Sunday, December 10, 2017

Comments by CannotSay

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  • Sure,

    Let’s go back to debunking “mad issues”. It is more fun :).

    BTW, I want to clarify that I do not think that people should stop being “pro environment” or being anti “global warming”. That’s a personal choice that I respect. The issue I have a problem with is to be called a “denialist” only because I am not as alarmed with the things that climate science can say conclusively (vs what is “alarmist consensus”) as Al Gore is.

  • Introducing the “intelligent design” vs evolution controversy here is a red herring.

    I have asked you many times if you have ever constructed a carefully designed falsifiable experiment. Your lack of answer makes me think you haven’t.

    You speak of polar bears but their population has been growing as of late http://polarbearscience.com/2013/07/15/global-population-of-polar-bears-has-increased-by-2650-5700-since-2001/ .

    Other catastrophic predictions that global warming alarmists made. have also been falsified

    You might be pro environment. I respect that. But using pseudo scientific, scaremongering tactics, which are no different from the tactics used by E Fuller Torrey to advance his own coercive agenda, is not helping your cause. Quite the contrary, it is getting people to become anti environment. I can point to gallup polls that attest that the environment is not the among the things that Americans care most about today. One can point to the climategate scandal as the inflection point.

  • I am not denying anything, again, I ask you to watch Richard Lindzen here,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sHg3ZztDAw

    The talk itself is a bit technical, although not 100% technical, it should be accessible to anybody with a basic scientific/mathematical background. If you don’t have that background, then I ask you to please stop the name calling on matters you lack the appropriate scientific training. Throwing the “denial” epithet is not constructive. We are all “mental illness” deniers around here, according to the “believers” at the APA.

  • These are the same elites responsible for the rise of the National Front in France or the UK Independence Party in the UK for being tone deaf to the needs of the average citizen.

    I think that we are in better shape here in the US where the “elites” can be challenged and questioned.

    Thanks for pointing to Alexander Coburn, I will take a look if only because I love iconoclast people :).

  • Quick follow up,

    I think it is implicit in my exposition, but if it isn’t, I want to also affirm that the domain of science is narrow. In other words, I am not advocating for https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism here. On the contrary, I honestly believe that there are areas of human knowledge that are not scientific yet worthwhile. The most obvious examples are the arts or the study of history.

    However, we cannot go around saying that psychiatry is unscientific to then embrace an equally unscientific endeavor such as alarmist global warming.

  • B, Frank and the rest of global warming believers,

    My honest desire is that we leave politically charged debates away from “our issues” but if you keep insisting that “global warming” be part of the “mad agenda”, then I will have to go somewhere else in an exercise of intellectual honesty.

    I have a single standard for what I call science: does the endeavor that claims to be scientific follow the scientific method? And to be clear, to me the scientific method is the tradition started by Francis Bacon, more details here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baconian_method . I would recommend many in this site to read about the “idols of the mind” explained there.

    In laymen the scientific method can be summarized as follows,

    – First you propose a hypothesis, such as are “mental illnesses” caused by chemical imbalances or does CO2 cause quantifiable changes in temperatures. Bonus points if this can be quantified with a number. If it can’t, then all you can do is to test a binary hypothesis (is it or isn’t).

    – Second, you design a falsifiable empirical experiment to test your hypothesis. The word “falsifiable” means that the result of the experiment can confirm or contradict your hypothesis. For instance, we know that people have been depleted of serotonin to levels that would predict what the DSM calls “depression” and these people do not become what the DSM calls depressed. We know that the predictions made in the late 1990s as to the range of temperatures that should be expected for a given concentration of CO2 failed to materialize. On both cases we can say that both hypotheses have been falsified, meaning, they are either totally false or they do not explain the whole thing. If a theory cannot came up with falsifiable experiments it cannot call itself scientific. In other words, if all a theory can do is to propose experiments that confirm the hypothesis, then your endeavor is not scientific, no matter the consensus of the gate keepers.

    – If your falsifiable experiments confirm your hypothesis, you keep doing more until one fails, at which point you refine your hypothesis so that it explains all previous experiments and then the one that fails. And you keep going. If your hypothesis cannot be changed to accommodate the failed experiments, then your hypothesis needs to be rejected as “unscientific”.

    That’s science, or what B called “experimental science”. The rest is not. This ability of science of making accurate predictions in falsifiable experiments is what gives science its prestige because you can vote all you want that the acceleration of gravity is different from its value of 9.8 m/s^2, but if you design your planes, cars or Pluto probes without taking that value into account, all of them will crash, be it in a curve (case of cars) or in the air (planes) or fail to reach their final destination (case of the New Horizons probe).

    Now, because of the success of science, Richard Feynman warned of what he called “cargo cult science” . Here he gives a layman description of the same https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaO69CF5mbY .

    Examples of cargo cult sciences that are beyond dispute are: economics (all areas regardless of the fancy mathematics they employ), psychology, etc.

    When you say “observational science”, be careful about it, because the most famous publication on “observational science” in these quarters is the DSM. Nobody denies that there are people who suffer “madness”, “psychotic episodes” or “extreme fear of germs”. But describing those patterns of behavior does not make the DSM scientific in the only sense that matters. If you want an expanded definition of science to accommodate alarmist global warming, you will also have to accommodate the DSM and psychiatry.

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t spend money on climate science, quite the contrary, but we have to be honest that in its current form it is unable to make accurate falsifiable predictions in which the alarmist global warming hypothesis is confirmed with overwhelming probability, using its own measures of success, and thus we cannot base wide ranging economic measures on their predictions, just as we don’t base economic policy solely on predictions by academic economists. Government, and others, fund economic departments around the world -and they are among the wealthiest departments in most universities- they produce reports that inform policy, but they do not dictate policy.

    I would say that if climate scientists want to increase their funding, scaremongering doesn’t seem to be working, because they create enemies in people who would be otherwise interested in understanding the mechanisms that drive climate better or others genuinely interested in environmental issues but who are also intellectually honest, such as the people interviewed in the documentary “Pandora’s Promise”

    Finally, those who doubt that bureaucracies, any one of them, have only one goal in mind, “self preservation”, are welcome to read about the Iron Law of Bureaucracies.

    I hope we can move past this issue, but if you guys insist I will have to find a different “anti psychiatry” home for the sake of my own intellectual honesty.

  • Let me ask you this. When was the last time that you carefully designed an experiment to test a quantifiable and falsifiable hypothesis?

    I do that several times a week. If our cars or planes were designed with the understanding of gravity that climate scientists have of climate science there would be car and plane accidents on a massive scale every day.

    In science opinion polls -aka consensus – are irrelevant. What matters is ability to predict results in falsifiable experiments.

    Finally, are you “denying” that governments finance most of so called “climate science” and that onto itself creates incentives for climate scientists to exaggerate their findings, especially when their predictions don’t match empirical findings?

  • Also this notion that those promoting alarmist global warming are pure souls motivated solely by science is provable false. Apparently you guys forgot to read the GAO reports,

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2011/08/23/the-alarming-cost-of-climate-change-hysteria/

    “According to the GAO, annual federal climate spending has increased from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $8.8 billion in 2010, amounting to $106.7 billion over that period. The money was spent in four general categories: technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, science to understand climate changes, international assistance for developing countries, and wildlife adaptation to respond to actual or expected changes. Technology spending, the largest category, grew from $2.56 billion to $5.5 billion over this period, increasingly advancing over others in total share. Data compiled by Joanne Nova at the Science and Policy Institute indicates that the U.S. Government spent more than $32.5 billion on climate studies between 1989 and 2009. This doesn’t count about $79 billion more spent for climate change technology research, foreign aid and tax breaks for “green energy.””

    For comparison, we just got the word that doctors got 3.5 billion dollars (thus far) from big pharma, well below the $8.8 billion the federal government spent (from our tax dollars) in 2010 in climate science.

    There is plenty of economic incentives on both sides of the debate, which is again something that differentiates alarmist global warming from gravity. Regardless of the economic incentives, the acceleration due to gravity and the speed of light remain constant!

  • Anecdotal evidence is not the same thing as being right consistently in falsifiable experiments. Psychiatry can point to tons of people who claim to benefit from their scam. Just go to your nearest NAMI chapter and you’ll get tons of “believers in psychiatry” because it worked for them.

    Our understanding of climate is very limited because there are many variables that play a role. We cannot model it accurately or make predictions in the long run.

    Fitting past data into a time series is very easy to do. But models that result from fitting data into equations vs understanding of the underlying mechanisms are notoriously bad at making accurate predictions. There are several reasons for that . If you are mathematically knowledgeable the reason is a combination of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_dredging , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictive_analytics and similar mechanisms. These work well in some areas (for example for online advertisers to match ads with online users based on their online behavior) but extremely bad in others like economics or climate science.

    When we understand some natural phenomenon well, such as gravity, we are able to send probes to Pluto and get pictures back. When we don’t, we have something like climate science, which is notoriously bad at predicting future temperature ranges or catastrophic meteorological events (or the frequency at which these will happen).

    Alarmist global warming is a faith based belief system, not a scientific one.

  • And yes, I think that the “global warming scare” is a scam – of the same magnitude as the psychaitric scam- perpetrated by people who live out of spending public tax dollars.

    Richard Lindzen explains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sHg3ZztDAw . I love his final quote,

    “What we see is the very foundation of the issue of global warming is wrong

    So where do we go from here?

    It is hard to tell, given that to note this constitutes an “insult to the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts” “.

    When I see the mention of “child abuse” in the context of a discussion on the merits of the global warming scam, my head explodes. Same when we are talking about the raise of ISIS having been enabled by “global warming” as some in “progressive politics” have suggested recently.

  • I put my thoughts here on the matter of mixing politics (in the sense liberal vs conservative or Democratic vs Republican) with what oldhead called “our issues”.

    If people want to call it “compartmentalizing strategy”, fine, call it that way. But I think that mixing politics with “our issues” is a loser strategy for our “movement”.

    Let’s begin with some facts. According to the NIMH, under DSM-IV guidelines, 25 % of Americans meet the criteria for a so called “mental illness” diagnosis. That’s 75 million people nationwide. With DSM-5, the number is probably way higher.

    If you are going to say that to oppose coercive psychiatry, which is the only thing I truly care about in the context of so called “mental health”, you also need to buy into the “global warming scare” – which doesn’t seem to scare Al Gore that munch having sold his TV channel to an oil financed enterprise- then you will lose half of the people who could help you achieve your goal: take 35 million out.

    Now, either you don’t care about the goal or the goal itself is subordinated to your other political goals. In either case you are unlikely to get the type of support needed to get meaningful changes implemented. If “our issues” become to be increasingly seen in the context of progressive politics, things like what happened earlier in Colorado – where a coalition of progressive “mental health” activists, the NRA and the local gun lobby killed an abusive mental health legislation- will become less likely.

    I am a pragmatic person. It is very likely that save for Duane, Rossa and a few others, I disagree politically on most issues with most of the MIA audience. Still, I think that the work MIA does, including by the people who contribute with comments, is worthwhile to put and end to psychiatry’s reign of terror, so I keep coming back.

    It is very likely that many people at MIA would feel offended by the media I consume to inform my own politics (although perhaps not that much by the media I consume to keep an eye on what the “enemy” is up to), so I rarely bring any of that here except when it concerns “our issues”, like the Justina Pelletier coverage, of Bill O’Reilly’s opposition to the lowering of civil commitment standards.

    The “compartmentalizing strategy” is a winner for those who care about accomplishing real change. Mixing “our issues” with “politics” is a loser. I hope that one doesn’t ever have to buy into progressive politics to be considered a survivor in “good standing”. Certainly that would exclude somebody like Thomas Szasz which I believe is greatly admired by many around here.

  • To put the same idea in a more colorful language: psychiatrists are to medicine what politicians are to the country’s elites:

    – Among the “elite”, or those who aspire to be “elite”, those who are truly talented become professors, scientists, businessmen (or businesswomen), lawyers, etc. Those who are just of average or sub-par intellect -including our current president- become politicians by engaging in deceiving messages like “hope and change”.

    – Similarly, among those who have an MD degree, those who are truly talented become cardiologists, surgeons, cancer specialists, infectious disease specialists, etc. Those who are of average or sub-par intellect become psychiatrists. No surprise then that they go to engage in the same type of deceiving tactics and strategies as politicians.

  • The United States has always had a fascinating contradiction going on in its system of government and society at large.

    On the one hand, as you say, it was built on the Enlightenment ideas of natural/divine rights of men and that all men are created equal. That creed is in the declaration of independence and it is delightful to read.

