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Psychiatry Interrogated, (ed. Bonnie Burstow), Palgrave Macmillan:  A Book Review

I have recently read Psychiatry Interrogated, subtitled “An Institutional Ethnography Anthology”Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that deals with the systematic study of individual cultures.  Institutional ethnography (IE), according to Wikipedia, is  “a method of social research [that]… explores the social relations that structure people’s everyday lives, specifically by looking at the ways that people interact with one another in the context of social institutions (school, marriage, work, for example) and understanding how those interactions are institutionalized…For the institutional ethnographer, ordinary daily activity becomes the site for an investigation of social organization.”

In the Introduction to Psychiatry Interrogated, Dr. Burstow writes:

“The suitability of IE as an approach for interrogating psychiatry is demonstrable for psychiatry routinely causes disjunctures – indeed, horrendous disjunctures in people’s everyday lives; it has both hegemonic and direct dictatorial power.  Behind what we might initially see – a doctor or a nurse – lies a vast army of functionaries, all of them activating texts that originate extra-locally.  The fact that IE as a method feels ready-made to unlock institutional psychiatry – and that’s what I am suggesting here – is not accidental.  Significantly, from early on, psychiatry was one of the primary regimes which Dorothy [Dorothy E. Smith, PhD, (1926- ) founder of IE] was theorizing as she went about developing her method.” (p 10)

Although IE studies begin with a disjuncture or disconnect in people’s everyday local lives, the focus is on the impact of non-local institutions and texts.

It should be clarified at this point that IE studies are not the kind of statistical analyses that we normally encounter and discuss in this arena.  Rather, they are qualitative descriptions of what’s going on in a situation with particular reference to relationships, power, and institutional oppression.  IE enquiries are “particularly aimed at ferreting out and making visible how institutions work”. (p 5)

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All the chapters of Psychiatry Interrogated, except the Introduction and the Afterword, describe a specific IE enquiry in which the institution psychiatry is examined.  In order to convey something of the flavor of the book, here is a brief outline of the disjunctures that initiated each enquiry, and some illustrative quotes.

Chapter 2 (B Burstow and S Adam):  In August 2012, the following ad appeared in the jobs etcetera section of the Toronto craigslist:

The authors point out that

“Under the category ‘Jobs Etc.’ CAMH had placed an ad on Craigslist that in essence functioned so as to lure those down on their luck to be participants in an electroshock study –  a study that involved them actually receiving ECT.  In the battle and research that followed, hitherto hidden truths come to light not only about psychiatric research processes but, every bit as important, about research oversight in general.” (p 16)

“At the same time as credible studies were establishing damage and disproving effectiveness, a mammoth ECT research industry devoted to demonstrating that the ‘procedure’ was safe and effective was moving into high gear – all overruling credible findings, all invisibilizing the everyday lives of shock survivors.  Moreover, books that functioned as boss texts…were spearheading a ‘safe and effective’ narrative.  By the same token, hospitals were making their reputation through ECT research.  It is in this context that we must understand the ECT study.” (p 28)

Chapter 3 (C Chapman, J Azevedo, R Ballen, J Poole):  Two nurses, who had practiced competently for years, lost their nursing certificates because they divulged a history of “mental illness”.

“It is the framing of Janet and Ikma as ‘mentally ill’ (conflated with ‘incompetent’) that enabled the CNO [College of Nurses of Ontario] to disregard their alternative accounts of events, their legitimate grievances, and assertions of their ‘competence.'” (p 58)

Chapter 4 (L Tenney in consultation with C Brown, K Cascio, A Cerio, B Grundfest-Frigeri):  The disjuncture for this study is the psychiatrization of people on the grounds of their nonhegemonic spiritual beliefs.

“My standpoint, my entry into the research, is as someone who 28 years ago was involuntarily institutionalized and drugged in New York, at least in part because of my spiritual experiences.  My ultimate disjuncture is precisely that psychiatrization.  The question that I am asking is how does psychiatry operate so that such disjunctures or violations occur?  That is, how does it turn people’s spiritual leanings into a warrant for both initial and ongoing psychiatrization?” (p 68)

Chapter 5 (MJ Hande, S Taylor, E Zorn) addresses the difficulties faced by parents of children “diagnosed with autism”, and examines how these parents, in their pursuit of assistance and resources, become unwitting agents of “the complex, multileveled ruling relationships that structure them”.

“At all levels of the process, parents can only access care and support through their child’s diagnosis and the texts that diagnosis has generated, thereby leading them to continually activate the DSM.” (p 90)

Chapter 6 (SL Jakubec, JM Rankin) examines how psychiatric expansionist goals can infiltrate, and even eclipse, the original goals of a helping organization.

“In our analysis we show how development practices (e.g., the exploration of indicators for measurement) and the dominant movement for global mental health (mGMH) – and goals of a rapid ‘scaling up’ of mental illness diagnosis, treatment and research – began to enter the way workers at the NGO understood and performed their work.” (104)

“The biomedical emphasis on ‘mental health’ has had an important impact on how ‘global mental health’ is being addressed. The mGMH’s premise is that what are called, for example, depression and schizophrenia, are biological disorders no different from HIV-AIDS or epilepsy, and that people living in poor countries have just as much right to access effective drug treatments for mental disorders as people in ‘developed’ countries…Despite the arguments of some experts claiming that drug treatments for psychiatric conditions are nowhere near as effective as believed…and are even harmful…those in the movement have relied on the appeal of equitable access to treatment to create the focus of the goals of the mGMH…What we see here is a conflation of human rights discourse and biological psychiatry discourse..” (p 108)

Chapter 7 (L Spring) begins with three disjunctures.  Firstly, increasing numbers of soldiers are killing themselves; secondly, soldiers who are experiencing problems of living are being labeled as “mentally ill”; and thirdly, the “treatment” these individuals receive often causes severe and permanent harm.

“…the question arises: Could some soldiers have killed themselves not in spite of the treatment they were receiving, but because of its effects?  Should not the fact that more than half of the CAF [Canadian Armed Forces] members who killed themselves in 2013 were receiving ‘the best care this country has to offer’ at the time of their suicides be an indication that the current system is not working?” (p 133-134)

“This chapter has traced how it has come to pass that a fictional disorder ‘essentially created by committees of doctors sitting around conference tables’…has gained so much traction in recent years.  I have traced how the ruling relations continually associate the idea of PTSD with soldiers’ suicides and how the language of the DSM is now regularly activated.  This is done not only by the media, the military, and the psychiatric system itself but also by services members, veterans, and those closest to them as they go about their daily lives.” (p 140)

Chapter 8 (J Tosh, S Golightley) presents two instances of bullying in UK colleges.  In one case the victim came to be labeled as “mentally ill”; in the other, the victim was bullied because of such a label.

“These two case studies illustrate how labels of ‘mental illness’ can be used to silence those who speak out against oppression and pathologization within those professions where such interventions are sorely needed.  In one case, violence and bullying was dismissed, ignored, and perpetuated by labeling the victim as ‘mentally ill.’  In doing so, her accusations of bullying and her competency regarding her job became discredited and disbelieved.  Her actions and words were constantly interpreted and viewed through the lens of sanism and used as further justification for abuse.” (p 156)

“In the other case, the label of ‘mental illness’ was framed as a ‘danger’ and a ‘risk’ in addition to a ‘vulnerability.’  However, rather than provide the assistance that was initially requested, her label of mental illness was used in attempts to disrupt her training, much like how Olivia was ‘pushed out’ of her job.  This, in addition to the increased surveillance in both cases, shows how ‘reasonable adjustments’ manifested as restrictions framed within a discourse of ‘help’ and doing what was ‘best’ for those with a ‘mental illness.'” (p 156)

Chapter 9 (R Wipond, S Jakubec) examines the development of workplace “mental health” and the reframing of social problems as psychiatric issues.

“…the dominant Western mental health system is itself a deeply contested space characterized by polarized power relationships between the providers and the people actually receiving the ‘treatments’ or services.  In addition, profound political tensions are built into federal, provincial, and state laws that allow assertive, coercive, and forced ‘mental health care.'” (p 163)

“…extremely divergent opinions and struggles for power emerge in the scientifically unvalidated diagnostic methods and the often unreliable, ineffective, and demonstrably dangerous treatment practices…” (p 163)

These observations prompt the authors to ask:

“…could importing principles, policies, and practices from the mental health system into workplaces truly, as suggested, ‘create and continually improve a psychologically healthy and safe workplace?'” (p 163)

Chapter 10 (A Doll) examines the system by which people being adjudicated for involuntary psychiatric admission are afforded legal representation in Poland.  The study begins with three disjunctures that will be familiar to anyone who has had contact with these matters.  Firstly, the lawyers are poorly compensated for their work; secondly, they are mandated to perform this work; and thirdly, “it is almost impossible to challenge” psychiatric assertions in a legal context.

“All of which – even for those lawyers committed to their legal aid duties – only adds to the already burdensome nature of the work.  The key issue here is that the involuntarily admitted – that is, the very persons who need spirited lawyering – may not receive appropriate advocacy.  In this context, a right to representation, a key guarantee of ‘due process’ under the inherently coercive procedure of involuntary admission, may be nothing more than a formalistic legal institution with no substantive meaning.” (p 184) [Emphasis in original]

Chapter 11 (E Gold):  The disjuncture that prompted this study was the author’s observation that the torture experiments conducted in the 60’s by John Zubek, PhD at the University of Manitoba, were funded, not only by the military, but also by the US National Institute of Mental Health.

“It was argued earlier that Zubek’s experiments meet the criteria of definition of torture.  Students were knowingly and purposefully placed into experimental conditions that caused them pain and suffering.  These experiments were sanctioned by the University of Manitoba, and the ethical regulatory body for the field of psychology, the CPA, never stepped in, thus creating the illusion that Zubek’s work met ethical standards.  Zubek’s research was directly linked to military torture through one nagging question that he could never escape – if not torture, what was the DRB’s [Defense Research Board] interest in funding this research?” (p 219)

“Nevertheless, little research has questioned the interests of Zubek’s other major funder – the US National Institute of Mental Health.  We now know that this research was linked to the development of current military torture techniques – methods that cause pain and suffering without inflicting direct physical violence on the victim.  It seems worthwhile to ask here:  What is the overlap between the development of military torture and the burgeoning field of mental health?  If not torture, what was the NIMH’s interest in funding this research?” (p 219)

“Recalling the actual experiments, the National Institute of Mental Health primarily funded the immobilization branch – the most intolerable condition in Zubek’s repertoire.  Although most research has focused on the sensory deprivation aspect of the experiments, it was the immobilization that most subjects were simply unable to bear.  This condition – having one’s head and limbs strapped while in a recumbent position, even with normal levels of sensory input – was experienced as excruciating, with only one-fifth of the research subjects continuing their participation until the end.  Not only was this condition intolerable to most participants, but it also produced intellectual stunting, a loss of contact with reality, and severe distortions in participants’ perceptions…It is worth noting that Zubek’s immobilization condition bears a striking and eerie resemblance to the common practice of physical restraint in mental health settings.” (p 219-220)

“Unlike Zubek’s subjects, however, individuals who are being forcibly restrained in a psychiatric context do not enjoy the option of deciding whether they consent to being restrained and how long this period of restraint should last.” (p 220)

In conclusion, the author poses the troubling question:

“Are we as a society going about our everyday lives while complicit in everyday atrocities disguised as ‘help’?” (p 224)

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF IE FOR ANTI-PSYCHIATRY

Psychiatry routinely presents itself as a legitimate medical specialty differing from the other specialties only in the kinds of illnesses treated.  But, in fact, this is not accurate.  Firstly, the problems that psychiatry purports to treat are not illnesses in any ordinary sense of the term; and secondly, psychiatry’s treatments are nothing more than legalized drug-pushing, more akin to the street-corner activity than medical care.  But there is another important difference between psychiatry and real medicine.  Psychiatry’s core concepts are embedded formally and informally in our legal, social, educational, and workplace institutions in ways that the other medical specialties are not.

The term “mental illness”, for instance, which most of us in the anti-psychiatry movement consider spurious, is written into the laws and regulations of every US state, and probably most other countries.  In addition, virtually every county in the US is “served” by a publicly-funded community mental health center, charged with “treating mental illness”, educating the community on matters pertaining to “mental health”, and forcibly committing people to psychiatric facilities.  Residents of nursing homes are required by federal law to be screened for “mental illness” on admission, and to be afforded “treatment” if this is indicated.  Schools are legally required to provide special accommodation for some children who have been assigned spurious psychiatric labels (e.g. ADHD), and additional funding is provided for these activities.  And at the present time, psychiatry is pushing hard for integration of its “services” into primary care.

Those of us who would like to see an end to psychiatry are aware of its widespread tentacles, and the extent to which its core concepts and practices are embedded in the very fabric of our society.  But that awareness tends to be of the dull-and-persistent-ache variety, rather than the sharp-stone-in-the-shoe.

We win the intellectual and moral battles hands down, but we are understandably daunted at the prospect of persuading fifty legislatures that the term “mental illness” has no validity, and that psychiatric “treatment” is essentially on a par with street-corner drug-pushing.

We are daunted by the exportation of mental illness concepts and practices to all parts of the globe.  We are daunted by the wholesale adoption of pathologizing and disempowering psychiatric ideas by the military services here in the US and abroad.

We touch on these, and related, issues frequently, of course, in our individual writings, but up till now, we have lacked a formal methodology to focus on these matters, and to lay bare the disjunctures, the intricacies, the details, and the damage done.

And it is in this regard that the value of Psychiatry Interrogated needs to be recognized.  Psychiatry Interrogated does, of course, critique psychiatry, but it also does more:  it provides and  demonstrates a formal methodology (IE) by means of which these kinds of concerns can be systematically studied and credibly exposed in a wide variety of situations and contexts.  Psychiatry Interrogated is a cardinal work in the literal sense of the term:  a turning point on which new developments can hinge, find support, and thrive.

SUMMARY

Psychiatry Interrogated is a powerful and compelling work, that demonstrates how common reactions of the how-can-that-happen? variety can serve as springboards to unraveling and exposing the complex, repressive, and inherently destructive nature of psychiatry.  Each chapter has an extensive reference list for those who wish to pursue any of the topics in greater depth.

The book is dedicated to “everyone everywhere who has ever fallen prey to institutional psychiatry.”

DISCLAIMER

I have no financial interest in this book or any book/product that I mention in these writings.

Book Review: The Power of the Double Circle

I have recently read The Power of the Double Circle by Philip Springer, MD, and Shelby Havens, DNP.  It’s a small book (91 pages), but it sets out an idea that might have some value in support/self-help and other kinds of groups.

Dr. Springer is a retired psychiatrist, and Dr. Havens is a psychiatric nurse practitioner, but their position as set out in the book is something close to anti-psychiatry.

For instance:

“What is worth considering is that you may get more help from someone sitting next to you on a bus than from a professional.  At least you are assured that it is likely that you are next to a peer on the bus and someone who has some of the same experiences.  The professional, on the other hand, may only have faint recollections of a bus ride.  This is in part because of the dropping of the shield on the bus, while holding tightly to your secrets in the professional office.” (p xxi)

“What we can do is to set the record straight as to how we have come to trust knowledge from the experts too much and trust knowledge and experience from each other too little.” (p xxiii)

“In a 15-minute medication visit by a psychiatrist, nothing will be accomplished except that the psychiatrist must use words of caution concerning the medication because of fear of being sued.  He or she does not have time to concern himself with the patient’s true nature or true concerns but has plugged the patient into a diagnosis for which no real explanation is given to the individual.  It is a dreadful impasse to say the least.  It is not that there is or has been a true conspiracy but it turned out that the drug companies and insurance companies shared a common desire.  Both wanted to have a fixed diagnosis for which to render their brand of psychiatric servicing. As time has gone on, it has gotten only worse.” (p 19)

The book’s sub-title is:  “A Guide to the Supportive Person Group Process,” and this is the notion that was new to me and caught my attention.

The idea here is that small groups have enormous potential in terms of mutual support, learning, communication, encouragement, etc., but that sometimes individual members feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to participate or express themselves.

So, in a double circle group, each group member has a supportive person who sits behind him or her and is allowed to interject or clarify the individual’s position to a degree, and within parameters, agreed earlier by the two individuals.  “The outer circle person should rarely speak spontaneously, but may be invited to speak on behalf of the inner circle person.”

So there are two circles:  the group participants in the inner circle, and the supportive persons in the outer.

Then – and this is the interesting part – after a designated interval, the participants and the support persons switch roles.  The people in the outer circle move to the inner and vice versa.

Here are some quotes from the text:

“Although our stories and experiences are all different, people have many common themes that describe what it means to be human.” (p 36)

“Humans are naturally social creatures.  We’re hard wired for relatedness, and our energy comes from connecting with others.  When creating a connection, it can seem frightening at first, but it is our relationships with one another that help us grow and develop a rich, meaningful life.  We want to be seen, welcomed, and appreciated in an environment of safety, acceptance, and loving kindness.  We want to be able to speak our truth to one another.” (p 36)

“Each time the circles reverse, a new portal of perspective opens.  What had not been seen before is now seen with great clarity.” (p 38)

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

In my view, the most significant development to arise from the anti-psychiatry effort is the increasing number of self-help/support groups. This is the great grass-roots movement that can ultimately make psychiatry redundant.  In that context, it occurred to me that the ideas set out in The Power of the Double Circle might be of interest to some groups.

Besides the Supportive Person idea, the book contains a range of related and tangential issues, which will inevitably elicit varying degrees of agreement from readers.  But the Double Circle and the Supportive Person are the core concepts, and are definitely worth examining.

The book is available from doublecircle.net or from Amazon.

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 DISCLOSURE

I have no financial interests in this book or in any books or products that I mention in these writings.

Book Review:  Depression Delusion, by Terry Lynch, MD, MA

In this truly remarkable, and meticulously researched, volume, Dr. Lynch annihilates psychiatry’s cherished chemical imbalance theory of depression.  Every facet of this theory, which the author correctly calls a delusion, is critically analyzed and found wanting.  Example after example is provided of psychiatrists promoting this fiction, the factual and logical errors of which are clearly exposed in Dr. Lynch’s lucid, seamless, and highly readable prose.

The book runs to 343 pages, and is laden with factual details, case studies, alternative perspectives, and hard-hitting commentary.  Dr. Lynch does not sit on the sidelines, nor does he seek any kind of collegial compromise with the chemical imbalance theory, which he unambiguously denounces as a groundless and destructive falsehood.  Here are some quotes that I think will convey something of the content, style, and cogency of this vitally important work.

“The world is engulfed in a mass delusion regarding depression.  The widespread belief that brain chemical imbalances are present in depression has no scientific basis.  In fact, this is a fixed belief that meets all the criteria of a mass delusion.  If you are one of the millions of people who believe that biochemical brain imbalances are known to occur in depression, then you too have become seriously misinformed.” (p 1)

“Despite the obvious complexity of the brain, some psychiatrists and GPs profess an understanding of this organ that is highly inconsistent with current scientific knowledge.  Their comments smack of a level of arrogance that in my opinion is downright dangerous.” (p 65)

“The brain chemical imbalance delusion has dominated medical, psychological and public thinking about depression for the past fifty years.  Parties with a vested interest see nothing wrong with this.  Nor do the vast majority of the general public, for whom the depression brain chemical imbalance idea feels as familiar and logical as raised blood sugar in diabetes.  There are two main reasons why psychiatrists and GPs have embraced the biochemical imbalance delusion with such enthusiasm.  This notion portrays doctors and their drug treatment in a positive light, as real doctors treating biological abnormalities consistent with the treatment of diseases generally in medicine.  Secondly, having observed for thirty years how my medical colleagues in psychiatry and general practice work, I do not believe they know any other way of understanding or responding to depression other than as an assumed biological abnormality.  I remain unconvinced that there is sufficient breadth of vision within mainstream psychiatry or medicine to see or to move beyond the rigidly held belief that depression is primarily a biological disorder.  Yet, the majority of the experiences categorized as depression are primarily emotional and psychological or have a significant emotional input.” (p 77)

