Nobody wanted to listen, 9

Ronald Laing and anti-psychiatry

What’s written above leads me to a corollary to my book How to Murder Your Child’s Soul. The universal stubbornness or blindness about the ravages resulting from parental abuse is the cause of the existence of psychiatry. Because parents are taboo, for more than a century the profession has tried to find the source of mental disorders on the wrong side, the body. Parents are not only publicly untouchable: we are not even allowed to see their actions in the solitude of our bedrooms. So, when uncontaminated by social underpinnings, a child dares to say that his parental kings go naked, society completely loses its cool and labels the sane one who has told the truth as crazy. Through the involuntary administration of drugs it assaults the brain not of the disturbed parents, but of the child (analogously, in the former Soviet Union it was the sanest people, the dissidents, who were injected with antipsychotics). This was the tragedy that I tried to denounce in my previous books, and it is perfectly explainable if we start from the fact that the whole society strives to be blind on this matter.

A world that insists on seeing things in photographic negative can only (1) attack the child victim, or (2) ignore the adult in a literary search for his lost time. If such a vision in photonegative didn’t exist, bio-psychiatry wouldn’t exist: our eyes and hearts would make us see the toll that abuse entails. Psychic disturbances would be the province of the psychologist, and it would be seen as nonsense that they would be the province of the physician. It is more than ironic that the greatest critics of psychiatry have contributed, with their blindness, to perpetuate the pseudoscience they try to debunk.

To explain this situation, I would like to mention that in 2005 an American wrote me a letter. After reading ‘Why Psychiatry is a False Science’ published as an appendix to my previous book (the article that Laurence Simon refused to publish), he complained that after so many decades of activism critics of psychiatry hadn’t made a dent in the public conscience. The key to understanding this is that the critics themselves suffer from a blind spot in the centre of their vision: something similar to the black strip that appears on pay-TV channels. If the critics refuse to see what is central, that parental abuse causes neuroses and psychoses, and if it is from this black strip that it is intended to enlighten others, it shouldn’t be surprising that the public conscience hasn’t awakened.

______ 卐 ______

 
Interpolated note for this site:

Exactly the same happens to white nationalists, as Mike has told us on this site: ‘Whatever you want to call it, thinking you can aid in saving the white race while, at the same time, bending the knee to Jewish deities (Yahweh and Yeshua) is some kind of combination of insane, dishonest, cowardly, naive, or very stupid. To bottom line it, it won’t and can’t work’.

I used Mike’s words to debunk MacDonald at the end of my Daybreak.

______ 卐 ______

 
To clarify this point, I will now refer to those professionals who didn’t suffer from this blind spot. Unlike Szasz and Breggin’s epigones, Lidz, Laing, Arieti and others pointed to parents as responsible for the psychoses in their patients. But even these and many other psychiatrists didn’t sympathise with the victim with the integrity and empathy that Miller and I do. For example, in the Letter I quoted Theodore Lidz:

I also find it very distressing that because the parents’ attitudes and interactions are important determinants of schizophrenic disorders, some therapists and family caseworkers treat parents as villains who have ruined the lives of their patients.

Although I barely caught a glimpse of it when I wrote the Letter, now I clearly see in this sentence the typical fears to speak, without mincing words, of parental guilt. By resisting saying that abusive parents are what they are—the villains in the child’s movie—Lidz advised taking the victim away from his parent. The difference with Miller cannot be greater, who advises keeping the aggressor away from home. What’s the point of moving, say, a pubescent girl raped by her father if the aggressor stays at home, waiting for the next little sister to grow up to molest her too? But sexual abuse isn’t the most common.

At the time of reviewing this chapter, as of mid-2008, twenty-eight nations have prohibited corporal punishment of children. The dates indicate the year the legislation came into force, starting with the country that provided the example: Sweden (1979); Finland (1983); Norway (1987); Austria (1989); Cyprus (1994); Latvia (1998); Croatia (1999); Bulgaria, Israel and Germany (2000); Iceland (2003); Romania and Ukraine (2004); Hungary (2005); Greece (2006), Chile, Holland, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela (2007); Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, Malta and South Africa (2008). In Iceland, a country that illustrates Miller’s advice, the penalties for parents go up to three years in prison or a high fine. Note that these countries have omitted to include psychological and emotional abuse, which can be equally destructive, or even more so, since all bruises are internal (think of the Helfgott case and countless other schizogenic parents). Despite these legislative advances, these societies still cannot see other forms of undermining the emotional integrity of the children. Laing, who did focus on internal injuries, was closer to Miller than Lidz when he came to blatantly blame the maddening parents. But like Szasz, Laing philosophised from an ivory tower: cold and distant reason from the victim and his feelings, as was fashionable in the existential philosophy of his time. Much more reached the real person those who, without any philosophical ballast, addressed the issue of domestic violence: a revolution in psychology that began in the 1970s and 1980s and isn’t yet over. In the first chapter of The Divided Self (1960) entitled ‘The existential-phenomenological foundations for a science of persons’ Laing wrote:

It seems extraordinary that whereas the physical and biological sciences of it-processes have generally won the day against tendencies to personalize the world of things or to read human intentions into the animal world, an authentic science of persons has hardly got started by reason of the inveterate tendency to depersonalize or reify persons.

Laing refers to mental health professionals in particular and the social sciences in general.

If it is held that to be unbiased one should be ‘objective’ in the sense of depersonalizing the person who is the ‘object’ of our study, any temptation to do this under the impression that one is thereby being scientific must be rigorously resisted. Depersonalization in a theory that is intended to be a theory of persons is as false as schizoid depersonalization of others and is no less ultimately an intentional act. Although conducted in the name of science, such reification yields false ‘knowledge’. It is just as pathetic a fallacy as the false personalization of things.

In philosophising about the autobiographical genre, I came to these conclusions on my own. Animism and bio-reductionism are antithetical psychopathologies, one primitive and tribal and the other sophisticated and urban. And this objectifying people reminds me of the dehumanised language of the analyst Solbein: ‘Those are common clinical experiences’. [Interpolated note for this blog: See also Krist Krusher’s recent comment on this site.] Laing continues:

It is unfortunate that personal and subjective are words so abused as to have no power to convey any genuine act of seeing the other as person (if we mean this we have to revert to ‘objective’), but imply immediately that one is merging one’s own feelings and attitudes into one’s study of the other in such a way as to distort our perception of him. In contrast to the reputable ‘objective’ or ‘scientific’, we have the disreputable ‘subjective’, ‘intuitive’, or, worst of all, ‘mystical’. It is interesting, for example, that one frequently encounters ‘merely’ before subjective, whereas it is almost inconceivable to speak of anyone being ‘merely’ objective.

So far I’m in perfect agreement with Laing. Remember the passage of the two universes, the empirical and the interior; and that the existence of the subjective universe is so real that it is enough to think about our death to verify it [mentioned in the first part of the book]. However, Laing adds:

The greatest psychopathologist has been Freud. Freud was a hero. He descended to the ‘Underworld’ and met there stark terrors. He carried with him his theory as a Medusa’s head which turned these terrors to stone. We who follow Freud have the benefit of the knowledge he brought back with him and conveyed to us.

As I pointed out in my previous book, for Jeffrey Masson psychoanalysis was born as a betrayal of women. The Oedipus complex was nothing more than a grotesque attempt to cast guilt on the victims who came to Freud’s office to tell him stories of incest. Analytic theory is the diametrically opposite of wielding the head of the Medusa. If there is such a thing as the antithesis of the hero, that was Sigmund Freud: an ethnic Jew who, although he reached the threshold, was afraid to enter the Underworld and face pure terrors (remember my dreams when commenting on Giorgio de Chirico’s painting). Laing, an idol in my twenties, portrayed Freud in photographic negative and saw the dark as bright. Like many intellectuals of his day, Laing was seduced by the apotheosis of the Vienna quack, something in which Szasz was much more cautious.

When I reread Laing, I did so with a renewed mind after reading Masson, Szasz, and other critics of the psychoanalytic movement. In my rereading of the last chapter of The Divided Self I realised that Julie, one of Laing’s patients, was admitted to a psychiatric ward for almost a decade. If Laing himself hadn’t suffered from the scientific objectivity that he criticises, he would have empathised with Julie denouncing those who locked her up. True, in stark contrast to Szasz and Simon, Laing blamed mothers like Julie’s for their daughter’s psychosis. However, in The Divided Self he never made it clear that the mere fact of locking her up could aggravate her condition. In what I am close to Laing is that when reading his essay one is left under the impression that Julie’s mother, more than psychiatry, ‘murdered a girl’. These are the words of Julie speaking parabolically about herself: she meant that her mother murdered her tender soul. Now, the person Julie, not the object of Laing’s essay, needed to be taken away from the psychiatric hospital and from the mother who committed her; to take her to live far from her ‘murderer’. When she began her psychotic crisis at seventeen years old and said ‘a little girl was murdered’ Julie thought that she should inform the police about the crime.

Her delirium was closer to Miller’s posture than to the psychiatric that locked her up. The laws of a nation should seek to lock up the maddening parent, not the victim (who, in a state of florid psychosis, would have to be cared for in a non-repressive enclosure like the one that Laing presided over). In a just society that doesn’t see reality in the photonegative, this would naturally be done through the police. But in her chapter on Julie, Laing never suggests this. In fact, both the word victim and an exhortation of justice are the great absent in The Divided Self. Also, Laing doesn’t denounce the psychiatric re-victimisation of other women clearly maddened by their family. In another of his famous books, The Politics of Experience, he limits himself to reproaching society for misunderstanding psychoses. Sometimes Laing even seems to participate in the universal fear of touching the parent. Speaking of Julie’s mother, Laing mentions one of the fashionable concepts in the 1950s, the ‘schizophrenogenic mother’ but is quick to add that, fortunately in his opinion, there was no other ‘witch hunt’ in history: an equivocal comparison with women labelled witches centuries ago. If there is one thing the world needs, through the law that Miller outlines, it is to bring to justice every parent who murders children souls. The basic pathology of our society is that this crime, and this crime alone, must remain not only unpunished but invisible. For example, Silvano Arieti, Laing’s colleague across the Atlantic, talked a lot about psychotherapy in Interpretation of Schizophrenia. But he never proposed any social engineering to redress the problem of maddening parents; and he didn’t do so despite the fact that Arieti blames them for the psychotic state of his patients.

‘To my mother and father’ reads the dedication of Laing’s The Divided Self. ‘To my parents’, the dedication of Arieti’s Interpretation of schizophrenia (etymologically, schizophrenia means a divided self). Naturally, the most sophisticated thinkers of insanity also had parents. (In my next book we will hear a class about the problem of attachment with the perpetrator that explains the lukewarmness of Laing, Arieti and others.) Not until the middle of The Divided Self Laing speaks openly about abusive parents. In contrast, Miller and I do it from the first page of our writing, and passionately.

After reading The Divided Self, the best of Laing’s essays, I was convinced that there can be no such thing as a science of subjects. Seen from the outside, the subject inevitably becomes an object: an offense for those who want to speak with their own voice. This is precisely the foundational flaw of academic psychology. If science is the study of the empirical world there can be no such thing as a ‘science of persons’, only people writing about their lives. Although Laing had much more heart than Freud, and this puts him on a higher level to understand the tragedy of the person in crisis, he starts from the same objectivist position. His essays and those of Lidz are, at best, a solidary approach to the disturbed subject. It’s funny that in The Divided Self Laing quotes Sartre: ‘I am not fond of the word psychological. There is no such thing as the psychological. Let us say that one can improve the biography of the person’. I would go further. The direct study of a soul in psychotic hell can only come from the pen of someone who, like Modrow, speaks in the first person singular.

Nobody wanted to listen, 8

Peter Breggin and his editor

In my previous book I had said that the psychiatrist Peter Breggin has denounced the folie à deux between the parent who abuses his child and the psychiatrist who drugs not the aggressor, but the abused one. Unfortunately, like Szasz Breggin’s successors suffer from a dire blind spot.

Critics of psychiatry who flourished around the 1960s, and the paradigm would be Ronald Laing, saw the most important thing in their profession: the family is responsible for mental disorders. However, as soon as the embryonic anti-psychiatric movement proposed by Laing and others was conceived, it was aborted. Today’s critics are much more politically correct than those of the 60s, including the associations of survivors of psychiatry. Although they fight biological psychiatry, these professionals and survivors don’t want to see what’s in front of them: abusive parents are the number one cause of mental disorders. From this angle, the criticism of the profession by Modrow and Miller, who do not suffer from this blind spot, is far superior.

EHPP stands for Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. When I learned that a journal that Peter Breggin created was challenging psychiatry, I was delighted. That’s what the world needed! Although already in my forties, with a youthful spirit I sent to the journal’s editor an original contribution to the academic critique of psychiatry (eventually published as an appendix in my previous book under the title ‘Why psychiatry is a false science’). I was very excited and fantasised about contributing various articles and reviews to Breggin’s journal. What would be my surprise when the new editor, a certain Laurence Simon, answered me saying that it was necessary to modify some passages related to the trauma model. The condition for publishing was to tone down the idea that abusive parents could psychologically harm their child. Simon’s request surprised me because Breggin had written some texts indistinguishable from Miller’s point of view; in fact, Breggin mentions Miller several times in his books. Laurence Simon, his new editor, had turned one hundred and eighty degrees on what the journal’s founder had written. In Simon’s email to me, the trauma model ‘has long lost credibility with the scientific community as have all the older analytic theories that blame poor mother’.

To the poor mother! Simon didn’t answer my question if he had read the researchers of the trauma model. Nor did he respond to another of my letters where I pointed out the existence of academic books on this model published in the new century. In one of his emails Simon even complained that I kept using the word ‘trauma’ in a modified version of my text. I still had hopes of publishing in Breggin’s journal and was willing to sacrifice a few paragraphs from my article. But Simon’s anti-trauma stance made me think that, like my attackers at the Cineteca, the new editor harboured deep-seated fears about something in his past. The old work of authors who studied cases of maddening parents was left out of my article. I relented on this point, but it seemed incredible to me that references to Theodore Lidz, Ronald Laing and Silvano Arieti, widely read authors in the 1960s and 1970s, would have to be censored in the journal that Breggin had created. Simon then revealed his true colours by insisting that all references to the trauma model, including contemporary authors, should be left out of my article.

I complained to Andrew Levine, the person in charge of responding to letters sent to the organization that Breggin founded, and to co-editor Johnatan Leo. None responded. I complained to Dominick Riccio, the director of international affairs. No reply. I complained to David Cohen, the editor before Simon and a close associate of Breggin. Cohen sided with Simon. I complained in several letters to Breggin himself, the director of the organisation that publishes the journal. Breggin hid behind in a wall of silence. I insisted and his wife, Ginger Breggin, wrote a few words in her own hand in one of my missives that she returned to me. Ginger simply claimed that her husband ‘no longer worked’ at the journal. But the truth is that Breggin continued to lead the organisation that publishes it, and his attitude seemed inconsistent with his previous position, if not cowardly.

Only now do I realise that, like Szasz, I had idealised Breggin. It was very hard for the idealist that I was to wake up to the fact that, although he has dedicated himself to denouncing what psychiatrists do with minors—an issue in which Carlos García so miserably cowed—Breggin hadn’t the stature I imagined. It is impossible to convey in a few paragraphs how confused I was by this little affair. I couldn’t believe my senses: that the most important thing of all had to be censored in the pages of the journal that Peter Breggin had created. In my private diaries of those days I wrote:

18 September 2003

It seems that my article won’t be published. See what Simon tells me this day, and my response.

I had to take another long walk in the street saddened by the resistance of the world even in those who professionally criticise psychiatry. As Miller says, the greatest resistance comes from the professionals themselves. Every time I run into a jerk like Simon I enhance the figure of this woman even more. I think I should try again with Cohen and Breggin but I highly doubt it will work. As always, Caesar, the people are incomparably more Neanderthalesque than you imagined.

Hopefully this is false and Breggin understands me…

He didn’t. Even two years after the rejection of my article, I still couldn’t believe my senses: that Breggin’s editor took a position contrary to something Breggin himself had written. So in September 2005 I made one last attempt at communication. To make sure my letter got through, I sent it to him through Federal Express. Somewhat edited for this book I quote some passages of the letter:

Dear Dr. Breggin:

I would like to thank you for your work. When I was a teenager, my mother ruined my young life by putting neuroleptics in my orange juice without my knowing it. Thanks to your work I now know that the hellish akathisia I experienced was the direct result of the drug. I am truly grateful for enlightening me on this issue.

I wrote you two or three letters in 2003 and 2004. Although none were answered, I hope this one is, and directly from you. The fact is that Laurence Simon contradicts what you say in chapter 2 of Toxic Psychiatry. Allow me to quote something from your book, which in my opinion is one of the best on the subject: ‘More than one patient of mine has begun with just such anguished fragments of memory before discovering the agony of his or her abusive childhood and its relationships to current entrapments’ (p. 24). Then, saying something very similar to what Laing used to say, you wrote:

Mad persons are victims of a corrupt upbringing: Behavior that gets labeled schizophrenic is a special strategy that a person invented in order to live in an unlivable situation [your emphasis]. What’s wrong is not “in the patient,” but in his family and society [p. 31].

You made many other similar pronouncements in the chapter on schizophrenia under the headings ‘The Family,’ ‘Envy and Shaming in the Family,’ ‘Blaming’ and ‘Should Parents Feel Guilty?’ In fact, the view you present on what is labelled schizophrenia is identical to mine. This is why I am so puzzled that your new editor takes the opposite position: that the aetiology of psychoses is a mystery.

I am about to finish a book that includes extremely harsh criticism of Laurence Simon and EHPP because Simon’s ‘poor mother’ stance is an insult to people like Modrow and many others who have had terribly abusive mothers (and fathers alike). I would like to spare you from such criticism. Those passages above show that you are—or at least were when writing Toxic Psychiatry—a very understanding person towards survivors. They also show that you believe there is some truth to the claim that some parents drive their child mad.

So please reply to this letter. How was it possible for your editor to take exactly the opposite position from what you say in your most important book? If the topic of parental abuse is central to understanding mental disorders, why haven’t you fired him?

Respectfully,

C.T.

The years that followed the editor’s rejection and the wall of silence behind which Breggin hid from me represented a great confrontation with reality. In addition to resigning myself to publishing my article not in a specialised journal but as an appendix to my previous book, I had to swallow the bitter drink that critics of psychiatry suffer from the same fears as psychiatrists, analysts, and psychologists. To give just one example: the EHPP editors failed to publish an obituary, or even better a tribute, to Theodore Lidz: one of the most prominent Americans in the trauma model of schizophrenia in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, who died in 2001 at the age of ninety (I talked to him over the phone when I lived in Houston). Even when Breggin and Cohen were EHPP editors, I didn’t find a single article in their journal about the work of Lidz or other authors of the trauma model, not even a critical one. Just as psychiatrists do, for these ‘anti-psychiatrists’ the trauma model is not even mentioned. Clearly, in recent decades there has been a failure of the nerve among critics of psychiatry.

Published in: on October 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm  Comments Off on Nobody wanted to listen, 8  

Queer generation

Racist folks who have passed away—Robert Mathews, David Lane, Dr. Pierce, Revilo Oliver, Ben Klassen, George Lincoln Rockwell—were tougher than the younger white nationalists of today. They were also far less compromising with the System’s lies than what we see nowadays in the Alt-Right scene. This reminds me an obituary that I wrote on October 16, 2012 and I translate now into English:

Tom Szasz (1920-2012)

I heard that Thomas Szasz died last month, who had a great influence on my thinking while writing the second book of Hojas Susurrantes twelve years ago. After learning about his death I visited YouTube and watched a long lecture by Szasz at his ninetieth birthday.

Although my critical study of psychiatry is now a thing of the past in my life—the race replacement that occurs throughout the West is infinitely more alarming—I had not seen critical material about psychiatry since then. But I used the news about Szasz’s death to watch other anti-psychiatric videos.

I was surprised to discover that Robert Whitaker [not to be confused with the one who coined the mantra], another of the authors mentioned in Hojas Susurrantes, has published a book critical of the profession that became a bestseller. Anatomy of an Epidemic is even influencing the fraudulent profession that we call psychiatry (this is just one of the several didactic videos of Whitaker that I watched following the death of Szasz).

Finally, remembering the trauma model of mental disorders, so central to my Hojas Susurrantes, yesterday, as I continued to refresh myself on the latest news in psychiatry criticism, I saw several interviews with Colin Ross including this one about trauma. (I quote Ross at length in a pivotal chapter in Hojas Susurrantes.)

How interesting was it to learn that it was the elder Szasz the only one in these videos who, at the beginning of the Q&A session, spoke with the right emotional tone—an open and emotional condemnation—that if a child is sent to a psychiatrist, it is because ‘the parents had done something wrong’, not the child!

Ross, on the other hand, the very psychiatrist who coined the term ‘trauma model’ when referring to parents who drive their children mad, spoke sparingly about the parents in the above-linked interview: as if he wanted to soft-pedal his main message, or convey a politically-correct image to a wider audience.

Whitaker, the psychiatry critic with the most momentum because of his bestseller, doesn’t even know that abusive parents are the cause of mental disorders. He even thinks—as orthodox psychiatrists do—that the aetiology of mental distress and disorders ‘could be biological’!

I’ve already said it elsewhere and I’m not afraid to say it again: Psychiatry critics of the first generation of critics, now all dead—Szasz, Lidz, Laing, Miller—were much braver than critics who are still with us—Whitaker, Ross and those scholars who publish in the journal that Breggin founded.

I am writing this post to reassess the critics of the old guard, and especially Szasz, who has left us.

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’ to involuntary hospitalisation, and ‘therapy’ the electroshock punishment in psychiatric wards. Civil society must vehemently repudiate these words of the Therapeutic State. To illustrate why we must do it, I would like to make reference to an ideology that, in contrast to the totalitarianism of the 20th century, triumphed and imposed its Newspeak for centuries.

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

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

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

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

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

Let us now listen to Ronald Laing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

______ 卐 ______

Liked it? Take a second to support this site.

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.