Toronto’s PsychOUT Conference In The Press

The PsychOUT conference taking place in Toronto was covered by the Canadian National Observer recently, but nothing about the article on the conference could be said to be balanced and even handed. Peeved academics and mental health professions, chagrined that the conference is taking place in the first place, get all together too much attention in the article entitled, ironically enough, Mind Control.

In his [Molyn Leszcz, chief psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital and a U of T professor] practice, he is “respectful of suspicion and concern and mistrust,” especially the justifiable fear of corporate influence on medicine, but he feared this conference would “isolate and shame people, and block people from care.” After all, if psychiatry is a corporate conspiracy to drug people into passivity, a patient who goes willingly is a pathetic dupe.

The article stated the dilemma succinctly enough, in some cases the patient is a pathetic dupe.

The organizers of the conference taking place at the University of Toronto are getting a lot of bad mouth from certain people who have nothing to do with this conference beyond not wanting it to take place.

Psychiatry historian Edward Shorter has more than his share of a say on the subject.

“They’ve had a toxic influence on public health by convincing many patients and their loved ones that psychiatric care is a bad idea, that it’s some kind of power grab, or an effort to incorrectly influence their minds and burn their brains, and they would do best to stay in the world of alternative care, which is terrible advice,” he said. “It’s curious to see this anti-psychiatry movement flicker back into life in Toronto at a time when it really has lost credibility everywhere else in Western society.”

As a member of that movement who lives elsewhere in Western society, I’m offended that Dr. Shorter should make such an unthinking sweeping statement. Those of us in the know, know that his arguments are just one more example among many of the concerted efforts being made by organized biological psychiatry proponents to legitimize psychiatry as a branch of the medical sciences, and to silence its critics.

Warehousing people in psychiatric prisons, and calling those prisons ‘mental hospitals’, is not good treatment. All sort of un and under reported human rights abuses take place in these psychiatric prisons. Using the term “care providers” as a euphemism for the warders of these psychiatric prisons would present an impression that is just far removed from the facts. If alternative methods allow any sort of semblance of a truly compassionate approach to therapy, vive la difference!

Ms. M. Ann Phillips, a woman who has developed a shamanistic approach to treatment, after her breakdown in 2002, was featured as one of the presenters at this conference.

Her theory is that mentally ill people are in fact spirit guides to alternative realities, and that a psychotic episode “is an indication of a traditional medicine or shamanic calling … [They] do not need to be medicated, but need the assistance and guidance of a trained shaman to bring them back from realms unknown and to teach them to use and control the gifts that their breakdown/ breakthrough has revealed.

Why not? It sure beats the incompetence, ill health, and brain damage that results from years and years of paternalistic ‘care’, institutionalization, and drug maintenance.

Talk about pulling out all punches, the piece ends with a conference bashing by Michael Kirby, the Mental Health Commissioner of Canada. When it comes to this celebration of difference, he equates such difference with destructive and self-destructive behaviors, and turns a blind eye to the destructive tendencies of the mental health establishment and the federal government. Well, being Canada’s Mental Health Commissioner he would, wouldn’t he?

I’ve got news for these critics of the critics. Our movement is not going away. Our movement is not dying out. How could it when the numbers of people labeled ‘mentally ill’ has doubled in the last two decades due to the efforts of the drug companies to sell drugs, and the psychiatric industry to treat people?! We’re sticking around, and our numbers are growing. You can spread your lies far and wide. We’re going to root them out and expose them. You will be hearing more from us in the years to come.

Update: May 16, 2010

As a matter of contrast, a much less biased account of the same PsychOUT Conference, referred to in the post about a National Post article above, can be found in the Digital Journal article, Anti-psychiatry conference aims to bring about the end of psychiatry.

6 Responses

  1. People like Shorter lie when they lie. They’re lying as they are straightening their tie. Every time their heart beats is another lie. It’s like he’s trying to pretend that he’s surprised that anyone still has a problem with psychiatry these days.

    It’s to be expected that the shrinks will amongst them have a pretty cohesive argument. I suspect that much of the paid time of a psychiatrist is spent studying the latest hymn sheet.

    There can be no question that any organized effort against psychiatric assault is needed even if it does feature the occasional “spirit guide”.

    • How come any article on the C/S/X psychiatric survivor mad antipsychiatric whateverthebleepyouwanttocallit movement in the mainstream media has to have all these people trying to discredit that movement in it, you tell me. I guess these guys really feel threatened.

      Edward Shorter’s interest in the history of psychiatry is somewhat unfortunate. There are more impartial and less opinionated approaches to the subject. He brings to that history his own baggage. He is not the only mainstream psychiatrist trying to discredit anybody who can hold forth on the subject who isn’t a mainstream psychiatrist. E. Fuller Torrey has broached the subject of the history of mental health treatment in one or another of his volumes as well.

      I heard Albert Galves speak of the positive side of alternative consciousness (or mad mental states) on David Oaks radio broadcast from the PsychOUT conference in Toronto just Saturday. I think Al was making a good point. Intolerance can be a big problem. There is something to be said for such breakdown/breakthroughs as can be made. Native Americans had their vision quests. If you went on a vision quest today, a shrink could have your head for it. All sorts of people have taken hallucinogenic drugs and come down relatively intact. The difference between those drugs and so called mental illness is that some people don’t think the person with a mental illness will ever come down intact. This thinking in turn can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Right now, mainstream shrinks are all about stopping people before they go through it rather than letting them come out on the other side of the crazy experience. They don’t need to entirely discount that crazy experience. There are good things that can be made of it.

  2. The debate about the use of psychiatry continues. Psychiatrists are an endengered species, very fragile profession. But with lots of influence still. And status; unfortunately, medias listen to them more than to ordinary people.
    In recent times, psychiatry resists. Psychiatry knows all. At least that’s what psychiatrists think.
    “No insane man recovers at home”, was the word in early 20th Century, 100 years ago. That was the thought of the time. Experts knew. The idea was to convince the population that in order to cure someone, you had to send him-her into a psychiatric institution. There to be shocked. Tied to a bed. Put into a cage (crazy crib). Raped. Be beaten up by staff. Or patients. Patient’s way out of institution: death. Statistics demonstrate this. Testimonies of abuse are eloquent and many, in my 30 years of studying mental health in Canada and abroad.
    Let’s look at history. Now we have closed many institutions. They were not good. They were abusing people.
    Now we have drugs. Drugs is the thing. You can’ t cure without medication. And psychiatry. And DSM. Alternatives are an illusion. Take your medication, never go out of it, listen to psychiatry, and you will be cured. Don’t look at alternatives, they don’t know what they are talking about.
    Reality is that you will not be cured by psychiatry. You will be controlled. You will lose your libido,have lots of other problems as well (secundary effects), and will be a patient for the rest of your life. You might not hear voices any more. But you just might become suicidal. You just might gain weight, lots of it. You will hate this new image of yourself. But they will tell you that you have no choice. You will adopt the life of a patient. Now you will be a good client, you will cooperate.
    If psychiatry is so good, how come there is now 1/5 of the population who has become their patients? When i started on this, it was1/10. Why this increase? Kids are being treated. Old age people are being shocked. And medicated for anything like loneliness, sadness, hyperactivity. They find reason to diagnose and treat all of us it seems. Soon it will be 1/1. Psychiatry and drugs companies will be most happy. We will all be crazy. And medicated. And controlled.
    We must continue to explore other ways. Other cultures do it. Other civilizations do it. Medication is not the answer. Psychiatry is not the answer. Let us look at the short-term and long term ills of psychiatry.
    This conference, which i could not attend, was an eye-opener for many people. The search for the truth has to continue. With or without psychiatrists. They too might be crazy, who knows?

    • It’s terrific to find we have an ally in Ottawa.

      I wish I could have attended the conference, but my finances are limited. If they throw another conference in the future, I might be able to make my way up to Toronto, or some other place in Canada. My sights at present are set on attending the NARPA conference in Atlanta, Georgia, taking place this September, as that is just up the road from my present residence in Florida.

      Having endured psychiatric oppression and imprisonment in the states on a number of occasions, I completely concur with your assessment of the psychiatric system. I don’t have a lot of good things to say about psychiatry myself. I’ve managed to ‘get past’ what was done to me, but that hasn’t been the case for many people I’ve encountered in the mental health/illness system. A few of these victims of psychiatry are now deceased, or non-survivors. I feel I owe my health, and probably my very life, to not listening to the psychiatrist. Were I a compliant mental patient, if I wasn’t dead now, my IQ in all likelihood would be considerably reduced.

      That’s 3 things psychiatrists could show a little more respect for right there, physical health, life, and the organ of thought. These 3 things are still important to some of us. Throw in liberty, and yeah, maybe people can start to see why psychiatry should be an endangered profession. *sigh*

      Any ‘other way’ is a better way in my book.

  3. Plans are now being made for a PsychOut Conference 2 in NYC 2011!

    • Great. Maybe I will have the chance to attend the next one, and if for any reason I can’t, maybe they can hold a PsychOut 3, 4, etc., Conference that I can make. I’d like to see more conferences of this sort take place, and I regret that I wasn’t able to attend this one.

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