You will become mentally ill in 2013

Straitjacket-rear.jpgToronto is a lovely and tolerant city full of amazing resources for LGBT people and their allies. My many visits resulted in nothing but the fondest of memories. However, Toronto/Ontario taxpayers unwittingly harbor and nurture the most reactionary sexologists in the world. They are all clustered at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), formerly the Clarke Institute, nicknamed "Jurassic Clarke" for its antiquated views on sex and gender minorities.

Now CAMH "experts" have set their sights on declaring many of you mentally disordered because of your sexual preferences. Do you prefer people who are "too fat," or "too skinny," or "too tall," or "too short"? Do you think transgender people are beautiful, or do you prefer to date disabled people? Do you get tingly watching sexy cartoons or prefer dressing up and roleplaying during sex? Do you like dating people who are "too old" or "too young" for you? Under the expanded definition of "paraphilia" which CAMH experts hope to codify in 2013, you will likely become a mentally ill paraphilic. This diagnosis could then be put in your medical records and other databases, with all the attendant joys of being declared mentally disordered.

And if that diagnosis doesn't fit, there's always "video game addiction" and "internet addiction," both under discussion for inclusion in the APA's 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Read on, future sickos.

Image: So i herd u liek web pr0n and exbawks. Images via Wikimedia Commons

Let's start with "paraphilia." Currently led by U.S. imports Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard, Toronto's CAMH "experts" have weaseled their way into key positions in the government, in Toronto universities, in most sexology trade groups, as well as in the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. Because the field of sexology commands little academic respect, it's a bit of an intellectual vacuum where a lot of mediocre minds find a home.

Zucker and Blanchard have spent the last three decades setting the tone for the academic pathologization of transgender people, and now they are eyeing many of you. They're poised to extend their influence even further by broadly expanding the definition of "paraphilia." The concept of "paraphilia" was created in the 1920s to cover all criminal sexual interests. Homosexuality used to be classified as a paraphilia, but since sexology is just a bunch of politicians in labcoats, they eventually changed their minds about that. They also changed their minds about homosexuality being a mental disorder in 1973, but they kept paraphilia in place.

ray-blanchard.jpgRay Blanchard, who refuses to publicly acknowledge his own sexuality, is leading the push to expand paraphilia. His new proposed definition classifies paraphilia as sexual preference for someone who is not "phenotypically normal." Blanchard and pals are also seeking to make a wide range of sexual interests into thoughtcrimes. You can be diagnosed even if you never act out your fantasies, but just think about them. Before, paraphilias were only diagnosed if they caused "clinical distress," but under the current definition, even those who have self-acceptance about their sexual interests can be diagnosed as mentally disordered. Did I mention that having "too much" or "too little" sex, or painful intercourse are also mental illnesses? These are usually diagnosed for women, where "paraphilia," according to these guys, afflicts men. They consider paraphilia an "erotic target location error," part of a range of "courtship disorders" that can occur in men.

In 2008 Toronto taxpayers shelled out CDN$325,000 to pay Zucker and Blanchard for all their hard work pathologizing people worldwide, including the previously mentioned reparative therapy on gender-variant children.

As for internet and video game addiction, there's a growing movement that questions the very concept of "addiction," which is a big problem for a place named the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. We argue that "addiction" is a metaphor that couches human habits in pseudo-medical language, and as Thomas Szasz says, the only reason to make the distinction between habit and addiction "is to persecute somebody."

If you are living in Ontario, do not under any circumstance seek services at CAMH. Go to the Sherbourne Clinic or to The 519, or to many other better options that won't treat your interests as addiction and disease. And for the rest of you, enjoy the next three years while you're still legally sane.

Time's up for psychiatry's bible (New Scientist)


  1. Well, I’ll never let anybody label me mentally ill. Not even the little purple moose who lives in my socks. Shush, you! They’re coming for my teeth!

  2. so…. what’s the term for pervs obsessed with observing, discussing, and classifying other people’s sex lives?

    I propose ‘Vicarillia’.

  3. I gather that you’re a bit annoyed with CAMH but could you try refuting their actual research instead of denouncing all of the psychiatrists and psychologists who work there as quacks? You seem a little vague on the specifics.

    1. There’s no science to discuss, only pseudoscience. For refutations, see:

      This kind of “research” can’t be refuted in the sense I think you mean, since the whole conceptual framework is pseudoscientific. We need a general-market book for sex “science” that is akin to what ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ is for race “science.”

      The reparative therapists and Washington Times want to keep things as is; here are their arguments:

    2. Blanchard said the opposite of what James is claiming – his proposal for the DSM from his website is “are all paraphilias ipso facto psychiatric disorders? Our subgroup is taking the position that they are not.”and “A paraphilic disorder … causes distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others”. Why on Earth should Blanchard “publicly acknowledge” his sexuality? Sounds a lot like what HUAC used to ask its witnesses.

      1. @markbellis#52: Blanchard’s theoretical and taxonomic frameworks are seen through the lens of his own sexuality and his advocacy of plethysmography. He divides each sex and gender minority he studies into four types:
        – penised homosexuals (gay men)
        – non-penised homosexuals (lesbians)
        – penised non-homosexuals (straight men)
        – non-penised non-homosexuals (straight women)

        In order to maintain this rigid taxonomy, he makes claims that a transsexual woman is really “a man without a penis,” and similar comments about the penises of trans men. It’s pretty bizarre when you step back and look at taxonomies organized around penises and homosexuals.

        Blanchard’s being “non-admitting” about his own sexual interests seems pretty hypocritical for someone whose work pathologizes other people for not being “non-admitting” about their sexual interests. It’s a theme of his work that raises important questions about disclosure, bias, and possibly even conflict of interest.

        “Paraphilic disorder” is no different than the now-discredited “ego-dystonic homosexuality,” another disease these experts concocted that was briefly an official illness in the DSM. These “experts” continue to make the same mistakes again and again, as if they have no sense of history and a complete disconnect the larger philosophical issues.

          1. markbellis#72: I didn’t have the term in quotations as you do. I am explaining how his theoretical taxonomies break down.

            Here’s his work with the non-homosexual taxonomy:

            Here’s his work on penised people he can measure with the device developed by his mentor Kurt Freund:

            For non-penised people, these “experts” use a vaginal photoplethysmograph, but Blanchard doesn’t focus on that.

            That’s why his taxonomies are based on the presence or absence of a penis. This is most notable in his work on trans women, which he calls “shemales” (with a penis) or postoperative (“man without a penis”). He is the only researcher who thinks it’s acceptable to use the term “she-male” as if it were a scientific descriptor, instead of a term of abuse popularized by pornography.

          2. It’s in quotations because it’s a quotation of what you wrote. I was trying to find out if it was something Blanchard had said or if it was your interpretation of Blanchard’s work. Instead of google searches, can you supply any direct quotes from works published by Blanchard that contradict his statement that he does not want to see paraphilias that do not harm the subject or others classified as diseases? This was the main point of your article, and it is not supported by anything that I’ve read so far – far from being hostile to the transgendered, Blanchard is on the record as supporting government financed sex change operations.
            I’d also question the statement that people should not go to CAMH but rather the clinic or the community centre you named – CAMH is a major psychiatric hospital with lots of other functions beside the Gender Identity Clinic whose research you criticized – the 519 community centre doesn’t have any psychiatric facilities at all, just some counselling – it could lead to someone’s death if someone who was suicidal refused to go to CAMH and instead went to the 519 because boing-boing told them to.

          3. @markbellis#76: Blanchard supports sex reassignment surgery because their clinic got tons of government funding to control access to those services. The main sex reassignment clinic in Canada will not take referrals from Blanchard because of CAMH policies (they reject the vast majority of people who come to them for surgery referrals). Blanchard was involved in the 2000 revision to DSM-IV, adding paraphilias he created and stating that many paraphilias can be diagnosed even if the person who has them does not experience any subjective distress or impaired functioning. If someone wants to go to a hospital, they should be aware of the problems at CAMH that extend beyond their sex and gender people. It’s Canada’s most notorious psychoprison for a reason.

  4. Since race is expressed as phenotype, this makes interracial dating/marriage a mental disorder.

    IQ and hair color are also the expression of phenotypes, making dumb blondes off limits for the rest of us.

  5. CAMH did wonders for a friend of mine with bipolar disorder. Perhaps there are a few quacks working there, but the good it does for those with more “normal” mental disorders is immeasurable.

  6. that’s why prudent individuals in this orwellian society keep our fantasies in our heads. nobody chooses what gets them off, it just sort of IS. given that, how is ones sexual preference any different than ones skin color, or gender?

    certainly one could make the slight but important distinction between the two, insomuch as ones skin color isn’t an impetus to act. rape fantasies aren’t uncommon, and i’d be willing to bet that for every pederast who’s ever assaulted a child, there’s 100 more out there content to simply beat off to it. but i think it’s important to address that while people dont choose what gets them off, many fantasies are of an illegal or violent nature, and it’s crucial that the line is drawn between consensual fantasy role playing vs. the (sometimes) criminal acts they simulate.

    sad but true, i found it necessary to spell out the difference between thoughtcrime and crime. damn. it’s one of those moments when, despite relative freedom and prosperity, I suddenly realize that a lot of battles for sanity and dignity and privacy have been, and are being, lost.

    if it’s your dream to lick hot sauce out of the armpit of a bald paraplegic while German folk music plays in reverse, and you can find a willing partner with which to act it out, that doesn’t make you mentally ill. At most it makes you incredibly resourceful; many people can’t find vanilla sex if their life depended on it.

  7. Sexologists are people who are trained in sexology. There are specialized graduate level programs in clinical sexology which provide a realistic and non-doctrinal grounding in the science and history of sex.

    Psychologists do not receive much formal/academic training in sex. They are seldom qualified to opine on sex though, of course, they do all the time. Blanchard and Zucker are sexologists the way “Dr. Phil” is a doctor.

    Shame on the Canadian government for being conned by these quacks.

    signed, a trained clinical sexologist

  8. A very good friend of mine who ISN’T mentally ill has been nevertheless diagnosed as such by the doctors at CAMH, and trapped in their system for four years and counting.

    He is the first and only mental institution inmate in Canada to launch his own business while committed. He ran a web design company.

    The doctors at CAMH eventually released him, but The disclosures they forced him to make ensured he could never get a job, so he used an inheritance to buy a house to rent out to roommates in order to have a place to live and an income. The CAMH doctors approved of this until a few days before his release, until they reversed their position and forbade him to rent to tenants, after he’d already bought the house. At their whim he was on the hook for a mortgage but not granted the right to seek employment without telling his potential employer, “I’m a dangerous mental institution ex-convict.”

    He eventually launched a budding computer sales and repair store in 2008, but in order to keep cash flow up, he began renting to tenants off-the-record.

    Through one of his tenant’s connections the local police learned of this and arrested him this past Christmas Day, bringing him back to CAMH. He expected to be released by New Year’s Day on condition that he live alone or with a family member (although he would still be allowed to rent out his house). However, the CAMH board somehow succeeded in firing or reassigning the doctor who represented him. Now my friend has to sit in a CAMH ward, with internet and telephone access according to their caprice, for another month while a new doctor catches up on his case information enough to fight for his release, and while his computer shop remains closed.

    Once you’re in the CAMH system, you’re completely stripped of your rights as a free citizen of Canada. I’ve seen it first hand and applaud my friend for being able to survive with a smile on his face most of the time.

    For the sake of privacy I will not go into the circumstances of my friend’s initial involvement with CAMH nor describe the sick physical and psychological torture they’ve inflicted on him and countless others under their captivity with the intent of generating false positives as proof of a mental disorder. (Andrea, if you want some specifics, I might be able to get my friend on the CAMH ward phone for an interview.) It’s frustrating just to type about the injustices my friend has had to deal with. He’s hoping one day for a full discharge whereupon his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be mostly reinstated.

    CAMH IS FUCKING EVIL. Thank you, Andrea and BoingBoing, for letting the public know.

    1. One wonders what the supposed “disorder” your friend was misdiagnosed with is. You should help your friend find a lawyer, and perhaps a second opinion at a more reputable clinic, with a real psychiatrist, as opposed to a psycho.

  9. One wonders if the good Dr. Aubrey Levin, formerly known for his work against the pink menace in apartheid South Africa, and now ensconced at the University of Calgary, is helping out…

  10. What!? now I am going to be branded mentally ill due to the fact that I can only get aroused in free fall and copulate whilst parachuting?

    I’m a sad sad Paraphile then.

  11. Ah, yes, the Clarke Institute. I was only ever in there once visiting a friend. One of my best friends was stuck in there and given so much Haldol on admission that her periods stopped for 8 months. What a hell hole.

    As for you frightening psychologists, I have this to say. You will be old and easily frightened when the children whose lives you are f*cking over reach an age when they can get a class action suit together. It’s harder to do in Canada than it is in the US, but the motivation to see you pilloried and stripped of your professional cachet – and cash – will be unswerving. The taxpayers need to cut you loose so they don’t have to pay for your stupidity with legal awards later.

    When children tell their parents they don’t feel like they are in the right body, they need support and love and good intel. They don’t need bigots with PhD’s telling everyone in earshot that they are ‘confused’ and that with years of expensive therapy they can be ‘normalized’.

    As a Canuck, I’m just disgusted by this. On top of Afghanistan, the winter Olympics, & taser happy cops this is one hell of a maraschino cherry.

    1. seriously, Canada is off to a bad start for 2010. i think America might be contagious. y’all should have that looked at.

  12. No problems there. I never take off my Masonic underwear to have liaisons with my right hand. Ha! Take that sex Nazis at CAMH!

  13. “Since race is expressed as phenotype, this makes interracial dating/marriage a mental disorder.”

    Good point. Since I’m Caucasian and I happen to think that Asian are attractive, does that make me paraphillic? And, to make matters worse, I even went so far as to marry a wonderful lady from Cambodia; does that confirm the diagnosis?

    Or…if I was a young lady, say 25 years old or so, and for some perverted reason I found 65-year old Ray Blanchard “attractive”, would that make me as paraphillic, since he’s clearly “too old” for me?

    Finally, is it just me, or do other people also think that Ray Blanchard should mind his own business and stop promoting his own warped version of officially-sanctioned racism?

  14. While I’m with you on condemning the sort of stuff CAMH is doing, I think that going the Thomas Szasz route is still a mistake. While Szasz made many good points about the role of mental illness in society, he was almost willfully ignorant of the fact that mental illnesses do exist which are not socially conditioned (schizophrenia, for example). I feel like Szasz often threw the baby out with the bathwater; his definition of addiction above is a good example, as it would minimize the horrors of suffering experienced by people with serious substance dependence, for example. Ultimately, he was more of a philosopher than a scientist, and in his famous debates with the very scientific psychologist Albert Ellis, Ellis mopped the floor with him. Don’t take my word for it, though, check out the debates yourself.

  15. >Now CAMH “experts” have set their sights on declaring many of you mentally disordered because of your sexual preferences. Do you prefer people who are “too fat,” or “too skinny,” or “too tall,” or “too short”?

    Could someone please tell Zucker and Blanchard that they don’t need a $325,000 budget to do what they’re doing? Some people are probably doing it voluntarily.

    When I was growing up in a small, conservative town, I had to grow some very sharp elbows real quick because — among other reasons — certain knuckle-dragging junior high and high school classmates would administer little “tests” by confronting me (as well as other guys), pointing out a girl/woman (present or not) who they considered to be too intelligent, too confident, too athletic, too tall (and probably other characteristics I’m forgetting), and ask if I was attracted to her. (Except they’d usually ask “would you fuck her?” or some fouler variant.)

    If I gave any indicator that I was attracted to the women these thugs objected to, then I had a potential fist fight added to my list of troubles — and in addition I’d be propagandized as gay for being attracted to the wrong kind of woman.

    And the guys who administered these “tests?” They were the same kinds of good Christian boys who’d call themselves “straight,” call me a “faggot,” and threaten to sodomize me all in the same sentence. (The old “it’s not gay when I do it” ethic.) So basically this was an atmosphere where openly closeted homosexuals tried to define and control what I call “official heterosexuality” — if you were a guy, and you were attracted to women that weren’t dumb, unconfident, helpless, small, weak, etc., then there was something wrong with you.

    I’ve recently begun thinking that there’s no such thing as sexual fetishes — only characteristics that you might be attracted to. Those characteristics have only been made fetishes because someone with really bad internal issues has decided to make those things forbidden — or, maybe these self-appointed authority figures have specifically decided that anything outside of the arena of characteristics they can pretend to be attracted to, in order to make themselves socially acceptable, will fall under the category of forbidden fetishes.

    I think it’s pretty obvious other people have gone through similar kinds of amateur aversion therapy that I went through (probably not fistfights, though). In everyday bits of conversation I hear, people are sometimes pointed out for being “too” whatever too be officially attractive, or sometimes people will classify their own attractions as forbidden or naughty when they don’t necessarily have to be. It just seems like a kind of psychological damage to me — don’t know how widespread it is.

  16. “as Thomas Szasz says, the only reason to make the distinction between habit and addiction “is to persecute somebody.”

    There’s a good example of stopped clock giving the right time if I ever saw one. Szasz is a Scientologist tool, their frontgroup CCHR doesn’t believe in ANY mental illness.

  17. Every new “diagnosis” paves the way for new drugs. I for one am looking forward to a new class of paraphilia enhancing and/or suppressing drugs. Can’t get excited about that upcoming “Shawties for Shorties” singles party? Now you can, thanks to our pharmaceutical overlords. I love it when you call me Big Pharma!

  18. His new proposed definition classifies paraphilia as sexual preference for someone who is not “phenotypically normal.”

    And “normal” is what? Ostensibly, the majority of women in the States wear over a size 14 – so who is “normal” – Marilyn Monroe or Twiggy? Queen Latifah or Lara Flynn Boyle? As for men – Johnny Depp or Vin Diesel? Jon Stewart or Rush Limbaugh?

    Admittedly, it was a mistake for McCartney to marry Heather Mills – but these idiots would classify him as mad for falling for an amputee. ZOMG, if he finds her attractive

    Frankly, I think it says more about the “doctors” personal sexual hangups than anything else. Not to mention: Classify more folk as mentally ill and they can fill more paying beds in their prison, er hospital.

  19. That’s so scary. :( I’m currently looking for a psychiatrist and one of my greatest concerns is that whoever I see might try to cure me of things that are not an illness. One starts to wish the study of the human mind was a much stricter science.

  20. I say they don’t go far enough!

    I propose we add a new disorder to the classification guide. Respiratory Addiction. The irresisitable compulsion to inhale a gas primarily made up of Nitrogen, but containing signifigant amounts of oxygen, and trace amounts of other elements.

  21. We argue that “addiction” is a metaphor that couches human habits in pseudo-medical language, and as Thomas Szasz says, the only reason to make the distinction between habit and addiction “is to persecute somebody.”

    This is a surprise to me. It’s true there is a continuous spectrum between enjoyed activities and addictions, but surely there are extreme cases that are functionally very different.

    For instance, when people who were given strong anesthetics by doctors start requiring more on their own, it’s not much like most habits they developed on their own. Am I misreading the statement to apply to this type of dependency, or is persecution really the only reason to distinguish them?

  22. As someone that works in and researches the mental health industry, WHO THE F**K CARES.

    People are so afraid of being labeled crazy that they go crazy trying to prove they aren’t. I can guarantee that you are somewhere along the lines of some disabling continuum and that you have some problems that could be improved. The same could be said for physical health…if you are not born with perfect genetics, eat 100% healthy and spend your time in a pub instead of the gym, I can guarantee that you have physical imperfection that could be worked on too.

    I know I have a pot belly that I can’t get rid of…I probably could, but I don’t care…I’m healthy in many other ways. I have a disease that I’ll have the rest of my life…I don’t let it label me, but I’d be stupid not to admit it is there.

    On the mental side, I know I’m a bit narcisistic and I know my ADHD is a crutch I use to get through life.

    I probably have a dozen more that I’m not listing on both sides…

    Fact is, we all have things we could improve. Are you more worried about the fact that these things have a name, or are you so weak that you are afraid that you are going to be labeled by these deficits. Me? I realize we are all imperfect and love my friends because of these imperfections as opposed to in spite of them. Its your choice on how to look at these…don’t discount the science simply because you are afraid that someone might point and call you names…

    1. Firstly, if you consider having a ‘pot belly’ a “disease,” that’s an issue right there — the pathologization of human subjects based on physical deviation from the norm, even when that deviation is not unusual, or alterable, or harmful to oneself or others. ‘Too fat’, ‘too short’, ‘eyelashes too sparse’ — they’re all “conditions” now, and the drug companies are salivating.

      Secondly, as for “Who the f*ck cares?”, is it possible that you’re a white middle-class heterosexual male, with well-documented citizenship, with no history of psychiatric diagnosis, with a fixed address, and with culturally ‘standard’ tastes in romantic/sexual partners? (Or at least, most of these?) Because if you’re not, you will know without asking why people care about this. Those who are already socially marginalized could — and will — have these classifications used against them, to deny them employment or insurance or citizenship or housing or freedom altogether.

  23. Shouldn’t this be a solely academic debate? One that disregards lobbying from activists, regardless of how well meaning they may be?

    1. How could this be anything but an issue for social-justice advocates? These classifications and pathologizations are based on specific, politically constituted understandings of human nature and agendas, and are social constructions, not objective things existing in the world. They are designed to selectively curtail the freedoms of some, by choosing to label them as deviant.

  24. The more illnesses and phobias and philias they can establish, the more business there is for Psychiatric Frauds Inc. Combine the potential for profits with the push from religidiots and there you are.

  25. I grew up a few blocks away from CAMH, and the place always did seem a little sketchy. However, I’ve got to say that the Coffee Time Donuts that used to be just around the corner on College St. was easily the most interesting donut store in Canada.

    1. I’d be willing to bet that most of the sketchy folk in that area are not patients, just graduate students. :-)

  26. The only sexual deviance is the refusal to have any, and anything politicians can understand is by definition obsolete and meaningless.

    1. Does that mean you think asexuality is deviant? Because I’m sure those folks would be happy to label it as such.

    2. I hate that claim. Why try to be inclusive of harmless life choices, when can you just be all “No wai! You’re the deviant one.”

  27. Ok – so my partner’s a submissive and totally bi-sexual woman,(i.e. she genuinely finds men and women equally attractive) I’m a male who’s an S&M top, particularly into spanking, and (amongst many other things – none of them profitable) I’m a photographer who’s work centres on expressing alternative sexuality; I also work for, and promote, fetish and burlesque events. When exactly can we expect an extradition request from Canada?

    BTW – specifically for nanuq , barbara1956 et al, my partner and I have been together for over 20 years, and not once in that time has *anything* ever come close to breaking us up; and nothing ever will. Yet – somehow – we’re the weird ones in this paradigm?

    I can’t see that there’s any need to refute these guy’s “research”. My own life proves that it’s non-existent reactionary crap.

  28. We have a Prime Minister casually prorogues parliament, what do you expect?

    That may sound facetious but when you think about it our current sitting (or shall we say “stalling”) Prime Minister’s party was less than impressed with the legalization of gay marriage. This may well be a backlash.

