Friday, March 22, 2019

Comments by Steve Spiegel

Showing 100 of 502 comments. Show all.

  • “Alarmingly, between 2005 and 2017, the occurrence of a major depressive episode in the last year leapt 52% among adolescents, and 63% among young adults.” This epidemic of “mental illness” represents either an alarming increase in depressing experiences among our adolescents and young adults or an alarming public health crisis. We must immediately consider whether an enemy has released some kind of mysterious pathogen targeting our youth or whether their “major depression” is caused by their “majorly depressing experiences.”

  • The researchers are unable to replicate any support for genetic causation of depression consistent with their inability to replicate any genetic causation for any “mental illness”; the inability to replicate is the story here. Jay Joseph has written books and blogs on this subject; genetic research is bad science based on failure to do “double-bind studies” and control for the confirmation bias (besides failure to replicate). Depressive experiences cause depression; unfortunately, researchers cannot quantify this hypothesis nor falsify it.

  • I am sorry that I was slow to realize that you responded here to my letter.

    I believe that your blog post is exceptionally articulate and that you speak professionally on your YouTube productions; I want to encourage you further. I believe that there is a problem with publishing on YouTube; once a video is published, there is no opportunity to further edit it. I would like to suggest considering a video streaming website like Vimeo where you can publish, edit and republish for increased impact. You have excellent presentation skills; my criticism of psychiatry ( has improved substantially with editing but would nevertheless be much improved if I possessed your on-camera talent.

    I look forward to your MIA interview and hope to discuss psychiatry with you further.

    Best wishes, Steve

  • What is wrong with Szasz’ term “problems with living” and “people experiencing ‘problems with living’?”

    I contend that psychiatry pathologizes expressions of natural emotional suffering. The World Health Organization supports psychiatry by defining “mental health” as “emotional well-being” and thereby implying that natural emotional suffering is pathological. I like the term “problems with living” because it is broad enough to go beyond emotional suffering to include other natural problems with living that the DSM pathologizes as unnatural.

  • I mostly agree with you and admire your approach; it seems valuable for replicating. I believe that all emotional suffering is natural based on personal experience. I specify emotional suffering from “cruel and unjust life circumstances” as a means to challenge psychiatry’s advocacy that emotional suffering is unnatural regardless of life circumstances.

    However, you seem to support my point about distressful life circumstances with this concluding remark: “Sometimes, we do it to ourelves, with our own critical and self-judgmental voices, which would be what we carry inside of us due to early trauma.” It seems like a distressful, “unjust life circumstance” to carry critical self-judgement due to early trauma.

  • Steve just said: “the problem with ‘mental health’ is that it implies that people who are suffering are somehow ‘ill'”; I agree totally. “Mental health” implicitly legitimizes “mental illness” and “mental illness” pathologizes natural emotional suffering (emotional pain) from distressful personal experience- from cruel and unjust life circumstances.

    Steve also said that “mental health” “means not being upset in any way with the status quo.” I agree assuming that “the status quo” references the cruel and unjust life circumstances that cause natural emotional suffering.

    Steve also said: “controlling language is part of controlling the narrative”; I totally agree. I have experienced extreme emotional suffering from cruel and unjust life circumstances that naturally promoted behaviors that the DSM describes as “bipolar disorder.” My emotional pain caused me to react in ways that others might consider “irrational” but this is unfair focus since expressions of physical pain are generally irrational and not judged as pathological. People experiencing physical torture see visions and hear voices but are not judged as “mentally ill.” Personally, I relate to having been an “emotional sufferer”; I consider terms like “crazy” or “nuts” or “bonkers” to falsely imply that my thinking or behavior was less than natural.

  • Thank you for this article; it is a community service. I contend that neuroleptics have a sedative affect that naturally causes a loss of brain volume (nervous tissue volume) through atrophy. Neuroleptics have a sedative effect that reduces nervous tissue usage; reduced nervous tissue usage causes atrophy consistent with how reduced usage causes atrophy of all other body tissues. Increased brain activity from cessation of neuroleptics will increase nervous tissue volume (brain volume) consistent with rebuilding muscle tissue when a cast is removed. It is illogical for scientists to attribute loss of brain volume to a mythical disease when it is readily understandable through basic physiology theory.

  • Psychiatry is a nocebo by advocating the myth of “mental illness”; a nocebo promotes negative health outcomes through negative thinking (consistent with how a placebo promotes positive health outcomes through positive thinking). Testing for “problems with living” that are intended to predict “psychosis” (increased “problems with living” pathologized by psychiatry) creates a “self-fulfilling prophecy” that harms health- real (physical) health.

  • This is an excellent article; thank you Bruce. I would like to add that psychiatrists are often more authoritarian than other “doctors” because they do not know what they are doing, have little success in their “practice”, and resent their patients for not affirming their medical school “expertise.” This is also the reason psychiatrists have a higher rate of suicide than other “medical” professions.

  • I consider your blog post to be articulate and am interested in more of your work but find it difficult to follow. I expected your website to be collections of your criticisms of psychiatry; instead it looks like a “fabulous” collection of home furnishings for sale. You speak well on your 50 YouTube videos but they do not appear to be categorized or integrated so their relative value is hard to determine. Is there a way to contact you for more information about your work?

  • Psychiatry has reified the metaphor “mental illness” into a subject addressed by a “medical science”; the “debate” I envision addresses the illogic of reifying a metaphor. “Mental illness” is one of the few metaphors (together with “mental health”) that is considered literally true; this foolishness needs to be identified.

    I consider the “debate” about whether human suffering is due to a “neurological problem” or “social conditions” to be equally foolish in nature but also equally important. The disconnect between distressful experiences and emotional suffering seems foolish but this denial of our basic humanity is widely accepted and needs challenging.

    Nevertheless, I agree that the most important debate is about “messaging”- how best to expose the truth about psychiatry.

  • I agree that you are in excellent company in the belief that the biggest problem with psychiatry lies with its police power but the source of that power lies with its false scientific (medical) legitimacy. I agree that psychiatry would collapse from the weight of the truth if it lost its police powers but I do not believe that society will restrain psychiatry as long as medical science legitimizes the myth of “mental illness.” If a medical science tells society that “diagnosed people” are a “danger to themselves and others”, coercive “treatments” are a natural result… to protect “patients” from themselves (as well as protecting society). There may be plenty of situations where an MD might be helpful with “diagnosed people” but the legitimacy of psychiatry and its myth of “mental illness” seem like their biggest problem.

  • I find this article to be one of the more compelling and articulate that I have read here at MIA; thank you for your community service. Nevertheless, I have some disagreement with your conclusion.

    “If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate.”
    I do not believe that “the debate” has ever been about whether “society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty”; the debate is about whether “mental illness” is a real medical problem or a myth. You articulately argue that “mental illness” is a myth but do not advocate for the abolition of the “medical science” that legitimizes the myth. Psychiatry does substantial harm to the community by advocating that natural emotional suffering is a medical problem that inhibits “healthy” thinking and the ability to make “sound” judgments; this legitimizes the coercion. I contend that the issue is about “science”: a harmful narrative about natural emotional suffering that passes for medical “science.”

  • Please allow me to amend my above statement to: “With psychiatry and its myth of ‘mental illness’, the logic goes that life is fair and just (in the community) and therefore emotional suffering must be caused by a malfunctioning ‘mind’- with a medical (biological) problem.” Pathologizing natural emotional suffering is a tool that delegitimizes personal traumas (like child abuse) as well as political and economic injustice and alienation.

  • I disagree with your analogy; I consider psychiatry to be a fear mongering, secular religion that addresses emotional suffering (emotional pain) consistent with the way “demonic possession” is a fear mongering religious belief that addresses emotional suffering. With “demonic possession”, emotional suffering is considered an affront to religion; the logic goes that if people truly believe, then they would not be suffering emotionally. With psychiatry and its myth of “mental illness”, the logic goes that our culture is fair and just and therefore the marginalized and disenfranchised must be malfunctioning “mentally” with a medical (biological) problem.

  • 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?”