Inner Fire: Healing and Recovery Without Meds

For five years, I and others worked to create a residential healing community in Brookline, Vermont, where people could recover from debilitating and traumatic life experiences, which often lead to addiction and mental health challenges, without the use of psychotropic medications. We welcomed our first six seekers to a yearlong, therapeutic and farm-based, day program last September, and we now can report on what we have learned during this time.
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Pilot Study Adapts Open Dialogue for US Health Care

In an article for Psychiatric Services, psychiatrist Christopher Gordon and his colleagues report on the results of a one-year feasibility study attempting to implement Open Dialogue approaches to crisis intervention to the treatment of first-episode psychosis in the US. Their trial program was successful, with positive clinical outcomes, improved functioning, and significant changes in symptoms, leading the researchers to suggest that states consider adopting to Open Dialogue model.

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Study Finds Improved Functioning for ‘Schizophrenia’ Without Antipsychotics

Long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs is currently considered the standard treatment for patients diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia.’ A new study challenges this practice, however. The results, published this month in Psychological Medicine, reveal that patients who were not taking antipsychotic drugs had significantly higher levels of functioning than medicated patients.

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Most People with Common ‘Mental Disorders’ Get Better Without Treatment, Study Finds

A new study suggests that most people diagnosed with depressive, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders recover without treatment within a year of diagnosis. “This study further supports the argument that meeting diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder does not necessarily indicate a need for mental health treatment,” the researchers, led by Jitender Sareen from the University of Manitoba, write.

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Neuroplasticity and How the Brain Heals

For The Lancet, Jules Morgan reviews a new book, “The Brain’s Way of Healing,” by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge. Doidge challenges current understandings of how the brain works and presents neuroplasticity as a means by which cognitive and motor functions can be regained once damaged.  “If neuroplasticity is now accepted in neuroscience,” he writes, “why are these clinical approaches that make use of it not more widely available and mainstream?”

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Experts Debate Expansion of Assisted Dying Legislation to Psychiatric Patients

Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that adults with a “grievous and irremediable” condition have a right to medically assisted suicide. In an effort to legislate this right, a parliamentary committee was formed that suggested extending this definition to nonterminal medical conditions, including psychiatric disorders. In response, the Canadian Medical Association Journal printed an editorial by bioethics and public health experts Scott Kim and Tudo Lemmens. Kim and Lemmens argue that extending assisted dying laws to include patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders “will put many vulnerable and stigmatized people at risk.”

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Yogurt Cooperative in Spain Provides a Different Form of Help: Meaningful Work

Every one of the Fageda Cooperative’s 300 workers – from milking shed to packing plant – will tell you that this cooperative makes the finest yogurt in all Spain, if not in the world. Last year, they made 1.4 million yogurts every week. In Catalonia, only Nestle and Danone sell more. But Fageda isn’t in business to make yogurt. For over 30 years, its sole mission has been to provide fully-paid, flexible employment to anyone from the region diagnosed with a mental health problem but who still wants to work.
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European Expert Group Calls for Investment in Community Based Services

The European Commission (EC) recently published its 2016 country-specific recommendations (CSRs) to the Member States. Following positive statements on the way social care and support should be provided in the last few years by the European Commission, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care (EEG) welcomes several recommendations promoting quality care and support and access to employment and inclusive education for disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless, the overall focus on austerity will be detrimental to the transition to community-based services in Europe if no safeguards are made available for public investment in this area.

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What Would a Trauma-Informed Society Look Like?

Imagine if we, as a society, started recognizing trauma, pain, grief, fear, the need for connection and understanding, and oppression without defensiveness or denial. What if, hypothetically, we saw the signs in people who were “defiant,” “withdrawn,” “oppositional,” “depressed,” “manic,” or otherwise as desperate pleas to have their needs met, and stopped telling them they were sick for doing so? What would a society that actually encouraged expression of emotion, compassion, and empathy look like?
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Eat Breathe Thrive: Chelsea Roff on Eating Disorders, Trauma, and Healing with Yoga and Community Supports

Chelsea Roff is the Founder and Director of Eat Breathe Thrive (EBT), a non-profit with an inspired mission to bring yoga, mindfulness, and community support to people struggling with negative body image and disordered eating. I reached out to Chelsea to learn more about her life and organization, which she writes, “…is like AA for people with food and body image issues, plus yoga and meditation.” Chelsea shared her journey from life as a patient to yogi, author, and innovative community organizer. With her permission, you can find this interview below.
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Effective Tactics for the “Rehumanizing Resistance”: Real Politics 101, Part Two

In Part Two, I discuss strategy and tactics for the Rehumanizing Resistance, including: (1) Traditional, Personal, and Underground Politics; (2) Direct Action and Confrontation: When It Can and Cannot Succeed (3) Organizing: Taking Advantage of the Current Cultural Climate; (4) Alliances and Coalitions; and (5) Film and Media. In Part One, I discussed how the Resistance has been winning scientific battles but losing the war against the expansion of influence of First-Order Psychiatry (which includes American Psychiatric Association and Big Pharma), and how this is due in large part to the First-Order’s effective political tactics and the Resistance’s political naivety.
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Please Join Groundbreaking Research on Psychiatric Medications

Psychiatric medications such as antipsychotics and antidepressants account for a huge number of published research studies. This existing research, however, is almost exclusively constrained within a medical model approach, purporting to evaluate medications as treatment for biological brain disorders, and designing studies accordingly. The disease, and how medications presumably affect it, is at the center — with pharmaceutical company financial interests not far behind. That paradigm is starting to change.
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In Praise of Patience as a Prescription for Trauma

For Aeon, Samira Thomas writes that while resilience is attracting a lot of attention from psychology, patience in an underexplored and undervalued virtue in the face of suffering. “Unlike resilience, which implies returning to an original shape, patience suggests change and allows the possibility of transformation as a means of overcoming difficulties,” she writes. “It is a simultaneous act of defiance and tenderness, a complex existence that gently breaks barriers.”

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Mindfulness Therapy May Be More Effective Without Antidepressants

While an estimated 74-percent of patients diagnosed with major depression receive a prescription for an antidepressant, new research reveals that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may be most helpful when drugs are not used. The study, published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found that the participants in a randomized control trial for MBCT who showed the greatest improvement were those who had not taken antidepressants.

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“New Course on ‘Making Sense’ of Trauma, Creating a Coherent Narrative”

PsychAlive is releasing a new blog and e-course on “Making Sense of Your Life,” with psychologists Lisa Firestone and Dan Siegel. They draw upon the latest neurobiological research, attachment theory and clinical experience to guide participants through the process of creating a coherent narrative around past traumas.

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In Honor of Fear and Pain

Our use of antidepressants has turned single-episode struggles that recovered 85% of the time within one year, never to recur, into chronic and debilitating disorders that hold patients hostage in their own arrested development. But, If you are in the hole of pain, here’s what I have to say to you. It’s what I say to my patients, and what I tell myself in times of struggle.
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Do We Really Need Mental Health Professionals?

Professionals across the Western world, from a range of disciplines, earn their livings by offering services to reduce the misery and suffering of the people who seek their help. Do these paid helpers represent a fundamental force for healing, facilitating the recovery journeys of people with mental health problems, or are they a substantial part of the problem by maintaining our modestly effective and often damaging system?
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Truth and Reconciliation: An Evening of Sharing and Healing

On Wednesday, March 20, 2016, Rethinking Psychiatry collaborated with The M.O.M.S. Movement and The Icarus Project to host our first Truth and Reconciliation Circle for Receivers and Givers of Psychiatric and Mental Health Services. In this three-hour event, both receivers and givers of psychiatric and mental health services expressed their thoughts and feelings in a structured, facilitated environment.
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Psych Patients Who Resist Stigma Do Better

A new study in press in the Journal of Schizophrenia Research finds that patients who actively resist the negative stigma associated with mental health diagnoses may have better outcomes. According to the researcher's meta-analysis of previous studies, stigma resistance is related to reduced symptoms and improved functioning, self-efficacy, quality of life, recovery, and hope.

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Group Mindfulness Shows Promise Reducing Depression Associated with Hearing Voices

A new study out of Kings College London found that twelve sessions of a group mindfulness-based therapy relieved distress associated with hearing voices while reducing depression over the long-term. The person-based cognitive therapy (PBCT) intervention had significant effects on depression, voice distress, voice controllability and overall recovery.

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“New Counseling Toolkit Helps Boys and Girls Club Address Kids’ Real-Life Issues”

The staff at Minneapolis’ Southside Village Boys and Girls Club are implementing  a specially targeted free interactive counseling toolkit designed by a team of volunteers at the American Counseling Association (ACA). “We have kids from everywhere,” said Stephanie Siegel, Southside Village program director. “A partnership like this is good for a lot of staff that doesn’t have that training in mental health. It helps them understand where kids are coming from and why they may be acting the way they are.”

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The Psychiatry Sandcastle Continues to Crumble

Psychiatry would long since have gone the way of phrenology and mesmerism but for the financial support it receives from the pharmaceutical industry. But the truth has a way of trickling out. Here are five recent stories that buck the psychiatry-friendly stance that has characterized the mainstream media for at least the past 50 years.
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“California Courts Step Up Oversight of Psychotropic Medication Use in Foster Care”

The Mercury News reports that California’s judicial council is taking major steps to address the rampant use of psychiatric drugs in foster care. The council has added, “a slate of new safeguards to make juvenile courts here the country’s most careful and inquisitive monitors of psychiatric care for abused and neglected children.”

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Dear Self-proclaimed Progressives, Liberals and Humanitarians: You’ve Really Messed This One Up

When it comes to psychiatric diagnosis, I can be almost certain that anyone outside of my immediate field of work just won’t ‘get it,’ no matter where they stand on anything else. And not only won’t they get it; they will often actively be one of the unwitting oppressive masses, either through their inaction or worse.
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Finding Clarity Through Clutter

For the last three years, I have been working with people, labeled “hoarders,” who have become overwhelmed by their possessions in their homes. This has been some of the most interesting, challenging and thought-provoking work I have ever done. It is also an area that, I think, highlights all of the issues that challenge us in helping people who feel overwhelmed, for whatever reason.
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