Sunday, July 12, 2020

Comments by anomie

Showing 100 of 169 comments. Show all.

  • I’ve written this before in comments here because it’s so important – doctors cannot fix the effects of end stage capitalism.

    I just want to add to my earlier comment – expecting doctors to “cure” end stage capitalism seems incredibly cruel. No wonder the suicide rate in this profession is so high. Their own system of training and the expectations are more than anyone could handle.

  • The media’s emphasis on healthcare workers as heroes draws the focus away from the crucial responsibilities of the public, and healthcare and governmental institutions have to support healthcare workers. This, in turn, prevents healthcare workers’ needs from being met.

    Thank you for this article, but I’m concerned that the emphasis is still on the wrong place. The public has very little power compared to the corporate influences.

    Also, the severity of this epidemic was in part caused by having a sick care system, not a healthcare system, as this article exposes:

    Goldman Sachs asks in biotech research report: ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?’ –

    Diabetes is treated with insulin and called incurable when it can be sent into remission using proper diet and exercise. The government could outlaw tobacco and end smoking, but hasn’t done so. Food deserts could be ended and affordable grocery stores built in these areas. Universal Basic Income during the pandemic should be a monthly event, instead of funneling trillions of dollars upwards to the 1% of wealthiest individuals.

    Diabetes, obesity, smoking, and poverty are all linked to the severity of this pandemic, putting healthcare workers at higher risk.

    Even before the pandemic, record numbers of suicides were already occurring within this profession –

    Doctors’ Suicide Rate Highest of Any Profession –

    I’ve written this before in comments here because it’s so important – doctors cannot fix the effects of end stage capitalism.

    We should be talking about systems, not about people. Would would a heroic healthcare system look like? And what other systems are directly connected?

  • Will nice article and so true. Here is an article in Vice that i wish could be posted in MIA.


    Jim, did you catch this part of that article? “Mental health programs are a top candidate—CIT, preventative mental health services, more psychiatric beds . . . ”

    “More psychiatric beds” is the “bring back the asylum” narrative. (

    Considering many of the accounts of people in “mental illness” crisis in that article involve people who are in psychiatric drug withdrawal (which that article doesn’t bother to note is really what’s going on), is this moving in the right direction? Once you’re dependent on these drugs, it can be a life long sentence that ends in premature death due to the effects of the neurotoxic so-called “medications,” unless you learn how to safely taper off them.

    Police are not the answer, but neither is the “mental health” system. I wish we could move past the simplistic either / or.

    There seems to be this blind faith that doctors can cure the problems caused by late stage capitalism. But they are also the victims themselves –

    I wish more connections could be made before policies are cemented.

  • Yes “wellness checks” are an issue and must be opposed. But this is not separate from the need to oppose ALL psychiatry, and all capitalism for that matter.. To pretend that a grand alliance of psychiatric victims/survivors and “mental health” workers should lead the way is simplistic and absurd.

    Exactly, Oldhead. Thank you for emphasizing this. Not only is it simplistic and absurd, it’s also dangerous because the psychiatric hegemony is not being challenged and ended. “Mental health” workers will never lead the way to anything more than expanding their own guild interests. This is why:

    ALL SURVIVORS should assert — and plan to exercise — our right as an oppressed class to self-determination.

  • Of course you have highlighted many particular forms of oppression that this system of capitalism engenders. And ending capitalism is the ultimate solution to these problems. NO AMOUNT of so-called reforms will bring about the changes we need.

    Very true, Richard. Psychiatry’s role is to convince people that the pain caused by capitalism is an individual disease or disorder and not the result of capitalism. Same is true of a lot of the “mental health” system.

    “Defund the police” should run in tandem with “defund psychiatry” in the movement toward an equitable and socialist society. If the current climate of activism continues, hopefully the support that so many people need will be naturally incorporated into the struggle and “mental health” workers will become irrelevant. Activism creates community action toward political change and this is the real therapy we need.

  • Anomie and Will

    Very important dialogue here. I can’t comment deeper at this time, but I hope others have taken note of this discussion and join in.

    Thank you, Richard. I hope you do have time to comment later because I enjoy a lot of your analysis and would be interested in your take on this topic.

  • The #defiund movement has a lot of critics from their left. Yes it can be co-oopted.

    Will, this is what I was trying to say earlier. It’s a major and legitimate fear.

    Getting psychiatry to give up their power won’t happen without an abolitionist movement.

    The Alternatives movement came in as a “friendly” reform movement in the mid-80s and completely destroyed the psychiatric abolitionist movement (or attempt at a movement) of the 70s.

    It shows us where the real change and leadership is coming from – it’s not within our movement it’s in a broader social change movement.

    I like parts of this aspect, except if it takes away leadership from survivors and hands it to “experts.” Historically, that has never worked out well for the most marginalized survivors.

    And I fear that giving legitimacy to “mental health” gives legitimacy to “mental illness,” which further engrains the concept of needing psychiatry in power.

  • Now, at this point you may ask, But what will we do about crime without police? The answer, as many people have been discussing for decades (and Alex Vitale writes in his free e-book The End of Policing), is that we fund community-controlled prevention and response programs, we end mass incarceration, we end the war on drugs, and we end immigration detention. Near where I live, Richmond, California reduced its murder rate with such community programs, and there are many, many examples of other effective ways to do it. Defunding the police and building community responses is real, it can work, and it is available to us..

    I’m quoting from your article, Will. We probably agree on more than we disagree.

    But I do worry about “mental health” professionals being involved in community programs. Only 2% of psychiatrists and only 4% of social workers and psychologists are African American, so handing policing over to the “mental health” system does carry risks, especially with the psychiatric hierarchy still in play.

    Are you a psychiatric abolitionist or a reformist? I’m unclear after re-reading this article and your comment to me.

  • Hey there anomie, we need you to give us some constructive strategies not just doompost “No, that won’t work.” You may have decided the world is hopeless and the psychiatric system wins, a lot of us disagree.

    Will, I come from an abolitionist background, not reformist. I think you read too much into that one comment which was not about your article, but a continuation of what Rachel had just stated – and she’s right – “mental health” professionals ARE the police. Are we not allowed to say that here? Do you not understand that we’re coming from a place of deep pain and worry at how bringing in “mental health” professionals may harm people?

    If you read the more than 100 comments have made here, I have suggested a strategy for the psychiatric system – abolish it. You may not agree with it, but that doesn’t make it wrong or unproductive. It adds nuance to this discussion on police, if allowed.

    It’s a constructive strategy, or at least, a constructive goal to work toward.

    The point is there is a global uprising right now, an uprising that is basically saying, if you look closely, “give us mental health alternatives to the police.”

    We don’t need “mental health” alternatives. We need to end police brutality, end the war on drugs AND the wars overseas, end gentrification and provide affordable housing, provide anti-bias education in the classrooms and to adults, end capitalism and bring in Universal Basic Income, end the war on drugs, end food deserts, start worker-owned coops, break up the big banks, provide free holistic healthcare, etc.

    We don’t need “mental health” professionals for any of this. In fact, in protecting their guild interests, they will likely interfere, even if it’s unintentionally.

    Instead, I keep getting emails from mental health organizations with nice words with no real substance asking for more money.

    What do you expect from them?

    I’m not sure why you felt the need to unload all of this in a post directed at me, but it made me feel very uncomfortable.

  • Sadly psychiatrists are already planning on setting up their own police. My guess is if you end the current police system, “mental health” will take over completely as far as those already labeled are concerned.

    I fear you’re right, Rachel. It seems the framework is already there.

    And sadly, too many people would turn themselves in. The later versions of the DSM were written so that ordinary people would start to self-label. Many already do.

  • Sera, I’m a white female. My post had nothing to do with gender. You are reading way too much into what I wrote.

    Instead of taking this so personally and giving me a lecture, I wish you would pay attention to the point I was making and the points others are making. Many of us have been involved in social justice areas for a long time.

    Personally, I’d rather focus on discussions dealing with racist policies, not critiquing racist commenters. That was the point.

    I’m going to disengage from this. It’s clear you have no interest in talking with us, only talking to us.

    And that’s set up a very difficult atmosphere to hold a productive conversation.

    As a side note, and please don’t take this as me being sexist, but I’m sorry you’re struggling so much. You’re right – working mothers do carry more weight then men, especially during a pandemic.

  • Thank you for this article and bringing the concept of defund the police into psychiatric survivor consciousness here on MiA.

    There’s an opinion piece on MindFreedom written by psychiatric survivor Pat Risser in November 2008. The article is called “Psychiatric Survivor Inside A Police Training Conference.”

    The article chronicles Risser’s experience in this police training conference, but because the conference was overwhelming narrated by NAMI and the medical model, Risser’s points were lost in the overall messaging of drugs and forced treatment. He writes:

    Some attendees seemed almost puzzled because I wasn’t typical medical model. I spoke of discrimination and prejudice. I spoke of how the system oppresses mental patients and teaches them learned dependency. A few seemed to understand.

    Then I went out and interacted with others at the rest of the conference and I got more and more scared.

    The conference left Risser with a message that we all need to hear:

    I recalled another fanatic group in the 1930’s and 1940’s who used the muscle of a heavily armed law enforcement branch to impose their will. I started to “flashback” to scenes of goose-stepping authorities imposing oppression on those they deemed different and not “pure” – people sort of like those of us who have been labeled as having a brain disease caused by an impure mind due to a chemical imbalance.

    I watched the disingenuous smiles of the NAMI folks and I realized that I’d come face to face with the enemy. Those of us who are part of the movement for human rights in opposition to psychiatric oppression need to beware because, unbeknownst to most of us, NAMI is literally building an paramilitary army out of law enforcement that will be the enFORCEment arm of involuntary treatment.

  • News flash: We have something to offer–we are your peers, not your students. Dialogue is respect. Demanding that people follow rules isn’t.

    Exactly, Meremortal. Thank you for calling this out.

    Sera, did you see Will Hall’s article from yesterday?

    This is the way to bring the issue of George Floyd into MiA consciousness. This article takes a look at specific policies and names them and brings them into personal and political context.

    In order to work toward ending racism, we need to look at the systems and policies that support racism and focus there. We all hold racists and biased beliefs, but if we work together to end the systems and policies that support racism, then we can form an anti-racist society.

    Sera, please learn from what we’re saying, especially what Meremortal and Richard have written in this thread. Also take a look at the comments for this article and for Will’s article and notice how different they are.

  • Mr. Whitaker, since I’m one who drew attention to the diversity issue, I want to add to your comment. I saw your book, On the Laps of Gods, listed on an Equal Justice Initiative reading list and bought a copy. It’s an incredibly well-researched book on a topic we need to know more about. There are direct correlations to what’s going on today.

    Please note that my issue of lack of diversity on MiA is not personally meant to target you. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to get this site up and going within the context of psychiatry’s overreaching power.

    As I posted earlier in this thread, your work has provided life-saving information to countless people. That burden should never be carried by just one person. There’s a lot of work to be done by all of us.

    I hope more people from diverse areas will join in this work. I appreciate that you took the time to comment on this and reassure us that it’s an issue you value.

  • And even if George Floyd’s name weren’t mentioned here, why weren’t there even any mentions of the US currently basically being on fire?

    Sera, you may want to search more than just George Floyd’s name if you’re looking for references to the US currently being on fire. I searched the term “protests” and came to an example from one of my own comments from a week ago in an earlier MiA article:

    Specifically, this line: “This is too dangerous not to call out, especially in these times as righteous protests line the streets of the cities in a cry for racial and economic justice.”

    It’s when you connect psychiatric oppression as a force for policing that it comes together. And that’s an antipsychiatry belief (not reformist).

    Everything is interrelated, as you wisely note. But without the appropriate connections being made reliably and consistently on MiA (which they aren’t), then anticipating a more reliable and consistent outcome isn’t logical and shouldn’t be expected.

    MiA is a brilliant site for finding information you individually find useful and then bringing into your own narrative or community narrative.

    There will always be better venues for discussions on what’s going on within the various protest movements. A venue that’s largely white owned and run – and reformist – is unlikely to be the best place to get information on the George Floyd protests. As Meremortal wisely stated, “Not every story is for every outlet.”

  • I’m not saying that MiA is perfect–far from it, and anomie’s comments are on point regarding lack of representation in the MiA staff–but I also don’t actually agree that MiA failing to post about George Floyd, specifically, is any kind of oversight or problem.

    Excellent point, Meremortal. What happened with George Floyd was institutionalized racism in the police force, not psychiatry. Ending police brutality against the Black community is – and should be – the main focus. Makes sense it wouldn’t organically appear here on MiA.

  • Anomie — Though I get your point and it’s a valid one, simply putting Black faces on MIA would be counterproductive if they support critical psychiatry/”reform” arguments which would objectively harm the interests of Back people.

    Oldhead, I get what you’re saying here, but MiA has done a lot to provide information that moves reformists into abolitionists by providing scientific data and outcome studies. And right now, there’s no abolishment movement to do anything better. Yes, there are survivors going in that direction, but we’re not there yet.

    And what Robert Whitaker documented in Anatomy is life-saving information. Script the narrative as you will in regards to reform versus abolition, but that information has saved, at this point, likely tens of thousands of lives, if not more. And it’s gone a long way to discredit psychiatry as a profession. That works to the abolitionists’ favor.

    It’s “big tent” information that needs to get out to as many people as possible, reformists and abolitionists. We all gather together on this site for a reason.

  • I think it’s a fair criticism of this piece that it wasn’t clear enough in its criticism of Mad in America oversight and their responsibility here.

    Thank you for your response, Sera. Since only 2% of psychiatrists and only 4% of psychologists are African American, as long as MiA caters to the reformist agenda, this site will likely suffer from these types of issues.

    If MiA is truly dedicated to solving this contradiction, perhaps it will offer more psychiatric abolition material.

  • Very good points, Meremortal. Seems like if MiA followed an abolitionist standard, it would be more likely to solve this problem and be a much better site overall.

    It’s troubling that some of the Black Lives Matter messaging has included wanting more access to mental health “treatment.” I don’t know how widespread that is and I would imagine folks further to the left would likely be abolitionists, but right now, they don’t have the microphone, at least in venues where most of the media is right now.

  • And Sera, as a follow up, I want to say that I’m not holding you accountable for the failings of the powers that run this site.

    But in this article you state: “George Floyd was murdered by the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. As I sit here nearly two weeks later, I can find no mention of that on this site.”

    My question to the staff here at MiA: Why is this the first article speaking to this issue? The world rose up in protest, while the writers on MiA were silent.

    The issue you should have is not with the commenters (for one thing, Sera, your first comment in this article was to chastise PatHUSA for going off topic). So how exactly is it the commenters’ fault that these issues aren’t being addressed? We don’t write the articles and you’re telling us to stay within the topic boundaries of what’s already out there.

    There’s a lot of mixed messaging here that wouldn’t be happening if this site were run with diverse voices.

    As a white person myself, I’m less interested in what other white people have to say and more interested in listening to those who’ve been impacted the most by systemic racism — and all of the other systems of oppression that are converging on top of each other at this point in our history.

    I hope MiA will improve in this area and stop blaming the commenters for the shortcomings of the staff.

  • It is an important point, anomie. Thank you for naming it.

    Sera, is there anything being done to address the lack of diversity in MiA’s staff? It’s a serious problem.

    Calling out problematic commenters as the root cause of the lack of diversity here is a distraction and it comes across as very tone deaf. MiA needs to fix the problem at the top. This is where the power to determine website content and continuing education exists.

    I’m not asking to name it. I’m asking it to be solved.

  • I agree that it is a positive to have people being “honest”, HOWEVER, I think any use of the term “irreversible” is potentially both misleading and damaging.

    Apace, please note the article does qualify the term, stating “potentially irreversible.” As Dr. Shipko noted, “This article is another piece of supporting data for the Anatomy of an Epidemic thesis on medication and disability. The large scale damage to people over time from these drugs is hard to believe.”

    We need doctors to really digest this information.

  • Also, not all the Drs are the same: we come from different experiences, racial and social backgrounds, social classes and family histories.

    I appreciate you continuing this conversation, Marcello, but this statement is misleading.

    According to Psychology Today: “only 2 percent of psychiatrists, 2 percent of psychologists and 4 percent of social workers in the United States are African American.” (

    Maybe it’s different in Italy, but here in the US, the dominate voices in psychiatric power are upper class white people who have very little in common with marginalized people, whether African American, Latinx, or poor white people.

    I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m just coming from a place of logic. Millions of people are disabled and killed by psychiatric “treatment,” including the drugs that you say play a major role in clinical practice.

    Ironically, the people who know the most about how to withdraw from these drugs are not doctors – they are people with lived experience running online psychiatric drug withdrawal forums where hundreds of thousands of people are finding information. (

    In fact, some of us are struggling with emotional distress and /or have loved ones struggling with it.

    I’m sorry some of you are struggling, but you won’t find your answers in psychiatry because struggles that don’t come from a disease aren’t going to be solved by people trained in medical school.

  • Persistent post-withdrawal disorder refers to “a set of long-lasting, severe, potentially irreversible symptoms which entitle rebound primary symptoms or primary disorder at a greater intensity and/or new withdrawal symptoms and/or new symptoms or disorders that were not present before treatment.”

    Thank you for this article, especially pointing out withdrawal can cause “potentially irreversible symptoms.” It’s not good news, but at least it’s honest.

  • My position about psychiatric drugs and psychiatry is clear as I have translated Peter Breggin’s book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal…
    But I think that it’s quite difficult to avoid psychiatric drugs at all if you do not have the possibility to afford good therapy or other psychosocial treatment.

    Sounds like these so-called “mad” groups are advocating for the same system that’s already in place – drug the poor and vulnerable.

  • If only psychiatrists who are aware the protocols of psychiatry are harmful would lobby governments, M.P.’s, mental health organizations, community services, etc, to set up a new type of system similar to Soteria House that would provide compassion, understanding and various supports that would be a win-win. If something else was in place I think psychiatry would quickly become obsolete and easily abolished..

    Rosalee, I hear what you’re saying about people needing help, but expecting psychiatrists to lobby their governments with the end result being the abolishment of their own profession seems unrealistic. If Mosher’s Soteria Project taught us anything, it’s that psychiatry will defund and eliminate any program that seeks to weaken their power. I really think we learned the wrong lessons from that experiment.

    But you did bring up a very good point about one of the many inherent contradictions of the reformist movement. Thank you for doing so.

  • Moreover, medical school and residencies curricula should include mentorship modules where persons with “lived experience” provide their feedback to medical students and residents.

