Many self-identified liberals are far more than “ten degrees to the right of center” with regard to psychiatry. With the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, and then even more so following 9/11 in 2001, the United States has swung so far to the right that many self-identified liberals embrace, often unwittingly, a right-wing view in many aspects of society, including psychiatry.
Lyndon Johnson famously proclaimed his requirements for an appointee: “I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses.” Johnson and his ass-kissers were authoritarians. Authoritarian is routinely defined as “favoring blind submission to authority.” Authoritarians with power demand unquestioning obedience from those with lower […]
For several years, I have thought it important to illuminate the authoritarian nature of mental health professionals—especially those who have not rebelled in any way against their professional socialization. In this article, I will summarize a compelling analysis from the Journal of Medical Ethics on the variables in “contemporary medical culture” that produce doctors who […]
Toward the end of 2018, the New York Times published a lengthy obituary with the headline: “Herbert Fingarette, Contrarian Philosopher on Alcoholism, Dies at 97.” By labeling Fingarette as a mere contrarian philosopher and by otherwise subtly demeaning him, the NYT cozied up to the $35 billion per year addiction-treatment industry. The reality is that […]
At the time, toward the end of 2018, it didn’t seem completely irrational to submit an op-ed to the New York Times. I had felt compelled to respond to a lengthy NYT op-ed “Can We Stop Suicides?” authored by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, who had offered what I considered to be a fairly insane solution: “an old […]
The 1919 misfortune of Woodrow Wilson and good fortune of Scott Nearing are nowhere near enough evidence for the existence of God or for even karma, but these 1919 events do provide some therapy for me—a reminder that life, occasionally, is not completely unjust. In 1919, Wilson—who earlier in his administration had racially resegregated several […]
The drumbeat for ketamine as a way to halt the rising suicide rate is upon us, as the New York Times has now joined the chorus. This is encouraging news unless of course you recall a couple of things: how recent enthusiasm from the medical-industrial complex for increased opioid use for pain resulted in the […]
In this excerpt from Resisting Illegitimate Authority, Bruce E. Levine surveys the means by which conventional schooling punishes anti-authoritarian impulses and primes children for conformity.
“The person who claims the legitimacy of the authority always bears the burden of justifying it. And if they can’t justify it, it’s illegitimate and should be dismantled. To tell you the truth, I don’t really understand anarchism as being much more than that.”—Noam Chomsky. On December 7, 2018, Noam Chomsky turns 90 years old. […]
For several years, I’ve been thinking about writing Resisting Illegitimate Authority: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian―Strategies, Tools, and Models, a book about anti-authoritarians and for them. Authoritarian is routinely defined as “favoring blind submission to authority.” In contrast, anti-authoritarians reject—for themselves and for others—an unquestioning obedience to authority, and they believe in challenging and resisting illegitimate authority. […]