Showing 100 of 722 comments.
What list are you referring to, Oldhead?
I think it is honorable for decent people to work within the system and try to be as helpful as they can. Even the writer here, though, makes clear that won’t do much to change the overall system.
There is nothing really mysterious about the “mental health” system, though it certainly has succeeded, so far, in promoting that perception. At bottom, though, we are looking at a social institution dedicated to maintaining the power and privilege of a few people against the many, just like much of the rest of our society. And it does this by violating the human rights of its “patients.”
Other groups whose human rights have been grossly violated like this have made some progress by just banding together and insisting that they won’t take these abuses any longer. There are millions of people who have been locked in psych wards here in the US. There are many more who have been drugged and shocked without having been incarcerated, plus many friends and family members of such people who have understood the destructive nature of psychiatry without having been victimized themselves.
Millions of people ready to be organized…We can’t give up.
Over and over, we post articles on Facebook saying how terrible everything is. We talk and talk and talk, but somehow do nothing.
The potential is out there for a powerful and effective movement, but somehow we do nothing. I won’t try to answer the question “Why?,” because I think a lot of people know why.
But we shouldn’t give up. We can’t give up.
Thank you for this great article, Richard. It is always good to see some kind of strategizing going on. To me, the key point you make about why this is a good strategy is that the issue is already coming into public awareness.
Of course, there are other issues worth working on. My touchstone for this is, can we get anyone to work on it? That is very difficult. Activism is in short supply.
A very important development around this issue is that there is a Nevada legislator who wants the state to investigate the role of psych drugs in this huge epidemic of killings. I hope we do all we can to make this happen, as I am sure the drug companies are going into a frenzy to block it.
Once at least one state looks into this, I am sure it will spread. We should not ignore this.
I was taken away from my foster family and sent to be experimented on with shock treatment at the age of six. This was based partly on the BS that “schizophrenia” was inherited, in my case supposedly, from my mother. (But mostly on the practice of treating foster children as easy subjects of drugging and psychiatric abuse.) So all this persistence of genetic theories about “mental illness” has a high importance to me.
And as Jay Joseph shows, the persistence of these lies, presented as scientific facts, comes down to the profit and power of psychiatry and (nowadays) the drug companies. His arguments may seem very technical, but they are important, because this pseudoscience affects the lives of many thousands of people.
Sigh…”More money for mental health,” with a few caveats. I don’t understand this article.
Thank you for this moving memoir.
Well, one good thing seems tone, from this description, that the filmmakers are incompetent. Not likely that this will receive an Oscar, thank God. Or much of an audience either.
Once again, Bruce Levine has given us a lot of useful thinking about how the “mental health” system is a tool of social control. I know that last phrase has become an overused cliche, but this article gives it a lot more substance and meaning.
Although one ever tagged me as an optimist, I don’t agree that psychiatry is here to stay. While the PR machine of both the profession and the drug companies (is there really any difference?) keeps grinding away, more and more people are damaged by psychiatry, and no matter how many self-serving lies are told, more and more people have become aware through their own experience that psychiatry is not a constructive force.
As for alternatives, there are many different programs that are frequently talked about on the pages of MIA, and although they have great difficulty getting funding, I think people who want to “reform” (whatever that means) the “mental health” system ought to be working toward the time when places like Soteria Houses and similar places are recognized and funded.
Meanwhile, the human rights abuses run rampant, but at the same time many more people are hurt by them, and they are more and more angry. This is just like what happens to many other groups in our society who have gone on to create mass movements that can change things.
We certainly don’t have such a movement right now, though at one point we had the beginnings of one. But I think that’s what we should be working for. And I think it can be done.
Yes, there are people who work within the system who truly believe they are accomplishing something but at best they are making life slightly better for psychiatry’s victims. And frequently people who do this are pulled into the system and strengthen it.
Again, I just don’t see that ultimately, the present system is going to last forever. But saying that over and over becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can’t win anything if you give up before you start.
I have trouble following this.Do other readers understand this better than I?
“Liebermanesque”…I like that word.
In the comments to the 1boringoldman piece, Sandra Steingard asked if this was perhaps the “Onion” version of JAMA. A very apt comment, I would say. What utter BS this piece is.
Yeah, I think these are good points. Besides all the money the drug companies are making from these poisons, what is also happening is a change in our culture. The idea that it is best to numb oneself, rather than make changes in one’s life in order to feel better, has become almost the norm.
The United States is on its way to becoming a nation of drugged zombies.
I had the honor of visiting Jim and Mary in Ireland a few years ago, where I also spoke at a large forum MindFreedom Ireland had organized. Bob Whitaker and Terry Lynch were among the other speakers.
Jim and Mary and Terry (and Bob too, though he is American), I think you are a great credit to our movement, and because of your integrity and hard work, you have done an incredible job of raising the consciousness of people in Ireland about our issues. I wish we had your help here in America.
Of course, Ireland is a much smaller country, less than five million people, while the US has over three hundred million.
But I think the general approach, if we really want to change things, has to be the same. We have to be willing to take risks and make sacrifices, to speak truth to power, to show the public through our own honest example why they should take a hard look at the reality of psychiatry.
So I still try to follow my own advice as best I can. And as discouraged as I have become, I still thank all of you for your inspiring example.
But I want to make a larger point, As usual on MIA, we have here dozens of comments talking about how terrible psychiatry is. These follow yet another fine piece of writing from Bob Whitaker saying how terrible psychiatry is.
But why is there never any discussion of what we can do about this? We all know the problems. We all have a very good idea of what is wrong.
But we need a discussion of what we can do about it. Preaching to the choir does not change anyone’s mind. How can we reach the public? How can we recruit people, not with us now, who will be willing to go out and actually DO something to reach the public, to raise people’s consciousness about the atrocity that is psychiatry?
It is a cliche, I know, but we need less talk and more action.
I think that the fact that psychiatric leaders like Pies and Torrey get so upset with terms like “psychiatric survivor” and “anti psychiatry” tells us that we should use these terms whenever we can. Not to bug them, but because it is clear that they recognize that when these terms become common in the larger society, opposing psychiatry becomes more acceptable in the public eye.
Yeah, I am glad you pointed out the person identifying as representing the c/s/x movement. I realize that I “friended” him on Facebook just a few days ago. How did I manage to do that? OMG.
Great article, Noel. What specially stood out for me was your insistence that what “mental health” professionals do are MORAL issues, not intellectual ones. Seeing these issues as intellectual leads only to talk, and a failure to actually do anything about these abuses. Understanding them as moral issues leads, hopefully, to ACTIONS that might change things.
Once again, Phil Hickey hits the nail on the head. And yes, it is really significant that a story like this appears in a widely-read mainstream newspaper like the Daily Mail. And what Phil didn’t mention is that the Daily Mail is not published by crusading radicals. It is an extremely conservative newspaper.
Meanwhile, just in the last week or so, the establishment liberal Huffington Post is running a 15-part, book length series about the various scandals around Risperdal. And a number of pretty establishment newspapers are writing in depth about the fake Study 329 that lied about the safety and effectiveness of Paxil used against children and adolescents. This was first exposed by the British Medical Journal.
All this is great, but we HAVE to have a movement that can follow up on this. It isn’t enough to have the facts out there, although that is extremely important. We have to have a vehicle to keep this in the public eye. Almost all other oppressed groups in our society have been able to get themselves together, and have made tremendous progress in gaining their rights. Why can’t we?
I think, because of people like Bob Whitaker and others, we have the factual ammunition to discredit psychiatry as it is now practiced. (I don’t think its practice is going to change much either.)
But having facts just isn’t enough. We need to create a mass movement, just like those created by many other groups in our society that have been and are abused. The people power is there. Literally tens of millions in the US have been inpatients on psych wards, and they did not like it. But for most, it was one bad but short event, and no one wants the identity of “mental patient,” any more than they want to be seen as a leper or, say, a Muslim terrorist.
How we recruit people like that is not an easy question to answer, to say the least, but I think we are not going to get far if we don’t answer it.
I can’t really tell what Corbyn has in mind. It sounds like he is against bigotry about our issues, but what would he have the health service do?
In 1985, when he was Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders spoke at our last Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression, so I think he understands the human rights issues. But I am not clear now either what kind of “mental health” interventions he would support.
I do have a sense that both Corbyn and Sanders have good gut feelings about it though, in that I am sure both of them see us labelled people as human beings to be respected.
Margiealtman, you wrote:
” Your idea is great however it kind of makes the movement exclusive and almost needing an evaluation before your are admitted to the group. What do you think?”
I think that yes, that could be a problem. I haven’t been trying to work it out in my mind because it is all I can do to stay in the movement in some fashion. But I guess my answer would be that such selective meetings would not be “the movement.” They would be a few groups among many. Those who wanted to trash everyone else would be free to do that to each other. Those who wanted to work together as mutually respectful comrades could do that. Hopefully, the people who mainly wanted to hassle everyone else would wind up disappearing, at least that is what I would like to see.
I think having such selective groups/conferences would be very helpful. If someone else would like to organize them, I would participate.
Bonnie, I have thought of precisely that, gathering together only those people who see the need for solidarity and having meetings/conferences with them, and I think it would be a good thing. But I feel too burned out to do it.
Yet I know it has to be done, just not by me.
What I have noticed, though, is that locally, here in the Bay Area, there is very little of this trashing. Even though I have some serious political disagreements with people here, we treat each other with respect. I think a lot of that is because we all really know each other. We are not just words on a screen, electronic messages sent from thousands of miles away.
When I organized the May 16 anti-shock demo here in Berkeley, I was almost surprised that it was relatively easy to organize. That was, I think, because few people here trash one another because of political differences.
I think we should be doing more local organizing anyway. Our movement really doesn’t have the resources any more to do large projects. Pretending that we do just leads to a lot of posing, where people announce that “I’m a leader,” and try to show that by attacking everyone else who is actually trying to do something real.
So I plan to work almost entirely with people I can relate to face to face. In a situation like that, those who think they can be seen as “leaders” by attacking others won’t get very far. And developing a sense of solidarity will be possible…I hope.
There are too many instances to describe. It even happens that you might praise someone for their ideas or their work and they turn on you. I have been seeing this for several years, but now it happens every day instead of every week or so. It is impossible to function in this movement. You don’t see it here on MIA because the comment section is closely moderated. But out there on Facebook etc. it is really nasty.
Thank you for your support, Katie, and for reminding me of the sacrifices you have made for this cause.
I guess working for social justice is never easy. But what is most difficult is when the people who attack you for it are not from psychiatry or the drug corporations, but the people who should be your comrades.
Having a member of British royalty campaigning against psychiatric atrocities is very helpful. And I am very impressed with all the anti- or critical psychiatry activity in the UK among academics and professionals. This is great.
And the raising of consciousness among a certain class of people is very important.
But transforming all this into the kind of political changes needed to actually stop these atrocities will not be that easy. There needs to be a mass political movement to turn this talk into action, and force the politicians to actually do something meaningful to stop all the suffering and exploitation. This requires a very focused kind of political campaign, because our real enemy is not (just) the psychiatric profession, but the multinational drug corporations that own it. These same companies own the politicians who have the power to stop the abuses.
One would think this fight would, and should, be coming from the movement of psychiatric survivors that already exists. But that movement is busily destroying itself, turning against one another and especially those within it who call for doing more than clicking the “like” button on Facebook.
Mass movements of the kind we need cannot function without solidarity, without a sense that we are all in this together. Who would join in such a difficult task when what awaits them is the same kind of degrading treatment they received on the psychiatric ward?
I don’t know how to change this. I don’t have a magic wand that I can wave. All I know is that the political moves in the U.S to strip us of our human rights, to turn us into the Jews, the lepers, the subhumans, the scapegoats of the twenty-first century, are moving closer and closer to being adopted. And meanwhile we allow a few people to destroy from within, the movement that ought to be in the forefront of fighting for our survival.
And I am afraid, for myself and everyone else to come.
But the internet also makes it much easier for those so inclined to trash other people. I have seen in the survivor movement that there is almost no trashing (though there may be some anger expressed) in face to face meetings. Internet meetings are not real, although we like to think they are.
Yes, I have heard how it was in the early women’s movement. How did any work get done? If you knew that if you tried to take leadership you would be attacked, why would you try? Yet the women’s movement went forward anyway. How did that happen?
Bonnie, thanks so much for your many contributions to this cause. And I certainly agree that there has developed a kind of “infrastructure” (for lack of a better word), which includes books and critiques like yours, and including Mad In America as well.. All this supplies arguments and information for those on the front lines directly confronting psychiatry.
But what I don’t see is a mass movement, which to me is totally necessary to fight institutions like psychiatry that are gross violators of human rights.
Particularly, as someone who has been in the “psych survivor” movement for decades, I see no growth, but rather what seems to be a determination to self-destruct. People are trashed right and left. People who actually try to lead specific and meaningful actions against psychiatry are especially attacked. I have never seen anything like this in any political work I have ever done, which goes back a long way.
Although there are literally tens of millions of people in the United States who have spent time as inmates of psych wards and did not like their experience, it is impossible to recruit such people into the hostile swamp our movement has become.
I don’t know how to change this. But it has to change, because without a mass movement, the forces that will be necessary to end psychiatric oppression just aren’t there.
Picket him. Follow him around. Please see my suggestion below.
I think at least some of the media would be interested in the idea that people with psychiatry labels and thei supporters object to his speaking in our name.
Thank you, Sera, for your (as usual) insightful and thoughtful article. I just love your title. Anasognosia indeed, lol.
Just as our movement has protests in front of the American Psychiatric Association and/or the local electroshock “hospital,” I think it would be useful and productive to demonstrate directly against NAMI and/or MHA when they show up somewhere claiming to represent psychiatry’s victims. We can piggyback on whatever media coverage they are getting. Hopefully, this will bring to the public’s attention who they really represent. Perhaps when they show up near where I live. I can try to make this happen. But I think any activist could do this, as our movement generally recognizes what NAMI really is and who and what it represents.
A very empathetic article and I appreciate the compassion behind it.
But what can we or should we do about these situations? Of course, “more money for mental health” isn’t the answer. They already have enough money for “mental health,” a/k/a psychiatric drugs. It would be good to have more articles in MIA about activism.
I also object to the sexist comments made earlier.
I have a feeling that this grossly phony campaign by the drug maker, claiming that approving this worse than useless drug is a “feminist issue,” is eventually going to backfire on them. This Astroturf way of doing things is, I think, going to educate a lot of women (and men) to the tactics of the drug companies that they may not have been paying attention to before.
It’s the sort of drug whose benefits (nonexistent) and negative effects (many) will be very clear to the kind of people (young women much more likely than average to pay attention to what happens to their bodies when they take a drug) who will be using this. It may become a feminist issue, all right, but a real one, not what the drug company has in mind.
David, keep up the good work!
Phil, I just want to express my appreciation for the many articles like this one you have published in MIA. Once again, you make really important points, clearly and well thought out. I am going to use this article in a letter I am writing to a certain candidate to bring to his attention the dangers of psych drugs.
Thank you again.
I have always thought that diagnosis is one of the most bullshit of all. That is, until I personally received what amounts to death threats from someone who would fit that diagnosis.
Some people with psychiatric labels really ARE dangerous, and if you are on the receiving end of their threats and you are afraid of dying, yes, you are not going to be sympathetic to their behavior.
When I was representing people at commitment hearings, there were almost no people who really fit the commitment standard of “danger to others.” But when I had to represent the small handful of such people, I was really frightened. I remember insisting that I sit next to the door of the hearing room, and that the door be open. Fortunately, the people I am talking about did things like say “kill, kill” to the hearing officer . I don’t know what I would have done if I had to argue that they be released, knowing that they were almost sure to attack someone, including maybe me, if they were released.
Oh man…why am I even bothering to comment on this? How are we ever going to change anything, with all kinds of media just repeating nonsense like this?
Reading about this trash is very interesting and valuable. One more “scientific” study that pretends that psych drugs are harmless.
But what can we do about this? I wish there was more discussion about taking all this good info and using it to change the situation.
“Products rather than people.” A very good way to put it, And that goes beyond the problems with psychiatry. That attitude has been adopted by large parts of our culture. It’s very scary, but not really new. It’s just that it is becoming the norm, if it isn’t already.
Very perceptive comment.
“My concern is how much of the society on drugs can any country sustain?”
Yes, I think this is a very important question that few are asking. It is certainly true of psychiatric drugs, where I am seeing a huge increase in the nasty exchanges between people related to the disinhibition caused by antidepressants.
Our culture is being changed for the worse by these drugs, and even the most thoughtful critics of psychiatry are not talking about this.
This article is so moving and poignant. I already knew that women were much more likely than men to be shocked. But I had no idea that the damage is greater as well.
And Bonnie, your novel excerpt is very powerful.
Thank you for writing this, although it makes me feel more upset and powerless against the atrocity of psychiatry than ever.
Because it is easy and popular to attack people with psychiatric labels than it is to actually do anything constructive. We are becoming the Jews of the twenty-first century. Just as in Germany in the 1930’s, everyone knows now that the source of all social problems is the mental cases.
Hi there Registered. I think it is very important to keep in mind, when analyzing arguments, who the audience is. I am addressing myself to the psych survivors and other activists and critics of psychiatry who read MIA. I am not citing specific problems with psychiatry, as actually there are many other commenters and authors on MIA who do a good job of that.
I am getting a bit impatient with you, so I make this challenge to you: if you believe you know how the abuses of psychiatry should be fought and what arguments should be made, you should make those arguments and fight those fights. I will support you if I like what you say and do.
But I don’t think it is helpful to stand on the sidelines and criticize people who are actually trying to do something. My motto is “don’t theorize, organize.” I wish you good luck in your efforts.
I totally accept that you too have had bad experiences with psychiatry. I also certainly agree that just arguing in generalities won’t get very far without facts to back it up.
But my arguments here are for the readers of MIA, who already know the facts. For the general public, I would cite a lot of facts.
I think you may have misunderstood my comments a bit as well. When I said the arguments you cited had no intellectual substance, I didn’t mean YOUR arguments.
I just don’t see how we can solve the problem of the massive abuse of people by psychiatry without holding the people responsible who commit these atrocities. Just as with the corrupt bankers who wrecked out economy, who were then appointed as financial advisors to the government after being bailed out, a few well-deserved prison sentences would work wonders. In that context, what the country of Iceland did s very instructive. And in the context of our human rights movement, jailing the criminals who do these things would work quite well to stop this kind of behavior in the future. But that won’t happen if we put our heads in the sand and pretend that somehow, no one had any moral or criminal responsibility.
Really, the criticism the last commenter cites has no intellectual substance. It just repeats the psychiatric party line, with no analysis of the criticisms made by people who are skeptical of psychiatry.
I am an attorney, and I can say that this is analogous to a criminal defendant, confronted by a lot of evidence pointing to his guilt, responding by saying that he is an expert on his behavior and therefore the charges against him have no merit.
This would not work in a trial, but right now, unfortunately, all psychiatrists have to do to be taken seriously is spout the same kind of nonsense. Their defense is that “what we say is true because we say so.” And that often works for them, at least for now.
Part of the reason it works, though, is that some of psychiatry’s critics (and I am grateful for their work) somehow fall into the trap of dealing with psychiatry’s abuses as if they were fascinating intellectual issues being discussed in some seminar at Harvard. This may interest those who like such seminars, but such people are generally rather morally numb, and they are not going to take any risks or speak out to change anything.
Much of what psychiatry does, such as drugging foster children at an early age and ruining their lives, are not interesting intellectual questions. They are crimes against humanity, but until the public (the only force with the power to effect change) sees these atrocities that way, they are not going to take action. That is my major problem with the approach of saying that psychiatrists have no moral responsibility.
If they have no moral responsibility, then that whole concept has no meaning. The logical end of that position is that we should do away with all laws against crimes, as after all criminals don’t really understand that what they are doing is wrong.
Of course, that is nonsense. and so is the idea that psychiatrists don’t really understand what they are doing. Given the immense amount of suffering they inflict on other human beings, it defies common sense to say that they have no moral culpability.
It is bad enough that psychiatrists are never prosecuted for their crimes, even when they are very obvious. Of course, this is true for many criminals who are wealthy and powerful. But people who are critical of psychiatry should not be doing what in a way is the same thing, absolving these doctors from their moral responsibility.
Nothing is going to change until the public understands the true ethical nature of psychiatry.
What is missing here, of course, is a study of people taking psychiatric drugs vs. people who are not.
Although I realize it would be almost impossible to get funding for such a study, it isn’t hard to anticipate what the results would be.
Scary. Who lobbied for this?
Good for you for standing up to Lieberman.
I don’t agree with all these intellectual excuses for not holding the average psychiatrist responsible for what he or she does. The fact is, these doctors have a moral obligation to know what is happening to their patients, who are undergoing great suffering because of what is being done to them.
For whatever reason, they choose to ignore this.
As someone whose childhood was taken away by one of the leaders of her profession, who was shocked and raped and tortured at a young age by psychiatry, I find this attempt to make excuses for the behavior of psychiatrists really offensive.
And I think this article epitomizes what is lacking in this magazine. There seems to be no sense of moral outrage among the psychiatrists who write for MIA.
Mad In America is in many ways a helpful development for those of us who are trying to end the abuses of psychiatry. But the moral numbness of this article, and there are many like it, is less than helpful.
One can talk about abstract psychological theories like cognitive dissonance all you want, but there is something that should be talked about much more urgently on these pages. And that is, the responsibility of psychiatrists to know the difference between right and wrong, and act accordingly.
This is terrible news. I feel so sad to read this.
But it isn’t surprising that the “mental health” establishment, and the drug corporations who control it, always wanted Soteria to fail.
This reminds us that it isn’t enough to come up with great ideas for helping people. We also have to struggle very hard politically to make them happen and keep them going.
I myself was helped a lot by a program similar to Soteria in Vancouver, B.C. and I am very grateful. Like Soteria Alaska, it fell apart after its original leaders left, though not in the same way as in Alaska. I don’t know what might have happened to me if it wasn’t for the help I got there.
