From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Response to Psychiatry: A History of Failure, Salon Magazine
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2001/07/11/levine/index.html

Dr. Levine states that "The history of psychiatry is one of nearly unmitigated failure". But he ignores psychiatry's resounding success at its most critical institutional task: self-perpetuation. Consider a few of psychiatry's many accomplishments:

They have adapted to changing social and cultural demands with a remarkable fluidity, managing to wrap the language of medicine around even the most egregious social injustice with professional impartiality. Thus they pathologized the tendency of slaves to run away and called it "drapetomania" in pre civil-war america. They helped explain the science and humanity of eugenics in nazi germany, even designing and building the world's first industrial scale mass murder facility for their own "patients", giving Hitler the inspiration and technology he needed to construct the death camps for germany's other "undesirables". Psychiatry effortlessly adapted to the stringent social requirements of stalinist russia, sucessfully diagnosing the mental disorders of thousands of political dissidents, who were subsequently "disappeared" into psychiatric dungeons and never heard from again. When the CIA instituted the MKULTRA mind control project in the 1950's, the head of the world psychiatric association and many of his colleagues found their patriotic calling in "pushing the envelope" of endurance for drugs, electroshock and lobotomies on hundreds of unsuspecting human guinea pigs. In the 1970's psychiatrists found new uses for electroshock in erasing the memories and personalities of dissatisfied house wives, saving countless marriages from divorce. The flexibility and universal applicability of psychiatry is one of modern science's great success stories.

More recently, they have demonstrated how the public can be convinced of almost anything with a large enough public relations budget: that emotional suffering in this perfect world is simply a brain dysfunction and that, for instance, the extraordinarily high number of domestic abuse victims in its "hospitals" (50-80%, by its own studies) are simply hallucinating their suffering, that with the latest drugs and electroshock in sufficient quantities, abused children can tolerate even the most outrageous injustice and gain the apathy they need to accept their lot in life without complaint. And with the "doctor" usually being hired by the child's abuser, psychiatry has shown how even the most blatant conflicts of interest and victim blaming can be effectively concealed by the appropriate spin: "oppositional-defiant disorder" instead of rebellion, "depression" instead of internalized oppression, "behavioral health" instead of social control. By enabling and, in effect, enforcing familial dysfunction, they have made a virtue, a science and a business of child abuse.

And of course, their decades-long coverup of brain damage from electroshock is the envy of corrupt government bureaucrats everywhere.

With the ever-increasing demand for social enforcement and domination of the weak by the powerful, psychiatry's future looks brighter than ever. One can only hope that before they develop the science of social control much further, they rediscover the mercy and honesty of outright murder.

Rich Winkel