Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Reasons to oppose the SNP

1.The SNP are the ones cutting the devolved NHS in scotland
2. the SNP are the ones closing community centres
3. the SNP are the ones overseeing the Edinburgh City Council budget cuts
4. There was an SNP minister who publically said he doesn't believe there needs to be more council housing
5. the SNP backed out of the Nato policy despite it being a long standing one,
6. the SNP want the lowest corporation tax in western europe(lower than the Tories!)
7. they're not republican
8. they're not using the devolved powers they have
9. They're not pro-trade union. They recently asked unions to sign a no-strike deal and have worked against workers e.g. Grangemouth.
10. The care tax, see scotland against the care tax.

 Sturgeons 'left turn' seems more rhetoric than reality. Notice she doesn't say oppose corporation tax reduction or give up on it completely just moderate it 

". Earlier this month, the European Union and the USA announced that they would work to establish a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The announcement was a reminder of the massive opportunities that European Union membership brings."- Nicola Sturgeon, http://www.snp.org/blog/post/2013/feb/independence-goes-interdependence. 

The NHS in Scotland is devolved and controlled by the Scottish Government. Therefore NHS cuts are SNP policy and cannot be blamed on Westminster.

"Scotland’s 32 local authorities—including 12 administered either solely or in coalition by the SNP—are currently slashing hundreds of millions of pounds from their budgets under the rubric of “efficiency savings.”
Some 34,500 local government jobs have been axed since 2008-9, and a recent survey by BBC Scotland indicates that thousands more are to be lost in the next few years.
Many vital locally delivered public services, including cultural services, primary and secondary education, child services, personal care for the elderly, are under threat."

", the SNP leadership have been demanding tax cuts for the oil corporations, are imposing below inflation pay caps for public sector workers and support austerity-lite policies that will do nothing to ease the burden of savage cuts. In addition, the SNP leaders also oppose public ownership of even the privatised gas and electricity companies and are hostile to demands for tax increases on the rich and big business."



From the Scottish Anti-cuts Alliance:-

"The SNP Scottish government implemented the Con-Dem cuts with a savage cuts budget in February. The result is a £1.3 billion reduction in funding for public services in Scotland for 2011/12. Further cuts of another £2 billion are planned over the next three years. The consequences for jobs, services and working conditions are horrendous. Thursday 10th February – so-called Super Thursday – saw the majority of Scotland’s councils set cuts budgets amounting to the slashing of more than £500 million from local government over the next year. "
-  http://www.socialistworld.net/mob/doc/4977

"Aberdeen the SNP/Lib Dem coalition demanded a 5% pay cut on all workers over £21,000 a year: when this was rightly rejected by the trade unions, the council then came back with a proposal for 900 compulsory redundancies and been forced to back down. Fife, the SNP/Lib Dem coalition voted to privatise all the council’s residential care homes. Renfrewshire the SNP led council proposed to axe 60 teachers posts and replace them with lower paid, less qualified staff. SACA welcomes the decision of Scottish Unison in December to call on elected politicians to set needs budgets and to support coordinated strike by public sector unions against cuts. It’s about time that elected politicians refused to make cuts and do what councillors did in Poplar, Clay Cross and Liverpool in the past and refuse to inflict Tory cuts on our communities."
- http://www.scottishanticutsalliance.org/

Or else where...

"Local authorities across Scotland are being forced to make cuts in mental health and wellbeing services as a result of the SNP’s budget settlement for local government. SAMH told the Scottish Parliament’s finance committee in August 2009 that: “ we do not think that all of the challenges facing our services are directly caused by the recession: the removal of ring-fencing from mental health and Supporting People budgets has also had an effect… some local authorities are implementing necessary cuts in a short-sighted and possibly counterproductive manner… affecting its ability to provide services to communities… £2.7 million of apparently arbitrary funding cuts, made without appropriate planning or assessment of needs… they affect the service users whom we support. The problems also extend to health boards: last year SAMH was forced to close a successful service in Ayrshire after the local NHS Board withdrew funding, with little consultation with service users. We are now closing a service in Dundee following the withdrawal of funding; which involves £242,000 worth of budget cuts and affects 9 staff and 400 service users.”"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10415954/Scottish-councils-increase-charges-for-elderly-care-and-parking.html - Scotland’s local authorities are increasing charges for services such as elderly care and parking to plug a shortfall in their finances partly caused by the council tax freeze, according to an official report published today.

Around 40 per cent of the charges are paid for social work care, in particular by pensioners who rely on services such as home care, meals on wheels and emergency alarms

Scotland: fight against austerity, against established politics

"a vote for the SNP is no way forward for the independence movement. The SNP are already implementing cuts. Just the other day, the SNP-controlled Dundee council announced a further £8 million worth of public service cuts. Remember: it’s not what they say, it’s what they DO that actually matters."

John Swinney’s determination to implement the ConDem cuts was summed up by his comments: “The government’s obviously operating within a very constrained fiscal environment. We place a requirement on public authorities and public bodies to operate ever more efficiently, and that will lie at the heart of the budget propositions that we take forward.”

Addressing the impact of the Council Tax freeze, Midwinter concludes:
“The result has been 40,000 job loses, cuts in services and increased charges. In addition, the Scottish government transferred a number of high-profile anti-poverty grants into council overall spending – meaning that they can spend it on what they like. These included the Community Regeneration Fund of £113m, the Supporting People Fund of £384m and the Fairer Scotland Fund of £145m.
“There have also been cuts in the housing and regeneration budget of £307m and Education Maintenance Allowance of £15m. The result is that about £1bn of targeted spend on poverty has disappeared. Despite the deputy first minister claiming in 2008 that her government would ‘address the root causes of poverty once and for all’, poverty levels have increased since then.

"the latest figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that the SNP Scottish Government will slash NHS spending by 1 per cent in real terms between 2009-10 and 2015-16, while England increases it by 4 per cent.
The Scottish Government’s own figures show the NHS cut its food and drink budget from £32.6million to £29.7million last year"

"Neil Findlay, Local Labour MSP has said resources should be targeted at protecting frontline NHS staff, after a report from an independent health economist showed that NHS Lothian is being forced to cut a further £27m over the next year."

"The report states that health boards intend to make savings through “programmes to improve … workforce efficiency” and warns that “could be frontline as well”.
Across Scotland, it has been frontline staff that has borne the brunt of the SNP cuts with over 4,500 NHS staff losing their jobs, including more than 2,000 nurses, since 2009."

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre analysis on the health budget confirms that the total NHS budget in Scotland will be cut by £319m in real terms over the budget period (2011-12 to 14-15). Extracted from: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/FinancialScrutiny/SB11-71b.xls (see Table 1.06 – Health) 

AFed Scotland:-
Nicola Sturgeon insists she does "not intend on waging
a class war" and that she will be a "very strong ally" to Scottish companies.
The SNP are of course very much part of the on-going class struggle. Neoliberal capitalism is alive and well in Scotland, and the job of the ruling party is to ensure not just that that remains the case but that Scottish capital can intensify the competition against its rivals. Many people are complaining that the #‎SmithCommission powers likely to be devolved will lead to a downward spiral of tightened budgets and more cuts. Too often though, the implication is that Independence would be a fix to neoliberalism/austerity - which would mean that Scotland is somehow different from every other northern European country. And that we should rally behind the SNP as a mass party against Westminster and/or a new left electoralism. This is to argue that we unite with the very political managers, who are or would be exploiting us!
The point isn't to "hold Westminster's feet to the fire", it's to make every boss run scared of a militant organised working class. Which side are you on?
As the #‎YesToAction statement argues:
"Despite its claim to seek a better deal for Scottish people, the SNP-controlled Scottish Goverment is implementing austerity. It has already made cuts to further education – Edinburgh College workers struck against worse conditions. It has understaffed the NHS, while cuts to council funding are leading to disabled people paying for their own care. The SNP/Labour council in Edinburgh plans to slash £22 million from local services.
The devolution of new powers will not stop the cuts, and whether they come from local government, Holyrood or Westminster they are an attack on working class people."

Even Nicola Sturgeon's 'left turn' seems more rhetoric than reality


Friday, 20 March 2015

Why Mental Health Stigma exists. It's political!

 Ray Filar :
The silence and social stigma around mental health is deliberate, the product of an institutional refusal to talk about the affective impact of socio-political conditions. Some people get depressed, or psychotic, we think, because of chemical imbalances or individual traumatic experiences. They’re just lazy or making it up. We don’t talk about austerity, poverty, demonization of the unemployed — the politically-driven stigmatizing of the least privileged groups of people — but is it any wonder we’re unhappy?
"In other words, stigmas exist to protect a status quo that tells us: If you’re mentally ill, it’s nobody’s fault but your own. And if you’re mentally well… Well, that must be due to your own cleverness/goodness/responsibility/hard work, too, right?"

"Even Andrew Solomon, whose research on depression has mostly focused on its non-political determinants, included an entire chapter on how class affects depression in his book The Noonday Demon.
The World Health Organization, for its part, has heavily emphasized the connection between poverty and mental disorders, and advocates a rigorous program for promoting mental wellbeing that goes far beyond medications and therapies to push for support for children and the elderly, socioeconomic empowering of women, housing programs, and a stronger safety net in general."
from   http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/03/demonizing-mental-illness/

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Thoughts on Psychology.

Influences on my thinking:-


http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/24500_01_Fox_et_al_Ch_01.pdf - Critical Psychology Intro: Chapter 1.

http://www.midpsy.org/draft_manifesto.htm - Draft manifesto for a social materialist psychology of distress.




Midlands Psychology Group
for a social materialist psychology
-"We are a group of clinical, counselling and academic psychologists who believe that psychology—particularly but not only clinical psychology—has served ideologically to detach people from the world we live in, to make us individually responsible for our own misery and to discourage us from trying to change the world rather than just ‘understanding’ our selves. What are too often seen as private predicaments are in fact best understood as arising out of the public structures of society."


Thoughts on Psychology:-

  • Psychology must consider biology politics sociology history philosophy -basically it must be Holistic and intersectional.
  • Psychology cannot be value free. Psychology must be political. Psychology must understand both personal issues and political issues. The linked nature of  external and internal causes of problems.
  • A critical psychology must have a historical political institutional systematic understanding of how psychology has developed and the ways it may act to defend oppression or mask oppression etc.
  • I think distress can be caused by social and political factors.
  • I agree with Critical Psychology and Social Materialist psychology.
  • I believe the 'unconscious' mind does exist.
  • I don't agree with Psychoanalysis.
  • I  do think that  while  material  conditions do not determine how you think feel and act  they do strongly influence how you think feel and are able to act  and set limits on it
  • No one approach seems relevant for everyone everywhere and at all times- psychology is very contextual
  • I support the Autism rights movement.

Criticism of Mainstream Psychology.
  1.  Claims monopoly on Psychology becoming too ivory tower and academic
2.  Claims to be 'objective' and 'neutral' as if being a psychologist does not involve you in psychological processes.
3. Tied up with power relations e.g. drug companies.
 4.  Often liberal/ victim blaming - puts the responsibility for problems on the individual and usually their internal state and then claims the solution can be found in the same place. Often ignores the environment or living conditions which influence people. Almost always ignores the political circumstances which influence people. Puts the focus on individual personal change rather than individual AND social change. Tendency to assume almost unlimited 'free choice'.
5.  Developed in a historical context so obviously is shaped by those in power.
6. Has been and is being used for domination/oppression/exploitation by capitalism and the state especially. Tendency to promotes ideas of a fixed human nature which is inherently greedy/selfishish/uncaring/controlling/ anti-social etc which is to the benefit of existing power structures.
7.  Ultimately reformism in that it advocates altering existing situations not abolishing them.

Existing society encourages learned helplessness and learned powerlessness by encouraging consumerism, the spectacle, passivity and hierarchy and by denying autonomy and by destroying community, critical thinking and democracy.

Psychology is not value free. Just like in Sociology, to be involved in describing a psychology theory or account or the like the very act of doing so changes everyone around even if only in the short term and in a small way. It certainly changes the psychologist themself.

  • Improving ourselves as individuals and improving society CANNOT be meaningfully separated.
  • Autistic people should be helped if they need help because of how society marginalizes them but not medicated and are not there to be 'cured'.

Useful Quotes:-

“Critical psychologists have objected to psychotherapy‘s most common approach: helping us adapt to an unsatisfying world by internalizing problems and solutions rather than recognizing their societal nature. Psychology’s claim to be a science separate from philosophy accompanied 19th century Social Darwinism, which imagined and demanded a competitive, striving human nature for a dog-eat-dog capitalist world. It assumed rather than challenged hierarchy, patriarchy, and race privilege. Twentieth century psychologists who eventually became therapists encouraged people to fix themselves rather than challenge bosses, political elites, or dominant institutions more broadly. And still, today, mainstream therapy helps us function, boosting our confidence and self-esteem and maintaining our relationships so that we can get through school, get to work on time, keep at it one day after the next, mastering stress reduction techniques and ignoring any inkling that something outside ourselves might be at fault even when millions of us have identical “individual problems.” These culturally disseminated clichés have become part of our everyday psychology, seemingly obvious and natural and right (Fox et al., 2009).”

“Gross believed that “[w]hoever wants to change the structures of power (and production) in a repressive society, has to start by changing these structures in himself [sic] and to eradicate the ‘authority that has infiltrated one’s own inner being’”

"We are more likely to experience distress the more our experiences are invalidated and the more isolated we become from one another. Equally, the further we are from supportive, nurturing relationships, the more that invalidation and isolation will engender distress. People stripped of ameliorative influences such as a loving, supportive family and friends; comfortable, safe environments; and the trust, support and solidarity of others, are increasingly likely to experience diagnosable distress. In other words, the effects of trauma, social inequality and life events contingently interact with the less visible, less quantifiable effects of parenting, friendship, nurturing and caring. This is one reason why ‘the same’ event causes distress in some, but not others."

In the words of eminent psychiatrist Kenneth Kendler (2005, p.434-5): ‘We have hunted for big, simple, neuropathological explanations for psychiatric disorders and have not found them. We have hunted for big, simple, neurochemical explanations for psychiatric disorders and have not found them. We have hunted for big, simple genetic explanations for psychiatric disorders, and have not found them.’

"But this does not mean that biology should be largely ignored, as is so often the case in social science and (predominantly cognitive) psychology. Embodied capacities lend shape and texture to distress, by enabling activities and by co-constituting perceptions, thoughts and feelings. This means we should strive to understand how distress is produced by the adverse socialization of embodied, biological capacities, rather than by their impairment, disease or failure. This massively complex interdisciplinary undertaking will draw upon anthropology, social science, neuroscience, psychology and other disciplines. "

"Another example: sensitivity to others is a trait that might have a genetic component. Ordinarily this trait is adaptive, associated with maintaining good relationships, being a better employee, functioning well in groups, and so forth. But when someone with this trait is placed in a traumatic or abusive environment, the trait becomes maladaptive because it means that the effects of this toxic environment are felt more keenly. "

"Both psychiatric and mainstream psychological explanations of distress are at best partial, at worst ideological, because they fail to capture the way in which experience is shaped over time by a social world that is frequently oppressive. The acquisition of what could be described as an affective ‘default’ position is sensibly interpreted by the person as reflecting the way the world is, has been, and will always be. This enduring, embodied aspect of distress means it is very difficult for us to change the way we experience ourselves and our world."

"This does not mean that we are necessarily unable to choose a given course of action, nor that we are constrained to perform actions against our desires. ‘Freedom’, ‘will’ and ‘power’ are necessary and valid concepts. ‘Willing’ means choosing this or that; freedom means having the power to choose this or that. Whether or not we have the power to exercise our will depends upon the availability of the necessary social and material resources. Will and power are two distinct capacities: without resources, exercise of will is impossible.
So there is no immaterial force called willpower upon which we can call. The personal powers that make the exercise of will possible may be concurrently present in the world, or they may be acquired historically – embodied – from engagement with it. I will not be able to speak French (to ‘will’ a sentence in French) if I have not studied and practiced the language sufficiently for it to become an embodied skill. Similarly, I will not be able to behave confidently in a given circumstance if I have not acquired and embodied the kind of experiences which engender the appropriate confidence. Most therapies, whether explicitly or not, invoke boot-strap-pulling as a vehicle of change, but boot-strap-pulling is no substitute for the necessary personal power (Smail, 2005)."

"Sometimes, medication can usefully anaesthetize the distressed to their woes, yielding brief bubbles of respite or clarity. During these short, chemically induced holidays from their misery, those with the resources may initiate life changes that alleviate their problems and establish positive future trajectories. But whether this occurs is a function, not simply of the medication, but of the resources and circumstances within which it is ingested: consequently, medication can also make things worse (Moncrieff, 2008)."

"Therapy can also help, though again not by ‘curing’. Understood generically, therapy provides comfort (you are not alone with your woes), clarification (there are sound reasons why you feel the way you do) and support (I will help you deal with your predicament) (Smail, 2001b). In an atomised, fragmented, time-poor society, where solidarity and collectivity are derided, time limited, and relationships consistently infected with a toxic instrumentalism, these are valuable, compassionate functions.
At its best, psychological therapy can help the sufferer to understand distress, not as a (more or less wilful) failure of insight, motivation or learning, but as the inevitable result of living in a noxious world. Moreover, both medication and therapy can help people make better use of the powers and resources already available to them. Both may draw attention to unrecognized resources (e.g., solidarity with others); make it feel permissible to use available powers and resources; change the ways that people use available powers and resources; or explicitly support people to cease viewing themselves as ‘the problem’."

Where people have (or can obtain) more resources then they will have more scope to act upon whatever insights they might have gained.
It is also well-established in this literature that so-called ‘non-specific factors’ are a consistent predictor of good outcomes: in other words, that the therapist and client are able to establish a good relationship (Mair, 1992; Norcross, 2010). Indeed, unlike professional therapists, service users frequently declare the most ordinary aspects of therapy the most helpful: listening, understanding, respectfulness."

"The presentation of therapy as specialised technique cheapens and oversells psychology itself; leads to resources being wasted comparing the marginal differences between this brand and that; and deflects effort and attention from the very real opportunities for psychological research and insight that are supplied by the highly privileged situation of the therapeutic encounter."

Baron-Cohen said:

Monday, 16 March 2015

My Thoughts on Mental illness, Psychiatry and Psychology.

*Work in progress. Lots more to be said at a later date. *

Influences on my thinking on the subjects

http://www.midpsy.org/draft_manifesto.htm - Draft manifesto for a social materialist psychology of distress.




Thoughts on Psychology:-

Psychology must consider biology politics sociology history philosophy -basically it must be Holistic and intersectional.

I like Critical Psychology

 I don't necessarily agree with all of ‘social-materialist psychology’ but it seems useful

I  do think that  while  material  conditions do not determine how you think feel and act  they do strongly influence how you think feel and act  and set limits on it
No one approach seems relevant for everyone everywhere and at all times- psychology is very contextual

“Critical psychologists have objected to psychotherapy‘s most common approach: helping us adapt to an unsatisfying world by internalizing problems and solutions rather than recognizing their societal nature. Psychology’s claim to be a science separate from philosophy accompanied 19th century Social Darwinism, which imagined and demanded a competitive, striving human nature for a dog-eat-dog capitalist world. It assumed rather than challenged hierarchy, patriarchy, and race privilege. Twentieth century psychologists who eventually became therapists encouraged people to fix themselves rather than challenge bosses, political elites, or dominant institutions more broadly. And still, today, mainstream therapy helps us function, boosting our confidence and self-esteem and maintaining our relationships so that we can get through school, get to work on time, keep at it one day after the next, mastering stress reduction techniques and ignoring any inkling that something outside ourselves might be at fault even when millions of us have identical “individual problems.” These culturally disseminated clichés have become part of our everyday psychology, seemingly obvious and natural and right (Fox et al., 2009).”

“Gross believed that “[w]hoever wants to change the structures of power (and production) in a repressive society, has to start by changing these structures in himself [sic] and to eradicate the ‘authority that has infiltrated one’s own inner being’”

Criticism of Mainstream Psychology.
  1.  Claims monopoly on Psychology becoming too ivory tower and academic
2.  Claims to be 'objective' and 'neutral' as if being a psychologist does not involve you in psychological processes.
3. Tied up with power relations e.g. drug companies.
 4.  Often liberal/ victim blaming - puts the responsibility for problems on the individual and usually their internal state and then claims the solution can be found in the same place. Often ignores the environment or living conditions which influence people. Almost always ignores the political circumstances which influence people. Puts the focus on individual personal change rather than individual AND social change. Tendency to assume almost unlimited 'free choice'.
5.  Developed in a historical context so obviously is shaped by those in power.
6. Has been and is being used for domination/oppression/exploitation by capitalism and the state especially. Tendency to promotes ideas of a fixed human nature which is inherently greedy/selfishish/uncaring/controlling/ anti-social etc which is to the benefit of existing power structures.

6.  Ultimately reformism in that it advocates altering existing situations not abolishing them.

Existing society encourages learned helplessness and learned powerlessness by encouraging consumerism, the spectacle, passivity and hierarchy and by denying autonomy and by destroying community, critical thinking and democracy.

Psychology is not value free. Just like in Sociology, to be involved in describing a psychology theory or account or the like the very act of doing so changes everyone around even if only in the short term and in a small way. It certainly changes the psychologist themself.

Improving ourselves as individuals and improving society CANNOT be meaningfully separated.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Excellent article against Leninism and ' Dictatorship of the Proletariat' type thinking.

The party is haunting us again

"More importantly, no MWP in history has come near to establishing socialism, even when they have headed up a state. This holds true even for the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union under a so-called workers’ state. In other words, no MWP has ever brought about a society where exploitation and alienation has been ended; where direct democracy in the workplace and in society in general has flourished; where all forms of oppression, including racism and sexism, have been ended; where there are no rulers and ruled; where the divisions between mental and manual labour are broken; where the economy and wealth are socialised; and where society is based not on profit, but on meeting all people’s needs through democratic planning. In the cases of the SPD and the Bolsheviks in power, they even actively fought against this. Thinking that a MWP could begin to deliver on socialism, therefore, ignores the facts of history. Those advocating for a MWP in South Africa should perhaps bear this in mind."

"The reason for this is that states emerged to ensure that elite minorities could and can wield power over a majority. States, therefore, came into being when societies based on class first arose. The purpose states were built to fulfil was to ensure that an elite could rule and accumulate wealth through using the state they controlled to keep a majority subservient, oppressed and exploited. As such states have always been tools and instruments of elite rulers and their class. This defining feature of all states means they can’t be used for liberation; it is not the purpose for which they arose. In fact, if there was no inequality or class rule, states would not exist."

"How states work to ensure that the ruling class maintains power and wealth can easily be seen under capitalism. Today we have huge states that ensure the interests of the ruling class (capitalists, politicians and top officials in the state) are protected and furthered. Through the state’s legislative, judiciary, economic, military and policing arms, the state always protects and enforces the property interests of this class by protecting and enforcing minority property ownership, whether it be private and/or state-owned property. Along with this, states today legalise exploitation along with attempting to create an environment in which capitalism can generally function. These massive institutions cannot be simply wielded in the interest of the working class. Indeed, their function is to keep the working class oppressed.

