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.
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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.