

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

    Then you ask me the question:

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

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

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

    You already know what my answers are to these questions.

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

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


  • Oldhead

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

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

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

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

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


  • To all

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

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

    noun: scientism

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

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

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

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

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

    Dr. Timimi says the following:

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

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

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

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

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


  • Lawrence

    Good blog.

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

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

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


  • Joanna

    You raise some good points.

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

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


  • Oldhead

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Bob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Tom Petty’s death was NO accident!

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

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

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

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


  • Ron

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

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

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

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


  • To All MIA Readers

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


  • Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Julie

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

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

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

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


  • Julie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Uprising

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

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


  • Oldhead

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • SDP

    You said: “He seems to believe in human goodness, but what does that even mean if there is no good or evil?”

    SDP, there you go again, you just proved my point about abstracting the concepts of “Good” and “evil” from the real world. Your above sentence makes absolutely no logical sense.

    These are NOT fixed entities (a priori) sitting in some “pie in the sky” alternate universe. Goodness is something that can be ultimately measured (in the real world) by examining the way human beings treat each other. Do they cooperate among themselves for the common benefit OR do they take advantage of others, exploit others, lord over others, and/or directly harm others?

    Then you say: ” But when I point out the inconvenient fact that Marx’s philosophy promoted a struggle for a classless society that resulted in the wholesale slaughter of nearly 100 million people in the most evil totalitarian regimes, who can help but wonder if that is what he means by human flourishing.”

    So is this your way of saying that you CANNOT really find any of Marx’s words that actually promotes “evil” towards other humans, so you have now SHIFTED your argument to say that it was the WAY certain humans attempted to CARRY OUT his theories that somehow proves the theories are wrong?

    I do not accept some of the inflated statistics of deaths under socialist regimes, but leaving aside those debates, I agree it is definitely clear that mistakes by revolutionaries (over many decades) have led to many people dying. Was this the result of bad theory OR human mistakes PLUS the lack of enough human experience in these first historical attempts at bringing something new into being, AND because of the difficulties caused by external attacks on these emerging revolutions from outside enemies wanting to preserve the dominance of capitalism/imperialism???

    Heady questions that demand answers and a deep summation of complex historical events. Far more complex work to be done than your abstracted and simplistic concept of “evil.”

    And since you are a devout Christian, I would ask : how many hundreds of millions of people have been killed carrying out the historical spread of Christianity in the name of God. And looking at the Old Testament of the Bible, I can point to passage after passage (with real words) that actually promotes and upholds some of the most vile and degrading forms of violence towards other innocent human beings. Actually the “God” of the Old Testament would easily fit the definition of the “Original Fascist” based on the forms of violence actually carries out and promoted in His words.

    Now, I am certainly NOT saying all Christians accept or support these scriptures, and most definitely do not act or promote these forms of human behavior towards others.

    But I am pointing out the specific conflict that exists in the world between written words and theories and how they are actually carried out in the real word. And by that standard it is easier for me to point out more problems, contradictions, and hypocrisy with Biblical scriptures and subsequent behavior in the world than you can point out with the words and theories of Karl Marx.

    And I must remind you that no one has “bullied” you. You are are the one who always jumps on anyone who even suggests that humanity might move beyond a class divided society. And then you ridicule the theories of Marx and other followers with your philosophical and/or religious abstractions about alleged “evil” words. Allegations that cannot be backed up by citing any actual proof that you gave read and understood Marx’s words.

    And finally, it is interesting that all the historical societies that you cite as representing the flourishing of “goodness” were built on a foundation of very distinct class differences and related oppression, AND most importantly, built on a foundation of the institution of slavery.


  • SDP

    You said: “I’m not sure why you ask me about evil, Richard, since you don’t believe in either good or evil. I have a very high regard for human beings and their great capacity and potential. I also have a realistic view of human nature.”

    Please don’t EVER attempt to speak for me. Where is their ANY quote where I have said I don’t believe in human “goodness”? In fact, all of of my blogs and comments here have usually had themes that emphasized the human potential for goodness, including some real life examples for what it might take to achieve this ON EARTH.

    I also believe that human being are capable of doing “evil” things. HOWEVER, I do not believe in the a priori existence of “evil” or of the existence of some “Devil” like force in the universe causing “evil” things to carried out by people. There is no scientific evidence to back up the existence of such an “evil” force.

    The KEY question in ALL of these discussions is: what material conditions on the planet earth, that is, what forms of human social, economic, and political organization will allow human goodness to flourish AND will (at the same time) suppress and gradually eliminate the desire and/or need for human beings to do harmful and/or “evil” things to other human beings?

    So “Slaying the Dragon,” exactly what is this “…REALISTIC VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE…” of yours? Do you care to explain the so-called limitations of human nature that would make a classless society impossible to ever be achieve (over perhaps several hundred years of struggle). OR tell us why human beings should NOT attempt to work towards taking the steps to build such a world.

    And “Slaying the Dragon,” I am still waiting for one phrase, sentence, and/or paragraph where Karl Marx advocates for human beings to commit an “evil’ act, or where he EVER advocates for anything other than the ultimate emancipation of all of humanity from ALL forms of human oppression.


  • Frank

    You said: “If we agree to agree about psychiatry…”

    Michael Savage (the Right Wing Fascist radio talk show host) is against Psychiatry in many ways, and perhaps even Jeffrey Dahmer might have had some issues with Psychiatry.

    But that doesn’t mean I want to sit down and have lunch with either one of them, let alone try to find common ground with their opposition to Psychiatry.


  • SDP

    After reading the hundreds of words you have used to describe the “evil” of Karl Marx, could you please show me one phrase, sentence, or paragraph where he EVER advocates for anything other than emancipation of all of humanity from all forms of oppression.

    His development of dialectical and historical materialism describes a path for humanity to eliminate all forms of class inequalities and related forms of oppression, including war and violence towards other human beings.

