Cyber-Trolls, Site Disrupters, and Related Matters

by Phil Hickey on April 21, 2016

To state the obvious, this is an anti-psychiatry site, and as such it attracts a fair measure of impassioned comment – some favorable, some unfavorable.

From time to time the site gets “bombed”, by which I mean that someone who opposes my ideas “sits” on the site and expresses profound disapproval of anything and everything that I write, and of any favorable material from other commenters.

In my early days as a blogger, I routinely tried to engage these individuals in dialogue, but, as I became busier, I was unable to maintain this level of response.  Today I respond to comments as time and energy permit, but as a general rule I do not respond to comments that are fundamentally dishonest.  The classic in this regard is:  “You say that brains can’t malfunction, that’s just plain stupid.”  I consider this a fundamentally dishonest line of discussion, because firstly, I have never made a statement even remotely like this, and secondly, the statement is obviously false and silly.

I have been urged repeatedly by readers and commenters to ban these cyber-trolls, especially when the volume of their comments is high and their vitriol marked.

As a general principle, I don’t ban commenters from this site.  In fact, I’ve never banned anyone.

I have adopted this policy for three reasons.

1.  Anti-psychiatry is an inherently controversial topic. Psychiatry is truly loathed by many of the people that it has harmed, and is idealized and lionized by many of the people who accept their “diagnoses” and take the drugs.  By choosing to write on this topic, I realize that I am inevitably stepping into a hornets’ nest of controversy, and that there will be negative comments.

One of the ways that pharma-psychiatry achieved its present state of prominence in the field was – and is – the suppression of opposing information.  Negative research results in the psychiatric field have been frequently suppressed, and pharma routinely uses the clout of its advertizing dollars to muzzle TV and other media outlets.

I believe that the anti-psychiatry message stands on its merits, and I don’t think we should follow pharma-psychiatry’s footsteps by banning opposing viewpoints, no matter how inanely or viciously they are expressed.  My policy on censorship is outlined here.

2.  Many of the cyber-trolls/disruptors who have bombed this site have come in using different handles and different IP addresses. I might ban “Peter” from Los Angeles today, only to find him back on the site tomorrow as “John” from Hoboken.  I, quite literally, don’t have time to play whack-a-troll with these individuals.

3.  Pro-psychiatry trolls serve a very useful purpose, in that they remind us that psychiatry has absolutely no valid counter-arguments. What the trolls do is regurgitate the same tired, unsubstantiated assertions, mirroring precisely the stance of psychiatry’s leaders.  The latter may be slightly more sophisticated in their presentation, but the message is the same.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So, my general position is:  live and let live.  If someone wants to camp on the site and snipe unceasingly and inanely at everything that is written, so be it.  This detracts nothing from my writing, or those of other commenters, but merely shows up psychiatry for the intellectually bankrupt and destructive thing that it is.

I don’t respond to these individuals, and I strongly recommend that other commenters adopt the same tactic, regardless of the provocation. Cyber-trolls thrive on attention, even negative attention, and we all have more important matters to attend to.

 

  • all too easy

    Funny how blind you are doctor. You and your faithful few instigate and perpetuate the nasty, uncalled for garbage that gets tossed around here.

    And it starts with you. Psychiatry hasn’t a leg to stand on? Let’s be honest, shall we? You don’t respond to others who provide facts that don’t fit your anti-psychiatry theories. Remember Richard Saul? You recommended him and his book. Remember? He “discovered” ADHD truly does exist as a medical problem, but just called it by another name, to sell books. He calls it “NDI”. And based on his own research he says it is caused by irregular neurotransmitter activity, specifically low levels of whole-blood serotonin or high levels of epinephrine/norepinephrine. The symptoms are classic deficits in attention and executive functioning, as the name suggests, and NDI is treated with stimulants, just like ADHD.”

    So, you are simply wrong and you even went back on your word when you said publicly that you would admit when you were wrong. You were called on it and ran away, just like many who comment about the abuses they’ve suffered at the hands of mental health care workers while refusing to name names. These trolls return with another name and IP and spread the same crap.

    Despite this, it is you who blame parents and the people with ADHD for their attentional problems. Imagine that! Do you know what you are doing? Do you have any idea? Do you?

    You and your faithful few hurl invectives at wonderful, hard working, dedicated, honest, bright, well-educated people like it’s a slaughter house around here. How dare you! My grandfather, who lived on the inside of the world of medicine, was a surgeon and he had profound respect for psychiatrists and psychiatry.

    NDI…” is a condition not found in the DSM-V but so germane to Saul’s clinical experience that he’s created a term for it: neurochemical distractibility/impulsivity (NDI). NDI is caused by irregular neurotransmitter activity, specifically low levels of whole-blood serotonin or high levels of epinephrine/norepinephrine. The symptoms are classic deficits in attention and executive functioning, as the name suggests, and NDI is treated with stimulants, just like ADHD.” Kaja Perina Psychology Today March 11, 2014 Bookshelf: What Else Could It Be?

  • doppelganger

    As you wish, Dr. Hickey.
    I’ve sent you a message via email.
    Keep up your great work!

  • Lori

    Sounds like a sane policy if you ask me!

  • Growing

    The fact that we have intrinsic freedom in what thoughts ,values, attitudes and behaviours we choose is at the heart of the notion that mental health is a cognitive behavioural, rather than a medical consequence, (so it seems to me).
    As this freedom allows along its spectrum, extremes in maladjusted (irrational, grounded in feeling) ) and well adjusted (rational, grounded in fact) thinking, I think your stance is reasonable Phil, and consistent with your wider arguments.

  • Sarah

    I have always thought it admirable that you don’t respond to the senseless comments. It’s a pity that cyber trolls bombard your website (one in particular, I have noticed has malingered within the comment section of every article you have ever written).

    I believe this isn’t simply someone who idolises the practice of psychiatry, but rather is more likely somebody who is on the pay-roll, likely funded by a pharaceutical company or the-like.

    This is happening across all different kinds of social media platforms, in many different sectors. Whenever anyone looks to question any system that is highly profitable, this same kind of behaviour happens. Websites are inundated with negative spam comments (in an attempt to deter visitors, and lead people to believe that the general ‘stance’ is opposition).

    The same happens in the comments section of the main-stream media; when people post comments that oppose current – or proposed – policies, these comments are rarely published. Consequently, when people read articles, and reach the bottom of the page to ‘check out’ the public’s general views on the topic, it appears that the public embrace the new policies. This is frustrating, because it’s misleading and harms freedom-of-speech (so I can appreciate why you don’t censor your own website).

    I think, as you say, this would be a pointless exercise, because people could log in from alternate IP addresses (visit an internet cafe) and use different usernames. And your time/energy would be wasted on monitoring users, rather than researching relevant materials, and writing great articles. In-addition, I believe these trolls have likely hoped to wear-you-down, to distract your concentration, to affect your productivity. Yet you continue to produce well researched and interesting articles.

  • bulbous1

    Being of diminutive intellectual and moral stature, they pretty much exhaust the entire repertoire of dirty, underhanded stratagems to which men can have recourse when the inferiority of their knowledge puts them at a disadvantage in a dispute.

    These trolls always get personal, in lieu of anything substantial to offer, whilst no doubt confusing their almost entirely personal attacks with an argumentum ad rem, attacks which are nevertheless understandable when in requital of an insult of equivalent magnitude, or even in paying back a man in his own coin with interest.

    Schopenhauer has written;-

    “In becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack to his person, by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character… This is a very popular trick, because every one is able to carry it into effect; and so it is of frequent application.
    It would be a great mistake to suppose that it is sufficient not to become personal yourself. For by showing a man quietly that he is wrong, and that what he says and thinks is incorrect – a process which occurs in every dialectical victory – you embitter him more than if you used some rude or insulting expression. Why is this? Because, as Hobbes observes, all mental pleasure consists in being able to compare oneself with others to one’s own advantage. Nothing is of greater moment to a man than the gratification of his vanity, and no wound is more painful than that which is inflicted on it.”

    Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena

    Nevertheless, one shouldn’t always assume dishonesty when incomprehension suffices to explain. Once again Schopenhauer:-

    “..in learning and in mental power both disputants must be tolerably equal. If one of them lacks learning, he will fail to understand the other, as he is not on the same level as his opponent. If he lacks mental power, he will be embittered, and led into dishonest tricks, and end by being rude.

    Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena

    Another stratagem – though a toxic mixture of ignorance and arrogance may play a part here – is to just brag, whereof the adolescent vapourings of “All Too Easy” are an example.

    Then there’s the use of ridicule, as if the laughter of fools sufficed to show that something is ridiculous, though discussion of this could obviously be subsumed into that of the personal attack when it is directly aimed at one’s person.

    Diogenes once compared the mindless laughter of fools to the braying of donkeys, and when asked why he doesn’t take offense, simply replied that whilst fools laugh at it him today, tomorrow at them shall the donkeys bray; the fool isn’t offended by this, so why should he be offended at the mindless braying of fools?

    “What the hell do I lie here laughing at? Is it supposed to show my superiority?”

    Knut Hamsun, Mysteries

    And of course the appeal to authority is common amongst your mental health fanatics. To paraphrase Schopenhauer, the more limited a man’s capacity and knowledge, the greater is the number of the authorities who weigh with him.

    They are apt to appeal to credentials, all too often the coin wherewith a fool purchases a reputation for wisdom amongst other fools, reputation itself being the most useless coin current in society, as Montaigne rightly said.

    People are taught a lot at University, much of it important, but to deduce wisdom from the epistemological trash many a man fattens his mind with at these places is almost like inferring good taste in food from obesity, similar to the mistake people are apt to make with these “eggheads” on quiz shows, engorging on the trivia largely but the vain ornament of superficial minds (though it sometimes may win them some money), stuffing their faces on pointless pabulum, puffing themselves out to frankly ridiculous proportions with their insipid facts, abasing themselves to learn things no self-respecting mind would stoop so low as to commit to memory.

    The people I was with at University came out with a degree mostly none the wiser, and not even that interested in the subject.

    Yet it is these worshipers of authority, sleepwalking their way through life under the mass-hypnosis of authoritative opinion and sentiment, who “defend their opinions with the greatest zeal and intolerance”, as Schopenhauer said, “for what they hate in people who think differently is not so much the different opinions which they profess, as the presumption of wanting to form their own judgement; a presumption of which they themselves are never guilty.”

    Then again, self-interest often plays no small part here.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Sarah,

    Thanks for writing, and for the helpful background information. I had not been aware that this practice was so widespread, but once you point it out, it seems entirely plausible that powerful monied interests will adopt any and all tactics to discredit their critics.

    I guess it means that we’re having some impact. Otherwise, they would probably just ignore us?

    Best wishes.

  • all too easy

    Fellating the mass phallus. I love Paladapus the Phallus, whilst not inherently a noble cause, she exudes certain esoteric and refined qualities of prideful lust and inanity, perchance equivalent to the marauding thieves stealing men’s hearts for mutual incantations of reflections not unknown to the fellating queen herself. All hail Paladapussy

  • all too easy

    You got it Doc. I don’t care for trolls too much myself. Like the troll that praised Richard Saul, the well known, admired and experienced neurologist, who, said this troll, knew his stuff baby. ADHD don’t be! He calls it NDI, instead. ADHD ain’t, but the exact same characteristics and symptoms that define ADHD, he calls NDI and he treats it with stimulants.

    Troll!

  • all too easy

    lol palady

  • Sarah

    Your website certainly is having an impact!

    You are a professional with years of experience, afterall (not someone who can be dismissed as a digruntled patient with an axe-to-grind).

    Your articles are well researched and engaging, your layout is clean and bright, and your content isn’t lost in advertisements. Most importantly, you care about people, this comes across loud-and-clear.

    As a result, many professionals around the world are talking about you on social media, and pointing people to your website.

    So it’s understandable why people with vested interests in the medical industry are threatened by you!

  • Phil_Hickey

    Sarah,

    Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

  • Phil, some trolls are hired. i am not sure who specifically pays them. For instance, I’ve spoken out about Massachusetts General Hospital and its various branches for so long that I cannot imagine one of their people didn’t pay the trolls that appear on my blog to show up now and then. Mine are rather vicious. They generally comb through my blog first, then they find some way that they think will be super insulting.

  • Rob Bishop

    Big news. Disqus has a new feature that allows you to block selected users
    https://blog.disqus.com/user-blocking-is-now-available-on-disqus?UTM_SOURCE=motd_home&UTM_MEDIUM=web

  • Cledwyn’s Pus Poetry

    On of the reasons why I’m a pessimist is because – to borrow from John Gray – in pursuit of some imaginary future, the achievements of the past are all too often lost.

    Much had been done to secure the rights of men to free speech, thought and expression, but alas, they are being steadily eroded.

    Granting the common assumption that the anti-psychiatry movement is a movement at all, it is in my experience mostly made-up of individuals who have nothing but contempt for the principles of free thought and expression.

    Which is perhaps fair enough. Contrary to the Enlightenment belief in an attainable harmony of values, the things that we esteem are often incompatible, so that an argument can be made against free thought and expression through appeal to other values.

    Perhaps unfettered freedom of thought is sometimes incompatible with justice, but at least in my experience restraints thereon are rarely compatible with justice, which holds, a fortiori, of restraints on free thought.

    Weighing in the scales of justice the conflicting claims of suppression of the aforementioned on the one hand, and tolerance for them on the other, I think the balance is tilted in favor of the latter, but it is rarely to the intercession of justice that the resolution of a conflict is owed, be it between or within men, or between their conflicting values.

    Some might say that the proper balance needs to be struck. Good luck with that!

    But it is pointless even questioning the justice of what such people argue for, for all men, when they look in the mirror, save the odd sage, the odd depressive, the odd self-loathing ape, see a blueprint for a more just humanity, and refer back the opinions and sentiments of others to their own as if to a touchstone.

    This can be seen over on MIA. Just like a drop of the ocean affords insight into the composition of the entire waters, similarly, MIA affords microcosmic insight into modern society, encapsulating in miniature many of its trends and currents.

    But the people over on there don’t even frame it as a free speech/expression issue, and deny that their incessant calls for the removal of expressions they find offensive have anything to do with this. They protest too much, methinks.

    As Michael Foley once said, the beauty of offense-taking is that it allows the bully to present its threats as the plea of the victim.

    These people, the guarantors of a more enlightened, just society, are quick to appeal to the supposed injustice of people speaking their minds, whenever there is a perceived invasion of their prerogatives, in the exercise of which, I might add, they often indulge in the kind of generalizations they find so intolerable in other people, to criticisms of which they respond by laying down the law, wagging their fingers with a whiff of the schoolmaster, lording it over the pupils confided to his charge.

    Invoking the name of justice, a smokescreen for the will-to-power, they demand the suppression of offense takers.

    Nevertheless, these social-justice warriors have the nerve to talk about “equality”, when in truth they are only interested in redressing an imbalance of power in their favor, which is fine, but spare us, and yourselves, this charade.

    Their idea of a more enlightened, just humanity, if it is realized, will merely reproduce their own deformities (John Gray), whilst spreading the very plague they purport to cure.

    Nevertheless, when we aren’t subject to the impositions of such people, they do provide us with a good laugh, watching them enact their part in that immemorial farce in which men advance their own will-to-domination under the pretense of reforming the world.

  • Circa

    In my opinion, this site is harmed by its fear of censorship. I would read more comment threads here if there weren’t so many trolls here. Do you know how reddit works? You get comment karma. You gather them, based on the popularity of your post. The best comments rise to the top of the thread. Seems to work like a charm.

  • Chris

    Would just like to share that there is a smear operation underway claiming that the anti-psychiatry movement is funded by the church of Scientology, I’m just writing this to make people aware – you can imagine what the general population will think about this sort of of website if it’s shared in that light, what your doing Phil hickey is a great service to the people and I just wanted to give you that insight, not sure if you were already aware.

  • Francesca Simpson

    Fuck the Scientologists. CCHR isn’t the same as Scientology. Szasz wasn’t a Scientologist. You’re quite right, Chris.

  • Rob Bishop

    The focus of this site are the articles Phil writes. Comments are just comments.

  • all too easy

    The biggest cyber troll to hit this place is Phil. Just look below to see for yourself. He heartily endorsed the book which promotes “NDI”, a disorder exactly like ADHD. It is even treated with stimulants, successfully BTW. Give me a break, Phil. And you should know better. This is your website. You have a doctorate and you pushed Saul’s NDI diagnosis. Do I have to do everything around here?
    NDI…” is a condition not found in the DSM-V but so germane to Saul’s clinical experience that he’s created a term for it: neurochemical distractibility/impulsivity (NDI). NDI is caused by irregular neurotransmitter activity, specifically low levels of whole-blood serotonin or high levels of epinephrine/norepinephrine. The symptoms are classic deficits in attention and executive functioning, as the name suggests, and NDI is treated with stimulants, just like ADHD.” Kaja Perina Psychology Today March 11, 2014 Bookshelf: What Else Could It Be?

  • all too easy

    “… save the odd depressive, the odd self-loathing ape…” Sounds like Fellating the Mass Phallus” to me. However, let me hasten to add that my sympathies do lie with the suppressed, the poor, the feeble-minded, the fools, the morons, the idiots with massive egos like sarah, Chris, Francesca, Julie, little robbie-the most pathetic, longwinded, 98lb., no nothing weakling who can’t help herself, circus the boob, etc. They are censored terribly and they should be heard. They have so much to say. “Psychiatry Sucks” sums it up pretty well.

    I, for one, am making enormous bucks from the Medellín Cartel and Pablo Escobar for advocating for the sale of illegal drugs like Ritalin.

Previous post:

Next post: