Doctor Harry Stack Sullivan – Schizophrenia

Doctor Harry Stack Sullivan, America’s Psychiatrist                   HS Sullivan portrait3x3

85% Success rate
dealing with incarcerated schizophrenics BEFORE the age of anti-psychotic drugs.


HS Sullivan – His Clinical Work
demonstrated in real-time video of
Britney Spears’ mental breakdown 
• HS Sullivan: Gay Behavior from Trauma?
– A critique of Alanson-White’s “The Gay Sullivan
– Sample chapters from “Back From the Other Side”
• HS Sullivan’s Definition of Schizophrenia
– Proper Sullivanian definition of “Neologism
The Chemical Lobotomy: Do Psychiatric Drugs Mask Psychiatric Incompetence? A booklist for reference
• The Mighty Sarlak of all psychological/psychedelic screenplays, Britney’s Dream


• I am the poster boy for the ‘dynamisms of difficulty’ Sullivan alludes to in “Clinical Studies in Psychiatry” when he explains his view of male patient(s) involved in homoerotic behavior.   See my sample chapters:

• “How’d I Get Here?”
• “How I Got Here
• “A Born-AgainTurkey is Still a Turkey”
• “The Speaker Meeting”

• • •
Up until Sullivan and the interpersonal school, psycho-dynamic theorists largely focused on the internal life of the individual and on what was going on inside of the mind of the person who sought therapeutic help. In the world of psychology/psychiatry, “drive and ego  theorists” especially addressed repressed trauma, structures of the mind, as well as the nature of the drives and the defenses. But Sullivan and his colleagues began to change the lens from “one-person psychology to two-person psychology,
making the interpersonal field and the relationship between therapist and client the unit of study and the unit of change.” (Brenner. “I955; A. Freud, 1936; S. Freud, 1925′)
Sullivanian Genius – Interpersonal Theory
“Many years ago William James made the observation that a theory often runs through three stages in its career:
First it is attacked as absurd.
Then, in its second stage, it is admitted to be true but obvious and insignificant.
And in its final stage it is considered to be so important that its adversaries claim that they discovered it themselves. I believe that Interpersonal Theory is now in its third stage.”

Patrick Mullahy, “The Contributions of Harry Stack Sullivan”

What endeared me to Dr. Sullivan was his perspective not only on the very nature of schizophrenia, but on the medical people coming to him as interns, residents or lecture attendees: This is a quote from the introduction to his great work  “Schizophrenia as a Human Process:”
“There come to me physicians seeking insight into the problems of the mind. They come to me as well trained physicians and therefore with an acquired inability to understand anything I say to them. I don’t believe that if they stayed with me from now until Gabriel blows his hornpipes that they will acquire much notion of what I am talking about – or privately give a damn. They are already educated, they have a degree of Doctor of Medicine, and they have a whole system of ideas that takes its origins from certain misunderstandings about physical chemistry — on things which they probably don’t realize are physico-chemical subjects — and they are pretty well organized.” (*Introduction to “Schizophrenia as a Human Process,” HS Sullivan pp. xviii)
Very early in his career—roughly around 1930—Sullivan had formulated what for its time was a spectacularly brilliant and relatively comprehensive psychiatric theory and, along with it, a powerful elaboration of Freud’s psychoanalytic method.
On page one and two of that work, he says:
“As we are all much more simply human
than otherwise, so psychopathology deals
chiefly with matters of common experi-
ence, but with matters, the personal sig-
nificance of which, is in each case veiled
from the person concerned in each un-
fortunate complex of social living.
It does not deal with diseases in the sense of
medical entities like scarlet fever, but
instead with processes of living that are
unusually inefficient, productive of strain
and unhappiness, and contributory to failures 
of the individual as a self-respecting unit . . .”
There exist numbers of our contemporaries
in the case of whom the maintenance of
some measure of self-respect is a never-ending
task, and one entailing great cost not only in personal
effort but also in inteferences with the comfort
and success of others. It may be said that whenever
the maintenance of self-esteem becomes
an end instead of a consequent of life, the
individual concerned is mentally sick and
a subject for psychopathological study,
finally to be understood by the same for-
mulae that we must work out for under-
standing the ‘neurotic’ and the ‘insane’.”

— Dr. Sullivan quoted in the introduction by Patrick Mullahy (Contributions of Harry Stack Sullivan)

• • •

His belief that “moments of illumination” occur at the same time of increased paranoia allowed an extremely large percentage of his schizophrenic patients to see real situations with significant others that they had  previously been ‘selectively in-attending to.’ Sullivan  achieved an 85% success rate dealing with incarcerated schizophrenics BEFORE THE AGE of psychiatric drugs.
This demands a “participant observer” in the person of the “doctor;” a far cry from the detached Freudian analyst perceiving client behavior through the lens of instinctual drives reflected in  id, ego and super-ego.
Unfortunately as well is today’s pill-pushers, all too eager to reduce their patients to the “living-dead,” who, while remaining alive become more and more incapable of any increase in their own mental health. In addition to being alive and ‘functioning,’ the addict will go to a different doctor if his prescribing one is determined to get the patient off these drugs. Addicts pay the bills, and most of these psychiatric meds come from primary-care physicians who have been assured at their own educational conferences that these drugs are safe and effective.

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