    It would be one thing for you to be merely describing Karl Marx and his theories as “Utopian” and/or “unrealistic,” but show me where in the actual content of his writings and theories is the “evil” you rant about.

    It is now clear to me that you have such a “fixed” and disgustingly low opinion (actually a very worked out theory and analysis) of a very “dismal” nature of the human species, both as to what it is, and what it is capable of achieving in this world.

    And since you provide no hard evidence to back up this incredibly limited and pessimistic view of human nature, I can only assume you have a view that the “Devil” is somehow at work here. Is that your explanation for why all of humanity cannot, and should not, move beyond capitalism/imperialism and/or the elimination of classes and class inequalities???


  • Sera

    Thanks for responding, I guess. But I hope this “old white guy” and so-called “veteran of the 60’s movement ” wasn’t just getting a “pat on the head” and a “thanks for your service” type response here.

    Usually you have a lot of provocative things to say on most topics; a trait I, more often than not, appreciate very much. I thought I raised some important and “heady” issues related to the questions you raised as to how and why activists and movements can become smothered and even suffer a “death,” AND, most importantly, how can we avoid this happening in the future. And it was all made quite specific in regards to the nature of specific changes in the world relative to Psychiatry and psychiatric forms of abuse.

    Yes, my comment involves some big and controversial issues. Are they too “big” and/or too “hot” to warrant a deeper response from you?


  • SDP

    This has everything to do with ending psychiatric oppression.

    If you don’t know from what class and social forces an institution (such as Psychiatry) arose from, and whose interests it serves in today’s world, you will have NO WAY of figuring out how to get rid of it.

    In today’s world, a narrow agenda of ridding ourselves of a single powerful institution, is a total pipe dream and a dead end effort. The interconnection of various class and economic interests are just too vast and deeply intertwined.

    You are stuck in centuries old forms of thinking of battles between “good vs evil” where “evil forces” are some sort of a priori abstraction from material reality. Hence the quite appropriate name, “Slaying the Dragon of Psychiatry.”


  • Sera and all

    You have articulated some very real and insightful summations of just how difficult it is to be an agent of change working inside today’s “mental health” system. As many know I worked as a therapist for 22 years (until 2015) inside the community mental health system in a working class city in Massachusetts.

    I fought against the takeover of the disease/drug based Medical Model for the entire time I worked there. The labeling and drugging was prolific and the agency probably went through more that two dozen or more psychiatrists and other type of prescribers during that period. I know the “Beast” well from the inside from the perspective of someone who has worked in the System. I’ve seen first hand the damage done.

    Sera, there is no simple or easy solution to your dilemma (not that you thought there was one) and you probably won’t like to hear the conclusions I have drawn from this experience. But here goes.

    I will preface my further comments by saying I have been an antiwar, pro Black Liberation, pro women’s movement, anti-capitalist type activist since the late 1960’s. Back then I came to believe that UNLESS we moved beyond a profit/class based based capitalist system NOTHING of substance would change regarding the major forms of oppression in the world.

    So when I came to understand (in the early 1990’s) that Biological Psychiatry, and their entire paradigm of so-called treatment, was also another major form of institutional oppression harming millions of people with labels and drugs, it was natural for me to fight against it. It was also natural for me to more deeply analyze and study this institutional form of oppression.

    In the beginning of this learning process (especially reading the real science behind these issues), I thought, “wow it is so obvious how harmful these labels and drugs are. And we now have a minority of doctors and other educated experts, along with numerous articulate psychiatric survivor stories, so we can just get the word out (over a relatively short number of years) and blow this whole oppressive paradigm out of the water.”

    Well not so fast, Richard! have you forgotten the lessons you learned in the 1960’s? Have you forgotten what kind of all encompassing and powerful system you are up against here? Have you forgotten how those in power will do anything AND everything to protect their economic interests and hold onto their power and do what it takes to crush and/or demoralize those who dare to challenge the status quo?

    So I am saying that I DID forget some of those past lessons and had a brief period (with the rise of MIA and all the great science and books that were coming out exposing psychiatric abuse) where I thought the Biological Psychiatry house of cards might soon crumble.

    But I have since come back to my senses and have re-engaged with the best of my critical thinking skills. THIS DOES NOT MAKE ME PESSIMISTIC ABOUT CHANGE BUT ONLY MAKES ME MORE REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT IS REQUIRED TO MOVE FORWARD. So here is a list of my conclusions on the dilemma Sera (and thousands of other activists working inside and outside this oppressive system) face in the coming period:

    1) Psychiatry and psychiatric abuse has changed over the past 5 decades. It’s always been oppressive, but it has grown exponentially in power and in the depth to which it has penetrated every pore of our society.

    2) Psychiatry and its collusion with Big Pharma has become a highly profitable business achieving some of the highest rates of profit in the entire capitalist system, and is now a critically important pillar in the U.S. economy.

    3) Over the past 5 decades, with the growing numbers of people labeled and drugged within our society, the ruling class (defending and preserving the status quo by any means necessary) has grown (over time) to understand the valuable role that the psychiatric Medical Model can play in disabling (with labels and drugs) the most potentially volatile sections of society that have traditionally been more rebellious – minorities, prisoners, women, disenfranchised working class youth, and other system outliers.

    4) In the post 9/11 world, the intensity of world wide struggles and contradictions, have increased the need for those in power to maintain control of any type of opposition forces or movements that are aimed at shaking up major institutions. Psychiatry (and its ability to incarcerate and drug someone with a mere signature of a pen) has the political and police power in society that only the Executive Branch of government can rival. In these intense times, allowing Psychiatry to maintain this power is very useful to those resisting political upheaval and trying to preserve the status quo.

