Entrepreneurship Is The Way Out of Our Mess

Corinna West
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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― Richard Buckminster Fuller.

This is why entrepreneurship is our way out of the mental health mess. It is very hard to get someone to compare an option that exists everywhere in the US with an option that only exists in one region of Finland or in 8 peer run crisis alternatives in the US or in a research study that happened in the 1960’s and was controversial back then. Business people think massive. Social entrepreneur coaches like the Ashoka foundation say that your business has to help a million people before it is making a significant social change. Social entrepreneurs are people building businesses whose goal is to make change. Our primary goal is to make social improvements instead of making money.

Edward Duff's statement on mental health reform from the Mental Health Outcomes conference in Denver this year.
Edward Duff’s statement on mental health reform from the Mental Health Outcomes conference in Denver this year. “Take their funding stream.”

There are  other important approaches to advocacy, like changing the existing system or making the existing system illegal, and these are valid approaches. However, both of these approaches will be MUCH more productive if there is a big, strong, data proven, transparent, non-money grubbing, Whitaker informed, ethical, humane, peer provided viable alternative. I’m busy making Wellness Wordworks and Connect Power a force to take down big pharma, but  20 other peer business playing in this same market would be way stronger.

So we need YOU.

How to Be an Entrepreneur:

You can be an entrepreneur. I think many of us that get mental health labels are natural entrepreneurs. I know that I myself became self-employed because I simply didn’t have any ability at all to suck up to bosses who weren’t both knowlegable and trustworthy. I was fired from almost every job I ever had as an adult until I thought I’d found a fit as a peer specialist. But then they made a less competent person my boss and that was all she wrote. I know that on April 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm when I was ushered out of my last employer’s building with a possibility of 18 months of unemployment income coming, I never felt better. So I’ve made it happen.

Simply look up your local small business resource center, and most cities have one. They will have some free classes you can attend. Or you can get books on starting a business from your library. You can create a Twitter account for free in 5 minutes and follow me @PeerWordworks and then follow all the entrepreneurial coaches that I follow. You can read websites and blogs that talk about building a business that is big enough to expand across the whole country. Very few people who ever start a business know much about business – they just want to grow a powerful idea they have.

At a Global Women’s Entrepreneur Forum that I attended this year, they said, “We don’t want you to create a million dollar business……We want you to create a billion dollar business.”

When we do this, we will make the existing system obselete.

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Corinna West
Wellness Wordworks: Corinna West writes about the business she founded, which coordinates people suffering from emotional distress to provide instant peer support for one another in exchange for helping anyone interested in expanding their online presence.

91 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not just some people’s natural aversion to having a boss that is worthy of mention, it is worth mentioning too, that once someone is labeled, with a serious enough label, they are a pariah in society, and the choices for employment come down to:

    1. Hide your label and psychiatric history in shame, and make your way in the world of the non-labled, working a normal job, burying your past, hiding the truth about what society does to people it labels ‘mentally ill’, and of course, making your living, getting ahead in this world, and leave in the dust and forget, the millions of your brothers and sisters whose lives are destroyed by the very same experiences you hide and cover up in your own past.

    2. Be a parasite on the taxpayers and go on welfare ‘disability’.

    3. Start your own business.

    Stark choices. Indeed.

    This is the way it is.

    Oh I forgot 4.

    Be a minimally paid bought and paid for by the state professional mental patient working in the public mental health system as a so called ‘peer’. Be prepared to not have any freedom of speech, and be prepared to be fired the minute you doubt biological psychiatry’s creation story. Be prepared to stand by while your overseers continue the status quo and use you as a co-opted excuse to claim they are giving the labeled people a say in a system of fraud, quackery and human rights violations that you’ll be able to do nothing about, because your very livelihood depends on your day job at the state hospital. Rub shoulders and share a kitchen with violent, human rights abusing psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, and pretend they don’t look at you like you’re a lesser biological being behind your back.

    Pretend they don’t secretly pity you and hope their kids don’t ‘get the biological disease you have’.

    • Dr. Moffic,

      I don’t see the comments as a “way to bash psychiatry yet again”. I think those of us who have experienced the dark side of psychiatry has a right to be angry at the system. I think our anger is appropriately placed against the system that abused us. I think, as long as there isn’t a complete revolution of the system then those who represent the system should have enough self insight to understand why we might despise the system you represent.

      A good comparison is with those who were sexually abused by priests in the Catholic church. Their anger is appropriately directed at the priests who did the abuse, at the supervisors who covered it up, and at the organization that not only allowed it to happen, but encouraged the cover up. The same system who now acts as if they are victimized by the righteous anger coming their direction.

      So, Dr Moffic, our anger at psychiatry is justified, appropriate and righteous. If, as a representative of that system it makes you uncomfortable then I suggest you try a little self insight. (and if self insight is too difficult a task, maybe you want to try the toxins you prescribe for others?) Because, frankly, if you dont get it that the anger is justified then you are suffering from a delusional disorder of some type!

      Malene

      • Malene, you suggest, “…maybe you want to try the toxins you prescribe for others?”

        FYI:

        “Then how about the time when I sampled Thorazine to see how it made patients feel? Not a pleasant experience, I must tell you. There’s easier ways to learn empathy. I curtailed my self-experimentation after this. Yet, I think this experience may have turned out to be beneficial in other ways. It may be one of the reasons that I’ve always refrained from treating myself with any sort of medication, nor any family members…”

        That is a direct quote from Dr. Moffic’s PsychiatricTimes.com blog, posted 27 April, 2012, under the title, “What is the Best Memory From My Years as a Resident?”

        http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blog/moffic/content/article/10168/2066125

        • The comment about trying psychiatric medications were a snark based on the lack of self insight Dr. Moffic shows when he defends the system.

          I don’t actually care if Dr. Moffic has tried those nasty medications himself – I care that he starts to understand that the system he represents is intrinsically violent and abusive.

          Incidentally – Dr. Moffic, and any else who wants to defend the psychiatric system, I suggest you read about cognitive dissonance. Then spend ohh maybe an hour to try and consider why I would refer to that theory in this conversation.
          Malene

      • Malene,

        I want to thank you for posting this succinct assessment that mirrors my feelings as well.

        I haven’t commented here in a while because of my interaction with a psychiatrist blogger (not Dr. Moffic) whose responses to me were sarcastic, manipulative and condescending. Talk about cognitive dissonance–toxic speech coming from someone in a so-called healing profession directed at people who are recovering from trauma. That is just wrong which should be clear to anyone with an ounce of empathy.

        I found overall condescending and full of contempt for the people who had been harmed by her profession.

        • Oops Edit: Last paragraph previous comment: Meant to say–

          Overall, I found her blogs and responses condescending, evasive, dismissive and full of contempt for the people who have been harmed by her profession. The vibe was/is truly nauseating. Perhaps some of the docs who post here would benefit from reading Judith Herman’s research on trauma and recovery before they lay hands on the keyboard again.

          The true irony is that those psychiatrists who post here on Bob Whitaker’s site to prove how they “get it” and are different from the rest only serve to prove how they are very much the same.

          Anyway—I’m out of here, but best wishes to everyone here who is on the road to recovery. Hang in there, have faith in yourself and your ability to heal. Keep your brain safe. 32.3 mg of the “Z” and counting down!

          Cheers,

          Ruby

        • Hey Ruby,

          I really found that the psychiatrists who posts here seems conflicted. I think they actually might begin to see some of Bob Whitaker’s points and that is why they get involved here. However, it seems to me that they are so entrenched in attitudes that are intrinsically damaging, and I find that they seem completely and totally oblivious to the fact. Unfortunately, the change we need in the psychiatric system is not a small adjustment. It is not even just a change in how we use medications.

          We need a drastic and complete change in attitudes and understanding. We need a completely new system.

          It is a good point actually, because as I read Corinna’s post she advocated making the change by being the change. That is a good point, and I love it.

          We actually desperately need the professionals, the psychiatrists – which is one of the reasons I think we get so upset. We can’t do it without them. Unfortunately, we also can’t do it with them as long as they remain so ignorant to the damage they do. Like the Catholic priests they can’t plead innocence. They can’t claim “but I don’t do it”. They are part of the system that does it, and that makes them culpable.

          Even more so, their attitudes that they are so extremely unaware of. Those attitudes cut those they are trying to help to shreds. Dr. Steingard is another example of a psychiatrist here who seems completely unaware of how intrinsically damaging her attitudes are. I suspect she can’t allow herself to see it.

