I love a particular brand of old nutters. Today I am thinking of David Cooper, the Marxist anti-psychiatry advocate from the seventies. I still think what he saw & stood for was spot on. But being passionate, extreme and radical does not make for a revolution. He hardly ranks on the Net, mere mentions with no real appreciation of his value. Yet he was quite profound, in an ineffective sort of way. The question remains: How to be psychologically political, can something be salvaged from ashes?
This is typical of the ashes that remain: From Psychiatry at 2000 A bird’s-eye view Henry R. Rollin
The anti-psychiatry movement
In the 1960s a new movement emerged to trouble the waters of the psychiatric establishment psychiatry. The movement, left-wing in politics, sported an international membership including, for example, Ronald Laing and David Cooper in England; Thomas Szasz in America and Michel Foucault in France, the only one, incidentally, without psychiatric credentials. The gospel according to this group was that psychiatry was a form of social repression; that treatment was disguised punishment and, above all, that mental hospitals must be closed forthwith to avoid further damage to the patients.
The movement for a time enjoyed widespread popularity; but it died, because, in practice, the results were an unmitigated disaster, as witness David Cooper’s venture in England in 1962. “The lunatics have taken over the asylum”, was how it was aptly summarised.
A useful potted history of Anti-Psychiatry here: The free Dictionary