Would embracing a slower lifestyle eliminate the need for psychiatric drugs? When I was on 7 or so psychiatric drugs, I had a near death-like experience where I went through a dark tunnel, saw a white light, and received a … Full Article →
In the film Avatar, scientists are keen to exploit the moon planet Pandora which is inhabited by 10-foot-tall blue humanoids called Na’vi. To do so they create Na’vi human hybrids called “Avatars” which are controlled from afar by genetically matched humans. When the scientists decide to destroy the eco-system of the planet to gain access to valuable minerals, war breaks out between the humans and the Na’vi. At this point the main character, Jake, who operates an Avatar, has to choose whose side he is on. Eventually Jake’s life is saved and transformed by the Tree of Souls, which the humans are trying to destroy.
Why are Avatars in the news again? The latest innovation from psychiatric research is using computer-generated avatars to help people who hear aggressive voices. Full Article →
When children do things like recoil in fear from monsters and ghosts in their darkened bedroom at night, it’s easy to see the “out of touch with reality” aspect of their experience as being closely related to the faculty that gives them their ability to play – their imagination. We help children through such challenging experiences by being with them, and by playing together, doing things like creating scary images together and then figuring out how to cope with them or laugh at them. In the process we help them explore how to create a world view that works to at least some extent and has room for joy and originality – when their imagination helps them (and maybe others) see the world in new ways. Full Article →
David Oaks, whose 1998 challenge to “check out the research for yourself” led Robert Whitaker to write Mad in America and create this website, has returned home after a long convalescence from his fall last December 1. The following video, taken May 18, shows the spirit that has infused his life and work on effulgent display.
I’ve just returned from a meeting of 17 activists self-identified as users or survivors of psychiatry, or people with psychosocial disabilities, from all over the world. Literally all over the world. An international gathering of human rights defenders that makes me proud to be among them. It was a meeting where I felt heard and acknowledged and able to fully give what I had to give – to offer it up along with everyone else’s contributions for the common deliberation. I gave all and received all in return. Full Article →
Less than six months ago I had the great fortune to start working with a small group of fellow producers who had spent a chunk of time traveling and shooting at various conferences. Interviews with notable figures in the movement. Survivor stories. A mixed bag of “Mad Media”. Immersing myself in the now 200+ hours of raw footage was like swimming in a sea of the subconscious. So I was swallowed whole by the white whale, consumed with the energy to put my still-developing abilities to the best use I could think of.
If you haven’t been labeled mentally ill by the American Psychiatric Association, you have to ask yourself what’s wrong. Perhaps you were ahead of the game: you knew not to reveal yourself to them, you knew how to avoid them, you found other social support, and if so, a big congratulations. If not, what’s wrong? Why have you conformed? Full Article →
Imagine being able to live harmoniously amongst others without fear. I cannot. Cannot imagine it even a little bit. What can be created for people in my camp? People who are sensitive and had so much trauma in childhood that life among others is highly stressful, scary and worrisome? I’m allowing myself sanctuary-time alone, quiet time, time to write… yet… will things ever be different? Will I ever find my niche in this world, where I feel safe and able, valued and worthwhile, loved, adored and comfortable? I have no idea. Full Article →
It is time for a new understanding of suicidal feelings and actions. Perhaps a more open dialogue, without fear of sirens and police and involuntary hospitalizations, would have made a difference for one young man here in Asheville last month. Perhaps more public local conversation would have saved some of the 45 lives we lost here in Buncombe County in 2010. Perhaps a more public and safe national conversation would have saved some of the 22 veterans who died from suicide every day in 2010. Full Article →
For everyone who goes on psychiatric drugs, the reason comes back to power imbalances in their personal life. Women who’s husbands “make all of the money” and have an unequal share of the power, kids who’s parents have power over them—frequently people who have less money and security, therefore less platform for authority than those around them. Mental illness is not in fact an illness but an unequal division of power and sense of security in a social group. Full Article →
Jacks McNamara is a genderqueer artist, writer, organizer, and healer. Jacks co-founded The Icarus Project and is the subject of the poetic documentary Crooked Beauty. They are the author of Inbetweenland, released by Deviant Type Press, have self-published 5 zines, and are co-author … Full Article →
Earth Day 2013 is a good time to reflect on how problems in our mental health system reflect deep flaws in “normal” conceptions of what it means to be a human being. These flawed conceptions then contribute in a critical way to the climate crisis that threatens us all. Full Article →
I hope this will be of help to people who hear voices and their friends and supporters. I also hope it will be helpful to the voices which are parts of many people’s lives. Many voices I have come across and the people that hear them are convinced that their voices are spiritual in nature. I take an agnostic position on this, and therefore endeavour to respect different spiritual understandings. My intention is not to explain all voices psychologically but to help people make peace with their voices so they can get on with their lives. Full Article →
A few months ago I had the great honor of speaking with Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, after a talk he had given locally here in Washington, DC. We spoke about eCPR and there was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. He looked deep into my eyes and said, “We are in the same line of work. We are peacemakers.” It was a profound statement that inspired me to think more about eCPR as a tool of peacemaking. Full Article →
In his book, Prayer is Good Medicine, physician and researcher Larry Dossey maintains that praying for one’s self or others can make a scientifically measurable difference in recovering from illness or trauma. It is one thing to understand such a healing intellectually; it is another to know it from experience. Such an experience came to me in the fall of 1996. Full Article →
In August 2010, my friend and fellow ‘suicide mum’ Deb Williams and I established CASPER – Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education & Research. CASPER’s goals are to provide peer support to families bereaved by suicide, to educate politicians and opinion leaders on suicide and its prevention and to support families and communities to reclaim suicide prevention from medical professionals and governments. Full Article →
My public writing has brought my mother and I closer together than we’ve been in decades. There have been disagreements. But now, my almost ninety-year-old mother tells me she reads everything I write. She recently told me that she’s glad I see things so clearly. Full Article →
Now is the time to harness our individual stories, our collective stories, to counter the negative and hateful stories painted about us in the media. We need to push back with stories of our own. Stories that give people hope. We will be filming, for the Obama administration’s campaign to encourage discussion of mental health issues, as many people as possible telling their stories of how they built a life of meaning and purpose; what helped, what hurt, and what they see as promising policy directions. Full Article →
Many of us are taught to fear the expression of strong emotions, and to hide or suppress big feelings. We have also erroneously been taught that only specially trained people or “professionals” are equipped to handle these experiences. But people knowledgeable in conventional treatment often aren’t exposed to community-based, holistic, common sense, person-to-person approaches. Many people have gained wisdom and resiliency by working through emotional distress, and it is helpful to do this with someone who understands the growth potential in these experiences. Full Article →
We have just celebrated the anniversary of the rapidly expanding global Hearing Voices Movement which was founded more than twenty-five years ago following the ground-breaking research of Professor Marius Romme and Dr Sandra Escher. Romme and Escher have advocated for a radical shift in the way we understand the phenomenon of Hearing Voices; in contrast to traditional, biomedical psychiatry which views voices as an aberrant by-product of genetic, brain and cognitive faults, their research has firmly established that voices make sense when taking into account the traumatic circumstances that frequently provoke them. Full Article →
The drumbeat for more “Risk Management” just gets louder. And nowhere is this so alarmingly evident as a new policy proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) in November 2012. Full Article →
Yesterday, Dr. Daniel Fisher emailed and asked my thoughts with regard to “recovery”. Even before I walked away from prescription-pad-only psychiatric work, others asked me about this. Other treatment providers, designated patients and family members asked what I thought they could expect to happen next and what they should do to make things better. I told them that chemical interventions are not the only, or even the essential, tool for recovery.