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Subject: [alt.flame.psychiatry] FAQ: Welcome! Read this First!
This article was archived around: 22 Feb 98 00:12:47 GMT
The alt.flame.psychiatry Frequently-Asked Questions File
Generally, those who want to foist Electroshock Treatment on
others do so because they make a living out of it and because it is a
way of effecting social control. I suggest that more lawsuits be
directed at doctors and others who misrepresent themselves to the public
in the name of helping people with their "mental illness." One cannot
reason with people who believe that coercion is medicine, ECT and
mental illness are science. One has to speak to them in a language
they understand, i.e., the full force of the law. Assertions that
people don't recognize their mental illness and therefore don't
recognize their "need" for ECT are fraudulent and those making such
assertions should be held legally accountable for assault and battery,
not to mention fraud and product liability.
-- Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor, Department of Justice,
Law and Society
Everyone must be "somebody." The one thing one cannot be is
*unclassified*. The person who is too eclectic in his choices and
conduct, and does not fit into any of society's pigeonholes, becomes
the object of suspicion and hostility. By refusing to conform to a
stereotype, he remains an individual. Much as we may like individualism
as an abstract idea, we tend to dislike individuals. This is because we
are often baffled by them: we cannot understand their behaviour, and
what is even worse, we cannot predict it. Frequently, such an
individual is regarded as a threat to others.
-- Thomas Szasz, "Ideology and Insanity", 1970
The adjuration to be "normal" seems shockingly repellent to me; I see
neither hope nor comfort in sinking to that low level. I think it is
ignorance that makes people think of abnormality only with horror and
allows them to remain undismayed at the proximity of "normal" to
average and mediocre. For surely anyone who achieves anything is,
-- Dr. Karl Menninger, "The Human Mind", 1930
"Take advantage of opportunities, but guard yourself against evil.
Humility deserves honor and respect, but a low opinion of yourself
leads to sin. Do not let others have their way at your expense, and
do not bring on your own ruin by giving up your rights."
-- Sirach 4:20-22, Good News Version (Apocrypha)
If your Internet Service Provider (the people who gave you the
computer account you used to download this) is not carrying the
feed from the newsgroup "alt.flame.psychiatry", then please urge
your sysop to do so. In order to convince him or her to carry it,
say that this newsgroup has a low bandwidth (an average of 3-4
postings per day compared with groups like "rec.humor" or
"alt.sex.binaries.<your fetish here>", which have hundreds of posts
daily, on average). Afp will not crash computer systems nor cause
huge increases in system loads; and in addition it will not
overload the news spool! ;-)
And aside from these practical matters, we are also concerned with
human rights issues. So, there is absolutely no reason they shouldn't
carry it - unless they just haven't *heard* of us!
This FAQ is also carried on four different newsgroups.
Your ISP will carry the last three newsgroups.
Question 12. (Thanks to Paul Southworth)
Questions 13 and 14 are added; and the questions following are
DOWNLOADING This FAQ: This is not an exhaustive list. Pick a
site nearest you. All paths end in "psychiatry/alt-flame/faq", except
for Gopher sites, which use menus.
From Germany: (There are actually several other places in Europe)
via FSP from: ftp.Germany.EU.net, port 2001
(this FTP site uses compression. You must download a GZIP
decompression package to see the text, which should be
available at this site)
From Hong Kong:
From Mexico and Central America:
(this FTP site uses compression. You must download an
UNCOMPRESS package to see the text, which should be available
at this site.)
From South Africa:
From the United Kingdom:
via FSP from: src.doc.ic.ac.uk, port 21
From the United States:
rtfm.mit.edu is the central repository for most of the official
FAQs that appear on the Usenet. In fact, this is the place where
you are *guaranteed* the most up-to-date FAQ, since they have to
do the auto-posting.
From the Web:
Old postings to afp can be found at http://dejanews.com, using
"alt.flame.psychiatry" as a search string.
Other WWW Pages: Check out a site nearest you:
This actually leads to a search engine where the FAQ must be
downloaded via FTP as above.
The UK: http://src.doc.ic.ac.uk/usenet/news-faqs/news.answers/
This is the "plain text" version of the FAQ. Unlike the next
address, you can't use it to surf the Web without the
See our afp FAQ on HTML - all links and email addresses
mentioned in this FAQ are *LIVE* on this web page, and can be
accessed directly by pointing and clicking your mouse. Also,
unlike the other web pages, this URL is a complete address,
and does not end with "psychiatry/alt-flame/faq".
The USA: http://www.smartpages.com/faqs/
ORIGINAL NEWSGROUP CHARTER:
Charter authored by: Jensbender@delphi.com
Date: Aug 28, 1996
Charter: "Alt.flame.psychiatry is set up for the purpose of starting
critical discussion of the psychiatric profession, by sane and
insane participants alike. This is not a support group. Participation
by psychiatric professionals is strongly discouraged, as there exist
other forums for them."
Welcome to afp!
This is a FAQ file for a long-overdue newsgroup called
alt.flame.psychiatry (I guess you knew that).
If there are any questions I haven't thought of, please write to
me at email@example.com
The main thrust of this FAQ is to take a philosophical look at
the whole science of psychiatry. This must begin by asking
ourselves "what is a science?" Can we ask "what is personality"
in the same sense that we can ask "why is the sky blue?"
0. Do I have to agree with the opinions in this FAQ to join in the
Of course not. 60-70% of the opinions expressed in this FAQ are my
own, and I have added the voices of contributors whenever I got
the chance, and I am sure that there are many more points of view
that are just as legitimate. I am taking the role of a philosopher
in this FAQ. Philosophy is not the only approach possible
(although it's an easy one for me). There are also more empirical
and scientific ways of writing this FAQ, but I have decided for
once to spare us all of the war of words and terminologies, and
examine the rhetoric itself, and go back to the basic questions
that everyone should have a pretty clear idea about, regardless of
where you are in life, or regardless of how much you know about
psychiatry or medicine.
And again, you may have your own reasons for being malcontented
with psychiatry or counselling. Perhaps you didn't find your own
opinions reflected in this FAQ. There is nothing stopping you from
writing a "second opinion FAQ" or a "companion FAQ." On the other
hand, there is nothing stopping you from sending your question and
answer (or opinion on some issue) to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If
it meets the criteria of "righteous dissent" suitable for this
group, and if it is substantially different from what has been
mentioned here, I will probably add it.
1. What is meant by "flame"?
To insult and heap invective on someone, something, or an
idea. But in psychiatric terms, to simply offer valid and
balanced criticism of psychiatry is enough to pass as
"flaming". Remember, good patients are seen as totally uncritical,
while valid, thoughtful critics of psychiatry are seen as hostile.
2. So, why flame psychiatrists?
The short answer is because there are several factors that
invalidate psychiatry as a scientific enterprise. In fact,
rather than having a scientific basis, a solid case can be
made for psychiatry having an ideological basis.
3. What's that mean in English?
i. That inmates of psychatric wards are there to fulfill
medical ideology rather than because they are "sick". The
corollary is that mental illness is a myth.
ii. Outpatients who visit psychiatric clinics are milder
victims of the same ideology, and thus are rarely helped.
4. What about other mental health professionals: psychologists,
social workers, nurses, and so on?
Therapists other than doctors present more of a mixed bag. The
theoretical orientation of social workers or psychologists
need not be based on the medical model, or on behaviour
modification. And unless the patient is obligated to see the
therapist, then there is the element of choice of seeing or
not seeing the therapist. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists
use intelligence tests, personality inventories, inkblots, and
other nonsense to diagnose a patient.
Really, if any of these types of therapists pose a problem to
an individual, they are fair game in our newsgroup.
5. As it applies to psychiatry, what is meant by "medical
ideology"? Is that a political faction that I don't know about?
No, ... no political faction. Let's break that down:
i. medical: applies to medicine: fever, appendicitis,
broken bones, that kind of stuff.
ii. ideology: that great killer of humanness. This one takes a
bit more exlpaining.
When we espouse an ideology, regardless of what it is, we
fill our thoughts with: "wouldn't the world be a better
place if everyone did 'X'?" Psychiatry takes on the
ideology that what we think of as medicine should apply to
the mind. That is, the definition of "illness" should
apply to our thoughts, mental processes, intelligence, and
behaviour. Wouldn't the world be a better place if
everyone behaved normally? (ugh...)
6. When we make something an ideology, what are we really doing
when we try to put it into practice?
CARRYING OUT the ideology in the real world makes it a
totality (as in totalitarianism). It is like saying "Wouldn't
the world be a better place if everyone was in love?" Then,
making it a requirement in your institution that everyone MUST
be in love (or else). Kind of kills the whole concept, doesn't
it? What we are doing when we practice to carry out an
ideology is we are breaking spirits, and crushing wills.
Communism is an ideology in many parts of the world, and is
practiced as a totality: "Share everything you own with your
neighbour, or else!" is what we often heard from Stalin, Mao,
and others. It killed once and for all the natural, human will
to share, which only exposes itself when there are no laws
inhibiting the freedom to share or to not share.
Totality is the removal of choice, resulting in our being
treated, in the words of Stalin, "as obedient as a corpse."
7. Are psychiatrists totalitarian?
Whether they want to or not, yes. It is an integral part of
their training, and is often referred to as "patient
8. Are there examples of totalitarianism in other professions?
Well, corporations are very totalitarian. They fulfill the
needs of the owners, and all endeavours in a company is in the
service of increasing profit. That is quite a totality, and
takes precedence over issues of job security, and if no one
protests, workers' rights also.
Why stop there? Educational institutions are totaitarian in
their own agendas. Grade schools release objective-seeming
report cards where a child's entire self-esteem is changed by
the casual judgements of strangers as to how well-moulded they
are to the needs of the school and classroom. Academic
institutions also have similar agendas.
The military is bent on forming "killing machines" out of mere
mortals. This requires strong ideological indoctrination, and
is thus a totality.
9. So, you appear to be saying that totalitarianism is
everywhere. If everyone does it, then what's the problem? If
everybody's guilty of everything then nobody's guilty of
Wrong. Nice try, though!
The problem is, that in the areas mentioned under question 8
there is usually a way out. There are the courts, there are
appeals, tribunals, committees, so on. The individual has
certain discrete rights that can challenge totalitarian
decisions. So, in the end, they are not that totalitarian,
except that they serve to atomize the individual. Rights even
exist in jails.
In psychiatry, there *really is* no way out. When a person is
institutionalised involuntarily, there is no avenue for the
patient to say that he/she has been wrongfully
institutionalised. There is no appeal, the patient has only
the rights given to him by the doctor, and the patient may or
may not be told of these rights. In the true sense of the
word, institutionalisation results in the breaking of human
spirits. Even in the courts, the inpatient has few or no legal
rights, and won't have them after he leaves the asylum. The
patient becomes a non-person.
And, psychiatrists have rarely admitted to being wrong about
committing a patient.
So, oh yeah, there's a big problem.
10. Do you mean to say that psychiatry is invalid as a scientific
enterprise? (see question 2)
More or less. Psychiatry has been widely accused of lacking a
sound theoretical basis to justify its existence as a medical
profession. It is a profession where "personality" has no
agreed definition, yet they feel conversant in the area of
"personality disorder". "The mind" also has no agreed
definition, yet the phrase "mental illness" is coined with an
air of precision and crisp professionalism that makes it sound
that the speaker knows what he is saying.
To see the absurdity of this, we must look at another
science for which there are well-established definitions and
theories. Let's look at chemistry. Look at any high school
chemistry text, and the definitions of "the atom" are pretty
much the same. "The atom" is precisely defined, so that higher
concepts such as "atomic bonding" become discussable between
chemists. Even chemists from different countries, provided
they both speak the same language, will immediately know what
is being spoken about when the word "atom" or the phrase
"atomic bonding" is mentioned.
Could you imagine the chaos we would be in if mathematicians
spoke of "algebra" without having agreed on the definitions
for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division?
Such is the progress of psychiatry.
A psychiatrist can attempt to justify psychiatry's existence
by showing us rooms full of unhappy people for which no other
branch of medicine can offer relief. To say that this justifies
psychiatry is an appeal to emotion, and is not a valid explanation
on the level of establishing a sound theory that would justify its
existence among the sciences.
11. So, how can I best understand how psychiatry works?
Psychiatry is by its existence an apologetic for the
failures of society to provide adequate living conditions to
its people. Since the lion's share of psychiatric inmates are
from the poorer classes, psychiatry has evolved as a means of
containing the destructive effects of uncontrolled and
unregulated capitalism - that is, widespread poverty and
unemployment or under-employment, and the abused and broken
homes that result.
Psychiatrists are the janitors of capitalism.
The way to best understand how psychiatry works is if we try
to understand it from the point of view of ideology and
totality. In other words, the profession of psychiatry is most
easily understood as an enforcer of social norms, and as an
adjunct to the police, the government, and society's other
major institutions. The patients under their care are most
easily characterised as either a defeated race, a slave class,
or as concentration camp inmates. They are given only the last
refuge of the oppressed: to give in to their captors and to
follow all orders without question.
At best, they are second-class citizens with few rights. At
worst, they are permanent wards of the state with no rights.
But in so far as they put away persons stressed out from dire
poverty, they can be seen as cleaning up the mess left behind
by unfettered capitalism, or at least removing them so that the
errors of our (society's) ways can't be seen.
12. Isn't it more politically correct to refer to patients as
There are varying opinions. In my opinion, "client" sounds a
"Patient" is a much more accurate and descriptive term for how
the doctors regard the patient, both in theory and in
practice. This hasn't changed. Calling them "clients" obscures
this relationship, making it unclear that psychiatrists will
still use the medical model, treat the mind as passive, and
refer to the patient's problems as "illnesses" worthy of
"treatment", in keeping with medical ideology.
The recent trend to call patients "clients" or "mental
health consumers" is merely window-dressing P-R which does
nothing whatsoever to change the role of either the outpatient
or inpatient in relation to the doctor. The only thing these
politically-correct terms do is give a false sense of dignity
to the patient. Recall that in the Old South, during the days
of the slave trade, slaves were also given similar lip service
to enhance their dignity. But they were still slaves. Women
are often called "the fair sex", and have a "special status"
in many cultures. Yet they continue to be widely debased and
discriminated against, and exploited by those same cultures.
The referral to patients as "clients" arises from the same
mentality, and should only be used when buying a car or taking
out a loan. As for "mental health consumers": well, ... aren't
A lot more can be said about this. Consider the following
contributed by Paul Southworth <mailto://email@example.com>:
The term "client" implies two falsehoods. First, it implies
voluntarism on the part of the recipient. Second, it implies
that the recipient of the psychiatric treatment is in some way
"helped", or at least that the psychiatric care is carried out
with the intent to "help" the recipient.
I am aware of no other profession where the "client" cannot
voluntarily elect to initiate or terminate the relationship.
A legal client, for example, seeks a relationship with a lawyer
that can in some way benefit them. Conversely, one would not
refer to a prison inmate as a "client" -- they are clearly not
voluntarily receiving the "therapy" nor is the treatment designed
to "help" them in any way. Calling psychiatric patients "clients"
is only useful as a means for obscuring both the nature
of the relationship and its effects. Calling them "psychiatric
inmates" is certainly more accurate for describing the
Specifically with regard to the term "intent" as used above,
one could fairly argue that many psychiatrists intend to help
their patients. As in many other harmful and misguided
professions, the individuals directly perpetrating the harmful
activity often have only the best intentions. That does not
change the fact that psychiatry as a practice is designed to
"help" society, not to "help" its victims. To the extent that
the society that the psychiatric victim is expected to "adjust"
to is an unjust society, the psychiatrist isn't doing them
any favors. The intent of the individuals involved is irrelevant.
In reality, it only contributes to the false representation of
psychiatric care as beneficial.
13. What is "the medical model" as it applies to the mind?
Let's look at an obvious "medical problem" - a broken bone. If
a patient presents with a broken bone, there is obviously
something wrong. There is a lot of bleeding, bruising, and
pain; and if the bone is on an arm or leg, then the patient
can no longer use that limb until the break is healed.
In comes medical intervention. Painkillers, antibiotics and a
splint all help the body in mending the broken bone. The
administration of these drugs and splints are referred to
collectively as "treatment". The bone, in the scientific
sense, is a treatable substance like wood or leather. It is
passive, and thus "something must be done to it" to make it
function better, assuming that chances are pretty slim that
the bone would have set properly without such intervention.
This assumption is largely correct, and the theoretical basis
underlying the healing of broken bones is pretty sound.
So, the assumption underlying psychiatry is that the mind
(which has no agreed definition, remember) is passive in
exactly the same sense as a bone. It begs the question: what
does that make the mind of the psychiatrist, since his mind
must be passive as well. Of course, I'm not supposed to ask
that. But since I did, I'll answer: If the test for
"passivity" is a broken bone, then we observe that the person
doing the treating, the doctor, is not passive.
So, even though all human minds must be passive to fulfill the
medical model, the doctor's mind must not be considered
passive in order to fulfill the same medical model.
No wonder psychiatric patients go crazy. But it goes without
saying that the very medical model that psychiarty rests on is
also invalid, making any rational discussion about the
validity or invalidity of psychiatry as being a complete waste
Says one medical student:
'I am greatly frustrated by the lack of consensus among the
"psychiatric community." No other branch of medicine allows its
practioners such freedom to subscribe to contradictory schools of
theory and practice. Also, as I understand it the psychiatric
residency involves a large component of indoctrination with
unverifiable dogmas, some already outmoded but still "required
14. Well, we know how the media tends to promote psychiatry. How do
their own medical colleagues view psychiatrists? (anonymous
Psychiatry is the lowest-paying specialty on average, having
recently been bypassed by family practice.
Also, many doctors have no respect for psychiatrists at all
and will be vocal in telling you so. Even psychiatrists will be
vocal in their admission that, of the medical students selecting
psychiatry as a career, many if not most are mentally troubled or
even mentally ill by the profession's standards. I find this
15. Are there alternatives to psychiatric incarceration?
while community-based residential clinics cost about 25% of
the cost inpatient hospitalization, AND that patients seem
to do BETTER in such clinics because of the more normal social
environment they are exposed to; still, the federal and state
monies are available for psychiatric inpatient hospitalization,
and not for such community based clinics. Psych inpatients cost
about $450 per day.
16. Hey ... Isn't this more an afp manifesto or polemic than a
"Psychiatric Inmates of the world unite ... ?" Hmmm.
Well, I personally disagree that it is either one, although it
could be taken that way by someone who has never needed to
question the conventional thought surrounding psychiatrists. I
think the FAQ fulfills a need for the "un-initiated" to get
oriented to the way of thinking of this group. One can say that
the FAQ for sci.bio.food-science is a food scintist's
interpretation of the world. But it would hardly qualify as
being a manifesto or a "substitute ideology" for something.
The main thrust of this FAQ is to take a philosophical look at
the whole science of psychiatry. This must begin by asking
ourselves "what is a science?" Can we ask "what is personality"
in the same sense that we can ask "why is the sky blue?" Or are
psychiatrists simply asking the wrong questions? OR, as we
suspect in this FAQ, are they only asking questions (wittingly
or unwittingly) that serve an ideological purpose? In other words,
we can observe that asking "what is personality" is a great way
to include certain people and exclude other people who do not meet
the criteria for the definition by simply distinguishing between
"healthy" and "unhealthy" personality types. This is very
convenient if our goal is to create a community of outcasts.
The same goes for afp. The hope is: 1. afp subscribers will find
it as a voice, and 2. non-subscribers or newbies will get a sense
of orientation to the group. Only time will tell if these objectives
have been satisfied. Contributions from other subscribers will help.
17. Well, it just sounds as though what you are saying is well,
... crazy, because it sounds so different from what you hear from
other sources, like TV and newspapers.
Indeeed, these views are at great variance with most of what
society thinks of psychiatrists. We live in a psychiatric age
where we are encouraged to revere our therapists as Gods. Afp's
views are so much at variance with psychiatric propaganda, that
they appear, more like a crackpot polemic or a manifesto, rather
than an attempt at reasoned, level-headed, and enlightened
discourse on important matters of human rights.
With the possible exception of the "janitors of capitalism"
analogy, which some doctors may have trouble with, there is nothing
in the afp FAQ that is even *mildly* controversial, even in
psychiatric circles. The points brought up are the standard fare in
philosophy, medicine, you name it. If you ask a doctor or a social
worker if applying the medical model to the mind is problematic, he
will say "yes", and he will give you pretty much the same reasons I
gave. The same goes for the notions of freedom. There are all kinds
of books written on this subject, even by the doctors themselves.
Thomas Szasz has written several books on this topic. Szasz was the
President of the American Psychoanalytic Association when he wrote
"Ideology and Insanity: Essays on the Psychiatric Dehumanization of
Man" in 1970. So when I use the term "ideology" in the FAQ, or say
that "psychiatry has an ideological basis", that isn't even original.
Psychiatrists are aware of these issues, and of the precariousness of
their status as a science. If you want documentation to back up
anything I said in the FAQ, you never need to go far to look.
The only *real* problem it may cause is that reading it will
probably make you a poor candidate to succeed in your
psychiatric visits. (or a better one, depending on your
18. Is there any recommended reading? (Please send in any further
suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org) These are in no particular order
as of this draft. I am including a key passage from each.
Szasz, Thomas, 1970. "Ideology and Insanity: Essays on the
Psychiatric Dehumanization of Man". Doubleday Anchor. ISBN
0-385-02033-3. Quote from page 121: "In short, I hold--and I
submit that the historical evidence bears me out--that people
are committed to mental hospitals neither because they are
'dangerous,' nor because they are 'mentally ill,' but because
they are society's scapegoats, whose persecution is justified
by psychiatric propaganda and rhetoric."
Lasch, Christopher, 1976. "The Culture of Narcissism:
American Life in an age of diminishing expectations." Warner
Books. ISBN 0-446-32104-4. Quote from Page 359, in critiquing
Gail Sheehy's book "Passages": "Measuring experience against a
normative model set up by doctors, people will find themselves
as troubled by departures from the norm as they are troubled
by the 'predictable crises of adult life' themselves, against
which medical norms are intended to provide reassurance. ...
It rests on definitions of reality that remain highly suspect,
not least because they make it so difficult to get through
life without the constant attention of doctors, psychiatrists,
and faith healers."
Marx, Karl and Fredrick Engels, 1848 (this one published in
English, 1983). The Communist Manifesto. International
Publishers Co., Inc. ISBN 0-7178-0241-8. Quote from page 44:
"Workers of the world, Unite!"
Rius, 1976. "Marx For Beginners." Pantheon Books, New York.
ISBN 0-394-73716-4. Gives a compelling history of all the
other ways we have been oppressed throughout history, as well
as clearly explaining the developments that led to the concept
of "dialectical materialism," and of course Communism itself.
Bentall, Richard P, 1992. "A Proposal to Classify Happiness as
a Psychiatric Disorder", from "Journal of Medical Ethics",
1992, n18, pp94-98. The Abstract: "It is proposed that
happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be
included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals
under the new name: 'Major Affective Disorder, Pleasant Type.'
In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that
happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete
cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive
abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning
of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this
proposal remains -- that happiness is not negatively valued.
However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically
Harris, John, JLT Birley, and KWM Fulford, 1993. "A Proposal
to Classify Happiness as a Psychiatric Disorder", from
"British Journal of Psychiatry." Harris, Page 540: "Whenever I
tease psychiatrists about their lack of a theory for mental
illness or their inability to answer charges that mental
illness is a myth, they always answer by showing me really
distressed, unhappy people who need help which no other branch
of medicine is offering. If this is a convincing answer, it is
not so on the level of theory, and it is doubtful whether
answering scepticism about the scientific validity of
psychiatry by showing rooms full of happy, contented people
will ever have quite the same force."
Birley, Page 540, commenting on Bentall: "[Bentall's]
serious ethical purpose is not stated, but I take it to be a
concern with the dangers of 'over-classification' and
'over-medicalisation' of human behaviour, particularly by
Fulford, Page 542: "[Bentall's paper] shows that the concept
of disease itself is far more subtle than is generally
recognised. There is some evidence that this is important
practically. If it is, then Bentall may inadvertently achieved
more for psychiatry in a few thousand words than other authors
have achieved in a whole series of scholoarly tomes."
Skinner, Bhurris Frederick, 1976. "Walden Two." Macmillan, New
York. ISBN ?. This is the argument from the "other side". It
tells a story about a utopian society based on the principles
of behaviour modification and behaviour engineering.
Meanwhile, the book is a rejection of philosophy - symbolised
by a character named Castle, who ends up sputtering incoherent
junk by the end of the book. A real-life philosopher can
debunk the book in five minutes. Like the medical model,
b.mod. assumes that the human mind is passive, and the
therapist's mind is not passive. Does that make the therapist
19. Are there any web pages on the Internet for flaming psychiatry?
See below... If you find other web pages, please forward them to
Paul King (email@example.com) for inclusion in a future update
of this FAQ.
See our afp FAQ on HTML - all links and email addresses
mentioned in this FAQ are *LIVE* on this web page
Anti-psychiatry & Schizoprenia
Crazy And Proud BBS
"Madness" Home Page
Psychiatric Survivors Advocacy/Liberation Movement
Rob's Pseudoscience, Psychobabble, and Psychology Page
Support Coalition & Dendron News Home Page
OTHER HOMEPAGES. Some of these have useful info on mental
illness, mainly from the point of view of medicine. Most of
these web pages have not been checked for content, so your input
Disability Rights Activist
Internet Mental Health - a Canadian Web Site offering a list of
definitions and possible treatments for nearly all categories of
The National Empowerment Center Gopher site in Lawrence, MA, USA
The US National Mental Health Consumers Self-Help Clearinghouse
The Consumer/Survivor Information Resource Centre of Toronto,
help! (a Consumer's Guide to Mental Health Resources)
The Pendulum Pages
Justice-For-All Gopher Server
Homeless Missings Persons Project
Emotional Support on the Internet
The Disability Rights Activist
Ivan Goldberg's Home Page
Information on Dissociation
The PIE Web Server
Mental Health Info Database
20. All that being said, what is left for this newsgroup to post?
Flames! Righteous flames!
It's a damn sight better than therapy! Hell, it IS therapy!
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Email your comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Paul King
Copyright ((C)) 1996 by Paul King. If this is to be re-posted to a
newsgroup other than afp, or stored at an FTP site, you can do
that so long as you 1) post the entire FAQ with this copyright
notice, and 2) have the courtesy to inform me of your intentions.
This FAQ is intended as educational, and can be used free for
private or non-profit purposes. Other uses of this FAQ require my
permission. Email email@example.com
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E N D O F F A Q
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The founder of afp Jensbender@delphi.com has authored the
following as the first posting to afp, and has been reproduced here.
It is well worth reading. It is completely unedited. Unfortunately,
Jensblender could not be reached by email to obtain his permission to
post these here. I felt it was too good to leave out, and one ought
to keep in mind that this is being posted on a non-profit basis to
the Internet community, so though I am going out on a limb, I am
hoping Jensblender doesn't mind. (I could not find his real name
either, as you can tell) :-). If Jensblender wants me to remove the
text below, I will.
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Hello. A few days ago I sent out the newgroup message that created this
group. I'm going to post some introductory stuff I wrote to get the ball
Introduction, for survivors of psychiatric incarceration.
If you've been through this experience, you know what I'm
talking about. You were vulnerable. Maybe you were in some trouble,
maybe not. Maybe insane, maybe not. But they didn't care about that.
They saw your vulnerability and locked you up, probably for two
How did I know that figure? That's how long insurance will pay
for it, and it is the exact length of most private psychiatric
imprisonments, almost to the day.
Or maybe you were even more unlucky and got committed to a state
asylum. I am fortunate to not have endured that particular ordeal and
I feel sorry for anyone who has.
The first thing they did was to try to trick you into signing a
"voluntary" admission. If you didn't want to, they threatened to have
you committed. How do I know that? It's standard operating procedure
in psych-jails. About 3/4 of patients who signed "voluntaries" say it
was voluntary in name only.
The next thing they did was prescribe drugs for you. They didn't
discuss it with you or really examine you. They just told you what
drugs they were "giving" you, and gave you no choice but to take
them. Again, standard operating procedure. If you were unlucky, they
forced Haloperidol (Haldol) on you, and failed to mention the
long-term brain damage caused by the drug.
When you arrived at what they called a "hospital", you probably
thought they knew what they were doing. If you believed you were
insane, you thought that they would cure you. If you knew you were
sane, you thought they'd realize their mistake in a timely manner.
You believed the drugs they "put you on" (the phrase they use) would
at least cause no long-term damage.
It quickly became clear that your trust was misplaced. The
people running the asylum immediately began to treat you in a
dehumanizing manner. They always proceeded from the assumption that
your mind was malfunctioning. Any interaction with you, however rude
and frustrating it was for you, was deemed "therapeutic". You
couldn't tell them anything they didn't want to hear. They would ask
you over and over again if you "heard voices". If you answered "no",
the answer was not recorded and the next person would ask you the
same. On the other hand, "incriminating evidence" was recorded and
brought up again and again, even if it was based on a
misunderstanding. If you explained the misunderstanding to one staff
member, you'd have to start all over again with the next. Whatever
seemed "insane", they wrote down and shared among themselves.
Whatever seemed "sane", they ignored and forgot.
While you were there, you saw patients either restrained or put
in solitary confinement. Survivors of psychiatry will recognize one
or the other. If you haven't seen restraints, they are heavy leather
bands that go arund a victim's wrists and ankles to keep the victim
motionless, spread-eagled on a bed. Usually 4-point restraints are
used. Sometimes they use 5- or 6-point restraints, which also
immobilize the victim's head and abdomen.
In some institutions, you may have seen victims of a barbaric
procedure called ECT (electro-convulsive therapy). They wandered
around mindlessly, their brains barely functional after the heavy
jolts of electricity administered by their so-called "caretakers". At
least be glad you don't see icepick lobotomy victims anymore!
But perhaps the most surprising thing was your fellow patients.
When you got there, you didn't know what to expect... gibbering
lunatics that insisted on being addressed as "His Excellency,
Napoleon", perhaps. And some of the patients did have crazy delusions
or emotions wildly out of control. Some had even tried to kill
themselves. But a lot of them were just normal people, just troubled.
If you had met them outside, you'd have never thought they were
After a few days or weeks, you realized you could not
effectively protest or resist, and you decided just to endure it as
best you could and not let them get to you. And you decided to
pretend to go along. Or maybe you escaped.
After you got out, you thought about what had been done to you.
Maybe not right away. Maybe you were too brainwashed and too messed
up by what the psych-jail did to you.
But eventually you thought about what it meant. You hadn't
committed any crime, there was no sentencing, and yet you were
treated as badly as any criminal. You had never realized that you
were living in a police state before, but the conclusion was
inescapable: some people -- including you -- can be locked up on the
whim of other people, and the state won't do anything to help you. In
fact, the state helps them do it to you.
You felt angry and violated, but there was really nothing you
could do. You couldn't very well talk to anyone -- they would think
you were nuts. You certainly would never talk to a shrink, or ever
trust one again. You couldn't sue -- you could try but since
everything that goes on in psych-jail is confidential, you had no way
to gather evidence. And even if you got to the stage of subpoenaing
witnesses, there were only two types of witnesses: Staff members with
a vested interest in protecting the scam, and psychiatric patients.
And the knowledge that you couldn't fight back made you feel even
more powerless and wronged.
So you went on with your life. You stayed as far away from
shrinks and psych-jails as you possibly could. You put the crime
committed against you out of your mind most of the time.
From time to time something would remind you of the crime and
your fury would rise. You probably fantasized about hurting or
killing your former jailers, who had gotten away with it all, but you
never did anything overt.
Now, somehow you discovered the newsgroup alt.flame.psychiatry
and you decided to have a look. And after all this time, here's a
place that's on your side. It's just a dinky little alt group in
cyberspace, but it's for real. Now what do you do? Right now,
politically, we're just at the stage of articulating our greivances
and our viewpoint. Here's what you can do:
* Sound off about what happened to you. Use an anonymous address
if you want to. Don't be shy. The parts of your experience that make
you feel most dehumanized are the parts that most need to be told.
* Don't let yourself or others be silenced.
* Point out where other posters are still using the psych
establishment's viewpoint and assumptions. If you suspect they are a
"ringer", which means someone who says they endured a psych-jailing
but doesn't sound like they really did, say so.
This is the place. Nobody can lock you up for posting here. If
you use anonymity, they can't even tell it's you. Now is the time and
place for the truth.
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