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Smoke and Mirrors: How You Are Being Fooled About Mental Illness - An Insider's Warning to Consumers

Smoke and Mirrors: How You Are Being Fooled About Mental Illness - An Insider's Warning to Consumers

by Chuck Ruby


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The orthodox mental health industry is a form of social and moral control and not a true medical system. It has created the "myth of mental illness" that fools people into believing common and adaptive human reactions to emotional pain are illnesses or otherwise signs of personal dysfunction. This critique is not new. It arose six decades ago at a time when psychiatry was embracing the biology of human distress and the use of mind-altering drugs to numb that distress. However, this shift in mainstream psychiatry's focus was not based on science. Instead, it was based on the industry's flailing attempt to present itself as a legitimate medical specialty. Yet, despite the many ways over the ensuing years that professionals, academicians, and activists have described this myth and its dangers, traditional psychiatry has become an even more powerful force and a threat to human freedom and dignity. Smoke and Mirrors explains why nothing has changed and it offers a humane alternative to the current system.

Part I exposes how this myth is hidden behind a disguise of medicine that fools not only the lay public, but also the very professionals of the mental health industry. Illusions of language, created with medical terms and verbal sleights of hand, permeate both lay and professional discourse. Words like "healthy," "patient," "diagnosis," and the very phrases "mental illness" and "mental health," perpetuate a belief that emotional distress and troublesome behaviors are medical matters to be corrected through medical means. So-called "evidence" presented in professional journals and popular news accounts of "mental illness" falls short of the basic requirements of science and critical thought. Research fails to provide evidence to support the orthodox claim that human distress is about real illness. So-called "treatment" for it is likewise without scientific merit, and instead, mostly consists of trying to stop people from complaining about real life problems. When successful, it is called "effective treatment" and "symptom reduction." In other words, the mental health industry is not scientific - it is pseudoscientific. It is a system of moral judgments and injunctions. Real illness is about physiological viability and there are natural thresholds between healthy and unhealthy physiological functioning. But with "mental illness," there is no natural boundary between it and mental health. Thus, arbitrary moral judgments must be made to distinguish the two.

Part II of the book removes the disguise and presents a humane non-medical and non-illness alternative to understanding the very real and distressing problems we face in life. Germane philosophical issues regarding the mind-body difference, emotions, and existential dilemmas are explored. Various "mental illness" diagnoses are explained as different types of escape strategies - attempts to break free of the inherent painful emotions in living. But the problem is not the pain. It is the futility of attempting to escape that pain indefinitely. Without the specter of "mental illness" as a force that dictates or prevents personal actions, we are left with the realization that mental disability, impairment, and insanity are fictions too. The key to overcoming emotional distress and wayward conduct lies in personal desire, willingness, and choice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780578639260
Publisher: Clr Services, Inc.
Publication date: 07/20/2020
Pages: 350
Sales rank: 507,861
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Chuck Ruby, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice in southern Maryland. He is the Executive Director of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP), a non-profit research and public education organization that rejects the traditional medical notion of "mental illness" and calls for humane ways of helping people who suffer from significant life distress. Dr. Ruby was trained in clinical psychology at the Florida State University, earning his Ph.D. in 1995. He is also a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who served in counterespionage, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative assignments across the globe.

Table of Contents


Part I: The Unveiling

Chapter 1: Illusions of Language

Chapter 2: The Invention of a Myth

Chapter 3: Psychological Testing

Chapter 4: The Essence of Abnormality

Chapter 5: Classifying Immorality

Chapter 6: Life as Illness

Chapter 7: The Maintenance of a Myth

Chapter 8: Rebranding Immorality as Illnesses

Chapter 9: Stop Complaining!

Chapter 10: How Psychiatric Drugs Affect the Brain

Chapter 11: Psychotherapy

Part II: The Unveiling

Chapter 12: The Difference Between Brain and Mind

Chapter 13: Emotions and Meaning

Chapter 14: Strategies of Escaping Emotional Pain

Chapter 15: The Willingness to Act

Chapter 16: Final Thoughts


Appendix A: Selected Bibliography

Appendix B: Mental Illness Glossary

Appendix C: False Positives and Screening Tools

Appendix D: Hypothetical Psychotherapy Effect Size



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