ANTIPSYCHIATRY MOVEMENT – “There is, in short, no such thing as schizophrenia”.
The views expressed in these notes do not necessarily reflect my own, but I feel that there is a danger of them being suppressed by powerful vested interests attached to mental health, and that future generations of students will only be presented with a one dimensional view, whether that supported by drug companies, or by theoreticians that support a biological basis for what is termed ‘schizophrenia’. Many feel that mental illness is socially determined, and the views of psychiatrists, such as R. D. Laing, that ‘schizophrenia’ is not an illness but an understandable reaction to an inescapable and persecutory social order should be considered.
David J. Rissmiller; Joshua H. Rissmiller, Open Forum: Evolution of the Antipsychiatry Movement Into Mental Health Consumerism, Psychiatric Services 2006:
(1) This essay reviews the history and evolution of the antipsychiatry movement … The antecedents of the antipsychiatry movement can be traced to the early 1950s, when deep divisions were developing between biological and psychoanalytic psychiatrists. Psychoanalytic psychiatry, which had exerted unchallenged control of the profession for decades, endorsed treatment that was subjective and dynamic and that involved protracted psychotherapy. It was being challenged by biological psychiatry, which claimed that psychoanalysis was unscientific, costly, and ineffective.
(2) (Simultaneously) ……. an outcry was mounting against psychiatry’s practice of compulsory admission of mental patients to state institutions, where they were coerced into taking high doses of neuroleptic drugs and undergoing convulsive and psychosurgical procedures. The antipsychiatry movement arose as a group of scholarly psychoanalysts and sociologists shaped an organized opposition to what were perceived as biological psychiatry’s abuses in the name of science. This protest was joined by a 1960s worldwide counterculture that was already rebelling against all forms of political, sexual, and racial injustice.
THE 1950’s WAS A TIME OF CONFLICT BETWEEN BIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOANALYTIC PSYCHIATRISTS.
THERE WAS OPPOSITION TO THE COMPULSORY ADMISSION OF PEOPLE TO MENTAL INSTITUTIONS.
THE ANTIPYCHIATRY MOVEMENT BECAME PART OF THE 1960’s COUNTERCULTURE MOVEMENT.
(3) The term “antipsychiatry” was first coined in 1967 by the South African psychoanalyst David Cooper (1) well after the movement was already under way. It was internationally promoted through the efforts of its four seminal thinkers, Michel Foucault in France, R. D. Laing in Great Britain, Thomas Szasz in the United States, and Franco Basaglia in Italy. All four championed the concept that personal reality was independent from any hegemonic definition of normalcy imposed by organized psychiatry. In Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (2), Foucault traced the social context of mental illness and noted that external economic and cultural interests have always defined it. During the Renaissance, madmen were characterized as fools who figured prominently in the writings of Shakespeare and Cervantes. Beginning in the 17th century, madmen were confined and locked away, justified by the state’s “imperative of labor.” The poor, criminals, and the insane were all isolated as a condemnation of anyone unwilling or unable to compete for gainful employment.
(4) (2012: Department for Work and Pensions officials defended the idea of docking cash from those who refuse to take up work placements.They said: “Ministers strongly feel there is a link-up to support moving close to the labour market, and the individual’s responsibility to engage with the support. Ministers feel sanctions are an incentive for people to comply with their responsibilities.” Consider this statement in relation to: The Protestant work ethic, or sometimes called the Puritan work ethic, is a Calvinist value emphasising the necessity of constant labour in a person’s calling as a sign of personal salvation. Protestants beginning with Martin Luther had reconceptualised work as a duty in the world for the benefit of the individual and society as a whole. The Catholic idea of good works was transformed into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace).
MICHEL FOUCOULT CLAIMED THAT MENTAL ILLNESS WAS DEFINED BY ECONOMIC INTERESTS.
PRESENT-DAY BENEFITS LEGISLATION REFLECT CALVANIST VALUES OF ‘WORK AS DUTY’. DISCUSS.
(5) In the early 1800’s madmen were separated from prisoners and beggars and forced into hospitals run by medical doctors. Madness was reinvented as a disease, and inhumane treatment was begun. It consisted of classification, custody, and coercion by a psychiatric authority, which operated as an arm of the state, ridding it of unwanted individuals. Psychiatry became “a jurisdiction without appeal … between the police and the courts … a third order of repression” (1).
(6) Paranoid schizophrenics, who have “delusions and/or hallucinations” that are either “persecutory” or “grandiose.” Hebephrenic schizophrenics, in whom “well-developed delusions are usually absent.” Catatonic schizophrenics who tend to be characterized by “posturing, rigidity, stupor, and often mutism” or, in other words, sitting around in a motionless, nonreactive state (in contrast to paranoid schizophrenics who tend to be suspicious and jumpy). Simple schizophrenics, who exhibit a “loss of interest and initiative” like the catatonic schizophrenics (though not as severe) and unlike the paranoid schizophrenics have an “absence of delusions or hallucinations” The 1968 edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-II, indicates a person who is very happy (experiences “pronounced elation”) may be defined as schizophrenic for this reason (“Schizophrenia, schizo-affective type, excited”) or very unhappy (“Schizophrenia, schizo-affective type, depressed”) (p. 35), and the 1987 edition, DSM-III-R, indicates a person can be “diagnosed” as schizophrenic because he displays neither happiness nor sadness (“no signs of affective expression”) (p. 189), which Dr. Torrey in his book calls simple schizophrenia (“blunting of emotions”) (p. 77).
“Mental health stigma in our society starts with the way people are diagnosed and labeled as having “mental health problems”. People so-judged are set apart from the rest – ‘stigmatised’ – and when labels, such as ‘schizophrenia’, and ‘personality disorder’, have negative connotations in the popular imagination, then widespread discrimination is likely. ……. I think there are certainly ways that people can be helped with abusive voices, wildly-disordered thoughts, delusions and hallucinations. These seem to me to be real causes of terrible suffering and we have to help each other cope with them. Each person will need a unique kind of help according to the particular circumstances of their life and experience. The point has been made many times that we won’t be free from these kinds of bad experiences until we live in a more benign human world. Putting mental health labels on our experiences does not help” (Terry Simpson). A mental health label does not give a sense of the inner self; it is a classification of behaviours arising from the inner self; arising from such pychological drivers of fear and loss. Marcus Aurelius contended that it is not possible to adequately describe a person by his or her behaviours; it is more meaningful to ask what inner need do behaviours arise from.
THE ‘MENTALLY ILL’ BECAME SUBJECT TO CLASSIFICATION, CUSTODY, AND COERCION.
THEY WERE DESCRIBED IN TERMS OF THEIR BEHAVIOURS. DISCUSS.
THEY WERE STIGMATISED THROUGH BEING LABELLED. DISCUSS.
(7) While Foucault was writing in France in the early 1960s, R. D. Laing, in England, joined other authors of the period who were describing the social origins of behavior. Fanon (3) demonstrated how blacks often would fulfill racist stereotypes; Lessing (4), how women commonly conformed to society’s expectation of passivity and femininity; and Goffman (5), how patients, stripped of normal social responsibilities, developed institutional behavior. Laing promoted the idea that severe mental illness, similarly, had a social causality.
(8) In The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness (6), a best-seller in colleges across the United States and Great Britain, Laing noted that a patient with psychosis could be viewed in one of two ways: “One may see his behaviour as ‘signs’ of a ‘disease’ [or] one may see his behaviour as expressive of his existence.” For Laing, paranoid delusions were not signs of an illness but an understandable reaction to an inescapable and persecutory social order. If Laing was correct, and schizophrenia were not a disease but rather an existential fight for personal freedom, then logic allows that it could be cured through social remediation. Laing, through the Philadelphia Association founded with Cooper in 1965, set up over 20 therapeutic communities throughout England where staff and patients assumed equal status and any medication used was voluntary. A recounting of a seven-week stay in one of these communities was chronicled in the 1972 film Asylum (7).
R. D. LAING SUGGESTED THAT SOCIETY ACTED THROUGH THE FAMILY TO ENFORCE GOALS THAT HAD NO MEANING TO THE INDIVIDUAL. DISCUSS.
THE INDIVIDUAL AS ‘SELF’ ADOPTED THESE GOALS AND BECAME THE ‘FALSE SELF’.
PSYCHOSIS DEVELOPS AS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ‘FALSE SELF’ AND THE ‘TRUE SELF’ INCREASED.
(9) Other psychoanalysts were also exploring the social context surrounding mental illness. Thomas Szasz, having recently been appointed to the faculty of the State University of New York, in 1957 wrote his most influential paper, “The Myth of Mental Illness.” Over the next three years, it was rejected by at least six psychiatric journals, including the American Journal of Psychiatry, until it was finally accepted for publication in the American Psychologist (8) in 1960. As the antipsychiatry movement gained momentum, this article became the core of his best-selling book (9) by the same name and the slogan around which many in the movement rallied. Because schizophrenia demonstrated no discernible brain lesion, Szasz believed its classification as a disease was a fiction perpetrated by organized psychiatry to gain power. The state, searching for a way to exclude nonconformists and dissidents, legitimized psychiatry’s coercive practices. Equating the resulting psychiatry-government collusion with the Spanish Inquisition, Szasz (10) called it “the single most destructive force that has affected American society within the last 50 years.” Such a conspiratorial link between the government and psychiatry was an appealing concept to such counterculture icons as Timothy Leary (11), who, preceding his termination from Harvard, wrote to Szasz in 1961 that “the Myth of Mental Illness is the most important book in the history of psychiatry … perhaps … the most important book published in the twentieth century.” Citing the principle of “separation of church and state,” Szasz argued for a similarly clear division between “psychiatry and state.” Otherwise, the state would ultimately corrupt psychiatry for its own purposes, as occurred in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. As a preventive measure, Szasz helped launch the Libertarian Party in 1971, and its platform called for a halt to government-psychiatry mind control operations.
(10) Others involved in the antipsychiatry movement were even more condemning. In 1969, Scientology’s charismatic founder, L. Ron Hubbard (12), wrote, “There is not one institutional psychiatrist alive who … could not be arraigned and convicted of extortion, mayhem and murder.” Hubbard and Szasz cofounded the still powerful Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which encouraged the arrest and incarceration of psychiatrists for their crimes against humanity.
(11) In May 1970, hundreds in the antipsychiatry movement joined gay activists in forming a human chain barring psychiatrists from entering the American Psychiatric Association’s 124th annual meeting. During a similar disruption the following year, gay activist Frank Kameny grabbed the podium and declared war on psychiatry for its DSM classification of homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder. Wanting the protests to stop, the American Psychiatric Association formed a task force, which, by a vote of 58 percent, officially deleted homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973.
(12) Psychiatry’s purported abuse of patients was popularized in Kesey’s 1962 novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (13), which contributed to reforms in mental health public policy. David Bazelon, a jurist of the powerful United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, deplored authoritarian psychiatric practices. In 1966, he established in Lake v. Cameron that all psychiatric treatment must be carried out in the least restrictive setting possible. In the early 1970s the antipsychiatry attorney Bruce Ennis created the “Mental Health Bar.” Its goal was to completely abolish involuntary commitments or prevent them by making them too arduous to secure. These and other initiatives heralded the release of hundreds of thousands of patients from state hospitals.
(13) Deinstitutionalization in Europe occurred over a decade late. The Italian psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, its leading proponent, while working at the asylum in Trieste, came to believe that mental illness was not a disease but rather an expression of human needs. Over the next decade he personally mobilized an antipsychiatry movement in Italy that culminated in the 1978 Italian National Reform Bill that banned all asylums and compulsory admissions and established community hospital psychiatric units, which were restricted to 15 beds. This reorganization of mental health services in Italy resulted in the “democratic psychiatry movement,” wherein hundreds of psychiatric institutions were closed throughout Europe, New Zealand, and Australia, including many in Ireland and Finland, where the highest number of asylum beds were located.
(14) Despite such notable successes and after nearly two decades of prominence, the international antipsychiatry movement began to dramatically diminish in the early 1980s, both in visibility and impact. Organized psychiatry, by addressing some of the movement’s key grievances, was able to defuse it to some degree, and narrowed the gap between analytic and biological practitioners. Neurotransmitter discoveries and schizophrenia twin registries offered support that schizophrenia was at least partially biologically based. As comparison studies failed to support efficacy and as tardive dyskinesia became more apparent, psychiatrists markedly reduced dosages of neuroleptics prescribed. Electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery became marginalized as treatments and compulsory commitments came under close judicial scrutiny. But by far the most important determinant of the movement’s demise was its loss of broad-based support. To a great extent, the antipsychiatry movement was derived from its close relationship to other progressive leftist coalitions that, by association and overlapping membership, supported the movement. With the decline of other student, feminist, gay, and black coalitions, the antipsychiatry movement could no longer rely on counterculture support. The radical left, with its utopian vision, was being replaced, worldwide, by an emerging conservative political landscape. Since the antipsychiatry movement’s raison d’être was inherently antiestablishment, it, like the other militant movements of the day, was at risk of becoming increasingly irrelevant.
(15) The mental health consumerist movement offered a struggling antipsychiatry coalition the mainstream collaborator it needed for rejuvenation. Since its inception in the early 1900s by former patient Clifford Beers and through organizations such as the Anti-Insane Asylum Society and the National Committee on Mental Hygiene, the consumerist movement had achieved significant international mental health reforms. Its tactics of forming political alliances and lobbying instead of confrontation appealed to conservative politicians who were weary of civil disobedience. The movement’s vision of patients helping one another addressed a growing concern over the cost of mental health treatment. But consumerists considered the antipsychiatry movement as “largely an intellectual exercise of academics” (14). Consumerists wanted to keep their movement in the hands of prior patients. They had no interest in being led by psychiatrist intellectuals who had done little during the antipsychiatry movement to “reach out to struggling ex-patients” (14). As a result, as the antipsychiatry movement evolved from being campus based to being patient based, its founders were marginalized as bystanders to a movement they had begun. Appelbaum (15) in 1994 observed, “Now, more than three decades later, … Szasz, Laing, and their colleagues are no longer fixtures … and … most college and graduate students have never heard of them or their argument that mental illness is a socially derived myth.”
(16) With over a half million deinstitutionalized patients to draw from, there was a potential for the new antipsychiatry consumerist coalition to be extensive. Many former patients, angry about the coercive treatment they had received and looking for support and identity, would be ideal carriers of the antipsychiatry message. They joined local consumerist radical groups, and new ex-patient leaders arose. Leonard Frank, founder of Support Coalition International, after undergoing over 80 insulin comas and electroshock treatments, became electroshock therapy’s new outspoken critic. Ex-patient Judi Chamberlin, cofounder of the Mental Patients Liberation Front, mobilized the movement with On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System (16).
(17) The formative years of this movement in the United States saw “survivors” promoting their antipsychiatry, self-determination message through small, disconnected groups, including the Insane Liberation Front, the Mental Patients’ Liberation project, the Mental Patient’s Liberation Front, and the Network Against Psychiatric Assault. The fragmented networks communicated through their annual Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression (held from 1973 to 1985), through the ex-patient-run Madness Network News (from 1972 to 1986), and through the annual “Alternatives” conference funded by the National Institute of Mental Health for mental health consumers (from 1985 to the present). Similar groups arose throughout Canada and, later, Europe, where the name “survivor” brought more public criticism because of its association with the holocaust. The movement searched for a unifying medium through which to integrate.
