Posted on November 23, 2017 7:19 pm

Have Force and Coercion Been Normalized?

Responding to the following article:

Wipond, Rob. (2017, November). “Filling the Great National Void.” Our Voice/Notre Voix, No. 65 (Our Great National Void), pp. 5-8.

“Essentially, any truly different, social justice-oriented, ‘mental health’-related organization must simultaneously challenge the scientific foundations of the bio-medical narrative and denounce the use of coercion and force in psychiatric treatment.”

My thoughts:

At the start of this issue, the author and editor advocate for the creation of an organization to address the deep criticisms of the mental health system. My question is: “Why focus on just this one aspect of society when it comes to coercion and force?” Institutional force and coercion are normalized and unconsciously accepted in every aspect of human society. It’s not just the mental health system; involuntary drugging is commonplace for residents of nursing homes, children in school, prisoners resisting abuse, and military personnel showing deviations from optimal performance. For these people, there is no choice.

How can we “denounce the use of coercion and force in psychiatric treatment” when we do not denounce them in any other part of our society where they are used?

Force and coercion have been normalized everywhere:

  • to get school children to do all sorts of things they don’t want to do. Non-compliance with this indoctrination is met with drugs like Ritalin;
  • to get tax payers to pay for all sorts of things they don’t want to pay for, including weapons of mass destruction;
  • in the military, to get soldiers to commit acts of extreme violence that a great many of them probably do not want to perform;
  • to make sure people buy health insurance they cannot afford that covers nothing;
  • to get people to invest in “higher education” they cannot afford, leaving them with life-long debt;
  • to exploit every kind of sentient being in attempts to satisfy our insatiable appetites for entertainment, gourmet food, having a huge array of choices;
  • to keep “disposable” people we can’t be bothered with locked-up in prisons, mental hospitals/wards, and nursing homes.

I don’t understand why people undergoing psychiatric treatment should be an exception. All force and coercion is normalized and “necessary” when they are being done for “our own good” or “the greater good.” Their use is justified in the case of people experiencing extreme emotional distress because they are distressing and disrupting the lives of others in their families and neighborhoods and need help “calming down” for everyone’s “good.” I don’t know how or why they would be thought of any differently than school children, or tax paying citizens, or members of the armed services, or the imprisoned, the ill, the elderly, students, or every other sentient being on Earth.

If you want to form a successful organization, you need to find ways to force and coerce people to join “for their own good,” or even better, “for the general good.”

If force and coercion are okay in schools, the military, religion, etc… how can compassion trickle-down to the mental health system where “mentally-ill” people are condemned to a life of confinement and drugged to oblivion through means of “miracle drugs” which take the form of mind-numbing pharmaceuticals and brain-damaging therapies like ECT?

“The main form of coping with mental illness and trying to achieve mental health, is not primarily individual therapy, but is primarily the change of those social conditions that produce mental illness or lack of mental health in the various forms that I have tried to describe.” (Fromm, p.99)

Fromm, Erich. (2010). Pathology of Normalcy. Riverdale, NY: American Mental Health Foundation, Inc. p. 99.

“Our Voice-Notre Voix” is a French and English publication from Canada:

“OUR VOICE  allows the freedom to express opinions on topics, which are relevant to wellness, madness, and its treatment in New Brunswick or elsewhere. This publication serves as an empowering tool in public education, advocacy and community pride for people who have lived experiences with psychiatry. We accept submissions such as articles, poetry and letters. Donations can also be made by mail or on our website through PayPal.  A PayPal account is not required.”