‘Patients are only riffraff’—Freud


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

 

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

—Al Siebert [1]

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

—Harvey Jackins [2]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The four daughters got mad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[7] Ibid.

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

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

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Published in: on January 18, 2019 at 12:01 am  Comments (5)  
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The hammer of the victims

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:
 

This quotation explains perfectly why the so-called mental health professions have so much power in our societies:

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. —Alexis de Tocqueville [1]

Since psychiatrists and psychoanalysts diagnose people who are actually victims of insulting environments, their fundamental postulate is precisely to deny what they are. In psychiatric Newspeak the expression ‘victim of the environment’ has been eliminated; the aetiology of any disorder has to be looked for in the reign of the somatic. By doing this it is methodologically impossible that the profession will blame the parents even in cases of flagrant physical, sexual or emotional abuse toward the children (schizophrenogenic emotional abuse was what Helfgott and Modrow suffered). Thus psychiatry carries out an important function: to exonerate the family, the cell of civilisation, of the devastation manifested in the children.

Civil society lives in denial too. It doesn’t want to see that inside its most sacred institution maddening abuses exist on its most vulnerable members: children and adolescents. Both present-day university professions and civil society are as ignorant and superstitious of this situation as the Middle Ages was about diseases caused by microorganisms.

Voltaire saw the learned inquisitors as what they were—instead of diagnosing as ‘heretics’ the persons that the Inquisition tortured and murdered. Henceforth his call Écrasez l’infame! against the church, with which he annotated his liberating letters.

Nowadays the therapeutic state took over the labour of social control of the theocratic state. The call Écrasez l’infame!—Crush the infamy!—can be no more pertinent to refer to a profession that tortures and murders souls of children through psychological re-victimizations and handicapping drugs.

The studying of perpetrators is a revaluation of values of psychiatry: a new science that in lieu of hammering the victims it studies the perpetrators, or simply perps. In this revaluation of all psychiatric values science has to re-orient itself to the study of maddening parents (cf. Helfgott’s life), re-victimizing psychiatrists (cf. Breggin), charlatans who call themselves analysts (cf. Masson), and the civil struggle to abolish the therapeutic state (cf. Szasz).

In addition to these lines of investigation and struggle, my dream is that the study of perps will eventually include a new type of literature to reclaim for biographers and autobiographers the study of the human soul which was usurped by politicians that people call psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and clinical psychologists (psychiatry, psychoanalysis and clinical psychology are pseudosciences). One of the paradigms of this new literature is the study by John Modrow, who contributed to solving the mystery of why some adolescents get mad (in psychiatric Newspeak, ‘schizophrenia’) if subjected to parental abuse and psychiatric re-victimization.

If this new kind of vindictive autobiography doesn’t develop in the future, the true study of the human psyche will stagnate. The Lithuanian poet Czeslaw Milosz, Nobel laureate in 1980, has said that events such as the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and even the Trench Warfare of WW1 were not autobiographically recalled in a satisfactory way, independently of the fact that historians have written entire libraries about those events. [2]

The same can be said of the absent autobiographies of the victims of our society. Hundreds of thousands of Doras didn’t recall literarily their testimonies. Brilliant politicians like Eugen Bleuler and Freud took their words out of their mouths and spoke in their names. Hersilie Rouy, Julie La Roche, Modrow and a few others are the exceptions.

__________

[1] Alexis de Tocqueville, quoted in W.H. Auden and L. Kronenberger (eds.), The Viking book of aphorisms: a personal selection (Dorset Press, 1981), p. 297, quoted in a lecture by Thomas Szasz presented in the Foucault Symposium in Berlin University, May 1998.

[2] Czeslaw Milosz in La experiencia de la libertad/3: la palabra liberada (Espejo de Obsidiana Ediciones, 1991), pp. 102f.

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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.

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[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 labelled orphan

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:
 

‘And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless and
the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place’. —Jeremiah [1]

Some readers may be under the impression that I overstated my case with my hypothetical Dora—not Freud’s real Dora, the subject of another chapter—by claiming that psychiatrists are the hammer of the victims. To clear that impression away I will quote the testimony of John Bell: a boy who, like my Dora, was hammered by psychiatrists. Bell’s testimony was published in Speaking Our Minds, an English anthology of survivors of psychiatry:

There is a saying that goes, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’. Yet there is one name that has caused me more pain and unhappiness that goes beyond imagination. And not only the name but all that went with it. The name in question is ‘schizophrenic’.

Three days before Christmas 1968, my father died from cancer. Five weeks later, my mother followed him. In a very short space of time I had gone from being a happy, carefree schoolboy to an orphan. I had only just turned 14 at the time. I went to stay with an uncle until arrangements could be made for me to be fostered or adopted.

Unfortunately, it never got to that stage. On the way home from school one day I was knocked off my pushbike by a car. As a result, I was admitted to hospital with severe concussion. After a week I was discharged. I then started to get attacks of anxiety. This, I have been told, is quite common after having a concussion.

My GP did not think so at the time and so passed me over to a psychiatrist. After a long talk with the psychiatrist, he said that I would be safer in a hospital. When he told me which hospital, I refused point blank. This was the place that my mother had referred to as Cotford Lunatic Asylum, the place they put people who were mad or insane. I knew the place as Tone Vale Mental Hospital.

Anyway, the psychiatrist issued me with some drugs which he said would help me. In fact, they did the opposite. The effects of these drugs were quite horrific and as a result I ended up in another hospital where some tests, including a lumbar puncture, were carried out.

In September 1969 I was taken to the Tone Vale and the only reason I was given was that they wished to discharge me from the hospital and I had no place to go except Tone Vale. The truth of it is that the psychiatrist had told my uncle that he suspected I had schizophrenia and that I would be safer in Tone Vale.

This was the start of events which devastated my life.

At Tone Vale there is a special unit called Merryfield. Because of my age I should have gone to that unit. Instead, I was placed in the main hospital, which, I can tell you, was a very terrifying experience. I knew that there was nothing wrong with me, that I did not need to be in a mental hospital, but I’m afraid I was the only one who saw it that way.

For the next seven months I went through hell. It was no use trying to talk to the nurses as all they did was mock me. My uncle took the trouble to visit me now and sign, but they always knew when he was coming and so the dose of Largactil was upped to a level that I was unable to stand up.

On more than one occasion I was beaten up by nurses. They actually enjoyed doing it. And when they used to tell me that nobody would believe me, they were right. Like the charge nurse once said to me, ‘Who is going to believe anyone in a mental hospital. We just put it down to you being ill. Tell people if you want but they are not going to take any notice’. I tried to tell my uncle what they did to me once, but the charge nurse was right, he didn’t believe a word of it. And as a result, I was given a shot of Paraldehyde.

The worst thing that I suffered in that first seven months is something that I have done my best to hide all these years. I was sexually abused by another patient one night. And when he had finished, he threw me onto the floor and kicked the living hell out of me. And a nurse just stood there and laughed.

My lucky break came when the Chief Medical Superintendent went on holiday. The doctor who stood in for him called me into the office one day. She told me that a mental hospital was no place for a boy of my age and as she could see nothing wrong with me, she discharged me there and then.

What I thought was the end of it all was just a break. A social worker was called in to take me back to my uncle’s house. When I showed up he was horrified. He made it clear he wasn’t prepared to have a schizophrenic in his house. Everybody else shared the same view. Not one single person wanted to know me.

My mind could take no more and so I stole a motorbike and rode it straight into a brick wall. I just wanted to die. There was nothing left to live for. I was alone in a big, cruel world and with the threat of having to return to Tone Vale. How I survived I am told is a miracle. I made a right mess of myself. I really wish I had not survived—it would have saved me from what was to come next.

I was taken back to Tone Vale under Section 25 of the Mental Health Act 1959. Before the end of the twenty-eight days [stipulated by law] were up I was handed a piece of paper stating that I was being detained under Section 26 and the diagnosis was ‘schizophrenia’. I was then taken to the back of the hospital and placed on a locked ward. It was put to me by the charge nurse of this ward that the only way I would leave it was when they transferred me to the geriatric ward below or in a coffin.

There were seventy patients on this ward and it was impossible to talk to any of them. Their minds had been destroyed. I saw some of those poor buggers get ECT neat. No doctor present either. I fell victim to it twice. Hardly a day went by when I didn’t get beaten by a nurse. But that’s it. They weren’t nurses. They were keepers. Some of the things that went on are unbelievable.

One day, I was taken down to see the Chief Medical Superintendent in his office. He told me that my condition was worsening and that they were considering giving me a small operation which he assured me would make me feel a lot better. On the way back to the ward my escort of two nurses delighted in showing me the operating room where he would ‘fix’ my brain.

It’s fair to say that the [municipal kennel] treats stray dogs better than I was treated by the nurses on Hood Ward. After two years I was released from Tone Vale. It would take far too long to say how, but I can tell you that it was by the skin of my teeth.

The fact that I had been labelled a schizophrenic has destroyed my life ever since. Everything that I have ever wanted to do has been ruined by that one word and the fact that I was detained in a mental hospital as a youngster. Employment, for example—people are reluctant to work with you when they find out; they feel threatened.

What happened to me years ago did a lot of damage—damage that can never be repaired or reversed. They took everything away from me. My youth. My rights as a human being. My dignity and self-respect. But the one thing that I did manage to hang onto was my mind, which is why for the past eighteen years I have fought so hard to prove that I was wronged. I fought so hard that I could take no more and became very ill—so ill, that in June 1990 I was once more admitted to Tone Vale, the place I swore I would never end up again. Back to the scene of the crime, as one nurse put it.

But it was worth going back. Why? Because the answers that I had been searching for, for so long, I got in the one place on this earth I never dreamed of—the place responsible in the first place. I was amazed at how much the place had changed over the past eighteen years. The building is still the same, but the methods of nursing have changed, and for the better I am glad to say.

The ward that I was on years ago is closed and boarded up now. What did surprise me is that they went to the trouble of getting it opened for a short while so that I could go up with the hope of laying some ghosts to rest. If nothing else, it certainly stirred up my emotions. It filled me with anger to think that so many lives were ruined on that ward.

My other major surprise was that during a meeting with my psychiatrist, Dr Hunt, he told me that he could find no evidence that I was schizophrenic, that the diagnosis of schizophrenia was made in error and that he would give me a letter to this effect. All the staff was amazed, as they told me there is no way that Dr Hunt would do this, but he did. I have been told by numerous people in the medical profession that this is a first. It means so much to me, because I no longer have to prove that I never suffered from schizophrenia. But it still doesn’t justify what happened and how it has ruined my life ever since. Nobody can give me back what I have lost.

While I was in Tone Vale last year, it was suggested that I write a book which I am in the process of doing. I need to write this book—not just for myself but for all those others who couldn’t tell their story, how they were destroyed, how they never got a chance. Getting it published is my only problem. I don’t know how to go about it. I intend to carry on fighting as well—fighting for better conditions for those diagnosed ‘mentally ill’. It’s like my key worker, Staff Nurse Chris Parker, said to me: ‘Psychiatry has come a long way since you left Tone Vale in 1972, but it still has a long way to go’.

To finish on a happier note—I shared a joke with Chris when I was in Tone Vale last. He said that having a key worker must seem strange to me. It’s a pretty new thing at Tone Vale. I replied, ‘No. They had them here in ’69. They unlocked the doors to let you in and they locked them to keep you in’. [2]

This case is only one among thousands of re-victimised persons by that criminal organization that is called psychiatry. It is evident that if his parents had not died this boy would never have been committed. His emotional problems were caused by the tragedy of the death of his parents, not by a ‘chemical imbalance’ that required medical imprisonment. To diagnose and commit Bell was a re-victimisation of a victim—just what I tried to illustrate with Dora—, something that not even Dr. Hunt could indemnify.

The case of John Bell shows once more that psychiatrists unconditionally side parents or tutors. The fact that an egoist uncle wanted to free himself from the tutelage of his fourteen- year-old nephew was enough for a psychiatrist to label Bell as the previous step to imprison him in a place where other victims were systematically re-victimised until driven mad.

In spite of the fact that psychiatric conditions have changed in England, I cannot agree with Chris Parker in that psychiatry ‘still has a long way to go’. Tom Szasz would simply say that involuntary psychiatry has to be abolished. Similarly, the Inquisition did not need any sort of reform, only abolition. Everything these inquisitors did to Bell was possible because of the articles 25 and 26 of the Mental Health Law of 1959, the foundation of psychiatric power in England at that time (today the British have a similar law, that of 1983). As stated in a previous chapter, those of us who believe in human rights must fight to derogate the 1983 law and the equivalent laws in the other nations.

Regarding the plans of the Chief Medical Superintendent to lobotomise this helpless orphan, I would like to confess something. Once I realised the existence of something that almost everybody is unaware of, the modern Inquisition, I had doubts to quote psychiatrists Theodore Lidz and Silvano Arieti in this book. Even though Lidz and Arieti disagreed with their colleagues about lobotomy, as far as I know they failed to condemn this mutilation of healthy brains and the criminals who practice it. [3]

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[1] Jeremiah, 22:3 (Old Testament).

[2] John Bell, ‘Label removed, but scar remains’ in Jim Reed and Jill Reynolds (eds.), Speaking our minds: an anthology of personal experiences of mental distress and its consequences (The Open University, 1996), pp. 105-108.

[3] See, for example, the interview to Lidz in Laing and antipsychiatry (op. cit.). Arieti’s failure to condemn lobotomy appears in his classic work Interpretation of schizophrenia (op. cit.), pp. 670ff.

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Published in: on November 23, 2018 at 1:33 pm  Comments (2)  

Beware of the psychiatric Newspeak

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

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

—Szasz [1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us now listen to Ronald Laing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In contrast to these psychiatrists, anti-psychiatrists and linguists, my hope is that someday propagandistic language like ‘schizoid’ is considered as superstitious and political as the politically-correct slanders of today (‘anti-Semite’, ‘racist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘islamophobe’, ‘homophobe’, ‘xenophobe’, etc.). Not even the anti-psychiatrists saw how serious it is to re-victimise the victims by using the psychiatric Newspeak because no one was, as John Modrow, a victim of the diagnosis ‘schizophrenic’. It is not excessive to quote Modrow again: ‘In this regard, I never fully recovered from what psychiatry and my parents did to me until I finally realized I had never been ill in the first place’. The testimony of another survivor, an orphan, whom I will quote in the next chapter, annotates what I’ve been trying to say in the last paragraphs.

_________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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[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.

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Published in: on November 9, 2018 at 12:01 am  Comments (4)  

Shine: a dad more devastating than Mengele

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. Below, an edited translation (I’ve now added a couple of triple brackets) of a chapter of one of my books that I wrote before my awakening on the JQ:
 

Mental illness in the biological sense is a myth. Yet, it is obvious that madness is not. Madness exists, but it is merely a psychological catastrophe.

Millions have seen this phenomenon on the big screen. The movie Shine is about the life of David Helfgott, who became famous after Geoffrey Rush interpreted his tragic and won an Oscar for best actor. I will sketch his life so flatly that the story’s pathos will be missed.

(((David Helfgott))), a sensible and talented boy for the piano, wasn’t only the eldest son of Peter, but his spiritual heir as well: the unlimited love of Peter insufflated his great music vocation. David, who used to run on the street to embrace his dad when he came back from work, corresponds to such love by consecrating his pianist career to his dad. But Peter did something wicked. He felt humiliated by other Jews in the community and displaced all of his impotence toward his favourite son. The assault to the ego of the boy lasted years. David became a disturbed young man, a ‘schizophrenic’.

This is a case of real life. At the writing of these lines [1999] David Helfgott still lives in Australia and continues to play the piano. However, David is under the care of his wife Gillian since he could never recover. In her biography Love You To Bits and Pieces, the result of years of maternal care of her husband, Gillian testifies that ‘David always believed’ that his father ‘caused his illness’. [1]

In essence, this is what the proponents of the trauma model of madness, Lidz, Laing and Arieti, have been trying to say. They studied parents like Peter instead of treating the brain of the victims of such parents, which is what bioreductionist psychiatrists do.

I would like to mention another case in real life, the boy (((Yakoff Skurnik))). Relying on Yakoff’s testimony, Gene Church wrote 80629: a Mengele experiment.[2]

Yakoff Skurnik survived Birkenau and Auschwitz, where he claims that all his family died and that he became a guinea pig of Josef Mengele. Immobilized by the staff and in Mengele’s presence, a doctor named Doering castrated Yakoff without the proper spinal anaesthesia. Apparently his castrated genitals were photographed by the Russians, but after liberation Yakoff and others were capable to thrive in life.

Yakoff didn’t become mad in a Nazi camp but David did before his abusive dad. How was that possible? Following the Sullivan-Modrow model, in some way the Nazis ran across more difficulties to reach Yakoff’s inner self and injure it than Peter with his son. A passage by Arieti sheds light on these two different cases:

First of all we have to repeat here what we already mentioned […], that conditions of obvious external danger, as in the case of wars, disasters, or other adversities that affect the collectivity [my italics], do not produce the type of anxiety that hurts the inner self and do not themselves favor [insanity]. Even extreme poverty, physical illness, or personal tragedies do not necessarily lead to [insanity] unless they have psychological ramifications that hurt the sense of self. Even homes broken by death, divorce, or desertion may be less destructive than homes where both parents are alive, live together, and always undermine the child’s conception of himself. [3]

Since the victims of a concentration camp are a collectivity, the self of Skurnik or his inmates was not necessarily assaulted; hence they had better chances to survive psychologically than the sole victim of parental abuse, such as Helfgott. Arieti’s passage answers also one of the favourite arguments of bioreductionist psychiatrists in their attempts to refute the trauma model of insanity. For instance, in a critique to his colleagues who believe in the model of trauma, August Piper argues that:

The logic of the claim that childhood trauma causes [insanity] demonstrates a serious final flaw. If the claim were true, the abuse of millions of children over the years should have caused many cases of [insanity]. A case in point: children who endured unspeakable maltreatment in the ghettoes, boxcars, and concentration camps of Nazi Germany. However, no evidence exists that any [become insane] (Bower 1994; Des Pres 1976; Eitinger 1980; Krystal 1991; Sofsky 1997) or that any dissociated or repressed their traumatic memories (Eisen 1988; Wagenaar and Growneweg 1990). Similarly, the same results hold in studies of children who saw a parent murdered (Eth y Pynoos 1994; Malmquist 1986); studies of kidnapped children (Terr 1979; Terr 1983); studies of children known to have been abused (Gold et al. 1994); and in several other investigations (Chudoff 1963; Pynoos y Nader 1989; Strom et al. 1962). Victims neither repressed their traumatic events, forgot about them, nor [become insane]. [4]

The case of Yakoff and his inmates, neither of whom became mad, exemplifies what Piper wanted to say in the above quotation. However, it is clear that Piper has not studied with attention the investigators he criticises. I know personally one of them, Colin Ross, whom I visited on 4 March 1997 in his Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma, a mental institution at the north of Dallas. I had written Ross after reading one of his books and he admitted me as a visiting researcher. Ross’ clinic of traumatised people is the only mental institution I have ever stepped in, and although I visited it for only nine hours, in the therapeutic sessions I saw many devastated women by domestic abuse.

Below I quote a passage from the text they give to the newcomer patients:

The problem of attachment to the perpetrator is a term invented by Dr. Ross. It provides a way of understanding the basic conflict in survivors of physical and sexual abuse by parents, relatives, and caretakers. The conflict exists in all of us to some degree, since we all had imperfect parents, but is much more intense and painful in abuse survivors. Ambivalent attachment may not be such a core problem when the perpetrator was not a family member or an important attachment figure [my italics].

The basic driver of [insanity] is simply the kind of people mom and dad were, and what it was like day in and day out in that family.

The focus of therapy is not on the content of memories, processing of memories as such, or any particular thing that happened. This is because the deepest pain and conflict does not come from any one specific event […].

Because children are mammals, they are biologically constructed to attach to their parents […]. There is no decision to make about attachment. Your biology decides for you and it happens automatically. In a halfway normal, regular family this all works out relatively well with the usual neurotic conflicts. The problem faced by many patients is that they did not grow up in a reasonably healthy, normal family. They grew up in an inconsistent, abusive, and traumatic family.

This is the cardinal distinction that biological psychiatrists do not want to acknowledge in their clinical practice: dysfunctional families are very different from schizophrenogenic families.

The very people to whom the child had to attach for survival, were also abuse perpetrators and hurt him or her badly […]. One way to cope with the abuse would be to withdraw, shut down one’s attachment system, and go into a cocoon. This would be psychological suicide, and would cause failure to thrive. Your biology will not let you make this decision—the drive to attachment overrides the withdrawal reflex. You must keep your attachment system up and running in order to survive […].

The basic conflict, the deepest pain, and the deepest source of symptoms, is the fact that mom and dad’s behavior hurts, did not fit together, and did not make sense. It was crazy and abusive. [5]

What Ross says complements what Arieti said: the only person before whom we are really vulnerable is the one with whom we are bonded since children. If the quotation of Piper refers to someone like Yakoff Skurnik, the latter refers to someone like David Helfgott. Ross talks of the abusive relationship of a minor with someone who represents something very special for him or her. The abuses that Piper recounts are not of the kind that Modrow suffered, the sensation of the betrayal of the universe. They are a completely different set of psychological phenomena.

This is one of the problems not only of psychiatry, but also of psychology in general. They want to study ‘objectively’ a subject without realising the existence of an entire universe inside him. It’s not possible to study a mind from the outside as behaviourists do: we need the individual testimonies, the survivors’ autobiographies. Independently of the scholarship of Piper (his paper contains a hundred references), his cases have little to do with a Modrow or a David Helfgott.

The Helfgott case also answers another favourite argument I have heard from other bioreductionist psychiatrists: ‘The question is why one becomes sick and not the other siblings’. If there is something common in the literature of victims, it is that the behaviour of schizophrenogenic parents is directed almost exclusively toward one child, not toward all of his brothers and sisters, just as Peter’s behaviour targeted David, not his other children, and the same can be read in Modrow’s autobiography.

In my comparison between the Jews David and Yakoff, one victimized by his father, the other in a concentration camp, there is something else. The Nazi dynamics toward Yakoff did not constitute a mixture of cruelty and love as was Peter’s attitude toward David—the ‘short circuit’ caused by ‘Jekyll-Hyde’ fluctuations about which I have written, that results in the ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator according to Ross. There is a big difference between being a victim of camp guards, who appeared in Yakoff’s mind as aliens, and being a victim of he who, with all of his love, formed the universe of the child David. In the words of David himself to his wife:

It’s all daddy’s fault. It’s all daddy’s fault […]. ’Cause father had a sort of a devil in him, and an angel in him, and all my life was like that. Dad always had a devil and an angel all his life. It’s a sort of a dichotomy, a split of scale. [6]

‘Father’ doesn’t seem to be the same ‘dad’ in David’s disturbed mind. That this dichotomy produces split personalities was precisely what I observed in the Dallas female patients (in the Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma almost all inmates for multiple personalities were women).

Resiliency is the capability of a strained object to recover its size and shape after stress. In elastics for instance the capability of resilience has a limit: if the elastic is extended beyond its breaking point it will break and won’t recover its original form. Using this analogy I would say that the Nazi abuses Yakoff was subjected lied within the ‘resiliency’ limit of his mind. It was not so with David’s Jewish daddy. The abuses he was subjected went beyond the breaking point and he suffered a permanent psychotic breakdown.

To sum up, the criterion to measure the level of trauma should be the breakdown that the abuse causes, not the abuse itself. A father who loves his Jewish son can break him better than a Nazi who does not like the Jewish prisoners. The breakdown of David’s mind occurred because relatively Peter’s atrocity was greater than that of the Nazi who castrated Yakoff. It came from the one on earth whom the abuse should never have come from: the one who formed his soul.

___________

[1] Love you to bits and pieces (Penguin Books, 1996), p. 268.

[2] Gene Church, 80629: a Mengele experiment (Route 66 Publishing, 1996).

[3] Interpretation of schizophrenia (op. cit.), p. 197. I substituted the word ‘schizophrenia’ for ‘insanity’ in the brackets—see the next note.

[4] August Piper Jr., ‘Multiple personality disorder: witchcraft survives in the twentieth century’ in Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 1998). Piper’s critique doesn’t refer to general madness but to so-called ‘multiple personality’. Yet, the substitution of psychiatric terms I have done in these quotations is pertinent. Ross himself told me that it is very common that psychiatrists become confused and diagnose as ‘schizophrenics’ those with ‘multiple personality’ and vice versa. The point is that, since I don’t believe in a formal system of categories (as is the DSM), I’m not obliged to make these distinctions. I prefer to include all psychoses within the vernacular word ‘insanity’ as I did with my brackets instead of the textual ‘MPD’ (multiple personality disorder).

John Modrow’s words are conclusive in this respect: ‘Since no clear-cut distinctions can be drawn between schizophrenia and a number of other psychiatric syndromes, such labels as schizophrenia, paranoia, manic-depression, and so forth, are mere artificial abstractions obscuring the unitary nature of madness. Indeed, I would go even further than that: the madness-sanity dichotomy is itself a mere artificial convention obscuring the fundamental unity of the human mind’ (How to become a schizophrenic, op. cit.), p. 238.

[5] Dissociative disorders program: patient information packet (Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma, undated).

[6] The two passages separated by the bracket come from Love you to bits and pieces (op. cit.), pp. 42 & 104.

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Inside the Ministry of Love

Yesterday, Greg Johnson published an article that shows he’s an absolute ignorant about the trauma model of mental disorders. I have dedicated most of my intellectual life to the subject that extremely abusive parents literally drive their children mad. The basic aetiology of psychoses has nothing to do with faulty genes or chemical imbalances (biological psychiatry is a classical pseudoscience). Cf. my book Day of Wrath for a comprehensive approach to the trauma model. For a single chapter within that book, see ‘A Class With Colin Ross’.

My broader criticism of psychiatry (see for example: here) is a subject indirectly related to the sort of parental abuse that drives children mad, as is the below translation of one of my texts in Spanish.

 

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But again and again there comes a time in history when the man who dares to say that two and two make four is punished with death.

Albert Camus [1]

Nothing is more terrible than to continually assault the self-image of a person. Not even natural death, terrible as it may be, produces panic. It does produce it, on the other hand, a deaf ear before the screams of a soul in pain, and to be compelled to attend ‘psychoanalytic’ sessions with a professional in deafness is to be compelled to sessions of psychic torture.

It is like the case of my hypothetical Dora: ‘Your story of parental abuse is fictitious. The way you have structured your self is ridiculous. Here we’re going to deconstruct it, Dora. Only I, the physician, the psychoanalyst, the doctor in psychiatry have the academic credentials, and the legal powers, to interpret your mind. The way your parents treated you didn’t cause you any trauma. That is completely surpassed in scientific psychiatry. You live in a paranoid universe, my dear Dora. By your symptoms I would rather diagnose that you are ill… I see that my scientific interpretation distresses you. Do you know, Dora, that the first sign of recovery of a distressed person is to accept that she is sick? For that very reason, and to help you to accept this, my prescription is that we bombard your brain with anti-psychotics. Any rejection of my diagnosis and prescription will be interpreted as resistance. And remember, Dora, the state confers the psychiatrist with special powers. If he wanted he could… So you have to come to these analytic sessions. It is for your own good—and for your family’s’.

What could a minor do but fall in panic before such interpretation, which in turn would be reinterpreted by the psychiatrist as a symptom of ‘chemical imbalances in the brain’, without physical proof, which requires of even stronger psychiatric drugs?

The objective of so-called ‘analysis’ is to dismantle the self-image of the victim to the point of no return. So when the Doras of the world want to convey what happened in their families, the analyst uses the Orwellian technique of crimestop.

Every counterhypothesis to the medical model, the paradigm of psychiatrists, must be stopped before the bio-reductionist dogma. In real life, there was not even an instant in which Freud showed some compassion for the real Dora (Ida Bauer, cf. a forthcoming chapter of this book). Nothing out of commonplace could have occurred inside such reputed Viennese family. Crimestop if someone talks of family abuse. The deaf treatment produces the sensation of revictimising panic, as my Dora’s testimony was ignored to deliver a biological interpretation of the family problem. What the shrink asks is to abandon the vision the victim has of herself and to accept a very, very strange one.

Let us imagine an office behind closed doors with a renowned professional in mental health. It is impossible to redefine there the problems of an abused youngster without doing something psychologically destructive in her mentality. The hidden objective of psychoanalysis, as the hidden objective of the Ministry of Love, is to change the mind of the political dissident:

‘That is what has brought you here. You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one […]. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane […]’.

‘Do you remember’, he went on, ‘writing in your diary, ‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four’?’

‘Yes’, said Winston.

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’

‘Four’.

‘And if the Party says that it is not four but five then how many?’

‘Four’.

The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five […].

‘How many fingers Winston?’

‘Four! Stop it, stop it! […]’.

‘How many fingers Winston?’

‘Five! Five! Five!’

‘No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are four. How many fingers please?’

‘Four! Five! Four! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!’

Abruptly he was sitting up with O’Brien’s arm around his shoulders. He had perhaps lost consciousness for a few seconds. The bonds that had held his body down were loosened. He felt very cold, he was shaking uncontrollably, his teeth were chattering, the tears were rolling down his cheeks. For a moment he clung to O’Brien like a baby, curiously comforted by the heavy arm around his shoulders. He had a feeling that O’Brien was his protector, that the pain was something that came from outside, from some other source, and that it was O’Brien who was to save him from it.

‘You are a slow learner, Winston’, said O’Brien gently.

‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in from of my eyes? Two and two are four?’

‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane’.[2]

Every bio-reductionist professional is like the Orwellian O’Brien. His biological interpretation is as insulting, as revictimising I would say, as the one applied to Dora (‘The rape didn’t cause you any trauma…’). Whoever says this, and says it from a platform of power, is playing O’Brien in the Ministry of Love (speaking in black-white terms, thus was called the Ministry of Torture in 1984).

Have I been understood? The problem does not lie in a psychiatrist who has ‘abused’ his power. The praxis of psychiatry can only result in the abuse of power. We have seen that John Modrow said it wasn’t possible to practice psychiatry without doing harm. No psychiatrist can validate his identity as a medical doctor without stigmatising others with an insulting label or prescribing iatrogenic drugs. It is not possible to practice the profession without doing harm—logically it is not possible.

I would be embarrassed if this indictment was interpreted as an attempt to assassinate the character of a couple of corrupt shrinks. That would leave their profession intact! The problem of what happens to the Doras lies in their profession, not in the character of any of them. A profession that, as we have seen, was born mercenarily by selling itself out to the System—a fraudulent profession that we must strive to abolish as the Spanish Inquisition was abolished in 1820 by Fernando VII. It is not a single Freud the target of my attack. It is just that by testimonies such as Modrow’s I am convinced that what happened to him has happened to thousands of others. But very few have survived the Ministry of Love or have had the courage to speak out about their cases.

The last quotation proceeds from the novel by George Orwell. Following next I quote the testimony of a victim of an O’Brien in real life. It occurred in the Delaware Valley Mental Health Foundation (DVMHF) in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a clinic directed by Dr. Albert Honig, who in this case intended to ‘cure’ a catatonic woman:

I lost my capacity to open my eyes and to walk as well as to talk. I was told by Honig that he hated my eyes and could not stand to look at them. He made me close them and keep them closed during one entire session… [sic] after my eyes were closed and I had lost my ability to speak, I was told during another session to get on the floor face down, which I did.

However, when Dr. Honig told me to get up, and I did not, he said, ‘Look at that defiance’. At that point he yanked me up solely by my hair, which was braided in a single braid in the back. I was so frightened by being picked up by my hair alone that I wet my pants. He then, still holding me by my hair, flopped me on the couch. He asked the male staff to hold my arms above my head and others to hold my legs, while he sat on my stomach. Honig then put his hands around my neck and started squeezing, saying, ‘Open your eyes; I want you to look at me; open your eyes! You know I could kill you’.

The staff confronted me and threatened that if I did not open my eyes they were going to arrange to have them extracted and donated to an eye bank… [sic] Then I was taken into the therapist’s back room accompanied by Adam Houtz and a young doctor. The doctor told Adam to hook up my legs and Adam did so. The doctor asked me to open my eyes, but in my catatonic state, I was unable to do so. The doctor then had Adam turn on The Machine. Higher and higher went the voltage in a constant flow. My legs felt like they were actually being torn from my body. Through this, the doctor kept yelling, ‘Open your eyes! Open your eyes!’

I finally turned to him, and although I could not open my eyes, I still could move my body. I turned to him with outstretched arms raised toward him, and beseeched him with the totality of my being, as I could not speak, to turn off The Machine. [3]

If psychiatry in our societies is not the Ministry of Love, what is it? What is the difference between this testimony and Room 101 in Orwell’ novel? And if this, ‘therapy’, is not Orwellian Newspeak, what then could it be?

We have seen that England’s Mental Health Law (and the non-written law of other nations) and the European Convention of Human Rights gives exceptional powers to psychiatrists; powers that in practice they use to do these things. I would like to know if organisations that fight for human rights consider torture actions as the one cited above. My curiosity is piqued by the fact that psychiatrists have inveigled civil society to make it believe that these tortures are, in fact, therapies. It seems that westerners have been imbecile enough to swallow the Newspeak of psychiatrists to the degree of not recognising classic cases of torture like this in the ‘clinic’ of Pennsylvania. The same can be said of electroshock (ECT or Electro-convulsive ‘therapy’) that is practiced daily around the world, and that a hundred thousand persons get it in the United States alone.

