Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Comments by oldhead

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  • Anti-CAPITALIST, Dragon Slayer, easy on the demagoguery; otherwise, good post. Though I’m not sure Lawrence misses the point to the degree you seem to imply.

    You do, as Richard has pointed out, tend to see psychiatry as something that just manifested out of thin air, rather than in the context of specific political/economic conditions. However that’s a different level of analysis which is not mandatory when one’s goal is to call for basic civil rights, though it can be strategically helpful to also have a macro-analysis.

  • Why is “happiness” a goal anyway? Pretty egotistical, don’t you think? In the course of pursuing whatever inspires you happiness will be one of many feelings and emotions that come into play, but as a goal in itself — especially when the lack of it is used as an excuse to be miserable — it’s overrated.

  • Sanders is a social-democrat, not a socialist, though I believe he had a more genuinely Marxist past.

    A “socialist party” would be a betrayal of socialism in a sense, as socialism is supposed to replace capitalism, not vote in its elections. Nonetheless if “progressives” had any sense here they’d be busy trying to purge the ultra-right from the Democratic Party instead of 24/7 Russia-baiting. Trump is a blessing in disguise, as he’s creating internal chaos in both major corporate parties; leftists should take advantage of this instead of crying like liberals.

  • I think your articles are always going to evoke an absolutely!/absolutely not! reaction in me.

    To preface, your otherwise spot-on analyses are often marred by naïve notions of “American freedom,” and worries about people collecting “disability,” which should be more appropriately the concern of system bureaucrats, if anyone. So I’d drop that whole diversionary angle, as this is an international matter anyway.

    Since as we know the mind is not the brain, it seems counterproductive to be basing conclusions on whatever happens to our thought processes when “researchers” poke around the brain with electrodes and the like; down the road apiece I’m sure people will look back and laugh at these primitive practices and the ridiculous conclusions being drawn from this stuff today. It remains a matter of conjecture as to whether the mind “exists” without the brain, but it would be cynical to insist that it is simply the product of squishy disgusting brain tissue.

    Regardless of all the above, “psychiatry” clearly functions to disempower by discouraging both the exercise of and belief in free will, even as it claims to be doing otherwise. The more relevant question to be discussed might be whether it does this as the inevitable result of its own logic, in service to a certain kind of ideology, or as a weapon in the hands of whatever power elite it represents.

  • Albert Camus: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer.”

  • What this all comes down to is a religious/spiritual/philosophical debate about the existence and meaning of “death.” The more assertive anyone is about this the less I tend to trust their opinion, as no one seems to claim they’ve actually experienced it.

    I remember the “Seth” entity channeled by Jane Roberts saying that we all choose our moments of birth AND death, some less “consciously” than others, so the question of suicide is in a sense moot.

    Just to complicate things even more. 🙂

  • Yeah, interesting how you start out sounding egalitarian then slide into the “both sides do bad things” line. But both sides don’t occupy each other. Maybe you should worry less about what the world media report about your government, and more about what it has done historically and continues to do. (Someone pointing out the same about mine would not rankle me at all.) Anyway, the discussion is not devolving, it is gaining some perspective.

    It is debatable whether MIA literally supports doing away with the “medical model,” which logically would spell the end of psychiatry. But it is indisputable that MIA highlights the role of trauma in what some label “psychosis,” which does not recognize artificial boundaries. So exploring the perspective of a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza (not some sold out Palestinian Uncle Tom) would be enlightening for the American/Western audience that primarily utilizes MIA, and I don’t see why anyone should object.

    Anyway I thought this discussion was over, so I’m fine with this being deleted as long as the previous comment is as well.

  • Can anyone out there come up with a quick list of drug-related mass shootings, as specific as possible and including the drugs, that people could use when taking this issue to the media, etc?

    We need this kind of info on hand for when these things occur, so we don’t have to do lots of hurried research.

  • Stephen, is it possible that the handful of “peer advocates” with integrity, such as yourself, Sera et al., could put your heads together and come up with a term for what you do that doesn’t involve the word “peer”? — then there would be no confusion or hesitation when the entire “peer” industry is identified by survivors as a tool of psychiatric oppression and publicly discredited.

  • Actually I had confused you with “The Cat” first time around.

    I believe the primary function of prison should be to protect society from physically dangerous people and little else, certainly not revenge (this gets into arguments about “deterrence” however). It seems that fear of punishment/revenge is not a deterrent in the most horrific cases, whether triggered by drugs or anything else.

