Learned Helplessness & Medical Fascism

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Rockefellers were the most powerful family in the world, and they began to practice philanthropy to help promote their own particular worldview. In 1902, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was created, and Dr. Simon Flexner was appointed its first director. The Flexner family would become incredibly influential in their day. Younger brother Bernard would become a founding member of the international policy powerhouse known as The Council on Foreign Relations. In 1910, Abraham Flexner, another younger brother, published a report that was to shape the direction of the healthcare system in the US.

Abraham Flexner, was an educator but not a medical practitioner. He surveyed 155 different medical schools all across North America to publish the Flexner Report. It aimed to create a uniform standard for medical teaching across North America. The Report was co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation, and it issued a number of recommendations that medical schools should adopt. For example, all medical graduates had to pass exams administered by the State via a licensing board.

At the time of the initial survey, only 35 of the 155 medical schools surveyed met or surpassed Flexner’s idea of what a medical institution should be but with the immense economic and political capital yielded by Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations, it was tantamount to economic suicide to ignore the Flexner Report mandates (without conforming to the standards issued by the report, medical schools stood little chance of obtaining funding from the Rockefeller/Carnegie financial octopus). Further, thanks to the heavy political lobbying by the Carnegie Foundation and the American Medical Association, state and local licensing requirements mandated adherence to the Flexner Report’s standards.

It has been argued that the Flexner Report raised the standards of medical education and practice and established medicine on a firm scientific foundation correcting many of the deficiencies present back then (Mindrum, Michael R. “Time for another revolution? The Flexner Report in historic context, reflections on our profession.” Coronary Artery Disease 17, no. 5 (August 2006): 477-481). However, today according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (the most widely circulated peer-reviewed medical journal on the planet), iatrogenesis is the third largest killer of Americans after heart disease and cancer (Dr. Barbara Starfield, “Is US health really the best in the world?”, Journal of the American Medical Association, July 26, 2000, p. 483-485). Iatrogenesis is “[a]ny injury or illness that occurs as a result of medical care” (Taber’s Medical Dictionary). That’s right, medical malpractice or ‘death by doctor’ is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The author of the article, Dr. Barbara Starfield from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, reveals the following annual mortality statistics:

106,000Non-error, negative effects of drugs
80,000Infections in hospitals
45,000Other errors in hospitals
12,000Unnecessary surgery
7,000Medication errors in hospitals
225,000Total Deaths by Doctor per Year

Death by doctor kills nearly a quarter million Americans each year. Starfield’s statistics were computed conservatively compared to an independent report published by the National Academy of Science’s Institution of Medicine. Per the IOM report, every single year, deaths due to iatrogenic causes range from 230,000 to 284,000 (ibid pp 484). To put that in perspective, iatrogenic deaths account for five times the deaths caused by motor vehicles,[1] almost seventeen times the deaths caused by firearms,[2] and over 75 times the number that died in the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers.

A comparison of the United States healthcare against that of 13 other countries revealed its abysmal conditions. According to Starfield, the United States scored:

RankHealth Indicator
13(last)Low birth-weight percentages
13 (last)Neonatal mortality and infant mortality overall
11Post neonatal mortality
13(last)Years of potential life lost (excluding external causes)
11, 10, 10, 7, 3Life expectancy for females at 1, 15, 40, 65, 80 years respectively
12, 12, 9, 7, 3Life expectance for males at 1, 15, 40, 65, 80 years respectively
10Age-adjusted mortality

Japan, Sweden, and Canada take the gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively, for having the best healthcare systems today. Only Germany ranks worse than the United States for the quality of its healthcare. It’s interesting to note here that the two men who were the most influential in the development of the American healthcare system, Simon and Abraham Flexner, basically modeled their vision for America after the German medical system (considered the best at that time) . However, wellafter a century of application, both systems have yielded the worst and second-worst ranking of all.

Dr. David L. Edsall was the Dean of the Harvard Medical School and was trained under the new homogenizing protocols instituted by the Flexner Report. In The New Drug Story, Edsall described his experience this way:

I was, for a period, a professor of therapeutics and pharmacology, and I knew from experience that students were obliged then by me and by others to learn about an interminable number of drugs, many of which were valueless, many of them useless, some probably, even harmful . . . Almost all subjects must be taken at exactly the same time, and in almost exactly in the same way by all students, and the amount introduced into each course is such that few students have time or energy to explore any subject in a spirit of independent interest. A little comparison shows that there is less intellectual freedom in the medical course than in almost any other form of professional education in this country.

Bealle, Morris A. The New Drug Story. Washington, D.C.: Columbia Publishing Co., 1958

In this context, a short note on the German medical system is in order. Flexner’s model was based on the German model as we have already mentioned. Otto Von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the unified German Empire and practically the inventor of the modern welfare state as we know it. He implemented legislation that mandated health insurance, as well as accident, disability, and retirement insurance in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. Rudolf Virchow, also known as the Father of Pathology and the most prominent physician in Germany at the time, saw the politics behind Bismarck’s Sickness Insurance Law (1884) and fiercely opposed it (Virchow, by the way, founded the disciplines of cellular and comparative pathology, which along with other modalities, such as medical imaging and blood testing, are the bedrocks of scientific medical diagnosis used today.)

Despite his passionate interest in preventive medicine, Rudolf Virchow, the foremost medical man of the day, as well as a Reichstag deputy, opposed the measure. He did so because he realized that its aim was political, not medical. Bismarck hated communism. He introduced socialized medicine into Germany to buy the loyalty of the German masses: Bismark adopted ‘nationalistic socialism to end international socialism.’… [He] was the first leader of a great nation to fight Communism by adopting Communism… [His scheme] became an important feature of the German militaristic state; it helped pave the way for Hitler a generation later.’ I would add that Bismarck’s nationalization of medicine paved the way not only for Hitler but also, more specifically, for the Nazi program of medicalized mass murder, and, more generally, for the triumph of the therapeutic state and the prevailing political incorrectness of opposing it.

Szasz, Thomas. Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2001, p. 67

The State-enforced medical policies, inspired by the Rockefeller-Carnegie funded Flexner report, may have had a dark side which has been discussed candidly in medical literature, as you can see here:

The Flexner Report, published in the early 20th century, turned medicine toward a firm scientific foundation and raised standards of education and practice. This corrected many of the profession’s deficiencies present at the turn of the century such that medicine became capable of improving the health of humanity. While the focus of education on the sciences suited the needs of the era, the pendulum may have swung too far. As medical schools clamored for funding from wealthy capitalists to achieve new standards, they lost autonomy and adopted unsaid values that were possibly a danger to humanity. This dynamic may have led to the manifestation of medicine’s dark history marked by the eugenics movement and the Tuskegee Project. This history demonstrates how medicine can impact humanity detrimentally when the broader scope of the humanities and arts is lost. In spite of this understanding, medical education has been dogmatic and resistant to change. The paper ends with a description of the crisis in modern medicine that is on par with the problems it faced in the early 1900s and concludes that it is indeed time for another revolution.

Mindrum, Michael R. “Time for another revolution? The Flexner Report in historic context, reflections on our profession.” Coronary Artery Disease 17, no. 5 (August 2006): 477-481

While one may argue that iatrogenesis is an ‘unintended consequence’ of Rockefeller’s Flexner Report, it is very hard to deny that the funding and support of the American Eugenics Society by the Rockefellers, the Carnegies and the Harrimans wasn’t intentional. Eugenics attempts to eliminate genetic defects and improve the qualities of a species or race by controlling reproduction so that only individuals with supposedly desirable traits reproduce. In the Name of Eugenics by Daniel J. Kelves and The War against the Weak by Edwin Black go into meticulous detail regarding the players in the eugenics movement and their atrocities, including forced segregation, sterilization, and mass-murder. In fact, Mrs. E.H. Harriman (wife of the wealthy railroad magnate), John D. Rockefeller (oil magnate), and Andrew Carnegie (steel magnate) funded nearly the entire Eugenics movement in the United States (Kelves, Daniel J. In the Name of Eugenics. Cambridge & London: Harvard University Press, 1995, p. 208).

When we were done, we had assembled a mountain of documentation that clearly chronicled a century of eugenic crusading by America’s finest universities, most reputable scientists, most trusted professional and charitable organizations, and most revered corporate foundations. They had collaborated with the Department of Agriculture and numerous state agencies in an attempt to breed a new race of Nordic humans, applying the same principles used to breed cattle and corn. The names defined power and prestige in America: the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Harriman railroad fortune, Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, the American Medical Association, Margaret Sanger, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Robert Yerkes, Woodrow Wilson, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Genetic Association and a sweeping array of government agencies from the obscure Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics to the U.S. State Department.

Black, Edwin. The War Against the Weak. New York, London: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003, p. xxii

Those that are prone to apophenia might begin to make a connection between eugenicist philosophy, Rockefeller funding, and the incredible amount of annual deaths from iatrogenesis, but those folks that tend towards periphenia might not be able to say anything since they might have been among the 225,000 that die annually due to medical malpractice.

Only after the truth about Nazi exterminations became known did the American eugenics movement fade. American eugenic institutions rushed to change their names from eugenics to genetics. With its new identity, the remnant eugenics movement reinvented itself and helped establish the modern, enlightened human genetic revolution. Although the rhetoric and organizational names had changed, the laws and mindsets were left in place. So for decades after Nuremberg labeled eugenic methods genocide and crimes against humanity, America continued to forcibly sterilize and prohibit eugenically undesirable marriages.

E. Black 2003, xvii

This merger of medicine and the State is what I call Medical Fascism. It not only generates unearthly amounts of revenue and power, but kills those that some may see as ‘prone to weakness.’ In other words, it’s a wealth-seeking eugenicist’s (like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harriman) dream! The Flexner Report has created a brilliant revenue generating iatrogenic healthcare model where the victim not only asks for iatrogenic ‘healthcare,’ but demands it!

In Nazi Germany, the entire medical profession was corrupted, systematically to justify the euthanasia program. In the United States today, the entire medical profession is corrupted, systematically lying to justify a variety of medical interventions—especially for sexual and ‘mental’ problems and the need for pain relief.

Szasz, Thomas. Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2001, p. 47

Psychiatric Trope

Medical Fascism wanted more than to control the body, it sought to control the mind as well. Dr. David L Edsall, Dean of the Harvard Medical School and a Rockefeller Foundation trustee made up his own report. According to Dr. Edsall (and echoing Flexner), psychiatry was “the most backward, the most needed, and potentially the most fruitful field in medicine” (Fosdick, Raymond Blaine. The Story of the Rockefeller Foundation. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1989). It certainly was economically fruitful for the medical industry to bring ‘mental cases’ under the auspices of state-licensed medical doctors. So as eugenics began to fade out of favor as the atrocities of the Nazis came to light, so the Rockefeller Foundation too began to shift its focus from genetic ‘hygiene’ toward ‘mental’ hygiene. The Rockefeller Foundation, along with other foundations, poured many millions of dollars into the medicalization of normal mental problems and processes.

Except for a few objectively identifiable brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, there are neither biological or chemical tests not biopsy or necropsy findings for verifying or falsifying DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) diagnoses.

Szasz, Thomas. Psychiatry: The Science of Lies. New York: Syracuse University Press, 2008, p. 2

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly known as the DSM and which has publishing volume V recently to much controversy) is published by The American Psychiatric Association and is the ‘bible’ of mental health care professionals. There are no statistics though, only ‘diagnoses’— labels, terms, analogies. The DSM is a mostly lexicon of diagnoses where mental ‘diseases’ are voted in, or voted out. For example, due to political pressure the anti-woman diagnosis of ‘hysteria’ was voted out, and in 1973, the mental ‘disease’ of homosexuality was determined, by vote, to no longer be a ‘disease.’ If only we could simply vote out cancer or AIDs from being a disease! At their core, the DSM and APA are not scientific; they are political. Have you ever wondered why an oncologist (a cancer doctor) would prescribe chemotherapy to cure himself of cancer, but why you’ll never find a psychiatrist that has prescribed for himself a lobotomy or electo-shock therapy? Psychiatrists have a suicide rate considerably higher than that of the general public, yet you’ll seldom find a psychiatrist taking SSRI to treat ‘depression.’ Why?

Let us be honest: Classifying nondiseases as disease serves the economic, existential, and professional interest of the classifiers and is, to boot, socially expected of them. For the vast majority of health-care professionals—especially the legions of psychologists, social workers, grief counselors, drug abuse specialists, and other practitioners of existential cannibalism—it would be professional suicide to categorize nondiseases correctly: their every instinct of self-interest opposes such truth telling. After incessantly inflating the concept of illness, medical professionals and the media have, in effect, lost their ability to call a spade a spade and a heart a nonspade.

Szasz, Thomas Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2001, p. 37

Psychiatry’s revenue-generating ability is illustrated by the near doubling of the rate of anti-depressant prescriptions in the United States between 1995 and 2005. According Mark Olfson and Steven Marcus, fifteen million more Americans were on anti-depressants than just a decade before (Olfson, Mark, and Steven Marcus. “National Patterns in Antidepressant Medication Treatment.” Archives of General Psychiatry 66, no. 8 (2009): 848-856). The rise in the usage of these pharmaceuticals is such that in Britain drinking water is now tainted with them. As environmental spokesman Norman Baker puts it, “This looks like a case of hidden mass medication of the unsuspecting public and is potentially a very worrying health issue” (Dawar, Anil. “Prozac: Found in Tapwater.” Daily Mail, August 9, 2004).

And this massive increase has taken place despite research that shows these anti-depressants offer no more help than placebo, only dangerous side-effects:

Meta-analyses of antidepressant medications have reported only modest benefits over placebo treatment, and when unpublished trial data are included, the benefit falls below accepted criteria for clinical significance.

Kirsch, Irving, Brett J. Deacon, Tania B. Heudo-Medina, Alan Scoboria, Thomas J. Moore, and Blair T. Johnson. “Intial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.” PLoS Medicine (Public Library of Science), February 2008

This means there was effectively zero difference in positive performance between the drug and a placebo in patients with moderate depression and a clinically insignificant difference among patients with severe depression. So all these patients would have had the same benefits had they taken a sugar pill without exposing themselves to dangerous side-effects and without the expense of the medications.

The most fearless and brilliant critic of psychiatry and its tropes has been the psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. In fact, his criticisms and the strength of his arguments have become central to the very subject of ‘mental illness’ (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mental-illness). Fortunately, Szasz is not alone in his skepticism of psychiatry. In a 1972 study, Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan had perfectly healthy volunteers admit themselves to a mental hospital where the hospital psychiatrist then interpreted their normal behavior to be insane. Rosenhan writes about his experiment, “It is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals” (Rosenhan, D.L. “On Being Sane in Insane Places.” Science [American Association for the Advancement of Science] 179, no. 4070. 1973: 250–258). One year later, Donald Naftulin, a young psychiatrist, hired an actor to impersonate a psychiatrist before 53 subjects (composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and educators). Journalist Mark Oppenheimer summarizes the findings nicely:

For ‘The Doctor Fox Lecture: A Paradigm of Educational Seduction,’ a 1973 article still widely cited by critics of student evaluations, Donald Naftulin, a psychiatrist, and his co-authors asked an actor to give a lecture titled “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education.” The actor was a splendid speaker, his talk filled with witticisms and charming asides — but also with “irrelevant, conflicting and meaningless content.” Taking questions afterward, the silver-haired actor playing “Dr. Myron L. Fox” affably answered questions using “double talk, non sequiturs, neologisms and contradictory statements.” The talk was given three times: twice to audiences of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, the last time to graduate students in educational philosophy.

Oppenheimer, Mark. The Times, September 19, 2008

Even as early as 1879, Nellie Bly, an investigative journalist wrote an article for the New York Times entitled “Tormenting the Insane” (1879) that detail her findings when she faked ‘mental illness’ to gain admittance to an insane asylum under an assumed name to write an expose. Famed German imposter Gert Postel even faked being a psychiatrist and got away with it.

As far as psychiatry is concerned, it can be said that if you’re able to perform linguistic acrobatics you can make a career for yourself. That is what Psychiatry is based on.

Postel, Gert. Gert Postel: German Television Interview. October 26, 2001. http://www.gert-postel.de/english.htm (accessed October 14, 2009

Given the influence which psychiatric trope has in our Brave New World today, we would well to understand the politic aims of psychiatry, which leaders in the profession had made clearly early on. John Rawling Rees, co-founder of the World Federation for Mental Health and the Tavistock Institute, says:

Public life, politics and industry should all of them be within [psychiatry’s] sphere of influence… we have made a useful attack upon a number of professions. The two easiest of them naturally are the teaching profession and the Church; the two most difficult are law and medicine.

Rees, John Rawlings. “Strategic Planning for Mental Health.” Mental Health 1, no. 4 (October 1940)

Institutionalizing Learned Helplessness

To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the mind of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas. – G. Brock Chisholm, first Director-General of the World Health Organization and President of the World Federation of Mental Health, 1945

Chisholm, G. Brock. “Mental Health and World Citizenship.” Broadway, New York: Distributed by the National Association For Mental Health, Inc.. p. 7-8

‘Learned Helplessness,’ a term coined by Martin Seligman (a psychologist working with dogs in respondent conditioning), is a specific kind of depression where, after a series of unpredictable horrible events, the subject begins to feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness and the inability to come up with methods to escape such events, even if escape is possible. This explains how a 5-ton elephant can be confined by nothing more than a wispy chain—it believes it cannot escape because when young, it repeatedly tried to and failed, and because it believes it cannot escape, it doesn’t even try.

Martin Seligman developed the concept of inoculation from stress from his famous studies of learning in dogs. He put dogs in a cage that had an electric shock pass through the floor at random intervals. Initially the dogs would jump, yelp, and scratch pitifully in their attempts to escape the shocks, but after a time they would fall into a depressed, hopeless state of apathy and inactivity that Seligman termed ‘learned helplessness.’ After falling into a state of learned helplessness, the dogs would not avoid the shocks even when provided with an obvious escape route.

Grossman, Dave. On Killing. New York, London: Back Bay Books; Little, Brown and Company, 1995, p. 81

In 1992 and 1993, the Harwood Group conducted a study of students for the Kettering Foundation to help explain how young people felt about politics and their role in the process. The findings of the ‘Kettering Study,’ as it became known, could be summed up with the simple helpless phrase: “Why bother voting, it won’t do any good….” The study found that these students thought they could participate in the political process only in three general ways (voting, the signing of petitions, and protesting), none of which offered any escape from the status quo.

It is to be expected that advances in physiology and psychology will give governments much more control over individual mentality than they now have even in totalitarian countries. Fichte laid it down that education should aim at destroying free will, so that, after pupils have left school, they shall be incapable, throughout the rest of their lives, of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished… Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.

Russell, Bertrand. The Impact of Science on Society. London and New York: Routledge, 1952, p. 61-62

The Pedagogy of Surrender

In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple … we will organize children … and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

–1906 excerpt of the first mission statement of Rockefeller’s General Education Board from a document called Occasional Letter Number One

Source: Gatto, John Taylor. “Some Lessons from the Underground History of American Education.” The Odysseus Group. 2000.

This excerpt from the first mission statement of Rockefeller’s General Education Board reveals the Rockefeller agenda. Education is one hell of an effective modern method of propaganda. As the 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year and three-time winner of the New York City Teacher of the Year award John Taylor Gatto writes:

By 1917, the major administrative jobs in American schooling were under control of a group referred to in the press of that day as ‘the Education Trust.’ The first meeting of this trust included representatives of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the National Education Association. The chief end, wrote the British evolutionist Benjamin Kidd in 1918, was to ‘impose on the young the ideal of subordination.’

At first, the primary target was the tradition of independent livelihoods in America. Unless Yankee entrepreneurialism could be put to death, at least among the common population, the immense capital investments that mass production industry required for equipment weren’t conceivably justifiable. Students were to learn to think of themselves as employees competing for the favor of management. Not as Franklin or Edison had once regarded themselves, as self-determined, free agents.  

Gatto, John Taylor. “Some Lessons from the Underground History of American Education.” The Odysseus Group. 2000. p. 274

This is not an indictment of the Harriman, Rockefeller, or Carnegie families as their philanthropy has indeed yielded much good. This is more of a warning about the New WORD Order, that is the centralization of influence, of symbology, and the power of trope. It’s not a hopeless cause yet. Martin Seligman’s studies show how ‘learned helplessness’ can be evaded—solely by an awareness of the possibility of escape! Even a single instance of escape inoculated Seligman’s dogs against learned helplessness. 

Other dogs were given a means of escape after receiving some shocks but before falling into learned helplessness. These dogs learned that they could and would eventually escape from the shocks, and after only one such escape they became inoculated against learned helplessness. Even after long periods of random, inescapable shocks these inoculated dogs would escape when finally provided with a means to do so.

Grossman, Dave. On Killing. New York, London: Back Bay Books; Little, Brown and Company, 19

[1] 43, 664 according to http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/acc-inj.htm

[2] 14,542 according to http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm