Thursday, May 6, 2021

Comments by Kevin Smith

Showing 75 of 75 comments.

  • Hi Astra,
    No advice here, just a couple observations:

    It might be helpful to find a more humanistic oriented graduate program like Goddard College (for example)? Do some research on the more progressive programs and contact one of the advisors or instructors with a few of your concerns and objectives. Find a program that adequately responds to your questions and concerns. There has been, for example, some very excellent and-for me, anyway-inspiring articles and interviews from university teachers right here on this website! Here’s the most recent, for example:

    I hope this helps some Astra.

  • Thank you so much Laura for so beautifully articulating the more seedier interpersonal and banished-from-view inner workings of of the mental health industrial complex. Kind of makes one feel like taking a shower after 50 minutes with their “psychotherapist”.

    With regard to the BPD diagnosis; as psychiatrist Irvin Yalom quipped. the “BPD diagnosis is an insult” What Yalom ‘likely’ failed to recognize is that the insult was actually more aptly an insult to psychiatry and the rest of the mental health industry. Personally I think that the BPD diagnosis is-whatever otherwise flimsy or reckless heuristic attributions, far more manifest developmental trauma than anything else. But, then, since few adults have gleaned an adequate narrative from their childhood abuse-what critically happened and critically “didn’t happen” (to borrow from Winnicott), and since the adult therapist is likely working from multiple flawed material and disease paradigms, there’s really little opportunity to fix what got broken, save leaving therapy little more than the better “therapized actor” so as to get and go along in life as well as possible.

    I’m afraid your a wounded healer Laura, at least as your chosen vocation and life experience has fated you. Unfortunately that healing will be yours and your patients-as they choose- alone, and not the mental health fields writ large and small. It kind of makes me chuckle to think that 20 or 30 years from now that the mental health industry might just be mostly populated by former users like Laura and others, and as a result, a far saner corner of the world than previously inhabited. I wish you well on your journey Laura, your on your way now…

  • Richard, thank you for your kind reply. FWIW, I’ve always appreciated and gave close attention to your post over the last several years.

    I don’t think most therapist have a clue how to treat or help clients with significant long term multiple traumas in childhood. Hell… I don’t think most mental health professional offer more than superficial technocratic palliatives. If I went into therapy now with the critical consciousness and development I’ve gleaned the last decade-at least when it comes to my childhood, I scare the bejesus out of most every psychotherapist; of this I’m certain.

    To answer your two questions. #1 Both my brothers committed suicide in their 40’s, both having never exceeded the 9th and 10th grade, had severe drug and alcohol abuse/addiction, while also being frequent flyers in the criminal justice system; both were profoundly damaged.#2 Yes there were significant splits to be sure! But they did not in anyway revolve around who had it worse. In fact, I happen to think my youngest sister had it the worst. The “splits” were unconscious roles and fragmentations that never saw the light of day beyond my own years of work to understand.

    I wish you well Richard.

  • Steve, I copy and pasted the definition…”Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability. Because vulnerable people are the victims, MSBP is a form of child abuse or elder abuse”.

    I merely examined the dynamic (while journaling) more out of it’s curious parallel to the above indicated ” “makes up” than arrived and any attribution one way or the other. I really couldn’t care less what “technical” professionally sanctified term does or doesn’t apply to my mother or my experiences of her. More, what I didn’t have space to include in this essay, save that of so much-for example, is that my mother tried to have me legally committed to another psychiatric institution when she got wind (through my sister) that I was going in the Marine Corp. Throughout her life she insisted I was a “manic depressive” and disturbed (from a distance of no closer than 2000 miles, and only through my father).

  • That’s an astute observation Bananas, and one I had to examine while journaling. But there wasn’t room for this topic to be explored in such a short and complex essay. Munchausen’s by proxy is so difficult to recognize (especially in real time) in its usual form, that recognizing and adequately addressing it through the “mental health arena is all but impossible.

  • Thank you for your kind words DW. You said something very important that I think needs to be responded to: “You had nobody”.
    That’s not entirely accurate… I didn’t “inside” my parental home to be sure! But I had several adults who came to my aide. defense, and mentorship; teachers, a high school counselor, my basketball coach, friends, friends parents, a social worker, and PSH!, This is a critical distinction because many abused and psychiatrically captured kids “don’t have “anybody”! I had unbelievable support from people outside my parental home. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would have never reached 30 if not for that support. Moreover, I’ve been profoundly blessed by opportunities and people throughout my life from which I escaped the fate of my two brothers, etc. At 63, my heart aches for all the kids abused and psychiatrically captured who aren’t getting the type of advocacy I did as a kid. I wrote this for them (not me).

  • Thanks Sam! Its one thing for an adult to receive a psychiatric diagnosis and entirely another for a child. The child’s identity is more vulnerable and malleable than the adults, save less able to advocate for themselves with adult-like aptitudes and experience. What made me write this story was the documentation on the percentage of abused children-especially in foster care where the abuse narrative often thickens-who receive psychiatric diagnosis and drugs which, not uncommonly, lead to a lifetime of more of both.

  • Thank you Katel for your kind words/ Funny you should suggest a memoir on this subject… Trying to sufficiently capture the essence of this story in 2600 words was a foolish undertaking. This may be a personal story, but its less about me than it is about the legacy of childhood abuse and psychiatric betrayal, however inadequately written. I only wrote it because I felt that in conveying some of the absurdities and structural ignorance surrounding the legacy of childhood psychiatry along side prodigious abuse, that it might lend something to the larger, if not more substantive discourse. Trying to demonstrate the dynamism of memory rooted in childhood trauma intrinsic to ego and identity formations vis a vis 40 years of adult living in 2600 words was a disservice to the subject matter.

  • As Fredric Jamison brilliantly laid out in his book “The Political Unconscious”, every last area of our lives is political. My experience with psychotherapist is that they will defend or remain silent to whatever their client is unconscious of “and to”, nevermore so than when that unconsciousness is a violence (betrayal or egregious constitutive injustice from which undeniable psycho-social and emotional injury occurs) that is in direct or indirect opposition to the cultural, social, economic, et al., interest of the psychotherapist personal and professional interest, all the way to the “power’ end point. When I look back at my psychotherapy from the mid-nineties, and factor the difference in my education and overall awareness-and their lived experiences, including significant reclaimed “political unconsciousness” (i.e., childhood violence and betrayal I suppressed from recognizing beyond internalized personalization’s, etc.), I now realize my psychotherapist breathtaking complicity to that violence. I suspect that my psychotherapist, like most mental health “professionals”, viewed their professional success as getting me back out into the bewildered herd (society) with renewed vigor, and ever the more personally and politically unconscious vis a vis “our psychotherapy”.

  • What a beautifully written story Ekaternia. I also read it allegorically as a story of how “Power” can steal by dint of the sheer opportunity of double binds and the exploitation of the limits of (whatever) organizational discourse available (of which you wonderfully illustrated in your story). Isn’t this dynamic rather ubiquitous in our neoliberal world? But on the issue of dignity, it seems to me all the while you maintained-and strengthened yours, W was throwing hers away. I can’t help but think anyone who would stoop so low be anything but miserable or dead inside. I hope her employer read this! I doubt W’s reading could make a dent in (her) consciousness.

  • Not only is further exploration of cause discarded, as you astutely point out Steve, but the very process of arriving at psych-diagnosis has, after years of psychiatric scientism and DSM and social inculcation, etc., etc., encouraged a frivolous heuristic reflex to psych-diagnosis, from which miserably fails the diagnostic process itself. There are endless scenarios and examples for how these ruptured/compromised process occur- and then unravel, of course… (Sami Timmi, IMO, did a wonderful job addressing this intersection and a few of its dynamics). I point this out here because it was a prominent feature for me as a kid, and I know first hand that whatever diagnostic mistakes were made, no matter how glaringly egregious, they will never be met with any semblance of recognition from a professional mental health (“expert”). Go figure…

  • What a beautiful interpretation and examination of sound Karin! I’m grateful there are people like you who do the hard work or brining meaning (and hope) to those dynamics languishing in tropes and memes (spaces) dispensed through power. Thank you!

    FWIW: I’ve recently become more aware of sound as a (far more) critical aspect of consciousness. I recently bought a “white noise” machine to assist with sleep and tinnitus mitigation. What I discovered is that I know I’m awake before I can hear it (the rain, etc.), and feel my body first-and thoughts-before I can make out the sound. I won’t go further with my observations, but suffice to say there’s allot of room for further examination of sound!

  • I’ve waited a very long time to read a book-written by a psychiatrist-such as Insane Medicine; thank you Dr. Timimi for writing just that book. May your intellectual integrity and moral vigor catch fire in your profession, as well as with all “practicing” mental health professionals.

  • Hi Jeffery, thank you for being so courageously open about some of the relationship challenges your having. FWIW, I can relate to some of the emotional and psycho-social losses psychiatry imparts upon the entire life of a developing child. I, too, had to figure out ways to be in an adult world my psychiatric and abusive childhood never prepared me for. Now 63, I can only say that “meremortal” was very wise with the long game comment, and oldhead likewise wise that you (may) be judging yourself too much-both comments echoing my own thoughts as well.

