The Power of Relationship Versus the Power Over Another


After a recent discussion with a client and his father about his journey and the tremendous progress he has made, they both gave me permission to share their story.

I first encountered the client when he was 12 years old and he was attending an alternative school, having just being discharged from a residential facility. I was a consultant for a time to the alternative school, and was asked to meet the young man for an evaluation. He had been abandoned by his mother and endured some very traumatic experiences. However, what was most disturbing is the fact that though he had undergone situations of abuse, he said that his time at the residential faciltity was more traumatic than any of that and he was never treated there like a human being.

I listened and validated him, and we made an immediate connection. One day, he became very escalated at school, and I overheard one of the staff speaking to him in a rather aggressive way and it only fueled more escalation. I went into the room to help calm the situation. Thereafter, he and his father requested if I would be his therapist and I agreed.

I came to learn that he had been tried on 8 different psychiatric drugs and was presently on 4 when I agreed to work with him as his therapist. He had abnormal bloodwork and an immune system deficiency from the psychiatric drugs but it wasn’t  being addressed. The father stated that each time he went to see the psychiatrist, the meeting lasted only 5 minutes, medications remained the same, a few questions were asked, scripts written, and they were ignored and sent on their way.

It was not until I wrote a very concerned letter that this psychiatrist began weaning the drugs and eventually he was off of all them and the father and the young man never went back to see this psychiatrist. I continued to build on the relationship and connection with this young man, and he made remarkable progress.

From daily outbursts and conflict and much emotional turmoil and multiple medications, he progressed to no longer having any of these so called outbursts, is free from psychiatric drugs, and has been able to feel he is human once again. I broke down barriers with this young man, I did not seek to be in a position of power over him as so many had, but sought simply to be with and to understand.




Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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Dan Edmunds, EdD
Dr. Dan L. Edmunds is an existential psychoanalyst and psychotherapist in Northeastern Pennsylvania. His work has focused on drug free, relational approaches for those undergoing extreme states of mind as well as autism and developmental differences. Dr. Edmunds is the founder of the Center for Humane Psychiatry, an emancipatory movement for human rights in the mental health system. Dr. Edmunds has advocated for psycho-social approaches for those in distress that are affordable and accessible. Dr. Edmunds developed a therapeutic community project and is involved with autism acceptance and the autistic rights movement. Dr. Edmunds is the author of BEING AUTISTIC: AN APPROACH TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTANCE; THEY SAY MY CHILD HAS ADHD: DEBUNKING THE BIO-PSYCHIATRIC PARADIGM; THE MEETING OF TWO PERSONS; and MYSTICAL METAPHORS. Dr. Edmunds is a frequent speaker on critical psychology issues.


      • I’m being censored. It is not me removing these posts. Looks like I’ve rubbed the editor the wrong way by telling the truth. You could be next, so watch yourself. You won’t be seeing me commenting around here any longer. You can blame the editor Kermit Cole for his heavy-handed tactics. He’s driving people away.

        • My feeling is that you aren’t a person who would let someone run you off. I don’t know how to put this and don’t want to sound patronizing or any of that so I’m struggling here. You have really valuable insights and understanding into this mucked up mess of tryng to limit the power of Big Pharma and the quacks who try to pass themselves off as doctors. I think that MIA will be less if you quit posting. There are always ways to beat people at their own game if one just spends long enough thinknig about it.

          • I also understand that one must always be true to oneself, no matter what. Most of the time most people don’t appreciate that one person who keeps shouting that the emperor doesn’t have any damn clothes on. But someone must continue to shout the truth from their perspective.

  1. Your posts always leave me feeling sadness and disgust.

    Sadness because it often leaves me feeling sad when someone describes getting close to people who are very distressed and when enough trust develops so that the causes of someone’s distress become apparent.

    Disgust at both the causes of the distress and the way the person gets treated by the system that is supposed to be helping. A residential facility, an Alternative School and a psychiatrist, all paid professional bodies, all supposed to helping and all increasing this child’s suffering. At least the school asked for you to help them and allowed you to intervene.

  2. It prooves yet again that doctors and psychiatrists should come down from their pedestal and talk to their “patients” and their “carers” as equals and intelligent human beings. It is: they must take a step back and become human beings again. When I was growing up, our GP was a “friend” you could trust. Nowadays our GP is an overpaid, glorified administrator who hasn’t got a clue and sends people on to so-called “experts”. And it is getting worse! I am talking about Britain here. Had GPs been what they used to be, my son would have never ended in “psychiatric care”.