Are Psychiatric ‘Diagnoses’ Defamatory Statements?

There’s an interesting article by Sonja Grover, PhD, CPsych, of Lakehead University, Ontario, Canada.  It’s titled:  Reification of psychiatric diagnoses as defamatory: Implications for ethical clinical practice.  Thanks to Becky on Twitter for the link.

It’s an old article (2005), but definitely deserves another look.  It was published in the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry.

Here’s the abstract:

“While the mental health professional generally has beneficent motives and an honest belief in the DSM diagnoses assigned to clients, such diagnoses may yet be defamatory when communicated to third parties. Mental health diagnoses invariably lower the individual’s reputation in the eyes of the community. At the same time, DSM diagnoses are but one out of a myriad of possible interpretive frameworks. DSM descriptors for the client’s distress thus cannot be said to capture the essence of the client’s personhood. When a diagnosis is published as if it captured a definitive truth about an individual psychiatric client, it is, in that important regard, inaccurate. That is, such a communication meets the criterion for a reckless disregard for the truth or an honest belief but without reasonable basis insofar as it is considered to be anything more than a working hypothesis. Hence, in certain cases, DSM labeling may constitute defamation.”

In my view, the fact that the “diagnoses” are spurious lends additional force to the defamation argument.

Here are some quotes from the article:

“Birchwood, Mason, and colleagues (1993) found that perceived stigmatization was a significant predictor of depression in persons diagnosed at some point with mental illness.”

“For instance, should an individual be regarded as untrustworthy and manipulative as a function of their ‘borderline personality’ diagnosis, this may affect employment prospects.”

“The label of ‘schizophrenic’ (even if qualified by the phrase ‘in remission’) may lead to inferences about a potential for future cognitive disintegration and associated lack of mental competence for those who come to know the diagnostic information.”

“It should be understood that the issue in this paper is not one of breach of confidentiality. Rather, the concern is with the potential defamatory nature of DSM diagnoses even when there is consent for communication of the diagnosis to particular others.  However, note that the consent may not be truly informed in that the full implications of having the diagnosis and of having it communicated to others may not be adequately understood by the client at the time he or she proffers their consent.”

“The client may even have provided consent for the sharing of diagnostic information prior to knowing what diagnosis if any, would ultimately be communicated.”

“As a consequence of the DSM diagnosis…the client, in effect, loses the freedom to redefine him or herself in future. For instance, once a schizophrenic, in practice, always regarded as a schizophrenic (even if ‘in remission’); once an alcoholic, always considered an alcoholic, but now perhaps a ‘recovering’ alcoholic, and so on. The psychiatric diagnosis thus comes to allegedly reflect something core and always latent in the individual.”

“Thus the self which is imposed via the DSM story may in fact be fictional and in important ways non-reflective of the lived experience of the subject so named…”

“The individual loses not only the freedom to redefine their essence apart from the diagnosis but also the freedom to assign their own meanings to their personal distress and experiences. Rather, these experiences are translated into symptoms devoid of personal meaning and these symptoms into diagnostic categories emanating at the root from some biologic cause over which the client has no control. The choice is to internalize the language of the therapist in assigning any meaning to the experience of ‘mental illness’ or to resist and be left with no one with whom to share any sort of social reality at all…”

Dr. Grover concludes by describing the DSM diagnosis as a defamatory label “…which negates the individual’s autonomous self apart from that self as conceptualized through the lens of the DSM.”  Justice, she reminds us, is a basic human need to which every person is entitled, and:

“Justice demands that communication of DSM categorical diagnoses as reified mental disease entities that accurately describe or explain the self of the individual so labeled should result in legal liability for the mental health professional publishing the diagnosis.”

This is an insightful and well-written article, which I highly recommend.  It identifies and describes in a comprehensive and coherent fashion the stigmatizing aspects of the APA’s labels.

Dr. Grover’s description of the DSM categories as legally defamatory is, for me at least, a new idea, and one with profound implications.

Please pass this article on.

 

  • Robert D. Stolorow
  • Phil_Hickey

    Robert,

    Thanks for coming in and for the link to a very interesting article. What’s ironic here is that on July 17 of this year, Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, President of the APA, accused those of us on this side of the debate of being Cartesian dualists! (You can read Dr. Lieberman’s article here.)

    Best wishes.

  • Robert D. Stolorow

    Thanks for your reply, Phil–glad you liked my little article.
    Best, Bob

  • Mary

    Is the DSM the updated version of the Malleous Maleficarum?

