I Love … Stigma? Reaching Out to College Students & Beyond

92
483

Last week, a community of which I am a part (the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community) was invited to take part in an “anti stigma” event at a local community college in honor of (I think) some sort of awareness month, week or day.

For what it’s worth, I tried to figure out which awareness month, week or day it was (or was close to) through an on-line search because I couldn’t quite recall what I’d been told.  What I found was sort of staggering.  How is anyone supposed to keep track (and why exactly would they want to)?  Apparently, according to Mental Health America, the White House, Wikipedia and a host of others, May is ‘Mental Health Awareness’ month.  However, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) counters that with ‘Mental ILLNESS Awareness’ week that reportedly falls in October.  Meanwhile, according to some miscellaneous Facebook page,  ‘Mental Health Awareness ’ day lands on April 16 (from 10am to 4pm, to be exact).  Moving along, the Massachusetts chapter of NAMI notes that ‘National Eating Disorder Awareness’ week runs from the very end of February to March 1, and ‘National Brain Awareness’ week picks up the baton on March 10 (passing it along to ‘World Bipolar Day’ on March 30).  Other dates of note?  Apparently, ‘Self Injury Awareness,’ day is on March 1, and the Disability World site cites an absolutely staggering list of dates to remember here, including National Sauce Month (!?).  But I digress.  Suffice to say, my head is now spinning and I could never really quite figure out what the event I was specifically at was all in honor of…

Anyway, what’s far more important are the implications of what actually occurred at the event itself.  A panel of six individuals (a mix of teachers and students) sat at a table on a stage in the school’s theater, and were individually invited up by a moderator to the podium to tell a bit of their stories.  In truth, some of them were quite good speakers and one young woman offered a spoken word piece on body image and personal power that was pretty great.  However, there was not much diversity in terms of the message:  These experiences (‘mental health issues’ they generally called them) are lifelong illnesses with genetic components.  Great.

The panel presentation was followed up by a question and answer period.  Ah, but it wasn’t your standard, average ‘talk out loud’ question and answer period.  In case people were too afraid or too uncomfortable to make their comments or ask their questions directly about oh-so-scary ‘mental health issues’ (the stigma of which we were supposed to be ‘busting’), we were encouraged to write our thoughts and inquiries out on little slips of paper that the moderator would then read on our behalf.

(Okay.  Confession moment: I spent the better part of the first third of the event hurriedly scrawling out questions on several of those little slips of paper, since it appeared I might not be permitted to speak up myself . . . which, for the record, I would have vastly preferred both for the sake of getting my ideas across and due to my truly awful handwriting.)

So, they started reading those questions.  And the words on one of those anonymous pieces of paper read something like:  “Isn’t the language of ‘stigma’ just serving to sustain ‘stigma’?  Isn’t it really about discrimination and oppression and if so, why don’t we call it that?  We don’t talk about the ‘stigma’ of being black.”  (Okay, that one just might have been mine.)   The panel looked a little uncertain, but started jumping in with comments about how ‘stigma’ is appropriate to ‘mental health issues’ because it gets internalized unlike oppression around race which all comes from the outside and doesn’t get internalized (!?!?).   (In fairness, the woman who spoke about internalized stigma was very well-intended and honest about being early on in her own process of figuring this all out and another woman on the panel did speak up and say that she preferred not to use the term ‘stigma’ because it kept us in a box.)

Then they came to another one of my questions.  I could tell because of the slightly scrunched, “trying to decipher this handwriting” look on the moderator’s face.  It went something like, “If we’re trying to fight ‘stigma,’ and the psychiatric labels we put on people have been demonstrated to increase that ‘stigma,’ then wouldn’t we do best to turn our efforts to demedicalizing human experience?”  In a fascinating turn, they all stopped – moderator included – and said “Yes!”  Fabulous.  Maybe we’re getting somewhere?

And then the magic happened.  Shortly thereafter, the moderator (I believe she holds a clinical role on the campus) ended the Q&A and announced she had an interactive game for us all to play.  (Yippee!  Everyone loves a good game, right?)  The game was called, “I love.”  (Uh oh.  If I couldn’t have already guessed, I now knew this was headed somewhere I was not going to like.)  In this game, you see, the rules are simple:  Just begin every sentence with “I love,” and end it with “someone with [insert psychiatric label].”  “I love someone with attachment disorder,” role modeled the moderator who then rattled off at least five more examples of who she ‘loves,’ before passing it along to the panel members.  “I love someone with bipolar,” they said.  Anxiety.  Borderline.  Paranoid Schizophrenia with psychotic features.  (I began to twitch.)  Then the moderator so generously threw it out to the audience.  “Just yell it out!” she instructed them, and so they did.  “I love someone with PTSD!”  “Depression!”  (Sigh.)

What are we doing?  How could this ‘game’ have come so close on the heels of an entire panel’s enthusiastic agreement that we should begin to demedicalize human experience?  Was I the only one who got the not-so-funny joke that was playing out before my very eyes?  Fortunately, I was with someone else from my community and – given our silence had now been broken – he felt empowered to share with the audience that he was having trouble with the exercise as all he was really hearing was, “I love stigma!”  I also then spoke up and shared that, “I love” people who find ‘borderline’ to be one of the most offensive diagnoses out there (myself included), and “I love” people who’ve been given lots of psychiatric labels, hospitalized against their will and then thrown that whole perspective out the window to their own substantial betterment.

At least ours were some of the last comments that the students in attendance heard.  However, it left me much more up-close-and-personal with some of the following questions:  What are we offering to some of our youngest minds?  The very ones we should most be supporting to grow into critical thinkers as they learn how to enter the adult world and teach and share with others?  Are any of us really doing enough to get the ideas so prevalent on this website into our schools?  At what age do people even begin to find out that there’s another way to see things and understand human experience?  And what are the implications of allowing young people to get so far along in life before they know they even have permission to consider another way of thinking and being?

Fortunately, part of our invite to this event had included offering a table of information.  Although I never could have anticipated the aforementioned ‘game,’ I had guessed that the skew might be in the direction of the medical model and so at our table we offered (among other materials) copies of the films, ‘Beyond the Medical Model’ and ‘The Virtues of Non-Compliance’ as well as copies of ‘The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psych Drugs.’  We also offered an opinion piece by Rich Shulman published in the Connecticut Mirror on March 4th and entitled, “Mental Illness: Another Point of View.

The piece had fortuitously crossed my computer screen only about an hour before I was to leave for the college event.  Its focus: an event called “An Honest Look at Mental Illness” to be hosted by The Forum on March 7th and that was (honestly) equally as skewed in the direction of ‘illness.’  Unfortunately, the audience reach was to be even broader.

Interestingly, the Forum, in their defense, posted Rich’s article on their Facebook page and said, “We at The Forum welcome all sides of an issue, especially one as complex as this, and encourage inquiries like this both on stage and in our lives.”  In fact, I received a similar response at the college event: “Thank you for coming and sharing your divergent views.  We welcome that!”  Sure, better to get other perspectives in from the audience than not at all.  However, it’s the ones on stage who will always be heard the loudest and afforded the most credibility.  We can be certain that comments like mine (from the back of an auditorium) or Rich’s (in a newspaper that not all attendees will even ever see) hold much less power.

Unless we do something more than we are doing.  Talking here among ourselves is lovely and reassuring.  Hopefully, there are lots of lurkers we don’t even know are here who are being influenced to broaden their views and challenge the status quo.  In fact, I’m counting on that.   But what else can we do?

Some ideas in the short term:

  • First, go read Rich’s article, share it with others and comment on it.  (Positive comments help reduce the popularity and visibility of the negative ones!)
  • Then, go like the post referencing his article on the Forum Facebook page.  (Let them know people are paying attention!)
  • Next, post your own comment below his article on that Facebook page, asking the Forum how they will put their words to action and correct the imbalance of their most recent event.

And in the longer term:

  • Work with your local community to put on more events that challenge the conventional ways (Here’s an example of of events from the Western Mass RLC!
  • Build a mailing list that includes as many teachers at your local schools as possible and share relevant articles and events
  • Reach out to some of those teachers and:
    • See if they are willing to distribute event flyers to their students
    • Better yet, convince them to give extra credit to students for attending some of those events  (I know more than one professor who has done this!)
    • See if they will have people in to talk to their class about their own experiences or work from a different perspective
    • Gift a copy of ‘Beyond the Medical Model’ or ‘The Virtues of Non-Compliance’ and see if you can get them to use it in their curriculum (I’m pleased to say that some teachers already have!  And here’s a few other film suggestions:  Healing Homes, Take These Broken Wings, Crooked Beauty, Open Dialogue, There is a Fault in Reality, Between the Lines, Coming Off Psych Drugs, Generation RX, Little Brother Big Pharma, Voices Matter, Titicut Follies…)
    • Contact your local colleges and towns to find out about upcoming health, community and volunteer fairs and set up a table (even if you’re not a part of a fully developed organization or community, gather a few volunteers, give yourself a name and show up with some info to challenge and balance what else is there!)
    • Keep an eye out for opportunities to write letters to the editors of local papers or to offer comments of support when you see letters and Op-ed pieces you like (even just sharing or liking those pieces on Facebook or Twitter has a real impact!)

What are your ideas?

 

***

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.

***

Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.

92 COMMENTS

  1. Love this! Thanks for continuing to tell it like it is, Sera, and for the suggestions on how to further awareness about what I will call, for this moment, “stigma stigma.”

    I look forward to implementing some of these ideas in Boston soon!

    Report comment

  2. PREFACE: Ever considered that there may be a more positive reason behind “mental illnesses?” Of course not, otherwise the world would be a much better position than it is today.

    “People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives”
    Some famous people who have had a serious “occurrence” include:

    • Abraham Lincoln-Revered sixteenth President of the United States
    • Virginia Woolf-The British novelist
    • Lionel Aldridge-A defensive end for Vince Lombardi’s legendary Green Bay Packers
    • Eugene O’Neill-famous playwright
    • Ludwig van Beethoven-The brilliant composer
    • Gaetano Donizetti-The famous opera singer
    • Robert Schumann-The “inspired poet of human suffering”
    • Leo Tolstoy-Author of War and Peace
    • Vaslov Nijinsky-famous dancer
    • John Keats-a renowned poet
    • Tennessee Williams-The playwright
    • Vincent Van Gogh-The celebrated artist
    • Isaac Newton-renowned scientist
    • Ernest Hemingway-Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
    • Sylvia Plath-poet and novelist
    • Michelangelo-one of the world’s greatest artistic geniuses
    • Winston Churchill- inspired a nation
    • Vivien Leigh– Stared in Gone with the Wind
    • Jimmy Piersall-The baseball player for the Boston Red Sox
    • Patty Duke-Academy Award-winning actress
    • Charles Dickens-One of the greatest authors in the English language

    Others include: Bert Yancey, Brooke Shields, Buzz Aldrin, Calvin Klien, Carrie Fisher, Charles Mingus, Cole Porter, Connie Francis, Dick Cavett, Edgar Allen Poe, Eric Clapton, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neill, Francis Farmer.

    More recently: Catherine Zeta Jones, Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain, Comedienne Roseanne Barr, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Actor Marlon Brando, Drew Carey, Jim Carrey, Singer Judy Collins…

    Report comment

    • Egomen, I want to respond, but I guess I’m feeling a little bit uncertain what point you’re making specifically? Certainly, there are people throughout history who’ve had all sorts of experiences with emotional distress, tragedy and trauma, unusual experiences and so on… There’s no point or value in denying that… In fact, as you are perhaps intending to note, the human experiences – for all its bumps – often produces all the more beauty as a result. However, none of that speaks to the benefits of psychiatric labeling or promoting one solitary ‘right’ path to understanding… Curious what I might be missing in what you intended to communicate?

      Thanks!

      -Sera

      Report comment

    • I beg to differ.

      What a great thing to cheer up people who are hospitalized in crisis! NOT. Look at these famous people who had mental illnesses— what’s your excuse, loser? Too many of these people were “diagnosed” long after they were dead. More than a few of them had problems with drug and alcohol abuse, and fame itself can do a number on someone’s heads, especially when they’re on their way down.

      How, on God’s green earth, is Michelangelo mentally ill? Because he was a great artist. Pich.

      Just another stinky NAMI poster to be plastered in lock down wards as if the people on that list had any relevance whatsoever to the people in crisis on that ward.

      Report comment

      • I like to add Thomas Edison, who was apparently thrown out of school at an early age and his mother was told he was “incorrigible” and could never be taught anything. He was homeschooled from there forward and apparently learned a thing or two that he passed along. I am sure he did not suffer from a lack of Ritalin in his experimentation and marketing genius.

        All these great people managed to be great in an age before “treatment” or labels were invented. I have always failed to see how their success does anything but undermine the notion that “psychiatric disorders” are “lifetime brain disabilities” that require “lifelong ‘treatment.'” These people didn’t have lifelong “treatment,” did they? How did they manage to be great anyway? Seems like a great argument AGAINST ‘treatment.’

        — Steve

        Report comment

    • I’m quite certain most these people succeeded because they were NOT whacked out of their mind on major and / or minor tranquilizers. And, based upon this list, it appears quite clear psychiatry has created a “bible” of stigmatizations which intentionally targets creatives and artists of all sorts.

      Report comment

    • I do not agree that restrospectively stigmatizing famous people “mentally ill” is in the lease bit valid or ethical as has been noted on another recent post. Also, in response to Sera, I would like to suggest that we repeat the mantra based on Dr. Insel’s recent bombshell that all DSM stigmas are totally invalid junk science without a shred of scientific, genetic, medical or other evidence. The recent book, Mad Science, with a review of it posted on MIA, does a great job of exposing how biopsychiatry is 100% fraud with its only constant being their never ending coercion for social control. Thus, continuing to use these life destroying stigmas while pretending to be anti-stigma is the ultimate hypocrisy, dishonesty and crimes against humanity per Dr. Fred Baughman, Neurologist.

      I get very frustrated to keep reading about “business as usual” just because Insel back peddled under pressure after admitting what anyone who has done a spec of research on biopsychiatry in books like Toxic Psychiatry, They Say You’re Crazy, The Selling of the DSM, Making Us Crazy, The Myth of Mental Illness, The Therapeutic State and countless others, personal experience and common sense already knew: that the DSM paradigm of biopsychiatry is a predatory, evil alliance with Big Pharma/Business and corrupt government hacks as also exposed by Robert Whitaker in his great books too.

      Sera and others in this position: I suggest you bring a copy of Insel’s blog post, “Transforming Diagnosis” and spread the word loud and clear to those pushing this bogus agenda with the worst perpetrators pretending to be anti-stigma knowing this creates much worse stigma.

      At the same time, I am impressed by the fact that you take ever opportunity to challenge this destructive DSM junk science life destroying paradigm and I thank you for that and this great article.

      Report comment

  3. NAMI pretends to be fighting stigma and discrimination against people labeled with psychiatric diagnoses, even though evidence shows that the scientifically unsupported fraudulent chemical imbalance theory that NAMI promotes as “fact” actually increases discrimination. It tells the public that people with a psychiatric diagnosis have “broken brains,” and that their moods and behaviors are governed by faulty brain chemistry. This is an understanding that separates the “mentally ill” from the rest of society. That the “mentally ill” are different from “us.”

    What NAMI really wants is to normalize the use of psychiatric drugs. More social acceptability means more profit for NAMI’s corporate sponsors, and more influence for NAMI and its agenda to force psychiatry on those that don’t want it.

    Fighting stigma, what a scam that really is and they know it.

    Report comment

    • Thanks for posting and reading, Copy_cat. I suspect the truth of what you suggest depends upon to whom within NAMI you are referring. Clearly, there are lots of people in NAMI who are there out of desperation and reaching toward the only seemingly visible organization that is promising them support.. I feel confident that most of those people don’t even necessarily understand the link between NAMI and the pharmaceutical industry… But certainly there are those within their structure that are pretty clear and, in fact, responsible for that linkage…

      And there’s no denying the truth of your first paragraph!

      Thanks again for speaking up.

      -S

      Report comment

  4. Great article, Sera. I love your description of NAMI as the National Alliance FOR Mental Illness. I use that phrase too, and it is an accurate description.

    I certainly agree with you that “stigma” is just another tool to convince people that letting themselves and their children be drugged is the right way to live their lives, by turning over all life’s problems to psychiatry. I tend to attack this PR at its base, by trying to discredit psychiatry itself. Of course, in many ways the profession is doing a great job of doing that, if we can find ways to get the public to see it..

    On the phenomenon of “NAMI mommies,” I also agree with you that a lot of such people are just desperate for help for their family members, and are being conned by the drug company propaganda. For a long while, it has been unfortunately the case that our movement and most such family members have been on opposite sides. But this is changing, and not just within NAMI. Rob Wipond’s excellent article in the current MIA gives one example. Another is the participation of many family members in the fight to free Justina Pelletier in Boston, led by Melissa Kerins and others. The next fight in Boston will be to close Bader 5, Harvard’s notorious psych ward at Boston Children’s Hospital, and I know many family members will be involved in that too. And as someone who as you know was labelled and abused by psychiatry as a child, I am very happy to have these family members be on my side, and I on theirs.

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Ted… It’s a great point that we’ve too often found ourselves on opposite sides or attacked one another for each getting sucked into the system itself, rather than continuing to grow our numbers, recognize why we each (quite reasonably) got sucked in at various points and keep directing our energy where it’s most needed.

      I’ve done my best to track yours and others work in Boston as of late. I’d hoped to get to the protest in January to offer support and meet you in person, but it ended up overlapping with urgent issues I needed to address at home with one of my own children and the local school system.

      In any case, thanks for your work and for reading my blog.

      -Sera

      Report comment

  5. Sera,

    What else can we do?

    For some time, I have thought we need to work on getting federal legislation passed that would put an end to forced treatment and offer options other than drugs.

    Because this idea has gone over like a lead-filled balloon, I’m going to work at the state level, with my friend John Breeding. The next Texas legislative session is a year away, but I plan on providing testimony again with proposed bills – state house and senate committees.

    We tend to have several bills authored each session. The idea is to block bills that expand conventional treatment, especially those pertaining to children, in foster care, Medicaid and juvenile justice systems – to make sure they die in committee. At the same time encouraging passage of bills that expand alternative treatments.

    I would encourage every reader to look into this – to see what it takes to sign up to testify in a public hearing in your state legislature.

    Duane

    Report comment

  6. “wouldn’t we do best to turn our efforts to demedicalizing human experience?” Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you, Sera, for speaking your truth publically, especially to young people who are so vulnerable to being psychiatrized during the perilous journey into “adulthood” (whatever THAT is). Every time you do speak out, you encourage other independent thinkers that it’s OKAY to question the mainstream, politically correct thinking du jour.
    Go, Sera, go!

    Report comment

  7. Hi
    If you say the right things then you are really lovable and a deserving mentally handicapped person. If you say the wrong things you’re name is mud and and you could be dangerous.

    I reckon at least 50% of the UK Mental Health Budget demand is as a result of Medical (not consumer) Fraud. Its like the Members of Parliament expenses fiddle only many hundreds of times worse.

    Report comment

  8. Sera,
    Always my mind is expanded after reading your blog. As someone who has much to learn about the computers use in activism and otherwise you and Chaya and others here are helping to open my eyes. Back when Tina started a campaign about a year ago to stop psychiatric profiling I put up a sign to that effect on a hallway bulletin board at the local mental health center which is on the same floor as the sheriff’s office and court room . The sign is still there to this day.
    Around the same time I e- mailed the Rockefeller Foundation a message stating that one day they would be brought to Nuremberg type trials for crimes against humanity.In reply they made my computer disfuctional.I couldn’t even put in my administrator password. After spending $200 trying to fix it I ended up buying a new computer.
    My single best success played out over a year when I was able to teach a neighbor of mine a single mother that had 2 young boys both” diagnosed” with autism spectrum how to recover their lives from the psychiatric ,medical, and educational authorities.I told her about the organization Generation Rescue gave her websites ,films ,books , including Anatomy of an Epidemic, and other reading materials. Talked to her and answered her questions. Gave her info on the danger of vaccinations, mercury dental amalgams and meds.How to claim religious exemption to avoid vaccinations . Taught her about Traditional Naturopathy, and Homeopathy. Now that she and her boys are doing well she has become an activist herself communicating with other young mothers. After a year she returned all the reading materials and films I loaned her before she moved from this government housing complex to a better place for her family. Many of the neighbors noticed how well her boys were doing and one of them told me when they asked her about me that she said I was amazing.I am thankful that I was able to be of help.
    I really appreciate your recommendation of rich’s article whose insight and precision with language matches your own. Thank You ,
    Fred

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Fred! I appreciate your reading and speaking up, especially sharing the impact you had on someone (and most importantly, their children!) in your local community. That is of so much greater value than posting blogs and such no matter how relevant the topic, though I hope that one ultimately helps feed the other.

      Report comment

      • Thanks, Sera I believe when we do the best we can we can feel good and in hearing what others are doing as you said “one ultimately helps feed the other.” Soon we find we can do what we do better , Walking away from psychiatry is quite a springboard into life.

        Report comment

  9. Thanks for your writing and work Sera. I’ve also found the campaign against “stigma” to be very puzzling. As someone who’s skeptical and critical of DSM labels and the psychiatric system, I often feel it’s a campaign against me. Someone would have to take quite a deep breath indeed if they were going to shout “I love someone with …” and then list all my diagnosed labels. (Not that I would ever hope someone would choose to express their love for me in that way…)

    Report comment

  10. Sera, you are awesomely on target as usual. But I have to admit, this article almost made me physically ill. Especially the “game.” I am glad you were there to throw a monkey wrench in the works, but you should have been on the panel with half a dozen other survivors who genuinely know what you are talking about. I can’t believe this drivel is being passed off as “education.” It really does make me sick!

    — Steve

    Report comment

    • Alex, I’m always hesitant to publicly name places of this nature since I think the reality is that this sort of stuff happens at so many colleges… It was a community college in Western Massachusetts, though. If you’re interested in details, send me a message and happy to tel you more!

      Report comment

      • I’ve seen this sort to of stuff in the UK. There is a well funded campaign called, “Time To Change.” It has the dubious figure of 1 in 4 having mental health problems in any one year (expanding diagnosis anyone?).

        They are really un-crititical of mental health services and give me the creeps

        Report comment

  11. Ms Davidow,

    Thank you for coming to the event we held at that ‘local community college’ and bringing information about RLC to share with fellow students, faculty and families. I would like to clear a few things up that might not have been shared with you when you were asked to come and represent RLC.

    http://www.activeminds.org/

    That is the student organization that put together the panel. We are a new chapter, only a few semesters old and looking to make a difference in students lives. This was not for any national day or week. It was simply to start a conversation on our campus, make students aware of options for help on and off campus and let them know, via the panelists, that they are not alone in what ever their struggles are.
    Now, that said, could we have done things better? Always! We are in college to better ourselves so we are not afraid of constructive criticisms, critiques and help. As I read over your blog post I only see one bit of information that, in a back handed manner, I could agree with and we as a group have discussed.
    I want to ask you, Sera Davidow, were you told anything about what was going on or was it a last minute drop in your lap type thing? I would hate to be critical of you if no one filled you in on the particulars. I would to hate to think you came in with a pre-judgement of the Active Minds chapter. And I would certainly not want to believe that this blog would be used to vent frustrations at being put into a situation you were uncomfortable with or lacking knowledge.
    We as a group have talked about this blog a lot. We have sat back and digested what was said and wondered how we possibly could have offended. We weighed it with feed back from students, faculty, families and even people who herd about it and contacted out advisor.
    I, as a psychology student at that campus, was offended. You stated in your blog post you were so busy scribbling during the first speaker you missed some of her story. Your questions were based of a preconceived notion of what the panel was about. You did not listen and hear the other stories. You decided the cards were to keep people from talking. We added the cards because people have fears of speaking before so many people. Others might want a card to collect their thoughts. The ‘I love someone with’ brought to mind for a lot of folks that we all know someone who has struggled. It was not planed and there were mixed feelings on it, and this is where instead of being negative in a blog staying and talking with us and offering advice, thoughts and being part of the conversation would have been helpful.
    Is medicine the answer to all problems? No, but for some folks it sure helps. A few of the speakers said it was nice to have a name for the demon they had fought with for all or part of their lives. For some naming a monster removes in from the unknown which humans have an ingrained fear of.
    I will not give my name just to leave this all anonymous, for you I was the student with bright red hair at the back of the auditorium. I have had 4 different DSM named disorders and been on medication. I am no longer on medication. I manage with meditation and yoga and keeping a good family/friend support group. I do not begrudge medicine and not being a help to me. It was a step to managing the challenges I have with life. I would like to offer some constructive criticism to you in regards to this post. If you did not know what was going on or what it was about how can you fairly judge what was done? How can you offer anything to the discussion? Who is this blog post serving? What purpose did it serve to blast an attempt to open a dialogue? Did it serve a purpose to denigrate the panel for speaking about their struggles in hopes of touching one other and giving a little hope?
    If you would like to learn about Active Minds please explore the site I linked. Psychology is a young, evolving science and there, at this time, is not 100% right way to treat and cope with depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, anxiety and many many other identifiable challenges. People fighting to get other help and to educate should work together not point fingers.
    Namaste
    from a student at the local community college

    Report comment

    • Dear Green Lady,

      I checked out the Active Minds web site and it made me wonder if Big Pharma is providing funds for this group as they do for most other supposed patient groups to push the DSM stigma, toxic drugging agenda that has harmed so many people including children and toddlers no less.

      I am sad to see that you are advocating bogus DSM stigmas like bipolar and depression used to push useless, lethal drugs that have even been debunked as invalid, lacking evidence and unscientific by Dr. Thomas Insel, Head of the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Insel dropped this bomb in an article called Transforming Diagnosis you can find on his NIMH blog or on MIA. I took psychology courses in college and have read much on the topic and the junk science DSM and the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel agenda in no way represents psychology or social work at all whatsoever in my opinion.

      I suggest you read the following work by expert, nationally recognized psychologists debunking the whole current DSM paradigm of so called “mental health” that came about when Freudian analysis waned and psychiatry sold out to Big Pharma to help them create and push toxic drugs that made billions globally while destroying countless lives.

      http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Science-Psychiatric-Coercion-Diagnosis/dp/1412849764

      http://csw.fsu.edu/articles/mad-science-psychiatric-coercion-diagnosis-and-drugs-book-launch/

      https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/07/book-review-mad-science-psychiatric-coercion-diagnosis-and-drugs/

      Of course, there are tons of books and other resources criticizing the current pseudoscience DSM paradigm of biopsychiatry, but this one is one of the most current and comprehensive as the many reviewers point out.

      I fear that recruiting students to this organization you are promoting will just lead them to a life destroying paradigm of so called mental health since they will only be exposed to biopsychiatry’s very dishonest “brain disease/chemical balance” junk science to manipulate them into thinking useless, toxic drugs can solve their life problems, traumas, crises and other challenges of becoming sadder but wiser at times.

      When many people learn the truth about biopsychiatry that ultimately caused huge harm and loss to themselves and loved ones, they feel very betrayed by those they believed conned them into many human, civil and democratic rights violations often for life.

      After all, the authors of Mad Science above point out that the only agenda and so called treatment that has been consistent has been their coercion and violation of the rights of their so called patients.

      I hope you and your fellow students will be very careful to become fully informed about biopsychiatry including its huge growing number of critics like Robert Whitaker, award winning journalist and author of Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic along with classics like Toxic Psychiatry, Your Drug May Be Your Problem, 2nd ed., Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs, The Myth of the Chemical Cure, Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder, ADHD Fraud, America Fooled, De-Medicalizing Misery, The Myth of Mental Illness, The Therapeutic State, Cruel Compassion, The Emperor’s New Drugs, Prozac Backlash, Talking Back to Prozac, Talking Back to Ritalin, Reclaiming Our Children, Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry, Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? and tons of others along with many web sites, articles and other resources.

      I appreciate your input, but Sera is a very well informed, compassionate, caring and very dedicated advocate for those suffering from the type of life problems and crises you address, but like most of us at MIA, she has learned the hard way that the great modern success story of biopsychiatry pushed by its informercials with Big Pharma couldn’t be further from the truth, which is also addressed in Bob Whitaker’s books above. Another great web site exposing the fraud of the key opinion leaders of biopsychiatry who sold out to Big Pharma is 1boringoldman, a psychiatrist.

      I appreciate your input, but I fear for young people today given what I’ve learned the hard way. I hope you and your fellow students will make sure you get both sides of the story since such decisions will not only affect you, but also any children or grandchildren you might have some day.

      I wish you much success in your school and other endeavors.

      Report comment

      • Donna,
        Thank you for constructive useful information!! Information is always welcome and of course needs to be waded through. Active Minds, at least with our particular chapter and the chapters we have dealt with in the 5 college area, have no agenda to push drugs, no drugs, killing a medical model or hold up one truth over another.
        I am not a traditional student. I am not ashamed to say I am 40 and know how flawed thinking can get especially when looking for the miracle pill/treatment. I know a pill is not the answer but from conversations I have had with friends and my own partner in life sometimes getting an edge off the panic or anxiety can get your head in a space to work through what ever the stresser is. My partner, and I use him with permision and to help, is not limited by a medical diagnosis and it does not dictate how he and his therapist treat his bouts of hyper anxiety.
        Getting hung up on where funds come from and assuming the backers sit in every meeting and control every move is, pardon me for saying, a bit paranoid. People in these groups have free thought and, again pardon my bit of evil streak here, can take the money and run.
        Friends, family, co-workers and school mates have in candid conversations said a few things on the labeling. First and foremost to use insurance and have any kind of help, therapy, medication or interaction with a medical professional insurance wants a label. Ya stupid I know. Insurance companies are the bane of any health care. Mental of physical. In order to get the bills paid via insurance we all now must invest in the label, until we revamp insurance companies, is there. Second, many folks, me included, would love to have a name to pin on the albatros around our necks. Mine has a couple and when I have had it with it weighing me down it is theraputic to curse at a named thing.
        Honestly there is some semantics being argued here. The point of Active Minds, RLC and many other groups is to keep people from turning to alcohol, drugs and unfortunatly suicide. The goal is to get people the help they want, medical or otherwise, and support them in their healing.
        If you are hanging by your finger tips off a cliff are you going to smack away a hand who is trying to help just because it has tools to help fund from a source you do not like? I personally would never smack away help up but no one will live my life for me and that is where tools like what RLC offers can help. Build confidence, build coping skills and build a network of help. If someone does not have that in friends and family a community of like minded people can be a huge boost.
        I know the drugs are bad for the body. There are a lot of drugs that seem worse than the disease. Personally I like to do as much holistically as possible and I share that information with anyone who listens. I never put them down for leaning on pharmacticals. I do so from time to time. Cluster headaches = not fun times and to function and not be laid up till the pain passes I do nip it with a modern drug. It is a compromise. Compromise means we each give a little and accept there are things we do not like.
        I am not niave, when we put together this panel it came from a place of caring and love. No big evil pharm company told us to do it, gave us money or incentive to do it. We did it because we have held the hand of friends, family and even strangers who were on the brink and just needed to know someone cared.

        Report comment

    • Hi GreenLady,

      So, there’s a lot in your blog. First, let me say that I knew it was a risk in posting this blog that someone from your college may see it and be offended. I actually experienced some anxiety (of the general human, non-clinical sort), some guilt (that comes easy and often for me and isn’t necessarily deserved), and so on. I actually *am* sorry that your group is apparently hearing it as mostly just an attack on them. It’s not really. However, I decided I wanted to post it, and I’m still glad I did. It was important. Not because of YOUR college specifically, but because of all colleges and all schools and all young (and not as young) minds that are being shaped by these sorts of events. I did not name your college both out of respect for your college and what I do believe was its good intent, but ALSO because this is bigger than your college. Your college may have held this particular event, but this is happening everywhere. It’s a major issue across the country. Your event was just a symbol of that, as far as this blog goes.

      So, on the smaller details: I was aware that it was an event connected to Active Minds on that campus, but I felt that that was too identifying and not entirely relevant to the larger points of this particular blog. Honestly, I’m not sure what saying that a group of students and faculty on campus got together under the guides of ‘Active Minds’ changes. I don’t know much about Active Minds, so I came with no pre-conceived notions (although, yes, probably some suspicions), though it’s an organization on my list to ‘check out.’ (I will, but not now. It’s after 2am.) I was *pretty* sure that – although someone had mentioned it was an Active Minds event, that they had also mentioned that that time period was chosen because of it’s relationship to some sort of ‘day’ or ‘week.’ I could be wrong, hence the ‘I think’ noted parenthetically above. But even if I was incorrect in that point, the larger point – that there are so many ‘illness’ weeks (never mind the soup and sauce weeks for now) was nonetheless relevant to the bigger picture I was painting.

      I also want to be clear that I absolutely heard the vast majority of the panel. Although I was writing lots of notes, I was listening, and I only left the room briefly to retrieve the person with whom I’d come, so he could listen as well. And yes, I wrote some of my questions after the moderator’s introduction and hearing only a part of the first speaker’s story in order to get a ‘flavor’ for where things were headed, but before the rest because I wanted to make sure my questions had a good chance at getting read. It was a bit of a risk, but really: My questions were pretty right on (in my opinion), as it turned out. I think that’s all the truly ‘small stuff.’

