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I think we had this “psychosis” discussion before. It was defined as an altered perception of consensual reality. We also made a distinction between hallucinations and pseudohallucinations, though you keep speaking of them in a dismissive manner.
It seems like you worry about not being understood when using these terms, so you kind of step down, adjust their meanings, put them inside quotes for convenient intellectual distanciation. Well, for someone who is brave enough to post articles and accommodate for hundreds of comments, it is understandable. We must not make a totalitarian use of language. As far as I am concerned, I stick to my own words and definitions because I consider this to be the solid basis in conventional reality that is most efficient to realize the ultimate, parallel, reality.
Well, “bipolar” (once called “manic-depressive psychosis”) merely defines the experience of extreme mood swings. I had psychosis and was labeled schizophrenic, but I also had bipolar episodes for sure. I was cycling quickly from profound desperation to eagerness within days or even in the same day. I had seasonal depression in my childhood as well. And that’s apart of anxiety…
Anyway, those reports are anecdotal. What research allows you to say that “a classic ‘bipolar’ person rarely has ‘psychotic’ symptoms”?
I told you in private why you should drop the word “medication”. Yet, you are worried about the “deterioration of general health” but refer to lobotomizing drugs as “medication” in the same sentence. Is it your best way to fight psychiatric propaganda?
Always interesting to hear someone who moved from antipsychiatry to psychiatry and again to antipsychiatry, but still falling for the usual apparently valid bits of (pseudo)science…
Stephen Gilbert already mentioned Nancy Coover Andreasen. She co-authored a study* in which cerebral atrophy was at least partially, but definitely, the result of the drug treatment. Andreasen was awarded by Bill Clinton in 2000 the National Medal of Science for her contributions in behavioral sciences and neurotechnology.
What Ekaterina probably meant is that psychosis and bipolar are part of the same continuum and greatly overlapping. A bipolar will usually have psychotic features, and conversely. These disorders don’t form clearly distinct clusters of symptoms, as psychologist Richard Bentall long worked to demonstrate.
You still like to capture the phenomenon of schizophrenia as a f*cking biological disease. I wonder if it came to your attention that the process of losing grey matter could easily be explainable by the enduring persecution and stigmatization that people so-labeled have lived since their childhoods.
Anyway, such considerations don’t even address the ultimate problem with psychiatry – a sociomoral, political problem. You may want to tell us how you understand the myth of mental illness.
@ Steve McCrea,
“Science does not think” is a statement from Heidegger’s book Was heißt Denken?.
I found a translation of the relevant excerpt on Evgeny Rudny’s blog, a multilingual Russian scholar (maybe Ekaterina Netchitailova heard of him before!):
For it is true that what was said so far, and the entire discussion that is to follow, have nothing to do with scientific knowledge, especially not if the discussion itself is to be a thinking. This situation is grounded in the fact that science itself does not think, and cannot think which is its good fortune, here meaning the assurance of its own appointed course. Science does not think.
Your discourse about science visibly pertains to realism (there is a distinct, objective reality) and positivism (knowledge is observable material facts).
But now, I seem to be a bit more confused by your saying that the scientific method does not define science… I guess you’ll have to specify what you mean by science as a primary concept.
My earlier definition of science as rational study – alternately, common sense applied with extreme rigor – remains workable to me.
Indeed. To paraphrase Heidegger, scientists don’t think. Philosophers do.
Science at its core refers to the use of the scientific method […]
To define science as being based on the scientific method is not readily in compliance with the rule of non-circularity. It would help to clarify what the scientific method itself is. And it still sounds like a narrow definition to me, because I thought the “method” was in use in the social domain but with different tools to derive trends and norms rather than “natural laws”.
Great, Ekaterina is not anti-science. I knew it – from her background in philosophy and sociology. But I needed to clarify her original statement that madness, once scientifically scrutinized, was becoming extremely boring – instead of becoming even more interesting under rational light.
Okay, so your normal definition of science must be stricter than mine if you don’t consider Buddhism as a bona fide science of mind.
As for “psychology”, its meaning is so broad, that I assume you refer to the Western kind, setting it conventionnally against the Eastern traditions. I’m sure you know there was a psychology in Antiquity, itself strongly related to philosophy still today. And philosophy being considered the science of the sciences 😉
Indeed, it is extremely unscientific to assume that science will answer all questions… since this kind of assumption is not intended to be “scientific” in the same sense.