    Marcello, if you don’t subscribe to the medical model, why are continuing to play their game?

    And what exactly do you hope to accomplish? Doctors have the highest suicide rate of any profession –

    They also take more psych drugs than the general public –

    Not exactly great role models to emulate.

    If you want to get away from the medical model, you’re going in the wrong direction.

  • By Recovery I do not mean medical recovery but existential recovery, often defined by the peers, like( paraphrasing) “a self-directed process, not focused on symptoms and diagnoses but on overcoming obstacles and difficulties with the goal of realizing individual aspirations, goals and dreams and attaining a good quality of life”

    Marcello, what is the purpose of having a psychiatrist in these conversations or involved at all in the business of people caught by psychiatry? Like you said, it’s not medical recovery, so why would you need to bring in someone who’s main expertise comes from medical school?

    What do you, as a psychiatrist who has very little in common with most people trapped in the psychiatric system, have that can help guide these discussions?

    You don’t have access to what James Scott referred to as the “hidden transcripts” in his book Domination and the Arts of Resistance. The “hidden transcripts” in this context would be the conversations – including a critique of psychiatric power – that happens when the oppressed (i.e. “patient”) speaks freely in venues where the oppressor (i.e. psychiatrist) is not allowed.

    You may not see yourself as an oppressor, but when you hold the title Psychiatrist, you wield all the power and status that title represents.

    The conversations that happen in groups of survivors outside of psychiatric surveillance include critiques of psychiatric power in relation to other forms of oppression that we’ve suffered. We make specific connections and work to make the personal political. This cannot happen outside of these hidden transcripts. And it NEEDS to happen in or to achieve the higher levels of consciousness raising that lead to political activism.

    It’s clear the reason your so-called activism requires a psychiatrist – there’s no way to critique psychiatric power, which means there can be no real consciousness raising, especially at the level that leads to political activism and change. And that’s the point of psychiatry – to maintain the status quo of the dominant social, political, and economic structure, which creates the very injustices that lead many people into psychiatry in the first place.

    This type of activism only reinforces psychiatric power. It’s unfortunate it comes with such a great spin job, many survivors can’t see that.

  • But in reality, what I am saying should not sound odd because is backed up by data( often published by MIA and the MAD affiliates) ,which indicate that the long term use of medications is not helpful and that the building of a strong psychosocial support system is highly therapeutic.

    Thank you for continuing the dialogue, Marcello, but with all due respect, the data on MiA is quite clear – the drugs do more harm than good. This is something Robert Whitaker has gone on global tours to lecture about (, along with writing numerous articles about it here on this very website.

    Where is your research that proves otherwise? Even short term exposure can led to catastrophic damage for those who have adverse reactions.

    The reason many of us don’t have a strong psychosocial support system has more to do with economics than anything else. There’s nothing in psychiatry to solve this problem – in fact, psychiatry works to focus the onus of societal problems on the individual, which makes it difficult to name the true sources of our oppressions, including capitalism.

    This is not a defect of psychiatry that can be fixed or reformed. This is its purpose. What religion did for the feudal system psychiatry does for the capitalist system.

    All this is also consistent with freedom of choice and should not be neglected.

    “Freedom of choice” regarding psychiatric drug use is a tired trope that gets thrown out in conversations to deflect from actual discourse on the harms created by psychiatry. It’s used to justify what you referred to earlier as “the medical model,” which you say you don’t subscribe to and yet you seem oblivious to the history of psychiatry – psychiatry IS the medical model. Before psychiatry, there was a religious model.

    Both systems serve the same purpose – to individualize systemic societal and economic oppressions and give power to the state to control individuals and keep us compliant within these systems.

    This is social control, no matter how soft and friendly the reform movement makes it and how much “choice” they offer. This is the banality of evil that Hannah Arendt warned us about. The reform movement keeps the inherent power structure in place which will, when needed, revert back to its most toxic form in order to keep the people compliant with the dominant social order. A few dissident psychiatrists cannot stop this.

    This is too dangerous not to call out, especially in these times as righteous protests line the streets of the cities in a cry for racial and economic justice.

    Psychiatry cannot be reformed. It must be abolished if we are to truly free ourselves from all our oppressions.

  • As a psychiatrist, of course I prescribed and prescribe psychotropics drugs. Many individual come to me already on psychotropics. But I consider a essential part of my role was to communicate the limitations of the utilization of psychiatric medications, assisting people with alternatives and helping them to get off medications, while involving peer specialists to help me in the process.

    Marcello, do you prescribe psychiatric drugs for people who’ve never been on them before? Or are you part of the de-prescribing movement?

  • As a member of the anti-psychiatry group Oldhead writes about, I want to add that we ONLY allow anti-psychiatry survivors. No psychiatrists allowed.

    The author of this article is a psychiatrist, so “mad activism” (whatever that means) is being led by the very system that created our pain. Psychiatric survivors will never get self-determination being led by psychiatry, no matter what form it takes. The reformist goal is to redirect your attention to endless research and debates (which they benefit from financially), while you dutifully follow their direction and stay in your place.

    Antipsychiatry is different because it allows survivors to assert our right to self-determination. And that’s a powerful feeling.

    We need to assert – and exercise – our right as an oppressed class to self-determination.

  • This is the vote outcome for H.R. 748, which is the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act):

    Do you see any “nay” votes? None. Zero. There were a few who didn’t vote, but that was because they were in self-quarantine and didn’t have access to remote voting.

    So the largest transfer of wealth upward was done with bipartisan Senate support, sending the economy into a tailspin that we’ll likely never recover from. The money is going to the oligarchs. And while we’re distracted, environmental regulations continue to be rolled back and now the United States is discussing testing nuclear weapons for the first time in 28 years.

    As poverty covers the land, making us weaker and weaker and unable to fight back, psychiatry and the police state will become more powerful than ever to keep us in line.

    The United States is a failed empire. Trump is a symptom, not a cause.

    It’s unfortunate that MiA continues to waste time on Trump bashing instead of looking at the system that placed him in office and all of the shock-doctrine activities that are going on while our attention is focused elsewhere.

    But then again, when you repeatedly give the microphone to MDs and PhDs and leave out the voices of grocery store workers, delivery people, warehouse workers, and other low-paid essential workers, this is what you get – articles written by “professionals” busying themselves with nonsense because they have that luxury.

    At least they do for now.

  • Partly, our culture is exploding with loneliness because so many of us, whether we know it or not or like it or not, are still under the power of the DSM.

    This is a great article, Megan. This line in particular stood out because it reminded me of something Bruce Cohen wrote in Psychiatric Hegemony regarding the DSM and how it is purposely written in user-friendly terminology to get us to self-label within the context of capitalist culture:

    The success of psychiatric hegemony here is that since the original construction of social phobia in 1980, workers have become more inclined to self-label and entertain the possibility of therapy and drug treatment for their failure to be more sociable and assertive at their place of work. This situation has further legitimized the extension of the psy-professions in the areas of unemployment, job training, and work, reinforcing the neoliberal focus on the self as the site of change, while simultaneously depoliticising the increasingly alienating work environment and constant pressures on employees to upskill and be “more employable” in the jobs market.

  • Then, when you say we are not disabled; I wish that were true. If any of us could ever come out of a locked psychiatric prison and be perfectly free of ALL disability: physical or mental in any way, shape, or form; then what could we ever complain about; except lost time ? THE DISABILITY IS REAL.

    Justsayno86, I appreciate what you’re saying here regarding the real harm that psychiatry does. Thank you for this.

    But that doesn’t make “mental illness” an actual illness or disability. This is where we need to have a very nuanced conversation.

    When it comes to certain psychiatric “treatments” causing harm, the disability lies in nervous system dysregulation, also known as PAWS (protracted withdrawal syndrome), when people come off these neurotoxins. And for those still taking these drugs, they come with a number of problems, including shutting down the kidneys (lithium), raising cholesterol and causing diabetes (atypical neuroleptics), causing bone loss (SSRIs), among many other problems.

    So the disability needs to be named for what it is – PAWS, kidney failure, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.

    As far as the “mental” disability you refer to, if you’re referring to “PTSD” (as David did in his article), please note that it’s perfectly normal to be stressed after you’re been traumatized, such as being in a psychiatric prison. But that doesn’t make it a “disorder.” If you believe that you have every reason to feel stressed, why would you even call it a “disorder” or a “disability”? Wouldn’t the best “treatment” be consciousness raising and making the personal political? 

  • Thank you for this extremely well-researched article.

    I can’t help but think . . . . how much of this pain could be prevented with universal basic income, instead of sending all the wealth to the top 1%?

    This is about poverty, racism, and patriarchy, as this article so powerfully depicts.

    And, especially, psychiatry’s role in keeping these capitalist injustices going.

    This isn’t about “disability” or “mental illness.” This is end-stage capitalism. The US is a dying Empire. 

    I hope at some point, we can have a discussion about that. We can’t fix something we can’t – or won’t – name.

  • I identify as a psychiatric survivor, but I do not identify as “mad” or “disabled.”

    Sorry, but I’m missing something about how psychiatric survivor activism involves taking part in the disability movement (which I fully support as being needed, especially in the US where there’s virtually no social safety net).

    If you see psychiatry as a form of oppression, shouldn’t the ultimate goal be to end the oppression?

    It frightens me to think the psychiatric power structure is not being challenged in these types of articles. Removing psychiatric oppression would free up over $100 billion in the US to be better used to serve the needs of the people (source – Bruce Cohen’s Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness).