    So….your still (in your young 30’s!) discovering your innate human strengths, strengths that psychiatry and other childhood social and interpersonal relationships failed to recognize and help you embrace and develop. So now-“it seems to me from this vast distance”- your now struggling to find your way back to those hijacked strengths and attributes so as to take them back into your adult life and relationships. Cleary your intelligent, sensitive (a tricky strength in todays world!), and a full-on survivor. I don’t like to give advice, but as your brother of childhood psychiatric abuse-now 63 and having had one hell of a ride that outwardly resembles a good, successful life of-which I’m quite happy and very at peace!, I would only suggest that you get engaged with every subject, interest, and goal you have, and find corresponding organization (group, etc.) with each, and put your self in the middle of as many as you can (school, political groups, volunteering, etc.). Nothing breeds relationships like shared interests, causes, loves, sacrifices, purpose; and nothing beats the bonds forged in these type of relationships. Small steps lead to big changes, people come out of nowhere when we forget ourselves and our losses and temporal limitations. What I’m trying to say my psychiatric brother, is that your “believed” limitations are some of your greatest strengths, the journey to discovering this fact is the” hell of a ride” I referred to above! I will only lastly say, pursue your interest (love!) in vocational and creative expressions, develop them like a man who’s hair is on fire, and you’ll be turning off your phone for much needed relationship down time! I wish for you well Jeffery, you deserve it, and I suspect a few new engagements with a focus on what your unique person offers, will bring many gifts.

  • Yes.. this really hits (me too) hard. Julie and Stephens post and articles a ray of courage and hard won intelligence. As sad as the loss of both is, it-for me at least-makes this space and MIA all the more important, if not critically necessary. Namaste Stephen and Julie (I see you and you were seen!), and you made a difference!

  • I second that madmom, “required reading for all mental health clinicians!

    John, your writing is not only devastatingly good (IMO),but poetic and politically surgical to boot. It reminded me of the James Hillman except below, your story articulating the hard won wisdom in Hillmans observation:

    “Power, the move towards superiority in all helping professions and the polarization into weak and strong (patient and doctor, pupil and teacher, etc.). This destructive antithesis occurs when the doctor loses touch with his own vulnerability, the teacher his own ignorance, and the social worker with his own asocial immorality. Help and healing depend altogether, upon maintaining the shadow awareness of inferiority”.
    James Hillman, Healing Fiction

  • Noted oldhead. But the point I was trying to make (however poorly) was that there is no apolitical, only the illusion and or delusion of being apolitical; thus the “unconscious” dynamic. That we believe ourselves “apolitical’ is but an arraignment of our (individual and or collective) unconsciousness through the limits of consciousness, i.e., intelligence, socializations and culture, time, and history’s ruptures and unraveling’s (shifting) etc..

  • Jim, I highly recommend a reading of Fredrick Jamison’s ” The Political Unconscious” At the beginning there’s a paragraph so remarkable, that I posted it on my fridge for a time. In that paragraph, after a blistering linguistic unpacking, Jamison posits that everything and everywhere is “political”. I can’t imagine reading Jamison (or dozens of others), with that of being reasonably conscious, and not understand this; however butchered the word is in our contemporary culture, etc.

    That said… beautiful article Itay!

  • This is an excellent article that, for any one reading Zizek or any number of political theorist (Zizek a Hegelian, Marxist theorist and Lacanian analyst), is nothing new. But I have to take issue with this quote, precisely because it’s framing is, IMO, too ubiquitous and woefully reductive and simplistic: “It is actually a caste system in which there are only two classes: the privileged, first-class owners and the lowly workers who could actually crash the system if they banded together…”

    I disagree here on several points, but will only make the following point through a personal story:

    I’m simply unable to conflate large swaths of the working poor and lower middle class people with a good 10-20 percent of the “professional managerial class” (PMC). When, for instance, my 42 year old working class sister attempted suicide by taking her ex-husbands sleeping pills, she was arrested, convicted, and spent 6 months in jail, from which her already tragic life spiraled into a successful suicide a couple years later. She had no (zero) criminal record or contact with the criminal justice system before this arrest. Why I use this as an example is that, she was herded through this fate by lawyers, judges, social workers, etc. These fine professionals did their job, precisely as they were educated and subordinated to for the capitalist order. And lets be clear here…my sister is but a drop in an ocean of disposable working class and poor people from which the PMC serve and protect the very system they now decry in droves. Yea… Rosenthal is dead right, we are in deep shit. Welcome to the stink PMC.

  • So much commentary portent in this article I don’t know where to begin. But with regard to this little ditty… “Researchers have now embraced the idea that PTSD is a heritable disease with a genetic base. A recent study has claimed to have actually found the loci of the genetic risk”,

    Great! Now we know who to send into combat! Before anyone can be sent into war (battle), they must first prove to not possess this “genetic base”. I mean… that not only sounds fair, but think of the “billions” saved by the VA with regard to ‘all’ PTSD treatments. And, now that we have the “science” here (snicker, snicker..), why don’t we exchange all known children currently in traumatic environments with children without this “loci of genetic risk”? I can think of a dozen examples from which this kind of science(tism) and the living, no-skin-in-the-game data collide like an apocalyptic wet dream. Good article Noel!