    5) So therefore, the economic, political, and social role of Psychiatry (and their entire “mental health” paradigm) has now become INSEPARABLY BOUND to the future of the entire capitalist/imperialist system.
    So in the final analysis, it does not fundamentally matter how much we expose the faulty science and oppressive forms of treatment and build resistance in numbers, Psychiatry and their Medical Model has become TOO BIG AND IMPORTANT to be allowed to fail in the current order of things.

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

    7) Therefore, we must find a way through ALL our organizing and transformative work to link the day to day struggles with the broader struggle to make bigger System and institutional change on a world scale. Anything short of this approach will ultimately lead to the types of demoralization and burnout described in Sera’s blog.

    8) Fighting “The Good Fight” on the broader levels I have just described ARE NOT easy, and it can also lead to demoralization and burnout. BUT, at least it represents a more realistic and truer picture of what we are up actually up against, AND what it will actually take to have a chance of reaching our goal of a world free of all forms of psychiatric oppression.

    9) Similar to the conclusions drawn from the environmental movement, we CANNOT save the planet from inevitable worldwide catastrophe WITHOUT System change happening eventually across the entire planet. The same holds true when looking at psychiatric oppression. It may all sound TOO BIG to some people reading this, but it is a “Long March” that is worth starting now. We can all do our part by marching forward with our head and eyes FULLY raised and looking towards the “prize.”

    To Sera and others, this may not be what you wanted to hear, but it is the best that I can offer at this time.
    “Dare to struggle, Dare to Win”


  • SDP

    If you call Europe more “socialist” and “decadent” than the U.S. then we are truly living in a different dimension or universe. And that is especially the case if you actually believe the U.S. is becoming more “socialist.”

    You throw science and logic completely out the window with a comment like that. How can there even be a conversation? Where are your definitions of these terms???


  • Lawrence

    The weakness of your above comment is that you are focusing on “individuals” taking control of their own lives in response to the built in forms of “learned helplessness” promoted by the Medical Model.

    Yes, of course I would be making this a big part of my agenda (as a therapist doing counseling) when dealing with particular clients coming to me with these kinds of problems.

    BUT your approach fails to address the larger systemic issues driving these forms of human alienation etc. In other words, you could do your very BEST work with some of these clients who will still end up staying stuck and mired in “learned helplessness” because the various aspects of financial and social stressors are so overwhelming in society that they will REMAIN crushed by the system.

    These are fundamentally institutional and SYSTEMIC problems inherently built into a class based capitalist system. THIS IS STRUCTURAL OPPRESSION THAT SHOULD NOT BE REDUCED TO INDIVIDUALS WHEN SEEKING THE SO-CALLED SOLUTION TO THESE MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS.

    This is why you have a libertarian, such a “Slaying the Dragon,” (who worships at the feet of “free market” capitalism), SO QUICKLY cosigning your above comment. He does not want to penetrate beneath the surface and search for where the sources of human alienation reside in contemporary capitalist society.

    Lawrence, your above analysis is “enabling” a libertarian perspective to get over with only a surface understanding of the nature of these deeply structural problems.


  • Lawrence

    Yes, Psychiatry and Big Pharma are trying to expand their markets (it’s very profitable), but it is very important to see how “selective” they are in terms of focus and strategic importance.

    And don’t get me wrong here, I am not presenting some type of conspiracy theory here. No, Psychiatry and Big Pharma did not sit in some secret place back in the 1960’s or 1970’s and specifically design this Medical Model to target potential rebellious elements in society.

    No, this whole paradigm has instead slowly evolved in this direction. For example, let’s look at the role of psych drugs in prisons. Fifteen or twenty years ago, prison authorities would often DENY psych drugs to the prison population. Many times they would suffer terrible withdrawal because they were denied access to their prescription drugs.

    However, this has now changed since prison authorities have grown to understand (over time) that these drugs (and the threat to deny them) can be used as an effective tool in controlling the prison population.

    Lawrence, your above answer has NOT addressed the two main points I made about how Psychiatry (using labels and drugs AND “genetic theories of “original sin””) has become a vital instrument of social control targeting certain potentially volatile sections in our society. Do you disagree with my analysis.


  • Lawrence and all

    I agree with several of Slaying the Dragon’s and Oldhead’s criticisms, however, they do not go far enough and leave out some vitally important points. This is especially true when looking at what is misguided and missing from Lawrence’s final concluding remarks.

    Lawrence you said: “Psychiatry’s main role now is thus to stop more and more able-bodied people from contributing to society, and to offer them society’s benefits that are contingent upon their not contributing. Psychiatry has mutated from feared enforcer to parasitic saboteur of the social contract on a huge scale — so it’s now an outlier that’s threatening society’s survival, and thus must be banished.”

    When you say psychiatry is “threatening society’s survival…,”what “society” are you referring to? Here you are missing the historical reality that Psychiatry has now become an essential institution in maintaining the current class based/profit system of capitalism.

    Psychiatry has become (especially over the past 4 decades) a key instrument of social control maintaining the status quo by disabling (through labeling, drugging and incarcerating) the potentially more volatile sections of society who are most harmed by the system, AND most likely to be part of a movement rebelling against it. Here I am referring to women, minorities, rebellious white working class youth, student rebels, and other non-conformists and system outliers. The very forces in society who formed the backbone of rebellions in the 1960’s.

    Secondarily, Psychiatry and their disease based/drug Medical Model focuses everyone’s attention on personal and/or genetic flaws in human beings as the cause of society’s lack of progress beyond the “dog eat dog”, “survival of the fittest” concepts of human nature promoted as a means to JUSTIFY the need for a class based/profit system. AND it further justifies accepting all the inequalities and the overall state of perpetual war as an unfortunate necessity of life given this so-called “fixed” state of human nature. Ashley Montagu called them “genetic theories of “original sin.””

    The current ruling classes propping up this capitalist system have totally written off certain sections of society as being no longer necessary to preserve their system. They DON’T CARE if inner city minorities ever work or become productive in society. They know their system is NOT CAPABLE of incorporating them into the mainstream of society with jobs etc. – so therefore, label them, drug them, shoot them, jail them, isolate them, but DON’T let them become a disruptive force in society. This is also true of the other more volatile sections mentioned above.

    So Lawrence when you say that “…Psychiatry’s main role now is thus to stop more and more able-bodied people from contributing to society…,” this completely misses the mark in not grasping psychiatry’s central role of “social control.”

    AND while “Slaying the Dragon” can make some good critical remarks about the myth of “mental illness,” his OVERALL analysis falls WAY SHORT of grasping an historical understanding of the actual power position and role that Psychiatry has in contemporary capitalist society, AND especially how it is being used to hold back social rebellion. He makes these errors because of his total uncritical worship of Thomas Szasz, which leads him to adopting the very same libertarian type political blind spots that plagued Szasz and prevented him from further advancing the anti-psychiatry cause when he was alive.


  • Oldhead and Frank and All

    The whole criticism of socialism as a “welfare state” is absurd.

    First off, socialism will work towards creating jobs for everyone, no matter what their abilities or limitations. There will be a clear social expectation that everyone who CAN work, WILL work. AND if you don’t work (when you have been provided a job you are able to do) then you DON’T get paid ANY financial support. (more on this in a moment)

    Under capitalism, the system by its very natures creates under employment and the capitalist owners extract a significant portion of PROFIT from the sale of the products that the workers create. While some people in the society “hit the lottery” and live quite comfortably in a high degree of wealth and consumerism, the broad masses struggle to survive from paycheck to paycheck (or from some type of assistance).

    Under capitalism, other than the the small minority who hit the financial lottery, there is VERY LITTLE motivation to work and/or be a law abiding citizen. This is because most people have some awareness of the inequalities and unfair nature of a system where a small percentage live very well off (and do very little work, if any) and the rest have to struggle daily and work and live in a state of powerlessness doing exploitative jobs and living in slums or economically depressed areas.

    Of course under capitalism there will always be people who feel beaten down (because many are) by the inherently unfair nature of the system, and they will be “content” (???) to live their life with various forms of assistance and never expect (or try to achieve better) during their lives in this class based profit system.

    We must ALWAYS defend people living under these forms of assistance because it is NOT their fault (especially in the collective sense) that they are stuck on the bottom rungs of society. And by supporting these people and their forms of public assistance (we help them survive) AND we can expose to the broad masses the exploitative nature and inherent inequalities in a capitalist system.

    Why have RESENTMENT towards people collecting assistance when they might otherwise be able to work? Do you really think they are “happy” to live this way? And doesn’t your criticisms of these people just reinforce the capitalist narrative that “there are people in the world who are lazy and not motivated to make something out of their lives”? AND that the capitalist narrative of “survival of the fittest” fits better with how THEY wish to characterize their self serving view of human nature.

    NOW YOU ASK (and some of you by now may be chopping on your bit), what about those people in a socialist society who are able to work, but refuse to do so, are you going to let them starve? Didn’t you just say above (more or less) that “if you don’t work under socialism you DON’T get paid”?

    Remember under socialism, there is collective ownership of all the major industries, the masses of people will have a genuine say (not the sham democracy we have under capitalism) in how government is run. Therefore, there should definitely be a QUALITATIVELY DIFFERENT attitude and motivation among the people as to the way they approach working in jobs throughout society. The vast majority of people will now gladly work and reap the benefits of feeling productive and contributing to society AND being financially rewarded for their labor. They will now WANT to work, not try to avoid working, or somehow seek free assistance from the State.

    BUT, you ask, YEAH what about those people, who despite ALL the changes under socialism you describe, who STILL do not want to work (and are able to), are you going to let them starve???

    Of course not. But given all the major shifts in power relationships and attitudes in society, and the way social media will be promoting collective participation in work and governing, it WILL NOT be easy (nor should it be) for someone to now expect a “free ride” in a socialist society. There will now be ENORMOUS collective pressure (carried out in a very supportive and humane way) for EVERYONE to do what their abilities permit to contribute to society in order to receive some financial and other forms of assistance.

    Of course, all of these changes in society under socialism will DRAMATICALLY REDUCE the levels of stress and pressures in daily life that are the major causes of the extreme forms of psychological distress that leads people towards a so-called “mental health” system. This system will be completely dismantled and replace with other forms of genuine support for those needing help to cope with daily life.


  • Frank

    Thank you for clarifying your thinking on these questions. However…

    You said: “… but ultimately I’m stuck with the question, what has more chance of success at the moment, socialist revolution or reversing medicalization (i.e. the medical treatment of people who aren’t sick)?”

    This type of thinking is EXACTLY what leads most people and most movements into REFORMISM.

    We have no choice but to link all our current human rights struggles to the struggle to get rid of capitalism and replace it with socialism. The planet will NOT survive too many more decades of capitalism/imperialism. If nuclear war between competing Imperialists does not kill us all, then destruction of the environment certainly will.

    Do you you not believe this to be true AND are you willing to take the risks by NOT making socialist revolution a priority right along with building focused anti-psychiatry struggle?

    And do you not believe the masses of people are eventually capable of coming to an understanding that capitalism needs to be replaced?

    And you said: “Antipsychiatry can’t be linked to socialist revolution. I’m not waiting, in other words, for socialist revolution to end psychiatry.”

    Who said we should wait to vigorously organize struggle against Psychiatry? Not me; the key question is HOW do we wage this struggle to have the BEST chance of actually making meaningful change in the world, and NOT slipping into reformism and/or being co-opted by the System.

    I am afraid your approach (more single issue and narrowly oriented) has the highest probability of leading to reformism and co-optation.


  • Frank

    Every time I make a call for socialism to replace this outmoded and oppressive capitalist system you start talking about psychiatric oppression that allegedly existed under past socialist regimes. This history is debatable as to whether or not these were genuine socialist regimes that you are referring to when there were attacks on dissidents that involved the use of psychiatry.

    My point in my above comments is that today capitalism NEEDS Psychiatry (to continue its existence) as an INHERENT necessity to control certain potentially volatile sections of the masses. AND the ruling classes need Psychiatry to divert people’s attention away from the inherent inequalities in their system and have the masses focus on “personal flaws” and/or genetic defects and so-called mental “diseases.”

    Please tell me where is there an INHERENT need for the existence of the institution of Psychiatry in a socialist system? A genuine socialist system WANTS and ENCOURAGES the broad masses to become active for the interests of transforming the old class based capitalist system into one which gradually eliminates ALL class based inequalities, starting with the ownership of the means of production. The existence of Psychiatry is contrary to the interests of building a NEW socialist society.

    Frank, you made the statement: “Getting rid of capitalism, yeah, that, too, …”
    So obviously you are anti-capitalist. What do you call for capitalism’s replacement?

    Is not socialism the next step for humanity in building a more free and humane world? And WHY can’t committed and intelligent people who adhere to socialist ideology, thoroughly sum up the mistakes that were made in past socialist experiments, and re-chart a new course for the next round of socialist revolutions in coming years?

    Capitalism needs Psychiatry. A successful socialist revolution cannot ultimately advance and/or succeed with Psychiatry still around.


  • Susan

    I agree that Psychiatry will never be abolished under the capitalist system. Next to Executive branch of government in the U.S, Psychiatry is the ONLY other institution that can legally incarcerate (and drug) someone without due process of law. And when they do get some type of hearing a several days after incarceration, it usually is a complete sham, and psychiatric victims rarely win those decisions.

    Psychiatry has now become such an integral part of how this System controls and demoralizes people, that it has become TOO BIG AND IMPORTANT to be allowed to fail or go out of existence. The future existence of Psychiatry is inseparably bound to the future existence of the entire capitalist/imperialist empire.

    However, that being said, that DOES NOT mean we should WAIT for the fall of this capitalist system to call for the abolishment of Psychiatry.

    On the contrary, calling for the abolishment of Psychiatry, as part a broader struggle against ALL forms of psychiatric abuse, can become a major tributary of struggle (like the women’s movement, Black Lives Matter, environmental movement etc) that gathers more and more people to see how inherently unjust and bankrupt life under capitalism truly is – as are all the institutions, like Psychiatry, that prop up and maintain this system.


  • Susan

    Thank you for this book review and for bringing a Marxist class analysis into the discussion of psychiatric oppression.

    We live in a world dominated by capitalism/imperialism and the inherent class inequalities, daily traumas, and the on going imperialist competition between nation states leading to constant war and plunder.

    I agree with some of your assessment of strengths and weaknesses in this book. However, the following paragraph is confusing at the very least, and definitely wrong if my understanding of its meaning is correct:

    “Ferguson rejects the call to abolish psychiatry because it can be used to cut needed programs. The only alternative is to reform psychiatry so that it offers a more humane response to people in crisis. While this is definitely worth fighting for, how it might be achieved under capitalism is not explained.”

    Yes, most welfare type systems and other support systems should always be defended, because the capitalist system WILL NOT AND CANNOT support the needs of the masses. And waging struggle to support them is just one way to expose the inherent inequality and nature of exploitation under capitalism.

    However, Psychiatry is an overall oppressive institution, and serves a clear social control role in society, especially targeting the more volatile and potentially rebellious sections in society. The programs that Psychiatry (like community mental health clinics etc.) run for the general masses are OVERWHELMINGLY used as a form of oppression with prolific amounts of labeling and drugging, and often far worse forms of incarceration etc. We should ALL want these programs to fail and be disbanded.

    Targeting Psychiatry (and the highly profitable pharmaceutical industry it colludes with) as an important tool of capitalist oppression, and calling for its abolition, is just one more way to educate the masses about the true nature of this System.

    All this can help set the stage for the necessary in depth discussions of what the strengths and weaknesses were of the first round of socialist Revolutions (Russia and China etc.) that were ultimately defeated.

    No great social experiments succeed on the first try. We must learn from those historic efforts and prepare for a new round of class struggle. It is becoming more and more obvious to more people that capitalism is NOT the highest pinnacle of human social organization and needs to be replaced; socialism, as the alternative, is being reconsidered by a growing minority . This planet cannot survive the current system much longer.


  • registeredforthissite

    You have put forward many insights into the oppressive nature of psychiatric abuse.

    HOWEVER, in order to someday end all this abuse, we must find answers to the following questions (whether or not it disturbs your current sensibilities):

    1) What is Psychiatry?
    2) How did it get here?
    3) What role (and for whom) does it serve in society?
    4) And finally, how do we get rid of it?

    In order to truly answer these questions, it REQUIRES that we address these broader issues that you seem to be saying are extraneous.


  • Slaying the Dragon

    Thank you for the response.

    You ask: “What has Donald Trump to do with any of this?”

    For me and many other people on the Left, Trump and those people in power aligned with him, represent a dividing line question in today’s world. Meaning, he represents a significant leap in our society towards Fascism. This is a serious threat to a qualitative reduction in personal liberty and freedom of expression and the right to dissent.

    For these reasons I could not, and would not, under any circumstances knowingly work with some one (or any organization) that supports the Trump agenda. And as an aside (as I’ve stated in other comments) I put Scientology in the same category of a group I will not knowingly work with for related, but somewhat different, reasons.

    And since I believe it will be essential in the future (in order to be successful) for the anti-psychiatry movement to work along side other Human Rights struggles and activists, such as women, minority activists, environmentalists etc., any connection to the Trump agenda (and those supporting it) would represent a serious impediment to these sort of alliances.

    Having stated why this is a dividing line question, this does NOT mean that I support any other political candidates or bourgeois political parties. I do not believe any substantial systemic changes in society can take place within a profit based/capitalist system.

    And finally, I believe any emerging vanguard type anti-psychiatry organization must, as a precondition, have a general anti-system orientation, in order to play a FULL ROLE pushing forward the struggle.

    Of course there probably will emerge many other groups opposing various aspects of the “mental health” system that should be supported, but they will not necessarily take advanced positions on bigger issues and therefore not play a vanguard type role.


  • Oldhead

    I do not believe my question is unfair or inappropriate here. “Slaying the Dragon” has a very worked out analysis of Psychiatry and psychiatric abuse in society. He also has his own website and presents himself as some type of “leader” in this struggle and wants people to follow along with him on this path.

    Why is it unfair that I want to ask exactly where he wants to take us and how he proposes we get there?

    And Oldhead, does this mean you believe in the slogan “unite all who can be united,” and exactly how is my interpretation of the slogan different?


  • Steve

    You raise an important question here. I don’t think I underestimate the number of those harmed by Psychiatry nor the power of such a movement, IF it is organized and grows in strength.

    But, if you believe this movement can go it alone in today’s world, then I believe you are underestimating how critically important it is for those in power to have Psychiatry as an instrument of control especially using labels and drugs to silence the more volatile and rebellious sections of this society. AND the importance to the economy that the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex plays given its historic levels of profit.

    The depth of the this oppression and how it serves this profit based system requires important allies in other Human Rights struggle for us to be successful in the long term.

    And all this means recognizing the high number of women and minorities who are controlled and damaged by Psychiatry’s broad reach in society. AND consciously educating people about all the connections and seeking allies AND alliances within these movements (such as Black Lives Matter, Women’s Movement, Me Too Movement, Environmental Movement, etc.).


  • Slaying the Dragon

    Are these not fair and important questions given the turbulence of the times and way lines are being drawn in the world?

    Apparently Oldhead doesn’t want to hear the answers, but there are probably many others here who would find it interesting to know your broader political perspective on what it will take to end psychiatric oppression in the world. This includes knowing the necessary political alliances needed to accomplish this goal.


  • Slaying the Dragon

    Let me rephrase my questions:

    1)Is Donald Trump (and in general his supporters) a friend to those people wishing to end all forms of psychiatric abuse?
    2) Is Donald Trump (and in general his supporters) a friend to those people wishing to promote genuine science in the world, as opposed to pseudoscience?
    3) Should MIA readers who want to end all types of Human Rights violations in the world support Donald Trump?
    4) and finally, Does supporting Donald Trump advance the progress of humanity, as a whole, or hold it back and possibly make it worse?


  • The following comment by “Slaying the Dragon” in many ways concentrates everything that is wrong with the term, “scientism”:

    “Pseudo-science naturally emerges in an age of scientism.”

    Here you have someone with an overall Right Wing political perspective complaining about the rise of enlightened science that has seriously questioned many fundamental beliefs promoted by the established ruling elites in the age of capitalism.

    That is, science (as applied to the history of human social systems) has questioned the permanence of class based systems where capitalism is accepted as the highest pinnacle of human social organization.

    This includes questioning the current social status of the working classes, people of color, ethic minorities, different sexual identities, and women etc.

    This is quite similar to the political struggle that emerged in the period in history when the Devine Right of Kings and Queens to rule over the peasantry was being questioned.

    Science, has also been used to deconstruct the major precepts of religion and its conservative pull on the masses of people to not question the current Order of things, and to wait for salvation in the hereafter. (BTW, I am aware that not all religious people are cemented in that view. I am referring to broadly accepted religious beliefs here)

    So with this Right Wing outlook promoted by “Slaying the Dragon”, science (and its application by human beings who do NOT believe in a “natural order” of things) is somehow blamed (using the code word “scientism”) for every major political movement of the masses that is seriously challenging the status quo and/or threatens the major tenants of Establishment thinking.

    Pseudo-science in this historical era has NOT emerged because of “scientism” (a code word for being “too scientific” when science somehow exposes that the “Emperor has no cloths”).

    Pseudoscience in this historical era has FAR MORE connections to those people and institutions that currently control our society and are threatened by those that question the permanence of this Oder of things.

    This is where Psychiatry comes in as a vital means of social control in society maintaining the status quo. It plays an important role in encouraging people to look at “genetic theories of original sin” as the source of our problems and not examine the institutional structures of society that perpetuate daily forms of trauma on people.

    “Slaying the Dragon” would have us believe that Psychiatry is some sort of “evil” force in the world ABSTRACTED from the inherent inequalities in the institutions that exist in a profit/class based system.

    It is no accident that he has adopted the name “Slaying the Dragon” (when it comes to criticizing Psychiatry) because he is stuck in an outmoded way of thinking that accepts some sort of “natural order” of things in the world based on CENTURIES OLD ways of thinking. Hence the need for a “Dragon Slayer” to come to our rescue and root out this “Evil.”

    “Scientism” has too many meanings and interpretations to be of any use to those forces in society deconstructing Psychiatry and all its abuses in society. And it too often is used as a code word by those like “Slaying the Dragon” who wish to promote a Right Wing perspective on the way forward in the world.


  • Dragon Slayer

    While I commend your ability to use both logic and elements of the scientific method to deconstruct the oppressive nature of Psychiatry, I am astounded by your willingness to abandon science when it comes to understanding global warming.

    And I am very intrigued to know what is your scientific appraisal of the Trump regime and its political agenda?


  • Steve

    Please see my related comment to Frank, below.

    You said: “I think “Scientism” is more of a religious belief system where there are “smart” people who “know science” and we can be “smart” too if we just agree with them and do what they say, and we don’t have to think about it too hard…as it involves the development of religious/philosophical dedication to a set of dogma…”

    When you said “…”Scientism” is more of a religious belief system…”, I think you are correct and actually making my point here.

    When people use the label of “Scientism” to discredit people’s dependence and reliance on science to make choices in the world, they are basing this criticism on unproven assumptions and/or faith. They are NOT making a critical analysis of what is legitimate science, and what may be some form of pseudoscience.

    If people are NOT understanding, and/or, NOT employing science correctly, this is NOT “scientism” (which is a nonsensical and controversial term), this IS people simply being UNSCIENTIFIC.


  • Frank

    You are continuing the confusion in terminology here.

    You said: “…what I find worrisome, that is, the religion of science. Science is not belief, a faith, but scientism is belief, and a faith.”

    The word religion simply CANNOT ever be correctly applied to ANY aspect of Science. They are polar opposites. Science is based on known facts and a methodology of seeking truth through experimentation and examining processes going on in the material world.

    Religion is based on FAITH, and is not intended, nor can it be, based on facts in the real world. Most religious people would agree with its total emphasis on FAITH. And if they do believe it is based on facts, it up to them to prove those facts.

    Religious people may believe, with a deeply held feeling of certainty, in this FAITH, but it cannot ever be proven with facts and/or the scientific method. And in fact, most religious people don’t care to seek any material form or external proof of their inner faith.

    The above statements are not meant as any kind of put down of religious people, they are simply facts about how people feel attached to their religious belief systems.

    Frank, you said:

    “…Is science partial to maintaining the status quo? Not in and of itself. However it is being funded by, and serving corporate interests…”

    Science is always neutral. However, how science is used (and for what purpose) in the world, is NOT neutral. And when science is used to hold back the forward progress of humanity, this is NOT “scientism.” This is simply the reactionary and oppressive use of science to exploit and/or harm people.


  • Oldhead

    You are continuing the confusing and contradictory use of terminology. As a result SCIENCE is totally losing its meaning here. You continue to make the case for abandoning the term “scientism.”

    You said: “Apples and oranges, different levels. It [Psychiatry] is very scientific in its machinations of social repression and public deception…”

    This is NOT science you are talking about here. These are devious and well designed and highly crafted public relations strategies to maintain control and power over people and influence broader public opinion.

    You said: “The quotes around science are confusing as to whether or not you are being ironic in some way, but I think most people in distress would prefer compassion to “science.”

    I was not being ironic here, but only putting emphasis on the fact that Sami Timimi was promoting the USE OF SCIENCE as a means to determine those kinds of support systems that provide the best help for people, AND I am quite confident that those positive supports would be based in “compassion.”

    I am surprised you don’t get the big problem with how these terms are being used.


  • Oldhead

    You said: “I think the term “scientism” is useful in describing the manner in which psychiatry appropriates the trappings of science…Actually if psychiatry itself were “more scientific” in pursuing its goals it would be even more dangerous.”

    The above two sentences actually makes a strong case for the essence of my argument on how confusing the use of the term “scientism” is, and how it potentially leads us away from our goal of ending Psychiatry.

    Your phrase “…if psychiatry itself were “more scientific”” is in its essence, an oxymoron.

    Psychiatry by its very nature (and definition) is not “scientific,” in fact we can say it is both “anti-science” and “anti-people.” So therefore, common logic tells us that it is virtually impossible for psychiatry to EVER become “more scientific.”

    The very author of above blog that defines Psychiatry as being an example of “scientism” uses the following phrases in his final paragraphs:

    “Paying attention to the science tells us that we need to look beyond just a focus on formal services…. The science has already pointed to what is likely to be most helpful to people who suffer mental distress.”

    Here again comes the confusion with terms, because the author (Sami Timimi) is CORRECTLY calling for MORE “science” to help solve the problems for people going through intense psychological distress.

    Get rid the of the term “scientism, if it is causing this much confusion within our own ranks, imagine how confused newcomers might feel in such a discussion.


  • Frank

    When I referenced the different political viewpoints that use (and I believe everyone misuses it no matter what their politics) the word “scientism,” I was not referring to “liberalism” and “conservatism,” They are essentially flip sides of the same coin that seek to maintain the present status quo in the world, with only very slight differences in how this profit and class based society should be organized.

    Science (as a methodology and body of accumulated knowledge) has no partiality to anything other than the “truth” or (in different words) to a potentially better method for humans (IF correctly applied) to understand the world and THUS be in a better position to change it, hopefully for the better.

    The use of the term “scientism,” on the other hand, because it ultimately degrades and undermines people’s belief in science and the scientific method (regardless of who uses the term to describe science), IS partial to maintaining and/or defending the status quo in the world. This is DESPITE the subjective intentions of those using the term.

    Since science, when correctly understood and applied in the world to make things BETTER for ALL of humanity, is a serious challenge to those defending the status quo, it is important for the ruling classes to ONLY use science in a very limited and pragmatic way to serve their class interests.

    Again, because this a complicated and potentially contentious struggle over philosophical concepts and terminology, it is best to avoid this term when taking on Psychiatry. We have plenty of great language to critically analyze and totally deconstruct Psychiatry and hasten its demise into the dustbin of history.


  • Hi Steve

    Please read my other new comment. “Pseudoscience” is quite sufficient to describe pseudoscience.”

    You said: ” I do not want to concede the definition of “scientism” to the “establishment;”…”

    Unfortunately, when you use the term “scientism” you will be often “conceding” to the Establishment. The Right Wing and those in the Establishment holding positions of power (in science and other areas) often use the term “scientism” to undercut and ridicule those using science to change the world.

    I do believe it is worth engaging in a very deep theorectical and political struggle over the role of the word “scientism” in the world. But to throw it into the mix now as as if it is a valuable term to criticize and deconstruct Psyciaitry, will be very confusing and misguided at this time.


  • Brett

    Thanks for the response. And I agreed with your comment up until these last two sentences.

