LIVING WITH MENTAL DIVERSITY

Will Hall, MA, DiplPW is a counselor, consultant, and community development worker in private practice with families, individuals, couples and groups. A survivor of a schizophrenia diagnosis and leader in the recovery movement, Will has taught in more than 12 countries and gained international recognition for his work with mental diversity, including coverage in the New York Times, The Guardian, and Newsweek. Will's work supports individuals, families and groups to find new ways to understand and live with altered states, different realities, voices, paranoia, mania, and "psychotic" experiences. He has a certificate in Open Dialogue from the Institute for Dialogic Practice, a Diploma in Process Work, and has studied somatic, trauma, and Jungian approaches. He has led trainings for professional staff and case supervision with psychiatrists and therapists, is co-founder of Freedom Center, past director of Portland Hearing Voices, longtime organizer with The Icarus Project, and co-founder of PracticeRecovery. Will Hosts the FM show Madness Radio and is author of The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Medications, translated into 9 languages.  He is longtime meditator and yoga practitioner, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family. www.willhall.net,  www.practicerecovery.comwww.madnessradio.net.

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August 27, 2015

Marijuana is now legal in two states, and legal for medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Polls show the majority of Americans support cannabis legalization, and more and more of the country is joining the legalization trend. As a counselor working with people diagnosed with psychosis and mental illness I am often asked about my opinion and clinical experience — as well as my personal experience — with medical cannabis.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , ,

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June 5, 2015

At the end of my talk at the American Psychiatric Association Institute on Psychiatric Services , a psychiatrist in the crowded lecture room put his hand up and posed a surprising challenge: Why was I so concerned about reforming psychiatry and ending iatrogenic harm from medications, diagnosis, and forced treatment when there are so many other issues in society to worry about?
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February 20, 2015

Again and again I am told the ‘severely mentally ill’ are impaired and incapable, not quite human. I am told the “high utilizers” and “frequent flyers” burden services because they are different than the rest of us. And when I finally do meet the people carrying that terrible, stigmatizing label of schizophrenia, what do I find? I find – a human being. A human who responds to the same listening and curiosity that I, or anyone, responds to. I find a human who is above all terrified, absolutely terrified, by some horrible trauma we may not see or understand.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Coercion, Featured Blogs, Involuntary Treatment, Legislation & Regulation, Popular

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January 30, 2015

We live in a culture bombarded by media and sped up by rapid-fire social interactions. It’s definitely useful to grab hold of a simple, short, sound-bite term, to quickly describe what we are feeling or suffering. “Depression” is such a word – it evokes and encapsulates, conjures the images of that ugly pit of despair that can drive so many to madness and suicide. Yet at the same time the words we use, strangely, become like those pens deposited in medical offices and waiting rooms around the world: ready at hand, easily found, familiar — and tied to associations, marketing and meanings we were only dimly aware were shaping how we think.
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Categorized in: Adult, Blogs, Depression, Disorders, Featured Blogs, Popular, Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

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January 13, 2015

When I was locked in a psychiatric hospital, I wasn’t able to have much of a conversation with my parents about what was going on. Phone calls were tense and filled with silence, and as I stood at the ward payphone I was so confused and frozen in fear that each call just confirmed to them how lost I was. Every day as a patient centered around the various prescriptions I was on, and like so many people suffering in a psychosis, helping me became a wait to “find the right combination of medications.”
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Categorized in: Adult, Blogs, Children and Adolescents, Disorders, Featured Blogs, Substance Abuse/Addiction, Substance Abuse/Addiction, Uncategorized

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December 31, 2014

Everyone has beliefs that seem too bizarre, illogical, or fantastic to someone else to accept. Religious views, paranormal interpretations, political convictions, interpersonal conflicts — all can put us in a category where other people consider what we think to be incomprehensible. We’ve learned to co-exist with different beliefs as one of our most cherished values of tolerance in a multicultural society. That lesson can be key for encountering the different realities that in situations where someone is being called psychotic, delusional, schizophrenic or mentally ill. Respect and support may stretch our thinking, but can be vital to recovery.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Uncategorized

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July 28, 2014

Shamans are the magician spirit healers in tribal, non-technological societies around the world. Anthropologists use the word “shamanism,” from the Tungus people of Siberia, to mean the commonalities between different traditions. Shamans find their calling through a life-threatening initiatory illness or crisis, go into visioning and trance to connect to other realities, shapeshift out of their regular identity to identify with animals, spirits, and even illnesses, and return to the ordinary world to share skills of healing and creativity. Living at the edge of society and defying conventional norms, conduct, and even gender, shamans are respected as a powerful community link to the divine.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Community, Featured Blogs, Mind/Body, Non-drug Approaches

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April 1, 2014

The Bay Area survivor and peer movement came out strong recently, pushing the Alameda Board of Supervisors to table a proposed expansion of forced outpatient commitment. AB 1421, more commonly known as Laura’s Law, says that if a court or judge decides that a person with mental health issues requires treatment, they must abide by a plan determined by a team of professionals on an outpatient basis. The law was passed in California in 2002 but is conditional on California county approval for implementation. Fueled by sensational accounts of the death of Laura Wilcox, who was killed by a man with a psychiatric diagnosis, AB 1421 holds the false promise that force and coercion are the solution to help people in emotional distress.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Coercion, Community Updates, Featured Blogs, Violence

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January 10, 2014

Many families trying to support someone in psychosis fall into the same trap professionals find themselves caught in: power struggles: “How can I make my relative change? What should I do to get them to see they are sick?” While it’s hard to argue with wanting someone to get better, control and conformity are at the heart of everything wrong with the standard psychiatric approach. The deeper families dig themselves into forcing change on their relative, the more they flounder.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Children and Adolescents, Featured Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Recovery/Empowerment

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September 21, 2013

David Cohen’s work begins to address a paradox: medication effects are not simply chemical impacts on a biological brain, but rather the complex interactions of social factors, expectation, placebo, “nocebo,” and learning. As a harm reduction approach to withdrawal emphasizes, empowerment may be the most important consideration for supporting people’s wellness.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Medication Tapering/Withdrawal, MIA Articles about Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal, MIA Blog Archives, Mind/Body, Non-drug Approaches, Psychiatric Drugs, Research, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model

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April 24, 2013

Is it really best to force someone into the hospital when they are suicidal? Do suicidal feelings plus “risk factors” really mean professionals can predict whether someone might try to kill themselves? And are suicidal feelings the symptom of a treatable illness that should include medication prescription?
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Suicide

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February 23, 2013

This is a transcript of my keynote speech at Alternatives 2012, which a Madness Radio listener recently transcribed.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Research, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model, Violence

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December 16, 2012

Is poetry the way to truly understand madness? Do rituals and music — such as Ireland’s tradition of keening — have the power to heal emotional suffering? Susan McKeown, Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter and folklorist, supported her partner through an extreme state. She began a journey to uncover intergenerational trauma in her family and in the history of her native Ireland, and was inspired to set poems about madness to music.

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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Non-drug Approaches

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December 1, 2012

In my recent Alternatives keynote I talked about mental health issues and our unjust prisons, including the shameful racism of the criminal justice system and the urgent need to end the so called War On Drugs. Many people have approached …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Coercion, Featured Blogs, Industry, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model

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November 29, 2012

There’s a widespread belief in psychiatric and mental health circles that human experience can be reduced to the biology of brain chemistry — the “medical model.” But this is just the tip of the iceberg: our whole society is in the grips of a faddish pseudo-science of “neuromarketing,” “neuropolitics” “neurotheology,” and ‘neuroeconomics.”
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Genetics, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model

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November 8, 2012

The phrase “medication tapering” is being used more and more as the preferred term for the psychiatric medication withdrawal or coming off process. Based on my years of work educating many people around coming off medications — clients, support groups, and in workshops and trainings — I think that term is misleading, and let me explain why.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Medication Tapering/Withdrawal, MIA Articles about Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal, MIA Blog Archives, Psychiatric Drugs

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October 26, 2012

What if people struggling with madness could explore their emotions in a supportive sanctuary? Do frightening ‘psychotic’ experiences have the power to transform and heal? Is breakdown also breakthrough? Michael Cornwall became a therapist after surviving his own crisis — without medication or psychiatric treatment. For more than 30 years he has worked in the tradition of Carl Jung and R.D. Laing to support people to go through psychotic states in medication-free community settings, including John Weir Perry’s Diabasis House in the 1970s.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs

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October 16, 2012

How did the APA talk go? Overall a success– the audio went viral on the internet, and the talk itself was so crowded we had to move to a larger room — more than 70 psychiatrists and behavioral healthcare professionals attended. Afterwards many stepped up to shake my hand and congratulate me: I was told by two people I was a gift to the conference, asked to present at a Grand Rounds, encouraged to do a TED talk, thanked for my compassionate response to a question about forced treatment, and invited to do more trainings in the future. I even met several psychiatrists who are Madness Radio listeners. Psychiatry is clearly not a monolithic profession and many in it are beginning to think differently.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Industry, Non-drug Approaches, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model

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July 27, 2012

The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, written by Will Hall and published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center five years ago, is now available in a revised edition! This Guide can be downloaded for free on …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Medication Tapering/Withdrawal, Non-drug Approaches, Popular, Psychiatric Drugs, Research

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July 5, 2012

Hearing distressing voices is highly correlated with traumatic experiences, and many people report that their first experience with distressing voices occurs after a trauma. Making the connection can be a vital step in the recovery process. In this interview with …
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Categorized in: Adult, Blogs, Disorders, Hearing Voices, Psychiatric Drugs, Schizophrenia and Psychosis

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June 30, 2012

I was invited to give a Keynote Address at the 2012 Alternatives Conference in Portland Oregon, and I’m collecting your input on what I should say — I’m crowd sourcing my Keynote! Alternatives is a federally funded annual SAMHSA conference that brings …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Community, Featured Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model

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May 21, 2012

First Aired 5-1-2012 What is it like for a prisoner diagnosed with mental illness? Should we have more mental health treatment in prison — or should we work to abolish our prison system? Daniel Hazen spent three years in prison …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Coercion, Psychiatric Drugs

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April 15, 2012

It was a long haul from being a psychiatric patient in 1992 to graduating with a masters in counseling in 2011. I flunked out of my first attempt to get a graduate degree because I was in a school that …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Psychotherapy

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March 19, 2012

Professor Sharna Olfman has researched and written extensively about children in society, including education and sexuality, and her perspective on so-called bipolar disorder is insightful and deserves wide recognition. Sharna discusses the social and economic pressures that are driving parents …
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Categorized in: Bipolar, Bipolar, Blogs, Children and Adolescents, Disorders

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February 1, 2012

Grainne was courageous to do this interview: I was struck by her strong love for John and her very deep sensitivity to the violence she has witnessed him undergo in the name of treatment. Let us all lend our hearts and passion to the international campaign to free John Hunt and to ensure that no one ever has to suffer the abuses he has suffered.
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Categorized in: Blogs