January 26, 2011


me+ME: More on Freud and psychiatry


      "I am actually not at all a man of science, not an observer, not an experimenter, not a thinker. I am by temperament nothing but a conquistador--an adventurer, if you want it translated--with all the curiosity, daring, and tenacity characteristic of a man of this sort"
     (Sigmund Freud, letter to Wilhelm Fliess, Feb. 1, 1900).

The last Nederlog - three days ago - was On natural philosophy, philosophy of science, and psychiatry and was both long and little downloaded, and probably less read.

I don't mind much, and indeed the 90 Kb text did little else than praise texts on philosophy of science and exhort the reader to read these, but it does show that very few people seek knowledge.

Again, I don't mind that patients with ME usually know nothing about philosophy of science, methodology or logic - but it makes "discussing" on forums with persons who nevertheless insist on the dominant need for respect while bullshitting themselves and the rest of the world about their qualifications a very thankless and hopeless task.

Anyway... facts such as these, added to the absolutely nauseating stuff I read the last days about psychiatry and Freud, next to less sleep than I like, limits the easy flow of Nederlogs.

Here is a bit more about psychiatry and Freud, in four sections

1. Le Packing - "qu'un sang impur abreuve vos sillons"
2. On psychiatry in general
3. On psychiatric disorders and the health market
4. Richard Webster on Freud's frauds, hysteria and ME/CFS

And I should remark before starting on this that what follows is in one sense merely tangential to ME, or indeed unrelated, as the first item is, and in another sense of fundamental importance, in that the last year of reading about ME had already convinced me that the three basic problems for patients with ME are:

  • bureaucratic/political: In England and Holland, and also in other countries, patients with ME are discriminated as if they are less than human, as if they are either mad or malingerers, and may be driven to suicide by systematic discrimination and defamation: One may be denied help for decades - I am and have been, for one example - while being told this is what one deserves as mad person or as malingerer, sponging off the state and the healthy taxpayers.
  • psychiatric: The basis of this sickening discrimination are the insane theories of a few handfuls of sadistic pseudoscientific psychiatrists and psychotherapists, like Reeves and Jones in the US; Wesselly, White and Sharpe in the UK; and Bleijenberg and Van der Meer in Holland, who have been lying for decades about the disease, to help the state and insurances save money, and to help their own profession get patients, regardless the illness.
  • medical: One frightening thing is that, whereas most medical persons who are not psychiatrists should be quite able to see that what the psychiatists and psychotherapists claim about ME/CFS is just unscientific bullshit, they act - with a few exceptions: See Good journalistic article on the dangers of DSM-5 - as if they are the three little apes who did not see evil, who did not hear evil and who certainly did not speak evil, especially not if it involves someone from the medical brotherhood.

To see a little more clearly what I mean, consider the following French therapy for autism:

1. Le Packing - "qu'un sang impur abreuve vos sillons"

It says "Le" in the title, which is French for "the", but it is about "packing" as in the English "packing". Here is the beginning of the item dedicated to the subject in Neuroskeptic's Blog:

"Packing" Autistic Kids: A French Scandal

Back in the bad old days of autism they thought it was caused by "refrigerator mothers".

[... picture skipped ...]

Well, right now, some psychiatrists have decided that the best treatment for autism is something not that far removed from sticking them in a refrigerator - literally. Enter "Le Packing", which is the target of an unprecedented consensus statement just out from a list of 18 big-name autism experts (available free here).

This alleged therapy consists of wrapping the patient (wearing only underclothes or naked in the case of young children) several times a week during weeks or months in towels soaked in cold water (10°C to 15°C). The individual is wrapped with blankets to help the body warm up in a process lasting 45 minutes, during which time the child or adolescent is accompanied by two to four staff persons.

The alleged goal of this technique is to “allow the child to rid him- or herself progressively of its pathological defense mechanisms against archaic anxieties,” by achieving “a greater perception and integration of the body, and a growing sense of containment.”

In German concentration-camps inmates were thrown experimentally in water full with ice to see how long they would survive - 65 years onward in human history, French psychiatrists use a slightly less cruel method on children, notably to "help" them get rid of claimed "pathological defense mechanisms against archaic anxieties".

