Saturday, March 25, 2023

Comments by Frank Blankenship

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  • I don’t see how “developing an attachment disorder” to one’s “trauma”, so to speak, or to “trauma” theory for that matter, is particularly helpful. I think it can be a good idea, in other words, to throw the “trauma” out with the rest of the excess baggage. Physical “trauma”, yeah, we know what that is (i.e. damage). Mental “trauma”, on the other hand, isn’t that just a trap for the gullible? It seems that way to me anyway.

  • I like the idea of a monument, but I think, if we are to have them, we need many monuments as we are talking about a global problem, a worldwide movement, and relatively common situations. Too common. It has been too easy to bury people in institutions. With statuary, a monument, stories, people, hidden people, once again come out into the open, and take their place in the world.

    Great interview, David. Thanks for doing it.

  • I hear voices all the time. I hear voices, too, but my assumption is that it’s because somebody else is talking. If my assumption is wrong, well, I really don’t want to know it.

    We should do a comedy act together sometime, not that I’d know what to do. I just think, what an act! Flim Jannery and Blank Frankenship! Imagine it on the marquis. Now that’s potential, wouldn’t you say? Okay, maybe not…

    Interesting discussion about psychiatric survivor versus ex-mental patient Personally I like psychiatric survivor. I’m afraid if I called myself an ex-mental patient (as I have done) some people are likely to turn it down and tune it out. I’ve worked with non-psych-survivor activist groups, too, and then I’ve heard from people talking to me about this schizophrenic person or that, sometimes a relative, and how hopeless the person is. Far be it from me to explain that I was once labeled “schizophrenic” myself. I just find myself amused by the fact that they don’t think they’re talking to a “schizophrenic”. Progress is being made right there. Words are funny things, aren’t they, and especially a word like “schizophrenic”. I think the literal meaning is something like “pathetic” “hopeless” and incapable of doing anything except “deteriorating”. I love it, in such cases, when people are proven wrong.

    Glad to see that you’re still performing, Jim. Keep it up. I hope everything is going you’re way. (“Mine, too.”, a little voice pipes up.)

  • Problems in living I understand, Al, but there is no understanding the “sickness” metaphor. It’s like calling someone of Asian descent a gook. In my opinion, anyway. Then, are we talking about a literal “inability to function” or a misunderstanding between people? The “dysfunction” tag is insulting, and referring to ‘problems in living’ as “mental disability” is something of a complete stretch. Of course, now people have the opportunity to be “career mental patients” if they want the way they never had in the past. If any folk are desperate to be wards of the state, permanently, they can suit yourselves. As a disbeliever in “serious mental illness”, an atheist of sorts, well, I think some pasts are preferable to the future it looks like we’re headed towards.

  • Great article! Thomas Szasz was about the only person to take the kind of position that was needed, and his loss has proven to this very moment to be irreplaceable. I don’t think the absence of anybody else would be so noticeable today. There seems to be a great temerity setting in when it comes to calling what is obviously fraud fraud.

    “Mental health care”, with the excessive availability of the “mental illness” excuse, is like fly-paper to flies. With so much money going into the evasion of responsibility, how does anybody who has been there regain “the straight and narrow”? I don’t have the answers. I’d just like to see more and more people get out of this “unwellness” system we have made for ourselves. Surely, a place of belonging and significance can be found for this “displaced” population or that, can’t it?

    The leap from “normal anxiety” to “anxiety disease” is not that great. Ditto, from the incidental blues to “major depressive disorder”. All it takes is a scribble on a prescription pad. Come on, whatever happened to freedom of choice? There are other paths, other directions…How many “mental health” professionals does it take to come up with one?

  • Great article.

    I don’t really think of MAD as being “Marginalized and Disempowered”, for me, it’s something more along the lines of “Magnificent and Dynamic”.

    Best reason for embracing my madness: you have all these Nami-ites running around saying that to call somebody mad is to be derogatory while to call somebody “mentally ill” is some kind of act of “mercy”. Pardon me, if I cling to my skepticism. I, frankly, don’t buy it.

    Mad humility? Excuse my arrogance, but that really would be, let’s say, “counter intuitive”. When somebody puts me down, I don’t have to, therefor, put myself down. If I did, who gets something out it? Well, you can be danged sure it isn’t me. Nope, for me to get a slice of the pie, that would require a bit of, in the face of massive opposition, Mad pride.

    Chen up. We can and will win.

  • Serious mental illness?! Seriously?

    Attempting to cure mental illness is like attempting to exterminate unicorns. I won’t even go so far as to wish the social control authorities luck in the matter.

    Our antipsychiatry movement has experienced a great die off in recent years, but I intend to go against the grain. I’m going to shrug off the lack of support antipsychiatry receives these days, and become the lone antipsychiatry clown hold out stepping out. I don’t care who wants to buy BS galore, it’s not for me. You can be psychiatrized to the gills, just leave me out of it. I’m done with all mental health what-cha-ma-call-it. You can manufacture that “need” for somebody else, not me. I will make do without such contrived and magnified misfortunes.

    Actually, I’m trying to make up for my lame positive take on your book Madness In Civilization. In it, you were highly critical of two of my heroes, Michel Foucault and Thomas Szasz, and by doing so, offering a friendly pat on the back to those who thought they knew what was best for those who theoretically didn’t know what was best for themselves. If I recall, once we had a psychiatric survivor movement. This differs a great deal from a mental patients movement, serious or comedic, and that’s where the movement remains for me.