          That said, I suspect most of them got in to psychiatry because they wanted to help. Its gotta be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow when we tell them that they do more harm than good. And if they have put in considerable years in to their profession then it is probably almost impossible to reach them with that message. It becomes a typical situation of cognitive dissonance, they are completely unable to process the consequences if they truly heard us.

          Cognitive dissonance theory tells us that they must find some other explanation, and what is easier than to blame those that are the weakest.

          There are also some typical powers of thought reform that are at work I think. It is funny because Dr. Moffic seems aware of some of those types of influence in his writing. He refers to Lifton’s works several times. However, he seems equally oblivious to how it pertains to him and his work. To me it is absolutely obvious and clear as day.

          I understand it is infuriating. Clearly, I got furious at Dr. Moffic. Trust me, what I posted was the edited out, watered down version. What my fingers actually wanted to say would have been removed – and I respect that. I think it is important to remember that we can’t really come here to heal. We must do that some other place. If we render ourselves too vulnerable on a board like this then we get hurt. We can only come here to stand up for what we believe in. This might be healing on it’s own, but that can’t be the main point.

          • Hey Malene,

            Okay–really my last comment.;) I actually didn’t come here to be healed or counseled or consoled by anyone in the psychiatric profession–only to speak my truth in response to a blog that I found to be not truthful and as a result offensive and potentially damaging to those who are vulnerable.

            I speak only for myself, but at this point, I don’t need an M.D. for anything other than to refill the dreaded prescription so I don’t go through withdrawal as I finish with the titration of this toxic med.

            I now do my own research and make my own decisions about how to repair my health and thus far I’m managing far better than I ever did taking advice from a psychiatrist. If that is offensive to those who make their living via the prescription pad, that’s their issue to manage. My focus is on rebuilding my life and making up for stolen time the best way I now how and part of that is steering clear of those whose belief systems, attitudes and communications do harm. As the saying goes–been there, got the t-shirt.

          • Malene got everything right-on except for 2 statements:

            “We actually desperately need the professionals, the psychiatrists – which is one of the reasons I think we get so upset.” We don’t need our abusers!

            She also mentioned that we “can’t come here to heal,” but in actuality the Truth Sets us Free and Knowledge is Power! So we can come here to heal!

            Truth and Knowledge are Here! Wisdom is Here!

    • Psychiatric Times

      Occupy Medicine: Reclaiming Our Lost Leadership

      By Steve Moffic

      “Psychiatry is a strange kind of business. We’ve given out our products for free, then watched as other businesses—whether they be other types of clinicians or insurance companies—take over what we do.
      Care to try to reclaim more of that 99%? Let us try to reclaim some of our lost leadership. Let us reclaim the upcoming DSM-5 as ours. Let us reclaim the subtle complexity of psychopharmacology and draw the line that other prescribers should have just one strike until we are called in for relief. Let us make clear that combined medication and psychotherapy in one clinician, that is, the psychiatrist, is usually cheaper and more effective for many patients.
      However, there is a big obstacle. Psychiatrists, with our Freudian history of being introverted listeners, tend to caring and compassion, but passively. Maybe even at times and places, passive-aggressively. So, we’ve tended to go our own way, adapted to changes in our field, and complained to one another.

      Thankfully, the anti-psychiatry movement has died down.

      In an unexpected way, there’s more of a pro-psychiatry movement becoming embedded in our systems. These are our patient consumers and peer specialists. Could they be recruited as our advance force for Occupy Medicine? Who knows better? Most naturally our patients and their families know what the illnesses have caused them to lose and what they need to recover.

      Fittingly, this year’s APA meeting will be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where our country’s Declaration of Independence from Britain was developed and signed. Maybe we psychiatrists should resolve in this New Year to develop a new declaration of our land.”

      He says thankfully the anti-psychiatry movement has died down….

      • Eeeewww! I am not territory. I am not a commodity. I will never be a peer collaborator with Big Med. The essential point is that psychiatry is a BUSINESS selling PRODUCTS. Compassion is not a product. If you are selling your compassion, then you are just another kind of whore.

      • Mr Moffit is talking about an advance force of “patient consumers and peer specialists:”

        “These are our patient consumers and peer specialists. Could they be recruited as our advance force for Occupy Medicine?”

        The Nazi’s were able to recruit Jews to pile their brethren into the crematoriums! So there should be no problem here!

        I hadn’t wanted to offend anyone working as a peer counselor! Keep up your valiant efforts until the system is revolutionized!

    • Steven, I find your comment extremely petty and offensive. Are you intentionally being obtuse and willfully blind? Regardless, of your intent, the tone is judgmental. You seem to be implying that you feel injured when people who have been grievously harmed by psychiatry openly express themselves—How dare you be anything less than supportive of people who feel the need to give voice their pain and rage about being harmed by their experiences with psychiatry! Shame on you for suggesting a victim should censor their comments out of consideration of people who belong to a group of professionals that are directly responsible for having caused their pain and anguish! BTW when you and your fellow colleagues bash those who consider themselves psychiatric survivors and people who have recovered after a diagnosis of schizophrenia, the sites you do it on are for ‘professionals only.’ So, why are you offended? Is it lack of ability to control? The sites you and your fellow professionals use to bash psychiatric survivors by belittling their valid claims of harm; maligning their character and speculating on the nature and relevancy of their advocacy; DO NOT ALLOW those whom are discussed with such disdain to respond. So you and your colleagues unimpeded validate one another’s disrespectful attitudes, and by so doing, allow mistaken assumptions misinterpretations, and personal biases to become further entrenched; which negatively affects your ability to understand or help your patients! The contrast in how sites which only allow psychiatric professionals to participate in the discussion threads and this one is an excellent example of HOW Stigma is taught and reinforced in the psychiatric profession. It also clearly illustrates that the STIGMA of a psychiatric diagnosis is real and is inextricably attached to the diagnosis itself; and always has been…

    • I agree with you, do comments have to bash psychiatry but Dr. Moffic, I couldn’t find the reference to psychiatry bashing that you were referring to in anonymous reply. She/he used the adjective ‘violent’ to describe some psychiatrists. Is that wrong? I identify as the mother of a consumer who has been harmed deeply by psychiatry. To me, the harm inflicted is a form of violence because it represents abuse of power. Perhaps I read the comment differently. I sincerely seek the path of non-violence and therefore, I try to be aware of my speech while acknowledging that survivors of human rights abuses should be given a wide latitude to express rage and pain.

      Corinne, I love you, your brand, philosophy, and your blog. I hope that my loved one (the family member with the diagnosis, label)
      can achieve even a small degree of what you have. I am an entrepreneur myself.

    • It’s called open minds, open communication, and good manners, Ted. Being angry at psychiatry does not mean you have to be angry at Dr. Moffic. He is interesting and interested. Treat him and people like him in the system the way you want to be treated, without labels, prejudice, and hostility. They might listen to you that way.

      • Ken,

        I am perplexed by your post.

        In reading Dr. Moffic’s various posts, he has taken any comment critical of psychiatry as vitriol even when people have been totally respectful. The only comments he would be happy with in my opinion are ones that praise psychiatry.

        He also has been antagonistic such as accusing Dwayne of practicing self medicine when he was doing nothing of the sort.

        I agree that being angry at psychiatry doesn’t give us the right to flame individual psychiatrists. But frankly, I am getting very tired of having legitimate criticism of psychiatry being taken as hostility.

        AA

    • Hi Ted, you’re right on target with that question. Under Whitaker’s policy for comments post, you’ll read many questions like yours in the comment section.

      If there isn’t a place at Mad In America for ppl to let their hair down about the ills and harms of psychiatry then where? I was also shocked when Whitaker had Dr Moffic blog here, after all he writes for Psychiatric Times where he warned its readers (doctors) of the Occupy the APA protest you spoke at…

      • It’s one thing to address the ills and harms of psychiatry; there is certainly room for that, and we have never removed a post for doing this. We have removed posts for outright incivility, derision, name-calling, etc. There is plenty of room to question a person’s assumptions, conclusions, even beliefs without being rude.
        In our efforts to find new people to blog, we have spoken to some very well-known people who would likely contribute substantially to the conversation here who declined to do it because of the level of rancor they had seen. This is what we have been trying to avoid. And I am talking about people whose positions would likely be embraced here, were they to be heard.
        At the same time we don’t want a “preaching to the choir” dynamic here. No blog should be viewed as monolithic; all of them are open to comment, question, criticism, etc. We are very conscious of the fact that we are trying to address problems that are inextricable from peoples’ experiences of not having been heard; in families, at work, in “treatment;” and so we really want people to feel free to speak, and we really, really, truly do not wish to silence anyone.
        But that only works if we can somehow ask for and expect a minimum level of civility.
        We’re basically trying to create an “Open Dialogue” space here; where everyone can engage in an exchange that may lead to real change. I do believe that Open Dialogue also asks for a modicum of civility.
        This is a problem across the web, apparently; nobody has figured out how to solve the problem of incivility crowding out other dialogue other than to simply ban posters who repeatedly violate the guidelines. We are very conscious of the fact that everybody who has violated the civility guideline has also contributed meaningfully and substantially elsewhere, so we feel a responsibility not to ban people lightly. There have been some moments at which it was tempting, to be sure, but we took a breath and reminded ourselves that we really have to hold to a higher standard, at the same time that we ask others to.
        I met Will Hall about ten years ago, when I attended a Freedom Center meeting (at Bob’s suggestion). I was running a group home at the time and wanted to open a Soteria-style project; I was picked to pieces because I was perceived as coming from the mainstream, and not to be a peer. I told Will that I didn’t know how anything could be accomplished if everyone they approached to do such a project got the same reception, and I remain impressed by his response to this day; “we’re trying to create a space for people who haven’t been heard, so if that means a project doesn’t happen, then that’s how it has to be.”
        I think of this every time we find a comment that goes too far. I like to think that if people know they can be heard, they don’t have to scream or get “violent.” We’ve been discussing ways to make sure people feel truly empowered to comment on what is written here.
        Perhaps it can be said that one reason we have bloggers that people don’t agree with is for the very purpose of having bloggers that they don’t agree with. We’d welcome more who augment as well, but a lively conversation is a lively conversation.
        But we also need to maintain a level of civility that will encourage others to write, or it will be a website that serves a small handful of people who just want to shout the loudest, whether or not anyone’s listening.

        • Wow! That’s too bad these folks didn’t feel they could post here. I really didn’t think it was that bad, but I understand this is subjective.

          Maybe these folks could contribute in another way? Do we want to have posts where comments are turned “off” for that particular post? I know it runs a little contrary to what we’re trying to accomplish but just brainstorming some solutions.

          • It was pretty bad for a while. Not so bad since we went to registration, but the volume has dropped off considerably too. We’re hoping to attract more bloggers, as well as more commenters.

          • There has been a lot of criticism leveled about administrative minutia in discussion threads on the Mad in America site. e.g. people who disapprove of administrative decisions made as to ground rules for comments and choice of bloggers. I for one am turned off by much of it, and find it detracts from the issues and experiences shared in blog posts. An obvious solution for people who disapprove of administrative decisions, and/or feel they slighted by administrative decisions; are also capable of starting a site which encompasses their ideals. Surely starting a site which encompasses the ideals espoused by Mad in America critics is a plausible solution? It seems that doing so would be more productive than continuing to dissect and criticize the decisions disapproved of. The same criticisms being repetitively leveled are not very productive and tend to detract from any positive that exists. The principles which form the basis of the administrative decisions that are considered onerous and repetitively criticized are worthy of being respected; even if they are not approved of. Given the long-term experience with blogging and participating in various online forums, this seems a more productive way to deal with what critics believe is lacking on this site.

        • Kermit, you said, “And I am talking about people whose positions would likely be embraced here, were they to be heard.”

          If that’s the case, then if they wanted to write here they would, without the dramatics of a pre-complaint about the comment section. People write at HuffPo, Slate and other places and can take the public heat that goes with being outspoken, so in my opinion, those complaints are meaningless—and their opinions remain to themselves. Game playing.

          There’s been other health blogs (one in particular) where the comment section was lively (more than ever seen here), full of diverse convo that allowed discussion; the ones who complained the most to the author via email were doctors.

          Not saying you’ve heard from doctors, just saying.

          I also wanted to say that the comment Moffic complained about in this thread at the beginning is not in anyway bothersome to me, or probably to anyone else. If I didn’t read that comment, how would I know what “Anonymous” felt? I appreciate hearing from all people, and the inter-discussion started by Moffic in this thread about the comments, in my opinion ruin the discussion and that was totally unnecessary. This is my opinion, but these types of comments by doctors attempting to control and say how ppl here should write, think and feel is exactly why I don’t comment. I only signed up to discuss the NAMI posts, because I have an opinion that is so long running abt that group that I have written about it for years. I bring a transparency accountability discussion to the table based on my years and years of observations in the system as a parent and watching the dysfunctional system not work. There is a lot of red tape none of us can control, which is why posts like Corinna’s are important, for her ideas to be able to be written down without the flack from ppl in the system like doctors. I have noticed there really has not been an engaging convo here about her post, and I do think it’s because Moffic chimed in w negative tones and shut everyone up. That is my opinion.

          • Yes; a lot of what needs to be ferreted out here has to do with the dynamics of communication between people in authority (doctors, website editors) and people seeking to avail themselves of the opportunity to express themselves, etc. It is intrinsic to the mission here, so; not simple.
            As such, civil communication is a good starting point. There are a lot of hot buttons.

          • Hi Kermit–the bottom line here is “Mad In America” same as “MindFreedom” for an example, at first, (I think)appealed to those who were/are part of that “movement”, possibly harmed by doctors, meds or the basic med-based paradigm for psych care. What a relief, an oasis! many I presume thought! a place where voices can be heard and not shot down like a B-52 forced injection in a psych ward! No more gurneys, no more oppression–a place of safety to share.

            I know I am not the only one who was shocked Whitaker brought in the very doctor(s)who promote that paradigm via their own practices to write here. I know I am not alone in that. I have heard from other mental health advocates who no longer comment here because of the doctor Moffic continuation, and I thought I should toss that in here for consideration. (I’ve heard from some of the more outspoken commenters that make me look like milk toast)I think I came here to hear them, not docs where I can read what they really think at places like Psychiatric Times.

          • Well, this website is a project underway. I know that Bob wants to have as large a tent as possible. That said, he is also cognizant of the need for radical change; so it would not be prudent to judge based on any one blogger. Any help in bringing in more people would be very welcome.

          • The books started with looking at the existing evidence base, and Bob’s work has been at least in part a process of finding ways to present that evidence base back to the medical profession. He has been working at ways to be heard, and so I believe he wants to keep that dialogue underway. This is, in part, why I spend so much time looking through medical journals for new research that can be seen in support of non-medical (or at least more “holistic”) approaches. It is about having something to put on the table when challenged for evidence; while there is room for a lot of perspectives, there are times when a bit of hard science can contribute significantly if it’s used right.
            I’ll say again; we never removed a comment because of WHAT it was saying; only because of how it was saying it, and only when it really went over the line.

          • One more thing; sometimes when a blog was going up, we knew it would invite harsh response. We thought that that would be part of the process, and part of people feeling heard, which seemed like a fine thing. It is the quality of the dialogue moving forward that matters, not any one perspective.
            In my experience in clinical work, when I’ve been able to keep the conversation moving, it generally succeeded in moving past a reductive medical framework and into a more inclusive, “holistic” one, even when that seemed very unlikely at the outset. In fact, I’ve seen that happen often enough, even in very scary situations, and I’ve seen enough situations move from a purely “psychiatric” framework through to one in which the person walked away, sans diagnosis or medication, to a full life – even after being told that this would never happen – that I am also intrigued to see if that can happen here.
            When it’s happened, it’s happened because I managed to keep my temper under control, and to foster dialogue with all involved. Eventually the psychiatric part of the conversation would fade away. It generally happened better for me if I wasn’t trying to “win.”

        • Kermit,

          I appreciate you taking the time to outline the thoughts here. I admire Mr. Whitakers desire to reach the medical community with his message, and respect that is why we have psychiatrist’s here. I am also grateful that my at times snarky, irritable or even outright self righteously angry posts have not been removed. After all, if we can reach the psychiatrists we might have the biggest chances of reform.

          Incidentally, I have a story I might be interested in seeing posted here. Where do I go with that?

    • When voter registration, freedom rides, etc in the civil right movement began, there were uncomfortable dialogues between people of different races working to end segregation. Using this as a metaphor, I think this website is a nexus for people from different cultures to have a dialogue.

  2. regarding
    1. Hide your label and psychiatric history in shame,
    2. A)Be a parasite on the taxpayers and go on welfare ‘disability’.
    3. Start your own business.

    I got a 2 B) Be a parasite on the taxpayers and go on welfare ‘disability’. Work for free as in do volunteer work. I clean public parks.

    I would never start my own business because people are crazy. They say one thing, but mean another. The agreement has to be in writing, as in legal. Then if they don’t pay, you have to go to court.
    If they lose, they appeal the court decision effectively delaying justice.
    I have been waiting since November 2007. It is all rigged.
    And when I say “it is rigged” it fulfills my psychiatric diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

  3. “This is why entrepreneurship is our way out of the mental health mess. It is very hard to get someone to compare an option that exists everywhere in the US with an option that only exists in one region of Finland or in 8 peer run crisis alternatives in the US or in a research study that happened in the 1960′s and was controversial back then. Business people think massive. Social entrepreneur coaches like the Ashoka foundation say that your business has to help a million people before it is making a significant social change. Social entrepreneurs are people building businesses whose goal is to make change. Our primary goal is to make social improvements instead of making money.”

    Is it NOT the great American sense of entrepreneurship, that got you into this mess?

    I’ll ask the question again’ “why are Americans going to Finland to study a model of family therapy born in their own backyard?”

    Bowen family systems theory is a theory of human behavior that views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. It is the nature of a family that its members are intensely connected emotionally. Often people feel distant or disconnected from their families, but this is more feeling than fact. Family members so profoundly affect each other’s thoughts, feelings, and actions that it often seems as if people are living under the same “emotional skin.” People solicit each other’s attention, approval, and support and react to each other’s needs, expectations, and distress. The connectedness and reactivity make the functioning of family members interdependent. A change in one person’s functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of others. Families differ somewhat in the degree of interdependence, but it is always present to some degree.

    The emotional interdependence presumably evolved to promote the cohesiveness and cooperation families require to protect, shelter, and feed their members. Heightened tension, however, can intensify these processes that promote unity and teamwork, and this can lead to problems. When family members get anxious, the anxiety can escalate by spreading infectiously among them. As anxiety goes up, the emotional connectedness of family members becomes more stressful than comforting. Eventually, one or more members feel overwhelmed, isolated, or out of control.

    These are the people who accommodate the most to reduce tension in others. It is a reciprocal interaction. For example, a person takes too much responsibility for the distress of others in relationship to their unrealistic expectations of him. The one accommodating the most literally “absorbs” anxiety and thus is the family member most vulnerable to problems such as depression, alcoholism, affairs, or physical illness.

    Dr. Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist, originated this theory and its eight interlocking concepts. He formulated the theory by using systems thinking to integrate knowledge of the human species as a product of evolution and knowledge from family research. A core assumption is that an emotional system that evolved over several billion years governs human relationship systems. People have a “thinking brain,” language, a complex psychology and culture, but people still do all the ordinary things other forms of life do. The emotional system affects most human activity and is the principal driving force in the development of clinical problems. Knowledge of how the emotional system operates in one’s family, work, and social systems reveals new and more effective options for solving problems in each of these areas.

    Triangles
    Differentiation of Self
    Nuclear Family Emotional System
    Family Projection Process
    Multigenerational Transmission Process
    Emotional Cutoff
    Sibling Position
    Societal Emotional Process

    http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html

    All these brilliant American mind’s, & you need to go to Finland to re-learn this stuff?

    • I’ll ask the question again’ “why are Americans going to Finland to study a model of family therapy born in their own backyard?”

      David,
      I have two responses to your question. The first is try to tell parents that maybe the family environment has something to do with the reason their relative is struggling, and it seems like the vast majority of them refuse to consider this possibility, preferring to think that “mental illness” is a biochemical, therefore, no-fault brain disorder. NAMI was born in the American back yard, too, let’s not forget. Second, Family Constellation Therapy, popularized by a German, Bert Hellinger, is very popular in Europe. I suspect that more Europeans are aware of FCT than Americans are aware of Bowen Systems. FCT and Bowen are pretty similar, as far as I can tell. But, it’s all for naught if the relatives won’t buy into it, and NAMI so far has done an excellent job of convincing people that Bowen and FCT type therapies involve blame.

      • Hi Rossa! I always enjoy your comments! Wish I had more time to visit this site and get to know people like you personally! I’m balancing two jobs, being a mom/grandma, you know how it is!! This site periodically disturbs me, uplifts, me, and gives me an outlet for pain/rage. I respect your knowledge of what is out there.

  4. I found this page through the UK’s Speak Out Against Psychiatry page. I’m a UK based freelance journalist and am breaking the US sailing feature writing market. I have been entrepreneur for the last 7 years since getting a Master’s in journalism.

    There are many dreams about being your own boss but I would really argue that it is not at all for the fainthearted. It is brutally tough – a lot more in America than in the Uk where we get state subsidy if we take less than $18000 a year in profit.

    You don’t get unlimited days off. You have to work for every bean you eat. You will work longer hours at times for rates lower than the national minimum wage – or maximum working time.

    Some industries expect reputation. I earn $500 an article here in the UK but to break the US market was taking $75.

    Job security? You’re only as good as your last commission. No second goes for failure.

    I’m making a success of myself after 7 years of hard, unremitting graft where I have pushed myself over the edge mentally several times to achieve a goal I don’t always expect to achieve.

    So is entrepreneurship a good way forward for a psychiatric patient? In many ways if you’re tough enough to beat schizophrenia then you are one of the toughest people on this planet. Expect periods of ill health if you go into it because though you are a Titan already – you must push titanically.

    • Yes, being an entrepreneur is not all peaches and tea. (My husband talks in his sleep and “Let’s not try peaches and tea,” is one of his funnier stories about it.)

      Pros: Choose your own work site, choose your schedule, choose your customers/partners, work from your passions, being your own boss. It’s the new normal – 25% of Americans are doing some sort of freelance/contracting/entrepreneurship.

      Cons: Less access to health care (in US), less regular income, having to supervise employees, learning how to do accounting and business skills, being your own boss.

      It also helps to avoid market areas that are shrinking or in crisis like photography, journalism, big cars, oil discovery, conventional farming, drugging mental patients, big pharma, etc.

      Growing market areas are software design, website development, phone applications, peer provided mental health care, real mental health solutions, organic farming, social entrepreneurship, social messaging, wellness techniques, community collaboration, art and creativity, etc.

    • I wouldn’t recommend entrepreneurship for somebody who identifies as a “psychiatric patient”. — “Psychiatric patient” is almost a full-time and often life-long career in itself, isn’t it? — I wouldn’t hesitate though to recommend it for somebody who’s rejected this identification, even if they actually did experience crisis. Some of the toughest people on this planet, indeed. You may want to read “Rethinking Madness” by Paris Williams.

  5. Thanks, Ken.

    If more of the comments were with your kindness, maybe we’d get somewhere. I’m left wondering, too, what the site is for? Thinking about improvements? No! Bashing psychiatry and psychiatrists, yes! But anger goes only so far. Try forgiveness sometimes; it’s healthier and leads onward.

    And, I’ll say it again, Duane and whoever else is recommending how to withdraw from medications is just about practicing medicine, but without the license. As much as commenters scour the literature on medication, some follow-up is needed to be published about what happens to these people who take that advice. Who knows? Maybe psychiatrists will learn something.

    • follow up – try MIND Making Sense of Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs – http://www.mind.org.uk/help/medical_and_alternative_care/making_sense_of_coming_off_psychiatric_drugs

      A mind report says people who come off without medical advice do as well as those who get medical advice (makes sense to me, most Dr’s have no idea how to help and actively advice staying on them). This pamphlet was based on that report and resulted in MIND (UK mental health charity) changing it’s advice. It now advices to go it alone if you want, ask for medical advice is you want, research shows it makes little difference – license or not.

      I hope a psychiatrists or two is reading and learns something from the work MIND did, so far not many have.

      I think what makes a difference is organised campaigning and that calls forth many people with many different attitudes: the angry, the raging, sensible calm people, the timid but determined, the people with and without diagnosis who turn up to demonstrations, the social entrepreneurs who start businesses that offer humane help like Corinna, the peer supporters who ask awkward questions in staff meetings, the survivors/service users who ask awkward questions in meetings with commissioners of services, the friends of people given inadequate care and dangerous treatments who write scathing letters to the local papers, the people who custard pie psychiatrists who force meds on people (please someone, do it soon), the members of the critical psychiatry network in the UK who use academic articles to challenge the drug company propaganda.

      All are needed: I welcome all of them, no matter if they be raging at psychiatry or professing forgiveness. It is the taking of action that matters.

      I hope this website in some way promotes all of this and more.

      • here is the original MIND report: http://www.comingoff.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=50

        conclusion from the report:

        Whether the doctor was involved made little difference to whether or not an individual was successful in coming off. These results challenge the assumption that, people should not attempt to come off psychiatric drugs without consulting their doctor and that doctors know better than their patients whether they can safely come off medications.

        Benefits of coming off

        People who succeeded in coming off and staying off their drugs were frequently enthusiastic about the benefits, which encompassed a vast range of feeling and functioning. A third of people who succeeded felt they were able to use their minds better, being more alert, better able to concentrate or improved memory. A similar number mentioned having their lives back, and feeling more alive or human. Other benefits included; taking back power and control over their lives; no longer experiencing the adverse effects of medication; or knowing they could manage without drugs.

    • First off all, my apologies to Corrina for taking this topic off thread but I had to respond to this.

      Dr. Moffic, I say this with total respect and not for the purposes of flaming. If someone was raped, would you demand they forgive the abuser? I don’t think you would.

      But yet, you are asking people who feel they have been chemically raped by psychiatry to forgive their abusers.

      Why is it so hard for you to understand that people have been greatly traumatized by psychiatry and have understandable anger? That doesn’t seem to be a problem with the other psychiatrists who have blogged on this site but yet you want everyone to utter psychiatry’s praises.

      You seem to have forgotten a basic concept. When you tell someone not to be angry who is furious, that is like telling someone not to look at the pink elephant. It doesn’t work.

      I also find your comments interesting because when a relative was an avid feminist, she was told that this movement was essentially made up of angry woman. It just seem like a protest movement is hit with the “a” word as a way of discrediting them instead of listening to very legitimate points.

      If psychiatrists really want to to do studies on people who have tapered off of meds, all they have to do is google withdrawal boards. It is not that hard Dr. Moffic.

      Since you keep emphasizing this followup, how come you’re not doing it or finding people who are willing to do it?

      Back to regularly scheduled programming.

      • Hear hear.

        I also believe that it is sensible when talking with the oppressed to listen and try to understand their experience before launching in with your own experience and opinions. In this case the oppressed are those who are damaged by psychiatry. That does not mean one has to agree but to try and understand first.

        I quite like the way the comments ramble on different topics vaguely related to the article they are supposed to be commenting on. It creates some kind of conversation, some kind of community. It is also what I would expect from a relatively unmoderated medium.

        Perhaps the website could have some more editorial pieces commenting on the main themes that are occurring in the pieces being published and the comments on them and the style they are being written in to encourage some kind of reflection on the emerging community by all the contributors: the people who write the articles and the people who write the comments.

    • Dr. Moffic,

      And I say again, your lack of self insight is really quite astounding. The system you want to defend is often highly abusive. Those of us who posts from anger has been damaged within that system. Actual, long term damage. Remember first do no harm? Harm was done! You have no right what-so-ever to tell us how to approach talking with those who represents an abusive system. It is time for some humility from the Dr’s that harmed us.

      We don’t need nice little improvements, slight adjustments in the system. We need a revolution. A couple of revolutionary giants come to mind – Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi. Now, those two giants were non-violent, but if you read their writing – they were ANGRY. It was a healthy anger, an anger that sparked real change. It was a righteous anger.

      Well, Dr. Moffic, I am angry, pissed, furious, enraged at the treatment I got by the system you represent. If you want to try and defend it, then I am sorry, you become one of those who abused me. I will get over the anger eventually I am sure. But never, ever expect me to sing kumbahya with those who abuse others. Forgiveness can only truly be offered when the person who did wrong takes responsibility and genuinely asks for it. Otherwise, we can overcome the anger, eventually let it go, but forgiveness? Not So Much.

      Dr. Moffic, if you honestly want to learn how to improve the system you defend then I suggest you first set out to learn from those who were harmed by the system. That means you need to set aside the defense of the system completely. You can’t defend abusiveness.

      Otherwise, well at best, you are simply a cog in the system. A brain washed pawn with your prescription pad. Again, I suggest you look in to cognitive dissonance as a theory. It applies. At worst, you are knowingly making a solid living abusing others.

      Again, I will compare the United States Psychiatric system with the Catholic church. Sure, there are good priests out there, priests who doesn’t molest young children. Those priests have to realize that if they took steps to hide what happened then they are responsible. And in the end, the organization they represent did some real horrors. They have to be part of taking responsibility for the horrors perpetrated by their organization – even if they didn’t themselves do anything wrong.

      Well, Dr. Moffic, if you want to be someone who is not an abuser you need some of that same self insight and understanding into the system you are part of.

      And yes, you might have the humility to understand and accept some of the anger coming your way.

      Malene

    • Ohh, and Dr. Moffic, in regards to your comments about practicing medicine without a license. I suggest a nice little doze of humility. (If humility is something you don’t think is needed for you then maybe we can find a nice large needle, hold you down and stick it in your butt).

      First of all Dr. Moffic, MD does not stand for medical deity – even though many MD’s seem to think so. You are not God’s.

      I personally went off every single one of those nasty medications that were forced down my throat in the hospital. I did it without the supervision of a doctor.

      I knew myself and my body enough to know that what I had been given was far out ridiculous. Incidentally, three psychiatrists have later agreed with me on that judgment.

      Let’s start to have some respect for those who actually have to live with the effect of the medications, shall we? They know a lot better what is right for their bodies than you do – in spite of your fancy degree.

      Malene

    • Dr. Moffic,

      Re: “And, I’ll say it again, Duane and whoever else is recommending how to withdraw from medications is just about practicing medicine, but without the license.”

      My comment:

      I ask you to find ONE TIME, ONE TIME on this site where I have recommended HOW to withdraw from psychiatric drugs!

      On the Shrink Rap blog, the subject came up, a long time ago, and I briefly mentioned the 10 percent rule that Dr. Peter Breggin recommends. This was done in context of suggesting that many people get off these drugs too fast, and are injured by coming off too fast… This injury takes place because many of you psychiatrists have no clue.

      I have said that there is “no such thing as too slow, only too fast.”

      I have been blogging and commenting on many blogs for about seven years. I’ve read the “recommendations” of others on drug withdrawal, but I have not made any, other than the two comments mentioned above.

      Again, on my site, there are links on how to safely and slowly taper off drugs, and most importantly, a warning by Dr. Peter Breggin that this should be done with “clinical support”.

      Read his book, ‘Your Drug May be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications’… You may learn something. It’s listed toward the bottom on this page-

      http://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/warning/

      And stop the false accustations!

      Duane

        • LOL, Now, that is convenient. Poor little itty bitty psychiatrist shouldn’t have to digest all this anger. He can afford a nice long vacation somewhere gorgeous where he doesn’t have to consider the lives he has hurt. Or, those who will hold him responsible for his actions.

        • Corinna,

          I apologize for the rant, but Dr. Moffic keeps insisiting that I’m “practicing medicine”, and I felt the need to defend myself against these false accusations.

          Re: Entrepeneurship

          I find it sad that so many people who have been given pscyhiatric labels are not working, and I look forward to the day when more people steer-clear of the conventional psychiatric system (labels, drugs, ECT, etc), and get the skills, training, education, work experience to do whatever they set their minds on doing.

          I believe that work is the best of all therapies. (whenever someone is able to work, ie, not too injured from conventional treatment)

          Duane

        • Apparently this comment can stand as a legitimate expression of anger, yet my comment expressing anger at “adolescent” emotionaliity and backed up by a real life example of its practice and the damage done, is stepping over the “civility” definition, defined by the website owners, who are of coarse deeply concerned about a better future for mental health?

          Are there insider & outsider double standards operating here?

          Is there a Buddy system at work, just as there is in any group of human beings as the group stabilizes into a hierarchical structure of emotional functioning?

          As I’ve pointed out in a “private” non-transparent email, I do not post Murray Bowen’s brilliant and fearless critique of the human condition for my own self-promotion.

          I ask people to debate honestly and openly, just how much we resist this kind of self-awareness.

          As I’ve tried to point out, there will be no paradigm shift until we face up to the way we really function?

          Until we get past the facade of our own self-serving rationalizations?

      • I recommend that anyone who wants to get off psychiatric drugs read Dr. Peter Breggin’s book.

        Does that make me guilty of “practicing medicine without a license”?

        I certainly don’t think so, especially when he recommends “clinical support” in the book!

        You should read the book, Dr. Moffic… as should every practicing psychiatrist (or recently retired one)!

        The ONLY problem that I have heard is that his “10 percent” at a time reduction can be too fast… Although, he recommends not letting anyone push a person too fast!

        Which is what the vast majority of psychiatrist do, when they simply look at half-lives of their drugs, and “taper” FAR TOO QUICKLY…like bats outta hell!

        Duane

    • Dr. Moffic:

      I agree with your comments about the need for kindness and forgiveness but it is taking every fiber of my being to remain in the same room as my daughter’s current psychiatrist (she is in a state hospital) Yes, my well being requires that I seek the path of forgiveness but it is not as easy to forgive someone as one would think; I strive to see the humanity in everyone; mental health workers are human beings with flaws like myself but mental health care workers who damage people by forcibly medicating/restraining/secluding/shocking etc and do not acknowledge their abuse; I am not ready to forgive someone who is not conscious of their transgressions.

      My daughter’s psychiatrist typically displays poor listening skills, some of the worst I have ever observed in someone in a ‘helping’ profession. He seems incapable or unwilling to digress from a pre determined script that is based on a medical/biological diagnosis and treatment model of psychosis. He gives the usual lecture about the need for my daughter to remain on potentially harmful medication for life and his exposure to stories of survivors/consumers appears to be severely limited to Saks book: The Center Cannot hold. My daughter has tried to come off her medications with mixed results: some would say with ‘disastrous results’ but I like to dwell on her positive growth, so I maintain with mixed results.

      There is so little access to alternative approaches and choices in the mental health system for individuals like my daughter who are unjustly committed/institutionalized and forcibly medicated; for them to get support tapering safely off their medications, their chances of finding a medical provider to oversee this arduous painful withdrawal process, are one in a million because no doctor wants to be liable for not providing the ‘standard of care’ that we all have been brainwashed to believe is the best because of 50 years of corrupt research and marketing.
      It is no wonder that peers are turning to one another to help taper off safely from their medications there is an obvious demand for services there, but few providers who are willing to stick their neck out to address the harmful ramiifications of their profession and do something proactive about it.

      Most doctors strike me has having had good intentions originally when they entered medical school assuming that becoming a doctor provided a way to achieve worldly success while being in a ‘noble’ profession. But they strike me as professionals who are uniquely challenged by and susceptible to the lure of status, money, etc. At least in the legal profession, one finds attorneys who provide pro bono services. This is rarely the case in the medical profession, especially pschiatry. The profession seems to have become a culture of greed.You know, Jonas Salk refused to patent his cure for polio. Sadly, there are few medical researchers and doctors of his caliber anymore.

      I am glad you are visiting this community and doing so puts you in the rare category of open minded professionals, and I urge you to develop a thick skin. Our children have taken much graver abuse than you will ever have to endure verbally. Whereas you can walk away and never visit this site again, our children who are committed by the state, must face their abusers again and again every day they wake up in an institution of ‘healing.’

  6. Again, what happened to the discussion at hand which would be discussing Corinna’s post? Dr.Moffic’s rant over who should say what in the Mad In America comment section took it off course. In the comment above this one, Moffic singles out Duane Sherry, an advocate parent of a son harmed by psych meds, he never recommends anyone withdraws from meds!!

    Not one person I have read recommends removing meds. Moffic’s accussations are abt Duane Sherry are defamatory.

    Allostrata who comments here and runs the support group Surviving ADs doesn’t say go off meds either. Moffic, you are off base. Do you have a comment about Corinna’s post? and is this what you meant by enjoying retirement? attacking the vulnerable people at Mad In America?

  7. I agree that social entrepreneurs can make a difference. Credit unions are one example of how an ethical service provider that serves local communities.

    I am a member of a social enterprise in the UK that has been stagnant for a year because we did not have the expertise or confidence to apply for and get grants. We would need the grants to pay for our services as neither mainstream services or service users would pay for us even though they want us. We are now learning that skill after finding a relevant mentor. So it takes a knowledge of how to help people in emotional distress, business skills and drive to be successful.

    We are very good at helping people in emotional distress, though that is not our main aim, but our business skills are lacking. We use theatre as a consultancy tool to help service users get more of what they want: eg help them negotiate with service providers. To do that we need to form trusting relationships with service users, ie people in emotional distress. Forming trusting relationships is key to helping people in emotional distress, no matter what the symptoms are. We do this extraordinarily well and need to do this in order to find out what service users want. This is why both service providers and service users want what we can offer.

    However, as I said in a previous comment, social entrepreneurs tend to take off once there is a market. I don’t know how it works in the USA but in the UK services are either from the National Health Service, ie the state, or from charities who on the whole toe the line of mainstream psychiatry.

    I think it needs the pie throwers and protests from people like Mind Freedom followed up with Mr Whittaker and others addressing legislators and commissioners of services before social entrepreneurs offering humane services can take off, because the mindset of the service commissioner and perhaps the consumer needs to change before the market can be created.

    I may be wrong, and if I am then I’d like to hear about successful examples that have managed to serve a large community, as large as the Open Dialogue service in Western Lapland for example – or maybe a quarter that number? So a service that serves a thousand or so people perhaps. Because that would be a serious challenge to mainstream psychiatry.

    So although I admire Corrina, and what I have read of her service (it sounds really interesting and something I have bought up in meetings in the UK with a service provider), I still think it is organised protest that is what will bring about the changes we need.

    • I, too, have always admired Jonah’s comments; they have been civil, rational, and thoughtful, as you say. There was just one small exchange between three commenters at the very beginning of the comment section of a new blogger’s post that had become uniformly derisive and seemed to be squelching the development of a conversation. One of the participants in that exchange has expressed regret for it. Since the removal of the comments, there has been a fuller discussion, with some perhaps enlightening points made on both sides. Whether that would have happened had we not removed the comments, we can’t know, which is regrettable.
      As I said; I do respect the level of Jonah’s comments. In fact, I had recently had an exchange with him in which I invited him to take his writing further, and submit it as an op-ed or possibly in some other category. So I am sad that the fact that we have stated that we will hold the line on civility, and that this means we must occasionally enforce that line, becomes the problem that it does. We believe that unbridled derision and disdain are not a foundation on which dialogue can be built. We are all susceptible to it when discussing things we’re passionate about. But that energy, channeled instead into a cogent statement of the points of disagreement, will go further toward creating the foundation for actual change. It may not be as satisfying in the short run, but it is what we are trying to invite here. It is not meant to be a dis on any individual.
      We have chosen to not go another way that we could have to get a handle on this; we do not hold comments for approval, as some websites do. In fact, we do not screen blogs either: bloggers post them. I look them over for spelling and formatting when I happen to see them, and occasionally point out when something just doesn’t make sense, but I generally don’t say anything about content.
      Until recently; someone submitted a blog that I thought for sure would invite a firestorm. It seemed the writer was unaware of how and why this was true, so for the first time I decided to point it out (since it was someone who needed me to post it for them). I saw no possible benefit to anyone from an unanticipated firestorm, so I suggested some changes that I thought might make it lead to a discussion, rather than derision. So far the blogger has declined to take this further.
      So, I’m saying; the change we’re hoping for is not easy, on any level. But I know this website started with Bob’s heartfelt intention to bring about actual change. I know this for a fact, because it’s the reason I signed on, immediately and completely, when he asked me. It is because I have seen him do remarkable things by being both well-informed AND polite, even when speaking to people whose viewpoints I found infuriating.
      So when we ask for civility, I feel we are asking for that quality of Bob’s that, more than anything, inspired me to say yes to the opportunity to help out with the project that started when he saw that there was something fishy in the field of psychiatry.

      • What’s problematic is that the commenting policies aren’t discretely and operationally defined. Moderation appears to be applied unevenly. Equating civility to “a quality of Bob’s” is fine, but it doesn’t provide guidance about content.

        Why not look at a few commenting/moderating policies that you like and which appear to promote robust discussion without targeting individuals? (NYT, perhaps?)

        In terms of hijacked comment threads: one commenter suggested having an open thread to allow people to bring up issues which are time sensitive, but which do not follow individual blog post content. That would work well as an interim fix until your forum feature is available. Who knows – maybe it would become a preferred venue for a “convo of the day”?

        I perceive that bloggers get a very moderation light hand when they hijack threads or misrepresent the content and intentions of some commenters with whom they disagree. For us readers, the obvious two class approach is disheartening and anger provoking. It strikes too close to home for the gross power imbalances that exist between those grappling with mental illness and those making a living from it.