    During times such as this it should be an understood responsibility of us all to call talk radio, write letters to newspapers that will actually print them, etc. and alert them to the likely role of psych drugs, not “mental illness,” in these events.

    Two false scapegoats always raised in such cases are a) “untreated mental illness” and b) the very existence of guns. Both should be rejected.

  • The basic function of the mental health system is of controlling the behavior of people not conforming to social norms.

    OK so you acknowledge that the “mh” system is a branch of law enforcement, not medicine. Then you say:

    I still feel there is a role for organizing people with lived experience and hope that the new, non federally-funded Alternatives 2018 (July 29-Aug 3rd, in DC) can renew our efforts.

    You think the federal government should be in charge of “organizing” survivors, i.e. its victims? Where do you get those blinders from?

  • Bob,

    I’ll be brief, and as “positive” as possible:

    I think it does a disservice to a lot of people to reduce support for the occupied people of Palestine to “U.S. leftist politics.” In most of the world this is not seen as a “leftist” matter, but one of basic compassion, identical to support for Black South Africans during apartheid; would you have similarly dismissed any mention of racism and oppression back then? Is it not significant that on so many key international issues the vote in the U.N. is The World vs. the U.S. and Israel?

    Considering MIA’s professed concern about sensitivity to racism this represents a major disconnect. Perhaps it would be possible, given MIA’s growing reach worldwide, to find a Palestinian survivor from the West Bank or Gaza (who would by definition be a double survivor) to write an article about the trauma of living under occupation.

    Finally, it is not my personal contention that the article should not have been written at all (though some sort of disclaimer might have been in order). It is quite journalistically ambitious and informative as articles go. These basic points people have been making have not been directed at the Soteria people but, as Susan R. said, the larger context, which cannot and should not be ignored. Silence is death.

    P.S. To be consistent, please ask Emily to remove Julia’s zionist rant posted at 8:13, quite some time after people were told not to post what have been characterized as “off-topic” comments (i.e. about Israel). Anyway i’m glad you responded to this issue personally, as I don’t think Emily should have to take responsibility for navigating the situation.

  • I presume you’re referring to the claim of neurotoxic damage being irreversible. I guess it’s hard to know, as I don’t know of any tests that demonstrate such damage or its capacity for resolution. However there are very few if any physical conditions (including cancer) that cannot be resolved, as the body knows how to heal itself when it is allowed to. Nerve damage once was considered irreversible, but nerves can find new connections in many circumstances, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that this could be the case here.

  • then reinforcing that identity by putting/maintaining them on disability

    If someone is essentially starving the “rationale” behind receiving a lifesaving check becomes a non-issue for that person, who I imagine in most cases would take the risk of having his/her “identity” compromised for the time being. My observation though is that the bureaucratic structure of the various “disability” programs make it difficult to escape the rut once someone winds up there. (This is a systemic critique, not “victim-shaming.”)

  • I believe that in the mid 70’s Valium was the most prescribed drug in the US or the world, or something close. But the word “benzodiazepine” was not well known, certainly not to me. Valium was simply referred to as a “minor tranquilizer,” and could even be bought on the street. I occasionally found it useful for sleeping on long train rides but otherwise yuck, veggieland. It must be miserable stuff to be physically dependent on.

  • Whatever’s getting under your skin, and irrespective of your dialogue with Lawrence, I stand by both my major points, which I don’t consider nitpicking. If the only psychiatry today is “biological” it’s still psychiatry so that’s all we need to call it, rather than implying that we yearn for that good old “regular” psychiatry. Sort of like yearning for a “kinder, gentler” face of imperialism.

  • This discussion is becoming a jumble of different concerns, motivations and analyses, and personal issues are being conflated with analytical ones on many levels.

    I don’t see anyone opposing disability payments, I’m certainly not. My major point is that the whole argument over what is and isn’t a “disability” becomes irrelevant if EVERYONE receives a guaranteed minimum income REGARDLESS of whether they identify as “disabled” (and as a working class, former “diagnosed schizophrenic” I reject any suggestion that my analyses are the product of “privilege”). But that’s only a band aid (metaphorically speaking). Beyond that, it is our collective responsibility to eradicate the conditions which perpetuate human misery.

    P.S. I would not call neurological damage from neurotoxins a “psychiatric disability,” but a physical condition.

  • Yeah but the student “leaders” had someone to answer to, I would presume.

    Not questioning that something like this may have existed so much as the idea that it was a major phenomenon I’d guess it was more significant to those pushing it than students, on the whole.
    But it is interesting, as it does seem like the idea may have later been lifted by the psychiatric establishment to use against the mental patients’ liberation movement.

  • First you separate the issues. Defeating psychiatry is one, helping people is another. Psychiatry does not help people, so helping people is not an “alternative to psychiatry,” it is just part how we should conduct ourselves as human beings.

    To call for “alternatives to psychiatry” sets up psychiatry as the standard, when it should be seen as the very opposite.

  • Thank you, I was hoping I wasn’t alone here (even though most of the world would concur) — I was waiting to be called “anti-Semitic” but hey, it’s early.

    Friends in the Palestinian solidarity movement have a term “PEP” meaning “progressive except for Palestine,” which I have mentioned could also be applied to those who are “progressive except for psychiatry”; maybe we’ll see the two PEP groupings “intersect” here by the time we’re done.

  • This sounds pretty specious to me, I was around in the 70’s and never heard of anything like this. At any rate, when I was in high school any group of “peers” appointed by our teachers or principals would have been regarded with derision. Though it’s possible that such programs did serve as the prototype for the serf-master relationship between present day “peers” and the “mental health” system.

  • A lot to bite off & chew there; succinctly speaking, it does seem like we share a common (and growing) take on this faux “left,” sans class analysis, that has taken over popular discourse with the wink-nudge approval of corporate America, and which seems to be primarily focused on fanning class divisions in the name of attacking “privilege,” which is more convenient than opposing class rule.

    However your determination to fit all discourse into the framework of “therapy” unnecessarily mystifies what “needs to be done” (and there is no single “answer” since there is no single problem).

    If Black people had more Malcolms there would be far less demand for “therapy.”

  • Many of the conditions for which people are psychiatrized do cause sufficient impairment

    “Conditions”? Sounds quasi-medical model. In times of trauma the mundanities of maintaining one’s physical survival are often more than one can deal with, no argument, no solution either, this side of revolution or at least major transition. But I wouldn’t reify this by calling it “disability,” any more than not being able to rake leaves in a hurricane is a “disability.”

  • These deluded people who presume to determine who “qualifies” as a “peer” are the same people we used to sit around and discuss strategies for defeating, back in the days when oppressed survivors defined the movement and not our “mental health” overlords. We didn’t need to call one another “peers,” as this was implicitly understood and didn’t need to be pointed out.

  • Yes, the exact same E. Fuller Torrey.

    His 180 degree about face is comparable to notorious 60’s turncoat David Horowitz, who started as a white radical then became an anti-Panther, racist demagogue claiming that Black people should be thankful for slavery.

    Back to Torrey, hopefully the growing chorus of anti-psychiatry rabble shining a light on his treachery has made the past four or five years unfulfilling enough to speed along a decision to retire.

  • The ex-patients movement? Who in their right mind would ever invent such a term or wish to be part of such a “movement”?

    Actually this is how we sometimes referred to ourselves early on, though always with at least air quotes in our heads. It would have been hard to organize psychiatric inmates when they identified as “patients” and wouldn’t realize we were talking about them.

  • Maybe Torrey should consider his own effect on helping create the anti-psychiatry movement, as his original book The Death of Psychiatry echoed Szasz in its deconstruction of “mental illness.” We often quoted his examples, e.g. that there can no more be a “sick mind” than there can be a “wise space” or “purple idea.” So give credit where credit’s due. 🙂

  • For anyone who is unaware of the direct effect of ECT on Ernest Hemingway’s suicide (this is an excellent quote to have up your sleeve at the right moment):

    Ernest Hemingway, who suffered from life-long and often self-medicated depression, committed suicide in 1961 shortly after undergoing ECT. He had told his biographer: “Well, what is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure, but we lost the patient.”


    (Be forewarned — This quote is often included in articles which then go on to talk about how much better ECT is today.)

  • Yeah, that last quote is typical of liberal “intersectional” thinking, which I know you understand, with its talk of “systemic” this and that with no comprehension of what that “system” even is — and never mentioning capitalism, other than occasionally as just another “intersecting” ism.

    I’m not indicting the messenger here, just criticizing the message.

    we are already dealing in the imaginary when we talk about reparations

    Then why are we talking about any of this if it’s just idle chatter? Not sure what you’re essentially getting at, as BLM is not a particularly revolutionary organization, nor do I believe it claims to be. However it is often regarded as such, so it’s important for AP people with a sincere and informed opposition to racism to point out neoliberal traps such as “mental health care” and its ideological underpinnings, which certainly include the notion of personal support being “therapy.”

  • Checked out the 2nd link. By what authority does this guy make his assertions other than access to the web? To quote:

    Currently, members of the MHM are attempting to recover from some of the consequences of the neoliberal age of deinstitutionalization (Morrow et. al., 2008: 2).Though advances towards legitimizing mental illnesses and the agency of those struggling with such conditions were made, it is presently essential to the agenda of the MHM to discuss the potential of re-institutionalization.

    So it looks like this “MHM” is just another words for the cops and the psychiatric gulag.

    Semantics maybe, but this strikes me less as being a “movement” and more as just business as usual.

  • Again Frank, I don’t know why you call any of these tendencies “movements”; except for anti-psychiatry — which has at least some shared analyses and goals, despite a current lack of centralized coordination — these “movements” you cite strike me as no more than ambiguous concepts with no unified voice or objectives. Even NAMI is little more than an “astroturf” organization funded by Pharma.

  • OK cool, I wasn’t accusing you of anything, just trying for some historical accuracy. The reason it’s important and not just nitpicking is the way the term has been twisted and manipulated into its effective opposite, in typical Orwellian fashion.

    In retrospect we can see how what were formerly known as “consciousness raising” or “people caring for one another” were turned into commodities and “skills” to be administered, certified and regulated by the same forces which the movement had, up till the point of official disruption, identified and opposed as our enemies. The notion that the psychiatric inmates’/anti-psychiatry movement “evolved” into the “consumer” movement is a gross distortion of history often promulgated by those who benefit from such misinformation.

    I get and basically support the intent of your article, just questioning any belief that the system is appropriating “our” term, as it was theirs all along.

  • Not really challenging the content, though I share some of Richard’s reactions. It’s just hard to respond to the essence of the article when the backdrop is Israel/Palestine; it’s pretty much the same as if such a glowing article about South African “mental health” reforms had been published during the days of Apartheid.

    Specifically on the issue of terminology, I think the appropriate journalistic standard should be to put quotes around such faux medical terms as “medication,” also perhaps to insert a [sic] after the term in question if it’s a quote. Not only would this be objectively correct, it would have the constant effect of making readers consider the ways in which language is manipulated in discussions of “mental health.”

  • Peer-developed peer support is a non-hierarchical approach with origins in informal self-help and consciousness-raising groups organized in the 1970s by people in the ex-patients’ movement.

    No, sorry, we NEVER used terms like that in the 70’s. Consciousness-raising always leads to ANTI-psychiatry positions, not to accommodation with the system. “Peerdom” has not been coopted, the very concept IS cooptation and was developed as a way to destroy the movement. It is rarely seen as positive except among those who are in the process of being psychiatrized. It’s yet another demeaning label, as the obvious nuance is that there’s a more authoritative power than that of “mere” peers.

    No one should be surprised that the system is laying claim to more and more “peer” turf all the time. It is, after all, their term and their idea.

  • You keep talking about what you “think” she is saying, which could mean she doesn’t express herself well (totally possible) or that you are projecting your own perspective onto her, or (my suspicion) that she simply hasn’t thought through what she’s saying or had the appropriate information. Again it is the AP movement’s responsibility to help educate oppressed communities about the myths and lies of the “mental health” system. And it is Black leaders’ duty to not allow misinformation to poison the community.

    Where exactly are these racism/imperialism/
    colonialism-savvy “therapists” suppose to materialize from? Where are they hiding right now?

  • Revolution is not a “service.” The notion that Black people can resolve their historic oppression via “therapy” is insulting and demeaning, and Black “therapists” for the most part are buying into a system which is part of the legacy of slavery.

    Pragmatically speaking this is not to disparage the contributions of a few scattered individuals who may practice something they call “therapy” while maintaining a genuine revolutionary perspective. But I believe even they should dispense with the term. I repeat that the context in which Ms. Khan-Cullors calls for a “therapist in every pot” for every Black person is that of reparations, i.e. something provided by the racist corporate state, i.e. the slipperiest slope in the world.

    Anyway no biggie, no one here cares much about racism except for denouncing it is the abstract. 🙁

  • To continue in the same vein, as I think people roll their eyes too often when I identify psychiatry as literally (not analogically) a branch of the “justice”/prison system, not a rogue form of medicine:

    The useful things are listening, talking, understanding, encouraging, providing sanctuary and even drugging people into some semblance of peace when nothing else is available.

    Even without commenting on the drugging reference, these things you cite as needs addressed by psychiatry are clearly not medical functions, they’re more akin to social work, personal support, and political struggle, so first off all shrinks with integrity should toss their medical “credentials.”

    I am saying it is politically sensible to acknowledge that a lot of people do, and will always need support.

    That’s like saying a lot of people are human, or need air to survive. We are conditioned to consider such assertions as ipso facto arguments for psychiatry, but should recognize that this is a conditioned response we need to leave behind.

  • Thanks for your response. I don’t want to waste your time here but am wondering what providing notice to the “California class” would entail in terms of media “visuals,” etc. Also what the chances of having multiple high-profile experts approved by the court might be.

    I’m just thinking out loud, but it seems like a lot of legwork, press releases, etc. could be largely handled by volunteers; while you focus on the strictly legal aspects of the case others could concentrate on the public “verdict.” (This of course would require some people “coming out of the woodwork,” but they’re surely there.)

    Thanks for the effort in any case!

  • I hope you’re right and that this is recognized as a precedent, not just an idiosyncratic regional directive.

    Don’t know if my analogy would be a tree though, under corporate rule a mutating virus might be more appropriate. In any case, go for it — any and every way you see fit!

  • Hi Connor (et al.) —

    As an attorney you likely understand that the impetus for courts making people-friendly decisions has less to do with finely-honed legal arguments (though these help too) than the amount of public pressure on the court. Keeping this in mind I suggest a public focus on point 3: whether ECT can cause electrical injury to the brain when used as intended; the rest in the eyes of the public is boring legal minutia.

    In furtherance of this goal all available energy should be utilized to present a parade of anti-shock experts, starting with Peter Breggin, to testify as to the demonstrated horrors of electroshock; the would be a spectacle that the press would glom onto, and at the appropriate point a demonstration spearheaded by activist shock victims could be mobilized. Win or lose this would highlight the issue for a significant number of people both locally and nationally/internationally. I’m sure you would find some volunteers to help expedite this, there are lots of anti-shock people out there looking for an action to support.

    Btw a conservative judge would possibly more reasonable than a liberal one, and less susceptible to psychiatric mumbo-jumbo. But there are no hard & fast probabilities, it depends on the individual judge and what medico-pharma connections he or she has.

  • Good luck with the lawsuit, of course. However keep in mind that generally speaking, no matter how obviously destructive any “medical” procedure is, if it is considered “accepted practice” the practitioner is immune from legal sanctions. At least until we get a lot more public education done.

  • I disagree wholeheartedly. “A therapist” could be anything or anyone, and by calling what he/she does “therapy” has already disempowered his/her clients at some level and individualized a collective problem. Remember she’s talking about reparations here, which by definition must come from the state. “Therapy” is a white thing at heart, can never be revolutionary, and to find it in a package labeled “reparations” would be a cruel joke.

  • That’s a different issue though, isn’t it?

    The missing bit of analysis in, I daresay, most people’s anti-psychiatry critiques is the unexamined and unchallenged assumption that the purpose of psychiatry is to “help” people, and that it simply does a poor job. But that is not why the state supports psychiatry and backs it up with guns if need be. The institutional function of psychiatry (independent of any individual practitioner’s motivation) is to control people via mystification and self-blame. Once we recognize this we can detach from the often sub-conscious assumption that, if shrinks only “understood” that they are being unhelpful and had better information, they would change.

    This is why I object to the concept of “alternatives” — not because people don’t need actual means of support, but, among other things, it sets up psychiatry as the standard, and actual support as an “alternative.”

  • How did it ever become the responsibility of the U.S. government to care for the health of its citizens?

    This is a diversionary argument. All governments should be expected to act on behalf of their citizens’ well-being or they have no legitimacy.

    The issue here is that the “health” industry does not heal, and that the “mental health” industry is actually a parallel police force.

  • This article is all about “reform, reform, reform.” Nothing to discuss really. If you believe that a “better mental health system” is what we need, this will be music to your ears. If you see the impossibility of transforming a de facto police force into a vehicle for addressing the collective trauma of living under a corporate dictatorship, you will understand the futility of arguing and move on.