Sunday, February 25, 2018

Comments by Richard D. Lewis

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  • 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.


  • Bonnie

    I applaud the fact that you have decided to reengage in the important dialogues in the comment sections in your blogs. I have especially found your dialogue with Steve McCrea helpful in clarifying your positions on very complex and controversial topics in the “mental health” arena.

    You said: “I wish people would stop using our blogs as an excuse to bash psychiatry and diagnostic labels(which we also dislike).”

    I think this is an unfair and one sided summation of what has taken place at MIA in response to your past blogs. I think you need to take some responsibility (in some instances) for a lack of clarity on certain issues and, at times, an OVEREMPHASIS in your writings on the role of nutrition in resolving the symptoms that get labeled as “mental illness.”

    Some people have raised some very important issues to be considered when viewing this research into the role of nutrition, especially as it relates to trauma and other stressors in children’s environmental experience. And there have been times when you have been overly defensive, and viewed any serious questions as simply “inappropriate” attacks.

    I believe that Dragon Slayer has raised some important issues here, but I do NOT accept his conclusion that the essence of your work is somehow “coercive psychiatry in another form.” It is too bad that we can’t sort out the “wheat from the chaff.”

    I support the value of your research and efforts in area of nutrition, but also believe it is vitally important that the certain conclusions drawn from this work get presented in a way that does not mislead people about the priorities of what needs to take place in the world to create a more safe and secure environment for children.

    In a past blog I attempted to raise some of these important issues of clarification AND emphasis, and may have been unfairly lumped in as a naysayer and “inappropriate” critic of your work. Here is my comment which was never responded to:

    “Hi Bonnie”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Respectfully, Richard”

    Bonnie, please keep writing and engaging in these discussions. This dialogue is vitally important, even when things get feisty and, at times, difficult to navigate. We cannot change such an unjust world without these forms of scientific and political struggle.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • To all

    One small but important way to fight against the system that killed Stan’s son is to stop calling psychiatric drugs “medications.” These are mind altering drugs that have many toxic “main” and “side” effects that harm the human body, especially if taken for long periods of time.

    Real medications treat real diseases and other cellular abnormalities in the human body. Psychiatry and Big Pharma have spent hundreds of billions of dollars convincing the public that their psychiatric drugs are actual “medications.” Let’s stop letting them get away with this deadly unscientific charade.

    Changing language is a big part of making systemic and paradigm changes in the world. Let’s start now!


  • littleturtle

    I will repeat a comment I made to you in a recent blog; perhaps you missed it:

    “You are looking at the role of “biology” in human behavior in a mechanical way. To promote the standard refrain of “bio/psycho/social,” is to remain stuck in a paradigm of thought that represents everything wrong with the status quo’s version of what actually represents the very fluid concept of human nature.

    After all, every Biological Psychiatrist will gladly parrot the “bio/psycho/social” refrain. And we also have to ask the question, why is “bio” ALWAYS listed first in this particular meaningless refrain? We do know that based on any careful examination of the way modern Psychiatry functions in the world, is that they pretty much all practice a “bio/bio/bio” approach in the real world.

    I suggest you read some of Robert Sapolsky’s (well known neuroscientist and primatologist) writings, including his short article titled “Peace Among Primates.” Here is a quote from that essay:

    “To an overwhelming extent, the age-old “nature versus nurture” debate is silly. The action of genes is completely intertwined with the environment in which they function; in a sense, it is pointless to even discuss what gene X does, and we should consider instead only what gene X does in environment Y. Nonetheless, if one had to predict the behavior of some organism on the basis of only one fact, one might still want to know whether the most useful fact would be about genetics or about the environment.”

    In this essay he clearly shows a real life example where “environment” clearly trumps (sorry for the use of this word) other factors in the ultimate determination of what are the primary behavioral influences within an on going culture of a particular subset of primates.

    All this provides some very important “food for thought” when we ponder what is going on in the world and how we should go about finding the best solutions for the most vexing problems facing humanity.”


  • Steve

    Yes, all of Psychiatry is based on unscientific premises and has a dark history since its inception.

    Biological Psychiatry is just its latest and dominant incarnation, and historically it represents the worst of Psychiatry on steroids.

    While there are a tiny minority of psychiatrists that help people in the world, it is NOT because they are performing “psychiatric” forms of “treatment.”

    If psychiatrists do help some people, it is because they are listening to people and providing some sort of emotional support. This has nothing to do with their medical credentials or medical services.

    Today, the only exception would be those psychiatrists who have done serous research into safe psychiatric drug tapering protocols, and use their medical credential to aid people in their efforts to taper off of, and/or reduce their dependency on psychiatric drugs.


  • I will add a few points to my above critical analysis of this blog.

    Scott said: “All antidepressants have the same meager level of effectiveness over a placebo for treating depression (they do much better for anxiety).”

    This blog has left out one of Psychiatry’s and Big Pharma’s biggest crimes to date, and that is the worldwide benzodiazepine disaster. This has harmed millions of people around the world.

    And to suggest that anti-depressants are a successful “treatment” for anxiety is misleading at best, and it fails to show its intimate connection to the benzo disaster.


  • Scott and all

    Is this blog not just another attempt to resurrect and repurpose Psychiatry with the focus now on a new form of chemical intervention on the human species? I share Bonnie’s and other commenters’ concerns here.

    While this blog has some positive exposure of what is wrong with the chemical imbalance theory and its’ practice in the dominant paradigm of so-called “treatment,” it fails to escape the philosophical and scientific underpinnings of Biological Psychiatry.

    Scott said:
    “Once we embrace the power of a living system to heal and ADAPT [my emphasis], a range of other implications also emerge…In short, this MDMA study has the far-reaching implications that will transform mental health care and our view of the human psyche. The inner healer will become the new paradigm for mental health. Psychiatrists will move from being managers of medication to healers.”

    The above quote totally leaves out the role of the environment as a central determining factor in human thought and behavior. In order to create a world free of extreme forms of psychological distress, we must move in the direction of creating a material world free from the all the forms of physical and psychological trauma that are rooted in multiple forms of inequalities in the world.

    NO, we don’t want to just learn how to better “ADAPT” to all this madness. What about the necessity to “TRANSFORM” the world and ourselves in the process of identifying and changing those things in our environment that cause and/or trigger thoughts and behaviors that get labeled as “mental illness.”

    Yes, MDMA may have a limited role in helping some people suffering from post traumatic distress. However, we do NOT need new ways to “medicalize” the human condition and essentially preserve the status quo by helping people “adapt” better to an unjust world.


  • Ron

    I agree with the following points:

    “*One is to get better at wrapping our minds around all the research that is now showing that adverse experiences and trauma typically plays a crucial role in throwing people into the states we call mental illness.
    * A second is noticing how trauma throws us into the zone where we face the big spiritual questions. This means recognizing that trauma and mental health and spirituality are all very related.”

    And I also like the way you shared your own “Revolution” as you experienced a journey through recovery from past trauma and abuse. You have many valuable insights.

    HOWEVER, what you failed to mention in this article (and something that is extremely important) is the fact that when people go through these watershed/crisis type periods in their lives, they are VERY VULNERABLE and quite susceptible to being sucked into cults, such as the Moonies or Scientology, or perhaps some of the more fringe/extremist type churches.

    In fact, many such groups PREY on people who are going through these periods in their life as great recruiting opportunities. And subsequent experiences in these groups can only make things WORSE for people searching for understanding and meaning in their life at these critical periods.

    Ron, you said:

    “A second approach is the one Richard Dawkins took in his book The God Delusion: just dismiss all of spirituality as mental dysfunction!”

    Another problem I had with this blog is how you completely dismissed Richard Dawkins and his very valuable book the “The God Delusion.”

    In my mind there are two separate definitions of “spirituality.” One is the unscientific belief of a spiritual world separate from the material world (God, Heaven, Hell, The Devil etc.)

    Another definition involves a search for meaning in life outside ourselves in various higher forms of human connectiveness, perhaps including in group efforts to transform the world into a better place. I subscribe to this latter definition.

    In your blog, your references to “heaven” and the “Devil” implied these concepts really exist in the real world, and that they have no problems connected to their acceptance as truths in the world. You are avoiding the fact that the historical role of religion’s role in promoting the belief in “original sin” and the Devil” have played an ENORMOUS role in the actual origins of many people’s profound conflicts with their environment that ultimately end up in some forms thoughts and behaviors that get labeled “mental illness.”

    It is very understandable why many people going through these crises might identify with and/or see themselves as “Jesus” or “God.” After all, many people in these positions have endured an enormous amount of suffering (through trauma and other forms of oppression) and very much identify with the story of Jesus whose story embodies the theme of suffering and then dying “for our sin” etc.

    So Ron, I am giving you a mixed review of this blog and hope you are open to such feedback.



  • Frank

    I would never suggest we should tell Scientology people to “go home” if they show up at a demo. If they tried to take over the character of the event by rushing to the front with their banners or some other such action, I would call them out as being “opportunist”, and make every effort to move away from their presence in the particular event.

    I am ,however, definitely saying that we should do everything possible to not have them involved in or to become a part of any organizational apparatus. This probably, by necessity, involves having organizational discussions, and/or a set of principles of unity, that carefully outlines who we will, or will not, work with in our organizational strategy.

    And of course, we should answer, honestly, any and all inquiries (briefly, as I mentioned above) that people might raise about our affiliation with any group, especially, Scientology.

    As for NAMI LEADERS, I don’t believe they would want to show up at any demonstrations or events that target Psychiatry. And if the leaders did show up, their presence at the event would most likely be as a counter action AGAINST us.

    As for NAMI RANK AND FILE members, I would hope for them to show up, for it would be an opportunity to expose and educate these people about the harmful nature of Psychiatry and those organizations (like MAMI) conspiring with and “enabling” the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex.


  • To all:

    And BTW, not everyone who raises the issue of Scientology is trying to misdirect a discussion. Many people have heard that Scientology is somehow connected to the anti-psychiatry movement and may honestly want to know if this particular group is somehow connected. To view these inquiries as always contentious, and thus avoid answering the question, also creates more problems.

    The simplest solution is to be upfront and truthful in the briefest way possible by saying:

    “No, Scientology is a dangerous cult and I (and/or “we”) don’t associate with them”

    End of story; issue resolved!!!

    People who can’t or won’t make the above statement now confront either of the following issues:

    1) They have not correctly summed up the negative role of Scientology in the history of the movement against psychiatric abuse.
    2) Remain agnostic about the true nature of Scientology and don’t see the importance of understanding their true role in the world.
    3) Fall into a potentially dangerous form of pragmatism (of seeking harmful allies) when it comes to developing a political strategy to end psychiatric abuse.
    4) Are apologists and/or sympathizers with Scientology (having not done appropriate investigation into the above points).
    5) Or, they are outright members of Scientology and are hiding their affiliation.

    People who believe this is a distracting issue, or somehow not important enough to discuss at this time, don’t understand how pervasive Scientology (and all the issues associated with them) will become as our movement progresses beyond its current level of infancy.


  • Lawrence

    Keep writing and speaking out. As the only psychiatrist at MIA (and possibly among only a handful in the world) to take up a more radical ANTI-psychiatry type position, you are in a unique position to provoke a much needed discussion about these critical questions. Just take a look at the length of the comment section in this blog. And your other blogs have been equally as provocative in a good way.

    While I do not agree with the thrust of your main theme in this particular blog (as I stated way back in the comment section) this blog has advanced a number of important debates in out movement, such as:
    1) How do we assess the historical role of Freud?
    2) What does it mean to be “anti-psychiatry?
    3) Does “mental illness” exist”
    4) What is the role of “biology” in determining human thought and behavior?
    5) How do we sum up the strengths and weaknesses of Szasz’s contributions to the struggle against all forms of psychiatric abuse?
    6) What is the role of Scientology in this movement and should we allow ourselves to work with them or any of their front groups?

    These are all very important questions and hopefully this discussion in some way, both highlights the key issues of debate, and gets some of us closer to a more unified position.

    Carry on!


  • Oldhead

    You said: “What we’re talking about is falling into a trap of getting defensive any time anti-psychiatry is equated with Scientology.”