    The psychiatric drugs developed to have fewer ill effects than the first generation of psychiatric drugs have been killing people off at a younger age than their predecessors. Does this make death a good trade off for what Thomas Szasz referred to as “problems in living”. I think not. As you pointed out, “solutions” don’t pay unless they are chemical, and keep the “troubled” returning for more.

    I heard a slogan that I think might apply here. “Less is more.” In particular, “less” treatment “is more” health, quite literally. Continuing, “none” being “least” must be “most”. Right, when it comes to psychiatry, all for it. I’m all for none of it, that is, for me anyway. Anybody who wants psychiatry can have it, but children don’t have rights, and neither do psychiatric patients. I’d rather hang onto mine, thus I can do without right depriving “treatments”, thank you kindly.

  • Houseless is not homeless. When you’ve got certain people calling other people incapable of taking care of their own affairs, protest, activism, is a way of objecting, and saying, no, no, you’re wrong. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be standing up for myself, and objecting to your put-downs. One thing activism is not is apathy. Especially since non-protest, in such a case, would represent tacit agreement. When they say “you can’t”, fighting back is a way of showing “you can”.

  • I have a great deal of admiration for Thomas Szasz, but I don’t think the problem is that he, as you put it, went too far. If anything, he didn’t go far enough. The so-called biopsychosocial model was not a mirage so much as it was a sham. So now you come up with this biocognitive model. What’s that supposed to be? The lesser sham? I dunno. I kind of think there is an equality among shams, and one sham is more or less equal to another. Thomas Szasz exposed the lie fostered by psychiatry, that “mental illness” has a “physical” existence. Had he gone far enough, psychiatry would be exposed for the fraudulent practice that it actually is. If “mental illness” is not actually disease, no amount of education is going to make its would-be “healers” physicians. Religion masquerading as science is still religion.

  • Facing personal responsibilities is the only answer I can find for either. Trauma theory doesn’t strike me as a great excuse to live like an adolescent for life, and with the lack of human and legal rights that goes along with doing so. When wrongs have been perpetuated, the criminal justice system is looking for acknowledgement that this has been the case, and rightly so. Remorse has its place. .

  • “Kill” “people for what they did”, and the people (person plural) you kill are no longer doing what they did. Death is kinda final. That’s efficiency for you.

    I’m arguing against this middle ground between “sickness” and crime, which is to say I don’t think people should be confined to prisons masquerading as hospitals who have broken none of the written laws of the land. Period. When you do that, you’re stretching the law beyond its bounds.

  • I don’t think the path of hospitalizing criminals works any better than the path of jailing sick people, and when your hospitals are prisons, and your prisons are hospitals, well, that’s worse than confusing, to bring in ethical considerations, that’s plain wrong.

    Imprisonment as a deterrent to further crime might not work as well as execution, but execution is a crime when applied to individuals rather than to states, and I really don’t think state execution is much of an improvement over individual murder.

  • Yep, we’ve got a “mental ill health system”, and there seems to be no end to it. While there seems to be no end to it, it can be exited, and that is exactly what I would counsel anyone caught up in that system to do if at all possible. Mentally healthy people don’t receive/consume mental health treatment as a rule of thumb. Another way of putting it is to say that mental health is achieved through a complete abstinence of partaking in mental health treatments and services.

  • I think we need to organize against human rights violations and abuses, for instance, against forced drugging and confinement.

    Psychiatry, I suspect, will be around as long as people pay for it. Boycott psychiatric treatment, and then, you, personally, are not part of the problem.

    Confusing the medical with the criminal has become a way to further demonize criminal behavior of late. Look at so-called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a label used to chastise and humiliate the self-absorbed. It is usually directed at criminally errant behaviors. Criminal behavior, as always, is something to be punished, not “treated”.

  • I don’t know. I kind a worry about incarceration as a strategy myself. I’ve been there, mad. A lot of it’s detractors, madness detractors, that is, haven’t been there. Intolerance I see as a problem. Suffering fools, I see, as the solution because, basically, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to eliminate folly. Saying that, you can beat the authorities to the punch by getting in touch with your inner fool. Works for me anyway. He’s over there chatting with my inner sage right now.

  • Your voice, Dr. Hickey, was a much needed one. It’s very sad indeed to hear of your departure.

    I admire your optimism about the once robust anti-psychiatry movement, but I tend to be more cynical overall. Sadly, I think the system has succeeded in manufacturing the following it wanted.

    It has been the people we need the most who have died off in recent years, and they’ve not been replaced. I know where that vacuum lies, and I just hope some new comers among psychiatry’s oppressed are able to find it.

    I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. “Yes, Virginia, there is life beyond the mental ill health manufacture and treatment industry.”

  • Forced treatment is based on intolerance. I think you, Steve, do have a point, in the statement you make about the word “stigma”, as I follow you with the same word, in quotation marks. People get forcibly locked up, involuntarily committed, and then complain about prejudicial “mistreatment”, calling it “stigma”. Some of the same people who do so, after a fashion, give their own confinement a personal stamp of approval. Doing so represents an evasion, and when it comes to taking on personal responsibility, thereby blaming the other guy, it can represent a double evasion, say, flight from freedom, on the one hand, and flight from assuming responsibility for one’s actions, on the other. There is, after all, a beyond “mental health treatment” world out there, etc., Virginia.

  • Boring!? Of course it’s boring. We’ve been hearing the same old same old for years. This is the point at which some people leave the mental health profession, and if it they are so-called patients or consumers, so much the better. It’s called, tongue in cheek, “mental health”. Harm the industry, and maybe some of these washed up diagnosticians will get the same idea and create an ex-therapists movement. They need, excuse me, help bad.

  • Good point..but “mental illnesses” are not contagious, or are they? Just a little push, and whaddayaknow, we’re in “the twilight zone”, “the twilight zone” of “mental illness”. We can’t shed any light on that, it would be the end of “mental illness” and “the twilight zone” both. When it’s a matter of horses wearing blinders, of course consciousness, deliberate decision making, must wait on further evolution.

    I have always felt that “mental illness” was an abstraction. “Illnesses” are either bodily, organic, or they are not. “Illnesses” are physical. A non-physical “illness” is a form of deception, either of oneself, or of another, or even of oneself and others. Fictive illnesses have their own set of rules that cease to apply as soon as one shuts the book. Fictive illness discoverers, their authors, of course, have a lot to do with the stubbornness of those rules.

  • Nice piece. You can’t weigh psychological determinants on a scale. All the biological determinants are mostly bogus, and there is absolutely no reliable test for confirming them. What am I saying? Well, I think, in so far as “mental health” so-called is concerned, social determinants are everything. If people were more considerate to one another, it is my view that they’d have fewer “mental health” disturbances as well. A fairer world, in other words, is less conducive to so-called “mental disease”.

  • Terrific article. “Mental health care” so-called is about intolerance. The institution is about social control. The “care”, as a general rule, is not “care” in reality. The best “cure” usually amounts to a vacation from such “care”, and the longer that vacation lasts, the better.

    My last institutionalization resembled punishment, and as punishment it must have worked pretty well because I haven’t been back since. I have to wonder a little bit about the people who are still hams for such punishment.

    Sure, it was a learning experience. I still don’t act as normal as I might. I’ve just learned how better to avoid capture. “Acting”, yeah, I think that is the key word. There are times when authenticity, coupled with confession, can lead to absolute disaster.

  • ADHD is a fabrication to explain the behavior of some young people (getting older all the time), and in particular, why they don’t do so well in school (i.e. concentrate). I would say that ADHD is an identity, much as Bipolar Disorder is, or becomes, an identity. Ditto, Autism. Serious disorders warrant serious study, which, in my book, is a very good reason to lighten up lots. Just consider. I would imagine its replacement by Outrageous Clowning Disorder has a great deal of potential to change the world in a positive direction. Yeah, there you go.

  • Question: Why not seek treatment through the mental health system?

    Answer: Because mental ill health is defined by treatment, i.e. people who consume treatment are presumed ill, people who are “well” don’t consume treatment. Recovery, if recovery there be, is a matter of cessation of treatment.

    Some people don’t seek treatment but have unwanted treatment imposed upon them by the so-called mental health system. Evading that system, in such cases, means evading unwanted treatment, or, perhaps, evading what might be more aptly termed mistreatment.

  • My view is that they should be put out of business. Boycott psychiatry and so-called mental health services, and the people behind it will go bankrupt. When the numbers of shrinks goes down, rather than up, you can expect cases of “mental illness” to be going down numerically at the same time. “Mental illness” is a metaphor and not a true matter for medicine at all. This doesn’t prevent such quack doctors from operating freely, but then you’ve got all this quackery that needs exposing. If real health was sold with the abandon that fake illness is sold then maybe we’d be getting somewhere. As is, you’ve got toxic chemicals masquerading as beneficial medicines destroying the actual health of people suffering from fake illnesses.

    Suicide was, by the way, once illegal, and, in fact, it still is in many places.

  • I definitely have a problem with it. If shrinks, psychologists, and other mental health junkies, without “lived experience” (more jargon), are “peers” among their own kind, the “untreated”, what happens to them when they “relapse”? The idea that “sick” people, metaphorically speaking, should grow up, out, and into “healers”, that is, “health quacks”, professional or para-professional, I find kind of absurd. Beyond the “mental health system” i.e. metaphorical “illness management”, there is a world waiting to be inhabited. Really! It takes more than drugs to knock over the “bi-polar” sky-rise of cards, it takes enlightenment of sorts to do that. It takes “healthy” (i.e. logical) thinking and, optimally, on a mass, or at least, community-wide scale.

  • I like antipsychiatry activism myself. Mad activism is great so long as you don’t get locked up for your madness. (Getting locked up for your activism, on the other hand, sort of comes with the territory.) Antipsychiatry is about not locking up people who are different, and yet non-criminally so. Psychiatry is about making pseudo-criminals out of people who are different, and stripping them of their human rights.

    Consume poppycock at your own peril. Ditto with regard to utilizing disservices. Psychiatric services (cough, cough), mostly imprisonment and drug use, can and does kill.

  • Having endured multiple coercive psychiatric “interventions”, I think my best defense has become to lose the “mental illness” caricature, and to plead the case for my own personal “sanity”. (My public “insanity” can wait for the proper circumstance and audience with which to be appreciated.) However much the “mental health” authorities try to drug people into competence and responsibility, effective attitudes come from facing facts, and not persistent evasions, and continuing follies. Accepting any “mental illness” label as a bonafide “fact” is one of those traps that I’d prefer not to step into any more. Wisdom, not folly, I would expect to be the rewards of experience. Hopefully, once the same mistake is no longer habitually repeated, but fades into a dull and dismal obscurity, the light of my truth will become more apparent to all.

  • People need to know how bad these drugs actually are, and how, as you point out, research has been designed to mislead the public. Thank you for exposing the connection between the drug industry, the psychiatric profession and academia. When 4 out of 10 clinical trials are discarded, in what would purport to be legitimate research, because of negative results, hey, that’s like dealing from the bottom of the deck (i.e. cheating), isn’t it? Exchanging physical ill health for emotional stability, in a lop-sided relationship, is not really the sort of relationship that we can collectively afford.

