you consult mental health professionals?
The following article, 'Psychiatric
Stigma', from www.antipsychiatry.org
issues a warning for those considering consulting
a mental health professional. The stigma attached
to doing so may outweigh the benefits derived. Some
companies will force targeted workers to go to EAP
personel who may refer them to further mental health
counselling, on the pretense of genuine concern, just
so the company can later discredit them as mentally
ill. Whether you go voluntarily or not, this is yet
another trap that mobbing targets are vulnerable to.
We are not advising for or against
seeking the services of mental health professionals.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or
PTSD you may want to consider consulting your family
doctor, for advise about the injury and to document
its impact on your health. >>> Terms
follows you everywhere
for the rest of your life
a warning from
Lawrence Stevens, J.D.
problem you should think about before
consulting a mental health professional, or encouraging
someone else to do so, is the stigma of having received
the so-called therapy. If you seek counseling
or "therapy" from a psychiatrist or psychologist,
how are you going to answer questions on job applications,
applications for occupational or professional licenses,
a driver's license, applications for health or life
insurance, and school and college applications, such
as "Have you ever had psychiatric or psychological
therapy?" When you apply for a job or occupational
license or a driver's license or apply for an insurance
policy or admission to an educational program you
will often be required to answer this or a similar
question. When you answer such questions candidly
and admit having received psychiatric or psychological
"help", the result often will be loss of
important opportunities: Answering yes to such questions
often results in rejection for employment or licensure
or admission to college or other educational program
or denial of insurance coverage. Sometimes you
will be forced to ask your "therapist" to
breach the confidentiality of your communications
with him or her by making a report on you in order
for you to get a job, license, insurance coverage,
or admission to school. If you conceal your experience
of psychiatric or psychological "therapy"
by answering "no", thereafter you will have
to be careful to watch what you say and to whom, and
you may with good reason worry about being found out
- since you run the risk of being fired from a job
or expelled from school or suffering revocation of
licensure if your deception is ever discovered.
You may eventually find the insurance policy you have
been paying premiums on for many years is valueless
because of what you concealed on the application for
the policy years earlier.
In his book The Powers of Psychiatry,
Jonas Robitscher, J.D., M.D., Professor of Law and
Behavioral Sciences at Emory University's Schools
of Law and Medicine, pointed out that "Applicants
for the state of Georgia bar examination, like applicants
in many other states, are required to state...whether
they have ever received diagnosis of...emotional disturbance,
nervous or mental disorder, or received regular treatment
for any of these conditions. Although there
is no known instance of this information having been
used to keep an applicant from taking the examination
or being admitted to the Georgia bar, there are instances
of denying applicants in other jurisdictions"
(Houghton Mifflin Co., 1980, p. 234).
In the same book Dr. Robitscher
described the case of a medical school applicant who
had graduated from college magna cum laude, who was
admitted to Phi Beta Kappa, and who scored in the
upper ninety-ninth percentile in the Medical College
Admission Test - but who was denied admission to medical
school because she had sought psychiatric treatment
(pp. 238-239). He said this is typical of "prejudicial
policies of not admitting or readmitting students
who have had or are undergoing psychotherapy"
An airline pilot told me he was
grounded for seven months by the Federal Aviation
Administration because he revealed he had been seeing
a psychiatrist (for so-called outpatient psychotherapy)
on the medical history questionnaire he was required
to fill out as part of his routine periodic medical
examinations required of airline pilots and which
involved criminal penalties (a fine of up to $10,000
and/or up to five years imprisonment) for concealing
the requested information. He told me he enjoyed
seeing the psychiatrist but that the hassle which
resulted from his doing so, because of the questions
it created about his job qualifications, out-weighed
whatever benefit came from seeing the psychiatrist.
He said that all factors considered, "It wasn't
worth it." When taking physical examinations,
pilots in the United States are required to "List
all visits in the last three years to a physician,
physician assistant, nurse practitioner, psychologist,
clinical social worker, or substance abuse specialist
for treatment, evaluation, or counseling. Give
date, name, address, and type of health professional
consulted, and briefly state reason for consultation.
