Friday, August 18, 2017

Comments by oldhead

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  • I think I mentioned before to Auntie that her book (I already bought my copy btw) could be destined to become contraband in psych wards, and something all the inmates want to read. People visiting their incarcerated friends could give them a copy, or leave one lying around the day room for others to find.

    Anyway, I can’t say enough positive stuff about this book and encourage you all to get it and see for yourselves.

  • There was no coercion involved, hence no guilt.

    I knew something was weird when I heard about this. Nightline last night featured Dr. Breggin talking about the case but never commented on his assertions about antidepressants being involved. But it was made clear that she believed she was helping her “boyfriend” do something he needed to do, and her statements to him were made out of caring (however convoluted).

  • I guess the immediate question would be what Senator would even be willing to ask such questions, as all politicians are united in their cluelessness about psychiatric oppression, superseded only by their lack of interest in or caring about our true concerns, as opposed to bullshit ones such as “stigma.”

    While I won’t implore anyone to not bash their heads against the wall if they so choose, I believe we should not be distracted by false battles such as these, which have been set up for us to lose, and by the misconception that such people “don’t understand” when in fact they don’t give a shit. We should focus on the day to day process of exposing psychiatry as the fraudulent and repressive tool that it is, and on mobilizing the public to reject it in toto.

  • “Disease” – medical def from Merriam Webster:


    Medical Definition of disease

    : an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions, is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms, and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors

    Granted there’s another definition relating to abstractions, but it is presented as metaphorical, not medical, in nature.

  • The Mental Patient’s Liberation Front (MPLF) informed him that he could only attend as an ex-patient, not as a psychiatric resident, but he felt unable to go as only half of himself. Later, a group formed called Friends of MPLF, and he was finally able to get the support he needed and meet people like Judi Chamberlin, with whom he later collaborated.

    Don’t know what this implies to the author, but it is an approach regarding survivor activists’ relationships with professionals which made sense then and, I believe, makes sense now.

  • So, coercion…I’m thinking out loud here…coercion is relative of course, as all government functions in the end via coercion. So calling something coercive isn’t always an argument for eliminating it, a more specific objection is needed. Obviously coercive psychiatry is oppressive; however all psychiatry is fraudulent by definition. So a question would be, should we ignore the fraud just because the issue of force is more immediate?

    Frank actually frames the situation well in his last statement (which is different from having a consistent analysis): Aside from the socially/economically coercive aspects of public psychiatry, and despite many instances to the contrary, it is possible to have a voluntary interaction with a psychiatrist, just as it is with a fortune teller. However if psychiatrists were kicked out of the medical fraternity, they would not be permitted to dispense drugs as medications. They could theoretically hang out a shingle saying “Psychiatrist,” but without the weapons of psychiatry (force and drugs) they would be just more variations on “therapist.” Which in itself could be construed as abolition depending on which definition you favor.

    As for what Frank calls “public” psychiatry, I agree it’s all coercive by definition and should be abolished by whatever definition of the term one may prefer. And whoever said it, I agree that right now the #1 objective of the movement and related coalitions should be the total abolition of involuntary and coercive psychiatry.

  • So where were we? I guess I’ll start here:

    …it’s not merely a slogan. Abolition of psychiatry is the ultimate goal of the anti-psychiatry movement.

    Whether it’s an empty slogan or not depends on what the person using it is actually doing.

    Just to set some terms of debate, I’d say Uprising’s statement presupposes a lot. There is no unified anti-psychiatry movement at this point in time, so I’d consider it premature if nothing else to be making pronouncements on its behalf. Uprising, I know that for you “abolition” has been clearly defined, but if you ask people here (and especially elsewhere) what it means I think you’d get some widely varying definitions. The same goes for anti-psychiatry as a whole. It’s good to see people paying attention to this rather than pleading “but what about alternatives”; however there are a number of different approaches and schools of thought among those who identify as “anti-psychiatry” (and I’m not just talking about those who mistake it for “critical” psychiatry). We should be searching for a greatest common denominator.

    I’d say this debate has only just begun. We don’t need authoritative “spokespeople” so much as we need to help each other develop the skills of analysis and articulation needed to empower everyone as an “instant” spokesperson ready to spring into action as the situation demands.

