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.

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[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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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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Day of Wrath, 12

The return of Quetzalcoatl

If until recently westerners represented the zenith of civilization in the world, presently New Guineans and the headhunters of Munduruku in Brazil represent the nadir. The psychoclass of the poorest strata of Latin America lies at the middle of both extremes.

In contrast to most nations, Mexico City gave her name to the modern country. It was founded by the Tenochcas when a voice ordered them to establish themselves on the lake that they had arrived, “as the unembodied bicameral voices led Moses zigzagging across the Sinai desert.” It cannot be more symbolic that the Coat of Arms of Mexico, which they so much shoved under my nose at school, is an eagle perched upon a prickly pear cactus devouring a snake in one of the lake islets that the ancient Tenochcas recognized. It was an odd place to found a city, but the punishing voices had to be obeyed. We can deduce from The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind that the buildings erected at the center of a community, such as the temple of Huitzilopochtli on the Texcoco Lake, were located where the guides listened the damned voices. (The etymology of the island of Mexico on the lake would be “navel of the maguey” or “of the Moon.”) If we now relate not only Jaynes to Arieti but also a passage of my first book about a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia, the puzzle starts to take shape. I have in mind a woman [Maya Abbott] that, because her parents always tried to think for her, suffered from auditory hallucinations and confessed to Laing: “I don’t think, the voices think.” Unlike this sort of psychological analyzing—God forbid!—, some historians try to make amends for the pre-Columbian Indians. More disturbing is to see a friend taking offence about our compassion. The psychoanalyst Jenny Pavisic once addressed me severely: “And who are you to condemn the sacrifices?” referring to child sacrifices in Mesoamerica.

The Tlatelolcan ceremonial show-ground and its surrounding neighborhoods have been excavated for archeological purposes. I have seen photographs of bone fragments of 41 sacrificed victims in the excavation of the terraces of the Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl temple, of which 30 were little children. Just as Pavisic, many people are capable of condemning the 1968 massacre of students in Tlatelolco, but never the child sacrifices perpetrated exactly on the same place. In April of 2007 bones were found of twenty-four sacrificed children to Tláloc in Tula, the capital of the Toltec civilization, dated 950-1150 AD according to a newspaper report that circulated the world. The children had been decapitated. If we remember that the intention was to avert an environmental crisis in that way, it should not surprise us that Mesoamerican civilizations disappeared even before the conquest. The sacrifices represented the distaff that moved the fabric of that culture, and a society as psychologically dissociated that had sacrifices on its basis was condemned to random disappearance. It is as if a civilization was composed of the self-harming women in the Colin Ross clinic and of male serial killers.

The iconic example of civilization disappearance is the abandonment by the Mesoamericans of their great cities, as is the case of the Mayas of the ninth century AD. From the climatic register, ice analysis in Greenland and mud of the subsoil of a lagoon in Maya areas it can be deduced that they suffered a serious draught. To deal with the draughts, just as their Mexica successors sacrificed the flower of their youth in face of external crises, from the bone register of about thirty sacrificed men, women and children it is deduced that the Mayas tried to appease the gods that had betrayed them. Had they arrived to the level of Aristotelian thought they would not have attempted to solve the problem by killing even more of their folk, and hardly would the draughts had been so apocalyptic for their civilization. Let us not forget that sudden desertion of the cities also occurred in Teotihuacan and Tula. Julian Jaynes comments:

I also think that the curious inhospitable sites on which Maya cities were often built and their sudden appearance and disappearance [my emphasis] can best be explained on the basis that such sites and movements were commanded by hallucinations which in certain periods could be not only irrational but downright punishing.

The whys of the periodic collapse of the Mesoamerican civilizations starts to be discerned if we consider that the demographic load of a prosperous Indian city sooner or later enters a critical phase that confronts the bicameral Diktat of the dominant theocracy. It is illustrative that when Egypt suffered a draught around 2100 B.C. absolutely all authority collapsed: the Egyptian people fled the towns and the literary sources of the time remind me the apocalyptic passages of a synoptic gospel. While Egyptologists struggle to explain the “why,” Jaynes compares it with the Maya catastrophe. The Mayas suffered a massive civilizational regression by going back to the jungle. He also compares it with the collapse of Assyria in 1700 B.C. that lasted two hundred years and that no historian quite understands. Jaynes also argues that the mystery is dissipated if we see it as a psychogenic leap. The bicameral societies are more susceptible to collapse once the gods refuse to talk; this is to say, once man overcomes his schizophrenic stage, so overwhelmed with auditory hallucinations. The collapse of the bicameral society is but the resulting chaos of the transit to consciousness. In Egypt, Assyria and other cultures of the Ancient World the birth of a schizoid psychoclass out of a schizophrenic one (Laing magnificently describes the difference between schizoid and schizophrenic in The Divided Self) represented a formidable threat for the status quo. “Disorders and social chaos had of course happened before,” writes Jaynes, “but such a premeditated mutiny and parricide of a king is impossible to imagine in the god-obedient hierarchies of the bicameral age.”
 

Political correctness

The rupture of the bicameral age resulted in the greatest collision of consciousness that a society could endure. But unlike the people in the Old World, those in the New World were incapable of carrying out such intrapsychic metamorphosis. The reading of Jaynes’ book seems to suggest that the Mesoamerican world of the sixteenth-century still was bicameralized in a way that had already been overcome at the other side of the ocean. In other words, the Mesoamericans suffered from the stagnation that in psychohistory is called psychogenic arrest.

The Amerindians got what they deserved. But presently, who condemns the ancient dwellers of the Americas? In a politically correct world it cannot be said that the infanticidal pre-Hispanics were psychologically dissociated; that the military theocracy was composed of serial killers, or that they were morally inferior to us. But the moralists were not always muzzled. In the colorful Spanish of his time, Bernal wrote a chapter, “How the Indians of all New Spain had many Sacrifices and Clumsiness that We Took Them Away and Imposed on Them the Saintly Things of Good Doctrine.” Bernal’s cheekiness does not cease to fascinate me: and it is pathetic that, half a millennium later, compared to those soldiers the historians, ethnologists and anthropologists of today have psychogenically regressed. I will illustrate it with the other pre-Hispanic empire.

Communication between Mesoamericans and the Andean people was sporadic. Just as the Mayas, the Incas deformed the craniums of the babies; some scholars believe to demarcate different ethnic groups of the Inca empire. The torments on childhood started since the first day. The newborn was washed with cold water, covered and placed in a hole made in the ground that would be used as a simple playpen. At five the child was nationalized by a theocratic state that, like the Mexica, was governed by strict hierarchies. And just as in Mesoamerica, the ritual murder of children was carried out in several Andean societies.

In November of 1999 National Geographic published an article with several photographs of mummies perfectly preserved at 6,700 meters above the sea level: the highest archaeological site of the world. Those were children that had been voluntarily given by their parents to be killed: an eight-year-old boy and two girls. “The Inca,” says the article, “obtained children from throughout the empire [for sacrifice] and rewarded their families with positions or goods.” In some cases the parents themselves accompanied the child in her journey to immolation. In conjunction with other barbaric forms of childrearing, the practice formed the bicameral minds that would be an all-too-easy prey for Pizarro (who in Spain had been a swineherd). The chroniclers wrote about those sacrifices. Nevertheless, with the perennial excuse that “Winners write history” in some Latin American circles the myth was created that the chroniclers’ stories were mythical. The discovery of the mummies by the end of the century confirmed the authenticity of the Spanish stories that the children were buried alive, or killed by a blow to the head, which is how according to the autopsy they killed one of the girls.

However, just as Bolivian nationalists such as Pavisic angrily ask “And who are you to condemn the sacrifices?,” the National Geographic article is a disgrace. The author, Johan Reinhard, is afraid to judge the parents and the society that produced them. He idealizes them in the most servile way, thus betraying the memory of the children. Reinhard wrote overt falsehoods about the Amerindians, for example, “the Inca were not the brutal conquerors the Spaniards were.” He writes that on the same page in which he asserted that the Inca rewarded the parents who offered their children for sacrifice. Reinhard also wrote, euphemistically, “right after she died” referring to one of the sacrificed girls instead of the natural “right after they killed her.” And when he mentions that the chroniclers reported that others were buried alive, he hastened to add: “The Llullaillaco children, however, have benign expressions.” More offensive are the photograph headings at the beginning and the end of the article: “Go Gently” referring to the pubescent girl that was found in fetal position buried in a hole, and “Eternity Bound” referring to the sacrifice of the three children in general. And the fact that the sacrificial site was found at the top of the mountain makes Reinhard exclaim: “The conditions only increased my respect for what the Inca had accomplished.”

In the next chapter I will approach the subject of the intellectual aberration known as cultural relativism, of which Reinhard and many other academics are distinguished exponents. Suffice it to say that the ethnologists and anthropologists are a lost cause. Our only hope lies in that another generation replaces those who presently occupy academic chairs. How I wish that the younger minds learned something about psychohistory; for example, that they became interested in the greatest adventure of the world by reading the Bernal Díaz story up to the arrival of the Spaniards to Tenochtitlan.

And I must tell how in this town of Tlaxcala we found wooden houses furnished with gratins, full of Indian men and women imprisoned in them, being fed up until they were fat enough to be sacrificed and eaten. The prisons we broke open and destroyed and set free the prisoners who were in them, and these poor Indians did not dare to go to any direction, only to stay there with us and thus escape with their lives. From now on, in all the towns that we entered, the first thing our Captain ordered us was to break open these prisons and set free the prisoners.

These prisons are common throughout the land and when Cortés and all of us saw such great cruelty he was very angry with the Caciques of Tlaxcala, and they promised that from that time forth they would not eat and kill any more Indians in that way. I said of what benefit were all those promises, for as soon as we turned our heads they would commit the same cruelties. And let us leave it like that and tell how we were ordered to go to Mexico.

The indigenistas are dishonest people. In the book Toltecayotl Miguel León Portilla accepts that indigenous families usually abuse contemporary Indian women. But in that book León Portilla blames, incredibly, the Conquest for the current abuses by the male Indian to the female Indian. He then writes that “the situation of the pre-Hispanic Nahua woman highly differed from his condition today,” and to support his claim a few pages later he quotes a passage from those Nahua homiletics that León Portilla is so fond: “The little girl: little creature, little lovebird, oh so little, so tender, so well fed…” But in the same Toltecayotl chapter León Portilla also published an illustration of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis of a Mexica housewife that looks anything but happy. In absolute contrast to León Portilla, the Anonymous Conqueror wrote that there were no people in the world who had women in less esteem than the Mesoamericans. And in his most recent book, The Origins of War in Child Abuse, deMause wrote: “Aztec females were treated even worse than Islamic females.” It is indeed preposterous that the Spanish soldiers of the sixteenth century manifested better empathy for the victims of that culture than the scholars of today. But to understand the mestizo León Portilla it is pertinent to note that in Apologética Historia, written at the middle of the sixteenth century, Las Casas praised the Indian reprimands of parents to their children by calling them “sane, prudent and rational.” Las Casas even located such poisonous pedagogy above the teachings of Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras and even Aristotle.

The most recent treatise about the encounter between the Spanish and Mexican empires is Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés and the Fall of Old Mexico by Hugh Thomas. It catches the attention that, as a typical bienpensant, in the preface’s first paragraph Thomas candidly talks about the members of the two cultures without realizing that they belong to very distinct psychoclasses. On the next page Thomas writes about “compassion” as one of the virtues of the Mexica in spite of the fact that on the next line he sates that even the babies in arms were made to cry with brutality before sacrificing them! As to the treatment of women Thomas writes, dishonestly, that their position was at lest as comparable to the female Europeans of that age, although we perfectly know that European women were not deceived to be sacrificed, decapitated and skinned punctually according to rituals of the Aztec calendar. And the women who would not be sacrificed were not allowed to wear sandals, unlike their husbands. In the codexes the Indian females appear generally on their knees while the males are on sitting facilities (This reminds me that when visiting Chiapas in his youth, it shocked my father that Indian women wore obscure clothing: their humblest figures could not contrast more with the very colorful garments of the male Indians.) And we must remember the Indian costume of selling, and even giving as presents, their daughters. The same Malinali, later called equivocally Marina or “La Malinche,” Cortés’ right hand, had been sold by her mother to some traders from Xicallanco, who in turn had sold her to some Mayas who sold her to some Chontales, who offered her as a present to Cortés. Thomas even takes as historical the words of the chronicler in regard to Xicoténcatl II’s delegation when, after Xicoténcatl’s people suffered crushing defeats, he went into the Spanish camp with words that portray the treatment of the Indian woman by their own: “And if you want sacrifices, take these four women that you may sacrifice, and you can eat their flesh and their hearts. Since we don’t know how you do it we have not sacrificed them before you.” The study of Salvador de Madariaga about the conquest, published under the title Hernán Cortés (Macmillan, NY, 1941), precedes half a century Thomas’ study. Without the ominous clouds of cultural relativism that cover the skies of our times, in Madariaga’s study it is valid to advance value judgments.

Fortunately, not all of our contemporaries live under a clouded sky. In 2003 El País Semanal published a translation of an article by Matthias Schulz that described as “demonic” and “brutal” the Mesoamerican practice of human sacrifice. Schulz also called the Mexicas “bloodthirsty.” The politically-correct Mexican indigenistas rendered their garments. In July of that year the farthest leftist of the Mexican newspapers, La Jornada, jointly published a response. Eduardo Matos-Moctezuma blurted out that “mentalities such as Schulz’s are the ones who lend themselves, because of their closed mind, to slaughtering.” But Matos-Moctezuma did not deny the historicity of the Indians slaughtering their own folks. Professor María Alba Pastor, also quoted in La Jornada, offered an absolutely psychotic and dishonest explanation for the sacrifices: “Perhaps they were a reaction to the Conquest.” For Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Talking about cannibalism, Yólotl González, author of a book on Mesoamerican sacrifices, was not left behind: “Thus they gave a practical use to the dead bodies.” Take note that González does not deny the historicity of cannibalism. Her nonsense consists in her interpretation. The historian Guillermo Tovar manifested that Schulz’s text was “a Taliban Occidentalism, deprecating and oblivious of other traditions.” Mónica Villar, the director of Arqueología Mexicana, criticized what she called “disinformation” referring to Schulz’s statement that “no peoples had practiced human sacrifices in such dimensions.” Nevertheless, when the next issue of Arqueología Mexicana came out, the journal’s scholars did not refute Schulz. León Portilla responded with his favorite argument: that the Christianity that the Spaniards brought also had as its basis the sacrifice of a son, Jesus Christ. The veteran indigenista ignored the fact that precisely such theology represented a deflection from the filicide drive to a symbolic sublimation of it; and that the Roman Christian emperors and the Church’s fathers fought to banish the late forms of infanticide in the Early Middle Ages with the same zeal that conservatives fight abortion today. DeMause has profusely written on this transition and it is unnecessary to elaborate his ideas here. This is something so obvious that, in contrast to the sophisticated indigenistas, any child could understand: in Christendom parents did not sacrifice and cannibalize their children, and León Portilla’s argument is gross sophistry.

While Jacques Soustelle’s panegyric of the ancient Mexicans is stunning from the lyrical viewpoint, a closer reading of Daily Life of the Aztecs reveals its trappings. Soustelle wants us to believe that the lowest social strata of the Mexica civilization was represented by the slave, who according to him was highly more privileged than the European slave. The fallacy of his presentation consists in the fact that the Mexica slave could be sold and sacrificed. In the Tlatelolco market, the largest market of the Americas, slaves were sold tied by the neck to big sticks (as in the film Apocalypto). Moreover: the slave was not actually at the bottom of the social strata. Down there were the captives who, whether fatten for consumption or not, awaited their turn on the sacrificial stone.

But moralists like Schulz are not alone. In his post-scriptum to The Labyrinth of Solitude Octavio Paz wrote these words that I translate now:

Like those torture wheels that appear in Sade’s novels, the Aztec year was a circle of eighteenth months soaked wet with blood; eighteenth ways to die by being killed by arrows or by immersion in water or by cutting the throat or by flaying […]. On which religious and social aberration could a city of the beauty of Mexico-Tenochtitlan be the theater of water, stone and sky for a hallucinating funeral ballet? And for which obfuscation of the spirit nobody among us—I don’t have in mind the outworn nationalists but the scholars, the historians, the artists and the poets—want to see and accept that the Aztec World is one of the aberrations in history?

Bernal talks even more directly than Paz, more rosy-cheeked I would dare to say. The sacrifices he simply labels as “wicked things,” “great cruelties,” and the self-harming, “clumsiness.” The original Spanish prose is delicious when Bernal writes, for example, that Mesoamericans “had the habit of sacrificing their foreheads and the ears, tongues and lips, breasts and arms and their fleshy parts, and the legs and even their natural parts,” the genitals. Conversely, when Hugh Thomas mentions the cannibalism he does it cautiously, as if he does not want to cause any offence. Yet, the erudite and refined Sahagún, considered by León Portilla the first ethnologist of history, concurs with the soldier, as we saw with his exclamation (there are other exclamations of this sort in his encyclopedic work).
 

The feathered serpent

If the pre-Hispanic world was an aberration, as Paz says, that does not demerit their findings in mathematics and astronomy.

Although Quetzalcoatl harmed his leg and sprinkled blood out of his penis, he was the most humanitarian of the gods in the pre-Columbian pantheon. He never offered human blood to the gods. According to the legend, Tezcatlipoca counteracted Quetzalcoatl’s influence and regained social control by means of the dark side of the force, thus reestablishing the sacrifices in the great Toltec city. Quetzalcoatl fled away toward the East, from which the ulterior legend emerged that he would return from the Orient.

In 1978 I went once more to live some months to the house of my grandmother [this is related to my first book]: a very numinous and even happy stage that I would like to recount in another place. I became wrapped in Jung’s Man and his Symbols and some nights I walked to the park called Parque Hundido, which contains exact replicas of pre-Hispanic statuary. One night, alone and immersed in my thoughts as always during my adolescence, the pair of enormous replicas of feathered serpents at the park’s entrance caught my attention. It stroke me as an extraordinary intuition or divination from the collective unconscious, the fact that long before paleontology pre-Hispanics could have bequeathed us the perfect symbol of the missing link between the reptile and the bird. The two great feathered serpents of stone that I contemplated that fresh night in the park, way taller than me, were the same symbol of the caduceus: two serpents that long for their wings. Quetzal is feather in Nahua, and cóatl serpent, feathered serpent: symbol par excellence of transcendence. However hard I struggled those days to transcend myself it was impossible to arrive to my present psychogenic state, even though the unconscious drive was formidable.

That night I did not understand how come the symbol of quetzal-cóatl could be so clairvoyant, so accurate to describe human emergency in such an oneiric and perceptive way. Now, exactly thirty years later, I ask myself: Hadn’t the Europeans existed how long would have taken these people to give up their practices and pass on to a later form of infanticide (say, the exposure in Rome)?

The legend of Quetzalcoatl, that in its latest incarnation appears as a god of white skin, makes me think that the very first feathers for a psychogenic leap were already present in the New World before the arrival of the white man.
 
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The objective of the book is to present to the racialist community my philosophy of The Four Words on how to eliminate all unnecessary suffering. If life allows, next time I will reproduce another chapter. Those interested in obtaining a copy of Day of Wrath may visit: this artcle.

A body-snatched Spaniard

I have edited and moved this entry here (see also here).

Laing and Anti-Psychiatry

Or:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the other nine books see here.