François Ferrero: Inquiry of the Geneva 1980’s Psychiatry Crisis: Forced Hospitalization, ETC and Sleep Therapy

Hector Warnes’ comment on Carlos Morra’s comment


         I just read Carlos Morra’s comment on François Ferrero’s essay as related to the anti-psychiatry movement and would like to comment that I lived through the anti-psychiatry movement.

         I never met Thomas Szasz, one of the leaders of the movement, but in my opinion,   he was one of the most brilliant psychiatrists I ever heard or read. He raised important questions regarding the validity of many psychiatric diagnoses, and we are still doing the same. The real anti-psychiatry leaders were mostly radical left psychiatrists like David Cooper and the Sartre admirer, Ronald Laing and even the more militant Franco Basaglia from Italy. Some of the issues raised by David Healey were also raised by Szasz. Anti-psychiatry has many connotations: moral, ethical, human rights, political, cultural and social.      

         In Argentina the movement is related to power conflicts between psychologists and psychiatrists. The former has acquired a great deal of power and believe they are entitled to take over medical territories, as well as to be the spokespersons for the countless forms of psychotherapy; they even applied for brief training in psychopharmacology to deal with acute cases. Many forensic psychologists are called to court regarding their evaluation of psychiatric patients as they seek to take over the field previously handled by psychiatrists. On the other hand, neurologists have taken over the field of degenerative brain disorders, epilepsy, attention deficit disorders and autism. The latter is also handled by psychologists and child psychiatrists. Autism is really a spectrum disorder with countless possible etiological factors. Most psychiatrists have followed the "American way" and have no training in psychoanalysis, practicing instead what is called biological psychiatry.

         Regarding the new Mental Health Act: in my opinion has more to do with human rights but I agree with Carlos regarding the trend to enact laws affecting psychiatric patients by a team integrated with social workers, psychologists, lawyers, sociologists and maybe one psychiatrist chosen by a psychologist.


November 21, 2019