  • anonymous

    Misdiagnosis

    Two of my children were misdiagnosed by the same Psychiatrist. While my younger child was engaged with the Psychiatrist’s Team (essentially one person a Health Care Worker – incompetent) my daughter was brought in for a chat (she had been become a bit withdrawn; I feared that she was being bullied but I couldn’t get an answer and didn’t want to probe). After 20 / 30 mins chat I was called in (my daughter sent out) and I was told that my daughter had Asperger’s and to contact Aspire. Totally shocked I insisted on checks – which needlessly took 6 months and revealed that my daughter not only did not have the syndrome but was at the other end of the spectrum, i.e. that she was highly empathic, highly resilient way more advanced than her peer age group who wouldn’t catch up with her until they were 16 / 17. My sons engagement took four years – no assessment nor any help – he was opting out of learning. My husband and I had stated at the outset that he was way more advanced than his peers, with whom he tired of at times and he was bored in school – this is recorded on the agency’s file – but ignored. Years later he had educational testing (different agency) which revealed “exceptional intelligence, exceptional academic ability and seriously underachieving” Three years after that finding later during testing for learning blocks (another different agency – he was not engaging in learning – tests found that he had no educational blocks – For the purpose of this investigation I sought first agency’s records and was shocked to find that he had been diagnosed with O.D.D. Queries to the Psychiatrist proved fruitless – she couldn’t even give symptoms – she had carried out no checks and she had made the diagnosis 8 months after we had terminated engagement (engagement essentially with the Health Care Worker – we met the Psychiatrist a few times – but she was essentially in the background. She retired mid query and resigned registration from the
    Medical Council. A “Review”carried out recently ( not a Review in any real sense – No observations, no comments, no findings, etc. . All the evidence I supplied, i.e. all positive information such as school reports, Connors Questionnaire at age 8 -9 indicating very good behaviour were ignored ignored. No comments as to how Psychiatrist arrived at her diagnosis – no symptoms, nothing. All I got was reference to a meeting held with the Reviewer (where his account of irrelevant facts were wrong) and the only reference to my child’s diagnosis by the Reviewing Psychiatrist who happened to be the initial Psychiatrist’s Director was
    “ it was not possible for me to definitively confirm or refute the diagnosis … however it is my view that it was reasonable for Dr.xxxxxxx and the team to consider a diagnosis of ODD “ I queried this – setting out all my points and facts in a comprehensive letter. No response. Reminders sent – my e-mails blocked by Reviewing Psychiatrist.
    My son knows nothing about the diagnosis which was made public and had severe repercussions for him. Psychiatrists report copied to a G.P. Diagnosis made known by her to Principal – she denies this but Principal had made diagnosis public – I had been informed by someone at a house party – but thought at the time that informant was mistaken (Principal advised parents to discourage their children from
    associating with my child – children told my child but didn’t give reason – child has no idea why friends ostracised him. If I take legal action I will have to prove how my child was damaged by the diagnosis – how can I do that and how can I do that without telling my child and making the situation worse. Psychiatrists have more power than Courts of Law – they can make diagnosis without even knowing the child and or without having any information whatsoever. They can make diagnoses to order, eg. on the basis of a school teacher’s account – child nor parent has any say – that cant be right. Surely children have rights- why is there no law to protect them from the absolute rights of Psychiatrists and Psychologists?

  • Francesca Allan

    Don’t know how I missed this article before. Found this particular snicker-worthy: “For this noble mission, we have nothing to be defensive about.” And the ostensibly caring comment that mental illness is not a patient’s fault is just a twist on their real position which is that patients have no control over their minds. We are powerless in the face of our neurobiology and the only way out of our pain is through the loving ministrations of the noble doctors. Side note: Why does he say that we don’t criticize PTSD due to political correctness? I certainly do. In fact I did so recently (please see 3rd letter down on link) http://www.martlet.ca/opinions/letters-week-of-february-27/

  • Francesca Allan

    I’ve often wondered if the stupid !@#$% who wrote the article ever saw my letter and, if she did, whether she was the least bit embarrassed by the moronic position she put forth in her article. If she is representative of our new generation of university graduates, God help us.

  • Francesca Allan

    The principal encouraging other kids to ostracize yours is certainly emotional injury. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know if it’s actionable and I assume you’re in the USA but up here we have a Human Rights Tribunal which is separate and apart from the court system.

    If their position is that a child has a mental disability, then discriminating against them on that basis (even if you can’t quantify what that’s “worth” as a dollar amount) is punishable. Your story is appalling.

    Not surprised the reviewing psychiatrist was unwilling to correct earlier mistakes. They seldom are. I was wrongly diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder at a time when I was just furious at the system and very rude to nurses and doctors. Those medical records will never be corrected and will haunt me forever.

    My current doctor acknowledges that those were misdiagnoses yet he had to qualify it by saying they may have been reasonable at the time given the symptoms I was presenting. That is, of course, the risk one runs when diagnosis is based entirely on symptoms. The categories are fluid and arbitrary and thus meaningless.

    This flaw underlies the errors in all psychiatric research. Bipolar, schizophrenic, borderline, etc., etc., etc. are not valid operational definitions. So if you don’t even know what groups you are comparing, it’s not much use finding differences.

  • Blue

    ” I was wrongly diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder”

    By saying this I assume you believe there are people out there who are legitimately “diagnosed” with these labels.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Mary,

    There are many parallels. I have mentioned the witch-hunters’ manual here and here.

  • Francesca Allan

    You’ve made an assumption, not an inference. By “wrongly,” I merely meant that it was later corrected.

    I do in fact believe that there is such a thing as mental illness but I only use the word “illness” in the interests of shared language. I believe “disorder” is more accurate. Where I part company with psychiatry is their biological reductionism and their fluid and arbitrary diagnostic categories.

  • Francesca Allan

    Just to clarify, the corrective diagnosis was also incorrect. Perhaps I should have said instead that the earlier diagnoses were “changed.” I apologize for the confusion.

  • Blue

    I think your muddled answer speaks for itself. Maybe you should start calling everything this world you morally abhor a “cardinal sin” just to have a “shared language” with Catholics. Because we all know that everyone just reads your mind and can tell you “part ways with psychiatry on biological reductionism” when you regurgitate phrases like “wrongly diagnosed”. Not. I don’t believe you’re a clear communicator at all.

    You say you believe in “mental disorders”.
    You say you were “wrong diagnosed with a personality disorder”.

    OK, enough about you. How about you provide us with just one example of another person, a famous person, maybe a well known criminal, that you believe was “rightly” diagnosed with a “personality disorder”. And how do you suppose the “right” as opposed to “wrong” diagnosis of the “disorders” you believe exist are made?

  • Blue

    oh the second round of diagnoses, the “corrective diagnosis was also incorrect”. Do tell. How did you know? More to the point, how do you know the third round of “diagnoses” is correct?

  • Francesca Allan

    First of all, if you want a dialogue, may I suggest you try to be civil? Your tone is not setting the stage well. Anyway, leaving that aside, in respect of your points:

    1. Your Catholic analogy fails because there is no such thing as a cardinal sin. There are, however, disordered behaviours which are disruptive (and sometimes dangerous) enough to be termed disorders. Currently, the term used is mental illness which I acknowledge is a misnomer of course because the mind can’t get ill.

    2. Since I said so in plain English, one wouldn’t have to read my mind to know that I don’t support biological reductionism. The fact that you can’t grasp a person’s position in no way invalidates that position.

    3. I wouldn’t have to go far to find a criminal with a personality disorder. Our local serial killer Clifford Olson was clearly such a case.

    4. A right diagnosis is a reasonable and accurate label for the kinds of dysfunctional behaviour being seen. A wrong diagnosis is one that ought not to apply.

    As I said in my first paragraph, if you want to discuss this further (and I am happy to do so), you’ll have to drop the anger and snide dismissal of my point of view.

  • Francesca Allan

    The corrective diagnosis was incorrect because it was not supported by the facts. The third diagnosis (which wasn’t really the third because it had popped up many years earlier) was a much better fit. My extreme mood states were very dysfunctional. I engaged in all kinds of bizarre behaviour that were utterly out of character and had lasting negative consequences. I lost my job, home, marriage, many friendships, life savings, and clean criminal record, among other things.

    That I was suffering from a mental illness (psychological disorder) is beyond question. Where I part company with psychiatry however is how best to characterize the suffering and its cause. I never saw it as a brain disorder and I still don’t because there is no evidence for that assertion. In fact, there is much evidence opposing it.

    It’s a trite observation that the mind is reflected in the brain in every thought, idea, experience, etc. Sometimes, in rare and extraordinary circumstances in a psychiatric emergency where lives may be at stake, it is best to deal with the results (brain state) rather than the cause (mind). Please note I am talking about emergencies, i.e. on a short-term basis only.

    Once again, I’d like to gently remind you that if you want to engage in a rational discussion with me, I will insist that you do so in a civil fashion. Otherwise, I will not participate.

  • Mary

    Human Nature doesn’t change, only the parameters.

  • Mary

    How awful for you. The comment by your GP “they (misdiagnoses) may have been reasonable at the time, is an illogical reason for retaining a diagnosis. It may have been reasonable at the time for people to believe that the earth was flat – does that mean that the earth was flat at the time of their reasoning? It is not the medics reason that is in question; rather it is your state of mind – your behaviour reflected your state of mind and your state of mind reflected the misunderstanding, mishandling, mistreatment you were receiving, proper behaviour in the circumstances misrepresented as disorder. Some diagnosticians are not logical – and it is essential to have a logical brain – which successful lawyers have to had. If you and my children had been assessed by lawyers all would have fared better. My children weren’t even misbehaving – so there isn’t a screed of logic here – and even if you were misbehaving (behaviour that others simply don’t like is not misbehaviour) you would have had to have a pattern of illogical behaviour over time – that was not down to coping mechanisms – to be even considered as a disorder – not that there are any anyway. The insanity! The lunatics are running the Asylum. If you haven’t read Dorothy Rowe (a number of books – particularly Beyond Fear, have a look. I am awaiting her new book “Don’t Let the Bastards Win” out shortly

  • Phil_Hickey

    Anonymous,

    A “diagnosis” of Oppositional Defiant Disorder simply means that, in the opinion of the diagnoser, the child is persistently and frequently defiant. Here are the DSM-5 criteria for this so-called diagnosis:

    A. A pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from any of the following categories, and exhibited during interaction with at least one individual who is not a sibling.

    Angry/Irritable Mood

    1. Often loses temper.

    2. Is often touchy or easily annoyed.

    3. Is often angry and resentful.

    Argumentative/Defiant Behavior

    4. Often argues with authority figures or, for children and adolescents, with adults.

    5. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests from authority figures or with rules.

    6. Often deliberately annoys others.

    7. Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior.

    Vindictiveness

    8. Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months.

    Note: The persistence and frequency of these behaviors should be used to distinguish a behavior that is within normal limits from a behavior that is symptomatic. For children younger than 5 years, the behavior should occur on most days for a period of at least 6 months unless otherwise noted (Criterion A8). For individuals 5 years or older, the behavior should occur at least once per week for at least 6 months, unless otherwise noted (Criterion A8). While these frequency criteria provide guidance on a minimal level of frequency to define symptoms, other factors should also be considered, such as whether the frequency and intensity of the behaviors are outside a range that is normative for the individual’s developmental level, gender, and culture.

    B. The disturbance in behavior is associated with distress in the individual or others in his or her immediate social context (e.g., family, peer group, work colleagues), or it impacts negatively on social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    C. The behaviors do not occur exclusively during the course of a psychotic, substance use, depressive, or bipolar disorder. Also, the criteria are not met for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

    Specify current severity:

    Mild: Symptoms are confined to only one setting (e.g., at home, at school, at work, with peers).

    Moderate: Some symptoms are present in at least two settings.

    Severe: Some symptoms are present in three or more settings.

    * * * * * *

    There are two immediate issues. Firstly, the “diagnosis” is not an illness in any normal sense of the term. Secondly, all of the “symptoms” are subjective ratings and as such are subject to error.

    With regards to legal action, I’m not qualified to advise you, nor am I familiar with the system in your jurisdiction. In my opinion, a school principal who warns other parents to keep their children away from your son has a duty to inform you of what’s allegedly going on so that you can respond, investigate, etc., as appropriate. That just seems like basic procedure to me.

    As you’ve probably gathered from the website, I’m opposed to psychiatric “diagnoses” generally, but ODD is particularly problematic, in that it pathologizes ordinary childhood misbehavior. Also, as you can see from the criteria listed above, the specifier “severe” means that the misbehavior occurs in three or more settings. How would the school personnel know what your child was doing in settings other than the school? Are they just making assumptions?

    I hope that you can get some of these matters resolved.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Francesca,

    You’re correct. The great tragedy is that at present, a returning soldier’s “correct” response is to see a psychiatrist, accept his/her “diagnosis,” ingest the drug cocktail without complaint, and be happy ever after!

    What’s truly alarming is that the Defense Departments in the US and most other western countries are accepting this nonsense avidly. It’s business as usual.

    Best wishes.

  • anonymous

    Thanks, I am aware of the criteria. My son never had the traits of ODD. His school reports all showed good behaviour, as did his school behaviour Record. Connors Questionnaire at the appropriate age, 8-9 showed very good behaviour and a discussion between the agency and the school time said that his behaviour didn’t need observing as it was fine (he simply was not working to his ability) – bored in class. At the time of diagnosis his teacher described him as “outgoing very down to earth, very helpful to teacher, popular with most classmates, sits in class for days doing nothing”. Where is the O.D.D.? He is Gifted – a condition routinely misdiagnosed as O.D.D. A number of diagnosticians – two from the same agency – examined him and found nothing amiss – One commented that he had “a phenomenal understanding of people for a child his age, that I can see how teachers are bamboozled by him” and commended him for holding his ground and humour while engaged in a very open family discussion with the diagnostician where “his peer age group would have got up and left” The diagnosis is based on the School Principal’s word – an emotionally disturbed man with whom the family had issues.

  • Blue

    So you don’t take responsibility for a crime you committed is that correct?

    The opinion of someone that a behavior is disruptive doesn’t bring “mental illness” as a concept magically into existence. Fail again.

    I don’t want to hear anymore. It’s garbage.

  • anonymous

    Can a Psychiatrist make a diagnosis where no assessment nor diagnosis requested by or on behalf of patient, where Psychiatrist not even actively involved in engagement, merely happening to be part of the Agency’s Team. Agency initially called Child Guidance (and that is what was sought by parents) but name change to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services mid engagement?

  • Francesca Allan

    No, once again, you are completely incorrect. I was offered the not criminally responsible route and I declined it. You seem to think you have a clue what I’m talking about yet time and time again you demonstrate that you do not. You make unwarranted assumptions and appear to be unable to argue your case.

    I haven’t failed once in this debate between us, never mind failing again. You can scorn the language as much as you want, but dysfunctional behaviour can rise to the point where it is so disruptive that it warrants intervention. This is true whether you refer to that state as “mental illness” or “glonkinschpiel.” The label is irrelevant.

    If you don’t want to hear anymore, then stop spouting off about things of which you have no knowledge.

  • Francesca Allan

    I appreciate your support, Mary. I’ve heard of those books and they’re on my must read list but it’s a long, long list 🙂

  • Francesca Allan

    Certainly. There was a recent case in the news where a mental health professional (not sure what kind) diagnosed a woman with borderline personality disorder when he had never even met her. Worse still, he was treating the woman’s spouse at the time.

    Here in BC, our mental health legislation is so draconian that the 2nd psychiatrist in the commitment process need not lay eyes on the patient before declaring that the 1st psychiatrist’s assessment of incompetence is correct.

  • anonymous

    The symptoms listed for this “disorder” are all normal behavioural reactions. Note the word reaction. All behaviour is a response to a stimulus. The first port of call is to establish to what stimulus the child is reacting?

    (also all behaviours are learned – is it not the person who taught the child how to behave, as opposed to the child, who should be checked for disorder?)

    If a child reacts to a nettle sting, is the child wrong, is the nettle wrong or is the combination of child and nettle wrong?

    If a child is living in a “nettle sting” environment and reacts to that environment as per the behaviours below, is the child wrong, is the environment wrong or is the combination of the child and the environment wrong.

    If an environment suits the majority are the minority disordered because the environment doesn’t suit them, eg. if most people want a routine nine to five job are the few who would prefer non routine work disordered?

    Angry/Irritable Mood

    1. Often loses temper
    2. Is often touchy or easily annoyed
    3. Is often angry and resentful

    (nobody chooses to be angry or resentful – what is causing the poor child to be so upset?)

    Argumentative/Defiant Behavior

    (what wrong, perceived wrong is the child battling against?)

    4. Often argues with authority figures or, for children and adolescents, with adults

    (why would a child have to argue often? Is the adult unreasonable?)

    5. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests from authority figures or with rules.

    (are the requests and rules fair – is the child being overcontrolled is child merely pushing out the boundaries?)

    6. Often deliberately annoys others.

    (is child being excluded?)

    7. Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior.

    (if a boy then he is a typical male on the way to being “Mr Right, first name Always”. If a girl then no harm in letting the males get the treatment they usually mete out. Who accepts Blame, the Guilty? No. Guilt is probably the strongest resistance against Blame

    Vindictiveness

    8. Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months.

    “Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months” – how could this be determined – most children fight back when they believe they have been wronged – is that being spiteful and vindictive – and then only twice – to be labelled with a Disorder.

    In all instances where a child is reacting – using coping mechanisms, the first port of call is the aspect of Safety. It is possible that the child is reacting against an unsafe environment (being bullied, being stigmatised, being abused), then go on from there. The exercise should be one of elimination of possible harms and dangers being posed to the child. The next step to check for intolerances ( a bright child will find boring routine intolerable, a sporty child will find restriction of physical activity intolerable, a textile sensitive child will find some uniform material intolerable.
    Unfortunately and insanely, the child is merely judged on behaviours, behaviours which an adult finds irritating – yet it may well be that it is low tolerance adult who has the problem / disorder. The diagnostician who judges on behaviour alone definitely has a disorder Resignation Compliance Disorder

  • Phil_Hickey

    Anonymous,

    Strictly speaking, no practitioner should make a “diagnosis” without seeing the individual face to face and, in most situations, also gathering pertinent information from family, significant others, etc…

    In practice, I believe that you will sometimes find instances where psychiatrists just sign off on documents that other people prepare, lending the weight and presumed respectability of their credentials to the “diagnosis” and “treatment” plan.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Anonymous,

    Congratulations! You are now a confirmed “psychiatry-basher.” And “ODD” is just the tip of the iceberg. Psychiatry’s mission is to medically pathologize any deviation from their perception of normal, and to sell drugs for the treatment. Thanks for expressing the matter so well.

    You’re always welcome to comment here, of course, but I
    strongly encourage you to start your own blog – specializing on the intrusion of psychiatric nonsense into the school setting.

    Best wishes.

  • anonymous

    Thank you Phil for your attention and encouragement

  • anonymous

    Psychiatrists have more powers than Courts of Law, don’t even need evidence, can write diagnoses to order. School teachers can phone up and order a diagnosis for a child, whom they simply dislike, who outsmarts them, etc. The child is not even seen nor examined. No right of appeal. Even when Psychiatrists breach confidence by making diagnosis public (even when diagnosis made known to everyone except child and family) the only legal redress is by proving that the child has been damaged by the diagnosis, i.e. that the child now has developed a condition as a result of the misdiagnosis, a condition even worse than the one diagnosed. It is well known that medicine has always been an allurement for sadists. however, I would imagine that usually the type of Psychiatrists who diagnose spurious disorders without any evidence simply lack empathy and or understanding and are very likely to be in the in the autistic spectrum (ASD persons can be suited to learning by rote and so generally can have very good memory retention capacity – thus can do very well academically, enabling them to go into professions requiring high empathy and understanding for which they are totally unsuited. It is obvious that a person who judges simply on the basis of behaviour (empathy misunderstood to be a set of behaviours) rather than judging on the reason for the behaviour is either ASD or is under the influence of something or someone). Regardless, Psychiatrists and all professionals are obliged to operate under “Duty of Care” under which they are at all times an Advocate for the patient, especially child patient – but this factor is completely overlooked. The patient, the child patient’s basic human rights are ignored (especially appalling in the case of the innocent little child). As it has always been and always will be – Suffer little children!

    No changes can be made until there is a shift from the wrong attitude that traits and or behaviours are either good or bad. A behaviour or trait cannot be either bad or good

    For instance the “virtue” loyalty (when being supportive of spouse and family) is equally a “vice” when concealing wrongdoing.

    The misbehavior of “lying” when covering up a wrongdoing is equally a good behaviour when protecting oneself or another for
    an assault

    The lauded “virtue” of meakness” is more often a vice as it presents as “appeasement” the most underhand, self-deceptive and
    self-serving of all evasions

    The equally lauded virtue of “compliance” is more often soul destroying resignation.

    How many people have been manipulated into being “virtuous”, eg. to be loyal to gang members, to be loyal to an abusive spouse, to be courageous by doing something reckless?

    Nobody should be judged on behaviours or traits.

    A Court of Law always asks for the reason for the behaviour and it is the reason and not the behaviour which is judged. Why are Psychiatrists allowed to take an opposing view of justice from the Courts, the Justice System – one has to be wrong and my money is on the Psychiatrists.

    Perhaps nobody should be judged anyway – because if we understood the reason for a person’s behaviour and or personality
    traits – we would realise that “There but for the Grace of God go I”. “Walk a mile in another’s shoes” before judging. Isn’t this the teaching of most religions. Why are Psychiatrists allowed to take the opposing view of justice from Religion, the upholder of morality – again one has to be wrong and again my money is on the Psychiatrists.

    We must stop the appalling practice of allowing troubled people and in particular innocent little children to be routinely judged or more accurately, misjudged and labelled by Psychiatrists and Psychologists.

    The appalling use of Checklists for children where “misbehaviours” are ticked by adults (whose trustworthiness unquestioned)

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’Stard

    One of the consequences of this labelling, in unison with its widespread acceptance amongst ordinary people and expert authorities, is that it reflects back a contemptible self-image to the recipient, whose view of himself is largely socially and culturally mediated, which in part explains why throughout history, consequent to the attachment of such labels, the persons so labelled have come to believe in the assumptions built into them. Such is the power of labels imposed by authority within a context of almost unanimous acceptance of their validity to profoundly alter the stories people tell themselves about themselves, and of course if this fails, as it sometimes does, those who desire it can always fall back on the expedient of force in an attempt to regulate a person’s self-narrative.

    As for the notion that in the minds of practitioners beneficent motives are sovereign or occupy a magisterial position in relation to others, this is common amongst critics who work in the profession and therefore have something of a conflict of loyalty which may bias their judgment in favour of explanations that relieve those whom they are in sympathy with (and sympathy for oppressors taken too far can be inimical to the cause of justice and the interests of their victims), of the burden of responsibility for their actions; or is common more generally amongst people who are not victims themselves, whose testimony continues to be for the most part disregarded in a society which, as ever, is biased in favour of the oppressors who, in my opinion, on this issue, are exploiting this bedazzlement and predisposition in favour of the usually perjured testimony (at least on issues pertaining to ther self-interests) of the powerful, to escape responsibility.

    Yes, there is some truth in the view that good intentions accommodate themselves all too easily to bad consequences, and no doubt even in the hearts of the cruelest there is to be found some vestigial trace of sympathy and compassion, and from my experience most of the psychiatrists and nurses I met weren’t possessed of an extraordinary propensity for cruelty, but this shouldn’t blind us to the fact that self-interest; willful ignorance and refusal to accommodate one’s thoughts and one’s conduct to disturbing information that threatens the self-concept; the enjoyment of power and lording it over other people which often attracts control-freaks or is discovered upon taking a job; the refusal to remove one’s cooperation from an evil system whose evil they thereby incarnate; the almost single-minded pursuit of a career; and a moral indifference and emotional estrangement, to people who lie outside our own circle of family and friends, symptomatic of our age (this being by no means an exhaustive list) are not what one could class as pure, beneficent motives, and it is my contention that that these perhaps reign over any of the more beneficent motives.

    Some will say that they do not know what they do. Certain things they do not want to know, and their desire to believe often, nay, usually, trumps the desire to see.

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’Stard

    That should be the “ingredients of pure, beneficent motives…”

  • anonymous

    Extremely well said.
    Glorified self-belief is a mental disorder. Is it listed in the DSM?
    Subservience to those in “Authority”, particularly to those in “Authority” suffering from Glorified self-belief is a more extreme mental disorder. Is it listed in the DSM?

  • anonymous

    Court Rulings are regularly and openly overturned on Appeal; overturned rulings are not considered a black mark against the original ruling judge – so what is the big deal about diagnoses – why can’t these be appealed in like manner? Is it because diagnoses unlike court rulings are not based on Facts but rather on the imaginings of the diagnostician. “Facts” can be disputed but a Psychiatrist’s personal imaginings are sacrosanct intrinsic part of the Psychiatrist. If a Psychiatrist’s judgment is so personal to the Psychiatrist, his judgment is obviously more about the Psychiatrist mindset than the patient’s. Then the Psychiatrist’s judgment merely perception as opposed to reality – as they say there is no reality only perception. Well then a simple solution, base diagnoses on Facts, i.e. the reasons for the behaviours, emotions.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Cledwyn,

    What’s particularly sad in all this is that the destructive power of negative labels has been known and documented for decades.

    I also believe, very strongly, that psychiatry’s embracing and expansion of its stigmatizing labeling system was not a genuine, honest error. Rather it was an error born and nourished in venality and self- interest.

    It is my hope that as psychiatry’s spuriousness and destructiveness are increasingly exposed, individuals and other professional groups will refuse to work with them. At the present time, psychiatry is scrambling to clean up their image. In that effort, they will do anything short of actually mending their ways!

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’Stard

    Too true.

    On the issue of psychiatric diagnosis, it was once said by someone called Feynman or something, to paraphrase, that science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.

    Psychiatry is the belief in the infallibility of experts, and is therefore its enemy. This simple fact provides a somewhat ironic commentary on the incessant wielding of the authority of science amongst the psychiatric faithful. People often love to attack others regarding the things most salient in themselves.

    Yes, deference to authority is one of the conditions in which evil proliferates, yet until people stop fellating power’s putrid, discoloured phallus, the chances of this truth gaining popular acceptance are zero.

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’Stard

    Many a quack would counter, drunk on the power and social prestige that comes with his job, something along the lines of “you can’t define mental illness out of existence, obliterate it with a sleight of logic” (which is kind of like saying you can’t define the flying spaghetti monster out of existence), as if there is something in the first place that is being defined out of existence, when in reality it only exists from the hallucinatory perspective of the psychiatric faithful.

    Nevertheless, irrationality is blind. As the proverb of the Mote and the Beam illustrates, sometimes one must be careful in judging others lest you be judged by the same standards. In dismissing others as delusional and detached from reality, they attack themselves with the very devices they contrive to destroy others, albeit without realizing it.

    The assertion that mental illnesses don’t exist is a priori true; mind is an abstract concept, diseases can only happen to things, and by virtue of this, a mind is in no way susceptible of disease. Yet because the experts, these oracles of truth, say so, almost everyone accepts it, and the rest of us are left with the invidious task of pointing out that there’s nothing there, only behaviours and experiences that deviate from the norm.

    As I say, irrationality is blind, which does apply to all of us, of course, but it has perhaps found fullest concentration in the minds of the psychiatric faithful. Rationality can be found to a greater or lesser degree in proportion to the extent to which one is intellectually humble or arrogant, inter alia. They are convinced that rationality is their special possession, the smug gits, and just as usually there are none so evil as those who think they are good as well as none so guilty as those who think they are innocent, there are none so irrational as those who think they are rational, who by virtue of this delusion (on whose basis they divide humanity along psychiatric lines, with them of course being on the right side of this divide), are incapable of perceiving those areas of their thought which lay bare their own irrationality.

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’Stard

    It is indeed a self-serving profession, made up, perhaps predominantly, of people who are the contemporary heirs to the tradition, bequeathed by totalitarian states of the past, of the bureaucrat who allows himself to be compromised through his willful entanglement in a Moloch-like system which sacrifices innocent lives on a huge scale.

    They are like holdovers from the Nazi era. Sorry if that sounds harsh or “extreme”, as some would say, but I sincerely believe that these are the kind of people who would allow themselves to get caught up in any form of systemic evil by virtue of the premium they place on certain values, such as respect for authority and willigness to conform to orders regardless, or with no thought, of the consequences, and their obsession with efficiency, success and power, as well as their willingness to become a part of a system that checks individual judgment and initiative, demanding that one become a mere depersonalized cog in a mechanism if one is to keep one’s job or advance one’s career (and there are seemingly many who would make such sacrifices). In terms of the enormity of what happened, Nazi Germany was pretty unique, but the underlying mechanisms that allowed it to happen are not.

    Psychiatrists would have us believe they are mostly motivated by the desire to improve the lot of people, but they are really functionaries, getting paid to do what they do, emotionally and experientially estranged from their clients and those whom they enslave, as well as estranged from the consequences of their labelling and “treatments”, only serving to facilitate the abuse.

    If they are ignorant, then their ignorance indicts them, because if they cared so much, they wouldn’t be ignorant. Not in an age like ours. After all, we are living in a age of unprecedented access to information, when no amount of williful ignorance and studious avoidance of disturbing information can be successful for long when one is personally involved in an issue, which is why psychiatrists and other culprits have to rely on a number devices to shield themselves from this information, such as stigmatizing, and questioning the motives of, the accuser; denial and distortion of the evidence; denial and shifting of responsibility, and any other the reader might care to add.

    The only people who can plead ignorance on this issue are those who are not directly involved in this issue and show no interest in it because it does not seem to implicate them and their private interests.

    Collectively as a profession, no more an ironic commentary on their so-called pledge to honour the interests of the patient above others could be found than those with which the history has furnished us, such as the decades long denial of the tardive dyskinesia scandal which still hasn’t led to a change in practice; and the withdrawal scandal, to name just a couple of the many examples that throw into sharper relief the self-serving nature of a profession that poisons its patients and then leaves them to rot, yet has the audacity to claim that the patient is merely the object of their concern and should be bloody grateful!

  • anonymous

    Surely most people have an innate sense of right and wrong Surely most people operate for the greater part under the maxim of “do as you would be done by”. isn’t that the essence of empathy? Don’t psychiatrists pride themselves on their superior ability to empathise and to understand? Doesn’t everyone like to think that they have very good ability to empathise and understand, to be a caring person? Isn’t that the essence of humanity, civilisation, to understand so as not to need nor want to harm another? Doesn’t that make life so much easier and happier. Newman said “A gentleman is one who never inflicts pain”. Don’t most people want to be / to be considered to be a gentleman/ gentlewoman? Anyone who does empathise and understand would never /very rarely hurt another. As Plato said “a man who is not just is not happy” A mistreated person might have a flawed sense of right and wrong, might feel the need to lash out, to hurt and in doing so would than have to self-deceive (that he/she was right and superior) as a self-protective mechanism. How can an intelligent, educated and well treated person need or want to think that others are lesser beings than he /she, to harm? How can anyone with intelligence so easily fool and or want / need to fool themselves. Self-deception creates a distorted view and that cannot bode well for the self-deceiver and those with whom he / she comes in contact. Surely Psychiatrists suffer from “mental disorders”, eg. depression, anxiety, “narcissistic personality disorder” etc. themselves. Do they self-diagnose? Do they slap labels on their children if they are “demanding”, disobedient, etc? Or do they all live in Stepford, and have “Stepford” spouses, children and homes?

  • anonymous

    Many Philosophers hold the view that life is unfair, that consciousness is pain and that life is *meaningless. It would appear that the “disordered” have grasped this truth and that the self-deluded, i.e. the “disorder” diagnosing Psychiatrists have not. *(so we must create our own meaning per Dr. Dorothy Rowe)

  • anonymous

    . “Much learning does not teach understanding.” Heraclitus (544-483 B.C).

  • anonymous

    The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority.” Stanley Milgram (1933-1984)

  • anonymous

    “Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.

    First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind’s way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.

    Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.

    Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.

    Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.”
    ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

  • anonymous

    ― Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version
    “I don’t hold with shamans, witch doctors, or psychiatrists. Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or even Dickens, understood more about the human condition than ever occurred to any of you. You overrated bunch of charlatans deal with the grammar of human problems, and the writers I’ve mentioned with the essence.”

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’Stard

    Well said. The golden rule only applies to the community of the psychiatrically blessed.

    The “seriously mentally ill” psychiatric patient is a victim of what is called moral exclusion, which involves the division of human beings into categories of unequal worth and the denial to a minority group of the rights and protections afforded to those deemed to be a part of the moral community.

  • anonymous

    In order to qualify for admission to University to study medicine a candidate must first pass the HPAT – for obvious reasons as can be seen below

    “The admissions test selected by the Irish Medical Schools is called HPAT – Ireland (Health Professions Admission Test-Ireland). The test measures a candidate’s logical reasoning and problem solving skills as well as non-verbal reasoning and the ability to understand the thoughts, behaviour and/or intentions of people”.

    As too many unsuitable non-empathic, non-understanding persons were going into the medical careers, a career for which they were wholly unsuited, i.e. those whose only form of intelligence is academic (i.e. high ability to learn off rote – memory men and women – merely passing off academic knowledge as social emotional understanding and empathy) the HPAT was designed to exclude these types. Unfortunately a number of agencies have since sprung up for the purposes of teaching these non-empathics to answer test questions empathically. It is a no win situation – but at least it is an admission of the problem. I imagine that there are a lot of ‘Sheldon’ from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ types in medicine and that such types wrote the DSM

  • anonymous

    New Book by James Davies CRACKED Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good ‘Chilling Reading’ The Guardian ‘ Should be ready by every doctor.. by everyone in politics and the media not to mention any concerned citizen, The Mail on Sunday, ‘A potent polemic’ Sunday Times, ‘If, in the world of psychiatry, the DSM is the Holy Scripture, Cracked is set to become a heretical text’ The Times

  • Francesca Allan

    I own this book and have read it and can heartily recommend it.

  • all too easy

    Calling ADHD fraudulent is a filthy lie. Broad brushing those who take legal, prescribed medication to treat the symptoms, “addicts” is unethical, vicious, cruel and a form of hate speech when it is said without evidence and intended specifically to cause harm.

    It is like using racial slurs; similar to describing an entire race of people intentionally, knowingly with the most damning and derogatory filth imaginable in order to incite hatred, disrespect, loathing and to humiliate a protected class of disabled Americans.

  • all too easy

    That is the most hilarious thing I have ever read. Thanks Clodapuss.

  • Isis

    Hugely significant development. I also feel that the labels could be challenged on the same footing as other discriminatory, racist, prejudiced terminology. There are many instances where people are profoundly harmed by the labels applied to them, many never recover a cohesive and whole sense of self again. I fail to see how this isn’t fundamentally seen as unethical and a breach of the person’s human rights.
    If one has the fundamental human right to define their sexuality, spiritual beliefs, and challenge racist, classiest, sexist systems of discrimination- why then are they denied their right to define their own distress? It seems irrational given that the DSM/ICD are being vigorously challenged, even by many within mainstream ‘mental health’ practice.
    Lucy Johnstone’s brilliant book on psychiatric diagnosis clearly states the case for dismantling this pernicious practice.
    Much of the online content for labels such as ‘borderline’ undeniably qualifies as hate speech and that’s before you even get to the uber creepy Kohut and Kernberg.
    It’s astonishing they’ve managed to make such a catastrophic mess of the lives of it all.
    I’d be embarrassed to say I was a psychiatrist in a social setting. It’s seen almost as a profession for those who couldn’t quite cut it in real medicine.
    Great share, thanks.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Isis,

    “I fail to see how this isn’t fundamentally seen as unethical and a breach of the person’s human rights.”

    Indeed. In fact, I think one could say essentially the same thing about almost everything that psychiatrists do. And yet the travesty continues. Keep speaking out.

    Best wishes.

  • Signify

    It is surprising that, for Hickey, psychiatric diagnosis is legally defamatory, given the stated philosophy behind this website. And, if only Grover had not began her article with the disclaimer that mental health professionals are really good guys, the power and truth of her points would be better appreciated.

    But, regarding the stated philosophy, I can agree up to the point where the reality of how a brilliant person who is severely psychologically disturbed uses the “no such thing,” Thomas Szasz Myth of Mental Illness to avoid care, and dies in the streets, but not before inflicting the unimaginable pain and suffering of those closest to them, that, in turn, will stigmatize them for life. Medical history: Psychiatric problems in family? is the least of it. Or, tell returning veterans who have directly been involved in killing, that the blood, guts, and gore they experienced has nothing to do with their nightmares, etc.

    The aforementioned, diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, as, I suspect many, did very well in controlled and sympathetic environments. There were two out of many. And, the perversity continues where people who are labeled give in to that label and do what they are told. There is no middle ground. No compassionate ground for normal human reactions and behavior, certainly made worse by the newest edition of the DSM.

