A handful of people associated with the Alternatives Conference, a big nationwide nut fest, funded by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the national mental health agency, have produced a history of what they are calling the consumer/survivor movement. This history itself represents something of a cover-up, after all, you can’t make an 360 degree turn without raising a few eye brows. We know, given conflict of interest, there is much corruption in psychiatry. Apparently, following the trickle down theory, much corruption now exists among their “patient” following as well.
Let’s get a few things straight first. The movement that existed up until the government buy out of 1985 was a different movement. 1985 was the year of the last Conference on Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression, and the first Alternatives Conference. The question of who surrendered, and what, is still with us today. Prior to 1985 though you had a movement that wasn’t motivated by a demand for government (i.e. tax payer) money. The idea before 1985 was to liberate people from psychiatric oppression, the idea after 1985 was to take home a government pay check.
Now what happened to the movement that existed before the government buy out? Some of it is still with us, and some of it has been bought out. The philosophy at work here seems to be, on the government’s part, use cash to co-opt, on the consumer/survivors part, ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’ Either that, or somebody had the lame idea that our struggles were over, and we’d won the war so-to-speak. Corruption, in my book though, just doesn’t equal winning. The lines are much more blurred now. Especially as what was a resistance struggle back then has become something of an insistence struggle in more recent times.
Despite talk of recovery, sometimes complete recovery, you see this most emphatically in the idea that federal subsidies represent entitlements. Recovery has ceased to mean not consuming mental health services, and recovery has come to be synonymous with treatment. Many people in the mental health system now are expected to be “in recovery” for life. Some of these people are being employed as paraprofessional mental health workers in the mental health system simply for being further along in their recovery than others. Perhaps they’ve got a survival technique perfected, but this survival technique has a way of facilitating unlimited growth in mental health services.
Unlimited growth in mental health services is bad for mental health. Where you’ve got unlimited growth in mental health services, you’ve got an epidemic in mental illness. Mental illness itself though is mostly fiction. Talk of bio-markers by researchers, theory aside, is generally directed towards coming up with another ineffectual quick fix. Minds don’t have bio-markers. Psychiatry has us envisioning a future in which a big proportion of the human population spends much of their time wallowing in therapy. Psychiatry, as a profession grows, and the patient population grows, because it is in psychiatrists’ best financial interest to maintain a thriving industry.
One is not going to make much headway in the process of mental health, as opposed to the field, by flattering psychiatrists. The illness itself is social. Perverted relations have a way of engendering perverted relations, and nowhere else on earth do you have the kind of perverted relations that you get in the mental health field. This situation exists because the mental health field isn’t actually a mental health field, it’s a mental illness field. In order for it to become a mental health field, patients, on a large scale, have to cease being patients. For this to happen, you’d have to restore the economy and industry that have been devastated by the interests of a corporate elite for the majority of human beings. Instead, we have “mental illness”.