... Routine dental, eye, and FAA periodic medical
examinations may be excluded" (FAA Form 8500-8,
italics added). This suggests that, contrary
to what some people think, anyone consulting a psychologist
or clinical social worker is considered suspect.
That is, stigma attaches to anyone consulting not
only psychiatrists, but also psychologists or social
workers. Routine dental or eye examinations
involve no stigma or suspicion of disqualification
and therefore are not required to be reported.
The 1988 Democratic Party Presidential
nominee, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, in
the words of Newsweek, "was accused
of having received psychiatric treatment" ("The
High Velocity Rumor Mill", Newsweek,
August 15, 1988, p. 22. See also, Andrew Rosenthal,
"Dukakis Releases Medical Details To Stop Rumors
on Mental Health", The New York Times,
August 4, 1988, p. 1). The accusations proved to be
false, but the impression given by the news reports
about this story is that Dukakis' presidential campaign
would have been doomed by this one fact alone if the
claim he had ever consulted a psychiatrist or psychologist
had proven to be true. In 1972 U.S. Senator
Thomas Eagleton was nominated for Vice-President of
the United States at the Democratic National Convention
but subsequently was removed from the ticket by the
Democratic National Committee when it became known
he had undergone psychiatric treatment, including
hospitalization and electric shock treatment.
Bruce Ennis, an ACLU attorney who
has represented people deprived of employment because
of psychiatric stigma, argues that "In the job
market, it is better to be an ex-convict than an ex-mental
patient." He says "very few employers
will knowingly hire an ex-mental patient."
He points out that "Almost all public employers
and most large companies ask job applicants if they
have ever been hospitalized for mental illness"
and that "If the answer is yes, the applicant
will almost certainly not get the job".
Mr. Ennis also points out that "if the applicant
lies and says no, he runs the risk of eventual discovery".
On this basis Mr. Ennis argues that "It is time
for psychiatrists and judges to face the brutal facts.
When they commit a person to a mental hospital, they
are taking away not only his liberty, but also any
chance he might have for a decent life in the future."
On the basis of his experience as an attorney for
people saddled with psychiatric stigma he observes
that "Even voluntary hospitalization creates
so many problems and closes so many doors that an
old joke takes on new truth - a person has to be crazy
to sign himself into a mental hospital" (Bruce
J. Ennis, Prisoners of Psychiatry: Mental Patients,
Psychiatrists, and the Law, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
1972, pp. 143-144). Mr. Ennis wrote those remarks
in 1972, but if anyone is inclined to think psychiatric
stigma substantially diminished during the 1970s and
1980s, consider once again the reaction of the press
and public in 1988 to the apparently false allegation
that presidential candidate Governor Michael Dukakis
had previously consulted a psychiatrist. That
it should be such a headline grabbing issue shows
how stigmatizing is any experience as a psychiatric
"patient". This public reaction is
particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that
Governor Dukakis was accused only of consulting a
psychiatrist in his office, not psychiatric hospitalization.
The presumption of unreliability,
untrustworthiness, and emotional instability which
flows from having ever sought psychiatric or psychological
"therapy" doesn't haunt only people with
responsibilities like doctors, lawyers, airline pilots,
and Presidential/Vice-Presidential candidates: In
his book, Prisoners of Psychiatry, ACLU attorney
Bruce Ennis reports many cases of people who have
been denied taxi driver licenses because of past psychiatric
treatment even though "Most of them had never
been hospitalized" and had never done anything
to suggest they were dangerous (p. 160).
In a book she wrote, Eileen Walkenstein,
M.D., a psychiatrist, says "A psychiatric diagnosis
is like a jail sentence, a permanent mark on your
record that follows you wherever you go" (Don't
Shrink To Fit! A Confrontation with Dehumanization
in Psychiatry and Psychology, Grove Press, 1975,
p. 22). If you consult a mental health professional,
you will probably get some kind of "diagnosis".
