Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Comments by Frank Blankenship

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  • 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.

  • Society is going to react where someone puts their rational logical self on hold, or in suspense. It’s not always a good just society that does so you know. I like the word mad because it’s a pre-medical-model word. When mad becomes “sick”, it’s kind of difficult to avoid the fact that you’re dealing with a mixed metaphor, an abstraction, nonsense, unreality. Uh, an actual decision. However, no amount of reasoning is going to make everybody reasonable all the time. People have flaws, and sometimes they are better off for them. For all the praise given to reason, it would be unreasonable to outlaw madness AKA folly altogether. Folly, after all, is something we are all innocent of on one occasion or another. In other words, I don’t think it’s an us and them dichotomy that the word mad feeds.

  • Powerful article, Ted. People give a lot of lip service to caring about kids, and then, whoops, that big communication gap, the nut house. So much for that concern. Destruction happens, and even death. Thanks for writing this piece. I hope it does some good.

  • I don’t have a problem supporting movements. Progressive movements, that is, and I see Mad Pride as progressive. I can see working in and with the Mad Pride Movement easily. I don’t, however, want to have anything to do with the Mental Health Movement. To people involved in such a movement, all I can say is, “mental” this.

    You go sell you maltreatments elsewhere. I don’t want any.

  • Don’t get “mad” but I wouldn’t say “Mad Pride” substitutes the term “mad” for “mentally ill”, quite the reverse. People have been calling people “mad” for a few centuries now. They only got around to calling the same sort of people “mentally ill” (i.e. “medicalization”) fairly recently.

    I haven’t heard of any “Mad Superiority” movement, but if there were one, I’d be all for it. Certainly, there are people suffering from a surfeit of what could be described as “normality”, or “ordinariness”, or “average-ness”, or drabness, take your pick. Boringly normal is, if nothing else, bo-ring.

    I don’t know that it would be reactionary to recognize people who experience difficulties in life. If I remember correctly, reaction often becomes a matter of prejudging, dismissing, and killing such people. Such mistreatment is taking place even when that reaction is trying to confuse people by employing the rhetoric of revolution.

  • Caution suggested when using. A tab of LSD may result in a relapse of psychedelic experience. However, I digress.

    I worry about people being too slow in their tapering. I know of a few people now who aren’t tapering, probably because they think they can’t. Instead their answer to “sleep disorder” AKA insomnia, drug or stress induced, has become Seroquel.

    The best treatment for psych-drug damage is not to put people on them in the first place. Obviously, drugs are not going to deal with whatever problem it is that a person may be having living life, striving, thriving, jiving, or whatever.

    You can’t get it, maybe, sure, but you CAN get a drug.

  • Institutional psychiatry, the so-called public “mental health” system, needs abolition. Getting people out of jails and prisons was the same lame excuse which brought on the psychiatric prison system, and expanded it, in an infinitely chronic direction, in the first place. People tend to be, however, freer in punitive institutions than in “medical” ones–so long as force is the order of the day. The poor houses and work shops of yesterday are long gone, but not so the psychiatric plantation system. Tear the fake hospital/real prisons down, and let people be. Tolerance begins at home.

  • Changing the state means changing the people in it, and, sure, if you can.

    You seem to think you can convince everyone to disregard psychiatry. I have serious doubts about your power of persuasion in that case. This social agreement that you look for (to scrap the psychiatric) hasn’t taken place in 300 years or thereabouts. I’m all for getting rid of institutional psychiatry, and institutional as opposed to private practice. I don’t think we can get rid of it without enacting legislation against it. In other words, without some kind of decree, I don’t see it happening.

  • I’d like to think we were evolving in the same direction, OldHead, but I still have a problem with any call to “abolish psychiatry”. My call would rather be for the abolition of forced treatment. Psychiatry and forced treatment are not synonymous. They are not synonyms. I see forced treatment as the real problem, and not psychiatry so much, by definition.

    I think that any call to abolish psychiatry confuses the issue and creates a red herring. I’m not saying, by any means, that psychiatry isn’t a false science. I’m saying that, false or not, I wouldn’t be legislating away one’s freedom of practice it. Again, the problem for me is not quack doctors, the problem is force, coercion.

    Get rid of the force, to put it more simply, and psychiatry has not the power that it has today, a power to force itself on people who don’t want it and would choose not to be so insulted, abused and humiliated.

    I don’t see my position as pro-psychiatry. It’s just the slant is different. I’m not selling psychiatry, but I’m not outlawing it either. I think that’s the only way you’re going to get rid of it. By outlawing it. Coercive treatments (mistreatments really), on the other hand, those I would outlaw. One has to bend the law to indulge in them in the first place, in my view anyway.

  • The snake oil salesmen are at it again. Their snake oil, regrettably, consists of toxic substances, imprisonment and talk. No. I’m not buying.

    I get increasingly disgusted with a corruption that supports a chronic imaginary disease industry as time advances. I don’t think anyone need waste their life as a professional mental patient. People have better things to be doing with their time. Conversion to the “mental illness” faith does not represent a viable worthwhile direction for the country, or a significant proportion of it, to be taking as far as I’m concerned.

    Dr. Shedler had some good points to make. Not so, Pies and Ruffalo. Gratefully Phil Hickey is there to set matters straight. The best defense being a good offense, lets hear a big cheer for anti-psychiatry go up around the world. Black Lives Matter. So do mad lives. Should Trump send federal forces in, our position can only improve.

  • Radical psychiatry is a contradiction in terms. Only anti-psychiatry is radical. Ditto, anti-fascism and anti-racism.

    Psychiatry is mentalist/sanist by definition. Small wonder that it is racist to boot.

    “Mental illness” is a metaphor, not a fact. The “cure” is, was, and always will be cessation of “treatment”, especially when that “treatment” consists primarily of pretense, confinement, injury, and torture.

    Drugs are drugs and, to one degree or another, toxic substances. Drugs include psychiatric so-called medications. Drugs are not medicine.

    Acting under the assumption that thinking clearly is as important as reading, writing and arithmatic, the way out of our current “mental health crisis” is through mandating courses in logic for all students in the public education system. When people are taught to think logically, they will be less prone to think illogically.

  • Corruption in psychiatry starts with the mother tongue. Bodily organs develop illnesses, minds don’t develop illnesses. I caught a cold, in other words, is more correct than I caught a fear of other people (i.e. agoraphobia). People don’t choose to catch a common cold, however, there must be more choice involved in the contagious quality of agoraphobia. Evasions of personal responsibility, hmm, I think we’ve got an out here that psychiatry, “mental health” policing authorities anyway, have been responsible, in an irresponsible manner of course, for promoting.

    Just imagine, thinking one has a disease when one doesn’t have a disease has become an excuse for the prescription of toxic, and often addictive, chemicals. I don’t imagine taking such chemicals is going to make anybody think they don’t have an imaginary disease, if such thinking be “health”.

  • I recently ran into someone with a conspiracy theory to explain corona-virus. I generally think in the opposite direction, that is, “mental illness” = fictive (i.e. fraudulent) illness, corona-virus = real (i.e. authentic) illness. Another way to put it is to say that either illness is physical or it is not illness. The idea that people panicking over corona virus have some kind of “mental illness” doesn’t appeal to me so much. Hypochondria may be encouraged by the “mental health” coppers on “normality” patrol, but one ought to know better than to go along with such nonsense. Tolerance is the word. We’re waiting for black people mattering, and then maybe we can make mad people matter a little bit more, too.

  • Frantz Fanon was a victim of his own time, in the sense that any man of his time is also a victim of that time, a time that believed mutilating brains with ice picks was a healing treatment. The confusion that came of brain damaging treatments was thought to be beneficial in sort of fashioning new beginnings. *cough, cough* Beyond that aspect of the matter, I think he also helped come up with a solution.

  • I wouldn’t call decolonialism a non-answer however you want to translate it. I think he was just trying to be realistic concerning some of the complexities in throwing off the yoke of western imperialistic rule. Tribalism, after all, helped fuel the slave-trade in its day. Fanon’s treatment, as I understood it, was to direct that anger outward against the source of it that had been directed inwardly at the victim of such exploitation.

  • I’m not against caring, the problem is that some people are going to do some things that will get them in trouble. Then what? Then “therapy”? You get my drift…There are probably some people who shouldn’t be handed over to the police. Once they are, well, the cycle is complete, isn’t it? Now how do we ware out the cycle so-to-speak. They weren’t handed over to the police because somebody cared, and then they get “therapy”, but not because somebody cared enough to prevent it. Where does it end? All too often it doesn’t.

  • “Therapy” or “technique”, it’s still part of the “treatment” industry. If it weren’t “therapy”, why would it have “therapy” in its acronym, its moniker? So now we have these two “treatment” modes, doing incredible business, more damaging “treatments” and less damaging “treatments”. I would suggest a third venue is also available, and that is non-treatment. Early or late, some people find non-treatment most “helpful” of all, and reason enough for retirement from the career “mental patient”, or career “mental patient” minder, business.

  • We need more collective actions! Duh!

    We are the 100,000 %. I really enjoyed normality screening, David. I’d like to see more of that kind of thing taking place. I think the red nose suits me. I wouldn’t mind donning a wig to match. Perhaps if we opened a Non-Normal Academy we could engineer the kind of world we want to see. Normality is a symptom of intolerance, and that is certainly something that the world doesn’t need an excess of.

    That’s a fine looking support team you have there. If the rest of us had something like that, how could we lose? I’d like to see more resistance to the system organized on a massive scale, and for that kind of thing to take off, we’re going to have to work together as a team.

    The turtle and the hare, yeah, that sort of thing. With the right strategy, the future is ours. We could work on applying strategy a little.

  • Diagnosis shifter, eh? That’s a good one. Are you a wereschizophrenic, or a dual genus lifeform (AKA bi-polar)? Or are you just an amorphous diagnosis shifter? And, no, medical doctors don’t have anything to do with that sort of thing whatsoever. It’s all *cough, cough* about the “science”.

  • There is this long running false narrative that I have to applaud you for punching holes in. I remember this soviet dissident in the news, a while back of course, complaining about the TD he got while in a special psychiatric unit. He thought it was OK to give the stuff (psych drugs) to people who were “sick” but “normal” people like himself should have been spared. (Um, curious. Did he mean that antipsychotics, so-called, aren’t good for non-psychotics?) Eventually the laundry has to be aired. There’s a reason intelligent, non-disturbed, people don’t take neuroleptic drugs as a rule. I’m not sure there’s a real reason why silly and confused people stomach them, except perhaps, under the duress of non-peer pressure. Our ability to suffer fools, officially designated fools anyway, has not increased appreciably over time. Neuroleptic drugs kill, and you want to be a little discrete about whom you choose to off in such a fashion.

  • “The article is called The lure of “cool” brain research is stifling psychotherapy. The central theme is that prior to 1990, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) “appreciated the need for a well-rounded approach [to mental health] and maintained a balanced research budget that covered an extraordinarily wide range of topics and techniques.” However, since 1990, the opening year of the Decade of the Brain, the NIMH has “increasingly narrowed its focus almost exclusively to brain biology—leaving out everything else that makes us human, both in sickness and in health.””

    The premise mentioned above is false. Absolute nonsense.

    Allen Frances, architect of the disastrous DSM 1V, has managed to keep his name in the spotlights by pretending to be the chief critic of the DSM V. Allen Frances however is still very much more a part of the problem than he ever will be part of the solution. There were critics of the system prior to Allen Frances even if those critics had nothing whatsoever to do with the DSM IV.

    I would contrast with Allen Frances example that of Loren Mosher. Far from showing themselves open to new ways of thinking, the NIMH, way before 1990, shut his Soteria Project down by pulling the money out from under it and, more or less, gave him the pink slip for not pushing psychiatric drugs they way they thought he ought to have done.

    Gee, so the NIMH wasn’t so open minded before 1990 after all?

    Yep, that’s right. The NIHM has always been, it would seem, very close minded.

    Nice illusion, but no blue ribbon. Psychotherapists are widely known for their drug pushing proclivity anyway.

  • I think the forced treatment (psychiatric institution) abolition movement and the chattel slavery abolition movement are intimately connected, and if we got rid of one oppressive system, we certainly haven’t gotten rid of the other…yet.

    In Virginia, Central and Western State Hospitals weren’t integrated until about 1967 or thereabouts, and primarily because of the struggle to integrate the educational system. In the Jim Crow south then, not only were swimming pools, restaurants, and schools segregated, but so were psychiatric hospitals.

    Today you have this epidemic in so called “mental health” issues because locking people up engendered an industry that can’t survive without ‘customers’. Stop locking people up, and maybe we can start “curing” some of the “service providers”, the “treatment” salespeople, the real culprits behind our current epidemic. Of course, in order to do so, it would help if we could do also something about the drug industry, an industry that also benefits from psychiatric slavery, torture and imprisonment.

  • Hospital is perhaps an even less appropriate word to use for psychiatric detention centers than asylums. These people, our prisoners, are, goes conventional wisdom, guilty, in the absence of any crime, of misbehaving, so if we treat them as “sick” eventually we will get them to “behave”. Such is the hope of the mental health (sic) enforcement community anyway.

  • I would not call psychiatric institutions of today asylums. Such was an illusion created way back when, but it never had much to do with reality. People are, as a rule, just as in the case of other prisons, safer outside of their walls. The use of the term asylum is a result of the paternalism behind the effort to expand such institutions, “our imprisonment, torture, etc., of you is for your own good”, a paternalism that is still with us. Institutional confinement, the “asylum” system, would have had a much harder time expanding if it were not couched in the terminology of, as it is today, “care”. The kind of “care” that gives one pause to express such sentiments as “with friends like these who needs enemies”.

  • Yeah, I don’t know about saying Schizophrenia, Depression, and Bipolar are real while ADHD and BPD are, say, imaginary, or not so real. I think the lot of them are pretty much garbage.

    One could say this or that person has more major problems than this or that other person, but then how seriously do we need to “treat” such problems? The more deeply the person is involved in “treatment”, the deeper he or she tends to sink into the trash.

  • I’ve been off psychiatric drugs for the past twenty years

    I wasn’t really on them before that because I wasn’t going to take them “voluntarily”.

    I haven’t taken any psychiatric drug since the last time I was discharged from the “hospital”.

    It can be done. One just needs to register the fact that these chemicals aren’t good for you, and that they are more likely to harm you than to “heal” you, and that they can, in fact, even kill you.

    “Mental health” may be a scam, but dope is still dope, and dope isn’t good for your health.

  • FACT teams in this country (the USA) have been mainly about insuring that “patients” were compliant with treatment plans (i.e. drugged to the gills or institutionalized). I feel sorry for so-called peers that would support that kind of thing however I know that Open Dialogue operates along different lines, and any “alternative” to the current FACT team approach, some kind of policing function, has got to be an improvement. A FACT team that I could work with rather than against in the interests of saving the “patient’s” health from certain detriment, and his or her freedom from certain deprivation? Yeah, that I’d like to see.

  • I think you have a point, Steve. Namely, medicalization, the selling of “mental disorders” and their “treatments” has escalated, as has, what goes along with it, the numbers of “patients”. I figure corporatocracy has a lot to do with it. On the one hand, women can get work in the field, on the other, they’d be working in the wrong field (i.e. the labeling, drugging, and oppression of “mental patients”). Liberation!? Let’s get back to that. Yeah!

    Congratulations on the book, Lucas. This looks like one I could be reading. In recent years there has been a reaction against the movements of the recent past. I’m all for counter cultural revolution. No regrets. It’s high time we rehabilitated the times that made yours truly.

  • No length of imprisonment is going to make people well who weren’t sick in the first place.

    Neither will any amount of federal subsidy provide the basic necessity of, plain and simple, the avenue to financial independence, purposeful labor, a job.

    Nor will any amount of drugging (intoxicating pollutants) produce sobriety (sanity).

    That’s the big three when it comes to what’s been done that shouldn’t have been done. The obverse of the big three shouldn’ts would be the big three shoulds. Something along the lines of liberty, industry, and health–physical health.

  • I find the people who write this kind of thing, that is, rationalizing, if limply, the asylum system, very disturbing. I think such people ought to be confined to an asylum until such a time as they recover from such delusional beliefs, or die, whichever comes first.

    “We found no evidence that people were admitted for “social deviance” such as having illegitimate children, political activity, or petty crime.”

    We found no such evidence of people being admitted for social deviance except in so far as they were “raving,” “incoherent,” “delusional”; singing, shouting or praying inappropriately, or being, given another leap to judgment (and no due process to boot) unable to care for themselves allegedly.

    Social is not, to my way of thinking, a form of disability.

    The successful selling of “mental illness” and it’s “treatment” in the 1990s, over the 1890s, has led to a population explosion of people deemed to be so “afflicted”. This population boom, in combo with the closing of the old places of incarceration, has led to the opening of many mini-institutions, as well as more subtle methods of social coercion, indoctrination, management and control of deviant populations. Who needs a full time staff when you’ve got ankle bracelets and neuroleptic drugs?

    Okay, so maybe we’re not there yet, but given time, robotics is sure to take up the slack. Ready, aim, tazer!

    I disagree, obviously. We’ve in the past seen at least two great increases in the mental patient population. The first came with the development of the huge asylums you speak of, and the second came with the advent of social welfare and psychiatric drugs. If you want sanity, you’re going to have to put things in reverse, and then fast forward to before there were any “great” asylums. Lesson learned, we still don’t need them.

  • As I see it, same thing in the USA, peer support *cough, cough* being seen as the gateway into a job in mental health work, often involving attaining a degree in psychology, the vast majority of these careerists are not, and I must emphasis this point, all that critical of their profession. If they were, their career aims would be different. Career aims that criticism puts at risk, and threatens, on top of which there is that old “peer” pressure to be as obsequious as possible.

  • With psychiatric patient/consumers either clients of or workers in the system, sometimes both, where are the jobs that would give them a life anywhere else? How do we cure people, in other words, of the provision and the procurement of psychiatric bondage in one form or another? This artificial “neediness” and “learned helplessness” that has become so prevalent and burdensome.

    I remember when we were a liberation movement. *sigh*

  • There might be a place for philosophy in psychoanalysis, however, my view is that psychoanalysis represents religion (AKA folly), the old nemesis of philosophy, given its search for truth and wisdom. Will philosophy help you “heal souls”? I dunno. Kinda have to consult a priest on that one.

  • I think we’ve got what one might call a communication problem here. I’m not in any “reform psychiatry movement”. I have no desire to work in, nor for, the mental health police, their thugs, nor their chemical enforcers. I don’t see how anybody can get into that system without becoming tainted, and in negative ways, by it.

    I don’t know if plain English will work, but let me try, please. Mental health is not consuming mental health treatment. Working for the system keeps the nonsense going. It is corrupting by its very nature. You don’t sell mental health treatment without, at the same time, selling mental ill health.

    Perhaps you’ve read or seen a performance of the play No Exit? Mental health, so-called, or perhaps wisdom should be the preferable word, is about taking the exit.

  • Great article. I hope it went over well at Counter Punch. I find myself in complete agreement with the essence and tone of this one. “Sublime madness” it is, was, and will continue to be. I’m very happy to see Harriet Tubman and Emma Goldman enter your pantheon of exemplary people deserving of our praise. That they were, and may many follow in their glorious example. Given the ongoing political dynasty and it’s crises, I think the forces for change could use a few raw recruits. and maybe such an position could help win us a few much needed friends and allies.

  • The closest I found when searching for definitions, if kirist is an anagram on Kristi, Kristi is the female name for a believer in Christ. I see, in this word, the old Achilles heel of psychiatry rearing its head again. I don’t imagine the interest here is in that of seeking truth. This is not about philosophy which might compliment science, but rather it’s about religion that remains at a remove from, and at odds with, science

  • The Edward Shorter quotes leave me speechless. I guess you’d call him an anti-antipsychiatry psychiatrist. His approach to psychiatry is not that critical to his profession, and he is certainly not the person you’d want introducing the public to the work of Bonnie Burstow.

    Thank you for this post. If it’s not the necessary corrective to the New York Times piece, it’s moving in that direction. The Times, obviously, should have been talking with some of Bonnie’s friends.

  • I really can’t blame psychiatry for literally everything, nor can I ignore all the accomplices in crime psychiatry has managed to develop in associated and allied professions. If It were the mental ill health fabrication system that needed to die, I would agree with you. The problem is that some people seem to conflate psychiatry with forced treatment and the two are not synonymous. In other words, get rid of the one, and you still haven’t gotten rid of the other. I think we should get rid of forced psychiatric treatment. I don’t think doing so will relieve the world of fools of any type. Prohibition of psychiatry? I’m really not a prohibition type person. I don’t see how you can get rid of the profession without resorting to some of the same heavy handed tactics used to enforce it’s will. I had rather see more people freed (i.e. liberated), in other words, than enslaved, and I question whether you would be doing so by changing places, in so far as brute force is concerned, with your en slaver (i.e. oppressor).

  • I’ve heard the expression “social disability” used before, and I think it curious, despite stinking of welfare fraud. However, when it’s a matter of survival, if you can’t play the guitar with your teeth maybe you can call your socially manufactured unemployment “disability”. If the government had not basically destroyed the labor movement in this country, you could have united with other people in your position, and sued for another one, position, that is. Hmm. Revive the labor movement, and you still can.

    Given Bernie’s stand against force, if Bernie makes the ticket, I’m voting for him. If not, I will vote Green again. No Regrets.

  • Never liked the term I’ve heard bandied about so much recently (i.e. self-advocacy). Self-advocacy is common sense, but beyond developing that, I’ve not been advocating for myself so much. I don’t take psychiatric drugs. I know they cause harm, and not to myself alone. I see self-advocacy, in this sense, as a misleading and deceptive term. You can take psychiatric drugs if you want to, but presume I’m one to encourage their use, and you presume wrong. Beyond so-called self-advocacy there is solidarity with my struggling brothers and sisters who have experienced and endured oppression from the psychiatric system. That solidarity is not such a selfish matter as one might suppose.

  • I was once a candidate, actually taking, human services training. I would describe the experience as a kind of comedy of errors in the making. A classical farce, in other words. How did I get into this biz? I didn’t, but if I had, how did I get into it? How else are you going to earn a paycheck after psychiatric labeling? I was reprimanded for talking about the dangers of using psychiatric drugs with the bus driver, another “product” of the system. The person in charge gave me a dressing down about how I needed to change my attitude, or the job, guaranteed by the program, wouldn’t be mine on completion. There were even special accommodations made for some of the people with Tardive Dyskinesia. Before there was no backing out, that is, before it could mean a possible academic mark for or against me, I backed out. I was telling the lady in charge, sure, I got it, and I was going to, you know, buckle under and do what was expected of me. The best I could have expected out of the program was a gig as a mental health copper on an ACT team making sure resistant “patients” were “compliant” in their drug taking regimen. Happily, I’m not at all suited for that sort of thing.

  • Psychiatrists already get off on labeling clients “incompetent/dysfunctional”. Between themselves, with this in house form of labeling professionals, if anyone of them wants to object, it becomes a gentleman’s (and woman’s) disagreement about terms and approaches. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’re going to see any “conceptually incompetent” psychiatrists locked up (or locked out) anytime soon. If you did, that would be a game changer.

