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Psychiatry as Bullshit

By Niall McLaren

Is it possible for a modern medical specialty to be little more than what people in the street call bullshit? As scary as that sounds, I believe it is true of psychiatry. I’ve set out my case in some detail [1] and anybody who wants to disagree can read it. For readers who prefer to think outside the box, we can define both concepts, psychiatry and bullshit, and then see how psychiatry measures up.

We can define psychiatry as the medical approach to mental disorder. Psychiatry is what psychiatrists do, which these days means interview distressed people, make a diagnosis, and then prescribe pills. It can also mean compelling the person to enter a place called a hospital but, in reality, it is actually a place of involuntary incarceration where the inmate will have fewer rights and privileges than any prisoner in this country. Once detained, he can be forced to take any drugs the psychiatrist decides, however unpleasant; he can be locked in solitary confinement and can also be physically restrained more or less indefinitely. Finally, he can be compelled to submit to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, “shock treatment”),

Now you might think that any non-forensic process that forces a perfectly innocent citizen to lose his freedom and all his rights, even to the point where he has no sexual function (mainly because of the drugs but also because somebody is always watching), would be based in some agreed, formalised, articulated, rational, publicly-available case which shows that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Sadly, and as a matter of firmly-established fact, you would be wrong [2]. Orthodox psychiatry has pulled a remarkable coup. Acting entirely without the benefit of a scientific model of mental disorder, it has managed to convince governments that their approach to mental disorder is at once correct, humane and the only possible choice. I believe this is bullshit, and will explain why. For the record, I firmly believe that severe mental disturbance is real. Thomas Szasz said that all people who claim to be mentally disturbed are pretending, but I have argued that he was totally (and brutally) wrong [3].

In 1986, the Princeton philosopher, Harry Frankfurt [4], published a paper entitled “On Bullshit.” It opens with some of the most memorable lines in modern philosophy: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this….” He defined a lie as a very deliberate act of inserting a falsehood at some point in a discourse with the object of avoiding the consequences of having that point occupied by the truth. The successful liar is thus intimately concerned with the concept of truth. Bullshit, on the other hand, is the artistic production of statements that are neither true nor false, but are intended to create a particular impression in the listener. Given that definition, we can test psychiatry to see whether it passes the sniff test.

In the first place, orthodox psychiatry claims that in some vital causative sense, mental disorder is just a special case of physical malfunction of the brain. It is not psychological. Because of this, we are bombarded by material that says depression is “just” a matter of low brain serotonin, and Wonder Drug X will fix it. As a result, 10% of the Australian adult population now take antidepressants. We are routinely told these drugs are safe, effective, non-addictive, with minimal side-effects, and will be needed for life. The whole thing is bullshit. In the first place, there is nothing in the entire psychiatric literature, nor psychological, nor philosophical, nor in the vast field of neurosciences, that would permit anybody to say that mental disorder is identical to or can be reduced to brain malfunction. Psychiatrists who state, as most do, that mental disorder is “just a chemical imbalance of the brain,” are stating something that is neither true, nor false, but is designed to create a particular impression in the listener. The impression is (a) that the psychiatrist knows what he is talking about, (b) has correctly assessed the patient’s life situation, and (c) his prescription will lead to an improvement in the patient’s life which would not otherwise happen.

None of these suppositions is true. Psychiatrists do not have a formal model of mental disorder. These days, psychiatric assessments, especially in public hospitals, are a joke, very often a matter of a nurse ticking a few boxes on a couple of questionnaires of very dubious validity and reliability. Psychiatric drugs are hardly effective. In depression, a placebo (sugar pill) will lead to improvement in 55-60% of cases, whereas antidepressants are effective in only 64% of cases (my experience says that figure is much lower). Psychotropic drugs have a huge range of highly unpleasant and/or dangerous side effects (e.g. loss of sexual function, massive weight gain, suicidal and/or homicidal impulses). Psychiatric drugs produce some of the most persistent and damaging addictions of all. Finally, people who take psychiatric drugs for life can expect to die 19yrs younger than their un-drugged peers. Despite all the palaver about informed consent, psychiatrists never reveal these facts when prescribing their drugs. That’s not entirely unreasonable: if they did, nobody would take them.

Leaving drugs, we can look at electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, “shock treatment”). Many people believe this has not been used since the 1970s but it is still widely used. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists says that ECT is “…a useful and essential treatment option…” In 2013-14 in Queensland, 16,602 episodes of ECT were administered (oddly enough, the figures do not show numbers of patients). In 2014-15, this jumped to 19,365 [5]. Does the rate of depression jump 20% in one year? I doubt it. Since it’s more than were administered by the British National Health Service, I suggest something else is going on, and that something is money. A psychiatrist can easily do four per hour, at up to $150 a pop, for absolutely no intellectual effort whatsover.

But there is something more ominous in the use of ECT. Under various state mental health acts, ECT can be given against a person’s wishes if he “unreasonably refuses it.” Since I have practiced psychiatry for 40 years, in a wide variety of pretty tough settings, without using it, I would say that any refusal is reasonable. However, it is for the individual clinician to decide whether the detained person gets it, so you might expect that psychiatrists can define “unreasonable” refusal. They can’t.

If they decide the patient will get it, that’s it. A voluntary patient who refuses ECT will very quickly find himself detained. If he appeals to the mental health tribunal, the appeal will fail. The psychiatrist sitting on the tribunal will have long used ECT and will see it as “a useful and essential treatment” which cannot reasonably be refused. Moreover, all junior psychiatrists who apply to join a mental health service are required to be proficient in giving ECT, but they are not required to to be able to practice psychiatry without using ECT. This asymmetry is not seen as requiring explanation.

A psychiatrist who uses ECT is only saying that he can’t get the patient better any other way, i.e. he has reached the limit of his skill set. The claim that ECT is “essential” is factually wrong, and all talk of “reasonable” use of ECT is simply a cover for incompetence. The whole thing is pure bullshit.

Let’s look again at detention. Some years ago, I advised the Chief Psychiatrist of Qld that many people detained in security facilities, at a cost of about $1500 per day, were not being actively treated and would not be detained in other states. I gave him several examples where perfectly harmless people had been detained for years, at costs ranging up to $4.5million each, yet showed no signs of aggression. Some were even allowed to come and go as they pleased. Nothing came of this; I presume the respective ministers were told (actually by the psychiatrists who authorised the detentions) that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

However, we now have the situation where detention is under intense scrutiny. The publicity surrounding Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin, and of Australia’s concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Island, has attracted psychiatric comment. Entirely trustworthy psychiatrists have argued that detention in itself is highly undesirable. They are free to argue as citizens that it is abhorrent and we should no more practice it than corporal punishment but, as psychiatrists, they go further. They argue that it is damaging to the person’s mental health, especially where the person has broken no laws. If that is so, then they need to explain why the profession of psychiatry is far and away the major player in involuntary detention of people who have broken no laws. People are detained for decades and submitted to the repeated indignity of being held down and jabbed with very unpleasant and/or dangerous drugs, yet this is done in the name of “treatment.” Evil is as evil does: somehow, good intentions in mental hospitals seem to negate the adverse effects of detention in other settings. In philosophy, that is called Having your cake and eating it too.

Psychiatrists will often say that their treatment is sanctioned by something called the biopsychosocial model. A search of PubMed shows nearly 1600 publications on the topic since 2002, an impressive tally. However, there is a slight problem: it doesn’t exist. Nearly twenty years ago, I showed that it had never been written, that the whole thing is a charade, an illusion [6], but this doesn’t deter anybody. Psychiatrists routinely invoke the biopsychosocial model to justify their actions. Are they simply dishonest, carefully inserting a falsehood in a discourse to avoid the consequences of having that point occupied by the truth, or are they lazily allowing themselves to be taken in by their own inventions? Anybody who states the biopsychosocial model is a reality is not stating a truth, but I believe most of its supporters haven’t bothered to check the truth, they are just trying to create an impression. That is, they are bullshitting their audience.

My views are not popular with my psychiatric colleagues. I am seen as taking an extreme position but somebody has to occupy the extreme otherwise there would be no progress. Somebody has to criticise the institution of psychiatry because, rest assured, there is no institutional self-criticism. The profession has surrounded itself with walls of bullshit within which criticism is suppressed in the pursuit of an unproven concept of mental disorder. As Daniel Kahneman noted: “We know that people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers” [7]. To the great detriment of the community, that is exactly the position in which modern psychiatry finds itself.


1. McLaren N (2016). Psychiatry as Bullshit. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry 18: 48-57.

2. McLaren N 2013 Psychiatry as Ideology. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry 15: 7-18.

3. Critique of Thomas Szasz. Chaps 12-13 in McLaren N 2012. The Mind-Body Problem Explained: The Biocognitive Model for Psychiatry. Ann Arbor, MI: Future Psychiatry Press.