    On the other hand, the United States has always had a ruling elite that sees itself as above everybody else. Thomas Jefferson for example wrote about the “natural aristocracy” among men. This “elite” has always been fond of restricting the rights of others through ways they deemed “compatible” with the enlightenment such as slavery (after all blacks were deemed soulless animals for a long time), racist laws, eugenics (in case you are unaware of it, Bob Whitaker wrote about this connection in his first book on psychiatry, here is a talk about the subject https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4vL2CBdDr4 ) and now psychiatry.

    So while I find myself a victim of the fad today’s elites use to control those they deem “lesser human beings”, I am under no illusion that these elites will come up with something else once psychiatry is sent to the ash heap of history. My only hope is that that “something else” will not be something I need to worry about as much as I worry today about coercive psychiatry.

  • Doctors, specially psychiatrists or those who prescribe psychoactive drugs, have become de facto street drug dealers. I think that they should be treated in the same way we treat the latter: they should be stigmatized for being enablers on the massive adoption of psychoactive drugs by society.

    Realizing that is what made me change my position from being against legalization of so called “illegal drugs” to being for the legalization of all so called “drugs” in the way we legalized alcohol (with a drugging minimum age, social stigma attached to consumption of these drugs, etc).

    I see no difference between a doctor pushing for children to take Ritalin and a durg dealer who distributes crack cocaine among teenagers. The effect on the victim’s brain is the same. Yet the street drug dealer risks jail if caught while the Ritalin pushing so called “doctor” gets paid by the rest of us through our insurance premiums and by the big pharma drug cartel.

  • ” I am trying to do is to imagine a form of medical practice that could be genuinely helpful to people who are struggling with states of madness or distress”

    Here lies probably the reason most of us disagree with you. I see no room whatsoever for medical doctors in taking care of what you call “madness or distress”.

    I have explained this several times with the hardware/software analogy. That proposition sounds as ridiculous as asking that an engineer that is an expert designing computer CPUs at the transistor level has a say on the graphical user interface of websites.

    You want to take care of people’s bodies? Become a doctor. You want to take care of people’s well being? Become a counselor or a clergyman. There is no middle ground possible. The notion that there can be one is the reason psychiatry has become evil and corrupt.

  • Frank,

    I agree 100% with everything you write on the matter of psychiatry. On this issue we will have to agree to disagree.

    With the data at hand, the catastrophic events predicted by the promoters of global warming (including the melting of the Earth poles) just has not happened. I read sometime in the early 2000s that if nothing was done to prevent CO2 emissions, NYC would be inundated by the mid 2010s. Guess what, such inundation has yet to happen and it is not going to happen in my lifetime.

    The scaremongering techniques used by Al Gore are of the same kind as those that Torrey uses to promote his own propaganda. Where Al Gore sees the poles melting inundating NYC, Torrey sees millions of so called “mentally ill” shooting innocent bystanders.

  • These issues are difficult to talk about without getting into heated debates which is why I also vote for keeping them entirely out of the psychiatric survivor movement. Being inclusive means that you focus on what unites, not on what divides. And surely the whole global warming scare is a very divisive issue http://www.gallup.com/poll/167960/americans-likely-say-global-warming-exaggerated.aspx .

    You see, I take issue when I am called a “climate change denier” when all I am doing is applying my own scientific training on the matter of climate change the same way I apply it to debunk the psychiatric quackery.

    I am not “denying” anything. All I am saying is that the global warming alarmists made a set of doomsday predictions in the late 1990s (just as the global cooling alarmists made similar catastrophic predictions in the 1970s) that failed to materialize. So I that regard, I am just applying the scientific method.

    You took issue with me bringing Torrey into the equation, but if you stop for a moment and think about what’s the main driver behind Torrey’s prescription that everybody diagnosed with so called “schizophrenia” should be drugged by force if necessary, it is not very different from the driver behind those who want the world to substantially alter its economy only because some people “believe” that catastrophic global warming is inevitable: fear.

    In that regard, yes, I think that the same irrational fear that drives the Torreys of the world drives those who push catastrophic global warming propaganda.

  • No need to engage in a link war or an opinion poll among self proclaimed “climate experts” because science doesn’t work that way.

    There is no need to debate whether our understanding of gravity is good enough to make planes fly or to send probes to an object as distant as Pluto. We do it, period. That is how hard science works.

    Finally, I take issue with this,

    “I feel that when the prospect is potentially the destruction of our species, we ought to abide by the precautionary principle. What happens if climate change deniers are wrong?”

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but that argument sounds strikingly similar to the Torrey argument for forced drugging. Torrey recently engaged in a debate on the matter with Sandra Steingard in the Psychiatric Times (the link requires registration but you can google it). Torrey said something like that he didn’t deny that people labelled with “schizophrenia” could get better without drugs, rather, he said something like that because there was no way to tell in advance who those people were, the right think to do was to drug everyone using a risk benefit analysis.

    The current state of climate science is not advanced enough as to make accurate predictions about the climate 10, 20 or 100 years down the road. We know this because their predictions fail to materialize (either way, in fact, because the fad in the seventies among the intelligentsia was global cooling). Climate scientists engage in as much hindsight bias as psychiatrists do. But hindsight bias has no place in true science.

    We cannot base wide range policy decisions in a discipline, climate science, that has not proved itself to be accurate. This is not to say that we shouldn’t invest in climate science, quite the contrary, but we should not let those who preach the global warming gospel dictate policy for society at large.

  • Another data point that most progressives are unaware of. The IPCC was a direct result of intense lobbying by Margaret Thatcher in the late 1980s,

    http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2013/04/09/3732680.htm

    Conservative folklore has it that she was motivated by promoting sources of energy alternative to coal, particularly nuclear energy, because she was fed up with miners’ strikes, thus she saw global warming as a way to promote nuclear energy. I do not know what were her true motives but I think it is accurate to say that little did she know about the monster she unleashed.

    Once you create an organization, any organization, that depends on public money for its existence, such as global warming research, you can be sure that those benefiting from the funding will do anything within their power to make sure the the flow of public money continues.

    I know, I know, many big oil companies fund global warming skeptics for their own egotistical reasons. Again, this is one instance of those of my point of view being very aware of the political nature of the global warming debate, unlike those who defend the global warming scare who seem to think that the beneficiaries of grant research money are pure souls who would never distort their findings even if those founds threatened their livelihood :).

  • BTW,

    This is an article about the research by Jonathan Haidt,

    http://www.volokh.com/2014/01/17/jonathan-haidt-psychology-politics/

    “In short, Haidt’s research suggests that many liberals really do believe that conservatives are heartless bastards–or as a friend of mine once remarked, “Conservatives think that liberals are good people with bad ideas, whereas liberals think conservatives are bad people”–and very liberal people think that especially strongly. Haidt suggests that there is some truth to this.”

  • “I wasn’t aware there was a time limit.”

    There was. The Economist, which endorsed at the time global warming alarmism enthusiastically, backtracked last year precisely because the models produced in the late 1990s failed to account for the actual change of temperatures they predicted for the year 2010 http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21598610-slowdown-rising-temperatures-over-past-15-years-goes-being .

    “I think that internationally you would find it to be the other way around — the global warming deniers would be considered the fringe.”

    Progressives consider so called “global warming deniers” fringe, not society at large.

    I have to make several points about this,

    – Jonathan Haidt has extensively studied the subject of subconscious political bias extensively (you can google about it). His conclusion is that conservatives are more aware, on average, of the liberal -or progressive if you will- point of view than the other way around. There is no clear reason as to why this is the case, although the most accepted explanation seems to be that given that the overwhelming majority of media, universities and entertainment industries lean left, conservatives are more exposed to “the other point of view” than liberals. The latter tend to assume that news as editorialized by say CNN, the big three broadcast networks or NPR/PBS are unbiased when the fact is that they have a very clear liberal bias as determined by academics who have studied these news sources.

    – Several surveys show that global warming is not a concern of a majority of Americans today.

    – Catastrophic global warming is as junk science as psychiatry. The only difference between the two is that at least catastrophic global warming makes quantifiable falsifiable predictions about the range of expected temperatures (unlike psychiatry). So far these predictions have been consistently falsified.

    – If you want to learn about “the other view”, I recommend this talk by MIT professor emeritus Richard Lindzen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwM_B4-5gaE . Richard Lindzen is a climate scientist and perhaps the most articulate critic there is of alarmist global warming.

    This is not to say that climate science should be abolished. On the contrary, I think that investing in climate science is good. What I question is the “alarmist” conclusions that have been consistently falsified because, just as the brain is an uber complex organ that cannot be simplistically studied with chemical imbalances or neural circuits, reducing the complexity of climate science to a few mathematical models that result from fitting relatively simplistic equations to past data does not result in predictive science.

    As a movement, we are better off if catastrophic global warming is not a litmus test for those who want to join the anti psychiatry front, as Duane explains above. If buying into the global warming scam is a requisite for being an anti psychiatrist in good standing, we are going to lose a lot of committed people, like yours truly.

  • The real travesty is that there are “therapies” endorsed by government in the first place.

    So gay conversion therapy is bad, even for consenting adults who want to change their sexual orientation, but CBT -which is nothing but brainwashing- is good?

    To me the whole notion of government sanctioned “therapies” or “psychologists/psychiatrists” is a violation of the establishment/free exercise clauses of the first amendment. That should be our focus, not which of these “therapies” is good and which one is bad.

    As Thomas Szasz said when he was asked whether he felt that dropping homosexuality from the DSM meant progress he said that actually no, now homosexuality is not a “mental illness” but almost everything else is: tobacco addiction, caffeine addiction, eating too much, having too much sex, etc.

    Legal battles about “gay conversion therapy” are a distraction. We fall into the trap psychiatry loves. They win, we lose.

  • Let me share a secret with you guys,

    In science “consensus” is irrelevant, so the opinion of 97% of so called “climate scientists” is irrelevant to the following proposition: can climate science, under its current form, make accurate predictions 10, 20 or 100 years down the road about the impact CO2 emissions have in world temperatures? The answer is no, regardless of what those 97% of so called “climate scientists” think.

    The reason I don’t care about what those 97% of climate scientists say about their predictions is the same I don’t care about what the APA says “mental illness” is. On both cases we have self appointed experts making up stuff that is not falsifiable or, if it is -as in the case of alarmist global warming- the result of the empirical experiments is very clear: the global warming doomsday scenario didn’t happen.

    I have to say that I see a bit ironic for people to criticize the APA and psychiatry for being unscientific to then go to embrace an equally unscientific endeavor: catastrophic global warming.

    I would say that if the psychiatric survivors movement aspires to have credibility, it should stay away from embracing unscientific endeavors like alarmist global warming. That doesn’t mean that individual members cannot have opinions on the issue but as “movement” we should stay agnostic on the matter. Otherwise, I can already see the movement being portrayed as yet another fringe movement of progressives.

    To put it in terms that most here will understand, for the psychiatric movement to embrace alarmist global warming as one of its talking points it would be as foolish as embracing Scientology. It is one thing to say I am anti psychiatry and progressive/Scientologist, quite another to say, I am a progressive/Scientologist, therefore I am anti psychiatry. The former is fine, the latter is a sure ticket to our irrelevance as a movement.

  • Ask the US army how things went in Afghanistan and how things are going in Iraq now.

    A population with almost one gun per person, the United States, would give a tyrannical army a run for its money. And obviously, said army would not nuke all the united states, after all, where would the tyrant and his followers live if they did?

    The second amendment is as good a safeguard against tyranny as it was 200 years ago. Of course there are byproducts to that, but at least we can reasonably assured that a Milosevic or Hitler would not happen around here.

  • I am very much in favor of the second amendment. In fact, I think that it being second in the bill of rights is an accurate ranking of the set of rights Americans have. The rights listed in the first amendment are the most fundamental of all. The second amendment is the best safeguard we have against the US becoming tyrannical. In fact, Switzerland also understands gun ownership this way.

    Regardless of this, I think that the great news included in the ruling for our community is an explicit recognition by a Circuit Federal Court of the power imbalance that exists in the doctor/patient relationship. It takes the medical profession, and psychiatry in particular, a step closer to be legally considered as law enforcement. The more rulings like this in other areas of life, the better.

  • “AOT is favored because it is less restrictive than hospitalization. If a person does not recognize they are ill, and they refuse treatment, you can either court order outpatient treatment, or put them in the hospital”

    This is the lamest excuse there is to justify AOT or forced treatment. Before you throw at me one of the lies that Murphy/Jaffe use to justify their position, anosognosia, you are advised to read this piece by one of MIA’s bloggers who is also a psychiatrist, Sandra Steingard:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/bipolar-advantage/201208/anosognosia-how-conjecture-becomes-medical-fact

    You are welcome to read my first comment in my comment history to have the background of where I am coming from.

    I have suffered great harm at the hands of coercive psychiatry, precisely because in most European countries the standard for civil commitment is “need for treatment”. Not “need for treatment to prevent the guy from becoming a danger to self or others” -which is “need for treatment” as understood in some US states today – but “need for treatment”, period. It boils down to “whenever some psychiatrist thinks you need to be locked up and forcibly drugged”, or, the standard that existed in the US prior to the 1970s.

    The current statutory and judicial limits that exist for psychiatry’s agenda of social control exist for a reason. You can be sure many of us are going to fight so that those limits are either the way they are now or greater (such as in the case of psychiatry’s ability to drug children and seniors).

    The issue of fighting the Murphy bill is deeply personal to me. As a conservative, it pains me that some in the Republican party have a knack for coming across as the most bigoted people in America. The Murphy bill is pure bigotry. Spare me from a “read the bill” attack. I have read the bill, and I think that the criteria it asks states to adopt for both AOT and involuntary treatment are pure bigotry, so are the changes he seeks to the HIPAA privacy rule.

    Thankfully, the leadership of the GOP see the poisonous nature of the Murphy bill and the chairman of the committee, Fred Upton, has refused to bring the bill “as is” to a committee vote due to the controversy it triggered. This means that the Murphy bill will likely die in committee and we will never hear about it again.

    As a conservative I want the GOP to be in the position of making policy again at the federal level. However, this election cycle I support the efforts of the Stop the Murphy bill PAC that is targeting supporters of the Murphy bill in districts/states where it can make a difference. So I hope the GOP does not get back the US Senate and that Murphy gives up his bigoted agenda.

  • Vegwellian,

    You say above that you are an atheist and a lot of what you say sounds DJ Jaffe-ish to me. I hypothesize that you are one of those Steven Novella types who are harder to reason with on matters regarding the mind than people who have religious beliefs. I say “harder” because while any reasonable person sees that defining the mind as “what the brain does” is a circular argument, people who have a vested interest in promoting atheism and so called “skepticism” seem to have a harder time admitting the obvious.

    So, in the spirit of “enlightening” you, I suggest you watch these two talks by self professed atheists who explain the matter in a way that perhaps you find more convincing. Both are a bit technical but should be accessible to anybody with a general general high school education (although the second probably requires a bit more):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnu0vE2E4-M , Robert Burton: “A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind” . Robert is both an skeptic and a neuroscientist . Through particular examples he shows why the mind is something not quite the brain.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f477FnTe1M0 , Roger Pernrose, who is a respected mathematician/physicist who has claimed for a long time that the mind, particularly consciousness, is not algorithmic (meaning, it cannot be described merely as a result of a powerful computers doing number crunching even if you had unlimited computer resources available to you). This talk, and others he has given on the topic, is a bit technical and you are likely to be lost if you don’t have a college level understanding of basic mathematics, but this goes to say that an atheist mathematician not only understands that the mind is not what the brain does, he has very strong arguments as to why that is the case.

    So while people like you preach that ALL people’s problems of living can be understood with simplistic notions of “chemical imbalances that can be corrected with drugs”, the fact of the matter is that at a more basic level, there are very strong arguments that can be made to debunk the notion that the mind is what the brain does.

    Thomas Szasz understood that very clearly at a time when the medical establishment was promoting smoke and mirrors. He wrote very precise books to make the message accessible to a large portion of the general population. In a way, that “the mind is not the brain” is something that a lot of people understand intuitively, particularly people who have experienced things like happiness, love, betrayal, deep sadness as a result of a loved one, etc -which is most of us (with the probable exception of the APA quacks who write the DSM). Still, for different reasons, there are those who insist that nothing of that is “real”, it is all “chemical imbalances”. Well, if you lack the intuitive understanding as to why psychiatry is fraudulent, I hope that the two talks above help you get that understanding :).

  • “but a world view, or hypothesis, that remains unchanged for 60 years despite all the change around it”

    What change? Both the NIMH and even the chairman of the DSM-5 task force agree with Szasz’s main point: none of the conditions listed in the DSM have scientific validity. In fact the latest crisis of psychiatry has served to rehabilitate his message, not to undermine it. Read this to educate yourself:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/05/the-myth-of-mental-illness-revisited-nimh-style/

    The notion of giving a bunch of self appointed, unaccountable “mind guardians” the legal right to declare pathological patterns of behavior that they dislike not because they are the result of brain diseases, like Alzheimer’s or CDJ, but because of their subjective value judgement, the legal prerogative of abusing people’s civil liberties via a kangaroo court – which is what mental health courts are- is a direct violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment. Thomas Szasz was right 50 years ago on that regard, and he continues to be right today.

  • BTW,

    I am reading your comment history and I have to ask: are you some sort of Murphy bill defender who thinks you can convince us of the virtues of involuntary treatment, including AOT?

    You sound extremely similar to DJ Jaffe. Since DJ Jaffe makes sure to purge his FB page of those who criticize his flawed arguments, you will soon learn that his arguments are based on distortions. You can get an appetizer here,

    http://www.peteearley.com/2014/05/23/reader-questions-facts-behind-jaffes-8-myths-serious-mental-illness/

    “In conclusion…

    I found it disconcerting that Mr. Jaffe tended to “cherry pick” data from studies to support his conclusions, even when the study itself did not support his views. Additionally, I noticed instances of tying together quotes from multiple studies, research papers, reports, and interviews to “prove” his conclusions (as shown in Myth #5).

    Just as troublesome is that Mr. Jaffe bases a lot of his conclusions on interviews with 76 AOT recipients in New York City. He references these often on his website, while giving the impression they are different sources. But an interview sample of 76 people in one city is not representative for use in drawing scientific conclusions that have ramifications across the entire country.

    Overall, I strongly suggest that a person read each citation Mr. Jaffe provided to see what they truly say. Mr. Jaffe does quote a variety of sources, but by using multiple studies, reports, and citations and cobbling them together, a person can “prove” just about anything.”

    Your arguments in favor of psychiatry and involuntary psychiatry are very weak and have been debunked in MIA by both bloggers and commenters several times.

  • Not sure at what point of your relationship with psychiatry you are but this much I can tell you. As soon as you venture outside the role psychiatry has for you based on the label it has bestowed onto you, you will learn that the following is still very true,

    ” A psychiatric diagnosis could ruin someone’s career”

    Professions that will be out of reach for you based solely on having a psychiatric past: anything that requires a security clearance, medicine, law (although a recent settlement by the DOJ might improve matters). Those are areas (there are others) in which the law allows for the LEGAL discrimination against people who have received a psychiatric label.

    Unofficially, the sigma associated with a psychiatric label is still very real and if affects professional and social lives,

    http://www.antipsychiatry.org/stigma.htm

    The 2002 update reads,

    “”The ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] was passed in 1990, prohibiting employers from discriminating on the basis of disability, including mental disability. Employers may no longer ask applicants about their mental health and hospitalization histories. … The best the ADA has been able to accomplish is to change the workplace from one where applicants had to affirmatively lie about their psychiatric histories and diagnoses to an environment of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ … when it comes to psychiatric disabilities, it would be fair to conclude that the ADA has failed to provide a remedy against employment discrimination.” ”

    Finally, if you haven’t followed legislative activity on the matter lately, there is right now a bill sitting in the US House of Representatives, the Murphy bill, which was designed on the assumption that those labelled as “mentally ill” are more prone to violence than “normal people” and therefore need to have their civil rights restricted.

  • While I think that you are over doing your defense of Christianity and the alleged freedom that existed during the middle ages, without a doubt, blaming so called “mental illness” on Christianity is obviously a red herring.

    My take is this: there were, there are, and there always be among us people who see themselves as mind guardians for the rest of society. These people usually delude themselves that they are in the business of “helping” but they are really control freaks. These people will latch onto whatever the fad of the day is to justify imposing their notions of behavioral orthodoxy onto others.

    The type of person that wants to be a psychiatrist in our society is the type of person who would have become a member of a religious tribunal 300 years ago. Same instincts, different means.

  • Really, is this a surprise?

    Heated debates have happened in MiA on the matter of involuntary commitment and forced drugging. Many psychiatrists still don’t “get it” that nothing good can come out of incarcerating people who have committed no crimes in the name of so called “mental health”. The message that survivors around here have been repeating over and over again is that there is no so called “therapeutic value” in psychiatric hospitalization, most of which are involuntary even if on paper some are “voluntary”.

    The most traumatic experience of my entire life was my involuntary, inpatient contact with psychiatry. So much so that many years later it still haunts me and I think it will haunt me for the rest of my life.

    I don’t think you needed a study to determine that submitting a person to the most humiliating and dehumanizing experience of his/her life is going to have psychological consequences for the rest of that person’s life, including pushing that person to conclude that ending it all is the most rational option.

    I have taken every single precaution available to me -including shutting down all communication with my ex-family- to make sure that I keep psychiatry and psychiatrists away from my life. For now, Murphy bill and similar permitting, I cannot imagine a scenario in which I will end up in a psychiatric hospital again.

    With that said, I prefer homelessness and death to another so called “hospitalizaion” in a psych ward. So my solidarity goes out to the psychiatric martyrs in Denmark, their lives having been sacrified in the altar of psychiatry.

  • Thanks for replying.

    I hope we can leave the misunderstandings behind and that Michael will continue to post in MIA.

    The last point I want to make is this. One of the things that great communicators live by is the old adage “know your audience”. In retrospect I see that Michael wrote the article for an APA audience and he warned us about it at the beginning of his essay. The MiA audiesnce is made mostly of people who are either critical of the APA gospel, have suffered great irreparable harm because of said gospel or both.

    When I was going through the deepest moments of my own psychiatric experience, well before I stumbled on Mad In America, discovering Thomas Szasz’s writings and the CCHR documentaries they inspired was a true life saving for me. Before shutting down all my contact with psychiatry I shared some of that with my CBT therapist. My recollection of those final sessions is that he didn’t really know what to say. He didn’t validate what I was saying but he didn’t have a good explanation as to why what I was saying wasn’t right either. I think he wasn’t very surprised when a few weeks later I told him: nice to meet you but I am by myself now. Some years later, armed from knowledge about my rights under US laws, I requested a copy of my psychotherapy notes that were made available to me in its entirety through a HIPAA request. My CBT therapist wrote during those last sessionst things like “the patient is speaking a lot about anti psychiatry” or “researching anti psychaitry seems to have become his part time job”. Now, when I read the notes, I was well aware of what anti psychiatry meant, but not when I was sharing my Szasz’s inspired concerns with my CBT therapist. This tells you that while Szasz might not have become a household mainstream name, psychiatry’s practitioners are well aware of his message and the implications for their practice.

    In psychiatry, Thomas Szasz is like the little kid who tells his friends that there is no Santa Claus. The adults who hear that there is no Santa Claus are well aware that the statement is true, but rather than admitting the truth to all little kids, they admonish the little kid for what they perceive is a troublemaker who is threatening a tool that allows those adults to keep their little children under control.

    Well, the MIA audience is made mostly of little children who know that there is no Santa Claus whose hero is that lillte kid who spilled the beans for them. A speech designed for the adults assuring them that the truth didn’t get very far with all kids at large is unlikely to be well recieved by such an audience. So what happened was expected.

  • People need to come to terms with the reality that certainly psychiatrists, and increasingly other medical professionals, have to be dealt with as you would deal with law enforcement. Be courteous and polite to them but do not say anything when interacting with them that could be miscontrued to be used against you.

    My personal view is that people should stop seeing psychiatrists altogether. For those for whom this is not an option, they should keep the above in mind.

  • Except that as Jeffrey Swanson, a medical sociologist from Duke University who studies the intersection of guns and mental illness, explains here,

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140826_Background_checks_failing_in_mission.html

    “The ability of mental health professionals to pick out who’s going to be violent, it’s not much better than a coin toss. It’s a needle in a haystack,”

    You are basically describing the sort of “pre crime” societies that exist in totalitarian regimes. Another great libertarian thinker, FoxNews’ judge Napolitano, explains theses issues here with Szasz’s clarity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg468Wjk4AI .

  • Kermit,

    I too hope that Michael will continue posting, but you have to agree that his first piece was prone te being at least misinterpreted by those whose only introduction to Michael Fontaine was that article.

    Thomas Szasz has had a great impact on many of us. From time to time I discover a new jewel. Yesterday, for instance, while reading comments in his other piece, I did a search and I found this,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC9r3Gs8XuU

    It is a 1994 talk given in the context of the then failed attempt to pass a universal health insurance law in the US. The talk itself goes beyond psychaitry but in it Szasz shows the type of clear and sharp thinking so many of us respect him for. While I am sure many in MIA will disagree with his position on the issue at had, he explains in very clear terms the therapeutic state and why health care has become such an effective weapon to limit people’s freedom. The model of health insurance gives people the illusion of getting free stuff, which is a great incentive to surrender freedom. In a way the same happens online all the time, with people giving Google and Facebook their private lives to get “free” services in return. Nobody explains the Faustian nature of the healthcare arrangement better than him.

