Welcome to a Cool Subculture of Anti-Authoritarians
by Bruce Levine
While many Americans are troubled by psychiatry’s over medicating of children, and they doubt the legitimacy of some psychiatric illnesses such as “oppositional defiant disorder,” few question psychiatry with respect to schizophrenia, an often frightening phenomenon characterized by hallucinations, delusions, incoherent speech, and bizarre behaviors. But a major long-term study on schizophrenia challenges psychiatry’s authority here as well, and it just may get Americans to pay attention to a group of anti-authoritarians diagnosed with schizophrenia who have recovered without medication or doctors—and have become activists.
If my sole experience of people who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia was purely a clinical one, I too would be wary of them going off their medication, and I too would have a far less hopeful view of the possibility of recovery. One of my earliest professional positions was as a psychiatric emergency room therapist where I saw many patients who were agitated and acting bizarrely and who were dragged into the hospital by police and family. These patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoffective disorder, or some other psychotic disorder. Most of them would in fact calm down after being given medication, and so it is common for police, family, and mental health professionals to view being “off one’s meds” as problematic.
Many mental health professionals, myself included, have seen psychotic relapse among diagnosed schizophrenics who have been “medication noncompliant.” But professionals ordinarily don’t compare this group to those “medication compliant” patients who also relapse or remain chronically psychotic. And most importantly, in their clinical practice, mental health professionals do not routinely see diagnosed schizophrenics who have recovered without medication and without doctors.
Outside of my practice, I have come to know this group of diagnosed schizophrenics who have long-term recovery without medication. In his research, Harrow discovered them as well and states, “For most SZ [schizophrenia patients] not on medications or not in treatment this was their choice, at times against professional advice.” It is my experience that those who have rejected medication and recovered are virtually all anti-authoritarians who question the legitimacy of authorities and resist those authorities they assess to be illegitimate ones.
I had not heard about psychiatric survivors until 1994, when I was contacted by David Oaks, director of MindFreedom, a coalition of psychiatric survivor organizations from around the world. David, now a good friend, comes from a working class family in the South Side of Chicago and won scholarships to attend Harvard in the early 1970s, but he says, “I didn’t fit in at Harvard, and I was under a lot of stress. Now and again I ingested too much cannabis, to which I’m highly sensitive. I stopped sleeping.” His behavior became erratic with psychotic symptoms (e.g., “thought the CIA was making my teeth grow” and that “a UFO was appearing in my living room”). He was checked into various psychiatric facilities five different times. David recalls, “A dozen psychiatrists diagnosed me as a psychotic. I was told I would have to stay on psychiatric drugs the rest of my life, like a diabetic on insulin. I was told that I was genetically flawed and had a permanently broken brain.”
David ultimately joined the then existing Mental Patients Liberation Front where fellow psychiatric survivors shared stories, went on camping trips, and supported and encouraged each other to exercise and eat better. David graduated with honors from Harvard, and he has been free of psychiatric medication since 1977. Today, he is living in Eugene, Oregon, married, directs MindFreedom, and maintains a busy schedule of organizing and speaking around the world.
Read the whole article here : Anti-Authoritarians and Schizophrenia: Do Rebels Who Defy Treatment Do Better?
In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by (1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians, and (2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.
Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
Read the whole article here : Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill
Been awhile since I have written, things are not going to good at the moment, I am feeling very isolated again and I conceive that someone in Skien is again at work spreading slander and shit, it might be that in the last half year or so I thought I was starting make some acquaintances around the neighborhood, people I met at the local Pubs and at the Hospital, however it is becoming clear that they might not have been friendly at all.. There is not much i can do about it, except try to be prepared
This summer I got to know my neighbor Remy, it did not go very well, he is far far to the right, used my internet without paying up anything at all and turned out to be shady as well, then I became friend with a acquaintance of him, Mario, that lived at my place through the summer.. as he left for England I just continued drinking and going to Pubs burning my savings, in the end I had decided to voluntarily stay at the open clinic at Telemark Psychiatric Hospital for a week in order to try to get off the binge drinking, it did not work very well as I also befriended some dude living nearby, Espen, who drank often, one thing leading to another. Anyhow he did not grasp my jokes and became quite hostile, so now I am back to solitude. Then there was this lady I met at the Porsgrunn Dps back in 2015, Ingrid, she turned out to be quite shady and stole my sleeping medications and may have tried to get me in trouble, kicked her out twice, and last time was the final.
To top it all off, I got assaulted by what must have been fascists at a local Pub ( Gimle), neither the staff nor the guests there did anything or assist me, not even calling police nor ambulance.
