Monday, December 5, 2022

Comments by Vortex

Showing 53 of 53 comments.

  • This article mentioned “lack of privacy”. So, I want to provide you with examples of parents who (sometimes together with teachers) intentionally try to deprive their kids of virtually any privacy whatsoever:

    I hope people here do not approve such… eh… “parenting methods”. Don’t you?

  • In Russia, the “chemical imbalance” claim is not yet relegated to the realm of mythology, but is still promoted as the great triumph of medical science by mainstream psychiatrists.

    I suspect this is because the criticism of psychiatry is totally marginal and thus almost publicly invisible in Russia. In my country, psychiatrists’ nonsensical claims almost always remain unchallenged, and that’s why they can persist even in the mistakes that have already been rejected (and now shamefully denied) by their Western colleagues.

  • Meanwhile, biological psychiatry is growing desperate. Or so it seems.

    Russian biological psychiatrists are now trying to identify the specific body smell of the people “diagnosed” (read: labelled) with “schizophrenia” (read: anything that some psychiatrist decides as worth labelling, from altered state of consciousness to social deviance to political radicalism to intellectual heterodoxy to actual encounter with something paranormal). And this is not a joke… well, apparently (when I first saw the article, however, my first thought was something like: “Oh, some April 1st texts are getting published really late nowadays”).

    The article is in Russian… yet, I think, it is possible to use Google Translate (or some similar program) to get more-or-less adequate English translation:

    Well, seeing that psychiatrists featured in the article insist that chemical (particularly dopamine and serotonin) imbalance is “known for a long time” for “playing an important role in the mental illness formation”, one can quickly understand what to expect from their statements (and how dubious – at best – the validity of such statements is). Especially that it is simultaneously acknowledged in the article that no identifiable biological difference between the supposedly “normal” persons and labelled “schizophrenics” was ever found. How these two mutually exclusive statements can be held together, logically, is for anyone to guess. Yet I have always noted that the logic is not the strong side of the social organisations based on violent, oppressive power – coercive (read: violent) psychiatry included.

  • Robert, beyond the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs, what do you think about sociocultural factors that increase distress and suicide in young people – such as zealous overprotection of children and adolescents? For example, look at this interesting article:

    I ask anyone reading this the same question – what do you think about the overprotection of youth as the negative mental health factor?

  • “The doctor happened to come from Russia, and as the two of them talked I could vaguely make out that they were talking about some sort of conspiracy theory that involved Russia, and the two of them batted it back and forth, clearly enjoying themselves and making casual references to all sorts of other conspiracy theories that I knew nothing about, and they apparently understood each other perfectly.”

    Hmmm… Isn’t believing in “conspiracy theories” involving Russia is a supposed sign of a “mental HEALTH” in the West nowadays? At least, among the Western establishment such theories are now presented as a self-evident common knowledge, with anyone doubting them being either an undercover Russian agent or a “delusional conspiracy theorist”, since the “delusional conspiracy theorists” and undercover Russian agents are the only ones who may even think about questioning the motives and actions of a unquestionably benevolent and trustworthy Western establishment.

    P.S. I’m from Russia. 🙂

  • Fully agree here, Steve. And, in fact, reading such praise to a “mainstream consensus” from a Web portal that is based on a fringe, anti-consesnus approach to psychiatry is quite funny.

    People, you do understand that, socially and culturally speaking, you’re non-mainstream, are you? If you do, you should be cautious in your appeals to “consensus”, since the very same appeals can be easily used by mainstream psychiatrisits and their supporters against you.

  • There is an easy way for the state agents interested in torturing their captives to invite psychiatrists back, and in an open way: they should rebrand their torture practices as “deradicalisation programs”, or “deprogramming sessions”, or “extremist group exit therapies”, or something else like that, and claim that these practices are for the good for the people being tortured. Under such conditions, psychiatrists would still be allowed by the WPA to participate, and the cruel business-as-usual with proceed unabated.

    To be short: you want to practice torture in a modern humanistic society? Rename it “therapy” and claim it is for the good of its victims!

  • Concerning NDEs that have already been mentioned, you knowledge about them seems to be very limited and largely misguided – for example, they cannot be induced by drugs; partially NDE-like experiences sometimes can, but they are a far cry from an actual deep NDE.

    If you want to learn more about this topic, the best recommendation is not the old (and relatively superficial) Moody’s book, but much more recent, detailed and scientific (in the strictest sense of the word) Pim van Lommel’s “Consciousness Beyond Life”, which is still one of the very best works written about NDEs:

    Jeffery Long’s and Paul Perry’s “Evidence of the Afterlife” is also recommended:

    But my specific recommendation is one of the newest books on the subject, which examines in detail the evidence for one of the most important arguments for survival of consciousness beyond brain and body – verifiable extra-sensory perceptions by the clinical-death-undergoing experiencers (as well as other verifiable phenomena accompanying clinical death and the NDEs initiated by it). This is “The Self Does Not Die” by Titus Rivas, Rudolf Smit and Anny Dirven:

    If you (or anyone else here) wants to learn more about this book, I recommend to read the interview with Rivas and Smit (Dirven has recently deceased, unfortunately…), with myself being an interviewer. It is published on a parapsychological forum “Psience Quest” (in the form of 5 forum posts, since it was quite lengthy):

    Whether you agree with it or not (you almost certainly will not… yet others may agree!), I think that work of Rivas, Smith and Dirven deserves to be learned about. Especially given that Titus Rivas is supporter of the critical psychiatry / anti-psychiatry cause as well – he supports voice-hearing people (not being one himself), participates in their communities and wrote a book in their defence:

    And, most importantly – I do support your position that each and every person possesses an intrinsic freedom (and should be granted an inalienable and fundamental right in the current legal framework) to end their own life voluntarily, without interference or persecution from anyone, especially from coercive psychiatry.

  • “We all know that there is no mind without a brain.”

    A highly questionable statement derived from philosophical materialism, which is contradicted by a lot empirical evidence and its own logical incoherence.

    Happily, the influx of non-materialist research in the mainstream is slowly but steadily growing:

    And just note that the authors are concentrating only on a small section of anomalous consciousness phenomena – ones that are strongly suggesting existence of mind outside of brain and body. They didn’t even count the research into not-afterlife-suggesting psychic phenomena.

    Nowadays, the social prestige and power are the only factors that provide materialist worldview its leading position. If one dares to look beyond “respectable” circles, one will soon found that the state of evidence and argumentation contradicting “mind as a (product of) brain” theory is already sufficient to refute it.

    P.S. Waiting for Seth Farber to come in. Seth, are you here? Your heretical perspective is needed!

  • Well, orthodox psychiatry does not have a viable explanation for your experiences, Eric, but parapsychology and transpersonal psychology may have something valid to say. For example, that there is loads of actual veridical experimental evidence supporting the existence of the nonphysical (components of) mind.

    So if you want to learn more about the veridical part of anomalous mind-related phenomena, you may like to visit the parapsychological forum “Psience Quest”:

    There is a subsection there specifically dedicated to personal psychic and spiritual experiences. If you want to share your experiences with people who will be friendly and accepting, go there:

    Whether you choose to pay a visit or not, I wish you luck in your resistance against pathologisation of you and your lived experience by orthodox psychiatry!

  • Six quick questions for everyone debating here.

    1) Is alchogol an addictive psychoactive drug?

    2) Is alchogol a “gateway” drug?

    3) Can alchogol lead to mental, social and physical problems for its users?

    4) Are potential negative consequences of alchogol usage worse that the ones of cannabis?

    5) Why alchogol is universally legal and legality of cannabis is still something to struggle for?

    6) Why are alchogol often treated and regulated separately from other mind-altering substances (which are often indiscriminately condemned)?

    I encourage everyone to think about these questions, and answer them!

  • The so-called “skeptical movement” is a bunch of militant defenders of mainsteam dogma who will dismiss and attack ANYTHING that deviates from the mainstream, including antipsychiatry / critical psychiatry. You’re on their “hit list” (or “ridicule list”, to be more precise) already, whether you want it or not: if you haven’t noticed it yet, your views are as unacceptable within the mainstream discourse as the ones of Dr. Bauer. For “skeptics”, as well as “respectable” society in general, you’re effectively “anti-science crackpot psychiatry denialist”. This negative characterisation may be used for everyone else here as well, INCLUDING ME. We’re all “fringe types” here – we have to understand it.

    So, to reject Dr. Bauer’s views because of their current “fringe” status would be hypocritical. Everyone can and should form his or her opinion on his positions by inquring into them rationally, not by reacting to them emotionally. I invite everyone to think by themselves, not only about psychiarty, but about all issues, including all branches of science and medicine.

  • Welcome to Mad in America, Dr. Bauer, and thanks for an intersting article.

    While I generally agree with what you wrote, there is an important thing to remember: unlike other branches of medicine, psychiatry is entitled with a right to use violence to make people follow its demands. In non-psychiatric medicine, you can learn the different positions concerning a therapy and make a choice. In psychiatry, you are deprived of choice from the start.

    And, unlike the misguided therapists from other branches of medicine, psychiartists won’t just harm you. They can literally devastate you mentality and personhood. In fact, oftentimes it is, effectively, a goal of their actions, even if psychiartists themselves might quite sincerely believe that that they are helping.

    And don’t forget that while the actual dominant social power-structures and cultural prejudices are negatively affecting any scientific and medical field and process – natural sciences and non-psychiatric biomedicine are very often severy twisted and badly damaged by conflict of interests and enforcement of ideals, as you know well yourself – they still affect human-related areas of study, and practices based on them, even stronger. So, in psychiatry, virtually any mental activity that upset the dominant social forces and cultural mores are extremely likely to be medicalised, pathologised and repressed under guise of “treatment”.

  • Matt, Richard, I think that you are just plain factually wrong in your insistence (with the different degree of certitude) that spirituality is nothing but a delusion. If you, like me, knew about a mass of highly controversial and not yet officially accepted – yet entirely methodologically valid and highly rigourous – scientific research, you might change your minds about the topic.

    I’m speaking about academic parapsychology, transpersonal psychology and near-death studies – disciplines with a paradoxial status, since they are both practiced by many eminent scientists, and even have registered research groups and laboratories in some universities, and yet simultaneously shunned by academic community. The reason for shunning is, however, is more philosophical than scientific – parapsychological research are sometimes better done than most “conventional” psychology studies.

    And it demonstrates, quite clearly, that there is a “non-local” – disembodied – component in human psyche; more, this component have a tendency to empowerment during altered states of consciousness, like the ones achieved via spiritual practice (like meditation) or taking psychedelics. This distant part of the mind is objectively real; effects of its activity can be reliably experimentally measured.

    If you want to learn more, you may look at Dean Radin’s selection of scientific publication supporting the existence of psychic phenomena (and there are MUCH more papers with psi-demonstrating results, of course):

    And if you want some quick general info about the psi research, Psi Encyclopedia established by the Society of Psychical Research is probably the best way to start:

    Another important place to visit is the Prapsychological Association, an international organisation that is an affiliated organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and has been so for decades:

    And, if you want an example of a psychic research group functioning on a basis of a respectable academic organisation, here is the Division of Perceptual Studies based on a University of Virginia School of Medicine:

    Please do look in the information I provided. It have a possibility of changing one’s understanding of the world quite radically!

  • You say: “Maybe it IS time for physical action but that will also be seen as the actions of the sick and unlike other protests, ALL the protesters will be locked up. That’s why, Vortex, there is no violent action and probably never will be.”

    I never said that psychiatric patients should fight back alone. They should, via the antipsychiatry movement, ally themselves with other liberatory movements, organisations and communities – including anarchist ones, that, being ready to face the authorities in a combat, may (help to) form self-defense groups for the psychiatric patients, and actively participate in them, demonstating that not only people who are labelled “mentally ill” can forcibly resist the legal offensive violence of psychiatrists.

    What I wanted to achieve here, by this initial comment of mine, is to show the dead end in which antipsychiatric movement is stuck for now – and propose an alternative which may be especially useful in the light of the general social unrest and upheaval that appear to be coming because of the recent “fall of the establishment”. When society becomes highly volatile and turbulent, it is the time for the liberatory movements like our to rise up and strike at the opressive authorities, psychiatric ones included.

  • Julie, below you mention the stuggle of the blacks for their freedom from the legal segregation and discrimination. This struggle was far from being peaceful: beside the relatively pacifist types like MLK (I call his pacifism “relative” because he, in fact, preferrred to have armed bodyguards nearby him), there were many combative, militant people and groups, such as Malcolm X, Black Liberation Army, Black Panthers and so on. The role of their armed struggle cannot and should not be underestimated – it is the horror of the massive violent uprising that made authorities to give up and accept demands of peaceful wing of Black Liberation movement (represented by people like MLK).

    No matter how unpleasant it would be for some to hear, it is a hard historical fact: never, not for a single time in history, liberation was achieved by peaceful methods only; the liberatory efforts always included violent resistance – a defensive violence that is necessary to counteract the offensive violence of the opressors. Without it, the words of the peaceful protesters would continue to be ignored by the authorities. Powerful ones can only notice others, and talk to them seriously, when faced with a threat of active forceful resistance, not just a passive symbolic protest.

    Of course, pure violence not accompanied by peaceful methods is as ineffective as a total pacifism. Only a diversity of tactis – a combination of peaceful protest and militant resistance – can be fruitful.

  • FeelinDiscouraged, I, being an anarchist, has visited countless anarchist sites that openly advocated armed struggle against the state and violent overthrow of the goverment. Many of these sites practiced such advocacy for many, many, many years, and yet neither their owners nor the authors of pro-militancy texts were persecuted by authorities.

    One should understand that state and goverment, despite its apparent power, is, in fact, ridiculously weak. Its laws are just empty proclamations, still having any effect only because a notable part of the population is still blindly “law-abiding” and thus allows itself to be exploited by the power elite. The day it will dawn on them that the “law” is just an expression of the powerful ones’ interests falsely presented as a “universal norm”, that they have been cynically used by their rulers, they will give up on “respectable citizenship” and rise up against the authorities en masse. It will be the last day of the goverment.

  • It is wonderful to learn that our position is represented, once again, on the highest international level.

    The second step should be international law amendments completely banning “compulsory treatment” (read: Inquisition-styled torture), with a pressure on all national goverments to ratify them – a kind of “revolution from above”. Without it, a “revolution from below” – a mass rebellion against the psychiatric authority – is inevitable, sooner or later.

  • What still surprises me about anti-psychiatry movement is its absolute, total, unwavering pacifism and legalism. Had anyone ever thought about forceful and combative – and illegal – resistance to atrocious legal violence of psychiatrists? Say, about creating armed groups that will prevent taking people into mental asylums against their will, or attack these asylums and release imprisoned people? Since, as for now, all anti-psychiatrists do is a combination of symbolic protest, alternative education and creation of communities parrallel to the system. These are good deeds, no doubt, but they do not change the fact that countless people are tortured, RIGHT NOW, and all their alleged advocates and protectors can do is to beg the system to change itself (a very unlikely perspective in a foreseeable future).

    Not a single thought like that? Ever? Yet, you know, with all the fast change of society we are facing – the fall of current establishment and so on – we can soon face a genuine revolutionary situation. Would we use it or miss it? This is the question.

  • 1) Well, Sera, some bad news for you: “alternative facts” is what we here, on MIA, claim and support. The facts presented here are “alternative” in being explicitly non-mainstream – and, often, anti-mainstream, while coercive biomedical psychiatry is mainstream through-and-through – and, therefore, have an institutionally supported monopoly on “mainline facts”. They are “respectable”; we are “fringe”. So, lambasting “alternative facts” here, on alternatives-related MIA, is both logically self-contradictory and ethically hypocritical.


    2) Please stop your devoted promotion of “social justice warrior-ism” (SJW-ism) – its claims are usually in direct opposition to actual observable reality. For example, contrary to your claims, most “bad guys” in American movies are cis-genderd heterosexual white males.

    But complete separation from empirical data is what SJW-ism is all about. The groups – or, more correctly, categories – of people SJWs claims to defend (women, LGBT, people of colour etc.) no longer require defense. They have struggled – sometimes literally, physically fought – against oppression to which they were once subjected for decades, and they have won. Nowadays, structural – that is, institutionalised and practiced in systemic manner – racism, misogyny and homophobia are over. They no longer exist on a social large-scale. There are still – and always will be – individual, separate cases and incidences of racism, misogyny and homophobia, enacted by persons and small-scale informal communities; but they are not systemic, not supported by institutions of power. Women, LGBT and people of colour are equals to cis-genderd heterosexual white males, both legally and effectively. In fact, sometimes, in some ways they are even more privileged – cis-genderd heterosexual white males don’t have access to “affirmative actions”, specialised supportive organisations etc. Their sexuality is being demonised by furious, uncritical and baseless “rape culture”, “child sexual abuse” etc. propaganda campaigns, that may be called “misandric” – that is, man-hating. They are considered to be principal oppressors, while many power elite types are definitely neither while nor male; and many dismissed, attacked, marginalised types – such “white working class” which is so hated by SJWs – are both white and male (as well as heterosexual and cis-gendered).

    So, please, give up your absurd “identity politics” – it only spreads mutual hostility and division in the movement against institutional psychiatric violence. We’re all in the same boat here – so let’s turn our attention from gender-and-race issues (which are mostly irrelevant in 2010s) and on the painfully relevant issues of state-supported, corporate-paid psychiatric power, since even today no one is safe from being labeled “mentally ill” and subjected to legally allowed torture. Further spread of “alternative facts” exposing counterfactual, irrational and unethical nature of institutional psychiatry is desperately needed!

  • For “Givemeyourking” and “Liberalminority”:

    The biggest problem with both eugenics and coercive psychiatry is that they are ALWAYS determined to supress the persons who are deemed “undesirable” by the particular ruling groups in a specific situation. And it can’t be any other way, since there are no objective “criminality”, “madness” or “perversion” – there are just mental traits, worldviews, activities etc. that are negatively evaluated by the “respectable” core of modern society, which seek to marginalise (at best) or eliminate (at worst) the people who manifest them.

    Yet ANY “judgement” of what is acceptable and what is not is subjective; it is simply a decision of the individuals, communities and organisations who possess power in a specific socities. They are not objective criteria – to say so is to confuse values with phenomena.

    And, ultimately, it is “criminals”, “madmen” and “perverts” who change society via acts of rebellion and mutiny, ones who bring innovation in the world. As an anarchist, I openly sympathise with them – and sense no sympathy for the opressors, such as coercive psychiatrists.

  • I was interested by these words of David Allen (the author of the article you linked):

    “In this post I will not be talking about gross findings that affect the entire brain, like the shrinkage (cerebral atrophy) seen in advanced Alzheimer’s and in *some cases of severe advanced schizophrenia* (and yes, contrary to what the anti-psychiatry folks say, that was found in 30 studies of patients with schizophrenia who had never taken antipsychotic medications). Those findings are clearly indicative of disease.”

    Any replies or rebuttals?

  • Dr. Hickey, may I ask you a question?

    You wrote:

    “And it is more highly developed because he had a greater need to screen out the conventional world. We are all driven inexorably to find joy. And if we can’t find it in mainstream thoughts and activities, we look for it somewhere else.”

    Do you think that any “conventional” or “mainstream” opinion is always true and valid? And alternative explanatory frameworks are always false and invalid? I suppose you do not, since you definitely understand that “consensus” views have a tendency to change over time – change because challenged by (non-delusional) non-conformists?

    And you surely understand that your own position, expressed in this blog, are definitely not a “mainstream” one – in fact, in may be described as a “fringe” one, which does not make it automatically wrong or delusional! Unfortunately, it is an orthodox biological psychiatry which is now dominant and in a position to define what is “conventional”…

  • “Fighting radicalcalization”?! Probably the most dangerous slogan the Thought Police has ever produced, since *any* dissident or contrarian thought can be labeled “radical”. And, knowing the reckless enthusiasm of the Thought Policemen, all such thoughts are very likely to be labelled “radical”, sooner or later.

    Mad in America, for example, is definitely “radical” through and through! So many subversiveness, heresy and rebellion here – just read the articles, the comments. The smell of radical libertarianism and anti-authoritarianism fills the air here… Such nest of anti-social thought needs to be reported to authorities, quickly!!!

    Well, it won’t be reported by me, since I might be called a “radical libertarian” myself… 😉

  • “Denial can’t really work, because the truth inevitably begins to creep in.”

    Oh, really?! Well, there seem to be many pro-coercion, anti-spiritual, pro-life-long-drugging, anti-dialogue psychiatrists out there. Their views are contra-factual, illogical and outright cruel, yet most of them appear to be free of openness, doubt and remorse, despite being shown both valid criticisms and workable alternatives. Most of them feel no hesitation to proceed on their faulty way. I wonder what depth of constant and persistent denial it requires. One should literally shield oneself from the world around, remaining encapsulated in the cocoon of self-righteousness and loyalty to the ideological construct which is effectively refuted.

    I can only hope that the few psychiatrists who is capable of critical attitude towards the foundation of their own profession can initiate its rebirth. Unlike so many of their colleagues (or former colleagues, in case of rebels who left the system, like Loren Mosher long ago), they are among the people whom I sincerely respect.

  • Dr. Steingard, thank you for an intersting and thoughtful article.

    In your articles, you repeatedly bring to discussion the topic of people whose behaviour is “anti-social”, yet they refuse ANY known model of treatment.

    I want to ask you one important thing, however. So, my question is: does such description fit devoted rebels, dissidents, non-conformists etc.? These are people who are usually described (and treated) as “asocial” and/or “antisocial” not only by authorities, but also by the “silent majority” compliant to authoritarian dominance. Should their protest and resistance be labeled as “delusional” (which, by the way, happens quite often)?

    As I have said here already, I’m neither “antipsychiatrist” nor even “anti-drug”. I’m, first and foremost, “anti-coercion”.

    Well, in today’s quite coercive society, we can, at the very least, make coercion flexible. I mean that people accused of deeds which are considered “criminal” should be given a choice between trial and treatment. It will let them to decide whether they consider themselves right and want to persist in their conflict with the current societal order, or they evaluate their mental state as problematic and distressful, regret the behavior which they manifest because of this undesirable state, and want a professional help. In such a case, they should be presented with a full spectrum of possible theraupetic options – biomedical, psychosocial, spiritual – with full information of their pros and cons, and make an informed choice. And they should have the right to stop the treatment if they find it unsuitable for them, and face a judicial trial.

    Such choice would be better both for principal contrarians who are adamant in thier uprising against the state of affairs which they percieve as unjust, and for genuinely disturbed people who have a conflict with society because of their undesirable psyche which they want to change – but do not have enough inner power to do it, and need a help of more knowledable and experienced person.

  • Sorry, Dr. Lawhern, but you are factually wrong.

    Spirituality is not based simply on faith or personal experience. For more than 130 years, since the founding of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882, disembodied, non-local ascepts of consciousness were studied with scientific rigor. And, after 133 years of inqury, we can say that spirituality, and probably even afterlife, is not an illusion.

    You may be inerested to look at this:

  • There is no contradiction between biological and spiritual development. Why it is beyond doubt (strictly scientific, even if non-conventional, research demostrates it) that we do possess non-local, disembodied core of consciousness which survives bodily death, it is also beyond any doubt that here and now, during our local and embodied lives, we are somatic, biophysical entities, and our psyches are strongly influenced by our organisms, including our heredity and sexuality.

    People who are genuinely spiritual, yet also scientifically and philosophically literate, do not feel any conflict between development of our spirits, our minds and our bodies. Such development should be integral and synthetic – or it will miserably fail. That’s why Breggin’s book is endorsed by parapsychologist and humanistic psychologist, notable member of the Parapsychological Association Stanely Krippner, as well as by transpersonal and humanistic psychologist, one of the leading members of the Esalen Institute Michael Cornwall.

    As for shame and guilt, sometimes they may be the warning signs of one’s true conscience; but most times (the vast and overwhelming majority of times, really) they are nothing but distrurbing, irrevelant and unnecessary manifestations of conditioned societal morality – which is artificial and arbitrary, and ultimately illusive.

    Another person who effectively combined deep sprituality with sharp philosophical reasoning and vast scientific and scholarly erudition – Robert Anton Wilson – had described morality as fully and cynically as possible:


    I regard “ideology” and “morality” as the two most dangerous forces on this planet. About “ideology” I have expressed my suspicions elsewhere; here I will only mention John Adams’s verdict that shortening “ideology” to “idiocy” would save some space and add a great deal to clarity. He had the French Revolution in mind, but “ideologists” haven’t changed much since then, have they?

    As for “morality” — or “moralic acid” as Nietzsche called it — I consider it the major cause of almost all the major atrocities not caused by “ideology.” This wonderful invention, “morality,” allows people — normal, ordinary people — to do things so cruel and violent that they could never bring themselves to do them for selfish reasons. What the sociopath and sadist do for fun, the “moralist” does on behalf of “duty” or “justice.”

    “Morality,” today, allows Moslems to stone women to death, as it once fueled the Christian witch-hunts. “Morality” has excused every war, and glorified some of them. “Morality” constantly plots to subvert the Constitutional guarantee of free speech. “Morality” inspires gay-bashing and the bombing of women’s clinics. Why, without “morality” we might all suddenly go stark staring sane.

    My vision of Utopia would include a hell of a lot more kindness and mercy than we have now, and a hell of a lot less “morality.’

    One can hardly state it better.

  • Bravo, Dr. Datta. You appear to understand the fundamental flaw with the “medical” model – or, to call it precisely, *treatment* model.

    This flaw is the artificial opposition of two no-less-artificial sociocultural costructs – “health” and “illness”. And I mean not only “mental health” and “mental illness”, but “physical health” and “physical illness” as well.

    In fact, what we have, in the cases of both “physical” and “mental” illness, is concrete experience and empirical data we derive from it. The classification, interpretation and evaluation of this data is just a model. A myth. A metaphor. In a social context, it become a map to help our orientation at the existential-phenomenal territory. But map is not a territory, and no data is as itself and in itself a sign of “illness”. “Illness” is just a lingual-conceptual label we attach to some experienses which are perceived as distressful by us and/or undesirable by society – experiences we can eliminate by “treatment”.

    The problem is, the social authorities and dominant culture is the common source of “undesirability” labels, which gave them the power to devaluate and neutralize anything deviant by labelling it “illness”. Such tactics is indefensible, since no one can know what is desirable or not, what need to be “treated” and what does not.

    It is the person who should decide whether the experience is desirable or not. And, if (s)he would want to remove it from his/her existence, it would be not a “treatment”, but just a change, a moidification – which is neither good nor bad, but just producing difference.

  • “In antiquity, the shamanic model was only believed in by the lower classes and because it is obsolete today, it does not interest us here.”

    What?!?! Sorry, but “shamanic” model is not only “obsolete”, but actually is in the process of rebirth – due to successes of academic parapsychology, transpersonal psychology and near-death studies. Whether one like it or not, there is a lot of hardcore scientific evidence pointing to something that can be called “non-local consciousness” – e.g., consciousness which transcend brain and body (as well as space and time, and “physical reality” in general).

    Yes, such statements may seem outrageous for some, but this is just the fact. If you want to look at the topic in more detail, you can start here:

  • The problem is, ANY non-traditional religious, spiritual or philosophical organization can be characterised as “cult” by its opponents, especially if these opponents are either anti-theists or traditional religionists. I myself live in Russia, and the dominant religious force here – Russian Orthodox Church – denounce ALL non-traditional spiritual (or, at least, spirituality-related) organizations as “cults”, even if they show no signs of “cultishness” at all.

    The same is true for the USA and Christian fundamentalists. These people would easily describe Esalen Institute as a “cult”, while – I hope anyone here would agree – it is definitely NOT one! And I like to see Esalen speakers, such as Michael Cornwall, here on MIA.

    So, I prefer not to use the word “cult” at all. It is nothing but a pejorative label with little (or no) substance behind it.

    However, despite all I said above, I approve Robert Whitaker’s decision not to let Scientology-related people on MIA. Call me cynical or overly pragmatic, but we simply cannot afford it. Critics of psychiatry worked long and hard to show people that they are NOT Scientologists; this was the only path to have at least some respectability, and to be heard by the general society. The movement founders, like Szasz and Breggin, made a terrible mistake when they started playing with Scientologists – it gave coercive psychiatrists a powerful rhetoric weapon against them. That’s why Breggin had to work all his life to clean his name from the associations with Scientology.

    So, while I feel no special antipathy towards Scientology, I would vote against letting it on MIA. It would be a fatal mistake, which will simply erase all the progress we have made so far.

    After all, the voices of pro-spirituality people, including academicians and practitioners of spirituality-based mental health theory and practice, such as transpersonal psychology, are fully allowed and encouraged on MIA – the situation which I like. For now, it would better to remain this way. We have a lot of material from the people from non-traditional spiritual paths and organizations already, and we are going to have more.

  • My criticism of Szasz goes much deeper his politics, which are not my main concern (BTW, leftism and libertarianism are not mutually exclusive – there is libertarian socialism as well as libertarian capitalism; I myself may describe myself as “left-libertarian”).

    The aim of my critique is his radically dualistic mind-body model, which I find to be experimentally refuted by consciousness research – from parapsychology to transpersonal psychology to near-death studies. In fact, mind and matter seems to be one and the same thing (or, at the very least, in constant and intense interaction).

    Well, I can wait for the furious dismissal of what I said – most people are not informed of such type of research, and dismiss it as “nonsense” – without a single attempt to look at the evidence before reacting. I can recommend you to start your examination here:

    Please look at these papers before dismissing them! And this is just the tip of the iceberg – there are about 150 years of research of such phenomena.

    After learning a lot about the actual state of consciousness studies, I evaluate the “szaszian” model of mind as generally wrong. It has its own good points which deserve to be remebered – insights about the social opression and scapegoating, and usage of language to label others – but its mistake is absolutization of these insights. The “sociolinguistic” model of mind which is result of this absolutization cannot stand scrutiny.

  • Well, this is exactly what I call “crocodile tears”!

    This is the pitiful screams of the people who granted the authority to torture people how they see fit – and exercising such authority without any sore conscience.

    The critics of psychiatry can sometimes be excessive in their critiques, turning them into the insultive and hyperbolic rhetoric – the recent post, “Ode to Biological Psychiatry”, is a good example of this – but none of them intitiated violence against anyone. Psychiatrists do this each and every day.

    This is the most important difference – this is only one side of the conflict which is violent, and it is defininitely not the critics – this is institutuional psychiatry. I can sometimes disagree with some of the critics as well, but with them I can be sure that they won’t think about intiating violence against me for my disagreement with them; and with institututional psychiatrists, one can’t be sure whether or not one would be perceived as “delusional” and, therefore, in a need of “theraupetic” torture.

    So, while I’m harshly critical of both Thomas Szasz and E. Fuller Torrey, I make the principal distinction between these two opponents of mine. Szasz is one whom I may describe as equal opponent – while I consider him to be flat wrong on many issues, I appreciate him as a person who would, despite all disagreements, treat his opponents (including me) as equals, as well as I treat him. And Torrey is a dangerous opponent, one who openly advocates initiatory violence against the ones whose experiences, thoughts and behaviours do not fit his model of “normality”.

  • Well, what about Loren Mosher and Soteria Project? Mosher was a psychiatrist; and, while he was in favor of psychotherapetic approach, he did not reject psychotropic drugs totally. He was for their very limited and short-term usage in the cases of most severe psychosis.

    Were Moser and Soteria totally wrong and totally evil? I think you would agree that they were not.

    That’s why black-and-white dichotomies never work. Whatever you look at, the more you look, the more shades of grey and delicate nuances you will find. I still haven’t find anything “purely wrong and evil” or “purely good and right”, despite my years-long personal inquiry into nearly every controversy – scientific, scholarly or social – I heard of. In fact, the more I learn, the more complex and diverse picture of the world I see; the picture where anything, including (biological) psychiatry, have a chance to bring us knowledge and potential which would otherwise be lost – as long as we remain critical enough to spot mistakes and fallacies in the message.

  • Here I agree. I was myself a bit shocked by the Daniel Mackler’s post – while we should criticize (biological) psychiatry and its practitioners for the faults, we should not not turn a reasonable critique into an angry, insultive attack. Psychiatry, despite all its negative legacy, is neither totally wrong nor totally evil. It is one of many possible ways of dealing with mental problems and distress of people – along with psychotherapy, social work, pedagogy or spiritual practice.

    A combination of medical and biological knowlegdge with psychosocial and humanitarian one is a necessity for the approaches for mental work which include the usage of drugs – and such approaches has their legitimate place and usage. For example, there was a psychedelic research and therapy of people like Stanislav Grof, who was a psychiatrist; his medical knowledge was very useful to him during his explorations of consciousness.

    I think, most negative facts for which we criticize psychiatry are due not to psychiatry itself; they are mostly due to its institutuional status – and the licence to coerce which was given to it. Deinstitutionalization is the actual priority; but “end of psychiatry” is a bad idea. With psychiatry, we will lose a lot of knowdge of psychophysical problems of people, as well as methods of solving these problems. What is important to protect people against the forceful, nonconsensual attempts to use these methods.

    Dr. Stengard, I also want to make an additional comment about the problem of coersion. During our last dialogue in the comment thread of the “Paradigm Shift” post of yours, your asked me what should we do with violent sufferers of psychotic episodes – given that a few of them really can intiate violence, and they won’t accept anybody’s help, whether of “mainstream” or “alternative” type.

    I thought about this hard question a lot since then. And, with all honesty, I have to confess that I have no answer. And I can’t name anyone who has.

    However, I’m still strongly against giving mental health professionals coercive power – because there is no sharp link between a relatively small number of cases of violent psychotics and a very big number of cases of rebellious and nonconformist persons who are labelled as “danger for society” by authorities. I’m myself a libertarian who is highly critical of the modern force-based society; I know a lot of people who share the same views. We are not liked by the ruling elite – especially because of other tendency of questioning official versions. So, should, for example, questioning of the official interpretation of 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks be dismissed as “paranoid delusion”, despite the fact that many of questioners are highly-qualified scientists and technicians? Or – if we look at the non-conventional views not linked to the power-structure problems – should the interest towards psychic phenomena be treated as a sign of mental confusion, despite the fact that such phenomena is a topic of research of many serious and reputable scientists, such as high-level psychologists Daryl Bem and Stanely Krippner, and there are even some specialized parapsychological research groups in universities – such as Division of Perceptual Studies in the University of Virginia?

    Or – if we move from the mere views to the actual social behaviour – should we treat “indescent” behaviour as a sign of illness? The meaning of “decency” is highly debatable, and was changed greatly by the efforts of rebels during the 20th century. Was all these rebels – such as hippies and punks – “mentally ill” because of their active protest against the “decent” society?

    Or – if we look at the realms of experience – should we treat the people who had the transpersonal spiritual experiences as “hallucinating psychotics”? I think we should not!

    So, while there is indeed a danger of violent, severely mentally disturbed persons attacking others, it is not enough for me to give up the principle of non-coersion. We put ourselves at a constant danger of abuse this way – because no one can say what and who will be next target of authorities’ ire.

  • I think, neither CBT nor drug therapy are totally bad. They are just variants of treatment available for participants of mental health system. What is of primary importance for me is non-coercion and humanistic attitude towards these participants by mental health practitioners and academicians. Otherwise, they would not be participants of mental health system anymore; they will become victims of the violence initiated by this system – or, to be more precise, by the powerful social groups who define what is “normal” and “abnormal” according to the discourses they propagate, and regularly resort to violence to suppress forms of experience, interpretation and behavior which contradict the picture of the world they want to draw. Therefore, mental health system which initiate violence becomes the repressive tool of the current social order, hiding under the deceitful interpretations provided by the dominant culture – interpretations which describe as pathology everything (and everyone) that do not submit to them.

    The core humanistic, non-violent mental health theory and practice is its genuine attention to, and respect for, humans and humane existence in all its diversity and complexity. Unlike medical model, humanistic approach is based of a non-condemnatory acceptance of “abnormal” and “deviant” perspective, with providing necessary support in the process of the person’s inner integration inside its own psyche and outer integration in society and culture. For the mental health professional who embrace such approach, the aim of therapy (and therapist) is to assist the person in reclaiming his or her wholeness, by productive synthesis of all parts of personality, whether they are considered “normal” by the dominant discourses or not.

    So, such attitude strongly differs from the tendency of medicalization of deviance and coercive conformism, which is characteristic for the mainstream mental health system. This system is not interested in the integration of “normal” and “deviant” parts of psyche, society and culture; to the contrary, it is interested in suppression (if not outright elimination) of the forms of the human existence – experiences, interpretations, behaviors – that differ from what is considered to be “the objective reality” by the powerful and authoritative sociocultural forces and groups. But the concept of “the objective reality” is just a philosophical assumption, historically formed and refined in the Western culture as a result of principal body-soul dualism of the dominant theological tradition of Christianity. Later it was transferred from theology to philosophy, and gained power – I suppose, not only because of philosophical argumentation, but mostly as a result of social pressure to accept one parts of nature and deny the others. It is one of many interpretative models, exalted by particular power-relations in the rigid and hierarchical social structure and expressed with the language which is typical for the dominant, institutionalized culture. In the past, when the cultural authority was organized religion, it was the language of theology, denouncing the anomalous forms of human existence as “sin” and “devilry”. Today, the ideology of scientism, with its absolutisation of biophysical aspects of nature, re-defined “sin” and “devilry” as “delusion” and “hallucination”. It fact, what we have here is just the anomalous behaviors, interpretations and experiences, something which is ignored or denied by the social institutes of power. It would be quite accurate to use the term “consensus reality”, which precisely catches the problem of authoritarian approach to any anomalous, out-of-consensus phenomena; their non-dismissive interpretations by experiencers, researchers and supporters; and social activities based on such interpretations.

    Humanistic therapist should always be acutely aware of the impossibility to strictly separate “real” from “unreal”. What we have for sure is the field of experience, in its wholeness and diversity. People always tried to separate it in this or that form, projecting semiotic classifications of discourses preferred by them onto this phenomenal field, and pretending that such separation is “really true”. However, as humanistic therapist should understand and remember, all such separations are conceptual, the implications of this or that arbitrary discourse, which produce the constructive sociocultural reality-tunnels of groups and persons. However, the existential experiential reality-as-whole still remains itself in full, in all its irreducible complexity; and particular persons and groups would still either experience it as a whole or – more often – create their own alternative reality-tunnel.

    Of course, such experiential defiance perceived as an insult by authorities, which have an unpleasant tendency to confuse discursive and phenomenal, presenting (and perceiving) their preferred interpretation of existence as existence itself. For them, their interpretation is “real”; therefore ones who deviate from what is “allowed to exist” must be somehow deficient. Being in control of language, authoritarian groups are free to attach any symbolic labels to the “deviant” experiencers, stigmatizing them this or that way: they were “puppets of Satan” in the religious past; they are “mentally ill” in the scientistic present. Being in position of power, authoritarian groups are free to initiate violence against the “deviant” experiencers, condemning them to torture; their control of language let them to disguise such violence under the rhetoric of “helping them” and “doing it for their own good”. So, anomalous experience is suppressed under the conceptual disguise of either theology or medicine; but what we have here is, in fact, is extremely cruel, oppressive and deceptive form of pedagogy.

    Dichotomy between “objective” and “subjective” is pedagogic in nature; it is put into our minds in childhood, during the process of our socialization, which results in semiotization of experience according to interpersonal connections and resulting social needs (which are the integral part of a larger social structure, and are largely determined by the dominant discourses). So-called “madness”, therefore, is not a form of pathology, as proponents of medical model insist. It is either refusal or inability to conform to the phenomenal and discursive demands of the social authorities; a non-compliance which, being voluntary or involuntary, let one to prefer one’s own existential nature to the pedagogic pressure; to prefer one’s existential-phenomenal integrity to the interpretative models provided by the discourse imposed by the pedagogues.

    Therefore, practitioners of coercive psychiatry are in fact guardians of social power-relations, maintaining the powerful ones’ interpretation of experience from the anomalous experiences and experiencers, as well as from the alternative interpretations and interpreters.

    Well, all what I said is quite critical. Yet, the main difference of the phenomenal reality from the authoritarian rhetoric is its diversity and complexity. It is not simplistic black-and-white picture; there is no “absolute good” and “absolute evil” there. Any phenomenon has different sides of it, if being perceived from different perspectives. Mental health system is no exception. There is not only authoritarian cruelty there; there are some positive roots of genuine support for the people in mental and spiritual distress.

    These roots are seen in the work of people who came to the system with honest humanistic intention, with a real goal of helping people – and had enough integrity, sincerity and volition to resist indoctrination by the deceptive theories and involvement into violent practices. Ones who saw that the horrible reality of the system has little to do with the propaganda of “beneficial treatment” under which it hidden itself. Ones who were persistent enough in their honest desire to really help people in distress and courageous enough to raise their voice against the situation where the institutions which were apparently created to help ones in distress in fact produce such distress, in terrifying quantities and qualities.

    Psychiatry – as well as psychotherapy, counseling, social work, education, spiritual guidance and so forth – can really help many people suffering from the mental, social, spiritual problems. But to do that, they should not initiate violence against the very people whom they are going to help. By initiating violence, they betray not only these people, who put their trust and hope in them but were subjected to torture – they betray themselves, throwing away the identity of the helping professional and embracing the one of the repressive inquisitor, and yet hiding under the language of “treatment”.

    And to maintain awareness and understanding of their duty of the helping professionals, and to prevent themselves from degradation to the role of professionals of repression, they should always perceive – and treat – people as people, not as dehumanized biological robots. These are persons with whom they are dealing with, not clusters of symptoms on which one could stamp a medically-sounding label.

    As for humanistic theory practice, it can – and should – be diverse, allowing people to choose the form of it which they prefer. It may be CBT, too; it may be something somatic in nature, operating under integrative biopsychosocial conceptual network, such as exercise, nutrition, or drugs – yes, even drugs. They are not totally bad; they may be used a voluntary choice by mental health system participants who chose them being honestly informed about their side-effects and potential dangers. This is their body, their mind, their consciousness; they are free to transform it, to seek a support in such transformation from the people with necessary knowledge and skills, and to refuse to participate if don’t want to.

    And they should be treated and respected as persons whether they choose.

    This is my view. Dr. Steingard, I would be glad if you respond. Of course, I would be glad to see a response by anyone else, too!

  • The feature of the coersive psychiatry that enrages me strongly is its violent conformism; its stance that the current social, political, economic and cultural system is a priori right and “healthy”; any form of deviation from it is a priori wrong and “unhealthy” – a problem to “solve”, a pathology to “cure”. And virtually never coersive psychiatrists ask themselves whether the ruling system is so right after all, whether it would be more “pathological” to support it than to rebel against it.

    But what enrages me even more is coersive psychiatrists’ permanent denial of their inquisitoral and opressive role in society, their wild (or should I say “crazy”?) insistence that the initiation of violence and infliction of torture that they practice is for their victims “own good”, that they are “helping” them!

    And what not even enrages, but, actually, horrifies me is the fact that many of coersive psychiatrists really think that they are helping their “patients” by torturing them! Sometimes I feel myself simply weird when talking to them… How one can be SO blind to the cruelty of one’s own actions?!!

  • I never used the label “mental illness” to characterize anyone.

    There are mental anomalies and deviations, no doubt. Dut anomaly or deviation is not necessarily bad; this is just a difference. It may be even a productive difference, like an amazing talent for maths or music (this is also a deviation from the “normal”, after all.

    There are mental distress and mental problems, sometimes quite severe ones, for sure. But such distress and such problems are not a disease like a flu. They may have some relationship with the body (as a proponent of the integral biopsychosocial approach, I think body, mind and conssciousness form a system of mutual interactions), but their primary cause lies not in the brain, but in the psyche, society and culture.

    However, today I want to make a special exception for the NAMI activists. Their proposal is indeed an “insane” one, belonging to the minds of the “mentally ill” persons. But it is not the baseless psychiatric labels they carry that make them “ill”; it is their own wish to present themselves as such. One deserves the respect for one’s self-identification; so, if one wants to be “ill” so intensely, I can respect his or her choise.

    So, I think that I can call NAMI activists “mentally ill”. They are eager to accept the name themselves, aren’t they?

    But they don’t have a right to push others to accept this empty label.

  • Is the situation really so desperate? As I see, critics’ voice is being heard in the whole world – in SAMSHA and NIMH (USA), in British Psychological Society (UK), in Mental Health Europe (EU), even in the United Nations! Thanks to Robert Whitaker’s efforts, we speak on many high-level conferences. I don’t think our situation is sad; to the contrary, I think it’s improving.

    However, being a relative novice concerning this topic, I may be wrong… I only compare our current state of events to the one which was several years ago, not some decades ago.

  • The status of children and adolescents in the mental health system is one of the biggest problems… and it can remain a problem even if psychiatry is deinstitutonalized and generally freed from coercion. Let’s say, we have a system in which adults can’t be forced; but what about kids? Would they still be their parents’ assets, being put by them into this or that therapy, according to parents’ wishes? Or would they have the right to decide whether to participate or not, as much as adults? I hope it would be the latter!

  • The important point that I talk not about psychiatrists, but about about different forms, theories and practices of psychiatry. We both agree that its form which is dominant now – biological psychiatry – failed both in theory, which is devoid of scientific (or even anecdotal) basis, and in practice, which is based on force and harmful for its recepients.

    But one cannot say it about non-coercive biopsychosocal and psychosocial forms of psychiatry, which have much more valid theory and much more humane and effective practice. Soeria, empathic therapy, holisitic diet and exercise, mindfulness, life management, social support networks, Jungian psychoanalytic therapies, neurofeedback, self-directed neuroplastity – all these practises are also forms of psychiatry. And we are not against them, aren’t we?

    I also should mention that, if we still try to reappropriate the term “antipsychiatry”, we will make our communication with potential allies and supporters (especially academicians and mental health practitioners) much more problematic for a long time: this term has too many negative associations in the minds of most people. I think, we should better concentrate on the really important issues, such as telling people about a) very weak basis of biological psychiatry, b) suffering and harm experienced by the people who was forced by biopsychiatry practitioners, and c) existence of better alternatives.

    And, to reach as many people as possible, we should not scare them away by positioning ourselves as “antipsychiatry”. This label is as pejorative, incorrect and unfounded, so let just give it up.

  • Hello! I was lurking on MIA for a long time, and now I decided to participate. I think the discussion of the term “antipsychiatry” give me a good opportunity to explain by basic views on the topics discussed here.

    While I’m a critic of psychiatry, I cannot describe myself as “antipsychiatrist”. I am, first and foremost, anti-coercion; and, to a slightly lesser extent, anti-biological psychiatry. For me, the main goal of people who understand the horrible state of the modern mental health system is to deprive it of the right to coerce. And to achieve such deprivation, we have to explain both academia and public that biopsychiatry has a very weak scientific foundation… well, you know it!

    However, I would not say that psychiatry is absolutely evil – we do have a few psychiatists who fully understand the sad state of their discipline, and try to reform it, and to present alternatives; for example, consider Loren Mosher’s Soteria network, Peter Breggin’s empathic therapy approach, holistic/integrative therapies etc.. If we want to be “antpsychiatrists” in the strict literal sense, we’ll have to be anti-Soteria and anti-empathic therapy as well: these are also psychiatric practices, after all! But, I think, people here are not against them (as well as me).

    So, I decide to call myself the critic of coercive biological psychiatry and the proponent of non-coercive (bio)psychosocial psychiatry, not “antipsychiatrist”. I do not want psychiatry to be eliminated. I want it to change, and to change radically.