This article is written with its practical use value in mind. It is about Psychiatry, and that means about psychiatric institutions and how people get there and are kept there, the ideology of ‘health’ and the class of its administrators, the doctors; it is also about economic interests: a repair institution for defective labour power, and the advantages of drug dependency for the pharmaceutical companies; but given the available space, it is not pretending to be comprehensive, its purpose is to give some (hopefully) valuable help in dealing practically with situations where a friend or comrade, or yourself are confronted with psychiatric treatment or confinement, it is attempting to give some background information about the system, and helping to break the silence about the topic, a silence that is astonishing given the fact that every year millions of people are exposed to breakdowns, diagnosis, medication and confinement… Added is a short list of links and bibliography for further reading and research, even though some of the books are unfortunately out of print, having been released at a time (from the mid 60’s to the late 70’s) when many facets of capitalist society and the mangement of power in it were under scrutiny, and the public eye was turned on psychiatry and exposed its often shocking face. Most people are under the assumption that in the wake of ‘Anti-Psychiatry’ the system has been reformed sufficiently to meet the needs of the ‘patient’. Sadly this is hardly the case, and the interest of the labour market and meeting the demands of ‘normality’ and ‘health’ is prioritised over the solutions of the patients problems. Illness is a result of the conflict of interest of the patient exactly with these concepts (health, normalcy), and in its present manifestations a product of Capitalism, but illness, and understanding it, can be used as a weapon, as the SPK put it. So this is not about denying madness or romanticising it – it’s about politicising it, i.e. making clear that it is a social and collective phenomenon, without robbing each patient of their individual dimension and dignity.
The text has initially grown out of a practical experience with the psychiatric system when a close friend was locked up after a ‘psychotic episode’, fortunately for a relatively short while, but long enough for me to see the inside of first a closed ward and then an open ward for a few weeks on a daily basis as a visitor. In this period I had many conversations with other patients, some of whom were stuck in the wards for prolonged periods and others who were there on their own ‘free will’. Needless to say I talked to doctors and nurses, but more insightful were indepth conversation with two former psychatric nurses, and a member of the SPK/PF(H) gave me a perspective on how to approach the situation with their advice.
Again: More than anything else this article is meant to be a weapon if you find yourself in conflict with the psychiatric system: Because a conflict it will be – it has to be…
A socalled psychosis can be triggered by many things, prolonged lack of sleep, stress, unresolved contradictions in your standing with society, or, as a short cut, by drugs like speed, acid or similar. Serotonins and dopamines firing uncontrollably in your brain, causing a suspension of critical thinking, connecting all outer signs to a conspiratorial web of cosmic proportions. A ‘psychosis’ is an extreme state of emergency. In many ways it could be described as very similar to an acid trip, but without drugs, and seemingly without end; as you are not on drugs you lack the knowledge that it’s “only a trip” and you’ll return sooner or later (this includes psychoses triggered by drugs), although some seem to experience them as acting or ‘possession’. There are a number of definitions that usually aren’t very satisfying; they range from interpreting it as a mere chemical imbalance or malfunctioning to experiencing it as ‘demonic attack’ or a religious experience. This variety hints at the fact that very little is known about the actual nature of a psychosis, and therefore everyone is bringing forth their own definitions; unfortunatly it is the opinion and ideology of the doctors that bear the most, and the interpretation of the patient of their own experience that bears the least weight in current society, to a degree where the patient is forced to adapt the opinion of the doctors in order not to be declared incurably mad. And this is where the real problems start.
Hospitalisation and Diagnosis:
If you draw the wrong kind of attention in public, or even just in your family, you may find yourself in a closed psychiatric ward, pumped full of drugs, likely to be Haldol and Diazepam (see below). Now you won’t know what’s going on at all anymore.
It’s likely that the doctors will not deal with you except to get, and tick off, a set of textbook ‘symptoms’. What they are interested in is a ‘diagnosis’ in order to administer their ‘treatment’. The diagnosis will label you according to the symptoms – essentially your humanity will be removed and you become a ‘psychotic’, a ‘manic-depressive’ or a ‘schizophrenic’ etc. The Italian psychiatrist Giovanni Jervis writes in his ’Critical Handbook of Psychiatry’: “The psychiatric diagnosis is a totalitarian judgement; it introduced the image of an individual who is exclusively programmed and turned into a robot by madness, i.e. of a dangerous and irresponsible being.”
