Resisting-Illegitimate-Authority — By Bruce E. Levine

New book: Bruce Levine has been one of my very favorite authors in the world of critical psych for a long time. He’s got a great new book available now. I highly recommend it.

By Bruce E. Levine

For several years, I’ve been thinking about writing Resisting Illegitimate Authority: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian―Strategies, Tools, and Models, a book about anti-authoritarians and for them. Authoritarian is routinely defined as “favoring blind submission to authority.” In contrast, anti-authoritarians reject—for themselves and for others—an unquestioning obedience to authority, and they believe in challenging and resisting illegitimate authority.

One early indication that there was an interest in such a book was the large positive reaction to my 2012 article “Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill” (republished on several different websites, titled on some as “Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein?”). I continue to receive many emails from people feeling validated by it, stating that they believe their anti-authoritarianism—or their child’s—has resulted in mental illness diagnoses.

While none of my previous books have been specifically about authoritarianism and anti-authoritarianism, in retrospect, I realize that virtually all my publications have been geared for anti-authoritarian readers. In early 2017, the anti-authoritarian AK Press invited me to write a book for them, and I thought that the time was right for Resisting Illegitimate Authority.

Anti-authoritarians are a threat to authoritarians because anti-authoritarians don’t provide unquestioning obedience, but instead first assess the legitimacy of authorities—evaluating their knowledge, competence, honesty, integrity, and concern for those people who are trusting them. And if anti-authoritarians determine an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—whether the authority is their parent, teacher, doctor, or government.

Consequently, authoritarians attempt to marginalize anti-authoritarians, who have been scorned, shunned, financially punished, psychopathologized, criminalized, and assassinated. While U.S. society now honors a few deceased anti-authoritarians, these same figures were often marginalized in their own lifetime (for example, Thomas Paine). Today, anti-authoritarians continue to be under great pressure to comply with the status quo, making their survival difficult. For this reason, I thought it would be helpful to provide anti-authoritarians with strategies, tools, and models they could learn from.

My life work has been “depathologizing” noncompliance and rebellion; helping anti-authoritarians survive within authoritarian schools, workplaces, and other environments; assisting those who love anti-authoritarians to better understand them; and helping anti-authoritarians gain hope that while a wise struggle against illegitimate authorities may or may not be victorious, it can lead to a community of fellow anti-authoritarians.

Anti-authoritarians are a highly diverse group whose members include people from all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual preferences, and personalities; and they exist in all walks of life and come in all kinds of temperaments—some extroverted, some introverted, some funny, some serious, and so on. To illustrate this diversity, in Resisting Illegitimate Authority, I profile several famous anti-authoritarians with a lens focused at illuminating their essential anti-authoritarianism and an emphasis on what can be gleaned from their lives. I discuss anti-authoritarians who I have been drawn to because their lives have provided me with lessons about anti-authoritarian tragedy and triumph.

Part Two of Resisting Illegitimate Authority is called “The Assault on U.S. Anti-Authoritarians,” and it includes chapters on the “Criminalization of Anti-Authoritarians”; “Genocide of an Anti-Authoritarian People: Native Americans”; and “Schooling’s Assault on Young Anti-Authoritarians.” Also in Part Two is the chapter “Psychiatric Assault and Marginalization: Not Just Frances Farmer,” a section of which is attached as a pdf here for the readers of this site:  Excerpt-from-Resisting-Illegitimate-Authority-by-Bruce-Levine.

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The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story

By Charles Eisenstein – first published on his site and offered freely via a creative commons copyright. Thank you, Charles.

Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress.

A Clinton Presidency would have offered four more years of that pretense. A woman President following a black President would have meant to many that things are getting better. It would have obscured the reality of continued neoliberal economics, imperial wars, and resource extraction behind a veil of faux-progressive feminism. Now that we have, in the words of my friend Kelly Brogan, rejected a wolf in sheep’s clothing in favor of a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that illusion will be impossible to maintain.

The wolf, Donald Trump (and I’m not sure he’d be offended by that moniker) will not provide the usual sugarcoating on the poison pills the policy elites have foisted on us for the last forty years. The prison-industrial complex, the endless wars, the surveillance state, the pipelines, the nuclear weapons expansion were easier for liberals to swallow when they came with a dose, albeit grudging, of LGBTQ rights under an African-American President.

I am willing to suspend my judgement of Trump and (very skeptically) hold the possibility that he will disrupt the elite policy consensus of free trade and military confrontation – major themes of his campaign. One might always hope for miracles. However, because he apparently lacks any robust political ideology of his own, it is more likely that he will fill his cabinet with neocon war hawks, Wall Street insiders, and corporate reavers, trampling the wellbeing of the working class whites who elected him while providing them their own sugar-coating of social conservatism.