  • Emmeline,

    Charlton Heston famously said that “political correctness is tyranny with manners”.

    That’s how that characterization of “violent communication” sounds to me. Violence has a clear meaning in American criminal law. You can be charged with a crime and put in jail if you act violently against somebody or threaten somebody with violence.

    To say that constitutionally protected speech is “violent” just because you don’t like that your opponent is expressing his/her point of view in, for lack of a better word, “uncivil ways”, is just an attempt to shutdown your opponent’s point of view by way of making the false connection to violence because most people repudiate violence.

    Now, I am not saying that Mad In America has to abide by what the US Supreme Court has consistently considered constitutionally protected speech -regardless of the political composition of the court- since MIA is a private enterprise and we all agree to abide by its terms of service when we comment. However, the distortion of language is one of the well known tactics employed by those of a totalitarian frame of mind and MIA should resist it. That’s the infamous https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak contained in Orwell’s 1984.

    Freedom of speech, as the US Supreme Court has consistently protected it, is without a doubt the right I am most thankful for of all rights that come with American citizenship. I rather be free to say what I please and be homeless than be a servant of the nanny state paying for my living expenses. In fact, that’s what Europe offers in the context of so called “mental health”: we’ll pay your expenses for life as a “disabled person” as long as you abide to be a compliant “mental patient”. Thanks, but not thanks.

  • Noel,

    The comment was going fine until you said,

    “Rather, I am pleading for, yes, a less violent approach to doing so”

    What violence are you talking about, might I ask? You must not watch TV at all because what was said here was mild in comparison with the epithets that our politicians throw at each other all the time. Again, this is innuendo.

    Violence is being involuntarily committed and forcibly drugged. Violence is destroying property, physical assaults, battery or threats of doing the same.

    None of the comments that I read, even those that were later moderated, amounted to anything that I would call “violent”. The proof: the majority of commnets expressing strong disagreement with the essay were not moderated.

    The reason you should be careful with labelling “violent” something that objectively is not is because, as I said, that is a very well known technique to shut down debate. Even in this comment where you are trying to explain yourself you are still falling for the trap.

    If you see something “violent”, file a police report or whatever, but do not use the word lightly in cases where it objectively does not apply.

  • As others have said, I find this piece brilliant! I have my own anecdote on this particular line,

    “It is impossible to put a clear cutoff point, and what is dysfunctional in one setting may be very desirable in another. That is why the concept of mental illness is useless.”

    I have told my story many times of having been involuntarilty committed in Europe to be put on so called “treatment” of OCD by my ex-family since my ex wife was unable to have me see a psychiatrist in the US (it’s my first comment in my comment history).

    What is funny, is that this lower tolerance for OCD-ish behaviors showed up in the psychotheray notes:

    – My casual dressing was dscribed in Europe as proof that I was in a path to “need treatment”. The same clothing was described as “neatly groomed” by my American psychiatrist. It was my ex-wife who noticed this :).

    – After comming from Europe to the US, my American psychiatrist gave me a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Assessment_of_Functioning score of 75-80, which means,

    ” 81 – 90 Absent or minimal symptoms (e.g., mild anxiety before an exam), good functioning in all areas, interested and involved in a wide range of activities, socially effective, generally satisfied with life, no more than everyday problems or concerns.

    71 – 80 If symptoms are present, they are transient and expectable reactions to psychosocial stressors (e.g., difficulty concentrating after family argument); no more than slight impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., temporarily falling behind in schoolwork). ”

    And yet, the laws of the European country where I was born in considered my fear of germs so extreme as to warranting involutary so called “treatment”.

    One of the reasons I opposed Obamacare is because of “medical tyranny”, what Thomas Szasz called “the therapeutic state”, is the biggest threat for individual freedom we currently have in the Western world.

    Western Europe is already ahead of the US in its usage of “public health” as a way to limit individual freedom. As explained here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19199121 , Norway’s rates of involuntary commitment are among the highest in Europe. Other countries are not very far behind. Obamacare, with its national databases, takes us a step closer to the type of tyranny that is common place in Western Europe.

  • Oldhead,

    I have been moderated for quite some time. I do not agree to abide with the rule of “always being nice to shrinks”, so MIA moderates my comments. In a way that is good, I let the MIA moderator decide what is “not nice”. For the almost one year that I have been moderated, I have only had 2-3 comments rejected, it’s only that they take time to show up.

    With respect to the violence innuendo, it is just a “shutting down the debate” tactic.

    During the campaign to free Justina Pelletier, both Boston Children’s Hospital and DCF claimed to have received threats. They made sure the press echoed their false victim accusations.

    The fact is that nobody was arrested or charged for having made a criminal threat to either institution (the NSA disclosures should convince anybody that if these institutions had received anything remotely close to a criminal threat, the people responsible for them would have been arrested and charged). Many in the Free Justina movement felt that the “threats” thing was an innuendo campaign on the side od BCH and DCF to scare the peaceful and legal supporters that kept calling MA and CT government offices.

    Recently, Fox CT published the result of a FOIA request they submitted to CT’s DCF on the matter (you can see all the emails here http://foxct.com/2014/08/06/ct-dcf-commissioner-pelletier-circus-about-parents-not-justina-2/ ).

    While the emails do not show that CT DCF made up accusations of violence, they clearly show that they were more concerned about the damage the whole thing was doing to the agency reputation than what they were willing to admit publicly, to the point that they people answered the phone for CT DCF admitted that what the were telling the callers that CT had no jurisdiction was just a talking point whose accuracy they were not sure about and that they needed further guidance.

  • I have made this exact point to Michael Guy Thompson below.

    That is a simple truth that the “Szasz offered no alternatives” crwod has not confronted in a meaningful way. This crowd seems to be either accepting that this delineation will always exist and therefure the only reasonable fight is to control it in a way that causes the least harm possible or that the delineation is necessary for civl society and that while psychiatry’s version is not a good one, perhaps there is another one can be contruscted that serves the common good better.

    Szasz’s point is that said delineation is not only arbitrary but harmful to both the individuals affected by it and society at large. All human beings should be given exactly the same rights regardless of whatever a bunch of MD degree holders think of who deserves more or less rights. In fact, this is what the XIV-th amendment is all about. 150 years later, psychiatrists have not yet accepted the implications of the equal protection clause.

  • “The principal weakness of Szasz’s message was that he did not really offer an alternative to the system currently in place. ”

    Sorry, but I think that this is not a valid argument, in the sense that is strikingly similar to this other argument,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proslavery#Political_proslavery

    “This theory supposes that there must be, and supposedly always has been, a lower class for the upper classes to rest upon: the metaphor of a mudsill theory being that the lowest threshold (mudsill) supports the foundation for a building.”

    “Southern pro-slavery theorists asserted that slavery eliminated this problem by elevating all free people to the status of “citizen”, and removing the landless poor (the “mudsill”) from the political process entirely by means of enslavement. Thus, those who would most threaten economic stability and political harmony were not allowed to undermine a democratic society, because they were not allowed to participate in it. So, in the mindset of pro-slavery men, slavery was for protecting the common good of slaves, masters, and society as a whole”

    This argument appears from time to time in different forms. In the first half of the XX-th century it took the shape of “eugenics”, by which people deemed “unfit” needed to be prevented from procreating (original argument) if not completely eliminated (what Nazi Germany did).

    Bob Whitaker has written and talked about how eugenic thinking impacts the thinkging of mainstream psychiatry today,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4vL2CBdDr4

    To those who claim that Szasz offered no alternative, might I ask why is an enteprise with the aims and goals of psychiatry necessary in the first place? Why is it that there needs to be a group of “self appointed”, “unaccountable”, mind guardians issuing certificates of abnormality -or “subhumanity” if you will- to the people they dislike?

    The issue of “no alternative” is a straw man designed to avoid to deal with the issue that mainstream psychiatry is this day and age’s incarnation of institutional bigotry.

    Unless those who seek “an alternative” believe that institutional bigotry will always be with us (or that it is even necessary for a civil society), I don’t get why the fact that Szasz was first and foremost insterested in rendering psychiatrists unemployed is problematic.

  • “There is a lot of anger around here, certainly justified in many respects, but to lash out at someone and accuse them of wrong doing without listening to his stated intentions is itself abusive and oppressive. This is what happens in the cycle of violence.”

    I have another comment waiting for moderation that addresses in a more “pop culture” way the reasons many like me were upset by the tone of this piece.

    That said, I think that your innuendo that people cannot be upset, and very upset, without positioning themselves to what you call a “cycle of violence” is preposterous.

    I have, here and elsewhere, advocated for exclusively peaceful and legal ways. Not only because I am a non violent person but also because from a pragmatic point of view, peace and legality need to be present if we aim at achieving long lasting and meaningful change.

    That said, you can be peaceful promoting exclusively legal means and still be very upset. The two are not mutually exclusive. Our politicians are a good example of people who are very upset and angry most of the time all while writing our laws. Republican lawmakers have called Obama all sorts of names. Obama has returned the favor, to the point that a conservative author called him “The Abuser in Chief” http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/11/the_abuser_in_chief.html .

  • Michael (and the others),

    My final thought on this discussion is this. I am not a big fan of using pop culture artifacts as explanatory vehicles for complex matters since most of the times they miss the subtleties involved. I think that I can make an exception with this issue.

    In the late nineties, there was an Italian movie titled “Life Is Beautiful” that was very successful both in the US and in the Europe. It went on to make 230 million dollars worldwide, including 57 million dollars in the United States. It also won 3 academy awards (including best actor and best movie in a foreign language). For those who haven’t heard about this movie, here comes a detailed study guide http://www.gradesaver.com/life-is-beautiful/ .

    Reading this essay I could not avoid feeling like Guido in the scene in which Doctor Lessing tells him he has something very important to talk to him about.

    Guido, whose most important worry was to get his son and himself out of the concentration camp, thinks that Lessing is going to use his Nazi connections help them escape their misery. Instead, the good doctor wants help solving one of the riddles that has been bothering him for a long time.

    The concern of most survivors who read Mad In America is to equip ourselves with knowledge and tools to confront our oppressors who have the legal upper hand (just as Nazi Germany had the legal upper hand over Guido in the movie and Guido’s main concern was how to get safely out of the camp).

    Your major concern is probably to solve “scholar riddles” about worldviews and philosophy.

    While I can say that I respect your work, it is a bit naive to pretend that an audience primarily concerned with having their civil rights abused every day (explicitly and in very subtle ways http://www.antipsychiatry.org/stigma.htm ) is going to find it interesting.

    Further, when you speak that one of your intellectual heroes, Thomas Szasz – who has helped us make sense of our circumstances and in many cases keeps up alive given that most of us voluntarily stopped the poisonous drugs we were on after reading/listening to him-, we feel rightly offended.

    I wish you good luck with your work and hopefully we will see more of you in MIA, but please, next time spare us from “scholar riddles” most of us couldn’t care less about.

  • oldhead,

    I forgot who said great minds think alike but this basically summarizes my critique as well :),

    “The author doen’t seem to get this, or blatantly rejects it, as he constantly talks about competing “approaches” to “mental illness” as though “it” were a real thing.”

    Michael asked me to read his essay again, but I see nothing in his essay other than one of those comparative studies of worldviews in which one is Szasz’s, another is Epicurus’ and another psychiatry’s. The essay misses completely the point of what the core of the Szasz message is and why mainstream psychiatry wants nothing to do with it. The rejection of Szasz by mainstream psychiatry is similar to the rejection of those who made moral arguments against slavery based on “all men are created equal” by slave owners. Just as slave owners could not comprehend that “all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights” meant exactly that, psychiatrists cannot comprehend that the constructs they call “mental illness” are nothing but gratuitous institutionalized bigotry towards the behaviors they themselves do not understand.

    Similarly, as to the success or failure of Thomas Szasz, it is too early to tell, but the NIMH’s official adoption of one of Thomas Szasz’s talking points (that the DSM labels do not have a scientific basis) tells a very different story. Take Frederick Douglass and the American Anti-Slavery Society. Until the passage of the XIII-th amendment, they were perceived as losers. History, and God, have a funny way of correcting injustice, but injustice is almost always inevitably defeated. Psychiatry’s days as an oppressive endeavor are counted.

  • And to supplement my critique, I don’t like the emphasis on competing “worldviews” because that is one of organized psychiatry most insidious distractions, namely, to claim that those who criticize psychiatry must surely be motivated by their own worldview. Well, no. Psychiatry is an evil discipline, period. I have as much interest in people becoming Epicureans as I have in them becoming Scientologists or Muslims: it is simply not my business. My only business is to end psychiatry’s reign of terror.

