Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Comments by Ted Chabasinski, JD

Showing 731 of 732 comments. Show all.

  • This might be taking away from your point some, but I have to say that MIA is not “the movement.” It is a publication where issues of the movement are discussed, which is very helpful, but it is not a forum for activism. Right now, unfortunately, there isn’t much activism, but just a lot of talking.

    Myself, I would work with anyone who sincerely wants to end the abuses committed by the “mental health” system. But I think you can understand that those of us who have actually been victimized by that system have the most at stake in trying to end these abuses.

    Also, I was very excited by the article we are all trying to comment on, because it is an attempt to figure out what function these conferences should have, and what we should be trying to accomplish with them. I think it would be helpful we tried to focus our comments on that topic. The end of SAMHSA funding for the “Alternatives” conference gives us an opportunity, I think, for any new conference to be a lot more focused on actually how we can fight psychiatric abuses, instead of being funded by the abusers.

    We need to strategize about this topic, so can’t we talk about that?

  • Yeah, although I am a democratic socialist myself, I am fine with working with people who are conservative or whatever. Szasz, for instance, was quite conservative in his general politics, but made a great contribution to our cause. Senator Grassley of Iowa is a very conservative Republican, but he has been very outspoken in his criticism of the abuse of psychiatric drugs. I see no reason to pick a fight with anyone who sincerely wants to work for this cause. Of course, I would not work with the neo-Nazis or the KKK, but they are not about to try to join us, to say the least. I do have a feeling, though, that once our movement regains the activism we used to have, a lot of this infighting will stop. It is hard to argue with someone when you are both in front of some abusive facility both helping each other to carry a banner that says Stop The Abuse of Psychiatric Inmates.

  • I hope this discussion can get back to the topic of how we can have effective conferences that will lead to effective actions we can take to remove the power of psychiatry. I am not a very ideological person myself, and although I certainly think our cause should be linked with the causes of other oppressed groups, I will work with anyone who sincerely wants to work with us. I think it is a mistake to focus on the fine points of doctrine. We need to focus on how we really can accomplish something.

  • Yeah, it is our job to show people that we ARE a human rights movement, and that almost everyone is at risk of being pulled into the orbit of psychiatry. Sure, we have not been very successful at reaching even our own, potentially very large constituency, but now we have a chance to do that without being told what to do by the people who both fund us and oppress us. I don’t think figuring out what to do will really be that hard. There are MANY campaigns we can do that would have an effect. We just need to strategize and ACT!

  • Yes, Daniel, the Southern California group already has a good core, as far as I can tell. And I think you have plenty of people there to organize a small conference in your area. People have grown used to the idea that conferences have to have many hundreds of people, and be held in expensive hotels. Before SAMHSA, we would meet on college campuses, and at least once even at a campground. People could afford these conferences, and you didn’t have to try to get your local “mental health” department to fund you, which I hope people can now see was NOT a good idea. WE can do this! YOU can do this! Myself, I think a small close-knit conference creates an atmosphere where ideas for real organizing are easier to happen, and where people who don’t think of themselves as leaders can realize that they too can make important contributions. Go for it!

  • GREAT article, and really good comments too. I especially like the emphasis the author puts on talking about strategy and what actions we can take. I would add that any future conferences should make sure we work more on being supportive of one another, as our liberation movement sometimes makes me feel as if I am back in Rockland State Hospital, where I grew up.

    I think it is a blessing in disguise that SAMHSA and the rest of the “mental health” system will no longer fund the “Alternatives” conference. This leaves us free to talk about what we need to do to end the power of psychiatry.

    Myself, I think what we need are small, regional conferences, where people have to drive a few hours at most with a car full of comrades, and where the expenses are kept down so that people don’t have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to attend. We need to spend some time trying to create a nurturing, supportive atmosphere, and then do just what the author suggests — work on our strategy for taking away psychiatry’s power. It makes no sense to me to have a conference where all we do is talk. Of course, that is the kind of conference which is (or was) exactly what the funders wanted. In the process of doing this, we will also be creating new leaders, who by thinking about what needs to be done, will be training themselves to actually do it.

    And we need to go back to the practice we had before SAMHSA took over, where we had a demonstration against whatever oppressive “mental health” facility is nearby. Never any shortage of those! This emphasizes for the conference-goers what our task is as a movement.

    The first such conference may need to be national, but it can still be relatively small, and I think it should be. MindFreedom International had such a conference in 2000, and it was generally thought to be a success.

    But after that, what I am hoping to see is that most or even all the conference attendees each organize a local conference of their own, hopefully dozens of small conferences around the country, each covering a relatively small area, so that a network can be formed and people can get to know one another face to face, not just on their computer on some &#(&!!$)&$## “social media.” And doing this will give a lot of new people practice in being leaders themselves. Even if they are able to gather up a dozen people or so, or even just a handful who meet in someone’s living room, they will experience themselves as actually LEADING. We need this kind of grassroots organizing. In fact, we had this before until we let the system take us over.

    A group of even a dozen people who are closely knit and have a strategy for what they want to do in their area can accomplish a lot.

    So thank you again for this excellent article, which I think calls for just what our human rights movement needs. And I invite the author to contact me, and perhaps we (and a lot of others, it seems) can all work together to carry out what this article calls for. If we stick together, we can still achieve what I and many others have tried to do for a long time.

    The people united will never be defeated!

  • I do think that in most places like this in the United States, children are not held for many years, as I was. What is more common is that children are put on drugs and kept there, sometime for the rest of their lives. I know that I would not have been able to survive Bellevue and Rockland State Hospital if I had been drugged. I would have died maybe twenty or thirty years ago, sitting in front of a television in a daze.

    This will not change unless as many people we can organize fight back.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

    Good work!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • I certainly agree with what you say, B. It is one of the most difficult things we have to deal with. Gay people had the same problem. Despised by most people, easily able to hide their sexuality if they chose to. But there was an advantage in that if you are gay, you are motivated to connect with other gay people. Just as you say, I think most secret survivors, who make up maybe 98% of us, don’t want to deal with this experience and they don’t have to.

    I think the gay movement dealt with this by offering something to its constituency, a real movement that fought back. We can do this too. But the combination of a powerful industry that profits from our situation, plus the fact that no one wants the identity of “mental case,” for good reason, has us up against a terrible barrier.

    But if we don’t try, we are facing in the near future something far ore horrible than what we have already seen and experienced.

  • I agree with just about everyone who has commented so far, about the arguments that we should raise. The thing is, what do we do to get these arguments listened to? Yes, the truth is on our side, but what good is that if no one hears it?

    And Noel, I don’t mean to be attacking you at all, because I think just about everything of yours I’ve seen here has been thoughtful and worth reading, but I have to point out that you rather contradict yourself when you talk about “screaming in the streets” but then give the protests that Martin Luther King led as a good example.

    Our folks aren’t screaming in the streets. They are almost never in the streets at all. The civil rights protestors of the Sixties, and I was one of them, did not always march silently. They chanted, they sang, above all they made their presence felt. Sometimes they broke unjust laws, and went to jail for it. Often they were denounced as dangerous radicals for disturbing what some would have called the American way of life.

    On May 16, just a few days ago, some of our people in 25 cities in 9 countries demonstrated against shock treatment. I have not seen anything like that in many years. We need to keep doing things like this. And I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.

    At least one person on May 16 was brave enough to put herself on the line and be arrested for trying to enter a Kaiser hospital that does extensive shock treatment. I thought her civil disobedience was very brave and an example that should be followed. I plan to follow it soon.

    We can’t just talk while the drug companies and the psychiatric profession continue to present us as subhuman killers who should be locked up and drugged and shocked, whose voices should be silenced, whose lives are unworthy of life.

    There are tens of millions of people in this country who have been inmates of psychiatric institutions. They are never heard from, these invisible survivors of psychiatry. If we could reach them, we would be a powerful movement. We aren’t going to reach them unless we show them an example, unless they see a movement that actually does something more than talk and go to conferences. They aren’t interested in jobs where they can order around others who’ve been abused by psychiatry. We need to inspire them.

    We need to inspire them the same way Doctor King and the other leaders of the civil rights movement inspired their people. It took courage and a willingness to do more than talk.

    There will be more events like what we did on May 16th, and I hope many people reading this will join them. We are a human rights movement, and we have to remember that.

  • “We need to do something to get people to start listening.” I think this is the most important part of the article. We can offer all the arguments we want, but no one is going to listen to them if all we do is preach to the choir. Writing articles for Mad In America is a good thing, but they’re not read by the general public. We are a human rights movement like any other and we should look at what other human rights movements do.

    And we did before 1985. I am getting so tired of saying this and mostly being ignored. If all this talk talk talk talk talk talk is the way to go, then how can it be that our constitutional rights are so openly being attacked? How is it we can recognize the legitimacy of black people’s anger as they react to their brothers and sisters being killed by the criminals who are supposed to be enforcing the laws, yet somehow tell ourselves that expressing our own anger at the abuse we suffer is somehow not “nice”?

    No, it isn’t true that typical psychiatrists are just well-meaning but misguided when they drug as many people as they can, from small children to elderly people near the end of their lives, knowing that these drugs are going to kill them? How is it somehow forgivable that they take drug company money for doing this?

    If we expressed our anger toward these people by taking to the streets, people in our movement would stop throwing this anger at one another. We should be focusing our anger at the people who have deliberately hurt us, not our brothers and sisters. We should be out on the streets, protesting the injustices we must bear, not going to conferences funded by the system where we are allowed to vent harmlessly.

    The Murphy bill, the move in New Jersey to keep parents from protecting their children from shock and drugs, the almost complete blackout of our voices from the mass media, nothing like this was happening before the disaster of 1985.

    I don’t understand how, in the face of all these horrible moves against us, people somehow think all they have to do is go to a conference and get a pat on the head from some psychiatrists. Are we waiting until the police break down our doors and take us away? In fact, in many cases they are doing this now.

    As Frederick Douglass said 150years ago, “Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never did and it never will.” He didn’t advocate for slaves to order around other slaves, he fought for freedom. And that’s what we should be doing too.

  • Coming late to this discussion, I have to say that the reason for the lies about Nash’s “recovery” (if that is the right word) is the money spent by the drug companies in bribing doctors directly and the media indirectly (through the dependence that the media now have on drug advertising).

    At least we have Nash’s own statements of the truth to point to, as Bob Whitaker says. But I think we are going to have to go a lot further than comment and talk to make any progress.

    Last weekend, people in 25 cities in 9 countries held coordinated protests against shock treatment. It’s time we started doing actions like this, just like every other movement for human rights has done.

    We can do this! And we will.

  • Just a few days ago, there were 25 protests against shock treatment in 9 countries. There is nothing stopping our movement for human rights to carry out more actions like this, many more. We just need the will to do so. I think in many ways we have become demoralized because of the powerful forces we are up against, and by the money spent by the mental illness system to buy us off.

    It doesn’t have to be like this. Even without money, even without much of a structure, we have pulled off a historic action, which can be done many times in different ways, again and again. It is time for less talk and more action.

  • We have to stop talking and stop acting or there will be more and more of this.

    And the rhetoric they use to justify this is sickening. One hopes that some parents groups will act on this (but of course, I am sure that NAMI is all for it.) The Ablechild group could be a good force in this, though they are not in New Jersey.

    Maybe the “Alternatives” conference will take this up. Just being sarcastic, of course. “Alternatives” is about the main reason historically we are facing horrible measures like this now.

    I am considering going to “Alternatives” and getting arrested. Our movement needs to recognize how SAMHSA and those who cooperate with it are complicit in taking away our constitutional rights.

  • I think there should be more discussion on MIA about how it happens that such a bill as Murphy’s has made so much headway. I don’t understand why people are concentrating on the involuntary outpatient commitment part of it, since almost all states already have IOC anyway. This kind of move to take away our rights is happening because SAMHSA has set up an Astroturf “movement” whose main thrust is to discourage people from fighting the system. So of course our rights will be taken away. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never did and it never will.” It was true in the 19th century, and it is true now, and it will always be true. If you don’t fight for your rights you will lose them, especially if you take money from the people who are taking away the rights we should be demanding.

  • But “seclusion” or “quiet rooms” are still common in psychiatric institutions. And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to see what that does to people. As a young child, sometimes I was locked in rooms for weeks at a time. I think that was supposed to be “therapy.” The psychiatrist in charge of the “Children’s Group” at Rockland State Hospital, where I spent my late childhood, wrote an article for the Saturday Evening Post, an important national magazine at the time (late 1940’s) that said that we were receiving “all of the essentials and none of the frills of modern psychiatry.”

    Yes, the abuses of psychiatry were in the past, he said. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

  • I think this is a great project. I escaped being drugged because my childhood spent in the system was so long ago. But in the past couple of years I have been educated by a lot of people and groups that have had to struggle with this, and I really admire and respect people who have made the choice to get off these poisons. I think it takes a lot of courage and strength of character to do this, and I also think that people who have gone through this can be leaders in our human rights movement, and of course, some of them are already.

    So thanks to MIA for doing this. It will be a wonderful service for people.

  • I know I’m repeating what everyone has already said, but I think these ideas should be repeated over and over. People kill themselves, or try to, because of their life situations. This is so clear that anyone paying attention can see the truth. How the damn “mental health” system has managed to turn being justifiably unhappy into a “mental illness” is beyond me. This situation is another example of how psychiatry has turned into a religion, a religion that demands human sacrifices.

  • This last comment is very enlightening to me. I guess I have been lucky in the doctors I have come in contact with. Of course, the attitude that human beings are profit centers is all over our society now. No reason that would not be true in the rest of the medical profession (if psychiatrists are really doctors).

  • While it may be true that newer psychiatrists may be more humane to start with than their older, more jaded colleagues, I don’t agree with the implicit premise that the institution of psychiatry will mainly be changed from within. Like any other institution that oppresses people, it has to be changed from without, by the general public, who do not yet realize how threatened they too are by psychiatry; and by the people who have already been damaged by it, we survivors who know full well what psychiatry stands for.

    And almost no one, even in the survivor movement, even seems to think about the tens of millions of people who have been trapped in the system for a short time, and have fought their way out of it. These in-the-closet survivors give us the possibility of a real mass movement, if only we could figure out how to recruit them. I think we could start by trying to create a supportive and nurturing community in our existing movement. Coming out of the closet, for many secret survivors, will mean lost relationships, lost jobs, the social status of a leper. At least in return we could offer a supportive community.

    But expecting to end the oppressive nature of psychiatry from the inside is exactly like trying to end slavery by appealing to the moral sensibilities of the slaveowners. Yes, there WERE decent slaveowners who came to see that treating human beings as things, as property, was wrong. But it took a lot more than that to end slavery (which even now, as we see, still exists to some extent.).

    Evil systems won’t change themselves, and it is not realistic to believe that can happen.

  • It took me a few minutes to figure out what Sera was talking about, as I never go to such conferences. I cannot imagine how attending gatherings of mental health bureaucrats would accomplish anything towards my liberation — from the oppression of mental health bureaucrats.

    I guess if your political activity is mainly running a agency that these mental health bureaucrats fund, it sort of forces you to rub elbows with them. I am grateful that I don’t have to do this.

    I don’t mean by this to attack Sera, as I believe she is diligently and sincerely trying to create a helpful agency for people who have been trapped in the “mental health” system. But I think what she is railing against should have been pretty obvious to her. Of course the bureaucrats and the shrinks don’t really respect us. As for most of them, they never will.

    We will get respect when we really start fighting back. They will respect us, or at least fear us, when they realize we are serious about working for our liberation. There is no future for our movement and our freedom as long as so many sincere and capable people spend their energy on the sort of nonsense that Sera writes about here.

    There will be no end to this garbage until we stop thinking that minor reforms will somehow lead to major changes. Even with the best of intentions, those who think they can accomplish something worthwhile by working within the system will be coopted by it. And the good energy and commitment they expend on this will just be wasted.

  • “(S)urely there’s room for people who disagree about things like: is there such a thing as mental illness and could some of it be partly biological? Or: Is it always wrong to use a substance, prescribed or unprescribed, to manage your pain?”

    Yes, and there is room in my conception of being anti-psychiatry for these ideas. I myself believe that there are some kinds of mental distress that have physical causes, particularly extreme mood swings, but also what psychiatrists call “schizophrenia.” I also believe that some instances of “depression” have a physiological basis. (Hope I don’t get attacked for this.)

    And while I would not take them myself, I can understand why some people feel so much emotional pain that they are willing to numb themselves out with drugs to escape it. I myself have taken benzos for short periods of time when life was making me feel unbearably anxious. Sometimes I even drink alcohol for the same reason, not good for me, I know.

    But just because that may be true, doesn’t mean that psychiatry as it is practiced is a force for good in our society. Almost everyone posting on MIA has experienced terrible abuse from the psychiatric profession, and this is not some rare incident.

    Psychiatry as a whole is really destructive to our society, and that’s why I consider myself to be anti-psychiatry. But as I wrote earlier in this thread, I am not interested in harassing people for whatever word they want to use to describe their attitude toward psychiatry. The important thing is that we all work together to take away psychiatry’s power to hurt people. I hope we can put our energy into activism, rather than talk talk talk talk talk at each other. (Notice I said “at” and not “with.”)

    Fighting over words is not helpful, especially when it leads to good people being attacked. So let’s give a big priority to figuring out what we can actually DO, and also to supporting and nurturing one another in our common struggle to free ourselves and the people we care about from the clutches of psychiatry.

  • Nancy, I agree that there seems to be a tendency among certain people in our movement to harangue and hassle people, and demand that they call themselves “anti-psychiatry.” Frankly, from what I can see, this almost always comes from people who are doing very little, if anything, to actually change the situation. This is becoming a new standard for being “politically correct,” a concept I find to be a royal pain in the butt.

    I DO consider myself to be anti-psychiatry, because I share all the concerns you have laid out in this article. You have mentioned dozens of reasons why we must fight back and take away the power of psychiatry. I think your politics about this issue and mine are 99% in agreement. ( I don’t agree with myself 100% of the time either.) So whether you call yourself anti-psychiatry or not, that is fine with me. I am sure when there is action to be taken we will be on the same side. I think it is a waste of time to harangue you to identify as anti-psychiatry, when in practice our politics on this issue are the same.

    BUT I think there is a value in calling oneself anti-psychiatry, and it was best revealed by Dr. Lieberman in one of his tantrums in the media, when he complained about the New York Times actually giving space to someone who dared to criticize the profession for which he is one of the main apologists. He talked about the concept of being anti-psychiatry the way people in the middle ages denied the concept that the earth is round and revolves around the sun. E. Fuller Torrey, who promotes taking away our constitutional rights, also talks about the anti-psychiatry position as if it were some kind of “mental illness” for which we should all be locked up.

    What this tells me is that these gentlemen (umm, is that the right word?) are TERRIFIED of the idea that the general public, as more and more people call themselves anti-psychiatry, will start seeing this as a reasonable point of view. Using this phrase is a shorthand way of saying that psychiatry is intellectually and morally bankrupt. And it is the general public we should be trying to reach.

    So I am going to continue to identify as anti-psychiatry, but I would never denounce you or anyone else if they don’t want to use that word. I don’t give a damn about political correctness, and I don’t want to try to be in charge of how people describe themselves. What is important to me is that those of us who see clearly the horrors of psychiatry, and the danger of the unlimited power they are demanding, stick together, with mutual respect and caring for one another, to fight back.

    I think the people who are trashing others who won’t use “politically correct” language are doing our movement a great disservice. If they feel so strongly about how bad psychiatry is, I think they should get off their butt and actually DO something about it, not appoint themselves as in charge of what words we use to describe ourselves.

  • I sure agree with that. It is better to try and fail than do nothing. And anyway, there is never a direct path to attaining social justice. I have been involved in organizing for a long time, and have had a few successes, but most of the time what I have tried to do doesn’t work. Still I keep trying, because this cause is so important, not just to me, but to all who have been abused by psychiatry, and to our larger society too.

    As far as “science” being used by psychiatry to justify what it has done, I don’t think that means we should decide that science is somehow to blame. When I was in a grad school program in psychology 50 years ago, the head of my department spoke about “scientism,” a kind of religion. That is what psychiatry takes advantage of, the tendency of people to believe that whatever is presented as “science” must be correct. But psychiatry is not “scientific.” The only thing scientific about it is that its apologists, like Dr. Lieberman, repeat the words “science” and “scientific” in every other sentence.

    Science, to me, is just a way to ascertain the truth. When what psychiatry does is evaluated through the real scientific method, it is clear what a fraud it is. Keep in mind that real science is on our side. It is important for us to point that out as much as we can.

  • John, I agree with you that it would be a good idea. Since I never was drugged, as I was locked up so long ago the drugs didn’t exist yet, I am only in a fe groups o people trying to get off them, but I can see there is a lot of understanding about why and how these drugs are pushed on people. I think there is already a degree of politicization in some of these groups.

    So in some of these groups, there is already a lot of consciousness-raising going on.

  • I think this is a very perceptive comment. Yes, by ignoring the fact hat most emotional distress and what is labeled “mental illness” is caused by the bad experiences people have, psychiatry is changing our culture in a very dangerous way. Essentially, what psychiatry is telling us is that fighting back against the abuses in our larger society is a symptom of mental illness.

    How well this fits in with the concentration of power and money that is corrupting our society.

  • I agree with “Sa” that family members and other people who are in NAMI now are potential folks who we should try to recruit to our movement. NAMI gets almost all its funding from the drug companies, and so its grassroots members are exposed to tons of pro-drug propaganda.

    I know a fair number of people who are NAMI members and really want what is best for their family members, and who want to be with other people with “mentally ill” relatives for support. If we could reach them, they would be powerful allies.

  • I very much like what Andrew Loder wrote, except I don’t think it is true that the purpose of peaceful protests is to ask those who oppress us to please stop. They are not the audience for this. The general public is the audience. At this point in time, the public hardly knows anything about our issues, and peaceful demonstrations bring these issues to their attention. The demos also help us recruit people to our cause.

    I also strongly agree that we need to do a lot more than mild protests. But I have to ask, who is going to do them? Right now our movement is not large. Before we can do civil disobedience, we have to have a reasonable number of people who are willing to do this. Calling for civil disobedience is a good thing, that I wholeheartedly agree with, but right now it is hard to get people to do ANYTHING, much less get arrested for blocking entrances to shock hospitals, etc.

    It is a big first step to get people to do more than just complain to one another, or click on the “like” button.

    I mean, I have read people who say we should have a million people march on Washington to demand justice for our issues. That is a great idea too, but where are those millions of people going to come from? We have to work from the stage where we are, and right now there is a lot of movement building to do.

  • Jim, can you think of any way people reading MIA can be helpful in this?

    While I am not sure of your general politics, I think one thing that could be helpful is that this particular case shows the influence of the uncontrolled influence of drug corporations on the government, something that Bernie Sanders might be convinced to start talking about in relation to psychiatry.

    After May 16, I hope to try to get some of our more political movement people to focus on influencing him to talk about our issues, Keep in mind that in 1985, he addressed our last Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont. No other politician has ever done something like this, as far as I know.

  • Yeah, I sure agree that our critical/anti-psychiatry movement should pay more attention to what happens to other disrespected groups in our society. As I go back a long way, I came to this movement from being a supporter of the civil rights movement in the 60’s and early 70’s.

    As a child, I already understood that what was being done to black people was the same as what was done to us, the inmates of the crazy house.

    I hope that this new rebellion, people refusing to be abused like this, will lead to OUR movement waking up and starting to fight back. The civil rights movement of the 60’s inspired everyone, and I hope it inspires us again.

  • I took a look at the comments, and what occurs to me is that the public gets much more upset about the drugging of children than of adults. When I was organizing the ban on shock treatment many years ago, I noticed that many people who would otherwise defend shock were outraged at the idea that I was given it at age six. Psychiatric abuse of children is an issue that resonates very deeply with people. Few will defend it, even if they otherwise practice the religion of psychiatry.

  • Wow, Chaya. I kind of skimmed the HuffPost article, but didn’t think to look at the comments. It is very unusual for HuffPost to publish anything very critical of psychiatry (though they do occasionally print articles by Bruce Levine and Peter Breggin). I think it may influence them to publish more articles like this if their readers are supportive as you describe.

  • Pretty daring call for fighting back, I must say. I think that with the newly reactivated civil rights movement, and with the increasing anger among the public about how a tiny group of rich people exploits all the rest of us, hopefully our movement for human rights in the “mental health” system won’t be far behind.

  • I think the idea of the Hearing Voices Network is great, and it does a lot to change the attitude of the public towards people with a mental illness label in general. It is wonderful to see people like Eleanor Longden getting a lot of public attention that counters the stereotypes of people who are considered outside the pale. But at the risk (which I often take) of being denounced as politically incorrect, I have to say that this is becoming a fad. I know there are a lot of people who I KNOW do not hear voices, jumping into this movement and claiming to be its leaders.

    In my ten years in a state hospital, and my decades in our movement, I have met very few people who hear voices. I think it is great that there is a trend now to help people to deal with this who have to deal with it, but let’s get real.

    Even though I think this is a good development, there are a LOT of other things that need to be done. We need to think about strategy in general. Just because this (very constructive) movement is getting a lot of public attention doesn’t mean that we should think it’s going to solve all the problems we have to face.

  • It seems really bizarre to me that the psychiatric profession does this. Obviously, the more sophisticated ones, like Dr. Pies (?) don’t want to have to defend the indefensible.

    I am wondering, though, whether this garbage is really worth the effort. It isn’t, I don’t think, an issue that most people care about that much, at least divorced from its context (pushing drugs). I think it may be diverting us from more important things, like trying to find an overall strategy for how to deal with the power of the psychiatric profession to abuse people almost at will.

  • I think this is wonderful, because Lieberman sounds like a fool.

    A short while back, the New York Times ran an article that was mildly critical pf psychiatry, and Lieberman actually demanded that the Times give him space for rebuttal. Of course, they refused, and Lieberman threw a virtual tantrum. But here, he has made a personal attack on someone, and a chance for rebuttal makes a lot of sense. Since it appears that the moderator of the program was openminded enough to give exposure to Bob’s ideas, a request for a rebuttal is likely to be successful, I would think.

    Lieberman’s book appears to be ghostwritten. Too bad for him he can’t carry around his ghostwriter with him to keep him from putting his foot in his mouth once again.

  • This conclusion goes way back. When I was a psychology grad student, one of the most discussed issues was that the results of therapy were the same across all theoretical approaches. It didn’t make much difference what kind of therapy it was. Therapy worked out well, the better the interpersonal relationship between the therapist and client.

    I think, going a little further with this idea, that it shows that people in severe mental/emotional distress are healed by emotional support. From the Quaker retreats to the Soteria houses, people get better when they are cared about and treated with respect and kindness.

    Respect and kindness…how hard that is to find in the “mental health” system. No wonder “mental illness” becomes chronic. You are upset, unhappy, not functioning well, and you are drugged and given the message that you are semi-subhuman (maybe not so semi) and will have to be drugged for the rest of your life.

    How can people believe that this is what society should provide to troubled people? I think it is because psychiatry has become a kind of cult, a belief system in which people believe the profession’s claims, even in the face of what they really do.

  • The earlier versions of the psych survivor movement failed because the NIMH (and later, SAMHSA) spent a large amount of money (by our standards) creating and continuing to fund Astroturf groups that advocated the policies of their funders. I was there in 1985, when after the first “Alternatives” conference, funded by NIMH, a large number of activists dropped out of our movement, as they recognized and were rightfully frightened by the power of money and government arrayed against us.

    Meanwhile, the drug companies and their public relations departments went into a frenzy to successfully convince the public that the solution to all problems in living was drugs and drugs and more drugs.

    Unlike even the gay movement, which also faces the attitude of the public (which is changing rapidly for the better) that they are somehow less than human, we psych survivors are up against a very profitable industry focussed on us, and on keeping us quiet and passive.

    Another huge problem for us is that we are invisible. Sure, there are strange people walking the streets who the public perceives as typical of psych survivors. But the fact is that almost all of the tens of millions of people who have been in the clutches of the mental illness system are out there with everyone else in society, trying to blend in, usually successfully. They have no motivation to come out of the closet, because all they will get for that are lost jobs, lost relationships, and the status of lepers. We have the potential to be a large and powerful movement, but we have not addressed how to bring these secret survivors into it.

  • Since I don’t really understand this story, I probably shouldn’t comment. I am glad this person finds it liberating to think of her problem as caused by her brain. Rather than making her feel helpless, as she says, it makes her feel less self-blaming.

    Somehow I am having trouble grasping this, but certainly anything that helps someone get control over her own life has got to be a good thing.

    I usually have an answer for anything like this, sort of, but not this time. I hope other people comment, with more understanding than I seem to have here.

  • In defense of the Times, they have published more and more stories skeptical of the psychiatric profession’s bizarre view of the world. Compared to the average media outlet, sometimes they sound like a version of Mad In America.

    After all, our friend Jeffrey Lieberman was heard to complain that the Times was persecuting his profession, so SOMETHING good is going on there.

  • Yeah, it certainly is frightening than so many Americans take psych drugs. And it means that our warnings to the public about the dangers of psych drugs run up against a lot of resistance from people who don’t want to face what they are doing to themselves.

    There was a very relevant article in the New York Times a few weeks ago called “Medicating Women’s Feelings,” by a feminist psychiatrist, where she encourages women to deal with the causes of their anxiety and unhappiness, instead of numbing themselves out. I think our culture devalues emotion to start with and then psychiatry promotes that.

    Like many other social institutions, psychiatry both mirrors the culture it arises from and then changes it.

  • This is the Huffington Post’s idea of looking critically at psychiatry: ask one of its leaders what he thinks. I have never seen them ever ask anyone with a psychiatric history to write anything. The fact that they treat people like me as non-persons tells you just what their attitude is toward these issues. It is a genteel version of “lock them up and throw away the key”

    These establishment liberals are the WORST when it comes to our issues.

