Saturday, February 27, 2021

Comments by CannotSay

Showing 688 of 688 comments.

  • 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 .

    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,

    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 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 . 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 .

    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,

    “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 , 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 . 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 ) 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 .

    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,

    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,

    “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 .

    “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, . 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:

    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): , 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. , 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:

    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,

    “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,

    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,

    “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 .

  • 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,

    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 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 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 , 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 ).

    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,

    “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,

    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” .

  • 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 .

    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 ) 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 (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 , 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 , , 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,

    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,

    “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,

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

    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.


  • 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,

    “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 ).

    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 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 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,

    “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

    – Dana Perino here (minute 8)

    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 Rüdinger’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,

    “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 )

    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,

    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

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

    “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,

    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,


    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: . So strong that in fact, its legacy is still with us today. There are even peer reviewed journals on astrology like this or this .


    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 . Can you provide a more recent example that doesn’t involve diseases deemed highly contagious and potentially deadly?


    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,

    “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,

    “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

    “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)

    “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,_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 .

    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 ). 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 . 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 ), 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 .

    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 .

    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 .

    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” . 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 .

    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 . 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).

  • A new low from you, really.

    I cannot speak for every survivor to be sure, but I can assure you that I have with me,

    – The court order that had me involuntarily committed for committing the “sin” of fearing HIV more than what European psychiatry deems acceptable. You cannot make this stuff up. The people who have seen the order are astonished about how easy it is to have somebody involuntarily committed in the country where this happened to me.

    – A ton of medical records that explain in detail what it was done to me for “treatment”.

    You can be assured that the day I become a public anti psychiatry activist I will make both publicly available to make sure people believe my story and don’t have to trust “hearsay” :). But in any case, many survivors have published theirs so you don’t have to wait to see mine. This is an example of a commitment hearing transcript .

    Similarly, when it comes to the Catholic church here is a list of settlements . If you want to have a copy of the settlements, you can write the respective courthouses to get one. Most of them are public record. In fact, the documents associated to the Los Angeles diocese are here for everybody to see .

    My point is that most of the accusations against Scientology are not based on facts established in the court of law but on hearsay and testimony of disgruntled former Scientologists. It doesn’t mean that they are false, but again, if you are going to discredit a whole faith, you better have something better against them than what already exists against established churches like the Catholic church.

    You have demonstrated during this discussion that you are not very good at having a rational debate. When your unsubstantiated statements are discredited you respond by doubl2ing down on your dogma “Scientology is evil”. You might think that this is “smart debating” but in fact repeating dogmas ad nauseam is proof of the opposite.

  • Also I have to rush to dispel the notion that Fox News promotes coercive psychiatry. In fact, two of its most influential personalities are on record opposing lowering the standard for involuntary commitment – which is much higher than that of Denmark-,

    – Here is Dana Perino -who was GW Bush’s Press Secretary- (starting in minute 8:00) expressing her opposition using a 4th amendment argument:

    – Here is Bill O’Reilly very recently bashing those who suggested the same in the aftermath of one of those shootings .

    Finally, if it hadn’t been because Fox News support, it is very unlikely that Justina Pelletier would have recovered her freedom without her parents making any concessions to America’s most powerful academic psychiatry department: Harvard’s.

    I must say that this article contains so many distortions and misrepresentations on the Tea Party and the positions of American conservatives like yours truly that the fact that it was published “as is” reflects poorly on the editors of Mad In America.

  • With all due respect, this is an insult to the Tea Party :).

    I do not blame you for not understanding what the Tea Party represents in American politics, since when I was living in Europe the mainstream press over there presented a very distorted vision of the American reality that I came to know when I came over here, so for the sake of informing others who might be equally confused, here comes a little bit of an explanation.

    The “Tea Party” is not a political party, rather a populous movement made of everyday citizens that became disgusted with the increased government overreach in the aftermath of the election of Barack Obama. It used the “primary system” to successfully infiltrate the Republican Party. Since the elections of 2010 several politicians representing Tea Party ideas form part of the Republican caucus both in the House of Representatives as well as the US Senate. I know of no European country in which the primaries of political parties are open to anyone, not only dues paying members of the respective parties, by law. I haven’t been following European politics much over the last years, so I would love to know if this has changed. In most European countries, it’s either the governing bodies of political parties, or primaries organized by the political parties themselves among its members, rather than public elections, that nominate candidates for political office.

    FreedomWorks is one of the numerous political action groups that promote Tea Party candidates. This is what they have to say about civil liberties . It doesn’t look very “let government lock up anybody it wants via psychiatry” to me.

    PS1: The name “Tea Party” comes from a reference to an actual Tea Party that took place in Boston prior to the American Revolution to protest what it became known as “taxation without representation”.

    PS2: For the most part, I hold Tea Party politicians like -who might as well be the Republican nominee for the 2016 Presidential Election-, or in high regard.

  • This is a very strange coincidence, but I spent some of my time this weekend arguing this very topic to the point of having written a post that I reproduce below as to why I am an abolitionist and why I think those on my side will eventually win in the sense at that some point all forms of coercive psychiatry will be abolished in the same way slavery was even though it took 200 years to go from the 3/5ths compromise to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Why I am an abolitionist

    My full response to this question

    It is the same reason that when slavery was legal there were two “well meaning” schools of thought about it:

    – One that fought for its abolition on moral grounds: slavery is wrong, period. Regardless of any other consideration, its abolition is a noble goal.

    – Another that slavery, when applied properly, was a force for good and thus the right approach was to improve the lives of slaves not to abolish slavery. I am not making this up

    “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. This theory was used by its composer Senator and Governor James Henry Hammond, a wealthy southern plantation owner, to justify what he saw as the willingness of the non-whites to perform menial work which enabled the higher classes to move civilization forward. With this in mind, any efforts for class or racial equality that ran counter to the theory would inevitably run counter to civilization itself.

    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.”

    So while slavery and coercive psychiatry are not exactly the same, both are justified on the same principle: government paternalism on a “subclass of people”. For the pro slavery people, the “subclass” were the blacks, for the “pro coercive psychiatry folks” that subclass is those the APA labels with the DSM.

    So to me, the question is not hard to answer. Other considerations aside, we in the abolitionist movement are fighting for what we perceive as a moral cause and we will not relent until we achieve our goals. Our position might sound ridiculous or unachievable but I think that the same could have been said in 1791 since what the “we must learn to live with psychiatry” crowd sells looks strikingly similar to the Three-Fifths Compromise . Guess who had the last word even though it took the US almost 200 years until it approved the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

  • No I am a Scientologist?

    Of all your innuendos, this is certainly the most absurd of them all.

    I’d say that if this exchange has showed something is your inability to debate rationally the issue of why people should accept as valid the “Scientology smear” promoted by the APA and big pharma.

  • Maybe it is a baby swan.

    In any case, my point remains, you have a clear double standard with shows your intellectual inconsistency. Your standard is not built on confirmed convictions of Scientology as an institution but on hearsay and, I would assume, some sort of fad that is very popular in some circles that like to present themselves are “intellectual”.

    If the standard you apply to Scientology to consider a it a potential ally were to be applied to other religions, none of them would survive said standard. For some reason, you seem to be fine with a joining forces with a church that has actively covered up demonstrated cases of sexual child abuse but you have a problem with a church whose only conviction, as an institution, is in the court of public opinion through baseless accusations like the one against David Miscavige on the whereabouts of his wife.

  • I am also for entirely legal and peaceful methods confronting psychiatry but I find your position problematic on several fronts :

    – I know that in certain circles, Scientology bashing is some sort of sport and people would spend days speaking of Lisa McPherson. Her case was tragic to be sure, but when you claim that “violence, abuse and coercion within Scientology is pretty well documented” the people who typically make these accusations refer to hearsay and testimony of former members. Now, I am not saying that these former members are lying, but I am saying is that unless you can point to documented instances of criminal convictions, this remains, that, hearsay. When I say that that there are documented instances of sexual abuse in the Catholic church I am saying things like , or . Still I am not hearing people repudiating critics of psychiatry who are Catholic or demanding that we do not try to use that church’s political muscle to our advantage.

    – As an example of nonsensical accusations against David Miscavige is that whatever you think about the man (and I have no opinion because there is little confirmed info about him) , he needs to put up with things like “LAPD Dismisses Leah Remini’s Missing Person Report on Wife of Scientology Leader”. Now think about it, I only see two options here: either Scientology is an ultra powerful organization that is able to influence Los Angeles’ police, DAs and judges, or, most likely, the accusation was baseless. So how much trust can we put on the testimony of disgruntled former Scientology members?

    – Before dismissing Thomas Szasz as a “self opinionated bigot”, I ask you to read his paper “The Myth of Mental Illness” published in 1960, 9 full years before he co founded CCHR and 50 years before Tom Insel / the APA made their outstanding admissions that no so called “mental illness” has been found to be biological. To me that paper remains a jewel of intellectual power and clarity.

    – Finally, I also find very dishonest the line of argument “Scientology’s main goal is to destroy psychiatry and the psychs to sell their own unscientific and potential harmful Scientology “mental health” services to as many people as possible”. Even if that is true, that’s a similar accusation that DJ Jaffe throws at peer support groups who get SAMHSA funding. The Wall Street Journal said “SAMHSA is in the vanguard of the legal advocacy and anti-psychiatry movement that sprang to life in the 1980s, and it continues to waste taxpayer dollars on programs that undercut efforts to help the world’s Adam Lanzas. Known generally as the “consumer/survivor” movement (as in having “survived” psychiatric treatment), this movement largely opposes drug treatment, psychiatric care, civil commitment laws or even the reality of mental illness. SAMHSA pushes the “recovery model,” an approach that puts the patient in charge of crafting his own recovery plan and stresses “empowerment” and coping rather than medical intervention.” Now, does this mean that I should repudiate the “recovery movement” because I am personally against all expenditures in so called “mental health”? Well, no, I am supporting the Barber bill not because I see value in its proposals but because at least does not make coercive proposals more widely available.

    To summarize, I think that you are a perfect example of how successful the “Scientology smear” against criticism of psychiatry has been. When your claims are critically examined, they are easily debunked.

  • And one last thing. I accept Bob Whitaker’s argument that the reason he doesn’t want CCHR/Scientology affiliated bloggers is a political tactic to protect MIA from the Scientology smear and that gaining friends from the Catholic church is politically advantageous given that church’s political power.

    However, that is very different from intellectually believing, which seems to be your case, that an association with Scientology is evil but an association with Christianity, Judaism, or Islam is “good” because these are better, honest churches. Really? Have you checked the quality of life of people living under Sharia law? What about Judaism that condones the barbaric practice of circumcision and makes its adherents be obsessed with the land of Israel even though most American Jewish immediate ancestors have not lived in Israel? This obsession with Israel, which is also found in Christian churches, costs the United States billions of dollars in aid to Israel each year and political capital in the international arena. I don’t see anybody repudiating Muslim or Jewish critics of psychiatry.

    I find it disingenuous or simply dishonest to think that the “Scientology smear” is a valid intellectual reason to not associate oneself with certain critics of psychiatry.

  • Excuse me, but what is that Szasz said there that you find reprehensible? He made it very clear, as it has made in other occasions, that

    – He co-founded CCHR not because he is a Scientologist -for your info he is an atheist who received the Humanist of the Year Award in 1973, – but because CCHR is one of the few organizations there is in the US today that will spend money in lawyers to get you out of a psych ward if you are unlucky to be kidnapped by psychiatry. Fortunately now there is more awareness than in 1991 but back then, when Scientology was smeared by the APA, they were about the only option in town if you needed help to fight institutional psychiatry.

    – As he correctly said, he had been writing about the things he is famous for now for many years before co founding CCHR. Also, that he was given the AHA Humanist of the Year award 4 years after co-founding CCHR shows that the “Scientology smear” wasn’t as effective back then as it is now that big pharma has joined forces with the APA to defend their 80 billion dollar a year psychotropic drug market.

    – Finally, in the US, kidnapping somebody, except when that kidnapping is done by a psychiatrist in a mental hospital, is illegal. Scientology has survived an infinite number of lawsuits and accusations that it is a coercive cult. Either Scientology has infiltrated the criminal justice system at all levels (police, DA offices and judiciary nationwide) , which is a pretty strong accusation for a religion that has few members, or, most likely, many of the accusations against Scientology are unfounded, based on bigotry.

    With this said, I stress that I am not a Scientologist, but I find this innuendo that unless one considers any association with Scientology to be evil that one is also evil quite unfair and intellectually dishonest, especially since nobody asks the same from associations with say, the Catholic Church, that has way more documented cases of abuse than Scientology has in the US or worldwide. Here come a few figures from some random internet search:

    – “60 Percent of Chicago’s Parishes Had Pedophile Priests” “About 4 percent of U.S. priests ministering from 1950 to 2002 were accused of sex abuse with a minor, according to the first comprehensive national study of the issue.” “Sex-abuse related costs totaled $573 million, with $219 million covered by insurance companies, said the study done by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.”

    The scale of the documented sexual abuses in the Catholic Church and the documented cover ups by the same church in the US pale in comparison to anything that Scientology has been accused of, let alone found guilty of.

    That people continue to insist on “Scientology is toxic but attending a Vatican conference is fine” only shows that prejudice and bigotry trump intellectual rigor and honesty for many in MIA.

    Thomas Szsasz is an intellectual giant. I wish that I have at 92 the intellectual abilities and rigor he displays in that video.

  • E. Silly,

    I am replying here. Your continuous reference to the “Scientology smear” is getting old and tired. Just more proof of how successful the APA and big pharma have been in their campaign to link all criticism to psychiatry with Scientology.

    The President of the United States, was associated, at different points of his life, with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright -who baptized of of his daughters and who said pretty awful things about the United States-, controversial scholar Rashid Khalidi and felon Tony Rezko . If none of these associations was a disqualifier for people to listen to “hope and change”, I think that Thomas Szasz’s role as co founder and supporter of CCHR should not be a disqualifier of his message critic with psychiatry.

    I repeat that after reading a lot of criticism to psychiatry from different angles and perspectives, I believe that Thomas Szasz is the intellectual giant of our movement. Chances are high that any argument presented as “new” against psychiatry, intellectually speaking not about errors in drug trials, has already been made by Thomas Szasz himself in his prolific writings and conferences.

  • First of all, congratulations on your decision of pursuing a doctorate! It’s wonderful to see people willing to learn more (this links to one of my previous comments that I am certainly not anti intellectual).

    While there is a lot I disagree with in your approach -which is obvious from my previous comments-, there is one thing I agree with you 100% : the need to rehabilitate Thomas Szasz’s image. I have said several times that it is a pity that he didn’t get to live an extra year during which Insel and the APA made theirs Szasz’s main fundamental criticism to psychiatry: what ever is that psychiatry sells, it is certainly not science, thus the notion of the “Myth of Mental Illness” . Willingly or unwillingly, the controversy surrounding DSM-5 helped assure his legacy for decades to come. MIA even published an article that addressed this topic here

    Personally, I have been surprised many times when in trying to come up with my own ideas about why psychiatry is a scam, I stumbled on ideas previously proposed by Thomas Szasz. So after a few of these, I stopped wasting my time, and I did a lot of Szasz reading and, more importantly, Szasz video watching. This is one of his last lectures . Whoever hears him criticize psychiatry so precisely cannot avoid to admire the clarity of his mind and to conclude he was THE INTELLECTUAL GIANT in the psychiatric survivor movement.

  • For the sake of completeness, here is perhaps the most famous of those lawsuits that involved judicial corruption helping Elli Lilly

    “An internal document purportedly from Eli Lilly and Co. made public Monday appears to show that the drug maker had data more than 15 years ago showing that patients on its antidepressant Prozac were far more likely to attempt suicide and show hostility than were patients on other antidepressants and that the company attempted to minimize public awareness of the side effects.

    The document was provided to CNN by the office of Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-New York, who has called for tightening FDA regulations on drug safety.”

    “The journal said the documents disappeared in 1994, during the case of Joseph Wesbecker, a printing press operator who had killed eight people at his Louisville, Kentucky, workplace five years before, while taking fluoxetine. He then shot and killed himself.

    Each of the four pages of the paper obtained by CNN is stamped “Confidential” and “Fentress,” the name of one of Wesbecker’s victims.

    In a civil suit against Eli Lilly, victims’ relatives contended the company had long known about the side effects of fluoxetine, including its alleged role in increasing a user’s propensity to violence.

    Lilly initially won the case, but was later forced to admit that it had made a secret settlement with the plaintiffs during the trial, which meant that the verdict was invalid, the journal said.”

    So yeah, I think that the continuous use of the Scientology smear shows how successful the APA and big pharma were distracting the public to cover up their own corruption.

    God bless CCHR for being the lonely voice supporting people who had the courage to confront the corrupt APA/big pharma machine.

  • E Silly,

    In case you care, here is the 1991 Time Magazine article referred to by Steve above . Look at what kind of destructive behavior Time Magazine accused CCHR of,

    “The disingenuously named Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a Scientology group at war with psychiatry, its primary competitor. The commission typically issues reports aimed at discrediting particular psychiatrists and the field in general. The CCHR is also behind an all-out war against Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac, the nation’s top-selling antidepression drug. Despite scant evidence, the group’s members — who call themselves “psychbusters” — claim that Prozac drives people to murder or suicide. Through mass mailings, appearances on talk shows and heavy lobbying, CCHR has hurt drug sales and helped spark dozens of lawsuits against Lilly.”

    I’d say that CCHR was 20 years ahead of everybody else in the survivor movement at the time!!!

  • Small clarification :).

    I am not by any means anti academics, anti intellectual or anti degrees. In fact, I am very proud of my intellect, my education and “degrees” and how far they have allowed me to go .

    My point is better summarized by a quote attributed to the late William F. Buckley, Jr. . While I highly value all the above, and their contribution to human progress, I also believe very strongly that

    “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

    While this position of mine might seem contradictory or cognitive dissonant I suggest that on the contrary, this position represents a deep understanding of human nature of the kind the Founding Fathers had, which James Madison beautifully described in Federalist Paper 10 .

    Those who idolize academics, doctors, scientists, [put here your favorite profession that requires both training and intellectual ability] seem to believe that these people are immune to what is described in Federalist Paper 10. Up until I went to grad school, I might have been as guilty as the next person of believing that. But one of the positive insights -out of many- that I got out of grad school was precise empirical evidence that these people are no less (and no more) ethical than people who live outside the Ivory Tower. And it wasn’t because of lack of evidence prior to me going to grad school, it is more that my own pride prevented me from seeing it. Take for instance so called “white collar crime”, which, by definition, is committed by these highly trained/high intellect individuals. In fact, most abuses denounced about psychiatry here belong to the category of “white collar crime”. At the same time, not every “white collar” worker is a criminal just as not every “blue collar” worker is a criminal.

    So by all means, I encourage people to get as educated as possible attending the best schools they can. But at the same time, I say, people do not forget that there is no way to cure people of “evil intent” or “being unethical”, which is a dimension of human nature completely unrelated to all other human traits.

  • E Silly,

    I did know that Scientology publicly confronted Prozac like 10 years before the FDA issued its now known warnings. This is one of the reasons I have so much respect for CCHR. They confronted (and confront) institutional psychiatry in times/places when/where nobody else does. For the people helped by them, this goes beyond an academic exercise about political allies.

    This is what CCHR was doing circa 1991 . It took the FDA 13 more years to mandate that “black box warnings” on suicide risk be added to antidepressants.

    Again, I am not a Scientologist or a CCHR member, but I salute the work CCHR does confronting institutional psychiatry.

  • This is just an argument about semantics. What you describe is what I call “shaming” and that’s how I have “shamed” people who have offered me in the past things like marijuana: “it works for you great, but you should be aware of all these bad things that happen to long term users of drug X, and please do not use the argument ‘it works for so many of us’ to justify yourself using it or asking me that I bless your using of it; I respect it, but I don’t bless it”. This is what many like me call “shaming”.

    Extreme shaming would be to say, have a website with the names of all people who take psychotropic drugs, but this is not what has been done with tobacco or it is done with people who are addicted to alcohol. What people do is to make it known what are the consequences of alcoholism or tobacco addiction. And then say “who in his/her right mind would voluntarily be an alcoholic or a tobacco addict”. That second part, which is certainly done with alcohol and tobacco, is, from my point of view “shaming” in the sense that nobody goes around being proud of being an alcoholic or tobacco addict. While I am not old enough to remember a time in which alcoholism was presented as “cool” by the media, I am old enough to remember times in which the pop culture presented tobacco addiction, ie the habit of smoking, as “cool”. Not anymore.

  • Kermit,

    I have a bit of a problem with this line of reasoning,

    “I think that a lot of well-intentioned people were given very bad information, and put in situations in which they could not get better information, and they did not do differently than they were told, believing it was the right thing. Some of them, it could be argued, should have known better or could have chosen differently”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but people like Thomas Szasz or Peter Breggin were given exactly the say info and yet they had no problem calling a spade a spade. While I understand the value of gaining “coverts” -not only the “value” but the “necessity” of it if meaningful change is to happen- the people who pushed the drugs and “chemical imbalances” should readily admit that they were wrong, personally. Not because of a battle of egos but because up until these people understand that concluding what they did based on the info they had was fundamentally proof of their own failings as human beings, they will be prone to make the same mistakes in the future.

    The parallel can be made with the way the Catholic Church handled its cases of sexual abuse

    “Some bishops and psychiatrists have asserted that the prevailing psychology of the times suggested that people could be cured of such behavior through counseling”

    The notion that the bishops of the 60s, 70s, 80s did the best they could with the information they had at the time is still used by the Catholic hierarchy of today to avoid confronting the problem that said church covered up very evil people.

    I am still hoping that somebody like Allen Frances has the guts to write an op-ed repudiating psychiatry and the model on which it is based (self appointed “mind guardians” voting disorders into a manual than then is used as a bible of sorts). Until that happens, I am not personally moved by what they did coming up against DSM-5. I am happy that they did it, since they gave us a lot of ammunition to confront psychiatry, but I see very little to admire in somebody who from from comfort of his retirement goes attacking psychiatry for minutiae. I see the way Bernard Carroll and Mickey Nardo allegedly criticize psychiatry equally problematic.

    If these three want to really redeem themselves, they should write an open letter asking that psychiatry be disbanded.

  • To back my point on tobacco,

    “Smoking rates in the United States have dropped by half from 1965 to 2006 falling from 42% to 20.8% of adults.[13] As of 2014, the current number of American smokers is 18.1% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[14]”

    That’s something that could not have been achieved by holding the big tobacco companies accountable alone. The general “shaming” of the practice of smoking was equally important.

    The same technique should be applied to both supply and demand in the case of psychotropic drugs:

    – Adults should be free to take as many psychotropic drugs as they want, including those that are now illegal.

    – Society at large should same those who pride themselves of being active consumers of psychotropic drugs.

  • Jonah,

    Being the anti authoritarian that I am, the excuse “my doctor told me to do this” doesn’t fly with me. Sorry, I have no respect for “MD degrees”, or any other academic degrees for that matter, as sources of moral authority. Laura Delano has a very enlightening post today, that links to another very enlightening one, on the issue of what academics is really like. Both should be required reading for anybody who blindly believes in the mantra “trust your doctor”. While I got a lot professionally from my years in grad school at one of those top American universities, I also got a healthy disregard for the notion that being very bright intellectually equates being very ethical. It might or might not.

    I give you that the situation of foster children and military veterans is different. I would add to this group seniors in nursing homes who are given neuroleptics to “be calmed down”. While these three groups of people were not “technically” forced on drugs, they didn’t have a choice to say no to the drugs either. A member of the armed forces who would try to say “no” to an army psychiatrist would be court martialed. So to all these, and others who would find themselves in “I had no choice” type of situations, I would offer them support to come out of the drugs if that’s what they chose to do once they are in a position to say no. In fact, I would fight very hard for their right to say no as well.

    To the rest, which is a sizable majority of consumers of psychotropics, I literally have no compassion whatsoever just as I have no compassion towards tobacco or marijuana smokers. And the reason is simple. I have been a young man myself and I have been tempted by “take these drugs, it is cool” too. I said, no thanks, look at this literature about how damaging drugs, tobacco and alcohol are. If I could say “no” when I was free to say “no”, so does everybody else. I do not believe in the “peer pressure” excuse either. See, I am also quite an individualist.

    My only contact with psychotropic drugs was forced. And one of the excuses that these psychs used to force me on drugs was precisely the “it works for that peer who takes them voluntarily”. Those Stockholm syndrome sufferers are as guilty of the psychs themselves for the very existence of the psychotropic drug market.

    At the same time, I think it is highly hypocritical to ban the sale of cocaine but to say that when cocaine adopts the name Ritalin and is prescribed by a doctor, then it is fine.

  • Again, agreed. Basically, it boils down to the old saying “it takes two to tango”.

    I am in no way excusing big pharma or the PCP/psychiatrists who push the drugs, far from it. But look at tobacco. The big tobacco companies had their share of responsibility but it wasn’t until society decided to shame tobacco consumption that selling tobacco became a taboo topic. People still sell and buy tobacco legally but not at the same rates as when smoking was presented by pop culture as “cool”.

    In capitalism, no sale happens without demand, no matter how strong the supply side is. Save those of us who were forcibly drugged and labeled, most consumption of psychotropic drugs is voluntary.

  • Whatever.

    To give an analogy, it’s like the discussions about slavery. There were those who were anti slavery, and then there were those who said that the best that could accomplished was to “improve the working/living conditions of the slaves”. Similarly, before the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many thought that repealing the Jim Crow laws was impossible and that the best that could be done for blacks was to “improve” the conditions of those who were segregated.

    I am for equal treatment before the law. I see the distractions that Carroll/Frances/Nardo regularly engage in as obstacles to achieving that equality.

    Similarly, I see those who defend “affirmative action for the so called mentally ill” as obstacle for achieving said equality as well.

  • Let me explain.

    No enterprise as pervasive as psychiatry gets as big as psychiatry has through action of the drug pushers alone (ie, big pharma + psychiatrists) . If drugs were consumed only by those who have been forcibly drugged, the market for psychiatrists and drugs would be relatively small.

    So called “proud consumers” are as part of the problem as the drug pushers. In addition these proud users are used to justify psychiatric coercion by the system. One such proud user is a guy who goes by the name of John who administers DJ Jaffe’s FB page. By his own admission, AOT worked wonders for him and he is a fervent supporter of the Murphy bill.

    “Shaming” is the way tobacco/alcohol consumption went from being “cool” to being repudiated. The same should be done with those who take psychotropic drugs.

  • We will have to agree to disasgree. In fact I think Mickey is the worst of them when it comes at playing the distractions game. Most of his blog entries are about Byzantine analyses of studies we know are corrupt. There is only so many ways you can beat a dead horse but he keeps coming up with new. On the few occasions in which he has addressed the core of the matter, the necessity of psychiatry as a profession, he is very clear that he sees it as a noble profession because despite its failings, he agrees with the idea of “MD degree holders know best”.

    He banned me from his website not because I said things that were over the top but for my continuous calls on his hypocrisy as he explains here .

    I despise E Fuller Torrey and the ideas he represents with a passion, however, at least he is a believer in psychiatry as a scientific discipline. Frances/Carroll/Nardo are the worst kind of critics of psychiatry. The defend it not because they are “believers” but because they see psychiatrists as the “wise men” of the modern world who deserve the powers theologians had a few centuries back. I find their paternalism despicable.

  • “Let me repeat that I have compassion for people who choose psychotropic drugs—illegal or psychiatric ones— to take the edge off to help them function”

    I have not. It’s again the double standard that psychiatry uses so effectively to its advantage. So our society shames “addicts” to the point having created rehab centers and having made “substance abuse treatment” one of the 10 fundamental benefits of Obamacare but when said addiction is to psychotropic drugs prescribed by a “doctor”, then it is fine? Total BS.

    I have said in several places that the “shaming of proud users of psychiatric services” is something that needs to be done if the struggle against organized psychiatry is to be successful. That is perfectly compatible with legalizing drugs and defending people’s right to take the drugs. When it comes to alcohol and tobacco consumption, this “shaming” has been very effective. Adults are still free to get drunk and to become nicotine addicts, but society does not condone “proud drunks” or “proud nicotine addicts”. This was not always the case as evidenced by the movies up to 40 years ago that showed smoking in a very positive light. Now it is illegal to advertise tobacco and it is illegal to smoke in public places in many states. Imagine if the advertising of psychotropic drugs were to be made illegal!

    So yes, no compassion whatsoever for those who proudly advertise their consumption of psychotropic drugs. They are part of the problem.

  • It is not hard to find information about the work psychiatry did for the Nazis and its role as enabler of the Holocaust,

    Note that Wikipedia editors aggressively monitor for undue Scientology editing, so the above is pretty accurate,

    “The programme officially ran from September 1939[5][6] to August 1941 during which 70,273 people were killed at various extermination centres located at psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria”

    Bob Whitaker has also written extensively about how eugenic thinking pervades today’s psychiatry. Here is a talk on the matter he gave 2 years ago . The whole notion of “disorder” is a direct descendent of the eugenic concept of “unfit”.

    I haven’t watched the documentary mentioned above so I cannot speak to its accuracy, but I have watched a few times “The Marketing of Madness” . I have also researched the references it contains. I can tell it is the definitive documentary on psychotropic drugging: very accurate and very prophetic. Prophetic in the sense that it was produced in 2010 but many of the issues it deals with only made it to the mainstream 2 years later, like the Irving Kirsch study, the Study 329 that was mentioned in the GSK 3 billion dollar settlement, the DSM-5 controversy, etc.

    Maybe Scientology is a bit bombastic targeting the psychs, but to deny that psychiatry, as a discipline, is driven fundamentally by the desire of its institutional backers (the APA but also the politicians who back “mental health” programs or “denying civil rights to the mentally ill”) of having a legally sanctioned system of social control that can be presented as “acceptable” to the public outside the criminal justice system is to live in fantasy land.

    Of course, when you mix social control and money (ie, big pharma money), economic corruption will happen, but the biggest corruption psychiatry perpetrates everyday, even when there is no economic corruption, is intellectual.

    Bernard Carroll’s letter asking for the retraction of the article is a good example of said corruption. I just cannot imagine for the life of me writing a letter like that but on the other hand continuing to claim that psychiatry is wonderful because NNT is a good way to measure the efficacy of its interventions. The criminal justice system has a great NNT value: most people have never been incarcerated, so the NNT for these people is 0. As a mechanism to prevent crime, the criminal justice system works wonders. So sure, if involuntary commitment and forced drugging were to be in the US as easy as it is in countries like Norway, most people would go out of their ways to show that “psychiatry works”, just as in most theocracies, people go out of their ways to show their religious values. Geez, Ahmadinejad went as far as saying that there were no homosexuals in Iran. And probably if the government of Iran were to conduct a public survey about the prevalence of homosexuality, the result of said survey would back what he said. Is threat of punishment by death a good “treatment” of homosexuality? Give me a break.

    Psychiatry is an intellectually corrupt discipline. Arguing the issues on psychiatry’s terms/distractions instead of attacking psychiatry’s lack of scientific basis only serves to validate psychiatry’s role in society.

  • Don’t hold your breath.

    Bernard Carroll belongs to the group of psychiatrists like Mickey Nardo and Allen Frances who “on the surface” seem to care about holding psychiatry accountable for its excesses.

    When you dig deeper, however, they are just as guilty of promoting pseudoscience and quackery to pass for “genuine science”.

    I had an online debate with Bernard Carroll here . People are welcome to read the debate in its entirety to have the full context but, before bailing out he made statements like this,

    “To your Question 1: the issue of a disease model is a red
    herring. The foundations of pragmatic psychiatry are descriptive nosology, diagnosis, and therapeutics. You want Popperian falsifiability? Fine, just look at all the negative clinical trials of candidate psychotropic drugs. They are legion. You tell us all areas of medicine except psychiatry have achieved the precision of air travel or of rockets to Pluto? Dream on. When was the last
    time you checked on standards for blood pressure control or fasting plasma glucose or Number Needed to Treat for mammography screening? Hint: it’s over 2000.”

    “On your earlier point 2, please don’t play rhetorical games and please don’t be disingenuous. You must know perfectly well that my examples were not single case anecdotes. I expected better from you as a serious interlocutor. And please quit the hand waving about no benefit from psychiatric interventions. Remember lithium? Remember benzodiazepines for catatonia? Remember the original antidepressant drugs? They had a NNT of 3 compared to 10 for the commercially favored newer agents.”

    The “NNT” metric he keeps mentioned is this .

    The reason I think Bernard Carroll is being a hypocrite in his letter to the BMJ is because the main reason the study by Christine Lu et al was criticized is that it used dubious proxy metrics to measure suicide attempts, as well as other numerous methodological failings.

    Bernard Carroll, in the debate above said “the issue of a disease model is a red
    herring. The foundations of pragmatic psychiatry are descriptive nosology, diagnosis, and therapeutics” and that metrics like NNT -which is also a proxy metric on the efficacy of a so called “therapy” – are a good measure of how good psychiatry is.

    Bernard Carroll’s hypocrisy boils down to this: he is fine with using proxy metrics to measure the efficacy of a psychiatric intervention or things like the impact of black box warnings as long as he likes them but it is not OK when he disapproves of them. Bernard Carroll doesn’t shy away from admitting that psychiatry doesn’t have a scientifically valid disease model, so, like Mickey Nardo or Allen Frances, he settles for arguing about distractions. Scientology anyone???

  • I speak for myself only. The movement is, with varying degrees, anti psychiatry even if some do not like the word, including ironically Thomas Szasz. That’s where the agreement ends.

    I am pro capitalism, pro free markets and anti government (or pro small government if you will).

    And please spare me from a big pharma this, big pharma that. Big pharma is the prime example of crony capitalism/corporate welfare in which big government and big pharma collude to limit people’s individual freedom and market freedom. The largest, by far, customers of big pharma are, including in the US, government programs, agencies and hospitals. Do you think that psychiatry would have the power it does without its government sanctioned prerogative to impose itself onto innocent people? Give me a break!

  • This is why I say Scientology has to put up with the type of bigotry no other religion is subjected to:

    – All three Abrahamic religions “brainwash” children with the traumatic notion of “do this or you’ll burn in hell for eternity”.

    – Hinduism brainwashes people with the notion of the caste system that divides human.

    – Judaism is the ultimate “we the chosen people” vs the rest of the world.

    – Islam’s official teaching on women and homosexuality violates the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reason given by countries like Iran not to sign it.

    All these look absurd to the secular or atheist mind, but it is Scientology that gets attacked most viciously.

    I am a Christian with no affiliation with Scientology or CCHR but I recognize bigotry when I see it. If you don’t like Scientology’s teachings, propose an alternative. The answer to a religion you do not like is the same as for speech you do not like: not censorship but more alternatives.

  • As long as psychiatrists have the legal power to impose their so called “treatments” onto people against their will, consent is not really “consent”.

    If you were to read the notes the psychiatrist who committed me wrote, you’ll find things like “he was upset to have been committed, then he started to collaborate one day later”. Really, did I really have a choice “not to collaborate” or “not to take drugs”? Please!

    I regularly also tell the story of a young woman who shared her commitment experience with me. In her case she was there “allegedly” on a voluntary basis. When you arrived to the facility you were giving a nice looking pamphlet that listed your “rights”. Among them there was the right to be released if you were there on a “voluntary basis”. It wasn’t an option for me because I was there on an involuntary basis, but this young woman tried to be released. She was restrained in a bed for as long as it took the nursing staff to ask for an involuntary commitment order.

    True consent is what happens with those populations at high risk of HIV infection. A couple of months ago the CDC started a campaign to put as many of these people as possible on Truvada. None of these people can be forced to be put on Truvada so when they say, “thanks but no thanks” it truly means NO. It doesn’t meant “no, but it might be the case that you, infectious disease specialists think it is better for me to be on Truvada and you might want to force me on the drug so I might as well agree to make it look like that I am taking Truvada voluntarily”.

    This is the big difference. So, as long as coercive psychiatry is legal, even if it is legal in the “petty circumstance” that every psychiatrist who blogs here thinks that should be legal, the imbalance of power is there and will be abused.

    The abolition of all forms of coercive psychiatry in all circumstances is the only thing that will bring our movement true freedom, even for those who believe that they are fine with ECT or lobotomy.

  • Here is another constituency that could be won for the psychiatric survivors movement, one that would give us a lot of political clout since because veterans tend to be conservative, what they say has a lot of influence in Republican circles and could counteract the propaganda by Tim Murphy and the like.

  • What I am about to say is controversial, but I think that the way the gay rights movement managed to get homosexuality off the DSM and even get some states, and the federal government, to recognize gay marriage provides the actual blue print for the best way to accomplish long lasting change.

    To those who say that it’s impossible, it begs reminding them where the gay rights movement started. This is where the gay rights movement was 50 years ago . The language used against homosexuals in the video should resonate with the rest of us.

    Now I have been harsh in previous post with gay rights activists who use the exclusion of homosexuality of the DSM as a way to affirm normality, and that cannot be discounted, but wouldn’t it be great that all current labels in the DSM got the homosexuality treatment so that the DSM would not contain any label whatsoever? Meaning, wouldn’t it be a statement of “true equality” that no behavior that deviates from whatever is the social norm of the day and that it is not deemed criminal be declared “pathological” by a group of self appointed, unaccountable mind guardians?

    In that regard, I think that we need to,

    – Be proud of who we are as a people. Because homosexuality has been controversial for centuries, there is a lot of information about possible genetic components in homosexuality (from twin studies) and fMRI correlates with homosexual tendencies. Aren’t both those things used by the believers in psychiatry to “show” that the invented DSM labels are real? If a genetic component and fMRI correlates are not enough to declare homosexuality a “disease” it shouldn’t be the case for any of the other DSM labels.

    – Shame those who use “mental health services”. I am not going as far as the gay rights movement is with demanding that conversion therapy is banned, because people who use “mental health services” should be free to use them, but I am talking about those who are proud “users”. To clarify, by “mental health services” I mean those provided by “the system”: licensed psychiatrists, licensed psychologists, licensed social workers, etc. I see nothing to be shamed in people seeking help of counselors, friends, clerics, etc. I am talking about “official, government sponsored, mental health”. Those who use these services are legitimizing “the system” in the same way those who attend religious services legitimate the role of religion. Unlike religion, “mental health” can be imposed by government. We must make emphasis that “using government sponsored mental health services” legitimizes the psychiatric tyranny.

    – Thinking about “coming out” parties, Mad Pride demonstrations, etc.

    The gay rights movement shows that it will not be easy and that there will be setbacks, but it also shows that it can be done.

  • Interesting observation oldhead.

    And in fact, I heard a similar sentiment from another survivor when I explained the measures that I take to hide my “psychiatric past”. I was told that I lived my life as if I was a wanted criminal :).

    While the two are not exactly the same, I think that as first order approximation to start thinking of psychiatrists, psychologists and in general “mental health workers” as part of law enforcement is a very good mental abstraction that everybody understands:

    – Their job is to enforce the behavioral normality that emanates from the DSM, just as law enforcement’s job is to enforce our criminal laws.

    – There might be people who know nice psychiatrists, but again, there are also people who know nice cops.

    – As as it happens with law enforcement, “anything you say to a psychiatrist might be used against you”, so be careful with what you say when you talk to a psychiatrist.

    – Unlike cops, whose power to detain you when you are suspected of a crime is limited in time, psychiatrists, in collusion with the mental health courts, can hold you for as long as they want, in many cases even years.

    – In addition, this mental abstraction feeds my theme of psychiatry as a parallel system of social control outside the criminal justice system.

    I am all for it!

  • I agree with pretty much everything that Rob Wipond says in the article. In the last couple of days, I got into a heated exchange with Andrew Yoder here on the role of psychiatry/psychology/social workers in modern Western societies.

    My contention was, and I stand by it, that the main role of these disciplines is, primarily, to exercise social control, replacing older institutions of social control such as churches. This article is just one example of how these disciplines operate in collusion with government to take us closer to a “Minority Report” type of society. I do not know the legal framework operating in Canada, but I am assuming that they are targeting minors because government always have it easier to justify interventions “for the good of the children”. In the US, we have the recent example of Justina Pelleter reflecting a similar attitude by the institutions of social control in Massachusetts.

    The matter of data mining of medical records raised here is also problematic. Besides the ways legally authorized for sharing -which I am assuming are more limited in the US- there is the fact that the healthcare industry doesn’t have a particularly good culture of protecting the privacy of patient data. Most American healthcare providers are required to report to the US government breaches of patient data that affect 500 people or more. Here is the list of said breaches,

    Note that this doesn’t include breaches that affect less than 500 people. I think that the way these records are managed represent a time ticking bomb. It is only a matter of time before some disgruntled employee or contractor does to the healthcare exchanges what Snowden did to the NSA.

    So the question is, what can you do about it? The answer is a technique known as . If you are still one of those people who sees value in the psychiatric/psychological quackery, at least make sure that your mental health records are operated by a provider different from that from which you get the rest of your healthcare. If you have the means, you might as well avoid insurance companies altogether and go to a private provider that is not mandated by HIPAA to keep electronic records. It is more expensive, put the privacy you get in exchange is worth it.

    Also, at least in the US, HIPAA covered entities are required by law to let you opt out of health information exchanges while at the same time, they can have you “opt in” by default. I have encountered providers clueless about these matters, but federal law and regulations are very clear , question “Can a covered entity use existing aspects of the HIPAA Privacy Rule to give individuals the right to Opt-In or Opt-Out of electronic health information exchange? ”

    So write a letter to your healthcare providers asking them to opt you out from whatever health exchange information they are using.

    These steps will not make eliminate every breach of privacy but will make them more difficult. Also, by writing a letter to your providers denying them the right to share your information with other providers, you are effectively rising their liability in case your data ends up in the wrong hands because of their negligence.

  • Be warned, what I am about to say is controversial, but first, something that I do not think should raise controversy around here: NOBODY SHOULD BE FORCED ON RISPERDAL regardless of any other consideration. No qualifier, period.

    Risperdal is the first neuroleptic I was put on to so called “augment” the effect of SSRI Lexapro when I was locked up for OCD. I got akathisia from it very quickly and my shrink moved me to Zyprexa, which gave me all sorts of other problems.

    Now to the controversial part. I think that the problem is with the existence of the insanity defense. It should be abolished.

    I don’t know the particulars of this case -whether the insanity defense was part of a plea deal or it was forced on the victim of the forced Risperdal- but over and over again people forget that one is always better treated as a regular criminal defendant than as somebody deemed “crazy” by the courts.

    Writer Jon Ronson explains in this talk the case of somebody he identifies as “Tony” . The story begins around 5:00. Incidentally, Jon Ronson got to meet Tony through CCHR UK. You are welcome to listen to the whole story, which is told in a very entertaining way although the issue is no laughing matter. Basically, “Tony” had been charged with the US equivalent of “manslaughter”. To avoid jail, he decided to fake “madness” only to end up involuntarily committed in the UK’s most notorious mental institution for criminal defendants. What would have been a 5-7 year sentence ended up being a 12 years involuntarily committed. He only got out after a lengthy appeal process. What made his case even more strange, is that the psychiatrists who committed him, ended up admitting that he had faked madness to avoid prison but, in a Rosenhan like fashion, they couldn’t let go of considering Tony insane so he remained committed under the excuse that he was a psychopath as evidenced by the fact that he had faked madness to avoid prison. You cannot make this stuff up!

    So, I am with Szasz: the insanity defense should be abolished. Even those who are “out of their minds” when they commit a crime would benefit as well from a regime that does not let psychiatrists/psychologists determine who was in his/her “right mind” when he/she committed a crime.

  • Andrew,

    You are just arguing semantics at this point. I hope most people understand by now what I mean when I say that psychiatry/psychology/social work are secular forms of social control. I am also sure that most people by now also understand that I have no problem with people VOLUNTARILY engaging with the social control/therapy tool of their choice and why I reject the idea of banning “conversion therapy”.

    Your position would have more credibility if you were to unequivocally refuse all forms of coercive psychiatry/psychology/social work. Not “all except in my particular petty exception” but ALL. I haven’t met a single psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker that believes this -including the ones who regularly speak critically of psychiatry in MIA. Based on your previous writings, you don’t either, although it might be the case that I misread your statements, so I would appreciate if instead of another rant, you answered stating in crystal clear terms and in a few lines your position on involuntary psychiatry. A simple yes/no is what I expect as an answer.

    They all think of themselves as people who “in some circumstances” would approve a coercive intervention for people who have committed no crimes under the excuse of “helping” the victim of the intervention.

    And that is the problem. To terrorize the general population, psychiatry/psychology/social work do not need to involuntarily commit them all, all they need is a few strategic committals to make an example. That’s probably the reason why Massachusetts refused to let Justina go for more than one year. If they were to admit that what they did there was wrong, it would undermine their coercive powers in the eyes of the public. As if having more than 90 children dead under the watch of Massachusetts DCF had not been damaging enough!

  • I want to elaborate on my second point. The way you have described the job of “social workers” and the rest of it as “helpers sent by government to help the poor” makes precisely my point.

    Religious workers were, for a long time, the “helpers” sent by the Holy Spirit to help other human beings. Their reward was eternal life. The worked in exchange of pretty much nothing material, only room and board.

    Government now negates religion and sends social workers to “help” people. Unlike what happens with religious workers -whose help you can politely refuse-, you cannot refuse the help of a “government sent” social worker who comes comes with a court order that directs him/her to “help you’. Just ask the Pelletiers when they said DCF’s social workers, thanks but now thanks, we want our daughter to be seen by her Tufts mitochondrial specialist.

    The evilness of institutional psychiatry/psychology/social work is there for everybody to see, except by those who don’t want to see it.

  • Andrew,

    You’ll have to forgive me but your answers are too long. I will provide short responses to your two main pints:

    – Why I see CBT as “social control”. CBT is about altering behavior in some way that doesn’t come naturally to you. In my case, CBT was for making me “tolerate” situations that I naturally, because of who I am, do not tolerate when it comes to people who, statistically speaking, are at higher risk of HIV infection. To be more precise, my “therapy” consisted of going to gay districts and places like that to “please” my ex wife. It was a hell of an experience. Not to mention that being “involuntarily committed” in a “hospital” where viruses are in the air is probably one of the most traumatic experiences I have endured in my life. That is social control. Live and let live. No crime, no social control. What business is it of anybody if I don’t want to be anywhere near gay males, IV drug users or prostitutes?

    – With respect of the speech you gave about the “sacrifices” you made to become a social worker. I am sorry, but the issue of helping other human beings is not the prerogative of social workers. Religious workers have been doing it for centuries for much less money than the minimum wage. In fact, I guess that some missionary who works in Africa in harsh conditions could lecture you about how much of an “easy life” you have compared to him/her. Nor I am against people VOLUNTARILY helping other people and VOLUNTARILY accepting help from other people. That is not what institutional psychiatry, psychology or social work are all about. Take the Justina Pelletier case. It was social workers that received the call from Boston Children’s Hospital psychiatrists/psychologists to apply for the custody of Justina. When you have people working for government, their allegiance is with government not with the people they “allegedly” serve. If you are uncomfortable seeing these workers as owing their allegiance to government, sorry to break the news for you. As Jesus said, you cannot have two masters. When you are paid for doing something, your allegiance is first and foremost for he or she who pays you. Not very complicated, really.

  • Andrew,

    I am replying here to your questions above. Brainwashing can be voluntary. I never said otherwise. Wikipedia defines it as,

    “a theoretical indoctrination process which results in “an impairment of autonomy, an inability to think independently, and a disruption of beliefs and affiliations. In this context, brainwashing refers to the involuntary reeducation of basic beliefs and values”[”

    “The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making.”

    Some people might be unhappy with their own thoughts and might be seeking help to be “brainwashed” as to make those thoughts go away. In fact, until the publication of DSM-5, ego dystonic homosexuality was still considered a valid disorder and “conversion therapy” was accepted by many as a valid therapy for those who didn’t like their homosexual thoughts. With the publication of DSM-5, the only “brainwashing” that the APA considers acceptable for people who have homosexual thoughts, regardless of whether they like them, is to make those people happy that they have them!

    To your questions,

    1) Define social control. What does that mean to you?

    A bunch of “self appointed”, unaccountable, “mind guardians” dictating behavioral orthodoxy for the rest of us. As an example you have the two APAs. A different example, which was very popular like 100 years back, is theologians defining “sin”. Theologians still do this, but they do not enjoy the power to impose their definitions of “sin” that the people who define “disorders” do.

    2) How is me talking to someone who asks to talk to me, who comes to talk to me voluntarily, who chooses exactly what they want to talk about, what they want back from me, and whether or not to continue or end as they see fit – how is that an example of “social control” in action?

    Already explained above.

    3) When my counselor saw me for free, without my paying or without the taxpayer or any insurance company or anyone else paying a cent, is that still a form of “social control?”

    I am not against people VOLUNTARILY and WITH THEIR OWN MONEY engaging in the social control of their choice, be it “conversion therapy”, CBT or astrology. My problem is with government saying, outside the criminal justice system, this form of social control is good -and we will steal money through taxes to pay for it- and that one is bad. I am as against banning “conversion therapy” as I am against banning people from consulting astrologists. People should be free to do whatever they want, even if they later regret what they do.

    Of course, I am also against my tax dollars being used to pay for “conversion therapy”, CBT or astrology.

  • The two APAs:

    – The American Psychiatric Association
    – The American Psychological Association

    They are both on the same side when it comes to appropriating the role of defining “normality” as it should be accepted by government, even though they regularly fight with each other for minutiae.

    With respect to ” the gay rights movement is implicitly endorsing a manual that continues to label others because it got what it wanted”, I am being more blunt, the gay rights movement is EXPLICITLY endorsing the DSM since they got what they wanted and they have a tool to take on people who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds: the DSM.

    The gay rights movement is saying “the APAs say we are normal, and unlike your religious stuff, what the APAs say is accepted by government as a legal determination of behavioral normality”.

    I do not single out the gay rights movement as the ONLY group of people that uses “exclusion” of the DSM as proof of normality but they are arguably the most vocal using the DSM this way.

    The role of the DSM as giving certain groups of people claim to “normality” cannot be underestimated because while we hear a lot from those who blame the DSM for labeling people unscientifically, the DSM is also used with the dual purpose of “affirming normality” by many other people.

    My point is, the two APAs should not have a government approved role in the defining normality anymore than churches have. I see all public expenditures in so called “mental health” a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment. This debate “conversion therapy is bad but CBT is good” is the type of debate that the APAs love because it affirms their role in society at large.

  • If you click in my comment history, my first comment explains what happened to me. I did CBT “voluntarily”, in the sense that I wasn’t under a court order when I was doing it here in the US and my former CBT therapist did not object to my decision to stop it. What I am saying is that CBT is, de facto, brainwashing, even if people voluntarily engage in it.

    I am all for the right to choose, but that is not how mental health operates now. In fact, “mental health” is promoted by government while it shouldn’t be.

    You believe in “chemical imbalances”, the role of “trained social workers in your life” and the rest of it? Fine, pay for their services out of your own pocket as people who believe in astrology or homeopathy do.

    What I object to is to the notion of government promoting “mental health services” and forcing me to pay for other people using those services (since “mental health”/”addictions” are one of the ten essential benefits included in Obamacare). This makes to me as much sense are having my healthcare premiums paying for Muslims’ mandatory trip to Mecca.

    I repeat, I do not support the principle of government sponsored “social control” outside the criminal justice system. So this discussion about “conversion therapy bad but CBT good” does nothing but to undermine the psychiatric survivor movement.

  • Bob,

    I respectfully disagree with your analysis. The problem is, as Jonathan says below, where do you stop?

    If I remember it well, when “Anatomy of An Epidemic” came out you you were portrayed by the “intelligentsia” in company with AIDS denialists. In fact, “skeptic” websites like Steven Novella’s or put all who question the scientific validity of psychiatry in company with those who are irrationally “anti science”.

    I understand the politics, but I think that by repudiating MIA bloggers connected with CCHR, the only ones scoring points are those who benefit from mainstream psychiatry current legal status.

    Martin Luther King has been attributed several times the quote “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”. Anybody thinking that by “playing nice” to the APA, meaningful change is going to be accomplished misunderstands this basic fact of human nature.

    As an example, take the case of Justina Pelletier. Boston Globe’s writer Joanna Weiss was surprised that the fight for her freedom had united “Anonymous, Glenn Beck, and Scientologists” as well as a whole lot of other people of very different political and social backgrounds. Guess what, it took 6 months of intense activism since the first news of her case aired, among other places here in Mad In America, but Justina Pelletier was finally freed on the parent’s terms. Each of those constituencies was instrumental in making Boston Children’s Hospital, aka Harvard, capitulate. They would not have done a complete 180 had it not been for the support of all of them.

    As some people have already noticed, if I were to be given the choice of spending the rest of my life in an isolated island with 10 psychiatrists or 10 CCHR members (regardless of their Scientology association), I take the 10 CCHR members anytime.

    Meaningful change will not be achieved by playing nice to the APA. It is one thing to repudiate members of the KKK, quite another to repudiate members of a church that is recognized as such by the United States government.

    You mention the translation of your book to Swedish. Sweden’s neighbor, Norway, considers Scientology a cult. Now, Norway also has one of the highest rates of involuntary commitment in Western Europe,

    “The overall study generated incidence rate for civil commitment based on “involuntary referrals”, “treatment periods” and persons involved were 259, 209 and 186 per 100,000 adults/year, respectively. For patients admitted for involuntary observation only, the mean duration of deprivation of liberty was 8.5 days, compared with 34.3 days for those admitted for long-term detention, representing 37.8% and 86.6% of the total inpatient period, respectively. The submitted records to the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR) were incomplete and had missing information at two of the four hospitals. Moreover, when official civil commitment rates based on the NPR data were computed, almost 30% of all admissions were routinely excluded. Civil commitment in this study was higher than corresponding figures based on registry data. In general, civil commitment rates as reported by the NPR seem to be an underestimate.”

    Which one you prefer, a country that considers Scientology an acceptable religion that also protects the civil rights of those labelled by the APA, or a country like Norway that, while banning Scientology, has involuntarily committed one of every 500 of its citizens. Again, to me it is a no brainer.

  • Also, this notion that endorsing a particular work that a church does means that one endorses the church as a whole, including its failed policies, is a standard that nobody asks from any other church.

    Are those who receive help from Catholic Charities USA, one of the country’s largest charitable organizations, endorsing the Catholic church’s rapists and its policy of covering up the rapists?

    There is a lot of bigotry going around. The bigotry Scientology and CCHR are regularly subjected to is no different from the bigotry survivors of psychiatric abuse are subjected to by the media at large when people with mental illness are portrayed as “dangerous” and people who deserve to have their civil rights abused.

  • Agreed, AA, totally absurd.

    I, for one, would not hesitate to call CCHR if I ever get committed again. It is unlikely, since I was committed under a different standard -and the Tim Murphy bill seems to be going nowhere. In any case, as they say, if you fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me twice, shame on me 🙂 .

    Among the contingency plans that I have in case I was ever committed again, calling my local CCHR chapter is probably the most important. I also have the contact of my state’s agency part of the National Disability Rights Network but when it comes to being highly effective confronting institutionalized psychiatry, CCHR beats them all.

    In fact, while the APA doesn’t fear any of those who limit their activism to “just talking”, they have named CCHR as a declared enemy . So from the APA point of view, making CCHR toxic for other branches of the antipsychiatry/survivor movement is a winner.

  • And something else that I want to add. This op-ed is also unfair for the thousands of people who were helped by CCHR in their struggles against institutionalized psychiatry when nobody else would . There are many such examples, but one that gain relatively prominence is that of Maryanne Godboldo, who, just as the Pelletiers, got her daughter kidnapped to be drugged with Risperdal,

    Both Godboldo and her attorney were given CCHR awards.

    I think that this is an example of institutionalized psychiatry using effectively “divide and conquer”.

  • This is preposterous. So now the survivor movement is falling of the “guilt by association” trap? Really? I am not a Scientologist -I am a Christian and a former atheist. Yet, most of the most educating information on psychiatry out of control I have learned came from CCHR material.

    In particular, I consider their documentary “The Marketing of Madness”

    to be the definitive documentary on out of control psychiatric drugging.

    I spent many hours independently checking each of its claims (since it contains a lot of references to scientific citations and particular people like Biederman, Nemeroff , the critique of Allen Frances to DSM-5 or study 329). What is remarkable about the documentary is that it was produced in 2010, 2-3 years before the DSM-5 controversy exploded.

    I have regularly recommended “The Marketing of Madness” to people who want to learn more about psychiatric out of control and I will continue to do so. To say that this is the same as me endorsing Scientology is preposterous. I copy/paste below a review by an Amazon review that nails it.

    By A. Burwell
    This video is actually a very thorough, detailed view of the world of psychiatry, and in particular psychiatric drugs.

    Yes, it does take a position on the issue, which is that there is a huge industry marketing mental illness which stretches the parameters of “mental illness” to the breaking point to sell psychiatric drugs (and, I might add, for the so-called “treatment-resistant,” direct brain treatments such as electroshock).

    RN points out that much of regular medicine is this way. This is definitely the case, but that is a) a flaw in mainstream medicine; and b) in no way excuses psychiatry from its own excesses, particularly when its leaders trumpet themselves as the “experts” in the field of mental health.

    There are other objections to some of the facts. I see these points in another way. The fact that drugs such as morphine were originally developed for pain does not alter the fact that morphine, an incredibly addictive substance, was also promoted as a solution to mental illness in its day, and led to further (and, it might be argued, worse) addiction. That others beside Freud promoted cocaine does not excuse Freud. Much of the factual objection made by RN covers what was not mentioned — however, this is a film about psychiatry, and I would argue it sticks to its subject.

    Likewise, psychiatric diagnoses, which are often little more than descriptions of symptoms. The documentary shows how psychiatric disorders are literally made up out of thin air by the consensus vote of psychiatrists. Regardless of whether or not other branches of medicine do the same thing, I see this as a pretense of medical authority, which should not be done. It would be interesting to me to see an documentary exposing the lies and deceit of, say, cardiology, but alas, there isn’t one that I know of.

    From what I’ve seen, however, medicine has come a long way in the last two centuries. Amazing advances have saved lives and literally brought people back from the dead.

    Psychiatry, however, has no such track record. In its last 200 years, it has not progressed past the masking of symptoms, and in many cases worsening the prognosis. This is the compelling story shown in The Marketing of Madness.

    RN objects to the people who produced the film — but who cares? They should be congratulated for showing a side of the story not often presented (and rarely presented in the Pharma-dominated mainstream media), and providing the statistics to back it up. Sure, the documentary has a definite, unwavering point of view, but it is a refreshing change from the “other” biased side relentlessly poured out in the media. (And yes, there are interviews with people with alternative points of view to the mainstream medical approach that RN admits is similar to, and in my view, almost as bad as psychiatry)

    The story is told quickly, and is a really fast three-hour watch, cleanly divided up into distinct chapters, so you don’t have to view it all at once.

    What’s really cool is that there are several sections where psychiatrists even admit that their field has no science and is purely guesswork. I mean, if that’s not good documentary material, what is?

  • And to follow up with that. Take for instance the “therapy” I was victimized with: CBT. The goal of all the sessions I attended where to “brainwash” me that my lower level of tolerance for risk of HIV transmission was “irrational” and that there was something wrong with me for not being “cool” with going to gay districts, so called “red districts” or districts with a high concentration of IV drug users. As if the statistics that say that say that 75 % of all new HIV transmissions are due to men who have sex with men, IV drug users or both are a “fantasy”. And please, I hope nobody lectures me with “get educated with the ways HIV is transmitted”. Last time that I checked, nobody sees a problem with people fearing air travel even though the probability of getting killed from a single trip is astronomically low. Different people have different tolerance for difference things and that has to be respected.

    Now, luckily my CBT therapist was the most “sane” of all those so called “mental health” workers I dealt with during my own ordeal, but still why are people fighting for the banning of “conversion therapy” but they are OK with “brainwashing people that fearing HIV transmission more than what the APA considers tolerable is bad”?

    You will not find in me an ally in the notion that the role of the two APAs is good even though from time to time they endorse but stuff (like conversion therapy). My position is that both APAs are evil organizations and there should not be a single of their so called “therapies” that should be paid for with public money.

    Many people see the role of the APAs as somehow the “wise behavioral control by medical experts” against “behavioral control by churches” but isn’t it the case that all behavioral control outside the criminal justice system is wrong, morally speaking? Why should people accept as valid the patterns of behavior that MD degree holders like and not, let’s say, the patterns of behavior accepted as valid by Hollywood stars and celebrities? Boy, that would be fun: you don’t have three extramarital affairs in as many weeks? You are “disordered” :).

    The goal has to be the abolition of the APAs as determining the government accepted patterns of behavior for society at large. We already have the criminal justice system to do social control. There is other legitimate institution, government wise, to do social control, period.

    This issue of banning conversion therapy but saying that the rest of the APA brainwashing is fine undermines the survivor movement.

  • I am not speaking about you Peter, in particular, but about gay rights activists in general.

    I would take them more seriously if they denounced psychiatry as a whole. Instead, what I have encountered over and over again is gay rights activists endorsing,

    – The DSM as a valid decider of behavioral orthodoxy.

    – Using homosexuality’s exclusion of the DSM as a “proof” that homosexuality is “normal”.

    Instead of taking on the APA and psychiatry at large, gay rights activists are using the two APAs in the same way religious people use the Bible, to claim “hey, your “experts” say that homosexuality is fine”.

    The great Thomas Szasz replied to somebody here who asked the question “isn’t it great that homosexuality was excluded from the DSM” ? His answer was along the lines, “sure, but the bad news is that more and more patterns of behavior are now included on it!”

    I will not take the gay rights activists seriously on psychiatric matters until they rally against ALL the so called “therapies” that are still legal nationwide, particularly “forced therapies”. I am not i am not holding my breath though, since the APAs, in a smart move, are using gay rights activists to advance their role as “mind guardians” alternative to churches.

  • Indeed,

    “Non criminal social control” is what psychiatry is all about. This is another of the great insights produced by the great Thomas Szasz. As I have said numerous times, it is really a pity that he didn’t get to live an extra year to see the psychiatric establishment accepting his fierce critiques to psychiatry (from the Insel statement on the lack of validity of the DSM labels to more recently Ron Pies saying that the “chemical imbalance” was a marketing device used by drug companies).

    To this day, still, Szasz remains the preeminent intellectual leader in criticism of psychiatry. Nobody comes comes close in precision and clarity (except perhaps Phil Hickey 🙂 ).

    Society has always had ways to do “non criminal social control”. In the West, churches played that role in previous centuries. Psychiatry was born as an alternative method to accomplish the same job, leaving it in the hands of “medical experts”. For a long time, there was a great deal of intersection between the values of Christian churches and the values of psychiatrists, so what psychiatrists considered as “disordered” mirrored what many Christian churches considered as “sin”. In the 1970s, a split emerged, at least in the American context, when the APA decided to drop homosexuality from its own list of “sins”. 40 years later, the split has deepened so psychiatry has become effectively, the “secular alternative” to the “non criminal social control” promoted by churches. There is even an article in the peer reviewed literature that asks precisely this question “The diagnostic and statistical manual: sacred text for a secular community?”

    If you have ever had the chance to debate the issue of psychiatry with members of the so called “skeptic movement”, which is a loosely connected community of atheists who profess , they strongly defend the psychiatric model. When you confront them they would readily admit that psychiatry does not meet the scientific standards required of other disciplines but they nonetheless defend it vigorously. Once I got somebody to admit to me that he was fine with homosexuality being a “mental illness” in societies that are homophobic, since each society had a right to define what it considered to be “mental illness”! Of course, this is in direct contrast with genuine science: one doesn’t expect the HIV virus to cause AIDS only in Western bodies. Science is about truths that are universal and objectively verifiable through falsifiability.

    Nietzsche already predicted the the removal of religion from society would not result in a society free of oppression, just in a society with a different type of oppression. Now we know how that oppression looks like :).

  • Oldhead,

    We agree on many things, and that is what matters.

    Note that I am not an anarchist, however I am libertarian with respect to the role of government in society. I do not agree 100% with the libertarian agenda -mostly because I am a grown adult and thus I am aware that certain libertarian proposals would take society very close to anarchy-, but I lean libertarian instinctively, namely, what American libertarians say resonates very strongly with my inner me. I have always had very little respect for “authority” in general. By “authority” I do not mean only formal authority, but authority in a very general sense, like “experts” who tell us that we need to blindly listen to them because well, they are “experts”. And of course, I have zero respect for government or those who run it -that would be politicians- since these people are the paradigmatic example of the arrogance of pretending that they know “better” than everybody else how to organize other people’s lives. I accept government as a necessary evil, but I see it as a force of evil that needs to be contained.

    So to me, resistance against coercive psychiatry is a logical consequence of my worldview. We already have the criminal justice system to deal with people who are deemed to violate those patterns of behavior our society deems “criminal” through the democratic process, the notion of “non criminal social control” doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Now, ironically, many in the consumer/survivor movement are progressives. It always struck me as odd to hold at the same time the view that “government is good and the bigger the better” but then that when government says that “for the good of the community, it is better to commit non criminal people and force them into drugs”, these same people object. I do not want to understand why people can think this way, but I hope that we can agree that regardless of where we come from, fighting coercive psychiatry and forced drugging is a noble goal that unites people of very different ideological backgrounds.

  • I take particular issue with,

    “you may hear claims that Laura’s Law is an infringement of civil rights. At the core of our civil rights is our ability to choose to do what we want. When a person is unable to understand the nature and consequences of their decisions because of their illness, that person is fundamentally deprived of the ability to exercise any civil rights… We make a mockery of civil rights when we ignore people with severe mental illness, leaving them on the streets until they do something we characterize as a crime, then we lock them in our overcrowded jails and prisons ”

    Again, going back the case of Truvada in the context of HIV prevention. We know that Truvada helps curb HIV transmission in high risk populations . In fact, we know that more scientifically so than any of the AOT programs do for the so called “mentally ill” because unlike the subjective determinations that plague all the studies in favor oo against AOT, HIV infection can be determined scientifically through very accurate biological tests. So the effect of coercive HIV policies can be very accurately measured aside from the civil rights debate.

    So why is it rational to refuse to use condoms “in the heat of the moment” as well as to refuse to take Truvada -in spite of the science that says that HIV transmission risk increases when none of these two measures are implemented-, but it is not rational to refuse neuroleptic drugs?

    Are we making “mockery of civil rights when we ignore people ” whose life could be saved if they were to be forced to take Truvada? Why do we ” leave them on the streets until they do something” that results in HIV transmission, thus assuring that they will die of a condition that could have been prevented had they been forced on Truvada?

    See, I have a huge problem with this double standard. The notion that there should be a “civil rights standard” for those who can be forced on neuroleptics and another for everybody else (to the HIV/Truvada people, you can add people who could benefit from forced on exercise to prevent heart disease/diabetes, etc).

    If we believe that the equal protection clause of the 14-th amendment applies to all equally, then programs like AOT are a direct violation of said clause. If you are saying that “mental health” is different, then the standard known as should apply to all mandatory “mental health” interventions. But if “strict scrutiny” were to be applied to these interventions, very few of them (probably none of them) would survive.

    In short, the violation of human rights in AOT and involuntary commitment programs is very clear. Having a judge defending the salaries of those who implement these civil rights abuses -since the abolition of coercive psychiatric measures would send many of these judges to the unemployment ranks- doesn’t negate that fact.

  • Thanks for the link. It seem that this concept of “predictive neglect” is what was applied to the Italian woman above too.

    Really scary.

    Well, on the silver lining is that the Justina Pelletier case, which was sort of a “predictive neglect” case since the parents had been accused of Münchausen syndrome by proxy initially, opened the eyes to a lot of people who were not until then very receptive to civil rights issues in the context of so called “mental health”. That one of the most liberal members of the House, Jim McDermott, joined forces with an icon of the right, Michele Bachmann, to propose Justina’s Law shows that the activism surrounding her case had an effect.

    Importantly, note that he NRA has NOT endorsed Tim Murphy’s bill either since as of late, the NRA has understood that “mental health” can be used as a proxy to undermine second amendment rights despite their initial “commit the mentally ill” mantra in the aftermath of Newtown. A local Colorado gun lobby has an even stronger stance on the issue than the NRA .

    Also, the fact that Fred Upton-R, chairman of the committee where the Murphy bill was introduced, decided not to bring the full bill for a vote to the committee , shows that this is an issue in which the standard liberal/conservative divide doesn’t apply. So we have to leverage that.

    I think that while it is definitely good news that the coercive measures of the Murphy bill will likely not even be considered in this congress’ session, we need to remain vigilant and cultivate the new alliances with those concerned with parental and second amendment rights.

  • Why do you think I have been alarmed about the Murphy bill since day one?

    You don’t even need to have a wild imagination to know how things would look like under the Murphy regime because a similar standard exists in most European countries, including the one where I was civilly committed.

    I was involuntarily committed because my refusal to accept that my HIV fears needed to be “treated” was evidence that I needed to “treated” thus it was in my best interests that I be involuntarily committed. I was not civilly committed because of I was “dangerous” but because it was “in my best interests according to the psychiatrist who made the petition”.

    I am not making this up. When I write that anti-psychiatry book about software/hardware, I will also include a copy of the court order that got me committed so that people can decide for themselves :).

    In the meanwhile, here come a couple of data points that show what a Murphy bill world would look like,

    – In the UK, an Italian woman lost a daughter to adoption because she got a panic attach when she was unable to find her passport while she was in the UK temporarily for a training . The Guardian explains

    – In Norway, 1 out of every 500 people has been involuntarily committed “The overall study generated incidence rate for civil commitment based on “involuntary referrals”, “treatment periods” and persons involved were 259, 209 and 186 per 100,000 adults/year, respectively. Moreover, when official civil commitment rates based on the NPR data were computed, almost 30% of all admissions were routinely excluded. Civil commitment in this study was higher than corresponding figures based on registry data.”

    I do believe that Murphy is trying to have the US Supreme Court to revisit the current nationwide standard for civil commitment that requires “dangerousness” with his bill. The reason in the US we are freer of psychiatric oppression is that unlike the SCOTUS, the European Court of Human Rights has consistently sided with psychiatry when it comes to both the validity of their diagnoses as well as the appropriateness of “psychiatric treatment” .

    The good news is that, at least for now, the coercive measures of the Murphy bill seem doomed, but we must remain vigilant,

    “Aides said that last week’s bipartisan gathering was an acknowledgment that neither Murphy nor Barber’s bills alone have sufficient support to pass this year.”