    Tell me, how the hell is it being defensive to tell someone the following statement?

    “No, we have no connections to Scientology; we believe they are a dangerous cult. And why are you using Scientology to divert this discussion?”

    I’d say that is both a very TRUTHFUL and OFFENSIVE response.

    And it is simply comprised of just 2 short sentences, with a total of 24 words. It completely ends the Scientology discussion once and for all.


  • Oldhead

    I can’t believe you have missed the point I am making here.

    Frank says he will work with anybody (regardless of their political beliefs or actions) who opposes forced treatment.

    I have repeatedly stated that certain lines (as to who we can unite with) need to drawn when doing this work, and that Scientology and their front groups represents one of those lines.

    So Oldhead, please answer the following question: if the KKK opposed forced treatment, would you agree to work with them? And if not, why not?


  • Lawrence

    Sounds like Freud was presenting a very static view of human nature that is also very much promoted by all the ruling elites in the world.

    This forms their justification for why capitalism corresponds to the so-called essential part of the human nature of all human beings. And that this is the best and highest form of human organization that people should expect in this world.

    Freud, obviously grew up during the time of Karl Marx and was exposed to his brilliant historical analysis of a class based society in the rise of capitalism. He obviously rejected this analysis because his ideas are in major conflict with the essence of Marxism and a class bassed analysis..

    What is the difference between saying that some people have so-called “mental disorders” (or “mental illness”) and/or saying that we all have them? All of this is abstracted from the material conditions in the world that give rise to certain patterns of thinking and behavior.


  • Another would clearly be the sharecropping system in the South that immediately followed the end of the Civil War. While Black people were no longer slaves, they were still enslaved to the remnants of the plantation system in a highly exploitative relationship with the large land owners. President Jackson removed the troops from the South which opened the door for the emerging KKK to run amuck and terrorize the people.

  • littleturtle

    You are looking at the role of “biology” in human behavior in a mechanical way. To promote the standard refrain of “bio/psycho/social,” is to remain stuck in a paradigm of thought that represents everything wrong with the status quo’s version of what actually represents the very fluid concept of human nature.

    After all, every Biological Psychiatrist will gladly parrot the “bio/psycho/social” refrain. And we also have to ask the question, why is “bio” ALWAYS listed first in this particular meaningless refrain? We do know that based on any careful examination of the way modern Psychiatry functions in the world, is that they pretty much all practice a “bio/bio/bio” approach in the real world.

    I suggest you read some of Robert Sapolsky’s (well known neuroscientist and primatologist) writings, including his short article titled “Peace Among Primates.” Here is a quote from that essay:

    “To an overwhelming extent, the age-old “nature versus nurture” debate is silly. The action of genes is completely intertwined with the environment in which they function; in a sense, it is pointless to even discuss what gene X does, and we should consider instead only what gene X does in environment Y. Nonetheless, if one had to predict the behavior of some organism on the basis of only one fact, one might still want to know whether the most useful fact would be about genetics or about the environment.”

    In this essay he clearly shows a real life example where “environment” clearly trumps (sorry for the use of this word) other factors in the ultimate determination of what are the primary behavioral influences within an on going culture of a particular subset of primates.

    All this provides some very important “food for thought” when we ponder what is going on in the world and how we should go about finding the best solutions for the most vexing problems facing humanity.


  • Frank

    Think about where Scientology gets its money? What is the essence of the relationship that its members have with the Mother organization?

    According to former members, it is the exact opposite of freedom, and based on “higher forms” of mind control backed by multiple forms of emotional trauma and at times physical abuse.


  • Steve

    You said: “You are letting your personal feeling get in the way of rational discussion,….You seem to be more looking for a forum to promote your view than the best tactics to stop a distracting attack on a rational critique of psychiatry.”

    My position on Scientology (and who we should allow ourselves to be allied with) is quite rational and based on summing up a long history of many prior political movements trying to change the world into a better place. I am not putting any kind of personal agenda above the important political decisions that must be decided in the course of building a successful human rights struggle.

    Any serious examination of the history of the movement against psychiatric abuse would reveal that prior associations with Scientology by Thomas Szasz, and more remotely by Peter Breggin, were tactical mistakes that damaged the credibility of their positions and aided our opposition in marginalizing our emerging movement.