    Unfortunately, I have even seen a leader of a disability Independent Living Center falsely say, repeatedly, that MindFreedom pushes people to quit psychiatric drugs. Wrong. In fact, there are many MFI members who willingly choose to take prescribed psychiatric drugs, and they have told me they feel totally comfortable and accepted.

    This is particularly misleading because the science of these drugs and the outcome data don’t support this narrative. While a minority of individual accounts may report benefits, the overall statistics show massive amounts of disability and even death with these drugs. This is similar to people stating that not everyone gets cancer from cigarettes, therefore we shouldn’t advocate against smoking.

    I’m not saying people should or shouldn’t take psych drugs. That’s a personal choice. But to call it “acceptable” within an article about standing up for disability rights seems disingenuous — these drugs are linked to causing “more harm than good.” And this is something that Robert Whitaker has gone on global tours to lecture about (, along with writing numerous articles about it here on this very website.

    These drugs are bankrupting the disability system, the very system this article states it is supporting.

  • My heart is with the abolishionists but my brain and my practical side is with the reformists. Those of us with loved ones stuck on harmful psych drugs have to deal with mental health professionals on a monthly basis. At this point, all my family can look forward to is to mitigate the harm psychiatry does to my daughter and keep her from getting killed by the deadly toxic drugs. Cold turkey withdrawal leads many to a no-win situation.

    Madmom, check out the list of drugs on the below site and click on the one your daughter is on (scroll down to the heading “TAPERING OFF SPECIFIC PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS”). It will show you how to do a safe taper off it. You could go through the information with your daughter and encourage her to join the site for peer support.

    There are ways to get off these drugs safely. Cold turkey isn’t the only option.

    More information is here:

  • In medicine, a drug that reduces mortality rates for a disease is understood to be an “effective” treatment. That is a bottom-line outcome, and the very outcome that is used to assess the effectiveness of, for example, cancer treatments.

    Thank you for this article, which adds to the growing evidence of the dangers of these drugs.

    However, until we can silence the myth of “psychiatry as medicine” and talk about “psychiatry as social control,” we’ll keep going in circles with this.

    When viewed through the lens of social control, these drugs are extremely effective.

    Psychiatry isn’t broken – it’s a tool of social control used to enforce the toxic norms of the capitalist society in which we live.

    The system is working exactly as it was designed to work.

  • Ron is not one of the a “progressive” professionals you describe as unfit to lead “our” movement.

    Madmom, I know you addressed your comment to Oldhead and I’m sure he can offer a response, but I just want to point out that there isn’t just one type of movement.

    MindFreedom is a reformist movement and there are those of us who are anti-psychiatry. There’s a difference between reforming psychiatry and abolishing it.

    I would never “follow” anyone who wishes to reform psychiatry, but I would “walk with” those who wish to end it.

    Some systems are just morally wrong. Yes, the reformists may help individuals, but until we can view this in terms of systems (and not individuals), it’s hard to grasp the nuances of why it’s imperative to end the system of psychiatry. Until then, the psychiatric hierarchy and power remains in place and, as I posted earlier, will manifest in differing forms of oppression.

    He has undoubtedly done a great deal more than the handful of people who make it a full time career to write comments in an echo chamber.

    There’s a lot more going on in the online world than this. It’s the online psychiatric drug withdrawal forums run by those with lived experience that have led tens of thousands of people to learn how to safely come off psych drugs and form support communities of survivors completely independent of psychiatry.

    These spin-off groups are where a lot of in-depth conversations happen. These are what Ron Scott referred to as the “hidden transcripts” in his book Domination and the Arts of Resistance. I’m not sure that true consciousness raising can even be done within the reformist context, since it leaves out abolition.

    While I respect the work that reformists have done at the individual level, it frightens me that psychiatric power is still left in play in their narrative.

  • But the “peer” concept originated in the writings of Judi Chamberlin and others during the early days of the movement; it then was corrupted and sold back to us by the same system we were opposing, and now they purport to determine who is to be considered a “peer” (which is a demeaning term to begin with). So we must always be vigilant and not allow ourselves to be similarly co-opted in the future.

    Thanks for this historical background, Oldhead.

    This an excellent example of why psychiatry must be dismantled and destroyed. If not, it will continue to manifest itself wearing different costumes, but continuing the same oppression.

  • This claim, by itself, is worthy of a front-page news story. A high-profile psychiatrist and former APA president has publicly claimed that psychiatrists should not diagnose personality disorders because they are not valid. The implications and questions surrounding this claim are profound!

    Brett, I’m not so sure about this. Dr. Thomas Szasz wrote that psychiatry’s sacred symbol is “schizophrenia” because it’s a justification for locking people up and taking away their civil rights.

    I think there’s a lot of truth to this. If Lieberman were to denounce “schizophrenia” as invalid, THAT would be front-page news.

    In fact, it would destroy psychiatry at its core.

  • With over 50,000 Americans already dead from the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are terrified that their increasingly erratic president poses a serious threat to the public health of the nation.

    And how many Americans are dead because of psychiatric “treatment”? The article conveniently leaves this part out.

    Not only due psychiatric “treatments” themselves disable and kill, according to the site, many psych drugs are leaving people susceptible to complications with pneumonia, making them much more likely to die due to COVID-19:

    Medications compromising COVID Infections

    I find it a bit hard to understand why a community whose voices have so long been unheard, silenced by psychiatry, with people said to be unreliable witnesses to their own lives, would now welcome a guild seeking to silence others for expressing their opinions about Trump.

    Bob, I agree with you that we should not welcome a guild seeking to silence others for expressing their opinions, but this article is complicit in presenting psychiatry as a legitimate field of medicine.

    This further silences survivors, especially within the context of a medical crisis in which the public is being instructed to listen to the experts. Most of the general public isn’t educated in the fact that psychiatry isn’t a legitimate field of medicine.

    And they never will be with articles like this that leave out this context.

    Since psychiatry has killed and disabled far more people than COVID-19, this fact needs to be messaged in the reporting. But it’s left out.

    You can speak facts without telling truth. I think that’s part of the problem here.

  • I don’t see Megan as decrying positive thinking, but rather attacking system definitions of what constitutes positive thinking.

    True, that’s why I brought up the concept of magical thinking. It’s this need to exist outside of reality I find so frightening, especially as it takes hold of so many people.

    There are people and systems that benefit from our complacency. As I wrote, it’s a way of blinding us from making these necessary connections.

    I don’t see what purpose “negative thinking” could possibly serve. But calling out bullshit is NOT negative, it’s just bringing attention to a lie that needs to be seen for what it is.

    I was very careful to use the term “negative talk,” not “negative thinking.” There’s a difference. And I don’t mean “self-talk” or any of that psychobable BS that shrinks bring up.

    But I should have worded it “honest talk.” I mean honest talk about the shitty state of affairs we live in. If we can’t name it, we can’t fix it.

    So we’re on the same page here, OH. I think we agree more than we disagree.

  • Megan, your article is brilliant. And so is your response, Oldhead. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother, OH.

    I’d like to also expand on this part:

    What we’re calling a “stimulus package” is emergency socialism.

    The stimulus package is also emergency socialism for corporations. I work for a small social justice non-profit that wasn’t able to get the SBA PPP loan (payroll protection program loan). Our tiny 15 person organization may not survive this.

    Why? Because the money is being funneled upward by large corporations –

    This is intentional and it’s going to wipe out millions of small businesses, especially those run by people of color, women, and immigrants and climate refugees.

    We’ve entered what Dr. Sheldon Wolin called an Inverted Totalitarianism –

    Thank you, Megan, for stating the absurdity of positive thinking. This is magical thinking because it exists outside our reality and denies fundamental truths of our humanity – our need for shelter, food, and community. And also, the need to grieve, to deeply mourn. Grieving is fundamental to the ability to really live. This is why psychiatry removed the grief clause from the DMS 5. Let’s start to make these connections, and there are many. We must not get blinded by magical thinking.

    We need to wake up. To fight back. To end capitalism and also psychiatry, as psychiatry is a tool of the capitalist overlords. It speaks in the childish and absurd language of positive thinking and pathologizes anyone who speaks otherwise.

    Negative talk is a form of dissent because it acknowledges our reality and speaks back against the lies.

    We are not okay. We are suffering. And this includes all species and Mother Earth, our collective home. None of us are okay.

    Let’s start there and work our way out of this mess. 

  • Yet psychiatry is not a panacea, and as we see, the failure to understand the psychiatric system as an auxiliary form of control, which is also increasingly repressive, leads progressives to endorse profound discrimination both conceptually and as a matter of result.

    This is an excellent point – the failure for progressives to understand psychiatry as social control and an adjunct to law enforcement is very problematic.

    But there are also winds of change coming from tensions inherent in the insanity defense itself, and we should take this opportunity to develop some sensible policies, bringing in restorative/transformative justice, prison abolition, feminism/women’s human rights, and disability.

    Why not add psychiatric abolition to this list? It goes hand-in-hand with prison abolition.

    I cannot imagine a just world in which psychiatry continues to exist.

    Thanks for all of the work you’re doing and the articles explaining what’s going on with the CRPD.

  • While most of the talk about “mental health in the time of the pandemic” focuses on mindfulness, ways to relieve your stress, and the accessibility to psychiatrists during social distancing, this reality of COVID-19 and mental health is being overlooked.

