Mental Illness: A Man-made Monster

Nelson Mandela quote


I found the above image online yesterday, at the site The Things We Say.

Mental illness is also man-made.  It is the invention of psychiatry – their spurious medicalization of all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving.  Its purpose is to legitimize the prescription of dangerous psychotropic drugs to as many people as possible.   It benefits psychiatrists and drug companies, but damages, stigmatizes, and disempowers its victims.

It was made, promoted, and expanded by venal, unscrupulous people.  It is justified by psychiatric leaders in the same way that slavery and apartheid were justified by their proponents in their respective eras.

Mental illness is a man-made concept that has no objective reference – it corresponds to nothing real.  An artifactual tribute to human self-deception, ambition, and greed, it is a wrong turning in the history of human development.  Every day thousands of people die prematurely on the altar of this gilded idol.

But like all spurious bigotry, it withers when exposed to the light of critical scrutiny.

If you’re not already doing so, please speak out.  Pass the word.  Just a few years ago, those of us who challenged psychiatric orthodoxy were marginalized as cranks and eccentrics.  The protests of psychiatric survivors were condescendingly dismissed as symptoms of their putative illnesses.  Today we are a worldwide movement, gaining daily in numbers and momentum.  Each one of us alone and isolated can achieve little or nothing.  But united, we can close once and for all this sordid chapter of human history.


  • cannotsay

    Brilliant Phil, absolutely and positively brilliant. One of the things that I appreciate most of you is the moral clarity of your writing. Not sure where you lie on the political spectrum so, depending on your politics, the following comparison might sound to you offensive. However, I cannot but realize that this call is no different from the following one from Ronald Reagan to those who thought that it was possible to have a gentler Soviet Union with whom it was possible to coexist. Ronald Reagan, said, no, their are the evil guys, we are the good guys. God bless!

  • ssenerch

    Love it! I agree with cannotsay, thank you for your moral stance in what is indeed a fight between right and wrong, in more ways than one!

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for your encouraging words.

  • elsiep

    And we should make sure we have a pretty watertight plot for the next chapter or there’s a risk that it will be the same story with different characters.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Very true.

  • Duncan Bray

    spurious nonsense .. thank goodness you are retired!

  • cannotsay

    I imagine that you are more articulate than this comment. Can your read this and detail what is specifically what you disagree with?

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in. If you would indicate which ideas you think are spurious and why, I would be very happy to engage in some dialogue.

    Best wishes.

  • Duncan Bray

    Hi Phil … I’m off to bed .. will get back to you tomorrow, thanks..

  • aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Dr. Hickey, as a person living with mental illness, psychiatry is not the enemy of the mentally ill. People like you are.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry you see me as your enemy. If you would identify the issues on which you disagree with me, I would be happy to engage in some dialogue.

    Best wishes.

  • Markus

    Hi Phil,

    We exchanged a few emails this month, but I thought I would write here so perhaps our interactions might be of more use to others.

    After reading many articles and comment sections throughout your site, there is something I’m still a little confused with.

    Does the brain influence everything we do?
    Or does our behavior influence the brain?
    OR both??

    I’ve been reading about dopamine lately and how after a strong dopamine spike in the brain (from drugs, orgasm, etc) there is an immediate plunge in the dopamine levels. With this plunge a “chemical coctail” is released in the the body, the effects of which are happening on a more subconscious level in the days and weeks following the dopamine hit.

    So with all this stuff going on in the body, how much of an influence do we really have in our own behavior? Can the effects of such autonomous processes in the body be intervened and altered with our actions ?

    I’m reading a book called Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow by Marnia Robinson.
    The hypothesis of the book is that sexual satiety leads to disharmony in relationships (because of the uncontrollable problems that this wild dopamine fluctuation creates).

    Another way to put it, if we are heroin addicts, how much is the heroin intake/withdrawal influencing our behaviors? The reason I bring forth this question is because —although most of us are not hard drug addicts— there are countless chemicals, toxins and other possibly harmful and addictive substances we come to contact with every day that must also affect our brains in the same way.

    The natural hygienists would even say that all meds and potions and pills (not to mention processed food) are drugs.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    In friendship,

  • Phil_Hickey


    The brain does indeed influence everything we do. And problems in brain function can and do affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions. I’ve done a post on this here.

  • Timothy Casey
  • Bruce

    What is schizophrenia ?
    My son, 42 now, hearing voices, and believing that he sees god and angels and the devil and very bad people that torment him.
    In what part of the body do these spring from ?
    Is it not the brain ?

  • Anonymous

    What part of your body does your belief in “schizophrenia” spring from? What part of your body do any of your beliefs spring from? Why do you think your beliefs or anybody’s beliefs spring from a body part?

  • barry

    I would be very careful seeking advice here. Better to write a letter to a professional as they have something to lose with their signature on it.

  • Cledwyn B’stard

    “But like all spurious bigotry, it withers when exposed to the light of scrutiny.”

    Yet nevertheless persists, in a world where no-one is as enlightened and compassionate as the mob is bigoted and corrupt.

    “But united, we can close once and for all this sordid chapter of human history.”

    If that’s the case, then institutional psychiatry is here to stay! The bonds that unite bad people are stronger than those fashioned to unite the good, which tear all too easily.

    “If you’re not already doing so, please speak out.”

    Yeah, and sit back and get ready to suffer the indignity of being called an idiot, a denialist, and a conspiracy theorist.

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they call you an idiot, then a conspiracy theorist, then dangerous, then an extremist, and then, well then they just go back to ignoring you…”

    Cledwyn B’stard

  • Cledwyn Bastardo

    Come on anonymous, we all know “schizophrenia” springs from a body part, specifically the colon of a bull, where all bullshit originates.

