Launching MIA Reports

Robert Whitaker
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When we launched Madinamerica.com a little more than two years ago, we had in our sights the day when we would begin publishing original journalism pieces. Today, we have finally reached that goal.

Rob Wipond, a freelance journalist based in British Columbia, tells the story of Cindi Fisher and the consequences she faced after she became a non-compliant mom. It is a story that I am sure will resonate with many of our readers.

There are many reasons we have wanted to commission journalism pieces, but a principal one is that we think the mainstream media’s coverage of psychiatry and mental health issues is often quite poor. The articles that appear so regularly fail to challenge, in any significant way, the common wisdom (or fail to challenge those in positions of authority and power.) There is an old adage that a journalist’s job is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, and yet, on this particular topic, the media reports all too often do the reverse.

We hope that MIA Reports, which is what we are dubbing our journalism enterprise, will help fill in that gap. There is so much that needs to be reported and written about: the medicating of foster children with antipsychotics (that is a story of harm done on a grand scale, in my opinion); the expansion of outpatient treatment laws; the long-term effects of drug treatments; and so forth. At the same time, we want to write about the many ways that people are working to reform the system, and working to create new paradigms of care. Peer-run respite houses, the Hearing Voices Network, and efforts to replicate the success of the Open Dialogue program in northern Finland all need to be reported on in more thorough fashion.

We, of course, will need the support of our readers to continue this journalistic  effort. Many of you have given generously and provide us with support on a monthly basis, and we thank you: Rob Wipond’s article is an example of what your support makes possible. We hope that our readers will find his article to be an interesting and worthwhile read.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. It reads brilliantly until it gets to the typo “and on and one it went” … I’m not always peeved by typo’s, but that one is so bad that it pulls me out of the story and I haven’t been able to read the second half of it since. It’s the equivalent of a musician hitting an off key bend at the climax of a solo… it’s bad and should be corrected before the article has the chance to be read by a larger audience.

    • . . . said the charred pine twig to the ebony fingerboard. There’s a typo in the second line of your comment, Jeffrey. The plural of “typo” is not “typo’s.” The plural of “typo” is “typos.” Maybe your mistake was just a typo, but in case it was due to ignorance, let me give you some examples of how “typo’s” might be used CORRECTLY in a sentence. Here we go. “Your typo’s annoying as snot.” OR “The typo’s appearance in the text hurled Jeffrey into a paroxysm of judgmental ire.

      You’re welcome. 🙂

        • OK. I’ll bite. I would guess that “on and one” qualifies as a typo – a typing mistake – while “peeved by typo’s” is a spelling mistake – caused by ignorance. But what’s the difference, Stephen? My point being, is this any way to treat Mr. Wipond, a newcomer to our group of esteemed MIA writers? Publicly lambaste (albeit clumsily in an illiterate fashion) him and dismiss his brilliant article for a single typo? WTH? What disgraceful behavior.

          • @ Uprising – Constructive criticism? Your typo is so “BAD” that it caused me to become so “PEEVED” that I am completely unable to read anything else beyond your typo. Constructive criticism would be simply pointing out the typo, minus the angry, shaming tone. N’est-ce pas? That’s how I read it.

  2. Dear Bob

    Although I share your excitement that MIA is now publishing “original” journalism pieces I hope that this won’t detract from the original blog posts written by the psychiatric survivors and non-compliant mothers themselves, who dare to write their own stories without fear of favour or consequences.

    I’ve been writing on and for Mad in America since you invited me to participate in January 2012 and have done this regularly and voluntarily, in tandem with writing and editing my own blogs. As an activist and campaigners it has helped to hone my writing skills while also standing firm on human rights issues and justice. It’s not been an easy road speaking out and yet it has been rewarding if challenging.

    I do believe that stories in the first person are very powerful and can’t be underestimated in the movement to bring about a paradigm shift to psychiatry and grassroots improvements to mental health services. Mad in America has given the experts by experience a place to have a voice. I hope this will continue and not be eroded in any way.

    All the best, Chrys

  3. I appreciate what the blogger “chernavsky” posted. Bob, since I stumbled upon your book Anatomy of an Epidemic… in 2012 shortly after the untimely and horrific death, by suicide, of my beautiful 25 y/o son, I haven’t looked back. As I told you when we met at the MH Tomorrow conf, in Texas, 2012 it is only upon reading your book about why society must rethink the conventional wisdom of tx of MI with drugs, the paradigm of MH care in America, I began to find answers.

    Having worked in health care for >30 yrs, it was only natural to take my then 23 y/o first-son in the midst of a complete breakdown, literally overnight, to a psych hosp assuming he would get the BEST care possible. Sadly, my expertise never dealt with MH, and from the night my husband and I persuaded, truly out of desperation, our son to enter that locked unit was the beginning of nothing less than a horror film. How many times on this webzine have I repeated our lives from that moment on until his death (other than about 18 months our son returned what we believed was his always healthy, thriving charismatic personality) 27 months later we lived in what seems to us like the sequel to the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    Your book and my readings, conferences, support grps…. have opened my eyes to this tainted, sick MH industry. Only because of this connection have I begun to unravel the mystery to comprehend what took my son’s life. After 5 months of hounding the regulatory agency `the watchdog- for the 2nd psych hosp (believing their lies and the thousands we coughed up supposedly for drug rehab instead coerced to their locked unit until he was “dumped” after 13 days) do I finally have a foot in the door. I plan to take the egregious violations and blatant lies and expose this industry!

    If I stand in my truth and let the FACTS speak for themselves, maybe each of us can improve this “system”, little by little. The story of Cindy Fisher and what she has done to bring awareness to the plight of her son, as she became aware there are alternative therapies that hopefully may eventually save her son, and I believed categorically would have saved my son, how can we stop trying to wake up society?

    I got a call this week from the psychologist whom my son was under the care of until my son chose to move away. He now reads MIA regularly. We both realize this greed focused industry largely contributed to the death of my son. As “chernavsky” writes a monthly donation to further this cause and support this foundation, Bob, can hopefully help make a difference. I so agree!

  4. Ecxellent article.
    I hope the articles you commission gets picked up by mainstream news outlets. That will add a lot of momentum to this cause.

    I posted this one on facebook and it got copied and commented on. Interestingly the comment was about how the boy was arrested and put in handcuffs when he was 12. It was a black friend who commented and forwarded it, so maybe he was picking up on the racism. This reminds me the dictum that psychiatry’s function is to cover up the causes of mental distress – often that is the abusive use of power.