    It is clear to me that Robert Whitaker and MIA have learned from that history and have made it a point to avoid any associations with Scientology. I wholeheartedly support their approach on this question.

    As I stated to Frank in a prior comment, building alliances are important, but we have to draw clear lines of demarcation when it comes to highly dangerous and oppressive groups like Scientology.

    You keep referring to Scientology as a “church” in your comments and I don’t ever remember you calling them a cult. This only serves to minimize their danger and add some sort of legitimacy to their claim of being in their essence a religious organization.

    Scientology has enormous financial reserves, large real estate holdings, and powerful legal teams propping up and defending the reputation and legitimacy of their organization. Unfortunately, they will not be going away for a long time.

    And as our movement grows in strength, the question of how to deal with Scientology will more often come forward as a burning question to be decided in the early stages for any emerging activist group fighting psychiatric abuse. It is very important that we get clear on this now or future mistakes will be made that set us back.

    Steve, you said in a prior comment the following: “…There MAY [my emphasis] be a number of things wrong with Scientology…”.

    To me this puts forward, at best, an agnostic position about the true nature of Scientology. Please read some of the personal accounts and internal documents related to this organization’s history and practice. They have destroyed many lives and do enormous harm to people and their families.

    Steve, I have always admired your positions at MIA. You are clearly better than this sort of agnosticism on such a vital question.

    Respectfully, Richard

  • Frank

    Where do you draw the line? Does that mean you would work with the KKK or a similar type group if they wanted to oppose forced treatment?

    I’m all for building alliances, but there has to be some lines drawn when it comes to certain political groups or ideology.


  • Steve

    The huge difference here and why your analogy does not work, is the fact that Scientology IS NOT a religion. Scientology, by any careful examination, is a dangerous and harmful cult.

    Only looking at the single issue of how incredibly difficult (and sometimes involving numerous forms of threats) it is to leave the organization, tells you that Scientology is not in the same category of being a religious organization.

    Why accept Scientology’s definition of who they are? They are dangerous cult masquerading as a religion.


  • Steve

    And then they can still counter with:

    “it’s obvious you are hiding something because you refuse to answer the question whether or not you are connected to Scientology.”

    Why not be 100% truthful with people AND totally remove Scientology from the discussion by saying:

    “No I have zero connection with Scientology and view them as a dangerous cult.”

    This completely ends the Scientology deflection, and you now have your protagonists on the defensive if they continue to raise it as an issue.

    Steve, my further question to you is: are you somehow leaving the option open for the possibility of working with Scientology or one of their front groups in the future by refusing to label them a dangerous cult?


  • Steve

    To continue the above dialogue:

    “Oh, so you are evading my question about affiliation with Scientology. What are you hiding here? And since when is a group like Scientology, called a religious group. Things I’ve read about them tells me its more than simply attending a church.”

    As one can see, your above approach has actually now given the protagonist in this situation even more ways to deflect the discussion (or debate etc.) by not addressing head on the real nature of Scientology.


  • And adding to my above post…

    If anyone asks me (or anyone else) if I’m ( or they) are associated with Scientology, this is my answer:

    “No, Scientology is a very dangerous cult organization, and any attempt by Psychiatry to make this association to me (or the activist group) is an effort to deflect attention away from their multiple crimes and forms of abuse perpetrated against millions of people around the world. Here is a list of those crimes and various forms of abuse…”


  • Lawrence

    You said: “… since the general public views the church of scientology as a bizarre, abusive, irrational cult…”

    To the extent that the public has such an impression, this is a very good thing.

    And the problem with ANY kind of association with Scientology goes beyond mere “guilt by association,” but includes some of the more informed people out there asking the following question:

    “why the hell would you [activists against psychiatric abuse], or anyone else, want to work with, or have any kind of relationship, with such a dangerous and fascist type organization? Why should I trust you or believe anything you write about or advocate for?”

    I believe people are completely justified in questioning the fundamental judgement of any person or group that decides to work with Scientology or any of their front groups.


  • Frank

    You said: “The CCHR is still around today.”