Of course states use ideology and propaganda to ensure the working class accepts its own oppression. One source which states often perversely use in an attempt to ideologically neuter the working class is the fact that they provide some welfare and socially-useful services. Of course states, as discussed above in relation to the 8 hour working day, were forced to provide such services due to massive working class struggles and, often, the real threat of revolution. As such, welfare represents a gain of past mass struggles. Nonetheless, states and the ruling classes controlling them were also willing to make concessions based on the calculation that to do so would limit the possibility of future revolts. States then, for propaganda purposes, falsely claimed that it was their ‘benevolence’ that led to welfare. This is then used by states even today in order to claim they exist for the benefit of all classes. In other words they use the provision of welfare to try and mask the fact they exist to enforce class rule by an elite minority. What is, of course, not mentioned is that the need for welfare only exists because of class rule and capitalism; and that the resources states spend on welfare ironically also originally derive from the exploitation of the working class. A MWP in state power providing greater welfare does not overturn this reality."
"ven under the Soviet Union, it was a state bureaucracy that controlled the means of production. The working class remained oppressed and exploited and under the heels of the Bolshevik-controlled state. As a matter of fact, it was the Bolshevik Party in the aftermath of the October Revolution of 1917 that created this situation: it nationalised factories that were taken over by workers, it destroyed workers’ self-management and replaced it with one-man management and it destroyed working class democracy in the Soviets. The Soviet Union, therefore, was not a socialist state, but rather a form of state capitalism – it never allowed the working class to have genuine workers’ self-management/control. If a MWP nationalised the means of production in South Africa this would not be socialism. Consequently, to call on people to form and vote for a MWP in South Africa on the basis it will nationalise the means of production runs the risk of fostering a false belief amongst the working class that nationalisation equals socialism. The reality is under nationalistion, the state would own and control factories, banks, farms and mines; not the working class. Indeed, if the working class genuinely had power and control over the means of production there would be no need for a state and nationlisation – states only exist because a few need to enforce their rule and control over the economy."
"Consequently, even where MWPs have come to gain state power and even when they have headed what many Marxists have called a workers’ state in the early days of the Soviet Union, the leadership of these parties have become a new elite. They have, therefore, either become a new ruling class outright or they have joined the existing ruling class. Indeed, even if a MWP elected to only pay its parliamentarians, top state officials, ministers and President/Prime Minister/Chairperson an average workers’ wage, they would still be rulers, they would still have power and they could still decide on policies and law and enforce those. The working class would still not have power."
"he state cannot, therefore, be used to bring about socialism nor end class rule. It is preposterous to think that by entering into top positions in the state that a MWP can bring about socialism or even constantly make gains for the working class. The centralised and hierarchical nature of all states throughout history, even so-called workers’ states, means this is not possible. States and elite rule are synonymous with one another. This means that a new MWP in South Africa, because of its tactics of centering towards the state, is not going to lead the working class to socialism and end class rule. It may change the faces of the ruling elite, but it will not get rid of the rule by an elite few."
" The orientation towards the state and electioneering carries the danger of creating illusions amongst the working class that the state can be used for liberation. This is a danger even in cases where advocates arguing for the MWP say that it should only stand in elections to expose the class nature of the current state. In such cases it is unlikely such tactics will bring the revolution closer. Indeed, why call on people to vote representatives into a state when you know it is a sham? Far from leading to people seeing the state as part of the problem, it is likely to create illusions. Consequently, it also leads to the possibility that the working class will view elections, rather than mass struggle, as a focus of their energy. Indeed, many MWPs have diverted people’s energies away from struggles, strikes and protests towards electioneering with disastrous consequences."
"The greatest threat that MWPs and their orientation to electioneering and the state (even a so-called workers state) pose is promoting the idea amongst the working class that freedom and salvation will come from above and not through its own existing organisations and struggles. Indeed, it promotes the idea that a MWP can substitute for the working class; and that if a MWP had power it would bring freedom. The reality though is liberation won’t and can’t, by definition, come from above or through substitutionalism. If socialism is to be created it will be created by the working class through its own actions, organisations and struggle and not through the state and a MWP. Indeed, only the working class can liberate itself; and given the nature of states it, by definition, can’t come though such structures."
"Another path, instead of a MWP, which the working class could go down is to rather build its own revolutionary counter-power against not only capitalism, but also the state and all forms of oppression including racism and sexism. Throughout history there have been instances where a counter-power has been built by the working class itself, including Russia during 1917, Germany in 1918, Spain in 1936 and South Africa in the early 1980s. It is, therefore, possible for the class itself – without the so-called guidance of a MWP and without a MWP taking state power – to build its own counter-power. This is perhaps a more long term project and perhaps even a harder task than building a MWP, but it is a task that the working class will have to embark upon if it is to have power in its own hands one day."
"The advantage of building a counter-power, though, is that history shows that it could be built through the organisations and movements the working class itself has already begun to create, be it community organisations, unions and worker committees. To build a counter-power the working class would, though, have to strengthen these movements and organisations and transform them into organs of working class direct democracy. They would also have to be infused with a revolutionary politics that aims not just to transform the state and capitalism, but to replace these with a new society.
To build a counter-power though does not mean ignoring the struggle for immediate gains. The working class needs better housing and a decent lifestyle today and can’t simply wait for the revolution to have the basics of life. As such the struggles for the things that are needed today to improve the lives of the working class, which includes placing demands on bosses and politicians because they have stolen from the working class, is vital. Indeed, things like corruption, repression and poor delivery can only be resolved in favour of the working class by the working class organising itself outside and against the state and placing demands on and even imposing its will on the bosses and state through mass direct action. Importantly though, it cannot also relax if the ruling class do provide such concessions. Rather, winning immediate gains has to be used as a school of struggle and immediate gains have to be used to build on towards revolution.
As part of this, the working class also needs to build towards the goal of seizing the means of production directly through its own organisations and structures; and from there socialise the means of production to meet the needs of all. It can’t rely on a MWP or state to do so; because then another power other than the working class would in fact control the means of production. History shows that the means of production can be seized directly by the class in revolutionary situations; for example in Russia in 1917 many factories were seized by the working class and were briefly run by workers’ themselves using democratic committees in order to plan production – unfortunately these were destroyed once Lenin and the Bolsheviks consolidated their so-called workers’ state.
Instead of MWPs and hoping elections or even a workers’ state might bring gains or even revolution, the working class needs to build democratic revolutionary organs and fight so that one day it can take power in society itself and run society through direct democracy without a party instructing it or a state. This can be done using federated organs of direct democracy like worker councils, community assemblies and committees to allow everyone to have an equal say in how society is run. MWPs and voting in parliamentary or municipal elections brings us no closer to building such structures of counter-power. Rather all it does is run the risk of generating further illusions in the state and it risks keeping the working class in chains far into the future. The working class has been in chains for far too long; it is time for the class itself to begin breaking those chains. Only it itself has the power to do so. "

Friday, 13 March 2015

More on Critical/Radical Psychology.

Critical/ Radical Psychology.

"Psychology is not, and cannot be, a neutral endeavour conducted by scientists and practitioners detached from social and political circumstances. It is a human and social endeavour. Psychologists live in specific social contexts. They are influenced by differing interests and complex power dynamics. Mainstream psychologists too often shy away from the resulting moral, social, and political implications."

" critical psychology is inherently value-laden, not value-free. It aims to change society just as it aims to change psychology."

"Indeed, the field of psychology itself is a mainstream social institution with negative consequences of its own. Of course, if existing institutions ensured social justice and human welfare, minor alterations to smooth out the rough edges might be good enough. In our view, however, the underlying values and institutions of modern societies (particularly but not only capitalist societies) reinforce misguided efforts to obtain fulfillment while maintaining inequality and oppression (Fox, 1985,1996Fox and Prilleltensky, 1996; Prilleltensky, 1994a). Because psychology's values, assumptions, and norms have supported society's dominant institutions since its birth as a field of study, the field's mainstream contributes to social injustice and thwarts the promotion of human welfare (Albee, 1986; Baritz, 1974; Chesler, 1989; Jacoby, 1975; Kamin, 1974; Sarason, 1981)."

The Critical Psychology Project:Transforming Societyand Transforming Psychology

Dennis Fox


Psychology Politics Resistance

"hat psychology has a prevailing ideology is taken for granted here. Seymour Sarason (1981), Nathan Caplan and Stephen Nelson (1973), Edward Sampson (1977, 1981), Rom Harré (Harré & Secord, 1972; Harré, 1980), and many others have, in recent years, convincingly pointed out a number of assumptions commonly accepted in American academic psychology, particularly in social psychology. Such assumptions cover a wide range. They include, among other things, the view that the purpose of social science is to determine causality (a positivist view) rather than to attain understanding (a phenomenological view); that the combination of experimentation and quantification is, ultimately, the only respectable scientific method; that the psychologist's focus on the individual level of analysis is more important than the more global levels examined by sociologists or anthropologists; that specialization within the field is not only necessary but preferable; that psychology has actually achieved a significant body of knowledge that is useful in bringing about improvements in society; that this increased knowledge supports a liberal rather than a conservative or radical political perspective; and that individual change rather than institutional change is the preferred focus of research. Now, all these individual points may or may not actually be correct; my primary purpose here is not to evaluate their validity but to consider some of the consequences for academic psychologists of their widespread acceptance and to speculate on prospects for achieving ideological change within our own field."

Current affairs 13/3/15 and Radical/Critical Psychiatry and Psychology.





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Psychiatry_Network - Interesting.

"A common theme running through Laingian antipsychiatry, Ingleby’s critical psychiatry, contemporary critical psychiatry and postpsychiatry is the view that social, political and cultural realities play a vital role in helping us to understand the suffering and experience of madness."

"or Bracken and Thomas, postpsychiatry represents an attempt to move beyond the dichotomies that characterised the anti-psychiatry era, and to engage constructively and positively with the concerns of service users and carers. Postpsychiatry identifies the central problem of the mental health field not necessarily in psychiatry, but in the modernist search for technical solutions to life's problems. This modernist impulse drives changes in psychiatry, psychology and nursing. It existed before the biological or DSM shift of the 1980s, and has been skillfully manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry subsequently."


"Critical psychology is a perspective on psychology that draws extensively on critical theory. Critical psychology challenges mainstream psychology and attempts to apply psychological understandings in more progressive ways, often looking towards social change as a means of preventing and treating psychopathology.
One of critical psychology's main criticisms of conventional psychology is that it fails to consider or deliberately ignores the waypower differences between social classes and groups can impact the mental and physical well-being of individuals or groups of people. It does this, in part, because it tends to explain behavior at the level of the individual."



Interesting :-  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/30/psychiatric-drugs-harm-than-good-ssri-antidepressants-benzodiazepines

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Anarchism, Psychiatry and Mental Illness in the Age of Anxiety.

The Psychological is political!

"For every diagnostic category there are dozens of aetiological theories. The major problem with most is that they tend to emphasise one domain of existence at the expense of all the others, ending up in a reductionism that does more harm than good when taken on its own. By now we know that biochemical theories of depression espoused by the pharmaceutical industry are lies designed to sell pharmacommodities. As a side-effect that policy makers, healthcare managers and other invested parties are happy to exploit, a neuropharmaceutical imaginary has taken hold that reinforces and becomes part of strategies for the responsibilisation of individuals"

"Circadian disrhythmia hypotheses of depression break explain the syncing of biorhythms to capitalist institutional rhythms. Circadian rhythms are those bodily rhythms that are regulated so as to vary throughout the day with a regular periodicity. Many core processes of the biological body are regulated by these rhythms but the most well know are the sleep-wake cycle and those surrounding temperature. Abnormalities, according to medico-normative ranges, in circadian rhythms have been connected with depression for a while now, while disturbances to sleep have been symptoms of dysphoria since before the diagnostic coding device of depression was created. "

"The circadian rhythms have two components. The endogenous component consists of regulation via an “internal body-clock” that is, in actuality, the suprachiasmatic nuclei [snc] located in the hypothalamus. This area of the brain is also responsible for locomotor activation and selected hormonal secretions. But to say that this form of regulation is “internal” or fully endogenous is misleading as the snc is stimulated via perceptual coupling to the environment following entrainment pathways that proceeding by way of photosensitive ganglion cells in the retina. In other words, there is a complex interplay- mediated by various feedforward and feedback circuits- of the eyes, the perceived object, light waves and the positions of all these in relation to one another and the movement of the perceiving body. This coupling means that there is a circulatory movement toward-into-across-out of the body and the objects of perception. Circadian rhythms as fundamental biorhythms already violate the traditional bounded picture of organisms; they are machinic and not organic. Biorhythms are an evolved biomechanical technology. "

The experience of desynchronised circadian rhythms is familiar to anyone who has ever had jet-lag or has been unemployed for a long period of time or who regularly works nightshifts. In the latter case “shift work maladaptation syndrome” has been linked to all kinds of health conditions, not least among them depression. In a fairly comprehensive review of the evidence up to the point of writing Healey and Waterman put forward what they called a shift work hypothesis of depression that states
The outlines of this would be as follows: depressive disorders are triggered by environmental disruption, that is by altered social routines and, consequently, altered zeitgebers; they involve, at their heart, disturbances that resemble jet lag and shift work, and they respond to the kind of measures that have also proved useful in the management of jet lag and shift work 1."
" Anticipating criticism about the lack of cognitive dimensions to this portrait Healy and Waterman remind their readers that not all depression come with hopelessness, guilt, and/or suicidal ideation. They also hypothesise that depressive disorders may begin with these somatic problems before the sufferer goes on to make attributions about herself that would by mantra-like repetition become self-fulfilling prophesies. I’d add that this picture would also sit well with people who develop depressions after long periods of unemployment, underemployment or enduring chronic pain. It has been documented that experiences that get diagnostically coded as depression are often experienced as aches and pains, a general physical lassitude, sluggishness 2. In Japan Western style depression didn't exist until recently. Instead the Japanese codify dysphoric experience in terms of an illness that is exclusively experienced as a bodily disturbance 3"

"If I am partly this pragmatically coupled brain-body-world then these losses are losses of my subjectivity. This circadian dysrhythmia is also and immediately a social dysrhythmia that profoundly disrupts the existential rhythm that my experience of myself is identified with. In a later article Healey returns to the question of circadian rhythms to assert that those who are persistently desynchronised from the imposed routines of everyday life are suffering from just such a dysrhythmia"

"Depression and anxiety, pathological poles of enervation, wouldn’t be what they are if the machined production of subjective experience didn’t exist. In his phenomenological work psychiatrist Thomas Fuchs has set down some of the conditions of lived depression: slowness, stiffness, heaviness, thickness of the body . This is enacted in bodily performance where the depressive body is one that moves with difficulty, its gait being one marked by all the features we expect from being weighted down- especially in those severe depressions where the sufferer is unable to lift their head, to get out of bed, to move without exhaustion"

Very interesting:-

"As I keep saying, the distinction between depression and anxiety is an economic one. The separation of depression and anxiety followed the production of pharmaceuticals that were sold on the basis of being disease-specific; but these illnesses aren’t disease, and the reality is that the creation of depression is the creation of the anti-depressant market. The same is true for anxiety. The great cynical moment of pharmaco-capitalism is that it produces the illnesses and the treatments."

sometimes explode - "Mental health nurse blogging on anti-psychiatry. Short critical introductions to key figures, events, and ideas of the past and present. Notes towards the second wave of anti-psychiatry. "

"Whatever the case, there is a general feeling that CBT isn’t a panacea that can be applied indifferently to all people in all places. My own feelings as someone who has been trained in CBT up to an introductory level, uses it in microcounselling form and sees it used every day at work, is that it fundamentally misunderstands human beings. It fails to understand how human affectivity and desire operates, and is held in thrall to a model of rationality that is both exclusionary of madness and which generalises a certain capitalist utopian ideal of homo economus, the masculine ideal of the human being who makes rational economic decisions. I have seen women who’ve had their children taken away from them by social services asked to think “how this can be seen as a positive”. I’ve seen people struggle with physiological and phenomenological drug dependencies asked to think about how appropriate their behaviour is when they dare to talk about drugs. I’ve seen schizophrenics challenged on their validity of their beliefs, allowing workers not to have to bother to try to establish any rapport or even attempt to find intelligibility to their paranoias or their voices."

"We’ve also seen how CBT is a quick, cheap method for fixing people up and sending them back to work, for getting all those unproductive bodies back into the workplace, and had hints at the continued use of CBT as self-help, allowing it to act as everyday prophylactic. Capitalism has never just been about the production of material goods, it has always tended to the production of subjectivities as well. Capitalism makes goods, yes; but it makes kind of people too. Psychology of any stripe under capitalism is one of the chief means for producing and regulating those subjectivities. Psychology tells us what our interiority consists of, and in no small part therefore shapes it, conditions it, constrains affordances and lets other blossom. CBT is no exception. It works for capitalism and the state, and, despite the benefits people do reap from it, it forms part of the new authoritarian norm."

