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Letter   |    
David J. Rissmiller; Joshua Rissmiller
Psychiatric Services 2006; doi:

In Reply: The authors appreciate Dr. McCommon's letter and the opportunity to respond. As stated in our Open Forum, founders of the antipsychiatry movement were closely aligned with other counterculture movements of the day, including the gay rights movement. Foucault's The History of Sexuality, which has become "canonical" for both gay and lesbian studies, warned that the scientific description of sexuality may be part of the state's agenda of controlling it. Laing's phrase "the personal is political" was a key rallying cry for the Gay Liberation Front. In 1965 Szasz took "direct aim at the pathologization of homosexuality" (1).

The statement attributed to Mr. Kameny—"I was not then aware, and am today still unaware, of an actual, organized 'anti-psychiatry movement' "—is in marked contradiction to the views of other authors. In Homosexuality and Psychoanalysis, Dean and Lane (2) stated that "the most powerful influence on the British and French gay movements arguably was the antipsychiatry movement." Bébout (3), writing about the genesis of the gay and lesbian periodical The Body Politic, which ran for 15 years, noted, "Psychiatry, or rather antipsychiatry, preoccupied the early gay movement in a way many might now find surprising." In A History of Bisexuality, Angelides (4) wrote that the "gay liberation critique of psychomedical discourses of sexuality was made possible by (and indeed often explicitly grounded in) traditions of antipsychiatry." He pointed out that the "more militant gay liberation movement … in many ways served as an adjunct of the broader movement of antipsychiatry."

As to the specific militant action at the APA annual meeting, some contextual background may help. The protest occurred during the first week of May 1971 in Washington, D.C, during one of the most disruptive actions of the Vietnam War era. Antiwar activists were trying to shut down the federal government. The threat caused by these May Day protests culminated in the largest mass arrest in U.S. history. The APA held its meeting in the midst of this unrest. Rennie Davis, a prominent leader of the antiwar protest, spoke at the meeting. The antipsychiatrist Szasz was there protesting the labeling of drug addiction as a mental illness. Psychiatrists from both of these groups were intermingling; some undoubtedly believed in multiple antiestablishment causes. In an article about Kameny, Johnson (5) described the scene: "Along with members of the Gay Liberation Front and anti-war protesters, Kameny stormed the convention."

Even if the entire group that participated in interrupting and shouting down psychiatrist speakers is not considered part of the antipsychiatry movement, we believe that within the group there were a number of antipsychiatrists. Although Kameny's grabbing the microphone and proclaiming "Psychiatry is the enemy incarnate" might be construed as antipsychiatry rhetoric, the authors will accept his view that he was never an antipsychiatrist, and we apologize for any unintentional inference. In addition, we do not know whether public pressure prompted or accelerated the 58 percent psychiatric vote to delete homosexuality from the DSM in 1973.

Greenberg G: Right answers, wrong reasons: revisiting the deletion of homosexuality from the DSM. Review of General Psychology 1:256-270, 1997
 
Dean T, Lane C (eds): Homosexuality and Psychoanalysis. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2001
 
Bébout R: On the Origin of the Body Politic: part 3: October 28, 1971. Available at http://webhome.idirect.com/~rbebout/oldbeep/coming.htm
 
Angelides S: A History of Bisexuality. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2001
 
Johnson DK: Dr. Kameny: America's first gay activist, in Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Edited by Bullough V. Binghamton, NY, Haworth, 2002. Available at www.rainbowhistory.org/kamenybio.pdf
 
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References

Greenberg G: Right answers, wrong reasons: revisiting the deletion of homosexuality from the DSM. Review of General Psychology 1:256-270, 1997
 
Dean T, Lane C (eds): Homosexuality and Psychoanalysis. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2001
 
Bébout R: On the Origin of the Body Politic: part 3: October 28, 1971. Available at http://webhome.idirect.com/~rbebout/oldbeep/coming.htm
 
Angelides S: A History of Bisexuality. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2001
 
Johnson DK: Dr. Kameny: America's first gay activist, in Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Edited by Bullough V. Binghamton, NY, Haworth, 2002. Available at www.rainbowhistory.org/kamenybio.pdf
 
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