In at least some states, professional licensing laws
require mental health professionals, including psychologists,
to keep a written record of "diagnosis"
In 1992, Commenting on the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA), Peter Manheimer, chairperson
of the Commission for the Advancement of the Physically
Handicapped, said "It is most appropriate that
the ADA protects recovering drug addicts, alcoholics,
persons with AIDS, and persons who have mental
and psychological disabilities, as they form
the most misunderstood and feared portion of the disability
community. They suffer the greatest discrimination"
(Peter Manheimer, "Reporting on persons with
disabilities", letter to the editor, Miami
Herald, July 24, 1992, p. 16A - italics added).
And "a study by the National
Institute of Mental Health in 1993 found that even
ex-convicts rank above former mental patients in social
acceptance" (Chi Chi Sileo, "Rip-offs Depress
Mental Health Care", Insight magazine,
January 24, 1994, p. 14.) This article quotes a psychiatric
hospital patient saying "The stigma is incredible...Forget
telling an employer! Sometimes they find out
anyway, and all of a sudden you're unfit to work there"
(ibid). In his autobiography, Kenneth Donaldson
said after he had been committed to a psychiatric
hospital, people "accepted a psychiatric diagnosis
which forever rent the fabric of my life. Thereafter,
not only society at large but members of my family
would not see Ken the son and father and friend, but
Ken the mental patient. From this would flow
unimagined misery, a fog which would envelop all our
lives. And our situation would be, of course,
representative of millions. The fog would seep
into my employment, my relations with doctors, my
access to lawyers and the courts. Every enterprise
in which I would engage would be poisoned by the label.
It haunted me and frightened others" (Insanity
Inside Out, Crown Pub., 1976, p. 321).
In his book The Powers of Psychiatry,
Emory University professor Jonas Robitscher, J.D.,
M.D., said: "Psychiatrists have been so criticized
for the errors or vagueness in their labeling procedures
because the label produces a new disability, which
often remains as a burden long after the symptoms
that led to the label have departed. ...
A study of the attitudes in a small town indicates
that fellow townspeople reject other members of the
community in a direct relationship to the professionalization
and specialization of the source of help, with the
least rejection when help is sought from a clergyman,
increasing percentages of rejection for those seeking
psychiatric help from physicians and psychiatrists,
and the most rejection for those who get mental hospital
help. A study of work supervisors shows that
the knowledge that an employee is seeing a psychiatrist
would be likely to rule out a promotion even if the
employee is doing good work...The harm and potential
harm done to mental patients and former mental patients
is not only confined to those who have had serious
illnesses, those who have been hospitalized or who
have had to interrupt careers or schooling.
Psychiatrists know that many people who consult them
as outpatients are much less 'sick' than many or most
of the general population. If these people had
decided not to be patients but instead to be clients
or parishioners and had taken their problems to a
social worker, a pastoral counselor, or a faith healer,
they would have incurred no stigma. ...
The ubiquitous questionnaires that ask, 'Have you
ever consulted a physician for a physical or emotional
or mental condition?' do not take account of those
who should have and haven't, or those who are able
to answer no because they have taken their problems
to an encounter group, a sensitivity-training session,
an est seminar, or a consciousness- raising group,
and so have escaped the discriminatory effect of seeking
help" (pp. 230, 232, 233).
The difficulty of getting a health
insurance policy after having sought psychiatric or
psychological "therapy" or even marriage
counselling was mentioned in the August 1990 issue
of Consumer Reports in an article titled
"The Crisis in Health Insurance": "Virtually
no commercial carriers and only a handful of Blue
Cross and Blue Shield plans will sell policies to
anyone who has had heart disease, internal cancer,
diabetes, strokes, adrenal disorders, epilepsy, or
ulcerative colitis. Treatment for alcohol
and substance abuse, depression, or even visits to
a marriage counselor can also mean a rejection.
If you have less serious conditions, you may get coverage,
but on unfavorable terms" (p. 540 - italics added).
The stigma involved in obtaining
psychiatric "therapy" was discussed in an
article by columnist Darrell Sifford titled "Should
You Lie About Psychiatric Care?" appearing in
The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)
on June 10, 1990. A mother wrote to Mr. Sifford
asking whether her teenage son, who was about to apply
for admission to college, should answer truthfully
the questions about psychiatric treatment, which he
had had at the age of 15. She wrote: "Many
of these [college application] forms request information
regarding any psychiatric treatment. And once
he is out in the real world, most job application
forms ask for the same information ... Have
we [by insisting he get psychiatric care] doomed him
to a future of lying on application forms for fear
of losing the position or college being applied for?
What should we do?" The newspaper columnist realized
the woman's question is what he called "a serious
question. Very Serious." He shared
the woman's letter with Paul Fink, immediate past
president of the American Psychiatric Association.
This was Dr. Fink's advice: "I would tell them
to lie on the forms ... The stigma is there, and to
deny it and sacrifice yourself by telling the truth
makes no sense. ... With the public at large
I work to decrease stigma, but with individual patients
I impress on them how widespread and deeply rooted
the stigma is. ... If two people who are equal
in credentials apply for a job and one has had psychiatric
treatment, that person will be discriminated against,
and he'll be the loser in the competition for the
job. ... Even if the person with treatment
had better credentials, he most likely still would
lose out to the other person. That's how deeply
rooted the stigma is. ... I will not encourage
anybody to acknowledge that they had treatment"
Do you want to go through life
with this kind of secret? How do you feel about lying
on applications for the rest of your life? If
it is your rebellious adolescent or troubled spouse
for whom you're considering psychiatric "treatment",
ask yourself this question: Do you really hate your
rebellious teenager or spouse enough to impose this
kind of problem on him or her? Is it really
the right thing to do? The problems motivating
you to impose so-called therapy on a member of your
family are probably temporary, but psychiatric stigma
The Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA), is unlikely to help much, despite its aim
of eliminating discrimination in employment against
people with disabilities, including alleged psychiatric
disabilities. As Jonas Robitscher, J.D., M.D.,
said in his book The Powers of Psychiatry
prior to the enactment of the ADA: "The disclosure
that one is or has been mentally ill can lead to rejection,
and other reasons for the rejection can always be
found. ... Forcing private employers to hire
the disabled would raise issues of invasion of privacy
and problems of enforcement. Stigmatization will continue
to be a problem, and discrimination will continue
to exist" (p. 241-242). In areas covered
by the ADA, availing oneself of its protection will
probably require large amounts of time spent in litigation
and a lot of money paid in lawyer's fees, with uncertain
And there are many areas of stigmatization
and discrimination the ADA and other laws don't cover.
One example is colleges and universities that do not
receive federal funds. Another is the effect of psychiatric
stigma on personal relationships: Keeping secrets
conceals parts of who you are and prevents emotional
intimacy of the sort most people want with friends
and especially with one's spouse; but sharing this
secret leaves you open to blackmail or similar kinds
of pressure. Concealing psychiatric "treatment"
from an employer (as is often necessary to get a job)
but revealing it to one's spouse or a friend gives
the spouse or friend knowledge that can be used against
you if your relationship turns sour. Should
you be put in a position where you must lie to your
spouse or a friend to keep secret your history of
so-called psychiatric or psychological "therapy"
(e.g., if he or she should ask), you introduce deception
into a relationship where probably you wish you could
be honest and sincere. Even if you don't tell
your spouse or someone you are thinking about marrying,
divorce now occurs in close to a majority of
marriages, and in a divorce - especially if you get
into a dispute over child custody or even visitation
rights - your spouse's attorney will probably ask
you, under oath when you are subject to the penalties
of perjury, if you have ever had psychiatric or psychotherapeutic
"treatment" - perhaps confronting you with
the choice of committing perjury or jeopardizing your
employment by telling the truth. Whether you
admit having had psychiatric or psychological "therapy"
or it is discovered some other way, the resulting
stigma may result in losing your children in a custody
battle, and threats to reveal it to your employer
may be used to pressure you to agree to property division
or alimony (or lack of it) or an amount of child support
that is not appropriate. You may have to consider
these problems when contemplating the wisdom of getting
married or divorced - problems you could have avoided
by simply avoiding having received "therapy".
You are likely to face a similar dilemma if you are
ever called for jury duty, since during the jury selection
phase of the trial potential jurors are often asked,
under oath, if they have ever had psychiatric "treatment".
Another time you will probably be asked about past
psychiatric "treatment" is if your job requires
you to get a security clearance or bonding.
If the so-called therapy helped
enough, it might be worth the problems created by
the stigma of having had psychiatric or psychological
"help". However, the benefit assumed
to come from psychiatric and psychological "therapy"
(itself a questionable assumption) is vastly outweighed
by the stigma that comes from receiving it.
The stigma that results from seeing psychiatrists,
psychologists, or psychiatric social workers is a
strong argument in favor of instead consulting friends,
family, or nonprofessional counselors whose expertise
comes from life rather than from "professional"
training, or simply working at solving your problems
Lawrence Stevens, is a lawyer whose practice has included
representing psychiatric "patients".
His pamphlets are not copyrighted. You are invited
to make copies for distribution to those who you think
The following appears in a pamphlet titled "Serving
on a North Carolina Jury," published in 1997
as a public service of the North Carolina Bar Association
in a section titled "The Questioning of Jurors":
"When you report to the court for jury service,
you will be asked certain general questions by the
judge regarding your qualifications to serve as a
juror. ... Then, when you are called to
the jury panel for a particular case, the lawyers
in the case have the right to ask additional questions."
The pamphlet doesn't say so, but included in these
questions may be whether you have ever had psychiatric
treatment. You will be asked these questions
while under oath, meaning you may be charged with
the felony offense of perjury if you deny having had
psychiatric treatment when in fact you have.
Jury pools are taken from public records such as lists
of registered voters and holders of driver licenses.
So if you register to vote or have a driver license,
you are at risk of being called for jury service.
There are legal penalties for refusing to serve, so
you may not be able to avoid the problem by simply
refusing to appear for jury service
A new national survey reveal by the National Opinion
Research Center at the University of Chicago found
that the Stigma of mental illness still exists.
The survey found that "The public appears to
hold an exaggerated view of the impairment faced by
those with mental illness and the level of danger
they present to themselves and others."
"Being psychiatrically diagnosed, medicated,
or hospitalized gives a child a stigma that a lifetime
will not overcome. It should be avoided at all
costs." Peter R. Breggin, M.D., in his
Our Children (Perseus Books, Cambridge, Mass.,
2000), page 56.
"The ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] was
passed in 1990, prohibiting employers from discriminating
on the basis of disability, including mental disability.
Employers may no longer ask applicants about their
mental health and hospitalization histories.
... The best the ADA has been able to accomplish
is to change the workplace from one where applicants
had to affirmatively lie about their psychiatric histories
and diagnoses to an environment of 'don't ask,
don't tell.' ... when it comes to psychiatric
disabilities, it would be fair to conclude that the
ADA has failed to provide a remedy against employment
discrimination." Susan Stefan, J.D., Hollow
Promises - Employment Discrimination Against People
with Mental Disabilities (American Psychological
Association, Washington, D.C., 2002), pp. xiv &
19-20. Susan Stefan is an attorney at the Center
for Public Representation in Newton, Massachusetts.
Until 2001, she was a professor of law at the University
of Miami School of Law, where she taught disability
law and mental health law. She graduated magna
cum laude from Princeton University in 1980, received
a master's in philosophy from Cambridge University
in 1981, and received her law degree from Stanford
also: from www.antipsychiatry.org
Psychiatric Drugs Are Always Bad"*
by by Douglas C. Smith, M.D.
*We are not advising for or against
the use of psychiatric drugs as prescibed by a doctor.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or
PTSD you may want to consider consulting your family
doctor, for advise about the injury and to document
its impact on your health. >>> Terms