  • Why don’t we have a more “nuanced” history of work shops, poor houses, hard labor and concentration camps? Actually, I think we did ourselves good by getting rid of them. The Victorian monstrosity of the Kirkbride asylum is not really right where it should be, being a ruin and a relic of history. No, these Victorian monstrosities should have never been built in the first place. They represent places where people were swept under the rug so-to-speak, a number on concrete bump or slab, everybody’s shame.

    This is coming up, I imagine, because people like Trump want a return to the old asylums, that is, more people, innocent people, unjustly incarcerated.

    Perhaps we need a more nuanced view of Walter Freeman and ice-pick lobotomies. We could try to bring back those, too. Perhaps clozaril, or you name it, isn’t as effective as we’d like it to be.

    Me, I don’t need a good knock on the head. Do you?

  • “But to rethink the clinical encounter is not to rethink the entirety of mental health practice” unless, of course, you happen to be antipsychiatry or mad movement. I don’t think there is anything these people might do to prevent close encounters of the awkward kind. I don’t think it is this admission on a shrink or twos part that is entirely a bad thing either. They could also, that is, envision a world that excluded us, and/or our input, entirely.

  • Laing took a more rightward (and drunken) turn, post sixties, and Szasz, he was never truly antipsychiatry either, not, anyway, if you don’t equate psychiatry with forced treatment. Szasz was also *cough* what they call an ‘anticommunist’ (i.e. pro-capitalist. How do you say? Oh, yeah. One who often sided with the bosses and robber barons.

    I don’t know about reducing one to the other, but I do know that comparative studies, such as those conducted by Thomas Szasz, have their place, and if one compares, relatively speaking, the one with other, that is psychiatric slavery with chattel slavery, it could be said to be a form of the same. Of course, the degrees of difference, in one from the other, are still quite large, but all in all, the similarities connect them.

  • I don’t think they, the antipsychiatry and the Mad Pride movements, have to be mutually exclusive, OldHead. I don’t see those different animals you see. On the one hand, we celebrate our differences, and on the other hand, we oppose locking people up, and (mis)treating them, on account of those differences.

  • Psychiatric power, the title of one of Michel Foucault’s lectures, is the real culprit here.

    I don’t think one should be so simplistic as to cast psychiatry in the role of the devil’s doctrine. Psychiatry could have done nothing without a whole lot of help from legislators, communities, families and allied professionals.

    R.D. Laing supported deinstitutionalization. Thomas Szasz supported the idea of “adult orphanages”, albeit devoid of force and compulsion. These are too very different positions.

    Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared, in my opinion, is not a book I would laud highly. It puts, as one might note, Szasz squarely in the psychiatry camp. Castigating Laing and leftists professionals, all lumped in the same boat, it allows the enemies of change plenty of fodder, and fodder that could even be turned against Szasz on occasion.

    If the antipsychiatry mantle has passed from psychiatrists, playing the role of antishrink, to psychiatric survivors and other professionals, I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. That point ascertained, it certainly doesn’t displace psychiatry from its lofty position at the head of the quackery department.

  • The Special Rapporteur spoke of “over-medicalization” in the context of labeling and drugging children. I’m not sure there is another way to tackle the subject effectively. At least he was recognizing such treatment for what it is, a form of excess. All medicalization is over-medicalization, when it comes to psychiatric drugs, in the sense that you are treating figurative “illnesses” as if they were physiological illnesses. The labeling and drugging of children on a large scale is a rather recent phenomenon, but look at where it leads. Children grow up, and into such learned conditions as adult ADHD *cough, cough*, or adult bipolar affective disorder. Cease labeling and drugging children, and you’ve got less so-called “mental illness” across the board. That’s another form of learning for you. One might call it learned healthiness, or even self-reliance.

  • Wow. They’re cognizant of our existence. Do you really need a better reason for more, much more, mad activism? Ditto, antipsychiatry? All I can say is, it sure beats wasting away in a total (i.e. totalitarian) institution. We need to do more. We need to do away with all such institutions.

  • I’d rather keep my “civil rights” (and human rights) intact over any “mental condition” supposedly cancelling them out, or superseding them, Dr. Pinsky, all “anosognosia” or “illness denial” aside. Thank you anyway.

    Great article. Keep up the good work.

    We need to rebuild our movement, and the way we to do that is by fighting institutionalization, not by caving into it. Thank you for doing your part.

  • The institutions ARE addicted to pharmaceutical use. The many times that I was held in psychiatric institutions against my will, I was never given a choice when it came to taking psycho-active drugs. Had I been given a choice, I would not have taken them at all. The neuroleptics anyway. I didn’t like what they did to me. If it’s bad in the psychiatric hospital, it’s got to be much worse in prison, or that place where the two systems come together, forensic psychiatry. I like the liberation oriented slant of your interview, and hope something positive might come out of your efforts to do something about the matter. Thank you for what you do.

  • I have a little problem with this idea that the receipt of “mental health” trickment should serve as a gateway to a career in the provision of “mental health” trickment. What was madness again? Wasn’t it something like not learning from experience, and repeating your folly ad nauseum?

  • A great article about a great scholar and a great activist. We’ve lost so many in our movement over the recent years, and this is a loss that it is certainly going to be difficult to recover from. I sincerely hope you’ve got the people in Canada to take up where Bonnie left off, to continue her work, and to strengthen and support her legacy.

    As for the struggle in the USA, maybe we could take a few lessons from Bonnie on behalf of the struggle here. I hope so. Our struggle certainly needs more people with her kind of determination and resolve.

    Thank you, Bonnie, for everything you’ve done. I wish you were still around so that I could say so in person.

  • The abuse excuse saved James Holmes life. All the experts in court claimed he had a “mental illness”, and the jury couldn’t bring itself to execute (sanction state homicide of) such a “damaged” individual. What do we get out of this crime and trial? Certainly, not justice. I feel the Holmes case itself must have been the main inspiration behind the movie Joker. As one might expect, if one were rational, not being too fond of the “insanity defense”, I’m not very fond of the abuse excuse (i.e. trauma informed care) as it is applied outside of the criminal justice system either.

    If I expressed anything in a offensive manner here, then, childhood trauma didn’t make me do so.

  • I agree and disagree in some regards. You’ve got more “mental patients” than ever before (medicalization), in part, because of this expanding “service industry”, that is, in some cases, an expanding bureaucracy employing present or ex-patients. I’m not particularly fond of “mental health” world myself. One solution is to fund it, and another is to defund it. Socialism, the psychiatric institution, well, I have a few problems with the very suggestion. By expanding the human services industry we aren’t exactly getting people out of chronic pseudo-medical model care. I’m not, in this instance, going to be tipping my hat to, and winking at, a certain amount of cynicism and oppression entertained by the paternalistic mob and the newly minted wards of the state of their creation.

  • I’d call the problem here ‘the long reach of those “mental patient” gloves’. The looney bin is, quite literally, where they stash trash people.

    Thanks for trying to do something constructive about the situation. Xmas, on the wards, can sure be a bummer.

  • Or are we supposed to overcome our “sanity” in order to gain pride in our newfound madness? War, environmental degradation, and putting profit over people all along have been equated with “sanity” while our present head of state is about as big “a danger to self and others” as you are likely to run across in several lifetimes.

    Regarding “flawed”, I don’t know about “deeply”, but you find “perfection”, and you’ve just performed an instant lobotomy on yourself.

  • Organizations are what make organizing worthwhile. Organizations that can effect change. The factionalism remains, even with organizations. As is, organization has benefited the more moderate and compromising apologists for the system. Given the great failure of these compromises, as illustrated in the recent passage of the Murphy bill into law of one sort or another, I see hope for the more radical, and less compromising, factions, your milk toast moderate having become his or her own worst enemy.