Changing Minds About Voices: Action Over Words


This weekend, the Huffington Post has hosted a forum inspired by Eleanor Longden’s (great) TED talk, “The Voices in My Head.”  Some of the resultant dialogue is inspiring.  Some of it is not.  Some of it, of course, is eliciting the most typical of responses from those spouting the standard media and system-driven messages offered so freely because they “know it to be true.”

I’m not sure why I get so easily drawn in to these battles at times.  Sometimes my fingers are typing while my mind is already insisting, “Stop!  This is pointless!”  Nonetheless, this weekend, a Huffington Post reader (impenetrably named ‘B m pgh reaper’) caught my attention.  Here’s how it went:

B m pgh reaper:  “Before we get all touchy felly about schizophrenia, maybe we should remember that a large number of the ppl who go on wild killing suffer from this illness! …  The last 5 mass shooting were all committed by ppl with this or other serious mental disorders.  In the past we use to lock these folks up, now we give them a pill, dont ask any questions and hope we dont get another Aurora, Newtown, VA TEch, etc.”

My response was perhaps not my most articulate ever, but went like this:

Sera: “Uh. People do violent things. Some of those people have psychiatric diagnoses. Some of those people work at McDonalds. Some of those people play incredibly violent video games. Some of those people eat meat. Some of those people watch Oprah.

So, point number one is that Point A is not necessarily the cause of Point B.

Next, you say that all these people were diagnosed… But in some instances, you’re talking about posthumous diagnosis and/or speculation. That means that the people making the diagnosis have spent even less time (NONE) with the actual person they are diagnosing than the average psychiatrist (about 20 minutes… if you’re lucky).

Finally, let’s say we are trying to draw causal links. Well, then, why leap to the diagnosis? What does that even mean? Research is suggesting that taking psychiatric medication and/or the withdrawal effects of stopping psychiatric medication can lead to an increase of violence and suicide. So, is the ’cause’ the so-called ‘illness,’ or the chemicals from some medication? Or how about drugs (other than psych meds) and alcohol? Research suggests that many people who have been given psychiatric diagnoses and end up getting violent often have something in common with the general population who has not been given a psychiatric diagnosis and gotten violent: Alcohol/drug use.

There’s much information you are missing and your statements are ultimately dangerous.”

To my at least reasonably well-thought-out words, our beloved b simply replied:

B m pgh reaper:  “I get it, you dont want locked up for your disorder.  Got it spaz”

Sigh.  For the most part, I got what I deserved.  In some ways, responding to such typical spouting off of mainstream misconceptions does little more than make space for more of the same.  Shame on me for making more space.  I didn’t bother with any come backs; I didn’t argue that I wasn’t a ‘spaz,’ and that my points were worthy of some contemplation.  I just (mostly) moved on.

Letting our voices be heard is important.  I deeply value, for example, the Mad in America website and all that it’s enabled me to learn about others and share of myself.  Yet, I find that there are (at least) two talk-related methods by which we can get in our own way.  The first is to engage in such endless banter and sharing among a select group with whom we already agree, that we substantially limit our ability to do much of anything else.  The second is to waste precious time talking to those with whom we disagree so steadfastly that all we accomplish by engaging in battle is to drain our own reserve.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t do any of the above.  Talking among ‘ourselves’ can strengthen our resolve and courage to move forward.  It can remind us that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves, and that there are a growing number of people ‘out there’ who have our back if not directly, than at least philosophically.  And talking to those with whom we disagree can sometimes be productive.  On occasion, it may actually result in change.  Additionally, as more of us speak up with views that counter the status quo, those who remain stuck in the box of old perspectives my at least begin to get the idea that the world outside their box is growing.  If nothing else, arguing with those with whom we disagree challenges us to get better at articulating our ideas.

Yes, there is a time and purpose for talk.  However, there is also a time for action, and each of us would likely do well to ask ourselves what we are doing to actualize the changes we talk about.  If we truly believe in a world where voices, visions and other unusual experiences are accepted as real and valuable, then we need to develop a picture of what that world might look like and how we might take steps toward bringing it to life.  If we know that people who hear voices exist in numbers far greater than most would believe and that voices can become an integral and positive part of someone’s life, then we need to have more than just blog posts and speeches to support us in gaining that recognition.  (Note, this is not a criticism of blog posts or speeches, both of which can be powerful in a way that I thoroughly enjoy!)

So, what to do?  Most of you know that I work with the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (RLC).  As we’ve grown, we have become increasingly aware that the grand speeches and big words can’t be sustained without the hard work on the ground (and, in some important ways, vice versa).  I have often felt reluctant to share too much about the work we do because it feels uncomfortably like gratuitous self-promotion.  However, I’ve been encouraged by some of the Mad in America crew to re-think the value of sharing more about our work ‘on the ground,’ so here we go.  In terms of fundamental change in the realm of voice hearing, we offer multiple Hearing Voices groups and have worked to integrate the Hearing Voices movement’s values and beliefs into all we do in our day-to-day, including the support we offer at our peer respite, Afiya.  Some from our community have also volunteer our time however we can to support Hearing Voices USA to grow and develop.

Additionally, we offer multiple opportunities for people to really learn and practice a different way of thinking.  For example, we facilitated three ‘Hearing Voices Group Facilitator’ trainings in the last year with participants (many of them working in clinical roles) coming from as far away as North Caroline and Arizona.  (We plan to offer the next training in early 2014, and are also available to travel to other areas.)  We also offer film screenings through our ‘Alternative Perspective Series,’ and have tentatively planned to bring Jacqui Dillon to our state in the early spring to facilitate viewings and dialogue around the film, “There’s a Fault in Reality,” which follows the story of three people labeled with Schizophrenia (Jacqui herself being one of the three).

I’m also excited to share that – in October – we will bringing Peter Bullimore and Kate Crawford to Massachusetts to offer two two-day trainings on using the Maastricht Interview (co-sponsored with Advocates, Inc.).  The Maastricht Interview was developed by Doctor Sandra Escher, Professor Marius Romme, and voice-hearer Patsy Hage, and is one of the most exciting tools to come out of the Hearing Voices Movement in recent years.  It is designed to empower, validate, and to map and build an in depth understanding of one’s voices.  It is a training that is particularly geared toward those working in clinical and other supporter roles, and has the power to substantially change the nature of the way clinicians work with people who hear voices.  That change will happen as more professionals shift how they work and talk about those shifts with their colleagues, but also because more people will be adequately supported to move through the parts of their experience that are negative and better integrate their worlds.  Both voices will join the movement.  To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time that this training will be offered in the United States.  (For more information on this training or if you’re interested in attending, visit our website!)

Sometimes the best way to make real change is just to do the work.  Sometimes the talk is the work and it can be hard to separate out the two.  However, in a growing number of instances, it’s hard to miss the futility of the talking and how tied up we can get in our own virtual war of words.  Stepping away can be liberating.  Sometimes, while everyone else is wrapped up in the talking, you can get an awful lot done.

And then, slowly but surely, the numbers of people doing the work gets bigger and eventually the talk isn’t as necessary because you’ve become the majority;  You will have become a part of the group known to be on the side of what is true.


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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  1. Sera,

    It’s been a long time since I reached the conclusion that we cannot achieve any significant things by “talking” to the other side. By “the other side”, I mean the side that defends mainstream psychiatry. We are well past that point. The other side is happy in keeping things at the “talking” or “conversation” level.

    They will continue advertising the pseudo science of psychiatry and the threats of what happens when “psychiatric illness” is left so called “untreated”.

    The other side is well aware of the limitations of psychiatry. It just doesn’t care. Take for instance a look at Allen Frances’ Op-Ed in the same TED weekends section. It is a prime example of the mindset I talked about (with the aggravating circumstances that Allen Frances is one of the few who dares to air these things openly and in public). On one side he recognizes that,

    “Schizophrenia is most certainly not a unitary disease. Its symptom presentation is very variable and there will likely be hundreds of different underlying causes. Indeed, the term ‘Schizophrenia’ is confusing, stigmatizing, and has probably outlived is usefulness.”

    You’d say, WOW, he admits that? Before giving you time to get excited, he goes on to say,

    “But the concept of schizophrenia still remains necessary and is no myth, as claimed by Thomas Szasz and his followers.”

    Even though, in a recent post he, for the first time since I have been reading his columns, he went on to say,

    “At the time I loved my work on that terribly flawed unit and thought I was helping people and learning a lot. It was only later when I had gathered much greater experience in the wider world of psychiatry and life that I realized I was also hurting people and learning a lot of the wrong things.”

    So here is a man who,

    – Is aware that DSM labels are constructs that are not backed by biology

    – That many, if not all, of those constructs might be caused by people’s reactions to personal circumstances that have nothing to do with “medical issues”

    – Is aware that imposing the notion that schizophrenia as a “medical problem” has resulted in he himself harming individual people (beyond his role of chairman of the DSM-IV taskfoce).

    Still, he considers the current paradigm of psychiatry worthy and deserving of improvement because “done well” helps a lot of people. Nevermind that the cumulative data says otherwise (from the CDC numbers on the increase in suicide rates to the different studies that speak of bad secondary effects experienced by people taking psychiatric drugs).

    In a way, it doesn’t come as a surprise that those who believe in pseudo science, as Allen Frances does, are not persuaded when the data contradicts their pseudo science. They would not be practicing pseudo science if they believed in science in the first place!

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    • You are one of the best commenters here CannotSay. I love your work. I am sorry we fell out of touch. I will email you.

      You’re unyielding in the face of terror CannotSay.

      Some people evidently treat “black and white” as just another four letter word that is verboten under their faculty PC social engineering language set.

      Forced psychiatry is as black and white as any other act of state violence perpetrated against a group of citizens. It must be abolished. It’s not “extreme” to be against brain rape, no matter what the academics who’ve driven by to tell us we are doing it wrong say.

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      • Thanks for your kind words Anonymous.

        You, Jonah and Duane (no offense meant to the others) are the three people I most often find myself in agreement with. And you, in particular, I think that are one of the most articulate defenders of our shared view that indeed, coercive psychiatry is as black and white as the opposition to rape, slavery or racists laws is.

        In my view, there is no room for compromise with those who believe that they have a right to deprive us (by us I mean those who have been labeled by the DSM) of our freedom even though we have committed no crimes. No room at all.

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  2. Hi Sera,

    I read blogs here on MiA (including yours) occasionally, but have never responded until now. I am sympathetic and allied with many of the views expressed. However, I also disagree with much of what is written on MiA. In this regard, I related to this statement in your post:

    “I’m not sure why I get so easily drawn into these battles at times. Sometimes my fingers are typing while my mind is already insisting, ‘Stop! This is pointless!’”

    I feel this way now as I write this comment.

    I appreciate your work and your efforts, and I expect we might have more common ground than differences of perspective. I want to acknowledge that. But this comment will be addressing what I see as differences, based on reading your blog. I intend what follows in the spirit of dialogue.

    Some of the experiences from which I ground my statements:

    I’ve been living with ongoing experiences of ‘psychosis’ for more than 20 years, including things that might be categorized as ‘voice hearing,’ as well as many other types of ‘altered states,’ most often experienced as very threatening. I’ve had significant interactions with various types of psychiatric services, spending more than a year of my life incarcerated as a mental patient, including in a state hospital. I’ve carried a number of diagnoses including both bipolar with psychosis, and schizophrenia spectrum.

    I’ve been involved to varying degrees over the years with c/s/x activism, and have tried many different approaches to both framing my ‘extreme state’/’psychotic’ experiences, and navigating them in my life. I’ve used acupuncture, I’ve attended a ‘Hearing Voices’ group, intentional mutual support, as well as medication and various types of ‘professional’ psychosocial approaches/frameworks.
    In general, my experiences of ‘psychosis’ remain basically the same as they always have been, regardless of these efforts. My ability to ‘cope’ with them and live my life is what has improved.

    Also, in the last few years I completed a masters degree, qualifying me as a ‘mental health professional,’ and I am currently working on a doctorate.

    When I read MiA–and it often seems extremely polarizing–things appear framed in terms of ‘a system’ or ‘professionals’ vs. ‘ourselves’ as you say in this post. In my experience, the views are way more diverse than that.

    You say:

    “That change will happen as more professionals shift how they work and talk about those shifts with their colleagues, but also because more people will be adequately supported to move through the parts of their experience that are negative and better integrate their worlds.”

    So would I qualify as a ‘professional’ who needs this training you talk about so I can better understand how to work with people who have ‘anomalous experiences’ ? Or do I qualify as someone who-on the basis of lived experience- has special insight into these things, or needs to be supported to ‘integrate’ my worlds etc?

    What about ‘recovery?’ I personally think it is problematic to emphasize ‘full recovery’ as in many of the public ‘heroic survivor narratives’-as sociologist Linda Morrison has put it-without emphasizing that many people-myself included-continue to experience ongoing distressing experiences of ‘psychosis’-regardless of any type of intervention, ‘Hearing Voices’ groups or otherwise. I think it can be problematic when individuals speak –on the basis of relatively brief or circumscribed experiences–about what those of us with enduring and ongoing difficulties need to do in order to ‘recover.’ Clearly these experienced are poorly understood ‘scientifically’ and ‘culturally,’ but what we do know seems to point to their being ‘caused’ by many different things and leading to many different outcomes. The longitudinal studies that are frequently-and problematically-cited as evidence that neuroleptics ‘cause’ psychosis, point to this heterogeneity. Some people simply continue to struggle. It’s been a consistent finding. For me personally, this is why it has been important to focus on how to live the life I want in spite of my different way of experiencing the world (ie. ‘struggles’)

    Here is a metaphor, not intended to smuggle in a medical framework, but ask yourself: would it be reasonable for a person who recovered from being wheelchair bound with a broken leg to speak to the experience of someone wheelchair bound due to paraplegia? To what extent could they really understand that experience, or make recommendations about how the person might ‘recover?’

    Also, a message I often see on this website-and related spaces-is that people with lived experience need to be listened to, should be leaders in providing support and care to struggling others. I couldn’t agree more. So it confuses me when the perspective of a great many folks who have these experiences are discredited–almost as if they are brainwashed–because they take medication, identify with a diagnosis etc. I realize that powerful ideological forces can both constrain and produce experience and identity-for all us, no one is immune.

    But it also strikes me as paternalistic to assume to know what is best for so many people, when these matters are so context dependant and unique. Each person is an expert on themselves? I simply don’t think-for me personally-that ‘dialoguing with voices,’ for example-is helpful. I’ve tried it. I do wholeheartedly believe it when individuals say it is helpful for them however.

    Also, on the topic of context, I think it crucially important to always bring in issues of intersectional oppression and privilege. When we look at all the data on the vastly disproportionate social inequities (poverty, often unsafe neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food etc., low literacy, unequal access to employment or education and on and on) faced by community mental health service users, it becomes problematic-in my opinion-to focus too much on approaches for ‘anomalous experience’-without robustly discussing and addressing these issues as well. This is especially true to the extent that any of us speaking about these issues–myself included–have privilege or access to resources that many many others simply don’t.

    To what extent can I explain to someone else–on the basis that I have learned to live with ‘psychosis’ well enough to be a successful PhD student–what will work for them, when they might be dealing with all kinds of additional difficulties I simply haven’t?

    You said this about recent exchanges on this topic on Huffington Post.

    “Some of it, of course, is eliciting the most typical of responses from those spouting the standard media and system-driven messages offered so freely because they “know it to be true.”

    You quoted a really nasty comment from HP that seemed to me to be from a ‘troll.’ I guess I think it would have been far more generative to respond instead to Allen Frances’ HP post. I certainly don’t agree with all that he says, but it seemed there was much room for common ground. I worry that quoting the troll comment in the context of speaking about ‘the standard media and system-driven messages’ promotes a polarized dichotomy when-at least in my experience and studies-the context is anything but dichotomous-there are many many different perspectives.

    That takes us to the issue of dialogue. You say this about ‘talking to those with whom we disagree.’

    “And talking to those with whom we disagree can sometimes be productive. On occasion, it may actually result in change. Additionally, as more of us speak up with views that counter the status quo, those who remain stuck in the box of old perspectives might at least begin to get the idea that the world outside their box is growing. If nothing else, arguing with those with whom we disagree challenges us to get better at articulating our ideas.”

    Would you characterize me-based on all I’ve written here– as ‘stuck in the box of old perspectives?’

    Here is what I think about ‘talking to those with whom we disagree.’ The purpose should be mutual understanding and collective knowledge building. If ‘being productive’ simply means changing others ideas or getting better at arguing, that’s not dialogue in my view. We have ourselves to be willing to be wrong, to learn from others. A good place to begin-in my opinion-is realizing that the ‘professional’/ ‘survivor’ (or whatever we want to call it) dichotomy is false. You and I both illustrate this.

    Any ‘movement’ that presumes too much to know what’s best for others, isn’t willing to learn or be wrong when presented with conflicting information or experiences, ignores heterogeneity and individual differences, isn’t truly transparent and democratically organized…well, isn’t that just recapitulating the worst of what we want to change?

    Timothy Kelly

    P.S. I am going to cross post this response on my personal blog, though I realize this might elicit attacks similar to some I have seen in comment threads here, not unlike the one you quote in this post. Here’s the link:

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    • Hi Tim, I guess my initial response to your comment is that I feel like you might be using this opportunity to make points that have less to do with what I actually wrote and more to do with some larger issues of polarization that you have been observing.

      You said, “So would I qualify as a ‘professional’ who needs this training you talk about so I can better understand how to work with people who have ‘anomalous experiences’ ? Or do I qualify as someone who-on the basis of lived experience- has special insight into these things, or needs to be supported to ‘integrate’ my worlds etc?”