    You said: “I suppose it comes down to the need to conduct a critical analysis of science, and to subscribe to scientific findings that are credible, to expose those that are not as pseudoscientific, and to call out the promotion of bad science as fact as scientism. And on that note, I fully agree with Dr. Timimi that much of what is currently considered by society, professionals, and clients as valid psychiatric theory and practice is based on scientism.”

    I say stop using “scientism” altogether. It is too confusing, contradictory, and controversial in meaning, and it renders the word useless and counterproductive when deconstructing Psychiatry.

    Science is what it is – it is science. Science CANNOT be “scientism.”

    Pseudoscience is pseudoscience, that is, “pretend science” not based on the accurate use of the scientific method. Corrupted science is science that has been corrupted through the use of false data or methodology, etc. etc. etc.

    Reductionism is reductionism, that is, drawing scientific conclusions from limited data that will not stand the test of time or scientific scrutiny on a macro level.

    Reductionism and all other bastardized versions of science can reflect a level of ignorance and/or serves the subjective, nefarious, and often political desires of those claiming to be scientific.

    We should continue to use the terms “pseudoscience,” “corrupted science,” and “reductionism” because they have a clear meaning and are universally accepted by almost everyone using these terms.

    “Scientism” is a very controversial concept that has multiple meanings NOT universally accepted by most scientists or other critical thinkers. There are well respected scientists who believe there is such a thing as “scientism,” and there are also many other highly respected and accomplished scientists who believe that the use of the term “scientism” is wrong and/or misleading.

    And while the word “scientism” is sometimes used by both sides of the current political spectrum in the world, it is often used by the Right Wing as a way to undercut the value and role of science in understanding and transforming a fundamentally unjust world.

    The use of the word “scientism” to describe Psychiatry is again, very confusing and counterproductive to the goal of ending all forms of Psychiatric abuse in the world, along with the material conditions in the world that give rise to, and nutures its existence.


  • To All

    The last several comments have raised some important questions about the use of the term “SCIENTISM.”

    This blog has some great exposure of the pseudoscience of Psychiatry, but its title and continued use of the word “SCIENTISM” is contradictory and confusing at best, and TOTALLY distracts from its essential content.

    From Webster’s Dictionary: (BTW, I am not endorsing this definition))

    “Definition of scientism
    1 : methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist
    2 : an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)”

    When it comes to analyzing and criticizing Psychiatry (or any form of oppression in the world) we need “more science,” not less. And you can’t be “too scientific” when trying to understand and transform the world into a more humane place to live.

    The historical debate regarding the term “SCIENTISM” is hotly contested in the world today, and some people would say (myself included) that its misuse is essentially a way to discredit and undermine (sometimes in very subtle ways) the role of science in the world. To accurately explain my position on this question would require an entire blog (and more), and is perhaps something I will attempt in the future.

    But for now, I am strongly suggesting that to continue using the term ” SCIENTISM” is both confusing and counterproductive when trying to criticize and deconstruct the pseudoscience of Psychiatry.

    And finally, with all of the efforts in this blog to take on the pseudoscience of Psychiatry and its bogus terminology, WHY, WHY WHY are people (and this author) still calling psychiatric drugs “MEDICATIONS.”

    If there is no disease or underlying cellular abnormality related to psychological distress, why allow Psychiatry to get away with calling all their mind altering (and quite often mind destroying) drugs, some type of “medication” ???

    Psychiatry, while colluding with Big Pharma, have spent hundreds of billions of dollars over 5 decades convincing the world that they are a medical specialty dispensing “medications” to the masses. Why concede to them the use of this language and “enable” them to get over with this charade. Challenging AND changing language is an important part of making positive change in the world.


  • Lawrence

    Good blog.

    To add to your above point, it is hard to expect people, especially children, to accept authority and obey rules in an overall society that is perceived (often in more primitive ways even by very young children) as unfair, unequal, hypocritical, overly authoritarian, and down right exploitative in most relationships encountered in their world. There are real material reasons for the rebelliousness of children in an unjust world; its not just a natural consequence of their youthfulness.

    Many of today’s children and teenagers that end up being drugged are exactly the type of youth who rose up in rightious rebellion in the 1960’s. Psychiatry and their Disease/Drug Based paradigm of “treatment, serves an important function in today’s world by suppressing dissent from the very sections of society most likely to rise up in resistance against the injustices in the world.


  • Uprising

    Yes, sometimes the “slavery” analogy is misused. This is especially the case when the person using such an analogy is not historically aware of the degree of human oppression experienced in the institution of slavery in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

    When the slavery analogy is misused it is our job to challenge people as we do with ALL other forms of historical inaccuracies.

    That being said, historically there have been, and still are many “higher forms” of human slavery. And in these situations this kind of analogy can be very important to use in order to challenge and educate people about just how far humanity has to go in order to free ourselves from all forms of oppression.

    As I pointed out in a prior comment, the remnants of slavery in the U.S. were still very much embodied in the sharecropping system in the South, and this was clearly a “higher form” of slavery.

    Just remember how valuable the writings of Karl Marx (and his followers) are, with his penetrating historical analysis of the emergence of various forms of “wage slavery” which still hold back the nature of freedom for the working classes in the world, and the advance of society beyond the human horrors related to Imperialist domination, with its endless wars for Empire and profit.

    And Uprising, it is very important not to forget that when this struggle around this slavery analogy question first arose at MIA it was HEAVILY infused with a major theme of “Identity Politics.” If “Identity Politics” is allowed to dominate and control any political website or organization trying to make positive change in the world, it will ultimately destroy those efforts, and be a major setback for our movement.

    So Uprising, I am saying there are many important reasons to not let such language and/or analogies be banned or eliminated. It is our job to make sure that this language is not used inappropriately. And you have done a good job so far on this front when these problems have emerged.