Sunday, June 25, 2017

Comments by oldhead

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  • fine, we will not use the term ‘mental illness’, we will use the term brain disorder

    Good point. Which is why I also argue against the idea that there is a “something” of any sort which is simply looking for the right label. It does no good to put “schizophrenia” in quotes if the implication is that “it” exists but has been misidentified or “misdiagnosed.”

    I am in synch with Bonnie here, who has written about the “decontextualization” of experience; maybe she’d be interested in elaborating a bit.

  • Actually, if rejection of the role of mental patient hurts the psychiatry profession, it could be said to be antipsychiatric.

    Sort of what I was getting at. There are some organizing efforts (CRPD would be one) which could have the overall effect of crippling and delegitimizing some of the most heinous psychiatric practices. So regardless of whether they identify publicly as “anti-psychiatry” these efforts should be recognized as legitimate components of the anti-psychiatry movement and supported.

  • I think psychiatry uses the term “antipsychiatry” to its advantage. It says to the public, there is an “ideological” group opposed to psychiatry, and so it can now present itself to the public as the “scientific” group, battling an “anti” group that is non-scientific.

    It depends on who you’re trying to reach. Every time they mention anti-psychiatry to the “public” they stir interest in anti-psychiatry and make people curious about it (even if it sounds crazy at first, it’s still interesting and provocative). They can claim anything they want, as once we have the organized strength and internal analysis to make them put their mouths where their money is — i.e. put up or shut up — they will be exposed as charlatans every time. In many ways Lieberman, et al. have been doing our work by constantly screaming “anti-psychiatry” even where there is none — it shows the power of the term. We should not be defensive about being “anti” ANYTHING that is WRONG. That’s not ideological, it’s simply moral.

  • The general consciousness is definitely growing on many levels. I guess that since critical psychiatry rests on a mostly sincere (though objectively unsupportable) hope that psychiatry could somehow be “reformed,” those who follow such reform attempts with optimistic anticipation and “non-partisan” attitudes may learn valuable lessons from the disillusionment of seeing their hopes crushed. On the other hand it seems that real people will be damaged in these experiments when the conclusions are eminently predictable.

    It would also seem that the logical progression is from critical psychiatry to anti-psychiatry.

  • Great to hear from you Phil. The silence has been deafening. 🙂

    Members of the MIA community, the following statement could be quite effectively and legitimately inserted as a disclaimer prior to every MIA article which mentions “mental illness” or psychiatric “research”:

    “[P]sychiatry is inherently unreformable because its primary thesis is false.Once psychiatrists begin to acknowledge the illness falsehood — which is the underpinning of their entire structure — then their very reason for existing evaporates. As the mental illness hoax becomes increasingly exposed, it becomes commensurately clear that the psychiatric “treatment” of these non-illnesses is nothing more than drug-pushing, differing in no essential respect from the street corner variety.”

    Once the logical, scientific, and linguistic impossibility of “mental illness” is truly appreciated the discussion should end. Further “research” based on an acceptance of this incontrovertible falsehood — no matter how many millions of dollars back it up — is inherently flawed and meaningless, as it is based on demonstrably false precepts.

    The above is not a “good point” to be tossed around at gatherings of “progressive” professionals. It is an ongoing reality that is oppressing and killing millions of people.

    Thanks again, Phil!

  • Don’t know why this is addressed to me, and don’t know why it takes Frank to help you form your line. You seem to be ignoring the various points I’ve been making in favor of assuming I’m making an argument for or against “abolition.” No one has yet explained the difference between “abolish,” eliminate” or “end.” This is getting way too academic and repetitive.

  • I think he would have been outraged. Actually he just died recently so there are probably some writings about this on his site.

    It doesn’t matter though, Szasz’s contribution wasn’t his politics, but his spot-on deconstruction of psychiatric bullshit.

    Also, on a “yes, but…” note, it remains undeniable that some of the best anti-psychiatry documentaries have been done by CCHR/Scientology (without promoting their own “brand”).

  • I also think strengthening communities and family will mean going to a psychiatrist is unnecessary.

    It already is unnecessary, in fact it’s destructive. Don’t feed the myth that we need “alternatives to psychiatry.” Human support is not an “alternative to psychiatry,” as psychiatry doesn’t provide anything remotely similar.

    Not that I don’t get what you’re saying, it’s the semantics again.

  • I am likewise free to only be part of grouping which hold fast to abolitionism and to encourage that understanding of antipsychiatry.

    Even when this excludes people who say the same things in their own words?

    The goal of social work is supposedly to make social work unnecessary, yet it has become a permanent part of western capitalist society. I would hate to have that happen to anti-psychiatry, i.e. become institutionalized to the degree where it depends on the continued existence of psychiatry. And I still don’t get the difference between “ending” and “abolishing” psychiatry, or using any number of other synonyms.

    Btw you are of course to be highly commended for “keeping watch” while the U.S. movement disintegrated and became hopelessly coopted. On a personal note, I never “left the movement” as to me it’s all one movement, I just moved from the anti-psych department to fighting racism and imperialism on other fronts. (After about a 5 year period of partying and hanging out with hippies, anarchists and squatters.)