    This is a sad fact. The world would be MUCH BETTER off if CCHR (a front group) and Scientology went out of existence.

    They are a highly funded and powerful political (under the guise of religion) cult. Have you ever read some of the personal accounts of former members about the inner workings of this cult? The amount of psychological AND social forms of control they exercise over their members is one of those “higher forms” of modern slavery that I referenced earlier.

    I respect how desperate you are to see more active resistance against forced treatment, but settling for working with CCHR is NOT the way to go here. This is especially true when you examine the inner workings of this organization.

    When someone exposes a fascist organization like the KKK and their ilk (including Scientology), they are not somehow treating them like “lepers.” This is a false analogy.


  • Oldhead

    Whether or not psychoanalysis requires a medical degree, does not take away from the point that some current “Critical Psychiatry” people use it as one justification to continue Psychiatry as a medical specialty.

    And whether or not Szasz chose to label himself as anti-psychiatry (which he did not) does not mean that he was not part of an emerging anti-psychiatry movement.

    Certainly he provided some very penetrating and devastating critiques of psychiatry and the medical Model that still form some of the political and philosophical foundations for our future movement. Of course, his many political blind spots, as Frank has started to elucidate, undermined his ability to take things much further. That subject would make the basis of a very important book to be published in the future.


  • Frank

    You have made excellent points about Szasz’s political shortcomings.

    If Szasz had been a part of the anti-Imperialist (including Black Liberation and Women’s component) uprisings in the 1960’s and beyond, this might have helped pushed the struggle against psychiatrist abuse much more to the forefront of all the major human right’s struggles of our era. Please post some of the best sources of his writings to do further investigation.

    However, you minimize the seriousness of the pragmatic political (and possibly philosophical) errors he made working with Scientology.


  • Uprising

    I support your position here (on Szasz and Scientology) 100%.

    It was a huge tactical error for him to ally himself with a dangerous cult. Since Szasz was using pieces of the scientific method and approach to critically analyze Psychiatry, he could have (and should have) done the same with Scientology before working with them.

    Right Wing (of the Fascist ilk) talk show host, Michael Savage, is a big critic of psychiatry’s drugging of people. I would not want to come within a million miles of any kind of association with him or his talk show, even if he offered boatloads of on the air time.

    Unfortunately, Peter Breggin has made major tactical errors in the past appearing on his show several times.


  • Lawrence

    Thanks for your response.

    You said ” I merely suggested that we make use of what Freud has to offer to our society, despite his many serious, unforgivable flaws (just as we accept Thomas Jefferson’s democratic ideals even though he had slaves). I believe that the medical model’s widespread acceptance has dangerously put our country into a state of denial and helplessness, which calls for a Freudian-type analysis of our society itself, not its individuals. What is most important is that we succeed in our movement, and this might require allying ourselves with people whom we dislike or have some disagreements with, since they share our overall beliefs and common cause.”

    Rather than seeking a “Freudian-type analysis of our society” (which would be ultimately reactionary), we would be much better off with a neo-Marxian analysis which would sum up the strengths and weaknesses within the first round of socialist revolutions in the world that were ultimately defeated.

    And by the way, don’t count me in as one who defends Jefferson’s so-called “democratic ideals” which are not unlike conditions in ancient Greece where there was some semblance of “democracy” built upon a slave society.

    There is no such thing as real democracy in class based capitalist society. The existence of voting in the American economic and political system system covers over and obscures the brutal forms of human exploitation that have enabled the U.S. to achieve its number one Imperialist power position in the world. Not the least of these forms of exploitation was the first 100 years of economic growth that launched the U.S. empire on the backs of several million African slaves. Today there exists several different types of “higher forms” of human slavery, that hold back the overall of development of progress in human society.


  • I have to agree with many of the points raised by Steve McCrea and Slaying the Dragon.

    The people who one promotes as role models and/or to be emulated, has great moral and political significance in the world. An overall evaluation of the historical role of Freud would definitely lead to a conclusion that he caused FAR MORE harm than good.

    Lawrence, while I have supported many of your blogs, and gave you much kudos for a recent comment where you took a position for the abolition of Psychiatry (the very first psychiatrist at MIA to take such a position), this blog seems to resurrect some reasons to preserve a piece of Psychiatry for its ability to practice psychoanalysis.

    We all need to read, and/or reread Jeffrey Masson’s books where he has made a devastating critique of the political legacy of Sigmund Freud and discussed many of the power imbalances related to practicing therapy.

    As Steve pointed out, Freud totally betrayed ALL his female clients by disbelieving their sexual abuse narratives, and his cowardice in the face of criticism by colleagues (for originally writing about about high instances of female sexual abuse) leading to his unscientific and thoroughly sexist theories, has been a total disaster to both women and men around the world. We cannot underestimate the damage this has caused.

    To defend and promote Freud in today’s world is the political equivalent of minimizing the overall harm caused by Harvey Weinstein, by somehow saying he produced a few good movies over his lifetime.

    And Slaying the Dragon, while Thomas Szasz made enormous contributions to the anti-psychiatry movement, he was not without significant political shortcomings that actually short circuited the growth of the anti-psychiatry movement coming out of the 1960’s.


  • Sonja

    Thanks for this update and summary of the work being done on this bill. The resistance we have received from the Establishment on this very MODEST bill, is a string indicator of what we are up against and what kind of movement we will need to bring about the necessary changes to protect people from all forms of psychiatric abuse. It’s a long road ahead. I am glad that you are on that road and a part of this journey.


  • Ron

    Good blog. However, I believe the way that you articulated the process of “transformation” and “recovery” comes across as being only attached to the individual going through their period of madness ABSTRACTED from their subsequent interactions with the material world around them.

    You said: “Just “recovering” one’s previous way of functioning is not so likely to work, because usually something wasn’t working prior to the psychosis. It was that which set off the psychosis, and if that isn’t changed, any “recovery” may not be worth much, as the problems, and so the need to transform, will likely still be present, and will tend to cause other problems or even set off another psychotic episode….Success for them is defined not as staying anchored in “this world” or way of looking at things, but in traveling to other worlds or views, coming back to this one to share and connect, then traveling again, etc.”

    Where is the concept of the individual (along with others in their social group) “transforming” the material world around them that is not meeting their needs and/or that is causing them harm or some form of trauma?

    I believe we transform ourselves as we attempt to transform the world around us.

    So when an individual going through a period of “madness” (followed by a “successful recovery”) reengages with the world around them, this will usually necessitate learning something about the nature of their original problems and finding new ways to deal with them. This may involve new cognitive and behavioral adaptations which INCLUDES attempting to change the people and the environment around them. This might also involve leaving one’s toxic surroundings and moving to a new chosen environment.

    This is all another way of describing the following dialectical process: “In order to know the world (in a deep going way) we must be actively involved in changing it, and in order to change the world (in a deep going way) we must know it better.”


  • Lawrence

    You said: “So it’s best that we here at Mad in America put an end to psychiatry before it harms our entire society beyond repair.”

    I have followed and commented on your writings here at MIA over the past year, but this is the FIRST TIME you have taken a decisive ALL THE WAY “anti-psychiatry” position.

    I applaud your in depth exposures of the oppressive psychiatric paradigm of so-called “treatment,” and now your leap to a full blown position calling for an end to Psychiatry. YOU ARE THE FIRST PSYCHIATRIST WHO WRITES HERE AT MIA TO TAKE SUCH A RADICAL POLITICAL STANCE!

    This is a VERY SIGNIFICANT political development in the movement against all forms of psychiatric abuse and in the long term efforts to eventually abolish Psychiatry.

    I hope you, along with all of us other anti-psychiatry activists, can find a way to build upon and expand this form of political and scientific protest. History demands this from us. “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win.”


  • Eve

    I applaud your willingness to speak out and share the depth of your alienation and moral dilemmas working as a psychiatrist in this country.

    In my own experience, I also witnessed, first hand (while working as a therapist for 23 years in community mental health) the complete takeover of this oppressive (disease/drug based) medical model. I finally resigned in protest in Sept. of 2015. I share your utter contempt for what is happening and your angst while searching for a way to now make a meaningful difference in the world.

    I would, however, ask you to ponder for a moment your following statement:

    “We psychiatrists were once “soul teachers,” which is the true meaning of the word psychiatrist. Not that long ago, our work involved stepping into the deepest recesses of our patients’ worlds, and partnering with them to find healing and transformation.”

    While this above statement bears some truth regarding the role of some people working as psychiatrists in the past, it does also ignore the very dark history related to the history of lobotomies, Electro-Shock, and other harmful forms of control and experimentation on millions of psychiatric victims.

    Even if all psychiatric drug prescriptions were ended today, there would still be a critically important supportive role that dissident psychiatrists could play (for several decades) in helping millions of victims find a way to safely withdraw from (and/or reduce their reliance on) toxic drug substances.

    Dissident psychiatrists could also organize and systematically find ways to to challenge and expose every facet of Biological Psychiatry’s oppressive paradigm, by disrupting business as usual in every professional gathering of psychiatrists and other doctors around the world.

    And lastly, I would challenge all dissident psychiatrists writing here at MIA to consider the decisive role they could play by now calling for the actual end of Psychiatry as a specific medical specialty. Since there is no scientific basis to support DSM diagnoses along with the specious concept of so-called “mental illness,” current psychiatrists could choose to become some type of therapist/counselor or choose to transition to neurology.

    Perhaps holding on to the psychiatric M.D. ONLY to provide support for psychiatric victims involved in drug tapering, AND to maintain a credential for organizing purposes while shaking up professional medical gatherings.

    Eve, thanks again for writing, and I hope you are open to critical feedback as well as support for your valiant efforts in speaking out.


  • It’s called CAPITALISM. Genuine science and capitalism are not, and never will be, compatible. The profit motive inherently corrupts and misdirects all scientific endeavors. In this historical era, this outmoded system stands as THE major impediment to the advance of all human social development.


  • Jay

    Your research and writings are invaluable; please know that many people are educated and inspired by your work.

    And I very much appreciate your above response to Bonnie. This emphasis by some researchers on the so-called preventative and curative nature of better nutrition, can become as distracting and misleading as those who are presenting the genetic/disease based theories. Both approaches misdirect people away from any type of critical analysis of the gross inequalities in the world that serve as the basis for trauma and highly stressful daily human experience.


  • Steve and Gretchen

    Steve, I agree, and I will take your comment to an even higher level.

    This blog had some well written and positive exposure of the poly-drug crisis in this country. But its conclusions were hugely disappointing and utopian as to any kind of solution for this corporate engineered epidemic that is killing hundreds of thousands of people.

    First off, it is wrong (and lets many institutions off the hook) to continue calling this an “opioid epidemic.” This is a POLY-DRUG CRISIS!

    Ninety percent of the people who die from an overdose have other drugs in their system. Benzos are often the key component in the fatal drug cocktails that ultimately stop heart and lung function. There is documented evidence that benzos are involved at least 30% of the time; my estimate would be closer to 50% of the time. THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO THE OPIATE PROBLEM WITHOUT A SOLUTION TO THE BENZO PROBLEM!

    How can anyone who watched the 60 Minute expose on the colluding elements of federal government agencies and Big Pharma, actually believe that just trying to call for Big Pharma to somehow fund the solution to this poly-drug crisis, will actually bring about the desired results???

    With all the crimes perpetrated by Big Pharma and their CEO’s in promoting harmful drugs over the past 4 decades, not a single CEO has spent one day in jail for these crimes. During this same period of time pharmaceutical corporations have been fined tens of billions of dollars. This turns out to be just the cost of doing business since these pharmaceutic corporation have some of the highest rates of profit of any industries in this capitalist economy.

    Unless and until a government and legal system exists that will put on trial and jail people who commit these types of crimes against humanity, there will be NO solution to the poly-drug crisis, or any other such social injustice. Any other so-called solution short of this, is simply utopian and misleading when it comes to where people should be expending their energies in some kind of movement.

    And Gretchen, I am giving this feedback with the utmost respect for someone who I believe is very well intentioned in their efforts to bring some light to a vitally important issue. I hope you are open to such feedback.

    Respectfully, Richard