This article, by Victoria Smith, has been published on The Critic magazine website. It begins:
“Photos of ghost children decorated the walls of the adolescent psychiatric unit. ‘Patients from the olden days,’ staff would tell us. ‘They could have been locked up for life.’ Unlike you lot, was the implication. The year was 1987 and I was twelve years old. I’d stare at the blank-eyed, monochrome children and count my unlobotomised blessings.
It seems no one is ever in any doubt about psychiatry’s shameful past: fathers institutionalising wayward daughters, husbands locking up inconvenient wives, brains destroyed for being too female, too black, too gay.
It’s not as though the discipline itself shies away from these truths. They are in plain sight, pictures put in the service of promoting a more enlightened present. Why not, I guess. When you’ve got the clitoridectomies, chemical castration and the pathologisation of runaway slaves in your back catalogue, anything you do henceforth will look enlightened by contrast.
Reading Jessica Taylor’s Sexy but Psycho, a feminist challenge to the psychiatric labelling of women and girls, I find myself thinking of contemporary psychiatry as the abusive partner who tries to control you by telling you how shit all the other men are …”
You can read more from here.