On depression

A Stone Boat (Faber & Faber 1994)
The Noonday Demon (Scribner 2002)

When we repress our anger, writes Susan Forward in her bestseller Toxic Parents, we will likely fall into depression. But not all cases of depression, the most common form of mental disorder, are the result of repressed anger. It may originate from existential causes: the infinite gamut of insoluble problems in life. However, in cases of repressed parental abuse cathartic anger may be a balsam for its cure. Colin Ross, who coined the term trauma model of mental disorders, believes that ‘anger is the most powerful anti-depressant in the market’. Andrew Solomon takes the opposite stance: he idealised the parent and repressed his anger, as I’ll try to show in this essay-review of his books.

Andrew Solomon✡

Solomon is a very peculiar writer, the son of a millionaire of Forest Laboratories: a company that manufactures psychiatric drugs. That we are immersed in the matrix of Big Pharma is evident in the compliments that The Noonday Demon has received, especially the compliments of those who have suffered from depression. I find this so scandalous that I must write this essay, especially because The Noonday Demon was in the New York Times bestseller list. The pseudoscientific propaganda that inundates The Noonday Demon through its 700 pages (I read the Spanish translation seventeen years ago) is such that I could have written a much longer essay-review.

The Noonday Demon received the National Book Award in 2001. Solomon has thus contributed to what Thomas Szasz calls the pharmacratic status quo. Although Solomon mentions Szasz and Elliot Valenstein, he omits to say that they and many other mental health professionals disagree with the biological theories that Solomon presents as fact. It is not even apparent that Solomon has read the dissident scholars. For example, in the 860 references that he boasts in The Noonday Demon he does not mention a single reference of my critical bibliography on psychiatry that I recommend (see below).
 

An American pandemic?

According to Solomon’s bestseller, almost twenty millions Americans suffer from depression. Solomon confesses in his book how he suffered from this malaise since his mother died, and he recounts the therapeutic odyssey he found in a psychiatric profession that he considers benign.

The ‘noonday demons’ was a religious metaphor used since the Low Middle Ages to describe what since the Renaissance would be called ‘melancholy’, and in our times ‘depression’. Through the centuries, those who have been in panic when these demons attack have been prone to experiment with all sorts of quack remedies. Solomon himself tried a magical ritual in Africa; standard psychiatric medication, and New Age alternative remedies. He even experimented with alcohol, cocaine and opium, as he confesses in his book.

Tom Szasz, perhaps the most famous psychiatrist in the United States, proposes to abolish involuntary psychiatry. Szasz doesn’t propose to ban the prescription of drugs for adults, always provided that the professional maintains well informed his client about the risks (something they rarely do). A great deal of the economic power of psychiatry rests on this not so obscure side of the profession, the voluntary side: something that blinds people like Solomon to see that the profession has a darker side.

If an individual wants to take drugs, whether tranquilizers, stimulants, anti-anxiety pills or even illegal drugs, he should be free to do it according to Szasz. Solomon goes beyond this and mentions cases in which people in panic solicited electroshock. Although shock treatment is sometimes voluntary, I don’t believe it should be legal. Solomon himself cites the case of a young woman who told him that after a shock session she forgot everything she had learned in law school. Solomon also cites the grotesque testimony of an individual that requested psychosurgery to eliminate his persistent depression, and the neuropsychiatrists performed it! (a pointless surgery, of course, because the problem was in his mind’s software, not in the brain’s hardware).

Those procedures affected the faculties of these voluntary patients, the remedy resulting worse than the illness, because psychiatry is an iatrogenic profession. If we keep in mind Colin Ross’ words about ‘anger, the best antidepressant in the market’, instead of these harmful treatments I would recommend a depressed patient to write a long letter to the parent who caused the crisis (I myself did it, as we shall see). This is what Sue Forward recommends in Toxic Parents. Alternatively, I would recommend talking with survivors of parental abuse. Forward describes her group therapies for neurotics; Ross describes the same for people in psychotic crises. In the worst of possible cases, say schizophrenia, I would recommend a Soteria-like house, although there are very few of them because the medical profession monopolises treatments.

What neither Solomon nor the orthodox psychiatrists understand is that, by medically treating those who have been abused at home, they promote a status quo that ought to change. Those who want a better society do not propose prohibiting the drugs that are voluntarily consumed. We want to eliminate the conditions that cause mental stress and disorders. However, we do point out that with the medical model of mental disorders we are heading toward the dystopia described by Aldous Huxley. In October of 1949, when Nineteen Eighty Four was published, Huxley wrote to Orwell a letter telling him that the totalitarian state would not control people with a boot on the face as in 1984 but through much more subtle forms of manipulation: the voluntary drugging in the
 

Brave new world

The efficacy of antidepressants, that started to be manufactured a few years after Huxley sent his letter to Orwell, has been enormously exaggerated by the pharmaceutical companies. Solomon ignores that, just like homeopathic meds, the antidepressant that his father distributes basically functions like a placebo: the power of suggestion and autosuggestion. Studies show that a considerable percentage of the people that are told that a marvellous antidepressant has just been discovered are cured of their depression although they were given sugar pills. This effect is called ‘placebo’ in the medical profession. The companies like the one that made Solomon’s father a rich man also minimise the side-effects of the antidepressants.

In a market society it is very difficult to find the study of an independent researcher about the effects of antidepressants. The few existent studies, say those by Peter Breggin and Joseph Glenmullen, have not been rebutted either by the companies that make the drugs, or by the psychiatrists who prescribe them. Breggin, a graduate Harvard psychiatrist, recommends stopping taking any sort of psychiatric meds. It’s irritating that my dust jacket has Solomon as ‘profoundly human’ when Solomon advises people suffering from depression not to stop taking drugs. He even confesses that he got mad with his aunt’s gerontologist because the good doctor advised her to stop taking Celexa (citalopram): the very drug that Solomon’s dad distributes.

As I said, Solomon writes about psychiatric theories as fact. Curiously, at the same time he recommends alternative treatments. Lots of them! Just as the race of birds in Alice in Wonderland, in Solomon’s book all sorts of therapies, allopathic, homeopathic and alternative, win the first price in the treatment of depression. In Solomon’s wonderland absolutely everything is recommended, from the most diverse forms of popular quackery to lobotomy. Since I only have the Spanish translation of The Noonday Demon I cannot quote Solomon verbatim in English (libraries in Mexico are very poor in their English section). But he certainly says that dozens of treatments, from Saint-John’s-wort to psychosurgery, are reasonably promising. If such quackery apparently gets results, it’s all due to the placebo effect.

Solomon’s book is inundated with incredible treatments, personal testimonies from his depressed acquaintances, and with the theories of biological psychiatry. For example, Solomon writes that some people who abuse stimulants also suffer from depression in the same family. To him, this indicates that there’s a ‘genetic predisposition’ for the consumption of cocaine and other stimulants.

It doesn’t occur to Solomon that there can be no genes responsible for addictions for the simple reason that the genes of our species are older than the making of these chemicals. For instance, a putative gene that moves the alcoholic individual to drink cannot exist because alcohol is chronologically more recent than the genotype of the alcoholic individual, and there have been no substantive changes in our species since the caveman. Similarly, Solomon’s claim that the type of drugs that his dad makes represents real medicine is unsupportable. For example, he recognises that cocaine heals depression, but he disapproves of it because it’s illegal. On the next page Solomon recognises that Xanax pills (alprazolam), a benzodiazepine, caused him unpleasant symptoms. Xanax is the anxiety killer that Solomon used to take: the very drug that made George Bush Sr. vomit in Japan during his presidency. According to Solomon, with this drug he could crash into a heavy sleep plagued with dreams. However, he does recommend it because it’s legal.

Solomon never reveals in his book that Ritalin (methylphenidate) can be moral and illegal in the adult who takes it without prescription, but that it can also be immoral and legal if it is administered to a child to control him at school. Instead, he reasons like the good boy of the establishment: the legality of his dad’s company makes those drugs, by definition, moral; and the illegality of cocaine and ecstasy makes them immoral. Solomon talks about the permanent damage in the brain’s dopaminergic systems caused by cocaine. But he omits to say that Zyprexa (olanzapine), the neuroleptic that the psychiatrist prescribed him, causes exactly the same damage. Similarly, Solomon talks about the withdrawal symptoms that cocaine causes, but he does not dissuade his readers from taking neuroleptics although akathisia is pretty similar to such symptoms. Curiously, Solomon says he would accept taking cocaine or ecstasy to cure his depression, but that the withdrawal symptoms made him have second thoughts. In another part of his book Solomon recognises that while alprazolam killed his anxiety during the depressive attacks, it converted him into an addict. In a magazine article Solomon confessed he used to take about twelve pills per day, but when he’s in another mood he states that the aetiology of his depression is purely existential.

The cocktail of psychiatric drugs that Solomon has taken for years includes Zoloft (sertraline), Xanax (alprazolam), Paxil (paroxetine), Navane (thiothixene), Valium (diazepam), BuSpar (buspirone), Wellbutrin (bupropion) and Zyprexa (olanzapine). Even though this suggests that Solomon believes in the medical model of mental disorders, he often talks of souls in pain. He writes that he ‘discovered something that should be called the soul’. Other times he appears as the spokesman of psychiatric biologicism. His book is a contradictory compendium of both explicit apologetics of biopsychiatry and soft criticism of biopsychiatry; of existential testimonies of depressed people, and the biological myths of the profession. He advertises Prozac (fluoxetine) and on another page he recognises that his mother complained about its side-effects. (If Prozac and the antidepressants work as placebos, the so-called ‘side-effects’ are in fact the primary effects, the only effects of the drug; and the antidepressant effect would be caused by the power of suggestion.) Solomon also presents a mixture of both: existential and biological problems as the cause of melancholy. He sensibly concedes that extreme poverty and homelessness may cause ‘depression’, but he unreasonably recommends treating the homeless with psychiatric drugs. He adds the remarkable statement that more than in any other case, the homeless’ resistance to take drugs is a symptom of a ‘disease’. Solomon quotes the scientists or pseudo-scientists who say that the cause of the addictions is ‘in the brain’, when common sense contradicts this bio-reductionist approach. Asian people for example would disagree that their gambling is in their defective brains. The same could be said of those Westerners who are addicted to shopping in a consumer-oriented society: the problem is in the culture, not in their brains.

In his book Solomon contradicts himself in a thousand ways. As a master of doublethink, he accepts both the medical model of mental disorders, and the trauma model of mental disorders when both are mutually exclusive. In his chapter about suicide he repeats the slogans of the psychiatrist, for example when he says that we got to understand that suicidal ideation is the result of mental illness, and that mental illnesses are treatable. He recommends electroshock. Not even the horrendous case-stories that he mentions awakened Solomon’s compassion. He didn’t condemn the psychiatric institutions that maintain them alive against their will. But when he writes about the suicide of his mother, Solomon turns suddenly into a compassionate son, and suicide is nothing else than an act of a tormented soul. However, Solomon didn’t condemn the nets he saw in Norristown Hospital that maintained alive patients like mosquitoes in cobwebs to prevent that they killed themselves. They were strangers to him and he accepts involuntary therapies applied to them. But double-thinker Solomon confesses that nothing causes him more horror than the thought that he would be prevented from committing suicide.
 