  • My question is the following: research shows that forcing individuals identified as high risk for HIV infection (in the US those would be gay males, IV drug users and prostitutes since these three groups of people account for the the overwhelming majority of new HIV infections) on Truvada would dramatically reduce the number of new HIV transmissions and, over time, the number of deaths due to AIDS as well as expenditures due to healcare expenditures associated with AIDS. We know this because,

    1- Research on the effectiveness of Truvada as an agent that prevents HIV transmission on high risk populations

    2- The Cuban experience that adopted a coercive HIV policy since the early stages of the HIV epidemic . As a result, Cuba is considered a country with low HIV prevalence despite being a well known destination for sexual tourism.

    So, why the double standard? Why are the people the APA labels unscientifically eligible for “forced treatment”, despite its dubious efficacy, while the people who would arguably benefit from forced Truvada are let loose?

    Note that I am NOT defending forced Truvada for these populations. I am highlighting the outrageous double standard that I can only blame on bigotry towards those the APA labels as “mentally ill”.

  • I don’t have a Facebook account. I even closed recently the one that I had to oppose the Murphy bill.

    Other than I didn’t really get the point of sharing private info for others to see (since I am for the most part a very private person), I was always concerned that something like this would happen so I didn’t even do it to be “cool” with my friends.

    I was called “paranoid” and every other epithet of the book for my concerns. Who’s laughing now?

  • In fact, perhaps without realizing it, organized psychiatry -ie the APA- does fit the FBI definition for “hate group”

    “”primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization”

    Now, the US government for legal purposes, such as , accepts what the APA calls “mental illness” as a valid disability.

    Organized psychiatry says that people who exhibit certain patterns of behavior are “disordered” or “pathological”. Each new theory that they come up with to explain their definition of why those people are “disordered” – such as the chemical imbalance- contributes to increased stigma against the so called “mentally ill”.

    How is that not promoting “animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a disability which differs from that of the members of the APA”?

    The only possible defense that I see coming from some APA members is “lack of intent”, meaning, that many of them will excuse themselves that the increased stigma was never their intention, although I cannot say that every member of the APA is innocent of this.

    It is so obvious that the APA is a hate organization that the only rational question is why is that the US government promotes their “hatred” by embracing some of their views, like that those DSM labeled deserve “less civil rights”.

  • Not a dogma, really, rather a recognition that government is in the business of social control since it has the monopoly on “legal force” or “police powers” as some would call it .

    This recognition that government is in the business of social control makes those of my persuasion push for putting limits to government power in order to restrict it to the strict minimum required to have civil society. In my view, there is no role for government regulating so called “mental health” since it is axiomatic that said regulation immediately introduces “good mental health” vs “bad mental health”, which is precisely the line defended by psychiatry, only the APA also defends that said delineation be made by them through the DSM.

    Allen Frances, defends that government should be in charge of writing the DSM -or its equivalent-, not the APA. At the end of the day, it’s the same concept. If you think that a DSM produced by the lobbies that traditionally back big government -such as unions- would be better than the current DSM, I think that it means that it has probably been a long time since your last visit to the DMV or any other service/agency operated by government.

    When two people voluntarily engage in a trade, there is a balance of power. When government is a part in that trade, even if that part is merely an enforcement part, then there is coercion for everybody else involved. To give a clear example: marriage. When government gets involved beyond the role that most people would consider legitimate (like policing that there is no physical/sexual violence), government poisons what should otherwise be a relationship between consenting adults. Imagine government imposing its definition of a “happy marriage” to all married couples. One only needs to look at the legal fictions that people needed to resort to -like the so called “collusive adultery” that was popular in New York state- before the no fault divorce laws were adopted to understand the evilness of giving government power to regulate freedom of association. More recently, the state of Massachusetts kidnapped Justina Pelletier during 16 moths to impose its definition of “mental health” to Justina and her family causing nothing but pain and misery to those at the receiving end of its actions.

    From my point of view, one of the legitimate criticisms of DJ Jaffe to some of those who oppose the now likely defunct Murphy bill is that part of the opposition to said bill came from what he calls the “mental health industry”, in which he includes largely those who see themselves as consumers. I think that the term “mental health industry” is a misnomer, since it is not really an industry -ie, it is not people paying for “mental health” out of their own pockets- but rather people who get money from government (ie, my taxes) for so called “mental health”. He has a point.

    As I have said numerous times, if it were up to me, government would spend exactly zero of my tax dollars on so called “mental health”. The reason I am supporting the alternative to the Murphy bill is not that I think it is a good bill but rather because at least it maintains the status quo with respect to coercive psychiatry (unlike the Murphy bill that would have taken coercion to a completely new level). My dream though is to drive “mental health” public spending to zero.

  • Yes Ron,

    I think that the source of our disagreement is clear. I do not believe in the concept of a “nanny state”. Individual freedom is really a binary concept. And with freedom, comes responsibility.

    When it comes to basic rights, the US constitution and US Supreme Court case law make it very clear that people are assumed to have them by default and thatthey can only be taken away in very narrow circumstances and with due process. People over the age of 18 -for the most part, since in the case of alcohol consumption, the age of consent in most states is 21- are presumed to be competent to make their own decisions. Deeming a person incapacitated is a long process in which the burden of proof lies in the petitioner. It gives the person targeted for incapacitation the benefit of the doubt .

    We could have a legitimate debate that not everybody matures at the same age and that picking 18 seems arbitrary. I believe that that is a very slippery slope. Take the freedom of speech included in the first amendment for instance. I am sure that many people -last year prominently Martin Bashir- would appreciate in retrospect some sort of mouth police that would have prevented them from saying something stupid that ended up costing them their jobs. And yet, the principle of prior restraint has been deemed unconstitutional except in the narrow case of national security issues .

    I apply the same principle to people’s freedom to do “therapy”, “taking drugs”, “trusting astrologers”, etc. You get the idea. Doing otherwise in the case of so called “mental health” validates psychiatry’s reason of being.

    In fact, this is something that Thomas Szasz also warned about, namely, that psychiatry also serves the interests of those who see in psychiatry/psychology an excuse to justify their own misbehavior or that “exclusion from the DSM” would allow certain patterns of behavior to be deemed “normal” officially and they could use said exclusion and the power of institutional psychiatry to promote their “normality”. The most prominent case of this phenomenon is, of course, homosexuality, but there are others.

    My point is simple: no psychiatric label or “therapy” is a legitimate form of objective medicine. As such all of them should be treated as the “belief system” they are. There is plenty of case law about what to do in cases in which people engage in practices derived from their own beliefs. The struggle is to make sure that psychiatry moves in that direction.

    Right now, each of us who has received a DSM label is officially member of a legally prosecuted minority, just as blacks were prior to 1964. This is not a figurative statement. Both federal and state laws are full of provisions that say that those who have been assigned a DSM label have less civil rights than those who don’t. Some people love this “oppressive minority status” in the same way that some people love affirmative action. I don’t. I had a pretty decent life before I was officially declared “subhuman” by a psychiatrist ( a life in which I made mistakes of my own) and I want to go back to that life. I am not going to legitimate the psychiatric quackery by agreeing to the notion that government has a role to play in legalizing forms of behavioral control people voluntarily engage in.

    Finally, as to psychology involving “beliefs about things that can be tested”, that’s an oxymoronic statement. The only thing that has been shown to be “testable” is the personal biases of those who write the DSM and practice psychiatry/psychology. Up until the 1970s, these fields were dominated by WASP people, as a result the DSM was misogynistic and homophobic. Now they are dominated by secular, liberal leaning males, so the DSM of today reflects those values.

    As Paula Caplan said, when there is absolutely no science (which is why psychology’s beliefs cannot be tested because they are not falsifiable), personal bias takes the place of science.

    Again, I see psychiatry and psychology as oppressive fields. This is possibly the main difference between those like me who are Szaszian and those who see themselves as “consumers”. The quacks put all of us in the same bag, but I think that we are seeing our differences here.

    In any case, I think that the important thing is to focus on the things that unite us, like the abolition of coercive psychiatry and forced drugging. However, do not expect me to back proposals to ban “conversion therapy” for adults. In fact, expect me to criticize that people spend energies doing so because I sincerely believe that those proposals undermine the cause of the psychiatric survivor movement.

  • To all,

    A final thought on this matter. I sincerely believe that psychiatry and psychology are belief systems. Not really religions, in the sense that they do not appeal to some supernatural entity that guides their work, but they do believe in a sense of “behavioral orthodoxy” that can be voted in/out into books, be it the DSM or “practitioner guides”.

    My solution to the practices endorsed by psychiatry/psychology is the same as for religious practices:

    – People should be free to engage or not engage in any “therapy”, drugging of their choice, just as they engage in religious practices.

    – Government should not spend a single dime promoting psychology/psychiatry just as it doesn’t spend a single dime promoting religion.

    – Psychiatry/psychology should have no validity whatsoever on legal matters just as no religion has. This is compatible with having your therapist testifying in some capacity just as pastors testify to help their parishioners but the fields of psychiatry/psychology/mental health should have exactly the same validity as individual religions have on these matters: none whatsoever.

    – Government should have no role whatsoever beyond what I say in the next point to regulate these therapies in the same way it doesn’t tell Christians/Muslims/Jews/Buddhists/Mormons, etc how to practice their stuff. Nobody forces you to be an orthodox Muslim, but if you chose to be one, you’ll have to put up with you being unable to eat pork without having government being able to force Islam that they accept that you eat bacon.

    – Finally, even in the case of religions, government does not validate every practice, such as putting the lives of minors in danger by parents who do not believe in blood transfusions (although adults are free not to accept said transfusions) or the fact that polygamy is illegal even though several faiths condone it (Islam, fundamental Mormonism, etc). These restrictions for the most part apply to cases where the life of a minor has been demonstrably put in physical danger (ie, making a minor believe in Allah vs Yahweh has not been shown to be such a danger) or legal situations where there is a societal interest at stake (such as polygamy). Note though that we are increasingly libertarian and the second issue is less and less relevant. A federal judge recently truck down Utah’s prohibition of common law polygamous marriages in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court decision on DOMA. I would not be surprised if at some point in the future is overturned.

    So this is why I find the point raised in this article moot. In fact, I find it damaging to the survivor movement. Giving government a say in the regulation of “mental health therapies” implicitly concedes psychiatry/psychology’s basic point and continues to validate their oppressive role in society.

  • Ron: that’s easy. I am for the abolition of ALL forms of “government sponsored mental health”. ALL as in NO EXCEPTIONS. Since many in the mental health industry make a living out of my tax dollars, that’s an unrealistic short term, so what I am pushing for is that at least government doesn’t pick winners and losers when it comes to “therapies”. Letting government do that validates psychiatry’s basic point that somewhere, somehow “experts” know better than the people what’s good for the people. And as I said, I am not conceding that point. An adult who goes to therapy and has sex with the therapist is as responsible for the outcome as the therapist (assuming there is no coercion that would make the sexual contact qualify for “rape” in a non client/therapist setting).

    While I do not concede either the “blame the client” line that seems to be popular as of late in mainstream psychiatry to attack the survivor movement, I do believe that competent adults who VOLUNTARILY use psychiatric services and who seek government regulation of those services undermine the mission of the survivor movement. Freedom to choose, means that, including making bad choices.

  • We’ll have to agree to disagree :).

    On these issues, I am firmly libertarian. This conviction, in addition to my own experience as survivors, it what drives my anti psychiatry activism, Adults deemed competent should be free to engage/not engage in therapies of their choice and to take/not to take as many psychotropic drugs as they want -in fact, I am also for the legalization of so called “illegal drugs”.

    If we let government dictate which forms of behavioral control for non criminal defendants are acceptable, we are basically conceding psychiatry’s main point, namely, that there is a need for “experts” deciding for society at large which forms of counseling or drugging are “good” and which ones are “bad”. I do not concede that point, so I find the point raised in this article moot.

    I am not talking about minors here, that’s a different issue altogether. I agree that in the case of minors restrictions make sense, just as they exist for consumption of alcohol which is legal for adults.

    Adults have a basic right to do with their lives whatever they please, even making mistakes that they later regret.

  • You ask,

    ” who are genuinely interested in care and support, provided by physicians with responsibility, integrity, and concern for individuality”

    In fact, I am genuinely interested in getting MD degree holders completely out of the picture when it comes to taking care of people’s problems of living. MD degree holders should stick to issues of the body -and that would include the brain as in the case of neurologists with diseases like Alzheimer’s or CJD- , where their training and expertise are directly applicable.

    For “problems of living”, get institutional professionals completely out of the picture, be them MD degree holders, PhD degree holders or experts in theology. If you have problems of living, trust your friends, family or pastor. If you don’t have any friends, family or you are an atheist, too bad. Please do not expect me to pay for you to contemplate your existential problems or to mask them with poisonous psychotropic drugs.

  • I want to thank Mad In America for bringing this case to my attention. It has been a 6 month roller coaster but one that has helped bring attention to the abuses psychiatry perpetrates against innocent people on a regular basis nationwide. Hopefully, in addition to the greater awareness, some legal change will come out of it.

    The only thing regrettable of the affair is that Justina had to endure a 17 month ordeal -time during which she was told that all her physical problems were in “her head”- to have the psychiatric quacks at Boston Children’s Hospital defeated.

  • As much as I am for banning psychiatry from having any legal prerogative whatsoever, I am also against the banning for consenting adults of any kind of “therapies” they voluntarily engage in, be it “conversion therapy”, “astrology therapy” or “homeopathic therapy”.

    Respecting people’s freedom means respecting people’s freedom even when they do something that they see later as a mistake. Otherwise, we are just validating the psychiatric enterprise, namely, the notion that a group of self appointed, unaccountable “mind guardians” know what’s better for people and that these “mind guardians” should have a prerogative to interfere with people’s freedom “in the best interest of the patient”.

    The travesty is not that until 1974 the APA considered homosexuality a “mental illness”. The travesty is that 40 years later, 50% of Americans will be eligible at some point in their lives for a psychiatric label. The battle I am up against is psychiatric labeling. What people voluntarily decide to do to correct or not correct their own behaviors is not my business and, frankly, it should not be government’s business either.

  • Joel,

    I think that there is a key subtlety that you are missing here which I will explain with one of my famous analogies.

    Those like me who believe that psychiatry should be disbanded as a medical specialty ARE NOT saying that there is no value in humans supporting/helping other humans. What we fail to see is why that responsibility of “helping” people with their life issues needs to fall in MD holders whose vision of “helping” , for the most part, is to push drugs into people. And those who do not push drugs do not add anything you cannot get from a non MD trained person.

    The analogy has to do with sex/love. Being against prostitution does not mean that one is against sex or love.

    Similarly, being against an institution, psychiatry, whose primary job is to invent diseases with the goal of imposing behavioral “normality” in society -by force if necessary- and to enforce that “normality” by putting people in drugs, does not mean that I do not believe that people have “problems of living” or that people shouldn’t be able to take as many drugs as they want.

    Just as the solution to having people unable to find love/companion IS NOT to increase the supply of prostitutes, I do not think that the solution for people to having problems of living is to increase the supply of psychiatrists.

    Data from the World Health Organization shows very convincingly that those developing countries that have adopted “metal health policies” along the lines of what Western psychiatry recommends have seen measures like the suicide rate increase. It’s like increasing the supply of prostitutes, I am pretty sure that the STD rate would increase too.

    So, continuing with the analogy. I am sure that not all pimps are bad people and that many people -including prostitutes- are thankful to said pimps. But that is irrelevant as to what the role of prostitution should be in society to deal the the problem of people feeling lonely/needing sex (particularly men).

    Similarly, the discussion of the disbanding of psychiatry is completely orthogonal to the fact that among so many people there surely are some who are nice people.

    And certainly, even if society were to decide that prostitution is fine, it would be an abuse to force medical plans to pay for people’s “sexual well being”. You want to go with a prostitute, you pay out of your own pocket. Now all Obamacare plans need to cover mental health and substance abuse “treatments” which of course is an abuse since that means that people like me who will never see a psychiatry again voluntarily in their entire lives will have to pay higher premiums so that some people can see drug pushing psychiatrists.

    So the abolition of psychiatry as a medical specialty is just that, about psychiatry, not about the issues that psychiatry “allegedly” addresses which more often than not are made worse off through psychiatric interventions.

    The argument that Insel used to ditch the DSM and to rethink psychiatry is precisely that outcomes have worsened with the way psychiatry is practiced currently . I think he is a fool to believe that all major problems of living and thought will be fixed by a better understanding of brain circuitry, but at least he recognizes what you fail to see: in its current form, more psychiatry means worse outcomes.

  • I agree with Frank and Stephen above. I don’t really differentiate between biological psychiatry and non biological psychiatry. Whether psychotropic drugs are used is irrelevant to the ultimate goal of psychiatry of normalizing all human experience according to their made up definitions in the DSM:

    1- If your pattern of behavior falls inside the DSM manual, you are disordered and you can be forced into compliance.

    2- If your pattern of behavior falls outside the DSM manual, wonderful, psychiatry considers you officially “normal” and will help you advance the goal of getting it accepted in society at large.

    I blame as much as those who see the DSM/psychiatry as a tool to do 1- as those who use the DSM/psychiatry to do 2-, such as gay activists.

    There should be no mechanism of social control whatsoever outside the criminal justice system because, by design, that is what the criminal justice system does: behavioral control. As such there are tools in place to prevent abuse. Even then, in the US “being black” was still a crime until 1964 and engaging in homosexual acts between consentin adults was also a crime until 2003 (I think that the criminalization adultery was declared unconstitutional earlier).

    To be sure, those who defend the “biological branch” of psychiatry have powerful economic interests at play, like the money big pharma rakes in from the drugs, and the money psychiatrists get from their big pharma kickbacks. Those who defend the non biological branch have equally powerful interests: the salary of those who provide talk therapy, CBT and the like.

    When it comes to psychiatry in general, it is an oppressive specialty that our society needs to send to the ash heap of history.

  • I have always maintained that the real reason big pharma is abandoning the development of new psychiatric drugs is precisely that their executives fear that they might end up in jail so they are shifting resources to areas of medicine where “illnesses” at least are real, like cancer, cholesterol disorders or infectious diseases.

  • oldhead,

    The “baby”, of course, are the careers and salaries of those who make a living of so called “mental health”, be them psychologists, psychiatrists, drug manufacturers, nurses, social workers, etc. That’s the “baby” they are talking about here, nothing really intellectually profound.

    So what all these people are trying to say is something like, “hey we know we make a living out of a quackery, but we need to make a living out the quackery because that’s what we were trained to do and we cannot be retrained”.

  • While I am aware of the great work KIPP does, I think that talking about them here is a red herring.

    We seem to be on agreement that what psychiatry/psychology do is to define “behavioral orthodoxy” as they see fit (ie, via voting).

    However, you have not made a good case for, other than appealing to theological concepts of “moral/natural law”, why MD degree holders should have a prerogative to impose their understanding of said “moral/natural law” on the rest of society.

    The first amendment of the US constitution (which reflects European enlightenment ideas of the 18th century) was a breakthrough in the development of Western civilization.

    It reflects the notion that however well intentioned, no “mind guardians” or “moral guardians” should have a government prerogative to impose their notions of morality/behavioral orthodoxy other than by fighting for their individual ideas through the legislative process, not because government adopts their views holistically. Now, if you look at let’s day, the controversial Murphy bill,

    “(4) Individual with a serious mental illness.–The term
    “individual with a serious mental illness” means, with
    respect to the disclosure to a caregiver of protected health
    information of an individual, an individual who–
    (A) is 18 years of age or older; and
    (B) has, within one year before the date of the
    disclosure, been evaluated, diagnosed, or treated for a
    mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that–
    (i) is determined by a physician to be of
    sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria
    specified within the Diagnostic and Statistical
    Manual of Mental Disorders; and
    (ii) results in functional impairment of
    the individual that substantially interferes
    with or limits one or more major life
    activities of the individual.”

    How is that different form saying “mentally is is that person who deviates from the morality code dictated by church X”? I take the idea even further. I am pretty sure that if you were to give a group of like minded individuals to produce their own DSM, they would be very different.

    The DSM reflects the values of the APA membership, thus, the DSM they produced in the 1970s is very different from the DSM they produced last year. Still, all these DSMs were produced by people with an MD training.

    We do know what a society guided by a DSM produced by clerics looks like (look at any religious state, be it Iran today or the different European kingdoms of the Middle Ages).

    An interesting thought exercise would be to think what a DSM produced by scientists would look like (most likely unbearable for the majority of the population who do not enjoy science) . Better yet, imagine a DSM produced by celebrities or people who work in the entertainment industry. That would be fun: you don’t have 3 extramarital affairs in as many weeks, you are mentally ill 🙂 !

    My point is that we are at a point in this exchange where you seem to have acknowledged that psychiatry/psychology are in the business of doing “behavioral control” outside the criminal justice system. You haven’t make a case as to why your profession should have such power in direct violation of the establishment clause.

  • I refine/expand it as I see fit :).

    At some point I guess I will write a book about it. Although it will not as ground breaking as Szasz’s “The Myth of Mental Illness” it will update the issue with the software/hardware analogy because today we have the technology that Szasz didn’t have 50 years ago to make the case against psychiatry really strong with particular examples. Computer theory will deal psychiatry the “kiss of death” that will throw it to the “ash heap” of history.

    Gee, I am sure that 100 years from now people will look back at psychiatrists with the same contempt people today look at those who believed in scientific racism in the first half of the XX-th century.

  • James,

    Your response is utterly unsatisfying. What you call “a natural law that has existed for millennium, even as institutions and professional societies have changed dramatically” and “It is based on time-honored universal ethical principles and an equilibrium that our bodies and minds really do seek to sustain.” is what theologians call “the moral law”.

    Now, I have no problem if what you are trying to say is that psychiatry and psychology should be treated as religions (or belief systems if you will since unlike religions psychiatry/psychology appeal to “voting by MD degree holders” not deity to dictate their idea of what “behavioral orthodoxy” should be).

    If we agree on that, then I also hope that you agree with me that all public expenditures in so called “mental health” understood as resources destined by government to help people align themselves with that “behavioral orthodoxy” that is dictated by voting of MD degree holders is indeed a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment of the US constitution. And so is by the way so called “forensic psychiatry/psychology” . The first amendment prevents theological testimony to be presented as material evidence to a case, but for some reason we allow psychiatric/psychological quacks have that undue influence in our system of justice, with dramatic consequences in particular areas like criminal, probate and family law.

    The only source of social control that I consider legitimate is the criminal justice system. Not because I consider it to be perfect but because it is understood that what the criminal justice system does is precisely social control. As such, there are many safeguards in place to prevent abuses like the election of lawmakers, governors and judges. Even then, American laws criminalized “being black” until 1964 and “engaging in homosexual acts” until 2003.

    The notion that a system created by self appointed, unelected and unaccountable “mind guardians” -aka psychiatry/psychology- is not going to produce abuses is preposterous. In fact, the very existence of Mad In America and the psychiatric survivors movement is a testament to the abuses that such system has produced.

  • Realizing that he got is PhD in a quackery doesn’t give him any right to offend the vast majority of MIA readers who are themselves victims of people like him who believe in “behavioral normality as understood by his fellow PhDs in quackery”. And we are victims because many of us were “forced into the quackery” against our will, not because we chose to believe in the DSM garbage. I have nothing against people willingly believing in the DSM quackery; my beef is with the coercive aspect of both “official psychology” and “official psychiatry”.

    A better analogy is a professional astrologer realizing that he has been duped by his fellow astrologers insisting in seeing some truth in the notion that the position of Saturn affects people’s personalities. That’s what Jim Schroeder is doing here with the notion of “mental illness”.

  • You got this right,

    “In the practice of physical medicine, this is not necessarily a common question. No one questions whether a person with a punctured lung, broken leg, diabetes, lung cancer, or influenza is normal. ”

    But you got everything else wrong. I have explained the following numerous times, here it comes again. “Mental illness” is based on a wrong model.

    Let me offer you another analogy from the world of computers and that I have used at several places to attack psychiatry: hardware and software.

    I don’t know what operating system you use for your personal computer, but it is likely to be Windows or MacOS. In either case, one thing is the “software”, ie, the “instructions” that tell the computer what to do, which, with current computers, are executed at the rate of several billions per second, quite another the computer that runs those instructions. By “instructions” I do not mean just the instructions of the CPU but the general concept of a set of deterministic rules that tell the computer what to do in every interaction with users but also with peripherals (your printer, scanner, camera, etc). These “instructions” are a pure abstract concept that are usually expressed in some kind of computing language, but they remain an “idea”. But the instructions themselves and their expression in a given language are different things, just as the idea “I love chocolate” can be expressed in many different languages.

    If I give you a computer and it were possible for you to monitor the billions of switches that run “software” you are not going to “see” any of those abstractions. You will see a computer running the abstractions.

    Now, going back to your post. In computer science, and science in general, the distinction hardware vs software is perfectly understood. Nobody would call a software engineer to fix your broken hard disk, just as nobody would call a hardware engineer to fix a genuine software problem such as . Surely, adding memory to the computer can provide temporary relief, but the right way to fix it is to reprogram the computer.

    In this analogy, psychiatrists are hardware engineers trying to fix software problems. And “mental illness” is to think of “software problems” as if they were problems with the transistors that make up the computer memory instead of the software that needs that memory to be executed.

    When I say this, I am usually told that the analogy is too simplistic, which I concede but, the ways the analogy breaks make the case against psychiatry stronger, not weaker:

    – Computers do not have “free will”, we do. Whether this “free will” is real or an illusion is irrelevant. “Free will” is embedded in our laws and is a basic prerequisite for the establishment of civil society. So, while in theory it is perfectly possible to predict what a given computer will do in every case (the same inputs, no matter how large those inputs are, always result in the same result), in humans, the same inputs not only result in different results for different humans but also the same human at different times. This aspect of human nature is what makes endeavors like economics so unable to make good predictions.

    – In computers what a good “hardware” is can be perfectly defined. It’s equivalent in humans, “a good brain” can also be defined to a certain degree using only biological parameters. To a certain degree, what “good software” is can also be defined with metrics such as “how fast does the operating system boots” or “how many scientific computations does this computer do per second”. I say to a certain degree because there is no possible way to say whether the user interface of Windows is “better looking” than that of MacOS; it’s a matter of taste. In humans, because of our subjectivity, there is no real definition of “good software” (ie, “good mind”) or “normal software” (ie “normal mind”). The right way to deal with “abnormal minds” is the criminal justice system. And even then, at least in constitutional democracies that protect individual rights, there are issues the criminal system cannot criminalize, such as political speech. Again, psychiatry sells the lie that there is such a thing as a “normal mind” that can be “fixed” through biological interventions.

    So those who believe in “mental illness” really believe in “institutional bigotry by MD degree holders”. The DSM is the expression of the current bigotry of the membership of the APA. Until 1974, a majority of WASP doctors thought that homosexuality was a “mental illness”. Now the APA endorses gay marriage. Until 2013, when the DSM-IV was succeed by DSM-5, having undesirable homosexual attractions and thoughts was still a “mental illness”, now said thoughts are reflection of the homosexuality of the person that has them and the “therapy” is to make that person accept his/her sexual orientation.

    There are countless other examples with what constitutes “delusions”, “eating too much”, “eating too little”, being “too sad for too long” after the death of a loved one, etc.

    The DSM is an entertaining reading in the sense that it is an explicit statement of the twisted minds of the APA membership.

  • Very well put. I take the issue even further. The chemical included in Ritalin is like cocaine. Adderall is amphetamine. If you take these without so called “medical supervision” you can be jailed. However our tax dollars not only promote their usage but they subsidize that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, are put on them through medicaid.

    On the issue of drugs I am also civil libertarian but with a caveat. I defend the free circulation of drugs but that also businesses and governments be free to discriminate against those who use them. Freedom of people to get high but also freedom of people NOT to associate with those who get high. Then, hopefully, everybody is happy with the consequences of their own choices.

    One of the most pernicious effects of psychiatry is that it gives people excuses for their misbehavior. That needs to be addressed as well.

  • I wish I could be as understanding as you are Sera. In fact, I think that it is in these occasions when you see a person’s true nature.

    Whatever happened to Torrey that caused him to become the poster child of everything our movement deplores, it means he probably never held those older views sincerely and that he was a twisted man since the very beginning.

    Speaking for myself, being civilly committed made me more understanding with civil liberties issues in general. I care about things that I previously didn’t pay much attention to. After having had my own personal freedom violated so viciously I understood how evil it is to have other people’s civil liberties violated for similarly non justifiable reasons.

    You see the same phenomenon on family members of those who have been civilly committed. John Nash’s wife had a change of heart in 1970 after she realized that all the involuntary treatments had been a mistake and she took him in with assurances that she would never try to commit him again (per this PBS documentary ). That provided Nash the safe environment he needed to calm down and recover. Other family members, like the people I refer to as my “ex family”, use the occasion to double down and throw at you all the accumulated bad feelings they had towards you. A second consequence of my civil commitment was to realize that these people never accepted for who I am in the first place :).

    Maybe psychiatry has made me too cynical, but I do believe that those who believe in forced treatment in the way Torrey does never had any respect for other people’s individual freedom in the first place. Whatever happened to Torrey that caused him to adopt his current views was an “unmasking event” more than anything else.

  • I don’t want to put words in Laura’s mouth but on the matter of the role of so called “mental health” professionals, every liberation movement has had a dream, an ideal to aspire to no matter how implausible it looked like in its beginnings.

    Take the anti slavery movement. There were opponents of slavery ever since America was founded. It took them 90 years to officially ban slave owners and another 100 (1964 Civil Rights Act) to officially ban bigotry because of race in our laws. During all that time, the “dream of a world without slave owners and racist laws” is what kept many activists going.

    Similarly, I have a dream in which there will be no “mind guardians” with the prerogative of imposing their worldview on their fellow citizens.

    What this means is not that there will not be psychiatrists or similarly fraudulent professionals (psychologists, social workers, you name it) but that their legal ability mess up the life of non criminal, unwilling participants with their chicanery will be non existent. So in that regard, rather than dreaming with the unemployment of “mental health professionals” my dream is that the total tax expenditures on so called “mental health” will be exactly zero and that courts abolish the usage of “mental health professionals” testimony in legal proceedings because these “mental health professionals” would be given the same deference as professional astrologers, ie, none whatsoever. People would be able to spend as much of their money as they want on counselors, just as they are able to spend money today on astrologers, but that would be seen as people donating money to churches today.

    That’s my dream.

  • Let’s be positive. The article seems to imply that the coercive provisions of the Murphy bill that we have opposed are dead, in part because the Republican leadership wasn’t happy with moving ahead with a controversial bill. And who made the bill controversial? People like us :-).

    What is clear from this episode is that both bigotry and defense of our civil liberties are bipartisan. Torrey has fooled Murphy but also this lady or DJ Jaffe who are very liberal otherwise.

    Similarly, opposing the Murphy bill there are people like you and people like. Importantly, while the NRA did not actively opposed it, it didn’t endorse it either. Since the NRA was instrumental killing a mental health bill in Colorado earlier this year, once they understood that mental health can be used to restrict second amendment rights, I do not think they are going to push “mental illness” as the cause of the shootings any longer.

  • Or religion! Do not forget that :).

    Yes, what you are saying is right. Even if one day neuroscience were to be able to describe in painstaking detail how our brain works in terms of brain circuitry, we would still know very little about our minds (ie, “our software”).

    A similar sentiment is echoed by skeptic Robert Burton in this talk that I encourage everybody to watch: .

    The struggle against psychiatry is actually pretty simple -philosophically speaking- once you understand what is at stake. It is about not letting clueless hardware doctors mess up with our complicated and unique minds/software.

    If somebody misbehaves, let the criminal justice system handle him/her. Do not sell the false notion that these doctors know something about “our minds” because they actually don’t.

  • Very true. This is what Thomas Szasz referred to in his paper “the myth of mental illness”. He used the word “myth” to mean that the nosology of the body cannot be used for “problems of living” and doing so results in fake diseases that are “myths”.

    Let me offer you another analogy from the world of computers and that I have used at several places to attack psychiatry: hardware and software. I have repeated this argument many times in many places so it might be new for some people.

    I don’t know what operating system you use for your personal computer, but it is likely to be Windows or MacOS. In either case, one thing is the “software”, ie, the “instructions” that tell the computer what to do, which, with current computers, are executed at the rate of several billions per second, quite another the computer that runs those instructions. By “instructions” I do not mean just the instructions of the CPU but the general concept of a set of deterministic rules that tell the computer what to do in every interaction with users but also with peripherals (your printer, scanner, camera, etc). These “instructions” are a pure abstract concept that are usually expressed in some kind of computing language, but they remain an “idea”. But the instructions themselves and their expression in a given language are different things, just as the idea “I love chocolate” can be expressed in many different languages.

    If I give you a computer and it were possible for you to monitor the billions of switches that run “software” you are not going to “see” any of those abstractions. You will see a computer running the abstractions.

    Now, going back to your post. In computer science, and science in general, the distinction hardware vs software is perfectly understood. Nobody would call a software engineer to fix your broken hard disk, just as nobody would call a hardware engineer to fix a genuine software problem such as . Surely, adding memory to the computer can provide temporary relief, but the right way to fix it is to reprogram the computer.

    In this analogy, psychiatrists are hardware engineers trying to fix software problems.

    When I say this, I am usually told that the analogy is too simplistic, which I concede but, the ways the analogy breaks make the case against psychiatry stronger, not weaker:

    – Computers do not have “free will”, we do. Whether this “free will” is real or an illusion is irrelevant. “Free will” is embedded in our laws and is a basic prerequisite for the establishment of civil society. So, while in theory it is perfectly possible to predict what a given computer will do in every case (the same inputs, no matter how large those inputs are, always result in the same output), in humans, the same inputs not only result in different results for different humans but also the same human at different times. This aspect of human nature is what makes endeavors like economics so unable to make good predictions.

    – In computers what a good “hardware” is can be perfectly defined. It’s equivalent in humans, “a good brain” can also be defined to a certain degree using only biological parameters. To a certain degree, what “good software” is can also be defined with metrics such as “how fast does the operating system boots” or “how many scientific computations does this computer do per second”. I say to a certain degree because there is no possible way to say whether the user interface of Windows is “better looking” than that of MacOS; it’s a matter of taste. In humans, because of our subjectivity, there is no real definition of “good software” (ie, “good mind”) or “normal software” (ie “normal mind”). The right way to deal with “abnormal minds” is the criminal justice system. And even then, at least in constitutional democracies that protect individual rights, there are issues the criminal system cannot criminalize, such as political speech. Again, psychiatry sells the lie that there is such a thing as a “normal mind” and that abnormal minds can be “fixed” through biological interventions.

  • It was a wonderful protest.

    Perhaps nothing underscores better the different people interested in putting an end to psychiatric power under control than this graphic by The Boston Globe titled “The Faces of ‘Free Justina'”,

    While the Justina Pelletier controversy deals only with one aspect of coercive psychiatry – its ability to trump parental and minors’ rights as long as some psychiatrist can claim the victim suffers from an invented disease listed in the DSM- it has served to underscore that the fight for civil rights has a very wide appeal.

    I was glad to see the #freejustina t-shirts but also the references against the Tim Murphy bill and the rest of the classic “anti psychiatry” message. There are many conservatives like yours truly who are strongly opposed to the power grab that the Tim Murphy bill represents.

    Thank you very much for organizing this protest!

  • For those willing to do their share of online activism, you are invited to leave your comments in these two papers by a foundation that will hold some sort of summit on how to make it easier to involuntarily “treat” people.

    Pete Earley will be attending (I learned about this in his blog). I left a few comments and I invite everybody to do the same,

  • Agreed. This is time to double down efforts. While I am particularly encouraged by

    “sources close to the process say it the bill is stuck in neutral for now. While the Energy and Commerce Committee says it supports the effort, no markup has been scheduled.”

