Psychiatry: To Observe and To Control
The Myth of Psychiatric Care.
Most people today still regard psychiatry as a system of care and compassion. They seem to think of it as a system where venerable old men with esteemed knowledge and insight into the inner-workings of the mind gather around a disturbed person to help and ease that person. That is a myth. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this essay I shall be arguing from 25 years lived experience of medical-model psychiatry that it is actually a system of disinterested control of the human being, indeed of the masses, for the sake of control itself.
Psychiatric illnesses are iatrogenic. They are created by the psychiatric process itself. Ultimately therefore psychiatry exists as a self-perpetuating system of domination and separation of the human being from society for the sake of control itself. It has nothing to offer except its false diagnoses and the necessarily false treatments that are attendant to them. What a person gets in psychiatry is a false promise of care. I shall now outline what a person really gets from psychiatry:
The Disinterested Attitude
The opposite of love is not hate. It is disinterest. What could a person want who suffered an emotional or psychological wound but a loving address of their injury? That suggests a turning towards God for help and healing. However for those among humanity who have been referred to psychiatry what they will find is an industrial-medical complex with practitioners who don’t have the time or resources to do anything other than implement procedure in a “disinterested” way. It is not possible to show care and attention to disturbed people on an industrial-medical foundation. What they get is bureaucratic treatment.
The psychiatric bureaucracy operates like most efficient businesses with an eye to the business plan. It does not offer the tailored, personalised care and attention that sufferers of mental trauma actually require. Rather it offers the standard practice. When I have been incarcerated in the psychiatric units I have witnessed dozens and dozens of people who seem to be left to their own devices by the system with every day that passes. These are people who are given a bed and food and not much else by way of aid. On top of that they are subjected to the enforceable elements of psychiatry without much recourse to protest. All the while the psychiatrists sit in their position of power with scarcely a blush at the benevolent tyranny that they oversee. Thank God that after decades of the psychiatric survivor movement the spotlight on the psychiatric system has toned down greatly what malevolence had been there!
Behavioural Risk Management
If justice were done, psychiatry would not be classed as a medical specialism. It would be classed as a business management specialisation within a healthcare narrative. The discipline is fixated on the idea of mental disorder. That is to say that a person is a threat to himself or others by reason of a loss of mental self-control thus necessitating apparently the need for others to control him for their own sake and his. On the merit of that laudable and publicly-acceptable rationale the psychiatrist becomes a highly-paid expert in assessing the risk that certain people (and why these people?) represent to themselves or others.
Far from a caring enquiry into why life has troubled and traumatised a human being, the work of the psychiatrist as an assessor is a methodical approach to alienating that human being from society. For behind the methodology is the legal and political power to lock you up. The psychiatrist incarcerates you without fear of reprimand. There is no human rights body that investigates what they do. In Ireland the system that is set up to oversee the activities of psychiatrists expects them to self-govern with trust. This is completely unacceptable from a point of view of just balance of powers. Such is the sway and scope of psychiatrists to engage in their work. It is clearly a practice of behavioural risk management. This is profoundly true via the continuous review process that patients must undergo within the services. I argue that the life-long reviewing is little more than medical surveillance.
Perhaps more than anything your time spent with regard to psychiatry is time when you are continuously scrutinised, surveilled, observed by the psychiatrists and their system. From the moment you meet the psychiatrist you are subjected to methodological questioning that is aimed at determining your psychiatric state. This is the psychiatric review process. It is simply where you are required to answer a list of questions in order that the doctor might form a diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Then the standard procedure is to be given a pharmacological intervention, a drug.
The fact that the observations of the psychiatrists are purely superficial never seems to matter to anyone concerned except some of the patients. It is indeed a wonder how these people can get at “the heart of the matter” by asking such mechanical questions as, “How is your sleep?”, “How is your libido?” and “Have you any thoughts of harming yourself?”. If these answers revealed anything it would be merely the bio-chemical functioning of a body, not a soul.
After the periodic review the patient is followed after by the “outreach team”. These are a group of agents, e.g. the Community Health Nurse, and the Social Worker, sent into the community by the psychiatric system. They operate as little more than spies for the psychiatrist they report to. In my case the arrival of an outreach team has simply been a prelude to a sectioning later as they gather up the technical data that the psychiatrist needs to issue an order for arrest. This is simply community control emanating from the health centre. It is no different from a sheriff of the medieval period sending out his men to keep the serfs under observation and in-line.
If there were any doubt about my argument then it is dispelled at the point of contact with the Nurses Station at the psychiatric hospital. Here, at the Nurses Station, the staffs are all aligned behind observation panels that allow them to keep an eye on all those who have been referred to the acute psychiatric administration. They spend most of their time writing and recording what the patients do during the day for report to the psychiatrists. They have access to CCTV cameras that allow them to pin-point observe what the patients are doing in certain sections of the acute unit. The entire affair is a monitoring sequence until mandatory drug treatments are to be given out. Then violence is on hand for those who refuse to take the toxins.
For those who are able to read their own reviews made by the psychiatric system over time they will find that it barely represents them as human beings but is rather a long list of outsiders’ interpretations of their being. Never will the psychiatrists be able to make a fair report about anyone because they simply do not know who they are reporting about. Then they combine their personal ignorance with false theories that produce an often ghastly depiction of the human being reported about.
The Mortgage of the Soul to Psychiatry
So where does all of this observation and control lead? For the psychiatric professionals it is a pathway to a life-long career with decent money. For the psychiatric patients it is simply a bondage to an austere and inhuman system that will always remain impersonal and indifferent to our individual rights and dreams. To be referred to State Psychiatry in Ireland is to have your soul mortgaged to the system. You are destined for a reality which is a “polar night of icy darkness and hardness.”
When will you wake up from your dark night of the soul in psychiatry? When you learn to say NO to their bizarre and inane treatments. If you can, say NO to psychiatry with your hand. If you can’t say NO with your hand, say NO with your mouth. And if you cannot say NO with your mouth then hate psychiatry in your heart and that is the weakest freedom from it.
When dozens, and then hundreds and then thousands of psychiatric citizens say NO to psychiatry that is the time when the necromantic spell of the system will be broken and the patients restored to people once again at last.
Our day will come!