Psychiatry, Eugenics and Mad In America Scare Tactics – Part I

By Marvin Ross

Much of what I read on the Robert Whitaker website, Mad in America, stretches logic but this newest blog has to be one of the biggest stretches I’ve seen. Dr Robert Berezin, a US psychiatrist, warns that psychiatry is moving closer and closer to eugenics.

As defined by “eugenics is a word that made everyone at the event uncomfortable. … The very subject evokes dark visions of forced sterilization and the eugenics horrors of the early 20th century. … The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.”

The most famous proponent of eugenics was Adolph Hitler who wanted a pure Aryan race but the subject has been advocated by many in recent history in an attempt to eradicate debilitating diseases. In fact, one could say that the reason for amniocentesis is to do just that. Sampling of the amniotic fluid of pregnant women can predict such things as Down’s Syndrome. And some parents will opt for abortion if Down’s is found but many do not.

Amniocentesis can also predict such genetic conditions as Tay Sachs Disease where the infant usually only lasts to about age 4. But, nowhere in the article by Dr Berezin does he actually show that modern psychiatry is planning to eliminate anyone who suffers from schizophrenia or any other psychiatric disorder.

What he talks about is the fact that genetics is being employed to try to understand these conditions better. He states that:

The accepted (and dangerous) belief is that psychiatry deals with brain diseases – inherited brain diseases. We are back to absolute genetic determinism. Today’s extremely bad science is employed to validate not only the idea that schizophrenia and manic-depression are genetic brain diseases, but that depression, anxiety, phobias, psychopathy, and alcoholism are caused by bad genes

I have no idea why he considers the genetic research to be bad science other than he does not agree with it. So what if he doesn’t. He does state that “The temperamental digestion of trauma into our personalities is the source of psychiatric conditions.” But, as Dr David Laing Dawson has written on this blog:

Childhood deprivation and childhood trauma, severe and real trauma, can lead to a lifetime of struggle, failure, depression, dysthymia, emotional pain, addictions, alcoholism, fear, emotional dysregulation, failed relationships, an increase in suicide risk, and sometimes a purpose, a mission in life to help others. But not a persistent psychotic illness. On the other hand teenagers developing schizophrenia apart from a protective family are vulnerable, vulnerable to predators and bullies. So we often find a small association between schizophrenia and trauma, but not a causative relationship.

Dr Berezin’s concern does not come from anything that anyone has said about aborting fetuses that genetic testing proves will be born with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or any serious psychiatric condition. And the reason for that is that genetics and the understanding of the causes of these diseases is nowhere near a point that this can be demonstrated with 100% accuracy. Science is a long way from getting to that point if it ever is able to.

Suggesting that these research avenues will lead to abortion, eugenics or something similar is absurd and nothing but scare tactics perpetrated by someone who does not agree with the causation theories being investigated. If these avenues lead nowhere and it is discovered that science has been on the wrong path, then science will self correct. Attempting to generate unfounded fear is counterproductive.

Next Part II by Dr David Laing Dawson

10 thoughts on “Psychiatry, Eugenics and Mad In America Scare Tactics – Part I

  1. The irony of the antipsychiatry fanatics’ fear mongering about eugenics is the fact that Hitler’s primary eugenics strategy was based on survival of the fittest and elimination of the gene pool. The anti-treatment MAD group actually supports withholding treatment for those too sick to ask for help, which in turn engineers selective survival.


    1. So, the only two choices for Mad people are “get better” or risk extermination? EVERYBODY – SCREENSHOT THIS COMMENT!!! This is eugenics 101 – and EXACTLY what Mad in America was writing about.


  2. Witaker and Berezin, spread and generate fear. Neither appears to understand the quote ” Cure sometimes relieve often and comfort always” Their agenda is very suspect and often leads sufferers away from treatment that might be of some benefit. It is doubtful whether either understands or attempts to understand any serious science.


    1. Ms. Forsdyke, just about all of the Mad people who turn to Mad in America for their medical information and news have cut psychiatry loose BEFORE they’ve even heard of Mad in America. That’s how it happened with me. And there is NOTHING wrong with Mad people who need a second opinion about psychiatry. It’s their bodies, rights, and lives that psychiatry has the power to destroy, not yours! Judgments about which sources of information are “credible” are SELF-SERVING and BASELESS if the people who are making those judgments have not THEMSELVES been targeted by psychiatry or abused by it.


      1. I used the word “I” As far as I know truth is based on facts and we are not exactly near that yet . However some people do start to function after they have received treatment. Treatment is certainly not perfect but without it some end up on the streets in jail or homeless totally neglected. The antipsychiatry movement ignores this fact .


      2. Ms. Forsdyke, Mad people are homeless and neglected because their family members and clinicians decide to evict them and throw them away. They’re NOT homeless and neglected because they’re living free lives while they’re too “sick” for anyplace except a hospital.


  3. Trauma doesn’t cause “mental illness” and smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer and football doesn’t cause CTE. Yep. That’s right. Let’s make believe, maim and murder. #sarcasm


  4. So here we have it ( see above ) 665 is a “family blamer’.

    Some families I have known have had a lasting pain because they can’t find their loved on who has slipped through the cracks in a system which fails to serve many who have very serious mental illnesses. Confidentiality laws often interfere with their being able to reconnect. Sadly many ill people are relieved when they undergo treatment and are glad that their family tried to find them. This has happed so many times to many families I know. Perhaps 665 should think his stance out again .


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