      I’m not sure how to respond to this statement full of ‘needs.’ I don’t think I ever said anyone ‘needs’ it. It’s simply an example of one of *many* actions we can take that is beyond just talking to try and bring about the change we want to see in the world. It sounds like you exist in both worlds (professional and someone who has been diagnosed, etc.) as do many… as have I, at times. What you’d make of the Maastricht Interview training I do not know, but I do hope it will be a part of the change and I wanted people to know about it. Sharing that it was happening was, in fact, one of the driving forces that motivated the post and it remains so.

      Troll or not, I posted the comment exchange from HP that I did both because it’s the only comment I made on HP in relation to this topic and because it *does* represent a very common and accepted point-of-view, even if many who express it would do a better job of omitting the name calling.

      You said, “What about ‘recovery?’ I personally think it is problematic to emphasize ‘full recovery’..” I again feel a little uncertain how to respond, because I’m not sure I said anything about ‘full recovery’ here. In fact, I rarely use the word ‘recovery’ at all. I live life. It has its ups and downs. It has more downs compared to some, and less compared to others. For many who hear voices (I do not), I am fully aware that their life still includes periods of distressing voices but they – as you say – have learned how to manage it better and – as I say – may also have learned how to integrate some of those experiences (and living with them) into one world/one life rather than these pieces of themselves. Others may explain it all very differently. Some say they’ve left that part of their life entirely behind. Others will say it remains front and center for them. And yet, again, I am only talking about *one* tool that will impact *some* people in various roles to live life differently and raise their voices differently than they would have without it.

      You say, “So it confuses me when the perspective of a great many folks who have these experiences are discredited–almost as if they are brainwashed–because they take medication, identify with a diagnosis etc. I realize that powerful ideological forces can both constrain and produce experience and identity-for all us, no one is immune.” Again, I feel like what you’re saying relates less to my post and more to your broader observations. That said, I’ll respond briefly. I don’t personally discredit people who identify with a diagnosis or use medication. HOWEVER, so often, people who identify in that way (or believe in that approach, be it for themselves or others) hear the offering of alternatives as a full rejection of the medical model. What I personally reject wholeheartedly is the FORCING of the medical model on everything and everyone. And I have to admit that I do hear someone’s profession of their own benefits from medication and diagnosis, but NOT because I don’t believe it couldn’t possibly be true. Rather, it’s because it’s nearly impossible to tell if they believe that because it’s true or they believe that because they were told it was absolutely the only way. I still won’t argue someone, even if I wonder abut that for them, but I do see myself and our movement as having a responsibility to shift the system so that it does not force any one approach (including trauma and any other alternative perspective) and to make sure people really have access to make an informed choice.

      You ask, “Would you characterize me-based on all I’ve written here– as ‘stuck in the box of old perspectives?’” I’m honestly not sure what your full perspective is, so I couldn’t say. Personally, the new perspective I’m hoping to shift to is one where there isn’t ANY ‘one right model’ that’s shove down anyone’s throat.

      You say, “A good place to begin-in my opinion-is realizing that the ‘professional’/ ‘survivor’ (or whatever we want to call it) dichotomy is false. You and I both illustrate this.”

      It is… and it isn’t. Yes, human beings are much more complex than all that. Yes, there are people who fit in many categories. HOWEVER, people who have been diagnosed and received services in the psychiatric system are absolutely a part of a civil rights movement and are a part of a group that has been oppressed. Individuals can be exceptions, but the broader structure suggests that the people who make the rules, hold the power and hold the keys to the institutions are those who do the diagnosing and not the other way around (or at least who are willing to pass as those who do the diagnosing and not the other way around). So, yes, you’re right, it’s far more complicated than that… and yet, in terms of broad social structures, it is not. This is true of other civil rights movements, too, including those based in race, gender, sexuality and so on.

      Ultimately, the underlying messages of this particular blog post was that we need to do more than talk. More of us need to take action. More of us need to be working toward bringing our vision to life – whatever that vision may be. I don’t believe that I presented my particular actions as the only way, and if I somehow did give that impression, it certainly wasn’t my intention. Though I do stand by the alternatives I offered up! For more people than not, the hearing voices work is still a very new or unheard of idea and it has helped many.

      For what it’s worth, some of what you argue – such as the idea that promoting the new singular right way isn’t going to be helpful in the long run – is also what I argue in our film, ‘Beyond the Medical Model,’ thus I think much of your criticism is being misapplied, here.

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      • How about this for sera:


        Thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy response. It is absolutely true that my response here is more to broader issues I see with Mad in America in general, and a few affiliated groups that seem to have considerable overlap. So, to the extent that any of these ideas are ‘misapplied’ in this case, I can’t be sure because I don’t really know your perspective either. Either way, my points are ones that need to be discussed.

        Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough about ‘professional.’ I don’t work in a capacity where I ‘diagnose’ people. I’m far more interested in research, advocacy and system change-why I’m getting a PhD. I also make it a point to be disclosed. Besides, if one is charging money for a service-like ‘trainings’ or ‘workshops’ etc. about how to ‘help’ others with these sorts of issues, I don’t see that as appreciably different than providing ‘professional’ services really.

        On the note of civil rights. I agree. I identify as an oppressed ‘minority’ with respect to these issues. Part of what that involves is representation in my view. On that note, you say you don’t identify as a voice hearer, but you are an organizer for a ‘peer’ based ‘hearing voices’ network? I guess this is an area where I take issue also. I don’t base my identity around having ‘survived’ psychiatry etc. or being labeled-though I have had those experiences. For me, it’s about experiencing psychosis, which is simply not equatable to the ‘ups and downs’ of life for the vast majority of people. To suggest that it is, in my opinion, erases the experience of people who suffer-myself included-and also takes away our legitimate claim to speak and organize based on the ‘authority of experience.’ For non ‘voice hearers’-as you call it-to be leading the organization of these groups, and especially when controlling training, charging money for trainings, lacking in transparency in decision making etc… I guess I don’t see how thats different than ‘professionals.’ Where can I get information about who is organizing the Hearing Voices Movement in the US? is there representation across different regions and perspectives, taking into consideration the sheer size and vast diversity of the US? Who is decided where groups can be held and by whom? Are these people who have experience with hearing voices or psychosis? Ongoing experience rather than brief and remitted experience? These are the sort of more concrete things I wonder about.

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        • “Who is decided where groups can be held and by whom?”

          Hi Timothy,

          Personally, I would never attend any of these groups. I would not be able to tolerate the dishonesty.

          A group of telepathics and other psychics (visionary), I’d join in a heartbeat.

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        • “Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough about ‘professional.’ I don’t work in a capacity where I ‘diagnose’ people. I’m far more interested in research, advocacy and system change-why I’m getting a PhD. I also make it a point to be disclosed. Besides, if one is charging money for a service-like ‘trainings’ or ‘workshops’ etc. about how to ‘help’ others with these sorts of issues, I don’t see that as appreciably different than providing ‘professional’ services really. ”

          I’d point out that even people working in research are selling professional services. To society, to the government, or the taxpayer that is indirectly bankrolling them, the college that is bankrolling them. Trading on credentials. ‘Diagnosing’ a problem in society, and researching that problem.

          “For me, it’s about experiencing psychosis, which is simply not equatable to the ‘ups and downs’ of life for the vast majority of people. To suggest that it is, in my opinion, erases the experience of people who suffer-myself included-and also takes away our legitimate claim to speak and organize based on the ‘authority of experience.’”

          For people who have experienced the disparate problematic states of mind that get labeled ‘psychosis’, this is, irrevocably, part of their lives. So in the ups and downs of my life, I include these experiences in the final analysis of what I’ve experienced in my life, I include these crises as part of the many personal problems I have had in my life. Everyone should be free to interpret these experiences as they see fit. I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand anyone else step in line with an interpretation lest they be defined as ‘erasing’ someone else’s interpretation. There has always been and always will be, different interpretations of these personal problems.

          “Who is decided where groups can be held and by whom? Are these people who have experience with hearing voices or psychosis? Ongoing experience rather than brief and remitted experience? These are the sort of more concrete things I wonder about.”

          I’d assume it’s decided by the demand that is in place in a given area, and the voluntary participants in the program.
          I don’t think it’s necessarily all that important to place too much emphasis on how long someone faced these problems or experiences. Life is a constant task, mastering problems and finding solutions can be temporary or permanent it all depends. To use the quitting smoking analogy again, I’d go to a class on quitting smoking from a person who has quit and stayed quit, his struggle with this unwanted problem wouldn’t have to be ‘ongoing’ for him to be someone who I might consider might have some learned wisdom to offer.

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        • Reading this debate and some of the other commentaries and responses, I think a few things are worth reiterating and underscoring:

          (1) The issue of representation is a serious one. If the HVM is primarily about voice hearing, it should be led by a majority of voice hearers (alongside allies and collaborators); if the HVM truly extends equally to all types of visions, extreme states, and unusual beliefs, this needs to be made very clear and equal time and attention devoted to developing techniques akin to voice dialogue and voice profiling that actually address and fully include so-called delusions, paranoia, “passivity symptoms,” etc. Initiatives designed to further the voice training ambitions of non voice hearers, without any local voice hearer involvement, should be called for what they are.

          (2) On a related note, it’s imperative that local capacity be built in the US: few voice hearer/consumer/survivors have the money and time to travel across the country; national organizing efforts that are truly national cannot take place in only one corner of the country. Resources MUST be devoted to strategic training and dissemination efforts in all geographical and geopolitical sectors, or a group should not, for ethical and political reasons, call itself “national.” (Local or state-based groups are, of course, extremely valuable and necessary and important; again, it’s a matter of claims re representation and speaking for or on behalf of others.)

          (3) Organizing efforts MUST be transparent, open and democratic. And, I would underscore, attentive not only to the specific experience of those in leadership positions, but also to issues of class, race, ethnicity, culture and privilege.

          (4) It’s easy to say that particular groups or approaches “equally” value all types of explanations and frameworks and a whole other thing to actually accomplish this–both as a group level and within movements (I’m not just referring to various national HVNs.) Enormous works need to be devoted to better understanding religious/spiritual experiences that intersect with psychosis, genetic and hereditary factors (e.g. in “families of voice hearers”, which certainly exist), and truly alternative explanations and frameworks grounded in telepathy, psychic phenomena and the paranormal. We all need to be self-critical and it strikes me as very obviously disingenuous to claim that the HVM has devoted as much research, energy, etc. to working on non-trauma or life-event based approaches to voices. Again, no movement is ever perfect, but we need to always remain self-critical, reflexive and attentive to our own shortcomings, biases, etc.

          (5) I say all this as a very active HVM organize and facilitator, myself a voice hearer and person with many other experiences of psychosis. IMHO, internal critique is something to be encouraged and supported if the HVM and larger c/s/x movement(s) are to continue to grow and evolve and transform the culture landscape of what it means to experience psychosis or hear voices or see visions in the US.

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          • Nev, I don’t have time to respond thoughtfully to everyone right now and will have to go back and do that when I do have time.

            However, I do want to say that my blog is about people finding a way to take action and not just talk. It is also about sharing some examples of how we have done that through the Western Mass RLC, and NOT what has or hasn’t been done through HVN USA.

            I do not want my blog to be turned in to a platform for criticisms about how HVN USA has not yet been able to adequately represent the whole country and the variety of reasons that may be true.

            These are two different topics.



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          • From comment: “However, I do want to say that my blog is about people finding a way to take action and not just talk.”

            From main entry: “Sometimes the best way to make real change is just to do the work. Sometimes the talk is the work and it can be hard to separate out the two.”

            I’m isolated and alienated. Type talking is the only thing *I* can do. My experience is all I have (no college education here, and never will be). I might be worthless and insignificant in everybody else’s eyes but certainly not in my own.

            Maybe someday, the mental world will talk about negation.

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        • Timothy,

          I guess I just find it a little frustrating when a blog gets overtaken by a topic that isn’t particularly related to that blog, is all. I’ve seen it happen on other blogs, and I feel like it’s happened at least a bit here. I can appreciate the need to talk through some of these issues, but it would be great if it could be in a forum that’s more fitting somehow.

          As to charging for trainings making us into a service provider… I guess I really disagree. First of all, the Western Mass RLC has existed since 2007, and this is the first time we’ve charged across the board for anything. We recently asked for a $100 contribution for our last HV Facilitator training only for people coming from out of state, and are charging $150 for the Maastricht Interview training because we simply have run out of stretch in our budget. We wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise. However, everything else – from acupuncture and yoga, to access to our centers, to all of our events and trainings has always been free. It’s been a value of ours to really have things been free and accessible, even if there is a substantial expense to us to make it happen. Regardless of the cost part, however, I’m just not sure I understand the link between offering opportunities to explore other ideas and ways of doing things and becoming a ‘service provider.’ What’s the value of drawing the correlation, exactly?

          You say: “Part of what that involves is representation in my view. On that note, you say you don’t identify as a voice hearer, but you are an organizer for a ‘peer’ based ‘hearing voices’ network? I guess this is an area where I take issue also.”

          Yes, all of that is true. I have experienced intrusive images telling me to kill my daughter. I have a long history of self-injury and wanting to kill myself. I struggle with other intrusive images. I have a slew of historical diagnoses and experiences with medications, but I do not identify as a voice hearer and I am always very transparent about that. However, my understanding is that my experiences are also a ‘fit’ for the network *and* the two people with whom I work most closely in facilitating the Hearing Voices trainings that we offer through the Western Mass RLC identify very clearly as voice hearers. Does that help clarify?

          You say, “For me, it’s about experiencing psychosis, which is simply not equatable to the ‘ups and downs’ of life for the vast majority of people. To suggest that it is, in my opinion, erases the experience of people who suffer-myself included-and also takes away our legitimate claim to speak and organize based on the ‘authority of experience.’ ”

          When I talk about groups of people at large, I try to use language that is open for others to apply their experiences to, but it’s impossible to do that in a way that works for everyone at all times and so ultimately I am speaking from my own experience. I definitely hear that the way I phrased that didn’t work for you. For me, it does work, though, including all of my own most intense experiences. I am not intending to erase anything you have or tell you you can’t frame it however works for you.

          You then move into talking about the broader hearing voices movement. That is not what I’m talking about in my blog. Again, I am talking about the Western Mass RLC and what we are doign here. And we are pretty transparent about who is who, who we are, what our goals are, what we offer, etc. If there’s something you don’t see on our website, you can just ask! *ALL* of us identify as having pretty deep experience with diagnoses, hospitals, deep emotional pain with many causes, etc. Some of us use meds. Some of us don’t. All of us are pretty critical of any system that doesn’t seem open to questioning.

          As to the broader hearing voices movement, or hearing voices USA in particular, I’d suggest that you go to There is a survey posted on their front page that asks about how to expand and better represent the country and lists everyone involved. That may answer some of your questions and give you a place to give feedback.



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          • Sera,

            Thanks for this response. Today has been busy-as I’m guessing for you-so I missed it in the stream of emails that came in as responses from this blog.
            Again, I’m sorry for hijacking your thread. When I posted my original comment, I typed it out hurriedly and definitely was speaking to larger concerns beyond your original post.

            Thanks for sharing more about your experience and how that connects to your work and way of identifying. It takes no small measure of courage to put those things out there publicly. But it may be one of the most helpful things-for people to see that we need not keep these things secret; that one can experience them and still live an inspired life.

            Language is a problem. English is especially prone to casting things as dichotomies. Even as I critique dichotomies, I often end up instantiating my own dichotomies; also, there are simply no good words to talk about many of the things we are talking about-‘extreme states’ ‘psychosis’ ‘recovery’ ‘peer’ etc. all loaded with baggage we do not necessarily intend.

            I do have criticism of “MiA” as a brand, and how it is positioned-in a broad sense. I also have great respect for a number of folks who blog here. I do have criticism of many of the ways Robert Whitaker describes studies and findings, and has allowed others to cite his work in support of even more problematic claims. But I also cited Robert Whitaker’s Boston Globe reporting when I wrote a piece on these issues back in 2003, long before Anatomy.

            As to organizing, I did complete a survey. I have looked at the HVM-US website. I was not able to find any information about who-specifically-the individuals were who wrote the charter, who the ‘organizers’ are etc. How decisions are being made etc.

            As to ‘professionals,’ my point was not to attack you for charging money for trainings. Trainings cost money. Even with volunteer facilitators one still needs space, electricity, materials etc. Further, I don’t think its wrong for facilitators to be paid. My point was that the line between ‘professional’ and ‘not-professional’ is far blurrier than is often characterized-in my opinion-around here. My point in mentioning that I ‘qualify’ as a professional was not intended to create a hierarchy etc. It was to illustrate this point. Also, I think local capacity building-something you all in WM seem to have done quite well in-should always be prioritized.

            It seems clear from this comment thread that the primary concerns I was voicing are not being heard or understood. Many responses seem directed at psychiatry in general for instance, which is not my position at all. I’m sure I could have been more clear. It’s also true that I conflated your original post with a broader concerns on MiA, so I suppose I’m guilty of this same sort of thing. I was responding to broader issues, and with a context that extends beyond this post or even this website. Plus this is, after all, a comment thread.

            Certainly anyone is welcome to read my (personal) blog and twitter feed, though these are not a part of any “taxpayer funded” job. You can watch my amateur videos and listen to my bad recordings even, if your so inspired.

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        • It sounds like Timothy is saying that a doctor who hasn’t had a heart attack or cancer shouldn’t treat those who have heart attacks and cancer. The same would hold true for psychiatry and in this case since most so called “mental illness” is normal human suffering, the last ones who should be “treating it” are powerful biopsychiatrists in bed with Big Pharma for the most part for power, profit and disease mongering.

          Also, Timothy makes no secret that he came here with an agenda to argue against those at MIA rather than responding to Sera’s post.

          I want to apologize to you Sera for my own reaction to this derailment and attacks on MIA which I felt personally.

          I think your post is excellent and you have definitely walked the talk with your great involvement at MIA, in the alternatives/choice movement as evidenced by your great work in an alternatives organization and your excellent posts here. Your sharing of your own experience has been very helpful and enlightening too.

          Ironically, it has been more than demonstrated on this post through the many comments that it is a lesson in futility to try to argue with those brainwashed by mainstream biopsychiatry as is true elsewhere. Your example was all too common elsewhere too.

          Since biopsychiatry is ruled by ideology and the dirty tricks of Big Pharma CEO’s and corrupt KOL academics and doctors of psychiatry of the APA, it is very difficult for anyone stuck in this paradigm to accept real evidence based research and lived experience of the victims despite their claims to the contrary. Most of us here have researched tons of expert evidence and have not relied on any one expert including Bob Whitaker. We also have our own lived experience of the horrors of biopsychiatry, which was the greatest incentive for our obsessive search for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I read the courts were wise to make that statement required because of the many dangerous sins of omission that can qualify as huge lies that are so deadly to so many people. This is apparent with the huge lack of informed consent that prevails in biopsychiatry regarding bogus life destroying DSM stigmas, toxic drugs, ECT, etc.

          There is a saying about it being hard for anyone making a living off of something to admit it causes harm, is false, etc. I find it ironic that those attacking MIA members on this post are pursuing higher education in the mental health system whereby DSM stigmas, coercion and forced drugging/commitment remain the norm. Thus, they themselves will be coerced to push this mainstream paradigm or remain unemployed. As you see, in some cases free choice as in taking psychiatric drugs can be a deadly illusion.

          Thank you for all that you contribute to MIA.

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          • Thank you, Donna, for your post and your thanks. 🙂 No worries on participation in any derailment. It happens, and after the 50th post or so in the thread, I got over it. 😉 I still have much reading to do to fully catch up on all the comments, but thank you for taking the time to participate and share your thoughts.

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    • Hi Mr. Kelly, thanks for joining in the commenting. If you say you’ve been reading for a while but haven’t jumped in to comment, I say good, I’m glad you jumped in and started commenting.

      “would it be reasonable for a person who recovered from being wheelchair bound with a broken leg to speak to the experience of someone wheelchair bound due to paraplegia? To what extent could they really understand that experience, or make recommendations about how the person might ‘recover?’ “

      Paraplegia is by definition pretty much permanent, but if someone else has lived a similar problem, and found ways of coping, they should share them, and others can take or leave that wisdom I think. If someone smoked cigarettes for 3 years and quit, someone who has smoked for 30 years may still find their insights helpful.

      I don’t think Sera cherry picked some ‘troll’, I think the comment she chose to spotlight is very representative of the dumbed-down media driven and psychiatry driven narrative that there’s these people out there, and they ‘are’, ‘factually’, ‘ill’, and this state of being ‘ill’, is what ’caused’ mass shootings. And the hateful response from the guy she got that sort of said she only complains because she doesn’t ‘want to get locked up’, is hardly trolling, it’s how a lot of people feel about the group of people labeled ‘mentally ill’.

      If you want to dialogue with Allen Frances that’s up to you. I make no bones about my position, he’s a human rights criminal, a medical criminal, directly analogous to a war criminal, and he belongs in prison for the global proliferation in psychiatric labeling he is responsible for in signing off on DSM 4.

      We live in a world where there are actual laws on the books against us owning our own bodies. These laws are supported by a majority of the populace. The rationale for these violent, human rights abusing laws is based on entirely flawed logic. These laws enshrine legalized forced paternalism. Any perceived or ascribed paternalism one might find in the voluntary psychiatry sector, or the voluntary critical psychiatry sector, is something one can take or leave, cobble together bits of wisdom and exemplary stories and inspiration wherever you find it, if there’s one thing that can be truly said about people who don’t believe in mainstream psychiatry’s model, it’s that we don’t force it down anyone’s throat. The same can’t be said for the other side.

      We are 200 years into a narrative about ‘unreason’ written not by us, but by the madhouse keepers and their biological determinist descendants in modern day ‘drug and label’ psychiatry. A narrative that has laid to waste, our very equality in the eyes of the rest of humanity, peppered the entire globe with lies and dehumanizing slurs about us, our alleged ‘defectiveness’, and during this multi-generational dehumanization of us there has been established in every city, a chamber to which we can be taken for systematic forced drugging, places where our screams of non-consent count for naught.

      So yes, this is polarizing. Just like the interactions between all oppressed groups and the belief systems that oppress them. I like your skepticism of the ‘voice hearing’ interpretations and I don’t think there is anyone saying that has to be the way, it’s merely one alternative interpretation among many. One I concur with you in saying, has clearly been found helpful by many. I don’t think my experiences, or your experiences, my wisdom, or your wisdom, is the panacea for everyone, but with more and more people coming forward to offer what they’ve learned in dealing with or managing the problems in their lives, more and more options will be available, more and more opportunities for someone to cross paths with someone who may have some knowledge a person may find helpful.

      “Any ‘movement’ that presumes too much to know what’s best for others, isn’t willing to learn or be wrong when presented with conflicting information or experiences, ignores heterogeneity and individual differences, isn’t truly transparent and democratically organized…well, isn’t that just recapitulating the worst of what we want to change?”

      I don’t think this movement presumes to know what’s best for others. I frequently hear in this movement, various reassurances that if someone has found psychiatry’s toxic drugs assist them in managing their problems, we are all for that, we are for choice, freedom, and above all, freedom of interpretation. If someone wants to claim their burnt toast is Jesus’ face, or their problems are a brain disease I support their right to claim so, I support my right to disagree with that interpretation, especially given that interpretation is literally being forced on me by force of law in this ‘democratic’ society. Polarization is just an inescapable fact about controversies. I expect polarization to exist for the rest of my life and beyond. We are in a fight against biological determinist fanatics who think very little of doing us enormous violence in the name of their desire to force their brand of ‘help’ on us. Actual fanatics, who have shown for generations they are capable of actually entering the bodies of strangers by force, and then sleeping like babies at night safe in their justificatory mantras. I consider the primary hallmark of fanaticism the willingness to initiate actual force and violence in the name of one’s beliefs. This is what the people who choose to work in forced psychiatry (aka ‘the mental health system’) have shown they are willing to do. They remain poised to rape the brain of any stranger dragged kicking and screaming through their door. So yeah, it’s a polarizing area.

      I think many people in the movement are very cognizant of the fact that poverty and really multitudes of facts about the complexity of life in modern civilization play into the problems that get labeled ‘mental illness’. I think generally, if there is someone out there that has found solutions to their problems, or interpretations of their problems that work well for them, then they possibly have something to offer others who are facing similar problems. It’s up to the seeker of any bits of wisdom, to judge whether they think something is helpful.

      A main lesson I’ve learned is that nothing can be systematized, taught in colleges, and rolled out on a wide scale and be effective for all of the people all of the time. Wise counsel, and useful information is about all one can get, and one takes it where one can find it. This counsel becoming ‘professionalized’ was just about one of the worst things to ever happen in this area. A handful of survivor / professional crossovers does not the disestablishment of a multi-century mental patient / psychiatry dichotomy make. The entire basis for any profession is that the buyers of the services those professionals provide, seek out a skill or knowledge that those professionals have, that the buyer doesn’t. This is clearly something, this professionalization, that has been toxic to the resolution of the problems that get labeled ‘mental illness’ for the very reasons of heterogeneity that you point to. In fact if forced psychiatry is the ultimate statement of “I know what’s good for you”, a distant second place would be choosing to enter something called a “mental health profession” in the first place. Hanging out one’s shingle, is a communicative act to the world that says “I know something you don’t, pay me for it”. To some extent, even becoming a radical professional, still piggy backs on the general public’s reverence for credentials and mystifications, that were put in place by far more nefarious professionals than any radical professional could ever be. Standing on the shoulders of quacks. I’ve got nothing “against” anyone who chooses to go down the professional route, it’s the way the game is played, and the key to access populations with problems that get called “mental illness”, I’ve got nothing against any career decision unless it involves getting involved in forced psychiatry which I oppose.

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    • To begin with, in mainstream society, the acceptance is mostly only for people who take their medications, and believe they have a chemical imbalance, and repeat ideology that hasn’t been proven, while they are addicted to “medications” and would have severe side effects in trying to get off of them (again blamed on the disease that hasn’t been proven to exist); and to add to this that the minority here (although in terms of who have recovered, we AREN’T a minority, it’s only a minority in what ideology we hold onto, disregarding recovery rates), who have found a place to express their own healing, are expected to find it normal that THEIR experiences are ignored for the most part in mainstream treatment. Regardless of recovery rates, which are greater.
      And so we have this whole playing out, that, although YOUR view is mostly what’s promoted, because it isn’t promoted here, we are being discriminatory. Even though statistically the best methods of healing occur elsewhere, and ARE NOT promoted or even accepted in mainstream methods.
      Your use of the word “anomolous” shows the same inability to see exactly what is suppressed in common practice (the stress to conform is in common practice, not in alternative methods), your reference to wheelchairs does the same (it’s common practice that is suppressing alternative/different methods, NOT the other way around; alternative methods don’t have that kind of monopoly on treatment) and you talk about caring about poverty, when, a simple look at the economics of psychiatric drugging, the amount of money used to promote something that’s only causing more mental illness (and more consumers and more profits for those repressing what does help statistically), will clearly point out that it’s another exploitation of poor people, rather than something that’s truly helping them. That’s a corrupt economic model, and IT part of the suppression, although not the only element.
      And again you say it’s paternalistic to suppress a method, when it’s the paternalism of the drug companies suppressing what’s not drug related in treatment.
      When turning that amount of what’s acknowledged and what isn’t around, using phrases like anomolous, paternalism, and other high brow terminology doesn’t change the maneuver.
      And this whole gripe with what’s going on in MIA only points out that perhaps you’re not getting the support you need somewhere else, where you say we’re supposedly criticizing too much. Why do you come in here if you’re looking for support, and you get it somewhere else?

      Not to be sarcastic or insulting (TRULY), but I don’t really expect this statement to be understood as an argument, it’s only to point out the architecture of this turning around, so the pattern can be seen; and so that people like Sara (who DO understand) won’t feel they have to waste their time playing fetch with such machinery (unconscious or not)….

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      • And to be real clear: “Here is a metaphor, not intended to smuggle in a medical framework, but ask yourself: would it be reasonable for a person who recovered from being wheelchair bound with a broken leg to speak to the experience of someone wheelchair bound due to paraplegia? To what extent could they really understand that experience, or make recommendations about how the person might ‘recover?’”

        OK, I really think that when there’s an institution that tells you you HAVE TO believe you have a chemical imbalance, that when there’s not only abundant statistical material available that says people do better WITHOUT their treatment, that even far better results happen with other treatments; it’s pretty clear who is trying to define the other’s experience, AND healing, and is not allowing for another viewpoint.

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      • Thanks for chiming in, Nijinsky. 🙂 I often find it maddening how easy people find it to accuse others of discrimanatory practices when they are largely only attempting to speak up against the din of the predominant belief system. I haven’t read closely enough through the comments here yet to fully understand how much of that is happening here, but it is a phenomenon with which I feel very familiar.

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    • “Also, a message I often see on this website-and related spaces-is that people with lived experience need to be listened to, should be leaders in providing support and care to struggling others. I couldn’t agree more. So it confuses me when the perspective of a great many folks who have these experiences are discredited–almost as if they are brainwashed–because they take medication, identify with a diagnosis etc. I realize that powerful ideological forces can both constrain and produce experience and identity-for all us, no one is immune.”

      People on this site, mostly, really do nothing more than supply an alternative, and support this with evidence. Scientific evidence that there are better results, as well as pointing out that the chemical imbalance theory when applied to an organic disease, has yet to be proven. This isn’t the case with medications CAUSING chemical imbalance. When push comes to shove, and this very clear evidence is met with others, who when on medications and believing in diagnosis, have to respond with being accused of being brainwashed, this again, to me, is a clear case of turning things around.

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    • Timothy,

      I want to thank you for engaging with us here. While this thread does go a bit off-topic, it’s engaging a very important core conversation about who “we” are and what we’re doing with this website. I appreciate your contributions and those of others participating in this thread. This is a work in progress, and progress happens through engaging each other directly on the sticky issues.

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      • Thanks Matthew,

        I wrote my original post in haste, and didn’t anticipate all of this response-particularly attacks on Nev-by an anonymous poster who dug up a post Nev had taken down-and painstakingly combed through my twitter and blog for quotes etc.

        This is the risk we take being ‘out.’

        Just like every day when I go to work or school and make no secret of the fact that I experience ‘psychosis’ have been diagnosed with things that scare people etc. I take the risk-in spite of also being human and not enjoying being attacked, especially about such personal things as what’s under discussion here. I take the risk because it’s easier for me than for a lot of other people.

        As to my perspectives I’ve shared here: also risky. The fact that I DO think there is a huge difference between a brief ‘psychotic like’ experience and ongoing psychosis, for example. Somehow this is a taboo point to make in ‘c/s/x.’ Yet somehow not taboo for people to suggest that if one continues to experience ‘psychosis,’ its simply because of the choices one makes. This idea needs to be contested forcefully.

        On that note-and on the note of taking risks-I actually have had private conversations –with people who write blogs for MiA –who agree with what I’m saying. I’ve heard the sentiment that “if only you knew who agree’s with this” etc.

        So, there are more ‘visible’ ‘powerful’ folks in this community who remain silent on these issues. I’ve even invited them directly to offer statements. Silence. except behind the scenes.

        So I take the risk. Nev takes the risk. There are others. Somebody has too. With my real name. In full view of my employer, my department faculty…anyone with internet access. It’s a social justice issue. And it’s a social justice issue within movements as well. So we open ourselves up to attacks. So be it. Some will read (have read) what I have to say and recognize a perspective that is absent from a larger audience. Because no, I do not represent anything remotely ‘mainstream.’ hopefully it will encourage others to speak up.

        I will say I am very disappointed in people who have a recognizable survivor ‘celebrity’ status who have expressed privately they share some of these concerns, but are afraid to speak publicly. Hopefully some of you are reading this, and if it’s a conversation we have had-yes, I’m talking to you.

        And Sera, sorry this ended up a hijack of your original post. I did not plan this. It just happened to be the morning and the blog I was reading when I finally posted here. You’re right-it’s off topic.

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        • Timothy, Nev et al,

          I think it is highly questionable as to who is attacking whom and trying to force their views on others. I have read through this entire stream without commenting until now. I think you both attack several straw men that are not here such as falsely accusing people at MIA of attacking you, your experience, beliefs and other views when the only attacks I’ve read have been by you here and elsewhere.

          There is a new post on MIA’s main page about all the corruption in psychiatry’s/Big Pharma’s (one and the same for the most part) so called evidence based research and practices that is very evidence based itself. 1 boring old man’s blog is all about the huge corruption all too common in psychiatry in bed with Big Pharma and government. There have also been two recent articles on MIA about total lack of science and validity behind genetic research used to push right wing and other agendas to blame the victims of oppressive, deadly government/corporate agendas to avoid dealing with real problems like poverty, racism, sexim, abuse, etc. Since you are so intent on demonizing Bob Whitaker and those on this web site, you might want to check out 1boringoldman among many others who are fairly main stream psychiatrists, but abhor the corruption of their field with the onslaught of biopsychiatry selling out to Big Pharma to re-medicalize the ailing profession when Freudian psychoanalysis waned in the 1980’s that Bob Whitaker details in his great enlightening books. You cite Dr. Steingard while she too writes about the lack of science and the great corruption in psychiatric diagnosis and drugs/research. She has highly praised Dr. Mickey Nardo’s 1boringoldman web site too.

          Anyway, I have posted comments based on my own horrific experience with family I was able to save based on tons and tons of research by many, many experts in psychiatry, psychology, sociology that back up my views and my own contempt for what passes as mainstream psychiatry forced on one and all by our “therapeutic state” as described by Dr. Thomas Szasz.

          Here is a recent review of an excellent new book by highly acclaimed experts using much evidence based research to expose the fact that biopsychiatry is total fraud and junk science recently posted on MIA:

          Here is one of the authors, Dr. Tomi Gomory, giving a brief summary of MAD SICENCE:

          DR. GOMORY: “The book essentially takes a critical look at the entire field of psychiatry, from its inception as a formal medical specialty assumed to have special competence over madness and argues using the latest rigorous research available that its fundamental character is unscientific and it is a pseudo-medical profession. We found for example that its use of coercion is the only long-term consistent treatment that it has employed, the other “treatments” used dependent on the latest theoretical fashions or fads include confinement in locked facilities, physical restraint, lobotomy, electroshock, stupefying and energizing psychoactive drugs and talking therapy.. Our analysis of the DSM’s diagnostic approach, demonstrates that it uses arbitrary conceptual diagnostic labels that have no reliability and as a result no real world validity, an analysis now recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health on its website along with most scientific experts interested in the topic. And finally, we look at psychotropic medication. These really are a subset of a wide array of psychoactive chemicals that turn out not to target any specific illnesses but are generic and general behavioral change agents that anyone taking them, diagnosed or “normal” (assuming equal dosages) react to identically. Their behavior and mood states will become hyperactive/elevated or suppressed/depressed.”

