Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Comments by anomie

Showing 86 of 86 comments.

  • 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 – https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2014.5a11)

    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.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/health/digital-pill-fda.html)

    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 Antidepressants.org.

    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” – https://mary-watkins.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Shipwreck-and-Revolution.pdf

    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” – https://truthout.org/articles/in-facing-mass-extinction-we-dont-need-hope-we-need-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.

  • Thank you for this well-researched article on study 352.

    Jay Amsterdam continues to write and conduct research, even while blind and on medical leave from Penn. His recent work focuses on how antidepressants may increase the chronicity of mood disorders, turning a once-episodic, recoverable depression into a treatment-resistant, lifelong condition.

    The work being done to point to the drugs as the problem is vital – it adds to the narrative that psychiatry doesn’t “treat” real diseases but ones it manufactures.

    The earlier research on Paxil Study 329 documented the estimated risk of withdrawal as being 25% after GSK had originally stated it was 0.2%, meaning this risk went from 1 in 500 to 1 in 4. From the research and what’s playing out in the online withdrawal forums, Paxil is one of the harder AD’s to come off of.

    That alone should have been a wake-up call. But then Paxil goes onto be re-packaged as the menopause drug Brisdelle. Paxil is the only SSRI that’s anticholinergic, which increases the risk of dementia. So the fact it was even considered for older women shows there’s more than ghostwriting corruption.

    Eventually, after escaping an emotionally abusive relationship and continuing drug trials, she found her mental health becoming more stable. She attributes a lot of her improvement to Amsterdam. “He was such a great doctor,” she said. “He saved my life, you know—finally not being depressed.”

    While it’s great this anonymous patient spoke up for the injustices being done to Amsterdam, if she doesn’t learn to name the source of her sadness – the emotionally abusive relationship – she’s likely to repeat the cycle.

    With 1 in 4 women on antidepressants, psychiatry is a #MeToo violation that keeps women sick and dependent on a male-dominated industry designed to distract us from dealing with the real sources of our despair.

  • Jim Gottstein stated in another articles comments that rights without remedies are possibly more dangerous than no rights at all (or something to that effect). Providing another loophole with regards doctors legally killing people? Really?

    Boans and Rachel, you may have me re-thinking my views on euthanasia. . . . . I’m reminded of an article I read about this issue:

    “Europe’s Morality Crisis: Euthanizing the Mentally Ill”:


    While that’s currently in Europe, I’m thinking about what’s already happening here in the US that could set the stage. The US has concentration camps on our southern borders holding political and climate refugees, mass incarceration of people of color and poor whites, a polypharmacy crisis (the so-called “opioid epidemic”), and the rising criminalization of poverty. And meanwhile just three people own 50% of the wealth in the US (https://www.forbes.com/sites/noahkirsch/2017/11/09/the-3-richest-americans-hold-more-wealth-than-bottom-50-of-country-study-finds/#25efcab63cf8).

    There’s nothing in any of literature on the current “euthanizing the mentally ill” about psychiatric drug damage and PAWS. In fact, the articles I found use “mental illness” as a real, pathological illness with no correlation to “treatment.” And since most psychiatrists deny adverse effects and PAWS, and since the “mentally ill” are deemed sub-human and lacking in insight (a trait that defines being human), could this veer into the T4 Euthanasia territory?

    It’s frightening to think what a few people with so much power and wealth could do to the marginalized. Actually, what the systems created by this inequality have already done.

    And yet I fully understand what Zel Dolinsky was going through and understand his decision to end his pain. We should all have options to control what happens to our own bodies.

    No easy answers here.

  • Do you really want people in such positions promoting psychedelic drugs for traumatized people? A profession that systematically denies that traumatic events are even causal factors in their lists of “disorders?” And who can then force psychedelics against their will on anyone they decide is unable to make informed decisions for him/herself?

    Steve, I wonder if these types of studies are really a way of bringing back Project MK-Ultra (if it truly was ended).

  • Keep in mind that this is not a Trump phenomenon. Drew, Torrey, Jaffe, etc. are NOT Republicans. Psychiatry is a project of the faux-“left.”

    So, who’s ready to fight this shit?

    Yesterday the progressive news show I love so much, Democracy Now, had a show advocating forced “treatment.” It’s hard to watch your own side put out this kind of dangerous disinformation, but it’s the world we live in.


    Forced “treatment” is definitely not something that should be deemed a Trump phenomenon, as the title of this article makes it out to be. Trump is just messaging what a lot of people on the right and the left are thinking.

    I fear that marking it a Trump phenomenon gives the impression that simply changing presidents will fix this. But this actually makes it harder to organize and to educate. And I really believe education is critical. A lot of people are voicing the need for forced “treatment” without the knowledge of iatrogenic drug effects, withdrawal, and other issues surrounding the “treatment.”

    Also, many people have been completely mystified by doctors.

    But we really need both the left and the right to organize. No one deserves to be “treated” by psychiatry.

  • And if you read back through his comments, you’ll see he had no respect for authority granted to him or others by title or position. He earned my respect for that alone.

    Anti-authoritarians are the best and much needed in this day and age.

    The psychiatric system definitely targets anti-authoritarians, no doubt as a way of hiding the abuse that often triggers anti-authoritarianism in young people.

    It’s really sad to think of all of the lives destroyed from this system, especially since it’s anti-authoritarians who see the changes that need to be made in this unjust world.

  • But throughout those years, he always wrote from the perspective of a scientist.

    What does this really mean? You can report facts but it still not be truth. The facts used are selective and when a certain narrative is found, the fact-finding stops. Also, one fact can be seen as more important than another based on the scientist’s own conditioning and moral code (or lack thereof).

    This is why the long-term outcome studies such as Martin Harrow’s research are so important. Also, the statistics on the rise in disability reported by Robert Whitaker are also needed to find the truth, not to mention the lived history of people subjected to these “treatments.”

    These connections need to be made instead of relying on random facts. That seems to be the reason for the intense focus on what happened to the young man in the Pete Earley blog.

    I thanked him, and in his reply, he confided that he wished that our continuing education efforts had a class specifically on withdrawing from polypharmacy.

    A great resource for this is on Surviving Antidepressants:

    Taking multiple psych drugs? Which drug to taper first?


    Sorry, but we can’t wait for MiA or any group of so-called “professionals” to give us this information. People are becoming disabled and dying by the millions at this point – there are over 100 million people on these dangerous neurotoxins. There are lots of great withdrawal articles and case histories on the web placed there by people with lived experience.

    It will be nice to get the “professionals” who prescribe these drugs educated.

    Such is the “personal story” that Zel Dolinsky told in his last weeks. The man whom I knew as a scientist revealed how a diagnosis given to him when he was a teenager—and the subsequent drug treatment—had so harmed his inner sense of self and his physical self, too. At the end of his last letter, he wrote: “I try my best to tell the truth.”

    I’m grateful for this article and hearing Zel Dolinksy’s story. He was a scientist who did indeed discover the truth, which places him far above the majority of his peers.

    I wish he could have found the truth sooner.

    Finally, for some of us (probably more than we know), the choice of “Death With Dignity” is not just a catchy phrase, and after suffering for so long (which many people can’t see), it needs to be legalized in the US, because, after all we are US citizens, who have a right and should be respected in choosing how we live AND how we die” (peacefully I hope). . . something I am looking into.

    Yes, we do need laws that allow us to die with dignity. This has always been part of the ethos of antipsychiatry – it’s rarely to your advantage when someone else gets to decide “what is good for you.”

  • First, these people are always talking shit so it doesn’t make sense to get triggered and hysterical by that alone. What needs to be ascertained is whether any concrete proposals or plans for action have come out of this.

    Oldhead, true, getting triggered and hysterical doesn’t help. In fact, it plays into the stereotype of how people in the “mental health” system view our “mental illness” labels. The word “hysteria” is loaded with psychiatric connotations. That’s not who we are.

    But the people “talking shit” here are in elevated positions not only in potential political power, but also in the cult of celebrity. “Dr” Drew brings in celebrity culture. This has been an ongoing problem since Reagan and now, Trump has brought his surreal reality show into prime time politics.

    I’m not making this about a left or right issue (I hear what you’re saying about the faux-“left”). Celebrity culture is a dominant culture in our world right now. And it’s more pervasive in its toxicity than politics. Keep in mind – politics exists INSIDE celebrity culture.

    Isn’t that what writers like Neil Postman warned us about?

    So let’s start asking our favorite MIA “advocates” whether or not they are prepared to sign on.

    Yes, this is a good start. Phil Hickey, Bruce Levine, Bruce Cohen, and Susan Rosenthal come to mind as dissident voices from the professional class. There are likely more.

    BUT they cannot lead. This is something that a true dissident professional will understand. They can only message what antipsychiatry survivors are voicing.

    It’s a rare post on MiA that goes into the territory of antipsychiatry organizing strategy. Thank you, Oldhead.

  • The Onofre Lopes University Hospital in Brazil hosted the study. It began with a search for people between 18-60 years who met the criteria for major depressive disorder and had not previously responded to at least two antidepressant medications from different classes.

    Since most researchers don’t understand withdrawal symptoms that come from psychiatric drugs, I went and looked at the research study this article is based on. And I noted this:

    After screening, patients underwent a washout period of 2 weeks on average and adjusted to the half-life time of the antidepressant medication.

    This isn’t how withdrawal works – it’s not based on being on the drug, but rather, how the drug changes the brain/body. It can take several years to fully recover from exposure to antidepressants. This is being chronicled on websites like Surviving Antidepressants and on Facebook groups.

    Also, antidepressants are notorious for a delayed withdrawal, meaning many people don’t even feel antidepressant withdrawal for several months after coming off the drug. And since benzos were used, it’s clear some of these people were tapered far too quickly. And if they went into PAWS months later, you wouldn’t know if it was due to the ayahuasca or from delayed withdrawal from the antidepressant drug.

    This study makes no sense.

    The study includes a small number of participants with similar demographics, e.g., living in Brazilian culture, having low socioeconomic status, and experiencing “treatment-resistant” moderate to severe depression.

    “Treatment resistant” is code for being harmed by the drug, as Dr. Giovanni Fava already pointed out. It’s iatrogenic damage. https://www.madinamerica.com/2011/06/%EF%BB%BFnow-antidepressant-induced-chronic-depression-has-a-name-tardive-dysphoria/

    If someone comes from a low socioeconomic status, they may have very good reason for feeling hopeless and tired. No drug is going to fix that. Fix the low socioeconomic status and that will help fix the feelings of being hopeless and tired.

    The authors go on to illustrate the effects of psychedelics on the brain and discuss the mystical-type effects reported by the participants.

    Drugging poor people isn’t new, but calling it a “mystical experience” is a nice marketing technique.

    Not only does “mental illness” not exist, neither does common sense when it comes to these kinds of studies.

  • If anyone is interested, C-Span has video coverage of the “Mental Health” summit:

    Part 1:


    Part 2:


    I could only stomach this in small pieces at a time due to the enormity of the propaganda. I noticed in Pinsky’s talk he’s finding ways of trashing the importance of the Rosenhan Experiment, the work of Thomas Szasz, among others, while conveniently leaving out the work of Loren Mosher (the Soteria Project) and Bruce Alexander (the Rat Park experiments on drug addiction). Not to mention the utter BS coming out of Ben Carson and DJ Jaffe.

    What DJ Jaffe talks about in Part 1, starting about 36 minutes into the video, is very dangerous political propaganda.

  • Steve and Rachel, what you both write is so true.

    I’m very frightened by what Pinsky says here (bolding is mind):

    A common refrain from the pro-forced treatment advocates at the summit was that “four walls” are not the solution to the crisis. Dr. Drew slammed such efforts in California during his presentation: “The vast majority have serious mental illness and drug addiction. Four walls are not going to do anything, if they would even go in.”

    When this messaging is considered gospel by the people and the legislatures, then it’s going to get bad, I mean, really bad for those trapped in the “mental health” system.

    I’m reminded of what Szasz wrote in his book Thomas Szasz: Primary Values and Major Contentions where he described the ideology of Edward Banfield.

    Szasz quotes Banfield:

    “However, much of the violence in lower class life is probably more an expression of mental illness than of class culture. The incidence of serious mental illness is greater in the lower class than in any of the others.”

    Szasz explains what this really means:

    I’m surprised that Banfield has not yet been awarded the order of merit by the American Psychiatric Association. Perhaps he has not because his statements about mental illness are more extreme than even the APA would now dare to offer. Banfield’s assigning all persons who share in the lower class culture to the category of the mentally ill is reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition’s declaring, in the second half of the sixteenth century, the entire population of the Netherlands to be heretics and sentencing it, en masse, to death.

    Edward Banfield was an adviser to three Republican presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.

    Drew Pinksy is Trump’s Banfield.

    We desperately need a movement to end psychiatry, as this is something that clearly couldn’t – and shouldn’t – be reformed. It’s simply too dangerous to leave people like Pinsky as advisers to anyone in power.

    Antipsychiatry gets rid of not only the message, but also the messenger.

  • People also need to be aware of the cuts proposed to the SSI/SSDI budget in 2020.

    Yes, this is an excellent point, furies. This has to do with austerity politics, not the mythology of “mental illness.” It’s an economic issue, not a medical issue. Gentrification and cuts to HUD are major factors.

    I found this part of the article troubling:

    A common refrain from the pro-forced treatment advocates at the summit was that “four walls” are not the solution to the crisis. Dr. Drew slammed such efforts in California during his presentation: “The vast majority have serious mental illness and drug addiction. Four walls are not going to do anything, if they would even go in.”

    This Democracy Now clip shows a more intelligent view of what’s going on in California – “Nothing Ends Homelessness Like a Home’: Advocates Slam Trump’s Attack on SF & Homeless People” –


    It’s clear that “four walls” will do a LOT for these folks.

    Anyone who’s on the street will be sleep deprived, malnourished, afraid, anxious, all things that could appear to be “mental illness” if that’s how it’s narrated. An effective way to “other” people for the crimes of capitalism.

  • Dr. Drew’s ignorance and arrogance is profound. Watch this conversation I had with him on his live call-in show about benzos (starts at 1:01): https://youtu.be/tCRyVHF5Lrw I wonder how many millions of patients have been ripped off of benzos by their doctors both historically in psychiatric hospitals and recently as outpatients. Their withdrawal reactions are of course not properly diagnosed nor believed, and they are further drugged for their “underlining mental illness”. Dr. Drew clearly thinks that doctors know best, when in reality they are blind to the harm they cause.

    John, thank you for posting this. What “Dr” Drew is advocating – a cold turkey off benzos – is horrific. He didn’t even mention the fact that coming off benzos cold turkey or rapid taper can cause seizures and even death.

    “Dr.” Drew stated that all sorts of drugs could be used to alleviate the withdrawal from a sudden discontinuation, including Neurontin and mood stabilizers. You mention in your conversation with this “doctor” the likelihood of many people becoming “mental patients” due to benzos. That’s such a key point. I imagine the majority of his “patients” come off benzos and become life-long “mental patients” labeled with “bipolar” or “schizophrenia.”

    This MiA article quotes him as using the term anosognosia to describe the “mentally ill” as lacking insight. I have to wonder how many people he’s disabled or killed with the type of brutal “treatment” he advocates, while at the same time, calling it “medicine,” not torture.

    I’ve been through cold turkey benzo withdrawal and there are no words to describe the sheer hell of that experience.

    With “Dr.” Drew’s celebrity status, his message will be what’s heard. I’ve never seen his show “Celebrity Rehab,” but I’m sure the drama of pulling someone off a benzo cold turkey makes for good ratings.

  • Leah, thank you for this article.

    The article quotes DJ Jaffe, founder of MentalIllnessPolicy.Org, as he spoke to the audience:

    “Meet with your police, meet with your sheriff without mental health people in the room, so they don’t have to be politically correct and they can talk about the real issues that need solving.

    This is frightening.

    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.

  • Another objection will be that psychiatric patients have “anosognosia”—a term borrowed inappropriately from neurology—so they can’t be expected to understand the information. My response is twofold—first, this is a condescending and inappropriate view of patients which disrespects the cognitive capacity of almost every person who is prescribed the drugs. Second, it is the responsibility of the prescriber to make the information understandable, not the patient’s responsibility to ask all the right questions.

    Excellent points. Thank you for this.

  • Informed consent should also include the messaging that “mental illness” does not exist. Any “treatment” is solely to adjust the individual to the environment because we haven’t evolved as a species to where we can fix our societal problems.

    Informed consent should also include the messaging that doctors have more than twice the rate of suicide as the general population, and psychiatrists are near the top of that list (https://www.boardvitals.com/blog/why-doctors-commit-suicide/).

    And according to Dr. Breggin, a lot of doctors are on the same poisons they prescribe – he cites 75% of young doctors and medical students are taking psych drugs (https://breggin.com/alert-20-75percent-of-young-docs-on-psyche-drugs/).

    Informed consent should also include the voices of the noncompliant patient, such as Judi Chamberlin, who wrote:

    Let us celebrate the spirit of non-compliance that is the self struggling to survive. Let us celebrate the unbowed head, the heart that still dreams, the voice that refuses to be silent. I wish I could show you the picture that hangs on my office wall, which inspires me every day, a drawing by Tanya Temkin, a wonderful artist and psychiatric survivor activist. In a gloomy and barred room a group of women sit slumped in defeat, dresses in rags, while on the opposite wall their shadows, upright, with raised arms and wild hair and clenched fists, dance the triumphant dance of the spirit that will not die.


    Considering the outcomes of Dr. Martin Harrow’s research, it’s clear that noncompliance is the best way to deal with our distress (https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/02/interpreting-harrows-20-year-results-are-the-drugs-to-blame/)

  • These defenses are not just espoused by companies but are often put forth, unfortunately, by university administrators.

    This article mentions the role that the universities play in ghostwriting, but it should also be noted the role that universities play in such things as marketing the chemical imbalance. This is a current page on Princeton’s website that targets new students who are having trouble adjusting to university life:

    Depression is associated with reduced levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, impairing the body’s ability to respond quickly to external situations. In other words, your brain cannot respond appropriately to information from the external world that unceasingly bombards the senses. Fortunately, antidepressant medication can restore chemical balance in the brain by raising the level of serotonin. https://uhs.princeton.edu/health-resources/emotionalmental-health

    Is it any wonder medical students turn into doctors who so easily prescribe drugs without any critical thought? Academia is sadly not always a source of reality. It’s manufacturing it’s own reality and creating “thought leaders” to usher in a Brave New World.

    It would be hard to imagine Newsweek knowingly publishing an article drafted by a Toyota employee that recommends buying Toyotas but that lists a University Professor as the named author. Newsweek’s readers would hardly stand for this behavior.

    Actually, if it were done as native advertising, Newsweek’s readers would likely not even notice because native advertising is disguised as editorials and news stories. Native advertising is a growing concern that should be on everyone’s radar, just like medical ghostwriting.


    We are awash in propaganda, so it’s great to see MiA publishing articles like this as a reality check and a wake up call.

  • Yes, Anomie. Survival of the Fittest as the standard can be brutal to those judged unfit. Weakness is viewed as the ultimate crime–worse than robbery or murder.

    Rachel, this is very true.

    I’m not a Christian, so I’m no expert, but the Christian beatitudes always struck me as something that countered this by giving praise and encouragement to the meek, the poor, and the persecuted. The weak are viewed as sacred, not criminal or “mentally ill.”

    Something the Social Darwinists should have paid more attention to.

    But a lot of this is about fundamentalism and power, which can be used by both the religious and the secular.

  • Perhaps instead of “original sins,” it should be “adaptations to pre-existing systems” that we are all born into.

    If you’re born into systems of poverty, war, cycles of domestic violence, etc. than you learn to adapt to systems in ways that are completely different than if you’re born into a comfortable and safe system where you’re nurtured and care for.

  • I don’t think the problem is both. I think the problem is force, and the power that psychiatry has been granted by legislators and in courts of law.

    Frank, my problem with this statement is it doesn’t address other types of power: propaganda, lying in medical research, and using others as proxies for forcing drugs on people. By this, I mean parents who give their small children psych drugs and workers in nursing homes who give their patients psych drugs.

    The most vulnerable don’t require the type of force that the courts can rule out.

    Getting rid of forced treatment only solves part of the problem.

  • However, there are many who portray themselves as “psychotherapists” who are hand-in-glove with psychiatry, and see themselves as part of the medical milieu. I believe some can even prescribe drugs. (Anyone know more about this?)

    Oldhead, this is a really good article from MiA about this very issue:

    Prescribing Rights for Psychologists

    Some key findings from that article:


    *The development of psychological tools to assist pharma marketing may be a product of the fact that in contrast to the ethical principles developed by psychiatry, the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct includes an exemption clause which allows psychologists to breach their code of ethics where the code is in conflict with their employers demands.

    * In reading the policy documents of these groups along with those of psychologists it is clear that for them, authority to prescribe symbolizes their legitimacy as scientists and physicians. Prescribing rights are accompanied by changes in job titles – medical chiropractors for example – which elevates them above colleagues without prescription pads. Prescribing has become a huge status symbol within the non-medical and alternative therapy fields.

    * Less well known perhaps is that psychology was as involved in the development of the ‘bible of psychiatry’ as psychiatry itself. The American Psychiatric Association tells us that the DSM-5 task force and work group members comprised nearly 100 psychiatrists and 47 psychologists.


    Except for the work of a handful of great psychologists, such as Phil Hickey and Bruce Levine, it’s hard to find anything of value in this field. Of course, one might say that Hickey and Levine are less like practitioners of psychology and more like truth tellers and whistleblowers.

    Perhaps some prescribing psychologists will help patients taper off psychiatric drugs, but with the conflicts of interest the same regarding psychologists being targeted by big pharma as psychiatrists, the overall picture will likely be that of more people going on drugs than coming off.

  • You seem to think the problem is psychiatry while I think the problem is force.

    Frank, if this comment is directed at my last post, I want to clarify that I think the problem is BOTH. In order to get rid of force, you have to get rid of psychiatry. Oppressors don’t just hand over their weapons because we ask. Even if laws are written to end forced treatment, psychiatry is still scripting a narrative that prevents resources from going where they need to go.

    In order to script a new narrative, one not written by old, white, wealthy men, but one written by people and by communities, psychiatry needs to be removed.

  • There’s also a version of “original sin” for atheists when it’s combined with a utopian belief system. This is how atheism can become religion.

    If you believe that the world is moral, that people are inherently good, that we are progressing toward a perfect world, you can become blinded to the world as it really is and find ways to demonize those who aren’t progressing into that mythical reality with you.

    And if you build an ethical system based on your own culture within these utopian beliefs AND you have power over others who don’t share the same cultural values, the end result is one group who can harm another group in the effort to bring forth that utopia.

    Psychiatry believes humans are morally progressing, that the only reason you (the “mental patient”) aren’t keeping up is because there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

    This utopian view that humans are morally progressing and if you’re not (according to their value system of what is moral), then you need to be adjusted to fit in society or you need to be removed.

    When one group of people (psychiatrists) believe that the world they live in is moral, they are blinded to the reality that others live in.

    They can discount child abuse, domestic violence, racism, poverty, war, etc. as being secondary and non-consequential to someone’s struggle.

    Psychiatrists fall into the trap of believing they are moral and pure and they can’t see their own need to control (i.e. original sin) as they try to march the human race into that utopia based on their own magical belief system. This ties in with what Rachel wrote about a level playing field.

    But one definition of utopia, from the Greek ou topos means “no where.”

    As Thomas Szasz wrote, psychiatry is a secular religion. And I’ll add – it leads nowhere, at least nowhere good.

  • I personally have issues with what Scientology appears to be advocating.

    As Bruce Levine put it: [T]he political problem for Resistance activists is Scientology’s similarity to First-Order Psychiatry in that both are (1) pseudoscientific; (2) oppressively hierarchical; and (3) deal harshly with their ex-insiders who have come to reject them.

    Levine also quotes Whitaker in this article:

    Thanks to Scientology, the powers that be in psychiatry had the perfect storytelling foil, for they could now publicly dismiss criticism of the medical model and psychiatric drugs with a wave of the hand, deriding it as nonsense that arose from people who were members of a deeply unpopular cult, rather than criticism that arose from their own research. As such, the presence of Scientology in the storytelling mix served to taint all criticism of the medical model and psychiatric drugs, no matter what the source.

    From the article – https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/07/drug-choice-scientology-ego-needs-other-divides-real-politics-101-part-three/


    Whitaker also points out that psychiatry/Big Pharma effectively convinced the media that the only critic of psychiatry is Scientology and, as Whitaker notes, “From the media’s perspective, you had academic psychiatrists on one side and cultists on the other, and who was the media going to believe? And going forward, this was a strategy that was bound to intimidate reporters, for their careers could be at risk if they were seen as lending credence to Scientologists. The Scientology card was psychiatry’s ace in the hole; it helped still media criticism for decades.”

    From the article: http://brucelevine.net/10-reasons-why-psychiatry-lives-on-obvious-dark-and-darkest-2/

    I have to wonder how much progress could have been made to end psychiatry if it weren’t for Scientology.

  • Sometimes unless something jibes with one’s personal experience “obvious” connections aren’t so obvious.

    This is very true, Oldhead. Yet another reason academic anti-psychiatry is problematic.

    But it’s a positive sign that he sees the contradictions.

    Yes, perhaps this doctor will eventually become an ally once the connections are made. Not many psychiatrists admit there are problems in the field and acknowledge the work of the online peer-led advocacy groups.

    It’s all a process, not an overnight event. It will be good to find more allies.

  • Here is my plan as an individual with very little control over the votes of rich sociopaths in Congress:


    Kindredspirit, yes, I’ve been reading about the concept of Planetary Hospice:

    “Welcome to the Planetary Hospice” – https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/welcome-to-the-planetary-hospice

    From the article:

    Of paramount importance to this new form of activism is how we deal with grief. Conscious grieving is an integral component of the maturity required to balance compassionate action with the discerning acceptance of our predicament.

    I have to wonder how the removal of the grief exception from the DSM 5 may play into this. The “mental health” system has always found ways of removing our humanity from us.

  • My general response to the article is that the author is no dummy and has a very good understanding of a slew of psychiatry’s contradictions, but at the same time doesn’t seem to make some of the connections which might prompt the realization that psychiatry IS a police force, not a legitimate branch of medicine, and that these logical disconnects are not random or coincidental.

    Oldhead, my take on this is that the article is INTENTIONALLY disconnected. Many of us made these connections while coming off psych drugs and dealing with profound cognitive issues.

    It’s not that hard to connect intellectually. But connections aren’t always made at the conscious, intellectual level. In order to reach this realization, psychiatrists – the “healers” of our tribe as they’ve been taught to believe – have to face what they really are and what their profession has done to millions of people left disabled, traumatized, and many, dead.

    So maybe I’m wrong and not all the disconnect is intentional, but perhaps, simply a human response. I don’t think any psychiatrist signed up for this any more than any “patient” did. Other than Dr. Thomas Szasz, I can’t find any other psychiatrist who figured it out prior to medical school.

    Please don’t think I’m excusing any crimes at the individual level because there are many, but I believe it’s about the system.

    And yes, it is a police force, not medicine. It never was meant to be anything other than that.

  • Scientology should be part of this discussion, but it can’t properly be as long as so many of us don’t know what it really is.

    l_e_cox, you don’t need to be a Scientologist to be a critic of psychiatry.

    How would you “properly” involve any religion into this discussion without proselytizing?

    Many of us who escaped psychiatry just want to be left alone, especially by others who think they know better.

  • Assigning the problem of climate change inaction to individuals curtails governmental responsibilities.

    Large segments of the US government are climate deniers who are owned by corporate interests.

    Considering how much the field of psychology has focused on “positive psychology” and helping “patients” re-direct their thoughts with CBT, which only further individualized us, I wouldn’t count on the field of psychology to be anything more than a distraction.

    They have been “assigning” many of the world’s problems to individuals since the field began.

    They conclude with action steps for future research.

    Future research? We only have a few years to figure this out. Now is the time for grassroots organizing, protest, action – things that academic researchers have no background in doing.

    Or perhaps, it’s as Jem Bendell writes, it’s time for “deep adaptation” as we enter the age of societal collapse.

    “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating ClimateTragedy”

  • I have a huge problem with Psychiatry that goes way beyond “force”.
    Because even if you CHOOSE to walk in, you lose rights, such as medical care that is equal to the non labeled, parenting rights if some family member decides to hate you.
    In fact most of your complaints will go unheard or minimized, and all complaints, all issues, all needs will be viewed through the lens of your label.

    This is so true, Sam. There’s a lot of medical discrimination that doctors even admit to, like in this NYT article:

    “The Largest Health Disparity We Don’t Talk About”

    For doctors, two related biases are probably at play. The first is therapeutic pessimism. Clinicians, including mental health professionals, often hold gloomy views about whether patients with serious mental illness can get better. This can lead to a resigned passivity, meaning that certain tests and treatments aren’t offered or pursued.

    The second is a concept called diagnostic overshadowing, by which patients’ physical symptoms are attributed to their mental illness.


    The only way to get psychiatry out of healthcare is to end it. Until then, people just aren’t safe. Psychiatry is simply too dangerous a system to allow to function, even on a voluntary basis.

  • Here is how Thomas Insel, Executive Director of NIMH for 13 years, put it: “I spent 13 years at NIMH really pushing on the neuroscience and genetics of mental disorders, and when I look back on that I realize that while I think I succeeded at getting lots of really cool papers published by cool scientists at fairly large costs – I think $20 billion – I don’t think we moved the needle in reducing suicide, reducing hospitalizations, improving recovery for the tens of millions of people who have mental illness.”

    Actually, they did move the needle – the are even more suicides, more hospitalizations, and an outcome of a 30-year decreased life expectancy for those of us diagnosed with a so-called “severe mental illness.”

    What’s more frightening is what Insel did next – go digital:

    “Star Neuroscientist Tom Insel Leaves the Google-Spawned Verily for … a Startup?” – https://www.wired.com/2017/05/star-neuroscientist-tom-insel-leaves-google-spawned-verily-startup/?mbid=social_twitter_onsiteshare

    If biomarkers can’t diagnose mental health issues, maybe a “digital phenotype” can. In 2015, Insel told Technology Review that this was why he was jumping to Alphabet: the idea that a combination of your medical records (electronically stored, duh) and how you use your gadgets—tracking of activity correlating with depression or future self-harm, let’s say—could be a Big Data bonanza for predicting and treating health issues.

    “For a bipolar patient whose mania is manifested in rapid, uninterruptible speech or hypergraphia, their disease could be characterized by the frequency, length, and content of participation in social media,” write the researchers who defined the term in Nature Biotechnology. In fact, mood is one of the things that Verily’s $100 million Baseline study will track among its 10,000 eventual participants.


    Insel is now the so-called “mental health czar” of California, as reported in this article, “California names former Google scientist as the state’s ‘mental health czar’” – https://www.statnews.com/2019/05/22/tom-insel-california-mental-health-czar/

    Insel’s new job will be to “inform the state’s work as California builds the mental health system of tomorrow, serving people whether they are living in the community, on the streets or if they are in jails, schools or shelters,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

    Mindstrong, which is focused on using data on how people use their smartphone to detect trends in their mental health, already has a relationship with public officials in California. One of Mindstrong’s first large-scale rollouts was slated to happen in the state through county-level public mental health systems, STAT reported in October.


    Frightening to think what “serving the people” actually means, especially with the financial connections from his multi-million dollar business and his influence over policies as the “mental health czar.”

    Note that they are targeting the “public mental health system,” meaning they are going after the most vulnerable and marginalized.

    At this point, if psychologists want to “help” people, inform them that Huxley has now met Orwell.

  • I think psychologists are making this way too complicated. Most of their “patients” are already iatrogenically harmed. If they want to help, they need to deal with that fact.

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


    From the abstract:

    The DSM-5 refers to a patient population that no longer exists: subjects who display various manifestations of psychological distress who do not receive any form of drug treatment for it.

    In other words, EVERYONE coming through the “mental health” system since the DSM 5 is on drugs. Or at least, the majority are.

    At this point, psychologists need to have a thorough understanding of the (side) effects and withdrawal effects of these drugs because (nearly) ALL of their “patients” are now dealing with iatrogenic drug effects.

    So psychologists can play an important role in the #deprescribing movement, but only if they are aware of this and aren’t mystified themselves by psychiatrists. The #deprescribing information on Twitter has great information: https://twitter.com/hashtag/deprescibing

    The online withdrawal forums are already informing those in the “psy” professions who wish to learn what it’s like to come off these drugs. The peer-run website Surviving Antidepressants.org has thousands of case studies in the Introductions section of the website – https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/forum/3-introductions-and-updates/

    Of course, many psychologists are also on these drugs. So “patients” need to be wary of being “treated” by someone who is drugged, as this would clearly be someone whose advice would be questionable.

    What I find fascinating is that in the entire article, getting feedback or information from the actual clients is never mentioned once. Perhaps that’s the real reason clinicians can’t get together – they’re aiming as usual at the wrong target.

    Steve, I get where you’re coming from and you’re right to some degree.

    However, coming from an antipsychiatry perspective, my theory is that they’re actually aiming at the RIGHT target – none of the psy professions are there to help people, but to keep people either in line or out of the way. It’s definitely not to empower them and help them learn to “name their world” in the Freirian sense – in order to fight back and rebel against systems of power.

    I’m not saying there aren’t good psychologists, but they are very rare. The best of them, ones like Dr. Phil Hickey, are working to end psychiatry so that the conversation can be shifted to the structural injustices that cause our distress so we can rise up and fight against injustices.

    So in order to be a good psychologist, they need to be antipsychiatry. But I didn’t see that mentioned, either.

  • “Szazian” is just another way to discredit both Szaz and anyone else who dares to question the fact-free psychiatric dogma on which the entire system rests its ugly head.

    Steve, good point. Szasz worked to point out that psychiatry allowed the state to have unprecedented power, so in that respect, not only was “schizophrenia” the sacred symbol of psychiatry, but also the sacred symbol of the state and of the politicians.

    For some reason, I’m flashing back to the book Amusing Ourselves to Death. Neil Postman wrote:

    Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

    The politicians are playing their role well, I think.

  • I believe this kind of psychotherapy is way undervalued and underused in our society. Also, when we use the word psychotherapy I think we should include all of the ways in which people can be helped to love and express themselves in satisfying ways – yoga, support groups, all kinds of group and family therapy, exercise, sports, dance, help with relationships and work, meditation, spiritual practices, etc.

    Al, I don’t see what yoga, exercise, sports, dance, meditation, and spiritual practices have to do with psychotherapy.

    Something that’s good for you doesn’t need to be labeled as part of any “psy” category.

    This is a key part of the antipsychiatry message – in order to end one oppression (psychiatry) doesn’t mean offering alternatives. There are things that are good for you that aren’t any part of any of the “psy” professions.

    Since anti-psychiatry is in the title of this article, I think this is important to point this out because many psychiatric survivors who identify as anti-psychiatry are also anti-psychology and for good reasons – most psychologists “treating” people who are tapering off their drugs are uninformed psychologists who create even more trauma for their “patients” by not believing that their anxiety, depression, and voices are withdrawal symptoms.

    Until this profession gets an education in de-prescribing and stops attributing iatrogenic drug harm as their “patient’s” having a relapse of “mental illness” due to coming off psych drugs, psychologists need to be avoided.

    Again, you don’t need a “mental health” professional to do things that are good for you.

  • In it Stephen talks about Hinduism, Buddhism, polarity and ego — which I find particularly relevant considering that, of all those I have come across at MIA to date, Stephen and Phil Hickey are the two in which I have encountered virtually zero ego.

    Oldhead, I recently read Phil Hickey’s newest article and yes, he and Stephen were two people with virtually zero ego.

    Their writings are very calming to read, but very powerful. That’s a rare combination and one that’s really needed because I think that’s a place where people can actually “hear” what’s being said.

    We need more antipsychiatry voices, especially those who come from that calming place of no ego.

  • So in reality, one never has to step into the casino, psychiatry ensured that in every facet of society, their casino exists, so it is NEVER voluntary, and is the biggest reason to get rid of them.

    Great point, Sam. Yes, they are in the schools, prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, military – everywhere.

  • When it comes to shining a light on psychiatry within politics, it comes down to psychiatry’s role as an adjunct to law enforcement and the military.

    Sadly, many who understand American Exceptionalism in war are still blinded to American Exceptionalism in medicine, even though the US acting in good faith in either just doesn’t have any traction when you look at the people’s history, not the white-washed textbook history.

    Of course, American Exceptionalism in medicine can serve a specific political purpose if we believe in such nonsense as the “mentally ill” homeless instead of victims of gentrification who are sleep deprived, malnourished, and unkempt due to lack of affordable housing. It keeps us from fixing this social problem.

    It serves a specific political purpose if we believe in such nonsense as the “mentally ill” who are incarcerated instead of dealing with a racist drug war.

    Or if we believe that children have “ADHD” instead of fixing the schools and ending the draconian teach-to-the-test curriculum.

    Instead we spend hundreds of billions of dollars chasing down mythical brain diseases under the belief that doctors know best. American Exceptionalism in medicine blinds many people who are woke to other aspects of these same societal breakdowns.

    As societies get larger and more complex and start heading toward collapse, the ability to connect dots gets harder. It’s colony collapse like we see now in bees.

    The article brought up Thomas Szasz here:

    In a further effort to discredit Luterman, Powers accuses her of being a “Szazian,” and by extension, possibly a Scientologist. Luterman is not a Scientologist, and told this reporter via Twitter that she has never even read Szasz. “They just made a bunch of stuff up about me out of whole cloth,” Luterman said.

    I can understand that being lumped in with the Scientologists is problematic, but I don’t see why it’s bad to be a “Szaszian.” Thomas Szasz wrote about the way psychiatrists guard the sacred symbol of “schizophrenia” as a way of Othering targeted groups of people.

    While I don’t agree with Szasz’s libertarian views, he understood power better than most in that field. So that’s not a label I would shy away from.

    This is, after all, about power, not medicine, as this article clearly shows.

    Thank you for this informative article.

  • I wonder if the person wants a medication and the patient is warned about side-effects and withdrawal and that it will be for a trial period doesn’t medication still have a valuable role in the mental health field?

    You can become dependent on a benzo in as little as two weeks and you can become dependent on antidepressants and neuroleptics in about a month.

    Are patients warned about that aspect? That doesn’t give you much time to “trial” a drug before ending up having to stay on it for months or even years in order to do a safe taper.

    Regarding your comments about seeing some people’s lives transformed and other’s destroyed by the drugs, have you heard of the “more harm than good” conference? A write up is here from CEPUK:


    And the videos are here:


    When the harms outweigh the good, then your answer is no, there is no valuable role for these drugs. That’s not just my opinion but basic math.

    Also, you may want to read Dr. Irving Kirsch’s writings on the placebo effect.


    They want a diagnosis and treatment preferably a pill.

    Of course they do – psychiatry has been preaching the chemical imbalance for decades, meanwhile diverting much-needed resources away from other things that could be helpful that don’t involve destroying our health.

    For the vast majority symptom checklists give little indication whether medication may make a difference or not.

    By “symptom checklists,” do you mean the DSM? The manual of checklists that psychiatry wrote?

    So if psychiatry doesn’t know if the “medication” (drug) will make a difference, why did psychiatry form its practice around the bio-medical model? Psychiatrists were the ones who wrote the checklists.

    So in conclusion, rather than voting psychiatrists off the island shouldn’t we together honour our different experiences and commit to continuing respectful, mutual learning from each other?

    I’m going to quote Dr. Phil Hickey to answer this question. From his blog “In Defense of Anti-Psychiatry”:

    Psychiatry is not something good that needs minor adjustments. Rather, it is something fundamentally flawed and rotten. Based on spurious premises, and devoid of even a semblance of critical self-scrutiny, it is utterly and totally irremediable. It has locked itself into the falsehood that every-problem-is-an-illness-and-for-every-illness-there’s-a-drug from which it cannot extricate itself. It is nothing more than legalized drug-pushing, endlessly attempting to mask its guilt by proclaiming its innocence, vilifying its critics, and calling for more “treatment.” It has built into itself the seeds of its own destruction, and will eventually fade away as its credibility dwindles, and more and more potential recruits recognize the sordid reality and seek careers in genuine, ethically-driven medicine.


  • Personally I question whether those who have embraced psychiatry or a psychiatric label can be truly considered “survivors.” Which is why I prefer “inmates” and “outmates.” But I don’t want to get back into those semantics this week.

    While I don’t have the right to say how anyone should or shouldn’t identify themselves, it’s impossible to be both inside the system and outside the system.