The ‘unacknowledged revenge’ on mother

Throughout my reading of Solomon’s book the question came to my mind: How is it that someone like me, who writes in a state of virtual poverty in the Third World, never fell in depressions while Solomon, the American junior who spent a fortune in treatments didn’t only suffer from the common blues, but of horrible depressions? Could it be that Solomon has not listened to what Stefan Zweig, the biographer of tormented souls, called the daimon?

Let me explain myself. Solomon writes about some children whose parents took to the psychiatrist’s office for anger therapy. Solomon completely omits to say that this was probably due to child abuse at home. Once the legit anger is crushed in the therapeutic sessions, the shrinks acknowledge that the children fell into a melancholic state (remember Ross’ equation about anger and depression being inversely proportional to each other). Those children are, again, strangers to Solomon and he doesn’t pity them. But in another part of his book Solomon recognises that his depression originated after his mother died. And it was precisely a conflict with his mother, who hated Solomon’s sexuality, what had moved him to write another book: A Stone Boat.

I must confess that what moved me to write this essay-review is my literary project that I have written in Spanish and that I would love to see published in English. Alas, the subject is such a taboo that more than twenty publishing houses in Spain and Mexico have rejected it. There’s an almost symmetrical antithesis between the first of my books, Letter to Mom Medusa and A Stone Boat. Also, there’s an almost symmetrical antithesis between my second book How to Murder Your Child’s Soul and The Noonday Demon.

A Stone Boat is an autobiographical novel in which Solomon eludes discharging the rage he feels toward his mother. In The Noonday Demon Solomon mentions A Stone Boat quite a few times as a description of real events of his life, not as a fictional novel. Unlike The Noonday Demon I do have an English copy of it and can, at last, quote this homosexual writer. Solomon wrote:

I can remember days… that this secret [his sexual preferences] was my unacknowledged revenge on her. I would lie in the silence of my room and imagine the pain I would later cause my mother.

Although on the next page he writes: ‘I wanted somehow to take the unspeakable vengeance’, in the balance A Stone Boat is a politically-correct confessional novel: Solomon is afraid of speaking out the whole truth of his sentiments. The plot starts when the main character, Solomon’s alter ego, arrived in Paris to confront his mother because of her attitude toward his male lover.

I set off to Paris in anger, determined for the first time to act upon anger… I was, at best, trying to see my life as separate from my mother’s.

But he couldn’t. Upon arriving he discovered that his mother had cancer.

Perhaps I was angrier that week than I remember, but I think in fact that when I first saw that my mother might be sick, my anger got put away somewhere, and my mother became as glorious to me as she had been in my childhood.

Hence, writes Solomon, ‘through I had gone to France to sever ties’, the beatific vision continued until she died. In the last chapter of A Stone Boat Solomon confesses:

I forgive my mother as though I were spokesman for the very gates of heaven.

Solomon ignores that unilateral forgiveness is a psychological impossibility. The grace of forgiveness only reaches us when the offender recognises her fault. Neither in real life nor in the novel did his mother repent. And Solomon forfeited to confront her directly (the opposite of what another Jew, Kafka, did in Letter to His Father). Moreover, Solomon recounts that in the funeral he saw his mother ‘like an angel’ and, by seeing her in this way, he delivered himself into the open arms of the goddess of Melancholy.

The literary genre that I would like to inaugurate would not only oppose the biologicism that is breathed throughout The Noonday Demon, but the elegant prose of A Stone Boat: a poetic novel that has been described as a reach toward Proust. Vindictive autobiography doesn’t take care of the literary form at all: it’s a barbarous genre that breaks the millenarian taboo of honouring the parent. Without scruples, repressions and with the real names, vindictive autobiography throws in the parent’s face what s/he did to us. Conversely, The Noonday Demon is a book that approaches depression from every possible viewpoint, an atlas of the world of depression as the subtitle says. But what we need is more profundity, not amplitude. This is true not only of The Noonday Demon, but of many other quack books on the subject. The cause of the mental disorders with no known biological marker is in the psyche’s nucleus, not on a surface that a scholarly ‘atlas’ may explore.

In his autobiographical novel, my antipode Solomon wrote:

It was terrible how much I loved my mother. It was the most terrible thing in the world.

This was reinforced by the family dynamics:

My father expected everyone to understand at once that my mother was more important than everyone else [and Solomon] was as much in the habit of believing it as he was. [To the extent that Solomon] thought that if she died I would also have to die.

Solomon’s girlfriend told him: ‘Enough is enough; if you spend every minute with her, you’ll go crazy’. He further writes that ‘to be in the room’ with his mother ‘was like being splattered with blood’. He loved her despite that ‘in the first weeks of her illness, my mother was to reveal more clearly her terrible brutality: She could be harsh, and she was demanding, and she could be selfish’. The metaphor of a stone boat came from his girlfriend referring to Solomon’s idealisation of a perfect family: a myth that, according to her, would sink in the sea.

But she was wrong. Solomon didn’t sink the stony idea in a sea of truth. He continued to idealise his mom as it is surmised from the fact that, after he published A Stone Boat, Solomon embarked on a huge enterprise: the writing of a treatise to repress the aetiology of his depression even further, The Noonday Demon. In this later work, his magnum opus, Solomon tells us that the old Freudian precept of blaming the mother has been discarded.

Solomon is wrong in all counts. Blaming the mother is neither a Freudian principle (it’s Frieda Fromm-Reichmann’s), nor has it been discarded (cf. the work of Alice Miller), and Solomon himself has to get his ass even with his mother’s if he is to win the battle against depression. That’s Sue Forward’s advice, who recommends the depressed adult to read a vindictive letter to the late parent in front of the grave to achieve inner peace. As a researcher, I have been in anger therapies in the Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma in Dallas. The level of overt fury and hate toward the invoked perpetrators shocked me. The emotions I witnessed there were not creatures of the surface but the demons of the Old World that Solomon and his depressing fans don’t dare to invoke.
 

The daimon

Those who fall in depression are like extinct volcanoes that have long passed by the tectonic plates’ hot spot beneath them. Solomon has not done a good introspection: he’s an extinct volcano. Only thus can we understand when he writes that one of the most terrible aspects of depression, the anxiety and the panic attacks, is that volition is absent: that those sentiments simply ‘occur’. Obviously Solomon has no idea of the demonic magma that inhabits beneath him and that desperately needs a way out. The bestselling author on depression doesn’t know what depression is: psychic congestion or a cooled crag that, blocking the escape valve, impedes the deliverance of a monster. Had Solomon choose the genre of the eruptive epistle instead of the toned down novel or a scholarly treatise, he could have confronted the inner daimon that haunts him and vomit the hell out of it.

There’s a passage in The Noonday Demon that suggests this interpretation. Solomon writes that he once believed that his sexuality was responsible for the suffering of his mother: suffering she endured until she died. The mother hated Solomon’s homosexuality, and that hatred was a poison that started to impregnate Solomon’s mind. I’m not inventing this: I’m rephrasing what Solomon wrote from the translated copy of his Noonday that I have access to. Solomon even writes that he cannot separate his mother’s homophobia from his own homophobia to the point of exposing himself to the HIV virus. And he further confesses that this exposure was a way of converting an inner self-hatred into a physical reality. In A Stone Boat he writes that his mother told him: ‘No child was ever loved more than you’, and in the following pages he adds: ‘A minute later I thought of killing her’ to end the mother’s agony. Mom’s cruellest tirade had been telling him she would eat poisonous maggots and die, and that only then would Solomon regret having been a naughty child.

Solomon’s confessions can help us to understand his depression in a way that Solomon can’t. As he writes in The Noonday Demon, which unlike A Stone Boat is not a novel, his mother committed suicide to stop the pain of her ovary cancer. On June 19, 1991 in front of Solomon his beloved mother swallowed red pills of Seconal (secobarbital: a barbiturate). He and the rest of his family assisted the suicide. Solomon confesses us that his mother’s suicide was the cataclysm of his life; that it’s buried in his guts like a sharp knife—these are his own metaphors—and that it hurts every time he moves. In some of the most emotional passages Solomon tells us that his mother took pill after pill, the ‘poisonous maggots’ she had threatened would make him feel really bad. Solomon even writes that by imitating her he later learned to take handfuls of anti-depressants, ‘pill after pill’…

The psychic radiography of Solomon starts taking shape. However, like the proverbial prodigal son that represses in his mind the parent’s behaviour, Solomon tells us that it is nonsense that teenagers reproach their parents when they have done everything for them. His non-reproached resentment metamorphosed into acute melancholy: just what happened to the children whose shrinks eliminated their anger. But it is the prohibition of touching the mother what makes this Œdipus write that we should not deceive ourselves; that we don’t know the cause of depression and that we don’t know either how it came about in human evolution.

That, my dear readers, is biological psychiatry: the art of blaming the body for our cowardice to confront mom.

 
Œdipus’ struggles with the daimon

In his desperate attempts to escape the harassment of his inner daimon, Solomon found the exit door by a fluke. In The Noonday Demon he paraphrases the psychoanalysts who have written insightful passages about melancholy. For example, Solomon writes that, in order not to castigate the beloved person, the melancholic individual re-directs the anger and the ambivalence he feels for the loved one onto the patient himself. And following Sigmund Freud and his disciple Karl Abraham he self-analysed himself well enough when he wrote that during his first crisis, after his mother’s death, he incorporated her into his writing. Unfortunately, he also writes that he lamented the pain he caused to her, and this false sense of guilt persisted. He further writes that her death prevented that his relationship with his mother had a healthy closure. In A Stone Boat he had written: ‘Our flashes of intense hatred had never really undermined our adoration of each other’.

Solomon never crossed through the very door that he opened. In contrast to John Modrow, the valiant memorialist who published a touching autobiography about his maddening parents, Solomon’s struggles with the daimon of honouring the parent never ended. When he published A Stone Boat the daimon of guilt assaulted him once more. In The Noonday Demon he writes that when he published the novel it made him feel like a defiant son, and that the guilt feelings began to consume him. He even writes about an internalised love-object, his mother, and about internalised sadism: what Solomon did to himself. Solomon wasn’t only masochist to defend the idealised image of his mother (cf. what Ross says about ‘the locus of control shift’ in his book The Trauma Model). He broke pictures of himself hanging in his home, and he left the hammer in the middle of the broken crystals.

Once he even attacked viciously a friend to the point of breaking his jaw and nose. The man was hospitalised and in The Noonday Demon, where we wouldn’t expect fiction or literary embellishments as in the novel, Solomon confesses to us that he will never forget the relief he felt with each of his vicious punches. He found himself even strangling his friend and says that could have killed him. However, Solomon omits to say if he was arrested or if dad’s attorneys kept him out of jail. He does confess, however, that he hasn’t repented from what he did. He justifies his actions and he wrote that otherwise he would have become mad. And he adds that part of the sensation of fear and impotence he suffered in those times was alleviated by those savage acts. And still further he adds the illuminating confession that to deny the curative power of violence would be a terrible mistake, and that the night of the fighting he arrived at home covered with blood with a sensation of horror and euphoria at the same time.

Miraculously, that night he felt completely released from his daimon! But was the struggle with it over? Nope!: this acting out was nothing else than the displaced fury he felt toward his mother.

Alice Miller has taught us that displaced rage is infinite. It never ends. One is left to wonder what would the hospitalised friend say of Solomon’s fans, who have described him as ‘compassionate and humane’. On the next page of Solomon’s fight he gives us the key to enter his mind. Solomon wrote that he realised that depression could manifest itself in the form of rage.

This cracks the daimon’s cipher. Those who fall in depression and go to the shrink office to pop up a bottle and take a pill don’t know what’s happening in their heads! What these people actually feel is rage and fury toward the perps. But God forbid: we cannot touch them. Parents are to be honoured. A Miller reader would argue that only when our selves get integrated about how and when we were abused, we won’t displace our rage on innocent friends. Solomon also confesses to us that he displaced the anger he felt on his lover: ‘I hated Bernard and I hated my father. This made it easier to love my mother’. This is exactly what Silvano Arieti said in Interpretation of Schizophrenia about one of his patients who ‘protected the images of his parents but at the expense of having an unbearable self-image’. The dots start to be connected. Solomon imagined that he ‘would mutilate his [Bernard’s] cat’. But that was not enough:

I wrote him a letter carefully designed to make him fall in love with me, hopelessly in love, so that I could reject him brutally. I would castrate him with a straight razor. [And also fantasised] putting rat poison in his coffee, but I couldn’t remember why.

Of course he couldn’t: he was still displacing his anger onto a scapegoat (in The Noonday Demon he ratifies the actual existence of the person he called Bernard). Solomon was looking for a safer object to transfer his unconscious affects toward his mother, a mother about whom he wrote: ‘You don’t love me. You are obsessed with me, and you keep trying to drag me down into your illness’. Since displaced anger is infinite, in The Noonday Demon Solomon confesses that, in desperation, he went to Senegal looking for an exorcism. The persistent daimon had to be expelled at all costs, and he tried the ritual called ndeup. But witchcraft didn’t work. The powerful spell that his witch-mother had cast unto him wasn’t broken in black Africa.

After his Senegal experience Solomon continued to look for the cause of depression in psychiatry’s blame-the-body theories, and he also tried many pop remedies. It’s fascinating to see that quite a few of his quack remedies are identical to what Robert Burton prescribed in his famous 1621 treatise on melancholy. Both writers, the 17th-century Burton and the 21st century Solomon, recommend Saint-John’s-wort! And parallel to these Old Age and New Age quackery, Solomon writes a ‘scientific’ chapter on evolutionary biology to answer how could it be possible that natural selection allowed depression.

If we take into account that depression is a crack in our attachment systems due to unprocessed abuse, the above is a pretty stupid question. While I only have minor quibbles with Solomon’s stupidities, when he mentions involuntary psychiatry he sides the parents and the professionals against the patients. The pages that infuriated me the most are the ones in which Solomon sides the parents who label their sane children as mentally ill to control them through psychiatric drugs, especially at school.

It is understandable, therefore, that Solomon didn’t dedicate The Noonday Demon to the child victim of involuntary psychiatry, what I do with my texts. He dedicated it to his millionaire father who financed his investigation and whose income depends on the selling of those drugs for social control.

 

Recommended readings:

Criticism of language is the most radical of all criticisms. The following is the first book of my list because, if in our vocabulary we don’t root out the Newspeak of psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and clinical psychologists, it will be impossible to understand the family, social, economic and existential problems that we all have:

(1) Thomas Szasz: Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry (NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990).
 

On the importance of vindictive autobiography:

(2) John Modrow: How To Become A Schizophrenic: The Case Against Biological Psychiatry (New York: Writers Club Press, 2003).

(3) Susan Forward: Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life (2002 by Bantam, first published in 1989).
 

On psychoanalysis and all sorts of psychotherapies:

(4) Jeffrey Masson: Against Therapy: Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing (Common Courage Press, 1988).

(5) —————–: Final analysis: The Making And Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst (London: HarperCollins, 1991).
 

On the pseudoscientific nature of biological psychiatry:

(6) Colin Ross and Alvin Pam (eds.): Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry: Blaming the Body (NY: Wiley & Sons, 1995).

(7) Elliot Valenstein: Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs And Mental Health (NY: The Free Press, 1998).

(8) Peter Breggin: Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the “New Psychiatry” (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1994).

(9) Robert Whitaker: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (Cambridge: Perseus, 2001).
 

Note of 2020:

Anyone who wants updated information can watch Robert Whitaker’s YouTube videos, which includes videos from this year (not to be confused with white nationalist Robert W. Whitaker who died in 2017).

My books on the subject appear on the sidebar: Letter to mom Medusa and Day of Wrath.

On vaccine hesitancy

This is a response to a comment of Peter, a regular visitor, about whether or not to vaccinate our children, more formally called vaccine hesitancy. I place it as an entry instead of a simple comment because it involves two questions that I consider fundamental: (1) the principle of the non-falsifiable hypothesis as a litmus test of whether we are facing a pseudoscience, and my metaphor of conspiracy theorists who leave the courtroom every time the prosecutor speaks. Peter wrote:

I’m truly surprised that you would express such a credulous stance on this issue, with mine being that vaccination is a branch of medicine just as fraudulent and pernicious as biological psychiatry.

I’m not sure the analogy is adequate. Although psychiatrists cannot present their central hypothesis (that mental illness is a biomedical entity) in a falsifiable way, I suppose that medical science can present, without violating falsifiability, the claim that vaccines prevent, say, smallpox, pertussis or measles. ‘I suppose’ I wrote because I haven’t listened to the ‘prosecutor’ in the case of vaccines. And this brings me to Peter’s second statement:

Finally, you like to speak of listening to the Prosecution and the Defense to come to a fair conclusion about any contentious topic. So to what extent have you given the “Prosecution” a fair hearing on this issue?

For someone who has not entered the courtroom of the debate between those who believe in vaccines and those who don’t, the best analogy wouldn’t be the member of a jury. That would mean spending much time as those members do in American movies. Furthermore, the government compels them not to walk away while listening to both sides. Rather, I would be one of the citizens who listen to the trial from the seats, a layman who is not obliged to follow the case closely but simply wants to get a general idea of the controversy.

To argue, without using much time, that psychiatry is a false science one just has to read my linked article above, or watch any of Robert Whitaker’s videos (whom white nationalists should not mistake for Bob Whitaker). Ideally, in the case of vaccine hesitancy, Peter would link an open debate between ‘lawyer’ and ‘prosecutor’ so to speak. Only if, from that debate, I feel that the prosecutor won (that is, that the vaccine-hesitant POV sounds more scientific) I would use my time to study the subject.

Published in: on March 23, 2020 at 12:30 pm  Comments (13)  

Beware of vitamin quacks

At the beginning of the month I caught a terrible flu that made me spend most of my meagre savings on conventional doctors, inhalation therapy and alternative therapies. But yesterday and today I saw two videos debunking the latter—dietary supplements—that impressed me. The videos cover the fads like antioxidants in pills, Omega3 and Vitamin D but I’ll only say a few words about Vitamin C.

The recommendation from real science is

Skip it: It probably won’t help you get over your cold, and you can eat citrus fruits instead. The Vitamin C hype, as artificial pills, started with a suggestion that chemist Linus Pauling made in the 1970s and peaked with Airborne and Emergen-C but it’s just a hype. Study after study has shown that pills do little to nothing to prevent the common cold (and megadoses of 2,000 milligrams or more can raise your risk of painful kidney stones).

So get your Vitamin C, and the other nutrients, from natural food instead. Remember: our health models are Sparta, Republican Rome and National Socialist Germany—not the US. Pay special attention to what the videos mentioned above say about how the American FDA lost control of quack medicine (here and more formally here).

Published in: on December 20, 2019 at 2:54 pm  Comments (6)  

Ron Unz and JFK

or

Leaving the courtroom

My comment in the previous post, about Ron Unz’s credulity about conspiracy theories (CTs) of the assassination of John F. Kennedy has made me think, once again, about what we might call the pathology of extraordinary beliefs. As the sceptics of CTs have said, which not only includes JFK but also 9/11, this is a topic that, like religion and politics, should not be touched in after-dinner conversations. People feel very hurt and it is impossible to argue on good terms.

Let’s use the analogy of the lawyer and the prosecutor who bring the experts to court to try to convince the jury; say, the mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald staged by British television between Gerry Spence and Vincent Bugliosi. A good litmus test to know who has a closed mind is simply to point out who, when watching the TV show at home, leaves the room when the speaker is either Spence or Bugliosi.

The fact is that it is those who believe in the CT who usually leave the room, so to speak, in the sense that they never read sceptical books. Their attitude is as surreal as Alice’s Queen of Hearts in Wonderland: first comes to the sentence and then the trial. First we ‘know’ that 9/11 was an inside job, or, in the case of JFK, we ‘know’ that Oswald didn’t act alone. The long trial process that culminates in the sentence is of no importance or consequence for those who ‘know’ the truth.

Ron Unz is reputed to be a voracious devourer of books and articles. But when the issue of the trial between Spence and Bugliosi arrives, he leaves the courtroom every time the prosecutor speaks. Last year, in this discussion thread of his webzine, Unz said he had not read the thick Bugliosi treatise. When a supporter of Bugliosi pointed out that there was a much shorter book of another ‘prosecutor’ (pic above), a book that with the amazing capacity that Unz has could read it in one day, Unz did not respond.

That is the all too common attitude among those who believe in CTs. True Believers can read a dozen books promoting the conspiracy but not a single article from the other side (listen how Bugliosi explains this bizarre behaviour: here)! That is why they ignore the most basic arguments of the prosecutor. For example, in the most recent discussion thread about the 9/11 attacks, some visitors got mad at me but none advanced an argument about a video I linked about Building 7 (for the believers in the 9/11 CTs, Building 7 is considered one of their strongest arguments of what they call ‘controlled demolition’).

It is relatively easy to find out who’s the one who leaves the courthouse every time the opposing lawyer speaks. They are those who believe not only in the CT about JFK or 9/11, but in the so-called Fake Moon Landing, Satanic Ritual Abuse, or the existence of UFOs in Hangar 14 of the US government.

Let’s illustrate this with my case. I used to believe in the pseudoscience of parapsychology. I spent many years of my life wanting to prove the existence of ‘psi’ (extrasensory perception and psychokinesis). I didn’t read the sceptics of the paranormal because they were ‘the bad guys in the movie’.

When I finally spoke with them, at a November 1989 conference they invited me to, I was surprised that those I considered closed were, in fact, quite open people. They even subscribed to the main journals of parapsychology. That happened also with UFO sceptics. They were avid readers of their opponents’ literature: those who promote the hypothesis that UFOs are manned extraterrestrial ships. It is the believers of the extraterrestrial hypothesis who never read the literature of the sceptics.

Before, I only read literature from parapsychologists. But after meeting the ‘prosecutors’ in the early 1990s I became familiar, little by little, with their literature. A few years after subscribing to the Skeptical Inquirer there came a time when I felt agnostic (just as there are people who are no longer a hundred percent sure that God exists). Concurrently I realised that my parapsychological colleagues did not read sceptical literature, nor did they respond to the main arguments of the sceptics (Occam’s razor, the falsifiability principle, etc.).

Only until May 1995, thinking outside a subway station, there was a time when I seriously doubted, for the first time in life, the existence of psi (something similar to a priest doubting for the first time in his life of the existence of God). However, it would take me a few more years to understand why had I got caught in such a self-sealing belief system in the first place: an issue I address in my autobiographical books (see sidebar at the bottom of this page).

I mention this just so that it is understood that there are times that we are so absolutely convinced that pseudoscience is real science that we do not realise that it is a cathedral built on clay bases.

When I lived in Marin County I once had the opportunity to realise that the foundations of the ‘science’ I was studying were shaky. In a bookstore I saw that they sold A Skeptic’s Handbook of Parapsychology. Thirty-four years have passed since that night and I still remember the image of James Randi on the dustcover. But I thought I couldn’t afford it. If I had listened to the prosecutor, a dozen (lost) years of my life would have been spared! But I didn’t listen to him and embarked on a quixotic project of wanting to develop psi.

You can’t learn from another’s mistakes. I know that what I say here won’t make any dent whatsoever in the True Believers’ worldview who, like Unz, flee from the courtroom every time Bugliosi speaks. They do this to avoid the most elemental cognitive dissonance, as I did when I was trapped in my self-sealing system. But if I could travel to the past and see Cesar in that California bookstore in 1985, I would tell him, I would beg him, to buy the book he had in his young hands…

Great personalities defend eugenics, 6

by Evropa Soberana

 
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), twentieth President of the United States, descendant of the Dutch aristocracy, cowboy, man of extraordinary vitality, father of six children, banned immigration from China, Japan and the Philippines for considering it of inferior quality to that of northern Europe and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his mediation in the Russo-Japanese War.

During the Spanish-American War of 1898, in which Spain lost Cuba and the Philippines, Roosevelt came to lament that the anti-militarist and peace-loving individuals left offspring, while the splendid young soldiers, good genetic specimens often fell in combat without having left a child. During that war, he joined a famous cavalry unit, the Rough Riders.

Time after being President, he was the victim of an attack in which he was shot. The attack broke a rib and left a bullet lodged in his chest but he insisted on finishing his speech one hour before receiving medical attention.

It is really extraordinary that our people refuse to apply to human beings such elementary knowledge as every successful farmer is obliged to apply to his own stock breeding. Any group of farmers who permitted their best stock not to breed, and let all the increase come from the worst stock, would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum.

Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stock, physically and morally, while it encourages or connives at the cold selfishness or the twisted sentimentality as a result of which the men and women who ought to marry, and if married have large families, remain celibates or have no children or only one or two.

Some day we will realize that the prime duty, the inescapable duty of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world! and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type. (January 3, 1913 letter by Theodore Roosevelt to Charles Davenport.)

 

William Duncan McKim (1855-1935), an American doctor, surgeon and organist, he was probably one of the eugenicists who went further, proposing in Heredity and Human Progress that inheritance is the cause of human ruin, and that not only the unfit should be sterilised, but that society should also kill the genetic defectives who were institutionalised as the mentally retarded, the epileptics, incurable alcoholics, incorrigible criminals, and in general ‘the very weak and very vicious’. His proposition was known as ‘eugenic murder’, something like euthanasia, a ‘soft and painless death’ for defectives, in his own words.

 
John H. Kellogg (1852-1943), American physician and brother of the Arab tycoon and horse breeder William K. Kellogg, who also supported eugenics.

We have wonderful new races of horses, cows, and pigs. Why should we not have a new and improved race of men?… The attitude of the average man toward the question of human eugenics is well illustrated by the story told of a New York merchant, who had four full-blooded dogs and two young sons. A friend, observing that he employed a tutor for his boys while he cared for his dogs himself, said to him one day:

“Mr. Smith, why do you give your personal attention to your dogs and turn your boys over to a tutor?”

“Oh,” said the merchant, “my dogs have a pedigree.” (Proceedings of the First National Conference on Race Betterment, January 1914. Battle Creek, Michigan.)


Stanley Hall (1846-1924), American psychologist and pedagogue, specialising in childhood, adolescence and youth. Influenced by Darwinian theories that came from England, Hall delved into the biological and psychological differences between men and women, as well as the issue of racial eugenics. He was the first president of the American Psychological Association, as well as Clark University. He denounced the efforts of modern societies to ‘save dying, defective and criminal patients, since helping them survive interferes with the natural selection process’.
 

Madison Grant (1865-1937), American lawyer, eugenicist and conservationist. Furious anti-communist. In addition to his well-known Nordicism, Grant played an important role in the American policies of the early 20th century, which sought to prevent racial miscegenation and immigration into the US of genetically defective people, giving priority to immigration from England, Scotland, the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and Northern Germany.

Grant very seriously warned about the danger posed by miscegenation of the white race, as this would inevitably entail a ‘third worldization’ of the US (as it is beginning to be seen today in certain neighbourhoods in the South, more exposed to the pernicious and destructive Mexican immigration).

In 1906, as secretary of the New York Zoological Society, he helped to exhibit Ota Benga—a pygmy of the Congo—with the monkeys at the Bronx Zoo. Grant, who was trying to make the United States a Nordic society, wrote The Passing of the Great Race, a book that was reissued in Germany during the Third Reich and which Hitler is supposed to say, in a letter to Grant, ‘the book is my bible’.

Grant fought ideologically against the Jewish anthropologist Franz Boas (who refused to shake hands), a supporter of the theory of cultural anthropology, while Grant advanced hereditary anthropology (traits are inherited and respond to genetics, not education or the environment). In response to the pernicious Boasian school, Grant founded in 1918, together with Davenport, the Galton Society.

A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit—in other words, Social failures—would solve the whole question in a century, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals and insane asylums. The individual himself can be nourished, educated and protected by the community during his lifetime, but the state through sterilization must see to it that his line stops with him or else future generations will be cursed with an ever increasing load of victims of misguided sentimentalism. This is a practical, merciful and inevitable solution of the whole problem and can be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased and the insane and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types. (Emphasis added, The Passing of the Great Race, 1916.)

 
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), engineer, inventor and Serbian-American intellectual.

The year 2100 will see eugenics universally established. In past ages, the law governing the survival of the fittest roughly weeded out the less desirable strains. Then man’s new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. As a result, we continue to keep alive and to breed the unfit. The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct. Several European countries and a number of states of the American Union sterilize the criminal and the insane. This is not sufficient. The trend of opinion among eugenicists is that we must make marriage more difficult. Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal. (February 9, 1935 issue of Liberty magazine.)

 
Arturo Redondo y Carranceja (1855-1923), Spanish professor of medicine in universities such as Granada, Zaragoza, Valladolid and Madrid. In 1918 he delivered to his Faculty of Medicine a speech entitled ‘Degeneration and Regeneration of our Race’. He estimated that the degenerates formed approximately sixty percent of the population, and that it was necessary to stop the multiplication of lower types in order to ‘reconstitute the race without having to go through the deadly procedures that natural selection is worth’.

What I have said about inheritance, that I will not tire of repeating, is the true cause of the horrific loss of children; and I shall abstain from entering into more details or considerations about infant mortality. Look for their origins as you like, in the background two facts are hidden: the conditions of the parents and of the moment of the conception, and the one in which the gestation is developed until its term. Infant mortality is nothing more than the inexorable fact of natural selection, which denies life to the degenerate, because only the viable lives. A bad seed, bad harvest, whatever the exquisite care of the crop. (Redondo y Carranceja, page 70.)

 

Charles Richet (1850-1935), French physiologist, Nobel Prize for Medicine of 1913. In his magnum opus, La Sélection Humaine (1919), he dedicated a chapter no less than to the elimination of the abnormal:

What makes man is intelligence. A mass of human flesh without human intelligence is nothing. There is bad living matter that is not worthy of any respect or compassion. To suppress them resolutely would be to render them a service, for they can never do anything other than cope with a miserable existence.

 

Marie Stopes (1880-1958), Scottish paleobotanist, known along with Margaret Sanger for her role in some areas of ‘female liberation’ and birth control in order to treat what she called ‘weeds invading the human garden’. As in so many other figures of this period, I see her ideological flaw in classism and non-genetic consideration. Many of these men and women were often unable to assume that a worker or a peasant could have better genetics than a capitalist. After her death, much of her fortune went to the Eugenics Society.

It is, however, neither necessary to castrate nor is it suggested by those who, like myself, would like to see the sterilization of those totally unfit for parenthood made an immediate possibility, indeed made compulsory. As Dr. Havelock Ellis stated in an article in the Eugenics Review, Vol. I, No. 3, October 1909, pp. 203-206, sterilization under proper conditions is a very different and much simpler matter and one which has no deleterious and far reaching effects on the whole system. The operation is trivial, scarcely painful, and does not debar the subject from experiencing all his normal reaction in ordinary union; it only prevents the procreation of children. (Radiant Motherhood: A Book for Those Who Are Creating the Future, 1920.)

 
Pío Baroja (1872-1956), Spanish writer of the so-called Generation of 98. Baroja had read the original sources from which the whole Nordicist current starts: Gobineau, Vacher de Lapouge and Houston Stewart Chamberlain. He endorsed the thesis according to which the greatness of Spain, which relied on the Aryan and Basque elements of the country had been losing, over the centuries, presence before the progressive contamination of Semitic and Middle Eastern (‘Mediterranean’) elements. Baroja openly advocated the resurgence of the former and repressing the latter, as a preliminary step to the rebirth of his country.
 

______ 卐 ______

 

Editor’s Note: Instead of the page and a half quote from the novel El Árbol de la Ciencia (The Tree of Knowledge) that Evropa Soberana chose, a novel by Pío Baroja that may only be of interest to Spanish speakers, I translated a 2015 post of my blog in Spanish titled ‘Answer’ to my question: Is there a Spanish or Portuguese writer of past centuries who has said that the backwardness of their nations, compared to the most Aryan nations, is due to their miscegenation with non-Aryans (the mixture initiated by the Visigoths since the 7th century)? Kurwenal, a commenter, provided relevant information on what I was looking for, which is what appears above in the section of Pío Baroja.

The collected quotations so far demonstrate that old eugenics was a mixture of pseudoscience (e.g., the identification of poverty among whites with bad genes) with science (e.g., what Grant says above in Italics or why Roosevelt prevented the migration of non-whites into the US).

Although I will finish reading Soberana’s long essay, in the next instalments of this series I’ll only add the scientific quotes. I shall omit pseudoscientific quotes even if they come from Soberana’s section on National Socialism.

Brief definition

I have been receiving some email feedback for my latest anti-psychiatric post and instead of posting this entry on Friday, as I had planned, I’m doing it today. At the beginning of the century, in another language I wrote the below conclusion of an online book:

The thought of [Alexis de] Tocqueville and [John Stuart] Mill provides the conceptual platform for understanding [Kingsley] Davis’s articles and [Michel] Foucault’s study; and it moves me to try a definition of the mental health movement that, in addition to what has been said in previous chapters [not translated for this site], takes into account their observations.

From the point of view of science, and specifically on the basis of the litmus test that distinguishes between science and pseudoscience, psychiatry, a supposed medical specialty, is not a science. The central concept in psychiatry, the entity called mental illness is not defined in biomedical terms but in political terms; and the so-called biological psychiatry has not presented its theories in a testable or falsifiable way: an unmistakable sign of pseudoscience.

From the point of view of politics and law, psychiatry is an organ of society that, from the family, regulates human behaviour. It is a paralegal institution of penalties in democracies. With drug-based technologies it controls deviant individuals: especially those who are either genuinely disturbed or have been abused by their parents. People stigmatised by psychiatry have not broken the law. Through this medical specialty, the System conceals the fact that some parents destroy the mental health of their children. In the case of the sane population, which is considerable—think of the millions of children and adolescents drugged at the initiative of their parents and the school—, the individual initiative is eliminated.

The ultimate truth about this matter is that the System has created an entire profession with the express purpose to blind the whole society to the truth discovered by dissenting psychiatrists: that some parents drive their children mad.

Published in: on March 25, 2019 at 11:36 am  Comments (5)  

Advice to victims of psych abuse

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. Below, an abridged translation of a chapter of one of the books that I wrote at the beginning of the century:
 
After the parody of the previous pages I recover my original voice.

If you are a victim of abusive parents, the ideal is that you run away before they harm you.

If you stay in your parents’ home and they want to take you to the therapist, you blunder by believing he’ll be your ally. If you need someone to talk to, do it with a friend of your entire confidence. Don’t go with someone who makes his living from what abusive parents pay him, not even to one session. Remember that society gives the therapist powers to slander you with a psych label.

In case you have already gone with a therapist never, ever take any ‘medicine’ he gives you. These legal drugs are more toxic than the illegal ones that are being sold on the street. Having a real confident outside the mental health profession is the best option.

Alas, sometimes there is no one to trust or who is willing to listen. The family is such a monolithic institution that there are many taboos to question it, and the psychiatric profession has deceived many people.

In some cities there are places for people in distress where you can get some shelter. When I lived in England, part of the college course on mental health consisted of visiting Drop-in centres. I realised that only a few of those who took shelter there were genuinely disturbed; the majority were unemployed people in Manchester. It was refreshing to see that in those centres there were no psychiatrists or other professionals, not even social workers. No one who sided society or the family directed these centres. They even offered me to work if I volunteered. It’s not a bad idea that you go to one of these shelters for people in distress.

If the city where you live lacks a Drop-in shelter, or if there are no jobs to flee from your abusive parents, or if you are suffering from a panic attack, go to the nearest library and see if they have books by Alice Miller (child abuse) or Robert Whitaker (the most readable critic of psychiatry). If not, ask for any of these books:
 

Thomas Szasz, Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s criticism of psychoanalysis and psychiatry (NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990).

The critique of language is the most radical of all critiques. This is the number one book in my list because if we don’t uproot from our vocabulary the Newspeak of psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and clinical psychologists it will be impossible to understand the victims of the family. The millenarian humanities history, biography and especially autobiography after Modrow (see below) are more than enough to understand the human mind. The new and aggressive psychiatric and psychoanalytic ideologies, and especially their language, only mystify our self-understanding.

Karl Kraus, who lived in Freud’s Vienna, was a man of good heart who perceived the dangers that the Newspeak of psychiatry and psychoanalysis represented for the underprivileged of his native city. Kraus tried to debunk it in the strongest terms in his periodical, but his admonitions fell in deaf ears:

Yes, our pitiable state is partly caused by stupidity […]. Profound stupidity carries deep conviction and cannot be bought off for any price. The greatest public menace, therefore, is the incorruptible psychiatric expert […]. The very unselfishness with which such psychiatric outrages are perpetrated suggests that they spring from pathological imbecility rather than from any other source. If only such idiocies were not destined, in each and every case, to destroy a life! (p. 135).

I would recommend reading Anti-Freud together with the appendix of 1984 where Orwell resumes ‘The principles of Newspeak’.
 

John Modrow, How to become a schizophrenic: the case against biological psychiatry (Seattle: Apollyon Press, second edition, 1996).

In spite of the fact that Modrow uses a psychiatric label on the very title, on the first page he writes mockingly:

Actually I have about much belief in the reality of ‘schizophrenia’ as I have in the reality of witchcraft or demonic possession.

This book consists of two parts: an autobiographical recount of the author’s experiences about how he lost his mind when he was young due to parental abuse, and a scientific debunking of psychiatry.

The value of Modrow’s book lies in that compared to, say, a brilliant essay by Ronald Laing about madness, Modrow explains how he lost his mind from his own subjective experience. Given the unique value autobiography has in the true study of the human psyche, Modrow’s study must be considered a paradigm to understand the victims disturbed by an all-out assault at home. Robert Baker, a professor of psychology that I met in 1994, has said that Modrow ‘is, perhaps, the unrecognized and unappreciated world’s foremost authority on this disorder [schizophrenia]’. [1]
 

Jeffrey Masson, Against therapy: emotional tyranny and the myth of psychological healing (London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997).

——————, Final analysis: the making and unmaking of a psychoanalyst (London: HarperCollins, 1991).

Everyone should know, then, that to step into an office of a psychotherapist, regardless of the latter’s persuasion, is to enter a world where great harm is possible (Against Therapy, p. 298).

The most difficult thing for a fish is to do a critique of the water.

Let’s imagine a fish in a factory-polluted waters. The only way this animal may realise that the pollution is poisoning it is to see the factory from a POV outside of the lagoon. But his aquaculture prevents it from doing so.

We are living 120 years after the first case of psychotherapy, Freud with Dora. Nowadays psychotherapy is a multibillion-dollar quack profession accepted and respected by society. Many of Freud’s ideas are now part of our culture’s folklore: repressed memories, sexual sublimation, phallic symbols, castration anxiety and more—the ‘water’ we breathe every day in our lagoon. Following the metaphor, Szasz and Masson are the amphibians that evolved, came out from the lagoon and saw the polluting factory from a privileged viewpoint.

Masson, a great fan of psychoanalysis in the past, defrocked himself from the profession because he didn’t want to play the role of an agent of the family, but of the family’s victims. He convinced me that the diverse schools of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy have not broken away from psychiatry. It’s very telling, Masson says, that no psychotherapist dares to denounce electroshock in the media. Those who still believe that psychotherapy (including psychoanalysis) and psychiatry are essentially different things would benefit from reading these books by Masson.

Many people have not realised yet that Freud was a writer of fiction. It’s incredible that Freud’s literary fiction has bamboozled so many intellectuals and sophisticated people. Someone said hyperbolically that the criminal of criminals is the philosopher. This sentence may be imputed not only on Marx but on Freud as well: the damage their followers did to the 20th century has not been fully appreciated yet.

After reading the Afterword to the second edition of Against Therapy I felt very pleased to see that Masson concludes his book advising his readers that instead of childishly searching for ‘therapy’ in a paternal figure they write their autobiographies.
 

Alvin Pam, ‘Biological psychiatry: science or pseudoscience?’ in Colin Ross and Alvin Pam Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry: blaming the body (NY: Wiley & Sons, 1995), pp. 7-84.

The most difficult thing for a fish is to do a critique of the water. But the most difficult thing of all, even more difficult than to criticise psychotherapy, is to criticize a pseudoscience that is being taught to medical students.

The psychiatrists of the 19th century had the political genius to perceive that science, and not the humanities, was going to be the paradigm of the 20th century. So they invested their ideology with a scientific robe. But as Alvin Pam says:

What I mean is much more fundamental: biological psychiatry cannot fulfill its mission properly because in its current state it has more the accoutrement of a scientific discipline than the substance. To be sure, this statement will raise skeptical eyebrows. It will be the burden of this chapter to spell out the grounds for such a broad iconoclastic assertion.

A common ‘fish’ frequently listens in his aquaculture that the gene of depression has been discovered; that a physician won the Nobel prize for his investigations on dopamine (that the psychiatrists relate with ‘schizophrenia’); that in his school Ritalin is recommended for kids who suffer from ‘attention deficit disorder’; that studies on twins have demonstrated that ‘mental illnesses’ are hereditary, etc. Since our fish is completely immersed in this water it’s impossible that it becomes aware that the water is contaminated. His critical intelligence has no basis to realise that these affirmations don’t come from scientists but from pseudo-scientists that have self-deceived themselves in order to make a profit.

Pam’s chapter originally appeared in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica and represented the ‘emergence from the water’ for a student of psychiatry who read it and became aware that in her university she had been taught a false science (pp. 241f). Pam’s paper uses the same jargon that biological psychiatrists use and it contains almost two hundred references of specialized literature. It’s ideal for medical doctors and scientists who are interested in a scholarly rebuttal of the claims of psychiatry and its ‘medical model’ of mental disorders.
 

Peter Breggin, Toxic psychiatry: why therapy, empathy and love must replace the drugs, electroshock, and biochemical theories of the ‘new psychiatry’ (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1994).

The picture I have drawn looks overwhelming, yet it is not an exaggeration. Psychiatry is a giant industry, protected by a state monopoly and promoted by a psycho-pharmaceutical complex with multi-billion-dollar power (p. 370).

Just as Loren Mosher, Breggin realized that his profession might be based on a theoretical fraud. There is nobody more authoritative to debunk a cult or a pseudoscience than he who devoted decades of his life researching its foundations.

Breggin has fought against the tide in his profession. He sides children re-victimized by his colleagues. He has performed campaigns against the revival of lobotomy, electroshock and the medication of children and the elderly with neuroleptics.

Breggin’s book is a treatise of almost five hundred readable pages for the non-specialist. In the chapters on the alliance of parents with psychiatrists, Breggin denounces psychiatric labels and the drugs that are being prescribed to millions of children and adolescents—yes, millions of them [2]—at the initiative of psychiatrists hired by the parents.

Anyone who has been deceived by the media and believes that depression or even a severe mental disorder is of biological nature, or that it may be treated medically, must read Breggin’s book, especially if he is taking psychiatric drugs.

Breggin’s chapter on electroshock shocks the reader: it shows the truly inquisitorial methods of the psychiatric profession. It’s also shocking the chapter on the alliance of psychiatry with the medical schools in the universities; the insurance and the drug companies; the media, some government institutions and associations of parents: everyone except the ‘patient’ identified by all of them.

Since 1971 Breggin is director of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. Originally the centre was founded to oppose the revival of lobotomy, and today it opposes the inclination in our culture to diagnose and medicate children and adolescents. Since 1999 the centre publishes a journal critical of bio-reductionist theories. [3]
 

Thomas Szasz, The manufacture of madness: a comparative study of the Inquisition and the mental health movement (NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997).

During the past two decades I have devoted much work and many words to exposing the scientific stupidity, the philosophical folly, and the moral monstrosity of this official psychiatric posture. [4]

Aristotle said that to obtain a truly profound knowledge about something it’s necessary to know its history. This scholarly treatise showed me what is psychiatry and why psychiatrists do what they have been doing in the last three centuries. In this work Szasz examines the great similarities between the Inquisition and psychiatry, including present-day psychiatry. Without the Inquisition there can be no ‘witches’. Likewise, without the Psychiatric Institution there can be no ‘schizophrenics’. In other words, psychiatrists manufacture madness.

Ignoring this work reminds me of the Russian who was ignorant of The Gulag Archipelago before the fall of the Berlin wall. Trying to understand the mental health movement without reading Szasz is like trying to understand Stalin’s Russia without reading Solzhenitsyn.

___________

Notes

[1] Mind games (op. cit.), p. 223.

[2] Your drug may be your problem (op. cit.), p. 16.

[3] Information about the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology can be obtained in the website (http://www.icspp.org) or writing to ICSPP, 4628 Chestnut Street, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA.

[4] Schizophrenia (op. cit.), p. 44.

______ 卐 ______

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Loren Mosher’s letter

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. Below, an abridged translation of a chapter of one of the books that I wrote in 2000 (I added the triple parentheses this year):
 

A student-led panel discussion sponsored by NAMI

In NAMI’s website I saw the photo of Justin, a four-year-old boy with a suppliant expression on his face. The website says:

Meet Justin—a child with a mental illness.

Justin was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which made it difficult for him to succeed in school. Today medication helps Justin to attend classes with his peers and avoid the uncontrollable behaviors he previously experienced. [1]

At the end of “Perpetrators and psychiatrists: an obscene alliance” I had mentioned an organization of family parents which calls itself National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Since this book deals with parents and psychiatrists, it is pertinent to delve a little deeper into this organisation of parents that, with the help of psychiatrists, has labelled and medicated thousands of children and adolescents during family conflicts. In recent times NAMI has gained such power in American society that I must speak out about what it is doing to little boys like Justin, even though I have to stomach the largest string of psychiatric lies and Newspeak propaganda that I know.

Following next I quote some passages from NAMI’s web site as I found it on the internet in May 2000. Let us read with attention NAMI’s lies. The following quotation is from NAMI’s book reviews, It’s Nobody’s Fault by (((Harold Koplewicz))), a bioreductionist psychiatrist of children and teenagers in a medical center of New York:

It’s Nobody’s Fault could not have been written 25 years ago.

It reflects the monumental change that has taken place in understanding all mental illnesses—that they are brain disorders, disturbances in brain chemistry and nobody’s fault. The work deals with serious brain disorders in children and adolescents […].

Koplewicz is “must reading” for parents who feel guilty and remorse about the brain disorder of a child. [2]

The truth is that NAMI does not approach genuine brain diseases such as epilepsy, the stroke or brain cysticercosis, but of those invented by psychiatrists. NAMI’s list includes: “schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder [the label on little Justin] and severe anxiety disorders”[3]— “disorders” similar to drapetomania, dyasthesia Aethiopica, nymphomania, kleptomania and moral insanity to the psychiatric mind of other times.

In “Things you should know: NAMI facts”, this organization states who are the target of these labels: “Most often, severe mental illnesses are diagnosed in young people between the ages of 16-25”.[4] More extraordinary is to learn of the political goals of NAMI on these youngsters:

GOAL: NAMI will be recognized as the primary source for information and helpful referral on all aspects of mental illness.

GOAL: The general public will understand that mental illnesses are non-fault, biologically based, treatable, and may eventually be curable. [5]

Another goal of NAMI is to increase its membership “to at least one million families by the year 2000”.[6] Most significant of the folie à deux between these families and NAMI can be seen in a 1998-1999 NAMI poll to 900 parents. It showed that more than half of the polled parents said their GPs didn’t recognise the mental diseases that the polled parents believed to see in their offspring. [7]

In other words, according to NAMI the parents, not the medical doctors, are the ones to diagnose biomedical diseases. This is what Jeffrey Masson said above about the “identified” child by his parents: that a psychiatrist implied that parents did not err in home diagnoses and even quoted scholarly psychiatric journals to support his claim. Similarly, NAMI uses the word “identifying” alluding children.[8] NAMI’s blindness is such that even when they have evidence from physicians that home conflicts can disturb emotionally a child, they proclaim the biological cause of the disturbance:

Parents [of said poll] perceived that most professionals and services had not kept current with the latest research or treatment information and used outdated theories and approaches, including blaming families for their child’s disorder.

“I took my son to a psychiatrist who said if we, parents, stopped fighting with each other, my son would be fine. It was our own fault”. [9]

NAMI quotes these words as proof that the physician had not subscribed the latest fashion of biological reductionism, discarding the possibility that this fighting between mom and dad could affect the emotional state of the child. Other parents stated:

“The biggest issue we faced during the time our daughter began to manifest problems (when she was five years old) was to convince the ‘professionals’ that she did indeed have a disease that was biologically based and not caused by alleged child abuse [or] bad parenting”. [10]

Is there another field beside the psychiatric where an organisation dares to air in every direction that the parents know more of biomedical symptoms than medical doctors?

In addition to these pediatricians it is revealing that some people who know these polled parents are under the impression that the parents might have something to do with their children’s mental state. This is inferred from the same information in the NAMI poll. To the statement “I often feel that others blame me for my child’s condition”, 29 percent of the polled marked “Strongly agree”, 21 percent “Agree” and 20 percent “Partially agree”. That is, 70 percent of those who actually know these parents may suspect a parental etiology of the problem. However, nothing more annoys NAMI that “the injustice of outright parent-blaming”. [11]

NAMI claims that “as many as 8 to 10 percent of all Americans suffer from severe mental illness, and as many as 1 in 5 families are affected”.[12] NAMI also claims that mental illnesses “affect about 20 percent of children and adolescents”[13] and that “an estimated 7.5 million children [in America], 12 percent of all children under age 18, have mental disorders”.[14] It is amusing to observe that this last figure contradicts the quoted before. Laurie Flynn, NAMI’s director, claims that “two-plus million Americans suffering from schizophrenia today receive substandard care”.[15]

As some critics have pointed out, psychiatrists, and now this organisation of “concerned” family parents not only invent diseases: they invent epidemics too.

Incredibly, an organisation that sees epidemics has started to influence American politics. NAMI has carried out successful campaigns in several states of the United States, with the support of local judges and social workers, to force children to take drugs against their will and without the need to commit them in the hospital. The New York Times estimates that in the year 2000 more than 4,000 outpatients in New York state will be given psychiatric drugs against their will due to NAMI and the new law.[16]

How is it possible that NAMI has obtained such power and influence? According to the periodical Mother Jones, from 1996 to 1999 eighteen drug firms donated more than ten million dollars to NAMI: Janssen ($2.08 m), Novartis ($1.87 m), Pfizer ($1.3 m), Abbot Labs ($1.24 m), Wyeth-Ayerst ($658,000), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($613,000) and Eli Lilly & Co., which among other drugs manufactures Prozac ($2.87 m).[17] This is evidence of the obscene alliance between abusive parents, psychiatrists and the forces of the free market.

The existence of organisations such as NAMI exhibits psychiatry as what it has always been: a fraudulent profession composed by mercenary pseudo-scientists that always plead for the interests of parents. NAMI’s goals (“The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness” says its logotype) of controlling, stigmatise and medicate their rebellious children are so open that I must continue to quote them:

NAMI’s Policy Goals: An increase in federal funding for research in House and Senate appropriation bills—emphasizing / targeting children […].

Extensive and meaningful involvement of psychiatrists trained in child and adolescent psychiatry in the diagnosing and treatment—including residential treatment [involuntary hospitalisation] […].

To identify at least three federal government policy barriers which obstruct treatment of childhood serious mental illness. Then to advocate appropriate federal Congressional and Administration policies responding to such barriers.[18]

The lie NAMI repeats the most, that even the editors of the DSM would be embarrassed to iterate so many times, is that these children have “biological brain disorders”, for instance when NAMI advocates medication against their will.[19] This strongly reminds me what Solzhenitsyn observed: that in Stalin’s age there was no official communication in the Russian press that didn’t lie in some way about a propaganda statistic or social affair.[20] But let’s continue to listen to the Americans:

NAMI believes that children and adolescents with brain disorders have the right to thrive in nurturing environments, that all children and adolescents with brain disorders deserve to have early diagnoses with appropriate treatments.[21]

Orwell could not have said it better in the black-white Newspeak of the Ministry of Love. If NAMI manages to accomplish its political goals, the image that comes to my mind is similar to one of 1984: a parent in the future stepping on with both feet the child’s face and looking down in the name of his nurture, diagnosis and treatment.

I would like to annotate this essay on the nature of evil in mankind, in which I’ve already included many quotations, with two more quotations. Orwell wrote:

Twelve voices were shouting and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. [22]

Tom Szasz quoted this passage of Animal Farm in one of his books because he fears that with time the Soviet Communist State and the American Therapeutic State could be undistinguishable. The other quotation is a letter of resignation of the renowned psychiatrist Loren Mosher. Mosher was the chief of the Center for Studies of Schizophrenia in the National Institute of Mental Health (1968-1980). He wrote the following letter to the president of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Rodrigo Muñoz:

December 4, 1998

Dear Rod:

After nearly three decades as a member it is with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I submit this letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association. The major reason for this action is my belief that I am actually resigning from the American Psychopharmacological Association. Luckily, the organization’s true identity requires no change in the acronym […].

This is not a group for me. At this point in history, psychiatry has been almost completely bought out by the drug companies. The APA could not continue without the pharmaceutical company support […].

No longer do we seek to understand whole persons in their social contexts, rather we are there to realign our patients’ neurotransmitters. The problem is that it is very difficult to have a relationship with a neurotransmitter whatever its configuration.

So, our organization provides a rationale, by its neurobiological tunnel vision, for keeping our distance from the molecule conglomerates we have come to define as patients […]. It saddens me that after 35 years as a psychiatrist I look forward to being dissociated from such an organization. In no way does it represents my interests. It is not within my capacities to buy into the current biomedical-reductionistic model heralded by the psychiatric leadership as once again marrying us to somatic medicine. This is a matter of fashion, politics and, like the pharmaceutical house connection, money.

In addition, APA has entered into an unholy alliance with NAMI (I don’t remember the members being asked if they supported such an organization) […] the two organizations have adopted similar public belief systems about the nature of madness. While professing itself the champion of their clients the APA is supporting non-clients, the parents, in their wishes to be in control, via legally enforced dependency, of their mad / bad offspring. NAMI, with tacit APA approval, has set out a pro-neuroleptic drug and easy commitment-institutionalization agenda that violates the civil rights of their offspring. For the most part we stand by and allow this fascistic agenda to move forward […].

The shortsightedness of this marriage of convenience between APA, NAMI and the drug companies (who gleefully support both groups because of their shared pro-drug stance) is an abomination. I want no part of a psychiatry of oppression and social control […].

Finally, why must the APA pretend to know more than it does? DSM IV is a fabrication upon which psychiatry seeks acceptance by medicine in general. Insiders know it is more a political than a scientific document […]. The issue is what do the categories tell us? Do they in fact accurately represent the person with a problem? They don’t, and can’t, because there are no external validating criteria for psychiatric diagnoses. There is neither a blood test nor specific anatomic lesions for any major psychiatric disorder [emphasis added]. So where are we? APA as an organization has implicitly (sometimes explicitly as well) bought into a theoretical hoax […].

We seem to have forgotten a basic principle: the need to be patient / consumer satisfaction oriented. I always remember Manfred Bleuler’s wisdom: “Loren, you must never forget that you are your patient’s employee”. In the end they will determine whether or not psychiatry survives in the service marketplace.

Sincerely,

Loren R. Mosher, M.D.

This confession of an apostate of psychiatry shows that there are good people everywhere, even in that profession. Unfortunately, they are not the majority.

__________

[1] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[2] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[3] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[4] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[12] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[13] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[14] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[15] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[16] The New York Times (8 April 1999).

[17] I obtained this information thanks to a web site critical of psychiatry. (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[18] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[19] See for example “NAMI’s Policy on involuntary commitment”. (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[20] The Gulag Archipelago (op. cit.), pp. 325f.

[21] (In 2019 this page is no longer available.)

[22] Thomas Szasz’s quotation are the last words of Orwell’s Animal Farm. In The Therapeutic State (op. cit.) the citation appears on page 237, in a chapter devoted to comparing Soviet with American psychiatry, with detriment to the latter. The image of the feet on the face as a symbol of soulless oppression appears in what O’Brien said to Winston in the Ministry of Love (Nineteen Eighty-Four, op. cit., p. 211).

______ 卐 ______

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Neuroleptics – psychiatrist Peter Breggin

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


The profession originated during the industrial revolution as a method of bypassing legal restraints on the incarceration of homeless street people. State mental hospitals, within which the profession originated, were lockups for the poor […].

By the 1930s these giant lockups, which shoved the problem of poverty under the institutional rug, had become too large and unmanageable. Lobotomy and various shock “therapies” were developed for subduing the inmates. In the 1950s, drugs were developed that induce chemical lobotomies. [1]

In addition to eliminating bibliographic references, in the following paragraphs the quotation marks on the word “schizophrenia” are mine. And just as I did with Arieti’s quotations, to avoid psychiatric Newspeak I took liberties to replace other mentions of that word with the word “insanity”, placing brackets on it:

The neuroleptic drugs have gradually become promoted as agents with a specific “antipsychotic” effect on “schizophrenic” symptoms. Meanwhile, psychosocial approaches have fallen into disrepute among many psychiatrists. Patients have been instructed to remain on neuroleptics for a lifetime and told that it was safe to do so. The public was told that the “miracle” drugs had emptied the hospitals and returned millions of patients to normal lives.

The reality. In 1973, psychiatrist George Crane gained the attention of the medical community by disclosing that many, and perhaps most, long-term neuroleptic patients were developing a largely irreversible, untreatable neurological disorder, tardive dyskinesia. The disease, even its mild form, is often disfiguring, with involuntary movements of the face, mouth or tongue. Frequently, the patients grimace in a manner that makes them look “crazy”, undermining their credibility with other people. In more severe cases, patients become disabled by twitches, spasms, and other abnormal movements of any muscle groups, including those of the neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, and hands and feet. The muscles of respiration and speech can also be impaired. In the worst cases, patients trash about continually.

The rates of tardive dyskinesia are astronomical. The latest estimate from the American Psychiatric Association indicates a rate for all patients of five percent per year, so that 15 percent of patients develop tardive dyskinesia within only three years […].

There are no accurate surveys of the total number of patients afflicted with tardive dyskinesia. There are probably a million or more tardive dyskinesia patients in the United States today, and tens of millions have been afflicted throughout the world since the inception of neuroleptic treatment. Despite this tragic situation, psychiatrists too often fail to give proper warning to patients and their families. [And when TD appears] often psychiatrists fail to notice that their patients are suffering from tardive dyskinesia, even when the symptoms are flagrant.

In 1983 I published the first in-depth analysis of the vulnerability of children to a particularly virulent form of tardive dyskinesia that attacks the muscles of the trunk, making it difficult for them to stand or walk. This is now an established fact. In the same medical book, I offered the first detailed documentation showing that many or most tardive dyskinesia patients also show signs of dementia—an irreversible loss of higher brain and mental function. Indeed, it was inevitable that these losses would occur. The basal ganglia, which are afflicted in tardive dyskinesia, are richly interconnected with the higher centers of the brain, so that their dysfunction almost inevitably leads to disturbances in cognitive processes. Since my observations, a multitude of studies have confirmed that long-term neuroleptic use is associated with both cognitive deterioration and atrophy of the brain […].

Shocking as it may seem, this brief review can only scratch the surface of neurological disorders associated with these drugs, let alone the vast number of other potentially serious side effects. For example, in a small percentage of patients the neuroleptic reaction goes out of control, producing neuroleptic malignant syndrome. The disorder is indistinguishable from an acute inflammation of the brain comparable to lethargic encephalitis and can be fatal.

Given that these are exceedingly dangerous drugs, what about their advantages? How do they “work”? It is well known that these drugs suppress dopamine neurotransmission in the brain, directly impairing the function of the basal ganglia and the emotion-regulating limbic system and frontal lobes and indirectly impairing the reticular activating system as well. The overall impact is a chemical lobotomy—literally so, since frontal lobe function is suppressed. The patient becomes de-energized or de-enervated. Will or volition is crushed, and passivity and docility are induced. The patient complains less and becomes more manageable. Despite the claims for symptom cure, multiple clinical studies document a non-specific emotional flattening or blunting effect.

This cannot but remind me Giovanna’s already quoted words to me and Luisa about her group-therapy mate: “Claudia is very sluggish”: another of Amara’s victims. [Note of 2019: the anecdote appears in another chapter of my book in Spanish. All of them were white girls by the way, that I met in 1976.]

There is no significant body of research to prove that neuroleptics have any specific effect on psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. To the contrary, these remain rather resistant to the drugs. The neuroleptics mainly suppress aggression, rebelliousness, and spontaneous activity in general. This is why they are effective whenever and wherever social control is at a premium, such as in a mental hospital, nursing homes, prisons, institutions for the persons with developmental disabilities, children’s facilities and public clinics, as well as in Russian and Cuban psychiatric political prisons. Their widespread use for social control in such a wide variety of people and institutions makes the claim that they are specific for “schizophrenia” ridiculous. (They are even used in veterinary medicine to bend or subdue the will of animals. When one of our dogs was given a neuroleptic for car sickness, our daughter observed, “He’s behaving himself for the first time in his life”.)

The fact that neuroleptics are used to tame animals discredits so completely the theory that these drugs have a specific “antipsychotic” effect that these veterinarian data are withheld for the young students of medicine and psychiatry.[2]

That is a very important piece of info. Breggin continues:

But isn’t [insanity] a biochemical and genetic disease? In reality, there’s no convincing evidence that [insanity] is a biochemical disorder. While there are a host of conjectures about biochemical imbalances

These conjectures refer precisely to the “negative chemical imbalances” that, with a potent neuroleptic, Amara wanted to “remove” from Claudia’s body without any physical proof of their existence.

the only ones we know of in the brains of mental patients are those produced by the drugs. Similarly, no substantial evidence exists for a genetic basis of “schizophrenia”. The frequently cited Scandinavian genetic studies actually confirm an environmental factor while disproving a genetic one. Such conclusions may seem incredible to readers who have been bombarded with psychiatric propaganda, and I can only hope they will personally review the literature and read Toxic Psychiatry [see “Suggested readings” at the end of this book] for review and analysis. But even if [insanity] were a brain disease, it would not make sense to add further damage and dysfunction by administering neuroleptics.

If the neuroleptics are so dangerous and have such limited usefulness, and if psychosocial approaches are relatively effective, why is the profession so devoted to the drugs? The answer lies in maintaining psychiatric power, prestige, and income. What mainly distinguishes psychiatrists from other mental health professionals, and of course from non-professionals, is their ability to prescribe drugs. To compete against other mental health professions, psychiatry has wed itself to the medical model, including biological and genetic explanations, and physical treatments. It has no choice: anything else would be professional suicide […].

After falling behind economically in competition with psychosocial approaches, psychiatry formed what the American Psychiatric Association now admits is a “partnership” with the drug companies. Organized psychiatry has become wholly dependent for financial support on this unholy collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. To deny the effectiveness of drugs or to admit their dangerousness would result in huge economic loss on every level from the individual psychiatrist who makes his or her living prescribing medication, to the American Psychiatric Association which thrives on drug companies largesse.

If neuroleptics were used to treat anyone other than mental patients, they would have been banned a long time ago. If their use wasn’t supported by powerful interest groups, such as the pharmaceutical industry and organized psychiatry, they would be rarely used at all. Meanwhile, the neuroleptics have produced the worst epidemic of neurological disease in history. At least, their use should be severely curtailed. [3]

In 1995 I came across Claudia with her parents in the Carrillo Gil Museum in Mexico City. Already in her thirties she told me she was studying the Open High School—at this time of day.

Sometimes I wonder how many more youngsters Amara has destroyed. Cases like Claudia’s, and according to Breggin many more around the world—about 250 to 300 million persons have been given neuroleptics [4]—, show why Jeffrey Masson wants a trial for every psychiatrist who has ruined a life. [5]

___________

[1] Peter Breggin, Beyond conflict (op. cit.), p. 150.

[2] Toxic psychiatry (op. cit.), p. 58.

[3] This article, “Should the use of neuroleptics be severely limited?”, was originally published in Stuart Kirk and Susan Einbinder (eds.) Controversial issues in mental health (Allyn & Bacon, 1993), and can be read uncut in the author’s website (www.breggin.com/neuroleptics).

[4] Toxic psychiatry (op. cit.), p. 90.

[5] Masson said this in the talk show Geraldo of 30 November 1990.

______ 卐 ______

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‘Patients are only riffraff’—Freud


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

 

Many psychiatric survivors have written manuscripts about their experiences but are rarely successful in getting their books published.

—Al Siebert [1]

Being silent is itself an indication of how we have been oppressed and ignored. The forces that keep us silent and invisible are most vulnerable to our speaking out.

—Harvey Jackins [2]

It is biography, and especially autobiography, the royal road to the conscious and unconscious, that continent barely explored; not Freud’s system. But to be fair with Freud, and very independently that as a physician of the soul he had been soulless, I must recognise that the man made a couple of good points.

In the Epistle for instance, I used a Freudian concept, the idea of abba (dad-God) in Jesus. Moreover, Freud introduced the fascinating notion of the unconscious and perceived that dreams meant something. (This doesn’t mean that his libidinous interpretation was accurate.) In this very indictment of psychiatry, although not directly, I based my ideas on a Freudian concept. According to John Modrow, the Sullivan-Modrow model of panic leading to a psychotic breakdown was based on Freud’s principle of self-delusion.

I confess I have scarcely read Freud. However, in my opinion (and Modrow’s) his fundamental discovery was that ordinary people continually distort reality in order to boost their self-esteem. This self-delusion is completely involuntary and inevitable. The objective is always to boost the self-esteem or self-image that an individual has of himself. According to Modrow, from this principle Harry Sullivan deduces that the most dangerous thing for mental health is an assault to the self-image. I call this an ‘assault to the Self’, and from Freud’s principle of self-delusion I would deduce that after our ‘I’ is assaulted, all sort of delusions crop up as defense mechanisms, such as religious and ideological delusions (psychoanalysis included!).

I recognise these lights inspired by Freud. But Freud also created a lucrative profession on the basis of human suffering, and that is precisely a fraud based on self-delusion.

Sándor Ferenczi, one of his closest disciples—so close to Freud that in 1909 Ferenczi, Freud and Jung vacationed together to America—, became aware of the fraud. I will only quote three lines of an intimate diary that Ferenczi wrote, a diary he devoted to the serious doubts he had about psychoanalysis. In a private conversation of Ferenczi with Freud, the latter:

said that patients are only riffraff [Die Patienten sind ein Gesindel]. The only thing patients were good for is to help the analyst make a living and to provide material for theory. It is clear we cannot help them. [3]

By some cruelty of fate Ferenczi died at fifty-nine (a little earlier for his diary reflections to crystallize to be published), disillusioned by a dispute with Freud and his colleagues about the veracity of incest in the lives of his female patients (Freud, who sided the Vienna establishment, always denied that actual incest took place).

According to Jeffrey Masson, Jung’s dissidence was not a threat to the fundamentals of psychoanalysis. But Ferenczi’s was.[4] Jung merely exchanged Freud’s pan-sexual meta-narrative by his own mystic-religious one but Jungian analysis, as the Freudian, claim to help people understand themselves and enlighten them with their problems. Ferenczi, on the other hand, knew that these problems could not be solved with so-called psychoanalysis. Freud also knew it (‘It is clear we cannot help them’), and could have confessed it to the world.

He didn’t: that could have aborted the birth of a lucrative profession.

Besides the moral limitations of the founder, this side of psychoanalysis must be exposed. Tom Szasz’s view is that both psychiatry and psychoanalysis are a kind of Machiavellian rhetoric; I would say, the rhetoric of blaming the victim. An inquisitorial pseudoscience, psychiatry, blames the body of the victim. Psychoanalysis, a system of inspired invectives (Szasz’s words), blames the mind. These pseudosciences are two sides of the same coin. They sprang from the same sources, but Freud had great intellectual powers and immense literary gifts. However, he had little heart toward human suffering, as we saw in a previous chapter.

Psychotherapists, far from helping those who suffer, make a profit on the basis of that suffering. There are more than two hundred schools of psychotherapy in the United States and fifteen million Americans that consult psychotherapists. The fee for a fifty-minute consultation with an “analyst” is something above the hundred dollars. Psychotherapy is a multibillion-dollar business, and its popularity continues in Spain, Italy and Latin America.

Freud was the father of the mystification to see the problems of those who asked for help as ‘neurosis’. Actually they are familiar, economic, social and political problems. Psychotherapists have invented a whole Newspeak. They redefine these problems as ‘mental problems’ of ‘patients’, otherwise they could not justify their profession and income. The ultimate truth is that anyone who claims to sell psychic solutions to environmental problems has entered, consciously or not, the reign of fraud. Unless someone sponsors economically a person suffering from tribulations, very few will be capable of helping him. But no therapist sponsors his clients: in that profession money flows one-way only.

It is worth saying that, since a quack is the one who earns money pretending to be a physician, the writer Vladimir Nabokov used to call Freud ‘the Vienna quack’. I would add that Freud’s legacy has some analogy to Marx’s. Both proposed totalizing meta-narratives that bamboozled a good part of the Western intelligentsia: one about political economy, the other about the politics of the psyche. Now, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Marxism agonizes but psychoanalysis lives. It is my hope that the 21st century witnesses more critics of analysis. Although I recognise the few lights Freud showed us—Marx showed us a few lights too—, the quackery of his legacy must be exposed. Freud’s epigones are a parasitic class of which civil society must free itself from.
 
Scholarly quackery

That not only psychoanalysts but biological psychiatrists behave as quacks can be seen in the case of one of the most influential psychiatric geneticists in our times. David Rosenthal edited The Genain quadruplets, a book about four women, identical twins, and family dynamics.

The father of the Genain family was an alcoholic that beat his wife and daughters, whom he restricted contact with the outside world. According to his wife, he was ‘always so angry and hateful’ and once he threatened to murder her when she wanted to leave home. The father played sexually with one of his daughters, but when he realised that the teenagers masturbated he send them to an unscrupulous surgeon who mutilated their genitals. The mother abused the girls too. On one occasion she banged two of the girls’ heads together to stop them crying. When the husband wanted to prevent the masturbation, she participated in the use of acid in her genitals. This occurred before she approved the initiative to mutilate them.

The four daughters got mad.

The Genain quadruplets is a treatise for biological psychiatrists, saturated with scholarly references of genetic studies. One could expect that, confronted with such a story, the contributing authors exposed the case as proof that some parents drive their offspring mad.

They did the opposite. Rosenthal believes his data is proof of a genetic aetiology of the madness of the daughters. The book is a study about hereditary and environmental factors in the family, but Rosenthal, an apologist of the medical model of mental disorders, stresses the hereditary factor. Genes turned out to be responsible for the ‘schizophrenia’ of these poor women. The very name ‘Genain’ is a pseudonym invented by Rosenthal, deriving it from the Greek words ‘dire birth’ or ‘dreadful gene’.

The psychiatrist Peter Breggin, author of a dozen books critical of his profession, read The Genain quadruplets and discovered that throughout the book, hidden in the irrelevant scholastic material, information existed about the happenings in the family:

The book presents one of the most tragic chronicles of child abuse recorded anywhere. Yet at no time is the abuse discussed as such. In no place in the book is it summarized. The data is strewn throughout the six hundred pages in the reports of the various professionals. Much of it is contained in the footnotes. The synopsis I have provided was put together from these observations. [5]

Breggin concludes that the omission to talk plainly about what really happened in that family constitutes intellectual complicity with the parents.

If one of the most renowned psychiatric geneticists ignores this level of abuse and inverts the information, blaming the genes of the victims, it is not surprising that ordinary psychiatrists ignore the anguished testimony of their patients in relatively lesser cases of abuse.

In the 1980s an American series of scientific programs was televised under the title The Brain. One of the programs approached the subject of madness. It did not pass the microphone to any professional of the trauma model of mental disorders. But the program passed the mic to two biological psychiatrists who have devoted their professional lives to “demonstrate” the biomedical foundation of madness. Let’s listen to Daniel Weinberger:

At the turn of the [20th] century, every neuroscientist that was interested in schizophrenia was convinced [emphasis in Weinberger’s voice] that this is a brain disorder. There was no skepticism about that. It was only as that sort of stagnate [that] people really couldn’t make much of the findings they had through the 19th century that people begin to raise this notion of psychogenesis that somehow either bad mothering causes schizophrenia, or that bad neighborhoods [a strawman: the trauma model doesn’t claim that] causes schizophrenia, or drugs [same strawman] or some peculiar school experience [same strawman] or some major psychic trauma of some kind—for which there’s absolutely no scientific evidence, whatsoever! [great emphasis in Weinberger’s voice with a parallel movement of his hand on the table].[6]

In the same program Fuller Torrey, after talking at length about the Vienna quack Freud and his disciples, stated:

What the psychoanalysts said about schizophrenia is that it is caused by early childhood experiences. [False: analysts make no such a claim.] There is no evidence whatsoever for this! And in fact all of the research evidence today is diametrically opposed; it is exactly on the opposite side.[7] [Note of 2019: In fact, it’s the bio shrinks who lack scientific evidence. See: here.]

At the moment of the filming the program, Weinberger was a young professional who spoke with charisma. How could his emotional voice have impacted the millions of TV viewers (The Brain was televised in several countries)?

In the same program the case was presented of a very disturbed adolescent who spoke before the cameras and stated that his problem was originated in the rape during his Kindergarten years. But just as Rosenthal did in his treatise of the Genain girls, Weinberger and Torrey did not pay attention to his anguished testimony.

Like many other renowned psychiatrists, Weinberger and Torrey publish scholarly quack papers in the American Journal of Psychiatry. What is scholarly quackery? Let’s taste a flavour of it: ‘Evidence of dysfunction of a prefrontal-limbic network in schizophrenia. A magnetic resonance imaging and regional cerebral blood flows study of discordant monozygotic twins’.[8]

The journal that Breggin publishes has rebutted this and other quack, though scholarly, papers by Weinberger and Torrey. But as Colin Ross revealed to me when I visited him in Dallas, the psychiatric community kept silence about his book Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry, which also includes rebuttals. [9]

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[1] Flier published by the Kenneth Donaldson Archives for the Autobiographies of Psychiatric Survivors, Al Siebert, executive director.

[2] Harvey Jackins, What is wrong with the ‘mental health’ system and what can be done about it: a draft policy prepared for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities (Rational Island Publishers, 1991), p. 21.

[3] Against therapy (op. cit.), p. 129.

[4] The revelations of Ferenczi’s diary and Masson’s observations appear in a whole chapter of Against therapy.

[5] Toxic psychiatry (op. cit.), p. 106.

[6] The brain, episode 7, ‘Madness’ (1984).

[7] Ibid.

[8] D.R. Weinberger, K.F. Berman, R. Suddath and E.F. Torrey in American Journal of Psychiatry, 1992, 149, pp. 890-97.

[9] Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry (op. cit.), pp. 56, 60 & 174f.

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Published in: on January 18, 2019 at 12:01 am  Comments (5)