    To say that one cannot oppose psychiatry without having some nefarious hidden agendas is like saying that those who fought against slavery (in my mind “anti” in anti psychiatry means the same as “anti” in anti slavery) were only motivated by bankrupting the business model of the slave owners.

    Certainly the slave owners had to adapt their business model after slavery was abolished, but bankrupting them was not the prime motivation of those who saw themselves as anti slavery.

  • Michael,

    Here is what I should have said earlier, instead of dismissing your article as bs.

    I want to start by explaining what brought me to Mad In America . My story can be found here https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/01/ny-times-invites-readers-to-a-dialogue-on-forced-treatment/#comment-19770 (comment by cannotsay).

    I didn’t come to Mad In America or to Thomas Szasz searching for “meaning”, so from my point of view, your article, and your address, start with an straw man, namely that Thomas Szasz was some sort of prophet for a worldview that conflicted with psychiatry’s worldview.

    While I do think that psychiatry is a worldview (which I will define later), I do not think that Thomas Szasz was primarily motivated by promoting his own, but rather he used his own training as a psychiatrist to denounce psychiatry’s excesses and abuses.

    The way I see it, psychiatry’s worldview is this: MD degree holders have a “God given right” to determine behavioral orthodoxy for the rest of society as they see fit, and then promote the use of biological interventions (lobotomy, ECT, insulin therapy, drugging, you name it) in order to take those who deviate from that behavioral orthodoxy into compliance (by force if necessary in the case of forced treatment).

    Now, there is a great deal of arbitrariness in the process by which psychiatry comes up with its behavioral orthodoxy because the way it does it is by labeling “disorder” the patterns of behavior they do not like. So, when the APA was made up of a majority of WASP men, homosexuality was a “disorder”. Now that the majority of the APA are left leaning secular liberals, homosexuality is not anymore a “disorder”, in fact, the APA endorses gay marriage. Some scholar called the DSM a secular sacred text. That someone has a point, but unlike religious sacred texts that show the faithful a direct path to happiness, the DSM is about showing people a path to unhappiness: “if you behave this or that way, you are disordered, like if, under DSM-5, you are still sad two weeks after the death of a loved one”. Your spouse of 30 years or a child died? What’s wrong with you that you cannot get over it in two weeks!!

    What made Szasz such an interesting figure is that he recognized the travesty psychiatry is decades before other people, like Allen Frances, did. In fact, in an act of absolute courage and generosity towards his fellow human beings, he renounced to cozy relationships with Big Pharma, governments and their money in order to denounce the psychiatric scam.

    Donna speaks of something that is both crucial to understand Szasz and absent from your commentary: the therapeutic state. Szasz was concerned with people, through the coercive force of government, imposing certain worldviews onto other human beings. Unlike the “nanny state”, which takes care of food and shelter of its citizens, the therapeutic state is about promoting a particular version of “happiness” and legally incarcerating and abusing those who dare to challenge it. Since in a way this is what religious tribunals used to do, Szasz used the parallel to the Inquisition, not as a matter of principle but rather as a explanatory vehicle of how psychiatry is today’s manifestation of this phenomenon.

    He, more than any other anti psychiatrist, single-handedly attacked the excesses of psychiatry and never relented, even in his death. As others have explained, he was consistent in his defense of people’s right to suicide with his decision of ending his own life.

    Finally, a topic that needs to be addressed when speaking of Szasz is CCHR/Scientology which invalidates most of what this article is about.

    Thomas Szasz, despite being an atheist, was regularly attacked during his lifetime for having co-founded CCHR with Scientology. He himself was an atheist who was awarded for his efforts the Humanist of the Year award, but he never sought to impose his own worldview or Scientology’s on anybody. As he explains here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY78qJNLoQ0 , the only reason he joined forced with Scientology is because he understood too well that psychiatry could not be confronted with intellectual arguments alone. For psychiatry’s abuses to be corrected, they needed to be confronted. In Scientology he found a partner willing to pay attorneys to fight against psychiatry’s most egregious abuses in order to expose them in the public view. For people like Maryanne Godboldo , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hIlo7KD2L0 , CCHR’s help has meant the difference between freedom and jail and between being able to keep the custody of her daughter and having had her daughter drugged with poisonous Risperdal.

    For all these reasons, psychiatric survivors like me who see in Szasz an intellectual giant who empowered us with knowledge and information to confront our oppressors, psychiatrists, found your article very offensive: a fabricated distraction intended to keep the focus away from the abuses that organized psychiatry perpetrates each day in America.

  • Emmeline/Kermit,

    More later today then. The summary of what my critique will be is this: the author is pulling a straw man. Thomas Szasz was not in the business of religion or providing world views to people. It’s the other co-founders of CCHR who were/are.

    Thomas Szasz true legacy is more similar to Martin Luther King’s than to Martin Luther the monk.

    I will detail this when I have the time later.

  • Agreed this is too much bs and also with the kudos to Szasz.

    In fact, a much more accurate description of his legacy is can be found here,

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/05/the-myth-of-mental-illness-revisited-nimh-style/

    The bottom line is this: Szasz’s message that no label listed in the DSM has been shown to be a brain disease won over both the NIMH and, at least partially, the APA.

    Mainstream psychiatrists are just too proud to admit the obvious. For those of us who have no dog in the fight of who gets what federal dollars, it is patently clear that the current crisis in psychiatry was caused by Szasz.

  • Oh! From the above link, I remember when it made the news,

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/11/incoming-president-world-psychiatric-association-time-rethink-psychiatry/

    “Dinesh Bhugra, MD., who next year will become the first openly gay president of the World Psychiatric Association, has told the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. that psychiatry, as it rethinks its conceptions of mental illness, should focus on social functioning rather than symptom reduction as a primary goal of treatment.”

    I think that given that his email address was made public by The Lancet in the context of his letter, people should write him to let him know that now it’s the rest of us who are on the same situation gay people found themselves 40 years ago. It is only fair that “equality” is applied to everyone, not only gay people!

  • People,

    This is an opportunity. The Lancet’s article has Dinesh’s email on it: [email protected] .

    So I wrote him the email below. We should all do the same!

    ===================================================
    Subject: Your commentary at The Lancet

    Dear Dinesh,

    First, I apologize for this anonymous note. As a survivor of psychiatric abuse, protecting my privacy is paramount.

    I am referring to this,

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366%2814%2970283-4/fulltext#

    It is very ironic that you wrote that after you co-signed a vicious and warrantless attack to Peter Gøtzsche here,

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366%2814%2970232-9/fulltext?_eventId=login

    If that means you are coming to terms with the facts denounced by Peter Gøtzsche, that’s a welcome development.

    The only thing that psychiatry can do to correct its past abuses is to dissolve itself and to ask the public for forgiveness for the abuses it has perpetrated and it continues to perpetrate everyday.

    Take somebody like you, a gay man. 40 years ago, the APA would have considered you “mentally ill”. Up until around 20 years ago, the WHO did the same thing. Why do the rest of us have to put up with being labeled with diseases that are no less invented than “homosexuality”?

    Millions of children are drugged each day to “treat” invented ADHD and pediatric bipolar disorder -the latter invented by Joseph Biederman while on the payroll of Johnson and Johnson. The rate of suicide has increased with the massive prescription of antidepressants. People’s civil liberties are abused to force them into the “behavioral orthodoxy” invented by psychiatrists. In the UK, even Tom Burns has called for the abolition of CTOs after his own study showed that the only thing they manage to do is to abuse people’s civil liberties gratuitously.

    In your position as a gay man leading the World Psychiatry Association, your defense of psychiatry sounds as ridiculous as if a black man presiding a hypothetical World Racist Association would claim that racism against black people is wrong but racism against all other races, including whites, is fine.

    Do the right thing and put an end to the murderous psychiatric profession.

    Sincerely,

  • My deepest condolences go to his family and friends who are the ones suffering the most.

    I am a believer in God, so I am sure he is in a better place now and I am also sure he will not be bothered by what I am about to say.

    To me this case raises two very important questions:

    1- Was he taking SSRIs or any other sort of psychotropic drug? News reports say that he was “battling depressing”, which is usually codeword for “he was being drugged with SSRIs”. I am looking forward to the toxicological results so this question can be answered. If he was indeed taking psychotropic drugs, we need to use this fact to advertise people NOT TO see psychiatrists.

    2- In the context of the Murphy bill advocacy, Williams’ case show psychiatry’s hypocrisy. His celebrity protected him of any talk of involuntary commitment or involuntary so called “treatment”. Had he been a poor person, I am sure his family would have been told that an involuntary commitment could have prevented his suicide. I don’t see Tim Murphy or DJ Jaffe spinning this case in the same way they usually manipulate mass shootings.

  • When I posted the comment above that somebody higher up at Fox News must know something I wasn’t aware of this editorial by the Times of London,

    http://cepuk.org/2014/06/21/doctors-quick-give-names-conditions-prescribe-medication-says-times/

    “The current fashion to label and try to treat aspects of human behaviour is not only unsustainably expensive, it may also prove injurious to the health of society as a whole…

    Individuals should not be subject to… a pseudo-diagnosis that does little more than stigmatise the particular personality trait they happen to possess and which a prevailing majority view happens to deem unacceptable. Many conditions are created in the naming and the diagnosis often does no good at all.

    Nor, other than as a last resort, should a child suffering no apparent physical ailment be routinely placed on long-term medication, whatever difficulty that child’s actions may create for those adults charged with his or her care. A chemical response may well be convenient but convenience seldom makes for the correct or the civilised course of action. Anxious parents and overzealous doctors are making a problem worse.”

    While they only publish a portion of the editorial, probably because The Times is now behind a paywall, that another influential media affiliated with Rupert Murdoch echoes the message makes me wonder if the guy/gal who “knows something” is even higher than Roger Ailes in the Murdoch media empire.

    In any case, I am very happy to see The Times taking on mainstream psychiatry.

  • Your answer leaves even more questions. What did I just say about throwing cliches. Psychiatry kills, really? Tell me something new!!

    From where I stand you seem either some sort of big pharma / pro psychiatry AstroTurf or one of those Scientology bashers trying to open new ground in a community, MIA, which doesn’t care much about Scientology except when some of us cheer CCHR when they hit psychiatry in some way.

    I don’t find any of those two agendas particularly appealing so I will stop engaging you in the future. Good luck with whatever you are up to!

  • Astor Turf, aka E Silly,

    As you can see, I have also changed my display name, dropping the 2013 because it was getting a bit old.

    You claim not to be AstroTurf although your recent display name change suggests otherwise. Well, let me answer your challenge with another challenge: what are you up to, really?

    I mean, looking at your comment history it seems your expertise is to either throw platitudes or Scientology smears.

    If I were big pharma AstroTurf , and I am not saying that you are, I would follow a similar strategy. Throw a couple of platitudes here and there to gain the trust of the MIA community and then, on important matters, throw something, like the Scientology smear, with the sole objective of dividing the community.

    As you said in a previous comment with respect to Scientology,

    “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

    It is time to apply the same test to you, Astor Turf 🙂 .

  • oldhead,

    Not sure if there is a legal way to expose this, and I am not sure I want it to be exposed either. Anonymity goes both ways, for them and for us.

    The administrator of the MIA website surely must know the email addresses of those who comment in MIA as well as their IP addresses (although the IP addresses might not mean much since there are ways to hide them with tools like https://www.torproject.org/ ).

    I am more interested in exploring whether there is AstroTurf among MIA commenters. By AstroTurf I do not mean people who have views favorable to big pharma or institutional psychiatry -I wouldn’t be in favor of censoring anybody who expresses said views or other views- but people who have been paid to proselytize those views and to disrupt MIA.

    If that were to be the case, it would be a reason to celebrate since that would mean that MIA has reached the point of being perceived as “threatening” by big pharma / institutionalized psychiatry 🙂 .

  • I’ll take that as a badge of honor!

    If the most people who don’t like my arguments can do is to attack me, or others who do not accept the Scientology smear as a valid argument in favor of the psychiatric model, personally is that they do not have good arguments in the first place.

    Personally, I have no interest in Scientology as a belief system. I am very happy with my Christian faith, which I see as offering a very fulfilling worldview.

    That said, I think that the way Scientology has confronted organized psychiatry is brilliant and I will never thank them enough for creating CCHR which in turn has helped individual people, like Maryanne Godboldo, confront institutional psychiatry in courts and in the court of public opinion.

  • That’s an interesting, and empowering, view!

    If Liisa and E Silly are indeed some sort of AstroTurf infiltrated in MIA to throw Scientology smears, it would seem that some people in the pro psychiatry quarters are beginning to be scared of MIA.

    The more, the better! Among other things because what they say is pretty ridiculous stuff.

