January 30, 2004
Running the Asylum

In 1971 a German psychiatrist, Herr Dr. Wolfgang Huber, believed that the organic cause of most psychological disorders was simply capitalism. Not more and not less.

That's 23 years ago, and lots has changed. Now U.S. psychopharmaceuticals are in the full cycle of what ad agencies call "ethical marketing". As far as the market is concerned, the companies that make those drugs are evaluated not in terms of efficacy or innovation, but rather, like any other manufacturer: market share. They have to grow their consumer base, same like Toyota or Heinz. You could argue over whether capitalism is the problem, but it's definitely not part of the solution.

Back in '71, Huber's mental patients wound up forming the terrorist group "Sozialistisches Patienten Kollektiv," mostly known as the SPK. Some say Huber trained them to build and use bombs to alleviate their depression; if he didn't, someone else did. The SPK blew up the German embassy in Stockholm, stuff like that. Many of them ended up in the Red Army Faction, or dead or in prison.

I'm not suggesting that blowing up embassies in Sweden is any cure for any thing in the world, but I always appreciated Huber's pragmatic insight that cultural conditions could be directly related to dysfunction or psychosis.

That said, I have also always appreciated the lives saved by anti-depressants, among those who need them. There's nothing abstract about it when they are necessary and when they work. It's just that those drugs are also part of a continuum of conditions, maybe the same ones they're designed to cure.

And in the meantime, AKPress is republishing the SPK manifestoes and theses, available by DHS-supervised mail.

(I just posted this as a comment on someone else's blog, but it's entry-sized, so I'm parking it here)

Posted by kevin slavin at January 30, 2004 04:10 PM

It's a sad and troubled world that necessitates pharmaceuticals as a precondition for normalcy. I agree that medication is necessary for some, but the idea that one in four or five in America is "clinically depressed" to me is hogwash and "unethical marketing" by Pfizer. I equate the pharmaceutical lobby with the gun lobby in that they both need to justify their existences by convincing the world that pills and guns are necessities of life.

"In a meta-analysis of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) database of controlled trials used in the initial approval for the most popular antidepressants, I. Kirsch, T. J. Moore, A. Scoboria, and S. S. Nicholls (2002) found that antidepressants demonstrated a clinically negligible advantage over inert placebo. These results are surprising, because they come from studies underwritten by the drug manufacturers." See The Emperor's New Drugs.

My argument is that drugs are only truly necessary for a marginal few, and that we are better off changing the way we live, eat and exercise to stave off the ill effects of our capitalistic world.

But then I would start to sound hokey.

Posted by: tmonkey on January 31, 2004 10:30 AM

OK, but SPK aside, capitalism aside, let me ask you this.

What percentage of the US has corrective lenses? If it's the same proportion as those on psychopharmaceuticals (and safe to say it's higher) would we say that that all the people with "corrective" lenses just need to change their lifestyle? What about dentistry? That people need to learn to figure out how to live with decaying teeth and constant pain?

What makes fixing the rest of our body a status quo response? Why is it that our eyes fuck up and we fix them, and our brains fuck up but there's issues involved?

I'm asking. Not Dr. Wolfgang Huber, but I'm asking.

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on January 31, 2004 03:10 PM

I find it difficult to put something as incredibly complex and powerful as the human brain on par with the eye or a molar. Granted, the eye is an amazingly sophisticated piece of machinery. However, it receives light and sends it to the brain, which does the incomprehensible task of comprehending reality, of which photons are only a part.

I have no problem with eyeglasses or contacts (or even Lasik really) to correct faulty vision. I have no problem with dentistry to fix our decayed or misshapen teeth (though dentists have been known to profit from unnecessary wisdom tooth operations). I don't even have a problem with some drugs which are quite necessary to deal with obvious and serious physical trauma (anaesthetics, vaccines, and the like).

But when drug companies start to engineer chemicals using semi-educated, pseudo-scientific guesswork in an effort to pinpoint specific behaviors and to alter them, and then proceed to push these drugs onto more and more people to increase sales and profits, I have a problem.

I don't doubt that these drugs can sometimes have positive effects on people, but to think this, the fastest, most invasive, most immediately effective way, is the only solution does the human body and mind a great disservice.

Posted by: tmonkey on January 31, 2004 08:46 PM

Lasik apparently fails at altitude. Beck Withers (sp?) of Into Thin Air fame went blind above 26000 feet or so because of the lower air pressure.

Posted by: dbrown on February 2, 2004 05:21 PM

Ref.: SPK
Gossipcide in the case of print media, TV & Co.

The Sociialist Patients’ Collective (SPK) never ceased to exist and it has prevailed again and again despite of the most averse circumstances while all the other currents and movements, at that time being considered "far more revolutionary", have failed long since and have terminated or surrendered, even if un-dissolved.

The SPK exists only as SPK within the Patients’ Front, as SPK/PF.

Note and pay attention that:
The SPK had and has

nothing to do with the RAF
nothing to do with the politico-activists of the so-called 68-movement
nothing to do with the so-called self-help groups and suchlike
nothing to do with the so-called anti-psychiatry or other medical or non-medical speciialist disciplines
but it had and has to do with illness against Iatro-capitalism.

At that time only the SPK had referred positively to illness. No other political, socialiist, communist, anarchist or militarist grouping was disposed to do the same. In the meanwhile, however, the PF/SPK has spread worldwide stabilizing itself in the common interest and goal of opposing finally the doctors’ class, which has been murdering without punishment since thousands of years, at least with the beginning of a Patients’ Front and a patients’ class. The principle of propagation of the PF/SPK is called, just as it was then, Multi-Focal Expansionism (MFE). There is, for instance, PF/SPK Austria (Patientenstimme, Patients’ Voice), and likewise MFE Spain, Greece and many others.

The PF/SPK-texts are published by the KRRIM – Verlag fuer Krankheit (Publisher pro Illness); its actual address (since 5.5.2000) being: PF/SPK, KRANKHEIT IM RECHT, MA/HD/LU, Postfach 12 10 41, D-68061 Mannheim.

The only address for information on the SPK is:

Pathopraktik mit Juristen
Strasse: U 5, 18, D-68161 Mannheim
Phone: +49-621-25366, Fax : +49-621-1564174
Huber himself, founder of the SPK, Dr.med., has entrusted all juridical matters concerning the SPK to Mrs. Ingeborg Muhler, attorney and MA in Computer Science, being herself an active member of the SPK already since 1970/71.
This means among others: who continues to repeat the false statements on the SPK has to face a fine of 250,000 EURO or a prison sentence up to 6 months. As a result of that, since 1995 nobody has dared to vouch personally for the false statements referred to above, neither in private nor in public, let alone stood a public trial on the relative charges. By the way, during a 3-years-period the best-before date of the aforementioned lies and reporters’ legends, which were being repeated with obstinacy for such a long time, has already been tested successfully several dozens of times.


Text for entries on the SPK in the Encyclopedias of Brockhaus, Duden, etc..

Socialiist Patients’ Collective

The SPK was founded in Heidelberg, February 1970, by the frontpatient Huber, WD, Dr.med. The SPK-program: Turn Illness into a weapon!, keeps on being practicated and remains reality. The SPK, which has emerged from the Patients’ Front, declared its self-dissolution in July 1971 (strategic withdrawal). As Patients’ Front of the confrontation-patients this SPK had already existed since 1965, and it continues to exist and to be active without break in its continuing activity, that is as PF/SPK.

Posted by: jorge on November 22, 2004 03:09 PM
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