    Seems like accessibility to psychiatrists is the problem, not something we need more of.

    Psychiatric patients have much higher rates of diabetes, smoking/vaping, high blood pressure, obesity, and other health conditions that increase vulnerability to the virus.

    Let’s try this again:

    Psychiatrists drug “patients” with neurotoxins that CAUSE diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and create the need to smoke to help with akathisia, a side of effect of said neurotoxin.

    In other words, psychiatrists kill. And they’ve been doing it a hell of a lot longer than the corona virus.

  • Tina, thank you for continuing the conversation about psychiatric drugs. As I commented earlier, 35.2% of people in the US qualify for disability for having a so-called “mental illness” and we know that a lot of this is coming from the side effects, long-term effects, and adverse reactions from the drugs. And it’s crashing the disability system.

    Here’s a really good article on MiA by Corrina West that explores the harms versus good of these drugs:

    “Aggregate vs. Anecdote for Med Lovers”

    We really do need to have this discussion. The current paradigm of “care” is taking precious resources away from the disability program that people outside the “mental health” system rely on.

    This should be a discussion that’s based on science and the outcome statistics. At some point, the concept of more harm than good should answer the question if we should advocate for these drugs.

    We know through both anecdotal accounts and scientific research that these drugs can cause a chronification of illness, apathy, temporary or permanent sexual disfunction (including not having the ability to fall or stay in love), cognitive decline, loss of 20 – 30 years of life expectancy, and that many psych drugs work no better than placebo and can cause a severe withdrawal syndrome that can last for years.

    If someone is given this as informed consent and still agrees to take these drugs, I’m not sure I would trust their judgement. Sorry if that sounds cold, but I’m just being honest.

    Very few people are actually given informed consent prior to going on these drugs. But many people will find ways of rationalizing staying on them because withdrawal is so brutal.

  • The point about lung cancer is very well taken. The fact that some people like the effects of cigarettes and don’t suffer much long-term damage doesn’t mean that “stop smoking” campaigns are “shaming” those who continue to smoke.

    Excellent point, Steve. We need a similar change in cultural perception for psych drugs.

    In one of Auntie Psychiatry’s cartoons, she connected the “pill shaming” campaign to the Royal College of Psychiatry.

    The RCP is rather like the tobacco industry when it comes to putting out lies. Hard to take psychiatry as legitimate medicine.

    Also, within the context of psychiatric intervention as torture, the purpose of this article, a lot of people don’t end up in forced “treatment” until they’ve taken a psychiatric drug and had an adverse reaction. And then the gaslighting really begins, since that adverse reaction is almost always seen as “unmasking” a more severe “illness” that was already there.

    Psychiatry needs to be ended.

  • Also the term ‘survivor’ can be hard to relate to for people who are now being subjected to abuse and resisting or enduring it. Initially NO in Australia is using the term ‘victims of psychiatrists’ for this purpose which also makes it clear we are talking about abuse and not some kind of ‘graduation’ from psychiatry or even survival of ‘mental illness’ which the term ‘psychiatric survivor’ has sometimes been coopted to mean.

    Tina, thank you so much for all of your work in this area and for sharing it here on MiA.

    I have a question about the term “victims of psychiatrists.” This sounds like it’s going after certain psychiatrists, as opposed to the system of oppression known as Psychiatry. Coming from a perspective of wanting to center structures over individual people, I find this a bit confusing, especially from an abolitionist perspective. Do those who use this term want to get rid of certain psychiatrists (such as those who advocate forced “treatment”) but leave the system in play?

    I don’t base my work on opposition to psychiatry per se or psychiatric drugs, because l see too many people, including many who are identified with the survivor movement and are, legitimately, survivors of horrendous psychiatric violence, using psychiatric drugs.

    I’m involved in the psychiatric withdrawal forums and I’ve been in hundreds of conversations involving the usefulness of psychiatric drugs.

    The problem we see with these drugs is, in the aggregate, they cause more harm than good.

    The use of these drugs is taking a toll on the disability system, where 35.2% of people in the US qualify for disability for having a so-called “mental illness” ( This is crashing the system and many (if not most) of these so-called “illnesses” are the result of these drugs.

    Many people find these drugs to be useful for only a specific amount of time. But in the long term, they are linked to chronification of illness (per Dr. Giovanna Fava’s research) and to cognitive decline (documented in the long-term studies).

    While many people die of lung cancer after years of smoking, there are a small group of people who don’t have any adverse affects. Yet today’s messaging on smoking isn’t centered on the small group, but on the aggregate.

    We see many people come into the online psychiatric withdrawal forums after experiencing the positive effects of the drugs, only to be trapped on them and are now experiencing the negative – and sometimes fatal – effects as people go through PAWS (post acute withdrawal syndrome), which can last for many years.

    I’m concerned that the danger of these drugs isn’t being seen in the full context.

  • Focus on the children. We need far more news, stories, documentaries, etc, regarding the atrocity of child drugging. Seeing kids develop permanent involuntary movement disorders, become disfigured from dystonia, die, etc, and then the obvious … I just think this could all be over quickly if something like a paid airtime video showing kids suffering this, with narration as to how and why, were shown…
    Stick it in peoples faces and see if humanity really is evil after all.

    JeffreyC, your comment reminded me of a Frontline episode about the controversial “diagnosis” of “juvenile bipolar” and the use of neuroleptics to “treat” children. This documentary shows exactly what you’re describing.

    Frontline: The Medicated Child

    Lots of mixed messaging going on. It’s clear these drugs are destroying these kids, but there’s always a caring parent who says the “drugs are helping” their child, even though anyone who’s paying attention to the evidence of harm with these drugs knows that’s clearly not true.

    When a caring parent is shown giving a drug to a child, it’s very hard to see it as torture. I think this is an area where the propaganda needs to be deconstructed. I’m not blaming parents because they (1) don’t have the information, especially on how to taper these drugs and (2) they don’t have power, especially to object to what a doctor is advocating.

    Very tragic what is happening. Force comes in many ways and coercion may be no more than simple American Exceptionalism in medicine, which leads parents to believe doctors-as-gods instead of what is going on with their children in front of their own eyes.

  • Very severe injuries may require life-saving approaches in the acute phase, but once stabilised, an adaptive process can begin. Prevention of future injuries could become the responsibility of government and society through public health initiatives, rather than mental health services employing surveillance and monitoring of individuals.

    And one more thought on this part of the article:

    After psychiatry “treats” someone with these so-called life-saving approaches (i.e. drugs and incarceration) and gets them dependent on psych drugs (which can happen in just a month), is it up to the government and society to fix the damage that psychiatry caused?

    Right now, when someone who’s dependent on these drugs wants help getting off, the most knowledgeable resources are cites like Surviving Antidepressants, Benzo Buddies, and various Facebook groups, which are free, peer-run sites.

    It takes a lot to continue to clean up the damage caused by psychiatry.

    Again, psychiatry doesn’t need a new metaphor. It just needs to be ended.

  • Very severe injuries may require life-saving approaches in the acute phase, but once stabilised, an adaptive process can begin. Prevention of future injuries could become the responsibility of government and society through public health initiatives, rather than mental health services employing surveillance and monitoring of individuals.

    As long as psychiatry exists, this will never happen. According to Szasz, the main reason for psychiatry’s existence is to be able to exert the type of power that takes away people’s civil rights. Psychiatry is social control. It never has been anything else.

    The system isn’t broken – it’s working exactly as it was designed. Back in the 70’s, psychiatry had the opportunity for a course correction with Soteria. We know how that ended.

    And it’s already been proven again and again that people get better without “treatment” (see Martin Harrow’s work and the many journal articles that state this, as documented here –

    If nothing else, writing this piece has allowed some clarity in my own mind that a surgical metaphor for psychiatry is a more pragmatic, realistic, and honest one than that of mental disease.

    I’d like to know if a surgeon would agree with this. How would a surgeon operate on a mind?

    This article is yet another example of psychiatry playing word games in the hopes of trying to stay relevant and in power.

    Psychiatry doesn’t need a new metaphor. It just needs to be ended.

  • Did I not read fairly recently that receiving “more intensive psychiatric care” actually leads to an INCREASE in suicide attempts?

    Steve, you may be thinking of the Denmark study that showed exactly this.

    Robert Whitaker included it in his MiA article “Suicide in the Age of Prozac”

    And it also got a writeup in Alternet:

    “Research Suggests That Psychiatric Interventions Like Admission to a Mental Facility Could Increase Suicide Risk”

    Here is the breakdown, per Whitaker’s article:

    They found that, in comparison to age- and sex-matched controls who had no involvement with psychiatric care during the previous year, the risk of suicide was:

    * 5.8 times higher for people receiving psychiatric medication (but no other care)
    * 8.2 times higher for people having outpatient contact with a mental health professional
    * 27.9 times higher for people having contact with a psychiatric emergency room
    * 44.3 times higher for people admitted to a psychiatric hospital

    Psychiatry is a killing field.

  • In addition to their ignorance, there is another powerful reason why psychiatrists know so little about their patients and what they need. People who control and abuse other people are always unwilling to have understanding, empathy and concern for them. That was nowhere more grossly obvious than in psychiatry’s organized, systematic murder of tens of thousands of mental patients in Germany in what has been called “the entering wedge” or prototype for the Holocaust. Even if today’s psychiatrists were caring and empathic in their youth, their years of training and the abuse they have heaped on their patients has rendered them incapable of offering informed, empathic, caring and even loving human services.

    Thank you, Dr. Breggin, for another great article and continuing to connect today’s psychiatry with their historical roots. This is who and what they are.

  • The term “palliative psychiatry” comes to mind. I came across this article a few weeks ago:

    “A Psychiatrist Visits Belgium: The Epicenter of Psychiatric Euthanasia”

    Suddenly “palliative care” for non-terminal psychiatric patients began to make sense. Without euthanasia, “palliative psychiatry” doesn’t seem much different than ordinary psychiatry practiced with excellence (probably much more intensive than average). This new psychiatric specialty provides for the “hopeless and insufferable” cases a level of service intensity that can mitigate the need many patients feel to have euthanasia. Indeed, one of the psychiatric patients who attended this symposium told me that it is said in Belgium, “if you want better and more intensive psychiatric care, just say you want euthanasia.”

    Statistically, long-term “treatment” of “mental illness” IS euthanasia – a slow, painful, journey full of cognitive decline and dissociation, leading to a very early grave. I guess that’s what the article means by “psychiatry practiced with excellence” and “more intensive than average” – more and more drugs followed by ECT and incarceration.

  • how about getting behind the issue at hand like Benzo Warrior is doing in their open letter to JP.

    Thanks for linking this article, Rossa. It’s excellent information, including:

    “As the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition pointed out, pneumonia is often treated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics, which block benzodiazepines from binding the GABAa receptors and thus can make withdrawal many times worse and should be avoided at all costs.”

    In other words, he may have been floxed. It’s vital that people on benzos are given this information.

  • He’s still taking anti-seizure medication, and he can’t type or walk steadily yet.

    This is from the full article.

    What drug is this? Since benzos ARE anti-seizure drugs, did he just go from one benzo to another? Or is he on lamictal, gabapentin, or some other anti-seizure drug? All of these types of drugs can cause physical dependency and need to be tapered, a concept noticeably left out of this article.

    The doctors here aren’t influenced by the pharmaceutical companies, don’t believe in treating symptoms caused by medications, by adding in more medications and have the guts to medically detox someone from benzodiazepines.

    This is also from the article. It sounds like this rehab DID “treat” benzo withdrawal by adding in another drug (unless this was a drug he was already on).

    I hope Peterson finds the information about the importance of a slow taper. Otherwise, he may be in for another ride through hell if and when he decides to come off this mystery drug he’s currently taking.

    And if he walks away a believer in rehab, any message he puts out there may do more harm than good – there are few (if any) rehabs out there that believe in doing a micro-taper over many years. And for some people, that’s the best way off.

  • But what needs to be stressed is that the impetus for these diluted recantations came, not from psychiatry, but rather from the anti-psychiatry movement. It was the thousands of protesting voices that finally persuaded psychiatry that some backing off was needed, particularly as no proof of the theory had ever been uncovered.

    Thank you for this excellent article, Dr. Hickey. You are one of my favorite authors here on MiA.

    Although I agreed with so much of what is written in this piece, I’m concerned about this part I quoted above. Unfortunately, it’s not an anti-psychiatry movement, so much as a bunch of people who are for the most part, reformist in nature. I think it’s important to focus on this aspect because those who wish to reform psychiatry end up validating it, making it even harder to strip psychiatry of its ability to spin the narrative any way it wishes.

    I’m hoping there will be a large antipsychiatry movement because I think it’s necessary to end psychiatry in order to stop their dangerous narratives and spin doctoring and to end their reign of terror of forced “treatment.”

    However, even before DSM-III was published (in 1980), it was widely accepted and promoted by psychiatrists that many psychiatric “disorders,” including depression, were genuine bona fide illnesses.

    Thank you for this. So many articles on MiA state that psychiatry adopted this bio-model with the DSM III. It’s refreshing to get a reality check on this. In fact, psychiatry has ALWAYS been filtered through a medical model. This separated it from its predecessors, which operated under a religious model, as Thomas Szasz documented.

    Decades later, I would commonly see patients who would say some version of ‘my psychiatrist said I have a chemical imbalance in my brain’ and then proceed to summarize one or more of these theories. It is now widely accepted that these theories, claiming a dominant causal pathway to illness, are false although debate continues regarding the dopamine hypothesis.” (p 1088) [Emphases added]

    In this quote from Kendler, I want to point out that in addition to psychiatry’s drug pushing motives (which Dr. Hickey beautifully spells out), this is an example of psychiatry guarding its sacred symbol. As Thomas Szasz pointed out, psychiatry’s main goal is to pathalogize “schizophrenia” (which is what Kendler alludes to with the phrase “regarding the dopamine hypothesis”), and in doing so, have the ability to lock up and drug anyone indefinitely.

    Psychiatry needs to be stopped. They aren’t healers. That’s NEVER been their purpose.

    Thank you, Dr. Hickey, for your many articles pointing out psychiatry’s lies.

  • I’m glad that MiA is covering these issues. But these conversations that speak in the language of “mental illness” are a distraction from fixing a society that is collapsing.

    “Mental illness” doesn’t exist. So how can it be blamed for anything?

    “We need to make sure we’re actually centering the voices of people with psychiatric disabilities in these conversations,” she said. “That speaks to making sure we’re telling the whole story.” Town added, “All too often, you hear from everyone else but people with psychiatric disabilities.”

    Wouldn’t it be grand if they would listen those of us “diagnosed” with so-called “severe mental illness” who shed the label, tapered off the drugs, and are moving on with our lives?

    We do exist, although it’s hard not to feel incredibly invisible in these conversations.

    Another thing that’s missing in this discussion is the amount of violence inflicted on people with these labels by psychiatry itself.

  • Nitpicking maybe, but when you say the “larger disability community” aren’t you implying we are part of that community? I sure don’t identify as disabled.

    Oldhead, I’m glad you are nitpicking, because this is an important concept.

    No, I’m not implying that at all. That would speak in the language of “mental illness” as an actual illness.

    By “larger disability community,” I meant those who are physically disabled and in need of resources, which are being increasingly swallowed up by the “mental health” industrial complex.

    That being said, many people do not simply walk away from psychiatric “treatment” and are very much physically disabled. Tardive dyskinesia from neuroleptics and micro-hemorrhaging in the brain from ECT are just two examples of how psychiatric “treatment” can leave people permanently disabled.

    But no, I was not implying that “mentally ill” is a disability nor that any psychiatric survivor should identify as such.

  • Right now, almost nine million people receive SSDI in the US, and as of 2013, 35.2% of recipients qualified for disability based on being so-called “mentally ill.” ( That number is likely higher now.

    That’s over 1/3 of everyone collecting SSDI in the US. And since you must be in “treatment” to qualify for SSDI, these people are being “treated” for their “disease.” In other words, going by the research that Robert Whitaker and others have already put out there, many (if not most) have been iatrogenically disabled.

    How long before 100% of the available monies for SSDI are being funneled into keeping the masses numbed down and chronically sick?

    At some point, I hope the larger disability community joins in with the antipsychiatry activists in order to salvage what’s left of this much-needed program by ending psychiatry’s reign.

    While I’m a Bernie supporter and I appreciate his evolution thus far, people need to be educated that “mental illness” does not exist because it CANNOT exist – the mind cannot be “diseased.” It’s an abstraction.

    This farce is going to eventually bankrupt the entire disability program.

  • “Drug addicts get anosognosia, (people with) manic psychosis (get) anosognosia, schizophrenics (get) anosognosia. It’s the same biology as in dementia, encephalopathy, and other brain conditions and yet we privilege it in the law, and people are dying.”

    Well, “Dr” Drew should know about dying – so many of Pinsky’s Celebrity Rehab “patients” died that his show ended. A quick google search rendered an article detailing this “doctor’s” fall from grace due to his incompetence and moral bankruptcy –

    It may not be Pinsky’s fault that he overstated the ability of psychiatrists to accurately diagnose mental illness and assess dangerousness.

    No, please, let’s not give Pinsky a pass on this.

    In the earlier MiA article on this “mental health” summit, John Staight posted a comment about the conversation he had with “Dr” Drew regarding the fact that this “doctor” doesn’t believe in tapering benzos – see John’s post here –

    Pinsky’s problem isn’t that he hasn’t been informed about the dangers of psychiatric drugs and how they can create “mental illness.” Pinsky’s problems are ego and greed. Now that his TV career has collapsed, he’s looking to cash in on the fame and fortune of playing another celebrity role, this one political, but still seeking fame over truth.

    Another celebrity conman, just like Trump.

    If we wish to end homelessness, it’s going to take an increase in the minimum wage for those with jobs and universe basic income for those without jobs. Bringing back rent control and other housing reforms are desperately needed. To end mass incarceration, we need to end the racist drug war and shut down for-profit prisons.

    Thank you for this brilliant article that provides so much research to debunk the narrative of the “mentally ill” homeless and incarcerated.

  • From R.D. Laing’s clinical work grounded in existentialism and alternative methods of healing to the interrogation of psychiatry’s medical categories by Thomas Szasz, anti-psychiatrists have criticized psychiatry’s pathologizing of normal reactions to abnormal conditions.

    The conflation of Szasz with Laing has been a real problem here on MiA. Laing “treated” so-called “schizophrenia” and advocated the “need” for institutional psychiatry. But Szasz wrote extensively about the fact that “mental illness” does not exist and advocated abolishing institutional psychiatry.

