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.

ACTION ALERT to Free Alison Hymes!

http://www.mindfreedom.org/mfi-faq/action-alert-to-free-alison-hymes

Free Alison Hymes From Western State Hospital… We were asked to post the following updated alert for Alison by her friend, Frank. Please address any questions you may have directly to Frank at: nfla@mindfreedom.org.

Alison Hymes

Resident and longtime MindFreedom member Alison Hymes, on Wednesday, 7/3/13, had a re-commitment hearing. This hearing marked the 6 month, 1/2 year point, in her imprisonment at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia.

The result of this hearing is that she was given another 45 days in the hospital after which she will be given another hearing. The result could have been worse as potentially she could have had to wait another 6 months for a hearing.

The bad news, according to Alison, is that the staff at the hospital are not talking about releasing her. She wishes to return to her condominium, her community, and the life she was living before imprisonment at Western State Hospital.

Talking to her over the phone it is not always easy to understand what she is saying. Her words are slurred and garbled. She claims that this is so because the hospital staff won’t return  her dentures to her. Dentures they took from her.

In a previous alert we claimed she was taking lamictal rather than a neuroleptic. Following a previous hearing with her treatment team this is no longer true. Apparently her doctor thought it necessary to put her back on the drug prolixin. She is receiving shots of prolixin, a long acting injectable, every two weeks. She is also still receiving a daily dose of anti-convulsion drug lamictal.

She had gained much weight since being put on seroquel, the atypical neuroleptic she was receiving during her last hospitalization, and she is very sensitive, as you can well imagine anybody would be, about this issue. She doesn’t like the effects of the prolixin, she understands it is a harmful substance, with a potential for doing her a great deal of damage, and she wishes to be taken off it.

Alison was the recipient of a kidney following lithium poisoning after a previous incident of psychiatric malpractice. Her friends and allies worry that keeping her at Western State Hospital
for any length of time will only further endanger her health. She says the medical staff at Western say she needs an operation, on an ulcer, but that the hospital is slow to get around to operating.

Asked what she would tell other members of MindFreedom she said, “I need to get out as soon as possible. I need to get out.”

Direct Actions

Please, contact the following state officials, and urge them to free Alison Hymes from her confinement and maltreatment at Western State Hospital.

James M. Martinez
Director, Office of Mental Health
VirginiaDepartment
of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
(804) 371-0091
Jim.Martinez@dbhds.virginia.gov

Senator Tim Kaine
(202) 224-4024
http://www.kaine.senate.gov/contact

Senator Mark R. Warner
(202) 224-2023
http://www.warner.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?p=ContactPage

Delegate David Toscano
(434) 220-1660
DelDToscano@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Rob Bell
(434) 975-0902
DelRBell@house.virginia.gov

Sample message. (In your own words.)

I am writing (or calling) to complain about the forced drugging and false imprisonment of Charlottesville resident Alison Hymes at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. She is a danger to no one. She has been detained at the hospital for over 6 months now, and her continued detention serves no purpose. She is also being given periodic injections of prolixin, a powerful  neuroleptic drug, that is affecting her health in negative ways. Please, stop the abuse, release her from her confinement to WesternStateHospital, and allow her to return home to her community, her life, and her friends.

Update on Alison

Alison Hymes reports that she recently had the 45 day hearing she had been
scheduled following her 6 months hearing. She was at this hearing given another
two months. “Two months”, she says, “is too way too long”. She is appealing the
decision.

Suggested direct action

If you haven’t written the commissioner and representatives from Virginia,
please, do so. Also Alison would ask that you write or call the present Governor
of Virginia, Bob McDowell, to express your dismay at her confinement, and
to demand her release from Western State Hospital.

Governor Robert F. McDonnell
(804)786-2211
http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm

Support For Victims of Psychiatric Torture

June 26 around the world is observed as an International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. One form of torture that is not widely recognized is non-consensual mental health treatment. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International have been slow to recognize the brutal cruelty and abuse of forced psychiatry for what many who have endured forced psychiatry know it to be, torture. The United Nations has been a little more receptive on this issue. On March 3rd of this year the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture issued a statement calling for an immediate ban on all forced psychiatric interventions.

How are forced psychiatric interventions torture? Just do a little bit of critical thinking and independent research on the subject, and you will find out how. People are abducted, imprisoned, thrown into solitary confinement, poisoned, physically restrained, chemically restrained, shocked, induced to have seizures, injured, neglected, etc., etc., all in the name of therapy. Without mental health law serving as a contradiction to criminal law these atrocities would not be taking place. This ill treatment constitutes torture. The aim of this torture is to elicit behavior that the state finds acceptable,  to suppress behavior that the state finds unacceptable, and to get the torture victim to admit to having a “mental illness” regardless of whether the victim has an actual illness or not.

Should the victim of psychiatric forced treatment not confess to having a “mental illness”, he or she is then said to be “sicker” than the victim who does confess to having a “mental illness”, and this denial, and/or alleged “co-morbid condition”, is then seen as grounds for further tortures and a lengthier imprisonment. More recent developments in psychiatric torture include what is termed a ‘treatment mall’. This ‘treatment mall’ is actually a reeducation camp and brainwashing center run by the state “hospital” with the aim of churning out a greater number of victims complicit in their own torture and victimization.

We call on people around the world to come together over this issue of forced psychiatry, and to help us put an end to this crime against humanity, once and for all. We would like to see a mental health system in which all patients were voluntary, and in which no patients were held prisoner against their will and wishes. We would like to see mental health facilities that were not psychiatric prisons, but instead were facilities in which clients were free to come and go as they so please and choose. Non-consensual treatments, both inpatient and outpatient, are assaults on the health and the freedom of the species and, therefore, not to be tolerated.

By standing together in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, fellow human beings, victimized by this practice, we can and will bring it to an end. On this day consider what you might be able to do to help your brothers and sisters tortured by forced psychiatry. Although we have been granted the right to receive psychiatric treatment, unlike in any other branch of what purports to be medicine, we have no legal right to refuse such treatment. This right needs to be acknowledged and enacted into law. By joining with us in this struggle, you can help us liberate people from psychiatric slavery–the mistreatments and tortures that have oppressed so many for so long.

There is a better world waiting for us just around the bend. This better world is a world in which people are not oppressed and mistreated by greedy, arrogant and power-crazed traitors to their species. We will not reach this better world unless we make an effort to do so. We have in many nations of the world ended the practice of chattel slavery.  We need to end the practice of psychiatric slavery as well. When we do so, we will be that much closer to the better world for one and all that we have envisioned. Now that we’ve gone there in our heads, we need to take a first few actual steps in that direction. Offering support for victims of  the torture that coercive psychiatric interventions entail, in their effort to end that torture, is one of the ways in which we may thus progress.

Crazy Is The Coming Psychiatric Police State

If you’ve been watching the news recently you should be able to see it coming. By it, I mean the Psychiatric Police State. The Psychiatric Police State is, partnering with Hollywood, President Obama’s answer to massive acts of violence perpetuated by a few lone gunmen. We’re going to beef up the mental health system in this country, and that’s supposed to prevent individuals from getting frustrated, and taking their frustrations out on crowds of people in a violent manner with gunfire. (Or, not.) If we can catch these gunmen before they start shooting, runs the theory, we can prevent atrocities from occurring. The way to catch lone gunmen before they go to war with the nation is to call them “mentally ill”, and to get them into a mental health treatment program.

Alright. One problem. Most of the people you’re going to be catching, as runs the rule with loony birds, are not going to be lone gunmen. They’re not even going to be threatening violence on people. They’re just going to be people pulled in by the round up of crazies. Crazy, slang for insane, is potentially violent by legal and legislative definition, that is, government proclamation. We got kooks. We got these kooks under lock and key by playing the potential for violence card. It’s all a ruse. By and large, they aren’t violent in the slightest, but they aren’t playing the game. Busted. Now there has got to be a great deal of irony involved in the state using violence to suppress hypothetical threats of violence.  This action isn’t about public safety, really, it’s about looking like you’re doing something about public safety.

There are any number of better things that our government could be doing. It is not really dealing with the causes of violence because it thinks that violence is produced by something called “mental illness”, and that violence is not produced by a man, conscious, with a gun in his hands. Malcontent, given the imperialistic aims of psychiatry, is interpreted as “mental illness”. Any child who rebels, especially if he or she is non-white, is now likely to receive an Oppositional Defiant Disorder label from the school mental health authorities. Just think, if this label had been around in King George’s time, and if he wasn’t such a case himself, maybe he could have had averted independence by having the leaders of the rebellion institutionalized in his own colonial version of Bedlam. ODD is not an adult disorder yet, but then we don’t have a King George any more either.

Failure is becoming increasingly common, especially when the measure for success is having something like 40,000,000,000 smackers. 20 % of the nation owns 90 % of the wealth. Where does that leave everybody else? Potentially, in therapy. The mental health system itself is a diversion from facing the real issues. If you don’t make a hell of a lot of moolah, you must be nuts. Money, money, honey; its the American way! Well, not so much any more when, as I pointed out, 20 % of the nation owns 90 % of the wealth. People are getting poorer and poorer while some big shot is doing his 18 holes, and getting away with murder at the same time. Expanding the mental health system, well, its happening, and with it, our problems are not diminishing, now are they? Yep, it would help if we opted for a solution rather than another problem but, where would we be if we didn’t make mistakes, er, I mean adjustments.

Give up? Okay. Well, I will enlighten you. Succeeding. Succeeding en masse, not just vicariously. Do you honestly think corralling misfits into mental health programs is going to help them succeed.? Look to results, look at outcomes. Nope, I guess not. Our mental health system has an atrocious record. It is a school for failure. In this school for failure, in fact, they have an expression for the training their most dedicated students receive, “learned helplessness”. Learning helplessness, despite the rhetoric, is not helpful. You, too, can learn to be a “burden to society”.  Sooner or later, the tab comes in, and it’s not just a tab rich tea partiers have to foot. The impoverished find themselves all the more impoverished paying for their impoverishment with monies they don’t have. Kind of like the nation, except the rich end of it. The mental health system, big government, is expanding, and the country is getting crazier, quite literally. Sure, it isn’t really a mental health system, it’s a “mental illness” system, and with a “mental illness” system, that’s what you have to expect.

Forced Mental Health Treatment–The Elephant In The Room

Not that long ago I left a comment on a Huffington Post blog. The blog was that of an East Anglia University student, Beth Seward, in the UK. The post was entitled The Elephant in the Room: The Stigma Around Mental Health. My comment, and I stand by it, was as follows:

The elephant in the room is not “stigma”. The elephant in the room is forced mental health treatment. If it were otherwise people wouldn’t be pretending, very intently in fact, to ignore it. Want to do something about prejudice and discrimination? Repeal mental health law. When you’ve gotten rid of forced treatment, you’ve gotten rid of much of the rationale for prejudicial mistreatment. Forced treatment outside of the mental health system is assault.

I will always admire the late Dr. Thomas Szasz for his dedication to the abolition of forced mental health treatment. I think all doctors of psychiatry should oppose forced mental health treatment, and I would like to see more psychiatrists express their doubts as to its effectiveness. I feel the same way about patients and former patients. I have heard the view expressed by some folks that the forced treatment he or she endured did him or her some good. This was never my experience.

Out of forced treatment we get two castes of citizens. Citizens with full citizenship rights, citizens who have not known forced treatment, and citizens with a portion of their citizenship rights violated, denied and ignored, citizens who have known forced treatment. Mental health law is that law that allows for the detention, and prejudicial maltreatment, of people who have broken no law. From this detention come permanent records that will follow that person around to the end of his or her days, and beyond.

Mental health law should be repealed. There should not be a law for locking up non-law breakers. I don’t think a person can be adamant enough on this point. Mental health law is a very real threat to the freedoms that Americans hold so dear. Nobody is immune from the diagnostic labeling bestowed by well, nor not so well, intentioned meddlers. To deprive the rights to some that we allow for others should be considered, and this is my point, criminal. By doing so, we’ve just made a rift between those citizens we consider worthy and those citizens we consider less worthy based entirely upon prejudice.

To quote from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Forced mental health treatment jeopardizes people’s right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. When a person is detained in a prison masquerading as a hospital that person’s right to liberty is being violated. When a person is subjected to life threatening treatments in that prison that persons right to life is being violated. When a person’s opportunities are diminished due to such an experience, that person’s right to the pursuit of happiness is being violated.

The elephant in the room has been doing much damage, and yet so many people are pretending that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. We had the same problem when people were mistreated on account of their skin color. Now people are being mistreated on account of the psychiatric labels and the mental health treatment they have received. Forced treatment is mistreatment, now and always. Forced treatment involves depriving a person of his or her liberty. All the harm that comes to people in the mental health system comes from this one little exception to the laws that govern our land.  I think it about time we got rid of this loophole in the rule of law.

More Or Less Biology In Psychiatry–That Is The Question

Much newsprint has been wasted recently on the split between the APA (American Psychiatric Association) and the NIMH over the revision of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)  that is going to be called the DSM-5. In my view, letting the 100,000 manuals bloom is not going to be any better of a solution than letting the 100,000 diagnoses bloom in the long run. If we are going to treat every patient as an individual, for the sake of the individuality of his or her condition (and genetic makeup), that’s going to make for a whole lot of variation in disorder (and/or order) expression.

The New York Times covers the story, regarding the NIMH APA divide, in a story with the heading, Psychiatry’s Guide Is Out Of Touch With Science, Experts Say. Of course, it always depends on which experts you ask. The experts the mass media is still slow to consult, and the New York Times is no exception in this regard, are those experts with lived experience on the receiving end of mental health treatment.

While typically critics of the DSM have tackled the subject from one side of the political psychiatric spectrum, here comes mob boss Thomas Insel, godfather of the NIMH, attacking from the other. In the first instance, you have people who object to the biology in biological psychiatric theory, (Theory, now there’s as important a word as any.) in the second, you have a group that doesn’t think the APA is biologically grounded enough.

The expert, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in an interview Monday that his goal was to reshape the direction of psychiatric research to focus on biology, genetics and neuroscience so that scientists can define disorders by their causes, rather than their symptoms.

The DSM focuses on symptoms precisely because we don’t know the causes. Dr. Thomas R. Insel, apparently, thinks otherwise.

Precision seems to be a big part of the problem. In psychiatric diagnosis, theoretical speculations aside, there are no precision tools.

The creators of the D.S.M. in the 1960s and ’70s “were real heroes at the time,” said Dr. Steven E. Hyman, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the Broad Institute and a former director at the National Institute of Mental Health. “They chose a model in which all psychiatric illnesses were represented as categories discontinuous with ‘normal.’ But this is totally wrong in a way they couldn’t have imagined. So in fact what they produced was an absolute scientific nightmare. Many people who get one diagnosis get five diagnoses, but they don’t have five diseases — they have one underlying condition.”

Or, a possibility not considered here, we’ve got five misdiagnoses floating around for which there was no underlying condition in the first place.

Solution. The NIMH is developing it’s own manual, Research Domain Criteria, or RDoC.

About two years ago, to spur a move in that direction, Dr. Insel started a federal project called Research Domain Criteria, or RDoC, which he highlighted in a blog post last week. Dr. Insel said in the blog that the National Institute of Mental Health would be “reorienting its research away from D.S.M. categories” because “patients with mental disorders deserve better.” His commentary has created ripples throughout the mental health community.

Consider, ripples sent throughout the mental health community, ripple throughout the “mental illness” community (i.e. the mental health ghetto). Now whether “patients with mental disorders” are going to get “better” treatment thereby is a big leap. Too big a leap in fact to make. So sorry, my poor victims of standard psychiatric malpractice!

Whatever you call it, my guess is that this switch still represents a way of billing insurance companies, the most important role for patient consumers a psychiatrist assumes. Of course, given that this paradigm change is all about biological explanations, I expect the treatment the insurance companies will be paying for is a chemical fix. Given this situation, the extent to which pharmaceuticals damage patients is still the great unasked question biological psychiatrists do their best to avoid asking.

The Evolution Revolution

Forced treatment is the big secret in the mental health “care” world today. Once upon a time, not that long ago, there was only one form of mental health treatment available, and that was it.

The American Psychiatric Association in fact grew out of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutes for the Insane. Where once you had the heads of what were then called Lunatic Asylums, now you have an association of professional pill pushers.

The big lie is that the pills they are pushing, and whose usage they are promulgating, are good for people, and not people in general, but specific people. People diagnosed with a “mental disorder”. This diagnosis is thought to make the people who have been given one somehow different from the general run of humanity and, therefore, in need of the fix that comes with a drug.

The truth is that mental health treatment is about social control. We have this law that permits confinement of anybody acting oddly on the grounds that they may cause harm to themselves or others. It would be a serious mistake, albeit a common one, to assume that people are held in psychiatric institutions because they are dangerous.

People in mental hospitals are not there because they were given a trial by jury. Usually they are there because they were given a hearing by judge, attorney, and psychiatrist in which judicial opinion subordinates itself to the whims of professional bias and procedural habit. Mental health commitment hearings, in other words, in the present day and age, are little more than kangaroo courts.

Drugs can’t fix people. Drugs can damage people. Drugs can’t straighten out faulty logic. Education can teach logical deduction. Drugs can’t supply insight. Drugs generally mask a problem rather than correct it. Masking a problem is not dealing with it, and coming  up with a solution to it.

Waiving independence in order to be treated by the mental health authorities, usually as a charity case, is not the best course of action to take as a rule. Doing so often involves forfeiting rights we think of as basic to our species. This revelation may take time to register and resonate, but it should come in time.

Yes, Virginia, there is life beyond the confines of the Mental Health clinic. One is not bound to the human services system the way a rat can be restricted to its track through a maze.  The thing is that that system shares many similarities with a rat maze. If it didn’t, researchers wouldn’t be studying rats with the idea of better understanding human behavior. I would strongly suggest that if success in the world is at all important to you, you should abandon the maze.

The irony found in the heading of this post comes with the realization that more complex organisms evolved from less complex organisms. The butterfly in a display frame is not a butterfly in flight. Our capacity expands to the extent that we learn to escape those boxes that other people would try to contain us within. Quite apart from biological limitations, and barring extreme circumstances, we have minds that allow us this advance and that departure.

Ending Discrimination By Ending Forced Mental Health Mistreatment

A view point peddled in the “mental health” literature current today states that often people who are thought to need mental health treatment are reluctant to seek mental health treatment because of some “stigma” or other attached to that treatment. This view neglects to consider that many people, regardless of need, who don’t want any mental health treatment whatsoever are being treated by force and entirely against their will and wishes. In fact, before voluntary treatment became as acceptable and popular as it is today, most people who received mental health treatment received that mental health treatment against their will and wishes.

Now any reasonable adult should realize why receiving unwanted medical treatment would be a problem for anybody receiving that unwanted medical treatment. What’s more, any reasonable adult should realize why a person receiving unwanted treatment should be outraged at receiving a bill for that unsought and unwelcome treatment. When the treatment received was also restrictive, harmful, and fundamentally unhelpful, all the more so. There is certainly more than “stigma”, whatever that word could be eluding to, involved in this process of imposing treatment on people who have no desire to be treated whatsoever.

Much of the mental health treatment regime confronting the unwilling participant is directed at convincing the prisoner that he or she is “sick” and, therefore, in need of confinement, and whatever excuse for “treatment” comes with that confinement. The prisoner who doesn’t admit to being “sick” is seen as “sicker” than the prisoner who confesses a “sickness”. Such a prisoner would be considered by staff then further from discharge than the prisoner who confessed to having an “illness”.  Given intimidation, the prisoner learns to do what the warders expect of him or her, or the prisoner doesn’t leave his or her prison called a hospital.

I think we have to think long and hard before depriving people of those rights said to belong to them by virtue of their species. The bill of rights to the US constitution, contains legal protections based on natural rights, and the derivation of human rights from those rights thought natural. Deprivation of the rights protected by the bill of rights is the hall mark of a lower class of citizenship than that of the average citizen. It is, in fact, the license for a more bestial type of arrangement. This bestial relationship is not a relationship of equals. It is the relationship of a group of people who have been granted more rights to a group of people who have been granted fewer rights.

Time in a psychiatric institute, following recent violence blamed on people with troubled lives, more and more, is likely to get a person on a criminal background check list.  This listing means two things. The person on this list is outlawed from purchasing a firearm legally, and the person’s name will come up as a potential suspect any time a violent crime is committed in his or her area. This list, in itself, is prejudicial and completely uncalled for. People who have done time in psychiatric institutes are, by and large, innocent, not only of violent crime, but of any crime. Criminalizing people in mental institutions is not likely to lessen the violent crime rate one iota. If anything, it might actually raise that violent crime rate substantially.

The way to eliminate so many negative associations connected with mental health treatment is to abolish forced mental health treatment. Force in mental health is the thing that permits the rationalization of all sorts of negative responses to people because of the psychiatric labels that they have received. The only way to abolish forced mental health treatment is to repeal mental health laws. When all mental health treatment is voluntary mental health treatment, prejudicial and discriminatory practices will be reduced correspondingly. Forced treatment is the biggest discriminatory and prejudicial obstacle to compassionate and caring understanding of these, no, not mental patients, but human beings that we presently have. It’s time we owned up to the challenge. End forced mental health treatment, and we also restore to them many of the civil rights that we just took away from them.

Obviously a long and hard civil rights struggle is ahead for people who have experienced the mental health system. This struggle is a struggle to be treated as an equal among equals. No self-serving leadership elite can win that struggle for everybody impacted by oppression within the mental health system. Self-serving leadership elites are exclusive clubs like, to give a parallel example, officers’ clubs. In this sense the mental health system itself must do it’s own part, at least as far as a good part of it is concerned, to self-destruct. If it is to do this, it will need the help of newly emergent leaders rising out of the rank and file at the grassroots level. We know what happens where elites develop. The next thing you know you have an establishment, and an establishment that is most intent on tending it’s own.  What amounts to a “mental illness” system actually needs a self-destructive element within it if we are ever to arrive at the goal of maximizing mental health for all.

On Restricting The Citizenship Rights Of People With ‘Mental Illness’ Labels

Lawmakers, politicians, and some mental health professionals complain that our jails and prisons are  becoming holding cells for people labeled with “mental illness”. They call this detainment criminalization, and they look to jail diversion, mental health courts, and other such  methods to minimize the problem. There is another type of criminalization. This is the matter of adding every patient who has been hospitalized involuntarily, and even some that have been hospitalized voluntarily, onto a national criminal background check system. If that isn’t criminalization, tell me what is? Every time a violent crime is committed the name of anybody in this database is going to come up as a potential suspect.

There is much talk in certain quarters about some “stigma” or other attached to “mental illness”.  This “stigma” is thought to be whatever prevents a person labeled “mentally ill” from receiving the special treatment he or she thinks he or she needs or deserves on account of his or her conjectured “disease”. Countering “stigma” has become any man or woman’s excuse to convalesce for a lifetime. Anti-”stigma” campaigns accompany the biological medical model theory of psychiatry.  The biological medical model theory of psychiatry has a profoundly cynical attitude towards people’s natural ability to recover from the downturns and pitfalls of everyday living. These anti-”stigma” campaigners are fine with fighting the insults and abuses that occur on a mostly surface level, but when it comes to such matters as adding names to a criminal background check database, these campaigners grow curiously silent.

Opposition to “stigma” has essentially become a two faced lie supporting the prejudice and discrimination directed against people who have known imprisonment in this nation’s psychiatric institutions. People recover from the major upsets and defeats they’ve encountered in day to day living and they get on with their lives. There is no “stigma” attached to mental and emotional stability. There is a great deal of prejudice and discrimination directed against those people who have had their lives disrupted by medical model psychiatry. While prejudice and discrimination are real, “stigma” is a ruse.  “Stigma’ is the flip side of the psychiatric label. You don’t have one without the other. All the damage that takes place in the psychiatric system starts with a diagnostic tag. Become more lax about applying the label, and you save a lot of people from the damage that accompanies treatment, including “stigma”.

Mental health treatment has become an excuse for enacting laws violating the constitutional rights of certain citizens of the USA. According to medical model psychiatry these people have defective genes, and thus they must be somewhat less human than the rest of the population with their more capable genes.  This physical defect, in other words, prevents them from ever completely recovering their sanity, and behaving in a reasonable fashion. Given a less than fully capable  human population, our law makers feel obliged to restrict the freedoms of this population in the same way that they once restricted the freedoms of people owned by other people due to the color of their skin. As anybody and everybody is a potential candidate for the loony bin, this assault on the freedom of a minority is a threat to the freedoms that our forefathers were so intent on  preserving and defending for everybody.

When you  deprive people of the rights that our constitution grants them as citizens, you create a subordinate class of less than full citizens. You create a second, third, or even lower, class of citizenry. Doing so, you devalue the human beings who have had their freedoms so restricted to a place beneath that of other human beings who have not had their rights so restricted. If, as the Declaration of Independence states, we are all created equal, and endowed with inalienable rights, this would not be true if some of us were condemned by birth to a more restrictive existence on account of mutated and defective genes.  There is no more evidence that emotional distress and mental disturbances are due to defective genes than there is that racial distinctions are due to defective genes.  While we no longer keep slaves, once held to be a fraction of the value of a human being of European ancestry, we still keep people who have experienced the mental health system down by denying their basic humanity.

Many people who have known the abuses of the mental health system first hand realize the struggle ahead of them to achieve equality of rights will be a hard one. Freedom and equality will never come without  a ferocious struggle to attain them. People in power have a vested interested in keeping other people down. Institutionalization, labeling, drugging, screening, prejudicial legislation and intimidation are ways of keeping some people down and out. Keeping people down and out are the ways some people have of keeping themselves up and in. When people have been reduced to the state that some of these treatments and laws have reduced them to, there is only one direction to go in, and that direction is up. There is also only one way to achieve one’s personal aims and goals in this upward climb, and that is by attaching oneself in solidarity to the aims and aspirations of one’s fellows. So long as there is one person who is devalued as a human being, those aims for each and every one of us cannot be said to have been fully met.

Advocating For Human Rights and Against Mistreatment

I am not a mental health advocate. I have absolutely no interest in contributing to the current treatment crisis we’ve got going in this country. First, you’ve got the people doing the treatment. They call themselves mental health advocates. Then you’ve got the people they treat. Some of them call themselves mental health advocates, too. This breaks down into two groups of people, professionals or providers and patients or consumers. The providers are the people selling the treatment, and the consumers are the people buying the treatment.

You can’t sell the treatment without someone to sell the treatment to, and so, therefore, the providers must become sellers of the idea of consumption, or need. The mental health provider in essence is a seller of “mental illness”. Thus, if we read mental health advocacy as the advocating of mental health treatment, there is an unstated conflict of interest involved here. Your advocates must also be advocates of “mental illness” in order to have a large stock of people to treat.

If 1 in 5 people in the USA are consumers buying mental health treatment, people described as “mentally ill”, 4 in 5 people in the USA are not consuming mental health treatment. Problem. 1 in 5 is in danger of becoming 2 in 5 which could then become 3 in 5, etc. Then there’s the matter of how much of the population, given this increase, would need to be mental health workers, that is, providers. In that eventuality, given a nation in which the majority of the people within that nation are mental health consumers, perhaps we should add to an M to USA. This would make us the United Medical States of America.

Back to the statistic that presently applies. 4 in 5 people in the nation are not consuming mental health at this time. If we take mental health to mean mental health treatment,  4 in 5 people in this country have no need for mental health. Nobody has turned this statistic around to ask, well, how many people in the 20 % that we’re saying consume mental health treatment don’t really need to consume mental health treatment. This isn’t the kind of question people who advocate for mental health treatment ask. They don’t want fewer people in treatment, they want more. There is only one direction to go in for them, and that direction is upward in so far as numbers are concerned.

Should anyone have any hesitations about seeking treatment, these mental health advocates have this word “stigma” that they throw out with such abandon. Funny thing about “stigma”, the people selling this idea of “stigma” aren’t talking about how much of the treatment they are referring is unwanted treatment. There was a time, not that long ago, when the only mental health treatment people received was forced mental health treatment. So long as there are people being treated against their will and wishes, this lie about “stigma” is only a ruse. People aren’t reluctant to go into treatment because of any “stigma”, people are reluctant go into treatment because treatment always results in prejudice and discrimination.

As I stated, I am not a mental health advocate. I am not a mental health advocate because I am a human rights advocate. I am opposed to forced mental health treatment on principle. Forced mental health treatment doesn’t take place without violating a person’s rights as a citizen and a human being. You can’t force treatment on a person without taking away that person’s liberty. I have nothing against treating people who want to be treated. I simply think all mental health treatment should be voluntary treatment.

This opposition to force means that I believe people should not be imprisoned, tortured, and poisoned in prisons called hospitals in the name of mental health. Doing so doesn’t result in good outcomes as a rule. Not only are the results poor, but you can only do so by violating the basic rights of the individuals being so mistreated. There are other ways of treating human beings. I advocate using some of those other ways.

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