Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Comments by oldhead

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  • Nolan, have no fear. You are not “schizophrenic,” you’re just one more intelligent, sensitive and perceptive human being trying to make sense out of a system which is inherently irrational. Being “happy” would be more of a concern given the circumstances.

  • Adding to that, this was when psychiatry was scoffed at by the medical industry because they had no disease labels. Voila!

    One of the “symptoms of schizophrenia” in my college Abnormal Psychiatry text was “concrete thinking” — i.e. taking metaphors literally, which is exactly what psychiatry does with the term “mental illness.”

  • Don’t you think this is all pretty crazy? It reminds me of the Universal Life Church — send in your fee and become a “minister.” Why not just pick names out of a phone book and offer them money to talk to you?

    (This is not a response to your comments per se. But you do seem to grasp some of the inherent contradictions so I thought you might agree.)

    A “peer” is someone who shares your basic social status (Merriam-Webster: One that is of equal standing with another). There is no “test.”

  • I’m advocating not entering a direct fight with a power that has the resources to crush anything that directly threatens it.

    That’s why we have strategy.

    You can’t “advocate for change” in a system which is inherently fraudulent and corrupt. You organize to defeat it. We don’t need “services.” We need revolution.

  • Their looking to take your site down Robert.

    I’ve been wondering how MIA plans to respond when they do. Actually they won’t take it down but they won’t enable links to the site, you’ll have to know ahead of time you want to go to madinamerica.com and type it in directly. Just like they’re doing with anti-vaccine information and very popular natural health sites such as Mercola.com

    This is more of a “when” than an “if” the way things are looking. So don’t be shocked.

  • Sounds like you have a resistance to examining the contradictions inherent in such terms. If you believe they are “necessary” and “indispensable” surely you can explain why you have drawn such a conclusion.

    FYI I was assaulted with both labels and quite successfully dispensed with them over 40 years ago, and never looked back. They are meaningless, logically flawed and totally destructive.

  • Thanks for the permission and for edifying. It’s a fine balance between calling out the system in an honest and straight-up manner and not “alienating” people. Though I think people are ready for more truth than you might expect; fewer every day believe in this system. It’s definitely important to speak the language of those you’re working with, as long as it doesn’t include psychiatric terminology (whether anyone likes it or not). And while you might avoid terms which your “audience” may consider “extreme” (which sometimes means they are secretly fascinated by them) it’s pretty easy to say “psychiatry sucks” in language that just about anyone can understand. That’s my personal approach anyway.

  • Maybe my thoughts are beginning to sound redundant here, but I think if you would substitute the term CAPITALIST for “mainstream,” “big fish,” etc. you would gain more clarity about what the solutions might be. It would also help to stop saying “we” when talking about circumstances that have little to do with US, such as “this society we have created,” etc. Most of us are far from being members of the ruling class, and we didn’t create shit, we just have it slopped out for us and are expected to like it. Though we do perpetuate it by not fighting it; when the energy which should be expended in revolutionary activity is directed inward against ourselves we sow the seeds of self-destruction.

    Good to see you writing btw.

  • All I can add here is that regardless of the brilliance of anyone’s insight, the term “psychotic” always confuses things. Both “psychosis” and “schizophrenia” are forms of “mental illness”; the whole nomenclature needs to be scrapped.

  • Lots of idealistic law students are out there already, but unless they are educated in demolishing concepts such as “mental illness” on the stand and exposing psychiatry’s basic principles as bullshit we’ll end up with another generation of lawyers arguing for the “right to treatment,” “least restrictive alternatives,” and other accommodations to the psychiatric gulag which have nothing to do with the basic fraud and Carrollian logic (as in Lewis) underlying psychiatric oppression. (Wondering what Tina M might have to say about this.)

  • Random “incivility” encountered in day to day life is different from systemic incivility encountered in the “mental health” industry. I guess it boils down to the fact that there is such an industry in the first place, which almost by definition engenders alienation and is more or less guaranteed to routinely offend human sensibilities. So in such a context the value of saying “sorry” for every systematized “microaggression” is nil when there is no intent of ever changing that system or the underlying assumptions.

  • Part of the problem is that there can be no satisfactory or even sensible answers when people ask the wrong questions. What is meant by “effective” — that people are no longer suffering because the switchboard in their brain which alerts them to the fact that they are suffering has been short circuited? I imagine there are a number of psych drugs which are effective at that. They also make it easier for mass shooters to feel like they’re playing a video game.

  • Then again there are the more casual usages of “sorry” as in, “sorry, the way I just phrased that sounded confusing,” which don’t really have anything to do with actual sorrow. But whatever. I’d just prefer that people finally “get” what I’m saying or feeling, rather than “apologize” to me for not having done so previously.

    So many conversations on MIA seem to contain an admonition not to take something that has been said “personally.” Sort of like apologizing, when I think it should go without saying. Maybe when someone intends for something to be taken personally they should state it straight out; otherwise we can assume that we are simply engaged in intellectual discourse.

  • There are so many possible variables on so many levels that it’s hard to make too many blanket statements, since there will always be exceptions based on people’s individual biochemistry and stamina. But it’s not necessary to pin down the exact biochemical process to conclude that you have been fucked up by a drug when you take it and your brain explodes.

    Certainly a false belief that you need a drug may create or exacerbate the likelihood of withdrawal-like physical symptoms; however this doesn’t exclude the possibility of the drug itself creating such symptoms as well or instead. In some people there might be a “reverse placebo” effect and an actual chemical effect occurring simultaneously. In any case, as Jan in essence said, these effects are created by real drugs — not imaginary or metaphorical ones — prescribed for fake diseases.

    It would have been interesting to see Dr. K discussing this with biochemical researcher Zel Dolinsky, who until recently was also a “survivor.” He told me shortly before his death that he hadn’t slept in seven years due to past SSRI use. This was definitely NOT simply because he believed he needed the drug.

  • The first quote that came to my mind was from John Lennon: “Love means having to say you’re sorry every five minutes.”

    Personally, though, I have little or no use for apologies either way, except a) in relatively rare circumstances where something I have done or said may have objectively harmed someone and b) if someone I truly care for and respect has said or done so to me.

    If something I say and truly believe nevertheless and unwittingly triggers a negative emotional reaction I would say “I’m sorry your feelings were hurt,” which would not be “slithering out” of anything, simply being honest in the face of disagreement. To demand a “full apology” is a demand for the person to say “yes I was wrong and I hurt you,” not just an expectation that that person will be concerned about your feelings.

    There’s a fine line between sensitivity and getting hung up in a blame game, which seems to come partially from ingrained Judeo-Christian concepts of guilt and confession. In general it’s not good to give people so much power over you that their opinions can ruin your day. In the context of politics or “official” settings it is largely immaterial in the end how someone in power feels about their behavior or whether they’re “sorry”; the issue is whether or not they have changed their behavior and/or addressed any demonstrable damage.

    I sometimes will tell someone to stop apologizing so much, and they respond by apologizing for apologizing. At that point I give up and silently smile. 🙂

  • Well, I think it’s a tribute to Bonnie that she helped “trigger” such a life-changing epiphany in you, beyond the level of sheer intellectual analysis (at which Bonnie was obviously also excellent).

    Btw, unlike the other things you attribute to raw anger and say you regret, calling for the end of psychiatry is not just an “emotional” statement (which it can be at the same time) but an exceedingly rational one, and should not be regretted. Though it helps to be strategic.

    It still outrages and scares me that you can be held so unjustly in the grips of psychiatry while writing so logically, clearly, and coherently.

  • having a “constant supply of people who need help” isn’t necessarily a bad thing – of course as long as there is also a constant supply of people who willingly give help.

    For a fee, of course.

    Or do you think that a non-toxic society consists solely of independent and competently functioning individuals who don’t need each other in any way at all?

    No, but that’s an apt description of the pretense we currently maintain, aided by “profesionals.” Needing “each other” is quite the opposite of needing psychiatrists.

  • Re: “lamentation” — after the Chinese Revolution there was a process known as “speaking bitterness” where liberated peasants would collectively vent against the former regime, and the many atrocities and indignities they had suffered under it. It had an empowering effect. The difference is that it was never presented as a “mental health” exercise, and the political content was not masked but emphasized.

  • I also extend my thanks & sympathy to Don, you wrote a great tribute. It’s amazing and more than disconcerting how many anti-psychiatry comrades have been dropping left and right over the past 2 months. And that this is the fourth such memorial we have been contributing to on MIA.

    Bonnie of course is already an anti-psychiatry legend, and occupies a key place in the pantheon of AP theorists and activists who have struggled over the past 5 decades to not only criticize psychiatry, but to abolish it — a goal on which she would harbor no compromise. I particularly have admired her resilience — she told me several years ago that she was teaching her classes propped up in bed, or something close. We had some political differences, but Bonnie had a very clear idea of who she was, what she was doing and where she wanted to take it, and the world is a better place as a result.

    I must admit I have not yet read more than excerpts from Psychiatry and the Business of Madness (it and “Anatomy” were on my Xmas list a few years ago, and I was given “Anatomy”). But Bonnie’s concept of “decontextualized behavior” is key to understanding the nature (and fraudulence) of psychiatric labeling and categorization. (I expect to discover more such insights once I do finally read the book.) Beyond that, her largely single-handed work to establish antipsychiatry as an academic discipline has had a major impact on efforts to legitimize the AP struggle in the eyes of academia, and bolster the growing campaign to delegitimize psychiatry as a branch of medicine.

    Simply listing Bonnie’s achievements here would be a little beside the point, and maybe a bit unnecessary. What is important to grasp is the totality of her work since the 80’s aimed at abolishing psychiatry. That is the “prize” she kept her eyes focused on throughout it all, which is what the rest of us should be doing as well.

    Though I believe Bonnie considered herself an atheist, I also believe that energy is neither created nor destroyed but simply changes forms. Bonnie’s energy is all around us, surrounds her circle of friends and loved ones, and will infuse the AP movement for years to come. And it is from that understanding that I invoke the phrase yet again:

    Bonnie Burstow Presente! 🙂

  • OK an addendum — I see Ms. Watkins does tangentially mention capitalism in terms of it encouraging the “expert model” of “service” provision. But she doesn’t seem to extend this to the concept of professionalism per se or to see it as the defining contradiction in our lives. I don’t think we each need personal advisors to “accompany” and “lament” with us in a professional capacity, but committed people to organize alongside us. We must recognize that our collective task as members of the human race is to eliminate this system of organized greed and murder, and there are no “experts” or “professionals” who can do this for us.

    Still this is a cut above most MIA fare and does provide some food for thought.

  • At the risk of being redundant, the causes of suicide are not mysterious or difficult to understand. However, since the solutions have nothing to do with “treatment” of individuals but transforming the basic structure of society, we can expect all “professional” approaches to continue to consist of denial coupled with coercive attempts to pound human beings into square holes.

  • Since the article was headlined with the term “liberation psychology” I was looking for the part where it states as a basic precept that “liberation” must include the overthrow of capitalism, so as to eliminate the alienation from self that it engenders (not to mention material exploitation). Maybe I missed it, but I don’t even see the word “capitalism” mentioned once.

    It’s necessary to have an analysis of alienation, but as for solutions let’s get real. Rebuilding Palestinian homes destroyed by Zionist terrorism is nice, just as is Melissa’s sending holiday cards to psychiatric inmates. But it remains symbolic, and does not address the basic contradictions of colonialism, imperialism and structural racism. Liberation cannot exist side by side with capitalism; it is capitalism we need to liberate the world from. Maybe these are things Ms. Watkins understands well but keeps to herself for reasons of mainstream acceptability, but they nonetheless need to be pointed out, if any of this in many ways spot-on analysis hopes to make its way beyond academia in a way which can be useful to the masses.

    I am not dissing the article but making some key criticisms which need to be addressed.

  • In the late ’70s the national mental patients liberation movement coordinated a boycott of SmithKline’s over-the-counter products (including Contac Cold Capsules and Sea & Ski products) due to their production and promotion of Thorazine, Stelazine and Prolixin. Once we have a new anti-psychiatry survivor network in place perhaps we should resume this campaign.

  • Ignore the negativity, these people are embarrassing. Though I’m sure there are those with some actually constructive feedback. You have nothing to apologize for though, you deserve only props.

  • No, you have nothing to apologize for. Nothing you have written here is condescending. Some might consider you naive in thinking that psychiatry can be improved, but your motivation is pristine from what I can see.

  • Thank you, Melissa, that was very kind and thoughtful.

    Unfortunately it is an us vs. them situation. Psychiatry is charged with keeping those of us who don’t accept this system out of mind, out of sight, and certainly powerless. As you will inevitably realize if you keep up with this stuff.

    Happy New Year!

  • All humans are deeply flawed,

    This is getting a bit much. I miss the old Dr. Breggin. There are enough preachers to go around already. But if we’re all “deeply flawed” I guess we could all use some of that “empathic therapy,” huh?

    “Toxic Psychiatry” is more up my alley.

  • Yeah, they’re trying to retribalize us to a collective consciousness when there are still major penalties and pitfalls involved in sharing too much information. “No secrets” is a nice concept but first you need a world with no guillotines.

    McCluhan was one of my first intellectual heroes btw, I was obsessed with him for a number of years.

    The guy whose site I linked above said instead of Big Brother following you around now we go up to him and ask for our handcuffs — preferably the newest glitziest hi-tech variety available. (Or something like that.)

  • Matt’s death had nothing to do with his outing his own name. This is a false issue that Matt struggled with and needs to be rejected — the idea that there is something disingenuous or cowardly about using a pseudonym. I hope no one else is feeling such pressure, and urge those who would make such implications to cease and desist. What’s in a name anyway?

  • Our efforts need to be primarily addressed to the liberals and (so-called) “leftists” who have decided to incorporate psychiatric mythology and power into their bankrupt and revisionist world views. Marx is no doubt rolling over in his grave. Working class “conservatives” currently have more respect for common sense and freedom of expression than “woke” neoliberals. While Trump may have “graced” this summit with his presence, the buttons are being pushed primarily by “progressives.” MIA readers need to understand this and learn how to confront it, as it runs counter to how many want to see the world, and see themselves.

  • Shit — Searching through my myriad emails I see that Zel did once briefly describe his situation to me, and mentioned looking forward to my comments “as long as I’m around.” To which I responded “Hope you’re not planning to go too far.” He then described his drug situation and said that he hadn’t slept in 7 years (I remember asking someone else if that was physically possible). But I never had any further dialogue with him so am of course now contemplating what possible things I “should have” done or said. Not that it would have had much effect on neurotoxic brain damage.

    Quoting Phil Ochs, too many martyrs and too many deaths.

  • This is just getting too creepy. I didn’t have an extensive or ongoing dialogue with Zel, but he was on my email list. The last I heard from him was when he thanked me for notifying him & others about Stephen Boren/Gilbert’s passing.

    People have mentioned things like this coming in three’s, and wondered whether after losing Stephen and Julie another shoe was yet to drop. Hopefully there won’t be any more for a while, and people who feel they are at this point of despair will consider the option of actively exposing and confronting the system responsible for their lethal misery.

    Farewell, Zel.

  • I actually don’t think MIA or any venue accessible to the general public is an appropriate place for AP survivors to be discussing our internal strategy. But this is an issue which should mobilize more than survivors. Still, it makes no sense to talk about “strategy” without a shared set of goals. Developing and articulating the latter is what MIA and anti-psychiatry people need to start thinking more seriously, and clearly, about — and soon.

    The word “hysteria” is loaded with psychiatric connotations.

    I know, there just aren’t many synonyms, other than maybe “histrionics.” I don’t think it’s an official psychiatric term anymore. What I mean here is that we can’t just react to what some celebrity says by pulling our hair out and straying from our analysis, and our discipline. All celebrities are shills for the system. And anti-psychiatry, unlike psychiatry itself, IS a science. We need to be guided by objectivity and not let them yank us around by our emotional reactions to their genocidal mentality.

  • A few things.

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

    If some sort of repressive legislation or new regulations are in line to be put into effect we need to know about it, however, and mobilize a coalition to defeat it. This would include survivors, professionals and others.

    To be effective however a group of a couple dozen dedicated survivors won’t cut it by ourselves. We would need dozens or scores of professionals with a stake in the system who claim to oppose force — this includes many or most of those who expound on MIA — who are willing to commit massive civil disobedience to stop such a move by the political parties and Psychiatry Inc. If not now, this well may be necessary later. So let’s start asking our favorite MIA “advocates” whether or not they are prepared to sign on.

  • The long and the short of it is that I no longer see myself as “mentally ill.”

    That’s a start, but in the end it doesn’t matter how you “see” yourself: “mental illness” is an impossibility.

    I think you’re trying to overthink this. You talk about the “human condition,” but the circumstances which lead people to suicide are largely created by capitalism, i.e. the subjection of humans to conditions which are inimical to life. I’m not saying your diagrams, etc. are inaccurate, and some might find them helpful. But we need to recognize that psychiatry is a tool of repression, and nothing more. What we need to do is redirect the energy we might otherwise put into self-destructive pursuits against the system which keeps us ALL down. People learn that when they unite to fight their collective enemies there is a sense of empowerment which ensues. We need to stop being so introspective as to ignore the reality that we are ALL expected to negate our needs in subservience to a system which exists to materially enrich a tiny percentage of the population at the expense of everyone else. That some people are less capable of resisting this does not reflect an individual “disorder,” simply that some are less resilient. And if it were recognized that we ALL are up against the same system, and the same people, people would be far less prone to see their circumstances as purely personal, and their only solution suicide, as opposed to collectively fighting to erase the conditions which drive us to such desperate measures.

  • Psychiatry has its own version of original sin, which is the inculcation of the belief among the masses that their misery and dissatisfaction result from neurological and/or psychic defects, rather than “natural” human reactions to oppressive circumstances.

    This is “original” in the sense that these oppressive circumstances preceded all of our births, hence our reactions seem to be ingrained or natal traits. But it is a man-made quagmire.

  • Oboy. Just as we’re all becoming experts on biochemistry in order to rebut the “chemical imbalance” crap, now we need to start studying “junk” genetics.

    I can save us all a lot of brain-crunching and forehead furrowing with one simple observation: These “studies” were conducted starting with the false premise that “schizophrenia” is a real thing, and proceed from that unproven assumption to make observations about those who “have it.” Hence they are scientifically invalid from the get-go.


  • I tend to give so-called “psychotherapy” a pass a compared to psychiatry, primarily because it is not a term with any consistent meaning, and unlike psychiatry, “psychotherapists” do not uniformly postulate the existence of “mental disease.” Sometimes people can and do benefit from counseling labeled “psychotherapy” without being psychiatrically labeled, and some of those who practice under its banner are people of integrity, intelligence and compassion. Such people don’t focus so much on the “therapy” aspect of the term, and understand that the comparison to actual physical therapy is metaphorical. For this reason I tend to roll my eyes at the semantics of the term, but otherwise don’t make a big deal of it.

    However, there are many who portray themselves as “psychotherapists” who are hand-in-glove with psychiatry, and see themselves as part of the medical milieu. I believe some can even prescribe drugs. (Anyone know more about this?) They take the “medical model” labels as serious “diagnoses” and in general uphold the worst of psychiatry in a slightly different guise.

    For this reason, just as MIA is gradually learning to put quotation marks around “mental illness,” we should start weaning ourselves from the notion of “psychotherapy.” Personal counseling, no matter how useful, is not “therapy” in any literal sense, and while reasonable people can understand the term as a figure of speech, it will nonetheless continue to be exploited by psychiatry and psychiatrically-centered “psychotherapists.” I appreciate poetic speech as much as anyone but, push-come-to-shove, one’s mind is not subject to “therapy” any more than it is to “treatment”; you can’t give a mind a massage.

  • Well, maybe some “social media” inclined survivor should revive the #freebritney campaign again, this time prepared ahead of time with documentation and analysis. There needs to be some sort of breakthrough on the front of celebrities championing “mental health” and encouraging their impressionable fans to “get help when you need it.”

    If we can go to the moon why can’t someone find a way to communicate with Britney directly via phone or email to see how she feels about all this — or would that be a felony or something?

  • It’s a worthwhile consideration, though simply expressing “doubt” about the consent issue also tends to speak for her, as only she could answer this. But I would think that every time a young celebrity embraces or is thrust into the “mental health” cauldron they should be provided by MIA with a specially embosssed version of Anatomy of An Epidemic, signed by RW with a contact number.

  • The closest I ever came to jury duty was in the case of someone who was charged in an incident with a cop from the institution where I had previously been incarcerated. Apparently I telegraphed too much sympathy for the defendant and the prosecutor struck me from the jury selection, probably wisely.