    These differences, among many others, are important. Psychiatry is much more likely to respond positively to mad activism, but only as a way to divert from those who wish to abolish psychiatry.

    You could say that mad activism is psychiatry’s “safe space” when it comes to discussions that counter the disease narrative.

    This form of insight is similar to the revolutionary thought of Paulo Freire and his notion of cultivating “critical consciousness.” Rather than asking people to believe that they possess a mental illness, it may be helpful to assist service users in understanding the social context they exist within and why people are responding to them in the way they are, which may contribute to the suffering they experience.

    I don’t think Paulo Freire would have been so gullible as to trust psychiatry not to create a form of what he termed “cultural invasion.” In order for this to really work, psychiatrists would need to go through their OWN critical consciousness training to understand their place in the world, both historically and morally.

    And in doing so, they would find that psychiatry is at its core, a toxic form of oppression that needs to be ended.

  • Excellent points, Steve. This suicide stuff isn’t a monolithic thing.

    How about “people who are feeling despair” or “people who are wondering if their life continues to be worth living” or something like that? Or “helping people find hope when their lives seem hopeless to them?” Something that makes it feel like “feeling suicidal” is actually a pretty common experience that doesn’t necessarily reflect anything “wrong” with the person having that experience?

    And considering that we ALL will eventually have to face up to climate change and the oncoming 6th Extinction, I would think that some degree of angst and wondering if it’s still worth it to hang on would be considered, dare I say, “normal.”

  • I don’t expect an interview with the APA head to get into Marxist analysis, I expect it to report accurately what the APA head has to say.

    My mistake. I looked at the title and thought the article would be about solutions to poverty. I should know better.

    I don’t see it as supporting the idea of “mental illness” just because MIA interviews someone who believes in it.

    I feel a moral imperative to call it out wherever I see it. Millions of people are disabled or dead now because of this belief system. But they don’t have an official spokesperson, especially not one with power.

    If we don’t speak out for those trapped in the system and rendered voiceless, who will?

    I don’t expect an interview with the APA head to get into Marxist analysis, I expect it to report accurately what the APA head has to say. This can be VERY important in laying out a counterattack, as once a person is on record making specific statements, it is a lot easier to counter their position with factual research and descriptions of real events.

    Thanks for this. It makes sense. It’s good to have it on record because the psy professionals have a way of trying to walk back things such as the chemical imbalance, so having this on record is a good thing.

    I’ll try to be tolerant and exercise more patience, although it is exhausting.

  • Again, another example of how MiA refuses to have a good Marxist class analysis and instead, interviews someone who exalts the work of the billionaire class without taking a closer look at the overall impact of giving billionaires this much power.

    We have also had some conversations earlier in the year with the Gates Foundation because the Gates are very committed to work on poverty.

    This is an article from Truthdig:

    “Bill Gates Has Given $44 Million to Shape Education”

    This is only driving the teach-to-the-test ethos of current education in the US, which creates the conditions in which many children are being psychiatrized. It’s never good to let billionaires have this much power. From Politico:

    “The Plot Against Public Education: How millionaires and billionaires are ruining our schools”

    I’m also troubled by MiA’s constant messaging of “mental illness” being a real disease.

    One of the things we aren’t good at in the psychological world and the physical health world is clearly understanding that the mind and the body are one thing. The brain that tells you you’re hurt when you are cut is the same brain that tells you you’re hurt when you’re depressed. We do not understand that.

    This is conflating “mind” with “brain,” a common tactic among the psy professions.

    The brain is a physical object that you can see, that doctors can dissect and study. The mind is an abstraction. As Oldhead has written many times in the comment section, “When someone shows me a mind in a plastic bag, I’ll reconsider my position.”

    The concept of the mind / body both able to have medical conditions is something that grew out of psychiatry itself. To quote Dr. Phil Hickey, this happened solely because “psychiatry said so.”

    When the brain is affected by an actual disease, it’s a job for a neurologist or a brain surgeon, not a psy professional.

    People are doing those things. People are fighting for research. They are fighting for access to healthcare. They are fighting for mental health care.

    Actually, many people are fighting to be free from “mental health” care after having been gaslighted by psychologists and therapists who echo psychiatry’s mantras on “mental illness” being real and who also don’t understand that a lot of what is called “mental illness” is caused by the drugs used to “treat” it.

    Researchers published a paper in 2018 called “What psychologists need to know about psychotropic medications.”

    Is this something that the American Psychological Association is messaging to its members?

    This country spends over $100 billion in “mental health” care for fictitious diseases in this country. I wish this could become part of the discussion on “mental health” and poverty (source for spending comes from Bruch Cohen’s book Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness).

    We really need to have an open and frank discussion of the problems of late-stage capitalism in order to address the increasing poverty. But this is a job for Marxist and Keynesian economists, not psy professionals, especially considering the enormous power they have over our basic civil rights that can so easily be removed “for our own good.”

  • Simply removing the drugs won’t solve the problem. My first suicide attempt was before being psychiatrized. And I’m not alone with this history. Suicide existed long before psychiatry did.

    I agree that we need to abolish psychiatry and end the senseless drugging, but I think it’s important to consider the fact that suicide isn’t always a direct result of exposure to psychiatry. Poverty and trauma are also factors that can cause suicide.

    I also don’t think psychiatry – or any of the “psy” professions – can solve this, but it’s still important to look at all the factors that drive suicide.

    I’ve taken a number of MiA’s continuing education classes and I’ve yet to see any good class analysis, such as this study that was released this past November – “Effects of increased minimum wages by unemployment rate on suicide in the USA” (

    Earlier this month, this study was reported on by CNN, not exactly a Marxist media outlet:

    “Increasing the Minimum Wage by $1 Could Reduce US Suicide Rates, Study Finds” (

    Per the article:

    A new 25-year observational study published this week in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that a $1 increase in the minimum wage resulted in an estimated 3.4% to 5.9% decrease in suicide rates among adults ages 18 to 64, and a $2 increase could have prevented an estimated 40,000 suicides alone between 2009 and 2015.

    I wonder what a universal basic income could do as far as alleviating the growing income inequality and the societal problems that come with that, including the so-called “diseases of despair.”

    Poverty is violence. Suicide is simply one response to stop the pain.

    There may be ways of putting a bandaid on it, which is what it sounds like this class is aiming for, but it won’t stop the root causes.

    I do plan on taking this course, though (life is full of contradictions). We need information on how to help each other through crisis states. With four of the eleven webinars about successful peer approaches to dealing with suicide, this sounds like a series that may translate into information we could use on the psychiatric drug withdrawal forums and in our own communities when it comes to finding ways to help each other through crisis states without psychiatry and other “professionals.”

  • Yep, already responded with “Since ‘schizophrenia’ doesn’t exist, this is just another example of psychiatrists poisoning their ‘patients’ in the name of corporate profit, as well as guarding psychiatry’s Sacred Symbol.”

    It is tiring that these articles never bother to address this.

    Never would be an issue if we were discussing real medicine like cardiology. If you made up a form of heart disease to test a new drug, it would be called out quickly.

  • Thank you for this analysis, especially pointing out the ethical problems with using benzos in research trials in order to get dangerous drugs to do well on the stock market and to keep targeted groups of “patients” silenced.

    Since “schizophrenia” doesn’t exist, this is just another example of psychiatrists poisoning their “patients” in the name of corporate profit, as well as guarding psychiatry’s Sacred Symbol.

    This isn’t anything new from Lieberman, who already tried to change the United Nation’s definition of torture to exclude psychiatric “treatment” (a somewhat biased look at this, since it was reported by the APA –

    This part of Mr. Whitaker’s article should be a wake-up call to anyone in the profession who truly values science:

    As Lieberman and colleagues confessed in a 2017 paper, there has never been a “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study” of an antipsychotic in medication-naïve patients. In other words, there is no good scientific record that these drugs are effective, even over the short term, in psychotic patients whose brains have not been changed by prior exposure to antipsychotics.

    And I’ll add that Lieberman’s belief system is to never have a drug-naïve “patient” and will spare no expense in ways of enforcing compliance. In a NYT article on digital Abilify, Lieberman said:

    “[P]sychiatrists would likely want to try digital Abilify, especially for patients who just experienced their first psychotic episode and are at risk of stopping medication after feeling better.” (

    After lumateperone goes off patent, will some other gimmick of enforced treatment come along to keep the “patient” and the stock market compliant? And at what point does this all stop? How many millions more people will be disabled and killed by psychiatry?

    Psychiatry needs to be ended.

  • Thank you for this, Dr. Kelmenson.

    I hope you take what we’ve written to heart and really listen to those who come to you for tapering and see if anything we’ve written resonates in their stories. If so, you may really be able to help them more.

    The reason Dr. Heather Ashton was so successful in her research was she listened to her patients. That’s how she was able to figure out that a slow taper was key in coming off benzos (which would later translate into coming off all psych drugs).

    Since this was contrary to everything Ashton had been taught, she made her patients the teachers. That’s the hallmark of a great doctor.

    Thanks again for taking the time for dialogue.

  • In my comment above, I agreed that stopping antidepressants can cause real physical withdrawal symptoms for a couple of weeks.

    Lawrence, so you’re only going to respond to MiA comments that fit into your own limited narrative and not engage with those comments citing research?

    Not to mention the tens of thousands of people with lived experience who are posting their accounts on the online withdrawal forums.

    Even one of your own profession’s journals, Psychiatric Times, is paying attention:

    “Online Communities for Drug Withdrawal: What Can We Learn?”

    “Antidepressant Withdrawal, Online Data, and a Bottom Line”

    From what Lawrence is writing, it’s clear that even “doctors” with an antipsychiatric perspective can still cause harm.

    This is something survivors need to pay close attention to so we can call it out.

  • Too much of anything would be, Oldhead.

    This is from the Dahr Jamail article I linked:

    I believe everyone alive is feeling this sorrow for the planet, although most are not aware of it. Rather than grieving for her, many are given pills for depression, or find other ways to self-medicate. To live well involves making amends to the Earth by finding gratitude for every bite of food and for every stitch of clothing, for every element in our bodies, for it all comes from the Earth. It also means living in a community with others who are remaking themselves and their lifestyle in accord with what is. “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well,” Czech dissident, writer, and statesman Václav Havel said, “but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.”

    Grief is just part of the process. So is gratitude. So is community.

    It’s all part of the same system.

  • I would add that “withdrawal” may not be the proper term for this experience. It is more like “recovery from brain damage.”

    I think it’s more like autonomic nervous system dysregulation, but we may be saying basically the same thing. I appreciate your comment, Steve, especially about the length of time it takes to recover. It is a long time for many people.

    This is a great explanation off Surviving Antidepressants, written by Altostrata, who’s been researching withdrawal for years:

    One theory of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome:

  • I agree that there can be some physical withdrawals for a week or two after coming off antidepressants. But when I hear people say that for many months, or years after, they struggle emotionally and blame it on “chronic antidepressant withdrawals”, I view this as further medicalizing life’s struggles, and thereby further strengthening biological psychiatry’s power by agreeing with its claim that sadness is caused by a chemical imbalance.

    This is incorrect, Lawrence. Read up on the controversy that occurred when the Royal College of Psychiatry put out this kind of propaganda:

    Campaigning persuades Royal College of Psychiatrists to change its position on antidepressant withdrawal:

    It’s also been covered here on Mad in America:

    Thirty Mental Health Experts Write to Secretary of State About ‘Unprofessional’ Conduct of the UK Royal College of Psychiatry

    In my practice, I’ve gradually taken nearly all my clients off antidepressants without much difficulty, by first introducing them to Irving Kirsch’s work and discussing it in depth with them, which led to their losing faith in antidepressants and thus having minimal reverse placebo effect upon stopping them.

    Cite your research, please. It’s unfortunate that you’re allowed to make these kinds of claims here on MiA without any research or proof to back it up. Since antidepressant withdrawal is often delayed, your patients may have moved on with their lives, only to find out several months off that they’re hit with withdrawal. And if they come to you and you tell them it’s all in their head (i.e. the reverse place effect), they’re likely to go back on a drug, either prescribed by you or another doctor. Or be given a diagnosis like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, etc.

    See Dr. David Healy’s research on delayed antidepressant withdrawal, along with the thousands of accounts of people using web forums like Surviving

    Many are suffering with severe symptoms, including chronic insomnia and akathisia many months after coming off. And too many are taking their own lives because of this.

    Making offhand anecdotal comments like this doesn’t prove anything, especially around people who don’t hold much stock in your profession’s credibility at this point.

  • The problem, however, is that there is no such thing as “schizophrenia.” Obviously it would be wrong to blame mothers for causing “schizophrenia” even if such a thing were real. But it is not. Simply put, so-called “schizophrenia” is, as Thomas Szasz so eloquently articulated, the sacred symbol of psychiatry.

    Well said, DragonSlayer. The whole concept of the so-called “schizophrenic mother,” also sometimes referred to as the “refrigerator mother,” is a distraction from the real goal of psychiatry – to guard its sacred symbol. This is about power and social control, not medicine.

    And it keeps us from fixing the societal systems that create the kinds of traumas that cause people to act differently or not be able to keep up and find their way in the world.

  • My heart is heavy reading about the loss of Dr. Burstow. Her writings were key in giving me the vocabulary and the context to understand so much of what happened over the course of my own psychiatric “treatment,” as well as psychiatry in general.

    Her legacy will live on. I am truly grateful for her work toward the goal of ending psychiatry. We will continue the fight until this oppression is ended.

  • We must recognize that our collective task as members of the human race is to eliminate this system of organized greed and murder, and there are no “experts” or “professionals” who can do this for us.

    I completely agree with this, Oldhead.

    I did a quick google search and found this article by Mary Watkins – “Shipwreck and Revolution: The Occupy Movement from the Perspective of James Hillman’s Work” –

    So she does give voice to the Occupy Movement and the crimes of capitalism and the need for revolutionary acts that go beyond therapy.

  • There was a certain point as I began to teach that I realized that education itself is therapeutic, education of a certain kind. Not a banking model of education as Paulo Freire would criticize, where you’re just supposed to learn and regurgitate things, but a critical education that helps you to think about your place in the world and history.

    Getting rid of the banking model of education and implementing a Freirean model would definitely go a long way to ending the oppressions of psychiatry that starts in the classroom.

    I’m also interested in what I would call lamentation. There’s a lot of grieving that’s going on, and that’s going to be going on, given the ecological crisis that we’re in. I think that there’s a need to understand the role of lamentation. So those are two areas I’m thinking about.

    This reminds me of a Dahr Jamail article – “In Facing Mass Extinction, We Must Allow Ourselves to Grieve” –

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the DSM 5 removed the grief exclusion and 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 16 children in this country are on soul-numbing psych drugs. To avoid the ability to grieve could be to avoid the truth of what is happening.

    And this also ties into the themes of the dangers of individualism that this podcast goes into. Too many great themes to comment on!

    Great podcast.

  • And the other category I forgot to “defend” – men. What’s the male equivalent of misogyny? Why is this allowed to pass?

    Misandry is the term that’s technically the opposite of misogyny. However, it doesn’t carry the wider systematic, legislated, financial, and historical implications that misogyny does. People who hate men tend to avoid them, but they’re not able to legislate to take away their bodily autonomy and rights.

    And yes – it would be wonderful to abolish psychiatry and forced treatment. But somehow I don’t think that would go very far towards abolishing human distress which has always existed (and been “treated” by alcohol and “street” drugs).

    In the US, $100,000 billion is currently being spent in the form of psychiatric “treatment” (source – Bruce Cohen’s book Psychiatric Hegemony). If that’s channeled directly to the people in the form of a social safety net, it would go a long way in minimizing human distress. It would also get rid of the disease model of “mental illness” and addiction and allow us to name the real reasons for our distress.

    You won’t ever get rid of human distress completely, but that’s not a reason to keep a major source of oppression, which is what psychiatry is.

  • H. Doctors even took over the role of food banks, shelters, and social assistance programs, by claiming that poverty is a medically treatable illness caused by a chemical imbalance. Well… that hasn’t really happened… yet! (“Extreme poverty” is, however, listed as a diagnosis in the International Classification of Diseases.)

    Shouldn’t “extreme wealth” also be considered a disease? It’s making all of us who aren’t billionaires quite ill.

    Thank you for this brilliant article. I love the Szaszian vibe.

  • My point is only that individual decision making is one issue, but group-wide intentional corruption is something completely different.

    Thanks for your explanation, Steve. Makes perfect sense.

    It’s like with any mob – the individuals might be awesome, beautiful people, but the overall effect of them in concert can be devastating.

    And this ties in with what JanCarol just wrote.

    As institutions get larger and more complex, they become more sociopathic as people assert power climbing the ladder within the hierarchy.

    Those of us without power will be grasping for whatever works just to survive as long as possible.

  • I’ve known domestic abuse victims who used antidepressants as a means of becoming less worried about their abusers’ feelings and it helped them get away. I know people who feel that they can’t live without Prozac or who feel they’ve benefited from stimulants helping them concentrate better.

    Steve, your post above is brilliant in the “individual” psychiatrist versus the “institution” of psychiatry analysis. It’s important to center blame on systems, not people.

    But I’m troubled by the lines that I quoted above. Seems like a “one point in time” take on it.

    A lot of people on the withdrawal forums state they benefited from the drugs for awhile, but now they’re completely disabled, bankrupt, and contemplating suicide.

    If only we knew who would get slammed by withdrawal ahead of time. Not to mention adverse reactions, which can get someone in a locked ward very quickly.

    And even when the drugs do “work,” isn’t what you’re describing social control?

    Using drugs to numb psychic pain is a form of emotional suicide. While it can be beneficial to not feel an abuser’s feelings in order to escape, won’t this impact the person’s ability to have feelings in other areas? When the drug’s beneficial effect is no longer needed and the person decides they want off the drug, they may not be able to come off. Not everyone can finish a taper and then they end up trapped on the drug and lost to the world.

    And for your other example, using stimulants to keep the capitalist overlords happy comes at the expense of the worker’s health.

    While I’m all for people being able to do what works for them, shouldn’t we at least call this social control? It’s about adjusting the individual to fit in a toxic environment.

    If we don’t name it, we can’t fix it. At some point, our environment is going to be so toxic, no one can live in it.

  • Still, it makes no sense to talk about “strategy” without a shared set of goals. Developing and articulating the latter is what MIA and anti-psychiatry people need to start thinking more seriously, and clearly, about — and soon.

    Yes, I agree with this – the sooner the better.

    While I also agree with you that celebrities are shills for the system, they message quickly in our celebrity culture society.