Calling someone ‘anti-psychiatry’ is not an argument – and for many it feels abusive

This article by James Davies has been published on the Mad in the UK website. It begins:

“Different groups use phrases and words in dissimilar ways to achieve specific ends. This has never been truer than when considering the highly contentious phrase ‘anti-psychiatry’. Some choose to wear this phrase as a badge of honour, expressing their defiance at a system they feel has caused them or others significant harm. Others use the phrase because they believe it captures the logical conclusion of following where the untainted and independent evidence leads them. Others still, infuriated by a sense of ethical and social injustice, use the term to express the idea that psychiatry is not a legitimate medical specialty and that we’d be better off with non-medical ideas and interventions.[i]

The above uses of the phrase ‘anti-psychiatry’, however, are very different from how it is now being deployed by many mental health professionals and psychiatrists, usually in the context of heated debate and usually pejoratively. This latter usage mostly occurs when someone labels a critic (e.g. a professional, a service user or an organisation) as ‘anti-psychiatry’ without the consent or agreement of this critic, and without actually knowing whether the critic identifies with that phrase. This particular usage usually has the intention of denigrating the critic as irrational, unreasonable, as wrongly generalising from their outlier experience, and as irresponsibly dissuading, by way of expressing negative sentiments, others from seeking ‘life-saving’ interventions. This pejorative use therefore weaponises the phrase in an attempt to silence, misrepresent or delegitimise critical debate and dissent …”

You can read more from here.

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