    The field of medicine is very young. In fact, it is probably more an art than a science still. (Which is why we all BELIEVE House. )

    Certainly what you describe is very bad, and bad science like this (worse, probably politically motivated) will only serve to cast aspersions on a young branch of science that is certainly both necessary and important.

    Because I emphatically disagree with your belief:

    I believe that “mental illness” is a metaphor used to pathologize behavior that annoys or offends others.

    Anyone who has ever been exposed to actual mental illness is very much aware that it is very real. Which is not to say that it is always diagnosed correctly. Or that there are not incompetent and/or unscrupulous and/or bigoted psychiatrists and/or psychologists. And worse, MD’s who get 5 minutes of mental health training in med school are allowed to diagnose.

    This is an even younger science than medicine. Not too long ago the only treatment for most debilitating mental illnesses was warehousing patients, institutionalizing people for the rest of their lives. We’ve come a long way since then. Research and the pharmaceutical industry have done amazing things, not only saving lives but improving quality of life. (Thank goodness for the 60’s)

    Which is not to say that all answers have been found. Far from it, and I suspect there has been a lot of “this drug treats this symptom” stuff with psychiatric professionals scrambling to come up with plausible explanations as to the “why”.

    If what you describe is really going on, it must be stopped. Shining the light of day on bad things often helps to do just that. Thank you.

    Part of the problem in Canada is that previous idiotic Canadian governments began capping doctor’s fees, so a lot of our best Doctors emigrated to the States, leaving us with a doctor shortage. We of course tried to recruit some back, and look what happens…

    My friend Malcolm is fond of saying “50% of all doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class.” I have had amazing doctors and abysmal doctors. Just like any other field you get good and bad.

    The saddest thing is that there is an enormous amount of REAL mental illness research needed, but that is not happening while funds are wasted on trash like this.

    1. “Not too long ago the only treatment for most debilitating mental illnesses was warehousing patients, institutionalizing people for the rest of their lives.”

      And that is also ‘recent’, relatively speaking. Prior to the birth of the asylum, ‘mad’ folks tended to live among the general populace. Institutionalization has a very specific and politically motivated history of emergence.

      Lauding Big Pharma for its psych-drugs seems a little naive, and I say this as someone with many friends who have been victims of the psychiatric system in Canada.

      Treating emotional and behavioural conditions with medications is also not new; prior to the 20th century, the US possessed a number of distinguished homeopathic psychiatric hospitals which were gently and effectively treating people, while the ‘regulars’ were torturing and imprisoning them for life. While organized establishments for the homeopathic treatment of mental health are hard to come by today, there has been a great deal of excellent advancement made in orthomolecular research, offering possibilities for happy and productive lives for many who have been diagnosed with ‘incurable illnesses’ like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, without having to deal with the gatekeepers of the allopathic medical establishment.

      1. Lauding Big Pharma for its psych-drugs seems a little naive, and I say this as someone with many friends who have been victims of the psychiatric system in Canada.


        Treating emotional and behavioural conditions with medications is also not new; prior to the 20th century, the US possessed a number of distinguished homeopathic psychiatric hospitals which were gently and effectively treating people, while the ‘regulars’ were torturing and imprisoning them for life. While organized establishments for the homeopathic treatment of mental health are hard to come by today, there has been a great deal of excellent advancement made in orthomolecular research, offering possibilities for happy and productive lives for many who have been diagnosed with ‘incurable illnesses’ like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, without having to deal with the gatekeepers of the allopathic medical establishment.


        –comment from Vidya108

        As a clinical depression survivor, I am not remotely naive about drug therapy. Some drugs work better than others and different drugs work differently on different people. Finding the most effective course of meds can be a gruelling trial and error process.

        Having lived through clinical depression, I will get back on the drugs (or start whatever the new drugs are in vogue then) in a heartbeat. Mental illness is real. William Styron was an exceptional novellist as well as a survivor of clinical depression. His book on depression is excellent.

        “The madness of depression is the antithesis of violence. It is a storm indeed, but a storm of murk. Soon evident are the slowed-down responses, near paralysis, psychic energy throttled back close to zero. Ultimately, the body is affected and feels sapped, drained.”

        –William Styron, Darkness Visible

        Mental Illness is real. It would be really nice if positive thinking or prayer would make mental illness go away, but I’m not holding my breath.

        You claim experience of “many friends who have been victims of the psychiatric system in Canada”, while I have friends who have been successfully treated.

        I may also be about to lose someone to cancer thanks to homeopathic prescription of carrot juice in lieu of chemotherapy.

        All drugs/doctors are not good or bad. All homeopaths are not good or bad. Treatment of any kind is only ever as good as the practitioner.

        Psychiatry has saved lives and will continue to save lives.

        It isn’t perfect but it is better than nothing.

        1. Laurel, thanks for sharing your sane, lucid, balanced, honest, reality-based thoughts. Breath of fresh air.

  29. Following some links regarding Thomas Szasz I found a very interesting research study which found a large number of FDA approved anti-depressants are nowhere near as effective as the say. The researchers had to file Freedom of Information requests to gain access to the study data.


    Conclusion pasted here for the lazy:
    “We found a bias toward the publication of positive results. Not only were positive results more likely to be published, but studies that were not positive, in our opinion, were often published in a way that conveyed a positive outcome. We analyzed these data in terms of the proportion of positive studies and in terms of the effect size associated with drug treatment. Using both approaches, we found that the efficacy of this drug class is less than would be gleaned from an examination of the published literature alone. According to the published literature, the results of nearly all of the trials of antidepressants were positive.”

    1. This Thomas Szasz character, if he is a scientologist, has a faulty point of view; they begin with the conclusion that psychology and psychiatry is evil.

      On the other hand, when I did my senior thesis on the placebo effect for my BA in psychology (thank god for my better major, English writing), I ran into a lot of the same research. The placebo effect is incredibly powerful, and for a disorder like depression, where mere attention is often a useful cure (don’t you feel better when you talk about how bad you feel?), the action of going to a “doctor” and getting “medicine” might be all you need. It’s just a shame that the sham drugs are mostly useless to these people, if not actively harmful.

      Of course, that’s just because of the same pathologizing problem the post talks about. If you are feeling sad, or you can’t concentrate like your peers, or you’re eccentric in any way, you have a disease that can be cured in today’s society.

      However, you can’t apply this across the board. Most people who get a bottle of Zoloft are just a little blue and need someone to talk to. But there are many people who are too depressed to leave their beds, and these people greatly benefit from antidepressants, or require even more aggressive treatment. I would guess (and it’s only a guess, since I don’t have the statistical wizardry to figure out if I’m right) that since our definitions of things like depression and ADD are so loose, and doctors so quick to diagnose, that clinical trials end up with a lot of random noise, which only magnifies the effect of the placebo in the control group. And then, because drug companies want to move their products, they magnify the drug efficacy with statistical wizardry or just piles of money.

      Of course, I got a B- average in psychology so you can take all that with another, larger grain of salt.

  30. I think that Blanchard, Bailey, and Zucker are on the wrong track, whether they’re sincere or evil or lazy or just oversimplifying, and it seems likely to me that people are getting hurt. Nevertheless, this “critique” lacks substance. It’s pointless just to rant about how wrong you think they are and not say why in some sort of objective, analytical terms. And no, tossing in a couple of website references after the fact doesn’t cut it.

    As far as I’ve seen, in a lot of clinical psychological practice the DSM (and the ICD) are meaningless – I don’t know of therapists who base their work on DSM categories. They’re pretty much just a catalog of billing codes for the insurance industry. So if someone comes in and says they can’t sleep and their hands are shaking, it’s useful to have a designation for “too much caffeine”, if that’s the cause. That doesn’t mean that anybody thinks that drinking coffee is a mental illness.

    Speaking of which, there is such a thing as mental illness — just ask someone with a genuine, deep, clinical depression. There is such a thing as addiction, too, and some things are true while others aren’t. But acknowledging that there is such a thing as truth would inhibit our freedom to spout opinion without any corroborative facts. And that would take all the fun out of blogging.

  31. “for those with more “normal” mental disorders is immeasurable.”

    Without diminishing the main point of the post, this is a great line.

  32. Did the author of this post just claim that Toronto taxpayers paid all $325,000 for Zucker and Blanchard’s work? That’s definitely wrong, and I’d love to know when the cash-strapped city of Toronto could have gotten into the line of singlehandedly funding public research institutes and hospitals. The document that figure came from, according to the author’s own links, is the province’s list of public employee salaries above $100K per year—and that fact alone indicates the two men were not paid only in scarce Toronto tax dollars.

    That said, I’m disgusted at the thought of people being spoken for, violated, robotically classified and callously abused in the manner the author describes. But what’s much more appalling, and significantly more dangerous and offensive, is the author’s incredible, insidious, blanket assertion that Ontarians who feel like they need help coping with themselves should not “under any circumstances seek services at CAMH.” Anyone with a serious commitment to a progressive society should feel their temper rising a little at that suggestion. For starters, just who the hell does Andrea James think she is?

    The other thing is, if she wanted to demonize something, she could hardly have made a more bizarre choice—denouncing not just a couple of wingnut researchers lodged in CAMH the same as in any other major academic institution in the world, but the entire centre? Including, I suppose, those behind the scenes of things like this? And did she bother to check on the sprawling diversity of care and counseling CAMH gives? Look into it, and you’ll see how many people rely on CAMH for things completely unrelated to the author’s tirade, like managing bipolar disorder, schizophrenias, seasonal affective disorders, postpartum depression, suicidal ideation, social anxieties, and body-image disorders. You know, for instance. The centre gives needful, breakthrough-enabling therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (—which, by the way, doesn’t involve the drugs or privacy-invasion the author and some commenters here seem to be picking on as easy targets). These have horrifying waiting lists as it is. Cut out CAMH’s facilities and you’re creating a nightmare scenario.

    Did any of these things come to mind before she unconscionably advised people searching for treatment options to ignore perhaps the largest, most broadly based and inclusive therapy centre in the city and instead turn to a few private, narrowly focused outfits that she’s had some dealings with in the past? Her gaffe about the city taxes is enough to let me believe she might just not have thought before she typed. And, in fact, I hope she didn’t. Bcs th ltrntv, tht sh cld hv dspnsd tht nxplcbl, ndfnsbly hrmfl dvc jst t gt fw xtr pgvws nd rtwts, s s lthsm tht ‘d ht t blv tht nyn, crtnly smn n prgrssv mvmnt, cld b sch tw-fcd, rrspnsbl, hypcrtcl drtbg.

  33. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, will be re-named The Ignoramus Compendium of Mental Allusions and Illusions in 2013…

    Marvin the mind-forward reader foresaw it when Psychiatry was stillborn, back in the day when Gay meant happiness and the intellect was misery in and of itself, thus creating a navel gazing sub-genre of the wonderment of what consciousness and Life is!!

    Death to ‘Intellectual Masturbation’ aka Psychiatry!

    Sincerely, A Lad In Sane.

  34. Explore their connection to Dr. Edmund Bergler now dead and his theories on psychic masochism { from the 1950’s and early 60’s }. You may find the root cause of this rediculous group.

  35. Andre Bovee-Begun said it all. CAMH is big. Like, really big. It’s absurd to paint everyone there with the same brush. I have personally received excellent treatment from CAMH. There is no reason to avoid treatment there. That said, be critical of your treatment, ask a lot of questions, and do your research. If anything seems dodgy, try another facility.

  36. But what’s much more appalling, and significantly more dangerous and offensive, is the author’s incredible, insidious, blanket assertion that Ontarians who feel like they need help coping with themselves should not “under any circumstances seek services at CAMH.”

    I like blanket assertions about blanket assertions, they tell me that a real understanding is taking place between two minds.

    that is irony, by the way.

    When you call someone else out, don’t be guilty of that which you accuse. It takes the legs out from under your good points.

  37. I’m trying to count the number of “paraphilias” I have, and it’s not working. I’m a man, and my girlfriend is a foot taller than I am. Is that a problem? But wait! I also like shorter women as well! In fact, my attraction to women does not depend on height. Like, at all. Oh, and I’m pansexual, so I’m not even exclusively attracted to women. Is that a problem as well, since that also means I’m attracted to trans as well as cis people? But I’m trans as well, and we already know what a huge problem that is for my mental health. I’m also a switch, have fantasies that don’t always involve consent (that stay fantasies or consensually acted out scenes, thank you very much), and think certain celebrities who are twice my age are smokin’.

    Yes, there are real mental illnesses that require treatment. What really gets me about this waste of time, however, is that it takes resources away from people who actually need help. To me that’s even worse than the unnecessary stigma directed towards the rest of us.

  38. Boy oh boy (or any other gender or non-gender specific interjection), do we need education and good research on the subset of illness known as “mental illness”. We actually do much better as a society on sexual orientation/ gender identity issues (which isn’t saying much). A good test for whether we are making sense when talking about mental illness is to ask ourselves if we would talk this way about any other illness (e.g. it doesn’t exist, people shouldn’t take their prescribed medication, a particular health-care field or institution is universally evil or incompetent). As an aside, a good test when talking about sexual minority issues is, would we accept similar attitudes or pursuits about race? Apply these tests to the above described research, some of the assertions of the author of this article, or comments in some of the above posts, and you will find yourself saying “no” a lot of times.

    Any organ in the body can disfunction, including the brain. We don’t know very much about brain disease. What is and isn’t a brain disease is still a matter of scientific inquiry, and obviously (from what I have just read) some of this inquiry is a little weird. That’s the nature of inquiry, though; there’s always weird stuff on the fringes. Hopefully there is also exemplary research going on, but the amount of dollars going into this research compared to other large categories of illness (e.g. cardiovascular disease, cancer) is miniscule. We know that anxiety disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia are real and devastating illnesses. Existing treatments exist, but they vary widely in their effectiveness.

    If you have ever observed an excellent psychiatrist in action, you will know that treatment is an art as well as a science. As for psycho-pharmaceuticals, drugs save lives and can provide enormous improvements to people’s quality as well as quantity of life. They also have devastating side-effects. Making decisions about how to approach your own treatment (or judging how your patient or loved one is actually doing) is enormously difficult when assessment is based on the reports of someone whose brain isn’t functioning properly. Research on how to obtain information from objective scans and tests is in its infancy in psychiatry. My loved ones who suffer from brain diseases have had specialist doctors who have worked miracles under these difficult circumstances.

    To sum up, diseases of the brain are real, they are illnesses like other illnesses, drugs can help but don’t always (this is also true of non-brain related conditions), there are downsides to most treatment options and we need research and education as a society to help us make good decisions and understand brain diseases.

    So where’s the walk, run, 24 hour whatever for the cure???? What are we doing to educate ourselves and each other? What are we as citizens, tax payers and health care consumers doing to promote good research and education? I’m just wondering.

    1. Spurious accusations of “mental illness” to marginalize/control people is actually the Soviet playbook.

      1. “Spurious accusations of “mental illness” to marginalize/control people is actually the Soviet playbook.”

        I see we have an Ann Coulter reader in the audience.

  39. So if you think abnormally hot chicks with abnormally long legs, unusually tight butts and uncharacteristic big boobs are, y’know, hot, you have a mental disorder?

    Honestly. This sounds like a plot idea for Revenge of the Nerds IX: If We Can’t Get Laid With Hot Chicks, We’ll Ostracize Those Who Do.

  40. The picture painted in the article isn’t entirely accurate with respect to the proposed definition of paraphilia for DMS-5. While it is true that it seeks to have a greatly expanded definition of “paraphilia,” the current proposal (which can be read about on Blanchard’s website) distinguishes between “paraphilias” and “paraphilic disorders,” with the latter being “paraphilia” with distress and/or impairment (or acting on it a certain number of times in certain criminal cases) tacked onto it. Still, even with this, the proposed definition is certain to be controvercial. (Actually, I expect that you’ll be hard pressed to find many people outside CAMH who like it.)

  41. The anti-gay right wing would be a lot healthier, mentally, if they just gave in to their homosexual urges and looked for willing partners openly.

    Mentally healthy straight people really don’t care about other people’s consensual private activities.

  42. there are too many comments to thoroughly read them all, so sorry if anyone else argued against the use of Thomas Szasz.

    we tend to over pathologize everything and saying thinking about something is a mental illness is wrong. but Thomas Szasz argues that mental illness is essentially a socially constructed event. anyone who knows someone with schizophrenia will tell you otherwise. so using Szasz in one’s argument implies you back his beliefs. if you are talking about socialism, you don’t use Hitler as your reference. Szasz is not a Hitler, but he does have some extreme view points.

  43. just FYI, the fact that I am mentally ill is in my medical records, and it has never affected me in my adult life.


  44. “are all paraphilias ipso facto psychiatric disorders? Our subgroup is taking the position that they are not.”

    The man’s actions and greater part of his words speak louder than his attempts at deflection.

    His “taxonomy” is counter-factual; mindlessly, uselessly rigid and demonstrating that circular, conclusory logic can be self-consistent and not describe the world accurately except by happenstance. In short, in my taxonomy, he is analogous to a cooking vessel that has partially failed in tension.

  45. Sure, this doesn’t apply to me, so it must be nonsense — let’s abandon all efforts to understand the world around us. I strongly disagree with Blanchard-Bailey-Zucker, but just because the world is complex, variable, and diverse doesn’t mean we should give up. We’d still be chasing animals with rocks and pointed sticks.

    By the way, medicine isn’t science, it’s technology. It’s not about knowing, it’s about doing.

    Yeah, I know that antidepressants are not as effective as drug companies would like you to think, and they’re certainly over-prescribed (partly because of direct-to-consumer advertising, which should be banned). But as someone who has spent way more time than you can imagine thinking about reasons and methods suicide, I’m glad antidepressants exist, even if each one only helps a little.

    So go ahead and make ignorant jokes about prozac being happy pills. Yeah, they’re happy pills about as much as tourniquets are recreational drugs (yes, I know that tourniquets aren’t drugs). Laugh it up about psychiatric meds and make wisecracks about all psychiatrists being charlatans and quacks. Make sure that people with mental health issues remain ashamed to seek help. People will die as a result, but you’ll probably get a few laughs, and somebody will think you’re hip and “edgy.”

  46. For those who may be interested in seriously examining the problematics with Organized Psychiatry such as that represented by CAMH, there is the first ever international conference for organizing against Psychiatry. It will be taking place at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor St. West, Toronto on May 7, and 8th, 2010.

    The purpose of this global conference is to provide a forum for psychiatric survivors, mad people, activists, scholars, students, radical professionals, and artists from around the world to come together and share experiences of organizing against psychiatry. Dialogue about these experiences is intended:

    • to foster networking and coalition building across social justice movements, disciplines and geographical locations;
    • to clarify some key goals in the struggle against psychiatric oppression;
    • to develop some longer-term strategies to help us achieve these goals;
    • to help us critically examine how we use specific tools for social change, such as the law, science, theory, media, art, and theatre.

    This conference is focused on theory and practice that is directly related to developing strategic actions aimed at challenging the power of institutional psychiatry.

    You are invited to submit a proposal or register for the conference. For more information, please contact Dr. Bonnie Burstow at OISE/University of Toronto.

  47. I think many of our points are well-taken, but it’s a pity to see you promoting Thomas Szasz, whose work is equally wrong-headed and pernicious in many respects.

  48. CAMH has one of the few LGBT specific addiction treatment programs in North America that follows a harm reduction model.

    Just sayin’

  49. Based on your post, “paraphilia” casts such a wide net that it catches everybody except the terminally bland. “We are all paraphiles now.” As such, it strikes me as a completely useless concept, and one which I would dismiss as another example of useless academic (dare I say it?) wanking.

    I’ll grant you that as “a white middle-class heterosexual male, with well-documented citizenship, with no history of psychiatric diagnosis, with a fixed address, and with culturally ‘standard’ tastes in romantic/sexual partners (Or at least, most of these)” yadda yadda, I can afford to be merely contemptuously dismissive. But if a diagnosis of “paraphilia” can actually be used *against* someone, I fully share your outrage.

  50. Andrea, let me preface my comment by saying that you are obviously much more familiar with the issue than me, and that I am not criticizing your post in any way.

    You might also want to look at the issue from another perspective: if I were to present this “paraphilia” issue to my more “culturally conservative” friends, I have no doubt that most of them would see this as an example of “liberal academia,” deliberately conflating behaviour (and tendencies) which almost anyone would consider “normal” with “truly deviant” ones, perhaps for the express purpose of “normalizing” the latter.

  51. When CAMH had a place on Queen St. W my girlfriend and I walked past it, and past the derelict patients outside sunning. My significant other needed to use a washroom so she went inside, only to come right back out saying the bathroom was very dirty and there was a hypodermic needle on the ground. That was two years ago.

  52. As much as CAMH may have it’s problems, I for one am happy and excited that all of the original Queen St hospital buildings are being replaced with totally new neighbourhood friendly low rise buildings and through running streets, along with some mixed income housing. I will never forget when a friend of mine told me that the then main part of the queen st hospital built in the 1970s was of a design that another european country had considered and rejected at the same time, yet the Ontario government still felt it was okay to go ahead and build the then new complex. I think now there is just a small part of the original 1970s buildings left standing. When I last checked out the progress CAMH was definitely making some major inroads. I am sure that when all the construction work is finished not too long from now it will look great. And while the old 19th century brick wall serves as a good reminder of what once was, there is definitely no need to be reminded of the 1970s new brualist building complex that was not good enough for some country in Europe but for whatever reason was good enough for Canada.

    As far as things are concerned with all the hysteria over what people’s sex lives may be and what relation that may have to people’s mental health, I think there is great hypocracy as far as our mainstream culture and media is concerned. On the one hand we have a mainstream media pumping up sex to sell whatever and then the following hour you have the news with some news anchors raising hysteria over someone committing some sex crime. At this point in time for us humans we are faced with what is basically a media overload. So much media bombards us that even going out in the streets we are faced with it, with the glorification and objectification of sex being one part of the media overload. When we live in an age where we can walk into some mega electronics store like Best Buy filled with stuff that can keep us more and more stationary, HDTVs, gaming consoles, PCs, laptops, DVDs, blu rays and even 3D blu rays, there comes a time where we need to push some of those things away and live more fruitful lives including physical activity and good eating. As a child I was constantly glued to the television, now over twenty years later to the children of today that seems totally alien. Now they are glued to video gaming and an unforgiving online landscape especially laden with trolls and the usual crowd of jerks and losers. I will laugh when the old established media crumbles further to the ground, CTV already shut down one of its stations in the praries and many movie and music outlets are going out of business. People need to put down the mouse or remote or game controller and work out our bodies a little. With physical health comes mental health, our bodies were meant to be fairly physically active, yet our modern culture glorifies electronics and all the physical inactivity that comes with it, along with the physical and mental health problems. The relatively recent awareness campaigns since the days of the hippies for better healthy living have planted the seeds of future awareness. Eventually the many ones living physically unhealthy lives tethered to their unhealthy ways will wake up, and help usher in a new era of healthy living over the many things that are so UNhealthy with the mainstream culture of today, including all of the brainwashing ads out there promoting unhealthy eating. Someday soon we will all wake up and turn the leaf towards a new era of healthy living while all the bad stuff we’ve lived with over the years withers up and dies away into the distance. And then we can come one step closer to being what we always have been, as creatures of natural living. Thanks for taking the time to read my words, there is still much work left to do. Thanks and toodles! :)

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