“Mental Illness” The Industry

It’s an awkward position to be in. If you say one thing you offend one set of people, and if you say another thing you offend another set. Things are definitely not as simple as they were 20 years ago, and yet, at the same time, they are more simple.

Were I ambitious I’d be kissing the asses that would get me somewhere, but I’m not interested in advancing myself in the disability field. It is a field that I think, in itself, reflects much of the corruption in psychiatry, and psychiatry is corrupt through and through.

You’ve got people putting in as many hours, if not more, in the disability field than you do outside of the disability field, and when somebody puts in that kind of time and effort, that person isn’t disabled, literally.

The problem concerns what often tends to be the result of putting in all those hours. If it is more people calling themselves “disabled”, is that really a progressive and positive outcome? If it is a rapidly expanding “mental illness” industry, who needs it?

When we talk about mental health, usually we are talking about mental health treatment, and the people being treated are those labeled “mentally ill”. This makes mental health all about mental health treatment, and not about the absence of “mental illness”.

There are, for example, multiple strategies for prevention on the horizon, but only some of these strategies are actually preventative, some are causative. The thing folks like to downplay is the fact that before the psychiatrist enters the picture disease is conjecture.

Even when a diagnosis has been made, you’ve got psychiatrists calling diagnosis an art. Why is it an art? Simple. It’s not science. We haven’t got any bacteria, we haven’t got any viruses, we haven’t even got any lesions of the brain, but we have got diagnostic labels.

A symptom in psychiatry is an unwanted behavior. Check off enough unwanted behaviors from a list, and you can call the patterns of behavior you are looking at in a person a “Mental disorder”. Psychiatrists do so everyday of the week.

Diagnoses are fluid and subject to change. Normalcy, non-deviance, or mental health, is outside of the doctors domain of expertise and, therefore, outside of the doctors office. Doctors have labels, not cures. Medications manage, they don’t alleviate symptoms. entirely, and it is quite probable that they exasperate symptoms, that is, unwanted behaviors.

The mental health community is not synonymous with the community as a whole. It is this artificial barrier, this insular cushion, this parenthetic netherworld, this nouveau ghetto, borne of coercion, intolerance, prejudice and dependency, that is my locus of concern. I would like to see it shrink rather than expand.

I feel that this turning ill health into a growth industry is criminal and, as such, it should be prosecuted, not encouraged. Problem. The care and management of ‘lunatics’ began as a growth industry, and so it remains to this day. I suggest that perhaps a change in priorities would make much more sense.

The Adult Baby Sitting AKA Mental Health Treatment Business

Adult baby sitting is big business. It is a business that goes by the name of mental health treatment. For adult baby sitting to thrive there are  three requirements: 1. that some adults are assumed to be incapable of making decisions for themselves, 2. that this pseudo-child status is legislated into law, and 3. that other people are paid for assuming the role of responsible adult.

Oh, by the way, adult baby sitting is thriving. The adult baby sitting business is booming big time. The numbers of adult babies are growing very fast, as is, correspondingly, the numbers of adult baby sitters. Adult baby sitting is assured a great future. Looking at Number 2. above, for this pseudo-child status to be legislated into law, law that is actually in opposition to law,  you need another explanation for immaturity. Voila! Now we’ve got medicine, medical science, calling irresponsibility and deviance “disease”.

Medical expertise, where maturity is concerned, has been given  quasi-judicial powers. In fact, it is an alliance of medicine and law that allows for the practice of adult baby sitting on a wide scale basis. The letter of the law can be circumvented, when it comes to incarcerating a person in the adult baby pen, because a determination has been made by medical experts, upheld by judges, that adult behavioral immaturity is a matter of physical disease, and we have a law for containing people with said disease.

This confinement represents a quarantine without true contagion. There is a contagion, truly, but this contagion is a matter of 1. selling adult baby sitting, 2. job security, and 3.. manufacturing adult babies. What is really at work here is supply side economics. First you’ve got the demand for adult babies sitters to handle the supply of adult babies. This in turn generates a demand for more adult babies to fill the growing supply of adult baby sitters. They are out there, we just can’t let them slip through the cracks so to speak, can we?

This business is actually about, and always was about, prejudice, intolerance, and segregation. The old mental asylum represents a sort of nigger town for the mad. I know you’ve heard the slogan, “separate but equal”, well, separate by its nature usually means unequal, and if anything our treatment of the dementedly deviant segment of the population has been very inferior to that of our treatment of the non-deviant majority. The new community mental health system would change this equation ever so slightly by introducing the mental hospital/prison without walls.

Children are under pressure to grow up. Weaning a child from dependency on mama and daddy is what child-rearing is all about. If the child is slow (i.e. immature for its age), now we’ve got the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tag to lay on the child. ADHD allows for more intensive child rearing. We’ve got baby baby sitting for those babies that are more stubborn in their babyishness than other babies. If only it was as simple as saying, “babies will be babies”. Well, actually, it is that simple.

The issue at hand concerns the adult babies who have not been caught, or, 75 % of the population. Arriving at 75 % involves, more or less, coupling the psychosis tags with the neurosis tags, that is, deviance as necessity with deviance as luxury. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to credit the psychiatric field, the drug industry, and the insurance business with a great deal of deception. This deception involves pushing bias as if it were proven fact. We don’t have illnesses here. We have adults treated like children. Change the expectation, and you change everything. Were we to treat adults like adults again, I think you’d begin to see a big improvement.

Frank Blankenship: Personal Story

The MindFreedom Personal Story Project

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Frank T. Blankenship

“I’ve talked to a great many people devastated about friends and associates debilitated by schizophrenia. This always elicits a smile and amusement on my part. They don’t seem to realize that they are talking with someone who was once diagnosed ‘chronic schizophrenic’.”

Born: 07 December 1952

Contact Info: Gainesville, Florida, http://www.lunatickfringe.wordpress.com

Currently doing: Community organizing, specifically a Florida affiliate of MindFreedom International, blogging, writing, and when he can, traveling.

Mental health experience: Inpatient, Outpatient, Forced Treatment, Psychiatric Drugs, Commitment, Solitary Confinement, Torture

Psychiatric labels: Chronic Episodic Psychotic Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder,  Schizophrenic Paranoid Type, Schizophrenic Chronic Undifferentiated Type, Schizotypal Disorder With Major Depressive Features, Chronic Schizophrenia Possibly Paranoid with Sleep Deprivation

Psychiatric drugs taken in the past: Thorazine, Stelazine, Navane, Mellaril, Haldol, Moban, Olanzapine, Loxitane, Lithium, Propranolol, Cogentin, Artane, Tofranil

Off psychiatric drugs since: 1997

Recovery methods: Social Activism, Friends and Family, Maintaining a Distance From the Mental Health System, Philosophical Detachment

Greatest obstacle: Biological Medical Model Psychiatry

Brief history:

I wasn’t a good student in primary and secondary school. Homework was something I just didn’t do. My parents were desperate to see my grades improve. At one point they were so desperate that it was suggested I be psychiatrically evaluated. I was actually sent to some building, a very cold and clinical environment, where I was interviewed by all these psychiatrists. It was horrible. They were asking me all these very personal questions. I was their specimen. In tears I told my parents I wasn’t going back to that place, and I didn’t go back. Pulling out of that program is the reason I didn’t have a psychiatric label in grade school.

In college my lack of good study habits caught up with me. I finished high school without graduating, due to a lack of credits, but went on to take my GED (high school equivalency test) that summer. I was majoring in pre-teacher education because I didn’t have the credits to take liberal arts, talk about a lousy reason for becoming a teacher. Anyway, during my second year it became a problem. I was falling behind in class, that is one reason, bad study habits, but there was more to it than that, I was at a point in that transition from adolescence to adulthood when things should have been happening in my life and they just weren’t happening.

