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The Policies and Practices of American Psychiatry Are Oppressive
Leonard Roy Frank
Psychiatric Services 1986; doi:
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One of psychiatry's most pressing challenges is to develop a productive dialogue with former patients who feel that psychiatry has compromised their civil rights, denied them control of their lives, and impaired their physical and emotional health. In this issue, Leonard Roy Frank, cofounder of the Network Against Psychiatric Assault, and psychiatrist Harvey Ruben consider whether the policies and practices of American psychiatry are oppressive. Their papers are based on a debate at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting held May 18-24, 1985, in Dallas. Dr. Ruben's rebuttal begins on page 501.

Berkeley, California

1986 American Psychiatric Association

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The author argues that psychiatry is not a medical specialty but an instrument for the social control of people whose ideas, actions, values, and life-styles threaten or disrupt established power relationships within families, communities, or society. Psychiatry's instruments for social control are involuntary incarceration and so-called treatent in facilities in which inmates are brutalized, harassed, neglected, and humiliated. The major somatic psychiatric treatment—drugs, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and lobotomy—have produced an epidemic of neurological and brain dysfunction, such as tardive dyskinesia, associated with neuroleptic drugs, and memory impairment, associated with ECT. The author condemns the freezing experiments conducted on psychiatric inmates in the United States and on concentration-camp inmates in Germany during the 1940s.

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