(18) The growing Internet “global community” offered just such a medium. Numerous radical antipsychiatry Web sites, such as Support Coalition International, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, the Antipsychiatry Coalition, and Mind Freedom International, linked antipsychiatry movements in over 30 countries. Their capacity to instantaneously reach millions meant that “despite its modest head count, the consumer/survivor movement exerted a significant sociopolitical influence on the mental health care system” (17).
(19) (2) By avoiding the antipsychiatry movement flaw of being radicalized without being politicized, radical consumerists continued to maintain informal ties with more conservative consumerist organizations such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in the United States and the Mental Health Foundation in England. Mainstream consumerist groups benefited from such unofficial relationships through increased impact in grassroots lobbying and legislative advocacy efforts.
(20) Such joint efforts exerted a palpable effect. In 1986 the survivor-antipsychiatry-consumerist triumvirate succeeded in getting Congress to mandate independent protection and advocacy programs for people with mental illness in all 50 states. The mission to investigate allegations of patient abuse came with a mandate that at least 60 percent of the membership of the governing advocacy councils be ex-psychiatric patients or their families. In 2000 the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency charged with making recommendations to the President and Congress, heard strong antipsychiatry testimony from survivors “describing how people with psychiatric disabilities have been beaten, shocked, isolated, incarcerated, restricted, raped, deprived of food and bathroom privileges, and physically and psychologically abused in institutions.” The council concluded that “People with psychiatric disabilities are routinely deprived of their rights in a way no other disability group has been [and] … the manner in which American society treats people with psychiatric disabilities constitutes a national emergency and a national disgrace” (18).
(21) Radical consumerists were instrumental in getting the United Nations General Assembly to adopt its 1991 Principles for the Protection of Persons With Mental Illness and the Improvement of Mental Health Care. In 2002 the Scientology-funded Commission on Human Rights successfully petitioned the Secretary-General of the United Nations to report annually to the General Assembly on the progress of human rights, including as it relates to persons with mental illness.
THOMAS SZASZ SUGGESTED THAT MENTAL ILLNESS AS A DISEASE WAS A MYTH.
ORGANISED PSYCHIATRY SUPPORTED THIS MYTH TO GAIN POWER.
THE STATE SUPPORTED THIS MYTH TO EXCLUDE NONCONFORMISTS. DISCUSS.
THE ANTIPSYCHIATRY MOVEMENT WAS ACTIVE IN BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE IN THE USA THROUGH LEGISLATION.
DEINSTITUTIONALISATION IN EUROPE EVENTUALY FOLLOWED THIS LEAD.
(21) Organized psychiatry has found it difficult to have a constructive dialogue with the evolving radical consumerist movement. Consumerist groups are viewed as extremist, having little scientific foundation and no defined leadership. The profession sees them as continually trying to restrict “the work of psychiatrists and care for the seriously mentally ill.” (17). Psychiatry continues to fight antipsychiatry disinformation on the use of involuntary commitment, electroconvulsive therapy, stimulants and antidepressants among children, and neuroleptics among adults.Conversely, radical consumerists remain disinclined to soften their antipsychiatry stance toward a territorial and biologically oriented profession that, in their view, has profited from patients it neglected and abused. Seeing themselves as “the last minority” (17), unfairly stigmatized by psudoscientific classification, and denied self-determination, they will undoubtedly continue to play an assertive role in the delivery of mental health services worldwide.
ORGANISED PSYCHIATRY REMAINS RESISTANT TO CONSUMERIST GROUPS THEY SEE AS INTERFERING IN WORK WITH THE ‘SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL’. DISCUSS.
1. Cooper D: Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry. London, Tavistock Publications, 1967.
2. Foucault M: Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. New York, Random House, 1965.
3. Fanon F: The Wretched of the Earth. New York, Grove Press, 1963.
4. Lessing DM: The Golden Notebook. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1962.
5. Goffman E: Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York, Anchor Books, 1961.
6. Laing R. D: The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. Harmondsworth, England, Penguin, 1960.
7. Robinson P (director): Asylum. Kino Video, 1972.
8. Szasz T. S: The myth of mental illness. American Psychologist 15:113-118, 1960.
9. Szasz T. S: The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. New York, Hoeber-Harper, 1961.
10. Szasz T. S: The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement. New York, Harper and Row, 1970.
11. Leary T: A letter from Timothy Leary, Ph.D., July 17, 1961.
12. Hubbard LR: Crime and psychiatry, June 23, 1969.
13. Kesey K: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. New York, Viking Press, 1962.
14. Chamberlin J: The ex-patients’ movement: where we’ve been and where we’re going. Journal of Mind and Behavior 11:323-336, 1990.
15. Appelbaum P. S: Almost a Revolution: Mental Health Law and the Limits of Change. New York, Oxford University Press, 1994.
16. Chamberlin J: On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System. New York, Hawthorne, 1978.
17. Satel SL, Redding RE: Sociopolitical trends in mental health care: the consumer/survivor movement and multiculturalism, in Kaplan and Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 8th ed. Edited by Sadock BJ, Sadock VA. Philadelphia, Pa, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2005.
18. Bristo M: From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled With Psychiatric Disabilities Speak for Themselves. Washington, DC, National Council on Disability, Jan 20, 2000.
SCHIZOPHRENIA: A Nonexistent Disease. Lawrence Stevens:
(22) The word “schizophrenia” has a scientific sound that seems to give it inherent credibility and a charisma that seems to dazzle people. In his book Molecules of the Mind – The Brave New Science of Molecular Psychology, University of Maryland journalism professor Jon Franklin calls schizophrenia and depression “the two classic forms of mental illness” (Dell Publishing Co., 1987, p. 119). According to the cover article in the July 6, 1992 Time magazine, schizophrenia is the “most devilish of mental illnesses” (p. 53). This Time magazine article says “fully a quarter of the nation’s hospital beds are occupied by schizophrenia patients” (p. 55). Books and articles like these and the facts to which they refer (such as a quarter of hospital beds being occupied by so-called schizophrenics) delude most people into believing there really is a disease called schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is one of the great myths of our time.
(23) In his book Schizophrenia – The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry, psychiatry professor Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., says “There is, in short, no such thing as schizophrenia” (Syracuse University Press, 1988, p. 191). In the Epilogue of their book Schizophrenia – Medical Diagnosis or Moral Verdict?, Theodore R. Sarbin, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz who spent three years working in mental hospitals, and James C. Mancuso, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the State University of New York at Albany, say: “We have come to the end of our journey. Among other things, we have tried to establish that the schizophrenia model of unwanted conduct lacks credibility. The analysis directs us ineluctably to the conclusion that schizophrenia is a myth” (Pergamon Press, 1980, p. 221). In his book Against Therapy, published in 1988, Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., a psychoanalyst, says “There is a heightened awareness of the dangers inherent in labeling somebody with a disease category like schizophrenia, and many people are beginning to realize that there is no such entity” (Atheneum, p. 2).
(24) Rather than being a bona-fide disease, so-called schizophrenia is a nonspecific category which includes almost everything a human being can do, think, or feel that is greatly disliked by other people or by the so-called schizophrenics themselves. There are few so-called mental illnesses that have not at one time or another been called schizophrenia. Because schizophrenia is a term that covers just about everything a person can think or do which people greatly dislike, it is hard to define objectively. Typically, definitions of schizophrenia are vague or inconsistent with each other. For example, when I asked a physician who was the Assistant Superintendent of a state mental hospital to define the term schizophrenia for me, he with all seriousness replied “split personality – that’s the most popular definition.” In contrast, a pamphlet published by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill titled “What Is Schizophrenia?” says “Schizophrenia is not a split personality”. In her book Schiz-o-phre-nia: Straight Talk for Family and Friends, published in 1985, Maryellen Walsh says “Schizophrenia is one of the most misunderstood diseases on the planet. Most people think that it means having a split personality. Most people are wrong. Schizophrenia is not a splitting of the personality into multiple parts” (Warner Books, p. 41). The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Second Edition), also known as DSM-II, published in 1968, defined schizophrenia as “characteristic disturbances of thinking, mood, or behavior” (p. 33). A difficulty with such a definition is it is so broad just about anything people dislike or consider abnormal, i.e., any so-called mental illness, can fit within it. In the Foreword to DSM-II, Ernest M. Gruenberg, M.D., D.P.H., Chairman of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Nomenclature, said: “Consider, for example, the mental disorder labeled in the Manual as ‘schizophrenia,’ … Even if it had tried, the Committee could not establish agreement about what this disorder is” (p. ix). The third edition of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published in 1980, commonly called DSM-III, was also quite candid about the vagueness of the term. It said: “The limits of the concept of Schizophrenia are unclear” (p. 181). The revision published in 1987, DSM-III-R, contains a similar statement: “It should be noted that no single feature is invariably present or seen only in Schizophrenia” (p. 188). DSM-III-R also says this about a related diagnosis, Schizoaffective Disorder: “The term Schizoaffective Disorder has been used in many different ways since it was first introduced as a subtype of Schizophrenia, and represents one of the most confusing and controversial concepts in psychiatric nosology” (p. 208).
DEFINITIONS OF SCHITZOPHRENIA ARE VAGUE AND INCONSISTENT.
(25) Particularly noteworthy in today’s prevailing intellectual climate in which mental illness is considered to have biological or chemical causes is what DSM-III-R, says about such physical causes of this catch-all concept of schizophrenia: It says a diagnosis of schizophrenia “is made only when it cannot be established that an organic factor initiated and maintained the disturbance” (p. 187). Underscoring this definition of “schizophrenia” as non-biological is the 1987 edition of The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, which says a (so-called) diagnosis of schizophrenia is made only when the behavior in question is “not due to organic mental disorder” (p. 1532).
(26) Contrast this with a statement by psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., in his book Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual, published in 1988. He says “Schizophrenia is a brain disease, now definitely known to be such” (Harper & Row, p. 5). Of course, if schizophrenia is a brain disease, then it is organic. However, the official definition of schizophrenia maintained and published by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for many years specifically excluded organically caused conditions from the definition of schizophrenia. Not until the publication of DSM-IV in 1994 was the exclusion for biologically caused conditions removed from the definition of schizophrenia. In Surviving Schizophrenia, Dr. Torrey acknowledges “the prevailing psychoanalytic and family interaction theories of schizophrenia which were prevalent in American psychiatry” (p. 149) which would seem to account for this.
(27) In the November 10, 1988 issue of Nature, genetic researcher Eric S. Lander of Harvard University and M.I.T. summarized the situation this way: “The late US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart declared in a celebrated obscenity case that, although he could not rigorously define pornography, ‘I know it when I see it’. Psychiatrists are in much the same position concerning the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Some 80 years after the term was coined to describe a devastating condition involving a mental split among the functions of thought, emotion and behaviour, there remains no universally accepted definition of schizophrenia” (p. 105).
(28) According to Dr. Torrey in his book Surviving Schizophrenia, so-called schizophrenia includes several widely divergent personality types. Included among them are paranoid schizophrenics, who have “delusions and/or hallucinations” that are either “persecutory” or “grandiose”; hebephrenic schizophrenics, in whom “well-developed delusions are usually absent”; catatonic schizophrenics who tend to be characterized by “posturing, rigidity, stupor, and often mutism” or, in other words, sitting around in a motionless, nonreactive state (in contrast to paranoid schizophrenics who tend to be suspicious and jumpy); and simple schizophrenics, who exhibit a “loss of interest and initiative” like the catatonic schizophrenics (though not as severe) and unlike the paranoid schizophrenics have an “absence of delusions or hallucinations” (p. 77). The 1968 edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-II, indicates a person who is very happy (experiences “pronounced elation”) may be defined as schizophrenic for this reason (“Schizophrenia, schizo-affective type, excited”) or very unhappy (“Schizophrenia, schizo-affective type, depressed”) (p. 35), and the 1987 edition, DSM-III-R, indicates a person can be “diagnosed” as schizophrenic because he displays neither happiness nor sadness (“no signs of affective expression”)(p. 189), which Dr. Torrey in his book calls simple schizophrenia (“blunting of emotions”) (p. 77). According to psychiatry professor Jonas Robitscher, J.D., M.D., in his book The Powers of Psychiatry, people who cycle back and forth between happiness and sadness, the so-called manic-depressives or suffers of “bipolar mood disorder”, may also be called schizophrenic: “Many cases that are diagnosed as schizophrenia in the United States would be diagnosed as manic-depressive illness in England or Western Europe” (Houghton Mifflin, 1980, p.165.) So the supposed “symptoms” or defining characteristics of “schizophrenia” are broad indeed, defining people as having some kind of schizophrenia because they have delusions or do not, hallucinate or do not, are jumpy or catatonic, are happy, sad, or neither happy nor sad, or cycling back and forth between happiness and sadness. Since no physical causes of “schizophrenia” have been found, as we’ll soon see, this “disease” can be defined only in terms of its “symptoms”, which as you can see are what might be called ubiquitous. As attorney Bruce Ennis says in his book Prisoners of Psychiatry: “schizophrenia is such an all-inclusive term and covers such a large range of behavior that there are few people who could not, at one time or another, be considered schizophrenic” (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972, p. 22). People who are obsessed with certain thoughts or who feel compelled to perform certain behaviors, such as washing their hands repeatedly, are usually considered to be suffering from a separate psychiatric disease called “obsessive-compulsive disorder”. However, people with obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors have also been called schizophrenic (e.g., by Dr. Torrey in his book Surviving Schizophrenia, pp. 115-116).
(29) In Surviving Schizophrenia, Dr. Torrey quite candidly concedes the impossibility of defining what “schizophrenia” is. He says: “The definitions of most diseases of mankind has been accomplished. … In almost all diseases there is something which can be seen or measured, and this can be used to define the disease and separate it from nondisease states. Not so with schizophrenia! To date we have no single thing which can be measured and from which we can then say: Yes, that is schizophrenia. Because of this, the definition of the disease is a source of great confusion and debate” (p. 73). What puzzles me is how to reconcile this statement of Dr. Torrey’s with another he makes in the same book, which I quoted above and which appears more fully as follows: “Schizophrenia is a brain disease, now definitely known to be such. It is a real scientific and biological entity, as clearly as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and cancer are scientific and biological entities” (p. 5). How can it be known schizophrenia is a brain disease when we do not know what schizophrenia is?
(30) The truth is that the label schizophrenia, like the labels pornography or mental illness, indicates disapproval of that to which the label is applied and nothing more. Like “mental illness” or pornography, “schizophrenia” does not exist in the sense that cancer and heart disease exist but exists only in the sense that good and bad exist. As with all other so-called mental illnesses, a diagnosis of “schizophrenia” is a reflection of the speaker’s or “diagnostician’s” values or ideas about how a person “should” be, often coupled with the false (or at least unproven) assumption that the disapproved thinking, emotions, or behavior results from a biological abnormality. Considering the many ways it has been used, it’s clear “schizophrenia” has no particular meaning other than “I dislike it.” Because of this, I lose some of my respect for mental health professionals when I hear them use the word schizophrenia in a way that indicates they think it is a real disease. I do this for the same reason I would lose respect for someone’s perceptiveness or intellectual integrity after hearing him or her admire the emperor’s new clothes. While the layman definition of schizophrenia, internally inconsistent, may make some sense, using the term “schizophrenia” in a way that indicates the speaker thinks it is a real disease is tantamount to admitting he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
(31) Many mental health “professionals” and other “scientific” researchers do however persist in believing “schizophrenia” is a real disease. They are like the crowds of people observing the emperor’s new clothes, unable or unwilling to see the truth because so many others before them have said it is real. A glance through the articles listed under “Schizophrenia” in Index Medicus, an index of medical periodicals, reveals how widespread the schizophrenia myth has become. And because these “scientists” believe “schizophrenia” is a real disease, they try to find physical causes for it. As psychiatrist William Glasser, M.D., says in his book Positive Addiction, published in 1976: “Schizophrenia sounds so much like a disease that prominent scientists delude themselves into searching for its cure” (Harper & Row, p. 18). This is a silly endeavor, because these supposedly prominent scientists can’t define “schizophrenia” and accordingly don’t know what they are looking for.
(32) According to three Stanford University psychiatry professors, “two hypotheses have dominated the search for a biological substrate of schizophrenia.” They say these two theories are the transmethylation hypothesis of schizophrenia and the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia. (Jack D. Barchas, M.D., et al., “Biogenic Amine Hypothesis of Schizophrenia”, appearing in Psychopharmacology: From Theory to Practice, Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 100.) The transmethylation hypothesis was based on the idea that “schizophrenia” might be caused by “aberrant formation of methylated amines” similar to the hallucinogenic pleasure drug mescaline in the metabolism of so-called schizophrenics. After reviewing various attempts to verify this theory, they conclude: “More than two decades after the introduction of the transmethylation hypothesis, no conclusions can be drawn about its relevance to or involvement in schizophrenia” (p. 107).
(33) Columbia University psychiatry professor Jerrold S. Maxmen, M.D., succinctly describes the second major biological theory of so-called schizophrenia, the dopamine hypothesis, in his book The New Psychiatry, published in 1985: “…many psychiatrists believe that schizophrenia involves excessive activity in the dopamine-receptor system…the schizophrenic’s symptoms result partially from receptors being overwhelmed by dopamine” (Mentor, pp. 142 & 154). But in the article by three Stanford University psychiatry professors I referred to above they say “direct confirmation that dopamine is involved in schizophrenia continues to elude investigators” (p. 112). In 1987 in his book Molecules of the Mind Professor Jon Franklin says “The dopamine hypothesis, in short, was wrong” (p. 114).
(34) In that same book, Professor Franklin aptly describes efforts to find other biological causes of so-called schizophrenia: “As always, schizophrenia was the index disease. During the 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of scientists occupied themselves at one time and another with testing samples of schizophrenics’ bodily reactions and fluids. They tested skin conductivity, cultured skin cells, analyzed blood, saliva, and sweat, and stared reflectively into test tubes of schizophrenic urine. The result of all this was a continuing series of announcements that this or that difference had been found. One early researcher, for instance, claimed to have isolated a substance from the urine of schizophrenics that made spiders weave cockeyed webs. Another group thought that the blood of schizophrenics contained a faulty metabolite of adrenaline that caused hallucinations. Still another proposed that the disease was caused by a vitamin deficiency. Such developments made great newspaper stories, which generally hinted, or predicted outright, that the enigma of schizophrenia had finally been solved. Unfortunately, in light of close scrutiny none of the discoveries held water” (p. 172).
(35) 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.
(36) In The New Harvard Guide to Psychiatry, published in 1988, Seymour S. Kety, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience in Psychiatry, and Steven Matthysse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychobiology, both of Harvard Medical School, say “an impartial reading of the recent literature does not provide the hoped-for clarification of the catecholamine hypotheses, nor does compelling evidence emerge for other biological differences that may characterize the brains of patients with mental disease” (Harvard University Press, p. 148).
(37) Belief in biological causes of so-called mental illness, including schizophrenia, comes not from science but from wishful thinking or from desire to avoid coming to terms with the experiential/environmental causes of people’s misbehavior or distress. The repeated failure of efforts to find biological causes of so-called schizophrenia suggests “schizophrenia” belongs only in the category of socially/culturally unacceptable thinking or behavior rather than in the category of biology or “disease” where many people place it.
A BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF SCHITZOPHRENIA HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN. DISCUSS.
The Myth of Biological Depression. Lawrence Stevens:
(38) Unhappiness or “depression” alleged to be the result of biological abnormality is called “biological” or “endogenous” or “clinical” depression. In her book The Broken Brain: The Biological Revolution in Psychiatry, University of Iowa psychiatry professor Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., says “The older term endogenous implies that the depression `grows from within’ or is biologically caused, with the implication that unfortunate and painful events such as losing a job or lover cannot be considered contributing causes” (Harper & Row, 1984, p. 203). Similarly, in 1984 in the Chicago Tribune newspaper columnist Joan Beck alleged: “depressive disorders are basically biochemical – and not caused by events or environmental circumstances or personal relationships” (July 30, 1984, Sec. 1, p. 16).
(39) The concept of biological or endogenous depression is important to psychiatry for two reasons. First, it is the most common supposed mental illness. As Victor I. Reus, M.D., wrote in 1988: “The history of the diagnosis and treatment of melancholia could serve as a history of psychiatry itself” (appearing in: H. H. Goldman, editor, Review of General Psychiatry, 2nd Edition, Appleton & Lange, 1988, p. 332). Second, all of psychiatry’s biological “treatments” for depression – whether it is drugs, electroshock, or psychosurgery – are based on the idea that the unhappiness we call depression can be caused by a biological malfunction rather than life experience. The erroneous belief in biological causation justifies the otherwise unjustifiable use of biological therapies. And the biological therapies justify the existence of psychiatry as a medical specialty distinguishable from psychology or counselling.
(40) Many professional and lay people today think depression can be caused by “chemical imbalance” in the brain even though none of the “chemical imbalance” theories of depression have been verified. Some of them are discussed by Dr. Andreasen in her book The Broken Brain.
(41) One of the theories she describes is the belief that “depression” (what I think should be called simply unhappiness or severe unhappiness) is the result of neuroendocrine abnormalities indicated by excessive cortisol in the blood. The test for this is called the dexamethasone-suppression test or DST. The theory behind this test and the claims of its usefulness were found to be mistaken, however, because, in Dr. Andreasen’s words, “so many patients with well-defined depressive illness have normal DSTs” (pp. 180-182). An article in the July 1984 Harvard Medical School Health Letter reached a similar conclusion. The article, titled “Diagnosing Depression: How Good is the `DST’?”, reported that “For every three office patients with an abnormal DST, only one is likely to have true depression. … [And] a large fraction of people who are depressed by other criteria will still have normal results on the DST” (p. 5). Similarly, in an article in the November 1983 Archives of Internal Medicine three physicians concluded that “Data from studies currently available do not support the use of the dexamethasone ST [Suppression Test]” (Martin F. Shapiro, M.D., et al., “Biases in the Laboratory Diagnosis of Depression in Medical Practice”, Vol. 143, p. 2085). In 1993 in her book If It Runs In Your Family: Depression, Connie S. Chan, Ph.D., acknowledges that “There is still no valid biological test for depression” (Bantam Books, p. 106). But despite its having been discredited, some biologically oriented psychiatrists are (apparently) so eager for biological explanations for people’s unhappiness or “depression” that they continue to use the DST anyway. For example, in his book The Good News About Depression, published in 1986, psychiatrist Mark S. Gold, M.D., says he continues to use the DST. In that book Dr. Gold claims the DST is “highly touted as the diagnostic test for biologic depression” (Bantam, p. 155, emphasis in original).
(42) In The Broken Brain, Dr. Andreasen also describes what she calls “the most widely accepted theory about the cause of depression…the “catecholamine hypothesis.” She emphasizes that “the catecholamine hypothesis is theory rather than fact” (p. 231). She says “This hypothesis suggests that patients suffering from depression have a deficit of norepinephrine in the brain” (p. 183), norepinephrine being one of the “major catecholamine systems” in the brain (pp. 231-232). One way the catecholamine hypothesis is evaluated is by studying one of the breakdown products of norepinephrine, called MHPG, in urine. People with so-called depressive illness “tended to have lower MHPG” (p. 234). The problem with this theory, according to Dr. Andreasen, is that “not all patients with depression have low MHPG” (ibid). She accordingly concludes that this catecholamine hypothesis “has not yet explained the mechanism causing depression” (p. 184).
(43) Another theory is that severe unhappiness (“depression”) is caused by lowered levels or abnormal use of another brain chemical, serotonin. A panel of experts assembled by the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment reported in 1992 that “Prominent hypotheses concerning depression have focused on altered function of the group of neurotransmitters called monoamines (i.e., norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, particularly norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin. … studies of the NE [norepinephrine] autoreceptor in depression have found no specific evidence of an abnormality to date. Currently, no clear evidence links abnormal serotonin receptor activity in the brain to depression. … the data currently available do not provide consistent evidence either for altered neurotransmitter levels or for disruption of normal receptor activity” (The Biology of Mental Disorders, U.S. Gov’t Printing Office, 1992, pp. 82 & 84).
(43) Even if it was shown there is some biological change or abnormality “associated” with depression, the question would remain whether this is a cause or an effect of the “depression”. 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). Other research will probably confirm it is emotions that cause biological changes in the brain rather than biological changes in the brain causing emotions.
(44) One of the more popular theories of biologically caused depression has been hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar. In his book Fighting Depression, published in 1976, Harvey M. Ross, M.D., said “In my experience as an orthomolecular psychiatrist, I find that many patients who complain of depression have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). … Because depression is so common in those with hypoglycemia, any person who is depressed without a clear cut obvious cause for that depression should be suspected of having low blood sugar” (Larchmont Books, p. 76 & 93). But in their book Do You Have A Depressive Illness?, published in 1988, psychiatrists Donald Klein, M.D., and Paul Wender, M.D., list hypoglycemia in a section titled “Illnesses That Don’t Cause Depression” (Plume, p. 61). The idea of hypoglycemia as a cause of depression was also rejected in the front page article of the November 1979 Harvard Medical School Health Letter, titled “Hypoglycemia – Fact or Fiction?”
(45) Another theory of a physical disease causing psychological unhappiness or “depression” is hypothyroidism. In her book Can Psychotherapists Hurt You? psychologist Judi Striano, Ph.D., includes a chapter titled “Is It Depression – Or An Underactive Thyroid?” (Professional Press, 1988). Similarly, three psychiatry professors in 1988 asserted “Frank hypothyroidism has long been known to cause depression” (Alan I. Green, M.D., et al., The New Harvard Guide to Psychiatry, Harvard Univ. Press, 1988, p. 135). The theory here is that the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck, normally secretes hormones which reach the brain through the bloodstream necessary for a feeling of psychological well being and that if the thyroid produces too little of these hormones, the affected person can start feeling unhappy even if no problems result from the endocrine (gland) problem other than the unhappiness. The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine lists many symptoms of hypothyroidism: “muscle weakness, cramps, a slow heart rate, dry and flaky skin, hair loss … there may be weight gain” (Random House, 1989, p. 563). The Encyclopedia does not list unhappiness or “depression” as one of the consequences of hypothyroidism. But suppose you began to experience “muscle weakness, cramps…dry and flaky skin, hair loss … weight gain”? How would this make you feel emotionally? – depressed, probably. Just as hypothyroidism (hypo = low) is a thyroid gland that produces too little, hyperthyroidism is a thyroid glad that produces too much. Therefore, if hypothyroidism causes depression, then it seems logical to assume hyperthyroidism has the opposite effect, that is, that it makes a person happy. But this is not what happens. As psychiatrist Mark S. Gold, M.D., points out in his book The Good News About Depression: “Depression occurs in hyperthyroidism, too” (p. 150). What are the consequences of hyperthyroidism?: Dr. Gold lists abundant sweating, fatigue, soft moist skin, heart palpitations, frequent bowel movements, muscular weakness, and protruding eyeballs. So both hypo- and hyper- thyroidism cause physical problems in the body. And both cause “depression”. This is only logical. It is hard to feel anything but bad emotionally when your body doesn’t feel well or work properly. It has never been proved hypothyroidism affects mood other than through its effect on the victim’s experience of feeling physically unhealthy.
(46) Some people think chemical imbalance related to hormonal changes must be a possible cause of “depression” because of the supposed biological causes of women’s moods at different times of their menstrual cycles. I don’t find that argument convincing, because I’ve known so many women whose mood and state of mind was consistently unaffected by her menstrual cycle. Psychology professor David G. Myers, Ph.D., labels premenstrual syndrome (PMS) a myth in his book The Pursuit of Happiness (William Morrow & Co., 1992, pp. 84-85). Of course, some women experience physical discomfort due to menstruation. Feeling lousy physically is enough to put anybody in a bad mood.
(47) Some people believe women experience undesirable mood changes for biological reasons because of menopause. However, a study by psychologists at University of Pittsburgh reported in 1990 found that “Menopause usually doesn’t trigger stress or depression in healthy women, and it even improves mental health for some”. According to Rena Wing, one of the psychologists who did the study, “Everyone expects menopause to be a stressful event, but we didn’t find any support for this myth” (“Menopausal stress may be a myth”, USA Today, July 16, 1990, p. 1D).
(48) It is also widely believed that women go through a period of depression for biological reasons after giving birth to a child. It’s called postpartum depression. In his book The Making of a Psychiatrist, Dr. David Viscott quotes Dr. George Maslow, a physician doing an obstetrical residency, making the following remark: “Come on, Viscott, do you really believe in postpartum depression? I’ve seen maybe two in the last three years. I think it’s a lot of shit you guys [you psychiatrists] imagined to drum up business” (Pocket Books, 1972, p. 88). A woman who had given birth to eight (8) children, which in my opinion qualifies her as an expert on the subject of postpartum depression, told me what she called “postpartum blues” are real, but she attributed postpartum blues to psychological rather than physiological causes. “I don’t know about the physiological causes”, she said, but “so much of it is psychological.” She said “You feel awful about your looks”, because in our society a woman is “supposed” to be thin, and for at least a short time after giving birth a woman just isn’t. She also said after childbirth a woman feels considerable “physical exhaustion”. Childbirth also is the beginning of new or increased parental obligations, which if we are honest we must admit are quite burdensome. The arrival of new or additional parental obligations and the realization of the negative ways new or additional parenthood obligations will affect a woman’s (or man’s) life is an obvious non-biological explanation for postpartum depression. It may not be until the actual birth of the child that parents realize how parenthood changes their lives for the worse, but a letter from a female friend of mine who at the time was only three months pregnant with her first child illustrates that depression associated with childbirth may come long before the postpartum period: She said she was frequently breaking down in tears because she thought with a child her life would never the same and that she would be a “prisoner” and wouldn’t have time to do what she wanted in life. A reason these psychological causes are often not candidly acknowledged and postpartum (or pre-partum) blues instead attributed to unproven biological causes is our reluctance to admit the downside of parenthood.
(49) Another theory of biologically caused depression is based on stroke damage in the left front region of the brain causing depression. What makes it seem possible this might be neurologically caused rather than being a reaction to the situation a person finds himself in because of having had a stroke is stroke damage in the right front of the brain allegedly causing “undue cheerfulness.” However, a careful reading of books and articles about neurology for the most part doesn’t support the allegation of undue cheerfulness from right front brain damage. Instead, what most neurological literature indicates sometimes results from right front stroke-related brain damage is anosagnosia, usually described as lack of concern or inability to know their own problems, not happiness or cheerfulness (e.g., Dr. Oliver Sacks in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales, Harper & Row, 1985, p. 5).
(50) Perhaps the most often heard argument is that antidepressant drugs wouldn’t work if the cause of depression was not biological. But antidepressant drugs don’t work. As psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., said in 1994, “there’s no evidence that antidepressants are especially effective” (Talking Back to Prozac, St. Martin’s Press, p. 200). In studies placebos often do as well. Even if so-called antidepressants did help, that wouldn’t prove a biological cause of “depression” any more than would feeling better from taking marijuana or cocaine or drinking liquor.
(51) A careful reading of the books and articles by psychiatrists and psychologists alleging biological causes of the severe unhappiness we call depression usually reveals purely psychological causes that explain it adequately, even when the author believes he has given a good example of biologically caused depression. For example, in Holiday of Darkness: A Psychologist’s Personal Journey Out of His Depression (John Wiley & Sons, 1982), an autobiographical book by York University psychology professor Norman S. Endler, Ph.D., he alleges his unhappiness or so-called depression “was biochemically induced” (p. xiv). He says “my affective disorder was primarily biochemical and physiological” (p. 162). But from his own words it’s obvious his depression was due primarily to unreturned love when a woman he got emotionally involved with, Ann, decided to “wind down” her relationship with him (pp. 2-5) and when he suffered a career setback (loss of a research grant) at about the same time (p. 23). Despite his claims of biochemical causation, nowhere does he cite any medical or biological tests showing he had any kind of biological, biochemical, or neurological abnormalities. He can’t, because no valid biological test exists that tests for the presence of any so-called mental illness, including allegedly biologically caused unhappiness (or “depression”). Similarly, in The Broken Brain, psychiatry professor Nancy Andreasen gives the example of Bill, a pediatrician, whose recurrent depression she thinks illustrates that “People who suffer from mental illness suffer from a sick or broken brain [emphasis Andreasen’s], not from weak will, laziness, bad character, or bad upbringing” (p. 8). But she seems to overlook the fact that Bill’s allegedly biologically caused recurrent depressions occurred when his father died, when he was not permitted to graduate from medical school on schedule, when his first wife was diagnosed with cancer and died, when his second wife was unfaithful to him, when he was arrested for public intoxication during an argument with her and this was reported in the local newspaper, and when his license to practice medicine was suspended because of stigma from psychiatric “treatment” he received (pp. 2-7).
(52) One of the reasons for theorizing about biological causes of severe unhappiness or “depression” is sometimes people are unhappy for reasons that aren’t apparent, even to them. The reason this happens is what psychoanalysts call the unconscious: “Freud’s investigations shocked the Western world … Comparing the mind to an iceberg, largely submerged and invisible, he told us that the greater part of the mind is irrational and unconscious, with only the tip of the preconscious and conscious showing above the surface. He maintained that the larger, unconscious part – much of it sexual – is more important in guiding our lives than the rational part, even though we deceive ourselves into believing it is the other way around” (Ladas, et al., The G Spot And Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1982, pp. 6-7). In An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis, Charles Brenner, M.D., says “the majority of mental functioning goes on without consciousness… We believe today that…mental operations which are decisive in determining the behavior of the individual…even complex and decisive ones – may be quite unconscious” (Int’l Univ. Press, 1955, p. 24). A news magazine article in 1990 reported that “Scientists studying normal rather than impaired subjects are also finding evidence that the mind is composed of specialized processors that operate below the conscious level. …Freud appears to have been correct about the existence of a vast unconscious realm” (U.S. News & World Report, October 22, 1990, pp. 60-63). People’s unhappiness or so-called depression being caused by life experience is not always obvious, because the relevant mental processes and memories are often hidden in the unconscious parts of their minds.
(53) I believe unhappiness or so-called depression is always the result of life experience. There is no convincing evidence unhappiness or “depression” is ever biologically caused. The brain is part of our biology, but there is no evidence severe unhappiness or “depression” is sometimes biologically caused any more than bad TV programs are sometimes electronically caused. “The question is not how to get cured, but how to live” (Joseph Conrad, quoted by Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Psychotherapy, Syracuse Univ. Press, 1988, title page). “When mental health professionals point to spurious genetic and biochemical causes,” of depression and recommend drugs rather than learning better ways of living, “they encourage psychological helplessness and discourage personal and social growth” of the sort needed to really avoid unhappiness or “depression” and live a meaningful and happy life (Peter Breggin, M.D., “Talking Back to Prozac” Psychology Today magazine, July/Aug 1994, p. 72).
ENDOGENOUS DEPRESSION AND MANIC-DEPRESSIVE DISEASE.
“Biochemical Theories The biogenic monoamines (norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine) are the key elements in these theories. … However, the aforementioned CSF [cerebro-spinal fluid] findings have not been consistent; in some patients with depressive illness, the CSF concentrations of bioamine metabolites are entirely normal. Most of the neurochemical theories of depression have been the result of reasoning backwards from the known effects antidepressants on various neurotransmitters. …serotonin and its pathways are currently most strongly implicated in the genesis of depression; however, the reader should be reminded that only a decade ago it was widely held that depletion of norepinephrine fulfilled this role.
“The biogenic amine hypothesis … leaves several fundamental questions unanswered. … Why are the therapeutic results so inconsistent with the use of tricyclic antidepressants, the MAO inhibitors, and the serotonin reuptake inhibitors, all of which should favorably influence the balance of biogenic amines at the proper receptor sites? And why are the clinical effects of these drugs delayed for weeks while the biochemical reactions are almost immediate? … At the present time, it must be conceded that there is no reliable biologic test for depression.
Psychosocial theories … Among patients with primary depressive disorders, life events of a stressful nature were found to have occurred more frequently in the months preceding the onset of depression than in matched control groups. In the study of Thomson and Hendrie, this was equally true of patients with a positive family history of depression and those without such a history. Nor did patients with endogenous depression differ in this respect from those with reactive depression.” (In other words, even people with supposedly endogenous depression had good reason, in terms of life-experience, to feel despondent or “depressed”). Maurice Victor, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Neurology, Dartmouth Medical School; and Allan H. Ropper, M.D., Professor and Chairman of Neurology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Adams and Victor’s Principles of Neurology – Seventh Edition, McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division, New York, 2001, pp. 1616-1618.
A BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF DEPRESSION AS NOT BEEN PROVED. DISCUSS.
LIFE EVENTS OF A STRESSFUL NATURE TRIGGER DEPRESSION.
PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS: Cure or Quackery? Lawrence Stevens:
Psychiatric drugs are worthless, and most of them are harmful. Many cause permanent brain damage at the doses customarily given. Psychiatric drugs and the profession that promotes them are dangers to your health.
The Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry/IV, published in 1985, says “The tricyclic-type drugs are the most effective class of anti-depressants” (Williams & Wilkins, p. 1520). But in his book Overcoming Depression, published in 1981, Dr. Andrew Stanway, a British physician, says “If anti-depressant drugs were really as effective as they are made out to be, surely hospital admission rates for depression would have fallen over the twenty years they’ve been available. Alas, this has not happened. … Many trials have found that tricyclics are only marginally more effective than placebos, and some have even found that they are not as effective as dummy tablets” (Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd., p. 159-160). In his textbook Electroconvulsive Therapy, Richard Abrams, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Chicago Medical School, explains the reason for the 1988 edition of his book updating the edition published 6 years earlier: “During these six years interest in ECT has bourgeoned. … What is responsible for this volte-face in American psychiatry? Disenchantment with the antidepressants, perhaps. None has been found that is therapeutically superior to imipramine [a tricyclic], now over 30 years old, and the more recently introduced compounds are often either less effective or more toxic than the older drugs, or both” (Oxford Univ. Press, p. xi). In this book, Dr. Abrams says “despite manufacturers’ claims, no significant progress in the pharmacological treatment of depression has occurred since the introduction of imipramine in 1958” (p. 7). In the Foreword to this book, Max Fink, M.D., a psychiatry professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, says the reason for increased use of electroconvulsive “therapy” (ECT) as a treatment for depression is what he calls “Disappointment with the efficacy of psychotropic drugs” (p. vii). In his book Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain, published in 1983, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., asserts: “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). An article in the February 7, 1994 Newsweek magazine says that “Prozac…and its chemical cousins Zoloft and Paxil are no more effective than older treatments for depression” (p. 41). Most of the people I have talked to who have taken so-called antidepressants, including Prozac, say the drug didn’t work for them. This casts doubt on the often made claim that 60% or more of the people who take supposedly antidepressant drugs benefit from them.
Lithium is said to be helpful for people whose mood repeatedly changes from joyful to despondent and back again. Psychiatrists call this manic-depressive disorder or bipolar mood disorder. Lithium was first described as a psychiatric drug in 1949 by an Australian psychiatrist, John Cade. According to a psychiatric textbook: “While conducting animal experiments, Cade had somewhat incidentally noted that lithium made the animals lethargic, thus prompting him to administer this drug to several agitated psychiatric patients.” The textbook describes this as “a pivotal moment in the history of psychopharmacology” (Harold I. Kaplan, M.D. & Benjamin J. Sadock, M.D., Clinical Psychiatry, Williams & Wilkins, 1988, p. 342). However, if you don’t want to be lethargic, taking lithium would seem to be of dubious benefit. A supporter of lithium as psychiatric therapy admits lithium causes “a mildly depressed, generally lethargic feeling”. He calls it “the standard lethargy” caused by lithium (Roger Williams, “A Hasty Decision? Coping in the Aftermath of a Manic-Depressive Episode”, American Health magazine, October 1991, p. 20). Similarly, one of my relatives was diagnosed as manic-depressive and was given a prescription for lithium carbonate. He told me, years later, “Lithium insulated me from the highs but not from the lows.” It should be no surprise a lethargy-inducing drug like lithium would have this effect. Amazingly, psychiatrists sometimes claim lithium wards off feelings of depression even though, if anything, lethargy-inducing drugs like lithium (like most psychiatric drugs) promote feelings of despondency and unhappiness – even if they are called antidepressants.
MINOR TRANQUILIZER/ANTI-ANXIETY DRUGS.
Among the most widely used psychiatric drugs are the ones called minor tranquilizers, including Valium, Librium, Xanax, and Halcion. Doctors who prescribe them say they have calming, anti-anxiety, panic-suppressing effects or are useful as sleeping pills. Anyone who believes these claims should go to the nearest library and read the article “High Anxiety” in the January 1993 Consumer Reports magazine, or read Chapter 11 in Toxic Psychiatry (St. Martin’s Press, 1991), by psychiatrist Peter Breggin, both of which allege the opposite is closer to the truth. Like all or almost all psychiatric drugs, the so-called minor tranquilizers don’t cure anything but are merely brain-disabling drugs. In one clinical trial, 70 percent of persons taking Halcion “developed memory loss, depression and paranoia” (“Halcion manufacturer Upjohn Co. defends controversial sleeping drug”, Miami Herald, December 17, 1991, p. 13A). According to the February 17, 1992 Newsweek, “Four countries have banned the drug outright” (p. 58). In his book Toxic Psychiatry, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, speaking of the minor tranquilizers, says “As with most psychiatric drugs, the use of the medication eventually causes an increase of the very symptoms that the drug is supposed to ameliorate” (ibid, p. 246).
PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS VERSUS SLEEP: SLEEP DISTINGUISHED FROM DRUG-INDUCED UNCONSCIOUSNESS.
Contrary to the claim major and minor tranquilizers and so-called antidepressants are useful as sleeping pills, their real effect is to inhibit or block real sleep. When I sat in on a psychiatry class with a medical student friend, the professor told us “Research has shown we do not need to sleep, but we do need to dream.” The dream phase of sleep is the critical part. Most psychiatric drugs, including those promoted as sleeping medications or tranquilizers, inhibit this critical dream-phase of sleep, inducing a state that looks like sleep but actually is a dreamless unconscious state – not sleep. Sleep, in other words, is an important mental activity that is impaired or stopped by most psychiatric drugs. A self-help magazine advises: “Do not take sleeping pills unless under doctor’s orders, and then for no more than 10 consecutive nights. Besides losing their effectiveness and becoming addictive, sleep-inducing medications reduce or prevent the dream-stage of sleep necessary for mental health” (Going Bonkers? magazine, premiere issue, p. 75). In The Brain Book, University of Rhode Island professor Peter Russell, Ph.D., says “During sleep, particularly during dreaming periods, proteins and other chemicals in the brain used up during the day are replenished” (Plume, 1979, p. 76). Sleep deprivation experiments on normal people show loss of sleep causes hallucinations if continued long enough (Maya Pines, The Brain Changers, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973, p. 105). So what would seem to be the consequences of taking drugs that inhibit or block real sleep?
MAJOR TRANQUILIZER/NERUOLEPTIC/ANTI-PSYCHOTIC/ ANTI-SCHIZOPHRENIC DRUGS.
Even as harmful as psychiatry’s (so-called) antidepressants and lithium and (so-called) antianxiety agents (or minor tranquilizers) are, they are nowhere near as damaging as the so-called major tranquilizers, sometimes also called “antipsychotic” or “antischizophrenic” or “neuroleptic” drugs. Included in this category are Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Mellaril, Prolixin (fluphenazine), Compazine, Stelazine, and Haldol (haloperidol) – and many others. In terms of their psychological effects, these so-called major tranquilizers cause misery – not tranquility. They physically, neurologically blot out most of a person’s ability to think and act, even at commonly given doses. By disabling people, they can stop almost any thinking or behavior the “therapist” wants to stop. But this is simply disabling people, not therapy. The drug temporarily disables or permanently destroys good aspects of a person’s personality as much as bad. Whether and to what extent the disability imposed by the drug can be removed by discontinuing the drug depends on how long the drug is given and at how great a dose. The so-called major tranquilizer/ antipsychotic/neuroleptic drugs damage the brain more clearly, severely, and permanently than any others used in psychiatry. Joyce G. Small, M.D., and Iver F. Small, M.D., both Professors of Psychiatry at Indiana University, criticize psychiatrists who use “psychoactive medications that are known to have neurotoxic effects”, and speak of “the increasing recognition of long-lasting and sometimes irreversible impairments in brain function induced by neuroleptic drugs. In this instance the evidence of brain damage is not subtle, but is grossly obvious even to the casual observer!” (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, March 1984, Vol. 7, p. 34).
According to Conrad M. Swartz, Ph.D., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Chicago Medical School, “While neuroleptics relieve psychotic anxiety, their tranquilization blunts fine details of personality, including initiative, emotional reactivity, enthusiasm, sexiness, alertness, and insight. … This is in addition to side effects, usually involuntary movements which can be permanent and are hence evidence of brain damage” (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, March 1984, Vol. 7, pp. 37-38). A report in 1985 in the Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter indicates courts in the United States have finally begun to consider involuntary administration of the so-called major tranquilizer/antipsychotic/neuroleptic drugs to involve First Amendment rights “Because…antipsychotic drugs have the capacity to severely and even permanently affect an individual’s ability to think and communicate” (“Involuntary medication claims go forward”, January-February 1985, p. 26 – emphasis added). In Molecules of the Mind: The Brave New Science of Molecular Psychology, Professor Jon Franklin observed: “This era coincided with an increasing awareness that the neuroleptics not only did not cure schizophrenia – they actually caused damage to the brain. Suddenly, the psychiatrists who used them, already like their patients on the fringes of society, were suspected of Nazism and worse” (Dell Pub. Co., 1987, p. 103). In his book Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., alleges that by using drugs that cause brain damage, “Psychiatry has unleashed an epidemic of neurological disease on the world” one which “reaches 1 million to 2 million persons a year” (op. cit., pp. 109 & 108). In severe cases, brain damage from neuroleptic drugs is evidenced by abnormal body movements called tardive dyskinesia. However, tardive dyskinesia is only the tip of the iceberg of neuroleptic caused brain damage. Higher mental functions are more vulnerable and are impaired before the elementary functions of the brain such as motor control. Psychiatry professor Richard Abrams, M.D., has acknowledged that “Tardive dyskinesia has now been reported to occur after only brief courses of neuroleptic drug therapy” (in: Benjamin B. Wolman (editor), The Therapist’s Handbook: Treatment Methods of Mental Disorders, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1976, p. 25). In his book The New Psychiatry, published in 1985, Columbia University psychiatry professor Jerrold S. Maxmen, M.D., alleges: “The best way to avoid tardive dyskinesia is to avoid antipsychotic drugs altogether. Except for treating schizophrenia, they should never be used for more than two or three consecutive months. What’s criminal is that all too many patients receive antipsychotics who shouldn’t” (Mentor, pp. 155-156). In fact, Dr. Maxmen doesn’t go far enough. His characterization of administration of the so-called antipsychotic/anti-schizophrenic/major tranquilizer/neuroleptic drugs as “criminal” is accurate for all people, including those called schizophrenic, even when the drugs aren’t given long enough for the resulting brain damage to show up as tardive dyskinesia. The author of the Preface of a book by four physicians published in 1980, Tardive Dyskinesia: Research & Treatment, made these remarks: “In the late 1960s I summarized the literature on tardive dyskinesia … The majority of psychiatrists either ignored the existence of the problem or made futile efforts to prove that these motor abnormalities were clinically insignificant or unrelated to drug therapy. In the meantime the number of patients affected by tardive dyskinesia increased and the symptoms became worse in those already afflicted by this condition. … there are few investigators or clinicians who still have doubts about the iatrogenic [physician caused] nature of tardive dyskinesia. … It is evident that the more one learns about the toxic effects of neuroleptics on the central nervous system, the more one sees an urgent need to modify our current practices of drug use. It is unfortunate that many practitioners continue to prescribe psychotropics in excessive amounts, and that a considerable number of mental institutions have not yet developed a policy regarding the management and prevention of tardive dyskinesia. If this book, which reflects the opinions of the experts in this field, can make a dent in the complacency of many psychiatrists, it will be no small accomplishment” (in: William E. Fann, M.D., et al., Tardive Dyskinesia: Research & Treatment, SP Medical & Scientific). In Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., says this: “The major tranquilizers are highly toxic drugs; they are poisonous to various organs of the body. They are especially potent neurotoxins, and frequently produce permanent damage to the brain. … tardive dyskinesia can develop in low-dose, short-term usage… the dementia [loss of higher mental functions] associated with the tardive dyskinesia is not usually reversible. … Seldom have I felt more saddened or more dismayed than by psychiatry’s neglect of the evidence that it is causing irreversible lobotomy effects, psychosis, and dementia in millions of patients as a result of treatment with the major tranquilizers”(op. cit., pp. 70, 107, 135, 146).
Psychiatry professor Richard Abrams, M.D., has pointed out that “Tricyclic Antidepressants…are minor chemical modifications of chlorpromazine [Thorazine] and were introduced as potential neuroleptics” (in: B. Wolman, The Therapist’s Handbook, op. cit., p. 31). In his book Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain, Dr. Breggin calls the so-called antidepressants “Major Tranquilizers in Disguise” (p. 166). Psychiatrist Mark S. Gold, M.D., has said antidepressants can cause tardive dyskinesia (The Good News About Depression, Bantam, 1986, p. 259).
Why do the so-called patients accept such “medication”? Sometimes they do so out of ignorance about the neurological damage to which they are subjecting themselves by following their psychiatrist’s advice to take the “medication”. But much if not most of the time, neuroleptic drugs are literally forced into the bodies of the “patients” against their wills. In his book Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., says “Time and again in my clinical experience I have witnessed patients driven to extreme anguish and outrage by having major tranquilizers forced on them. … The problem is so great in routine hospital practice that a large percentage of patients have to be threatened with forced intramuscular injection before they will take the drugs” (p. 45).
FORCED PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT COMPARED WITH RAPE.
Forced administration of a psychiatric drug (or a so-called treatment like electroshock) is a kind of tyranny that can be compared, physically and morally, with rape. Compare sexual rape and involuntarily administration of a psychiatric drug injected intramuscularly into the buttocks, which is the part of the anatomy where the injection usually is given: In both sexual rape and involuntary administration of a psychiatric drug, force is used. In both cases, the victim’s pants are pulled down. In both cases, a tube is inserted into the victim’s body against her (or his) will. In the case of sexual rape, the tube is a penis. In the case of what could be called psychiatric rape, the tube is a hypodermic needle. In both cases, a fluid is injected into the victim’s body against her or his will. In both cases it is in (or near) the derriere. In the case of sexual rape the fluid is semen. In the case of psychiatric rape, the fluid is Thorazine, Prolixin or some other brain-disabling drug. The fact of bodily invasion is similar in both cases if not (for reasons I’ll explain) actually worse in the case of psychiatric rape. So is the sense of outrage in the mind of the victim of each type of assault. As psychiatry professor Thomas Szasz once said, “violence is violence, regardless of whether it is called psychiatric illness or psychiatric treatment.” Some who are not “hospitalized” (that is, imprisoned) are forced to report to a doctor’s office for injections of a long-acting neuroleptic like Prolixin every two weeks by the threat of imprisonment (“hospitalization”) and forced injection of the drug if they don’t comply.
Why is psychiatric rape worse than sexual rape? As brain surgeon I. S. Cooper, M.D., said in his autobiography: “It is your brain that sees, feels, thinks, commands, responds. You are your brain. It is you. Transplanted into another carrier, another body, your brain would supply it with your memories, your thoughts, your emotions. It would still be you. The new body would be your container. It would carry you around. Your brain is you” (The Vital Probe: My Life as a Brain Surgeon, W.W. Norton & Co., 1982, p. 50-emphasis in original). The most essential and most intimate part of you is not what is between your legs but what is between your ears. An assault on a person’s brain such as involuntary administration of a brain-disabling or brain-damaging “treatment” (such as a psychoactive drug or electroshock or psychosurgery) is a more intimate and morally speaking more horrible crime than sexual rape. Psychiatric rape is in moral terms a worse crime than sexual rape for another reason, also: The involuntary administration of psychiatry’s biological “therapies” cause permanent impairment of brain function. In contrast, women usually are still fully sexually functional after being sexually raped. They suffer psychological harm, but so do the victims of psychiatric assault. I hope I will not be understood as belittling the trauma or wrongness of sexual rape if I point out that I have counselled sexually raped women in my law practice and that each of the half-dozen or so women I have known who have been sexually raped have gone on to have apparently normal sexual relationships, and in most cases marriages and families. In contrast, the brains of people subjected to psychiatric assault often are not as fully functional because of the physical, biological harm done by the “treatment”. On a TV talk show in 1990, psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., said he hopes those responsible for such “therapies” will one day face “Nurnburg trials” (Geraldo, Nov. 30, 1990).
BRAIN-DAMAGING PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS ARE INFLICTED ON NURSING HOME RESIDENTS.
These very same brain-damaging (so-called) neuroleptic/antipsychotic drugs are routinely administered – involuntarily – to mentally healthy old people in nursing homes in the United States. According to an article in the September/October 1991 issue of In-Health magazine, “In nursing homes, antipsychotics are used on anywhere from 21 to 44 percent of the institutionalized elderly… half of the antipsychotics prescribed for nursing home residents could not be explained by the diagnosis in the patient’s chart. Researchers suspect the drugs are commonly used by such institutions as chemical straightjackets – a means of pacifying unruly patients” (p. 28). I know of two examples of feeble old men in nursing homes who were barely able to get out of their wheelchairs who were given a neuroleptic/antipsychotic drug. One complained because he was strapped into a wheelchair to prevent his attempts to try to walk with his cane. The other was strapped into his bed at night to prevent him from getting up and falling when going to the bathroom, necessitating defecating in his bed. Both were so physically disabled they posed no danger to anyone. But both dared complain bitterly about how they were mistreated. In both cases the nursing home staffs responded to these complaints with injections of Haldol – mentally disabling these men, thereby making it impossible for them to complain. The use of these damaging drugs on nursing home residents who are not considered to have psychiatric problems shows that their real purpose is control, not therapy. Therapeutic claims for neuroleptic drugs are rationalizations without factual support.
SUPPOSEDLY “DOUBLE-BLIND” PSYCHIATRIC DRUG STUDIES ARE BIASED.
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.
MODES OF ACTION: UNKNOWN.
Despite various unverified theories and claims, psychiatrists don’t know how the drugs they use work biologically. In the words of Columbia University psychiatry professor Jerrold S. Maxmen, M.D.: “How psychotropic drugs work is not clear” (The New Psychiatry, Mentor, 1985, p. 143). Experience has shown that the effect of all of today’s commonly used psychiatric drugs is to disable the brain in a generalized way. None of today’s psychiatric drugs have the specificity (e.g., for depression or anxiety or psychosis) that is often claimed for them.
LIKE TAKING INSULIN FOR DIABETES?
It is often asserted that taking a psychiatric drug is like taking insulin for diabetes. Although psychiatric drugs are taken continuously, as is insulin – it’s an absurd analogy. Diabetes is a disease with a known physical cause. No physical cause has been found for any of today’s so-called mental illnesses. The mode of action of insulin is known: It is a hormone that instructs or causes cells to uptake dietary glucose (sugar). In contrast, the modes of action of psychiatry’s drugs are unknown – although advocates of psychiatric drugs as well as critics theorize they prevent normal brain functioning by blocking neuroreceptors in the brain. If this theory is correct it is another contrast between taking insulin and taking a psychiatric drug: Insulin restores a normal biological function, namely, normal glucose (or sugar) metabolism. Psychiatric drugs interfere with a normal biological function, namely, normal neuroreceptor functioning. Insulin is a hormone that is found naturally in the body. Psychiatry’s drugs are not normally found in the body. Insulin gives a diabetic’s body a capability it would not have in the absence of insulin, namely, the ability to metabolize dietary sugar normally. Psychiatric drugs have an opposite kind of effect: They take away (mental) capabilities the person would have in the absence of the drug. Insulin affects the body rather than mind. Psychiatric drugs disable the brain and hence the mind, the mind being the essence of the real self.
“What is Schitzophrenia”. William C. Wirshing, M.D:
The following is an excerpt from “What is Schitzophrenia” by William C. Wirshing, M.D. … 3. Coincident with this observed antipsychotic effect [of Thorazine] was a curious neurotoxicity clinically indistinguishable from idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. They [the drug’s discoverers and developers] were, in fact, so impressed with this correlation that they suggested to their colleagues that patients be dosed to this ‘neuroleptic threshold.’ Thus, toxicity fell into a lockstep with efficacy in the minds of all clinicians and basic researchers who dealt with these molecules. The task that then fell to the basic researchers and the medicinal chemists was, ‘How does Thorazine work?’ The short answer to this question is that, even after a half century of toil, medical science is still not quite sure. … Unfortunately, even in 1997, there is no way to screen a drug preclinically (i.e., in animal or other nonhuman models) for antischizophrenic potency. It appears that the liability to get schizophrenia is uniquely human. The liability, however, to manifest parkinsonism, on the other hand, is shared by many mammalian species. Therefore, if the original clinical observation linking neurotoxicity (the parkinsonism) and antipsychotic efficacy was correct, then all one had to do is search for a molecule that induced neurotoxicity in animals. When given to humans, this would not only induce the neurotoxicity but would result in antipsychotic efficacy. And this is what was done, over and over again-nearly 250 molecules have been elaborated in roughly this fashion during the last half century. Said another way, these drugs were discovered and developed because they produce neurotoxicity in animals. This, therefore, is their primary effect. Clinicians exploit the fortuitous co-occurrence of the side effect of antipsychotic potency. It should be no surprise then that all available “conventional” antipsychotic cornpounds produce neurotoxicity – this is what they were designed to do. … 1) All conventional antipsychotic medications not only shared antipsychotic potential, they also shared neurotoxic liabilities – they are called, after all, ‘neuroleptics,’ which roughly translates as ‘neurotoxic.’ … So then, how does clozapine work? Again, no one knows the answer. [emphasis added].
The following statements are made 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):
Lithium: “The mechanism of action of lithium in the treatment of mania is not well determined.” (p. 57).
Valproate: “The mechanism of action of valproate is likely to be its augmentation of GABA function in the CNS [central nervous system].” (p. 58).
Carbamazepine: “The mechanism of action of carbamazepine in bipolar illness is unknown.” (p. 59).
Antidepressants: “Antidepressants are thought to exert their effects at particular subsets of neuronal synapses throughout the brain. … SSRIs [e.g., Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft] act by binding to presynaptic serotonin reuptake proteins … TCAs [TriCyclic Antidepressants] act by blocking presynaptic reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. MAOIs [Mono Amine Oxidase Inhibitors] act by inhibiting the presynaptic enzyme (monoamine oxidase) … These immediate mechanisms of action are not sufficient to explain the delayed antidepressant effects (typically 2 to 4 weeks). Other unknown mechanisms must play a role in the successful psychopharmacologic treatment of depression. … all antidepressants have roughly the same efficacy in treating depression … [Only] approximately 50% of patients who meet DSM-IV criteria for major depression will recover with a single adequate trial (at least 6 weeks at a therapeutic dosage) of an antidepressant.” (p. 54) .
There is now evidence SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft cause brain damage: In his book Prozac Backlash, published in 2000, Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says: “In recent years, the danger of long-term side effects has emerged in association with Prozac-type drugs, making it imperative to minimize one’s exposure to them. Neurological disorders including disfiguring facial and whole body tics, indicating potential brain damage, are an increasing concern with patients on the drugs. … With related drugs targeting serotonin, there is evidence that they may effect a ‘chemical lobotomy’ by destroying the nerve endings that they target in the brain” (p. 8). He compares brain damage that seems to be caused by SSRI antidepressants (including but not limited to Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft) to that caused by neuroleptic/major tranquilizer drugs like Thorazine, Prolixin, and Haldol. He presents evidence that the so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are not selective for serotonin but affect other chemicals in the brain, including dopamine.
“Most important, the myth of ‘accurate diagnosis’ severely narrows treatment options for many psychiatric problems and has contributed to the excessive use of medication prevalent in our country today.” Edward Drummond, M.D., Associate Medical Director at Seacoast Mental Health Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in his book The Complete Guide to Psychiatric Drugs (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 2000), page 6. Dr. Drummond graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine and was trained in psychiatry at Harvard University.
“Nothing has harmed the quality of individual life in modern society more than the misbegotten belief that human suffering is driven by biological and genetic causes and can be rectified by taking drugs or undergoing electroshock therapy. … If I wanted to ruin someone’s life, I would convince the person that that biological psychiatry is right – that relationships mean nothing, that choice is impossible, and that the mechanics of a broken brain reign over our emotions and conduct. If I wanted to impair an individual’s capacity to create empathetic, loving relationships, I would prescribe psychiatric drugs, all of which blunt our highest psychological and spiritual functions.” Peter R. Breggin, M.D., in the Foreward to Reality Therapy in Action by William Glasser, M.D. (Harper Collins, 2000), p. xi (underline added).
The Case Against Psychotherapy. Lawrence Stevens:
“What we need are more kindly friends and fewer professionals.” – Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., his book Against Therapy (Atheneum, 1988, p. XV)
The best person to talk with about your problems in life usually is a good friend. It has been said, “Therapists are expensive friends.” Likewise, friends are inexpensive “therapists”. Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to propaganda by mental health professionals, the training of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals does little or nothing to make them better equipped as counselors or “therapists”. It might seem logical for formal credentials like a Ph.D. in psychology or a psychiatrist’s M.D. or D.O. degree or a social worker’s M.S.W. degree to suggest a certain amount of competence on his or her part. The truth, however, is more often the opposite: In general, the less a person who is offering his or her services as a counselor has in the way of formal credentials, the more likely he or she is to be a good counselor, since such a counselor has only competence (not credentials) to stand on. Generally, the best person for you to talk with is a person who has worked himself or herself through the same problems you face in the nitty-gritty of life. You usually will benefit if you avoid the “professionals” who claim their value comes from their years of academic study or professional training.
When I asked a licensed social worker with a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree who shortly before had been employed in a psychiatric hospital whether she thought the psychiatrists she worked with had any special insight into people or their problems her answer was a resounding no. I asked the same question of a judge who had extensive experience with psychiatrists in his courtroom, and he gave me the same answer and made the point just as emphatically. Similarly, I sought an opinion from a high school teacher who worked as a counselor helping young people overcome addiction or habituation to pleasure drugs who both as a teacher and as a drug counselor had considerable experience with psychiatrists and people who consult them. I asked him if he felt psychiatrists have more understanding of human nature or human problems than himself or other people who are not mental health professionals. He thought a few moments and then replied, “No, as a matter of fact, I don’t.”
In his book Against Therapy, a critique of psychotherapy published in 1988, psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., speaks of what he calls “The myth of training” of psychotherapists. He says: “Therapists usually boast of their ‘expertise,’ the ‘elaborate training’ they have undergone. When discussing competence, one often hears phrases like ‘he has been well trained,’ or ‘he has had specialized training.’ People are rather vague about the nature of psychotherapy training, and therapists rarely encourage their patients to ask in any detail. They don’t for a good reason: often their training is very modest. … The most elaborate and lengthy training programs are the classic psychoanalytic ones, but this is not because of the amount of material that has to be covered. I spent eight years in my psychoanalytic training. In retrospect, I feel I could have learned the basic ideas in about eight hours of concentrated reading” (Atheneum/Macmillan Co., p. 248).
Sometimes even psychiatrists and psychologists themselves will admit they have no particular expertise. Some of these admissions have come from people I have known as friends who happened to be practicing psychologists. Illustrative are the remarks of one Ph.D. psychologist who told me how amazed members of his family were that people would pay him $50 an hour just to discuss their problems with him. He admitted it really didn’t make any sense, since they could do the same thing with lots of other people for free. “Of course,” he said, “I’m still going to go to my office tomorrow and collect $50 an hour for talking with people.” Due to inflation, today the cost is usually higher than $50 per hour. In his book The Reign of Error, published in 1984, psychiatrist Lee Coleman, M.D., says “psychiatrists have no valid scientific tools or expertise” (Beacon Press, p. ix).Garth Wood, M.D., a British psychiatrist, included the following statements in his book The Myth of Neurosis published in 1986: “Popularly it is believed that psychiatrists have the ability to ‘see into our minds,’ to understand the workings of the psyche, and possibly even to predict our future behavior. In reality, of course, they possess no such skills. … In truth there are very few illnesses in psychiatry, and even fewer successful treatments … in the postulating of hypothetical psychological and biochemical causative processes, psychiatrists have tended to lay a smokescreen over the indubitable fact that in the real world it is not hard either to recognize or to treat the large majority of psychiatric illnesses. It would take the intelligent layman a long weekend to learn how to do it” (Harper & Row, 1986, p. 28-30; emphasis in original).
A cover article in Time magazine in 1979 titled “Psychiatry’s Depression” made this observation: “Psychiatrists themselves acknowledge that their profession often smacks of modern alchemy – full of jargon, obfuscation and mystification, but precious little real knowledge” (“Psychiatry on the Couch”, Time magazine, April 2, 1979, p. 74).I once asked a social worker employed as a counselor for troubled adolescents whose background included individual and family counselling if she felt the training and education she received as part of her M.S.W. degree made her more qualified to do her job than she would have been without it. She told me a part of her wanted to say yes, because after all, she had put a lot of time and effort into her education and training. She also mentioned a few minor benefits of having received the training. She concluded, however, “Most of the things I’ve done I think I could have done without the education.”
Most mental health professionals however have an understandable emotional or mental block when it comes to admitting they have devoted, actually wasted, several years of their lives in graduate or professional education and are no more able to understand or help people than they were when they started. Many know it and won’t, or will only rarely, admit it to others. Some cannot even admit it to themselves.
Hans J. Eysenck, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of London. In the December 1988 issue of Psychology Today magazine, the magazine’s senior editor described Dr. Eysenck as “one of the world’s best-known and most respected psychologists” (p. 27). This highly regarded psychologist states this conclusion about psychotherapy: “I have argued in the past and quoted numerous experiments in support of these arguments, that there is little evidence for the practical efficacy of psychotherapy…the evidence on which these views are based is quite strong and is growing in strength every year” (“Learning Theory and Behavior Therapy”, in Behavior Therapy and the Neuroses, Pergamon Press, 1960, p. 4). Dr. Eysenck said that in 1960. In 1983 he said this: “The effectiveness of psychotherapy has always been the specter at the wedding feast, where thousands of psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, clinical psychologists, social workers, and others celebrate the happy event and pay no heed to the need for evidence for the premature crystallization of their spurious orthodoxies” (“The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: The Specter at the Feast”, The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6, p. 290).
In The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth About the New Psychology, (Crossway Books, 1985) William Kirk Kilpatrick, a professor of educational psychology at Boston College, argues that we have attributed expertise to psychologists that they do not possess.
In 1983 three psychology professors at Wesleyan University in Connecticut published an article in The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a professional journal, titled “An analysis of psychotherapy versus placebo studies”. The abstract of the article ends with these words: “…there is no evidence that the benefits of psychotherapy are greater than those of placebo treatment” (Leslie Prioleau, et al., Vol. 6, p. 275).
George R. Bach, Ph.D., a psychologist, and coauthor Ronald M. Deutsch, in their book Pairing, make this observation: “There are not enough therapists to listen even to a tiny fraction of these couples, and, besides, the therapy is not too successful. Popular impression to the contrary, when therapists, such as marriage counselors, hold meetings, one primary topic almost invariably is: why is their therapy effective in only a minority of cases?” (Peter H. Wyden, Inc., 1970, p. 9; emphasis in original).
In his book What’s Wrong With the Mental Health Movement, K. Edward Renner, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana, makes this observation in his chapter titled “Psychotherapy”: “When control groups are included, those patients recover to the same extent as those patients receiving treatment. …The enthusiastic belief expressed by therapists about their effectiveness, in spite of the negative results, illustrates the problem of the therapist who must make important human decisions many times each day. He is in a very awkward position unless he believes in what he is doing” (Nelson-Hall Publishers, 1975, pp. 138-139; emphasis in original).
An example of this occurred at the psychiatric clinic at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland, California. Of 150 persons who sought psychotherapy, all were placed in psychotherapy except for 23 who were placed on a waiting list. After six months, doctors checked on those placed on the waiting list to see how much better the people receiving psychotherapy were doing than those receiving none. Instead, the authors of the study found that “The therapy patients did not improve significantly more than did the waiting list controls” (Martin L. Gross, The Psychological Society, Random House, 1978, p. 18).
In the second edition of his book Is Alcoholism Hereditary?, published in 1988, Donald W. Goodwin, M.D., says “There is hardly any scientific evidence that psychotherapy for alcoholism or any other condition helps anyone” (Ballantine Books, 1988, p. 180). British psychiatrist Garth Wood, M.D., criticizes modern day “psychotherapy” in his book The Myth of Neurosis published in 1986 with these words: “These misguided myth-makers have encouraged us to believe that the infinite mysteries of the mind are as amenable to their professed expertise as plumbing or an automobile engine. This is rubbish. In fact these talk therapists, practitioners of cosmetic psychiatry, have no relevant training or skills in the art of living life. It is remarkable that they have fooled us for so long. … Cowed by their status as men of science, deferring to their academic titles, bewitched by the initials after their names, we, the gullible, lap up their pretentious nonsense as if it were the gospel truth. We must learn to recognize them for what they are – possessors of no special knowledge of the human psyche, who have, nonetheless, chosen to earn their living from the dissemination of the myth that they do indeed know how the mind works” (pp. 2-3).
The superiority of conversation with friends over professional psychotherapy is illustrated in the remarks of a woman interviewed by Barbara Gordon in a book published in 1988: “For Francesca, psychotherapy was a mixed blessing. ‘It helps, but not nearly as much as a few intense, good friends,’ she said. ‘…I pay a therapist to listen to me, and at the end of forty-five minutes he says, ‘That’s all the time we have; we’ll continue next week.’ A friend, on the other hand, you can call any hour and say, ‘I need to talk to you.’ They’re there, and they really love you and want to help.” In an interview with another woman on the same page of the same book, Ms. Gordon was told this, referring to pain from losing a husband: “Good shrinks can probably deal with it; the two I went to didn’t help” (Barbara Gordon, Jennifer Fever, Harper & Row, 1988, p. 132).
The June 1986 issue of Science 86 magazine included an article by Bernie Zilbergeld, a psychologist, suggesting that “we’re hooked on therapy when talking to a friend might do as well.” He cited a Vanderbilt University study that compared professional “psychotherapy” with discussing one’s problems with interested but untrained persons: “Young men with garden variety neuroses were assigned to one of two groups of therapists. The first consisted of the best professional psychotherapists in the area, with an average 23 years of experience; the second group was made up of college professors with reputations of being good people to talk to but with no training in psychotherapy. Therapists and professors saw their clients for no more than 25 hours. The results: “Patients undergoing psychotherapy with college professors showed … quantitatively as much improvement as patients treated by experienced professional psychotherapists” (p. 48). Zilbergeld pointed out that “the Vanderbilt study mentioned earlier is far from the only one debunking the claims of professional superiority” (ibid, p. 50).
Martin L. Gross, a member of the faculty of The New School For Social Research and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Social History at New York University, has argued that “the concept that a man who is trained in medicine or a Ph.D. in psychology has a special insight into human nature is false” (quoted in “And ACLU Chimes In: Psychiatric Treatment May Be Valueless”, Behavior Today, June 12, 1978, p. 3).
Implicit in the idea of “psychotherapy” is the belief that “psychotherapists” have special skills and special knowledge that are not possessed by other people. In making this argument against “psychotherapy”, I am arguing only that conversation with psychotherapists is no better than conversation with other people. In his defense of psychotherapy in a book published in 1986, psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey makes this argument: “Saying that psychotherapy does not work is like saying that prostitution does not work; those enjoying the benefits of these personal transactions will continue doing so, regardless of what the experts and researchers have to say” (Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists: The Common Roots of Psychotherapy and Its Future, Jason Aronson, Inc., p. 198). If you really are desperate for someone to talk to, then “psychotherapy” may in fact be enjoyable. However, if you have a good network of friends or family who will talk to you confidentially and with your best interests at heart, there is no need for “psychotherapy”. Just as a happily married man or a man with a good sexually intimate relationship with a steady girlfriend is unlikely to have reason to hire a prostitute, people with good friendships with other people are unlikely to need “psychotherapy”.
What if you need information about how to solve a problem your family and friends can’t help you with? In that case usually the best person for you to talk to is someone who has lived through or is living through the same problem you face. Sometimes a good way to find such people is attending meetings of a group organized to deal with the kind of problem you have. Examples (alphabetically) are Alcoholics Anonymous, Alzheimer’s Support groups, Agoraphobia Self-Help groups, Al-Anon (for relatives of alcoholics), Amputee Support groups, Anorexia/Bulimia support groups, The Aphasia Group, Arthritics Caring Together, Children of Alcoholics, Coping With Cancer, Debtors Anonymous, divorce adjustment groups, father’s rights associations (for divorced men), Gamblers Anonymous, herpes support and social groups such as HELP, Mothers Without Custody, Nar-Anon (for relatives of narcotics abusers), Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Parents Anonymous, Parents in Shared Custodies, Parents Without Partners, Potsmokers Anonymous, Resolve, Inc., (a support group that deals with the problems of infertility and miscarriage), Shopaholics Ltd., singles groups, Smokers Anonymous, The Stuttering Support Group, women’s groups, and unwed mothers assistance organizations. Local newspapers often have listings of meetings of such organizations. Someone who is a comrade with problems similar to yours and who has accordingly spent much of his or her life trying to find solutions for those problems is far more likely to know the best way for you to deal with your situation than a “professional” who supposedly is an expert at solving all kinds of problems for all kinds of people. The myth of professional psychotherapy training and skill is so widespread, however, that you may find people you meet in self-help groups will recommend or refer you to a particular psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. If you hear this, remember what you read (above) in this pamphlet and disregard these recommendations and referrals and get whatever counselling you need from nonprofessional people in the group who have direct experience in their own lives with the kind of problem that troubles you. You will probably get better advice and – importantly – you will avoid psychiatric stigma.
In their book A New Guide To Rational Living, Albert Ellis, Ph.D., a New York City psychologist, and Robert A. Harper, Ph.D., say they follow “an educational rather than a psychodynamic or a medical model of psychotherapy” (Wilshire Book Co., 1975, p. 219). In his book Get Ready, Get Set…Prepare to Make Psychotherapy A Successful Experience For You, psychotherapist and psychology professor Harvey L. Saxton, Ph.D., writes: “What is psychotherapy? Psychotherapy is simply a matter of reeducation. Reeducation implies letting go of the outmoded and learning the new and workable. Patients, in one sense, are like students; they need the capacity and willingness to engage in the process of relearning” (University Press of America, 1993, p. 1). In their book When Talk Is Not Cheap, Or How To Find the Right Therapist When You Don’t Know Where To Begin, psychotherapist Mandy Aftel, M.A., and Professor Robin Lakoff, Ph.D., say “Therapy…is a form of education” (Warner Books, 1985, p. 29). Since so-called psychotherapy is a form of education, not therapy, you need not a doctor or therapist but a person who is qualified to educate in the area of living in which you are having difficulty. The place to look for someone to talk to is where you are likely to find someone who has this knowledge. Someone whose claim to expertise is a “profession psychotherapy training program”al rarely if ever is the person who can best advise you.
“In my training [as a clinical psychologist] I heard lots about ‘biochemical imbalances’ and “faulty cognitions,” but I can’t recall ever hearing about ‘loss of morale’ or ‘spiritual crisis.’ From my experience with depression, it is always a psychological, social, and spiritual event, and providing morale for someone at a crossroads in his or her life is perhaps the most important thing one human being can do for another. … You can look for a talented morale builder among psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, but your chance of finding one will be better if you look almost anywhere else. [p. 63] … If you need help, forget about professional credentials and associate with those who energize you and help you laugh. [pp. 65-66] … There is no unequivocal evidence that professionally trained therapists and teachers are superior helpers to so-called untrained laypeople. … research shows that nonprofessionals can be as successful as professionals in helping even those with the most severe problems in living. [p. 286] … Authenticity has been selected and socialized out of institutional helpers. [p. 287]” Bruce Levine, Ph.D., Commonsense Rebellion: Debunking Psychiatry, Confronting Society (Continuum, New York, 2001).
UNJUSTIFIED PSYCHIATRIC COMMITMENT IN THE U.S.A. Lawrence Stevens:
In 1992, U.S. Representative Patricia Schroeder of Colorado held hearings investigating the practices of psychiatric hospitals in the United States. Rep. Schroeder summarized her committee’s findings as follows: “Our investigation has found that thousands of adolescents, children, and adults have been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment they didn’t need; that hospitals hire bounty hunters to kidnap patients with mental health insurance; that patients are kept against their will until their insurance benefits run out; that psychiatrists are being pressured by the hospitals to increase profit; that hospitals ‘infiltrate’ schools by paying kickbacks to school counselors who deliver students; that bonuses are paid to hospital employees, including psychiatrists, for keeping the hospital beds filled; and that military dependents are being targeted for their generous mental health benefits. I could go on, but you get the picture” (quoted in: Lynn Payer, Disease- Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992, pp. 234-235).
A headline on the front page of the July 6, 1986 Oakland, California Tribune reads: “Adolescents are packing private mental hospitals But do most of them belong there?” The newspaper article says: “…mental patients advocates say many adolescents in private hospitals are not seriously mentally ill, but merely rebellious. By holding the adolescents, who often dislike hospitalization, advocates say private hospitals reap profits and please parents. … Some county mental health officials and psychiatrists at private hospitals acknowledge there are hospitalized adolescents who, ideally, shouldn’t be there. … ‘It distresses me to see kids in these facilities; it distressesme to see the profits going on,’ Jay Mahler, of Patients Rights Advocacy and Training, said two weeks ago at a Concord Public forum. ‘It’s a hot business,’ Tim Goolsby, a Contra Costa County Probation Department adolescent placement supervisor, later agreed. ‘If your kids like sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, that’s the place to put them. I’m not sure insurance companies know what’s going on, but they’re being ripped off.’ Goolsby estimated 80 percent of adolescents in Contra Costa private psychiatric hospitals are not mentally ill… University of Southern California sociologists Patricia Guttridge and Carol Warren say these adolescents have been transformed from delinquents to emotionally disturbed children. After studying 1,119 adolescents in four Los Angeles-area psychiatric hospitals, they found that less than a fifth were admitted for serious mental illnesses” (Susan Stern, The Tribune (Oakland, California), Sunday, July 6, 1986, p. A-1 & A-2).
In the February 1988 Stanford Law Journal Lois A. Weithorn, Ph.D., a former University of Virginia psychology professor, said “adolescent admission rates to psychiatric units of private hospitals have jumped dramatically, increasing over four-fold between 1980 and 1984. … I contend that the rising rates of psychiatric admission of children and adolescents reflect an increasing use of hospitalization to manage a population for whom such intervention is typically inappropriate: ‘troublesome’ youth who do not suffer from severe mental disorders” (40 Stanford Law Review 773 at 773-774).
Psychiatric and psychological “diagnosis” is arbitrary and unreliable. Furthermore, the supposed experts responsible for these “diagnoses” are usually biased in favor of commitment because of their personal economic concerns or their affiliation with the psychiatric “hospital” where the “patient” is or will be confined. Psychiatric “hospitals”, like all businesses, need customers. In the case of psychiatric “hospitals”, they need patients. They not only want patients, they need them to stay in business. Similarly, individual psychiatrists and psychologists need patients to make money and earn a living. A magazine article published in 1992 criticizing the trend towards locking up troublesome teenagers alleged that teenagers are locked up in psychiatric hospitals today more than in the past because “busy parents are less willing to deal with their behavior and because inpatient psychiatric business represents a profitable market in the health-care field.” The result has been an increase in the number of psychiatric hospitals in recent years, “from 220 in 1984 to 341 in 1988”. This increase in the number of psychiatric hospitals has resulted in keen competition between hospitals and psychiatrists for patients. “Keeping all those psychiatric beds filled is critical, and administrators are aggressively ensuring that they will be. Hard-sell TV, radio, and magazine ads (up to tenfold in the past few years, according to Metz) are ubiquitous … Some facilities even resort to paying employees and others bonuses of $500 to $1,000 per referral. … Rebellious teenagers used to be grounded. New they’re being committed. Increasingly, parents are locking up their unruly kids in the psychiatric wards of private hospitals for engaging in what many therapists call normal adolescent behavior. Adolescent psychiatric admissions have gone up 250 or 400 percent since 1980, reports Holly Metz in The Progressive (Dec. 1991), but it’s not because teens are suddenly so much crazier than they were a decade ago. Indeed, the Children’s Defense Fund suggests that at least 40 percent of these juvenile admissions are inappropriate, while a Family Therapy Networker (July/Aug. 1990) youth expert puts that figure at 75 percent” (Lynette Lamb, “Kids in the Cuckoo’s Nest Why are we locking up America’s troublesome teens?”, Utne Reader, March/April pp. 38, 40).
In her book And They Call It Help – The Psychiatric Policing of America’s Children, published in 1993, Louise Armstrong laments “the 65 percent of kids in private, for-profit psych hospitals who simply do not need to be there but are given severe-sounding labels nonetheless” (Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., p. 167 – italics in original).
Unjustified involuntary commitment to psychiatric hospitals has become so blatant Reader’s Digest published an article in the July 1992 issue exposing the unethical practice: “Similar storm clouds are appearing over the mental – health field. Alarmed by exploding costs, insurance companies began scrutinizing payments more carefully – and ultimately trimmed the average patient’s length of hospital stay. As a result, ‘private hospitals that once made a great deal of money are now desperate for patients,’ says Dr. Alan Stone, former president of the American Psychiatric Association.
“That desperation has opened the door for fraud. Among the alleged abuses: patients abducted by ‘bounty hunters’; others hospitalized against their will until their insurance runs out; diagnoses and treatments tailored to maximize insurance reimbursement; kickbacks for recruiting patients; unnecessary treatments; gross overbilling.
“The most infamous charges were leveled in Texas. On April 4, 1991, two private security agents showed up at the Harrell family home in Live Oak to pick up Jeramy Harrell, 14, and admit him on suspicion of drug abuse to Colonial Hills Hospital, a private psychiatric facility in San Antonio.
“Family members believed the agents to be law-enforcement officers. If Jeramy didn’t cooperate, the agents said, they could obtain a warrant and have him detained for 28 days. ‘They acted just like the Gestapo,’ the boy’s grandmother – and legal guardian – later told a Texas state senate committee.
“According to that testimony, Jeramy was denied any contact with his family for six days and released only after a state senator [Frank Tejeda, now in Congress] intervened. State officials discovered the boy had been ordered detained by a staff doctor after his disturbed younger brother lied about Jeramy’s supposed drug use. The guards who brought him in worked for a private firm paid by Colonial Hills for each patient delivered.
“Soon after the ordeal, the Harrells got a bill for Jeramy’s six-day stay, a stunning $11,000. The hospital’s owner denied any wrongdoing. “The Harrell case led to those Texas senate hearings, which in turn brought to light other allegations of fraud and abuse involving some 12 other Texas facilities and at least three other national hospital chains. Similar charges have been made against hospitals in New Jersey, Florida, Alabama and Louisiana; three federal agencies have opened investigations, and more than a dozen states have probes under way” (Gordon Witkin, “Beware These Health Scams”, Reader’s Digest, July 1992, p. 142 at 144-146).
In 1991 or 1992 an administrator at a psychiatric “hospital” told me competition between psychiatric hospitals is what she called “cut throat”. Combine this intense competition with America’s poorly written involuntary commitment laws and judges who refuse to impose protection from unwarranted commitment that bona-fide due process requires, and the result is a lot of people being deprived of liberty and suffering psychiatric stigma unjustifiably. In the field of so-called mental health where large amounts of money can be made, in large part because of health insurance, and where there is a competitive environment where there are too few psychiatric “patients” to fill psychiatric beds, self-interest biases the supposed psychiatric or psychological experts in favor of a “diagnosis” which justifies commitment, including involuntary commitment where necessary. As Harvard Law professor Alan M. Dershowitz has said, psychiatry “is not a scientific discipline” (“Clash of Testimony in Hinkley Trial Has Psychiatrists Worried Over Image”, The New York Times May 24, 1982, p. 11). The opinion of many legislators and judges that impartiality, objectivity, and scientific expertise of mental health professionals makes the kind of due process needed elsewhere unnecessary in psychiatric commitment is mistaken.
As was noted in the above quoted Reader’s Digest article, much of this unjustified involuntary psychiatric commitment of normal and law-abiding people to the prisons called psychiatric hospitals is motivated by the financial needs of psychiatric hospitals and the people who work in them. Although it has been reaching newspaper headlines in only the last several years, unwarranted psychiatric commitment has been going on for over a century, including in the USA where freedom is supposedly a cherished value and where human rights are supposedly respected. Recent inventions such as health care insurance have made the abuses more frequent, but the willingness of mental health “professionals” to violate the sacred right of each law-abiding person to liberty isn’t new.
What is most needed is recognition that there is no such thing as “mental illness”. That alone undermines the justification for most involuntarily imposed so-called psychiatric care. Rather than being a bona-fide illness, the mental “illness” label is value judgment about a person’s behavior. But as long as incarceration for so-called mental illness continues, those accused of it should be given the same rights as defendants in criminal cases. America’s established history of unwarranted psychiatric commitment shows this protection is necessary. These rights include trial by jury, a procedure for assuring the defendant or so-called proposed patient has been advised of when and how to invoke his or her right to jury trial, an absolute prohibition of incommunicado confinement (particularly during the pre-trial period), the right to confront and cross-examine opposing witnesses, the right to call one’s own witnesses, conviction or commitment only if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, freedom from double-jeopardy, and assistance of legal counsel. The prohibition of incommunicado confinement must be absolute, because if psychiatrists are permitted by law to hold prisoners (“patients”) incommunicado in “emergencies”, that power will often be used routinely (without emergency). Another safeguard prisoners of psychiatry need is protection from being mentally disabled by forcibly administered psychiatric drugs or electric shock treatment prior to their day in court. Of all these due-process rights, the right to jury trial and the right to not be mentally disabled by psychiatric drugs or electric shock treatment prior to one’s day in court are unquestionably the most important. Many states have provided a right to jury trial in psychiatric commitment cases by statute, but many have not; and judges often refuse to grant it as a constitutional right. Judges are as capable as psychiatrists of deciding what to do with people accused of mental illness, but few will even attempt to do so and will instead approve a psychiatrist’s request for commitment without even the slightest attempt at real judicial review. The importance of the right to jury trial is illustrated by the remark of a court clerk who told me, in the judge’s presence, that the judge felt if he didn’t follow the doctor’s recommendation regarding commitment, “the Court would be practicing medicine without a license.” This illogical statement, which the judge seemed to agree with (indicated by his silence as he listened to his clerk say this and by his conduct in court) reveals the extent to which judges have abdicated their responsibility in this area to psychiatrists. The invalidity and unreliability of psychiatric “diagnosis”, often complicated by the psychiatrist’s financial stake in getting the so-called patient committed, combined with the immutable reluctance of most judges to use their own independent judgment, makes a jury absolutely essential for a fair trial in psychiatric commitment cases. This is truly a case of “NO JURY – NO JUSTICE”.
Far from anything idealistic like law or concern for human rights, the primary forces curtailing unnecessary involuntary psychiatric “hospitalization” in the USA have been insurance companies motivated not by idealism but by monetary concerns. As Tim Goolsby remarked in 1986 (above), “they [the health insurance companies] [a]re being ripped off.” Eventually the health insurance companies became aware of the needless psychiatric treatment they were paying for. According to a front-page article in the August 3, 1992 issue of Investor’s Business Daily: “Last Thursday…eight major insurance companies sued NME [National Medical Enterprises] for alleged fraud involving hundreds of millions of dollars in psychiatric hospital claims. Their complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, accused the company of a ‘massive’ scheme to admit and treat thousands of patients regardless of their need for care. …some institutions were paying ‘bounty fees’ for patient referrals or misdiagnosing patients to get maximum reimbursement” (Christine Shenot, “Bleeder at National Medical Insurers Cry Of ‘Fraud’ Reopened A Big Wound”, Investor’s Business Daily, Monday, August 3, 1992, p. 1). Time magazine later reported NME settled the case for a record $300 million (April 25, 1994, p. 24). An article about a similar suit filed in Dallas, Texas appeared in the September 15, 1992 issue of New York Newsday, saying: “Two of the country’s largest insurance companies filed suit yesterday against a national chain of private psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, charging it with illegally admitting patients who did not need treatment and then not releasing them until their insurance benefits ran out” Michael Unger, “Hospitals Called Cheats Insurers say health-care chain pulled off nationwide scam”, New York Newsday, Thursday, September 15, 1992, Business section, page 33).
Insurance fraud involving psychiatrists treating people who do not want or need treatment illustrates a more serious underlying problem that still has not been adequately addressed: Loss of liberty based on the opinions of psychiatrists rather than on unlawful conduct by the accused has no place in a nation that claims to respect the rights of each individual.
“The confusing aspect about this is that many adolescents are irritable, aggressive, and impulsive because they are upset about their life circumstances. In recent years some of these teenagers have found their way into psychiatric hospitals, labeled with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and placed on medications. Some psychiatric hospitals made a practice of admitting adolescents in distress, using the diagnosis of bipolar disorder inappropriately in order to increase their billing to insurance companies. This practice was so widespread that the federal government finally intervened, charging the hospitals with fraud and assessing fines of millions of dollars. Many of these children did not have bipolar disorder at all, but were acting inappropriately because of stresses in their families, with their friends, and at school.” Edward Drummond, M.D., Associate Medical Director at Seacoast Mental Health Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in his book The Complete Guide to Psychiatric Drugs (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 2000), pages 13-14. Dr. Drummond graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine and was trained in psychiatry at Harvard University.
Why Psychiatry Should Be Abolished as a Medical Specialty – Lawrence Stevens:
Psychiatry should be abolished as a medical specialty because medical school education is not needed nor even helpful for doing counselling or so-called psychotherapy, because the perception of mental illness as a biological entity is mistaken, because psychiatry’s “treatments” other than counselling or psychotherapy (primarily drugs and electroshock) hurt rather than help people, because nonpsychiatric physicians are better able than psychiatrists to treat real brain disease, and because nonpsychiatric physicians’ acceptance of psychiatry as a medical specialty is a poor reflection on the medical profession as a whole.
In the words of Sigmund Freud in his book The Question of Lay Analysis: “The first consideration is that in his medical school a doctor receives a training which is more or less the opposite of what he would need as a preparation for psycho-analysis [Freud’s method of psychotherapy]. … Neurotics, indeed, are an undesired complication, an embarrassment as much to therapeutics as to jurisprudence and to military service. But they exist and are a particular concern of medicine. Medical education, however, does nothing, literally nothing, towards their understanding and treatment. … It would be tolerable if medical education merely failed to give doctors any orientation in the field of the neuroses. But it does more: it given them a false and detrimental attitude. …analytic instruction would include branches of knowledge which are remote from medicine and which the doctor does not come across in his practice: the history of civilization, mythology, the psychology of religion and the science of literature. Unless he is well at home in these subjects, an analyst can make nothing of a large amount of his material. By way of compensation, the great mass of what is taught in medical schools is of no use to him for his purposes. A knowledge of the anatomy of the tarsal bones, of the constitution of the carbohydrates, of the course of the cranial nerves, a grasp of all that medicine has brought to light on bacillary exciting causes of disease and the means of combating them, on serum reactions and on neoplasms – all of this knowledge, which is undoubtedly of the highest value in itself, is nevertheless of no consequence to him; it does not concern him; it neither helps him directly to understand a neurosis and to cure it nor does it contribute to a sharpening of those intellectual capacities on which his occupation makes the greatest demands. … It is unjust and inexpedient to try to compel a person who wants to set someone else free from the torment of a phobia or an obsession to take the roundabout road of the medical curriculum. Nor will such an endeavor have any success…” (W.W. Norton & Co, Inc., pp. 62, 63, 81, 82). In a postscript to this book Dr. Freud wrote: “Some time ago I analyzed [psychoanalyzed] a colleague who had developed a particularly strong dislike of the idea of anyone being allowed to engage in a medical activity who was not himself a medical man. I was in a position to say to him: ‘We have now been working for more than three months. At what point in our analysis have I had occasion to make use of my medical knowledge?’ He admitted that I had had no such occasion” (pp. 92-93). While Dr. Freud made these remarks about his own method of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, it is hard to see why it would be different for any other type of “psychotherapy” or counselling. In their book about how to shop for a psychotherapist, Mandy Aftel, M.A., and Robin Lakoff, Ph.D., make 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).
If you think the existence of psychiatry as a medical specialty is justified by the existence of biological causes of so-called mental or emotional illness, you’ve been misled. In 1988 in The New Harvard Guide to Psychiatry Seymour S. Kety, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience in Psychiatry, and Steven Matthysse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychobiology, both of Harvard Medical School, said “an impartial reading of the recent literature does not provide the hoped-for clarification of the catecholamine hypotheses, nor does compelling evidence emerge for other biological differences that may characterize the brains of patients with mental disease” (Harvard Univ. Press, p. 148). So-called mental or emotional “illnesses” are caused by unfortunate life experience – not biology. There is no biological basis for the concept of mental or emotional illness, despite speculative theories you may hear. The brain is an organ of the body, and no doubt it can have a disease, but nothing we think of today as mental illness has been traced to a brain disease. There is no valid biological test that tests for the presence of any so-called mental illness. What we think of today as mental illness is psychological, not biological. Much of the treatment that goes on in psychiatry today is biological, but other than listening and offering advice, modern day psychiatric treatment is as senseless as trying to solve a computer software problem by working on the hardware. As psychiatry professor Thomas Szasz, M.D., has said: Trying to eliminate a so-called mental illness by having a psychiatrist work on your brain is like trying to eliminate cigarette commercials from television by having a TV repairman work on your TV set (The Second Sin, Anchor Press, 1973, p. 99). Since lack of health is not the cause of the problem, health care is not a solution.
There has been increasing recognition of the uselessness of psychiatric “therapy” by physicians outside psychiatry, by young physicians graduating from medical school, by informed lay people, and by psychiatrists themselves. This increasing recognition is described by a psychiatrist, Mark S. Gold, M.D., in a book he published in 1986 titled The Good News About Depression. He says “Psychiatry is sick and dying,” that in 1980 “Less than half of all hospital psychiatric positions [could] be filled by graduates of U.S. medical schools.” He says that in addition to there being too few physicians interested in becoming psychiatrists, “the talent has sunk to a new low.” He calls it “The wholesale abandonment of psychiatry”. He says recent medical school graduates “see that psychiatry is out of sync with the rest of medicine, that it has no credibility”, and he says they accuse of psychiatry of being “unscientific”. He says “Psychiatrists have sunk bottomward on the earnings totem pole in medicine. They can expect to make some 30 percent less than the average physician”. He says his medical school professors thought he was throwing away his career when he chose to become a psychiatrist (Bantam Books, pp. 15, 16, 19, 26). In another book published in 1989, Dr. Gold describes “how psychiatry got into the state it is today: in low regard, ignored by the best medical talent, often ineffective.” He also calls it “the sad state in which psychiatry finds itself today” (The Good News About Panic, Anxiety, & Phobias, Villard Books, pp. 24 & 48). In the November/December 1993 Psychology Today magazine, psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, M.D., is quoted as saying psychiatry has experienced “five broad areas of failure” including “inadequate research and theory” and “an increasingly poor reputation” (p. 11). Similarly, a Wall Street Journal editorial in 1985 says “psychiatry remains the most threatened of all present medical specialties”, citing the fact that “psychiatrists are among the poorest-paid American doctors”, that “relatively few American medical-school graduates are going into psychiatric residencies”, and psychiatry’s “loss of public esteem” (Harry Schwartz, “A Comeback for Psychiatrists?”, The Wall Street Journal, July 15, 1985, p. 18).
The low esteem of psychiatry in the eyes of physicians who practice bona-fide health care (that is, physicians in medical specialties other than psychiatry) is illustrated in The Making of a Psychiatrist, Dr. David Viscott’s autobiographical book published in 1972 about what it was like to be a psychiatric resident (i.e., a physician in training to become a psychiatrist): “I found that no matter how friendly I got with the other residents, they tended to look on being a psychiatrist as a little like being a charlatan or magician.” He quotes a physician doing a surgical residency saying “You guys [you psychiatrists] are really a poor excuse for the profession. They should take psychiatry out of medical school and put it in the department of archeology or anthropology with the other witchcraft.’ ‘I feel the same way,’ said George Maslow, the obstetrical resident…” (pp. 84-87).
It would be good if the reason for the decline in psychiatry that Dr. Gold and others describe was increasing recognition by ever larger numbers of people that the problems that bring people to psychiatrists have nothing to do with biological health and therefore cannot be helped by biological health care. But regrettably, belief in biological theories of so-called mental illness is as prevalent as ever. Probably, the biggest reason for psychiatry’s decline is realization by ever increasing numbers of people that those who consult mental health professionals seldom benefit from doing so.
E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., a psychiatrist, realized this and pointed it out in his book The Death of Psychiatry (Chilton Book Co., 1974). In that book, Dr. Torrey with unusual clarity of perception and expression, as well as courage, pointed out “why psychiatry in its present form is destructive and why it must die.” (This quote comes from the synopsis on the book’s dust cover.) Dr. Torrey indicates that many psychiatrists have begun to realize this, that “Many psychiatrists have had, at least to some degree, the unsettling and bewildering feeling that what they have been doing has been largely worthless and that the premises on which they have based their professional lives were partly fraudulent” (p. 199, emphasis added). Presumably, most physicians want to do something that is constructive, but psychiatry isn’t a field in which they can do that, at least, not in their capacity as physicians – for the same reason TV repairmen who want to improve the quality of television programming cannot do so in their capacity as TV repairmen. In The Death of Psychiatry, Dr. Torrey argued that “The death of psychiatry, then, is not a negative event” (p. 200), because the death of psychiatry will bring to an end a misguided, stupid, and counterproductive approach to trying to solve people’s problems. Dr. Torrey argues that psychiatrists have only two scientifically legitimate and constructive choices: Either limit their practices to diagnosis and treatment of known brain diseases (which he says are “no more than 5 percent of the people we refer to as mentally ‘ill'” (p. 176), thereby abandoning the practice of psychiatry in favor of bona-fide medical and surgical practice that treats real rather than presumed but unproven and probably nonexistent brain disease – or become what Dr. Torrey calls “tutors” (what I call counselors) in the art of living, thereby abandoning their role as physicians. Of course, psychiatrists, being physicians, can also return to real health care practice by becoming family physicians or qualifying in other specialties.
In an American Health magazine article in 1991 about Dr. Torrey, he is quoted saying he continues to believe psychiatry should be abolished as a medical specialty: “He calls psychiatrists witch doctors and Sigmund Freud a fraud. For almost 20 years Dr. E. (Edwin) Fuller Torrey has also called for the ‘death’ of psychiatry. …No wonder Torrey, 53, has been expelled from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and twice removed from positions funded by the National Institute of Mental Health … In The Death of Psychiatry, Torrey advanced the idea that most psychiatric and psychotherapeutic patients don’t have medical problems. ‘… most of the people seen by psychotherapists are the ‘worried well.’ They have interpersonal and intrapersonal problems and they need counseling, but that isn’t medicine – that’s education. Now, if you give the people with brain diseases to neurology and the rest to education, there’s really no need for psychiatry'” (American Health magazine, October 1991, p. 26).
The disadvantage to the whole of the medical profession of recognizing psychiatry as a legitimate medical specialty occurred to me when I consulted a dermatologist for diagnosis of a mole I thought looked suspiciously like a malignant melanoma. The dermatologist told me my mole did indeed look suspicious and should be removed, and he told me almost no risk was involved. This occurred during a time I was doing research on electroshock, which I have summarized in a pamphlet titled “Psychiatry’s Electroconvulsive Shock Treatment – A Crime Against Humanity”. I found overwhelming evidence that psychiatry’s electric shock treatment causes brain damage, memory loss, and diminished intelligence and doesn’t reduce unhappiness or so-called depression as is claimed. About the same time I did some reading about psychiatric drugs that reinforced my impression that most if not all are ineffective for their intended purposes, and I learned many of the most widely used psychiatric drugs are neurologically and psychologically harmful, causing permanent brain damage if used at supposedly therapeutic levels long enough, as they often are not only with the approval but the insistence of psychiatrists. I have explained my reasons for these conclusions in another pamphlet titled “Psychiatric Drugs – Cure or Quackery?” Part of me tended to assume the dermatologist was an expert, be trusting, and let him do the minor skin surgery right then and there as he suggested. But then, an imaginary scene flashed through my mind: A person walks into the office of another type of recognized, board-certified medical specialist: a psychiatrist. The patient tells the psychiatrist he has been feeling depressed. The psychiatrist, who specializes in giving outpatient electroshock, responds saying: “No problem. We can take care of that. We’ll have you out of here within an hour or so feeling much better. Just lie down on this electroshock table while I use this head strap and some electrode jelly to attach these electrodes to your head…” In fact, there is no reason such a scene couldn’t actually take place in a psychiatrist’s office today. Some psychiatrists do give electroshock in their offices on an outpatient basis. Realizing that physicians in the other, the bona-fide, medical and surgical specialties accept biological psychiatry and all the quackery it represents as legitimate made (and makes) me wonder if physicians in the other specialties are undeserving of trust also. I left the dermatologist’s office without having the mole removed, although I returned and had him remove it later after I’d gotten opinions from other physicians and had done some reading on the subject. Physicians in the other specialties accepting biological psychiatry as legitimate calls into question the reasonableness and rationality not only of psychiatrists but of all physicians.
On November 30, 1990, the Geraldo television talk show featured a panel of former electroshock victims who told how they were harmed by electroshock and by psychiatric drugs. Also appearing on the show was psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., who said this: “Now we know that there’s no other medical specialty which has patients complaining bitterly about the treatment they’re getting. You don’t find diabetic patients on this kind of show saying ‘You’re torturing us. You’re harming us. You’re hurting us. Stop it!’ And the psychiatrists don’t want to hear that.” Harvard University law professor Alan M. Dershowitz has said psychiatry “is not a scientific discipline” (“Clash of Testimony in Hinckley Trial Has Psychiatrists Worried Over Image”, The New York Times, May 24, 1982, p. 11). Such a supposed health care specialty should not be tolerated within the medical profession.
There is no need for a supposed medical specialty such as psychiatry. When real brain diseases or other biological problems exit, physicians in real health care specialties such as neurology, internal medicine, endocrinology, and surgery are best equipped to treat them. People who have experience with similar kinds of personal problems are best equipped to give counselling about dealing with those problems.
Despite the assertion by Dr. Torrey that psychiatrists can choose to practice real health care by limiting themselves to the 5% or less of psychiatric patients he says do have real brain disease, as even Dr. Torrey himself points out, any time a physical cause is found for any condition that was previously thought to be psychiatric, the condition is taken away from psychiatry and treated instead by physicians in one of the real health care specialties: “In fact, there are many known diseases of the brain, with changes in both structure and function. Tumors, multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and neurosyphilis are some examples. But these diseases are considered to be in the province of neurology rather than psychiatry. And the demarcation between the two is sharp. … one of the hallmarks of psychiatry has been that each time causes were found for mental ‘diseases,’ the conditions were taken away from psychiatry and reassigned to other specialties. As the mental ‘diseases’ were show to be true diseases, mongolism and phenylketonuria were assigned to pediatrics; epilepsy and neurosyphilis became the concerns of neurology; and delirium due to infectious diseases was handled by internists. … One is left with the impression that psychiatry is the repository for all suspected brain ‘diseases’ for which there is no known cause. And this is indeed the case. None of the conditions that we now call mental ‘diseases’ have any known structural or functional changes in the brain which have been verified as causal. … This is, to say the least, a peculiar specialty of medicine” (The Death of Psychiatry, p. 38-39). Neurosurgeon Vernon H. Mark, M.D., made a related observation in his book Brain Power, published in 1989: “Around the turn of the century, two common diseases caused many patients to be committed to mental hospitals: pellagra and syphilis of the brain. … Now both of these diseases are completely treatable, and they are no longer in the province of psychiatry but are included in the category of general medicine” (Houghton Mifflin Co., p. 130).
The point is that if psychiatrists want to treat bona-fide brain disease, they must do so as neurologists, internists, endocrinologists, surgeons, or as specialists in one of the other, the real, health care specialties – not as psychiatrists. Treatment of real brain disease falls within the scope of the other specialties. Historically, treatment of real brain disease has not fallen within the scope of psychiatry. It’s time to stop the pretense that psychiatry is a type of health care. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology should be renamed the American Board of Neurology, and there should be no more specialty certifications in psychiatry. Organizations that formally represent physicians such as the American Medical Association and American Osteopathic Association and similar organizations in other countries should cease to recognize psychiatry as a bona-fide branch of the medical profession.
“I view with no surprise that psychiatric training is being systemically disavowed by American medical school graduates. This must give us cause for concern about the state of today’s psychiatry. It must mean, at least in part, that they view psychiatry as being very limited and unchallenging. … there are no external validating criteria for psychiatric diagnoses. There is neither a blood test nor specific anatomic lesions for any major psychiatric disorder. So, where are we? … Is psychiatry a hoax, as practiced today?”
For R. D. Laing and Lawrence Stevens. For freedom of expression.
lenin nightingale 2014