  • Can you link that page for the rest of us? Gee, I am curious to know if I am there. The notion that I am a “friend of Scientology”, in the proselytizing sense, is ridiculous. Apparently some people never got over binary thinking despite the numerous examples in which the mindset “if you are not my friend you are my enemy” has gone terribly wrong.

    Some people hate Scientology, I get that. But the notion that hating Scientology comes from some sort of enlightened mindset and that not hating Scientology is the same as evangelizing for Scientology is ridiculous.

    Within Christianity, many have made similar arguments as to why their own denomination is “the right one”, and everybody else who claims to be a Christian is practicing a false faith.

  • Absolutely nothing. I am just highlighting how ridiculous your smear is.

    Loren Mosher is listed here as well https://web.archive.org/web/20041215235203/http://www.labelmesane.com/links/organizations.htm together with other well known critics of the biological model, and psychiatry in general, like MindFreedom (its founder David Oaks is who inspired Bob Whitaker to look deeper into psychiatry). MindFreedom has gone long ways to explain that it is not affiliated with Scientology because guess what, many like you throw the Scientology smear to any critic of psychiatry.

    So what if the old page listed some references to CCHR. It is very obvious that it listed many references to people/organizations who/which are critics of psychiatric drugging.

    While the most recent version does not list any Scientology affiliated website, it is obvious that the old version included references to CCHR as it included references to other non Scientology affiliated websites or persons like Loren Mosher. To extrapolate that http://www.pointofreturn.com/ is affiliated with Scientology is, well, as smear.

    Again, so “you”, that it is not surprising. You keep thinking that throwing the Scientology smear comes from some sort of enlightened point of view when in reality a simple analysis of the references listed makes anybody conclude that the old website was just listing organizations/people that criticize psychiatric drugging.

  • To clarify,

    My position, as an abolitionist, has been one of abolishing coercive psychiatry, which means, abolishing involuntary commitment, involuntary drugging, forensic psychiatry.

    Now, in addition, it would be nice if we stopped spending any of my hard earned tax dollars on so called “mental health”. As I have also explained several times, I see all expenditures on so called “mental health” a violation of the establishment and free exercise clauses of the first amendment. I understand however that there are many people making a living out of these dollars, including many so called “consumers” that DJ Jaffe likes to take on, so I am happy with settling with the abolition program for all forms of coercive psychiatry and letting the federal government waste my dollars on mental health quackery in exchange. That’s pretty realistic to me: we continue to pay the quacks and the proud users of their services in exchange that they leave the rest of us who want nothing to do with psychiatry alone.

  • Since I believe you were mentioning my comment, I ask you back, how do you expect mainstream psychiatrists to agree to your point 5- if the are part of the problem. Example,

    http://www.propublica.org/article/dollars-for-docs-the-top-earners

    “Most of these in-demand speakers hail from a just handful of states: four each from New York and Texas, and two each from California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Half are psychiatrists, including three of the top four earners”

    Those of us who are abolitionists are told that our position is not realistic, but my contention is that a plan like yours, which is based on the assumption that mainstream psychiatrists are going to participate massively or in significant numbers to make a difference is said lawsuits, is what is not realistic.

    The abolitionist position is based on the realization that psychiatry is too corrupted to be reformed. It cannot be reformed. And since psychiatry and psychiatrists are not going to go away, because as Alesandra Rain explains there is a market of people who want psychotropic drugs and there will always be, the best we can do is to make sure that all forms of coercive psychiatry are abolished.

    So in my view, those of us who fight for the ban of coercive psychiatry are the ones who have the more “realistic” point of view. Realistic doesn’t mean easy, of course, but when it comes to humans trusting pill pushers, the most realistic scenario is to make sure that said pill pushing is entirely voluntary, not pretend that it is going to go away by reforming the way pills are pushed onto people involuntarily.

  • It is so “you” that it is not surprising anymore. Yes, it is Scientology smear at its worse. If you search for it, there is a video interview between Bob Whitaker and Loren Mosher circulating as well. Let’s ban Mosher’s writings from MIA!!!

  • Thanks for confirming what I suspected. I remember that exchange of yours.

    I agree that Bill O’Reilly has been surprisingly courageous talking about these things, more than any other Fox personality. I hope one day he shares what’s behind his strong stance.

  • Rossa,

    Actually no. Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly rejected calls to lower the standard of civil commitment when his guests, some as influential and insisting as Charles Krauthammer, who happens to be a psychiatrist, bring the topic . That video was just an example, but I have seen him saying exactly the same thing regardless of the issue of guns.

  • Alesandra,

    Welcome to Mad In America. Nothing to disagree with what you say, particularly

    ” as consumers we dictate what stays on the market”

    I have made that same argument a few times 🙂 .

    I have a question for you. Feel free to say “I don’t know, I don’t want to answer”. I am an avid watcher of The O’Reilly Factor and Fox News. While some anchors have used the “commit the mentally ill” line a few times, I am also pleasantly surprised that many have rejected it, including

    – Bill O’Reilly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfUv3MU0WLo

    – Dana Perino here (minute 8) http://video.foxnews.com/v/2680571197001/should-the-media-change-the-way-mass-shootings-are-covered/

    After hearing these strong views, I hypothesize that somebody higher up at Fox or Bill and Dana themselves must know something about the cruelty of the mental health system but too embarrassed to talk openly about it.

    My personal experience is that those who have strong opinions about so called “mental health” (one way or another) is because they have experience with the system. Most people do not care. Can you comment on this?

  • I love this post.

    I just want to address one point,

    “Are your local news sources relying on MSNBC?”

    While I have absolutely no clue what are Bertel RĂĽdinger’s news sources, I can positively say that in Western Europe (in my own former country but also in others I have visited and based on my contact with other Western Europeans) the MSNBC message is what you read in the mainstream news sources over there.

    You might think that while you can expect that type of rhetoric from left wing outlets in Europe, “right wing outlets” should be different. Wrong. European right wing outlets bash the United States for a different reason: nationalistic politics.

    All Western European countries were either heads of large global empires, which are largely gone because of decolonization, or proud part of local empires (like Austria) so their right wing politicians hate the United States because Western Europe is pretty much irrelevant in today’s geopolitics.

    The leaders of Western Europe in the aftermath of WWII decided to retreat from world politics to focus on building local welfare states all while outsourcing Europe’s defense to the US throughout the cold war. It was a choice that these leaders made but they forgot that said arrangement would be less relevant to the United States once the cold were over. The end of the cold war happened, the US retreated from Western Europe and it exposed the continent’s many weaknesses.

    One would think that in these circumstances the political leaders of Europe would critically examine themselves. Wrong. Anti Americanism provides a good distraction tool that is used by both right wing and left wing politicians over there. While I am totally opposed to the massive spying perpetrated by the NSA, the hypocritical way in which Angela Merkel has reacted to the Snowden disclosures shows you how anti American politics are still widely popular over there.

  • Counterproductive is the right word.

    After a few days, what this post has managed to do is,

    – To infuriate those commenters who saw political positions they agree with caricatured by a blogger who readily admits that his political opinions are based on what he perceives from Europe – in full disclosure I agree with some Tea Party positions, particularly those that have to do with small government and civil liberties, but not with others.

    – To have several commenters cheer the post not because of what it says when it comes to psychiatry – because in fact it said pretty little about psychiatry- but because they also share the anti Tea Party politics expressed by the blogger.

    – Contribute to the narrative that the opposition to reforms like the Murphy bill are ultimately based on politics and that outlets like MIA are part of some sort of “anti psychiatry coalition” part of the larger progressive coalition.

    – Divide the MIA community. No meaningful reform is going to happen if the psychiatric survivor movement is perceived as a fringe movement inside the progressive political coalition.

    I’ve stated numerous times that I oppose gay marriage (I am fine with civil unions for gay couples). While that discussion is a different topic altogether, the reality is that the gay rights movement would not have been successful in the US had it not been because it managed to persuade people of all political backgrounds of their position. Marginalizing the survivor movement to left wing politics is a disservice to the movement itself.

  • Another thought. As to why it is important that Mad In America doesn’t fool itself associating with political posts like this: its credibility.

    Bob Whitaker says he keeps CCHR/Scientology bloggers out for political/tactic reasons. Whatever influence these have, is nothing in comparison to actual American politicians.

    Pete Earley has repeatedly said in his blogs things like,

    http://www.peteearley.com/2014/05/05/democrats-offer-alternative-bill-would-cut-most-controversial-changes-in-rep-murphys-legislation/

    “D. J. Jaffe, a protege of Dr. Torrey, and founder of Mental Illness Policy.Org accused the Democrats of stripping the guts from Rep. Murphy’s bill in favor of maintaing the status quo. He specifically chastized the Democrats for their continued support of SAMHSA.

    Congress created SAMHSA to “target … mental health services to the people most in need”. SAMHSA fails to focus on the seriously ill and funds programs and groups that make care more difficult. Those groups want to keep their funding. Only four of the 288 programs in the SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence Based Practices are for people with serious mental illness. SAMHSA uses block grant funds to coerce states to replace the medical model with SAMHSA’s recovery model, which requires people self-direct their own care. The most seriously ill, who are psychotic and delusional can not self direct their own care. SAMHSA encourages states to spend on prevention, when there is no way to prevent schizophrenia, bipolar or the other serious mental illnesses. SAMHSA suggests everyone recovers, thereby ignoring those so ill they do not. While accurate diagnosis is key to getting the right treatment, SAMHSA funds 20 Technical Assistance Centers (TAC) and the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) which joined the “Occupy Psychiatry” movement by declaring that “psychiatric labeling is a pseudoscientific practice of limited value in helping people recover.” Many NCMHR/TAC leaders do not believe mental illness exists and conduct SAMHSA funded workshops to teach persons with mental illness how to go off treatment. HR 3717 eliminates this nonsense by limiting SAMHSA to funding evidence-based programs and ending their ability to fund anti-medical model advocacy. This has engendered opposition from recipients of SAMHSA funds that do not focus on the seriously mentally ill nor use evidence based practices. This provision of HR 3717 is smart government: replace programs that don’t work with ones that do.

    Several of the mental health groups that have been working behind the scenes to thwart Rep. Murphy’s bill receive significant funding from SAMHSA.”

    One of the most absurd lines of attack coming from Murphy and his supporters to the opponents of his abusive bill is that it is motivated by traditional politics (Republicans vs Democrats) and by people who get currently funded by government.

    I must say that intentionally or unintentionally, publishing this blog advances that narrative since MIA has published several entries chastising, rightly so, Tim Murphy’s bill. If the concern of “appearance of conflict of interests” is genuine, then Mad In America should not publish political pieces like this that contain falsehoods about the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

  • “the Tea Party is at least partly funded by the rich”

    I do not disagree with that but that statement is a much more nuance statement that,

    “The Tea Party is largely funded by the Koch Brothers whose interests have quickly become an integral part of the Tea Party’s agenda”

    I have the advantage of having been here when the movement started. While I never went to any of their demonstrations, I have some contact with conservative politics to know that the Tea Party was a spontaneous, grassroots populous reaction to real perceived abuses of government (in particular the passage of a so called “stimulus bill” that spent more than 800 billion dollars largely in what is called around here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel )

    The media that largely supports Democratic causes (CNN and the like) tried to portray the movement as AstroTurf early on, with a confrontation between a CNN reporter and a Tea Party member being prominently shown. There is footage of the part that CNN did not show of that exchange, so here it comes,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6xWGvdRQ9Q

    Now, this is not to say that politicians in the Republican Party did not see an opportunity and they grabbed, to claim that the Tea Party is a Koch brother’s creation is plain inaccurate.

    Further, Bill Moyers can complain all he wants about money going into politics to help the rich, but in modern America it is Barack Obama who broke the non written rule of abiding by federal limits (by taking public money) during the campaign for the general election. Barack Obama broke that agreement (and his own promise) opening the door to the current situation

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2008/06/obama-to-break/

    Don’t fool yourself, an analysis of the money in his first campaign origin concluded that,

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/apr/22/barack-obama/obama-campaign-financed-large-donors-too/

    “In the general election, Obama got about 34 percent of his individual donations from small donors, people who gave $200 or less, according to a report from the Campaign Finance Institute. Another 23 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and another 42 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more.”

    So 42 % of those donations were from people that I would not call exactly “poor” or “middle class”.

    Barack Obama and the Democrats have a very powerful propaganda operation in place. The majority of billionaires who donate to politics do to them or causes they support. Yet somehow they have managed to portray a genuinely populous, grass root movement as “billionaire backed”.

    This post would have had more substance if it would have used Obama and they way his propaganda machine works as allegory. Instead it builds on demonstrably false cliches like the Russia/Palin incident.

  • The plan looks great in theory, but in practice, I think it is wishful thinking because it fails to acknowledge that the vast majority of psychiatrists are part of the problem. Take for instance,

    “5. Find a law firm which represents mental health clients in malpractice, negligence and reckless endangerment suits. Volunteer 10% of your professional time to help patients who have been harmed by doctors using DSM-5 category labels or practices unsupported by even rudimentary research. Encourage local law firms to pursue legal action not only against pharmaceutical companies as corporate entities, but against individual corporate officers by name, on grounds of conspiracy to defraud and reckless endangerment of the health of patients who use their over-hyped psychotropic products.”

    I bet that the number of psychiatrists in the US, both members and non members of the APA, who would not be eligible for being at the receiving end of legal action is so small that the majority of psychiatrists are unlikely to accept the advice above. And if any of them is targeted by a lawsuit, they will call their friends to CYA.

    This is the main problem that I see with those of the “reform mindset”. They fail to see that the majority of the current practitioners of psychiatry, psychology and social work are part of the problem. They can be hardly part of the solution as long as they continue to make a living out of the status quo.

  • Very well said!!

    I very much like this,

    “if the field in which the degree is offered is based on not only an invalid analysis of the problem, but a completely impossible one, doesn’t there come a point where you would concede that to be truly helpful the problem needs to be radically redefined”

    The way psychiatrists are trained makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. They spend 4 years of rigorous training on the inner workings of the body. After these four years they are told: put aside all that rigorous/scientific training and be prepared to preach “chimeras about the mind” that are scientifically unproven. It begs the question why do they need a medical degree in the first place.

    Using my “hardware/software” analogy -which I know you like- is like requiring software engineers to spend 10 years (4 undergrad + 6 to get a doctorate) learning about quantum mechanics and how electrons travel in electronic devices only to tell them, never mind, now you are going to apply all that knowledge about quantum mechanics to design nice looking webpages.

    I think of Sandy as “work in progress”. I am not giving up that someday she will come full circle accepting what you say.

  • Except that MIA is not supposed to be a blog about personal politics, when it comes to the bloggers, but about psychiatry. The only politics that should be allowed from bloggers is as it pertains to psychiatry. In fact politics is the reason Bob Whitaker gave to ban bloggers associated with CCHR/Scientology. Apparently echoing demonstrably false information about American politics is fine, as long as they are about the American right.

    One of the most persistent stereotypes that exist about average Americans in Europe is that we are clueless about what happens outside our borders. Several polls seem to support this. It is my personal experience though that Americans who don’t know will tell you out right: I don’t know. My experience with Europeans is the opposite, when they don’t know about something, they throw some cliches to give the appearance that they do, as this blogger is doing with Tea Party politics or E Silly did with the Scientology smear. Obviously, I find the position of the average American more authentic and reflective of self confidence. Worse things happen when people work on faulty beliefs than on the assumption that more information is needed.

  • Speaking of falsehoods,

    As I write this, I can still read in your piece despite being demonstrably false (see the snopes page),

    “Sarah Palin claimed to know about foreign policy because she was from Alaska and could see Russia from her bedroom window”

    Sarah Palin never said that.

    As I said, there are other falsehoods or misleading statements in your piece. I am not doing the fact checking for you.

    Also one has to wonder how is that you picked the Tea Party for your allegory, which is obvious you know little about, but you left out the Danish People’s Party which not only is demonstrably a xenophobic party but you surely must know better since it is Denmark’s creation and was part of the governing coalition in Denmark during most of the 2000s.

    Still scratching my head that factually false information is allowed to be published by MIA (again Sarah Palin never said what you say she said).

  • Thank you for your support Anon/oldhead.

    I am not one who likes to brag about the people that I have helped or I haven’t helped.

    Suffice it to say that if everything goes according to plan, 10-15 years from now psychiatry will hear in earnest from me (if it hasn’t been abolished in between, that is), when I plan to come out as a full time anti psychiatry activist.

    I am old enough to have seen several patterns in my life that, for better or for worse, show up over and over again.

    One of them is luck, including the particular circumstances in which my own abuse happened. I spoke of them in my first post but I left many details out to make it unlikely that somebody identifies me from reading my posts. However, when the full details of my story become public, people will understand that indeed, I am a lucky guy.

    The second is that people tend to underestimate me. This has happened to me both during my school years and my professional years.

    I am right now working on making sure that I am financially independent when the right time comes to “come out”. The most I can do for now is my anonymous online activism, but its not my last word when it comes to anti psychiatry activism by any means!

  • Like there aren’t billionaires donating to left wing causes. Here come a few,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros#Political_donations_and_activism

    http://www.businessinsider.com/eric-schmidt-tried-to-get-google-to-hide-his-political-donation-in-search-results-2011-4?op=1

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/08/07/the-politics-of-jeff-bezos/

    http://www.businessinsider.com/donations-obama-romney-tech-yahoo-google-facebook-2012-9?op=1

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/372528/warren-buffett-gives-millions-pay-abortions-betsy-woodruff

    So I’d say it’s not even a close call. At this point of history, the billionaire class donates reliably to Democratic/progressive causes. I know, not something that is talked about much in Western Europe, but that’s the reality portrayed by the facts.

  • E Silly,

    There seems to be a pattern with you in which you present issues as if they come from some sort of “enlightened state of mind” when they are simply your own political positions and biases. It happened with the whole Scientology smear and it is happening now with the politics of American conservatives.

    Believe it or not, a large percentage of Americans do think that homosexual behavior is sinful. The United States is a much more religious society than Western Europe, because of its history of higher regard for religious freedom, so you can bet that people voted for Michele Bachmann precisely because of her views on homosexuality. Evangelical Christians make a sizable part of American society, whether Europeans like it or not.

    It might seem strange to you that many Americans vote for positions like those defended by Michele Bachmann but I can assure you that on this side of the Atlantic, there are still people scratching their heads that the National Front won the last elections to the European Parliament in France or that the Danish People’s Party won the same election in Denmark. At least the Tea Party movement is not racist!

    And before you bring again Western European folklore about how racist the Tea Party is, I challenge you to name me a single politician associated with the Tea Party movement that holds racist views like those of the leaders of the French National Front or the Danish People’s Party.

  • I address several questions here,

    Bonnie,

    The reference to astrology that I have made several times is not “out of the blue”. As a student of the different pseudoscientific theories that attempt to reduce the complexity of the human experience to simplistic models, I am well aware of the influence astrology had all the way throughout the Renaissance in Western Europe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_astrology#Medieval_and_Renaissance_Europe . So strong that in fact, its legacy is still with us today. There are even peer reviewed journals on astrology like this http://www.cultureandcosmos.org/ or this http://www.isarastrology.com/International-Astrologer .

    Francesca,

    That example was so 40 + years ago. At that time (pre 1975), “need for treatment” was still a legitimate standard for civil commitment in the US https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Connor_v._Donaldson . Can you provide a more recent example that doesn’t involve diseases deemed highly contagious and potentially deadly?

    Frank,

    We are so much on agreement on so many issues. I agree with pretty much everything that you have said. I want to emphasize the idea that the abolitionist debate is not an academic exercise for me either. The very existence of coercive psychiatry is the most important obstacle for my well being of all the different policies on so called “public health” written into the law. The existence of this form of oppression and the fact that I am officially labelled “sub human” by the mental health laws of the United States impacts the way I live and the things that I do or do not do. To those who defend the “reformist view”, spare me of the nonsense. I understand that there are many making a career of being either “mental health practitioners” or receiving “mental health benefits” and that you feel your source of income would be threatened if suddenly coercive psychiatry were to be abolished with public dollars stopping flowing from my taxes to you. You have a legitimate self interest but my own legitimate self interest is that all forms of coercive psychiatry are abolished so that the only way that I can be locked up is if I am suspected of having committed a crime and/or duly convicted of the same. I am not asking much, only that I am treated as every other person that the APA doesn’t consider “subhuman”.

  • Something else,

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/12/journalist-consensus-media-leans-left-179852.html

    “Top journalists from The New York Times, NBC News and CNN acknowledged Wednesday that, generally speaking, the national media have a liberal bias.

    On a Playbook Breakfast panel, the Times’ Peter Baker and Mark Leibovich, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell and CNN’s Jake Tapper all said “yes” when asked if the news media lean left — though all agreed it was a nuanced issue having more to do with journalists’ life experiences than with any particular agenda.”

    Several studies on political party affiliation of American journalists confirm this. So reading these same journalists bashing Tea Party politicians is not the best way to get an accurate portrayal of American politics.

    The real miracle is that in spite of having to work in this hostile environment we still manage to win elections from time to time. I am not bashing these leftist journalists though. The reason we lost in 2012 had more to do with the incompetence of the Romney campaign and its consultants -like the ones who scapegoated on Sarah Palin the 2008 loss- than with the demonstrable leftist bias of the American media.

  • “There are far too many people who want psychiatry as a choice”

    The same is true of,

    – Christianity

    – Islam

    – Scientology

    – Mormonism

    – Astrology

    – Your preferred belief system…

    Why should my tax dollars have to pay for any of the above?

    What I have yet to hear from the reformist crowd is a cogent argument as to why it is legitimate for government to adopt psychiatry as a form of social control. The first amendment explicitly bans government from promoting “belief systems”. There seems to be little disagreement that indeed, psychiatry is a “belief system”. So even if people love it, why should I have to pay for it with my tax dollars? And why should I be forced to live by the DSM framework under the threat of losing my freedom if I do not comply?

    The reformist point of view doesn’t make any sense, intellectually speaking, except for the fact that when one combines the number of psychiatrist, psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses working out of government tax dollars, that’s a lot of people who would become unemployed if psychiatry were to be given the same legal status as the other “belief systems”.

  • Regarding Michelle Bachmann,

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/06/justinas-law-seeks-curb-experimentation-foster-children/

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/29/justinas-law-would-curb-research-on-foster-childre/

    “In the wake of the Justina Pelletier custody saga, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers have introduced a bill to limit federal funding for medical research involving foster children.

    “Sixteen months ago, Justina was a figure skater. Today, she cannot stand, sit or walk on her own,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, said of the bill, dubbed “Justina’s Law.”

    “It is unconscionable what happened to Justina, and we must do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again. Removing federal funding from such experimentation is an important first step,” said Mrs. Bachmann.

    “Foster children are particularly vulnerable because they may not have parents to advocate for them,” said Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, and Rep. Tom Marino, Pennsylvania Republican.

    All four lawmakers are co-chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth in the House of Representatives.”

    “Here you go again”, presenting a caricature of Michelle Bachmann that does not match the reality of American politics.

    Throwing out the names of politicians demonized by the European media does not make you an expert in American politics.

  • Again, watching a movie produced by a notoriously “pro Democratic” production company is not the best way to get an objective portrayal of American politics. From your own Wikipedia link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_Change_%28film%29#Accuracy

    “Palin said Game Change was based on a “false narrative” and that she did not intend to see it.[14] The film, and the book it is based upon, has been described by John and Cindy McCain as inaccurate.[15] Like Palin, McCain said he did not intend to see it.[13]”

    The others quoted as saying that the description was OK, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, are well known political consultants who work for losing campaigns. Steve Schmidt in particular has spent the last 6 years trying to “save face” for the numerous blunders he committed during the 2008 campaign that cost McCain his election. Blaming Palin became some sort of scapegoating for these political consultants and their inability to run a winning political campaign (scapegoating innocents is something that psychiatric survivors know a thing or two about). Something that happened again in 2012 with different consultants of the same mindset. This is an analysis published by the Associated Press (hardly a conservative outlet) https://news.yahoo.com/first-black-voter-turnout-rate-passes-whites-115957314.html

    “Romney would have erased Obama’s nearly 5 million-vote victory margin and narrowly won the popular vote if voters had turned out as they did in 2004, according to Frey’s analysis. Then, white turnout was slightly higher and black voting lower.”

    These expensive, and incompetent, political consultants not happy with costing the Republicans elections, then go around bashing the party that hired them in the first place. This is how it goes with losing political consultants (Democratic ones are known for doing exactly the same when they lose their campaigns, as an analysis of the aftermath of 2004 and 2010 shows).

    This is too subtle for somebody whose main understanding of American politics comes watching “Game Change” and similarly biased productions.

    Again, I don’t blame you. Sort of coming to the US and living here for a couple of years, reading media outlets of different persuasions, there is now way that you can get an accurate picture of our politics from reading the European media alone. Just as I have lost touch with Europeans politics after my many years living over here (thus I was a bit surprised when xenophobic and other type of extremist parties got a significant share of the vote in the recent elections for the European parliament; I suppose that I would feel similarly pissed off watching unelected European Union bureaucrats becoming wealthy at my expense; “taxation without representation” was the theme of the original Boston Tea Party after all).

    My beef remains with the MIA editors who should have known better. Still waiting that they publish some sort of disclaimer that this blogger’s political opinions are his own and do not reflect MIA’s.