  • Capitalism certainly hasn’t done a whole lot to diminish income disparities, growing income disparities, between countries and individuals. If capitalism has been really “successful” in this aspect of profiteering, perhaps what we actually need, no pun intended, is a much more successful socialism. Eventually these income disparities catch up with us, and then, people’s moral compasses, in the best of circumstances, must start to kick in.

  • You don’t have to break with disorder to be sane. Disorder is cool.

    I remember when I first met Leonard Roy Frank. He told me that he wasn’t mentally ill.

    I thought, hmm. I will have to remember that. “I’m not mentally ill.”

    I tell myself again. “I’m not mentally ill.”

    I hear a voice saying “I think he’s got it!” (Yeah, the rain in Spain, and that sort of thing…)

    I’m not mentally ill. How about you?

    They say practice makes perfect. We could fill a page with it even.

    “I”m not mentally ill.”

  • Very sad to hear of Don Weitz passing. He was definitely the kind of activist that I feel we could use more of. He was, and don’t take offense at me for saying so, a hero for me, too. I hope our movement is able to recover from some of the losses it has suffered recently, and with Don’s passing, we’ve just had another major blow.

  • The system, the psychiatric system, is resorting more and more to guardianship as a form of social control when it comes to stripping people of their human, age of consent, rights.

    Basically, this is the latest wave of the kind of treatment–confinement and drugging–that has been going on in this country since the middle of the 18th century.

    If it can happen to a celebrity like Britney, well, you know there is a lot more of it than that taking place, and removing her conservatorship has to be something of a big step in helping a great number of other people in similar predicaments.

  • Very sad to hear of Paula Joan Caplan’s passing. We penned some pointed questions to the authors’ of the DSM-5 for MFI a few years back when they called for them. She was also a very powerful presence at many conferences I attended. Her absence will be deeply felt by many. I will certainly miss her. When we need voices critical of psychiatric battery more than ever, it’s sad to be minus another.

  • I don’t want to be divisive, so if there is a Mad Pride movement, count me in. I suppose I could say the same thing about some folk’s anti-Mad Pride movement if asked. Camouflage, after all, is sometimes a necessity.

    Um, the government is spending a lot of money on forced “mental health” torture, is it? Just think of what sort of a world we might have if they stopped spending so much on that sort of thing. Being tight lipped and secretive about the matter isn’t a spend thrift tactic in this case. I’d say that there are a lot of people that could be helped if we were to pressure the government to make a few changes.

    Thanks for making the case, David. I hope people are paying attention.

  • If I were to write an article it would be titled I’m So Bored With Mental Health. The Mental Health business is primarily concerned with selling “Mental Illness”. Think…Lobotomy, ECT, harmful drugs, endless talk, etc. Maybe this “Mental Illness” is a product I don’t really need (and by that I don’t mean “luxury”). Mental Health, on the other hand, is an abstraction. The only people who need Mental Health are those deemed to be Mentally Sick. When you don’t buy Mental Illness, you’re already there (i.e. mentally healthy). Of course, given guardians, ECT, radical brain surgery, bleeding, endless talk, etc., wising up can be a difficult undertaking. Any of those out there who aren’t wise to the system yet have my deepest sympathy. I hope you can come through it relatively intact, and by that I mean I hope you can manage to leave the system, and not in a body bag.

  • Added leverage for the CRPD can’t be a bad thing. Wiping up the mess caused by all these new fangled “mental ill health treatment” programs, on the other hand, on top of the violence of the more traditional approaches, is a little more problematic. I realize, however. that the service industry would be nowhere without the manufactured “need” that comes of labeling and treating “patients”, people being too strong a word to use in such a context, and not, of course, supported by law. Tell me, how do we get “the problem” to be a little–Okay, a lot!–less global. Much change, no doubt, would be, for lack of a better word, godsend.

  • The “mental illness/brain disease” lobby has expended a great deal of energy in selling it’s product. On top of this factor, and contributing, the drug industry has dramatically increased the number of chemical options available to people beyond that supplied by biology. The misinformation mill, as your article clearly demonstrates, is busily working overtime. People are seldom abandoned to their own devices after incarceration in the system any more, now they are tailed and badgered throughout the rest of their lives by the same system. As I pointed out recently, all you need to do to find out how bad things actually are is to google antipsychiatry sometime, and then just look at all the propsychiatry antiantipsychiatry items that come up. Opposition to torture and false imprisonment must be out there somewhere, and maybe you can find it if you try reading between the lines. Surely it is out there somewhere, and if you can’t find it, then I would highly recommend starting something on your own. After all, who knows what it could grow into. A lobby to supplant the one attached to the “mental illness/brain disease” industry? I don’t know? However much nonsense prevails, some of us keep hoping nonetheless.

  • There is, at the present time, a market demand for psychiatry. Boycott psychiatry, and that demand might shrivel and die, i.e. be defunded and defeated. (Seems like a reasonable goal to me.)

    “Suffer fools” rather than “correct” “treat” or institutionalize them. Tolerate them. Folly is human, and intolerance, particularly of folly, is an extension of the folly it would outlaw.

  • I don’t consider graduation from professional “mental patient” to para-professional “mental health worker” much of an improvement. I would tell both groups of people to abandon their fields of oppression, futility and victimization, and I would encourage them to get a life. That is, a life in a less nonsensical field. The same applies to “mental health professionals” in general.

  • Were Allen Frances to take on the prescribing of so called anti-depressants, benzos, and neuroleptics we might be getting somewhere. As is, he’s just another drug pushing doctor complaining about all those other doctors with his little under the counter drawer full of pills to pitch. Over prescribing in general is any prescribing. Of course, we could work on getting the percentage of people on this pill or that down to a more reasonable percentage. Allen Frances is, like, we should get people to stop prescribing this so much, except to people who really need it, and ditto this and this and this. I would argue that much of this need is imaginary and manufactured.

  • I’d agree if you changed the title of this article by one little prefix..How about, dot da dah, Grassroots Activism: De-thinking Psychiatry Builds Community? I’m not really keen on any community of abductors, prison warders. and torturers, or of haters in general, even if they’ve got abduction, imprisonment, and torture confused with “mental health care”, or, at least, any sort of “cure” for other examples of confused thoughts.

  • I don’t see anti-psychiatry as dogmatic. I don’t think there are enough people calling themselves anti-psychiatry to be dogmatic. I see psychiatry as something of an imposition, and, therefore, dogmatic. One is dogmatic for opposing psychiatry? Really? I don’t think so. Anti-psychiatry is a choice. Since when has psychiatry ever allowed freedom of choice. I don’t think they, that is, mental health workers and psychiatrists, are really keen on the idea of “suffering fools”. If they were, then they’d let people be.

  • Psychiatry, just like all “mental health work”, is a sickness. Look a little deeper and maybe you can find the “cure”. Excuse me, the “recovery”. “Recover” yourself from psychiatric profession disorder completely (some say “retire”), and we will all be better off.

  • If the increased use of the Baker Act on young people in Florida is any indication, I would say that there is little to deter forced mental health treatment from seeking young people. I mean if you have a quota to be reached, you’ve got the unwilling subjects to be victimized right at hand. Need I say more?

    Wrongs are going to occur so long as young people are not granted rights, and as with older people, the right to refuse dangerous, damaging and unwanted treatments is chief among them.

  • Your last lockup was in ’74! Geez, what are you scared of when it comes to using your own name? My first lockup was in ’73. Don’t think they want me any more though, and I’m happy for that. I’m not doing my best impersonation of Borat either though. Of course, I always got prescriptions, too. The secret is to ignore them. For appearance sake alone though, there is that matter of, uh, if anybody asks, yeah, putting on a good show. I know there are people who are pressured into taking drugs, when somebody is not spiking their food, but, to paraphrase, what they don’t know, won’t hurt you.

  • As far as titles go, Recovery Rate Six Times Higher For Those Who Stop Antipsychotics Within Two Years seems weak to me. How about something more along the lines of Mental Illness Synonymous With Antipsychotic Drug Use? Next question, whatever would recovery rates be like among people never started on antipsychotics in the first place? Unfortunately, it seems few professionals are brave enough to seriously consider the matter from that prospective yet.

  • I am in complete agreement with the conclusion of your article.

    “While the genetic difference between individual humans today is minuscule – about 0.1%, on average – study of the same aspects of the chimpanzee genome indicates a difference of about 1.2%. The bonobo (Pan paniscus), which is the close cousin of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), differs from humans to the same degree. The DNA difference with gorillas, another of the African apes, is about 1.6%. Most importantly, chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans all show this same amount of difference from gorillas. A difference of 3.1% distinguishes us and the African apes from the Asian great ape, the orangutan. How do the monkeys stack up? All of the great apes and humans differ from rhesus monkeys, for example, by about 7% in their DNA.”

    However different people are, the differences between any two of them are not so great as that between any one human and a chimpanzee, and as you can see, the genetic divide there is not so gargantuan as one might suppose. The respective talent or brilliance in one human compared to another is dependent on less than 0.1 % of one’s genome. Is that to say that it’s the development of acting skills, alternatively one might say diplomacy, that really matter? Yeah, that’s what I think.

  • I consider the “bio-psycho-social” model of psychiatry merely a rationalizing of the “biological” model of psychiatry that is so prevalent today. If psychiatrists didn’t believe in some version of the “chemical imbalance theory” they wouldn’t be damaging their client/patients by giving them harmful psychotropic drugs. One thing psychiatrists within the public mental health system seldom do, and I figure it would be done if they weren’t so thoroughly under the spell of the drug industry, is to allow client/patients the option of going without psychiatric drugs. Even the arguments Dr. Ronald Pies is trying to make that we doctors don’t really say that sort of flies in the face of the fact that regardless of what they say they really do that sort of thing (strive to control behaviors with drugs) all the time.

    I feel that the so-called “bio-psycho-social” model of treatment, in the main, is just more “bio-bio-bio” psychiatry trying to cover for itself.

    Thanks for disputing Dr. Pies claims and for generating discussion on the issue.

  • Psychiatry was my path to antipsychiatry, if by psychiatry you mean confinement, drugging, and torture. First it begins with this notion that a person needs “help” whether the so targeted person wants “help” or not. Then that more or less innocent person, seen as needing “help”, gets assaulted by swarms of toxic “helpers”. If by psychiatry you mean force, oppression, numbed minds, etc., then antipsychiatry must mean liberation, joy, and clarity. If madness, the thing the mental health overlords want to suppress, were to resemble a slave rebellion, I stand with Spartacus, I stand with Nat Turner, and I stand with Toussaint Louverture, give me madness any day of the week over slavery.

  • Although I’m not so optimistic all told, great article. The fight goes on.

    Celebrate Anti-Psychiatry? You betcha! Psychiatry has done a great deal of harm, and the sooner people wise up to it the better.

    The struggle against psychiatry is actually older than the profession proper, and it continues. I see celebrating this struggle as a very good thing indeed.

    I would never wish psychiatry on a friend. I don’t think anybody else would either. Psychiatry is one of those things you do to people you don’t like as a rule. Personally, I think the world needs more love, and less drugging, labeling, and imprisonment in the name of “medicine”.

    People who care for people don’t psychiatrize them. I wish the practice was going to end tomorrow, however, I don’t think it will end that easily. Conceiving of it’s end is a first step to getting there. I think eventually we might be able to pull the money rug out from under the feet of the psychiatric establishment, and when the oppressor is not paid, he (and/or she) is going to move onto something else.

    Boycott psychiatry and eventually it will dry up and die. Such a death will mean a better world for all, and with nothing “other worldly” about it.

  • Well, I believe there could be professional snake-oil salesmen, you know, only psychiatric drugs, the prime “treatment” provided by psychiatry, is worse than snake-oil. Psychiatric drugs, especially those for the most so-called severe of conditions, are harmful, and someone would qualify the matter by calling them potentially harmful, a relative statement, there are some substances you shouldn’t be taking over a long period of time on a regular basis. There must be a knack to drumming up business by making certain gullible people progressively sicker and sicker, and if they literally aren’t sick to begin with, well, they end up that way. I suppose someone should be slapping someone in the face with a bladder bag, but who do you slap? The tricksters or the tricked? Perhaps both. That’s the way I see it. Certainly there are better ways to be spending one’s time than in a fruitless pursuit of run-away trains. Some wrecks might be prevented, sure, but some are going to happen regardless. Wising up though is bound to beat dumbing down, especially when the present “mental ill health” industry is dumb to the core. It is…How do you say? Oh, yeah! Stupid.

  • Generally speaking, I was thinking that disease theory was chemical imbalance theory, but here Dr. Pies seems to be suggesting that there is another disease theory besides the chemical imbalance one. If psych drugs don’t “correct chemical imbalances”, what is it that they do correct, because bad life styles are a matter of ethics, not medicine, and of evasion. Bad decisions are bad decisions, and no amount of “treatment” is likely to magically transform them into good decisions. Suspecting a lack of control at the level of biology, with no chemical imbalance behind it, eh? Okay, what is behind this lack of control if not a “chemical imbalance”? Bad genes? And are they not another expression for “chemical imbalance”? I tend to see conscious decisions there, even if the conscious decision is a matter of wearing blinders.

  • Yes, Autism is over-diagnosed. We hardly know what it is, if anything.

    The “mental illness” identity? Really? I don’t identify as “mentally ill”, let alone with any particular brand of “off” labeling. The “sickness” (i.e. scapegoating) industry , unfortunately, will continue to operate regardless.

    The thing being sold is “treatment”, the diagnostic label goes along with the “treatment”, like love and marriage, or, perhaps, better, crime and prison. The “cure” is realism. While disease may be a social problem, social problems are not diseases.

  • Dorothy Dix’s reforms only came rather late within the context of reforms that actually drove the expansion of imprisonment in the name of “mental health”. I tend to think the real problem began with early privatization, that is, an effort to profit off the scapegraces of the rich and aristocratic coupled with additional opportunities to extend treatment, mistreatment really, of the poor and disenfranchised. Although the aim was more compassionate treatment the reality inevitably became something else entirely.

    I tend to agree with OldHead on this one. You need to be selling “distressed states of mind” if you’re going to get anywhere with selling “compassionate listening”, and the “distressed states of mind” industry, as ever, is booming.

  • This is where the idea that only psychiatrists should be writing the history of their profession is so ludicrous and vulnerable. Edward Shorter says as much, only psychiatrists should write the history of their profession, but we know objectivity comes from those with some emotional distance from the subject of any study. Not only, in other words, should we be talking back to power, we should be using science and history to expose the wrong actions taken by people in power. History as cover up is not good history.

  • We should be looking at the power and wealth disparities between different people in the country. Improvements would be seen in lessening these disparities I’m sure.

    It is easy for those “in power” to make snap judgments about those deprived of such power. Children are innocent, and by innocent I mean that they are even innocent of the illusion of “meritocracy”, and that they are therefor relatively innocent of the myriad deceptions that help maintain imbalanced and unfair social relationships.

  • Yeah, and I was talking about this “peer specialist” business as a “sick” form of careerism. I’ve got nothing against kindergarten teachers either. I just think that, at one point or another, it’s time to leave the rubber nipple behind. “Peer specialism” can, and is, in some circumstances, what one might refer to as a “serious attachment disorder”.

  • Invent a disease and you’ve got a fictive ailment (schizophrenia). For this fictive ailment, a very real drug induced disease (Parkinsons) can be seen as the “cure”, replete with further and more devastating damage in the form of Tardive Dyskinesia, and now they’ve got drugs for the disease created by the drugs. For a get rich scheme, these big pHarma exes really knew what they were doing, didn’t they?

    The real dope is, maybe you’d be better off thinking about doing something besides…dope.

  • How about the difference in health between patients prior to 65 years ago and patients today? For one thing, there had to be a great deal less chemically induced brain damage back then, and heart damage, etc. Of course, perhaps they made up for a little of it with lobotomies, radical brain surgery.

    I hope people begin to get the idea that if they are going to be treating people for “mental ill health conditions”, they shouldn’t be treating them to brain damage, or other and further impediments to good overall physical health. Degenerative ailments are, duh, not likely to improve “mental health” one iota.