  • P.S. I don’t think that “intolerance” of “abolitionist” language is the problem, it’s the insistence that one can only be anti-psychiatry if they DO use it. It seems more like a loyalty oath or something at this point.

  • The left (most of whom I am actually to the left of, surprisingly), is so consumed fighting stigma that it can’t see the forest for the trees and can’t see how their efforts to be “born this way” is actually increasing stigma and silencing abuse victims.

    Hear! Anyone who thinks that “fighting stigma” is anything but a backhanded scheme to promote psychiatry is drinking the Kool-Aid for sure!

  • She was anti-psychiatry, Frank, on a personal level if not a tactical one. Many of her positions on this stuff were similar to yours. Without her the movement would not have become what it was. I knew Judi well and spent considerable movement as well as “party” time with her from 1976 till the early 80’s and remained in occasional contact thereafter. I’m not trying to get into “movement gossip,” but to provide some historical clarification. The vanguard of the movement WAS anti-psychiatry in its basic approach, and this is confirmed by the 1982 Toronto principles, which were modeled on those originally drawn up for the Boston conference six years earlier, which was sponsored by Mental Patients’ Liberation Front. And what Judi said about “antipsychiatrists” was absolutely accurate. Not that I didn’t have disagreements with her at times, but that’s irrelevant.

  • But this is just completing another lap in the circle, as part of the issue is ambiguity of terms and what they mean in practice. Anyway, just saying that trying to achieve closure by cutting off debate may be justifiable in an emergency situation but this is hardly that.

  • You limit the numbers of recruits you might have, and alienate potential recruits that way. It also increases the difficulty of arguing for abolition of coercive psychiatry. It makes antipsychiatry, as Ron pointed out, too easy to dismiss.

    This is defeatist logic whether you or Ron use it. If something is correct you don’t water it down to please people. Isn’t that what happened with “Mindfreedom”? We need more than names on a list. We need activists.

    If there isn’t any non-coercive treatment, all the more reason for calling for the abolition of coercive treatment.

    If it is determined that there isn’t any non-coercive treatment it would eliminate any reason NOT to use the term abolition.

  • I don’t “believe in” mental illness period. Maybe your family is in the habit of cultivating a sense of hopelessness or internalized self-loathing and passing the same patterns on to the next generation, or of interpreting any “negative” emotion as “depression,” or a million other things. All psychiatric research is flawed in its assumptions.

  • What about the fact that the entire profession is based on a mythical and impossible construct? Once one has gone through the looking-glass to what avail is rationality?

    Those you mention are commenting far more upon themselves than anything when they hurl insults and ad hominems; it seems that you should be able to easily point out what they are doing when they bring up Scientology as an “argument.” This clearly violates multiple rules of logic; demonstrate this and you win the argument, at least in the eyes of the unbiased observer.

  • I AM abolitionist, OldHead, I’m just not abolitionist of non-coercive psychiatry.

    I said earlier here somewhere that it would be a good project — though not necessarily here — to explore any aspects of psychiatry which might be considered “non-coercive” to ascertain whether this is really the case.

    Meanwhile we’re all basically arguing about exactly what way we want to see psychiatry disappear.

    I agree that there need be no “time limits” to any particular discussion here if there’s a chance that some sort of elucidation may eventually occur. Is someone due to catch a train?

  • Laing and Cooper’s so-called “anti-psychiatry” was not really antipsychiatry properly understood, and that therefore Szasz was not rejecting true antipsychiatry, but the fake “anti-psychiatry” of Laing and Cooper

    I agree with the gist of this though some may quibble about details — Szasz was talking about antipsychiatry as a school of psychiatry, which he rightly opposed. But he also opposed outlawing psychiatry, as he saw this as freedom of choice. As you mention, the primary contribution of Szasz was his deconstruction of the medical model and hence psychiatry itself, not his personal politics. (Btw what is an “extreme” libertarian? — I thought you were a libertarian.)

    In practice, the 1970’s mental patients’ liberation movement was the first true anti-psychiatry movement — at least as practiced by the “vanguard” groups in California, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. It was held together as much by passion as analysis, but remains the example to which subsequent efforts must be compared. (See the quote from Judi Chamberlin in my related post.)

  • While doing some research on how survivor leadership was maintained during the peak of the mental patients’ liberation movement of the 70’s I came upon this brief but interesting quote by Judi Chamberlin (the “godmother” of the movement) referring to the term “anti-psychiatry”; I thought I’d share it:

    Although the terms have often been used interchangeably, “mental patients” liberation” (or “psychiatric inmates’ liberation”) and “anti-psychiatry” are not the same thing. “Anti-psychiatry” is largely an intellectual exercise of academics and dissident mental health professionals. There has been little attempt within anti-psychiatry to reach out to struggling ex-patients or to include their perspective. . (Judi wrote this in 1990.)

    Since we seem to be getting closer to a point where these issues are again relevant, I would say in retrospect that, in effect, the “mental patients'” movement WAS the anti-psychiatry movement at that time, even as Cooper et al. commandeered the term itself. I know that as 1980 approached more and more people were using the terms interchangeably. That all ended with the advent of “Alternatives” and the “peer” industry.

  • Moreover, people surely have a right to have their own bottom lines and to organize and group together on the basis of these. And clearly psychiatry abolition is a bottom line for a huge number of us.

    Bonnie, I believe you well know that I personally have no problem with the term “abolition” and use it interchangeably with others. Lest any newcomers to this discussion infer otherwise, my currently preferred set of proposed principles defining anti-psychiatry ends with the statement “Psychiatry cannot be reformed, it must be abolished.”

    But this is not about my personal opinion. My comments here revolve around, not the semantics of the term “abolish,” but the pressuring, both here and elsewhere, of people such as Frank (the most vocal but there are others) who are clearly anti-psychiatry and identify as such — and, more importantly, have demonstrated that their commitment goes beyond words — but are being hounded and chastised for not accepting one term vs. another similar one. And in this case, since “abolish” has not been clearly defined in a consistent way, pressuring people to use it is inexplicable and diverts us from more strategic considerations.

    I will restate that anti-psychiatry means simply “against psychiatry.” There is no dictionary definition; it is being defined by ourselves in the course of advancing the process. If one who opposes psychiatry does not believe that psychiatry should be “improved,” or that we need “alternatives,” I would challenge anyone to show why that person should not be considered “anti-psychiatry.”

    HOW to work against psychiatry is the question for now and the future. Numerous formations of anti-psychiatry activists are crystallizing as we speak, some survivor-led, some existing and “coalition” based, etc.; in order to work together in harmony without backbiting and authoritarianism, there needs to be freedom to question anything and express dissenting opinions, even if it sometimes seems a waste of time. This is what democracy looks like.

  • Not sure why this is addressed to me, but I do support her lawsuit, probably (haven’t actually examined it). That doesn’t mean we’re obliged to support all the pro-psychiatry confusion or naivete expressed on the website.

  • I notice for example that when I critique psychiatrists or those who support bad practice, they usually immediately want to label me “antipsychiatry”

    Which shows how much they fear and loathe the term, thus how much power it has and why it should be embraced. It brings those occasionally obscured lines between “professional” and “person” into sharper focus — especially when they start “accusing” you of something which should be a no brainer anyway (and which you are not, at least not at the moment).

    And again, labeling life as a disease is a bad practice.

  • So I guess I’ll at make at least a couple premeditated assertions rather than simply reacting to other comments.

    I think the most significant thing about the blog and commentary is that it represents a milestone of sorts, i.e. the point where modern anti-psychiatry discourse has grown to the stage of having factions. This is encouraging to an extent: arguing over the politically correct way of framing anti-psychiatry is at least raising the level of discussion, as it moves the “middle ground” closer to an anti-psychiatry consensus. This is better than spinning our wheels and endlessly reinventing them in repetitive debates over “critical” vs. anti-psychiatry.

    Nonetheless, there’s too much of an “armchair revolutionary” aspect to this argument about the semantics of anti-psychiatry and “abolition,” and too much clubbing each other over the head with competing interpretations of linguistic innuendo. There are many openings which could be explored if the intent is truly to unite the greatest number of activists around an anti-psychiatry consensus. For just one example, how about making an effort to identify aspects of psychiatry which are not “coercive” — or to study whether this is even possible; if it is definitively concluded that “voluntary” psychiatry is a myth, outlawing coercion might be literally equivalent to abolishing psychiatry. And then all this would be moot.

    It seems to me that in any case the 1-2 punch of outlawing coercive “treatment” combined with delegitimizing psychiatry as a field of medicine would have the effect of eliminating psychiatry as a mass threat. How to get there is what we really should be starting to figure out and focus on if we’re serious about this, not what to call it when we do. In my book one is anti-psychiatry if they would like to see psychiatry gone, and harbor no illusions about “improving” it or about needing “alternatives.” Figuring out how to get to that point is something we should be doing cooperatively, as in the end this is not a debating competition, but supposedly an attempt at discourse.

    There’s a lot of yin-yang going on here. On one hand it’s important to have specifically-defined terms which mean the same things to everybody, and to carefully and dispassionately discuss, debate and argue the comparative merits of each. On the other, as my oft-cited boyhood hero Abbie Hoffman once said, “Words are the ultimate in horseshit!” 🙂

  • No substantial victories, plus if they’re taken away they’re not victories. We still have a long way to go before we can claim such. Unless we define victory in very modest terms. And I don’t mean “moral” victories.

  • I don’t know why Frank is expected to come up with some sort of resolution here, as this debate did not begin with this blog and will surely not end with it. There is a context missing for those who are entering this maelstrom for the first time.

    Even when Frank’s logic seems circular he reflects the reservations of at least some others others who consider themselves anti-psychiatry and not “abolitionist,” but understandably don’t want to put their heads on the chopping block.

