We need to spread the word to a much wider group. We need to connect with that silent skeptical majority, and deliver the message: your skepticism is well-founded; psychiatry is a destructive, disempowering, self-serving, drug-pushing hoax; your instincts are correct.
Every year at this time, from Canada to Ireland, from Turkey to South Africa, both determined and not-so-determined folk make a very unusual list, known traditionally as New Year's resolutions. What follows are antipsychiatry resolutions—ones that people may borrow from at will.
As an activist, you work for a long, long time seeing no signs of change, and perhaps you are tempted to throw your hands up in despair. However, very, very often something utterly profound is shifting beneath the surface.
The impetus for this article is an exciting new scholarship endowed in perpetuity which has just been launched at University of Toronto. Called “The Dr. Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry,” the scholarship is to be awarded annually to a thesis student at OISE/UT conducting antipsychiatry research.
The assertion that the so-called antidepressants are being over-prescribed implies that there is a correct and appropriate level of prescribing and that depression is a chronic illness (just like diabetes). It has been an integral part of psychiatry's message that although depression might have been triggered by an external event, it is essentially an illness residing within the person's neurochemistry. The issue is not whether people should or shouldn't take pills. The issue is psychiatry pushing these dangerous serotonin-disruptive chemicals on people, under the pretense that they have an illness.
Psychiatry would long since have gone the way of phrenology and mesmerism but for the financial support it receives from the pharmaceutical industry. But the truth has a way of trickling out. Here are five recent stories that buck the psychiatry-friendly stance that has characterized the mainstream media for at least the past 50 years.
Dr. Jim van Os presents something unlike any other psychiatrist I have come across: a clear vision, and a pathway, for dismantling the existing mental health system and replacing it with something new that actually works. And he is doing it with all the status and prestige not only of a psychiatry insider, but as one of the world's leading scientists. Along with changes in the definitions of health and psychosis, van Os describes pilot programs now underway in The Netherlands to establish small, human-scale services — inspired by Open Dialogue — that engage the social network of people in distress. And, inspired by the best of the US "peer" movement, by involving people who have themselves recovered from madness in a treatment role.
Psychiatrist, psychologist and philosopher Vincenzo Di Nicola examines the history and logic of anti-psychiatry movements. “What is intriguing about these figures is how they proceed by negation," Di Nicola writes in The Journal of the International Association of Transdisciplinary Psychology. “Each figure has a key critical negation that marks their resistance.”
To coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10th, 2015, Verso Books, the largest independent and radical publishing house released a series of blogs on mental health and critical and antipsychiatry. The posts include pieces on R.D. Laing, colonialism, women’s oppression, delusions and art, “The Happiness Industry,” and social and institutional oppression.
This past Saturday, I was on my way back from Europe to Boston, and while on a stop in Iceland, I checked my email and was directed to a new blog by Ronald Pies in Psychiatric Times, in which he once again revisited the question of whether American psychiatry, and the American Psychiatric Association (APA), ever promoted the idea that chemical imbalances caused mental disorders. And just like when I read his 2011 writings on this subject, I found myself wondering what to make of his post. Why was he so intent on maintaining psychiatry’s “innocence?” And why did it matter?
I have been called many things by many people over the last six years of my advocacy, and "Antipsychiatry" is, actually, one of the nicer ones. Yet, as much as I agree for the most part, I still I do not resonate with this term. While I completely identify with Antipsychiatry activists because of the abuse I have experienced and that of all the Survivors I know, I have felt pressured within "the movement" to take stands I don't agree with, and express opinions I do not hold. This makes no sense to me except to the extent that trauma often leads people to behave in the same ways as they themselves were abused.
On May 16, 2015, protests against electroconvulsive therapy or ECT will take place around the world. To support this educational campaign, I am releasing my newest Simple Truths about Psychiatry video which is titled “Shock Treatment is Trauma.” Ted Chabasinski, an attorney, is an organizer of the protest. Ted recently talked about his personal experiences and the upcoming protests on my radio show, “The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.” We agreed that money and power is not the only motivation of shock doctors. Many are taking out their violent impulses on their helpless victims.
On several occasions I have written about the complexities of antipsychiatry politics, exploring more specifically, how to “do our politics” in a way that moves society squarely in the direction of the abolitionist goal. In this article, I am once again theorizing the “how” of activism—for understanding this territory is critical to maximizing effectiveness. However, this time round, I am approaching it from an angle at once more general and more practical. That is, I am investigating the tools or approaches at our disposal as activists.
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