In the following weeks you will be surprised how little they are interested in you and your story as they stick to their biologistical ‘explanations’.
Judgement, Confinement and ‘Insight’:
Psychiatrists are not allowed to keep you against your will for very long, so what’s likely to happen next is that a judge will be called who will then sentence you, based solely on the ‘diagnosis’ of the doctors who will provide the ‘evidence’. They will take the judge to have a look at you – the sorry mess that you are after having been injected with Diazepam – and declare that you are a danger either to yourself and/or to others and have to be locked up and ‘treated’ for a number of weeks. There is no court case and no defense.
If you find yourself brought to a psychiatric institution, and if the situation is such that they would want to keep you there, it can be advantageous to sign yourself in on your ‘free will’, simply because that should allow you to sign yourself out again after a few days. This doesn’t save you from the de-humanising and dangerous treatment that the doctors have in store for you, and if you attacked other people or hurt yourself you won’t have this option. The bigger problem is that you may be forced or blackmailed to stay there for longer than you wish under the threat of being committed by the judge. Be fucking careful what you sign!
To this we have to add the dogma that the patient has to show ‘insight’ into her/his illness: If someone insists on not being ill this is used as a ‘proof’ that they are ill. It functions like the inquisition: If you don’t admit your guilt we medicate you forcibly and declare you insane, if you admit you can be medicated ‘voluntarily’ and may be declared ‘cured’.
Treatment – Drugs:
Today the ensueing treatment will favour chemical means over physical therapies. This doesn’t mean your chance of survival has become much higher; besides that both electro shock treatment and brain surgery are still used, despite somewhat slipping out of fashion.
Once you are diagnosed and judged, the doctor will prescribe you a cocktail of drugs, and often this is administered whether you agree with the procedure or not. More likely you are already not in a state where you are able to agree or not. Legally this is actually a grey zone where it is theoretically often unclear what the competences of the doctors are. Practically however they will do as they please as they know that – if it ever comes to that – most courts of law would accept them as the authorities and would favour them over the diagnosed psychotic or mad person, and trust them that they “did everything in the patients best interest”. This is how, to this day, you are likely to be treated by means that are extremely hazardous to your overall health, which is now less visible since the emphasis has shifted from physical ‘therapies’ such as electro shocks and lobotomy to chemical solutions.
Additionally the doctors generally do not inform either the patients nor their relatives or friends about the possible dangers associated with the drugs. One (pro-) psychiatry magazine did a poll about this, and not one of the patients polled felt they had not been mislead about the medication.
Here is a typical selection of drugs, that will vary a bit in each case:
1. Diazepam, or Valium, or similar heavy downers (or the same components under different brand names) as tranquilisers and against anxiety. It can reasonably be argued that a few doses of Valium could help to get someone down from an acute psychosis, to calm them at a point where talking to them won’t help, and where sleep has become an impossibility. As far as anxiety goes – you already have good reason to be scared, so partly the substance is already administered to keep you from freaking out about your confinement.
2. Haloperidol, a.k.a. Haldol, or similar extreme anti-psychotic agents or neuroleptics, a.k.a. chemical handcuffs/strait-jacket. Severe psychopharmaceuticals that will inhibit certain serotonin and dopamine processes and that are extremely dangerous.
Generally neuroleptic drugs (or Butyrophenones) have a truly scary so-called ‘side effects profile’. Even in therapeutic doses Haloperidol commonly causes extrapyramidal movement disorders, especially parkinsonism, acute dyskinesias, and akathisia (motorial excitation). Up to 40% of elderly people who are treated with neuroleptics develop tardive (often orofacial) dyskinesia. Tardive Dyskinesia is a disorder that manifests itself in involuntary movements especially of the facial muscles, snake-like movements of the tongue and rolling back of the eyes. The danger of developing this disorder is increased by prolonged treatment and higher age, but it can appear already after short treatments in young patients as well. Often it does not subside after the treatment is finished.
One web site designed for students of psychiatry and nurses admits regarding the ‘therapeutic effect’ of Haloperidol that the “precise mechanism (is) not known”, but if you react with Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome and die, you become another statistic casualty, collateral damage in the war for ‘normality’. TD and NMS may be relatively rare, but even without these permanent or fatal effects your metabolism will be severely shaken by the administration of neuroleptics. Anxiety, drowsiness, extrapyramidal symptoms (uncontrolled tremors and muscle stiffness), dizziness, constipation, nausea, indigestion, rhinitis (inﬂammation of the mucous membranes in the nose), rash and tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), lactation or priapism. On any psychiatric station you will find people slobbering, salivating, unable to concentrate or focus. The main reason for this is that these results are not ‘side effects’ that sometimes appear, but they are part of the effect. Like ghosts patients are slowly walking up and down the corridors, their hands trembling, their eyes like dead fish.
3. As a consequence another drug such as Akineton (or similar) will be added to the menu (while the Valium is reduced) with the purpose of counter-acting the ‘side effects’.
Akineton is a drug mainly used for treatment of Parkinson disease. It will stop you trembling, twitching and salivating so much. This is a clear indication as to the severeness of Haloperidol: Akineton will make you appear more together again and you may welcome its immediate effect, but it merely masks the extreme detrimental ‘side effects’ of Haloperidol. It can also mask the symptoms of developing Tardive Dyskinesia, i.e. while the patient feels better, because the trembling and salivating subsides, invisibly a potentially irreversible permanent disorder could develop.
Rather than anti-Parkinson drugs you may be given anti-epilepsy drugs, also to mask the shaking, slobbering vegetable state your ‘medicine’ puts you in.
If you manage to ‘stabilise’ under this highly dangerous cocktail of drugs you are likely to be changed to another, ‘lighter’ neuroleptic, such as Risperidone/Risperdal.
Risperdal like Haldol is also a anti-psychotic agent but with a better ‘side effect’ profile, i.e. less trembling and muscle spasms, but essentially the same dangers.
The main reason to put you on a drug like this is that it’s easier to release you into the outside world; however it’s not uncommon that people are released on a cocktail including Haldol and Risperdal, and an anti-epileptic and an anti-depressive drug…
While you are still locked up and drugged, doctors will dedicate maybe 5 minutes a day to you, there is less and less ‘therapy’, and a token psychologist might be strolling around the place, essentially leaving patients to work out their ‘problems’ on their own, based on the ‘theory’ that put into chemical handcuffs, consciousness will rebuild itself. Other experiences may differ and more ‘therapy’ may be on offer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better time.
If and when they talk to you you will find that you are a collection of symptoms, and that what you say is often turned against you or merely used to confirm or expand the ‘diagnosis’.
Without any references, cut off from your personal reality, in a purposefully debilitated state, it will be held against you as proof that you’re ill if you can’t communicate ‘normally’ with the doctors, while communication between patients in the closed ward is often on a symbolic/magical level, e.g. swapping items of clothing and jewellery or cigarettes.
As the doctors, high priests of the god of an imaginary health, put into scene the spectacle of ‘getting better’ of the patient (lowering the Valium, adding the anti-Parkinson drugs that will make you slobber less, so you’re ‘getting better’), there is no dealing with the root causes of your situation/breakdown.
From all this follows that to create a reference for the personal reality of the patient, support from the outside is essential. The ‘reality’ of the mental institution is more likely to be detrimental to the process of finding ground under ones feet again, and by denying any validity of the psycho-trip as such is additionally alienating rather than helpful.
Only like this, with unconditionnal support from friends and comrades, it will be possible for the patient to re-create their personality, as under these medications everything is destroyed, not just the ‘psychosis’.
Keep visiting as often as possible, even if the patient is hardly able to communicate.
Talk to the doctors and make it clear that you and others care – it will discourage them from gratuitious experimentation.
Mention that you write a day by day journal, inquire about medication and dosage, ask why, take notes.
It makes sense to draw up a sheet to be signed by the patient that gives a person who the patient trusts the power to act on his/her behalf legally.
