Contemporary America Is Identical To Nazi Germany In All Essentials

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      The U.S. had been moving toward a total police state since about 1913; but in 2012 the final nail in the coffin of democracy and justice was hammered into place with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. NDAA allows for the U.S. military to arrest, imprison, and torture American citizen without due process of any kind! Contemporary America has adopted the identical police state, economic-military imperialist policies and operations that Nazi Germany did–though the enactment of those policies differs to some degree. The sound of Gestapo jackboots is now heard in the land of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt.      We who live in the post-World War II period possess an immensely valuable symbol, even if we don’t understand it or use it effectively: the example of Nazi Germany.

From this example we can discern that America, beginning in 2000, has become in essence the same kind of totalitarian dictatorship as Nazi Germany was:

      Persons sometimes want to quibble about contemporary America being, in essence, identical to Nazi Germany, pointing out that there are at present no known extermination camps in the United States. By saying that America is now identical in essence to Nazi Germany, we’re acknowledging that not all features of the two societies are identical.

      The reason the international capitalist cabal does not yet find it necessary to create extermination camps for “surplus population workers” is that capitalists are murdering workers worldwide rapidly enough and in sufficient numbers for the cabal’s purposes: to maintain a sufficient “army of unemployed” to be able to pay the lowest possible wages and to maintain a sufficiently low number of persons on any kind of social safety net.

Capitalists are murdering workers through:

  • Malnutrition: Every hour of every day, 300 children die because of malnutrition
  • Military suicide
    • Army: 20.2 per 100,000 personnel commit suicide per year
    • Marines: 19 per 100,000 personnel per year
    • 30 US veterans attempt suicide every day; 18 succeed
    • More Iraq and Afghanistan US war veterans have committed suicide than were killed in battle (as reported by the US Department of Defense; however, they refuse to publish the total number of military and ex-military who have committed suicide)

  • Hunger and poverty: 34,000 children and 16,000 adults die each day from hunger or preventable diseases with poverty-related causes; a total of 8 million a year. (As reported by the United Nations)
  • Lack of health care
  • Capitalist wars:
    • 4,415 US Iraq war deaths
    • 1.3 million Iraqis murdered
    • 4,236 killed in Afghanistan
    • 15 million murdered in World War I
    • 45 million murdered in World War II

  • Murdering third world people (mostly children) through lethal vaccinations and drugs

The capitalist class believes American workers are sub-human and that as many as possible should be killed off through unemployment, homelessness, poverty, sickness, suicide, and mental impairment. The cabal is therefore:

  • Encouraging workers to commit suicide   Germans in Nazi Germany were forced to spy on and betray their fellow workers. Americans in the twenty-first century are now encouraged to spy on and betray others through new cellphone apps that make it ridiculously easy for any idiot to report to government agencies any behavior by others he believes (without any evidence) might be suspicious.

    To illustrate the identity between Nazi Germany and present-day America, we can take three examples:

    1. Leaders in both regimes seized dictatorial, criminal powers by using the pretext of responding to terrorist-led catastrophes.

Eric Holder worked/works for Goldmann Sachs

    Hitler and his Nazi underlings blamed the communists for the burning of the Reichstag on February 27, 1933. By fanning anti-communist hysteria the Nazis and Nationalists won a bare majority of Reichstag seats in the elections of March 5. After the communists had been barred, and amid the anarchy of storm trooper murder of communist and other opponents, the Reichstag voted to give Hitler total dictatorial powers.    In precisely the same manner, the capitalist cabal has blamed the 9/11 bombing of the twin towers on “terrorists.” In 2012, Erick Holder, the Attorney General with ties to Wall Street and the Big Banksters, declared that U.S. Presidents have dictatorial powers, including the power to order the assassination of American citizens, without any due process (indictment, conviction, sentencing, etc.)

  1. The Nazi regime required the shutting down of all mainstream newspapers and radio outlets and the establishment of a propaganda bureau, to make certain that all news sources supported the regime’s policy of invading foreign nations. In the twenty-first century, the predatory cabal finds that capitalist news sources (radio, TV, and Internet sites) are willing collaborators, supporting the present strategy of attacking foreign nations to bring about regime change.
ABC Proves Itself to Be a Collborator with the Capitalist Cabal in Fomenting Regime Change
Stop the video after each of the statements referred to on the right to read the comments.

3. Hitler had his collaborator-film-maker Leni Riefenstahl and the capitalist cabal has its own Hollywood collaborator: Angelina Jolie.

Jolie is one of the official propagandists for the capitalist cabal.Jolie’s aberrant psyche fits in with the capitalist cabal members she shills for.Jolie is now propagandizing for the capitalist cabal’s imperialist strategy: attack sovereign nations and force regime change on them.

      The capitalist fascist cabal doesn’t need all the trappings of Nazi Germany because it has replicated Hitler’s policies and tactics through different–though identical in essence–means.An Unknown Episode In American History     Nazi Germany was created by the criminal cabal that currently rules the United States and much of the world. One of the early underlings of this cabal was Prescott Bush, Dubya’s grandfather. Prescott Bush was a director of the Union Banking Corporation, which the U.S. government took over in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The U.S. Alien Property Custodian seized Union Banking Corporation stock shares, all of which were owned by E. Roland Harriman, Prescott Bush, three Nazi executives, and two other associates of Prescott Bush.

Prescott Bush--Dubya's grandfather      President Franklin Roosevelt’s Alien Property Custodian, Leo T. Crowley, signed Vesting Order Number 248 seizing the property of Prescott Bush under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The order, published in obscure government record books and kept out of the news, explained nothing about the Nazis involved; only that the Union Banking Corporation was run for the Thyssen family of Germany and/or Hungary, nationals of a designated enemy country

This act by the U.S. government made it clear that Prescott Bush and the other directors of the Union Banking Corporation were in essence front men for the Nazis. By keeping news of this seizure quiet, the American government avoided the more important issue: in what way were Hitler and his Nazi cohorts set up, armed, and supported by the New York and London cartel of which Prescott Bush was an executive manager?

     On Oct. 28, 1942, the U.S. government issued orders seizing two Nazi front organizations run by the Bush-Harriman bank: the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. Nazi interests in the Silesian-American Corporation, long managed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act on November 17, 1942. In this action, the government announced that it was seizing only the Nazi interests, leaving the Nazis’ U.S. partners to carry on the business.

These were actions taken by the U.S. government during wartime, but Prescott Bush and his collaborators had already played a central role in financing and arming Adolf Hitler for his takeover of Germany. Harriman, Bush and the other cabal puppets had financed the buildup of Nazi war industries for the conquest of Europe and war against the U.S. They had also helped in the development of Nazi genocide theories and racial propaganda, with the slave labor and extermination camps as the result.

criminally indicted Col. Oliver North      The cabal that controls America has moved as rapidly as possible to bring about the same conditions of dictatorship and fascism in the U.S. as it did in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The first major thrust toward fascism began during the Bush takeover of the Reagan presidency. During Bush Senior’s (second) presidency he pulled off the Iran-Contra drugs-for-weapons crime, the savings-and-loan heist, the illegal use of U.S. military force to protect Bush’s criminal collaboration with Manuel Noriega, his man in Panama, and many other crimes of state.

Beginning in 2000, the cabal forced their chosen puppet into the U.S. presidency and have now put in place a mechanism to steal all future elections in America. As they did in Germany, they have now destroyed the bedrock of democracy, the right of citizens to vote for their leaders.

“The 2000 election in the United States is a historical watershed. It marks an irrevocable break with the forms and traditions of American democracy. Phrases such as ‘crossing the Rubicon’ are appropriate in assessing the significance of the five-to-four Supreme Court ruling that handed the election to the Republican candidate, George W. Bush. Notwithstanding the attempts of the media and the political establishment–liberal no less than conservative–to pass over the events of November and December 2000 and ‘move on,’ as though nothing of great significance had occurred, America has been changed in a fundamental way, and nothing will ever be the same in the United States, or, for that matter, the world.” 1

American Citizen Complicity in the Current Fascist Dictatorship      The 2008 election, in which the con-man Obama fooled most of the U.S. public, revealed that many American citizens are as intellectually and morally debased as the Germans in the 1930s. Such incompetence and ignorance always lead to tyranny. The United States is exactly at the same point in national degradation as the German nation in the 1930s when Hitler assumed absolute power and began his regime of mass murder and war crimes against the people of the world.

We’ve been conditioned to see Germany under Hitler as an unquestionably horrible example of dictatorial tyranny and inhuman barbarity–and to see our present American culture as completely opposite to that of Nazi Germany. And we like to think that if a tyranny such as that in Germany under the Nazi regime were present and growing in America we’d unquestionably be able to see it.

So it’s a shock when we realize: most people living in Nazi Germany didn’t see the tyranny! They thought it was the best time of their lives!

Milton Mayer’s book, They Thought They Were Free, concerns Germans still living after World War II who had been members of the Nazi Party. Mayer came to know them and studied their lives and attitudes.     “As we know Nazism, it was a naked, total tyranny which degraded its adherents and enslaved its opponents and adherents alike; terrorism and terror in daily life, private and public; brute personal and mob injustice at every level of association . . .

“These nine ordinary Germans [who lived in Nazi Germany] knew it otherwise, and they still know it otherwise.

“An autocracy? [they say] Yes, of course . . . But a tyranny, as you Americans use the term? Nonsense.”

     How could Germans living under Hitler’s National Socialism not have seen what it was? How did their lack of social and personal awareness make them blind to their reality?

      How could Americans now possibly be living under a creeping dictatorship and not know it? And how could we not only not see a police state condition but actually think we’re living in complete freedom?     Because most of us don’t WANT to know what’s going on. We’ve lost the ability to think critically about political, economic, and social dangers confronting us.

If we have a job–as most people did in Nazi Germany–if the political-economic system seems stable–as it does in America–then that’s all we want to know.

     “When [modern man] is completely infantile … he does not need and does not have an understanding of the outer world. It exists for him merely as gratification or denial.”Walter Lippmann (1889-1973)

      To the Germans in Mayer’s study, each occasion of Nazi violence was worse than the last, but only a little worse. So they waited for the one shocking event, thinking that they would join with others if or when it happened. But as the violence escalated, no one rose up to condemn the concentration camps and general oppression. No one wanted to act alone, and when a mass uprising failed to occur, the common people just let events take their course. They progressively lost the ability to understand the horror of Nazism and the will to oppose it.     Similarly, we don’t see the growing fascism in America and the world because we don’t want to see it and because it happens somewhat gradually, which makes it almost imperceptible to those who don’t think critically. Everything in your society–Nazi Germany or twenty-first century America–seems so ordinary.
The Progressive Loss of Freedom in the United States

  • In 2000, the American people lost the right to elect their president when the U.S. Supreme Court commited a coup d’etat by approving the stealing of the presidency by George W. Bush–in spite of major media companies paying milions to contrive a “recount” which they falsely claim proves Bush won the electionHitler's seizure of power, 1/30/33
  • The 11/14/01 announcement that any person designated as a terrorist by the President is to be placed under the control of the Secretary of Defense and not allowed the aid of US or foreign courts–a giant-step in our march toward a total police state
  • Men, women, and children can be murdered without compunction–as at Ruby Ridge and Waco–and the person ultimately responsible for these “police-state” atrocities will be promoted to become the head of the agency guilty of these crimes.
  • Persons convicted of crimes are being appointed to critical positions in the Obama administration

      As 1930s Germans and twenty-first century Americans wait, believing things won’t get any worse–it’s finally too late. The imperceptible changes have totally transformed you and your society into a totalitarian state. Self-deception has infected almost everyone.

One of the Germans in Mayer’s study was only shocked into awareness when he heard his little boy say “Jew swine” and he suddenly realized that his whole society had degenerated into racism, leader-worship, violence, and depravity. By 1939, when Hitler had consolidated his power, most Germans citizens were incapable of recognizing their society’s corruption, so few spoke out. Even fewer opposed the totalitarian nightmare.

      By learning from the German Nazi tragedy, we can see–in twenty-first century America–that we could easily wait too long. For example, we must look at the interesting similarity of Hitler’s use of the Reichstag Fire to seize dictatorial powers and Bush’s use of the September 11 terrorist attack as his excuse to move us to a police state where the cabal can simply “declare” that a foreigner is a terrorist and that person’s rights become almost non-existent.

Without any necessity of presenting evidence, the president can now brand a non-US-citizen–OR A US CITIZEN–a “terrorist” and the suspect is brought before a secret military tribunal where the rules of evidence and prisoner rights are drastically attenuated.

Off with their heads      Hitler was able to brand anyone he considered an enemy and see that that person was summarily executed. And now, the cabal-appointed President is able to brand as “terrorist” any US citizen who disagrees with him.

The fact that ivy league university professors and other supposedly intelligent persons think the President’s seizure of such police-state powers is okay, and the civilian and military cover-up of torture in American prisons in Iraq and Cuba, proves that the fascist mentality is rampant in our society.

In the United States and the world today, we still can stop this escalating descent into total tyranny. We can learn to face up to the political, economic, and social oppression that is rampant; learn to think critically about what our leaders are doing, and join together 2 to safeguard and re-establish our freedoms. But we must not delay, we cannot simply do nothing or we’ll be plunged into the same terror that destroyed Nazi Germany.

     Pastor Niemoller, a German clergyman under the Nazi regime, later confessed that when the Nazis attacked opposing groups such as the Communists, he was a little uneasy. But, he said, after all, he was not a communist, so he did nothing. When the Nazis began to attack the Jews he was even more uneasy, but he still did nothing. Then they attacked the Church, and because he was a clergyman he tried to do something, but it was too late.

We in the modern world are in exactly the same situation as the German people in the early days of Nazi totalitarianism. Daily, staring us in the face, is the unmistakable evidence of brutality, economic oppression, fear-ridden conformity, pleasure-deadened mindlessness, ignorant know-it-allness, and unashamed hatred of the “different,” the “unpopular,” the momentary devil-enemy.

     But people totally blinded by their pursuit of pleasure or engrossed in destroying some enemy (the anti-abortionists killing their enemies, U.S. leaders killing tens of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers) don’t see the crises in the modern world.

The general intellectual incompetence of Americans at present leads directly to a blindness to our current catastrophic situation. Without the learned ability to make decisive distinctions, people cannot discriminate between, for example, “economic downturn” and depression, or between “change of leaders through free elections” and coup d’etat through monied interests buying and selling presidents and congresspersons. Our minds are so undeveloped that we lack the capacity to discriminate between the essentials and the changing, superficial forms.

“There couldn’t be a police state in the U.S.,” says Joe American, “because we don’t see men in uniforms with swastikas on their armbands goose-stepping down our streets! ”

“We can’t be losing our freedoms,” says Jane American, because I didn’t see anything about it in the New York Times and there was nothing about it on the evening news.”

We like to delude ourselves that the 1930s German citizen was some special case. 3  But Nazism didn’t arise because a few maniacs somehow got into power and did something unique to the German people’s minds. Those myths have been exploded once and for all by our more recent understanding that those same tactics have been used and are being used to enslave the minds of people in many different societies.

“‘Fascism’ is only the organized political expression of the structure of the average man’s character, a structure that is confined neither to certain races or nations nor to certain parties, but is general and international. . . ‘Fascism’ is the basic emotional attitude of the suppressed man of our authoritarian machine civilization and its mechanistic-mystical conception of life.”Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism

     So our present “enemy” is our own conditioned lack of progressive awarness, our love of ease, our unwillingness to dispel our social and moral delusions, our headlong rush into the mindless attitude that “everything is okay.”

     Even though our society faces a truly alarming situation, people find ways to ignore the peril. One way to do this is to assume that such an episode as the 1930s-1940s Nazi terror is no longer a threat. But we have a number of horrible examples of what happens TODAY to a society when its people fail to develop progressive awareness abilities, the most ghastly perhaps being that of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Ever since this indefensible horror, few Americans have had the ability to ask the critical questions:

Thus we return to the absolute necessity to learn how to think critically. And perhaps now we can begin to see why it is essential to our very existence. Progressive awareness is no longer an intellectual option for the few; it is a necessary tool for discovering what kind of people we have allowed ourselves to become.

     Through self-study and change we must find out just what in us makes it possible for a new, more sophisticated “Nazism” to now be taking control, a more insidious brand of fascism, undetected because the blatant symbols and familiar catchphrases are indiscernible to our undeveloped minds.

We either learn to use progressive awareness now, or we can passively watch while the new, disguised gas-chambers and death squads are prepared for us.

Are You a War Criminal?the Justice Trials court      You could, sometime in the future, be put on trial for FAILING to fight against the crimes against humanity that the cabal is now perpetrating! You certainly are complicit in the cabal’s destruction of constitutional freedoms if you fail to speak out against:

  • Their refusal of due process and habeaus corpus to foreign detainees in Cuba and the U.S.
  • Their allowing the CIA, the FBI, and other intelligence agencies to spy on American citizens (tapping phone lines, seizing property based on trumped-up charges, monitoring internet usage, and on and on)
  • Their deliberate, unabashed destruction of workers’ rights and welfare in acting for big-money interests (e.g. Enron, Halliburton, agribusinesses, Afghan pipeline, pharmaceutical companies) in every arena
  • Their lying about not having been informed prior to 9/11 about Arab men training in American flight schools and planning to hijack large airliners
  • Their use of their own failure to act on the warnings they had received to justify grabbing even more power, at the expense of our civil liberties, by deceiving Congress and the American people

protecting liberty from tyranny      In a democracy such as ours in America, it’s the responsibility of citizens to inform themselves and to struggle against any encroachment of constitutional liberties. If some people are too unintelligent or morally deficient to see the tyrannous acts of the Obama administration, if some people are too cowardly to stand against those acts, it’s still your individual responsibility as an American citizen to uphold the principles of democracy on which this nation is founded.

One of the most effective ways of feeling this is to view the 1961 Academy Award-winning film, “Judgment at Nuremberg,” and consider how you could, in the future, be considered as one of three classes of war criminals depicted in the film:

  • Nazi villains such as Goering (though not depicted in this movie, the Nuremberg tribunals included Goering’s trial and conviction as a war criminal)
  • Ordinary criminals such as the German judges who took advantage of the Nazi tyranny to feather their own nests
  • Germans who prided themselves on upholding the nation’s principles, such as Emil Janning, former German secretary of justice (portrayed in the movie by Burt Lancaster) and the widow of a convicted German general executed for ordering the murder of American POWs (portrayed by Marlene Dietrich). These kinds of people were shocked when they found that the world held them responsible for what had happened in Nazi Germany.

the Justice Trials court      Abby Mann’s brilliant screenplay “Judgment at Nuremberg” drives home several crucial points that we cannot afford to overlook:

  • We’re responsible for being aware of what’s going on in our society; we can’t plead ignorance. In the movie, the defense attorney argued strenuously that all those who supported or tolerated Nazis were guilty, not just those individuals then being tried.
  • We must make sure we’re aware of what kind of criminal trampling of our constitution and war crimes our government officials may be involving us in.
  • American leaders (especially the Bush family), Britain (open letter to the “Times” by Winston Churchill in 1938 praising the strength of Hitler), the Vatican (corcordat with the Nazis), and others were all complicit in creating the Nazi horror, as the defense attorney in the movie pointed out.
  • We cannot legitimately try to excuse ourselves with catch-phrases such as:
    • “My country right or wrong”
    • “I’m only following orders”
    • “We don’t make the laws, we merely carry them out”
    • “I’m only agreeing with the ideas of our leaders”
    • “If I’m critical of my country’s leaders, I’m a traitor”

     The cabal is currently, and was previously, involved in war crimes in Afghanistan and is complicit in encouraging Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people Kissinger, indicted as war criminal(just as the Arab states are encouraging Palestinian terrorists to commit war crimes in their suicide bombings).      Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says he’s too busy to answer a subpoena ordering him to appear before a Paris judge investigating crimes by the Kissinger-backed Pinochet regime in Chile.

“An official British inquiry into the war with Iraq, which opened in late December, 2009, has already heard evidence sufficient to indict top Bush administration leaders on the same charge that was the axis of the indictment of the Nazi leaders at Nurember–deliberately waging an aggressive war.” 4

     Former President Bush I and other United States leaders committed war crimes against Iraq (during and following the Gulf War) and Yugoslavia (in the invasion of Kosovo) and are still under indictment with the International War Crimes Tribunal.

It’s possible that American leaders at any level could at some time in the future be brought before an international war crimes tribunal for those criminal acts. the man who endorses tortureNone of the excuses above (the catch-phrases) would be allowed as mitigating circumstances. In the movie, the defense attorney argued in support of mitigation the fact that all German judges during the Nazi regime were forced to swear to the Civil Servant Loyalty Oath of 1934.

Obama and the other members of the current administration are trying to frighten Americans by telling us that we are traitors if we criticize their actions–or those of the capitalis cabal in general. On the contrary, they are traitors to the American practice of democracy in trying to suppress honest citizens’ thought and dissent. It’s possible the tables may be turned, as in post-World War II Germany: the leaders who forced obedience to criminal acts may be put on trial for crimes against humanity!

“Imagine if you can a world in which truth is one general and something we will call blindness is the opposing general. These two simple factors one must choose between. There are no neutrals. We are frankly for or against and hold our positions by the force of the effort we put forth. The great struggle is not only to conquer our opposing forces, but to reclaim and form them into fighters for the truth.”Stewart Edward White

     You are not so much struggling against the cabal or any other form of tyranny as you are fighting for the inalienable democratic principles which once made this nation somewhat free:

  • The individual does not receive government and authority from a deity who gives his secular sword to princes and magistrates to rule by his divine right.
  • The individual does not have a subordinate place in a divinely inspired hierarchy, in which kings, nobelmen, political leaders, and corporate executives are placed above him as ‘your highness.’
  • Government is voluntarily established by free individuals through a willful act of contract, individuals rationally consenting to limit their own freedom and to obey civil authority in order to have public protection of their natural rights.
  • Government’s purpose is to serve the interests of the people, to enable individuals to enjoy peacefully their rights to life, liberty, and property.

We’re facing a life-or-death crisis with the cabal’s attack on our constitutional rights. On May 30, 2002, using their own incompetence as an excuse, they gave the F.B.I. totalitarian state powers to spy on Americans through the passage of the unconstitutional “Patriot Act.”
     With the ObaMessiah having stolen another four years to rain terror on America and the world, we Americans must immediately wake up to the dangers facing us and begin:

     The con job of the 2008 election by the cabal was a blatant display of tyranny and reveals to all the world that the criminal thugs behind Obama are intent on destroying every vestige of democracy. Informed citizens worldwide now realize that they must unite to take back their governments and their countries. 


1 Barry Grey, “The world historical implications of the political crisis in the United States,”, Feb. 6, 2001

2 “Building a Unified Activist Citizen Taskforce”

3 Molly Harrower (1976). “Were Hitler’s Henchman Mad?”, Psychology Today, July, pp. 76-80. Also see the review by Richard L. Rubenstein in the same issue of Psychology Today of the book The Nuremberg Mind.

4 US imperialism, 9/11 and the Iraq war


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Court Rules School Can Use Electric Shock as Punishment for Retarded Children

Court Rules School Can Use Electric Shock as Punishment For Special Needs Students

By John Vibes

Bristol County, MA – Family Court Judge Katherine Field denied a motion to stop the use of electric shock on disabled students, a form of punishment that has been controversial for years after news of the practice first reached the public in 2013 when video surfaced of an 18-year-old student receiving dozens of shocks for refusing to take off his jacket.

“(The state) failed to demonstrate that there is now a professional consensus that the Level III aversive treatment used at JRC does not conform to the accepted standard of care for treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Judge Field wrote in her decision.

The facility in question is the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC), a special needs day and residential school in Canton, and it is the only school in the country that still uses electric shocks on its students. Records show that at least 58 students at the school have received shocks as of August 2017.

Despite the obvious ethical concerns with this practice, there is a cult-like support among the staff and even some parents for what they call “aversive treatment.”

A statement from the JRC Parents Group reads:

As parents whose children attend and received treatment at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) we welcome the court’s ruling and repudiation of Massachusetts government officials at the Department of Developmental Service (DDS), who acted in bad faith and impermissibly made treatment decisions for JRC Clients—our children, just as officials within the agency had done in the 1980s and 1990s.

However, the students being subjected to this abuse obviously disagree, and there are several former staff members who are now speaking out against the use of electric shock.

Whistleblower Greg Miller, who taught at the facility from 2003-2006, told that he truly believed that this barbaric therapy was saving lives.

“I believed in that place at first because I was told that it was the only place in the world that could really save these kids lives and most of them would be dead if they weren’t hooked up to the electric shock,” Miller said.

Miller said that electric shock was used on students for the smallest infractions, even something as small as standing up or speaking without permission. Eventually, he began to observe that the students were horrified of the shocks and they were rarely aggressive enough to require such a painful punishment.

“I was seeing more and more ways I could do something other than shock the students,” Miller said.

Miller ultimately quit, unable to cope with the ethical dilemma that came along with the job.

The use of shock therapy has been proven to be ineffective, and it is not used very often because other treatments work much better.

People don’t use it anymore because they don’t need to. It is not the standard of care. There are alternative procedures that do not involve aversives like electronic shock. And I am not talking about drugs as an alternative. I am talking about other behavioral treatments,” Dr. William Pelham, a behavioral specialist, and director of the Center for Children and Families at the State University of New York at Buffalo, told The New York Times.

The things that have taken place at JRC have prompted calls for the FDA to ban the use of electric shock as a punishment for students, but the FDA has ignored the issue and even had protesters arrested for attempting to raise awareness about the issue outside of their headquarters.

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John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. John just won a 3-year-long battle with cancer, and will be working to help others through his experience, if you wish to contribute to his treatments consider subscribing to his podcast to support. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

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Shitty Men list


Shitty Media Men
DISCLAIMER: This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt. If you see a man you’re friends with, don’t freak out. Men accused of physical sexual violence by multiple women are highlighted in red. **You can edit anonymously by logging out of your gmail.** Please never name an accuser, and please never share this document with a man. Please don’t remove highlights or name’

Kessler Jeremy Columbia Law Hitting women, secretly removing condom during sex

Stein Lorin Paris Review Assault, workplace harassment, nonconsentual anal, quid pro quo offers at FSG

Lorentzen Christian New Republic, NY Mag, formerly LRB, Harpers, n+1 Fired from Harpers for quid pro quo, targets very drunk women

Kloske Geoff Riverhead Books sexual harassment, groping, has bragged about luring women into the basement apartment he was living in in the past

Fish Hamilton New Republic, formerly Baffler, the Nation Assault of an employee at The Nation, workplace harassment

Hafford Michael Freelance Hitting and punching women, nonconsensually choking a woman until she lost consciousness, forced drug use, non-consensual non-condom use, inappropriate communication.

Frere-Jones Sasha Freelance, formerly LA Times, New Yorker Workplace harassment, domestic assault, creepy DMs or texts especially when drunk

Sampsell Kevin Powells, Tin House Workplace harassment

Doyle Sean H Freelance Unsolicited dick pics

Henwood Doug Nation, Verso, his own podcast/newsletter Harrassment

Wiesltier Leon Formerly New Republic Workplace harassment

Elliot Stephen Freelance writer/novelist Rape accusations, sexual harrassment, coercion, unsolicited invitations to his apartment, a dude who snuck into Binders???

Morgan Cal Riverhead Books those weird lunch “dates” that aren’t about work, sexual harassment

Javier Cardenas Mauro Novelist Rape accusations, sexual harrassment, attempts to harrass/intimidate woman into recanting accusations

Cassem Kevin Wendy’s Subway, McNally Jackson Rape attempt. Had to physically fight him off.

Sullivan Matt Bleacher Report (formerly Guardian US) sexual assault

Summers John formerly The Baffler Inappropriate communication (in person and digital), Workplace harrassment

McCormack Noah The Baffler, Tin House, formerly (?) The New Republic Inappropriate communication, harassment

Eprile Tony Novelist Sleeping with students, inappropriate communication, harassment

Rensin Emmet RAPE, sexual assault, retribution against writers, inappropriate communication with female writers under guise of “editing”

Berney Jesse The Trump Scorecard, freelance including Rolling Stone and Cosmo Unsolicited dick pics

Myers Rupert British GQ inappropriate physical contact/communication, harassment, married, reaches out in professional context and turns very creepy

Rios Tomas Formerly Vocativ, Vice Sports unconsensual sex acts, physical intimidation with weapon, inappropriate physical/digital contact with young writers he reaches out to for “mentorship”

Chinski Eric FSG weird lunch “dates”

Sayers Ellis Thomas Poet Rape

Tunison Mike freelance, former Kissing Suzy Kolber (writes under xmasape) stalking, harassment, physical intimidation

Carney John CNBC, WSJ, Breitbart Inappropriate communication, harassment, inappropriate digital contact, sexual assault, followed someone into a bathroom and tried to masturbate in front of them

Boutin Paul former Valleywag, Wired Inappropriate conversation, unsolicited invitations to sex parties

Whitney Joel founder of Guernica, cultural programmer at Brooklyn Public Library Invited himself into private apartment, refused to leave when asked, climbed into bed with victim and forced “cuddling”, leering

Lin Tao novelist abuse

Lotto Mark Medium, Matter, formerly Village Voice multiple employee affairs, inappropriate conversation, in general a huge disgusting sleazeball

Fleishman Glenn tech journalist + editor (Fast Company) leading with open marriage in unsolicited emails/self-introduction to young women writers

Champion Ed blog, Bat Segundo show, freelance harrassment, verbal abuse, emotional manipulation. shit is going ON wih this guy

Soni Jimmy Huffington Post, Politico NY sexual harassment

Howard Greg Deadspin, New York Times sexual assault and harassment, inappropriate conversation, groping, not taking no for an answer

De Silva Mark Harpers, Paris Review, Aeon, NYT sexual harassment, domestic abuse

Dempsey Luke S&S, HarperCollins Sexual harassment, workplace harassment, inappropriate communication, verbal intimidation

Erickson Nate GQ/Esquire Sexual assault

Biddle Sam Gawker, The Intercept Inappropriate communication, harassment, inappropriate digital contact, sexual assault, followed someone into a bathroom and tried to masturbate in front of them

Shieber Jonathan TechCrunch Uses networking as dates – led to very inappropriate advances on his part, and coercion to keep the evening going

Carrasquillo Adrian BuzzFeed Sexual harassment, workplace harassment, inappropriate communication

Browne Rembert formerly Grantland, NY Mag, freelance for B/R Coercion, showed up uninvited to private apartment, refused to leave when asked, undressed entirely, and forced cuddling/groping; multiple affairs

Craggs Tommy Gawker, Deadspin, Huffington Post sexual harassment

Daulerio A.J. formerly Gawker, Ratter, Deadspin Sexual harassment, inappropriate conversation, verbal abuse in/out of workplace, emotional abuse, groping on business trips, intimidation, multiple affairs w employees

Mims Christopher Wall Street Journal, formerly Quartz Physically and emotionally abusive to partners

Green Michael Penguin Young Readers/Philomel inappropriate conversation (digital and in-person), inappropriate comments about appearance

Quinn Sean 538, now a freelancer Inappropriate overtly sexual emails (unsolicited), revenge porn, harassment, stalking

Meyer Philip Novelist Sexual assault at a party, repeated inappropriate overtures to employees at his publisher

Lund Jeb Formerly Guardian, formerly Rolling Stone Verbal intimidation of female colleagues, creepy DMs, encourages other men to have sex with blacked out women because “that’s what they’re there for”

Reisman Abe NY Magazine gave a woman a black eye, dm harasser, emotionally abusive, loses his shit at women in a public fashion

Lizza Ryan New Yorker Creepy af in the DM’s

Powell Austin DailyDot Flirting, sexual harassment

Marzorati Gerry formerly NYT leering, inappropriate comments to young staffers

Grant Peter WSJ Handsy (at the *very* least) with women at parties

Herrera Tim NYT Groping

Cohen Steve Macmillan Sexual harrassment, innapropriate comments and pranks (especially to young women)

Corn David Mother Jones Sexual harassment

Dreyfuss Ben Mother Jones Harassment, abusive language, threatening to ruin the careers/reputations of younger women

Bernstein Joe BuzzFeed Inappropriate conversation/comments to young staffers and interns, inappropriate workplace relationships, kept a running tally of women in the office he’d slept with

Jones Saeed BuzzFeed Not sexual but intimidation of fellows, tokenization, violent language, bullying of employees, threatening to ruin careers of younger and less powerful employees especially women of color

Frank Ze BuzzFeed Not sexual to the best of my knowledge but violent language, bullying, verbal/emotional abuse, idea theft especially of women

Raymer Miles Freelance, Pitchfork, Esquire, Qq, Chicago Reader Entices with open marriage, harassment for nude pics and sex, assumes perpetual sexual availability after a hookup, drugged a woman and attempted to rape her

Goldman Henry formerly BuzzFeed Told a direct report who came to him to report sexual harrasment (by Alec Bostwick) to laugh it off and toughen up, protected a sexual harasser.

Bostwick Alec formerly BuzzFeed Groped coworker, fired (see above)

Witty Patrick National Geographic, WIRED Banned from an industry conference due to on going harrasment of women attending conference for multiple years

Grabar Henry Slate multiple alleged rapes as an undergraduate at Yale University

Henderson Smith Novelist Inappropriate comments, sexual harassment, targets younger women

Beckett Stefan CBS, formerly Mic, NYMag serial’ sexual harassment of co-workers, allegedly why he left Mic

Jones Daniel Freelance, Cracked, Electronic Beats sexual assault, creepy DMs, leading on multiple women online

Perpetua Matt BuzzFeed ostracized a coworker he met on dating app a year prior because she rejected him, roped other people into ostracizing her, takes credit for ideas of women of color, dumps managerial/editorial responsibilities on women who are his direct reports, throws violent temper tantrums in the office

Davis Levi formerly Euromoney Institutional Investor harassed multiple co-workers for years, driving out at least four women. sent hundreds of unsolicted texts/emails that were emotionally manipulative. anger management issues too.

Thurston Baratunde formerly Daily Show groped woman at a party

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Women and Hyteria in the Histoty of Males Mental Healths

Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health


Hysteria is undoubtedly the first mental disorder attributable to women, accurately described in the second millennium BC, and until Freud considered an exclusively female disease. Over 4000 years of history, this disease was considered from two perspectives: scientific and demonological. It was cured with herbs, sex or sexual abstinence, punished and purified with fire for its association with sorcery and finally, clinically studied as a disease and treated with innovative therapies. However, even at the end of 19th century, scientific innovation had still not reached some places, where the only known therapies were those proposed by Galen. During the 20th century several studies postulated the decline of hysteria amongst occidental patients (both women and men) and the escalating of this disorder in non-Western countries. The concept of hysterical neurosis is deleted with the 1980 DSM-III. The evolution of these diseases seems to be a factor linked with social “westernization”, and examining under what conditions the symptoms first became common in different societies became a priority for recent studies over risk factor.

Keywords: History, Hysteria, Mental Health, Psychiatry, West, Woman.


We intend to historically identify the two dominant approaches towards mental disorders, the “magic-demonological” and “scientific” views in relation to women: not only is a woman vulnerable to mental disorders, she is weak and easily influenced (by the “supernatural” or by organic degeneration), and she is somehow “guilty” (of sinning or not procreating). Thus mental disorder, especially in women, so often misunderstood and misinterpreted, generates scientific and / or moral bias, defined as a pseudo-scientific prejudice [1].

19-20th centuries’ studies gradually demonstrate that hysteria is not an exclusively female disease allowing a stricter scientific view to finally prevail. 20th century’s studies have also drawn on the importance of transcultural psychiatry, in order to understand the role of environmental factors in the emotive evolution and behavioral phenomenology and in modifying the psychopathology, producing the hypotheses of a modification to hysteria from the increase of mood disorders.

1. Ancient Egypt

The first mental disorder attributable to women, and for which we find an accurate description since the second millennium BC, is undoubtedly hysteria.

The first description referring to the ancient Egyptians dates to 1900 BC (Kahun Papyrus) and identifies the cause of hysterical disorders in spontaneous uterus movement within the female body [2, 3].

In the Eber Papyrus (1600 BC) the oldest medical document containing references to depressive syndromes, traditional symptoms of hysteria were described as tonic- clonic seizures and the sense of suffocation and imminent death (Freud’s globus istericus). We also find indications of the therapeutic measures to be taken depending on the position of the uterus, which must be forced to return to its natural position. If the uterus had moved upwards, this could be done by placing malodorous and acrid substances near the woman’s mouth and nostrils, while scented ones were placed near her vagina; on the contrary, if the uterus had lowered, the document recommends placing the acrid substances near her vagina and the perfumed ones near her mouth and nostrils [2, 3].

2. The Greek world

According to Greek mythology, the experience of hysteria was at the base of the birth of psychiatry.

The Argonaut Melampus, a physician, is considered its founder: he placated the revolt of Argo’s virgins who refused to honor the phallus and fled to the mountains, their behavior being taken for madness. Melampus cured these women with hellebore and then urged them to join carnally with young and strong men. They were healed and recovered their wits. Melampus spoke of the women’s madness as derived from their uterus being poisoned by venomous humors, due to a lack of orgasms and “uterine melancholy” [24].

Thus arose the idea of a female madness related to the lack of a normal sexual life: Plato, in Timaeus, argues that the uterus is sad and unfortunate when it does not join with the male and does not give rise to a new birth, and Aristotle and Hippocrates were of the same opinion [24].

The Euripidy’s myth says that a collective way of curing (or, if we prefer, preventing) melancholy of the uterus is represented by the Dionysian experience of the Maenads, who reached catharsis through wine and orgies [5]. Women suffering from hysteria could be released from the anxiety that characterizes this condition by participating in the Maenad experience. Trance status guided and cured by the Satyr, the priest of Dionysus, contributed to solving the conflict related to sexuality, typical of hysteria disease [6].

Hippocrates (5th century BC) is the first to use the term hysteria. Indeed he also believes that the cause of this disease lies in the movement of the uterus (“hysteron”) [24].

The Greek physician provides a good description of hysteria, which is clearly distinguished from epilepsy. He emphasizes the difference between the compulsive movements of epilepsy, caused by a disorder of the brain, and those of hysteria due to the abnormal movements of the uterus in the body. Then, he resumes the idea of a restless and migratory uterus and identifies the cause of the indisposition as poisonous stagnant humors which, due to an inadequate sexual life, have never been expelled. He asserts that a woman’s body is physiologically cold and wet and hence prone to putrefaction of the humors (as opposed to the dry and warm male body). For this reason, the uterus is prone to get sick, especially if it is deprived of the benefits arising from sex and procreation, which, widening a woman’s canals, promote the cleansing of the body. And he goes further; especially in virgins, widows, single, or sterile women, this “bad” uterus – since it is not satisfied – not only produces toxic fumes but also takes to wandering around the body, causing various kinds of disorders such as anxiety, sense of suffocation, tremors, sometimes even convulsions and paralysis. For this reason, he suggests that even widows and unmarried women should get married and live a satisfactory sexual life within the bounds of marriage [24].

However, when the disease is recognized, affected women are advised not only to partake in sexual activity, but also to cure themselves with acrid or fragrant fumigation of the face and genitals, to push the uterus back to its natural place inside the body [24].

3. Rome

Aulus Cornelius Celsus (1st century BC) gives a good and accurate clinical description of hysterical symptoms. In De re medica Celsus, he wrote “In females, a violent disease also arises in the womb; and, next to the stomach, this part is most sympathetically affected or most sympathetically affects the rest of the system [7]. Sometimes also, it so completely destroys the senses that on occasions the patient falls, as if in epilepsy. This case, however, differs in that the eyes are not turned, nor does froth issue forth, nor are there any convulsions: there is only a deep sleep”.

Claudius Galen’s theories on hysteria (2nd century AD) are comparable to those of Hippocrates. Furthermore Galen says of hysteria “Passio hysterica unum nomen est, varia tamen et innumera accidentia sub se comprehendit” (hysterical passion is the name, but various and several are its symptoms), highlighting the variety of hysterical events [7]. In his work In Hippocratis librum de humoribus, Galen criticizes Hippocrates: “Ancient physicians and philosophers have called this disease hysteria from the name of the uterus, that organ given by nature to women so that they might conceive [7]. I have examined many hysterical women, some stuporous, others with anxiety attacks […]: the disease manifests itself with different symptoms, but always refers to the uterus”. Galen’s treatments for hysteria consisted in purges, administrations of hellebore, mint, laudanum, belladonna extract, valerian and other herbs, and also getting married or repressing stimuli that could excite a young woman [2, 3, 7].

Hysterical cures are only revolutionized by Soranus (a Greek physician from the 1st half of 2nd century AD, practicing in Alexandria and Rome), who wrote a treatise on women’s diseases and who is considered the founder of scientific gynecology and obstetrics : women’ disorders arise from the toils of procreation, their recovery is encouraged by sexual abstinence and perpetual virginity is women’ ideal condition. Fumigations, cataplasms and compressions are ineffectual, the hysterical body should be treated with care: hot baths, massages, exercise are the best prevention of such women’ diseases [2, 3, 7].

4. Middle Ages

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Greek-Roman medical culture had its new epicenter in Byzantium, where physicians inherited Galen’s science without making any significant innovations (the most famous was Paul of Aegina, 625-690 AD). Sometime before, Bishop Nestorius (381-451 approx.), who took refuge in the Middle East in an area between today’s Iraq and Egypt, had brought with him his knowledge of classical science, contributing to the spread of Greek-Roman medicine in these areas.

The political events of the early Middle Ages caused a rupture between Christian Europe, with its auctoritas culture – in the hands of just a few scholars – and the Middle East of the Caliphs, where thanks to a climate of tolerance and cultural ferment, the texts of Hippocrates and Galen were translated and commented on in Arabic, becoming widespread and well-known [3].

In this context, two great scientists carry out their work : the Persian Avicenna (980-1037) [8, 9] and the Andalusian Jew Maimonides (1135-1204) [10]. Thanks to them, the legacy of Hippocrates and Galen is not only maintained, but spreads throughout Europe: the Reconquista of Spain (718-1492) and new contacts with the Near East bring important cultural exchanges, Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine and Galen’s Corpus are diffused along with the Latin translations ascribed to Gerard of Cremona (1114-1187), while Maimonides’ texts are disseminated in the Jewish world, along with other basic medical texts, thanks to translations by the Ibn Tibbon family (13-14th centuries). In particular, the medical schools of Salerno and Montpellier were vehiclesfor the dissemination of these works [11].

This was how Hippocratic concepts of melancholia and hysteria spread in late-medieval Europe, and in informed circles these diseases were treated according to what we shall call the “scientific” vision. In particular, this advocated the use of melissa as a natural remedy nerve comforter (melissa was considered excellent even in cases of insomnia, epilepsy, melancholy, fainting fits, etc.) [3, 12].

Besides the natural remedies, a sort of “psychotherapy” developed, practiced not only by Avicenna, but also for example by Arnaldus of Villa Nova (1240-1311). The latter, considered medieval Europe’s greatest physician, will be counted along with Galen and Avicenna in the inventories of physicians’ libraries throughout the Modern era [13].

It is also interesting to note that in the many treatises diffused at the time (Constantine the African’s Viaticum and Pantegni, but also the Canon of Avicenna and Arnaldus of Villa Nova’s texts) women were often not described as “patients” to be cured but rather as the “cause ” of a particular human disease, defined as amor heroycus or the madness of love, unfulfilled sexual desire [8].

But we cannot talk about women’ health in the Middle Ages without citing Trotula de Ruggiero from Salerno (11th century). While as a woman she could never become a magister, Trotula is considered the first female doctor in Christian Europe: she belonged to the ranks of famous women active in the Salerno School but discredited, among others, by Arnaldus of Villa Nova [14].

Called sanatrix Salernitana, Trotula was an expert in women’ diseases and disorders. Recognizing women as being more vulnerable than men, she explained how the suffering related to gynecological diseases was “intimate”: women often, out of shame, do not reveal their troubles to the doctor. Her best known work, De passionibus mulierum ante, in et post partum, deals female problems, including hysteria. Faithful to the teachings of Hippocrates, Trotula was devoted to the study of women’ diseases, of which she tried to capture the secrets, without being influenced by the prejudices and morals of her time, also giving advice on how to placate sexual desire: in her work abstinence is seen as a cause of illness and she recommends sedative remedies like musk oil or mint [15].

Trotula works at a time when women are still considered inferior to men because of their physiological and anatomical differences. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), German abbess and mystic, was another female doctor. Her work is very important for the attempt to reconciliate science with faith, that happens at the expense of science. Hildegard resumes the “humoral theory” of Hippocrates and attributes the origin of black bile to the original sin [16]. In her view, melancholy is a defect of the soul originated from Evil and the doctor must accept the incurability of this disease. Her descriptions are very interesting. Melancholic men are ugly and perverse, women slender and minute, unable to fix a thought, infertile because of a weak and fragile uterus [16]. In the ideology of Hildegard, Adam and Eve share responsibility with respect to original sin, and man and woman – sexually complementary – are equal in front of God and the cosmos [17].

The mainstream view of the time is one in which the woman is a physically and theologically inferior being, an idea that has its roots in the Aristotelian concept of male superiority: St. Thomas Aquinas’ (1225-1274) Summa Theologica Aristotle’s assertions that “the woman is a failed man” [18]. The inferiority of women is considered a consequence of sin, and the solutions offered by St. Thomas’ reflection leave no doubt about what will overturn the relationship between women and Christianity: the concept of “defective creature” is just the beginning. In question 117, article 3, addressing the possibility that the human soul can change the substance, St. Thomas says that “some old women” are evil-minded; they gaze on children in a poisonous and evil way, and demons, with whom the witches enter into agreements, interacting through their eyes [18]. The idea of a woman-witch, which we shall call the “demonological vision”, almost becomes insuperable: preachers disclose the Old Testament’s condemnation of wizards and necromancers and the fear of witches spreads in the collective imagination of the European population. The ecclesiastical authorities try to impose celibacy and chastity on the clergy, and St. Thomas’ theological descriptions regarding woman’s inferiority are, perhaps, the start of a misogynistic crusade in the late Middle Ages.

From the thirteenth century onwards, the struggle with heresy assumes a political connotation: the Church aims tat unifying Europe under its banner, so breviaries become manuals of the Inquisition and many manifestations of mental illness are seen as obscene bonds between women and the Devil. “Hysterical” women are subjected to exorcism: the cause of their problem is found in a demonic presence. If in early Christianity, exorcism was considered a cure but not a punishment, in the late Middle Ages it becomes a punishment and hysteria is confused with sorcery [19, 20].

Political and religious status quo in Europe is threatened by the first humanist ideas and the Church responds by intensifying inquisitions: the apogee is reached in 1484 with the Summis desiderantes affectibus, Innocent VIII’s Bull, which confirms the witch hunt and an obligation to “punish, imprison and correct” heretics [21, 22]. The German Dominicans Heinrich “Institor” Kramer and Jacob Sprenger are accredited with the publication of the famous Hammer of Witches, the Malleus Meleficarum (1486) [21, 22]. Although not an official Church manual, it takes on an official tone due to the inclusion of the papal Bull within the text. It is interesting to note that the title itself includes signs of misogyny: “Maleficarum” as witches, not “Maleficorum” as wizards… as if to say “evil is female/ evil origins from women”!

The devil is everywhere in these pages: he makes men sterile, kills children, causes famine and pestilence and all this with the help of witches. The compilers of the manual are familiar with the medicine of the age, and they investigate the relationship between sorcery and human temperaments: their descriptions rival those contained in the best psychopathology manuals [21, 22]. The text is divided into three parts and aims at proving the existence of demons and witches (warning the reader that anyone not convinced is also a victim of the Devil) explaining how to find and punish sorcery.

But what has this to do with women’s health? It is quite simple: if a physician cannot identify the cause of a disease, it means that it is procured by the Devil. The inquisitor finds sin in mental illness because, he says, the devil is a great expert of human nature and may interfere more effectively with a person susceptible to melancholy or hysteria. Hysteria is considered a woman’s disease, and who more than women are prone to melancholy? This disease is the basis of female delirium: the woman feels persecuted and the devil himself is the cause of this “mal de vivre”, which deprives the women of confession and forgiveness, leading them to commit suicide.

Obviously, the women most affected are elderly and single, in most cases they have already been in mourning or victims of violence. Sorcery becomes the scapegoat for every calamity and etymological explanations are also provided: for Sprenger and Krämer, the Latin word foemina is formed from fe and minus, that is “who has less faith”. This text is the worst condemnation of depressive illness and women to be found throughout the course of Western history: until the eighteenth century, thousands of innocent women were put to death on the basis of “evidence” or “confessions” obtained through torture [21, 22].

5. Renaissance

At the end of the Middleage, journeys along the coasts of the Mediterrinean sea contributed to a quick diffusion of Greek Classics, preserved and disseminated by the Arabians.

The humanistic movement (born with Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch) emphasized a respect for the writings of the Antiquity. During these centuries, a new realistic approach to man as a person was born, which opposed the scholastics and introduced a fresh point of view about nature and man [19].

Italian philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) espoused the principle that each man is free to determinate his own fate, a concept that perhaps more than any other has influenced the developments of the last three centuries: only man is capable of realizing his ideal and this condition can, however, be achieved only through education [23]. Pico’s thesis was implemented by the Spanish educator Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540). His pragmatic orientation produced occasional flashes of insight; for instance, he thought that emotional experience rather than abstract reason detained the primary role in a man’s mental processes: in order to educate a person it is necessary to understand the complex functioning of his mind [19].

Up to this time the medical vision of hysteria, inherited from the Hippocratic-Galenic tradition, continues to dominate [24]. At the end of the 16th century, in European countries affected by the Counter-Reformation, the theological vision tends to overwhelm the medical community. During this period the most intense activity of the Roman Inquisition, in which magic has replaced the fight against heresy, is recorded. Thus in these states, a new generation of physicians emerges, which is destined to be subordinated to inquisitors [24]. It is precisely the physician and theologian Giovan Battista Codronchi (1547-1628) who, by criticizing the medical therapy of the time aimed at treating hysteria, give us a detailed description of them.

Codronchi said that midwives, recalling Galenus’ and Avicenna’s theachings, took care of the hysterical women introducing the fingers in their genital organs in order to stimulate orgasm and semen production [24]. The physician prohibited this treatment at all, an attitude due to the concern typical of that historical phase related to sex and sexual repression. The treatment for him must be practices by the spiritual guides [24]. And if Codronchi is also a proud supporter of the existence of demons, in favour of which he argued by referring to biblical and philosophical sources, the Italian Renaissance had already tried to condemn witch hunts and to give a “scientific” explanation of mental illness: among others, Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576) and Giovanni Battista Della Porta (1535-1615) were interested in sorcery and marginality, but did not see a demonic cause in them. They identified the origin of certain behaviors in fumes, in polluted water and in the suggestion (for Cardano) or in the acquisition of certain substances that induce “visions” and “pictures” (according to Della Porta) but both base most of their considerations on physiognomy [25]. Another important physician, the Dutch Johann Weyer (1515- 1588) intended to prove that witches were mentally ill and had to be treated by physicians rather than interrogated by ecclesiastics [19]. In 1550 he became the private physician of the Duke William of Cleves, who was a chronic depressive. The Duke observed that witches manifesedt many of the same symptoms as his relatives became insane. So, he sympathizes with Weyer’s theory that these women are really suffering from mental illness, but he cannot keep the witch hunter under control because of his transient psychotic episodes cause by an apopletic stroke [19]. In 1563, Weyer publishes De prestigiis Daemonum, which is a step-by-step rebuttal of the Malleus Maleficarum. He’s been called by his contemporaries “hereticus” or “insanus”, but his pages reveal that he’s not rebellious but that he’s a religious man [19].

However, for the doctors of that time, the uterus is still the organ that allows to explain vulnerable physiology and psychology of women: the concept of inferiority towards men is still not outdated.

Hysteria still remains the “symbol” of femininity [26].

6. Modern Age

The 16th century is a period of important medical developments, as proved by the writings of Andreas Vesalius (De humani corporis fabrica, 1543) and French surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-1590).

These authors’ findings are the basis of the birth of modern medical science [24], combined with the “philosophical revolution”, in which René Descartes (1596-1650) explains how the actions attributed to the soul are actually linked with the organs of the body, and also combined with the studies on the anatomy of the brain by physician Thomas Willis (1621-1675). Willis introduces a new etiology of hysteria, no longer attached to the central role of the uterus but rather related to the brain and to the nervous system [24]. In 1680, another English physician, Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689), published a treatise on hysteria (Epistolary Dissertation on the Hysterical Affections) which refers back to natural history through describing an enormous range of manifestations and recognizing for the first time the fact that hysterical symptoms may simulate almost all forms of organic diseases [19]. However, the author fluctuates between a somatic and a psychological explanation [27]. Sydenham demonstrates that the uterus is not the primary cause of the disease, which he compares to hypochondria: his work is revolutionary as it opposes the prejudices, but it will take several decades for the theory of “uterine fury” to be dismissed [26].

The scientific development does not mark a dramatic shift from a demonological vision of medicine, but progresses hand in hand with evolution of theories on exorcism. The written records tell us of several outbreaks of hysteria, the most famous of which is undoubtedly the one occurred in the village of Salem (Massachusetts) in 1692. The texts recall an episode in which a slave originally from Barbados talks about the prediction of fate and some girls creat a circle of initiation. This latter was formed by women yunger then twenty years of age and unmarried.The action of creating a circle of initiation was in itself an open violation of the precepts of the Puritans.

There is no record of the first stages of the disease: the girls result “possessed” since February 1692. The symptoms described were staring and barred eyes, raucous noises and muffled, uncontrolled jumps, sudden movements etc. The local doctor, William Griggs, referred the problem to the priest. The slave and two other women were summoned, and the former admitted witchcraft and pacts with the devil. Gradually they began to accuse each other. Eventually, 19 were hanged as “witches”, and over 100 were kept in detention. Only when the girls accused the wife of the Colonial Governor of being part of this circle herself, the latter forbade further arrests and trials for witchcraft [27]. Marion Starkey, at the end of World War II, reports the case comparing it with more contemporary events [27]. Her explanation of classical hysteria is that the illness manifested itself in young women repressed by Puritanism, and was aggravated by the intervention of Puritan pastors, this leading to dramatic consequences. The incident proves thus that hysteria could be seen as a consequence of social conflicts [27].

Social conflicts do not occur exclusively in closed societies, such as small communities such as puritanical circles, but they also occur in more open and dynamic societies asbig cities. In 1748 Joseph Raulin published a work in which he defines hysteria as an affection vaporeuse and describes it as a disease caused by foul air of big cities and unruly social life. In theory, the disorder can affect both sexes, but women are more at risk for their being lazy and irritable [26].

Between the 17th and 18th centuries a trend of thought that delegated to the woman a social mission started developing. If from a moral point of view she finds redemption in maternal sacrifice that redeems the soul but it does not rehabilitate the body, from the social point of view, the woman takes a specific role. In 1775 the physician-philosopher Pierre Roussel published the treatise “Systeme physique et moral de la femme” greatly influenced by the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Femininity is for both authors an essential nature, with defined functions, and the disease is explained by the non-fulfillment of natural desire. The excesses of civilization causes disruption in the woman as well as moral and physiological imbalance, the identified by doctors in hysteria [26]. The afflictions, diseases and depravity of women result from the breaking away from the normal natural functions. Following natural determinism, doctors confine the woman within the boundaries of a specific role: she is a mother and guardian of virtue [26]. In this context, the woman-witch appears more and more an artifice to secure the social order of ancien régime.

The Enlightenment is a time of growing rebellion against misogyny and sorcery becomes a matter for psychiatrists: in the Encyclopédie we read that sorcery is a ridiculous activity, stupidly attributed to the invocation of demons. And further: mental illness starts to to be framed within the “scientific view” and hysteria is indeed described in the Encyclopédie as one of the most complicated diseases, originally identified by ancient scientists as a problem related to the uterus. Even more interesting is the fact that the causes and symptoms of hysteria and melancholy are linked to the humor theory. Fortunately, the “demonological vision” of women’s mental illness did not prevent previous medical theories from being maintained [28].

The last “witch” was sentenced to death in Switzerland in 1782, 10 years after the publication of the latest volumes of the Encyclopédie. Her name was Anna Göldi, and her memory was rehabilitated only in 2008 [29].

In the 18th century, hysteria starts being gradually associated with the brain rather than the uterus, a trend which opens the way to neurological etiology: if it is connected to the brain, then perhaps hysteria is not a female disease and can affect both sexes. But this is not such a simple shift as it may seem.

The German physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) found in suggestion a method of treatment for his patients suffering from hysteria, practicing both group and individual treatments. He identified in the body a fluid called “animal magnetism” and his method soon became famous as “mesmerism”. Indeed, it was thought that the magnetic action of the hands on diseased parts of the body could treat the patient, interacting with the fluid within the body. Only later we realized that this was a mere suggestion. Mesmerism had subsequent developments in the study of hypnosis [30].

The French physician Philippe Pinel (1745-1826) assuming that kindness and sensitivity towards the patient are essential for good care, frees the patients detained in Paris’ Salpêtrière sanatorium from their chains. Pinel’s theory derives from ideas linked to the French Revolution: “mad” is not substantially different from “healthy”, the balance is broken by the illness and treatment must retrieve this balance. Nonethelsess, Pinel too considered hysteria a female disorder [19, 31]. Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893) the French father of neurology, pushed for a systematic study of mental illnesses. In particular, he studied the effectiveness of hypnosis in hysteria, which, from 1870 onwards, is distinguished from other diseases of the spirit. Charcot argues that hysteria derives from a hereditary degeneration of the nervous system, namely a neurological disorder .By drawing graphs of the paroxysm, he eventually shows that this disease is in fact more common amongst men than women [3236].

During the Victorian Age (1837-1901) most women carried a bottle of smelling salts in their handbag: they were inclined to swoon when their emotions were aroused, and it was believed, that, as postulated by Hipocrates, the wandering womb disliked the pungent odor and would return to its place, allowing the woman to recover her consciousness [34]. This is a very important point, as it shows how Hippocrates’ theories remained a point of reference for centuries.

7. Contemporary Age

French neuropsychiatrist Pierre Janet (1859-1947), with the sponsorship of J. M. Charcot, opened a laboratory in Paris’ Salpêtrière. He convinced doctors that hypnosis — based on suggestion and dissociation — was a very powerful model for investigation and therapy. He wrote that hysteria is “the result of the very idea the patient has of his accident”: the patient’s own idea of pathology is translated into a physical disability [35]. Hysteria is a pathology in which dissociation appears autonomously for neurotic reasons, and in such a way as to adversely disturb the individual’s everyday life. Janet studied five hysteria’s symptoms: anaesthesia, amnesia, abulia, motor control diseases and modification of character. The reason of hysteria is in the idée fixe, that is the subconscient or subconscious. For what concerns eroticism, Janet noted that “the hysterical are, in general, not any more erotic than normal person”. Janet’s studies are very important for the early theories of Freud, Breuer and Carl Jung (1875-1961) [35, 36].

The father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud (1865-1939) provides a contribution that leads to the psychological theory of hysteria and the assertion of a “male hysteria”. Freud himself wrote in 1897: “After a period of good humor, I now have a crisis of unhappiness. The chief patient I am worried about today is myself. My little hysteria, which was much enhanced by work, took a step forward” [37]. In 1889 he published his Studies on Hysteria with Joseph Breuer (1842-1925). The key-concepts of his psychoanalytical theory (the influence of childhood sexual fantasies and the different ways of thinking of the unconscious mind) have not yet been formulated, but they are already implicit in this text. Among the cases presented, we find the hysteria of the young Katherina, who suffers from globus hystericus. The text does not refer to the famous Oedipus complex, which emerges through the study of male hysteria, developed after this treatise [3638].

We now reach a crucial point: until Freud it was believed that hysteria was the consequence of the lack of conception and motherhood. Freud reverses the paradigm: hysteria is a disorder caused by a lack of libidinal evolution (setting the stage of the Oedipal conflict) and the failure of conception is the result not the cause of the deasease [3638]. This means that a hysterical person is unable to live a mature relationship. Furthermore, another important point under a historical point of view is that Freud emphasizes the concept of “secondary advantage”. According to psychoanalysis the hysterical symptom is the expression of the impossibility of the fulfillment of the sexual drive because of reminiscence of the Oedipal conflict [3638]. The symptom is thus a “primary benefit” and allows the “discharge” of the urge – libidinal energy linked to sexual desire. It also has the “side benefit” of allowing the patient to manipulate the environment to serve his/her needs. However, it is a disease of women: it is a vision of illness linked to the mode (historically determined) to conceive the role of women. The woman has no power but “handling”, trying to use the other in subtle ways to achieve hidden objectives. It is still an evolution of the concept of “possessed” woman [37, 38].

During 19th Century, description of hysteria as a variety of bodily symptoms experiencedby a single patient is labeled Briquet’s syndrome. In 20th Century several studies are based on a particular presentation of hysteria’s symptoms: a loss or disturbance of function which does not conform to what is known about the anatomy and physiology of the body, as loss of speech but not of singing. Psychiatrists note that any function of the body can be affected by hysteria [34].

An analysis of the framing of these diagnoses in British medical discourse c. 1910-1914 demonstrates that hysteria and neurasthenia, although undergoing redefinition in these years, were closely connected through the designation of both as hereditary functional diseases. Before the war these diagnoses were perceived as indicators of national decline. Continuity, as well as change, is evident in medical responses to shell-shock [38].

The identification of hysterical fit, according to Pierre Janet’s theories, was for a long time considered impossible: an example of this diagnostic dilemma is provided by the Royal Free Disease, an epidemic of neurological, psychiatric and other miscellaneous symptoms which swept through the staff of the Royal Free Hospital in London between July and November 1955 and which affected a total of 292 members of staff. In the Medical Staff Report it was concluded that an infective agent was responsible [34]. In 1970 McEvedy and Beard put forward an alternative suggestion that Royal Free Disease was an epidemic of hysteria (for example the sensory loss affected a whole limb or part of a limb but the pattern rarely followed the distribution of nerves to the skin) and also pointed out that the spread of the symptoms, predominantly affecting young female resident staff, is characteristic of epidemics of hysteria, which usually occur in populations of segregated females such as girl schools, convents and factories. They wrote also that hysteria had a pejorative meaning in their society, but that should not prevent doctors from weighing the evidence dispassionately [34].

Besides defining the nature of hysteria, 20th Century psychiatrists also considered its history and geography. During World Wars hysteria attracted the attention of military doctors, and several authors have recorded their impressions on the frequency of hysteria in this period. Under battle conditions, the way in which hysterical symptoms provide a solution for emotional conflicts is particularly clear. A soldier torn between fear of facing death and shame at being thought a coward may develop a hysterical paralysis of his arm, sickness being a legitimate way out of the conflict [34]. For instance, in 1919 Hurst wrote that “many cases of gross hysterical symptoms occurred in soldiers who had no family or personal history of neuroses, and who were perfectly fit”. In particular, in 1942 Hadfield commented that the most striking change in war neurosis from World War I to World War II was “the far greater proportion of anxiety states in this war, as against conversion hysteria in the last war” [34]. But World War II not only allowed for a comparison with World War I in terms of patterns of neurotic symptoms, but also become a opportunity for cross-cultural comparisons between troops from widely differing cultural backgrounds [34].

Abse’s studies (1950) on hysteria in India during World War II demonstrate that, 57% of the 644 patients admitted to the Indian Military Hospital in Delhi during the year 1944, were diagnosed as suffering from hysteria and 12% were diagnosed as suffering from anxiety states. Abse also collected data from a British Military Hospital in Chester (June to October 1943) and he demonstrated the existence of a majority of anxiety states (50%) than hysteria cases (24%) [34].

Others studies confirm these data. In particular, in 1950 Williams demonstrated that Indian hysterics were often of high morale and were of all grades of intelligence, whereas among the British, gross hysterical reactions were the breakdowns of men with low stability and morale and usually of low intelligence [34]. Moreover, these studies demonstrate that from World War I to World War II there was a small relative decline of hysteria among British soldiers which was paralleled by a relative rise in anxiety states and by contrast, hysteria was still the most common form of neurosis among Indian soldiers in World War II. The contrasting patterns shown by soldiers suggest that hysteria and anxiety neurosis bear a reciprocal relationship, so that the decline of the former is compensated for by a rise in the latter [34].

But this also seems to demonstrate a different progress of hysterical disease in Western and non-Western societies. In the second half of the 20th century, we witness a “decrease” of hysteria (as response to stress, which represents the patient concept’s of bodily dysfunction) in western societies. Data of annual admissions for hysteria to psychiatric hospitals in England and Wales from 1949 to 1978 show that they are diminished by nearly two-thirds, with a marked decline in the proportion from 1971 onwards, and a similar decrease is recorded in a study conducted in Athens as well [34]. Hysteria was in fact a major form of neurotic illness in Western societies during the 19th Century and remained so up to World War II. Since then there appears to have been a rapid decline in its frequency and it has been replaced by the now common conditions of depressive and anxiety neuroses.

But the studies focused on Indian patients as well as on others non-Western countries as Sudan, Egypt and Lebanon [34] demonstrate that during the second half of 20th Century hysteria, as one of the somatic ways of expressing emotional distress, remained a prominent condition among psychiatric patients, although anxiety and depressive neuroses may have gained a little ground. Hence, psychiatrists supposed that it was an unstable transitional phase and predicted the disappearance of hysteria by the end of 20th Century [34].

There seems to be an inverse relationship between decreasing of hysteria and increasing of depression in Western society. The idea that depression was more likely to manifest itself in those born after the Second World War has been suggested in 1989 by Klerman [39]. More recently it has been documented by studies repeated over time in America and Australia, although there are exceptions in specific areas in relation to specific socio-environmental conditions and migration [4044].

A systematic review of misdiagnosis of conversion symptoms and hysteria, based on studies published since 1965 on the diagnostic outcome of adults with motor and sensory symptoms unexplained by disease, demonstrate that a high rate of misdiagnosis of conversion symptoms was reported in early studies but this rate has been only 4% on average in studies of this diagnosis since 1970 [45]. This decline is probably due to improvements in study quality rather than improved diagnostic accuracy arising from the introduction of computed tomography of the brain [40].

We know that the concept of hysterical neurosis is deleted with the 1980 DSM-III: hysterical symptoms are in fact now considered as manifestation of dissociative disorders.

The evolution of this disease seems to be a factor of the social “westernization”. Several studies on mental diseases seem to validate this hypothesis. In 1978 Henry B. Murphy (1915-1987) [46] individuated the main causes of melancholy in social change and consequent socio-economic changes. A picture characterized by self-blame feelings, low self-esteem and helplessness. These features were described as being due to a rapid social change in two different social theatres: in those areas of England interested in turning the feudal economy into an industrial7at the centre of one at the end of the 17th century, and more recently in some areas of Africa affected by rapid economic development. In both cases the onset of psychopathological symptoms has been related to two main factors: on the one hand, the disruption of an enlarged family and the loss of a close emotional support for the individual, and on the other hand by a marked striving towards economic individualism. In this new psychological and external contest destiny and future will no longer be determined by fate, but menbuildtheir own destiny, an unknown and hard responsibility towards life [47]. In 1978 Murphy wrote that in Asia and in Africa these symptoms are rare, except among the Westernized persons, and that it could be useful to examine under what conditions these symptoms first became common in different societies [46].

From the expression of discomfort “hysteria” to the expression of discomfort “melancholy” the different conception of the self isessential. The world of hysterical manifestation is a world of “dissociation”: something dark (trauma, external influences) affects a symptom not directly interpretable. From here the development in the West of hypnotic therapies (up by Mesmer to Freud and Janet) [36] and, in the West more than in non-Westernized world, it is the implementation of exorcism and purificatory rituals that mark the meeting with the groups: Tarantism and Argia in South Italy [47], Narval-Wotal practices of West African immigrants [4852]. A world linked to a vision of women as a means unaware of evil forces, “out of control” from reasonableness or (in European Positivism) be an “immature” with manipulative behavior that seeks to achieve an improper position of power. Also the world of Melancholy is female, predominantly female since women suffer from depression at a ratio of 2.5 to 1 compared to men [48, 43]. But it is a reality in which, indeed, the patient (and therefore the patient woman) is aware of the conviction-conquest of being the master of its own destiny (and therefore to blame for their failures). We can see this passage in 1980s Africa.

Modern Africa is characterized by a variety of different economic and social situations which are not easy to compare, but in which urbanization and the progressive loss of tribal links is a common trend. In recent years several research projects concerning the transformation of psychopathology, based on African populations and African Immigrants in Sardinia, Italy, confirmed Murphy’s hypotheses on the role of social change and its socio-economic consequences in the genesis of a depressive symptomatology [48]. Studies involved populations in which traditional social structure still survives and which have just marginally been affected by social changes; populations undergoing a rapid change towards economic individualism, although these have now become a rarity in modern-day Africa; populations whose traditional social structures and underlying human relationships have been able to compromise and face the processes of partial change by actively adapting to the new realities [48]. is the starting point is the distinction between the character of African psychopathology, the prevalent form of which is characterized by ideas of reference, persecutory delusions and psychosomatic symptoms, and the “western” depression, which involves self-guilt, unworthiness and suicidal conduct. The “Westernization” of the pathology is expressed through the changing of symptoms, from African to West models. A detailed analysis of the African community surveys revealed in the Bantu area the existence of populations characterized by a psychopathological risk similar to the one highlighted in westernized settings such as among the women in Harare who presented a yearly prevalence rate for anxiety and depressive disorders. A psychosocial key – confirmed by several studies – may suggest that maintaining close links with the group of origin can play a protective role against mood-related disorders [48].

Several studies identify the existence of two counter-posed means of expressing depression which are most likely “culturally determinated” from a “different level of westernization” [42]. Researchers in transcultural psychiatry suggest that social factors may influence the modification of the melancholical phenomenology and modulate the risk of depression [5355].

A survey on the Dagon Plateau conducted amongst farmers and nomadic Fulani herdsmen in Mali, reveals a very low frequency of depression and depressive cadres that are exclusively linked to secondary reactions of serious somatic disease in illiterate individuals [50]. In addition, the psychopathology over the Plateau is manifested with two opposing syndromic lines, first the constellation of symptoms of persecution, psychosomatic and psichastenia, loss of interest in things, syndrome guilt, sadness, suicidal ideas. This is typical of educated individuals [51].

A study carried out in the Namwera area in Malawi on the Mozambique border, during a deep micro and macro-social transformation which led to the establishment of a multiparty form of democracy following popular referendum, demonstrates that an emotional earthquake was caused by the conflict in having to choose between innovation and tradition. This situation in fact flew into a full-blown epidemic of hysteria among young women [48]. In the above context, in 1988, a dress factory, financed through an Italian co-operation, had been established in a village populated by the Yao and Chicewa groups, characterized by an agricultural economy. The project was articulated in order to allow women to redeem the equipment following a training period and set up independent activity [48].

In view of the particular condition of women in these cultures, this sudden passage from a traditional female role to a more independent activity seemed to be particularly suited for a study of the relationship between personal transformation and psychopathological changes. The study was carried out using three samples of age-matched women: dressmakers, farmers/housewives (traditional role), and a group of nurses and obstetricians [48]. The history of their development, including the presence of stressful events and other risk factors, together with the degree of satisfaction with their jobs and married life and other socio-anagraphic variables, was investigated by means of a specifically validated interview [51].

The choice of an innovative occupation (dressmaker/nurse) could be read as an adaptive answer in order to survive. Innovative occupations were source of satisfaction as job in itself, but they were causes of serous interpersonal and couple conflicts, linked to the new woman role and job. Housewives and dressmakers were more dissatisfied with their situation than nurses and they presented an increased number of psychopathological symptoms and the number of depressed subjects diagnosed according to DSM-IIIR was higher [48, 51].

Housewives also experienced an increased frequency of psychosomatic symptoms, such as headache, excessive fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and often reported suffering from the conviction that people did not recognize the importance of their role, and that someone could affect their health which is interpretable as an external localization of the source of their distress, in according to the character of African psychopathology. [48, 51] On the other hand, dressmakers showed a high frequency of depressive symptoms, problems about self-esteem, belief of social uselessness and suicidal thoughts [48, 51].

In a characteristic manner the suffering women also differed in the attribution of the causes of their discomfort. The “entrepreneurs” believed that the cause of their suffering had to be sought in their mistakes, the traditional women attributed to “evil spell” their ailments [51].

Among the three groups, nurses showed the highest frequency of psychological well-being and emotional stability. This should be interpreted as the result of good integration into a new identity due to a job related to a women’s traditional role and to satisfaction about financial stability. Without drastically breaking with tradition, according to several psychosocial lines, a cultural institution such as an innovative job is perceived by both society and the individual as being an integral part of the evolving self, and it creates conditions for cultural transmission to go on. This interpretation explains why nurses did not suffer from conflicts between tradition and innovation, while dressmakers, whose new individualistic role broke with women’s traditional one, did not feel accepted by their group and were consequently more vulnerable to mood disorders and particularly to depression, a “western” depression [48].

Instead, in populations which were far removed from the processes of westernization depressive disorders were relatively rare and nearly always secondary to severe somatic disorders, while they manifested themselves as primary disorders only in better educated subjects [48]. Several studies demonstrated that the threshold of onset of depression is situated on a higher level compared to western cultures and tend to support the hypothesis of a means of expression characterized by syndromic aggregations halfway between “western” style or “guilty” and “traditional” or “dislocation from the group”. Environmental factors seem to affect the the evolution of depressive symptoms and risk of depression, through modifications in the social organization thatelicit an attitude of “compulsive self-responsabilization” which would otherwise have been destined for extinction [48].

8. Focus on Sardinian Modern Cases

We should like to conclude by discussing some Sardinian cases which seem to contradict what has been said above: in modern times, they apparently document the continued use of Hippocrates’ and Galen’s ancient medical theories in relation to hysteria.


This small rural hospital, which was open from 1860 to 1890 in the small village of Siddi (in the heart of the Marmilla area, Sardinia) admitted 463 patients, the subject of our recent research. 122 were women (mainly peasants, maids and housewives), and of these, 10 were suffering from hysteria (sometimes the diagnosis was simple hysteria, on other occasions they were suffering from convulsions, constipation, intermittent fever…) [56]. In analyzing the simplest cases, where the hysteria was not combined with other diseases, we found the constant use of antispasmodics, sedatives and refreshing concoctions in the form of decoctions, infusions, creams, ointments and poultices. First of all, a decoction of tamarind and barley, extract of belladonna, valerian and liquid laudanum. Following this, infusions of fennel, mint and orange flowers, chamomile flowers and lime, cassia pulp and elder-tree ointment [57]. Only in one case (1868) was additional treatment prescribed in the form of polenta poultices, sulphates of potassium iodide, leeches, rubbery emulsions with iron carbonate and gentian extracts, and in another (1871) morphine acetate, infusions of senna leaves, citric acid and ammonium acetate ethers [57].

Treatment varied when the hysteria was associated with other symptoms such as, for example, epileptic convulsions: in the first phase the patient was administered zinc oxide, valerian extract, enemas with an emulsion of asafoetida and an egg yolk (to be repeated every 4 days) and then baking soda, water, fennel, turpentine and rosewater for rubs. Finally electuaries and polenta poultices [57].

The case of a young female patient at Managu is similar to the previous ones. Hospitalized for less than 54 days, the young woman was subjected to treatment based on emulsions of chloral hydrate, Burgundy pitch plasters, lemonade, water mint and lemon balm [57].


We are at the beginning of the twentieth century: the psychiatric hospital Villa Clara in Cagliari is an institution which ensures the implementation of the most advanced “psychiatric therapy”. In actual fact, this advanced therapy consisted in the “application of leeches, drastic purges, cold baths and in procuring groups of blisters, usually on the neck” [58]. Villa Clara’s story is contained in 16,000 archival files, still being sorted, but if there were any need of corroboration, its history is screamed out in the words of Giovanna M., Villa Clara’s Register 1. Giovanna M. was admitted to Genoa hospital when she was 10 years old, diagnosed with madness: she had a terrible headache, but preferred to say she had a “cranky head” and three years later in 1836, she was moved to the basement of Cagliari’s Sant’Antonio Hospital [58]. She describes this “as dark as a tomb, the only place on the island where the mad… or the insane… or the maniacs… or the idiots – as we were called- were locked up. We were 50 people in chains, in the smell of our own excrement, with rats gnawing at our ulcers…” [58]

In the early years of the new century, after a long break at Cagliari’s new San Giovanni di Dio Hospital, Giovanna M., now old and blind, was transferred to the Villa Clara psychiatric hospital, where Professor Sanna Salaris formulated a diagnosis of “consecutive dementia” and hysteria. But despite being constantly subjected to careful clinical observation, she was only treated here with “tonics … two eggs and milk … balneotherapy, rhubarb tinctures, potassium iodide, lemonade and laudanum, insulin and laxatives, a lot of purgatives: always, for everything”. Giovanna M. died in the mental hospital in 1913 due to “ageing of organs” and “senile marasmus”, as confirmed in the necrological report. Anna Castellino and Paola Loi know all there is to know about Giovanna M. and end their work Oltre il cancello with Giovanna’s words: “And you’d better believe it: I was 90 years old. Fate, which takes away healthy, free, young people, never pardoned me once. It has let me live all this time, quite lucid, but closed up in here … since I was ten years old …. eighty years in psychiatric hospital for a headache” [58].


Lengthy the history, social changes seem to offer a fertile substrate for the evolution of complex innovative systems of interpreting reality, of attributing the causes and controlling events, of living emotions. A critical study of the historical development and the interpretations of mental diseases may contribute to providing an explanation for the means of psychopathological expression. Moreover, it may provoke a re-discussion of the threshold and vulnerability concept in cases where it could be hypothesized that the new cognitive systems, although adaptive to new social requirements, might represent a factor of vulnerability (“culturally specific”) to specific mental disorders.

We have seen that both the symptomatic expression of women’ malaise and the culturally specific interpretation of the same malaise witness the changing role of women. From incomprehensible Being (and therefore mean of the Evil) to frail creatures that try, however, to manipulate the environment to their own ends (in Freud’s view) to creature arbiter of his fate (in the modern transformation from hysteria to melancholia), where the woman seems to have traded power with the loneliness and guilt.


Declared none.


The authors confirm that this article content has no conflicts of interest.


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Articles from Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health : CP & EMH are provided here courtesy of Bentham Science Publishers and BioMed Central


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The crimes of I.G. Farben:

The crimes of I.G. Farben: during WWII, I.G. Farben, a synthetic-fuels manufacturer for the German war machine, was a major supporter of the Nazi regime and a willing co-conspirator in the Holocaust.

Author: Behreandt, Dennis
Date: Nov 27, 2006
Words: 1736
Publication: The New American
ISSN: 0885-6540

March 8, 1943 was the day when the Nazi S.S. came for Norbert Wollheim and his family. With his wife and his three-year-old son, Wollheim was sent to the Grasse Hamburgerstrasse “collecting camp,” a way station on the blood-stained path to the Nazi’s “final solution.” A few days later, the family was sent to Auschwitz. Wollheim would never see his family again. “On arriving at the station at Auschwitz,” Wollheim recalled at the Nuremberg Trials, “I was separated from my wife and child and have not seen them since.”

Wollheim was one of the “lucky” ones. Along with about 220 other men, he was separated from the other prisoners who were condemned to immediate death in the gas chambers. Instead, he was taken by truck to the Monowitz camp, a special labor camp within the sprawling Auschwitz system of death camps. There, with the others, his head was shaved, he was disinfected, tattooed with his prison ID number, and immediately put to work. “I came to the dreaded ‘murder detail 4,’ whose task it was to unload cement bags or constructional steel,” Wollheim recalled. He had ceased to be a private citizen. He was no longer even the property of the Nazi state. Instead the deed to his life was held by the owner and operator of the Monowitz camp, the notorious German industrial conglomerate I.G. Farben.

Created by the unification of a number of German chemical firms, including BASF, Bayer, and AGFA following World War I, I.G. Farben was famous for its innovations–including in the manufacture of synthetic fuels and synthetic rubber–and for its stature as the largest chemical manufacturer in Europe and one of the largest corporations in the world. But with the rise of the unspeakably evil Hitler and his demon-spawned followers, I.G. Farben would become infamous for its wholehearted support of, and participation in, the brutal Nazi regime.


By 1923, pioneering German chemist Carl Bosch had been managing director of the Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik (BASF) Company for four years. During those years he had seen the post-World War I German economy crumble and, more disturbingly still, had seen French forces occupy the Ruhr Valley, causing the German government to order the closing of manufacturing plants there. The shutdown was devastating for BASF and the other companies of the German chemical industry’s interessen gemeinschaft (literally, “community of interest”–i.e., a cartel).

Bosch had an idea for reversing the damage. Having played a central role in the creation of technologies to manufacture synthetic indigo and synthetic ammonia, Bosch was certain that it would be possible to manufacture synthetic motor fuels on a large scale as well. The technology already existed. In 1913, chemist Friedrich Bergius had invented a method of extracting liquid fuel from coal using a process that came to be called hydrogenation. Though this process could only be used in the laboratory, Bosch believed that, given sufficient funding, he could lead an effort to make the technique useful on a large scale.

The stakes were enormous. Germany was rich in coal, but had practically no reserves of crude oil. Success would mean energy independence for Germany and vast, almost unimaginable, wealth for the German chemical industry.

The problem was that BASF, large though it was, did not have the financial resources to tackle the problem all on its own. “A broader and more substantial corporate base was needed,” wrote Department of Justice official Joseph Borkin in his book The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben. Bosch had just such a plan. “He proposed that all the I.G. companies merge into a single corporation bringing all their industrial activities and financial strength into a gigantic monolithic entity.” Bosch’s proposal met with favor and on December 9, 1925 the companies of the I.G. cartel were merged into BASF creating a new corporate colossus: I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft–I.G. Farben for short.

Synthetic Fuel and Nazi Germany

With the merger, I.G. Farben’s immense research and engineering facilities swung into action. Officials from other nations and companies were overawed by the scale of the I.G. Farben effort. Frank A. Howard, the head of research and development for Standard Oil, was given a tour of the Farben efforts in 1926. Though Standard Oil was no slouch in matters of research, Howard couldn’t believe what he was seeing at the Farben facilities, stating that he was “plunged into a world of research and development on a gigantic scale such as I had never seen.” Standard Oil president Walter C. Teagle was similarly impressed: “I had not known what research meant until I saw it,” Teagle remarked. “We were babies compared to what they were doing.”

Just when it looked like I.G. Farben was about to take the world by storm with its process for making synthetic fuel, the bottom fell out of crude-oil prices with the beginning of the Great Depression, and the outlook for synthetic fuels went from promising to bleak nearly overnight. But the rise of Adolf Hitler changed the equation. Even before becoming chancellor, Hitler met with Farben officials Heinrich Buetefisch and Heinrich Gattineau. The man who would shortly become dictator of the German Reich told the two Farben men that synthetic fuel was a matter of central importance. “German motor fuel must become a reality, even if this entails sacrifices,” Hitler said. “Therefore it is urgently necessary that the hydrogenation of coal be continued.”

Though Bosch was initially cautious of the Nazis, he was eager to sign a pact with Hitler to ensure that the I.G. Farben synthetic-fuel program could continue. The pact was formally signed on December 14, 1933. Under the agreement with the Nazi regime, I.G. Farben was to increase production capacity so that by 1937 it could produce 300,000 to 350,000 tons of synthetic oil each year.

“I.G. Auschwitz”

After 1933, I.G. Farben identified itself ever more closely with the Nazi regime. At the same time it moved aggressively to increase synthetic-fuel production. By 1940, notes Daniel Yergin in The Prize, his 1991 history of the oil industry, Germany was producing 72,000 barrels of synthetic fuel every day. As the war dragged on, production actually increased. Yergin points out that production was up to 124,000 barrels per day and was still increasing in the first quarter of 1944. This, Yergin notes, “could not have happened without immense effort and all the normal tools and techniques of the Nazi war economy, including slave labor.”

The increased demand for both synthetic fuel and the synthetic rubber known as Buna that I.G. Farben produced required the construction of additional facilities. The Nazis summoned I.G. officials Fritz ter Meer and Otto Ambros to a secret meeting to discuss the situation, after which Ambros was sent on a scouting mission to Auschwitz. Ambros found that the proposed site had ready access to coal, rivers, and both road and railroad transportation. But most of all, it had a ready source of labor in the unfortunates who were interned at the Auschwitz concentration camp. This, Ambros thought, would be the place to build the new I.G. Farben facilities. The new division would be named I.G. Auschwitz. I.G. management appointed Ambros head of the Auschwitz Buna facility and appointed Heinrich Buetefisch head of the Auschwitz synthetic-oil plant. Under their leadership, I.G. would wholeheartedly participate in the brutal genocide of Jews and others whom the Nazis considered undesirable.

At I.G. Auschwitz, the S.S. guaranteed the company access to 10,000 slave laborers under Nazi control. At first this seemed to satisfy the I.G. management. “Our new friendship with the S.S. is proving very profitable,” Ambros informed Fritz ter Meer. Relations soon deteriorated between I.G. and the S.S., however, leading I.G. executives to claim–ludicrously since they were using slave labor–that the Nazi masters of Auschwitz didn’t understand “the working methods of … free enterprise.” If the I.G. Farben notion of “free enterprise” was to succeed, they would need to build their own concentration camp. “In July 1942,” wrote Justice Department official and I.G. Farben prosecutor Joseph Borkin, “the I.G. managing board voted to solve its Auschwitz labor problems by establishing its own concentration camp.” Though owned and operated by I.G. Farben, the new camp, Monowitz, would be run on Nazi forced-labor principles: “All the inmates must be fed, sheltered and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent, at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.”

It was a death sentence almost as inescapable as the gas chamber. Work groups would march into the factories in the morning, and carry back the corpses of those who had died of exhaustion in the afternoon. “I.G. reduced slave labor to a consumable raw material,” noted Borkin, “a human ore from which the mineral of life was systematically extracted. When no usable energy remained, the living dross was shipped to the gassing chambers and cremation furnaces of the extermination center at Birkenau, where the S.S. recycled it into the German war economy–gold teeth for the Reichsbank, hair for mattresses, and fat for soap.”

The Legacy of I.G. Farben

After World War II, I.G. Farben was broken up into its constituent companies, and several Farben officials, including Fritz ter Meer of the I.G. managing board and Otto Ambros and Heinrich Buetefisch, were sent to prison for their role in the enslavement and death of those victims of the Holocaust who perished at the hands of I.G. Farben. As for I.G. companies, several continue in operation, including Bayer AG, the producer of “Bayer Aspirin.”

The technology that allowed the conglomerate to make the synthetic fuel that powered the Nazi war and terror machine remains a viable energy alternative today. Farben produced a significant amount of fuel for Hitler’s Germany. “Altogether,” wrote Daniel Yergin in The Prize, “synthetic fuels would account for half of Germany’s total oil production.” If this could be achieved by the repugnant Nazis using starved, tyrannized, and deathly ill slaves, free American workers and entrepreneurs should be able to do infinitely better today.

A longer version of this article, containing information on the relationship between LG. Farben and some American business interests, is available at: 4314.shtml

COPYRIGHT 2006 American Opinion Publishing, Inc.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.
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How the Startup Mentality Failed Kids in San Francisco

How the Startup Mentality Failed Kids in San Francisco

Huge contributions from tech titans, a STEM-packed curriculum, gadgets everywhere: Willie Brown Middle School was supposed to set the bar. Then it opened.

On the windy afternoon of March 17, 2017, I opened my mailbox and saw a white envelope from the San Francisco Unified School District. The envelope contained a letter assigning my younger daughter to a middle school. This letter was a big deal; San Francisco’s public schools range from excellent to among the worst in the state, and kids are assigned to them through a lottery. The last time we put her name into the lottery, for kindergarten, she was assigned to one of the lowest-performing schools in California. Then we got a break: A private school offered a big discount on tuition. But now our discount was gone, so we entered her in the public-­school lottery again.

Ripping open that envelope, I found that she had been assigned to Willie L. Brown Jr. Middle School. I knew who Willie Brown was—Speaker of the California State Assembly for 15 years and two-term mayor of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004. The school, however, was new to me. So I grabbed a laptop, poked around on Google, and pieced together an astonishing story.

Willie Brown Middle School was the most expensive new public school in San Francisco history. It cost $54 million to build and equip, and opened less than two years earlier. It was located less than a mile from my house, in the city’s Bayview district, where a lot of the city’s public housing sits and 20 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level. This new school was to be focused on science, technology, engineering, and math—STEM, for short. There were laboratories for robotics and digital media, Apple TVs for every classroom, and Google Chromebooks for students. A “cafetorium” offered sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, flatscreen menu displays, and free breakfast and lunch. An on-campus wellness center was to provide free dentistry, optometry, and medical care to all students. Publicity materials promised that “every student will begin the sixth grade enrolled in a STEM lab that will teach him or her coding, robotics, graphic/website design, and foundations of mechanical engineering.” The district had created a rigorous new curriculum around what it called “design thinking” and a “one-to-one tech model,” with 80-minute class periods that would allow for immersion in complex subjects.

The money for Brown came from a voter-approved bond, as well as local philanthropists. District fund-raising materials proudly announced that, through their foundation, Twitter cofounder Evan Williams and his wife, Sara, had given a total of $400,000 for “STEM-focus” and “health and wellness.” (The foundation says that figure is incorrect.), the philanthropic arm of Marc Benioff‘s company Salesforce, has given nearly $35 million to Bay Area public schools in the past five years alone; each year the organization also gives $100,000 to every middle school principal in San Francisco and Oakland.1 The Summit Public Schools network, an organization that runs charter schools in California and Washington state and has a board of directors filled with current and former tech heavy hitters (including Meg Whitman), made a $500,000 in-kind donation of its personalized learning platform, according to those fund-raising materials.2 That online tool, built to help students learn at their own pace and track their progress, was created in partnership with Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg’s funding organization.

As the school’s first principal, the district hired a charismatic man named Demetrius Hobson who was educated at Morehouse and Harvard and had been a principal in Chicago’s public schools. Students from four of the Bayview’s elementary schools, where more than 75 percent of kids are socio­economically disadvantaged, were given preference to enter Willie Brown Middle. To ensure that the place would also be diverse, the district lured families from other parts of town with a “golden ticket” that would make it easier for graduates from Brown to attend their first choice of public high school.

The message worked. Parents from all over the city—as well as parents from the Bayview who would otherwise have sent their kids to school elsewhere—put their kids’ names in for spots at the new school. Shawn Whalen, who was then the chief of staff at San Francisco State University, and Xander Shapiro, the chief marketing officer for a startup, had children in public elementary schools that fed into well-regarded middle schools. But, liking what they heard, both listed Brown as a top choice in the lottery. Kandace ­Landake—a Bayview resident and Uber driver who wanted her children to have a better education than she’d received, and whose children were in good public schools outside the neighborhood—likewise took a chance on Brown. One third-­generation Bayview resident, whom I’ll call Lisa Green, works at a large biotech company and had been sending her daughter to private school. But she too was so enticed that she marked Brown as her first choice in the lottery, and her daughter got in.

On opening day in August of 2015, around two dozen staff members greeted the very first class. That’s when the story took an alarming turn. Newspapers reported chaos on campus. Landake was later quoted in the San Francisco Examiner: “The first day of school there were, like, multiple incidents of physical violence.” After just a month, Principal Hobson quit, and an interim took charge. In mid-October, less than two months into the first school year, a third principal came on board. According to a local newspaper, in these first few months, six other faculty members resigned. (The district disputes this figure.) In a school survey, only 16 percent of the Brown staff described the campus as safe. Parents began to pull their kids out.

By August of 2016, as Brown’s second year started, only 70 students were enrolled for 100 sixth-grade seats; few wanted to send their kids there. The school was in an enrollment death spiral.

It was hard to imagine sending our daughter to a place in such chaos. But I was also unsettled that so many people spent so much money and goodwill to do the right thing for middle schoolers, with such disastrous results. I wanted to know what had happened.

Willie L. Brown Jr., the man himself, now occupies a penthouse office with a spectacular view of the west span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, which happens to be named after him. As mayor, he famously gilded San Francisco City Hall’s dome with $400,000 worth of real gold. Brown’s best-known political achievements were in real estate development. He helped spur the rise of live-work lofts during the original dotcom boom and helped to turn San Francisco’s tawdry South of Market neighborhood into a booming tech startup district. After leaving office, Brown became a lobbyist; his clients included some of the biggest developers involved in transforming San Francisco into a corporate tech hub.

Small and compact at age 84, with a genial face, Brown greeted me in his office wearing an elegant purple suit. He explained that Willie L. Brown Jr. Middle School was the second iteration of a school formerly called Willie L. Brown Jr. College Preparatory Academy—“part of a group of schools called the Dream Schools,” he said, “that were going to try to afford equal educational opportunity on almost a boutique, as-needed basis.”

To make sense of this remark, it helps to understand that San Francisco has been trying, and mostly failing, for half a century to give African American and Latino students an education comparable to that provided to white and Asian students in the city. Those efforts started in the 1970s after the success of lawsuits accusing the city of maintaining racially isolated schools in the Bayview. Attempted remedies over the years included busing and racial quotas for school assignment, but both approaches foundered, partly due to opposition from families, often white and Asian, who argued they didn’t want to send their kids across town to school. In 1978, California voters passed the state’s most infamous law: Proposition 13 severely restricted raising property taxes, and required a two-thirds majority to pass many tax measures. This gutted California’s education funding so severely that the state’s public schools, which had been ranked best in the nation in the 1950s, fell to among the worst in a few decades. (They now hover around 35th.) California currently spends less per student on public education than many low-tax states. Belying its progressive image, San Francisco spends roughly half the amount per public school student than New York City, where the cost of living is comparable.

After just a month, the first principal quit and an interim took charge. In mid-October, less than two months into the first school year, a third principal came on board.

By the early 2000s, the district’s next campaign for change was aimed at improving its most underperforming schools, aided in part by a $135,000 pledge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The district designated some of these new schools as Dream Schools. This plan involved requiring existing teachers to reapply for their jobs, sprucing up their buildings, offering foreign-language and art classes, and requiring kids to wear uniforms. The Dream School that was eventually renamed Willie Brown College Preparatory Academy—Brown 1.0, if you will, in the Bayview—opened in 2004 (the same year Facebook was founded and Google and Salesforce held their IPOs). Six years later, Brown 1.0 had only 160 kids enrolled for 500 slots, and its standardized test scores were among the worst in the state.

“We tried to make it work,” Brown insisted as we sat in his office. “We put kids in uniform, we did everything.” He shook his head as if astonished by the outcome. “I used my connections. I had Spike Lee teach out there! Every friend I had in the celebrity world I took to that godforsaken place for an hour. I shattered my resources in that effort. It was clear it wasn’t going to work.” It was eventually decided, Brown told me, that the school would only succeed if it had a new building.

This, it turns out, was actually kind of easy to obtain. San Francisco has plenty of money for school construction, because asking San Francisco voters for permission to borrow money to build better schools is an easy win: Voters approved four such initiatives from 2003 to 2016, raising a cumulative $2 billion. Money to raise teacher salaries, by contrast, can require lengthy union negotiations and raising taxes. (As I write this, residents are voting on a proposition that would tax property owners to raise teacher pay.) The money for the new Willie Brown Middle School was a mere line item in a 2011 bond issue that raised $531 million.

When those funds came through for Brown 2.0, the school district was facing an existential crisis. Over the previous four decades, enrollment in SF public schools had fallen by nearly 40 percent, from 83,000 to 53,000, even as the city’s population grew by almost 100,000. Part of that loss was due to the skyrocketing cost of local living, which drove middle-class families to the suburbs and left San Francisco with the lowest number of children per capita of any of the nation’s 100 largest cities. As San Francisco’s population became more affluent, parents started to send their kids to private schools in droves. Around 30 percent of the city’s school-age children now attend private school—one of the highest rates in the nation. More shocking, in a city that is 54 percent white, just 13 percent of school-district kids are white. Starting in about 2010 and driven by this new, wealthy tech workforce, the city likewise became a laboratory for tech-driven innovation in private education. Nine new secular private schools, many of them with a science and math focus, opened in San Francisco between 2010 and 2015.

This all made what looked to me like the basic premise of Brown 2.0 eminently sensible: Emulate the new tech-driven private schools, court their funders, and help kids in one of the poorest parts of town. Perhaps the district could even start to reverse a decades-long decline in enrollment.


The sheer number of mishaps at Brown, right from the start, defies easy explanation. According to the district, Principal Hobson, who declined to comment for this story, tried to quit as early as June of 2015, two months before the school opened. The superintendent talked him into staying but, a district official told me, his heart seems not to have been in it.

The summer before the kids showed up for class should have been a time when Hobson and the staff trained and planned, and built a functioning community that knew how to care for 11- and 12-year-old kids and all their messy humanity. Instead, according to one former teacher, the primary teacher training was a two-week boot camp offered by Summit Public Schools meant to help teachers with the personalized learning platform. Teachers who attended that boot camp told me that as opening day inched closer, they worried that Hobson had yet to announce even basic policies on tardiness, attendance, and misbehavior. When they asked him how to handle such matters, according to one teacher who preferred not to be identified, “Hobson’s response was always like, ‘Positive, productive, and professional.’ We were like, ‘OK, those are three words. We need procedures.’ ” When families showed up for an orientation on campus, according to the teacher, Hobson structured the event around “far-off stuff like the 3-D printer.” That orientation got cut short when the fire marshal declared Brown unsafe because of active construction.

After the school opened, Lisa Green took time off work to volunteer there. “When I stepped into that door, it was utter chaos,” she told me. According to parents and staff who were there, textbooks were still in boxes, student laptops had not arrived, there was no fabrication equipment in the makerspace or robotics equipment ready to use. According to records provided by the district, parts of the campus were unfinished. Teachers say workers were still jackhammering and pouring hot asphalt as students went from class to class. The kids came from elementary schools where they had only one or two teachers, so Brown’s college-like course schedule, with different classes on different days, turned out to be overwhelming. When Hobson quit, district bureaucrats sent out letters explaining that he had left for personal reasons and was being replaced by an interim principal.

Shawn Whalen, the former San Francisco State chief of staff, says that pretty early on, “kids were throwing things at teachers. Teachers couldn’t leave their rooms and had nobody to call, or if they did nobody was coming. My daughter’s English teacher walked up in front of the students and said ‘I can’t do this’ and quit. There was no consistent instructional activity going on.”

Teachers also became disgusted by the gulf between what was happening on the inside and the pretty picture still being sold to outsiders. “I used to have to watch when the wife of a Twitter exec would come surrounded by a gaggle of district people,” said another former teacher at the school. “We had a lovely building, but it was like someone bought you a Ferrari and you popped the hood and there was no engine.”

Early in the school year, another disaster struck—this time, according to district documents, over Summit’s desire to gather students’ personally identifiable information. The district refused to compel parents to sign waivers giving up privacy rights. Contract negotiations stalled. When the two sides failed to reach a resolution, the district terminated the school’s use of the platform. (Summit says it has since changed this aspect of its model.) This left teachers with 80-minute class periods and without the curriculum tools they were using to teach. “Teachers started walking away from their positions because this is not what they signed up for,” said Bill Kappenhagen, who took over as Brown’s third principal. “It was just a total disaster.”

The adults had failed to lead, and things fell apart. “The children came in and were very excited,” says another former teacher. “They were very positive until they realized the school was a sham. Once they realized that, you could just see the damage it did, and their mind frame shifting, and that’s when the bad behavior started.”

Hoping to establish order, Kappenhagen, a warm and focused man with long experience in public school leadership, simplified the class schedule and made class periods shorter. “I got pushback from parents who truly signed their kid up for the STEM school,” he said. “I told them, ‘We’re going to do middle school well, then the rest will come.’ ”

Xander Shapiro’s son felt so overwhelmed by the chaos that he stopped going to class. “There was an exodus of people who could advocate for themselves,” Shapiro said. “Eventually I realized it was actually hurting my son to be at school, so I pulled him out and said, ‘I’m homeschooling.’ ”

Green made a similar choice after a boy began throwing things at her daughter in English class and she says no one did anything about it. “I don’t think any kid was learning in that school,” she says. “I felt like my daughter lost an entire semester.” Her daughter was back in private school before winter break.

The first year of any school is full of glitches and missteps, but what happened at Willie Brown seemed extreme. To learn more, I submitted a public records request to the district, seeking any and all documentation from the school’s planning phase and its first year. Among other things, I got notes from meetings conducted years earlier, as the district gathered ideas for Brown 2.0. It all sounded terrific: solar panels, sustainable materials, flatscreen televisions in the counseling room, gardens to “support future careers like organic urban farming.” Absent, though, was any effort to overcome some of the primary weaknesses in San Francisco public education: teacher and principal retention issues, and salaries dead last among the state’s 10 largest districts.

Eric Hanushek, a Stanford professor of economics who studies education, points out that among all the countless reforms tried over the years—smaller schools, smaller class sizes, beautiful new buildings—the one that correlates most reliably with good student outcomes is the presence of good teachers and principals who stick around. When Willie Brown opened, some teachers were making around $43,000 a year, which works out to about the same per month as the city’s average rent of about $3,400 for a one-­bedroom apartment. After a decade of service, a teacher can now earn about $77,000 a year, and that’s under a union contract. (By comparison, a midcareer teacher who moves 40 miles south, to the Mountain View Los Altos District, can make around $120,000 a year.)

The tech-driven population boom over the past 15 years has meant clogged freeways with such intractable traffic that moving to a more affordable town can burden a teacher with an hours-long commute. According to a 2016 San Francisco Chronicle investigation of 10 California school districts, “San Francisco Unified had the highest resignation rate.” That year, the article found, “368 teachers announced they would leave the district come summertime, the largest sum in more than a decade and nearly double the amount from five years ago.” Heading into the 2016–17 school year, the school district had 664 vacancies.

Proposition 13 takes a measure of blame for low teacher salaries, but San Francisco also allocates a curiously small percentage of its education budget to teacher salaries and other instructional expenses—43 percent, compared with 61 percent statewide, according to the Education Data Partnership. Gentle Blythe, chief communications officer for the SFUSD, points out that San Francisco is both a city and a county, and it is therefore burdened with administrative functions typically performed by county education departments. Blythe also says that well-­intentioned reforms such as smaller class sizes and smaller schools spread the budget among more teachers and maintenance workers. It is also true, however, that the district’s central-office salaries are among the state’s highest, as they should be given the cost of living in San Francisco. The superintendent makes $310,000 a year; the chief communications officer, about $154,000, according to the database Transparent California.

District records show that at least 10 full-time staff members of Brown’s original faculty earned less than $55,000 a year. The Transparent California database also shows that Principal Hobson earned $129,000, a $4,000 increase from his Chicago salary. That sounds generous until you consider that Chicago’s median home price is one-fourth that of San Francisco’s.

On Monday, May 15, at the blocklike concrete headquarters of the San Francisco Unified School District near City Hall and the opera house, I took a drab old elevator up to the third floor. Walking down a short hallway, I entered a tidy, small office and shook hands with Blythe and three other administrators: Joya Balk, a director of special projects who supervised planning for Brown; Tony Payne, the interim assistant superintendent for principals, who served as interim principal after Hobson quit; and Enikia Ford Morthel, the assistant superintendent for the Bayview. They all told me that the Brown disaster narrative was unfair and overblown.

Payne dismissed the notion that Brown saw unusual levels of violence. “No kids were seriously hurt,” he said. “So, you know, a kid throwing a pen in a classroom, that’s middle school.” He pointed to the fact that violence in predominantly African American schools is depicted differently than in predominantly white schools. “I saw worse behaviors at Presidio,” he said, referring to a middle school in a more affluent part of town where he was principal for three years. “A fight happens at Presidio, and the narrative is ‘Oh, how do we help that student? What’s going on with that student?’ A fight happens at Willie Brown: ‘Oh, that’s because it’s a terrible school.’ ”

Payne struck a similar note on the teachers leaving Brown. “Looking back,” he said, “you could easily say, you know, of course we’re going to lose teachers the first year. Right? This is hard work.”

In Payne’s view, Brown was a “super-good-faith effort to build a state-of-the-art school that is still ongoing. The startup metaphor is a really good one,” he said, “where you have to iterate. You can’t expect everything to run perfectly on the first day. And I think, you know, that process of storming and norming and developing a community is going to be challenging under the best of circumstances.”

To be sure, Brown was the most ambitious new-school launch ever undertaken by the district, and is still populated by children and teachers who deserve encouragement and every chance to succeed. The allure of the startup metaphor is likewise understandable—except tech startups are launched by entrepreneurs backed by investors who understand the risks they are taking, while Brown was started by government employees with little personal stake in the outcome.

Those government employees, says Hanushek, the Stanford economist, “are not idiots, and they’re not against kids. It’s just that when push comes to shove, the interest of the kids isn’t ahead of the interests of the institutions.”

Some teachers were making around $43,000 a year, about the same per month as the city’s average rent of $3,400 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Hanushek suggests another reason for bureaucrats’ temptation to believe that their innovations will make a difference: Unable to solve deep systemic problems like improving teacher salaries, those tasked with improving specific schools do what they can and hope for the best.

Something similar might be said about the philanthropic efforts of local CEOs. Salesforce’s Benioff recently gave $250,000 to support the June effort to levy a parcel tax to raise teacher salaries. His charities also give an impressive $100,000 each year to every middle school principal in San Francisco—for them to use as they wish—as part of what he calls a Principals Innovation Fund. Partly thanks to Benioff’s fund, all of San Francisco’s middle schoolers now have access to computer science courses.

But a lot of philanthropic efforts have focused on gifts that generate good press while mostly avoiding the diseased elephant lumbering around the room: Critically low school funding combined with the Bay Area’s tech-money boom have made living in San Francisco untenable for teachers.

Even some uses of Benioff’s Innovation Fund can feel less on point in the face of high teacher turnover—like a teachers’ lounge that looks like a cool coffee shop or student work tables that fit together like puzzle pieces to “look like Google and Facebook and Salesforce,” as one school principal told a reporter.

The Sara and Evan Williams Foundation paid design company Ideo and the school district to collaborate on a sweeping redesign of the school lunch experience, including, according to a foundation spokesperson, “a minor investment in technology to support the rollout of vending machines and mobile carts.” The foundation also donated to a district-­wide initiative that targeted students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. The spokesperson told me via email that the foundation did consider “all aspects of the public school system, including low teacher salaries. We’ve chosen to focus on the connection between hungry kids and learning because it reaches the most vulnerable students. When addressing a system, there are many points for intervention and no one funder can take on the entire entity.” (She also clarified that the organization’s contribution to Willie Brown was dramatically lower than the district claimed—$48,000, not $400,000.) None of the foundations that donated money to Brown would discuss what went wrong at the school. Neither Salesforce nor the Williams Foundation made anyone available for an interview.

In the end, we sent our younger daughter back to private school—because Landake and Green told me not to send her to Brown and our efforts to place her in a different public school failed. Our private school discount was gone, and the cost was painful, but I was grateful to have the option. Still, I hated the way it felt. Our older daughter is getting a great education at a public high school, all public schools need community support, and I could not convince myself that I’d made the right decision. It is entirely possible that our daughter could have thrived at Brown.

Last August, as the school year began, I set up another meeting to take a look at the school. I drove there one morning and found the principal—the school’s fourth in two years—greeting kids outside. His name was Charleston Brown, and he seemed terrific. Raised in South Central Los Angeles, a Division 1 football player at Alcorn State in Mississippi, he was charming with a gentle humility. Kids got out of their parents’ cars and shook Brown’s hand as they walked onto campus. He led me on a tour, accompanied by Blythe and Ford Morthel.

“The headache of being a new school, even three years in,” Brown said, “is that you have to build the traditions, build the culture.” He had implemented college T-shirt Thursdays and school T-shirt Fridays. He walked me down hallways newly decorated—by Principal Brown himself—with college pennants. We stopped to observe a sunny science classroom where students sat quietly at desks and paid attention while the teacher handed out a worksheet with the questions “What does it mean to be ‘On task’?” and “Why is it important to be ‘On task’?” Next, Brown took me to see a robotics elective in another sunny room, where a dynamic teacher named James Robertson zigzagged among tables while bright-eyed kids diligently built little machines.

It all felt promising. Test scores from Brown’s second year, the most recent available, did find the student body losing ground: The portion of Brown students testing at or above grade level in English fell about five points, to 21 percent; in math, about three points to near 10 percent. It is too early to expect Brown’s scores to rise, but those numbers doubtless played a role in depressing enrollment—with only 111 kids in the incoming sixth grade, and 382 overall, Brown is currently about half full.

On the upside, the number of families ranking Brown as a first choice has begun to rise, and I’ve heard that many families are encouraged by the nascent community forming there. In fact, Robertson, who has been teaching at the school from the start, told me a hopeful story: “I have kids who stay after school for hours, and I knew parents would have no idea what their kids were doing if they didn’t see it. So we had a robotics night, and they gave presentations, and they programmed in C++ and set up all the sensors. The kids know 12 different mechanical systems of movement. They gave a formal presentation. I just watched parents crying.” He added, “Ultimately, building a beautiful building is great, but community is the heart and reality of a school. And that takes time to build.”

Principal Brown also struck me as a good leader. But I worried. The district’s salary for a principal with his experience starts near $100,000. It looks like the district’s strategy for turning around Brown 2.0 included paying Principal Number Four about $29,000 less per year than Principal Number One.

Brown lives in Fairfield—an hour’s drive to work without traffic. The salaries for principals in that town start around $114,000 a year. If the Fairfield–Suisun Unified School District offered him a job, he could hardly be blamed for taking it.

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Here’s the Memo That Blew Up the NSC

Fired White House staffer argued “deep state” attacked Trump administration because the president represents a threat to cultural Marxist memes, globalists, and bankers.

An art lover walks past a images of President Obama (L) and a series titled 'Mao Trump'(R) by the contemporary pop artist Knowledge Bennett at the Ren Gallery display during the LA Art Show in Los Angeles, California on January 31, 2016. / AFP / Mark Ralston / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

An art lover walks past a images of President Obama (L) and a series titled ‘Mao Trump'(R) by the contemporary pop artist Knowledge Bennett at the Ren Gallery display during the LA Art Show in Los Angeles, California on January 31, 2016. / AFP / Mark Ralston / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The memo at the heart of the latest blowup at the National Security Council paints a dark picture of media, academics, the “deep state,” and other enemies allegedly working to subvert U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a copy of the document obtained by Foreign Policy.

The seven-page document, which eventually landed on the president’s desk, precipitated a crisis that led to the departure of several high-level NSC officials tied to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The author of the memo, Rich Higgins, who was in the strategic planning office at the NSC, was among those recently pushed out.

The full memo, dated May 2017, is titled “POTUS & Political Warfare.” It provides a sweeping, if at times conspiratorial, view of what it describes as a multi-pronged attack on the Trump White House.

Trump is being attacked, the memo says, because he represents “an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative.” Those threatened by Trump include “‘deep state’ actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans.”

The memo is part of a broader political struggle inside the White House between current National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and alt-right operatives with a nationalist worldview who believe the Army general and his crew are subverting the president’s agenda.

Though not called out by name, McMaster was among those described in the document as working against Trump, according to a source with firsthand knowledge of the memo and the events. Higgins, the author, is widely regarded as a Flynn loyalist who dislikes McMaster and his team.

“It was about H.R. McMaster,” the source said. “So, when he starts reading it, he knows it’s him and he fires [Higgins].”

The story of the memo’s strange journey to the Oval Office captures the zeitgeist of what has become the tragicomedy of the current White House: a son trying to please his father, an isolated general on a mission to find a leaker, a right-wing blogger with a window into the nation’s security apparatus, and a president whose closest confidante is a TV personality.

The result is an even wider rift between the president and his national security advisor, marking what may be the beginning of the end of the general’s tenure, and a radical shift of power on the NSC.

The controversy over the memo has its origins in a hunt for staffers believed to be providing information to right-wing blogger Mike Cernovich, who seemed to have uncanny insight into the inner workings of the NSC. Cernovich in the past few months has been conducting a wide-ranging campaign against the national security advisor.

“McMaster was just very, very obsessed with this, with Cernovich,” a senior administration official told FP. “He had become this incredible specter.”

In July, the memo was discovered in Higgins’s email during what two sources described to Foreign Policy as a “routine security” audit of NSC staffers’ communications. Another source, however, characterized it as a McCarthy-type leak investigation targeting staffers suspected of communicating with Cernovich.

Higgins, who had worked on the Trump campaign and transition before coming to the NSC, drafted the memo in late May and then circulated the memo to friends from the transition, a number of whom are now in the White House.

After the memo was discovered, McMaster’s deputy, Ricky Waddell, summoned Higgins, who was told he could resign — or be fired, and risk losing his security clearance, according to two sources.

Higgins, who agreed to resign, was escorted out of the building. He later learned from his colleagues still at the NSC that his association to this now-infamous memo was the reason he was removed.

Following Higgins’s departure, McMaster set out to clean house, a source close the White House said — getting rid of NSC staffers linked to the memo, perceived as loyal to his predecessor, Michael Flynn, or simply those with whom he’d butted heads over foreign policy. Among those fired was Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s top intelligence official, and Derek Harvey, who handled the NSC’s Middle East portfolio.

In the meantime, however, the memo had been working its way through the Trump White House. Among those who received the memo, according to two sources, was Donald Trump Jr.

Trump Jr., at that time in the glare of media scrutiny around his meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign, gave the memo to his father, who gushed over it, according to sources.

In a comedy of errors, Trump later learned from Sean Hannity, the Fox News host and close friend of the president, that the memo’s author had been fired. Trump was “furious,” the senior administration official said. “He is still furious.”

The memo lays out what it described as a concerted campaign to undermine the president.

“The administration has been maneuvered into a constant back-pedal by relentless political warfare attacks structured to force him to assume a reactive posture that assures inadequate responses,” it reads. “The president can either drive or be driven by events; it’s time for him to drive them.”

The purpose of the memo, said a source familiar with the document, was to educate others in the White House about just what the president is allegedly up against.

“The memo maybe reads a little crazy, sure, but it’s not wrong and Rich isn’t crazy,” an administration official said.

Many inside the White House had only seen the first page or two of the memo — or had only read the excerpts published in the Atlanticwhich first reported the existence of the memo, several sources said.

The memo’s repeated references to the Muslim Brotherhood — which is grouped among “key international players that includes the European Union and the United Nations — surprised few inside the NSC familiar with what had been a Flynn obsession. “Oh look, it’s the newest member of the Muslim Brotherhood,” was a common joke among those critical of Flynn loyalists, and what they regarded as a conspiracy theory, a source close to the NSC said.

This 3,500-word memo was written in a personal capacity, according to a source familiar with its drafting. The source described it as a “technical assessment” of the current political situation, and said it was never disseminated from the NSC in any official manner, but shared with personal contacts from the Trump campaign.

“While opposition to President Trump manifests itself through political warfare memes centered on cultural Marxist narratives, this hardly means that opposition is limited to Marxists as conventionally understood,” the memo reads. “Having become the dominant cultural meme, some benefit from it while others are captured by it; including ‘deep state’ actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans.”

“It’s not wrong per se,” said another official. “Actually, it’s not wrong at all. The not-wrong part is just, well, buried a bit I guess by some of the wackier parts.”

The memo calls out those pushing for rights “based on sex or ethnicity,” which is a “direct assault on the very idea of individual human rights and natural law around which the Constitution was framed.” It also says that “transgender acceptance” is “denying a person the right to declare the biological fact of one’s sex.”

Contacted by FP, Higgins declined to comment on the memo or his departure from the NSC.

The recent NSC shake-up appears to go beyond concerns about the memo. The recently ousted NSC staffers had been brought in by Flynn, who resigned for allegedly lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of a December phone call he had with a Russian official.

Flynn is now under investigation for, among other things, failing to report income for lobbying on behalf of Turkey shortly before he became involved in the campaign.

The elimination of Higgins, Cohen-Watnick, and Harvey has helped McMaster assert control of the NSC, which was staffed during the early days of the administration by those loyal to Flynn and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist.

Late last week, McMaster also planned to put at least four other NSC staffers on the chopping block, but was prevented from doing so by newly installed Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to two sources. All but one of those staffers had ties dating back to the campaign or transition.

A source close to McMaster denied those planned firings.

The White House press office did not respond to FP‘s request for comment. A NSC spokesman declined to comment, citing a policy against speaking about internal personnel issues.

Despite Higgins’s firing, McMaster’s difficulties inside the White House aren’t going away anytime soon — though he might.

McMaster “doesn’t really have any allies,” said a source familiar with the NSC staff. “It doesn’t seem as though he has the ear of the president, which is obviously essential to his survival.”

Kate Brannen and Jenna McLaughlin contributed reporting to this article.

Photo: A viewer walks past a series of images titled “Mao Trump” by contemporary pop artist Knowledge Bennett on display at the Ren Gallery in Los Angeles in January 2016. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images.

Jana Winter is an investigative reporter based in Washington, DC.

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering cyberspace, its conflicts, and controversies. @eliasgroll

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