I stopped going to class. I kept up the pretense with people who knew me that I was still attending class. I broke  down before a professor and it was decided I should see a mental health professional. Over that weekend I discovered the secret of the universe. Apocalypse was coming with the mating of absolute good to absolute evil and this apocalypse would be followed by a second genesis. It all made sense at the time. An episode of marijuana smoking with friends probably didn’t help much. The next thing I know I’m being driven from Charlottesville where I resided over the mountain to DeJarnette Sanatorium, the private wing of Western State Hospital, in Staunton Virginia.

Admission to DeJarnette was like landing on another planet. First you’ve got the imposing Victorian look of a traditional asylum, and then you’ve got the actual crazy folk within it. I was disoriented and the experience was anything but grounding. The nursing staff at this time saw their job as mostly one of observation until the patient began to show some signs of improvement. This meant little interaction, with rational people anyway, except for that which was punitive, therefore, I spent a great deal of time in seclusion in the quiet room.

Pacing the halls at night in a thorazine daze I fantasized being rescued by extraterrestrials. There were these eerie lights to be seen through the window at the end of the hall, and a railroad track over which we heard the occasion train whistle on its way elsewhere. When eventually I was taken out for my first walk around the grounds, feeling I was a part of some strange kind of experiment, and that I was expected to escape, I took off running down the road. A car lit out after me, and I was returned to the hospital. I learned eventually to play the game, and to give the staff what it wanted, thereby, after a time, gaining my discharge.

After my first institutionalization I had a crummy job, custodial, with UVA hospital housekeeping. Six months of that while taking regular doses of thorazine and I said, “No more.” I felt pretty, well, I think depressed is the conventional way to describe my feelings at the time. I quit the job and threw out the thorazine. I vowed never to take neuroleptic drugs of my own volition again, and I have been generally true to that oath. I felt much better. I don’t know if quitting the menial labor had anything to do with it, but I have absolutely no regrets about not taking psychiatric drugs. I fancied myself something of a poet at the time, and the drugs affected my creativity, as users will tell you, in a very negative way. I feel that this vow has more or less prevented me from suffering the fate of so many of my contemporaries, some of whom are no longer with us.

This was only the beginning of my experiences in the mental health world. After inpatient treatment, there comes outpatient treatment. I  became something of a “revolving door patient”, that is, I was back in the hospital on an inpatient basis pretty regularly. Funny thing, most of the times when I was institutionalized there was nothing “mentally” wrong with me.

There was, when I first got discharged from the state hospital, what was then called the Day Hospital for outpatient treatment. It was kind of like what I would describe as nursery school for adults. I will never forgive myself for opening up to the director of this Day Hospital. He said he was good at listening, and he encouraged people to talk to him in his office. He also had a way of dismissing everything a person would say to him as symptomatic of underlying illness. I, on the other hand, liked to think my thoughts, hopes, visions, feelings, wishes, plans, ontological being, etc. were not reducible to the outward manifestation of a pathological condition. He eventually learned about Fountain House in New York, and soon after the Day Hospital was converted into a clubhouse. He had a sailboat, and he would take sailing vacations to, what most clubhouse members could only dream about, the Bahamas. Eventually he got a job in south Florida doing what he had in Virginia, and then, much to the good fortune of his clientele, fired for who knows what.

I had moved to California at one point. I had this idea that either I was going to fashion myself into a success, with a super model clone clinging to an arm, or I was going to commit suicide. Well, as things were going rather slowly at the time I began making plans for my exit from the world. I hitchhiked north, ended up in an institution in Oregon, got out, made my way to Takoma in Washington state, turned around, and came back to the town in California where I was staying. Suicide, as it turned out, wasn’t such a simple undertaking. I thought about doing it, and eventually I took a swipe at it, or something approaching that. I had, as you might imagine, mixed feelings about ending it all. Ultimately I turned the matter into something of a public spectacle. I didn’t want to just make a silent exit, and then offer proof that nobody gave a shit, as they wouldn’t care anyway. I awkwardly cut my arms with a razor blade thinking about working my way up to the wrists. I then walked bleeding out and down main street where was I was shortly picked up by the police. This little episode, which lead to stitches, of course, made me revise my ideas about suicide. I decided I really didn’t want to off myself, and maybe life wasn’t so insufferable as it might have seemed after all.

My last hospitalization was one of the worst experiences in the psychiatric system I had ever had. I had at that time been out of the institution for ten years straight. A police detective came to my door and told me that if I didn’t volunteer myself into the hospital criminal charges would be lodged against me. I went to the emergency room. Big mistake on my part. Any lawyer will tell you that the police, in order to get what they want, will lie. A campus police officer in the ER had had some kind of encounter with me, and so I was put under a temporary detention order, a 72 hour hold. I was beside myself. I knew where this process was headed, and that is exactly where it went, to a civil commitment hearing. I spent nearly a month on the university hospital psych unit, until the insurance ran out, and then it was over the mountain to Western  State Hospital.

Western State at this time had fewer patients than on any of my previous visits due to deinstitutionalization. It was also more restrictive. In the university hospital I’d been spitting out pills in the toilet. This was no longer possible at Western as they checked to make sure nobody was cheeking his or her pills. The patients were seldom released from the closed wards to walk the grounds and visit the main recreational building. Eventually I became one of the few allowed out accompanied by staff. The weekends were murder, murder by boredom that is. This was due to the reduced staff. I considered myself lucky to have had a mother who would visit me almost every weekend.  I was in the hospital longer than any time previously, too. Soon after I left the department of justice was called in to investigate conditions at the hospital. I think this was due to some patients deaths there. Given budget cuts, last I heard, the hospital is in danger of reverting back to the way it was when I was a patient.

Social Security sent me a letter stating that I would need to be in treatment if I were to continue to receive benefits. This sent me back to the clubhouse. I agreed to a treatment plan that involved going about a half a day twice a week. Anything more was just too depressive. This meant orientation as a new member, and then service in the cafe unit. They had these work units, you see, in which people pretended to work and they called this pretense rehabilitation. Although not up to the standards of a regular Fountain House model clubhouse, I guess you could say it was their way of trying.

Eventually I wound up in the clerical unit. This meant that I was the person who entered the names of the people in attendance from a sign-in sheet to a computer record. The average daily attendance was somewhere between seventy to eighty members while on a good day ninety something people might show up. I made note one year that we had ten members die. I felt these deaths were due to the prescription drugs the members were ingesting. Witness that the death rate that year was better than 10 % of the attendance on a good day. Obviously the mortality rates of people who went to this clubhouse were way too high. At one point during the year in question, when three members died in succession over a couple of months, hospice was called in to help members deal with their grief. When I left the clubhouse, I who never wanted to go there in the first place, there were staff members trying to dissuade me from leaving. Thankfully, they had no further hold over me.

Since then I’ve moved to another state, but I continue to receive the clubhouse newsletter. A recent edition reported that the clubhouse had had a memorial service for three members who had died within a short space of time. Hospice counselors were there to help members deal with their grief.I guess this means that, following my departure, things haven’t changed all that much.

Year told:

2013

They’re gonna kill, kill your kids

A news item out of Portsmouth New Hampshire runs, Story of patient without available bed all too common. I’d say the story of patient with available bed all too common as well, but get a load of the example used!

“My son is 22 years old and he has had 11 jobs since the age of 18 because of substance abuse and mental illness. He has been going to the doctor since the age of 4. We literally had to fight the system for eight months to help him get assistance,” one member of the F Group said during a break-out session facilitated by a person with Portsmouth Listens. “In April he went to the state hospital. It was very difficult for me. I can’t imagine a person with mental illness getting through the system.

 Emboldened emphasis added.

 How many fingers?! Four! Isn’t that kind of young to receive a “mental illness” label and all the abuse that goes along with it? Not to mention…drugs? Just two years after the terrible twos, while passing through his fearsome fours, whap, right on  the butt cheek, “illness”.

This brings us to our next point, passing through. A person with a “mental illness” label who doesn’t “get through” the system, isn’t passing through the system. He’s stuck in the system. Perhaps permanently. Staying in the system is not recovery from an alleged “mental illness”, nor is it recovery from intervention and its consequences.

 They said their son was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder at 4, but it took until he was 21 to get help.

Their son was disobedient and defiant. Their son was a rebel. Their son was a child. Duh. Therefore, psychiatric label and drugs, and the consequences of labeling and drugging. At 22 years of age, this arguably adult kid, who initially was merely rebellious, as many kids are, especially when they reach their pubescent teens, would be described as a “chronic” head case.

 The article goes onto “describe ODD” seeing it “as a pattern of anger-guided disobedience, hostility, and defiant behavior towards authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior” as delineated in the shrink’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

 My point, if you want a really, really, really bad child rearing manual, turn to the DSM. All the kids found in this manual are crazy by definition.

 “Thirty-five years ago you couldn’t say the word ‘cancer.’ It was a dirty word. It meant you were going to die. Now you can’t go a day without seeing a fundraiser or a run for cancer,” [Jim] Noucas [co-chair of Portsmouth Listens] told all of the participants at the beginning of the session. “It is time to take mental health out of the shadows and that is why we are here today.”

 Long hush.

 Given the men and women in their spanking white lab coats, I wouldn’t step from the shadows if I were you. Not just yet.

 Perhaps we are turning the world into a carcinogen. Additionally, give me a rhyme for carcinogen. Oh, yeah. Loony bin works. I think the pollutants, both chemical and cognitive, can seem pretty oppressive at times.

Maryland Hopes To Get The Potentially Potentially Violent Into Treatment

The U.S. government has been very successful in its effort to lay the blame for mass violence on pathology rather than individuals. The disturbed individual is no longer an individual. He or she now has a psychiatric label, whether bestowed by a doctor or a newspaper reporter, and thus belongs to a grouping of disturbed people. People with psychiatric labels aren’t their own moral agents goes the ruse.  They are adult children instead requiring full or part time professional supervision.

If violence is a matter of pathology rather than choice, fine and dandy, and this pathology is a matter of biology, alright. The thing to do is to catch violent offenders before they violently offend. When his “disease” made him (we’re talking mostly young males here) do it, after all, we’re looking at “diseases” and not individuals. Individuality is not an option. People either conform to custom and law (regardless of whether that custom and law means wearing a suit and tie or a tee-shirt, jeans and ponytail) or they are “diseased”.

The idea of pre-psychosis, although deferred from categorization as a bona fide “mental disorder” in the DSM-5, is back. The Baltimore Sun reports, New Maryland mental health initiative focuses on identifying and treating psychosis. This headline doesn’t tell you everything. Maryland is beefing up it’s mental health police state system in an effort to catch more pre-psychotic pre-killers.

Founded using a $1.2 million state appropriation approved this year, the Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness has a goal of identifying psychosis in a fresh way: by taking notice in the earliest stages and providing support before symptoms spiral out of control.

I guess they think that by busting pre-psychotics they will be preventing psychotic mass murder in the long term. The problem I see with this plan is that you don’t have a psychotic “until symptoms spiral out of control”, and my understanding is that the majority of pre-psychotics don’t go psychotic, and so, by targeting them for treatment, one could be acting in a causative rather than a preventative fashion.

[University of Maryland child and adolescent psychiatrist, Gloria] Reeves and her colleagues say they’re working to ensure patients can live normal lives by short-circuiting the possibility of a deeper psychosis that could intensify if left untreated.

When a patient is already a patient, hey, what have you got? Shallow psychosis or pre-psychosis? In which case prevention is a matter of preventing deep, “deeper” ,or what is known in the trades as ‘full blown’, psychosis? My point is that maybe sometimes it is better to completely prevent the problem by eliminating the doctor patient relationship in its entirety first. Labeling a person “disordered” is the way you make a mental patient. Once a mental patient has been made, and is being subsidized by the state, unmaking a mental patient, unburdening the state of the financial expense, becomes a major problem in itself.

A growing body of research over the past two decades, however, has shown patients are much more responsive to treatment if they’re diagnosed early, and there are early warning signs that suggest when a person is at risk for developing psychosis.

Patients again. If we have more psychosis, but more treatment compliant psychotics, are we 1. upping the number of over all patients labeled psychotic, or 2. lessening the number of disturbed mass gunman in the nation? My feeling is that we are certainly doing # 1 while it is entirely questionable as to whether we’re getting anywhere with # 2.  Next question, do we really want a larger population of psychotics in the nation?

Before you think that the impetus for this measure is entirely medical, let it be known that the funding for this initiative was voted in by the Maryland General Assembly at the prompting of  Governor Martin O’Malley. Mental health treatment then is the state of Maryland‘s answer to massive acts of violence. Of course, this is providing that they’ve got the right suspects, uh, I mean patients, and that pre-psychosis leads to psychosis which, in turn, leads to massive acts of violence. I don’t even think that is a great theory on paper, but Maryland is not the only state that sees the answer to extreme violence in the nation as a matter of increasing the amount of oppression directed against people with psychiatric labels.

Breaking Up The Shrink Crime Syndicate

My virtue was that I never made a good little “mental patient”. Compliance with a treatment plan, such as adhering to an irritating brain-numbing drug taking regimen, in other words, was never my forte’. When “mental patient’ isn’t your goal in life, it’s hard to become a conscientious “consumer of mental health services”.  “Consumer of mental health services” in today’s parlance translates “chronic mental patient”. The person who refuses to “consume mental health services” isn’t a “mental patient”.

Not being a conscientious “consumer of mental health services”, from the beginning I was looking for an escape clause. Prognosis, you will notice, here would be a matter of living down to expectations. “Mental illness”, after all, is all a matter of applying the odd man, odd woman, out school of philosophy in practice. This means that there are no good prognoses in the mental health field, only calculated curses of a sort. “Mental illness”, then, by definition, is a matter of being launched on a failure track.

I don’t like losing any more than the next person, and so I found this loser track to be somewhat distressing, to say the least, and what’s more, I didn’t think it was the right track for me. What could I do? First you’ve got the diagnostic tag, “mental illness”.  Then you’ve got the role, “mental patient” or “consumer of mental health services”. The tag and the role have been supplemented by the recovery approach to treatment. The recovery approach to mental health treatment sees recovery as a journey without a destination.  In other words, the patient is expected to recover in the sense that he or she is not expected to recover.

Okay. If you don’t want to be a “chronic mental patient”, you’ve got to stop “consuming mental health services”. This was a little easier for me than it has been for some other people. This is because the better part of “mental health services” is something called “medication management”. That’s right. “Mental health treatment” in today’s world is all about treatment with psychiatric drugs. Those drugs are the primary ingredient in the services that “consumers of mental health services” consume. Stop taking psychiatric drugs, and you’ve ultimately slipped the butterfly net. There is nothing left to mental health services but endless talk.

I have to backtrack a little bit here. Outpatient services are a blast in the most ridiculous way. In fact, everything about outpatient services is ridiculous. Take vocational rehabilitation. You’ve got people pretending to be working for no pay. People expected to never hold down a real job do this thing where they go through the motions day after day. They do everything, in fact, but go to the employment agency and fill out a form. This is the difference between a patient and a non-patient. Non-patients are a little less serious about the matter, and they have  managed to become the masters of filling out employment applications.

