Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed As Mentally Ill – by Bruce Levine

This article is a couple of years old, but I just came across it, and it’s awesome! I have heard of veterans (especially from the Iraq war) being diagnosed with ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) after returning from combat and reintegrating into society. John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute has written about this in the past.

But now we have an article from Bruce Levine about why people who challenge illegitimate authorities are often diagnosed and medicated. I found it incredibly insightful, and his credibility to speak on the topic is pretty intact. Below, find some selected quotes (and the link to full text again). Enjoy!

Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.

I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.

Albert Einstein, as a youth, would have likely received an ADHD diagnosis, and maybe an ODD one as well. Albert didn’t pay attention to his teachers, failed his college entrance examinations twice, and had difficulty holding jobs. However, Einstein biographer Ronald Clark (Einstein: The Life and Times) asserts that Albert’s problems did not stem from attention deficits but rather from his hatred of authoritarian, Prussian discipline in his schools. Einstein said, “The teachers in the elementary school appeared to me like sergeants and in the Gymnasium the teachers were like lieutenants.” At age 13, Einstein read Kant’s difficult Critique of Pure Reason—because Albert was interested in it. Clark also tells us Einstein refused to prepare himself for his college admissions as a rebellion against his father’s “unbearable” path of a “practical profession.” After he did enter college, one professor told Einstein, “You have one fault; one can’t tell you anything.” The very characteristics of Einstein that upset authorities so much were exactly the ones that allowed him to excel.

Want to read more? Find the full article here!

2 thoughts on “Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed As Mentally Ill – by Bruce Levine

  1. The irony is that with the state, it is literally the nuts running the nuthouse. In a society where the rules are based on insanity, the only proper response by the sane person is resistance.

    It is the worst form of gaslighting – projection one’s insanity onto the sane.


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