Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem- We are increasingly marketing drugs that essentially “cure” anti-authoritarians. – AlterNet / By Bruce E. Levine – February 20, 2012 |
In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.
Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness
Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance with authorities, even those authorities one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.
I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.
In graduate school, I discovered that all it took to be labeled as having “issues with authority” was not kissing up to a director of clinical training whose personality was a combination of Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich and Howard Cosell. When I was told by some faculty that I had “issues with authority,” I had mixed feelings about being so labeled. On the one hand, I found it amusing, because among the working-class kids I had grown up with, I was considered relatively compliant with authorities. After all, I had done my homework, studied and received good grades. However, while my new “issues with authority” label made me grin because I was now being seen as a “bad boy,” I was also concerned about just what kind of profession I had entered. Specifically, if somebody such as myself was labeled as having “issues with authority,” what were they calling the kids I grew up with who paid attention to many things that they cared about but didn’t care enough about school to comply there? Well, the answer soon became clear.
Mental Illness Diagnoses for Anti-Authoritarians
A 2009 Psychiatric Times article titled “ADHD & ODD: Confronting the Challenges of Disruptive Behavior” reports that “disruptive disorders,” which include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and opposition defiant disorder (ODD), are the most common mental health problem of children and teenagers. ADHD is defined by poor attention and distractibility, poor self-control and impulsivity, and hyperactivity. ODD is defined as a “a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior without the more serious violations of the basic rights of others that are seen in conduct disorder”; and ODD symptoms include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.”
Psychologist Russell Barkley, one of mainstream mental health’s leading authorities on ADHD, says that those afflicted with ADHD have deficits in what he calls “rule-governed behavior,” as they are less responsive to rules of established authorities and less sensitive to positive or negative consequences. ODD young people, according to mainstream mental health authorities, also have these so-called deficits in rule-governed behavior, and so it is extremely common for young people to have a “dual diagnosis” of AHDH and ODD.
Do we really want to diagnose and medicate everyone with “deficits in rule-governed behavior”?
Albert Einstein, as a youth, would have likely received an ADHD diagnosis, and maybe an ODD one as well. Albert didn’t pay attention to his teachers, failed his college entrance examinations twice, and had difficulty holding jobs. However, Einstein biographer Ronald Clark (Einstein: The Life and Times) asserts that Albert’s problems did not stem from attention deficits but rather from his hatred of authoritarian, Prussian discipline in his schools. Einstein said, “The teachers in the elementary school appeared to me like sergeants and in the Gymnasium the teachers were like lieutenants.” At age 13, Einstein read Kant’s difficult Critique of Pure Reason—because he was interested in it. Clark also tells us Einstein refused to prepare himself for his college admissions as a rebellion against his father’s “unbearable” path of a “practical profession.” After he did enter college, one professor told Einstein, “You have one fault; one can’t tell you anything.” The very characteristics of Einstein that upset authorities so much were exactly the ones that allowed him to excel.
By today’s standards, Saul Alinsky, the legendary organizer and author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would have certainly been diagnosed with one or more disruptive disorders. Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said, “I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.” Alinsky also recalls a time when he was 10 or 11 and his rabbi was tutoring him in Hebrew:
One particular day I read three pages in a row without any errors in pronunciation, and suddenly a penny fell onto the Bible….Then the next day the rabbi turned up and he told me to start reading. And I wouldn’t; I just sat there in silence, refusing to read. He asked me why I was so quiet, and I said, “This time it’s a nickel or nothing.” He threw back his arm and slammed me across the room.
Many people with severe anxiety and/or depression are also anti-authoritarians. Often a major pain of their lives that fuels their anxiety and/or depression is fear that their contempt for illegitimate authorities will cause them to be financially and socially marginalized, but they fear that compliance with such illegitimate authorities will cause them existential death.
I have also spent a great deal of time with people who had at one time in their lives had thoughts and behavior that were so bizarre they were extremely frightening for their families and even themselves; they were diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychoses, but have fully recovered and have been, for many years, leading productive lives. Among this population, I have not met one person whom I would not consider a major anti-authoritarian. Once recovered, they have learned to channel their anti-authoritarianism into more constructive political ends, including reforming mental health treatment.
Many anti-authoritarians who earlier in their lives were diagnosed with mental illness tell me that once they were labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis, they got caught in a dilemma. Authoritarians, by definition, demand unquestioning obedience, and so any resistance to their diagnosis and treatment created enormous anxiety for authoritarian mental health professionals; and professionals, feeling out of control, labeled them “noncompliant with treatment,” increased the severity of their diagnosis, and jacked up their medications. This was enraging for these anti-authoritarians, sometimes so much so that they reacted in ways that made them appear even more frightening to their families.
There are anti-authoritarians who use psychiatric drugs to help them function, but they often reject psychiatric authorities’ explanations for why they have difficulty functioning. So, for example, they may take Adderall (an amphetamine prescribed for ADHD), but they know that their attentional problem is not a result of a biochemical brain imbalance but rather caused by a boring job. And similarly, many anti-authoritarians in highly stressful environments will occasionally take prescribed benzodiazepines such as Xanax even though they believe it would be safer to occasionally use marijuana but can’t because of drug testing on their job.
It has been my experience that many anti-authoritarians labeled with psychiatric diagnoses usually don’t reject all authorities, simply those they’ve assessed to be illegitimate ones, which just happens to be a great deal of society’s authorities.
Maintaining the Societal Status Quo
Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society?
The reality is that depression is highly associated with societal and financial pains. One is much more likely to be depressed if one is unemployed, underemployed, on public assistance, or in debt (for documentation, see “400% Rise in Anti-Depressant Pill Use”). And ADHD-labeled kids do pay attention when they are getting paid, or when an activity is novel, interests them, or is chosen by them (documented in my book Commonsense Rebellion).
In an earlier dark age, authoritarian monarchies partnered with authoritarian religious institutions. When the world exited from this dark age and entered the Enlightenment, there was a burst of energy. Much of this revitalization had to do with risking skepticism about authoritarian and corrupt institutions and regaining confidence in one’s own mind. We are now in another dark age, only the institutions have changed. Americans desperately need anti-authoritarians to question, challenge, and resist new illegitimate authorities and regain confidence in their own common sense.
In every generation there will be authoritarians and anti-authoritarians. While it is unusual in American history for anti-authoritarians to take the kind of effective action that inspires others to successfully revolt, every once in a while a Tom Paine, Crazy Horse or Malcolm X come along. So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”
Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite (Chelsea Green, 2011).
The Nightshade Nightmares of the Monsters among Us. – Friday, February 24, 2012
Weird and seriously weird, appear to be the order of the day, these days. A few days ago, I noticed that Spring was here. That’s something I have always been able to sense. Several days later, it is obvious that Spring has arrived. It comes earlier in this part of Europe than most anywhere else, except the far south. This is only tangentially connected to my point; those change in seasons. It doesn’t matter that it is Spring. It could be any season. It is the change factor that is important.
Last night, I am sitting in my office, watching a movie with someone and I started getting hit with an amplified version of what I have been experiencing for a couple of months now. It was unpleasant and powerful. I took certain steps to tone it down and that worked, for awhile. I went to bed and could not sleep. In a little while this ‘attack’; I don’t know what else to call it, ratcheted up significantly. My whole body felt waves of force moving over it, like highly amplified chicken-skin, rolling over me like ocean waves. I asked for help from my invisible guardians and found myself moving my hands in unknown gestures and speaking out in an unfamiliar tongue; certainly not any of the commonly used languages of the day. This served to intensify the experience and I was told this was supposed to happen. Shortly after, most of the phenomena went away but sleep was out of the question.
After dawn had come up, I fell into uneasy dreams. The main feature was Macaroni and cheese casserole and there was a deep and powerful meaning to it (like I said, weird). I don’t think I’ve had a Macaroni and cheese casserole in years. I can’t remember the details now but I do remember that they made plenty of sense. I will be cooking one for lunch today (grin). I didn’t have any fear, while this event was taking place last night. It was just a state of discomfort, with me faced off against and confronting an unknown force. It is the same kind of thing as when we are focused on using force and concentration to accomplish a complicated and technical effort. There’s a deep assurance I have in the agencies that protect me; from myself and other things external. They tend to get me thru everything, even if the ride can be a little bumpy. Enough of that. I put this out only because I am hearing from many people about similar things. This morning I received an email from a friend who was concerned about me and who wanted me to send him a ‘smoke signal’ because he was worried about me, based on something he must have been feeling. Odd, that. Like I said, enough about all that for the moment. Let’s look at what’s going on in the world around us.
Once again, the general insanity generated by materialism, is acting up. The rank and file of humanity is certifiable. Do not get between these people and whatever it is that they want. One of the cosmic laws is ‘the more mundane and stupid any collective attraction may be, the more likely people will be inclined to kill you for it.