The social and environmental horrors likely to be committed under President Trump are likely to incite massive civil disobedience and possibly disorder. For Clinton supporters, many of whom were halfhearted to begin with, the Trump administration could mark the end of their loyalty to our present institutions of government. For Trump supporters, the initial celebration will collide with gritty reality when Trump proves as unable or unwilling as his predecessors to challenge the entrenched systems that continually degrade their lives: global finance capital, the deep state, and their programming ideologies. Add to this the likelihood of a major economic crisis, and the public’s frayed loyalty to the existing system could snap.

We are entering a time of great uncertainty. Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve. It may seem that the world is falling apart. For many, that process started on election night, when Trump’s victory provoked incredulity, shock, even vertigo. “I can’t believe this is happening!”

At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation. Anyone who disputes the blame narrative may receive more hostility than the opponents themselves, as in wartime when pacifists are more reviled than the enemy.

Racism and misogyny are devastatingly real in this country, but to blame bigotry and sexism for voters’ repudiation of the Establishment is to deny the validity of their deep sense of betrayal and alienation. The vast majority of Trump voters were expressing extreme dissatisfaction with the system in the way most readily available to them. (See here, here, here, here) Millions of Obama voters voted for Trump (six states who went for Obama twice switched to Trump). Did they suddenly become racists in the last four years? The blame-the-racists (the fools, the yokels…) narrative generates a clear demarcation between good (us) and evil (them), but it does violence to the truth. It also obscures an important root of racism – anger displaced away from an oppressive system and its elites and onto other victims of that system. Finally, it employs the same dehumanization of the other that is the essence of racism and the precondition for war. Such is the cost of preserving a dying story. That is one reason why paroxysms of violence so often accompany a culture-defining story’s demise.

The dissolution of the old order that is now officially in progress is going to intensify. That presents a tremendous opportunity and danger, because when normal falls apart the ensuing vacuum draws in formerly unthinkable ideas from the margins. Unthinkable ideas range from rounding up the Muslims in concentration camps, to dismantling the military-industrial complex and closing down overseas military bases. They range from nationwide stop-and-frisk to replacing criminal punishment with restorative justice. Anything becomes possible with the collapse of dominant institutions. When the animating force behind these new ideas is hate or fear, all manner of fascistic and totalitarian nightmares can ensue, whether enacted by existing powers or those that arise in revolution against them.

That is why, as we enter a period of intensifying disorder, it is important to introduce a different kind of force to animate the structures that might appear after the old ones crumble. I would call it love if it weren’t for the risk of triggering your New Age bullshit detector, and besides, how does one practically bring love into the world in the realm of politics? So let’s start with empathy. Politically, empathy is akin to solidarity, born of the understanding that we are all in this together. In what together? For starters, we are in the uncertainty together.

We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead. Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we’d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt. For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer. Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths (Putin!), wandering aimlessly from “doctrine” to “doctrine” – and they have no idea what to do. Their haplessness and half-heartedness was plain to see in this election, their disbelief in their own propaganda, their cynicism. When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, you know its days are numbered. It is a shell with no engine, running on habit and momentum.

We are entering a space between stories. After various retrograde versions of a new story rise and fall and we enter a period of true unknowing, an authentic next story will emerge. What would it take for it to embody love, compassion, and interbeing? I see its lineaments in those marginal structures and practices that we call holistic, alternative, regenerative, and restorative. All of them source from empathy, the result of the compassionate inquiry: What is it like to be you?

It is time now to bring this question and the empathy it arouses into our political discourse as a new animating force. If you are appalled at the election outcome and feel the call of hate, perhaps try asking yourself, “What is it like to be a Trump supporter?” Ask it not with a patronizing condescension, but for real, looking underneath the caricature of misogynist and bigot to find the real person.

Even if the person you face IS a misogynist or bigot, ask, “Is this who they are, really?” Ask what confluence of circumstances, social, economic, and biographical, may have brought them there. You may still not know how to engage them, but at least you will not be on the warpath automatically. We hate what we fear, and we fear what we do not know. So let’s stop making our opponents invisible behind a caricature of evil.

We’ve got to stop acting out hate. I see no less of it in the liberal media than I do in the right-wing. It is just better disguised, hiding beneath pseudo-psychological epithets and dehumanizing ideological labels. Exercising it, we create more of it. What is beneath the hate? My acupuncturist Sarah Fields wrote to me, “Hate is just a bodyguard for grief. When people lose the hate, they are forced to deal with the pain beneath.”

I think the pain beneath is fundamentally the same pain that animates misogyny and racism – hate in a different form. Please stop thinking you are better than these people! We are all victims of the same world-dominating machine, suffering different mutations of the same wound of separation. Something hurts in there. We live in a civilization that has robbed nearly all of us of deep community, intimate connection with nature, unconditional love, freedom to explore the kingdom of childhood, and so much more. The acute trauma endured by the incarcerated, the abused, the raped, the trafficked, the starved, the murdered, and the dispossessed does not exempt the perpetrators. They feel it in mirror image, adding damage to their souls atop the damage that compels them to violence. Thus it is that suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S. military. Thus it is that addiction is rampant among the police. Thus it is that depression is epidemic in the upper middle class. We are all in this together.

Something hurts in there. Can you feel it? We are all in this together. One earth, one tribe, one people.

We have entertained teachings like these long enough in our spiritual retreats, meditations, and prayers. Can we take them now into the political world and create an eye of compassion inside the political hate vortex? It is time to do it, time to up our game. It is time to stop feeding hate. Next time you post on line, check your words to see if they smuggle in some form of hate: dehumanization, snark, belittling, derision.., some invitation to us versus them. Notice how it feels kind of good to do that, like getting a fix. And notice what hurts underneath, and how it doesn’t feel good, not really. Maybe it is time to stop.

This does not mean to withdraw from political conversation, but to rewrite its vocabulary. It is to speak hard truths with love. It is to offer acute political analysis that doesn’t carry the implicit message of “Aren’t those people horrible?” Such analysis is rare. Usually, those evangelizing compassion do not write about politics, and sometimes they veer into passivity. We need to confront an unjust, ecocidal system. Each time we do we will receive an invitation to give in to the dark side and hate the deplorables. We must not shy away from those confrontations. Instead, we can engage them empowered by the inner mantra that my friend Pancho Ramos-Stierle uses in confrontations with his jailers: “Brother, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this work.” If we can stare hate in the face and never waver from that knowledge, we will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement, and hold a compelling invitation to the haters to fulfill their beauty.

Image: Creative Commons – picture by Abhi Ryan

More posts that feature Charles Eisenstein’s work:

See also: Information and inspiration for the chronically ill

Charles Eisenstein holds a Creative Commons Copyright.
Feel free to copy and share.

The politics of food, nutrition, vegan, paleo, etc. etc.

food politics1I mindfully use diet and food and herbs to heal my body/mind/spirit. Natural healing depends on it, but the information out there is sometimes very difficult to navigate. Below are some tweets I wrote in response to my last research quest when trying to figure out how to address a nutritional imbalance I’m dealing with.

So these are the tweets I shared. I cleaned them up and clarified a little for this post:

Almost all nutrition information is ideologically skewed in one direction or another…it’s a jungle out there.

The only direction I give people at this point is whole real food that is grown as naturally as possible…and listen to your body.

it’s really maddening. I don’t really believe anything I read anymore. You really need to look at source information for yourself.

but even studies are really deeply muddied and biased…too many issues not controlled for at all nor considered once the analysis is made.

I do believe the feedback my body gives me.

So, yes, once I do all the research I can, in the end, my body lets me know what it needs. I’ve written the below about the veggie and meat-eating divide in the past…because, that, of course, is where the biggest ideological issues come up.

In our society today whether people eat animal products or not is a hot issue. I would prefer not to eat meat but have found that at times I must. I’ve also found that I’m intolerant of dairy and eggs, so that leaves only meat and fish to get those particular nutrients. I have found others like me in my community with similar physical ailments who have found that animal products are essential. I’ve experimented heavily with purely vegetarian methods of nourishing myself without meat since I deeply value the lives of animals and have failed. This choice does not come without pain. I’m always happy for those who find they can thrive without animal products and I certainly don’t begrudge those who can. I hope someday to regain enough health that I might be able to once again carefully tweak most if not all the meat out of my diet. I write explicitly about this issue because we are all different and people need to find what works for both their body and their spirit together. Sometimes the needs of the body and the needs of the spirit seem to conflict. Such is life. Never simple. I take comfort in the fact that all of nature eats itself and I’m blessed with a consciousness that can recognize that I am part of this web of life, complicated and lovely as it is.

I’ve considered the meat/veggie divide a whole lot. It’s a constant balancing act and I do minimize animal products as much as possible. I wrote this little blurb for friends recently.

As long as vegans run the risk of getting deficient in certain very important nutrients (B12 and Omega3s) for example (without supplementation) you will not convince me that we don’t need animal products at least some of the time. I, for example, don’t tolerate supplements…I also have a vegan sensibility for the most part but I won’t sacrifice my health. So I look for the best alternatives. Walking on the planet as lightly as possible is always my goal while understanding myself as an animal that is part of the life’s eco-system. I had a cricket flour bar for breakfast this morning…very high in b12!!

So, yeah. Not a very popular idea, but wow, the cricket power bar was darn good. And at least at our farmer’s market here in Asheville, NC there is lots of interest and people are happy to eat the tasty bar. Frankly it wouldn’t take much effort to get the next generation completely comfortable eating insects. All it takes is giving our toddlers these sorts of yummy treats and telling them “yum, cricket flour is awesome.” We are all highly programmable and the only reason we think insects are gross is because we didn’t grow up eating them. Many indigenous cultures eat insects.

Here’s a small excerpt from an article about how insects are smart food:

Compare the nutritional value of insects to beef and even fish and it’s pretty clear which one is the smart food. While having protein levels on par with caterpillars, lean ground beef and cod come up short in iron and vitamin levels. Crickets also contain a lot of calcium, which we know is good for bone development. Besides nutritional value, insects are also abundant and environmentally sustainable. Farming and harvesting insects takes very little water and transport fuel compared to livestock, grains and even vegetables. It’s also more efficient than raising cattle. One hundred pounds of feed produces 10 pounds of beef. The same amount of feed would produce more than four times that amount in crickets (source National Geographic). If America and Europe got on board, insects could help to provide a sustainable food source for the future. (read more)

I’m serious about supporting our planet and minimizing suffering. I’d like to see the end of factory farms NOW.  The abject cruelty that animals are subjected to is a hideous stain upon humanity. And everyone who eats factory farmed animals is complicit. (and yes, the fact that insects too are sentient beings is not lost on me. I am someone who captures and releases spiders and bugs in my home. I do not kill them with some exceptions when it becomes pretty impossible to do otherwise. Still I’d like to support the love and care of mammals and birds and the end of factory farms with the intent to walk as lightly as possible)

Eating wholesome whole real food is important for body/mind/spirit health and well-being. I’ve written a lot about my adventure with diet and healing here:  Nutrition and gut health, Mental health and diet

And you can find more Foodie posts and recipes here.

Support Beyond Meds. Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. THANK YOU or make a donation with PayPal

Our problem is civil-OBEDIENCE (Matt Damon reads Howard Zinn)

mattMatt Damon, a lifelong friend of Howard Zinn and his family, read excerpts from a speech Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience.

Here we see that normal isn’t something to aim for…

The struggling self is one that is aiming to be true.

normalThe problem of selfishness has a particular bearing on psychotherapy. The neurotic individual often is selfish in the sense that he is blocked in his relationship to others or overanxious about himself. This is to be expected since to be neurotic means that the integration of a strong self has not been achieved successfully. To be normal certainly does not mean that it has. It means, for the majority of well-adapted individuals that they have lost their own self at an early age and replaced it completely by a social self offered to them by society. They have no neurotic conflicts because they themselves, and, therefore, the discrepancy between their selves and the outside world has disappeared. Often the neurotic person is particularly unselfish, lacking in self-assertion and blocked in following his own aims. The reason for this unselfishness is essentially the same as for the selfishness. What he is practically always lacking is self-love. This is what he needs to become well. If the neurotic becomes well, he does not become normal in the sense of the conforming social self. He succeeds in realising his self, which never had been completely lost and for the preservation of which he was struggling by his neurotic symptoms. A theory, therefore, as Freud’s on narcissism which rationalises the cultural pattern of denouncing self-love by identifying it with selfishness, can have but devastating effects therapeutically. It increases the taboo on self-love. Its effects can only be called positive if the aim of psychotherapy is not to help the individual to be himself; that is, free, spontaneous and creative – qualities conventionally reserved for artists – but to give up the fight for his self and conform to the cultural pattern peacefully and without the noise of a neurosis.  — Erich Fromm  from Selfishness and love

More on Rethinking Normal with RD Laing

Because remember:

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. — Jiddu Krishnamurti

Mental Illness as Rebellion Against Society

From Mad in America, another must read by Bruce Levine:

Why the Dramatic Rise of Mental Illness? Diseasing Normal Behaviors, Drug Adverse Effects, and a Peculiar Rebellion

an excerpt:

Mental Illness as Rebellion Against Society

The most deadly criticism one could make of modern civilization is that apart from its man-made crises and catastrophes, is not humanly interesting. . . . In the end, such a civilization can produce only a mass man: incapable of spontaneous, self-directed activities: at best patient, docile, disciplined to monotonous work to an almost pathetic degree. . . . Ultimately such a society produces only two groups of men: the conditioners and the conditioned, the active and passive barbarians.—Lewis Mumford, 1951

 Once it was routine for many respected social critics such as Lewis Mumford and Erich Fromm to express concern about the impact of modern civilization on our mental health. But today the idea that the mental illness epidemic is also being caused by a peculiar rebellion against a dehumanizing society has been, for the most part, removed from the mainstream map. When a societal problem grows to become all encompassing, we often no longer even notice it. (read the rest at Mad in America)

More of Bruce Levine’s work on Beyond Meds:
bruce

People are told they are “disordered” when in fact, it is in society that true disorder lies

lauraIn turning emotional pain into a “symptom” of “mental illness”, we lose the ability to grow, to transform, and to see ourselves as part of a larger human context rife with trauma and oppression, whether it be racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, malnutrition, social and cultural pressure, competition, violence, isolation, marginalization, and the ever-increasing loss of community. A psychiatric label is inherently dehumanizing because it claims— with absolutely no valid biological evidence— that the so-called “problem” lies in an individual’s brain as a “life-long psychiatric condition” requiring “life-long treatment”. What a presumptuous and unfounded proclamation! To tell a person they are “disordered” for life, when in fact, it is in society that our true disorder lies, is one of our gravest, most perpetrated acts of existential violence. I am grateful that I can see my emotional pain today as an important, meaningful human experience that will never again be reduced to psychiatric pathology. Indeed, I believe that it is important for us to feel our emotional pain, and to see it as a gift to learn from, both individually and collectively, for it is our healthiest response to this crazy world, and it is telling us something important. — Laura Delano, first on Facebook

I share the understanding Laura shares above and have often considered the statement, “You can’t heal what you don’t feel” one of my guiding mantras. Hence it has been a long time practice now to embrace what is that I might heal myself and in so doing, the world around me.

I think too Krishnamurti’s brilliant quote is called for here too:

It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

Bio: Laura Delano was first labeled “mentally ill” at the age of fourteen, when she was told she had “Bipolar disorder” and was subsequently put on Depakote and Prozac. After fighting back in high school, she eventually surrendered to the diagnosis as a freshman in college, when she embraced her psychiatric label and the belief that she needed “meds”. Laura spent the next ten years on nineteen psychiatric drugs, in and out of locked wards, outpatient programs, and intensive psychotherapy, and believed she had a life-long biochemical “disease” requiring life-long “treatment”— a belief that led her to hopelessness, isolation, and suicide. Since September 2010, she has been free from psychiatric labels and psychotropic drugs, and she firmly believes that the human experience should never be pathologized. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts, is a blogger, editor, and consultant at Mad in America, where she has been writing about her thirteen-year journey into and out of the mental health system, and coaches people who are coming off of psychotropic drugs and reclaiming their identity from psychiatry.

See Laura at Occupy the APA

What do we have to be afraid of and who is to blame?

There is NO VOLUME until minute 14. So just go straight to minute 14. The picture went out for me too, but you can listen to the wonderful talk anyway.

Her message today in a nutshell:

Our capacity for whole-heartedness can never be greater than our willingness to have our heart broken. 

She brings up new issues. In particular: what do we have to be afraid about and who is to blame? Good stuff to think about as usual.

 

Dr Brené Brown has spent the past twelve years carrying out ground-breaking research into vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

A best-selling author and award-winning educator, Dr Brown’s books and talks have been hugely influential in tackling the myth that vulnerability is a weakness.

She argues that it is only by embracing vulnerability and imperfection that we can live life with courage and authenticity. Recognising and acting on this insight has the power to transform the way we engage in our families, organisations, schools and communities.

Other posts with Brené Brown on Beyond Meds:

To see the talks from Ted and commentary from Beyond Meds see  these posts:

â—Ź  We numb vulnerability — “We numb vulnerability…we are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history.”

●  Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior


breneBooks by Brené Brown:

â—Ź  The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

●  Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

â—Ź  I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”

Redefining mental illness — Robert Whitaker and Allen Frances on Al Jazeera TV (video included)

There is also an accompanying article on Al Jazeera’s website here: Redefining Mental Illness

al jazeeraKnown as the bible of psychiatry, the DSM or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the most influential guide for helping doctors define what a mental illness is. But it has sparked a backlash among some respected psychiatrists in the United States who say the new guidelines are turning normal behaviour into illness, and will lead to the medication of patients that should not be.

h/t Mad in America

Mostly recent articles about the DSM on Beyond Meds:  DSM5 the latest news and happenings…collected

Also check out and read Robert Whitaker’s work if you’ve not done so:

●  Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

●  Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill

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