    I think we need to engage anybody who would have a stake in being defensive about an expansion of coercive psychiatry.

    Take the NRA. Around one year ago, I was criticized here for suggesting that they could be a potential ally. Now they go around opposing legislative efforts like this .

    Since the Obama administration has made AOT equivalent to involuntary commitment for second amendment purposes, I think that the NRA would be open to listen to stripping the expansion of AOT included in the Murphy bill, as well as the lower standard for civil commitment.

  • I do think that arguing with people like Kate is a futile exercise.

    They have their mind set. All they want is increased powers for them to legally control their family members that they perceive as “odd”.

    The only way to change their minds is twofold,

    – To continue to tell our stories as to raise awareness that giving psychiatry even more powers will turn our lives into a living hell. In this regard, what Leah is doing is wonderful.

    – Perhaps the most important tool is to find ways to make them understand that these powers could be used in the future against them in unexpected ways. Take the NRA. It has gone from blaming violence on mental issues -thus advocating for making it easier to commit people- to understand the problem with that approach and actively lobby so that the standard for civil commitment remains high . They finally understood that under current federal law – which restricts second amendment rights of those civilly committed-, psychiatry could be used to de facto restrict those rights on a large portion of the general population.

    The Justina Pelletier case has been a wake up call for many conservatives who thought that psychiatry was the answer to many problems. We even have psychiatrists like Keith Ablow joining the backlash against the BCH psychiatrists who kidnapped Justina.

    The bar needs to be very high before somebody -or his/her legal guardian as in the case of Justina Pelletier- is deemed “unable to make his/her own decisions”. Any fair minded person, regardless of politics, understands this once they are aware that psychiatry is a scientific as astrology :).

  • Kate,

    I already mentioned above. The specific language that the Murphy bill wants states to adopt for involuntary commitment is too vague as to apply to anybody who lives peacefully and by his business as long as some shrink can say that in his/her opinion, whatever behavioral pattern the DSM committees doesn’t like interferes with his life.

    The same is true with AOT.

    And then there is the abominable changes to the HIPAA rule that would allow my toxic ex family to access my records even when I explicitly deny them said access, FOR LIFE.

    The thing that people like you do not understand is that psychiatry is not a scientific discipline. Its labels are subjective both in the definition phase (because these labels are “voted in”) and the application phase. Psychiatrists themselves disagree when some pattern of behavior interferes with life or not. So if your toxic family member wants to have you committed, it wouldn’t be very hard to find a psychiatrist willing to certify that you need to be so called “treated” – I call it “abused”- against your will. That’s what happens in Europe -look at the data from Norway that I provided below-, so we are not talking hypotheticals here.

    Psychiatrists will abuse as many people as the legal framework they operate under allows them. That’s a fact. The current standard of dangerousness came out of a case in which a guy spent 15 years civilly committed in Florida only because some psychiatrist thought that he needed to be “treated”. You should read the history of the case here .

    Even the NRA seems to be realizing that blaming the problem of violence on so called “mental issues” wasn’t such a great idea after all .

    You have an odd family member that behaves in ways that shame you? Too bad. Disown him/her and your problems will go away. Please do not put the civil liberties of millions of peaceful survivors in jeopardy so that people like you can involuntarily commit their family members more easily. I think this is pretty simple.

    I am a conservative. I believe in traditional marriage. I am prolife. None of that will get in the way of me voting for, and campaigning for, the Democratic Party of this issue becomes one of “conservatives” vs “liberals”. It is my own well being and freedom we are talking about here not some abstract concept.

  • “And yes, that would occur big time no matter how much you all want to deny it.”

    Consider the following paper written in 2009 about the civil commitment rates in Norway where the standard for involuntary commitment is “need for treatment”,

    “The overall study generated incidence rate for civil commitment based on “involuntary referrals”, “treatment periods” and persons involved were 259, 209 and 186 per 100,000 adults/year, respectively.”

    That’s right, about 1 of every 500 people in Norway have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. In fact, similar rates were also common in the US before the O’Connor v Donaldson decision.

    Those who claim that such thing would not happen in the US under the Tim Murphy regime because “we are better people” forgot to read Federalist paper number 10. In case they need a reminder, here it comes :),

    “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

    No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different classes of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the creditors are parties on one side and the debtors on the other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

    It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.”

    Psychiatrists with new extended powers to extend their reach as to who can be abused by psychiatry would do what people with said power would do: use them as much as possible.

  • Kate,

    People seem offended by some of what you said, unless it has been removed, I am not.

    You say “your family may be better off that you disowned them”. I cannot speak for them to be sure, I can tell you that I am definitely better off having disowned them :).

    Let me tell you what my life would be if I had decided to maintain my relationship with them,

    – Every time that I would go back to my former country, I would be scared to death that I would be risking my freedom since I have been out of poisonous drugs for several years now. I recommend that you read “Anatomy of an Epidemic” to learn about the long term side effects these drugs cause. I got both kidney and liver failure out of 1 year on them, which only got reversed after I stopped them (and the reversal was not immediate, it took many months before both my liver and kidney functions were declared normal again).

    – My ex-family would blackmail me with my so called “diagnosis” with things like “oh, you are crazy, so we cannot trust anything you say”. That’s what their attitude was before I called it quits.

    I have been living peacefully, going by my business and making a comfortable living thanks to my US citizenship. People like you and Tim Murphy want to change that. It goes without saying that I have engaged my own congressman to make sure the Tim Murphy bill fails. When a US Representative hears that “I am willing to disown the Republican Party if they back this travesty” is music to their ears. And indeed, I will join the Democratic Party if that’s what it takes to stop this abuse of civil liberties :).

  • Hello Kate,

    Take this from somebody who disowned his ex-family for having had him involuntarily committed in Europe: coercion poisons relationships. Psychiatric coercion even more.

    I see the Tim Murphy bill as the single most important threat to my own well being coming from the US congress. Until now I was protected by my US citizenship from another abusive experience. People like you want to change the status quo so that people like me can be more easily abused by psychiatry and our toxic family members.

    I have read in detail the parts of the bill I have a huge problem with, these are:

    – The whole notion that my ex-parents should have a right to access my medical records FOR LIFE if I am ever unlucky to fall in the hands of the shrinks is repulsive.

    – The involuntary commitment criteria that Mr Murphy wants states to adopt as a condition of receiving money are likely a violation of the standard set by the US Supreme Court in 1975 . I think that the sole reason this provision is in the bill is to hope that the US Supreme Court will reverse that unanimous ruling.

    We, survivors of psychiatric abuse, have many enemies to deal with, the least of which is stigma: the shrinks who make a living of their invented diseases, big pharma companies that lobby to have bills like this passed so they can force more people on drugs and then there is people like you: family members who think that their oppressive ways are a form of “help”.

    CS Lewis famously said: “of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive”. When I read from NAMI mommies, or people who speak like NAMI mommies, I am always reminded of that :).

  • Interestingly, I think I agree “partially” with Sandra here :).

    The place where I part ways is with this notion that medical doctors -psychiatrists or neurologists- should have any role whatsoever in dealing with human suffering.

    “Human suffering” is a very subjective term. What a good “brain” or a good “nervous system” is can be defined objectively in the same way a good “kidney” can be also defined objectively.

    What a “happy” or “good” human experience is very subjective and there should be no role by the medical profession to define it. No role as in “none whatsoever”.

    A few months back I listened to this enlightening talk by Robert Burton about “the mind” . For a self described atheist like him realizing that the difference between “the mind” and “the brain” can be ascertained through empirical evidence might be a great “aha” moment, but that’s what religious and spiritual people have been saying for millennia. That’s pretty much old news for like 95% of humanity. It’s only when this distinction between mind (soul or however you want to call it) and brain was questioned by atheists and secular people that a lot of the suffering brought about by the practice of psychiatry took place.

    Many religions have, and continue to, condone what psychiatry calls “psychotic episodes” and “hallucinations” as “mystic experiences” of great religious value.

    My bottom line is that people with medical training should go back to what they have been trained to deal with: the physical body -and that includes both the brain and the nervous system.

    For “problems of living” or “human suffering”, people should rely on what people have traditionally relied on: friends, family, counselors, religious guides, etc.

    For those who are atheists and who truly believe that life is meaningless in an absolute sense (meaning, that the universe has no purpose and that we humans are just animated pieces of meat), too bad. No amount of “drugging” or fMRI imaging is going to give them the overall meaning to life that they deny. In fact, the real travesty is that these people want to impose their secular, “chemical imbalance” view of humanity through the DSM on the rest of society :).

  • Here is another one,

    While the author seems to be OK with some for of second amendment control on some with “mental issues” he concedes,

    “It’s possible for the definition of “mental health issues” to continue to expand to include more and more people, in the same way that gun control laws and the definition of “assault weapons” have expanded. This may prevent people who need help from seeking it, out of fear that they will lose their right to keep and bear arms. Isn’t that worse? For someone to knowingly want help and possibly need help, to avoid involving themselves in the system as it may have an impact on their civil rights could potentially have a severe impact. Threatening and punishing people for wanting help are not the answers we need.”

    “Mental health is also very complex and is constantly changing as professionals learn more. Consider this for a moment: homosexuality was once considered a mental health issue. Now apply that to the idea that people with “mental health issues” should be barred from owning firearms. It isn’t right, is it?”

  • I am a conservative Republican. I am pro life and I am pro traditional marriage (which means that I do not approve of gay marriage – which is promoted by LGBT groups- nor polygamy -which is promoted by Muslims and Mormons). I am not anti anybody.

    This notion that there is no room in the psychiatric survivor movement for people like me is preposterous.

    The Justina Pelletier case shows that when it comes to opposing psychiatric oppression, all contributions are welcome. I am also in favor of collaborating with CCHR. In fact, I got CCHR people in the UK engaged in the matter very effectively .

    People forget that when FDR had the hard job of confronting Nazi Germany, he forged an alliance with Stalin.

    This is not to say that anybody who disagrees with me politically is Stalin like, rather, that if working for the greater good – and I think that most members of the MIA community would agree that eliminating coercive psychiatry is the ultimate goal- requires me to work with people whose political views I do not share (American liberalism) and whose religion I do not share (Scientology) I am 100% willing to work with said people as long as it is done peacefully and legally.

  • I sent this to Sandra via email but I think it belongs here too.

    First, I have to say that I have come to respect you more from your first postings in MIA in which you looked like the female version of Dr Moffic. I still have qualms with some of your positions, like coercive psychiatry, but still, I think that you have grown into somebody I can respect.

    With this said, I find this fabricated outrage quite comical.

    And since I like humor a lot, I would illustrate the issue with a joke about San Francisco that was very popular among conservatives like yours truly years ago. I do not find the internet reference, so it must have lost some popularity. I have to retell it using my own words, which might not be as funny.

    The joke was something like this. It talked about a party attended by the mayor and the San Francisco elite. The party was full of the usual negatives about San Francisco that have become anathema in the conservative consciousness: wild alcohol consumption, heavy illegal drug usage (cocaine, crack, heroin, etc), sessions of group sex, old gay men having sex with minors, etc. Suddenly the mayor decides to pull a stunt in the middle of the room with a dominatrix and a bottle of Vodka with everybody watching. The mayor is unlucky and the bottle falls to the floor where it is left for the remaining of the party.

    The next day, the San Francisco Chronicle, upon learning about the party, decides to take the story to its front page in a responsible exercise of investigative journalism. The headline “San Franciscans express outrage that their mayor doesn’t recycle bottles of Vodka in his parties”.

    It must be an “insider thing”, but seriously worrying about this when people are dying everyday of the effects of the drugs that psychiatrists prescribe to treat psychiatry’s invented diseases seems like a practical joke that only psychiatrists can understand :D.

  • Thanks for the interesting discussion Richard.

    Yes, I concede that capitalism is the lesser evil, just as Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst of all political systems, with the exception of everyone else known to man!

    Until anything better pops up, and I fail to see what such a system would look like, representative democracy with individual rights on the political front combined with capitalism on the economic front has been shown to be superior to any other societal model ever experimented with. We also know the things that do not work.

    You praise the single payer universal system for medicine -medicare for all as Dennis Kucinich calls it-, but people should be told that if the US were to adopt such a model as its primary source of healthcare, innovation would come to a halt. As the NY Times article cogently indicates, the Western countries that have such a model do not produce any meaningful innovation. These countries have been living out of the innovations produced in the United States during the last 30 years. When it comes to medical innovation, the US is the last stand on Earth. If the US were to fall on this matter, that’s it. Besides, the most likely result would not be “medicare for all” but “medicare for 90% of the people, something like the pre Obamacare situation for the remaining 10%”. One of the advantages of the size of the United States is that if the 10% wealthiest decided to create a medical system for themselves parallel to “medicare for all”, that’s still 30 million people, which is close to the population of a country like Poland.

    With respect to innovation, the historical record is very clear that it requires that those making the innovations are given the means to live comfortable to do so. Be it through capitalism or, as during the case of the European Enlightenment, patronage by wealthy aristocrats and the like. Even in the Soviet Union, which was known for its excellence in basic science that didn’t require significant capital investments, those who did mathematics, physics or chemistry at the professional level lived significantly better than the rest of the population in spite of communism, which is why many in the Soviet Union, as well as in Eastern Europe, saw a career in science as a way to make a better living that what their average comrades did.

    With respect to biological psychiatry being a byproduct of capitalism, I beg to differ. The historical record is also very clear that psychiatry grew as the role of religion in society weakened.

    Psychiatry is the secular alternative to the social control mechanisms that existed when our societies were more religious. We have become more secular but it doesn’t mean that human beings do not have an insidious impulse to impose their notions of normality on everybody else. The DSM is being use these days by secularists as a sort of “sacred text” so that everything that is not in the DSM is, by definition, normal.

    The best example of this is homosexuality. Homosexuality was once a “mental illness” (we all agree that it was wrong to consider it a mental illness, in fact I do not give legitimacy to any of the DSM labels). Homosexuality was then dropped from the DSM via a referendum (and that referendum only got 55% of the vote). Since then, gay rights activists have used the exclusion of the DSM of homosexuality as “proof” that homosexuality is “normal” in legal briefs to push for the legalization of gay marriage.

    Capitalism is only tapping the market of a society that increasingly sees psychiatry, and its chemical “cures”, as the source of “meaning” and “social control”. It is no accident that the countries of the European Union with the highest rates of involuntary commitment (Finland, Norway with 200 per 100000) are also the most secular countries in Europe. They also have the highest rates of suicide.

    Bob Whitaker gave this talk to a reduced group about how eugenic thought (the “fit” vs the “unfit”) still pervades society and psychiatry in particular . Capitalism has nothing to do with that.

  • Sinead,

    As I said, we’ll have to agree to disagree. At the root of the Justina case I see nothing but government bureaucrats working to justify their own existence. I recommend everybody to watch in its entirety the youtube video that was provided earlier about the findings of the CCHR investigator: . You will be extremely surprised, or maybe not, that the structure of the Medicaid program in Massachusetts for instance provides incentives for DCF to kidnap first, then ask whatever legitimate questions they might have later. Why? Because once the custody of one of these children is in the hands of DCF, the federal government pays 100% of the expenditures of the medical care through medicaid while if the custody remained in the hands of the parents, the state would have to pay a share of the cost. This also explains why Justina is in a psych ward: it is considered “medical care” and it is 100% paid by the federal government. The state only has to pay the salaries of the DCF bureaucrats. That will continue to be the case if the keep custody until Justina is 18.

    Bureaucracies have only one objective: self preservation. This applies both to private and government bureaucracies, except that at least private bureaucracies can go out of business. A government bureaucracy can only grow. It will grow at any cost, even at the cost of kidnapping children through nonsensical psychiatric diagnoses.

    Obamacare increases the number of bureaucrats that have a say in healthcare decisions for many Americans. I hardly see how that’s a good thing. And I am not getting in the IRS component of the law to enforce the individual mandate which onto itself is problematic.

  • Hi Richard,

    I have provided an area where plain old vanilla capitalism still delivers: high tech. There are others: hard science itself for instance. If you take a look at the institutions/countries that produce the highest number of Nobel, Fields Medal prize winners it is also obvious that an overwhelming majority of them are wealthy institutions/countries that pay very well their scientists/professors in comparison with the universities/countries that produce mediocre work.

    With respect to human nature, we do have the empirical evidence that people do need incentives to produce good work. The historical experiment has been done so many times that it is surprising that there are still believers in government imposed equalization. A few examples,

    – Germany. Prior to WWII, there was no significant difference between the East and the West. 40 years / 2 generations later, the capitalist West became the envy of Europe while the communist East became so impoverished that even today, 20 years after the fall of the Wall, it remains a very impoverished part of Germany. This experiment is significant because we are talking about exactly the same people -from a historical background-, exactly the same culture and, for whatever it is worth, exactly the same genetics. Still, the part of Germany that was ruled by capitalism flourished in every aspect, the part that was ruled by a utopian egalitarianism was poor. When you don’t provide incentives for innovation, it just doesn’t happen. Most people, do not innovate for innovation’s sake because unless you are born wealthy, you have to make a living first. It’s only after your life needs have been covered that you can think about innovating. And by definition you cannot provide everybody a “wealthy lifestyle”.

    – Korean peninsula, it’s exactly the same story as with Germany.

    – China. It avoided the destiny of the Soviet Union only after it embraced capitalism. This is an interesting historical experiment: a capitalistic society with a totalitarian one party rule political system. Too early to tell how successful this model is for society, but it is not early to tell that capitalism raised more people out of poverty in China than any other policy you can think of.

    – Even Bono, the U2 singer and icon of the left, has bought this vision .

    – Countries with socialized medicine. They don’t produce significant medical innovation; even the NY Times recognizes this fact: “Poor U.S. Scores in Health Care Don’t Measure Nobels and Innovation”

    The challenge is to keep medical innovation going (outside psychiatry, since if it were up to me, psychiatry would be completely deprived of public funds) and help people who don’t have insurance. What is clear though is that if the “single payer, socialized medicine” model were to be adopted, medical innovation would come to a halt. Again, the evidence is too overwhelming to ignore it.

  • I hope this opens the eyes of many of my fellow right wingers who have been pushing the bumper sticker “take away the guns of the mentally ill” for some time.

    Few MIA readers need to be convinced that psychiatry is the new inquisition, ie, the institution that governments worldwide use to exert social control outside the criminal justice system, but unfortunately, not everybody shares that view. This has to be used to our advantage.

  • I have had nothing but harsh words for Big Pharma companies and their executives. But you forget that the capitalism under which these companies operate is not the capitalism that those of us, believers in free markets, defend.

    Big Pharma, just as Big Oil, the big defense contractors or Wall Street banks, operate under the model of crony capitalism, “corporate welfare”, oligopolistic capitalism or however you want to call it. Free markets are about companies/players competing under the same rules, fairly. Some companies win, some lose. It has been a long time that Big Pharma companies do not operate under this model (Maria had an excellent piece about the matter). Big Pharma companies lobby so that legislators write the rules in a way that favors them, and that includes the whole drug approval process which makes effective competition non existent. It is impossible for a startup company to become the next GSK on its own the way Facebook went from a Harvard dorm to become a company valued at 100 billion dollars in 10 years, or 20 years. The number of Big Pharma companies is fixed. Even a company like Genentech was absorbed by Roche. So the toxic, heavily regulated, environment under which not only Big Pharma companies, but also the private insurance companies, operate is hardly the best representative of the free markets that I defend and that gave us the personal computer or the internet out of pretty much nothing.

    A different question is whether capitalism of any kind is the best model for all areas of life that involve economic activity. The answer is clearly no, as higher education shows: the best universities are private but nonprofit. Also nobody ever thought of having an army made up only of mercenaries (so that soldiers have allegiance not to their country but to the best payer).

    Higher education also provides a very good argument against public nonprofit institutions: Europe is full of mediocre public universities, its top two (Oxford and Cambridge) being effectively run as their American private nonprofit counterparts.

    The question of what’s the best model for healthcare is something I myself struggle a lot. On one hand it is human nature that no significant medical breakthroughs would happen in the future if all areas of healthcare are carried out by government bureaucrats. It is also clear that the oligopolistic, corporate welfare model doesn’t cut it either. Probably the best model would be something along the lines of what happens in higher education, but that would also mean that a lot of the restrictions that favor existing players would need to be lifted. Imagine a world in which the only people who could attend Harvard are Massachusetts residents. That is the world of the private insurance market since companies cannot compete across state lines. Why? Precisely because existing rules favor existing players!

    So a change in the regulatory framework of Big Pharma is surely in order, but not capitalism!

  • I couldn’t finish the talk because it made me sick to my stomach just watching until minute 17.

    It reminds me of something that I heard once to Paula Caplan in one of her talks. She said that in 20+ years hearing horror stories about psychiatric power out of control, she is still surprised about how creative psychiatrists are to find ways to destroy people’s lives.

    Now they have found a new way to impose psychiatry on children whose parents are unwilling to yield to their desires: medical child abuse.

    It fits very well the overall DSM theme: if you eat too much, you have a disease, if you eat too little you have a disease, if you have too much sex you have a disease, if you have too little sex you have a disease. Now if you take your child to the doctor too much, you are a perpetrator of medical child abuse, if you take your child to the doctor too little, you are also a perpetrator of medical child abuse too! You need to take your child to the doctor only “in the right amount”. And of course, the doctor knows nothing about what is “too much” or “too little”, he/she is just an innocent enabler of an abusing parent.

    Boy, I understand that psychiatrists need something to replace the children they will lose now that Allen Frances and similar have denounced false ADHD and bipolar epidemics, but this new “Munchausen syndrome by proxy” crosses a line that even in my wildest dreams I never thought it would be possible for the most evil of psychiatrists to cross, and yet that is where there market for the upcoming years seems to be!

  • We’ll have to agree to disagree :D. I hope Obamacare is an utter failure. It is not that much the idea of insuring the uninsured (position I am sympathetic to through other means) but as the Justina case shows, the notion of having government bureaucrats putting themselves, by way of regulation, between you and your doctor is appalling.

    Justina has been caught in the “intellectual” dispute between a BCH psychiatrist defending her own pet diagnosis and a Tufts doctor defending mitochondrial disease. In the meanwhile, government gets in between asserting its right to separate a child from her parents while the dispute is being sorted out. Justina has spent 10 months in a psychiatric ward because of government!

    Any law, such as Obamacare, that gives government bureaucrats more power to affect people’s lives in the name of healthcare has to be resisted which is why I dislike Obamacare with a passion. Only slightly less than the Tim Murphy bill!!

  • Same thing here. When it comes to confronting psychiatric coercion, I only have one litmus test question : do you think that all forms of psychiatric coercion are as evil as I do? If the answer is positive, I couldn’t care less about the remaining political positions of that person! Psychiatric coercion is evil and this case is probably the quintessential example of how things can be really be made horrific by self appointed mind guardians who invent diseases out of thin air.

  • Fox News Channels (THE Fox News Channel, rather than the local affiliates) seem to have started coverage of the case in earnest.

    Here is a clip from “Happening Now” which is their morning news show . This morning, ironically while I was reading this page, I saw a different coverage (haven’t seen it online yet) in which their psychiatrist in residence, Keith Ablow, harshly criticized Boston Children’s Hospital for using the mental health laws of Massachusetts to resolve the dispute (Keith is based in Boston). They also said that they have gotten in touch with Boston Children’s for an explanation and that they will continue to monitor the case.

    I am an avid watcher of Fox News Channel. The way I have seen situations like this in the past, in which the top editors clearly feel that something wrong is happening in some particular situation, is that they first let the target of their reporting know that they are watching by talking about it during their normal news (ie not opinion based) coverage. If the situation doesn’t fix itself, they usually get their top dogs (the ones that get the millions of views in the evening) involved until something happens. They have been successful in the past correcting obvious wrongs. Here is Bill O’Reilly ambushing the Montana Judge that earlier in the year gave a light sentence to a rapist under the excuse that the victim looked “older for her age” . I would expect something similar if Justina is not returned to her parents after the January 10th hearing.

  • I have always been of the opinion that Big Pharma companies, not only GSK, are happy paying these fines as a “cost of doing business” so I don’t believe for a second that the real motivation behind GSK’s change is that suddenly its executives have become more ethical.

    Other than the reasons that you give, let me offer another one from my own knowledge of the corporate world (although not specific to Big Pharma): executives at these companies might be afraid that it is only a matter of time before any of them goes to jail because of the cumulative evidence that these practices were happening with the executives’ knowledge. So I think it is all part of a plan, ratified by the attorneys, to shield the executives themselves from legal liability. If something fishy happens in the future, these executives can point to the “new ethical ways of doing business” to excuse themselves of particular employees “gone rogue”.

  • Copy_cat

    That would be our CCHR friends .

    While I understand the reservations that people might have engaging with a Scientology affiliated group, CCHR is probably the most effective anti psychiatry organization there is today. Until a better alternative appears in terms of funding and scope, CCHR’s work is one of the few things that keeps psychiatric power under control.

  • Timothy,

    If the support of Glenn Beck is troubling to you, what can you say about the detailed, two part story of the Boston Globe, a newspaper whose editorial board is as leftist as they come? Or the coverage by several local media in both CT and MA?

    The more I have read about the case, the more I have reached the conclusion that it is a case that has all the elements of a psychiatric horror movie of the kind psychiatric survivors know all too well. My hypothesis is that CPS insists in keeping Justina away from her parents until she is 18 in hopes that she can be brainwashed in between as to avoid a lawsuit against them and the Boston Children’s psychiatrists who are big players in this travesty.

    Does anybody here really needs to be convinced that the psychiatrists who ruined our respective lives would not look after their own interests above anything else, including the well being of a 15 year old, if faced with a potential malpractice lawsuit?

  • Ted,

    Just want to say how much I appreciate what you are doing. I am unable to attend but I have advertised this in my Facebook page against the Murphy bill .

    Also this is a case that has attracted political opposites to the cause. While based on your previous writing it seems to me that you are a left guy, do not underestimate the power of people like Glenn Beck to attract people to the cause. He has dedicated quite a bit of time to this case .

    We need to present it as an example of psychiatric abuse out of control with existing law. What would happen if the Murphy bill became law in cases like this is anybody’s guess.

    I will do my best to focus my online activism on this matter.

  • Corinna,

    I have to disagree with you here and agree with others who have expressed similar views,

    “there is also a small portion of people like Fred Frese who actually think that forced treatment helped them recover. If their recovery story is valid, so is ours”

    When we are talking about civil liberties, statistical significance is irrelevant. The first amendment protections for freedom of speech or association are not applied paternalistically. I am very sure that a lot of people, in retrospect, would have loved to be forcibly shut up prior to saying something stupid that was constitutionally protected but that somebody else found offensive and that resulted in a loss of a job with the corresponding loss of income. Look at the Duck Dinasty controversy. While I am sure that the clan doesn’t care much if the show is cancelled (given that they are very wealthy) I am sure that both Martin Bashir or Alec Baldwin would have appreciated a little bit of government paternalism before saying the things that got both fired and without a job.

    Civil liberties are not for sale nor are they dependent on how a majority of people can feel retrospectively if these were violated. That is the whole point of the Bill of Rights, for instance! To have the first amendment repealed, you would need more than a majority house representatives and senators thinking that it is a good idea. You’d need 2/3 of them and then 3/4 of states agreeing to the same. So, if we agree that the matter of psychiatric coercion is a civil rights issue, we cannot pretend it is not just because some people, even the majority of people, involved in so called “mental health” think otherwise. In fact, the civil liberties aspect is the only thing I care about in the context of this bill and psychiatry at large. I have no dog in the fight of who gets what money. I only care about that the HIPAA protections are not weakened and that the standard for civil commitment/forced drugging is not lowered.

  • You’d be surprised about the power of social media and the internet to affect lawmakers, especially Republican lawmakers that are still feeling the pain of having been portrayed as not up to date with technology and opposing many constituencies like women or minorities.

    As a conservative, the way I am approaching this at the National Review forums is the following,

    1- This bill is a gratuitous invasion of privacy because of the reasons that Faith has outlined and the APA estimates that 50% of Americans will be eligible for a DSM label during their lifetimes.

    2- The Republican Party is about to add another “anti” to the list of epithets the mainstream media associates with it: “anti consumers of mental health services”.

    Not everybody in the Republican Party backs the abuses that Tim Murphy supports. It’s only the fraction that sees scapegoating on the so called “mentally ill” an easy answer to the bumper sticker “take away people’s guns” from the left. When you engage people, they realize that this is probably an abuse.

    Please call your representative . I called mine; their office had no clue that this was in the works. For everybody, this is the Facebook page of my effort .

  • Faith,

    You nailed it!

    What many people living peacefully under the Connor v Donaldson standard don’t realize is how pernicious the following two points are,

    “(E) has a history of mental illness or condition that is likely to substantially deteriorate if the patient is not provided with timely treatment; or

    (F) due to mental illness, lacks capacity to fully understand or lacks judgment to make informed decisions regarding his or her need for treatment, care, or supervision.”

    Simply put, in practice, they will mean “whenever a psychiatrist thinks you need to be involuntarily drugged”. To give you a very specific example, in my own case, several of the reasons that were provided why I should be civilly committed were,

    1- The guy’s life is severely limited as shown by his unwillingness to go to gay/red/crime districts for fear of HIV (in each case, it was to avoid high concentration of gay males, prostitutes and IV drug users). This is not a joke. One of the European psychiatrists that I saw suggested as “therapy” that I should have protected sex with prostitutes, in my face!

    2- The guy doesn’t realize he has a problem (the infamous “lack of insight” that F) endorses).

    3- As a result of 1- (and similar things) and 2-, there is no alternative but to civilly commit the guy to put him on treatment.

    The section that asks states to change their civil commitment laws to include something called “grave disability” defines “grave disability” along similar lines.

    If this bill were to become law, psychiatric abuse will be several orders of magnitude bigger than it is today in the US, even if some case were to made it to the SCOTUS for violating the Connor v Donaldson standard. The reason, as the NSA metadata collection shows, is that judges are in general reluctant to strike down laws that they find unconstitutional in which one of the sides is a government entity unless the SCOTUS itself does it, which could take years. And that assuming that the SCOTUS reaffirms Connor v Donaldson. One of the hidden agenda items of the law is probably to force the SCOTUS to review Connor v Donaldson to side with Torrey.

    None of this will happen if you call your representative now, so please, do it: .

  • I have contacted Parker Higgins, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, [email protected] , on the angle that the aggressive expansion of the HIPAA protections and the fact that under DSM-IV, up to 50% of Americans can be labelled as “mentally ill” ( ), if the bill “as is” were to become law, the spying work of the NSA would look amateurish in comparison with the abuse that would result from one’s inability to hide certain information from family members for life.

    We need to “expand the appeal” in addition to mobilize our natural allies.


    Hi Parker,

    First of all, I apologize for this anonymous email. Your name pops up in the internet as somebody associated to stopping Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act. If these laws were bad, they are nothing compared to the invasions of privacy that could result if Tim Murphy’s proposal were to become law , .

    This mail is going to be long and technical, so I ask you to please keep reading until the end. The reason I am so cautious with my privacy is that I was at the receiving end in Europe of the type of psychiatric abuse that would become the norm in the US if the bill were to become law with its current language. If you are curious about my story, you can read it here . My story, while important to me, is irrelevant to what I am about to say so I ask you not to waste too much time with it and read the rest.

    That the bill is called “The Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act” should raise anybody’s eyebrows. There is much to dislike about it and I am sure your experts at EFF will find a lot more, but as far as I am concerned, I see two horrible implications,

    1- It overrides’ patients refusal to release medical information which is of psychiatric nature to immediate family members EVEN IN THE CASE OF ADULTS. That’s right, it is not a law that stops with parents accessing their non adult children’s records when they are not emancipated but for the rest of their lives. The Bill makes it clear that the APA’s Diagnostics and Statistical Manual is what decides who could be at the receiving end of this. Now, this year the APA’s released its latest edition, which by the law’s text, would be governing matters. The situation with DSM-5 got so out of hand that the editor of the previous edition, DSM-IV, got out of retirement in full force to fight its release . By the APA’s own estimates, up to 50% of Americans could be labelled as “mentally ill” throughout their lives, making this particular provision kick in. I hope I don’t have to explain
    anybody at EFF why in an era of electronic medical records, such a lousy standard could result in the invasion of everybody’s most sacred medical information.

    2- It requires states, as a condition of receiving certain grant money, to change their laws so that it is easier to forcibly drug and commit people against their will under the standard “gravely disabled”. The law’s own language indicates that this “grave disability” would be determined via a subjective determination by a psychiatrist guided by DSM-5.

    The law has the support of NAMI, which is really a front group of Big Pharma . It is also supported by TAC and the APA who have been fighting for years for making it easier to drug people against their will.

    The bill is fiercely opposed by representatives of users of mental health services, . Their representatives are in CC. I think that this is bigger than something that affects current users of services given the implications of an out of control DSM. The help of EFF would be greatly appreciated.

    Now, I want to make it clear that my politics are otherwise aligned with Murphy. I am a conservative Republican who believes in small government, opposes abortion and is in favor of traditional marriage. However, I will stop voting Republican if this thing ever becomes law.

    I have supported the EFF campaigns on its campaigns against the out of control NSA. A government out of control spying on its citizens is nothing compared to a government out of control sending its citizens to a psychiatric ward or forcibly drugging them, such as it happened here . This is one of the rare occasions for which there could be a bipartisan backlash against something that is nothing but an attempt by Big Pharma and the crooks at the APA to force drugs on people.

    I hope you can help on this.

  • Correct. The text of the bill is here,

    It is very disturbing for several reasons. First because if you read the actual text, it says that “being gravely disabled” should be a valid reason for civil commitment. The bill further defines what “being gravely disabled” is, in summary, “whenever a psychiatrist thinks you are gravely disabled”. So, if this bill were to become law, it would take us 40 years back. It would need to be challenged because it is in all likelihood unconstitutional.

    After my initial alarm, I have seen that the bill has received very little press. Fox News, which has editors that are too friendly to Torrey and the like, didn’t even mention it. So it is probably too extreme even for them. Which means that in all likelihood this bill will die.

    Nonetheless, that this bill exists in the first place should raise concerns that the enemies of our freedom do not rest. They are constantly trying to be creative in finding ways of curtailing our freedoms.

  • Of course, which is why my only beef is with “coercive” psychiatry outside the criminal justice system. I have repeated many times this: if psychiatry were to be deprived of its coercion on non criminals, psychiatry would be no more dangerous than astrology or homeopathy. There would always be somebody finding the chimera of the “chemical imbalance”/”psychotropic drugging” appealing, just as there are people who believe in planets influencing human behavior or the healing power of infinitesimal dilutions. The only reason psychiatry has destroyed so many lives is because it has the legal right to impose its pseudoscience on the rest of society. This power imbalance cannot be dismissed in any serious conversation about why so many people claim to have been harmed by psychiatry compared to other areas of medicine or CAM.

  • No human rights struggle has been easy, and this is no exception. We have to keep in mind that it took the US Supreme Court 60 years to get away from “separate but equal” and it took 100 year after the end of the American Civil War to have the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed.

    It was very courageous for Toby Watson to push for the case and it was a great victory that United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with our side.

    So, thank you both for fighting on this very important issue!

  • Before I continue with a reply along the Duane line of reasoning, I want to make it clear that when it comes to the strategies that would result in a lower number of AIDS transmissions, I have nothing against gay males. Only, as the CDC points out,

    “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM))a represent approximately 2% of the United States population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, young MSM (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all MSM. At the end of 2010, an estimated 489,121 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were MSM or MSM-IDU.”

    A policy that would target primarily, although not exclusively, urban gay males would accomplish great results in terms of decreasing both the overall rate of HIV transmissions and the number of annual deaths due to AIDS because these gay males are easy to find, while the people responsible for the remaining 30% transmission is scattered around the US. If we are going to use science to implement effective strategies in HIV reduction, setting a “coercive shop” at the gay districts of America’s largest cities makes more sense than any of the current strategies in HIV prevention. By focusing resources in such a coercive HIV strategy, this measure alone would, in all likelihood, prevent the majority of new HIV transmissions. This is what is called the “Pareto principle”, which is widely applied when it comes to prioritization of limited resources in many areas of public policy but also, and probably even more, in the private sector.

    What’s more, we do have evidence that a policy that would target all persons “reasonably believed to be at risk of transmitting HIV” would be tremendously effective based on the Cuban experience: . Cuba, despite being a well known destination for sexual tourism has a HIV prevalence rate which is one of the lowest in the world, around half of that of the United States.

    And yet, because we value civil liberties over “saving lives”, in the case of HIV we, and rightly so, repudiate coercive HIV prevention even though the scientific case for coercive HIV prevention is much stronger than the coercive case for “suicide prevention”. Why? Because we can quantify with numbers who is more likely to be HIV positive based on lifestyle choices alone than we can quantify suicide idealization based on any factor. We can also quantify as well more accurately the probability of death by AIDS once HIV transmission happens than the probability that somebody who has suicide thoughts goes on to commit suicide (there is something called “free will” that gets in the way, you know).

    Now, following up on what Duane said. I see a huge, huge difference between laws that make it a criminal offense suicide attempts (I personally believe that such laws should be repealed) and “preemptive locking up of suicidal people”. If you go to court charged with an attempted suicide, in jurisdictions that have such thing as a crime, you cannot be arrested unless there is “probable cause” and you cannot be convicted unless there is evidence beyond “reasonable doubt” that the crime has been committed. In other words, it is an “after the fact” approach vs a “minority report style” type of intervention that you seem to be defending.

    One of the first measures that countries that open up from a totalitarian form of government is to change their censorship policies from “preemptive censorship”, by which all publications need to be cleared by a censorship office, to “after the fact censorship”, by which censorship still exists but it is enforced only after the fact. That little change, makes usually a great difference in improving the lives of those who are targeted by the thought police.

    In the case of suicide, even it society thought that it is a good idea to fight suicide by way of criminalization of suicide attempts, we are better served if no intervention whatsoever is done until “after the fact”, and that would include attempts at saving the suicidal individual life if after attempting a suicide, he or she changes his/her mind.

    As I said above, for governments to terrorize their citizens by way of psychiatric coercion, the “threat of coercion” is good enough.

    So yes, I do think that you are mistaken or that, at the very minimum, you have a double standard when it comes to valuing preventable deaths. I interpret what you are saying as: you don’t have a problem that people die of preventable AIDS or heart attacks but you have a problem with people dying of a preventable suicide even though the type of intervention to prevent suicide that you defend has very little science to back it up, only the “subjective” appreciation of he/she who orders a psychiatric hold.

    As somebody who uses reason mostly when it comes to thinking about matters of public policy, I surely do not understand your point of view, other than it is contradictory.

  • To which I ask,

    – What should be do with a gay man who insists in having unprotected anal sex with another gay man despite the highly likelihood that it will lead to a transmission of a mortal disease (manageable, but mortal nonetheless).

    – What should be do with a 350 pounds person who insists in eating 1000 calories hamburgers both for lunch and dinner (plus an equally caloric desert afterwards, for a total of a minimum consumption of 4000 calories per day) despite the fact that the probability of the person dying of a heart attack is all but guaranteed.

    The answer in the three cases, from my point of view, is clear: if no crime is committed, absolutely nothing. Let everybody accept their destiny!

  • The answer to your two questions boils down to the following fact: just because somebody is uber smart and highly trained at the best universities, it doesn’t mean that he/she is automatically ethical. My personal experience, for what it is worth, is that intelligence and ethics are completely orthogonal. We would love that not to be the case, ie, that smart people are the cure to all problems in society, but unfortunately, societies that are ruled by “the best and brightest” are not necessarily the most ethical. Worst yet, among the highly educated, those who tend to rise at the top tend also to be the less ethical because they use their smarts not to the benefit of society but to advance their own careers. A high IQ unethical person can inflict more damage than a legion of less smart, equally bad people.

    William F. Buckley, Jr. put it best “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

    It bets however the question of why the situation is so much worse in psychiatry than in other areas of medicine or research. And the answer is also obvious: because psychiatry is not a scientific discipline. You can claim all you want that something travels faster than the speed of light, but unless you design a falsifiable experiment that proves it, that claim will not advance your career. Psychiatry deals with subjective labels, not with objective realities, so clearly all bets are off. All clinical data in psychiatry can be cooked to show whatever you want it to show, which is why meta-analyses, which average out manipulations, consistently show that even using psychiatry’s own measures of efficacy, there is no real benefit in psychopharmacology.

  • Jonathan,

    I am happy to hear that you concede that our disagreement here lies in competing visions about the ability of government to impose behavioral control on non criminal citizens. Nothing bothers me more than when I am accused of being “heartless” when I defend my position. I am not heartless, I do however think that a greater evil is caused in the “forest” under the excuse of “helping” a few “trees” by those who defend your position.

    I do not buy the “these are complex issues” line of reasoning either. This is very simple, I believe that no behavioral control is warranted on non criminals under any circumstances, period. It cannot be simpler than that.

    Note that to defend your position you have had to resort to contradictions, like on one side defending forced so called “hospitalizations” to prevent suicides while on the other not opposing euthanasia. I do not buy your argument “on a visceral level it seems heartless to ignore a bridge jumper because I am honoring their “right to self-determination.” “. Well, that is what we do when we let gay men engage in unprotected anal sex with other gay men or when we let an obese person consume a 1000 calories hamburger. We do not demand in either case a psychological evaluation of “being in their right mind” or that they sign a release form that they know that what they are about to do exposes them to a high risk of death (around 7500 gay men die each year of preventable AIDS transmission in the US alone). Note, that if we were to do so, by forcing these people to think before acting, many gay men would be spared of AIDS and probably many obese people would be also spared of a heart attack. I don’t see you supporting such procedures to prevent the spread of AIDS or to prevent deaths by heart attacks -even though both types of deaths cost more money to society than suicides because they require expensive medical treatments all the way until the end- and yet I see you are still defending your work, despite all your qualifications.

    At core, this is the problem with the “positive liberties” approach, that contradictions are inevitable. If you are happy with your contradictions, I have nothing to object. At the same time, on matters such as these that affect so negatively people’s lives, I believe that a “negative liberties” approach is more warranted.

  • This is very true, but at the same time, there are things that one can do to minimize the probability that your medical information is misused thanks to HIPAA like protections that exist both at the federal and state level.

    While no protection is absolute, you can at the very minimum ask that your providers to NOT share your medical information with other providers. Providers are required to comply except in circumstances such as emergencies. And “emergency” is not some doctor saying “this is an emergency” but it has to be something like you are taken to the ER or something. There are penalties for breaches of privacy and, more importantly, loss of reputation. Nothing mollifies a provider more than the threat of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

    After gaining “awareness” of the negative consequences of my past psychiatric history, I decided to never go back to the medical center where my American psychiatrist worked and protect that record from unauthorized access. I worked with their privacy officer to revoke each and every single release authorization that I had previously signed and wrote a letter to be put in my medical record with them that I was the only person I explicitly authorized to access my medical data. While HIPAA regulations allow medical providers to access the data without your consent in a specific circumstances, like emergency care or in response to a court order, putting such a letter in your record makes it clear that they would be violating the law if they decided to share that information for uses not authorized by the HIPAA regulations, which would increase their legal liability in case of an unauthorized sharing.

    Your new provider cannot force you to share your old data with them for regular, non emergency service, no matter how much they scream or how much they tell you otherwise. The law, is the law.

    When my new provider insisted that I share with them all my past medical data, since I have to go to the doctor at least once a year to make sure that my metabolic indicators are within normal range, I told them that they had two choices: either accept my request that they will not know my past medical history or that I would take my business somewhere else. They complied :D.

    Of course, this assumes that you have the choice to switch providers, which is the case for a lot of people. If you have an HMO type of plan or a plan with a limited network of providers, then, yes, it is a problem.

  • The short answer is no.

    I am going to get a bit technical here. Under US law, Ellen was a foreign national trying to travel to the US. US immigration law, as written, has a set of “inadmissible” categories, related to health issues but also to other things like criminal records. An immigrant who is deemed “inadmissible” can only be admitted in some cases if a waiver is requested. For some categories of inadmissibility, like the most serious crimes, there is no waiver relief possible. For Class A medical conditions, which is the pretext used against Ellen, there is, but the process is long and bureaucratic.

    This “inadmissibility” thing goes beyond traveling to the US, it also applies to immigrants applying legally for work visas and permanent residency aka “greencard”. Once you are admitted as permanent resident, inadmissibility due to medical reasons no longer applies. For instance, when HIV infection rendered immigrants inadmissible, HIV positive people were ineligible for the greencard. But, those who got their greencard and became infected AFTER their greencards and while maintaining legal status, were allowed to stay in the US and apply for US citizenship. In other words, there is a difference between “inadmissibility” and “deportability”. Certain types of crimes make immigrants both inadmissible and deportable. Class A medical conditions, including mental health issues that result or can result in harmful behavior, makes the immigrant inadmissible but not deportable unless the immigrant engages in criminal behavior that makes him/her deportable.

    All this is very technical, as US immigration is. Only an immigrant, like yours truly, is aware of these things :D.

    In my own case, one of the potential damaging effects that my commitment could have brought to my life would have been immigration problems. Although my commitment happened under a “need for treatment” standard and I could prove that I was not engaging in dangerous behavior, the fact that I was committed and diagnosed after I was already a US citizen inoculated me from problems with US immigration. But this is yet an other area in which psychiatry does more damage than good. If you take a look at the guide above, although it says that no DSM label by itself renders anybody inadmissible, the instruction is to be particularly picky with anybody diagnosed of “bipolar”, “schizophrenia”, “depression” and, excuse me for word, I am just copy/pasting, “mental retardation”.

    Given the lack of validity of DSM labels, and the lack of ability of psychiatrists to predict who and when is likely to become violent, needless to say, that having one of those labels before getting your greencard can severely impact your life if you want to stay in the US.

  • Jonathan,

    Thanks for your reply. For a lengthy, but very worthy debate, on these matters you can take a look at this conversation organized by the CATO institute last year . My “fat camp” example is taken from one of the essays by Jacob Sullum. The HIV example is my own. I can come up with many others like banning smoking, banning high risk sports, etc.

    After listening to arguments from both sides, it all comes down to the question that you ask at the end: does government has a universal right to protect people who have committed no crimes from their own self inflicted harmful behavior? Those who adopt my position say, unconditionally NO: there is already the criminal justice system to take care of harmful individuals.

    Those who answer in the positive have to address what is “harmful behavior” for the purpose of a paternalistic intervention. Why is it “acceptable” to prevent somebody from taking his/her own life via a drug overdose but it is perfectly acceptable to have somebody kill himself/herself via consumption of calories or having unprotected sex that would expose the person to HIV. What makes a death via drug overdose less acceptable than a death caused by a heart attack or an AIDS related disease? Aren’t all preventable deaths equal?

    Those who adopt my position, at least I, give you that if paternalistic policies were to be widely adopted many lives would be potentially saved. However, we also take the position that by letting paternalism kick in a greater evil is inflicted on the individual affected by the application of the policy as well as on society at large: government denying non criminals their right to self determination, as you put it. For government to “terrorize” its citizens, all it needs is the threat of its ability to impose paternalistic policies on them. So, on balance, the only acceptable option for those like me who believe that individual freedom trumps the “alleged benefits” is to ban all forms of psychiatric coercion. And all forms of Bloomberg-like soda sizes as well, BTW :D.

  • Jonathan,

    You are resorting to the old trick of “retrospective validation” to justify paternalistic and abusive interventions. Again, I don’t buy it. As I said, even if 100 of every 100 people surveyed were to be happy with their commitments, that should have no bearing in my decision to deny one such intervention.

    Potential “retrospective validation” could be used to justify all kinds of paternalistic government interventions,

    – “Fat camps”: the government could kidnap all obese people and put them in a strict dietary regime. I am sure that many formerly obese people would be thankful for having been kidnapped. In addition, many of the 600,000 annual deaths in the US due to heart disease will probably be avoided, not to mention many billions of dollars caused by obese people.

    – Banning gay sex among men and/or quarantining HIV positive gay males in high risk urban areas. The New York Times had an article this week about how unprotected sex has become very popular among these gays (with ~ 70% of surveyed gay males reporting that they had one such encounter in the last year). The vast majority of new HIV infections come from unprotected sex among gay males. The US government alone spends 14 billion dollars a year on HIV programs, most of them on gay males. ~ 15,000 people die each year of preventable HIV infection, most of them gay males. I am sure that many of these gay males would appreciate that somebody would have stopped them before engaging in a sexual act that gave them AIDS.

    Note that even the alarmist TAC is unable to put the number of violent deaths caused by so called “untreated serious mental illness” beyond 1,000 a year, which is very little compared to the number of lives that could be saved by kidnapping obese people into “fat camps” or quarantining “gay males” in high risk urban settings.

    At the end of the day, it’s the same empty, exaggerated defense of abusing people human rights for “their own good”.

    What we in the survivor movement lack is the political influence that prevents government from kidnapping obese people and quarantining gay males in high risk urban areas. And the reason we lack that political influence is the stigma that the APA and people like you create with these fairy tales of “danger” and “how good” it is to so called “treat” people who would “otherwise end up in jail”.

    I have also said several times that the only issue I care about in the context of psychiatry is the abolition of coercive psychiatry. That conviction is reaffirmed every time that I debate the issue with somebody who uses your line of argument to defend coercive psychiatry.

  • To supplement that, this is the document that instructs medical examiners how to screen immigrants for so called “mental health issues”. As I said, it is very technical,

    And this is the N-400 form,

    The question about civil commitment is in Part 10/A, question 7. While answering yes will not automatically disqualify anybody from US citizenship, the immigration officer has the discretion to give you a hard time, even deny your application if you don’t make a convincing case about why you should be admitted. In addition, saying yes there will forever put that info in the hands of the US government. If you lie, since this issue is “material”, you’d be getting your citizenship through fraud, which is even a worse offense for which there is no statute of limitations.

    What makes the above case even more strange is that from the article, it seems somebody in Canada put the info in a database to which the US government has access. Scary!

  • This is one of those “unintended consequences” that “helpers” cause to innocent people. Today people with what the INA calls “dangerous mental diseases” can be denied entry in the US the same way HIV positive people were until 2009. Even though my commitment and diagnosis happened when I was already a US citizen, I checked the USCIS guide that deals with these things. It is very technical but basically anybody diagnosed with bipolar or schizophrenia is going to have a hard time getting a greencard lawfully (and lying about it in an application is even more problematic). Further, the N-400, the form one needs to fill out to apply for US citizenship, explicitly asks whether the applicant has been civilly committed as a problematic area. This is an extra area of my life that could have been derailed by psychiatry had my ordeal happened while I was not yet a US citizen.

  • “I think it makes sense to have a place that can act as a sanctuary for people who are in extreme distress and are not thinking clearly. By taking a day or two to reflect, they often change their minds. Is that a service, or a harm to someone who is contemplating suicide?”

    Two problems with this argument. First, there is evidence that the humiliation that comes with being involuntarily committed and drugged can be more traumatic than whatever experience incited somebody to becoming suicidal. Speaking of my own experience, my civil commitment happened under a European “need for treatment” standard which is way more abusive than anything that is possible today in the US -ie, I was not dangerous to anybody. I have from time to time nightmares about being civilly committed even though it has been several years since that happened and the possibility of being civilly committed in the US under the circumstances that resulted in my commitment are zero. The last time I experienced one of these vivid nightmares was a few days ago. The trauma doesn’t go away with time. It stays with you. Being civilly committed has altered the course of my life in so many negative ways that I would need an entire book to elaborate each of them.

    But my most important argument is the second one. It all comes down to whether one respects individual rights. You are defending government imposed paternalism, which has caused more suffering to more innocent people than we can count. Even if 100 out of 100 people surveyed said that they were “grateful” to have been civilly committed, that should have absolutely no bearing in my decision to reject any such intervention. That is what an individual right is.

    And yes, I do believe that somebody who behaves violently is better served by calling the police than by leaving that somebody in the hands of psychiatrists. As a criminal defendant he/she will have rights that are routinely denied to those are civilly committed in the name of paternalism.

    In a different context, CS Lewis said “the greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

    That is how I see the work of the APA and all those who defend in some form or another coercive psychiatry.

  • Tom,

    Let me first say that I find myself mostly in agreement with all your comments, this one is no exception, to the point of thinking that maybe I am reading my own mind :D.

    Yes, it is true that “separate but equal” was once legal in the US under a Supreme Court ruling known as “Plessy v. Ferguson”. However, that was in the late XIX-th century. 60 years later, another landmark Supreme Court ruling known as “Brown v Board of Education” said that “separate but equal” was a violation of the XIV-th amendment.

    My proposal is not to say that the current law is compliant with the XIV-th amendment but, on the contrary, that existing law is a violation of the XIV-th amendment precisely because we are given “separate but equal” treatment.

    I go even further. I do believe that the US government is violating the first amendment, in particular the so called “establishment clause” by promoting psychiatry as a medical specialty. While this statement would have been considered too extreme to gain any traction among the so called “seriously minded” just one year ago, amazing things have happened during the last year. Now the psychiatric profession itself has admitted that it has no evidence to prove that any of the DSM labels are scientific in the sense Alzheimer’s or CJD are. So!

  • “you first” :D. Duane, you have a great ability of putting things that the defenders of psychiatric abuse usually call “complex, difficult, no easy answers” in simple terms. Sure there is an easy answer to the so called “dilemma” brought here: “you first”.

    Up until I was restrained and forcibly drugged, I would have probably empathized with the “complex, difficult, no easy answer” crowd. After my own experience, I do do have a simple answer to the issue of civil commitment and forced drugging: it should be banned in all circumstances, period, no exceptions.

  • To the risk of sounding like a broken record, my position is the same: all forms of coercive psychiatry should be banned, period, no exceptions.

    Or, for those who don’t like statements with a negative proposition, nobody should be forced into any kind of psychiatric so called “treatment”, be it drugging, civil commitment or whatever, period, no exceptions.

    Now, with respect to those who misbehave, there is the criminal justice system to deal with them, period, no exceptions. The notion that somebody is doing somebody else who has not committed a crime a “favor” by labeling that person with a DSM label that will follow the person during the rest of his/her life is preposterous.

    To Jonathan: does any of those whose human rights are regularly violated at your facility, by your own admission, committed a crime? If the answer is no, freedom or voluntary forms of so called “treatment” is the appropriate course of action. If they have committed a crime, then jail is a perfectly acceptable option.

  • This is hardly something to celebrate.

    I read the whole article and all he seems to be saying is that some of the DSM/ICD labels of the past especially when it came to the pathologization of homosexuality and some other behaviors targeted at women were wrong. He doesn’t seem to be opposed to the notion of self appointed APA or WHO guardians pathologizing behaviors via voting. Nor do I see any calls to abolishing coercive psychiatry.

    Today, millions of people have been told that they are “mentally ill” because a group of self appointed mind guardians think so. These labels impact their lives both legally and socially.

    In some respects, I feel that some gay psychiatrists are using psychiatric labeling in the same way it was used against homosexuals up until the 1970s: to impose a particular vision of what should be socially acceptable.

    Why is it wrong to call homosexuality a “mental illness” but it is OK to say that somebody is “mentally ill” if he/she mourns the death of a loved one for more than two weeks?

    At the end of the day, psychiatry was, is and will continue to be all about behavioral control. It was wrong when the mind guardians of the day said that homosexuality was a mental illness, and it is wrong when the mind guardians of today say that the behaviors that they themselves dislike are a “mental illness”, even if their most visible representative is gay. It continues to be the same tyranny, even though the targets of their tyranny vary.

  • Agreed with you Duane. I am all for “equal treatment under the law” in the XIV-th amendment sense but I am firmly opposed to “affirmative action treatment for DSM labelled people” which is what these mental health courts, mental health hospital and social workers are.

    All I ask is that I am judged in the same terms before the law as somebody who has not been assigned a DSM label. Ie, that when it comes to the psychiatry, the law gives to it not more deference that the deference it gives to astrology. Being labelled by the APA should have not more bearing than being labelled by the American Astrology Association.

  • Hi Jonah,

    The usage of smileys is because in real life I tend to smile a lot. So this is just to make my comments more reflective of how I am. Needless to say, that I didn’t mean that I was happy that Francesca found herself in that situation. Not at all. The smiley was meant to mean “yeah!, I absolutely defend that no government intervention was warranted even in your case because you had made it clear in no uncertain terms that you didn’t want to be helped”.

    My bottom line is that whatever the reason she found herself in that situation, it seems to me that she had made it crystal clear that she didn’t want to be forcibly drugged/committed when she was committed and that she is using her case to affirm that “potential retrospective validation” is a valid ground for forced drugging/commitment, which is exactly the same argument used by those who favor coercive psychiatry. This issue is really black and white. No amount of wishy washy, appeal to emotion type of argument is going to make me blink. I have said it many times, and I repeat it here: I only care about the abolition of coercive psychiatry. I don’t believe that psychiatry can be reformed. Even if it could be reformed, I would still oppose coercive psychiatry in all cases.

    With respect to my statement, it doesn’t contradict Thomas Szasz in any way, since that was precisely his position: .

    I am not opposed to the concept of behavioral control. There are people who misbehave in society, and society – as long as it is a constitutional democracy that protects individual rights- has every right to deal with those situations. That is the job of the criminal justice system. And since it is understood that this is what the criminal justice system does, ie behavioral control, there are safeguards in place to prevent abuse: lawmakers are accountable to voters, lower court judges themselves are accountable to voters and to review by higher court judges and there is a great deal of case law that protects the rights of criminal defendants. Even with these protections, abuses happen. Psychiatry has an unwarranted prerogative to do the same under lower legal standards to people that DSM committee members find “disordered” and that is plainly wrong. The words “psychiatry” and “abuse” are almost synonymous these days.

    With this clarified, Francesca knows that we agree on many things, but on this one, which is the only thing I care about, we part ways, and that should be OK. I see all criticism of psychiatry as a proxy to abolish coercive psychiatry, which is the only goal I am interested in in the context of psychiatry.

  • “The Boston Globe said mental hospitals were using the infamous “Section 12” clause authorizing emergency involuntary commitments to keep their psychiatric units full of patients at all times. ”

    I didn’t know that the Boston Globe had written about this, but it seems obvious to me that such must be the case everywhere. The same is true of the disease mongering campaigns that psychiatry regularly engages in. Standard medical specialties, like oncology, do not need to do this. Cancer prevalence is what it is, and can be accurately diagnosed via biological tests. Psychiatry is itself a conflict of interests. Its practitioners need to exaggerate and invent diseases because otherwise they would be all unemployed.

  • As a firm believer in capitalism and free enterprise, it was very painful for me to reach the conclusion that Big Pharma’s business is a legal form of organized crime. But it certainly is. And, as Peter points out, the number of people killed by psychotropic drugs each year is way bigger than the number of people organize crime kills every year, at least in the Western World.

    In the defense of free market capitalism, I have to say that Big Pharma companies operate under the oligopoly, corporate welfare model, not true free market. They lobby and create front groups such as NAMI to make sure that no law is approved in Washington regulating the healthcare market that benefits them in one way or another. Crony capitalism is a cancer for the free market, and that Big Pharma can get away with the murderous practices that Peter denounces is the best example of why crony capitalism is bad.

  • “I’m not ready to say that there is no scenario in the entire whole of 7 billion people in which some selective and well-regulated involuntary treatment is not the most humane choice. ”

    Actually, I am 100 % willing to make the statement each and every single one of those 7 billion people deserves the right to refuse forced drugging and refuse incarceration if they have committed no crimes. There are areas in life in which absolutism is warranted, and this is one of them, otherwise one is being an absolutist of the worst kind, the absolutism of believing that every single evil of the world can be justified in “particular circumstances”.

    The protection against government forced “fat camps” if absolute, no exceptions allowed. The protection against the quarantine of gay males who live in urban areas with high risk of HIV infection is also absolute, despite the fact that the US government alone spends 18 billion dollars on HIV programs each year and ~ 15000 people die every year of preventable HIV infection, most of them gay males.

    When it comes to the person you mention, if those threats were credible (ie, the threatening person had the means and the will to carry out the threat), there is already a criminal statute called “criminal threats” or “terrorist threats” on every US state and at the federal level to take care of the situation.

    Let’s not forget that the so called “insanity defense”, and its derivatives, are the other side of the coin of “coercive psychiatry”. The side I have suffered is “we coerce psychiatry onto you for your own good”. The other side is “use psychiatry to get away from the commission of a crime”. Sorry, I happily trade not having access to “insanity defenses” if involuntary commitment/forced drugging statutes are repealed.

  • mjk,

    “You seem to forget that psychiatric incarceration IS behavioral control, and a form of imprisonment. ”

    It is clear from the discussion that under my regime insulting a doctor would not be grounds for incarceration, psychiatric or otherwise, unless society decided to make it illegal to insult doctors (unlikely in the US, really).

    My whole point is that with existing law psychiatrists have an unwarranted prerogative to take away people’s liberty outside the criminal justice system, which has a great deal of safeguards by design. That is plainly wrong.

  • “If involuntary treatment were illegal, I would have just been left rolling around there screaming. Are you sure this is okay with you?”

    Sure It is :D! With rights come responsibilities. When one misuses the freedom that he/she has been given, I think that one has to be willing to accept the consequences.

    “I don’t think it’s consistent to decry all coercion in psychiatry but then to be okay with criminal diversion. Avoiding having a criminal record is a powerful incentive to comply, just as is keeping your housing or government benefits.”

    Once somebody breaks the law, all bets are off. I do not have a problem with people choosing a “psychiatric label” over a “criminal conviction” once they have broken the law. My problem is with psychiatric labeling forced onto people who have committed no crimes.

    “No court would have found my doctors liable in the situation I have described”

    If involuntary commitment and forced drugging were to be made illegal, I can assure you that, at least in the United States, such doctors would be punished. Medical malpractice litigation in the US is a booming business. In fact, with existing law, many psychiatrists have ended up in jail. CCHR has an excellent database with psychiatrists who have been convicted of crimes here This being CCHR, the database is a bit of an exaggeration because it includes convictions for people who committed regular crimes who happened to be psychiatrists, but there are a few cases in which the psychiatrist was convicted for criminal conduct related to abusing the medical/patient relationship.

    “And as for something being good for one but not another, I really can’t imagine another person wanting to continue with the burning hands and feet, drinking herbal tea and waiting for the hypnotist to arrive.”

    Again, surely I can! As I said, my only beef with psychiatry is coercion. The only reason I spend time attacking psychiatry and not other pseudo scientific endeavors like astrology is because psychiatry has the power to destroy lives because of its coercive status.

  • “Yet again, nobody has provided an alternative to involuntary treatment in the situation I have described.”

    This goes back to the “retrospective validation” argument combined with anecdotal evidence that denies free will (what might be good for you, might not be good for somebody else), which, as I said, could be used to force all kinds of paternalistic interventions by government. I can certainly find people who could claim that they would be happily forced into a “fat camp” to lose weight. Said weight loss would probably have all kinds of collateral benefits (lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, etc). Yet, we don’t allow government to do such things. People who want to lose weight can do it voluntarily but government has no say in forcing anybody to lose weight.

    The alternative is clear: you do something that is considered criminal, you get the appropriate punishment as stipulated by the law as anybody who would do the same thing but that would not have been labelled “psychiatric in nature”. You don’t do anything criminal, government doesn’t mess up with your life. Now, a different scenario is if you get a conviction, then I am fine with voluntary diversion programs, which BTW already exist, at least in the US, in situations in which somebody does something stupid under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That is my alternative: all forms of behavioral control should be channeled through the criminal justice system. No crime, no psychiatry (or astrology!).

  • Francesca,

    I don’t think psychiatry can be reformed anymore than I think that astrology can be be reformed. In the history of civilization, the establishment clause of the US constitution was a breakthrough. It’s the idea that people should be free to believe whatever they want to believe but that government has no right to impose any of those beliefs onto anybody. That’s how I see the struggle against psychiatry. The day the threat of coercive psychiatry disappears from my life is the day I will stop considering myself a member of the survivor movement. In the context of psychiatry I only care about the abolition of coercive psychiatry.

  • Andrew (and Francesca),

    Before I elaborate further, I have to make the point that the only reason I am engaged in the psychiatric survivor movement is my absolutist position against involuntary treatment/commitment. I am convinced that all the bad things that psychiatry has done through its history are rooted in its status as a legally form of coercion. This is the reason I am here and the reason I am interested in “psychiatric survivor talk”. If psychiatry didn’t have this status, I wouldn’t care less that some psychiatrist thinks that I am OCD any more than I care whether some astrologist thinks that I am Leo or Cancer and whether my natal chart predisposes me to become X or Y. Psychiatry has not destroyed my life because some psychiatrist thinks that I am OCD, it has destroyed my life because that OCD thing was forced into me through an involuntary commitment/forced drugging process.

    Now, back to your question. Society already determines which people are fully responsible adults and which people are not. It’s called the “age of consent”, which in most Western cases it’s 18 (in some countries, it was 21 some time ago and in the US, depending on the state, it is 18 for some things but 21 for others -like drinking). Not every 18 year old (or 21 year old) is equally mature or equally responsible however one defines “mature” or “responsible”, yet as a society we have decided that such is the case. People who commit crimes as adults, ie, aged beyond the age of consent, are not spared of their punishment just because they were “not mature enough” or “responsible enough”. Even a low IQ cannot spare anybody from punishment.

    Now, things are not that simple in some cases, like people born with learning disabilities but even for those people, it is not an easy thing to take way their rights: .

    If society decides that there has to be a process to take away from people their “personhood” status for whatever reason, temporarily or permanently, then there should be an open public debate about that, the provision should pass through congress, it should be validated by the constitutional court of the land (in the US case the SCOTUS), and then judges should administer that process. The backlash that is likely to follow such a proposal would make it fail, at least in the US.

    Come to the world of psychiatry. With existing law, a psychiatrist has a blanket prerogative to take away that “personhood” status from you using shaky justifications such as a “DSM diagnosis” (I hope that I don’t need to convince anybody here that the DSM is a work of fiction). Judges, for the most part, behave with this type of requests as the FISA court behaves with NSA requests: rubber stampers.

    So in short, unless society decides through the democratic process that personhood can be taken away through the courts, anybody doing something irresponsible should be treated exactly the same way regardless of whether that person has been given a DSM label by some psychiatrist. I do not accept the retrospective validation argument, even if I were to be the only person on Earth who was civilly committed and didn’t like it. The very notion of individual rights is that no matter what the rest of the world thinks about themselves giving up those rights, I still have the right to exercise it. I do not accept the idea that a psychiatrist should decide that I do not deserve to be free even though I have committed no crimes whatsoever. Period, end of the story.

  • Francesca,

    We agree on many things, but certainly not on this one. The whole concept of civil commitment is a travesty. There should be only one way to deprive people of their liberty: the commission of a crime. Everything else should be off limits. Retrospective validation of abuse is not a good argument for me. If we are going to take “potential retrospective validation” as a rationale to implement non criminal paternalistic policies, then we should also,

    – Deprive obese people of their freedom and put them in a “fat camp” to force them to lose weight. I bet that many of these will be happy to have been put in such a setting.

    – Quarantine HIV positive people, especially in areas highly impacted by the epidemic such as gay districts in large cities. I am sure that many gay men would approve a policies that would take out of circulation those who would test positive in hypothetical mandatory monthly tests.

    – Force all those with an addiction problem -be that problem with alcohol, drugs or whatever- on a disintoxication program. Surely many will be retrospectively thankful.

    Government sponsored paternalistic policies, of which involuntary commitment is just an example, have caused untold suffering throughout human history. There is already a tool to deal with people who misbehave: the criminal justice system. In a democratic society, that should be the only way that government should be allowed to use to institute behavioral control. The notion of a psychiatrist, or a group of psychiatrists, who is (are) accountable to none other than himself(themselves) having legally binding power to decide who deserves to have his/her freedom taken away is preposterous and I will fiercely oppose it for as long as I am alive. In this particular matter, I am an absolutist, and I do not accept any compromise whatsoever.

    Paternalism denies the freedom of the individual to make his/her own choices. It puts collectivism and statistical analysis above individual freedom.

  • Big Pharma paying a psychiatrist perceived as a “top expert” to promote Big Pharma goodies? That’s hardly news in the US :D. In fact, one of the biggest blows to psychiatry happened 5 years ago when a US Senate investigation uncovered several high profile cases of psychiatrists involved in doing precisely that. Sadly, nothing happened. The biggest offenders (Biederman, Nemeroff, Keller) received little to none reprimands. Nemeroff was even later given more research money by the NIH. The APA promised to change things but this year psychiatrists were again ranked the biggest recipients of Big Pharma money in the US.

    Ray Moynihan, the guy who authored the hilarious video on Motivational Deficiency Disorder, has written extensively about this matter: . In many countries these payments go unnoticed. Glad to hear that in Denmark there is some control on them even though the end result seems to be no different than what happens here: a few empty words from the governing bodies, but no real change.

  • Hi Olga,

    These numbers are hard to come by and I haven’t seen a single authoritative source that I could trust to get an accurate picture. Torrey’s TAC always exaggerates numbers so it is difficult to give an accurate number.

    What I will say is this: there is a basic requirement that all laws that force people into treatment must meet, namely, that the person for which a court order is sought must be shown to be dangerous with a legal standard known as “clear and convincing evidence” which is a technical name for something that protects people from some psychiatrist saying “I think that the guy is dangerous” as being the only valid reason for forced treatment/commitment. Typically, showing of past violent behavior is required. While this is not a panacea by any means -since in many cases it really protects those with the means to afford independent lawyers-, it makes you immune to abuse as long as you play by the rules, ie, do not do anything that could imply dangerousness. It is still unfair, because those who are not labelled as “mentally ill” are more protected but it is still a higher protection than the “need for treatment” standard that exists in may European countries, including Denmark .

    BTW, that youtube video by Peter Gøtzsche was excellent!

  • “As a matter of interest, here in Denmark according to the National Indicator Project’s 2011 figures, 94% of all ‘schizophrenics’ in Denmark are medicated. I never knew the USA was a potential haven for ‘schizophrenics’ who could be part of an experiment regarding drug free treatment albeit in utter misery according to Videbech.”

    I hate to sound repetitive but people do not appreciate, to quote Ronald Reagan, “how lucky we are” :D. I could so called “escape to the US” to be free from psychiatry. If psychiatry in the US were to become more “European”, there would be no place to escape to, so to speak. Although this speech was meant to be political, it also applies to how different things are seen psychiatry-wise in Europe vs the US . In the US, the idea of the primacy of the individual and his/her rights over government and collectivism is still very popular, which is why it is very important that we win our political battles against psychiatry here.

  • Good piece. And a cautionary tale. Big Pharma and the psychiatric complex are doing what every single such powerful entity that has seen itself threatened does:fight back. They do it smartly, in this case, by infiltrating the opposition. Alltrials risks becoming what NAMI is in the patient space:a front group of Big Pharma that allows them to claim “we are transparent”.

  • How many people have been diagnosed “psychotic”, and therefore “ill”, for believing that the US government was spying on them? In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations about the scope of the NSA operations, I think that many American psychiatrists should ask themselves how many lives they have ruined by labeling “psychotic” many such individuals. Not to mention that some do see psychiatry as a way to impose political ideology .

    Sandra says that in his opinion “mind” and “brain” are the same thing. I beg to differ strongly. And I think that this “belief” that mind and brain are the same thing is the prime reason psychiatry has caused, and continues to cause, so much pain to so many people. The best way to understand this difference is to consider “software” and “hardware” in a computer. In a computer, “hardware runs software”, but software is not the computer running it, even though when a computer runs software, you can certainly see correlates between hardware activity (like billions of transistors of a CPU switching) and software.
    In fact, staying with the NSA story, such correlates are one of the most sophisticated ways to break otherwise theoretically correct cryptosystems .

    But software is not the computer. If you burn a computer that runs Windows, Windows still exists. Even if you were to burn all the computers that run Windows, and burn all the media, like DVDs, that store a copy of Windows, you could still reconstruct it, at least theoretically speaking, from the minds of the people who coded Windows. And even if you were to eliminate these people as well, Windows as an abstract concept would still exist and some other people could in theory reconstruct it. If you eliminate a brain, that brain is gone forever. The majority of people in the world -ie, religious people- believe that the mind continues to live after the death of the brain. I have come to think of government sponsored psychiatry as a violation of the “establishment clause” of the first amendment of the US constitution. The claim that mind = brains, that many psychiatrist believe, is the best example of this violation.

  • Honestly, I don’t think that this name change will do much to decrease stigma. Being seen as having “propensity to psychosis” will actually make things worse. People will constantly second guess whether any statement or action made by the person who has “propensity to psychosis” will be “psychotic”. So, the best solution is to ban all psychiatric labeling, end of the story.

    We have the criminal justice system to deal with those who misbehave, there shouldn’t be a parallel, oppressive system run by psychiatrists to justify they salaries and living.

  • I didn’t think much about this (ie, yet another SSRI lawsuit) until I read the complaint which can be found here .

    Boy! The lawsuit might as well called “antipsychiatry activists vs Pfizer” :D. It contains several themes that should be familiar to everybody around here,

    – That Pfizer promoted the “serotonin deficit theory of depression” even though there is no evidence for it.

    – That the FDA approves this type of drugs with “only two studies”.

    – That trials showed that Zoloft was not more effective than placebo.

    – That Zoloft was promoted via ghostwriting.

    If this goes to trial, and damages are upheld based on the merits, it would be an incredible precedent for future actions.

  • Andrew (and Mark),

    I think that the best analogy that I have come up with to explain the animosity that many of us feel towards psychiatry is sex, not rape but sex. Think about it. Sex can be a great experience if done willingly, with the right person and with “all the information”.

    Now, most complains against psychiatry relate to experiences of coercion (think “rape”, there is no such thing as a “benign rape” experience), unprofessional psychiatrists (like that guy/girl with whom sex was awful) or lack of information about the potential consequences of sex (like that guy/girl with whom you agreed to have sex, the experience in the short term was great but he/she gave you an STD -AIDS in the wost case- and he/she did it hiding information from you).

    Note that this analogy breaks when it comes to the support from society to those who have suffered from psychiatric abuse.

    Society criminalizes rape and knowingly giving somebody STDs, yet it condones coercive psychiatry and knowingly prescribing poisonous drugs and hiding the secondary effects from patients. It’s like some rapist or serial STD transmitter excusing his/her behavior on the victim having had something positive out of the experience. This is how I personally feel when some psychiatrist comes here defending the evils of psychiatry, ie, coercion or knowingly prescribing poisonous drugs to patients who are kept in the dark about the dangerous consequences of these drugs.

    Just as there is very little hope for reform in a serial rapist or a serial STD transmitter, I expect very little from psychiatrists who defend these evil practices of psychiatry. An “ethical psychiatrist” would understand that a great deal of evil has been caused by these practices and would stop defending them. Actually, this is how it usually goes with psychiatrists who have abandoned the dark side. They realize that they have caused a great deal of gratuitous pain to a lot of people and they try to make up for that.

  • “It is precisely Biological Psychiatry’s ability to seize upon and expand on our culture of addiction by promoting its own version of legalized drug pushing, that contributes to creating these negatively labeled symptoms (he has identified) within a very vulnerable section of the population. ”

    This is very true. Cocaine is illegal, but cocaine-like drugs are fine if prescribed to children (Ritalin).

    This should be disturbing to any rational person. Cocaine is bad, so bad that its mere usage is criminalized, if consumed by consenting adults. However it is OK for so called “doctors” to put children on Ritalin. Contradiction anyone?

    I am not even getting into the fact that it has been reliably established that neuroleptics are neurotoxic and that its continued usage damages the brain irreparably. Few so called “illegal drugs” are known to destroy the brain the way neuroleptics do.

    Yes, biological psychiatry is, at this point, beyond repair. I don’t see any hope in the attempts at reforming it. It has to be dismantled by making coercive psychiatry history. People who want to destroy their neurons with psychotropic drugs should be free to do so but nobody should be forced to take these drugs nor should they be presented as “medicines like insulin”. Information about the toxicity of these drugs should be presented to anybody willing to engage in its usage.

  • ” I and cannotsay had that discussion above.”

    Correct. People forget that mistrust of government is a “core” conservative value :D. I see the fact that many conservatives listen to Torrey as the conservative “bumper sticker” response to the “take away people’s guns” of the left. These are convinced that “mental illness” is like “diabetes”. They are first and foremost worried about their guns, not about the so called “mentally ill”.

    People also forget that the Donaldson case was a unanimous case by a court that had a conservative majority. The “conservative” case against government imposed behavioral control on non criminal matters, which is what psychiatry is, is very strong. Note that Dana Perino made the strong case that lowering the bar for civil commitment could let a judge lock up somebody if said judge found that that somebody is a “right wing nut”.

    So sure, if people understood what psychiatry truly is, there would only be a tiny minority of “control freaks” truly supporting it.

  • I agree with Tina what we should aspire to something bigger than Donaldson but also with Ted that Donaldson is something we need to build upon, not to run away from.

    Donaldson is used by scaremongers like Torrey but also by many fair minded allies to refute Torrey. This USA Today editorial rejecting lowering the standard for civil commitment, , uses TAC’s own data and the Donaldson rationale.

    On a more personal note, Donaldson is the prime reason I have peace of mind in the US. I was civilly committed under a “need for treatment” standard, which is prevalent in many European countries. I can tell you that our lives under such regime would not be pretty. We could even be officially censored for advocating against “medical treatment”. So yes, Donaldson is like Plessy v Ferguson but we should build on it, rather than reject it altogether.

    We could accept the “dangerousness” rationale but only if it is applied uniformly, regardless of DSM labels given that psychiatrists are notoriously bad at predicting who and when is likely to become violent.

    But once we accept the “dangerousness” rationale applied regardless of DSM labels, the whole notion of civil commitment becomes irrelevant because we already have the criminal justice system to take care of dangerous people with due process protections. I see highlighting psychiatry’s inability to predict violent behavior as the roadmap to go from Donaldson to the abolition of coercive psychiatry altogether.

    In any case Tina, great job!

  • I think that we need to remind ourselves of the wise words of Ronald Reagan

    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

    I think that you have a great point that it seems to me that the current generation of survivors is living out of the great work that was done in the 1970s to protect us from abuse (those protections, while still not perfect, were hard fought). Now we see that there is a new generation of psychiatrists that needs to be confronted because they are just as hungry about taking away our freedom as previous generations of psychiatrists were, only they do it looking “nicer”.

  • It’s great that you recognize that those of my political persuasion have as much interest in fighting psychiatry as you and those who are left wing.

    Actually, the fact that there are supporters across the political spectrum is a strength that needs to be leveraged because as the old adage in politics go, when the issue crosses partly lines, is when you have possibility of something happening :D.

    Another Fox News personality who has been outspoken against lowering the standard of civil commitment, even in the aftermath of mass shootings and even when repeatedly challenged by Charles Krauthammer is Bill O’Reilly.

    Although his responses were never as assertive as Dana Perino’s above, he replied back with things like “you cannot lock up somebody just because he is weird unless they commit a crime”. Imagine for a second if Bill O’Reilly would open up more assertively about this!

    Charles Krauthammer is a peculiar figure. I tend to agree with his economic prescriptions, but since I learned he was a psychiatrist, and since I have seen him defending the lowering of standard for civil commitment, I cannot stand him anymore. When I see him on TV I have the same bad physiological reaction in my body as when I hear Obama’s voice. So!

  • Ted,

    I am an admirer of your work and I subscribe 99% of what you say. The 1% that I do not subscribe is the idea of being arrested and going to jail :D. We need to be smarter than that because we have the tools in place to fight psychiatric oppression. Although I am personally opposed to gay marriage, I think the way its supporters won their legal battles is the way to go. As you mention, we have the 1975 Donaldson case, which is newer than Roe v Wade, and which, unlike RvW, was unanimous. So that is still the law of the land. We need to build on that to give a final legal -and peaceful- assault to organized psychiatry.

    In that regard, a milestone of gay marriage supporters was to divide the opposition and to win converts from the other side. Many times here, the battle against psychiatric oppression has been presented as a left wing movement. And that is a great mistake. For those of you who don’t watch Fox News, the majority I suppose, I have this gift for you that happened a few days ago (some of it is disgusting to watch but keep it to the end),

    Dana Perino clearly supports our point of view as it is evident to his assertive response to Bolling. Now, Dana Perino is not just your average Fox News personality: . She was George W Bush’s Press Secretary towards the end of the Bush presidency. I don’t really know why she holds those views (I can only hypothesize that she’s seen the evil of psychiatry first hand), but it goes to show that the struggle against psychiatry is strongly bipartisan. We need to leverage that.

    If you create that group, I will sure to join.

  • Let’s be clear: not only in psychiatry, but in other areas of medicine, doctors are the new “priests”. They have the God-like social status that previously clerics had. They also manage a big chunk of the country’s finances (17% of the nation’s GDP), just as monks did during the Middle Ages in Europe. The so called “Old Order” had kings/queens, aristocrats and clerics. In our current order, doctors, especially psychiatrists, play the same role in society as clerics did back then.

    I am not by any means anti MD degree holders (although I am certainly anti psychiatry) but I do think that doctors are granted an unwarranted social status, and power, by our current society. The notion that a guy who has an MD degree -ie a psychiatrist- is given the legal authority to ruin as many lives as he/she wishes to is appalling.

  • I find Allen Frances’ statements problematic on many levels:

    – An anecdote of 35 years ago is hardly the official position of Thomas Szasz’s on the matter. This video from a talk he gave at the CATO institute 10 years ago refutes Frances’ assertion .

    – With no data to back it up, he says “the majority of patients who do well come to recognise the necessity of the intervention and are thankful for the protection it afforded. Advance directives are a useful way to handle the risk of future recurrence”

    I have asked many times for a scientific study that supports that statement, I haven’t gotten any. All I have gotten from different psychiatrists is an anecdotal “in my experience…”. Such a study, to be of any value, would have to eliminate the bias of the captive nature of the relationship psychiatrist/person coerced into psychiatry, which would be hard to do. Ariel Castro is on record saying that while the girls he kidnapped were in captivity “most of the sex that went on in that house, probably all of it, was consensual.” Given that in our current legal regime, psychiatrists’ threat of “coercion” doesn’t end when people get their freedom of the hospital back, any “retrospective validation” of coercive psychiatry should be looked with suspicion.

    – Fundamentally, this is about human rights. Even if such a study was possible, and even if 99.99% of those forcibly treated reach the conclusion that they were happy with the coercion, that should have no bearing on the right of the individual to reject coercive psychiatric treatment in the absence of a crime. It is really this simple. Statistically speaking, being a young black male who is drug user in an inner city is a better predictor of violence than any of the DSM labels. Yet, we do not preemptively lock up every such young black male for what “they might do and to treat them for drug addiction” even if we could have suspicions that said black male might be retrospectively grateful. As Jacob Sullum said “then, too, retrospective gratitude could be used to justify all manner of paternalistic interventions, whether or not they involve a psychiatric diagnosis. If the government began kidnapping obese people and forcing them into a strict diet-and-exercise program, how many newly thin former captives would eventually be thankful for the help? Let’s not find out.”

    At the end of the day, the positioning with respect to coercive psychiatry is what separates those who believe in inalienable human rights and those who don’t.

  • I agree with those who express skepticism about this initiative. Continuing with my analogy to slavery, this is like having slave masters launching a “listen to the slave” type of campaign :D.

    NAMI continues to advocate for the easing of civil commitment / forced drugging rules to “prevent danger”. They cannot have it both ways. If they truly believe what they are saying in this initiative they should stop all their lobbying initiatives that seek to make it easier to abuse us and join us in order to make coercive psychiatry history.

    NAMI has contributed to the stigma surrounding DSM labels more than any other organization outside the APA.

  • Of course I am anti psychiatry! In fact, I never understood what the beef is with the term “anti psychiatry”. It’s like being ashamed of being “anti slavery”. Psychiatry is not scientific, it is an organized system of behavioral control, so of course it has to be opposed!

  • I don’t see things that way at all.

    What you say might have been true 20 years ago, but in our age, 50 % of Americans get their news from the internet . And that’s just the news.

    A 60 minutes story is not nearly as influential as it once was. Also it goes both ways. It’s 1.5 years that 60 minutes aired the story on Irving Kirsch, the story got much more follow up than yesterday’s in media outside CBS, but SSRIs are still over-prescribed.

    Torrey got his 10 minutes of fame but nobody cares. In fact his TAC Facebook page has something like 2500 likes.

    The fragmentation of media has an impact beyond this matter. One of the advantages of the Obama campaign (out of many) over the Romney campaign in 2012 was its media strategy. Money wise, both campaigns spent a similar amount. However, while Romney focused his spending in traditional media, Obama had a more heterogeneous approach, with Google hangouts, appearances in cable shows, etc. To put things in perspective, the first episode of the show “The Bible” at the History Channel earlier this year had higher ratings than yesterday’s 60 minutes.

    The reality is that both the NIMH and the APA are officially distancing themselves from the Torrey program. That’s inevitable. As John Grohol from Psych Central says here: , Torrey’s influence in mainstream psychiatry doesn’t go beyond his forced drugging agenda.

    I have been following the media reaction to the story. Nobody, outside CBS, made any mention to it. Of the 3 stories aired yesterday by 60 Minutes, the one that got the highest follow up by other media, and by a huge margin, was the story on Bill O’Reilly because of his appeal to the Holy Spirit as the inspiration of his books :D. That should tell you that Torrey failed miserably again to gain followers.

  • The numbers are in,

    “60 Minutes” (11.405 million viewers, #4; adults 18-49: 1.5, #T15)

    Although that’s a lot of people, it’s not even 4% of the American people. I haven’t seen anywhere echos of the piece, including my conservative circles where people usually scapegoat on “mental illness” second amendment issues. I think we are good :D.

    I don’t think that the special had the effect its promoters thought was going to have.

    Do not forget either that we also have great allies elsewhere thanks to the great work done by many in the last few years,

  • Agreed that E Fuller Torrey did what psychiatry does best, exploit tragedies to propagandized his ideas.

    However, it’s unlikely that he was seen by 20-30 million people. The average audience for 60 Minutes in 2012 was 12 million. So it is more likely it is half that amount.

    Still no question that we don’t have to underestimate the quacks. Also the presence of Lieberann affirming that schizophrenia is a “brain disease” should convince the most open to dialog with the quacks that psychiatry is not our friend.

  • I just finished watching the segment. It made me sick to my stomach.

    First there was no mention that each and every single one of the mass shooters shown was on drugs.

    Then the “biological” origin of so called “schizophrenia” was presented as a “fact”.

    Anybody who thought that Big Pharma and organized psychiatry were not going to counter this year’s phenomenal attack to psychiatry (including myself) was wrong.

    This documentary was psychiatry at its worst: presenting as fact their invented diseases; threatening of “consequences” for “non compliance”. I think it is time to initiate some kind of writing campaign to 60 minutes for presenting these lies unchallenged.

  • This is just as posturing as the phone call between Obama and Iran’s new president.

    I am not sure that many in the Hearing Voices Movement would agree with Allen Frances’ belief in coercive psychiatry.

    After all, as Eleanor explains, the HVM is all about choice while “coercion” is by definition about imposition. I see very little room for compromise there.

    And while I am at it, coercion is the root of evils in psychiatry. Most survivors of psychiatric abuse couldn’t care less about the ruminations of the psychiatric profession, which is what the DSM reflects, if their lives had not been ruined by the imposition of those ruminations.

  • I am glad you liked it but in fact is nothing but a recycling of Thomas Szasz’s mantra that psychiatry is about “behavioral control”, just put into its right historical context. :D.

    In the context of human rights abuses, it is historically true that mainstream society has always had trouble recognizing the abuses that are ongoing at a given time. That applies to labels of “heresy” but also other. Now people look back to the 1800s and ask how is it possible that black people were slaved and that those who didn’t agree with their condition were given diagnoses of “drapetomania” for seeking freedom. Yet most people today have no problem accepting the opinion of a psychiatrist bashing so called “bipolar” or “schizophrenic” people (whatever those terms mean) on public TV. Mainstream society has also no problem assimilating the notion that leaving “these people” untreated would result in dangerous consequences. I assume that 100 years from now, if our democracy survives, people will look back and ask themselves how was it possible that these people were labeled, forcibly committed and forcibly drugged. And I am also sure that at that time there will also be other human rights abuses ongoing that people will have no problem accepting as “normal”.

  • The word “heretic” is accurate in so many ways that it is difficult to make justice in a few sentences although I will try.

    In the Western World, the word “heretic” came to prominence through its usage by several Christian Churches to label those who deviated from religious orthodoxy. The best known example of a systematic persecution of “heretics” by a religious tribunal is of course the Inquisition Tribunal established by the Roman Catholic Church, however, it was far from being the only one: .

    Now, fast forward to the XXI-1st century and we have our own version of those religious tribunals: the members of the DSM committees, who decide “who is normal” and “who isn’t” based solely on their subjective opinion. They then write the DSM, which is rightly called “the Bible of psychiatry”, that is used by “lower religious courts” everywhere to impose the behavioral orthodoxy on society. These “lower religious courts” are of course the Psychiatry Departments at our nation’s hospitals.

    The word “heretic” to refer to somebody who rebels against the arbitrary imposition of a religious reality, in this case psychiatry, is 100% pertinent. So yes, I am a proud psychiatric heretic as well!

  • Thanks for your kind words and great work.

    I found the videos (see my other comment). In the Q&A section the questions are missing but can be inferred from the answers. That German psychiatrist looked intimidated that “the secret was out”. His rebuttals were nonsensical, like that appeal that in treatment with SSRIs, the drugs were just a component, which if anything, gives even more validity to the notion that SSRIs are just active placebos.

  • Outstanding post, especially point #5 because it touches me deeply. As a condition to getting out from my civil commitment in that European country that shall remain nameless, I had to agree to the proposition that I had a medical imbalance in my brain that needed to be corrected with serotonin altering drugs and neuroleptics that “amplified the effect of SSRIs”. I kept asking for what “amplification” meant, and the only answer I got was “amplification means amplification” :D.

    I am curious about your debate with the European psychiatrist. Any chance that it was taped and made available in the internet?

  • Again, several points :D:

    – It might be the case there is more commonality than difference here, especially with respect to coercive psychiatry. It seems that we are both on the same page about not condoning coercive psychiatry (and in fact denouncing it). If that is the case, then we are in agreement with the only issue I care about psychiatry in general: the abolition of coercive psychiatry.

    – Having said that, I do agree that people do endure mental distress. It has never been my position that mental distress doesn’t exist or that it doesn’t cause suffering. My point is that what the DSM calls “mental distress” is only the opinion of a bunch of guys who say “that pattern of behavior is pathological because we say so”. It’s an opinion that should not have any more bearing than somebody else’s opinion. The fact that the guys of the APA have an MD degree shouldn’t be used to give any more credence to determining which behaviors are pathological and which behaviors aren’t.

    – From that point of view, what Mr Schwartz’s thinks is to me, an opinion, which is not more or less worthy than the opinion of a different mind guardian. I dislike though his language of making appeals of “dangerous thoughts” because that is the language used by defenders of forced interventions whether he defends involuntary commitment or not.

    – The notion that Howard Hughes would have benefited from Mr Schwartz’s proposals is again an opinion and should not be given any more value than that. When we start to make definitive statements about person X will benefit from treatment Y from mind guardian Z, we open the door to the paternalism that justifies all kinds of forced interventions by government. As Jacob Sullum brilliantly said here “retrospective gratitude could be used to justify all manner of paternalistic interventions, whether or not they involve a psychiatric diagnosis. If the government began kidnapping obese people and forcing them into a strict diet-and-exercise program, how many newly thin former captives would eventually be thankful for the help? Let’s not find out.”. All sort of evils have been perpetrated in history under the excuse of “doing good”.

    – Finally, I do not believe in any kind of forced intervention by the state on psychiatric matters. None, as in NONE. All I am asking is that given that psychiatry claims to be “just another medical specialty” that it is given the same deference as other medical specialties by our legal system. Chemotherapy cannot be imposed to unwilling cancer patients. HAART cannot be imposed to HIV positive people. Psychiatry cannot have it both ways. If it is “just another medical specialty”, it should have the same legal status as the others, and that would involve the abolition of coercive psychiatry. If it wants to keep its coercive status, then it is clearly not “just another medical specialty” and as such, it should be treated differently from other medical specialties.

  • Donna,

    You have made several points that need to addressed individually:

    – First, I do not intend to intimidate anyone nor I have received any feedback that my comments in this entry were intimidating to anybody. If you felt intimidated, I am sorry, but that was not my intention at all.

    – Second, the reason I use homosexuality as a way of arguing that a diagnosis of OCD, or of any other DSM invented label for that matter, is totally irrelevant to a person’s well being is because homosexuality is a very clear example of a label that was used in the very recent past, and I provided a Mike Wallace documentary as evidence, in the same way today psychiatrists use schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD or whatever to justify medicalization of otherwise naturally occurring behavior. People born in the 50s have seen homosexuality described in the same terms as Schwartz describes OCD in the above video by “respected psychiatrists” (whatever that means) to have homosexuality decriminalized to have gay marriage recognized in many US states and at the federal level. I could have used past examples of psychiatric travesties, like Drapetomania or female Hysteria, but homosexuality is a very recent one for which the “psychiatric consensus” has changed dramatically in 40 years as to how “dangerous” homosexuality is or whether homosexuality is a mental illness in the first place. What sets homosexuality apart as well is that it fits the “reliability” requirement that most DSM diagnosis do not. There is also a lot studies done on the possible biological origin of it, at least in part, with identical twin studies. So here we have a “pattern of behavior” whose definition is 100% reliable, that is known to have some biological origin of sorts that until very recently was considered a disease just because self appointed APA mind guardians said so. With the Voice Hearing Movement and stories like Eleanor Longden’s we are probably assisting to a similar shift in the whole concept of schizophrenia to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised if in a future edition of the DSM (if the DSM is not killed earlier), voice hearing alone might not warrant a “mental illness” diagnosis anymore.

    – Third, Mr Schwartz, or any other psychiatrist for that matter, doesn’t appeal to possible consequences of leaving OCD so called “untreated” gratuitously. Psychiatry is a so called “medical specialty” that is onto itself a conflict of interest. That, among other things, sets psychiatry apart from other medical specialties. If you are the director of a big research hospital, like say MGH, and are doing your planning on the needs for doctors in the next 5 years, for normal diseases you have it easy, you just need to measure the prevalence of particular conditions, like cancer or infectious diseases, in the area that the hospital serves, then take into account population growth, retirements, etc and you get a pretty good idea of how many doctors you need to hire for a particular specialty. Psychiatry is different. The very existence of a psychiatric department depends on psychiatric labeling, which is not biologically based, and in the idea of “need to treat” those labels. This is why psychiatrists have a tendency to exaggerate the consequences of leaving their invented diseases “untreated” and why every time that you have a tragedy like this week’s in DC Key Opinion Leaders go on TV warning people of the consequences of leaving label X untreated. If leaving so called “OCD” untreated was as dangerous as Schwartz suggests and if only 1% of people who exhibit OCD became that dangerous, we’d have 30000 pretty dangerous people in circulation. As it so happens, with OCD but also so called “schizophrenia” or “voice hearing”, we have free will. Not everybody who hears voices urging them to do bad things end up doing them (in fact the vast majority who do hear such voices do not). Similarly, having OCD thoughts onto itself is not as dangerous as Schwartz makes it look like.

    – Fourth, as I have explained numerous times, my abuse happened in a European country where psychiatrists enjoy the type of power to civilly commit somebody that was the norm in the US until a series of US Supreme Court decisions in the US made it illegal except for cases where there is “dangerousness”. This is another reason why psychiatrists continuously appeal to “dangerousness” because under US law “a State cannot constitutionally confine without more a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by himself or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends”.

    Final point. I don’t think that there are any DSM labels that are more justified than others. All of them are fraudulent labels that have no biological justification to call them “illness” in the sense cancer is a biological illness. While some people might find solace in learning that their particular pattern of behavior is found also in other people, that should not be used as an excuse to label, demean or dehumanize anybody. Statistically speaking, I think I could find a lot of commonality in behavioral patterns among young blacks living in inner cities, including a very high probability of ending up in jail. We do not call these blacks victims of “living in an inner city” or preemptively lock them up to reduce violence. That is my whole point with OCD or any other DSM label in those cities. A pattern of behavior alone, that is not criminal, should not be treated as if it it was criminal or “potentially criminal”. And this is also why the conversation with homosexuality is relevant. The vast majority of the pedophilia scandals that were covered up by the Catholic Church, though not all, were homosexual in nature. Does this mean that all homosexuals are potential pedophiles? Not at all. Same thing happens with OCD, schizophrenia, voice hearing or whatever.

  • I don’t think I have narrow standards. Certainly, they are not narrower than the homosexuals of 1967 that watched that video from Mike Wallace and felt, rightly so, offended. Let me copy/paste a portion of your comment, and replace OCD with homosexuality,

    “program addresses along with other thoughts that could become dangerous if a person does not get them under control through his own will through such programs described here. But, Dr. Schwartz is convinced that such person can change such thoughts that may be dangerous to themselves and others, but this was only a minor comment in the whole program at the end based on a question by the interviewer.

    I think your knee jerk comments attacking Dr. Schwartz and his great work are very unfair to others suffering from homosexuality and other compulsions/addictions since so many have benefited greatly from his work. Dr. Schwartz is known to be a world renowned expert on homosexuality based on his best selling book, Brain-Lock.”

    I don’t suffer from “OCD” anymore than a gay person suffers from “homosexuality”. And just as I could bring some extreme cases of homosexuals that prey on children to justify the harsh words that that 1967 psychiatrist had about the dangers of leaving homosexuality “untreated” I can bring extreme cases of any DSM invented label.

    Reasoning by “extremes” or “anecdotes”, which is what Mr Schwartz and most mainstream psychiatrists do, is the prime reason stigma exists. Now, the problem with Mr Schwartz and the like is that they cannot have it both ways. The prevalence of OCD is estimated at 1%. That would be 3 million of Americans that could become dangerous is left so called “untreated”.

    In case it is not clear this far, let me be more explicit. I am happy with what the DSM describes as OCD, just as Eleanor Longden and other voice hearers are happy with their voices and most gays are happy with their homosexuality. So called “OCD” has served me well in life.
    Now the reason I was abused by psychiatry is because some psychiatrist said to a judge that if my so called “OCD” was left “untreated” I was destined to become homeless in less than one year. Guess what, several years later, free from psychiatry, I make more money than ever, and I enjoy the highest standard of living I have ever had. The prediction of that psychiatrist, just as most catastrophic predictions made by psychiatrists about individual people, turned out to be wrong. Very wrong.

    The idea that every (or even most) people who exhibit so called “OCD” behavior is destined to become homeless or engage in dangerous behavior is preposterous. With a pool of 3 million people, and just 1% of them being dangerous, the news would be full of the “dangerous things” done by 30000 “OCD sufferers”.

    Mr Schwartz contributes to the stigma that exists around so called “mental illness”, and so called “OCD” in particular, and that has to be denounced.

  • Honestly guys,

    I just watched that video with the Jeffrey Schwartz interview.

    Needless to say, I found the interview disgusting, just as I found the trailer of that movie they mention, Machine Man, equally disgusting. The main reason stigma exists is because of people like Jeffrey Schwartz and that movie. After watching both, if I didn’t know better, I would make sure to stay as away as possible from people who suffer a “debilitating disease” that is causing them to have “dangerous thoughts”. Jeffrey Schwartz’s “you are not your brain” message begins by saying that so called “OCD” is a brain disease.

    There are people who have been given an OCD label who have dangerous thoughts, so what? Aren’t there a lot of homosexuals who are also pedophiles and sexual predators? In 1967, Mike Wallace did an special for CBS on homosexuality. You have a recap version here . The terms in which homosexuality is described there, especially during the first 2 minutes, is no different from the terms “OCD” is shown in those two videos. The psychiatrist who bashes homosexuals around minute 1:22 sounds no different than Jeffrey Schwartz when he speaks about OCD.

    Just as a lot of MIA readers were sympathetic to the phenomenon of voice hearing after watching Eleanor Longden’s great talk, I hope you guys understand that there is also meaning in what psychiatrists describe as OCD.

    In my own case, this ability to obsess with certain issues has served me well. I never give up even when I face what for most people would be “insurmountable obstacles”. It’s how I managed to enjoy my current American life making a living out of being highly educated, despite growing up in an environment where very few people went to college in the first place, or what makes me be engaged in this struggle against psychiatry.

  • Corinna,

    I left a few opinions in that website, was contacted by Mike Shafarenko that I should leave my opinions with my real name. When I replied that I could not do that given my condition of survivor of psychiatric abuse, all my comments, and the replies that I got, were removed without further explanation from here . Honestly, that website seems to be more interested in partnering with NAMI, which doesn’t need any introduction here, to make it easier for so called “mentally ill” access “treatment”, ie, drugs, than anything else.

    Obamacare was approved with the support of Big Pharma. Now the US government is paying back its debts to them with initiatives like this.

  • It is. The first line of so called “treatment” is clomipramine (an old TCA that has more side effects that you can possibly imagine) or SSRI, then “augmentation” with neuroleptics. I kept asking the psychiatrist what “augmentation” meant, but he said “augmentation means augmentation”. Go figure :D.

    In my case I was put first put on risperidone and then, after I developed dyskinesia, I was put on onlanzapine.

    Other than the classic criticisms to psychiatry, this study is suspicious on many levels, including the very small sample size, that all the so called “patients” were on drugs anyway and that only risperidone was tested against CBT, which happens to be manufactured by J&J.

    “Amazingly”, the neuroleptic in vogue, onlanzapine, manufactured by Eli Lilly was not tested against. If you take a look at the conflict of interests, the design of the trial makes perfect sense :D.

  • Also from the article,

    “Conflict of Interest Disclosures: During this study, in addition to medication at no cost from Janssen Scientific Affairs LLC, Dr Simpson received research funds from Transcept Pharmaceuticals (2011-2013) and Neuropharm Ltd (2009), served on a scientific advisory board for Pfizer (for Lyrica, 2009-2010) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals (for Luvox CR [controlled release], 2007-2008), and received royalties from Cambridge University Press and UpToDate Inc. Dr Foa was a consultant to Jazz Pharmaceuticals (for Acetelion), and she receives royalties from Bantam and Oxford University Press for book sales, including a manual of cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD. Dr Liebowitz received research funds from pharmaceutical companies (Abbott, Allergan, AstraZeneca, Avera, Forest, Cephalon, Endo, Gruenthal, GlaxoSmithKline, Horizon, Indevus, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Lundbeck, MAP, Novartis, Ortho-McNeil, Pfizer, PGX Health, Purdue Pharma, Sepracor, Takeda, Tikvah, and Wyeth), consulted (to AstraZeneca, Avera, Eisai, Lilly, Otsuka, Pfizer, Pherin Pharmaceutical, Takeda, Tikvah, and Wyeth), presented talks or posters (for Pherin Pharmaceutical, Pfizer, and Wyeth), has equity ownership in Pherin Pharmaceutical, ChiMatrix LLC (ended 2011), and the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, and has licensing software for the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale for Avera, Endo, GlaxoSmithKline, Indevus, Lilly, Pfizer, Servier, and Tikvah. Dr Hahn received research funds from Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and AstraZeneca. No other disclosures were reported.

    Funding/Support: This study was funded by National Institute of Mental Health grants R01 MH045436 (Dr Simpson) and R01 MH45404 (Dr Foa). Medication was provided at no cost by Janssen Scientific Affairs LLC.

    Role of the Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.”

    It is very suspicious that most of the authors have conflict of interests with manufacturers of SSRIs. The neuroleptic tested is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, which only shows up in the list once, and only as one among the many companies Dr Liebowitz has received money from.

    I wonder why nobody tested against olanzapine or seroquel. Maybe the actual goal of this study is to put risperidone out of the OCD market?

    This study looks highly suspicious given the long list of authors with links to manufacturers of SSRI/SRIs.

  • As a “victim” of an OCD label (and the consequences of that label), I have to ask, because I haven’t seen it in the study. What variant of “OCD” are they taking about :D?

    Honestly, for somebody like me who was labelled as “OCD” for fearing HIV/AIDS, all these studies are nonsensical. Fear of HIV doesn’t come from an imbalance in serotonin (which is what SSRIs target) or dopamine (which is what neuroleptics target) but from having grown up during the 80s watching on TV horror stories of scores of people dead of HIV infection. In my neighborhood there was a guy rumored top have HIV/AIDS and he scared the hell out of me when I crossed path with him.

    Now, just as it happens with other fears, like fear of flying, not everybody has the same degree of fear, or reacts the same way, to the things he/she fears most.

    In the case of the HIV infection, the leaders of Cuba during the 80s seemed to have the same level of fear that I have because they implemented a quarantine policy that turned out to be extremely effective in containing the HIV epidemic in Cuba. To this day, Cuba remains one of the countries with the lowest HIV prevalence worldwide .

    To be clear, I am not defending that the US adopts a Cuban policy with respect to HIV/AIDS. All I am saying that that to call exaggerated fear of HIV/AIDS “OCD” is preposterous. It is yet another invented label which serves no purpose other than stigmatizing those whose fear of HIV/AIDS is beyond what the medical establishment finds “appropriate”.

  • In the same vein, these ideas are the prime reason that I believe that a legal strategy against psychiatry based on the violation of the Establishment Clause ( ) of the first amendment should have a very high change of making it to the US Supreme Court, especially in the aftermath of the Insel initiated crisis.

    Since psychiatry is basically an unscientific belief system, its adoption by government is, without a doubt, a violation of the first amendment even in cases of non coercive psychiatry. With psychiatry, our government is affirming the veracity of a particular religion and promoting it.

  • Hi Corinna,

    Hope you get better soon!

    I don’t read your #1 that way (and it is not a problem with the English language :D). Your point #1 says that the measure “avoids a repeat of negative experiences based on coercion and force”. It doesn’t say that coercive psychiatry should be abolished, which is why I made that point.

    If you find coercive psychiatry acceptable in some cases, that’s legitimate, but I do not agree with that stance.

  • Agreed with the spirit of this op-ed, but not that much with the language or the rhetorical devices used herein. In a US context, the Tea Party groups have been more effective affecting change than any of the Occupy groups ever was. While the Tea Party got its people in the US Congress and other legislative bodies, the Occupy movement became to be known for this .

    Survivors will only be successful abolishing coercive psychiatry if they adopt non violent, legal ways of affecting change. In that regard, the way gay marriage reached the Supreme Court presents a much more appealing blueprint (even though I disagree with the notion of the SCOTUS imposing gay marriage over the expressed will of the people).

    I think that recruiting top notch lawyers to challenge coercive psychiatric laws all around the country is more likely to result in the type of change that most survivors want than appeals to civil disobedience. In other words, we need more people like Jim Gottstein.

  • I think it should be mentioned somewhere that coercive psychiatric practices should be abolished. I have yet to meet a single psychiatric survivor that justifies coercive psychiatry.

    Maybe I haven’t talked to enough survivors or something, but certainly ignoring the fact that all evils in psychiatry lie in its status as a legally sanctioned coercive force is to ignore the big elephant in the room.

    By “coercion” I don’t mean only the two most obvious issues: civil commitment and forced drugging. I mean that a psychiatrist’s opinion has bearing in legal proceedings both civil (like divorce battles) and criminal.

    There are plenty of non scientific disciplines whose “alleged” efficacy is in the same range as psychiatry’s: astrology, homeopathy, acupuncture or “nutrition based” approaches. Some, like homeopathy, include the use of medications. However, none of those specialties has an organized group of survivors against it. The same is true of other “official branches” of medicine.

    The main differentiator between astrology, oncology, immunology, acupuncture, nutrition or cardiology AND psychiatry is that psychiatry can be legally imposed into innocent victims while none of the other can (regardless of whether they are recognized as scientific-like oncology- or pseudo scientific -like homeopathy).

    Some people might aspire to a better “psychiatry”, whatever that means, but any honest conversation about this matter should begin by acknowledging that everything that is wrong with psychiatry lies in its coercive powers.

  • I think that you are bing too charitable to Big Pharma. The idea that Big Pharma is going to abandon an 80 billion dollar a year market (since most revenues come from drugs on patent) just because its development is “difficult” is preposterous on its face. It defies the motto by which most big businesses are driven: maximization of profit while complying with the laws of the countries in which they operate. Very few big businesses take the high, ethical road. Some, like Google, do both: in the US it helps the NSA, in China it refused to collaborate with censorship.

    The main reason, I think, that big pharmaceutical companies are abandoning the development of psychiatric drugs is the toll that the multibillion dollar settlements are having on the perception of Big Pharma as a corrupt industry and, more importantly, the concern that some big pharma executive might end up in jail if they continue in a business driven by an intellectually corrupt specialty: academic psychiatry. In those other areas, like cancer, there are objective quantitative tests to show that Big Pharma drugs are effective. It’s really a loss of revenue for KOLs in psychiatry, which is why you read these KOLs lamenting the situation.

  • I feel lucky that this never happened to me, in spite of having been on maximum dosage of escitalopram, clomipramine and sertraline.

    The side effects that I experienced were physiological (kidney, liver malfunction, elevated cholesterol levels, feeling sleepy most of the time, to the point of having to take dextroamphetamine (Adderall to stay awake, etc). And of course, I went through my share of withdrawal symptoms when I stopped the drugs cold turkey.

    And yet, I feel that this part of the psychiatric scam is not told enough. What I find even more strange is that a Google search gives plenty of results published online about reports of people who became violent or did despicable things while under the influence of SSRIs or neuroleptics. So the online world is full of these references published by respected news sources (CNN, FoxNews, the New York Times, you name it) while if you watch these same media -case of CNN or Fox-, you get the opposite message, namely, that these drugs are “safe” and that they “help” the majority of people taking them. The disconnect is astonishing.

    The most plausible explanation that I have found to this divergent editorial stance of online vs TV media is the money that comes from direct to consumer advertising from Big Pharma that goes primarily to TV. TV editors are reluctant to attack the hand the feeds the companies they work for. It’s a prime example of conflict of interest: these editors are renouncing their roles as journalists for the sake of profits.

  • Nev,

    Due to time constrains, I haven’t been following this thread this week, so I have missed a lot of what has been going on. However, I feel I need to respond to the following, beyond what others have,

    “Reactionary anti-intellectualism (including gross over-generalizations about “research”, psychopharmacology, etc.) strikes me as deeply counterproductive. Whitaker’s books hinge on “scientific” evidence, as do alternatives such as Open Dialogue, and I’m honestly at a loss as to understand why anyone who cares about the issues would not want to engage, deeply and thoughtfully, with the insights and shortcomings of the existing research literature.”

    As I said in previous interventions, I have a doctoral degree in hard science from one of America’s top universities. So I take a lot of issue with this idea that criticizing psychiatry along the lines that Whitaker, or many others have, is in any way “anti-intellectual”.

    In my own field, we take scientific claims seriously. There is no room for theories that cannot pass repeatedly falsifiable tests or whose best support is “I know a guy who tells me that theory X is true”. What differentiates science from other areas of human knowledge is its ability to make these falsifiable, and quantifiable, predictions. This is why planes fly 100% of the time (instead of whenever the pilot feels like the plane is going to fly). Ditto of cars. The computers that hold your bank account are also accurate 100% of the time (despite being built with billions of nano devices which are designed with the laws of quantum mechanics, subject themselves to random effects). The same applies to other medical disciplines where diagnoses are made via accurate biological testing such as immunology or oncology. HIV infection remains an incurable disease (for now), but we have accurate tests to determine not only whether an individual is infected, but also to measure the predicted effects of HIV infection (viral count, CD4 count, etc). The same is true when it comes to oncology and its ability to measure cancerous cells.

    If psychiatry claimed to be a “theory of living” like a religion, I think that it would not receive the type of criticism it does. However, it claims to be a “scientific discipline” akin to other scientific disciplines. When one makes that claim, one has to be able to submit the claim to strict scientific scrutiny. Psychiatry doesn’t have any falsifiable predictive claim that has withstood that scrutiny, which is why it is regularly attacked. Take for instance the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression that even mainstream psychiatrists don’t take seriously anymore despite the fact that serotonin altering psychotropics are the most widely prescribed class of psychotropic drugs. For many decades, psychiatry claimed that so called “depression” (which onto itself is a term that cannot be quantified beyond the HRSD) was caused by a deficit of serotonin in the synaptic gap. When psychiatry was asked “what is the right range of serotonin in the brain like we know the right range of cholesterol levels in blood”, psychiatry said “I do not know”. OK, then why do you claim that so called “depression” is caused by a deficiency in serotonin? Psychiatry said, because study X shows that SSRIs improve HRSD ratings in clinical trials. Without getting into the discussion that ibuprofen also is shown to alleviate pain and nobody claims that pain is caused by a deficiency of ibuprofen, there is the fact that SSRE (selective serotonin reuptake enhancers) seem to have the same effect on HRSD scores, even though they decrease the serotonin levels in the brain (ie, they do the opposite of what SSRIs do). And while we are at it, there is also the fact that even placebos have a similar effect for most people in HRSD ratings (as shown by independent meta-analysis by EH Turner and Irving Kirsch both published at respected scientific venues).

    This depression/serotonin unscientific association is not an isolated case but it is the most studied one because SSRIs is the most prescribed class of psychotropic drugs.

    With the evidence at hand, biopsychiatry is as valid a theory as claiming that so called “mental disorders” are caused by unicorns that live in Mars that send powerful waves to Earth when they get sexually aroused -said waves would interfere with some people’s brains causing them “mental disorders”. Nobody has seen those unicorns, just as nobody has provided a single biomarker to back any of psychiatry’s invented diseases. The latter fact has been recently acknowledged by two of the most influential leaders in so called “mental health”: Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and David Kupfer, the chairman of the DSM-5 task force.

    Some very credentialed scientists have gone as far as to calling medical psychiatry a scam, . Jerry Coyne is a highly credentialed professor of biology who can boast several publications in science’s two most prestigious publications: Nature and Science. He also happens to be a very prominent atheist and defender of evolution. I doubt he can be accused of “anti intellectualism”, which is a word used in the US by many in the media to refer to those who believe in intelligent design, etc.

    The real scandal is, in my opinion, that a discipline that is clearly unscientific has a higher legal status than truly scientific disciplines when it comes to impose itself onto innocent victims by way of involuntary commitment and so called “treatment”.

    Our courts do not allow doctors to impose HAART onto newly diagnosed HIV patients against their will (even though the consequences for the public health of HIV positive people not being medicated can be severe). The same is true for cancer patients and chemotherapy or heart patients and say heart transplants.

    Coercive psychiatry is, in my opinion -and as long as it remains an unscientific belief system- a violation of the first amendment of the US constitution. From where I stand, the APA is a hate group which goes around labeling people’s behavior as “pathological” just because DSM members say so. History has strange ways of correct abuses and I have no doubt in my mind that this abuse, coercive psychiatry, will go to the ash heap of history with other pseudo scientific endeavors like eugenics.

    Until that happens, denouncing psychiatry’s pseudoscience and abuses is the right thing to do both intellectually, and just as importantly, morally.

  • Thanks for your kind words Anonymous.

    You, Jonah and Duane (no offense meant to the others) are the three people I most often find myself in agreement with. And you, in particular, I think that are one of the most articulate defenders of our shared view that indeed, coercive psychiatry is as black and white as the opposition to rape, slavery or racists laws is.

    In my view, there is no room for compromise with those who believe that they have a right to deprive us (by us I mean those who have been labeled by the DSM) of our freedom even though we have committed no crimes. No room at all.

  • Sera,

    It’s been a long time since I reached the conclusion that we cannot achieve any significant things by “talking” to the other side. By “the other side”, I mean the side that defends mainstream psychiatry. We are well past that point. The other side is happy in keeping things at the “talking” or “conversation” level.

    They will continue advertising the pseudo science of psychiatry and the threats of what happens when “psychiatric illness” is left so called “untreated”.

    The other side is well aware of the limitations of psychiatry. It just doesn’t care. Take for instance a look at Allen Frances’ Op-Ed in the same TED weekends section. It is a prime example of the mindset I talked about (with the aggravating circumstances that Allen Frances is one of the few who dares to air these things openly and in public). On one side he recognizes that,

    “Schizophrenia is most certainly not a unitary disease. Its symptom presentation is very variable and there will likely be hundreds of different underlying causes. Indeed, the term ‘Schizophrenia’ is confusing, stigmatizing, and has probably outlived is usefulness.”

    You’d say, WOW, he admits that? Before giving you time to get excited, he goes on to say,

    “But the concept of schizophrenia still remains necessary and is no myth, as claimed by Thomas Szasz and his followers.”

    Even though, in a recent post he, for the first time since I have been reading his columns, he went on to say,

    “At the time I loved my work on that terribly flawed unit and thought I was helping people and learning a lot. It was only later when I had gathered much greater experience in the wider world of psychiatry and life that I realized I was also hurting people and learning a lot of the wrong things.”

    So here is a man who,

    – Is aware that DSM labels are constructs that are not backed by biology

    – That many, if not all, of those constructs might be caused by people’s reactions to personal circumstances that have nothing to do with “medical issues”

    – Is aware that imposing the notion that schizophrenia as a “medical problem” has resulted in he himself harming individual people (beyond his role of chairman of the DSM-IV taskfoce).

    Still, he considers the current paradigm of psychiatry worthy and deserving of improvement because “done well” helps a lot of people. Nevermind that the cumulative data says otherwise (from the CDC numbers on the increase in suicide rates to the different studies that speak of bad secondary effects experienced by people taking psychiatric drugs).

    In a way, it doesn’t come as a surprise that those who believe in pseudo science, as Allen Frances does, are not persuaded when the data contradicts their pseudo science. They would not be practicing pseudo science if they believed in science in the first place!

  • Morias,

    You are basically defending appeasement.

    Appeasement against evil forces has never worked. There are just too many numerous examples that prove beyond reasonable doubt that the only valid course of action when confronting evil is to reaffirm assertively, but calmly, one’s position.

    Bob did nothing illegal. Should he be sued (unlikely because any respected lawyer would advise the angry mom against taking such action), the case would provide those in our movement a great opportunity to restrict psychiatry even further. The matter that the court would try to settle would be whether Bob’s findings are backed by science (they are) and whether NAMIs/the APA mantra of “permanent medication” is a protocol backed by scientific evidence (it is not). So if I were in Whitaker’s position, and I had the financial resources to fight back I would say “bring it on!”. The APA/NAMI/Angry mom would lose the lawsuit and with it, probably, there would be even more legal restrictions to the psychiatric profession, something like the obligation by psychiatrists to disclose that scientific research backs alternatives to regimes of “permanent drugging”. These people are smarter than this.

    The “angry mom”/TAC thing is just an experiment designed to test Bob’s resilience.

    If I was Bob, I would probably be more worried about anything that they could bring back from his past that could be used to smear him, as it happened to Glenn Greenwald after he published the NSA stories .

    Keep it up Bob. We could organize a fundraising effort for your defense if it came to that.

  • Bob,

    You have my full support here.

    I think that what is really happening is that many in mainstream psychiatry have become alarmed that the word is finally getting out and they see their salaries threatened.

    One of the few psychiatrists who spoke at the Occupy the APA even this year said very candidly that the vast majority of psychiatrists are well aware of these issues, but that there were many people’s livelihoods at stake with the current model.

    I also think that this whole “blood in your hands” affair -including the attack from that TAC organization- might be a teaching moment for all in the Mad In America community.

    If somebody like you, who has a very mild position when it comes to the role of medications in people’s mental well being, can be so viciously attacked just for presenting for the general public hard scientific data that speaks of a failed system, what hope can there be to reform psychiatry as it is currently practiced?

  • I beg to differ that there is any relationship whatsoever between gun control and suicide rate. This is the data: . The only thing that the countries that rank higher in that list have in common is precisely strict gun control laws. China is ranked 7. Its suicide rate is almost twice that of the US even though China’s guns per capita is 0.05 (vs close to 1 for the US). France’s suicide rate is 22% higher than the US’ even though France’s ownership rate is one third that of the US: .

    If people want to advocate for gun control, I think that it is a legitimate position. But to do it in the context of discussing ways to reduce suicides is intellectually dishonest.

  • NAMI has a lot of lobbying power when it comes to public policy. Its recommendations have a lot of weight, especially at the state level, which is where most of the issues relating to the intersection of mental health and the law are decided. NAMI has lobbied US wide so that states adopt laws that make it easier to put people on forced drugging regimes (the equivalent, with some minor differences, to the UK’s CTOs). They call it outpatient commitment. Only 5 US states are now free of this type of laws; that’s largely the result of the work that NAMI has done at the state level.

    They also lobby for the lowering of the civil commitment standard from “dangerousness” to “need for treatment” (ie, whenever some psychiatrist thinks it to be necessary). They say that judges should not make “medical decisions”. The majority of NAMI’s money continues to come from Big Pharma.

    Now, whether individual NAMI volunteers are well meaning do-gooders who are unaware of the policies that NAMI publicly advocates for is, from my point of view, irrelevant. NAMI is the third leg of the psychopharmacological industrial complex in the US, the other two being Big Pharma and the APA.

    The current appalling status of psychiatry is due to Big Pharma, mainstream psychiatrists (these are represented by the APA) and those family members/patients who blindly believe in biopsychiatry. The latter are represented by NAMI.

  • I agree with your last paragraph. That is, in my view, a much realistic roadmap for change to come out a dialog with particular NAMI people. Not that NAMI is going to change, because Big Pharma has still a lot of influence in the organization, but its ranks might shrink because individual, and influential, people inside it abandon NAMI to join forces with the critics of the current paradigm.

    Those who underestimate not only the strength, but also their ability to mount an effective counter attack, of the defenders of the current paradigm -the APA, NAMI, Big Pharma, etc- do it at their own peril. At the same time, I do believe that change is possible but I do not believe it will come from Kumbaya moments with NAMI or the APA. To me the way Big Tobacco was brought to its knees is a much better model than dialog with the APA/NAMI/Big Pharma, etc. In that regard, identifying, as you have done, them as the “enemy” rather than a bunch of well meaning do-gooders gone temporarily rogue is the first step.

  • I did take a look, but I also took a look at this page,

    Particularly (9.2.5) , (9.2.7) and (9.2.8). So while I have no doubt that some at NAMI might be questioning some of NAMI’s official policies, the fact remains that NAMI publicly, and aggressively, advocates for policies like these that I consider to be human rights abuses no different than when say homosexuals where forcibly “treated” for their disease. In a 1967 60 minutes special about homosexuals, of which you can hear a summary here , a psychiatrist can be heard saying (in that summary around minute 1:20),

    “homosexuality is in fact a mental illness which has reached epidemiological proportions”

    This is the type of stigmatization that NAMI promotes against people like me.

  • Sure, we can agree to disagree. In fact, that has been my point all along. Most people I know in the survivor movement don’t see the point in working with an organization that actively promotes these policies .

    While some self identified survivors might be fine with it, it is not the case of the survivors I have a closer relationship with. This latter subset of survivors is primarily concerned about stopping human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of psychiatry. NAMI is the most vocal organization, outside the APA, promoting those very abuses.

  • I wish I could be as optimistic as you are.

    If the history of the human condition teaches us something is that power- be it political or, as in this case, economic- is not easily surrounded. If Kathy’s search for answers is sincere and she reaches the conclusions you mention, the most likely result is that she well be expelled from NAMI for promoting something like “unscientific stuff”, ie, the views of a journalist (that would be you) vs the views accepted by the “consensus of doctors”. That is how powerful lobbies silence their critics, by appealing to “consensus”.

    The market of psychiatric drugs is 80 billion dollars a year worldwide. Big Pharma as a whole generates 500+ billion dollars a year (ie, half a trillion dollars) worldwide. To put things in perspective, the annual revenues of ultra powerful and omnipresent Google are “only” 50 billion dollars. This is huge. Most psychiatrists make a living only out of being able to prescribe the goodies that Big Pharma sells.

    After the Chuck Grassley investigation that uncovered the unreported flow of money that goes from Big Pharma to psychiatrists -Grassley’s investigation was not targeted at psychiatrists but at researchers receiving NIH dollers; it just so happens that the most outrageous cases uncovered affected psychiatrists like Biederman and Nemeroff- there were promises made by the APA to deal with the situation. End result? In 2013, 5 years later, psychiatrists continue to top the list of doctors that receive the highest payments from Big Pharma ; even Nemeroff, despite being investigated for ethics violations, continued to cash in .

    Think about this. The reality to which Tom Insel finally admitted to in May 2013 had been argued by Thomas Szasz during the previous 50 years. Szasz was vilified by mainstream psychiatry for speaking truth to power like no other person I can think of.

    Maybe you are right, that it is possible to “reason” mainstream psychiatry out of its belief system of drugging, but I think of mainstream psychiatry more like a religion than a scientific endeavor. No religion that I am aware of can be “reasoned in” or “reasoned out”.

  • Jennifer,

    Thank you for your detailed answer. I am, first and foremost, a defender of individual freedom. So if individuals want to voluntarily find ways to reestablish links with their families, links that had been previously broken because of psychiatry, I respect that.

    I personally though do not see this as a reconciliation thing (as Joanna Care suggested) rather to me, the analogy is with the civil rights struggle of the 1960s that brought the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Ie, first and foremost I seek to affirm my individual right not to be labelled and stigmatized as “mentally ill” just because some committee of psychiatrists thinks so without any single shred of evidence that I am biologically ill in any sense. That to me is an inalienable right. If my family was willing to acknowledge it, great. If not, too bad for them.

  • “Can Families and Survivors Heal Together?”

    I believe the answer is NO, unless families understand that a survivor is, well, a survivor. That is all I ask that my own family understands to have any hope of healing. And an apology for having ruined my life with involuntary so called “treatment”. Until that happens, the chances of me making peace with my family are non existent.

  • Kathy,

    While I do not have any reason to doubt of your personal experience, the fact remains that to this very moment, NAMI US wide promotes polices to have as many people as possible, by force if necessary, on psychiatric drugs. That’s what the advocacy page of NAMI says. That page, in the same vein, explicitly calls for an easing of the standard for both civil commitment and forced drugging in all 50 states, even calling for the removal of judicial review in the process by euphemistically empathizing that judges should not make “medical” decisions.

    Since you gave your own personal experience with NAMI, I will give you mine. The local NAMI chapter scared my wife so much about the potential effects of me stopping the drugs that she left me shortly after I stopped them.

    If NAMI wants to be part of the solution it has to renounce to 90% of the policy proposals it officially endorses now. Until that happens, the only thing I want to hear from NAMI is that it has been shutdown. NAMI has ruined more lives than we can count, including my own.

  • Kathy,

    All this is good but, I am curious about what your next steps with respect to NAMI are going to be.

    As already mentioned in the other post by Claire Weber, NAMI publicly advocates for making it easier, not more difficult, to force psychiatric medications onto people, against their will if necessary. I see an intrinsic contradiction between Whitaker’s message, to which you seem sympathetic, and the policies that NAMI publicly advocates. There is no way around this.

    We could spend the rest of our lives talking, and dreaming of Kumbaya moments between survivors and NAMI but in the meanwhile, peoples’ health deteriorates because of NAMI’s current position with respect to the use of psychiatric drugs and peoples’ human rights are being abused in those states that have adopted NAMI’s policy prescriptions.

    If NAMI wants to be part of the solution, it will have to change, dramatically. Otherwise, I am afraid we are witnessing NAMI doing to Mad In America what Olga Runciman so eloquently described in his post “Colonization or Postpsychiatry?” about the attempts by mainstream psychiatry to infiltrate the Hearing Voices Movement .

  • Agreed Ted. I explained that to Matthew in private as well. I think it is a false moral equivalence to put us, survivors of psychiatric abuse, at the same level as those who perpetrated the abuse.

    Our society already shames criminals publicly. If we agree that the current psychiatric paradigm does more damage than good, that many, if not most, psychiatrists are fine with the abuses because they only care about their own gain, I see absolutely no problem in shaming them.

    When a psychiatrist defends forced drugging, as it was done to me, I don’t see why I should respect him/her in anyway. We do not ask victims of rape to respect their rapists. I don’t see what makes those who commit psychiatric abuses more deserving of respect than rapists, honestly.

  • Sure, which is why I side with those who have said that there cannot be a Kumbaya moment with an organization that actively promotes these abuses.

    In Europe, abuses such as these have been repeatedly sanctioned by its European Court of Human Rights. I was at the receiving end of one such policy, in particular that which is articulated in point 9.2.7. Note that I was not dangerous, not even gravely disabled in anyway. It was just the “medical judgement” of a psychiatrist that I might become one that was enough to have me committed in a way in which the judge just rubber stamped the psychiatrist’s decision.

    It is no accident that the rate of involuntary so called “treatment” orders in Europe is an order of magnitude higher than here in the US, with Finland being, by far, the worst offender .

    So we don’t have to hypothesize about what it might look like if US states were to adopt the policies that NAMI advocates, since that is the reality in the European Union. My American citizenship is the difference between living in freedom without drugs and living under the constant fear that I could be committed unless I agreed to take drugs.

  • Anybody in Mad In America who thinks that there is a common ground to be found with NAMI is referred to its public policy proposals, in particular this one about involuntary so called “treatment”, point 9.2,

    “(9.2.5) Involuntary commitment and court-ordered treatment decisions must be made expeditiously and simultaneously in a single hearing so that individuals can receive treatment in a timely manner. The role of courts should be limited to review to ensure that procedures used in making these determinations comply with individual rights and due-process requirements. The role of the court does not include making medical decisions.”

    “(9.2.7) States should adopt broader, more flexible standards that would provide for involuntary commitment and/or court ordered treatment when an individual, due to mental illness

    ( is gravely disabled, which means that the person is substantially unable, to provide for any of his or her basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, health or safety; or

    ( is likely to substantially deteriorate if not provided with timely treatment; or

    ( lacks capacity, which means that, as a result of the serious mental illness, the person is unable to fully understand–or lacks judgment to make an informed decision about–his or her need for treatment, care, or supervision.”

    “(9.2.8) Current interpretations of laws that require proof of dangerousness often produce unsatisfactory outcomes because individuals are allowed to deteriorate needlessly before involuntary commitment and/or court-ordered treatment can be instituted. When the “dangerousness standard” is used, it must be interpreted more broadly than “imminently” and/or “provably” dangerous.”

    Pals, this is the type of mindset that pervades NAMI. I see no difference between these proposals and E Fuller Torrey’s.

  • Agreed too. As to why NAMI is perceived as a front group for Big Pharma, perhaps this inconvenient truth has something to do with it,

    “A majority of the donations made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the nation’s most influential disease advocacy groups, have come from drug makers in recent years, according to Congressional investigators.

    The alliance, known as NAMI, has long been criticized for coordinating some of its lobbying efforts with drug makers and for pushing legislation that also benefits industry.

    The mental health alliance, which is hugely influential in many state capitols, has refused for years to disclose specifics of its fund-raising, saying the details were private.

    But according to investigators in Mr. Grassley’s office and documents obtained by The New York Times, drug makers from 2006 to 2008 contributed nearly $23 million to the alliance, about three-quarters of its donations.”

    There were a couple of postings on the Whitaker talk at NAMI members’ websites (Pete Earley and Kathy Brandt) where some NAMI sympathizers had problem with NAMI being described as a front group of Big Pharma but none was willing to explain what is the current funding situation when it comes to NAMI.

    I want to thank Bob for making it possible for people like me to express our views. If Mad In America were to suppress our voice, we would have no place to go.

  • As I have said here and elsewhere, the reason these problems are amplified in psychiatry is because psychiatry doesn’t have solid scientific foundations. As a discipline, psychiatry is closer to homeopathy than to oncology.

    You can claim all you want that drug X cures cancer Y. If that is not the case, the patient will die. Psychiatry can go around claiming all kinds of wonders about its drugs but since its predictions are not falsifiable, as is the power of drugs that cure cancer, their damaging effects are only shown over the long term.

  • Agreed. These prescribers know all too well about these problems. They just don’t care. The abuses are institutionalized. They are not going to criticize them because they would be criticizing their own livelihoods. People need to understand that Big Pharma is a half a trillion dollar industry worldwide (80 billion of which are made out of psychiatric drugs alone).

    The only way to stop this is via medical malpractice and criminal lawsuits. That is, in my opinion, where the focus for change should be: in the light of this data, we should engage pro bono attorneys to sue the worst offenders. The DOJ investigations had a great effect on Big Pharma, to the point that they seem to be abandoning the field of psychiatric drugs entirely. Not because they are uncomfortable with paying the fines, but because the executives at companies like GSK or Elli Lilly have probably reached the right conclusion that under the increased scrutiny to their corrupted practices is only a matter of time before one of them ends up in jail. It is one thing to use shareholder money to pay for fines that still make the drug profitable, quite another to go to jail… That is how Big Tobacco was defeated and that is how the psychiatric scam will too be defeated.

  • I just want to say that I agree 100% with the views expressed by Anonymous here. Psychiatry’s status as a legally sanctioned coercive force is the root of all the evils it has perpetrated over the years, including making it acceptable as “science” the type of reasoning that not even Astrology would consider valid. If psychiatry were to lose its ability to impose itself onto its victims it would became very quickly irrelevant.

    I have also said many times that taking particular psychiatrists to court in carefully chosen cases that would expose psychiatry’s evil, in the aftermath of the Insel crisis, would be the best way to send this quackery to the ash heap of history. We have now a window of opportunity that might last 2 or 3 years at best, before psychiatry comes up with its next scam.

  • No civil rights struggle has been easy and this one is no exception.

    Think about this: in spite a bloody civil war that was supposed to be the end of race inequalities in the US, the US Supreme Court issued Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which was the law of the land until Brown v. Board of Education 60 years later. That’s 60 years of many who had their civil rights abused. It wasn’t until 10 years later that the 1964 civil rights law was passed.

    Many good battles have been already won with respect to psychiatry, think O’Connor v. Donaldson or the “slap in the face” by Tom Insel to the APA. This is going to be a long term struggle in which we need perseverance. We are on the right moral side of history, and that is what counts.

  • Joanna Care,

    This is what I said,

    “I am with Jonah here, 100%”

    This is what I have NOT said,

    “You’re 100% with anyone who disagrees with me, it could be anything.”

    Those who have followed previous exchanges with Jonah know that there are areas in which he and I disagree, namely, how US coercive psychiatry compares with European coercive psychiatry.

    However, here, the matter at hand, ie, that coercive psychiatry is not justified under ANY circumstance, I am 100% in agreement with Jonah.

    Do I disagree with you more often than not? Sure, but that’s an entire different matter altogether :D.

  • I am with Jonah here, 100%.

    Jonah has been very respectful in all his interventions.

    It seems to me that your only problem with the current system is not what they do (forced incarceration, forced drugging, etc) but the degree to which they do it and the target of their abuse (ie, it seems you would let them do it in much narrower circumstances than they currently do it). But in essence, you are fin with “involuntary treatment” which I would call “involuntary abuse”.

    That is a very different perspective from mine, and from what I read, Jonah’s and -Anonymous’. I am against ALL so called “involuntary treatment” which to me is nothing more than a legally sanctioned human rights abuse.

    And the reason I am against these abuses is twofold. First because it is an abuse; that alone should be enough to convince those who care about human rights. But second, psychiatry’s legally sanctioned status as a coercive force is the root of all its evilness. Its ability to impose both its “treatments” and, even worse, its “reasoning” -even though it is not scientific- is derived from its status as a coercive force.

    As long as people are fine with psychiatry having that status, psychiatry will have a free reign to continue perpetrating abuses and ruining lives.

  • You just posted a distorted version of what the Catholic Church, and other Protestant denominations which share its moral teaching, teach.

    Teaching that the practice of homosexuality is a sin is by no means more hateful than teaching that sex outside marriage is a sin or that having more than one wife (for men) or having more than one husband (for women) is also a sin as in “adultery”. In Catholic/Conservative Christian teaching, the sin of homosexuality is not emphasized more than the sin of “adultery” and both impact the expected public position of the faithful: opposition to both same sex marriage and polygamy. If you listened to the prop 8 SCOTUS hearing (I did), it was no other than Sonia Sotomayor that brought this issue to the discussion.

    We are all better served if we agree that Churches have a constitutional right to teach whatever morality they want without that teaching being labelled as “hateful”. Although “hateful” is a subjective notion, thus within the limits of the first amendment, it is no less true that “hate crimes” do exist in the US. While the teaching of the sin of homosexuality has not yet been recognized as violating “hate crime laws”, it would be a very slippery slope if it ever did. In that regard, I am very happy that our SCOTUS ruled the way it did on even if I consider it a lack of respect to the memory of the soldier that these people, whom you could also label as “preachers of hate”, picketed his funeral with his hateful signs.

  • Agreed with both Duane and David. As I Christian, I take issue when somebody tells me what “Christians think” or that the archetype of a good Christian is.

    Sorry guys, I haven’t been posting here lately, but I have been busy fighting the “forces of reason” here . I put the “forces of reason” in quotes because it is very ironic how resistant they are now to accept facts, such as the lack of biological basis for DSM labels, that nobody now disputes in psychiatry, even if there is still disagreement as to whether so called “mental illness” is real :D. It seems that psychiatry’s medical imbalances served as well the atheists’ purpose, which is ironic because the foremost critic of psychiatry, Thomas Szasz, was an atheist who won the 1973 Humanist of the Year award :D.

  • Thanks for your support! As you can see, even though I cannot claim “full conversion”, I have been able to create doubt among a few of them :D.

    Those who insist with untenable positions such as “ADHD is demonstrably a brain disorder and fits well into our current models of brain function, specifically the role of executive function in guiding our attention and behavior” are just too invested in their own worldview. My hypothesis is that they see admitting to what Insel said kind of a capitulation of what they have been repeating for years. So it’s unlikely I’ll be able to convince people like steve12 (although he sounds less extreme now than previously).

    One thing that I found interesting is that Novella has not officially addressed Tom Insel in one of his entries. In fact, if it weren’t because I brought the issue, Novella would not have even mentioned the NIMH earthquake. He has limited himself to repeating, in the comments section, his old arguments that do not hold any ground in the post April 29th world.

    Thanks again!

  • “I recognise UK psychiatry is easier to escape than US psychiatry, every UK mental health professional I know who’s worked in the US have stated this. ”

    Actually, that is not born out by the facts:

    – UK, consult point 4.2, page 39 “Frequency of involuntary placements / percentage of involuntary placements
    of all inpatient episodes / involuntary placements per 100,000 population

    – US, . While this graph will be used by those supporting lowering the standard for civil commitment in the US, it unequivocally shows that the mental hospitalization rates are lower than in the UK.

    That is not to say that in the US psychiatric abuse doesn’t happen, but, we are better protected against said abuse than in the UK. As I mentioned in a previous post, the reason is twofold,

    1- SCOTUS case law dating back to the 1970s that makes so called “forced treatment” difficult and reserved for cases in which there is dangerousness – at least in theory- while in Europe the European Court of Human Rights has endorsed “forced treatment” under the standard “for medical reasons alone regardless of dangerousness”.

    2- Our medical malpractice law which protects patients better than similar laws in the UK and Europe.

    So this is one of the occasions in which I respect you for having that view, but I reserve my right to criticize it with facts :D.

  • Joanna,

    This has always been my point of view. What many people confuse is “respect to other people’s ideas” with “immunity to criticism”. I respect everybody’s opinions. That doesn’t mean that I cannot criticize them :D. Respect, in my view, is that I consider them “legitimate” and that I will not call you names for holding them (or if I had the power, which I don’t, to put you in jail for them). It’s an American “first amendment” type of understanding of freedom of speech. I respect that different people see things differently. But I also say, I have a right to criticize you for holding those views.

  • I am perfectly comfortable with people having different points of view, truths, whatever.

    What I object to, strongly, and I am an absolutist on this regard is to the notion that some should be given the right to “impose” their version of truths onto others via so called “coercive treatment”, which is codeword for human rights abuses.

    -Anonymous above has done an excellent job describing this to the point that I don’t know if my brain is a transplant of his :D.

  • –Anonymous,

    Again, I agree with everything. This, in particular, was beautifully put,

    “I support your right to define yourself as a “service user”. Define me as a “service user”, I support my right to complain that coercion’s reality is being stubbed out with language couched in choice.”

    Are we intellectual twins or something :D?

  • Let’s agree on our commonalities :D.

    With respect to liberal bias in the US media, the Wikipedia entry cites several rigorous studies that show without a doubt that most major news organizations are staffed with liberal journalists. You also have the studies the Pew Research institute on excellence in journalism did on the matter in both 2008 and 2012. They both showed a clear bias favoring Obama although in different ways. The 2008 study showed that all outlets, except for Fox News, gave Obama a very rosy coverage vs a hard time to John McCain. Fox News was singled out as an “equal opportunity basher”, ie, they gave both Obama and John McCain an equal hard time. In 2012, the bias was more “subtle” (insidious if you will). While these media were able to keep it as objective as possible for a long time, they broke for Obama big time during the last week of the campaign under the excuse that “the polls showed increasingly that Obama was going to win”. Oh well!