        I hope that in the effort to bring on board first rate thinkers, movers and shakers, that all writers are held to the same standard of civil discourse.

        • This is a good point. The best I can say in response is that we’ve withheld from pulling comments until they really were, in our opinion, egregiously derisive. It’s really hard to say what that will look like in advance, and it means the implementation will be uneven.
          But your points are well made. True as they are, I believe we have refrained from pulling many comments by readers that were much harsher than any that I’ve seen by bloggers; though I will agree that some bloggers’ posts were not paradigms of civility.
          If I have overlooked any that should have been pulled, I apologize and hope (and expect) that they were duly upbraided for it.

          • If “egregiously derisive” isn’t defined, how would one know whether a breach has been made?

            Like porn – you know it when you see it?
            Not acceptable. Mad In American needs basic blogging and commenting guidelines. That’s standard on the vast majority of interactive websites.

            Again – borrow from the best – take a gander at the NYT:

            “We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day.

            Our standards for taste are reflected in the articles we publish in the newspaper and on NYTimes.com; we expect your comments to follow that example. A few things we won’t tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence and SHOUTING.

            You can read a complete Readers’ Reviews Posting Policy here.”

            Call your buddies at the Nieman Foundation – I’m sure they’d be happy to steer you to some. http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/NiemanFoundation/Audiences/JournalistsAndWriters.aspx

            How about the AHCJ? http://www.healthjournalism.org/resources-jump.php

            Or the Berkman Center. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/

            You’re in Cambridge, aren’t you? These are all local resources excepting the NYT.

            What isn’t working is the extant non-policy policy. It is uneven, appears discriminatory, doesn’t further discussion, and ironically, it doesn’t support civility.

            PS There is a civility resource sponsored by MassHumanities which just started this spring. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL708ADB1FA2311F57

          • Kermit,

            Perhaps you’d like to explain to the readers just how egregiously derisive my comment on another thread was? One you deemed bad enough to pull.

            Transparency has been used in a comment above, and I challenge you to be transparent, here.

          • We are working to come up with a new approach to moderating the discussions. I have been holding the role while waiting for others who have specific interest and experience to become available. Thankfully, this is happening now.
            I truly do appreciate all the contributions that people make to the site. Even when they cross over into the more “expressive” range, I understand, appreciate, and often sympathize with where they are coming from. In my work I have taken pride in weathering and even championing peoples’ anger: I know that this is always coming from something real and often what is necessary to drive change – if only it can be directed somewhere or in some way that a change will actually make a desired difference.
            We are working to come up with more specific and specified guidelines. This may not always help – it seems, as pointed out above, that there’s always an “I know it when I see it” aspect to these things. That, and because we really try to hold back on the moderating, I don’t really know how it will happen in a way that always and everywhere is consistent. We’re dealing with complex thoughts, feelings, and interactions; I often squint and puzzle at comments, trying to figure out whether they are impugning the person or the thought.
            This website is in partial reaction to the fact that many peoples’ lines have been crossed; that at times in their lives when they might have benefitted from understanding, they didn’t get it, and got “labeled” instead. The people doing it may have been well intended, and may have been misinformed, but they nevertheless did something other than what might have helped.
            And so it is in a certain way unfair that now we’re saying that there is a line, and that it should not be crossed in the other direction. But that is what seems necessary in order to have the discussions we hope to have here.
            As Corinna quoted Bucky Fuller; “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” To the extent this is true here, it may be futile to engage “psychiatry,” if “psychiatry” is viewed as the only game in town and sitting at the head of the table. As such, there is a lot of energy on this site and elsewhere directed toward creating something new (or rediscovering what has always been).
            Still, I think it’s interesting to continue to reflect on exactly how and why medical-model psychiatry has held the sway that it has. As Bob lays out in “Mad in America,” there is a long history of medicine offering sure and quick fixes. This goes back to prehistory, in fact. There is something almost innate in us that is drawn to that.
            And it also may be that the medical model even now has something to offer. Trauma research, for instance, has shown how the traces of stress become fixed in the body and compound over time – possibly taking on the appearance, in behavior and physiology, often associated with “mental illness”
            But teasing this apart is a delicate process, and perhaps helped by having medically trained people at the table.
            The most important thing in my book is that people maintain authority over their own well-being. Once given up, whether to a medical professional or a guru, something is almost certain to go awry. The most important thing is to generate the language that will equip people to communicate meaningfully with any potential “care giver.” Language that will enable them to be aware of their own authority even as they avail themselves of another’s. This is a tricky thing to do and may be, in its essence in fact, the way to characterize “mental health.”

    • Stephany,

      I know how easy it is to get hurt or angry on a site like this. I encourage you to consider that the moderators have to walk quite a tight rope. In order for the actual message to carry a wide appeal they have to make it an environment both for those who have been harmed by the system and for those who might be part of the system but who might want to try and do better. Its not an easy tight rope for them to walk.

      Malene

    • Yes. “Torn apart” was a bad choice of phrase. Studies should be “torn apart.” Then, the pieces should be looked at, for consideration of whatever honest intent there may have been and valid info obtained, as well as for bias, blindness, invalidity, etc. But simply trashing them reflexively from a single point of view helps nothing and nobody.

      • I agree that Jonah’s posts are extremely valuable. I actually don’t remember or particularly care whether the post in question was Jonah’s or not. I’m sure it was not pulled for being critical; it was for being derisive in a way that it felt would make it difficult for following readers to comment.
        And I agree that “unscientific critiques” are valuable. In fact, more; they are essential. Because all science can meaningfully do is answer the question of whether “if A, then B”
        is true. If the study is well designed, all you can say is that one fact is connected to one other fact in some significant way. I object to trashing studies completely only because these associations, if true, mean SOMETHING; we are not obliged, though, to take the authors’ opinion of what it means. Their interpretation could be owing to what they’ve been told, lead to believe, etc. It could even be that the actual authors don’t believe the interpretation. Sometimes a study’s results could have been interpreted an entirely different way, but the limits of the study meant that comment in that direction was simply not supported within that particular study. For that, the best the authors can do is suggest that a future study take it in that direction.
        So putting studies up here is not an empty exercise. It can potentially be part of getting conversation going where people can say “did you think of looking at it this way?” I have gotten emails from psychiatrists who are following these studies, and are being influenced by them. There’s something to the “breaking news” quality, even if it’s stuff that is old news or, to some, not news at all, that impacts on people in a different way. So it seems worth doing and perhaps counterproductive to just reflexively deride a study. There’s usually SOMETHING worth noticing; not to accept it as gospel truth, but simply to ask “what, if that’s true, might be implied?”
        At that point it’s open season, and everybody and anybody is entitled to weigh in. I don’t think any of these studies are well examined unless they’re looked at through sociological, philosophical, theosophical, Marxist, and/or antidisestablishmentarian frameworks. It is possible that the authors are the LEAST able to comment, at times, being well established in a particular view.
        But I still don’t think that means its productive to impugn their motives or integrity. It’s better, I think, to consistently offer alternate interpretations as a means of changing the paradigm. It seems slower than calling someone names. But it is what actually produces results, because it preserves your own credibility along with theirs.
        I do believe the paradigm is shifting; it never will completely, if only because “medical model” thinking has been with us since trepannation, “humors,” snake-oils and tonics. But there are large scale trends now occurring that I’d all but given up on years ago. In fact, within the next few days, we will be releasing some news on this website that will mark, we believe, the beginning of a true paradigm shift that we never thought we would see.
        Stay tuned.

      • Sara:

        There’s no reply button below your next comment (July 4, 2012 at 8:12 am); but, it’s that comment, which I mean to address here – just briefly.

        I see you’ve enjoyed an exchange with Kermit, in the past couple of days; it began with your attempt to defend me. That effort of yours was clearly heartfelt and comes from a sincere appreciation you have for my writing. Thank You. I am deeply humbled by your kind reviews.

        At the same time, I feel I must point out, that: I could not have anticipated anyone saying what you’ve said, about my writing – at least, not in this sense, that you’ve expressed your feeling, that my writing has left you, “with a deeper understanding of what it means to have (once) been labelled a so called ‘schizophrenic’.” That you say this is really very surprising to me – because I’ve never said I was labeled that way.

        Of course, yes, I do frequently object to the “schizophrenia” label (but, I object to other psychiatric labels no less); and, I have indicated that I experienced a personal/interpersonal crisis, two and half decades ago, which led to psychiatric so-called “hospitalization”; and, indeed, I’ve explained that such could, arguably, have been the same sort of crisis which has led many to being tagged with such labeling.