  • Cledwyn Bastardo

    “… and the cycle just repeats itself, on and one, until nature, your hand, or someone else’s, mercifully intervenes and you go back to the ocean of nothingness from whence you came. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world….

    Life, oh life, ohhhh li-i-i-i-fe, oh life, doo-doo-doo-doo, life, oh life…..”

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in. I have written extensively on the condition labeled schizophrenia here. I have also discussed the issue in other posts of the blog. Use the search function for the word “schizophrenia”, or click on the word schizophrenia in the Popular Topics bar on the right side of the homepage.

    Please feel free to come back if there are specific issues that you would like to discuss.

    I hope your son is doing OK.

    Best wishes.

  • Bob_from_Reno

    It is not that the various symptoms do not exist – they do – but psychiatry has moved away from trying to find the various causes. (I disagree with some of what the author states – but he is largely correct.) Among the many possible origins of your son’s problems are 1. “Many mental health programs are not staffed with physicians practiced in medical diagnosis and thus are unprepared to detect a large proportion of physical diseases in their
    patients. As described elsewhere, California’s state mental health programs fail to detect many diseases that could be causing or exacerbating psychiatric disorders”[1]
    2. “Trauma exposure has been linked to later substance abuse, mental illness, increased risk of suicide, obesity, heart disease, and early death.”[2]

    Several proven non-drug methodologies are available to treat trauma, including Somatic Experiencing® (SE), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing® (EMDR), and Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) developed by David Berceli, Ph.D. Read Healing Trauma by Peter Levine – the symptoms of trauma are nearly identical to most of the labels in the DSM – with differences which can be explained by personality types and learned reactions to stress. Of course, a diagnosis of schizophrenia may be given when – Recently, I had a conversation with a psychiatrist who worked with Priscilla Ford, the woman who drove on the sidewalk in Reno killing six people, and injured another 23 on Thanksgiving Day, 1980. This was during
    her last appeal against her death sentence, many years after she had been
    convicted. Using a PET scan, this psychiatrist was able to find a brain tumor located on the basal ganglia, which was the true cause of aberrant behavior by this former school teacher – and not the label of schizophrenia which she had been given. – While the problems you and your son have encountered are real – an over reliance on drugs will never be the road to as full a recovery as possible. True recovery takes the time to address the many possible causes/ conditions to be adequately addressed – not easy, but it can be done.

    More in my forthcoming book – Liberty & Mental Health -You Can’t Have One Without the Other
    A Medical Algorithm for Detecting Physical Disease in Psychiatric Patients,
    Hospital and Community Psychiatry Vol. 40 No. 12 Dec 1989, Pg. 1270 by Harold C. Sox, Jr., M.D., Lorrin M. Koran, M.D., Carol H. Sox, M.S. , Keith I. Marton M.D., Fred Dugger, P.A., Teruko Smith, R. N.
    Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA’s Roles and Actions 2011–2014 – pg. 8

  • Anonymous

    “many years after she had been
    convicted. Using a PET scan, this
    psychiatrist was able to find a brain tumor located on the basal
    ganglia, which was the true cause of aberrant behavior by this former
    school teacher – and not the label of schizophrenia which she had been


    Neither you, nor the quack in question, can prove she had this tumor at the time of the crime, or 2 years before the crime, when her premeditation began.

    “Ford was a Michigan native with an IQ of 140. A schoolteacher, she had moved to Reno from Maine about three weeks before the rampage. She told acquaintances she went to Reno to look for her missing daughter, Wynter Scott. Washoe County authorities had placed the girl in a foster home in 1973 after Ford was arrested for trespassing.

    Before the 1980 crime that became known as the “Thanksgiving Day Massacre,” Ford had said “the people of Reno will pay in death” for taking her daughter. She also told a U.S. attorney in Maine in 1979 that she “would run down pedestrians if he did not help her get her daughter back.”

    ““The more dead, the better,” a police officer
    quoted Ford as saying as she waited for tests to determine her blood’s
    alcohol or drug content at Washoe Medical Center. That was in the
    early days of the trial. “I deliberately planned to get as many as
    possible. A Lincoln Continental can do a lot of damage, can’t it?”
    Later the officer testified Ford said, “I am a New York teacher. I’m
    tired of life. I want attention, I’m sick of problems.”

    A woman becomes an old woman after decades in prison, and some small benign tumor is discovered by a doctor employed to get her out of the death penalty, is a bullshit story, from a mercenary psychiatrist gun for hire in the court system, incidentally, and not surprisingly, a Google search for ‘Priscilla Ford tumor’ brings up nothing.

    I don’t know about you but if I think I have a tumor, I go to a neurologist, not a psychiatrist, too.

    A deeply troubled woman that hated the state of Nevada for putting her daughter in foster care, that warned 2 years in advance what she planned to do, HUMAN CONTEXT, versus your quack story of an alleged tumor found YEARS after she was put in prison, by defense hired expert witness mercenaries on a fishing expedition, NOT because of any brain tumor symptoms she displayed while incarcerated, which one am I going to go with?

    I’m going to go with the realistic interpretation.

    EMDR® and all that other crap is nothing but quackery too.

    It remains very sad when someone would tell the families of the six people murdered in Reno by this woman that it was either “schizophrenia” or a “brain tumor” that caused those deaths.

  • Francesca Allan

    “Garbage. Neither you, nor the quack in question, can prove she had this tumor at the time of the crime, or 2 years before the crime ….”

    I have no idea whether or not this woman had a brain tumour but if she did, it is quite possible that experts could have estimated reasonably accurately how long it had been there and what effect it may have had.

    My point is simply that there sometimes are mitigating factors to be considered in understanding human behaviour.

  • Jason

    right on