Baying at the Moon: ISEPP’s Struggle with Psychiatry’s Perfidy

Baying at the Moon: ISEPP’s Struggle with Psychiatry’s Perfidy

Baying at the Moon: ISEPP's Struggle with Psychiatry's Perfidy

Joe Tarantolo, M.D., Psychiatrist

See my letter below I sent to the ISEPP Board after our Philly conference in 2012 (edited for easier reading)

Reflections By the Chair, ISEPP Conference, Philly, 2012

To the Board of Directors:


First, let me remind you, I am privileged to be your Chair. Also, you give me comfort when I fear I am isolated with this non-Bio model.

IDEAS: response to the conference, MindFreedom, Karon’s PSPP talk and our Board discussion of “Where do we go from here?”

We are not a great organization; we are ,however, worthy.

In 2009, as we went through our wrenching breakup with Peter Breggin, I wrote him a personal letter about which I’m told by reliable sources, he hated. I warned him of what I call the “Great Man” syndrome. It affects most men, and increasingly, more and more women. It’s rooted in early life experience, around the age of seven after reading our 1st Superman comic ( Batman, Cap Marvel, Wonder Woman, etc.) and we secretly identify with their great powers, powers we lust after for the rest of our lives. It is driven, of course, by a deep sense of shame-ridden inadequacy. It plagues us because no matter our accomplishments, they never measure up, we never meet the Superman measure.

This dynamic affects organizations as well, oh yes whole nations too, US exceptionalism!? I note a despair when we decry our puny membership numbers and not-at-all-enough conference attendance. The problem with this syndrome is, not only does it generate sadness, despair and a lack of celebration at small successes, it also is out of touch with reality.

The reality is, and here I must cross over the aisle to my Republican friends, we are only 1 of a 1000 points of light that have begun to shed light on the terrible murderous nature of much of psychiatric practice. (Note that Grace Jackson needed 100’s of research papers, 1000’s perhaps, to make her excellent power point presentation. She did none of the research herself. She is just a small part of the big picture.) If you don’t like that metaphor, how about our being a splash-piece of a giant wave. We don’t have to be grand leaders in this march (a 3rd metaphor), we are just one of many worthy groups not only trying to accomplish something but also trying to discover something.

Bert pointed out in his talk that the Nazis killed off virtually all of their schizophrenics between 1940 and 1945. After the great WW2 conflagration, guess what, the incidence of schizophrenia in Germany was the same as before the Eugenics cleansing. (BTW, the Eugenic movement originated here in the US in the late 19th century and was then exported to Europe.) Bert was using this little epidemiological tidbit to demonstrate how absurd is the notion that schizophrenia is a genetic disease. What he didn’t address though, is given they got rid of all the schizophrenics, regardless of the etiology, why was there still that 1% of the population that is nuts?

This is how I explain it: not only is schizophrenia not a disease and not a neurological problem, but rather that that process of craziness, eccentric painful thinking, has survival value for the culture at large. We create schizophrenia because we need it. There is a fine line, perhaps no line, between delusional thinking and creativity. I suspect we need to have 1% thinking about the world in absurd and disturbing ways to counter a tendency towards uniformity, sterility, and inhibited problem solving. While I’m at it, we need 5% of the population to be gay with a smattering  of transgender because our sexuality is so important for the survival of the species, it must constantly be tested, however discomforting.

I recommend : 

1-We stay small, and like it.

2-We limit our conference to 300 participants: (“REGISTER  SOON., LIMTED NUMBER OF OPENINGS”  (300 is roughly the size of my church and  the school where my 2 daughters went to between Pre-K and 8th. They both went on to ivy league schools by the way)

3-Consider limiting membership to 400-500 paying members, with a waiting list of course. Donations will be accepted by non members.

The $5 million Vision Fund which Al is starting shall be used to connect the dots (oh god, another metaphor) to bring together a confederation of points of light to illuminate a New Mainstream of mental health. I suspect this new mainstream will spill over into political, spiritual, and the general medical scheme.

It is hard for me to define this Stream. It has something to do with Freedom and Placere (to serve) and healing and learning. Bert was cute in this area: “Wouldn’t it be horrible to go 24 hours without learning something?” However excellent was Kirsch’s presentation, he did not emphasize the biological & spiritual reality that ALL ORGANISMS TEND TOWARDS  HEALING THEMSELVES. We are all on a course of healing & learning. When you listen to master therapists such as Karon what you invariably hear is not their know-it-alls. You hear about their ignorance. They become the student; the patient becomes the teacher.

Best to all of you,

Start cracking about next year’s conference,


JT, Chair


  • Joe, My $5 million Vision Fund is in hiatus. As you know, I see our efforts as part of a movement that is similar to the efforts of the suffragettes somewhere between 1850 and 1880. Our efforts are laying the groundwork, providing some foundation and energy for the transformation that will come some day.

  • This makes more sense to me than it did back in 2012. Maybe I'm getting old and conservative.

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