    Dragonslayer, I know from his past statements on MIA that Frank is highly influenced by Szasz’s dislike for the term antipsychiatry as used by Cooper et al., as well as Szasz’s libertarian opposition to ending anything other than “involuntary” psychiatry. (Of course, as with anything, the devil is in the details, and the definitions.) But Frank in his way basically said the same thing others are pointing out: I would argue instead that there is not much non-coercive psychiatry at all.

    (DS, I must wonder about your ascription of the truism that there are different levels of coercion to “Bonnie and Richard,” as I and numerous others here without “professional” status have pointed out the same thing. Is this possibly an unconscious and internalized tendency — as I have identified in myself — to give more credence to those with “credentials”? Because this is also form of “mental slavery” from which “survivors” need to liberate ourselves.)

  • I start out not by telling them that mental illness isn’t real. Instead I point out how none of the treatments actually seem to work.

    That’s technically irrelevant. “Work” to do what? Make someone more “manageable” or less annoying to others? By those standards psych “treatments” often “work,” to the detriment of the “patient.”

  • Better Life, this is one of my greatest fears about aging — trying to reject something I consider a dangerous drug or procedure, then having an ageist system define me as incapable of making reasonable decisions and forcing on me whatever they choose. Especially if I had cancer of some sort.

    We have allies in this fight potentially, especially as the vaccine industry pushes through more & more laws “for the children” requiring parents to “vaccinate” them with god knows what toxic concoctions.

  • Uprising is absolutely correct that eliminating force is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to eliminate psychiatry.

    In your opinion. Until it happens all this is speculation. And like I said, it depends on how one defines “force.” For now it is not an unreasonable argument that eliminating force could set the dominoes in motion, so to claim that someone who holds this position is not truly anti-psychiatry is counterproductive, and certainly not a way to unify people who basically want the same thing but have differences on how to get there; this stifles discussion and makes people hesitant about getting involved at all.

    In response to Uprising, who knows? It’s not a choice, the two are interrelated, and we need to approach this from all angles simultaneously; obviously at this point we aren’t anywhere close to either.

    For me it’s key to recognize that psychiatry is not a rogue branch of medicine but a parallel police system essentially responsible for “thought crimes.” We should not be focusing our efforts on getting those who profit from the system to “change” any more than we should be fighting the prison system by appealing to prison guards — not that either of these is impossible, but it’s a question of available energy and resources, and probabilities.

  • stripping psychiatry of the power which it has, cutting the special relationship with the state, and eliminating it as a recognized field of medicine would in itself constitute abolition.

    Exactly, that’s what I said. So to nitpick about what word to use is diversionary. Lets start discussing how to get to that point, whatever semantics one chooses. If people would like to see psychiatry gone and not “improved” they are anti-psychiatry.

  • Being critical of bad (well, most) psychiatry is a much stronger position.

    Semantics aside, all psychiatry presents itself as a field of medicine; as such, even if individuals may sometimes benefit from something they encounter in the course of psychiatric involvement, this is not because of but in spite of the psychiatric milieu. So in terms of its basic presuppositions — i.e. the existence of “mental illness” — all psychiatry is bad. To be opposed to it is the strongest position of all and has the greatest moral resonance as well.

  • I want to abolish ‘forced treatment’ only” is a reformist argument because ending forced “treatment” is necessary but not sufficient to constitute an anti-psychiatry position.

    I disagree in terms of pragmatism if not in principle.

    While I have often offered my analysis that a position cannot generally be considered anti-psychiatry if psychiatry could adapt and continue on basically unscathed, the issue of involuntary “treatment” is a fence straddler. Theoretically psychiatry could continue as a profession, at least for some time, without court-ordered compliance.

    But if one considers coercion as the essence of psychiatry — as I think Uprising said here elsewhere — it is also arguable that elimination of coercive psychiatry would ensure the collapse of psychiatry in general within a relative short time. Especially if “coercive” were not narrowly defined as “court-ordered.” So again we’re back to arguing semantics.

    There is no “correct” way to “do” anti-psychiatry, it is obviously a work in progress. Once we have achieved some actual victories — of which we have had exactly zero over the past forty years — we will be in a better position to make such evaluations.

  • defines “antipsychiatry” as “an approach to mental disorders that makes use of concepts derived from existentialism, psychoanalysis, and sociological theory

    Yeah, Wikipedia talks a lot of nonsense too. Would anyone go to Wikipedia to explore their own history?

    Anti-psychiatry is a program for action, not a school of philosophy, and as such can only be defined by those who are engaged in it.

  • If Psychiatry is someday stripped of its medical license (which is a KEY STEP towards abolishing Psychiatry) then it will no longer BE Psychiatry anymore. Those people will now be ONLY practicing some type of THERAPY and BECOME some type of THERAPIST. They will NO LONGER BE A DOCTOR PRACTICING PSYCHIATRY. If they choose to continuing working with people as if they are a DOCTOR, they will be breaking the law and justly punished for committing a crime that could potentially harm people.

    This is a key point. We could argue forever about whether we’re “fighting,” “opposing,” “ending” or “abolishing” psychiatry, the point is to DO IT! The reality is that when psychiatry is delegitimized as a field of medicine and involuntary “treatment” is outlawed, psychiatry will be effectively kaput. (BTW delegitimization should not be spoken of in terms of “someday,” it should be a basic program of the anti-psychiatry “movement” worldwide.)

    No doubt even then there will be some who continue to call themselves “psychiatrists” and consult people using that label. But as a parallel policing apparatus it will be a spent force.

    One problem with this is that the A.M.A. is also a corrupt monolith which should not be considered the authority on what is considered “medicine.” Either anyone should be able to call themselves a “doctor” or no one should. Most people who “voluntarily” see psychiatrists and are not facing forced commitment are still responding to the influence of a monolithic media, school and employer pressure, and corporate totalitarianism in general.

  • I just assume that when someone says they want to abolish psychiatry, they are referring to the medical field

    KS, don’t want to seem too nitpicky but a big problem with this sort of debate is that a lot of people are assuming what they think others mean by the term and what it implies, rather than there being a clear and commonly accepted definition.

    Frank & I are not exactly simpatico on a lot of things, but I concur with his basic objection to being told that unless he uses the term “abolition” in his pronouncements he is not truly anti-psychiatry; one can check not only his comment history here, but his extensive (largely) self-exploration of the vicissitudes of defining anti-psychiatry in the organizing forum.

  • I doubt that many antipsychiatrists would argue that abolishing force would be a good first step.

    How many “antipsychiatrists” are you familiar with? While there is no “official” definition of what constitutes anti-psychiatry, I believe that a majority of those who define themselves as such would consider the abolition of force as the paramount issue, as well as the best way to cripple and ultimately topple the industry. Without force and the threat of force if one doesn’t comply voluntarily, the major underpinnings of psychiatry’s political and economic base would be gone.

    Still to go would have to be official sanctions of psychiatry as a field of medicine, as well as state sanction of psychiatry in courts, prisons, schools, etc. Psychiatric drugs need not be outlawed, but presenting them as “medications” would be considered fraud.

  • I don’t think laying down a dogma that says ‘If you are not for abolishing psychiatry you are not antipsychiatry’ is particularly helpful. In fact, I would think that it would aid those who want to insult us by calling us “fringe”

    Two separate issues here. I agree with the first sentence. From what I have seen the terms are somewhat interchangeable, and it does seem that among those who have come to an anti-psychiatry perspective (as opposed to a “critical psychiatry” one), a majority also like to call themselves “abolitionists.” However I think this is largely semantics and not worth drawing ideological battle lines over. Especially until those who use the term “abolitionist” specifically define which definition of the term they mean.

    However, as per the second argument about basing what we do on what others might say, I couldn’t disagree more. We must base our analyses and actions on what is CORRECT. Possessing the truth is ultimately the best way of attracting support in the end, especially once it is finally recognized that one has maintained an unpopular but correct position in the face of resistance and even slander.

  • I do consider myself an abolitionist of the medical model of psychiatry

    Ah. But psychiatry and the medical model are one and the same; there is no other “model” within the psychiatric realm. Psychiatry defines mental and emotional states in disease terms, hence the requirement that psychiatrists have a medical degree. Hence, since “mental disease” is an absurd and impossible concept, the essence of psychiatry is fraud.

    What people call “therapy” is a separate issue. Although the term implies a health issue, which is a big problem, “therapy” can means anything the “therapist” wants. Sometimes, depending on the individual “therapist” people can find help in this way. But this is not psychiatry, although some psychiatrists do engage in what they call therapy. However they are also likely to add drugs to the mix and call them “medications,” which turns it into a fraudulent and criminal enterprise. At least it would be considered such in a rational society.

    I would agree that you should wear the term “radical” with pride rather than being defensive. To mean it means going to the root of a problem.

  • “Radical” means getting at the root of the problem. Do you not see that the experience you describe here was made possible by your psychiatric history?

    Psychiatry is based on the ludicrous assumption that a mind can have a “disease,” and the problem is compounded by the prescribing of neurotoxins as “medicine.” I would suggest reading some material by Thomas Szasz, as well as Robert Whitaker. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

    P.S. I have totally written off the establishment & suggest you consider the same. Then and only then will we accomplish anything of lasting significance.

  • Lauren — Welcome to the struggle. You are passionate and motivated, but you still have a long way to go in your understanding of the problem.

    I quote from your website: We are not anti-psychiatry, or anti-drugs. Both have their uses, and have helped many of us. We only oppose violations of patients’ human rights by the psychiatric establishment

    Why are you NOT anti-psychiatry??? Where do you get the idea the psychiatry or its poisons have ever “helped” anyone? As soon as anyone is made into a “patient” it is a violation of human rights. And these are not particularly radical statements.

    Hang out here for about a year and I bet people will disabuse you of your naivete. This is not criticism. We need people like you. But so far you have only scratched the surface of the problem. Looking forward to further communication.

  • I’m sure it would work, it’s just making my head hurt. 🙂 Wouldn’t it be simpler for whichever of us ends up emailing the other first to then post a designated snippet here under our screen name as validation?

    I think Hana Valle is still the moderator and can be internally contacted via the “contact us” option under the “About” section at the upper right of the MIA site. (I already told her it was ok to relay my email add. to you.)

  • Julie,

    I think the main differences are the exponentially increasing use of CMH centers and “outmate” drugging.

    We must have different definitions; by mine we have no movement whatever in the U.S. Movements move and do things, they’re not just collections of people with similar grievances. I don’t see much of that going on right now. (Of course by “movement” I mean anti-psychiatry movement.)

  • Pretty cloak & dagger. It would be definitely good to have an internal message service here. Which makes me think — if you ask the current moderator to give you my email it can be seen that I approve from this message. Or you could ask them to send me yours. Not that I’m MIA’s favorite person at the moment but you could try; I believe it’s been done before.

  • This is interesting. Some of what you mention sounds almost verbatim to informal discussions which have been already taking place among a number of survivors and others interested in establishing an anti-psychiatry network of some sort. Especially:

    — Mental illness is a myth
    — Psychiatric diagnoses are invalid
    — Psychiatric drugs are not medication
    — Coercive treatment is the cornerstone of psychiatry

    Unless I already know you, do you have a public email or way to get in touch (if you’re interested in further discussion)?

    PS What for many currently serves as the “manifesto” of our dormant movement
    are the principles drawn up at the 1982 Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression in Toronto:

  • Robin — I think we’re on the same page here. Even if one puts quotes around “schizophrenia,” or calls “it” something else, they are acknowledging “it” as a real thing, to which I always end up saying there’s no “it” there. It’s not a true category of anything, just a lazy way for people to pretend they know what’s going on with others. And accepting that there is an “it” and you “have it” is to allow oneself to be defined by psychiatry.

    On another more curious note, is it ever the case that those “command voices” may just be overdramatic in trying to warn or scold you about something, and are not meant to be taken literally?

    On Mad Pride — Having experienced the empowering effect of Howie the Harp singing his legendary song “Crazy and Proud” back in the 70’s, I don’t want my previous comments to be misinterpreted.

    I think of “Mad Pride” in the sense of “if that’s what you call crazy then yeah, I’m SUPER crazy.” Abbie Hoffman once said “the movement doesn’t need leaders, we need cheerleaders.” I think Mad Pride a great attitude, as we definitely need to develop more brashness in the face of “mental health” arrogance. Still it will take a serious and creatively organized political movement to end psychiatry once and for all.

  • “Vehemently agree?” Interesting phrasing. 🙂

    I don’t think we should have to persuade people that we’re oppressed before we demand liberation, but sure, lots of things about psychiatry need to be exposed to help create that critical mass of opposition. It doesn’t have to be in any particular order i.m.o.

  • To me, “Mad” is to schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, etc. what “queer” is to homosexuality disorder, gender identity disorder, etc. All are real experiences

    All these are false categories however, as is any “mental disorder.” To talk about the “correct” way to refer to a myth is a contradiction in terms. So I would not characterize “Owl’s” position as truly anti-psychiatry in nature, at least technically.

    While all people’s experiences are real, they are also unique and can not be legitimately categorized without reducing people to predictable and quantifiable data. One person’s response to any given form of oppression can be completely different on many levels than another’s, and this urge to reduce thought, feeling and behavior to understandable categories is a questionable goal itself.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would far rather be called crazy or mad than “ill,” in any context, as there is no pretense of science or objectivity in such terms. Your last comment reminds me of an old photo in Madness Network News (Summer ’76 I think) of an activist from NAPA holding a sign saying “Women aren’t mad, they’re angry.”

    Also, I know you’re pretty busy here but suggest you check out Tina Minkowitz’s article and the comment section, which gets into some other serious considerations regarding the campaign to end psychiatry.

  • Some of us are currently involved in some fairly circular arguments about the nature of “abolition,” “coercion,” etc. and many of these same issues are arising.

    Something I want to address here, which I don’t see being approached this way even by most anti-psych people, is the subtext in the whole notion of “alternatives,” as we often face the argument that “you can’t get rid of it unless you have an alternative.” This argument only works if one accepts the implied assumption that psychiatry currently serves a human need, albeit poorly, so to eliminate it would leave people in the lurch. However if one sees psychiatry as primarily a form of domestic repression which serves alongside the prison system to suppress the populace, the “alternatives” argument falters. It makes about as much sense as saying that we can’t eliminate racism or homophobia without an “alternative.”

    There are human needs, material and spiritual, which need to be met by a just culture as a matter of course. Filling them does not constitute an “alternative to psychiatry” any more than eating is an “alternative to starvation.” The fact that those who can’t function in a toxic system are labeled and tortured by psychiatry doesn’t mean that providing them with what they actually need constitutes an “alternative,” or justifies an argument that “it’s a good thing we at least had psychiatry until we discovered a better alternative.” The alternative to psychiatry is no psychiatry.

    How to achieve “delegitimization” would be a heady matter to tackle; first it would have to be adopted by enough people as a serious goal. It would involve lots of people becoming super-skilled at explaining to absurdities of the medical model to both “street-level” people and the “mainstream,” as well as those within the mh apparatus (a lower priority). Once the literal impossibility of “mental illness” and the manipulation of metaphor involved in the concept lose their “emperor’s new clothes” power to spellbind, and an average 14 year old can understand how ludicrous the idea actually is, it might then be seen as prudent by an already embattled AMA establishment to cut its losses and cut psychiatry loose to preserve some of its credibility.

    Anyway that’s one scenario that comes to mind. It would require a multi-faceted, multi-front “attack.” Hard to say whether it’s strategically better to go after involuntary “treatment” first or this, but they definitely go hand in hand.

  • I would take it further and say that psychiatric diagnoses are assaults on one’s personhood and a form of hate speech.

    Back to the “delegitimization” thing — it should be considered as a reasonable demand simply because it makes sense; psychiatry is not and could never be “medicine,” and is fraud by definition This step would not necessarily eradicate psychiatry by itself, but would cut out its underpinnings to a great degree, and would logically lead to psychiatric “medications” being viewed more as drugs of abuse outside a legitimate medical context, or forms of legal recreational drugs (which in many or most cases would soon be rejected by the popular market in favor of better and safer substances).

    Likewise, the end of coercive psychiatry would bring a virtual end to billions of dollars in profits from salaries,drugs, court cases, etc. Both steps combined would reduce the psychiatric industry to a few thousand lone psychoanalytically oriented “psychiatrists” in name only “treating” voluntary clients. Since a medical degree would be of little use at that point the field as such would fade away.

    In terms of the day after tomorrow, all this falls into the “dream on” category of course. But in terms of what direction we should go and what we should be demanding, I go with the old slogan “Be realistic, demand the impossible.” 🙂

    One more thought about demands since I’m talking to a lawyer (I may have asked this before) — shouldn’t we also be demanding that psychiatric interrogations which could lead to involuntary commitments be subject to all Miranda requirements?

  • I’d have to think about it more to properly articulate but a) I don’t really have the right to an opinion about how gay people may choose to self-identify and b) I don’t draw a direct analogy between the two cases. Gay people know they’re gay, it’s a real thing they’re being persecuted over and so to “reclaim” slurs with boastfulness and pride makes sense. However “madness” is not a real thing and in many cases is a designation made by others; it is not an actual category of people but an oppressive term often functioning to invalidate people’s feelings and perceptions. So I don’t think it’s a thing to reclaim, but to reject. (Anyone who can take this line of thought further?) It’s no biggie though, terms such as crazy and mad have many positive connotations as well. I just don’t see it as a political issue.

  • I still don’t get the Mad Pride thing as I consider being considered “mad” a judgement or slur; plus I think that self-respect and self-love should be assumed, so can’t conceive of even putting myself in the position to experience one of these cult-like situations. Maybe you’re not anti-psychiatry enough.

    Anyway, just wanted to add my two points about “stigma”: 1) It is inherent in any “mental health” so-called diagnosis; 2) It is simply other people’s bigotry towards the psychiatrically labeled, no more, no less, and is not the responsibility of the targeted person to “overcome.”

  • It is hard for many people to imagine what mental health would even look like if the state’s coercive power in this field were simply removed and taken out of the equation.

    Many believe that if not for the ability to coerce psychiatry would disappear in short order. Coercion, of course, is more than forced “treatment.” It also includes “voluntary” situations entered into under the threat of court commitment, those “screenings” you mention embedded into “real” health care, and pharma propaganda constantly spewed by the media they own. Psychiatry needs to lose its accreditation as a field of medicine and the right to dispense neurotoxins as “medication,” as well as the ability to present psychiatric opinion as “expert” testimony. Once we can dispense with all this psychiatry’s own support system will have vanished and its effectual demise would follow shortly thereafter.

  • I disagree with you, Frank and Oldhead about making NAMI a focus of criticism.

    No idea where you’re coming from with this, though I suspect that you think that this is an argument about good vs. bad “science” going on here, and that the most logical side wins. This disregards the fact that psychiatry is primarily about social control and domestic repression, and that NAMI is probably the most effective (ostensibly) non-governmental organization responsible for enslaving people to psychiatric drugs and the corresponding ideologies of self-hate (“diagnoses”), which it encourages people to internalize. Psychiatry will only go away when it is rejected by those it professes to serve. NAMI is there to solicit “consumers” of all this. Why in the world would it NOT be a primary focus, not for “criticism,” but for concerted ACTION?

  • Frank is on target about making NAMI a focus of any eventual move we might make as a movement, which might be more personal and directly confrontational, and less symbolic than simply shouting outside whatever opulent palace the APA is inhabiting during its annual corporate celebration.

  • The major collusion between Psychiatry and Big Pharma that began in the late 1970’s was the advent of Biological Psychiatry

    Thorazine was created in or around 1950. There was no qualitative difference between psychiatry in the late 60’s and the late 90’s that would justify giving the latter a different name. “Biological psychiatry” is just more of the same. And using the term as though it means any more than it does could lead some to believe that we don’t need to eliminate ALL psychiatry, just the “biological” kind.

  • I join in the plaudits. Something I react to whenever I read something like this however:

    we focused on its institutional behavior since 1980, when the American Psychiatric Association published the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This was when the APA adopted its disease model for categorizing mental disorders, with the profession then taking up the task of selling this new model to the public. This was the particular guild interest that arose in 1980, and has shaped its behavior ever since.

    This gives the impression that before 1980 psychiatry did not have a “disease model,” when the very existence of psychiatry as a supposed branch of medicine is predicated on the assumption that there are “mental diseases.” WAY before 1980 I was woken up every morning on the psych ward to the cry of “MEDICATIONS!” — and they weren’t for heartburn.

    All these DSM’s have ever done is play around with labels; psychiatry has purported to treat diseases since its inception.

  • I don’t care if he changes. These are not the people I’m interested in uniting with in any but the broadest terms — certainly I’m not going to validate his delusions of his own importance when he thinks he has the right to squelch us; by advocating for this he has clearly aligned himself against us. My goal is to change the balance of power so that the opinions of him and his ilk don’t matter either way. If he reaches a point where he wants to recant his attitude and start fighting the real enemy I’m sure people would be open to that and give him a chance.

  • Given this guy’s attitude (as well as his statements) I have no idea why you think he in any way shares your goal of bringing down the system. He seems much more interested in being a revered spokesperson for liberal “critical psychiatry” platitudes. And he is appealing to MIA to censor our irritating “survivor criticisms” so he doesn’t have to “waste time” having to read them. Fuck that. For me that’s the only issue here right now.

  • Excellent commentary Sa.

    I wonder and worry deeply why removing the non professional or ‘personal experience’ voice would seem to some professionals to be a solution to this issue.

    Isn’t that the good old Amerikan way — if you can’t deal with something kill it?

    I didn’t realize he had actually proposed that — I haven’t been reading his posts carefully, especially since the first one or two (I do have a life, believe it or not).

    So it looks like Brett has declared war on survivors. Let this be noted. Bring it on.

  • I have seen this threat to close down discussions used before — such as in response to people discussing psychiatric slavery. Though I normally don’t think we should bother R. Whitaker over comments, I suggest people make their feelings known to him on this, as it threatens the very existence of MIA (which despite its flaws is serving a valuable function).

  • Your comment about having to waste time “…arguing with those [survivors] who want to abolish all mental health professions, regard science as worthless, and so on…” is a gross exaggeration of how these views get expressed here. A very tiny minority here at MIA express views that “all mental health” professionals should be abolished.”

    What about all the time people who could be engaging in activism waste arguing with this guy’s ignorance and arrogance?

    You seem sort of defensive with this guy. Science is worth as much as the goal into which it is directed, it has no value in and of itself. And count me as part of that “tiny minority” that wants to abolish all “mental health professions.” Let Brett prove me wrong if he wants to try.

  • Don’t want to bicker as you’ve done an extraordinary job here deconstructing these attempted guilt trips and other manipulations. All I’M saying is, these comments deserve to be dismissed.

    I note that this “Brett” guy first opted out in response to my following statement:

    When the purpose of an institution is to oppress people it must be abolished, no matter what pretense is offered for its existence. We don’t need “alternative” forms of repression.

    These are not “personal attacks”; they are basic anti-psychiatry principles.

  • But the reverse is also true — people making no attempt to see the good in what a professional is doing, instead bending over backwards to find fault and assume the worst, sometimes missing the point of a blog entirely or reacting to things the writer didn’t even say.”

    So you’re talking about “reverse mentalism/sanism”? In power terms you’re drawing an equivalency between the oppressed and the oppressor. There are some white supremacists who are loving fathers, maybe we should take that into account before we criticize them.

    If somebody is misinterpreted I’d say that comes with the territory. Happens to me all the time. They’re literate enough to respond.

  • Sorry I have more important matters if you know what I mean. 🙂

    And I am on the high road, so are you & UR. We’ve just come to a fork, and there’s not necessarily a right or wrong direction; if you find this brouhaha meaningful go for it. I have a hard time respecting any argument made by someone who is content to “pull rank” when their argument starts to look threadbare.

    I see plenty of places where James, Brett et al. may have been misinterpreted, but that’s sort of irrelevant as, again, for me (and I think others) it’s a matter of attitude.

  • The question is why? In this sort of confrontation conscious “survivors” have the high ground no matter what (and this is not “identity politics”). It’s an attitude I’m reacting to, not specific “points.” What is there for survivors to gain here even if this guy condescends to agreeing with this or that “point”? Also it IS self-absorbed, I’m sure you noticed.

    I just have a harder & harder time watching “survivors” passionately arguing with these devoted “professionals” so insecure about their credibility that they are willing to support outright censorship of those who get under their skin. Does this guy have actual clients?