I also lost my phone there when it happened. Later I had to get myself to the hospital to have a look at chapped lips and I found out that the pub had a video recording of it all, so I went to the fucking police to get them to get the video and disclose the identities of these fascists so I could either retrieve my phone and/or get compensation and their identities… I should have known better than to appeal to the fucking police, because the police just did not give a fuck and did nothing, effectively protecting and sanctioning it
I am so fed up with Norway at the moment and all the bloody fascists that hide around in the closets and basements, so I may have to either move back to the capitol, even as expensive as that may be or.. leave the country and move abroad, i am going to discuss this with the social services. What I would really like doing this year is locating a part time job once again, but if that is not possible I can just as well retire abroad, in a milder climate and maybe get more involved in activism, and maybe end this hostile isolation
I have been preparing somewhat, getting travel gear, clothes and survival equipment and such in order, however the thought of going back to homelessness is not so welcome as its January.
As for the Psychiatry, yes they come by regularly and check up on me still, however there is not much to they can or are willing to do about my situation, the nurse suggested me to attend group meetings at the red cross to socialize, I just do not see how that will resolve my situation at all…
Anyhow 2017 does not seem very promising, but then again 2016 has not been the best year either.
The handwritten protocols documenting that a hundred or so patients last year were placed illegally in forced belts. Since April, a number of the country’s hospitals fought to keep the disputed logs secret, s the National Newspaper VG asked to gain insight into these logs.
Sunday night could VG reveal 640 examples of use of belts that the country’s leading lawyers and researchers in the field believe is illegal or highly problematic.
They react among other thing on that mentally ill patients are kept tied down despite that they described as quiet and cooperative, while they sleep – and more patients have been placed in belts because they wanted it.
Meanwhile, they believe that hospitals broke the law when they least 220 times failed to write how long or why the patient was tied down.
“When evening comes, and I go to bed. I am laid in belts and when I wake up and want to turn over, I must be unlocked”
Every day for two years a woman who is in her 30s have been chained to belts at Gaustad Hospital. Her only wish is to die.
SHE WRITING FROM THE INSIDE of Gaustad Hospital. The small room has gray-white walls. On the table in front of her is a few papers and an empty bottle of Pepsi Max. The only sound is the roar of an air conditioning system.
For three months, through over 250 emails to VG, she has portrayed her life on lockdown unit.
There is no other patient in Norway which is treated in a similar manner:
For nearly two years, the woman, who is in early 30s, have been restrained in belts all or part of a day. When she writes, the arms strapped into belts bolted to the desk.
Day and night she watched by nurses.
She can not take a shower or go to the bathroom alone. When the family visits her, they are always supervised. She weighs 40 kilograms and is chronically self-harmer.
TRONDHEIM / OSLO (VG) Every day, dozens of patients are tied down against their will by Norwegian hospitals. Every four cases are never reported to health authorities.
It happens every day in Norwegian hospitals: Psychiatric patients acting out in a way that enables healthcare professionals decide to use one of the most intrusive forced methods at their disposal – to tie the patient downby force.
VG can today reveal how Norwegian hospitals under report serious coercion. Hospitals tells of chaos and, information that disappears on the road to national health authorities – and patient information recorded with pen and paper.
Lacked nine out of ten decisions
Worst in the class is St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim. Where nine out of ten belt orders were never reported to health authorities.
VG has mapped all decisions on using “mechanical restraints” like belt restraints and straitjackets by the 115 institutions in Norway that are approved for treatment of psychiatric patients.
This type of coercion is regarded as one of the strongest types of coercion that the authorities can do to an individual and is therefore subject to a special control regime.
The institutions are required to report all use of coercion to the central health authorities, but every fourth belt laying does not exist in the official figures from the Directorate of Health :
– While Norwegian hospitals in 2014 reported in 2802 cases of this type of coercion, said they now that figure is 3768 – that is almost a thousand more.
– Directorate of Health believes that the use of mechanical coercion go down in Norway,but VG survey shows the opposite – the numbers are on the rise.
– Health Authorities are reporting lower figures than is real. Only one hospital managed to submit the correct number – Vestre Viken in Buskerud.
– St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim reported in 30 belt laying ( coercion ) to Norwegian Patient Register in 2014, but says now that the real number was almost nine times higher – 251.
Behold the eerie work of Brazilian street artist Herbert Baglione. These ghostly shadows painted in an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Parma, Italy are a part of an ongoing project titled “1000 Shadows.”
Baglione’s work isn’t just limited to abandoned psychiatric hospitals (although I truly dig this idea), his painted silhouettes have shown up all over the world in deserted buildings, foreclosed homes and empty offices. His ghostly shadows tell the stories of the souls who once inhabited the now abandoned spaces. Locations that once had life.
You can follow Baglione’s “1000 Shadows” project on his Facebook page.