Bioethics News

“Anti-psychiatry” gets official recognition at U of Toronto

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An institute at the University of Toronto has established the world’s first scholarship for anti-psychiatry. Bonnie Burstow, an anti-psychiatry activist, has endowed a matching scholarship for a research student at the UT’s  Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

According to a University press release, “The scholarship is being materialized at an opportune time. Key academics have demonstrated the enormous harm done by psychiatry … we have arrived at a moment where imminent action is called for, for we are now facing ‘an epidemic of iatrogenic [doctor-created] illness’.”

The initiative has come under fire in the Canadian press. National Post columnist Barbara Kay was savage in her criticism:

Real scholarship is “for” truth. The whole idea of any scholarly field being called “anti” anything is bizarre, and runs counter to the raison d’être of the university. The prefix “anti” tells us that Burstow’s program is merely organized political activism with OISE’s endorsement and the use of their resources. And her stated goal, to “spur alternate ways of arranging society so that we aren’t inventing diseases,” contains a demonstrable lie in the service of an extreme social-engineering agenda.

However, the University says that conventional psychiatry already has abundant resources. “Equity and academic freedom themselves require that antipsychiatry scholars, including exceptional ones, have more equitable access to scholarship support.”

Dr Burstow explains in the video above that her movement is calling for the abolition of psychiatry. It is linked to the critiques by R.T. Laing, Thomas Szasz, and Michel Foucault of the oppressive role of psychiatry in modern society.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.