      So, at this point I guess I’d also like to point out that I was quite careful not to say much about what people said about their own stories, because – for the most part – each of those stories were not the problem on their own. I believe I said above that many of the speakers were quite good, and that the spoken word piece was powerful. People are entitled to their own stories, but here’s the thing: When ALL six people speaking share stories that say (in one way or another), “This is a lifelong illness,” and at least one of the six say on top of that that the ‘illness’ definitively has genetic components (going unchecked and unchallenged by all the others), I worry. I worry a lot. Because then you appear not just to be speaking for yourselves, but for everyone. You appear to be speaking about a general truth and not individual ones. That is a problem.

      On the cards: To be clear, I didn’t ‘decide’ the cards were to keep people silent. I heard the moderator and others talking about it beforehand. I heard them explain the possible ‘fear,’ but honestly, that comes across as silencing to me. Because it’s not actual fear, and because the cards weren’t presented as a choice. It’s projected fear. And that’s just as silencing as anything else. When you treat people as fragile and/or you project fear upon them, it creates a culture and I do not believe that culture is one that is particularly ‘de-stigmatizing.’ Perhaps you could have offered a note card option in addition to an out loud Q&A. I’ve been to lots of these sorts of events. I’ve seen lots of people speak up. It seems a much healthier way to me.

      On the game: I have nothing good to say about the ‘I love’ game. I’m sorry. I just can’t. And I frankly don’t think it matters one bit if you had some individuals who gave positive feedback about it. Once again, this is less about individuals and more about the message to all. Without that game, the event would have been fairly average (which is still discouraging in its way because I wish ‘average’ included diversity in perspectives), but the game was painful. We didn’t intentionally blow off the luncheon afterward. I was not aware of it until at the event itself, and had to get back to work. (If it had been mentioned in earlier e-mail correspondences I had missed it.) And yes, I probably should have reached out directly to your college to give feedback, and have definitely been thinking about it. But I guess, most importantly, this goes back to the ‘bigger than your college’ part. To hear an entire panel agree that human experience should be demedicalized and then to follow that up with such a medicalized game was notable and important. It’s important because people are hearing that on TV, in the newspapers, from doctors, from friends, from family, from NAMI/DBSA/etc., and perhaps from Active Minds *every* day of their lives. People are being boiled down to labels, over drugged, and harmed on a regular basis. In truth, this isn’t just about different perspectives but about the serious harm being done by the force fitting of one perspective as if it’s the ultimate truth and your event took part in re-enforcing the idea that there is one ultimate truth. Are you aware that people receiving services in the mental health system are dying – on average – 25 years younger than the general community? I feel like it would be overkill to offer more arguments here, but as much as these labels may be useful to some, throwing them around like they’re identities has serious impact. It shouldn’t be ignored or downplayed.

      I feel confused by some of your questions. If I did not know what was going on, how could I offer a critique? Well, it was fairly apparent what was going on. And let’s say – for arguments sake – I had no idea it was connected to Active Minds… The impact is the same.

      I’m feeling torn between offering what would probably be way too much information taking up way too much typing time, and just offering up some questions. I’m going to try the questions: What do you think depression is? When you say ‘bipolar’ what do you mean? How are these challenges “identifiable” exactly? What is the proof that someone ‘has’ one of these labels? What is the proof that these labels exist in the first place? What makes them more than manmade creations for the purpose for identifying research categories and/or billing? Why do we talk about them as if they’re these real things, when there’s no test on the planet to suggest they even definitively exist? Is it possible to let people make their own meaning and what might you need to change about how you talk to make that possible? What’s the harm? What’s the risk? Is there any actual proof that these diagnoses – if they do exist – have a genetic component? Is the person who defines their experience as ‘depression’ different than the person who defines their emotional distress as the result of trauma, and if so, how? Why was it so lost on people that they were 100% contradicting the idea of demedicalizing emotional distress by playing that game? Are you aware of all the studies suggesting that medicalized interpretations of human distress – and especially those that lead to psych drugs – are linked to dramatically reduced rates of healing and moving on with life? Are you aware that even many doctors agree that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is meaningless, other than as an organizational system for billing purposes? So many questions… I could keep going.

      Interestingly, I first saw your comment while sitting at the dinner table at a friend’s house earlier this evening. Around that table were seven other people. Of the seven, one was a social worker, one a journalist/author, two (I believe) psychologists, one a psychiatrist, and two others (like myself) were activists with their own powerful stories to share. Of the seven, four were also Mad in America bloggers. Given our make up, we spent the entire evening (about five hours) talking about the mental health system and related politics. Primarily, we talked about how much harm we are all seeing done by the current system in all its forms: Not just the direct treatments, but the way people are taught to think about and seek help for their own distress. I’m not sure you realize just how many people are leading damaged lives and/or dying as a result. I think you’d understand my points much better if you did. You all were in a ‘teaching’ role of sorts when you held your event, but you largely chose to teach the same message people have already heard. This is happening everywhere, every day, all the time. The point of my blog post was NOT how bad or wrong you all were, but how huge an issue it is that our college campus (and beyond) aren’t offering something different… That our most open, shapeable minds are continuing to be shaped to see themselves and each other through a disease-model lens that we can see is failing us in devastating ways all around.

      I’m sorry that this is not one of my more articulate responses. I’m exhausted and going to go to bed… But a few last things:

      If you’d like me to come talk to your group about this blog post or anything else, I’m happy to do so… Well, ‘happy’ probably isn’t the right word. I’m sure it will be all sorts of awkward for all of us in a way, but hopefully still for the better. So, I’m willing. If not, I hope you’ll share this response with your fellow group members.

      In terms of you comments to Donna below: I haven’t read through them carefully, but I read enough to see your comment that worrying too much about funding sources is paranoid… So, speaking of blog posts, I really, really, really hope you’ll read this one that I wrote just after the one about your college: http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/03/dear-nami-apologies-ive-unfair/#comment-38895 I’d like to hear your thoughts on funding sources after you do.

      Report comment

  12. This is where I will withdraw, for a couple reasons. Typed media is a horrid way to communicate. Posts, emails and messages have no tone or voice ques which can make discussions perplexing.
    Second, and these are my driving beliefs behind my study and goals in life. PTSD, depression, bipolar, and a host of other mental illnesses are real. They are experienced differently in different people, they effect how they move through the world and many of them can be alleviated or controlled. There are pieces that have no lab test and are subject to inturpritation by the sufferer and clinical staff. I can say depression I have suffered is not just being sad. It was not a funk I was, and I was repeatedly told that, and negatively affected how I moved through the world. I do not care what DSM flavor it is really I just know there is something very real and I now have control over it. There are days it still wins but for the most part I get my life.
    PTSD is a real thing. Personally I know a lot of military folks who wrestle with this monster. Some get driven to drink and drugs because they were never given help with things they saw and did. Many function but many do not.
    In saying they are real I mean they are observed behavior patterns that repeat, are seen case to case and some causality is understood. Genetics are almost as mysterious and wounderous as our brains functioning. Genes and gene markers can warn a woman of breast cancer and recently a blood test can show the markers for Alzheimer’s. Schizophrenia has recognizable genes and markers, they do not always express but it is a recognized genetic disorder. Reject a medical model because disorders can not be tangibly tested for does not change the feelings people struggle with. Just because a lab computer can not spit out a piece of paper saying ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ does not lesson the sadness or random fear. As for medication, hell yes it is abused by doctors, hospitals and clinics. Psychiatric medications are not the only ones suffering this issue. Pain killers are way over perscribed, sleeping pills and antibiotics all have been used and abused my medicine for decades. And some of those are for real and serious provable, testable issues.
    What I see, and pardon I am just a student absorbing as much as I can from all kinds of sources, is a fight over semantics when the real issues is care and support. One does not have to agree with a label to seek help and get support. Any good psychologist or psychiatrist knows you can not in a session or two nail down a dignosis, but in order to keep helping the patient who is there for help and support doctors must label them for insurance companies to pay. The attitude is very different when the patient pays themselves, I have noticed this in experience. No label is given because therapy is then only between the doctor and patient. Fighting the medical model and labeling is like fighting drunk driving by targeting car makers. The problems start elsewhere and ground zero is not where the fight should be. Ground zero is where the people are who could care less about insurance, policy and whether a label is fair or right they just want help. In my case and the case of folks I have spoken with they do not care what it is called they just want to know how to bring it under control so they can go about their lives. The vets I hope to help do not care if it is PTSD, shell shock, battle fatigue or being a coward they just want to know how to make the nightmares stop, the sudden fight or flight response to a loud bang and not fly into rages at little things.
    I grew up in science and used it as a tool to explore my world. I know that things are not always what they seem and impressions, observations and conclusions change. It is the dynamic nature of science and exploration that I trust. I do not, and never will trust bureaucracy, politics and arguing words and labels. We will not see eye to eye on this issue which in the great wide world is what happens. My actions are the only ones I can control and know why I take them. I am in Active Minds to make a difference, I act out of love for my fellow students and when I finish my schooling my actions will be of love and compasion for anyone who seeks me out for help in their fight with what ever monsters hide in the dark corners of their lives.
    Namaste

    Report comment

    • GreenLady,

      It always makes me sad when people here challenges to a medical perspective as denial of real suffering. I know personally that human suffering is real. I’ve seen it in myself and in many people around me. I would *never* deny that or trivialize deep pain, distress and extreme states as if they were something someone could simply ‘snap’ out of if they were only strong enough. What you are really saying above (as far as I can tell), for example, is that people who’ve been to war come back suffering. Absolutely! Who on earth would ever deny that? However, acknowledging the pain doesn’t mean acknowledging a diagnostic system.

      When I challenge the absolute truth of medical model perspectives and people here that as if I were challenging the suffering of the individuals to whom those medicalized ideas have been applied, I hear it only as more evidence of the predominance of the medical model itself. In other words: Far too many people think that either we interpret deep human suffering as a disease or we deny the suffering. What I’m saying – and have been all along – is that there are MANY ways to understand human suffering, and what’s far more important than WHAT they believe is HOW those understandings *impact* people’s lives. What we are learning – over and over and over and from MANY corners – is that the medical way of making meaning is harming MANY people and yet continues to be taught as pretty much the only way. There’s something wrong with that.

      Much else of what you said simply isn’t true. There is no real genetic proof of any psychiatric diagnosis. Chemical imbalance theory has been debunked. Not only are psych drugs abused, but study after study is emerging saying that they do harm or lessen ‘recovery’ in many instances even when used ‘properly.’

      Therefore, what we are arguing is FAR from semantics. When you use words that are inextricably linked to a medical model, you perpetuate that model and teach others it’s the only way. When you use words that are inextricably linked to a medical model, and that model has been shown to do harm to many, you become a part of that. When you talk about genetic links and biomarkers as if they are real, you point people toward the medical model, even though models like ‘Open Dialogue’ and so many others have FAR better outcomes. When you talk about these human experiences as disease, you are a part of pointing people toward doctors and the pharmaceuticals they are also taught is the only way and you become a part of that as well. The Pharmaceutical companies count on that.