Another law is that the more laws that are created to protect children, the more children will be abused, tortured and killed as a result, especially if it is in Florida or California. Mickey Mouse and the gang definitely fit into all of it. California is really out there when it comes to this. It is beyond debate that California judges, state social workers and other facilitators are engaged in Satanic, child abuse rituals and in making sure that children are placed in, or returned to truly terrible conditions, where they can be harmed and tormented for extended periods of time. I have listed very little of what I have come across and using a major search engine will turn up more information than you could read and absorb in a very long time. A few months ago, more or less, there was an article that listed case after case, after case in California, where the courts were returning large numbers of children to abusive situations, when a sane and caring parent was available to receive them. In case after case, the courts returned these children into the hands of monsters, who already had a history of violating them and turned a deaf ear to the good parent; often the parent who had brought it to their attention in the first place and who was backed up by the testimony of the children and corroborating medical evidence.
Over the course of recent decades, the corrupt system of appointing the very people engaged in the crimes they are appointed, or hired to prevent, has accelerated beyond all reason. It is obvious at this point that the officials put in charge of hiring and appointing, are picking individuals with a pathological mindset for the very worst behaviors in this diseased age. Whether it is DHS, TSA, Child Protection Services, or any of the gamut of bloated and useless government agencies, they are specifically hiring criminals, perverts, troglodytes, serial sexual psychopaths and serial killers, for the very reason that they are what they are. There is no hyperbole or exaggeration here. That is how it is.
A couple of years ago, while remote viewing Obama and others of recent infamy, I saw things I don’t even want to talk about. Under certain circumstances, remote viewing is as easy as daydreaming.
Does this mean we are on a terrifying downward spiral, into an abyss of accelerating degeneracy and dysfunction, with no end in sight? No it does not. What it means is that the boundaries are being pushed to ever increasing levels of insanity, until a cosmic global reaction takes place. Portions of this are taking place at this very moment. That portion of the awakening populations are pushing back and will soon be joined by a much larger mass of their fellows, as conditions make their lives more and more unlivable and more and more dire. It is a matter of time and we are in that time frame.
Rampant materialism and the emergence of organized psychopaths and sociopaths, who flourish in this environment, are oppressing and abusing humanity, until it reaches its breaking point. The cultures of the world are being soaked in a belladonna/nightshade nightmare. Ugly things from the depth of the cosmic ooze, are surfacing like creatures from a Lovecraft novel. Those on the cutting edge of exposing these energies, conspiracies and environments, are being pounded by both visible and invisible means. It’s a hard road for those on the forefront but there is no other road that is acceptable.
These twisted abortions from the dark side of the human psyche, know that their time is coming. They cannot change and they cannot go back, so they press on in the pursuit of the destruction of all that is good and beautiful. They press on in search of ever greater violations, of innocence and every residence where the finer qualities of the human heart, are barricaded and in hiding from their pernicious advance. There is no way to put a better spin on it at this time. One can only endure and hold tight to the inevitable certainty of their demise. It is in times of trial that those hidden strengths and enduring virtues, within the human matrix, are driven forth into heroic expression out of the desperation of the times.
We have been here before. This planet is a battleground, where all that is good and enduring must come up against the temporary monstrosities, created out of our confusions and weaknesses. It is because so many of us are in a state of convenient blindness, born from self interest, that these creatures can go about their dreadful enterprises.
These fiends are worse than we know and they will never be satisfied, until the entire Earth is one big concentration camp and killing floor. They delight in the misery they bring about. They do evil for the sheer joy of it. They take an extreme pleasure in outrage and torment. They have developed a taste for it and there is no reason, rationale or restraining emotion that can be applied in any argument that will have any success, in causing them to cease and desist. They are monsters. They have forfeited every human quality, in order to be what they are. They are beyond reach of anything but the urgings and appetites of the infernal realms.
I hate to say these things. It is my nature to paint a brighter picture and to draw attention to the temporary time-line of this egregious period but it is what it is and all the promise of what is bright and beautiful and which lies ahead, does not change the conditions and concerns of the moment.
I face each day with renewed hope and faith in our finer nature, rising triumphant above the murk into a better world. I see evidence of it all around me in the basic human decency of those who soldier on through this dark night and I will not be convinced of anything short of permanent victory over these malicious agents of darkness. I know that freedom, security and strength will come out of the collective heart of our majority. We are many and they are few. May it come soon and remain for a long time, until the tears, the loss and the awful injuries are no longer even remembered.
Youtube Fascism and Undemocracy.
Solution? Set up another Youtube with similar format in a 3rd world country that is not fascist in treatment of YouTube users. Any tech savvy guys want to replicate a democratic Youtube in Sarejevo for example?