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.

Psychiatrists’ Say The Darnedest Things – 6/17/13

If I were going to include a periodic quote from the media on my blog, and I might eventually do so, the following might be a good place to start.

As part of a HuffPost Book Club discussion on the book that took place last year, Matthew Erlich, MD, a psychiatrist-researcher at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in the Division of Mental Health Services, told us that Caulfield would probably have been committed to a secure unit as a manic depressive at the time of the book.

This snippet was snipped from, Holden Caulfield Diagnosis: Psychiatrist Discusses Salinger’s Classic Character (VIDEO), Huff Post Books.

The main protagonist of the Catcher in the Rye, a great coming of age and prep-school novel, that many of us experienced first hand while growing up, has been reduced to a species of nervous disorder. Thank heaven Holden saw no reason to check himself into a psychiatric facility, huh? On the other hand, this scenario suggests alternate plot lines. What if J. D. Salinger had come up with a different twist? Holden could have been snatched up by the psychiatric authorities, and the mental patients’ liberation movement–it’s all anti-psychiatry to true believers–might have welcomed another fictional hero into their midst beyond the misbegotten, doomed, and mischievous Randle Patrick McMurphy from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Did I say, “might have“? Without rereading the novel, here’s what the wikipedia Catcher in the Rye page says.

Holden makes the decision that he will head out west and live as a deaf-mute. When he mentions these plans to his little sister Monday morning, she wants to go with him. Holden declines her offer, which upsets Phoebe, so Holden decides not to leave after all. He tries to cheer her up by taking her to the Central Park Zoo, and as he watches her ride the zoo’s carousel, he is filled with happiness and joy at the sight of Phoebe riding in the rain. At the conclusion of the novel, Holden decides not to mention much about the present day, finding it inconsequential. He alludes to “getting sick” and living in a mental hospital, and mentions that he’ll be attending another school in September; he relates that he has been asked whether he will apply himself properly to his studies this time around and wonders whether such a question has any meaning before the fact. Holden says that he doesn’t want to tell anything more, because surprisingly he has found himself missing two of his former classmates, Stradlater and Ackley, and even Maurice, the pimp who punched him. He warns the reader that telling others about their own experiences will lead them to miss the people who shared them.

Emboldened emphasis added.

Did you get that? Holden Caulfield was a mental patient. The mental hospital experience was his experience. Perhaps he’s still with our movement at this present moment. If it’s not too ‘schizoid’ a thing to say, I think I saw him in 2012 at the protest outside the APA convention in Philly I attended.

The Extraterrestrial Checklist

I’ve had a few people recommend for me to read Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test, but I have no desire to do so. Everything I’ve read about this book tells me that it doesn’t speak to me. Frankly, I have had enough of labeling people so-called psychopaths, what with the demonizing that takes place every time a suspect of an alleged crime comes up for trial. Maybe it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote, “They’re not like us.”

LeftLion, whatever that is, apparently feels differently. The following Q&A is from Jon Ronson – LeftLion’s favourite journalist, in conversation with James Walker.

The Psychopath Test highlighted the flaws of constructing a checklist to determine this mental condition but as a society we have to do something to protect us from them. What did you learn?

Suddenly we’re in this little us and them dichotomy involving society and, I imagine, anti-society.

It’s impossible to come up with a simple answer but I think psychopaths exist. There’s no doubt about that; whether they’re born or made I don’t know. But they definitely exist. It’s a real condition and they’re dangerous because they’ve got no empathy, so there’s no talking sense to them. Yet, when this psychopath checklist is out in the world, if it’s misused, and I certainly have been a misuser of it (laughs), it can be a really dangerous thing. You can reduce a person to a checklist and obviously that’s no good. So there’s no definitive conclusion to draw, which is a good thing. But when it comes to mental health both extremes cause terrible, terrible trouble and when I say both extremes I mean the anti-psychiatry movement who think that mental illnesses don’t even bloody exist and the psychiatry mainstream. In a way they’re both as flawed as each other and you have to try and find a sensible grey area in the middle.

Psychiatry and anti-psychiatry are extremes…Yeah, right, and that leaves everybody else to come up with their own conclusions.

In the first place, there is no anti-psychiatry movement proper. Anti-psychiatry was a term coined by David Graham Cooper, a psychiatrist, that was never really even picked up by his colleagues and associates. Instead it’s this word biological medical model psychiatry, the predominate school of psychiatry today, would use to stifle it’s critics. Criticism, and the more criticism the more so, is equated with this mostly fictional anti-psychiatry movement. Anti-psychiatry, meaning anything other than biological psychiatry, has been proclaimed discredited by biological psychiatry. Furthermore, disagreeing with the Church of Biological Psychiatry is accounted heresy by the Church of Biological Psychiatry. Heretics from the Church of Biological Psychiatry are subject to impromptu and spontaneous, if inconsequential, diagnosis.

As for existence, the boogieman exists, he just might not be the boogieman that’s keeping your nightlight burning, Mr. Ronson. Sleep tight. Watch out for little pink elephants while you’re at it.

Living My Life Without ‘Mental Illness’

I don’t have a “mental illness”. I don’t have multiple “mental illnesses”. I don’t see a doctor who says I have any “mental illness”. If I did see such a doctor, it would still be my big secret. I think there are some things you should never discuss with a member of the psychiatric profession, and that is just one of those things. If I felt I had a “mental illness”, or if I wanted a “mental illness”, as some people seem to do, the situation would be different. Psychiatrists dispense “mental illness” labels, and the pills used to treat such labels, as if they were candy. Doing so, I would imagine, fits the psychiatrist job description as it is defined today pretty much to a tee.

The literature these days seems to suggest that there is a “stigma” against seeking treatment for a “mental” condition. What this literature seldom goes into is that much of the treatment going on today, as it was yesterday, is unsought and unwanted. It is coercive treatment given by way of court order to a person who somebody found annoying, and who doesn’t want that mental health treatment imposed on him or her. Unfortunately there aren’t so many people saying that we should end forced treatment so that the only people in treatment are those who want to have such treatment. This leaves the person who disagrees with forced treatment with a limited number of choices. Released from confinement he or she can either join the chorus of people crying for more and more treatment reputedly to end “stigma”, he or she can vanish into a quiet but unmolested and ignoble obscurity, or he or she can speak out on behalf of all those who are treated against their will and wishes.

The first path was always out of the question for me on account of the fact that I could never be so dishonest. I know there is much incentive, after forced and life disrupting psychiatric interventions, for choosing the second path, but I have chosen the third, and I would imagine more arduous path. Why? I think the value of one brave soul surpasses that of a thousand cowardly souls when it comes right down to it. A number of us feel that that violence that the state uses on people deemed to be of unsound mind is quite literally torture. This torture amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in a circumstance where no crime has been committed. Persuading the victim of this torture that torture is treatment, and that treatment is a necessary “good”, gives the torturer quite an edge over his detractors I would say. It cannot, for instance, as in this case, be said that oppression takes place without the acquiescence of the oppressed. I, for my part, aim to acquiesce as little as possible.

When I was first introduced to psychiatric treatment I was wary of psychiatric drugs not because they were dangerous but because they made me feel miserable. Learning, as I have learned, that these drugs do damage to people, and that the misery I felt was indicative of their destructive nature, I have not become any less wary of their usage. I have in fact become an advocate for non-compliance to treatment plans because of the damage wreaked by these drugs. This is only the beginning though when it comes to my complaints about conventional psychiatry. Some of us, and I include myself in that category, have better things to do with our lives than waste our days in mental health limbo. Some of us had rather be leading a purposeful existence. When it comes to this purposeful existence, we don’t need a psychiatrist telling us just what that purpose should be. We can figure these things out for ourselves.

Imagine a psychiatric label. Imagine a pair of scissors. With a couple of snips from the scissors imagine the psychiatric label divorced from the human whose neck it hung around. Imagine this psychiatric label lying by its lonesome. Imagine freedom. I don’t have to imagine that freedom any more because that freedom is mine. The label had no magic hold over me, and it wasn’t attached by super(crazy)glue. It was only a matter of words in a text on some mental health professional’s bookshelf. I have my own words. I can put the dictionary to work for my own ends, too. I don’t need to be debilitated by language. I don’t need to be removed from any meaningful dialogue and social context. I don’t need to be exiled from the community at large. I am not logically challenged, nor am I communication dysfunctional. I don’t have a “major” or a “minor mental illness”. I don’t know about you, but me, hey, I’m Okay.

Fifty Years Down And Maybe A Clockwork Brown Could Use A Little Touch Up

I have for awhile now been doing almost daily internet searches for the appearence of the term anti-psychiatry in the news. In most instances this word is used as an expression of disparagement, or as an example of a trend from which a journalist or a blogger wishes to disassociate him or herself. If trend it is, it isn’t a very popular trend. These are the primary instances in which the term makes an appearance. There is another instance, too, when the term puts in an appearance, and that is when psychiatrists use the term themselves. Here the term is being used to scapegoat critics of conventional psychiatry. Anti-psychiatry is the great bug-a-boo of mainstream psychiatry today. It doesn’t have much of a substantial existence, and yet psychiatry feels a need to defend itself from this amorphous and mysterious malevolent force it feels is being directed against itself. Anti-psychiatry Disorder is the great white whale of a ‘sickness’ the contemporary megalomaniacal mad Dr. Ahab feels most challenged by.

When it comes down to it, I think there is very little difference between anti-psychiatry and non-psychiatry. Non-psychiatry is basically indifferent to, and not in need of, psychiatry. I think non-psychiatry has a great future. Anti-psychiatry, on the other hand, is more dependent on psychiatry. Anti-psychiatry is antipathetic to psychiatry, and this creates no end of problems for psychiatrists. Its future is tied up with the future of psychiatry. I don’t think it very ironic at all that a psychiatrist came up with the term anti-psychiatry. Disciples of Christianity came up with the beast 666, the Anti-Christ, to describe the nemesis and antithesis of their own faith. Atheism is altogether another creature entirely. Faith is the key-word here, and faith is not a matter for scientific inquiry. Science itself demands a certain amount of healthy skepticism.

Recently Dr. Edward Shorter, a psychiatrist, a historian, and a critic of critics of contemporary psychiatric practice co-authored with Susan Belanger, another partisan of coercive treatment, an article for the Oxford University Press blog, Anti-psychiatry in A Clockwork Orange. A Clockwork Orange is turning 50. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, another classic, achieved 50 not so long ago as well, but these two experts were not so enthused about celebrating that momentous occasion.

Political interest in behavioural programming is represented by the Minister of the Interior (whom Alex nicknames Minister of the Inferior, or — in a nod to the truncations of George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 — Int Inf Min). The “Min” visits the prison to implement the treatment in order to fight crime “on a purely curative basis. Kill the criminal reflex.” He reappears as Alex’s “cure” is demonstrated and boasts to the media about government efforts to suppress “young hooligans and perverts and burglars.” In fact the police are now recruiting former hooligans to rough up whomever they choose and round up enemies of the Government, an agenda suggested by the Minister’s earlier comment about clearing the prisons for “political offenders.” This combination of political tyranny and abusive (Pavlovian!) conditioning in a future Britain where adolescent thugs speak a mixture of Cockney rhyming slang, archaisms, and anglicized Russian (“Propaganda. Subliminal penetration,” a doctor suggests) creates an additional sinister note that would have been especially potent in the Cold War era when A Clockwork Orange was published.

Now if we interpret this work in the way that Dr. Shorter and Ms. Belanger interpret this work it has something to do with the cold war era in which it came out. What neither of them are looking at is the way this work relates to the increasing medicalization of life taking place in our own time. After calling insulin shock, metrasol therapy, and ECT used extensively durring the 1930’s “highly effective”, a claim I find highly dubious. The authors point out ECT gained popularity in the 1950s. Then we get this paragraph.

Beginning in the 1950s, a series of revolutionary drug treatments arose: antipsychotics, antidepressants and anxiolytics. So widespread was their use that, by the time Burgess penned Clockwork, they had become the subjects of cocktail party chitchat. Medical psychotherapy, which had ruled the roost in previous decades, was wobbling (the Brits never had much interest in Freud’s psychoanalysis) and was about to be pushed out the door. All these innovations lent themselves marvelously to being parodied, sent up, and pulled down by scornful novelists.

This is hardly the end of the story. Those revolutionary treatments didn’t turn out to be so revolutionary after all. This psychiatric drug treatment revolution has lead, rather than to an end of “psychosis” in our lifetime as was hoped, to the favoring of drug maintenance over any approach emphasizing the possibility and hope of achieving complete recovery from, say, the youth, immaturity and thuggish nature exhibited by the chief protagonist of A Clockwork Orange, Alex. People in mental health treatment are also dying off at an earlier age than the rest of the population because of these drugs. Rather than eluding the “laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation”, those “laws and conditions” are incorporated into a lifetime prescription drug taking regimen.

I’d say the times haven’t changed so much as these mental health professionals would envision them to have changed, and maybe the Anthony Burgess classic novel, and the movie based on that novel, could use a serious update to illustrate how similar the treatments parodied in his book are to treatments still being practiced on a widescale and regular basis today.

Top 25 Unwritten Mental Health Book Titles

1. Kicking the Bipolar Habit

2. Mental health recovery without drugs

3. Making a molehill out of a molehill

4. How to prevent a mental ill health epidemic

5. After schizophrenia after bipolar disorder after depression

6. Erasing the stigma against mental wellness

7. Mental health for dummies

8. I lost a mental illness, and you can, too.

9. Psychiatry exposed psychiatry debunked

10. Resilience as a lost art

11. Mental health system survival guide

12. Life beyond the mental health clinic

13. The mental illness joke book

14. Taking the illness out of mental

15. I’m Okay. You’re mental.

16. How to make an income

17. Kicking the disability benefit habit

18. Finding yourself in the manual of imaginary illnesses

19. The how to guide of mental health recovery

20. Freedom of thought from the mental health field

21. Mental hospitals inside and out

22. Deconstructing mental disorder diagnoses

23. People without labels

24. Beating the odds, eluding statistical analysis

25. Taking the exit from doom

& for good measure

26. Making friends and keeping them: the social skills handbook

The Big Lie: About Us Without Us

I know of this attorney in Virginia. His official title is Regional Human Rights Advocate. In such a capacity he serves people in the mental health system in that state. He has been known to give presentations at outpatient and inpatient facilities around the area. He has given presentations, inspired by Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly successful people, on what he refers to as The Seven Principles of Effective Self-Advocacy. Given that people within the mental health system often don’t understand the law, and their rights under that law, this kind of instruction can be a very good thing to have.

Often in some mental health literature you will read where people with psychiatric labels are referred to as “voiceless”. You will also see where they are lumped among what are referred to as America’s, or even the world’s, “most vulnerable citizens”. Are they actually “voiceless”? No, it’s just nobody has bothered to ask them about their wants and desires. Are they actually a segment of the world’s “most vulnerable population”? It probably varies from individual to individual. Given enough gumption, no, there are people who are much closer to death and eclipse than most of the people being treated, or mistreated, for mental health issues. The problem here then is one of these people wondering what the heck to do with those people.

There is a saying and slogan among people in the Disabilities Rights Movement that goes, “Nothing About Us Without Us!” When one claims to be speaking for other people, without those other people being present, we have to ask whose interests are actually being served. We don’t know whether this group or that group is truly being represented until we hear from members of the group itself. When any members of the group can express their own concerns, the need for an intermediary to express those concerns for them has vanished. Should such an prophylactic mediation persist, we have to question the motives of the intermediary.

There are many untruths in the current literature on mental health, but I don’t think there is any bigger untruth than this assumption that a psychiatric label magically takes away capacity, or perhaps, more pointedly, that a psychiatric label strips us of our connection to the rest of the human species. The implication is that somehow the very thing that makes a person human has been lost through the act of applying a label to that person. Humans can speak for themselves. They aren’t animals. The capacity to communicate, in fact, is the very thing that separates us from many species lower down on the evolutionary tree. People labeled “mentally ill” are usually not mute, nor are they incapable of intelligible speech.

The less people who have known the mental health system from the receiving end are listened to, the more distance the great lie that somebody must do their speaking for them gets. This is a dangerous lie. People are buried under this lie, real people. The great lie, in fact, takes lives. It takes the best of life, and it takes what makes life important. Your life is reduced to the words of a person who claims to represent you, and a person who doesn’t represent you in actual fact. He or she doesn’t think you should be speaking in your own words and from your own personal experience. He or she thinks he or she should be telling other people how to best respond to you. He or she has replaced you with a big fat lie.

Advocating for the suppression of people’s rights in the mental health system is often confused with advocating for the rights of people in the mental health system. When people who have endured the system themselves become advocates, no such confusion is possible. The system right now is incorporating the use of certified Peer Support Specialists into its operations. Sometimes these Peer Support Specialists are not nearly so rights savvy as they ought to be. We’re not talking patient rights, or even mental health consumer rights, either. Out of that kind of talk you get the right to treatment without a corresponding right to refuse treatment. We’re talking human rights. We’re talking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All three of these rights are jeopardized by that psychiatric assault known as coercive mental health intervention. When the voices denied these rights, have been permitted a chance to speak in support of these rights, then and only then will you know that progress is being made.

My ten-cents on the DSM-5 debate debacle, part 2

I was going to drop the DSM-5 discussion last week, but another article came to light, and I just couldn’t do it. Sorry. This time its an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, Not Diseases But Categories of Suffering.

It’s not the current A.P.A.’s fault. The fault lies with its predecessors. The D.S.M. is the offspring of odd bedfellows: the medical industry, with its focus on germs and other biochemical causes of disease, and psychoanalysis, the now-largely-discredited discipline that attributes our psychological suffering to our individual and collective history.

Actually the delusion of the APA is that the DSM will resolve this conflict, it’s revisionist editors from the very beginning have been the very people behind ‘the discrediting’, mentioned in the above paragraph, of psychoanalysis.

The American Psychiatric Association has been trying to do just that ever since, mostly by leaving behind ideas about the meaning of our suffering in favor of observation and treatment of its symptoms. In 1980, it hit on the strategy of adopting a medical rhetoric, organizing those symptoms into neat disease categories and checklists of precisely described criteria and publishing them in the hefty — and, according to its chief author, “very scientific-looking” — D.S.M.-III.

The pathologizing of human suffering, and not suffering symptomatic of any known physical disease, but rather that suffering which can be said to have arisen from emoting and thinking. Types of suffering are seen as disease manifested through a variety of symptoms.

Previously I stated that this process was a matter of normalizing medicalization, and this is so, what we’ve got here is medicine’s incursion into areas that, strictly speaking, are specifically not medical, and specifically not science.

In this Op-Ed piece we read the following, “And as any psychiatrist involved in the making of the D.S.M. will freely tell you, the disorders listed in the book are not “real diseases,” at least not like measles or hepatitis. Instead, they are useful constructs that capture the ways that people commonly suffer.” I wonder why does so much of the mental health industry rhetoric and literature insist then on stating that “mental illnesses” are real, that they are real diseases, and not only that they are real diseases, but that they are diseases of the brain. We’re stuck with an either/or that would be a both/and, but…Hey, whatever stretch you can come up to resolve that one has got to break on close examination.

My feeling has always been that this clamor is going to fizzle to a uncomfortable grumble once the volume is released in 2013. If such is the case it will be unfortunate indeed. For years now we’ve been uncomfortably enduring the fruits of the DSM-IV. Those fruits are these growing epidemics of autism, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and depression. My feeling is that as the DSM usually works by division and addition rather than subtraction (starting with 28 mental disorders, now you’ve got something like 374) the 20 % USA labeled “mentally ill” rate is likely to go up rather than down.

The DSM has been referred to as the psychiatrists’ bible. The bible is the number 1 best selling book of all time. The DSM is doing none too poorly itself.

On the other hand, given that the current edition of the D.S.M. has earned the association — which holds and tightly guards its naming rights to our pain — more than $100 million, we might want to temper our sympathy. It may not be dancing at the ball, but once every mental health worker, psychology student and forensic lawyer in the country buys the new book, it will be laughing all the way to the bank.

‘Laughing all the way to the bank’ together with drug company executives riding piggyback on this volume of sheer non-sense. The mortality gap for people in treatment labeled with psychosis is widening, not narrowing. This mortality gap is the direct result of our societies over reliance on the quick and chemical fix. The quick and chemical fix is one of the results of using this balderdash to treat people who suffer. At one time we as a nation were a lot better off where our emotional stability was concerned, and at that time there was no DSM. We could be a lot better off again if we were to chuck the present volume into the trash heap now, and call off any future revisions. The internal national enemy of a rising “mental illness” rate is not going away anytime soon as long as this book is used to alienate, marginalize, and disempower an increasingly large segment of the American populace.

My ten-cents on the DSM-5 debate debacle, part 1

I happened to leave the following comment under the Miriam-Webster definition for normalize recently.

While psychiatrist Allen Frances is critical the DSM revising process for medicalizing normal, I’m more critical of the same process for normalizing medicalization.

I stand by those words.

Allen Frances is to be praised for the position he has taken toward the DSM-5, no three ways about it.

His position towards the great bug-a-boo of psychiatry, anti-psychiatry, is quite another matter. I imagine all shrinks should have an office trashcan with the label “anti-psychiatry” taped to it. Anti-psychiatry has been totally discredited in the eyes of mainstream psychiatry. This is something of a joke as there is no co-ordinated anti-psychiatry movement to speak of anywhere that I know of. There is this person and that, and there are a few people here and there. Anti-psychiatry has become the whopping lie of mainstream psychiatry. Anti-psychiatry is one of the ploys mainstream psychiatry would use to reinforce its claim to scientific legitimacy, to maintain its theoretical hegemony, to silence its critics, and to stifle dissent among the rank and file. Anti-psychiatry has become psychiatry’s strawman and scapegoat. The other scapegoat being its clientelle. The message given is something along the lines of, ‘Be a good little compliant poster-board mental health consumer or the anti-psychiatrist will get you if you don’t watch out’.

This brings me to Jon Ronson, the author of The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stare at Goats. He was featured in a CBC News analysis recently, Are we over-diagnosing autism? The psychiatric debate.

Dr. Frances told Ronson that he and his associates had created three false “epidemics” — childhood bi-polar disorder, autism and ADHD.

I’d say there are at least 4 false epidemics at work here, to be more precise, and throw in depression. Let me mention a few of the obvious reasons for doing so. 11 % of the people in the USA, the world’s leader in “mental illness” labeling today, are on anti-depressant drugs. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the leading cause of disability in the world by the year 2020. Depression is often seen as the underlying basis for other “mental disorder” labels, from the minor “mental disorder” leagues to the majors.

I have little desire to read Jon Ronson’s book, and the following comment should suffice to help explain my reasoning.

“I looked at all three and out of the three, the only one I felt comfortable about [excluding] was childhood bi-polar disorder. That seemed quite open and shut,” Ronson said. “Aspergers is a much more complicated thing.”

He likes those “mental illness” labels, doesn’t he?

I can picture members of the American Psychiatric Association clapping Mr. Ronson on his back, and inviting him onto their revision committee. From the look of recent revision efforts it would seem that most of the APA are in relative agreement with him about a number of matters. This man is not exactly a critic of psychiatry, quite the reverse. For an author, he’s been bought and sold. If the drug companies don’t have enough puppets working for them these days, I’m sure they would have no objections to welcoming another.

Although I can picture it, I really don’t see it happening any time soon. What if Mr. Ronson should dig just a little bit deeper? What if he should uncover some of the skeletons in psychiatry’s closet? What if he should reach the unbearable truth? What then? Nope, biological psychiatry has known enough turn coats and whistle blowers in its day. Freedom of speech is not, and never will be, the industry’s forte’. Freedom of speech will, in some instances, get you a psychiatric label. It could even get you thrown into the looney bin.

On finding another illness with little or no basis

One headline struck my consciousness as curious in recent weeks for exposing certain blatant weaknesses in current biological psychiatric theory. WebMD covered the story with an article titled, CDC: Morgellons Disease May Be Psychiatric Disorder. The truth of the matter is a little more profound than this headline suggests.

Extensive study of people suffering from Morgellons disease — including analysis of their mysterious “skin fibers” — finds no underlying cause of the illness.

If no physical cause to a disease can be found then it is deemed to be psychological in nature or, in other words, a “mental illness”. Now going from saying that it is “all in the head” to claiming it is a “disease of the brain”, and that it has a “genetic basis”, is quite some leap, but this is precisely the kind of leap, in presumption more than theory, that modern medical-model psychiatry is so adept at making. “Brain disease” being a physical cause, if “mental illness” were found to stem from a “brain disease”, psychiatrists would need to find another profession. Literally, a “mentally ill” person is a person who is suffering, or not functioning if you prefer, for a reason that has no known physical basis.

So just what the heck is Morgellons Disease?

Morgellons symptoms are as creepy as the name implies. Patients report slow-to-heal sores that often feel like bugs are crawling under their skin. They often scratch themselves raw. And they also report that mysterious colored fibers, granules, worms, eggs, fuzzballs, or other stuff comes out of their skin.

Somebody should make a list of dubious diseases someday, from fibromyalgia to restless leg syndrome, that give people with weak constitutions and temperaments an easy excuse for demanding special and specialized attention. I would wager it would become quite an extensive list in time if one looked long and hard enough into the matter.

Disease has not been ruled out in the case of Morgellons, but, and a long but it is…

They suggest that the patients’ symptoms and histories are similar to those of patients with a psychiatric condition called delusional infestation — the delusional belief that one is infested with parasites.

Now if these diseases, as there is no disease at all present, actually represent beliefs, it is actually this perceived need for a special or specialized attention that is the thing with which we must contend. I suggest that our society is not nearly as hearty as it once was due to the harboring of so many of these fallacious beliefs, and the humoring of so many people who have been so persuaded. When 1 in 5 people in the USA at the present date, according to recent reports, are said to be have contracted a “mental illness”, perhaps our efforts would be better directed at diverting a few more of this number from making such a radical conversion in faith.