Saturday, January 19, 2019

Comments by Steve Spiegel

Showing 100 of 474 comments. Show all.

  • Open Dialogue is more successful than other “treatments” because it addresses “mental illness” like it is a myth (a social problem with living). It is more successful when addressing emotional suffering within a community that has more empathy for emotional sufferers. It is less successful within the US because the larger community is more hostile, and the program is more “technical” (like it is addressing “mental illness” rather than a problem with living) and therefore more expensive.

  • Please consider a different perspective: Your life experiences including your experiences with your “ex” are extremely distressful; your distress causes emotional suffering that is painful. It is natural for people in extreme fatigue and people in extreme pain (both physical and emotional) to have delusions and hallucinations. Unfortunately, you believe the accepted medical model paradigm led by psychiatry that advocates that delusions and hallucinations are symptoms of a pathology. It is hard to understand how psychiatry pathologizes sadness because its “medical model” is a classical paradigm. A classical paradigm is accepted by most people without question; our community generally believes that sadness is unnatural regardless of cruel and unjust life circumstances. The least fortunate 2% of the population have a human right to avoid abuse and a human right to suffer from abusive experiences according to the UN commission on human rights.

    All emotions are natural; they are direct reflections of personal experience. Your fear of your ex is natural regardless of an “objective analysis”; you earned your fear the hard way. It is a crime against humanity to pathologize sadness.

    Your husband comes from a family rife with emotional suffering from distressful circumstances (rather than “mental illness”). He learned empathy for emotional suffering including the suffering of an uncle who took his own life when the natural emotional pain (and hopelessness for relief) became overwhelming. He understands the value of emotional support for symptoms of emotional suffering rather than treat the behaviors as symptoms of “mental illness.” Supportive environments promote emotional well-being; in contrast, pathologizing natural emotional suffering worsens distress.

  • It sounds like “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” “Writing a memoir for years” is a great idea and will help you better understand yourself and the world around you. Your courage in addressing hostile comments will serve you well; you will become wiser in “learning to be less offensive” as you better understand views that “are difficult to explain.” I am looking forward to reading more of your perspective. Please feel free to use me for a sounding board if you like; I can be reached through a free therapy program that I administer at

  • I experienced post-trauma stress; I suffered emotionally for years after the trauma. My response was a “normal” reaction to my unique experiences with the wrongful deaths of over a half million people. Instead of acknowledging my natural reaction to my life circumstances, psychiatry invented PTSD. “Personality disorders” exist like PTSD exists; they are made-up diseases that pathologize natural reactions to trauma.

  • People seek emotional well-being (positive emotions) and avoid emotional suffering (negative emotions). Happiness and confidence are expressions of emotional well-being while sadness and fear are expressions of emotional suffering (and related coping styles deemed disabling). Consistently, common behavior patterns that express emotional suffering are described in categories by the DSM. Loving someone generally promotes emotional well-being for the person being loved; in contrast, psychiatry generally promotes emotional suffering for clients by pathologizing their natural emotional suffering.

  • This is a discussion of “Hard Science vs. Soft Science.” “Hard Science” is real science; it uses the “scientific method” to address the physical world. “Soft Science” is “sciency”; it uses the “scientific method” to address the non-physical world. Soft science contradicts the most fundamental principle of science (parsimony) and cannot be falsified (in contrast to the philosophy of science). Medical sciences are biological sciences- real science that addresses the physical world; actually, medical science is real science except for psychiatry that addresses a philosophy of “mind.” Psychiatry is soft science (“social science”) that masquerades as hard science- real science.

  • “If one takes the work of these researches work to ALL its ultimate conclusion (looking at the social and political role of psychiatry in today’s world), there is NO OTHER justice worthy conclusion than to *abolish* psychiatry.”

    Richard, this makes perfect sense if the researchers were not hedging their bets with their terminology and thus implying that there is still some kind of medical “disorder” being addressed consistent with KindredSpriit’s larger comment above.

  • I wish that I had saved a post at MIA by a psychiatrist who described the brain volume loss as due to atrophy from under-utilization of nervous tissue. He described how brain volume loss was only common in older institutionalized patients until “biological” psychiatry replaced “Freudian” psychiatry with more drugs. Since then, he is witnessing brain atrophy in “patients” at substantially earlier ages based on sedating nervous tissue with neuroleptics.

  • “From the very beginning, psychiatry was co-opted by governments to do the dirty work of eliminating people who are different from some arbitrary “norm.”
    Not true: from the very beginning, religion was co-opted by governments to do the dirty work of eliminating people who are different from some arbitrary “norm” through accusations of “demonic possession.”

    “It’s easier to call for the destruction of something than to engage in the process of inventing something new.”
    I call for the destruction of “arbitrary ‘norms'” (both secular and non-secular); I do not want to “engage in the process of inventing something new” that can define “arbitrary norms.” Psychiatry pathologizes natural emotional suffering (and coping methods deemed disabling- non-conforming, non-productive and/or disruptive) consistent with “exorcist” priests who advocate against “demonic possession.” Actually, destroying psychiatry by exposing the hoax will “invent something new”: an understanding of our humanity (the expression of extreme emotional suffering from extremely distressful experiences).

  • This is a great article for parents who attend your workshop (parents with “regrets” or “shame”); parental honesty about shortcomings and weaknesses empowers children with more truth about their distressful experiences. Parents who care about their children and try to be nurturing deserve sympathy and more resources; parents who promote the myth of “mental illness” as a defense against parental shortcomings do not deserve sympathy.

  • I consider myself a natural scientist so I appreciate the effort by Enrico to consider a natural science perspective of anxiety; I also appreciate his allowing me to offer a different perspective. In contrast to the most fundamental principle of science- parsimony, I believe that Enrico is presenting an “Evolutionary Psychology” perspective of anxiety that lacks “parsimony.” Parsimony is the principle of Ockham’s razor: “all other things being equal, simpler theories are better” (“Fewer assumptions make better science”). “Evolutionary Psychologists” freely move from general evolutionary theory to explaining specific behaviors while they do not understand the process; making broad assumptions about the product of an unknown mental process is not science.

    Thereafter, Enrico shifts from a pseudo natural science perspective to a humanistic-existential perspective that describes anxiety as “signifying something of significance that is being emotionally disavowed, or that life-enhancing sources of self-fulfillment are not being attended to.” A simple evolutionary perspective seems like better science: anxiety is the negative feeling (emotion) of distressful experiences that promotes their avoidance.

  • “So you’ve got a depressed man with delusions and hallucinations – what’s the plan?” Since depression is a naturally painful expression of depressing life circumstances, I would ask if there was anything that I could do to help. I would promote more justice if possible, but since I would probably have little ability to promote more justice, I would generally offer empathy. I would also reference a therapy program that understands emotional suffering as natural consistent with Unified Alternative Therapies (free online at, Open Dialogue and e-CPR.

  • Psychiatry is the “main”, medical “means” of “dealing” with “mental/emotional distress”; this is harmful since emotional suffering is not a medical problem. An “alternative” to understanding emotional suffering as a medical problem is understanding emotional suffering as a spiritual problem as with “demonic possession.” A more truthful “alternative” to psychiatry and its medical interpretation of emotional suffering is understanding emotional expressions of distress as natural. I think people need to understand this alternative to psychiatry in order to understand psychiatry.

  • I used the term “client” to address the “business” obligation of a “therapist/counselor” in our (capitalistic) society. Lawyers and therapists are contracted to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own interests related to the type of work provided. Sexual behavior is about self-interest so this type of relationship should not qualify for “tough love.”

  • I agree that this should not be about personalities and that Will could improve his “‘therapeutic’ skills” with more insight into psychiatry, but I sought more sensitivity to what I perceived as an expression of deep emotional suffering from a person working hard to do right by others.