The legal situation of the patient is different in different countries, and so is the actual ‘right’ of the doctors to forcefully administer dangerous drugs. So do get advice from sympathetic lawyers. (In Germany there exists a legally binding form that will – or should – protect you from administration of neuroleptics, see antipsychiatrie.de).
It will initially be difficult to take the doctors to court over e.g. human rights abuses or false imprisonment, and court proceedings can easily take longer than it takes to get the patient released anyways (and may aggravate the situation). However it’s good to make preparations immediately if only to be ready when it turns out that the psychiatrists are trying to prolong the time of involuntary sectioning set by the judge, by calling the judge again, drugging the patient a bit more and claiming they ‘need more time’…
If the patient is for example classed as ‘suicidal’ it will be hard to charge false imprisonment, but prepare nevertheless.
The logic of this imprisonment is such that all dissidence expressing itself as ‘madness’ must be exterminated, but this is by itself directed against the patient. If you are on his/her side, do not trust the doctors, do everything in your power to get the patient out as quickly as possible. There are many cases where the refusal to take medication and the refusal to even talk to the doctors has resulted in the patient getting released quicker, but we know of cases where medication has been forcibly and violently administered. Support from the outside will be of great help here: Psychiatry is most of all hidden social engeneering, it only works if the spotlight isn’t too bright, if it’s undisturbed by critical intrusion… if the outer world collaborates with the authority that the doctors represent.
The Case of Adalgisa Conti
It is impossible here to give a systematic account of the development of the psychiatric ideology and the system of incarceration and treatment. There exists a large body of literature, some of which is listed below.
‘In the Madhouse – Dear Mr. Doctor, this is my Life’ is the title of an amazing autobiographical text by a young Italian woman named Adalgisa Conti which I will briefly examine instead.
In 1914 she is writing down the story of her life. She’s in the ‘madhouse’ where she is going to spend the rest of her life, another 65 years. How exactly she came to write down her autobiography is unknown, possibly encouraged by a doctor hopeful to be provided with material for a case study.
Writing about her youth it soon springs to attention that she is denouncing her own sexuality as ‘corrupt’, as she must have been told. She masturbates which is used as a ‘proof’ of her ‘illness’ then and later. Since age 16 she feels affection for a guy but doesn’t let him touch her, but some time later they marry rather suddenly. She describes the journey to the new home like a dream sequence (“I felt like I was advancing one step and retreating two”, “The bedroom was more beautiful than mine at home, more beautiful than I deserved”, “When I undressed I had an unpleasant feeling, because I was, as I said, neither innocent nor seductive”, and other self-depreciating views); in fact her husband doesn’t manage to give her an orgasm, a fact she isn’t able to communicate to him, or admit to him. She despairs from her new familiar environment, develops a passion for a music teacher which again remains a fantasy. About her marriage she concludes: “We were too different: he was too good, I was too bad”.
She’s in a lose-lose situation without a perspective, no way out.
‘Illness’ is bound to hit: She doesn’t know what’s going on with her, she cries for 20 days, feels no passion for anything, loses her equilibrium, believes she has become a saint…
She starts preparations for her suicide, puts up a picture of a saint, lights candles. She kisses her sleeping husband, but when he gets up to go hunting he doesn’t deal with her. Later that day she is taken to the hospital.
“Life is not beautiful at all, to be honest, but nevertheless I will struggle and bear what fate has reserved for me and what you, Mr. Doctor, have decided. You can decide about me (…) because you are a god, and if you want to, you can do anything.”
She also says, “It would be better if you put me in a straight jacket and lock me up”, and starts adapting stereotypes of ‘madness’: “Sometimes I think I am Garibaldi or his wife (which is truly a big difference)”, but at the same time she says:
“I want to fight, but I am too worn down”, “I want to love, but I’m unable”.
It turns out that the key is that she has a irregular menstruation cycle, and that she is convinced this was caused by masturbation…
One of her nurses notes in the 70’s:
“From the story of Adalgisa it transpires that she believed herself to be abnormal, to be mad and to be weird, because she suffered from the situation at home. She describes her relationship to her husband, to his mother and to her father in law like normal things. The abnormal seemed to be that she felt bad. She recounts the things in a way that they are as they are, she doesn’t like them, and therefore she must be mad.”
Adalgisa Conti died in the ‘madhouse’.
What’s exceptional about her story is not that she was locked up because she couldn’t deal with a social situation that seemed to offer no way out, but that she happened to write it down. Countless others just disappeared into the asylums silently and forever.
A ‘double bind’, an lose-lose situation is often what precipitates a psychosis, this radical break with reason and functioning. From vagrants rounded up, to women encarcerated in abusive matrimony, to workers caught in a life-long trap of exploitation or ‘redundancy’, having no language and no chance, to kids taking too much drugs, throughout the last century the situation has gotten worse: People are freaking out, are losing the plot, left right and centre. Fuses blow in introverted dissidence, with good reason.
I am here not talking about the rather few cases of ‘real’ madness, the few cases of actual biological malfunction of the senses, due to brain damage or whatever else, but about the millions of cases each year in the west (the United States alone have one and a half million cases a year and an estimated total of 40m people “affected by mental illness”!) that people have their encounter with psychiatry, and how psychiatry performs a ‘social hygiene’, silencing the individualised uproar into an ant-like functioning, collectivised in conformity, and therefore alone again.
This is now more than ever happening under the veneer of strict scientificality. Modern psychiatry adheres to the ideological dogma of biologism and health. It claims all disturbances from ‘psychosis’ to ‘madness’ are due to biological causes or chemical imbalance in the brain. This can then – supposedly – be rectified with chemical agents, electro-shocks, or surgery.
Throughout the whole period that Adalgisa Conti was incarcerated there were a number of developments in psychiatry. Psychoanalysis was used and then more or less ditched as a method. So was frontal lobotomy. Nazi doctors send ‘mad’ people to the gas chambers, just like other dissidents.
The most important developments against these ‘optimisations’ of normalisation were the beginning of patient’s self-organisation, most notably the SPK/ Patient’s Front/ SPK/PF(H). I won’t in this article go further into their history, theory and praxis since there are 2 articles by themselves in this issue of datacide, except to emphasise the importance of their radical critique of the prevalent (Nazi-)concept of ‘health’, the recognition of one’s own illness as a power and the struggle against doctors as a class struggle.
Another development was the various movements of so-called Anti-Psychiatry (mainly in England) and Democratic Psychiatry (mainly in Italy), especially from about the early-mid 60’s to the late 70’s. This strain developed out of the critique of the post-war official psychiatry that lobotomised, electro-shocked and drugged people without having much of a clue what these ‘methods’ actually did, because they didn’t have much of a clue what they were ‘treating’ at all.
The main proponents of ‘Anti-Psychiatry’ were Thomas Szasz, Ronald Laing and David Cooper, who varied a lot in their individual outlooks; the term had been coined by Cooper in his 1967 book ‘Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry’, while Laing felt uncomfortable to be associated with the new label. Szasz was a political liberal/libertarian, while Cooper gradually developed from a practicing psychiatrist to a sort of revolutionary communism with an acid consciousness.
He essentially argues that ‘mental illness’ (or ‘schizophrenia’) does not exist except as a description of a social problem. These are political labels designed to “illegitimize radical non-conformity in a conformist society”. Michel Foucault argues that rationality and irrationality are merely other words for conventionality and dissent.
It is Cooper who speaks out against a romantisation of madness, in favour of its politisation, which he sees as necessary to create a future for humanity. “The future of madness is its end, its transformation into universal creativity, and this is also its lost point of origin”: At the very least it is a chance, but not as a tragic personal crisis, but a renewal of ourselves in a way that breaks with all compulsive rules, how and what we are supposed to be, and without hurting anyone else; madness as a deconstitution of our selves with the implicit hope and aim to return to a world more real. Like orgasm, like revolution.
The Democratic Psychiatry in Italy with Franco Basaglia its most prominent figure, on the other hand did not deny the existence of mental illness, but still based their approach on a positive acknowledgement of dissident states of mind and behaviour, and based their view on the institutions in society that cause illness like family, school, work, especially in the factory, home, prison… Naturally an institution like psychiatry with its asylums would not cure, but produce more mental suffering: illness needed to be de-psychiatrised. In fact, despite a lot of resistance by more conservative forces, the movement of democratic psychiatry was successful enough (for a few years) to get the Legge 180 (law 180) ratified that proposed a program of dismantlement of psychiatric institutions in Italy.
Sadly in the period of restauration that followed the 70’s these developments were countered by a more reactionary approach just like in most other segments of society. Psychiatry has again slipped back into obscurity. The stigma and humiliation that is attached to the diagnosis of ‘madness’ was upheld and so was the unique ‘professional’ competence of the doctors to deal with it. The opening of the asylums that some anti-psychiatrists propagated was of course not ‘the answer’ to the ‘problem’ of mental disturbances in the modern world, indeed it wasn’t supposed to be – it could only work as a small part of the revolutionary struggle; everything else would be reformism that would keep the system running.
Not only are now most ‘anti-psychiatry’- initiatives reformist, but there is also an attempt by the pharmaceutical corporations to bank-roll harmless interest groups to mute criticism. Just one example: The (US) National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) received $11.72 million from the pharma corporations (in only 2 1/2 years) and consequently put their weight behind ‘medication compliance’ programs!
The clearest antipode to this are the SPK/PF(H) who are not anti-psychiatric, but pro-illness.
The barbaric practices of lobotomy and EST are only taking place behind very closed doors, where patients are also subjected to ‘deep sleep therapy’ whereby the victim is literally put to sleep for weeks at a time (with short daily breaks for food intake and a visit to the toilet) – and many tragically never wake up (which led to this practice being banned in Australia recently).
Brain-altering neuroleptics are administered much more publicly – both in the US and in the UK there are efforts to force people to stay on medication (‘compliance’) once they have been released by putting them under de facto house-arrest for an hour or so a day, in order for a nurse or social worker to come around and make them take their cocktail of drugs, or alternatively they are shot up with a ‘depot’ of slow-release neuroleptics that will slowly seep into the brain over the span of several weeks. Besides the already described effects of these drugs, there is another serious catch: To suddenly stop the medication can directly lead to a psychotic breakdown, a so-called withdrawal psychosis whereby the effect of the drugs in the brain is reversed. Clearly said: This is not a re-emergence of the ‘old’ psychosis, but the merciless expression of the dependency developed by the ‘treatment’.
All this unspeakable violence takes place every day all over the world under a ‘scientific’ biologistical gloss that is in the end about as ‘scientific’ as Phrenology.
The ‘mentally ill’ is a defective proletarian who needs to be made useful to the economy again, be it as labour power, be it as a consumer of drugs, and why not as both. The doctor class who manages this today is so much more economically efficient than in previous times!
Michel Foucault begins his book ‘The Birth of the Clinic’ with a description of the treatment of a female ‘hysteric’ by the doctor P.Pomme in 1769 who proceeds to ‘cure’ her by making her take baths of 10-12 hours length each day for 10 months. The reasoning behind this is that the illness is assumed to originate from dried out nerves. As the patient starts to shed skin from her intestines the healing success commences: Lumps are shed through every orifice.
As absurd as this sounds like, at the end of the day disturbingly little has changed, except that the torture methods that are supposed to exorcise the disease have been modernised. Doctors have since cut open the brains of living patients, have shocked them with electricity and insulin, and continue to do so. As you are reading this millions of people have their brains dimmed, are silenced and brought to conformity with psychopharmaceuticals.
At the beginning of the ‘age of reason’ there was considerable ex perimentation with the newfound incompatibilities between private and public reason. The reason of the State of course was declared supreme. With the industrial revolution and the occupation of the world by the logic of Capital, the reason of economy has added itself and since then penetrated every aspect of life including medicine and society’s view of madness.
Psychiatry after the first world war and especially – but not exclusively – under the Nazi regime, saw itself as a science that was supposed to purge society from disease and ‘inferior’ minds. Consequently tens of thousands of patients were gassed in Germany and after the gassing-stop 1941 were killed by ‘medication’ or starvation. Even after the end of the Nazi regime tens of thousands of patients were starved to death in the asylums under allied occupation.
