AN ALTERNATIVE UNDERSTANDING OF THE NATURE OF MADNESS

Michael Cornwall is a Jungian/Laingian psychotherapist who went through his own intense experience of transformative madness without medication or treatment that formed his vocation. For over 30 years he has specialized in providing psychotherapy for people in psychotic states in medication-free sanctuaries and community settings. He completed his doctoral study of Diabasis House, the Jungian early episode, medication free psychosis sanctuary founded by Michael’s mentor, Dr. John Weir Perry. Michael is an Esalen Institute workshop leader and psychology grad school lecturer and CEU trainer on alternative approaches to madness.

Dr. Michael Cornwall Providing Loving Receptivity Can Help People in Extreme States

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October 30, 2014

In this video I share about my lived experience of extreme states, and how that harrowing journey through madness almost fifty years ago sealed my fate. It set me on course for a vocation of being with others in their times of passage through madness, that has lasted for thirty five years now. I recount some of that journey as a therapist and in a brief tutorial, share a central lesson learned about risking to bring an open heart to those in need – to be present with loving receptivity.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall What’s Wrong With You?
Nothing.
What Has Happened to You? Something.

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May 17, 2014

Licensed Mental Heath professionals are trained and are required to find out what is wrong with people. Unfortunately, 90 percent of the people who could benefit from professional mental health services, in my opinion, are suffering from feeling something is wrong with them. They already feel bad about themselves, like they are failing in life. Enter the totally well-intentioned mental health professional.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Enslaved to Abilify

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April 14, 2014

A very gifted and compassionate friend recently said that she feels enslaved to Abilify – that she has tried to taper off it several times but always ends up slipping into an extreme state, no matter how slow she tapers. She said this repeated experience makes her feel like a slave, because she has to go back on the drug to stop the very intense extreme state induced whenever she tries to stop taking it. I have another friend who for years felt painfully anguished until he found his way free of heroin. He stopped using, went through withdrawal and was finally free. Most people who try withdrawing from antipsychotics face professional caregivers who discourage them from doing it. On the other hand, when people detox from heroin, everyone encourages them to go through it, no matter how extreme their behavior or how much pain they go through.
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Categorized in: Adult, Antipsychotics, Blogs, Disorders, Featured Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Psychiatric Drugs, Recovery/Empowerment, Schizophrenia and Psychosis

Dr. Michael Cornwall It’s Time For A Stronger Political Ground Game To Compete With NAMI & Company On Forced Treatment

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April 3, 2014

The seemingly unstoppable political alliance made up of NAMI, the American Psychiatric Association (which represents 24,000 psychiatrists), the financial lobbying power of the corporate drug industry, and a chorus of fear-mongering politicians, achieved a great political victory this week when president Obama signed the Medicaid DocFix legislation into law.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Will Psychiatry’s Harmful Treatment of Our Children Bring About Its Eventual Demise?

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March 8, 2014

The safety of our children is a sacred obligation we strive to preserve. Anything or anyone that harms them becomes the object of our distrust and potential wrath. I want to raise the possibility that psychiatry, for all its accomplished …
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Categorized in: Antipsychotics, Bipolar, Blogs, Childhood Adversity/Trauma, Children and Adolescents, Community, DSM, ECT, Genetics, Non-drug Approaches, Psychiatric Drugs, Psychotherapy, Research, Trauma/Distress

Dr. Michael Cornwall If You Don’t Have Anything to Hide, You Don’t Have Anything to Worry About

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January 3, 2014

Today President Obama stripped everyone who is subjected to forced in-home treatment of their second amendment constitutional rights. The federal law prohibiting the purchasing or possession of a firearm had applied to people who had been involuntarily hospitalized. Not anymore. Now tens of thousands of people under community involuntary commitment in over 40 states, have suddenly lost one of their constitutional rights. Are we the new terrorists?
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Dr. Michael Cornwall The Esalen Connection: Fifty Years of Re-Visioning Madness and Trying to Transform the World

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December 12, 2013

When Richard Price was a young man, he experienced extreme states for which he was labeled schizophrenic and forcibly ‘treated’ with psychiatric medications, ECT, and insulin shock. He suffered from residual effects from this for the rest of his life. In 1962, Price and Michael Murphy founded the Esalen Institute on the Big Sur coast of Northern California. From its beginning, Esalen worked to create sanctuary for people who, like Price, experienced extreme states. “Esalen was Price’s revenge on the mental hospital!” says Murphy.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Photo ID Cards for “Mental Patients” Now a Reality

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October 29, 2013

In Butte County, California, Law Enforcement and NAMI have recently partnered to provide identification cards for people in the mental health system. The cards reveal the person’s psychiatric diagnosis and current medication prescriptions. This White Card project may be well-intentioned, but it makes me very uncomfortable. I believe it is a form of psychiatric profiling that could be adopted by law enforcement around the United States.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Emotions: Keys to Our Freedom

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October 10, 2013

Living in this very complex, demanding, stratified modern society has produced an epidemic of personal alienation. There is often a tragic gulf between our emotional experience and our awareness of it. 1 in 5 Americans are now taking a psychiatric medication. 1 in 4 women are now taking a psychiatric medication. All of those medications suppress, modify, or block emotion.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Psychotherapy, Recovery/Empowerment, Trauma/Distress

Dr. Michael Cornwall Does The Psychiatric Diagnosis Process Qualify as a Degradation Ceremony?

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September 7, 2013

Sociologist Harold Garfinkel, in his landmark article “Conditions For a Successful Degradation Ceremony” wrote that “Degradation ceremonies are those concerned with the alteration of total identities.” I first read this liberating article in the 1970′s as I was trying to piece …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model, Uncategorized

Dr. Michael Cornwall Why Involuntary Out-Patient Treatment Isn’t Necessary
- A First Person Account

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August 2, 2013

The last sentence in a recent New York Times article tells of the police taking a man to get his monthly Haldol injection under the involuntary treatment law. It breaks my heart to see that police-state tactics such as forced Haldol injections are understood to be the only thing that can reach some people. I know it isn’t true.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Dreams: Still the Royal Road to the Unconscious

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July 20, 2013

As a Jungian, and a blogger on Mad In America, I’ve been feeling the need to weigh in a bit from a depth psychology perspective. I rarely read about dreams, or the function of the personal or collective unconscious here. So here goes my attempt to communicate what my friend and mentor John Weir Perry shared with me, from a teaching on understanding dreams that Carl Jung had personally revealed to John in the 1940′s.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Psychosis as a Spiritual Crisis: An Opportunity For Growth

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September 25, 2012

I co-led a day long Continuing Education Training with that title last month in Oakland. Almost 100 people attended this first ever in the United States, taxpayer funded CEU training that explored the spiritual dimensions of psychosis. But it wasn’t preaching to the choir of those who are true believers in that possibility, because the majority in attendance were front line professional county mental health staff!
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Peer Respite Centers and Medication Free Madness Sanctuaries: Why We Need Them Both Very Much

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July 24, 2012

Yana Jacobs and I both served at medication free madness sanctuaries. She at Soteria House and I at I-Ward. In this television interview, Yana shares about the wonderful SAMSHA pilot project, peer respite center she got started in Santa Cruz, …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Are There Gifts In and From Our Madness That Our Culture Needs to Not Waste?

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July 13, 2012

Do we bring gifts to our family and community that are born of suffering but infused with spirit? Has our madness been in vain, or has it brought us through fiery trials that have meaning we otherwise would have missed for …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall The Icarus Project: One Very Good Reason I Sleep Better at Night!

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June 16, 2012

“You are not alone.” If you are mad, that is the Icarus Project’s bold promise to you. Every time I read it, it moves me because when I was mad, being alone was the worst aspect of it. Being all …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Our Emotions – The Sole Creators of Every Word, Voice, Symbolic Image, Bodily Movement and Thought

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June 12, 2012

The experience of hearing voices during madness, or during our “normal” and constant inner conversation that never stops, shows that we use words to attempt to express our underlying emotional state to ourselves and others. We first and foremost are …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Does Anyone Want a Genetically Modified Brain? – Anti-Psychotic Medications May Have Been Causing It To Happen All Along

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May 28, 2012

Move over outdated chemical imbalance theory, now it is claimed that genetic misregulation underlies psychiatric disease, and that psychiatric drugs themselves can fix the genetic misregulation problem. “Anti-psychotics and mood stabilizing agents are capable of promoting epigenetic modifications associated with an active transcriptional …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall The Big Chill: Psychiatric Medications Now Are on Trial For Murder

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May 16, 2012

The Canadian judge in the first North American criminal trial to find Prozac the sole cause of a murder ruled – “There is clear medical evidence that the Prozac affected his (defendant’s) behavior and judgment, thereby reducing his moral culpability.” Will …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Are Some Psychiatrists Addicted to Deference?

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May 2, 2012

One of the subtle but underlying factors that keep the great divide active between psychiatry’s medical model of human emotional suffering, and the alternative paradigm that challenges it, is the existence of a class system based on meritocracy, that accounts …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Jung’s First Dream, The Mad God Dionysus and a Madness Sanctuary called Diabasis

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April 26, 2012

With a loud piercing cry, the bare chested Native American warrior hurled his tomahawk at John Weir Perry with full force. John told me that at the last second in the dream, he caught it between both his palms just …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Should Children Have Consent Rights For Psychosurgery, ECT and Sterilization?

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April 11, 2012

“Madness!” was the vehement one word response from my friend when I told her that the Mental Health Minister of Western Australia has proposed legislation to allow children as young as twelve years old to have consent rights to receive psychosurgery, electroconvulsive therapy and/or permanent sterilization if they are …
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Dr. Michael Cornwall I Don’t Believe in Mental Illness, Do You?

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March 19, 2012

In November 2000, I anxiously stood before the gathered four hundred and fifty mental health professionals, administrators, peers and academicians and said, “Hi, I’m Michael Cornwall and I don’t believe in mental illness!”
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Eyewitness to the Ruination of a Public Mental Health System

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March 4, 2012

This blog entry is another chapter in the story of my personal odyssey as a radical therapist and human rights activist with lived experience of madness that I have been sharing on the Mad in America site. I hope it provides a meaningful look at a piece of our reform movement’s history from a ground-level perspective.
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Dr. Michael Cornwall Responding to Madness With Loving Receptivity: a Practical Guide

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February 14, 2012

In my last three blogs I posed the question- “If madness isn’t what psychiatry says it is, then what is it?” Now I’m asking- “If madness isn’t what psychiatry says it is, then how should we respond to madness?’ Here …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Community, Mind/Body, Non-drug Approaches, Recovery/Empowerment, Research, Trauma/Distress