4. Frankfurt H (1986). On Bullshit. Raritan Quarterly Review 6, No. 2 (Fall 1986).

5. Qld Dept of Health RTI #3273, ECT Procedures in Qld Hospitals (September 12, 2016).

6. McLaren N. A critical review of the biopsychosocial model. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 1998: 32; 86-92.

7. Kahneman D (2011). Thinking fast and slow. New York: Allan Lane


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  1. Ideflitch

    What is the answer to help people suffering loss of nouns and going into Alzheimer’s ?

  2. Jason

    Using bullshit as titles probably doesn’t help your cause. It sounds extremely unprofessional. Surely you could find better English and professional terminology that would resonate with your peers and other readers. It makes your article sound childish.

  3. Matt

    Thank Niall,

    I guess if you look at a lot of cases of mental illness, and if you know the people well, it is not hard to see the causes, and they are not chemical causes, so why should they require a chemical solution? In fact, from what I can tell one of the major contributors to mental illness is neo-liberalism, as it plays out in reality and the treatment of people – particularly people down on their luck (if you can describe a system that deliberately offshores and automates jobs as one involving ‘luck’). So is psychiatry supporting neo-liberalism by attributing its failures to the individual?

    Another point – if you look at early maps of Melbourne one of few very large buildings is the asylum . Beechworth also had a large asylum ((see for example:
    I am not aware of any indigenous cultures in any ‘new world’ which needed, or had, asylums. This is a feature of western societies, and perhaps a reflection of a) what industrialism does to many people b) how it treats the people it emotionally ruins.

  4. mark delmege

    Cheers Niall. I don’t claim any expertise on the subject but I can agree with much that you say. I remember reading RD Liang’s anti psychiatry book in the 1970’s (?). I recently raised this with a client of mine, a psychiatrist in the state system, and he assured me he very rarely used drugs on his patients/clients. He did however bemoan the fact that after developing useful programs funding would be cut and they would be worse off than before. I often read John Rappaport’s blog – and while I dont agree with everything he has an insight that you might also enjoy.

  5. jim

    Hey I hear ya I can never figure out why you give a downer (sedative) to someone who’s felling down anyway, I read somewhere Australia sadly has broken the suicide rate again this year, whos in power?

    Right-wing governments may sap some people’s will to live and result in more suicides, conclude studies in Britain and Australia.

    The researchers speculate that losers are more likely to kill themselves in the individualistic, “winner-takes-all” societies favoured by right wing governments, because they are left to fend for themselves. Wide disparities in wealth also sharpen any sense of hopelessness, the researchers argue.

    “If you fail under that ideology, it would accentuate your feelings of failure,” says Mary Shaw, whose team at the University of Bristol analysed suicide trends in England and Wales over the past century.

    Left wing governments tend to be more “inclusive” and community based, she says, decreasing the isolation felt by people down on their luck. Shaw’s team calculates that over the past century, 35,000 extra suicides occurred when the Tories were in power.

    “That’s equivalent to one suicide for every day of the 20th Century, or two for every day that the Conservatives ruled,” the team write in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

    Britain’s Conservative Party declined to comment on the findings.

    Double trouble
    Shaw and her colleagues found that on average, suicide rates were 17 per cent higher when the Conservatives were in power, compared to the annual average of 103 suicides per million population when opposition parties held office.

    Richard Taylor and his team in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney found similar trends over the past century in New South Wales. When Right-wing governments were in power, men were 17 per cent more likely and women 40 per cent more likely to commit suicide.

    They report that rates were highest whenever Right wing governments held power both at federal and state levels.

    Both studies reached their conclusions after taking into account other factors that affect suicide rates, such as economic slumps, wartime, and even a surge of suicides among women in the 1960s when sedatives became widely available.

    “You’ve never had it so good”
    But the same trend always emerged, even at times of economic boom such as the “you’ve-never-had-it-so-good” years when Harold MacMillan led the UK’s Tory government between 1957 and 1963.

    During that time, annual suicides peaked at 137 per million population. Shaw points out that rates were almost as high in the 1930s (135 per million) when Labour’s Ramsay McDonald headed a coalition, but she believes the primary reason then was the century’s worst economic slump.

    The lowest rate was 85 per million, during the Liberal government of David Lloyd George between 1916 and 1920. Now, under Tony Blair, it is back to the non-Conservative average of 103, down from 121 during Margaret Thatcher’s first term in the early 1980s…link,.

  6. Harquebus

    Thank you Niall for bringing this to my attention. It is something that I was largely unaware of.


  7. AMOfOz

    It is essentially still a pseudoscience in many ways.

    I do agree with the overall message in the article that this self-regulating way which much of psychiatry works is at odds with the interests of true patient care.

    The lack of information passed onto patients by mental health workers, such as side-affects, addictions, long term effects, is worrying.

    As someone who has witnessed a family member have adverse effects to a drug prescribed which was far worse than the initial issues being treated: it wasn’t treated seriously. The psychiatrist flatout refused to listen, then actually wanted to UP the dose, to make this person more zombie-like and ‘manageable’, and it absolutely horrified me.

    I was just thankful I was able to be an advocate for someone who would otherwise be at the mercy of these people who truly didn’t care, or take them (or me) seriously when we said something was severely wrong.

    The methods of treatment, incarceration and lack of rights, personal autonomy etc given to certain patients (and their family!) under the command of some of these ‘professionals’ is downright disturbing. There appear to be no checks and balances involved there, either.

    There is nowhere for you to turn to complain or seek rectification for these things, as no one wants to acknowledge when you have genuine issues you would like addressed.

    They literally treat you like you are crazy, unreasonable, and they are surely the sane ones, because they are professionals, afterall, so be a good little test subject and take this pill that leaves you in a vegetated state and just don’t dare question us or bother us!!!

  8. Kevin Heaton

    My partner of 6 years was raped and became pregnant form a series of sexual assaults while she was in a locked ward undergoing medical treatment for her illness
    Queensland health continues to fail to make public disclosure into her rape, they refuse to even acknowledge her inpatient pregnancy, myself and her family warned the facility she was was being abused and tried to remove her, the facility was trying to cover up the problems from the barrett center and decided to ignore our claims to keep its reputation in tact and as a result 3 weeks later the rapes began leading to pregnancy and the near destruction of our family and lives
    2 years of unlawful detention , and 2 years and still going that this 23 year old rape victim officially has no contact with her loved one from qld health misusing the Mental health act
    they are detaining her without visitors and leave with my her partner of 6 years because my intention it to take her to police to report the abuse and seek to contact the press and legal services, they have engaged actively to use all excuses to prevent me from exposing the rape and talking to my partner
    this occurred at:
    the park centre for mental health wacol
    my partner is at:
    robina hospital acute adult
    jessica f
    acute adult ward
    robina hospital
    we need help to get the public view on this matter so we can stop qld health hiding rape and also get the support my partner and i need

  9. Annie B

    Thank you Niall for throwing some much needed light on current psychiatry, and very much the ‘other’ side of that coin.

    I know ECT is still being given – as a family member ( cousin ) has had it administered on numerous occasions over years – the last time in early 2015. … It usually follows a seriously depressed state at which time she threatens dire happenings, including suicide. … She ‘knows the drill’ as she once told me, and will seek help herself, with the assistance of her husband and her immediate family. ..

    Her youngest son – a diagnosed schizophrenic, committed suicide in her back garden 25 years ago – which literally tipped her already fragile state – over the edge. She resumes normal life after her visits to a clinic, but at an absolutely frantic pace ( which I believe is all part and parcel of the same situation ), until she hits the wall again. … This lady is 84 years of age, this month !!, and it surprised me immensely that she would be given – in her early 80’s … more ECT ( two lots early last year ). … She calls it her ‘kick-start’ back to being able to live again ? …. Sad but true.

    No-one can possibly know ALL the intricate workings of the brain and character, yet psychiatrists continually argue that they do, which I read as one of your main points. … Also have to wonder how advanced it might have become, or is it still stuck back in the 1900’s somewhere ? … Deep sleep therapy – a scandal, and now outlawed ??? … I wonder.

    A very interesting article.

  10. stephentardrew

    This post very much represents my feelings on the subject having spent many years working in the filed. Mark R Reardon: As someone who has extensive experience in the field. I know of literally hundreds of people who have recovered and lived meaningful lives with a combination of medication, therapy and life skills training. Many of those people would be dead or incarcerated without it. The prison system should not be used to press your case. It is freely acknowledged that there are issues in both the prison and hospital system. This is due to lack of resources to address patients mental health issues effectively. ECT is rarely used now and there are very strict quidelines before it is used. In the rare cases it is used there are demonstrated benefits. The is a whole scientific model behind Psychiatry. Research is ongoing and theories challenged and revised all the time. It is called science for that reason. Psychiatric research has made huge difference in destigmatising mental health issues and treating disorders, so as l said people can lead fulfilling lives within the community rather than be locked away in Asylums.

  11. Mels walking the Camino de Santiago

    I used to work in psychiatry. I had to leave because the psychiatrists i was working with were doing my head in. A wise psychiatric nurse once said to me “Mel you only have to work if they are bad , sad or mad”. Yup that was the extent of it.

  12. Jexpat

    Jason wrote:Using bullshit as titles probably doesn’t help your cause. It sounds extremely unprofessional. Surely you could find better English and professional terminology that would resonate with your peers and other readers.

    Histrionics, nihilism and contrarian attention seeking are rife in this discipline, and from time to time spawn copycats with their own axes to grind.

    Having said that, various forms of patient abuse and neglect have also been rife in this discipline, and throughout society, so it’s not hard to understand the frustration leading up to proclamations like “it’s all bullshit.”

  13. Casey McKenzie

    So I have bipolar disorder. Are you saying I’d be better off without drugs? I’ve seen myself without medication; I spiral very quickly into a deep depression.

    CBT and DBT don’t exactly work when I’ve lost all interest in the things I found enjoyable. What does work is medication. So what are you saying I should do?

  14. Darrell

    Years ago, after experiencing some emotional distress after discovering my then wife’s extra-curricular activities I trotted off to see my long-term trusted family physician who asked me a handful of questions and determined that I was chemically unbalanced. Wow, such insight. No tests, just questions (less than five minutes, hardly what I would call extensive diagnosis) and then courses of several different types of pills. Eighteen months I numbed my mind fearing that I would implode if I was to stop taking these pills. Eventually I took control of my own life and stopped the meds. A change of lifestyle and people in my life allowed me to be drug free and life a life not unlike any other normal well functioning person. Wasn’t always easy but I learned to recognize my own symptoms when I felt that something was not quite right. To this day I maintain a certain amount of skepticism about the necessity of some medications and the readiness of physicians to prescribe them. Some times you just need to listen to your own body and trust yourself. Not advocating this approach to anybody, just sharing my experience.

  15. David

    After medical discharge from the Australian Armed Forces in 1968 from experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Borneo, and Mindanao, I was prescribed a chemist shop full of drugs.A year later, I moved inter state, stopped taking the drugs, and enjoyed a wonderful life style, family and gainful employment. Many years later I realized that I was suffering what today is called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recent exposure to current psychiatric practice, through a family member, has convinced me nothing has changed in almost 50 years. Psychiatry is right up there with Signs of the Zodiac, Horoscope readings and Tarot cards. Now that I understand the links between the brain, gut biome and the Vagus nerve, everything makes sense from a medical perspective.

  16. Kate

    Without Psychiatry, Psychiatric Hospitals and Medication I would not be here to respond to your article.

    I usually find myself agreeing with a lot of things on AIMN but this article is absolute rubbish and if I had to comment in one word it would be “Ignorance”

    It is very clear that even after many years working as a psychiatrist you still don’t “get it”. I would never wish mental illness on anybody but I really wish you could walk in the shoes of somebody who is mentally ill and/or suicidal and then maybe you would have some accurate insight.

    Psychiatry could improve, of course it could and I agree that perhaps a lot of the population might be on antidepressants perhaps unnecessarily, or for too long. But for people who genuinely have a mental Illness I believe after first hand experience that medication, psychiatric hospitals and psychiatrists along with psychologists are an essential service.

    If you are looking for absolutes then you are in the wrong profession my friend. I hope you are not still working as a psychiatrist for the sake of people who really need these services.

    For those of you commenting above about how you took medication and then stopped a year later and didn’t need it anymore then good for you, but consider that this may not be the same for everybody.

  17. Jason

    I have to agree with Kate. For alll it’s faults I wouldn’t be alive today without psychiatry. I’m confused why you are still working on that progression. I’ve changed careers for much less. If you don’t believe it then do yourself and your patients a huge favour and do something you would find something more fulfilling. The fact you need to be told that suggests you’re not in tune with the profession you proclaim to be so close to. Maybe that’s something to reflect on. We aren’t all made for our original calling. Many are.

  18. diannaart

    I have been on antidepressants for over 20 years now. During that time I have tried going without the medication – and the massive mood swings return…

    I have never been placed into a psychiatric hospital, managing, somehow, to remain independent. There are some awful shrinks however, although I believe if one is on prescribed medication that such treatment should ALWAYS be in conjunction with some form of counselling and/or therapy where possible. A GP prescription is not good enough if there is no attendant treatment. I did finally find a psychiatrist who was a rock for me.

    As for indefinite incarceration, one does not need to be professionally trained to understand the impact on mental and physical health on people, one just needs a heart.

    If Niall McLaren can aid on redressing this harm of innocents, without throwing ALL of psychiatry out, we may be able to help those falsely imprisoned – be they refugees or children.

    That said, I prefer the truly criminally insane to remain behind bars – not a perfect solution but nothing ever is.

  19. mark delmege

    I doubt Niall was saying that Pharmacology is useless. People have been using substances for thousands maybe ten of thousands of years to modify behaviour. Even animals do it instinctively If it works for you – I’d suggest you dont stop. I think he was saying something else.

  20. Jill

    I agree entirel. But let us not forget the asylums of yesteryear and the remarkable changes which occurred through the discovery of psychotropic medications. The larger picture suggests to me that profit rears its ugly head again in the health field ((how many psychiatrists own share in pharma companies?) what should be occasional use, one of many single and concurrent options, has become the valued and prime treatment mode. I would suggest that modes like CBT and MBCT are also in danger of becoming equally standardised one size fits all responses which fail to take account of the deep struggles, pain and fear of/need for connection experienced by people enduring the symptoms of major mental illnesses. Recognise the alienation, degradation, exploitation, abuses and injustices endemic in our western “civilisation” and then we start to understand the Social” in psychosocial…and yes I spent many years working in this field.

  21. Wayne

    I have worked alongside both psychologists and psychiatrists. Most are well meaning decent people. However, I always get the feeling that many are a bit wacky, some even very strange by any measure. A friend used to work as a psychiatric nurse and what I was regularly told about the doctors in charge suggested that some were simply bizarre – those in charge were not much better than the inmates – except that they had a set of acceptable behavioural peccadilloes and the inmates did not. Further, it seems to me that many go into those fields seeking their own answers. Like politicians, most presumably think they will do good and help people.

    Unfortunately, when nut jobs are taught by nut jobs, the entrenched neurotics of those disciplines is perpetuated. Moreover, it seems to me that the real measure of the ability of those disciplines to genuinely help is whether those who practise those disciplines have themselves achieved outcomes in terms of finding their own solutions – and in many cases, the disturbing answer is no. Thus, a large part of each of those disciplines is science tainted by quackery and then overlaid with each individual practitioner’s particular distorted views. This leaves a jumbled mess of pseudo-science.

    Like many professional disciplines and perhaps management consulting is one of the best examples I can come up with, closely followed by HR (an offshoot of psychology in many ways), there is a highly specialised language that covers up what amounts to no real idea of very much at all. So let’s spout a few impressive phrases and then, in the final ignominy and admission that the real answers are too elusive, let’s prescribe medication.

    Don’t get me wrong, confronted with a patient who is clearly struggling and requires longer-term help, medication has a definite role to play in the management of mental health and there are plenty of cases where medication is essential, but the impact of many medications is poorly understood – and all too often deliberately obscured by the pharma industry, so I suspect that good patient outcomes are, firstly, not necessarily measured against valid criteria and secondly, sometimes a matter of pure chance and/or luck.

  22. mark

    understanding,id ego and super ego,saved me.mark

  23. townsvilleblog

    I have suffered with chronic major depression with associated anxiety disorder for the best party of 30 years, 20 years ago it became so debilitating that I could not continue to work. I had electric shock treatment twice but it didn’t help, all it did was to dull my memory in that I can seldom recall what happened 20 minutes ago but at times I can recall what happened 45 years ago. Two decades of workplace stress bought this diagnosis, so I’m afraid I don’t believe that my condition is Bullshit.

  24. townsvilleblog

    Pardon me, I forgot to mention that I rely on a battery of medications to survive, anti-depressants of course, and medication to allow sleep, also I have developed other symptoms of fibromyalgia since my earlier diagnosis and am wondering if you think that it is also bullshit? Just asking?

  25. Karl Young

    We all have our ups and downs and depression is the pits.I think our lifelong purpose should be to understand ourselves.Most people don’t understand themselves as they think the answers are external. Drugs never worked for me.Though learning to understand myself; gave me the wisdom to avoid certain types of people, places, substances and environments; which weren’t good for my mental health has served me well.Though it will always be a “Work in Progress”.

  26. diannaart

    @Karl Young

    A dose of wisdom is worth more than a phalanx of pharmacists, a score of psychs or a drove of doctors.

    Although, I do still rely upon antidepressants, I manage myself with great care and with as much wisdom as I can discover. No longer succumb to smoking, drinking and I have given up wild young men (the last bit, mostly).

  27. Karl Young

    dianaart Please don’t give up on men completely. Maybe you have been looking for the wrong ones. I personally like to be challenge or enlightened by a woman though not bullied or manipulated by them.

  28. diannaart


    I only avoid the truly uncivilised ones


  29. Niall McLaren

    Response to Jason 2.10.16: After 40yrs of politely knocking on the door or the psychiatric establishment with my critical academic papers, only to have them totally ignored, even by the journals that publish them, I have realised, somewhat belatedly, that courtesy is part of the game, it is taken as a sign of weakness, meaning the person can be ignored because he won’t make a fuss. That way, the Establishment can get on with spinning a line of what, in any other circle, would be called bullshit. But if you don’t like this article, please read the original paper, the reference is provided. I’d be very interested to see your reaction to each point made. If you don’t come to the conclusion that psychiatry is bullshit (using Frankfurt’s definition), then let us know.

  30. Jack Straw

    Yes Niall the arrogance of some of these so called professionals is breathtaking.Tell it like it is.

  31. peter

    As a layperson, I have to go to spell-check if the word ‘psychiatry’ is not on screen.
    The science as Niall describes it seems a mechanical solution to a problem that deserves deep insights, not just some Pharma chemicals and electric shocks.
    The mind plus the behaviors of any given ‘person’ at any given time is the combination of genetics plus the broad educational/life circumstances leading up to that point.
    It’s law conformable. There is no free will. It’s an illusion.
    We are in a process, call it evolution if you like.
    Understand that – understand everyone.

  32. Chonyi Taylor

    I, for one, am very happy that the psychiatrists I have met when struggling with depression have acknowledged the limitations of psychiatrist diagnosis and medications. We a not disassemble the brain to find out what is not working properly. That is why trial and error are a necessary part of psychiatric practice. More recently with the benefits of MRI scans we have some way of seeing what is happening in the brain in real time. These tools are far more useful than pretending that psychiatry has not developed since the days of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

  33. Niall McLaren

    My case is that the so-called “disassembling of the brain” is not science but is very firmly in the camp of pseudoscience. No benefits have derived from using MRI scans, or PET, or EEG, or fMRI, or genomics, etc. These are research tools, but the research is not driven by a model of mental disorder, and it adds up to nothing. However, a lot of people are making a lot of money and advancing their careers by claiming that they are on the verge of a major breakthrough in mental disorder, all they need is a bit more money. It is the case that there are no new psychiatric drugs in development: the classes of drugs in use now derive from the 80s and early 90s. 25 years of very expensive research and nothing to show for it.
    I’m inside psychiatry. I can firmly state that it has NOT developed since I first set foot on a psychiatric ward in 1969. Anybody who says otherwise is guilty of bullshitting, ie. stating something that is neither true nor false but is designed to impress the audience.

  34. maxpowerof1

    The author is making valid points.
    State mental health never offered counselling.
    Nothing but threats & forced pharmaceuticals.

    “Ooh I hate that bloke.” “Yeah, I wish he would just commit suicide already”
    Two female psych nurses, whilst involutarily locked in a psych ward after jumping in front an oncoming vehicle.
    Mainy night 2007.

  35. Annie B

    Well said … to many other posters here. Tragedies overcome, and people here having the guts to share their stories is truly admirable, and brave.

    After much deliberation, I will share an experience I had ( only briefly referred to in my previous post without being personal in that post ) …

    50 years back – first child – severe post natal depression ( and at that time, undiagnosed epilepsy ).

    Local doctor put me on Amytal ( OMG ) … which is a barbiturate type medication and messes with the head a whole heap. It was / is (?) also used as an anti-convulsant, so perhaps the local doctor covered a lot of possibilities, without expanding his theories, as I had gone to him after being observed ‘collapsed gyrating’ ( epilepsy ! ) in the garden. …. Local Doctor suggested I seek psychiatric help. ….. Which I did.

    Psychiatrist saw me 3 > 4 times, and then put me into a psychiatric rest home in Caulfield ( which ultimately went up in flames while I was there – but that’s another story with many implications ) …. It was there that a) my then husband was refused any daily contact with me … and was told by the psych. “your wifes’ medical situation is none of your business” ???? [ I was later told ] …. and b) I was subjected to deep sleep therapy, plus two lots of ECT. One month later, after an absolutely dramatic exit from that hospital due to the fire – I returned home to hubby and baby daughter, having been shipped initially to the Alfred Hospital ( 30 ++ patients from Karlyn in Caulfield were transported to various public hospitals ). It was my then husband who stood his ground legally, to have me released from the public hospital, as I had been due to go home the next day anyway. … Karlyn apparently ceased operation as a private psych. hospital after that.

    Said psychiatrist, was making a huge killing ( no pun intended ) with his ‘medications and experiments’ …

    50 years ago, $4,000 was a massive amount of money to find – for this horrendous ‘experimental’ type of psych. treatment, and that’s what my husband forked out – mid 1966.

    Said shrink, did a disappearing act almost immediately ( after all records only, were burnt to a cinder at that hospital ), allegedly taking up forensic psychiatry in New York, and has subsequently published books on the benefits of the ‘thoracic thump’ in daily ritualistic detail ( look it up if you don’t believe me )…. turning totally to holistic relief … ( and I suspect, away from being brought before the law in this country, for his deep sleep therapy experiments 50 years or so back ) …

    My own obstetrician / gynaecologist at the time, who was shortly after, Chairwoman of the International Womens’ Medical Assocation 1972, … threw a total fit when she heard what I had been through. “Why didn’t you come to me … you had post natal depression which can be dealt with, without THAT ” … and a subsequent locum of hers, upon reading my history during my second pregnancy – announced ” You are indeed a fortunate person to be sitting here at all – I have seen some results from that so called doctors’ dealings with patients ” .. I was astonished at her remarks … Both women were ropable.

    Some years later, the Chelmsford scandal broke, and my ex-husband phoned me to say he would back me in any legal position I might like to take about the matter, as it was reported as ‘Australia wide as well’ and was under intense investigation, calling for ‘witnesses’. He had observed when he did sneak in against the doctors wishes, the inordinate amount of time I spent ( over 4 weeks, decreasing as time went by ) … in a deep sleeping situation. ” you were constantly out to it ” … He was advised only of the two ECT’s I had been given. …. I declined his kind offer of support, simply because I did not want to go down an horrendous path of enquiry and possible litigation. … By that time the bird had well and truly flown many years back – hiding in some weird world of his own making on the opposite side of the planet. Where he has remained.

    This bloke might well be healing in a holistic way now — but he was a monster when here. And I am indeed fortunate to be able to write this now – considering what I now know. I have not had problems since, except in memory for some years ( result of treatment then ) … and a few unrelated battles in health. I am ok for my age – with no thanks to psychiatry. !!!! 🙁

    I do not in any way disparage the need for psychological intervention, or the necessity to take medications at times to make life bearable … and happily livable for many, many people. Indeed, many times a chemical imbalance in the brain is the culprit … and at times, there is a much more deep seated situation to be dealt with.

    Best of good wishes to all who suffer from mental illness, no matter what form it might take.


  36. Jexpat


    The problem with your piece and others like it (one is referenced in my post above) are with the logic.

    It’s easy to make a values based claim against interventions involving less than voluntary hospitalisation, and one might be able to claim on a data driven basis that it’s not effective public policy.

    One can also claim that certain treatments- you mention ECT, have adverse side effects that outweight their overall benefits- and are overutilised or abused. (I assume you’re not arguing that evidence and metanalyses don’t show efficacy for refractory depression).

    To sustain those claims, you have to put up the proof- or at least come up with a credible reason why sufficient data has been made unavailable to prove your case. There are such instances. Otherwise, as the saying goes, shut up.

    For the sake of argument, let’s presume that each of your individual claims are proven. Would they warrant a far broader inference of Psychiatry as Bullshit, bullshit as defined by Frankfurt? Or is it an over the top generalisation- a sterling example of the fallacy of composition? Is it toss up the hands in exhaustion nilism?

    Let’s sally down the ladder of abstraction a bit and have a look at another item you raise, “the biopsychosocial model.” Many readers will and should ask: “what does that mean?” “Is it gobblygoop?” Well, as you and I both know, it’s simply shorthand. An ackowledgement that biological factors, individual psychological factors (e.g. how individuals respond to stressors, etc.) and sociological factors all interact and impact on our mental states- and lesson or worsen the severity of symptoms or observable characteristics or behaviors that people- patients are people, present with.

    True- it’s not rocket science; Rocket science is engineering. The human experience with respect to mental health (or physchopathology) isn’t often as easily reduced solely to hard clinical measures with singular, one dimensional outcomes. Yet clusters of symptoms are nonetheless amenable to categorisation based on many years of many clinicians, providers, carers and legal and correctional professional’s recorded experiences.

    Dismissing those -like the writer I obliquely referenced as “copycat” -who’d dismiss the entirety of the DSM (and presumably, ICD) due to cherry picked errors, quarrels or corrupted influences: looks like nihilism if not contrarian attention seeking- with some axe to grind.

    Maybe I’m wrong. If so, perhaps this is as good a place as any to continue the discussion.

  37. Niall McLaren

    I suggest you read the original paper. As made clear at the outset, this is just a synopsis.

  38. maxpowerof1

    You have a romanticised opinion on what the mental health system is and does.
    The human element in regards to staff and their behaviours has a negative impact on the quality of the outcomes for those that require/request treatment and those that have a forced treatment.
    By this I am referring to the overwhelming force offered to essentially an ‘opinion based diagnosis’.
    An opinion that is not scrutinised by any independant evaluation of a diagnosis or the outcomes of a forced treatment.

    On paper, it may seem like a reasoned assessment leads to an accurate diagnosis, but add the humanised elements (corruption, nepotism, authorative ego) to the overwhelming power of their authority and it is recognisable as a vehicle for abuse without a balance of independant scrutiny.

    You may claim a cherry pick on negative points and ‘an axe to grind’ as reason to dismiss the claims of the sytems failures,
    But the reality is the system itself does not acknowledge its own failures, negative outcomes or lack of progress in recognising what is a mental illness and what is an acceptable outcome of ‘treatments’ offered.

    Treatments for both ends of the spectrum i.e pyschological traumas and psychiatric disorder are compromised to the point that ‘success’ in diagnosis and treatment are extremely rare, a revolving door.

    Once again, another with a limited understanding that equates hospitalised treatment of a health problem with forced punitive treatments.

    Furthermore, the mental health act has no provisions for the reparations of misdiagnosis by poorly constructed methodology of diagnosis, by flawed humans.

    It is essential that the present system be deconstructed and rebuilt on a modern understanding that mental illness is not the domain of mad and the bad, but the opposite, those that dont cope with a sadistic, selfish and greedy society.

  39. Niall McLaren

    Have I misread you? I have said that the mental health industry is grotesquely flawed, driven by pseudoscience and money, casually wrecking people’s lives under the pretext of “helping” them, and you call that romantic? I am sure that you and I are on the same side of this debate.

  40. maxpowerof1

    I was responding to jexpat

  41. Jason

    Let me add something I totally forgot. The world we have constructed under neo-liberal selfish individualism has a lot to explain why hundreds of thousands of years of evolution needs so much drugs treatment.

    Family units even when poor support each other and I’ve watched in admiration as I travel 3rd world countries at how happy people can be with so little. We decide the world we create yet it seems like we have been brainwashed into believing it’s all a work of nature we can’t control. The free market is god and uncontrollable. The most amazing brain washing of our time all in the interest of the 1%. There needs to be a revolution sooner rather than later starting with Rupert Murdoch.

  42. diannaart

    Annie B

    Thank you for sharing a traumatic part of your history. I particularly resonated with your statement “I did not want to go down an horrendous path of enquiry and possible litigation – our legal system can cause further harm. A litigant is expected to remember, recall and repeat circumstances which were utterly traumatic, often in situations (court of law) which are hostile – certainly far from supportive.

    I am curious to know if your experience occurred BEFORE the availability of SSR Inhibitor drugs. These drugs made a huge difference to me, previous medication turned me into a zombie – being at Uni, I needed to use my mind not dumb it down, so did not stay on medication – being depressed was better than the treatment.

    One of the problems with finding good supportive counselling is in finding the ‘right’ person. We have to repeat our histories in order for a psychiatrist or other health worker to understand. I did state, above, that I found a good psychiatrist, however such relationships are not forever, after ten years of treating me, he retired. I found I could not go over my entire life all over again with a new counsellor. Having gained a level of equilibrium thanks to both medication and mindful work, I manage independently now.

    There is much we still need to learn and understand about human psychiatry – dumping the entire process is simply a knee-jerk response achieving very little for anyone.

    The thing about treating people is that every person has their own story and their own responses – attempts at one size fits all has resulted in further harm. Government support tends to favour such easy fixes, any human endeavour requiring thought and nuance is given little support – especially by conservative governments. It is true that suicide rates increase during conservative governance:

    Vulnerable people live in state of fear which is compounded by nonsense statements about lifters and leaners. Particularity when people were harmed as a result of their profession such as fire-fighters, doctors, ambulance officers, military and so on. Such people were mighty lifters, although this does not demean the situation of the every day person who has simply been ground into neurotic paste. The majority of people are simply trying to get on with their lives when tragically interrupted for whatever reason – people who deign to judge others should start with themselves.

  43. economicreform

    There are real mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar syndrome and other depressive illnesses, however the sad fact is that in the field of psychiatry misdiagnosis is rife. The outcomes of psychiatric misdiagnosis include “treatment” (both chemical and physical, often quite brutal) which does not have any scientific basis whatsoever. And such malpractice often leads to ruination of the future health, happiness, memory and employability of those unfortunate enough to be accepted as patients. Particularly scandalous in the psychiatric profession is the misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, especially in teenagers who happen to exhibit behavior which deviates in any way from what is considered to be normal. The simple fact is that if people are able to clearly distinguish between what is a fantasy and what is real, then schizophrenia is the wrong diagnosis. Actually, its not rocket science, it’s common sense. The only other major academic discipline I can think of which pretentiously parades pseudo-scientific theorising as a legitimate branch of as science is mainstream economics. Psychiatrists and economists have both contributed to immense suffering in this world.

  44. Niall McLaren

    Statistically, the greatest damage comes from diagnoses of ADHD and bipolar syndrome. The Raine study in WA showed that stimulants for children and youths are not, in fact, beneficial but lead to higher rates of drug abuse in early adulthood. Similarly, the rate of diagnosis of bipolar syndrome has exploded, from 0.1-0.2% of the population in 1975, to claims that the “real” rate is over 11% of the population. All of these people are put on large doses of antipsychotics and other drugs. Genetic diseases do not increase by 11000% in one generation. Over diagnosis (and thence over treatment) is far more likely as an explanation.

  45. diannaart

    So what do we do about it, Niall?

  46. Annie B

    Niall – – – I would like to second that question posed by diannaart …. “what do we do about it” ?.

    And diannaart … thank you for your comments … it was indeed a harrowing time in my life, which should have and could have been filled with joy of my baby daughter, instead of months of post partum depression, the ‘incarceration’ and short term following medication ( can’t remember what that was ).

    Anyway, to answer your query – I went a-googling again, and found the following ( on a Wikipedia article I think it was ) :

    “Dr. Julius Axelrod’s research, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1970, led to the development of SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil.”

    So .., SSRI’s were not around in 1966 when all that garbage happened to me, and I would imagine would only have been available quite a few years after 1970 … as his discoveries “led to the development” etc. … I recall it was in the 1980’s, a neighbour when she lived up here, was put on Prozac … she thought it was wonderful medication – it considerably changed her life for the better. … [ she had been subject to a great deal of family stress. ]

    MAOI’s were I think in use before these times, but can have some nasty side effects, especially with other prescribed drugs / otc drugs and some foods. … Wonder if they are still used much today ?

    Cheers ……

  47. Harquebus

    Could it be that psychiatry is mistaking no longer needed survival attributes as diseases?

    Something that popped up in my reading list just today.

    “The instinct that protected us through most of the years of our evolution is now often a drag – threatening our intimate relationships and destabilising our teams at work.”

    The best that I can do for you is to forward your article to health and other relevant ministers. Are there any other entities that you would like to include?


  48. Niall McLaren

    Can I suggest you don’t waste your time? Health ministers aren’t concerned about mental disorder. That’s not their job. Their job is to sit in their luxurious offices surrounded by the people who have set up and run mental health services and sign where they are told. No health minister would question the need for ECT to rise 20% in one year in Qld. He would be told to leave the clinical stuff to the experts, and that he would willingly do, otherwise he would face and endless barrage of bullshit until he gave in or was transferred to something more to his liking, like agriculture. Ministers are little more than flies in the web of deceit of modern psychiatry.

  49. peter

    Niall, your ideas will by default find resistance with the status quo. It is difficult for anyone person to change one dinosaur personality (self or other) – what to say of changing groups of backward-looking Ministries who believe they already know it all?

    With little more than the equivalent of ‘self-inquiry’ and a cohort of good listeners (psychiatrists in the mold you seem to be recommending or trained psychologists) I get the impression that a lot of what gets passed off as ‘mental illness’ in society today will simply evaporate like fog in the morning sun as an atmosphere of expanding empathy becomes the norm in our culture.

    And where does empathy begin for the individual? Couldn’t be closer 🙂

  50. Niall McLaaren

    Further response to Jason: Perhaps you could look at this paper, very interesting:
    Pennycook G, Cheyne JA, Barr N, Koehler DJ, Fugelsang, JA (2015). On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit. Judgment and Decision Making, 10 (6): 549-563. (November 2015).

  51. Pingback: Psychiatry as Bullshit – » The Australian Independent Media Network | kiwijustice2blog

  52. john

    what blows me out is not one other psychiatrist in the country will come here and support Nial- can you imagine how wimp that is- psychiatry sells itself- and itself -sells sick- and poison- and a story to fix it all up- they put the pick in the coconut- and fix-mix it all up- that’s the trouble- the same trouble- the world is trapped in- their psychi-a,-tricked. -its reflective- goes into the world mix– and sick makes sick- so I blame way more on psychiatry, than just what they do to some in the bins- or those sucked into chemists- I think its creating a sick culture- people- worldwide– just look what it did to Hitler – and then what he did- and for the life of me- why would anyone tell someone their sick in a mind way, anyway– (not a real medical body thing of course) and most of them- are already trippin on drugs when they turn up- not all- but most.

    It- mad- happens at some time -one time- in just about, everyone’s life- and brain- well a real lot of us anyway- sometimes very quickly- briefly- sometimes for a while on and off-others a bit longer- its about how much we sink or get caught up in our own misery-and what we add to that- or learn from that that matters- the majority manage to get by- and over that experience- whatever it might be in that mad regard-stage-time-but just as normal caring human beings- don’t we say when we meet and try to help those not able to get over that visiting- mind insecurity- that’s starting to- too much- get stuck or trapped in their heads–because they’re looking and living it too much- that everything’s gonna be alright- “regardless”- ya trippin mate- and just work from there anyway- we know theirs so much that could be reason- and aren’t we trying to get them out of there anyway-? -don’t we and they need to–shut up the trippin and misery in their minds- why the stuff aren’t we saying- its ok- ya gonna be right mate-were gonna work it out together- get ya back to you- the good guy- their’s a reason for just about everything- well find them -and the answers – no worries buddy- come on mate lets go and get some dinner- smiling hugging if you like- whatever- where’s that part ? the normal caring person part?. To me all these people, thinking, saying it helped them- are really just people who bought it- before they even went there- knocked on a door- and are just some people, in the mix of people, seeking help–who met with doctors- who recognised their insecurities- and easily just gave them what they were expecting- whereas others “might have been” lucky enough, to meet with non misery doctors , who showed them another way, the non misery way- to make it-( mind you theirs none in government facilities) and now all those “believers in the cult” just like “any cult believer” -think they’ve been saved- or are still being saved- and like good cult members fly the flag for their elders- when its- madness- is about 70 to 80% parental- not gene- but example and management- what they do and don’t do as parents- say not say- teach not teach-see not see- with their children- for their children- and sorry nothing anyone says, will change my opinion- to me, it all, comes out of- from- their family- because consequently that’s what they go into the world environment with, to live and manage in. These doctors know all that too. but just take advantage of the insecure- that they are also helping to make -with their parents- recognising and using their parents insecurities also-the makers- along the way- to tagging and drugging their children.The things that harm people emotionally – psychologically- are what causes mind problems. From the individual to others- from others to the individual.

  53. Jason

    Hi Niall, I found and read the article ( but it’s about Deepak Chopra and in participles 140 character tweets!

    Deepak Chopra is not a psychiatrist but an alternative medicine speaker. How is this relevant to modern psychiatry.

    You don’t need a psychiatrist to uncover his nonsense (aka bullshit). I suggest you watch scientists tear Deepak Chopra’s nonsense apart for example here:
    Richard Dawkins:
    Sam Harris:

    I’m not sure what psychiatry has to do with spreading this nonsense as it’s not psychiatrists but charlatans pretending they understand the world and misrepresenting quantum mechanics for example. Psychiatrists operate on the best facts and evidence available unlike these charlatans like Deepak Chopra. It’s like saying astronomy is bullshit but referring to astrologists?

    Am I missing something? Also I think nonsense is a better term than bullshit. Charlatan for the person being described is good I think.

  54. Niall McLaren

    Reply to Jason: Chopra is a very wealthy individual, so he’s doing something much smarter than I am. I agree, he opens his mouth and spins a line of drivel (I mentioned this in a chapter some years ago, “Drivel Generators” in Ch 4 of Humanizing Psychiatrists), I would say that the great majority of what is passed off as scientific psychiatry is just high-sounding drivel. The important point is that psychiatrists themselves don’t take it seriously. They skim the literature, picking out the bits that suit themselves, then forget them the moment something more interesting comes along. I am told by psychiatric trainees (residents in the US) that the horizon for papers is about 2yrs; anything older than that has gone into a memory hole and doesn’t exist.

  55. john

    I think the proper name is Bullshit– we are all human beings with as much validity potentially as the next bloke on what makes us tick- feel- think- or imagine- and how dare anyone suggest someone’s more clued up about these things than anyone else- regardless of how many years they’ve been in a club or studied- some people are just more caring aware than others- more understanding- evolved- some people live and breathe feeling and thinking- just because they didn’t go to uni- means very little, when it comes to people being “decent” people- psychiatry doesn’t teach decency- not that I know anyway– they operate on their own created bullshit- their own so called facts- and evidence– all which is pretty much subjective imagination–and when someone’s telling them to take away “their bullshit”- especially in a bin- and especially for first timers- they assault them twice as much with their bullshit- just to let them know who’s boss- and because they’ve been challenged about their care- their egos are bruised- so its a spiteful assault- an arrogance and an indecency- all for the cult- the psyche club- that they all belong to- with- that includes their patient believers- and their families– same mentality- same belief- just like a pentecostal- a JW- or any other cult- they all stick together- they both need or have to believe you see- so both play the same sick belief game- anyway at the end of the day- we believe what we want to believe- what you see is what you get- always has been- always will be- sorry Niall- I know theirs some good guys out there- some who have more real care in their hearts than others- ive been through another government abuse system– im the last person yet to give evidence at the royal commission in Victoria- and I can tell you im a bully expert- don’t mean to push my own cart—but been studying for fifty plus years- and ive never seen bullies anywhere near psychiatrists- psychiatry- mental health- I know all Government – turn key authorities – attract bullies- even latent ones- as well as some good ones- just the way it is- none of them will/would ever admit it though- and who’d blame them- but the difference is- that we are their victims- trying to get them to leave us alone- begging with them to stop poisoning us sick- us- not you or your mates with hammers and needles- gorillas- straight jackets- electricity- picks- lasers- cells- who believe- but us- the non believers- in despair with tears in our eyes-and they’re telling us to shut up and bend over-take it- professionally-because were stupid- and mentally ill or something- anyway- im sure your going to like this clip Niall.

  56. Niall McLaren

    Fantastic song, good to know I’m not alone.

  57. maxpowerof1

    Not a spelling mistake in satire

  58. Gillman Ken

    John, and others. I support Niall in much of what he says. I too am ashamed of the competence and ethics of many of my erstwhile colleagues. I have an international reputation in certain areas of psychopharmacology and many scientific publications. Most of Psychiatry is bullshit. That word is perfectly appropriate and accurate and any objection to it is prissy. Be very clear, most of the data justifying the efficacy of drugs is of lamentably poor scientific quality. There are several detailed and referenced commentaries on my web site about this. Have a look on ‘psychotropical’.

  59. Fiona

    Dr. Niall, I have been reading many of your articles and watched your videos- some of it I do not understand, as it goes over my head. However, as a teacher a huge problem I have that literally makes me sick, is the amount of children on SSRI medications. These children are on them for ADHD, High Social Emotional and Anxiety, etc etc. Yet what literally keeps me up at night are the side effects of these medication- psychosis and suicidal tendencies. I try to breath hold it together as another child is ‘diagnosed and medicated’ and yet it effects me deeply. I have also looked at the huge link of suicide and SSRI drugs and yet this is brushed under the carpet too. My beloved sister is now on medication for Depression. I guess what I am trying to say is thank you for your honestly and desire to expose these lies, I know that I am not alone. Sadly I think we are getting worse with accepting all of the psychological diagnosis and those that query it are shunned or looked as though we are cruel for not giving it credit.

  60. Anniebee

    It is not yet a year, since this article was first written and published here. And again, it has been commented on by Fiona … and I agree with her comments.

    Anti-depressants are handed out far too often, to all kinds of people without other forms of therapy ( counselling – not necessarily psychiatric either ) … and often with no verbal warnings of some of the side effects of them. Not every medication, suits everyone after all. Perhaps the doctors rely on people reading the pamphlets that are ( supposed to be ) inserted in the packets ?? That does not always happen. And if it does, people drag out the pills and throw away the pamphlet. They usually think ( and rightly ) that it is the pharma companies covering their own backsides in case of litigation, by describing the side-effects on those pamphlets.

    Please understand that I do not in any way denigrate the taking of medication. Many people need it to assist them to live more happily, and more relaxed – and if it does a good job, is the correctly prescribed drug, and brings good relief to those who DO need it – then it is more than necessary.

    Searching for how much ECT is still given in Australia, I came across some interesting figures. It most certainly IS still given but not the way it used to be – it is a far more refined practice. The incidence of it doubled in the 2 years previous to 2014 … I have no stats. on it’s use in the past 3 years, [ except from two friends and 1 relative – which hardly counts as ‘stats’ ], who have had to undergo that treatment. However, a more interesting article came to the fore – and it is not something I would ever have envisaged : – this was written in November 2016.

    Appreciate Niall McLaren and his comments. There are a myriad of factors that produce the onset ( can even be inherited ) of mental illness …. add to that the degree of the mental aberrations, and what type it is diagnosed as ( bi-polar, clinical depression, chronic anxiety without depression, PTSD, C-PTSD, schizophrenia, and more serious truly psychotic problems ). Throw in the many many different schools of thought and study, amongst all the psychiatrists, and one can see much floundering, when it comes to making definitive diagnoses – which may be right, partly right, wrong or completely wrong.

    For psychiatry to claim it has all the answers ( and some psychs. do apparently ) … is ludicrous. It would be impossible.

  61. Tina

    It’s not complex folks this Industry is flat out fraud and always has been. ETC does not help or cure anyone, on the contrary destroys the person’s life turning the “patient = victim” into a docile pet. PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS DO NOT CURE ANYTHING AND THERE IS NO BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE TO BACK UP THEIR THEORIES OF THE BRAIN PERIOD ! IT IS clear AND SIMPLE QUACKERY. This Industry is a billions of dollars fraud the only reason they haven’t stopped is because of the billions they get in federal and state funding to keep their investors happy. Modern euthanasia. Do you think that is harsh? Try talking to family members who have lost their loved ones after being in the hands of Psychiatry or a parent who lost their child at school because some teenager was put on psych drugs, because some lazy parent agreed to drug their kid, and then he went on a shooting spree. Look don’t listen to these folks we’ve lost countless celebrity musicians and artists in the hands of Psychiatry. They need to be abolished they are a scourge on our society.

  62. Mike Troy

    Niall you are spot on. After falling ill out of the blue a few years back, I experienced all the joys of the mental health system in Australia and have come to the conclusion the current paradigm is certainly bullshit. There is no other profession that has such an epic history of failure. Dodgy chemicals, Insulin comas, deep sleep, ECT, are just a few of the often deadly treatments they have come up with. All have failed yet as you say there’s no calling to account. A paradigm shift is needed and psychiatrists need to admit that after 12 years of university study, hundreds of years of tradition and after prescribing billions of dollars in dodgy medications… well they still have no idea what they are dealing with or doing. Yet their arrogance is breathtaking with some psychiatrists now actively trying to have the United States President sectioned out of office.I never thought I defend Donald Trump.

  63. Sharon

    How about “Inhumane”? Because that is pretty much what psychiatry
    is, in a nutshell. Shock treatments,
    lobotomies, overpresciption of antipsychotics-need I go on? Of course, if they wish to deal out such “methods” to rapists and paedophiles, then I won’t stand in their way. Just lay off those who, while they may be different in some way but have never hurt anyone. Stop hurting innocent ones.

  64. John PINK

    I have an entirely different perspective on what you all would regard as ‘Mental illness’. I overcame my Mental Health “Problem” by reading about what was ACTUALLY happening to me and making astute decisions. I told my Therapist, a just-out-of-uni Jungian psychologist, “I’M BECOMING A SHAMAN” and her response was, “I’LL BECOME A SHAMAN BEFORE YOU BECOME A SHAMAN.”

    I found the Recovery Period fascinating way back 30 years ago and I am still intuiting things that ocurred over this period even now! Lucky for me Psychiatrists didn’t old sway like they do today BUT I BELIEVE THAT THIS WILL CHANGE RAPIDLY. Too many people know that Psychiatry is just rubbish and their reign will come to a sudden stop!

    I can’t see anything other than the three Chakras:- the HEART, THROAT and BROW CHAKRA/3rd Eye – are being enlivened and the disturbance(s) created by this process of enlivenment settles down naturally after a period (10 years or so).

  65. SamSmith

    Seriously John PINK? I have to wonder if perhaps you did not have major depression? At least not like the depression I had where it was nearly impossible to get out of bed, let alone read your way to good mental health. Good luck with your Chakras, I will stick with science and medicine.

  66. Annie B

    @ John Pink ….

    Your comments are interesting to say the least. I think you had a win when you mentioned becoming a ‘Shaman’ to your shrink … he/she obviously HAD to compete with you over that – which illustrates in one of many ways, how these specialists believe themselves to be the be-all, know-all and end-all of their specialty. Of course, I don’t know if he/she said it with tongue in cheek, but my guess is, the shrink found it necessary to compete and try to overcome – to regain dominance.

    Good for you that you have found your own peaceful way of dealing with mental abberrations.

    Many decades ago, I had a serious bout of nephritis, and my doctor (GP) who visited daily with injections of several different anti-biotics, also advised me to meditate on a simple plane ( and I kid you not ) … that of a war going on inside me … good white horses battling bad brown horses inside my body. At first I thought he was quite nuts, but when I started the exercise, I slowly began to feel a lot better – to the extent ( from subsequent blood tests etc. ) that I became well enough, to have a pyelogram ( a nasty experience ) … which I could not have had while my one kidney was so badly infected. My introduction, so simply – to meditation to a specific area.

    There are something like over 100 chakras that belong to, and influence the body. Am pleased to hear you have had relief by concentrating on 3 of them – which I think are among the most important for health. … As for psychiatry, I have had dealings with them myself ( post natal depression which can be serious ) … but from my experiences with them, I would never again cross the doorstep of one of these charlatans. The diagnosis was wrong ( according to my then gynaecologist some time later … “why didn’t you come to see me – it is an intense hormonal fluctuation, easily fixed ” ….. she was furious ) … and this monster who quickly fled the country never to be seen here again, undertook deep sleep therapy on me, which was unlawful, and later was the subject of intense inquiry and legal charges being laid against those who could be caught. ( Chelmsford – NSW was one ). … I have covered this in previous comments.

    I certainly don’t dismiss the necessity of some forms of medical intervention for depression, anxiety etc for some people. The Serotonin re-uptake Inhibitors are helpful – providing a person can tolerate them. Anyone on them must be overseen keenly by their GP. … and it is usually GP’s who prescribe them.

    Good luck in the future – and keep on, keeping on.

  67. Annie B

    @SamSmith …

    While I respect your decision to stick with science and medication, I rather think the AIMN is not the place to diagnose someone elses’ depression or the extent of it. However, the extent of your depression as you have described it, was serious, and I sincerely hope you have passed the worst of that – particularly with the help of medication and maybe some form of professional help ( hopefully only a very good GP ).

    To each his/her own … if there is ANY way a person can begin to overcome despondency, depression, without psychiatric help – it is imho, much better. Again however, I re-iterate, that medication is often necessary for those who can tolerate it well … and it is helpful ( have seen the results dozens of times ) … but psychoanalytic psychotherapy is something to be very wary of as a way of solving problems…. in my opinion. …. Although in ultra serious suicidal cases such as a cousin of mine, specialist intervention is obviously necessary ( sadly ).

    I sincerely hope you have never had to go down that path.

    Cheers … ~~~

  68. John PINK


    It was Major Depression! When I rang the Deputy Manager of the underground coal mine I used to work at and told him that I was going to resign he asked me to come to his office to talk. I reiterated my resignation and he told me that I had just gained the entitlement of a 10 days Sick Leave and that I should take all of this Sick Leave and then inform him of my decision. I told him that I would still resign but at the end of this Sick Leave I realised that I had no other option but to return to work as I needed to support my very young family. I was really fortunate in that this Deputy Manager arranged a job for me where I worked by myself.
    I remember having one Panic Attack at work and these are experienced when the Throat Chakra, which is the most powerful Chakra, is being enlivened. After about a year of working by myself on this underground bin job where all I had to do was smash rocks that got caught on the grizzly (parallel steel bars to stop big rocks tearing the belt conveyor) I was put is The Spare Crew – a half crew of 4 labourers who only did one cut-out a shift. Eventually I was put back in a full crew under normal working conditions.

    The Rehabilitation was long and hard and I remember when my long-term Therapist, a Jungian psychologist, told me – “I’ve got to get you off the drug …. in order to trat you.” I didn’t think that I could do it because I used to live for these twice-daily15mg Seropuel – somehow everything was going tpo be all right after I took each dose! I was scared that my Therapist would discontinue seeing me if I didn’t do as she instructed but I diod it rather easily!

    She suggested I do Dreams in 1-to-1 Therapy and I didn’t take any notice. Later in Art Therapy Class with about half a dozen other patients I witnessed her interpret a Dream of a fellow-patient. I could understand the links between this fellow-patient’s Dream, her Interpretation AND how i perceived this fellow-patient to be. I began investigating Dreams and my Therapist suggested that I Journal them. I also read extensively about Dreams and eventually I branched into Metaphysics and then later into Theosophy (mainly AA Bailey). From this jumble of information I was accumulating, including the exposure to the Jungian Analyst mentoring her and a few of the other psychologists at the centre at which she worked, I was able to work out that I was to be Initiate a Shaman. Her response was the first external confirmation that what I understood was happening to me! I’ve had other incidents like this including one with one of the employees at a bookshop, the “School of Esoteric Sciences”, in Sydney CBD. I was using Bankcard to purchase these mainly AA Bailey books and I suppose that they just looked up the receipts for the titles. Another incident was when the Psychiatrists who locked me up for ‘THOUGHTY CRIMES’ several years ago asked me, “Where did you get the information from?”, in this ‘letter’ I’d written. Another time was when I took these NUT-JOB Psychiatrists to court for ASSAULT, BATTERY and FALSE IMPRISONMENT and the retired psychologist I employed to produce the Expert Evidence for the case asked me to write a SUMMARY – of the information in the ‘letter’ –'letter‘.pdf

    A more updated version of this <initiatoryFRAMEWORK.docx> file is available on the site.

    You indicate that you have experienced Major Depression and I know that for someone to experience a “Severe and Chronic MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM” so, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE THAT’S AMAZING?” –

    Dr. Malidoma SOME says, “in the shamanic view signs of mental illness “signals the birth of a healer” ..”. –

  69. Annie B

    May I thank you John Pink for sharing your story and journey with us. Whatever means of regaining mental health, or coping well with healing, is more than ultra important. And you are doing it.

    I have seriously done Yoga in the past for some years, and still rely very much on a variety of breathing exercises as a way of controlling many things – anxiety / panic ( occasionally ), uninvited worry and general health. It works, but I still have physiological issues to contend with ( age related wearing out of bone structures etc. – which affects many other people ). I am working on those through a form of meditative procedures. It takes time, patience and a resolute outlook. I am interested in the subject of shamanism, but have no desire to go any further than studying some articles / reading in general, on that subject. I have not read any of A.A. Baileys’ theosophical works, but may do one day.

    I realise that you have indeed suffered some major problems with depression. To have been prescribed Seroquel, you must have been suffering mightily. …. until you found another way. Good for you.

    Wishing you all the best ….

  70. John PINK


    Whatever you’re doing is GOOD! Eveyone is an individual AND NOTHING IS MORE BENEFICIAL that what works for you. I tried Yoga, Meditation, ReBirthing, HypnoTherapy and some others too. I learned from each of them and I remember one incident – my first HypnoTherapy session where, all-of-a-sudden, I realised that I was relaxed. This never happened again in HypnoTherapy!!

    I wasn’t all that keen on the HypnoTherapist’s Therapy but I he introduced me to ReBirthing and when the Jungian Analyst (JA), mentoring some of the quite young psychologists at The Psychotherapy Centre of Wollongong (public) Hospital, offered ReBirthing for half the rate for a weekend I tranferred over to the JA. It wasn’t so much that I was attracted to ReBirthing with any of them but it did expose me to some unusual things. Up till then the only psychic experiences I’d had was that I used to imagine an woman a couple of streets over reaching up to hang coat-hangers onto power lines and this (vague) feeling of deja vu (later) when I was in high school walking behind my old Primary School. I had nearly no grounding whatsoever!

    I did the Alpha Mind Training course too and one thing I marvelled at was that the class was encouraged to do these “healings” and under this meditative/relaxation technique the individual members of the class “determined” the correct physical problem in the person they were remotely healing. Of course the person that was representing the injured person could have been lying but I wondered if this was true how it would work?

    Perhaps I have a short attention span and this is why I didn’t stick with the Yoga. What did it for me was Dreams and my research. I understood that the delay/injury to my professional career was ACTUALLY VERY POSITIVE. Without these two together AND my mixing with Jungian Therapist I would never have been able to deduce what was happening to me!

    With respect to the seven Major Chakras in the body the enlivenment of the upper four are involved in the initial initiations. Full enlivenment of the Crown Chakra is necessary for one to approach the 4th initiation – the Physical Component of which is a Near-Death Experience (NDE). The full enlivenment of the Brow Chakra culminates in “the 3 day experience in the belly of the whale” acccording to Bodo BALSYS in the book ISIS UNVEILED. I remember the psychic I had contact with who was also the Reverend of the Spiritualist Church I attended for a short time giving me this psychometric reading, “You will have to cross a desert – but don’t worry you’ll be taken up on a camel”. The next two days I was in deep Depression and the third day the Depresion was only about half that of the previous two days. She invited me to join her “circle” but I was too ill. I didn’t immediately understand what had happened – I perhaps worked it out a year later even though I’d told my Jungian psychologist, “I’m becoming a Shaman.”

    I think that I understood that I passed through these initiations in reverse order. I remembered attending a a Dream Course run by my Therapist. My Dream is in the COMMENT(S) column for the initiatoryFRAMEWORK link on the web-site for the 2nd inititiation. Apparently Group initiations were practiced in Karnak in Pharonic Times.

    For the 1st initiation I painted myself sitting on a white horse whilst I was wearing a white flowing robe like from biblical times. Its known as “birth of Christ consciousness in the cave of the Heart (Chakra).


  71. Annie B

    Thank you John for your in depth comment addressed to me. It is a long journey you have taken, embracing so many facets of determination, empowerment, realisation and healing.

    I did go to the link you provided, and read ( it downloaded as a document ) a 4 page colourful explanation [ in intiatory framework on ] but have to confess I could not understand more than about 3 % of it. Only others who have pursued your courses could possibly know the importance or otherwise, of each link and observation. Sorry – just could not get with that one.

    All the best for the future and continuing good health.

  72. Tim Hickleton

    as someone who worked at a Forensic Mental Health facility until recently i can assure you that ECT is used widely , almost always as a last resort, and for some up to 11 times; all for about one months improvement in alertness and social participation. Psychiatry is absolute bullshit and has no basis in fact via laboratory testing. 95 % of Forensic mental patients are in fact substance abusers with brain injuries,not illnesses, so psychiatrists perform planned chemical lobotomies on them, and countless useless assessments, to keep them all in employment. Never seen them cure anyone.

  73. J, Anderson

    Thank you, from a psychology student. No Bullshit…

  74. anon

    Psychiatry as Bullshit

    Psychiatry is used by corrupt police as strategic tactic – its used by law enforcement to protect their local meth lab drugring, used against people affected by their neighbors and at work from meth lab chemical air pollution

    air pollution contamination is one cause of environment pollution and the australian gov and edu and big pharma hope people are distracted from the other sources of air and environment pollution causing more direct harm to people and environment.

    In metro city and suburbs small scale crystal meth labs hidden in peoples bathrooms garages bedroom closets duct the chemical fumes away from their labs and into their neighbors property and the public space.

    Next time at the rsl pokies ask whats in the air coming through the air con vents at different times of day and night, theres a regular pattern closely related to the different chemicals used to making crystal meth.

    Do your own research on the chemicals used and the process and the many exposure symptoms, skin, cold flu, cancers, etc, and connect the dots yourself.

    Law enforcement police and crime commissions are busy protecting local meth labs in residential and shops and offices.

    If people report it, the police accuse people of mental health issues and force them into mental health facilities with the help of corrupt allied health and corrupt pyschiatrists, pschologists, nurses, social workers.

    Hospitals have hidden meth labs somewhere usually in the high security sections such as mental health facilities, and security backrooms and the fumes get spread through the airconditioning, especially in the ED.

    CSIRO and defence have kept quiet about this for how long?

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