Beware of the psychiatric Newspeak

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. Below, an abridged translation of a chapter of one of my books that I wrote in the last century:
 
 

The ritual murder of people has always been preceded by the ritual murder of truth—and, indeed, by the ritual murder of language itself.

—Szasz [1]

The inconvenience with the metaphor ‘mental illness’ is that psychiatrists talk literally when they say that a person is mentally sick. Following a comparison with the economy, it is like saying that an economic collapse due to the hyperinflation of fiat currency was caused by a biological virus that affected the gold reservoirs; a virus that has yet to be detected in the labs, but that the bio-reductionist economists have faith they are going to detect in the future. Logically, linguistically and scientifically that would be nonsense, but this is precisely what psychiatrists are doing with the children of abusive families: they are literalising a biological metaphor.

Another reason why I do not like ‘mentally ill’ even as a metaphor is because that word takes off all reference to abuses, to a perpetrator and his victim. It is a very bad metaphor to refer to victims of parental abuse. No one would use it to refer to a Dora who has just been raped. If Dora herself used it the metaphor would turn out to be self-stigmatising. She would have fallen in her tormentor’s Newspeak and, therefore, in his political agenda.

The existence of mental illness as a somatic entity has not been demonstrated scientifically. It is a myth unconsciously created by biological psychiatrists to hide the fact that the family and society are driving some persons mad. To elucidate this point let us think a little about the language.

Some linguists have argued that language is rhetorical, and that we commit a great mistake in believing that, if a group of individuals uses a word in all seriousness, it means that something real exists behind it. For instance, those who defined modern psychiatry used terms like ‘dementia praecox’ (Emil Kraepelin), ‘schizophrenia’ (Eugen Bleuler) and ‘hysteria’ (Jean-Martin Charcot and Sigmund Freud) to stigmatize adolescents and women. According to Orwell, the rhetorical objective of Newspeak is social control; neologism and the abuse of language characterise it. Even though Orwell had in mind political totalitarianism, psychiatrists also abuse language: they have dared to call the ‘right to treatment’ involuntary hospitalisation, and ‘therapy’ the electroshock punishment in psychiatric wards. Civil society must vehemently repudiate these words of the Therapeutic State. To illustrate why we must do it, I would like to make reference to an ideology that, in contrast to the totalitarianism of the 20th century, triumphed and imposed its Newspeak for centuries.

The 4th century of the Common Era, during the reign of Theodosius, witnessed the consolidation of power of the bishops in the Roman Empire after the premature death of Julian the Apostate. Those unconverted to the new religion, that in Julian times enjoyed special protection, became second-class citizens. A new word was coined, ‘pagan’, to label the adept of the millenarian Hellenic culture. Once created the Newspeak those stigmatized as ‘pagans’ became persecuted. Only by these means did the new theocracy succeed to eradicate the Greco-Roman culture.

Modern psychiatrists have also created a Newspeak. Only that they have classified a multitude of disorders and invented others to repress the unwanted, even those who are perfectly sane. Tom Szasz is aware of these snares, and he warns us that the abuse of language (‘pagan’, ‘heretic’ or ‘borderline personality disorder’, the label applied to the mentioned Rachel) is the first step to abuse people. For that very reason all discourse must start with a thorough cleansing in our vocabulary. Only semantic hygiene can prevent us from ideological and political contamination.

Let us now comment on what I used to consider heroes in my previous writing. In a 1971 interview Theodore Lidz stated:

I personally, as you may know, do not consider schizophrenia a disease or an illness, but rather a type of reaction to a sick organization, a personality disorder […]. While I use the word schizophrenia, for example, I think I would never say a patient has schizophrenia. We say a patient is schizophrenic. [2]

The problem with this posture is that today ‘schizophrenia’ is the equivalent word to ‘witch’ in times of the Inquisition. Had Lidz lived in that epoch, would he like that an inquisitor told him that his mother was a witch (cf. the life of Johannes Kepler)? Hugh Trevor-Roper, who studied this black chapter of history, said that the witch-hunt stopped only until the West questioned the very idea of Satan, that is, until the dawn of the Enlightenment. Exactly the same can be said about psychiatry, which already has three hundred years, the time the Inquisition lasted. As long as the idea of ‘mental illness’ remains unchallenged, of which schizophrenia is only one of its paradigms, the persecution of civilians who have not broken any law will not cease.

Let us now listen to Ronald Laing:

Perhaps we can still retain the now old name, and read into it its etymological meaning: Schiz—‘broken’; Phrenos—‘soul’ or ‘heart’. The schizophrenic in this sense is one who is brokenhearted, and even broken hearts have been known to mend, if we have the heart to let them.[3]

This posture makes better common cause with the victim than Lidz’s. But Laing did not seem to realise that in practice the term he retained is used as a semantic bludgeon to re-victimise that victim!

In spite of the fact that Laing was considered the anti-psychiatrist par excellence, he failed to elaborate a critique of language, the most basic of all critiques. Laing did not abandon the word schizophrenia even though psychiatrists cannot explain how this disease could remain so many centuries without detection until Emil Kraepelin and Eugen Bleuler supposedly discovered it. ‘How could it have been missed if it affected one percent of the population, as it does now?’ asks in his magnificent naiveté Fuller Torrey, one of the most popular apologists of biopsychiatry.[4] That the word ‘schizophrenia’ is merely a political neologism is suggested by the fact that the former expression of 1883 divulged by Kraepelin, ‘dementia praecox’, raised up the same suspicion of ‘moral insanity’ (dementia praecox and schizophrenia refer exactly to the same adolescent symptoms). Therein the necessity of Eugen Bleuler to invent in 1911 a Newspeak word that covered up better his political objectives against adolescents. Let us re-baptize Kraepelin’s dementia praecox as ‘schizophrenia’ and in the 20th century no one will suspect anything! [5]

So the word schizophrenia was born. But Laing did not culminate his critique of psychiatry with a critique of language. In fact, each time that, as Laing did, we call schizoid or schizophrenic an adolescent we miserably fall into the trap that Bleuler laid for us, a trap that impedes us to see the essentially political nature of the epithet—‘moral insanity’ for liberated women, ‘dementia praecox’ for rebellious adolescents. Nowadays the smokescreen that the creators of the mental health movement have lifted is so dense; it has covered so much the air that civil society breaths, that only by reading the critics of psychiatry it is possible to rise up above the curtain and see what is behind it.

Defending his position before Szasz’s criticism, Silvano Arieti argued:

I believe that when psychiatrists examine typical cases of, for example, a patient who says that he is Jesus Christ because he drank Carnation milk and therefore has been reincarnated, or who uses peculiar neologisms or metonymic distortions or typical word-salad, or who sees everywhere FBI agents spying on him, or hallucinates all the time, or is in catatonic postures, or complete withdrawal, they are confronted with a constellation or Gestalt that cannot be confused. Certainly no pejorative connotation should be given to a dysfunction of the human being; but if human beings are inclined to do so, they will not refrain from attaching sooner or later a pejorative connotation to the name that replaces the old one.[6]

Colin Ross, who, incidentally, eagerly looked for a copy of the DSM to point out something to me during our Dallas meeting, went even further:

The DSM-IV system is one of the truly important achievements of twentieth-century psychiatry, and it far outweighs the contribution of biological research. I am a firm believer in the necessity for operationalized diagnostic criteria. [7]

Anti-Freud, a Szasz study about a purist of language, convinced me that this is a big mistake.[8] The first step a dissident of an ideology should take is to abandon its Newspeak, and even more its slanderous epithets. Sometimes I have even thought that, despite their creative work, one of the reasons why neither Lidz nor Laing nor Arieti left a school is that none dared to break away from the psychiatric Newspeak (Ross is still too young to know whether or not he will leave any school).

Let us consider for instance the apparently plausible defence by Arieti, quoted above. Szasz had said that the term schizophrenia is a panchreston (from Greek, a word ‘good for everything’ just as a sailor box is so handy in sewing). In the present context, panchreston is a word which merely baptizes with a name a large constellation of disorders (cf. Arieti’s constellation) when such name only mystifies and obscures what the popular word, madness, expresses better. Of course, psychiatrists baptise the crudest form of madness with a single medical name to make people believe they know exactly what they are dealing with, but the truth is that they know absolutely nothing about its aetiology. This is so true that even a 1997 editorial of the American Journal of Psychiatry conceded that ‘as yet, we have no identified etiological agents for psychiatric disorders’. [9]

My reply to Arieti is that those who hate Christianity will never use the word ‘pagan’ when talking about, say, a 4th century Hellenist; or ‘heretical’ when referring to a Mormon—independently that before them traditional Christians are comforted with a Gestalt that cannot be confused. Likewise, those of us who disapprove of involuntary psychiatry do not use psychiatric words to refer to rebellious boys or even the disturbed ones—even if by that we mean (as Laing meant) that they are victims of family abuse. If we use the epithets the effect on them would be counterproductive and re-victimising.

With regard to the genuinely disturbed, Arieti is right in pointing out that the old epithet ‘crazy’ is pejorative too, but he omitted to add that the new one carries along political actions such as involuntary medication and hospitalisation. I appreciate that, in contrast to biological psychiatrists, Arieti maintained the parental aetiology of the disorders he saw in these youngsters. However, if this is so the psychiatric labels should be devised and directed against the parents, not against their victims. Of very little use could a sophisticated diagnostic taxonomy such as the DSM be if the psychiatrists fail to say that distressed people passed through something more dreadful than a concentration camp! As I said, no one diagnoses as schizophrenic, manic-depressive or paranoid a Dora who has just been raped by a gang omitting to say what has just happened to her.

But the most sinister aspect of psychiatric diagnoses is that frequently they stigmatise perfectly normal behaviour. Psychiatrists diagnose as schizophrenia not only cases such as Arieti’s bizarre constellation, but adolescent rebellion as well. That is to say, they use the old trick of ‘guilty by association’ of rebellious teenagers with the disturbed ones. This is precisely the panchrestonian (‘good for everything’) character of the words schizophrenia and schizoidism.

In our societies the power to stigmatize with the word that Lidz, Laing, Arieti and Ross retained is enormous. To say ‘John Doe is a schizophrenic’ euphonically sounds ‘John Doe is a monster’, so much so that it is used precisely to slander people before society. We have seen that in recent times the psychiatrists are stamping the label ‘hyperactive’ to the boy who for centuries humankind called ‘mischievous’, and also the label ‘autistic’ to the girl who withdraws. Just as the label ‘schizophrenia’, which usually is used against rebellious teenagers, these words only mystify and obscure what popular words expressed much better.

The crux is that these are not descriptive but dispositive words. The aim of mystifying language is to legitimise, at the request of the parents, an assault with psychiatric drugs on the brains of these children and teenagers perfectly healthy and normal. (‘Perfectly normal people are kept in treatment centers, perfectly normal teenagers. Nobody was crazy there, not even one person’—the teenage Rachel as quoted in a previous chapter.) This is why we should never use words such as ‘schizoid’ while the psychiatric institution exists just as we would not use the word ‘heretic’ when the Inquisition existed. In those times the word ‘heretic’ was a dispositive word. To say ‘John Doe is a heretic’ actually meant, ‘We want John Doe at the stake’.

Unfortunately, psychiatry has beguiled society and these dispositive words are being used by everybody. This can be noted by reviewing our dictionaries. According to the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, for instance, Newspeak is ‘propagandistic language characterized by euphemism, circumlocution, and the inversion of customary meanings’. However, on that very page the editors let themselves to be bamboozled by the Newspeak: they defined the neuroleptic as ‘any of the powerful tranquilizers (as the phenothiazines or butyrophenones) used esp. to treat psychosis’.[10] This definition is taking for granted that there are ‘psychos’ like Rachel and her friends who are badly in need of being drugged rather than we are dealing with a drug for social control.

In contrast to these psychiatrists, anti-psychiatrists and linguists, my hope is that someday propagandistic language like ‘schizoid’ is considered as superstitious and political as the politically-correct slanders of today (‘anti-Semite’, ‘racist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘islamophobe’, ‘homophobe’, ‘xenophobe’, etc.). Not even the anti-psychiatrists saw how serious it is to re-victimise the victims by using the psychiatric Newspeak because no one was, as John Modrow, a victim of the diagnosis ‘schizophrenic’. It is not excessive to quote Modrow again: ‘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’. The testimony of another survivor, an orphan, whom I will quote in the next chapter, annotates what I’ve been trying to say in the last paragraphs.

_________

[1] The therapeutic state (op. cit.), p. 303.

[2] Quoted in Robert Orrill and Robert Boyers (eds.), ‘Interview with Theodore Lidz’ in R.D. Laing and antipsychiatry (Perennial Library, 1971), pp. 151f.

[3] R.D. Laing, The politics of experience (Ballantine Books, 1968), p. 130.

[4] Surviving schizophrenia (op. cit.), p. 215.

[5] Something similar happened in more recent times with ‘manic-depressive disorder’. It was re-baptized as ‘bipolar disorder’, which mystifies the condition even further, so that the public may associate it with a biomedical disease (that has to be treated with chemicals like lithium).

[6] Interpretation of schizophrenia (op. cit.), p. 693.

[7] Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry (op. cit.), p. 122.

[8] See ‘Recommended readings’ at the end of this book.

[9] Quoted in Peter Breggin and David Cohen, Your drug may be your problem: how and why to stop taking psychiatric medications (Perseus Books, 1999), p. 112. (The words of the editorial by G.J. Tucker, ‘Putting DSM-IV in perspective’, appear in AJP, 155, p. 159.)

[10] Webster’s third new international dictionary unabridged with seven language dictionary, vol. I (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1993), p. 96a (addenda).

______ 卐 ______

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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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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 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]

____________

[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.

______ 卐 ______

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Laing and Anti-Psychiatry

Or:

The ten books that made an impact in my life
before I became racially conscious
3.- Laing and Anti-Psychiatry
(read in 1983)


Sometimes it is not an entire book what causes a deep impression in one’s values and worldview. Sometimes it is a single chapter; a single phrase.

The overwhelming majority of white nationalists are unaware of the fact that psychiatry is a false science. I mean: psychiatry is as false as, say, the Boasian anthropology that has become axiomatic throughout all anthropology departments in the West.

Before I entered the racialist arena I devoted quite a few years of my life to research this pseudoscience. The result was a massive exposé of psychiatry that benefited the Spanish-speaking people (for example, today I learnt that a blog was started with the title of one of my book chapters exposing the history of psychiatry).

The whys of the toleration of a pseudoscience within the academia and throughout the West have to do with the fact that the basic etiology of mental disorders lies in the abusive modes of parenting. But this truth has become a heresy in a world that only aims to perpetuate the status quo, including those nuclear families run by abusive parents.

When in 1983, standing in a bookstore because I was too poor to purchase the book, I read the interview of psychiatrist Theodore Lidz in Laing and Anti-Psychiatry, I corroborated what I suspected: that some parents are driving their children mad. Lidz’s words that a schizophrenogenic mother simply cannot conceive that her child sees the world with different eyes than her own made a huge impression on me to understand the dynamics in my own family.

More recently I have extensively written on this subject in Spanish, of which I have translated only a fraction to English (e.g., here and here). But all of my writing was possible only thanks to my reading this Lidz interview in a bookstore almost thirty years ago with no soft sofas. Lidz was one of the very very few psychiatrists that dismissed the medical model of mental disorders taken for granted in his own profession and proposed a trauma model instead. Abusive parents are the real and only culprits for the emotional fall of their offspring; blaming the child’s brain or the child’s genes, as his colleagues do, is a political rather that a scientific endeavor.

It is worth saying that when I lived in Houston I phoned Lidz, who was already in his nineties, and he appeared as warm and lucid as if he was in his prime. How different from Ronald Laing, the guru whose last name was chosen for the title of the book’s collection of anti-psychiatric essays. (In his later writing Laing looked like an intellectual snob rather than someone who fully sided the child against the all-out assault perpetrated at home in some extremely dysfunctional families.)

Laing and Anti-Psychiatry was published in 1971. Those who are under the impression that psychiatry has since proven the biomedical basis of mental stress and disorders would do a favor to themselves by reading the much more recent How to Become a  Schizophrenic: The Case Against Biological Psychiatry by John Modrow (whom by the way I used to correspond).

For the other nine books see here.

Why psychiatry is a false science

This text appears in Day of Wrath

______ 卐 ______

 

“An irrefutable hypothesis is a
sure-fire sign of a pseudoscience.”

—Terence Hines [1]

 

According to Ron Leifer, there have been four parallel critiques of psychiatry: Thomas Szasz’s conceptual and logical critique of the mental illness idea; Leifer’s own parallel critique of social control through psychiatry, Peter Breggin’s medical evaluation of the assaults on the brain with drugs, electroshock and lobotomy, and the cry of those who have been harmed by it.[2]

Another way to question the validity of psychiatry is to examine the scientific basis of biological psychiatry. This fifth parallel critique, which I would call the evaluation of the scientific status of psychiatry, takes psychiatry to task on its own theoretical base. Exponents of this late strategy have focused on the various bio-reductionist claims and logical fallacies in psychiatry;[3] on the dubious science behind psychopharmacology,[4] and on statistical analyses that show that poor countries with few psychiatric drugs called neuroleptics (“antipsychotics”) fare much better in the treatment of people in psychotic crisis than the rich countries.[5]

Here I will present an apparently innovative way to call into question the scientific status of biological psychiatry.