Given pervasive discrimination, don’t let me bash networking. The clown takes his or her costume off, and he or she still desires something of the human touch. The network is full of imposters, double agents, and swindlers, but to say so would be to hazard a diagnostic label and, frankly, I’ve had enough of that racket. Which brings me to the point. Psychiatry and prescription dope peddling are organized criminal activities as far as I’m concerned. I’ve heard of one instance where the Rico Statute was used against a pharmaceutical company. I hope to see more such realistic moves and appraisals being made in the future.

R. D. Laing and the Politics of Liberation

I am not a Laingian psychotherapist. The spirit of the Pasha of Kingsley Hall can guide other disciples on a lifetime regimen of therapy to its wispy heart’s content, not me. I don’t see losing one’s way as a lifetime endeavor I would wish to pursue. I’m not an apologist for R.D. Laing excesses. Leave that to those of his associates who have survived him and their associates.

I have no aversion to being called Szaszian. Thomas S. Szasz was, from beginning to end, against psychiatric oppression. Dr. Szasz, in fact, supported the abolition of coercive psychiatric practices. R.D. Laing’s position on the same subject was much more circumspect, except where specifically stated, and then rarely. I think it important for doctors to take sides as advocates on this matter, and Dr. Laing, when he wasn’t practicing non-coercive psychiatry, seems to have, wrongly in my view, taken the other side.

I don’t want to bash Dr. Laing entirely. Credit must be given where credit is due. He did much good. He humanized the face of madness, he discerned that there was often a hidden reason to it, and he put it in a social–mainly familial–context. He also inspired the initial Philadelphia Association experiments that have in turn spawned whole generations of successors, most impressively the Soteria Project, still with us today.

When the BBC would discredit R.D. Laing, that is one thing, when Thomas S. Szasz would do so, that’s another. The BBC just wants to finish the reactionary establishment job of making this Maverick psychiatrist mud that his heart attack on a tennis court along the French Riviera started. Thomas Szasz, on the other hand, wanted to show that this Maverick psychiatrist was actually not so much a Maverick psychiatrist after all, and certainly not the Maverick psychiatrist he was taken for.

Perhaps, as has been indicated, R.D. Laing’s position hardened over the years. Dissident psychologist Seth Farber in his recently published book, The Spiritual Gift of Madness, makes a great deal out of Laing’s The Politics of Experience. Laing himself, near the end of his life, in a series of interviews with Bob Mullan, published as Mad To Be Normal, refers to this same book, The Politics of Experience, as a mistake. R.D. Laing, also in Mad To Be Normal, speaks about how disturbed the people he dealt with were, something he might not have done way back when The Politics of Experience was published quite so explicitly.

The thing I’m trying to stress here is that you don’t equalize the field merely by donning informal attire. At Kingsley Hall, behind the illusion that there was no illusion, all residents weren’t on an equal footing. They played at being on an equal plane, but without the assent of the psychiatrist residents, there was no equality. When R.D. Laing in his memoir, Wisdom, Madness, and Folly, rationalized forced institutional psychiatry as necessary, he turned poser and hypocrite. There is something hypocritical, after all, in reattaching the chains Sunday that you had removed on Monday.

Historically there are parallels. Take the much lauded casting off of chains at the beginning of the movement for moral management in mental health treatment. Restraints may have been removed in some cases, but these restraints were being removed from people who were quite literally prisoners. If any problems ensued, they could be quelled simply by throwing the prisoner into solitary confinement. The moral management movement created an asylum building boom, and thus raised the rate of people being held captive by the state for alleged “mental illness” substantially.

Given that R.D. Laing, by his own admission, considered psychiatric hospitals necessary, I wouldn’t rank him up there with the great liberators, and if he was not a liberator, he was a collaborator with the psychiatric plantation system. Perhaps there were two faces to him as far as R.D. Laing was concerned; if so, I guess you can choose the face that most pleases you. I much prefer honesty and integrity myself. It is, quite frankly, less deceitful.

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