  • The critical point here is that psychiatry has no such insights to support its long-contended assertion that its functional diagnoses are real illnesses just like diabetes. All they have is their unwarranted assertions, their PR, the ethically dubious financial support of pharma, and, of course, their nonexistent chemical imbalances.

    I’d like to add another critical point that differentiates psychiatry and real medicine — a real doctor offers you treatment, such as insulin for diabetes, while a psychiatrist too often forces their “treatment” if you don’t comply.

    Another key point in the article:

    Meanwhile, the true causes of these human concerns are hiding in plain sight: loss; inadequate training; traumatic history; painful events; etc. But this is the reality that psychiatry has systematically repressed for the past fifty years or more.

    Very true. I want to quote a passage from one of my favorite articles by Dr. Hickey, “In Defense of Anti-Psychiatry”:

    The issue is not the deliberate exertion of social control over the population, but rather the promotion of the falsehood that despondency/distress arising from adverse events and/or persistent adverse circumstances is really the result of chemical or electrical malfunctions in the affected individuals’ brains. It is an obvious fact that this falsehood constitutes a de facto condoning of the institutionalized injustices, and a passive collusion with the perpetrators.

    I would argue that psychiatry’s 200 year history of colluding with the perpetrators is enough to say it actually IS a deliberate exertion of social control. At least the system should be portrayed that way, even if individual psychiatrists are not.

    The system is rotten at the core and not something that can ever be reformed.

    Thank you, Dr. Hickey, for all of your great blogs on MiA and for being an ally to psychiatric survivors who identify as anti-psychiatry.

  • My point is that the User Voice, which includes the psychiatric survivor voice, is very much present at this place. White Eagle is a small user group that also very much has a psychiatric survivor perspective.

    Mr. Whitaker, I fear that a broad brush is being used to paint what the “psychiatric survivor perspective” really is.

    Some of us are anti-psychiatry, which this clearly is not.

    While I appreciate the good that groups like this can do, the psychiatric survivor perspective is not monolithic. By writing it this way, it drowns out the messaging of anti-psychiatry, which is to end a very dark and dangerous form of oppression. From an anti-psychiatry perspective, the message conveyed is that survivors are not capable of helping each other outside a system that gives psychiatry a hierarchy.

    Also, the user movement thrives in Norway, and We Shall Overcome is one of the oldest psychiatric survivor groups in Europe, and perhaps the oldest of any group still active today.

    That fact that so little progress has been made in decades is evident in the mentality that we “need” assistance from experts – again no matter how well-meaning – and that we’re at their mercy. It keeps the system in place because it legitimizes the need for psychiatric assistance.

    Also, it’s very likely that Norway is not as totalitarian as other countries, such as the US. So what happens in Norway may not be transferrable to other countries which are quickly devolving into police states. I would urge you to read Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, and other writers who are documenting this.

    Some systems are just wrong. There’s no way to fix systems that are inherently morally bankrupt. Trying to do so will only help a handful of people, while sending the message that we need to keep the psychiatric hierarchy in tact and in power.

  • I read an article about suicide among health professionals. And as usual, it did not mention psychiatry, meds, MI. It mentioned “pressure”, “fear of speaking out”, and how poor doctors live under pressure. Within non professionals they use the term MI.
    Their “mental health issues” seem to be a natural progression within oppression, not a disease.


    Sam, brilliant post. I’ve read many articles about doctor suicides and it’s as you say, “a natural progression within oppression, not a disease” that’s being messaged internally.

    And when it’s messaged to people outside of medicine, to the general population (as if doctors operate outside this sphere in their godlike states), it’s due to a biologically determined “illness.” And so eugenics lives on.

    As you note, there’s no mention of psychiatric drugs, but if what Dr. Breggin has written, it’s a huge problem affecting 75% of young doctors and medical students who are taking psych drugs.


    Medical school is one of the best examples of a toxic form of education known as “the banking model” of eduction – when the teacher pours information directly into their students’ brains and there’s no contextual meaning or dialogue. Paulo Freire wrote about this in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

    Medical students are traumatized by medical school – long hours, high student debt (especially in the US), and no emphasis on critical thinking, only rote memory. All of this operates in a way similar to cults – medical students are subjected to sleep deprivation, poor diets, psychoactive drug use, high debt, and endless hours of propaganda from the pharmaceutical industry.

    And then medical students become doctors with internalized trauma working its way through the entire system.

    The system is broken for all of us. And that’s more than a bit frightening.

  • As long as people are taught to identify as “patients” in “hospitals” this is more of the same old wine in a slightly different container. Psychiatry cannot be “reformed,” it must be abolished.

    True, Oldhead. And as long as psychiatrists are identified as “doctors” and not enforcers of social control, again, as you say, same old wine in a slightly different container.

    Yes, psychiatry cannot be “reformed,” it must be abolished.

    I cannot hear that enough.

  • Good points, anomie. But it is good that some psychiatrists are starting to wake up, and starting to acknowledge the “potential” iatrogenic harm being done with the psychiatric diagnoses and treatments.

    Someone Else, you raise some great points, but I think you’re giving psychiatry too much credit. They aren’t waking up so much as realizing the villagers may be coming for them with pitchforks.

    As reported last year in Psychiatric Times:


    The traffic moving through these sites is mostly from within the US and is substantial: http://www.benzobuddies.org receives on average 250,000 hits a month and http://www.survivingantidepressants.org receives approximately 150,000 hits each month.

    Not to mention the coverage in the New York Times last year:


    I think psychiatry will be looking for some ways to profit from the mess they created, while keeping their status as well-respected and legitimate doctors (not that it’s in any way warranted), so I’m looking at the reformist agenda and the psychiatric apologists with great skepticism.

    It was the grassroots movement of online withdrawal forums that collectively figured out the best practice methods of a slow and gradual taper, starting from information from the Ashton Manual and moving into the numerous interactive peer-run web forums.

    Psychiatrists have been learning from us from the start. But they want to keep their power and their paychecks, so I’m concerned about giving them too much credit and not enough credit to the people with lived history who have been at the withdraw game since the dawn of the internet.

  • Yes, and the primary actual societal functions of both psychology and psychiatry, by design, historically and today, are covering up child abuse and rape, both functions of which are illegal.

    Very true, Someone Else.

    Historically, the dominant power structure has considered women and children property. It’s deeply ingrained in the US and other colonized countries.

    While psychiatry didn’t invent this cultural value, it does a very good job of enforcing it. The inquisitors did the same thing before psychiatry took over the role.

  • Said Underland: “We believe having a job is the single most important factor in every person’s life.”

    The problem with this mentality is the fact that in large parts of the world, even in the US, there are no jobs.

    Three people own 50% of the wealth in the US (https://www.forbes.com/sites/noahkirsch/2017/11/09/the-3-richest-americans-hold-more-wealth-than-bottom-50-of-country-study-finds/#13f68aad3cf8). And it’s just a handful of families that own 90% of the wealth. And this is not just a US problem, but a global problem.

    With the new “gig” economy creating our economic landscape and what’s left of the social contract being destroyed (just this past week, hundreds of thousands of people were thrown off food stamps in the US and there’s more news about the NHS being privatized in the UK), I don’t see this mentality – no matter how well meaning – of having much long-term use.

    While this private “hospital” is certainly good for people who can afford to go there, it just doesn’t make sense to keep looking to psychiatry – again, no matter how well meaning – to fix what psychiatry caused (a large part of what this “hospital” does is de-prescribing) and to further instill the work ethic when the world economy is collapsing into oligarchy and our most pressing issue is the climate crisis.

    I’m an advocate of real emotional and personal transformation happening during the struggle to end oppression, not continuing to adjust people to conform to oppression. But that only happens when people learn to name their oppression. We see that happening now with millions of people rising up globally in protest for economic, racial, and climate justice.

    I’m very glad to read that people are being helped by these kinds of projects, but I’m wary of the overall messaging of continuing to adjust people to the world instead of working to change and transform it, especially when the majority of people who need this type of help are too disenfranchised to partake.

  • sam plover wrote:

    I read the whole article, twice and tried to find a hint of the author understanding what field he was in, what position patients were in, yet I could not. I felt it to be just another article that excused psychiatry, and in fact I felt paternalized….(a lolly for the moment) I find it easier to read a pro-psychiatry piece than one that is supposed to seem as if it recognizes psychiatry.

    sam, what you’re writing about here I think is true of most psychiatric apologists. In your first comment to this article, you asked, “What disorders do you believe in and assign to patients?”

    It’s true that this is not something conveyed in the article. Psychiatric apologists write as if they are spectators to the atrocities of their own profession, but by the very nature of identifying as “psychiatrist” and asserting the powers and privileges that arise from that identification, they are still participating in the atrocities.

    Perhaps there are examples when this isn’t the case. Dr. Loren Mosher comes to mind, as he never committed anyone or forced drugs on anyone in the 40 years in which he was a psychiatrist (page 75 – http://psychrights.org/Research/Legal/25AkLRev51Gottstein2008.pdf).

    But Mosher used a technique called being with, which speaks in the language of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed:

    A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.

    I don’t get the vibe that this psychiatrist, no matter how well intentioned, actually trusts the “patients.” The article’s glib humor is a way of distancing the author from the atrocities, but this distances him from the people most harmed.

    I’ve known far too many people who are dead, disabled, or disappeared by psychiatry to find much humor in any of the clever word play.

    The academic version of anti-psychiatry has always been a distraction. Perhaps this is a reason Dr. Thomas Szasz refused to play their game.

    Antipsychiatry belongs to the survivors.

  • Steve McCrea wrote:

    Your point about the “hostile takeover” is very well taken. There appeared to be little in the way of hostility – it was more of a merger made in the interests of monopolizing the market. Both sides agreed from the start, and both sides benefited massively from the collaboration. The only hostility was toward any whistle-blower who tried to point out what was really going on.

    Exactly, Steve. Thank you for bringing up the whistleblowers because that’s a very important point.

    Dr. Peter Gøtzsche is a perfect example of a whistleblower targeted for his research into how deadly psychiatric drugs are. When Robert Whitaker wrote about Dr. Gøtzsche, he uncovered the fact that it was E. Fuller Torrey who lodged the complaint:


    Psychiatrists, if indeed they are real doctors in the “healer” sense of the word, should be the ones who protect people from being poisoned by the corporate greed that fuels the psychiatric drug epidemic.

    But it’s the biggest names in psychiatry, the so-called “thought leaders,” whose own bogus research studies are turned into corporate marketing campaigns for big pharma. And then psychiatry has the nerve to blame the pharmaceutical industry for the outcome.

    But big pharma didn’t lock me in a psych ward and drug me for months at a time and then throw me out on the streets with a drug dependency problem that THEY created.

    That’s on psychiatry, especially since various psychiatrists spent years after that gaslighting me about my “psychosis” being the result of a chemical imbalance and withholding information on dopamine supersensitivity and benzodiazepine-induced depersonalization / derealization, or what I like to call psychiatry’s acid trip.

    These “doctors” are, after all, legalized drug dealers.

    And it’s not like psychiatrists don’t know the harms of these drugs – I found out about it researching while struggling with neuroleptic-induced cognitive impairment. Surely a psychiatrist with a medical degree and no brain damage could figure out why their “patients” are dying 30 years early.

    That’s if they really wanted to know. Cognitive dissonance can only explain so much.

    The psychiatric system isn’t broken. It’s working exactly as it’s designed – to silence the individual in distress as a way of silencing the societal problems he or she represents.

    I’m very grateful to the whistleblowers who risk their reputations and careers to bring us the truth.

  • This article is better than most articles published on MiA that are written by psychiatrists, but I found a few problem areas.

    Indeed, would it be better, as many have argued, if psychiatrists were voted off the island altogether so other practitioners can more effectively help those with broken minds?

    While I do advocate ending psychiatry, since most psychiatric drugs are prescribed by doctors who are not psychiatrists, that won’t solve all of the problems.

    Also, the mind is an abstraction – it cannot be broken or diseased.

    Other medical specialists tend to see psychiatry as wooly, unscientific, “not proper medicine” and, most perniciously, an easy way out from the more arduous and exacting training of other specialties.

    Again, most psychiatric drugs are prescribed by doctors who are not psychiatrists. If these other medical specialists are such skeptics, how did they so easily buy into the chemical imbalance hoax and why, instead, did they not warn their patients of this hoax?

    Aren’t doctors supposed to be healers?

    One would be hard-pressed to find a case of hysteria now — the diagnosis de jour in the late 19th century . . .

    “Hysteria” is now “borderline personality.” It never went away – psychiatry has always found ways of psychiatrizing women. For more on this, see “Chapter 6: Reproducing Patriarchal Relations” in Dr. Bruce Cohen’s book Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness.

    The mental illness landscape, to a large extent, has had a hostile takeover from Big Pharma.

    It has? It seems less of a hostile takeover and more of an open invitation by psychiatry.

    If you look back at Dr. Loren Mosher’s writings on The Soteria Project, psychiatry knowingly and willingly opened the door to big pharma. Here is just one example of Dr. Mosher’s writings on this. He referred to the American Psychiatric Association as the American Psychopharmacological Association – https://www.moshersoteria.com/articles/resignation-from-apa/

    Does this mean mental illnesses don’t exist? Surely this isn’t a tired rehash of iconoclasts from the 60s like Szasz, Laing, Foucault, et al? Are you saying that people aren’t suffering?

    I know the author is being facetious here, but one of the main themes that Dr. Thomas Szasz wrote about is the concept of psychiatry’s sacred symbol. This is about psychiatry’s power, not people’s level of suffering.

    The ability of psychiatry to remove people from their home, incarcerate them indefinitely, and to subject them to forced treatment is why psychiatry guards its sacred symbol.

    The author does explore this aspect by writing: To avoid this terrible fate, many psychiatrists will section a patient who says they are suicidal. In this scenario the patient is subject to a traumatic incarceration, all in the service of this bureaucratic shadow play.

    But the use of the phrase “bureaucratic shadow play” sends the message that it’s an accident of the system, rather than the purpose of the system.

    And so, in the final analysis, a solution of sorts is to keep questioning in the spirit of not-knowing — crucially, in collaboration with the patient and his family.

    Psychiatry would like nothing better than to keep this an insular conversation between the patient and his family. The solution is NOT to keep questioning, but to rise up and fight back in non-violent action with the growing numbers of people interested in psychiatric abolition. It will take a people’s movement, not sitting around talking to psychiatrists, no matter how “woke” they are.

    It may be true that the house always wins, but that only applies if you choose to cross the threshold and enter the casino.

    As far as those who “choose to cross the threshold and enter the casino,” many of us didn’t have a choice.

    I do agree that the casino is rigged. But make no mistake who and what rigged it. As Dr. Phil Hickey wrote, “Psychiatry is utterly and totally irredeemable. It simply needs to go away.”

  • I’m also having trouble processing losing another courageous MiA writer who spoke truth to power. And from what I’ve read in this article and from Julie’s own writings, it sounds like her “treatments” were what cut her life short.

    Psychiatry kills.

    I hope Julie’s beloved friend, Puzzle, has found a loving home.

    Let’s keep the faith that psychiatry can be ended before it takes any more lives.

  • sam, your comment is very insightful and speaks to how psychiatry wants to “individualize” us. If we isolate, we don’t come together in collective action.

    Psychiatry wants us to view our “illnesses” as individual defects instead of our distress arising from larger structural oppressions that we can collectively rise up against. As I’ve read Oldhead write, “Individuals don’t create movements.”

    And we need a movement to end psychiatry. So this is a tactic done purposefully by psychiatry to protect its own interests by keeping us doing a lot of, as you say, harmful navel gazing.

  • As another poster wrote, “He was firmly opposed to psychiatry and had, in addition to his day job, been involved in anti-psychiatry organizing for the past two years (which can now be revealed).”

    This part of the Tribute blog is so true and I’m sure Stephen would be proud to see this publicly displayed.

    Stephen was very kind and insightful in his views of the “mental health” system and what really causes our mental distress.

    I was fortunate to have been able to exchange correspondence with him regarding the abolition of psychiatry. He was soft-spoken in his writing, but a powerful voice of advocacy. And he’s deeply missed. But I know the abolitionist movement will grow bigger and stronger and we’ll be able to accomplish the goal of ending this very dangerous and toxic form of oppression.

    This one of Stephen’s many antipsychiatry posts and one of my favorites:

    I agree. I am anti-psychiatry, plain and simple. If someone wants to try to label me as a Scientologist then let them go ahead and try. My behavior and beliefs and the work I do all negate such stupid claims. It’s time that we quit being so damned wishy-washy and take a real stand against this false specialty of medicine. If they were true doctors then they would pay attention to the first law of medicine: “FIRST DO NO HARM!” Instead, the majority of them, for various reasons, keep right on pumping people full of the toxic drugs and stating that “people are ill for life and must take the wonderful meds forever.” And all the while the drugs are killing people, perhaps slowly, but killing people all the same. They are not doctors and psychiatry should be removed as a speciality from the field of medicine.

    Amen, Stephen. Thank you for all of your comments that spoke truth to power.

  • Since this research article is behind a paywall, I’m unable to get full access to answer my questions, such as:

    Were any of these young women told these drugs work no better than a placebo, that they make what is labeled “depression” a chronic condition, that there is no chemical imbalance?

    Were they told about the dangers of antidepressants during pregnancy, and that these drugs carry significant dangers of withdrawal should they wish to come off? Do they know about akathisia?

    Do they know if they suffer a side effect or withdrawal effect that lands them in an emergency room, they can be locked up and forced onto more drugs? That psychiatry is an adjunct to law enforcement, not a field of medicine?

    Do they know the following:

    Jonathan Cole, NIMH, 1964: “Depression is, on the whole, one of the psychiatric conditions with the best prognosis for eventual recovery with or without treatment. Most depressions are self-limited.”

    Nathan Kline, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1964: “In the treatment of depression, one always has an ally the fact that most depressions terminate in spontaneous remissions. This means that in many cases regardless of what one does the patient eventually will begin to get better.”

    Dean Schuyler, head of the depression section at the NIMH, 1974: Most depressive episodes “will run their course and terminate with virtually complete recovery without specific intervention.”

    So for the research subjects who have been on these drugs for up to 8 years, if they had been able to avoid these drugs, they might not still be scripting their life narrative around needing “medication.”

    We script the narrative of our lives based on what we think to be true. But what happens when someone’s foundational belief system is based on magical thinking?

  • Robert Whitaker wrote:

    As such, “rethinking psychiatry” is too limited of a goal. What our society needs to do is create a new narrative regarding this domain of our lives, one born—I believe—from a mix of science, philosophy, and mutual caring for each other.

    Thus, I think our mission at MIA is two-fold. One is to help usher out the false narrative, and the second is to help usher in a new one.

    This reminded me of a passage in Mr. Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic. From Chapter 13, “The Rise of an Ideology” where he writes about psychiatric survivors protesting the inhumane use of neuroleptic poisons:

    “In the early 1970s, patients who had experienced such forced treatment began forming groups with names such as the ‘Insane Liberation Front’ and the ‘Network Against Psychiatric Assault.’ At their rallies, many carried signs that read HUGS, NOT DRUGS!” (p. 267)

    This is the better narrative, both in the ideology of protest and in replacing harmful “treatment” with community support. This is the narrative to end psychiatric oppression and to teach us what we need to know to organize against other forms of oppression, as well. This is crucial as we ramp up the fight against the oppressions that are creating the ultimate threat to humanity – the climate emergency and the upcoming 6th Extinction.

    To support MiA is to support knowledge given to everyday people to fight against propaganda and the mass drugging of the population that keeps us subservient to the dominant culture and power structure.

    I thank Mr. Whitaker for not only bringing us the science of the drugs, but also the historical narrative that’s so well laid out in his books. I might not still be alive if it weren’t for Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, And The Enduring Mistreatment Of The Mentally Ill. Through these books, I learned that neuroleptic withdrawal causes dopamine sensitivity and that I wasn’t suffering from any “mental illness.” With this knowledge, I was able to successfully withdraw from the psychiatric toxins and am recovering nicely now.

    I recently obtained a copy of Mr. Whitaker’s book On the Laps of Gods: The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice That Remade a Nation. It was listed on a handout of recommended books from the Equal Justice Initiative. So it’s clear that Mr. Whitaker is a researcher who’s not only well versed in science and medicine, but also in history and social justice. I have an even greater appreciation for this site now.

    While I’d love to see MiA going in a purely anti-psychiatry direction, this site has more than given me enough material to chart my own path in the direction in which I wish to go.

    And isn’t that what knowledge and liberation is all about?

    I hope MiA is able to meet its fundraising goal and in doing so, bring life-saving information to millions more people.

  • Yes, I’m aware that Bruce Ennis passed away. I was using him as an example and an ideal. He was very aware that psychiatry was – and is – racist, misogynistic, and at that time, relying on unpaid patient labor to run the state hospitals.

    In fact, in his book Prisoners of Psychiatry: Mental Patients, Psychiatrists, and the Law, he writes, “Abolishing patient labor, or requiring hospitals to pay fair value for that labor, would shut down the hospitals in several states.”

    And he knew that “mental illness” didn’t exist and was being used to incarcerate people unjustly. In an interview with Leonard Roy Frank in the Madness Network News Reader, Bruce Ennis states, “I personally have seen no evidence at all that there is such a thing as ‘mental illness.’ I have seen people who behave in ways that seem to me most strange, that I can’t understand, and that I do not approve of. . . . but to call it ‘mental illness’ seems to me to be an inductive lead that is not justified by any evidence.”

    As far as the statistics go, according to Ennis, “Studies at Bellevue, for instance, show that if you have a lawyer at your commitment hearing, the chances are about 300% greater that you will not be committed than if you don’t have a lawyer.”

    Oldhead, I hear what you’re saying about “making deals to get you the best possible ‘treatment,'” but consider how rigged the criminal justice system is regarding how few people have any real legal counsel whatsoever (see this report from Human Rights Watch – “An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead Guilty” – https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/12/05/offer-you-cant-refuse/how-us-federal-prosecutors-force-drug-defendants-plead).

    And meanwhile, the makers of the neuroleptic drug Zyprexa – a drug that according to Dr. Peter Gøtzsche has killed 200,000 people worldwide – go free.

    These systems of incarceration – the legal system and the parallel police force known as psychiatry – are both out of control as the US Empire becomes more and more authoritarian.

    I agree 100% with you, Oldhead – we do need to educate them. There have only been a handful of attorneys who left legacies of true human rights work. But the fact that they did gives me hope that others will follow in their footsteps. That’s why I wrote about channeling resources in that direction.

    Since most of the people who write for MiA are also in the “better deal” camp – even with all of the information here that speaks to the moral justification for psychiatric abolition – it’s easy to see why the concept of civil rights falls on deaf ears in venues with less information.

    There’s clearly much work to be done.

  • The article ends with:

    It is time to seriously consider re-focusing our energy and resources away from placing peer staff in roles where they support the mental health system’s status quo, and toward the goal of making high-quality peer advocacy available to people faced with coercion by the mental health system.

    But who exactly is doing the “placing”? Doesn’t the hierarchical nature of the system prevent this from happening? I doubt that peer staff will ever be “placed” in any position where the hierarchy can’t control them.

    As Paulo Freire wrote in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift.” No one in power will ever “place” you in a position of not supporting their status quo.

    Seems like an act of futility. It’s better to spend the resources on ending the system of oppression rather than in trying to fix it from within. There may be dissidents in the system, but they are few and far between and have relatively little power.

    A good defense attorney with a solid background in civil rights is the only true advocate of someone locked in a psychiatric prison. Resources should be spent on defense attorneys so that everyone facing forced treatment has a real advocate.

  • I think it’s important to acknowledge exactly “who” it is that E. Fuller Torrey and TAC are referring to when they use the term “schizophrenia”.

    According to Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl in the book Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, “Two historical reasons explain why the diagnosis of schizophrenia captured African American men at Ionia in the 1960s. And why, soon thereafter, schizophrenia disproportionately captured African American men throughout the US. And why, as a result of that capturing, schizophrenia became violent at the same moment in time that it became black. The first reason is as follows: schizophrenia became a racialized disease in the 1960s in ways that preferentially selected black male bodies.”

    The book then traces the language of the DSM that changed, eliminating the word “reaction” from disease descriptors, so that illness was not the result of trauma, but some exogenous disease. The DSM language also changed in ways that conflated legitimate protest with violence, creating a new “disease” as a method of containing dissent.

    And now today, according to Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada, African American men are diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia” at a rate “5 to 7 times more often than white men.”

    Michelle Alexander gave us a language to describe the alarming rates of incarceration for people of color in her book The New Jim Crow, and since psychiatry is an adjunct of law enforcement, it’s clear what the motive is for Torrey and the TAC. And with Torrey’s insistence on the use of chemical toxins – even when the evidence does not warrant it – the term “tranquil prisons” comes to mind (see Erick Fabris’ Tranquil Prisons: Chemical Incarceration Under Community Treatment Orders).

    And with the death rate so high with these drugs (see: https://www.madinamerica.com/2011/11/%EF%BB%BFearly-death-associated-with-antipsychotics/), psychiatry is able to legally do something law enforcement can’t.

    Going after people of color and low-income whites is not new, but it is getting tiring. And deadly.

  • Second regarding the criticism, “When you see that someone paints an entirely negative picture of an industry or profession, and does not acknowledge a single redeeming value, it’s biased. ” It’s always been difficult for Americans to wrap their hands around the idea that any major American institution could be not simply imperfect but completely WRONG and BAD. But if you look at American history, that happens. Major examples of this include slavery, government policy toward Native Americans, and Japanese internment camps during WWII; and there are many less known instances of US institutions being totally wrong/bad (such as the CIA’s MKULTRA program). The critic is simply wrong here: There are some things that deserve being painted with an entirely negative picture.

    Dr. Levine, thank you for this very important article and for your follow up comment.

    What you’re referring to here is a major problem in medicine, as well as in politics, and it’s name is American Exceptionalism. This is from the research paper “Children in Clinical Research: A Conflict of Moral Values” (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ccfa/5a08ce5f5c353cebd441a778bc796d797a0b.pdf?_ga=2.77763348.1271103015.1569753733-160268682.1569753733):

    However, American medical research ethics were not influenced by these international codes. Medical science burgeoned in post-war America; it was infused with a spirit of adventure, optimism and confidence in the inherent goodness of the scientific endeavor. In 1998, Allen Hornblum observed in his book, Acres of Skin: “Rather than embracing the Nuremberg Code, the American medical establishment considered it a ‘good code for barbarians,’ but an unnecessary code for ordinary physician-scientists.” Then and now, many in the medical research community believed the restrictions imposed by these international codes coupled with the Hippocratic principle were too restrictive for physicians who had not committed medical atrocities.

    American physicians thus disregarded the ethical restraints in research involving human beings when they were inconvenient.

    Even though psychiatry is not a field of medicine, because psychiatrists go to medical school and speak the language fluently – including the language of American Exceptionalism – doctors in ALL fields of medicine embrace psychiatric “treatments” as legitimate and erase the brutal historical context from which it emerged. This is how American Exceptionalism works.

    Perhaps the worst crime against humanity is the belief in linear time and that we are progressing forward. This Myth of Human Progress is deeply embedded in American Exceptionalism, a myth fed to us in all the major Western religions, including the secular religion of psychiatry. As Chris Hedges writes in When Atheism Becomes Religion:

    “Those who insist we are morally advancing as a species are deluding themselves. There is little in science or history to support this idea. . . Whether it comes in secular or religious form, this belief is magical thinking. The secular version of this myth peddles fables no less fantastic, and no less delusional, than those preached from church pulpits.”

    And so this modern day Inquisition rages on . . . .

  • Rosalee, I thought of something else after I posted my last comment:

    I wonder how much psychiatry is negatively impacting the outcome studies done in cancer research?

    There’s a lot of use of psych drugs in cancer patients – according to this article, “Nearly 1 in 5 survivors taking medication for depression or anxiety years later.” (https://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20161026/high-rate-of-antidepressant-use-after-cancer#1)

    There’s no mention of dependency, withdrawal, or tardive dysphoria in that article, but we know it exists.

    It’s not only psychiatric drugs that negatively impact oncology’s research and outcomes, but also psychiatry’s narrative that you are “broken.”

    If oncologists are educated in this matter, I wonder how many of them would stop sending their patients to psychiatrists to handle side effects such as chemo-induced insomnia?

    Another way of creating dissident doctors is to make fields of medicine such as oncology aware that their own research and outcomes are being negatively impacted by psychiatry.

    Oncology has a vested interest in eliminating this contagion.

  • Yes, I found that out when during cancer treatment I became very ill and sleep deprived and sent to a psychiatrist for “help with sleep meds”. Among the many effects chemo had was nausea and ravaging my throat membranes so bad I could barely swallow water. All my hair fell out and I became very thin – from the effects of chemo – but the psychiatrist used my appearance against me to support psych labels. It was winter and I bought a head covering for cancer patients (at the cancer hospital) but the psychiatrist wrote “patient appeared with a scarf wrapped around her head” trying to make it sound like it was bizarre behaviour. She also stated I was “very thin” and it was chalked up to “anorexia”. Until it happened to me I had no idea of the blatant lies, betrayals and distortions of reality psychiatry revels in. It’s time for a present-day version of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

    Rosalee, this is shocking behavior by your psychiatrist. I’m sorry you were exposed to such toxic and reprehensible behavior.

    Psychiatry’s ability to overreact in stereotypical ways that overrule basic common sense are even more reason to take away their ability to prescribe, in addition to removing their incarceration power.

    If someone undergoing chemo needs a benzo for a few days, an oncologist can prescribe this, provided they know to message informed consent on benzo dependency and withdrawal.

    We really need psychiatry out of medicine. ALL medicine. And we need an informed public.

  • I don’t think we’re disagreeing on anything substantial here. We’re talking strategy. The issue is always does change come from the top down or the bottom up, and the answer is often “both” — though if it is ONLY from the top it’s more likely a containment strategy.

    This is a great point, Oldhead. If this does become a top-down strategy, it not only will be a form of containment, it may morph into something a lot worse, as we know from psychiatry’s involvement in eugenics and the Holocaust.

    This is not hyperbole given the rise of austerity politics and the lack of a social contract. As more and more people become homeless and are driven out of society, ideas of how to handle this are scary, as The Nation recently reported – https://www.thenation.com/article/trump-homeless-california/.

    And I want to point out that the concept that many (if not most) of the homeless are “mentally ill” is something that psychiatry has put out there for decades. But it’s a way of pathologizing homelessness instead of building affordable housing and ending other oppressions that cause people to lose their homes. Being disheveled, sleep deprived, and malnourished will make anyone appear in a way that psychiatry can place a label on.

    From this perspective, it’s clear to see why the “professionals” on the inside must work to end psychiatry, not reform it.

    It’s simply too dangerous a force to allow it to exist.

  • it has also infected the courts. The schools. The family. The media. It’s a pretty prevalent virus – might even be a retrovirus, that puts its fingers into every system it possibly can.

    JanCarol, this is very true. Thank you for pointing this out.

    In Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness, Cohen writes:

    “. . . .in 1980 the DSM-III expanded the APA’s range of mental disorders and made the diagnoses more user-friendly. It began to speak the language of neoliberalism, highlighting everyday issues in settings beyond the institution. Rather than only disability and illness, recovery and growth were now also promoted as possible.”

    People began to use the language of the DSM to commit acts of self-surveillance, labeling themselves as having “ADHD” or being “bipolar.” User-friendly labels and definitions were seen in the news, in TV programs, and in anti-stigma campaigns by pharma-funded organizations such as NAMI.

    And then in the DSM 4 and DSM 5, definitions of “ADHD” expanded from problems arising in school to those involving work, adding an adult version and placing even more people on drugs.

    The “not otherwise specific” label for “bipolar” and other supposed “illnesses” also appeared, expanding these labels even more. Not to mention the elimination of the bereavement exclusion, which means that even the very human act of grieving is now seen as “mental illness.” You must not pause your life to mourn. And this keeps pace with the lack of work and home life balance – many people no longer get any time off from work to grieve. We have psychiatric drugs to numb the pain.

    So while Ronald Pies and others have argued that the “chemical imbalance” came from the drug companies, it’s clear that the DSM was being orchestrated to devise a more compliant workforce from childhood into adulthood. And to teach us how to speak this as a universal language.

    The DSM was written by US psychiatrists and considering the bloody labor wars in this country, seeing the DSM as an extension of the control of labor makes a lot of sense, starting in the classroom with future workers and making its way into the adult world. It spread the way language spreads.

    Expanding the hegemonic discourse of psychiatry, as society became more focused on “the self” and moved away from “the collective,” there was a focus on self-improvement. This fed into the growth of other psy-professionals and the consumer-driven need to be better and work harder. Individual self-improvement became the standard for better “mental health,” meanwhile ignoring the collapse of communities.

    Psychiatry is indeed a hegemonic force that has spread to all institutions from family to school to work. It’s the language we speak.

    Perhaps one answer lies in learning a new language, one that speaks to the collective, as opposed to the individual. A language of worker co-ops, medicare for all, basic income for areas suffering from deindustrialization, ending mass incarceration.

    We need a language that simply lets us breathe.

  • Oldhead, I don’t think you understand my post if you believe we shouldn’t figure out how “professionals” operate. One of the key concepts of what I wrote concerns “professionals” becoming “dissidents.” That’s an insider’s role and one that needs to be closely monitored to ensure that these “professionals” don’t reassert their role as oppressors.

    As Paulo Freire wrote in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “…the fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other… Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle.”

    Freire goes onto explain that when oppressors do side with the oppressed, they bring their old prejudices with them. For psychiatry, this prejudice includes the false narrative that “patients” have no insight into their own lives.

    Navigating this terrain means a fundamental understanding not only of how these “professionals” operate in their role as oppressor, but how they may operate as dissidents for those who decide to become de-prescribers. There are times when their old prejudices emerge. We see this with de-prescribers who don’t allow their “patients” to set the pace for their tapers.

    And at the extreme end, we see de-prescribers in rehabs who cruelly remove “patients” with fast tapers, likely justifying their cruelty on out-dated modes of morality concerning “good drugs” and “bad drugs” (translation: “good people” and “bad people”).

    Even though these are prescription drugs, this prejudice continues. For drugs such as benzodiazepines, the drug is considered a “good drug” when it’s first prescribed but then is moved to the “bad drug” category once dependence sets in and the “patient” wishes to come off or is forced off, as is becoming more and more common.

    Keep in mind Thomas Szasz’s view of the Sacred Symbol and the use of psychiatry’s “othering” of certain groups of people. I would argue Szasz should not have limited this concept to “schizophrenia.” It plays out everyday in rehabs.

    These “professionals” in rehabs are not real dissidents. They are oppressors playing a role that overall society sees as acting in the so-called “greater good.” Knowing who is and who isn’t an oppressor is a reason we should understand how they operate so we can identify and expose false prophets, so to speak.

    For people who are tapering off psychiatric drugs, prescribers ARE needed. Because these are prescription drugs, there’s no way around that. Of course, they don’t need to be psychiatrists, and if you read the online withdrawal forums, it’s clear many people find GPs to be more open to the concept of de-prescribing then psychiatrists – GPs haven’t been as indoctrinated into the system as secular Inquisitors, to use Szasz’s term.

    Considering that most psychiatric drugs are prescribed by doctors who are not psychiatrists, it’s important to understand ALL the players in the system.

    Continuing with Freire, he wrote, “It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors.” I think this speaks to the heart of leading “professionals” from oppressor to dissident, but to disengage and say we don’t need to understand them, I think, does a profound disservice to those still trapped on psychiatric drugs. As I wrote in my earlier post, that’s over 100 million people globally.

    There’s an insightful line in Milton Mayer’s Holocaust studies book They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933 – 1945: “A man can carry only so much responsibility. If he tries to carry more, he collapses; so, to save himself from collapse, he rejects the responsibility that exceeds his capacity.”

    It’s important to realize that the 100 million people on these drugs – many of whom will at some point suffer from adverse reactions, interactions with other drugs, cognitive decline, tardive and legacy symptoms, development of drug-induced diabetes, etc. – are too much for the system to handle.

    Collapse is coming and many “professionals” have long since rejected the responsibility, as Mayer put it, that exceeds their capacity.

    But other “professionals” have become dissidents. And these dissident researchers are already using the peer-led online withdrawal forums as guides to their research on de-prescribing. In that respect, they have shattered the concept that “patients” have no insight.

    Psychiatry is like a virus, and it’s spread into the entire medical system. Since this article is about “systems change,” it’s important to understand the system and all of the tangential forces that surround it.

    There are those who say psychiatry is necessary and needs to be reformed. But in order to save our healthcare system, I say psychiatry needs to be abolished. Not only did it infect the healthcare system with its drugs, it also infected the healthcare system with the ideology of “othering”.

    So we need to understand how interconnected psychiatry is to legitimate healthcare to make the best use of the dissidents as possible for the sake of the millions and millions of people trapped on these drugs.

    That isn’t to place “professionals” onto the stage with a microphone. In the words of Freire, it’s the oppressed who free the oppressors.

    And hopefully, save the healthcare system before its collapse ushers in the 6th Extinction faster than climate change or nuclear holocaust. We are a species spiraling out of control on many levels.

    Cleary, “systems change” is in order.

  • The article states:

    “We have close to 100 people signed up for the course, and we are encouraged by that. But when Bob Nikkel, the director of MIA Continuing Education, conceived of this course, we had set our sights on “reaching beyond the choir” and getting larger provider organizations to promote the course to their members. We were dreaming of an audience of 500 or more. I suppose that we had let our optimism get ahead of our grip on reality, but this occurred because it seemed that there is now a growing societal understanding that our current mental health system, from a public health perspective, has failed.”

    I’m a psychiatric survivor who is taking this course (and I’ve taken a number of other Mad in America courses). I’ve also been active in the online withdrawal forums over the years, which have no problem getting new members by the hundreds of thousands every year (source – https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/addiction/online-communities-drug-withdrawal-what-can-we-learn).

    As Judi Chamblerin wrote, it doesn’t take professionals to solve this problem. And at this point, I’m not sure I’d trust a lot of professionals. As Dr. Stuart Shipko wrote in a blog on MiA, doctors themselves are “living lives of quiet desperation” (https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/03/organized-denial-psychiatrys-quiet-desperation/).

    In fact, the suicide rate of doctors is at an epidemic level with doctors killing themselves at a rate of more than twice that of the general population (source – https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20180508/doctors-suicide-rate-highest-of-any-profession#1).

    If MiA truly wants to message “systems thinking,” it needs to message the fact that the professionals are also drowning in this toxic system. Perhaps that will draw a larger interest, just as the peer-led online withdrawal forums do for those of us labeled as “patients”. When it’s your own life at stake, you tend to pay attention more.

    I see less of psychiatry being “reformed” and more of a collection of individual psychiatrists (and the other psy-professions) becoming dissidents of their profession in order to save their own lives and those they care about. We already see this playing out in the #deprescribing movement.

    Keep in mind that this is still different than “reforming” psychiatry, since I’m not sure how you reform social control to be anything but another form of social control. Reform movements also risk expanding power by keeping the top of the hierarchy in charge. As Charles Derber, Reinhold Niebuhr, Chris Hedges, and many others have written, systems of power become more sociopathic and dangerous at the top. They create sociopathic systems, which is what psychiatry – as a system – is. Expanding power is a danger in any reform movement and why abolitionist language and abolitionist mindsets need to be in play. Dissidents speak in this language and respond in this mindset.

    If this becomes less of a reform and more of a defection out of the dominant system by dissident professionals, it could be quite successful if the hierarchy of power is dismantled. However, this means that the professionals will be on the same level playing field as psychiatric survivors. I’m not sure how this would play out, since egos tend to overrule reason.

    But let’s take this a bit further, since this is about creating “systems change.” We live in what economic philosopher Sheldon Wolin termed an Inverted Totalitarianism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_totalitarianism). This corporate dictatorship has led to economic inequality, mass incarceration, police brutality, nonstop wars, a lack of affordable housing, a gig economy, food deserts, collapsing infrastructure, etc. all comprising what psychiatry has mis-labeled “mental illness” and responded to by drugging over 100 million people globally (source – Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness).

    This is a house of cards. The question then is less about reform and more about survival.

    My hope lies not in reforming psychiatry in the traditional sense, but rather in those psychiatrists and other psy-professionals who fight back against psychiatry by becoming dissidents. This means helping people off these toxic drugs and protesting not only psychiatric crimes against humanity, but also the systems that cause people to end up in the “mental health” system in the first place. We also need professionals who are not drugged themselves (Dr. Peter Breggin writes and speaks about an epidemic of physicians taking psych drugs in his blog).

    It’s the fight against oppression that takes away that feeling of despair and powerlessness that’s so often referred to as “mental illness.” It’s killing us. It’s killing ALL of us, including doctors.