Mar 23, 2019
This week on MIA Radio, we
chat with Doctor Lee Coleman. Lee trained in psychiatry during the
1960s, quickly adopting a sceptical attitude to the newly emerging
field of biological psychiatry and rejecting the idea that drugs
could be beneficial for so-called ‘mental disorders’. By the early
1970s, Lee’s professional life was divided between a small
home-based practice of psychotherapy and a variety of activities –
writing, speaking and political advocacy – focused on psychiatry’s
role in society.
His experiences led to writing the book Reign of
Error in 1984 in which he brings to bear his lengthy
experience in both clinical and legal issues surrounding Psychiatry
Now retired, Lee devotes his time to public education that
exposes the individual and public harms from today’s “mental
health” industry. He seeks to support a grassroots movement to
abolish forced “treatment” and provide tools to amplify the voices
of those seeking change.
The discussion today marks the first in what will hopefully be a
series of interviews on a range of topics which will be released on
the podcast over the coming months.
In this episode we discuss:
- What led Lee to his interest in attending medical school during
the 1950s and his fascination with the burgeoning field of
- How, once he got to medical school, he found he did not care
for psychiatry’s biological orientation.
- The Lee’s residency period was 1965 to 1969 and this marked a
period of decline of psychoanalysis and the rise of biomedical
- That Lee came to see himself as part of what was called at the
time ‘community psychiatry’ which was socially oriented.
- How, in the late 1960s, psychiatry was feeling the heat from
psychologists, social workers and even some religious counsellors
who started lobbying to get licenses to provide therapy.
- How psychiatry then started going on the offensive to redefine
itself as having the leading medical expertise in mental
- That Lee was extremely concerned to learn about the legal power
of psychiatry and this was a motivator to write The Reign of Error
- How a book called Soledad Brother: The Prison
Letters of George Jackson called into question much
of what Lee had been taught during his residency.
- That Reign of Error is about both what is wrong with psychiatry
and the fact that it is linked to the power of the State.
- That Lee has participated in well over 800 legal cases as an
expert witness, but he has never testified as to the state of a
person’s mind, instead he has testified on the state of
- That Lee has testified to the fact that psychiatrists are
generally worse at assessing someone’s mental state than the
average lay-person in the jury.
- How language can falsely lead us to believe that science
underpins the actions of psychiatrists, something Lee refers to as
The War of the Words.
- That we have to fight back by explaining properly what words
like ‘treatment’ actually mean.
- How American psychiatry is leading the way to the worldwide
drugging of citizens and that we need political action to resist
Doctor Lee Coleman
The Reign of
Lee’s YouTube Channel
Soledad Brother: The Prison
Letters of George Jackson
© Mad in America 2019