‘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]


[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)  

The hammer of the witches

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:


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It is not that witches and mental patients are alike; on the contrary, it is because inquisitors and psychiatrists are alike that they treat their victims similarly.

Tom Szasz [1]

I have asked why human beings are capable of committing atrocities and observed that, if in my epistle I approached the subject of what could have happened in the minds of my parents, I had yet to analyse psychiatrists and psychoanalysts (keeping in mind that many analysts are also psychiatrists).

Insofar, I think, the riddle has been solved: it is the self-righteousness of some ideologues, and the folly of their followers, what is behind the crimes of the most murderous century in history. Not only believing in a (((Trotsky))) convinced that terror is good for Russia is folly: it is folly too to believe in religious-political leaders such as Eugen Bleuler and the other founders of a criminal organisation known as ‘psychiatry’. Both the atrocities committed during the Red Terror and those committed in the West have been perpetrated by ideologues convinced of their own rectitude and backed by society. Just remember how The Machine hammered that helpless patient labelled ‘catatonic’—that is: a witch—and how the Bucks County District Attorney in Pennsylvania approved the torture.

I would like to quote a passage written down by a client after visiting the offices of a renowned psychiatrist who is also a university professor:

He said he ‘did not have the powers to take the schizophrenogenic parent by the ear and scold him’. Thus he treats ‘the most affected family link’ even though it was a societal problem: last family link – parents – grandparents – all society. That Laing used to say ‘We aren’t well because of others’ and that, ‘If it weren’t for others, we wouldn’t be unwell’. But an Italian psychiatrist had told him, ‘Only the last link is to be treated’. For this reason, and since it is not possible the little ear thing, ‘Treatment is performed on the most affected link alone’ [emphasis in the original]. This is why he prescribes antipsychotics to them.

The stupidity, monstrosity and immorality of this position is barely conceivable. If her father rapes Dora, then the orthodox psychiatrist won’t take that powerful family figure by the ear. Instead, he ‘treats’ the last link, the victim! And he has no doubt to administer dangerous drugs not to the rapist, but to the victim! After all, the one who pays is the rapist, right?

Let us compare the shrink’s philosophy with any crime. What would happen in a world where rapists, assassins and assailants remain unpunished whereas their victims went directly to jail? What would be of the world? This is the Wonderland Logic where a caste of pseudo-scientists lives in our societies to hammer not the criminal, but his witch.

This is the nature of evil. What psychiatrists do in cases of abusive families is to officially approve the behaviour of the perpetrators. For the physician of Julie La Roche, for Freud with Dora, for the president of the hospital where Jeffrey Masson studied—that great rhetorician who spoke in a booming voice about a helpless eight-year-old boy—, parents are untouchable. All action is taken against the child, against Dora, against the ‘last link’ according to the university professor.

We have seen that a father can be more devastating than a Mengele (in Colin Ross’ clinic I saw adult women of high social standing so devastated that they talked about ‘mom’ as David Helfgott talked about his ‘dad’). We have seen that according to John Modrow his pre-psychotic panic was the most appalling and devastating experience that any person can undergo; and that the re-victimisation of a victim leads to the sensation of the betrayal of the universe, and often to madness.

Sometimes the psychiatrist sees a glimpse of the truth and even quotes one of his anti-psychiatric foes (‘We aren’t well because of others; if it weren’t for others, we wouldn’t be unwell’). But they have those others as untouchable! And how will they touch them if they are precisely the source of income of the psychiatrist?

Thus, in this Wonderland where everything is inverted, the parents—the real clients of the psychiatrist—are always right. They are the sole criterion to ‘identify’ the child. Physicians cannot take by the ear the powerful industrialist who seduced Dora. Let us treat, instead, the last link. Let us incarcerate her in false hospitals or tame them her down with handicapping drugs. That is not only what the above-quoted professor taught but also what the departments of psychiatry teach (‘When a child manifests gross pathology…’). If such re-victimisations produce panic, even stronger drugs are administered!

Moreover, there are laws that allow the Doras to be treated against their will. They are confined in Ministries of Love where electroshock and lobotomy are practiced. For this surgical ‘treatment’ they gave the Nobel Prize to an inquisitor in 1946, and since that date to 1965 no less than fifty thousand lobotomies were performed in the United States alone, and at the moment of writing these lines continue to be performed.[2]

As we have seen, perfectly healthy brains are the ones that get a lobotomy, electroshock or the neuroleptic. This is how this malleus maleficarum, this hammer of the witches, culminates with the soul murder of a Dora.

That, my dear readers, is evil.

Each mind is a whole world inside. Each person is the centre of his or her own universe. A betrayed and re-victimised universe suffers a demolishing panic like the girl who witnessed her little sister be hammered in the most bestial manner by a death-dealer such as that of Kaunas. Then she saw the psychiatrist play the accordion on the inert body and pool of blood. On this survivor has befallen the whole madhouse of a dysfunctional society.


[1] The manufacture of madness (op.cit.), p. 130.

[2] ‘A few physicians still advocate psychosurgery for severe emotional problems, and in some states of the US special boards have been set up to review all such operations’ (Lobotomy, Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000).

A psychiatrist wrote in a web page that I visited on 7 May 2000: ‘Since some OCD patients [a DSM label: ‘obsessive-compulsive disorder’] are refractory to state-of-the-art treatments and remain almost totally disabled, the research group has focused on the use of neurosurgical treatments for severe and treatment-refractory patients. Human subjects approval has been obtained at MGH, Brown University, and Rhode Island Hospital, and this study is now underway’ (Michael Jenike, Obsessive-compulsive disorders [defunct link when clicked in 2018].

On this revival of lobotomy see also Toxic Psychiatry (op. cit.), pp. 261ff.

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Published in: on December 14, 2018 at 1:47 pm  Comments Off on The hammer of the witches  

(((Sigmund Freud)))

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

‘I’ve never done a mean thing’—Freud [1]

It must have been noted that insofar I have used interchangeably the terms ‘psychiatrist’ and ‘analyst’. Before reading Jeffrey Masson I thought they were two essentially different things.

How mistaken I was. Now I know that since its beginnings psychoanalysis has been closely related to psychiatry, and that in the United States and Canada almost all analysts are both physicians and psychiatrists. Sigmund Freud himself, who initiated his career as an electrotherapist, flourished thanks to an amalgamation of his system with psychiatric policies. For instance, the first journal of psychoanalysis was published by Eugene Bleuler and Freud in 1909. Again, like Kraepelin and Bleuler, it was difficult for Freud to side his ‘patients’ and easy to side their parents.

The psychiatrist Krafft-Ebing disliked a letter that Nina R., a nineteen-year-old girl, sent him saying she had erotic dreams. He wrote to Freud accusing her of ‘psychic masturbation’. In 1891 Freud wrote: ‘Nina R. has always been overexcited, full of romantic ideas, thinks her parents do not like her. Has the occasional fantasy that her father does not love her’, and in 1893 Freud wrote to Dr. Binswanger about this girl:

The inborn crookedness of her character manifested itself in her forgetting her immediate duties, her adjustment to her milieu, while she strove to gain interests on a more idealistic level and absorb more exalted intellectual stimuli. [2]

Clearly, this was a case of one of those so-called liberated women at the end of the 19th century chased by medical inquisitors that wanted them ‘sick’ to ‘treat’ them. (Note of 2018: Keep in mind that although I want to restore patriarchy, this must be done in the Aryan way by restoring the Jane Austen world in England for example. On the other hand, this business of pseudo-medical labelling as a previous step to assault healthy brains is a non-Aryan way of doing things.)

Freud also used his position to degrade male adolescents. This comes up from his own writings. In Psychopathology of Everyday Life Freud recounts that a mother asked him to examine her son. Freud noticed a spot in his pants and the adolescent said that an egg had fallen upon him. Freud didn’t swallow the story and talked with the mother in private. He diagnosed that the boy was ‘suffering from the troubles arising from masturbation’.[3] The point of the anecdote, which I owe to Tom Szasz, is that the boy did not suffer absolutely of anything: it was the ignorant mother the one who was preoccupied of the emergent sexuality of her son. But since, contra Hollywood, Freud shared the sexual prejudices of his age, he saw as ‘psychopathological’ something so normal as an adolescent ejaculation. Whether masturbation produced the spot or not, just as Catholics take the child to the confessional, the boy’s ejaculation merited a whole medical ceremony that culminated in a formal diagnosis. This was no lapse by Freud. Throughout his life he shared the 19th-century European hysteria about masturbation: he believed it to be noxious and even called it an ‘addiction’. [4]

Freud not only sided the parents in conflicts with youngsters, but the State as well. I had said that Freud started his career as an electrotherapist, but did not explain that this therapy was a medical torture in disguise used by the Austro-Hungarian Empire government. The German psychiatrist Julius Wagner-Jauregg used painful electrical shocks in the First World War against the fearful youngsters that wanted to abandon the military service. After the war some of the soldiers under this ‘treatment’ in the psychiatric ward of the Vienna General Hospital complained. In 1920, a commission was designated to investigate the charges. The commission asked Freud for his opinion. He defended Wagner-Jauregg and not only that: he insisted on calling ‘patients’ these soldiers and to talk of their fear as ‘illness’. The commission decided in favour of Wagner-Jauregg. Freud never repented about the defence he made of this case. [5]

In comparatively healthier times, the fact of being Jewish prevented Freud to do the career of a psychiatrist: a profession closely related to the State, so he elaborated a sophisticated method, ‘psychoanalysis’. I cannot make a detailed examination of analytic theory but can focus on its most important aspects.

Freud abandoned his own ‘seduction theory’, the discovery that some women that consulted him suffered from memories of having been raped by their fathers. In 1896 Freud wrote an article about the subject, ‘The aetiology of hysteria’, but when he realised that his scandalous revelations only estranged him from his colleagues in Vienna, he turned over his ideology and decided it was better to blame the victims. Freud then labelled these women as ‘hysterical’, and defined hysteria as an occult desire to be seduced. Although incest does indeed occur in some families, this revaluation of his original findings was to be the cornerstone on which Freud built his edifice. For psychoanalysis the year 1897 signals both the abandonment of the seduction theory (if you say that your father molested you…) and the ‘discovery’ of the Oedipus complex (… it means you fancied him).

In the year 1900, at the turn of the century, Freud saw for the first time the girl Ida Bauer, called ‘Dora’ in his writings. Mr K., an industrialist and friend of Dora’s father, had tried to seduce Dora several times, the first one when she was fourteen. When Dora spoke out about the situation her father decided to take her to the physician. The girl did not want to go: she only asked to be kept at a distance from Mr K. But finally she yielded. In a session with Freud, Dora recounted her story: since her father did not help her, perhaps the doctor could vindicate her. Freud listened to her during several sessions and, in contrast to his father, he believed her story. But he did something else. Let us listen to Freud:

You will agree that nothing makes you so angry as having it thought that you merely fancied the scene by the lake [the place of the seduction]. I know now—and this is what you do not want to be reminded of—that you did fancy that Mr K.’s proposals were serious, and that he would not leave off until you had married him. [6]

This is one of the sins that analysts commit. In this very moment one of them is ‘interpreting’ the mind of one of his unwary clients in a way as capricious as this seminal case. After Freud’s interpretation, that she was in love of a man so mature that could be her father, Dora said good-bye to the quack doctor never to come back. Freud retaliated contriving the theory that if someone does not agree with the analyst’s interpretation it is simply due to lack of insight: of not wanting to face one’s own psychological reality. Freud baptised this additional interpretation, elevated to doctrine in psychoanalysis, as resistance. To him this word meant that, once the analyst has made a diagnosis the case is closed, the rest is ‘resistance’:

We must not be led astray by initial denials. If we keep firmly to what we have inferred, we shall in the end conquer every resistance by emphasizing the unshakable nature of our convictions. [7]

What Freud really wanted was that his patients fell in a state of folie à deux with him. Freud not only failed to apologise to Dora for the stupidity he had told her, but elevated his stupid interpretation to the level of science with his literary resources: the essay of Freud on Dora is the most extensive clinic story of the Freudian legacy and the most cited about female ‘hysterics’. Because those in the cult of psychoanalysis consider Freud almost infallible, throughout the decades the Freudians have devoted themselves to continue to defile Dora’s image in their writings—without having met her. Famous analysts such as Ernest Jones, Felix Deutch, Jacques Lacan and even feminists like Toril Moi have expressed themselves with contempt for Dora. In other words, the folie à deux between Freud’s ideas and his followers continues. [8]

By the end of the 19th century, in a letter to his intimate friend Wilhelm Fliess, Freud had confessed that because of his essay on seduction ‘the word has been given out to abandon me and I am isolated’.[9] The isolation was caused by his theory of incest. But the Dora case vindicated him. His new theory of hysteria meant a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn over his previous position. Now Freud had no powerful industrialists like Mr K. as a target, but a helpless girl. Freud’s behaviour was already in line with psychiatry: to side parents, the affluent classes and to oppose its victims. From this perspective, it is no exaggeration to say that psychoanalysis was founded on the betrayal of women and children.

The Dora case and the abandonment of his seduction theory are no lapses of the founder of psychoanalysis. They invalidate two pillars of the Freudian edifice: the notion of hysteria and the famed Oedipus complex. After abandoning his ‘seduction theory’, that is, the discovery of some of his female patients had been victims of incest, Freud did not become interested again in the sorrows of the world. In fact, contra popular views his system has nothing to do with psychological trauma. For example, in all of the vast work of Freud and his disciple Carl Jung, there is no single line critical of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Jung himself learned his craft in the Burghölzli Hospital of Zurich under the supervision of Eugen Bleuler, the same psychiatrist who invented the word schizophrenia. On occasion Freud played the accomplice of Jung’s penitentiary psychiatry. On 16 May 1908 Freud wrote to Jung:

Enclosed the certificate for Otto Gross. Once you have him, don’t let him out before October, when I shall be able to take charge of him.[10]

This is Mafia. Gross himself was a physician who, ironically, had published that year a letter to the editor objecting the involuntary confinement of a girl by her father. Fortunately on 17 June Gross escaped the Burghölzli. Jung retaliated by labelling him ‘schizophrenic’. Freud accepted the slander with enthusiasm. [11]

Siding the witch burners

Like his forerunner Charcot, when discussing the subject of women persecuted by the Inquisition Freud wrote about ‘hysterics’. This is one of the facts that shocked me the most while reading a classic by Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: Freud and his mentor did not talk of the perpetrators of the Inquisition but diagnosed their victims. In his obituary of Charcot, Freud wrote:

By pronouncing possession by a demon to be the cause of hysterical phenomena, the Middle Ages in fact chose this solution; it would only have been a matter of exchanging the religious terminology of that dark and superstitious age for the scientific language of today.[12]

As Szasz has noted this is an extraordinary claim. Freud acknowledges that the psychoanalytic description of hysteria is merely a semantic revision of the demonological one! [13]

In the 4th century the stigmatising labels of the Christian Newspeak were ‘pagan’ and ‘heretic’. A thousand years later there were no pagans, only heretics; but a new group became the target of stigmatisation: some women, also-called ‘witches’. In 1486 the Dominican theologians Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Krämer published the Malleus Maleficarum, literally The Hammer of the Witches: the ideological source of terror for innumerable women that would last centuries. The number of assassinated women by the Inquisition is unknown, but some estimates yield numbers from a hundred thousand to half a million (the last execution for ‘witchcraft’ performed in 1793 in Poland).

Incredible as it may seem, these victims of crazed Christians are not considered such in the writings of psychiatrists. Following Charcot and Freud they talk of neuro-pathologies referring not to the inquisitors, but to their victims. For instance, for psychiatry historians Franz Alexander and Sheldon Selesnick the fact that these women were tortured and burned by the Inquisition is enough to convert them, not the murderers into objects of medical interest. And what do the psychiatrists say of the inquisitors? Gregory Zilboorg, another psychiatry historian called Sprenger and Krämer ‘two honest Dominicans’.[14] Similar words of admiration can be read in the writings of Jules Masserman, another psychiatrist. Of course, these psychiatrists, as haughty as medieval theologians, diagnose ‘psychopathologies’ centuries later, without having examined any of these women.

I call this ‘Wonderland Logic’ making reference to Lewis Carroll’s tale: the surrealism of accusing the victim and not the perpetrators. In the psychiatric Wonderland, almost every psychiatrist believes in these official histories of psychiatry. Fortunately, for historians who are not psychiatrists like Hugh Trevor-Roper the witch-hunt was by all means a paranoiac enterprise of the Church; after the Enlightenment there is no excuse to see in other way this chapter of history.

Freud’s semantic ‘hysterical’ revision over the demonological speaks of his virtual lack of morals and compassion. It is no surprise that a fellow who labels as ‘hysterical’ a victim of religious fanatics had treated patients the way he did.


[1] Ernest Jones quoting Sigmund Freud in Thomas Szasz, The myth of mental illness (Harper & Row, 1974), p. 153.

[2] Quoted in Against therapy (op. cit.), p. 82.

[3] The manufacture of madness, p. 195.

[4] Ibid., pp. 194-196.

[5] The myth of psychotherapy (op. cit.) has a chapter about electrotherapy and Freud.

[6] Against therapy, p. 95.

[7] Quoted in Paul Gray, ‘The assault on Freud’ (Time, 29 November 1993), p. 33.

[8] Against therapy, pp. 108-113. In his book, Masson devotes a whole chapter to the story of Dora.

[9] Ibid., p. 104.

[10] Anti-Freud, pp. 135f (footnote).

[11] Ibid., p. 136.

[xii] The manufacture of madness, p. 73.

[13] Ibid.

[14] The position of Charcot, Freud, Zilboorg and the other psychiatrists on the Inquisition appears in The manufacture of madness, pp. 73-81 esp., and in Szasz’s The myth of mental illness (Harper and Row, 1974), chapter 8.

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A ‘disease’ whose lesion no one can see

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. I wrote most of the below text in the last century:

In his Occidental Dissent article about yesterday’s California bar shooting, the author wrote:

Take a young man, send him to fight in some God-forsaken Third-World pit inhabited by primitive Brown people, let him watch his buddies get their arms and legs blown off, dump him back in a homeland devoid of true healing religion, a unified culture, and basic healthcare, and you’ve essentially created a ticking time bomb.

Add in experimental drugs that certain (((doctors))) like to prescribe without knowing or caring about side effects, and the situation only grows worse.

So true.

With the Helfgott case I have outlined the model of trauma. Now, I will say something about the so-called medical model of mental disorders.

It is elemental that there can be no medical treatment without a biomedical disease. However, in contrast with true brain diseases such as tumors, multiple sclerosis, meningitis, epilepsy or neurosyphilis, after more than a century of bio-reductionist psychiatry no one has been able to demonstrate that the ‘diseases’ the psychiatrists diagnose are related to brain lesions. Thus by an act of faith and a diametrically opposed logic to jurisprudence, the psychiatrists supposed that the people under their charge were ill (‘guilty’) until proven healthy. Just as the pseudoscience of parapsychology that started about the same time as modern psychiatry, and which after more than a hundred years has not been able to demonstrate the paranormal, the psychiatrists believed it was simply a matter of time for the cellular pathology of the mysterious disease ‘schizophrenia’ to be discovered. (Likewise, the parapsychologists have been running after the mirage that sooner or later they will demonstrate the reality of ESP and psychokinesis.) [1] Thomas Szasz’s words are decisive on this point:

The gist of my argument is that men like Kraepelin, Bleuler and Freud [who defined modern psychiatry and psychotherapy] were not what they claimed or seem to be—namely, physicians or medical investigators; they were, in fact, religious-political leaders and conquerors. Instead of discovering new diseases, they extended, through psychiatry, the imagery, vocabulary, jurisdiction, and hence the territory of medicine to what they were not, and are not, diseases in the original Virchowian sense.

Actually, given the Virchowian criteria of disease [cell pathology], I do not believe that Kraepelin, Bleuler, or the other psychiatrists of that period could have assumed such a role, and gotten away with it. The reason is simple. They would have had to conclude that most of the ‘patients’ in their hospitals were not sick; at least, they could not have found anything demonstrably wrong with the anatomical structure or physiological functioning of their bodies. [2]

On these premises Szasz’s verdict is that:

No one is so blind as the person who does not want to see. Many people did not want to see in the past, and do not want to see now, the naked facts of psychiatry—namely, that psychiatrists diagnose diseases without lesions, and treat patients without rights.

This, then, was the fateful point of departure in the origin of modern psychiatry: the invention of the alleged disease ‘schizophrenia’—a disease whose lesion no one could see, and which ‘afflicted’ persons in such a way that often they wanted nothing more than not to be patients. [3]

Despite the misinforming publicity in the media promoted by the pharmaceutical companies, no one has seen anomalies in the brains of those labeled with that word, so much so that the psychiatric concept ‘schizophrenia’ has a bad reputation among some neurologists (the renowned journals of neurology do not publish bio-reductionist papers about ‘schizophrenia’). [4] Furthermore, it is fascinating to notice that, for many years, in the DSM the very American Psychiatric Association excluded the organic conditions as responsible for what they call schizophrenia. For instance, in the published revision of 1987, DSM-IIIR, the manual says that such diagnosis ‘is made only when it cannot be established that an organic factor initiated and maintained the disturbance’. [5] If they recognise that organic causes have not been found, how do these shrinks dare to tell their clients that the condition is due to chemical imbalances in the brain? What kind of schizophrenia do these professionals suffer from?

Perhaps the explanation of their divided mind can be found in the following fact. It was not until the DSM-IV edition of 1994 that the honest passage (‘it cannot be established that an organic factor…’) was censured from the former version. Psychiatrist Fuller Torrey recognises that the censorship could have been due to ‘the prevailing psychoanalytic and family interaction theories of schizophrenia’. [6] Another explanation is that if psychiatrists did not take bio-reductionism dogmatically and made common cause with the victims they listen in their offices, their drug prescribing enterprise in just a ten-minute consultation could go out of business—and that is something they cannot afford. As Laing said, economics controls politics.

It controls science too, or rather the political pseudoscience in the universities. If the medical model persists it is because it provides an unending field of pseudoscientific research for psychiatric drugs that generate billions of dollars. It is that simple. This ‘research’ has persisted since psychiatrists decided that the people under their charge were ill, and it will proceed because the biological causes of madness do not exist. It is exactly what is happening in parapsychology: both parapsychology and biological psychiatry unceasingly run after a mirage. (It is worth saying that Eugen Bleuler, who coined the word ‘schizophrenia’, was a staunch advocate of spiritualist phenomena in his time.) [7]

It seems incredible that the so-called professionals in mental disorders are capable of self-deception of this magnitude, but just to show that besides Szasz there is a new generation of psychiatrists that have realised how medical students are being deceived, I will quote Colin Ross again:

When I entered my psychiatry residency, I believed that research had demonstrated the genetic foundation of schizophrenia and had shown that schizophrenia is primarily a biomedical brain disease. This view was almost universally accepted at my medical school, and I never heard serious criticism of it while in training. It was by a gradual process that I began to become more and more aware of the cognitive errors pervading clinical psychiatry […]. I also saw how badly biological psychiatrists want to be regarded as doctors, and accepted by the rest of the medical profession. In their desire to be accepted as real clinical scientists, these psychiatrists were building far too dogmatic an edifice on a very meager scientific foundation […].

One of the most disturbing effects of the errors of logic in biological psychiatry I witnessed in ten years as a resident and academic psychiatrist, from 1981 to 1991, was their influence in medical students. Already intensively socialized into biomedical reductionism by the time they arrived on the psychiatry wards, many medical students accepted the folklore and logical errors of biological psychiatry as a scientific fact. I would hear them parroting the teaching that psychiatry has become more scientific recently, has many effective drugs, has demonstrated the genetic foundation of schizophrenia, and is moving ever forward into more specific psycho-pharmacology. The problem was not that all these propositions were completely false; rather, it was the uncritical acceptance of the dogma that alarmed me. [8]

This passage is from Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry. In another chapter of this book Ross criticises one by one several bio-reductionist articles of the AJP (American Journal of Psychiatry), the official organ of information of American psychiatry. It is unnecessary to quote the rebuttals to the theories of the medical model of ‘schizophrenia’: studies on monozygotic twins, the dopamine hypothesis, the subjects’ response to psycho-pharmacology, etc. Those interested in the rebuttals can review the writings of Ross and especially Peter Breggin’s journal. [9] Suffice it to quote Ross’ final words about the AJP:

This completes a detailed analysis of pseudoscience in the American Journal of Psychiatry from 1990 to 1993. The January 1994 issue of the Journal indicates that logical errors and bio-reductionist ideology will continue to dominate psychiatry for some time. A similar analysis could not be made of a leading journal in a truly scientific field. [10]

In the market world, the advertising that drug companies sell to the media is taken as real science. This advertising, which ignores the biographies of persons like those of the California shooter, is precisely the same of the medical students who parrot that psychiatry has demonstrated the biologic foundation of schizophrenia, depression and other mental disorders. The impression on the public of these supposed medical advances has been created by the incessant repetition of these psychiatric slogans in the media.


[1] A splendid book of how for more than a century parapsychologists have been chasing a mirage is Leaps of faith: science, miracles, and the search for supernatural consolation by Nicholas Humphrey (Basic Books, 1996).

[2] Thomas Szasz, Schizophrenia: the sacred symbol of psychiatry (Oxford University Press, 1979), pp. 35 & 21.

[3] Ibid., pp. 42f.

[4] Neurology (the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology), Journal of Neurology (European Neurological Society), Journal of Neurological Sciences (International Federation of Neurology), Journal of Neuroradiology and Archives of Neurology.

[5] Quoted in Lawrence Stevens, Schizophrenia: a nonexistent disease (www.antipsychiatry.org). The page of the DSM-IIIR is 187.

[6] E. Fuller Torrey, Surviving schizophrenia: a family manual (Harper & Row, 1988), p. 149.

[7] George Windholz, ‘Bleuler’s view on the inheritance of acquired characteristics and on psi phenomena’ in Skeptical Inquirer (Spring, 1994), pp. 273-279.

[8] Colin Ross, ‘Errors of logic in biological psychiatry’ in Colin Ross and Alvin Pam (eds.), Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry: blaming the body (Wiley & Sons, 1995), pp. 85-87.

[9] Pam and Ross convincingly refute the biological theories of schizophrenia in chapters 1 and 2 of the book cited in the previous note; Peter Breggin in chapter 5 of Toxic psychiatry (op. cit.) and more academically in his scholarly journal. In addition to the mental institution with his name, Ross has been a contractor of psychopharmaceutical companies; he has been called to participate in neuroleptic trials, and continues to publish in the AJP: his credentials as a psychiatrist are impeccable. The books of veteran critic, Tom Szasz, who already has forty years fighting against psychiatric barbarities, are also useful to approach the subject of this inquisitorial pseudoscience.

[10] Colin Ross, ‘Pseudoscience in the American Journal of Psychiatry’ in Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry, p. 191.

______ 卐 ______

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Abusive parents and psychiatrists: a criminal association

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

Modern psychiatry pushes us in one direction—toward blaming the victim and exonerating the adult authorities. It’s the easy way out for all of the adults, including the child abuser; but it’s a disaster for the child.

—Peter Breggin [1]

The biggest surprise I ran across while reading Thomas Szasz and Jeffrey Masson was the discovery that, since its beginnings, psychiatry has sided parents during conflicts with their children; and it has sided them independently of the moral or sanity of the parents. In the 17th century the admission regulations to two French insane asylums for minors stipulated that:

Children of artisans and other poor inhabitants of Paris up to the age of twenty-five, who used their parents badly or who refused to work through laziness, or, in the case of girls, who were debauched or in evident danger of being debauched, should be shut up, the boys in the Bicêtre, the girls in the Salpêtrière. This action was to be taken on the complaint of the parents. [2]

In the same way, in the 18th century parents could appeal to the king for the purpose of, by means of a lettre de cachet confining a rebel child in the Bastille. [3]

In the 19th century the same situation shows up in America. In 1865 the Boston Times Messenger described the McLean Hospital as a ‘Bastille for the incarceration of some persons obnoxious to their relatives’. [4]

This bizarre history could be comprehended if we see psychiatry from an unfamiliar viewpoint: not as psychiatry presents itself, an objective science, but as an extralegal system of penalties which, since its origins, has allied itself with the status quo. And this doesn’t refer only to the alliance of psychiatrists with parents, but with husbands in other times. In America’s 1850s, for instance, Illinois commitment statute indicated:

Married women… may be entered or detained in the hospital (the state asylum of Jacksonville) at the request of the husband of the woman… without evidence of insanity required in other cases [my italics]. [5]

In the 20th century psychiatry gained even more power and influence in Western civilization. It converted itself into a big psycho-pharmaceutical industry, which acts within the tough arena of the market and the laws of supply and demand.

The key word is demand. When family problems arise the parents, and only the parents, have the economic means to hire professionals. Thus, from its origins it has been very convenient for these professionals to see family problems as medical problems, and they have deceived themselves to see such problems that way. Paediatrician Robert Mendelssohn observed: ‘teens are Big Business for psychiatrists’.[6] Psychiatry is not oriented to defend teenagers during family problems. That would put psychiatrists in conflict with the parents, the source of income of the psychiatrist. Paul Fink, president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), put it bluntly: ‘It is the task of APA to protect the earning power of psychiatrists’.[7]

That psychiatrists have played the role of lawyers for the parents and the status quo can be seen with extraordinary transparency when studying the psychiatric labels in the 18th and 19th centuries. A few examples will illustrate this point.

When slavery was legal in the United States, Dr. Samuel Cartwright discovered that slaves who ran away from their masters suffered from drapetomania, a disease that only afflicted blacks who had ‘an insane desire to run away from their owners’.[8] Other blacks suffered from the medical disease dyasthesia Aethiopica, which pathological symptom was ‘paying no attention to property’. Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry also discovered various nervous diseases. He called one of them anarchia, and defined it as ‘the excess passion for liberty’. At present Rush’s portrait continues to deck out the official seal of the American Psychiatric Association.

In 19th century-Europe the situation was no better. Women who didn’t comply with the role assigned to them were labelled folie lucide in France and moral insanity in England and its equivalent labels in Switzerland and Germany. Many were confined in insane asylums prompted by their husbands, fathers or brothers. Indeed, in the 19th century women were the main targets of organised psychiatry (just as in the 20th and the 21st centuries children and teenagers are once more the main target). Jeffrey Masson disclosed testimonies of some of the victims of these mercenary inquisitors: women that managed to escape the asylums and exposed both their families and the psychiatrists. One of these, Hersilie Rouy, committed as a result of a dispute with her brother, testifies in a book published in 1883 in Paris that:

For fourteen years I have lived under incarceration that cut me off from the real world, took away my civil rights, deprived me of my name, took away everything I owned, destroyed my entire existence without even being able to say why. [9]

Incidentally, I am not using these examples to promote feminism or anti-slavery for American blacks. I believe in patriarchy—but in a patriarchal society not based on the pseudoscientific claim that the liberated women in the 19th century suffered from a biomedical disease and that therefore should be ‘treated’ by MDs. This is analogous to the pseudoscientific claim in our century that boys who don’t pay due attention in the traditional school system have a brain disease that must be treated with Ritalin. The same could be said about runaway black slaves: punish them if you want but do not invent spurious diseases. Otherwise, such pseudoscientific diagnoses and empowering of the medical profession beyond its limits will metastasise into the white community with dire consequences.

Another piece of information that shocked me while reading Masson and Szasz was that since those times there has not only been an association between abusive parents and husbands with psychiatrists, but another alliance between psychiatrists and the state. For instance, after escaping and publishing her book Rouy appealed the French Ministry of Justice. Yet the ministry sided the psychiatrists:

Our doctor who knows more about it than we do has the conviction that she is mad and we bow before his infallible science. [10]

The case of Hersilie Rouy was not the only one that Masson disclosed in his investigations, but the pattern is very similar: young women perfectly sane diagnosed as suffering from ‘moral insanity’ in spite of the fact that the doctors acknowledged that there wasn’t anything wrong with their intellects. This is why the condition was named folie lucide in France (literally, lucid madness).

Another curious psychiatric label for unmarried ladies of the high society that had fiancés of lower status—and here I cannot help reminding the film Titanic—was nymphomania.[11] In some cases these ladies were confined in their bloom of youth to be liberated old to homes for the aged. Following next I quote an excerpt from a letter of Dr. Massini to Dr. Binswanger to confine Julie La Roche to an insane asylum in Switzerland:

In mid-January she ran off from there, supposedly with her brother, but in fact with the adventurer von Smirnoff, and suddenly appeared in Basel, presenting him as her fiancé. Here of course the relationship was nor approved…

All of this leads me to conclude that Miss La Roche, who is otherwise a thoroughly lovable girl, is heading toward ‘moral insanity’, which makes medical supervision advisable… She will surely attempt to escape, perhaps at the least pretend to commit suicide. It will therefore be necessary to put her in charge of incorruptible guards who will watch over her very closely… I do not believe that Mr. La Roche ever mistreated his daughter. [12]

It could be thought that these are relics of a barbarian psychiatric past already surpassed that have nothing to do with our civilised age. This was La Roche’s testimony:

My father abused me in a terrible manner… after he had thrown a sharp object at my head with such force that my face was covered with blood, to which a deep wound testified. There are witnesses to all these events.

One day in Saarburg, where we returned after our marriage [with von Smirnoff], and where I had to remain in bed, we were surprised by the police and then by my father. Though sick, I was dragged off through storm and rain by Mr. La Roche [her father]. My marriage certificate, everything was in vain. With court transportation, I was taken to Kreuzlingen, which is a private insane asylum (as can be ascertained by looking it up in any directory). There, on the first day, I was diagnosed as melancholic and insane.[13]

Like Hersilie Rouy, La Roche managed to escape. Thanks to this she left us her testimony, originally published in the Swiss newspaper Thurgauer Tagblatt. And just as the Rouy case, the united psychiatrists faced the exposé. Julie La Roche never was vindicated before society. On the contrary: the newspaper where her testimony appeared had to publish a shameful recantation stating that La Roche suffered, in effect, from moral insanity.[14]

The labels of the 19th century were not always invented to cause stigma on second-class citizens, sometimes they were invented to avoid stigma in the favoured classes. For instance, when a daughter of a high-born family stole something and was arrested, a psychiatrist was asked to diagnose that the poor girl suffered from kleptomania, an illness which symptom was an uncontrollable compulsion to steal.[15] Thus the law was outwitted and the spoiled daughter could return home. But like the stigmatising labels, it’s notorious to see how authorities used to go into open-handed complicity with psychiatrists to avoid, or to cause, social stigma.

These diagnoses—‘drapetomania’, ‘dyasthesia Aethiopica’ and ‘anarchia’ for blacks (anarchia, the disease invented by the father of American psychiatry was applied for whites as well), and ‘folie lucide’, ‘nymphomania’ and ‘kleptomania’ for women—seem ludicrous nowadays. Values have changed so much that the essentially political character of the labels and the role of psychiatrists as agents of the system and the affluent classes is visible from every point of view.

However, regardless of the obscure technicalities of present-day labels, which makes more difficult for the layman to detect the trick, the situation at present continues to be basically the same. The concealed objective of psychiatry has always been control, especially control of the most vulnerable members in society. That this policy persisted in the 20th century can be heard from the cynical statements of Francis Braceland, who was president of the American Psychiatric Association during the hippie movement in the 1960s:

It is a feature of some illnesses that people do not have insight into the fact that they are sick. In short, sometimes it is necessary to protect them for a while from themselves… If a man brings his daughter to me from California because she is in manifest danger of falling into vice or in some way disgracing herself, he doesn’t expect me to let her loose in my hometown for that same thing to happen. [16]

I could not say it more plainly. Notice how the thoughtpolice have not changed since the 17th century when they sent these ‘daughters in danger of falling into vice’ to the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. Again, I am not against disciplining a spoiled brat. I only take issue with the immense danger of inventing pseudoscientific diseases that the medical profession should treat as if they were ‘illnesses’, often against the will of the ‘patient’.

Something similar could even be said about quite a few cases diagnosed as ‘schizophrenia’. Below, a quotation from the brochure Schizophrenia published in 1998 by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the National Schizophrenia Fellowship of England:

How do families react if a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister develops schizophrenia and becomes odd and unpredictable? They may regard the change in behaviour as rebellious, perverse and unacceptable without at first realising that it is due to mental illness. [17]

This brochure, destined to the masses, expresses more clearly the behavioural criterion for schizophrenia than the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM, the ‘Bible’, so to speak, of the psychiatrists.[18] The brochure does not ask how the adolescent sees his parents. It does not ask, for instance, ‘Is your mother so reluctant to her “psychological childbirth” that she treats you like a little boy?’ ‘Is she possessive, tyrannical and harass you often?’ Or ‘Is your father a passive fellow who always obeys your mom?’

Psychiatrists would never do a brochure for youngsters who cannot remunerate them. Those who wrote the brochure, the official psychiatric associations in England, have had ears exclusively for what the parents say, who are euphemistically called ‘the family’. It doesn’t even occur to them that the adult child’s version exists, or that his or her rebelliousness may be justified. The equation: rebellious, perverse, unacceptable is schizophrenic reminds me that during Brezhnev’s ruling the political dissident’s rebelliousness, an unacceptable perversity for Russian authorities, was officially considered a symptom of schizophrenia.[19]

The English brochure is most perverse when advocating the idea that ‘they may regard the change in behaviour as rebellious without at first realising that it is due to mental illness’. In other words, adolescent rebellion is, by definition of the most reputable associations of English psychiatry, an illness, schizophrenia or schizoidism; the feminist liberation of the 19th century was an illness, moral insanity; the anxiety of the black slave to escape was an illness, drapetomania. All these illnesses require medical intervention, which frequently ends up in incarceration without legal trial. The same brochure says:

People with schizophrenia do not always realise they are ill and may refuse treatment when they badly need it. In these circumstances, the Mental Health Act in England and Wales [enacted in 1983] and similar legal arrangements in other countries, permit compulsory admission to hospital. [20]

Take notice that this is a brochure published in 1998, and that they gave it to me in 1999 in a ‘mental health’ course in England’s Open University.

In essence, psychiatry has not changed since the 19th century, only the social values have changed. Psychiatrists have behaved, and continue to behave, as agents of the current status quo: be it slave-owners at the south of the United States, bourgeois parents that abhor the plebeian affairs of their liberated daughters, or harassing mothers that do not tolerate any rebelliousness in their children.

More direct evidence that an alliance exists between parents and psychiatrists, an alliance not declared to the public, has been exposed by a man who defrocked himself from the lucrative profession of psychoanalysis and that I have already quoted: Masson. In Final analysis he says:

‘When a child manifests gross pathology…’ these words startled me into consciousness. They were enunciated, for emphasis, very slowly, and in a booming voice. There could be no doubt about it, the department chairman was a fine orator. He had acted on the stage. His voice, his urban wit, his friendliness, his poise, his great knowledge of literature were all admirable. He laughed a great deal. He liked to make jokes. You had to like him.

But you did not have to like what he said. And I did not. What was it to ‘manifest gross pathology’? In this case, an eight-year-old boy was the ‘identified’ patient. The word ‘identified’ was a popular and venerable psychiatric term. He had been ‘identified’ as the patient by his mother and father, simply because he was not doing well at school, he had few friends, and he was a ‘problem’ at home. How was this, I wondered at the time, ‘gross pathology’? Where was I? I was at grand rounds.[21]

‘Grand rounds’ was the visit of psychiatric wards in the city of Toronto during Masson’s training for an analyst. The hospital staff met and a senior psychiatrist presented a case of one of the hospitalised ‘patients’. As Masson observed, this was humiliating for the patient:

It soon became apparent that every presentation of therapy was only good as the intellect and heart of the presenter. You did not, you could not, learn about the patient, but you learned plenty about the presenter… So here was a department chairman talking about still another ‘patient’, Jill, nineteen, ‘who was admitted to the hospital with a schizophrenic psychotic decompensation’.[22]

The department chairman who presented these cases was a respected psychiatrist who believed in electroshock. Masson continues:

How did we know, for example, that somebody was ‘sick’? It was simple: they were brought to the hospital. The chairman made it clear that a person who had been ‘identified’ as a patient by the family, was, in fact, disturbed in a psychiatric way. People apparently did not err when it came to making these kinds of home diagnoses. Thus, he told us, speaking of the ‘maladjusted’ (a medical term?) child, that we should accept

that the ‘identified’ patient is ‘sicker’ than the others. A study by S. Wolff (in the British Journal of Psychiatry) lends support to the family’s identification of its most disturbed member as the ‘sick one’…

To me, this was suspiciously convenient for the psychiatrist. What gave the psychiatric community this power? [23]

Who gives psychiatry these inquisitorial powers against children and teenagers? Society and its laws, of course; the state, our very culture! (Remember the epigraph of this book, ‘To commit violent and unjust acts, it is not enough for a government to have the will or even the power; the habits, ideas and passions of the time must lend themselves to their committal’, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville.) Masson is the only former analyst of the world that has dared to expose in his writings what happens in the ‘indoctrination process’ of this ‘semi-secret society’ as he calls the formation of psychoanalysts.

Another piece of evidence that there exist a criminal association of parents and psychiatrists is suggested by the fact that American psychiatry, represented by the American Psychiatric Association, has entered a collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is formed by parents that, like Julie La Roche’s father, want to undertake psychiatric action against their offspring. NAMI’s position has been so extreme that it has even come to harass those psychiatrists who are not practitioners of the bioreductionist faith. [24]

It’s important to know that this alliance between tyrannical parents and psychiatrists is a very old story, and that it continues without serious challenge in our societies.


[1] Peter Breggin, Toxic psychiatry: why therapy, empathy and love must replace the drugs, electroshock, and biochemical theories of the ‘new psychiatry’ (St. Martin’s Press, 1994), pp. 269 & 315.

[2] Quoted in Thomas Szasz, The manufacture of madness: a comparative study of the Inquisition and the mental health movement (Syracuse University Press, 1997), p. 14.

[3] Ibid., pp. 48f.

[4] Ibid., 308.

[5] Ibid., p. 307.

[6] Toxic psychiatry (op. cit.), p. 298.

[7] Ibid., p. 360.

[8] This, and the following diagnoses, appear in Mind games (op. cit.), p. 105.

[9] Quoted in Jeffrey Masson, Against therapy: emotional tyranny and the myth of psychological healing (Harper Collins, 1997), p. 57. The alliance between parents and psychiatrists is exposed in chapters 1, 5 and 6 esp.

[10] Ibid., p. 60.

[11] Roger Gomm, ‘Reversing deviance’ in Tom Heller (ed.) Mental health matters (The Open University, 1996), p. 80.

[12] Against therapy, pp. 70f.

[13] Ibid., pp. 72f.

[14] Ibid., p. 76.

[15] Mental health matters, p. 80.

[16] Quoted in The manufacture of madness, pp. 46f.

[17] Schizophrenia (National Schizophrenia Fellowship & Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1998), p. 12.

[18] Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition, DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

[19] Thomas Szasz, The therapeutic state (Prometheus Books, 1984), p. 223.

[20] Schizophrenia, op. cit., p. 9.

[21] Jeffrey Masson, Final analysis: the making and unmaking of a psychoanalyst (Harper Collins, 1991), pp. 48f.

[22] Ibid., pp. 50f.

[23] Ibid., p. 51.

[24] Toxic psychiatry, pp. 425f.

From the Great Confinement of Louis XIV of France to a Chemical Gulag (part 5)

Faced with a multi-billion dollar business that has subtly bought the doctors, universities and the media, it is virtually impossible for the civil society to see what is happening. Just as in Heinroth’s time political actions were covered up in medical garb when the ideals of the Revolution were in the air, after the rebellion of the 1960s psychiatry reacted by covering itself more and more with the clothes of hard science, the paradigm of our days. In 1999 Professor Leonard Duhl of the University of California defined mental illness and poverty in the most perfect sense of the ideologists of the Great Confinement of the 17th century: ‘the inability to command events that affect one’s life’.[31]

The consolidation and enlargement of the psychiatric power continues in the 21st century. The tenfold increase in the use of neuroleptics in minors since the mid-1990s to the first five years of the new century, which is done with the publicity stunt that they are ‘at risk’, shows the cynicism of this marketing design.

Heinroth was a great visionary. He foresaw that drugs could be the prisons of the future. Although the neuroleptics had not been invented, Heinroth already spoke of ‘pharmaceutical means of restriction’ and ‘restrictive surgical means’, anticipating the lobotomy that Moniz would develop a century later.

Since the regulations that would define the policies of the psychiatrists were enacted in the 19th century, the expansion of the chemical Gulag meant that long-term involuntary hospitalization changed to long-term voluntary (or involuntary) drug addiction. Psychiatrists, of course, would say things differently. They say that in the treatment of mental illnesses the most outstanding event of the 20th century was the capability to synthesise these substances in laboratories. But this is one of the allegations of scientific progress that, analysed closely, is discovered fallacious.

In psychopharmacology there are no biographies of John, Peter or Mary when they are prescribed neuroleptics, neither when they are prescribed antidepressants, when stimulants are prescribed, or when tranquilizers are prescribed. There are no people in biological psychiatry, or biologicistic psychiatry as I prefer to call it, only biochemical radicals that have to be normalized by other chemical substances. In an age that seeks easy solutions to the problems of the world, it is not necessary to delve into the past. Just calculate the dose of ‘happy pills’, be it Prozac or any other.

This also happens with the abuse of illegal drugs and the only difference is that the psychotropic drugs are legal. Approximately thirty million people have taken Prozac (fluoxetine), a drug that Newsweek has advertised with cover articles. The situation points more and more to the scenes of Brave New World of Aldous Huxley where, at the request of the State, every citizen consumed the drug called soma.

(First edition in the United Kingdom of Huxley’s famous novel.) In the medical profession the environmental factors that prick our souls have disappeared from the map. If the philosophy of the biologicistic psychiatrists is right, all our passions, traumas and conflicts, loves and fears, are not the result of our desires in conflict with the external world, but of the swings of small polypeptides in our bodies that are transformed into despair.

In the preface to some editions of the DSM it is said that the future will completely erase the ‘unfortunate’ distinction between the popular concept of mental disorder and physical illness. On January 1, 1990, California became the first American state to accept the main dogma in psychiatry: that mental disorders are, in reality, diseases originating in brain dysfunctions. For example, it is claimed that a high dopamine causes madness, and a low serotonin, depression. (This reminds me that for Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry, insanity was caused by low blood circulation in the head.) But in real neurological science the dopamine and serotonin claims have been debunked.[32]

Bioreductionist psychiatry is anything that sees supposed biological abnormalities in the body rather traumatic events in the family or the environment. It is like studying trauma not as a reaction to an outrageous act, say, the incestuous rape of Dora [mentioned in the online book], but rather studying the temporal lobe of the raped girl, where the treatment is headed. The drugs, or the hammer of the electroshock, are the result of the medical axiom: ‘He who only knows how to use the hammer treats all things as if they were nails’.

I am not caricaturising the profession. In November 2002 I had a long discussion with Dr. Miguel Pérez de la Mora, an experimental cell physiology physician of the Department of Biophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and director of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. In the discussion with Pérez de la Mora I was struck by the fact that, when I mentioned the mental state of the inmates in the concentration camps, my contender immediately jumped to the subject of the amygdala and the anxiety that he studied in his laboratory: an anxiety understood in a strictly biological way.

In our surreal discussion, I took a long time to make the obvious point to the doctor: that the cause of the mental stress of the inmates were the brutalities in the camps. But even granted this point Pérez de la Mora added—without laboratory tests—that only those inmates in the fields who presumably had a genetic predisposition could have been the ones who became upset. For this neurologist and his colleagues, the concentration camps were a mere ‘trigger mechanism’ for the disorder of a prisoner whose biology, presumably, was already defective!

I must clarify the concept of ‘trigger mechanism’ of a supposed latent mental disorder.

This is one of the main mantras of the psychiatrist, and exemplifies what I have called bioreductionism. For the bioreductionist, the human rights and psychological trauma are located in the background, and the only thing that matters is the genome project and the search for the ‘gene’ responsible for the disorder (or another strictly biological line).

The specialty of Pérez de la Mora is studying anxiety disorders in the laboratories of the UNAM, and during our discussion he confessed that the firm that manufactures the psychiatric drug Valium had financed his research. I pointed to Pérez de la Mora that a research financed by the same drug companies produces results with a clear biological bias. The eminent scientist told me that researchers rarely sell themselves to companies.

The reality is that the way that the pharmaceutical multinationals buy the scientists is infinitely subtler than direct bribery. Roche, which manufactures Valium, simply finances professionals who postulate biological hypotheses, and no other. Never Roche or the competition would give us a penny to those who investigate psychological trauma. Our line of research is a proposal that requires social engineering and changes in the nuclear family to avoid mistreatment of the children. But in our world nobody wants to finance the researcher who puts the parents in the dock.

For example, no institution funded the research to write this online book. On the other hand, the medical model promotes the drugging of the abused child without changing the parental mistreatment that caused the mental distress in the first place. Only in this way does the field enjoy the approval of society. If the anxiety that Perez de la Mora studies, or panic, depression, addictions, phobias, mania, obsessions and compulsions are the result of an abnormal biology, the human and existential content that has caused these experiences becomes irrelevant.

The thinking of our time is being confined to a one-dimensional world as far as mental health is concerned. Bioreductionism, the ideology of the medical doctors with blinders that do not want to see the social sides, is a doctrine whose conceptual frame is quite simple: determinism and reductionism (‘Your biology is your destiny’). But as psychiatrists present this doctrine to us with all its scientific sophistication, the matter apparently is complicated. The following Szaszian analogy illustrates how simple, at the bottom, biopsychiatry is.

The primitive witch-doctor, who tried to understand Nature in human terms, treated objects as agents: a position known as animism. The modern witch-doctor, who tries to understand the subjectivity of man in terms of Nature, treats agents as objects: a position known as bioreductionism. Primitive man has been demystified in our scientific era. Who will demystify psychiatry doctors?

There is a small group of thinkers who can do it: those who know how to distinguish between good and bogus science.


[31] Leonard Duhl, quoted in Szasz: Pharmacracy, p. 95.

[32] See Valenstein, Blaming the Brain.

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From the Great Confinement of Louis XIV of France to a Chemical Gulag (part 1)

Above, French psychiatrist Philippe Pinel releasing so-called ‘lunatics’ from their chains at the Salpêtrière asylum of Paris in 1795. Below, a Spanish-English translation from my site critical of psychiatry. Since it is a chapter within an online book I’ll be adding explanatory brackets after some sentences.

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Aristotle said that to obtain a truly profound knowledge about something it is necessary to know its history. To understand what happened to the orphan John Bell [Bell’s testimony appears in another chapter of the online book] it is necessary to know how the profession that re-victimised him emerged. The following ideas about how the psychiatric profession was born are taken from Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation, that I will paraphrase here.

In England, three hundred years before John Bell was born, the pamphlet Grievous Groan of the Poor appeared, in which it was proposed that the indigent be banished and transferred to the newly discovered lands of the Oriental Indies. From the 13th century it had existed the famous Bedlam for lunatics in London, but in the 16th century it housed only twenty inmates. In the 17th century, when the pamphlet to banish the poor appeared, there were already more than a hundred prisoners in Bedlam. In 1630 King Charles I called a commission to address the problem of poverty and the commission decreed the police persecution of vagabonds, beggars ‘and all those who live in idleness and who do not wish to work for reasonable wages’.[1] In the 18th century, many poor and destitute people were taken to correctional facilities and houses of confinement in the cities where industrialisation had marginalised part of the population.

Prisons for the poor were also established in continental Europe. The spirit of the 17th century was to put order in the world. After leprosy was eradicated, the medieval leprosariums that had remained empty were filled with the new lepers: the destitute. Foucault calls this period ‘The Great Confinement’ and emphasises the fact that the concept of mental illness did not exist yet.

Isolating the leper, a true sick person, had had a hygienic goal in the Middle Ages. But isolating the destitute had no such goal: it was a new phenomenon. 1656 was an axial year in this policy of cleaning up human garbage from the streets. On April 27, Louis XIV ordered the construction of the General Hospital, a place that was hospital only in name: no doctor presided over it. Article 11 of the king’s edict specified who would be imprisoned: ‘Of all sexes, places and ages, of any city and birth and in whatever state they are, valid or invalid, sick or convalescent, curable or incurable’.[2] Lifelong directors were appointed to head the General Hospital. Their absolutist power was a miniature decal of the power of the sun king, as can be read in articles 12 and 13 of the edict:

They have all power of authority, direction, administration, commerce, police, jurisdiction, correction and sanction over all the poor of Paris, both inside and outside the Hôpital Général. For this purpose, the directors would have stakes and rings of torture, prisons and dungeons, in the aforementioned hospital and places that depend on it, as they deem it convenient, without being able to appeal the ordinances that will be drafted by the directors for the interior of said hospital.[3]

The goal of these draconian measures was to suppress begging by decree. A few years after its foundation, the General Hospital housed one percent of the population of Paris. There were thousands of women and children in the Salpêtrière, in the Bicêtre and in the other buildings of a ‘Hospital’ that was not a hospital but an administrative entity that, concurrently with the royal powers and the police, repressed and guarded the marginalised.

On June 16, 1676 another royal edict establishes the foundation of general hospitals in each city of the kingdom. Throughout France this type of prison is opened and, a hundred years later, on the eve of the Revolution, there existed in thirty-two provincial cities. The archipelago of jails for the poor covered Europe. The Hôpitaux Généraux of France, the Workhouses of England and the Zuchthaüsern of Germany imprisoned young lads who had conflicts with their parents; vagabonds, drunks, lewd people and the ‘fools’. These prisons were indistinguishable from common prisons. In the 18th century an Englishman was surprised to see one of these prisons, ‘in which idiots and fools are locked up because they do not know where to confine them separately’.[4] The so-called alienated were confused with the sane, though destitute, individuals; and sometimes it was impossible to distinguish one from the other.

In the Middle Ages pride was a capital sin. When the banking flourished during the Renaissance it was said that greed was the greatest sin. But in the 17th century, when the ethic of work was imposed not only in Protestant countries but also among Catholics, laziness—in fact: unemployment—was the most notorious of sins. A city where every individual was supposed to become a cog in the social machine was the great bourgeois dream. Within this dream, groups that did not integrate into the machinery were destined to carry a stigma. 17th-century men had replaced medieval leprosy with indigence as the new exclusion group. It is from this ideological framework of indigence considered a vice that the great concept of madness will appear in the 18th and 19th centuries. For the first time in history, madness would be judged with the yardstick of the work ethic. A world where work ethics rules rejects all forms of uselessness. He who cannot earn his bread transgresses the limits of the bourgeois order. He who cannot be integrated into the group must be an alienated.

The edict of creation of the General Hospital is very clear in this regard: it considers ‘begging and idleness as sources of all disorders’.[5] It is very significant that ‘disorder’ remains the word used by psychiatrists today. The very Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [henceforth referred by its acronym, DSM: the ‘Bible’ of today’s psychiatrists] uses the word ‘disorder’ instead of ‘illness’. As the 17th century marks the line in which it was decided to imprison a group of human beings, it would be wrong to believe that madness waited patiently for centuries until some scientists discovered it and took care of it. Likewise, it would be wrong to believe that there was a spontaneous mutation in which the poor, inexplicably and suddenly, went mad.

Imprisoning the victims of a big city was a phenomenon of European dimensions. Once consummated the Great Confinement of which Foucault speaks, the censuses of the time about the prisoners who had not broken the law show the type of people they committed: elderly people who could not take care of themselves, epileptics disowned by their families, deformed people, people with venereal diseases and even those imprisoned by the king’s letters.

The latter was the most widespread confinement procedure since the 1690s, and the petitioners that the king wrote a lettre de cachet were the closest relatives of those imprisoned. The most famous case of imprisonment in the Bastille by lettre de cachet was that of Voltaire. There were cases of foolish or ‘incorrigible girls’ who were interned. ‘Imprudent’ was a label that would correspond more or less to what in the 19th century would be called ‘moral insanity’ and which currently equals the adolescent oppositionalism or ‘defiant negativism’ in the contemporary DSM. I would like to illustrate it with a single case of the 18th century:

A sixteen-year-old woman, whose husband is named Beaudoin, openly claims that she will never love her husband; that there is no law to order her to love him, that everyone is free to dispose of her heart and body as she pleases, and that it is a kind of crime to give one without the other.[6] Although Beaudoin’s woman was considered foolish or crazy, those labels had no medical connotation. The behaviours were perceived under another sky, and confinement was a matter settled between the families and the legal authority without medical intervention.

People who would be committed were considered: ‘dishonest’, ‘idle’, ‘depraved’, ‘sorcerer’, ‘imbecile’, ‘prodigal’, ‘impeded’, ‘alchemist’, ‘unbalanced’, ‘venereal’, ‘libertine’, ‘dissipater’, ‘blasphemous’, ‘ungrateful son’, ‘dissipated father’, ‘prostituted’ and ‘foolish’. In the records it can be read that the internment formulas also used terms such as ‘very evil and cheating man’ or ‘inveterate glutton’. France had to wait until 1785 for a medical order to intervene in the confinement of all these people: a practice that subsequently took shape with Pinel [pic above]. As I have said, moving away from the social norm would bring about the great theme of madness in the 19th century, as we shall see with Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill by the end of this online book. It is from this point that we must understand the classifications of Kraepelin, Bleuler and the DSM of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In our century there are psychiatrists who openly say that ‘suicide is a brain disorder’: a blatantly pseudoscientific pronouncement. In the 17th century the pronouncements were not pseudoscientific yet, such as ‘murderer of himself’, a crime ‘against the divine majesty’ (i.e., the Judeo-Christian god). In the records of commitment for failed suicide attempts the formula used was: ‘s/he wanted to get rid’. It is to those who committed this crime against the Judeo-Christian god that the torture instruments were first applied by 19th-century psychiatrists: cages with an open lid for the head and cabinets that enclosed the subject up to the neck. The transformation from an openly religious trial (‘against the divine majesty’) to the realm of medicine (a purported ‘brain disorder’) was gradual. What is now considered a biomedical disease in the 17th and 18th centuries was understood as extravagant, impious behaviour that endangered the prestige of a specific family.

In the 17th century, for the first time in history, people from very different background were forced to live under the same roof. None of the previous cultures had done something similar or seen similarities between these types of people (venereal, foolish, blasphemous, ungrateful children, sorcerers, prostitutes, etc.). That behind the confinement existed a moralistic judgment is discovered by the fact that people who suffered venereal diseases were locked up—the great evil of the time!—, only if they contracted the disease out of wedlock. Virtuous women infected by their husbands were not at risk of being taken to the General Hospital in Paris.

Homosexuals were locked up in hospitals or detention centres. Any individual who caused a public scandal could be committed. The family, and more specifically the bourgeois family with its demands to keep up appearances, became the rule that defined the confinement of any of its rebellious members. This was the moment in which the dark alliances between parents and psychiatrists that would produce Dr. Amara’s profession would make a deal [I tell the story of psychiatrist Giuseppe Amara, who still lives, earlier in the online book]. Biological psychiatry would have an easy delivery with the gestation of the pair of centuries from the Great Confinement of the 17th century. The origins of the profession called psychiatry today can be traced back to that century.

Throughout the 18th century the confinement of people who did not break the law continued, and by the end of that century the houses of internment were full of ‘blasphemers’. The medieval Inquisition had had power in the south of France, but once the Inquisition was abolished, society found a legal way to control dissidents. It is known the case of a man in Saint-Lazare who was imprisoned for not wanting to kneel in the most solemn moments of the mass (this strategy was also practiced a century before). In the 17th century the unbelievers were considered ‘libertines’. Bonaventure Forcroy wrote a biography about Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary of Jesus who was credited with miracles, and showed with this paradigm that the Gospel stories could also have been fictional. Forcroy was accused of ‘debauchery’ and imprisoned, also in Saint-Lazare.

The imprisonment of pariahs and undesirables was a cultural event that can be traced back to a specific moment in the long history of intolerance of post-Renaissance and post-Reformation Europe. The psychiatric values of Western man were moulded in the 17th and 18th centuries, values that continue to determine the way we see the world.


[1] Quoted in Michel Foucault: Historia de la Locura en la Época Clásica (Volumen I), p. 106.

[2] Edict of Luis XIV, quoted in ibid, p. 81.

[3] Ibid, p. 81s.

[4] Ibid, p. 182.

[5] Ibid, p. 115.

[6] Quoted in ibid, p. 213. It is interesting to compare the encyclopaedic history of so-called madness by Foucault that I’ve paraphrased above, written in opaque prose, with the brief though clear history of psychiatry by Thomas Szasz (e.g., Cruel Compassion: The Psychiatric Control of the Society’s Unwanted, Syracuse University Press, 1998).

Day of Wrath, 17

A critique of Lloyd deMause

Henry Ebel said that in psychohistory Lloyd deMause stands out among his epigones as a locomotive single-handedly tugging those who publish in his journal: all of them moving only thanks to a motor that is not theirs. Ebel had left the congresses of psychohistory even before I knew of their existence. However, no sooner I initiated my study of deMause’s texts I realized that both Ebel and deMause were human. All too human…

A string of nonsensical claims

One of the most cockeyed theories of deMause is that the warfare fantasies of political leaders and the media in times of war reflect childbirth traumas. Even Alice Miller has criticized this specific theory.

Glenn Davis was one of the first disciples of deMause: a young man that committed suicide. When Davis was doing his oral examination for his doctoral thesis, Stanley Renshon, a member of the committee, fired a question at Davis about something he had written following deMause’s theories: “It says in your book, ‘Groups go to war in order to overcome the helplessness and terror of being trapped in a birth canal’.” People laughed all around the table. What I find it fascinating is that, decades after Davis’ suicide, deMause still does not perceive the bad reputation that this sort of theories that he originated cause in his most serious readers.

In the issue of Spring of 2007 the Journal of Psychohistory published “The Conquistador and the Virgin Mary” by Madeleine Gómez. The article is an authentic string of nonsensical claims. According to this psychohistorian, in the Spanish conquest of the empires Mexica and Inca “the birth trauma was reenacted with few variations,” and on the next page she adds that the endeavor to conquer the seas in each exploration voyage is but “attempts to surmount the birth trauma.” After putting Cortés and the rest of the Spaniards as the villains of the story, Madeleine informs us that in the war for Tenochtitlan “the drumbeats in the air” can “easily be associated to the fetal heartbeat.” And writing on the denunciation by Francisco de Aguilar about the Indian sacrifices, she interprets that “it was easier to project upon the other…” That is, if the chronicler is shocked of the sacrifices, that only conceals the projections of his own European wickedness. Summarizing her interpretation of the Conquest, Madeleine writes: “There was arduous time spent in a womb-like mothership, with subsequent rebirth upon reaching shore.” These analytic interpretations remind me the worst nonsense of Freud recounted in my second book. The psychohistorian concludes that the Spaniards were “abusive, devaluing of women and children” without mentioning in the slightest the sacrifices of women and children in Mesoamerica.

Something similar can be said of deMause’s own views about the human placenta, a theory that he calls “The fetal origins of history.” Such importance he gives to this theory that he devoted the cover illustration of his book Foundations of Psychohistory to it. In an email I asked deMause what did he mean with the eight-headed dragon that appears on the cover. DeMause informed me that there were seven heads (the drawing is ambiguous), “a placental beast” that he relates with terrifying unconscious motivations.
Satanic Ritual Abuse

The confusion of my feelings about deMause—lucubration such as those are psychobabble but deMause’s discoveries potentially could be a great lighthouse for the humanities—moved me to annotate each cognitive error I encountered in his legacy.

In 1994 deMause devoted more than a whole issue of his journal to one of the scandals originated in his country that destroyed the reputation of many innocent adults: claims of multiple victims, multiple perpetrators during occult rites in daycare centers for children, known as “Satanic Ritual Abuse” or SRA. I was so intrigued by the subject that, when I read deMause’s article “Why Cults Terrorize and Kill Children” I devoted a few months of my life to research the subject by reading, printing and discussing in the internet (texts that would fill up the thickest ring-binder that I possess). I also purchased a copy of a book on SRA published by Princeton University. My objective was to ascertain whether the man whom I had been taking as a sort of mentor had gone astray. My suspicions turned out to be justified, and even worse: by inviting the foremost believers of SRA to publish in his journal, deMause directly contributed to the creation of an urban myth.

The collective hysteria known as SRA originated with the publication of a 1980 sensationalist book, Michelle Remembers. Michelle claimed that Satan himself appeared to her and wounded her body, but that an archangel healed it. In the mentioned article deMause wrote credulous passages about other fantastic claims by Michelle, and added that the people who ran certain daycare centers in the 1980s put the children in boxes and cages “as symbolic wombs.” DeMause then speculated that “they hang them upside down, the position of fetuses” and that “they drink victim’s blood as fetuses ‘drink’ placental blood,” in addition to force children to “drink urine” and “eat feces as some do during birth.” DeMause also referred to secret tunnels that, he wrote, existed beneath the daycare centers: “They often hold their rituals in actual tunnels.” In fact, those tunnels never existed. In Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Ritual Abuse in History, published in 2006, professor David Frankfurter wrote about deMause’s article: “In this way a contemporary writer can assemble a theory of ritual power to explain rituals that have no forensic evidence.”

This is the sort of thing that, in Wikipedia’s talk page about psychohistory, culminates with rants like the one that I rescued before another editor deleted it: “Don’t ever listen to this lunatic!” (deMause). It is true that Colin Ross is another gullible believer of SRA, as seen in a book that includes an afterword where Elizabeth Loftus disagrees with him. But since the mid-1990s the SRA phenomenon was discredited to such degree that sociologists, criminologists and police officials recognized what it was: a witch-hunt that led to prison and ruined the lives of many innocent adults. The movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial, sponsored by Oliver Stone and based on the most notorious of these hunts, sums up what I mean. Using invasive techniques for adults in the interrogation of little kids, the therapists of the McMartin case and other kindergartens obtained confessions full of fantasies: that the children had been abducted and taken through a network of tunnels to a hidden cave under the school; that they flew in the air and saw giraffes, lions and the killing of a rabbit to be returned to their unsuspecting parents in the daycare center. Kyle Zirpolo was one of the McMartin children. At twenty-nine in 2005, several years after the trial, Zirpolo confessed to reporters that as a child he had been pressured to lie:

Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted… I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do.

In its heyday in the 1980s and early 90s, and in some ways similar to the Salem witch trials of 1692, SRA allegations reached grotesque levels. Proponents argued that an intergenerational group of families raised and kidnapped babies and children in an international conspiracy that had infiltrated the police and the professions of lawyers and doctors. Conspiracy theorists claimed that the FBI and the CIA were involved to discredit the veracity of the phenomenon. The allegations ranged from brainwashing and necrophilia, kidnapping, sexual abuse and child pornography, to black masses and ritual killings of animals and thousands of people every year. In the McMartin case they talked about children washed away when the perpetrator pulled the toilet chain taking them to hidden rooms where they would be molested; orgies in carwash business, and even flying witches. Needless to say, no forensic evidence was found to support such claims.

After the legal catastrophe that McMartin and several other cases represented, small children have not been questioned with the aggressive techniques that led them to fantasize so wildly. Nowadays there is no witch-hunting going on in the US, Britain or Australia caused by coercive techniques of fanatics that induce either false memories or outright lies (like Zirpolo’s) to please therapist and parent. However, despite the consensus in sociology and criminology of the new century—that the SRA was a case of moral panic from which there is no forensic evidence—deMause did not change his mind. The work that describes his thinking more broadly, The Emotional Life of Nations, published in 2002 and translated to German, contains a brief passage where he still regards SRA as something real.

Revisiting Zweig

I do not regret having compared deMause with Newton in a previous chapter. In the days when deMause disappointed me I watched the film The New World starring Colin Farrell and Christopher Plummer. It bothered me greatly the myth of the noble savage when Farrell’s voice in off says the following about an idyllic village of American Indians:

They are gentle, loving, faithful, lacking in all guile and trickery. The words denoting lying, deceit, greed, envy, slander, and forgiveness have never been heard. They have no jealousy, no sense of possession. Real, what I thought a dream.

At that moment Farrell plays with a few naked, happy Indian children outdoors. Of course, the historic reality was not so bucolic. Remember the photo of the little Indian boy swaddled by their parents in this book? This was a very common practice among those tribes. I felt Hollywood’s falsifying of reality so insulting that I left the theatre. Psychohistory also made me reconcile with Spain after almost a lifetime of hating her because of the conservative culture of my family which had hurt me so much as a boy. I owe much to deMause for having awakened me to the fact that the earlier Amerindian culture was incomparably more brutal, both for children and for adults.

Isaac Newton is the paradigm par excellence of scientific genius. He invented calculus, discovered the law of gravity, enumerated the laws of motion and showed that light is a mixture of colors. His findings not only revolutionized physics but also finally cracked down the pedestal on which Europe had Aristotle. Europe discovered her genius in Newton: a psychoclass comparable to that of the best Greek minds began to evolve in the 17th century.

The self-esteem that the European scientific mind recovered after Newton is difficult to overestimate. But very few know that after his third year of life Isaac’s mother abandoned him to the house of the grandmother: something that borders on what deMause calls the “abandoning mode” of childrearing. Newton’s biographers know that the child suffered this betrayal greatly. In order to burn his agony, in his early twenties he turned his mind into science. At twenty-six Newton had already discovered all of the mentioned above and even more. However, since at that time there were no survivor forums to vent the anger he felt for his mother and stepfather, Newton suffered a severe depression.

When he recovered he lost his mind: he dedicated the rest of his life to alchemy and fundamentalist theology. His manuscripts on these topics sum millions of words: incomparably more than the Principia Mathematica that Newton had written in his youth. He collected a hundred and fifty books on alchemy and tried to turn metal into gold. Newton “always believed in a personal God—nothing like the God of Spinoza—; in the literal narrative of Adam and Eve, the existence of the devil and in hell.” From this fundamentalist point of view Newton estimated the age of the world in some 3,500 years before his age and invested a huge amount of time to interpret the books of Daniel and the Revelation of John. He thought he had cracked the cipher of both books just as he had deciphered the laws of planetary motion. “It is sad,” writes Martin Gardner, “to envision the discoveries in mathematics and physics Newton might have made if his great intellect had not been diverted by such bizarre speculations.” When Newton died, it was found in his body large amounts of mercury: a poisoning resulting from his alchemical experiments.

However, the difference between Newton and deMause is considerable. Unlike Newton, deMause blended his brilliant Principia to his lunatic Alchimia under the same covers. DeMause’s major works where he did not collaborate with other authors, Foundations of Psychohistory, The Emotional Life of Nations and The Origins of War in Child Abuse are a mixture of historical science with pseudoscience; unprecedented discoveries about the history of the human soul with gross lunacies. Like Newton, deMause was terribly abused as a child. On page 136 of his journal, in the Fall 2007 issue he confesses that when his father beat him with a razor strap, as a way to escape he hallucinated that he floated to the ceiling. And on the first page of Foundations deMause writes: “I, like Hitler, have been a beaten, frightened child and a resentful youth. I recognize him in myself, and with some courage can feel in my own guts the terrors he felt…” The key phrase in this passage is “some courage,” not the full courage that I now discharge across my books. After that line of Foundations deMause’s soul disappears and his theories à la Newton appear: his brilliant insights eye to eye with his string of nonsensical claims.

From the point of view of the psychogenesis that he himself discovered, deMause’s main error is the error of psychoanalysts. Losing his mind was due to the fact that he failed to delve deeper into the wounds of his inner self. DeMause’s work, inspired by political sociology and analytical treatises, worships the intellect at the expense of autobiographical insight. One objective of this work [Hojas Susurrantes] is to break away from this intellectual limitation and unconfessional, academic literature.

Half a century before the publication of Julian Jayne’s book, Stefan Zweig wrote in Adepts in Self-Portraiture that when Western literature began with Hesiod and Heraclitus it was still poetry, and of the inevitability of a decline in the mythopoetic talent of Greece when a more Aristotelian thought evolved. As compensation for this loss, says Zweig, modern man obtained with the novel an approach to a science of the mind. But the novel genre does not represent the ultimate degree of self-knowledge:

Autobiography is the hardest of all forms of literary art. Why, then, do new aspirants, generation after generation, try to solve this almost insoluble problem?

[For a] honest autobiography […] he must have a combination of qualities which will hardly be found once in a million instances. To expect perfect sincerity in self-portraiture would be as absurd as to expect absolute justice, freedom, and perfection here on earth. No doubt the pseudo-confession, as Goethe called it, confession under the rose, in the diaphanous veil of novel or poem, is much easier, and is often far more convincing from the artistic point of view, than an account with no assumption of reserve. Autobiography, precisely because it requires, not truth alone, but naked truth, demands from the artist an act of peculiar heroism; for the autobiographer must play the traitor to himself.

Only a ripe artist, one thoroughly acquainted with the workings of the mind, can be successful here. This is why psychological self-portraiture has appeared so late among the arts, belonging exclusively to our own days and those yet to come. Man had to discover continents, to fathom his seas, to learn his language, before he could turn his gaze inward to explore the universe of his soul. Classical antiquity had as yet no inkling of these mysterious paths. Caesar and Plutarch, the ancients who describe themselves, are content to deal with facts, with circumstantial happenings, and never dream of showing more than the surface of their hearts.[…]

Many centuries were to pass before Rousseau (that remarkable man who was a pioneer in so many fields) was to draw a self-portrait for its own sake, and was to be amazed and startled at the novelty of his enterprise. Stendhal, Hebbel, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Amiel, the intrepid Hans Jaeger, have disclosed unsuspected realms of self-knowledge by self-portraiture. Their successors, provided with more delicate implements of research, will be able to penetrate stratum by stratum, room by room, farther and yet farther into our new universe, into the depths of the human mind.

This long quote explains why I decided to devise a hybrid genre between the self-portraiture that betrays the author and penetrates beyond the strata pondered by Romantic autobiographers, while, at the same time, presents a unified field for the findings of Alice Miller and Lloyd deMause.

Playing the fool

So far I have focused my criticism on the crank aspects of Lloyd’s legacy. In the remainder of the chapter I will discuss, in addition to the psychohistorians’ crackpot ideas, their moral faults.

It is not apparent that Lloyd has read Tom Szasz or other very well known critics of Sigmund Freud. This is fundamental for a true psychohistory. As we saw in the discussion of Ark, there are two camps in depth psychology: the deniers of the after-effects of psychological trauma who can be traced back to Freud, and those who recognize it, led by Alice Miller.

Unlike Ark, deMause never broke completely away from his psychoanalytic roots. The logo of his website has the symbol of a globe on an analyst’s couch, and the written presentation of the International Psychohistorical Association mentions the pioneering work of Freud, Reich and Fromm, informing us that psychohistorians come from many fields, including psychoanalysis and psychiatry. It is true that deMause is anything but an orthodox psychoanalyst, but it is extremely annoying that he mentions Freud while ignoring the amount of criticism that has been written about him. As we have seen [I refer to a chapter in Hojas Susurrantes], Freud took sides with the parents against their children, while deMause presents himself to his readers as a defender of children.

The lack of the most basic knowledge about the critics of Freudism makes deMause write about claims that have been abandoned. For example, Freud’s vision of Leonardo da Vinci has been refuted decades ago. On page 173 of Foundations of Psychohistory deMause candidly mentions the Freudian study of da Vinci as if the ongoing refutations had never been published. It is important to mention that when deMause was going to graduate, in his youthful infatuation with psychoanalysis he wanted to insert Freudian ideas in his doctorate of political science. It is understandable that his tutors at Columbia University prevented it. DeMause never obtained his doctorate. Many years later, in the article “The Universality of Incest” deMause even sided Freud against Alice Miller and the most articulate critic of Freud, Jeffrey Masson. Since after 1897 Freud dismissed his original discovery, that some parents sexually abused their daughters, deMause’s position is contradictory.

DeMause’s moral errors are even more worrying when we see his stance on contemporary child psychiatry. How appropriate to quote the key passages of my correspondence with him. In one of my e-mails of March 2006, I wrote:

In your country the psychiatrists hired by the parents are abusing millions of children and teenagers. Even before the advent of drugs in the 20th-century psychiatry had routinely tortured children on behalf of their parents. My quest for your back issues [of the Journal of Psychohistory] has to do with something that very much puzzles me. Have you or the journal contributors exposed this kind of traumatogenic mode of childrearing [i.e., child psychiatry]?

DeMause, who over the years has answered almost all of my e-mails, did not answer this one. Three days later I wrote him again:

I don’t want to press you on a point that you seem reluctant to discuss. I just want to thank you for your work, which I believe will prove to be the most significant in the study of history.

Playing the fool, deMause replied:

I just don’t know anything about what psychiatrists do to patients. I’m not a psychiatrist. Sorry.

“Patients” is Newspeak for sane children in conflict with their parents. I gathered from deMause’s response that no article about the crimes committed by psychiatry with children and adolescents had been published in his journal [the sort of crimes reported in my second book of Hojas Susurrantes].

The funny thing is that we could easily use deMause’s statements against him. He wrote: “Every childrearing practice in traditional societies around the globe betrays a profound lack of empathy toward one’s children,” and a couple of pages later he gives an example: “The use of opium on infants goes back to ancient Egypt, where the Ebers papyrus tells parents: ‘It acts at once’.” But this is precisely what psychotropic drugs like Ritalin do to children not in the distant and exotic Egypt, but in the city where deMause lives!

When I realized that deMause was not going to read the literature on the psychiatric abuse of children that I recommended in another of my e-mails, I knew that sooner or later I would have to publish a critique. And incidentally: the page 166 of The Emotional Life deMause swallows the pseudoscientific propaganda that depression is due to a lack of serotonin. Similarly, the psychohistorian Robert Godwin wrote in one of his articles that some people need to ingest psychoactive drugs; and Henry Ebel commended Melanie Klein, the notorious analyst who blamed infants for projections from their parents, as Jeffrey Masson and Alice Miller have so cogently argued.

At the left of Chomsky

In Foundations of Psychohistory deMause wrote:

Our conclusion is that Jimmy Carter—for reasons rooted both in his own personality and in the powerful emotional demands of American fantasy—is very likely to lead us into a new war by 1979.

This is a pretty crazy statement. Foundations was published in 1982. Having had the opportunity to mature the lesson given to him by history, deMause did not retract when his prophecy about Carter, who left the White House in 1981 behaving like a dove before the Iranian crisis, was not fulfilled. What is this: publishing in all seriousness a prophecy refuted by history? It exposes a man completely trapped in his own theory. Also, in The Emotional Life of Nations deMause blinded himself before the threat that Cuba and the Soviet Union represented during the missile crisis. Without taking seriously the threat of nuclear annihilation that these missiles posed to his own country, deMause psychoanalyzed Kennedy’s actions as a case that he unraveled: a psychological reductionism as kooky as what his disciple Madeleine wrote about Cortés.

DeMause went back to his old ways in his latest book, The Origins of War in Child Abuse, first published in his journal, where he psychoanalyzes the 1835-1836 war that his country waged against Mexico to annex the territory of Texas. He also interprets with his bizarre theories the US intervention in the two world wars and continues to speculate on those lines about the wars in Korea and Vietnam. But his followers surpass him. But his followers surpass him. The Fall 2007 issue of the Journal of Psychohistory published an article by Robert McFarland in which the author endorses the most lunatic theories that the US government orchestrated the attacks of September 11, and in the Spring 2008 issue Matt Everett uses quite a few pages of the journal to continue to promote the conspiratorial paranoia. This continued in the Journal of Psychohistory of Spring 2009 and in a book review of the Fall issue of that year. His journal is located at the left of Noam Chomsky, who at least has had enough sanity to dismiss conspiracy theories such as 9/11. In short, deMause reduces all international politics to fantastic speculations. No wonder that after the initial success of the one of his books free of nonsense—The History of Childhood, published in 1974, that sold thousands of copies in several languages—, the wrong turn deMause and his followers took has disappointed the vast majority of his readers, so much so that in a 2010 audio interview deMause acknowledges: “I dropped from 6,000 to 800 subscribers of my journal.” But of deMause’s colleagues among whom, I suppose, many are Jews, there is something much more sinister than all that.

The psychohistorians and the hatred of the West

It is striking that, except the articles by deMause himself, many articles in the Journal of Psychohistory have little if anything to do with the original psychohistory. As I said, the original psychohistory tells us that non-Western cultures are more barbarous than ours. Conversely, the Journal of Psychohistory of Winter of 2009 contains an article by Arno Gruen praising the Pawnee Indians without mentioning how they treat children (Gruen even talks of “the white invasion”). The Summer 2009 issue of the journal published a much worse article, “The European-American psychosis” by Frederick Hickling: a diatribe against the West and the white people. From the perspective called transcultural psychiatry, Hickling calls the war of Cortés in Mexico as “delusion of genocidal eradication” ignoring that extermination was never the intention of the Spanish, proof that pure whites are now a tiny minority in Mexico. (Hickling misspells the name of the conqueror, a very common error in those ignorant of the topic, as “Cortez.”) But he does quote Bartolomé de Las Casas accepting the blackest interpretation of the Black Legend: that the Spanish murdered millions of Indians on purpose. Hickling thus minimizes the real cause of the diminution of the native population in the 16th century: the epidemics upon which the natives had no antibodies. The Europe of that century was called “the racist European formation,” and using inflammatory rhetoric Hickling writes of “the European ruthless viciousness to indigenous people in the Americas and in Polynesia,” and calls the European wars in the New World in the 17th century “the delusion of White Supremacy.” And he says something similar about the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, with expressions like “colossal theft of Africa by Europe.” Writing about contemporary Islamic terrorists, Hickling puts quotation marks to the word “terrorists,” and he quotes Marxist revolutionary Frantz Fanon as he writes of “freedom fighters.” Hickling, a professor of psychiatry in Jamaica, goes so far as to suggest that it is possible to apply the concept of delusion “to a race or civilization” as a whole, referring to the white race and Western civilization.

Hickling is not alone. The same 2009 issue of Journal of Psychohistory contains the article “Some Thoughts on Psychoclasses and Zeitgeist.” Christian Lackner, one of the two authors of the article, translated into German deMause’s The Emotional Life of Nations. Following the most progressive political trends the article by Lackner and Juha Siltala welcome the European Union and praise the profile of the new European psychoclass of males as “androgynes” (sic) for whom war is old history. The gem of the article is that it ends by conceding that “the demographic picture” with such androgynous males must result in that “the population of Europe will eventually die out” without having it for something bad, or a demographic suicide against which we must fight.

DeMause and his little journal have reached their nadir with this issue: pure evil. These pair of articles are not the only of their kind. Other issues of the Journal of Psychohistory idealize the black Obama, and what is worse, the journal does not say a word about the dangers that the growing Islamization of Europe represent for what they themselves, the psychohistorians, call the “helping mode of childrearing.” Alarmed, when I was living in Europe, I sent deMause an e-mail asking what he thought of the Islamization of Scandinavia. He answered me once more by playing the imbecile, saying that Nordics “are helping their children.”

The sin against the holy ghost

The migration of Muslims into Europe in recent decades illustrates what is an encounter of psychoclasses. Instead of the chosen example—the encounter between Europeans and Amerindians—, the ongoing clash of psychoclasses with the millions of immigrants could have been the paradigm of this book.

But the Islamization of Europe in the 21st century is only the most conspicuous tip of the iceberg. The current group fantasy among westerners is genocidal self-hatred. Demography is destiny. But the West has lost its appetite for life, as seen in the ever-shrinking birthrates of whites. At this rate there will be no replacement for the white people in the coming generations. Westerners do not believe anymore in they ethnicity; in heterosexual marriage, or in their civilization as they still believed when my parents were young. An overreaction against the two great wars appears to have metamorphosed them into pods, as in the movie of the 1950s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Their most unforgivable sin has been their handing over their lands to millions of non-Caucasian immigrants.

Massive Third World migration into the United States, Europe and Australia, promoted by Western governments, is the highest betrayal to one’s own people ever perpetrated in history. While the scenario might remind us the hostile takeover of Rome by a Levantine cult, it is infinitely worse. Constantine may have surrendered the empire to the bishops, dragging it straight into the Middle Ages, but no explicit anti-white exterminationist program was implemented by him and his successors; the program was implicit. In contrast, in the West of today massive numbers of non-whites are being imported at the same time with the demographic decline of the native population: an explicit, anti-white exterminationist program.

This is the most important issue of anything we can imagine: even more important than the child advocacy understood in terms of all races, the theme of this book. If Hyperboreans disappeared, my thirst to fight in the resulting mongrelized culture would die out. It would be a Neanderthalesque regression from my most cherished ideals. Think of the most beautiful female specimens of the Aryan race, for example the painting Lady Violet on the cover of The Fair Race’s Darkest Hour. What whites are doing to themselves is the real sin against the holy spirit of life: placing the very crown of evolution on the path to extinction.

Just as in the past the infanticidal psychoclass sacrificed their children in times of great prosperity, a phenomenon that deMause has called “growth panic,” a mad generation—including deMause’s—, indoctrinated in anti-white racism, sacrifices the future of their children; their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren… Large numbers of abortions and intercourse with condoms or pills—and mixing their blood with non-whites!—can only mean that an ethnic group is committing suicide. Westerners have decided to erase their history, culture, identity and what is most valuable: their genetic capital.

Such self-destruct ethos reminds me the determined campaign of destruction that, in my family, my mother led when she fell sized with panic before her thriving teenager. Like my parents with me in our beloved home of Palenque [the subject of my other books], reaching the height of its prosperity the West succumbs to unconscious forces turned into a monster which etiology nobody seems to know, not even the readers of Alice Miller, let alone the psychohistorians.

The objective of Day of Wrath is to present to the racialist community my philosophy of The Four Words on how to eliminate all unnecessary suffering. If life allows, next month I will reproduce another chapter. Day of Wrath is available: here.

On the Turin Shroud, 5

Imagine my surprise when, leafing through a book (pic above) on the Shroud of Turin in a Houston bookshop, I came across some pages in which they spoke of a writing of mine whose paranormal theories I no longer believed:

Some see the origin of the image on the Shroud as paranormal, rather than miraculous. They suggest that supernatural, rather than Divine, forces may be at work. Mexican parapsychologist [C.T.] has raised the possibility that the image is a ‘thoughtograph’. There is evidence—controversial, but not easily dismissed—that some psychics can create recognizable images on film by the power of thought alone. The most famous case is that of Ted Serios, an alcoholic Chicago bellhop, whose abilities were studied intensively in the mid-1960s by the eminent researcher Jule Eisenbud. If it exists, the ability of the mind to affect the highly sensitive chemicals of photographic film would seem to be a natural variant of psychokinesis (PK)—the alteration of the state of a physical object by mental influence alone—as exhibited most famously by Uri Geller.

[C.T.] [1] points to a similar phenomenon, that of images appearing spontaneously on the walls and floors of buildings. He cites a well­documented case from the 1920s, when the image of the late Dean John Liddell appeared on a wall of Oxford Cathedral. Such pictures are usually of people of special sanctity, but not always…

The rest of the quotation appears here: a blog of mine for Turin Shroud matters (I won’t post again, at The West’s Darkest Hour, shroud-related articles).

Published in: on May 27, 2018 at 8:24 pm  Comments (1)  

On the Turin Shroud, 4

One of the problems with pseudosciences is that, to refute them, almost a career in refutation is required. When in November of 1989 the group of sceptics known then as CSICOP visited Mexico City, I was completely lost in the paranormal. However, unlike people in general I always had a predisposition for honesty, in the sense of being able to change my worldview if coming across facts and solid arguments based on facts.

The visit of CSICOP to the city where I live changed me in many ways. The sceptic who had published a critical book on the Shroud, Joe Nickell, had been unable to come. But for the first time I spoke with the professional critics of parapsychology: two academic psychologists whose hobby was to read all the important journals of parapsychology, and publish their critique in specialized journals. It was because of their work that I learned the enormous amount of dedication that the refutation of a single pseudoscience, such as parapsychology, requires.

But the problems do not end with finding a couple of motivated sceptics. Their criticism may be true, but the popularization of the criticism was difficult to divulge, especially previous to the Internet. In 1989, for example, the Skeptical Inquirer was only sold by subscription, a smaller magazine and more pleasant in its reading than what is currently sold in newspaper stands. Very few knew the work of Nickell and other sceptics on the Shroud. What the market wants are the paranormal claims big time; not taking the sweets away from children. Consider this candy for example:

Jerusalem, Friday before Passover, c. AD 30. The body of a crucified man lay on a slab in a rock-hewn tomb just outside the city walls. It had been placed there by Joseph Arimathea, a secret disciple of the man Jesus, and Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin who brought a large amount of spices to be placed in the folds of a new linen shroud. Joseph placed a great stone in front of the tomb and left in a hurry as the Sabbath was fast approaching.

Sometime during the following night and before the first glimmers of dawn of the first day of the new week, there was a quick flash of blinding light. The stone before the tomb was jarred away; the body vanished, but on the slab remained the Shroud with strange images of the man some called the Son of God.

The passage was not written by a believing sindonologist, but by a sceptic portraying what believers want to hear. With that paragraph David Sox opened the first chapter of his book The Shroud Unmasked, published immediately after the Carbon 14 tests revealed that the relic had been manufactured in the Middle Ages. However, this is where you see the huge advantage that believers have over sceptics in a market society.

Scepticism does not sell. What sells well are sweets for adults who are still children.

The copy I have of Sox’s book, which I read in 1989, is made of cheap paper. If we compare it with the elegant books of Ian Wilson, with whom Sox worked closely, Sox’s book seems, at first glance, extremely modest. Nonetheless, despite the quality of the paper and the covers, given that Sox does not violate Occam’s razor his books are more relevant to understanding the relic of Turin than those of his popular colleague.[1]

I am tempted to rephrase what Sox says in The Shroud Unmasked but here I would just like to quote, in addition to the passage above, the first paragraph of the introduction:

There were times when I thought I’d never live to see the day the Turin Shroud faced its obvious test. The road to carbon dating has been long, contentious and convoluted. There are those who will not appreciate mine and other’s efforts to have this test. That’s their problem.

When you open Pandora’s Box, you have to be prepared for whatever comes out. I have always wondered why many so fascinated with the Shroud mystery were afraid to see the end of the story.

This volume explores the road to the test, and recognises there is undoubtedly more yet to come in the Shroud story. At least now that the identification of the cloth with the historical Jesus has been removed, the new sleuths into the mystery can be more objective than most observers have been in the past.

Update of 21 May 2018: Further thoughts about the relic, and the correspondence that a real scientist addressed to me, will appear: here.


[1] Wilson violates it by lucubrating a hidden history of the shroud from the 1st century until its actual appearance in the Middle Ages, as we shall see.