          As with MindFreedom, nobody here condemns anyone’s personal choices such as accepting their labels or taking psych drugs, but we do condemn having others try to force their views down others’ throats as Anonymous has so eloquently pointed out. Further, unlike you, we can’t have our views forced on you and your children/family as you can with yours with such astro turf groups like NAMI, CHADD and others exposed all too well by U.S. Senator Grassley along with many corrupt psychiatrists on the take from Big Pharma to promote junk science and forced drugging.

          I think it would be much more helpful if you would simply state your own views about your own unique experiences without attacking others here and elsewhere who you believe disagree with you without any specific evidence. Like you, we are all unique individuals here with our own personal traumas, losses and lived experience whom you seem to want to lump into one great nefarious force against you. Yet, like you, we are all just trying to survive and do the best we can under less than ideal circumstances in the increasingly totalitarian dictatorship of the U.S.A. pretending to be a two party democracy while really controlled by corporate cronyism of which Big Pharma is now chief.

          I don’t mean this as a personal attack, but rather, my take on feeling totally confused and appalled by constant accusations about things supposedly said and done by MIA members that are simply not there in my opinion. Perhaps this is what is called a projection of your own one sided approach to these very difficult challenges. Claiming Bob Whitaker and others are not “evidence based” as opposed to main stream researchers who are supposedly “evidence based” is certainly an attack on Bob Whitaker and his followers in my opinion.

          I, too, appreciate you posting alternative views to give us other food for thought, but why not just state those views without attacking others’ equally valid views?

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        • Timothy, I think it is something about which we should be very cautious to judge others for coming here without disclosing their full name. There is a certain courage to being ‘out’ for people to examine, but there is courage to be found in other ways, as well. And there are valid reasons why people make the choices they do.


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          • Sera,

            I don’t think you read my post. I made no judgement about private commenters on this site not being ‘out,’ My comment had to do with people who are already ‘out’ and visible-bloggers on this site etc. who I have had conversations with, or been privy to their conversations with others who share some of the concerns I have expressed and stay quite about those concerns. That is what I am referring to. You and I both know that there are ugly politics behind the scenes. This is what I am referring to. I’d be more than happy to discuss those things publicly if you really want to have that conversation, but I suspect we could find a more appropriate venue. I’m in favor of transparency.

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          • “Timothy” You made the following statements. “This same poster-who I can’t really respond to because they aren’t using their name-seems to be attacking “psychiatry” as a proxy for arguing against points I made in my original comment.” 

            ALL the posters here have a very clear screen name. There is NO reason you can not respond and have the decency to acknowledge the screen name they are using and have chosen, when addressing them. That you “cannot really respond to” them according to you is completely untrue disingenuous and convoluted. Whatever screen name they use whether it’s @#$*(@#$@*#( or any other combinations of characters available on the computer keyboard, that is THERE screen name, THERE personal choice and how they represent themselves here, and any comment addressed to THAT screen name ends up being addressed to them and who they are here in this post. The only variation on that might be that someone else uses their login (having been allowed to or having stolen it), but that could as EASILY happen with someone who uses their “legal” name.

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          • Sorry about mispelling “There” which should have been clearly their.

            But this is clearly frustrating having to deal with the amount of turning things around, and then forgetting or denying what a person CLEARLY has said.

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          • Nijinsky,

            Yes, I did say “I cannot really respond” in a different post than the one Sera was responding to. She then, responded to this post by saying I was ‘judging’ someone’s decision to not be ‘out’ on this site, which I was not. My point was really to simply say that I did not want to respond to someone who was attacking me-based on personal information I have made publicly available-while they are anonymous. Thats not a judgment of them. Thats my preference.

            As to ‘decency’ as you say, It’s not a matter of decency for me to choose to respond or not respond to people, especially in the context of a comment thread, and especially when there are many many attacks of positions I don’t hold.

            But going back to Sera’s original post, arguing on the internet when a framework has not been set so meaningful dialogue can happen is likely fruitless. As appears to largely be the case here.

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          • Timothy, in reality, I think, you have hijacked this thread based on your gripes with things that weren’t even going on in this post or this site, made gross generalizations while ignoring that the people you are criticizing and judging are the brunt of EXACTLY the kind of behavior you are accusing them of FROM the people you are saying we’re disrespectful of when we point out what’s going on (this is possibly why -_Anonymous can not share his name, because if he dares to dissent against this “method” you say people putting it on the line about are being unfair towards, he may lose personal freedoms and be assaulted with human rights abuses). Whether Anonymous attacked you is YOUR opinion, I don’t agree with it. What I see is that you are trying to repress his freedom to express his own viewpoint.

            In fact, it already was explained to you why someone like -_Anonymous can’t share their “legal” name. I just had to repeat that. If you were a bit more sensitive to what people go through, it wouldn’t have had to be repeated.

            And then you say that meaningful or fruitful dialogue cannot occur here, because after coming in here and changing the topic, and accusing people here of things that we don’t believe; we don’t agree with you.

            On the contrary what has been going on is that there’s such interest for fair play and open dialogue, that all of that has been tolerated, and even welcomed.

            And -_Anonymous was simply in open dialogue debating what you said on your blog. This was after you came in here and went of topic to this blog. YOU introduced yourself, and started criticizing what going on here in general, We really didn’t go looking for you. He was just honestly debating what YOU brought up, when you went off topic. When he doesn’t agree with you and can sustain his logic, what I see is that you say he’s attacking you. Knowing his legal name, and the rest of his personal information he doesn’t chose to share has totally NOTHING to do with defending or maintaining the logic of your blog, and wouldn’t defend your blog, either. One can only guess why you make such a requirement. You’d really have to defend your blog with your own logic. Again, that’s your own choice to engage with him or not, but when you say you “can’t” because he uses a screen name rather than his real name, that simply isn’t true, because it’s about your blog not his legal identity, or anything else about him he doesn’t share here. To me, that in itself it judging him, the way that you presented it.

            And to me, that’s simply more of the excuses you’ve been touting to not enter into open dialogue. That’s how I see it, sorry.

            To me, you use a whole array of terms that seem designed to vacillate in perspective in order to not engage with what’s actually going on with what you are trying to defend. In doing so, to me, you constantly portray the flaws of what you are trying to defend, rather than making a statement about what’s going on. Certainly not here.

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    • Timothy, I have a friend who had “psychosis” for 20 years, about, or more. And completely recovered. Incidentally, when you do not medicate someone, and leave them alone for that amount of time, there’s also, according to quite a few studies, more chance of recovery than with medications. The reason my friend recovered is, according to her own words, that she ditched fear based religious beliefs. She stopped believing that there was a devil after, her, which sometimes cause her to believe that people could put spells on her, that there was such a malevolent entity.
      I’ve also had the same number of years of “psychosis,” and learned from it, in going through it, and have the same story about fear and stress. This can be incredibly subtle, what kind of fear runs society, and causes stress. It can simply be the stress that one feels one has to be doing something; or that one isn’t a worthy human being if they aren’t doing something. And being marginalized, resulting in the inevitable hope that one day one will be accepted, this can be an extra push to get one to start doing things more based on just doing “something,” rather than actually coming from the core. I have run myself ragged more than a few times, doing an immense amount of work I’m hardly acknowledged for at an institutional level, although at other levels it was highly appreciated (even in the institutions themselves). This led to psychosis, in the end, just causing that much stress, and hope that was a bit misplaced.

      I have a book called A Course in Miracles that helps me immensely right now, and which so to speak makes me happy I’m “defeated” from doing too much. It’s just a play on words. There’s of course a bit of a sigh letting go of high hopes and ambitions (and the rather riled up feeling one is doing something, a feeling which even becomes physical), but they are always replaced with the immense knowledge that there’s an amazing opening there towards truth, towards an amazing matrix of what’s already there for me, which doesn’t require all of the stress the world would say I need to go through before I deserve anything.

      I really think letting go of fear is an incredibly important thing, and learning not to stress the mind in such a way might be a necessary precursor to getting off of medications.

      I do think you need to stop insulting people insinuating that statements they have made about recovery point out that they haven’t been through as much as you have, and then use the term heterogeneity in order to try to meld this all together (as if people who have actually recovered, and whose method is NOT recognized, just haven’t suffered as much as those who haven’t). You DO NOT know what they have been through, many who have been through years and years of trauma, you might not know ANYTHING about. And yet they have healed. Also many who have been through as many years of “psychosis” or other difficulties as you. And yet they have recovered. The point is that their method is NOT acknowledged, although it truly has clear advantage, methodically (doesn’t take away personal freedoms), economically, statistically and scientifically (is based on clear science, doesn’t cause a chemical imbalance through “medications” stating that they cure one). Because someone has recovered, doesn’t mean they haven’t been through as much as others; in many cases, they have been through more, because they have had to take on the whole system which is saying and trying to enforce that they are supposed to see it differently.

      You stated:

      “What about ‘recovery?’ I personally think it is problematic to emphasize ‘full recovery’ as in many of the public ‘heroic survivor narratives’-as sociologist Linda Morrison has put it-without emphasizing that many people-myself included-continue to experience ongoing distressing experiences of ‘psychosis’-regardless of any type of intervention, ‘Hearing Voices’ groups or otherwise. I think it can be problematic when individuals speak –on the basis of relatively brief or circumscribed experiences–about what those of us with enduring and ongoing difficulties need to do in order to ‘recover.’ Clearly these experienced are poorly understood ‘scientifically’ and ‘culturally,’ but what we do know seems to point to their being ‘caused’ by many different things and leading to many different outcomes. The longitudinal studies that are frequently-and problematically-cited as evidence that neuroleptics ‘cause’ psychosis, point to this heterogeneity. Some people simply continue to struggle. It’s been a consistent finding. For me personally, this is why it has been important to focus on how to live the life I want in spite of my different way of experiencing the world (ie. ‘struggles’)”

      The statements about neuroleptics leading to psychosis, is simply a very NEEDED statistical AND medical statement. To include this with a whole statement as if this needed information is denying someone’s suffering is quite convoluted and disingenuous. The same statements about other controlled substances like sugar, coffee, alcohol or even illegal ones (which used to be psychiatric drugs 50 years ago) are the same kind of statements.

      Beyond that people still make their own choices. It’s only those who chose NOT TO be forced on medications that DO NOT have a free choice to NOT take the medications, often!

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  3. I met one of my “voices” face to face. It’s called telepathy.

    “If we truly believe in a world where voices, visions and other unusual experiences are accepted as real and valuable, then we need to develop a picture of what that world might look like and how we might take steps toward bringing it to life.”


    Voices? Visions? Let me know when anybody wants to have a real conversation about Spirit.

    (I *love* the fact that parapsychology and paranormal phenomena are categorized in the Science & Mathematics > Alternative section of Yahoo! Answers)

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    • mjk, Yours is the second response in a row to my blog by which I’m feeling a little perplexed. The whole idea I’m getting at is that the hearing voices movement is all about accepting people’s understandings and interpretations for themselves as real and being more concerned with how that actually impacts their lives then what those understandings and interpretations are and who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Thus, anything from a medical interpretation to a trauma interpretation to a paranormal interpretation and beyond is ultimately seen as equal.


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      • I saw a woman in my mind and met her two weeks later in a psych ward. She would NOT leave my side and followed me everywhere. She was silent – never spoke.

        Any idea how difficult it was for me to DEAL WITH ALL OF THAT.

        I made my comment for a reason. It shouldn’t be so perplexing.

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      • In good faith here, I’m going to ask a couple of things about this ‘hearing voices movement’ and give some impressions I have as someone who hasn’t really looked into it a great deal, and as someone who hasn’t been a part of it.

        “being more concerned with how that actually impacts their lives”

        This is a key, so key, fact about this ‘hearing voices movement’ that is not elucidated often enough, a very important point! Helps a lot to hear it again I’d forgotten it temporarily.

        Although I cringe every time I see what they’ve decided to name this movement, because within the name itself, is an interpretation. A rather passive recipient / active phenomenon type language, that reads as literal. It’s also a little exclusionary. Where’s the ‘believing you’re being spied on movement’?

        These stats they come out with, X% of the population ‘hears voices’. I wouldn’t unequivocally assert that. I’d say something more along the lines of X% of the population when surveyed, by a leading question, agree with the interpretation that their internal dialogue, their self-conversations, ought to be conceptualized using a paradigm of mental experiences taken to be disembodied ‘voice’ characters in some narrative and this is a big part of how I’m living my life right now and possibly forever.

        I think the name ‘hearing voices’ is awful. It plays into all these knife grabbing Hollywood stereotypes, appears, although this is just my interpretation, to reify psychiatry’s construct of an ‘auditory hallucination’, some active somatically generated force of nature that acts upon its passive recipient… it’s just not clear at all to me why this name for the movement is not considered problematic by many others. Or is it? I guess it was named in the 1980s and what’s done is done now.

        I admire the goals and seeming tenets of this subset of the movement, and I freely without question admit it has helped thousands of people. It just seems a little exlusionary to me, a break-off iceberg in the critical psychiatry broader movement, where if the idea of conceptualizing your problems as ‘listening’ to some ‘sound’, doesn’t appeal to you, why would I want to sit in some circle like that? Maybe I would like it, I don’t know enough about it, haven’t tried it, I just find the name a massive turnoff. I hope I can say this without offending anyone. I don’t mean to offend. Everyone can understand what a survivor is. But what is a ‘voice hearer’? Is there going to be a ‘paranoia experiencer movement’ too? or a ‘believing you’re being spied on movement’? Why is it so narrow in its naming? It just seems exclusionary and something I need to learn move about, but I know one thing, i’ll never like that name. I think that name is bad politically, bad strategically, and plays right into the hands of the forces that seek to make us out to be passive ‘experiencers of floating phenomena’ straight out of central casting. If we are to reclaim autonomy, and basic human rights, is a name like ‘hearing voices movement’, a name that reeks of the idea that we don’t have free will, that we are ‘at the mercy’ of some ‘force’, some thing, a good idea?

        I don’t understand it all that much yet. I’m going to make a point of seeing that film that people are talking about. I don’t know.

        I know that its all about accepting any interpretation. But isn’t the act of naming this thing the ‘hearing voices movement’ itself, holding to an interpretation? Or maybe I’m just all confused. I find this ‘hearing voices movement’ thing confusing I must say. If people find it helpful I’m all for it being on offer to them.

        I really have tried, to make an effort here, to just bounce some questions and thoughts I had about this thing off you. I am not condemning this aspect of the movement, I’m just trying to communicate to you, I have a couple of misgivings about that name. It’s just not a clear thing to me. And I tend to be big picture and about the political strategic elements of our movement, but I accept that support groups such as these are more important for what the individuals get out of them, than for any broader message they send to the world at large. Many parts of the message I see this sending to the world I think are very positive, I just have a few misgivings about this thing, whatever, it’s got it’s name, it’s had it’s name since the 80s, it’s not gonna change any time soon. I’m just spit-balling.

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        • RE:

          “A rather passive recipient / active phenomenon type language, that reads as literal. It’s also a little exclusionary. Where’s the ‘believing you’re being spied on movement’?”


          Though I am certainly no expert on the “Hearing Voices” movement, my impression of it, is that it is not about any one belief nor any particular way of interpreting the world.

          And, while it is very often associated with a presumed ‘psychosis,’ the experience of ‘hearing voices’ does not necessarily imply any amount of delusion.

          The “Hearing Voices” movement refers, I believe, to the congregation and liberation of people who have very real experiences, of encountering internal voices (and, perhaps, other sounds); as they are internal experiences, they are perceptible only to oneself, not to others.

          If you have not already done so, I recommend watching this TED Talk, “Eleanor Longden: The voices in my head,” on Youtube…

          Also, this film, on Youtube (“The doctor who hears voices”), which features the work of MIA blogger, Rufus May:

          Note: Rufus May begins that film, by acting in a way that ostensibly demonstrates what it’s like to ‘hear voices’; but, really, he is demonstrating a kind of voice (one might reasonably think of it, as a berating voice); certainly, many people who ‘hear voices’ do experience them in that way; but, there are, in fact, many ways that internal voices can manifest.

          Some people report ‘hearing voices’ that are quite benevolent.



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        • Hey Anonymous, I have to admit that I’m completely overwhelmed by the number of comments and so am jumping around and trying to respond to the ones that seem to be asking concrete questions, since I still don’t really have time to read through from beginning to end.

          In terms of what you’re asking… I think someone already mentioned the Paranoia Network, so I guess part of the answer is ‘Yes,’ some people will break off and form other more narrowly focused groups. 🙂

          In terms of the pluses or minuses of the name, well, honestly, it’s not something I’ve spent a ton of time worrying about. Yes, there are people who debate about its narrow focus and it’s not being enough to just say that others are welcome. I think some have moved to change it.

          Personally, I’m not sure it’s worth getting stuck there. The name appeals to me in a few ways that don’t fit with what you’re saying. For example, you suggest that it fits into the knife-wielding stereotypes. I’d suggest that it was chosen specifically because it is one of the experiences that is most looked down upon or that brings up the most fear for people, and to call it ‘hearing voices’ rather than the ‘Schizophrenia network,’ etc. challenges the stereotypes all on its own.

          When we speak broadly in ‘survivor’ terms, etc., it happens all too often that people hear that as ‘Oh, you know, some people that have had a pretty hard time, but not of course, the people who are REALLY sick… like, you know, the one’s that hear VOICES and stuff like that!” Obviously, I’m paraphrasing and drawing upon zillions of conversations I’ve heard or read. It’s routine that – when we hold events – someone approaches and asks something like, “Yes, but what about the really sick ones.” That happened just this past week when we had Daniel Mackler up to do screenings of his latest film (Coming Off Psych Drugs).

          So, what I see the movement trying to do is say, “We’re not going to be vague about this. We’re not going to use some umbrella term. We’re not going to keep this secret any more because people find it scary. We’re going to put it right out there, own it, and change how the world understands what hearing voices looks like.”

          I think many (myself included) would agree with what you’re saying about hearing voices being on the same spectrum as some of our internal dialogues, etc. I’d say that many people who speak or train out of the hearing voices movement are careful to make that point. It’s been brought up in every training that the Western Mass RLC has offered. And yet, I still come back to the same point: People have felt a tremendous amount of shame and/or fear of other people’s fear of their experiences and part of the whole point of naming it hearing voices and *then* talking about the spectrum idea is to help people hopefully find some way to relate to it all and stop making it such an ‘other’ing experience.

          I think it’s absolutely and totally fine for you not to like it, though, and fine as well for you not to seek out such a group. It’s absolutely not for everyone, but it’s tremendously powerful for others. In the end, it’s about making space for people to own their own experiences, define their own stories, and speak without fear about something that perhaps previously got them shipped off so that they can have room to explore meaning and how it all is or isn’t working for their life.

          Hope that helps somehow.


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          • As far as I know, sick people are the sort of people who kick a live dog to death – for fun. THOSE are sick people. Then there are the sickened, and there is a big difference. I’m the sickened one (VERY deeply disturbed).

            I was once stricken with a vision while driving. It’s the sort of vision where my immediate environment “ceased to exist” (which it really didn’t, but it did). My field of vision was an alternate reality, as if I was standing right there in some other place. I had to watch a group of males kicking a dog to death. I heard the dog screaming. OMG. OMG. VERY VERY difficult to endure that. I was SO stunned that I immediately called my husband and told him what happened. He said, “that just happened a few weeks ago. It was in the newspaper.”

            It took YEARS for me to process that episode. I’ve had precognition many times and there is another type (which I forget the name of right now and I’m too lazy to google it). It’s the sort that shows HISTORY instead of future. I have it both ways.

            What really, really sizzles my blood is how these NATURAL abilities of Psyche are illustrated and attributed to “super heroes” with “super powers” and other fantasy fabrications – greatly diminishing the validity of REAL PEOPLE who live with these VERY serious conditions. NOT fun.

            Known Users

            From the invalidation of psychiatry to the invalidation of comic book super heroes, I’M TIRED.

            Negation is a gate to one Black, Black Hell.

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          • mjk I don’t pretend to know what’s going on in your life, like I’m an authority only you could be about yourself; but I guess I’ve also had this kind of time loops. In a different way. With me it’s more “past” lifetimes, and you learn actually that the history book are mostly propaganda. The person beating the dog to death is called the winner, and he’s made out to be a hero, and the dog the enemy. It doesn’t even seem to have anything to do with who they are beating, just a random target. But beyond time, you see, maybe the dog isn’t dead. Maybe that’s just an unreal time loop where death is made out to be something we’re supposed to stop by investing in hating and traumatizing those that inflict it on others (when that’s actually more what caused the behavior rather than what will stop it). Sadly, it’s the people beating the dog to death that are ditching their own self, their own humanity. And looking at past lifetimes, and the horrible things that happened, I learned that when I let go of them they are over, and they’re not going to repeat.

            There’s a tribe of people called the real people tribe (see books by Marlo Morgan: Mutant Message Down Under and Mutant Message from Forever). They had to be published as fiction to protect these people, but they aren’t really fiction. Here, they say every meeting is from forever. This actually means that the source of it is beyond time and space, and that there’s an element there that can’t be destroyed or even defended (there’s no need to defend it when it’s from forever). What happens is that the pattern repeats itself when we respond with fear, rather than love (love for creation itself). We actually can get the pattern to not repeat itself, to not have to deal with the things that we hate, when we stop hating them. And thus time (I believe) isn’t some linear thing ticking away whose antics we are slave to.

            I’m not saying don’t do something to stop them killing the dog, but do it in a way without hatred so that the pattern stops. And actually, that way, your reflexes to know what to do are there. I think…..

            I hope this helps mjk….

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          • Nijinsky,

            That’s a great comment that you left for mjk, about the nature of time, etc. (on August 27, 2013 at 7:30 am).

            You mentioned those books by Marlo Morgan. I never read the second one, but the first one I read, at the time that it was first put into wide distribution (that was roughly twenty years ago).

            That book had an hugely positive effect on me.

            I should go back and read it again.

            It led me to studying, on my own, about the Aboriginal peoples of various cultures.

            A few years prior, I had been introduced to A Course in Miracles. (You mentioned that book in your comment to Timothy, on August 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm; and, you’ve mentioned it previously, I know.)

            That book (A Course in Miracles) also had an huge, positive effect on me, but I never read it full through.

            I had a used copy (and still have it, somewhere, probably in storage).

            It was full of the yellow highlighter marks that were placed in it, by its original owners.

            It was given to me, as a gift.

            The spirit in which it was given to me was very touching; the man who gave it to me was someone I’d met in 12-Step meetings, including a Codependents Anonymous, men’s meeting.

            It was an amazing group of men, whom I’ll never forget, in the sense that it was a group who were deeply committed to mutual recovery.

            We were committing ourselves to come to this meeting, once a week; each week, I shared a bit more about myself.

            One man, whom I looked up to (i.e., the one who wound up giving me that book), had heard me share about how I was, then, in the early stages, of recovering from addiction to psychiatric drugs, how I’d been forcibly made into a psychiatric drug addict, by way of psychiatry and the many really good intentions of then seriously ‘codependent’ family members…

            Of course, when I speak here of ‘codependency,’ I am referring to what is, actually better described as a tendency to get into relationship where there are poorly established boundaries.

            (Usually, that means the individuals are trying to control one another; and/or, some are controlling and others are more or less voluntarily allowing themselves to be controlled.)

            Anyway, your having mentioned both those books, in this string of comments, has me thinking about that time…

            Time is such a interesting phenomena.

            I was powerfully affected by books, as a young man — including, especially, the writings of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., when I was a teenager.

            His most famous book, Slaughterhouse-Five, was absolute transformational, for me.

            It’s now been many years since I’ve read it, but I believe it begins with these words, “Billie Pilgrim has come unstuck in time…”

            (Perhaps, you’ve read that book? If not, you can probably guess, from what I’m saying, that Billie Pilgrim is the main character.)

            Billie Pilgrim was a character developed from the author’s own experiences, as a foot-soldier, having witnessed the firebombing of Dresden, Germany.

            The experience was plainly traumatizing (to put it mildly).

            I think that people who are deeply traumatized almost inevitably wind up ‘time traveling’ (at least, in their minds) throughout the course of their lives, because those traumatic experiences create a ‘need’ to ‘escape’ the present moment and/or because those traumatic experiences have lessons, which need to be learned; so, we go back to them, again and again…

            The problem is, that sometimes it’s hard to just be in the present.

            And, oh, wow, look at the time!

            Right now, I’ll bring this comment to a close — because I need to be in the present.

            (Must empty the dishwasher, bring in the newspaper, and, then, in just a few minutes from now, I’ll be driving my daughter to school.)

            Must hurry off now…

            Thanks for posting so many thoughtful comments in this thread (and in other threads).



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        • Hi Nijinsky,

          My comment about precognition and psychic visions wasn’t looking for help. I share my experiences for many different reasons but it’s mostly for others to see by (and I think they often don’t – because they’re looking at something else).

          I know and understand past-life times and Eternal Life very well. I also know the source of the Universe and Nothingness very well (better than anyone else that I’ve ever known).

          Waking up to (remembering and realizing) past-life times can be very powerful experiences. That is another “trip to the psych ward” for some people (where the people “ramble on” about “crazy non-sense” and DON’T GET THE SUPPORT that they need). I’m at my “destiny” right now, which is the house and neighborhood I’m in. A destiny is a destination. I arrived years ago and had to “deal with” everything by myself (causing me to scream endlessly on the internet – to people who don’t care and don’t understand).

          I’ve had plenty of experience but I’m no author. If I have any book at all, My book is a LIVING book – and it exists and unfolds on the internet, constantly.

          Thank you for your attention, kindness and responses to me Nijinsky. *smiles*

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  4. How we embrace the highly diverse truths of others with whom we share the planet depends on how at peace we are with our own truth. Finding peace of mind with our own truth is healing, and requires no proof, explanation, nor defense to others.

    I believe that real and tangible change will occur as each of us has our own personal awakening to what is true for us, personally and spiritually, and as we align with this truth in whatever unique way that occurs for each one of us. Otherwise, we’re simply passing along the same dynamics and illusions of any group think.

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  5. Timothy said: “So it confuses me when the perspective of a great many folks who have these experiences are discredited–almost as if they are brainwashed–because they take medication, identify with a diagnosis etc.”

    This is the criticism some people seem to have against the survivor movement, that somehow because we don’t believe in psychiatry’s quackery that we are ‘erasing’ or ‘discrediting’ the experiences of others. No, it’s simply a differing interpretation. Some people feel ‘morally blamed’ for not succeeding in mastering their problems without psychiatry’s toxic drugs. I don’t feel this way.

    I know plenty of people who haven’t yet succeeded in coping with life without toxic drugs of all kinds, toxic alcohol, toxic cigarettes, all sorts of drugs of choice. Pointing out that the evidence is overwhelming that the drugs are ‘toxic’, is not to morally judge a person who is living with the perceived aid of various drugs. I only really morally judge people who initiate violence against others. Everything else you’re doing to get through this life, is fine with me, it’s none of my business. If you feel ‘invalidated’ by things various psychiatric survivors say, maybe that’s just your reaction to hearing or reading a position or discourse that isn’t to your liking. It’s not incumbent upon everyone to hold everyone else’s hand and make sure everyone is happy with every single little thing that is said. I disagree with a lot of things I’ve read on your blog Timothy, but I certainly don’t feel the need to claim that reading these things is ‘erasing’ my experiences. A comment you left on your own blog reads:

    ” C/s/x has become dominated by a message of ‘recovery’ from psychiatry. In this narrative, what is under erasure is madness itself. I have certainly experienced psychiatric harm. Far more than the majority of activists I have met. Still, for me, those experiences pale in comparison to the extent to which my life has been impacted by madness. For me, it’s not about psychiatry. It’s about madness. This is what I meant. I also think the stories we most often see promoted by various c/s/x organizations are narratives of people who claim to either have been misdiagnosed, only experienced one or two episodes, or who never experienced the system at all”

    I wouldn’t be caught dead putting the word ‘only’ before someone else’s ‘one or two’ crises. Nor will you ever see me assert that I’ve been harmed ‘far more than’ the majority of others. I believe that at this website we frequently discuss the experiences that get labeled ‘madness’, as well as spend a lot of time discussing psychiatry. This website by no means discusses psychiatry in a vacuum. Psychiatry, happens to be the alleged ‘solution’ to so called ‘madness’ that holds a public policy monopoly in this world, so it gets discussed a lot.

    Elsewhere on the same page linked above, you share your views on the state of the movement:

    “And the most visible faces of c/s/x? They perform a monologue solely on psychiatry, discrediting psychiatry, easy pickings to be sure. Telling a story of heroic survival of psychiatry. It is as if the confederates from Rosenhan’s experiment have taken it upon themselves to speak for all the patients. As if patienthood, rather than madness was the key to the experience.”

    Comparing the Rosenhan experiment to our experiences? Some might argue this is ‘silencing, erasing, discrediting’… but I don’t think I’m bothered all that much.

    Timothy your ‘mad’ reading list says:

    “I had Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker on this list, but feel I can no longer recommend it.”

    Here, your refer to two decades of ‘psychotic’ ‘episodes’:

    ” I still experience ‘psychosis.’ But nowadays I think it would be very very unlikely that I would be hospitalized. 2 decades of psychotic episodes have taught me a lot.”

    You’re completing the highest degree in higher education. Whatever solutions you’ve found to your distress, seem to be working for you to some extent, and I congratulate you. I’d say we don’t share the same interpretation of what ‘psychosis’ is, or agreement on the merits of the concept of an ‘episode’.

    You said on your blog “Like most aspects of these issues, I see grey where many seem to want to take a side in a dichotomy. Hospitals, and people who work in them, are not always bad. Sometimes they are horrific. I’ve experienced both.”

    My position is that people who choose to work in forced psychiatry are ‘good people doing very bag things’, much like any other industrialized system of state violence. I think the decision to work in forced psychiatry is a morally flawed decision, because it involves initiating unspeakably invasive violence against strangers. The issue of state sanctioned violence, and the state agents that execute this violence, is a political and moral position I take similar to being against slavery or rape. Of course some people find these facilities that get labeled ‘hospitals’ helpful. I’m all for their right to purchase these services if they find them useful.

    On your Twitter feed, you’ve warned others to approach the Mad in America site with skepticism, and you’ve called The Open Paradigm project one sided.

    “Timothy Kelly @TimothyKellyIA
    @felicitycallard Many ‘pro diagnosis’ stories online, equally 1 sided as open paradigm. See Jacks Mcnamara for example of ‘grey’ IMO.
    6:19 AM – 31 May 2013”

    This ‘grey’ contingent has criticized Whitaker’s interpretation of psychiatry’s toxic drugs contributing to people’s problems. I don’t believe in outright blaming drugs for complex human behaviors and problems, but I accept toxic drugging long term can impair people’s ability to cope with problems.

    In another tweet, you say:

    “Timothy Kelly ‏@TimothyKellyIA 31 May

    Robert Whitaker’s narrative of chronicity caused by psych drugs is like chem imbalance theory he critiques. Oversold /ignores complexity”

    Another academic, in a blog post said to have been inspired by a conversation with you, a blog post from someone called ‘Nev’, in Nev’s post “Problems inside the movement” we hear talk about this site being the “Whitaker Empire”…

    This critique of the state of the movement, includes the following passage:

    “C/s/x ‘critique,’ I find myself wondering, what exactly ‘is’ it? Certainly it often seems to involve a blunt, and extraordinarily narrow attack on psychotropic drugs as well as the quasi-mythic monolith of “biopsychiatry”; references to so-called “pseudoscience” are common, for the most part ironically grounded entirely in pseudoscience (i.e. popular journalism ‘interrogations’ of the literature that are typically lacking in anything even approximating a sophisticated understanding of epidemiology, research design, statistics, neuroscience or psychopharmacology).”

    “there are service users with strong interests or investments in research, including neuroscience and epidemiology; there are (smart & sophisticated) service users who prefer primarily biological explanations, or a more complex combination of biological, environmental, cultural and sociopolitical contributories; there are service users and peer specialists—thousands of them, quite likely—who work on a daily basis with peers who cannot communicate with others, take care of their basic needs, or work due to the severity of their disabilities. Finally, there are plenty of service users for whom medications do in fact (at least if their subjective experience is to be believed) selectively target and reduce or eliminate distressing voices or beliefs, not simply via “generalized tranquillization” (ala Joanna Moncrieff).”

    Now I wasn’t aware of your blog, or this other person’s blog, but I seem to detect some theme, whereby there are these academics that got labeled ‘mentally ill’, who claim to see ‘grey’, and place massive primacy on ‘professional research training’ and have some kind of unease that thousands of people read the Mad in America site. The claim that psychiatry’s major tranquilizer drugs ‘selectively target’ specific thoughts and beliefs is not credible to me. I don’t believe anyone’s gold plated ‘professional research training’ enables them to prove this nonsensical assertion. I have never, ever seen on this site, any author claim that psychiatry’s drugs are right for everyone, bad for everyone, that the things get labeled ‘madness’ are some spiritual breakthrough for everyone, or a spiritual breakthrough for nobody. In reading through the highfalutin blogs of the self declared “grey” activists I sense some kind of anxiety that this movement is “discrediting” itself among academia.

    I can understand why someone so heavily invested in academia would care what other academics think. I honestly don’t care what academics think about the movement. This movement, even if it doesn’t live up to some academic’s standards, is reaching people, providing them with critical perspectives they otherwise wouldn’t hear and enabling people to possibly reorganize their lives in light of critical perspectives on the mainstream psychiatry narrative. Sites like this, The Open Paradigm videos, and lots of things, are reaching the masses, whereas most academics in all fields, remain obscured, in their ivory towers, hidden on some seldom visited faculty page, their prose poisoned by some Derrida-esque highfalutin academese.

    To say things like the Open Paradigm project is “one sided” is one thing. People who happy to live within the mainstream psychiatry model and narrative have 99% of the web to go look at if they don’t like any given website.

    I really don’t care what monolithic ‘academia’ thinks about this movement, because there exists no real hard science on this entire planet that can objectively explain the complexities of human life and the extreme states of mind a person can experience in their lifetimes. Quibbles about how the ‘Whitaker Empire’ is presenting a case for a critical rethinking of psychiatry, science and community, are fine. I’m sure if you wrote a piece for this website they’d publish it. I’ve read vast amounts of material on these issues, and early in my journey to understand psychiatry and my problems, and even to this day, I sure see some stuff that doesn’t ‘meet my standards’ of what I’d like it to all be like. I’m still prepared to say that even the most hamfisted, lightweight critiques of psychiatry I’ve ever laid eyes on, are still something I’m glad exist. They can all spark a fire in the heart of someone facing problems in life, spark a fire in the heart of someone who is stuck in psychiatry’s quackery based paradigm, and to me, every single piece of writing, media, whatever that I’ve ever read on this issue, is valuable. I’ll even go as far as saying the garbage Scientology puts out can set someone on a path to arriving at an amazing website like this one. Whether it’s up to academia’s standards I couldn’t care less. To me, finding a way to solve one’s problems, or manage one’s problems, and a way out of psychiatry’s box, is a beautiful gift, a life-giving gift, that can save lives. Work like Whitaker’s has saved lives, just read his Amazon reviews. Nobody’s perfect or has all the answers but we all try.

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    • Anonymous,

      Since you’re critiquing my blog (and me) by name, I felt compelled to come over and post a brief response. Reactionary anti-intellectualism (including gross over-generalizations about “research”, psychopharmacology, etc.) strikes me as deeply counterproductive. Whitaker’s books hinge on “scientific” evidence, as do alternatives such as Open Dialogue, and I’m honestly at a loss as to understand why anyone who cares about the issues would not want to engage, deeply and thoughtfully, with the insights and shortcomings of the existing research literature. (To say nothing of anthropology, sociology and other fields that focus on nothing if not the complexities of bio-psycho-socio-cultural life.

      With respect to the strategic or political benefit of more “extreme” political positions within the c/s/x community, I disagree strongly. The harm done to service users who are made to feel lesser or ashamed of their treatment choices, whether this is accomplished explicitly or implicitly & indirectly (through the one-sided heroization of “recovered” or drug-free survivors), fear mongering with respsect to the effects of psychotropic drugs (i.e. as causal factors in an “epidemic” of chronic psychosis), and the devaluing of the experiences of individuals with enduring, ongoing challenges, distress and/or altered states are no better than the sometimes equally disempowering, judgmental and monolithic judgments and conclusions of mainstream conservative psychiatry.

      We need to think critically about all these issues and, IMO, use every resources at our disposal.

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      • Thanks Nev, I think some of the comments in this thread are illustrating the problem. There also seems to be some difficulty in realizing that there are not “2 sides” on these issues. There are many many perspectives. That, of course was one of the points of my original post. One of the other key points was calling attention to the frequent claim everyone with ‘psychosis’ can ‘recover’ if they simply do the ‘right’ thing. Then, if they don’t, it’s there fault. This being what I meant by saying peoples experience of ‘psychosis’ gets erased-meaning the fact that it is a ‘real’ problem that for many continues. Again, very well established in all the longitudinal studies.
        This comment illustrates this:
        “Some people feel ‘morally blamed’ for not succeeding in mastering their problems without psychiatry’s toxic drugs. I don’t feel this way.”

        Succeed in mastering” your problems? Clearly suggests its a simple matter of the person ‘overcoming’ the problems. Goes directly to my original wheelchair analogy.

        This same poster-who I can’t really respond to because they aren’t using their name-seems to be attacking “psychiatry” as a proxy for arguing against points I made in my original comment. I’m not a psychiatrist, didn’t promote psychiatry in my original post, and am critical of many psychiatrists as well as the ‘standard of care’ for ‘psychosis’ in US psychiatry. That’s pretty clear on my blog. But anyway, and to another point, it’s not as if psychiatry is monolithic anyway. There are in fact psychiatrists out there using a very cautious and well informed approach to the work they do. At least one of them, Sandy Stiengard, blogs on this website.

        Again, black and white.

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        • I’m curious.

          What can you say to this? ““If we truly believe in a world where voices, visions and other unusual experiences are accepted as real and valuable, then we need to develop a picture of what that world might look like and how we might take steps toward bringing it to life.””

          I offered up TWO point-blank experiences. Nobody acknowledged or engaged either of them. I suppose people think it’s just crazy talk? Unreal? Alright.

          In a *psych ward*, of all places, it was IMPOSSIBLE to deal with that situation. But I sure would love to see how these organizers of belief liberation would handle a situation *in the moment of it’s happening* as opposed to dealing with it in the aftermath.

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          • I’m sorry you had to deal with that in the facility labeled a “psych ward” MJK. If I ran the world, you wouldn’t have been lumped in with strangers. Sounds like the lady who followed you around found you very interesting.

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          • mjk To have the amazing experience of transcending the accepted yet erroneous belief that time is some lineary energy we are slave to ticking away assaulting us with arbitrary pieces of chance and chaos, is very welcome to share here, to me.
            Thank you for sharing that you actually saw this lady “before” you met her, or ever laid your eyes on her “physically”.

            Just don’t be discouraged when it seems that people don’t engage with such things. Thought is really still the source, where they come from. They can’t even really destroy it with their toxic medications, because thought is beyond the physical. It’s not going away, and it’s beyond time and anything they are terrified of losing or they think they need to defend, I would say.

            Just don’t look for any justice to hold against them (when you don’t feel acknowledged), because that dims the light that’s beyond time (can’t be defended, is from forever and can’t be destroyed at any point in time or space). When you have such a glimpse and you dare to acknowledge that with your own thought that’s already stronger than time and space, I would say. No need to worry about the rest, just trust…..

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          • “Just don’t be discouraged when it seems that people don’t engage with such things.”

            I cannot be discouraged in this matter. I constantly assert: Psyche is NOT a disease.

            I thought about this intensely today and remembered a picture I have of myself from that particular hospitalization. I was IN A PARANORMAL STATE, and it was captured on film (the picture shows two of me). Even though I very strongly do NOT want my image anywhere online, I am thinking of uploading the photo. But then, why bother.

            Psyche is NOT a disease.

            Psyche, by definition, means SPIRIT.

            “If we truly believe in a world where voices, visions and other unusual experiences are accepted as real and valuable, then we need to develop a picture of what that world might look like and how we might take steps toward bringing it to life.”

            Yeah. What if.!

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        • Timothy. I’m still concerned about the interpretations here, and if, as you say, you have a problem with enduring problems (or others do), I just want to point something out. Because there’s a misunderstanding here. a misinterpretation.

          When -_Anonymous said this:

          “Some people feel ‘morally blamed’ for not succeeding in mastering their problems without psychiatry’s toxic drugs. I don’t feel this way.”

          And you respond this way:

          “Succeed in mastering” your problems? Clearly suggests its a simple matter of the person ‘overcoming’ the problems. Goes directly to my original wheelchair analogy.”

          You know, here -_Anonymous is simply sharing his experience. And a view point. He’s saying that no one needs to feel morally blamed if they can’t solve their problems without psychiatric drugs.

          And you fuss about the word mastering, as if this states that someone who hasn’t found the answer, just hasn’t mastered his life, and there’s something wrong with him. This is EXACTLY what -_Anonymous WASN’T saying. And to go on. -_Anonymous, could have used another word, and there’s still the potential to start picking and fussing at that as well.

          He could have said “No one needs to be blamed that they can’t heal without psychiatry’s disabling medications.” and then one can start fussing at the word heal. As if this statement is that someone who continues to suffer, just isn’t doing what they need to heal. When in reality that AGAIN says exactly the opposite to begin with. If they haven’t healed it’s nothing to blame them about.

          AS if, would someone even suggest that they might not be healing (or mastering, or recovering or any other word) using ANY word which needs to be used in order to point out they shouldn’t feel as if there’s something wrong with them, when they aren’t; then the very fact that they have used ANY word to point out healing, recovery, mastering or another word; supposedly means to suggest that they are saying that a person can just recovery, heal or master their illness; when that’s completely not why they used the word, it’s not how it was used in context, and the whole statement was that they shouldn’t feel they have failed, that they aren’t morally obliged to master, that they don’t have a personality flaw if they don’t heal, and it’s OK.

          And just because they use a word (any word) to describe healing, and how they relate to it (and to add to this in context that no one should feel bad if they haven’t accomplished this) this DOES NOT mean that they are saying that that’s the only way, or that anyone who doesn’t accomplish healing that way has a personality flaw or whatever.

          YOU are the one not allowing for another form of healing, because when a form of healing is simply mentioned, you jump on that quite out of context. The reason it was simply mentioned, was not to refer to it as the only form of healing, but simply to affirm a statement that someone shouldn’t feel bad who hasn’t attained what they feel is healing, or that they failed, or to feel morally blamed.

          And I’m just saying I’m concerned about such a misinterpretation.

          And again,there’s nothing wrong with you expressing how you saw it, or how it made you feel. But it really was a misinterpretation. And that’s OK too.

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      • Nev,

        It’s great that you’ve chimed in, adding your voice to this discussion.

        As you have recently promoted your own work, via this MIA website (here: ), I think MIA readers deserve a proper intro to your blog (if they are not already aware of it), and I’m glad that -_anonymous has directed us to it.

        The following comment, which you posted, in your blog (May 14, 2013 at 10:01 am), I find fascinating:

        Okay…so I suppose I was trying to avoid more of a direct discussion of Whitaker’s work. I posted very detailed critiques maybe 3 or 4 years ago and (to put it simply) it didn’t go down well. Friends convinced me to remove the posts, but it’s been a decision I’ve felt very uneasy with ever since.

        Everyone says–and I truly believe–that Whitaker has the best of intentions. That does not, in my mind, justify journalism that is ultimately as misleading, as uncritical, as selective, and, in my mind, disempowering to the user/survivor community as Anatomy of an Epidemic. As a researcher myself, this literature is my literature; I’ve studied much of it in painful detail, including the WHO studies, longitudinal work, the literature on the psychopharmacology of psychosis, hypersensitivity psychosis and neurotoxicity. I have no essential ideological disagreement with Whitaker (in the sense that I’m very, very critical of mainstream psychopharmacology and treatment practices, as anyone who reads my published work will quickly see); instead my problem is that Anatomy badly misrepresents ‘the science’ of these issues, the complexities of research design, the many possible explanations of findings, etc. Research that contradicts Whitaker’s viewpoint is simply ommitted. I do not think any chapter from Anatomy would even begin to make it through good peer review. And though I don’t want to implicate other people, I can guarantee you that many, many others are painfully aware of these flaws.

        In the past people have told me that these are primarily “academic” concerns. For a while I agreed, but I frankly no longer do. Misinformation is misinformation, no matter who is writing it; oversimplification that engenders fear mongering is deeply problematic no matter who is responsible. Failing to critically consider the monumental role of culture (as Whitaker fails to do in his analysis of the WHO studies and well as Open Dialogue) should be an object of critique to matter where this failure originates. As I said in the original post, what we need is a critical–genuinely critical–re-assessment of the literature; one that researchers, scholars and anthropologists would and should take seriously.

        Over the past few years, MiA as a website only seems to have exacerbated the misleading one-sidedness of Whitaker’s position. There is no real debate, no real dialogue happening that I can see. Nor are user/survivors in control–the majority (or at least half) of the bloggers are “allies” or non-user academics or clinicians. There is little attention to heterogeneity, to the complexities of nearly everything discussed, to points of view which don’t align with the party position.

        All in all I cannot pretend not to be angry. Anytime people are misled, I feel angry; any time the issues are grossly over-simplified, I feel angry; any time community members or disempowered, I feel angry; any time people without any (or extraordinarily little) lived experience trying to speak for those who do, I feel angry. All because I ultimately care so much about these issues, about social justice, about critical empowerment.

        (That’s the complete comment, except I left off the name of the reader whom you were addressing.)

        About your having written, of your early critiques of Bob Whitaker’s work, that, “Friends convinced me to remove the posts, but it’s been a decision I’ve felt very uneasy with ever since,” I think it’s quite natural to feel uneasy about erasing our own critiques of others’ work, on the Internet; after all, we may seemingly impugn our own integrity when we do that.

        So, though it may, at times, possibly, be good to remove our own critiques (if we decide they were poorly conceived), it may be better to simply add amendments when we feel clarifications are in order.

        (Making thoughtful amends is always healthy activity, I feel.)



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        • Thanks for posting this comment here Jonah. I think its really important that we are willing to criticize and expand on the limitations of Anatomy in order to move the dialogue forward. In a way, that’s what this website is all about. Taking the next steps.

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          • For the record, my original debate involved direct (public) dialogue with Bob Whitaker and when I decided to take it down (not worded terribly diplomatically, though I stand by my original arguments) I had further (friendly) discussions with Bob. Definitely not trying to hide anything, and if I was, I’m not sure who it would be from. Like anyone, my ideas change, or at least the ways I think are most strategic to frame them, and a blog is simply not the same as a publication. People are free to browse internet archives, of course, but the real point is whether or not one chooses to publicly “maintain” a particular post or not.

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          • I agree that we shouldn’t be assumed to hold views we posted publicly a year or two or three ago. Information available and our own intellectual development seems to move far too quickly these days. I know personally my view on most things has evolved tremendously over the years, and what I would have posted on these issues a few years ago would appear misinformed from my current stance. Of course we can look at each other’s history and ask honest questions about what transpired in the past, but at the same time it’s important to give each other the benefit of the doubt in order to have a constructive conversation. It is also essential that we notice when we are taking opposing views as personal attacks, and to temper those responses with extra attention, or there is little room for dialogue at all.

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      • Well said Nev, thanks for chiming in. For what it’s worth, we agree that the conversation needs to move beyond just a scientific framework. We are particularly interested in living examples of what works for people: Sharing alternative stories about what happens that leads to healing and fulfillment, how, and why.

        In this process, we seem to run the risk of marginalizing people who don’t agree with us, which as you point out, is itself a kind of oppression. I hope we can all be careful about this as we co-create this dialogue.

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        • Matthew,

          I think my main reaction to this thread (the comments, specifically) is that the lack of moderation on MiA, while understandable for reasons of ‘freedom of expression,’ seems problematic and counterproductive when it serves to discourage open, friendly and productive dialogue and debate. The latter is what I’d really like to see happening. If you and Kermit and others could somehow make this happen, it’d be a real accomplishment. (Not saying it’s easy…)

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          • @Nev

            I think my main reaction to this thread (the comments, specifically) is that the lack of moderation on MiA, while understandable for reasons of ‘freedom of expression,’ seems problematic and counterproductive when it serves to discourage open, friendly and productive dialogue and debate. The latter is what I’d really like to see happening. If you and Kermit and others could somehow make this happen, it’d be a real accomplishment. (Not saying it’s easy…)

            I think my main reaction to this comment is one of disbelief. Did you really put the words freedom of expression are in quotes? Did you really just ask that this site silence the voices of people with whom you may happen to disagree on some issues – people who have just been engaging with you in dialogue and debate? Do you agree with your comrade Timothy that people who opt for online anonymity because of the very real dangers associated with having been labeled by psychiatry are not worthy of being heard and responded to? What does “open, friendly and productive dialogue and debate” mean to you, exactly? (And what do you think Matthew has been deftly facilitating here?) Do you realize that if this site’s comments WERE more strictly moderated, then you would have been shut down for hijacking Sera’s blog-post comments in the first place? (Sure, let’s all cry about having been “shamed” by people because they have different strategies toward wellness than we do, and then we’ll turn around and appeal to the site authorities to shut out those voices completely!?!?) I think you have come to beat on straw men, as Donna has pointed out, and I think that your call for censorship of other people with lived experience is disgusting. I’ll leave it at that, since I too am presently anonymous for very good reason, and presumably, in your enlightened estimation, my voice should therefore not be heard.

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          • We do moderate. I remove comments on a regular basis, including several last night and this morning. I think people often just don’t notice. It’s not something you really “see happening.”

            I tried to setup a system that cataloged the comments I removed as a demonstration of what moderation is happening and why, but that instantly had to go on the grounds of being too shaming and triggering for the people whose comments were being removed.

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          • I’ve never experienced MIA as being repressive towards anyones’ views. But, if you’re going to post here you’d better be ready to defend what you say with facts and good reasoning. And people here are not going to handle you with kid gloves just because you feel you should be handled in such a manner. What did Truman supposedly say, “If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen!”

            Again, this seems like something that should go to the Forums since I don’t see it as having much to do with what Sera posted.

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      • I don’t think that clearly reporting the outcomes regarding psychiatric drugging is fear mongering. I think fear mongering is trying to suppress such information, depending on whether it actually bring the efficacy of a treatment into question. Calling it fear mongering doesn’t change the statistics.
        And when someone shares how they found recovery, and clearly points out the kind of immense resistance and oppression of the method that achieved their recovery received, this to me in no way is one sided hero worship. It’s pointing out oppression.
        Neither are either of those devaluing the struggles of people, they simply are offering an alternative that deserves consideration.

        When methods that have shown healing, and are shared because they show healing, and are shared because having shown healing they deserve to be shared, but then are not supposed to be shared, because they are called fear mongering or hero worship or shaming…

        This is again turning everything around: healing isn’t supposed to be about healing, but about not pointing out healing, because it might “shame” some people who might be embarrassed that what they’re doing isn’t working. And that’s not what ANY of it is about to begin with. And it’s completely untrue to say that those who have found recovery just haven’t been through or don’t understand ongoing challenges, distress and/or altered states.

        And TRULY, the attempt at shaming that is going on is against the people who chose to NOT go for medications. THEY are told that they are putting themselves and society in danger, are told they aren’t being responsible, are told they aren’t treating an alleged biological condition that there is NO proof truly exists (although the treatment DOES cause a verifiable biological disease). And in the end OFTEN have their freedoms taken away, and made to feel they deserve extremely inhumane treatment, because they dared to dissent. And further more, it’s an attempt to shame people to tell them that sharing their healing is hero worship and fear mongering….

        GOOD GOD! That a person can’t openly with joy share their healing, because they love the human condition, and want people to know it’s possible and might speak to others who would find the same healing without this being insulted with charges such as fear mongering and hero worship and shaming…..

        Well, I guess people just need to hear that, to see how corrupt things have become.

        And anyone too positive, is shaming, worshiping heroes, fear mongering….

        You know I think this is about healing, not not sharing healing when someone is still suffering ongoing challenges, distress and/or altered states, because it might shame them, scare them or intimidate them

        It’s also, I think, about using all sources at disposal, not not using anything beyond mainstream because then you’re not using the mainstream method, which means using another method than that is not using all methods, because you’ve actually chosen one that isn’t mainstream, which means that ever chosing anything besides mainstream (just that one) is not using all sources at disposal (because you’ve then shamed it out of hero worship and fear mongering). Which means that having more than one choice means always chosing the same one, because if you don’t you’re scared and/or bamboozled and/or trying to intimidate.