Jeffrey Masson tells that in 1978 the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office in Pennsylvania issued a ten-page report which found that in Honig’s clinic cattle prods and paddles were used to punish ‘patients’ (with quotations because a true patient voluntarily goes to a hospital). Nonetheless, the Attorney’s Office concluded that:

The devices were used in good faith by the therapists and in the sincere belief that they would aid the treatment process [my italics]. The devices were employed at times as ‘punishment’ but only as that term is understood within behavior modification theories. The treatment methodology of aversion therapy and behavior modification (though Honig never said he practiced behavior modification; he called it analysis) practiced by DVMHF falls within the recognized and legitimate treatment techniques for the mentally ill.[4]

‘Good faith’, ‘sincere belief’. This is evil… Is it clear why it is an aberration that Western society endows these powers to psychiatrists? The people whom they are in charge are stripped from their most elemental right: to not be tormented. The report’s revealing point is that Western society is not only allowing these atrocities: it is encouraging them. The only thing the psychiatrist has to do is, as Honig did, is to claim that he commits these actions in good faith and to define punishment as part of the analysis—and the government offices swallow it!

Just as the well-meaning lobotomies of Viktor Frankl, it goes without saying that, from the patient’s viewpoint, it doesn’t matter that the doctor believes he is saving her. What he does with cattle prods, paddles or The Machine is torture, period.
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[1] Albert Camus, The plague (Modern Library, 1948), p. 121.

[2] Nineteen eighty-four (op. cit.), pp. 196f.

[3] Against therapy (op. cit.), pp. 207f.

[4] Ibid., p. 204.

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Therapeutic States

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

The empire of psychiatric power is more than three hundred years old and grows daily more all-encompassing. But we have not yet begun to acknowledge its existence, much less to understand its role in our society. [1]

Thomas Szasz has also said that the social institutions involved in psychiatric violence are the family, the medical institution and the state.

In political theory, one of the definitions of state is ‘the monopoly of violence’. A common civilian cannot exercise violence on another civilian under the law, but the executive power of a state, safeguarded by the legislative and judicial powers, can. The executive power doesn’t only count on an army to protect his (or attack another) nation, but through the police it can exercise violence against its own citizens in those cases stipulated by the law.

If psychiatrists were normal and common citizens they could never exercise, or threat to exercise, any violence. But psychiatrists represent a privileged class of citizens: society allows them to exercise violence on some citizens. Furthermore, they possess special jails for these ends that they call ‘psychiatric hospitals’, which are outside the jurisdiction of the common penal system. This is apparent in the laws of a nation like England and the international law on human rights.

The English laws of mental health are a means by which the right to liberty of a citizen is moved to the side, a right warranted by both the common jurisprudence of that nation and the Article 5.1 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In the quotation of the English brochure I had already mentioned that the Mental Health Law of 1983 permits the compulsory admission to the psychiatric ward, and that similar dispositions in other countries exist.

This means no less than an exception within the law: the right to liberty is warranted between civilians except if the he is a psychiatrist. Just as the state, the psychiatrist has special powers to send another citizen to a prison. This can be proved by pointing out how the constitutional rights of an individual whom a psychiatrist has decided call him ‘insane’ become automatically annulled. If we take now as a paradigm the constitutional right of the United States, this individual is deprived from his right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury (Sixth Amendment), the right to bail (Eight Amendment), and the right that no person be deprived from liberty without due process of law (Fourteenth Amendment).

The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and many other countries are Therapeutic States, as Szasz calls nations that claim to be free but that through the medical and psychiatric institution have totalitarian traits. If in one of these States the accused of mentally ill doesn’t agrees with the legal exception of his country in favour of psychiatry, he cannot appeal to international law either. The Article 5 of the European Convention begins:

Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty,

However, the article continues:

save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law… the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts, or vagrants. [2]

We can agree with the statement regarding the prevention of infections and epidemics: the power to decide who is infected falls on scientists who can detect in their labs the existence of biological diseases. But just what the other group means, persons of ‘unsound mind’, is something that only the psychiatrist of a Therapeutic State has the power to decide because in these cases lab tests are not performed. The second part of the European Convention article of international law invalidates the first one: it leaves to the psychiatrist’s discretion to decide who has a ‘sound mind’ and who has an ‘unsound mind’.

To stamp someone with the label of insanity means that the first political step to his imprisonment has been undertaken (for instance, in the 1960s more Americans lost their liberty accused of unsound mind than the accused of a crime). [3] In short, psychiatrists have the powers to incarcerate an innocent citizen who has not broken any law.

This means that the psychiatrists have the power to derogate the civil status of a citizen to a lower level than that of the common criminal. Just remember how they wanted to commit George Lincoln Rockwell.

If we take as an example the bank assailant who killed a cop and some clients during the skirmish, after being caught he has the right to an impartial trial and to a lawyer, as well as the right to not being tormented or mutilated. On the other hand, the individual who has been identified by a psychiatrist automatically loses these rights: he is incarcerated without a trial and without a lawyer who can make an appeal. Moreover, he can be tormented with electroshock or even psychologically destroyed with neuroleptics or lobotomy.

For a teenager in conflict with his parents, his rights fall into an inferior level compared to those of the assailant or common criminal: he lacks any institution or state lawyer who could possible defended him. As we have seen, in generational conflicts of parents with their children the ‘identification’ invariably falls on the latter. Ronald Laing, the most popular anti-psychiatrist in the 1960s, stated in an interview of 1988:

Economics controls politics, so the pivotal issue is an economic one. To see what is happening, look at the textbook or manual called DSM-III, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, third edition. Translated into economic and political terms, mental disorder means undesired mental states and attitudes and behaviour […].

The criteria in the manual are very useful for controlling the population because you can bring them to bear on practically anyone if the occasion seems to demand it. Look at this: ‘Oppositional disorder’ is a very good one. (Laing reads from the DSM-III:)

The essential feature is a pattern of disobedient negativistic and provocative opposition to authority figures. For example, if there is a rule, it is usually violated. If a suggestion is made, the individual is against it. If asked to do something, the individual refuses or becomes argumentative. If asked to refrain from an act, the child or the adolescent feels obliged to carry it out. […].

These are not exceptional examples out of DSM-III. The overall drift is what contemporary modern psychiatry, epitomized by this DSM manual translated into eighteen languages, is imposing all over the world—a mandate to strip anyone of their civil liberties […] to homogenize people who are out of line. Presented as a medical exercise, it is an undercover operation. [4]

That this is the disposition in modern psychiatry is observed in the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, Parham vs. J.R. of 1979. This decision gives carte blanche to the States to enact laws that permit minors to be hospitalized if the parents and a psychiatrist want it without any right for the child or adolescent to a hearing or trial. [5] Let’s give the floor to one of these victims of the Therapeutic State. Following next I quote a letter sent on 12 December 1999 to a lawyer who fights for human rights within the United States:

I’m a 16 year old girl who has just gotten out of a ‘psychiatric treatment center’. I was there for over 4 months because I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder and Manic Depression. Borderline Personality Disorder is the biggest f— joke I have heard of. All it is a description of an immature teenager. Haha. I am also not Manic Depressive. The psych people there somehow managed to convince everyone that I was, including my parents. (‘She has severe highs and lows. And she’s impulsive too!’) They put me on lots of medication.

During the first 2 months of my stay at the hospital I refused to take it. My behavior, thinking, and stability were fine, but since I wasn’t taking the medication I was ‘noncompliant and not ready for discharge’. So I decided to cheek the medication. Just so I could get out of the damn place. They found out that I was cheeking it though. Of course.

I haven’t been discharged yet. I won’t be. Ever. Instead my parents have decided to sign me out of the place AMA [against medical advice]. They finally realized I do not need to be in that place, nor did I ever.

Perfectly normal people are kept in treatment centers. Perfectly normal teenagers. Nobody was crazy there. Not even one person. They were just teenagers with divorced parents. Or teenagers who did a few drugs. Or teenagers who got suspended from school. Suddenly we were all Borderlines, Schizophrenics, and Manic Depressives who ‘needed’ long term hospitalization. We also ‘needed’ medication. They put us on heavy doses of anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, anti-whatevers. I was the only patient who didn’t take the medication. I will never take psychiatric medication. I’ve tried it before. It does nothing except for turn me into a zombie. It dulls me out. Makes it so I can’t think straight. Everyone else took it though. [6]

There cannot be a clearer example of the alliance between parents and psychiatrists. In the United States, the sole will of the parents was enough to incarcerate or liberate a child. It’s noteworthy that Rachel, who wrote the above letter at sixteen, had a good grasp of what psychiatric diagnoses really are. In the dawn of the 21st century the diagnoses that were used against her and her mates (‘borderlines’, ‘schizophrenics’, ‘manic depressives’) are as fraudulent as the diagnoses that the psychiatrists used in the 19th century (‘moral insanity’, ‘folie lucide’, ‘nymphomania’). All this is camouflaged in medical language.

It was Lenin who said that dictatorship is a power not limited by law. How psychiatry could not be corrupted if the way they label a girl with the DSM to strip her from her civil rights has no law that supervises it in our societies? Psychiatry is a profession that regulates itself. It is a state within the State that carries out the function of control of the unwanted.

Unlike George Lincoln Rockwell, Ezra Pound was no so lucky. He was committed in a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., for over 12 years. His supposed insanity was due to the fact that he had moved to Italy in 1924 and throughout the 1930s and 40s embraced Benito Mussolini’s fascism, expressed support for Adolf Hitler, and wrote for publications owned by the British fascist Sir Oswald Mosley.

How to know if a modern society is a Therapeutic State? This is a state that searches for medical or therapeutical solutions for family and social problems; in the Western past, or in the Soviet Union, even for political dissidence. It is a society that can afford an extra legal system of penalties—the undercover operation of which Laing talked above—with the aim of sparing the dirty job on the constitution of a country. For legislators it would be too embarrassing to enact laws against women in disputes with their husbands, or against teenagers in disputes with their parents. Psychiatrists do the dirty job (‘moral insanity’, ‘dementia praecox’) that society in general, and legislators in particular, do not dare to do directly.

Szasz’s dream was to reform society to separate the state from the medical institution, just as the First Amendment of the United States Constitution separates church and state. Alas, although the Soviet Union and the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents is gone, in the West the inquisitorial power of physicians is well rooted, and civil society is doing very little to question it.

References

[1] Last words of a lecture by Thomas Szasz presented in the Foucault Symposium in Berlin University, May 1998.

[2] Tom Heller et al., Mental health and distress: module 3 (The Open University, 1997), p. 43.

[3] The manufacture of madness (op. cit.), p. 65.

[4] Ronald Laing, Interview (OMNI, April 1988), pp. 60f.

[5] Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (United States Reports, volume 442, p. 584), quoted in The antipsychiatry forum, section ‘Compliments’, answer of Douglas Smith to Lolobenchik (www.antipsychiatry.org). This website provides legal assistance in so-called psychiatric cases.

[6] Ibid. (www.antipsychiatry.org), section ‘Physical restraints’. Rachel signs her letter as ‘Rach’.

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