File Me Under Other

I whistle when I hear the term anti-psychiatry bandied about these days. What anti-psychiatry!? I can think of at least 4 candidate groups for anti-psychiatry views that are current, not including none of the above. There is the Church of Scientology which, as well as adopting a stance in opposition to conventional psychiatric practice, includes several extraterrestrials among its membership. There are those remaining psychiatrists associated with the late RD Laing, the Philadelphia Association, and company. An associate of RD Laing, the late David Cooper, resurrected, coined, adopted, or doctored the term into service while RD Laing himself was none too fond of it. Advocates of deinstitutionalization, some associated with the latter group, have occasionally used the term to describe themselves when they haven’t had the term applied to them in a derogatory fashion. Some psychiatric survivors and allies have used the term to describe themselves as well, I’m thinking specifically of a group of Canadians, a few Germans, a Frenchman, and perhaps even a couple of Italians.

I myself was thinking of coming out as an anti-psychiatrist not that long ago. News searches on the search engine Google convinced me that doing so was not such a good idea. The only times anti-psychiatry appears in the English language press these days is to identify a discredited school of thought, or as a term of disparagement. It is not a fashionable term, to say the least, and it does not tend to be used as a term of endearment. I would imagine a few foreign nationalities might be more friendly to the term, but I’m not keen on the idea of wasting the time with BabelFish to find out.

RD Laing was probably the most celebrated psychiatrist in the world in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. This is long before the faddish nature of his visionary demeanor had faded into obscurity, he lost his medical license over a love of Scotch whiskey, and he suffered a fatal heart attack on the tennis court. Thomas Szasz, a critic of the psychiatric establishment himself, launched a few verbal missiles at the grave mounds of this group of doctors once they’d passed into the relative non-obtrusive silence of decay. Not surprisingly, the victims of this savage attack didn’t have much to say in their defense.

I don’t like psychiatry. I think the term anti-psychiatry, like the term anti-Christ in Christianity, gives psychiatry too much credit. I’m all for non-psychiatry. Non-psychiatry has worked wonders in my life. I’ve seen non-psychiatry work wonders in the lives of other people, too. Psychiatry, on the other hand, has been an absolute disaster from the very start. Psychiatry is there to treat diseases that aren’t even diseases, and there is a raging epidemic of these imaginary diseases ravaging the country right now. As long as a person pays a psychiatrist, often through an insurance company, a person can have one of these diseases. Sometimes the chemicals used to treat these imaginary diseases have their own debilitating effects, and psychiatrists have assumed as their chief role the dispensing of these chemical agents of control and disablement. There is an obvious cure to these imaginary diseases that most people just don’t pick up on. Stop paying the insurance companies, stop seeing the psychiatrist, and stop taking the poison he or she prescribes. Duh! There is no recovery, in fact, from what has been referred to as “mental illness” without non-psychiatry. Psychiatry is all about “mental illness”. If you are looking for mental health, well, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. That elsewhere, as you may have guessed, is non-psychiatry.

As many as ¼ of the people on earth may have had the misfortune of visiting a psychiatrist. It only takes one visit to pick up a psychiatric condition. Psychiatrists are very adept at doling out these conditions, just as they are adept at doling out the drugs used to treat them. Drug companies have made trillions of dollars from this cozy relationship they have developed with psychiatry. Most of the people who make the mistake of stumbling into a psychiatrists office will correct this error at some point in their lives. Most, but certainly not all of them. About 5 % of the people in the USA have been saddled with a serious “mental illness” delusion. Serious “mental illnesses” are, well, serious. The obvious antidote to such gravity is levity. 95 % of the people on earth can manage this levity. An fortunate few among the 5 % have picked up on it, too, and drifted back among the 95 %, while an unfortunate few among the 95 % have lost it entirely, and find themselves stuck among the 5 %. The moral of this tale is that ordinary discomfort is human and not pathological. If you want pathological, consult a psychiatrist.

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7 Responses

  1. You’re right. Anti makes a person sound like a contrarian for the sake of it. And it has a silly sound or can be made to sound silly when spoken by people who defend psychiatry as it’s commonly practiced.

    It may be possible to be be a decent person and practice psychiatry. But you would have to not lie to, coerce, threaten, demean or dehumanize even a single one of your patients. And you would have to be reasonably certain that anything you wrote or any referral you made would not offer the patient up to workers who might do these things.

    If you didn’t like a patient or what they were doing you would tell them. You would judge their behavior rather than theorize about their neurochemistry.. You would fire them or else do what Lecter did.

    • Just as the NARSAD (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia And Depression), now the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, came up with 10 myths about mental illness in 2001 based on survey results partly in response to an essay, The Myth of Mental Illness, published in 1960 by Thomas Szasz. So, too, the psychiatric establishment has tried to make anti-psychiatry, the word, an adjective for what they see as a discredited school of thought. This may be a big joke on their behalf, but it is also a matter of quelling criticism. In some respects they have been too successful. Sooner or later, the truth needs an outlet.

      Some of these psychiatrists and their puppets have come up with the term pro-psychiatry to describe themselves, their supporters, and anybody who is not what they see as anti-psychiatry. Fine and dandy, but then here come the facts. “Mental illness” rates, psychiatric disability rates, are sky rocketing. There is absolutely no question that some of this rise in the “mental illness” rate is due to the over-diagnosing of psychiatric conditions and the over-drugging of patients. Poor youths and adolescents are labeled and drugged at a much higher rate than other segments of society. This is a socio-economic matter concerning the way we treat unwanted throw-away people. Psychiatrists have become pitchmen for a trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry. Sell drugs, and you sell “mental illness”. Sell “mental illness”, and you sell “mental illness” treatment (psychiatry), too.

      People in the mental health system lived lives almost as long as everybody else before the advent of neuroleptic drugs in the 1950s. Since the advent of neuroleptic drugs studies have shown people in the mental health system to be dying on average at an age 10-15 years younger than the general population. Since the advent of atypical neuroleptic drugs in the 1990s, studies show this mortality gap to have risen to 25 years less life. This is the concrete result of your pro-psychiatry business! I’d say there is still a lot of room left for criticism of it. Apparently, given the recent debate over the revisions of the DSM-5, a lot of other people feel the same way I do. Many of these same critics though say you can go so far but don’t go any farther or you’re–anti-psychiatry! Anti-psychiatry is more bug-a-boo than anything else. Some people really aren’t in the psychiatry business.

  2. For some reason I feel like commenting on your last post because you’ve removed it.

    • I still have it, Rod, and I can put it back. I thought the last two or three posts were more important, and I was also thinking maybe someone else might want to comment. I’m still debating whether to re-post the last post, or just go with something else. I figured I wanted to give people a little time to digest what I was saying, too. If you think it’s worth commenting on, I can simply re-post.

  3. I’ve never actually met anybody in the survivor movement who called themselves “anti-psychiatry” – I think it’s just a label applied by those who don’t like to hear the truth about how psychiatry has harmed people. I do like your approach to “non-psychiatry.”

    • I’m never sure what to call myself really. Sometimes I feel like referring to myself as a closet anti-psychiatry proponent (anti-psychiatrist?). I feel critical psychiatry isn’t always critical enough.

      As for ‘anybody in the survivor movement’? I’ve met a few people who would probably–we won’t say qualify–be rather happy with the title. In Canada, for instance, there is a Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault. The CAPA website has a fact sheet on the subject of anti-psychiatry:

      Fact Sheet

      Don Weitz, a prominent psychiatric survivor anti-psychiatry activist and radio talk show host, is big in CAPA I believe.

      David Cooper, deceased, a psychiatrist associate of RD Laing, deceased, coined the modern usage of the term. RD Laing was none too fond of the term himself. Libertarian psychiatrist Thomas Szasz wrote a book bashing RD Laing and company, and trying to disassociate himself from the word as it is applied to today, with somewhat limited success. Anti-psychiatry, a discredited school of thought in the view of biological psychiatry, and bandied about by adherents of biological psychiatry, has been used to fortify their position vis-a-vis other branches of medicine, and to silence their critics.

      I usually say, “We are not anti-medication, we are pro-choice”. Off record, I think that when it comes right down to it, people would be a lot better off if psychiatrists ceased peddling psychiatric drugs altogether. I worry sometimes, hopefully not excessively, about adopting too soft a line when it comes to psychiatric drugs and treatment junkies.

      The problem of these false and growing epidemics, created by the psychiatric profession in collusion with the pharmaceutical industry, is big and growing bigger. Sometimes I think it’s not enough to become a psychiatric survivor activist, one must also become an anti-psychiatry activist.

      It is unrealistic to think that whatever it is that get’s labeled “mental illness”, that is, overwhelm, disorientation, etc., is going to just go away. People are going to have problems, and find themselves in untenable positions without feasable available escapes in the distant future, too. Getting rid of psychiatry is not going to keep people from experiencing breakdowns. I definitely don’t think the psychiatrist though is necessary when it comes to finding a way to recover people who undergo such breakdowns. I also figure that the psychiatrist is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the people that are expendable in this regard.

  4. mindfreedomvirginia, I’m in complete agreement with you that what gets labeled as “mental illness” is not going to go away even if psychiatry were dismantled. The many causes of extreme emotional distress are not the result of non-existent biological brain diseases, and psychiatry does not know how to address them. But while I personally believe that psychiatry is not the answer, I don’t think it’s strategically useful to use the term “anti-psychiatry” and similar loaded terms in advocacy, because when people hear these kind of ideographs, they don’t listen to what comes after these red-flag words. Similarly, even though I’m against capitalism and imperialism, I wouldn’t call myself an anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist in public debate, because this kind of language makes it easy for the opposition to dismiss one as a crackpot without listening to the content of one’s argument.

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