  • While I agree with most of this article, this buzzword of “epigenetic” really bothers me. There is nothing new in saying that people’s behavior is determined by both”nature” and “nurture.” This was a big issue fifty years ago when I was in a couple of graduate programs in psychology, and it is a big issue today. But it is also pretty obvious. Just change “nature” to “genes” and there you are, a great new scientific discovery (sarcasm intended).

    All this “epigenetic” stuff is just a renaming of nature versus nurture, and really, it is pretty obvious. I don’t think people should take academic writing all that seriously. Writing like this confirms to me that I made the right choice when I dropped out of grad school. Clearly I was never cut out to be an academic.

  • Very powerful. This is the kind of thing the mainstream media should be reporting, not the drug company propaganda.

    What isn’t mentioned here (because you can’t mention everything, of course) is that after all these drugs, this woman now still has to process her grief. If the shrinks had left her alone and helped her to get the emotional support she needed, she would by now have been able to come to terms with her grief. The past doesn’t go away, you can only come to terms with it.

    But there is another important point I want to make, and I hope MIA doesn’t remove it. This assertion by psychiatrists that one has only 15 days to “get over it” betrays a very chilling worldview. How can one “get over ” this in 15 days? The answer is, only if your relationships with other people have no depth or strength at all. The average psychiatrist seems to see their clients, and other human beings as profit centers, to be drugged and exploited, not as fellow human beings to be cherished and nurtured.

    I would like to be able to ask them publicly how long it would take them to “get over” the death of someone close to them.

    If they answered, which I think is probably true for most of them, just a short while, what does this say about the moral character of psychiatrists? About their ability, or willingness, to be connected with other people? The profession, with the help of drug company PR money, has succeeded in portraying themselves as godlike omniscient figures we should model ourselves after. Psychiatry has become a kind of cult, a cult that demands human sacrifices.

    Surely, when one compares what psychiatrists on the whole actually do, with the misplaced trust and belief people have in psychiatry, there is a great gap. The public believes in psychiatry in spite of what it actually does.

    It is scary to see this, but unfortunately it is the reality. Religious beliefs are hard to challenge, but I think that is one of our tasks,as we struggle to replace psychiatry with real help for people in distress.

  • I am looking forward to reading this very much. I’m sure it will help me in my work. Also I want to say that I have very much appreciated Bonnie’s very helpful and well thought out writing on strategy for the anti-psychiatry movement.

    And Bob Whitaker’s new book Psychiatry Under the Influence is coming out this same month! I think there is some important intellectual momentum happening now.

    Looks like I am staying up late in the next few weeks to read the kind of books I can’t put down.

  • Wow, these fools are really amazing. Since they can’t defend their nonsense, they deny they ever said it, even though there are tons of statements by them easily findable on the internet and in other publications.

    They have become so used to telling any lies they want and not being challenged that they think they can get away with it forever. But those days will soon be over.

  • Act, yes. It occurs to me that, much as I agree with Bonnie about strategy, we can’t build alliances until we have a movement of our own to connect with other movements. We are at a point now where we have almost no activism at all. I think anything that gets people to stop talking and start acting is a great leap forward.

    That is one thing we are addressing with the coordinated demos on May 16.

    The other thing that is holding us back, and is very related, is the incredible nastiness we express to one another in the psych survivors movement. I ask myself every time I try to do something why I am letting myself get into this swamp. Sometimes I feel as if I have gone back to my childhood in Rockland State Hospital, where I would be physically and emotionally assaulted all day long sometimes.

    There are tens of millions of people in the US who have been inmates of psychiatric institutions. They keep their psych histories secret, since anyone who admits to it is at risk of losing jobs, being rejected by friends and lovers, all those things. These are people who could make a great contribution to this cause. But you really would have to be crazy to join this movement the way it is now.

    This happens to a lesser degree in other movements and the general left as well. But our movement is the WORST.

    I don’t know the solution to this, but I know that as long as working in this movement means being attacked constantly, no one is going to join us. If we don’t address this soon, I think our movement will stop existing.

  • I think that is a good point, though not easy to carry out. Besides the difficulty of getting an audience, our movement itself, at least a lot of the people in it, doesn’t seem to grasp how ridiculous the claims of psychiatry are. Before we can convince others of this, we have to perceive it ourselves. When I have pointed out what nonsense much of the psychiatric propaganda is, I have been met by something like, no, no, no, it’s serious because everyone believes it. This is just a manifestation of folks in our movement not being able to think strategically.

    A good example of how humor can be used, though, is the recent program about drug company propaganda by the comedian John Oliver. One line just really cracked me up: “Ask your doctor if taking bribes from drug companies is right for you.”

  • I was hoping you would have a simple solution, Bonnie, lol…sigh.

    As you know, I am working right now on the issue of shock. I think it is a way to get the public to see the true nature of psychiatry, and it is also something we can get our very fragmented movement to agree on.

    But I think you are right that the issue that would really resonate with the public is the psychiatric abuse of children. I think if we did this, it would make a lot of people, especially of course parents, rally to our cause.

    Unfortunately, it has been very hard to get people in our movement to see this. When four-year-old Rebecca Riley died eight or ten years ago of massive doses of psychiatric drugs, her tragedy got national media coverage, which our issues rarely do.

    When Justine Pelletier was taken from her parents by psychiatrists because they refused to have her “treated” for her “mental illness,” literally tens of thousands of people came to her aid.

    But in both cases, which both happened in the same city, our psych survivor movement just sat there, saying and doing nothing. It seems there was no appreciation of how important it was that a child was being abused by psychiatry, and that it was being noticed by the media.

    I played a small role in fighting for Justina, and I came to Boston several times to try to help. I was appalled by the disinterest shown by our own people. We could have focused the discussion of Justina on the issue of psychiatry, instead of the “disagreement among doctors” explanation by the media. It wasn’t a disagreement among doctors. It was a naked power grab by psychiatry, which if our movement had paid attention could have been brought to the attention of millions of parents. We could have reached many of these parents and formed coalitions with them.

    I totally agree with you about coalitions being a means to expand the influence of our movement, and what more logical, and powerful, coalition than with parents? Recently, I have had the chance to work a little with parents who have come to realize that psychiatry was harming their kids, not helping them. They are wonderful allies, very respectful of us survivors, because they have seen for themselves that the propaganda of psychiatry is lies.

    I hope you write more about this issue. I think the issue of psychiatric abuse of children can be very powerful, but it is very hard to get our people to see this. In general, it is very hard to get our people to act in a strategic way. And since our movement is not large, we have to think hard about how to use our limited resources.

    Keep up your good work, Bonnie!

  • I really like this powerful and true article. But we should keep in mind that it will take a long, hard struggle before we can create a system where people wanting real help with their problems in living get the kind of help that Sarah writes about here. In the meanwhile, I hope our movement for human rights can take the lead in helping one another in the way she describes.

    We need to be giving one another the human connection, the nurturing, the respect that Sarah talks about. It is so hard to work in this movement now without that. Yet it is so comforting and inspiring when I am working with other comrades in this movement who give support and caring to one another.

    Let’s do this! Let’s model what we advocate for. Let’s make our whole movement the kind of supportive community that all people need.

  • I am deeply troubled by the attitudes expressed in this article.

    It has been well established that SSRI’s may set off homicidal and suicidal impulses. The FDA, hardly a bunch of anti-drug radicals, list this as one of the “side” effects of these drugs. In virtually every one of the mass shootings that we are hearing about now, the perpetrators were on psychiatric drugs. The increase in mass shootings and the increased use of psychiatric drugs since the Eighties have gone hand in hand.

    Even if only one in ten thousand of the people taking these drugs has this reaction,(and it is unlikely that the figure is this small) that is one hundred people per million. In the US now, there are tens of millions of people taking the drugs. Let’s say that (very conservatively) there are forty million Americans on SSRIs. That is four thousand people who fall into a homicidal rage. Of course. some people can check themselves, but others won’t.

    How is pointing this out somehow “extremism”? Since when has it become a virtue not to take a stand?

    I think this position is immoral.

    In Germany in the 1930’s, the “centrist” position would have been that only half of the Jews should be killed. I know there will be an uproar about what I just said, but it’s true. I think that anyone who claims that what I have said was too “extreme” should say what position THEY would have taken at that time and place. Because what I have just described WAS the “centrist” position.

    Sometimes one has to have the courage to speak out about what is right. And sometimes people have to look at the practical effect of refusing to take a position. We are not discussing some interesting philosophical problem. We are talking about the lives and suffering of millions of people.

    There are times when it is correct to find right and wrong on both sides. This is not one of them.

  • I was in a very similar place in Vancouver, the Vancouver Emotional Emergency Center, at a crisis in my life, and I think it might have saved my life. I of course had more sense than to sign myself into a psych ward, but I was emotionally paralyzed at a time when I needed to move on.

    Places like VEEC and Soteria are badly needed. But we have to fight politically for them, because the system in place now does all it can to prevent them from being funded or even allowed to exist.

    Alternatives and fighting the existing system have to go together. We see that now in Western Massachusetts, where people are losing their funding for a “peer run” service center. Without political power, which we MUST develop, very few good programs will be allowed to exist.

  • Yes, I do think this article will encourage people to get off their drugs.

    I am more and more impressed by people who have the courage to free themselves from these poisons. And I have also seen that people who do this have become some of the best activists in our human rights movement. Anyone who can choose to go through the ordeal of getting off these poisons is really almost heroic.

    Thanks for this article, Chaya. It will help a lot of people.

  • Thanks for the praise, Chaya,and of course your help would be very welcome. I have tentatively set the time and place as Herrick Hospital in Berkeley from 2 to 4, but there are shock shops in San Francisco as well. If we had enough people we could do both. Thanks for the suggestion about contacting the people who were at Leonard Frank’s memorial. I’ll bet almost all of them will come to this demonstration. Let’s talk soon.

  • I was heartened by Dr. Pies’ complaint about Mad In America. It shows that mainstream psychiatry feels very threatened by any real public discussion of its shortcomings.

    What will he be saying if/when our movement for human rights actually leaves its bubble and starts fighting back very publicly?

    I think mainstream psychiatry feels so threatened is because they know the profession is based on lies and does a lot more harm than good. Once the media starts giving some space to our arguments, psychiatry is going to be very exposed. And I think that will happen.

  • The Forbes story is a bit weird, since after pointing out that the FDA recognizes suicidal and homicidal thinking as a possible “side effect” of the drugs, the author seems to back out by the end.

    The writer in the Daily Mail is much more forthright, and I am told by Cheryl Prax, a survivor activist in London, that this reporter frequently is critical of psych drugs.

    At least (I hope) we won’t have to read the usual “if only he could have received psychiatric help before this happened.” Or will we?

  • We now have a sort of steering committee in place, and have even been able to hire someone part time as staff. Someone sent us a very good logo suitable for a t-shirt and we will be trying to decide what to do about t-shirts soon. What I am most concerned about is if we get a whole bunch made and don’t have time to sell them. Fulfilling orders will be very time consuming as well. But just the same, I think it is a great idea.

  • The comment about “extremism” reminds me of a Jules Feiffer cartoon from many years ago at a time when black schools were being bombed in the South. It was a parody of President Eisenhower saying that he was “against extremists on both sides, those who want to bomb the schools and those who want to keep them open.” There’s nothing extreme going on here except the extremely damaging way people like me are treated by the profession of psychiatry.

  • This is great. Right now I am tied up with the May 16 anti-shock demos. But drugging children is definitely the issue I want to be involved in next. I will write you privately about this.

    And to Mad In America, I am very happy to see this emphasis on supporting actions that try to actually DO something about the abuses practiced by psychiatry.

  • Well, finally at least one mainstream media outlet is getting the facts approximately right. For coverage that portrays people like me (and probably you) as demented killers, check out almost any story on the Huffington Post. On the issue of vision problems, their version is that they were caused by the co-pilot’s “mental illness.” Think about what that angle conveys about what we survivors are: warped monsters and freaks. For other equally bigoted stories on psychiatry, check out their recent review of Jeffrey Lieberman’s book “Shrinks,” written by someone who claims to be very happy with his lifetime drugging with ADHD amphetamines, who is most likely just a PR person for the drug companies. At about the same time, there is an article on “teenage depression,” written by someone who purports to be a 16-year-old girl. Amusingly, if that’s the word, this supposed teenager slings around the obscure language of psych drug propaganda like an experienced public relations shill. Maybe she is so brilliant that she is the youngest person ever hired for such a job.

    I am not holding my breath waiting for some mainstream media outlet to point out that if psychiatry is so helpful, how is it they didn’t help this man? I am sure we will soon see stories saying the usual “if only he could have received psychiatric help sooner.”

    I don’t know what we can do about this yet, but I think it is important for our movement to take notice of which major media outlets promote psychiatry and demonize people with psych labels. For this, I nominate Huffington Post and NPR (National Pharmaceutical Radio) for some kind of award.

    On the other hand, the Guardian newspaper (out of the UK) and, recently, the New York Times, have written critically about psychiatry. In fact, one story in the Times was responded to angrily by Dr. Lieberman in some medical journal while practically foaming at the mouth. Recent stories in the Times about psychiatry have often been so close to our perspective that they would not at all be out of place in Mad In America. I highly recommend one called “Medicating Women’s Emotions” by a feminist psychiatrist. She said that women who feel unhappy and anxious shouldn’t drug away their feelings, but go out into the world and do something about what is causing their unhappiness. Great article.

  • I already knew about about the end of the exclusion of the mourning period in the DSM5. Is this something different? If so, I find it hard to believe, given the flak psychiatry has already received over this issue. But it seems there is no end to how brazen these people are.

    A shock doctor gets put in charge of a $400 million slush fund, designed to promote brain interventions for “mental illness.” Michelle Obama joins NAMI in calling for more drugs for the “mentally ill.” At times like this, it seems as if we are going backwards in our movement for human rights.

    When I hear about these things, as someone who has been in this movement since 1971, it’s very hard not to give in to despair.

  • I think it is very important to note where this interview was aired. National Public Radio, aka National Pharmaceutical Radio, is one of the worst media outlets when it comes to issues of psychiatric abuse. Many of its listeners believe they are going to get a progressive view of issues when they tune in, but what they get regarding the field of “mental health” is just the opposite. No media outlet is a stronger apologist for psychiatry and its atrocities than NPR.

  • I think Peter Breggin would be one of the best sources. He is a dissident psychiatrist who has been fighting the excesses of his profession for many years. Sorry I don’t have a specific reference for you, but if you Google Breggin and shock it will turn up something informative.

    An even better source of information would be if you asked the people who had it what their experience was. I was six years old when I was experimented on, and I can tell you the experience was terrifying, caused me to lose a lot of memory, and is something I am still struggling with over seventy years later. My friend who is working with me organizing the May 16 event lost her memory for her long marriage, her children in their younger years, and her 25 year career as a nurse, which she had dreamed of as a little girl. What is even worse, she can no longer practice her profession and often forgets events that have happened just days or even hours before.

    These are not isolated incidents, but quite typical.

  • My computer keeps eating my comment, but I will try again.

    This is nothing new from Lieberman, and as Bob so well points out, both he and his profession of psychiatry are emperors without clothes. How do they get away with this? Because the mass media give virtually no exposure to psychiatry’s critics.

    One thing about our approach is that while it is extremely valuable and necessary for folks like Bob to expose how scientifically invalid the claims of psychiatry are, the average person on the street is not going to get excited about that, even if we were able to get these ideas more exposure.

    When we write about how much damage the practices of psychiatry causes, this is not an abstraction. These are severe human rights violations,and we should be saying so. Other movements for human rights, like the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, were able to get their message out, because they made themselves very visible.

    We can and should be doing that too. Elsewhere on MIA, I have written about the demonstrations against shock treatment in dozens of cities which will happen on May 16. This is the kind of action human rights movements do. I have already been contacted by a journalist connected with the New York Times about this, because the media take this kind of action seriously.

    Of course, shock treatment is only one of many abuses. But it is an abuse that the average person on the street knows in their hearts is wrong, and a first step in breaking the myth that psychiatry is a benevolent institution. I urge everyone reading this to participate in, or organize, a May 16 demo in your area. If we want our rights respected, we have to fight for them!

  • Beautifully written and powerful. The world needs more books like this. The way you were made to feel comes across very strongly, and the general public needs to know how useless most medical professionals are in situations like this. Don’t stop writing, you are on to something good.

  • Thanks, Phil Hickey, for yet another great article. It has occurred to me that if our human rights movement concentrated more on the psychiatric abuse of children, we might be able to make more progress in showing the public how destructive psychiatric “treatment” is. Like shock treatment, the average person, I think, becomes pretty concerned when they hear about children being hurt, and understands that something is very wrong with psychiatry.

  • It’s a good thing to talk about all the possible helpful interventions that people could experience. Like all alternatives to the present system, though, they will have to be fought for. I think working for alternatives and fighting against the routine abuse offered by psychiatry now have to be done at the same time. The psychiatric/drug company system is not going to give up its power without a fight.

  • Well, I’m not sure what that action could be. As you know, we put it on the ballot many years ago in Berkeley, and the voters adopted a ban. But the courts ruled that the city did not have authority to ban it, only the state.

    I am thinking about trying to put it on the ballot in Oregon, where I am probably moving soon.

    As for more aggressive actions, it would be best not to talk about them. What my gut feelings are, and what my brain tells me would be practical, are two different things. But I do think we are up against a very evil system that needs to be fought just as hard as we can..

  • We are fighting a powerful institution, and it will take much effort and time to win this fight. This is true for almost all campaigns for social justice. It took black people 400 years to get where they are today, and there is still a lot to be done. I am not happy seeing how much progress we have to make. But I do think these coordinated demonstrations have a good chance of putting ourselves back in the public eye and forcing people to recognize the justice of our cause.

    I refuse to give up, and I don’t think you should give up either.

  • I think the most significant statement in this article is the sentence wherein the authors talk about the “most significant stakeholders.” I notice that the clients/victims of psychiatry are not on this list.

    But the authors have no hesitation in claiming to speak for these very people, that include me.

    I think this is the essence of articles like this. E. Fuller Torrey does this as well.

  • Of course, I am sure everyone reading MIA knows this, that anyone foolish enough to talk about how down they feel will find themselves on a psych ward, pumped full of drugs, just as fast as the police can get there. And ultimately, as we also know, their chances of actually killing themselves will be extremely more likely.

    I don’t know how we can alert people to this danger, but I wish we can find some way to try.

  • I am really happy the two of you have already connected. It tells me something is really going to happen there. And even if the two of you can only get a small group, like ten or twelve to demonstrate, I think a demonstration over this issue would really catch the attention of the public and the media there. It would be a novelty, an issue the country is not used to, and I think the chances are high that the local media will pick it up. This I think is especially likely if you and Katherine bring up that this is happening in several dozen places. Good luck, and I am glad you are involved.

  • David, I would really appreciate it if you would please stop highjacking the discussion of this article. Your comments are supposed to be relevant to the subject of the article. If you want to discuss philosophical ideas or abstract theories, why don’t you write an article yourself and submit it to Mad In America and ask them to publish it? I promise that if I comment on it, my comments will be to the point and related to what you have written.

    Please be considerate of others here.

  • Hi, Someone Else. If you go to ectjustice.com, all the cities who have demos planned will be listed there, with most of the contact info. We are trying to find as many people as possible who will pledge to organize an event in their town. I agree with you that a protest in a smaller place can have a big impact,and we are doing our best to find people in small cities. If you live in a small town, even a handful of people can have an effective demonstration, especially since media in those places are always looking for local news.

    I don’t know where you live, but if there is no demo set up near you, I would hope you would consider organizing one yourself. As I wrote in this blog, it isn’t that complicated, and we can help you figure out any problems.

  • Compromised as academia may be right now, just the same I would not criticize anyone who goes into it with an ethical attitude and a willingness to take risks to make the kind of change that should happen.

    I mean, having ANY kind of standard career puts on in a position of working in a compromised setting.

    The kind of people who really make me angry, though, are those who actually DEFEND the system in order to get a job. That isn’t what this article is about.

  • John, I understand you live some distance from London, but if you are willing to organize a shock protest in your city on May 16, please contact Cheryl Prax with Speak Out Against Psychiatry. I know you can get it done, and I have a lot of respect for the comments you have made here over the last couple of years. So I hope you decide to do this. Our movement needs more people like you who are willing to be leaders.

  • As someone who was given a diagnosis of “schizophrenia” at age six, so I could be experimented on with electric shock treatment, I am wholeheartedly in agreement with Peter’s call for protecting children against psychiatry’s eagerness to drug and otherwise hurt them. I want to thank Peter for his work over the years to protect people like me and millions of others from the abuses of the “mental health” system.

    I also want to say to everyone who is concerned about human rights in the psychiatric system that a focus on the abuse of childen would resonate strongly with the general public, who after all will eventually decide about the kind of system we should have to help people with their emotional and other problems in life. I have been disappointed with our movement as it failed to engage with the situations of Rebecca Riley and Justina Pelletier, two children who were horribly abused by psychiatry. Even the mainstream media followed the situations of these two kids, yet we stood by and did nothing. This was an chance to reach the public with the truth about psychiatry. Why didn’t we take this opportunity?

  • Very thought-provoking. This article reminds me again of the power of words, which a lot of people in our movement don’t pay enough attention to, in my opinion. One of the sources of power for psychiatry is this misleading use of words, and the tendency of most people not to try very hard to look for the meanings (and manipulation) behind them

  • I hate to just repeat what everyone else is saying, but this is just an ad for the drug industry. But what would one expect? Forbes is a very conservative business magazine.

    Don’t you just love the way the author skims over that fact that antidepressants work no better than placebo? People who aren’t really depressed fake their symptoms so they can be included in drug trials????? Huh? Really bizarre.

  • I like this article too. It takes on an issue that we who consider ourselves as anti-psychiatry probably have not thought through very well. I would never put anyone down for taking psych drugs long term, but telling people what you think is good for them can be condescending. Chaya, you deserve a lot of credit for being willing to grapple with this issue, and I really appreciate what you have written here.

    I am grateful that you have started a very important discussion.

  • Right on to you, Michael. The only problem I have with this article is that you are picking on such a weak opponent. Lieberman’s arguments are intellectually pathetic, and even though I don’t have a high opinion of psychiatry, I still can’t understand how Lieberman was chosen the president of the APA.

    But I hope Doctor Lieberman continues to write, in as many publications as possible, as often as possible. He is one of our secret weapons.

  • Although they are not always consistent in this, the Times frequently runs stories that are critical of psychiatry and the drug companies. This is rare in the mainstream media. Another type of story they have run which is very helpful to our cause is first person accounts of various problems that people have with psychiatry, Recently there was one by a woman who is struggling to get off psych drugs. Another one, maybe a year ago, that really struck me was an account by a veteran returning from, I think, Afghanistan. He had made an actual suicide attempt, and signed himself into the local psych ward expecting to get help. After a week or so of “treatment,” consisting of a five-minute interview with a psychiatrist and a prescription for a bunch of drugs, plus sitting all day in a dayroom in front of the TV, he realized he was not going to get any help and signed himself out (lucky that he could). It is almost unheard of now that psych survivors are presented as human beings in the media.

    Of course, for the survivors reading MIA, this didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. But for the regular readers of the Times, this must have been revelatory.

    For those readers of MIA who are activists, this suggests to me that focusing on the Times to try to get them to cover our actions might well be fruitful. Hopefully they will cover the upcoming May 16 demonstrations in many cities to protest shock treatment.

  • I think this could be very helpful to us. If the GAO creates some pressure, and the federal “mental health” system has to account for what it does, it might raise HUGE questions in the mind of government officials who pay for this terrible system. As we know, the fact is, overall, typical psychiatric interventions cause more harm than good. Yet more and more taxpayer money goes to pay for them.

    One of the most illuminating studies of all was reported on in MIA recently about the connection between degree of exposure to psychiatry and the likelihood of committing suicide. This Danish study showed that people were FORTY-FOUR TIMES (not percent, times) more likely to commit suicide if they spent some time as an inmate on a psych ward in the past year..

    Imagine what would happen if the GAO looked at this kind of research and reported it to Congress.

  • There is a big difference between people who are not psychiatric survivors and who dabble in our issues, for whatever reason, and sincere allies who have put their jobs and careers at risk to support us, like Richard, like Bob Whitaker, like the late psychiatrist Loren Mosher. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t easily trust non-survivors in the context of our movement. But I don’t think it is right to dismiss Richard’s arguments because he is not a survivor. I know what he has done for other people trapped in the psychiatric system, and I respect what he has to say here.

  • I just can’t resist saying how amused I am by this article. Psychiatrists have become so used to being treated with undeserved deference that they fall to pieces when they get some long-deserved criticism. I have seen other articles by Lieberman where he makes the same complaint. And his other complaint, that psychiatry is the only “medical” specialty that has a whole movement opposing it, is just a riot. It isn’t an argument against being anti-psychiatry. It is an argument for it.

    This man was the president of the American Psychiatric Association! If he is the best psychiatry can up with as their spokesperson, we in the anti-psychiatry movement should expect to win soon.

    Keep the faith, Doctor Lieberman! Write as many articles as you can.

    Maybe you and I can even debate on television, eh? After all, I am just a lifelong schizophrenic, so you would have nothing to fear.

  • How sad that this is being taken seriously. Our movement is not very strong as it is. Now we are told that we are too militant? That is the same position that the psychiatric system takes.

    I suggest that anyone reading things like that should ignore it. We have a lot of work to do. Those who think psychiatry isn’t really so bad have a right to their opinion. Those who want a job in the system have a right to do that too. But they don’t have a moral right to tell us that we should not defend ourselves, and we shouldn’t take this seriously.

    Again, we have work to do, and we should keep our focus on that.

    I do have to say, for those who don’t know me, lol, that I can’t say what I really think because MIA will remove my comment. But I must say that people who defend evil don’t deserve our respect.

    There is a quote from the Talmud that I like that is very relevant: “Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act.” Think about it.

  • Yeah, being older, I well remember the enormous claims of the prevalence of “mental illness” that were made in the Fifties, when I was a psychology major in New York. There was something called the Midtown Study, which every year interviewed people in Manhattan and claimed that eighty per cent were “mentally ill.” We students laughed at that, because it was so clear what a nonsensical overreach it was. Now, as you point out, the figures are adjusted to something that sounds believable. Otherwise, the apologists for psychiatry would be laughed out of court.

    Great article.

  • Doctor Elliot, I really admire your persistence and courage in exposing what that university has done. You are a good man.

    But I suspect the University of Minnesota is just the tip of the iceberg. Particularly, I see Harvard University, with far more power and prestige (and money), approving, by its failure to act, the heinous behavior of Doctor Joseph Biederman, who was exposed by Senator Charles Grassley as taking money from psychiatric drug companies to further his “research” on drugging small children and ruining their lives. If only there were someone at Harvard with your tenacity and courage.

  • I read this article elsewhere this morning, and I think it is a beautiful and moving essay that goes right to the heart of what is wrong with the psychiatric system. Psychiatry claims to help people, yet before anything else, it tries to reduce them to the status of subhumans, even in their own minds. Shock treatment, drugging people into oblivion and an early death, restraints, solitary confinement — how can anyone do this to another human being? But we psychiatric “patients” are not seen as human beings by those who claim to help us.

    I have struggled for many years to overcome the self-hatred that psychiatrists forced on me as a child. And almost all of the psych survivors I know have had to struggle with this.

    Thank you for this beautiful and true article.

  • It’s great that the Times will publish something like this, a break from the usual drug company propaganda found in almost all the mass media.

    I didn’t try to read the comments, but it is very frightening to hear about the religious fanaticism. And it is a religion that demands human sacrifices.

  • When I hear or read people lecturing me about how anyone who disagrees with them is racist, sexist, etc., it has almost always been my experience that they themselves are coming from a position of great privilege. Myself, my first political activity was in the civil rights movement of the Sixties. I got into it because of my own experience. I was torn from my foster parents at age six and experimented on with shock treatment, then sent to a state hospital (of the 1950’s) for the rest of my childhood. For this reason, I have identified with all people who have been put into a situation where their humanity is disregarded and their human rights taken away. So I think when people make accusations of this sort they are often wrapping themselves in the flag of someone else’s liberation. And I have to ask them: what have you experienced in your own life?

  • It just occurred to me that what was lacking in this article, and in pretty much all articles in Mad In America these days, was any acknowledgement of human rights violations in psychiatry at all. Since the author attacks the “dogmatism” of anti-psychiatry, I think it’s valid to discuss this.

    I think psychiatry cannot be reformed any more than slavery. There were many people before the Civil War who advocated for the reform of slavery. Slavery benefited the slaves, they said, who were not capable of dealing with freedom or functioning as citizens. (Doesn’t this sound familiar?) So the reformers wanted such things as less beatings and kinder treatment.

    That’s what those who think psychiatry should be reformed are basically advocating for too. But reforming psychiatry and reforming slavery lead to the same thing: the perpetuation of a system whose basic purpose is to take away the human rights of the people who are subjected to it.

    I also think there is some confusion, which is encouraged by people like Dr. Torrey, about what it would mean not to have psychiatry as a system that people turn to when they are in distress. If psychiatry lost its power, its defenders say, then people would have nowhere to turn for help. This is really nonsense.

    Programs like Soteria House and peer-run respite centers help people, and they are not run by psychiatrists. In fact, the psychiatric profession fights them tooth and nail. Decent psychiatrists like the late Loren Mosher, who started the first Soteria House, are viciously attacked by their colleagues. In Dr. Mosher’s case, he was driven out of his position in the NIMH as a result of his advocacy of a more humane way of dealing with people in distress.

    I totally support the efforts to develop alternative ways of helping people with emotional problems. But while working on these alternatives , we must recognize that to put them into practice, it will be necessary to fight for them politically.

    I think working for alternatives and having an antipsychiatry position go hand in hand.

    Anyway, I am disappointed that MIA recently seems to be presenting only a reformist view. I don’t think analyses of the fine points of psychiatric treatment is going to advance anything important any more than talking about reforms to slavery was very helpful either.

    At bottom, the real problem with psychiatry (as with slavery) is its consistent and intense violation of the human rights of the people who come under its control. Talking about reform just helps to perpetuate these violations. We should be concentrating on ending them.

  • I had a lot of trouble understanding this, and I am not sure I was supposed to. I think the writer did have something worthwhile to say, but in spite of my Phi Beta Kappa key and several degrees, I just couldn’t follow it. Hey, I am even a lawyer, and we lawyers really know how to be obscure, but this beats me.

    I also take issue with this nonsense about “dogmatic anti-psychiatry positions.” There is nothing dogmatic about being anti-psychiatry. For me, it simply means that I see psychiatry as a whole to be an institution that does a great deal of harm and very little good. People like E.Fuller Torrey have managed to create this nonsensical idea that if you oppose what they are doing you are beyond the pale. And they have actually frightened a lot of people who know very well how destructive psychiatry is from speaking out. This is just plain silly…but dangerous.

  • I think my comment was somewhat misunderstood. I am not opposed to alternatives at all, and I agree with what Duane said about how we need to get rid of forced psychiatry AND develop alternative ways of doing things that will help people in mental/emotional distress. What is bothering me is that it seems that MIA is not encouraging other kinds of organizing. I don’t agree that psychiatry is going to be changed from within, or by developing alternatives. The psychiatric profession is not going to stand by while their power is being taken away.

    Look at what happened to Loren Mosher when he developed the original Soteria House because he felt drugs were not being helpful to people. The programs were defunded, and he was driven out of his high-ranking job in the NIMH. (And I would add, he was a fine decent man, whom I was privileged to know personally.)

    No amount of alternatives, by themselves, will take away the power of psychiatry, the power that enables all the abuses people constantly write about, for good reason. That can only be done by a human rights movement, like all the other movements in this country, that directly confronts the psychiatric profession I mean, do we try to end racism by forming an “alternatives to racism” movement, to end rape by forming groups that advocate “alternatives to rape?”

    But I think this endless stream of mental health professionals on the pages of MIA, no matter how decent they are (and I think most of them are) sends the message that all we have to do to end psychiatric abuses is just leave it up to the professionals. I think this system is only going to change when its victims fight back. That is true of all other movements for social justice, and it is true of ours too.

    So I am not complaining about the articles these progressive professionals write, but that there seems to be no encouragement from MIA for the involvement of psychiatric survivors in our own liberation. And this greatly disappoints me.

  • I think this article is fine, and this doctor does sound like someone who cares about his patients. However, I notice that every time I go to this website, there is yet another article by a psychiatrist. I think MIA is making it clear that to the extent they want to see some changes in the “mental health” system, they think that system is somehow going to be changed from within.

    No other movement for social change has succeeded in this way. I am sad to conclude that MIA is not interested or willing to encourage organizing by the people who have been hurt by this system, unless they are trying to become part of it.

    I don’t feel good at all coming to this conclusion. On the other hand, it has become very clear that people like me, who you perhaps view as a dangerous radical or whatever, are not welcome on this website.

    I think it would be good for your readers to have this discussion, but I don’t see a forum for it here.

    Anyway, I am deeply disappointed by what has happened to MIA, and the political choices it has made.

  • Alex, I was very interested in your comment about classism in our movement. It’s an issue that I have been aware of for a long time, and I am thinking of writing an article about it in my upcoming blog/antipsychiatry journal. But I know it will stir up a hornet’s nest. Plus it isn’t just something in our survivors movement. You can see it everywhere on the left, everywhere in our country, actually.

    I would really like to discuss it with you and get the benefit of your thinking. I don’t have an email address for you, and I hesitate to post mine. But if you would like to discuss this issue with me, please write to me through Mad In America and we can chat. Thanks.

  • This just shows what “more money for mental health” means. Without any imagination or new programs, of course this was going to happen.

    “Less money for mental health” would have been a much better demand.

    It is rather ironic that client groups supported the earmarked new tax. They were promised innovative, frequently client-directed programs, but got little or nothing.

  • Yes, as Steve and Frank point out, using statistics on more people getting psychiatric “treatment” as a measure of health is really bizarre. What is even more bizarre, to me, is that a large proportion of the public probably thinks this makes sense. A lot of what people like SAMHSA say doesn’t make sense, and I think we should point this out as much as we can.

    I have seen discussions on social media where our folks try to debunk the latest pronouncements by Congressmen Murphy, E.Fuller Torrey, etc. by giving rational arguments. It would be much better, I think, to point out to the public that what these people are saying is utter nonsense.

  • It is important for us to look back on victories like these, Another similar victory that David doesn’t mention here is the historic vote in Berkeley, California to ban shock treatment there. That could not have happened either without David’s hard work.

    David also mentions another very important point that needs to be talked about: “Some activists dismiss electroshock as an issue for campaigns, because the vast majority of psychiatric treatment is of course with
    drugs. ” That is true, that many more people are drugged than shocked. But strategically, when we fight electroshock, we are attacking psychiatric power at one of its weakest points. This is very important if we think carefully about long term strategy.

    I don’t think most people right now see psychiatric drugs as a bad thing. But shock treatment is not something that many people support. When we fight it, and the psychiatric profession defends it, they discredit themselves. And this reduces the prestige and power that they have, which lies behind all of the abuses of psychiatry. When people stop perceiving psychiatrists as godlike figures, they will start to take a closer look at every horror that the profession promotes.

  • A very thoughtful and helpful article about an issue that needs a lot of attention. I was lucky (haha) not to have been drugged, because when I was locked up in a state hospital for ten years as a child the drugs we have now had not been invented yet. When I got out at age 17 in April 1954, I just escaped them. Two months later, every inmate of just about every state hospital was put on these drugs. If I had been caught, I would be dead now.

    Only in the last year, because of getting to know a few people who had the courage to fight to get off these poisons, have I realized what a terrible and widespread problem this is for millions of people. I think our movement should give this a very high priority.

  • Thank you for this very useful article.

    The phrase “evidence-based treatment,” as it is used by those advocating for the maximum use of psychiatric drugs, is almost amusing. I too am in favor of evidence-based treatment — because the evidence shows that what psychiatrists do isgenerally useless and damaging.

    So too the attacks on critics of psychiatry that they are “against science.” It is hard to imagine anything less scientific than the usual psychiatric practices. Something does not become scientific because the word “science” is repeated over and over.

  • Sascha, I have great respect for you, but I think saying that Icarus has “evolved” beyond an anti-psychiatry position is pretty disrespectful of those of us who would not use the word “evolved”against people we disagree with. I don’t think Icarus ever did call itself anti-psychiatry.

    Having said that, I am very interested in whatever ideas Icarus has come up with that would be good alternatives to psychiatry in your opinion. Maybe I could get involved with them in some way.

  • I am all for alternatives to psychiatry, and I think people who have talent or interest in that direction should work on them. But I certainly don’t think that the psychiatric profession and the “mental health” system are just going to stand there while they are replaced. Psychiatry has to have its power taken away, because they aren’t just going to throw up their hands and give up when we tell them about how we want things done. As for the concept of “anti-psychiatry” turning people off, I haven’t seen that, plus the concept is just finding its way out there.

  • I really liked this very thoughtful article. When I was a child, since I grew up in a state hospital and I had almost no adult support, I had to figure out for myself what I thought about things. I knew it would be dangerous for me if I accepted all the beliefs I was supposed to agree with. And I still see a lot of the ideas that I am supposed to agree with without question as irrational and, yes, delusional.

    It is very hard sometimes not to go along with the program, but it still seems dangerous to me to agree with beliefs that are called “normal” that seems to have no grounding in reality. It gets me in trouble sometimes, since most people, as the author points our here, react almost violently when their beliefs are challenged.

    It is hard and dangerous to think for oneself.

  • Thank you for this article. I like the title too. Yes, anyone who really cares about helping people and pays attention to the way psychiatry is almost always practiced should not be afraid of calling themselves antipsychiatry. I think that anyone who is willing to define themselves in this way is making an important contribution towards the day when people in distress can find respect and real help.

  • I have become very fascinated lately with the various complaints of the psychiatric profession that people just don’t understand the great contribution they are making to society. It is amusing, sort of, to see that they appear to be very worried that those who oppose them are making such progress.

    If only it were true! As Bonnie points out, our work as antipsychiatry activists is almost invisible in the media, and the general public is hardly aware our movement exists. And criticism of psychiatry in the media, to the tiny extent it exists, NEVER is seen to come from psychiatry’s victims. One would think that all psychiatric “patients” are crazed killers wandering the streets talking to themselves…all thirty million of us in the United States who have been inmates of psychiatric institutions.

    How can we take advantage of this newfound anxiety and paranoia among psychiatrists (besides suggesting that they try some of their own drugs)? One useful and easy thing we can do, I think, is not run away from the label “antipsychiatry.” Bonnie sets a good example here. I think the more we adopt that name for our movement, the more the public will see our point of view as legitimate.

    It is our job to raise this question: given the great damage psychiatry has done and continues to do to millions of people, and ultimately to our entire society, how could anyone who paying attention be anything other than antipsychiatry?

  • Just to point out the obvious, of course the shock treatment reduces agitation and aggression. It reduces every other kind of expression of emotion as well.

    If we want to stop this, we have to be “agitated and aggressive” ourselves. We were able to stop shock in Berkeley, CA, thirty years ago by taking the question to the ballot, where we prevailed overwhelmingly. I think the public still thinks that shock is barbaric, and our movement should be raising this issue a lot more than we have. In general, our movement for human rights needs more action and less talk.

  • Very interesting, coming from someone who was a high level administrator in the Oregon “mental health” system. What he says shouldn’t surprise anyone who reads MIA regularly. But I would hope what he says could reach other government officials, those who want to see at least some real help given to people with emotional problems.

    I think this would be a good article to encourage such people to read. Thank you for writing it.

  • Amazing to see something like this in a professional journal. I myself, because I was locked up so long ago, just missed being drugged, which would have meant I would not be alive now. But I have been tremendously impressed by the people I have met who have been able to get off psych drugs. It takes real strength of character to do that.

    And much of the time, people like that get little or no help in doing it. I think our movement should be demanding that that help be provided. We owe that to our brothers and sisters who have to go through the agonizing process of drug withdrawal.

  • This is a relatively small area of the damage done by psych drugs, though in absolute numbers, it is very large.

    But the damage done is horrific, plus, from the point of view of strategy, I think this is an area we anti-psychiatry activists should focus on. The number of mothers who have to deal with this is large, and it isn’t something they can ignore. If the public were educated about this, it’s the sort of thing that people would become very outraged about.

    And it’s the sort of thing that demonstrates what psychiatry and its owners the drug companies are all about. Sell lots of drugs, make lots of money, destroy the lives of millions of people. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

    Doctor Urato’s argument is very clear and simple, and you don’t need medical training to understand it. I think those of us who are fighting to take away the power of psychiatry should be familiar with it and get the public to be familiar with it too.

  • There are many attempts going on to find real alternatives to psychiatric “treatment,” and a lot of them are being discussed on Mad In America. I think it is a mistake to assume that somehow the profession of psychiatry is needed and must be preserved.

    Those of us who have been on the receiving end of psychiatry know how destructive it is. To say that we must keep psychiatry until there is a completely different system in place is not a good argument. For one thing, psychiatry does all it can to see to it that real alternatives don’t get funded. Creating a better system while getting rid of the old one go hand in hand.

    Of course psychiatry isn’t going to be instantly done away with. Powerful and destructive institutions don’t just give up. But if one’s position is that such institutions should just be “reformed,” nothing will change.

  • I was very pleased by Bob’s comments, and I think he very much got to the heart of the matter. And that is that the APA is a corrupt organization that does a great deal of harm in our society.

    I think Allen Frances is probably the slickest and most effective apologist for his profession. He makes no pretension to be other than that. He has a kind of politician personality which serves this role very well.

    In other writings, he has openly said that psychiatry is shooting itself in the foot with enterprises like DSM 5. Of course, he says nothing about his own role in creating DSM-IV, the content of which is different only in (small) degree from the new version.

    I for one am not interested in saving psychiatry, to say the least. I am happy to see it start to self-destruct, and I want to do anything I can to speed up that process. I am not interested in having someone like Frances put his arm on my shoulder. His stance of trying to sound “reasonable” doesn’t impress me. Of course, someone trying to defend his profession would act like that, trying to disarm the rightful anger of psychiatry’s critics.

    Once again, thanks to Bob Whitaker for his work here and elsewhere, and I can hardly wait to read his new book.

  • I am hoping that the huge reaction to what happened in Ferguson is going to lead to a revival of the civil rights movement of the Sixties. Clearly our country needs this.

  • Not being a “mental health” professional, but a psychiatric survivor activist, these courses are not for me. I do think it is a good thing for MH pros with an open mind to be able to find out what the facts are about psychiatric interventions.

    And I think it’s fine for MIA to offer this. It will certainly help, some, if there are more professionals in the field who are less abusive.

    But I don’t see real change coming from within. Why should it? While undoubtedly there are a few decent people working in the field, those who have real power in the “mental health” system are not going to give it up because we “educate” them. Does anyone here really believe that these people don’t know what effect their behavior has on the troubled people that society has turned over to them? These are not the kind of folks who are about to see the error of their ways. They demonstrate their lack of concern for other human beings every day, and this lack of concern brings them great rewards.

    I wish MIA had more focus on the need to face psychiatry’s gross violation of human rights. Everyone in America is threatened by psychiatric power, and this threat needs to be brought to their attention.

    Again, I support this initiative to strengthen the knowledge of the few decent people in the field, but we need a movement that reaches out to everyone, not the tiny percentage of MH professionals that already realize that something is wrong in the field in which they work.

    We need a vigorous human rights movement. The psychiatric system won’t change until there is one.

  • Katie, people like you, who have risked and lost their jobs for doing what is right, deserve a lot of credit. It is easy for people to talk from a distance, but incredibly hard to speak out within the culture of complete disregard for human rights and dignity that is psychiatry.

    It was amazing to me to see the literally tens of thousands of people working to free Justina. It was hard for me to believe, though it surely should not have been, to see the establishment liberals who run the State of Massachusetts ignore this outpouring of support for a year.

    Your courage and commitment are greatly appreciated.

  • Great article, Sera. My own introduction to progressive politics was through the civil rights movement of the Sixties. It was that movement that led to all the other human rights movements in America in the last half century, including ours.

    I just read that there have been demonstrations about Ferguson in 170 cities now. I hope this becomes a revival of the civil rights movement, which is badly needed. And I hope this means that our movement for justice in the “mental health” system will be strengthened by this too, and we will take our own movement seriously. I certainly am not in this to get a job helping run the system that nearly destroyed me, and no one else should be here for that either.

  • I think it’s great to have a positive focus, in that critics of psychiatry should be offering an alternative. But I think it’s important to keep in mind that the psychiatric system isn’t going to just give up and publicly confess the error of their ways. For one thing, the transnational drug corporations that own the psychiatric profession have huge profits at stake here. They will NOT give up easily.

    Another thing that disturbs me a bit here is that mental health professionals, even the most enlightened, tend to think that the problem is just that psychiatry has the wrong approach. They don’t talk about the millions of people whose lives have been destroyed, and continue to be destroyed, by the “mental health” system.

    The incredible power our society has given to psychiatry has led to huge violations of human rights. And we who have been the victims of these human rights violations need to be acting like all other oppressed groups. For a number of years, we did. And we made some inroads into public consciousness.

    Without an awareness by the public of the destructive nature of psychiatry, the political will to change things won’t develop. There are tens of millions of people who have spent time as inmates of psychiatric wards. I think they are the people our movement should be addressing.

    Yes, again, I agree that people working in the “mental health” field should be proposing alternatives. But I don’t see those alternatives happening until there is a large grassroots movement working to change public consciousness.

  • By doing what we can to take away the power of psychiatry to hurt people. The psychiatric profession certainly isn’t going to cooperate with that. So I just can’t understand this delusion that if we just have enough “dialogue” among the “reasonable” people, all the abuses of psychiatry will be ended.

    There are already many attempts to provide real help for people, many of which are written about on MIA. The response of psychiatry and the drug companies that own it is to do everything they can to prevent these programs from taking hold.

    The argument that by fighting psychiatry we are preventing people from getting help is complete nonsense. This is the program of Allen Frances, who has said elsewhere that his reason for criticizing such excesses as DSM 5 is to save psychiatry from itself. I am not interesting in saving psychiatry. But I want to save as many of my brothers and sisters as possible from the atrocities that psychiatry now perpetrates.

    Then it will be possible for programs that really help to succeed.

  • Thank you, Bonnie, for yet another good analysis of why people who believe in freedom should not imagine that tinkering with the edges of psychiatry will bring about any real change. That idea, in fact, is exactly what Allen Frances, whom I consider the most clever of psychiatry’s apologists right now, is advocating.

    I would emphasize also that the strong attacks that Frances and other psychiatric leaders make on the idea of “anti-psychiatry” should tell us something. What they tell me is that psychiatry is terrified of the idea that the concept of “anti-psychiatry” may take hold among the public as a legitimate point of view. And what that also tells me is that those who hold an anti-psychiatry position should announce it loud and clear.

    In the next weeks there will be more public discussion of an anti-psychiatry conference, or several of them, and I urge the readers of this fine and useful article to stay tuned and be ready to participate.

  • Of course, talk to anyone who will listen. But I just can’t understand how anyone who has been abused by psychiatry can think that changing the minds of psychiatrists (which is rarely possible) is more important than changing the mind of the general public.

    I think that a lot of the people who have this position have had terrible experiences at the hands of psychiatrists, yet you somehow believe that if only you keep talking to them they will see the error of their ways.

    It wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t an error. Surely they have to know what they are doing. When people die from the drugs that are forced on them, when people in great emotional need are treated with utter disrespect, surely the people who do this should be held accountable. And when we refuse to confront them, when we make excuses for them, when we continue to let them define who we are, we are accepting that what they did to us was justified and right.

    What psychiatry does to people is just as bad as lynch mobs and rapists and anti-gay thugs. The problem is that we seem to be afraid to say so. There’s a quote from the Talmud that I have used sometimes: “Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act.” I think it is very true.

  • Aside from all the details about what drugs he was taking, the simplest bottom line regarding his suicide is that he had a great deal of psychiatric “help,” whatever it might have been, and that was uncontested. How this terrible tragedy gets twisted into an argument for more psychiatric “help” is unbelievable.

    We have to find a way to get this message to the public. The almost complete blackout of our point of view in the media is very scary. Meanwhile, there is a powerful attempt by our politicians to completely strip people like me of our constitutional rights and lock us up and drug us at will.

    This crisis has happened because, instead of fighting for our rights as all other movements of oppressed people have done, too many of us have accepted jobs and money from the system. The desperate situation we are in now is the result.

    Do the people who benefit from these jobs and this money really think it will continue once the Murphy bill and other moves of this sort have us officially declared as non-human?

  • Oh, I am not talking about people who are right now under the control of the system. Of course, they are not able to speak out and express how they feel. I’m talking about people who are free now, more or less, but who in spite of knowing how badly they have been treated, somehow think if they are “nice,” or whatever word they would use, might be able to change things.

    Look, every other movement for liberation in the last half century, starting with the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, has only made progress when it spoke out forcefully against its oppressors. I am feeling more and more frustrated when people act as if they have never heard of such things. I’m not saying anything very original. The bottom line is that if you don’t fight for your rights, you will lose them.

    I don’t think that is particularly “radical” or “revolutionary”, or even “ideological.” It’s just common sense, and we have the last half century of the experience of other movements to confirm this.

  • Yes, this is a very thoughtful article. But it also shows one of the main reasons the system is giving us these crumbs. I don’t think of myself as particularly ideological, but I do like to think of myself as having a pretty clear idea of what needs to be done to take away the power of the people who have hurt us. It just doesn’t make sense to me to think that if you help to run this system (even though in truth you have virtually no power at all within this system) you can somehow change it for the better.

    Although the author doesn’t use the word, this is another example of thinking that “dialogue” is somehow going to change things. Does anyone think that if only the Jews had had more dialogue with the Nazis, the Holocaust would never have happened?

    I think one of the main reasons our movement has not gone very far is that we don’t seem to have any sense of moral outrage. If we don’t really think what is done to us is an outrage, if we ourselves don’t clearly see it as morally wrong, why should anyone take us seriously? And so most people don’t.

  • No, it doesn’t have to be that way, and it shouldn’t.

    But it is. And anyone who takes money from the current “mental health” system is going to have to do what the people want who are giving out the money.

    Real alternatives to psychiatry won’t happen until the public realizes how bad things are now.

  • But “suicide prevention” usually means psych drugs, and indoctrination that one is sick and inferior. Twice in the past month, MIA has reported on the Danish study that people were much more likely to actually kill themselves the more exposure they had to psychiatric interventions. If they had been admitted to a psych ward in the past year, they were FORTY-FOUR TIMES more likely to kill themselves. Not forty-four percent, forty-four times!

    I also wonder why the writer here labels himself “depressed,” but then says he is unhappy because of a breakup of a relationship. Why give oneself a diagnosis? I don’t understand.

  • I have seen that argument before: “Look how we have not made any progress in thirty years. This shows how you anti-psychiatry people have nothing to offer.” The problem with this is that our movement for the last thirty years has been dominated by the people who are NOT anti-psychiatry. Before that, we were making great progress, until people started to take system money. Of course, the system is not going to pay you to overthrow it. They are paying you to keep your mouth shut and not use language like…”anti-psychiatry.”

  • Reading this makes me wish I could have afforded to attend the Film Festival. I am especially interested in Laura’s offer to come to other places with a version of the festival.

    I expect to be moving to Portland soon and become active in the growing movement there, and I think a similar event would be great, both for the growth of the movement and the education of the public. I can’t speak for the people who are active there now, but I am going to talk up this idea. and I think people will be receptive.

  • I guess I am finding this all very frustrating. One important factor in this is that we have no example in front of us now of a militant movement for human rights, the way the civil rights movement was in the 1960’s.

    The concept that if we call ourselves anti-psychiatry, this will alienate us from the psychiatrists implies that the way t0 make change is to convince the psychiatrists they are wrong. No way will that happen. Social change happens when we convince the general public that our cause is just. Well-considered demonstrations are one way to do this.

    I just can’t believe, though I know it’s true, that anyone would think that our audience should be the very people who have abused us and our brothers and sisters. That has been happening for the last thirty years, and look where that has left us.

  • Perhaps not responding directly to this article, but…what on earth does “mental health advocates” mean? Isn’t E. Fuller Torrey a “mental health advocate?” Isn’t Murphy a “mental health advocate?” After all, they advocate for “more mental health.”

    Since I, and probably most of the readers here, would rather see less forced or unwanted psychiatric interventions, obviously, we are NOT “mental health advocates.”

    Or in other words, anyone who is against coercion is not a “mental health advocate,” but an “extremist.”

    I think Frances, being a psychiatrist after all, is performing the usual word magic, defining anyone who does not agree with him as beyond the pale. I think we should be alert to this and point it out vigorously. If we don’t, we may find ourselves with a new label in the next edition of the DSM. Anti-psychiatry folks will be defines as something akin to Muslim terrorists. I mean, folks like Frances are getting pretty close to that already.

  • The phrase “anti-psychiatry” has not been discredited. Far from it. But the psychiatric profession and its leaders are trying their best to do so. We shouldn’t fall into the trap they are trying to set.

    It makes absolutely no sense to allow the system we are fighting to tell us how to describe our position. As I have said a number of times recently, when the average person hears “anti-psychiatry,” their response isn’t “how weird.” It is usually “what’s that?” And when asked that question, we get to explain our position.

    When I say I am anti-psychiatry, I mean that I oppose the system and the profession that has ruined millions of lives, and continues to do so. It is very simple and straightforward.

    I am not intimidated by people like E. Fuller Torrey. I’m anti-psychiatry and I’m proud of it.

  • It is not my experience that regular people have a negative response to the idea of “anti-psychiatry.” Mostly, what they say is “what is that?” What is happening here is that psychiatrists are doing their usual number of labeling whatever behavior they don’t like.

    We should not let ourselves fall unto this trap. Being anti-psychiatry just means we oppose the abuses of psychiatry. There is nothing strange or far out about it.

    We can’t let the people we are fighting define our position. Frankly, what I see here is that psychiatrists are very worried that the anti-psychiatry position will become popular and seen as an important and legitimate point of view. They are trying to delegitimize it using the same old methods they always use.

    It would be a big mistake to run away from this because the psychiatrists say it’s beyond the pale. The more they freak out about it, the more it’s clear to me that they see this very phrase as threatening their authority in the public mind. And it is just that authority that must be taken away.

  • I thought this article was very powerful, and Ally in her video shows herself to be a very effective spokesperson for this cause. It also makes me realize, if I didn’t before, just how important this issue is to a long-term strategy of getting the public to see just how destructive the psychiatric profession and its drugs are.

    So both to help and vindicate the victims of these drugs, and to eventually end all the abuses of psychiatry, this is an issue all of us should take to heart and bring to public attention as best we can.

  • Yeah, I really like this discussion of our new cultural norm: don’t feel anything. I’m not sure whether psych drugs just fit into this, or whether they have caused it.

    Without human emotion, there is nothing but consumption. Things become more important than people. Buy, buy, buy, and don’t question what those in power are doing. It’s a recipe for totalitarianism, and we seem to be heading there very rapidly.

    Halloween is coming, and the zombies are already here.

  • One of the most disgusting aspects of this policy is the fact, recently reported on MIA, that people are more like to actually kill themselves when exposed to the psychiatric “help” these practices force on them. The more exposure to psychiatry, the greater the incidence of suicide, including the appalling figure that people who spend any time in a psychiatric facility during the previous year are FORTY-FOUR TIMES more likely to kill themselves.

    Yet people still have faith in the psychiatric religion. It is a religion because people’s beliefs in it are not based on reality.

  • Andrew. I consider myself strongly anti-psychiatry, and I certainly have no quarrel with people who do counseling, therapy, even practice psychiatry, if they do it in an honest and ethical way. Many people need this kind of help (I certainly did) and some of them even benefit from it (I did also, sometimes).

    My hero, or role model for how psychiatry should be practiced, was Loren Mosher, who was driven out of the NIMH because he advocated for providing emotional support, not drugs. He was a fine human being. If only most psychiatrists were like him, his profession would be truly helpful, not as generally destructive as it presently is.

    I say all this not to disagree with you, but just to explain my own position better.

  • A very important and well thought out article, I think. My own definition is even simpler.

    I oppose the institution of psychiatry be4cause I recognize that as a whole, it does a great deal of harm to people over which it has power, and its tenets, such as labeling ordinary human emotion as diseases, has corrupted our culture.

    Of course, I could add many details, but the bottom line is that psychiatry does a great deal of harm and very little good.

    I think the fact that psychiatry’s leaders seem to almost foam at the mouth at the very mention of the phrase means that we should use it as much as possible. The more people who describe themselves as anti-psychiatry, the more this position will come to be seen by the general public as a valid and credible point of view. That’s very important.

  • Well, although I would not deny the possibility of people faking it to get a pension, it certainly isn’t surprising that no one gets better. Psychiatric interventions in this kind of distress usually make people worse anyway.

    If it is true that half of these veterans are faking it, then what about the other half? I think this statistic tends to prove what I just said. Almost no one is helped by the “treatment.”

  • I don’t understand why some people in our movement act as if Dr. Frances is to be taken seriously as some kind of ally. Yes, it’s fine he criticized the DSM 5, but he openly said he was doing that because he was trying to prevent his profession from shooting themselves in the foot.

    I think the way DSM 5 discredited psychiatry is just fine.

    A “civil war” takes place when people who should be on the same side fight each other. Our human rights movement and Dr Frances are not on the same side. This is nonsense.

    Further, I think it is a big mistake for us to be afraid of the label “anti-psychiatry” the way it is being used by Dr. Frances and E. Fuller Torrey. I am anti-psychiatry because I oppose psychiatry’s damaging practices. Nothing weird there. We are actually letting psychiatrists define anyone who opposes what they do as (almost) having some kind of mental illness. In no other area of politics could one side get away with this. As usual, psychiatry has no good arguments to justify what they do. Instead, they try to define anyone who opposes them as beyond the pale.

    To some extent, I think they may be succeeding in getting this non-argument accepted in a lot of places. But does our movement have to accept this as well? This is senseless.

  • Thank you for this interesting and provocative piece. I have been thinking for a long time about how to take away psychiatry’s power, and mostly what I come up with is to find ways of making the general public see how (worse than) useless psychiatric interventions are. I do think that people believe, or at least have convinced themselves (not the same thing) that psychiatry does some good, and I can’t see how we can take away the power of coercion unless people stop believing that power is used for good. But I am afraid that you are right, or at least that what we are looking at is a circular belief: psychiatric power is good because it helps people, and psychiatry is helpful and therefore we should let it continue to have its power.

  • Well, I will add my voice to all the other praise. Dr. Hickey, your article are so well-argued and relevant, and I always look forward to reading them.

    Do you think the indiscriminate prescribing of benzos and drug company payments to doctors are connected? I know this was a kind of stupid question. I think I should have said, did the new federal database about payments to doctors reveal anything?

  • Thank you for this moving article, Seth. The real reason for this horror, as you have pointed out, is the depraved indifference to human life of the people who run these institutions.

    I think bringing atrocities like this to the attention of the general public may help our movement more than any amount of theorizing.

    I don’t consider myself anti-psychiatry because of any abstract idea about how things should be done. Psychiatry is an evil institution because at bottom the attack on Gloria is basically what they stand for.

  • I think I might have been unclear about what I meant by our movement being taken over by the mental health system. What I meant was the intervention by the NIMH, and later SAMHSA, to fund conferences and organizations in return for not rocking the boat. Please have a look at my recent MIA article “Our movement needs an alternative to the “Alternatives Conference.”

    I have no problem working with mental health professionals who sincerely support our cause. I know that you are one of them, and that you have made sacrifices by speaking out against psychiatric abuse.

    No, the general public doesn’t have shock treatment high on its list of issues. It didn’t have the civil rights of black people and other abused groups high on its list either. The people whose rights are being ignored have the job of making our rights important to others. When they do, they win many victories.

  • Thank you once again to Dr. Hickey for yet another cogent article about yet another of the unending abuses perpetrated by psychiatry.

    As a client of the “child welfare” system, I was given shock treatment at the age of six and then given up for dead and sent to a state hospital for the rest of my childhood. Thirty years later I organized the ballot measure that led voters in Berkeley, California to ban shock there.

    My educated opinion is that the general public overwhelmingly sees electroshock as damaging and barbaric. But our movement, because of its virtual takeover by the “mental health” system, has not acted on this. I think a concerted campaign against shock, focusing on parts of the country most likely to respond, could lead to its abolishment.

  • I read some of this book, and I agree that it is very important. But I have to say that I was disappointed that there was very little discussion of ACTION. Theory is fine, but we have to go beyond talk.

  • Yet another important issue we should be talking about to the public. benzos are given out like candy to people who have never seen the inside of a psych ward. Most people are not aware of how much at risk they are from this dangerous class of drugs. This is yet another issue where we might get the general public to see how they too are at risk.

    And it is the general publi c we have to convince.

  • MIA just reported on research about the very thing you just asked. The results of the study were that the more someone was exposed to psychiatric “treatment,” the more likely they were to try to kill themselves. The largest effect was when the person had spent time on a psychiatric ward in the past year. Those people were FORTY-FOUR TIMES more likely to kill themselves! And yet the profession keeps right along pushing for more “treatment” for despondent people.

  • I rather agree with Frank about NARPA. I also think very well of them, and I would have gone to the latest conference if I could have afforded it. But as Frank says, it is more oriented to the legal end of things, not activism. (Not that I have anything against lawyers, as I am one.) In fact, NARPA’s only activity is to hold its annual conference.

    And I do think we need conferences for people who consider themselves anti-psychiatry. Given the frenzied negative response to the phrase “anti-psychiatry” coming from people like E. Fuller Torrey and Jeffrey Lieberman (the APA past president), it has become clear to me that those who lead the psychiatric profession are terrified that the phrase and what it stands for will become more recognized and accepted among the general public. I wonder if being anti-psychiatry will become a diagnosis of “mental illness” in the next version of the DSM. All the more reason for us to identify ourselves as anti-psychiatry.

  • Yeah, I totally agree. Fines and payouts from lawsuits don’t do anything to discourage these people. The fines are just a small part of a drug company’s profits. The lawsuit recoveries are paid for by the doctor’s insurance company. As the saying goes, they’re “too rich to jail.” Apparently, criminal prosecutions are just for the little people…like us.

  • “Dr. Citrome predicts, with apparent misgivings, that the media’s activities in this area will increase when the Physician Payments Sunshine Act’s provisions take effect on September 30.”

    Ah, what is this? Sounds VERY promising. It will be hard for the media to ignore when the huge proportion of psychiatrists on the take from the drug companies is thoroughly exposed. One hopes this will make a HUGE difference in psychiatry’s credibility. How promising! We should be watching the fallout from this law closely.

  • Once again Phil Hickey nails these idiots to the wall. What great ammunition he gives us for discrediting psychiatry.

    I find it amazing that the writer claiming bias against the poor misunderstood drug companies actually seems to think that if he just puts a nasty-sounding label on the critics it will take away their credibility. What does he think he’s doing, writing a new version of the DSM?

    But I also am confused by the pessimism expressed in several recent articles by psychiatry’s apologists. They seem to think that psychiatry is facing a crisis. They must know something I don’t know, as I see psychiatry still with a great amount of power, still able to continue damaging troubled people at will, and facing no consequences.

    I guess they realize that their profession is a total fraud, and that they are beginning to be found out.

  • Wow, I think it is great that we are now seeing tactics and strategy being discussed more on MIA. As I’ve said before, thanks to people like Bob Whitaker et al, we have lots of facts and arguments to fight the typical psychiatry/drug company BS. Now it’s time to get all this out to the public.

    Articles like this are making me feel hopeful that we are turning a corner. The time is now to fight back.

    Thank you for this article.

  • Well, Frank, yeah, a “coalition” sounds good. But to have a coalition, there has to be groups already existing. So I think there has to be organizing local groups around the country.

    And along these lines, it just occurs to me that these regional conferences I am talking about could be the start of local or regional groups. Like, a conference could be held in, say, Chicago, and then it could be followed up with the founding of the Chicago Anti-Psychiatry Coalition. That would be another advantage of having such conferences be fairly local.

    But again, I think there are many possibilities, and no matter how much we discuss them, the ones that really happen will be the ones where dedicated people put their energy. As long as we keep in mind we are just talking about tactics and strategy, that’s fine. If we start confusing tactics with principles, then we will start fighting. I’m glad to see that isn’t happening here.

  • I want to comment on a few things oldhead said, and I find this discussion easier to follow when it is in order of when things are posted. I am having a lot of trouble finding new posts as they are scattered all over the page.

    Anyway, first, thanks, oldhead for your really good contribution here, and I’m glad you are doing it. I do want to disagree with one point you made, that there should be a national organization before there is a conference, else there will be a lot of power-tripping and fighting.

    Actually, the movement we have now almost specializes in fighting with one another, and I think we have to address this very carefully. It really drains our energy.

    I am more worried about things like that if there is a national organization before there is a real active movement again. This has happened before. Over the years there have been several national organizations formed with hardly any local groups in place. They disintegrated very fast, because there was really nothing behind them. These “paper” or one might say now, “electronic” groups only survive when they get big funding from somewhere, and SAMHSA of course would love to step right in and do that.

    Just the same, I think it’s fine to be doing both at the same time, organize conferences (notice the plural) and talk about a national organization. There really isn’t any power to fight over in a conference, since when it is over, it’s over. And I think we can have a number of (what I hope will be) small conferences. We should have gatherings around the country, so people can get to them without having to pay big bucks flying there, paying big fees for the conference, and hundreds of dollars for hotel rooms. I see no reason we can’t use college dorms, hostels, or even campgrounds to keep costs down. We can even self-cater to keep food costs down. We have done this before. It takes work, sure. But we have been indoctrinated to think these gatherings should cost like $1,000 or so. Then we think, oh, we have to have our psych agency or local “mental health” program pay for it…on and on.

    I thought of going to the recent NARPA conference. I think well of them, although they are not anti-psychiatry or run by survivors. But when I priced it out, it would have cost about $1,000.

    One last thing, which I think people reading this may not like. I think our first few conferences should be by invitation only. I can hear people already, saying that would be “undemocratic.” But I don’t think so at all. The people who do the work and the organizing have the right to decide who they want to work with. Once there are groups in existence, or a conference underway, of course everyone involved should have an equal voice in decisions (though my concept of a conference is that it is not there for decision-making, but more for inspiration and an exchange of ideas.)

    I always have believed that those who do the work should make the decisions. If you feel having a conference (or even an organization) by invitation is wrong, what would be democratic then? Asking NAMI who they want to come? Asking SAMHSA? Handing out leaflets to random people on the street? We have to start with people who are really in agreement, so we can plan what we want to do, not just argue about it. And we just CAN’T be fighting with one another, as we too often do.

    Myself, I am NOT planning to have a big leading role in this. I think it is important for new leaders to step forward. We can’t build a large powerful movement with just a little clique.

    The role I think I want for myself is to put a lot of energy into one of the small regional conferences, and to encourage as wide a participation in the leadership as possible. (Remember, the leaders are the ones who do the work.) I think that’s the right way to help bring about the kind of movement we need.

  • About a class action lawsuit, I think many non-lawyers believe that such actions are much more effective and possible than they really are. Without going into a lot of boring detail, all a class action suit does is aggregate a lot of plaintiffs into one lawsuit.

    All I am trying to say with my article is that our movement should just do what every other movement for social justice in the last fifty years has done — have demonstrations, speak out, refuse to accept the inferior position in society that has been laid out for us.

    As for what would replace the current practices of psychiatry, there are many people working on that. A few , very few, helpful programs are already in place, like Soteria Houses, peer respite programs, all sorts of places that at bottom replace drugs and despair with emotional support and human caring for people in emotional distress. I think Mad In America has published many articles by people working on these things.

    This article is just about one small piece of the larger struggle we have to engage in, and certainly isn’t meant to cover everything.

  • I think it’s great to talk about how to get the word out. There isn’t enough of that. And I agree, we should just let our imaginations run free, and some ideas may well work out fantastically well.

    Thank you for this article.

  • Yeah, the facts of this case are so common that if the plaintiff here wins, it will affect cases throughout the whole country. How arrogant these people are! And that of course is very common too. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Jim.

    Forced drugging as battery? How great it would be to establish that. Of course it always has been, but the courts have ignored it right along.

  • Very important article, Nancy. The “child welfare” system has become, if it wasn’t before, just a branch of the “mental health” system.

    People in our movement have to stop entertaining themselves schmoozing with their friends at the SAMHSA conference, and start planning real action, not just harmless talk.

  • Yes, I completely agree. This “direct to consumer” advertising is bad enough in itself, but it also makes the media dependent on the advertising revenue it brings in.

    No publication wants to bite the hand that feeds it, so our issues have been almost completely shut out of the media now.

  • I really like this article too. I think the author describes probably the worst thing (of course there are many) that psychiatry does to people: it destroys their self respect. And the first step to reclaiming their lives, I agree, is to refuse to accept the subhuman identity that psychiatry offers –no, demands– and start thinking of oneself as a valuable human being who can take charge of their own life.

    Even though, because I was not drugged, I came out of a childhood spent on psych wards more or less whole, or at least able to function, it took me a long time to develop self-respect.

    Here I will diverge from the article a bit, and say that our movement ought to be helping people reclaim, or learn, that they are good and valuable human beings. But my experience in the movement is one of experiencing constant attacks from people, often, I think, from jealousy. I am happy when others do good work and get recognized for it. But how are we going to change anything if being an activist is a constant emotional drain?

  • I think this is a great idea. Not only do I agree with Jim that if some individual psychiatrists get sued, it will do a lot to end this practice. But I also think that this whole issue is a good one for protests, civil disobedience, and other actions to bring this practice to the attention of the public.

    I have been saying for some time now that the psychiatric abuse of children makes more of an impression on the general public than the abuse of adults. It is hard for people like Torrey and Biederman to portray toddlers as “walking time bombs” just waiting to shoot someone.

    Go, Jim!!!!!

  • Reliability and validity are not the same thing, and I don’t understand the point of this article. As someone else pointed out, if you gave many raters the birth date of their patients, they would show one hundred per cent reliability in assigning the patients to the proper astrological sign. What would this tell you about the validity of astrology in explaining anything of importance? Of course, absolutely nothing.

    I noticed when DSM 5 came out, the APA talked of nothing but reliability For lay people without scientific training (of which I have a bit, at least enough to detect nonsense when I see it) this sounded very impressive, I’m sure. But as we readers of MIA all know, this doesn’t address the fact that the labels now being applied to people have almost no validity at all.

    I just don’t get the point of this article.

  • I agree with just about everything the author of this article says. I think almost all the readers of MIA would also agree.

    I know I have said this a lot lately, but I think we need to figure out a way to reach the public and create the political will to do away with all the damaging psychiatric interventions and replace them with helpful practices like Soteria Houses, Open Dialogue, etc.

    We know now what needs to be done, now we have to figure out how to get it done. More activism is badly needed.

  • I think this is a pretty good and thoughtful article, particularly as it comes from someone who helps run a state “mental health” system. But I am going to say something that will be considered politically incorrect.

    I have seen in my personal life that often I can be more helpful and supportive to my friends who are psychiatric survivors, as I am. But I have also seen, quite often, that many of the survivors in our movement are very unwelcoming and even vicious to other survivors.

    And in agencies too, I have seen that so-called peers, as the author observes, have not only acted as agents of the system as it is now, but have lorded it over their brothers and sisters, treating them even worse than standard issue “mental health” workers.

    Yes, I agree that everything else being equal, survivors may be more helpful than people who are right now very bogged down by their problems. But everything else ISN’T equal, and it hasn’t been my experience that consumer/survivors are any more helpful than any other group. There are many survivors who are among the most nasty people I know.

    And I have known actual psychiatrists, a very few, who are among the most decent, helpful, empathetic people I have ever known.

    But as someone who spent my entire childhood being tortured in psychiatric institutions, I say that we should not romanticize the idea that somehow “peers” are at bottom always all that helpful. We are like everyone else, some very nurturing and helpful, others just plain nasty. In other words, we are like all other human beings.

  • A great article, David, packed with wonderful commentary, most of which I completely agreed with. I am glad to see your influence again in our movement.

    I was honored to be invited to speak to a special meeting of Rethinking Psychiatry last week. I can see this is rather a broad based group, who are welcoming to all sorts of people who are at least skeptical about psychiatry, including me. There are also several other groups in Portland, making up a still small but active movement there.

    I have almost made up my mind to move to Portland, to work with RP and other groups. I think I can make a contribution there.

    David, we should talk again the next time I will be in Oregon, which will be soon.

  • Obviously, whether this is good or bad depends on what the interventions may be. But at least there is a recognition that bad experiences can cause emotional distress. This sounds so simple-minded, I know, but as readers of MIA are all too aware, psychiatry in general blames all mental problems on genes and serotonin and anything but life. So by itself it is a small step forward…I hope.

  • I have no problem with this article. Nothing to argue about. There are many such articles on MIA now, but I am really not understanding where MIA is going. There are many outlets for articles like this. There is almost no outlet for talking about how to actually change what is being done to people trapped in the “mental health” system.

    People are being abused and damaged by psychiatry in huge numbers. How does publishing articles about the fine points of therapy help to end those atrocities?

  • I think this is a fine article, but like so many other such good articles on MIA, it is preaching to the choir. Notice that NO ONE disagreed with it. But out in the real world, there are many people who drug their children, and will defend that abuse vigorously.

    I find that I am saying this over and over again, but it needs to be said. We really need more discussion on MIA about tactics and strategy. How can we get some of the great stuff in MIA articles to the general public? How can we effectively get the abuses committed by psychiatry to end?

    Or to put it in a few words, less talk, more action.

  • Sigh…Once again Phil Hickey publishes yet another great article with a crystal clear argument about psych drugs. I love what he writes. He and others like Bob Whitaker and Peter Breggin have given us great ammunition for the fight.

    But how do we carry on this fight? I would like to see more articles in Mad In America about strategy and tactics, about what we can actually DO about the abuses of psychiatry like pressuring or forcing people to take these dangerous chemicals. We need to go beyond talking to one another and go out into the world and take our message to the general public.

    If you agree, you can contact me at [email protected].

  • It is almost irrelevant whether he was taking antidepressants. The facts will be hidden anyway.

    What is really important was that he received the best help psychiatry can offer, and he killed himself. His death is being used to promote psychiatric “treatment,” so the question to be asked is why wasn’t he helped?

    I certainly agree with Sera about the kind of help that really should be offered, people giving support from their hearts to other human beings. But Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the “mental health” establishment fights this approach fiercely. People who try to do real alternatives are not encouraged by the system. It needs a political fight, and as Frederick Douglass wisely said, “Power concedes nothing without a struggle.”

  • We don’t have to know what drugs he was taking. We don’t have to think it was the drugs that caused his suicide. We don’t have to be anti-psychiatry.

    It is undisputed that he received tons of psychiatric “treatment,” probably what the shrinks would call state of the art, as he was a prosperous man and could afford it.

    So it defies common sense for his death to be used as an example of “treatment works.”

    The facts are there, and I hope we can focus on this. Robin Williams’ death was a demonstration that psychiatric treatment DOESN’T work. And we should be focusing on that.

  • Anger can be a positive motivator as well. The world is full of psychopaths, especially in the psychiatric profession. They often have great power. The justified anger at their acts is hard to use constructively, because fighting them is so difficult.

    But without that justified anger, by default they continue with their criminal acts.

    It is fine for someone with a privileged life to advocate for turning the other cheek. But for the victims of these people, the choice is to fight back or continue to be abused. I choose to fight back.

  • “Not an Onion Study”……yes, most people not familiar with this kind of garbage would think it was some kind of (bad) joke. But there is a silver lining, as this was probably one of the most stupid moves in the percent past made by the psychiatric profession. I have found that when I explain this to people who are not in our movement, they agree that it is outrageous, and of course, that in most cases it could apply to them. In the long run, this self-serving lie the profession has promulgated helps us to take away their power.

  • Hey oldhead, I have to laugh, a bit, because of course I am part of a group that wants to have such a meeting, and ultimately a national organization. Or maybe we don’t need a national organization. The history of such groups is that they have often become just vehicles for power struggles. Myself, I think it is much more important to focus on local groups that are real and actually do something. This is the kind of question that I agree would be good to discuss at length.

    But don’t worry, any conference or new group will take time to organize, and there will be plenty of time for people to talk about what they want to see happen.

    I don’t know what MIA’s stance will be about the kind of ongoing discussion you describe. I think people like us should just submit articles with discussions of strategy. I plan to submit one soon.

    And there have been several excellent recent articles, by Bonnie Burstow and Richard Lewis, talking about strategy. Neither Bonnie nor Richard are psych survivors, but I think they have a real commitment to the cause of fighting psychiatric abuse, and I would be happy myself to work with them. We survivors should certainly try to get our ideas about strategy and tactics into MIA.

    There also is a section of MIA intended for ongoing discussions, but it doesn’t seem to get much attention. I don’t know how to make it get that attention, but maybe the MIA staff have some ideas.

    Anyway, it is great to see that more and more people are not only unhappy with the merger of what was once our movement into the mental illness system, but want to actually figure out what can be done about it. We need this very badly.

  • I think madmom and Frank B. made excellent comments. But another important point, to me, is the idea that if somehow we just told our stories it would change the system. Hey, the people who run the system that has hurt us and ruined our lives know perfectly well what we have experienced.

    And we would be telling our stories to whom? How would we be reaching the general public? How would this change anything? This is very naive at best. As I have become tired of saying, our movement for human rights is not that different from other movements of oppressed people. They didn’t just tell their stories or go to useless conferences run by their oppressors. They were (and are) out on the streets, demanding their rights. Gays and women and black people and disabled people and all the others didn’t, and don’t, just sit around and tell their stories.

    Really, people, our movement needs to do some strategic thinking. Myself, the last thing I want is a pat on the head from some shrink, even if he has a charming Italian accent.

    And I call on MIA too to publish some articles about real strategy for our movement, not this silly nonsense. There is too much of this stuff. We need some hard thinking about what to do next.

  • I don’t think being anti-psychiatry means “abolishing” psychiatry. This is a straw man. And I don’t disagree that making small changes that help some people now is a bad thing. But in order to accomplish these changes, one has to in some way limit the power of psychiatry. Shock doctors and those wh prescribe fifteen drugs at once are not going to change their ways because they are asked to.

    And in the long run, these changes and this chipping away at psychiatric power will mean that psychiatry can no longer force its damaging interventions on people. At that point the profession will either start offering something useful or it will abolish itself.

    I am anti-psychiatry but I don’t talk about “abolishing” psychiatry. That would be silly. Even with a magic wand it would not be possible. Like any other oppressive institution, change will only come after a long campaign.

  • Not to go out of my area of expertise, but statins also have been shown to do a lot of damage, like cognitive disabilty and premature senility, while actually doing little or nothing to prevent hart attacks and strokes. While naturally occurring low cholesterol is associated with such benefits, artificially produced low cholesterol does not seem to have much beneficial effect. So states a very recent meta review of many studies. While MIA readers see a lot of criticism of psych drugs, we should keep in mind that the drug companies push a lot of other profitable poisons as well. Of course, everyone here should have a look at “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime,” by the very courageous Danish physician Peter Gotzsche.

  • Francesca, as I have said before in other forums, it has not been my experience that the average person, upon hearing the phrase “anti-psychiatry,” is turned off. Usually their response is to ask what it means, and this gives me an opening for discussion. As for the response of psychiatrists, of course they don’t like it. But who cares?

    Thinking that psychiatrists are the main people who can be relied on to change the oppressive nature of psychiatry is exactly the same as thinking fighting the evils of slavery should be done by appealing to slaveowners.

  • I actually don’t think the typical reader of MIA is “anti-psychiatry.” I do consider myself anti-psychiatry, but everyone has his or her own definition.

    I certainly think there are a few decent psychiatrists who sincerely want to help. But they are a tiny minority. What seems obvious to me, though, is that the profession as a whole is one of the most destructive institutions in our society. The typical person with whatever problem goes into a psych ward and comes out much the worse. Particularly disturbing to me are situations where the person has undergone some trauma like rape or the death of a loved one, and is told they need to be drugged for the rest of their lives. Those of us like me are given a label that Thomas Szasz appropriately pointed out is like being called a Jew in Nazi Germany.

    These criticisms could be multiplied a hundredfold, and they are not interesting intellectual points. They are the basis of the terrible suffering of millions of people, inflicted by a profession that as a whole seems to be constituted of psychopaths, people who seem to have no ability or interest to feel empathy or understand of the suffering of other people.

    I think it would be naive for me to say I want to “abolish” psychiatry. But I think the power of psychiatry, which more and more is out of control, has to be taken away. This will I am sure take a long time. But when it is accomplished, and psychiatrists can no longer force their damaging interventions on people, psychiatry will abolish itself. Or hopefully (but very unlikely) it will change into a system that actually helps people. I will not hold my breath for that, though.

  • I will be uncivil here, and say that any psychiatrist or anyone else who writes on MIA and defends the terrible system that I and many other MIA readers have been abused by, really doesn’t deserve any more respect than what they show for us.

    I don’t respect the profession that tortured me and took away my childhood. Who will be our next blogger, Doctor Biederman? Am I expected to be nice to him?

  • A very good and thoughtful article. I was a bit startled at first, as I too had read the New Republic piece, which is brilliant.. Isn’t what this is all about, the completely materialistic culture we have here in America, both the richest and one of the most unequal countries in the developed world? I always knew (doesn’t take great insight) that Harvard was for the children of the rich, but it never occurred to me that in a way they were being exploited too. Because if you are to be among the “elite,” you have to be programmed not to have a conscience, to ignore the human worth of the people over whom you will dominate. It is training, in a way, to become a psychopath.

    And when you become a rich psychopath, you are losing your own humanity as well.

    The Justina Pelletier case made it pretty clear that the people who run Harvard care nothing for other human beings, or the cost to others of the wealth and privilege they acquire. But it seems if you “study” at Harvard, you have to give up your own humanity as well.

    Thank you for this thoughtful article.

  • I think this was a great and useful article. I am very glad to see more and more discussion on MIA about what we can actually DO. I also very much agree that the psychiatric abuse of children is something that we should be concentrated on, as it is something that the average person who doesn’t otherwise pay attention to our issues would take seriously.

    Following in the footsteps of Richard and Bonnie Burstow, I am working on a article about my own ideas about tactics and strategy. I think the more discussions like this that we have, the better.

  • I think this article is very important for encouraging people in our antipsychiatry movement to stop and think about what they are doing. I think there s very little tactical or strategic thinking in our movement and we need a lot more.

    I do think there is an important issue we should talk about when deciding what actions to take that Bonnie doesn’t mention, and that is the effect of the action on public opinion about psychiatry. At bottom, psychiatry has been given ts power because the public believes in psychiatry’s competence and benevolence. Anything we do that reveals to the public just how incompetent and destructive psychiatry is a big step on the way to taking away that power.

  • I understand why people want to distance themselves from CCHR and thus Scientology. Unfortunately, the PR of the psychiatric profession and the drug companies, really one and the same, has made it impossible for anyone to evaluate CCHR’s activities in an objective way.

    I’m certainly no Scientologist, and I would keep plenty of distance between myself and them regardless. But at the risk of being tainted, I have to say that a lot of the materials CCHR puts out about psychiatry and its abuses are some of the best out there.

    This wasn’t always true, and the stuff that used to emanate from CCHR was pretty cult-like. Now I think some of the arguments and facts they publicize are very useful to our cause.

    Again, I am certainly no admirer of Scientology. But the psychiatric profession has far more blood on its hands than the Scientologists.

  • Awesome article. Though it describes what is going on in Canada, of course this is happening all over the world now. I certainly agree that the psychiatrists who are doing this belong in prison.

    Although our movement does not have the numbers right now to fight this directly, I have been saying, and I say it again, that we should be concentrating on the psychiatric abuse of children. The general public has been sold on the idea that “the mentally ill” are the crazed killers wandering the streets talking to themselves. So why not just lock them up on the (clearly unconstitutional) grounds that they are “in need of treatment?” In other words, let’s just give psychiatrists a free hand to incarcerate anyone they feel like.

    But when we start talking about children, I think the public sees things differently. For one thing, these may be their own children to be labeled and drugged. And most people perceive the abuse of children as a lot more serious than locking up the stereotypical demented killer wandering the streets.

    The recent case of Justina Pelletier is an example of this. Tens of thousands of people were involved in pressuring the State of Massachusetts to free her. A teenage girl being abused by psychiatry…what an opportunity to educate the public about what psychiatry really is about. Unfortunately, the “consumer leaders” there mostly ignored what was going on right under their noses. They weren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to point out what was really happening, and so the public saw (and the media presented) the issue as a clash between diagnoses, and not the power grab by psychiatry that was essentially the cause of Justina’s ordeal.

    Recently I have been in contact with many people now who consider themselves to be “survivors” and/or “anti-psychiatry” (I am both) and want to start effectively fighting back. We need an alternative to the various meetings and fake organizations funded by the mental illness system. Over the next few weeks I will be participating in discussions with other concerned survivors and anti-psychiatry people (who are not necessarily survivors) to get our movement back on track.

    And this excellent article, I think, suggests some directions we should take.

  • Again, Dr. Hickey, good job! Your articles are so clearly written and well argued, even entertaining.

    Your discussion of “E.T.-ology” should become a classic.

    And as you say, the real argument against the nonsense of psychiatric ideology is just that, that it is nonsense. I think this argument should be repeated over and over. This isn’t the place for subtle scientific arguments, because there is no science here, just drug company money.

    As you can see, I am a big fan of yours, and I am glad to see your frequent contributions to Mad In America.

  • Every movement for liberation in the last half-century, at least, has been fueled by anger. When people are abused, it makes sense for them to protest.

    Of course this doesn’t mean you tell anyone who hears you to f— off. But as someone pointed out earlier regarding the gay movement, as long as they tried to act “reasonable” and “respectable,” they got nowhere. Once they started demanding respect instead of begging for it, they made great progress.

    “We’re here and we’re queer!” got gay people a lot further than telling people how respectable they were. This is always true of any group. Why should people pay attention when your message boils down to one that says that things aren’t really that bad? If you aren’t bothered by your oppression, why should anyone else be?

  • This is pretty scary. That a generally progressive church supports people being oppressed by psychiatry frightens me. Yes, of course they didn’t say it openly, but that’s what this action meant.

    I have seen this among the Quakers as well. In spite of their long history of treating at least fellow Quakers with emotional issues in a humane and nurturing way, their thinking and ideas on this issue now come from NAMI and the drug companies.

    Again, I find it very frightening. Thirty or forty years ago, this was not the case, at least in “progressive” places like Portland and San Francisco.

    We are the last frontier for bigotry.

  • I agree with you that we need to take away the power of psychiatry to force its unwanted interventions on people. But I don’t see how that can be done from within. We (survivors and others) are in the same situation as all other oppressed groups. Slavery wasn’t ended by finding more kind slaveowners.

  • Thank you once again, Philip, for yet another crystal clear and well-argued post. I am gratified to see you identify yourself as “anti-psychiatry” as well. It is clear to me that the leaders of psychiatry are terrified that this position will be seen as more and more reasonable by the public. To me, this means we should use the phrase as much as we can. In my experience, the average person not in our movement is not turned off by the phrase. It just makes them curious as to why we have this position.

    Thank you again for your marvelous posts. Keep up the good work!

  • It seems to me that if we could do away with “biological psychiatry,” we would still be left with FORCED psychiatry. Isn’t that the real problem?

    As far as calling ourselves “anti-psychiatry,” I just haven’t seen at all that regular people perceive that phrase as something too “extreme” to relate to. My experience is that people want to know what I mean by the phrase. And this of course gives me an opening to talk about a lot of things.

    The only people I have encountered who are really bothered by the phrase, and who keep referring to it as “extreme,” are people like E. Fuller Torrey, our friend, and Jeffrey Lieberman, the past president of the APA. The fact that they keep mentioning it tells me that they are afraid that it may become popular.

    I wrote a whole article about this in the past year on MIA. Please check out “Of Course I’m Anti-Psychiatry, Aren’t You?” Hopefully, you will find some well-reasoned and convincing arguments there.

  • I think what has happened here is that there were not enough votes on the Board of Supervisors (six is a majority) to put the law into effect, but enough votes (four) to put it on the ballot. This could be good for our cause if our local movement comes out in force to oppose this. Back in 1982, as a lot of MIA readers know, we put a ban on shock treatment on the ballot, and won. There was national and even international publicity.

    Whichever way the vote comes out will be incredibly important for us. Asa far as I know, the only other time an issue restricting psychiatric power was ever on a ballot was our shock ban in 1982.

  • Sera, I always appreciate your thoughtful articles, and this one gives me an insight into what it’s like to run an agency that’s mental health system funded, but still wants to do what’s right.

    I’m a little amused by your speculation about E. Fuller Torrey’s motivations, though. Myself, I wouldn’t give him the benefit of any doubt. I don’t think you can be serious, lol.

  • Doctor Hickey, thank you once again for your cogent and clear debunking of psychiatric BS.

    One small detail in your quotes from Dr. Pies stands out in my mind though. He rails against “anti-psychiatry,” which tells me that the psychiatric establishment is starting to become quite worried about the increasing rejection among the public of psychiatric dogma. This is the fourth or fifth time in this past month that I have heard psychiatrists talk this way.

    More and more people, including me, are identifying as anti-psychiatry, and more and more psychiatrists are freaking out about it.

    We must be doing something right!

  • Doctor Elliot, thank you for your persistence and your ethical commitment around this issue, a commitment that is rare. As the previous commenter points out, what happened to Dan M. and this latest victim takes place because, more and more, human beings are seen as nothing but profit centers.

    Those who control psychiatry have no regard for the sacredness of human life at all. Our society will fall apart if we continue allowing corporate (and individual) greed to dominate us.

  • Awesome article. I also liked Lieberman for the same reasons you do. I saw a video clip of him and he asked why there was an anti-psychiatry movement, while there were no such movements against urology or cardiology. He was making our point for us. Besides being a psychopath, he is also not too bright.

    Love it, and I really appreciate your articles, which are always clear and forthright.

  • HI, “old Soldier.” apparently some of your posts were deleted because you violated the posting guidelines that MIA has. I have nothing to do with deleting anyone’s posts. This done by a staff person for MIA. She contacted me and said she tried to get in touch with you about why your comments were deleted, but apparently, she cant reach you on your email.. I suggest you post something with your email on it, and she will then contact you.

  • The real issue here is idealism versus cynicism. That’s what it is.

    We have to maintain our idealism and commitment no matter how much money and power the psychiatrists and the drug companies employ to silence us. I understood this well, in a basic way, as I sat in solitary confinement at Rockland State Hospital when I was eight, nine, ten…
    I told myself that I would never become like the people who were torturing me, and I dreamed of coming back some day and rescuing the other children from what was being done to me.

    And I have done my best to keep faith with that child, the child I was then, and with all the others like me.

    I want those who take money from the people who torture and abuse us to know that you will never defeat me and the others, we will never stop fighting, I will keep fighting till I die.

    And although I know that I will not live to see it because of all the years that have been taken from our movement, we will prevail.

  • “Loving someone makes you vulnerable…” How true. I just lost an important friendship with someone, and our mutual vulnerability didn’t help us stay together. Both of us had experienced terrible childhoods, and your past never leaves you, not really.

    Thinking about this article for a while, I am starting to see how important its subject is. Certainly contemporary psychiatry almost defines love as a mental illness nowadays.

    And certainly our movement for human rights is nowhere near as supportive and nurturing as it needs to be. I think I want to explore this more

  • Yeah, I don’t like it either. People can write to the editorial staff about it, though. I think what is happening is that there are more and more submissions now, as MIA continues to grow. I think the front page needs a redesign to accommodate more blogs at a time. Some of the other stuff doesn’t need so much display, I think.. Bob Whitaker told me he expects the total number of unduplicated readers to be over 100,000 for April.

    One hundred thousand and growing fast! That is awesome.

  • I like this article, yet somehow it doesn’t ring true either. I agree that anyone who would follow these guidelines wouldn’t need to read them, and anyone who would commit these abuses, at least the serious ones, wouldn’t pay much attention to this.

    I would think it would have value, though, as a way for someone who wasn’t used to standing up for themselves in a relationship to have a set of guidelines for themselves of what they were entitled to in a relationship.

    About abuse in general, it makes me very sad to realize how common it is, and how destructive.

    And yes, it makes it very hard for someone to be trusting in a close relationship after experiencing abuse. I have seen this more than once in my personal life, with people who I loved, and who loved me, but who were so hurt by their earlier experiences that they couldn’t trust me or let me come close.

  • there are such alternatives now, but very few. There is a functioning Soteria House in Alaska, where people are just given emotional support and protection while they experience and go though their crisis. There is another one funded in Vermont that has not yet opened.

    There are even a few places that get a bit of “mental health” money that are helpful.

    But there won’t be many of these until people stop their delusion that psychiatry is helpful. It’s our job to show the public that the money spent on drugs (which is pretty much all that psychiatry has to offer) would be much better spent another way.

    And as long as psychiatry has the power to force people into their damaging “treatments,” that’s what there will be.

  • Yes, what you just said is sort of the point of my article. Our movement, our movement for liberation and human rights, has been very badly weakened and we are going to have to work hard to rebuild it. But there are still people around the country, people like Jim Gottstein and Lauren Tenney, who are organizing the May 4 demo in New York against the APA, who have a deep and principled commitment to change and liberation. I urge everyone reading this who can to be at that demonstration.

  • I am sorry if you felt ignored. There are a lot of comments and I can’t respond to all of them. And I’m not embarrassed by the word “love” and I don’t think anyone else should be either. Again, I know it sounds naive, but I think we need more love for one another in this movement.

    And we better hurry up before the psychiatrists declare that love is a mental illness.

  • I want to bring to people’s attention this beautiful and well-known poem by Marge Piercy. Rarely do people quote poetry here, but I think this poem has great relevance to our movement and to all other movements working for liberation and justice.

    TO BE OF USE

    The people I love the best
    jump into work head first
    without dallying in the shallows
    and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
    They seem to become natives of that element,
    the black sleek heads of seals
    bouncing like half submerged balls.

    I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
    who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
    who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
    who do what has to be done, again and again.

    I want to be with people who submerge
    in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
    and work in a row and pass the bags along,
    who stand in the line and haul in their places,
    who are not parlor generals and field deserters
    but move in a common rhythm
    when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

    The work of the world is common as mud.
    Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
    But the thing worth doing well done
    has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
    Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
    Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
    but you know they were made to be used.
    The pitcher cries for water to carry
    and a person for work that is real.

  • To be of use, yes… we have to do this for one another, not use one another. Our movement can set an example, create the kind of community that everyone needs, not just those of us who have been so badly hurt.

    Everyone needs a real community, but psychiatry drives people away from one another.

    We can act on our moral commitment and inspire people.

  • Grants are fine, and I certainly agree self help/mutual aid is important, especially after my recent experience, but you better be careful where the money comes from. Anyway, a lot can be done without a lot of money. We should try to create real communities that are self-supporting. There is a book called “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded” that talks about this.

  • Hi. I think you don’t have a basis for comparison. You may be allowed to sit in at meetings, but at bottom you have no power. Myself, I couldn’t care less about sitting next to a psychiatrist. They know that we have no way to make them do anything constructive.

    And “Alternatives” also. Just try to talk about any real change and see what happens. It wasn’t for nothing that they tried to ban Bob Whitaker. SAMHSA, which controls that conference, is just mainstream psychiatry pushing drugs.

    By the way, I should say that the reason Bob W was allowed to speak after all is that David Oaks, the director of MindFreedom, threatened a walkout of people if Bob was not allowed to speak. MindFreedom takes no government money, so it is free to speak out. SAMHSA feared the bad PR that would ensue if a walkout took place.

  • I have trouble with the word “peer” but not the concept. If it means people helping one another as equals, I think it’s great. If it means people taking money from the system to build a bureaucratic empire of underpaid semi-slaves working to get other people to stay on their drugs, that’s another story.

    Recently, I have been in a mutual aid (I like that phrase) group of people, mostly trying to free themselves from psych drugs, that has been a revelation to me. The woman survivor who organized it puts huge amounts of energy into encouraging and supporting people, and she knows that we have to go beyond getting off the drugs to recognizing the oppressive practices of psychiatry behind it. This admirable woman I think is a good example of what kind of leader our movement needs, “serving the people” in a selfless and ethical way.

  • We have seen this here. It is a tactic of NAMI. When anyone starts criticizing psychiatry, they are attacked as keeping people from the help they desperately need, etc. I think very few real people would act like this. It is pretty well-known that NAMI and the drug companies engage in this tactic

    I have come across very few real people who would attack like this. If they are real. I think you should make you position clear and keep going.

    When raising questions such as this, it is very important not to be alone. Try to have someone, at least one other person, work with you on things like this. we used to say “one person is one person, but two people are a group.” When you stand alone, not only will you feel discouraged, but your audience will see you as an isolated complainer. Just one more person saying the same thing, and you will be taken more seriously.

    Believe me, I know. I am pretty outspoken, but even in this movement (or maybe I should say, especially in this movement) I have found myself standing alone, and it is very stressful.

  • I think what the commenters have to say is very important. But I do think the author of this article has been very constructive. It is impossible to always know exactly what to do.

    My own experience with sexual abuse was being repeatedly raped by a worker at Bellevue Hospital when I was six years old and being given electroshock. I have been emotionally involved over the years with several women who have been sexually abused by their fathers, and I’ve always felt their experience was much worse than mine. Their abuse came from their parent, someone who was supposed to nurture them, while I had no emotional complication with my abuser. My feeling about him was very simple. I hated him.

    So I am saying something rather obvious, I know, that everyone exposed to sexual abuse is going to respond in a different way. And how they will heal, if they can, is going to be different for each person.

  • Nancy, a beautifully written article. Thank you. I am glad that freeing Justina will be part of our demands at the May 4 protest of the American Psychiatric Association in New York. And I think we should do everything we can to bring this example of psychiatry’s power grab to the attention of the American public.

    Everyone is at risk now, everyone in our society, of having psychiatrists ruin their lives.

  • “Oldhead,” it sounds as if you were around our movement up to the early 80’s and I suspect I know you. I would like to be in contact with you, so if you like please contact me at [email protected].

    As far as reposting the article, I don’t think MIA does that, but we can both post links on our Facebook pages, and any other groups we are in. I’m thinking that the article is very timely now, now that the “strategy” of merging our movement into the mental illness system has been shown to be a total failure. The article is still on the website, as are all other previous articles, and it is still easily available.

  • Sera, as usual, you have written a very clear analysis of a very important issue.

    And we need to have a clear understanding of what we need to fight.

    But when we have reached that understanding, the next step is to figure out how to fight back. And I have to say, I have become rather disappointed in MIA about this, as there are few articles talking about what we need to do to fight back.

    I find this very discouraging. It seems even people who are NOT taking money from the system don’t go beyond talk (no criticism of you intended.) Of course, those people who are paid to discourage activism do what they are paid for. But the rest of us have to get moving now. It is no coincidence that the Murphy bill and other moves to take away our civil and human rights now have a clear field to pass. After thirty years of non action, there is very little movement to fight back. We have to rebuild that movement,

  • I have a lot of sympathy for what you say, but you are putting yourself in a very vulnerable position when you say these things openly. For one thing, anyone who goes around and shoots people is essentially committing suicide. Another bad effect of such an event is that the public will turn against our cause, as violence scares people.

    I sympathize too with the frustration you feel about the ineffectiveness of nonviolent demonstrations. But we are up against a powerful and vicious enemy who are not going to give up their power because of one demonstration. I think we should keep in mind the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. They made progress after many years when the public saw that their cause was just. If their protests had been violent, the results would have been very different.

  • This piece is very beautifully written and I identify with this woman and her terrible childhood, for which psychiatrists are responsible. But it saddens me to see that she doesn’t seem to have any consciousness of what psychiatry has done to her. She has spells of depression and other results of how she grew up, but it seems she still takes seriously the useless nonsense that psychiatrists spout to her. Still haven’t read the comments. Perhaps some of them will make sense.

  • Regarding making alliances with NAMI members, I agree with Leah that it can be done, and I have seen it happen.

    But before we can make any alliances, we have to have numbers of our own. There are tens of millions of people in this country who have been inmates of psych wards. Why aren’t they in our movement?

    I have a few tentative answers, but they would take up many pages. Just the same, I think we should start thinking about this. We have a very large potential constituency. Why aren’t we recruiting them?

  • Beautifully written, Leah. I wish I shared your optimism.

    I do share one optimistic conclusion, though. I think our movement CAN make common cause with the so-called “NAMI mommies.” I think most of them really want to help their family members, but have been lied to by the drug company bribed leadership of national NAMI.

    Here in Boston, where I am right now to help out, the parents are like the backbone of the fight to free Justina Pelletier. They understand the danger to their children posed by the raw abuse of power shown by the local psychiatric establishment. They have been very welcoming to me, and work closely with other groups.

    We CAN make common cause with them.

  • I’ve had horrible experiences with psychiatry. I was given shock treatment at the age of six, then sent to a state hospital for the rest of my childhood. Later I became an activist. But because I was locked up such a long time ago, I was never put on drugs. Recently a friend of mine encouraged me to join her Facebook group for people withdrawing from psych drugs. I keep reading about the horrors people go through trying to get off and I have never been so moved before. I think anyone who goes through such agony to reclaim their lives from these poisons is brave beyond belief. And I hope what you are suffering becomes the fuel we will need to stop these horrible poisons.

  • Amazing and important. While I am hardly an admirer of Dershowitz in general, he is no doubt a very prestigious and competent lawyer, and also likely to push issues that come close to what the real issue is: the unconstitutional power that psychiatry has been given by the state and country to violate people’s rights.

  • I think this is a very good article and a good review of the problem. Some minor points, though.

    In California, as a result of a federal court case Doe v. Gallinot, we have a system in place where there are automatic hearings after 72 hours, and the inmate has representation from (usually nonlawyer) advocates. At its best, with zealous advocates and honest hearing officers, this cuts down greatly on the endless incarceration this article describes. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of counties where the advocacy is a bad joke, and the hearing officer acts as a rubber stamp for the “hospital.”

    The three standards (danger to self or others, or grave disability) come from the 1975 Donaldson case, where the U.S Supreme Court ruled unanimously that “the state cannot hold, without more, someone who is a danger to no one and can survive safely in freedom.” These were the California standards adopted here in 1968, though the USSC did not so identify them.

  • Yes, no one goes to prison, because they are rich and powerful. Until some of them go to prison, they will all continue abusing people.

    Lawsuits won’t do it, because the insurance companies pay the awards. Psychiatrists can kill people, lose a suit for $40,000,000 (as happened recently in Boston) and it doesn’t have any effect on them at all.

    But the most important court is the court of public opinion. We have to go out there and show the general public that they are endangered by the power of psychiatry.

    Anyway, thanks to the author for this thought-provoking article.

  • Richard, your comments about the role of survivor-run groups to support people becoming free of the psych drugs really resonate with me. I’ve become close with someone lately who is running such a group, after years of her own struggle, and that is exactly what she is accomplishing. For one thing, anyone who is willing to go through the agony of psych drug withdrawal and comes through that is never going to be content to be a “consumer” again.

    I already have met several members of this group who are starting to be activists.

    I also think (or at least hope) in general that what will replace most of psychiatry for the 95%of people with problems in life now called “disorders” are groups like these that provide nurturing and community. My friend acts from her own experiences and her commitment to a cause bigger than her. I’ve never met a more nurturing and ethical person. I’m not saying that a certain amount of training would never be needed, but without an authentic human connection, I don’t see how anyone can be helped to live a life that they control and choose.

  • Thank you for this article. Even though Insel has criticized the DSM 5, this “research” initiative supports its nonsense just the same.

    I actually believe that in a few situations, the distress and dysfunction that some people have living in the world probably has a physical basis, and maybe studying that might be helpful.

    As for the other 95% of the emotional problems people may have, the NIMH initiative really means nothing, or worse. A child talking back to her parents or an elderly man grieving the loss of his wife of sixty years don’t have “disorders” or brain dysfunction, and of course I’m not saying anything here that pretty much any reader of MIA would disagree with. But the question is, what if anything does psychiatry have to offer for these problems?

    Brain studies, if done honestly, will be useless, and there is no reason to doubt either that results showing a correlation between brain function and emotional distress will be announced as showing causation.

    How do we move forward to a system of genuine helping or really, a society where people take their responsibility to their fellow human beings seriously?

    I am just groping with these questions myself now, but I do think we need less intellectual analysis and more moral commitment to find our way to that kind of helping.

    I apologize for this vagueness, but I think issues like this will always force us to struggle to find an answer. I wouldn’t trust anyone, including myself, who would claim to know what to do.

    Anyway, thank you again for this article.

  • Having been badly abused by psychiatry myself as a child, of course this article really speaks to me. But I agree with Seth Farber, much as I don’t want to, that I don’t think this overreach by psychiatry will lead to its losing its power. There has to be a political movement that uses these issues to get the public to understand what is going on. Some of this is going on in Boston, with the public uproar over the kidnapping and abuse of Justina Pelletier. I can only hope that this will spread. Right now at this moment I’m not so sure.

  • Chaya, I agree with you completely about the lack of meaning nowadays of the word “community.” But it isn’t just used by others to describe some group they aren’t a part of. I am now in the middle of a disgusting book called “Medical Child Abuse,” written by a psychiatrist and his partner, which seems to be the founding statement of a new “medical” specialty, which is already being used to enable psychiatrists to even more easily take children away from their parents. In this book, the phrase “child protection community” is used over and over. It’s always good to sound warn and fuzzy while you are arguing for torturing children, isn’t it?

  • Great article, Sera. I love your description of NAMI as the National Alliance FOR Mental Illness. I use that phrase too, and it is an accurate description.

    I certainly agree with you that “stigma” is just another tool to convince people that letting themselves and their children be drugged is the right way to live their lives, by turning over all life’s problems to psychiatry. I tend to attack this PR at its base, by trying to discredit psychiatry itself. Of course, in many ways the profession is doing a great job of doing that, if we can find ways to get the public to see it..

    On the phenomenon of “NAMI mommies,” I also agree with you that a lot of such people are just desperate for help for their family members, and are being conned by the drug company propaganda. For a long while, it has been unfortunately the case that our movement and most such family members have been on opposite sides. But this is changing, and not just within NAMI. Rob Wipond’s excellent article in the current MIA gives one example. Another is the participation of many family members in the fight to free Justina Pelletier in Boston, led by Melissa Kerins and others. The next fight in Boston will be to close Bader 5, Harvard’s notorious psych ward at Boston Children’s Hospital, and I know many family members will be involved in that too. And as someone who as you know was labelled and abused by psychiatry as a child, I am very happy to have these family members be on my side, and I on theirs.

  • I know I often sound too critical, and I have tremendous respect for Bob Whitaker. But I think he left out a couple of important areas.

    One is the incredible, and increasing, amount of state power that has been turned over to psychiatry. Why would they change when all they have to do is force people to take their drugs? I think the end of this power would do far more to make psychiatry change than any amount of research and discussion. If you can’t force people to “buy your product,” then you will have to offer something that people see as useful or else go out of business.

    Also, although I do believe that some dysfunctional behavior (trying to avoid the phrase “mental illness” here) may have a physical cause and might have to be dealt with by physically-based treatments, in most cases what are labeled as “disorders” by the DSM are problems in living.

    The diagnosis that I find most disgusting is psychiatry’s proclamation that you have fourteen days to grieve, and after that you suffer from clinical depression. (Again, I do think there is such a thing as endogenous depression, but in my experience it is very rare.)

    In fact, the whole concept of “depression” as a “disorder” I think is completely inhuman.

    Of course, what I’ve just said is hardly news to MIA readers. But my point is that human conditions like this are real problems for people, and all that is offered is drugs.

    A real helping profession would help people deal with these real problems, but not through “science.” (Myself, I think “science” is quite overrated in our culture, especially when it is applied to activities that have nothing to do with real science at all.)

    People change through their life experiences, if they’re lucky. People change through being nurtured, which is a completely foreign concept to present-day psychiatry, with its inhuman view of human nature.

    Recently, I have been participating (as somewhat of an outsider) in a group for people getting off psychiatric drugs. The remarkable woman who runs it puts huge amounts of energy into supporting people emotionally, being very open about her own problems and struggles. She is one of the most nurturing people I have ever met, and engages people as equals, because they are.

    I hope that if she goes on to professional training, she doesn’t lose that openness, that relationship between “I and Thou,” that exchange among human beings that to me is something that in most cases is what people need to heal themselves.

    This isn’t scientific. This is what all people owe to one another, respect, caring, love. And this is what most people need to change and grow.

  • I think readers should notice how, in a lot of ways, the situation of this mother and her son resembles what has been happening with Justina Pelletier and her family in Boston. One sees from the psychiatrists the same arrogance and misuse of power in both Washington and Massachusetts. We have a big job ahead of us to get the public to see that this out-of-control power has to be taken away.

  • I appeared on an RT program a couple of months ago, talking about how I was experimented on with shock treatment when I was six. The interviewer was very sympathetic and had done her homework. I can’t remember the name of the interviewer and the show, but the show was appearing on stations in New York City and Washington D.C.

    This was a good suggestion, and I think I can find the email of the woman who did the show.

    Yeah, to me it is very disgusting how much the establishment liberals love psychiatry. I hate to say it, but conservatives are right when they say liberals really do support the government interfering in people’s private lives “for their own good.” Of course, they want to be the ones to decide what is for people’s own good.

  • I don’t think the parents chose Glen Beck. Beck took an interest in this situation on his own.

    There has been discussion of this kind of thing already on MIA. By and large, except for the Boston Globe, mainstream establishment media have been ignoring this. One has to ask why. NPR, for example, has E. Fuller Torrey as a regular guest. They love psychiatry and used to, and maybe still do, get a lot of money from Eli Lilly.

    Before someone denounces me as a right-winger, I better tell you that I’m a member of the Green Party and an admirer of Senator Bernie Sanders. By the way, in 1985, when Bernie was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he spoke at our Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression. I would hardly call him an establishment liberal, though.

  • Well, I suppose I qualify as “anti-psychiatry.” But I am not totally against the use of psych drugs short term, especially since most of the time “psychosocial interventions” are not available. When I was representing inmates at commitment hearings, I not infrequently postponed the hearings for a few days when I perceived that the drugs they were on would soon clear their minds enough for them to be released by the hearing officer.

    But there is already plenty of evidence that non-drug approaches work a lot better without damaging people’s metabolism and neurological functioning. We can go back as far as the Quaker retreats in the 19th century, and as recently as the Soteria Houses and Diabasis House and even the (I think) L Ward at a county hospital here in Northern California. All showed large percentages of people who recovered from their “illnesses” without drugs.

    And of course I could mention many other facts and studies that show how people overcome their problems and are left undamaged when they are not drugged. This is nothing new for MIA readers.

    I guess I am writing this to encourage Dr. Steingard and others who have some substantial position within psychiatry to say openly what they know without unnecessary qualifications. I suppose part of this is that you don’t want to get too far ahead of your colleagues, who have a lot invested, both intellectually and financially, in believing the lies of their profession.

    Since I am not their colleague but one of their victims (though not, thank God, of their drugs), I have little ability or interest in having any intellectual discussion with them. I think at this point in time, there is no excuse for ethical psychiatrists not to be aware of the destructiveness of their profession as it is now practiced. The only way they will change is if and when the force of public opinion and the legal system forces them to change.

    The best way to accomplish this is for some criminal prosecutions of people like Doctor Biederman, who are responsible for the disability and deaths of thousands of people. A few prison sentences for these “opinion leaders” will work wonders to change standard psychiatric practices.

  • Yes, I agree. They know what they are doing, and only a few criminal prosecutions will have an effect.

    By the way, though, malpractice cases aren’t criminal. And unfortunately, while your lawyer can get a malpractice case to court, only prosecutors can bring criminal cases. We have to start demanding criminal prosecutions. It won’t be easy but we have to try.

  • I think Doctor Thomas and other psychiatrists critical of their profession deserve a lot of credit. But I am somewhat surprised, though pleased, that the official “leaders” of the profession seem to be in a panic.

    Psychiatry never has had any real scientific rationale for what they do, even before the days of mass drugging and mass bribes to its practitioners from the drug companies. In spite of that, our society has given psychiatry more and more power, both ideological and legal.

    For example, when people become unhappy because of what is happening in their lives, instead of perceiving it as part of life and trying to do something to change what is hurting them, they now believe it’s a “disease,” and take a drug. I’m obviously not saying anything revelatory to readers of MIA here, but my point is that psychiatry has become a religion to the average person. The criticisms of their profession by honest doctors haven’t reached the public yet.

    Even worse (to me as a lawyer), psychiatry has been given incredible legal power over people’s freedom. As I understand it, in most of Europe and the UK, people can still be locked up if one or two psychiatrists say they “need treatment.” In the United States, our Supreme Court ruled against this almost forty years ago, but in practice in most states, “need for treatment” is still followed. Note, for example the recent case of a woman in Vermont (one of our most liberal states) who was held for nearly six weeks without legal review.

    So what I am saying is that I find it strange that the official rulers of psychiatry are in a panic. Their power to lock people up at will, and their bizarre view of human nature that the public believes in, has still been untouched.

    I wish that their power was a lot closer to being taken away than it really is. But if I were them, I wouldn’t worry too much. They should just save some of the bribes they receive from the drug companies and retire to the country somewhere, perhaps to some former “asylum” where one hopes there will be lots of room for them.

    Meanwhile, I commend again decent and honest psychiatrists like Doctors Thomas, Moncrieff, and others, for having the courage to speak the truth to the leaders of their profession. As for those leaders, perhaps they should try some of the wonderful medications that are available and they will feel better.

  • Thank you for bringing this to people’s attention.

    Crimes have been committed here. Once it was known that this drug could kill, continuing to administer it without precautions to people, some of whom died, would have been second-degree murder in many jurisdictions. A key phrase here is “a depraved indifference to human life.” Deaths don’t have to be directly intended for acts like this to be murder. If there is a risk of death that is recklessly disregarded, under circumstances that show this depraved indifference, this is a crime.

    You might translate “depraved indifference to human life,” in ordinary language, to “I don’t give a damn if anyone dies.”

    That happens over and over in situations like these. Our movement for human rights and justice in the mental “health” system must start raising the demand for criminal prosecution of criminal psychiatrists and drug company executives. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen for a while, but lawsuits, with judgements paid for by the criminals’ insurance companies, just won’t change the situation. Why should they? The people who commit these outrageous acts pay no real price. Only the criminal law system can force these people to pay attention.

  • I agree with you there, Sandra. Just to show that some form of non-invasive intervention can work is important, and will help some people in the long run.

    As I am sure you know, advocacy of psychotherapy for “schizophrenia” goes all the way back to the psychoanalyst Harry Stack Sullivan (who rumor said was a recovered “schizophrenic” himself).

    I think that no matter how much evidence that is produced about the ineffectiveness of standard (drug) treatments, it isn’t enough. Mainstream psychiatry has never had any scientific justification for what it does, but it does it anyway, thanks to the massive propaganda campaign of the drug companies.

    These mistaken and abusive practices(and I say “mistaken” only to be polite) will only change when an educated and aroused public opinion demands that change.

  • Since apparently, if I read this right, the research subjects were people who refused drugs and were not receiving them, I’m not sure what important conclusions could be drawn from this research. These are very atypical people. CBT vs. drugs would be much more meaningful.

    Whatever conclusions can be made from this study, I don’t see it as that revelatory. I wish it was.

  • I’m not sure I should comment, since the earlier commenters did such a good job. I would emphasize, though, the importance of trying to get criminal prosecutions of some of these people. Unfortunately, when American drug executives push the drugs on people in less-developed countries, criminal prosecutions are not likely.

    But a few prison terms would work wonders for the behavior of psychiatrists like Joseph Biederman.

  • Duane, I totally agree with what you say. It’s really frightening the way most psychiatrists have no compassion for their fellow human beings at all. We can talk about things like “medical model,” or the bad effects of drugs, or a million things that psychiatrists should be doing, but the bottom line is that these people are essentially psychopaths. They really are.

  • I wish our movement would adopt “We Shall Overcome” as its anthem too. Most people younger than me hardly know the civil rights movement existed, but when our movement for justice in the mental illness system started, we still had that example in front of us. We have to go back to those roots. Thank you for this article, Jack.

  • Doubling back to the claim by psychiatry that people having manic episodes after SSRIs would have them anyway, the answers to this are not complex, and Bob has given them. One is the correlation between increased incidence of bipolar and increased exposure to SSRIs, the other is the study cited that people on SSRIs became bipolar at a rate three times higher than those not exposed to SSRIs.

    I just can’t be impressed by psychiatry’s arguments. They would never stand up in court. They are very similar to what my tormentor, Doctor Lauretta Bender, said when confronted by the fact that the children she shocked were obviously worse off after the shock. The electroshock, she said, had brought out the underlying illness, which was a good thing, as now it was more amenable to treatment. Somehow, this is what passed for a scientific explanation by psychiatry in those days, and these explanations haven’t become any more rational today.

  • It is very good news when a psychiatrist faces criminal prosecution for what they do. I hope we have a case like this soon in the United States. Although lawsuits have been won over this issue (drug-induced suicides and homicides), the general public hardly knows of them, and the doctors involved pay no penalty for their depraved indifference to human life (part of the standard for second-degree murder in many states), as their insurance companies defend them and pay any money judgement against them. Just a handful of criminal prosecutions should convince these people to at least be more careful, although no punishment can give people a conscience if they don’t have one already.

  • It is very distressing to see that the Donaldson case holdings, decided in 1975 by a unanimous U.S.Supreme Court, are not being followed in Vermont, and according to Jim Gottstein and others, hardly being followed throughout the U.S. It seems to me as an attorney that it would be fruitful to start bringing cases all over the country to get them to follow the law.

  • This particular website, although it is just repeating what other media has said, has done a very good job of bringing together a lot of important material. I’ve been following the situation closely, and there is a lot here I haven’t seen before, particularly the compilation of much of the television coverage by Fox News. Anyone who wants to understand what is going on here should really dig into the links provided by this website.

  • It is good, Doctor Martin, that you criticize some of the bad practices of your profession. But I don’t think that safely making such criticisms from the shelter of this website will make much difference. The membership of the profession of child psychiatry is full of people who, to use what has become a legal term, have a depraved indifference to human life (part of the standard for second-degree murder in many states).

    Drugging children unto death is not a practice that will end because the people who do it will be made to see the error of their ways. This is not something that people do because they are mistaken. They know what they are doing, and what they do will only stop when their power to do so is taken away, by an educated public opinion and by vigorous criminal prosecutions.

    In particular, right now there is a growing scandal about the virtual kidnapping of children by Harvard’s child psychiatry department, where parents are stripped of their constitutional right to raise their own children, and the kids are held on the psychiatric ward and heavily drugged, even when such drugs are contraindicated and dangerous to the children, in the light of the metabolic problems they have already.

    Behind these atrocities is Doctor Joseph Biederman, the leader of your profession, whose practices I am sure are well-known to you.

    Since you hold yourself out as someone who struggles to reform your profession, I would hope that you would address what is going on in Boston right now, and especially, comment in a forthright way about the activities of the doctor who I think has damaged more children with the weapons of psychiatry than anyone else.

    I hope you will do this, and show your readers that you are willing to take some risks to make changes. Risks, yes. Standing up against the evil practices of your profession is not that easy, but if real change will happen, it is necessary.

  • I want people to know that I will definitely be in Boston for the February 4 demonstration and hearing. I have my plane ticket, bought partly with my own limited money, and I expect to have places to stay by the time I get there. I will be there for a week, and I want to meet with as many people as possible who are involved in this campaign, or want to be. If you don’t already have my email and/or phone, please contact me through MIA.

    I’ve had several contacts with some very impressive people in the last few days, and I am getting the impression that things are starting to snowball. What has been done to Justina and many other children by Doctor Biederman’s Harvard Child Psychiatry Department is one of the most horrible violations of human rights I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen (and experienced) plenty.

    This is a chance to start turning back psychiatry’s abuses of power, and I’m going to do all I can in this fight. I hope you are too.

  • I hope this comment winds up in the right place. The reason few lawyers will take psychiatric malpractice cases is that they are almost impossible to win, and all malpractice cases are very expensive to put on. Furthermore in most states the standard for malpractice is something like falling below the standard of care of the average recognized practitioner. (Not a very accurate summary, but you get the idea.) The problem is, as a very decent lawyer I once worked for said, it is almost impossible to fall below the standard of care of the average psychiatrist. This is not a joke, The insurance companies will find doctors who will testify that almost anything is OK (a lobotomy for a two year old, no problem!) while it is almost impossible to find a psychiatrist who will testify in the plaintiff’s favor. AND the average judge and juror relate to psychiatry as if it were some kind of religion.

  • Doctor Martin, I am asking again that you comment on human rights violations in psychiatry. If you truly want to reform your profession, I don’t think it is credible for you to ignore these issues. As you know, my childhood and my humanity were violated by child psychiatrists, so academic discussions mean little to me (and they shouldn’t to anyone else either) if these very basic and serious issues are not addressed.

  • Jonah, I love the way you express yourself, and thank you for bringing up the situation at Boston Children’s Hospital. I invite you also to contact me through MIA. I think those of us with the same point of view should be in contact with one another, so that we can figure out together what we can do about the horrors of our current mental “health” system.

  • Steven Gilbert, I totally agree that psychiatry is not going to clean up its act on its own, and they are not going to give up their power unless they are forced to. I see that you and I share the same perspective, and I would very much like to be in touch with you. I don’t want to post my email or phone publicly, but if you would like to be in touch, please contact me through MIA. There is a box on the upper right corner of the home page where you can do this. I hope to hear from you.

  • Doctor Martin, when I was six years old, I was taken from my foster parents, the only family I ever knew, and experimented on with electroshock by the famous Doctor Lauretta Bender, probably the leading child psychiatrist of her time. I was then more or less given up for dead, and sent to a state hospital where I spent the rest of my childhood. No one in the psychiatric profession raised a voice against what was done to me and several hundred other children.

    Now there has developed a trend in child psychiatry to have parental custody taken away if the parents try to protect their children from psychiatric intervention. This has broken out into the open very recently with the case of Justina Pelletier in Boston and many similar situations.

    Given these and many other instances of human rights violations perpetrated by psychiatry, I was quite disappointed that in your discussion of reforms that you would support, you said nothing about these very common problems.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you would comment on psychiatry’s frequent human rights violations and your point of view about them.

  • This story is interesting (and tragic) for several reasons. First is that while the reporters steered away from any possible criticism of the drugs, they allowed the family members to speak out to others about not letting their family members get trapped with this.

    The comments were very interesting too. Aside from condolences to the family, about half were anti-drug, and the others defended the drugs, sounding rather like religious fanatics in the process. As a lawyer, I found the comment almost amusing that questioned how legitimate it would be to sue over a drug taken voluntarily. This of course would mean the end of malpractice cases. And if the drug had been forced on the person, what do you think the commenter would have said then? This passive acceptance of psychiatric drugs is really frightening to me, as people like this sound like religious fanatics, and they are.

  • Greg, I think you have identified the problem very well. I agree with everything you say, and I think the ideas you put out there are insightful and true.

    But we have to work on the solutions too. I know, I know, I always sound so critical, but it just doesn’t make sense that talking to one another, preaching to the choir, is going to make much difference. We have to be out in the world, bringing our message to ordinary people. We have to make those people see that they too are threatened by psychiatric power.

    If we don’t, nothing will change.

  • Thank you for this article. Its conclusions are not surprising, since one need not be a doctor to realize that taking any drug with neurological effects during pregnancy will surely have some effect on the baby. But this very clear and understandable article is very valuable, and I am filing this in my mind to use in my writing and speaking.

  • copy cat, I totally share your anger, but as a lawyer I caution you not to openly talk about violence in a public forum like this one, or you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. Remember that we live in a country where everything we say is being spied upon.

    Again, as a lawyer, what I would say is that those drug company executives and psychiatrists, who knowingly set in motion a chain of events that lead to people’s deaths, with a depraved indifference to human life and a malignant heart, have committed second-degree murder and should be prosecuted and put in prison for the rest of their lives. All state laws define second-degree murder in this way, and we should demand that these laws be enforced.

  • You were right to do the interview. I’ve been on the media a lot over the years, and it’s always frustrating how little of the interviews they use, and even more frustrating when they (sometimes) seem to completely miss the points I’ve tried to make. But what I think is especially important here is that they have a drug victim (you) as the spokesperson, instead of an “expert” (read: some doctor on the take from the drug companies).

    So thank you for doing this.

  • This is a typical New York Times treatment of these issues. They choose a psychiatrist to review any book that deals with psychiatry, whether critical or apologetic. The reviewer either concludes that the book that supports giving more power to psychiatrists is a brilliant analysis, or if it is critical, it is a misguided and exaggerated treatment of the problem. Nothing new here for us, of course, but since the general public believes this garbage already, it is very dangerous for us.

    To me, the most dangerous aspect of what Torrey is demanding is changing the legal treatment standard to “need for treatment.” Translated into plain English, this means psychiatrists can lock anyone up just on their say-so, with no legal recourse. Although the United States Supreme Court ruled this “standard” unconstitutional in 1975, it isn’t clear what they will do about it now.

    My experience as a patients rights advocate in California, with probably the most protective legal standards, showed me that those standards still don’t protect people very much. Even with the most diligent representation (from me and the advocates I supervised) and the most conscientious hearing officers, we lost 90% of the hearings.

  • I agree with you, it is extremely interesting that all this information is posted on an official state website.

    I hope you or I can figure out what happened after Chelsey died. But if nothing else. I am going to write an article on MIA quoting the girl’s plea to the judge, which obviously was ignored. It is one of the most moving letters I have ever read, and it shows how inhuman the system of “child welfare” is. I was one of its victims also, and I think I need to dedicate myself in the time I have left to do everything I can to reform it.

  • Oh, you hit the nail on the head in so many ways, Maria. Yes, psychiatrists are delusional by their own definitions. Unfortunately, those who believe in the psychiatric religion share those delusions. In the well-documented face of all the evidence that psychiatric interventions are almost completely worthless, many real people continue to believe in it. To me, it shows that it has become a kind of religion.

    You know, I could repeat a lot of things here that I’ve written elsewhere, but I’ll just say that this article shows me how much we are on the same page on these issues. Thank you for writing it.

  • Thank you for this article, Michael. We in the movement for human rights in the mental illness system need to pay closer attention to what is going on here.

    I do think one important way to fight back is to carry out actions that show regular people that psychiatric power can be used against them too. Torrey and those who support him try to frame any discussion, such as it is, as an issue, as you say,that only affects strange weird people who wander the streets ready to kill people. The fact is, of course, is that this policy will affect many people who don’t think of themselves as “mental patients.” Just look at what is being done in Boston to Justina Pelletier and her parents.

    They better wake up. We have to help them wake up.

    As for your question, are people with psychiatric labels the new terrorists, I am not sure if that is the question to ask.

    Although I know that the conventional wisdom is that no one should dare to say this, I think our position is more like that of the Jews in Nazi Germany in the early 1930’s. Then too, the German (and world) economy was in desperate shape, and the powers that be needed people other than themselves to blame it on. Anti-Semitism in Germany was nothing new, but the Nazis whipped it up to mass hysteria.

    Bigotry against crazy people is nothing new either, but right now it is being exploited to take the public’s attention away from what those in power are doing, looting our country for the benefit of a tiny elite. There is nothing new in this. It’s been done before, and it is important to look at the details of what was done before.

  • This brief article, by a thoughtful policeman in the UK, is well worth reading. I myself have been a peace officer, as the generic term would be here in the States, and like the author, I tried to be very thoughtful about what I was doing. Here is a conscientious man who is asked, among other jobs of a cop, to pick up people and put them under the control of the mental “health” system. And he asks, “why?” And observes that when he contacts the apologists for psychiatry, he receives no answer. Read it!

  • Richard, I don’t know the details, as I obviously have not been involved in planning it. I know it is at the Edward Brooke Courthouse beginning at 8 am.I think you can find more details on the various Facebook pages about Justina. I am just coming to be supportive.

    Sinead, thank you for posting the material about the evolution of the parens patriae doctrine in the United States. It was very interesting to me, something I will file in the back of my mind to be used in the future.

    And in general, though I have said this already, yes, this is not a “left” or “right” issue. It is an issue of freedom, an issue that brings out what happens when one group (psychiatry) is given near-absolute power. What the Harvard child psychiatrists have done is a violation of the ideals of freedom our country was founded on. It is very important that we get the general public to see how they too are threatened by this. If we succeed in this, it will not just help Justina, but it will prevent this from happening to many other children, of which I was one.

  • It’s more than OK, Duane. As mjk says, there are a lot of people who are frustrated by the lack of progress in our movement. We are up against some powerful forces working against our freedom, yet our “leaders,” almost all of them, don’t seem to have any strategy for fighting back. I feel just as frustrated as everyone else here. I hope the new revival of the Network Against Psychiatric Assault gets us back on track.

  • Sinead, as a lawyer, I am very interested in what you said about the “parens patriae” doctrine being developed in Boston only about a century ago. I think you are quite right about how basic this idea is in enabling abuse against us and vulnerable children and anyone. Could you direct me to some article or link or case that discusses this? I see I need to educate myself more about this issue. Thanks for bringing this up.

  • Yeah, Duane, you ask a great question. Where is the left? In fact, the establishment liberals are the worst in terms of our issues. I remember someone posting on Facebook how great NPR is (also known as National Pharmaceutical Radio). When I pointed out how pro psych drug they are, and how E. Fuller Torrey is an honored guest about once a month, she kept insisting how great NPR is and that we shouldn’t criticize them. If NPR put out stories that were racist, sexist, homophobic etc., the people in those movements wouldn’t put up with it for an instant, and rightfully so. Why do we? It’s as if we don’t take our own oppression and movement seriously. I am happy to get the support of anyone. I don’t have to agree with their other politics 100 percent or even 5 percent.

  • I am glad to have read the exchange between Sinead and Richard. I think it is important, though (and I’m not saying that is what is happening here) not to fall into the habit of telling one another how terrible everything is. All of us know that already.

    Our job, I think, is to convince the PUBLIC how bad everything in the system is, and we must focus on that. The media attention to this case is giving us that opportunity.

    Hopefully, if we keep our eyes on the ball, we not only will win freedom for Justina, but make steps toward an enlightened public opinion that will keep things like this from happening in the future.

    Right now, psychiatry’s vision of the future seems to be (1) a commitment standard of “need for treatment,” as in the Murphy bill, meaning anyone can be locked up and drugged just on their say-so, with no legal recourse, and (2) the power to take away parental rights at will, so children can be drugged and abused by the mental illness system, without their parents being able to protect them.

    We have to show the public that everyone is threatened by this. The power psychiatrists are demanding is a threat to our democracy.

  • I’m not offering a plug for anyone, just willing to take support where I can find it. As I said, I am pretty left myself, but left and right is almost irrelevant when psychiatric abuse is concerned. And I don’t support violence. Please don’t distort what I said. I support the right of all people to control their own lives, and to be free to do what they see fit as long as it doesn’t hurt other people.

    I am not as willing as you seem to be to believe psychiatrists when they demand power over people

  • Hi, cannotsay2013. Yes, I agree, some people on the right have very good positions on our issues. I was the Glen Beck material. I think the libertarian folks are better on our issues than the corporate Democrats. I am not conservative or a democrat, but I do consider myself a kind of libertarian. I think people should be allowed to do whatever they want if they are not hurting anyone. Psychiatry as it is now believes just the opposite of this. They are demanding absolute power over who can be free and who will be imprisoned. That’s why I think this demo is so important. Psychiatry is now going after ordinary people, and this outrageous project must be brought to the public’s attention.

  • As of now, the links to the Globe stories are a bit garbled. You can copy and paste them, then delete the parts that start with “blank.” I am sure this will be fixed later, but either you can do this or go to part 2 of the forum discussion of Justina’s situation, where “cataract” has posted the full text of the newspaper stories. Please don’t skip this important material, as it is full of important facts, plus it shows how seriously important Boston media is taking this.

    UPDATE: The problem has been fixed. And again I urge you to read the Globe stories.

  • What can we do about the Murphy bill? As I said above, basically nothing. About Justina P., not much unless we are in the Boston area. If you are there, I encourage you to find out if anyone is demonstrating and join them. I also think it would be worthwhile to write to some of the folks in the Boston area who blog for MIA, and encourage them to act.

    As far as my being a lawyer, it means almost nothing here, unless I were in the Boston area and involved in the case. The kinds of courts who make these decisions are really lawless anyway. The standard is “the best interest of the child,” which I am sure you can see means the judge can do anything he or she wants. Another practice which most courts of this kind carry out is to close the hearings to the public, which means the outrageous decisions made there are not exposed so that the public can do anything about them.

    Any action to bring about a resolution of this has to be political, not legal. Ultimately, taking away a lot of the power of judges in this area and making sure the public can see what they do can’t be accomplished with lawsuits. It has to be done politically.

  • AA, I completely agree with you about the child “welfare” system. Remember that I was a victim of that system in a very similar way to this girl’s experience. The social worker who visited my foster parents was on the lookout for children who could be experimented on with shock treatment, and so I was turned over to the child psychiatrists who was making her reputation by shocking children.

    I don’t remember your question about the Murphy bill, but I thought my multiple comments on Facebook were pretty clear. I don’t think at this time, there is much we CAN do. Because most of our movement has merged with the mental “health” system, we have become invisible to the general public and have no political influence at all. I suppose you could write to your congressperson. Good luck with that.

    I must say, though, that I think it is extremely unlikely the bill will pass or even make it out of committee. More likely is some kind of “more money for mental health” type bills like the one now being sponsored by Senators Stabenow and Blunt.

  • I agree completely that the progress some people think we have made is rather imaginary. As you say, it’s just on the internet and doesn’t count. The bottom line is that ordinary people have never even heard of our movement to rein in psychiatry’s power. We should try to talk to real people and not just ourselves.

  • This is such an obvious example of psychiatry being out of control, I can’t understand why our movement folks in the Boston area seem to have nothing to say about it. The same thing happened several years ago, when four-year-old Rebecca Riley died after being massively drugged by psychiatrists since the ago of two. In Rebecca’s case, her abuse and death was even covered on national television.

    What are people in our movement doing about situations like these? We don’t need any more articles on MIA discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Cases like this are an opportunity to educate the public about the danger the growing power of psychiatry poses to everyone in our society.

    Just what is people’s concept of a movement here? Is it a kind of writing class where we say “isn’t it awful” and then continue to do nothing? Is it some kind of Harvard graduate seminar where we show off what brilliant intellectuals we are?

    I can’t imagine any issue that would concern such a large part of the public than psychiatrists taking away people’s children so that they can drug them. It’s one of the best opportunities I can imagine to show the public what psychiatry is really about.

    It’s shameful that people who say they are opposed to psychiatric abuse just sit and do nothing in the face of these atrocities. What kind of movement is this?

  • As someone who was repeatedly raped at age six, while I was in the middle of getting shock treatment at the same time, your story, mjk, just made me cry. Usually on MIA I make a lot of political comments, but what you wrote just hit me hard this afternoon and I wanted to write this.

    Because I was being shocked, my memory of the rapist was very foggy, but a couple of months ago, I woke up screaming in the middle of the night. My dream, with no context, had shown me a vivid picture of this man, lying on my bed, smirking, waiting for me to come back from the bathroom. I didn’t want to remember what he looked like, but my dream insisted. I woke up screaming because I knew it was him.

    I was told by the shock doctor that it never happened, that it was a symptom of my mental illness. Were you ever told that?

    I wish that I could have protected you and comforted you, I wish that I could comfort you now. All of us who have suffered this way should try to protect and comfort one another, but our movement doesn’t have enough of that. We attack one another, we intellectualize too much, we drive one another away.

    I’m sorry that happened to you.

  • The Medscape article was not available to non-subscribers. The other one displayed, but I think the larger figure referred to “secondary diagnoses,” meaning I suppose that admittees were given a psychiatric diagnosis but it wasn’t the reason for the admission. This is very interesting in itself, though, since it showed how willing even “regular” doctors are now to pin a psychiatric label on people.

    If you or anyone else has any more info about this, I would very much appreciate hearing about it.

  • This is not really a comment, but a question. You said somewhere in this article that 7.6 million people experience psychiatric hospitalization every year. My understanding is that it is more like 2 million. Could you tell us your source for this? I actually think if your number is correct, in the long run it could be a good thing, because the more people who experience this, the larger the proportion of the population it is, the more likely the public in general will pay attention to these issues.

  • I know this will sound like a cranky response, because it is. But it really isn’t directed at you or anyone in particular. Before 1985, when the “Alternatives” conference was set up by the NIMH (later SAMHSA) our movement was out on the streets, demonstrating at oppressive “hospitals”, or doing things like putting a ban on shock treatment on the ballot and getting national recognition after winning that vote. Once we stopped doing that, things went backwards. Outpatient commitment was adopted in about 44 states. Even more important, our people are almost completely shut out from the media. To the extent that our version of issues ever appears, it is given by sympathetic mental health professionals like Peter Breggin or Bruce Levine. This is not to criticize them at all, as they are fine, sincere allies, but (1)even they hardly get to say anything, and (2) the image then becomes that people with psychiatric labels are so inferior and damaged that we are unable to speak for ourselves or be taken seriously.

    All other movements for liberation in the last half century, women, black people, gays, everyone but us, have made great progress. We have gone backwards.

    I just can’t understand how people can believe that they are doing something meaningful when they go to a conference or write an article and just tell other people in the movement, “Isn’t it awful?” We already know how awful it is. Maybe it might even be a good thing if the Murphy bill passes.(I doubt very much that it will, however.) Then people might be shocked into action.

  • The fact that the New York Times published this is very important. The article makes the Times’ opinion about the dangerous disease-mongering of the drug companies very clear. They have also recently published several small articles featuring actual psychiatric patients that I think are very significant. One was from a woman who, when her doctors learned she had a “bipolar” label, essentially ignored and refused to treat her very real physical illnesses. The other, very recently, followed a veteran who made a suicide attempt, then relented and signed himself into a psych ward, expecting help. All he got, of course, was a bunch of drugs and a disdainful attitude from the staff and doctors. This would be well-known to us survivors, but very important and enlightening information to the typical Times reader. I wonder where this apparently new editorial policy is coming from.

  • I suppose this is a joke, but I believed in it for a few seconds. Seriously, the case where this rich kid was allowed to kill four people without any punishment was good for us, though it was mostly perceived as an example of rich people being allowed to get away with murder (and it was). But it also demonstrated the utter nonsense of the way psychiatry is used in the service of of the powerful with no consideration for anyone else.

    It’s pretty easy to satirize psychiatry, isn’t it? I write satires myself from time to time, and what psychiatrists and drug companies do is so far out you hardly have to write anything very far from what is actually going on.

  • Whoops! Larmac, I did say that, but only because you are a family member of someone who was abused by psychiatry. It is true that there are changes happening within NAMI, but if you join, I hope you are cautious. The drug companies don’t give National NAMI all that money for nothing.

    Still, though, I think you might meet some like-minded people there, and help move the organization in the right direction. An enlightened NAMI, free from the drug companies, could be a great force for good.

  • I think this is a great article in many ways, and I always appreciate Sera’s thoughtfulness. Yet I feel a bit confused. Who are the audience for these ideas? Sharpening our own (movement) thinking is always a good thing. Talking to “mental health” workers/professionals can have some effect on a small number of people. We definitely need these well worked out arguments, but if we really want to change things, I don’t see how much will change if we don’t reach the general public. And for that I think we need ways of showing ordinary people just how out of control and destructive the mental illness system is, and how they, too, are threatened by it.

    So, again, I think this article is full of valuable insights and arguments, and it’s very important, but I don’t think the average person on the street would pay much attention. How can we reach those people? I don’t think much will change until we find a way to accomplish that.

  • I just love your articles, Maria. You make points that should be heard by a much bigger audience than MIA can offer.

    I’m wondering what the access to media situation is in New Zealand. You are about the same small population, more or less, as Denmark and Ireland, and I know that the movements in those two countries get the chance to address the public there. What is the situation for that in NZ?

  • I know talking about class is virtually forbidden, but as far as Harvard goes, what would you expect from an institution whose reason for existence is to train the children of the rich in elitism? If one believes that the highest good is to acquire things, and if those things are more important than people, of course Harvard is just fine with any practices that lead to money and power.

    I’m hardly a religious person, but I’ve recently been really impressed with the writings of Pope Francis about the anti-human effects of materialism. Things become more important than people, and then people become things as well, objects to be possessed and used, instead of fellow human beings to be respected and cared for.

    And this is the ethos of psychiatry.

  • larmac, I have heard your heartbreaking story before. I think you and I even had a brief conversation about it. And yes, it is true that right now, there is almost no helpful place available for ANYONE who is in emotional distress.

    After my own childhood spent in a state hospital, many years later I found myself in a Soteria-like place in Canada where I was allowed to go through my emotional crisis without drugs or any kind of coercion. It helped me tremendously, so I know first hand how much places like Soteria are needed.

    I really want to encourage you to get involved, if you aren’t already, with the people who are fighting for places like Soteria and respite centers to be established. And this will sound strange to people who know me, but have you considered getting involved with NAMI? I am one of their strongest critics, but it is also true that lately there has been ferment within NAMI’s ranks, as its members start to realize they have been lied to about the drugs and other standard “treatments.” You have seen first hand what the standard treatments are like, and you can raise the issue well. Surely someone like you, who lost your son because of psychiatry, has to be listened to respectfully within NAMI’s ranks.

    I don’t know what state you live in, but I hope our paths cross in the future, because definitely we are trying to go in the same direction.

  • I hope Laysha isn’t referring to my particular post. I had mixed feelings when I wrote it, since (1) I know that she and Nev have organized a really helpful group for grad students with psych histories that several of my friends have joined and have found lots of support from, and (2) the basic idea of this invitation I think is a very good one.

    But I really do have a big problem with academic language and its pretentiouness. Nobody has to write like that.

    So I certainly didn’t intend what I wrote to be a personal attack, as I respect both of the people who came out with this invitation. It’s the dishonesty of academia I was criticising, not you.

  • I agree about preaching to the choir, but I really don’t believe that changing the minds of a few psychiatrists is going to make a lot of difference in what psychiatry does. It’s the general public we should be talking to. Not just to each other, yes, but not just within this little bubble of the mental illness system either.

    AS far as Gotsche calling the practices of drug companies “organized crime,” is that really much different from what the banks and other financial institutions have done? I think polls have shown that the public thinks more should be done, or at least SOMETHING should be done, to see to it that the fraud and other criminal behavior of the people running these institutions should be punished. And drug companies rank very low in public opinion right now.

    So I don’t think Dr.Gotsche is saying anything that the public won’t listen to. The problem is that few people are willing to speak out so directly. (How well I know this problem for myself.) And also, of course, the corporate media are not going to allow any discussion of real changes in our political system reach too many people.

    I frankly don’t care very much about what psychiatrists think, because no matter how decent they are, real change is not going to come from them. Things will only change when the public as a whole realizes that the psychiatric emperor has no clothes.

  • I think I may have been a little too strong in my comments. I sounded as if I was dismissing the basic idea of the post. I think the basic idea is fine. I know that at least one of the writers is a psych survivor herself, and that she is one of the organizers of a support group for psych survivors who are in grad school and dealing with the bigotry we all have to deal with when we are out of the closet. Several people that I know are or have been in this group, and they tell me it really gave them a lot of support that they needed.

    But just the same, this kind of pretentious academic writing just bugs the sh– out of me. I think folks in the academic environment who are not yet established think they are supposed to write this way.

    I am not at all intimidated by such stuff, because frankly this writing style, to me, is just a way to cover up the fact that the writer has nothing much worth saying. This stuff is really very poor English, but unfortunately part of the academic culture.

    When I have something to say, I can usually make myself very clear. Why can’t they?

    I’m sorry if this seems like an attack on the people who wrote this proposal, which I think is a very good idea. But really, I think you don’t have to follow this kind of ridiculous academic tradition. Sorry. I feel a bit guilty, even.

    And after all this, and I will sound as if I am contradicting myself, I encourage people to write something for this project because it seems very worthwhile.

  • Wow. I am very resistant to watching internet videos of more than a few minutes, but I am really glad I watched this. What an admirable man to speak out so directly!

    And he is probably putting his life in danger as well. I mean that quite literally.

    I have to get hold of that book. Can’t afford to buy it, and no local library has it. Looks as if it was published in the UK, maybe that’s why I can’t find it here.

  • Francesca, although I am sure this comment will make you angry, my conscience tells me I really have to say something here. Tina’s page about abolishing forced psychiatry was set up for that purpose. It is true that hearing differing views is important. But if you want to argue against the purpose of that group, you should not be in it.

    Likewise, you expressed anger at being asked to leave the “Psychiatric Survivors” Facebook group. I am very familiar with this group, as I only recently joined it. It mostly consists of people who are struggling to get off psych drugs. Although my experience with psychiatry was horrible (shock at age six, the rest of my childhood in a state hospital) I was lucky to not get the drugs because they didn’t exist yet. I am really upset to read of the agony that people who are trying to get off these drugs have to experience, and among the WORST of these drugs are the benzos.

    Like you, I have occasionally used these drugs myself, and I think in very small doses at very rare times, they can be helpful, at least to me. But there are people in that group who are in agony every day, trying not to cave in to going back on benzos. I would be doing a great disservice to them if I said anything that might lead to their caving in and going back on them.

    But most importantly, that group, and Tina’s group, were set up to accomplish certain purposes. If you don’t agree with those purposes, you shouldn’t have joined them. Joining a group and then arguing about whether its purpose is correct and relevant, no matter how reasonable your position might seem to you, to me just seems disruptive. I wouldn’t do it, and I don’t think anyone should.

  • My native language is English, so I’m sure I am missing a lot. My Phi Beta Kappa key and various degrees never trained me to understand academic language, which really isn’t designed to be understood by ordinary people anyway. However, I am not among the people who think that if they can’t understand something, it must be “deep.”

    Having gotten that off my mind, as best as I can tell this sounds like a good idea. Any enterprise that includes people with experience as psychiatric survivors probably should be supported. Although I have some thoughts on the subject, I don’t plan to submit any article, as I can’t and won’t write in the pretentious and incomprehensible jargon used in the academic world. I think if people have something to say, they can say it in ordinary and clear language. And if they don’t have much to say, they will cover it up with lots of important-sounding words.

  • Francesca, I haven’t seen that Facebook page, but I do remember your saying that, for yourself, you felt that at a certain point in your life, you were glad that you were made to take psych drugs, even though at the time, you didn’t want them.

    But you also said that in B.C, where you are, advance directives, or whatever they are called there, are not honored for psychiatric inmates.

    It seems to me that the solution for someone like you is to have an advance directive that you WANT involuntary drugging under certain circumstances. To me, this would still be voluntary, because it would be a choice you make when you are competent to make that choice. You are not the first person I have met who would not force drugs on others, but would want them yourself at times.

    Honoring those psychiatric advance directives would solve this problem for everyone.

  • This is one of those discussions that always frustrates me. Yes, what Maria describes in this article is horrible. As someone who had my entire childhood taken away by psychiatry, I am especially disturbed by what I read here.

    But I’m also very disturbed, and certainly Mad in America is not unique in this way, by the lack of real discussion of what we can do to stop this.

    We should realize that even the general public is not so “spellbound” (Peter Breggin’s term) about psychiatry that they would shrug off stories like this. Our movement has almost completely stopped the kinds of actions that all other movements for liberation used in the last half-century to get their freedom.

    This doctor would be a great target for demonstrations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, all the actions that strong movements of oppressed people have always used to get freedom and respect.

    The public responds much more positively when the victims of oppression are children. A campaign focused on one or two people like Biederman and Carlson would succeed in reaching the public. Just talking to each other won’t do anything, until we leave our bubble and start reaching out to the public. Preaching to the choir does not make converts.

  • Lately I am hearing more and more of these stories, and this story moves me too, even though it sounds as if this person managed better than most to avoid the worst of it.

    Although my own experience with psychiatry was quite horrible (a label of schizophrenia and shock treatment at age six, the rest of my childhood spent in a state hospital), I consider myself lucky not to have been drugged (only because the drugs did not yet exist when I was incarcerated). But the most horrible psych drug stories to me are from other children who were started early. It is routine for young girls to have their endocrine and reproductive systems seriously damaged, and of course psychiatry has nothing to say about this.

    How many millions of people will have their lives ruined before our society puts a stop to this?

  • I think having someone as well-known as Sinead O’Connor, and with the access to the media that she has, saying what she is saying, is very helpful to our cause. Just connecting “mental health” with “human rights” is revolutionary in the climate we face right now.

    Before SAMHSA took over most of our movement, what O’Connor said would not be that remarkable, but now, even small crumbs of resistance reported in the mass media are desperately needed.

  • Hey Francesca, it sounds as if you have some good things going on in B.C. I guess over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of support from people in the movement too. That’s when there was a lot going on locally. But in my social media (aka Facebook) contacts with people, I’ve experienced a lot of, at the least, inconsiderateness and at worst, outright trashing. When you are just words on a computer screen, people forget you are a real person and act like they are playing a video game, the kind where you wipe out all the other side with advanced weapons. It’s so fun to kill people…

    As for my psychiatric experience strengthening me, I don’t know. But I’ve always suspected that if I hadn’t had that experience, I would have become a smug, “successful” person that who I am now would not respect. Certainly I’ve learned to think for myself and not just think like everyone around me. If I had done that in Rockland State Hospital as a child, I would never have survived. But thinking for oneself isn’t valued much in our culture and can isolate you.

    Well, as I wrote earlier on this page that calls for a whole book. And THAT book I am trying to write now.

    I still would love to visit you and your group in Vancouver/Victoria and I hope that can happen in the near future.

  • Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I do think the two locations you mentioned, which I know fairly well, do have a kind of culture of their own.

    But I mainly want to take this opportunity to say, Bruce, that I really appreciate your articles, here, on the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. It’s not just that you appreciate the nature of the abuses of psychiatry, but I admire the way you connect psychiatry with the rest of American culture. I think this is very important. Some of the worst parts of psychiatric ideology have corrupted our culture in a very dangerous way, like parents thinking it’s OK to drug their children, or to drug themselves instead of dealing with their life circumstances.

    So children become things to be manipulated, possessions to be shown off, instead of small human beings who need love and nurturing. And pill-popping adults become numbed-out consumers, profiting the drug and other corporations while losing their own souls, as the Bible has it. (“What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”)

    Unfortunately, psychiatry didn’t create this focus on materialism, but it encourages it, as do the corporations who own the psychiatric profession.

    Well…this needs a whole book,and someone should write it.

  • I think it is not true that we psych survivors have a culture of our own, though I suppose it can be said of those who use the identity of “survivor.” But this is a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of people in this country who have been inmates of psychiatric wards.

    I suppose I have to say where this number comes from. In 1982, during the campaign in Berkeley to ban shock treatment here, the NIMH said that seven million people in the US had experienced shock treatment, and 30 million had been admitted to psychiatric facilities (how I hate that word). I trusted that 30 million figure, though, because it would have been more in the interest of the NIMH to claim a very small number.

    Since then, over thirty years, I think it’s a fair estimate that half these people have died. However, there seems to be general agreement that there are about two million admissions to psych facilities every year. In my experience as a patients rights advocate in California, about half of the admissions were of people who had been locked up before, while the other half were people who had never seen the inside of a psych ward up till then. But I don’t know how typical California is, so being conservative and estimating only one in four is a newly-minted mental case means there are about a half-million new “mental patients” created every year. Thus, the total figure is probably still about thirty million, one-tenth of the US population.

    Unfortunately, almost all of them are in the closet. Who would want such an identity? What would be gained by coming out?

    Over the years, I have had a fair amount of people like this come out to me, and all of them said they didn’t want to discuss their experience since it was so distressing. Those who were public figures, like politicians, virtually swore me to secrecy.

    Our human rights movement has a potentially huge constituency, but we haven’t reached out to them in any effective way. They don’t want jobs in the mental illness system, which is what SAMHSA offers. Too bad we don’t have the fun culture that Bruce thinks we have. No,for the most part we are not very nice to each other, so why should these “normal survivors” want to join us?

  • This is similar to the response of Doctor Bender, the one who gave me shock at the age of six. When the children who were shocked obviously were emotionally damaged, she said that this was a good thing, as now their underlying disease had come to the surface and could be treated more easily. I think, Francesca, that you really are bringing up an important point.

    But didn’t Bob W bring this out in the case of children, that a lot of the newly diagnosed “bipolar” children had their brains’ regulatory mechanisms damaged by their earlier drugging. It would be good if Bob would chime in here, because he is so familiar with this stuff.

  • for what it’s worth, I spent a while in a place that somewhat resembled Kingsley Hall or Soteria House, though it wasn’t modeled after either. It was set up by a non-credentialed therapist in Vancouver after his sister got committed to the local psych ward. The Vancouver Emotional Emergency Center was funded by Canadian anti-poverty money, so it didn’t have to be like a standard mental illness facility. People could just be as upset as they needed to be, and were protected and given emotional support, not drugs.

    It was very helpful for me. While there, I emotionally relived some of what had happened to me in my childhood, and even though I had always known intellectually what the causes of my emotional problems had been, this way I came to understand them emotionally. And getting emotional support and nurturing while reliving my childhood, which had little of that, was very healing.

    BUT there certainly were rules. If people were really disruptive and threatening, they were not encouraged to stay. It is important to keep in mind that while those who worked there were prepared for that sort of behavior, people like me in a very vulnerable phase of their lives should not be expected to be able to cope with too much scary behavior from others.

  • I sure hope Bob’s response to one of Denmark’s leading psychiatrists gets picked up by the Danish media. And unlike what would happen here in the US, I think it will.

    This chapter in the controversy is going to illustrate what I said earlier, that whenever our side and that of the psychiatric establishment are presented together, our side always looks better. Imagine the Danish newspaper reader comparing Bob’s clear and well-thought-out letter to Doctor Videbech’s semi-deranged rant.

    I love it, I just love it! Go Denmark! lol

  • Ah, once again we see how psychiatry shot itself in the foot when it came out with DSM-5. It is hard for anyone with the semblance of an open mind to believe in the dangerous garbage in the latest DSM. People in our movement should never stop talking about this. Lately, I have been around a group of people who are rather conservative. But when I have shown them that they too can be labeled as “mentally ill,” they are appalled.

    And once ordinary people realize that they too can be victimized by psychiatry, we have a way of reaching them that we didn’t have before.

  • How exciting! I think this strong response to Bob’s visit to Denmark by the psychiatric establishment is a good thing. Here in America, with our 320 million people, the media ignore us. But in a small (and democratic) country like Denmark, psychiatrists like this one are just setting up an exciting controversy which your mass media are sure to want to cover. What excitement! What extremism! Covering it will sell lots of newspapers and bring out more viewers of television programs.

    And since (in my experience) every time our views and the totally fraudulent claims of the psychiatric establishment appear together, our views always look better to the readers and viewers. Most people, when given a chance, can tell the difference between lies and truth. We have the truth, and even though I am not known as an optimist, I think the truth will eventually prevail.

    So congratulations to our Danish comrades, and I wish I could be there to participate in your fight.

    Go Denmark! I better stop, or I am going to run out of exclamation points, lol.

  • I can see that this article has a lot of important information to impart. But I have a lot of difficulty following it, and I am pretty well-informed about these issues. It would be helpful to write it in a way that people could follow who are not not as totally immersed in the issues as the authors.

  • How well I know the feeling of not being worthy of telling my story. Now that I am working seriously on my autobiography, with a fair chance of being published, I still feel that. It’s the standard self-image that psychiatry gives people that they’ve caught.

  • Francesca, I’m a lawyer, and the answer to both questions is, yes, it would be ethical, but your client would have to agree to it. And it would not be ethical to pressure your client to agree.

    But the non-disclosure agreements, as you know, are a routine part of these settlements, and a client wants the money, and probably even more, the closure of having everything resolved. (Although money doesn’t bring your child back to life or heal the damage to your own body.)

    So I guess the real answer is that the client would have to want to do this in the first place. Legal ethics are not implicated if the client comes to you and asks to do this. But I think the lawyer would have an obligation to the prospective client to point out that the drug company would be very reluctant to settle out of court under these circumstances and that taking a case to trial is much more of a risk than accepting a settlement. Trials are always a gamble, no matter how good your case is. Plus a drug company, if forced to go to trial, has lots of money and high-powered lawyers to throw into the fight. They know how much they have to lose.

  • I think this is an important development, although I certainly agree that these people shuld go to jail. I don’t know of any case where prosecutors cut right to the chase and talked about fraud of this kind. Of course, what Pfizer did is exactly what all the drug companies do, organized lying.

    With this and Jim Gottstein’s current lawsuit around Medicaid fraud, some headway might be being made against all these outrageous practices.

  • Wow. Once again an excellent MIA article that spells out in detail what we already knew in general. Yet another set of facts I will file in my mind to bring up at the right time. Thanks for this article.

    It’s stuff like this from academics that really makes a good difference, but academic articles along the lines of “how many psychiatrists can dance on the head of a pin?” are not useful, to say the least.

    Thanks again.

  • I think the “recovery movement” leaders ought to offer more than vague generalities about what they propose to do about this. Will you get a SAMHSA grant to train “peers” to do outreach to our people so that they too will have ID cards? If this development progresses to implanted RFID chips, such as are used with dogs so they won’t get lost, what will your response be? A grant for a program to train “peers” in how to do the implants? It will give them a nice fancy title, maybe “professional implanters.”

    All this is happening because our movement has stopped talking to the general public and only relates to the mental illness system. That’s fine for the tiny group of people who benefit from that, but a disaster for the rest of us.

  • This is pretty scary, all right. It’s obviously a step on the way to implants or tattoos, so that anyone who’s ever been locked up can be kept in line forever.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Michael.

    If our movement continues to be just part of the mental illness system, we are going to see more and more of this. What are people waiting for?

    We have to disown the people who have turned us into SAMHSA. Otherwise, where does this end? With the police breaking down our doors and hauling us away?

  • You are so funny. is there really a possibility of a job with your group in Ireland? I was there early in 2011, visiting Jim and Mary Maddock in Cork. They are wonderful people doing great work. Although Irish laws about “mental health” need a lot of change, the movement there is very active and has made great strides in reaching the public. While there, I sort of fell in love with Ireland as well.

    I suppose you are joking about a job…sigh. But if you do come to America to set up a branch of your group, I am near San Francisco and I would love to help you set up whatever you have in mind. Come to the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s both a great place to visit and to live.

    I hope you’re serious about this.

    PS I will make trouble even if you don’t pay me. It’s my main job in life.

  • Another really fine article. I AM a lawyer, and I think the legal issues brought up here are well thought out.

    I am just in awe of the variety of the articles that you write, from humor, to passion and emotion, to sober intellectual analysis. Hey, would you like to move to America and work with us here? We need people like you.

    I think the answer to the question of why psychiatrists are not prosecuted for the same behavior that sent even judges to prison here in the United States is that psychiatry is a sort of secular religion. It would be like trying to send the pope to prison.

    Anyway, thanks for this article, and I’ll file it in my head as a great argument to be used at the right time.

  • Thanks for this article, Jay. I’m going to keep this in my mental file, to be used in any future discussion about the DSM 5.

    I just love DSM 5, and the ammunition it gives those of us fighting psychiatry’s abuses. I think we should never stop talking about it. I have a rather conservative but open-minded friend, and when I tell her about some of the DSM diagnostic categories, she is shocked to learn she has about three or four “mental disorders.” We should keep bringing this up to the general public nonstop. People should realize that they too are vulnerable to this nonsense, and how dangerous it is for EVERYONE.

  • Wow, Olga, I am really impressed with what you people are doing in Denmark. I especially appreciated what you said about “We chose not to try and ‘convert’ psychiatry or make them more ‘aware’ we went for the public.” I think our movement MUST do this. It is nonsense to think that psychiatry will “reform” itself if only we tell them how much we are suffering. Nothing will change until we take away their power. And the way to do that is to talk to the general public and make them see what is wrong. That is to me the only way to get change in democratic countries like Denmark or the United States.

    I want to invite you to a project we are doing here in the US that will lead to the kind of public outreach you have discussed here. I will write you privately.

  • Maria, the last few things you wrote, making fun of psychiatrists, really made me laugh. This article made me cry.

    You are a good writer, and obviously a good human being. I love your honest expression of what you feel. I hope our paths cross in person some day.

  • It’s very inspiring for me me to read about the movement of our Mexican brothers and sisters for their human rights.

    Too bad the Times doesn’t report sympathetically like that on our movement.

    Maybe that’s because we don’t have a human rights movement to fight psychiatric abuse here.

    Isn’t it time we have one?

  • Will’s suggestions sound good, but I have to say that for myself, being attacked for what seems like no reason just puts me in a state of panic. It often comes from people I considered were my friends. Coming from people I don’t respect anyway, it is just a minor annoyance. (And of course, it would be an honor to be attacked by certain people, like E. Fuller Torrey.)

    It doesn’t bother me that much when people criticize or disagree with me, as long as it is done in a spirit of respect. I often change my own beliefs and perspectives based on this kind of interaction. I may be just plain wrong, or I may not have adequately thought through my position.

    What usually sets me off are attacks based on jealousy. This is a lot more common than people might think, and I also believe that usually, the people making such attacks don’t realize their own motivation. But it feels terrible when I have accomplished something, or when I am playing a big role in trying to accomplish something for our movement, and I get attacked for it.

    I’ve felt jealous of people too sometimes, where I think that I too should have gotten some recognition or credit that the other person got. I try to praise the other person, but I don’t always succeed in being so saintly. (I have been this way for many years, ever since my application for sainthood was rejected.)

  • Criminal prosecutions, yes. While I consider giving drugs to small children long-term to be criminal, it would be hard t get prosecutors to act on that. But there are certain behaviors of psychiatrists, such as the drugging to death of four-year-old Rebecca Riley several years ago, that clearly reach the level of criminality. In that case, the authorities refused to prosecute the doctor who did it, and instead blamed it in the parents, who gave the child the drugs that the doctor prescribed. Jury members after the trial protested that it was the doctor who should have been prosecuted, and I think the public agreed.

    It is egregious cases like this where our movement should have been calling for a criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, no one in our movement in the Boston area said a word, and we lost a great opportunity to educate the public. I hope the next time something like this happens, there will be groups in place that are not taking money from the mental illness system to defend it, and we will be prepared to raise the consciousness of the public. After all, with the DSM now calling almost all emotions “mental illness,” everyone is in danger, not just the mental cases like me.

  • Wow, Bob’s book has been translated into Danish? Awesome. And “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime?” What a marvelous title. Does anyone know if it available here in the United States?

    You may or may not think so, Olga, but I think there is a great advantage in being in a smaller country if you are trying to get the public to pay attention to our situation. I had the pleasure of visiting Jim and Mary Maddock a couple of years ago in Ireland, and I saw how they were able to reach the public there in ways we here in America can’t. As a result of their hard work, they are constantly on the radio, TV, and newspapers there. Denmark and Ireland are about the same population, and I wish I could live in either place and work in the movements there.

  • “Missing heritability” (meaning “we haven’t found anything”)…What utter garbage. But not a joke to me, because I was locked up, shocked, and tortured my whole childhood because my mom was “schizophrenic,” and so I was said to have inherited the “disease” from her. Very easy to “prove” that, as all they had to do was give me that label.

    Thank you so much for your important work, Jay.

  • Richard, once again I see you as someone with the same goals and dreams as I have. Will you please contact me through MIA? I don’t want to post my email address here, because when I did that in the past, I got a lot of unwanted contacts.

    I want to work with you on a project I am trying to start, one which I think will definitely interest you. Please get in touch.

  • I appreciate the forthrightness and thoughtfulness of Dr. Thomas’ review. I hope your position in your profession is solid enough that you don’t get drummed out of it. Remember, when Loren Mosher, my model of the kind of person a psychiatrist should be, established the original Soteria House, and insisted that people with severe emotional distress could heal through emotional support, not primarily drugs (which are the antithesis of healing anyway), he was driven out of his position in the National Institute of Mental Health.

    Maybe things are better in the UK. You’re a more civilized country after all.

  • Well, it’s fine by me if there are mental health professionals on the right side still working in the system. But Faith concedes that as a “peer” worker in the system, she has basically been told that she doesn’t have to work there if she doesn’t want to, meaning in fewer words, shut up or we will fire you.

    Mental health professionals like Yana, having more credentials, of course have more leeway, plus her county mental “health” system is more liberal than most. But there is a limit beyond which she can’t go either.

    (I should say here that I know both of these people personally.)

    The problem I see about working from the inside, and these “dialogues”, which I am not against, is that they do nothing to change the beliefs that the general public has, about such things as “are schizophrenics really human?” which is one of the questions of the day in American culture, thanks to people like E. Fuller Torrey.

    Keeping the discussions of these issues entirely within the tiny (and rather weird) world of the mental “health” system assures that nothing changes in the larger society.

    And if the witch hunts and Nazi-like attacks on people with psychiatric labels continue the way they are, even people like Yana, with her fairly secure job, might find that being humane and kind to her clients might lead to being fired or worse.

    If we don’t attend to changing the minds of the public, if we don’t get out of the little bubble of the mental “health” world, we are going to wake up and find a lot of us, especially survivors like me but kind mental “health” professionals too, in a grim situation.

    Torrey is not a clown. Politicians and the media are listening to him. We all know what he wants, and he will get his way if we don’t fight back. We need to pay attention to the outside world.

  • Maria, you’re a riot! This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    I write satires, which unfortunately, MIA won’t publish because people tend to believe them. I would love to share with you one of my favorites, which I wrote for the New York Times (sort of). It is “Washington in Turmoil as Psychiatric Group Discloses 300 Million Americans Are Mentally Ill.” With the DSM 5 running wild, I’m sure you can see why many people in our circles believed it. I would love to get your take on it, so please let me know how to get it to you. My email is [email protected].

  • Yeah, I’m not sure what they would do either if it was our side arguing for something better than Donaldson. However, it is much more likely that it would be a NAMI/Torrey kind of case. Those people are pretty clear that they want absolute power over who will be free and who will be locked up. I just don’t know how it would play out, although I agree with the conservative case that establishment liberals support the government interfering with the lives of ordinary citizens. I and cannotsay had that discussion above.

  • If only we could create the communities you talk about. I know when I got out of Rockland State Hospital at age seventeen, I had no friends, and I didn’t have the social skills to find any. All that was available was some system-run day center, and even though I was desperately lonely, the atmosphere was so condescending, so destructive of my self-esteem, that I decided it was better to stay away.

    Some “peer”-run programs are helpful, but there are too many that just reproduce the same atmosphere as the institutions.

  • There are a lot of things that need to be said here. Yeah, we had a conference that we controlled, and when SAMHSA/NIMH started funding this, ours was wiped out. One of the main people who got NIMH to fund this monstrosity came to our last conference in Vermont and deliberately disrupted a large number of our workshops, thus completely demoralizing the activists we used to have.

    Before the first “Alternatives” conference, our movement was thriving. Dozens of groups throughout the country were confronting the psychiatric system, and because of that visibility, we were reaching the general public. This was reflected in the access we had to the mass media. I myself probably was on national television fifteen or twenty times, and this was also true of Judi Chamberlin, Janet Gotkin, and a number of other people. I don’t say this to boast, but to point out that we were in the public eye. We were even able to get the voters in one city to ban shock treatment, and because we were visibly fighting for our rights, the media paid attention.

    In a democratic society, if we want to change things, we have to change the way the public thinks of our issues. That’s why media exposure is so important. Now E. Fuller Torrey appears on network TV with his message of hate, and our side is completely ignored.

    Since SAMHSA/NIMH has taken over our movement, forty-four states have passed laws allowing people to be forced to take drugs on the grounds of “need for treatment.” How is this progress?

    And now, there will soon be a national database of everyone who has ever been committed to a psych ward. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out the ways it could be used against us. As Tina Minkowitz and I have pointed out on MIA, this database was actually SUPPORTED by one of the system-funded groups that claims to be our leaders.

    This is outrageous. Putting on a circus is not advancing the cause of our movement. One big problem here, of course, is that there are few people left who remember what our movement was like before it was taken over by the federal mental illness system. But at least everyone ought to be able to see what other movements like ours, started at about the same time, have accomplished. Gays, women, disabled people, African-Americans, all know there is a movement for them. No television network would dare put on a program where their interests were attacked without even having a representative of their group.

    Don’t be fooled, people. When you attend this conference, you are cooperating in your own oppression. We need a movement that is controlled by us, not the mental illness system that has abused us and ruined our lives. We should disown this fraud, and become a real liberation movement once again.

  • I do resonate, Dragonfly, with your annoyance that a lot of people in this movement somehow seem to think they have to sound “moderate,” otherwise no one will take them seriously. The trouble with this is that if you just tell people whatever they already believe, they will never change. What is the point of that? Our movement is so isolated and unknown already. We aren’t here to be respectable. We’re here to change minds.

    Having said that, I’ll sort of contradict myself here. I guess my position on psych drugs is kind of like Bob Whitaker’s. Short term, they have some advantages. Long term, they are very destructive. Forced on people, they are an atrocity.

    As a patients’ rights advocate, doing many commitment hearings, I often saw people who didn’t have a chance to win their hearing the next day. With their permission, I would postpone the hearing for three days. When I talked to them again three days later, they often could talk sense and I could help them win their hearing. Of course, it would be much better if we had places like Soteria House, so people could go through their freakout without drugs and come out the other side a more together person. But we don’t have that yet. We have to fight for it, and in the meanwhile, at least the damn drugs help people get out of the psychiatric prisons.

    I agree too that people who continue to take the drugs more or less (mostly less) voluntarily shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it. They feel bad enough about themselves already.

  • Matt, thank you for this powerful and vivid article. While I’ve surely been abused by psychiatry, who took my entire childhood, I never had to take the drugs, because my incarceration and torture were so long ago. So in some ways I don’t understand the experience of the typical survivor. You’ve made it very real for me.

  • Well, we don’t have much to “infiltrate,”in the sense of already having strong militant organizations where people can come in and move us in the wrong directions. What has happened, though, is that we have “consumer” organizations that are funded by the system. And I agree, this “peer” bullshit has been very destructive. But I haven’t heard of any group here that anyone takes seriously getting money from the drug companies. It sickens me to hear from John that that has happened in the UK.

  • Of course, films like this are very valuable, and I’m glad you guys are making them. I can’t help out because my psychiatric incarceration was so long ago that the drugs did not exist yet. I am close in politics with the people I know in your group, and I strongly support what you are doing.

    But I’m disappointed that you will be interacting with the so-called Alternatives conference with your film. As I’m sure all of you know, SAMHSA tried to ban Bob Whitaker a couple of years ago from the conference because any discussion of the truth about psych drugs is not something they will fund.

    I am distressed that people who know better continue to attend the “Alternatives” conference and thus legitimize it. This conference was explicitly set up for the purpose of destroying the previous national conferences that we, not the mental illness system, controlled. It is not harmless to attend it. If those who really believe, like us, that we have to fight for our human rights stopped going to this fraud, it would make it a lot easier for our movement to go in the right direction. We can’t make progress if we accept SAMHSA’s concept that we are just a little powerless wrinkle in the mental illness system.

    Going back to the attempted ban on Bob Whitaker, it shouldn’t be lost on you that SAMHSA backed down when a large number of people threatened to boycott the conference. SAMHSA depends on the appearance of legitimacy here. Without that, there would be flak for them that would be very costly to their “enlightened” image.

    People who want us to be a human rights movement again should not be attending the SAMHSA conference.

  • What? Doctors can’t be sued in New Zealand? I thought NZ was a civilized country. Here in the United States, it has become more and more difficult to sue doctors, but I haven’t heard of anything like what you just said. AS a lawyer, I find this incredible…and sickening.

  • In another legal case. Tarasoff vs. Regents of the University of California, the CA Supreme Court held that if a therapist’s client made specific and believable threats to kill a particular person, the therapist had a duty to warn the potential victim. During the litigation, the American Psychiatric Association filed an amicus brief, saying in no uncertain terms that psychiatrists had absolutely no ability to predict dangerousness and should never be held liable for anything like the Tarasoff situation.

    I think everyone should be familiar with this, as we can use their own words against them.

  • Oh man…you’re really good at nailing these people, aren’t you? You’re a woman after my own heart.

    In the last article by you that I read, you talked about “restraint asphyxia” as a natural cause of death. Using ordinary language, this would be seen as murdering someone. But thanks to the wonders of “scientific” jargon, it’s perfectly OK.

    I like to write satires, but you do me one better. You actually nail them with their own words. My satires are close to the truth. Your satires ARE the truth.

    Keep up the good work!

  • I agree that Donaldson should not be looked at as he last and best word. But it is certainly better than what went before, and what Torrey and his cronies want to revive.

    And I certainly agree to that we need better links among the groups that you and I work in who are really trying to do r thoughtful comments, which I wish I had enough time to respond to more fully. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I mentioned several times in this article other articles that you have written on MIA. WE are in close agreement on a lot of these issues, so perhaps we might collaborate on a joint article. We should probably get in contact to talk about this.

    With great respect for your work,

    Ted

  • Well, one thing you mention that is really important is that, yes, 25 or 30 years ago we had much more visibility and influence with the general public. Now we are invisible and shut out of the media.

    Most of the places you mention are parts of the mental health system. These are the institutions that hurt us. They aren’t going to change until we can take their power away. By focusing on talking to them, we are accepting that they will retain this power. In a democratic society, the way to make change is to change the opinions of ordinary people, not beg the abusers to stop hurting us so much.

    Bob Whitaker’s work is important, and I think it’s fine to change the minds of a few mental illness professionals, but by and large, his message isn’t reaching the general public.

    I agree that the inroads we have made with the UN are very important, thanks to the work of Tina Minkowitz, Celia Brown, and others.

    What scares me the most, though, is the move toward this database, and the changes in state laws we have seen already that make it easier to force drugs on people. Torrey’s ranting claim that it is impossible to lock up the people he wants to lock up (all of us) isn’t just held by him. It is held, for example, by the people who gave him his latest forum, and laws are already being drafted to make it much easier to commit people.

    I didn’t want to make it sound so hopeless that it would discourage people, Just the opposite, I think we need to face what is going on and fight all the harder to stop it.

  • Such a true article, Micheal. Yeah, our culture is very alienating and people are taught to be afraid of emotion. It’s a strong trend in our culture already, so no wonder so many people think numbing themselves out with drugs is the way to go. Too bad that the average psychiatrist is so terrified of motion himself. What a mess.

  • That suggestion, about a bunch of people announcing they were going to get off their drugs, sounds as if it could provoke some very interesting reactions. If you were public enough and got enough attention, the average psychiatrist would foam at the mouth.

    What I really like is that it is almost civil disobedience (that’s how the shrinks would see it) yet of course you would be breaking no law. If done right, I think you would do a lot towards educating the public about the role of drugs and the complete disrespect the system exposes us to. Are there people you could work with where you are? If you like you can contact me through MIA and we could discuss this.

  • As I mentioned to you on Facebook, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with Laura and the other MIA editors/activists. Let her know what you are available for. I’m sure she would be very happy to hear from you. You can write her directly through this website. I suspect there are a fair number of people in the Boston area who want to do something, and surely there are plenty of targets around there. Think Doctor Biederman, for one. He is so vicious and evil, he would make the perfect poster boy for his profession.

    To contact Laura, go to the home page, and on the upper right corner, click on where it says “contact.” Then you can find the name of the person you want to contact and leave your message.

    There is nothing that will make you feel better about the abuse you experienced from psychiatry than to fight back against it. Getting involved with the movement certainly helped me heal from all I experienced.

  • Hey, cannotsay, thank you for your comment and your criticism too. I think your feeling about civil disobedience may be because you identify it as something left-wing. I don’t think that’s the case.

    I certainly don’t look forward to getting arrested, but nonviolent civil disobedience has a long and honorable history. When you don’t have a large number of people in your movement, as is the case with us now, it is a way to be able to bring your case to the general public in a much more effective way than writing a letter or sending out a press release (which at this point would be ignored, anyway). It certainly worked for the civil rights movement, and it worked for us when we still did it.

    I totally agree with you that there are allies on the right for our ideas. Peter Breggin, the well-known dissident psychiatrist, is one example. While I don’t agree with his conservative politics (being, yes, pretty far left myself), I have found him to be very supportive of our movement and our ideas. I remember him from way back, speaking out against psychosurgery at great risk to his career. Another conservative who has been helpful is Senator Grassley of Iowa, who has consistently criticized the abuses of the drug companies. And in general, the libertarian wing of the conservative movement ought to be on our side too, with their position that the government shouldn’t be intervening in people’s personal lives. Ron Paul was an example of this, and I am hoping his son, now a Senator, would act the same way if we worked on bringing our issues to his attention.

  • Well, the news story doesn’t indicate there was any understandable motivation for the shooting. Amphetamines (Adderall is just dextroamphetamine) make people do weird things.

    If the jury accepts that the drug caused this killing, it won’t be the first time. Given how every time there is a shooting, it is used as an excuse to take away our rights, it is important to show that these drugs cause events like this. I hope we keep watching this case.

  • I don’t know…the only times I got anything useful from therapy happened when I felt the therapist was in sync with what I wanted to do with my life, and that we had a lot of shared values.

    I was a little surprised by how this article came out. I would think in almost all situations where the “patient” is in a place involuntarily, they damn well better kiss the rear end of the doctor. It sounds as if this doctor did not retaliate. Very surprising.

  • Yes, Sharon, it makes me feel bad to read such a description of yourself. I don’t know you, but I have read a number of your comments, here and on Facebook, and you are obviously a thoughtful and intelligent person.

    How well I know that feeling…”I’m just a piece of shit,” and how well I remember repeating that to myself over and over, just as I was told about myself all through my childhood. I know it is easy for me to tell you that the more you repeat this to yourself, the worse it gets, but you CAN stop this vicious circle. You can. I was able to do it.

    I don’t know you in person, but if I could be there for you, I would stand with you while you looked at yourself in the mirror and started to encourage yourself and tell yourself that you’re a good person.

  • Isn’t Dr. Ragin the guy who SAMHSA appointed to refute Bob Whitaker at the “Alternatives” conference in Anaheim?

    This “I’m just a regular guy” article seems very strange. If I were a decent psychiatrist and I wanted people to feel positive about me, I would just write about the things I’ve done or the positions I have on issues.

  • Oh man. I didn’t see that program, but in combination with the program with Torrey the week before, what a message. Torrey says almost everyone is crazy…but then the program says people aren’t crazy enough to get disability payments. Even NAMI wouldn’t take such a position. Where is this coming from?

  • We have to go back to our roots as a human rights movement. It’s because we have departed from this that we face what we are facing now, and there is no easy way to connect with other people who want to fight back. I am thinking of reviving the Network Against Psychiatric Assault, which for many years was a powerful force in California for protecting our rights. I think at this time, we need a network, not a formally organized group with its attendant power struggles,where people can be in touch with one another. I think that would be a good and necessary first step toward rebuilding our movement.

  • In 1978, I was in the Netherlands, and became friends with one of the leaders of the Dutch “mental patients'” movement, as we called ourselves at that time. Dunya’s father had organized a strike of the dockworkers in 1942 to protest the Nazi deportation of the Dutch Jews. For this, he was tortured and killed, her mother was sent to a concentration camp where she barely survived, and Dunya, then a baby, lived with relatives in the Dutch countryside, just one step ahead of the Nazis.

    Dunya talked with me about her own experiences in a Dutch psychiatric “hospital,” which sounded pretty similar to what we have in America. She always called it “my concentration camp.” She didn’t say this lightly, as she was very familiar with the Nazi camps.

    Some people now say that we should not make this comparison, but I disagree. The only reason death camps are not being proposed is that the drug companies can’t make money from dead people.

    The spirit of what is being done to us is the same, and I commend Tina for saying this.

  • I don’t mean to oversimplify, but I think the first and most important group who should speak up for us is ourselves. The mental illness system is not going to pay us to take their power away. If we don’t defend ourselves, no one else will do it for us.

  • I couldn’t agree more with this article. We must find a way to get the public, legislators, and the media to look at the fact that in virtually every instance of mass shootings and the behavior of the poor woman in Washington, D.C., all of these people were on psychiatric drugs. How we do it though, after many years of allowing ourselves to be bought off, is a difficult question.

  • Well, it’s a little more complicated than just raising human rights issues now. The problem is that after nearly thirty years of being almost invisible, suddenly raising human rights issues now doesn’t make it. When we were a human rights movement, we were consistently protesting, out in the streets and in the media. I myself (not meant as a boast) appeared on national television fifteen or twenty times. If we had continued to do that, the media would not be ignoring us now.

    So I’m saying that we can’t expect instant results, but if we don’t fight for our rights, we will lose them. Talking just about “recovery” or “peer support,” though I don’t disagree with those ideas, will get us nowhere. I say that because anyone who has been around in our movement for a while has seen that this approach has completely failed to protect us.

  • Thank you for the praise. And yes, we need to get off our butts and actually DO something. Look at all the other movements that started at about the same time as us. They didn’t take money from the same people who were abusing them. They went into the streets and refused to back down.

  • Again, Richard, you raise a lot of worthwhile points. I do think, though, that you emphasize the importance of dissident psychiatrists too much. I am very happy to work with them, and I see a lot of value in what you call an inside-outside strategy, but in the last analysis (maybe too much analysis) the energy for the fight against oppressive institutions has to come from their victims.

    My first real political activism was in the civil rights movement. I experienced a lot of suspicion from the black people within it. I knew that I was sincere, but I understood where they were coming from, and it didn’t stop me from continuing to support their movement. Just as the civil rights movement had to be led by black people, the ones who were and are being hurt by racism, so our movement has to get its main energy from the people who have suffered most from psychiatry. This doesn’t mean that I don’t welcome support from other people. I greatly appreciate it.

    Gotta get off this damn computer now, but thank you once again for your really fine contribution to this discussion.

  • Wow. I suspect that this news story won’t get much attention from MIA readers, but I think it is very relevant to us. It shows how scientific research has been utterly corrupted, not just in psychiatry but across a wide range of fields. I thought I knew a lot about this issue, but it’s a lot worse than I thought. Meanwhile, our country spends a sixth of our GNP on health care, much of it for the various wonder drugs the Big Pharma promotes, and it’s pretty clear that a lot of this money is going down a sewer.

    Also, I have to say that I really appreciated the writer’s cleverness and sense of humor. What a beautiful job he did creating this trap for the phoney “scientific” publishers!

  • “Do I need an antipsychotic…for thinking this is going to happen…?” Yeah, you probably do. I knew the media would react this way. The same old crap. She’s on psych drugs, and the drugs make her irrational. Then the media say, “If only she had gotten the proper treatment, this wouldn’t have happened.” Of course, she already DID get what the average psychiatrist says is the proper treatment.

    Next, E. Fuller Torrey and NAMI go back on national television saying how this shows we have to be able to force drugs on everyone.

    People, I think we are in the worst crisis our movement has ever seen. There will be more and more incidents like this, feeding into the demand that anyone who is “mentally ill” must have their constitutional rights taken away. That we are not asked at all for our point of view is the result of so-called leaders taking our movement from being about human rights to being part of the mental illness system. The media, and the general public, really couldn’t care less about a “peer” or “recovery” movement. When we were about human rights, we had plenty of media coverage.

    I urge you also to read Tina Minkowitz’ new article on MIA about “blood libel,” where she points out that what is being systematically done to us now is very similar to the way the Nazis attacked the Jews, in preparation for the Holocaust. While I don’t expect death camps here, because drug companies can’t make money from dead people, what is happening now is in spirit very close to what the Nazis did.

  • I don’t think we disagree. I already wrote that of course there are a few good psychiatrists. And I agree that our main task is to take away the power of psychiatry to force unwanted “treatments” on people. (I wrote an earlier article about this on MIA if you would like to read it.)

    I do not call myself “anti-psychiatrist.” I am anti-PSYCHIATRY. I think that is considerably different. We can’t allow the people who have hurt us to define our opposition to them as being unworthy of being taken seriously. Other movements, particularly the gay movement, have done a very good job of throwing back the names they are called in a way that legitimizes them. We need to do that too.

  • This is a great article, Tina. You pull no punches, and you shouldn’t. I completely agree with your analogy to the Nazis, and to my mind the only reason we don’t see death camps is that the drug companies can’t make money from dead people.

    I am worried about the fact that this article has disappeared from the MIA front page. Do you know about this, and why?

  • This is the same old drug company promotion. As we all know, the overwhelming majority of NAMI’s funding comes from the drug companies. And even if the New York Times allowed comments, it wouldn’t mean much.

    But it occurs to me that NAMI would be a very good target for demonstrations, marches, and sit-ins by our movement. A successful demo of this type would really raise questions in the public mind. “I thought NAMI advocated for crazy people. How come they are demonstrating against it”?

    Think about it.

  • Thank you for these comments. Yes, that’s the idea, throw their words back at them. The gay movement has been especially good at this: “We’re here and we’re queer –get used to it!” Howie the Harp, one of the founders of our American movement, composed and used to perform a great song along these lines, “Crazy and Proud.” I wish I could find a recording of it. It was and is a classic. If anyone reading this knows how to find something like that, please get in touch with me.

  • I am confused by these two comments. First, I have made it clear that I don’t think all psychiatrists are evil, but I do think the profession as a whole is. And I think both of the two commenters agree with that.

    Second, I am REALLY confused how saying that I am “anti-psychiatry” is “labeling” anyone or making an “ad hominem” argument. What am I labeling them as, psychiatrists? I don’t get it.

    One makes an ad hominem argument when one makes personal attacks on the other participant in the discussion instead of responding to his or her arguments. How is being anti-psychiatry making an ad hominem argument?

    Given that I think both of you basically share the same opinion of psychiatry that I do, these comments really confuse me.

  • Richard, thanks very much for this thoughtful comment.I appreciate many of the points you raise, and I especially like your effort to think about these problems strategically. I have said, though, that I do recognize that within the profession, there are sincere allies that I definitely would like to work with. You have brought up so many important issues that a short comment from me would not be adequate. I do think our movement doesn’t consider strategy enough, and perhaps people like you and me who are concerned with strategy could get MIA to set up some kind of ongoing forum where questions of this kind could be thoroughly discussed.

  • Ron, I don’t think the average person has much of an opinion about these things. I think a lot of us lose sight of the fact that, really, both psychiatry and its critics make up a very tiny universe.

    Most people have never thought about the issues that we activists talk about so much. “Anti-psychiatry” is just plain English,and we shouldn’t let people like Torrey appropriate it and twist its meaning.

  • I really liked this article when I first read it. “Restraint asphyxia” indeed. Psychiatry warps ordinary language all the time. Notice how being against the practices of the profession is called being “anti-psychiatry,” delivered with a sneer, as if anyone who would dare to criticize the Church of Psychiatry is the next thing to a terrorist.

    Hey, I’m anti-psychiatry and proud.

  • I think people have been too easily intimidated by Torrey and his cronies. Outside of the little world of psychiatry and its discontents, the ordinary person would take the phrase to mean exactly what it says. They might not agree, as psychiatry has become a kind of religion that you criticize at your peril. But the “man (sic) on the street” would understand that being anti-psychiatry means you don’t like what the profession does.

  • It’s good to see how we can all unite around our fight against people like Torrey. In a way, I think he helps our cause.

    Hey, if we ever have a demonstration against him, we should have our cats wear a sign. Anyone who thinks cats are bad is clearly a bad person.

    Well…maybe I shouldn’t be so flippant, since, although we find him ridiculous, he just got an audience of many millions of people and our side wasn’t represented at all. This blackout by the mass media is one of the most serious problems we face.

  • I love this article. I almost could have written it myself. Yes, we have to be willing to take risks and make sacrifices if we are going to make progress. And we have a moral obligation to do that. Deron, I think you and I are kindred spirits.

  • My friend is Lauren Tenney, who is an activist in our movement from New York. Her thesis is about people who have worked in our movement, and what that has meant to their lives.

    A few years ago, I was visiting her and sat in on a meeting between her and her thesis advisor. When she was out of the room, the advisor asked me what I thought of her thesis topic, and I told him I thought it would be a wonderful and helpful document for our movement. I think she lucked out having this decent guy be in charge of her thesis. (I had finished all my course work at this school many years ago, but never went forward with the rest of the stuff I needed to complete for the degree.)

    And you know what? Lauren is going to be another “mad psychologist”! You should get to know her. She is Lauren Tenney, and she is on Facebook.

  • These things are allowed to happen because psychiatric “patients” are seen as subhuman. Abuses against other groups were allowed to go on too. It was all right to beat your slave to death because everyone “knew” that Africans weren’t really human. It isn’t incompetence or laziness here. It’s the denial of the humanity of the victims.

  • A beautifully written personal story. I don’t know if this is an appropriate (I hate that word) comment, but your English is wonderful. I see posts from you on Facebook, and I am surprised that sometimes they are in Danish. It took me a while to figure it out. Your English writing is nice and free and fluid (sometimes), which one rarely sees from someone whose native language is not English.

    Best wishes for your thesis. I just got off Facebook, exchanging messages with a friend who is still working on her thesis for a psychology Ph.D. She is in New York, at the same school and psychology department where I was a Ph.D. candidate many years ago. Is this cosmic or what?

  • Being a lawyer, the first thing that comes to my mind is, why don’t you sue these people for the wrongful death of your son? You said, I think, that this happened nineteen months ago, so even in California, where I am, you are within the statute of limitations. Plus you mention that there is a lawyer you’ve been in contact with who is suing the same set of criminals who did this to your son.

    Yes, money won’t bring back your son, and a civil lawsuit won’t put these people in prison where they belong, but you will be helping prevent other people from going through the same thing.

  • Yes, you have understood me just fine. It has taken me a while to reach an understanding for myself where alternative programs fit into my own picture of the movement. Makes me appreciate this website’s mix of ideas and how it facilitates discussion. Myself, organizing alternative programs is not my thing, but I’ve been lucky to find a couple that helped me when I needed it. The Vancouver Emotional Emergency Center in 1975 probably kept me from the psych ward. They could exist because they were funded by Canadian anti-poverty money, not the mental health system.

  • In thinking about this some more, I’m realizing the broader issue of taking mental illness system money to do alternatives needs more analysis.

    My vision of what we are ultimately working for is a system that offers real help. That means government money will be spent for programs that genuinely liberate people, not enslave them to drugs and a self-image of being less than human.

    The problem right now is that anyone who sincerely tries to do something helpful has to take money controlled by people who DON’T want to be helpful, but just extend their power. And of course the present system is happy to fund grant hustlers whose goal, which they have been pretty successful at accomplishing, is to get power and money for themselves while sabotaging our human rights movement.

    So I think those people who are sincere in trying to create alternatives should keep in mind that, unless we work at taking away the power of the present system, these true alternatives are very vulnerable to being wiped out by people with just the opposite priorities.

    We have to convince the public (because this is a democracy, sort of) that the power of psychiatry as it is practiced now has to be taken away.

    So I am saying to those who truly want to see something different that trying to create alternatives, and fighting politically against the abusive system we have now, have to go hand in hand. We have to have both, otherwise programs that start out as genuine alternatives will soon be corrupted and co-opted by the system.

    I know this might sound vague, and I am not entirely happy with what I just wrote, but I do think this issue is one that our human rights movement (yes, we still have one) ought to be discussing a lot more.

  • Wow, I like this post. And I think the first response to it was pretty pathetic, and scary too. Imagine being someone who thinks she is a “professional” because she gets a pat on the head from the folks who run the mental illness system.

    I think there are two problems here. The main one is, why on earth does anyone expect that programs funded by the mental illness system (aka SAMHSA) are really going to allow anyone to create a real system of help? n Why do people imagine that SAMHSA is going to fund projects that will take away their power? No group gives up their power without a struggle, and ESPECIALLY, no group is going to PAY you to take away their power.

    The second big problem, as I see it, is that our human rights movement has allowed itself to be redefined by a bunch of unscrupulous grant hustlers as the “recovery movement,” the Peer movement,” anything but human rights Their center is right around the corner from your organization, Sera. Don’t you think it’s time we start saying publicly that they are full of crap? They have largely created this fake “movement” that you criticize. It takes courage and the willingness to take risks to do that, but I think we should name names as well.

    A friend of yours who I greatly respect told me recently that she didn’t want to go after SAMHSA because of programs like yours and people like you who take that money but try to do good work.

    And I see from this article that you ARE trying to do good work. But if you keep talking and writing like this, you better start looking for some other source of funding soon.

    As I said earlier, no one with power is going to pay you to take away that power. Think about it.

  • This sounds shocking and moving, but I’m not sure what exactly happened. I have vaguely heard about this situation, but perhaps this was written about before and I haven’t read the earlier post.

    Being a lawyer, I always think first of lawsuits. Was one brought? Everything I read here points to a wrongful death lawsuit. The mother has legal standing to bring such a suit, and from my vague understanding of what happened, it should have been a very strong case.

  • Thank you for this enlightening and very well-written article. I’ve gone through some horrible experiences as a child myself with psychiatry, but not like yours, and haven’t dealt with it psychologically the same way you did. So you’re given me a new insight into someone else’s experience.

  • Well, I read Laysha’s first person account, and some of what she wrote tracked my experience as well, at least getting some discouragement about my education. What I think is most helpful in this paper is that there are a lot of people out there who have been convinced, deliberately, that they can never make something of themselves, that their only role in life is to shut up and take their drugs. I think Laysha’s story will encourage them. You don’t mention it here, but I know you had (and still do?) a support group for survivors who are grad students. Nothing like that existed when I was in school, certainly not when I was in a couple of psychology grad programs.

    When I was in law school, I was out of the closet, and already had even organized the Berkeley vote to ban shock treatment that had gotten national attention. Yet somehow I felt I didn’t belong there, that becoming an official “professional” wasn’t something I was supposed to do. It would have helped me a lot to be in contact with other people in the same situation.

    So good luck with this project and your lives.

    P.S. I remember well being in seclusion, solitary confinement therapy, and thinking hard about my life and what I wanted to happen. I was too young to have a clear idea of what took place in the outside world, but I did a lot of thinking, and came to some conclusions about right and wrong, and what kind of person I wanted to be when I grew up…if I ever was going to live that long. And I still believe in what I discovered when I was eight and nine years old. I was born to be a survivor.

  • I write here as someone who was given shock treatment as a child, and who has spent most of his life recovering from that and trying to take away the power of psychiatrists to do such a thing.

    I have to ask, why should the media pay any attention to us when they know our “movement,” for the most part, has been created and paid for by the system it occasionally pretends to criticize? Fifty years ago, a quarter of a million people gathered in Washington and heard, among many other inspiring speeches, Doctor King talking about his dream of equality and justice. He wasn’t taking handouts from the White Citizens’ Council. He was coming from years of making sacrifices, acting with courage, putting his life at risk. His bravery, and that of thousands of others, inspired the country and made America aware of the evil of racism in a way we had never acknowledged before.

    The civil rights movement of the Sixties was a template for the movements for liberation that came after–gays, women, disabled people, and many others, including psychiatric survivors.

    Yes, we followed that example and we had some success. But the system figured it out and offered bread and circuses, bribes and conferences, that would be controlled by people who cared about their own advancement and power and financial gain, and not the people whom they claim to represent.

    If these “leaders” really want to change anything, they should be organizing demonstrations and civil disobedience in front of shock shops, not pretending that they are so important that all they have to do is send out press releases. The media know there is nothing behind those words that are issued by groups who would instantly vanish without their funding from the system.

    Try giving up your bribes from SAMHSA, and then maybe someone will take you seriously. Right now all you represent is the system.

  • I agree that caution is needed before taking some (usually herbal) medication from another medical tradition. But it is really unfortunate that there is little or no funding to research the effectiveness and safety of these drugs (for they are drugs). Given how long they have been used, and the anecdotal evidence that at least some people benefit, it’s a great loss that we don’t have enough solid evidence about these substances.

  • You are joking, of course, but my company, GlaxoLillyNovartisJohnson, of which I am CEO, is about to put on the market a new, safe and effective medication called Stigmatrol, to treat stigma, a disease that some mental patients get. In the three-week study carried out in Guatemala and Burkina Faso that we submitted to the FDA, symptoms of stigma were reduced by almost sixty per cent, while patient mortality was only fifteen per cent. We expect most insurance companies to cover this important medication, and we hope the doctors reading this publication will consider adding Stigmatrol to their patients’ medication regimen.

  • Thank you for this very thoughtful article, Monica. I think “depression” is pretty key in the Church of Psychiatry’s theology. Of course, as you say, being unhappy sometimes is part of life. But our culture has created this requirement that everyone HAS to be happy. And most people aren’t willing to do the work of figuring what to do about what is making them u8nhappy But I’m not saying anything that most readers of MIA don’t already know. What we need to do is try to figure out how to delegitimize this false religion that is doing tremendous damage to our society.

  • It makes me so angry that even though I’ve thought I’d heard it all, this article tells me that things are even worse than I thought. Very informative, but I wish this situation didn’t exist.

    Maybe we should be pushing harder for research on getting off these psychiatric poisons. Here we have a doctor who is trying hard to help people get off these drugs, but he himself says he’s come up with little or nothing. How sad and alarming.

  • Wow, this discussion sure went a long way off from Nancy’s excellent article. I will resist the temptation to take us even further away, and just say that I think we should all resist the temptation to attack one another when we have disagreements that aren’t over important principles. I’ve certainly been guilty of that myself, but that doesn’t make it right.

    Also, I do have to say that the various discussions here have been interesting, but I wonder if the “Forums” section on MIA could be used for this. I was excited when the forums section first appeared, but it seems hardly anyone is using it. I have a few points I would like to make that I don’t think call for a whole article, but right now it seems like anything I post in the Forums would hardly be read. I wonder if there is some way to get people to use this section more.

  • Hi. I don’t remember your post or my comment, but of course I am very interested to read that you are dealing with Judi’s papers. Could we chat about this a little? You can contact me directly at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • Thanks, Kermit, and thanks for your good suggestions today and your encouragement in general.

    I was born on March 20, 1937. On my next birthday, I will be 77 (sigh). I do expect to be around for a while though.

    Good wishes for my birthday will be gratefully accepted.

  • Hey, mjk, I’m glad my story was positive for you. I was very moved by the despair you were expressing yesterday in your comments on another post. Now you know, if you hadn’t already figured it out, that I’ve been through the same thing.

  • Thanks, Matt, for this interesting (and amusing, in a way) piece about your psych drug experience. (Thanks to you also, Monica.) While I was abused really terribly by psychiatry as a child, one thing that I did NOT experience was psych drugging, because they didn’t have these wonder drugs then. I got out of Rockland State Hospital just in time, because two months after I left, everyone in that world was put on Thorazine. So I don’t know first hand the prime experience of almost everyone who’s been an
    inmate of a psych ward.

    Lucky me, eh? But anyway, it is important for me to understand the experience of most of my brothers and sisters in our movement, so thanks again for your writing.

  • Thanks, John H., for your comments. I am impressed with what I have read from you lately. I agree that to do political work, we have to support one another too. I don’t know how it is in the UK, but here in America my experience of the survivors movement is that emotional support is hard to come by. How can we put ourselves out there, as one of the most despised minorities in society, and yet not even give one another much respect?

    Also, mjk and Faith, I hope you didn’t take my story about Banda Bear as making fun of you. I just felt we had something in common, and a little lightness in discussing this grim subject of suicide can sometimes be helpful, I think.

  • I have to laugh, as I also have an ancient teddy bear, only he is FORTY-TWO years old. And I was already an adult, at least chronologically, when my first wife gave him to me soon after we were married. His name is Banda Bear, because Judi’s daughter, age three, couldn’t say “panda bear,” but only “panda pear” or “banda bear.” Banda and I have been through a lot together, both good and bad.

    So there.

  • I am glad to see yet another commenter point out that psychiatry has become a religion, and yes, nonbelievers are almost in the position a nonbeliever would have been in the Middle Ages. People believe in psychiatry’s claims even though their own experience, the evidence of their own senses, tells them otherwise. Isn’t this pretty much the definition of a delusion? And if so, doesn’t it mean that the fanatic believers in psychiatry are “mentally ill”?

  • Yes, surely people will respond positively when they are treated with care and compassion. Michael sets a good example of how mental “health” professionals should act.

    My role in the system, besides being trapped in and abused by it as a child, has been as a patients’ rights advocate and lawyer. I’ve also seen how people respond very positively when I tell them about my own experience. This has been especially true when I have represented children, who really need to have a positive example in front of them as someone who has been abused just as they are experiencing. I hope I’ve helped them see that they don’t have to give up on having a future.

    So, keep up the good work, Michael!

  • What interests me about the NAMI reaction to Bob’s talk, is not so much the reaction itself, but the fact that he was invited in the first place. I am sure the complaints about Bob are as nothing compared to the flak that the more enlightened members of the NAMI board are getting right now.

    I’m dying to know that inside story, and I’m sure someone knows it.

    I also want to say that I have changed my mind somewhat about the effectiveness of talking with NAMI. I have always known there are some sincere family members there, who drug their children because they don’t know that there are other choices. But I felt the possibilities of real change were so small that spending energy on NAMI was a waste of time.

    But I am starting to feel that it’s possible that enough people within NAMI could change to the extent that NAMI would have to change. Of course, if that point is ever reached, the drug companies who make up most of their funding will take it away. Whatever would happen after that will be very interesting.

  • I would love it if the psychiatric profession was really “in crisis,” that is, in danger of losing their power. I think it is more that psychiatry has become so used to not being challenged that when they are, even in what I see as a rather ineffective way, it throws them into a panic. If only things were as bad for them as they think they are. I think we have a long way to go

  • I was very gratified that Bob pointed out, I think quite correctly, that if the psychiatric profession continues to ignore the clear evidence of long-term damage from antipsychotics, they will have shown themselves to be unworthy of the trust and power society has given them.

    I think very few MIA readers believe that the profession is going to change its ways just because those ways have been proven to be damaging. For one thing, the financial advantages they receive from the drug companies are not something they are willing to give up.

    But even more importantly, I think, is that on the whole the basic paradigm of psychiatry over the centuries, as Bob demonstrated in “Mad in America,” is a complete disrespect for the people it supposedly serves.

    So I expect that this research will be ignored by the profession, but I think it is our job to bring it to the attention of the public. I can’t see anything changing in the basic practices of the profession until the public realizes psychiatrists are not godlike figures but (with a few exceptions) utterly corrupt people who must have their power taken away.

  • Oh, I don’t think this one discussion about moderation means that nothing else is happening. I also think it’s a healthy discussion, and to be expected in a group focused on an institution (psychiatry) that is exceptionally authoritarian. Those of us who have been on the receiving end of that institution are a very anti-authoritarian bunch in general. So of course, any policy that even vaguely resembles a limitation of our freedom gets resisted.

    I do agree, as I wrote earlier, that we need to talk more about action along with the discussion of ideas. But I don’t see any contradiction between this and what MIA is doing now. I urge the last poster not to walk away, but to stick with it and try to move things on this website in whatever direction he thinks it should go. I’ve seen changes all along, and I know that the folks who run MIA are people I respect and want to be associated with.

  • Re Chrys’s question, I’m not sure how it would work for someone outside the US, since conditions are so different in each country. I must say that my impression, though, is that in a smaller country, a small group of dedicated people can accomplish more. I was in Ireland a couple of years ago (a country about the population of Scotland), and I was amazed at the access to the media and public discussion our movement has there, thanks to the very dedicated Irish activists. I am thinking of starting SOME kind of group of activists just to focus on strategy, though, and starting out trying to develop some kind of basic statement we can all agree on. If you like, I can send you a draft of that statement once there is one, and I am sure your comments and suggestions would be very valuable. Sometime later, I hope to have a small national conference just for people who are in agreement on the general direction we should take. I agree with Richard that something like this shouldn’t be to develop abstract ideas, but guidelines for action.

  • Again, I think it is really important to talk about strategy. I’ve heard it talked about that a website like MIA, but just focused on the human rights fight around psychiatry, might be possible. Bur MIA is more than just a website, it’s an online magazine, and starting another site like MIA would be a big undertaking.

    If someone wanted to do that, I would certainly be willing to help out. Right now, given the relatively few people who are interested in strategy, something smaller would, I think, be more practical.

    Would anyone reading this be interested in participating in such a website? Or just a Google Group?

  • I definitely agree that there should be more discussion about strategy both on this site and elsewhere. As a long-time activist in this movement I feel pretty frustrated that it often seems people either just do things without thinking about their effect or they don’t do much at all. I think some of this could be done on MIA and we might need more limited forums just focusing on these issues.

    I also like the idea that there be more discussion about the purpose of MIA as well, although I hesitate to tell the people who have done and are doing the work what they should do. But I do think this kind of discussion could be very fruitful.

  • I apologize if I came across as saying that MIA doesn’t care about the human rights issues in the MH system. I am sure all of you do, and I respect all of you for your contributions. You’re right also, I think, in your remark that those of us who are more activist want MIA to be something different from what it is.

    I was very pleased to read that if a website were set up just to discuss human rights issues, you would be willing to contribute some of your technical skills. I have been thinking about this very thing, as I think there has been very little discussion of the kind of strategies we should be using to address these gross violations of our human rights.

    In thinking about this in the context of this discussion, I am a bit amused when I realize that such a group will undoubtedly have the same problems of flaming and disrespect as we are seeing here.

    Just the same, I think it’s important to try to do something about this, and I probably will want to take you up on your generous offer of technical assistance. Thanks again.

  • Reading all this, I am feeling rather pessimistic about the usefulness of MIA to the cause of human rights in psychiatry. I was feeling very positive about the recent encouragement of psych survivors to write for this website. Now we are being told that we must respect our oppressors no matter what they say. This is just like the experiences all of us have had in the institutions we were unlucky enough to be trapped in.

    An earlier poster said this was like demanding that Jews would have to respect Hitler. I am sure if MIA staff respond to this, there will be denial that this is a valid comparison, but I think it is very appropriate.

    I don’t agree that the way to accomplish the changes that must take place in the mental “health” system is to have an intellectual discussion about “science.” While Bob’s work in exposing the fraud of psychiatric drugs is very important, I don’t see it as the basic issue. What is basic is that society has given psychiatrists the status of gods, and they are allowed to strip away the human rights of anyone they want to.

    I don’t respect the people who do this, and I don’t think anyone should. If we look at the history of the various movements for human rights in America over the last half-century, none of them made the great progress we see by having polite intellectual discussions with their oppressors. Even Martin Luther King, while being polite toward his oppressors, also confronted injustice in a very straightforward way.

    As Frederick Douglass observed, “Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never has and it never will.” His words are just as true today as they were 150 years ago.

    Forty years after our movement began, we are facing more bigotry and more violations of our legal and human rights than I have ever seen. I don’t think pretending that the people who are doing this to us will somehow see the light if we just tell them how wonderful they are is a strategy that works.

    These issues of human rights are not some interesting intellectual question for me. I have made many sacrifices of time, energy, money, and career to fight for this cause.

    It appears that MIA doesn’t believe these issues are really important, and I am very disappointed by this.

    This comment, I point out, is (I hope) an example of the respectful disagreement you are calling for. I hope it moves the MIA leadership in the direction I’m advocating. I certainly know that all of you are very well-meaning, not at all like the arrogant doctors who mostly have left the site.

    I have a lot of respect for you. But this new direction MIA seems to be moving in is very disappointing.