[Marxism] RE: Psychiatry: Proyect's nurse friend..

g.maclennan at qut.edu.au g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Fri May 7 17:10:56 MDT 2004

The tone of David's contribution is exactly why I have posted 
once and then stayed out of the thread, and moreover it is 
why I have always found the subject of mental illness 
unbroachable on a mailing list.

Something seems to happen to reasonable people like David and 
they become incredibly offensive. He doesn’t even seem to 
meditate for even a few minutes on why Lou posts on this 
issue and says what he does.

I have found that it is generally impossible to achieve a 
dialogue in these circumstances and the threads usually 
degenerate into name-calling and abuse.

Those of us who either use medications or help or encourage 
others to do so are constructed in some way as pro-
capitalist, and torturers of the inspired ones. That 
corresponds not at all to our experience of ailments such as 
schizophrenia. So I have increasingly come to believe that 
such views are a residue of libertarian thought, of the 
irrational moment that has lodged within the research program 
of Science.

Of course libertarian thought does have its element of 
truth.  If for instance we examine the history of lobotomy, 
and I have read the literature, this was an unspeakable 
practice performed in some instances with an ice pick rammed 
up the nose and then rotated. Libertarians have rightly 
condemned such practices and we are all deeply in their debt.

But there is a weakness in libertarian thought and we can see 
it in areas such as the opposition to compulsory unionism, 
state provided schooling, and the treatment of the mentally 

Here in Brisbane in the West End we see people with 
schizophrenia wandering the streets.  They are out of their 
mind and they are in agony.  Anyone who doubts that has no 
experience at all of schizophrenia. From a libertarian point 
of view though their rights are intact.

Despite all the invective of libertarians, anarchists, and 
dreamers of pre-modernist utopias, medical science does make 
progress.  The use of drugs to control schizophrenic symptoms 
is one of the truly great moments in that progress. 
Scientologists like Breggin can rave all they like about 
that, but all he in particular has to offer is the hope that 
in 20 years the hormonal balance will have altered 
sufficiently to dampen down the symptoms.

If one thinks of the world of the mentally ill before 
medication, then a clear pattern emerges.  Typically the 
patient falls ill at 19 in the case of males, later in the 
case of females.  Fear and grief combine to encourage a 
denial of what is happening to the one with the illness.  As 
this is a mental illness, by very definition he or she is the 
last to know they are ill.  But then the crisis deepens and 
the patient is usually taken to a hospital and they stay 
there.  Relatives and friends rush to make a visit.  But 
youthful friends are terrified and they do not come back.  
Family relatives hang on longer.  The parents are the last to 
give up.  But then they die and other members of the family 
feel guilty but only come to visit occasionally. 

That was the way it was.  The pattern was interrupted of 
course by phenomena such as suicide. But that was the way it 
was before medication.

Now of course as I know what I am talking about I realise 
that the picture is far from a rosy one. Schizophrenia is far 
from being the good news. But for those who read this and 
either become ill with schizophrenia themselves or have a 
friend or a family member who develops the illness then you 
must try and find the right medication.

In a majority of cases a medication can now be found that 
will control the symptoms and enable other elements of 
support to be built in so the patient can lead a decent life.

What of a cure?  I am on the www.schizophrenia.com website, 
and there is definite hope mainly it would seem at this stage 
of prevention. 

Now I have stayed away in my post from phenomena such as 
Attention Deficit Disorder.  Here I am inclined to agree with 
David. Nor have I mentioned depression. Perhaps I should have 
being a sufferer myself.  But my primary concern is with 
schizophrenia and the education of those whose lives it 



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