A number of people considered ill and needing treatment by specific psychiatrists or psychiatric doctrine in general do not perceive benefit from the services offered or forced upon them. Many respond with outrage to both the system of values which judges them to be ill, and the coercive and violent nature of interventions made in the name of "help". A loose coalition of people feeling betrayed by psychiatry have come together to promote legal and treatment alternatives as members of the psychiatric survivors movement. The "psychiatric survivors movement" is also called the "consumer survivors movement."

The beginning of a formal movement is often attributed to Howard Geld, or Howie the Harp, and the formation of the Insane Liberation Front in Portland, Oregon in 1969. Many other local initiatives followed, many of them with Howie's direct participation and most owing to his articulation of peer alternatives to traditional treatment methods, and demonstrated success in funding and operating peer-operated service centers. A coalition of such programs meets annually at the Alternatives conference.

Support Coalition International has also been an important group in the psychiatric survivors movement.

See also: antipsychiatry