By Peter R. Breggin, MD
January 17, 2013
The history of psychiatry has been one of egregious abuses against its patients. The several-hundred year history of the state mental hospital system is proof of that. Until the states found the giant lockups too expensive and began arbitrarily throwing the inmates out, millions of people were deprived of their liberty and all human amenities, humiliated, abused, and finally tortured with treatments like lobotomy, insulin comma, and shock treatment. The only reason we don’t have thousands of lobotomies being perpetrated yearly in America today is that I took several years out of my life to fight against organized psychiatry to stop the return of psychosurgery in the early 1970s.
Psychiatry has always sought increasing control over its patients and resisted any attempt to increase patient rights. Although the size of the state hospitals has declined, organized psychiatry has found another way to treat people against their will. Untold numbers of citizens in 44 states are subjected to outpatient commitment. They can live in their own homes and walk about in the community, but if they don’t show up at the clinic for their regular long-acting shots of brain-paralyzing antipsychotic drugs, they can be forced back into the hospital or thrown down and injected with drugs inside their homes.
In the last several decades, psychiatry has joined forces with the pharmaceutical industry and the result is the mass drugging of adults and children. With a huge influx of money from the drug companies, psychiatry has enormously increased its influence in the government and society.
I previously have written a blog describing the already enormous capacity of psychiatry to lock up people against their will. In a feature that will follow this one on these pages of naturalnews.com, I will describe the history of psychiatry’s thirst for power and the abuses it has perpetrated. Now President Obama’s executive orders require me to stop for a moment to examine how these orders, heavily influenced by the Psychopharmaceutical Complex, will continue to swell the power of psychiatry and the drug industry.
President Obama issued a set of 23 executive orders Jan. 16, 2013 that vastly empower psychiatry. This great expansion of psychiatric authority and power will ensure that organized psychiatry and the mental health establishment will not resist other presidential executive orders that greatly impair the free and effective practice of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and all of healthcare.
Order 23 is “Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.” Even more than the “Decade of the Brain,” from the 1990’s, this new dialogue will push power to psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. The dialogue will be a national PR campaign on behalf of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry.
Executive orders number 20-23 are another psychiatric marketing dream come true. Number 20 orders, “Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.” Number 21 directs, “Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA [Affordable Care Act] exchanges.” The Affordable Care Act is Obamacare, and the exchanges are the health insurance exchanges that are supposed to be established under the ACA. And Order 22 states, “Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.”
Before you imagine that these three commandments will make counseling and psychotherapy more available and affordable, think of Medicare or Medicaid. We will have more coverage for psychiatric drug prescriptions and for 5 or 10 minute med checks, the financial staples of the drug companies and psychiatry. The above three orders to enforce parity ensure a growing psychiatric establishment in America.
Order number 2 will break open to the feds the accumulating and soon to be vast federal data system for personal medical records: “Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.” Another order, number 4, will broaden the categories of individuals who can be investigated and whose privacy can be invaded. It orders, “Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.”
If you think that this destruction of privacy within American healthcare will end with providing information for gun ownership background checks, you are simply unrealistic. This kind of power does nothing but make itself grow at every possible opportunity.
Two other Presidential executive orders move us yet closer to turning the healthcare system into a spy network. Number 16 directs, “Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes” and number 17 orders, “Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.”
The last two directives have immediately undermined whatever privacy protections there were under federal HIPAA regulations, which were established federally to protect individual patient privacy. What the President now permits with his orders will soon be codified into law. Doctors and other health care providers will be burdened with spy duties, gathering information on gun possession and reporting anyone suspected by them of being potentially violent.
For those who do not practice psychiatry, I can confirm that any given time I will usually be treating at least one person who is potentially violent and perhaps two or three. In my entire career, not one of my patients has committed a serious act of violence, but that’s in part because my patients feel relatively free to discuss their violent feelings with me. All of that has been changed overnight by Obama’s executive orders. As of now, potential patients will begin to realize that President Obama has given the word to healthcare providers that they are under a moral, if not a legal obligation to start reporting potential violence. He’s made clear that it’s a public safety necessity for them to do so.
During the time I’ve been in practice since 1968, laws have come into place requiring a variety of healthcare providers and educators, depending on the state, to report any suspicion or threat of child abuse. These laws are well intended and probably work well in school settings where teachers can observe children with bruises or other signs of abuse. But in the practice of medicine and in particular psychiatry and psychotherapy, patients no longer talk to their healthcare providers about it when they feel afraid that they might commit abuses against children. I specifically remember, before these laws were active, talking with my patients about their abusive fantasies or tendencies, and helping them to overcome them. That doesn’t happen anymore. Individuals struggling with a compulsion to commit child abuse no longer talk about it with healthcare providers.
The following can easily happen in psychotherapy and has happened to me on several occasions. A patient is suicidal, so you naturally ask if they have access to a gun. In one case, the patient actually gave me his gun, which I gave to the police, and he did not commit suicide. On another occasion, a very suicidal patient, following my urging to dispose of his gun, dismantled and destroyed his weapon. Commonly families of suicidal patients are asked to remove guns from the home of patients struggling with suicidal or violent feelings.
Now imagine this alternative scenario: A patient has a gun, and is suicidal, but is afraid to tell his therapist for fear the therapist will write it down or worse, report him to the authorities. He keeps the existence of the gun a secret, never gets to discuss it, which creates a much greater possibility that he will end up shooting himself.
Psychiatry and the mental health establishment will not resist Obama’s call for doctors to police their patients. Psychiatry has never favored any efforts to increase the rights of citizens or patients. For example, it has fought all attempts to give patients the right to refuse treatment. It has supported laws to force outpatients to take drugs even when released to live in the community. Psychiatry has never shied away from taking on more power. It actively seeks increasing power and authority. The President is handing so much more power to psychiatry through these executive orders that my colleagues will never bite the hand that is feeding them by criticizing any of his policies.
Welcome to the new Orwellian world of psychiatry and psychotherapy.
Originally published in Natural News.