When “Patients” Attack
By O. Douglas
What goes through the mind of the “patient” when he attacks his psychiatrist, the abusive sadist in the white coat? Before we consider this question, it is imperative that we understand why coercive psychiatry is a form of torture. Coercive psychiatry is torture because it is administered against the wishes of the “patient.” The “treatments” of coercive psychiatry are forced onto the “patient” even when they cause great physical pain and mental anguish. The victim is forced to take certain “medicines” or undergo electroshock therapy, even when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that these poisons are treating any underlying psychopathology, but causing significantly more harm than good as the vast majority of the evidence clearly indicates. This torture has only one end in view: the patient must accept the core tenets of biological psychiatry by genuflecting before his torturer and ritualistically confessing that he is “mentally ill.” He must submit to the whims of the torturer in the white coat, even remaining a permanent “mental health” consumer of the products manufactured by the money-hungry psychopharmaceutical industry. This is the essence of psychiatric torture: The psychiatrist is a torturer who maims and ultimately kills his “patients” on behalf of the state. As an employee of the state, he is rewarded handsomely for the many acts of sadistic cruelty he perpetrates against society's most helpless, vulnerable and unwanted members.
Because there is no rational, moral or scientific justification for any psychiatric practice, everything done in the name of psychiatry is inherently abusive. If the practice of psychiatry is to physically and psychologically abuse the “patient,” then it follows that those who practice psychiatry are remorseless abusers, sadistic torturers who take delight in their “work.” They force their so-called “treatments” on their victims, in complete defiance of their objections. The psychiatric torturer does not care about what damage his “treatment” causes or how many lives he has destroyed. All that matters to the torturer is that he receives his government paycheck in exchange for the force feeding of neuroleptic pills, toxic poisons designed to ensure the manageability and compliance of the “patient.” This always results in the infliction of incalculable pain and suffering upon the hapless victim, generally in the form of brain damage and neurological disease. Although this iatrogenic destruction of the “patient” increases his overall docility by turning him into a mindless zombie, this is accomplished by means of the simultaneous destruction of brain tissue, which chemically lobotomizes the “patient” to the point of oblivion.
The psychiatric torturer is not bound by any Hippocratic Oath or Declaration of Geneva. Indeed, his job is an ideological one, albeit one driven by financial incentive: to restore the “patient” to supposedly “normal” functioning regardless of the cost. Because the “patient” exists as an object that must be “cured,” he is a means to an end. Following the psychiatrist's tortuous train of logical reasoning, it is necessarily inferred that the “patient's” behavior is symptomatic of some underlying mental disease in its advanced stages. The “patient” can no longer be taken seriously. Because of this assumption, everything about the inmate, even the most brute facts of his existence as a physical creature, is viewed as pathological. Therefore, the inmate cannot object to the tortures inflicted on him by his so-called “caregivers.”
In relation to his “patients,” the psychiatric torturer is the “great white father,” the hero and savior of his very own tribe of aboriginal peoples reduced to a state of abject dependency. He is the omniscient patriarch who can do no wrong. The inmates' inability to object to the tender ministrations of the psychiatric torturer lends a veneer of legitimacy to this regime of pseudo-medical paternalism. The psychiatrist is a “real” doctor after all, or so goes the standard psychiatric reasoning. He can do no wrong because he supposedly embodies what the social order considers moral and therefore is elevated above and beyond all moral condemnation. By assuming the mantle of a “real” doctor, defined in this context as one sworn to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and dispensing “real,” empirically verifiable medical treatments, the psychiatrist assumes the role of healer. However, the psychiatrist is no healer and psychiatry is really just another bogus pseudoscience, like alchemy, ufology or parapsychology.
When the psychiatrist inflicts damage on his “patient” he calls it “healing.” By psychologically scarring the “patient” for life, he is supposedly restoring him to “normal” functioning. The ultimate “cure” of an individual who is really both physiologically and psychologically healthy is severe brain damage and neurological disease, the end result of prolonged neuroleptic drug use, and long-lasting iatrogenic PTSD. This needless destruction of human lives ensures a steady supply of jobs and salaries for workers in the psychiatric establishment for a long time to come. This is a clear and decisive win-win for all proponents of coercive psychiatry. There is a powerful economic incentive to completely destroy the “patient” through “curing” him. After all, no money was ever made on preserving the “mental health” of a nation's citizenry.
The psychiatrist is ultimately a destroyer. Everything he touches, he destroys; when he counsels his so-called “patient,” he destroys; when he administers his drug and shock therapies, he destroys; when he attempts to “discipline” the inmate by physically restraining and forcibly drugging him, he destroys. The psychiatrist is a bringer of death. “I am become death, the shatterer of worlds,” said physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1945, after the first successful test of an A-bomb in the New Mexico desert. He was quoting the words of the god Krishna, addressed to the warrior Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita. This saying could be easily appropriated by any psychiatrist who, when given the chance, acts as the supreme author of his so-called “patient's” ultimate demise.
The psychiatrist is a rapist. He steals the victim's body, the only thing he really owns in this world, and uses it for his own experimental purposes. He has him seized by guards, stripped naked and, in an ultimate act of humiliating sexual violation, inserts the fluids of a hypodermic syringe into the inner sanctum of his only possession. This brutal act of rape, which is even more sexual than vaginal rape because of the sadistic and in some cases sadomasochistic element involved, is even more destructive, because not only is the victim's body being invaded, but also his mind as well.
In addition to being a state-sanctioned rapist and torturer, the psychiatrist is also a murderer of souls; he commits spiritual murder as preparation for physical murder, the end result of all institutional coercive psychiatric practice. His murders are justified because he has been bought and paid for by the state. He can do no wrong because the paycheck he receives from the government says he can do no wrong. When the psychiatrist forces his “treatments” onto his victims, he destroys who they are, including their basic identities as human beings, replacing the “patient's” humanity with a zombiefied and automatized version of himself, the end result of cognitive deterioration facilitated through drug-induced brain damage and neurological disease.
The modern psychiatrist is a living, breathing, walking stereotype. Like his western counterpart, the Soviet psychiatrist was also a murderer of souls. He force-fed his victims the neuroleptic Haldol. Through the coercive administration of this neuroleptic poison, he nursed his patients back to his vision of health, purging them of all emotional attachments and finally destroying their most precious possession, their minds, the seat of all that defines the human personality. Even though grown men fell down upon their knees, wept copiously and tearfully pleaded with their psychiatric torturers, they still had to open their mouths to receive the noxious poison as if it were the holy wafer of the Catholic communion. The prospect of being forced to undergo additional rounds of punitive psychiatry for any act of refusal was a scene that was much too terrible for them to contemplate. Their crime was the unforgivable crime, the denial of the officially sanctioned version of reality which, in this case, was the Soviet version of Marxism. This is the crime of the mental “patient” in all societies where institutional psychiatry thrives as an established mechanism of social control and repression of deviance.
Thus, by virtue of practicing his profession, the psychiatrist becomes abuser, torturer, rapist and murderer rolled up in one. The psychiatrist is the consummate terrorist, albeit one who hides behind the genteel-seeming mask of pseudo-medical paternalism.
Because the psychiatrist has been appointed by the state as the arbiter of what is normal and what is pathological, he is arrogant. He privileges those subjectivities most in accord with that version of reality most sanctioned by the dominant culture, but denigrates those subjectivities that least accord with it. This allows him to play god, at least with those who belong to the disenfranchised lower socio-economic orders of society, the only segment of the population targeted by the institutional web of coercive psychiatry. Among the many crimes the psychiatrist is guilty of, one of these is the great crime of hubris, that foolish overconfidence in one's abilities and accomplishments that directly challenged the gods of ancient Greece and advertised to the world the offender's eventual downfall.
Objectifying the “patient” as an abstract collection of symptoms that must be “cured” allows the psychiatrist to dismiss everything the “patient” does or says with the greatest of ease. Everything he says or does must be viewed as symptomatic of some underlying psychopathology. Therefore, the psychiatrist assumes that if the “patient” were rational he would agree with his views as to the scientific validity and efficacy of his so-called bogus “treatments.” This assumption becomes the justification for his paternalism. The psychiatrist knows what's in the best interests of his “patient” even when he disagrees with him and when there's absolutely no proof whatsoever that the prescribed “treatments” are correcting any underlying psychopathology.
It's when the “patient,” forced into the role of “patient” by his torturer, is confronted with the impenetrable blindness of his psychiatrist that he is forced to resist this never-ending stream of abusive psychiatric treatment. The arrogance, the infantilizing paternalism, the callousness and remorselessness of the psychiatrist in the face of suffering – all of these are the essential ingredients needed to light the fuse under the powder keg, forcing the “patient” to confront the psychiatric establishment using its own language, the language of brute force.
In a sense, the psychiatrist is his own worst enemy. He laughs at death when he ignores the tears of his victims. He throws caution to the wind when he tramples upon the rights of his so-called “patients.” Because violence is the language of psychiatry, the psychiatrist would be a fool not to expect that his tender ministrations would one day be met with the violent retribution he most deserves when he least expects it. As with psychiatry, like any other discipline that specializes in the brutal domination of others, the old biblical injunction still holds good: “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Through the practice of psychiatry, the psychiatrist openly invites his victim to attack him. And how can his victim be expected to respond when his many tearful objections are arrogantly dismissed by his torturer as so many symptoms of brain disease?
The “patient” rarely attacks his torturers spontaneously and without having to endure significant provocation. When he does strike back, it is after months, even years of having to endure relentless physical and psychological abuse. As he is systematically infantilized and degraded, he slowly realizes that a great wrong is being committed against his person. His fundamental democratic freedoms and human rights are daily violated by his torturers without the slightest compunction. His humanity is gradually, yet systematically trampled under foot and ritualistically spat upon by his “helpers.” Eventually the so-called “medical” justification for his “treatment” becomes nothing more than a series of hollow-sounding cliches. His tearful objections to the psychiatric intervention of his “helpers” are more cogent and more rational than any of the shallow pseudo-medical justificatory rhetoric used by his torturers to rationalize their abuse of his body and soul. When these excuses slowly melt away, there is nothing holding the victim back from lashing out at his psychiatric torturers.
The psychiatrist's denial of his “patient's” rational autonomous agency, the very core of his humanity, is a direct attack on the “patient's” status as a human being. As a “patient,” he has no rights or humanity worth acknowledging or respecting. Even the black slaves of the antebellum South were treated with more kindness than he ever was or will be. But even this comparison is much too charitable. The psychiatrist would never treat his dog the way he treats his “patients,” essentially as beings of a lower order who deserve to be subjected to the most brutal physical and psychological torture for the most trivial infractions. As the inmate slowly comes to grips with the brutality of his “treatment,” his rage increases. The fact that the psychiatrist shows absolutely no remorse whatsoever for having inflicted such gratuitous, sadistic cruelties on the inmate only adds more fuel to the fires of the “patient's” smoldering rage. Eventually the breaking point is reached. He cannot endure any more of the psychiatrist's arrogant contempt of his humanity.
He does not want to be force-fed more drugs or forcibly electroshocked; he does not want to be stripped naked, forcibly drugged and tossed into the “hole” for some trivial infraction, where he is forced to urinate and defecate in a box on the floor as if he were a caged animal; he does not want to be treated as a toddler or spoken down to with an air of condescension. To infantilize a grown man is to directly assail and denigrate his humanity. It is to say that he is less than human. Infantilization is an affirmation of the subject’s status as an animal, or as an object. In order to redeem himself and remind himself of his humanity he must say “No!” to his oppressors. He resists the Manicheanism of the psychiatric world, where the psychiatrist is “good” and the psychiatric inmate is “bad.” This Manicheanism constitutes the ideological basis of the psychiatric justification of force as a means of “curing” the “patient” of whatever supposedly ails him.
The psychiatrist has exposed the inmate to a world of pure violence, which now rules over and dominates his existence. The psychiatrist has taught the inmate a new language, that of pure force. However, in order to liberate himself from psychiatric slavery, the “patient” must appropriate this language of violence. The Manichean world-view of psychiatry is ultimately dehumanizing and turns the inmate into a child, a wild beast, an object. The “patient” is conceived of using infantile or objectifying terms. It is only when the inmate strikes back at his psychiatric torturers that he regains his humanity. When he defends himself against the physical and psychological abuse of his attacker, he tells him loudly and clearly that he is not an animal or an object. He demands to be treated as a human being. Through his demand to be treated as a human being, he realizes that he is no different from the psychiatrist. Although the psychiatric torturer, in his arrogance and ignorance, sincerely believes that he is “better” than his so-called “patient,” he too is also a man, with the same beating heart and the same skin as his much despised “patient.”
“The psychiatrist is no different from myself,” reasons the “patient.” He continues: “I will no longer allow him to humiliate and degrade me by abusing my mind and my body. I will no longer cower in submission at his threats of forced electroshock and forced drugging. I am ready to fight this harbinger of death, this bringer of destruction.” Indeed, if he does not fight, he automatically surrenders his humanity to his psychiatric oppressors. Objects do not rebel; children do not fight back, but men do. Only men resist the tyranny of their aggressors. In the case of psychiatry, which is violence incarnate, only a greater violence can neutralize it. Hence, the inmate, whose task it is to resist psychiatric oppression, must do everything in his power to put an end to the physical and psychological abuse of his tormentor. The more violently he responds to the abuse of his tormentor, the less likely his abuser will continue to inflict physical and psychological punishment on the inmate. Through violence, the inmate liberates himself from the clutches of the psychiatric establishment. This act of liberation allows him to live a life of freedom behind prison walls.
For the inmate, the act of self-defense is a point of no return. He cannot go back. The inmate must go forward. Because psychiatry is pure violence, with coercion as its most fundamental ingredient, only violence can lead to freedom from its tyrannical grip.
Through resisting his torturer, the inmate purifies and cleanses himself. He ceases to be the “patient” of psychiatric fantasy by recovering his own humanity for himself. The inmate no longer despises himself as a defective human being in need of pharmacotherapeutic “treatment,” a view of himself he has been coerced into accepting by his psychiatric tormentors. Through resisting the violence inflicted upon him by his psychiatric abusers, he regains his sense of dignity and self-worth. Yesterday, he was regarded as a child, an animal, a “thing.” But today, with the psychiatrist’s face smeared in his own blood, he has become a man, but not just any man. He has become a free man who now terrifies his tormentors, those cowardly abusers long accustomed to dealing with the debased psychiatric slaves of the “mental health” plantation. The psychiatrist is no longer the living “god” he thought he was. Through the resistance of the inmate, he also has been revealed to be a man. He is a man who bleeds, a man capable of being wounded and thus incapacitated, but a man nonetheless, the descendant of an ancient race.
However, he is a man who denies the humanity of the sufferers placed under his “care,” who are little more than untermenschen who can be abused with impunity and disposed of at will. The psychiatrist must come to realize his own humanity, which is the humanity he shares with his victims. But this he cannot do until he is finally challenged by the inmate who can no longer bear the humiliation and brutal degradation of being involuntarily assigned to the role of “patient.” When the “patient” attacks his persecutor, he re-affirms his own humanity through subversion of the Manicheanism of the psychiatric world-view. Through the illumination of violence, he becomes conscious of his own capacity for freedom. By resisting the physical and psychological abuse of his psychiatric oppressor, he affirms his own rational moral agency by allowing himself to determine his own destiny. This he accomplishes by neutralizing and loosening the tyrannical grip the psychiatrist exercises over his life.
Indeed, it is the duty of the “patient” to attack his tormentor, unless he wishes to end up with severe brain damage or even worse. This is because unless men stand up for the rights of those whose humanity is being trampled underfoot, all of us are at risk of being deprived of our own humanity and tormented in the name of some culturally determined and relative standard of normality. The “patient” who attacks his psychiatrist, neutralizing his opponent through either maiming or killing him, is really a defender of human rights against the sadistic cruelty of tyrants everywhere.
The man who resists psychiatric tyranny is a freedom fighter in a world where the rights of the helpless and the vulnerable do not matter to the rich and powerful. Through his actions he serves as a serious and lasting indictment of the entire “mental health” establishment. His resistance is a defiant gesture in the face of those who would cloak their brutal sadism under the mantle of a feigned medical benevolence.