For most of us—excepting possibly Mussolini, Trump, and other bully boasters—the word authoritarian is a pejorative. In contrast, many of us want to define ourselves and our heroes as anti-authoritarians, and this has resulted in some curious definitions of that term. The American Heritage Dictionary defines authoritarianism as “characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to […]
INTERVIEW WITH JOURNALIST ROBERT WHITAKER. In April, journalist Robert Whitaker wrote an article titled, “The New YorkerPeers into the Psychiatric Abyss… And Loses Its Nerve.” I was curious to hear Whitaker’s thoughts on the general state of mainstream media’s coverage of psychiatry.
What variable is associated with a 12 times greater likelihood of a suicide attempt—and also doubles the likelihood of cancer, heart disease, or stroke? In the late 1990s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study revealed a stunningly powerful relationship between childhood trauma and later adult emotional difficulties and physical health problems. Two decades after the […]
Beyond Common Sense, most Americans know little about Thomas Paine (1737-1809). Few know that at the end of Paine’s life, he had become a pariah in U.S. society, and for many years after his death, he was either ignored or excoriated—the price he paid for The Age of Reason and its disparagement of religious institutions, […]
While not as well-known as “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perfect Day,” and not one of the classics he wrote for the Velvet Underground (such as “Heroin” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror”), Lou Reed’s “Kill Your Sons,” about his electroconvulsive “therapy” (ECT) as a 17-year-old, gives voice to an event that majorly radicalized him […]
I just can’t take seriously anyone who presumes that the middle ground is always the voice of reason and the path to truth and justice. Thus, for quite some time, I’ve thought that it not worth my time to react to psychotherapist Gary Greenberg, psychiatrist Allen Frances, and others who try to convince me of […]
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 […]