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What Is It Like To Be Committed To the Psychiatric Ward of a Hospital? - a doctoral student in psychology speaks out - modified January 15, 2002
Jenelle's Story - modified January 22, 2001
Concerned Mothers Speak Out Against Psychiatry - updated June 21, 1999
A Concerned Friend Speaks Out Against Psychiatry - last modified May 12, 1999
Harm from Psychiatric Drugs - last modified January 22, 2001
Psychiatric Stigma - last modified October 5, 1999
Psychiatrists-in-Training Debate Web-Master of this Web Site - modified December 15, 2001
Compliments - modified August 17, 2003
Awards Won by this Website - modified May 3, 2001
Criticisms - modified May 1, 2002
Physical Restraints - modified October 12, 2000
Volunteers - modified August 4, 2000
Miscellaneous - modified January 29, 2000
Cartas en español - modificado la última vez el 12 de Julio del 2000
What Is It Like To Be Committed the Psychiatric Ward of a Hospital?
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2001 02:30:20 EST
Subject: No Subject
I am a doctoral student in psychology. Several months ago I was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward in a general hospital. I was depressed and, seeking support, had called my parents and told them that I was suicidal. They promptly called the police, who arrived at my apartment, handcuffed me, and transported me to the local psychiatric center. There I was placed in a lobby with several psychotic patients. I remained there for 5 hours before I was evaluated by a psychiatrist. She spoke to me for approximately 10 minutes before she decided that it was in my "best interest" for me to be committed to a psychiatric ward. I protested, of course, believing that wrenching me away from life would cause far more harm than good. She expressed no empathy, however, and sent me back to the lobby. I remained there for 12 more hours, during which time she passed by me numerous times without bothering to make eye contact.
After being transferred to the hospital ward, I was placed in a room with an actively psychotic woman. I remained there for the weekend, during which time not a single hospital employee asked me why I was depressed. I was offered Celexa and took it only when a nurse suggested that my refusal to take medication might be perceived as "resistant" and thus delay my discharge. The Celexa made me so ill that I could hardly get out of bed; although the ward psychiatrist was aware of my reaction to the medication, he did not consider changing the drug or the dosage. On Monday morning, I met with the ward psychiatrist, who told me that I would have to remain in the hospital. I asked him how he had come to that conclusion, given that he hadn't spoken to me once since my arrival at the hospital. He replied, "I have experience." He went on to tell me that I had a "control problem" and that I refused to relinquish control to the hospital staff. I was stunned. I had never before thought that a goal of psychiatric care was to rob the patient of control. Apparently patients who ask questions are considered insolent. I was finally released from the hospital five days after my arrival.
I can certainly say that I received no benefit from my stay in the psychiatric ward. I am more depressed than I was before, having been traumatized by my experience with the mental health care system. I have been alarmed by the utter arrogance of the psychiatrists I have encountered within the last several months. After leaving the hospital, I visited a psychiatrist in private practice who informed me that I would not get better unless I took medication. During her initial interview with me, she failed to even ask what life events had brought on my depression. She did, however, tell me that I had a chemical imbalance. Although I was distrustful of psychiatrists by this point, I spent over a month trying out Effexor, then Prozac, then Wellbutrin. I was unable to tolerate the side effects of any of them. Only when I went off medication altogether did I begin to feel "normal" and more like myself. When I informed my psychiatrist that I was unwilling to try more medication, she told me that I was being irrational and risking my life. Well, I guess I will just take that risk. I am frankly sick of being patronized by psychiatrists who uncritically subscribe to biological theories of depression and who ignore obvious psychosocial factors that contribute to depression. The belief that the treatment of depression requires medication has been reified by the psychiatric community. I don't believe that all psychiatrists are as incompetent as the ones who I have encountered. I do, however, believe that psychiatrists should question the "bible" of their profession, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Just because a certain cluster of symptoms is defined as a disorder does not mean that these symptoms are indicative of an underlying chemical imbalance that requires treatment with psychotropic drugs.
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 99 12:29PM MST
From: Jenelle Dorner
To: Douglas Smith
Subject: Re: My story
Dear Douglas Smith,
Thank you for writing this article. I do think it would be beneficial for others to read. Feel free to link to my page and use our pictures. The one of Greg and I with Kramer that is on my page is one that was taken during our engagement.
A little about us...Greg and I had been good friends quite a few years before I aquired TD [tardive dyskinesia]. He was one of few friends who stuck by my side during my illness and continued our friendship after I returned to school. I lost many people that I once thought were my friends after this happened to me. Greg is what a best friend really should be. He cares about me and who I am. He sees beyond my disability and always looks at me as a true partner and I look at him the same way. Greg would never stoop to pity me. He knows that I feel pity is degrading and stands up for me when I refuse to tolerate it from others. We married each other because we had an amazing friendship and we fell in love. I believe people with disabilities of any sort are no different from anyone else in their emotional needs and first of those human needs I believe is love.
I just wanted you to know my feelings about our relationship. When I read the article I kind of felt like people may still think..."Oh what a great wonderful guy for marrying this gimpy woman whose been through so much..." I think the article is wonderful, but you might put in more about our marriage being a mutual partnership. Greg didn't just fall in love with me...we fell in love with each other and we were best friends for a long time before we married. I just don't ever want anyone to think we have a pity relationship because it has never been that way.
I hope you don't mind me critiquing a little. I think it is so great that you are helping me educate others.
Everything is quite accurate. If you need any help with the website or my article please feel free to e-mail me anytime. Did you get a copy of my article from the Dystonia Foundation's newsletter?? I was just wondering. It tells a lot of the story and more about Kramer and how he helps me.
Thank you so much and please keep in touch.
Dec. 6, 1999
I've been thinking of writing to legislators suggesting state laws more stringent than FDA rules pertaining to neuroleptic drugs and calling the law "Jenelle's Law." We have Megan's Law and Kendra's Law. (Better still, unlike Megan and Kendra (Webdale), you're still alive!) Do you like the idea of a law being named after you?
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 99 14:20PM MST
From: Jenelle Dorner
To: Douglas Smith
Subject: Re: Neuroleptics & Law
December 7, 1999
Dear Douglas Smith,
Thank you. Tears came to my eyes as I read your proposal to use my name. What an honor. I would be delighted to have my name on something like this that is so desperately needed. There are so many people like me who have been damaged by drugs and so many people ignoring what is happening. Please let me know about your law proposals and let me know if you ever would like my input. Thank you so much for all you are doing to help fight this.
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 00 18:41PM MST
From: Jenelle Dorner - mailto:%firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Douglas Smith - email@example.com
Subject: Neuroleptics & Law
Dear Doug Smith,
Thank you for proposing [Jenelle's Law]. I think it sounds wonderful & effective. If you would like me to help in any way (with writing etc. or anything) please let me know. I would be glad to help out if you need it.
I do hope someone is able to get something like this passed into law. There are so many people being harmed by these drugs every day and so many people refusing to help us fight against it. Thank you for all the efforts you are giving the movement. There are many people benefitting from your advocacy. All my best to you.
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 00 19:24PM MST
From: Celia Johnson
Subject: Jenelle's Law
Dear Mr. Smith,
My daughter, Jenelle Dorner forwarded the information about your proposal for Jenelle's Law and it brought tears to my eyes. I just want to thank you for caring and for the effort that you are taking. During these last four years I have often asked myself why I haven't done more to advocate, but I think I am just now getting to the point that I am perhaps starting to move beyond the heartbreak. I hope this doesn't sound selfish, but sometimes it still seems like a nightmare and it is hard to believe that it really happened. I know that my husband is still in denial.
Anyway, to address Jenelle's Law, if there is something that I can do to support this effort, I would really like to see this happen. Thank you for all you do.
To see proposal for Jenelle's Law, click on this link.
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 00 15:51PM EST
Subject: Jenelle's Law
Searching for information on acute reactions to the drug Reglan, I came across your web-site today. I want to thank you for your efforts. My husband is suffering from the effects of Reglan taken 5 weeks ago. He only took the drug for @24 hrs. He was hospitalized for 3 days and although his symptoms have improved, he seems to have reached a plateau in improvement. In other words, his improvement does not seem to be progressing at this time. However, we are very thankful that he is not left with severe symptoms such as Jenelle's. His initial reaction/symptoms were much like the effects that Jenelle's story indicates that she still has to this day, but he did improve considerably from the time his symptoms were at their worst.
I have a couple of questions for you, if and when you have time: 1. Have you had any success in promoting legislation for Jenelle's Law? I would be interested in helping to get drugs such as Reglan off the market. 2. Do you classify psychologists in the same negative light that you cast psychiatrists? Our son is a senior in college, planning to be a psychologist (after several more years of school.) I have not had time to read enough of your writings to know whether you would, as I do, be more inclined to believe that counseling would be beneficial as treatment for "mental illness", depression, etc.
I would also like to make the comment that while I do agree with much of what you have written (the few articles that I have read), I do know from personal family experience that there are some mental conditions that truly are caused from chemical imbalances; such as the disruption of Dopamine levels caused by such drugs as Reglan. However, from additional research, I have learned that further treatment with other drugs usually does not restore the chemicals to normal and does not usually correct the problems. While I am not sure that I agree with you that psychiatric drugs should never be used, I do concur that not all "mental illnesses" are caused by chemical imbalances and that they should probably not be treated with drugs as a standard first course of treatment.
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 99
Just thought I'd express all the anger and madness I feel towards psychiatry, treatment, damage, etc. For over 5 years now I have been "forced" to deal with the system's forced practices on my only son. He has been like many others drugged, coerced, restrained, thorazined or should I say blunted with insecticide, etc. Over and over he would end up at the psych ward. Over and over we would not sleep, would not be allowed any information, were lied to and coerced, had to replace lots of household items because of the neuroleptic poisonous effect on our son, etc. It has been a total nightmare. When I watch the videos of him before and after I throw up thinking that this is happening to millions of other people's loves ones. Because these so-called professionals have so much power, we were looked upon as uncooperative parents that didn't want "the best" for our son. Well if what we got was the "best" then he would have been better off DEAD. I had to force myself to sleep for over three years thinking about the movement disorder that they forced him to have... They didn't even say they were SORRY. They didn't even acknowledge any of this but they did offer MORE DRUGS. Yes, more and better DRUGS!
One video of him I gave to a well known psychiatrist shows him pacing and rocking for hours on end. Drooling, wetting on himself and twitching his fingers non-stop. Another part of the 8 hour video shows the hemi-facial movements they gave him, you know the TD [tardive dyskinesia] that doesn't happen right away. Also the arm movements, the eyelids blinking endlessly.
Then there is the system. One drug pusher after another trying to pump drugs and give appointments 2 or 3 weeks later to SEE HOW HE WAS DOING?? When we called and said he wasn't doing well we got recording after recording or some staff person taking the message. Usually no one would return the calls but all of them told us to call 911 if he GOT OUT OF CONTROL!
Now that I am a member of Support Coalition International and RAPS/Relatives and Allies of Psychiatric Survivors I know how the whole system works. The drug order, the label order, the court order, the warehousing order and all the other orders that follow. I made myself learn about DRUGS. I became very knowledgeable regarding neuroleptics, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants. I researched and collected thousands of pieces of information I share with hundreds of parents and allies I talk to daily. We will not let them DAMAGE OUR CHILDREN OR LOVED ONES ANY MORE!
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 15:19:11 -0800
My 28 year old daughter developed overt symptoms of schizophrenia over five years ago. After researching drugs and other treatments, it was clear that drugs do not cure the disease and cause serious long term problems. ... She was committed to locked facilities for 72-hours on three different occassions, where she refused drug therapy, even though two of the facilities state that she received drug therapy! However, in Dec 98, I had to take her to our local Emergency Room and asked for an injection of Haldol. She had previously had one other injection of Haldol 5mg. 15 months earlier (after eating a gluten-free, but high sugar diet) that helped her recover from that episode. However, she was given, without our knowledge, 25 mg. of the long acting form of Prolixin, called Prolixin Deconeate. She had terrible side effects, which still persist, 3.5 months later. She required anti-parkinson drugs to counteract severe and disabling muscle contractions, walked like a zombie for 2+months, drooled, was mentally retarded, said she had an electric shock running through her brain, developed akathesia, the compulsion to walk or move constantly. Her only relief was to be taken on long car rides, otherwise she paced around the house and became exhausted. She couldn't sleep and had to take sleeping pills for weeks. She felt like bugs were crawling on her skin, etc. She was suicidal and constantly asked us to kill us. Just shoot me in the head. She would fall down on the floor and say that she couldn't take it anymore. I have observed my daughter's disease for 4 years and can state that THE CURE WAS MUCH WORSE THAN HER DISEASE. THE DRUGS CAUSED MORE PROBLEMS THAN THEY CURED. [capitalization in original] She said that the voices were less, but so what. She could deal with that much easier than the horrible side effects from the drugs. When she first became sick, I read Peter Breggin's book TOXIC PSYCHIATRY and was determined to avoid drugs, even though there is so much pressure to use drugs. However, my daughter's experience was so much worse than described in the book. I will never trust another psyciatrist. ...
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A Concerned Friend Speaks Out Against Psychiatry
Date: Tue, 04 May 99 13:45PM
If you could offer your advise or any assistance regarding the following situation, I would be most obliged to you.
I have a friend suffering from depression who has been repeatedly victimized by her family and the psychiatric system for over seven years. Certain family members have a lot of clout with local physicians and have managed to keep her drugged up on Haldol in order to keep her at home and dependent on her alcholic, dysfunctional family. When she leaves town, her family always sabotages her by alerting either the police or those in her new environment to her mental history and medication "requirements". Because of the stigma of mental illness, she then loses all credibility, is condescended to or even hospitalized all over again. She is kept economically helpless because of a spotty employment record due to these problems.
I have known this person for twenty-three years. She was fine before her family put her in Oakcrest and medicated her. Haldol is much too strong for ordinary depression. The side effects of this drug make her rock back and forth and a few years ago, made her exhibit symptoms characteristic of paranoid schizophrenia. She is not schitzoid; she is depressed. It is the drugs, Haldol, Zyprexa, and the dangerous drug Resperidol that have made her this way. Haldol is for out-of-control patients. Her parents think my friend is out-of-control if she voices her opinions or gets emotional because they are in denial themselves (alcholic syndrome).
As a teen, my friend lost a father and a significant other within a month of each other. The following summer, she became a camp counselor. She had a break down because of the depression and loss and was hospitalized and drugged in Oakcrest. That is when all of this started. Every time she leaves home or finds a job, her family undermines her efforts. Is anything illegal taking place here? Libel, slander - something?
Next week, my friend will go to court to appeal for release from conservatorship. To support her, I will write a letter to the judge containing information similar to the above.
Can you please help me to help my friend? She means a lot to me and it hurts to see her treated this way.
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Harm from Psychiatric Drugs
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 00 23:55PM EST
Subject: Pamphlet Distribution help
I found your web site tonight and feel I have finally found affirmation of my beliefs on this vital issue. I am not, nor have ever been treated on the record for any mental illness. I am, however a recovered alcoholic and drug addict 51 years old with 6 years clean after 29 years of abuse. The only psychotropics I ever took were in the days of my wild youth and these were available on the street. I suffered from many of the side effects described on your message board as a result of LSD, Peyote, Psillocybin and other psychidelic ingestion. The symptoms continued for several years after discontinuing the abuse of these psychotropics.
Today my life is wonderful, have a great job and spend many hours of volunteer time working with young people who have addiction problems. The greatest difficulty I have in my volunteer work is trying to help addicts in early recovery who have been wrongly diagnosed as mentally ill. They arrive clean of the street drugs, but newly-addicted to the psychotropics given them at the rehab or detox. Some realize what has been done to them, and manage to get drug-free within our program, which is basically a spiritual approach combined with intensive daily group and individual cognitive therapy. It is a rule of our program that we are not allowed to express any medical opinions, and those who feel as I do are bitterly castigated when we suggest that maybe these drugs are causing problems.
The end result of this situation is that many return to their street drugs and die, or continue on the meds merry-go-round for years in misery. I have never been able to guide a person in ths program to sucessful recovery and a full happy life as long as any mood- altering drugs were being taken.
Some of my peers also feel the way I do, but we are all at a loss as to what to do about this situation. I would like to recieve some of your pamphlets and make copies for distribution in our community. The work we do saves lives, but we lose so many to prescription meds. Perhaps these pamphlets will help.
Rocky Hill, New Jersey
From: "Mark Miller" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: [drugawareness] Call for Stories and Photos.
Date: Mon, Jul 17, 2000, 8:38 AM
Dear ICFDA eGroups subscribers…
This is a rather different message, and a difficult one at that.
As many of you may know, my wife and I lost our 13-year son to an SSRI-induced suicide three years ago next week. (drugawareness.org/matthewmiller.html)
In a few weeks we will be going to trial here in Kansas City in attempt to prove that Pfizer has long known about the relationship between their drug Zoloft, and violent or suicidal actions. (information posted at http://justiceseekers.com/) [<--Click on "PROZAC/ZOLOFT INFORMATION" link on left edge of page]
It most likely will be a long, difficult and personally taxing ordeal.
My wife and I have chosen to pursue this litigation because we believe there need to be changes in the ways these drugs are marketed and labeled, especially by doctors who prescribe off-label to children.
We know we are not going into this alone. We have outstanding legal representation. We have the prayers of many who have also suffered. We know that all those who have died on these medications, and they are far too numerous to mention, stand with us. (It is no understatement to say that we feel their presence every day. Perhaps even your own loved ones.) And we ultimately know that the good Lord blesses our efforts—this "rising up in righteous anger."
In the coming weeks, we will have an opportunity to share our story with many people, especially within the news media. In fact, we have an important interview with a national news organization in August.
And that's why I'm writing.
One of the things that most convinced us that Matt's medicine was responsible for his actions were the countless letters we have received from our website. They still come in every day. For the most part, they represent a tragic realization that the "cure" was "cause."
If you have suffered on SSRI medications, specifically Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, Effexor, Serzone, Celexa (or any other serotonergic medicine), please send me a photo and a short paragraph on a separate piece of 8 1/2" X 11" paper stating what happened. It could be as simple as "My brother took his life on Zoloft after three weeks of use," or "I almost lost my life trying to withdraw from Paxil." Please use names and addresses and phone numbers. I want to build a scrapbook to share with the press.
Perhaps with your help, we can make a difference. And your help in building this scrapbook will go a long ways to show the human dimension to this national tragedy.
If you can, please send a photo and short paragraph to me by August 15, 2000 to:
13920 GarnettOr if you prefer, email me your photo (preferably as JPEG file) and paragraph to me at email@example.com. I will not be able to return originals, but I will let you know I've received them.
Overland Park, KS 66221
Thank you for your cooperation. Obviously some of you reached by this email will not have had a personally devastating experience with these drugs, and for that I am grateful. But, if you have, please take a moment to help out in this way.
I know this book will make a powerful statement with whomever we talk to.
Thank you again…
Mark and Cheryl Miller
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 99 08:42AM MDT
Subject: Effexor damaged my brain
Hi, can you tell me where I can get any help? I was on Effexor for a year and have been off for nearly three years now. I have lost all libido and ability to feel pleasure from sex, eating, etc. My memory is severly impaired. I cannot think abstractly. I have no emotions. My body is numb. Is there any recourse for us who have been damaged?
No, I don't know anybody who is particularly knowledgeable about recovering from the harm you have experienced. I know what I would do if I were you, however: I'd eat the most natural, wholesome food I could, including at least one leafy green salad a day, would run two miles every other day (or more often if I felt up to it), would take a variety of vitamin/mineral supplements every day (as I do now), and I would never wake up to an alarm clock when I didn't have to for work. If you are waking up to an alarm, you are not getting enough sleep. I believe firmly in the healing power of sleep. Melatonin helps some people sleep better. I've used it and find it gives me more of the dream-filled sleep that is most important. Articles cited in Antipsychiatry News Clips say the brain is always regenerating and growing new cells, so there is hope of recovering, partly or entirely.
Douglas A. Smith
webmaster for the Antipsychiatry Coalition
See also "Concerned Mothers Speak Out Against Psychiatry" (above on this page) for more first-hand accounts of harm from psychiatric drugs.
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 99 18:57PM
I'd just like to say what a wonderful site this is. One of the nice things about it is that it is succinct and cleanly set out. I haven't read all the articles but the one about stigma by Lawrence Stevens was very nicely expressed. I am a doctor and I've always lied about my two week hospital admission as a student. I lied about it on my pilot's license medical form. I've lied about it on my job health questionnaires. I didn't tell my last girlfriend and am procrastinating on buying a house because I know that I'll need life insurance and have to lie again. ...
Psychiatric stigma is surely one of the biggest factors that makes psychiatric diagnosis such a self fulfilling prophecy, along with the rebound effect that all the antidepressants/antipsychotics have by downregulating and upregulating the receptors they work on.
I want very much to help this crusade against psychiatry but there again I run a risk of being scrutinized as to my motivating reasons. ...
I feel most medical students enter med school neutral but if they accept the teachings of psychiatry and pursue that line then they are then committed to that line of thinking. None of us are immune to self denial and using the bits of information that justify the argument we want to believe and if your livelihood and professional image relies on it then I'm sure that denial is pretty strong. ...
I know a lot of my fellow students felt uneasy about the premises of some of psychiatry, but when it's just another load of facts to learn along with the rest of medicine your not going to take up the banner in lectures on your own.
Thanks again for the site. It's nice to read what you feel written by an intelligent professional when you've felt it on your own for a long time. Please forward my regards to Lawrence Stevens.
[name withheld], MBBS
Note: MBBS means "bachelor of medicine - bachelor of surgery." It is the foreign equivalent of the M.D. degree.
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 99 10:33AM
PLEASE KEEP THIS ANONYMOUS
I'm so frustrated. I'm a 26 year old third year law student. I want to take the bar exam. But I'm afraid to apply because of the general waiver I have to sign. They will have access to all my medical records, including my experiences with several incompetent psychiatrists. I have never had a good experience with a psychiatrist, and everytime I experienced a "major depressive episode" I was told that there is no shame in asking for help. No shame except maybe they won't let me take the bar exam. Psychiatrists have routinely violated confidentiality (speaking to my parents about my condition when I was 23 years old without my permission) and told me that I need to worry more about "getting better" than my "rights." I am stable now and I see a plain old everyday M.D.(general practitioner) who gives me the Zoloft I need and doesn't make me go to some silly talk therapy. I have worked so hard for 3 years to get this law degree and because I have been hospitalized for "Depression" several times my hard work may not even pay off. I am also just embarrassed about my illness and angry because of all the people who told me that it was okay to get help and that there isn't any shame. They lied to me.
Comment by Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master Douglas A. Smith:
This law student's letter illustrates the fact that promises of "confidentiality" when seeing so-called mental health professionals are always misleading, whether or not they are deliberately dishonest, because any time you apply for a professional or occupational license or a job with a lot of responsibility you are likely to be required to sign a general waiver in which you "voluntarily" surrender your right to confidentiality. The penalty for not "voluntarily" surrendering your right to confidentiality is not getting the professional license or job you are applying for. In many cases, your application won't even be accepted for consideration unless and until you sign the waver. Typically, you will also be required to submit a list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all physicians and other health care professionals (such as psychologists and substance abuse specialists) you have received care from during the last three, five, or ten years, sometimes with criminal penalties for not providing a complete list. Your confidentiality would be have been better protected if you had instead confided in a friend rather than a so-called "professional" person like a psychiatrist or psychologist, because no professional licensure applications and no job applications will require you to submit a complete list of all the friends you have had during the last five or ten (or however many) years.
Confiding in a friend won't stigmatize you and thereby create risk of you being excluded from important opportunities in life such as being admitted to the bar exam and being licensed as a lawyer or being admitted to medical school or even less remunerative opportunities in life such as getting a taxi driver license. According to ACLU lawyer Bruce Ennis in his book Prisoners of Psychiatry, people have been denied taxi driver licenses because they received so-called psychiatric treatment, even though they were not "hospitalized." Becoming the "patient" of a psychiatrist or psychologist may cost you dearly in terms of such lost opportunities in life or at the least cause you to be confronted with dilemmas such as this law student is facing.
This law student's letter also illustrates the routine failure of psychiatrists and psychologists to live up to their promises of confidentiality, in this case providing information to the law student's parents in violation of promised confidentiality. This law student experienced it in the mid-1990s. I experienced it many years before. It seems some things never change. You cannot trust mental health professionals to abide by their promises of confidentiality.
A sad aspect of this law student's letter is her calling her sorrow "my illness" and her belief that Zoloft somehow alleviates her despondency (or "depression"). These statements imply she thinks her sad feelings are somehow biologically caused. As psychology professor Elliot S. Valenstein so carefully documented in his book Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health, published in 1998, there are no demonstratably valid biological theories of "depression" or other so-called mental illnesses, and there is no (valid) physiological or biological explanation for why any of the so-called antidepressant drugs should work. Consider this: Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). According to Dr. Valenstein (page 108 of his book), there is a new supposedly antidepressant drug recently approved in England called Edromax that is exactly the opposite, that is, it does not act on serotonin at all! Drug manufacturers experiment with drugs that cause one or another change in brain chemistry in hopes of finding one that will work, but they have failed, and yet they promote and sell the drugs anyway because of the large profits to be made from convincing people like this law student and her doctors that the drugs somehow rearrange brain chemistry for the better. A placebo effect, or improved mood that takes place over time that would have happened whether or not they took the drug, convinces some drug users they are receiving a benefit. It's too bad the FDA isn't doing its job and instead lets these drugs on the market with an official stamp of government approval, a stamp of approval that helps fool people into thinking the drugs actually have value (other than for making money for manufacturers of psychiatric drugs and for the physicians who prescribe them).
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Psychiatrists-in-Training Debate Web-Master of this Web Site
Date: Sat, 09 Jan 1999
Subject: Do you all believe that the earth is flat as well?
Hello! My name is being withheld for privacy reasons but I am a fourth year psychiatry resident in the Southeastern U.S., completing a fellowship in Behavioral Neurology and soon to be completing another fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry. I'd like to make a few comments regarding your site and the practice of psychiatry as I have known it since I began training 3.5 years ago.
