Thursday, May 23, 2019

Comments by oldhead

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  • There you are Sally! Can we correspond, even if briefly? (Maybe Steve the moderator could help us swap emails.)

    To expand on your last point — even without neurotoxins this is the political effect of psychiatry, to convince the populace to blame societal-based misery on themselves rather than the system. This is ultimately more destructive than most “treatments” in my estimation; at best it’s a toss-up.

  • I think the real change is going to come from the underclass, the poorest of the poor, many of them mental patients or ex-patients. This is where I personally see the largest revolt, and it is already starting. What is the word sociologists use? Proletariat.

    The proletariat have “nothing to lose but their chains” said Marx; this was echoed by the mental patients liberation movement: “Psychiatric Inmates Unite — You have nothing to lose but your restraints.”

    The “change” needed here is not a new “model of care” but the end of the entire paradigm of “care-givers” and “care-receivers”; that’s something that should be taken for granted as part of being human.

  • How have we created this monster?

    “We” have not created it. “They” (social engineers backed by guns) have created it to define an “acceptable” reality which reinforces existing power structures, and to define those who step out of line as “disordered” and “sick.” And it works well for them, especially when we pick up their narrative of “health” and “illness” and run with it.

  • I don’t think seeking or promoting alternatives to the Psychiatric standard is a dead end to managing ‘extreme states of consciousness’ since society, on average, is currently maladapted to accommodate these states.

    Challenge is positive, please don’t confuse it with derogation.

    There’s a lot of confusion & debate about this idea of “alternatives” even among those who consider themselves opposed to psychiatry. Briefly, it has to do with one’s analysis of what psychiatry is or is intended to be. Some people see the role of psychiatry to “help” people, others see it as a form of control which uses the idea of “help” as a pretext.

    If one comes from the latter perspective, it begs the question of why one would want to “replace” something which is not even intended as a force for good, again, anymore than one would want to “replace” slavery, genocide, etc. So you need to ask “model of what?” Also to examine why you see the issue as a matter of “care” for especially traumatized people (as opposed to the “moderately” traumatized, which describes the rest of us), and where on the continuum of traumatization someone becomes a “special case,” and why. Also why “extreme states of consciousness” must be “managed” — what do you mean by that?

    Not even making “debating points,” just trying to suggest some helpful questions you might pose to yourself.

    Finally, why must everything good and helpful be referred to as an “alternative to psychiatry”? — especially since nothing psychiatry does is good or helpful. Don’t you think this gives psychiatry way too much credit? Why not just say “these are good things”? Is breathing pure air an “alternative” to breathing carbon monoxide, or just the way things should be?

  • I’m a communist, an anti-capitalist, but of the anarchist variety.

    Communism and anarchism are diametrically opposed, other then for the end goal. There is no “anarchist variety” of communism, which is about seizing the means of production and reversing the dictatorship of the ruling class, i.e. instituting socialism.

    Anarchists are very good at breaking windows and defacing things with graffiti, but they are rarely serious revolutionaries.


  • Don — Do you know how dangerous it is to use Facebook? Facebook is primarily a tracking and surveillance site, hardly appropriate for survivors who value their privacy. Beside Facebook “activism” is only “virtual” activism; serious activists wouldn’t touch Facebook, other than to direct people to their websites. Here’s some of what you need to know about Facebook, from a member of the Internet Hall of Fame:

    Also, why would you want “alternatives” to psychiatry, as opposed to eliminating the entire mentality?

  • Demanding financial compensation for crippling and defaming is not incompatible with capitalism OH.

    In this case I think it is; we’re talking tens of billions of dollars at least.

    Please don’t imply that I have ever equated psychiatry with chattel slavery, this is the kind of misinformation that people use against us. When AP people talk about slavery they are usually either a) comparing aspects shared by institutions of total control, which describes slavery, psychiatry, prisons, etc.; or b) referring to the literal, historical involvement of psychiatry in enforcing slavery (such as “diagnosing” runaway slaves as suffering from “drapetomania”).

  • We cannot just eliminate psychiatry. We must eliminate the brainwashing that causes the mentality in the first place.

    Well, that’s part of the process of eliminating psychiatry. And to eliminate the brainwashing we need to have a coherent analysis of psychiatry ourselves before we’re ready to impart it to others.

    The media doesn’t work for us and never will, so fretting about what they “should” do is useless and a waste of time. Trump should give us a 10 million dollar grant too, but don’t hold your breath.

  • OK, then I guess we can officially classify you as “anti-communist” for future reference.

    FYI for anyone else, the purpose of marxist socialism is to reverse the current dictatorship of the ruling class (sometimes called the 1%) over the vast majority of people, and establish a dictatorship of the 99% over the 1% (which Marx called the dictatorship of the proletariat, or working class). During this period there will still be a state, though one run by the people, to prevent the bad guys from re-establishing power. Once people realize the benefits of true socialism (not the Bernie/AOC version) and the former ruling class has lost its ability to stage a comeback, the state will become less and less relevant and will “wither away.” So that’s what we’re sparring about here.

  • I agree pretty much both with Richard’s conclusions here and the reasoning behind them. There are several definitions of “abolish” in Webster’s, at least one of which is consistent with the concept of “withering away.”

    However there is no strict “before” and “after” the revolution (other than the formal transfer of power), and no reason why great strides in AP consciousness-raising and organizing can’t be taking place as we speak.

  • Fred, you’ve been a stranger, WTF??? Anyway please stay on our radar! Hope you’re ok.

    The legendary Howie the Harp and, especially, his partner Joyce Kasinski both had nightmarish tales to tell about Israeli psychiatry in the 70’s as well, don’t know if they might have a story about it buried somewhere in the Madness Network News archives.

    Anti-psychiatry is doing fine, come visit more often. 🙂

  • Many of those who comment on MIA are psychiatric survivors, escaped slaves.

    Sorry but no one here is an escaped slave. Claiming this validates the misconception that we equate psychiatry with chattel slavery (to which you implicitly refer), rather than acknowledging the legacy of slavery it represents and/or drawing parallels between the two.

  • Dragon Slayer you’re going against your conservative principles here, not that I mind. “Disability” payments could be considered a form of reparations, however inadequate. But it’s odd to see you demanding “social supports” of any sort for anyone.

    Also, you’re echoing the corporate legal strategy by trivializing the damages in the McDonalds case.

  • I unapologetically support the abolition of psychiatry, which is not a philosophy any more than slavery was a philosophy, but an institution of repression. Part of the strategy to abolish psychiatry is to call for its delegitimization as a field of medicine, which kicks out a major prop of support. Also part of this strategy of course is to ban government support for psychiatry, including all physical coercion. Combined with public education these would accomplish the end result of “making psychiatry history.”

    There is some confusion about what the term “abolition” means, as abolitionists are not usually calling for some sort of decree banning psychiatry. But the cumulative effect of the above steps would be the same. Again, we are talking about actions and nor beliefs; people could continue to call themselves “psychiatrists” and talk shit to their hearts’ content, they just wouldn’t have the power to harm people.

    Anyway I’m glad you agree with my original point, and with the legitimacy of this goal.

  • Bruce, there is growing momentum for a campaign — conducted along with other related campaigns — to delegitimize psychiatry as a field of medicine, both in the common perception and via withdrawal of recognition by whatever institutional “authorities” are deemed the arbiters of such “official” certification. Would you be in support of this?

  • Except for the playing fast & loose with history part. There were no “halfway houses” for emancipated slaves.

    It just means that the process of the abolition of psychiatry might take much longer and cost more than one might initially anticipate.

    I wasn’t aware that anyone had made projections about the time frame. The cost is not our problem, it’s theirs.

  • DS — At the risk of sounding redundant to many, what I’m trying to get you to confirm is NOT that “mental illness is a myth”; we know that. My point is it’s not just the term that’s the problem; in that case we could come up with another term than “mental illness” and all would be copacetic. The point is that there’s NOTHING TO NAME.


  • The anti-psychiatry community at MIA welcomes you and looks forward to seeing your consciousness evolve to the point of joining us in the struggle to eliminate this odious institution of repression. Eliminating all belief in the labels you have been burdened with, and in the lie of “mental illness” will be a gradual process, but well worth the effort. Allowing yourself to feel anger at the deceptions which have been foisted upon you is a necessary step too, so don’t fight it if & when it happens.

  • I did a research paper in college on this. It was accidentally “discovered” when experimenters engaged in unrelated research (the name “Schou” rings a bell) noticed the effect lithium was having on guinea pigs. One thing led to another till they saw that lithium had a sedating effect on psych “patients” as well without making them slobber and drool and do the Thorazine shuffle. So people looked much less scary in front of their relatives, despite being emotionally neutered and subject to goiters. Lithium became an instant hit.

    How’s that in a nutshell DS?

    Btw there is no “natural lithium level” that lithium “adjusts”; lithium is a highly toxic trace element in any human body (as is arsenic).

  • What they mean is, how are you going to regulate people, mostly the poor?

    That’s what they mean in essence even if though they don’t realize it. But the people who end up believing and repeating this think they’re being compassionate; they want to identify with psychiatry as a “helping” profession that would like to be more helpful but just doesn’t understand. People bend over backwards and engage in spectacular leaps of logic to believe this.

  • Let’s put it another it another way. Is everything that’s good automatically an “alternative to psychiatry”? Why is psychiatry the standard against which everything is measured? Are breathing clean air or eating healthful food or have a social-political system which addresses human needs “alternatives to psychiatry” or simply the way things are supposed to be? This is why I call the demand for an “alternative” a trap designed to guilt trip people out of opposing psychiatry. It is made knowing full well that, just as psychiatry can’t stop people’s misery, neither can we, until there has been a complete transformation of human priorities and an equitable redistribution of wealth and power.

    I also support rescuing abandoned cats; should we hold off on fighting psychiatry until all the cats have been saved as well?

  • Phil, sorry about all the drama surrounding MIA during this increasingly rare and necessary article by you.

    I would like to ask what you think about the psychological tactic (used to guilt trip movement people) of claiming that in order to credibly oppose psychiatry you must first have an “alternative”? Did they say that about slavery or concentration camps?

  • There is no “it.” I don’t know how many people get this, as some claim they do but then make further statements which indicate that they really don’t. So I guess I’ll just keep repeating it in hopes that it will suddenly “click” with someone from time to time.

    Yet another way of saying this — there is no “thing” that would be more real if “it” were called something other than “mental illness.” Nothing but “loose clusters of vaguely defined problems.”

  • What do you think of Breggin now apparently limiting his concern to drugs and shock, while continuing to practice what he calls “psychiatry” and advocating that psychiatrists “psychotherapy” (rather than denouncing and abandoning the basic contradiction of this being done in the name of “medicine”)? There is no rational justification for an alleged branch of medicine called “psychiatry.”

  • DS, I was more alluding to the idea of false categories, not just absurd “disease” terms; I think you will remember a previous discussion of what the Easter Bunny “really” is — when the reality is that there’s nothing consistent to label OR mislabel.

  • They are not two different questions. It’s an either/or, and my choice of course is B. I’m NOT talking about “perceptions,” but the literal purpose and function of psychiatry. I don’t play to people’s perceptions or prejudices, I’m interested in the truth. If an institution of social control is perceived as a branch as medicine then our job is to demystify that misperception.

    So maybe I’ll see your response tomorrow if we’re lucky. 🙁

  • Behavior is the issue. No one has the right to harm others other than in self-defense, and defense of its citizens is society’s duty. This has nothing to do with psychiatry, and little to do with the reasoning of the aggressor.

  • OMG I’m never going to get through this. I’m finally up to point #1:

    1. Psychiatry’s definition of a mental disorder/illness is so wide that it embraces virtually every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving…

    I agree with much or most of what Phil says but sometimes for different reasons. I would NOT pose this as my #1 reason for being anti-psychiatry because it implies the problem is the definition of “mental illness” being too broad — rather than the entire idea of “mental illness” being in violation of the laws of logic and language, i.e. equating a metaphor with an actual pathology.

    I like point 2, which entertainingly deconstructs even further the ways in which semantics are manipulated with disease labels to imply there’s something there when there’s really not.

    #3 gets into the issue of not only specific labels (schizophrenia, bipolar, ADHD, etc.) being invalid, but the idea that these labels even represent a legitimate category, however mislabeled. Dragonslayer compares this to a (false) argument over what the Easter bunny really is. Schizophrenia is not really something else; there’s nothing “there” to label except the outward expressions of individual experience, all of which is unique. I like the way Phil describes this as “loose clusters of vaguely defined problems.”

    Well hot damn — I just breezed through the rest of the first 9 bullet points with nary a disagreement nor much to add, except to note that (#7) misleading people into accepting physically destructive “treatments” is more than disempowering; it is criminal; and that if people were fully informed and consented nevertheless, by psychiatry’s own logic they should be seen as acting in a self-destructive manner and prevented from consenting.

    So there’s hope for getting through this after all. I’m treating it likeas a homework assignment; this is part 2 of my report.

  • Pleasant speculation — I guess we’ll see when we get there. When people start seeing their supposedly “personal” problems as simply their share of our collective problems the whole perspective should change. Though when people see how they’ve been deceived for so long there could be a problem of helping direct their justifiable rage into intelligent and organized forms of resistance.

  • Don’t know why you feel compelled to embrace all these stereotypes instead of identifying them and dispelling them (you forgot the one about the guy running down the street naked in the snow).

    There are no unanswerable questions. But it helps to get people first asking intelligent and pertinent questions. For example, what would you say to someone who demanded to know why the moon is made out of green cheese? Couldn’t it really be blue cheese that just looks green?

  • If psychiatry doesn’t exist, does the thing that replaces it serve a purely punitive/social control function?

    Why in the world would you want to replace it??? Did slavery abolitionists ask “what are we going to replace it with”?

  • We can always use some fine tuning — if someone had it totally right psychiatry would be gone, right?

    A key issue to be sorted out is exactly what IS psychiatry? Is it A) A rogue or “failed” branch of medicine meant to help people or B) A parallel police force assigned to control and repress people? Obviously one’s tactics and approach would be different depending on which of these circumstances is deemed accurate. However the solutions that people propose are often oblivious to the need to define the enemy before a successful strategy to defeat it can be formulated.

    So I think this needs to be considered and discussed more frequently and thoroughly.

  • Maybe people are intimidated by Phil’s irrefutable logic?

    I have not yet begun to comment! Busy & slightly overwhelmed with things to do. Haven’t gotten past the first section actually as this is not something that one can skim.

  • I beg to disagree, there were never “two movements”, there were multiple movements. The psychiatric survivor movement was one thing, the antipsychiatry movement another, and although there was much overlap, I’m not going to equate the two.

    Frank, you’re basically making up your own history to conform to your personal ideology. Can you at least make an attempt at some form of documentation of your claims (and not from Wikipedia)?

  • WOW. Great to see Phil writing on MIA again. As usual with Phil there’s so much here that I may not get to much of it in time. Phil is an AP hero, let me say from the start, and has demonstrated beyond all question that he is an ally of anti-psychiatry survivors and the AP movement in general.

    That said, I’m not necessarily in lockstep with everything here as I read this (I haven’t finished yet). For example:

    What is generally opposed by those of us in the anti-psychiatry movement is the bio-bio-bio travesty

    I don’t think this is necessarily true, not for me anyway. I would be opposed to anything called psychiatry, primarily on the basis that if it requires a medical degree it considers itself a medical field — which demands the existence of a pathology, otherwise medical training would be seen as irrelevant. And we know this is not the case.

    If we understand that the primary purpose of psychiatry has always been social control in the guise of “healing,” we can see that, while the varieties of deception have morphed to accommodate the prevailing beliefs of the times, this basic function has remained consistent. So whether the so-called “madness” has been ascribed to “humors” or “oedipal complexes,” the psychiatrist has always been a medical doctor. This is of course not because of any special understanding or insight but because the authoritarian, paternal presence of a “doctor” is necessary to maintain the pretense of a medical process. This is the myth which has to be dispelled.

    I continue to reject the notion of “biological psychiatry” as different than the “same old” psychiatry, as this implies there is (or could be) some other kind of psychiatry that’s “better,” or that we should “return to.” But today’s psychiatry is no different at its core than it ever has been, and has been “biological” since the captives on the “ships of fools”; I’m glad to see that Phil sees this.

    Still, the talk of “bio-bio-bio” carries with it the dangerous notion that if psychiatry went back to psychoanalytically-based theories it would be “better.” Again, such a belief ignores the true purpose of psychiatry as a parallel police force, and perpetuates the myth that its purpose is to “help people” and just doesn’t understand how to do so properly (a convenient naivete which has liberal survivors constantly engaging in self-criticism for not having “explained” things well enough).

    In the end it doesn’t matter what rationalization psychiatry uses for its existence; we need to see through them all. Even more important is to realize that the act of focusing on the individual victim of the system is a strategy to keep people focused on themselves rather than the sources of their suffering, which must be addressed by political action, not by trying to change our reactions to an objectively oppressive power structure which does not address human needs except as inconveniences that cut into profits.

    OK — that covers the first few paragraphs. I’ll see where Phil is going with this.

    (BTW anti-psychiatry needs no “defense.” It simply needs to be explained more consistently and coherently.)

  • Psychiatrists ascribe to psychiatric ideology and see people’s problems as literally being symptoms of diseases. Psychologists are under no such constraint. “Psychology” refers to the study of the mind, though “clinical psychologists” are basically psychiatrists without medical degrees, who see people as collections of “symptoms” rather than human beings reacting to a toxic environment.

  • I could have sworn you said you DID have one of those red lights, my bad! 🙂

    Not a criticism but a question — when we see “your comment is awaiting moderation” does it mean that it is absolutely being deleted, or just that someone has reported it?

    I ask because one of my responses to Krista’s post — in which she takes sides in a dispute between survivors which does not concern her — is listed is “awaiting moderation,” however the precipitating comments are not. (Just in case I’ll report it now.)

    Btw isn’t it time you got a raise?

  • Comments like “despicable, inexcusable and ‘you should be ashamed’” are surprising in a moderated section, given the stated guidelines.

    Then why are you perpetuating the negativity?

    It isn’t the easiest thing exposing yourself in a couple of thousand words about something so painful and personal. And you use your name in Comments and authorship; respect.

    For one, Julie has no choice but to use her name if she wants to publish here. For two Julie identifies as a writer and as such has an interest in putting her name out there and distributing her writings. This is legitimate; however there are those who not only “consent” to their names being publicized but delight in it and feel validated by this (for whatever reason). Others are fighting the system at a deeper level and have sound reasons for not wanting their names “in lights,” as they realize that personalities and egos only get in the way of helping people make the connections they need to make. Not to mention a zillion other tactical considerations, depending on the circumstances of the particular individual.

  • You brought these abstract polemics to the conversation, is the point I was making. Your assumptions are the main problem. For example I don’t believe I have ever even mentioned Foucault. At any rate the French Revolution, as did the American Revolution, targeted the monarchy, not “capitalism”; while capitalism was beginning to rear its head it was only consolidated after the monarchy had been overthrown, and the term “capitalism” was not even in use at that point. So the term “left” did not imply “anti-capitalist” as it does today.

    Also many if not most of those who consider themselves “leftists” are not, at least by that definition. It is only the political ignorance of Americans that allows Hannity etc. to call Democrats “radical leftists.” I find the terms “left” and “right” to be basically meaningless at the moment.

  • @Frank (hard to navigate the spam)…

    it was the so-called CSX movement, “recovery” movement, “peer” “support” movement, mental patients’ bondage movement, or whatever, that sold antipsychiatry down the river

    At the risk of being endlessly redundant:

    There were never “two movements.” The key is in the words “so-called,” which you use yourself so you must get this at some level. You’re presenting the exact same point that I did and acting as though it’s in opposition. Anyway, whatever you call it, what you describe above was NOT a “movement.” It was astroturf, bought and paid for by psychiatry. The real movement’s last organized event was the 1985 Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression in Vermont.

    While I agree that it gets blurry, from what I’ve gathered Judi & Howie’s tentative cooperation with all this, while not a political high point in retrospect, was based on naivete and not having a good understanding of what was happening, as opposed to others, who were notorious turncoats and opportunists who openly opposed AP and conspired with E.F. Torrey. The last time I hung out with Howie, in 1990, he was totally the same guy I met in 1976. And still singing “Crazy and Proud” (not “Crazy and Superior” btw).

  • Rather than making this an implicit attack on people for grabbing at whatever straws they’re offered, I think it’s more effective to focus on the underlying dynamic — i.e. that the system’s strategy is to frame what should be recognized as collective political problems, to be addressed en masse, as an endless collection of individual dilemmas, wherein people’s rage is turned inwards rather than understood and used creatively to neutralize the system’s schemes. To equate rage with mindless violence and guilt-trip people for experiencing it is another such tactic.

  • As an FYI: While any specific connection to Laura D. is largely tangential, KS is referring to Julie’s unfortunate comment at the end of the thread by RW on Laura’s New Yorker interview:

    Probably not worth engaging in a circular firing squad of survivors over this, but that’s the context anyway.

  • Thanks. Of course lots of women call themselves feminist these days, many of whom just want a better deal within patriarchal culture, many of whom continue to oppose patriarchal structures entirely.

    Simply the fact that RW chooses to comment on this would not be sexist in my view if his book is mentioned. There may be more going on behind the scenes here than we are privy to, as the relationship (or former relationship) between Laura and MIA goes back some time.