“It is misleading to state that the brain chemistry of depression is not fully understood, when in truth it is really not understood at all.  It is also misleading to state that ‘research suggests’ that ‘depression is caused by an imbalance’ of brain chemicals.  It is drug companies, doctors and researchers who suggest this, not the research itself. As outlined in detail earlier the research itself does not suggest this at all and indeed contradicts this notion.” (p 149)

“In twenty years as a medical doctor, I have never, ever heard of a patient anywhere having their serotonin levels checked.”(p 153)

“Low serotonin cannot ever be identified since brain serotonin cannot be measured and we do not know what serotonin levels should or should not be.” (p 165)

“Providing societies with an apparently trustworthy rationale for avoiding the reality of human distress has resulted in increasingly costly mental health services within which recovery is a far rarer outcome than it should be.  Since the core issues are repeatedly side-stepped, they are not addressed or recognized within these mental health systems.  It is not surprising that the costs of such systems keep increasing with little hard evidence that these systems are providing value for money in terms of recovery.” (p 237)

“The most beneficial position for psychiatry is therefore the one that currently pertains.  By nailing its colours to the biological mast, psychiatry has successfully set itself apart from talk therapies.  As long as no biological abnormalities are reliably identified, there is no threat that their bread and butter will be removed from them to other medical specialties.  Maintaining the myth that biological solutions are just around the corner satisfies the public and maintains psychiatry’s position quite satisfactorily from psychiatry’s perspective, albeit between a rock and a hard place.  This position has no solid scientific foundation, but as long as the public do not realize this and psychiatry does not attempt to encroach on the territory of other medical specialties such as neurology, psychiatry’s position is secure.”  (p 277)

“When basic principles of correct reasoning and science are applied to the brain chemical imbalance idea, the flaws and inconsistencies of this belief become obvious.  When the depression brain chemical imbalance idea is rigorously examined, we find that like the emperor, it has no clothes.  These flaws and inconsistencies were known prior to Prozac coming on stream in 1988.  They were dismissed because they risked ruining a great story, from which many groups could profit enormously.” (p 342)

For those who wish to pursue topics further, there is a reference list at the end of each chapter.  There is also a comprehensive index and table of contents which make it easy to find specific sub-topics.

Pharma-psychiatry’s chemical imbalance theory of depression is one of the biggest and most destructive hoaxes in human history.  Dr. Lynch’s Depression Delusion might well be the work that finally lays this hoax to rest, and exposes the self-serving deceptiveness that has become a routine part of psychiatry’s endeavors.

Please read this book, keep it close to hand for reference, and encourage others to read it also.  Ask your library to buy a copy.  The spurious chemical imbalance theory is now so widely accepted that it will take enormous efforts to dislodge it.  In any debate on this matter, Dr. Lynch’s book will, quite literally, put the facts at your fingertips.

Book Review: Parenting Your Child with ADHD: A No-Nonsense Guide for Nurturing Self-Reliance and Cooperation, by Craig Wiener, EdD

I have recently read this book, and I think it would be extremely helpful for parents, teachers, and counselors who work with children in this area.

Here are some quotes:

“…ADHD [is] something that your child does rather than something that she has.”

“The first thing to realize is that while you and other adults see your child’s ADHD behavior as a problem to overcome, for your child, ADHD behavior holds solutions to the difficulties that he faces on a daily basis. When your child encounters adversity, ADHD behavior somehow mitigates the situation. When you identify what gives his ADHD behavior its staying power, you will have gained valuable insight into why such behavior repeats so frequently. You will also be taking a giant step forward in knowing how to eliminate it.”

“Groups are breeding grounds for ADHD behavior, because children often have problems accommodating when they must function in groups. In group settings, individuals are typically less important than the group as a whole, so they may feel neglected in comparison to one-on-one interactions, in which they have more influence and importance. It comes as no surprise, then, that one-on-one interaction results in less ADHD behavior in comparison to when a child is part of a group. This is why your child might have been doing okay before he started preschool or kindergarten.”

“When your child feels neglected or denied in a group, ADHD behavior can be quite effective in getting people to shift their attention back to him.”

“Your child’s ADHD behavior may have any of the following beneficial effects: it may garner attention for her, it may get others to make accommodations for her, it may help her avoid certain situations, it may help her acquire something she wants, and it may antagonize others for doing things she does not like. Any one of the five “A”s can increase the frequency of ADHD behavior. Sometimes these reinforcements even work in combination to drive particular behaviors, strengthening them that much more.”

“ADHD behavior generally remits as soon as the child hears the word “yes.” Loved ones will frequently offer relief when hearing a child complain or create problems. This can occur when your child overreacts, shows frustration, becomes self-critical, or behaves in any number of ways that indicate distress. When a child is diagnosed with ADHD and considered impaired, the tendency is for the adults in her life to lower their expectations and offer support.”

“The accommodated child will often ask questions about matters that she can easily resolve on her own. She enjoys the fact that you drop everything to address her concerns. Playing dumb or foolish can increase assistance because it’s difficult to impose requirements, hold her accountable, or ask her to contribute when you have doubts about her competence. Her staying ineffectual can keep you preoccupied with her, and it becomes your responsibility to solve her trials and tribulations. Often she will complain, ‘Why didn’t you remind me?’ when you failed to run interference for her. The side effect when you and others ‘pick up the slack’ is that she remains unskilled.”

“If your child frequently sabotages your shopping, shop for essentials and the items you want first. Buy what she likes at the end. If she wants you to buy snacks, for example, say, ‘We can get the snacks before we leave, if we’re still interested in shopping.’ Even if this makes your shopping trip less efficient (e.g., instead of working through the aisles in order, you pass the snack aisle at first and return to it later), her behavior may improve.”

“Most ADHD interventions recommend that schools adjust to the needs of the child with ADHD. If the school does not make the recommended changes, parents are encouraged to pressure administrators until the adjustments occur. However, insisting that the school make all the adjustments comes with an important risk: your child may not learn to adapt to others’ ways and adjust to the world the way it is.

As is evident from the above quotations, Craig does not conceptualize ADHD as an illness.  Rather, he presents these kinds of behaviors as ways in which the child copes with difficulties that he or she might be experiencing for various reasons.

The book is written in plain, jargon-free English, and is filled with down-to-earth, practical advice, suggestions, and detailed illustrations.  Craig encourages parents to scrutinize their own actions and perspectives, not from a blaming perspective, but rather to explore ways in which the parent-child interactions might be reinforcing the very behaviors that are causing concern.

Craig’s suggestions and examples are presented thoughtfully, and without patronization, and I think most parents, even those whose children have never been labeled ADHD, will be able to see something of themselves in the pages.

I, and I suspect most people who have worked in this field, have heard many parents say:  I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t know what I can do with this child (or words to that effect).  Well here’s something that any parent can do:  get a copy of this book; read it; and give the suggestions a try.

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Disclosure:  I have no financial links to this book or to any books/materials that I endorse on this website

Book Review:  Tales From The Madhouse, by Gary Sidley

Earlier this year the British publisher PCCS Books published Tales From The Madhouse: An insider critique of psychiatric services, by Gary Sidley.  Gary worked for thirty-three years in the British NHS mental health service.  He has held positions as a psychiatric nurse, a manager, and a clinical psychologist.  He is currently a freelance writer and trainer.  His present focus is the promotion of alternatives to biological psychiatry in the alleviation of human suffering.

Here are some quotes from the book.

“Psychiatry is a fundamentally flawed discipline routinely delivering a form of institutionalized discrimination that detrimentally impacts on the lives of many people already blighted by distress and misery.  The engine room for its deleterious practices is psychiatry’s stubborn, fallacious and self-serving insistence that the range of human suffering construed as ‘mental illness’ primarily represents the manifestation of some form of biological aberration.  The pervasiveness of this government-sponsored malpractice across the Western world, maintained by the powerful vested interests of professional psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry, amounts to a modern-day scandal.” (p xi)

“So Mark had spent 20 years of his life believing himself to be the carrier of a brain deficit, a biological incendiary device in his head that would be detonated by a powerful emotional experience.  Little wonder that he constantly felt on the cusp of something disastrous, and thereby lived a restricted, mundane existence.” (p 38)

“In practice, the person struggling with unusual experiences is forced to choose between either accepting the dominant psychiatric view that they have a biochemical imbalance in their brains, or rejecting this conclusion and risking the subsequent coercion into treatment or loss of support.  Inevitably, feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, many service users will passively accept the explanations being offered by psychiatric experts.” (p 67)

“Two prerequisites for success in therapy, therefore, are a belief that one can influence one’s own future wellbeing and a readiness to put effort into doing so.  If a person has already been sold the idea that mental health problems are primarily caused by defects in brain biochemistry it is improbable that either of these imperatives will be evident.” (p 87)

“The unholy alliance of drug companies and biological psychiatrists has spawned malpractices of a more blatant kind that range from the highly selective and self-serving sharing of information, to bribery and stark criminality.” (p 149)

“Clearly, vested interests inherent to biological psychiatry are not about to willingly capitulate their privileged positions.” (p 191)

“As part of their desperate mission to promote psychiatry as a legitimate medical speciality, the psychiatric profession persists with their fallacious claims that their drug treatments achieve disease-centred effects, restoring harmony to the brain’s biochemistry.” (p 201)

“The views expressed in this book are the product of my experiences associated with 33 years of continuous employment within psychiatric services.  A lifetime of working as part of a system whose remit is to help people suffering misery and distress has led me (and many others) to the stark conclusion that Western psychiatric services are not fit for purpose.” (p 207)

Gary’s criticisms of psychiatry are cogent and convincing.  But in addition, he has drawn on his extensive experience working in the system, to describe in close detail psychiatry’s devastating effects in the lives and hopes of real people.  Through Gary’s sensitively written anecdotes, psychiatry’s “treatments” are exposed as the disempowering, hope-destroying tactics that they are.  In Gary’s stories, the individuals come “alive”, and the descriptions of the “treatments” and manipulations to which they are subjected are credible, compelling, and at times heart-rending.

Gary also addresses the far-reaching issues of psychiatric coercion, hegemony and arrogance, and the barriers that they pose to real progress.  In a readable style, Gary outlines for us the tactics used by psychiatrists to maintain their control, and to pressurize clients and non-psychiatric staff to conform.  Several examples are provided of psychiatry’s failure to address the issues that are raised on this side of the debate, or indeed to take any steps away from a medically-dominated model.

While Tales From The Madhouse is based on Gary Sidley’s experiences within the British system, the material will have strong resonance for readers from other countries.  Pharma-psychiatry is a multinational behemoth whose tentacles span the globe.

Tales From The Madhouse is readable and outspoken.  Its 211 pages constitute an unrefutable critique of psychiatry, and an insistence that fundamental change is long overdue.

I strongly recommend this book.  Please read it and tell others about it.

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Disclosure:  I have no financial links to this book or to any books/materials that I endorse on this website

Book Review: Psychiatry and the Business of Madness An Ethical and Epistemological Accounting, by Bonnie Burstow

This latest book by Bonnie Burstow, PhD, critiques psychiatry, and effectively annihilates any claims that the profession might have had to legitimacy.

Bonnie gives us a scholarly, but very readable, account of:

  • the history of psychiatry, ancient and modern;
  • the significance and shortcomings of the DSM;
  • the legal, ethical, and personal ramifications of involuntary “treatment”;
  • the training of psychiatrists and the dynamics underlying their uncritical acceptance of their profession’s spurious concepts and destructive treatments;
  • the ways in which non-psychiatrist mental health workers are co-opted into the system, and become, often despite good intentions, supporters and active participants in the psychiatric travesty;
  • the role and tactics of the psycho-pharma industry;
  • the stark, destructive, degrading realities of electric shock “treatment”.

In the final chapter, Bonnie offers us a glimpse of what an alternative approach might look like.

Normally when I write a book review, I include some quotes from the work to enable readers to judge for themselves the quality and content of the material.  With Psychiatry and the Business of Madness, however, this presented a problem, in that virtually every one of the 264 pages of text contains eminently quotable material.  Here’s a short sample:

“… the problems with this institution run so deep that what might be construed as ‘improvement’ is not and cannot be sufficient.” (p 21)

“…psychiatry consolidated its power and harnessed the newly acquired credibility of medicine not by being scientific but by mimicking the outward trappings of science and medicine.” (p 44)

“A timely reminder:  No biological sign has ever been found for any ‘mental disorder.’  Correspondingly, there is no known physiological etiology.” (p 75)

“The concepts of ‘open secrets’ and ‘bad faith’ have explanatory value here.  An ‘open secret’ is a truth that everyone knows but does not acknowledge publicly.  Everyone knows the secret; everyone knows that everyone knows the secret, but except for the odd ‘maverick’ who can readily be dismissed, everyone respects the secrecy.  Let me suggest that there are a number of open secrets in the mental health field.  Open secrets that suggested themselves to me as I interviewed practitioners – mainstream practitioners especially – include:  There is something wrong with the drugs.  There is something wrong with much of the research.  There is something wrong with the very way that we are all operating.” (p 163-164)

“All psychiatric drugs ‘work’ by obstructing normal brain function, causing dysfunction.  All substantially interfere with normal thinking and feeling.  All alter the brain’s chemistry and structure, to varying degrees, fundamentally damaging the brain.  All alter the size of the brain, making it (or some part of it) either expand in size or shrink.  All are addictive.  All work in ways that make withdrawal difficult, in some cases, arguably, impossible.  All cause dysfunctions (and in some cases disorders) in various parts of the body.  All work by ‘deactivating’ to some degree, though some primarily activate.  What is experienced as improvement, correspondingly, is invariably one or more of:  sedation, stimulation, and the placebo effect.  The drugs to varying degree inherently mask the very dysfunctions that they create.  They obscure people’s appreciation of their psychic state, and by extension, of the damage.  What goes along with this, there is a perilously close relationship between the purported ‘therapeutic effect’ and the ‘toxic effect,’ with the two at times being identical.  The toxic effect itself can manifest itself in mania and psychosis.” (p 195-196)

“…the pharmaceuticals are the kingpin, the mainstay of the regime of ruling.  Successfully problematize that and the edifice crumbles.  In this chapter, to an appreciable degree, that has happened, for in the final analysis, however much people may cling to them – and I am in no way denying that there are people who regard them as a lifeline – no medical credibility can be attached to a substance that is not medical, that addresses nothing medical, that gives rise to medical disorders, and whose modus operandi is dysfunction and damage.” (p 200)

“So what in point of fact does the research establish?  In short, that ECT is a profoundly injurious treatment that damages the brain, that substantially impairs memory, that gives rise to global cognitive dysfunction – and in the final analysis, it has no lasting efficacy.” (p 214)

“While in the final analysis readers must reach their own conclusions, what the logic of this investigation indicates – and indicates powerfully – is that not just parts of psychiatry, but the discipline and the regime as a whole is epistemologically flawed and ethically unacceptable.  Nor is it ‘fixable,’ for the problems are fundamental, at the core. My invitation, accordingly, is that we as a society do what may have once seemed unthinkable – that we acknowledge that our approaches to problems in living and to ‘problematic others’ are tragically misguided and muster up the courage to begin again.” (p 227)

“Given that psychiatry is blatantly not the answer to life’s woes but indeed, one of the causes thereof, and given that there will always be some need for extensive emotional support, what do we put in its stead?  What we concluded is that tinkering will not serve us, that not only must we break with psychiatry, we have to rid ourselves of rule by experts, we need to stop ‘othering,’ we have to stop imprisoning, and beyond that, we need to fundamentally alter how we live with one another.” (p 264)

 

This book is scholarly, in the sense that it examines the issues, painstakingly, fearlessly, and with impeccable logic.  But, more than scholarly, it is human-centered and compassionate.   There are lots of stories.  Some are tragic; some are hopeful; all are instructive.  Bonnie has drawn on her own personal and professional experiences to bring the issues vividly to life, and to help us see that the victims of psychiatry are not just the people who have experienced physical damage from the drugs and the electric shocks, but all of us who live in this psychiatrically pathologized, and alienated, world of “us” and “them”.

Psychiatry and the Business of Madness reads seamlessly, and is a difficult book to put down.  I cannot think of a single issue in the psychiatric debate that is not covered – and covered thoroughly and convincingly – within its pages.  For those who wish to explore the various topics in greater depth, there are thirteen pages of references.

Please get a copy.  Read it, and tell others.  This book is a major milestone in the antipsychiatry effort, and stands as a monumental challenge to psychiatry’s continued existence as a branch of medicine.

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Disclosure:  I have no financial links to this book or to any books/materials that I endorse.

 

 

 

 

Book Review:  A Disease Called Childhood, by Marilyn Wedge

Avery, a member of Penguin Group USA, has recently published A Disease Called Childhood, by Marilyn Wedge.  Marilyn has a PhD in psychology and works as a family therapist.

In 2014, fully 11% of American children had received a “diagnosis” of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  It is widely believed by these children, their parents, the press, the public, and government agencies, that this loose collection of vaguely defined behaviors constitutes an illness – specifically a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is corrected by stimulant drugs.

Dr. Wedge’s book is a timely reminder that the “science” on which this perspective rests is highly questionable, and that there are alternative perspectives and alternative ways of working with children.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“From my point of view, behavioral problems such as aggression, disobedience, or other behaviors commonly associated with ADHD, such as inattention and hyperactivity, are signs that something is wrong in a child’s life – either extreme trauma, like abuse or poverty, or something more typical, like a lack of discipline or a difficult family transition.  Children are not fully developed mentally or behaviorally.” (p xii)

“There is another aspect of ADHD that worries me.  As stimulants have come to be prescribed for ever larger numbers of children, our society’s very perception of childhood has changed.  Instead of seeing ADHD-type behaviors as part of the spectrum of normal childhood that most kids eventually grow out of, or as responses to bumps or rough patches in a child’s life, we cluster these behaviors into a discrete (and chronic) “illness” or “mental health condition” with clearly defined boundaries.  And we are led to believe that this “illness” is rooted in the child’s genetic makeup and requires treatment with psychiatric medication.” (p 17)

“A serious problem for teachers is that an ADHD diagnosis exempts a child from having to take accountability for his behavior.” (p 91)

“Each individual has a unique story that ultimately reveals the true reasons for troubled behavior.  A child’s individual story is both a clue to the cause of his troubles and a signpost that guides us to help him.” (p 113)

“And in our medicalized society, deviating from the norm tends to be interpreted to mean there is something “biologically wrong” with the child.” (p 123)

“Using medication to suppress the life story of a child who is suffering from trauma subjects him to yet another form of maltreatment.” (p 137)

“If we realize that children can be overactive and impulsive for any number of reasons, we can avoid reducing their behavior to a simplistic diagnosis of ADHD.” (p 195)

“When parents provide limits and don’t give in to whining and screaming, children learn patience.  They learn to tolerate a little bit of frustration, which is an important skill in life.  Living with structure from an early age, children find comfort in rules, and parents naturally maintain and evolve these rules as the child develops.” (p 202)

“Medical researchers have not yet found a biochemical cause for ADHD on which they agree.  Despite sixty years of heavily-funded research, there is no laboratory test that indicates the presence or absence of ADHD in a child.” (p 217)

“The brain has become the scapegoat for all sorts of childhood problems.” (p 218)

A Disease Called Childhood is a carefully researched and highly readable book.  The author outlines the history of the ADHD “diagnosis”, and draws attention to the flawed research, and questionable promotional tactics that have spuriously pathologized and drugged millions of children, not only here in the US, but also overseas.

Marilyn Wedge draws unstintingly, and with evident compassion,  from her wealth of professional experience, and stresses the supreme importance of getting to know our children and providing the love and structure that they so desperately need.

I strongly recommend this book for parents, teachers, and physicians who write prescriptions for this so-called illness.  The book will also be helpful for anyone who is concerned about the extent to which pharma-psychiatry is systematically pathologizing human existence.

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Disclosure:  I have no financial links to this book or to any books/materials endorsed on this site.

Book Review: Body Dysmorphic Disorder: The Illusion, by Zoe Wybrant

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is one of the so-called mental disorders listed in the DSM-5.  The manual lists the following  diagnostic criteria, (p 242):

A.  Preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance that are not observable or appear slight to others.
B.  At some point during the course of the disorder, the individual has performed repetitive behaviors (e.g., mirror checking, excessive grooming, skin picking, reassurance seeking) or mental acts (e.g., comparing his or her appearance with that of others ) in response to the appearance concerns.
C.  The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D.  The appearance preoccupation is not better explained by concerns with body fat or weight in an individual whose symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder:  The Illusion, discusses this “disorder” from the perspective of someone who has struggled with these issues herself.  Zoe challenges the usefulness of diagnosis and standard psychiatric treatment – and provides an abundance of clearly-stated contributory factors, together with suggestions for self-help.

The book reads nicely, and would be helpful for anyone who is troubled with these kinds of concerns, or for therapists/counselors who encounter these kinds of issues in their work.  Here are some quotes:

“A child who is never encouraged nor praised, nor shown affection, may harbour feelings of insecurity and low self-worth, because when we are rejected, we wonder why.”

“If we have tooth-ache pain-relief does not remove our pain, it numbs it, temporarily.  We must address the cause of the tooth-ache to solve the problem.  The same applies to anxiety.”

“Being diagnosed as mentally ill leads us to believe our problem is out of our hands.  The key to beating anxiety is taking control, how can we do this if we believe we have none?”

“I wonder if you have ever encountered a questionnaire that has asked if there is a ‘history of depression’ in your family?  If you answer yes, the problem can be interpreted as genetic, but most people at some point encounter depression.  Our mother may have experienced depression as the result of a divorce, and our grandmother having lost a child.  Unfortunately when ‘family history of depression’ is recorded, it suggests depression is part of our genetic make-up.  One of my own assessments read to this effect, it’s terribly misleading.”

“If you value popularity then you will always feel unhappy if you are unpopular.  Having a happy family, loving partner, and wealth will not remove this unhappiness, because our values dictate our emotions.”

“You only get one shot at life so don’t run away from yourself as I did.  If you are smart embrace it.  If you have a sense-of-humour share it.  If you are creative then express yourself.  If something leads you to feel good grab it with both hands, as long as it doesn’t cause another pain or sadness.  When we are happy we are relaxed and when we are relaxed we are confident, and confidence attracts people to us.”

“Never apologise if you have nothing to apologise for.  The moment we apologise we are accepting we have done something wrong.  It’s easy for people to take advantage.  Furthermore, we then feel we have done something wrong.”

One of the great evils of psychiatry is the fact that its spurious medicalization of all human problems is fundamentally disempowering.  The message, endlessly repeated in adverts, infomercials, and psychiatric opinion pieces, is that human problems are illnesses which need to be “treated” by medical experts, usually through toxic drugs, which they euphemistically describe as medications.  Psychiatry has eroded, and in some areas, virtually eliminated, the notion that people can help themselves overcome counterproductive perceptions, mindsets, and behaviors.  The Illusion offers a refreshing and much-needed counterpoint to this perspective.

This book is available in electronic form at Amazon (UK) and is highly recommended.  It will soon be available in paperback format as well.

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Disclaimer:  I have no financial ties to this book or to any materials recommended on this website.

Straight Talk from Lucy Johnstone

PCCS Books Ltd has recently published A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis, by Lucy Johnstone, PhD.  Lucy is a consultant psychologist working in Wales, and has been an outspoken critic of psychiatry’s medical model.

Here are some quotes:

“…my own conclusion, based on extensive reading and clinical work and many enlightening discussions with service users, is that psychiatric diagnosis is not a valid or evidence-based way of understanding the difficulties and distress that people experience.”

“With the exception of a narrower set of criteria for autism spectrum disorder, the general effect of the DSM-5 revisions is to create a massive expansion of psychiatric ‘illness’.  It has been calculated that the new diagnosis of binge eating disorder will create more than ten million new psychiatric ‘patients’, while disruptive mood dysregulation disorder will label millions of children as mentally ill.  These changes lead to the increasing medicalization of everyday life, in which normal reactions and problems are turned into ‘illnesses’ to be treated by medication.”

“…UK clinical psychologists are saying that psychiatric diagnosis is not fit for purpose, and we need to develop other, non-medical ways of describing and understanding mental distress.”

“People typically collect a whole range of diagnoses as they progress through the system, and are often prescribed a whole range of different medications, on a basis that often seems like guesswork.  We can now see how this situation comes about.  If it seems like guesswork – well, that is pretty much what it is.”

“…the vast majority of psychiatric problems have no known biological causes.  This includes conditions such as ‘schizophrenia’, ‘bipolar disorder’, ‘clinical depression’, ‘personality disorder’, ‘paranoia’, ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’ (OCD), ‘anorexia nervosa’ and ‘ADHD’.  It also includes ‘psychosis’ which is an umbrella term for people who have unusual beliefs and experiences.”

“People sometimes say that they welcome a diagnosis because it gives them some kind of explanation.  This is entirely understandable – everyone wants an explanation.  My point is that psychiatric diagnosis does not actually explain anything.  Moreover, as I will discuss later, there are much better explanations on offer.”

“There is nothing wrong with searching for patterns in experiences of distress – indeed, it is essential.  The problem arises when we impose a preconceived classification system which does not account for people’s actual lived experiences and, moreover, does not even fit the evidence.”

“The simplest answer to the question of ‘What do we do instead of diagnosing people?’ is ‘Stop diagnosing people’.  The argument that we need a fully worked-out alternative system before we can abandon something that is admitted to be non-valid even by the people who invented it is, in my view, a complete red herring.  And the simplest current alternative is to ask people what their problems are, and start from there.”

“Whatever your view about the validity of psychiatric diagnosis, it is universally acknowledged that these labels lead to stigma and discrimination.”

“Psychiatry imposes a particular way of understanding your experiences.  For some people this model is a helpful one…For others it is more damaging than the problems which brought them into services in the first place.  It can be very hard to distance yourself from this powerful expert verdict which has such a profound effect on people’s lives.”

A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis is a remarkable book.  Although it explores the most profound issues in the diagnosis debate, the language is simple and unpretentious.  There are numerous and informative quotes from people who have experienced the disempowering stigma of psychiatric “diagnoses”.  And there are uplifting stories of people who have found other ways of describing and thinking about themselves.

The book is small – literally – it will fit in your coat pocket.  It can be read straight through, or browsed every morning on the train.  It is brimful of ideas, and I cannot think of a single issue related to psychiatric “diagnosis” that is not addressed clearly and thoughtfully.

Please read it and tell others.

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Disclosure

I have no financial links to this book or to any books/materials endorsed on this site.

Psychiatry Disrupted 

On August 15, 2014, McGill-Queens University Press published Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution.  The work is a collection of papers by various authors, edited by Bonnie Burstow, Brenda A. LeFrançois, and Shaindl Diamond.  There is a Foreword by Paula Caplan, and a Preface by Kate Millett.

It is no secret that there is growing opposition to psychiatry.  No longer marginalized and ignored, as in former decades, anti-psychiatry writers are proclaiming psychiatry’s spurious and destructive nature in a wide range of venues.  Even the mainstream media is taking tentative steps in our direction.

But there is also a growing awareness within our movement that speaking out against psychiatry’s abuses is not enough.  Increasingly, we are hearing the question:  what can we do about it?  And in this respect, Psychiatry Disrupted is timely and welcome.  This book does indeed criticize psychiatry, but it goes beyond criticism, and addresses the crucially important question:  what can we do to stop it?

Here are the titles and authors of the fourteen chapters, with a quote from each one:

1.  Impassioned Praxis: An Introduction to Theorizing Resistance to Psychiatry, by Bonnie Burstow and Brenda LeFrançois

“Children are being massively over-drugged as a result of the complex relationships between pharmaceutical companies vested capitalist interests and child psychiatry’s subsequently entwined influence over parents, carers, and other professionals working with children (such as within social work, nursing, and education).”

2.  Becoming Perpetrator: How I came to Accept Restraining and Confining Disabled Aboriginal Children, by Chris Chapman

“And what held all the violence, care, and rationalization at the treatment centre together as sensible, but which has no secure foundation, is the myth of achieving an enduring state of normalcy, free from emotional discomfort, even in the face of violence and oppression.  The children and staff were both disciplined toward this imaginary state, parallel to one another, but distinctly.  Following restraints, we ‘debrief’ new staff to help them feel at peace with perpetrating these forms of violence; and then we ‘processed’ with the child who had just been restrained, requiring them to accept ‘full responsibility’ for having individually caused the entire situation (see Jenkins 1990).”

3.  The Withering Away of Psychiatry: An Attrition Model for Antipsychiatry, by Bonnie Burstow

“The power of psychiatry, its continual growth, its ever more tenacious entrenchment in the state is a brutal reality and not one for which we bear responsibility.  I would like to suggest, however, that antipsychiatry is also floundering because it has no model or models to guide its action.”

4.  Psychology Politics Resistance: Theoretical Practice in Manchester, by Ian Parker

“Women are expected to be as busy ministering to the needs of others in their workplace as they are at home, and the ’emotional labour’ they undertake leads to deeper and more draining forms of alienation.  Women, and the men who learn from them how to behave nicely to customers and clients at work, are thus expected to engage more fully in their work and the stage is set for more pressure and more personal breakdowns for those who are eventually unable to cope.”

5.  From Subservience to Resistance: Nursing versus Psychiatry, by Simon Adam

“Why is it that despite the obvious ethical violations psychiatry commits, nurses remain silent?  What are the institutional conditions under which this silence comes to be?”

6.  Developing Partnerships to Resist Psychiatry within Academia, by Peter Beresford and Robert Menzies

“When it comes to psychiatry and mental ‘health,’ the vision advanced by the champions of biogenetic psychiatry and new realist mental health is abidingly neoliberal.  The new discourse constructs a psychiatric subject who stands in contrast to the robust, autonomous, trustworthy, self-governing citizen of the liberal dream. This psychiatrically outcast subject is an alien, an object of sympathy, and/or derision (or simply an object), a victim of a ‘broken brain’ (Andreasen 1985), a being to be spoken and written about (but who cannot take part in the dialogue herself), and above all else, ‘a problem’ (DuBois 2005[1903]) to be risk-monitored and rehabilitated through the application of law, science, and technology.”

7.  “We Do Not Want to Be Split Up From Our Family”: Group Home Tenants Amidst Land Use Conflict, by Chava Finkler

“Language that emphasizes dependence as a prominent psychiatric survivor trait reflects an outlook based on the privilege of able-bodiedness and wealth.”

8.  Disability Divisions, Definitions, and Disablism: When Resisting Psychiatry is Oppressive, by A. J. Withers

“Another reason that psychiatrized people resist inclusion within the disability label is the view that disability is permanent.”

9.  Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Liberation from Psychiatric Oppression, by Tina Minkowitz

“The recognition of forced and non-consensual psychiatric interventions as torture represents in itself a step towards reparation of the harm done by these acts of violence.”

10.  Deeply Engaged Relationships: Alliance between Mental Health Workers and Psychiatric Survivors in the UK, by Mick McKeown, Mark Cresswell, and Helen Spandler

“After all, the survivor movement has a noble history of its own in providing a persuasive, reasoned, and moral critique of bio-psychiatry and an equally compelling vision for change.  These kinds of discussions, debates, and alliances are happening in various contexts internationally.”

11.  Trans Jeopardy/Trans Resistance: Shaindl Diamond Interviews Ambrose Kirby, by Ambrose Kirby

“But the point is that people are still being directed to go through the hoops of psychiatrists to get access to medical transition.  And it’s clear that psychiatry is holding onto the right to classify and determine the best course of action for us.”

12.  Taking it Public: Use Art to Make Healing a Public Narrative, by Rosemary Barnes and Susan Schellenberg

“Equating emotional pain to mental illness functions to suppress other possibilities, other meanings, and other stories for naming and responding to such pain.”

13.  Feminist Resistance against the Medicalization of Humanity: Integrating Knowledge about Psychiatric Oppression and Marginalized People, by Shaindl Diamond

“As institutional psychiatry grows in power, more and more people are coming into contact with the psychiatric system and are being labeled and subjected to different types of psychiatric intervention.”

14.  Sly Normality: Between Quiescence and Revolt, by China Mills

“Pretending to be normal – mimicking – seems to emerge in the stories of those who have survived the psychiatric system as a tactic, a strategy of deception that enables some freedoms, at a cost.”

Psychiatry Disrupted is a compelling, thought-provoking volume for anyone interested in this field.  Please read and pass on.