" Serialised time is the time of regulated by imposed routines; time lived according to a regime of temporal planning. This segmentation of temporal flows is out of our control. Just as the spatial arrangement of cities is the domain of the knowledgeable practices of urban planners so are the temporal arrangements of our lives often out of our hands, confined to the management of chronocrats. "

"The rush to embody the mind, to bring the soul back down to earth, has resulted in a reductionism wherein the pragmatic coupling of brains to bodies and both to environments that are physical, historical, social, economic and political has been left out of the picture "

"Anxiety, whatever else it is, is a rhythm. It is a series of rhythms; a polyrhythm2. The “unexperienced experience” of the physiology of anxiety that subtends and determines the “experienced experience” of anxiety is thus a specific spatio-temporalising sequence that gives rise to a very definite embodied experience of time. Anxiety can be mild and fleeting. It can also be chronic and low-level, forming a kind of debilitating existential hum (as in generalised anxiety disorder), or it can rise into a terrible cacophonous explosion (as in panic attacks and phobias). Of course anxiety isn’t reducible to the physiological only, but neither is the physiological to be kept outside of the political. If we can talk about precarity inducing anxiety and depression- nervousness- then we can talk about precarity as an abstract machine for the production of nervous bodies. "

"As someone who used to suffer from regular panic attacks I can assure you that every single one “felt” like a heart attack. The production of rhythms of anxiety is the result of the conditions of precarity that all workers find themselves in following the neoliberal recomposition of labour. As such we can see this production as a specific example of a physiological intervention carried out on the social body via the productive body."

"This low-res problem is compounded by the fact that these representations are taken in clinical situations that don’t accurately simulate the complexity of everyday life, and which still require the interpretative labour of technicians and neurologists who operate with various assumptions about what it is they are interpreting. Nonetheless, we can’t simply ignore what these techniques provide us with, even if we have to be careful not to completely reduce subjectivity to its neuroelectrical correlates. "

" The suggestion is that the rhythm of the body and the neural rhythm synchronise with each other and can operate transindividually as shared rhythms. This transcorporeal rhythm- rhythm across bodies and within bodies- has come to be known as “social rhythm”. "

"I can’t advance on what the leading figure of the Italian “democratic psychiatry” movement, Franco Basaglia, said on this subject at a 1964 conference:
The loss of a scheme, the loss of the future, the state of being in the power of others without being able to direct oneself, and having one's day tuned and organised on an impersonal rhythm, dictated only by organisational demands that - such as they are - cannot take into account the single individual and particular circumstances: this is institutionalisation. This is, however, also the rhythm on which society is based. Thus, when the patient - alienated from life, suffering from the loss of relationship with others, and himself - enters the mental home, instead of finding here a place where he can free himself from the burden of others, where he can reconstruct his own personal world, he find new rules, new structures that make him lose himself still more, and push him more and more towards objectiveness, until he identifies himself with them. This is why men still fear each other, why they do not trust one another and why the consequences of madness, that are for the legislator the centre of his apprehension, overcome the value of the mentally sick patient as a man 5. "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enactivism#Philosophical_aspects - Seems pretty true to me.

"The trick is to simultaneously refuse the hopelessness these realisations bring and the coerced positive affect and trained optimism of positive psychology, while also retaining our own rage as a political affect. For this, we require new forms of therapeutic militancy and/or militant therapists. At the core of this is the need to go a level beneath the solidarity that shows up everywhere as an absence and develop its core among ourselves. The core I’m talking about is empathy, and a willingness to reappropriate the very vulnerability that the necropolitics of state and capital seek to turn into weapons against us. If they make us more vulnerable, placing us closer to corporeal harms, they do so in order to generate the phantasy of their own invulnerability. Vulnerability isn’t weakness, although it certainly exposes us to our weaknesses, but is in fact the ontological register of our radical openness to each other. I realise this is all quite abstract but I don’t want to short-circuit what a praxis of vulnerability might look like. In part, I think it will involve consciousness-raising groups, the mutual exposure of neurosocial and psychosocial wounds, the uncovering of the machinery that produces and sustains our affectivities as shared horizons, rather than individual emotional states.Groups like the Icarus Project, Mad Pride, and the Hearing Voices Network might provide models for this kind of political therapeutics. But they don’t come ready made for each situation, each locality, each body, and so have to be forged and reforged."

" In a previous post I asked what a liberatory psychopharmacology would look like but this can only be answered on an experimental basis. This might involve the reactivation of experiments with LSD and psilocybin, but it could also look like the autonomous organisation of psychopharmacological laboratories. Such laboratories could be already existing labs organised under syndicalist principles or they could be the proliferation of underground clandestine operations. "

 Unproductive bodies, part 1: narcotisation of dependency- "A schematic look at positive psychology's deployment within the UK's workfare regime and the position of the substance-dependent body as a model in the production of subjectivity. This forms the first part of a short series on positive psychology, work, and the production of unproductive bodies. "

"If Maslow’s image of self-actualisation seems like a utopianism then we have to reflect on its application today. Everything that Maslow placed under the heading of “self-actualisation” is now commodified, manipulated, and regulated by and for capitalism. Today to self-actualise is to actualise oneself within and for the market. Neoliberal capitalism actively seeks to promote self-actualisation and this is one of the points that the post-autonomia theories of immaterial labour had right: it isn’t enough to go to work, you must love your labour; it isn’t enough to make do, one must be happy. The kinds of affective labour that we are entrained into have been discussed in a number of places so I won’t dwell on them here, but suffice to say that we are all expected to manage our affectivity, our self-presentation, in such a way that we retain a positive outlook. The new entrepreneurial project of the worker-self that works on itself at all times, whether through continuous professional development, psychotherapy, diet, fashion or self-help, is first and foremost an enthusiastic self. If the spirit of capitalism was once the dour duty-orientation of the Protestant work-ethic then the new religion of work is a much more liberated and optimistic one."

"As Barbrara Ehrenreich argues,

if early capitalism was inhospitable to positive thinking, “late” capitalism, or consumer capitalism, is far more congenial, depending as it does on the individual’s hunger for more and the firm’s imperative of growth. The consumer culture encourages individuals to want more—cars, larger homes, television sets, cell phones, gadgets of all kinds—and positive thinking is ready at hand to tell them they deserve more and can have it if they really want it and are willing to make the effort to get it. Meanwhile, in a competitive business world, the companies that manufacture these goods and provide the paychecks that purchase them have no alternative but to grow. If you don’t steadily increase market share and profits, you risk being driven out of business or swallowed by a larger enterprise. Perpetual growth, whether of a particular company or an entire economy, is of course an absurdity, but positive thinking makes it seem possible, if not ordained "
"Part of this problem is the inability to separate out authentic and inauthentic feels, affects and displays. As authenticity is never spontaneous and always belongs to a shared history of learning how to feel, dwelling within affects, and being brought into the semiology of display, it produces the distinction and subsequent confusion around authenticity and inauthenticity"
The questionnaire is a psychometric tool to used to measure motivation in individuals. There is very little dispute about the structural problems that lead to substance misuse but MI and readiness to change eschew those problems in order to shift the burden onto the individual. MI does this in a particularly non-confrontational style. This helps develop the therapeutic alliance but it does so by reducing the client's "resistance". This is important not only because it eases the inducement of self-government but also because it neutralises working class subjects ahead of time. Its for this reason that psychometrics like these are used with those exploited via workfare"

"The substance-dependent body must be recodified as an irresponsible body that has failed to understand itself, its own resources, and its own responsibilities. The substance-dependent body is thus codified ambivalently as both diseased or sick (“addict”) and as a moral failure. At essence, MI embodies the same kind of power that Foucault described as the pastoral power of the confessional: it seeks its subject to produce itself via the production of verbal signs that described its essence. "

"In contemporary capitalism, the dominant reactive affect is anxiety."

" In response to the greatest trauma on the American psyche in recent history the response was an increase in a fervent nationalism, increased intolerance of dissent, more hostility and violence towards people who are different, a desire for revenge and a need to find heroes (whether they be American soldiers going out for revenege, or the firefighters at the scene of the devastation), as well as a desire to help in the cause. In a chapter for a (hopefully) forthcoming book I've written on how capital and governments like to expose us to anxiogenic conditions, to expose us to our vulnerability, in order to illicit precisely these effects. This is the necropolitical side of biopolitics and to my mind it is this that current strategies of the decomposition of labour aim at: the capture, intensification and even production of anxiety. "

" This is compounded by the demand that we self-objectify from the outset, everything about us being reducible to its use and attractiveness to an employer, the "CVisation of life", the making of oneself into a particular brand, with the self-management involved in our behaviours, choices, and speech, and the constant coupling of existence to a deluge of different (economic; psychometic; sexual) measures of performance. "

" Consider the massive increase in diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. Setting questions of the degree of diagnostic fashions to one side, isn't a disorder that describes someone with a crippling fear of being judged or evaluated in social settings exactly what you would expect given the conditions? When you're expected to be creative, to market yourself, to CVise your life, when this is the new conformity, social anxiety is both pathological and protective. Likewise, consider the rise in OCD diagnoses. In OCD people perform ritualistic behaviours (compulsions) in order to stave of vague feelings of impending dread (obsessions). These behaviours range widely from performing actions a given number of times to changing clothing to driving miles past your house. In the case of Yayoi Kusama it involves painting dots, as with the image at the top of this post. This disorder is incredibly debilitating but seems to be fiar play for bad taste jokes and all that crap. What really is so strange about OCD? What it describes is people who are acutely attuned to their anxiety attempting to enact safety behaviours to alleviate that anxiety. In these cases it becomes stunning clear that psychopathology- madness- is the new condition of alienation. "

"Precarity is a machine for anxiety; austerity is a machine for making-vulnerable; psychopathology is the machinery of alienation."

"The society of stimulation seeks to produce bodies that are capable of working all the time, whenever, as perfectly flexible neurochemical and biophysical agents. It plug us into speeds and volumes of information and data that we can't possibly attend to, sort, store, decide on and so on. Our nervous systems just can't handle it. As physiological units we live in an environment that is more complex than that which we evolved for: the primordial Savannah; plus the urban environment, with its militarised facades and police presences, its attention-demanding neon signs, music, ringtones, a cacophonous rhythm that disrupts our own biorhythms, as do the work patterns and the stresses we're expected to endure; plus the infosphere being delivered by hand held devices, head mounted eye wear, delivering us more data, more news, and news as it happens, that we are demanding to have a response to. The news itself is involved in producing affective states, making us fearful, and does so in such a manner as to make sure we don't have time to think"

"If the first wave provided a machine for fighting misery, and the second wave a machine for fighting boredom, what we now need is a machine for fighting anxiety – and this is something we do not yet have. If we see from within anxiety, we haven’t yet performed the “reversal of perspective” as the Situationists called it – seeing from the standpoint of desire instead of power. Today’s main forms of resistance still arise from the struggle against boredom, and, since boredom’s replacement by anxiety, have ceased to be effective.
Current militant resistance does not and cannot combat anxiety. It often involves deliberate exposure to high-anxiety situations. Insurrectionists overcome anxiety by turning negative affects into anger, and acting on this anger through a projectile affect of attack. In many ways, this provides an alternative to anxiety. However, it is difficult for people to pass from anxiety to anger, and it is easy for people to be pushed back the other way, due to trauma. We’ve noticed a certain tendency for insurrectionists to refuse to take seriously the existence of psychological barriers to militant action. Their response tends to be, “Just do it!” But anxiety is a real, material force – not simply a spook. To be sure, its sources are often rooted in spooks, but the question of overcoming the grip of a spook is rarely as simple as consciously rejecting it. There’s a whole series of psychological blockages underlying the spook’s illusory power, which is ultimately an effect of reactive affect. Saying “Just do it” is like saying to someone with a broken leg, “Just walk!”"

"To my mind radicals are exposed to necropolitical manipulation and strategies of stimulation just as much as everyone else. What radicals also face that others don't is that additional level of surveillance and precarity that comes from "being a known face" and receiving ludicrous bail conditions, and the other examples that Plan C discuss. The other thing that radicals face, possibly more than other people, although maybe not, is a visceral experience of the Kafkaesque distributions of power and responsibility through the networks that composed the structures of late capitalism. "

"This became the bedrock of the learned helplessness theory of depression. With the depressed individual, the theory runs, it is possible to suppose that the loss of a job or a relationship can lay in a profound course towards despair. If the person experiences a series of "negative life events" then they become depressed: they learn that everything is shit and there is nothing to be done about it. We need ways to come out of this learned helplessness. I think at least part of this means being humble, starting small, just learning to reactivate struggle, rather than hoping for revolution in five minutes. We have to be pragmatic in this regard: to learn how to fight again. "

" Rather than say we're all anxious, although I think we absolutely are, I would say we are all nervous. This might seem a small point to make but consider the treatments, the meanings, and the political mobilisations surrounding anxiety and depression. Also consider that "nervousness" was always understood immediately by laypeople outside of psychiatry. "Nerves" sounds unscientific, a bit silly, but it is actually part of a language that medicine had to obliterate in order to become the sanctioned discourse of pathologies of experience. The hegemonic affectivity today is nervousness: the co-mingling of depression and anxiety, experiences that almost always appear together anyway and which were really finally separated by the need to produce commodity markets. "

"A lot of people don't like that I've attached this blog to the history of antipsychiatry and that I talk about a second wave of antipsychiatry. All that is finished with. It went too far. It was immature. It was dangerous. Antipsychiatry was always about writing. The radical experiments in with psychiatry- experiments that we could undoubtedly learn from in political struggle- were never attempts to negate care for mentally ill people. And the idea that antipsychiatry was obscene, dangerous and all the rest is one echoes by a psychiatry that has absorbed its theory, minus the radical core. The same thing is said about communism, isn't it?"

"A popular unconscious admission today: keep calm and carry on. Keep calm: This is how the open secret of anxiety, of nerves, and the injunction to destimulate is expressed today. Even our despair is sold back to us; even the recovery of our nervous systems. Carry on: stay in the holding pattern of your safety behaviours, don't go too far, don't go astray. The denial of anxiety and the denial of communism displaced and compressed into one compact knotted slogan.At the moment I'm working with others to create an online space for a new militant mental health movement, and to set up something similar to the Institute for Precarious Consciousness. If there are still those who doubt the importance of these kinds of projects, they might want to consider the fate of Seligman's dogs: keep calm, get electrocuted. "

Thomas Szasz and the antipsychiatry of neoliberalism

"The meaning of the claim that mental illness is a myth or metaphorical story has been much discussed and is often misunderstood. Szasz is not claiming that the "schizophrenic" experience isn't real but that the idea that this experience is an illness to be understood as a biological disease is false, unless we take it metaphorically"

"Despite the radicalism of his critique, Szasz thus thoroughly accords with that aspect of the person-centred approach to therapy that acts as if there were no wider social, economic or political context or causes of mental distress"

"Szasz believes the strength of psychotherapy lies in its ability to individualise the individual and expand her realm of person autonomy without ever having to address capitalism or the state. By acting as if these things didn't exist, Szasz merely reproduces the psychiatry he is so averse to but in place of psychiatric power he would install psychotherapeutic power"

"My contention would be that it is not the abuse of psychiatric power that is problematic, as Szasz thinks, but that psychiatric power is always abusive, and that it often deployed especially to target particular populations (homosexuals, women, PoC). "

"This individualism would be completed by the 'pharmacological autonomy' of a free market in drugs in which the patient would become the consumer free to consume any number of medications to "treat" any number of psychic maladies (Szasz 1992a; 1992b). Again, Szasz's vision is already with us in most high GDP countries, especially in the US where drug companies can advertise direct-to-consumers. Szasz's abolition of enforced psychiatry amounts to little more than the kind of deregulation that has characterised neoliberalism carried into the realm of mental health service provision. A combination of individualism, moralism and faith in market capitalism- and its material root in private property- which he declares as 'a beacon that lights the way for persons and social cooperation' (Szasz 1992, p.2), sounding like a so-called "anarcho-capitalist" or, in other words, a capitalist. "

To draw this together, I think this shows that a renewed anti-psychiatry that was anarchist could take a lot from Szasz's critique in also viewing the disease-model of mental distress as spurious and as a justification for the exercise of power and processes of normalisation. As communist it would need to reject Szasz's emphasis on individualism and take account of the common production of mental distress and how it relates to capitalism. The two-person therapy model would also need to be rejected as it embraces the idea that therapeutic change is necessarily divorced from social change. As anarchist, it would accept concerns about involuntary treatment, medical cognitive authority and extra-legal power of detention and restraint without fetishing consent and choice as the only important considerations. Szasz's insistence on choosing to believe in psychiatry is akin to the false choice of deciding between political parties or consumer products, especially given his defence of a free market for psychiatric drugs.

"Finally, an anarchist anti-psychiatry would need to make clear that while psychiatric reform is welcome and can only be a good thing for people exposed to its services, the idea that people experiencing extreme states of consciousness should be subjected to criminalisation is extremely dangerous, damaging, remarkably statist and in no way liberatory. Szasz talks about separation of psychiatry from the state and in the spirit of a neoliberal capitalist psychiatry whereas we should argue for the supersession of capital, the state and psychiatry."

These specialists seek to persuade us that our troubles stem, not from the world in which we live, but from our lack of insight into ourselves and from our failure to take responsibility for what we think, feel, and do.
- Paul Moloney, The Therapy Industry

"If CBT attempted to depoliticise suffering by making it an issue of individual self-management, and if that self-management was in fact little more than the entrepreneurial production of brand subjectivations, then the third wave therapies go even further by refusing all valuations in the here-and-now (although ACT has a values-work component, its questionable whether orthodox therapists would agree with "destroy capitalism" as a life-value). "

"In the latest edition of the Occupied Times Joanna Moncrieff provides us with a possible new slogan for a repetition of antipsychiatry: "the psychological is political". I'm happy to agree with that slogan as long as it is recognised that "the psychological" is itself a product of forces of subjective deprivation and immaterialisation. "

"To end on a note of caution: there is obviously always the need for survival. I would not advocate starvation in order to avoid being implicated in the cartography of capitalist agriculture, production and distribution chains. Likewise, there is a need for what we might call, admitting the poverty of our language, "psychological survival". In many ways the third wave represents therapeutic advances on traditional CBT, and CBT does work for a lot of people- whether it is because of the "Dodo bird verdict" or the value of specific tools. But to reiterate Guattari one last time, part of the problem of CBT is not whether it works (it seems to work as a short-term "sticking plaster")... but that it works too well! "


"None of which is to claim that the experience of mental distress isn’t biologically mediated. We are bodies and our experience is embodied- there is no “mind” floating independently of our physiology. At the same time though, psychiatry remains unwilling to accept that our embodiment exists in complex ecological relationships that includes our sociality."

"Similarly, none of this is to claim that the original critiques of the anti-psychiatrists were unproblematic. For instance, Szasz’s critique was motivated by his right-wing libertarian philosophy and included the desire to see people stand trial for acts they committed while experiencing distress, acts they may not otherwise have performed."

"Foucault’s position in some of his work seems to embrace a kind of romanticism of mental distress, while Laing expressed some dubious ideas about “schizophrenia” as a shamanic journey of self-discovery. Many of the anti-psychiatrists also rejected the benefits of therapy and medication as if these were evil in-itself, in a move that would remind many anarchists of primitivism’s rejection of technology."

"Clinical psychologist Richard Bentall has (not unproblematically) heralded the need for a new ‘rational anti-psychiatry’ while people like Pat Bracken are spear heading a ‘critical psychiatry’. Yet without linking this to thorough analyses of the relationship of mental health and psychiatry to corrosive powers of capitalism and the state such a renewed anti-psychiatry is pointless. The critique has been swallowed whole by the system and turned into the justification for today’s aggressive colonisation of our lives by that very system."


"The pharmaceutical industry (not “big pharma”) is an industry, which is to say no more or less than that it is a section of capital. For pharmaceutical capitalism to continue accumulating profit it must have an audience to sell its products to and it has that in the form of psychiatry, itself a wing of state power that has a captive market who can be legally compelled to take their medication. Psychopharmacology and psychiatry have been entwined since psychiatry’s birth, and even in the heydays of psychoanalytic psychiatry in the USA benzodiazapines were still regularly prescribed."

In separating actually existing psychiatry from “big pharma”, and in separating “big pharma” from capitalism and the interests of a particular class protected by state power, Will Self’s analysis effectively decouples his critique from any economic or political implications. What we are left with is a weak moralism that he himself even calls ‘ lily-livered liberal’, that also misrepresents certain aspects of the history of the two disciplines. This moralism is born out in Self’s comparison of psychiatrists as “drug-pushers” where it is clear that we’re supposed to read “drug-pusher” as a good go-to caricature of a bad person. This moralism of the psychiatrist as unscrupulous bastard getting kids hooked on downers is conjoined to the weak assertion that ‘we are all to blame’. Our responsibility, according to Self, comes from the fact that we are
‘absolutely bloody miserable, we can’t get up in the morning, we are dirty and unkempt, and we go along to our GP and are prescribed an antidepressant and lo and behold we recover.
For Self, the bad dealer-man gives us misery guts a pill and we feel better and therefore “we” are to blame for having been miserable and/or for the ‘chemical repression of the psychotic’ (it isn’t clear which). This complete obliteration of a perspective willing to recognise, analyse and critique the structural causes and consequences of psychopharmacological psychiatric treatment completely mirrors the prevailing ideology under which that structure justified itself (the same problem is found in the second half of Soderbergh’s recent film, Side Effects). Presumably this morality also extends to the parents of children, or the children themselves, who are desperate to find some way to ameliorate the incredibly stressful situation that hyperactivity can cause. It is also telling that people who experience psychotic phenomena are given only fleeting mentions in the article, as if concern over psychiatric power is really only important when it concerns the middle class readership of the Guardian. People diagnosed with psychotic illness tend to be either live in poverty at onset or to drift into poverty as a result and Self only real reflection on economic position seems is his correct reference to ‘socio-medical discrimination: no sick note – and no social benefits’, although he leaves out any reference to the fact that today many people who should not be working are having their welfare revoked and forced back to work."


"Yet another explanation for the epidemic may also be evolving from radical to mainstream, thanks primarily to the efforts of investigative journalist Robert Whitaker and his book Anatomy of An Epidemic (2010). Whitaker argues that the adverse effects of psychiatric medications are the primary cause of the epidemic. He reports that these drugs, for many patients, cause episodic and moderate emotional and behavioral problems to become severe, chronic and disabling ones"

Underlying many of psychiatry’s nearly 400 diagnoses is the experience of helplessness, hopelessness, passivity, boredom, fear, isolation, and dehumanization—culminating in a loss of autonomy and community-connectedness. Do our societal institutions promote:
Enthusiasm—or passivity?
Respectful personal relationships—or manipulative impersonal ones?
Community, trust, and confidence—or isolation, fear and paranoia?
Empowerment—or helplessness?
Autonomy (self-direction)—or heteronomy (institutional-direction)?
Participatory democracy—or authoritarian hierarchies?
Diversity and stimulation—or homogeneity and boredom?"


"But criticising the NHS while the government is undermining it and selling it off is a dangerous move, but not one we can never make. It wasn’t long before those of us using the #failedbytheNHS hashtag were politely informed that we hadn’t been failed by the NHS, we’d been failed by budget cuts, a point that I thought barely needed raising, and one that the programme itself made pretty clear. We were also reminded that NHS workers themselves were not to blame, that some people have good experiences of the NHS, that some NHS staff are fantastic on mental health issues, and that while the NHS may not be perfect, it’s better than privatised healthcare. All valid points, none of which I’d disagree with, nor would most of the mental health service users whose blogs and tweets I’m familiar with. The implication being that the programme and the hashtag and the vocal criticisms of the NHS are all lending legitimacy to the destruction and privatisation of the NHS, which of course will exist for as long as there are people left to fight for it etc etc. And soon enough, #savedbytheNHS appeared, with heartwarming stories of NHS doing its job well. "

"So we end up with a really frustrating and immobilising false dichotomy, where you can either get behind the NHS 100%, or you’re more or less an unwitting propagandist for neocon privatisation. There is no room, it seems, for those who have undeniably been failed by the NHS to speak out, group together, and imagine models of mental health care that actually work. That would be divisive, it’d be giving points to the opposition, it’d undermine the movement, we’ll deal with that after the revolution. Sound familiar?1"




http://www.dennisfox.net/- Dennis Fox Critical Psychology and anarchist.