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Mad in America, which was founded as a webzine in 2011, is now operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. This provides us with both a new challenge, and this is the exciting part, a chance to dream big. The challenge is to raise the money to pursue our bigger visions for the future.
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A New York Times Debate: Is the ADHD Diagnosis Helpful or Harmful?

I urge parents, doctors, educators and everyone concerned with the well-being of children to take a look at the debate on ADHD presented in the Times. The series of articles makes it clear that the hard line separating ADHD-like behavior from normal childhood reactions to environmental stress or normal developmental phases is beginning to soften. The number of ADHD diagnoses in the United Sates has exploded by 300 percent since 1983.
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The CHRUSP Call to Action, and Its Significance

Various instruments of the United Nations have commented on forced treatment, or involuntary confinement, or both (for details, see Burstow, 2015a), and a number of truly critical additions to international law have materialized. Arguably, the most significant of these is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. What makes it so significant? For one thing, it is because this landmark convention puts forward nothing less than a total ban on both involuntary treatment and the involuntary confinement of people who have broken no laws.
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Breaking News! The “Cause” of “Schizophrenia” Finally “Discovered”!(?)

On January 27, 2016, a study1 was published online in the prestigious journal Nature that touted the possibility of discovering some potential biological origins of an “illness” called “schizophrenia” Subsequently, headlines across the world beamed excited proclamations of the latest breakthrough to occur in psychiatric research. The problem is, there is nothing profound about this study at all and, in fact, it is one of the least profound studies to emerge in the last few years on the topic of “schizophrenia.” It ignores the robust support that has accumulated that undermines the genetic disease model of “mental illness” and the categorical understanding of experiences falling under the umbrella term “schizophrenia.”
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The Hearing Voices App

I have been part of a project team, based at the University of Chester, developing the Hearing Voices App, which is aimed at health and social care professionals to enhance their understanding of the experience of hearing voices. The App may also be of interest and help to people who hear voices and their family members, friends and colleagues.
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Hello World! An American Nut Challenges Trump About Status of “Bull Goose Loony.” We Are #Nuts4 Global Revolution!

Europe is laughing at us. You, the whole world, laughs at us. With Trump and Sarah Palin dominating the news, and with gun-toting militants taking over an Oregon bird sanctuary, hell, we are laughing at ourselves! We do look crazy. The real question is, “What kind of nuts are we?”
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Further Evidence of the Adverse Effects of Antidepressants, and Why These Have Taken so Long to be Confirmed

When the idea that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might make people feel suicidal first started to be discussed, I admit I was sceptical. It didn’t seem to me the drugs had much effect at all, and I couldn’t understand how a chemical substance could produce a specific thought. Because these effects did not show up in randomised controlled trials, they were dismissed and few efforts were made to study them properly. Then some large meta-analyses started to find an association between the use of modern antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in children.
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Inflammation and Psychosis

Many posts on this website have cited studies linking stressful life events as a causal factor in the emergence of psychosis. What science requires is a mechanism connecting psychological stressors with functional changes that drive behavior. Recent studies connect psychosis with inflammation in the brain. Thus, the studies provide a mechanism for how trauma can increase the emergence of psychosis
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The Future of Mental Health Interview Series, Part II

The Future of Mental Health interview series continues with interviews this past week with James Maddux (on positive clinical psychology), Lucy Johnstone (on critical psychiatry and psychological formulation), Michael Cornwall (on being present to “madness”), Monica Cassani (on beyond meds: everything matters), Tim Carey (on parenting skills and family mental health) and Sharna Olfman (on the science and pseudoscience of children’s mental health. Here some highlights…
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The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health: Finding Our Way in a World of Conflicting Messages

Every day we read, on the one hand, another compelling headline touting “news” of a “scientific breakthrough” that claims to have discovered the “cause” of “mental illness,” while another headline tells of researchers uncovering egregious falsification in the clinical trials of the pharmaceutical industry. The list goes on and on. Though many people report that they find medications helpful when they are in an extreme state (mostly to help them sleep ), given that there is as yet no scientific evidence confirming a specific disease/illness process underlying “mental illness,” and evidence that most if not all of the perceived effect is comparable to placebo, the fact remains that any positive effect of these meds are based on theory, while their harms are well-established.
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Why Screening Everyone for Depression is a Terrible Idea

Too many people have come to view themselves as defective and powerless to change their life situations, when this may not be the case. Conversely, individual treatment with drugs or psychotherapy may cause individuals to reframe their problems in terms of neurochemistry or thinking styles – internalizing a belief that they are the problem, when their problems exist in a wider sociopolitical milieu.
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Postpartum Depression Screening: Prevention or Problem?

What does screening mean, in the ever more prevalent field of Psychiatry? Psychiatric screening is not a biological metric that can be assumed to predict the future in a linear manner. It’s a series of subjective questions. It is, in short, a survey.
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Rethinking Psychiatry Teaches about Despair, Resilience, and the Great Turning

Rethinking Psychiatry is an independent, grassroots group in Portland, Oregon that advocates for a paradigm shift in mental health care. On January 20, we hosted a film and discussion by activist and artist Barbara Ford. The subject was “Despair and Resilience: How to Face this Mess We’re in Without Giving Up.” Ford also showed film called Joanna Macy and the Great Turning, featuring philosopher, writer, and activist Joanna Macy.
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What Disability Benefit Trends Tell Us About Psychiatric Treatments and the Economy

If antidepressants are effective, and people with depression are more likely to be prescribed them, then you would expect the consequences of depression to start to lessen. One of those consequences, according to government statistics, is being out of work. But what we see is quite the opposite: Increasing use of antidepressants correlates with increased numbers of people with depression who are out of work and claiming benefits, and increasingly on a long-term basis. And this is at a time when disability due to other medical conditions has fallen.
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Me, Allen Frances, and Climbing Out of a Pigeonhole

Four weeks ago, after I wrote a blog about a study that concluded there was no good evidence that antipsychotics improved long-term outcomes for people diagnosed with schizophrenia, I was cc’d on an email that had been sent to a number of “thought leaders” about what I had written. At least as I read the email, it put me into the usual pigeonhole for critics of psychiatric drugs: I apparently was globally “against” medications, and I had displayed a type of simplistic “categorical” thinking. All of this led to my having an email exchange with Allen Frances, and his laying out, in his opinion, the considerable “collateral damage” my writings had done.
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My Diagnosis of ADHD and the Downfall That Followed

A simple, one-time visit to an unfamiliar counselor resulted in my diagnosis of ADHD. That same visit started my avalanche of drug abuse. I was 19 years old when I was falsely diagnosed with ADHD, and it forever changed my life.
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Anxiety: The Price We Pay for Consciousness

In his NY Times article “A Drug to Cure Fear,” Richard Friedman noted: “It has been an article of faith in neuroscience and psychiatry that, once formed, emotional memories are permanent.” This has not been a principle of these disciplines, including clinical psychology, for many years. Consolidation-reconsolidation-extinction models have been around for some time now, applied in particular to persons suffering from traumatic memories; e.g., Holocaust survivors, war and genocide survivors, etc.
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The Genetics of Schizophrenia: A Left Brain Theory about a Right Brain Deficit in a Left Brain World

In recent months, two teams of researchers in the UK and the US published complementary findings about the epigenetic origins of schizophrenia that have scientific communities who indulge in ‘genetic conspiracy theories’ abuzz. While these results are intriguing, and no doubt involve pathbreaking research methodologies, this line of thought represents a decontextualized understanding both of the symptoms that are typically associated with schizophrenia, and their causes.
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The Future of Mental Health Interview Series

Human beings can be helped in all sorts of ways: with better schools, cleaner water, less tyranny, more peace, and fairer institutions. Movements of the last hundred years have given names to these different aspirations for betterment: the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, clean air and clean water initiatives, and so on. Now another sort of “helping” is desperately needed.
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Suicidal Tendencies, Part I: I’m Suicidal Because I’m Mentally Ill Because I’m Suicidal

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard “Research has found that about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness.” Here’s what I believe it means in far too many instances: It’s an ‘out.’ It’s an easy answer that absolves us all of blame. If someone has a ‘sickness in the brain,’ then it doesn’t have to be our fault or even necessarily our concern. We can ignore homelessness, racism, transphobia, poverty, homophobia, misogyny, joblessness, lack of good healthcare, the impact of war and violence, and so many other societal ills with impunity because the reason that person killed themselves is because they were ‘mentally ill.’
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At the Intersection Between Black Pride and Mad Pride

The Grand Jury indictment on January 21st of a Georgia policeman for the felony murder of Anthony Hill brought national attention to the intersection of Black Pride and Mad Pride. Hill, who was black and a veteran, was murdered in March 2015 while in an extreme state or “mental health crisis.” He was naked and clearly unarmed when shot by a white policeman. The indictment brings attention to the failure of mental health care system in America.
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How I’ve Found Nonviolent Communication Helpful, Part 2; In the Mental Health System

Health systems are extremely hierarchical and, rather than empathy, the dominant approach to people’s difficulties is based on top-down management practices which assume experts know what is best for people. I am hopeful that we can help people within the mental health system and other parts of society to strengthen their empathic ways of relating. However, I’ve noticed how easy it is for me to get self-righteous about mental health workers who are more ‘medical’ or ‘expert-lead’ in their approach. I realise that if I really want to help change things for the better I, too, will need to understand people who seem to be my opponents.
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Madness and the Family: What Helps, and What Makes Things Worse?

Families are often very important for people encountering severe mental and emotional difficulties. But how can family members really know what is helpful, and what is likely to make things worse for the person having problems? Similarly, for those who want to help families, how can they know what will really be helpful for those families, and what will make things worse?
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Are “Psychiatric Disorders” Brain Diseases?

A “diagnosis of schizophrenia” is based on two or more of five criteria. Each of these behaviors (or lack of behaviors) can be passed on from generation to generation through normal social learning, without any assumption of a genetically-mediated pathology. Genes transmit biological structure. Structure has an impact on behavior, obviously, but there are always multiple intervening factors.
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Schizophrenia and Genetics: A Closer Look at the Evidence

“The substantial hereditary component in schizophrenia,” a pair of researchers wrote in 1993, “is surely one of the two or three best-established facts in psychiatry.” But is it really? For mainstream psychiatry and psychiatric genetics, schizophrenia is “a severe mental disorder with a lifetime risk of about 1%, characterized by hallucinations, delusions and cognitive deficits, with heritability estimated at up to 80%,” or a “highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorder of complex genetic etiology.” Many commentators have challenged these claims, and some have challenged the concept of schizophrenia itself.
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