freakoutcrazy

Blog des AK Psychiatriekritik der NFJ Berlin

Monat: April, 2015

Antipsychiatry, (Ex)consumers, Peers, and ‘This Movement’: Assembling the Histories of Reform and Resistance, Part 1

Within the communities that surround Mad in America one is likely to hear reference to ‚the movement.‘ The basic meaning of this phrase seems clear enough. The movement broadly refers to the groups of people actively rethinking the mental health system, and the treatment of persons labeled as mentally ill, in the United States and abroad. Upon further inspection, however, we realize that there is no centralized ethos uniting these groups. There may be consensus that the current mental health models are troublesome, but within each subset of ‘the movement’ there are many different perspectives about such troubles‘ causes and solutions.

In recent years many articles and books have been published, and many conferences held, outlining various problems facing the mental health system in this country. Each person speaking out seems to have their own solution to these problems. There does not appear, however, to be any work that outlines, compares, and synthesizes the broad array of what we call ‘the movement,’ as a whole, with all its the varying proposed solutions, perspectives, and reform initiatives.

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Allen Frances and the Spurious Medicalization of Everyday Problems

On April 5, Allen Frances MD, published an article on the Huffington Post blog.  The title is Can We Replace Misleading Terms Like ‚Mental Illness,‘ ‚Patient,‘ and ‚Schizophrenia‘  It’s an interesting piece, and it raises some fundamental issues.

Here are some quotes from the article, interspersed with my comments.

„Those of us who worked on DSM IV learned first-hand and painfully the limitations of the written word and how it can be tortured and twisted in damaging daily usage, especially when there is a profit to be had.“

The fact that words can acquire multiple, and even contradictory, meanings is well known to most high school graduates.  People of all walks of life are generally sensitive to this reality, and take steps to clarify their meanings, especially with regards to words that are known to be ambiguous.

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Psychiatry and the Business of Madness: An Ethical and Epistemological Accounting

This latest book by Bonnie Burstow, PhD critiques psychiatry, and effectively annihilates any claims that the profession might have had legitimacy.

Bonnie gives us a scholarly, but very readable, account of:

  • the history of psychiatry, ancient and modern
  • the significance and shortcomings of the DSM
  • the legal, ethical, and personal ramifications of involuntary „treatment“
  • the training of psychiatrists and the dynamics underlying their uncritical acceptance of their profession’s spurious concepts and destructive treatments
  • the ways in which non-psychiatrist mental health workers are co-opted into the system, and become, often despite good intentions, supporters and active participants in the psychiatric travesty
  • the role and tactics of the psycho-pharma industry
  • the stark, destructive, degrading realities of electric shock „treatment.“

In the final chapter, Bonnie offers us a glimpse of what an alternative approach might look like.

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“Doing” Antipsychiatry on all Cylinders: Possibilities, Enigmas, Challenges

On several occasions I have written about the complexities of antipsychiatry politics, exploring more specifically, how to “do our politics” in a way that moves society squarely in the direction of the abolitionist goal (e.g., Burstow, 2014). In this article, I am once again theorizing the “how” of activism—for understanding this territory is critical to maximizing effectiveness. However, this time round, I am approaching it from an angle at once more general and more practical. That is, I am investigating the tools or approaches at our disposal as activists. What relates to this, I will be discussing the genus of politic—that is, the manner of politics being engaged.

Pivotal questions grappled with in this article include: What fundamental approaches might be taken to end/rein in psychiatry? What are the strengths and shortcomings of each? What dangers do they present? To what larger genus of politic do they belong?  How are we to understand these in themselves? In relation to psychiatry? What are some of the enigmas, or challenges facing us? And how might they be met?

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