Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Comments by oldhead

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  • There are several dictionary definitions (though even dictionaries can reflect a bias). One can “put an end to” something without specifically outlawing it, though there are aspects of psychiatric practice which should be outlawed. So not all abolitionist-minded people support a decree abolishing psychiatry (though some would if they thought it were possible).

  • We are not islands and need more than. “support”, why would that be a substitute for a revolution? Why either or?

    My point too if I understand you — but this is the way the struggle is often framed, as “political” and “support” wings rather than support being incorporated into the real struggle, which is political.

    Many are guilt tripped by the idea that to oppose psychiatry they must “provide an alternative,” which is b.s. on several levels. What it implies is that before we expose psychiatry’s false claims to provide solutions to people’s problems, we must provide our own “alternative” false claims — because as long as we’re locked into this system there are no true solutions, so if we want to talk metaphorically about “psychic wounds” we must recognize that the most we can do for one another pending the revolution is provide “psychic band-aids.”

    The solution is revolution — at least as the first step. And this segues nicely into the discussion in Megan Wildhood’s review of Susan R’s own book…

  • My point is that real support is part of the process of living an interacting with our networks of family & friends & colleagues, and comes as part of being part of an organic process and working towards to same or similar goals. The fact that this does not exist for many is an indictment of the system, not of those who seek human contact and support via alienated processes such as “psychotherapy” — which may or may not be a good thing for a particular individual depending on the situation. But even in the best of circumstances this is an alienated way of interacting.

    This is not to “rebut” anything you say, just to interject a few thoughts.

  • It may be a chicken-egg situation to some degree. But what the ruling class “allows” is a function of the people’s determination to resist it. That’s the subjective factor — i.e. it’s up to us. Psychiatry is one of capitalism’s main props, so as the MC5 once famously sang, let’s “kick out the jams”!

  • Wow Megan! I’m afraid I’m going to respond in small bits.

    I have exchanged occasional sporadic correspondence with Susan. I remember in particular that we joined in encouraging RW and MIA to publish an account of the emotional and psychic suffering among the residents of occupied Palestine, as a balance to RW’s extensive article based on his experiences in the state of Israel. Anyway it never happened. The point is, I respect her work.

    I also highly respect your work, Megan, and so do many others. I am thrilled that Susan’s book has opened up a new door for you in terms of understanding the world, and I predict many epiphanies to come. Without a class analysis we are all truly in the dark.

    This is where the confusion about “socialism” sets in however. And this is where I and many other “leftists” would part ways with Susan in terms of analysis. But Marxism is largely the study of contradiction so its good to get comfortable with that. I have noted here that, while you mention “Bolshevik” being considered a dirty word — implying that you consider such a characterization to be mistaken — you still seem to use “communism” as dirty word, as if the concept of “socialism” is tainted by it’s association with communism.

    In fact, true socialism as envisioned by Marx is a step on the way to communism, which is the point where humanity has matured enough to return to a stateless society. Meanwhile however the world is dominated and controlled by the 1% (or .1%) of the population, which comprises a de facto dictatorship and controls all the resources, and which has armies and police with which to defend this. Socialism aims to reverse that dictatorship and put the people — the 99% — in charge. This is what is meant by the “dictatorship” of the workers — a term which is twisted around by capitalist propagandists to conjure up the image of one person in charge of everything. However true socialism would be the first occasion since pre-feudal times when the operation of society would be collectively controlled and managed in the interest of serving human needs.

    While I would vote for Bernie, “democratic socialism” is not true socialism; it is an adaptation of capitalism with quasi-socialist features. While I believe Bernie knows this very well, he is a politician after all. True socialism cannot be voted in, as the rulers will not just turn over their wealth and power to the people (be realistic). It will require a more massive and collective undertaking on the part of ALL the people, and will be most likely met with violence. Responding to that creatively will be the collective assignment of the people — so we better start unifying for the sake of our immediate and long term survival.

    The most pertinent part of Marxian philosophy to those involved in anti-psychiatry activism, aside from the basic economic analysis of capitalism and class struggle, is his concept of alienation from the product of one’s labor — e.g. the factory worker who can’t afford a pair of the shoes she/he makes every day (the extensions are endless). Since all of society is based on “being employed” — regardless of whether that “employment” is personally fulfilling or even destructive to the planet — it’s hard to recognize the extent of our alienation from ourselves and our natural environment. It’s sort of like we’re fish not recognizing the polluted psychic water we’re swimming in every day. But the toll taken on our humanity by the day to day reality of living to serve the bottom lines of genocidal corporations and literal war criminals cannot be underestimated, even if we don’t respond to it on a “conscious” level.

    So, this is what I have so far after reading about the first third of your blog. I’ll give us all a break at this point, but I look forward to the rest. 🙂

  • I have to take exception to those who believe that to abolish psychiatry we need to worry about “support systems.” This reflects a misconception about what psychiatry does, and a contradiction which has held back an effective movement against psychiatry since forever.

    Psychiatry is a police agency which is not there for “support.” While of course we all need to support one another as best we can while fighting to overthrow this inhuman system, “support” cannot be treated as something that happens in a vacuum, independently of the context of our lives and day to day struggles. It is largely irrelevant to eliminating psychiatry (or at least no more central to the process than in any other movement), as it was never something provided by psychiatry.

    Thus to say that the fight against psychiatry must have both a “political” and “support” wing makes little sense, and replicates the psychiatric approach of compartmentalizing and commodifying “support.” It also validates the false claim of psychiatry to be in the business of “support” when we say that before we get rid of psychiatry we must have an “alternative.” “Alternative” to what — something that was never there in the first place? Many of us are content to focus on ridding the world of psychiatry, supporting one another in the process, but not falling victim to the notion that “support” is a substitute for revolution, any way you define it.

  • Dismantling the “mental health” system, however, need not be dependent on dismantling the state. I don’t think you need to dismantle the state before you can dismantle the “mental health” system.

    As a tool of social control psychiatry will adapt to any state system that supports it. In a capitalist system it will support capitalism, and since capitalism is the dominant ideology in the world psychiatry is in its service. Abolishing psychiatry may actually be a prerequisite for abolishing capitalism, rather than vice versa.

  • Both parties are shameless, and the Democrats have the added element of pompous and cowardly hypocrisy, and in the end are an even more insidious enemy. However maybe we can play the cards right and use the Dems “gun control” rhetoric as a way to play the two factions off against one another and neutralize both. Exactly how remains to be seen, but it should not be done at the expense of either the 1st or 2nd Amendments.

    Have you done any research as to the bill’s likelihood of being taken seriously? There are a lot of frivolous bills.

  • Also, unless our strategy is based on an analysis of psychiatry as a police agency and not a failed branch of medicine or “social services” we will surely fail.

    PS Reviewing the article again, one thing we have going for us is the total Dem/Repug split on almost everything, so we should play on that whenever possible. Normally some reptilian Democrats would be crawling out from under their rocks to support this by now. But the night is young.

  • Nothing wrong with increasing material goods of course, I’ll take some if they’re passing them around.

    I have NEVER called myself a liberal Rachel, you haven’t been paying attention. OTHER people have called me that — the same people who think there can be such a thing as a “liberal/leftist.” It’s one or the other.

  • The same old responses at MIA will do nothing to stop this joint Democrat/Republican onslaught. People who are serious about their outrage should start considering what ACTION they are prepared to take. It might be time to take a cue from ACT UP. But “expressing concern” and trusting the ACLU to protect you are SO over in terms of dealing with overt fascism, which is not embodied in any one party or person. Are we gonna roll over and stick our throats out?

    Of course this could just be some yahoo clown with no real support so we could use some good intelligence as to how likely this bill is to go anywhere. (And btw calling for “gun control” is NOT the answer either.)

    This is also a good time to reinvigorate the campaign to educate people about psychiatric drug violence, in fact it might be our only hope. Whatever excuses people are making to justify not taking this to talk radio are just that. (Forget letters to the editor, most newspapers are irrelevant by now.)

  • There’s a difference between psychiatry and “help,” as psychiatry interprets even genuine help as “treatment,” which causes it’s clients/victims to internalize self-images of being somehow defective.

    So it would be advantageous to distinguish between the two — psychiatry is more than just a “term,” it signifies a particular ideological orientation which defines inability or unwillingness to conform to the dominant culture as a problem with the individual, not the social order.

    Psychiatry is a tool of social control, and any system administered by psychiatry will serve that primary function. So a true “help system” needs to divorce itself from psychiatric control.

    Good luck with that. 🙂

  • Grief is not considered a “mental illness,” only “excessive” grief, which is a value judgement directly traceable to social alienation and fear of extreme emotion, which is bad for business.

    And what better way to control people than the fear of death? That’s pretty much what governments are based on.

    However the only reason psychiatry maintains this dominance is through it’s ability to FORCE it wares on unwilling “consumers”; nothing “voluntary” about it. Without being able to legally coerce psychiatry would rapidly wither away.

  • everything was now undeniably explainable as a mere consequence of evolution

    Another form of faith?

    What Dr. K is referring to here is anthropomorphic religion where “God” is considered to be a big man in charge of everything. However Buddhism, Taoism etc. are more concerned with what might be considered universal intelligence, not a powerful being they must submit to.

    Psychiatry is absolutely a substitute for religion among many “rational” intellectuals who crave spiritual sustenance but are afraid to be seen as religious.

  • You know this yet take the drugs anyway to stimulate creativity? Speed type drugs might help you spill out what’s inside in a somewhat organized way, but at any rate it seems like a questionable trade-off. Not prescribing or de-subscribing, it’s your choice, but there are safer substances that might be just as or more efficacious for stirring the muse.

  • fnert, it’s hard to tell, are you criticizing pro-VAX forces for their manipulation of information and suppression of informed public debate, or those who accuse them of such? Do you think Twitter & the like should be suppressing info on natural healing? (I also challenge Rachel to articulate why she supports “vaccination,” since we’re on the subject, and wonder what information she bases this on.)

    More important, do or don’t you believe psychiatry should be abolished? Because this is starting to get pretty abstract.

  • People and institutions which claim to be “anti-psychiatry” but in fact want to replace it with their own brand of programming should always be suspect. Many people have collaborated with CCHR over the years due to their being the only game in town with their Scientology funds backing them, which must be recognized in retrospect as a tactical choice. However the general consciousness is higher now and we should be relying more on our own resources again so as to be free of such entanglements.

    Scientology/CCHR does have some excellent AP videos but it’s hard to see them as much more than a Trojan Horse. If they took all references to themselves off these videos, even in the small credits, let us plagiarize them without concern for copyrights, and distributed them for free we might have a basis for some kind of cooperation, but I won’t be holding my breath. And I said “might” so don’t (mis)quote me.

  • When inhumane psychiatry has marginalized and disenfranchized, one might say, subhumanized and decitizenized, a segment of the population, humane psychiatry is going to bring it back into the fold again?

    Nice bit of random insight.

    Someday, sometime in the future, perhaps…in a universe far, far away…we will be ready to dispense with forcing unwanted treatments on people.

    Of course, just be patient…don’t you want to be “practical”?

  • Well, surviving is always good, and resistance is better. But it’s important to keep in mind that “protest” is basically complaining to or about those in power, and “resistance” is akin to leaning against the door to hold back the storm. We need to go beyond resistance and take the offensive in our endeavors to bring a complete halt to the machinery of the psychiatric system.

  • No one will EVER forcibly drug me without major resistance. Interpret at will. That Eric can write such a coherent article WHILE BEING FORCIBLY DRUGGED is a crime. It also seems given his prominence at MIA that MIA’s combined access to lawyers and “progressive” mh professionals could be arrayed against this transparent attempt to silence him.

  • You mention having a strategy — can you share it?

    Academia is not generally a good vehicle for educating the masses, so you needn’t worry about having their approval. There are many ways to reach the people, who in the end will be the only ones to stop not just ECT but psychiatry en toto.

  • If you don’t believe forced psychiatry can be eliminated you’ve given up before you started. (How long it takes shouldn’t be a factor, some of us will live longer than others.) You are essentially calling the ONLY acceptable solution “utopian” (my term). If you don’t accept that psychiatry will ever stop being a parallel police force (except in the way distant, unforeseeable future) why would you do the sort of work you do? To make it a more “humane” police force?

    I also question the assumption that psychiatry, by definition, can ever be truly “non-coercive.”

  • Spot on. Lumping the terms “consumer” and “survivor” together as though they are peas in a pod demonstrates the extent to which the concerns of the authors are out of touch with the reality “on the ground.”

    There is no “consumers’ movement” that isn’t 100% pure astroturf. And MH professionals should not be using the term “mad” to makes themselves sound edgy and “woke”; this is a term that many if not most of us reject, and its use by professionals is akin to when “hip” white liberals felt entitled to call Black people “spades.”

  • I think he would get a lot of pushback from mh people, who are usually liberals of some sort, and who have at least been paying lip service to deinstitutionalization for years. But there could well be a reactionary clique of psychiatric fascists waiting in the wings for an official nod. If so they should be easy to expose, and in so doing psychiatry itself could well be collateral damage. At least my optimistic side believes this…

  • There will be no true justice until psychiatry has been exposed and rejected by the people. Meanwhile you need to reject others’ characterization of you without feeling compelled to defend your existence. This is harder when it’s family but there comes a point where you have to just walk out the door, literally or figuratively.

  • Hi Sarah, haven’t seen you around these parts lately. Good to hear from you but I think you may be making things more complicated than they really are.

    No one in my known world is offering meaningful solutions.

    We live in a toxic profit-oriented socio-political system which has no respect for human needs and human values. Rather than beating around the bushes trying to find new ways of “navigating” a system which is at war with life itself, wouldn’t our energies be better directed into figuring out how to rid ourselves of this heartless, monstrous setup? To me that’s the only “meaningful solution”; we can support one another along the way, but to speak of “support” while ignoring the source of all this hopelessness, pain and frustration is to guarantee that there will be an endless supply of “suicidal” people for psychiatry to exploit. We need to go to the root of the problem, not just hack away at the branches.

    I’ll be paying attention to your writing and will try to offer some randoms insights from time to time. The people I’m working with presently all see the abolition of psychiatry as their main goal, however we support one another in the course of this pursuit, just as ballet dancers might see their main goal as the production but support one another in the process. Support is part of life; it can’t be abstracted or it becomes a commodity.

  • One can certainly “recover” from traumatic experiences, at least to some extent. The term does not always refer to physical injury. But the metaphors of “disease” and “illness” have been so abused by psychiatry that people are understandably suspicious of any term that might imply such. I’m more comfortable with the term “recovery” than I am “healing,” which sounds more physical; still I think we need to be tolerant of such language, though it may be ambiguous and confusing at times, till we come up with something better. After all, people speak of sports teams “recovering” from losing streaks without it being interpreted as a medical issue. It’s a shame that psychiatry’s use of terms such as “mental illness” has made us so nervous about using metaphors at all; they are an essential part of poetry and creative writing.

    Btw, people can very literally recover from the effects psychiatric drugs.

  • They will care when the methods used are affecting them and theirs. Like our Treasurer fleeing the State when he was about to be referred to a psychiatrist not all of them will escape.

    Sort of. Unless they’re a problem for those in power politicians will largely be immune. But it’s like the climate situation: the same sun shines on all of us and we all breath the same air — polluters, politicians and polar bears alike.

  • Capitalists always work in league with the interests of other capitalists. Most big corporations have many diverse investments. There is no one corporation (media or otherwise) that’s significantly “more corrupt” than any other. In fact “corruption” implies a previous state of integrity; I don’t know when that would have been. (Walter Cronkite?) I guess my point is that Pharma looks out for the interests of Pharma, period; CBS is just one instance. It’s not just one case of a “smoking gun”; the whole plantation reeks of gunpowder, constantly.

  • Leslie was not experiencing any depression, psychosis, or suicidal or homicidal ideation. She was not a danger to herself or others. Yet she had been picked up by police, placed in handcuffs, and brought to the hospital, and her social worker intended to have her placed in a group home.

    Speaking of “unjustified” involuntary commitment is already a slippery slope, as it clearly implies that some forcible psychiatric incarceration is justifiable, and that “depression, psychosis, or suicidal or homicidal ideation” are grounds for such.

    If someone is an immediate threat to the safety of innocent people he or she should be restrained or held in a non-torturous detention facility until no longer a threat. Such detention should be seen as a public safety measure, not a psychiatric/medical procedure.

  • So I will be making a few phone calls to see if these politicians are aware of how our police are dealing with these criminal matters, by simply calling them medical issues and turning a blind eye to them.

    Do you think they care? Again, psychiatry IS the police in a slightly different form.

    Don’t be a stranger btw Boans. 🙂

  • Wow, looks like a lot of people are checking this film out.

    Without unduly diverting us from the subject of Marci — an even more fascinating though violently creepy movie is “A Hole In One” starring Michelle Williams and Meat Loaf(!) It’s about a woman who wants to have a lobotomy to make her mobster boyfriend happier with her, but he wants nothing to do with it. It’s interspersed with truthful documentary-style info about the popularity of lobotomy in the 50’s and its role in McCarthy-era America. I recommend this one even more!

  • This is curiously synchronistic, in that I just watched a relatively recent Hollywood movie entitled “Side Effects,” involving a woman who kills her husband while on SSRI’s and the ensuing legalities, replete with genuinely evil shrinks foisting drug research on their “patients.” Worth a look.

  • 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.

    Those who find themselves working within the system while in the grips of an epiphany about the true function of psychiatry and the damage it wreaks are in key positions to be allies in the struggle to expose and abolish psychiatry, and if they act as allies and not “reformers” — even if they don’t shout this from the rooftops — they can be of great value to the AP movement, which is to say of people everywhere. 🙂

  • I’m not sure how you reform social control to be anything but another form of social control.

    I.e. shit is any form is shit. 🙂

    I don’t think we need “professionals” period, as a rule of thumb. So I wouldn’t waste a lot of time trying to figure out how they “should” or “might” think or operate. Great first post though, welcome!

  • Let me contribute to world peace by saying that I substantially agree with RL. The woman shouldn’t have been shouted down if a simple “no” to her question would have sufficed. If she had continued down the Scientology line of questioning that’s when shouting might have become an option; absent that “shouting her down” would seem more defensive or intolerant than anything.

    But I also agree with Steve in the sense that attacking Scientology as a matter of policy, rather than simply distancing ourselves, is sort of diversionary and off-point.

    As to whether Scientologists should be allowed at demonstrations that would depend on the nature of the demonstration and/or the coalition sponsoring it.