Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

“In every American community you have varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.”

—Phil Ochs, Introduction to “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” on the live album, Phil Ochs in Concert (1966)

Many self-identified liberals are far more than “ten degrees to the right of center” with regard to psychiatry. With the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, and then even more so following 9/11 in 2001, the United States has swung so far to the right that many self-identified liberals embrace, often unwittingly, a right-wing view in many aspects of society, including psychiatry.

Establishment psychiatry has historically been supported by the ruling elite in return for meeting the elite’s needs to maintain the societal hierarchy and political status quo. Psychiatry has met the elite’s needs by its various attributions—repeatedly proven to be scientifically unfounded—that emotional suffering and odd or frightening behaviors are caused by defects in individual biochemistry and genetics, rather than by trauma and societal defects created by the ruling elite.

In the past, right-wing psychiatry’s individual defect view—in combination with extreme nationalism that requires an entire population to efficiently meet the needs of its state-corporatist…

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