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Doug Casey on the Dangerous Trend of “Psychiatric Repression”

Posted by M. C. on February 9, 2023

In the last 100 years, the number of diagnosable psychiatric disorders has grown like topsy. There are hundreds and hundreds of things that are now deemed psychiatric disorders. Enough that almost everybody can now be said to need a psychiatrist.

Soon I expect we’ll see public health used as an excuse to shut down beliefs which don’t suit a certain class of people. It’s very dangerous and it’s very unnecessary.

International Man: The Soviet Union used the diagnosis of mental illness as a tool to silence political dissenters. It was a practice known as “psychiatric repression.”

Dissidents who spoke out against the government were often declared insane and forcibly institutionalized in psychiatric hospitals, where the government subjected them to inhumane treatment and abuses.

The diagnoses were often based on political rather than medical criteria and were used as a means of punishment and control.

What is your take on this practice?

Doug Casey: Well, before we get into what happened in the Soviet Union, and what seems to now be happening in the US, we really have to address the validity of psychiatry as a science to start with, and mental illness as being a real illness.

Dr. Thomas Szasz, who died some years ago, made the case that mental illness is not a medical concept and does not have a biological basis. He believed that what people commonly refer to as “mental illness” is actually a label used to describe deviant behavior, emotions, and thoughts that do not conform to social norms. He argued that mental illnesses are not diseases in the traditional sense, as they cannot be objectively measured or diagnosed like physical conditions such as cancer or arteriosclerosis. He wrote numerous books debunking psychiatry; I highly recommend them.

My own view is that people have always had psychological problems, worries, and aberrations. These things were once dealt with by talking to friends, counselors, or religious figures. Since the time of Sigmund Freud, however, “treating” mental conditions has been turned into the business of psychiatry.

Psychiatry has set up a priesthood of doctors who look at what people think, say, and do, and offer opinions as to whether or not it’s healthy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with studying the way the mind works. The problem arises when a practitioner can impose his opinion on another person. If a surgeon thinks you should have a heart operation, he can’t impose that on you. But if a licensed psychiatrist thinks you should be incarcerated and subjected to various drugs and “therapies,” there may not be much you can do about it.

Coming back to what happened in the Soviet Union, State officials found psychiatry was an excellent way to keep dissidents under control. It’s one thing to be prosecuted because the government thinks you’re politically unreliable and your views are wrong, but another to be punished because a medical practitioner claims you’re insane for holding them. Psychiatry—which I view as a pseudoscience—can easily be used to give a patina of science to political views.

But by saying they were crazy, the Communists were able to attack the actual essence of a person. This is one more thing that made the Communists not just nasty and dangerous, but evil. Evil is a word that’s fallen into disrepute in recent years, perhaps because it’s been used so indiscriminately by poorly educated Bible thumpers. My own view is that many, or most, supposed psychiatric disorders are a consequence of doing evil; if a person can’t confront these things, he may act irrationally, and be viewed as neurotic or psychotic. But putting yourself under the control of a person who’s taken some courses about other doctors’ opinions is rarely a cure.

It’s funny that psychiatrists, as a group, are usually looked down upon by other members of the medical profession. They may have real medical training, but when they go into practice all they basically do is sit behind a couch and listen to people rap about their problems, then experiment with psychoactive drugs, hoping for magic to happen. It’s not a bad gig to sit and listen for several hundred dollars per hour.

In using Freudian talk therapy, psychiatrists are basically no better than a friend or counselor, and often worse. I suspect many are just voyeurs who like to hear about others’ problems, perhaps just looking to compare them with their own. In fact, it can be worse. A lot of people become psychiatrists because they themselves are troubled and they like the idea of listening to other people’s problems and bouncing their arbitrary thoughts back at them.

Worse, the public thinks that psychiatrists actually know how the mind works, and can magically know what they’re thinking. The public thinks shrinks have special powers, like modern witch doctors. That fear, ridiculous as it is, gives them genuine power. That in itself draws the wrong kind of person to psychiatry. There’s a reason why Hannibal Lecter was portrayed as a psychiatrist as opposed to an accountant or an engineer or a salesman.

The process is disguised and legitimized by classifying problems using, among other things, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (called DSM-5 in its latest edition). Unlike a real medical or surgical manual, the book is mostly guesswork and opinion, a modern version of the medieval Malleus Malificarum, which classified everything known about witchcraft.

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