freakoutcrazy

Blog des AK Psychiatriekritik der NFJ Berlin

Kategorie: Bonnie Burstow

Yes, the Tide is Turning Against Psychiatry

The suggestion embedded in this article’s title seems counter-intuitive. How could the tide be turning on psychiatry when the institution has never been so strong? And indeed indicators of its growing strength and tenacity are all around us. The exporting of its model to the global south via the World Bank, the emergence of outpatient committal, the explosion of funding for psychiatric research (see Burstow, 2015). Correspondingly, daily are there calls for most aggressive “detection” and “treatment”  (e.g., Jeffrey Lieberman, 2015). And the mainstream press has never been more closed to truly foundational critiques. That acknowledged, let me suggest that such intensification is common when an old system is in the early days of crumbling.

Of course, intensification itself is hardly an indicator that a reversal is at hand. So how would we know? Examples of possible indicators are: Ever growing critiques from inside and outside the profession, growing discomfort with “anomalies” (in essence, the indicators of a paradigm shift spelt out by Kuhn, 1962). Established moral authorities making unprecedented negative pronouncements about the current state of affairs. The surfacing of more and more tales of corruption and fraud. The rising up of those subjected to it. Each of these signs and more we are experiencing now with psychiatry — hardly conclusive individually, but taken together, convincing portents of a societal shift.

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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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Psychiatry’s Poor Image: Reflecting on Psychiatrists’ “Apologias”

Those of us who critique psychiatry were recently treated to an interesting phenomenon—the publicly available part of the January 2015 issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, which contains multiple articles devoted to the question of psychiatry’s “poor image” — how to understand it, how to assess it, what to do about it. The release of this issue is hardly the first occasion where articles have appeared in which psychiatrists have speculated on outsiders’ negative image of the profession. Indeed, more and more, we are seeing such articles together with other evidence that the professionals are concerned (e.g., Bhugra and Moran, 2014; and Oxtoby, 2008). What makes this issue special is that there is a sizable number of commentators; moreover, they include such leading figures as Gaebel, current President of the European Psychiatric Association, Wasserman, former President of the European Psychiatric Association, and Bhugra, President of the World Psychiatric Association. Could it be that the upper echelons of psychiatry, whether they admit or not, are becoming alarmed? Regardless, these psychiatric reflections are themselves a source of data—hence this article.

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Grounded „Eutopianism“ Piecing/Peace-ing our Way Together: Toward a World with Commons and without Psychiatry

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