1) I have been an active participant in Fast MRI research and have seen first hand how brain perfusion is markedly reduced in the left frontal hemisphere of severely depressed patients. I have also seen how the blood flow to these areas returns to normal about 4 to 6 weeks after initiating antidepressant therapy (and over the long term with psychotherapy). I have also participated in further imaging research which CLEARLY shows reduced brain volumes in Schizophrenic patients as compared to normals.
2) I have personally treated HUNDREDS of patients including the following examples: Manics(ie. in the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder)who are threatening to kill the President and themselves; Borderlines with so many scars on their forearms that they have great difficulty wearing a short sleeved shirt in public; Schizophrenics eating their own feces or so catatonic that they cannot eat at all; Children with ADHD so severe that they literally do not know whether to laugh or cry; and the Demented, with diseases such as Alzheimers or Picks Disease who would not know how to evacuate their own home if it caught on fire. All these cases are complex and initially seem hopeless, however I have been able to successfully treat all these and many more. No, I cannot yet cure them (as NO physician can cure Diabetes or Hypertension) but I can treat their symptoms effectively (with psychotropic medications) and compassionately (with psychotherapy). And these, (TREATMENT & COMPASSION) are probably why I have received nothing but thanks and good wishes form these patients and their families after they have been stabilized.
3) 1 and 2 are all the evidence I need to prove that psychiatry works. It is one of the noblest and IS THE OLDEST SPECIALTY in medicine. Psychiatry has had its problems in the past but that was due to the lack of scientific knowledge regarding the brain that prevailed in the mid 20th century and before. Neurosurgery, Cardiology & Endocrinology were no better off prior to 40 years ago as well. The Brain is complex; it has the consistency of toothpaste and yet each square centimeter of this "paste" holds enough neural and neuroendocrine circuitry to rival the largest computers. However, with new tools such as fast MRI, PET/SPECT Imaging, and detailed genetic analysis, we are finally beginning to be able understand how thoughts, emotions, and memories are produced, and the factors (genetic and environmental) that account for pathology within these systems. Don't belive me? Stick around for the next 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 years.
4) I am in a psychiatry residency (I also have a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Biology). That means that I have completed medical school (with my grades and Board Scores being in the top 5% of all physicians in the U.S.) and have an M.D. degree. There are a total of about 50 psychiatry residents (men and women)in my program and every one of them loves their choice of medical specialty. I have not heard of one case of a psych resident switching from psychiatry to another medical specialty at my institution since I joined the program. In fact we have had about 10 residents from other specialties transfer to ours in the same time period (1 radiology, 2 anesthesiology, 5 family practice, 1 pathology, 1 surgery). And this year, the number of medical students applying for a psychiatry residency position at our institution has gone through the roof!(140 applicants for 10 Intern positions) Our morale is high and one of the main reasons for this (besides the fascinating and gratifying aspects of our work)is that we are in such high demand. My senior classmates and I are inundated weekly by job offers from all over the U.S., all with STARTING salaries ranging from $120,000.00 to $150,000.00 a year! That is $10,000.00 to $40,000.00 more a year than Family Practice, Internal Medicine or Pediatrics. As a practicing Forensic Psychiatrist, I will soon be making $300,000.00 to $400,000.00 a year! That is well in the Surgery range but without all of the hassles they have to endure and a much better lifestyle (ever talked to a Surgeon? Here's a joke for you: Why don't Surgeons get hemorrhoids? Because they're perfect a__ holes!). [explicative partly deleted] My point is not to piss anyone off or incite jealousy, but a dying, non lucrative specialty this is not - Sorry.
5) OK, I take it that y'all don't like Psychiatrists and Psychiatry. That's fine by me because visiting your site and others like it provides me a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the human mind, just as I find fascinating those people who have told me honestly and sincerely that they have had microchips inserted into their skulls. If you all run into any mental health problems in the future, and God, Dianetics, curses, herbs, cocaine, and alcohol don't provide comfort, just remember this: You may have given up on Psychiatry, but Psychiatry has not given up on YOU!
Dear Dr. Anonymous:
I'm never surprised when a current or former psychiatric "patient" writes to us anonymously, but it does surprise me to get a letter from a physician doing a psychiatric residency who insists on anonymity. We who you stigmatize with your life-ruining psychiatric "diagnoses" have legitimate reason to insist on anonymity, mostly because of our all-too-justified fear of job discrimination because of our "history mental illness": Psychiatric stigma makes it difficult for many of us to earn a living. What, I wonder, could you, a psychiatrist-in-training, be hiding?
Feedback from mental health professionals is always welcome, however, even if it's critical, since it lets us know our message is being read by some of the people most directly responsible for the health care quackery and the human rights abuses we seek to end. A few rare persons in psychiatry will read books by Thomas Szasz or Peter Breggin or articles like those appearing on our web site and will change the way they do business or practice their profession, such as avoiding use of psychiatry's harmful "treatments" and refusing to go along with requests to use psychiatric "diagnosis" to justify subverting America's and other democracies' traditional guarantees of individual liberty. Most however will not. Most will instead put their own personal and professional interests first even though that necessitates harming their so-called patients. As now retired psychiatry professor Thomas Szasz once said, it usually requires more than facts and logic to overcome what he called religious and professional myths, because the people who believe in them have an emotional need to believe in them. You, "Dr. Anonymous," are probably a typical example: If I anticipated earning $300,000 to $400,000 a year as a forensic psychiatrist as you say you do, I too might find it difficult or impossible to admit that virtually everything my profession and my earning ability are based on is nonsense.
Most of the assertions you make in your letter were adequately refuted in articles appearing on this web-site since it first went on-line on October 2, 1997, before you wrote your letter. I have to wonder if you didn't take the time to read all of them before writing:
You seem to be saying you believe "brain perfusion [being] markedly reduced in the left frontal hemisphere of severely depressed patients" proves that depression is biologically caused. In my response to attorney "R.J." in a previous letter (which appears below in the "Criticisms" section) I said: "As Lawrence Stevens pointed out in his article, 'The Myth of Biological Depression,' (appearing on this web site): 'At least one brain-scan study (using positron emission tomography or PET scans) found that simply asking normal people to imagine or recall a situation that would make them feel very sad resulted in significant changes in blood flow in the brain (Jose V. Pardo, M.D., Ph.D., et al., 'Neural Correlates of Self-Induced Dysphoria', American Journal of Psychiatry, May 1993, p. 713).' Since it has been established that emotions cause biological changes in the brain, it makes no sense to point to these changes can say they caused the emotions." The principle is the same whether the perfusion of the brain is measured with Positron Emission Tomography scans or other methods such as Fast MRI. As time goes on and the person's mood improves (probably due to the person's expectations changing over time in recognition of present circumstances), the improved mood results in the brain perfusion changes you see with various brain imaging methods. But it is probably the changed mood that causes the biological changes you see rather than the reverse. I haven't seen convincing evidence that antidepressant drugs make this happen faster than so-called psychotherapy or no therapy. In fact, most evidence suggests the opposite. Your letter says perfusion of the brain with blood changes back to normal "about 4 to 6 weeks" after starting allegedly antidepressant drugs and "over the long term with psychotherapy." Your letter doesn't say how long is "long term" nor anything about a control group of people who receive no "therapy."
You suggest the reduced brain volumes in so-called schizophrenics compared to normal persons proves so-called schizophrenia is biologically caused. A more convincing explanation is what attorney Lawrence Stevens said in his pamphlet "Schizophrenia: A Nonexistent Disease" (which has appeared on this web site since it first went on-line): "Other efforts to prove a biological basis for so-called schizophrenia have involved brain-scans of pairs of identical twins when only one is a supposed schizophrenic. They do indeed show the so-called schizophrenic has brain damage his identical twin lacks. The flaw in these studies is the so- called schizophrenic has inevitably been given brain-damaging drugs called neuroleptics as a so-called treatment for his so-called schizophrenia. It is these brain-damaging drugs, not so-called schizophrenia, that have caused the brain damage. Anyone "treated" with these drugs will have such brain damage. Damaging the brains of people eccentric, obnoxious, imaginative, or mentally disabled enough to be called schizophrenic with drugs (erroneously) believed to have antischizophrenic properties is one of the saddest and most indefensible consequences of today's widespread belief in the myth of schizophrenia." The decreased brain volumes you allude to are one measure of this brain damage.
Your suggestion that the reduced brain volumes of so-called schizophrenic people observed with brain imaging proves a biological cause or a biological basis for "schizophrenia" is also contradicted by Michael J. Murphy, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Ronald L. Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, in their textbook Blueprints in Psychiatry (Blackwell Science, Inc., Malden, Massachusetts, 1998, page 1) wherein they state: "The etiology of schizophrenia is unknown. ... recent studies have focused on structural and functional abnormalities through brain imaging of schizophrenics and control populations. [But] No one finding or theory to date is adequate in explaining the etiology and pathogenesis of this complex disease" (underline added).
I'm glad you admit you can't cure any of the so-called disorders you treat. The reason you can "treat" them, that is, can reduce unwanted behavior with your "treatment," is the psychiatric drugs you use disable the brain sufficiently to make the unwanted behavior impossible. You are not only "treating" (reducing) the unwanted behavior. You are to the same extent "treating" (reducing) the desirable aspects of your patient's mentality (intelligence & personality). Here's an idea for you, "Dr. Anonymous": Give a group of your fellow physicians in training to be psychiatrists IQ tests. Then require these same physicians to take the same neuroleptic drugs in the same doses you administer to your so-called patients. Then again give IQ tests to these physicians while they are under the influence of neuroleptic drugs. You'll find the drugs "treat" (reduce) intelligence as effectively as they "treat" (reduce) so-called schizophrenia. As someone (probably Lawrence Stevens) once argued, this is disabling people, not therapy.
The reason you get "thanks" from your patients was described perceptively in "Mental Patients' Liberation: Why? How?" (which has appeared on this web-site since it first went on-line): "... the hospital doors are still locked and you are still inside. In our consciousness-raising sessions, we have discussed how we got in, and how we got out, and we have discovered that all of us got out by learning to tell the doctors what they wanted to hear. We call it "learning to shuffle." We discovered, in sharing our experiences, that when we loudly proclaimed (in the hospital) that we were not sick and that the doctors should leave us alone, we were rewarded with forced hypodermic injections of Thorazine and trips to the seclusion room, but when we learned to say humbly "I was sick, but with my doctor's help I'm getting well," our imprisonment neared its end. You will have the satisfaction of knowing which is truth and which is falsehood, and of knowing that although they have imprisoned your body, they do not have your mind."
Another reason you will sometimes get thanks from patients is what has been called the "Stockholm Syndrome." You'll find the term in any dictionary of psychology. The term comes from a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden in which the bank robbers took people as hostages. After a long enough time in captivity, the hostages took the side of their captors. A teacher in a class I took told us one of the female hostages even became engaged to marry one of the bank robbers. As one of the hostages in the Iran hostage crisis said after returning to the U.S. in 1981: If someone brings you food every day, you learn to like him. Psychiatrists have power over their prisoners (inpatients) similar to that of the Stockholm bank robbers over their hostages and usually for longer periods of time.
Why do you get thanks from the so-called patient's relatives? The answer is: People are labeled mentally ill because they behave in ways that displease other people (or sometimes themselves), and people who must deal with an eccentric, obnoxious, or difficult member of their family are often pleased with the brain-disabling effects of the drugs you administer. The drugs wipe out most of the "patient's" ability to act in ways that displease his or her family. Of course, as I've already said, you at the same time reduce or eliminate good aspects of your "patient's" mentality and personality. Most psychiatric drugs also make your "patient" feel miserable. But parents and other family members usually care more about suppressing their child's or other relative's unwanted behavior. They usually are so focused on suppressing their child's or other relative's unwanted behavior that they don't care very much about the permanent brain-damage caused by the drugs even when this problem is called to their attention. I say: With parents or other family members like this, who needs enemies?! The widespread belief that force or harmful "treatment" used against a person must be in his or her best interest or must be truly needed if his or her family approved of it is an absolute myth. I once saw a case in which two adult children were justifiably enraged when their father, a belligerent old man in a nursing home, was given Haldol to make him easier to manage; but in my observations, this is not common. He was very lucky and very rare to have children who put his welfare first. People usually care more about forcing others in their family to behave than protecting them from harm - such as from psychiatry's misery-inducing and permanently brain-damaging drugs.
You are welcome to whatever insights into the human mind you get from our web-site. Your letter also gives us insight into yours, particularly your financial motivation. Thank you for your candor. I suspect as you gain experience in your profession you'll decide it's in your best interest to downplay your financial motivation for entering psychiatry. I'm convinced money is the most important motivation for physicians in every specialty, as well as people in almost every other business, and I wish everyone realized this.
Some readers of this web site might wonder what you mean when you say you are in training to become a "forensic psychiatrist" - the field in which you expect to soon be earning $300,000.00 to $400,000.00 a year. For the benefit of readers who may not know: A forensic psychiatrist is a psychiatrist who specializes in giving testimony as an expert witness in court. In 1997 a book about forensic psychiatry and forensic psychology was published that from what I've read so-far appears to say exactly what needs to be said: It is titled Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice. The author is Margaret A. Hagen, Ph.D. The biographical note says Dr. Hagen has a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Minnesota and teaches at Boston University. In this book she alleges there is no scientific basis for the belief psychiatrists and psychologists have expertise greater than that possessed by untrained persons and that the entire field is a fraud. For example (quoting from the book's dust cover), she says "Child psychology professionals are worse than chance at determining when kids are lying" and "In almost two out of three cases psychological professionals incorrectly predict which violent criminals will repeat their offenses" (italics in original). I read elsewhere that the frequency and extent to which supposed experts in psychology and psychiatry disagree with each other when they appear as expert witnesses has spawned a joke among lawyers: "For every Ph.D. there is an equal and opposite Ph.D." You may fool most people, "Dr. Anonymous," but you can't fool us: We know the people in your profession are not experts in human psychology or human behavior.
Because of the despotic power psychiatry wielded over me when I was a prisoner ("patient") in a psychiatric "hospital" and still wields over so many people in America and the rest of the world, your closing remark makes me shudder as I might if you'd said: You may have given up on Naziism, but we Nazis haven't given up on you! Even now, many years later, I still sometimes feel uneasy when I'm in a state where the state legislature has not created a right to trial by jury in civil psychiatric commitment. If there had been no right to trial by jury in the state where I was a prisoner of psychiatry, I likely would have lived a very different life.
I do appreciate your taking the time to engage us in this dialogue, however. I hope familiarity with the facts and opinion stated by writers whose articles and letters appear on this web-site will persuade you to avoid misusing the power our lawmakers have so unwisely given you.
Douglas A. Smith
February 17, 1999
Dear "Doctor Anonymous":
Your letter and my reply were included in "The Antipsychiatry Forum" of The Antipsychiatry Coalition web site (www.antipsychiatry.org) about a week and a half ago. You are welcome to write again and continue the debate if you wish. Your letter is very interesting, and I'd like to thank you for your contribution to our web site.
Meanwhile, I'd like to suggest a book I think will undermine almost everything you think you know about psychiatry: Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs & Mental Health, by Elliott Valenstein, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Michigan. I think it's a fantastic book and is without doubt one that should be required reading for every psychiatric resident.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:11:10 PST
Subject: Re: Thank you for your reply !
I will look up the book you mention by Dr. Valenstein Ph.D. However, as an M.D. and biological scientist, I have been required to read and integrate hundreds of textbooks and thousands of academic journals about the neurological sciences so that at a minimum, I can safely treat my patients. I have not yet read Dr. Valenstein's book but based on your comment that he can undermine all that I know, I would like to make several comments.
Several (<10,<20?) books, scattered papers (from lawyers no less?), and a few virulent testimonials (please look up "borderline personality disorder") against Psychiatry cannot begin to refute the overwhelming scientific evidence (based on hundreds of years of empirical and experimental observation) of the validity of the neurological sciences especially Psychiatry.
A Ph.D. degree is in no way the equivalent of medical education or the rigorous training of a residency (and this is why Psychologists, much to their chagrin, are not considered medical professionals and therefor cannot prescribe medications or perform medical procedures) and so, before Dr. Valenstein can be considered a true authority on the subject of the neurosciences and mental health in general, he should go to medical school (or at least add a Ph.D. in neuroanatomy/neurophysiology to his armamentarium). When he has completed his tuition (and spent every fourth night for four years awake in the emergency room seeing the acutely mentally ill), his opinions may carry more weight (and ONLY if he has the rigorous scientific evidence to back up his opinions... as my profession does).
Thanks for getting back to me Douglas. I appreciate good intellectual discourse. Again my apologies for my anonymity but in todays crazy (no pun intended) world it is only prudent. Perhaps you can add this letter to your comments section as a follow up to your reply. And if you could, would you please forward my comments to the lawyer (Lawrence Stevens?) you have on your site so that he might respond to them. Anyway I have got to go now. I have a pile of patients waiting to see me.
I. Anon M.D.
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 18:26:20 PST
Subject: Re: Your reply to my letter on your site
Whoa! Douglas! Just read your reply to my letter on your site! My last email (just this AM) had not yet taken that into account. Please give me some time to rebut your assertions.
In the mean time it would help me to better understand your point of view regarding Psychiatry, if you could describe the circumstances of your involuntary commitment (I am assuming that this occurred based on your reply), the diagnoses that you were given (which I understand you strongly disagree with), and the medications and/or other treatments you received (so that I can begin to understand the side effects you experienced). I am not asking for specific names and places but just a general thumbnail sketch of what happened to you. Also, your educational background would be of help too.
And finally, please encourage Mr. Lawrence to publish more material regarding his opinions (a web site would be great!). They are fascinating.
Take it easy!
I.A.Mannonymous M.D., M.Sc.
February 24, 1999
I discussed my own commitment and diagnosis and the reasons for it on the Antipsychiatry News Clips page, www.antipsychiatry.org/newsclip.htm in the article about a USA Today editorial advocating oppression so-called schizophrenics like myself. Since my experience as a prisoner of psychiatry, I've finished college and done some graduate work. However, that was many years ago.
I don't think you will be able to disparage Dr. Valenstein's facts or reasoning in his book Blaming the Brain. Your letter suggests you think anything said by non-physicians is invalid, and if that's true, it's short-sighted thinking.
Let's continue the debate.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 22:14:58 PST
I am still working on a reply to you for your site as I have been very busy of late so it may take a little while. I have been a little facetious with my rebuttals to your group but it is because it was very surprising to me (if not shocking) to find out that some people view my branch of medicine in this way. For me it is like visiting a Scientific Creationist web site were they belive that the Earth is only 10,000 years old and the dinosaurs lived with man before the Flood etc.
Dr. Valenstein CAN convince me of anything and he may even be infinitely more intelligent and knowledgable than me. But to convince me, he is going to have to show me a ton of significant scientific data (imaging, pharmacological, and clinical) that supports his (and your) arguments. For instance, I believed in the "Face on Mars" once upon a time. Science had discovered it when the Viking spacecraft "imaged" it as Mars was being mapped, looking for a place for the Viking lander to put down. A guy name Hoagland made a lot of money saying that it was a face. I wanted it to be a face because I am interested in extraterrestrial life. I also bought his book. NASA said that it was probably just a plateau (common things being common) but would not rule out it being a face. Hoagland and his followers got really upset that NASA would not agree that it was a face. They claimed there was a conspiracy and cover up. I thought there had to be one too because that thing looked like a darned face! But in the back of my "common sense" mind I figured that it probably was just a plateau seen through low resolution "eyes". I think that it was the Mars Explorer just last year which finally took high resolution pictures of the face and - it wasn't a face at all. It was just a plateau.
Dr. Valenstein and Mr. Lawrence are going to have do the equivalent of going to Mars with high resolution cameras and film themselves sticking a flag into a giant nostril to change my (and the rest of the world's) thinking about Psychiatry. When they do, I (and the rest of medicine) will gladly join your coalition because I believe in science. And in science, a theory moves to the top when it has reproducability and predictive power behind it. But so far in this debate, only I and Psychiatry have those on our side.
By the way, I do not think that you have Schizophrenia. If you do have a mental illness, that is not it. Schizophrenia is a true cognitive disorder, just like mental retardation or Alzheimers disease. Your writing abilities show no indication of a thought disorder, and the fact that you finished college weighs heavily against that diagnosis. I don't know how old you are but I get the impression that your commitment was many years ago. Unfortunately, back then many Bipolar patients who were psychotic at the time, were diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Also I can appreciate the humiliation and anger one must feel when they are committed, especially when one is given the wrong diagnosis. But remember, surgeons sometimes cut off the wrong foot too, and the way Psychiatry is practiced today is light years away from how it was practiced even 10-20 years ago.
One last thing. A thought experiment regarding fast MRI and depressive thoughts (as you mentioned). Pretend that I am a police officer. I see a guy pulled over in a car and see and hear that the engine of the car is revving. I assume the driver (the cognitive/executive center of the car) is revving the engine. I walk up to the car and see that the drivers foot is not on the gas pedal at all. But the car is still revving. We both know Douglas that the driver, by thinking and acting on it, can rev the engine. But if he is not actively doing so then there must be a malfunction with the engine. Same with the brain Douglas. Thinking "down" can reduce (only slightly) the metabolism of certain parts of the left hemisphere of the brain. That probably is the physiologic mechanism behind the feeling of being depressed. But you guys need to come up with a good scientific explanation of why there can't be instances of the brain having a malfunction (like all the other organs in the human body that can and do) that inadvertently causes a lowered metabolism in the left cerebral hemisphere resulting in depression (and I've seen hundreds of left sided strokes causing depressive symptoms that way - before stroke, no depression, even if they had severe medical problems before the stroke - after stroke: depression). Please Explain Carefully!
Bye for now!
May 1, 1999
Dear Dr. Anonymous:
On what do you base your assertion that psychiatry has "reproducability and predictive power behind it"?! A central assertion made and documented by psychologist Margaret A. Hagen, Ph.D., in her book Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice (1997) is that psychiatry and psychology do not have reproducability and predictive power to support the assertion that they are legitimate science. She documents the fact that the "predictive power" of psychiatrists and psychologists is worse than chance! She says: "Our legal system has been told that clinical psychology is a scientific discipline, that its theories and methodology are those of a mature science, and our legal system has believed it. Given the deplorable state of the 'science' of clinical psychology, that is truly unbelievable" (page 18). She also says: "Experimental psychologists know that the education commonly possessed by licensed mental health care providers, whatever their background and training, is woefully inadequate to the job demands. They know too that with the present state of psychological knowledge, there are severe limitations on what any education could provide the most diligent student. No education on earth today can be held to give an adequate account of how the mind works, how personality and character are formed, or what can be changed and how" (pages 12-13). She accordingly laments "the willingness of judges and juries to believe psychobabble with scientific foundations equal to horoscope charts" (page 4).
Your unjustified confidence in the validity of psychiatry as science, and your amazement that there are web sites such this (and books and articles by psychiatrists and psychologists) questioning the assumptions that underlie modern psychiatry, bring to my mind the words of psychiatrist David Kaiser, M.D., in his essay, "Commentary: Against Biologic Psychiatry" (appearing on this web site): "Even a cursory glance at any major psychiatric journal is enough to convince me that the field [psychiatry] has gone far down the road into a kind of delusion, whose main tenets consist of a particularly pernicious biologic determinism and a pseudo-scientific understanding of human nature and mental illness. ... modern psychiatry has yet to convincingly prove the genetic/biologic cause of any single mental illness. However, this does not stop psychiatry from making essentially unproven claims that depression, bipolar illness, anxiety disorders, alcoholism and a host of other disorders are in fact primarily biologic and probably genetic in origin, and that it is only a matter of time until all this is proven. This kind of faith in science and progress is staggering, not to mention naive and perhaps delusional."
Dr. Anonymous, your belief in psychiatry-as-science is wrong, but you believe it so intensely that at times you seem arrogant! I hope your unjustified confidence in your expertise does not cause you to be overbearing or dictatorial with your (so-called) patients. Considering the lack of scientific justification for the existence of psychiatry as a medical specialty, psychiatrists should be humble when they talk about psychiatry rather than confident as you seem to be.
I disagree with your assertion that psychiatry today is light years away from the way it was practiced 10 or 20 years ago. All or almost all psychiatric drugs in use 10 or 20 years ago are still used. New psychiatric drugs have been developed and marketed in the last 10 to 20 years, but these new drugs, including widely selling Prozac, are no better than those prescribed 20 years ago. ECT is still done the way it was done 20 years ago (bilateral with anesthesia, oxygen, and a short-acting muscle paralyzing drug). Psychotherapy (conversation therapy) has not changed in any meaningful way for decades.
No, it is not up to us critics of psychiatry to "come up with a good scientific explanation of why there can't be instances of the brain having a malfunction (like all the other organs in the human body that can and do) that inadvertently causes a lowered metabolism in the left cerebral hemisphere resulting in depression." It is up to you who say biologically caused depression exists to prove your case. (Similarly, if you were to assert there is life on Mars, it would be up to you to prove this. It would not make sense to assume there is life on Mars until someone proves there is not. And it would not be up to me as a nonbeliever to prove there is no life on Mars.)
It's not really hard to understand why there is lowered activity in the left front hemisphere of the brain in people who are extremely unhappy (or "depressed") or why stroke victims become emotionally depressed.
Regarding the former: People become emotionally depressed only when they have one or more important but insoluble problems. Evidence suggests that in most people, particularly right-handed people, the left cerebral hemisphere is the logical, problem-solving part of the brain. Brain scanning techniques such as PET and MRI show greater activity in this region of the brain when people are busy using their brains to solve problems in a logical way. But when a person is confronted with an important but insoluble problem, there is nothing for this logical, problem-solving part of the brain to do, so it shows little activity. If you could show severely unhappy people a logical way to change the life experiences that have caused and are causing their sadness, you would see a lot of activity in this part of their brains rather than the inactivity you think suggests a biological cause for severe unhappiness or "depression."
Stroke victims, particularly those who experience stroke damage in the left front part of their brains, become depressed because they have lost an important part of themselves only somewhat different from losing an arm or a leg: Rather than (or in addition to) losing physical ability they once had, stroke victims lose intellectual ability they once had. If brain damage from stroke reduces or eliminates a person's ability to carry on a lively conversation or balance his checkbook, sadness, perhaps severe and long lasting, is a predictable outcome. If there is no damage in the right front part of the brain (that in most but not all people is the emotional part of the brain), the brain and hence the person retains the ability to experience emotions such as sorrow. The fact that stroke victims may have had other sorts of health problems before their stroke without becoming emotionally depressed doesn't change anything: Most of us think of our minds as a more essential part of our true selves than physical ability or other aspects of our health, so loss of intellectual ability may be considerably more upsetting than other sorts of health problems. Despondency or "depression" in people who have experienced left front stroke damage is not evidence of biologically caused depression except in the sense that the biologically caused mental disability is an experience in life that makes a person sad.
Neuropsychologists and others who study the human brain have determined that in most (particularly right-handed) people the left frontal hemisphere of the brain is where the computer-like, intellectual functions are located. The right frontal hemisphere is believed to be the emotional part of the brain. Your assertion that "lowered metabolism in the left cerebral hemisphere," that is, in the computer-like, intellectual portion of the brain, can bring about biologically caused depression is inconsistent with what's known about localization of brain function.
Some who read this may wonder what happens when this emotional part of the brain, in most people the right cerebral hemisphere, is damaged by stroke. Does that cause severe unhappiness or "depression"? The answer is no. What it usually causes is loss of ability to experience either happiness or sadness, a state in which a person loses the ability to react emotionally to either his problems or his blessings. This nonemotional state is called "anosagnosia." For anyone interested in learning more about this I recommend three books: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by neurology professor Oliver Sacks, The Right Brain and the Unconscious by neuropsychologist R. Joseph, and The Brain Book by psychologist Peter Russell.
Dr. Anonymous, you still haven't sent me a rebuttal of most of what I said in my first letter. I'm wondering what sort of response you might have.
Perhaps before this debate is over you'll begin to realize modern psychiatry is not scientifically valid. You are still an enthusiastic defender of psychiatry, but because you are willing to engage us in this discussion and are willing to try to defend psychiatry logically (which in my opinion you have not been able to, so-far), I have some hope that one day you'll join us in our efforts to stop the harm being done by your profession. You can do humankind a lot of good by joining us rather than by continuing to defend psychiatry.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Thu, 13 May 1999
Dear Dr. Anonymous:
You last letter and my reply have been posted on the web site. I'm hoping you'll continue the debate.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 10:23:34 PDT
Hello Douglas. I have been very busy but I will get back to you shortly. Did not see more than one protestor in Washington [at the American Psychiatric Association convention in May] unless you count the few hundred Scientologists led by Kirsty Alley (JEESH!). Talk to you soon.
"Dr. Anonymous" never did write again after the above correspondence, but two years later another physician undergoing psychiatric training, Dr. Scott Weigold of the University of New Mexico Mental Health Center, wrote the following letter after reading the exchange of letters (appearing immediately above) between "Dr. Anonymous" and Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster Douglas A. Smith:
Date: Mon, 03 Dec 01 16:18PM EST
From: "Scott Weigold" - [withheld]@[withheld].edu
Subject: Dr Anonymous
As usual, your comments and responses to Dr Anonymous were uniquely misinformed or just plain wrong (often both). Throughout your debate with Dr Anonymous, you make it clear that you do not read anything except from authors who already agree with you, and then you often misuse the information out of context. I can only hope you will not say the same about me, since I am reading your website.
1) There are studies in progress and/or completed that compare the scans of brains of people with schizophrenia (at least they have all the symptoms and other causes have been ruled out - if you want to quibble about whether this MEANS they have the illness, then I don't know how you have faith that the floor will withstand your weight each morning) with those of people without schizophrenia - and before either has ever had any psychiatric medication. Wanna' guess the results?
2) There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of well-run studies showing much greater response of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (let's stick to the DSM-IV definitions so we both know what we are talking about) to both medications and therapy than to the "placebo" given to control groups. There are several ways of giving "placebo" therapy - but learning about those would require learning something about psychiatry and how research in psychiatry is done.
3) Many people with MDD do get depressed without some "insoluble problem" (your words) cropping up in their life. In fact, that is pretty much the requirement of the "recurrent" form of the illness. In fact, those who have one Major Depressive Episode (again, DSM-IV definitions) and stop therapy (of whatever type) have a ~50% chance of another episode in their lifetime (that is MUCH higher than those who have not had one episode) and those who have had 2 episodes have ~75% chance of another, and those who have had 3+ episodes run >90% chance of another episode. This, and tons of other data, speak volumes about the difference between getting "depressed" because of a life problem and the illness of Major Depressive Disorder.
4) Most definitions of "treatment response" in studies using volunteers (i.e. not trapped, coerced, or otherwise required to give the "right" answers) have to do with removal or reduction of suffereing that the patients bring to the doctors. Why in the world would all these thousands of volunteers tell the researchers that their symptoms went away if they did not? These people are given whatever compensation is part of the study whether they report symptom reduction or not (that is a requirement of human studies). They do not know, as the researchers recording their responses do not know, if they are taking medication or placebo. They simply have no reason to lie about this.
5) Clinical (real world, non-research) definitions of "response to treatment" include both symptom reduction AND increase in functional capacity. That is, they must be able to do more of the things that THEY want to do in their lives than before they started treatment. Psychiatric treatment is designed specifically to "improve daily functioning." In fact, psychiatry is the only medical specialty that attempts to address the "global" functioning of a patient in the very structure of the diagnostic criteria and diagnosis reporting. Therefore, a treatment that "reduced unwanted behavior" but left the patient "disabled" would be considered a largely useless treatment. Doctors would not use it and patients would not continue it. Has this goal ever been abandoned in favor of pure symptom reduction, well certainly. But it is the standard and goal of every treatment decision.
6) You often argue about the issue of cause and effect. I have to say, I don't much care whether the emotions caused the biologic changes or the reverse - at least not right now. I hope that with further research we will be able to affect biology in order to prevent emotional changes, but that is not currently within our grasp. However, one of the ways to do that may well end up being to use non-pharmacologic methods (talking) to bolster those parts of the biology that allow some people to weather an emotional storm while others find themselves hopelessly caught in an endless tide of sadness and depression. Right now, I don't care whether the chicken or egg came first, I want to help the condition to go away so that the patient can get back to doing with his/her life what he/she chooses. The fact is (and I determine a fact to be something demonstrated countless times in many different contexts) that MDD does respond to therapy. Whether one chooses psychotherapy (talking with a professional) or psychopharmacology (psychiatric medicines) or both, the information is clear that MDD responds faster and better and more reliably to therapy than to no therapy, than to "placebo" therapy, than to talking to a friend or family member. While there is also evidence that the combination of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology work better than either alone, and that having several sources of "social support" (i.e. friends and loved-ones) also make any therapy work better - the evidence is clear (if you choose to read it and not simply take the word of someone who wouldn't believe no matter what the evidence) that therapy does work for most people, most of the time. Incidentally, there is also plenty of evidence that it works whether it is completely voluntary or not (though maybe it doesn't work quite as well). That is not meant as condoning rampant and unjustified commitment - just a fact.
7) While Dr Anonymous may soon be making lots of money, most of the rest of psychitrists will not - at least not compared to other medical specialties. A psychiatrist friend of mine told me this story just a few years ago:
My 8 year-old son once looked at me and asked, "Grandpa's a psychiatrist, right?" I told him that was true. "And you're a psychiatrist, right?" "Yes," again. "So how come Grandpa's rich and you're not?" "Well," I told him, "the field of psychiatry has changed a lot since your Grandpa began." "Oh," he said and looked rather sullen, "so do I have to be a psychiatrist?"The truth is, income for psychiatrists plummeted during the larte 80's and 90's and is now about equivalent to Family Practice and Internal Medicine doctors in most areas - maybe just a little more. As a result, most of the people who stay in, or enter, psychiatry are there because that is where they want to be. As someone graduating from psychiatry residency in 18 mo's. I intend to work with the severely and chronically mentally ill in crisis. That area of psychiatry will never pay anything close to what Dr Anonymous will make in Forensic Psychiatry. I do not mean this as whining. I feel very lucky to be doing what I love in a way that I believe helps some of the most vulnerable in our society, those most reviled, those most forgotten, those largely unable to fend for themselves, and for whom there IS help if they can / will avail themselves of it. And I get to feed my family and live a fairly comfortable life - I make no apologies for that.
8) Your argument about strokes and depression is simply mis-informed. The fact is, people who have strokes in certain parts of the brain get MDD more often than those who have had strokes that are just as "disabling" in other areas of the brain. This has been studied in a number of ways and the overwhelming conclusion is that strokes to certain areas "cause" MDD in a way that other strokes and other very disabling disorders (including losing the same functional capacities through other means) do not.
This, alone, of course does not prove that brain problems "cause" MDD in all cases. It is one of thousands of pieces of information that lead to that conclusion. If you decide to argue the miniscule details and possibilities of every study ever done on the issue, you will spend a lifetime in a pointless pursuit. If you are willing to look at the mass of evidence, you will have no choice but to accept that "there is biology involved in both the development of and treatment of" MDD, the other mood disorders, the psychotic disorders and the anxiety disorders.
If, however, you are one of those who are dead set against such an idea and no amount or type of evidence would sway you, then there is simply no point in having a discussion about the evidence. In that case, you are one who feels, "my mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts." Now, don't get me wrong. That does not make you stupid or foolish or anything of the sort. Many of the most important decisions in life are made primarily on "feeling" and faith and have nothing to do with evidence. Religious affiliation, marriage and romantic partners, having children, voting for government officials, sports team affiliations, etc are all decisions that most people make on faith or feeling with little/no evidence. If that is how you choose to approach the subject of psychiatry, then that is fine by me. However, if that is what you want to do - then PLEASE don't suggest to me or others that you are acting on the "evidence."
You remind me of some very intelligent friends who told me they do not believe in evolution because there is no evidence for it. Unfortunately, they had never heard anything about the evidence except from those whose job it was to pursuade them that evolution does not exist. Every single one of them who said they would believe in evolution would believe in it if there was evidence has decided that it does exist and operates every day as a biologic process, simply by listening to the "evidence" from someone who knows what the evidence is both for and against. Those people realized they had been duped by fanatics who misused information and told lies about the the proponents of evolution - until they looked at the information for themselves. Now, I have other friends who state that they would never believe in evolution, no matter what the evidence, because they know in their hearts that it could not exist and that, as a result, they would never believe "earthly" evidence. That is a completely understandable point of view and we do not argue about it. They have "faith" that evolution does not exist and any argument about the evidence would be pointless for both of us. So please tell me, what kind of evidence of the biology of psychiatry would convince you?
9) Is psychiatry always right? Of course not. Are psychiatrists always right? Of course not. Are there unscrupulous psychiatrists? Of course. Have atrocities been perpetrated by psychiatrists? Of course. Are all psychiatrists power-hungry, money-grubbing, denegrating, "whores of the court?" Of course not. Anyone who thinks that "all" people in any category are "bad" is, by definition, a fanatic. Anyone who thinks that "all" people with a particular view are "evil" and need to be removed from the world is a dangerous fanatic.
Scott Weigold, MD
Webmaster Douglas A. Smith responds:
Dear Dr. Weigold:
I am delighted to know a physician such as yourself who will soon complete psychiatric training has been reading the articles on our web site. I hope you are one of many and that the articles on this web site will help to bring us more allies among psychiatrists. Your letter permits the continuation of a debate Dr. Anonymous started but which he apparently decided against continuing. I can't avoid wondering if his reason was partly embarrassment about his knowledge of neuroscience being wrong and - surprisingly - seemingly even less extensive than mine, even though I can claim to be no more than a well-read lay person. I have too often been amazed at the inadequacy of the knowledge of professional people. This includes lawyers, dentists, an optometrist, and physicians in fields other than psychiatry as well as psychiatrists and psychologists. In psychiatry and other fields, much of what "professionals" think they know is simply false. Too often, I have needed only a few hours in a law library or a medical library to know more about important aspects of law, dentistry, bona-fide (physical) health, or psychiatry than most of the "professionals" in these fields. Regarding Dr. Anonymous, I'm happy to be able to report that the people who have read his letters and my replies who wrote to express their opinion found my arguments more persuasive. I get a lot of e-mail, so maybe I overlooked or forgot some, but I can't remember receiving even one letter other than yours, Dr. Weigold, critical of my replies to Dr. Anonymous.
In fact I have read many books and articles defending psychiatry with which I disagree, so many I can't remember the authors or titles of most of them. Among those I remember and consider most significant are the following: I read, in its entirety, The Broken Brain: The Biological Revolution in Psychiatry by psychiatry professor Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D. In this book Dr. Andreasen reviews most of the arguments in favor of biological psychiatry. I read, in their entirety, Electroconvulsive Therapy: The Myths and the Realities by psychology professor Norman Endler, Ph.D., and psychiatrist Emmanuel Persad, which is a defense of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and Dr. Endler's Holiday of Darkness, the autobiographical story of his (he thinks) biologically caused major depressive disorder. I read much if not all of The Good News About Depression by Mark Gold, M.D., in which he tries to present evidence for biological causation of what you call major depressive disorder (MDD), which is what I call simply severe, prolonged unhappiness. I'm not remembering their names now, but I read a book by two physicians titled The Reality of Mental Illness, which is a retort to psychiatry professor Thomas S. Szasz's book The Myth of Mental Illness (which I also read in its entirety). I read a book by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and others titled Schizophrenia and Manic Depressive Disorder - The Biological Roots of Mental Illness as Revealed by the Landmark Study of Identical Twins (Basic Books, New York, 1994) in which they attempted (in my opinion unsuccessfully) to prove the reality of schizophrenia and manic- depression as biological entities. I bought a copy of but can't seem to get around to reading Listening to Prozac by psychiatrist Peter Kramer, which promotes the use of antidepressants such as Prozac, but I did attend a lecture Dr. Kramer gave to a mostly lay audience on the same subject. I've also attended many hours of continuing education seminars promoting psychiatry, most of which were sponsored by manufacturers of psychiatric drugs, that were in most cases taught by biologically oriented psychiatry professors I could go on for a few pages reviewing the pro-psychiatry books and articles and other literature I've read and the pro- psychiatry lectures I've attended.
In contrast, my impression has been and remains that psychiatrists and psychologists who support biological psychiatry have read little or nothing contradicting what they are taught in their misleading "professional" training. I am not the only person who has made this observation: Colin Ross, M.D., a psychiatrist, says during his psychiatric training, when the "cognitive errors pervading clinical psychiatry [were] unwittingly demonstrated to me by my residency supervisors" he learned that not only medical students but even "psychiatrists rarely do the critical reading" that would make the nonsense they learn in their psychiatric training apparent for what it is (emphasis added)." (See my book review of Dr. Ross's book, Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry, appearing elsewhere on this web site.) To test the accuracy of my impression, and that of Dr. Ross, please write to me again, Dr. Weigold, and tell me which of the articles on this web site you read prior to writing your letter of December 3, 2001 (above) and which, if any, of the following books you had read:
- Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry, by Thomas S. Szasz, M.D.
- Psychiatric Drugs - Hazards to the Brain, by Peter Breggin, M.D.
- Electroshock - It's Brain- Disabling Effects, by Peter Breggin, M.D.
- Toxic Psychiatry, by Peter Breggin, M.D.
- Prozac Backlash, by Joseph Glenmullen, M.D.
- Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry, by Colin Ross, M.D., & Alvin Pam, Ph.D.
- Blaming the Brain - The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health, by Elliot S. Valenstein, Ph.D.
- A Dose of Sanity by Sydney Walker III, M.D.
- Too Much Anger, Too Many Tears: A Personal Triumph Over Psychiatry, by Janet & Paul Gotkin
- The Death of Psychiatry, by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. (This book was written before Dr. Torrey joined the ranks of those promoting psychiatry. I once asked Drs. Thomas Szasz and Ron Leifer, "What ever happened to Fuller Torrey?" Each said he thought Dr. Torrey found he could get more "funding" by promoting psychiatry. The Death of Psychiatry, published in 1974, is one of the best anti-psychiatry books I have read. In particular, it includes two chapters that together are the most persuasive critique of the concept of mental illness I have read other than Does Mental Illness Exist? by Lawrence Stevens (found on this web site).
If you are wondering, yes, I have read each of these ten (10) books in their entirety - and many more like them.
You say in my replies to Dr. Anonymous I often "misuse" quotations by quoting them "out of context." I am confident you cannot cite even one example of me using a quotation in an inaccurate or misleading way, and I challenge you to do so.
You say you know of studies "that compare the scans of brains of people with schizophrenia...with those of people without schizophrenia - and before either has ever had any psychiatric medication," and you ask rhetorically and triumphantly, "Wanna' guess the results?" You don't answer your own question, but you seem to be saying the studies show brains of mentally ill people are demonstratably different from those of normal people. If so, I think your psychiatry professors or psychiatric residency instructors have misled you about this and that you don't know what you are talking about here. After quite a bit of searching I have not been able to find even one study of so- called schizophrenics or of people with other supposed mental illnesses who had never taken a psychiatric drug (most of which cause brain-damage) or ECT who were found to be biologically different from "normal" people and which was not disproved by later attempts at replication and verification. A group of authors led by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., in a book titled Schizophrenia and Manic Depressive Disorder - The Biological Roots of Mental Illness as Revealed by the Landmark Study of Identical Twins (Basic Books, New York, 1994) attempted to make the argument you are making by comparing the brain-scans of identical twin pairs in which one was normal and the other (supposedly) "schizophrenic." I think they failed to prove that point: The differences they found were so minor you could put a hundred brain scans of supposedly schizophrenic people next to a hundred brain scans of normal people and not be able to determine which group was which. They found the normal twin sometimes had more of the brain abnormalities supposedly indicative of "schizophrenia" than did the twin diagnosed as schizophrenic. They acknowledge that the "schizophrenics" in their study had taken neuroleptic (antipsychotic/antischizophrenic) drugs, so when they did find the supposedly schizophrenic twin had a noticeably more abnormal brain scan than his or her normal twin (such as larger ventricles, or fluid-filled spaces, in the brain), it is likely the abnormality was caused by the drugs rather than by "schizophrenia" as the authors of the study claimed. Psychiatrist Peter Breggin has argued that claims of biological differences in the brains of supposedly mentally ill people allegedly shown by brain scans are a "sleight of hand" in which normal variation is misrepresented as abnormality - or in which brain damage caused by psychiatric drugs is misrepresented as having caused (so-called) mental illness. In a book in which he carefully reviewed claims such as yours, Elliot S. Valenstein, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, said: "Contrary to what is often claimed, no biochemical, anatomical, or functional signs have been found that reliably distinguish the brains of mental patients" (Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health, Free Press, New York, 1998, page 125).
So, Dr. Weigold, I challenge you to cite even one study, not contradicted by later studies, that proves the brains of supposedly mentally ill people who have never had a brain- damaging treatment such as taking a psychiatric drug or receiving electroconvulsive "therapy" (ECT) are different from those of normal people.
Your claims of effectiveness for "treatment" or "therapy" for what you call major depressive disorder or MDD are equally misleading. While there are studies, usually by people hired and paid by manufacturers of psychiatric drugs, in which the authors of the study claim to have found greater effectiveness for the supposedly antidepressant drug than for no treatment or treatment with a pill with no active ingredients (a placebo), there also are other studies that show no treatment or administration of a placebo is as effective or more effective than supposedly antidepressant drugs - or "psychotherapy." Some of these studies are referred to in Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery? and The Case Against Psychotherapy, both of which are found on this web site. As was stated by psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., and social work professor David Cohen, Ph.D., in their book Your Drug May Be Your Problem: Why and How to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs: "But isn't psychiatry science? Isn't faith in psychiatry based on facts? On research? Can't we 'trust in research'? The sad truth is that, in the field of psychiatry, it is impossible to 'trust in research.' Nearly all of the research in this field is paid for by drug companies and conducted by people who will 'deliver' in the best way possible for those companies. ... Sadly, even well-informed people too often put their faith in psychiatry and psychiatric research. It is the same as putting their faith in a drug company" (p. 189-190). (You probably haven't read Your Drug May Be Your Problem, either, have you Dr. Weigold? You could begin by reading my book review of the book, which is available on this web site.)
Yes, there are studies purporting to prove conversation with professional people ("psychotherapy") is more helpful than conversation with people who have no training in so- called psychotherapy, as you claim in your letter. However, in Lawrence Stevens' The Case Against Psychotherapy (found on this web site) you will find references to other studies showing conversation with psychiatrists or psychologists is no better than conversation with untrained persons - and justification for the view that consultation with or advice from untrained persons is usually better than professional "psychotherapy."
I'm not persuaded by your claim some people become emotionally depressed without any cause in terms of life experience. I believe there are no (in your words) "parts of the biology that allow some people to weather an emotional storm while others find themselves hopelessly caught in an endless tide of sadness and depression" unless by that you mean some people are born with genes that make them taller or more attractive or the like and have therefore learned from experience that their disappointments are probably temporary, or that some people simply don't feel any emotions (good or bad) as intensely as other people. Some people weathering the storms of life better than other people typically is the result of early childhood experience giving them, or not giving them, a good sense of self-esteem. I think the psychoanalysts have a valid and important point when they say most mental functioning is unconscious, which explains why people can't always explain to you or other therapists what in their experience of life has caused them to feel as bad as they do. Psychoanalysts also say everything in human mentality is the result of something that preceded it, and they're referring to prior experience or thinking. (See the first few chapters of An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis by Charles Brenner, M.D., which I read many years ago.) While sometimes no cause in terms of life experience is apparent, a biological cause of so- called depression has never been found - not even once in even one person! Of course, that doesn't prevent, for example, the manufacturer of one popular allegedly antidepressant drug (an SSRI) from suggesting a biological cause for "depression" in a television advertisement promoting the drug that I have seen several times, and it doesn't prevent professional people like you from implying or stating outright that such causes exist.
You say people in studies of drugs for depression "do not know, as the researchers recording their responses do not know, if they are taking medication or placebo." Sorry, Dr. Weigold, on this point you're wrong again. As is said in Lawrence Stevens' Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery? (found on this web site) -
Studies indicating psychiatric drugs are helpful are of dubious credibility because of professional bias. All or almost all psychiatric drugs are neurotoxic and for this reason cause symptoms and problems such as dry mouth, blurred vision, lightheadedness, dizziness, lethargy, difficulty thinking, menstrual irregularities, urinary retention, heart palpitations, and other consequences of neurological dysfunction. Psychiatrists deceptively call these "side-effects", even though they are the only real effects of today's psychiatric drugs. Placebos (or sugar pills) don't cause these problems. Since these symptoms (or their absence) are obvious to psychiatrists evaluating psychiatric drugs in supposedly double-blind drug trials, the drug trials aren't really double-blind, making it impossible to evaluate psychiatric drugs impartially. This allows professional bias to skew the results.I recall this same point being made in an article in Psychology Today magazine. Side effects such as those mentioned can also tip off the patients in the studies whether they are getting the real drug or the placebo, and this can effect their self-reporting, especially when what they are self-reporting on is changes in emotional well-being rather than physical symptoms. Because studies of supposedly antidepressant and other psychiatric drugs have never used placebos with side effects, there has never been a truly double- blind study of a supposedly antidepressant drug or any other type of psychiatric drug.
You say "a treatment that 'reduced unwanted behavior' but left the patient 'disabled' would be considered a largely useless treatment. Doctors would not use it and patients would not continue it." Well, Dr. Weigold, on this you're half right: One of the biggest problems in psychiatry is figuring out how to force patients to "take their medication." Large men are employed in the prisons called psychiatric hospitals - and in prisons for criminals - to forcibly inject psychiatric "medications" into the bodies of psychiatry's unwilling victims. Whether it is Haldol or Zyprexa or Clozaril or lithium or Prozac, what I hear repeatedly from psychiatric patients is that psychiatric drugs disable them so severely they are constantly trying to figure out how to avoid taking the drugs without being punished by repeated imprisonment in psychiatric "hospitals" as a consequence of their refusal to take the drugs. One homeless man in Maryland who told me he had been diagnosed as manic-depressive and had been prescribed some kind of psychiatric drug for it at a public clinic said he stopped taking his "medicine" because, in his words, "it takes the lead out of my pencil." The refusal of psychiatry's victims to take their so-called "medications" (all or nearly all of which are toxic, that is, poisonous - and therefore disabling) is the reason for the enactment in recent years of "outpatient commitment" laws (in the USA) and laws providing for "Community Treatment Orders" or CTOs (in Canada). If psychiatric patients were usually willing to continue taking psychiatric drugs (as they would be if the drugs were truly helpful), these laws would not have been enacted in an effort to force psychiatric patients to continue taking them. As for the doctors, they don't seem to know or care about the harm they inflict on their "patients" with psychiatric drugs, which they misleadingly call "medications," and they pass off the disabling, toxic effects of psychiatric drugs as "side-effects" or blame "mental illness" for the harm that was actually caused by psychiatric drugs. In fact, the toxic and disabling effects of psychiatric drugs are their only real effects. Even most psychiatrists admit psychiatric drugs "do not cure mental illness" even as they misleadingly claim the drugs "treat symptoms" and ignore the fact that psychiatric drugs impair good aspects of a person's thinking and behavior as much as the bad aspects that get labeled "mental illness."
I stand by what I said in my reply to Dr. Anonymous about feeling emotionally depressed or not as a result of stroke damage in different parts of the brain. What surprised me was how uninformed or misinformed Dr. Anonymous, a physician and psychiatric resident, was about this. I learned about how strokes in different parts of the brain effect mood at a continuing education program about so-called mood disorders and in books like those by psychiatry professor Oliver W. Sacks. I'd be interested in any evidence you have to support your claims that stroke in particular parts of the brain cause what you call major depressive disorder (MDD) and that "people who have strokes in certain parts of the brain get MDD more often than those who have had strokes that are just as 'disabling' in other areas of the brain ... including losing the same functional capacities through other means." Give me some citations to the studies you are referring to.
You ask "what kind of evidence of the biology of psychiatry would convince you?" Biological abnormality that consistently accompanied what are considered psychiatric symptoms in persons who have never received psychiatric (mis)treatment such as psychiatric drugs or electroshock would probably be convincing, although in the case of the so-called mood disorders there is usually reason to wonder if the biological changes were caused by the emotions rather than the reverse. (People who have taken a psychiatric drug or had electroshock are likely to have brain damage that might look like a cause of mental illness but which in fact is caused by psychiatric drug(s) or electroshock.) A biological treatment that was truly, consistently helpful might be convincing. However, psychiatry is not able to offer convincing evidence of either a biological abnormality causing or even "associated with" a so- called mental illness (other than those caused by psychiatric (mis)treatment) nor any truly helpful psychiatric treatments - not even the conversation called "psychotherapy."
Dr. Weigold, you seem to think the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM (currently DSM-IV) has scientific validity. For example, you seem to believe in the existence of schizophrenia. Have you read Schizophrenia - A Nonexistent Disease or Does Mental Illness Exist? (both of which are found on this web site)? At least a few critiques of the DSM by psychiatrists and psychologists and neurologists have been published, and I hope you'll read at least one of them. I have read and can recommend A Dose of Sanity by Syndey Walker III, M.D., as well as his critique of psychiatric diagnosis in another book titled The Hyperactivity Hoax. Dr. Walker is both a neurologist and a psychiatrist. Another book criticizing the DSM, which I bought but haven't read yet, is They Say You're Crazy by psychologist Paula Caplan.
Most of what I said to Dr. Anonymous applies to you, too, Dr. Weigold: If you keep reading articles like those on this web site and books such as those on our Antipsychiatry Reading List and have the courage to see clearly, you'll eventually see we critics of psychiatry are correct. The granddaddy of the antipsychiatry movement, now 81 year old retired psychiatry professor Thomas S. Szasz, once said clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence. It takes courage to reject the misinformation you are being taught in your psychiatric training, but if you have that courage and have a strong desire to know the truth and truly want to help the people psychiatry claims to help but actually harms, you'll eventually stop parroting the standard-line psychiatric propaganda you wrote in your letter, will join us, and will help us stop the human rights violations and the health-care quackery now perpetrated on people by modern-day psychiatry. Other psychiatrists have joined us, and I hope one day you and many more will, too.
Douglas A. Smith
UPDATE, May 1, 2002: After reading my above letter, Dr. Weigold sent me many citations to and abstracts of articles in psychiatric journals that he thinks prove there are biological differences in the brains of people with "schizophrenia" who have never taken a neuroleptic drug, that prove the validity of DSM-IV diagnosis, and that prove professional psychotherapy is better than no treatment. I am reviewing this material as I have time and will eventually write a reply. Stay tuned!
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Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003
From: "Dante Mummolo" - Dtorts@msn.com
To: "Douglas Smith" - firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: neurologist/psychiatrist referral
Dear Atty. Stevens:
I am an attorney in Boston who is representing the family of a 54 year oldwomen who was given ECT and immediately started to complain of severe headpain following the first shock treatment. Nevertheless, the psychiatristcontinued with the ECTs, despite her continued complaints of severe head pain,and at the end of the 5th of 6 planned shock "treatments" she was diagnosedwith a brain hematoma that left her paralyzed. Then, about a year latter shehad developed a subarrachnoid bleed and died. Before the commencement of ECTsshe was neurologically intact. I was wondering if you could suggest anyneurologists and/or neurosurgeons, who may be available to review the medicalrecords to this tragedy, with respect to determining a causal relationship,between ECTs and the subsequent neurological brain damage and death to thepatient. Whatever suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou. I found your article "Psychiatry's Electroconvulsive Shock Treatment ACrime Against Humanity" most informative.
One Boston Place
Boston, MA 02108
From: Douglas Smith
To: Dante Mummolo
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2003
Subject: neurologist/psychiatrist referral
Dear Mr. Mummolo,
Thank you for your efforts for this ECT victim and for your comment aboutSteven's article on ECT.
I don't know who better to refer you to than psychiatrist Peter Breggin andneurologist John Friedberg. Both have websites. See bottom of our MainPage.
Douglas A. Smith
Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you very much for your assistance in this regard. I shall contact these physicans. I truly appreciate your help.
On another note, before I was called into this case, I had no idea that ECT was being so commonly used in this day and age. I thought that ECT was a nightmare from the past. I must commend you and your organization in bringing to light the horrors of ECT.
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 09:42:47 PM EDT
From: "Maureen A. Gest" email@example.com
Subject: law & psychiatry
I am an attorney with ... an agency which represents psychiatric patients in various inpatient and outpatient settings in New York State. I would like to get some additional information from Lawrence Stevens pertaining to law & psychiatry. Is there an address by which I can reach him? By the way, I think the AntiPsychiatry site is great and I agree with its perspectives. I merely want to contact Mr. Stevens to discuss in more detail some of the legal issues he raises. Thank you.
Maureen A. Gest
Queens Village, NY
From: "Douglas Smith" - firstname.lastname@example.org
To: "Maureen A. Gest" - email@example.com
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003 6:36 PM
Subject: Lawrence Stevens, JD
Dear Ms. Gest:
Thank you for your favorable assessment of the information on and the perspective presented by our website.
Rumor has it that Lawrence Stevens is the pseudonym or pen name of a retired lawyer. So far nobody has been able to find him. However, it wouldn´t surprise me if you hear from him eventually.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003 07:50:36 PM EDT
From: "Maureen A. Gest" - firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Douglas Smith - email@example.com
Subject: Re: Lawrence Stevens, JD
Thanks, Mr. Smith,
I would love to hear from him - he has some of the most creative ideas I've read recently about psychiatry and the treatment of psychiatric patients in the U.S.
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 05:09:31 PM EDT
Subject: thanks for your website
thanks for your site. i'm a psychiatric survivor of psychiatric treatment and its always encouraging to know there are others out there who know that the majority policy or practice is not synonymous with what is right.
Date: 2/2/2003 11:57 a.m.
Re: Recovery, Inc.
I enjoy your web site as it along with the knowledge I've received from Recovery Inc.has allowed me to recover my health. ...
Date: 12:31 PM EDT, 04/20/2002
Subject: My story and I'm volunteering
To Douglas Smith
First I would like to thank you for putting up your site. Some 4 years ago I went go to psycologists and psychiatrists for treatment, specialy because my mother insisted I needed treatment, and I have to say that was the worst experience I had ever had during my life. ... Somewhere in your site it's written that psicology can cause a person to comit suicide. In my case, that is absolutely true. ... I would like to volunteer to translate the article "the case against Psychotherapy" to portuguese and improve your translation of the home page in portuguese. Luckly my portuguese is much better than my english. ... I thank you again for your site, which was one that provided me with the most precious information that I could have. It really helped me...
Date: 06:07 AM EST, 03/31/2002
From: "Kali S." - firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Thank you so much!
Yes! Yes! Yes! You're site is so on target. I recieved my hard slap in the face about the truth of psychiatry at the age of 17, when I blindly listened to all the "fantasy" propaganda about how if you are suicidal then you should "reach out for help". Well, I have certainly paid the price for "reaching out". After spending nights locked in basically "prison cells", being forced to take so many drugs that I ultimately passed out, and not to mention being laughed at by psychiatric nurses, and not allowed contact with the outside world. All my close friends were told that I didn't wish to speak with them. My life has been destroyed. I dream about the events in these wards every night, and the rage I feel is so strong that I am almost sure that I will eventually commit suicide to find some peace from this suffering. I cannot understand why these people would hurt someone who was obviously so wounded anyway. How can these people put a 17 year old child who already wanted to die, through such hell? Are they sick? These people put patients through such torture and don't even care. What the hell does that say about them as people? That is not normal human behaviour. They are quite disturbed. Us patients are REAL people with REAL lives, and they are destroying them. I do not care if other people do not agree with your site, you guys have given me untold relief and comfort to know that I am not alone. I cried when I read your site. For so long I have been wondering what I did wrong to deserve this treatment, living in shame because of THEIR behaviour, but I now know that I am not alone in my suffering from this system. I would challenge any ignorant psychiatrists to explain the pain that I am going through as part of this system's abuse. I would like to see their explainations for the misery I was put through. I have not been diagnosed with anything but depression and borderline, so they can't say that I am dellusional on this subject. All you twisted, unempathetic psychiatrists have shattered my life. I could be a healthy young woman who'd gotten over her immature teenage problems, but now, my life is ruined. I cannot think or focus on anything but the hell your system has put me through. When will you WAKE UP to the fact that you abusive psychaitrists are the ones who are mentally disturbed. I don't know how you can sleep at night. I really cannot express how much damage has been done. Once again, thank you so much to the webmasters of this site, it is people like you, who save lives, I cannot thank you enough. Also, I would appriciate any email from others reading this, to chat about their own experiances so that I can find some badly needed support on my own experiences. I need to know that others have gone through this hell.
P.S. - Can you please send confirmation of this email, because I am new to email and I do so wish to know that you got my thanks, you guys are saviors.
Webmaster's note: Kali's name and e-mail address appear here at her request as well as on our How to Contact the Antipsychiatry Coalition page as our representative in South Australia.
Date: 11:26 PM EDT, 04/19/2002
From: "Jeff Danco" - email@example.com
Subject: the web site
Just a quick word to say how encouraged I am to come across your thoughtful and courageous material. I am a member of Dr. Breggin's organization and have attended their convention but generally feel like a prophet crying out in the wilderness, to borrow a biblical metaphor, in my private practice in psychology. I never recommend psychiatric drugs, almost never facilitate psychiatric hospitalization, and try to debunk the pervasive tendency to label all human suffering as a disease.
Again, I appreciate what you are doing and feel much refreshed from your content. Keep up the fight.
Dr. Jeffrey C. Danco
Webmaster's note: At his request, Dr. Danco now appears in our Directory of mental health professionals who oppose involuntary psychiatric treatment.
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 01 22:47PM EST
From: Patrick Light
While doing a search on psychiatric abuse I came across your site. ... I found your site very well presented and loaded with excellent data. I'm glad its there. ...
Date: Sat, 02 Sep 00 20:19PM EDT
Subject: Looking for Solutions to Depression
After being fascinated by Hara Estroff Marano’s article in Psychology Today (April 1999), I decided to look on the internet for more information. I was specifically turned on by her own editorial comments about cognitive therapy and behavioral activation. A libertarian at heart, I am always reluctant to allow responsibility for events and situations in my life be placed anywhere other than squarely on my own shoulders. So, even though fascinated by the article’s conclusion that there are physical abnormalities in my brain causing my extreme sadness, I searched for information on behavioral activation. Where I ended up was at your web- site, and I am grateful for that. The unease I felt at the prospect of an abnormality in my brain was quickly relieved as I read about the long and clumsy history of psychiatry. However, I must ask you, on behalf of others like me – afflicted with extreme sadness – to include links to writers and others that prescribe self-help solutions. I found one reference to a book called Reality Therapy in Action, which I will look into. But it would have been nice if after 6 hours of web-surfing (2-3 on your web-site) I would have found a self-help prescription for abandoning this disabling depressive state in which I find myself each morning. Anyway, thanks for your efforts. You effectively stopped me from requesting Prozac from my doctor on Monday. I know there is a better way to get happy.
It makes me very happy to hear that what you read on our web site dissuaded you from experimenting with a psychiatric drug like Prozac in hopes of relieving your feelings of despondency. Making the sad truths about psychiatry known to individuals who then, because of their newfound understanding, make the decision to and are able to avoid the harm caused by psychiatry's biological therapies, is one of the most important purposes and, so far, the greatest area of success of this web site. So far we have not been able to stop the tide of foolish and morally reprehensible pro-psychiatry laws that have been sweeping the U.S.A. and Canada and probably much of the rest of the world - new laws such as:
(1) those called "outpatient commitment" laws or, in Canada, laws authorizing "community treatment orders" (CTOs) - under which people may be court-ordered to take harmful psychiatric drugs while living in their own homes, and
(2) "mental health parity" laws - which force health care insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) to pay for psychiatry's health care quackery and (mis)treatment, even if done against the patient's wishes, on the same basis and under the same rules under which they pay for treatment for bona- fide disease.
The same day I received your letter I also received a letter from an Antipsychiatry Coalition activist in the UK dated August 31, 2000, saying, "here in the UK the Government has made some awful new proposals for the new Mental Health Act - these include forcing law-abiding people to take psychiatric drugs at home, when they are perfectly well. To try and prevent these measures becoming law, myself and many others, have been writing letters, talking to politicians, having protests etc. I have been busy doing this campaigning and so haven't had time for much else." Daniel Webster reportedly once said "There is nothing so powerful as truth." Because of what I'm seeing in the U.S.A. and Canada - enactment of laws based on psychiatric myths promoted by multi-million dollar advertising campaigns and legislative lobbying efforts that promote psychiatry - and especially psychiatric drugs - I'm beginning to wonder if maybe truth can't always prevail over well-financed advertising campaigns promoting myths. I hope one day truth will win out over our well- financed pro-psychiatry opposition, and we will persuade our legislators and governors to repeal these terrible laws, or to not enact them in the first place. We must continue our efforts. In the mean time, however, we are succeeding in steering people like you away from psychiatry.
Yes, perhaps I, as webmaster, should make this more of a self-help web site, rather than only a source of information about psychiatry's health care quackery and violations of human rights. I offered advice about how to stop feeling depressed to an attorney, R.J., in a letter that appears in the "Criticisms" section of this page (below). You might find reading my response to him useful. An Antipsychiatry Coalition activist in Canada includes the following quotation in every letter she e-mails to me: "ACTION IS THE ANTIDOTE TO DESPAIR." I think "depression" is always caused by a problem or problems in your life. Despite the claims of drug companies that make profits from selling psychiatric drugs, and despite the claims of psychiatrists who are distinguishing themselves from nonmedical mental health therapist competition who cannot prescribe drugs, there is no convincincing evidence severe unhappiness or "depression" is ever caused by something wrong with your brain (which should therefore be treated biologically such as with a drug). Changing whatever about your life is making you miserably unhappy is the only way to escape severe, even disabling, despondency. Changing your life is usually more difficult than filling a prescription for Prozac or some other drug. However, it is a better solution, because unlike supposedly antidepressant drugs or ECT, it works (and has no bad so-called side-effects).
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 00 18:03PM EDT
Subject: Gratitude from a fellow survivor/escapee
I am so happy to have found your site and so grateful that sites like yours and people like you and your supporters exist.
Until I was involuntarily committed I had no idea how disrespectful of individuality; how horrible, violent and insane the psychiatric system is. I now view it as an extension of the police state and consider the USA a fascist state, not a democracy where one has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We do not even have true freedom of speech in this conformist, authoritarian, materialistic society.
I wasn't completely naive prior to my four incarcerations. I have a sister who was a more or less willing victim of the psychiatric "expertise." Just seeing what was practiced on her (ECT, Lithium, Stellazine, Mellaril, Haldol, Depakote, etc., etc., etc.) was enough to convince me that my mother and psychiatrists were brutal, life-hating, Frankenstenian monsters. But I never dreamed that I would be in the vulnerable position where they could almost succeed in forcing that same "treatment" on me.
I still shudder when I think about the evil I witnessed at the hands of my so-called loved ones and their willing agents in the psychiatric and court system. Fortunately I am a fighter who had the finances, ability and sanity to fight back.
Also, luckily, I early on learned how to successfully play the court game, starting by hiring a lawyer (after my court-appointed lawyer did absolutely nothing for me, not even warning me that the psychiatrist would begin his testimony by lying against me) and ending with learning how to act "sane" in a courtroom. I call it my white male "one- unit-of-data" act, my lawyer called it acting "suave."
Now I know if someone were ever again successful in their lies about me to have me hospitalized again (and I am stupid enough not to suppress my "manic" energy and "crazy" ideas so as to result in hospitalization because of my "abnormal" behavior and thoughts), I will be successful and make my escape through the court system, again and again. I did it quite easily during my last two hospitalizations. Since then I have not yet (and hope never to have) had the occasion to act "normal" prior to threatened hospitalization. (Stupid me, I always acted my honest, emotional, excited self and then wondered why I was deemed insane and ended up hospitalized.) Now I know what is demanded of me to appear sane and not be molested and denied my human rights. What a sorry world we live in where we cannot be individuals, but must conform to the norm.
I have just created a web site about my incarcerations which you might want to browse if you are at all interested in another typical story of psychiatric and societal abuse. My website is titled The Story of a PROUD Nut Case. Its subtitle is The politics of insanity: A story of one woman's four involuntary psychiatric commitments. Its URL is: http://www.crosswinds.net/~vdgaines/index.html. My website is my small contribution to the fight against lying, power-hungry, life destroyers, such as the state sanctioned psychiatrists who mistreated me. I hope some people will be inspired by it to join or continue the fight against the System.
I wish I could have done more, but such is life. Thank God, you and your supporters are out there/here continuing the good fight. Please keep it up.
Wishing you much luck and success!
May our numbers swell for we must end this tyranny. We must end this violence. We must end this insanity. We must usher in a new humanity, grounded in truth, beauty, love, intelligence--and true sanity. The universe deserves no less.
A Proud Nut Case
(Wouldn't, couldn't, be anything but!)
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 00 14:59PM EDT
Subject: thanks to the antipsychiatry coalition site
I was pleased to discover this site and the excellent articles that it publishes.
My own story is similar to so many others -- my life was savaged by psychiatric commitment and diagnosis, and particularly by medications which caused severe effects (not side-effects: they didn't do anything else, anything positive!). It was only when I stopped taking them that I begun to start feeling myself again.
I find the situation in the UK where I live a difficult one, given how cautious I feel I have to be about expressing my views as regards how I was severely mentally and physically abused by psychiatric commitment.
While I have minimal contact with a psychiatrist, and am taking no 'medications', I know only too well what can be done to a person with a 'psychiatric history' who speaks the truth about involuntary psychiatric commitment. While confined, so to do is seen as a key 'symptom' of being ill, and regarded as 'delusional'. While committed, to speak against the system will only entail further confinement and ludicrous diagnosis. I quickly shut up!
What other illness is there for which the chief symptom is the denial that one is ill?!!! And, then, once one has been 'discharged', one enters a new life of stigma, and poverty -- I lost my job as a teacher, though I was a competent teacher who had in no way compromised myself at work -- because I was not prepared to take lithium and was so deemed unfit to teach. It is possible to rant, how can such abuse and discrimination exist, but it does, and it seems unlikely to end in this country, given the current climate.
I feel that I have retained my 'sanity' -- in my refusal to be medicated, or to accept a mental health label -- but the cost of this is immense. One is consigned to the fringes of society. I currently live on sickness benefits. My right to meaningful work has been taken away from me.
Certainly there is no point in turning to the organisations in this country, such as Mind, which apparently promote 'mental health'. I feel that they will not listen to those of us who do not believe in mental illness, but are simply furthering false beliefs about the biological nature of mental illness -- an absurdity if ever there was one. What is so painful is that they claim to be working to end stigma and that they are there to help the cause of those with mental illness. In my view, all they are doing is encouraging people to accept the authority of harmful practices.
I know how easy it would be for me to say, 'oh, I'm so depressed.' This could potentially start up the whole psychiatric process again. Yet, my depression has a cause, I am clear about that. It is the weight of having to live with a personal history of being abused by and having my life savaged by an institution which never owns up to the harm it is doing to individuals, but which labels legitimate complaint as 'symptom'. This is a hard knowledge to live with. I used to believe that society was fair, that it supported freedom, as long as individuals did not break the law. I cannot any longer believe in such things. Having to live with a painful knowledge about the society that I live in, about its legal hypocrisy, and so on, is very frightening.
But, to say something positive, my own sanctuary has been writing. Writing for self-expression is free, it involves taking no medicines, nor paying for a counsellor. Speaking the truth of my individual experience, trying to make sense of it, can be tough, but it is, to me, a valuable journey.
Well, I've had my rant.
It is good to know that there is a body of people out there who are fighting psychiatric abuse. Sometimes I feel very alone in my views, and this is not a good thing.
A thought: in this country, someone recently won a negligence case against her employer, a supermarket chain, after she had tripped up on a grape: yet, a person whose whole life has been ruined by psychiatric abuse and gross medical negligence cannot even file a claim because, being formerly 'mad', that person deserves all they get. What does this say about a country, a society, about freedom, etc??
With all best wishes,
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 00 17:09PM EDT
Dear Anti-Psychiatry Coalition,
I'm in the UK. I may be able to help with your distribution programme in some way at some point. I may possibly be able to help with translation (Portuguese and Spanish).
Your site and your movement are really needed.
I think that what your site says about psychiatric drugs is probably the sad truth. The analogy of "psychiatric rape" is quite appropriate. ...
I don't know about the whole idea of abolishing "psychiatry" but it definitely seems to be moving in an unscientific and basically flawed and false direction, particularly in the USA and the UK...
Your message really is needed. Keep up the good work.
Date: Tue, 30 May 00 17:42PM EDT
From: "asta ghee" - firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a practicing Counselling Psychologist in Ireland who supports the anti-psychiatry movement and agrees with such courageous people as Tomas Szasz, Peter Breggin etc. Although not so blatent and widespread as in America, aggressive community medication and calls for more troublesome children to be diagnosed and treated for ADHD are increasing here too. GPs in Ireland, with little or no qualification to do so, are diagnosing 'mental illnesses' and prescribing anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs at will. ... Congratulations on your WebSite which is so informative and up to date.
Asta Ghee, B.A., M.A. Psych.
Tel: 00 353 506 41252
Date: Fri, 05 May 00 23:14PM EDT
To: Douglas Smith - email@example.com
I did not translate the last few days because I was busy with my own antipsychiatry book! The last pages I wrote were about Orwellian NAMI. I would love to send it to you! Alas, I write in Spanish. The title of my book is "Letter to mom Medusa: How parents and a psychiatrist can murder a soul". It is similar to an autobiographical book that perhaps you know, John Modrow's "How to become a schizophrenic: the case against biological psychiatry".
Since I will be busy from now on, I will translate only one page per day. That means that Stevens' fourth article will be ready in about nine days.
I still want to translate at least seven of Steven's articles -- the best ones. I think yours is the best web site critical of this inquisitorial pseudoscience, and I want it in Spanish too.
Thank you so much for your Spanish translations! And good luck with your book. The Spanish-language version of this web site you and I are putting together is the only antipsychiatry web site I know of that is available in Spanish. Do you know of any others? If you (or anyone reading this) knows of other antipsychiatry web sites in Spanish, please let us know so we can consider adding links to them.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 00 03:15AM EDT
To whom it may concern:
I've just spent the last few hours reading many of the articles from your domain. Why it took me so long to find it I'll never know. Thankful I am now that I have. You are doing a great and important thing, Work that is oh so very close to my heart, having been incarcerated (hospitalized) by my mother when I was 17.
It's been a long hard and lonely road convincing people that depression is a myth, and that unhappiness is as much a part of human nature as is desire. Perhaps my finding you will instigate a new turn in my life, a greater sense of belonging within a human community. I have a voice and a story to tell, and I am so completely in accord with your views as presented in your writings. I think one thing alone has been my savior through my times of unhappiness and stigmatization; self-study and curiosity. So now here I am, feeling like I'm writing home.
What can I do? Please put me on whatever mailing list you have. I don't generate a lot of income for myself, but I would be more than glad to make a contribution to this cause. ... I live...north of Madison [Wisconsin]. Are there people in Madison that I can get in touch with?
I remove my hat to all there engaged in this work, and bow with a hearty and heartfelt thanks. Another human individual just had an experience of clarity, redemption, belonging due to your efforts. I look forward to future correspondence.
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 00 09:58AM EDT
Subject: First Amendment
As a psychiatric patient, I found that browsing through your site was very interesting and a fine example of exercising your First Amendment rights. However, if it weren't for desipramine, I would be dead in a snowbank two months ago, instead of here to continue giving love to my two kids and husband. For those who loved life but suddenly become depressed enough to consider suicide, I don't see anything wrong with taking drugs temporarily. Anyway, I enjoyed looking through your site as a "second opinion" and contrast to mainstream thinking. Good site, especially the legislation sections. People tend to blindly listen to doctors rather than take care of themselves so I'm sure many will benefit from your "wake up" call.
Thanks for your letter. Regarding the supposed ability of psychiatric drugs such as desipramine to prevent suicide, see my response to "O.G." in the Criticisms section, below.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 00 08:19AM MST
Subject: Re: directory of psych-professionals opposing involuntary treatment
It was good to hear from you and about your work. I sent your request to Peter Breggin's list serve which has about 200 anti-psychiatry workers in the field. I am sure you will be receiving a flood of mail. Please keep me informed. Your work could be coordinated with the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (Peter Breggin's group). Do you know about them? Who is Lawrence Stevens? I talked with Tom Szasz [Thomas S. Szasz, M.D.]. He regrets that he is retired and does not want to be listed. But he would like to meet Lawrence Stevens. Can you send infor on him? Looking forward to talking with you.
The writer, Ron Leifer, M.D., is a psychiatrist and a friend of psychiatry professor and author Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., whose books, starting with The Myth of Mental Illness in 1961, are often credited with giving birth the the anti-psychiatry movement. In his letter to the list of professionals he mentions that was forwarded with one of the responses, Dr. Leifer wrote: "Received a call and this e-mail from this Doug Smith. Check out the website mentioned below (www.antipsychiatry.org). It is terrific."
Date: Sun, 06 Feb 00 09:53AM MST
After several months of learning the Internet, I have finally almost found my way around. My original interest and continued interest has been in "survivor's movements." Since there are many, I have been caught in the maze of information and actions and philosophies etc. After careful observation, it appears that my interests are best allied with those of this web site offerings.
Is the founder Douglas Smith? From some writings, it appears that Douglas Smith is an M.D. doctor, is that true? If so does he have a specialty?
I guess I am impressed by the professionalism of the total presentation on this site and so much information that is free to copy. ...
Thank you for all your work and help me if you can and let me know where to go if you can't and how I can best carry on similar work on a local basis.
Thanks for the favorable review. No, Douglas A. Smith, the webmaster of this website, is not a physician. There is a psychiatrist named Douglas C. Smith in Juneau, Alaska who specializes in undoing the harm done by other psychiatrists, and he is becoming an important person in the antipsychiatry movement, but he is a different person.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 00 13:28PM MST
Subject: great website
Dear Mr. Smith,
What a valuable service you are providing! Your arguments are compelling and your extensive knowledge of the subject obvious. ...no solution will be found until the "expertise" of psychiatry is exposed. Your efforts are invaluable.
My experience with psychiatry was merely amusing, compared to the harm you describe. It can be read at: http://members.aol.com/bertvan.
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 00 04:09AM MST
Hello, I'm french ... I do thank you and congratulations for your Web site. Foreign translations are welcome, they're so rare !
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 99 09:04AM MST
Subject: WONDERFUL SITE!