However odd it may seem, biopsychiatry has not been attacked from the most classic criteria to spot pseudosciences: Karl Popper’s test that distinguishes between real and false science, and the principle known as Occam’s razor. Both of these principles have been very useful in the debunking of paranormal claims,[6] as well as biological pseudosciences such as phrenology.

Mario Bunge, the philosopher of science, maintains that all pseudosciences are sterile. Despite of its multimillion-dollar sponsoring by the pharmaceutical companies, biological psychiatry remains a sterile profession today.[7] Despite its long history of biological theories since 1884 when Johann Thudichum, the founder of modern neurochemistry, believed the cause of madness were “poisons fermented in the body” to the current dopamine theory of schizophrenia, psychiatrists have been unable to find the biological cause of the major disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.[8]

This lack of progress was to be expected. If the biologicistic postulate on which psychiatry lays its foundational edifice is an error, that is to say, if the cause of mental disorders is not somatogenic but psychogenic, real progress can never occur in biological psychiatry; and the subject of mental disorders should not belong to medical science but to psychology.

Nancy Andreasen, the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the most financed and influential journal of psychiatry, recognizes in Brave New Brain, a book published in 2001, that:

There has not been found any physiological pathology behind mental disorders;

nor chemical imbalances have been found in those diagnosed with a mental illness;

nor genes responsible for a mental illness have been found;

there is no laboratory test that determines who is mentally ill and who is not;

some mental disorders may have a psychosocial origin.[9]

A better proof of sterility in biopsychiatry can hardly be found. It is worth saying that a book reviewer tagged Andreasen’s book as “the most important psychiatry book in the last twenty years.”[10] The above points show us why, since its origins, psychiatry and neurology are separated.
 
Popper’s litmus test

While neurology deals with authentic brain biology, it is legitimate to ask whether psychiatry might be searching for a biological mirage.

In The Logic of Scientific Discovery philosopher of science Karl Popper tells us that the difference between science and pseudosciences lies in the power of refutability of a hypothesis.[11] Despite its academic, governmental and impressive financial backing in the private sector, psychiatry does not rest on a body of discoveries experimentally falsifiable or refutable. In fact, the central hypothesis in psychiatry, a biomedical entity called mental illness—say “schizophrenia”—cannot be put forward as a falsifiable or refutable hypothesis.

Let us consider the claim that psychiatrists use the drugs called neuroleptics to restore the brain chemical imbalance of a schizophrenic. A Popperian would immedia-tely ask the questions: (1) What is exactly a brain chemical imbalance? (2) How is this neurological condition recognized among those who you call schizophrenics and which lab tests are used to diagnose it? (3) Which evidence can you present to explain that the chemical imbalance of the so-called schizo-phrenic has been balanced as a result of taking the neuroleptic?

Before these questions the psychiatrist answers in such a way that he who is unfamiliar with the logic of scientific discovery will have great difficulties in detecting a trick. For instance, Andreasen has acknowledged that there have not been found biochemical imbalances in those diagnosed with a mental illness and that there is no laboratory test that determines who is mentally ill and who is not. That is to say, Andreasen is recognizing that her profession is incapable of responding to the second and third questions above. How, then, does she and her colleagues have convinced themselves that neuroleptics restore to balance the “chemically unbalanced” brains of schizophrenics? Furthermore, why does Andreasen have stated so confidently at the beginning of the section in Brave New Brain that addresses the question of what causes schizophrenia that the disorder “is not a disease that parents cause”?

Speaking in Popperian terms the answer is: by contriving a non-falsifiable or irrefutable hypothesis. In contrast to neurologists, who can demonstrate the physiopathology, histopathology or the presence of pathogen microorganisms, Andreasen and other psychiatrists recognize that they cannot demonstrate these biological markers (faulty genes or biochemical imbalances) that they postulate in the major disorders classified in the revised, fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-IV-TR. If they could do it, psychiatry as a specialty would have disappeared and its body of knowledge merged in neurological science. What psychiatrists do is to state that after almost a century of research in, for instance, schizophrenia, the medical etiology of the “disease” is still “unknown,” and they claim the same of many others DSM-IV behaviors.

As Thomas Szasz has observed, in real medical science physicians observe the pathological alterations in the organs, tissue, and cells as well as the microbial invasions, and the naming of the disease comes only after that. Psychiatry inverts the sequence. First it baptizes a purported illness, be it schizophrenia or any other, but the existence of a biological marker is never discovered, though it is dogmatically postulated.[12] A postulate is a proposition that is accepted without proof. Only by postulating that these disorders are basically genetic and that the environment merely plays a “triggering” role can psychiatrists justify to treat them by physical means. On the other hand, if neuroses and psychoses are caused by poor parenting and extreme parental abuse respectively, to treat them with drugs, electroshock or lobotomy only “re-victimizes” the victim.[13]

In the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s tens of thousands of lobotomies were performed in the United States,[14] but since the advent of neuroleptics only about two hundred surgical lobotomies are performed each year in the world. About 100,000 people are being electro-shocked every year in the United States alone, many against their will.[15] North America consumes about 90 per cent of the world’s methylphenidate (“Ritalin”) for American and Canadian children. Many parents, teachers, politicians, physicians and almost all psychiatrists believe in these “medical model” treatments for unwanted behaviors in children and teenagers.

On the other hand, the “trauma model” is an expression that appears in the writings of non-biological psychiatrists such as Colin Ross. Professionals who work in the model of trauma try to understand neurosis and even psychosis as an injury to the inner self inflicted by abusive parenting.[16] As shown in the next essay of this book, the psyche of a child is very vulnerable to persistent abuse while in the process of ego formation. Some books of the proponents of the old existential and “schizophrenogenic” mother are still in print.[17] More recently, the books by Alice Miller have also become popular.[18] In a moving and yet scholarly autobiography John Modrow maintains that an all-out emotional attack by his parents caused a psychotic crisis in his adolescence.[19] Despite claims to the contrary, the trauma model of psychosis is still alive. Only in 2004 two academic books were released on the subject,[20] and in the Journal of Psychohistory Lloyd deMause still suggest that the gamut of mental disorders, from the dissociative states and psychoses of ancient times to the neuroses of today, are consequence of child abuse.[21]
 
Unfalsifiability

Let us take as an example an article published in a July 2002 Time magazine. The author used the case of Rodney Yoder, abused during his childhood and as adult hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital in Chester, Illinois. From the hospital Yoder undertook an internet campaign for his liberation. Catching on the favorite phrases of psychiatrists the Time writer tells us: “Scientists are decades away [my emphasis] from being able to use a brain scan to diagnose something like Yoder’s alleged personality disorders.”[22] In the same line of thinking, Rodrigo Muñoz, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association in the 1990s, stated in an interview: “We are gradually advancing to the point when we will be able [my emphasis] to pinpoint functional and structural changes in the brain that are related to schizophrenia.”[23] That is to say, psychiatrists recognize that at present they cannot understand a mental disorder through purely physical means, though they have enormous faith they will in the near future. Hence it is understandable what another psychiatrist told the Washington Post: “Psychiatric diagnosis is descriptive. We don’t really understand psychiatric disorders at a biological level.”[24] Psychiatrists only rely on conduct, not on the individual’s body, to postulate that there is a biological illness. Child psychiatrist Luis Méndez Cárdenas, the director of the only public psychiatric hospital in Mexico which specializes in committing children, told me in a 2002 interview: “Since the cause of any disorder is unknown, the diagnosis is clinical.”

More to the point, in February 2002 I debated psychiatrist Gerard Heinze, the director of the Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría (the Mexican equivalent to the American National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH.) Arguing with Heinze I rose the question of the lack of biological markers in his profession. Heinze answered enumerating two or three diseases that medical science has not fully understood; he tried to make the point that mental disorders lie in this category of still incomprehensible diseases. For example, until 2006 the Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, which makes some children start to age since their childhood, was an authentic biomedical disease of unknown etiology. But its existence was not controversial before 2006: it was enough to see the poor aged children to know that their problem was clearly somatic. On the other hand, diagnoses of the alleged psychiatric disorders are so subjective that their inclusion in the DSM has to be decided by votes in congresses of influential psychiatrists. Heinze’s point would not have strained my credulity to the breaking point if most of the 374 DSM-IV diagnoses were already proven biomedical illnesses with only a few of them remaining as mysterious diseases. But we are asked to believe that virtually all of the DSM behaviors are mysterious diseases “of unknown etiology”!

One last example related to a 2003 hunger strike of psychiatric survivors in Pasadena, California, who demanded scienti-fic proof of mental illness as a genuine biomedical disease, will illustrate this attitude.[25]

A demand of the hunger strikers was addressed to the American Psychiatric Association and the offices of the Surgeon General. Psychiatrist Ron Sterling dismissed the strikers’ demand for positive scientific proof describing the mental health field in the following way: “The field is like cardiology before cardiologists could do procedures like electrocardiograms, open-heart surgery, angiograms and ultrasound […]. Since brain structure and physiology are so complex, the understanding of its circuitry and biology are in its infancy.”[26] The Surgeon General Office did not even bother to respond. However, in a statement released in September 2003 the American Psychiatric Association conceded that:

Brain science has not advanced to the point where scientists or clinicians can point to readily discernible pathologic lesions or genetic abnormalities that in and of themselves serve as reliable or predictive biomarkers of a given mental disorder or mental disorders as a group… Mental disorders will likely be proven [my emphasis] to represent disorders of intracellular communication; or of disrupted neural circuitry.

The trick to be noticed in the above public statements is that psychiatrists, physicians all things considered, are stating that even though the etiology of mental disorders is unknown such etiology is, by definition, biological, and that it is only a matter of time that it will likely be proven. This is the hidden meaning of the code word “of unknown etiology.” By doing this psychiatrists dismiss in toto the work of the many researchers who have postulated a psychogenic origin of mental distress and disorders.

Although it is more parsimonious to consider a psychological cause for a mental disturbance that has no known biological markers, with its somatogenic dogma orthodox psychiatry ignores the simplest hypothesis, the model of trauma. To inquire into Yoder’s childhood, for instance, is axiomatically dismissed in a science that clings to only one hypothesis. In other words, by postulating unknown etiologies that will be discovered in the future by medical science—never by psychologists—, these physicians have presented us a biological hypothesis of mental disorders in such a way that, even if wrong, cannot be refuted.

If psychiatrists were true scientists they would present their biological hypo-thesis under the falsifiability protocol that Popper observed in hard sciences. Let us consider the hypothesis:

“At sea level water boils at 40º C.”

This is a scientific hypothesis in spite of the fact that the proposition is false (water does not boil at 40º but at 100º C). The hypothesis is scientific because it is presented in such a way that it just takes putting it to the test in our kitchen with a thermometer to see if it is true or not: if water does not boil at 40º C, the hypothesis is false.

In other words, according to Popper the scientific quality of a hypothesis does not depend on whether the hypothesis is true, but however paradoxical it may seem, it depends on whether the hypothesis may be refuted assuming it is false.

Thus the hypothesis that at present water boils at 40º C can be refuted: it is a scientific hypothesis. On the other hand, the hypothesis that schizophrenia and the other major mental disorders are biological and that this “will likely be proven,” the words of the American Psychiatric Association, cannot be refuted: it is not a scientific hypothesis. Against this biological hypothesis there is no possible evidence at present, that is, there is no empirical evidence that can show that the hypothesis is wrong.

This is the sure-fire sign of a pseudoscience.
 

Conclusion

A biopsychiatry that drugs millions of children with healthy brains is not a genuine science. True scientists, such as geologists or biologists, never postulate their central hypotheses as non-falsifiable hypotheses that “will likely be proven.” It is the futuristic stance of psychiatrists what gives the lie to the claim that their belief system is scientific.

A pseudo-science is a belief system that pretends to be scientific. Psychiatry is not the only biological pseudoscience, but it exhibits the same unequivocal signs of pseudoscience present in every system that pretends to be scientific. Other biological pseudoscientists such as phrenologists or the communist proponents of anti-Mendel genetics did not comply with the Popperian requirement of presenting their conjectures in falsifiable form either.

All pseudosciences, biological or paranormal, have four things in common. Just as its biological sisters (phrenology and anti-Mendel genetics) and its paranormal cousins (e. g., parapsychology and UFOlogy), psychiatry is a “science” that (1) presents its central hypothesis in a non-falsifiable way; (2) idolizes in perpetuity that sole hypothesis; (3) violates the economy principle by ignoring the more parsimonious alternative, and (4) is completely sterile. After decades of research neither phrenologists nor psychiatrists, para-psychologists or ufologists, have demons-trated the existence of the (alleged) pheno-mena they study.

In other words, psychiatrists do not have medical or scientific evidence to back their claims. Their own recognition that they cannot tell us anything about the above-mentioned question—with which lab tests do you diagnose this so-called neurological condition?—demonstrates that their schizophrenia hypothesis is unscientific. The same can be said of ADHD, bipolar “illness,” depression and the other major DSM disorders.

In a nutshell, psychiatry is not a science. Since the middle 1950s the lack of a mental health science in the medical profession has been compensated by an invasive marketing and the aggressive sales of psychiatric drugs by the pharmaceutical companies.[27]
 

_______________

[1] Terence Hines, Pseudoscience and the paranormal: a critical examination of the evidence. New York: Prometheus Books, 1988, p. 2.

[2] Ron Leifer, “A critique of medical coercive psychiatry, and an invitation to dialogue,” Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 2001, 3 (3), 161-173 (the journal has been renamed Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry).

[3] Colin Ross & Alvin Pam, Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry: blaming the body. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1995.

[4] Elliot Valenstein, Blaming the brain: the truth about drugs and mental health. New York: Free Press, 1998.

[5] Robert Whitaker, Mad in America: bad science, bad medicine, and the enduring mistreatment of the mentally ill. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus, 2001.

[6] The Committee for the Scientific Inquiry, that publishes the bimonthly Skeptical Inquirer and whose members included luminaries such as Martin Gardner, Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, has been a think tank in the debunking of pseudosciences since 1976.

[7] Cf. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, a journal authored by a group of mental health professionals that specializes in debunking biopsychiatry.

[8] For a critical review of the dopamine theory of schizophrenia see for example Valenstein, Blaming the brain, pp. 82-89; Ross and Pam, Pseudoscience, pp. 106-109.

[9] Nancy Andreasen, Brave new brain: conquering mental illness in the era of the genome. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

[10] Ty Colbert, book review in Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 2001, 3 (3), p. 213.

[11] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. New York: Routledge, 2002, chapters 4 and 6 esp.

[12] See for example Thomas Szasz, Pharmacracy: medicine and politics in America. Connecticut: Praeger, 2001.

[13] César Tort, “Cómo asesinar el alma de tu hijo” in Hojas Susurrantes, Lulu distributors, 2016.

[14] As to date Whitaker’s Mad in America is the most readable exposé I know of the darkest period in American psychiatry.

[15] Ibid.

[16] See for example Silvano Arieti, Interpretation of schizophrenia. New Jersey: Aronson, 1994. Originally published in 1955, this celebrated treatise is worth revisiting.

[17] See for example Ronald Laing, The divided self: an existential study in sanity and madness (Selected works of R.D. Laing, 1). New York: Routledge, 1999.

[18] E.g., Alice Miller, Breaking down the wall of silence: the liberating experience of facing painful truth. New York: Dutton, 1987.

[19] John Modrow, How to become a schizophrenic: the case against biological psychiatry. New York: Writers Club Press, 2003.

[20] Colin Ross, Schizophrenia: an innovative approach to diagnosis and treatment. New York: Haworth Press, 2004. See also John Read, Loren Mosher and Richard Bentall, Models of madness. New York: Routledge, 2004.

[21] See e.g., Lloyd deMause, “The Evolution of the Psyche and Society” in The Emotional Life of Nations. New York: Other Press, 2002.

[22] John Cloud, “They call him crazy,” Time, 15 July 2002.

[23] Rodrigo Muñoz, quoted in Jeanette De Wyze, “Still crazy after all these years,” San Diego Weekly Reader, 9 January 2003.

[24] Thomas Laughren, quoted in Shankar Vedantam, “Against depression, a sugar pill is hard to beat: placebos improve mood, change biochemistry in majority of trials of antidepressants,” Washington Post, 6 May 2002.

[25] Fred Baughman, Peter Breggin, Mary Boyle, David Cohen, Ty Colbert, Pat Deegan, Al Galves, Thomas Greening, David Jacobs, Jay Joseph, Jonathan Leo, Bruce Levine, Loren Mosher and Stuart Shipko, “15 December 2003 reply by scientific panel of the Fast for Freedom in Mental Health to the 26 September statement by the American Psychiatric Association.” (I read this article at the beginning of 2004 in mindfreedom.org.)

[26] Ron Sterling, “Hoeller does a disservice to professionals,” op-ed rebuttal, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9 September 2003.

[27] Valenstein, Blaming the brain (op. cit.).