  • When does “pride” cross over into delusion, be it through intellectual insouciance or moral vacuity? I mean…the political figure represented in this article begs this question, at least for me. And what then, when ones delusion’s are internalized (co-opted) by others who, too, believe pride the agency of their beliefs and actions? Just thinking out loud here about pride as something real (i.e., something grounded in ones acts or other material interactions, etc.) as opposed to it’s more conflated impersonations.

  • Seems to me there can be a very fine line between pride and delusion, your above “political individual’ a good example. Pride grounded in something substantively material, be it ones acts or others responses to them (excluding sociopathic enablers, etc.-no need to elaborate here!) More…what happens when ones delusions become others reality and people suffer, either materially or psychically? Me thinks, at least for starters, it’s critical to call out the absence of pride, as well as the abundance of its delusional impersonations.

  • Beautifully told Elizabeth! As you stated “Where were these tests when I first entered treatment as a 17 year old?” There should be a law mandating a comprehensive physical (metabolic panel and CAT scan, etc.) before any regiment of psychotropic drugs can be administered (a 10 day emergency declaration the only exception, for example). This would at least provide the patina of science to psychotropic drug ‘treatment” which, as your psychiatrist demonstrated, is as about as epistemologically sound as a ten year-old with his/her first chemistry set. I keep wondering…when have enough stories like yours and so many others going to result in a class action lawsuit: not to win so much), but as a watershed to the diseased, false psychiatric narrative itself?

  • Thank you Joe for telling your story of parental abandonment and psychiatric betrayal. The truly diabolic part, at least from my very distant point of view, is that you were deeply affected (duh…what five year old wouldn’t be!) by your parents disappearance, from which psychiatry took that psychological hole and drilled down as far as a five year old boy could neither comprehend nor stop: Forever! To have dug yourself out to this point, and to tell your story with this much clarity and grace, is to have taken a heroic journey, everything psychiatry will never undertake nor possess.

  • Wow! I’m not sure which blows me away more, your courage to tell this story as you have, or the courage in your having lived it? But I’m pretty sure you’re living the hero’s life from here on out, from which a most fortuitous fate not possible before your first psychiatric encounter, will find you a most deserving representation. You Rock! And your story only grows in leaps and bounds from here.

  • Tipping points, however tragically overdue, usually don’t result from any single qualitative event, as in even the most devastatingly honest and thorough New Yorker article-that didn’t happen. My point here is what is psychiatry’s tipping point? My guess… long after the most damage possible has been achieved. Is there any mystery that psychiatry and the mental health professions are making the world sicker, exponentially so? I imagine, for a moment, psychiatry having to answer to Congress, perhaps four or so committees. I imagine class action law suits. I imagine a spin-off branch of psychiatry and governing body (as in headed by Dr. Bregin-like minded doctors) from which conventional-historical psychiatry starves to death. I imagine institutions working as the health of its denizens their defacto raison d’etre. But, then, maybe these are a few of the reasons why psychiatry (seems) to have no tipping point?

  • Ron…I’m not assuming my MLK-Dr. King reference has anything to do with your comment here! But it is a good segue to revise my rather frivolous commentary above-of which oldhead got me thinking about my comments here (my philosophy being, to date, giving the arrational a place at the table; now requiring closer attention to my language!). But with regard to my comments days earlier, what I should have said was that the middle ground can be progressive or regressive; the bigger issue, to my mind, the manner in which real attributions come out the the middle ground, regardless of the political acrobatics. Progressive and or regressive attributions aren’t ambiguous. But with regard to the middle ground and psychiatry: There is no middle ground! In order to claim legitimate middle ground-or fake it, there has to be substantive legitimacy from which to proceed (historically, epistemologically.etc., etc.) If psychiatry proceeds from this ground, or it’s willing adherents-fair weather or otherwise, then smelling salts might be warranted.

  • Another gem from Bruce. Not unlike Sera’s last post, this tackles a trans-psychiatric issue, the middle ground phenomena an indiscriminate historical wrecking ball-as Bruce illustrates with the Malcolm X and Dr King reference. Maybe the middle ground is as much a “political bunker” mitigating institutional failings and contradictions than any actual position or philosophy. Run to the middle ground and claim your PR-political high ground, if for no other reason than to silence historical contradictions, and control those pesky complexities to the right and left. Do it long enough and the middle ground sinks, and with it, far too many of its bewildered subjects. Bravo to Bruce for seamlessly working-in the nap, pants-down-dump reference too!

  • Beautiful post Laura. And I think your idea for a community-based free space children can come to for support and, well…”community,” is a long overdue idea! It’s kind of-to my mind-something of a counter-psych ward, maybe an anti-psych ward! Not that it needs that moniker of course. All of those states you mentioned struggling with when you were young are nothing short of human feelings, feelings children have to juggle while “learning to fit into a very complex and not a little sick world. Subjecting children to a psychiatrist (and, in my opinion, most mental health experts) who struggle with these states is nothing short of criminal. I sure wish something like your community idea existed for me 40 years ago! Best of luck with all your work in these areas moving forward!

  • This article is so full of holes that It’d take a books-length critique to adequately address, just like its predecessor. But I’ll just say this: “Multi-Lens Therapy”? Why does this sound and read like gestalt redux? Secondly-with regard to reason #1 of the above four: Why is the DSM anywhere near a psychotherapist office? (Rhetorical question). Next: when did critical consciousness become so threatening to the psychotherapist profession? (this question is wider and deeper than might appear, and deeply troubling in my psychotherapeutic experience). Lastly-because this is all the hopelessness I can invest in today, when is the psychotherapy profession writ large going to offer a metaphysical critique that acknowledges-even honors!-the human psyche for it’s authority, and in the process-by extension, that human psychological symptoms may be (trauma notwithstanding!) less pathology than the Cosmos (and, of course, all levels of the social!) speaking through the therapist client (back to critical consciousness for the record).

  • Great piece as usual Sera. I, too, caught that White revisionist part in Hidden Figures, as well as the scene when the three woman broke down on the Virgina road and the State Cop stopped to offer assistance and reverent words: you know, classic 1960’s Virginia. What I loathe worse than recovery porn is Victim porn! When victim status reaches dictators and legions of people in positions of power and privilege-save the rigging that ushered their continued ascent, then…Not to go off the cliff here, but I thought the other day everything is beginning to look pornish (shallow, exploitive, etc.). For example, I see my doctor next week for my annual physical. He’ll use my labs, etc., as the basis of my health, whereby no discourse of my thoughts and concerns will see remotely reflective or complex responses from him. A nice, clean, algorithmic transaction in (well) under 30 minutes. Sorry for the last part here.. just trying to show you may be on to something bigger than the recovery angle.

  • Thank you Megan for courage to speak to your direct betrayal by your pastor, and passive betrayal by significant others. Also…thank you for that beautiful metaphor of emotional, spiritual, and relational homelessness-I could have used that one a couple years back! I, too, recently experienced a betrayal by someone I thought was more than what he presented and was; so I know how difficult it can be to open up the nature of the betrayal, save face a sense of abandonment from it’s exposure. One thing I learned from my betrayal from my “supposed’ new friend, was that I acted out of unconscious cues and their attendant losses. In the end, I came to understand that my “friend” was one sad dude, and that I more felt like a victim, rather than a student to my own repressed needs. My point here is…I had to come to forgive myself because said friend wasn’t worth my time or friendship. This is a difficult process, of course, but one I feel blessed to have gone through. I hope your betrayal finds the same outcome, whatever it’s process.

  • Thank you for sharing your story Anders. I really enjoyed and appreciate your articulation of the nuanced contradictions between diagnosis and ones evolving life at the various intersections. You point out so well the various failure between diagnosis and ones developmental life, and in the process-rather nicely, put a spotlight on the utility of diagnosis: for whom does it best serve? You seem to have taken and the diagnosis of autism, wrestled with it personally and socially, and turned it into your own creation. Bravo!

  • First off thank you Manuela for your honest and courageous writing of this necessary post. I personally appreciate the simplicity of clarity throughout. I am, however, a little torn on the issue of unionization in a mental health profession. As a lifelong union supporter-originally from Detroit, there’s something troubling about it’s reach to the profession of mental health. More troubling than I care to unpack here. Unionization for the purpose of job securities is good thing, me thinks. But unionization that bleeds into praxis or informs formative or operational processes, not so much. And who holds firm that Chinese wall?

  • I couldn’t agree more with Sylvian. But I will add what Wittgenstein had to say on the matter of his (“elite”) education: “I’ll spend the rest of my life untangling myself from the moras of my education”. My guess is that the “serious problem the world over” is the canary in the coal mine-incubator, and that the 5% to 28% of the kids who don’t want to be in school are the best, brightest, and healthiest among us. I also believe. as a rule, that they desperately want to learn. likely, more than their subdued peers. But critical, creative learning isn’t available, and the lifeless, atomized banking information in it’s place, generally in highly alienated spaces, is more than their young psyches can process.

  • I’m sure this is another excellent article by Dr. Breggin, but the title swore me off. Love is a made up word I’ve disabused myself from, both from my end and that of others. Power and wealth are the only two things that are real in this world, love the means to achieve both, save position one’s self to its future procurements. But it is a wonderful illusion (or was it delusion? while it lasted.

  • Thank you for your reply! And I totally agree with your rationail with regard to a therapist input, or more disconcerting, output. I responded to you because I do this work in the vacuum of my intellect; and that ain’t going to work very well because it was created in relationship (duh). I guess I was just taking a first step away from that vacuum. There really is no substitute for integrity grounded, mindfully centered relationship(s). Looks to me like you know that considerably better than my two therapist (in the 90″s). Continued success! BTW: what is SO?

  • I agree Frank. But the question I have is, where does all the failure to assimilate within the acceptable terms (i.e. corrupt mythic condensations, etc.) go? I mean…that’s a lot of suffering, symbolic deviance, and tons of desperate attempts to negate from the inside (institutional power). Looks to me like we’ve crossed a tipping point with regard to old mythic power in every last institution. It’s going to get very interesting these next few years, etc.

  • Well I’d be that someone if I could be samruck! I’ve come to understand just how damaging my own attachment stage had been. The problem there, as I suspect you understand very well. once the attachment stage has been miscarried or otherwise botched, a heightened developmental vulnerability (or to be more blunt, compromised!) is at work, from which, given one poor or another less favorable caretaker environment, results in exponentially challenged developmental stages. Without a skilled therapist or group relationship, it’s almost impossible to address the compromised foundational sense (unconscious wiring) of ontological relatedness. I guess what I’m trying to say is, without addressing attachment, ones work to heal trauma will never be fully realized.

  • Interesting word ‘belongingness’. I wonder how it might relate to attachment, be it secure, insecure, or (whatever’s the) middle one? Seems to me secure attachment followed up with attentive, responsive, and empathic familial relationships, just might be the ultimate ‘belongingness? Maybe I’m shadow boxing with semantics here, but I just see belongingness originating and continuing with good, secure attachment, followed by a reasonably empathic and responsive parental or caretaker environment.

  • The penultimate sentence resonated for me in an otherwise excellent blog: “They are labels affixed to a troublesome child or a child in trouble”. I can’t help but wonder if the latter is the more common problem: a child in one dreadful situation or another from which the situation is treated through the child (as pediatric psychiatric medicalization statistics bear out in foster care/homes, for instance).

    Two years ago my new neighbor informed me that the 12 year old boy I’d come to know (her nephew) was bipolar and had aspergers (of one kind or another?). Funny thing was, I found the kid to be highly attentive, curious and smart, and emotionally resonate, and stable as a rock-upon reflection. My neighbor then informed me that her mother had taken custody of this boy and his sister due to some “pretty bad stuff”, later confirmed as sickening abuse and trauma from my prying. Turns out the shrink had him on lithium. When I told the aunt of the long-term issues with the kidneys,’ etc., she told me the shrink was going to switch him to something new when he turned 18 (his future already settled here, apparently.) I tried to get her to see that whatever might be going on with him wasn’t (at least automatically) biological, and likely due to the glaring prolonged trauma several years earlier. She would have none of it. Though she agreed he was usually a great, easy going kid, etc., he had (occasional) tantrums that were very disruptive. My only thought here was…I wonder what unconscious trigger was going on from that earlier, traumatized, miscarried developmental stage? The kid haunts me: and so, too, the thought of all the kids in these situations.

  • Excellent article as always from Dr. Breggin. Ditto the ensuing discussion. My own thought with regard to “healing’ from one emotional or psychological problem (However otherwise colonized linguistically by psychiatry, is that if or when one “heals (perhaps especially when said problem is trauma based), does one return to ones pre dis-at-ease psyche-self or life, or, for that matter, their relationships, etc., as they would have been sans problem’? If not, what has changed, what is brought back, what was lost, maybe gained, and maybe…even extrinsically essential? To truly heal seems to me, however profoundly personal, something radical, something radically essential.

  • Excellent and important article on the dynamic of guilt in the mental health industry; one I’ve never given much thought to-but will now! My only comment here is on the ubiquity of CB therapies, et. al. I just can’t get past the troubling fact (as experienced in my own psychotherapy and it’s ‘organized forgetting’) that the sine qua non objective of these therapies is to de-historicize the psychotherapy subject and any counter-narrative unfavorable to power, doxa, and the indelibility’s of lived experience (i.e., trauma, betrayal, etc.).

  • Welcome aboard Steve 🙂 I’ve always enjoyed your comments and insights, but perhaps even more so the respect and compassion at the core of them (sometimes obvious, sometimes between the lines). Me thinks your the person for this role.

    Best of luck!

  • I was utterly surprised to discover readers, generally speaking, wanted more personal stories. I never would have known given the manner my personal story was rejected, save woefully responded to ( I had to email it three times, make several inquiries to its status and, in the end-weeks later, given a one sentence explanation for its rejection. Moreover, the reason given (too long-3500 words) seemed a bit arbitrary per-several other personal stories. The fact that I wrote such a difficult and still painful story that bespoke of my eight year childhood on psychiatric drugs and two institutions-with the second institution removing me from all drugs and my parental home, seemed a relevant story for this site; however clinically written (done to avert some of the dialectical sand traps, etc. ) . So… my point is that, maybe when it comes to personal stories, a more robust (by which I man rigorously honest!) relationship between the editor and the writer might foster good personal story’s which need space and literary license to convey the very complexity psychiatry (especially childhood psychiatry!) dumps upon its subjects.

