The Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry

by Phil Hickey on October 18, 2016

Bonnie Burstow, PhD, is a faculty member at the University of Toronto, and an antipsychiatry activist.  She writes about topics that include institutional ruling, resistance, and social change.

On October 7, 2016, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto announced that they had established a scholarship for students doing theses in the area of antipsychiatry.

The scholarship committee has issued a statement providing details, and requesting donations.  Please take a look, and pass the link on to others who might have an interest.

The establishment of an antipsychiatry scholarship at a prestigious, mainstream university takes our movement to a new level of acceptance and recognition.

Dr. Burstow is also the author of Psychiatry and the Business of Madness (2015).

  • Echo

    Hi Phil, I recently came across Irving Kirsch and his response expectancy theory in regards to the placebo effect of anti-depressants. It got me thinking how this theory can be applied to many human problems. I would like to hear your thoughts on how response expectancy relates to psychiatric labelling because several times I’ve now come across accounts of people who say things along the lines of “once I was diagnosed with X, I started acting more and more like a person with X.” That is, once they were labelled they would find themselves conforming more to the label/psychiatric prognosis than before they were labelled and I find that really interesting. Since you’re a behaviourist I thought this idea may be connected to behaviourist psychology.
    Hope you’re going well!

  • Phil_Hickey


    I think you are absolutely correct. Even DSM-II gave some acknowledgement to this: “…labels of themselves condition our perceptions.” (p viii)

    The concept of role is crucial to understanding human behavior. We all adopt (or perhaps have foisted on us) a multitude of roles, and in general those around us like us to stay in our roles and behave accordingly. “Schizophrenia” is a role that becomes attractive to people who, for whatever reason, aren’t deriving much joy from life. Once they have been labeled “schizophrenic”, the demands of life abate considerably, and they receive reinforcement for staying in the “schizophrenic” role. In effect, the mental health system trains people in how to be “schizophrenic”, depressed, anxious, etc.. Psychiatrists, in my experience, have zero insight into this dynamic. Psychologists should see it, but have adopted the role of psychiatrists” allies, which precludes protesting the matter, etc.

    Best wishes.

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