Christianity’s Criminal History, 101

 

Editors’ note:

To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, see the abridged translation of Volume I (here).

 

The Christian Book Burning
and the Annihilation of Classical Culture

Where is the wise person? Where is the educated one? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

—St. Paul, I Corinthians 1:20

Charlatanism is initiated among you by the schoolteacher, and as you have divided the science into parts [sacred & profane], you have moved away from the only true one.

—Tatian

After Jesus Christ, all research is already pointless. If we believe, we no longer demand anything that goes beyond our faith.

—Tertullian

If you want to read historical narratives, there you have the Book of The Kings. If, on the contrary, you want to read the wise men and philosophers, you have the prophets… And if you long for the hymns, you also have the psalms of David.

—Apostolic Constitution (3rd Century)

Religion is, therefore, the central core of the entire educational process and must permeate all educational measures.

Lexicon for Catholic Life (1952)

 
Constantine ordered to burn the fifteen books of the work Against the Christians written by Porphyry, the most astute of the opponents of Christianity in the pre-Constantinian era: ‘The first state prohibition of books decreed in favour of the Church’ (Hamack). And his successors, Theodosius II and Valentinian III, condemned Porphyry’s work again to the bonfire, in 448. This happened after Eusebius of Caesarea had written twenty-five books against this work and the doctor of the Church Cyril nothing less than thirty.

Towards the end of the 4th century, during the reign of Emperor Valens, there was a great burning of books, accompanied by many executions. That Christian regent gave free rein to his fury for almost two years, behaving like ‘a wild beast’, torturing, strangulating, burning people alive, and beheading. The innumerable records allowed to find the traces of many books that were destroyed, especially in the field of law and the liberal arts. Entire libraries went to the fire in the East. Sometimes they were eliminated by their owners under the effect of panic.

On the occasion of the assaults on the temples, the Christians destroyed, especially in the East, not only the images of the gods but also the liturgical books and those of the oracles. The Catholic Emperor Jovian (363-364) had the Antioch library destroyed by fire: the same library installed there by his predecessor Julian the Apostate. Following the assault on the Serapis in 391, during which the sinister Patriarch Theophilus himself destroyed, axe in hand, the colossal statue of Serapis carved by the great Athenian artist Bryaxis, the library was consumed by flames.

After the library of the Museum of Alexandria, which already had 700,000 rolls, was consumed by a casual fire during the siege war by Cesar (48-47 BC), the fame of Alexandria as a city possessing the most numerous and precious bibliographic treasures only lasted thanks to the library of the Serapis, since the supposed intention of Antony to give Cleopatra, as compensation for the loss of the library of the museum, the entire library of Pergamum, with 200,000 rolls , does not seem to have come to fruition. The burning of libraries on the occasion of the assault on the temples was indeed something frequent, especially in the East.

It happened once again under the responsibility of Theophilus, following the destruction of an Egyptian sanctuary in Canopus and that of the Marneion of Gaza in 402.

At the beginning of the 5th century, Stilicho burned in the West—with great dismay on the part of the Roman aristocracy faithful to the religion of his elders—the books of the Sibyl, the immortal mother of the world, as Rutilius Claudius Namatianus complained. To him, the Christian sect seemed worse than the poison of Circe.

In the last decades of the 5th century, the libelli found there (‘these were an abomination in the eyes of God’—Rhetor Zacharias)—were burnt in Beirut before the church of St. Mary. The ecclesiastical writer Zacharias, who was then studying law in Beirut, played a leading role in this action supported by the bishop and state authorities. And in the year 562 Emperor Justinian, who had ‘pagan’ philosophers, rectors, jurists and physicians persecuted, ordered the burning of Greco-Roman images and books in the Kynegion of Constantinople, where the criminals were liquidated.

Apparently, already at the borderline of the Middle Ages, Pope Gregory I the Great, a fanatical enemy of everything classical, burned books in Rome. And this celebrity—the only one, together with Leo I, in gathering in his person the double distinction of Pope and Doctor of the Church—seems to have been the one who destroyed the books that are missing in the work of Titus Livy. It is not even implausible that it was he who ordered the demolition of the imperial library on the Palatine. In any case, the English scholastic John of Salisbury, bishop of Chartres, asserts that Pope Gregory intentionally destroyed manuscripts of classical authors of Roman libraries.

Everything indicates that many adepts of the Greco-Roman culture converted to Christianity had to prove to have really moved their convictions by burning their books in full view. Also, in some hagiographic narratives, both false and authentic, there is that commonplace of the burning of books as a symbol, so to speak, of a conversion story.

It was not always forced to go to the bonfire. Already in the first half of the 3rd century, Origen, very close in this regard to Pope Gregory, ‘desisted from teaching grammar as being worthless and contrary to sacred science and, calculating coldly and wisely, he sold all his works of the ancients authors with whom he had occupied until then in order not to need help from others for the sustenance of his life’ (Eusebius).

There is hardly anything left of the scientific critique of Christianity on the part of adherents to classical culture. The emperor and the Church took care of it. Even many Christian responses to it disappeared! (probably because there was still too much ‘pagan poison’ on its pages). But it was the classical culture itself on which the time came for its disappearance under the Roman Empire.
 

The annihilation of the Greco-Roman world

The last emperor of classical antiquity, the great Julian, certainly favoured the adherents of the old culture, but simultaneously tolerated the Christians: ‘It is, by the gods, my will that the Galileans not be killed, that they are not beaten unjustly or suffer any other type of injustice. I declare, however, that the worshipers of the gods will have a clear preference in front of them. For the madness of the Galileans was about to overthrow everything, while the veneration of the gods saved us all. That is why we have to honour the gods and the people and communities that venerate them’.

After Julian’s death, to whom the orator Libanius felt united by faith and friendship, Libanius complains deeply, moved by the triumph of Christianity and by its barbarous attacks on the old religion.

Oh! What a great sorrow took hold not only of the land of the Achaeans, but of the entire empire… The honours of which the good ones participated have disappeared; the friendship of the wicked and unbridled enjoys great prestige. Laws, repressive of evil, have already been repealed or are about to be. Those that remain are barely fulfilled in practice.

Full of bitterness, Libanius continues to address his co-religionists:

That faith, which until now was the object of mockery and that fought against you so fierce and untiring, has proved to be the strongest. It has extinguished the sacred fire, the joy of sacrifices, has ordered to savagely neat [its adversaries] and demolish the altars. It has locked the shrines and temples, if not destroyed them or turned them into brothels after declaring them impious. It has abrogated any activity with your faith…

In that final assault on the Greco-Roman world, the Christian emperors were mostly and for a long time less aggressive than the Christian Church. Under Jovian (363-364), the first successor of Julian, Hellenism does not seem to have suffered major damage except the closure and demolition of some temples. Also the successors of Jovian, Valentinian I and Valens, during whose government appears for the first time the term pagani referring the faithful of the old polytheism, maintained an attitude of relative tolerance toward them.

The Catholic Valentinian with plenty of reasons, because his interest was in the army and needed inner peace, tried to avoid religious conflicts. He still covered the high positions of the government almost evenly, even with a slight predominance of the believers in the gods.

Under Valens, nevertheless, the high Christian officials already constituted a majority before the Hellenes. Yet he fought the Catholics, even using the help of the Hellenes for reasons, of course, purely opportunistic.

Although the emperor Gratian, for continuing the rather liberal religious policy of his father Valentinian I, had promised tolerance to almost all the confessions of the empire by an edict promulgated in 378, in practice soon followed an opposite behaviour, for he was strongly influenced by the bishop of Milan, Ambrose.

Under Valentinian II, brother of Gratian, things really turned around and the relationship between high Christian officials and the adherents of the old culture was again balanced and the army chiefs, two polytheists, played a decisive role in the court. Even in Rome two other Hellenes of great prestige, Praetextatus and Symmachus, exerted the charges of praetorian and urban prefect respectively.

Gradually, however, Valentinian, as his brother once did, fell under the disastrous influence of the resident bishop of Milan, Ambrose. Something similar to what would happen later with Theodosius I. Ambrose lived according to his motto: ‘For the “gods of the heathen are but devils” as the Holy Scripture says; therefore, anyone who is a soldier of this true God must not give proof of tolerance and condescension, but of zeal for faith and religion’.

And indeed, the powerful Theodosius ruled during the last years of his term, at least as far as religious policy was concerned, strictly following Ambrose’s wishes. First, the rites of non-Christians were definitively banned at the beginning of 391. Later the temples and sanctuaries of Serapis in Alexandria were closed, which soon would be destroyed. In 393 the Olympic games were prohibited. The infant emperors of the 5th century [1] were puppets in the hands of the Church. That is why the court also committed itself more and more intensely in the struggle against classical culture, a struggle that the Church had already vehemently fuelled in the 4th century and that led gradually to the systematic extermination of the old faith.

The best-known bishops took part in this extermination, which intensified after the Council of Constantinople (381), with Rome and the East, especially Egypt, as the most notorious battlefields of the conflict between the Hellenes and the Christians.
 
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[1] Deschner is referring to emperors Arcadius, Theodosius II and Honorius whose reigns will be described in other translations of his books.

Absolute imbecility

I had said in my last post that I would not add new posts this weekend. However, the drama in the neighbouring country of the north for the confirmation of Kavanaugh moves me to say a few words.

My life was destroyed (I was shipwrecked for decades) since my father began to believe from my mother a torrent of lies that she said about me throughout my adolescence. I try to explain why my mother did that in some pages of my two thick autobiographical books. Here I will not go into details, except saying that some parents, who were mistreated as children, become volcanoes of contained rage due to the commandment to honour our parents. Psychic volcanoes explode once these adult children get married, but they explode transferentially: with their own children.

But it was not my mother’s psychosis—a focalised psychosis, like a laser, on her first child—what destroyed me. What destroyed me was the folie à deux of my father with her: who subscribed her delusional system. In his marriage, my father was always a codependent child. When I began to grow up, instead of confronting his wife he found it more comfortable to share her psychosis. And since it was a focalised psychosis of his wife over her eldest son, my father joined her resulting in an amplifying spiral of abuse toward his son who most loved him: a spiral from my fifteenth to my nineteen.

But the story does not end there. My mother requested the services of a witchdoctor to finish destroying me. And when I wanted to ask for help with relatives and friends, nobody wanted to hear my story. ‘If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one’, is how one character summarises the issues in the film Spotlight, best picture at the 2015 Oscars. But the type of abuse in that film was incomparably less soul-murdering than what my sister and I suffered.

The rage I feel for the treacherous humanity that is so evident in my exterminationist faith is due to such a betrayal that society inflicted on me, but especially my father, because before he let himself be engulfed by his wife’s psychosis, I had been his favourite son. He lambasted, over the years, the son who loved him most simply because, in his codependent fusion, he could not but follow and follow his wife to the end of the world.

When, decades later, I managed to confront him in writing (the first part of Hojas Susurrantes) and especially orally, my father seemed to concede some of his guilt. But the codependent dynamic of a defamatory mother and a gullible father continued to the extent of driving my sister mad, who finally died in 2016. (Whoever wants to get an idea of how my sister was driven mad by parental abuse, read John Modrow’s book that I quoted in this post.)

So when I see the male protesters outside the Supreme Court with placards that you got to believe the women ‘victims’, the absolute imbecility of my codependent father cannot but come to mind for having always believed the paranoia of his crazed woman.

He who does not have the remotest idea of how a family dynamic goes from being dysfunctional to abusive, and from abusive to a spiral of amplifying abuse to the point of murdering a child’s soul, should read Modrow’s book. I think my autobiographical books are better but they have not been translated into English. If you do not have the motivation to even read Modrow’s book, at least take this class from Colin Ross…

Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm  Comments Off on Absolute imbecility  
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The nature of evil:

The self-righteousness of (((Viktor Frankl)))

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. Below, an abridged translation of a chapter of one of my books:
 
It would seem that in this series on psychiatry I portray psychiatrists as the nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: one of the coldest villains, yet of softest voice, that has seen the film industry. But that is Hollywood; reality is not like a movie where the villain possess a perfect consciousness of the evil she does, so much so that the spectator becomes excited when Jack Nicholson throws himself to the nurse’s neck to strangulate her. Alienists are not Ratched, nor my objective to film them as such.

Evil is not to do evil for the sake of evil. Evil is to believe that the good is being done, it is the faith with a smile, the educated dogma untouched by doubt, the ideology with charisma. It was an educated and preoccupied theology with saving souls what moved the inquisitors to burn countless women labelled ‘witches’. It was an ideology with an enlightened smile what moved the Jacobins to decapitate not only blond aristocrats, but also thousands of simple citizens. It was the dogma of a philosopher that half humanity took as its second Messiah what moved the artificers of the Gulag Holocaust. How many more souls have not been destroyed or driven mad by other men so well-intentioned as the psychiatrists? Because it is the belief that the identified child by the parents has to be ‘treated’ what moves them to re-victimize children and teenagers condemning them to the hells of panic.

To be convinced of one’s own rectitude is a notion of evil not yet accepted by common sense, a notion about which we human beings have to ponder about. Not even the immortals seem to know it, not a Homer nor a Dante nor a Shakespeare. Solzhenitsyn wrote:

Just how are we to understand [evil]? As the act of an evildoer? What sort of behaviour is this? Do such people really exist?

We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren’t any. It is permissible to portray evildoers in a story for children, so as to keep the picture simple. But when the great world literature of the past—Shakespeare, Schiller, Dickens—inflates and inflates images of evildoers of the blackest shades, it seems somewhat farcical and clumsy to our contemporary perception. The trouble lies in the way these classic evildoers are pictured. They recognize themselves as evildoers, and they know their souls are black. And they reason: ‘I cannot live unless I do evil. So I’ll set my father against my brother! I will drink the victim’s sufferings until I’m drunk with them!’ Iago very precisely identifies his purposes and his motives as being black and born of hate.

But no; that’s not the way it is! To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law.

Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions. Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble—and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology…

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed. How then, do we dare to insist that evildoers do not exist? And who was it that destroyed these millions? Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago…

That is the precise line the Shakespearean evildoer could not cross. But the evildoer with ideology does cross it, and his eyes remain dry and clear. [1]

Sixty million were killed by Stalin’s (((willing executioners))).[2] But Solzhenitsyn’s vision of evil can be also illustrated through psychiatric practice.

Electroshock, that some psychiatrists use in their private offices, artificially produces an epileptic seizure so severe that some decades ago, when the body was not tied up and paralyzed with drugs, the violent muscular spasm occasionally broke the patient’s vertebrae. At present, in the subsequent instants of electroshock the EEG waves become temporarily flat, exactly what happens in brain death. And what about its therapeutic effects? It has been demonstrated that electroshock produces memory loss, in other words: brain damage. I obtained the information of this paragraph from a book by a psychiatrist who denounces the crimes of his profession.[3] But despite this denunciation and numerous protests from those who have been injured in their memories, in the United States thousands of persons are exposed to electroshock each year.

For the psychiatrist to openly say he injures a healthy brain it is evident that, as Solzhenitsyn says, he has an ideology: he is convinced that what he does is good and necessary. Just remember Dr. Massini’s letter about Julie. He re-victimized the mentally sane Julie by committing her to the psychiatric ward with the cleanest conscience. To mercenary bring oneself on the side of an abusive father, which is a reprobate act for us, for this physician’s eyes was so perfectly natural that he left it on the paper so that future generations may judge him.

That psychiatrists behave towards the children that their parents bring to them as third-class citizens is attested when pointing out the fact that they don’t warn them about the risk that the ingestion of psychiatric drugs carries within. Only psychiatric critics know that neuroleptics are potent neurotoxins that affect brain cells, and that those under this drug suffer from tardive dyskinesia, a permanent and irreversible neurological disorder.

But the ultimate truth is that neuroleptics don’t mend diseases: they cause diseases. This is so true that even a textbook of psychiatry confesses that ‘antipsychotic drugs have been termed “neuroleptics”, in that these drugs’ actions imitate a neurological disease’.[4] The supposed ‘antipsychotic’ effect of the neuroleptic is actually a state of emotional indifference. The individuals under this drug become lethargic, they become more docile and manageable for the family and the psychiatrist hired by them. In fact, this stupor effect has been called chemical straightjacket and even chemical lobotomy. Peter Sterling, neuroanatomist of the University of Pennsylvania wrote:

At any rate, a psychiatrist would be hard-put to distinguish a lobotomized patient from one treated with chlorpromazine [a neuroleptic]. [5]

Surgical lobotomy cuts off the fibbers that come and go from the frontal lobes; chemical lobotomy produced by neuroleptics disables the fibbers that go to these lobules. This iatrogenic zeal is found even in the most beloved psychiatrists and considered the most humane. How pertinent it is to quote Viktor Frankl whom twenty-nine universities conferred titles of doctor honoris causa:

In my department at the Vienna Polyclinic, we use drugs, and we use electro-convulsive treatment [electroshock]. I have signed the authorization for lobotomies without having cause to regret it. In a few cases, I have even carried out transorbital lobotomy. However, I promise you that the human dignity of our patients is not violated in this way… What matters is not a technique or therapeutic approach as such, be it drug treatment or shock treatment, but the spirit in which it is being carried out [my italics]. [6]

The city of Austin awarded Viktor Frankl as ‘Honorary Citizen of the Capital of Texas’ in 1976. Frankl’s words are a perfect paradigm of the Solzhenitsyn vision of evil: if a dude’s spirit or intentions are good, his actions have to be good.

Frankl, a so-called victim of the Nazis in Auschwitz (if he was a true victim the Nazis would have killed him), once in power committed terrible atrocities, always convinced of his own rectitude. It goes without saying that, from the patient’s view, it is irrelevant that Frankl claimed to be well-meaning; what he did to him was mutilation. (Psychosurgery such as lobotomy means to operate perfectly healthy brains of those unfortunate to fall into the hands of psychiatrists like Frankl. On the other hand, neurosurgery means to operate genuinely sick brains like one with a cancerous tumour. Again, the pseudo-science of psychiatry should not be confused with neurological science.)

It is very telling that Frankl promises that his patients’ dignity, whose healthy brains were mutilated, was not violated. This is a classic rhetorical device in the psychiatric profession. Obviously the only one who can pronounce this judgement is the so-called patient, but our society has allowed that his inquisitor to be the one who talks in his name. Not to let talk someone who shouts ‘Don’t mutilate my brain!’ and to say the opposite to public opinion, ‘The human dignity of my patient is not violated’ is what George Orwell called a black-white use of language. [7]

Of course, Frankl wouldn’t have performed his dignified surgical lobotomies if the broader gentile society wouldn’t have granted him tremendous inquisitorial power.
 
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[1] Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag archipelago (Harvill Press, 1999), pp. 77f.

[2] See ‘The Sixty Million: Jews & Bolshevism’ by Dara Halley-James (Counter-Currents, August 4, 2016).

[3] Toxic psychiatry (op. cit.), p. 195.

[4] Quoted in ibid., p. 68.

[5] Quoted in ibid., p. 57. Dr. Breggin talks about the functional equivalence between psychical lobotomy and chemical lobotomy in chapter 3.

[6] Quoted in Thomas Szasz, The myth of psychotherapy: mental healing as religion, rhetoric and repression (Syracuse University Press, 1988), p. 205. Frankl’s words originally appeared in Encounter (November 1969), p. 56.

[7] In George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen eighty-four the blackwhite slogans of the party were: ‘War is peace’, ‘Freedom is slavery’ and ‘Ignorance is strength’.

Darkening Age, 11

As the epigraph of ‘How to Destroy a Demon’, chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey chose a passage from an hagiography of a so-called saint, The Life of Martin: ‘He completely demolished the temple belonging to the false religion and reduced all the altars and statues to dust’.
 

The pages of history might overlook this destruction, but stone is less forgetful. Go to Room 18 in the British Museum in London and you will find yourself in front of the Parthenon Marbles, taken from Greece by Lord Elgin in the nineteenth century.

The astonishingly lifelike statues are, today, in a sorry state: many are mutilated or missing limbs. This, it is often assumed, was the fault of Lord Elgin’s clumsy workmen or fighting during the Ottoman occupation. And indeed some of this was—but not all. Much was the work of zealous Christians who set about the temple with blunt instruments, attacking the ‘demonic’ gods, mutilating some of the finest statuary Greece had ever produced.

The East Pediment fared particularly badly. Hands, feet, even whole limbs have gone—almost certainly smashed off by Christians trying to incapacitate the demons within. The vast majority of the gods have been decapitated—again, almost certainly the work of Christians. The great central figures of the Pediment, that would have shown the birth of Athena, were the most sacred—and thus to the Christians the most demonic. They therefore suffered most: it is likely that they were pushed off the Pediment—and smashed on the ground below, their fragmented remains ground down and used for mortar for a Christian church.

The same tale is told by objects in museums and archaeological sites across the world. Near the Marbles in the same museum is a basalt bust of Germanicus. Two blows have hacked off his nose and a cross has been cut in his forehead. In Athens, a larger­than-life statue of Aphrodite has been disfigured by a crude cross carved on her brow; her eyes have been defaced and her nose is missing. In Cyrene, the eyes have been gouged out of a life-sized bust in a sanctuary of Demeter, and the nose removed; in Tuscany a slender statue of Bacchus has been decapitated.

In the Sparta Archaeological Museum, a colossal statue of the goddess Hera looks blindly out, her eyes disfigured by crosses. A beautiful statue of Apollo from Salamis has been castrated and then struck, hard, in the face, shearing off the god’s nose. Across his neck are scars indicating that Christians attempted to decapitate him but failed.

In Palmyra Museum there stood, at least until the city’s recent occupation by Islamic State, the mutilated and reconstructed figure of the once-great figure of Athena that had dominated a temple there. A huge dent in her once-handsome face was all that remained when her nose was smashed off. A recent book on the Christian destruction of statues focusing just on Egypt and the Near East runs to almost three hundred pages, dense with pictures of mutilation.

But while some evidence remains, much has gone entirely. The point of destruction is, after all, that it destroys. If effective, it more than merely defaces something. It obliterates all evidence that the object ever existed. We will never know quite how much was wiped out. Many statues were pulverized, shattered, scattered, burned and melted into absence. Tiny piles of charred ivory and gold are all that remain of some. Others were so well disposed of that they will probably not be found: they were thrown into rivers, sewers and wells, never to be seen again. The destruction of other sacred objects is, because of the nature of the object, all but impossible to detect.

The sacred groves of the old gods for example, those tranquil natural shrines like the one Pliny had so admired, were set about with axes and their ancient trees hacked down. Pictures, books, ribbons even, could be seen as the work of the devil and thus removed and destroyed. Certain sorts of musical instruments were censured and stopped: as one Christian preacher boasted; the Christians smashed the flutes of the ‘musicians of the demons’ to pieces. Some of the demolition, such as that of the temple of Serapis, was so terrible that several authors recorded it.

Other moments of vandalism were immortalized in glowing terms in Christian hagiographies. Though these are the exceptions. Far more violence was buried in silence.

Psychiatric re-victimization

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. Below, an abridged translation of a chapter of one of my books:

 
Let us imagine Dora, a girl in a state of trauma because she was raped by her father. Imagine that instead of taking her to a common hospital, she is taken by her father to a psychiatric ward. The girl does not want to go there. All she wants is for some of her loved ones to comfort her. What would she feel if the admissions officer to the ward told her?:

We are going to commit you. The rape did not cause any trauma. That is completely surpassed in scientific psychiatry. You live in a paranoid, world Dora. Because of your symptoms, my diagnosis is that you suffer from schizoidism. And you run the risk of schizophrenia. A chemical imbalance in your brain is causing your anxiety attacks.

I see that my scientific interpretation causes you panic… Do you know, Dora, that the first sign of recovery of a teenager who feels violated is to accept that she is a sick woman? For the same reason, and to help you accept it, my prescription is to bombard your brain with antipsychotics.

Any rejection of my diagnosis and prescription will be considered resistance. And the resistance to you taking your meds, my dear Dora, is involuntary commitment in this ward.

Would not this ‘bio-reductionist’ interpretation—which reduces our pains to a biological factor—be an additional blow to this minor, something even more devastating than her father’s rape? The example, although hypothetical, illustrates what happens to many adolescents in the doctors’ offices: something that I call the re-traumatization or re-victimization of a victim, which could be defined in thus:

In common jurisprudence, measures are taken against the aggressor. In psychiatric jurisprudence, measures are taken against the victim.

Does this sound like Alice in Wonderland? In real life there was a case in which psychiatrists diagnosed a young victim of rape as ‘schizophrenic’. And even more incredible: a fourteen-year-old girl in a state of trauma for having been raped was electro-shocked, against her will, by the psychiatrists.[1]

These are not isolated cases. The following is an example of psychiatric re-victimization in the United States:

Rana Lee remembers the time she went to her doctor because her husband was beating her. The doctor, she told a congressional committee, ‘prescribed 10 milligrams of Valium three times a day to calm me down… He refilled it for five years, with no questions asked’. [2]

This doctor prescribed to drug not the aggressor, but the victim of the aggressor. I have heard testimonies from women that something similar happened to them. But at least these women were saved from a psychiatric diagnosis, not another victim of domestic abuse:

Psychiatrists are fond of stressing how much suffering schizophrenia causes. However, I can truthfully say being labeled a schizophrenic has caused me a hundred times as much suffering as the so-called ‘illness’ itself. Since recovering my sanity in 1961, I have spent decades struggling to gain some measure of self-understanding and self-esteem. In this regard, I never fully recovered from what psychiatry and my parents did to me until I finally realized I had never been ill in the first place. [3]

This confession comes from John Modrow. Re-victimized by psychiatrists, Modrow concludes that psychiatric praxis seems to be calculated to drive a person, who has already been traumatized, into madness.

A psychological re-traumatization is a direct violation of the Hippocratic oath: Primum non nocere!, first, do no harm. The practice itself of psychiatry represents a violation of this oath. ‘How, for example, can a psychiatrist validate his identity as a medical doctor without labeling others as mentally sick’, asks Modrow, ‘that is to say, without dehumanizing others and thoroughly destroying their identities?’ [4]

Of the theoreticians who approached the subject of what I have called here re-victimized victims, Harry Sullivan made the most valuable contribution to understand the interior world of these individuals. According to the Sullivan-Modrow model, the panic that makes a re-victimized victim enter a state of madness is caused by a consecutive series of external assaults that collapse the individual’s defences. In his self-analysis, Modrow ratifies Sullivan’s notion that when these defences collapse, ‘the individual goes into an intense state of panic and simply comes “unglued”, so to speak. In this panic state, the individual has a terrifying vision of himself as a person of no value or worth’. Talking about his own experiences, Modrow adds that ‘painful memories once repressed rise and come flooding into awareness with a gruesome, hallucinatory vividness’. [5]

The experience of the demolishing panic of the inner self could be described as a tearing up of the self where the betrayal of the universe is experienced. We could illustrate it if we imagine that Dora escaped the mental institution just to be repudiated by her extended family, as it was accustomed to do with raped girls. What would she feel? According to Modrow, the panic state that immediately preceded his own mental breakdown was ‘the most appalling and devastating experience that any person can undergo’. [6]

Pre-psychotic panic is the state when the mental health of an individual is at most risk. In this state the mind loses its centripetal force that gives cohesion to its inner self, so to speak.

I dislike medical terminology to speak about problems of the soul. Yet, I could say that Modrow’s panic attacks were iatrogenic. Iatrogenesis (from Greek iatros, physician) is one of the aberrations of the psychiatric profession. In his misguided endeavours to heal the therapist provokes new and more serious disorders than the already existent.[7]

The re-victimization of a victim of family abuse, frequently iatrogenic, is central to understand the nature of psychiatry but very few critics of psychiatry have pointed out to something so consequential. The exception is precisely Modrow:

The psychological harm which psychiatrists inflict on their patients is a subject which is not often discussed. One reason why this topic is seldom discussed has to do with the fact that the people who are the most knowledgeable on this subject—namely, the people who have been psychologically damaged by psychiatry—are rarely listened or taken seriously. The entire narrative section of this book [How to Become a Schizophrenic] illustrates the kind of psychological harm which psychiatry can cause. [8]

Due to the double spiral of extreme abuse, parental and psychiatric, the young Modrow had a psychotic episode. For a brief time he believed himself to be John the Baptist: a delirium of grandeur which, according to Modrow himself, was nothing more than a desperate attempt of his unconscious to super-compensate the feeling of bestial humiliation occasioned by his parents and the doctors paid by his mother.

___________

[1] The young man’s case is mentioned in Peter Breggin: Beyond Conflict: From Self-Help and Psychotherapy to Peacemaking (St. Martin’s Press, 1992) p. 107; that of the girl, in T. Baker: ‘The minor issue of electroconvulsive therapy’, Nature Medicine, 1, pp. 199-200.

[2] Rana Lee, quoted en Breggin: Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the ‘New Psychiatry’ (St. Martin’s Press, 1994), p. 219.

[3] John Modrow: How To Become a Schizophrenic: The Case Against Biological Psychiatry (Apollyon Press, 1996), pp. 147f.

[4] Ibid., p. 227.

[5] Ibid, p. 18.

[6] Ibid., p. 19.

[7] An explanation of psychiatric iatrogenesis appears in chapter 5 of Robert Baker’s Mind Games: Are We Obsessed With Therapy? (Prometheus Books, 1996). Incidentally, in 1994 I talked to Dr. Baker personally in a conference of critics of pseudosciences.

[8] Modrow: How To Become a Schizophrenic, p. 226.

Published in: on September 18, 2018 at 12:01 am  Comments (9)  
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Akathisia: the torments of the neuroleptic

– mistakenly called ‘anti-psychotic’ –

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. The below article, translated and adapted from the original in Spanish, already presupposes a previous reading about akathisia within my online book: the torture of inner anxiety artificially induced by the involuntary administration of some drugs.
 

‘These drugs are not used to heal or help, but to torture and control. It’s that simple’. —Janet Gotkin [1]

For some time doctors have used substances to control people. The most famous case was that of King George III of England. The same year that the French Revolution broke out an alienist secretly sprayed an emetic on his meals to subdue him.

The effect of contemporary drugs induces such a mental torture, like the case of the young Ricardo [mentioned in the online book] that some people have hanged themselves, thrown from the buildings, stabbed or killed in other ways. An American study showed that eighty percent of these suicides suffered from akathisia due to neuroleptics. It could be said that if drugs like marijuana or cocaine are taken voluntarily to cause pleasure, neuroleptics are administered involuntarily to cause torment.

In the early 1960s, the decade of civil strife par excellence, the victims of akathisia began to defend themselves from the torture by refusing to take the pills. The drug companies reacted: they began to replace the pills with colourless and odourless liquids so that they could be secretly mixed in the meals.

In the United States, the lawyers of the pharmaceutical corporations have argued in the courts that it was legitimate to force an individual and inject him these drugs, or put them in his meals furtively.[2] There are even mental health organisations that occasionally advise putting psychiatric drugs in children’s food in order to control them.[3] That the object of these drugs is control was recognised in cases of dissidents of the communist Soviet system who were imprisoned in psychiatric wards and administered the same type of drug that in the West is applied to some rebellious teenagers.

In March 1976, the Russian mathematician Leonid Plyush told a scientific meeting in New York that his colleagues locked him up in the Special Psychiatric Hospital Dneprospetrovsk. He lived in constant fear of the effects of neuroleptics, and heard stories that these drugs had driven mad some of the interns. Others declared that these chemicals were used in them ‘to inflict suffering on them and thus obtain their complete subjugation’. Speaking in the United States Senate, Vassily Chernishov declared about the akathisia he experienced: ‘Although I am afraid of death, let them shoot me rather than this’. These political dissidents complained that the modern neuroleptic is a more inhuman form of seclusion than any prisoner has ever experienced before. [4]

What distinguishes us from animals is a protruding development of the frontal lobes: the part of our brain that allows us to have abstract ideas and plan for the future. If we compare ourselves with the other species of animals, in the frontal lobes our aristocratic faculties reside: we have them much more developed than in primates and are barely visible in other mammals. These lobes are the seat of our intelligence, the part of the brain responsible for civilisation.

For the same reason, these lobes are the favourite target of what Orwell called thoughtpolice. That in the former Soviet Union the thoughtpolice used neuroleptics to attack the faculties of the political dissident is explicable in a totalitarian regime. How was it possible to do that in presumably free and democratic nations? In what perverse mind could the idea of doing that to a boy or girl fit? Should not the professional who recommends parents drug their sane child be in jail? Are there academic professors and doctors in the West who conspire with the parents to subjugate the child as the Soviets did?

Although I suspected that psychiatry was not a true science, my ignorance of its criminal past was almost total. But during a stay in England in 1998-1999 I took courses of biology and mental health at the Open University.

Thanks to my stay in Manchester I was able to read two extra curricular authors: Thomas Szasz and Jeffrey Masson. There is no more devastating critic of a religion, sect, party or pseudoscience than the one who dedicated years of his life to it and realised its erroneous foundations. Although, as we will see, I have distanced myself from the thought of Szasz, I find myself in immense debt with these two apostates of their profession. Both opened my eyes to what psychiatry and psychoanalysis really are.

Jeffrey Masson showed me that the vast majority of psychotherapies, at least as they are practiced today, are the younger sisters of the psychiatrist, as we will see in the section about Freud in this book. Both are professions that blame the victim for the ravages caused by abusive parents. Without Szasz and Masson I could hardly have corrected my position prior to my maturity, when I still believed in the legitimacy of psychoanalysis.

Peter Breggin has spoken of the folie à trois between some parents who mistreat their child and the psychiatric profession that drugs not the aggressors, but the abused child. In this book I focus on this collusion between parents with psychiatrists. It is a known fact that, from its origins in the asylum institution in the 17th century, parents have used psychiatry to control their children.

Breggin has talked a lot about the harm caused by the drugs that parents advised by psychiatrists administer to their children, including the fad of medicating children who become restless or distracted in traditional schools. Currently, in North America alone, several million of these children are being drugged legally, some as young as one or two years of age. The Big Pharma makes a killing by considering diseases conditions such as ‘hyperactivity’ or ‘attention deficit’, thus converting children into an unlimited market.

Another guide for this book was the heroic autobiography of John Modrow who confesses that, due to the mistreatment of his parents and some psychiatrists, he suffered terrible panic attacks when he was a lad, becoming momentarily disturbed. Regarding the cases where the family uses psychiatry not to repress the behaviour of a sane member, but that of a genuinely disturbed person, I will show that even in those cases the psychiatric profession is harmful and fraudulent.

To visualize it, let’s compare the human mind with a computer. There are neurological diseases, such as tumours, that affect the ‘hardware’ of a person. But mental disorders are not found in this group. If the computer where I write this introduction was loaded with a defective version of a word processor and it is necessary to format it, the problem lies in the software of the machine. Likewise, in a human being, a bad software can be ‘programmed’ through emotional, physical and even sexual abuse at an early age: the province of the psychologist. Psychiatrists ignore this reality and attack the individual’s hardware: his brain.

But the mind is not the brain.

It is as absurd to confuse the human mind with the brain as to confuse the Word program with which I write this book with my CPU.

If something goes wrong with the way an individual sees the world—say, someone who believes himself to be Jesus Christ—the problem lies in his cognitive process, in his defence mechanisms; not necessarily in a physiological dysfunction of his brain. By attacking the brain with psychiatric drugs, electroshocks and lobotomies, the profession we call psychiatry re-victimises the disturbed victim. Following the above analogy it is as if, in my desperation to fix the malfunction of my machine, I got into the Mother Board circuits with cutting clips instead of installing the program again. Clarified this point I reiterate that in this book I focus on sane children assaulted by psychiatrists.

In the appendix I point out how so-called biological psychiatry does not meet the standards of a true science. Among several criteria that distinguish between true and false science I give special value to Karl Popper’s criterion, which I try to explain in the most didactic terms possible. If this book falls into the hands of a sophisticated individual who believes that psychiatry has a medical basis, I invite him to read that appendix, where I remove the scientific mask from psychiatry in one go. But in this book I will focus on how abusive parents use psychiatry to finish destroying one of their children.
_______________________

[1] Janet Gotkin: Too Much Anger, Too Many Tears (Time Book, 1975), p. 385. Gotkin is one of the few survivors of psychiatry who has managed to publish a book about what psychiatrists do to their victims.

[2] I read this in Robert Whitaker: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (Perseus, 2001), p. 214.

[3] An American told me in a personal email of August 2005: ‘I remember when I first got involved with anti-psych activities, and I heard NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness] psychiatrist (she was on the national board of NAMI, this was the late 80’s), and she was advising True Believers to sneak psych drugs in their children’s food, as she had done with her son—whom I never was able to meet to ask how I felt about this’.

[4] Mad in America, pp. 216s.

Published in: on September 6, 2018 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

From the Great Confinement of Louis XIV of France to a Chemical Gulag (part 4)

From pesticides to antipsychotics

May 1954 is a memorable date for psychiatrists. For the first time, a neuroleptic (popularly known as ‘antipsychotic’) was marketed, chlorpromazine, commercially named Thorazine in the United States and Largactil in some European countries, which revolutionised treatment in the profession.

The first generation of phenothiazines from which chlorpromazine emerged had been used for pesticide purposes in agriculture. In addition, experiments were known to induce catalepsy in animals.

The neuroleptic was a chemical intentionally designed as a neurotoxin, but millions of Thorazine prescriptions were prescribed in the United States. Under the effects of chlorpromazine, patients now could be ‘moved about like puppets’, and the first psychiatrist who experimented in the United States with this neuroleptic said that it ‘may prove to be a pharmacological substitute for lobotomy’.[23] The campaign to sell Thorazine to the American society was so fierce that the same professionals called ‘Thorazine assault troops’ the propagandists of the company that manufactured them.[24]

This was the first massive incursion in the world of public relations carried out by a pharmaceutical company in a market that previously was very small: institutional psychiatry. In its first year of marketing, Smith, Klein & French obtained 75 million dollars with that drug. The rest, as they say, is history.[25]

In 1955, Time magazine called the professionals who opposed chlorpromazine ‘ivory tower critics’. Gregory Zilboorg, the same psychiatrist who held the authors of the medieval Malleus Maleficarum in high esteem, said that the public was being deceived and that the drug only served to control the inpatient. Another doctor raised his voice and said that chlorpromazine was more dangerous than heroin and cocaine. But the publicity muffled all internal dissidence.

By the mid-1960s more than ten thousand medical articles had been written about chlorpromazine. There were television campaigns that omitted any mention of the Parkinsonian-like effects of the drug, and the magazines were paid substantial sums if they advertised in their main articles the miraculous chemical. Time, Fortune and the New York Times were some of these prostitutes of the pharmaceutical corporations.

The use of neuroleptics soon was considered cutting-edge among psychiatric treatments, triumphing over the induced commas with insulin, electroshock and lobotomy. In the 1960s the revolution of this miraculous alchemy, from pesticides to antipsychotics, was consummated and the mindset of the public had been implanted with the message that they were ‘anti-psychotic’ medicines: an idea that persists today.

By 1970, nineteen million prescriptions for neuroleptics had been prescribed, and not just for people who were disturbed. Some juvenile delinquents and rebellious teenagers who were given the neuroleptic called it ‘zombie juice’, but the professionals counterattacked by introducing the euphemism ‘major tranquilizers’.

At the end of March 2001 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, the prescription number of so-called ‘anti-psychotics’ was estimated in 43 million. In the case of children and adolescents, one study showed that between 1987 and 1996 the number of children who were given the drug had doubled. Between 1996 and 2000 the figure multiplied to reach the figure of one in fifty, although the most important age group was between 5 and 9 years old.[26]

The propaganda through which multinational drug companies infect civil society about the ‘need’ to take these neurotoxins is performed through campaigns of ‘education’ to medical visitors and counsellors of schools and parents. Joe Sharkey, a financial journalist and author of Bedlam: Greed, Profiteering and Fraud in a Mental Health System Gone Crazy, has reported that by the end of the 1980s, 25 percent of the earnings paid by health insurance went to the pockets of those who work in the area of mental health, largely due to the psychiatric treatment of these rebellious adolescents.[27]

Furthermore, since the 1970s these professionals entered into a frank association with the drug companies. The consortium between psychiatrists and Big Pharma (pharmaceutical multinationals) is so brazen that all psychiatric conferences are financed by these corporations, and in some medical centres all laboratory research is also financed by multinationals. These companies also fund psychiatric journals. In addition, a study of eight hundred articles by some of the most prestigious scientific journals that do not specialise in psychiatry (Science, Nature, Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Medicine) found that 34 percent of the authors had financial interests with the Big Pharma.

The pharmaceutical industry is the largest sponsor of psychiatric research in the United States, including research in universities and medical schools. It is estimated that in 1994 alone it spent one and a half billion dollars in academic research.[28] Some people have used the expression ‘Is academic medicine for sale?’ to describe this situation.

This is fundamental to understand why I say that psychiatrists, despite their impeccable medical credentials, enact a biased science. It is clear that the sponsorship that these companies provide results in biologicistic and pro-drug bias in research. The editors of specialised journals are very cautious when publishing articles by professionals who criticise biological psychiatry, especially if they question the effectiveness of psychotropic drugs or if they mention the terrible effects of drugs, such as tardive dyskinesia and dystonia produced by the so-called ‘antipsychotic’, symptoms which doctors euphemistically call ‘extrapyramidal symptoms’.

Drug companies spend huge sums on advertisements that appear in specialised journals, and the publishers are not willing to offend their sponsors with articles that denounce the epidemics of drug-induced tardive dyskinesia, on the threat that the companies will withdraw the advertising. The economic dependence of the journals with these companies leads not only to discretion, but many authors resort to self-censorship. As some mental health professionals say, the pharmaceutical industry owns the data obtained in the clinical tests it subsidizes and decides which studies should be published; chooses the authors, writes the articles and even the reviews to interpret the data.[29]

On the other hand, it is natural for new professionals in medical research to choose the area of the most promising future, that which is generously financed by the drug companies. That is where the funds for their careers are found. There is a whole book on the subject, How the Pharmaceutical Industry Bankrolled the Unholy Marriage Between Science and Business of Linda Marsa, and this trend is much more evident in psychiatry. In a psychiatric journal there is less guarantee of scientific accuracy than in other specialised journals. In the profession it is no longer heard, as it used to be in the 1950s and 1960s, that abusive parents drive their children mad. The economic interests to hide this reality are enormous.

For example, in the mid-1990s a pharmaceutical market analyst claimed that the US $1 billion market for neuroleptics could grow to 4.5 billion a year. In May 2001, a report by the Wall Street Journal evaluated the neuroleptic market at 5 billion dollars a year, five hundred percent growth in five years.

The total sales of neuroleptics in the United States in 2000 was 2.5 billion dollars, and international sales reached 6 billion dollars that same year. Only the neuroleptic Zyprexa gave Eli Lilly $ 1 billion in profits in 1998 (the incorrectly referred to as ‘antipsychotics’ are even used in veterinary!). In 1999/2000, the United States led the Western consumption of neuroleptics with 65 percent, followed by Europe with 22 percent and Latin America with 2.5 percent. (I am not counting Russia, Asia or Africa). Given that there are many people who want to control others in prisons, asylums, insane hospitals, correctional facilities for minors and even at home, the growth of market demand for these terrible drugs is comprehensible.[30]

These figures are key to understanding the psychiatry of our days: a chemical Gulag.
_______________

[23] Heinz Lehmann, quoted in ibid., p. 144.

[24] These words from the pharmaceutical company Smith, Kline & French appear in Loren Mosher: ‘Soteria and other alternatives to acute psychiatric hospitalization’ in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (1999, 187), that I read on the internet.

[25] Loren Mosher, Richard Gosden & Sharon Beder, ‘Las empresas farmacéuticas y la esquizofrenia’ en Modelos de locura, pp. 141s.

[26] These figures appear in Modelos de locura, pages 124s.

[27] Sharkey: Bedlam, p. 4. Sharkey’s book takes as a central theme the unjustified hospitalisations set up by psychiatrists, especially children and adolescents, to get as much money as possible from the insurance companies of their parents.

[28] This information appears in Valenstein: Blaming the Brain, pp. 199 & 187.

[29] Modelos de locura, p. 144.

[30] See Whitaker: Mad in America, and Valenstein: Blaming the Brain, chapter 6. See also Richard Gosden and Sharon Beder: ‘Pharmaceutical industry agenda setting in mental health policies’ in Ethical Human Science and Services (Autumn/Winter 2000). I wrote this piece fifteen years ago and have not checked the latest stats in scholarly journals. However, I keep watching Robert Whitaker’s updated videos in YouTube. Nothing in recent years has moved me to change my mind.

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From the Great Confinement of Louis XIV of France to a Chemical Gulag (part 3)

The great revolution in modern psychiatry occurred in the 1930s. Previously, with his instruments Heinroth and his colleagues had assaulted the body of citizens to control. But in the 1930s the assault on the body was abandoned by a more effective method: assaulting the brain directly. Metrazol shock, insulin shock and electroshock were introduced knowing that it killed brain cells.

Pentylenetetrazol (commercially known as Metrazol in North America and Cardiazol in Europe) causes a huge reaction in the victims. They suffered seizures so violent that they frequently broke their teeth, bones and spine. Metrazol shock was so devastating to the brain that, once its effect passed, some suffered regressive states and acted like babies; they played with their faeces, masturbated and wanted the nurses to mollycoddle them. When they recovered they prayed ‘in the name of humanity’ that they would not be injected with Metrazol again: a drug that subjugated even the hardest of the military. But by 1939 it was common to use Metrazol in most hospitals of the United States, which meant that in those times some inmates used to receive several injections.

The New York Times, Harper’s, Time and even Reader’s Digest joined the chorus of praises about a similar psychiatric treatment: insulin shock, which also produced frightening seizures. A Time writer wrote that while the patient descends in the coma ‘he shouts and bellows, gives free vent to his hidden fears and obsessions, opens his mind wide to listening psychiatrists’. The psychoanalysts interpreted the complaints of the victims in favour of their colleagues. In a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association Roy Grinker interpreted that the patient ‘experiences the treatment as a sadistic punishment attack which satisfies his unconscious sense of guilt’.[16] Robert Whitaker, the author of a study on American psychiatry, calls this epoch, the first fifty years of the 20th century, ‘the darkest time’ in the history of psychiatry.

1935 marked the birth of lobotomy. Egas Moniz, a Portuguese psychiatrist, had started his experiments using alcohol to destroy the brain tissue of the frontal lobes, but changed the method by cutting them directly with a scalpel. His first guinea pig was a prostitute, and three months later he had lobotomised twenty people, each time daring to cut off more brain tissue from his victims. According to Moniz ‘to cure these patients we must destroy the more or less fixed arrangements of the cellular connections that exist in the brain’.[17] Moniz’s work led to an explosion of lobotomies in the West, especially in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Italy, Romania, Brazil, Cuba and eventually in Mexico.

In 1941 the neurosurgeon Walter Freeman called this practice ‘brain-damaging therapeutics’.[18] At least we must give Freeman credit that he did not express himself in Newspeak, but in the lingua franca of Heinroth: he recognised that lobotomy damages the brain. But in that decade the Swedish Academy awarded Moniz the Nobel Prize in medicine and the media was enthusiastic about the novel therapy, including the New York Times, Time and Newsweek. A New York Times editorial celebrated with these words the success on lobotomised people: ‘would-be suicides found life acceptable’.[19] With such social support tens of thousands of lobotomies were practiced in the 1940s and 50s. It was believed that college students who had emotional problems, and even spoiled children, were ideal candidates for Freeman’s lobotomy.

Whitaker mentions the effects of this radical operation. A lobotomised woman was described as ‘fat, silly and smiling’. Although she had been of lineage, another woman who underwent the operation defecated in a garbage dump. Lobotomised patients grabbed the food from the neighbour’s plate, or vomited in the soup and kept eating. Some of them did not get out of bed unless a family member ordered them to do so, and it was common for them to urinate there. Others just looked out the window. Those who had had jobs before the operation were unable to make a living by themselves. It was possible to insult them and get a smile in response.

Some referred to lobotomy as ‘a surgically induced childhood’, and you can already imagine the burden it represented for families to support them. But Freeman and his assistant Watts had a more positive view of things. They wrote that the lobotomised patient could be considered ‘a household pet’.[20] The reports of the scientific journals also painted things in a favourable light for the medical profession. The language of science claims to be neutral, apolitical and non-emotional. It does not wield value judgments: the diametrically opposite to what I do in this book. In the professional literature where graphs and figures abound it is easy to write articles where the tragedy left by these semi-vegetable humans was not perceived as a crime.

Walter Freeman at the moment of cutting the healthy
brain of one of his victims. Note how this was done
openly with students learning from the lobotomist.

The ‘brain-damaging therapeutics’ of Moniz and Freeman lost momentum in the 1960s and 70s. It is currently difficult to know how many lobotomies are made in the world each year. According to an article in defence of lobotomy in Psychology Today (March/April 1992), at the beginning of that decade there were at least 200 to 300 ‘psychosurgeries’ openly declared every year. In fact, in the new century a few doctors still promote ‘psychosurgery’ for severe emotional problems and in some states of the United States special councils have been formed to review all proposals for these operations.[21]

Although lobotomy fell into relative disuse, electroshock remains a standard psychiatric practice in the 21st-century profession. The electroshock was developed in 1938, inspired by a slaughterhouse in Rome where the pigs were electro-shocked to make it easier to slice their necks. A psychiatrist, Ugo Cerletti, had been experimenting with electric shocks on dogs, putting electrodes on the snout and anus of the dog. Half of the animals died of cardiac arrest. After seeing the electro-shocked pigs Cerletti decided to use it on humans.

Cerletti’s first guinea pig was a homeless man who roamed the train station in Rome. Shortly after, in 1940, electroshock therapy was admitted at the other side of the Atlantic. Manfred Sakel, who introduced insulin shock in medical practice, compared his technique to the electroshock and commented on the latter: ‘the stronger the amnesia, the more severe the underlying brain cell damage must be’.[22] This was another form of the ‘brain-damaging therapeutics’ of Moniz and Freeman.

Although the psychiatrists recognised all this in their specialised journals, in their public pronouncements they were more cautious. They painted ‘electroconvulsive therapy’ as a harmless therapy and said that the loss of memories was temporary. The media took the propaganda as honest science, and by 1946 half of the beds in American hospitals were occupied by psychiatric patients, some of whom had suffered the therapy.

Two years later Albert Deutsch published The Shame of the States and an article appeared in Life magazine with impressive photographs about a reality that the American people ignored: what happened in the concentration camps called psychiatric institutions. Although the images contributed to the reform of the public facilities in the United States, the 20th century witnessed two other psychiatric revolutions. One was the consortium between psychiatrists and pharmaceutical multinationals; another, the invention of chemical lobotomies in the 1950s. Surgical lobotomy would fell into relative disuse in favour of the use of neuroleptics: a more subtle form of social control.

______________

[16] The revelations about Metrazol appear in Whitaker’s book.

[17] Egas Moniz, quoted in Mad in America, 113.

[18] Freeman, quoted in ibid, p. 96.

[19] Quoted in ibid, p. 138.

[20] Freeman, quoted in ibid, p. 124.

[21] Lobotomy, Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. On the resurgence of lobotomy, see Breggin: Toxic Psychiatry, pp. 261ff and an article by Lawrence Stevens that can be read on the internet: ‘The brain-butchery called psychosurgery’.

[22] Manfred Sakel, quoted in Mad in America, p. 98.

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From the Great Confinement of Louis XIV of France to a Chemical Gulag (part 2)

At the end of the 18th century, there was no psychiatry as a medical specialty. The word ‘psychiatry’ was coined by Johann Reil in 1808. The new profession took for granted a postulate that had roots in the medicine of ancient Greece. A postulate is a proposition that is admitted without proof. The postulated platform of the new profession assumed the organic origin of psychic disturbances. This postulate elevated to an axiom, and even to dogma, prevented the introduction of subjectivity in the study of mental disturbances.

As we saw with John Modrow [explained in a previous chapter of the online book], the reality is the diametrically opposite. Only by introducing the subjectivity of a soul in pain, and by rejecting the organic hypothesis, is it possible to understand what the hell is going on in the innermost chambers of those who suffer from mental distress and disorders. Objectivity in matters of the internal world of a subject is as impossible as the opposite case: approaching the empirical world in the manner of philosophers like Plato, who, from his idealist Olympus, despised the practical study of nature.

This colossal error cost the Greek culture its moving upward, just as the antipodal error of reducing the humanities to science is misleading our civilisation. It is a categorical mistake trying to understand psychological trauma through neuroscience, as it is a categorical mistake trying to understand the empirical world, say astronomy, through social discourse. Postmodernist philosophers and psychiatrists represent two symmetrical, albeit diametrically opposed, attempts at extreme ideologies. The former want to reduce science to the humanities; the latter, the humanities to science: and none respects the other as a separate and intrinsically legitimate field. In another place I will delve into these two antithetical errors.

The birth of modern psychiatry occurs when the outcast leaves the jurisdiction of the houses of confinement in France and the rest of Europe and is left in charge of the medical institution. In the profession of the 21st century, armed with a battery of genetics, neurology and nosological taxonomy, it is impossible to see what psychiatry is at its root. But in the book by Johann Christian Heinroth, Lehrbuch der Störungen des Seelenlebens (Textbook on the Disturbances of Mental Life), published in 1818, we see the fundamentals of psychiatry without the pseudoscientific smokescreen so common in our days.

Following the tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries, Heinroth used the expression ‘mental illness’ and defined it as ‘selfishness’ or ‘sin’: terms he used interchangeably. Heinroth not only equated the Christian concept of sin with that of mental illness. Although he considered mental illness an ethical defect, Heinroth’s great innovation consists that he treated it with medical procedures.

How did Heinroth take this conceptual leap? Or we may ask, why should MDs reroute the flock of the straying sheep? This turn was not contemplated in the blueprints of the architects of the Great Confinement of the 17th century. Once the Inquisition was officially abolished, Heinroth himself wonders who would be the new social controller: ‘would this be the task of a doctor?, or perhaps of a cleric?, or of a philosopher?, or an educator?’ [7]

The task fell, finally, on the physician. Presumably this was because, as the doctor deals directly with the physicality of human beings, it was easier to cover physical violence in the medical profession than in the other professions. At a time when the ideals of the French Revolution were still in the air, civil society would have suspected a cleric or a philosopher with jurisdiction over other people’s bodies, but not a doctor.

In order for people to accept the new inquisitor, they also had to literalise the central metaphor of the profession. Originally ‘mental illness’ was understood as a mere metaphor of what in previous centuries had been called ‘men of unreason’, which put together the dissidents with the disturbed. When the doctor assumed the responsibility of occupying the role that used to be occupied by the officials of the houses of confinement, Heinroth assumed that the selfishness and sin that he treated were medical entities: something like saying that the ‘viruses’ that infect our hard drives are not metaphor of subversive programs, but microorganisms.

The literalisation of the metaphor ‘mental illness’ into an authentic illness would not have been possible if Heinroth and many other professionals of mental health had not counted with societal approval. The 19th century was the most bourgeois of recent centuries, and the social forces that drove the wealthy to lock up the undesirables were still expanding, even more than in the times when Heinroth himself was born.

The only way to understand Heinroth and his philosophy of the hammer is to let him speak. I have borrowed the following paragraphs from a study of Thomas Szasz. The first quoted sentence is taken from Medicina Psychica Politica (Psycho-Political Medicine): a title that perfectly illustrates how, in its origins, the psychiatrists did not speak in Newspeak but in Oldspeak. Heinroth wrote: ‘It is the duty of the State to care for mentally disturbed persons whenever they are a burden to the community or present a public danger; and the accommodation, cure, and care of such individuals is the duty of the police’. But who are ‘mentally disturbed’? He answers: ‘It is those least deserving of freedom, namely the maniaci [maniacs], who love freedom best; and as long as they are left to themselves and to their perverted activity, even if only in an Autenreith chamber, no recovery is thinkable’.[8] The Autenreith chamber and the mask of the same name were torture apparatuses on which he explains his modus operandi:

Experience has shown that the patient in the sack is in danger of asphyxiation and of falling victim of convulsions… [In the confinement chair] the patient can remain bound in the chair for weeks on end without incurring the slightest bodily harm. [The pear is a] piece of hard wood, with the shape and dimensions of a medium-sized pear, has a cross-bar with straps which can be tied at the back of the neck of the patient. Since the oral cavity of the patient is more or less filled by the instrument, the patient can obviously utter no articulate sounds, but he can still utter stifled screams.[9]

Heinroth articulated some guidelines for the psychiatrist: ‘First, be master of the situation; second, be master of the patient’.[10] Szasz comments that in these phrases psychiatry appears naked as to what it was and continues to be today: subjugation, enslavement and control of one human being by another. He also comments that contemporary psychiatrists, although they do similar things, do not speak frankly as they used to speak in Heinroth’s time.

However, Heinroth understood from the beginning that in his profession he had to disguise the torture chambers for social control as a hospital activity, for which he recommended: ‘all impression of a prison must be avoided’, a situation that persists today. In Spain, for example, contemporary psychiatrists have changed the bars of the windows by external blinds, some cosmetic though rigid metal sheets that serve as prison bars. The façade of psychiatric gardens of our century follows 19th-century regulations. About what happens behind the façade, according to Heinroth:

The edifice should have a special bathing section, with all kinds of baths, showers, douches, and immersion vessels. It must also have a special correction and punishment room with all the necessary equipment, including a Cox swing (or, better, rotating machine), a Reils’s fly-wheel, pulleys, punishment chair, Langermann’s cell, etc. [11]

Here are other words of this doctor who lived a century before Orwell wrote 1984. According to Heinroth, the psychiatrist

appears to the patient as helper and saviour, as a father and benefactor, as a sympathetic friend, as a friendly teacher, but also as a judge who weighs the evidence, passes judgement, and executes the sentence; at the same time seems to be the visible God to the patient… [12]

Heinroth seems a hybrid between the Orwellian O’Brien and a contemporary man of his times: Sade. The fact that some psychiatrists see in Heinroth one of the founders of modern psychiatry and the precursor of Eugen Bleuler, speaks for itself and does not need further comment.

Thanks to Heinroth and other apologists of medical violence, in the mid-19th century the metaphor ‘mental illness’ was recognised as an authentic disease. In England, the parliament granted the medical fraternity the exclusive right to treat the newly discovered disease. The first specialised journals in psychiatry appeared. The American Journal of Psychiatry, which was originally called the American Journal of Insanity and whose first issue appeared in 1844, published data, since its inception, that now are known to be fraudulent.[13] Throughout the 19th century countless of ‘imprudent’ women like Hersilie Rouy and Julie La Roche [cases mentioned at the beginning of the online book] were imprisoned by their parents and husbands; and the psychiatrists resisted attempts to inspect their ‘asylums’, as they were then called, because it interfered with medical autonomy. Many doctors tried to obtain important positions in the asylums.

The psychiatric profession, in its modern version, was born.

In the 20th century, the psychiatric profession consolidated its power and prestige in society. A smoke-screen terminology was developed and, for the man of the street, it became impossible to see psychiatry in its naked simplicity. Some sadists like Heinroth became ‘psychiatrists’, their tortures ‘treatments’, the social outcasts ‘patients’, the asylums ‘hospitals’ and dementia praecox ‘schizophrenia’.

Before the creation of the Newspeak the asylums were properly called Poorhouses. Before drugs were designed to induce tortuous states for the mind, Emil Kraepelin and Bleuler used other methods of subjugation. In 1911 the latter experimented with a particularly disgusting medication that caused bleeding vomit, but at least Bleuler confessed with a frankness something no longer seen in today’s psychiatry: ‘His behaviour improves. From the ethical point of view, I cannot recommend this method’.[14] Similarly, in 1913 Kraepelin used to inject sodium nucleate to cause fever in his patients, who ‘become more docile and obey the doctors’ orders’.[15]

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[7] Johann Christian Heinroth, quoted in Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Psychotherapy (NY: Syracuse University Press Edition, 1988), p. 73.

[8] Ibid., pp. 74-75.

[9] Ibid., pp. 76-77.

[10] Ibid., p. 77.

[11] Ibid., p. 79.

[12] Ibid., p. 78.

[13] See, for example, Robert Whitaker: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus, 2001), pp. 75ff.

[14] Bleuler, quoted in John Read, Loren Mosher & Richard Bentall: Modelos de Locura (Herder, 2006), p. 39

[15] Kraepelin, quoted in ibid.

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Darkening Age, 10

In chapter seven of The Darkening Age: The Christian
Destruction of the Classical World
, Catherine Nixey wrote:

Constantine… demanded that the statues be taken from the temples. Christian officials, so it was said, travelled the empire, ordering the priests of the old religion to bring their statues out of the temples. From the 330s onwards some of the most sacred objects in the empire started to be removed. It is hard, today, to understand the enormity of Constantine’s order. If Michelangelo’s Pietà were taken from the Vatican and sold, it would be considered a terrible act of cultural vandalism—but it wouldn’t be sacrilege as the statue is not in itself sacred. Statues in Roman temples were. To remove them was a gross violation, and Constantine knew it…

The possibility that Jesus would triumph over all other gods would, at the time, have seemed almost preposterous. Constantine was faced with an intransigent population who insisted on worshipping idols at the expense of the risen Lord. He realized that conversion would be more ‘easily accomplished if he could get them to despise their temples and the images contained therein’. And what better way to teach wayward pagans the vanity of their gods than by cracking open their statues and showing that they were, quite literally, empty? Moreover, a religious system in which sacrifice was central would struggle to survive if there was nothing to sacrifice to. There was good biblical precedent for his actions. In Deuteronomy, God had commanded that His chosen people should overthrow altars, burn sacred groves and hew down the graven images of the gods. If Constantine attacked the temples then he was not being a vandal. He was doing God’s good work.

And so it began. The great Roman and Greek temples were— or so Eusebius said—broken open and their statues brought out, then mutilated…

Not all the temple statues were melted down. The ‘tyrant’ Constantine also had an eye for art and many objects were shipped back as prize baubles for the emperor’s new city, Constantinople (Constantine, like Alexander the Great, was not one for self-effacement). The Pythian Apollo was put up as ‘a contemptible spectacle’ in one square; the sacred tripods of Delphi turned up in Constantinople’s hippodrome, while the Muses of Helicon found themselves relocated to Constantine’s palace. The capital looked wonderful. The temples looked—were—desecrated. As his biographer wrote with satisfaction, Constantine ‘confuted the superstitious error of the heathen in all sorts of ways’.

And yet despite the horror of what Constantine was asking his subjects to do there was little resistance…

Christianity could have been tolerant: it was not pre­ordained that it would take this path. There were Christians who voiced hopes for tolerance, even ecumenicalism. But those hopes were dashed. For those who wish to be intolerant, monotheism provides very powerful weapons. There was ample biblical justification for the persecution of non-believers.

The Bible, as a generation of Christian authors declared, is very clear on the matter of idolatry. As the Christian author Firmicus Maternus reminded his rulers—perfectly correctly—there lay upon emperors an ‘imperative necessity to castigate and punish this evil’. Their ‘severity should be visited in every way on the crime’. And what precisely did God advise as a punishment for idolatry? Deuteronomy was clear: a person indulging in this should be stoned to death. And if an entire city fell into such sin? Again, the answer was clear: ‘destruction is decreed’.

The desecration continued for centuries. In the fifth century AD, the colossal statue of Athena, the sacred centrepiece of the Acropolis in Athens, and one of the most famous works of art in the empire, was torn down from where she had stood guard for almost a thousand years, and shipped off to Constantinople—a great coup for the Christian city and a great insult to the ‘pagans’…

Note of the Ed.: After the centuries, Europeans even forgot how the Greco-Roman sculptures that were destroyed looked like. My guess is that Constantine’s bishops were not Aryans. Destroying a representation of the beauty of the Aryan physique was part of the Semitic takeover of white society: Let’s destroy your self-image as a means to undermine your self-esteem. Something similar is happening today with the religion of Holocaustianity: Let’s undermine your self-image from a decent person to historic grievances so that you may accept masses of non-white immigrants.

History is written by the winners and the Christian victory was absolute. The Church dominated European thought for more than a millennium. Until 1871 the University of Oxford required that all students were members of the Church of England, while in most cases to be given a fellowship in an Oxford college one had to be ordained. Cambridge was a little freer—but not much.

This was not an atmosphere conducive to criticism of Christianity and indeed, in English histories, there was little. For centuries, the vast majority of historians unquestioningly took up the Christian cause and routinely and derogatorily referred to non-Christians as ‘pagans’, ‘heathens ‘ and ‘idolaters’. The practices and sufferings of these ‘pagans’ were routinely belittled, trivialized or—more often—entirely ignored. As one modern scholar has observed: ‘The story of early Christian history has been told almost wholly on the basis of Christian sources.’