Too bad those doctors who championed that notorious description of Drapetomania didn’t have Haldol at the ready to inject into their runaway slaves, like your nice modern psych wards do, it is so useful as a chemical restraint for bad behavior. But for anyone clueless about “Drapetomania”, for anyone who needs a sad history lesson about this spurious social control technique — excuse me, I meant ‘diagnosis’ — here it is: Civil War era doctors believed slaves held an irrational belief –remember, this was dreamed up way back in 1851 — that freedom was better than chains. Because of course slaves loved their captors, and thus it would be irrational to escape forced labor!
This was actually argued as a medical diagnosis.
Because Psychiatry’s trusty double-edged sword of ontology and epistemology divides sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Until 1972, homosexuality was a pathological behavior, until Stonewall’s riots forced a rancorous vote by the APA to boot it out of the DSM. Will “homophobia” be the next irrational behavior to be controlled by coercive psychiatry? Shall the DSM-6 suggest forced drugging for those fundies who still put up a fight against ‘marriage equality’? If not, a desperate despot can always avail oneself of the cute diagnostic category, “Not Otherwise Specified” in the DSM-5? That diagnostic black hole means psychiatrists get to make it up as they go along. What a useful dragnet it proves for those rebellious peons who refuse to submit to the powers that be. Like Dred Scott.
Beware when judges hobnob with Psychiatrists. Beware when they can issue gag orders to those who object to this form of social control. Beware these kinds of comfortable relationships among the power elite. Beware when you become comfortable that anyone holds this kind of ruling power. Beware the Murphy Bill.
Because this kind of naked abuse of power is actually happening in this day and age: Behold The Horrifying Story of Justina Pelletier. Psychiatry has legally locked up a fifteen year old girl with some unfortunate health issues that were of uncertain origin. But some nice doctors at Boston Children’s decided it was Somatoform Disorder, and since her parents were interfering with their brainwashing –excuse me, I meant the curing of her brain disease –they were denied guardianship over their daughter’s care. They have even been accused of Medical Child Abuse, and have had gag orders issued to stifle their dissent. So Jessica is languishing in this jail– excuse me again, I mean nice comfy locked ward — and cannot see them except in weekly supervised visits. Jessica, who was happily ice skating in a competition before her unfortunate meetup with the nice folks at the notorious Bader 5, Boston Children’s Psych Ward, is now confined to a wheelchair after languishing for over a year in a locked psych ward. Those helpful medical experts are now giving her psychiatric drugs, instead of the course of treatment other specialists of her peculiar Mitochondrial Disorder had decided was best. These well meaning psychiatrists are teaching Justina that her symptoms are all in her head. I hope they are not using electroshock therapy to accomplish this goal. I know I would cry uncle after experiencing this. I am relieved to note that lobotomies are no longer the current fashion in psychiatric treatment,that they are not suggesting A nice jab with an ice-pick through the eye straight into prefrontal lobe will do the trick Justina!
Please go to that link and read that searing Wall Street Journal expose of the history of lobotomy, of the raw naked power neurologist Dr. Walter Freeman held at one time in the 1950’s . It is deeply sobering to consider that the fabricator of this barbaric practice earned a Nobel Prize for his work, and so disturbing to consider the sway his crackpot ideas held over influential people — it was cutting edge science. Freeman experimented on hapless vets suffering PTSD after World War — “in accord with our desire to keep abreast of all advances in treatment,” the V.A. says in a memo. His influence spread and soon people in psychic distress would write to him and beg for lobotomies, in order to be returned to a “a surgically induced childhood.” His own description.
But it became a standard treatment for all the intractable and difficult to handle patients in psych wards. JFK’s father had it performed on his own daughter. It was as fashionable among the elite for a quick fix for anxiety, just as Ativan is to us now.
Faced with an ice pick, I think Justina would meekly say, “No thank you doctor, I will promise to stop cheeking my Seroquel.” How I wish for those who suffer the torments of psychic pain might have the silver bullets of targeting drugs which will afford great benefits, and do less harm! But for now I am in full agreement with Dr. Thomas Szasz, who gave us that illustration of Drapetomania for the abuses of psychiatry. Although Szasz has some polarizing Libertartian philosophies that I cannot endorse, still I agree with him that “The Myth of Mental Illness” is a linguistic construct that priveleges those in power to control behavior that they are uncomfortable or disagree with.
I cannot agree with that esteemed SUNY professor of psychiatry more. Every psychotic who is permitted agency to refuse dangerous neuroleptics for more effective and humane courses of treatment is grateful for his work. Otherwise we might all be hearing some Dreadful Doctor of Dred Scott saying to us,”Bend over psychiatric slave, because the DSM-5 has suggested that your condition is threatening your safety. You really might want to escape this locked ward to freedom, and we have determined that fresh air and sunshine is not a healthy environment for you at all. ”
On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, please oppose the Murphy Bill HR #3717, because:
“People will turn away from forced and coercive services.
We need to feel safe and understood to connect with others.
We also need hope and a sense that we can get what we need.
So many difficulties arise in life,
especially when our parents, schools and communities
have their own problems and don’t understand our perspective.
Connection, unconditional positive regard,
trauma informed services and safety
must replace coercive, medical models
and forced services if we hope to help others heal.”
words of Cindy Peterson Dana, as a comment on a thread at Mad in America, titled– Murphy Bill: Violates Civil Rights, Increases Government Intrusion and Control, and Ignores Scientific Research