Anyway, your definition of science sounds more restrictive than mine. If I told you that Buddhism was capable to give a reliable account of some of the greatest mysteries of mind, would you be comfortable with calling Buddhism a science?
I wish people would not digress on Dawkins being too arrogant an asshole to represent Science. His quote by itself is telling, found in a valuable book.
Science merely is common sense applied with extreme rigor. If psychiatry or other bodies of knowledge cannot explain behavioral phenomena scientifically, well there must be other commonsense, rational approaches. And we will come to realize that psychiatry had no real business in science to begin with.
It’s up to us, including the social scientist that Ekaterina has gone to be, to theorize the very psychiatric/madness phenomenon.
I spotted your article in my Feedly, and I’m stopping here to say a few things.
Pinel (not “Pinnel”) is often considered the father of psychiatry. Contrary to some recounting, it was Pussin, one of his assistants, who famously removed the chains, likely under his influence.
Now, more importantly, you wrote:
“Not only does this make madness a purely scientific domain, deprived of its mystery, it also makes it extremely boring.”
You don’t sound on good terms with “science”. There are many definitions of it. I usually retain three levels of scientificity, plus a distinction between science as acquired knowledge, research method, social institution, and expert opinion. My preferred, simple definition of science is “rational study”.
Now, psychiatry is a pseudoscience. That’s the problem with it. Psychiatry shall be combatted with real science, good holistic medicine, and non-coercive psychotherapies and counselling.
Below is an excerpt I like to share:
Dawkins was “fed up” with those intellectuals who argued that science alone could not answer ultimate questions about existence. “They think science is too arrogant and that there are certain questions that science has no business to ask, that traditionally have been of interest to religious people. As though they had any answers. It’s one thing to say it’s very difficult to know how the universe began, what initiated the big bang, what consciousness is. But if science has difficulty explaining something, there sure as hell is no one else who is going to explain it.” Dawkins quoted, with great gusto, a remark by the great British biologist Peter Medawar that some people “ ‘enjoy wallowing in a nonthreatening squalor of incomprehension.’ I want to understand,” Dawkins added fiercely, “and understanding means to me scientific understanding.”
(John Horgan, The End of Science, Little, Brown and Company, London, 1997, p. 119.)
You may reply here publicly until I have to walk away from these mad forums.
This place is borderline acceptable compared to other (a)social media. You seem decent enough to talk with, so we might stay in touch privately. I’ll ask Steve McCrea to bridge communication.
1. Whether it’s a legitimate concept is irrelevant;
2. NONE of these terms have any legitimacy and they should never be used.
So, legitimacy of a given psychiatric concept is irrelevant, but you emphatically specified earlier that none of the mentioned psychiatric concepts have legitimacy and should never be used.
Thanks to you, we are not taught whether or not to grant legitimacy (acceptability, validity, workability) to psychiatric notions and their more strictly medical equivalents in any given context. While readers cannot rely on you for dealing with those dangerous terms and concepts, I know how to make legitimate use of them at a frequency you may not be prepared to handle.
* * *
Following the philosopher Sam Harris, ideas and beliefs that people cultivate have consequences for their personal conduct and political choices. I believe so, notwithstanding the fact that ideas are historically and materialistically conditioned. Now, how am I supposed to give value to your antipsychiatry ideas and your kind of socialist ideology when you say that such things take second place to “corporate guns”? I have my own philosophical system of antipsychiatry, and consider myself to be a socialist, but what’s the point in arguing with someone who is basically propounding that the tenets of the secular Inquisition – really the sociomoral autority in our Western culture – are not of prime importance to challenge? You were the one to say that “the entire narrative […] must be deconstructed, exposed, and eliminated from public discourse”. Well, such narrative includes that of the therapeutic State and that of the bourgeois rule of law. Furthermore, you are the one holding the idea that psychiatry has to be attacked from all sides, albeit not at an institutional/political level. It sounds as if you are overlooking the practical steps toward your so-called socialist revolution. As far as I could go to explain my strategy, I spoke of an incremental, attritional model of abolition, as outlined by Dr. Burstow in Psychiatry Disrupted.
I’m turning off notifications. I shall leave you beating/boxing around the bush, and might contact Robert Whitaker about something I’m not allowed to evoke here.
Hallucination is a medical issue since it can be caused by brain damage – by your own admission.
It is therefore a legitimate concept.
Here I took the time to differentiate in a simple fashion the difference between medical and psychiatric. From there, you keep arguing that hallucination is outside the realm of psychiatry, even though my differentiation intended to do just that.
And that’s three times I’m going to ask you why you won’t support a psychosocial service that can recognize the value-laden aspect of existing psychiatric terms, and would help wearing down psychiatry by transfering power into the hands of people who abide to a radically different understanding of individual distress and social malaise.
This argument is close to a technical knock out, sir.
Attacking psychiatry from all sides while making sure that our tactics contribute toward abolition, not reform: that’s what Bonnie Burstow is encouraging in Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution.
Again, if you don’t have a problem with metaphors as long as they are recognized as such (in line with French social scientist Isabelle Kalinowski who translated the works of Weber and revised the notion of “axiological neutrality” by proposing that scientists should not seek and pretend to be absolutely neutral, but rather ought to disclose honestly their personal values), then what is preventing you from supporting the implementation of a psychosocial service outlined in Kinderman’s manifesto, provided that social workers are made aware of the metaphorical, self-contradictory nature of “mental illness”?
[This comment was marked as spam and is reposted here in two parts]
Psychosis, depression, anxiety, hallucination… Let’s take one of these terms.
1. Hallucination (medical, psychological): sensory experience not caused by external source.
2. Hallucination (psychiatric): sensory experiences not caused by external source and not recognized as real.
“If someone hears a voice, for instance, and knows that the voice is not “real”, this is not technically a true hallucination, according to standard accounts in psychopathology texts. This experience, when the person has insight into a hallucination, is sometimes referred to as pseudo-hallucination. Although these terms are somewhat arbitrary, the general concept holds that there is a cognitive component to a hallucination. One experiences something sensory and believes it to be real, when it is not real. This leads to the conclusion that delusions, the psychotic symptom expressed in thought, are necessary for hallucinations and that therefore all psychosis at bottom rests on the presence of delusion.”*
“Hallucination” is a legitimate concept. However, the psychiatric definition adds a moral, belief component. When someone believes their experiences are “real”, or true, or meaningful, then a psychiatrist may pose a philosophical, moral, arbitrary judgment on those experiences. The psychiatrist can declare the person as lacking in insight (anosognosia). Here again, “anosognosia” is a legitimate, medical, neurological concept, altough psychiatry hi-jacked the term for sociomoral purposes, notably by E. Fuller Torrey.
Although you recently referred to psychology as being the evil twin of psychiatry, you also consider it benignly as a field of research. I consider the concept of “source monitoring**” like a valuable substitute for “insight”.
* Nassir Ghaemi, The Concepts of Psychiatry, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2007, p. 204-205.
** Richard Bentall, Madness Explained, Penguin Books, 2004 p. 365.
If none of “these terms” have legitimacy, that’s a lot of vocabulary to overhaul. To think about the French-speaker that I am, and the Russian lady who just published this article… 😉
Not fond of the word “madness”? Why would you be mad at it? I guess, in English, “madness” has more the sense of anger, lost of temper, violence-prone. In French, “folie” has more the sense of weird, funny, ridiculous, what-the-hell-is-going-on-here, and might be more aptly translated as “craziness”. The French word is extremely customary, hence may bear less pejorative meaning than the English equivalent. Just from the French Canadian public radio, look at how some of the shows are named:
– Plus on est de fous, plus on lit!
(The more of mad we are, the more we read!)
– C’est fou
The same public channel also has a popular variety TV show that involves a jester (fou du roi).
You point out the fact that “psychosis” has no consensual definition. Well, it means an altered state of mind, a disconnection from “reality”. Consensual reality. Buddhism, qua science of mind, comes in handy to get a direct, clear appraisal of the ultimate nature of reality. What is your preferred vocabulary, if you have one?
You find despicable the idea that a psychosocial team would incrementally put the biomedical Gestapo out of business. Well, if those psychologists were trained to be careful about the metaphor of mental illness, to recognize psychiatrists as failed poets and scientists, would you reconsider your position?
I saw the trailer for the documentary in the past days. The thing that stroke me is that the material is now being presented under the banner of Scientology, not CCHR.
As Oldhead pointed out, you are a bit preaching to the converted here :).
We argued about this before. I thought it was done. Well, let’s see if you, Ekaterina (our psychosis expert) or anyone else can help sort this out…
→ Psychosis is a mental state, not a disease. Depression is a mental state, a condition, a symptom, not a disease. Hallucinations are a mental phenomenon, an experience, a neurological condition. Anxiety is a state of mind, a feeling, not necessarily the effect of a brain disease. Mood disorders are just that: disordered moods. On the other hand, major/clinical/characterized depression is construed as a disease. (In “Major depressive disorder,” “major” does not assume any degree of severity; it could be mild, moderate, or severe. However, “major depressive episode” will be interpreted as a psychiatric disease.) “Schizophrenia” is the diagnostic term for chronic psychotic behavior. I would be glad to use the term “schizophrenia” in the sense of the existential/phenomenologist psychs like Eugène Minkowski but, of course, I refrain from using this kind of term in many casual contexts because it is loaded with psychiatric stigma. The above psychological phenomena are neurological conditions, but not only so. Toxic psychosis is a medical condition. Hallucinations are also subject to medical care when they are effectively neurological (caused by trauma or drug abuse, for instance). Those kinds of hallucinations are being branded “pseudo-hallucinations” to distinguish them from true, psychiatric, hallucinations, which bear sociomoral judgments (when people complain about one’s atypical brain functioning). Now, “disease/illness/disorder/condition” are semantic clones that psychiatrists may use interchangeably anytime they see fit. Nonetheless, these terms must have quite distinct meanings. By the way, “mental illness” is a dangerous metaphor only because it is associated with biomedicine. A bipolar season, a moody landscape, an impulsive volcano, an obsessive storm, an antisocial sea, a climate going mad, are beautiful metaphors too, but not dangerous ones, because nobody would think about calling medical doctors to go fix the weather with pills.
“Psychosis” implies a disease state (-osis) and shall be assessed by a medical doctor, a general practitionner, an emergency physician, and not a psychiatrist. In a psychosocial-democracy (in replacement of the biomedical Gestapo), of course there will be holistic doctors in the team. But the psychologist will be in charge of the team and manage every cases of human distress, not the biologically oriented doctor. This plan, inspired by Peter Kinderman’s A Prescription for Psychiatry, might not be the most revolutionary, but it is enough so to cause much disquiet and commotion within the establishment.
And Basaglia remained director of the asylum, I know. They all rejected the label “anti-psychiatrist” for obvious reasons. Yet, they were the most radical intellectual dissenters. Only Cooper accepted the label. Szasz is the one who exposed the British pioneers of antipsychiatry as representing another “school” of psychiatry, as you say. To this account, Szasz was the only real abolitionist, but you once agreed with me that his libertarian approach wasn’t the solution.
That’s why I like to refer to them all as “(anti)psychiatrists”…
It seems like you replied at the wrong place to my comment about the definition of delusional thinking and religious beliefs.
Anyway, I learned that you have a personal interest in “psychosis”, and that you tend to distinguish it from the antipsychiatry fighting.
I have no problem with the word itself. Psychosis is a state of mind. The definition might be controversial, but it is employed by “rational antipsychiatrist” Richard Bentall in Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature.
Now, in philosophical antipsychiatry, I would not oppose the question of psychosis and the question of psychiatric oppression. Rather, I am personally interested in “madness”, a general concept used in philosophy to study a class of phenomena that challenge rationality and common sense. There is a narrow approach to it (madness in individual behaviors) and a broad approach (collective madness). Psychiatry tends to trivialize madness (it’s an illness like another, we will understand it better eventually…) while antipsychiatry tends to glorify it.
One does not have to be “psychotic” to be mad. That’s why I prefer the latter notion because it is more fundamental. Indeed, one of the philosophical pillars of antipsychiatry is the equivalence of normality with insanity. Most people might not be “psychotic” most of the time by any standard, but it does not mean they are “sane” spirits.
Well, what do you think the “main problem” is? We might not agree on what is the evil we are supposed to be fighting together.
Your narrative about God and religions is not the most progressive or “enlightened” out there. It appeared to me that the effective development of capitalism signifies the end of the great monotheistic religions. All the bustle we see about religions today is the bustle around a cadaver. Fundamentalist militants are animated by a death drive. To me, the political battle of our times is between theocracy and democracy. Well, you sound like you’re envisioning a return to the rule of God, to the good old catholic Inquisition in place of the secular, psychiatric one. I follow another route.
You are not helping much “these people” by not challenging what I consider as the root cause of alienation and oppression: the family, the parental ownership over children. Institutional psychiatry is merely a reproduction of the familial body, by objectifying permanently, under the name of “mental illness”, the efforts of the youth to become truly free and responsible human beings. David Cooper, the “Marx” of (anti)psychiatry, wrote The Death of the Family. Ronald Laing, the “pope”, co-authored Sanity, Madness, and the Family. You may want to clarify your stance regarding the role of the family in creating madness.
Well, the DSM indicates that religious beliefs must be ruled out of the definition of delusional thinking. In practice, however, psychiatrists, for ideological and economic purposes, will make an idiosyncratic use of the criteria, and are likely to diagnose such beliefs as pathological, all the more because psychs are ignorant of social science and humanities which include sociology, history, and anthropology. Furthermore, beliefs that are too uncommon within a given culture can still meet the criteria. Anyway, such criteria are always left to the therapist’s “clinical judgment”, or personal interpretation.
From the outset, the problem with psychiatry is political (power + ideology), not medical (science + care/help/therapy).
I don’t know how familiar you are with the work of Thomas Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness, The Manufacture of Madness, namely), but if you are going to “help” yourself and others, you need to do political education, promote class-consciousness; that is, be a leftist, and know what it means to be one. By “political”, I don’t mean the mainstream stuff, but the science and philosophy. In a nutshell, the political body of human destiny is about the management of social conflicts, power relationships. Nothing is more important than the power you have in your own life, and the power that others can exert on you.
Now, coercion is the cornerstone of psychiatry. Beyond the myth of mental illness, invalid diagnoses, super-placebo lobotomizing drugs, clinical trials biased to death, etc., it all comes down to behavioral control. The medical infrastructures and the benevolent outlook are really just political devices to make you behave in a sociomorally acceptable way. What we are dealing with is the quintessence of fascism, as centuries of pseudoscientific claims and barbaric treatments will have proven it. Antipsychiatry, on the other hand, given its positive understanding of madness, represents the revolutionary drive. In the final analysis, there is nothing more political of a subject than psychiatry, and nothing as extremely leftist as antipsychiatry.
As Oldhead down there would argue, seek no “alternatives” to psychiatry. There is no alternative to slavery, only abolition. That being said, institutional psychiatry does not exist in a void. It is a reflection of the existing social order. To bring about an “alternate” world in which coercive psychiatry would no longer exist, we have to scrap the political discourse, narrative, ideology that supports it. It involves nothing other than a revolution in mental and social structures.
I have come to realize that the psychiatric survivors movement is the most difficult to put together. Still, we have a whole range of strategies to advance our common agenda of fighting, resisting, surviving, ending psychiatric oppression. You can do it all alone as an anarchist, or work in advocacy groups if you can withstand the collectivist nature of groups. Ultimately, the key point in this brief answer of mine is to not overlook the political, legal, moral nature of the problem at hand.
I don’t think you were the Buddha or Anne Frank, ever.
This is the kind of blunt statement that I think falls short of the mad-proud spirit of our movement.
I doubt you know something valuable about Buddhism, and that you read the Diary of Anne Frank in high school. One is wondering what’s your own belief system that you wished Ekaterina and others would be wise to follow.
I’m taking seriously that Ekaterina would prefer to argue with an evil secular inquisitor rather than with someone like you whose ideology is unclear. As we say, the enemy is within. According to you, what are the philosophical pillars of antipsychiatry?
Unfortunately, there is no way I can tell if you acknowledge the simple logic about the pseudoscientificity of psychiatry comparatively to other domains conventionally recognized as scientific. Not to start a seminar on science, but I retain four definitions of science, three levels of scientificity, and up to five approaches in theory of knowledge. Epistemology is not of immediate concern. My deep concern now, and you were just caught on tape, is that you think psychology is no more valid than psychiatry. I will limit myself to the fact that schools of thought in psychology are more scientific (biological, behavioral, cognitive) or more speculative (psychoanalytic, humanistic).
Did you ever come across the quote by French physician and philosopher George Canguilhem about medicine being an “art at the crossroad of many sciences”? When we talk of computer science, we talk of physics, chemistry, electronics, and laboratory experiments, but also computer production engineering and programming. The same applies to what we call “medical science”: the term includes both fundamental research and technical application. This distinction allows to pinpoint the reason why psychiatry is still surviving as pure power in spite of the thorough disqualification of its intellectual foundations: it’s because of the technical, practical, applied aspect. I thence refer to psychiatry as a “coercive pseudology”, inspired by Szasz in Psychiatry: The Science of Lies: the knowledge is pseudoscientific whereas the practice is coercive. And psychiatry persists basically because of the latter. Remember why I said it was a waste of time, for advanced critiques of psychiatry, to debate medical and scientific stuff like diagnoses and drug trials?
Now, anti-medicine… You know what the mentally ill doctor Lieberman said about antipsychiatry? There is an antipsychiatry movement, but we have never heard of an anticardiology movement, antiorthopedic movement, etc. No news reports about them, no scandals in departments of major universities around the world. Your explanation for this fact probably won’t be on target enough, so here is mine: if psychiatry was scientific, there would be no need for a critical branch of it. There is no critical biology, no critical physic, not even critical psychology. This points to the fact that psychiatry is a pseudoscience that requires a scientific, truthfull counterpart to keep itself moving until (anti)psychiatry is annihilated.
You are wasting your time again arguing that there are pseudosciences other than psychiatry. This one is just the pseudoscience of pseudosciences, a claim you won’t be prone to refute skillfully.
About the history of psychiatry, as far as there have been healers and spiritual problems, there always were “psychiatrists”. The Salem witch trials are a turning point in America – three hundred years ago. The psychiatric expertise was invented by Wier still before. The General Hospital in Europe is also a key event, not to mention the asylums in the Arabic world in the early middle ages. My personal stance is to focus on the institutionalization of psychiatry following the secularization of the Western world.
I guess I would be warranted now to blame your tolerance of the evil inquisitors who only distinguish themselves from the good old ones by their pseudomedical authority. It’s hard to trust a comrade who cares about professional privileges of the outright criminals pretty much to the same degree as natural rights of survivors. It might help to catalogue your presence here if people can see how eager you are to defend psychiatry against true abolition. Tell me a few good things about psychiatry.
I can tell you a good thing, too. I used to warn nihilistic victims of psychiatry to not throw the medical and psychological babies out with the soiled psychiatric bathwater. Hopefully, until now, you don’t sound anti-medicine, anti-psychology, anti-science, anti-this, anti-that. Nevertheless, you are charging down the hill of this thread with blank shots aimed at multiple targets except at the professional liars whose privileges – and not “civil rights” – you worry about.
Medecine and psychology, that psychiatry appears to by rooted in, are not pseudosciences, essentially speaking. Only psychiatry is a pseudoscience. My own research led to the conclusion that psychiatry is the paramount pseudoscience, combining the worst of scientism and religious fanatism. Basically, the illusionary power of psychiatry as a pseudoscience is due to its apparent grounding on solid knowledge from other, scientific, areas. If psychiatric oppression is the problem, it must be combatted with real science, good holistic medicine, and non-coercive psychotherapy (the counselling subset).
The implication of the above paragraph is that, if you seek to abolish coercion in psychiatry, you must ruthlessly debunk the very things you think would be left over when coercion is gone. You won’t fight psychiatric coercion through direct force. The more you fight directly these demons in persons we call psychiatrists, the more the enemy incarnate grows inside you.
Let’s go back to an earlier point that I thought was agreed upon: coercion is the cornerstone of psychiatry. A cornerstone is a stone at the corner of a building that tells basic infos such as architect’s name and year of construction. So, when you go to psychiatry, it’s written “coercive treatment upon admission” on the stone near the entrance door. In other words, coercion is psychiatry’s trademark, its raison d’être (reason to be), the be-all and end-all of its business for centuries. Other medical, psychological and social professions can do all that psychiatry currently does. But why is psychiatry still surviving as pure power in spite of the complete dissolution of its theoretical foundations? Obviously not because knowledge supports power. Quite the contrary. Psychiatry is the tool of States to deal with sociomoral problems that cannot be dealt with otherwise by the rule of law.
Even if, hypothetically enough, you could strip psychiatry of its legal power to treat by force, it leaves the question of how the legal system is going to deal with sociomoral problems. I have a plan, but I’m still trying to reach a consensus about how nice or evil we should regard psychiatry in light of its history past and present.
I thought Frank conceded that psychiatry, not just coercive psychiatry, had to be abolished as part of a meaningful plan to end forced treatment.
I’m double-checking the relevant statement:
“I have no affection for institutional psychiatry, and so I guess you could say we are in agreement so far as the first paragraph of your response goes.”
There is room for interpretation. This sounds like a subtle admission that he’s in agreement with the key point conveyed by the “first paragraph” (to shut down the whole institution for the greater good of mankind). However, it could be just an agreement about my antipathy toward institutional psychiatry. I guess we need a more precise confirmation from Frank before engaging in subsequent topics.
No, copy and paste my name. I’ve heard of no study proving that within the context of an internet discussion about antipsychiatry, you would develop obsessive copy-pasting disorder with 14-character-long pseudonyms of French origin. Anyway, it’s sad how the system did not retain the acute accent on the first letter “e”, considering that this accent has grammatical utility in English (résumé, sautéed…).
“Evil”, “Lucifer”, etc., are symbols. Those are much harder to define than mere concepts. As it turns out, symbolic language is the privileged means of expression for the mad. Even normal language is filled with symbolic references to the real world. I don’t know why you are entertaining much mystery about this manner of speech. Psychiatrists cannot understand the schizophrenic langage, so they diagnose it as pathological. I consider myself a practical atheist and intellectual agnostic, though I have no problem relating to Jungian theory and shamanistic experiences. Besides, I support Buddhism as a science of the spirit, pantheism as a universal naturalistic religion, and my avatar used to be a feathery one. Last but not least, I think of myself as a philosopher of the Ideal (i.e. Platonist idealism, in theory of knowledge).
Seems like you are unaware of the classic dichotomy between positive law and natural law. Maybe that’s why my bit of jurisprudence does not resonate with your soul – another symbol popping up 🙂
Up to now, I find your pro-abolition program rather unfocused and bordering on relativism, not quite nihilistic. Besides the myth of mental illness, what is your position regarding the purpose and validity of psychiatric diagnoses?
@ Frank Blankenship,
If you are in agreement with my first paragraph, then you are decided on the fact that psychiatry, and not only forced psychiatry, has to disappear.
Leftist libertarianism is actually anarchism. That’s where I am too: anarcho-syndicalism.
I knew that my sentence about the annihilation of (anti)psychiatry would be unclear to many. I believe that a crucial element in the study of madness and the psychiatric phenomenon is philosophy of language. I wanted to avoid elaborating on this subject, and focus instead on clarifying our ideological affiliations.
Bad law is a matter of bad juridical philosophy. Are you familiar with the problem between positive law and natural law (or what’s legal and what’s moral)? If law needs to be changed, its philosophical assumptions need, too. That is why I pointed out earlier that the abolition of psychiatry (and not only coercive psychiatry) goes side by side with a rethinking of the rule of law; something like a Copernician revolution.
I’m disappointed to see how quick you are to disregard the agreed reasons why we are right to blame everything on the absolute evil incarnate. Evil is the problem. And I was expecting you to spread the message about the workings of evil, of which psychiatry is arguably the most luminous (cf. Lucifer) reflection.
At this point, you may want to tell me some more about how you effectively do political education under the banner of antipsychiatry. What are your main points to rip the whole fabric of psychiatry apart? In my book, the myth of mental illness is a good start.
Alright, you are an abolitionist of an inherently coercive psychiatry. You shall admit, even if a woefully criminal institution happens to do some good things (with brain toxins and super-placebo effects), the best course of action for the greater good of mankind is to shut down the whole institution, leaving nothing behind. Those few people who might complain about the abolition of this historically “glorious” profession could still go on their own to physicians for chemical lobotomies or to the police station to get locked up arbitrarily. Sounds all good to me, on the standpoint of freedom of choice.
Still, your program isn’t clear. You sound right-wing, Libertarian, by your appeal to “freedom” alone, “live and let live” mindset. My program is resolutely leftist, involving the suppression of the biomedical Gestapo (far right) and its replacement with a psychosocial-democracy (center left). Philosophically, it requires the annihilation of (anti)psychiatry.
But my question is, how do you seek to abolish coercive psychiatry if not by spreading the message about its totally corrupt intellectual foundations? Unless you think the quintessence of fascism is not totally hostile to reason, facts, and common sense.
Thanks for following up.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine how the inquisition could do business in witchcraft without subjecting people to ordeals as per divine prescription. Likewise, it’s hard to think of a psychiatry dealing with alleged “mental diseases” without resorting to authoritarian biomedical treatments as per naturalistic and humanistic obligation.
Please check the spelling of my pseudonym. You may diagnose me with typo-sensitive disorder 😉
Psychiatry has a lot of friends, basically anyone who leaves it unchecked or draws on it to scapegoat those who question the social order. Psychiatry’s congenital friendship is with the family, the root source of alienation. Psychiatry is merely a reproduction of the familial body, by objectifying definitively, under the name of “mental illness”, the effort of the youth to become wholly free and responsible human beings.
Our main disagreement is in the statement “Psychiatry doesn’t actually equate with forced treatment.” In 2014, you commented on the article “It’s the Coercion, Stupid?” by David Cohen. Coercion is the cornerstone of psychiatry. A commenter replied to you, saying that psychiatric force is the linchpin of the profession. After four years shouting at the wall of psychiatry, have you found evidence of the contrary?
I’m surprised to hear you worry about depriving psychiatrists of their civil liberties. The capacity of jailing and prescribing is not a civil rights matter. Shrinks could recycle into general practitioners and keep handing over major tranquilizers or phonecalling the police to put unstable psychotic persons into arrest. You can see the difference here, can’t you?
So, you seek to reform psychiatry—that is, remove coercive practices from it, but leave the rest of the pseudoscience undisturbed by public scrutiny. Well, as Phil “The Behaviorator” Hickey argued on this site, psychiatry cannot be reformed, only abolished. A true reform would imply to debunk the myth of mental illness, and one cannot recognize the self-contradictory nature of this concept without bringing about the suicide of the profession.
Not only would psychiatric witch-hunting expertises in court need to be forbidden, departments of psychiatry in universities would have to be shut down too. And to make sure that Lucifer’s offsprings never come back under this medical form again, we have to stop calling “therapy” any compulsory measures of help: forced help is not help but torture. To accept this simple fact is to destroy the therapeutic State, currently supported by “friends” of psychiatry all around us who fancy the idea of imposing a therapy on their fellows to “benevolently” cure them from their bad thoughts and behaviors.
We are talking mostly about psychiatry here because it is the hot spot of the mental health movement. Well, psychotherapy in general can be just as abusive (Jeffrey Masson’s “Against Therapy”). Any psychotherapy comes with the risk of a “therapeutic double-bind”. Psychotherapy also is futile for a number of reasons. In the end, it is part of a right-wing agenda. Only the family therapy, and the counselling/coaching types, could be acceptable in my understanding of our kind of political struggle.
Hi Frank Blankenship,
Please allow me to instill a few remarks about what you wrote:
“Psychiatry is not the source of all humanities problems, nor can it’s elimination be considered a solution to those problems. Simply put, the root of all evil is not psychiatry.”
The root of all evil, violence, danger, and suffering, as René Girard would have had put it, is ourselves.
Institutional psychiatry is the reflection of our (insane) social order. Such institution is supported by us, the people.
Standing as the highest moral authority in our societies, it defines what is good behavior and what is not. It is a secular priesthood, having just replaced the religious one. Also, there is no subject more political than psychiatry, since it applies pure, State-sanctioned, power, without the need for any sound intellectual justification. Nor is any subject more ideological, because psychiatry provides the terms and conceptual framework under which human nature and social destiny are defined nowadays. In the end, psychiatry is not merely a medical speciality, but an ideology and culture. The psychiatric discourse/propaganda pervades our culture and lifestyle.
If psychiatry is quintessential fascism, then antipsychiatry, in its positive, even glorious appraisal of madness, represents the revolutionary drive. In plain word, far-right vs. ultra-left.
You sound Szaszian in style, yet don’t seem to acknowledge what the king of (anti)psychiatry has professed about the history of the subject at hand: its being a continuation of the Inquisition, its similarity to chattel slavery, its playing a central role in the kind of political movement that was deemed by historians as the realization of the absolute evil.
For survivors who felt in their most intimate existence what it was like to be psychiatrized, not even to mention those survivors who went through minimal reading, it doesn’t take long to side with Peter Breggin on his conclusion that “psychiatry epitomizes what’s evil.”
Abolishing psychiatry involves way more than abolishing a particular medical discipline. It involves rethinking the whole rule of law of modern States. Beyond the efforts at debunking diagnoses and drug treatments (a waste of time for seasoned militants such as us), the most necessary and fundamental role of the antipsychiatry movement is, in my present view, to question the very postulates on which our mental and social structures are grounded.
When we consider psychiatry historically as a medical police or a secular Inquisition, it becomes clear that psychiatry can never be reformed into a consensual, non-coercive therapeutic service, as you fancied above. As long as the belief in the myth of mental illness goes unchallenged, our societies are going to put up with the kind of obscurantism that prevailed when witchcraft was accepted as a true and legitimate fact during medieval times.