Wanted to let you know you have support in Minnesota! I am looking for others in the state for support for myself. I almost let the industry get me. I am slowly detoxing off the drugs and have stopped seeing my therapist and psychiatrist. Since I can't find support here, I began looking on the net. I have looked at many pages and this is the first I feel a kinship with. I will continue to visit and if I can help in any way, let me know. I am not involved in any group. Give me ideas as to where to pass out the flyers, and I will pass them out. Keep up the great work!
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 99 11:20AM MST
From: "Al Siebert"
Subject: article submission
I'm very impressed with your web site! ...
Peter Breggin's new journal has published an article I wrote about the ways that psychiatrists misrepresent what is known about schizophrenia. The article is posted at my "Successful Schizophrenia" web site: htt p://www.webcom.com/thrive/schizo/articles/ehss.html. You have my permission to download it and post it at your web site if you wish, or link to it.
I am also executive director of the Kenneth Donaldson Archives for the Autobiographies of Psychiatric Survivors. If any survivors contact you about wanting to publish a book about their experiences, I would like to have a hard copy for the archives. More info at: http://www.webcom.com/thrive/schizo/kdarch.html.
With best regards,
Al Siebert is a psychologist who has published several books, including some critical of psychiatry. The article he submitted, Unethical Psychiatrists Misrepresent What is Known About Schizophrenia, now appears on this web site.
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 99 12:33PM MST
Absolutely fantastic! I just finished reading more of your site especially the Dr. Anonymous letters and your perfect replies. It does help to have truth on your side.
[name & address withheld]
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 99 08:08AM MDT
Thank you for all your great work. ...
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 99 23:16PM MDT
Subject: link to your page
I love your web page and have a link [to it] on my Winking Shrink page. Thank you, and if there is anything I can do please let me know.
Date: 28 Aug 99 21:43PM MDT
Subject: Great site
Very nicely done site!! I was thrilled to find you tonight. Keep up the good work and tell the world!!!!! Humans have rights and psychiatrists attempt to make the mentally ill another category of Being that is somehow not human anymore and not deserving of human rights.
It's not just psychiatrists who think of supposedly mentally ill people as less than human: It's almost everybody, including the judges of our courts. The reason people think of us supposedly mentally ill people as less than fully human is, essentially, it is the human mind that distinguishes humans from (other) animals; and to those who think mental illness is a real illness (rather than being a term used to express disapproval of some aspect of another person's thinking) the mind (or brain) of a mentally ill person is defective. So in the minds of people who think this way, the mind that makes us human is missing or defective, making us almost non-human.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 99 12:54PM MDT
Subject: web site and Margaret Hagen
Just found your web site and am very impressed by the resources on it. I'm a consumer/survivor/expatient/whatever and agree with much of what you have on there. My sole concern is in promoting Margaret Hagen, who, while her book might seem to be positive from our end of things, also bashes ADA, EEOC, and other things that allow people labelled with mental illness to move into the workplace. Just food for thought.
Date: June 20, 1999
Re: PLEASE KEEP THIS ANONYMOUS
Thank you for this site and all your work. I really admire the way you are able to marshall your arguments. I have recently started reading Valenstein's Blaming the Brain (found it in my public library), which you mention.
I am researching and trying to find good scientific evidence (which he provides) against the biomedical model of 'mental illness'. I suffer from what a therapist calls 'depression' and what I call confused thinking. He and my father and my brother try to push me into drugs. I have been so distressed that at times in my life I have tried various psychoactive drugs (prescribed by various psychiatrists, therapists, etc.). They make me CRAZY! I would never again take any medication.
I asked the last MD who prescribed something that made me feel terrible if he had ever tried it. He found that question outrageous - but, hey, why not?
Once I attended a 'self-help' group for depression. Really I wasn't looking for answers, just some empathy. Every person in the group (no exaggeration) except me was taking drugs, many were taking 3 or 4 prescribed drugs. How sad. Once they found out that I did not believe in drug therapy, they wanted to hear nothing else from me.
You are quite right in your statement about confidentiality. Also, even if one has not been committed, just admitting to distress can also be a stigma, hence the anonymous tag.
What do you think about the placebo affect? It must be very strong because I know literally dozens of people ('depressives', 'manic-depressives', 'schizophrenics') who will swear up and down that their life is so much better now that they are on medication. Also a factor is the "doctor as god" mentality.
Well, keep up the good work. I also like the fact that you have mail on the forum from people who disagree with you and I appreciate your reasoned answers.
Date: Mon, 24 May 99 22:00PM MDT
Wow! Great Web site! The articles and correspondence by Stevens and Smith are wonderfully well- written. The News Clips section is a great idea--there's especially no shortage of depressing pro-psychiatry propaganda in the daily media to take issue with. (Perhaps you could monitor TV sitcoms and movies, too.) I'm glad you memorialized Clinton's State of the Union remarks. It's so spiritually draining when you think you're the only one who even notices such things, much less gets seriously bummed out by them. I've recently started my own site, a fanciful collection of stories, essays and diary entries, in an attempt to make sense out of the hash that my life has remained since I was accused of "mental illness" by family and doctors many years ago. I've put the Antipsychiatry Coalition at the top of my list of links. My personal hope is that someday we'll see more alternatives to psychiatry. I think there's a lot of lonely people in this society (such as myself!) who just need someone to talk to, someone they can trust, someone who won't label them "sick" or "diseased," someone who won't turn them over to the authorities just for expressing the grief and confusion that are often enough a part of being human. Anyway, great site. I will be back often!
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 99 09:53AM MDT
Subject: Your web site
I have just visited your website and was very pleased to see the work that you are doing. I am a psychiatrist who has come to understand the unscientific nature of this field. I have seen first-hand the harm that often results from "treating" so-called mental illness.
I am interested in your efforts and hope to visit the site frequently.
Michael Reznicek M.D.
Date: April 7, 1999
To: Douglas Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org
I am interested in offering a course in the philosophy of antipsychiatry. I am an undergraduate which has been offered a position as a teaching assistant. I was wondering if you could send me 10 copies of each of the starred articles on your web site so I could use them for literature in my course as well as distribute them. My course is sympathetic to the ideas of the antipsychiatry movement and I would not be using the pamphlets in an unproductive manner. Is that possible?
I would need them by May 23rd, as I will be teaching a summer course for this upcoming summer semester. Thank you for your time.
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 99
To:Douglas Smith - email@example.com
Thank you very much for your time and commitment to educating people to all facets of what is amounting to a pseudo-science of psychology.
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999
Subject: YEAH, I AM NOT ALONE!
I am presently a mental patient. I am 28 years old and have spent nearly five years of my life in psychiatric facilities. It is so good to find others who feel the same way that I do about the mental health field. [emphasis added] ... My family has money, therefore these facilities come up with diagnosis after diagnosis, to keep me here. My family has spent over a million dollars on my "mental health". I can no longer function in society, I don't know how anymore. I feel like an outcast, shamed and labeled. I am not "crazy", but it gets harder and harder to keep believing this. I am a strong woman and will not be kept down. I have been working on taking my power back, and will continue to. Keep Hope Alive!
If you reply to this, please do so from another address, as I need to keep these feelings private (for now).
Realizing psychiatry has no scientific validity can help you overcome many of the self-esteem problems and some of the problems of psychiatric stigma that come from being or having been a mental patient. The fact that you can't openly receive e-mail from someone with an e-mail address like "firstname.lastname@example.org" without fear of adverse consequences illustrates that your position is more similar to that of a political prisoner than a true patient. Since coming from a family with a lot of money is usually an advantage in life, it is ironic that you probably would have lived a life of more freedom that would have been better if your family didn't have the money to make you a prisoner of psychiatry for so many years. In a nation that truly respects human rights this wouldn't happen. You shouldn't feel bad about not knowing how to conduct yourself in normal society after 5 years of living in psychiatric institutions. I felt somewhat the same way after a much shorter period of psychiatric incarceration, and by most measures I've done well in the years that followed. Perhaps we should correspond privately and discuss strategies you can use to free yourself from the oppression called "psychiatric treatment" you are currently being subjected to.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 11:08:02
I ran across your site via Alexa today and was very impressed. Your answer to Dr. Anonymous was very well laid out and honestly, who could argue with that logic. ... It is good to know that there are other areas which strive to bring the truth to the people and hope that some "doctors" will see these materials and have a change of heart.
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 15:07:59
This is an exceptional site! I am adding it to the links page on my site: http://www.depressionculture.com. Depressionculture is the website associated with a new documentary film entitled we don't live under NORMAL CONDITIONS, which challenges biopsychiatry on the causes of depression and mental illness. There is so much material which refutes the claims of the biological determinists--the big issue being making it TRULY accessible to lots of folks. Your site is a great addition to the struggle. Thanks.
Date: Wed., 03 Feb 1999
To: Douglas Smith - antipsychiatry email@example.com
...The latest post on the forum I thought was really superb. I keep reminding myself I want to print it out.
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999
Dear Mr. Stevens:
First, congratulations for one of the most comprehensive, well thought and well presented sites on the Net concerning what all must come to recognize as the foremost brutality in our world, psychiatry. ... If we are to live lives that are worth living, we must destroy psychiatry. ...
Our only option, Mr. Stevens, is the courtroom and the legal system. Because convincing the public will remain impossible. The lure of believing that there is a subset of the human race which is genetically, biologically, and chemically subordinate to the race at large is just too great. ...
Why is the American public convinced of the lie that some human beings respond to the meaning in their lives, while others are at the behest of their chemical makeup? The answer is the overwhelm of the information media of America, and foremost, Television. None of your technologies, including the Net, can ever complete. ...
Why are individual victims, living meaningless lives, stigmatized and rejected, feeling their brains numbed, their bodies falling apart, clinging to the words of their tormenting doctors? They are intimidated by threats of reincarceration, they are overwhelmed by the illogic, but most of all, they are drugged. ...
The following strategies are needed: 1) The guarantee of free speech. Victims today cannot speak freely without being accused of not taking their medication and being reincarcerated. ...
Presumably, the judges are more amenable to intelligent argument than the public. ... The courtroom offers us the only avenue of power we have to stop them. There, we can penalize them financially, we can bar them from acting further. ... WE MUST MAKE OUR APPEALS TO THE SUPREME COURT. WE MUST BE ABLE TO GUARANTEE OUR CIVIL RIGHTS ... We can do it. Because we must. We cannot go on living under the most total domination one set of humans has ever commanded over another.
Psychiatry must die.
Thank you for telling us your favorable opinion of the viewpoints expressed by attorney Lawrence Stevens in articles appearing on this web site.
Judges are as deceived by the concept of mental illness and by psychiatry's false claims of benevolence towards "patients" and of scientific expertise as anyone. If you don't think so, go to a library and read the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (United States Reports, volume 442, page 584), a 1979 decision that allows states to enact laws permitting minors (persons under age 18) to be committed to mental "hospitals" against their will with the concurrence of their parents and a psychiatrist with no right to any sort of hearing or trial. This decision reveals how deluded are the judges of our nation's highest court (and by implication the judges of our lower courts) about psychiatry's true nature and purpose.
While your pessimism about the likelihood of us enlightening the public (and, I would add, lawmakers and the judiciary) about how scientifically and morally bankrupt psychiatry is seems justified, we must at least try, for reasons you describe. I can't remember who it was who said: There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there should never be a time we fail to protest. Let us also remember that no one is safe when others are oppressed.
We have several obstacles, including these: (1) We are working against the use of the concept of mental illness to enforce unwritten rules of conduct many people want enforced but which can not be written into criminal law without violating America's (and other democracies') constitutional principles (such as the right to freedom of speech): The violation of these unwritten rules of conduct is what is called "mental illness." Psychiatry and its concept of mental illness enforce a degree of conformity that can not, consistent with constitutional principles, be enforced with criminal law. For example, a law making it a crime to express an irrational idea or an unpopular opinion would be an obvious violation of the USA's First Amendment, but people are "diagnosed" as "mentally ill" and imprisoned ("hospitalized") for this every day in the USA. Making it a crime punishable by imprisonment to show extreme sorrow in public in circumstances that annoy other people, or being sad for reasons with which others are unsympathetic or to an extent that makes other people uncomfortable, would be obviously despotic, but to most people it becomes acceptable if the essentially the same thing is done in the name of "treating depression." Enforcing these unwritten rules of conduct with stigmatizing "diagnoses" of "mental illness" leading to imprisonment ("hospitalization") and torture of those who violate them (with forced administration of misery-inducing drugs called "medication" or with electric shock "therapy") violates human rights and constitutional rights, but because it is called "treating mental illness," this reality is missed by most people, including most lawmakers and judges. (2) We are working against mental health "professionals" whose economic survival is dependent on the perpetuation of psychiatric myths. (3) We are working against a pharmaceutical industry that spends probably millions of dollars a year on advertising promoting the concept of mental illness and chemical theories of mental illness for the purpose of persuading doctors and patients to use harmful drugs the sale of which are very profitable for the pharmaceutical industry. (4) We are working against the human desire to elevate oneself by denigrating others, as you have indicated in your letter: Everybody feels superior to the so-called mentally ill. This human tendency to make oneself superior by degrading others is one of the causes of both racism and the modern mental health movement with its stigmatization of the so- called mentally ill.
This web-site and others like it, our magazine and newspaper advertising, our pamphlet distribution, and our public demonstrations, are all part of our attempt to make everyone (psychiatry's so-called patients, mental health "professionals," the public, lawmakers, and the judiciary) aware of how scientifically and morally wrong psychiatry is.
Douglas A. Smith
3 Sep 1998
I visited your website and found it impressive and compelling. ...
Awards Won by this Website
Date: Sun, 29 Apr 01 05:30AM EDT
Subject: Your Content Has Been Recommended By Backwash.com!
Congratulations! Your content has been recommended by Backwash.com! You are now authorized to post the small "Backwash Approved" graphic on your site... The content appears on the page titled: "Newthink" and reads as follows:
"Does Mental Illness Exist?"
"This brilliant analysis presupposes that the terms 'disease' and 'mental illness' are wholly relative, coined by doctors to pigeonhole the masses and alienate individuals. A must-read." http://www.antipsychiatry.org/EXIST.HTM.
... getting recommended can lead to significant and ongoing visibility of your site's content. ... Hundreds of thousands of people look to Backwash as the arbiters of taste as their personal information filters for the best specific content on the Internet, and we thank you for providing such great content.
(See backwash.com for discussion of this article.)
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 00 16:41PM EST
Subject: Happiness and welcome to dobleU.com!
For we who work in dobleU it is a pleasure to inform you that your website, http://www.antipsychiatry.org/espanol.htm, has been added to our directory, having complied with strict standards of quality. The dobleU certification is granted only to those websites that, after being evaluated by our editorial team, fulfill requirements of content, design, professionalism, originality, and functionality. The dobleU mission is to offer a search tool that is sure and efficient, and to do this we evaluate all sites on the Internet in Spanish and Portuguese. Until now we have evaluated 100,000 websites and only 40,000 they have been worthy of the dobleU's Certificate of Quality. ...
Humberto Guzman Federico Clariond
Director of Operations
ORIGINAL TEXT (IN SPANISH):
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 00 16:41PM EST
Subject: Felicidades y bienvenido a dobleU.com!
Para quienes trabajamos en dobleU es un gusto informarte que tu sitio http://www.antipsychiatry.org/espanol.htm ha sido agregado a nuestro directorio por haber cumplido con estandares estrictos de calidad. La certificacion dobleU se otorga unicamente a aquellos sitios que, despues de ser evaluados por nuestro equipo editorial, cumplen con los requisitos de contenido, diseno, profesionalismo, originalidad y funcionalidad. La mision de dobleU es brindar una herramienta de busqueda mas segura y eficiente, para esto vamos a evaluar todos los sitios de Internet en espanol y portugues. Hasta el momento hemos evaluado mas de 100,000 sitios y solo 40,000 se han hecho acreedores al "Certificado de Calidad dobleU". ...
Humberto Guzman Federico Clariond
Director General Director de Operaciones
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 00 15:46PM EDT
Subject: Links2Go "Psychiatry" Award
The page titled "Antipsychiatry Coalition, The", at http://www.antipsychiatry.org/, was selected as a Links2Go "Key Resource" in the Psychiatry topic, at http://www.links2go.com/topic/Psychiatry.
How your page was selected
Each quarter, Links2Go samples millions of web pages to determine which pages are most heavily cited by web pages authors, such as yourself. The most popular pages are downloaded and automatically categorized by topic. At most 50 of the pages related to a topic are selected as "Key Resources." Out of 50 pages selected as Key Resources for the Psychiatry topic, your page ranked 25th. [As of July 12, 2000, other award-winning websites in this category are the those of the American Psychiatric Association, National Institute of Mental Health, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and Dr. Peter Breggin's Center for the Study of Psychiatry & Psychology.] For topics like Music, where there are a large number of interested authors and related pages, it is harder to achieve selection as a Key Resource than for a special-interest topic, such as Quantum Physics.
The Links2Go Key Resource award differs from other awards in two important ways. First, it is objective. Most awards rely on hand selection by one or more "experts," many of whom have only looked at tens or hundreds of thousands of pages in bestowing their awards. Selection for these awards means no more than that one person, somewhere, noticed your page and liked it enough to select it. The Key Resource award, on the other hand, is based on an analysis of millions of web pages. Any group or organization who conducts a similar analysis will arrive at similar conclusions. When Links2Go says your page is a Key Resource, we mean that your page is one of the most relevant pages related to a particular topic on the web today, using an objective statistical measure applied to an extremely large data set.
Second, the Key Resource award is exclusive. We get literally hundreds of people requesting that their page be added to one or more topics per week. All of these requests are denied. The only way to get listed as a Key Resource is to achieve enough popularity for our analysis to select your pages automatically. We do not accept fees, offers of link exchanges, free advertising, or bartered livestock as inducements to add new sites to our lists. Fewer than one page in one thousand will ever be selected as a Key Resource.
Do I need to do anything?
You do not need to take any action to qualify for the award. Your page has already been selected and is already listed as a KeyResource. Pages that rank near the top of the list of Key Resources will almost certainly remain Key Resources on subsequent rebuilds of the index. Pages that are ranked near the bottom of the list may be "knocked off" the list or be assigned to different topics on later rebuilds. No action you take, other than steps to increase the popularity of your web pages, will have any effect on future selection. ...
Once again, congratulations on your award!
Date: Wed, 17 May 00 15:15PM EDT
Subject: Disinformation Site Award
Congratulations: the editors of Disinformation (www.disinfo.com) have chosen your Web site for the Disinformation Subversive Site Award! We have linked to your site in Disinformation's Anti-Psychiatry dossier as one of the most informative sites on that topic.
Since 1996 Disinformation has been the Web's leading source for news, information and opinions that the establishment media prefers to ignore or suppress; a link from Disinformation will drive plenty of interested Web surfers to your site. We would greatly appreciate your linking back to us with the Subversive Site graphic that is attached to this message. Alternatively, you can cut and paste the site graphic code from here: http://www.disinfo.com/linkback.html
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at anytime.
Thanks for making the Web a more interesting and fruitful place to spend time.
Douglas A. Smith, webmaster of this website, responded with a letter saying "The whole of your letter seems to make clear you're paying us a compliment, but the first sentence made me wonder if you were saying we were distributing disinformation! I'll take a look at your site for a better understanding."
Date: Fri, 19 May 00 09:37AM EDT
From: "disinfodeb" firstname.lastname@example.org
To: "Douglas Smith" email@example.com
Subject: Disinformation Site Award - Antipsychiatry
Dear Mr. Douglas Smith--
Our site is dedicated to the information that isn't really known to the mainstream media. Rest assured, we are not implying that you are distributing disinformation at all! In fact, it is quite the opposite. Anti-Psychiatry is something that one does not usually hear about, and we think that your site is one of the best sources on the topic.
Date: 06:25 PM EDT, 04/25/2002
I came across this site looking for info on how we could legally commit my 21 year old brother. So I started reading your articles, and would like to know what you think the problem is then. Since according to you, there is no such thing like bi-polar disorder, then please help me understand why he's out of control. For the last 8 years he has gotten increasingly erratic. He can barely keep let alone obtain a job. He's verbally and sometimes phyically abusive he uses whatever drugs and alcohol he can find, has been suicidal, he's gotten into trouble with the police, sold many of my mother's belongings to get money, he's stolen from family members, seems to have no ambition or sense of responsibilty. And now he has a 6 month old, but he can't even take care of himself. He drove my mother to bankruptcy, she lost her house, and then got kicked out of an apartment because of him. So now she's on the verge of getting an order of protection in their next domestic court case. So should we just let the jails have him? Let him be homeless? How much of your tax dollars are you willing to spend on him? Because we've spent thousands. We love him, but he has us completely falling apart. So, smarty pants, will you give him a job, and a place to live? Or when he's dead or has aids or lives in a dumpster, are we just supposed to say "Well, that's the way it was meant to be?" I really think some people need other people's HELP, otherwise, you wouldn't need this website, now would you? Waiting on your 'all knowing' answer!
April 26, 2002
Thanks for your letter. I appreciate and sympathize with your frustration.
Here's my answer: You and your mother should do what you must to protect yourselves from your brother's irresponsible conduct, but at the same time, you should respect his right to do whatever he wants that does not violate the rights of other people. You have a right to disassociate yourselves from him, and you have a right to bring criminal complaints against him that may result in him being dealt with as criminal law provides, but (morally) you do not have a right to violate his right to freedom or his right to live his life as irresponsibly as he wants by incarcerating him (such as through involuntary psychiatric commitment) unless you first prove he did something illegal.
This is the best answer that is consistent with your brother's rights as a human being. While civil commitment law may give you the power to incarcerate and punish your brother for his irresponsible behavior, adding brain damage and neurological dysfunction and psychiatric stigma to his already existing problems will only make matters worse.
Good luck to all of you.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 00 15:53PM EDT
I happened on your website due to an article opposing it on http://www.writtenbyme.com/articles/375186504.shtml. I really didn't think that the things this author had been quoting from a Lawrence Stevens, J.D. would actually be said let alone publicized. Where do you get your research? Mental illness IS an illness and has been proven. It's a lack of seratonin in the brain. That's why the new S.S.R.I.'s are so affective.
Your callousness about suicide and the rights to be allowed to do it are extremely disturbing. I would be dead right now if it wasn't for suicide prevention, medication, hospitalization, and weekly therapy. And in my experience dealing with THOUSANDS of those with mental illness (in my research for my book) I have never heard of anyone being harmed by psych drugs, psychiatrist treatment, or any of the credulous blabber on your site.
Although I firmly support the freedom of speech, this is one time that I am ashamed that we let all our citizens express their opinions. I can only hope that your site doesn't KILL anyone who thinks they are not ill. Maybe you should think long and hard about that.
I think the following quote taking directly from the site PROVES that mental illness really does exist. Who else but an ill, untreated person would right and believe such nonsense. "After homosexuals made a big enough spectacle of themselves and showed their 'strength in numbers' and successfully demanded at least a small measure of social acceptance, it was no longer necessary and no longer seemed appropriate to explain homosexuality as a disease."
Webmaster Douglas A. Smith responds:
Regarding Susan's assertion that "mental illness" (she probably means depression) is caused by "a lack of seratonin [serotonin] in the brain," see Prozac Backlash, a book by Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, published in the year 2000, in which he says: "We do not yet have proof either of the cause or the physiology for any psychiatric diagnosis" (page 193). Of this serotonin theory of depression specifically (used to justify using drugs that are supposedly "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors - SSRIs), Dr. Glenmullen says:"A serotonin deficiency for depression has not been found. ... Still, patients are often given the impression that a definitive serotonin deficiency in depression is firmly established" (page 197), which probably explains Susan's firm belief in this theory. Regarding Susan's assertion that "the new S.S.R.I.'s are so affective" (she means effective), Dr. Glenmullen says: "The efficacy and safety of serotonin boosters is anything but 'scientifically proven'" (page 211).
To read about studies showing psychiatric "treatment" does not usually prevent suicide (and may motivate people to commit suicide), see "Suicide: A Civil Right".
For evidence of harm from psychiatric drugs, see "Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery?", Jenelle's Story, and Harm from Psychiatric Drugs (elsewhere here in The Antipsychiatry Forum).
The quotation about homosexuality is found in "Does Mental Illness Exist?" Readers seeing this statement in (or out) of context can form their own opinion about whether it "PROVES that mental illness really does exist" as Susan claims.
And on the subject of killing people, you might want to read "Abuse in Mental Institutions", an article about people being not just physically and sexually abused but killed (by the use of physical restraints) in mental hospitals.
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 00 02:43AM EDT
From: Lisa Di Valentino
[Note: This writer's name and university affiliation appear here at her request.]
Subject: Some philosophical musings
Dear Mr. Smith,
I have been looking through your website, and I thought I might offer some constructive criticism regarding your argument that mental illness does not exist. I will comment on each premise in turn:
1) "Mental illness doesn't exist because psychiatrists can't agree on its definition." This premise implies that there is one, universal, cross-cultural definition of physical illness to which mental illness can be compared. If you know what that is, I'd certainly like to be let in on the secret.
2) "They haven't found the biological causes of mental illness, therefore it doesn't exist." First of all, this is an argument from ignorance; a common logical fallacy. Even if a biological cause has not yet been found, we can't necessarily preclude the existence of one. I could just as easily say that because evolutionists have not found the missing link between humanoids and humans, that one doesn't exist, and so evolution is false.
Secondly, you are again implying that a biological cause can be found for every and all so- called physical illness. That is obviously not true. Can I now claim that cancer does not exist, or that oncology is a pseudo-science? Or that Lou Gehrig didn't really die of Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)?
Or do you mean to say that a biological cause is not necessary for illness, only a biological manifestation? In that case, mental illnesses do fit the bill, since they do result in somatic signs and symptoms; some annoying, some terrifying, some life- threatening (consider the rapid weight-loss experienced by sufferers of major depression and panic disorder, due to anorexia and gastrointestinal distress.)
3) "'Mental illness' is a label given to those who do not conform to society's standards." Certainly the behaviour of schizophrenics and manic-depressives is disturbing, sometimes threatening. I can understand why society would have an interest in anticipating any harms (real or imagined). However, not all mental illnesses manifest themseves in such behaviours. Panic disorder, for example, is disturbing mainly to the sufferer. They experience cold sweats, hyperventilation, gastrointestinal distress, violent trembling. They do not exhibit any symptoms that would be threatening to any bystander or to society as a whole. Society has no need to "fear" a person in the throes of panic attack.
"Illness" (as in physical illness) is also used to project value systems on to so-called sufferers. Some feminist authors (such as Gena Corea) claim that "infertility" is a manufactured disease meant to reinforce the notion that women are somehow "incomplete" or "abnormal" if they cannot conceive or maintain a pregnancy. The mainstream medical community, however, continues to research causes and treatments for this "disease", using women as guinea pigs under the guise of "therapy", and subjecting their "patients" to copious amounts of hormone stimulation and invasive surgery.
4) "Psychiatrists can't cure 'mental illnesses', only treat them." This is obviously true for many "physical" illnesses as well: diabetes and AIDS, for example. (Not to mention infertility, a fact that is perfectly OK with manufacturers of hormone stimulants.)
5) "Those with so-called mental illnesses are simply reacting to unfavourable circumstances in their lives." Again, this appears to be true of so-called physical illnesses such as ulcers, acne, infertility, and heart disease. Stress has been shown to cause all manner of physical impairment, from the merely uncomfortable to the life-threatening. We don't suggest, however, that ulcers do not exist because they are caused by reaction to unfavourable circumstances. Furthermore, this premise follows from premise 2) -- that no biological cause can be found, therefore mental illness does not exist. Simply because one cannot be found (or you don't agree with the causes that have been found), it is not philosophically sound to jump to the conclusion that there is no biological cause, and therefore it must be social.
6) "Psychiatry should be abolished as a 'medical specialty' because it causes harm." Psychiatry can cause harm; no doubt about it. So can genetic research and therapy. In fact, critics of the Human Genome Project claim that the mere search for the exact contents of the human genome will invariably lead us down the slippery slope to eugenics. Some bioethicists claim that such a slide is already occurring with the amount of genetic research taking place, and the claims by some companies such as Celera to ownership of genetic sequences.
In short, I can see no objections to psychiatry and the concept of mental illness that cannot also be applied to the field of medicine as a whole. If we are to determine what mental illness is, and whether it exists, it might be prudent to first determine what "illness" is.
To inject a personal note: I have been suffering from panic disorder for 20 years. I began treatment with Paxil in 1993. I am now very healthy, both physically and mentally. I suffer no side effects, and I am currently working on a Master's degree in philosophy. (I wanted to counteract the stereotype of the drooling, zombielike, overmedicated mental patient.)
Lisa Di Valentino
Department of Philosophy
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
The definition of a physical illness depends on the illness, but every type of illness except mental illness has a biological cause. You are of course free to assume physical causes of mental illness will one day be found, but this is speculation rather than science. Does it makes sense to believe in an illness you can't prove exists? Why not similarly believe, on faith, in spirit posession or astrology? I think the likelihood of finding a physical cause of a mental illness is similar to the the likelihood of finding an electronic cause of a bad television program - or of a poorly designed computer program. Furthermore, if a physical cause of a "mental" illness were found, the illness would cease to be definable as "mental," since mental means non-physical. We continue to use the term "mental illness" to justify the use of force against people whose behavior annoys us because the vague nature of the term makes it difficult or impossible to disprove. More specific terms like brain disease can be disproved, making them less useful as rationalizations for imprisonment or suppression of annoying but law-abiding people. Manufacturers of psychiatric drugs spend millions of dollars on questionable, manipulated "research" and on misleading advertising to promote vague biological theories of so-called mental illness for the purpose of justifing the use of the drugs they sell. That is good for the executives and stockholders of the drug company, but it is bad for you, the patient. The physical nature of cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS makes them distinguishable from all mental illnesses, none of which have known physical correlates. (The Merck Manual (16th ed., 1992, p. 1512), defines Lou Gehrig's disease or amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as "Motor neuron disease of unknown cause characterized by progressive degeneration of corticospinal tracts and/or anterior horn cell and or bulbar motor nuclei.") Physical effects of emotional distress like losing weight if you don't eat, or gastrointestinal discomfort or high blood pressure because of anxiety, don't make the emotions that cause these conditions definable as diseases even if the conditions they cause are. Most so-called mental illnesses have no biological manifestations. They consist only of behavior. While psychiatrists can suppress disliked behavior (a.k.a., "mental illness") with brain-disabling drugs, ECT, or psychosurgery, none of these are either a bona-fide treatment nor a cure: Such "treatments" eliminate normal, desirable behavior as much as bad behavior. Yes, as William Glasser, M.D., has illustrated in books like Reality Therapy: A New Approach to Psychiatry (Harper & Row, New York: 1965), the so- called mentally ill are reacting to unfavorable circumstances in their lives. As Dr. Glasser puts it: "...regardless of how he expresses his problem, everyone who needs psychiatric treatment suffers from one basic inadequacy: he is unable to fulfill his needs" (p. 5-6). He means psychological needs. It's not accurate to say ulcers, acne, infertility, or heart disease result primarily from psychological factors; their causes are either mostly physical or are unknown. Psychiatry should be abolished as a medical specialty not only because it does harm, but because psychiatry does only harm - with the exception of friendly advice called "psychotherapy" that can be done as well or better by people who have no medical or psychological training. Regarding a definition of "illness" that applies to both physical and mental illness, see my reply to Dr. Samei Huda, (below): Anything you dislike, whether physical or mental, can be and often is defined as an illness or disease. The important issue is who gets to gets to decide whether something is an "illness" or "disease" - the patient or other people? Regarding your apparently good results from Paxil, I'll quote Peter R. Breggin, M.D., and David Cohen, Ph.D., in their book Your Drug May Be Your Problem, (as I have many times before): "...a sugar pill may produce emotional improvement in 60 to 90 percent of patients. This is the placebo effect - improvement that comes from a positive expectation or faith in the drug or the doctor rather than from any chemical impact of the substance" (page 96). Lisa, I believe you'll benefit if you slowly wean yourself off Paxil (and all other psychiatric drugs). Paxil is advertised as an antidepressant drug, not an anti-anxiety or anti-panic drug, but like most psychiatric drugs, it can be and often is used for almost all psychiatric "conditions." That every psychiatric drug is used for almost every conceivable psychiatric "illness" illustrates the fact that psychiatric drugs are not specific treatments for specific disorders.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster
Note: In the following letter, replies by webmaster Douglas A. Smith appear in indented italics.
Date: Wed, 03 May 00 15:37PM EDT
From: Lisa Di Valentino
To: Douglas Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: More Philosophical Musings...
Thanks for the quick response.
The first sentence of your reply had [has?] me confused: "The definition of a physical illness depends on the the illness, but every type of illness except mental illness has a biological cause." How can we talk about "illnesses" at all, if there is no common definition? How can one claim that "mental illnesses" are not illnesses, when we haven't a starting point? If you want to say that, by definition, illnesses are physical, then of course you would be correct to say that "mental" is opposed to "physical" and so illnesses cannot be mental. Otherwise, you would be begging the question. So we have a starting point: illnesses are physical (somethings).
Yes, Lisa, you are exactly correct: Once we admit that to be a bona-fide illness or disease, something must be physical, we have admitted there is and can be no such thing as a "mental" illness or a "mental" disease, since by definition, mental means non- physical. The term "mental illness" is internally contradictory.The next question is: physical whats? Your response implies that by nature, illnesses have a physical cause. However, when I claim that, for example, panic disorder and major depression have physical causes, you refute me by stating that such causes haven't been found yet, and so they don't exist. Yet, as I pointed out in my previous letter, there are more than a few "physical" illnesses whose causes have not been found; ALS for example.
Perhaps I should have said "every type of illness except so-called mental illness has a biological cause."
I think the physical nature of ALS is clear from the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy quotation I cited above. ALS is caused by, or at least for some reason is associated with, "progressive degeneration of corticospinal tracts and/or anterior horn cell and or bulbar motor nuclei." Nothing similar can be said for so-called mental illnesses such as "panic disorder" or "major depression": Biological testing shows the sufferers are, physically, completely normal.You write, "The physical nature of cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS makes them distinguishable from all mental illnesses, none of which have known physical correlates." Again, I am unclear on your use of the phrases "physical nature" and "physical correlates".
I think it is very obvious your examples, so-called panic disorder and so-called major depression, are psychologically (not biologically) caused. It amazes me someone as intelligent as you can't see this and instead assume these emotional states happen because of unknown biological malfunctions in the brains of the sufferers or something that affects the brain the exact nature of which we can only guess at. What's going on when you or anyone else has a panic attack?: Somewhere in the conscious or unconscious part of your mind you become fearful that something terrible is going to happen to you or to someone or something you care about deeply, or that something you very much want to happen isn't going to happen. Maybe some people are able to deal with the pain, the anxiety, by suppressing or repressing awareness of the threat - which despite this sometimes manages to be manifested in what you call a panic attack or panic disorder the cause of which you are not consciously aware of. According to psychoanalytic theory, the majority of mental functioning is unconscious. Maybe what you are so anxious about is thinking your husband is having an affair or that he's going to leave you. Maybe you're afraid the pain you occasionally feel in your abdomen is cancer. But instead of dealing with the real problem or problems, like dealing with your husband appropriately or seeing an oncologist or radiologist for an examination, you attribute your "panic attack" to an unknown brain disease and take a drug like Paxil that dulls your emotional reaction to these, perhaps, very real threats. Lisa, those emotions are telling you something important about your life. For your sake, you must heed what these emotions are telling you and deal with the problems as best you can. Turning off or attenuating the emotional warning signal by taking a brain-disabling drug like Paxil or any other psychiatric drug may be easier than improving your elationship with a loved one or making tough choices about your physical health. By imparing your brain's ability to think and feel emotions, the drug may even make you feel less anxious for awhile. But taking the drug not only won't help you deal effectively with life's very real and important problems. It is also counterproductive: Belief in unproven biological causation of "panic disorder" or any other so-called mental illness distracts you and other believers in mental illness from efforts to find real solutions.
I think it's been established that the loss of neurological function that characterizes ALS is caused by, or at least associated with, what the Merck Manual describes as "progressive degeneration of corticospinal tracts and/or anterior horn cell and or bulbar motor nuclei." Nothing of a physical nature can be found to be associated with any so- called mental illness (other than the brain damage caused by neuroleptic drugs, electroconvulsive "therapy" or psychosurgery, or the normal consequences of emotions such as anxiety, e.g., a faster heart beat and increased perspiration ).A panic attack (PA) certainly does manifest itself in physical signs and symptoms; a few of these are sweating, diarrhea, trembling, and increased blood pressure. Whether or not "most so-called mental illnesses have no biological manifestations" is of no consequence here; I have given you an example of a mental illness that does have biological manifestations, despite not having (as you claim) a known biological cause.The difference is these physical signs you describe (sweating, diarrhea, trembling, and increased blood pressure) are caused by psychological factors. In contrast, nobody claims the "progressive degeneration of corticospinal tracts and/or anterior horn cell and or bulbar motor nuclei" that characterize ALS are caused by psychological factors.You write, "It's not accurate to say ulcers, acne, infertility, or heart disease result primarily from psychological factors; their causes are either mostly physical or unknown." Here again, you admit that the causes are "unknown", but continue to regard them as "illnesses" or "diseases". By whose terms?
I say so because ulcers, acne, infertility, and heart disease are aspects of bodily function. So-called mental illnesses are not. So-called mental illness are aspects of thinking and behavior.If we do happen to find a biological cause for conditions such as panic disorder and major depression, should we abandon the label "mental illness"? I'm not so sure that would be necessary. At least, I think that emotional and cognitive factors should be acknowledged, alongside with (not in "competition" with) biological, genetic, and environmental factors.
Yes, if we were to find biological causes for so-called mental illnesses, such as panic disorder and major depression, we should abandon the label "mental illness." (For reasons I've stated, we should anyway.) I have no doubt if physical causes were found for so-called mental illnesses, we would cease to call them "mental" illnesses - even people like you would.In other words, the rift between the "mental illness is biological" crowd and the "no it's not" crowd is an exercise in futility. I hold that illness -- in general -- can only be defined (if at all) by taking into account both the physical and psychological-emotional state of the patient.
The reason the rift between those who claim so- called mental illness is biological and those who claim it is not is not an exercise in futility, as you assert, is the way you deal with it - biologically or psychologically - is completely different depending on which kind of problem you think you are dealing with. If you think your so-called major depressive disorder is caused by an unknown biological abnormality, you are likely to try one supposedly antidepressant drug after another hoping to find a drug that by some unknown means corrects the unidentified biological abnormality or "chemical imbalance" in your brain. This is of course what many so-called psychopharmacologist-psychiatrists do today. If you think the problem is psychological, e.g., caused by unmet emotional needs, instead of taking a drug in hopes of feeling better, you'll try to find ways to satisfy these needs, for example, by looking for a better job that will let you live a more affluent life, or spending time meeting and talking with people you are attracted to hoping you'll find love.
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 00 00:14AM MST
Why should you try to stop people from getting the help they need? Why should you deny that there is a difference between a normal brain chemistry and a depressed one? Why should you try to make patients and doctors feel ashamed of doing what they can to help cope with debilitating illness? I suffer from rapid-cycling manic depression, and the drugs help. A lot. I still feel emotions (for example, a big glob of rage and sadness as I look over your site), I can get to school every day and actually do something, I don't scream at people or hit them or break stuff so much, and I can talk to people. I never talked to people before Prozac. Which is more shameful, admitting you have a problem and are doing something about it, or not being able to explain exactly why you haven't left your house for a week? Psychotherapy may not be a cure, but it is a treatment that can help symptoms become less obstructive of one's life. I'm not sending this anonymously, I'm not ashamed of who I am, my name is Dave ____ and I receive psychiatric treatment.
Although you have invited me to include your full name, I've deleted your last name and am including only your first name. When you are out of school and applying for occupational licenses and/or jobs, you may find psychiatric stigma is more of a problem for you than it is now, particularly if you have been hospitalized.
You say: "Why should you try to stop people from getting the help they need?" We don't discourage people from getting genuine help; we just don't think psychiatry is helpful. We think that, with the possible exception of conversation ("psychotherapy"), psychiatric "treatment" is harmful and that, whatever your problem is, you are better off without it.
You ask: "Why should you deny that there is a difference between a normal brain chemistry and a depressed one?" That's easy: There is no convincing evidence for the alleged brain chemistry differences between normal and despondent or "depressed" people. Even if some were found, it would be as likely that the emotions caused the brain chemistry differences as the reverse.
You ask: "Why should you try to make patients and doctors feel ashamed of doing what they can to help cope with debilitating illness?" We don't try to make patients feel ashamed of anything, but about the doctors, you may as well ask: Why do you try to make doctors feel ashamed of administering permanently brain damaging drugs and electric shock treatments (or pretending their 'training' makes them better than other people to discuss life's problems with)?
Strong emotions may be "debilitating," but they are not "illnesses," and they should not be treated as such. As Dr. Thomas Szasz once said: Trying to get rid of a so-called mental illness by having a psychiatrist work on your brain is like trying to get cigarette commercials off television by having a TV repairman work on your TV set. Treating severe emotions or other counterproductive responses to life's problems as if they were illnesses (that is, as if they were biologically caused) is a misconceived, mistaken, and harmful approach. A doctor using the biological approach can get rid of a so-called mental illness only in the way a TV repairman can get rid of unwanted TV programming, that is, by inhibiting the functioning of your TV set, preventing receiving good as well as bad television programming. Similarly, the biologically oriented psychiatrist can get rid of or reduce "symptoms" of so-called mental illness only by inhibiting the function of your brain (with brain-disabling drugs or electric shock treatment), reducing not only your unpleasant emotions or behavior, but also your intelligence, enjoyable emotional responsiveness, spontaneity, and creativity. A better approach is to leave your brain function intact and change the life experience that is troubling you.
You say: "I suffer from rapid-cycling manic depression, and the drugs help. A lot. ... I can get to school every day and actually do something, I don't scream at people or hit them or break stuff so much, and I can talk to people. I never talked to people before Prozac." I believe your rapid-cycling manic-depression is psychological, not biological. Perhaps your "manic" phase is just when you are trying furiously to overcome obstacles you face in life, and your "depressed" phase is just when you get despondent about not progressing as fast as you wanted. I can believe psychiatric drugs make you less likely to scream at or hit people or break things, because most of them will make you less likely to do much of anything, including think clearly.
You say you never talked to people before you took Prozac? Come on, now. Of course you did.
I support the right to commit suicide, and for similar reasons I support your right to take neurotoxic psychiatric drugs (or do anything else you want) so long as you are not jeopardizing the safety of nor infringing on the rights of others. I think the benefit you are getting from Prozac and whatever other psychiatric drugs you take is only a placebo effect, however, and that you will benefit if you stop taking psychiatric drugs (tapering off gradually over a period of time). If you don't have a good friend to talk with, "psychotherapy" might have some value, although a good friend is probably better. I hope you'll give everything on our Antipsychiatry Coalition website a careful reading (rather than just "look over" the website as you said in your letter), and if you do, I hope what you read will open your eyes to the misleading pro-psychiatry propaganda you are accepting as true.
Good luck, Dave.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 99 20:28PM MST
From: "T.& K."
Subject: your web page and my response
To Whom it May Concern:
I have perused the material on your web site. I have examined your arguments and tried to make sense of the pseudoscientific jargon contained therein (although I have serious reservations regarding the credentials of the "scientists and doctors" cited).
I would just like to say this. I have been diagnosed with major depression since 1993. I have been under treatment almost continually since 1993 as well. Your contention that illnesses such as mine are "not real" offends me so badly that it is quite difficult to write this without using copious amounts of profanity. To suggest that my illness is not real or valid and that therefore I must subconsciously be doing this to myself is an unbelievable affront to myself and others like me. How dare you trivialize and belittle an illness which has signifigantly changed and diminished the quality of my life. How dare you suggest that I suffer from a figment of my imagination. You can trot out all the fringe scientists you need to support your ludicrous suppositions, but it doesn't make the shit you are shoveling smell any better. The weight of the entire medical community is against you, and so are people like myself. God only knows how many people who could have received treatment and gotten better have followed you down your primrose path and continued to suffer needlessly. You are harming people. ... You are contemptible charlatans who would be better off peddling snake oil on some late night infomercial on some forgotten dusty cable channel. To wit: f___ you.
[signed]A Very Pissed Off Depression Sufferer
You are probably very sincere and completely serious, but your perceptions are so far from the truth and your choice of words entertaining enough that to me it almost seems you are trying to be tongue-in-cheek.
If you are a clear thinker and have an open mind and if you'll take the time to read "Does Mental Illness Exist?" and "The Myth of Biological Depression", I think you'll see we are correct when we say mental illness including biologically caused depression does not exist. This doesn't mean it's your "fault." It just means life experience, not biological abnormality, is the reason for your despondency. I feel bad about your being so thoroughly deceived by psychiatry's false claims, and I hope you'll take the time to carefully examine our point of view - for your own sake.
I thought of your assertion the physicians and others cited in articles appearing on this web site are "fringe scientists" when I recently re-read "Does Mental Illness Exist?", the first in attorney Lawrence Steven's series of articles that appears here. The first of the "fringe scientists" cited therein are psychiatrist Donald W. Goodwin, M.D., Seymour S. Kety, M.D., who is Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Steven Matthysse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School, a panel of experts assembled by the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, and Columbia University psychiatry professors Jack M. Gorman, M.D. and Jerrold S. Maxmen, M.D. Not all of the people cited in Mr. Steven's articles teach psychiatry at Harvard or Columbia, but most are qualified professionals in their fields.
As for your assertion that we are hurting people by dissuading them from accepting the supposed therapies of biological psychiatry, you of course again have it backwards. Your own experience verifies this: You say you've been getting "treatment" for "depression" since 1993. It's now December 1999, six years later. Why weren't you "cured" in those six years?: because psychiatry has no effective "treatment" for the despondency you call your "illness." Psychiatry's so-called treatments for depression - "antidepressant" drugs and electric shock "therapy" - only worsen people's lives. Regarding supposedly antidepressant drugs, see the book review I wrote of Breggin & Cohen's book, Your Drug May Be Your Problem, or better yet, go buy the book. If you are taking a psychiatric drug, your drug may be your problem (or one of them), and the drug or drugs you take are probably an important reason you're still feeling depressed after six years. Psychiatry's supposedly antidepressant drugs alter your brain chemistry in harmful ways. They cause you to feel emotionally depressed. To feel better you must stop taking them. As a button I bought from another antipsychiatry activist says: "Recovery begins with non-compliance." Psychiatrist Douglas C. Smith of Juneau, Alaska, who opposes the use of psychiatric drugs and who specializes in undoing the harm done by other psychiatrists, said it well in a speech he gave at the NARPA Conference in Louisville, Kentucky on November 21, 1999: He said it is a great pleasure for him to "take people off their medicine and watch them come alive."
If your primary "treatment" has been so-called psychotherapy, read "The Case Against Psychotherapy" or my book review of Therapy's Delusions, which is a book that convincingly undermines the idea that "psychotherapy" helps people.
Dissuading people from accepting psychiatry's useless or harmful "therapies" is a public service.
Unhappiness, however severe, is not a disease, and it therefore cannot be "treated." The only effective way to deal with it is to figure out what you want in life and do your best to make it happen. For your sake I hope one day you will realize this. Good luck.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster
Wed, 22 Sep 99 18:07PM MDT
I can appreciate irresponsible psychiatrists, but you people really scare the shit out of me. Had it not been for the antidepressants I'm on, I would be dead. What do you say about the success stories? . . . how can something that benefits you be abolished?
Trying to be rational,
I'll answer with a quotation from a book published in 1999 by Peter R. Breggin, M.D., and David Cohen, Ph.D., titled Your Drug May Be Your Problem, page 96: "...a sugar pill may produce emotional improvement in 60 to 90 percent of patients. This is the placebo effect - improvement that comes from a positive expectation or faith in the drug or the doctor rather than from any chemical impact of the substance." Regarding your belief that you would be dead without antidepressants, I'll quote what Drs. Breggin & Cohen say on page 192 of this same book: "Therapists, like the general public, have been bombarded with prodrug propaganda. ... Therapists have been led to believe that antidepressant drugs can help to prevent suicide. Few of them realize that there is no convincing evidence that any psychiatric drug can reduce the suicide rate, but that there is evidence that many drugs, including antidepressants, increase the suicide rate [italics in original, underline added]."
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 14:50:35 PST
After going thru some of the articles on your website I have a couple of simple questions for you. You are suggesting that BOTH psychiatric drugs (which are sometimes used irrationally or inappropriately) AND psychotherapy, which by the way I agree is usually (though not always) of limited benefit. What then would you suggest should a person do in the following situations:
1. A 57 year old married woman whose children have left home tries to kill herself because her husband (she feels) neglects her. She can't sleep, has no appetite, no energy and constantly thinks about suicide. What should she do? What should her family?
2. A 21 year old white college student becomes convinced that Madeleine Albright is trying to kill her and Al Gore has a crush on her. She hears Gore's voice in her head conversing with the devil's telling her she's a sinner and will go to hell. She sees blood on her drapes and sees ghosts in her car. What should she do? Her family?
3. A 38 year old man washes his hands 200 times a day, can't go to bed until 3 am because he has to check the doors and stove repeatedly and has lost his job because he thinks the office is contaminated with germs. What should he do?
These by the way, are composites of actual psychiatric patients. Should these people be "convinced" they're not really sick? Jailed? Shot? Exiled to some remote island? What do you think are solutions to the problems of suffering, drug use, emotional pain. Please post this on your website along with your reply. The feeling I got from your site was that like most people with extreme opinions, you see all the problems but no solutions. Am I wrong? I would very much like to see your reply.
I'm sure many other readers of this web site have had thoughts similar to yours. While I have my own common sense ideas about how I would try to help people like those you describe, I do not think being able to devise solutions for the problems of troubled people is a prerequisite to criticizing the harm now inflicted on them in the name of help. Part of a physician's oath is to first do no harm. A general answer to your question about how to help troubled or irrational people is don't add brain damage or a lifetime of psychiatric stigma to their problems. My general answer to family members of troubled, irrational, or obnoxious people such as those you describe is: You have a right to disassociate yourself from any adult in your family whose behavior you dislike or consider unacceptable, but morally you do not have a right to use or authorize the use of force against them even if the law gives you a means of doing this.
A complete answer to your questions about how to truly help people with problems or irrational thinking such as those in your examples would fill a textbook. What follows is a brief outline of what I'd do if I decided to advise them:
I'd in so many words tell the 57 year old suicidal woman with an "empty nest" (grown children having left home) and a neglectful husband (if you'll forgive the seemingly flippant response) to get a life! I'd ask her to think about what she has enjoyed in life or thinks she would enjoy, and in so many words I'd encourage her to "go for it!" That might include telling her about a woman I know who became a bride at the age of 78. If she seemed to have low self- esteem (which sometimes seems ubiquitous), I'd explain my philosophy that I think shows why low self-esteem is always based on irrational thinking.
I'd counter the irrational thinking of your second and third examples with evidence of what really is. For example, I'd ask the 21 year old college student if she's ever met Al Gore and explain to the man who washes his hands 200 times a day what's known about the ability of intact skin and the human immune system to protect us from germs. I'd educate him about the real risk of encountering pathogens that can overcome a human body's defenses. In small steps I'd encourage him to do things he irrationally fears (which is sometimes called "behavior therapy.") Sometimes irrational beliefs and irrational phobias fade away when subjected to a carefully administered dose of reality, and sometimes they don't. If I couldn't help, and if the people involved were not performing behavior that is prohibited by law in specific and understandable terms, I'd leave them alone.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master
29 Dec 1998
I agree with most of your efforts, but your claim that psychotherapists are no better than anyone else in listening to your problems is too much. Yes, most psychotherapists are worse than a caring friend. Yes most of what they learn is drivel. But there are some valuable tools taught therapists in the humanistic tradition. They are regard, listening, empathy and nondefensiveness. Most therapists twist these abilities with their inauthenticity and manipulativeness. But any caring friend who wants to be supportive to people in their lives would benefit from learning empathy, listening, regard and nondefensiveness. Many people do it naturally, but some learning can be helpful.
Rather than discredit yourself with one-sided overgeneralizations to fit your picture of therapists as completely useless, why not acknowledge some validity to some therapy techniques and then try to encourage them to be taken out of professional contexts and used by everyone? Any caring friend who tries to help others is going to come up with refined approaches which should be demystified and deprofessionalized. Therapy is a sham and a priesthood in part because it mystifies listening, nondefensiveness, regard and empathy. Anyone can learn these focused abilities in an afternoon, just as anyone can learn the medical doctor's attitude of confident control of the situation. But that doesn't take away from the reality that they are today taught to and used by some therapists.
I think your letter underscores rather than refutes the arguments made by Lawrence Stevens in his pamphlet "The Case Against Psychotherapy" (appearing on this web-site), wherein he argues so-called psychotherapists are usually not as good as a good friend for helping you figure out how best to deal with the problems you encounter in life.
Douglas A. Smith
Wed., 28 Oct 1998
You are most certainly entitled to your opinion, but I would like to correct one of the facts reported on your page. In the pamphlet "The Myth of Biological Depression," it is stated that clinical depression has biological causation. Some psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists do believe that this is the sole causation of depression, but that is not true of most. While it is often believed that some people are biologically predisposed to depression, the actual cause is usually a life experience. If biological treatments can ease the mental pain of a depressed person, you should not take that right away from them, just as suicide should be legal.
Judging from his "@mtholyoke.edu" e-mail address, the writer is probably a professor or student at Mt. Holyoke College.
20 Dec 1998
Subject: ignorance or stupidity - or both
I did not have to get beyond the first paragraph of the first article before asking this question of the author, a fellow attorney. Any first hand experience the author has had apparently was not real clinical depression or bipolar disorder. The author probably had the blues from some normal life event and only thought it was, for example, depression.
To the extent that he raises a valid issue it would be that medical school should focus on psychopharmacology and ignore psychotherapy. If anything should be abolished it is psychology and mental health counseling.
Clinical depression is real. It can be confirmed by tests such as the PET Scan. (Insurers reject the PET Scan because if they accepted it they would end up providing coverage for depression and other illnesses under major medical provisions of their policies.) It can only be treated with medication if it is severe, and particularly when it is severe and refractory in nature.
I have defended people before a Board of Mental Health, been the chairperson of a Board of Mental Health, and suffered from a severe clinical depression that was refractory in nature and that could be relieved only through polypharmacy by a very knowledgeable and experienced [specialist] in psychopharmacology.
Depression is out there and it is chemical in nature. The problem is that too many people, including the various professionals, confuse depression with the blues. Those with the blues should see the talk therapists, and those with real depression need to see psychiatrists who are versed in psychopharmacology.
A major concern I have about this site is that it does nothing but promote the already dangerous ignorance of society as a whole, and consequently society's stigma against those suffering brain chemistry disorders which have nothing to do with one's mental capacity as is suggested by the label "mental illness." It is unfortunate that this site does not focus on education and knowledge rather than ignorance.
Attorney at Law
Although you included your first and last name in your correspondence, until you tell me it's okay to do otherwise I'll include only your initials in keeping with my usual practice of using only initials (or only a first name) when the writer indicates he or she is a current or former psychiatric patient. Psychiatric stigma is a problem you and I and every other former psychiatric patient live with every day. Although our opinions of psychiatry are exactly opposite, I speak to you as one former psychiatric "patient" to another.
For your sake, I hope you will, with an open mind, re-examine your dogmatic belief in biological causation of your despondency. There is no convincing scientific support for belief in biological or chemical causation of unhappiness or depression, however severe. As psychiatrist David Kaiser said in 1996 in his essay Commentary: Against Biologic Psychiatry (appearing on this web site): "For example the illness major depression is defined by its set of specific symptoms. The underlying cause is presumed to be a biologic/genetic disturbance, even though this has never been proven in the case of depression. The errors in logic here are clear. A set of symptoms is given a name such as major depression, which defines it as an illness, which is then treated with a medication, despite the fact that the underlying cause of the symptoms remains completely unknown and essentially untreated." (underline added). If you don't understand the psychological reasons for feelings such as severe depression, you may be inclined to assume there is a "chemical problem" in your brain. However, once you understand from a psychological perspective why you feel as you do, the wrongness of the biological or chemical explanations becomes obvious. Since no "endogenous," physical, or biological cause of unhappiness or "depression" has ever been proved to exist, the only reasonable way to deal with unhappiness or so-called depression is to assume some aspect of your life is causing it. In his article "The Myth of Biological Depression," Lawrence Stevens pointed out that, according to psychoanalytic theory, most mental functioning is unconscious. Let me offer a few suggestions to help you introspectively access some of the unconscious content of your mind that may influence your mood in undesirable ways: A general approach is to sit in a dark room, or on a hilltop, alone, and think or say aloud whatever comes to your mind. While this may work, you may find yourself digressing onto topics having nothing to do with your sad mood. A more specific approach is to think or say aloud to yourself the word: "bad". What comes into your mind? Maybe what will come to your mind will be "the Republican Party" or "the national debt" or something else that probably has nothing to do with your unhappiness; but maybe instead what will pop into your mind is "my job," or the name of someone you live with, or even "me!" Whatever you find yourself associating with the word "bad" may tell you a lot about yourself, about the life you are living, and about what you need to do to live a happier life. The same is true of what you associate with the word "good." You can also think of things that are of obvious importance in your life, such as your spouse, your love or sex life, your job, your house or apartment, your budget, or your health, and think or say aloud all of the adjectives that come to your mind when you do. This may make clearer what feelings you associate with these things, if it isn't already apparent. If you live with a bad situation long enough you might stop thinking about it and stop realizing how unhappy or "depressed" it is causing you to feel. You may even manage to keep it out of your mind for a time, but the unhappiness will almost always resurface eventually. After you have figured out what is causing your unhappy or "depressed" mood, do some planning and working at moving yourself closer to the kind of life that will make you happier.
You say you've had success with "polypharmacy." That's a cute word for taking two or more drugs simultaneously. It's been said: A common cold will cure itself within 10 days without treatment; therefore, a shot of penicillin will cure a common cold in 10 days. The "action" of so-called antidepressant drugs is similar. The reason so-called antidepressant drugs cause so-called "side-effects" immediately, but don't provide an immediate antidepressant effect is, in the words of psychiatrist Peter Breggin in his book Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain: "The most fundamental point to be made about the most frequently used major antidepressants is that they have no specifically antidepressant effect. Like the major tranquilizers to which they are so closely related, they are highly neurotoxic and brain disabling, and achieve their impact through the disruption of normal brain function. ... Only the 'clinical opinion' of drug advocates supports any antidepressant effect" of so-called antidepressant drugs (Springer Pub. Co., pp. 160 & 184, 1983, and cited in Lawrence Stevens' pamphlet "Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery," appearing on this web site). I've read a few articles indicating the newer so-called antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, are no more effective than the older so-called antidepressants (tricyclics and MAOIs)
I disagree with your assertion that depression can be diagnosed with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans. As Lawrence Stevens pointed out in his article, "The Myth of Biological Depression," (appearing on this web site): "At least one brain-scan study (using positron emission tomography or PET scans) found that simply asking normal people to imagine or recall a situation that would make them feel very sad resulted in significant changes in blood flow in the brain (Jose V. Pardo, M.D., Ph.D., et al., "Neural Correlates of Self-Induced Dysphoria", American Journal of Psychiatry, May 1993, p. 713)." Since it has been established that emotions cause biological changes in the brain, it makes no sense to point to these changes can say they caused the emotions. I think health insurance companies are on solid ground if they are rejecting bio-psychiatric theories of depression based on PET scans.
And I think the only solution for you, R.J., is to stop taking various psychiatric drugs (what you call "polypharmacy") and introspectively figure out what in your life is responsible for the feelings you call clinical depression. The first step towards solving any problem is identifying the problem. Until you overcome your unfounded belief in biological theories of depression and your unfounded belief in biological psychiatry, you can't even get started in the right direction, that is, can't even get moving towards a bona-fide solution. Good luck, R.J.
Douglas A. Smith
2 Nov 1998
Subject: antipsychiatry webpage
I enjoyed reading your webpage. I felt there were several errors (but then I would!):
1. All illness including "physical" is socially defined. Having a "cold" is a "normal" experience but it is regarded as an illness because of the suffering involved.
2. You make the false "mind-body" dualism division.
3. There is a very selective reading (and quoting) of the evidence, largely ignoring what doesn't agree with your viewpoint. However nobody is impartial and we are all "guilty" of editorializing.
I could go on but it would be tedious.
Have you read RD Lang, he has some excellent insights?
What's your position on people with "personality disorders"? In the UK some groups (not psychiatrists) are calling for these people to be compulsorily detained in case they commit an offense even though these people are not regarded by the profession as being "ill" or being responsive to treatment.
Anyway that's enough. Bye bye from rainy Manchester.
Dr. Samei Huda
Dear Dr. Huda:
Since you prefix your name with "Dr." and have "@psy" and "nhs.uk" in your e-mail address and say you're in Manchester (a large city in England), I assume you are a physician or a psychologist with a doctorate degree working in the National Health Service of the United Kingdom.
A full response to your letter would require a dissertation. I'll try to keep this brief, but I can't promise I'll succeed:
(1) The assertion there can be an "illness" or "disease" with no biological or physical cause is hard to support. I think it's fair to say that without a biological cause, there can be no disease. By this definition, mental "illness" has not been shown to exist, because, as psychiatrist David Kaiser said two years ago in 1996 in an article now appearing on this web-site: "modern psychiatry has yet to convincingly prove the genetic/biologic cause of any single mental illness."
That said, however, I think you've made a valuable and valid point when you say "all illness including physical is 'socially' defined." A few years ago this perhaps silly example occurred to me: Suppose there were some viral or bacterial infection or other biological condition which had only one effect: Once infected with this "disease" (?), the infected person grew to six feet in height (if he or she were not already that tall). To this condition we will give the name Tallness Disease. Most men would like to be six feet tall, so to most men Tallness Disease wouldn't qualify as a disease. On the other hand, how would most women feel about shooting up to six feet in height? For a woman a height of six feet would be disadvantageous. So if a woman were to be infected with Tallness Disease, she probably would want the disease promptly arrested or cured before she got too tall. So is Tallness Disease a disease or not a disease? It depends on your values. It depends on whether you like it or dislike it. It having a biological cause and being abnormal are not enough to make it a "disease."
Recognition of this forces us, logically, to decide whose values should be determinative when deciding whether an abnormal biological condition qualifies as a "disease" that should be treated: those of the person whose (supposed) health is at issue? "Society's?" The affected person's relatives? A doctor's, social worker's, or judge's? My opinion is that in the area of so-called mental health (as well as physical health) the so-called mentally ill person's values should be determinative except to the extent his or her behavior violates the rights of others. (I disagree with laws that criminalize or "mental-illness-ize" behavior that does not violate the rights of others.) If I were to get Tallness Disease (and I truly wish there were such a "disease" and that I could get it), and you're a physician, what gives you the right to cure my disease just because it is biologically caused and is abnormal if I'm perfectly happy with it, and it doesn't cause me to violate the rights of others in any way?
Let's take another example some will find amusing: Suppose I'm what some consider "psychotic" and hallucinate vividly and frequently but thoroughly enjoy my hallucinations? Perhaps such a person may be defined as "ill" by others, but should that matter? If I'm a "psychotic" person who thoroughly enjoys hallucinating and never violate the law or harm anyone in any way however much I hallucinate, what gives you as a physician or as a psychologist in the UK National Health Service (or anyone else) the right, morally, to cure me of my "disease" thereby depriving me of the hallucinations I enjoy so much? It's my life, isn't it?
I've never had a hallucination (that I know of) or a delusion (other than when I was deluded by my public school education into believing that the USA is a human rights respecting nation), but I have experienced deep sadness - what some consider a disease named "depression." However awful I have felt, I think my sadness is or was important and meaningful because it tells or told me there is or was a problem in my life that needs or needed to be addressed, and I also think my capacity for sadness and joy are the same and that my capacity for sadness can't be "controlled" without simultaneously "controlling" my capacity for happiness. I like my emotional sensitivity even if because of it I am sometimes so sad others think there is something seriously wrong with me. So I don't want it changed or "cured" or "treated" (particularly not with psychiatry's brain-numbing "antidepressant" drugs or brain-damaging treatments such as neuroleptic drugs or electroshock so often falsely touted as effective treatments for "depression").
So, Dr. Huda, I think "disease" isn't or at least shouldn't be "socially" defined: I think "disease" can and should be defined as such only by the patient. And I think no one is obligated to conform to others' idea of "normality" or "rationality." A person's only obligation is to respect the rights of others.
(2) After giving it some thought, I think mind-body dualism is valid: Suppose you have some kind of unpleasant psychological reaction because of a traumatic life event - what's been called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If it were possible to transfer all your memories from the brain you were born with into another brain (entirely supplanting the memories that were previously stored in that new brain), not only would the new brain now be the real you, but you, now occupying a new brain, would still suffer from PTSD because of your memory of the traumatic event that you experienced when you occupied the other body and brain! The same would be true if you suffered from "chronic free-floating anxiety" because of a series of upsetting events you experienced when you were occupying your previous body and brain or if you suffered from chronic low self- esteem leading to a lifelong feeling of inadequacy and sadness because of early childhood experiences or whatever. Of course a case can also be made for how biology, not just experience, affects thinking and behavior - for example, a man with an unusually high level of testosterone. But what we call "the mind" consists not only of the thinking ability our cerebral and other biological "hardware" provide but at least equally of memory - and that comes from experience.
(3) Regarding the selective reading and quoting of the evidence against psychiatry by the writers whose articles appear on this web site: Yes, you are entirely correct. This web-site presents the case against psychiatry. Likewise, you won't find the case against psychiatry anywhere in DSM-IV nor other publications of the American Psychiatric Association nor in the writings of most mental health professionals - nor will you find the case against psychiatry in the full-page, even full double and triple page magazine advertisements by pharmaceutical manufacturers who make billions of dollars a year from selling psychiatric drugs. However, I do think the writings on this web-site present the case against psychiatry accurately and fairly. With the possible exception of letters from readers presenting opposing viewpoints, I don't think anything published on this web site distorts the truth or misleads anyone.
I've read very little of R.D. Lang's writings, although I liked some prose he included in his book Knots.
I think people with "personality disorders" (i.e., people whose personalities others strongly disapprove of) should be treated exactly the same as people without "personality disorders": If they obey the law, they're entitled to their liberty. If they violate the law, they should be treated as the law provides. Future human conduct can not be predicted with anything even close to what could be called accuracy, and nobody can prove he or she isn't going to do something bad tomorrow or next month or next year. So it is unfair to incarcerate anyone solely on the basis of predicted future conduct (or on the basis of "mental illness" and predicted future conduct).
Douglas A. Smith
10 Nov 1998
I am considering quitting therapy and am quite disillusioned with it, so I do not find what you publish to be distasteful. I would suggest however using some more recent sources in your arguments. It makes more of an impression on people like me, who are very suspicious of most things found on the Web. Most of your references were about 10 years old, and in science, that's ancient history.
I hope the articles on our web site, in addition to your first-hand experience, do persuade you to extricate yourself from psychiatric or psychological "treatment." I'm not surprised your experience has caused you to be disillusioned.
Many of the references in the articles appearing on this web site are from sources published in the 1990s. I haven't counted and don't know if most are older than that. In any case, I think the articles on this web-site present the case against psychiatry accurately and convincingly and haven't lost validity because of changes occurring in psychiatry since they were first published, despite the subsequent introduction of some new psychiatric drugs. ECT is administered the same way it was when "Psychiatry's Electroconvulsive Shock Treatment: A Crime Against Humanity" was published, and most if not all of the drugs referred to in "Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery?" are still in use. I'm not aware of any changes in so-called psychotherapy since the publication of "The Case Against Psychotherapy." I first read the oldest article on this web-site, "Mental Patients' Liberation: Why? How?" in 1972, and as I listen to those who have become victims of psychiatry very recently relate their experiences, that article seems as true today - 26 years later - as it did when I first read it in 1972.
However, your letter has motivated me to add some new material to this web site. This includes Dr. David Kaiser's article "Commentary: Against Biologic Psychiatry" published in December 1996 (two years ago), the Antipsychiatry News Clips section (recent news stories in major news media), and updates I've been adding at the end of Mr. Stevens' articles showing that his arguments against psychiatry have not been undermined by recent developments.
Thanks for writing.
Douglas A. Smith
24 Sep 1998
Hahaha. This site is so ridiculous that it makes me laugh. I am mentally ill. No, I was not convinced of that. Do you hallucinate? Do you hear voices? Do you get moods that are extreme? Ever talk to fish and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt they were going to take over the world? Have you ever taken LSD? If a drug can induce hallucinations and bizarre behavior, why can't the mind do it when it is not right? No one knows what causes these disorders, but they are real. We just don't have the evidence. Lack of evidence does not make it not so. People are murdered every day: Just because they can't find the evidence to prove a man did it doesn't mean he didn't do it. The brain is so complex. Seizures are a puzzle to doctors. There are disorders of the brain. Simple as that. I do not believe that everyone who has been diagnosed with a disorder really has a disorder. Yes, there are behaviors that are just not acceptable to society, and they are diagnosed with personality disorders of various types. These are behaviors that can be helped with therapy. But I don't think they have a biological abnormality causing them. Oh, but maybe. All I know is medication helps me.
Psychotherapy works for me. Clarifies what I am thinking. It may not be any better than talking to a neighbor. But my neighbor will not sit there and listen to me and respond in a controlled manner. He guides me to reach a solution to my problems. He don't [sic] tell me what to do. Only asks questions. I pay him to help me sort out my problems so that I may resolve them. It works for me. Medication helps, too. Mental illness exists. Either that or hallucinations, delusions, extreme mood swings, incoherent talking, confusion, etc., is normal. Lets say it is normal - It disrupts someone's life so severely. Medication is a must. This site is so ridiculous I don't know why I bother writing.
Reply from Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master Douglas Smith:
Thanks for writing. Your letter illustrates the fact that there is debate among patients and former patients as well as among psychiatrists regarding whether or not mental illness exists. A few years ago I read a book titled The Reality of Mental Illness written by two physicians, probably psychiatry professors, probably in response to psychiatry professor Thomas Szasz's book The Myth of Mental Illness. The strongest argument the authors could muster in support of their assertion that mental illness is a reality rather than a myth is what you, Cindy, have also said: No one knows what causes these (so-called) disorders, and the fact that we don't have the evidence doesn't mean they aren't real. That's a weak argument. Yet voluntary or forced "medication," ECT, psychosurgery, psychiatric "hospitalization," exculpation of responsibility for criminal acts, and psychiatric stigma foisted upon those "diagnosed" with so-called mental illness, continues despite the fact that no one can prove mental illness actually exists.
The term mental illness is nonsensical. "Mental" means non-physical. Yet "illness" or "disease" is by definition physical. As Donald W. Goodwin, M.D., said in his book, Is Alcoholism Hereditary?", there is "a narrow definition of disease that requires the presence of a biological abnormality" (p. 61). So, as psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey said in his 1974 book The Death of Psychiatry, there can no more be a mental "disease" than there can be a purple idea or a wise space. The term "mentally ill" continues to be used despite its vague, internally inconsistent, and illogical nature because more specific terms such as "brain disease" can be more easily disproved if applied to any particular person.
If we lived in a society where belief in spirit possession was more widespread than it is, and some historical accounts say such a time once existed, abnormal behavior might be attributed to spirit possession, and you might say, much as you have in your letter, "Spirit possession exists. Either that or hallucinations, delusions, extreme mood swings, incoherent talking, confusion, etc., is normal." The existence of these abnormal ways of thinking, perceiving, or behaving do not prove the reality of either spirit possession or mental illness or anything else that might be postulated as the cause. Spirit possession and mental illness are myths that might be used to explain what to date remains unexplainable. To "treat" these so-called mental illnesses with drugs or other biological "treatments" such as electroshock without knowing the real causes is unscientific health care quackery. It is as senseless as and is more harmful than doing an exorcism to rid someone of supposed evil spirit possession.
You say medication helps you. That reminds me of an alcoholic I knew who said alcohol helped him - and another man who told me marijuana helped him. Brain-disabling drugs, including alcohol and nearly all psychiatric drugs, will reduce the functionality of your brain, reducing or eliminating just about everything that emanates from your brain, including unpleasant emotions, hallucinations, delusions, incoherent talking, and other unacceptable thoughts or behavior; but they will at the same time and to the same extent reduce or eliminate your pleasant emotions, clear thinking, ability to express yourself well, and effective efforts towards achieving your goals in life.
If you try, you can probably find a friend who will be as patient and helpful as your psychotherapist, and without the cost. You should try to do that. You and a friend could take turns listening to each other. You might also find writing your thoughts on paper or on your computer screen helps clarify them.
Cindy, this web site was created to help people exactly like you: those who haven't yet seen psychiatry as the foolishness it is (and people forced into "therapy" by others who believe in psychiatry). At one time my belief in mental illness was so ingrained it took probably about two years of reading books by authors like Thomas Szasz and Nicholas Kittrie before I understood how wrong the concept of mental illness and all that flows from it is. Keep reading and observing and thinking and eventually you'll see those of us who oppose psychiatry are right. You'll live a better and happier life if you get away from psychiatric "therapy," especially psychiatric drugs, and work hard at experiencing whatever it is you want in life.
Best regards, and good luck -
Douglas A. Smith
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Date: October 4, 2000
In January of this year, I was admitted to a local hospital's intensive care unit for a drug overdose. I tried to kill myself. When I awoke or regained consciousness during the night, I was alone and physically tied to the bed with leather straps. The restraints were so tight, my hands turned black and blue. ... I managed to free my right hand twice. Each time, three people, two men and a woman, would run into the room, jump on me and put me back in restraints pulling the straps even tighter. Each time, I would ask to speak to my husband, my psychologist or the hospital administrator. They wouldn't talk to me. I[t] was like I was a worthless reptile. I just wanted to know what was happening. I was afraid they were going to give me shock treatments against my will. (I'm terrified of shock treatments.) ... I wanted to know what they were going to do ... The last time they jumped me, I asked to speak to a lawyer and ... the one holding me down thrusting his hand through my shoulder (I thought he was going to break it. It was sore enough afterwards to be broken.) told me "I was nothing" and "I had no rights." ... I have since learned that I now have carpal tunnel syndrome. Two doctor's have stated that it was due to the improper use of the restraints if the straps were as tight as I have claimed. Also because I haven't worked for months before and after this incident and I didn't have the carpal tunnel before, it can only be from the tight restrains. ... I have discovered I have carpal tunnel syndrome and will have to wear these braces when I sleep for the rest of my life... The carpal tunnel has destroyed my sex life and the incident has increased my desire to die. I have since tried to kill myself two more times. ... my rights have been violated ... I can't stop thinking about what they did to me. ... The leather restraints wre hurting me and these people knew it. But they didn't care. They just didn't want to have to mess with me. ... I was forced to voluntarily commit myself after the suicide [attempt] ... I was told that if I didn't agree to go to a mental hospital they would hold me for three days and get a court order. I couldn't imagine laying in that bed strapped like I was for three days so I reluctantly volunteered to go ... I just played along smiling and pretending I felt better so they would release me. I was kept in that hospital for five days ... I didn't get better. I got worse. The [hospital] stay was of no benefit and actually made me more determined to die. ...
When I was incarcerated in the psychiatric ward of a hospital many years ago, I was threatened with electric shock treatments if I refused to sign a voluntary admission form. I refused, but if I'd been strapped down by the wrists and ankles and was told I would remain strapped there for days if I didn't sign a "voluntary" admission form as you were, I might have been coerced into "voluntarily" commiting myself the same way you were. It is sad the people who write and enforce the laws in our supposedly human rights respecting nation are uninformed or unconcerned about such things and do not stop it.
There's an article on our web site titled "Suicide: A Civil Right." I don't know how you went about your suicide attempts, but if you did it in private and in a way that did not jeopardize the physical safety of other people or their property, in my opinion you were well within your rights. However, your letter indicates you have made at least three suicide attempts. It's not hard to commit suicide if that's what you truly want to do. Because you keep "trying" and failing, I think what you did were suicidal gestures, that is, attempts to motivate other people to do something (most people would say manipulate other people into doing something) that you wanted them to do - not genuine attempts to die. Most people consider that an obnoxious way of trying to get what you want, and they retaliate with the kind of cruelty you experienced.
I've little doubt psychiatry did nothing to help you and has probably given you more reasons to feel like ending your life. If your injury to your wrists was caused by the use of restraints, I think you have a valid cause of action for malpractice. Actually, I think physical restraints are cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the 8th Amendment and that you have a valid cause of action under 42 USC 1983 (a federal law) if you were placed in physical restraints. I think they are very cruel. However, courts typically resort to twisted reasoning when necessary to avoid vindicating the constitutional rights of mental patients.
You can contact the lawyers listed on our web site. I suspect that to get a lawsuit filed you're going to need to be able and willing to pay several thousand dollars for lawyers fees and other costs. Justice in America exists almost exclusively for those who can afford to pay for it.
You may experience less anger by bringing your expectations in line with reality, namely, that America is not a human rights respecting nation. Your expectation that you actually have constitutional rights and that you will be treated fairly in America is an important element of your anger. Once you fully realize that people in this country routinely violate the human rights of others, and once you expect this, you will still be angry but not as angry as you are now. It is the same with the courts: When you expect judges to be lazy and dishonest as they too often are, you won't be as angry when you can't get a fair hearing in court.
It apparently isn't working, and I'd suggest you find another way than phoney suicide attempts to get the attention or whatever it is that you want from other people. Unless your day-to-day life is truly unbearable, put aside all thoughts of suicide. You'll be dead a long time: There's no need to hurry. Do what you can to get some pleasure out of every day. To be happy you need enough money to provide for your basic needs, safety from harm (such as from psychiatric violence), a sense of belongingness (or love), self-esteem, and things you enjoy doing. To attain a sense of self-esteem be sure you always keep your behavior within your own moral values, and try to be the traits you would admire in anyone. Make a list of the things you have done in your life of which you are most proud and spend some time thinking about those things.
Good luck, Pamela.
Douglas A. Smith
Pamela responded with a letter saying: "You are so right. Thanks for the advise. I've got to stop messing around and get serious."
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 99 10:13AM MSTM
Subject: Thank you!
Dear Anti-psychiatry Coalition people,
I can't tell you how much you've helped me.
I was hospitalized against my will, and for simply talking back, not even raising my tone of voice or swearing, and most certainly not threatening anyone, I was tortured for 16 hours by being placed in restraints.
Why aren't the use of restraints talked about more? It's been almost 3 years since this happened and I still have nightmares about the event.
Put me on your mailing list because I won't be on the Internet much longer.
My address is: ...
Thank you so much !!!
[name & address withheld]
It's been over 30 years since I was a prisoner of psychiatry, and I still experience what some describe as "post-traumatic stress syndrome" or "disorder" because of my memory of the experience, including repeatedly mentally reliving the event, pacing back and forth as I imagine different scenarios and think about different ways to deal with psychiatric assault, often wishing I could subject the perpetrators of these human rights violations to the punishment they deserve, and fearing I will again be a victim of arbitrary imprisonment and drug-induced torture. What I'm hearing from psychiatry's more recent victims, such as yourself, suggests to me that psychiatry has become even more cruel than it was in the 1960s. I never heard of anyone being put in physical restraints back then. I'm surprised you were put in physical restraints merely for "talking back" - which I assume was objecting to or complaining about the way you were (mis)treated, or expressing an opposing point of view - but maybe I shouldn't be.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 99 02:54AM MST
Subject: Charter Problems not reported in 60 [Minutes] II report
...I am a former Charter patient... restraining and quiet rooms were common practice at Fairbridge where most of the Psch techs and male nurses were the size of big club bouncers, for an adolescent unit where most patients were underweight and very small. In the patient rights it said that only physical aggression warranted "The Team" to restrain someone, but most inpatients were restrained for simply cussing someone out...
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 99 08:10AM MDT
Subject: Deaths of Children due to use of Restraints in so called "mental hospitals"
At least 142 children, have been killed while in American Psychiatric hospitals, by the use of restraints. In Connecticut recently the chest of a child age 11 was crushed, after being pounced upon, by two huge staff members. It is estimated that at least 6 times this number of adults, have been killed by the same method, while in American psychiatric hospitals. Connecticut Senators Lieberman, and Dodd, and Congressperson DeLauro requested an immediate investigation. The General Accounting Office has confirmed our fears, and even worse declared that the problem is out of control. It was found that the pejorative "diagnoses" and labels of psychiatry ("mental illness", "manic-depressive", and so on) had a contributing cause, in the abuse, within these settings. Staff members tended to get caught up their own negative jargon when dealing with patients. Yet this psycho-babble continues to be commonly used, to describe people, within the control of the psychiatric community. In fact this rhetoric is applauded by psycho-professionals. ... This system will never give up its disparaging attitutes about people without a fight. It is ingrained within the America spirit, it makes tremedous money, has great political influence, and uses its propaganda to divert facts into debates about half-truths and immaterial issues. ... We must always remember that these diagnoses are contrived, unscientific, unsubstantiated, unreliable rhetoric that allow this field to have a nebulous medical justification; however, at the same time this psycho-babble locks people into a life of stigma, ruins careers, marriages, respect and so on.
6 Oct 1998
I am a psychiatric nurse who has specialized in children and adolescents throughout my entire career. Like most of the people with whom I have worked, we realize what farce the "religion" of psychiatry has become. Several months ago an 11-year old child died on my unit (not my shift) during a restraint. The emotional cost to the staff of the hospital has been overwhelming. I, myself, have been on medical disability leave since June due to my reaction to this needless death. Finally, feeling a little better, I feel I must speak out. I have a manuscript (several years old) re adolescent psychiatry -- but the situation regarding this child's death must take top priority. Being a nurse -- not an investigative reporter -- I am looking for all the information I can regarding deaths of children in psychiatric facilities. I came across your web page and would like more information regarding your group. Additionally, my husband does travel to Central and Eastern Europe (particularly Hungary) very frequently, and assuming your philosophy is similar to mine, we could mail some of the pamphlets you mentioned on your web page. Thanks for any help.
Comment by Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master Douglas Smith:
Anyone wishing to communicate with Debbi about deaths of children in psychiatric facilities can write to her at Csepel@aol.com.
I think deaths of adults and cruel treatment of people that does not result in death should also be of concern. Cruel use of physical restraints and brain-damaging drugs in mental "hospitals" (and also in nursing homes for the elderly) in the U.S.A. exist in stark contrast to America's claim of being a human-rights respecting nation. One purpose of this web site is to try to make the U.S.A.'s practices consistent with the rhetoric about human rights we often hear from American presidents and other politicians.
There is a detailed and informative series of articles about deaths caused by cruel and irresponsible use of physical restraint in American psychiatric "hospitals" published in a Connecticut newspaper in October 1998 and currently on the Internet titled Deadly Restraint - A Nationwide Pattern of Death.
See Massachusetts Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee website for rules regarding use of physical restraints in Massachusetts.
Abuse in Mental Institutions - article about people being abused and killed by the use of physical restraints in mental hospitals.
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 00 12:36PM EDT
Subject: info on translating articles
Hi ... I'm writing to you because I would be interested in translating some articles from your web site into french and I wanted to know if people were already working on them or not. I figured I'd work on "how drug company money has corrupted psychiatry", "only you can cure yourself" and "why outpatient commitment laws change (almost) nothing". Unless there are articles which you would rather see translated first.
I've been researching antipsychiatry because, as a med student in Montreal, I have a mandatory two month externship to do in a psychiatry ward. My brief introduction to this "science" during the theoretical part of my course left me with a hell of a lot more questions and skepticism than before. I've also seen my younger brother being given ritalin for the last five years. It's already pretty clear that even in biological medicine, a lot of magic is performed. (Idiopathique, in french, is one of medicine's favorite words, it's basically a fancy scientific term which means "We ain't got a clue to what is the cause.") When this magic extends to controlling human thought and behavior, the consequences are even more tragic.
Thanks for making this information available.
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 00 18:42PM
Subject: Volenteer and Antipsychiatric-aktionist
Yes I join the the antipsychiatriycoalition. I am [first name] a Dutchman living in Germany. Expirienced the Dutch- and German Treatment in several so called Hospitals. I want to fight back, and help other people who are in the hands of mad biological psychiaters. I have some articles from Dutch- and German sources. You can send my pamplets etc. I bring this to hospitals, and psychiatric meetings. I also can translate articles into Dutch or German.
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 99 02:12AM MST
Subject: hello. please read.
I've been at your site for practically an hour now. Consider yourself bookmarked.
Here's my story: I'm a 16 year old girl who has just gotten out of a "psychiatric treatment center." I was in there for over 4 months because I was diagnosed with Borederline Personality disorder and Manic Depression. Borderline Personality Disorder is the biggest f__king joke I have heard of. All it is is a description of an immature teenager. Haha. I am also not Manic Depressive. The psych people there somehow managed to convince everyone that I was, including my parents. ("She has severe high and lows. And she's impulsive too!") They put me on lots of medication.
During the first 2 months of my stay at the hospital I refused to take it. My behavior, thinking, and stability were fine, but since I wasn't taking the medication I was "noncompliant and not ready for discharge." So I decided to cheek the medication. Just so I could get out of the damn place. They found out that I was cheeking it though. Of course.
I haven't been discharged yet. I won't be. Ever. Instead my parents have decided to sign me out of the place AMA [against medical advice]. They have finally realized I do not need to be in that place, nor did I ever.
Perfectly normal people are kept in treatment centers. Perfectly normal teenagers. Nobody was crazy there. Not even one person. They were just teenagers with divorced parents. Or teenagers who did a few drugs. Or teenagers who got suspended from school. Suddenly we were all Borderlines, Schizophrenics, and Manic Depressives who "needed" long term hospitalization. We also "needed" medication. They put us on heavy doses of anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, anti-whatevers. I was the only patient who didn't take the medication. I will never take psychiatric medication. I've tried it before. It does nothing except for turn me into a zombie. It dulls me out. Makes it so I can't think straight. Everyone else took it though.
It's sick that people are becoming products of psychiatry. Especially young people. 7 year olds are on Ritalin. 13 year olds are on Prozac and Zoloft. It makes me beyond sick. I would love to do anything to help out with your cause. My address is: [witheld] Florida. Send me fliers, whatever. I will gladly pass them out. I'm at your service.
Thanks for reading,
4 June 1998
I'd be very interested in volunteering to distribute your material. I have already converted 6 of the "Lawrence Stevens" articles back into pamphlet form and have been distributing them free already through my website www.cjnetworks.com/~cgrandy/chesm and about town personally. These articles are some of my favorite reading and are also linked from my other website: The Antipsychiatry Reading Room. ... I'd be happy to assist!
Comment by Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master Douglas Smith: Cal's website, "The Antipsychiatry Reading Room," is among the best anti-psychiatry sites on the Internet and is now linked from the main page of our web site.
25 March 1998
I am very interested in helping your organization. I am living in Australia and I would like to know if you still need volunteers to distribute flyers here. I am not affiliated with any church and am interested in assisting as I have lost many family members and friends to psychiatry. Please let me know what I can do.
Mon, 09 Nov 1998
... I would very much like to have an ad placed in some Australian papers ... I am going to get my own Post Office box soon so I will give you the address for that if you like and I would be more than willing to use that as a mailing address for sending pamphlets to interested parties. Generally speaking, I am very enthusiastic about getting the coalition up and running here in Australia. It is most certainly needed.
Comment by Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master Douglas Smith: Let's all wish Tania luck in starting a chapter of The Antipsychiatry Coalition in Australia.
To: "Douglas Smith"
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
Thank you for your response. No, I do not have anything to do with the Church of Scientology. I have been more impressed with Attorney Lawrence Stevens' writings as it seems to be more applicable in my case. ... Since Steven's writings are not copyrited, I have already made some copies and distributed them. I am so infuriated with what has happened to me, please tell me how can I help you.
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 99 15:31 PM MST
Subject: helping to spread the word
I was just able to visit your site briefly (as I don't have internet, only e-mail) and saw you are looking for people to help send out pamphlets. Nothing I'd like to do more.
... Also, I am an (unemployed) translator by profession, and am fluent in Dutch and Hebrew as well as in English, so would be happy to help translate to those languages if you don't have someone already. ...
Thanks for being brave enough to tell the truth and industrious enough to act upon it.
When asked for "a brief statement of the reasons for your interest in helping us spread our antipsychiatry message," M.H. sent us this reply:
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 99 13:53 MST
To: Douglas Smith
... I've always been against psychologists because they have too much power to decide things about people's lives on the basis of unproven theories, prejudice, and downright bull. I never gave much thought to psychiatrists until I saw what neuroleptic drugs did to someone I love. Now I am so angry I will not rest until every last biopsychiatrist in the world is unemployed, the psychiatric institutions are empty and the drug companies have gone bankrupt. ...
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
Subject: Translation into Japanese and some other inquiries
I am very interested in translating your home page into Japanese, if you have not found [a] Japanese translator yet. ... if I could be any of help for you, please do contact me. ...
I am a Japanese RN, graduated from the U. of Texas at Austin last August and looking for the people who are critical of the main stream drugging psychiatric treatment and who are dealing with the sufferers, focusing on family and social dynamics ...
I myself am a family member of schizophrenic patient; my mother who has been diagnosed for more than 30 years and I have been very skeptical of the contemporally main stream "psychiatric treatment" practiced on my mother. The long term administration of major tranquilizers have only suppressed her embarrassing behaviours from time to time but she has maintained her delusion intact throughout the years of suffering, and what is worse, she has developed tardive dyskinesia prominently these days and become very passive, indifferent ... [underline added] Even after I opted to become a nurse, I could not bring myself to go into the psychiatric as I had only experienced the worst, helpless, depressive pessimism in dealing with my mother. Thus I chose a general hospital and worked for 8 years in Japan. ...
Thanks to my friend's advice, I have encountered some of the inspiring books written by psychiatric doctors or analysts in psychiatric field, like Dr. R.D. Laing, Dr. T. Szasz and Dr. P. Breggin (though Dr. T. S. must not be very happy about being mingled with the others) and they opened my eye to the controversial view of the "psychiatric treatments", [which] make sense reviewing my mother's and some of my friends' cases. I sort of feel that I have finally found that what I had been seeking for. Living with a "psychotic patient" could be, often is, experience to the family, however, their approach to the patients is certainly an empowering exp. not only to the patient but also to the family, gaining a insight through the interaction with the patient and the professionals. After a couple of more [years] practice here, I would like to engage in spreading such movement in Japan as I believe that not only "patients" and their family but also the public should be informed of such danger of medicalized social and moral control...
Your letter illustrates that (1) the major tranquilizers psychiatrists call "anti-psychotic" in fact are not antipsychotic and, (2) modern psychiatry has little or nothing of value to offer people such as your mother and in fact seriously harms them .
Thanks for offering to translate our web site into Japanese. I'll be looking forward to receiving your translations as you complete them and adding them to our web site.
Douglas A. Smith
Wed, 20 Jan 1999
Please let me know whether you need German volunteer translators. I am NOT a member of any church or party. Because of my experience as a professional in the mental health system I might be of use somehow. I support Dendron and I would like to do SOMETHING to help stop involuntary medical treatment which seems to me equivalent to the terrors of the past so many experienced in my native country. ... I feel pretty much like a hypocrite as I seem to support the system through my silence, but the system has a powerful weapon: my professional license. So the choice is to either shut up and eat, or to fight and starve. Plus it took a lot of effort to obtain this license, years of studying. ...hope to hear from you soon.
Yes, we very much need your help with the German translations of the articles on our web-site. I translated several into German during the holidays using a computer program. I'm sure you can improve the program's translations.
I agree with your comparison of involuntary psychiatric treatment in America (and in other supposedly human-rights respecting nations) with the Nazi concentration camps of the 1940s. Although psychiatry does not kill 70% to 75% of its prisoners upon arrival as was done at Auschwitz and Birkenau, the imprisonment ("hospitalization") of law-abiding people in America's mental "hospitals," the cruel and sometimes deadly use of physical restraints on so-called patients in those so-called hospitals, and the brain-damage inflicted on them with neuroleptic drugs and electroconvulsive "therapy" are evil enough to invite comparisons with Naziism.
I fully understand your dilemma about being silent so you can be prosperous versus speaking out and being professionally and economically destroyed. As former psychiatric "patients," we face the same dilemma, which is one reason psychiatric oppression continues largely unchallenged. Some psychiatrists such as Thomas Szasz and Peter Breggin have braved the sanctions you fear. I read about someone calling for Dr. Szasz's removal from his position as a psychiatry professor because of his belief that there is no such thing as mental illness. Dr. Szasz nevertheless completed his career as a psychiatry professor successfully and retired at the age of 70. I also read a few articles about an attempt to revoke Dr. Breggin's license to practice as punishment for his comments on the Opra Winfrey TV Show criticizing psychiatric drugs, but it failed. Perhaps you should contact Dr. Szasz or Dr. Breggin and discuss his experience with him and then decide if you must help us in our fight for human rights in a furtive way. You can contact either through their web sites. We have links to both Dr. Szasz's and Dr. Breggin's web sites at the bottom of the main page of this web site.
Douglas A. Smith
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999
I guess we know each other! Met on last May 2nd in D.C. Will be next May for the same! I am ready to simplify or do more to your translations: english to français! Also, could extend to your brochures the services we give to ours!, trying to give them to the right people, around the right places!
ASSOCIATION STOP ABUS PSY'S
To: "'Douglas Smith'"
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999
Subject: RE: www.antipsychiatry.org Italian translation
You can use my name, if you want to: I'll be very proud to let people know I participate in this cause. ...
Note: If anyone reading this would like to volunteer to translate one or more of the articles on this web site into a foreign language, or to improve one or more of the translations already appearing on this web site, which for the most part are computer translations, please contact The Antipsychiatry Coalition at --
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 00 07:11AM MST
To whom it may concern,
I am in search of help for my brother. He is 35 years old and is what I believe to be mentally unstable. I am NOT in a position to diagnose him for I am not a psychiatrist. My father and I are worried because he will not voluntarily seek help. He is destroying himself slowly and I know that he will end up dead if we don't act now. We are pondering trying to force him to get help. I want the best for him though. I am scared now that I have been on your website and have visited many others regarding the atrocities that occur in these institutions. I am trying to find someone to lead me in the right direction. If someone won't help themselves then what do you do? Where do you go? How can you get help for them when they have no idea that they need it? Please help me! I would like to explore other alternatives than coercing him into an institution. I just think he needs to be evaluated or something. Maybe if we could get someone who can get through to him.
In your letter you are not specific about what your brother is doing to convince you he needs "help." You say "He is destroying himself slowly" and "will end up dead if we don't act now." What is he doing?: taking illicit drugs? addiction to prescription drugs? alcohol? promiscuous sex? showing a sad look on his face? pursuing an unproductive occupation or profession? doing nothing with his life? saying he might decide to commit suicide? assaulting people? What?
You say you are "NOT in a position to diagnose him for I am not a psychiatrist." Actually, Kristi, psychiatrists have no more expertise regarding determining who or what is normal than any intelligent, reasonable-minded but untrained person. Your impression of your brother's state of mind is probably as valid as that of any so-called professional.
Even without knowing what your brother is doing to upset you, your father, himself, or others, I can say this: Psychiatry cannot help your brother. Psychiatry can only harm him. Making people realize this is one of the central purposes of our Antipsychiatry Coalition web site. For example, brain-damaging neuroleptic drugs are given forcibly to nearly all involuntarily committed mental patients who won't submit voluntarily. Is that what you want for your brother? Even if it is, do you have a right, morally, to force this fate on him? If you don't know what I'm talking about, read Jenelle's Story and my book review of Breggin & Cohen's book Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs, or buy and read the book.
You can and should tell your brother what you think, but if he is an adult, he has a right to make his own decisions, and his only obligation is to respect the rights of others. Under despotic civil-commitment laws in effect in America and other countries, the right of law-abiding people to liberty can be ignored. However, I urge you to follow the golden rule: Don't use force, or allow the use of force, against your brother unless you are willing to have the same force (or imprisonment) imposed on yourself. Also remember that your brother's current problems or annoying behavior are probably temporary, but psychiatric stigma will follow him until he dies. Impose a lifetime of psychiatric stigma on him only if you would be willing to live with it yourself. It is over 30 years later, but I have never forgiven my parents nor America for violating my fundamental right as a law-abiding American to liberty merely because my parents disliked and would not accept the sorrowful emotions I experienced and my daring to consider (think about) suicide as a way to escape my pain. Likewise, your brother may never forgive you if you disregard his right to live (or end) his life as he wants. I urge you to give your brother your best advice and whatever help he wants from you but to respect his right to freedom.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster
25 Sep 1998
Dear Anti-Psychiatry Coalition,
Like any other science, psychiatry is not perfect. However, I would argue that most psychiatrists and psychologists are successful in helping MANY more people than they harm.
"More power to you" in standing up for what you believe--that's what makes freedom of speech so great. I feel you should also acknowledge the fact that thousands of people have been directly (and millions indirectly) helped by the hard work that psychiatrists and psychologists do.
Thank you for your time,
Psychology major at Berry College, Rome, Georgia (USA)
Reply by Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master Douglas Smith:
Thanks for letting us know psychology students like yourself are reading the articles on our web site. I'm not recommending becoming a mental health professional, but if you continue studying psychology and become a psychologist, I hope familiarity with the information and opinion on our web site will help you become a helper rather than an oppressor.
I don't agree with your view that psychiatrists and psychologists help more people than they harm. If you've already put a lot of time and effort into studying psychology and intend to continue on to graduate school and become a psychologist, it may be deflating to learn the truth about your chosen profession. If you are committed to becoming a psychologist, you have strong emotional reasons to want to believe the work of psychologists is effective and that they help more people than they hurt. But in my opinion based on my experience and observations, it's not true.
I'm sure there are psychologists and psychiatrists who are good listeners and who offer sensible advice, but as "The Case Against Psychotherapy" found on this web site makes clear, psychologists and psychiatrists have no skills for helping people not possessed by untrained persons. "Therapists" who use force against "patients" or prescribe biological "treatments" harm people gravely.
25 Sep 1998
To Whom It May Concern:
I read some of your website (http://www.antipsychiatry.org/Index .Html) and I have to agree except for one important point. The article I read, The Case Against Psychotherapy, did not distinguish between psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. PsychoANALYSIS is the commonest and most recommended type of psychotherapy. It is also the worst for people to use to get better. I am a proponent of REBT and cognitive therapy in general. REBT is known as a brief and enduring type of therapy. Cognitive therapy is generally against long term psychoanalysis. I think it is important that the distinction is made between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. There is an excellent article called Is Psychoanalysis Harmful by Albert Ellis. It is at http://www.rebt.org/essays/aug97essay.html ...
In his article "Why Psychiatry Should Be Abolished as a Medical Specialty," Lawrence Stevens goes further by approvingly quoting Mandy Aftel, M.A., and Robin Lakoff, Ph.D., making this observation: "Historically, all forms of 'talking' psychotherapy are derived from psychoanalysis, as developed by Sigmund Freud and his disciples ... More recent models diverge from psychoanalysis to a greater or lesser degree, but they all reflect that origin. Hence, they are all more alike than different" (When Talk Is Not Cheap, Or How To Find the Right Therapist When You Don't Know Where To Begin, Warner Books, 1985, p. 27).
You didn't define REBT, but I'm guessing it means Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, which I assume is a variant of psychologist Albert Ellis' Rational Emotive Therapy (RET). I like some of Dr. Ellis' ideas: For example, in his book A New Guide To Rational Living, he says he follows "an educational rather than a psychodynamic or a medical model of psychotherapy" (Wilshire Book Co., 1975, p. 219). However, I am also aware of the fact that Ellis has been a defender of the concept of mental illness, both in his article "Should Some People Be Labeled Mentally Ill?" in the Journal of Consulting Psychology, Vol 31, No. 5, 1967, pp. 435-446, and in his debate with Thomas Szasz on October 30, 1977 about whether or not mental illness exists, which the last time I checked was available on audiocassette from The Albert Ellis Institute, 45 E. 65th St., New York, N.Y. 10021. Obviously, I disagree with Dr. Ellis on this and agree with Dr. Szasz.
Your letter illustrates the extent to which psychotherapists of different schools of thought disagree with each other, sometimes accusing each other of harming those who come for "psychotherapy." Going to a so-called psychotherapist without first knowing which school of thought he or she comes from (Freudian psychoanalysis, neo-Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, Rogerian, RET, behavior therapy, neurolinguistic, etc.) is something like buying a box of cereal that has no label on it: You don't know until you get home and open it whether you'll find sugar frosted flakes or shredded wheat (or something much worse) inside.
Douglas A. Smith
13 Sep 1998
I have suffered at the hands of incompetent mental health professionals and social workers. I was set upon by an out- of-control system, an only after 2 years of hellish struggle did I prevail. My so-called "hypomania" is actually a sign that I am a living sentient being. I have truly been a persecuted artist. I continue to have trouble from anal-retentive oafs and control-freaks who infest "The System". I tire of them, and I have seen what they have done to others who were not as resourceful as I am. Let's put a stop to their arrogant schemes. ...
J.A. (New York City)
Cartas en español
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 00 00:00AM EDT
Mas que criticar a los psiquiatras me encantaría saber cual es la cura a estos llamados trastornos mentales que sin ser doctor me parece que han ayudado a un sin número de pacientes que están en la categoría de enfermos. Según este autor cual es la manera de estar bien pregunto yo. a la espera de algún comentario.
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 00 00:00AM EDT
More than to criticize the psychiatrists, I would love to know what is the cure to these mental dysfunctions, that, without being a doctor it seems to me, they have helped a without number of patients who are in this category of illness [sic: translation?]. According to this author, I ask, what is the way to be well?
awaiting some comment.
I think the question is not how to be well or how to be healthy. The question is how to live. My answer is doing, or trying to do, whatever you think will make you happy that is consistent with respecting the rights of others.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster
Yo pienso que la pregunta no es cómo ser bien o cómo ser saludable. La pregunta es cómo vivir. Mi respuesta está haciendo, o intentando hacer, cualquier cosas que usted piensa lo hará feliz eso es consistente con respetar los derechos de otros.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 00 18:20PM EDT
From: "DR. JORGE ARTURO POLANCO" - email@example.com
Subject: No estar de acuerdo
Estoy sorprendido de todos los comentarios vertidos en estas paginas. Estoy es desacuerdo con casi todo (95%) ya que la informacion vertida se basa en opiniones, comentraios y no en estudios serios, replicados y validados, lo cual hace que los comentarios sean solo eso, comentarios y no una tajante realidad. Igualmente como los de la cienciologia, los ufoadoradores y otras creencias poco serias, la antipsiquiatria en unicamente una seria de oponiones poco validas. Creo que el autor es lo que se llama un trastorno limitrofe de la personalidad y como tal, actua, escribe y difunde su pensamiento.
DR. JORGE ARTURO POLANCO
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 00 18:20PM EDT
From: "DR. JORGE ARTURO POLANCO" - firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: In disagreement
I am surprised at all the comments found in these pages. I am in disagreement with almost everything (95%), since the information is based on opinions, commentaries, and not serious replicated and validated studies. That makes the commentaries less than valid. Equally as those of the Scientologists, the adorers of UFOs [Unidentified Flying Objects], and others with less than serious beliefs, antipsychiatry is only a series of opinions that are not very worthwhile. I believe that the author has what is called a borderline personality dysfunction, and as such, he acts, writes and confuses his thinking.
DR. JORGE ARTURO POLANCO
Dear Dr. Polanco,
The only thing I like about your letter is it shows Spanish speaking people are reading the articles on our website. Your criticism about this website being unsupported opinion rather than science is as inaccurate as it can be regarding most of the articles that appear on this website: Most of the articles on this website are solid science revealing the falacies of biological psychiatry and so-called psychotherapy. Others state the author's opinions: Ann Lawson's article is largely her opinions (with which I happen to agree). My article about outpatient commitment laws is my observations and opinions. Readers will form their own opinions of the views expressed. The invalidity of your criticism is or will be obvious to almost any impartial person who takes the time to read what we have to say about psychiatry. If you are a mental health professional in Mexico, I feel concern for anyone who is or in the future will be in your care: Your letter suggests you accept psychiatric myths as fact and that you are willing to "diagnose" mental illness in anyone who disagrees with you.
Douglas A. Smith
Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster