The letter that Peter Breggin didn’t respond

Dear Dr. Breggin:

I wrote you two or three letters in 2003 and 2004. None of them was answered but I hope you will answer this one.

The editor of your journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry (EHPP), Laurence Simon, contradicts what you say in Chapter 2 of “Toxic Psychiatry”. For instance, regarding an article submission for EHPP Simon suggested me to put aside any “theories that blame poor mother” for psychological damage of the child. He was very emphatic on this.

Two years ago I sent Simon my revised version. I eliminated all mention to Lidz, Laing and Arieti’s work. But Simon demanded as requisite for publication that I had to eliminate all reference to the trauma model of mental disorders, about which he is completely skeptical. Curiously, my paper does not deal with trauma: it is an attack on biological psychiatry, though I did mention the trauma model.

Let me quote from your schizophrenia chapter in Toxic Psychiatry:

“More than one patient of mine has begun with just such anguished fragments of memory before discovering the agony of his or her abusive childhood and its relationships to current entrapments” [page 24]. “Mad persons are victims of a corrupt upbringing: Behavior that gets labeled schizophrenic is a special strategy that a person invented in order to live in an unlivable situation. What’s wrong is not ‘in the patient’, but in his family and society” [page 31].

You made many other similar pronouncements in your chapter about schizophrenia under the headings “The Family” (pages 34ff), “Envy and Shaming in the Family” (pages 36ff), “Blaming” (pages 39f) and “Should Parents Feel Guilty?” (page 40). Indeed, those views are identical to mine. This is why I am totally flabbergasted that your journal editor holds the opposite view: that the basic etiology of psychoses is still a total mystery.

Even though I write in Spanish, I am about to finish a book that includes harsh criticism of Laurence Simon and EHPP. The reason for this is that your editor’s stand (“poor mother”) is an absolute insult for people who have had terribly abusive mothers—and fathers too.

I want to spare you from that sort of criticism. Those passages of yours quoted above show me that you are —or at least you were when writing Toxic Psychiatry— a very compassionate and understanding person toward survivors, and that you believed there is some truth in the claim that some parents drive their offspring mad.

So please answer this letter. Why an editor you chose holds exactly the opposite view of what you say in your manifesto? If the subject of parental abuse is paramount to understand mental stress and disorders, as you wrote, why haven’t you fired Laurence Simon?




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