15. We oppose the psychiatric system because it is frighteningly similar to the Inquisition, chattel slavery and the Nazi concentration camps.
25. We believe that the psychiatric system is, in fact, a pacification programme controlled by psychiatrists and supported by other mental health professionals, whose chief function is to persuade, threaten or force people into conforming to established norms and values.
26. We believe that the psychiatric system cannot be reformed but must be abolished.
Statement of Principles from the 10th Annual International Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression ; May 1982, republished on MindFreedom.org
“Any such officer or person may at any time, and shall be permitted so to do by the authorities thereat, visit and inspect any psychiatric facility, and in so doing may interview patients, examine books, records, and other documents relating to patients, examine the condition of the psychiatric facility and its equipment, and enquire into the adequacy of its staff, the range of services provided and any other matter he or she considers relevant to the maintenance of standards of patient care.”
Subsection 9(2) of the Mental Health Act of the Province of Ontario
“An Advocate shall ensure that clients are fully informed about advocacy activities undertaken, about information which is gathered in the course of advocacy and about reasonable alternatives, implications of actions and potential outcomes. Unless required by law, and subject to available resources, an Advocate shall not withhold relevant information from the client.”
Standards of Practice for the Ontario Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office
“I don’t believe, however, that just because one has a diagnosis of a mental illness that they need medical treatment. I probably should, if I believe that they’re biologically based. But I think it’s a sliding scale, like anything else, and that not everyone is affected to the same extent. Some people can get by without, some people don’t want to take medication because they like how they are, some people don’t want to take medication because they don’t trust it, and some people respond better to therapeutic treatments.”
“Am I pro-psychiatry? Well, not exactly.”; Pole To Polar, Nov. 17, 2008
“Call it a disorder long enough and people without the disease start believing that all we need is a hug, maybe a car ride and a Stephen Colbert marathon and we’ll snap out of it. And if we don’t, well then it’s because we’re just loving the attention or something.
“The combination of genetics and imaging technology is allowing researchers to prove Manic Depression is a disease passed on by mother and father and that it infects the chemical syringes in our heads, so that the controls on ‘how much’ and ‘when’ are set to ’shuffle’ and ‘repeat’.
“Clinical and Normal Depressions have direct and reasonable causes. Manic Depression has neither. Depression is something forced on us by the disease.”
“Frequently Unanswered Questions”; Me.
There are no cures for manic depression, or any other mental illness, and anyone who says there is or they have one is a fraud.
There is no doubt about this. No reputable company, university or researcher can claim to have more than a treatment or hope for one. Yet a small but very vocal group of people want you to believe there are people, specifically psychiatrists, claiming to have a cure. This straw-man argument allows this group of people to then claim psychiatrists, and the medications they prescribe, are frauds for claiming there are cures.
Many of these people using the straw man argument, after telling you psychiatrists are frauds, will then pitch the idea manic depression can be treated or even cured using natural methods, such as vitamins, amino acids or Lithium Orotate — which is not the Lithium commonly used to treat manic depression.
Manic depression, they’ll tell you, is not a disease. Neither are other mental illnesses, for that matter. Which is what their argument is really about: psychiatrists are frauds for telling you there’s a cure for what ails you, but what they tell you is a disease is really just a state of mind which can be overcome with better nutrition.
Once we were diagnosed with a “mental illness” we became part of the pharmaceutical machinery which exists for no other reason than to make money off a fraudulent diagnosis, and the psychiatric industry with their grand political motives.
Most of their proof for this conspiracy comes from the relationship between researchers and the pharmaceutical industry, and really nowhere else. They believe we’ve either been deluded into believing in mental illness, hypnotized into believing we have one, or we’ve unwittingly become part of a vast conspiracy by accepting treatment.
The “anti-psychiatry movement” believes they are the natural continuation of the Civil Rights movement. That psychiatry is The Man keeping us down. The MindFreedom organization, for example, believes they are advocating patient rights, but describes a past president of their association as a “long-time activist in the movement for a nonviolent revoluion [sic] in the mental health system”, like maybe there’s an option to their Sinn Fein.
Meanwhile the anti-pharmaceutical movement is against using medications to treat any mental illness. Partially over their belief the medications only get to market thanks to bribes paid to researchers by the pharmaceutical industry, but also their belief those medications are highly addictive. They are in favour, however, of using nutritional supplements which, as a treatment for anything more than deficiencies in someone’s diet, only have the slimmest of anecdotal evidence and almost no FDA or Health Canada oversight.
Natural remedies are wonderful for depression. People who live in northern countries should be taking handfuls of Vitamin D, for example. But depression is not a disease. Manic depression is.
“Psychiatry never cured anything or anyone” is another of the common straw man arguments. The ‘anti people’ will tell you psychiatry and the medications used to treat us never cured anyone, but no one has ever claimed Wellbutrin or visiting a psychiatrist twice a month was a cure for manic depression. No one ever talked an episode of manic depression away.
The medications don’t cure manic depression, but when they work they offer us the clarity needed to take back our lives. The medications don’t solve our clinical depressions either, but they do give us time to work out our issues safely. Taken properly psych meds, just like all the other types of medications available to us, do save lives, just not every life. People taking medications to control their mental illness die, just like people taking treatment for cancer die.
The anti-psych/pharma believers will take those incidents of great tragedy — someone dying while in treatment for a mental illness, someone being misdiagnosed, or someone experiences the worst side effects from any medication — and turn them into the norm which they then use as proof of some grand conspiracy or great crime. By obsessing over the tragedies, however, they’re ignoring the majority of us who are continuing to succeed in our recoveries, aided in part by the things they’re so against.
Writing about people who believe in grand conspiracies tends to make the writer seem as paranoid, but the anti-psych/pharma movements are more than just a dozen bloggers with a few ‘advocacy’ links in their blogroll.
It involves groups like The Icarus Project, who believe manic depression is some sort of art gene which must be protected against medications. And MindFreedom, which claims to work as an advocate for people with mental illness, but really wants psychiatry abolished — currently they’re trying to raise money to create a directory for “humane alternatives to the traditional mental health system”.
Not just ‘alternatives’, but “humane” ones… because the methods currently used by the mental health system, in their opinion, aren’t.
And if we were to take the entire system and go back in time a few decades, they might have a case. Because the mental health system of every country has many dark and horrible corners. The common thread from the founding of the anti-psych/pharma movements in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s until now is their opposition to “forced psychiatric treatment”, specifically electroshock treatments.
But the treatment they’re so virulently against is one of the rarest offered. What they’re spending so much time and effort railing against almost never happens against a patients will, and can only be done against their will through a court. In Canada and the United States, for example, patients are given legal representation and a judicial hearing to decide whether the procedure can go forward without the patients consent.
It’s interesting how many of the testimonials offered on the MindFreedom site are from people who experienced ECT during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Which, considering imaging technology has only recently allowed researchers to see the brain function without taking the top of your head off, is a completely different era of medicine.
Their testimonials are heart wrenching accounts of abuse and neglect, and how they’ve managed to stand up and take back their lives is testament to their courage. Some of these people were truly butchered by their doctors, and each deserves at least an apology for their abuse.
But having an anti-psychiatry movement with a goal of abolishing psychiatry because of the practises from thirty years ago is like having an anti-politician movement against Barack Obama because of Watergate.
Many of the anti-psychiatry/pharma believers have blogs and will relentlessly attack anyone who doubts their pain, or their movement, on them. And maybe because of the language they use, or the vehemence of their attack, they can be too easily dismissed as being just a bunch of fanatics.
But they’re not… they’re just like the rest of us, trying to find their own path to recovery. They’re maybe even more damaged than most of the rest of us. Many of them have been abused by people working in the same system which has helped me survive. For many of them their real target is the people who hurt them, but because they can’t sit that person down and scream long enough or loud enough, they’ve put a capital P on psychiatrist and scream at a system instead.
There are many improvements desperately needed in the mental health programs in every country, including the United States and Canada. Because the province of Ontario has closed so many mental health facilities, people suffering from mental illnesses are now being placed in prison when they should be in a hospital. At the same time prisoners are still being denied access to proper and sustained mental health care.
In a 2005 letter to the editor of The Kingston Whig Standard, David Simpson, the director of the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, an “arms length” program of the Ontario Ministry of Health, wrote:
“The system must include a full range of mental-health services that support inmates in their quest for wellness, recovery and rehabilitation. These include assessment, referral, treatment, counseling, crisis-intervention services, and case-management supports to assist with re-integration into the community. In addition, access to rights protection, rights advice and independent advocacy services must be guaranteed.
“Until these services are in place, the rights violations will continue to occur, inmates will continue to go without treatment, and there will be little or no recourse for those who should be in hospital and not jail. We can, and must, do better so inmates with mental illness receive the services and supports that they may want and need.”
Without being surrounded by the hyperbole of conspiracy the requests for greater patient involvement in their treatment seems more than reasonable. We, the people who are sick, need as many rights and options for treatment as we can get.