I hope the legislators were listening. I think this must have been a very powerful presentation.
I’m not a religious person, but I think it is important to talk about the morality of what the psychiatric system is doing. When you have so much suffering and ruined lives, these practices reach the level of crimes against humanity. I think we have to say that, because most of MIA’s readers, certainly the psychiatric survivors, know that it’s true. The general public should know this too.
And I think our movement for human rights should be raising the issue of the psychiatric abuse of children more, much more. It seemed that we ignored what happened to Rebecca Riley and Justina Pelletier. Why?
It sounds as if the UK “mental health” system has gone even further than here in the US in openly being an agent of social control. What we read here tells us it is so far only being used this way against the lowest on the class ladder, but I (maybe unrealistically) think that the MH system is setting itself up for some forceful political resistance in the near future. This kind of stuff is becoming more and more brazen, and I think, as long as we have some semblance of democracy left, there is going to be a price to pay for this arrogance.
Carl Elliott deserves a LOT of credit for this. He must be a man of great integrity to keep fighting the injustice he saw, at great risk to his job. Good for him.
As I said earlier, I am not a fan of psychiatric drugs. As for my friend who considers herself bipolar, and does have severe mood swings, she was first locked up as a teenager, given drugs (of course), but then weaned herself off of them. Unlike a lot of survivors that I have connected with lately, she did NOT have a bad family history. She is still close to her mother, who I have met, and when I first met her, she was mourning the recent death of her father, who sounded like a loving parent and a very good influence in her life.
For many years after her loony bin experience, everything was fine for her psychologically and emotionally. But when she reached middle age, her mood swings reappeared. They got her in a lot of trouble, badly affected her ability to keep making a living, and led her to give away much of her money and property. So as I said, she went on lithium to keep her life from falling apart.
And if I were in her position, I would do that too. There should be better solutions, but there aren’t.
Myself, I think my primary mental illness nowadays is to be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom, not just in most of our culture, which seems to worship psychiatry and its drugs, but in our little movement too. That gets me in trouble. I am sure there is a drug for it. In fact, I think any antipsychotic would work.
I think it is very important for our movement for people to keep an open mind about everything. I have strong options about a lot of things, but I will change them when reality tells me that I’m wrong. I learned that in Rockland State Hospital where I grew up. If I had gone along with what I was told to believe, I would never have left. Now I experience pressure both from within the larger society, and within our tiny movement that tells me I must think a certain way, and only have opinions that appear on the (unwritten) list of two hundred approved thoughts.
Sometimes both the larger society and our tiny movement both make me feel as if I am back in Rockland State Hospital. But I insist on making up my own mind, and I think everyone else should do that too.
Of course, I’m no fan of psych drugs, but I think this doctor is being pretty straight with us. Yes, this is far from a perfect world. There are a lot of non-drug resources, but spread out over the US population of 320 million, it is very hard to find them.
And a lot of people are ready to do anything not to feel the emotional pain they are experiencing. I can see how it might not be so bad to give someone the least dose of the safest psych drug possible as a temporary crutch to get them through what they are experiencing.
Someone very close to me considers herself to be bipolar, and the fact is that her huge mood swings, especially her occasional mania, has really gotten her in trouble. She takes lithium. She hates it, but her mood swings have nearly ruined her life.
I have a strong feeling some of the people who know me are really going to go after me for this, but at the very least I think this particular psychiatrist is sincerely trying to have an honest dialogue here.
I think the argument will be that outpatient commitment is a lesser deprivation of liberty, that should be balanced against the compelling state interest of getting murderous schizophrenics off the streets.
As far as I know, OPC has been challenged legally in only one state, New York. In the case of In re K.L., New York’s highest court upheld the law, but the legal reasoning resembled the Dred Scott decision (“A black man has no rights a white man is bound to respect.”) In other words, the court openly said we have always done it this way and we see no reason to change it. Fortunately, I don’t think K.L. will carry much weight in the federal courts, as it is completely lacking in any rational legal argument.
Keep up the good fight, Lauren. I think the best we can do now is gather up our strength, such as it is, and organize some kind of effective national organization to fight things like the Murphy bill.
I think the bill will pass, but that does not mean our fight will be over by any means. One thing that is happening now is that psychiatry is grossly overreaching, and that is the sort of thing that eventually gets people to fight back. Murphy’s bill is part of this overreach.
And a positive thing that the Murphy bill does is defunds all the Astroturf organizations and the “Alternatives” conference that have been supporting those who have betrayed our movement. Without that money, hopefully those who benefit from it will disappear (I hope).
Something else that should work in our favor is the new consciousness in our country now about racism and the domination of our country by a tiny few who want to take us back to feudalism. Our movement should try to connect with that. Not “should,” we HAVE TO.
We are a movement for freedom and liberation, fighting what is now being called the billionaire class, and all the other antidemocratic tendencies in our country. We need to align ourselves with the larger fight that is starting to take shape.
In the short run, I don’t think we can beat back Murphy. In the long run, and there is no other way we can go, we and the other 99% of the people in this country are going to take back our freedom.
Solid scientific research? What’s that? This is psychiatry we are talking about here. What a silly idea.
Be quiet and take your meds.
Great article, Al..It is similar to one called “Medicating Women’s Emotions” that appeared recently in the New York Times, with the same message as this. Yeah, it is chilling to see how much the psychiatric worldview has begun to dominate our culture..
Of course, for most readers of MIA, these findings are not at all unexpected. The more “mental health” training people have, the less respect and help they give. You have to ask then, what do these people learn in their training? What motivates them to go into the field in the first place? And why are they not held morally responsible for what they do?
We, and Mad in America, should be raising these questions. When someone shows up in an emergency room having made a suicide attempt, for instance, the way they are treated gives them even more reason to feel they should end their life. Should we be respecting the people who act this way?
I don’t think it is right to ignore the ethical meaning of this. I think we should be speaking out.
The people who commit these destructive acts should be held responsible for them.
So depressed mothers who keep taking the antidepressants during pregnancy, as psychiatrists generally advise, get worse. And newborns of such mothers experience many bad effects.
But psychiatrists and drug companies think this is just fine.
These people have no regard for other human beings at all.
Psychiatrists, just like anyone else, are morally responsible for what they do.
I always find it strange when people tell these stories about the horrible way they are treated by psychiatry, stories that are very typical, yet still feel compelled to say how of course so many many people have been helped by psychiatry. “Compelled” may be a literally accurate word too, as even AlterNet is a semi-mainstream media outlet and may have demanded this disclaimer. After all, we don’t want to be “anti-psychiatry,” do we? Psychiatrists like Lieberman and Torrey have succeeded in making the phrase into the equivalent of being a Muslim terrorist. Even on Mad In America we often see this (not the outside pressure though), and I really don’t understand it.
Just the same, though, this young woman deserves a lot of credit for coming out of the closet and talking about her bad– and typical– experience with psychiatry.
Only one of them is. Yes, it is amazing, isn’t it? Of course these “early detection ” programs don’t work because they are just schemes to drug as many children as possible.
This could easily be tested by correlating some measure of “mental health” facilities or practitioners with the number of cases of “schizophrenia” reported.
I am sure this would apply even in a more urbanized country like the United States as well.
I think what is more likely is that there are more psychiatrists in the big cities, thus more diagnoses of “mental illness.”
Regarding Julie Greene’s suggestion that we all try to file complaints about the way we were treated by the mental illness system on the same day, if it could be done, it would be a good thing. But with just a few dozen cities saying they were going to do protests of shock on the same day, it was incredibly hard to coordinate, and this action that Julie suggests would be even harder.
Just the same if anything even near to this could be done, I agree it would have a big effect. Getting it to happen though would be extremely difficult.
I haven’t been able to read the book yet, but I surely agree that our culture has to change before we can get rid of this parasitic growth called psychiatry. Our highest value seems to be the accumulation of things, and we don’t value people all that much. And I think too, as I continue in this movement all these years, that creating alternatives to psychiatry is more and more important in my mind.
There will always be times in most people’s lives when they are troubled and unhappy, and are searching for help. As we have seen with things like Soteria Houses and Open Dialogue, help that works is often just emotional support that enables people to solve their own problems. But if that kind of help isn’t there, people are forced to turn to drugs and shock and the acceptance of the labels of mental illness, of the idea of oneself as subhuman.
There is a lot of financial profit in that, a lot of money to be made. That value is something we have to fight, to swim against the tide and try to create a society where people, not profit, is the central value.
I think this struggle over values is very central to the struggle against psychiatry.
I am looking forward to reading Bonnie’s book, and I am happy to see the support our movement for human rights is giving it.
Michael, I am re-reading this today because you just posted it on Facebook, and it is even more inspiring to me than it was earlier. Thank you for what you have done and continue to do.
Once again, the Guardian publishes a thoughtful article about our issues. If only there were such a publication in the United States. (it is true that the Guardian has an online American edition though.)
Really scary. This is MAJOR news. Given the widespread use of benzos, this means that literally millions of cases of dementia have been created by the psych drugs..
I notice that the readership on MIA of this news item has jumped by thousands even as I write this. Yes, this is major.
madmom, I think you should not be as despairing about the Murphy bill. If it were inevitable, it would have passed by now.
And there are pockets of resistance within NAMI as well. I remember perhaps a year ago an article here in MIA by a woman from South Dakota who, after hearing Bob Whitaker’s presentation that was allowed at that year’s NAMI national conference, declared that she was very angry at the way she had been lied to by the NAMI national leadership and the drug companies that control it.
In Connecticut, from what I have been told, the state’s NAMI actually helped beat back a loosening of forced commitment and drugging laws, in cooperation with the group called Ablechild.
I think you are in Oregon, a very liberal state, and I know there is a fair amount of activity that is critical of psychiatry there. What our movement needs is a family group that represents the constituency that NAMI claims to represent, but in an honest way. It would be very valuable, and I think possible, to organize such a group there.
It is a hard task that we have, to fight an evil system that has so much power, and it is easy to give in to despair. I feel that way a lot myself. We have a society controlled by a tiny minority that values money and power at all costs, that sees other human beings as profit centers to be exploited instead of cherished and nurtured. Our country is on the verge of being destroyed by these forces.
But I think eventually, the long arc of history will swing in our direction, and it’s our job to make that happen. For myself, nothing will bring back what psychiatry took from me, but I am comforted when we support one another and make progress, as small and gradual as it may be.
So please don’t give in to despair. I tell myself that every day.
I think the reason this campaign is succeeding is that the public sees psychiatric abuse of children differently from the abuse of adults. In most people’s eyes, I think, this situation has a different moral dimension.
I have been saying for a while now that our human rights movement should be paying more attention to the plight of children. I think the reason the usual suspects didn’t fight the laws Ned Opton is telling us about here is that they knew it would be very bad public relations for them.
I was a foster child too, many years ago. I wasn’t drugged, thank God, because the drugs psychiatry uses against people now had not yet been developed then. But I had shock treatment at the age of six as part of an experimental group of several hundred children. Many years later, when I organized the successful vote to ban shock treatment in Berkeley, the fact that I had it as a child had, I think, a powerful effect on the voters.
But what about this? If drugs and shock are bad for children, how can they be good for adults? If a child gets a shot of an antibiotic, or surgery to correct some injury, no one finds that disturbing. These are legitimate medical interventions, and hopefully they are helpful.
I think a large part of the public, probably a majority, knows in their hearts what psych drugs and shock represent. Psychiatric propaganda has made the idea that these atrocities are good for people part of the conventional wisdom, which like a lot of other conventional wisdom, most people are afraid to contradict. But when kids are involved, it is just too much for people to stomach.
So fighting the abuse of kids in the “child welfare” system can accomplish more than helping these kids, which obviously is very important. It will also open people’s minds and hearts to looking at what the psychiatric/drug company system is doing to our whole society.
Danny, the last thing you wrote implies that there is something more with using ketamine as a therapy besides just taking a pill at intervals. Could you expand on that? Or is there some article you can refer us to?
Hey John Hoggett, thank you for introducing me to the term “neo-feudalism.” It certainly describes where we in the United States (and I imagine in the UK too) are heading. And I am afraid we will be there very soon unless we wake up.
Danny, I do regret that there is more anger in this discussion than is justified, and I share your concern about people who feel terrible and hope to be helped by this. But really, ketamine is just another street drug, and I don’t see how it is different in essence from heroin. Of course, chemically it is quite different, but at bottom it just gives you a high. Isn’t that what heroin does?
And though I wrote sarcastically, I think it really is true that if we are going to encourage people to take drugs, it would be good social policy to just legalize drugs like heroin so that people who are addicted to it would not be made into criminals. I also think it’s true that if the drug corporations were given a monopoly on the production of heroin, we would start hearing in television ads that it is a wonder drug.
I know that many people are unhappy and are willing to take psychiatric drugs to numb themselves. I have done it myself, at times. I have taken benzos, but (1) I was aware of how addictive and dangerous they can be, and (2) I really disliked how a large part of me was missing, along with the anxiety I was fleeing from. So it isn’t that I have some kind of ideological position that is just intellectual. I’m not willing to give up part of what makes me human for the sake of blotting away my emotional pain.
But I want to repeat that I respect your position and I regret if I said anything that made you feel disrespected.
Hey, heroin would work too. If the drug companies were allowed to have a monopoly, it would easily be legalized. It would keep a lot of people out of prison then. (Too bad the drug company CEOs won’t go to prison though.)
How is that for a proposal? Do you think a drug company might hire me in their PR department?
Lauren, I look forward to your analysis of what we can actually DO to stop the Murphy bill, which as far as I can see is the result of our human rights movement mostly being bought off by the mental illness system.
We stopped fighting for our rights, instead taking money from the system, either as highly-paid bureaucrats doing public relations work for SAMHSA, or as low-paid “peers” helping at the lowest level to run the system. Now suddenly we see what happens when you do that.
No other movement for liberation, and I hope that is what we still are, has ever won anything by taking money from their oppressors. The Murphy bill is the payback for this.
Those who disagree, let’s see what you come up with at the next “Alternatives” conference, the conference that has been central to making the Murphy bill possible.
I may be too optimistic,but somehow I feel good about the psychiatric profession digging in their heels in the face of well-reasoned criticism. As the public becomes more and more aware of such criticism, it will become manifest that the psychiatrists have dug a hole for themselves that they won’t be able to climb out of.
This study is very typical, actually. “Mentally ill” people are studied, people who are drugged for many years, and when there are adverse consequences, these consequences are blamed on their “illness.”
It is a very simple, and essentially murderous, situation. We have to figure out how to get the public to see this.
I find this article pretty difficult to understand. In fact, I am having more and more trouble understanding what Dr Healy writes as time goes on. Is it because his references are very British, and someone not in the UK is not familiar with them? Or what?.
I notice the earlier commenter IS from the UK, so maybe this explains it.
I agree with both the writer of this blog and Michael Cornwall’s statement as well that if parents in general (who probably make up the majority of our society) come to realize the threat to themselves and their families that the multinational drug corporations pose, there might be some great steps forward in the fight of all decent people against the destructive power of psychiatry.
I have to say also that I think the amazing critical article about drugging children in a recent issue of TIME magazine is a development our movement should be encouraging.
Our human rights movement needs to reach out to new allies, and I can’t imagine better allies than the parents of children targeted by drug companies, to be treated as profit centers instead of human beings. We have ignored the abuse of children, like the cases of Rebecca Riley and Justina Pelletier. I don’t know why this came about, but I think we have to pay more attention to what happens to kids snatched into the system.
“…(the) psychopaths and sociopaths (who run the mental illness system and own it) truly believe that they will never be caught and that they are entitled to do what they do.” Yes, and it’s our job to make sure they answer for their crimes.
Interesting observation, John. I think they believe we can’t defend ourselves. Actually, I was rather impressed by the responses our folks gave to this psychiatrist.
Yeah, great comment, Truth. I always point out that if only “evidence-based therapy” were done, almost none of what is done now would happen. The evidence shows shock and drugs are damaging and unhelpful, so by all means, let’s stick to what is “evidence -based.” I never could quite understand why this phrase is used by psychiatry, and I think our response to it should be very much like what Truth In Psychiatry has given.
Has this been added to the Murphy Bill?
I think you are right. The establishment liberals like the Huffington Post are the WORST.
Fred, I think it is good that you talk about demonstrations, especially civil disobedience. And the psychiatric abuse of children, as I have said many times lately, is a very good place to focus our energy. I know you are in Oregon (I saw your speech on television, by the way) and it appears that in both Eugene and Portland, there was a lot of coverage of the shock demos by the local progressive media. That tells me, which I thought already anyway, that Oregon is a very promising place to concentrate the small forces that we have,
It is hard to get people to do civil disobedience. Nobody looks forward to going to jail, including me. But it is a way to raise the consciousness of the public that doesn’t require large numbers on our part.
Another sort of action that does not need large numbers is vigils, especially candlelit vigils at night. People who don’t relate to picket lines see a vigil like this as more of a moral statement, and I think our own people feel more safe joining an action like this.
In any case, we need to start acting and stop talking so much.
I like what you are saying, Julie, and I would like to be involved in your project in some way. I have too much on my plate already to take a leadership role, but I would be happy to write for you. I already have several pieces that MIA would not publish, so maybe you might. Please keep us all posted.
Hi John. Thank you for your suggestions, although I won’t try to comment on all of them. We definitely have to start small. Our movement here in the US was nearly destroyed in 1985 with the “Alternatives” conference, and the well-funded Astroturf groups set up by the federal mental illness system. So we are starting from scratch, or more accurately, we are starting from less than that, because now there are so many traitors who do their best to please their funders and sabotage any move to really fight back.
I think what we can do will depend on what the small group of committed people we have are willing to do. Since we don’t have big numbers, we have to find actions that can be effectively carried out by a relatively small group.
Above all, we have to throughly discuss and strategize about what we need to do, and I greatly value your suggestions.
I didn’t see any advocacy of “hardcore communism” made by anyone. Almost all western European countries have socialist parties, and they are voted in and voted out, since these countries are democratic. We aren’t talking about Joe Stalin or Vladimir Putin here. The bottom line in this discussion is, will this country continue to be run by a wealthy few for their own benefit, or will we have a government that works for the benefit of everyone?
Julie Greene, could you please tell us more about this new publication?
Yes, I agree this is a very important article. Though my political activity is almost entirely in the anti-psychiatry movement now, in the past I’ve been involved in groups dealing with larger issues
And it is clear, at least to me, that the huge influence of the multinational drug corporations is mostly responsible for the terrible situation that people with psych histories have to deal with now.
Myself, being a democratic socialist also, I am choosing to get involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign. The issues he is raising in his campaign are exactly the kind of issues Will talks about here, but better than that, even, he has raised and continues to raise the activism level of regular people to try to do something about this situation.
It is also true that in 1985, when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he addressed the last meeting of our Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression, just before it was destroyed by the power of money, in this case the federal “mental health” system.
Disclosure: In the 1960’s, both Bernie and I were members of the Young People’s Socialist League, and like him, I will not hide the politics I believe in.
It looks as if Doctor Anonymous, whoever he or she is, is gone, at least for today. The arrogance of this person really makes me angry.
This psychiatrist was allowed to hijack our discussion, which was supposed to be about our next steps in fighting for our human rights. You can bet if any of us were commenting in, say, Psychiatric News, our comments wouldn’t last thirty seconds, and we would be blocked.
We have important work to do to free ourselves, and we should not have to put up with this.
Emmeline, I am not seeing those links on my computer. Where in the post should they be?
Ah, so you are a psychiatrist. And I am one of your victims. Obviously, there won’t be any meeting of the minds.
Of course I agree that we should be not just talking about, but actually developing constructive ways to help people. There is a lot of discussion of that on MIA already. The problem with saying that is that the people who benefit from the present system won’t allow anything better to exist, and they fight it tooth and nail.
A psychiatrist who I greatly admired, Loren Mosher, when he had a high level title with the National Institute of Mental Health (Chief of Schizophrenia Studies) believed that people with mental problems were not being helped by being locked up and drugged. So he started a couple of places called Soteria House, where people got little or no drugs, but had a safe place to stay with a lot of emotional support. For this, he was driven out of his job with the NIMH.
Even though Soteria Houses were shown to be very effective, I know of only two of them in the US now, because the psychiatric profession, which is virtually owned by the drug companies, won’t allow them to be funded.
I think also that you should view what we do as a human rights movement. When people’s rights are being violated, that should be resisted. And as Frederick Douglass observed, correctly, many years ago, “Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never did and it never will.”
Berkeley’s ban on shock was not overturned to preserve the right of people to get it. The courts ruled that Berkeley did not have the authority to ban it.
I could respond to your defense of shock in detail, but I have to say that the statements you make about how it has been improved and how it is safe and effective are just the same propaganda that the psychiatric profession has been pushing for many decades.
Lobotomies were also touted as wonder cures, yet no one (except the few lobotomists that are left) would defend them now.
One of the main reasons this atrocity continues is that its victims are discredited, while the shock doctors, and psychiatrists in general, are seen as godlike figures whose nonsensical pronouncements are treated as the word of God.
Millions of people have had shock in this country, and you will find very few of them who would defend it. I think the people who have suffered like this are the ones who should be listened to, not their tormentors. Like all other abused people, we will be ignored until we learn to fight back effectively.
I can’t stand reading these news stories any more. Things are getting worse and worse. What are we doing about these things?
Darby has described how “peers” now have been incorporated into the American mental illness system. I can’t tell from this article what is actually going on in the psychiatric wards of The Netherlands. Pretty much the same, I’ll bet, but I would sure like to know more.
I want to bring to people’s attention a recent article in TIME magazine that talks about how morally wrong it is to drug our children this way. I think it is very important when mainstream media outlets publish something like this, since most articles they publish sound like drug company ads (which they are).
I’m sorry that I can’t seem to generate a URL, but if you feed this title into a Google search, you will find it. Well worth reading.
Where’s the Moral Outrage for ADHD Mass Medication?