    As to the actual issues of coercion etc. I’ll check back after I eat…

  • when I, as somebody who has on occasions been institutionalized raise my voice and talk about what is fundamentally wrong with psychiatry people don’t listen, they just think “gee, that can’t be, that’s so extreme, he’s crazy”

    Rule One: The power of truth is final. When they’re ready for the truth they just might remember they heard it from you first.

    When I tell people that Zyprexa has killed more people than the bombings in Hiroshima they walk away.

    See above response. Even if they don’t eventually come back for more info you will have planted a seed which may eventually blossom without your conscious awareness. Don’t insist on “agreement,” it’s overrated.

    Sure, it helps to be strategic about what battles to prioritize, but there’s no need to be timid either, especially with the truth on your side.

  • KS — “Therapy” is a generic term, and a poor one at that. It can basically mean anything that doesn’t involve drugs or ect. It has basically no meaning so no real conclusions can be drawn until one gets much more specific. “Therapy” and “psychiatry” are generally differentiated from one another, unless the “therapy” includes drugs (in which case I would consider it psychiatry).

    Interestingly, while some of the early anti-psychiatry theorizing preceding the mental patients’ liberation movement came from the pages of The Radical Therapist, the movement became increasingly dismissive of the concept of “radical therapy” as it grew larger.

  • Also:

    at this point it doesn’t matter if it’s reform or anti-psychiatry if the cause is to the large extent the same

    It does matter in the long run, so it should in the short run too. If one realizes that psychiatry is first and foremost an extension of the prison system, not a branch of medicine, then certain immediate demands (such as the end of aggressive force, solitary confinement and torture/drugging) need to be pursued. But this is insufficient in itself. Since psychiatry is not conducted under the aegis of punishment but medicine, there is a simultaneous need to deconstruct the medical pretext as a precondition for formulating effective strategy. Psychiatry is based on logical absurdities and cannot be “reformed” any more than can waterboarding; to reform something it has to possess intrinsic value, however corrupted it may have become.

  • Good to see your creative side coming out Richard. With luck we’ll get to jam someday.

    The original movement had a rich and multi-faceted cultural side. Our Woody Guthrie was Howie T. Harp, legendary founder of Project Release. Somewhere on the web may be some recordings of him singing some of his anti-psychiatry favorites, including “That’s Called Therapy” and “Crazy and Proud.”

  • And unlike some of the complete abolitionists, I don’t see any issue with counseling being their paid vocation if they are truly good at relating with others and building respectful collaborative relationships for the benefit of the person seeking help and change.

    I think you misunderstand what is meant by abolitionism. I would consider myself a “complete abolitionist” among other things, though I shy away from the term when it becomes a “litmus test” of one’s anti-psychiatry credentials. But there is nothing in your above statement I would disagree with; it’s only when counseling is portrayed as “medicine” that it becomes fraud. There are many forms of “therapy” which are not psychiatry per se; though the term itself is problematic, it can mean any number of things good or bad, mainly depending on the individual practitioner.

  • If I yell at them with my Szasz-ean/Focault rant about the incurably fundamentally evil nature of psychiatry they run away

    Don’t know if either Szasz or Foucault would characterize themselves exactly that way, but there’s no need to yell. 🙂

    I think “illogical” or “fraudulent” would be better descriptions, though the end result is certainly evil.

  • Not sure where the points came from but here’s my 2 cents:

    1. Certainly!

    2. Attack the DSM and the disease model on every level Yes, but keep in mind that ALL psychiatry is the “disease model”; otherwise it would not be psychiatry. So the only way to replace the “disease model” would be to eliminate psychiatry.

    3-4. These are more tactics which depend on what a specific situation may involve, rather than “principles” per se. Both are certainly legitimate in the right situation, though we should not limit ourselves to any one arena or tactic.

    5. No, sorry. There is no human need for which the fulfillment of such should be regarded as “treatment,” “alternative” or otherwise. To call the fulfillment of human needs as “alternatives to psychiatry” implies that psychiatry meets these needs in some way, and we’re looking for a “better” way. But all psychiatry is truly interested in is keeping people in line, despite a few individual exceptions.

    6. It goes without saying that no psychiatric procedure or incarceration should be involuntary. Although this is not an “anti-psychiatry” position on the surface, in effect the elimination of involuntary “treatment” would portend the end of psychiatry as a whole.

  • It is difficult to explain to people how much advocacy organizations for mental health are under the control of the mental health industry.

    That’s because they are NOT advocacy groups, they are system apologists. The faux-“Alternatives” conference and related networks are what destroyed the real movement long ago, a great crime from which it is only beginning to recover. The sooner they collapse under their own weight the better.

  • Last year at this time I, along with “Surviving and Thriving,” had just finished attempting to alert MIA’ers and others to the scam being pulled off in Congress to ramrod “Murphy” through under cover of the July 4th holiday. They announced on the Friday of that weekend that a vote would be held immediately after the House returned from the holiday, thus upending all the professional “advocates” who had also taken the weekend off and been caught unprepared to fight this maneuver (although a competent anti-Murphy campaign could easily have anticipated the move). So on July 6, 2016 the House suspended its rules to allow Murphy to sail through the House with a “bipartisan” vote of 422-2, the two “no” votes being cast by conservative Republicans.

    As had been made clear throughout the evolution of Murphy from a totalitarian fantasy to a full-fledged law, the impetus for the bill was “preventing violence.”

    In a similar “bipartisan” maneuver during the subsequent Thanksgiving holiday, key elements of both the House and Senate “Murphy” bills were passed as an amendment to the 21st Century Cures act and are now law.

    While it was necessary for us to put up a token resistance to these last-minute maneuvers by Congress we were up against a monolithic opposition. Even when Elizabeth Warren and Bernie railed against 21st Century Cures they were silent about the provisions which reinforce psychiatric oppression.

    So we should be careful where we concentrate our limited energy. Unless there is a vast coalition involved, trying to pressure Congress is futile, which is why there are so many system types encouraging us to do just that. To a typical congress person doing a “flash card” exercise, the response to “mental patient” is “violence,” which means we need to be kept in our place.

    PS Kindred Spirit is thinking strategically regarding the funding situation. Also, those desperately trying to preserve Obamacare should keep in mind that much if not all of “Murphy” depends on ACA funding.

  • We can at least have a more transparent process about this US Senate debate of the first USA “mental health czar,” appointed by a US President with obvious severe mental health issues.

    Can’t believe you would say that with a straight face. As has been discussed here in great depth and clarity, to accuse ANYONE of “severe mental health issues” validates the mythology of “mental health” and at least indirectly fosters psychiatric oppression. (And as has been pointed out allows Trump et al. to evade responsibility for their actions.)

    I think it’s pretty well established that the only true significance the psychiatrized have to the vast majority of congress people is as pawns in the red-herring “debate” about what’s responsible for mass violence — “mental illness” or the very existence of guns — so they will be able to claim to voters that they are “doing something about violence.”

    I think the end of SAMHSA cooptation of potential activists will do as much for the anti-psych movement as the election of Trump did for the movement at large (yet to be fully realized). So I don’t think people should put their energy into the appointment of a crazy m-f over a moderate m-f. At least not more than they put into brushing their teeth.

  • Yeah, but Frank…

    Throughout the 1970s we had a separatist movement when it came to the government. In the mid-1980s this changed. The first Alternatives the conference was, in fact, funded by the NIMH.

    We were “separatist” in the 70’s but that did not mean separate from the government; that was largely assumed. The “separatism” you correctly refer to consisted of voting membership in the leading “mental patient liberation”/anti-psychiatry groups being limited to former and current psychiatric inmates, who for years controlled the direction and tactics of the movement.

    While things certainly “changed” in the mid 80’s, the so-called “Alternatives” conference was not the result of any change of philosophy among liberationists. It was a completely alien event which appropriated some of our language and (for a time) duped some movement celebrities into participating. However it had nothing to do with the real movement, and was in fact a Trojan Horse. It should not be referred to in terms of “we.”

  • “Alternatives” were once seen as “alternatives” to forced treatment.

    By whom? Can you substantiate? In this movement “alternatives” have always been considered alternatives to psychiatry itself. However even this reflects a skewed perspective, as psychiatry is a tool of social repression. Why do we need “alternative” forms of repression? This plays into the myth that psychiatry serves a human need, when the opposite is the case.

  • You’re breaking the code Kindred. Somehow the goals and struggles of the 60’s and 70’s have been commodified and are now taught as “subjects,” and terms like “science” and “social justice” are used as brickbats by privileged liberals against those who refuse to accommodate their comfy notions of “progress” — including vast segments of the working class.

  • Sorry, but before I even bother reading any comments let me say straight out: this usage of the term anti-psychiatry is a perversion of the term.

    Psychiatry cannot be reformed, as it is built upon nonsensical and fraudulent principles. Period. To ascribe the term “anti-psychiatry” to those who want merely want to rearrange the chess pieces on the board is offensive to those who truly desire to see psychiatry disappear.

    “Anti” means “AGAINST” — not “unhappy with” or “wanting a different version of.” Generally speaking, if a so-called “anti-psychiatry” demand can be met WITHOUT significantly undermining psychiatry’s power and influence it is not a truly anti-psychiatry position but a reformist one. And, again, something which is fraudulent at its core can not be “reformed.” There are no “reforms” which could justify psychiatry’s continuing with business as usual.

    Unfortunately the ambiguous semantics of the term “abolition” may be obscuring the important and irreconcilable differences between anti-psychiatry and “critical psychiatry.” Those who call themselves “abolitionists” differ from other people who consider themselves “anti-psychiatry” (when they differ at all) only in what approach and terminology they choose when explaining to the world why psychiatry should take its place in the dustbin of history. To call for anything less would be unacceptable, and certainly not “anti-psychiatry.”

  • A middle path between what and what?

    I must assume that many of the people in this thread and elsewhere on MIA are forcibly committed to psychiatric “treatment,” as otherwise I assume it would go without saying that the solution to psychiatric abuse (a tautology) is not to argue with and complain about psychiatrists but to STAY AWAY FROM THEM. Period. Right?

  • I’m trying to save you from going over the cliff, because I support the main drift of what you are doing, and I don’t want you to lose your credibility by making claims you can’t back up.

    Yes, sounds like Michael may have a touch of anosognosia — possibly grounds for involuntary commitment, considering that cliff. It would be for his own good. What are friends for anyway?

  • I’m not defeatist, I’m critical. There are any number of groups claiming to have the understanding, analysis and strategy to lead the masses. While we should make ourselves and our information/analyses readily accessible to all, it is not our obligation to plead with anyone; it is the responsibility of such formations to come to terms with their own glaring blind spots. ESPECIALLY if they expect people to trust them with their lives. A recognition of the impending psychiatric holocaust for what it is constitutes an essential part of any revolutionary analysis.

    I’m not arguing against any of your points here, simply emphasizing that your essentially accurate framing of the issues is not typical of any current organized revolutionary socialist organization, although it should be, or something like it.

  • While we’re at it:

    It is up to us, through our painstaking work, to show that the anti-psychiatry movement is, not only, highly compassionate and ethically astute in its analysis, BUT also, consistently RUTHLESSLY SCIENTIFIC in its ability to apply science to deconstructing the Disease/Drug Based Medical Model.

    Painstaking work? It’s not rocket surgery. How “ruthlessly scientific” does one need to be to recognize that abstractions (such as “the mind”) cannot have physical properties (such as diseases)??? No further “research” is needed, and that which is conducted anyway is playing into the illusions of “mental health”/”mental illness.”

  • Biological Psychiatry’s “chemical imbalance” dominating, Disease/Drug Based Medical Model has now become so deeply entrenched among the masses that it would require major “Revolutionary” changes in society to uproot this way of thinking.

    Unfortunately none of the self-described “revolutionary vanguard” organizations currently in existence seem to have a clue about any of this — the farthest they go is talking about “over medicating”; and they have not a clue about the medical model, or the key role psychiatry plays in the current repression not only by drugging people, but by defining idiosyncratic resistance and non-cooperation as symptoms of illness. I don’t see any “revolutionary” orgs out there that aren’t a quarter century or more behind in their grasp of any of the issues we consider vital. So this is a major problem to say the least, and refusing to see it will hold back any genuine revolutionary progress until it is finally addressed by the so-called left, and clear-thinking people in general.

  • 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!