There is more about it at Neuroskeptic's Blog, a blog you ought to check anyway if you are at all interested in neurology or cognitive psychology. But yes: This is what I mean by medical sadism, a concept I arrived at in November 2009:  ME-disch sadisme op wereldschaal: Zeer verbitterend nieuws which ought to be a subject in medical and psychological education, and a checkpoint in would be medical doctors and psychotherapists: What moves you to become a medical person? Social status? Financial greed? Scientific interest? Care for people? Sadistic perversions? Interest in power over ill people and life and death?

And yes, it seems to me - with over 30 years experience with medical persons, having "an unexplained disease" - a far more important explanatory category for medical activities then is admitted or seen.

And since I find it very sickening to torture children, I have added the line of the Marseillaise I always found revealing since I learned it: "That impure blood may water your furrows" - with a letter difference. Or to put in De la Harpe's French (*), to similar effect, with two changes

    Et des boyaux du dernier psychiatre
- Serrons le cou du dernier bureaucrate

In case you doubt that there is much wrong with modern psychiatry  - and well you may, without my experiences and intellectual backgrounds, even if the quoted example gives some evidence there is - consider the next item.

2. On psychiatry in general

Before On natural philosophy, philosophy of science, and psychiatry there were several Nederlogs about the American Psychiatric Association and its DSM-5, that promises to be a very dangerous psychiatric manual, that will cost many lives if it is implemented as planned and as it stands, and that is so excruciatingly bad and immoral and unscientific that I hope it will blast the APA to smithereens.

No, I am not the only one with these kinds of feelings. Far from, indeed:

This concerns the Greenberg interview with Dr. Frances, editor in chief of the DSM-IV that I reviewd in Good journalistic article on the dangers of DSM-5. Here are the first three paragraphs, minus some links:

"There is no definition of a mental disorder. It's bull___. I mean, you just can't define it," states Allen Frances, MD, lead editor for the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-IV). As DSM-IV is the imperial doctrine used by psychiatrists in diagnosing mental disorders, prescribing powerful psychotropics to the masses, and commanding health care dollars, this is quite a confession. "We made mistakes that had terrible consequences," Frances concedes.

Gary Greenberg who interviewed Frances and wrote an in-depth article for Wired Magazine, describes how Frances' conscience has been hitting him in the gut. "Diagnoses of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder skyrocketed, and Frances thinks his manual inadvertently facilitated these epidemics -- and, in the bargain, fostered an increasing tendency to chalk up life's difficulties to mental illness and then treat them with psychiatric drugs," writes Greenberg.

DSM-IV led to a 40X increase in child bipolar diagnoses and an epidemic of dangerous antipsychotic prescriptions for children, even as young as 3.

For more, notably about that financial motive of the last paragraph see the article - under the last dotted link - and the next item:

3. On psychiatric disorders and the health market

There is this interesting piece on an interesting site that I was emailed a link of:

This is on a site called "Citizens Commission on Human Rights International", which is inspired by Thomas Szasz (<- Wikipedia), a professor of psychiatry who got worldfamous almost 50 years ago with a book called "The Myth of Mental Illness".

This book was first published in 1961, and was republished several times in updated editions. I read it around 1969, probably in the edition of 1967. I liked it then, and was young and naive enough to believe that, since most of what Szasz said was palpably sensible, matters would soon be straightened out as regards how to treat psychiatric patients.

It turns out that Szasz - one day younger than my late mother - is still alive and 90. He is originally Hungarian, but educated in the US for the most part, and a good writer, of many books on the theme of "The Myth of Mental Illness".

Here is a good summary of the main idea from Thomas Szasz (<- Wikipedia), quoted minus two links to notes:

His main arguments can be summarised as follows:

  • The myth of mental illness: "Mental illness" is an expression, a metaphor that describes an offending, disturbing, shocking, or vexing conduct, action, or pattern of behavior, such as schizophrenia, as an "illness" or "disease". Szasz wrote: "If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; If you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic." While people behave and think in ways that are very disturbing, and that may resemble a disease process (pain, deterioration, response to various interventions), this does not mean they actually have a disease. To Szasz, disease can only mean something people "have," while behavior is what people "do". Diseases are "malfunctions of the human body, of the heart, the liver, the kidney, the brain" while "no behavior or misbehavior is a disease or can be a disease. That's not what diseases are" Szasz cites drapetomania as an example behavior which many in society did not approve of, being labeled and widely cited as a 'disease' and likewise with women who did not bow to men's will as having "hysteria" Psychiatry actively obscures the difference between (mis)behavior and disease, in its quest to help or harm parties to conflicts. By calling certain people "diseased", psychiatry attempts to deny them responsibility as moral agents, in order to better control them.

This is undoubtedly so, although I do not quite agree with Szasz on mental illness, in that I believe myself that there are mad persons, and that what ails them is a malfunctioning brain - but that is usually almost all one can say, given the great lack of knowledge of how the human brain works, a lack of knowledge pseudoscientific psychiatrists like Wessely and Sharpe lie about as if it is Gospel: all their 'evidence based' pseudoscience consists of innuendo phony 'research' they or their mates have done is real science and has empirically and logically defensible conclusions: Not so.

Here is more Szasz, quoted from a list of quotations of his:

  • “Psychiatry does not commit human rights abuse. It is a human rights abuse.”
  • “It’s not science. It’s politics and economics. That’s what psychiatry is: politics and economics. Behavior control, it is not science, it is not medicine.”
  • “It’s an epidemic of psychiatry that we are dealing with. We don’t have an epidemic of mental illness, we have an epidemic of psychiatry.”

As I pointed out repeated, e.g. in Three documents: My father's story + my story + my Human Rights, I do think that my human rights have been knowingly and on purpose broken many times in Amsterdam, though I disagree with Szasz that psychiatry is "a human rights abuse".

In the hands of Wessely and Sharpe, for example, it clearly is; in the hands of some others, who try to help their patients and neither lie to them nor treat them on the basis of pseudoscience, it is not.

I do agree with the other two quotes: They simply summarize the facts as I have learned them - with the minor qualification that I hold there is a place for good psychiatry in medicine, which I qualify again by adding that it is much better to have no psychiatry at all than to have psychiatrists of the school of Wessely, Sharpe and White, more or less on the same principle as no police is better than the Gestapo, if that is the choice one has.

Here is a final quote of Szasz:

  • “When will we recognize and publicly identify the medical criminals among us? Or is it the very possibility of perceiving many of our leading psychiatrists and psychiatric institutions in this way precluded by the fact that they represent the officially ‘correct’ views and practices. Is it precluded because they have the ears of our lawyers and legislators, journalists and judges? Or is it precluded because they are control the vast funds, collected by the state through taxing the citizens, which finance an enterprise whose basic moral legitimacy we should call into question?”

I agree with this as well, in spite of the fact that I believe there are some decent and rational psychiatrists - but indeed in a small minority, like truly good or truly intelligent human beings.

And it is morally wrong, it seems on most systems of moral reasoning, to practice medicine, and interfere in people's rights, lives, and bodies on theories that are provably, logically and empirically, false and rationally untenable.

The above is fairly to very damning about psychiatry as is and was the last 50 years, and quite rightly so, for the most part. To conclude the present Nederlog, here is more on the father of the pseudoscience:

4. Richard Webster on Freud's frauds, hysteria and ME/CFS

Richard Webster (<- Wikipedia) is an English author, who seems best known for his Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis (Revised edition, Harper Collins 1996), that has been widely regarded as establishing its title and being well written.

I have not read it, but then I have read the following parts of it that are on his site:

These are quite interesting, also for persons with ME without interest in psychiatry, because they show quite well that the basic dogma of psychiatry - "Doctors can't explain it, so patients are making it up" - is in fact as old as Charcot and Breuer, from whom Freud took it, and that it has been implemented again and again and again, with Reeves, Jones, Wessely, Sharpe and White as its modern implementing frauds, and always to the same effects:

Fame or income for the psychiatrists; pain, misery, discrimination, defamation and human degradation for the patients - who are "mentally ill" anyway, so why should anyone listen to them, if society's experts assure the public they are benighted somatizers anyway?!

Well... here is one part of Webster's reply, that seems to me rationally incontrovertible (which is an almost certain sure sign that the creepy professor Sharpe will controvert it, in his best lying pomo-English, but that is a parenthetical aside):

“Freud made no substantial intellectual discoveries. He was the creator of a complex pseudo-science which should be recognised as one of the great follies of Western civilisation. In creating his particular pseudo-science, Freud developed an autocratic, anti-empirical intellectual style which has contributed immeasurably to the intellectual ills of our own era. His original theoretical system, his habits of thought and his entire attitude to scientific research are so far removed from any responsible method of inquiry that no intellectual approach basing itself upon these is likely to endure.” 

Incidentally, this quotation has a bit of a mistake at the end, as also illustrated by the APA and the DSM-5: "no intellectual approach basing itself upon these is likely to endure”:

In actual fact - regardless of the bland and false assurances of psychiatry's popes and cardinals who are professors of psychiatry, who pretend to be real scientists - it is mostly a religion in a mocked up 'evidence based medicine' dress. And history shows that precisely that sort of thing can last long, indeed as Freudian psychiatry lasted over a century already, especially because it is so very profitable for its professionals, and is also widely esteemed among the majority of the dumber kinds of intellectuals. So I am not overly optimistic about the imminent disappearance of pseudoscientific psychiatry.

But then probably neither is Richard Webster, who has an interesting website, with much more material on quite a few different subjects, and also material relating to ME/CFS:

As it happens, this is mostly a quotation of Hillary Johnson, with the prefixed information:

The above essay nearly turned into a book but was abandoned in late 2006 in order that I could concentrate on another more ambitious project which bears no direct relation to medical matters. I have posted here the opening sections of the essay. To download these in PDF format, click here.

If you click here you get probably the first version of the first three chapters - which is a pity, as one of my contacts sent me a pdf of considerably more, well over 80 pages, and also quite readable and well done, but alas not finished, with little on ME/CFS, but an interesting section on Lyme Disease.

So it's a pity Webster didn't finish the book - as, to quote his own introduction to it:

The purpose of the essay which follows is to examine how it was that a tradition of misdiagnosis actually became established within the profession of modern medicine, and how, in spite of significant challenges to it made by a number of physicians – including the psychiatrist Eliot Slater – this tradition has not only survived but has actually grown stronger in recent years.

If it is the case, as I argue in this essay, that modern medicine has indeed incorporated a tradition of misdiagnosis into its own orthodoxies, then the consequences are potentially very serious indeed. Examples of individual cases comparable to that of Karen Armstrong will be found throughout the essay. But in its closing sections I have turned to consider the systematic errors which appear to be associated with the way in which the medical profession – or very significant sectors of it – has tended to react to complex, widespread, and extremely serious medical conditions such as Lyme disease and ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). The accuracy of diagnoses made in relation to these illnesses potentially affects millions of people.

So you may understand why I think it is a pity Mr Webster did not finish his essay and publish it: It is good stuff and it might help many, perhaps to regain their rights but certainly to help them understand what caused them to loose the rights for decent and humane treatment while ill: Modern psychiatry, as practised by Reeves, Wessely and soon the whole American Psychiatric Association and its dangerous DSM-5.


(*) I attributed this quotation - as it happens - originally to Diderot (<- Wikipedia) (%), quoting an English source, but French sources say it was De la Harpe who wrote it. As a matter of fact, it may still be Diderot's, who was a truly great writer with a very fine mind, and who also seems to have been a great conversationalist, but De la Harpe at least published it first.


And that the guts of the last psychiatrist
May be used as noose to hang the last bureaucrat.

(%) I quote its last part because it is very close to what I think, and because Diderot is one of my favourite philosophers:


As a philosopher Diderot speculated on free will and held a completely materialistic view of the universe; he suggested all human behavior is determined by heredity. He therefore warned his fellow philosophers against an overemphasis on mathematics and against the blind optimism that sees in the growth of physical knowledge an automatic social and human progress. He rejected the Idea of Progress. In his opinion, the aim of progressing through technology was doomed to fail. He founded his philosophy on experiment and the study of probabilities. He wrote several articles and supplements concerning gambling, mortality rates, and inoculation against smallpox for the Encyclopédie. There he discreetly but firmly refuted d'Alembert's technical errors and personal positions on probability.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon
     insufficient evidence
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

        home - index - top - mail