    I thought that the term “patient” was the worse term because it implied a business relationship based on medical science. I thought that “client” referenced the fact that counselors/therapists have a fiduciary (business) duty to people that they “counsel.” I assume that you dislike the term “client” because it implies a balanced relationship when many (most?) people do not voluntarily seek counseling (and fewer are treated with the respect that “clients” are due and generally are afforded). I believe that I used the term properly in the above context but agree that it hardly applies to most situations as counselors/therapists rarely respect the business relationship. What is your preferred term to reference those in “counseling/therapy”?

  • You have worked tirelessly in support of the marginalized; I am sorry that your work does not give you more comfort. The abuse that you have experienced in your life seems to make you especially sensitive to the emotional suffering of others. This seems to make you an especially good therapist for everyone but yourself; you are not protecting yourself from abuse.

    Abused people often seek pure honesty and fail to notice the standard social practice of criticizing friends and colleagues with a “good cop, bad cop” routine. In other words, when a friend says something objectionable while thinking that you are supportive, people often respond about how others now consider the comment objectionable. This leaves your personal criticism vague while supporting the general criticism of the transgression. “Bold” people may consider this a “weak” approach to conflict resolution but I consider it a communication tool. It is easy to be bold with strangers and others’ companies but difficult to criticize friends and one’s business colleagues.

    Abused people also tend to seek redemption for transgressions through public “confession”; I understand your article to promote this policy. I do not believe that most people are willing to avail themselves of honest confessions; it exposes them to more public ridicule. Most people seek redemption through private acts to protect themselves from criticism. Thus standard “office politics” promotes criticizing colleagues (or the company) in private and complimenting them in public. I believe that your old company feels like it provides the community a valuable service that is compromised by your public criticism; I believe it will focus more on protecting itself than on your criticism.

    I have admired your work for years and am sorry to hear that you are not comforted more from your legacy of “giving.” I contend that all emotions are natural and that the DSM pathologizes the natural emotional suffering of the marginalized; I am sorry that your suffering has been pathologized and that you are sensitive to these false labels. You deserve to be appreciated for your commitment to justice and to live in a world with more justice.

  • Will has worked tirelessly to care for the marginalized in the community; he deserves the same respect we afford Dr. Breggin.

    I disagree with your support of Frank’s comment- that this post “feels vaguely self-indulgent.” Will emotionally suffers from feeling complicit in working for a counseling company led by someone who denigrated the clientele; he tried to rectify the matter as best he knew how.

    I also believe that the “women involved” are being “elevated” to “clients” rather than “reduced” to clients; the term “client” references the professional relationship and legal obligation to provide “professional” care.

  • I disagree: “Sexuality is ALWAYS going to be a sensitive issue. If one is going to blow the whistle on anything, I’d want it to be on something more important than some minor sexual indiscretion or other.” Sex is USUALLY a sensitive issue EXCEPT between a therapist and a client wherein I believe that it should be criminal- a breach of fiduciary duty.

  • I believe that the line between a moral injury (a “neurosis”) and an illness (a “psychosis”) is hazy regarding “shell shock.” I believe that shell shock was generally considered a moral injury until it caused “psychosis” (an “illness”) but I generally do not understand these terms. I know that there were hundreds of thousands of allied vets treated in medical hospitals that were “cured” by the ending of the war.

  • In 1917, medical wards filled with soldiers traumatized by trench warfare; their “mental illness” was labeled “shell shock.” Freudian theory provided a revolutionary understanding of “mental illness” and was used to treat the “shell shocked.” After the war, Freudian theory proved so “effective” that it emptied the psych wards of the “psychotic”; it was heralded as a miracle understanding of “psychosis” and “therapy.”

    The history of the “shell shocked” should teach us that “psychosis” is caused by trauma and that placebos are about hope. “Shell shocked” soldiers returned home as “cured” from a “common illness” rather than “cowards” from the trauma of orders to charge an entrenched enemy in trench warfare. Instead the history of the “shell shocked” was lost to the context of the War in Vietnam and the failure of Freudian theory to explain human psychology and “psychosis.” PTSD replaced “shell shocked” because the trauma had a different specific cause and PTSD enabled psychiatry to include other types of adult trauma as causation for their myth of “mental illness.”

    PTSD pathologizes natural reactions to trauma.

  • I experienced a reversal of fortune from experiences of extreme emotional well-being during my childhood to extreme emotional suffering following trauma during early adulthood. Since I have experienced the two extremes of emotions, I have experienced two different worlds. I did not know that I lived in a privileged world of emotional well-being because I worked so hard for my “successes” and advocated for the marginalized. I believed that I had empathy for the marginalized until I became marginalized. Thereafter, I realized that natural sadness (anxiety and depression) can be far more constant and painful than I could had imagined (and can promote suicide ideation from hopelessness about alleviating the pain). Emotional suffering can be far more painful than most people realize because most people cannot imagine emotional suffering greater than they have experienced (or distressful experiences more distressful than they experience).

  • I contend that psychiatry has reified sadness (emotional suffering) into a disease- that psychiatry is “trauma denial.” I assume that the “trauma-informed thing” will become increasingly popular because it is closer to the truth and pushed by most Critical Psychiatrists. I seek to understand why “trauma-informed care” does not equate to the abolition of psychiatry (“trauma denial”). I believe that emotional suffering will be understood as natural after exposing the myth of “mental illness” as the philosophical equivalent of the theological myth of “demonic possession.”

  • Rachel,
    “Dr. Breggin has said abusive families and trauma cause the “break” which causes people to be psychiatrized.” I understand Dr. Breggin’s concept of “the break” to refer to the “medical model.” I experienced emotional suffering from trauma so intense that I could no longer sense physical pain as adverse, but it was all a natural reaction to unbelievably distressful experiences.

  • Doctor, thank you for allowing me to respond and for your community service. You describe happiness more specifically as “love” and then describe all “emotional disorders” as “disorders” of “love”; you are pathologizing sadness. There are no emotional “disorders”; all emotions are natural and valid. Consistent with most cultural leaders, you are unable to imagine true misfortune (unfortunate life circumstances). Natural emotional suffering can be as painful as any real pathology but is not a medical problem; psychiatry is “trauma denial.”

  • Ms. Hurford heard a youth express pain and confusion after childhood abuse; Ms. Hurford suggests drugs, you suggest vitamins, and I suggest justice. Good nutrition is far better “therapy” than drugs but pales in comparison to justice which was obviously lacking for this confused youth as he tries to transition from childhood to adulthood.

  • Thank you for your community service and for this blog. My only disagreement pertains to confusion with your term “madness.”

    “There is a pressing need to understand how things such as abuse, poverty, oppression, injustice, racism, and other adversity impact our mental health and overall well-being. Common sense, of course, would tell us that it essentially drives a person mad over time… Regardless, it’s imperative that any person or system in a helping position consider the context of suffering and what has happened in a person’s life that led to his or her current state of mind.”

    I thought that “trauma-informed” care was about understanding how traumas cause mental distress (natural emotional suffering or coping styles deemed disabling) rather than about a “context of suffering” within a “mental state” of “madness.” How does a “mental state” of “madness” differ from other concepts of “mental disorders?”

  • Sad fact: if it is “science” that supports psychiatry, it is pseudoscience. It is pseudoscience to claim that 80% (of a small sampling) of FEP subject participants were deficient in vitamin D without noting that 75% of the general population is considered deficient in vitamin D. My source is the top entry from my Google search for vitamin D deficiency from a Scientific American article in the Journal of the American Medical Association ( The balance of the BS can be attributed to Confirmation Bias and/or Experimenter Bias.

  • The “othering process” is problematic but I believe that the following statement is more problematic; “we all experience distress at some point in our lives” This statement erroneously implies that distressful experiences are similar- that the distressful experiences of community leaders are similar to the distressful experiences of the marginalized and disenfranchised. I believe that this false assumption provides psychiatry with substantial false legitimacy and should be criticized whenever possible.

  • Thank you for your article and allowing me to comment. Freudians might want to re-visit this statement; “The “Autism war” turned out to be very costly for psychoanalysts.” The rate of “autism” was documented at 1:2000 before Freudian theory was abandoned by psychiatry; the rate is now documented at 1:59.

    I believe that psychiatry pathologizes emotional suffering (and coping styles deemed disabling) as a generally unrecognized tool of social control of the marginalized and disenfranchised. I believe that this is changing as criticism of psychiatry increases; consistently, I encourage Freudians to revisit the “autism wars” to address the epidemic of “autism.”

  • It sounds like you are an empathetic counselor that provides valuable assistance to the marginalized. However, I disagree with the implication of following statement: “Binary distinctions between ‘service users’ and ‘professionals’ … are often unhelpful as we all experience distress at some point in our lives.” I believe that different life circumstances naturally produce radically different intensity of distress and that few experience the intensity of emotional pain experienced by the least fortunate in the community. Thus describing some people acting “markedly differently to the way most people generally handle situations in their lives” discounts their unusually distressful experiences.

  • I am sorry to hear you needing to defend your mother against the injustice of the “mental health system” and a culture that has little time or patience for “old folks.” I am reminded of my experiences with my elderly mother after my father died; her doctor tortured her by treating her natural emotional suffering like a mysterious brain disease. Her doctor could have helped a little with a sincere comment of empathy for her plight but instead caused her more pain by pathologizing her natural suffering.

  • I am sorry that I am struggling with my own issues and have no ability to assist you more than offering a few suggestions. Perhaps there are some counselors or “peer specialists” in your area that could assist in getting you started with volunteer work and addressing unfair invasions into your world.

    “Restorative justice” is rare and difficult to achieve in this world; people want to move past their mistakes (learn from them rather than pay restitution for them). That is why my suggestions center on seeking personal justice through seeking justice for others in similar circumstances.

  • I agree that “MIA is not fighting hard enough for restorative justice or even due process for juveniles”, but whose fault is it. MIA is comprised of individuals with a multitude of different complaints about the harm caused by the current “mental health system.” MIA is not a homogeneous entity; it fights only as hard as the sum of our collective voices including yours.

    I agree that coercion causes the harm and that if we could stop the coercion we would stop the harm, but it is the legitimacy of psychiatry that legitimizes (causes) the coercion. Psychiatry advocates that some people are “mentally ill”- not of “sound mind.” Our society compassionately seeks medical assistance (psychiatry) for people when they are “mentally ill” and “not responsible” for their “antisocial” behaviors. Thus the coercion is widely considered “compassionate care” rather than terrifying “human rights abuses”; this is based on the legitimacy of psychiatry. Psychiatry legitimizes coercive “treatments”; you cannot stop the coercion while psychiatry retains legitimacy.

  • A child should never be the target of abuse; I am sorry that society failed you.

    Evidently, forty years ago you behaved in a manner that was labeled a “hate crime”; these types of behaviors are hopefully unwanted in our society. Evidently, you consider this an unjust label for your behavior that continues to give you grief as an unfair reflection of who you are. You seem to have a problem distancing yourself from people who want to unfairly label you. Consistently, you seem illogically frustrated about an inability to enlighten others about their unjust attitude towards you while describing how their attitudes serve a valuable purpose for them.

    I do not know you, and even if I did know you, any advice I offer could be completely wrong (so I hope others will chime in with criticism of my advice or offer better suggestions). Nevertheless, may I suggest you first try to understand whether you feel guilt about the 1981 incident, anger about misplaced blame for the incident, or both. If you feel guilt about the incident, I suggest that you spend time “clearing your conscience”; counter the guilt with behaviors that make you deserving of forgiveness. Thus if the incident targeted a specific race, gender, religion, etc., spend time supporting an organization that defends the rights of the targeted group. On the other hand, if you feel anger about being the “fall guy” for problems in different social circles, I suggest that you spend time countering the anger about misplaced blame. Specifically, I suggest that you support organizations that defend children against child abuse; it seems like you would be a passionate advocate for disenfranchised children. If you feel both guilt and anger about the 1981 incident, then I suggest that you spend time addressing both issues.

    Best wishes, Steve

  • I appreciate your willingness to allow me to respectfully disagree with you; I agree with your hypothesis but disagree with your conclusion. I agree with your hypothesis: “But the only way out of the epidemic of feeling-people-turned-medicated-psychiatric-patients is to rebrand and reframe feeling as a cultural collective.” But I disagree with your conclusion; “Thus, healing from depression necessarily involves a reframing of beliefs and a shifting of mindset around the meaning of this emotional bandwidth and more inclusive orientation.”

    While much of your article implies that sadness is a natural human emotion, your conclusion implies that sadness is not directly related to sad experiences. Within the current psychology paradigm that pathologizes sadness, it may be difficult to understand the natural, direct connection. I contend that depressing experiences cause depression and that “healing” from depression involves avoiding depressing experiences. This typically means understanding causation (that can be difficult within the current psychology paradigm) and thereafter avoiding or countering the causal experiences. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to figure how to avoid significantly depressing experiences in our society today. Nevertheless, “clinical depression” pathologizes natural depression (especially of the marginalized and disenfranchised) that typically starts within a family nexus but is not limited therein.

    The only way out of the epidemic of “feeling-people-turned-medicated-psychiatric-patients” is to reframe sadness as the natural response to sad experiences (and reframe depression as the natural response to depressing experiences). People experience the world differently; depressed victims of incestuous rape will generally “heal” faster with “justice” (an acknowledgement of the atypical injustice and a concerted effort by the community to “right the wrong”) than by rebranding the experience.

  • The DSM pathologizes the problem with “Attachment Reactive Disorder” but I do not believe a word of it.

    I believe that we initially learn to understand the world through our parents; during formative years, we learn about happiness and how to achieve it and learn about distress and how to avoid it. If parents struggle to achieve emotional well-being, their children will often perceive of the world as cruel and unjust. This is traumatic for children (an Aversive Childhood Experience) and promotes sympathy for their parents’ plight and an attachment to the family. However, Aversive Childhood Experiences are often caused by abusive parental behaviors that make the relationship problematic. It might be preferable for children to believe that their parents are just plain crazy for targeting them unjustly for abuse (in contrast to the rest of the world) so it is easier to detach from the dysfunction and start anew.

  • Toddlers predominately learn stress from their parents; I contend that cultural stress is causing parents increasing stress that is problematic (confusing/distracting/distressful) for childhood development.

    There is no general consensus about the statistics for “autism”; general confusion about the statistics prompted my questioning your figure (I was not mocking a math error). The baseline for my statistics comes from scientific research during 1980-2000; the CDC now rejects all statistics before 2000 as under-reported, but I do not. The CDC started over about 2000 with a much higher figure of 1:400-800 “based on better accounting” of the newly defined “spectrum.” Thereafter the CDC claimed better accounting for a 1:170 statistic until better accounting now promotes the 1:59 figure. The CDC claims no significant increase in “autism” while I claim that their own statistics since 2000 describe an epidemic. I do not know the real statistics (as if that is possible) but I did not want to let a “60-fold increase” pass unchallenged when I was defensive about my statistics of a 30-fold increase.

  • Specifically, I do not know what caused the behaviors expressed in the video referenced above but I believe that these types of behaviors generally express environmental stress (“an increase in cultural stress on children to ‘achieve’”). I believe that this is a “neuro-developmental” problem caused by an environmental change to a more stressful culture for children. I do not believe that radiation from modern technology can account for the epidemic. BTW, I have not heard of references to an increase in “autism” greater than 30-fold (which is a staggering figure).