While there is still a certain death toll, with the advent of more ‘advanced’ medication and the unstoppable rise of large pharmaceutical companies the situation has somewhat shifted to suit the demonic aspirations of capital to instrumentalise every last aspect of life and being for its reproduction.
While the use of psychiatry was racist, ideological and exterminist in Nazi Germany, in the USSR Haldol was used to silence dissidents many of whom disappeared and withered away in chemical strait-jackets.
History has shown both these systems to be no match for the ‘free-market’ economies where patients are kept alive, turned into long-term or life-long consumers of dangerous (expensive) drugs and are both silenced and profitable at once, all in their own – and society’s – best interest of course.
Bibliography, Sources, Links
Franco Basaglia: Psychiatry Inside Out – Selected Writings (Columbia University Press 1987)
David Cooper: Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry (1967)
(Psychiatrie und Anti-Psychiatrie, Suhrkamp 1971)
David Cooper: The Grammar of Living (1974)
(Die Notwendigkeit der Freiheit, Verlag Roter Stern 1976)
David Cooper: The Language of Madness (1978)
(Die Sprache der Verrücktheit, Rotbuch 1978)
Giovanni Jervis: Manuale Critico di Psichiatria (Feltrinelli 1975)(Critical Handbook of Psychiatry)
(Kritisches Handbuch der Psychiatrie, Syndikat 1978)
Ronald D. Laing: The politics of Experience (1967)
(Phänomenologie der Erfahrung, Suhrkamp 1969)
Michel Foucault: The Birth of the Clinic (1963)
(edition I used: Die Geburt der Klinik, Fischer 1999)
Mad Pride: A Celebration of Mad Culture (Spare Change Books 2000)
Patientenfront: Krankheit – Die Ganzheit mit Zukunft (KRRIM 1988)
Patientenfront: zum HEILsfall Landeskrankenhaus (hier:Wiesloch) (KRRIM 1991)
Patientenfront: Festschrift – 25 jahre SPK/PF(H), 60 jahre Huber, 10 Jahre Krankheit im Recht (KRRIM 1995)
SPK: Aus der Krankheit eine Waffe machen (Trikont Texte 1972)
rereleased by KRRIM in German, English (Turn Illness Into A Weapon), French, Greek and partly in Italian.
SPK: Krankheit im Recht (KRRIM 1995)
Sil Schmid: Freiheit Heilt – Bericht über die demokratische Psychiatrie in Italien (Wagenbach 1977)
other recommended writings include everything else by Cooper, Deleuze/Guattari, Foucault, and SPK/PF(H)
Dendron – Human Rights in Mental health
Die Irren-Offensive Nr.9: Das Ende des Alptraums (2000)
(Mad People’s Offensive: The End of the Nightmare)
Kursbuch 28: Das Elend mit der Psyche I – Psychiatrie (Kursbuch/Rotbuch1972)
Official SPK/Patient Front site, includes english texts.
Against biological bias…
Dedicated to psychiatric rape. Note that the CCHR is a Church of Scientology front.
Dendron magazine/ US-Mad Pride
Irrenoffensive (German), also irren-offensive.de
At the time of posting (2013) the most recent issue of Irrenoffensive appeared in 2007.
Most recent update 2010.
Practical experience visiting a friend during two separate psychotic episodes and the countless conversations with doctors, nurses and patients have greatly contributed to this article. Other’s experiences may differ in different countries or hospitals but prevailing biologist ideology will be more or less guiding the current treatments, even if some doctors will claim how interested they are in the content of somebody’s psychosis. They will do almost anything to convince you and the patient to keep taking neuroleptics for long periods of time.
Important: If you are on neuroleptics and wish to stop, DO NOT stop taking the medication from one day to the other. This must be done gradually, roughly in steps of reduction of 10% of the initial dose per week. Stopping medication apruptly can lead to a socalled withdrawal psychosis caused by the sudden change in brain chemistry, i.e. by the medication. Tragically often people end up going back to the hospital and receive even more of the poison that got them in there. Seek professional supervision by a critical psychiatrist. There’s not many of them, but they are out there!