Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

[alt.flame.psychiatry] FAQ: Welcome! Read this First!

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Neighborhoods ]
Archive-Name: psychiatry/alt-flame/faq
Posting-Frequency: biweekly
Last-modified: 1997/01/31

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
           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,  
     essentially, abnormal. 
                -- 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
     "<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. 
        alt.answers (occasionally)
     Your ISP will carry the last three newsgroups.

     Other Changes:
       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 Canada:
     From Germany:   (There are actually several other places in Europe)
       via FSP from:, 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:, port 21
     From the United States:
  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, 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:
          This is the "plain text" version of the FAQ. Unlike the next
          address, you can't use it to surf the Web without the
          ol'-fashioned cut-and-paste.
          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:



    Charter authored by:
    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

    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 
    newsgroup discussions?

        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 (  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?

        It means:
            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
    anything, right?

        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
        tad Orwellian. 

        "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
        we all?

        A lot more can be said about this. Consider the following
        contributed by Paul Southworth <mailto://>:

        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
        of time.

        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 
        learning." '

    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 
        statistic frightening.

    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 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
        viewpoint) :-)

    18. Is there any recommended reading? (Please send in any further
    suggestions to 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
        a Martian? 

    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 ( 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
        is important:

        Disability Rights Activist
        Internet Mental Health - a Canadian Web Site offering a list of
        definitions and possible treatments for nearly all categories of
        mental illnesses.
        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, 
                   Ontario, Canada
        help! (a Consumer's Guide to Mental Health Resources)
        Community Access
        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!

                            ------ o ------

Email your comments and suggestions to

 -- 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 

                            ------ o ------
                          E N D   O F   F A Q
                            ------ o ------

         The founder of afp 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. 
                            ------ o ------

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.

    ==== END OF FILE 

 : Internet Direct.                    Realms of Despair!            :
 : (416)233-2999, 1000 lines           telnet 4000   :
 : T3 bandwidth, 9600-33,600bps+ISDN   Endless medieval enjoyment!   :
 :                                                                   :
 : Stop by for a drink at the Internet TeleCafe -- 9000 :

User Contributions:

Jan 4, 2023 @ 12:12 pm
From the Web:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: (Paul E. J. King)

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM