I wish to comment of the “AntiPsychiatry Movment” as this month there has occurred a little known but imporant anniversary this very month of May at the time of this writing, May of 2018. First I will set the stage a bit laboriously by outlining the several main fields of focus for this movement. At least one of these “anti-psychiatry” movements was well placed, needed, healthily revolutionary and far sighted, Some of the others have been dismal flops, misguided lunatic efforts in the service of lunatic philosophies, and/or instrumental in generating monstrous new social problems.
There have been three forms of the “anti-Psychiatry” movement over the last half century or more.
In the USA the movement has focused on treatments that were, and/or seen as abusive, cruel or inhumane. These villified treatments concerned mostly the first few decades of the use of ECT, or electoconvulsive treatment, and psychiatric medications. In the last few decades ECT was refined to a point that its visually frightening quality of causing gross, big time seizures of muscles with all the scary “herking and jerking,” as I always term it in lectures, so that medications suppressed and eliminated those aspects that gave it a “bad” reputation. ECT was the only effective treatment for psychotic or serious mental illness for more than two decades until the advent of psychiatric medications commenced in the 1950’s and 1960’s Ritalin has long been the focus of certain advocacy groups as the second prong on the American anti-psychiatry groups as far as treatments.
The second main front on the anti-psychiatry movement has been the focus on the social phenomenon of institutionalization, or the inappropriate use of the state hospitals, large asylums, to house the chronically mentally ill for incredibly long periods of time, or lifelong, turning psychiatric hospitals into convenient warehouses for the mentally ill, keeping them out of the sight and awareness and social responsibiity of the rest of American society and of other western societies as well. Psychiatric hospitals became de facto prisons since hundreds of thusands of persons were confiend to hospitals lifelong for not only grossly obvious psychotically bizarre behaviors but also petty offenses such as being poor, chronically inebrited etc. These latter “status offenses” as they were called in more modern times when applied to juvenile offenders were more common the 1800’s than is commonly known.