        Frankly, I choose to neither confirm nor deny which psychiatric label/s I gathered in my three and a half years, as a so-called “patient” of psychiatry.

        J.

  8. Kermit,

    Re: Monitoring Comments

    You have a tough job, as mentioned, a “tight rope”.
    Feel free to strike any comment I’ve made that didn’t meet the criteria of Mad in America.

    Dr. Moffic,

    Charging someone with “practicing medicine without a license” is quite an accusation, especially, when done publicly. I would remind you of the legal implications you’ve made… In short, “practicing medicine without a license” is a crime.

    In other words, you have falsely accused me of criminal activity.

    A couple of weeks ago, you asked me if I wanted to be “indirectly responsbile for a suicide” should a person read my comments in reference to the dangers of taking antidepressants, yet you failed to address my question about whether you would like to be held directly responsible for placing someone on a drug that increases the risk of suicide.

    We can all be a little more civil… starting with an end to false accusations about criminal activity!

    Duane

    • Corinna,

      Again, my apologies for the argument on your blog post that had NOTHING to do with what you wrote.

      We may not agree on the methods of the exact logistics of how to improve the mental health system, but its obvious we both want to see massive changes toward a paradigm shift.

      And we also agree on the value of work, and the role it plays in recovery, wellbeing, an increased sense of worth.

      Thank you for all you’re doing.

      Duane

      • Dr. Moffic and fellow readers,

        I’m taking a break from this site for a while.
        Every time we have an intersteing topic, one worthy of some dialogue, like this one, we get right back into a fight with “doctors” like Moffic.

        I understand the passion.
        In fact, I fall for the bait, more than most any other reader.

        But it’s not healthy for me anymore.
        And as much as I’d like to see the system change, it’s frustating that we seem to be making such little progress… Simply put, it’s happening FAR too slow for yours truly.

        I need a break for a while…. time to remember what life felt like when I used to go out to the lake, spend time with my family, take my dog for a run… go dancing with my wife… LIVE a little!

        I’ll be back, when we’re serious about doing this –

        http://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/mental-health-freedom-and-recovery-act/

        And there are plenty of folks who know where to find me when we are serious about getting it done!

        Duane

  9. Change requires ‘we’ thinking THIS IS ABOUT ALL OF US. Bringing about needed social change isn’t pretty—we humans do not undertake personal transformation gracefully or with ease for the most part; and groups of individuals will have their own ideas of how to proceed and who should have a role…THAT is the primary stumbling block. Once it is considered a matter of who should have a role, participate in any respect; it is no longer about WE it has become an us and them equation and it is divisive not inclusive. All groups of people have factions or cliques each focused part of the endeavor which justifies the formation of the clique, each is certain their view is more important and has more validity.

    I apologize for being wordy, and not focused on the actual topic which is Corrina’s advocacy and her business ideas which are offering people hope and a hand up; actually validating their self worth by actually including the people who directly benefit from the beginning…It is an excellent example of an open minded approach solving a complex set of needs which fully includes the perspectives and input of the people who are to be directly helped. It is, in a nutshell, a plan for doing what needs to be done to transform the (I don’t even know what the heck to call it anymore!)system.

    I am certain of little, but I am certain of this: Any successful effort to right the wrongs must be for and about ALL OF US. It is in the connections between people that symptoms become manifest. How can a solution not include respect for ALL OF US? It is the cliques and the factions, most of whom IMO have valid reasons for feeling and being ex- and not in- clusive. All people deserve respect and consideration; which is not to say one must agree with or believe it is expected of them never be critical, but I hope that if nothing else, remember that many of those who are grievously harmed and killed, cannot speak for themselves. Those among us who are the walking wounded are counting on US, which right now doesn’t look like it’s a good thing. I have so much anger and rage and every day I see the harm being done to the emotions, the spirit and the intellect of my precious son. I really want to believe that there is a WE.

    • In reply to yobluemama’s plea for a unity of WE.

      “we humans do not undertake personal transformation gracefully or with ease for the most part; and groups of individuals will have their own ideas of how to proceed and who should have a role…THAT is the primary stumbling block.”

      “It is, in a nutshell, a plan for doing what needs to be done to transform the (I don’t even know what the heck to call it anymore!)system.”

      From a email reply to concerns about civility & transparency;

      “Please consider what drives a deep concern about civility and sweep it under the carpet privacy, in life?

      “INNATE AFFECT/EMOTION & SOCIETY:

      Because the free expression of innate affect is extremely contagious and because these are very powerful phenomena, all societies, in varying degrees, exercise substantial control over the free expression of the cry of affect. No societies encourage or permit each individual to cry out i.e, rage or excitement, or distress or terror wherever and whenever they wish. Very early on, strict control over affect expression is instituted and such control is exerted particularly over the voice, whether used in speech or in direct affect expression. (p, 93)

      If all societies suppress the free vocalization of affect, what is it that is being experienced as affect? It is what I have called backed-up affect, it can be seen in children trying to suppress laughter by swallowing a snicker, or by a stiff upper lip when trying not to cry (anti affects?) or by tightening the jaw to suppress anger. In all these cases, one is holding one’s breathe as part of the technique of suppressing the vocalization of affect. (p, 93)

      We do not know what are the biological and psychological prices of such suppression of the innate affective response. It seems at the very least that substantial psychosomatic disease might be one of the prices of such systemic suppression and transformation of the innate affective responses. Further there could be a permanent elevation of blood pressure as a consequence of suppressed rage, which would have a much longer duration than an innate momentary flash of expressed anger. (p, 94)

      Even the least severe suppression of the vocalization of affect must result in some bleaching of the experience of affect and therefore impoverish the quality of life It must also produce some ambiguity about what affect feels like, since so much of the adult’s affective life represents at the very least, a transformation of the affective response, rather than the simpler, more direct, and briefer innate affect. (p, 94)

      With anger the matter is further confused, because of the danger represented by this affect and enormous societal concern about the socialization of anger, what is typically seen and thought to be innate is actually backed-up. The appearance of the backed-up, the simulated, and the innate is by no means the same. (p, 94)”

      Exerts from Sylvan Tomkins “Exploring Affect.”

      Are we locked in unconscious assumptions about the nature of society, the real value of education and a deep reluctance to examine our own functioning? I do not post Murray Bowen’s insight into human nature for my own self-promotion, and I ask you to consider this brilliant American’s fearless contribution to society, even though we resist its conscious awareness ferociously.

      “A core assumption is that an emotional system that evolved over several billion years governs human relationship systems. People have a “thinking brain,” language, a complex psychology and culture, but people still do all the ordinary things other forms of life do. The emotional system affects most human activity and is the principal driving force in the development of clinical problems.”

      Only when we face up to our emotional re-activity and its “unconscious” stimulation, will we find a unity of purpose, and get beyond our intellectual rationalizations about our motivations.

      THE SYSTEM, is inside each and every one of us, its called the autonomic nervous system, and it dominates our hidden and functioning. Not until we accept & consciously acknowledge our evolved nature, will we find a unity of WE?

      In the meantime we stay “lost in rationalizing cognition,” and we carry on down this, “the more things change, the more they….. road”

  10. I must say, with all due respect:

    This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen. A moderator of comments at a large public blog leave so many long commentaries deciphering and analyzing the readers comments. I am certain NYT or other news blogs don’t do that, and frankly it’s just mind blowing to me. This isn’t moderating comments, it’s nearly theological discussions ran by a moderator of why certain POV won’t get published here!

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  12. Resources exist in every state for microenterprise development in the US. Economic development is the missing piece of the disabilities rights movement. 95% percent of all disabled individuals live below the poverty line. This is higher than any other minority group. It’s a scandal.

    Every community college has a program for small business development including microenterprise development which caught the world’s attention when the Grameen bank was launched in Bangladesh with great success.

    Most microenterprise development programs use a case management model. Overcoming barriers such as language, financial literacy, access to capital loans, markets, etc. are addressed free or low cost to disadvantaged populations. With much effort at overturning law/policy individuals can now use their unemployment benefit to seed a microenterprise.

    People on disability should not have their disability benefits penalized by microenterprise income.

    The definition of a microenterprise is a business needing less than $35,000 in capital and fewer than eight employees. Check out the PRIME program, an arm of the Small Business Administration, the Aspen Institut e, CFED, http://fieldus.org/index.html

    Individual Development Accounts, the brainchild of both Republicans and Democrats under the Bush era are a good pathway for individuals to leverage capital for business development.

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