  • The only drugging for real diseases that I am aware of that has ever been forced onto people has to do with highly contagious infectious diseases that can kill people (tuberculosis, leprosy). In fact, while the West was busy arguing whether HIV was one such disease, the Cuban government decided not to wait and adopted an aggressive policy in case it was (while a bit relaxed, that aggressive policy remains in place today).

    You cannot be locked up for the flu, for instance, even if you are highly contagious.

    I am not aware of any treatment for a physical disease that didn’t involve high risk of deadly contamination that was ever been imposed onto anybody, at least in the United States. Chemotherapy cannot be imposed against a patient’s will even if it is life saving (which makes a mockery of the whole notion of preemptive lock up for danger to self).

    These protections, of course, do not apply to minors or people legally incapacitated but that is not what we are talking about here. The bottom line remains: adults deemed having legal capacity cannot be forced on pretty much anything, medically speaking, save psychiatry.

  • This question is as absurd as the notion that the anti slavery position was flawed because it didn’t provide an alternative to “room and board for life” that slaves had prior to the Emancipation Declaration.

    In fact, many today still blame the struggles of some in the African American community in the evil slavery that was perpetrated on them for a long time. Does this mean that slavery should have never been abolished without having an alternative to “room and board for life” for the former slaves? It is a ludicrous (and rhetorical) question that answers your own and Francesca’s.

  • As a former European -one who bought the distortions about American politics portrayed by mainstream European sources like the BBC before coming here- I am well aware of the way the American political right is caricatured in Europe. My point is that the MIA editors should know better.

    You might it find disturbing, but close to 60 million Americans, or 45.7% of the voting public, voted in 2008 for the ticket McCain-Palin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2008 . Furthermore, Palin was in large part responsible that the victory of Obama over McCain wasn’t even bigger (for the first half of September 2008 McCain was ahead of Obama in the polls in large part because of the Palin effect).

    Similarly, you might find it disturbing, but since 2002, Fox News has the highest number of viewers among all cable news networks https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cable_news#Ratings .

    So a blog entry that begins with the premise that watching Fox News is “bad” or that voting for “Tea Party” politicians is “bad” and that builds on falsehoods like the Palin/”I can see Russia from my house” incident might be perceived as politically neutral in Europe (to be honest even in some places around here) but a site like MIA that prides itself of being objective should not have let it published “as is” or without a disclaimer that it is politically biased and that it doesn’t represent the views of MIA (this is what respected news media like CNN or Fox News do when they publish politically charged op-eds like this one).

  • Who knows but I have to say the following:

    – I repudiate satanism, and everything it represents -even that satanic temple which is portrayed in the media as a collection of atheists mocking religion- in no uncertain terms. At the same time, Christian teaching, which recognizes the existence of good an evil, says that the right way to fight evil is to do good deeds. The few times that Christians have attempted to fight evil by censoring it very bad things have happened, like the Crusades or things like the Salem trials.

    – Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, has addressed several times the topic of censorship in China (for instance here during the Q&A https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mXd-cTj5lI ). He says that he gets asked a lot by Chinese people about what’s wrong about censoring falsehoods. While I do not agree with everything that Eric Schmidt says or stands for, I agree with his answer to the Chinese student: the appropriate response to these falsehoods is more speech not censorship. Information is free; so are people’s ideas and beliefs. Repression only takes “forbidden ideas and beliefs” into hiding, it doesn’t make them disappear. Sunlight and transparency are still the best tools to fight evil doers. In fact, that one of the guaranteed things dictators do after gaining power is to take control of the media tells you how damaging free speech is to those of a totalitarian mindset.

    – As a former European, the set of the rights I am most thankful for from my American citizenship are those contained in the first amendment. If there is a real divide in the understanding of individual freedom between Americans and Europeans, it’s precisely the different approaches to government’s ability to suppress speech, religion or the ability of people to petition the government. In countries like the UK it is still illegal to dishonor the Royal family. Similarly unpopular speech is routinely suppressed through libel lawsuits. The UK is notorious for placing the burden of proof on the defense not on the accusation for said lawsuits. This is why Lance Armstrong sued The Sunday Times for libel and won but he didn’t dare suing any of the American newspapers/media outlets that published basically the same information as The Sunday Times did. Our stronger protections of free speech (and religion) eventually made the truth about him come to light.

    – On the topic of Scientolgy. I have to admit that after hearing/being confronted with the “Scientology smear” a few times, I decided to take a serious look at Scientology. While written in a negative tone, this is probably one of the best resources there is on them https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/ . If find their beliefs strange, but then again, my own faith believes that a man can be born out of virgin, do all sorts of miracles (that the Talmud mocks in all sort of ways too https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_the_Talmud ), then die and resurrect to never die again. Not sure which one is more strange except that while we know when Scientology was “invented”, there is nobody around left from the time of Jesus to tell how things happened back then -with the possible exception of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Jew .

    My bottom line is this: I am tired of listening to people who believe that bashing Scientology comes from an enlightened state of mind. It doesn’t, specially in the context of psychiatry criticism. Those who gladly use the “Scientology smear” to shut down the debate about psychiatry only prove that the APA and big pharma have had a great success with the smear. We shouldn’t fall for it.

  • Answering to Ted as well,

    Another big difference is that there is no court ordered statins or Truvada, even if there was a way to justify that taking either affects public health outcomes. I don’t have data to show that forcing people on statins would alter outcomes, but I do to show that forcing every single person deemed at high risk of HIV infection due to his/her behavioral patterns would dramatically affect the HIV prevalence in the United States: the Cuban experiment http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2688320/ .

    All this to say that psychiatry enjoys a peculiar status that is denied to other branches of medicine that have arguably better scientific bona fides and better scientific justifications for their interventions.

    Both things combined -psychiatry’s lack of scientific basis and its coercive prerogative- help explain why psychiatry enjoys the free ride that other branches of medicine do not. You can say no to a doctor offering statins or Truvada for prevention purposes and that no means really no. With psychiatry a similar no/yes is never truly free.

  • Importantly, we should make a concerted effort to say that “anti”, in “anti psychiatry” means the same thing as in “anti slavery” not “anti science” which is one of the things that might put off some people.

    One of the things I like most about the anti psychiatry point of view (mine) is that it is exquisitely scientific. It boils down to this: if you claim that whatever the APA defines as “mental illness” is a putative brain disease, please shown me the scientific evidence with the same rigorous standard we demand of oncology to show that cancer is an actual bodily disease.

  • Answering to E Silly here to make sure the reply is not lost,

    “In my definition (and country) Scientology doesn’t qualify as a religion.”

    All that is good, but we should not lose perspective. This webzine is still “Mad In America” and governed by US laws in regulations which indeed recognize Scientology as a bona fide religion. It is not my blog either and Bob Whitaker has made it very clear that he welcomes perspectives form all people (even, apparently tone deaf ones about what the Tea Party is in the United States).

    Whichever country you come from, in the United States Scientology is a religion. While this fact alone does not make Scientology immune to criticism, it means that singling it out for criticism in a discussion about psychiatry, which is itself a belief system, specially when the discussion is that Scientology is some sort of competitor of psychiatry, among all other belief systems/religious, is perceived as bigotry. Bob Whitaker has made it clear that his reason to not let Scientology/CCHR bloggers has to do with the politics of psychiatry, which is fine, but the way you have attacked Scientology looks bigoted. It might as well true that at some point the things Scientology is accused of are substantiated, in the same way the Catholic church was for a long time accused of doing things that were only substantiated many years later, but even that should have no bearing on Scientology’s status as a religion under US laws.

    To explain why, we need to look at history and the reason the first amendment “establishment clause” and “free exercise clause” exist. You can read more about it here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Establishment_Clause https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Exercise_Clause .

    The practical effect is that many belief systems that are allowed to exist in the United States are banned elsewhere, not only Scientology because the historical lesson learned from mixing belief systems and government is that said belief systems flourish better where there is a complete separation between the belief system and government along the lines of the first amendment.

    Historically, all European countries since the times of the Roman Empire have had (and have) some sort of either “government Church” or government preferred church(es). The most clear example of “government Church” is the Anglican Church. The most obvious examples of government preferred churches are the Christian churches in countries like Germany or Austria that have an institutionalized “church tax” to help fund them. While these governments are “in theory” secular, in practice they favor certain religions over others and put the resources of government (like tax collection) to help fund these churches.

    In the US on the other side, the wall is clear, with the only advantage being the tax exemption status that churches have (and certainly, neither the federal government nor states governments put their resources at the disposal of any church to collect taxes for them; the notion of “exemption” is to avoid taxes which is different from collecting taxes and distributing it to a few churches). The loose way this tax exemption is applied is such that not only Scientology but even the American Humanist Association, a group promoting atheism, was for a long time a “tax exempt church” http://www.americanhumanist.org/hnn/archives/?id=283&article=1 . Basically, any group of people who proclaim a “belief system” can get it provided they do not use it to commit crimes.

    Now, while Europe was allegedly “religious” during the time most European countries were totalitarian regimes (which few exceptions, the democratization of Europe in earnest started in the aftermath of WWII), as soon as true democratization kicked in, most European countries became extremely secular very fast. Churches today are empty everywhere in the continent. In comparison, the United States is arguably the most religious Western nation. Not only old religious flourish (like traditional Christianity, Judaism or Islam) but the US creates new ones, like Mormonism, Scientology or the Pentecostal sects.

    From my point of view, the only belief system that is right now in violation of both the establishment and free exercise clauses is psychiatry. In fact, I am far from being the first to notice that the DSM is some sort of sacred text for the secular community https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/02/the-dsm-as-a-sacred-text-for-a-secular-community/ .

    From my vantage point, any argument about Scientology this, Scientology that is an argument that fuels the interested PR campaign promoted by the APA and big pharma that seeks to assign the label “Scientology smear” to all legitimate criticism of psychiatry (the main reason why Bob Whitaker adopted his policy for MIA bloggers).

    Commenters like you who import the “Scientology smear” from whatever country you are from are basically playing the game the APA and big pharma want us to play. It doesn’t advance in anyway the survivor movement.

  • Andrew,

    To me it is obvious. And that’s the main reason mainstream psychiatry supports coercive psychiatry. Not because they are about to commit all so called “mentally I’ll” but because the whole endorsement of mental health as understood by psychiatry by governments- to the point that this version of mental health is deemed an essential Obamacare benefit- helps assure the employment of psychiatrists for decades to come.

    Astrology also has a market funded entirely by private money but it is not nearly as big as it would be if astrology was promoted and enforced by government.

  • Several points:

    -Both the title and the content of the article are a caricature of the Tea Party. The title I’d not “Sarah Palin is the Joseph Biederman of psychiatry” but that the Tea Party as a whole is like psychiatry to medicine.

    – To justify your position you echo demonstrably false cliches about Sarah Palin like http://www.snopes.com/politics/palin/russia.asp . Several others are either false or misleading.

    – That this article was published without editing speaks poorly of MIA. It is one thing for a European who has formed his opinions on the Tea Party from the distortions the European press publishes on American politics, quite another for the American editors at MIA to let them be presented as facts, like the Russia/Palin incident above.

    – Finally there are several conservatives who are also part of the MIA community. I think that Bob needs to address the topic of whether MIA is going to adopt a conservative bashing point of view like the one we expect from MSNBC.

  • It seems this was addressed to me.

    I disagree. The biggest paying customers for psychotropic drugs worldwide, including in the US, are governments. Governments are also psychiatry’s most important evangelists through mental health laws.

    Without the transfer of public money to psychiatry and its evangelization by governments psychiatry would be about as relevant as astrology.

  • Something I want to add. The rest of medicine might not be exempt of excesses, but since it is increasingly precise, the type of massive scam that happens in psychiatry is not possible.

    You can spin all day long that a given drug lowers cholesterol or sugar levels in blood but there are precise biological levels to falsify said claims: blood tests. Similarly, try to use cholesterol drugs off label to treat say cancer. There are ways to show whether the drug is not working, including that the patient might as well die.

    The reason psychiatry is a gold mine for big pharma is its non scientific, subjective nature. So any drug can be used to treat anything and there is no way to check whether the drug is doing (or not doing) what it is supposed to do, which is also unknown in the first place.

  • I am not a supporter of Scientology. I am saying that you have a double standard whet it comes to criticizing religions:

    – For Scientology you accept hearsay to indict its practices and all of Scientology.

    – For the rest, even when there are systematic atrocities committed by its members and covered up by its leadership, you seem to be fine.

    This double standard is what makes you appear non rational. In addition to support you non rational point of view you went as far as comparing the hearsay of former Scientology members with the testimony of survivors of psychiatric abuse, many of whom can indeed document what it was done to them (us).