  • Since when has the mandated imperative of “patients” become to become “nurses” rather than to “get well”, or, rather, since we are so bogged down in the “mental health” quagmire, to “get over it”. I personally feel that there are many of us who would be better off if there was no “mental health” quagmire to begin with.

    I have ethical qualms about the “peer support” survival strategy but for an entirely different reason. I would compare the “peer support para-profession” to the prison trustee system that rightly was dispensed with a few years back.

    “The “trusty system” (sometimes incorrectly called “trustee system”) was a penitentiary system of discipline and security enforced in parts of the United States until the 1980s, in which designated inmates were used by prison staff to control and administer physical punishment to other inmates according to a strict, prison-determined, inmate hierarchy of power.”

    The idea of becoming a lifer in the “mental health” quagmire just doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. I would like to think that it was possible, indeed permissible, for people to exit the “mental health” quagmire, at one time or another, if they so chose. If fortunes, or rather, misfortunes, can’t change, well, we’re lost anyway, aren’t we? I’d prefer to think that fortunes can, do, and will change instead.

  • The new normal goes something like this: We are selling psychiatric conditions via their treatments (i.e. you need a diagnosis for a treatment). These treatments to manage the psychiatric conditions that go along with the treatments are drug treatments. Long term psychiatric drug use (our sole form of treatment) causes brain damage. Not to worry, we have more drugs to help you manage the brain damage you received from taking our pharmaceuticals. Come off pharmaceuticals? Perish the thought!

    If you’ve seen the recent ads on television promoting TD management, you know we’ve got a problem. How does one get TD? By taking psychiatric drugs. Whether consciously or not, the promotion of TD (brain damage) management drugs is not likely to cause any decrease in psychiatric labeling and the drugging that goes along with it. Quite the reverse. This phenomenon is likely to cause an increase in labeling, drugging, and the brain damage that goes along with them. We have to sell our brain damage management drugs after all, too.

    I’d say that perhaps we need to reconsider the old normal sometime, huh? Is selling a drug to treat the brain damage you got from taking a drug for some psychiatric condition of a dubious authenticity and nature really progress? I think not.

    Thank you for writing this piece. I cringe every time I see the advertisements advertising TD management drugs on television which is about every day of the week now. I’d say, given the massive impending tragedies that are certain to occur as a result, we need to do whatever we might to return ourselves to a more life form compatible, and less harmful, normal.

  • I had a professor object to me talking before the classroom once because what I had to say was seen by him, of course, as anecdotal. I feel certain that if we could have a few of these academics thrown into the loony bin for an extended period of time, they might begin to change their tunes. This kind of science, however, presents us with a complicated challenge. The elite knows, of course, designing the studies, while everybody else is talking through both sides of their mouths. I look up the nostrils that say see my importance and your own utter insignificance. I don’t see it though. In the somebody versus nobody dispute, any big number is made up of a lot of smaller numbers. I really don’t think the guy was as big and powerful (shades of Oz) as apparently he thought he was. Oh, well, such is hubris. I’d call it a variation on a theme, “Everything about you, without you.”

  • “Us” (psychiatrists) versus “them” (critics of psychiatry), huh? Ronald Pies is anything but impartial. He has made it his task to defend his profession. Doing so, he ends up defending the indefensible. He and his are so implicated in the excessive drugging of psychiatric inmates it’s not, if it ever was, funny. Certainly non-psychiatrists might be able to develop a more balanced view of this phenomenon than it’s most virulent adherents and converts. Pies wants us to excuse psychiatry and blame the drug companies, but we know what’s going on here. The drug companies would be nowhere without their # 1 pill pushers, in a nutshell, psychiatrists.

    The theological arguments are also a bit distressing. Science under the rule of religion? Really?! Do your “soul healers” actually have any “soul”? I dunno…What is the fraction of an ounce or so change between life and death? Not much. Captain Kirk and crew are still in the dark when it comes to meeting any supreme deity in their travels. We’ve got, nonetheless, metaphysical physicians, certainly a contradiction in terms, to do his bidding here on earth. If they aren’t, as so many people are, out to deceive as many people as possible about their real aims in the process.

    Great article, Dr. Hickey. Keep ’em coming.

  • 22 states out of 50! This dearth of knowledge is appalling. Psychiatric power and secrecy must walk hand in hand. When people’s lives are, as they so often are in commitment cases, at stake, there should be more accountability for sure.

    If we weren’t dealing with a basically unwanted population, we wouldn’t be having this problem. The power disparity is great, and the control factor intimidating.

    Thank you for this report. Certainly conditions cannot be improving substantially when the commitment rates are increasing with such rapidity.

  • I don’t like the term “insane medicine” in a title. For one, “insane” is derived from the Latin for “unhealthy”. “Sick medicine” is an oxymoron. It’s much like the term “mental illness”, something of an abstraction.

    Scientism though certainly deserves criticism, and the “mental disease” industry itself is definitely a result of scientism. By scientism I mean the religion of science. Science begins with skepticism, and it ends where that skepticism is discarded. Belief in science? Science isn’t a belief, it’s a method for getting at the truth. Indifferent truth that doesn’t rely on belief.

  • Peer services are a double standard and a deception at the same time. I didn’t sign on to be a “sick fuck”, nor a “sick fuck helper”, and I especially didn’t sign on for a life term of doing such. Suspend “the age of consent” as much as you wish to, there is a problem with doing so. For one, it is preferable simply to grow up. Suspending weaning is indicative of attachment issues. This eternal ward of the state business is not to my liking one iota. Peerless services, there you go, only you’re not going to get nannie state services for non-wusses. Toughen up, and you’ve got everybody thinking, why didn’t I think of that.

  • Soteria could be considered the successor to Kingsley Hall. Sometime before I’d ever entered an institution as a “patient” in quotation marks, I was blown away by R. D. Laing’s book The Politics of Experience (1967). I’d always had the idea that I would have preferred to have had the option of residending in a place like Kingsley Hall or Soteria House, call it a therapeutic community, or a commune, or what you will, to that of being tortured and imprisoned in a conventional psychiatric setting, or worse, say, a state institution, and having experienced both of the latter to excess, I still feel that way.

    The Laing and Cooper experiments did have their casualties, and it was very good that Loren Mosher saw the virtue in applying a few corrective measures. I guess that’s why the effort persists to this day. Hopefully it can meet with more and greater success in the future.

    I am looking forward to hearing this talk.

  • If the counter cultural revolution has ended, we are now engaged in, if not actively struggling against, the counter revolution, a moment of political and social stagnation and regression.

    “I do not see myself as an anti-psychiatrist, either. Anti-psychiatry is [a] label used against critics as an easy way to silence them and ignore uncomfortable facts.”

    I do see myself as an antipsychiatrist. I don’t see antipsychiatry as a label. I see it as an attitude or a position. The “cure” for “mental illness” is the cessation of treatment services, treatment services occurring under the governing auspices of the profession of psychiatry.

    “I’m not anti-psychiatry; I am anti-bad-psychiatry and believe it’s my responsibility to call it out wherever I see it.”

    I recognize that some approaches work better than others, and that psychiatrists are not, to put it bluntly, the root of all evil or the offspring of the devil. I’m also not going to tell people how to spend their money if they want to spend it on a visit to the psychiatrist. Maybe it is something that will serve this or that individual. I personally have no stake in the “mental ill health” world, and so I have no stake in “buying and selling” therapies.

    On aspect 5 of your central philosophical franework: “How a problem once established perpetuates itself in a process I call “the problem becomes the problem.””

    This established problem is perpetuated, not because it remains a problem, but because the problem no longer remains the problem. The problem, in other words, has become the product.

    Where would all the “people fixers” be without “broken people”? Out of business I would imagine.

  • Rather than perpetually bitch about one’s fate. I think it’s a good idea to celebrate one’s fate, too. All is not bad, all is not lost, not so long as we don’t want it to be anyway. We could throw a big party. Why not? Certainly not because there are all these party poopers, slackers, and such sorts out there. They can do what they want. We could call such a celebration Unique Human Being Pride Day if you want, but it’s one way of doing something, and saying I’m alright at the same time. Libeled or not (the cuter way of saying labeled), I’m alright. How about you?

  • Proper English, OldHead. It isn’t everybody who has your personal history, nor is it everybody who has an inkling of what you’re talking about. I wouldn’t use the expression psychiatry survivors of antipsychiatry either. We say psychiatric survivors for the same reasons that you’ve got rape survivors and disaster survivors, and I don’t, by the way, equate antipsychiatry with rape or disaster.

    Destroying the institution and saving people, particularly children, from it IS a big concern for today, and something we definitely need to be doing everything in our power to bring about.

  • People are treated differently for being different. If everybody were the same what a boring world we would have. Some people have been put in institutions for being different. “Mad” is a term I use for these people, such as yours truly, who have been perceived as different. One could call it proud of being different, often in the face immense odds and opposition. That would work. So does Mad Pride.

  • Anti-psychiatry survivors? There you go again! That’s an expression I would never use. I’ve had no problem surviving antipsychiatry, even if I hope it survives me. I don’t feel threatened by it in the slightest. (E. Fuller Torrey, of course, feels differently. Reagan and antipsychiatry, specifically, deinstitutionalization, shutting down the big state asylums, being in his eyes perceived as very damaging to the system, and its minions.) Psychiatry, on the other hand, is a little more problematic.

  • Rather than opposing disease centred to drug centred treatments, I’d like to see more non-drug-centred treatments.

    You say, “I am not opposed, in principle, to the use of psychiatric drugs. I believe, as I say in the book, that “some psychiatric drugs do help some people in some situations.””

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. I would however say, “I am absolutely opposed, in principle, to the use of psychiatric drugs on this particular person.”

    When I first found myself in the psychiatric prison pretending to be hospital that I found myself in, I wasn’t given a choice in the matter. I took their drugs because otherwise I’d get the same drugs through a syringe, under more constricting conditions.

    I learned to submit, and, eventually, I got out. I don’t think the choice, when it comes to dangerous substances, should ever be taken away from the person, or persons, being so substance abused. We’ve had non-drug treatments for some time now. Witness the Soteria Project approach to first time freak outs. I’d like to see more non-drug centred approaches to treatment, even if they occurred within the context of the traditionally oppressive “hospital” environment. At least, it would be something beyond a perpetually drug numbing daze, and the possibility of a drug induced “mental ill health chronicity”. The idea that anyone should be put on these substances for 20, 30, 40, etc., years, and more, without relief, is ludicrous.

  • Great point about the D in PTSD. I think the same applies to GAD, and all the so-called neuroses as well. Disorder, like disease, goes with the labeling, or rather, the insulting process. In fact, the more serious the disorder, the more serious the insult, which may go some ways to explaining something fundamental about the difficulties in recovering the so-called “seriously affected” face. Sure, words are used to communicate, the same words that are used to intimidate, isolate and destroy. Once you get pushed to the wrong side of the counter so-to-speak, the question becomes how do you return to, how do the doctors phrase it? Oh, yeah. Functionality.