        No thank you for the inhibitions.

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          • _anonymous
            I don’t know where to begin….
            This whole majority minority thing,
            I mean on another, on Huffington post, when I blogged on Marvin Ross’ “article” about whether “journalists” (his definition not mine) shouldn’t be allowed to report medical information because they’re not medical specialists (conflicts of interest wins as does $$$$$$ again)…..

            One can’t actually (and I struggle to find the context again)… one can’t actually point out what has best outcomes, and what leads to healing, then someone is actually magically “marginalizing” the parents. Since they are so hurt already that what they’ve done hasn’t worked. And so the whole movement to get more leeway to force feed people what doesn’t correlate with healing (what’s called the Dear Nami, or Mommie Nami movement) . Someone’s post was removed simply because they mentioned this, and to tell you the truth, I hadn’t put two and two together, quite. They are trying to make themselves out to be a minority because they don’t have the free will to have the majority (that by some miracle still hasn’t been diagnosed) institutionalized when they feel they need it, despite statistics. It’s the same with the war on terror, global warming and other things such as whether they should have prayer in school, but meditation then is not good, and not having prayer is marginalizing. And here we have another unexpected twist, that it’s hero worship, fear mongering and shaming to actually witness your own healing; because of course there are those who continue to suffer (but if you’ve continued to suffer and it’s not the mainstream method you want to follow or finally achieved results with, you should keep your mouth shut because, as long as they aren’t healing people, it’s taboo to mention this because it’s shaming).

            This all has nothing to do with what’s going on. When you tell an alcoholic to stop drinking, it usually doesn’t work, because their drinking isn’t about drinking, it’s about distracting from something they can’t handle, from some trauma they can’t deal with. I think. It’s an addiction. The best thing you can do sometimes is just not talk about alcohol. And here we’re not talking about something that’s physical, we’re talking about something that might be worse, we’re talking about an addiction that’s mental. And also, an addiction that manifests things in people’s lives they’re quite in denial about. And that thus aren’t going away. Not questioning they’re method, it has to be someone else’s fault. They don’t know what they’re doing, and it turns into some unconscious game where perhaps the only thing they are aware of is that they can get others annoyed, and thus they judge them. Same goes on in the asylums, I’m sure. With fascism and political dissent, also.

            So, sometimes the best is just to not respond at all, but hold them in the light of your mind and know there is another way. As infuriating as it is. You deserve the right to not feel bad if you just let it go, instead, when you don’t get yourself riled up till you feel uneasy.

            It’s the people whose condition is considered the worse that do the best with alternative methods. So, of course there’s then this issue with those who continue to suffer.

            Sometimes it’s really better to trust that what it’s about isn’t what they’re going on about. Just take it as unreal. If you just honor them as human and smile, it says more than engaging with it, sometimes.

            Um, are we related? since you added kin to Nijinsky making it Nikinsky?

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          • Steven, actually as far as I know, the only supposed “evidence” that support genetics being a component, has never pointed to any gene at all.

            If more people with red hair have “schizophrenia” then they they believe that the gene for red hair and schizophrenia might be linked, somehow. But that’s only conjecture. And with all of the probably billions of dollars of research, they haven’t found any faulty gene at all. I think that’s called a marker (when they find that there’s more prevalence of a “disease” amongst people with red hair). That in itself can become quite malicious, because it insinuates that minorities who are oppressed, or anyone who suffers trauma, have something wrong with them, when they express this trauma. Because if there’s a genetic component amongst those suffering oppression (as there could be in a ghetto) this then is linked with a supposed genetic flaw.

            It would sort of be the same if someone has bruises and there was a host of scientific investigation looking for a genetic component that causes bruises, rather than a look at the physical abuse that caused the condition.

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      • I am never opposed to hearing research data that may contradict the research referenced in Anatomy of an Epidemic. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much that has done that. Mostly, I hear criticisms that MiA supporters are “anti-intellectual” or “antipsychiatry,” without any evidence countering the book’s thesis.

        So pick one area, and let us know what the counterevidence is. Present it without critical commentary about other posters, and see what happens.

        I’m pretty well versed in the latest research, and I have yet to see any convincing evidence that long-term use of psych drugs leads to better outcomes. I’ve heard lots of anecdotes, which have some value, but when we look at the long-term research, there’s just nothing to support the GENERAL assertion that people staying on medication leads to better outcomes. I’d be happy to see any literature you can produce that supports people being better off in the collective sense though the use of brain-altering chemicals.

        The other big point is the DSM diagnoses. I would have to toss the label of “Anti-intellectual” at you if you are not willing to acknowledge the obvious fact that the DSM diagnoses are descriptions of behavioral/thinking/emotional states that do not necessarily associate with ANY physiological problem. There have been decades of dedicated research looking at this question, and we have a few faded scraps of genetic association, not even with a specific “disorder,” but with a range of mental health issues that this set of genes may make someone more vulnerable to. That’s pretty weak evidence for physiological causation of mental illness.

        So we have almost no evidence supporting the DSM diagnoses, and almost no evidence supporting long-term efficacy. Why all the argument with the selective use concept? How is it anti-intellectual to acknowledge the research that has been done?

        —- Steve

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      • Thanks Anonymous. I’m not sure I’ll remember the whole thing, but I at least get the point now.

        Once again, you posted some very brilliant comments on this post as I have said elsewhere.

        See, I told you we agree on many things.

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  6. For the record, I never devalued the experiences of people that identify as experiencing “psychosis”, and for however many years a person has experiences they label “psychosis”, whether this problem gets solved or continues to be a problem in a person’s life, if someone tells me they’ve been unable to overcome this problem, then I believe them. I don’t have to accept such a problem is a medical problem.

    For the record also I don’t believe that psychiatric drugs cause the thoughts that get labeled “psychosis”. I don’t believe it is harmful to point out how toxic and disabling these drugs can be.

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  7. Demanding the right to not have things put in your body by force, ever, under any circumstances, from age of majority until death, is not an “extreme political position”. Demanding the abolition of laws that allow government to put things in your loved one’s body by force, is not an “extreme political position”.

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  8. Anonymous,

    I believe that Nev is being disingenuous with her attack on you and others at MIA by attributing the worst and most ignoble, vile, cruel motives to many of those here whose lives were almost destroyed by the lies and junk science of biopsychiatry so well described in the highly acclaimed book, MAD SCIENCE, I cited above and countless others like Psychiatryland. As you may know from my other posts, Dr. Peter Breggin, author of Toxic Psychiatry, Your Drug May Be Your Problem, 2nd ed., Reclaiming Our Children, The War Against Children of Color, Talking Back to Prozac (and Ritalin), Medication Madness and many others along with his great web sites remains my hero since he took the huge risk of warning people in his ground breaking book, Toxic Psychiatry, in the early 1990’s that the most dangerous thing one could do is to visit a psychiatrist once psychiatry sold out to Big Pharma and voted in the junk science DSM huge expansion of bogus disorders with no science or evidence whatever to push the latest lethal drugs on patent. One dirty trick was to attribute all trauma symptoms to the bogus bipolar disorder stigma to also push lethal drugs on patent per Dr. David Healy’s great book, Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder. He exposes this deadly fad fraud bipolar epidemic that made a literal killing for psychiatry/Big Pharma wealth and countless lives destroyed by this despicable agenda ultimately used to prey on children thanks to Dr. Joseph Biederman, drug company shill for J&J. Dr. Fred Baughman, Neurologist, and author of ADHD Fraud and many articles claims that all psychiatric stigmas are 100% fraud and the worst medical crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. So, Timothy is correct that there are not two sides. There is the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma/Government cartel with all the power versus its harmed/destroyed targets/victims and a brainwashed public via Big Pharma ads with the latter either informed or uninformed of the truth. Yet, given the debacle of the DSM 5 that even Dr. Insel had to distance himself from due to the huge controversy and exposure of its fraudulent ever increasing expansion of bogus disorders to prey on one and all, more and more people are waking up to the huge dangers and harms of this pseudoscientific paradigm. Moreover, now that Big Pharma is abandoning biopsychiatry in droves due to the billions it has paid in fines for fraud and possible jailing of CEO’s with the recent China debacle described on 1boringoldman, the government may not be so willing to continue the exponential expansion of permanent SSI disability for those harmed by biopsychiatry with the financial crisis and less employed people to shoulder this outrageous burden to increase the wealth of this biopsychiatry industrial complex.

    Anyway, whistleblowers like Dr. Breggin, Dr. Healy, Dr. Joseph Glenmuller and others who actually cared about people, paid dearly for their attempts to expose the truth with Big Pharma millions, NAMI and others literally profiting from biopsychiatry attacking their credentials, abilities and honest claims/evidence.

    Similarly, most of those at MIA are those who were horribly harmed directly or via family members by trusting or being forced by schools and others into biopsychiatry only to learn to their horror that they had been conned and subjected to life destroying bogus stigmas with their real crises and traumas not only ignored, but negated and invalidated, while biopsychiatry aided and abetted their oppressors, which they have been doing for over 100 years. To add insult to literal injury, those doing tons of research to validate their reality also found they had been bamboozled to take toxic brain/body lethal drugs that made them far worse and much less able to cope than the original human crisis, trauma, abuser(s), and suffering.

    Thus, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD, many survivors of biopsychiatry as well as many ethical medical experts have found solace in doing all in their power to expose this deadly, dangerous assault on humanity and warn others to avoid it like the plague is always was and will be unless and until they give up their bogus biomedical paradigm for human problems that are anything but medical. But, since psychiatry has always been and always will be only about social control and silencing dissidents in the guise of medicine, totalitarian countries pretending to be democracies like the U.S., Great Britain and Australia will not be too willing to give it up.

    Thus, I find Nev’s attempts to turn the tables on the victims and accuse us of harming others to justify her adherence to the all too well exposed pseudoscience of biopsychiatry for her own personal agenda are very aptly described by her own projections and accusations against us that you cite in the first paragraph of your post in bold letters since it is a bold, outrageous, uncalled for attack on those struggling to survive already from psychiatric assaults on themselves and/or family members. However, I must say that Nev has learned her lessons well from main stream biopsychiatry/Big Pharma to always vilify, attack, discredit the victims to continue business as usual. I am surprised that Nev and Timothy haven’t accused us of being Scientologists and/or conspiracy theorists yet. I was just watching a video of a former Big Pharm rep exposing the dangerous fraud she was conned into promoting to the great harm of patients. She said that such reps were routinely told to falsely accuse anyone challenging biopsychiatry of being Scientologists that they made out to be a dangerous cult. So, vilifying the victims and anyone trying to challenge biopsychiatry or expose the truth must be prepared to be invalidated, vilified, falsely accused of being against the rights of the so called mentally ill as with Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman’s recent, appalling posts and even being against science and evidence based research, the most laughable claim of all. A sad case of the pot calling the kettle black and worse.

    Again, I am all for moderation in more ways than more, but also for the truth when speaking to power plays.

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    • For what it’s worth, in my experience what Nev describes – shaming willing drug users who don’t want to get off their drugs – is something that I’ve seen in the survivor movement and heard in personal conversations with people. Like any anti-oppression group, some of us at some times are prone toward fanaticism about the cause that might miss out on opportunities for total kindness and clarity. However, I do not see that we do this in any way as an institution, or that we encourage it on Mad In America.

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  9. Anonymous,

    I want to venture a response to this post. You’re graphic description of psychiatric abuse resonates for me. I have experienced similar things.

    I will be the first to admit I am not a “perfect even-handed teller” of truth etc. I say things because I’m angry sometimes, or hurt, or ill-informed, or just plain wrong. Everyday. Probably a few times in this thread.

    If I have given the impression that my intention-here, on my blog, on twitter, or anywhere else was to discredit your experience of abuse, of distress-then I am sorry.

    My point about ‘ongoing’ experiences vs. remitted experiences is a very touchy and complicated issue. I realize this. It leads towards comparisons of suffering that can be discrediting-that at times I have said things that are discrediting-I acknowledge this. It’s really hard to talk about this stuff. Language sucks. So many of us are wounded. But I think it’s really important that we struggle to talk about this stuff still.

    It’s not about ‘medication.’ I see it as quite a separate issue, though it becomes entangled in questions of medication. I am extremely skeptical of psychiatric medication. For instance, I agree in very large measure with Robert Whitaker’s conclusions, particularly more recently in response to the Wunderink findings. I take issue with some of how he arrives at those conclusions. These are subtle-but I believe important points.

    I certainly do not think anyone should be forced to accept any label they do not-with the best available information-choose. I tend to refer to my experiences as ‘psychosis.’ I’m not a huge fan of that word, but I like bipolar and schizoaffective even less. ‘Extreme states’ isn’t specific enough-for me. So I go with psychosis.

    You have posted a whole ton of stuff here. Some of your points I agree with, even if I think they are misapplied to me. Some of your criticism of me is probably valid-it’s worth reflection.

    But most of it doesn’t apply to what I believe at all. I can be quoted out of context. I’ve also said stupid things. So be it.

    My point about peoples experiences being ‘erased’ is not to suggest that you personally are doing this. It’s a risk-often unintended-that I see as resulting from the way certain positions are framed in a broader, structural sense.

    I do find some of what you have said as offensive to me personally. But I can see where you might be offended by some of my statements as well. I hope I’ve clarified some of that.
    I do also think your attacks on Nev are very misguided. She is doing more truly beneficial work-and on many different levels-to improve these things than anyone else I know. It kind of takes us back to the original theme of Sera’s post-walking the talk.


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    • Timothy,

      Just for the record, I finally feel that I can relate to you in the above post even though it wasn’t addressed to me.

      As I said in my posts above, if you and Nev had simply stated your own experience, views, goals in the mental health profession and other things upon which we can agree per your post here, I think you might have found a great deal of support and understanding if not total agreement since we are all unique individuals with our own unique experience.

      I also pointed out that posts by you and Nev consisted mostly of attacks on MIA members and Bob Whitaker where you both saw much disagreement instead of trying to find points of agreement in shared suffering, lived experience, etc.

      We never learned about Nev’s great work you cite since she was too busy attacking and vilifying MIA members and Bob Whitaker. I would like to hear about Nev’s work and more on your own views you cite in this post and elsewhere.

      You are under a misconception that everyone at MIA has the exact same views and totally agrees about everything. We don’t and can’t because all of us are unique individuals who have had very different experiences. Many have not suffered psychosis, hearing voices and other so called symptoms attributed to schizophrenia that has been hijacked by the new “sacred symbol” of bipolar disorder to stigmatize the same symptoms. Many have suffered trauma and huge losses that were fraudulently misdiagnosed as bipolar to invalidate the victims and rob them of all justice. Many have lost careers, families, friends and their very humanity due to the predations of biopsychiatry. Since you continue to pursue your degrees and have other admitted privileges, can you compare your suffering with others suffering such huge, permanent losses?

      How can you possibly say you have suffered more than others here like it’s some great competition or can be measured in inches or gallons. All that I know is that I have witnessed oceans of tears and suffering here and elsewhere and countless lives derailed and destroyed by biopsychiatry. Everyone’s story is unique and some of us do not feel free to share our stories openly due to the potential harm to others thanks to our dangerous “therapeutic state.”

      I hope you and Nev will reconsider your approach. At the risk of repeating myself too much, it would be far more helpful and much better received if you would simply share your own opinions, experience, things that have helped you with your psychosis, your take on mainstream psychiatry you seem to criticize too and similar topics instead of attacking MIA members’ views by making the many false assumptions you and Nev have expressed here.

      For you and Nev to pretend you can read the minds of those at MIA or ever imagine the immense suffering, losses and grief of those posting here is quite appalling in my opinion.

      Yet, I am moved by your humility and honesty in admitting that perhaps you contributed to the problems and misunderstandings here due to your own human fallibility we all share. I would like to see Nev take a more humble, less dictatorial approach and share those great things you claim she’s doing. I hope to hear more about your lived experience and other things you cite in your latest post.

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    • Thank you. And I’m sorry to both of you that I got so angry. I’m an angry guy sometimes. You’re both clearly people with a lot of curiosity, follow-through, discipline, and so on to do the work you do, I admire that.

      My position is out of the millions of forced drugging assaults state psychiatry has carried out against people’s will, every single one of them qualifies as a human rights abuse.

      I want 51% of the voters in society to oppose forced biological psychiatry. I want bodily integrity equality. It needs to go the way of slavery, abolition. No chemical restraint, no “emergency” forced drugging, none. Humanity has dealt with emergent physical altercations for a long, long, long time without entering the neurons and occupying someone’s consciousness by force. There are better ways. If the inside of my body is ever touched again, my life is over. I live in constant fear of such laws. I don’t feel, but am, am, betrayed by society believing this violence against me is acceptable.

      That people are also indoctrinated into a spurious model and bleak foretold future while they are temporarily owned by state psychiatry is just the cherry on the sundae in terms of human life destruction to me.

      Maybe I got too stupid here today. Carried away. Sorry.

      I want you to understand the following. A few years back, I couldn’t even run my eyes from left to right over the language of psychiatry on a page, without feeling like I was witnessing several million human beings of recent human history to the present being brain raped, dehumanized. I then subjected myself to reading thousands of documents on psychiatry. Only marginally, did it get better. What you two do, daily, I can’t do. It is the only thing in the world I feel I can’t do. The only thing. I don’t know if I’ve even admitted I can’t do it to myself, but in the background, a big part of me knows, I haven’t mastered this yet and don’t know if I ever will, I simply cannot read about psychiatry and just see this material as just like another part of human knowledge or artifact, the ghosts of millions of people who have been destroyed by this belief system that is, conceiving of these phenomena as ‘medical’ things, is the most ghastly, earth shattering, globe straddling abyss I’ve ever, will ever, stare into. I hate, HATE, looking at it, but I can’t look away.

      The world needs people like you and Nev, who can handle sticking your heads into this vast body of literature without vomiting and wanting to die or wanting to see the people you no doubt see at conferences, in a prison cell. I just read some recent paper by Nev, and I have to admire her seeming stoic and systematic way she puts a paper together. If I looked at those footnotes, chased down those 50 references, and read them, I want you to understand, I’ve done it hundreds of times, read papers, I have, but it is like torture. It’s like handling evil. It’s like this is the long documented record of one of humanity’s gravest errors that has destroyed millions of lives. So I have to admire those who do it. Take that as a compliment I guess. Maybe I wish I felt I could do that, but then, there are so many reasons why I wouldn’t want to. I don’t actually enjoy rubbing shoulders with people who have carried out involuntary psychiatry. They are pariahs to me in a way. It’s like being the presence of a child molester to me. That anyone can accept going to work and raping the brains of strangers is just beyond my ability to process it seems. I find it so appalling. It’s an atrocity.

      I’m sorry I was a bit over the top today.

      My wild experiences that people would label madness are certainly something I feel I understand. These states of mind were catastrophic and represents some catastrophic years in my life. It’s a fascinating topic to sort of research, something scary and something extreme, but I just kind of arrived at a place where I don’t look to anyone outside myself to address the management of my thinking. I don’t know what I’d rate it at, 50/50 psychiatry/madness, don’t know. Psychiatry is a mortal threat to me. I fear the state forced iteration of biological psychiatry, so called ’emergency’ psychiatry more than I fear cancer, maybe more than I fear death. So I want that threat gone. Some like you have chosen to go worm a critical message through the sausage making process of adding to the literature etc. That’s a valid option. The whole thing’s a mess.

      Thank you for engaging me. I feel badly about all this. Good luck with your studies.

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    • “So many of us are dounded.”

      The fact is, all people are wounded. It is part of the human condition. It’s not important how we’re wounded. The problem is that far too many people either don’t recognize this part of the human condition or they choose to deny it.

      It’s how we choose to deal or not deal with our woundedness that makes or breaks us as people. The best healers are those people who are willing to admit their woundedness, rather than running around, spending all their time trying to hide it. This is probably why so many psychiatrists re not healers at all. Real healers walk the talk.

      This is all my opinion of course.

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  10. Hi mjk,

    I was just about to quit for the night and saw this great post in my email, so I had to respond before shutting down after spending way too much time on MIA tonight.

    You seem kind of down and/or angry lately and I’m sorry about that. I’m glad you find some comraderie at MIA that helps with your feelings of isolation you mentioned on another site. Sadly, alienation and isolation is a growing problem in our dog eat dog major focus on capitalism and its supposed great material benefits. I have found that you can be with a person or group and feel isolated and alienated not to mention abused and used.

    Thus, though feelings of isolation and alienation can be a bummer at times, as George Washington said, “It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.” Boy, can I ever identify with that! As I get older, I find myself being far more choosy about the company I keep including my own when sunk in negative thoughts.

    There are some great people out there too, so it’s important to try to make an effort even when we don’t feel like it because there are lots of people out there who can enjoy our company or could use a shoulder to cry on at times too.

    Hey, how about some of your amusing, smart word play just for fun so we can get a break from the most toxic effects of biopsychiatry?

    Take care.

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  11. “great post”

    Yeah, I know. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to write that (because it makes me giggle like crazy and I have the dreadful self-amusement gene, which means I have no control: I self-amuse because it is genetic (spoken robotically, oh god I’m doing it again).

    “You seem kind of down and/or angry lately and I’m sorry about that.”

    It’s not your fault. It’s the cosmos. The spiritual forecast (and other sources that I follow) has consistently stated that we’re under a current energy wave this week (beginning a few days ago). No surprise to ME seeing this thread play out as intensely as it has.

    “There are some great people out there too, so it’s important to try to make an effort”

    I’ve been known to climb trees, get stuck and then taking a flying leap straight off. It’s fun. Really.

    “Hey, how about some of your amusing, smart word play just for fun so we can get a break from the most toxic effects of biopsychiatry?”

    Let me think. Oh yeah, talk sin. Phonetic of toxin. Not much fun but that’s all I’ve got right now.

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  12. I think the value in writing to counter idiot posts by unredeemable true believers is not to convince the person you’re writing to, but to give those reading that person’s post an opportunity to hear the counterargument and compare. If you consider your exchange as posted above, any sensible person reading the posts can see that you are coming from a place of openness and reason, and that s/he is coming from a place of insecurity and immaturity. Don’t discount the value of that. While the poster may never be convinced, you may have helped a dozen or a hundred other readers open their mind or solidify their thoughts with some rational backing. It’s definitely not a valueless activity, even if the moron writing the initial post is driven into childish retorts.

    —– Steve

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  13. Thanks, Marian! 🙂 In my heart of hearts, there certainly are approaches that I think make much, much more sense from a very basic human place… but ultimately, I think the real crime is not in the particular approaches, but in how they’ve been applied. There, for sure, I can see a true ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’

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  14. Dear all,

    At the moment, I find myself deeply frustrated with the Mad in America website, not because of any one-sidedness or lack of moderation, but because there is an unpredictable and maddening lack of ‘reply’ buttons in random places.

    Thus – at least for now – I am giving up on trying to respond to posts one-by-one, and posting some additional comments here. Perhaps some of you will see it. 🙂

    First, Timothy: You just posted that I’d misunderstood your comments about anonymity. I’m definitely aware that you spoke to the people who are publicly expressing much including their identities, but only privately willing to admit they share some of your concerns. I did get that. But in a separate place, you seemed to be criticizing anonymous for being anonymous which struck me as unfair.

    To Nev & all re moderation: I am admittedly a little puzzled by the complaint of lack of moderation. Maybe I’m missing it (that is a real possibility given how many comments there are, I suppose), but what precisely should have been removed? I’m personally all for fairly laid back moderation standards. I’m curious to better understand what others are looking for when they say the site is poorly moderated because at least at a distance it often looks to come up when someone has grown uncomfortable with too directly being challenged.

    Matthew: While I agree with you to a point that people can’t be held to ideas from the past, I’m fairly certain that at least in this instance, Nev has said in current-day public posts that she stands by her old posts and at least somewhat regrets taking them down. Nev, I’m not saying this to attack you. I’m simply questioning why you wouldn’t be reasonably thought to still believe the content of old posts that you have quite recently said you still believe.

    Most importantly, on the issue of oppression: I find it highly distressing when terms like ‘oppression’ get applied to the perhaps over-zealous-at-times promotion of some of these alternative beliefs.

    Let me back up a step and offer this explanation: Being mean to one another is an up-close-and-personal issue. Anyone can be mean to anyone else, regardless of race, economic status, gender, sexuality, diagnostic status, etc. etc. etc. Prejudice – at least at it’s most basic definition – is similar. We may all ‘judge the book by its cover’ in ways that are unfair.

    However, racism, heterosexism, classism, and the type of oppression that people who have been labeled by psychiatry experience is a SYSTEMIC POWER STRUCTURE. It can not simply be reversed with a few unkind words or a little misplaced anger.

    I can judge the hell out of the psychiatrist. I can kick him in the shins. But which one of us holds the power to lock which one of us up? Which one of us can put things in a file that will follow us around potentially for life? Which one of us can impact custody of our children? Force medications on us? Which one?

    The power dynamics are less clear when you’re talking about two people who have been diagnosed – where one buys into the medical model and the other does not. And yet, the truth is the one that does not still isnt’ any great holder of power. By judging the one who DOES buy into it, they haven’t shifted whose hand is on the controls.

    The notion that people who are forceful in their negative beliefs about psychiatry and the medical model are someone replicating the oppression of the system is one that I regard as about equally absurd as the people of christian faith who claim there’s a war on Christmas just because people are pushing for a little more equality in recognition of other holidays. In a country where the Christian God is recognized on our money, in our courts, in our pledge of allegiance, and in our employment laws it’s just utterly bizarre to claim that people who believe in Christmas are being oppressed with ‘Happy Holidays’ over ‘Merry Christmas.’

    Similarly, whether you agree with it or not, whether it is the most balanced view or not, we’re a LONG way off people who are horrified by the abuses of psychiatry and the damage that psychiatric drugs have caused having ANYWHERE near enough power to oppress anyone.

    Thanks 🙂


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    • “I can judge the hell out of the psychiatrist. I can kick him in the shins. But which one of us holds the power to lock which one of us up? Which one of us can put things in a file that will follow us around potentially for life? Which one of us can impact custody of our children? Force medications on us? Which one?”

      Want the truth? Anyone. It can happen. Somebody who is determined and has the drive and motive can wield their own power. Tom Ball did it. He had a judge removed from his seat! Tom Ball is a man who self-immolated after suffering the injustice of the family court “system”.

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  15. One last thing (for now): One of the original reasons I posted this blog was because I was encouraged to help get the word out about the Maastricht Interview training.

    For those of you who are in clinical or other supporter roles, or those of you who know people in those sorts of roles… I’m hoping you will pass on the info… not as something that is the answer to everything, but as a great opportunity that certainly is a heck of a lot better than most clinical trainings being offered in the US right now but a couple of really great people (Peter Bullimore & Kate Crawford) who themselves identify as people who hear voices. 🙂

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  16. I do feel it prudent to point out again that the kind of arguments here, and the kind of derailing of a blog, actually clearly point out the needs for an alternative method, which is what Sera has been pointing out about the workshop/training her organization is providing involved with the hearing voices program.

    When not only is there an inability to support statements of the medications being needed for a chemical imbalance (although the medications cause one); but simply scientific and statistical facts are categorized as shaming, and it eludes me to remember the rest. Oh yes, fear mongering, hero worship, heterogeneity….

    You can read all over the Internet statements about this supposed science, which can’t be backed up; and see most of the responses to even demanding some sort of real proof, or clearly refuting the statements met with statements, when anyone supplies statistical facts this method doesn’t correlate with healing, one is accused of preventing healing, that it is stigmatizing to actually bring out science, it’s dangerous to actually encourage alternatives; and this because when the method in use that correlates with the lack of healing and statistical increase of the disease gets the results is does, there’s more need for treatment using this method.

    In other words, you don’t even have to really look at what’s going on, just tack accusations such as fear mongering, hero worship, shaming and what have you; along with repeating statements like “it’s commonly believed,” “we’re making headway,” “we are sure we will discover that fill-in-the-blank-with-ideology,” and “there’s compelling evidence that (compelling evidence means that there’s belief something points to proof rather than it exists),” whenever scientific proof is asked for. And then go into scientific detail as to how you are disabling the mind, act like this is treating a chemical imbalance (while in reality science points out you are causing one that didn’t exist before) and target the minority of people who are happy with this treatment to get rewards when they say how much it has improved their life, while the statistics that in general this has caused more of the “disease” itself is suppressed. And people lose their free choice, and human rights abuses are overlooked, and the real fear mongering shaming, hero worship and suppression goes on where it occurs.

    It’s not at all illogical to simply add to this that when someone is taking a disabling psychiatric substance that it would be thoughtful to point out that this can add to their inability to think clearly; and instead of actually seeing the reality of statistics, lack of science, abundance of human rights abuses, loss of life and recovery: the psychiatric substance facilitates them hallucinating and fantasizing that what they have been programmed to believe is going on, rather than what clear cognition not disabled by a controlled substance would tell them.

    And it’s not redundant to once again state that common practice often doesn’t even allow these scientifically backed observations to be made by someone regarding their own personal life….

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      • A chemical imbalance is what’s being treated rather than being caused (psychiatric medications cause chemical imbalance, it’s not being treated); treatment is what statistically correlates with more of the disease, rather than healing; stigma is telling a person they can heal, mentioning that it could be from emotional trauma in the same family that might be forcing them on treatment or simply abandoning them emotionally; when there’s more of the disease this means that there’s more need for the treatment that correlates with the increase, rather than seeing a different approach is needed; science then also is made out to be an approach that causes a chemical imbalance, as long as you can scientifically play out how you alter brain chemistry this is magically made out to be medical treatment; and the people who are made out to be the worst in mental health, the most “sick,” who respond the best to alternative methods, are touted as examples of why there’s need for for forced treatment that correlates with a lack of recovery, because they’re the worst; And all the people complacent with these extremes in lack of healing and recovery gripe that when someone witnesses where healing occurs, we just don’t know what it’s like with these “severe” cases, or we’re promoting stigma.

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  17. Nev,

    Due to time constrains, I haven’t been following this thread this week, so I have missed a lot of what has been going on. However, I feel I need to respond to the following, beyond what others have,

    “Reactionary anti-intellectualism (including gross over-generalizations about “research”, psychopharmacology, etc.) strikes me as deeply counterproductive. Whitaker’s books hinge on “scientific” evidence, as do alternatives such as Open Dialogue, and I’m honestly at a loss as to understand why anyone who cares about the issues would not want to engage, deeply and thoughtfully, with the insights and shortcomings of the existing research literature.”

    As I said in previous interventions, I have a doctoral degree in hard science from one of America’s top universities. So I take a lot of issue with this idea that criticizing psychiatry along the lines that Whitaker, or many others have, is in any way “anti-intellectual”.

    In my own field, we take scientific claims seriously. There is no room for theories that cannot pass repeatedly falsifiable tests or whose best support is “I know a guy who tells me that theory X is true”. What differentiates science from other areas of human knowledge is its ability to make these falsifiable, and quantifiable, predictions. This is why planes fly 100% of the time (instead of whenever the pilot feels like the plane is going to fly). Ditto of cars. The computers that hold your bank account are also accurate 100% of the time (despite being built with billions of nano devices which are designed with the laws of quantum mechanics, subject themselves to random effects). The same applies to other medical disciplines where diagnoses are made via accurate biological testing such as immunology or oncology. HIV infection remains an incurable disease (for now), but we have accurate tests to determine not only whether an individual is infected, but also to measure the predicted effects of HIV infection (viral count, CD4 count, etc). The same is true when it comes to oncology and its ability to measure cancerous cells.

    If psychiatry claimed to be a “theory of living” like a religion, I think that it would not receive the type of criticism it does. However, it claims to be a “scientific discipline” akin to other scientific disciplines. When one makes that claim, one has to be able to submit the claim to strict scientific scrutiny. Psychiatry doesn’t have any falsifiable predictive claim that has withstood that scrutiny, which is why it is regularly attacked. Take for instance the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression that even mainstream psychiatrists don’t take seriously anymore despite the fact that serotonin altering psychotropics are the most widely prescribed class of psychotropic drugs. For many decades, psychiatry claimed that so called “depression” (which onto itself is a term that cannot be quantified beyond the HRSD) was caused by a deficit of serotonin in the synaptic gap. When psychiatry was asked “what is the right range of serotonin in the brain like we know the right range of cholesterol levels in blood”, psychiatry said “I do not know”. OK, then why do you claim that so called “depression” is caused by a deficiency in serotonin? Psychiatry said, because study X shows that SSRIs improve HRSD ratings in clinical trials. Without getting into the discussion that ibuprofen also is shown to alleviate pain and nobody claims that pain is caused by a deficiency of ibuprofen, there is the fact that SSRE (selective serotonin reuptake enhancers) seem to have the same effect on HRSD scores, even though they decrease the serotonin levels in the brain (ie, they do the opposite of what SSRIs do). And while we are at it, there is also the fact that even placebos have a similar effect for most people in HRSD ratings (as shown by independent meta-analysis by EH Turner and Irving Kirsch both published at respected scientific venues).

    This depression/serotonin unscientific association is not an isolated case but it is the most studied one because SSRIs is the most prescribed class of psychotropic drugs.

    With the evidence at hand, biopsychiatry is as valid a theory as claiming that so called “mental disorders” are caused by unicorns that live in Mars that send powerful waves to Earth when they get sexually aroused -said waves would interfere with some people’s brains causing them “mental disorders”. Nobody has seen those unicorns, just as nobody has provided a single biomarker to back any of psychiatry’s invented diseases. The latter fact has been recently acknowledged by two of the most influential leaders in so called “mental health”: Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and David Kupfer, the chairman of the DSM-5 task force.

    Some very credentialed scientists have gone as far as to calling medical psychiatry a scam, . Jerry Coyne is a highly credentialed professor of biology who can boast several publications in science’s two most prestigious publications: Nature and Science. He also happens to be a very prominent atheist and defender of evolution. I doubt he can be accused of “anti intellectualism”, which is a word used in the US by many in the media to refer to those who believe in intelligent design, etc.

    The real scandal is, in my opinion, that a discipline that is clearly unscientific has a higher legal status than truly scientific disciplines when it comes to impose itself onto innocent victims by way of involuntary commitment and so called “treatment”.

    Our courts do not allow doctors to impose HAART onto newly diagnosed HIV patients against their will (even though the consequences for the public health of HIV positive people not being medicated can be severe). The same is true for cancer patients and chemotherapy or heart patients and say heart transplants.

    Coercive psychiatry is, in my opinion -and as long as it remains an unscientific belief system- a violation of the first amendment of the US constitution. From where I stand, the APA is a hate group which goes around labeling people’s behavior as “pathological” just because DSM members say so. History has strange ways of correct abuses and I have no doubt in my mind that this abuse, coercive psychiatry, will go to the ash heap of history with other pseudo scientific endeavors like eugenics.

    Until that happens, denouncing psychiatry’s pseudoscience and abuses is the right thing to do both intellectually, and just as importantly, morally.

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