    In this 21st century, there remains nothing more damning than even a suggestion of “mental illness.” And no organization exists that truly stands up for, and seeks to change public perception and medical and psychological, and spirit-based approaches to psychic suffering. NAMI, in my opinion, should be flogged; worthless, damaging, perpetuating every misconception, and, to top it off, perpetuating a miserably pitying stance for those affected. I submit that even NAMI fears stigmatization of its own organization.

    I found this website because I did a search for – when defamation is psychological in nature – maybe not the best choice for a word search, but it brought me here, and to the article. Glad to see it. Now what. I was recently in an auto accident where the driver was 100% at fault. He chose to say something to the officer that was either, or was reinterpreted in the writing of the report, as “driver left the scene due to the possibility that the other driver was possibly mentally unstable.” It’s in a report, in perpetuity, and, yes, has been transmitted to 3rd parties, even though it was nonessential information in this case. There is no defense for that. And, to one who has lived with the stigma of familial mental illness for over a half-century, there is nothing more psychologically damaging, no matter how false. Bottom line? I can’t get officials to remove the statement, nor even confirm the statement, and am having nightmares and wretched days that, that for three weeks now, are concentrated on the knowledge of the utter powerlessness of defense to that which is deemed psychological in nature, and worse – that I don’t have the guts, nor, really the inclination, (there are more pleasant ways to spend one’s life), to devote my energies to publicly challenging this wretched state of affairs where, now, someone grieving over a death, for example, for a week too long, is clinically depressed. Worse – my own prejudice against any club that would have me as a member.

    In order to fight the insidious, pervasive, cold view of humans needs, I would have to first resolve that prejudice. I don’t want that to be my primary identifier. Blessed are those that find the one person, the one healthy belief, or just have the luck to avoid the cruelty, humiliation, and shame. and, as the author notes, the internalization of the most indefensible of labels. “The individual loses not only the freedom to redefine their essence apart from the diagnosis but also the freedom to assign their own meanings to their personal distress and experiences.” What could be more damaging.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Signify,

    Thanks for coming in.

    “the utter powerlessness of defense to that which is deemed psychological in nature”

    In this sentence you have captured one of the most troubling aspects of psychiatry: the “diagnosis” rests entirely on a psychiatrist’s assertion, and attempts by the “patient” to challenge or contradict are routinely interpreted as corroborating evidence of the correctness of the “diagnosis”. After all, only a crazy person would disagree with a psychiatrist!

    I’m puzzled, incidentally, that you see a contradiction between my condemnation of psychiatric “diagnosis” and the “stated philosophy behind this website”. I think I’m missing something here, and would be very grateful if you could elaborate. My opposition to psychiatry is unequivocal,
    and if there’s anything on the site that suggests otherwise, I would like to
    take a look at it.

    Again, thanks for coming in, and best wishes.

  • Signify

    I have no idea why I said that, so I deleted the “contradiction” part. Perhaps it is that, as you say, your opposition to psychiatry is unequivocal, and I think unequivocal opposition is not sensible. Maybe one out of 1,000 or more psychiatrists, psychologists, et al can really make a difference. Maybe one out of 100,000. People need care they are not getting. Had I already said, (too lazy to reread), that I believe that most social workers “practicing” psychology should be boiled in their own tissues? But it is not only the determination of psychiatrists that is damaging. Labeling individuals who have the psyche – in perpetuity – is the latest greatest thing for primary care physicians, etc., as well. The irony is that they rarely suggest anything to do about it – don’t make referrals – it just gets put in the electronic medical records for everyone who encounters it – in this area – 80% of people here work in the medical field – and so your neighbor who puts banana peels on the sidewalk gets to see that you have a dddddiiiaggggnooooooosis. HIPPA is such a crock. In any event – sorry about the misunderstanding about the contradiction.

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  • prometheus complex

    Personal Story:
    I was an anti-authoritarian in foster care. I was slandered, invalidated and projected upon for questioning everyone’s superiority complexes, bullying, presumptions, grandiose delusions, irrational splitting, groupthink and demands.
    So I was diagnosed with A.D.D.
    Then: Depression and Bipolar (for trying to be my own person and caring about the world)
    Then: NOS with Borderline and Narcissistic Traits (when I spoke of misdiagnosis and scapegoating)
    Then: Paranoid Personality Disorder (when I spoke of misdiagnosis and exploitation/abuse)
    Then: PTSD and Severe Depression (to accuse me of suicidal thoughts to apply force)

    But it didn’t end there. They tacked on “racing thoughts, suicidal ideation, lack of coping skills, lack of adult daily living skills, lack of fund of knowledge, irrational thinking” etc.
    We never discussed any of that, and the system workers lied to me about what they were putting in the record, assuring me they weren’t going to twist it (they smirked each time).

    They kept threatening me over and over, telling me I couldn’t tell them they were wrong about the wild accusations they were making about my past or current situations.
    I was told narcissists don’t attack people, bullying doesn’t exist, foster children aren’t targeted for scapegoating, stigma doesn’t exist, that homeless people aren’t attacked, that geeks aren’t attacked, that segregated people aren’t scapegoated, that medications don’t have side effects, that police never lie, that peers never lie, etc.

    I was told I was unstable, and when I asked “how am I unstable”, since I didn’t drink, do drugs, overspend, have any legal trouble, etc… they always replied along the lines of “You complain about abuse and oppression, but it’s all you. People don’t attack people. They deny it. You’re lying. I don’t need to prove it.” and then they’d go on to slander me some more, threaten me some more, and the whole abusive relationship would start over. They were just using coercion to exploit me for grant and medicare fraud… although I’m sure the narcissistic bullying and control was apart of their motivation as well.

    This combined with my youth ruined by communities (slandered and attacked because I was a skeptical thinker who wasn’t interested in pop-culture) ruined my life.
    They even locked me up twice for “thought crimes” that never even took place.
    The second time was because I complained about the fact they lied the first time.

    Each time I spoke to a new person, myth kept building and so did the slander.
    I wonder what lies and attacks they’ll make up next.
    This isn’t medicine, it’s anti-empirical narcissistic bullying, and they know it.