Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog
About Auntie

February 16th 2021
Auntie is in retirement
February 12th 2015
Psychiatry is like an apple that is rotten at the core
Auntie Psychiatry is anti psychiatry
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Angela says:
August 5th  2015

Rotten to the core and full of maggots.

Thanks for your work!


Cheers Angela! This was my first cartoon. The 'rotten apple' analogy is one I've 
used to describe psychiatry for years. Developing the idea into a cartoon gave me a lot of pleasure.

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February 19th 2015
Royal College of Psychiatrists logo Let Wisdom Guide

Auntie Psychiatry deconstructs the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) logo 

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Boans says:
Sept 8th  2018

And wings, they gotta be helpful when doing $200 handshakes along the wards. lol
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February 27th 2015
Big Pharma and the prize cash cow schizoaffective depression paxil risperdal psychiatry

Big Pharma, Psychiatry and the Prize Cash Cow

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March 6th 2015
anti psychiatry cartoon blog - Recovery begins with non-compliance
Rebels who defy psychiatry outshine the compliant

Auntie Psychiatry says: Recovery begins with non-compliance.

A word of warning: If you're going down the rebel route, DO NOT abruptly stop your medication - it is a very dangerous thing to do. To find out why, see these cartoons... A Cautionary Tale and Rigging Clinical Trials.
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Louise says:
April 29th  2016
My pain and acting up was called bi-polar. i agree that recovery starts with non-compliance and I found mine with some freedom fighters in the system.  Those freedom fighters - nurse and therapist  helped me to gradually come off the meds. I needed to come off the meds because I was too numb to listen to the pain and trauma that had birthed my psychosis. Once off and with support I could feel my body and hear my mind again and they helped me interpret my story. I have been off meds and free for 6 years. I spent a long time not only recovering from my past traumas but in being drugged and in the system. It's hard to say no to a giant so big, hard to not comply when the giants army is so vast. Thanks for your posts fellow freedom fighter and for the light and brave truths you try to shine for us.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
April 29th  2016
Many thanks, Louise. Your words mean a lot to me.

My own conversion to 'non-compliance' came when I discovered anti-psychiatry activism on the nascent Internet in 1995. I will be eternally grateful to the founder of the Madness list, Sylvia Caras, and the band of early freedom fighters for helping me to turn my life around. Until then I had never questioned the 'illness like any other' line, and took my distress to be the symptoms of a life-long brain disease. It was from these freedom fighters that I first heard the slogan "Recovery begins with non-compliance." From that point onward, I was able to start rebuilding my life.

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March 12th 2015
flowchart bipolar diagnosis mania

Fun with Flowcharts: Am I going nuts? 

It’s the sleep deprivation, stupid!

Ask anyone who is on the road to "psychosis" how they are sleeping and you won’t hear this: “Yeah, really well, like a baby.”

The script writers of Men in Black get this:

Jay: “Zed, don't you guys ever get any sleep around here?”

Zed: “The twins keep us on Centaurian time, standard thirty-seven hour day. Give it a few months. You'll get used to it... or you'll have a psychotic episode.” (MiB 1997)

Novelist Adrian Barnes gets it…

“After six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in” (Nod 2012). 

Joe Public gets it… 

“Lack of sleep can make you crazy.”

But Psychiatry? Not so much. The first time I found myself hurtling towards full-blown "psychosis", a psych-doc told me this:

“Don’t sleep during the day!”


Natural sleep is everything. Day or night, it is sacrosanct. Sweet, elusive, drug-free sleep.

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March 23rd 2015
Top Trumps Chemical imbalance of the brain

Chemical Imbalance Theory: The erroneous dictum Psychiatrists love to spout.

And yet some of them seem to find the whole thing all rather embarrassing. Why is that?

“In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend – never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.” Ronald  Pies MD

References: Royal College of Psychiatrists Health Information leaflets 2015: Schizophrenia & Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizophrenia: Eli Lilly website

Read more here… Psychiatry and the Chemical Imbalance Theory.

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April 3rd 2015
diabetes analogy depression schizophrenia antidepressants

Auntie Psychiatry debunks the Diabetes Analogy

The Diabetes Analogy is one of those things that sounds plausible, but when scrutinised turns out to be dangerous bunkum. For people with diabetes, their blood glucose levels must be managed and maintained within a very specific range. There is no such equivalent for any of the mental disorders. Neurotransmitter activity is constantly changing, we have no understanding of ‘normal’ levels.

The Diabetes Analogy is brought to us by lead Psychiatrists, then picked up an parroted by celebrities in their ‘anti-stigma’ messages…

from the Royal College of Psychiatrists…”If a person has diabetes and stops taking their medication, they may become unwell. Similarly with schizoaffective disorder, if you stop taking your medication, you too may become unwell.” Health Information leaflet: Schizoaffective Disorder.

Ruby Wax on depression and antidepressants… “You wouldn’t say [to someone with diabetes] “Don’t take the insulin.” I mean you really have to believe that this is the real thing”.

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Gary Sidley says...
4th April 2015

I love your distinctive way of illustrating the harmful nonsense of biological Psychiatry. I look forward to reading many more of your cartoons.
Snow says:
February 21st  2016
I know they keep changing the normal "blood pressure" standard as well...
It become lower and lower.
Peter Bell says:
July 16th  2017
I got diabetes through an injection when my immune system collapsed due to an intense, extended depressive episode.
To present diabetes as a much more controllable and preventable disease is quite simply wrong.
The conditions interact in highly complex ways.
Vambo says:
July 23rd  2021
I wrote a poem which won a competition to have "Tea at the Ritz with Ruby Wax".  I don't like her ideas at all, not that they are really hers, she has just repackaged the brain chemistry bullshit, and stolen mindfulness from the Buddhists. I used to embrace my bipolar diagnosis but now I think it's a meaningless term made up by people who are desperate to make psychiatry appear "scientific". This is my poem:
Bipolar Messiah

I can ...

Fly like an angel

Across the sea

And love everyone

Even if they hate me

I can ...

Smell the sun

On the trees

And instantly put you

At your ease

Or listen to the grass

And feel the running feet

Of ages past

I can ...

Look into your eyes

And see your ancient soul

And hug you

Until you feel completely whole

I can ...

Catch the moonlight

On the lake

And tangled cobwebs

Made of lace

To weave an Elfin gift for you

I can ...

See the world

In a single flower

And stop you picking fruit that's sour

And taste it first

So you don't thirst

I can ...

Catch a rainbow

For all to see

And dance in the light

That follows me

And in my mind's eye perceive

Prophets of old

In raiments of gold

I can ...

See God in the faces

Of people I meet

Especially the poor ones

On the street

And, feeling the love

They badly need

Try to protect them from

This world of greed

I can ...

Let down an onion

Into your hell

And as I chant my ancient spells

A kindly spirit

In my heart

Beckons me to take your part

I can ...

Write a Sonnet in sixty seconds

And play a tune

As if fame beckons

Or dance in the nude

And make you laugh

Until you ache for solitude

I can ...

See the face of Jesus

In an ordinary window

And breathe

The changing seasons

Like a silver minnow

And imagine the world

Through the eyes of a fly


Climbing higher

Walk into the sky

What am I?

You call me Bipolar


In ancient times

I am Mage, Soothsayer, Auger, Shamen, Prophet, Witch, Saint, Madonna, Joan of Arc,


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April 10th 2015
Jim Hilaire Belloc Blame compliance non-compliance anti psychiatry

Auntie Psychiatry presents: A Cautionary Tale

This is a parody of a cautionary tale by Hilaire Belloc: Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion.

I loved this poem as a child – mostly for the gruesome description of Jim’s demise which I learnt by heart – but I was never convinced by the moral…

And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse

I mean, he gets EATEN by a LION! How cool is THAT??

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Boans says:
Sept 8th  2018

Reminded me a little of Dylan's Talking World War 3 Blues, Auntie.

I said hold it doc, a world war passed through my brain.
He said nurse get your pad the boys insane.
Grabbed me by the arm and I said "ouch"
 As I landed on the psychiatric couch.


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April 19th 2015
antidepressant prescriptions Professor Stephen Lawrie Are antidepressants overprescribed

Auntie Psychiatry asks: Are antidepressants over-prescribed?

Professor Stephen Lawrie is Head of Psychiatry at University of Edinburgh. Read more about his views about antidepressants… Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas: Antidepressants are not overprescribed.

Professor Ian Reid of Aberdeen University is also unperturbed by the dizzying rise in antidepressant prescription rates. He has no qualms about spreading his point of view in the media that “antidepressants are not overprescribed.”

And RCPsych president, Professor Sir Simon Wessley, is perfectly at ease with the figures too, saying to the Guardian: “when we talk about the rise in antidepressant prescribing, before we start leaping to the tumbrils and saying the world’s coming to an end we should have a look and say, hang on a second, if that is appropriate prescribing then that’s good.”

I find their assurances terrifying.

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May 15th 2015
mental health anti-stigma campaign

Psychiatry: Anti-stigma campaigns

I’ve always been wary of anti-stigma campaigns, but never quite pinned down why that should be. After all, more openness and communication can only be a good thing – it encourages connection and makes people feel less alone – no problems with that. No, it’s the “illness like any other” mantra that sends a chill down my spine – but why?

On researching the topic, I came across this excellent blog post by Sera Davidow. False Arguments, Part 2: Anti-anti-stigma.

Sera suggests that… “the idea of developing and then promoting a solely medicalized way of understanding our distress is creating the very ‘stigma’ it seeks to eliminate.” She describes the process memorably as a merry-go-round spinning at breakneck speed.

That worked for me, but rather than a merry-go-round (which is fun and exciting) I eventually settled on the image of a circular saw blade to depict it. Oh, and a saw blade was simpler to illustrate.

I’m quite certain that Psychiatry would turn purple with rage and indignation at the suggestion that diagnosis comes with this subtext: Your inner-self is diseased. It took me a long time to work out the exact wording of that phrase. Any thoughts?

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Mark says:
July 2nd 2015
You asked "any thoughts?"

Szasz wrote " No behavior or misbehavior is a disease or can be a disease."

Today we have electric light,cabletv, cellphone,computer, where we used to have to sleep at night. And we also have junk food that is not good for our minds. All the new technology man has created is hard (for the monkey inside the human) to handle.

Alan Forrester says:
May 3rd  2016

As Mark noted above, Thomas Szasz explained why mental illnesses are not diseases:  
Is Mental Illness a Disease? by Thomas Szaz

All mental illness labels are stigmatising because they deny the moral agency of the "patient". Regardless of whether the patient has acted well or badly, denying him moral agency makes it difficult for him to either defend himself or change his ideas.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
May 3rd  2016

Alan - Many thanks for your comment, and thanks for the link. I'm going to revisit the writings of Thomas Szaz. It seems that mainstream Psychiatry has learnt nothing from him, which is a pity - think where we could be now if it had.
RachelE says:
June 16th  2016

It may not be directly stated by their evil diagnoses but it is definitely implied. I find it amazing how they protest against the fact that people stigmatize and hate us when they are directly responsible for the scapegoating. As though most of them in their smug, socially acceptable, lucrative positions actually gave a rip!
Dr. Terry Lynch says:
November 10th  2016

Excellent "cartoons" and content. Re stigma, I have long since felt that the primary societal stigma is the restriction of freedom - to feel fully, to feel, express and exhibit wounding, distress and vulnerability. All other "stigmas" are consequential to this one.
Anonymous says:
August 8th  2017

Define "inner self"?  Is that... personality? A constellation of behaviour, affect and belief? A presence or being?

I have indeed been told by psychiatrists - upfront and in my face, sometimes as a personal undermining the self - that I have the inherent, genetically predisposed susceptibility to be mentally ill. Perhaps the issue is the concept of "weakness" in society, along with the concept of disease.  I would love to talk to you more about your work. The saw blade is perfect.

Auntie Psychiatry says:

I struggled to find the exact wording because, for me, this is the core of psychiatry's misguided position, and the root cause of so much damage. I really wanted to say... 'your very soul is diseased' to get across the enormity of the effect medical diagnosis can have, but rejected it as too religious/spiritual. From your list of suggestions, I would go with "presence of being" as a definition for 'inner self'.

For a long time I accepted the 'inherent, genetically predisposed susceptibility to be mentally ill' explanation, but the impossiblity of trying to separate my 'self' from the 'disease' brought on the most enormous despair. It was only by rejecting the doctor's medical opinion and embracing everything about me - including the crazy and the despair - that I was able to escape the quicksand and move on.

Thank you so much for your thought-provoking comment... and I'm glad you like the saw blade!
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22nd May 2015
Auntie's Snakes and Ladders: anti psychiatry cartoon blog

Auntie's Snakes and Ladders: Escape from the Psych Ward

Despite vocal claims from Psychiatry that Psych beds are always, always in huge demand, once you have been admitted to a Psych ward, you can have a devil of a job persuading the powers-that-be to let you out again. Even if you went in there as a voluntary patient and can, in theory, simply walk off the ward, you just try it and see what happens. The mere threat of sectioning is enough to make most patients quickly think better of it.

If you’ve never been a patient on a Psych ward, Auntie’s Snakes and Ladders  will give you some idea of how the game is played. You must convincingly feign compliance, insight and acquiescence. You soon learn that taking your meds is a Big Deal, and that it must be done willingly, without any resistance. Questioning your diagnosis is a no-no as doing so implies Lack of Insight into your illness. Other game tactics include: Never Joke with your Psychiatrist – they are notoriously humourless – and Don’t Be A Smart Ass.

Once they let you go, the words of WOPR from the 1983 film War Games should be your guide: The only winning move is not to play. 

Do whatever you can to keep yourself on an even keel and keep yourself on the outside… it’s the only way.

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Runner says:
January 16th  2017

I'd like to have this printed onto a tshirt! - Runner

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Runner - Yeah, it would make a great t-shirt. Please do help yourself to any of my cartoons for this or any other purpose.
Michele Buring says:
May 7th 2019

Ah hah! Yes all the same tricks are utilised everywhere this whole pseudopsychiatry rules! Same bullshit in Aussie. And I had their grand favourite “Lack Of Insight” card pulled on me when I had the audacity to insist I was in protracted venlafaxine withdrawal. And then upon describing my experience - which is actually well and widely documented -next they pull out that (apparently) I am having “Somatic Delusions”. Aren’t they brilliant about their own lack of insight into their own delusions of grandeur? And indeed on their own insistence on believing their own bullshit in spite of global evidence rising against everything they are doing!  (Gleeful chuckle:)

Auntie Psychiatry says:

I don't think they believe it themselves... I think they know.

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4th June  2015
anti psychiatry blog: lure of psychosis

"Which Way?" captures the allure of extreme inner states that can lead to psychosis. Of course it is a foolish and dangerous path to take, as anyone who has ever experienced full blown psychosis knows to their bitter cost... and yet, and yet.

Sadly, psychiatry strictly disapproves of exploration, and the "illness like any other" approach leaves absolutely no room for discovering spiritual meaning or fulfillment in these profound experiences. Flirting with the Danger Zone is interpreted as "lack of insight" into your illness and noted down as yet another symptom of an underlying brain disease.

Makes me feel kind of sorry for them.

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Bernie says:
June 16th 2015

I can see your point but you seem to be approaching a contradiction to your previous advice about getting out (--i.e. do whatever you can to stay out of the snakes and ladders game)

Auntie Psychiatry says:
June 23rd 2015

Bernie - Just after posting "Which Way?" I read the autobiography of neurologist Oliver Sacks in which he describes his brother Michael's lifelong struggle with schizophrenia. Here's a summary:

"Michael felt the psychosis had opened his eyes to things he had never previously thought about. On medication he lost the sharpness and clarity with which he had perceived the world; everything seemed muffled - 'it's like being softly killed' he concluded. He called the non-schizophrenic world 'Rottenly Normal' - great rage was embodied in this incisive phrase."

It sounds to me that Michael spent his life bouncing between the soul-numbing 'rottenly normal' world and the soul-shredding terror of schizophrenic overwhelm.

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine - it won't acknowledge spiritual crisis, it only sees brain disease. The Snakes and Ladders game shows the absurdities of a system that does not recognise these profound upheavals of the soul. A Psych ward is no place for anyone with a deep-seated need to make sense of their experiences.

You may well be right about the contradiction - this blog is full of them, and will become more so with time. Please do keep pointing them out.
Ben says:
November 15th 2015

Great cartoon. Because psychosis is so frightening to people who witness it, they assume that the person in the altered state of consciousness must be distressed all the time too. This is simply not the case. The allure of these states, especially when compared to the colourless nightmare of antipsychotic intoxication, is very real. What is needed though is a balance, as neither extreme is sustainable in the long term if a person is to be functional and independent. The use of mind altering neuroleptic medication does not allow a balanced state of consciousness to be established.
This ties in really well with the snakes and ladders cartoon, the paradox of "staying out of the game" I.e hospital. Can I access some of that creative and expansive sense of wellbeing without the risk of going too far and attracting aggressive coercive interference.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
November 15th  2015

Thank you, Ben. You have captured my intent exactly. It's very gratifying to hear. Of all my cartoons, this one carries the most important message. I had to get it just right, and the process of creating it drove me a little bit crazy.
Thisica says:
August 28th 2017

Yeah--I've heard all of the bad stuff that can happen in the 'psychiatric' world. I don't get why psychiatrists call themselves that, given the root meaning "curer of the soul". They do sound collectively soulless to me.
Personally, I have gone through waves of what I call 'wyrd' (the older English word for 'weird')  experiences and don't want my understanding of them to be hijacked by these so-called 'psychiatrists'. The work never ends, alas. It's a constant struggle to not get caught up in the social noise that shouts "You're not normal!".
Armed with this unfortunate knowledge, I need to ensure I don't end up in the "psychiatric" world.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
August 28th 2017

"Hijacked" is a good word. Psychiatrists are indoctrinated to see everything about you through the prism of their medical training. Everything you say and do, your habits, appearance, beliefs, passions - you name it - can be noted down as "symptoms" and used in evidence against you. If you ever have the misfortune to end up in the psychiatric world, you'll find that out soon enough.
Thisica says:
"used in evidence against you..." Yes, indeed! From what I have read for years on end, psychiatrists are all too keen on playing "police". It's not for nothing that psychiatric 'hospitals' are more like prisons, using similar methods to silence the prisoners through torture, solitary confinement, etc.

Personally, I have been in a psychiatric outpatient place in 2008, after a self-harm crisis and thought loops that spiralled out of control. The place was quite dreary and clinical--certainly not a good place to recuperate! Fortunately, I stayed there for only one day. I later found the courage to work through my adolescent stubbornness, via art to work through my emotions--at home.

Nowadays, I still find art to be helpful to express my violent and despondent feelings. I have also found physical ritual useful, in the form of nightly meetings out in the backyard and tea ceremonies.
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19th June  2015
anti psychiatry blog - FDA approves three month injectable antipsychotic for schizophrenia
Janssen Inc. announces new treatment option for schizophrenia: Invega Trinza

Woohoo! Visit to see happy, healthy Invega Trinza patients living life to the max. Oh, wait... they're all actors.

Want to know about the rigorous clinical trials Janssen carried out? Click here.
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Angela says:
August 6th  2015

This is such an apt capture of how deeply we are being manipulated by willingly lining up at CVS for the agents of the control and limiting of our minds potential. The harm that their residues will have on humans and biosystems for centuries to come, with the mandatory use and manufactured demand for them growing daily.

psychotropic Drugs, while sometimes helpful remain a source of mental anguish for most, with side effects that harm the body and shorten lives. Why are we doing this to ourselves? I love your work.

Michele Buring says:
May 7th 2019

Yeah seriously thank fuck I escaped that disgusting garbage.  Oh oops well not exactly. I had the dubious honour of having the same disgusting garbage injected every single bloody month... after month... after month... (i.e. their crap ”Sustena” version, yeah great - sustained torture ... not any kind of sustenance I wanted) And so I discover I am an awesome Shapeshifter!  My body can blow up at exactly the same time as my brain is actually shrinking!  Wow!  Brilliant! Except - at the same time I knew for sure there would be no life left worth living as long as I was on that godforsaken shit. Yay! It’s made me so multifaceted - I can be senselessly sarcastic and full of vitriolic rage and contempt ... all at the same time as being an ungrateful wretch! How these silly buggers have enriched my life. Oh joy:)  (Keep up the good work:)
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27th June  2015
anti Psychiatry blog: help from a Psych nurse

Auntie Psychiatry receives the right prescription.

This might seem an odd cartoon for an anti psychiatry blog, but it represents my own recent experience of NHS mental health services. I received nothing but the best care at a time when I really needed it. What more can I say? 

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Imogen says:
January 14th  2016

Yeah, flag up that they can get it right, as a reproach at all other times.
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5th July  2015
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry blog Crazy Talk

Auntie Psychiatry: Crazy Talk

A small selection of the colourful words and phrases we all use from time to time. I love them; partly because they are so alive and vivid, but mostly because they bridge the scary gap between sanity and madness. Everyone can relate to being "a bit bonkers" or "away with the fairies" - these peppy colloquialisms are a great leveller.

Why is our language so rich with these lively expressions? My guess is that it's because they portray mental states we are fascinated by - scary, yes, but also mystical, alluring, exhilarating.

Contrast this with the deadening language of Psychiatry. Worried about the offence that might be caused by these casual expressions, the anti-stigma charity Time for Change provides a helpful Mental Health Language Guide to put us all straight. So instead of using words like mad, lunatic or unhinged, they suggest "a person with a mental health problem" or "someone who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia."

Yeah, whatever.

A final thought: I bet you can add a dozen more phrases for madness to my list... but how many everyday expressions do you know for diabetes?

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Aid says:
July 7th  2015

Love the pictures you should make t shirts.
Insulin intolerance aside, I dund.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
July 8th  2015
Cheers Aid!
I don't know any alt words for diabetes off the top of my head either. A quick Google search uncovered a few, including the Dictionary of Diabetes Slang (now defunct Feb 2019). But unlike the language of madness, this is a language that only people in the know about diabetes would use or understand.
Mark C. says:
July 17th  2015
Do anteaters get diabetes? i think ants are good healthy protein.
Auntie Psychiatry says:
July 18th 2015

We're fine, as long as we stay off the Honey Ants. Of course, I never touch 'em. Ahem!
Bill says:
July 28th  2016
My current fav is "cray-cray"....It's a Comedy central staple....
(Hello from ><!....
Pamela says:
October 26th  2016
I myself love the straight up call it like it is madness words, crazy, bonkers, weirdo, bizarro etcetera. What i cannot stand and take yuuuge umbrage at is being called mentally ill, and this despite my having written a quite popular memoir with the word "schizophrenia" in the subtitle! Truth is, the editors at St Martins Press chose both the title and subtitle, and the doctors long ago chose the label i have labored under and most recently to rid myself of...but in truth as well, i secretly never once believed a word of it. Yes, i assented to take their meds sometimes, because i wanted to FEEL better, i wanted to believe what they told me! But all along, even or especially when tortured and brutalized into complying, i did not believe a single thing...and i think the idea of biological mental illness and all that crap is plain crap from 1984 and gives me the willies!!! Call me mad or crazy but do not ever say i am mentally ill!!!
Tinhat says:
February 27th  2019

There actually were some alternate phrases for diabetes, but they aren't used much any more. When I was growing up, people called it "sugar" or "the sugar" or "sweet blood." But of course none of those carried any implied criticism of the affected person.
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17th July  2015
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry blog let wisdom guide

Let Wisdom Guide

Let Wisdom Guide is the motto of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The snake/serpent is their symbol of wisdom and health.

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3rd August  2015
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry blog - Psychiatry's tool

Psychiatry's only tool

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12th August  2015
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry blog. Riding high upon a deep depression

Riding High Upon a Deep Depression

The Upside of Melancholia: Yet another thing that Psychiatry won't acknowledge. Society used to get it... before Big Pharma muscled in, cleverly marketing depression as a brain disease and pushing their drugs in earnest.

Weirdly, "melancholia" is creeping back as an acceptable medical term. Previously shunned as an antiquated throwback to the days of Victorian Lunatic Asylums, it seems that Psychiatry has done a U-turn and decided it's a valid diagnosis after all. Does anybody know why?

This cartoon is inspired by everybody's favourite Garbage track: I'm Only Happy When it Rains, a true celebration of depression. 

Go on, play it now... and crank up the volume. Knocks spots off Seroxat.

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Bramble says:
January 18th  2017

I don't either know why melancholia is making a comeback but Max Fink has something to do with it. I remember seeing a picture called Melancholia in an Edinburgh gallery or museum. It was by Cranach and didn't look too miserable - at least there was a glass of wine in the picture.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
January 18th  2017
Max Fink - the ECT guy? Is he still on the scene?

I hadn't heard of the painting you mentioned, so I did a Google search and found this really interesting piece about it, In praise of Melancholy by Alison Anderson. Thanks for the steer!
Bramble says:
January 25th  2017
That's the one. 94 and still going strong. Published a letter about mitochondria in the Journal of the American Medical Association a few months ago.
Auntie Psychiatry says:
January 26th  2017
Aha! One of those relics from a bygone age who should've retired long since but just can't seem to let it go. Fuller Torrey is another - still causing a lot of damage at the age of 79.
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28th August  2015
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry blog. Clinical Trial Rigging

Clinical Trials Examination: Level 1

The inspiration for this cartoon was prompted by a Pharma backed ‘randomized clinical trial’ for a long-acting injectable "antipsychotic", Invega Trinza. The company's website encourages people to Explore the Study Design. Published in JAMA Psychiatry (2015), a heavyweight, peer-reviewed medical journal, the trial was carefully designed to bring about the best possible outcome for the drug company. It required the co-operation of doctors to ensure that ALL the subjects had been administered the drug for many months. The drug was then abruptly withdrawn from those randomly allocated to the placebo group – there was no tapering phase, no additional support.
I was staggered by the audacity of this ruse. The American Psychiatric Association’s own official guidance is unequivocal: ‘medications should never be stopped abruptly as rebound psychosis may result’: And this information has actually been incorporated into the trial design to maximise the risk of relapse in the placebo group. Something else!

I was beginning to detect a funny smell. If Psychiatry had made it so easy for a Pharma Giant to get away with this one, what other tricks were they getting up to? Digging around, it didn’t take me long to locate the source of the smell – the stinking, rotten underbelly of the psych-drug trials racket. Psychiatry and Big Pharma have been in cahoots for decades, exploiting patients as expendable pawns to keep their monstrous, putrid psych-drug gravy train hurtling down the tracks. Don’t believe me? Try digging yourself. You’ll see.

Looking at the cartoon now, I realise that it appears as though ALL the placebo group fall prey to the sharks, and ALL of the drug group stay high and dry. In fact, there were patients in the placebo group who did not relapse into psychosis, and patients in the drug group who did. I’m not quite sure how to portray that in a simple cartoon though. Any ideas?

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meme says:
March 21st  2017
you forgot to exclude the non responsive from the trial :)

Auntie Psychiatry says:
March 21st  2017
Good point. Patients were excluded from the trial at the 'run-in' phase if the drug showed 'lack of efficacy' or 'adverse events'. Maybe that's covered in Rigging Clinical Trials: Level 2.
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9th October 2015
Auntie Psychiatry cartoon blog: New APA logo

Auntie Psychiatry asks "What's with the new American Psychiatric Association logo?"

This spoof "Snakes on a Plane" movie poster was inspired by Phil Hickey's blog post The APA's New Image. I had a great time creating it, especially when I discovered Samuel L Jackson's classic line... "Enough is enough! I've had it with these m@#!F%'& snakes on this  m@#!F%'& plane!" 

Only trouble is... I've made the rebranded APA logo look cool. Dammit!

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Don says:
August 7th  2017
I get your snakes analogy. But I like snakes (not the medical ones). For goodness snakes, why don't we celebrate an "All Snakes Day?"
Auntie Psychiatry says:
Oh, yes. Snakes rule. Psy Psnakes Psuck. BTW, you've just reminded me of that episode of the Simpsons where Barry White saves the snakes of Springfield... here it is: Whacking Day.
4th September  2015
auntie chilling
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Philip Hickey says:
Sept 15th  2015
Enjoy your break. Love your stuff.

Truthman says:
October 7th  2015
Great pictures.☺
5th November 2015
Auntie Psychiatry - anti psychiatry blog. Turning the tables

Auntie Psychiatry Turns the Tables

This cartoon features Psychiatry Psnakes at the meds trolley "tonguing and spitting out the bitter pill of reality", as described by Daniel Kriegman in his post Physician, Heal Thyself.  Dan is optimisitic that "in the end they will have to swallow the bitter pill and face reality." 

Here's hoping.

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Arthur Ellis says:
November 21st  2015

Your website is fabtastic. When my humour goes, I tend to go. Godbless all who sail in your mind.

Arty Farty

Auntie Psychiatry says:
November 22nd  2015

Cheers, Arty! And godbless all who sail in your mind too.
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23rd November 2015
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog. Dr Pies stays positive.

Dr. Pies stays positive.

I've long been a fan of The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, and the definition of 'positive' is one of my favourites. We've all been 'positive' from time to time - be honest - but none so loudly, or publicly or repeatedly as Ronald W. Pies MD. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, Dr Pies remains adamant that psychiatry never bought into the "chemical imbalance theory" of mental illness, and continues to claim that his profession does not and hasn't ever promoted it to the public. Quite why he is determined to stay so 'positive' is a mystery to me.

For anyone interested, here are the links to the sources used in this cartoon.
Serotonin: How psychiatry Got Over Its "High School Crush" Ronald W Pies MD.
Schizoaffective Disorder: Health information leaflet Royal College of psychiatrists.
Schizophrenia: University of Utah - Health Library.
Depression: Johns Hopkins Medicine - Health Library.
Bipolar Disorder - causes: NHS Choices.

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Marcellas says:
January 6th  2016
Amazing how many professional continue to promote the "theory", apparently they didnt get Pies memo.
Don says:
August 7th  2017
Is it a coincidence that Prozac first entered the marketplace when Ronald Regan became president of the US? His introduction of neoliberalism caused many to lose their jobs. Anyone would be depressed under those circumstances-- a "normal" reaction.
Rachel777 says:
July 9th  2018
So...when is Dr. Pies going to show up on MSNBC or CBS or C-Span or FOX and say, "I wish to inform the public that we are not the ignorant quacks you take us for. We were merely promoting a harmless metaphor to ensure drug compliance. Thereby--conveniently--upholding our own prestige as legitimate medical experts and getting the occasional fruit basket or trip to the Bahamas from   pharmaceutical companies"? That will be the day.
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10th December 2015
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog. Microchip meds
Microchip Meds: Abilify with built-in RFID sensor

This is no joke. In a joint project, Proteus Digital Health and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals are poised to launch the first ever digital pill with embedded ingestible sensor. No surprise that Big Pharma has chosen blockbuster Psych-med Abilify to kick off the smart pill revolution - it is already being touted as a leap forward in ensuring that psychiatric patients "adhere to treatment regimens".

Coercive drugging has never looked so sinister.
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Bippyone says:
January 5th 2016
Love your cartoons! Love the satire!

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Cheers! And Welcome!
Marcellas says:
January 6th  2016
This has particularly insidious implications in the US if Sen Murphy has his way. forced drugging and suspension of rights. As far as I can tell there is no evidence that treatment actually works, or reduces violence, or prevents suicide, or reduces disability. Im still laughing but its really not funny anymore. Its too sad and too outrageous

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Sad and outrageous? You bet. Coercive drugging with neurotoxins is inhumane.
Snow says:
February 21st  2016
...Actually, the RFID thing is quite hackable.

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Welcome, Snow! That is good news. I do hope you are right.
Hexagon says:
September 25th  2016

Hacker here, if someone can get me one of these things I can get to work on it and post instructions on how to spoof "compliance."

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Cool! If this abomination ever reaches the market, we will need your services. As I understand it, the FDA has rejected the first application, but I'm pretty sure we haven't heard the last of it....
Closet Non-Compliant says:
September 27th  2016

Funny! We're supposed to be crazy and out-of-touch with reality, but we're coming up with clever ways to outwit those who vilify us and say we have "broken brains." People who act that way deserve to be lied to!

Auntie Psychiatry says:

"Recovery begins with non-compliance!" Those words turned my life around 21 years ago when I found anti-psychiatry activists on the nascent internet. As true today as ever.

Don says:
August  7th  2017

...How about lithium in our drinking water? It's an idea I heard. But some say it's already there from chemtrails and/or the excretions of those taking the drug.
Bill says:
September 6th 2018

I can attest to this, thanks to the "Dollars For Docs" database on "Propublica" In 2014/15, Otsuka Pharma paid Dr. Shawn Shea, a local psychiatrist, over $10,000., in 4 payments, as a "consultant". Dr. Shea wrote a book, which basically tells how to get teenagers to admit they're suicidal. It's called "Eliciting Suicidal Ideation...., (something or other)"..., ah, crap, I forget the title. You can find it on Amazon. I've forgotten it, because it's so **SICK** and twisted. But yeah, those RFID-chipped Abilify ARE on the market. BRAVE NEW WORLD ORDER, here we come, ready or not! (I know Dr. Shea personally. In one sense, he's ok, nice enough, polite, etc., but he's also nutty as a fruitcake. And a medical fascist, to boot....)....

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Ah yes. "The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment" by Shawn Christopher Shea. Also this chilling little number... "Improving Medication Adherence: How to Talk with Patients About Their Medications."

And here's the latest on the rollout of the Abilify microchip abomination from mobihealth news...

30th August 2018

"the treatment will come at the cost of $1,650 per month and likely be deployed to Medicaid members living in Florida and Virginia, among other regions."
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13th January 2016
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog. Shill Doc Millionaire

Auntie Psychiatry: Shill Doc MIllionaire

This cartoon required a lot of background reading and study. I wanted to be as certain as possible about the validity of the phrase "Long-term drugging with antipsychotics causes brain shrinkage." My starting point was The Bitterest Pills by Joanna Moncrieff, a lead Psychiatrist based in the UK. From this I tracked down several research papers and journal articles on the subject. In the end, I reached the conclusion that all the evidence points in the same direction: Antipsychotic drugs are Neurotoxic. That said, I can't help but admire the heroic strides by some experts in the field to torture the evidence into giving them The Right Answer: Antipsychotics are Neuroprotective.

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Marcellas says:
January 23rd  2016
Nancy Andreason came up with the most conclusive evidence, much to her horror, when she set out to demonstrate that the drugs protected the brain against the effects of a disease. What she discovered was that the drugs, not the disease, caused the damage she was studying. She also admitted that the damage is dose related and not evidenced even by street drugs!

Auntie Psychiatry says:
January 25th  2016
Yes, Professor Andreasen's word carries a lot of weight, so this was big news.  She even went so far as to say that she found the results “very upsetting” and “we must get the word out that antipsychotics should be used with great care.” 

Brave of her to stray from the fold like that, but they soon hauled her back. She's safely one of the flock again, obediently toeing the party line.

Jules Malleus says:
January 24th  2016
I love your cartoons.
"no forced treatment" campaign. Artists wanted!
Bippyone says:
January 28th 2016
As a long time user of neuroleptics I am grateful for anyone who decides to speak out. In the meantime knowing my brain has been shrunk does not put me in a very great position.
I like too to draw cartoons and have some of my own and what is left of my brain still has the ability to be creative.
Love this website. Love your cartoons. My therapist put me onto you - heh.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
January 28th 2016
Thanks, Bippyone. You've touched upon a very difficult topic. My own experience of psychosis was terrifying, and if I ever got close to a full psychotic break again I'd almost certainly take antipsychotics in a heartbeat. But we need to understand the risks, and twisting the evidence to hide unpalatable study results is a shady business.

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4th February  2016
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog. Google Autocomplete

Auntie Psychiatry plays with Google Autocomplete

You can play too.
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Jay Gee says:
April 29th  2016
Since by law, one can not garner informed consent by misinformation or fraud, psychiatry, the DSM, the chemical imbalance theory- it is all fraud- a crime against humanity perpetrated by quacks and criminals.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
April 29th  2016
Cheers, Jay Gee. That's a good point. The concept of 'informed consent' in psychiatry is ludicrous.  

John says:
January 16th 2017

I just tried this. It goes:
a sham
not science
Not bad.....

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Cheers, John. Not bad at all. 

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17th February  2016
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog. Schizophrenia Gene Discovery Buzzword Bingo

Auntie Psychiatry's Buzzword Bingo: Schizophrenia Gene Discovery

Don't get me wrong - I'm very keen to learn about the latest scientific findings on the 'Genetics of Mental Illness'. Does schizophrenia really have a 'significant genetic component' as is so often claimed? The hunt is on.

But I have yet to find a satisfying report on the subject. Light on substance, brimming with froth, each one containing the same essential ingredients : Breakthrough discovery, New insights, Step towards a real diagnostic test, Hope for new drug treatments.

So... are scientists on the brink of a bright new dawn?  It's kind of hard to tell.

Anybody would think that what really matters is the pizzazz. 

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14th March  2016
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog. Sir Simon Wessely: Defender of the Faith
Sir Simon Wessely: Defender of the Faith

This cartoon is inspired by the Royal College of Psychiatrists anti-BASH campaign. BASH is an acronym: Badmouthing, Attitudes and Stigmatisation in Healthcare. Professor Sir Simon Wessely is leading the charge. He reveals his disquiet about the 'stigmatisation' of his profession in his President's Blog... "stigma surrounding psychiatry doesn't begin and end with the experiences of patients; doctors too experience stigmatisation - for deciding to become psychiatrists."
Many thanks to Philip Hickey for his highly entertaining analysis of this issue: Psychiatry Bashing.

Incidentally, when trying to think up a joke brand name for the ECT machine in the cupboard, I looked to the names of real ECT machines for inspiration. The first one I found was the Siemens Konvulsator. Yes, even spelled with a K. Satirising psychiatry is SO EASY!!

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Snow says:
March 15th  2016

I see a tendency that people more and more love to label people have mental problems.

Not just because the industry want money. It's because most people are insecure.

The definition of something like depression is subjective. Insecure people far easier feel others are "something wrong inside them", thus labelling them.

It's like labelling someone is a witch in dark age. A lot of animals have the instinct start to attack their own species when they feel in a insecure environment.

Anyway, if a Psychiatrist keeping to make diagnoses everyday for work (money), it must be a huge effect for themselves, it's a kind of brainwashing for themselves.

I am interested how this could impact them.

I suppose it would be like this :

First, they must think "Haha, money is very easy to earn! This job is great for earn $$."(LOL, it won't be such easy)

Little by little, since they keeping to make diagnoses, their understanding for people would be far different with normal people, it's something like occupational injury. (I often use the word "something like" because the industry have no words to describe them) They would feel everyone have mental problems, and started to have trust problems.

By the way, it's a symptom of schizophrenia that they have far different belief system than most people.

Since their trust problem,they don't tell people about themselves, it's a quite obvious feature of this industry workers.

Many newbie idiots in industry do have a little bit faith of "I do this job is helping people", but after they know those drugs can't help actually, they lose the faith and grudge.

The trust problem can't easy to fix up in this age, them started to hate and drug their patients to revenge. Few of them who don't lack of money (they are quite rare in nowadays) will quit the job, but people with antisocial personality disorder would like the job.

There is no way going back, finally, their mind would far more twisted than drug selling street gangsters.

By the way, I know you are here and reading this, Psychiatrist, you deserve it.

Auntie P, there must be some "fans" of this blog are Psychiatrists. LOL

Mark says:
March 17th  2016

“When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him..”― Thomas Szasz.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
March 17th  2016

Thanks Mark. I like that.
RachelE says:
April 8th  2016

After the way they stigmatized us with their "scientific diagnoses" I'm glad they get a small share of it too. Plenty of stigma to go around! :D

Auntie Psychiatry says:
April 9th  2016

Cheers, Rachel! Good point.

Professor Sir Simon genuinely believes that medics who say that "Psychiatry is Pseudoscience" are guilty of 'badmouthing' his profession. No thoughts about whether there is any validity to the criticism, just a knee-jerk cry of 'stigma.'

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8th April  2016
Psy the Snake's Student Worksheet: Let Wisdom Guide

This cartoon picks up on the advice and information presented to patients and carers in leaflets published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. According to the RCPsych website, "each leaflet/factsheet reflects the best evidence base at the time of writing." 


Here are the links to the sources used in this cartoon:
ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy)
Schizoaffective Disorder
Bipolar Disorder 

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16th June  2016
anti psychiatry cartoon blog: RC Psychic

Auntie Psychiatry crashes the RC Psychiatrists International Congress.

I'd love to take credit for the RC Psychic gibe, but in truth it was a gift from the Royal College of Psychiatrists: #RCPsychic

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Snow says:
June 16th  2016

I like the ADHD card design. It seems the only brightness in this dark background(/world).

Auntie Psychiatry says:
June 16th 2016

Thanks Snow. I see it that way too.

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9th August 2016
anti psychiatry cartoon blog: The Murphy Bill

The Murphy Bill: Who is pulling Murphy's string?

While researching this cartoon, I listened to rather a lot of Rep. Murphy's speeches - his rhetoric is very compelling.

It's hard to argue with Murphy's claim that "The mental health system is broken" - not only for patients and families, but also for all those caring people lured into pursuing a career in "Mental Health", and for society in general. Murphy's solution? Add more balls.

Murphy is not averse to drawing from dramatic reports in the press and social media to make his case. In this speech (at 13 minutes), he reveals with a flourish a blown-up photo of 'Man in tree', Cody Lee Miller, being led into court in shackles to appear before a judge. It is an image disturbingly reminiscent of Jesus being brought before Pontius Pilot. Murphy sees this case as an object lesson in the importance of 'treatment before tragedy'.

Looking at that photo of Cody Lee Miller, I could think of many things that might help him - a bath, a safe bed, clean clothes, home cooked food, human warmth - but coercive flooding of his system with neurotoxic drugs wasn't one of them.

For anyone wanting an insight into what it's like to be on the receiving end of a compulsory 'treatment' order, I recommend this: Coercive Psychiatry in Australia

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Marcellas says:
August 10th  2016

The Murphy Bill is a real blow to actual mental health reform. There are so many aspects of it that are too sad to laugh at. Like the way Murphy offers examples of mass shooters who were in "treatment" when they acted, yet had no history of volience prior to treatment. Or like the overwelming bipartisan support the bill got, which is unheard of in the US these days. Or how the bill specifically prevents funding for "anti psychiatry", AKA people who are actually interested in facts. We discuss the murphy bill on episode 11 of our podcast, anosognosiac, which can be found on iTunes.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
 August 24th 2016

Thanks Marcellas. Yes, I'm finding the tone of the debate pretty alarming, even from this side of the Atlantic. It coincides with a ramping up of media interest in the 'treatment of mental health problems' in the UK - the rhetoric is making me very nervous.

BTW, I'm a big fan of your podcasts and recommend them heartily! Here's the link:
Snow says:
September 9th  2016

"Imagine an iron house without windows, absolutely indestructible, with many people fast asleep inside who will soon die of suffocation. But you know since they will die in their sleep, they will not feel the pain of death. Now if you cry aloud to wake a few of the lighter sleepers, making those unfortunate few suffer the agony of irrevocable death, do you think you are doing them a good turn?"
-Lu Hsun
I found many people in the anti-psy community share a same feature, they don't love human overall.
Many people just to be SSRI junkies to dead in this miserable world, the greatest happiness they could achieve, we even make fun of it. I don't care them though.
They want to being junkies, not need to care their reputation.
But, why some person " cry aloud to wake a few of the lighter sleepers"?
Because they feel lonely.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
September 9th 2016

Dear Snow- Thank you so much for this comment - I will be thinking about it all day. When I read the bit you wrote about anti-psy not loving humans overall, it reminded me of this poem... I wish I loved the Human Race...

I wish I loved the Human Race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;
And when I'm introduced to one,
I wish I thought "What Jolly Fun!"
Pamela says:
October 26th 2016

Hear, hear!
J Gayton says:
November 15th  2016

Brilliant stuff
Rachel says:
July 30th  2018

Murphy the Merciless got kicked out of office in disgrace. Yes!!!

There is a God.

The bipartisan support is due to the fact that elected officials never read anything longer than a bumper sticker. And they were offered free money from Big Pharma. And they could come off as nice guys since locking up/drugging the SMI doesn't hurt them (not real people anyhow) and only "mentally ill" folks commit violent crimes.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
August 3rd  2018

Yes, I heard about that. I like to think I captured the evil glint in Murphy's eyes...
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5th October 2016
anti psychiatry cartoon blog: anosognosia

Exploring Anosogonsia

The notion of 'lack of insight' in Psychiatry is not new, but it has received a turbo-boost in recent years, largely due to the efforts of Dr E Fuller Torrey and the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC). Co-opting the Greek word 'Anosognosia' from the field of Neurology lends it an air of scientific credibility, backed up by impressive claims of "anatomical damage to the brain" in those affected. The TAC website is emphatic in its insistence that Anosognosia is not simply Denial of Illness because it has a "biological basis and is caused by damage to the brain. " 

Here's an idea for anyone brave enough: Request a differential diagnosis.

From blogs and news reports to the recent rhetoric of Rep. Tim Murphy, the Anosognosia meme is spreading fast, along with spurious statistics (Anosognosia afflicts 50% schizophrenia patients, 40% bipolar) and the TAC claim that it is the "most common reason why [patients] do not take medication."

For critical analysis and an entertaining take on this issue, join Marcellas and Daniel at...

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 Pamela Wagner says:
October 26th  2016

Hi, Auntie, i love love love your cartoons, but this one has me stumped. And i kid you not. Could you please elucidate it for me? I mean, i get the notion of anosognosia, that you can't win with someone labeling you on that basis, but in the drawing i don't quite get the details. Why is the person being measured in height? Is it just the idea of measurement? Am i missing something here? And is this meant to say that literally anyone could put their face in that "facehole" and fit the diagnosis well enough for the doctor? Or am i just dense? I hope these questions do not offend, as i hate it when I do not get a joke, but it is so much worse when you cant even ask what made the joke funny to other people! Thanks so much for any explanation, and please forgive me? 

Auntie Psychiatry says:
October 26th 2016

Dear Pamela - Of course you aren't dense! In fact, I'm very pleased to have some feedback about this one. Most of my cartoons are open to interpretation, but this one, I realise, is more baffling than most. Anosognosia proved to be a very difficult subject to pin down. I struggled for many months to find an angle - none of the ideas I came up with felt satisfactory. Here's how it eventually developed.

Anosogonosia = Lack of insight. According to Psychiatry, this is not just 'denial', it is the result of actual brain damage. From the Psychiatrist's point of view, patients with Anosognosia are extremely 'unwell' because they are unable to comprehend that they are ill and need 'treatment'. From the patient's point of view, there is no way to argue against this - the more he argues, the more 'ill' he appears in the eyes of the shrink. His only option is to feign acceptance and hope for the best - it is a bit like a wrongly convicted prisoner who has to admit he is guilty in order to get parole.

And so to the cartoon. The patient is acutely aware that he must convince the doctor that he is 'ill'. The poster behind him spells out the consequences if he fails to do so. The patient doesn't really believe he is ill, so he cowers behind a fa�ade, displaying to the doctor that he is in full agreement, yes siree! The fa�ade is represented by one of those photo cutout boards you get at the seaside. They are usually fun, but this one is based on a mugshot of a prisoner, which is how the patient feels in that room.

After a lot of thought, I added the caption "A shared moment of insight." The doctor is clearly thinking something too, but I'm afraid I don't know quite what that might be.
Marcellas says:
November 14th  2016

Brilliant (and spot on). Anosognosia is a reciprocating, self reinforcing double bind. What should be terrifying to the public is how easy it is to get a label and impossible it is to disprove the label, once applied.

At the moment the public takes comfort in faith of a diagnosis, and treatment that at least dosen't make things worse. I'm sure the women executed for witchcraft in Salem had the same faith, up until the time they were accused.
Bramble says:
January 18th  2017

I love your cartoons!

Auntie Psychiatry says:
January 18th 2017

Dear Bramble - That's music to my ears! Thank you so much for dropping by.

Survivor says:
February 24th  2017

Here's the real reason people aren't med-compliant: they make you sick and miserable and screw up your thinking.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
February 24th 2017

Too right. That's why I stopped taking Haldol in the 90s, and stayed the hell away from psychiatrists ever since. The push by the Treatment Advocacy Center to spread the Anosognosia meme is a very worrying development. Here's the message they are getting out there:

"Approximately 50% of individuals with schizophrenia and 40% of individuals with bipolar disorder are estimated to have co-occurring anosognosia. It is reported to be the most common reason why individuals with schizophrenia refuse to take medication; since they do not believe that there is anything wrong with them, why should they?" [emphaisis added]

And here's their 'obvious solution'...

"An obvious solution to the nonadherence problem is to switch the individual from oral medication to long-acting injectable preparations"

The writing is on the wall.
Don says:
August 7th 2017

Love them 'toons! Don't know if this is the opposite of your big term--but how about a cartoon about "medication spellbinding?" aka, Dr. Peter Breggin: 
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19th April 2017
Of Course I'm anti-psychiatry. Aren't You?

My book is now available from Amazon. Here are the links...

One happy anteater.

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Bernard says:
December 31st 2017

An absolute MUST READ!!!!! I read it from cover to cover...laughing tongue in accurate and hillariously funny were the message not seriously true.
Leaves one wondering how could we as individuals let this happen?
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9th November 2017
science media centre spellcasting

Science Media Centre: A lesson in Spellcasting

There is a very, very long background story to this cartoon. I will try my best to be brief, but please do bear wtih me. First of all, let me translate the Latin Spell.

ARGUMENTUM AD VERECUNDIAM: Argument from authority (or appeal to authority) - where something is purported to be true, simply because a knowledgeable and well-reputed person has said it.

Now the story. 

It contains this quote from Carmine Pariante, Professor of Biological Psychiatry, King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience:

“we know very well that every time an alarm reduces the rates of prescription for antidepressants, suicide rates increase, including in adolescent and young adults.”

A quick Google search traced the exact quote back to a press release from the Science Media Centre (SMC) :

“expert comments on whether antidepressants can lead people to become a murderer, as is being reported in advance of the upcoming Panorama programme ‘A Prescription for Murder?’”

So, the Newsweek journalist had sourced Pariante’s quote from the SMC website.

I’d heard a lot about this UK based Registered Charity, none of it good, but I wanted to know more. A little rooting around their website put me in the picture.

“When science hits the news agenda, it’s our job to pass on to journalists as much accurate information as we can, as quickly as possible. In order to do this we send out quotes from experts…”

Experts? Tell me more…

“The quality of our experts is important to us. The SMC recruits scientists, engineers and others who work for respected institutions, publish in peer-reviewed journals and have a track record of quality research in their specialist field.”

Uh-huh. And what is your mission?

OUR MISSION: “To provide, for the benefit of the public and policymakers, accurate and evidence-based information about science and engineering through the media, particularly on controversial and headline news stories when most confusion and misinformation occurs.”


Now, I was pretty certain that Pariante’s words were neither accurate nor evidence based, but the SMC press release provided no references to back up his bold and startling claim. So, my first port of call was Prof Pariante himself. I sent an e-mail asking him to point me at the evidence. In reply, he sent me a link to this paper:

Early evidence on the effects of regulators' suicidality warnings on SSRI prescriptions and suicide in children and adolescents. Gibbons RD1, Brown CH, Hur K, Marcus SM, Bhaumik DK, Erkens JA, Herings RM, Mann JJ. (Am J Psychiatry 2007)

Gibbons et al 2007. I know this paper. It is notorious amongst many leading academics and doctors in the field. In the words of Consultant Psychiatrist Sami Timimi: “To describe this as ‘junk science’ would be an insult to junk science.”

And he’s right. Check it out for yourself, you’ll see.

Incredulous, I e-mailed Pariante back… “Gibbons et al? Seriously?” No response. And so, I turned my attention to the SMC. How would this Registered Charity with a mission to provide “accurate and evidence based information about science” respond to being challenged?

My first step was to track down the SMC Complaints Procedure. After searching the website in vain, I put in a polite request for it by e-mail. No reply. I tried again. Still no reply. I phoned the contact number.

“Are you the person who e-mailed about this?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Well, we don’t actually have a Complaints Procedure, but we’re discussing your request, and will e-mail you soon.”

Sure enough, later that day I received an e-mail – a very helpful e-mail.

“We would be happy to receive your complaint, review it internally and pass it onto the Trustees if appropriate.”

Encouraged, I diligently gathered together the evidence, put it to them, and firmly stated my case1:

“The Science Media Centre bills itself as a reputable and reliable source for journalists [...] Journalists and the public rightfully expect to trust and rely on the information issued by the SMC. The assertion made by Prof. Carmine Pariante, and endorsed by the SMC, is misleading and without foundation.

Desired outcome: An appropriate response would be for the SMC to issue a public ‘corrections and clarifications’ notice (similar to those issued by editors of mainstream newspapers) on the SMC website.”

Three weeks later, I received this response from a Senior Press Manager.

Thank you for your email on this contentious issue. We have considered your complaint closely and there are a few points for me to address. 

First, we are not scientific experts and so do not endorse comments. This is evident in our work as we rely on and issue the views of individual scientists and, as disagreements between scientists often occur, we frequently issue sets of comments containing differing views.
Second, if a scientist feels they have made a factual error in a statement then we are happy to make amendments on our website, and have done so previously. We have not been alerted to such a concern on this occasion.

Third, if other scientists inform us that an expert has made an error, or appears to have missed key evidence, then we may decide to speak to the expert involved to discuss their response. As part of our routine work we have sent Prof Pariante’s comments to many experts across the UK and none have raised any concerns, indeed the only responses I have received have been supportive.

In result, we will not be taking any action in response to your complaint.”

Bravo! A masterful piece of institutional flimflam, neatly sidestepping all the evidence I had so carefully presented, and wilfully failing to address my central point that Pariante’s statement is misleading and without foundation.

Undeterred, I pressed on. Next step, a letter to the Board of Trustees. This time, I gathered additional evidence from specialists with recognised expertise in this area, and took a different tack to re-state my case.

“The Science Media Centre is an independent charity with the purpose of boosting public trust in science [...] In the event that information circulated by the SMC is challenged by experts as being neither accurate nor evidence-based, it is the responsibility of the organisation to conduct a full and open investigation into the complaint.

Desired outcome: For the SMC to withdraw the above statement made by Prof Pariante, and issue a public ‘corrections and clarifications’ notice on its website to inform journalists and the public of the withdrawal.”

The response was a long time coming. Worth the wait? Well, see for yourself:

“My name is Jonathan Baker and I am chair of the Trustees of the Science Media Centre.
At our autumn meeting on October 20, the Trustees considered the complaint you made about an SMC roundup relating to a BBC programme about anti-depressants. Because you were not satisfied with the initial response you received, your complaint was referred to the Trustees for discussion and resolution.

Whenever there is a contentious or new science-related issue in the public debate, or about to enter it, the SMC circulates the details to as many experts in the field as it can to solicit their responses and opinions. Those responses are then collated and circulated to journalists to help them understand and/or cover the story. This element of the SMC's work is described on the website: "One of the other ways the SMC ensures that the media have easy access to scientists and their views is by offering journalists a variety of comments from scientists reacting to the latest research."

A roundup is no more or less than that. Inclusion of a quote from a scientist does not imply any form of endorsement by the SMC. From your complaint, it appears your (sic) believe that it does, or should. But the roundup is based on the fundamental conviction that it is the scientists who are the experts, not the SMC.      

In this context, the Trustees wanted to know the answers to three questions before deciding whether or not the SMC was at fault in this case.

Was Professor Pariante a qualified and credible person to express an opinion on this issue? We believe that he was.

Were his views accurately reported by the SMC? We believe that they were.

Were his views requested on their own, or as one contribution among many from scientists with relevant expertise and credentials? In keeping with the nature of roundups, as set out above, Professor Pariante’s response was one of several received and included in the roundup. Given all of this, the view of the Trustees is that the proper, indeed standard procedure was followed in this case, and no further action is required.”

And with that, I yield. Game over.

1. The full transcript of my correspondence with the SMC is available on request.

View comments

Bob Fiddaman says:
November 22nd  2017

This is quite superb. Great cartoon and fascinating correspondence.

It appears the SMC is just like the British drug regulator, the MHRA, in as much that they refuse to acknowledge when they are wrong, thus putting many lives at risk.

Excellent article!

Auntie Psychiatry says:

So glad that you get it and you like it! That means a lot to me. I'm not kidding myself that it will make any difference at all, but maybe it will reach a few intelligent journalists and get them thinking...

truthman says:
November 22nd  2017

Great cartoon, and you hit the nail on the head- Carmine is not so much concerned with objective truth (or any other kind of truth) about anti-depressants - he is more all about the spin...

The SMC is a front group for various vested interests... none of them 'patient interests' I might add..

Great blog.. will be reading more :)

Auntie Psychiatry says:

I genuinely don't know what to make of Carmine Pariante - he has got away with spreading "unfounded poppycock" in the media about antidepressants, and yet his reasearch into the link between inflammation and "depression" is genuinely interesting. He has been kind enough to send me links to his papers which I really appreciated. Don't suppose he'll be communicating with me any more... which is a shame. I wonder if in his own mind he believes the glib statements he makes about antidepressants, or whether it really is deliberate spin (as you suggest)? I just don't know.

truthman says:
November 22nd  2017

I don't know for sure about Carmine, however I think when someone is highly invested in an ideology and belief system (which is what psychiatry is) then they will often be economical with the truth (and sometimes their own moral-code or integrity) when they seek to defend that ideology which means so much to them...

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Yes, you're right. And now this rotten ideology is spreading to all of us thanks to the SMC circulating these falsehoods via the mainstream media. How do we persuade journalists to open their eyes, start asking questions and challenge?
Michael Ashman says:
November 27th  2017

Nice to see you back at your drawing board following publication of your excellent book - which made both myself and my partner laugh and cry in equal measures.

And thanks for drawing attention to yet more evidence of how pervasively poor science backed by wizardly PR is leading society to accept medicine as the only authority on mental health.

Here's a thought: in its submission to Parliament on the Mental Health Act 1983 revisions a decade or so ago, RCPsych described itself as the leading authority on medical aspects of mental health in the UK and ROI.

So, leader in a field of one. Wow.

Auntie Psychiatry says:

Michael - thank you so much! You hit the nail on the head with "pervasively poor science backed with wizardly PR." Such intelligent people with so many years of science training all resolutely refusing to take a look at what's right in front of their noses. What is that about?
Zoe says:
February 3rd  2018

Hmm. Kind of a reverse Ad Hominem "argument." Terminal degrees and intelligence are worthless if the source lies repeatedly. They'll only use their intellect and professional knowledge to make the lies appear more credible.
Make a comment
28th April  2016 (UPDATE 31st Dec 2017)
Auntie Psychiatry: anti psychiatry cartoon blog. For Garth

For Garth.

From the other side of the world comes news of an act of such brutal treatment at the hands of Psychiatry that I can only find one word for it: Torture. Not even intervention by the UN Human Rights Council has been able to help Garth. This blatant abuse of power shames the entire profession... but where is the outcry from lead Psychiatrists?

Watch this 10 minute news report on Garth's case. Bear in mind that this was filmed in December 2015; Garth is still detained in hospital and receiving forced ECT.

For more details, see


View comments

Doughzie says:
May 23rd  2016

He was released today, 23rd May 2016 :)

Auntie Psychiatry says:
May 28th 2016

That's brilliant news! Thanks Doughzie.
Bernard says:
December 31st  2017

This information is incorrect...on 19 May 2016...Garth escaped from the hospital
after having lodged a writ in the Supreme Court on 26 April...Judge Keogh of the court scheduled a hearing for 27 April 2016.  However, the treating psychiatrist contacted the court informing the judge that G
arth was too ill to attend court.

Garth ended up in Queensland.
But after more than 100 electroShocks coupled with anesthetics and the truama was found by police to be in a state of confusion and subsequently ended up in hospital at the Royal Brisbane...where he was treated with clozapine and suffered cardiac problems and transferred to The Prince Charles Hospital where he remains incarcerated in isolation.

Details at

Auntie Psychiatry says:
December 31st 2017

Bernard - Thank you so much for getting in touch, and for the link to the 'Free Garth' website. I'm lost for words, my heart goes out to Garth. Looking through the website, I found the photographs from Garth's Album, and they really speak to me, especially the one called "Light". He is a talented artist, and I would love to know more about his work and what fires his imagination.
Boans says:
September 8th  2018

Thanks for the link to the story about Garth Daniels Auntie. I missed this when it was shown and have wondered about where he was at.
Dr Katz might make a purrrrrfect patient for Dr Lecter someday.
Love your work and am just making my way through some of it.
Make a comment
8th March 2018
auntie psychiatry tries to join forum

The Outsider Outsider

This cartoon is a (reasonably) faithful rendition of my recent encounter with the website

Some time ago, I signed up to their forum: "Schizophrenia Discussion Community for People Diagnosed, or who think they may have Psychosis," but I had never actually plucked up the courage to join in. It is a very active forum, and over the past year I'd dipped in to read a few threads. This provoked mixed emotions - sometimes I thought "this place is not for me", other times I thought "I'd really like to get to know these people."

In February I decided to the plunge. I had something I wanted to share, and so I carefully composed my first message...

"Hi, I'm new here, but I have been reading the threads to get a feeling for this forum. It seems like there is a lot of caring support amongst you all - I can see why it is such an active forum.

I will be up front and tell you straight off that I am antipsychiatry. However, I hope you will give me a chance to tell you about a new website that is now up and running which you might find really helpful. It is not antipsychiatry, it has been developed with the aim of connecting people like us in a way that goes beyond the usual websites and forums. The community is just starting to form and grow - it is exciting to be part of it and I hope you will take a look. The link is...

Alongside the main website, there is a support network for anyone thinking of withdrawing from psychiatric drugs. You can learn about layperson taper methods that reduce risk, and connect with others who have successfully withdrawn, and those who are just starting their withdrawal journey. I know that the very mention of coming off psych-drugs can arouse strong reactions on this forum, but I am anxious to let you know about this in case any of you want to join in.

Hope to see you there! Auntie Psychiatry."

OK, reading this again I realise that it sounds kind-of pushy. Maybe advertising another site in my very first message wasn't a great idea, but the replies soon started coming in: The curious "Do you take meds yourself?"  The hostile "Encouraging people to come off their meds is very irresponsible!" The friendly, "Tell us a bit about yourself."  I was happy to respond to all of them, and started to do so, feeling pleased that my debut message had not gone unnoticed. But then  a puzzling message appeared... "Uh-oh, something tells me this thread is going to be locked down..." and another post simply listing a few @names. Being naive about forums, I didn't realise that someone had called in the moderators.

Before I knew it, my initial post had disappeared for "moderation". I didn't think much about this - it was my first post, so fair enough - I thought it would reappear soon enough. The other posts in the thread seemed to be staying up, so I continued posting replies. And then, within an hour.... the entire thread disappeared! It was wiped out totally - no message, no placeholder - as though it had never existed!!

When I tried to log back in, I received this message. screenshot

Yes, that's right - Account suspended until 3018.

My first reaction was to laugh in disbelief. A thousand years! Then I got angry. What did they mean "Anti-psychiatry, anti-medication postings"?? I hadn't actually said anything anti-psychiatry or anti-medication. Had I? And even if it could be interpreted that way, where in the guidelines did it prohibit such discussions? I read them carefully, and there was nothing about it.

And so, I sent an e-mail to the administrator:

"I hope you can help me. Yesterday I posted my first message to your forum “for people who have schizophrenia”, under “Medications.” Several people replied, but soon after that the whole thread disappeared, and when I tried to log in I received the message that my account is suspended for 1000 years for “anti-psychiatry and anti-medication postings”. I would like to converse with the people on this forum, I have carefully read the community guidelines and I don’t see how my post breached them. Please could you re-instate my account? Username: Auntie Psychiatry. Many thanks for your time."

The email bounced straight back with this message:

[Schizophrenia Forums] Email issue -- Silenced User
"We’re sorry, but your email message to [SzAdmin] didn’t work.

Your account associated with this email address has been silenced."

Silenced. That is a powerful word to use.

View comments

Judy Gayton says:
March 31st  2018

Wow Auntie. In this time of free speech law suits and interest in whose controlling whose right to say what, this is a pretty bold move to take. I'm sorry they refused to hear your important messages.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
March 31st 2018

Thanks Judy. The reason I chose this subject for a cartoon (or rather, it chose me) is because the feeling of being shut out and "silenced" stayed with me for such a long time. It wouldn't be so bad if I had some way to contact them, or if they contacted me, but it's very clear that I have been comprehensively banished for 1000 years, and I am left to guess why that might be. Certainly the Forum FAQ doesn't give any clues - I didn't break any of the community guidelines.

My main concern, though, is for other people who inadvertently fall foul of these covert community rules. Not long after I was banned, a post appeared on the forum by someone who seemed very upset because a previous post of his vanished for no reason. He said he'd put a lot of time and thought into that post, and he could not understand why the moderators took exception to it. Next time I checked, that post too had disappeared, and I am pretty sure the person who posted it has not been seen since. Not such a friendly, supportive place after all.
Michael Ashman says:
April 1st  2018

Dear Auntie, this whole affair has chilling and sinister overtones. Perhaps you should take advice from Groucho Marx - "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member".

On a more serious note, your comments were responded to by some forum contributors, and one hopes that they, at least, may now be tempted to look beyond that particular forum to arenas where diversity of viewpoints is valued.

Stay cool and keep 'tooning!


Auntie Psychiatry says:
April 1st 2018

Ha! Thanks for that - very true. Incidentally, my phone ringtone is Groucho Marx singing "I'm against it" in the film "Horsefeathers."

I don't know what they have to say.
It makes no difference anyway.
Whatever it is,
I'm against it!

About the people on the forum: I console myself with the thought that if any of them have any curiosity at all about finding a better way, all they have to do is type a few key words into Google, and they will soon come across websites such as Mad in America and Inner Compass Initiative. To my eyes, the forum is a very strange place. Every so often someone will say  they are considering coming off their "meds", and others chime in to tell them how it will end very badly, as it did for them, and always does for everyone. Then the person ususally thinks better of it, and thanks the group for their support.
It's as though they are all colluding with each other to make sure that no-one strays from the straight and narrow. Many of them complain vociferously and at length about how dreadful the drugs make them feel, and how they wish they didn't have to take them, but then say they know they have a brain disease and will always have to take them. I understand their fear - there's a high chance they are risking everything, and it's true that ditching the drugs often ends badly - but it's frustrating to watch them struggle when I know how much is possible.

Bernard says:
April 18th  2018

May the Gods of the Parthenon give us peace... I do hope I will not have to be turning in my grave or from wherever to learn that these shrinks are alive and well...or do I?
Bramble says:
April 28th 2018

1000 years. That is a bit harsh. I just had a quick look at their website and E. Fuller Torrey is one of the people they thank. So you are probably not missing much.

Please tell me this is nothing to do with you

Auntie Psychiatry says:
April 28th 2018

Ha! Not me, I'm left-clawed.

"Roz Kidman Cox, a member of the 2017 judging panel, said: 'I find it disheartening and surprising that a photographer would go to such lengths to deceive the competition and its worldwide following."

Seasoned experts falling for an elaborate hoax - Who'd've thought it?

John says:
May 2018

Just love it.
Laura-Marie says:
Seotenber 13th 2018

wow, maximum creepy!!

Auntie Psychiatry says:
September 14th 2018

Yeah, you're telling me.
Iain says:
November 25th 2019

What is it with people today? Are we so fixed within the parameters of 'allowed thought' that even questioning allopathic medicine is taboo?

It appears so. This seems far more concerning than simply 'not liking' a comment or being 'offended.' The pointless rigidity of thought is really starting to wind me up.

Are people really this reactionary, are they so hopelessly trapped within what they are told?

Or is the forum you visited just another exploitative mental health 'help site' protecting its profit margins?   

Auntie Psychiatry says:
November 25th 2019

Iain - From what I can work out, is run and tightly controlled by Psychiatry Inc. in the USA. I get the impression it is more about "allowed thought" than profit margins - the creepy thing for me is how swiftly and efficiently the community sniffed out and ejected a bad 'un (me!). They have their moderators very well trained. I have just dropped by the site, and notice it hasn't been updated since 2017, although the forum is still lively and going strong... and creepy as ever.
Make a comment
24th March 2018
antidepressants: the big sell

Anatomy of a Confidence Trick

This cartoon is my take on the ruckus surrounding the Cipriani et al study published by The Lancet in February. Much has been written and said about the whole affair, I became bleary- eyed keeping up with it all. Needless to say, a swarm of ideas and images invaded my mind, and refused to settle or leave me be. I wanted to find an amusing angle for this cartoon and, in fact, my first response was bitter laughter at the sheer audacity of such a blatant PR spin-job. In the UK, we were treated to a blitz of the airwaves by several lead psychiatrists from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, all pumped up and dutifully on message: "Antidepressants work, and depresion is under-treated."  The affair gathered pace and strength on blogs and social media, it is still rumbling around, and is likely to do so for quite some time. Far from "putting the controversy to bed", as the RCPsych hoped, they have stirred up an almighty stink.

In the end, the inspiration for this cartoon came from a book by Maria Konnikova - The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the con and why we fall for it every time. For many hours I listened, entranced, to the audiobook version, and was so captivated by the gentle sound of her voice that I listened to it all again a few weeks later. Several concepts from the book stayed with me, but the one that made the biggest impression was this:

"Con artists, at their best and worst, give us meaning. We fall for them because it would make our lives better if the reality they proposed were indeed true."

A simple magic pill to make it all better? How tempting! Sounds like a con, but surely all those top-dog eminent professors can't be wrong... can they?

View comments
Bernard says:
April 18th  2018

The top-dog eminent professors have never been more wrong than NOW! But, its their salary which places them in an absolute state of denial and resistance to change.  They should have a look at the Anatomy of a confidence trickster... they could learn from it... Perhaps.. wishful thinking!

Auntie Psychiatry says:
April 18th 2018

I would love for this to happen. My hunch is that several eminent professors are taking a look at my cartoons, but I never hear a peep from them. However, there are signs that their state of denial and resistance to change is starting to crack. They are coming under massive pressure from the groundswell of anger from people harmed by these drugs, and - at long last - journalists in the mainstream media are catching on. The piece about Antidepressant Withdrawal by Benedict Carey and Robert Gebeloff in the New York Times is an important moment, I think. 
Bramble says:
April 28th  2018

I like the cartoon. A couple of months ago Carmine Pariante was saying antidepressants were "safe-and-effective" at SMC. Now it is all over the media that some antidepressants may increase risk of dementia and where is he? Not amongst those commenting on SMC.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
April 28th 2018

I think Pariante lives in a fucked-up world of his own. He appears to have been given free rein to say to the media anything that comes into his head at the time of asking. He is a great asset to Psychiatry in this respect because he can tell a fat whopper with such conviction. Is it possible that he himself believes his own screwed-up version of reality? I've never quite been able to work that out.
Michael Ashman says:
May 3rd  2018

Just watched a video of Tony Maden stating that if he became mentally ill he would take his medication. Dearie, dearie me...

Allow me to paraphrase, Auntie....
"Maden predicts that if he developed an illness which, by his own lights, impacts on his ability to make rational decisions, he would still be able to make rational decisions."
As Douglas Adams would have it "this is, of course, impossible."

Insert conclusion about psychiatrists and their grasp of reality here....................
Insert conclusion about psychiatrists and insight here........................

Make a comment
13th June 2018
doubt is our product
Doubt is Our Product

I had the idea for this cartoon while listening to the Royal Society of Medicine podcast: Episode 1. The spiel reads...

"In this episode, Prof Sir Simon Wessely, Consultant Psychiatrist and Past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Prof Clare Gerada, GP and Past Chairperson of the Royal College of General Practitioners, discuss the increasing use of antidepressants..."

And indeed they do. About ten minutes in, Sir Simon delivers a homily on the subject of "addiction". He opens with the line: "Addiction is pretty well described, and most of the population know what it is," he then patiently explains to us all how "antidepressants" are NOT addictive, and that, in any case, "addiction isn't the right issue to talk about."

As he talked, loud bells began ringing - where had I heard this before? Of course! It was the same argument that Big Tobacco put forward in the 1990s with the claim that "Nicotine is not addictive." A quick Google search uncovered uncanny parallels between the two. It didn't take long to track down the almost word-for-word same argument from RJ Reynolds Tobacco CEO, James Johnston, in his evidence to Congress in 1994. Watch this...

View comments

Michael Ashman says:
June 18th  2018

Oh Auntie, I can just see how this develops over the next few decades as anti-depressants follow the trends set by tobacco.... graphic pictures of people experiencing side effects on the packets, an alcove in the supermarket where the anti-depressants are kept behind a curtain, internet videos of dead actors telling you how they'd be alive today if they hadn't have used etc etc

And fingers crossed, Wessely and his ideology confined to the dustbin of history.

PS Big Pharma has already followed their tobacco industry colleagues by developing markets in low income countries once they'd milked all they could from the high income countries.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
June 18th 2018
Yes, but you can bet that Wessely and co will get off scot-free just as James Johnston and the others in Big Tobacco got away with it.

Michael Ashman
June 20th  2018

I remember watching those congressional hearings on a BBC documentary some years ago. Watching those CEOs squirm in response to being questioned about whether they'd want their children to smoke led to me becoming an ex-smoker. I simply no longer wanted to buy into that kind of product, put money into the pockets of those I'd seen "testifying" (under oath?) or subscribe to the world according to them. I made a similar choice with psychiatric medicines. So in a sense neither Johnston nor Wessely got off completely scot-free, even if my buying out of their version of the world is a blow they are unlikely to feel. Perhaps others will take your 'tooning to heart and reduce their markets further.

On a similar note, I wonder if you saw the RCPsych editorial "Shrink Rethink: Rebranding psychiatry" from 2017? It talks about using marketing methods to promote psychiatry. It recommends all psychiatrists to adopt a "brand architechture model", to be "brand psychiatry" and to adopt a mantra which begins "Psychiatrists are doctors who feel with their mind and think with their soul. They are just as comfortable with poetry as pathology".

When I first read this I assumed it was an April Fools spoof. Sadly no, satire has indeed been overtaken by the weirdness of actuality.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
June 20th  2018

"Perhaps others will take your 'tooning to heart and reduce their markets further."
Oh, I do hope so. It's heartening to know that you could see the psych-drugs racket in the same light as that of Big Tobacco. My guess is that most people won't see it that way because Pharma has very successfully manouvered trusted and respected members of the medical profession to do the dirty work for them.

No, I hadn't seen the "Shrink Rethink" editorial - thanks for that. As I discover time and again when researching my cartoons, Psychiatry is beyond parody. Makes my job a lot easier - they keep handed it to me on a plate.
Phil Hickey says:
June 19th  2018
 Nice work!  Perfect parallel, perfectly drawn

Auntie Psychiatry says:
June 19th 2018
Thanks Phil - I'm so glad you like it. This is one of those cartoons which lived in my head a long time. Very early on I had the parallel quotes, but how to present this visually eluded me. I got there in the end, and I'm relieved to hear that it makes sense to others because I'm never sure it will until it's out there.
fdh says:
July 28th  2018
This reminded me of this e-mail that Tracey Brown (who went on to run Sense About Science) sent to British American Tobacco:

"I have included, for interest, a number of relevant cuttings and press releases kindly supplied by Frank Furedi, Tony Eaton and Simon Wessely."

I don't think that it is known exactly what Simon Wessely provided.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
July 28th 2018
Well, well. That is quite an eye-opener. 
Make a comment
26th June 2018
Akathisia: Iatrogenic Hell

Akathisia: Iatrogenic Hell

I've been wanting to do a cartoon about akathisia for a while, but was stuck for ideas of how to portray the concept in picture form. Then I read a conversation in the comments section of David Healy's June 7th blog post discussing this very topic. One particular suggestion by Laurie O. stuck in my mind and wouldn't leave me be: an illustration of the hangman game with the word AKATHISIA spelled out in the spaces underneath.

Why the image of a hanging figure? At its worst, akathisia can cause such intense torment that the sufferer's only escape is suicide, often by violent means such as hanging. Loved ones are left with many painful questions as the death was usually unforeseen and completely out of character.

While researching the subject of akathisia, I sought out medical definitions of the word, and watched as much youtube footage of people suffering as I could bear. I was struck by the contrast in language. The main phrase I encountered on medical sites was "inner restlessness." That nearly made its way into my wordsearch, but when I listened to the words of people in the throes of akathisia, I realised this was an insipid, appeasing kind of phrase. So I gritted my teeth and made a note of the recurring themes from the youtube footage. Torment. Torture. Terror. Living nightmare. Destroyed. Horror movie. Constant fear. Incessant movement. No relief. Bugs under the skin. Lonely. Isolating. Humiliating. Dismissed. Disbelieved.

And as I collected these words, I remembered my own brush with akathisia. It was many years ago, quarter of a century, in fact. On admission to a psych-ward, I was drugged up with enough haloperidol to floor an elephant. Despite being billed as a powerful "antipsychotic", it made not a dint in my raging insanity. A few weeks later I crash landed, and found myself trapped in an unfamiliar body with a will of its own. By then I was compos mentis enough to recognise these weird, involuntary movements as the drug-induced extrapyramidal symptoms I had studied at University. My main fear was Tardive Dyskinesia, and I voiced my concern to the psychiatrist. He listened, then gestured to my jiggling, kicking right leg and said: "Well, tardive dyskinesia comes later. For now, you have akathisia."

When I listen to the youtube accounts of akathisia, or hear of yet another youngster on psych-drugs found hanging, I feel that I escaped lightly.

 To Laurie O: If you are reading this - thank you for the inspiration.  

4th July 2018: UPDATE

I'm happy to say that Laurie O. has found my website and e-mailed me to ask for permission to use this cartoon for tee-shirts. Absolutely! I only have one goal with this work - to raise awareness - so please feel free to use the images for that.  Re-visiting the cartoon, I realised it works perfectly well as an actual wordsearch puzzle, so here is a blank version for people print off and distribute - Go nuts!

akathisia puzzle

View comments

Deirdre says:
July 4th 2018

This is great! And to find your website.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
July 4th 2018

Deirdre, Thank you very much - I'm so glad you found me!

Streetphotobeing says:
July 5th 2018

This is very important indeed. Akathisia is one of the most devastatingly horrific conditions anyone can suffer, and certainly a major cause of suicide ideation and completed suicide. But it seems that even psychiatrists who are well aware of all the evidence refuse to accept it. This is because they have prescribed SSRI's and lurking at the back of their minds, know full well that they are responsible for this utterly horrific condition. It is a totally preventable iatrogenic extreme state caused by doctors who refuse to accept they are responsible, backed up by a state that also refuses to accept responsibility. Pharmacogenetics will prove Akathisia has been caused by doctors. And these doctors need to be held to account for this terrible human rights abuse that has caused more serious psychiatric labels, (psychosis/serious depression for life) death and ruined lives and families. We need to demand compensation.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
July 5th 2018
"It is a totally preventable iatrogenic extreme state caused by doctors who refuse to accept they are responsible, backed up by a state that also refuses to accept responsibility."

Yes, and "Mental Health Charities" with their "anti-stigma" campaigns and celebrity puppets pushing more and more people towards doctors for "treatment"... and the mainstream media conveniently failing to ask any questions about prescription psych-drugs when reporting yet another death by hanging, instead lamenting the terrible lack of funding for "Mental Health care" ... it's all win, win, win for Psychiatry.

Michael Ashman says:
July 7th 2018

Hi Auntie! Wow, this is poignant and hard-hitting 'tooning about a dreadful treatment-induced experience which too many suffer without justification - or indeed, justice.

One of the things I've seen over the years is psychiatrists prescribing SSRIs to people who are low. Some of the poor folk then develop horrible agitation and the psychs claim that they have uncovered bipolar disorder. The "medical" interpretation is that as the person bounced back from the low, they went high due to latent bipolar affective disorder. No darlings, you haven't revealed a disease, you've imposed one. RIP primum non nocere.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
July 7th 2018

Primum non nocere - First, do no harm.

"The "medical" interpretation is that as the person bounced back from the low, they went high due to latent bipolar affective disorder."

A diagnosis of a lifelong severe mental illness that no-one can prove wrong because there are no objective tests, so from this point forward you're on a slippery slope with nothing to hold on to. More drugs, more iatrogenic damage, more fictitious diagnoses... and sliding down you go.
Bill Bradford says:
September 3rd 2018

I'm a surviving victim of the lies of the pseudoscience drug racket known as "psychiatry".

My own personal experience is called "anecdotal".

But yes, psych drugs in general, and so-called "anti-depressants", BOTH, made me more violent, and even suicidal, than I was before the drugs, or have been since getting off the drugs. Thank God I didn't hurt anybody, OR myself, when I was on the psych drugs. If I'd known then, what I know now, I would NEVER have gone to the psychs, or taken their poison pills. Psychiatry is nothing more than 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. And yes, there are NUMEROUS examples in my own medical record, alone: PSYCHIATRISTS LIE!....

Auntie Psychiatry says:
September 5th 2018

Bill - thank you. Your experience is not "anecdotal" it is all too real, and all too familiar.

You said: "If I'd known then, what I know now, I would NEVER have gone to the psychs, or taken their poison pills."

A familiar refrain - let's keep spreading that message in the hope of saving others from the same fate. As Streetphotobeing says: Going to a doctor with a ‘MH’ condition is like getting out of the boat….  Apocylypse Now (YouTube 13 seconds)
Aria says:
November 17th 2018

Years ago I had a consultation with a neurologist who told me I had the worst Akathisia he's ever seen. I had no idea what he was talking about? Why hadn't my psychiatrist noticed? Because he ceased seeing me as a person years ago. I can't think of adequate words to describe Akathisia.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
November 18th 2018

Aria - I'm so sorry to hear this. Psychiatrists are wilfully ignorant about the neurological damage caused by their reckless drug pushing. They have to be, otherwise they wouldn't be able to do the job. That's why it's so important for us to get the word "akathisia" out there and understood by as many people as possible. Spread the word!
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23rd October 2018
antidepressants: the big spin

Antidepressants: The Big Spin

The heat is on for the Royal College of Psychiatrists. For years now, senior members of the profession have made very public pronouncements that "antidepressants" are safe, non-addictive and life-saving. The mainstream media has given them an easy ride - they are, after all, leaders in their field, trusted for their expert knowledge and integrity. But for how much longer?

As the public mood on antidepressants begins to sour, the Royal College of Psychiatrists will quietly disassociate itself from this stance. It is already happening.

In January 2015, RCPsych uploaded this video to Youtube: Coming off antidepressants

This pithy review by 'perimele6' captures the overall tone of people's comments...

"Why doesn't this weird little video just come out and admit it: antidepressants are physically addictive and stopping causes awful withdrawal? It's creepy how this video invokes authority to skirt the issue..."

But catch it while you can because official guidance from the College on this matter is disappearing fast. The commentary on the video ends by saying "To find out more about coming off antidepressants, visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists website."

And there is a helpful link to the RCPsych Health Advice webpage...

Coming off antidepressants
"The resource you're looking for is not available. It may have been moved or deleted."

How long before the link to this video goes the same way?

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SPB says:
October 24th 2018

Just to explain to the public why these drugs and many other drugs are so dangerous. We all have metabolising enzymes which break down the drugs. We have a one size fits all drug health system but we DO NOT have a one size fits all enzyme metabolising system.....we are ALL different. An area of science called Pharmacogenetics proves this. If you are unable to metabolise the drugs correctly you can become toxic, drug toxicity can cause a condition called Akathisia which at it's worst is toxic psychosis. It is THE condition which causes suicide ideation,  completed suicide and even attempted and actual murder.

To boot there is a gene test which has been around for a long time which predicts the phenotype (strength of enzymes) but nobody in the UK gets this test and few know about it.

Now if you are unfamiliar to all this you may find it difficult and confusing, but it is very important to know, so do work on understanding it.  


Pharmacogenetics Made Easy: Youtube (3min 30 secs)

Made-to-measure medicine BBC article: (note the date 8 April 2000)

Adverse Reactions to Psychiatric Drugs: Youtube

Cytochrome P450 Genotype Panel explained: Youtube

Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide, and Crime  by Peter R. Breggin M.D.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
October 27th 2018

SPB: "To boot there is a gene test which has been around for a long time which predicts the phenotype (strength of enzymes) but nobody in the UK gets this test and few know about it."

I’ve been trying to dig into this - it seems that public awareness in the US is much more advanced, and the American Psychiatric Association is clearly getting nervous. The APA set up a "task-force" to investigate and report back on these tests. Who chaired the task-force? One Dr Charles Nemeroff MD Ph.D. Now where have I heard that name before...?
Psychiatric News: Task force on Pharmacogenomic Testing

And here's more from the APA's Psychiatric News...
A 15-year-old girl presents with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. You suggest fluoxetine to treat both conditions, given its extensive testing in young people with depression; however, her mom tells you her daughter can’t take fluoxetine “because of her genes.” She hands you the print-out of a commercial genetic test indicating that fluoxetine should only be used “with increased caution and more frequent monitoring."

If you haven’t encountered a scenario like this yet, you may soon [...] Some psychiatrists with expertise in genetics and pharmacology have a counter message for clinicians and the public: Not so fast.

SPB says:
October 28th 2018

Dr Charles Nemeroff MD Ph.D. Now where have I heard that name before...?"

Oh yes indeed: From the NY Times 2008

"One of the nation’s most influential psychiatrists earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules, according to documents provided to Congressional investigators.

In one telling example, Dr. Nemeroff signed a letter dated July 15, 2004, promising Emory administrators that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from GlaxoSmithKline to comply with federal rules. But on that day, he was at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., earning $3,000 of what would become $170,000 in income that year from that company — 17 times the figure he had agreed on."

Auntie Psychiatry says:
October 27th 2018

Yes, that's him. Looks like he's back.
SPB says:
October 25th 2018

Also the drugs themselves and common food stuffs inhibit/block the enzymes, they include: black tea, black pepper, garlic, ginseng, curcumin, cinnamon, grape fruit, valerian (found in natural sleep aids)  

Table of Inhibitors - Cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes

When food and drugs collide (Article from Today's Dietician)

So what does this mean ? Well you could be eating foods and taking supplements that are actually contributing to you becoming toxic on psychiatric drugs.
Michael Ashman says:
October 26th 2018

Auntie, I've come to the conclusion that RCPsych have generously taken it upon themselves to believe their own hyperbole in order that the rest of us don't have to.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
October 27th 2018

LOL! They are certainly full of it.
Bramble says:
October 31st 2018

Nice one Auntie!
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Of Course I'm anti-psychiatry. Aren't You?
Of course I'm Anti-Psychiatry. Aren't You?

Psychiatry is the only branch of medicine to be dogged by an unshakeable nemesis: anti-psychiatry.

Day-by-day around the world, the anti-psychiatry voice is gaining strength and growing in confidence. But why are ever-greater numbers of people beginning to speak out against psychiatry? What does it mean to be anti-psychiatry in the 21st Century?

The answers are complex, deep-rooted and tricky to excavate - a job for a creature with an elongated snout, formidable fore-claws, fearsome spirit… and a fondness for honey ants. Step forward Auntie Psychiatry.

11th January 2019
shill shaming

Shill Shaming

Shill [Slang] - a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.

Shills tend to be shameless by nature, but in this cartoon, I give "Shill Shaming" my best shot. It was inspired by the recent collaboration between the Royal College of Psychiatrists and BBC News on a 'video story' to bring the phrase 'Pill Shaming' to greater public awareness...

"The Royal College of Psychiatrists is worried that people are being made to feel so ashamed that they're put off getting help for conditions such as anxiety and depression."

Are people really "being made to feel ashamed" for trusting doctors and taking prescription drugs? And why is guild Psychiatry so keen to involve mainstream media in pushing the "End Pill Shaming" rhetoric? As more and more cases of prescribed harm caused by "antidepressants" bubble to the surface, and journalists become emboldened to write about the issue, Psychiatry is looking to shore-up its untenable position. Rather than face up to the crushing weight of evidence that these drugs were never as "safe and effective" as they have claimed over the years, they take refuge in idiotic one-liners and soundbites. "Antidepressants are life-savers. Antidepressants are not addictive. Don't listen to scaremongerers. Talk to your doctor."

Psychiatry's PR machine is pretty formidible, but the cracks are starting to show... what next, I wonder?

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Bramble says:
January 18th 2019

Nice one auntiepsychiatry! How many people take antidepressants every year now in the UK? Is it about one in seven? And that isn't enough for psychiatrists? What would make them happy I wonder - when would they actually say that is enough now?
Michael Ashman says:
January 22nd 2019

What next? you ask, Auntie. What would make psychiatrists happy? you ask, Bramble. The role of psychiatry has historically been to impose norms of behaviour on the rest of us. So next, I suppose, is that taking psychotropic medication will become the new norm (though some folk may argue this has already happened). Will this make "them" happy? I suspect not. The medical gaze extends ever further into the realms of our lives, scouting out latent insanity wherever it exists, seeking fresh "clinical material". Psychiatry has done this for the almost 200 years of its existence,and there is no sign it has ever made any psychiatrist happy enough to call this expansionist process to a halt. There has to be some natural end point though - if we are all mad then the logic of "madness" as "different to the norm" simply defeats itself.

BTW, "clinical material" is a phrase I borrowed from some old clinical textbooks. Apparently it means "people".
Auntie Psychiatry says:
January 23rd 2019

If there is a natural end point, it's not yet in sight for Simon Wessely. Here is a transcript of an interview he did for the Royal Society of Medicine podcast in August 2018 - he'd clearly prepared his answer in advance for this question...

Interviewer: "Are there too many antidepressants prescribed, would you say?"

Wessely: "I think it's the wrong question actually... the right question is... "Are sufficient people who might benefit from antidepressants actually taking them?" And the answer is still "no". ... I think it's only a quarter of people are getting anything like the best treatments for depression... most people still aren't getting treated."

(BTW, I was going to post the link to this podcast, but it is no longer available)
Michael Ashman says:
January 24th 2019

"Sir" Simon's borrowing of that type of rhetoric from politicians just reveals him to be a peddlar of ideology: "Blah, blah, burden of mental illness, blah, blah blah........."

Keep on 'tooning Auntie!
Rachel777 says:
May 1st 2019

No one talks about the shame heaped upon the "treatment resistant" who don't feel better after taking the snake oil.

I wish the psychiatrists COULD feel shame. It might make the difference in their "aha!" moment like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Hitting bottom is what ex alcoholics call it.
Michele Buring says:
May 7th 2019

I am loving all your magnificent work.  Ever since going into a devastating and prolonged  venlafaxine (Effexor) withdrawal - tapered under medical supervision -  which included diabolical insomnia and AKATHISIA...  not even knowing what the latter was and being plunged into a profound terror; and then the horrific and prolonged process of being further terrorised by the corruption of the medical system which placed a whole new horror label on that which then ended up leading to about 25 unwanted needles in my body (which thank goodness I was finally able to do some tricky footwork to get away from in spite of being further stupefied by all this)

I rejoice at all the people coming forward and standing up and speaking out the truth! I love it that you are Shill Shaming here:) Yes! We are shaming the shills who push the pills! Thank you:)

Auntie Psychiatry says:
May 7th 2019

Michele - Great to hear from you! I don't know what it will take to truly shame the shills - they are pretty damn resistant. Here is Bob Fiddaman's take on a recent appearance of Professor Carmine Pariante on the BBC - it has to be seen to be believed...
Pariante's Dish of the Day
Initially NO says:
May 20th 2019

The best poster & blog on the shills for pharma/ whitecoat trolls on the payroll. Thank you! You are a brilliant think through, and fantastic visionary.
Boans says:
September 13th 2019

This one left me Shill Shocked Auntie, lol.

They really are old cons, much of the stuff used by Mental Health professionals. Three card montes, and the replacement of the pea under the three shells with the latest brain damaging drug. It wouldn't be as bad if you had a choice of whether you got to 'play', but with police pointing a gun at your head to have you speak to these 'professionals' you don't even get the chance to not be the mark of a con person. At least the street conman has to use a bit of tact to get you to play.

Auntie Psychiatry says:
September 13th 2019

Shill shocked - good one! Why didn't I think of that?

I like the analogy of the shell game con trick, it's an image I've turned over in my mind for a cartoon from time to time. Never quite crystallised, but I'll keep mulling it over.
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