Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt against the Mental Health System

Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt against the Mental Health System

Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt against the Mental Health System

Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt against the Mental Health System

Synopsis

This is a collection of seven true stories of individuals insulted and injured by the mental health system, individuals who then fought back, broke free, and rebuilt their lives. Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels is a work in the tradition of Thomas Szasz, R. D. Laing, and Erving Goffman, a challenge to the delusional belief-system known as psychiatry, and a protest against its appalling crimes.

Excerpt

This book presents the tragic tale of seven persons who sought psychiatric help, and found psychiatric harm. Why did this happen? Whose fault was it? Seth Farber blames psychiatry. I agree. However, although I consider psychiatry’s guilt for misinforming people and mangling their lives self-evident, I also hold the victims partly responsible for their fate. Why? Because I believe it is every person’s responsibility to inform himself, to the best of his ability, about the world he lives in. “A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it,” warned James Madison, “is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Madison’s remarks about political self-government apply with even greater force to personal self-government, especially in a modern society in which the manipulation of information is of paramount importance. The less a person knows about the workings of the social institutions of his society, the more he must trust those who wield power in it; and the more he trusts those who wield such power, the more vulnerable he makes himself to becoming their victim. No one who has read or seen Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest —or similar stories about psychiatry, going back to Chekhov’s classic Ward No. 6 —can claim to be ignorant of the dangers mad-doctors pose to every man, woman, and child in America. How can this be? Psychiatrists are physicians, and physicians are supposed to help people. That is true. But it does not follow that the result is necessarily helpful for the so-called patient—as he, the patient, would define what constitutes help.

I began by making a doubly unfashionable assertion, which I would now like to amplify. I suggested that both the psychiatric victimizer and his victim must share the blame—though not necessarily in equal proportion—for the injury the former inevitably inflicts on the latter. However, the men and women whose story Farber tells—and a few others who, sadly, represent . . .

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