As of January 1, 2016, Mad in America Foundation has been operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All deductions to Mad in America Foundation are tax deductible.
Mad in America’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for remaking psychiatric care in the United States (and abroad). We believe that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society, and that scientific research, as well as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, calls for profound change.
Our non-profit organization promotes such change in two ways:
(1) We publish a webzine, madinamerica.com, that provides news of psychiatric research, original journalism articles, and a forum for an international group of writers—people with lived experience, peer specialists, family members, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, program managers, journalists, attorneys, and more—to explore issues related to this goal of "remaking psychiatry."
(2) We run Mad In America Continuing Education, which hosts online courses taught by leading researchers in the field. These courses provide a scientific critique of the existing paradigm of care, and tell of alternative approaches that could serve as the foundation for a new paradigm, one that emphasizes psychosocial care, and de-emphasizes the use of psychiatric medications, particularly over the long-term. While the general public may take the courses, we are primarily marketing the courses to provider organizations and mental health professionals, including psychiatrists.
We believe that this mix of journalism, education and societal discussion can provide the seed for a much-needed remaking of mental health care in the United States. It is evident that our current “brain disease” model is flawed in so many ways, and we believe that it needs to be replaced by a model that emphasizes our common humanity, and promotes robust, long-term recovery and wellness.
We also believe it is important to provide readers with the opportunity to add their voices to this discussion. We encourage readers to leave comments (see comment policy below), and to submit personal stories and op-ed submissions. We encourage our readers to visit our forums to further this communal discussion.
We welcome feedback and comments on how we can improve this website, and continue to build an online community that can be a societal force for change.
Robert Whitaker worked as a newspaper reporter for a number of years, covering medicine and science. He was director of publications at Harvard Medical School for a time during the 1990s. He is the author of five books, three of which investigate the history of psychiatry and the merits of its treatments: Mad in America (2002); Anatomy of an Epidemic (2010); and Psychiatry Under the Influence (2015). For personal information (speaking schedule, etc.) go to his books page, or to robertwhitaker.org
Kermit Cole has been the blogs and front page editor of Mad In America since the webzine was founded in January of 2012. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard. He founded the Open Paradigm film project with the intention of producing high-quality video of people and projects that question the value and validity of the DSM, and its biomedical system of diagnosis. He has more than a decade of experience working with people in psychotic states. He currently works at the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia, where, together with his partner Louisa Putnam, he works with couples and families with members who have been diagnosed as having a mental illness.
Emmeline Mead is a longtime activist, artist and psychiatric survivor whose experiences with psychiatry started in the foster care system, where her understandable responses to trauma were pathologized as "illness." Inspired by other survivors and by Robert Whitaker's books, she eventually began to question and then reject psychiatric interference in her life. Emmeline first joined the MIA team as Community Manager in April of 2014, and now edits the Initiatives and Personal Stories sections of the website. She invites readers to get in touch if they have a story to tell or are involved in a project that works to change the current drug-centered paradigm of care.
Christopher Page is a human being, just like you. He has held a number of unorthodox occupations, including a long career as a professional poker player, a couple of years as a designer in the computer game industry, and some time as a professional "gamer" in South Korea. His interest in psychology is borne out of his own suffering, which he understands as both an intrinsic aspect of the human condition, and also the result of adverse life experience. He favors approaches to healing which are holistic and non-pathologizing, which take into account the broader social context and which pay attention to the "unspoken" and the spaces "in between". Chris brings his systems-thinking experience to managing the day-to-day operations of the site.
Alison Page is a benzodiazepine survivor. She took prescribed benzodiazepines off and on for 16 months and was rapidly tapered off. She ended up with a severe central nervous system injury which has taken years to recover from. As a result of her experience, Alison is now an activist on behalf of psychiatric survivors and works to raise awareness about the dangers of psychiatric drugs and treatment methods. She enjoys being out in nature, watercolor painting, and meditation.
Hana Valle’s studies in Community Psychology and Global Cultural Studies have helped her to develop a critical perspective on mental health research and practice and inspired her activist work. She has worked on many campaigns including her fight for the freedom of speech for students on public and private university campuses and their rights of due process. As a writer and avid reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, she is particularly interested in how “fandoms” of popular series can evolve into communities organizing for social change.
A team of doctoral candidates at UMASS Boston, led by Justin Karter, serve as editors of In the News and Around the Web.
Justin Karter is a writer, researcher and community organizer with graduate degrees in both journalism and community psychology. He brings a particular interest in examining and decoding underlying bias in the news, deconstructing cultural narratives of mental health and reimagining the institutions built on these assumptions. He has worked in grassroots movements for social change in Buffalo and in Pittsburgh, where he also founded the annual Storytelling and Human Rights Symposium. He is a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at UMass Boston, an active student member of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, and is currently working on several scholarly projects at the intersection of psychology, social theory, and philosophy.
Shannon Peters is a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Boston and has a master’s degree in mental health counseling. Shannon received her bachelor’s degree in behavioral neuroscience, but as she started working with individuals who have been diagnosed as having mental illness, she began questioning the value of the biological explanations for distress that she had been taught. She is particularly interested in exploring the impacts of medicalization and pathologizing the experiences of individuals who have been affected by trauma. She is engaged in research on the effects of institutional corruption and financial conflicts of interest on research and practice. She is a student member of the Society for Counseling Psychology and the Association for Women in Psychology.
Akansha Vaswani is a therapist and a researcher with a particular interest in the lived experiences of people’s lives. Her early history of working in community mental health settings with families impacted by disability in Mumbai introduced to her principles of family-centered care, client advocacy, and narrative therapy which resonated deeply with the kind of helper she wanted to be. Through the stories and experiences she heard, she learned the importance of foregrounding context when working with difficulties in people’s lives rather than locating them in internal or inherent dysfunction. Her studies in marriage and family therapy strengthened her commitment to develop clinical practice from a social justice, de-colonizing, feminist and social constructionist lens. She has always believed that therapy must go beyond the therapy room and contribute to creating contexts that can lead to sustainable change and communities experiencing a sense of agency. In her life as a researcher some of the projects she is currently involved in include examining biases in psychiatric research, the psychosocial aspects of chronic illness and the effects of structural violence on marginalized communities.
Peter Simons comes from a background in the humanities. Before earning a graduate degree in psychology, he studied English, philosophy, and art. Now working on his PhD in Counseling Psychology, his recent research has focused on conflicts of interest in the psychopharmaceutical research literature, the use of antipsychotic medications in the treatment of depression, and the general philosophical and sociopolitical implications of psychiatric taxonomy in diagnosis and treatment. He brings a particularly critical eye to the unquestioned assumptions of the psychological establishment.
Marta E. Pagán-Ortiz is a doctoral student and research assistant in the Counseling and School Psychology PhD program at UMass Boston. Prior to attending UMass Boston she worked as a mental health clinician at Arbour Hospital and as a research fellow at the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice at Northeastern University, a department that focuses on understanding the social and environmental conditions of urban living in order to inform public health intervention strategies and policies. Marta is currently working on research studies related to mental health treatment guidelines for chronic illnesses, issues of structural violence within minority populations, and the reduction of disparities in mental health status and care.
Robert Whitaker, President
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