    Just saying…

  • Shaun,
    In my own experience the generic psychotherapy you refer to (mostly variations of CBT, etc.) is, in my opinion, the (structural) ‘organized forgetting’ than Henry Giroux and others write about. The psychotherapy administered in these ‘like’ facilities is not only designed to negate critical consciousness (ones biography to its historical and dialectical formational process’s, etc.,) but reinforces the very herd mentality that delivered the patient there in the first place. Moreover, the faux medical model fetishization is used like a hammer from which little to no ‘real; psychological (read consciousness as social and political unconscious) growth is possible, save not undermined. Yet…

  • I was thinking along these lines too Oldhead. My term here was cumulative depression, in the more pernicious cases, beginning in early childhood ( your#2) before a child has suitable developmental consciousness to differentiate their (external) trauma from ego self, etc. If childhood trauma is ongoing (developmental trauma) the likelihood of your other factors is exponentially likely, save compounded. Suffice to say…the discussion (long, hard, and honest!) for the safe space and treatment of healthy depression is overdue.

  • Thank you for sharing your painful story Kelli. I hope it brings a measure of continued healing no matter how small or incremental. I will say, however, that I suspect your story more deserving than the word count telling it. I know these blogs. MIA as culpable as the others, tend to shrink and or flatten these personal stories into blurb-like narratives; something I find troubling given the biographical nature of these stories, save the complexity of the psychiatric dialectical in general. I hope you follow up with more of your personal story.

    Also, I’d like to see psychotherapist who specialize in psychiatric abuse and or failure (this can’t be a nominal demographic!). Seems to me you got a post-graduate education for other adult children with similar experiences, and can provide rare and invaluable healing as a result?

  • I really appreciate your saying ‘thanks for sharing your story”! I spent several months writing about it for this website (personal stories, of course) and it was rejected last July. I felt devastated-and shocked- by both its rejection and indifference to it by editor-person. I am pleasantly surprised by the sense of being heard by you, despite only using my experience to illustrate my point. Maybe I’ll try again (fail better!) by taking another tract?


  • Steve…I am one of those former kids, so let me add my two-cents to your excellent, prescient point:

    Being psychiatrically labeled-and drugged- in a good (enough) home as opposed to an abusive and unstable home have entirely different, even counter-psychosocial- consequences. Moreover, putting a child on psychiatric drugs (with their attendant labels) while leaving them in (that) environment, is tantamount to covert violence. In my own experience (even though I was removed from all psychiatric drugs by the psychiatrist at the State Hospital my parents dumped me, as well as legally removed from my violent kidhood home-by the hospital), it wasn’t until I began writing about that period of my life a decade ago, that I realized how invisibly insidious the psychiatric dynamic had been. I had to untangle the unconscious conflations of violent home from identified patient, save the repressed memories and what had been lost as a result. In fact… I had to do it twenty years after leaving psychotherapy, where my therapist never brought up my psychiatric kidhood (after its initial disclosure), nor it’s clear disjuncture to that of my adult life. So… my point here is, these ‘kids’ are angry because the betrayal is never broken, honored, or reified through a skilled, repairing relationship(s) I’m guessing the psychotherapy profession writ-large is dropping the ball big time in this area.

  • Excellent blog as always. But I couldn’t but notice the omission of the Rosenhan experiment-being sane in insane place’s I believe it was called? I’m inclined to believe this study was more impactful to the profession of psychiatry than One Flew over the cuckoo’s Nest; though I’m equally inclined to believe the movie more of an impact on the social and cultural consciousness than the study was.

    I hope I’m not nit-picking here, and apologize if I’ve done so.

  • Actually the “ADHD scam’ you refer to is at least fifty years running: I was put on Ritalin in 1967 by way of our family physician. I was told that my ‘brain was different than the other kids’ and that Ritalin would make it ‘normal (because you know…science understood the brain so well in 1967!). Back in 67, ADHD was referred to as hyperkinesis-or one being hyperkinetic. It also carried the moniker of minimal brain damage (MBD). Whatever. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

  • Great post Michael.

    When I think of your use of the term, ‘omission’, I thought of Winnicott’s maxim about those ‘things that should happen and don’t happen. And when the things that are happening are ‘fast food’ psychological development process, so to meet the demands of a Darwinian, It society, people end up never having the very nurturing qualities-you so succinctly wrote about- they need to fully develop.

  • Great blog as always Bruce.
    I have one observation as it relates to the politicization of the psychiatric institution writ large:
    It seems to me (and if I’ve missed this in your essay I apologize: it was a quick read today) that the psychotherapeutic profession at large has been colonized by much, if not most of the psychiatric industry’s diagnostic and treatment praxis (DSM5 for starters), save whatever philosophical agencies are at work in both. Of course, how this works and what it looks like, is complex and extensive. But I just wanted to broach to topic for now. It just seems to me that the if the psychotherapeutic profession were a bit less invested in the political reterritorialization (per-Deleuze) of it clients/patients, and instead worked to restore the depoliticized of their charge as an intrinsic feature of whatever therapy is going on, I suspect we’d be looking at a slightly different social landscape.

  • Well…actually, what these statistics do is completely destroy any premise of ADD or ADHD of having any scientific validity. It is statistically impossible for an increase of an (allegedly) epigenetic ‘brain-disease’ to take these kind of drastic leaps within a single generation, especially as disproportionately represented by race and gender. There is an epidemic to be sure, but one falsely carried on the back of the most vulnerable-and likely to the most essential of the lesser represented aggregates: i.e., introspective, sensitive, artistic children, etc. The ‘epidemic’ is structural, not quasi personal.

  • Hi Elizabeth,
    A tragic story told beautifully and courageously, and one that needs to be heard by all. Thank you for sharing. May your writing here , and the book to follow, bring opportunities that continue to give meaning and enrichment to your experience.

  • Big thanks for the great information I haven’t been able to get anywhere! I mean…I guess the cause of why I was having all the symptoms I was after quitting imipramine and beer-over a seven year stretch, ending in 94, weren’t understood in the proper/correct context: protracted psych med withdrawal!. I knew, instinctively, it was a big part of the sudden appearance of new symptoms, but nobody, and I mean nobody I paid good money to, thought so. Though I’ve regained much of my original health, there’s still a few residual issues. Maybe with your info, much of it new to me, I can push this process to new levels of health. Thank you so much Monica!

  • Thanks Maria for an excellent article, and perhaps prolonging my life.

    I was instructed by my ENT doctor to rinse my sinus’s with their J&J baby shampoo during times of acute symptoms (I have a chronic sinus condition) I had no idea-nor I suspect, did my doc-that I was, essentially recruiting cancer, save ‘brain edema! Thanks again.

  • Daniel, thank you for this excellent and essential essay. I found it,, like so many articles here on MIA, to be a breath of fresh air, thought provoking, and not a little self-identifying. To wit:

    I can so relate to the farce that therapy often descends into. One funny experience I had came fifteen years ago, for example, when, after an horrific experience triggered some untended and unresolved trauma (unbeknownst to me then). I was referred to a male therapist by a lawyer friend who had attended the same grad school some twenty year earlier. Upon entering his office I noticed a fire hydrant at the far end of a rather large office. I couldn’t look away, glancing at I every few minutes or so. I found it both ‘cool’ in one sense, as I find dissonance in general to be appealing. But after a few more glances the therapist asked me, ‘do you know why that fire hydrant is in here? I said no; where he then replied that ‘We’ put out fires in here’! And there it was, what it was that gnawed at me. Fire! I asked him if all fires were attempted to be put out. He said, unequivocally, ‘yes’. I then mentioned that fire was symbolic of transformation-trying to get some, perhaps, greater clarity than I had coming in; than my Jungian tendencies might otherwise lend. He shut me down pretty quick, and then we went to another topic when, then, I found his very next comment (I can’t recall now what it was) to be rather sophist or, in the least, shaky, and called him on it. He then erupted in- to this statement-and I mean was loud and angry: ‘do you have to intellectualize everything!” At the end of the session, he wanted me to take so psychological test ( don’t recall which one) that cost $300. He said it would help him to better understand me and assist his treatment. I told him, ‘if you take it too, and we’ll compare the two and see how they line up for an optimal treatment praxis. He then told me he couldn’t work with me. Duh!!! I bit my lip and left before it could get any worse.

    I haven’t met a therapist yet-and I stopped looking over a decade ago-that’s worth my time. I know there are good and some very good enlightened Soul’s out there, and I would be blessed to have some time with them. I mean…sometimes it just a privilege to speak with someone who’s been down a similar road, and has gained some hard earned wisdom and intelligence because of it. I thought that’s what was at the core of therapy.

  • Love your work here Laura!

    BTW: How does one submit an article for Op Ed consideration? I’ve contacted MIA 3 times with this question and have, thus far, been ignored. I’ve also posted this question on two different forums to no avail. I’m feeling about as powerless as I did-in this process of trying to get a simple answer to this question-as I did when drugged and institutionalized as an adolescent! Kind of ironic given the nature of who I’m reaching out to: MIA!

    Thank you for considering my question

  • Gavanshir,

    Though there are, for me, several points of concern in your post, I’ll limit myself to your last sentence: ‘Psychiatry is our only hope and needs a united front’.

    I know of nothing that is not informed (often for the betterment of it’s own agency or optimal potential) from external signification. No body of function, from the microscopic-or smaller!- to entire nations or people, politics, etc., throughout history, are exempt. I personally am troubled by the mere suggestion that a ‘united front’ is critical to the advancement of psychiatry. In fact, however flawed opposition may seem to be-and is likewise framed to be; it has historically proved to be the single most constructive, evolutionary human endeavor.

    I wish you best in your choice of careers.