    I am not as naive as to think that Fox News is without bias, but at least they give the liberal point of view the opportunity to make a fair, and assertive, case. Something that doesn’t happen at CNN -let alone MSNBC which was recently singled also by Pew as a “mostly opinion” outlet vs CNN/Fox that were 50-50% news/opinion- with the conservative point of view. Neither CNN nor MSNBC have in their payroll any conservative with the assertiveness that Dennis Kucinich, Alan Colmes, Kirsten Powers, Sally Kohn or Jehmu Greene bring to the otherwise conservative crowd. On the news department, Fox has been assembling an impeccable team of reporters that are second to none, many of whom (like Bill Hemmer, John Roberts or Ed Henry) came from CNN. Others, such as Shepard Smith, Bret Baier, and yes, James Rosen, were developed in house.

    I also read regularly the NY Times and the Washington Post. Not with the intention of “getting news” (both outlets lost me in 2008 with their decisive liberal bias) but with goal of learning what “the other side” is up to :D.

    In any case, I think that in MIA we should celebrate our common purpose, instead of highlight our political differences. The fact that psychiatry has harmed so many of us regardless of our politics, religion (or lack there of), education, ethnicity, etc is one of the reasons that makes this movement so powerful. Let’s keep it that way.

    Whitaker did a great job to be sure, but I am still scratching my head that the host of Al Jazeera saw things so clearly. The Biederman case was bribe, I don’t see how you can spin that in any way. It might have been “legal bribe” according to US law, but ethically speaking it was a bribe. What kind of society are we becoming in which to have a candid discussion about things that are so relevant we have to tune Al Jazeera?

  • “Frances is doing all that he can to *seem* perfectly reasonable while, nonetheless, stumping fanatically for the survival of medical-coercive psychiatry.”

    I agree. In fact, he made it very clear during his intervention that he wants to go back to a time in which 5% of people were labelled and drugged. And the reason to me is obvious. In the US, that is still 15 million people (as big as a medium sized European country). That’s a market big enough to keep his pals gainfully employed. I think that Frances correctly anticipates that psychiatry will not be able to get away with labeling 50% of Americans as mentally ill. He is trying to save psychiatry from itself for the sole reason that he sees DSM-IV as his “magna opus”.

    What he doesn’t realize is that he would be assured a true legacy if he were to join us in denouncing psychiatry. He could be part of the solution, but he insists in being part of the problem. I don’t think his position is tenable in the long term though. It’s only a quackery when DSM-5 says something but not when DSM-IV says the same thing? The most obvious example is the so called “bereavement” exclusion for depression. He has been ballistic that DSM-5 shortens it from 2 months to 2 weeks. What he hasn’t be so open about is that in DSM-III, that exclusion lasted 1 year. So his team decided that mourning a loved one for 2 months was healthy but longer wasn’t. Then he complains when the DSM-5 team has a different arbitrary opinion about what is “healthy” when it comes to mourn a loved one.

  • If I am allowed to do this analogy, it is entirely possible that corruption is so called “unconscious”, but that doesn’t make it more acceptable, in fact it makes it more worrisome.

    Ask people who live in countries in which corruption is so ingrained in daily life that they don’t think that bribing is wrong how good is it for those countries’ welfare. I am not talking about the usual suspects (India); even in the EU, in countries such as Greece, so called “petty corruption” is pervasive.

    The corruption I wanted to talk about is the corruption in many US media outlets that have a proven liberal bias (for detailed studies read here ); yet these liberal journalists repeatedly deny that there is any bias. That bias is insidious and shows in things such as “stories to cover -and not covered-“, “people who gets hired and promoted, etc”.

    Then when disaster strikes (I am referring to the story that the AP/Fox reporters were spied -called “co conspirator in the case of Fox”), these same media outlets cry “scandal”. These things didn’t happen in a vacuum.

    So even if we were to grant that the corruption in psychiatry is “unconscious”, we should not excuse it nor pretend that these corrupted psychiatrists are innocent souls.

  • Wonderful! The real shame is that to get this type of debate (conversation really) we need to watch Al Jazeera. The host question on the Biederman affair was priceless :D. I understand that Allen Frances has a vested interest in saving the quackery, but Bob should have been more assertive: indeed, the Biederman affair was bribery, plain and simple.

    It should be worrisome for everyone that neither CNN nor Fox (or the large networks) is willing to host a candid conversation on this matter.

  • If you want to send Lieberman your comments,

    [email protected]

    I sent him the note below (I got an “out of the office” reply) so the email address seems good.

    Dear Professor Lieberman,

    We are trying to have a conversation with you regarding your Scientific American piece,

    However, we cannot see comments by other people (each of us see only our own at the Scientific American website). Not sure why. In any case, there is an open thread in MIA that you are welcome to join,

  • Yeah, I was less diplomatic as well.

    Mr Lieberman,

    This is what Insel said,

    “The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.”

    Now, prior to his April 29th blog, that was dismissed as “anti psychiatry”. Now it’s part of the official NIMH record. Your travesty/joint statement didn’t change that.

    It’s not prejudice that drives what you call “anti psychiatry”, but a desire for truth. Putting legitimate criticism to psychiatry on the same ground as AIDS denialism is an insult to intelligence. We have accurate biological tests to detect presence or absence of HIV infection. We know for a fact that except for a minority of so called “long term non-progressors”, every person infected with HIV ends up dying unless he/she is put on HAART. Psychiatry has nothing like that. Where is the biological test for schizophrenia? Nowhere. Diagnosis based on “behavior” is no different than labeling somebody a “heretic” based on the consensus of theologians. That is a fact.

    In a typical psychiatric trick, you are using semantics, ie a language that sounds scientific, to put forward fallacious arguments that do not stand any logical deduction. Psychiatry is a scam and DSM-5 has been the last straw. Apparently American shrinks got too greedy and thought they could get away with labeling 50% of Americans as “mentally ill”. It has backfired and it was about time.

  • Hey, I don’t see your comment. I see mine (softwarematters).
    And yes, people should post there and tell this guy how misguided he is. He was interviewed here (courtesy of ) and his instinctive reaction was to link valid criticisms to psychiatry to Scientology (even the host of the program shut him when he attempted to do that).

  • JeffreyC,

    “It’s not that mental health professionals don’t know the reality of what they are doing, it’s that they consider the patients to be lesser people and therefore don’t believe that treating them like “normal” people is necessary.”

    Agree 100%. Once they label you, they see you as “less than human”. They tried to make me feel that way many times. They lost :D.

    The analogy with the parents is a good one. We all have gone through that moment of our lives in which we stopped seeing that parent (or mentor) as the “ideal, God like” figure we thought they were. In the worst case, such as that of some truly bad boss, we started to see them as the opposite, evil creatures that manipulated us for as long we let them do it.

    With psychiatry and psychiatrists I have reached the conclusion that the average psychiatrist is evil. That is not to say that I don’t think that there are some psychiatrists that genuinely care about their patients, but I think that they are a tiny minority, so the approach of assuming that the average psychiatrist is evil (and then be pleasantly surprised when I find one who isn’t) is less disappointing than believing that the average psychiatrist is good and then finding out that most encounters with a psychiatrist turn out with the psychiatrist abusing you.

    That is not to say that psychiatrists don’t have to be engaged. They have, but they have to be engaged as “enemies who might be transformed by listening to the other side” rather than “empathic figures who care about their patients”.

  • “And I’m quite certain that US shrinks are every bit as as bad European ones.”

    Sure, only in the US they are more under check. We have the legal protections against detention that I spelled out earlier plus a great system of medical malpractice -which can literally bankrupt them- that combined have them under control, much more under control than in Europe. Morally speaking though, I agree they are not better.

  • Something else Scott, following up on,

    “I’ll be honest in saying I don’t feel very safe in this space. I’m feeling some hatred for what I’ve said and I do feel uncomfortable. ”

    Let me elaborate on how different my perspective is from yours. After I decided to stop the drugs, I sent a very strongly worded message to the psychiatrists that committed me (message that of course went unanswered).

    I then spoke spoke to the US citizens division of the US embassy of the country where this thing happened and their advise was that I should never go back to that country.
    That if I were to be committed again, there is little they could do because the laws in that country are what they are (as I said, the same is true in all of Western Europe). They had had cases of natural born Americans who had been committed while on was supposed to be a short stay there (business/tourism), and that there was nothing that could be done to free them until the psychiatrist who ordered their commitment decided to free them.

    I insisted with a question like “but is it relevant that in the US I could not have been committed under that standard?”, their answer was blunt: NO, IT ISN’T. So bottom line, I followed their advise and I have never been back there.

    This is how different I see the issue of “feeling threatened” from you :D.

  • I have to agree with Jonah here (Jonah, it seems we have been on the same page a lot lately :D).

    Those who have killed themselves under the conditions you describe fit 100% the bill of what Jonah calls “it implies removing ones own ego from ones own choices; and, yet, it can mean doing nothing, literally speaking.”

    If everything else fails, you can be homeless. At least in the Western world -even in the US with a combination of both private and public programs such as Food stamps/SSI/Medicaid-, there is a large enough social net to take care of anybody’s basic needs.

    Sorry, I don’t buy the excuse of a “suicide epidemic” caused by the Big Banks that is very popular in some corners. I am not excusing Big Banks for what they did (in fact, I am of the opinion that the corruption at the high levels prevented many from going to jail for their crimes) but people do have choices. You cannot have it both ways: being free to make your own choices (which is legally a given) and “my mortgage pushed me to kill myself”.

    This is the type of “mythical/surreal” scenarios that psychiatry loves to exploit to justify itself.

  • Believe me Scott, you don’t have the slightest clue of what it is like to have been treated as a criminal without being one. You can keep your “false empathy” for yourself.

    “But isn’t there room to account for when people aren’t thinking clearly? I just disagree that this is black and white. I disagree that it is simple.”

    I am sorry, but this “life is not black and white” thing is the excuse psychiatry uses to abuse its power. If that 19 year old girl wants to end her life too bad for her and her family/friends.

    Shrinks will not be able to prevent all bad things that happen in life even if they were to be given the totalitarian powers they dream of. “If only”, “if only”… If only shrinks minded their own business… For every so called “19 year old girl” that you claim to have been “helped” by psychiatry I can give you 10 whose lives have been ruined by psychiatry (many of them MIA readers), including people who have taken their own lives pushed by SSRIs and neuroleptics. On average psychiatry does more harm than good, that’s the fact: psychiatry’s treatment of choice (SSRIs) are no better than placebos and make people taking them violent. Only an evil mind could think that the solution to a suicidal person is to force that person into antidepressants. This explosive cocktail is confirmed by the CDC data that shows that from 1999 to 2009, the suicide rate increase 28%, a time during which more Americans were on antidepressants than ever. Giving shrinks more power will only make the amount of misery existing in society increase.

    Life might not be “black and white” but science certainly is. Science is a totalitarian endeavor governed by the laws of nature and the laws of logic. If you want to preemptively lock in that 19 year old girl, do not use the excuse of “science” to do it (because there is no science behind psychiatry). Just openly say so. Say that psychiatrists want to have totalitarian powers because “they say so”.

    I have nothing but contempt for people like you who bring these false analogies and false choices to justify your ever increasing demands for totalitarian social control powers.

  • There are many ways to help a person thinking about suicide. I don’t think that detaining that person against his/her will, and forcibly drug that person will improve matters. Had I had suicidal thoughts when I was committed, the whole experience would had made matters worse, not better.

    The notion that a person is “helped” by being detained and forcibly drugged is deeply, deeply misguided.

  • Joanna Care,

    I respond here because of lack of space above.

    To me, the discussion about “involuntary commitment” and “forced drugging” is personal. I am not talking hearsay, I am talking about what happened to me and how having been at the receiving end of both has basically harmed me in ways that I was only able to appreciate over time. The question about “have you ever been interned in a psychiatric hospital” shows in all kinds of applications for jobs, security clearances, etc. Not to mention that it makes all potential social relationships toxic. It caused my divorce and it caused me to sever my relationship with my parents, who used the whole ordeal to exercise control over me. Needless to say, I haven’t had any more commutations with them, despite their repeated attempts to contact me via email/phone. I have just ignored them. And overtime, those attempts stopped for good.

    It has also impacted my ability to date other women. I am not going to lie about what happened to a potential life partner, but the question is always about, “when should I tell her”? Not in the first date, but what if I wait 2 months, she learns, becomes ballistic (feeling “lied to”) and then worse, tells everybody else via Facebook and suddenly my life is ruined. So sorry, I am an absolutist on this matter, freedom should only be taken away if the person commits a crime, end of the story.

    “We could take the position that anyone is free to kill themselves”

    That is EXACTLY my position.

    “or others and take the consequences of that,”

    Actually, the crime of making “credible threats” already exists, at least in the US. If somebody has made “credible” (“credible” as in “beyond reasonable doubt” and determined as such by a jury of his/her “peers”) threats to another person, that somebody will go to jail but only after those threats have been determined to be credible. If you are labelled, those threats do not need to be “so credible” and the incarceration lasts for as long as a shrink determines to be necessary. That is the injustice I am talking about.

    “but what if any were preventable with some assistance”

    People should be free to kill themselves if the chose to. It is really that simple. The “right to kill oneself” is implicit to the “right to live”.

  • Glad you mention Charles Grassley because his 2008 investigation is probably the single congressional action that has most advanced our cause in years (if not decades).

    Although the investigation was not directed at psychiatry itself, rather at corruption in researchers receiving NIH money, it showed that corrupt psychiatrists represent the overwhelming majority of these corruption cases.

    There is a very clear tradition in the conservative movement to defend those like us. Frank Lanterman pioneered legislation, a first in the US, that gave those labelled “mentally ill” protections against abuse that were unheard of earlier. Ronald Reagan signed that legislation into law in the late sixties. It was the court of conservative judge Warren Burger who make the Lanterman philosophy the law of the land nationwide in 1975 (ie, it made illegal under US law to commit non dangerous people to mental institutions).

    I am also at odds to understand why the recent GOP has abandoned that love with individual freedom, but the tradition in the conservative movement is very clear on the matters of not trusting the government for anything.

  • Jack Carney,

    The comparison with the NRA is completely unwarranted.

    First the NRA, despite claims to the contrary, does not represent a powerful lobby because the gun manufacturing industry is minuscule: 11.7 billion dollars a year . The US economy is 15 trillion dollars in size, that’s 1500 times the size of the industry the NRA allegedly represents. For comparison purposes, the top 12 Big Pharma companies make a combined revenue of 445 billion dollars in 2009/2010 . That’s almost 40 times the size of the gun manufacturing industry and 1/33th of the US economy. So the different couldn’t be more significant. The comparison APA-NRA (even if the NRA were to represent the interest of the gun manufacturing industry) could not be more misguided.

    Second, the NRA strength is its million of anonymous members, like me, for whom the second amendment is a key component in protecting our individual freedom from government tyranny. Although, because of my commitment, I cannot own guns, I became a proud NRA member in the aftermath of the Newton massacre because I value very much what they do. They not always treat the so called “mentally ill” well (they were too quick on scapegoat the Newtown situation on them/us) but they are a very effective organization. If anything, they are a model of what organized citizens can accomplish.

    As Duane says, if this movement is to become serious, it needs to be big tent. Continuously bashing conservative positions by making false analogies is not the right way to become big tent. Psychiatry has damaged many of us, left and right; defeating it should be our common goal.

  • This is not a very hard question. Either the person was committing a crime -and that would depend on the jurisdiction where that person was doing that- (thus, there was probable cause for his/her arrest, and then that person is protected by the laws that protect criminal defendants) or the person was not committing any crime whatsoever and should be let go. Period, end of the story.

    What you propose is, under the excuse of “helping”, that some shrink locks in that person indefinitely, regardless of whether that person had committed any crime whatsoever, forcibly drugs that person with poisonous drugs and labels that person “crazy” for the rest of his/her life.

    Having been at the receiving end of involuntary commitment/drugging, I take the “treat me as criminal defendant” approach anytime. Since I had not committed any crime, I would have been spared of the most humiliating and stigmatizing experience of my life.

    So, I repeat, I stand by General’s Patton quote “God deliver us from our friends, we can handle the enemy”. I can handle being treated as criminal defendant; it is very hard to handle one of these “helping zealots” :D.

  • Scott, I stand by General’s Patton quote “God deliver us from our friends, we can handle the enemy” :-). The idea that somebody should be forcibly “helped” because some shrink says so illustrates the type of totalitarian attitude that pervades psychiatry. 40 years ago, gays were forcibly “helped”. We already have the criminal system to “help” to go to jail those who misbehave in ways determined by the democratic process with the “beyond reasonable doubt” and trial by jury of peers safeguards. Everything else is social control no matter how you spin, twist and try to “nuance” your arguments.

  • You must have misunderstood me.

    When I say “the criminal system” what I mean is to have the same rights as criminal defendants.

    Right now in the US we have the double standard that if you are labeled with one those DSM fictitious “diseases” you can be locked in under the “dangerousness” standard providing so called “clear and convincing evidence”, which is a standard in legal procedure that is weaker than “beyond reasonable doubt”, the standard used in criminal proceedings. Also, most judges refer to the opinion of the psychiatrists, so in practice if a psychiatrist says you are dangerous, you are locked in. In criminal proceedings, to be locked in you must be proved dangerous “beyond reasonable doubt” and you have the right to “trial by jury” who has to agree anonymously to locking you in.

    What I mean is that if society finds some behavior objectionable, it should object to it via the criminal proceedings, not by giving the DSM shrinks the right to decide, as they did with homosexuality, who deserves to be locked in without those safeguards.

    This homosexuality example is very relevant, because it illustrates very well that “reliability” (there is no doubt that homosexuality exists) is not the same as “validity” (the decision as to whether homosexuality was a “mental illness” was a political one because psychiatric diagnosis is scientifically invalid).

  • All that elaboration so that we can agree to,

    – Psychiatry’s invented diseases ARE NOT genetic diseases such as Down Syndrome is.

    – People’s behavior is a combination of their genes (“predisposition” of their biology if you will), their environment and I would add (from a Christian perspective), their soul/free will.

    If we agree on this, then we should all agree that all coercive psychiatry should be abolished. Why do we punish DSM-5 behaviors but not others like homosexuality that have exactly the same origin (the same type of studies with self described homosexuals have been performed on identical twins with similar results as those who performed on so called “schizophrenia”). What makes behavior described as “schizophrenic” pathological but, in this day and age, “homosexuality” non pathological?

    We already have the criminal justice system to deal with those who misbehaved in ways agreed upon by society via the democratic process. Note that I say ALL, not “all except case a, b, c, d, etc”. ALL.

    This is perfectly consistent with dealing appropriately with disabilities due to “real” diseases such as Down Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, etc.

    Psychiatry is not a scientific endeavor, is a pseudo scientific scam that is used for the purposes of social control by governments worldwide with the coordination of psychiatrists and Big Pharma companies are are too willing to comply with the scam while they enrich themselves in the process.

  • Final thought, that is not how science works, what you describe is how “fake” science works, such as economics or catastrophic global warming. If what you are trying to say is that psychiatry is fake science, then yes, I agree with that. In some quarters the type of science you are describing is also known as “dismal science” or “pseudo science” :-).

  • Problem is that the defenders of psychiatry make it sound as if their invented diseases are like truly genetic diseases, such as Down syndrome. The latter passes the identical twin test. None of the invented diseases does. This “probability” /”predisposition” argument is very dangerous. By genes alone, children of violent parents are more likely to be violent. Should all the children of convicted killers be preemptively locked in, just in case? Since so called “mental illnesses” are not real ones, not Down syndrome type of real, we should get rid of coercive psychiatry period :-).

  • Here is your problem Scott, to disprove the statement “so called mental illness is caused by genetics”, I only need one counter example of a couple of identical twins in which one has been labelled while the other has been spared from the label. Those studies abound in the literature (see Suzanne below). That is how science works. In the pseudo scientific world of psychiatry, anecdotal cases of identical twins that have been both labelled might account so something, but in science that is irrelevant to the proposition.

  • Thanks for saving me time :-). Psychiatry, given its unscientific nature, lives by mantras. They need to keep repeating them, as Scott did, to convince themselves of their own lies. It’s like the mantra that SSRIs save lives. How is that they keep repeating it in spite of a) evidence that they are no better than placebos, b) they are known to increase violent behavior and c) the CDC data on suicide correlates high usage of antidepressants with a 28% increase in the suicide rate is BEYOND me. Yet, they keep repeating the mantra.

  • BTW, those willing to send a note to Insel, below is the link with his email address and my own note.

    Dear Dr Insel,

    First of all, I apologize for this anonymous email . I found your address here,

    One of the unfortunate realities of the lack of validity of DSM is that there are many of us who have been harmed by it and we are forced into hiding because our lives could be doubly victimize if we were to publicly admit to our contact with psychiatry. My story, in case you are interested is here,

    Your April 29th statement that “the weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure” gave us, in the survivor community, tremendous hope in confronting the system that has ruined so many of our lives based on a lie. The panicked response by Kupfer basically agreeing with that was priceless.

    I learned with sadness that you have decided to back pedal , probably pushed by a lot of pressure from all sides. Only God knows exactly what happened and I hope that some time you’ll write a book to set the record straight.

    Nonetheless, what has happened during the last two week has been exhilarating in so many ways that many of us feel that there is no way back to the regime in which shrinks abused people for “lack of insight” into something that has not be proved to be real in the biological sense.

    My only hope is that at some point in the future you’ll have the courage to put the well being of those of us who have been abused by psychiatry ahead of your own self interest. What you did was very courageous and I believe that your legacy will be better assured if you stick by it instead of succumbing to whatever pressures made you back pedal.


  • The problem is that Insel said what he said, and Kupfer said what he said. Both statements are going to be there to haunt them in the future. It will not be possible anymore to dismiss as “anti psychiatry nonsense” those who say “the weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure” or “We’ve been telling patients for several decades that we are waiting for biomarkers. We’re still waiting”.

    I can only speculate that probably Insel was threatened to agree to this travesty if he wanted to continue to keep his job. Problem? It is impossible to retract what Insel said, that was agreed to by Kupfer in what seemed like a panicked reaction. So this joint statement is an attempt at squaring a circle that doesn’t really cut it.

  • Faith, “Keep the Faith” :D.

    It is true that many misgivings have been committed in the past “in the name of science”. The most obvious that comes to mind is eugenics. The problem is that science is agnostic to those misgivings; it’s only those who twist science to push for despicable agendas that are to blame.

    What science gives us that is not available to confront misgivings perpetrated in the name of other areas of knowledge (such as theology) is the ability to falsify them. You cannot falsify “everybody has to believe in Allah”, but you certainly can falsify “bio marker X is the cause of disease Y”.

    We should become fans of the NIMH approach, not because it is going to be successful (in fact, studies of genetically identical twins in which one of them has been labelled as “mentally ill” while the other didn’t already predict its utmost failure). It’s precisely because it is doomed to fail that we must embrace it. That is not to say that the powers that be will not try to invent something else to do social control, however, psychiatry is finished.

  • Welcome!

    The fear that psychiatry will destroy my life for a second time if I comment with my real name is what has pushed me to anonymity. That’s why I value so much the courage you have to put your livelihood at risk. I lack the courage to do the same.

  • He posted the same article in Psychology Today and some commenter said (not me though),

    “You’re very much starting to sound like a paranoid schizophrenic. “They’re all wrong – The APA, The NIMH, The DCP… Everybody but me! And they’re all out to get me!”

    Don’t make me have to call the goon squad to come and get you so we can make you take some medication.”

    Right on the money :D.

  • I am happy that MIA has decided to post an entry on this.

    Something I want to contribute is that we should not shy away from the NIMH approach. As a Christian, I do not believe that the mind is only molecules, but I do think that these molecules support the mind.

    However here is the great silver lining of the NIMH approach: it is doomed to fail. If the hypothesis that the mind has a life of its own is true (as I believe), for every study that shows bio marker X correlated with behavior why (which is a real brain disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s), there will another study that with the same data, and under different assumptions, that concludes the opposite. The NIMH approach allows us to falsify psychiatry, while there is no way to falsify “DSM consensus”. In a way, although I am sure this is going to create debate, the NIMH will take psychiatry to “climate change” or “economics” territory, in which psychiatrists will make predictions based on biological data that will not be satisfied most of the time. That will give us in our side the tools to fight the scam very effectively.

    This is also compatible with the British DCP’s statement, it is the recognition that minds are not the same as biology and that need to be taken care of differently.

    The reason Allen Frances has gone nuts with the DCP’s statement is that both the NIMH and DCP approaches make sense, what it doesn’t make sense is the pseudo science of “in between”, ie, psychiatry as it is practiced now :D.

  • I was also detained, restrained and forcibly medicated. My inner me, never bought that it was done for my own good. Never.

    I told psychiatrists what they wanted to hear in order to get out of my commitment. For a while I “acted” as if I was fine with the charade in order to save my marriage. When my marriage fell apart (my ex-wife left me after I decided to quit the drugs because the psychiatrist I was seeing scared the hell out of her in hopes that I would continue taking the drugs).

    The problem my psychiatrist had is that I had real, empirical evidence (blood tests) that those drugs were destroying my liver and kidneys. I was willing to comply to please people as long as it wasn’t causing actual biological damage of the type that could kill me. I pictured myself with the possibility of dialysis and organ transplantation and I said, enough is enough, to hell for the drugs. I lost my ex-wife, my relationship with my parents -who were the ones who committed me betraying my trust during one of my trips to my former country- but I regained my freedom, a freedom that I have been enjoying ever since.

    I didn’t do much for a long time on the fight against psychiatry front because after regaining normality my life, I am fearful that psychiatry is going to destroy my life for a second time, but who knows, the clock is ticking, I might get more involved than in the past now that the NIMH has given us invaluable ammunition to fight the scam (so much so that Allen Frances now wants to civilly commit everybody for not agreeing to his vision that “DSM-IV is great, DSM-5 is bad” :D).

  • Laura is pretty good at defending her points, I just want to address one point that hits me personally,

    “There’s also a growing body of evidence that d-cycloserine (DCS), an antibiotic used to treat TB, can facilitate extinction learning and memory consolidation”

    When I hear “growing body of evidence” in the context of using some drug to treat some of the DSM invented diseases my mind automatically raises the alarm: some scam is coming. Have you heard about the so called “placebo effect”?, which is so strong that it can be shown empirically that antidepressants are basically “active placebos”.

    I was put on all kinds of “serotonin enhancers” (SSRI and clomipramine) at doses higher than what is normally prescribed for depression (that’s the recommended dosage by the APA) to deal with my phobia to HIV that some shrink labelled as “OCD”. It did nothing whatsoever to it. What the scam did was to cause me all sorts of side effects (dry mouth, short term memory losses, lethargy -so much so that I was given ADHD medication to counter it-) and more importantly, these meds almost killed my liver and kidneys.

    So you can keep your “growing bodies of evidence” to yourself and provide scientifically tested treatments. Other sciences do not appeal to “growing bodies of evidence”, they just make planes fly, they cure cancer, they make HIV a chronic disease, you get the idea, don’t you?

  • “In fairness, I think there would be those on the left as well. I have to believe that many care deeply about their fellow human beings, and have been duped.”

    Agree with that appreciation. In fact, I was as guilty as the next person of believing that there was “truth” behind the psychiatric propaganda. All that changed when I was forced into psychiatry.

    When the first polemics about DSM-5 began to gain traction, I always had the impression that it would be a cataclysmic event.

    As long as Big Pharma bribed psychiatrists attempted to target just a minority of people, there was a delicate balance that allowed psychiatrists and Big Pharma to make money and government to exercise control. DSM-5 committee members got greedy and thought they could get away with labeling up to 50% of the American people as “mentally ill”, with all the implication that such labeling has in day to day life. Their greed was their undoing.

    And now there is no way back. After what has happened during the last 2 weeks, I don’t see how they can recover from having the NIMH, the APA and now the British clinical psychologists all agreeing that the DSM is not scientifically valid. Time to celebrate :D.

  • 😀

    Something tells me that you felt “alone” in the middle of an admittedly “left leaning” readership until I arrived here :D.

    I agree with your last point. And in fact, many conservatives would also agree with us if they only knew how evil psychiatry is.

    I don’t know if you watch The Factor, but if you do, you must have noticed that Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly rejected the notion of lowering the standard for civil commitment to some of his guests that suggested otherwise, especially in the aftermath of Newtown. When he first did it, I thought it was just some quick reaction to something he didn’t have strong feelings about. But he’s done it repeatedly, going as far as saying something like “in this country you cannot lock in somebody just because he is a weirdo” (the ugly reality is that abuses do happen but it has been refreshing watching him repeat the point so many times).

  • “I often feel part of a (political and religious) minority on this site, but not all-alone thanks to many of your comments.”

    Yeah, but that’s because many of our fellow conservatives/Christians have forgotten about their values. It is different, in a complete different context, from RINO politicians dominating the GOP agenda.

    Take the issue of gun control for instance. I will never understand people like Ann Coulter viciously defending giving psychiatrists the ultimate decision as to who should be allowed to own guns when the fact is that under the DSM-5 regime, up to 50% of Americans will be eligible for a “label” and the majority of psychiatrists (if they follow the trends of the AMA) are left leaning. Certainly, Allen Frances is.

    With all this said, if lowering the standard of civil commitment, or making it easier to force psychiatry into its victims, ever became part of the GOP platform (it’s unlikely because of the libertarians/Koch brothers in the party), I am willing to betray the rest of my conservative values and vote Democratic. A party that is willing to adopt an “Inquisition” type of ideology is one that has renounced its belief in individual freedom. I’d have to find a different home.

  • I see. Here in the US, left = “big government”, which is why I always found odd that people who defend “big government” then go and oppose psychiatry, which is the poster example of “big government” interfering in individual’s lives “for their own good”.

    In any case, I think that it is better to leave politics aside, this cause is something that unites left and right since psychiatry has been, for the most part, an “equal opportunity basher” :D.

  • Correct me if I am wrong, but with “bastards” in “Just as Thatcher’s death didn’t rid our country of right wing bastards”, you were referring to those British citizens who vote Tory, I am wrong? It is one thing to express some political opinions, quite another to call “bastard” all those who disagree with you. Thatcher won all her elections cleanly, so there must be many “bastards” in the UK.

  • “really?! I find it really easy to understand”

    Why? And this is not a joke. I am looking for a serious answer. At least in the US, the right is associated with “individual freedom” opposed to the tyranny of “big government”. I don’t want to get into an angry dispute, but what I always found odd is those opposing psychiatry from the “left” since “big government” intrusion into people’s privacy is a core “left” value, at least in the US.

  • Joanna,

    I understand where you are coming from but what has happened during the last two weeks is that the NIMH, the APA (in its response to the NIMH) and the DCP have all adopted the talking points that were pioneered by Thomas Szasz.

    As Szasz explained several times, he was not a Scientologist (in fact he was an atheist). The only reason he founded CCHR with Scientology is because he understood very well that unless psychiatry was confronted with the type of power Scientology has, the fight against it would not have been successful. It would have been great if other Churches/institutions would have joined, but the all rebuffed Szasz. CCHR won some battles and lost some others, but there is no question that the type of PR battles they engaged in, against Prozac for instance, served our movement well.

    If there is an afterlife he must be having a great smile in his face now :D.

  • I agree, particularly when it comes to Thomas Szasz, who was Peter Breggin’s mentor and who put his reputation and livelihood in the line and never gave up.

    Individual freedom is a core conservative value. What boggles my mind though is how easily right wing politicians have fallen to the psychiatric scam as the “easy answer” to problems such as gun violence. Are these people aware that under the DSM-5 regime, psychiatry could be used as a proxy to take away guns from people deemed “too mad” to own them?

    Not everybody has fallen to the scam though. Although in very subtle ways, Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly (enough as to make valid inferences) rejected calls by several of his guests including somebody I used to respect a lot until I learned of his past life as psychiatrist, Charles Krauthammer, to lower the standard for civil commitment.

    He has said repeatedly things such as “in a free society you cannot do that”. I don’t know what is the reason of him having those views, but it is clear that he has not been fooled by psychiatry. Given that O’Reilly is the highest rated TV personality in cable news, it’s a good ally to have :D.

  • All I am saying is that the fight against psychiatry is a common cause. You might not want to hear this, but Thatcher saved the UK from becoming Greece. All the economic indicators in the UK when she arrived to power support that contention.

    Capitalism has raised more people from poverty than any other political system in the world even if along the way there are some difficult economic situations that arise. This is not even a theoretical question anymore. Germany an Korea provided the rare opportunity of testing the hypothesis controlling for everything else (culture, ethnicity, language, etc). While West Germany and South Korea flourished, communism brought East Germany and North Korea to the ground. Had it not been for Thatcher, the UK would be making “Greece type” of news.

  • “Just as Thatcher’s death didn’t rid our country of right wing bastards”

    Watch your language. There are many proud conservatives here for whom Thatcher and Reagan represent the best politicians can be.

    As I have said previously, I think that denigrating those of us who can be described as “conservative” is not the way to go for MIA.

    It will take time, but there is no way back. And as I said, I am under now illusions about how hard it is going to be. That said, for the very first time in a long time I have reasons to be hopeful. A lawsuit challenging one of the many unfair decisions made over the years based on the “scientific validity” of psychiatry would be my next move if I had the economic resources to pull it off (we are talking probably millions of dollars here).

  • “If Mad in America continues to allow itself to be used as the “progressive lipstick” on the front group pig, there’s really no hope that it’s going to make much of a lasting impact on important issues, partly because it shows a lack of scope and partly because this may mean it’s “letting in” the very forces that seek to destroy consumer dissent. ”

    Not to take undue credit but I have warned in the past as well about MIA not getting into the temptation of being absorbed by so called “progressive” causes different from the matter at hand. There is a great deal of commonality among those who have been harmed by psychiatry. If MIA became by either admission or omission associated with those groups, it would lose a great deal of the appeal it has.

    However, there is very encouraging news that, at least by those at the leadership, it is not the case. No “leftist fringe” group would have been invited by the Vatican to speak about the dangers of drugging children, for instance.

  • Poet,

    We might have had our differences in the past, but I think that we have reason to celebrate our commonalities and everything of what has happened during the last 2 weeks. It has been exhilarating and I have to admit that I was wrong when I said that engaging the Europeans was not a good idea.

    Apparently, a lot has happened over there that is not reflected in the books/online (which is how I learn about European stuff today).

    “More seriously rejecting the twin technologies of psychiatry and psychology for me is more about saying that their are other legitimate forms of knowledge based on what I have experienced as a human.”

    Indeed. The problem is that the shrinks/psychologists had been exploiting a very cheap semantic fallacy to justify themselves, namely, that by using the language and vocabulary of “science” (even medicine with terms such as “mental illness”) they were “sciences” when it comes to science’s ability to predict outcomes (and medicine’s ability to treat diseases successfully). Now that fallacy has been destroyed (why is that the fallacy lived for so long is a different matter) and there is no way back.

    I have no problem with people engaging in the soul searching endeavors of their choice, be it those two, astrology or religion, as long as it is done voluntarily. As I have said many times, my only beef with psychiatry was and is its status as a coercive force, out of which all of its ability to inflict damage derives. It derived said status from its “perceived” status as science. Now that it has been admitted by everybody that it is not a science, I would expect it to lose it (although I am under no illusions as to how hard is going to be to deprive psychiatry from its coercive powers even with the new regime).

    “Our knowledge as survivours has always been denied, ridiculed and painted as being in the same box as astrology and tea leaf reading rather than just as legitimate if not more so, than anything the professions have to say about us”

    It is not that this is “about to change”, is that with the cataclysmic events of the last two weeks, this has already changed :D.

    If I were not so concerned with my privacy, I would have thrown today a party for my friends and neighbors to celebrate this :D.