      It is certainly fine for you to stop responding, but I hope you at least keep reading. If you are truly a student looking for the truth, I urge you to:

      * Read Whitaker’s ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic..’
      * Explore this site. Pay particular attention to people like Joanna Moncrieff (a psychiatrist in the UK), Jay Joseph (the aforementioned author and psychologist), Bruce Levine (another author and psychologist), and Peter Gotzsche (a doctor in Denmark who’s writing can be found here: http://www.madinamerica.com/author/pgotzsche/)
      * If you prefer films, check out Daniel Mackler’s ‘Open Dialogue’ and I can send your Actives Minds chapter a free copy of ‘Beyond the Medical Model,’ if you’d like.

      I hope you will check out at least a few of those things and then see what you think.

      Thanks!

      -Sera

      Report comment

  13. Dear GreenLady,

    Nice Big Pharma/Biopsychiatry Industrial Complex infomercial.

    Your constant claims of supporting so called science against all the evidence I cited above with that being only the tip of the iceberg, and your dubious claims of wanting to help, show that you are more an advocate of ideology and scientism and certainly not science or proven evidence you prefer to ignore.

    Based on your posts, it seems almost certain that Active Minds is a Big Pharma astro turf organization with a forced stigma/drugging agenda in the guise of help considering you glossed right over that issue and defended it.

    I think it is especially unfair of you to prey on younger students with this fraudulent biopsychiatry agenda to make more billions for Big Pharma and its lackies when you have access to the truth and the facts above.

    What could be more damning of your above post than the fact the Dr. Thomas Insel, Head of NIMH, has admitted that there is not one shred of biological or other evidence for any so called disorder in the DSM? Of course, many experts and survivors have known this and exposed it for decades! And you continue to regurgitate the lie that these so called disorders are genetic??? See Dr. Jay Joseph’s great books, The Missing Gene and The Gene Illusion, along with tons of other articles exposing that the search for mental illness and other genes has proven futile since it has been a despicable agenda of the power elite to blame the victims for the abuses, injustice, prejudice, inequality and other evils they perpetrate against the less powerful to line their pockets at others’ expense, the real goal of biopsychiatry.

    Anyway, your claim that you are seeking the truth while still promoting biopsychiatry junk science in the guise of help that has been debunked by many highly qualified, credible experts makes your claims highly questionable.

    Nobody is denying that people suffer from life crises, stress/trauma normal reactions to abnormal events, but rather, that biopsychiatric predation and invalidation of the sufferers by giving them life destroying, invalidating, discrediting stigmas and lethal brain/body damaging drugs while robbing them of all human and civil rights is truly pernicious and lacking in any and all human morality or empathy.

    I can certainly see why you would not wish to engage in this discussion any longer since you do not wish engage with the facts and real science.

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Donna. I appreciate your chiming in here and offering so much good information. I was planning on offering Jay Joseph’s material as well when I got back to a real computer (and not just my phone), too! But I appreciate your beating me to it! 🙂

      -Sera

      Report comment

    • A fascinating link! Thank you, Donna!

      “Holdsclaw ought to touch base with Williams, who in 2004 told a reporter that marijuana was ’10 times more effective’ than Paxil.”

      Indeed, and smoking marijuana is not what drove me over the brink into an insanity acquittal for arson – the combination of Prozac and Trazodone did

      But you’d never know it from the way I was “treated” subsequently by the “experts” of New York State’s Office of Mental Health: I was a loser, and always had been a loser… ever since I starting smoking marijuana regularly in my senior year of college.

      They wanted me to be a loser, and so… they strove to recreate me in their own image of conformity to “normality”: a shambling wreck of a human being… a zombie, nullified by the influence of Risperdal.

      After all… how else could you assess a person who wrote over 100,000 lines of C-language code and became an entrepreneur, and who is not making a lot of money, but is working instead to “produce social change by developing communications software” – wow. THAT is a loser… “you could have had a ‘real job!'”

      >>>>> USERS ARE LOSERS <<<<< …bonze blayk – pothead, author of COMET, and… MEGA-LOSING Network Systems Programmer! at Cornell

      Once you come into contact with Mental Health Carepushers who loathe cannabis, and casually despise those who use it as a remedy for a “dis-ease,” they’ll do what they can to make certain you fulfill their image of you: a living wreck.

      Sincerely,
      – bonzie anne

      PS: They never could figure out exactly what I did for a living: they thought I was a “consultant,” or something. It’s all shrugworthy, when you know you’re looking across your desk at a loser, right?

      … right?

      LOL

      PPS: I happen to think there’s worthwhile knowledge in a lot of psychiatric research, find the DSM-IV “interesting, if flawed,” and don’t believe that all establishment psychiatrists are evil… then again, I’m a non-conformist, right? 😉

      But I do believe that most of BigPharma’s psych drugs are crap, that they subverted both medical science and the FDA in their reckless quest for mega-profits, and that the perps in BigPharma who conspired to force children to take dangerous psychotropic drugs belong behind prison bars. Just sayin’.

      Report comment

  14. National Advisory Committee consists of those like Laurie Flynn, director and promoter of the horrific Teen Screen “mental health screening” that because so vilified and exposed for its stigmatizing and drugging agenda, the program was finally shut down. Recently, more of these toxic programs are being pushed into schools and even done by Big Pharma directly without even having to cover up such an atrocity and conflict of interest!

    http://www.activeminds.org/about/leadership/nac

    Kay Redfield Jamison with Fred Goodwin are the biggest bipolar, toxic drug pushers one could ever have the misfortune to meet. Go0dwin was outed and fired from his radio program on psychiatry when Senator Grassley exposed that he was making huge amounts of money under the table from Big Pharma for the great psychiatric advice he was doling out to his listeners. Jamison is a member of the Active Minds Committee.

    Patrick Kennedy is another psychiatry/drug pusher to cover up his addictions and bad behavior along with the rest of his dysfunctional family. He too serves as a member of this committee.

    Here are the rest of the members:

    http://www.activeminds.org/about/leadership/nac

    According to this web site, one can apply for grants from the national agency to start more Active Minds groups. How very sad for any students that get suckered into the biopsychiatry DSM stigma/drugging brainwashing nightmare in what should be some of the best years of their lives. Laura Delano explains the nasty consequences of the bipolar fad fraud predation on such students on MIA and how she eventually escaped after much harm, loss and suffering.

    Report comment

  15. Here is a typical disease mongering article pushed by the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel promoting Active Minds with the pretense of eliminating stigma when it is well known that studies have shown that the more emotional distress is claimed to be caused by some biological malfunction in the individual’s brain, people tend to think much worse toward such “mentally ill, biologically deficient, probably dangerous and/or unpredictable people and avoid them all the more. The same studies show that if people think people are suffering emotional distress due to typical life setbacks, losses or crises, they are far more inclined to empathize and support the person since they’ve been there too. Robert Whitaker posted an article on MIA about such failed, bogus attempts or pretenses to eliminate stigma as this horrible article promotes while pushing bipolar and other biopsychiatry agendas.

    So, how can advocates of Active Minds pretend such an anti-stigma campaign to supposedly reduce the effects of forced stigmatizing of youth by the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma/therapeutic state with fraudulent, voted in DSM stigmas will help remove the effects of such deliberate stigmatizing used to discredit the victims to make them permanent psychiatric patients? The answer is it won’t remove the stigma, but rather, create more stigma by manipulating uninformed, vulnerable young students to buy into biopsychiatry’s toxic, life destroying message.

    http://www.dailycal.org/2011/06/05/break-the-stigma-around-the-mentally-ill/

    Report comment

  16. Here is a list of “resources” recommended for young students suffering from so called “mental illness:”

    http://activeminds.org/issues-a-resources/mental-health-resources

    Notice it is all the mainstream biopsychiatry/Big Pharma DSM/toxic drugging agenda with all the usual Big Pharma astro turf groups like NAMI listed as resources.

    I believe that this is an evil, diabolical program to give young people a one sided picture of so called mental health based on an increasingly discredited predatory agenda to stigmatize, disable, discredit, disempower and force drug the best and brightest of our youth today into servile, easily controlled zombies as exposed by Dr. Bruce Levine and many other experts in the field.

    Report comment

  17. A typical bogus disease mongering article, Back to School With Bipolar Disorder, proclaiming all the usual BS about managing this invented “disease” with no evidence with the usual toxic drugs and reduced life expectations ends with the following:

    Active Minds organizes events such as National Day Without Stigma and has partnered with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance to create peer support groups on college campuses.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/09/21/health.bipolar.college/

    By googling Active Minds, Big Pharma support, one finds the usual suspects like NAMI and all the other Big Pharma front groups behind Active Minds and promoting it to ensure the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma DSM stigma/drugging campaign is used to brainwash any unsuspecting student facing the usual life challenges when growing up. I am not saying that the students have such an agenda, but rather, they seem to be fair game for these wolves in sheep’s clothing in the guise of mental health.

    Report comment

  18. Like you, Sera, I tend to experience guilt quite easily, and it has caused me often to keep my mouth shut when I am particularly angry with someone. My Yiddisha Mama has a lot to do with this, as she cannot take any negative feedback at all, not in the slightest, without telling me that she will “die on the spot.” (Seriously, we’ve had this conversation). But that has served neither myself nor others, so at the risk of triggering this again, I am going to speak my truth, here, directly to you. Perhaps this time, I can heal this internalized self-oppression, once and for all.

    Sera, I have to say, this blog was a real turn off to me, much for the same reasons that GreenLady says. I don’t want to go point by point, because it seems like trying to dialogue with you when you are in disagreement with something or someone is a terribly futile experience, unless someone is willing to put up with your seemingly lack of kindness and compassion for those with differing viewpoints, or even someone who is at a different stage of their personal evolution.

    When you say, “…they had the wrong people on that stage… or at the very least, nowhere near enough of a mix…” I don’t understand where it is that you have this capacity to judge something like this.

    I know you have had your challenges and troubling experiences in life, but so have most of us that post here. To me, what you offer is simply arrogance and blatant disrespect. I do not enjoying saying these things to others, and I’ve never offered such a critique on MIA. In fact, if you were to check out the majority of my comments, I tend to be very validating and encouraging to others.

    But in this case, I cannot help myself but to offer a reflection such as what I am offering here, as I feel that you are keeping things good and stuck, here, and on a downward spiral—and quite relentlessly.

    I, myself, have moved way beyond the medical model in my own healing, life, and personal evolution, and have healed my heart by forgiving those whom I felt wronged and deceived me, which were plenty of folks and systems, as I tended to be quite naively trusting and not have very self-compassionate boundaries, but I have since grown in my self-esteem, thanks to some wonderful spiritual teachers I’ve had in recent years, after I defected from the mental health industry altogether.

    In turn, that healed my mind from a lot of negative thinking, which is what I consider to be part of ‘mental illness’—chronic negativity. That’s just my perspective, because it feels crazy-making to me. I feel a lot of victim mentality and exaggerated suspicion coming from you, here. Please forgive me for being so blunt, as I am not at all out to hurt or judge anyone, but it seems that you need a wake-up call.

    GreenLady points out:

    “It was simply to start a conversation on our campus, make students aware of options for help on and off campus and let them know, via the panelists, that they are not alone in whatever their struggles are.”

    This seems perfectly reasonable to me, and it is exactly why I made my film, Voices That Heal–to start and engage in a dialogue. And we focus on stigma, as well, because it is something that has affected all of us in the film, profoundly. For me, blatant stigma kept me from working for a good long time, very unjustly, and I even had my day in court about this, successfully. It also made me feel insane to have such wrongful and terribly invalidating projections cast onto me, as I see you doing to this program you attended, and to these students, despite your thinly veiled attempt to offer some sort of validation for their individual presentations.

    I had to heal from the damage that stigma brought onto me, after I had already healed from the damage from years of medication, as well as the damage of family trauma, followed by the damage done by being sexually molested by a stranger at the age of 2—something I have never disclosed before, publically, so this is a first for me.

    In my film, we have extremely diverse viewpoints among the six of us. I’m on one end of that spectrum—somewhat aligned with your perspective and that of others here on MIA–while one of the cast members of my film pretty much validates his experience with traditional medical model.
    The others fall somewhere in between.

    I did not choose this cast, I put out a call to 30 speakers, and whoever was ready to take this step was welcome to speak their truth in my film. It was not my intention to promote one and only one point of view, but a variety of perspectives, which we all discuss and debate in a filmed discussion which I facilitated fairly, while offering my own perspective. My primary intention was to keep the conversation moving forward, and not to get stuck in emotionally overwrought personal disagreements. Not all in my film agreed with me, but still, I did not censor anyone, nor did I direct others to present what I wanted them or others to believe. I allowed everyone to speak their truth, their way, and I edited it together to illustrate individual healing journeys, as well as a collective journey of forward moving dialogue, as opposed to a perspective which I might want to hold to as ‘the right one.’ To me, that would be foolish and non-productive when addressing the complexities of mental health and related issues, via these highly subjective experiences.

    I was not backed by any ‘funders,’ I made the film myself, independently, with no money at all, as I was still on disability at the time in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the country. One of my meditation students is a filmmaker, and despite being a single mother of three and quite busy, she was kind and faithful enough to volunteer her technical skills as director of photography and technical editor. My desire is to pay her someday, but I’ve only been able to offer the film as a public service, so we haven’t made a dime off the film. I made it with heart and faith, something I have failed to see evident in anything you have had to offer on MIA, in general, and most certainly, on this blog.

    To me, it seems that what you have done is to demean these courageous and perfectly well-intended students’ efforts to move conversation forward for their own journey of understanding about these issues, and of themselves. You may be in a different place, but that does not give you the right to impose your viewpoints on others in what appears to me to be a somewhat emotionally violent way. This is no different than what psychiatrists do, and what the mental health system, in general, does, that we all complain about here. I just see you paying forward the oppression. Given all you write about, and your obvious brilliance with words and phrases, it baffles me that you cannot see this for yourself.

    GreenLady asks: “How can you offer anything to the discussion? Who is this blog post serving? What purpose did it serve to blast an attempt to open a dialogue? Did it serve a purpose to denigrate the panel for speaking about their struggles in hopes of touching one other and giving a little hope?”

    I have the very same questions in mind that GreenLady poses. What purpose did it serve for you to demean an entire event, and then to come onto MIA and blast it for all to see, because you may have some personal or political agenda?

    After reading this last week, I did track down where this all took place, and I reached out to this group to offer them support and encouragement. They were quite grateful and moved, because they were so shaken and discouraged by what you did, so I’m glad I did this.

    As a truth-speaker, myself, and one who has gotten over whatever it was that was ailing me (I will refrain from calling it anything specific here, as I do not want to get into a semantic squabble with you or anyone about how I interpret my own life experience, as this is, in and of itself, terribly demeaning), I simply could not stand by and witness you offer such discouragement to these students who are trying heal themselves, and to make a different in the world—from their hearts, not from their victim rage.

    I do sincerely hope you can find your heart again. Obviously, you have been terribly wounded, and you have yet to find your healing. I don’t want to add to your troubled spirit, but I really felt it necessary to express this to you, after seeing how, first, you demeaned these students for no reason that I can see as justifiable, and now, when GreenLady steps in courageously to express her very legitimate concerns about this, you railroad her like a steam engine. To me, that’s just bullying, plain and simply.

    I sincerely wish you the very best. You have a lot to offer the world, but first, I wish you would heal that angry heart of yours.

    Report comment

    • Alex, You may accuse me of arrogance , of not having ‘found [my] healing,’ etc, but that sort of condescension is no different than that of which you accuse me of, albeit framed in what your purport is a cloud of benevolence. Its interesting that you say I’ve ‘railroaded’ GreenLady. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do when someone comes here and offers comments other than to respond, which is what I’ve done.

      You (and GreenLady) seem to misunderstand what I am questioning in their event. You can call it a ‘thinly veiled attempt’ to validate their stories, but I’ve actually said several times that the issue was not their individual stories. The issue above is also not how GreenLady chooses to interpret her OWN experiences, and that is not what I was challenging. The issue is that GreenLady – in her comments – was offering information as if it were truth for ALL, and the people on stage offered no diversity in terms of the ‘mental illness’ perspective. You got lucky that you got a range to your open call, but if you hadn’t, then I personally would have felt that it would have been your responsibility to find it and include it.

      And THAT is my point. People should be talking about their OWN stories, and not projecting ‘truths’ onto the world… Do you not think there’s a difference between one’s personal narrative and continuing to spread potentially harmful misinformation? I don’t think the latter can be excused, even if it’s embedded in a story. So, primarily the only thing I had a problem with in that event as far as individual stories go was that one person spoke to ‘genetics’ as a truth not just applying to her but as if she was sharing a truth for everyone to know, and then, as I’ve said a bunch here, it was the lack of diversity… not the parts, but the message that the parts made up when they came together into a whole. THAT sends a message and it’s important one… It’s the same old, ‘there’s only one way to understand this,’ message.

      Most importantly, the reason this became a blog and not just a mental note is because of the moderator. Perhaps I haven’t been clear enough about this, but the moderator was NOT a student. The moderator was a faculty member of some sort. It was she who offered this game, and I do not think she can be credited with the courage of a student coming out with her story. It was her choice that I found most damaging, and that pushed this into something bigger for me.

      In any case, you are absolutely welcome to challenge me on all this. Had you labeled your OWN experience as ‘mental illness’ or anything else, I never would have argued with you, btw. At times, I argue with people who offer that truth as a world truth, but I’m absolutely opposed to arguing with people about their own stories. I see that you don’t like most of my blog posts, and you’re welcome to challenge any and all of them.

      Posting or not posting about particular events is always a judgement call. A part of me *is* sorry that these students are feeling bad about my post. I was kind of hoping that the actual event and people who were a part of it, would stay separate from this because as I’ve mentioned above the event inspired this post, but really, it’s about the fact that these sorts of one-sided events are happening everywhere all the time… Such as the CT Forum I closed with in the same. And that I absolutely, 100% DO believe that we have a responsibility to have messages of CHOICE and MULTIPLE PATHS be available starting in our schools. I’m not sure your point on how you constructed your film, and the by chance diversity that was represented therein. As I mentioned above, you were lucky to end up with that diversity, but do you not think there’s a responsibility to see that diversity represented in these messages that go out to our youngest minds? You can say that we have to have patience with and openness to how people’s stories form, and I absolutely agree with you, though you don’t seem to believe that’s true. However, how are those stories to have ANY chance at all at forming in a way that’s separate from the medical model if that’s not even ever offered as an option? It’s not that it’s critical that people DO form an alternative perspective for themselves. It’s that they have the INFO to be able to do so if it works for them. That we’re now getting stuck in the particulars of that event is unfortunate, and wasn’t really my intent. Maybe it was unrealistic of me to hope that it wouldn’t go there, but it felt like the bigger message was important. Maybe I should have referenced the college event in a different manner or not at all. It’s certainly something I’m thinking about. However, in the end, I still keep coming back to the point that this ‘game’ really affected me, and really sent a strong message to everyone in the room and I’m entitled to that opinion, too. And while I regret that anyone feels hurt by that and people seem to be attaching to messages that are not the ones I actually was offering, I do at least hope the message of a need for a diversity in perspectives is one that gets planted as a seed as a result.

      In any case, I will say that your quote, not of my actual blog but of one of my comments (the ‘wrong people on the stage’ one) is one that I’ll agree was unfair. Really – and I do mean this – each one of those people’s stories is their stories and I don’t have any intent or desire to change that. And each one of those people’s stories is fair and deserves to be heard on its own. Each deserves to be on the stage just as much as anyone else. That’s separate from my thinking that there’s a responsibility to then mix those stories with ones that offer another way. I’ll go up and remove that comment if I’m able.

      Thanks,

      -Sera

      Report comment

        • Alex,

          One brief point of clarification: There were seven people on stage: The moderator and six panelists. Of the seven, only two were under 30 and and 4 of them were 40 and up. Of the two clearly under 30, one was the young woman who offered the spoken word piece that I’ve said a couple of times that I really appreciated. The other I haven’t mentioned, but I actually appreciated quite a bit too because he was a) The only male-identified person on the stage and b) Although he still came from a disease-model perspective, he offered a bit of a different way of addressing his distress which was great.

          I just want to be clear that if you or anyone else is envisioning a group of 18-year-olds tentatively finding their way on stage… Well, that’s just not was this was.

          Thanks,

          -Sera

          Report comment

          • I still say you could be more sensitive and thoughtful while offering your truth. And this time I’ll say…especially when people–younger or older–are being courageous and generous enough to make themselves so incredibly vulnerable for the purpose of increasing their own understanding of these issues, as well as sharing with others.

            Seems to me that this panel–including the moderator–made enough of an impact on you that it stirred you in emotionally significant ways, so I applaud them hardily. And of course, you stirred them, too, so I’m sure that, in the long run, this all has value for them. As we all know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

            I learned when I spoke publically that this kind of stuff would occur from time to time, and it grew me well. I just wish your post had been a bit more direct and to the point, rather than being so laced with what seems like unnecessary sarcasm to me. I think that’s what left such a bad taste in our mouths–at least, that was an issue for me. These are such sensitive and challenging issues, that clarity can be better reached with focused intent and unambiguous communication.

            Going off-topic a bit from your post (although there is definitely some overlap, here, given the title of your blog post), I’d be so curious to know what detailed critique you’d give of my film, given its diversity that you appreciate. I’d welcome it either publically or privately, either way. I’ve gotten good validation from a few MIA regulars, while others have not been able to finish watching it, due to the fact that 1) it centers around stigma (which I, personally, am no longer part of any organized anti-stigma campaign, for reasons which I’ve often posted about–I caught on to what they were doing, eventually, and how misleading and dishonest it was; still, it was relevant to me, as I state above), and 2) I don’t come right out and lambaste the medical model full on–although I have done that in my posts, here, on MIA, and I can always access this.

            Although for the film and for the purpose of allowing the process of discussion to be reasonable and productive, I very blatantly bring it into serious question among others who still operated from there–which is what created good discussion, with some tension, in the film. I stated my position in our discussions, and I went with whatever responses I got, and moved it forward from there. I feel this is sound teaching, to guide the conversation, rather than to dominate it.

            It’s up to you, of course, if you want to take on this challenge.

            http://www.cultureunplugged.com/storyteller/Alex_Goldenberg

            I will say this about my process of making the film–doing this was vital to my healing and moving forward, and even though I have not profited financially from it (in fact, still in the red), I can way with all certainty that the universe granted me a one-way ticket out of the system and all my chaos, once and for all, and into grounding and clarity, not to mention family healing, thanks to my faith in what I was doing with this film, and sticking to guns, regardless of the resistance that came flying at me, at times. I was in the middle, here–to radical for the professional ‘advocates,’ and not radial and angry enough for the radical advocates.

            Ironically, the general public, as well as many mental health system clients, have loved it quite a bit and have called it ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘timeless.’ So, at least, I know I have an appreciative audience.

            All in all, I’m satisfied, but, given your experience with all of these issues, including making films on these topics, I’d be curious to know your truth about it.

            Report comment

  19. Fair enough. I tend naturally toward sarcasm. I know it’s not always received well.

    I haven’t watched your full film, and what I have watched of it was too long ago to really comment at the moment. I’ll watch it again soon… though likely not today. Remind me if you don’t hear from me soon on it.

    Thanks,

    -Sera

    Report comment

  20. Alex

    Have you forgotten that we are engaged in major life and death human rights struggle where people die and are damaged on a daily basis by a very oppressive system? What are you thinking?

    To demean and denigrate a comrade engaged in the frontline of our struggle with such condescending arrogance with your psycho babble attempt at psychoanalyzing her underlying emotional and political motives, is clearly not helpful to our movement.

    It is one thing to raise questions about strategy and tactics regarding who are our friends and enemies, and what are correct methods of struggle, but you took this to a whole different level. This was not constructive feedback or criticism but rather misguided sniping that completely misreads the nature of our struggle. If this type of feedback was actually accepted as having valuable content, it would only serve to demoralize activists and set back our movement.

    You said: “What purpose did it serve for you to demean an entire event, and then to come onto MIA and blast it for all to see, because you may have some personal or political agenda?”

    If the event (despite the well meaning intentions of the organizers) was serving to promote the agenda of Biological Psychiatry then it absolutely makes perfect sense that it should be “blasted” and exposed on MIA.

    AND SINCE WHEN IS IT WRONG TO HAVE A POLITICAL AGENDA? Did Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas, John Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe (to name a few in the Black Liberation movement) have a political agenda? Every important historical movement and its leaders had a political agenda. If we don’t have a political agenda then we will NEVER end psychiatric oppression.

    You said: “I made it with heart and faith, something I have failed to see evident in ANYTHING (emphasis added) you have had to offer on MIA, in general, and most certainly, on this blog.”

    WOW! Is this constructive criticism at its very best, or perhaps an attempt to beat some one down and perhaps demoralize those of us who would engage in the very difficult day to day battles on the frontlines of our struggle?

    Alex, Sera is one of our best bloggers. I have learned from some of your comments in the past but I truly hope you are capable of rethinking the content of your above statement.

    You said: “I sincerely wish you the very best. You have a lot to offer the world, but first, I wish you would heal that angry heart of yours.”

    Alex, are you going to charge Sera for that piece of “therapeutic” advice?

    WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ANGER? We need more anger not less. Anger is an inevitable emotion and feeling that arises out of all oppression. It exists in the human species for evolutionary reasons. There is absolutely nothing wrong with anger; it is what we DO with our anger and how we CHANNEL it in constructive ways that can make the critical differences in how we can change the world.

    I believe Sera is channeling her anger in very incisive and decisive ways. You GO COMRADE!!! Keep writing and speaking out.

    Richard

    You may be in a different place, but that does not give you the right to impose your viewpoints on others in what appears to me to be a somewhat emotionally violent way. This is no different than what psychiatrists do,

    Report comment

    • Richard,

      Thank you for this great comment. You express what I wanted to say in a great, compassionate way thanks to your wonderful counseling skills and long term experience in gently confronting people who may need to give their writings/views second thoughts when they are harmful or hurtful to others.

      You’ve done this with me in the past when I came off like a bull in a china shop (still do because of my passion and anger about the huge harm done by biopsychiatry) when confronting others who are mainly on our side. Thanks to your skills and patience, you helped me to see things in a better, more compassionate way once you helped me to calm down and see things from others’ perspectives when they may have good intentions and are doing their best for the cause despite all the land mines they must try to avoid.

      Report comment

      • Donna

        Thanks so much for those kind words; you made my day with those comments!

        I so admire your tenacity in many of these struggles. Just because I don’t always respond to your posts that does mean I am not reading them and learning from your tireless work. You have an amazing collection of source material that is so valuable to our movement; thanks for sharing them with us.

        Keep writing and struggling, Comradely Richard

        Report comment

        • Hi Richard,

          Thanks for your response. My comment came from the heart as I have fond memories of our back and forth “arguments” and I admitted that you had to be a good counselor to get me to change my mind when I was pretty ticked off about certain statements by one blogger here that smacked of the worst of biopsychiatry ads about the huge numbers of the “mentally ill” needing more “treatment” quoted from a source like NIMH among other things. And we know what that means! Notice, I use the term “biopsychiatry” as you’ve recommended so we know that we are communicating about the same thing!

          Anyway, you agreed that some of the topics of the blogger I criticized then were over the top, but you also convinced me she was on our side and had good intentions because you were familiar with her work while I was not.

          Therefore, in this case, I decided to keep my cool and refrain from responding when upset, but you said what I wanted to say but in a much more tactful, compassionate way while “telling it like it is” as I think was necessary here given the unwarranted attack on Sera.

          Nice to hear from you Richard. And I still always enjoy your comments here too. But, after a while one can sound like a broken record repeating the same thing, so I try to comment only when I have something new or different to say unless somebody promotes the bipolar fraud fad, which usually gets a rise out of me!

          Keep up the good work!

          Donna

          Report comment

    • I appreciate your feelings, Richard. Indeed, I’m fully aware of what we’re engaged in. I’ve lived my own story, and have succeeded in resolving my own struggles, as well as educating others. Nothing at all wrong with anger, but I feel there are self-responsible ways to express ourselves that are not demeaning to others. Otherwise, we simply run the risk of causing more damage to the human mind and spirit–both, individually and collectively.

      Report comment

      • Alex

        As I said early, I have learned from your story and sided with many of your comments at MIA, but I still think you were way off the mark and out of line in your comments to Sera. I hope you will take some time again to review that one posting and consider more self criticism.

        Richard

        Report comment

        • I’ll consider it, to see if anything new occurs to me, but so far, I feel what I said reflects how I honestly feel. I thought about it quite a bit before posting it, and edited it many times over.

          I don’t post stuff like this off-the-cuff. I sit with it for a while and see how it feels to me, make sure I’m clear with myself. These are not easy issues for any of us, and we all have our diverse perspectives.

          Plus, Sera and I came into agreement about things, as a result of our dialogue. You and I (and, I imagine, others) may simply not be in agreement in this case. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve stood alone in my opinion.

          Report comment

          • Hmmm. Not to stir things up again exactly, but I’m curious what agreement we came to? I did agree with you on the one comment you quoted me on, but I’m not sure we came to agreement on too much else. 🙂 On the whole, I do tend to agree with Richard, not that I’m exactly objective on the matter. 😉

            Regardless, though, I actually did end up having time to watch your film, which I’d probably be done with by now if I hadn’t accidentally exited out of it!

            More on that soon!

            -Sera

            Report comment

          • Okay……. So, I just watched your film, though – as usual – with a two-year-old and an eleven-year-old wandering through and vying for my attention… Well, frankly, also a 35-year-old husband wandering through and vying for my attention, as well. So, I can’t claim to have gotten the FULL effect, but here’s what I think:

            There’s a lot of good stuff in it. I appreciate the recognition of trauma throughout (though it often sounds like trauma and ‘mental illness’ are separate things, and I wonder if that could have been explored a bit more) There are some great conversations at some points between the group about taking power back, rather than just being told, etc. I could imagine that those pieces could start great conversations.

            Your bit about being accused of being ‘macho’ when talking about going off meds is also interesting and could be a great convo starter in a mixed room, I’d imagine.

            Similar, one man’s comments about choosing not to know his diagnosis…

            I have issues with it, too. It seems you’ve been reading my various blogs and as much as you haven’t really cared for them, it seems that you would already be aware that I’m really not down with the ‘stigma’ concept. I find that anti-stigma campaigns always focus most on creating space for people to ACCEPT a medicalized perspective without shame… Whereas, of course, I tend to think that the medicalization of human experience is what causes shame (among other devastating effects) for so many… So, I reject that framework… Though I don’t think it invalidates some of the good elements in the film.

            What I find most troubling about the film is that even those people who – in one segment – say they don’t believe in an ‘illness’ perspective exactly… go on to refer to their ‘illness’ about a dozen other times. It’s troubling because I think the good parts ultimately get buried under some of that… As I’m sure you know, when people are needing to unlearn, they automatically look for and gravitate toward those things that are familiar and that re-enforce what they believe and somehow easily let go or don’t fully hear the things that are more challenging… I would very much worry about how the most powerful pieces that challenge the status quo view get lost in all that ‘mental illness’ talk. Again, it’s not that I think that no one should be allowed to say those words, but if you’re trying to create a film that is diverse and that doesn’t ultimately serve to re-enforce the biomedical model, I’m not sure the purpose of all that language. I think ‘mental illness’ is said pretty much every sentence in one of the opening sequences and it’s still being said repeatedly at the end… So, I do find that troubling.

            I could imagine pulling out some of the pieces and using them to start conversations… I’d be reluctant to use the whole as is… It’s also quite long and as I absolutely can’t stand dogs and think the ‘companion animal’ scene has run completely amok, I’d take that part out, too 😉 But I’m mostly kidding on that dog bit (well, I’m serious about the ‘companion animal run amok’ part), because I know I stand largely alone on that point.

            Not sure what else you might be looking for in terms of feedback?

            Report comment

          • Thanks, Sera, I so very much appreciate that you watched the film and for your feedback. Back to that in a moment.

            Regarding my response to Richard, the main thing I appreciated as a result of our dialogue is that you agreed that 1) the ‘wrong ones on that stage’ comment was unfair, and that you’d prefer to have that removed—that is what most stood out to me, and what made me the most angry, and 2) that the sarcasm might distract from the clarity and directness of your argument, and that, in reality, it’s not necessary. As I said in my initial post, I appreciate your cleverness, but in this case, I felt it was poor exampling, if we are talking about educating others. That’s just me, but you copped to it, for which I was grateful, so these are the main things to which I was referring.

            On top of that, I don’t disagree with your assessments of these programs, I’ve experienced the same thing in my own experience, and I got screwed in a million ways until I caught on to the dishonesty and corruption of groups like NAMI, et al. I learned this all from the inside.

            One thing that made me eventually an outsider with professional advocacy and voc rehab is that they could NOT indoctrinate me, and they really let me have it when they discovered they could not control me. But I didn’t know what I was getting into, and honestly, I was just looking for work! These programs looked good at first, but then I discovered the reality of it, and I paid dearly for standing up to them. But I did stand up to them, I never cowered.

            There was no MIA at that time, nor was I aware about any of this corruption when I turned to these agencies for support—it seemed like a reasonable option at the time, so I learned it from the inside, and the knocks were hard, but they were good lessons. As I’ve said, I took my former employers (of the system) to EEOC mediation, and I won. That wasn’t easy, and as a result of the backlash (no, it’s not legal, but it still happens), I had to eventually move from the city. Fortunately, it was a great move, and as always, my hardships became my guidance, which turned out incredibly favorably for me, but this took a long time for me to get over, on an emotional level. I was alone in this, and I succeeded. I fought all my battles on my own, my integrity remained intact, and it all paid off. But it was a rough few years. And this was AFTER I had healed from med poisoning and other PTS stuff. (Please notice I do not say ptsD, as I do not believe in ‘disorders,’ but I do believe in post-traumatic stress. And I don’t know anyone who hasn’t experience that in life, on some level.

            In any event, I agree with your assessment about these programs, but still, for me the thing that I became most aware of was how the speakers and members of Active Minds felt about what you did and wrote, and my heart simply went out to them. I’ve been in their shoes, and it’s quite discouraging when one is doing their best to create understanding of their own personal chaos (for lack of a better term—at least for me, that’s how it felt at the time), and there is a disruption for political purposes. It reminded me of Act Up, which I never liked.
            Activism is one place where I feel a shift in the paradigm would be quite useful and beneficial, but that is for another discussion.

            Otherwise, we’re just doing the same thing that the mental health world does. It’s like protesting against war by bombing the factories that make bombs. People get killed that way, and it’s what protesters are protesting. Does this make sense? You may not agree with this analogy (and no, you didn’t kill anyone, not even close), which is fine, but it’s from where I’m coming on these issues.

            I do know, however, that the panel felt overly challenged, at a time they really needed support. To me, their individual personal experience while speaking their truths far surpasses any political agenda. Some people will wake up, all in good time, but that is there decision to make and their path to take, at least, that’s what I believe.

            So that’s why I eventually expressed to you what I did, but before I did, I contacted them to see what was going on. Perhaps it wasn’t my place, but at the same time, I’m just as concerned about this whole ‘mental health’ situation as everyone else here, on every level, as my life became a mess despite my best efforts to heal and move forward. I’m certainly still angry about what is going on in that world, as it is draining to all concerned, and so damaging and deadly to way too many, but I had to drop my personal resentment so that I could get my life back together, which I have done well, thank God. We all do our best, and learn as we go.

            My focus, however, is more on the healing. I did front line activism in San Francisco for a good long while, and now, I’d prefer to do this another way. That’s my path at this time, and I’m comfortable with it. I do admire your fortitude.

            Ok, re the film—first, thanks for the positive feedback on certain parts of it. I get where the trouble spots are for you.

            The ‘mental illness’ language thing is tricky, and as I’ve said, we were all speaking in present time, from our hearts, from our own interpretations of our realities. It’s all in real time, with no scripts. The language part is challenging for us all, because we all have different reference points for our experience. Indeed, there are a lot of contradictions, but isn’t that reality? This isn’t about ‘telling it like it is,’ or trying to convince anyone of anything, necessarily. Although I was definitely focused on challenging the status quo, big time, but not all of them were, and I had to respect that.

            More than anything, it’s about telling our stories, warts and all in how we express ourselves. I didn’t want something neat and tidy and polished. I wanted something as close to reality as I could get, and I feel pretty good about how it turned out in this regard. Still, it’s in 3 specific acts, so it has a structure, and I believe it takes the audience on a journey. It’s a heart speak film, not an academic exercise. We have enough of those.

            Most of all, I wanted to create something that would lend itself to enlivened discussions, so if I were to be asked something like, “But here you say this, and there you say that. Which is it?” I’d totally welcome that. That is how interesting discussions happen, and how we achieve further clarity, as a collective. We ascend from paradox, that’s a really enlightening place, imo. As long as people ask question, rather than simply ‘shooting’ first, then we’re onto something. So thank you for noticing this.

            Yes, I know the stigma thing is not so popular around here, and I respect that and I understand why this is. Still, as I’ve said, not only is this central to our experiences, especially to mine, but I felt it was sound. Plus–and this, more than anything, is the reason that the film is built around it–that was the theme of our speaker bureau. I had no say in this, it’s the program, and I had such a good opportunity to film these presentations quite easily, that I went with it. It’s what we talked about around town, and for me, it is relevant. I feel that I actually took this back from how it is co-opted by NAMI, et al, and we discuss it with relevance to oppression and discrimination.

            Still, I was hoping that our stories and discussion would touch people, regardless of the focus on stigma, and how we discuss it prompts us all to reflect on our tendencies to judge others, based on superficial awareness. I think we all have the tendency to do this, one way or another, as it is how we’ve been programmed to think, in many ways, by the media, etc. To me, one aspect of healing is to own this, and to see past the illusions that we, ourselves, create, when we judge others, for ANY reason.

            In the end, when I was editing the film, I felt that this issue did, indeed, bridge mental distress and social ills, so that was kind of an ‘aha!’ for me. I thought it was interesting, and as always, it’s open to discussion, that’s what I’m after. This is new stuff.

            Now, about the dogs. You know, not to shirk responsibility, but that was really the idea of my cast. I was ok without it, but they really wanted to include this. The point was not to make a ‘perfect’ film, but to help us heal. I gave the cast a lot of say in the final edit. I felt that was important. Personally, I would not have included this, but for the three of them that had the dogs, it was important, so I allowed it. Why not? I’m not out to win an Oscar, but I did want them to feel comfortable, and to feel respected in their contributions. That’s what was most important to me. I’m not trying to sound sanctimonious, here, but it’s totally the truth.

            I’m a healer, and I did this for the purpose of healing. The goal was to have fun making it, and for everyone to get in what was important to them. I tried to construct it best I could, from our collective wishes.

            So that’s the story!

            Again, Sera, I’m really grateful that you took the time and energy to watch it and comment on it so thoughtfully and honestly, amid your busy life. This has all been really good. I’m very appreciative for our dialogue.

            Report comment

  21. Hi Sera,

    I believe you did a great service by sharing this post with us and making us aware of this latest biopsychiatry/Big Pharma predation on students in college via Active Minds, which is obviously the equivalent to NAMI and similar predatory groups with this one’s focus on our youth, making it all the more deadly and dangerous. I was aware that colleges have “mental health” services based on the horrific DSM stigma/drugging paradigm, but you made me more aware of the fact that such students are a great, naïve, vulnerable, lucrative group for the usual predation of biopsychiatry/Big Pharma. It seems that survivors and speakers like Bob Whitaker would be a great antidote to these wolves in sheeps clothing for not just an alternative view, but THE TRUTH!!

    Based on my research above, Active Minds is knee deep or even ankle deep in NAMI type approaches and main stream biopsychiatry, so I don’t agree this is just some innocent group looking to “help” people share, tell their stories and get unbiased “help,”but the usual psychopathic predation by the mental death profession on the naïve and uninformed. This group is obviously spreading like the plague to many campuses and based on my tons of research and experience for many years, the goal is to brainwash young people to accept the life destroying DSM paradigm and psychiatric drugs or what ever the brain/body damage du jour is touted by main stream psychiatry in bed with Big Pharma/Business. Laura Delano’s story is a great warning of how young people can get side tracked and nearly destroyed by this plague on humanity and especially the best and brightest of our youth as Dr. Bruce Levine points out in his books and blogs.

    It was obvious that Green Lady, age 40, was pushing the false Big Pharm spin and for all we know she and some other so called Active Mind members could be getting paid by Big Pharma or have other agendas we don’t know about as does NAMI, the Mother’s Act group and other astro turf “help” organizations.

    Frankly, some comments above made me want to gag due to their holier than thou arrogance of a supposed enlightened, spiritual being and I am glad you confronted this tendency that has appeared on many other blogs here since the vicious attack on you made any claims of spiritual wisdom dubious at best.

    I do not think you were in the least bit cruel, arrogant, mean spirited or guilty of any other nasty accusation. And obviously, like the rest of us, you too can be made to feel guilt, but it is very unfair in this case.

    Rather, I believe that what you and the rest of us are doing is like when a mother sees her child about to run in front of a car, she becomes the equivalent of long distance runner or Olympic athlete (I’ve been there) and removes her child from harm’s way without worrying about the niceties or if the child agrees with her superior wisdom/facts/truth or not. I feel that anyone who has learned about the now debunked, discredited biopsychiatry/Big Pharma life destroying stigma/forced drugging/human rights violating agenda owes it to others to try to warn them as they would about any other danger or threat. This would certainly apply to young, naïve, vulnerable people since their very lives are at stake.

    Finally, as I said above, I believe you are a very dedicated, compassionate, generous person with all that you do to try to share this message with those who need it and reach out with help that actually helps. I will admit you don’t suffer fools gladly, but as the saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. The same can be said about those claiming to be enlightened spiritual beings above the rest of us.

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Donna.

      I appreciate your support and the research you’ve done on Active Minds. I suspect no one at this particular college is being paid by Big Pharma, but it does at least look like the organization is a part of what is pushing the biomedical approach on young minds and thus is a part of the problem. I haven’t had time to look at all that you turned up on Active Minds, but you probably saw my blog post on NAMI, DBSA and MHA and so I’m definitely interested in it.

      The problem – as we all know – is that the vast majority of people who end up involved with these orgs really are in distress, really are wanting to get help and/or support others, and really don’t mean harm or have any intention of getting involved with spreading harmful misinformation… Unfortunately, I think they also underestimate their impact on others by getting involved and taking part in spreading that misinformation, but it’s hard to hold them responsible for that since no one can know what they don’t know…

      That said, I don’t think that misinformation can be allowed to go unchallenged, and challenging isn’t always done perfectly and doesn’t always leave everyone feeling great… So, here we are. One way or another, the sort of information available on this website and an increasing number of other sources somehow needs to be reaching young people and academics in general so that they can begin to take on the role of change agent as they enter adulthood rather than just becoming more adults we need to reach….

      Anyway, thanks again for your support 🙂

      -Sera

      Report comment

  22. Ironically, here is my quote for the day in my email:

    “Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.” Redd Foxx

    The”nuts” or so called “mentally ill” will/would only feel stupid dying of nothing if they are informed of the truth of the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma DSM stigma/forced drugging predatory deadly agenda. And hopefully, if they are so informed, they won’t suffer the same fate of the health “nuts” feeling stupid (and angry) some day, lying in hospitals DYING OF NOTHING (DSM bogus stigmas). Sadly, they could die from the supposed remedy of toxic drugs for this “nothing” junk science if not warned to avoid/escape this death trap!

    Report comment

  23. Thanks Sera for your encouragement. Yes, I did read your blog on biopsychiatry astro turf groups and told you I thought it was great, especially the title. That’s why I felt all the better informed to be very suspicious about Active Minds since it smacked of the typical NAMI type antics to prey on uninformed people who may be vulnerable, in crisis, desperate and perfect victims for the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma agenda. I also find it suspicious that mostly older people conducted/ attended this meeting.

    I agree that we can’t know everyone’s exact motives and status in the biopsychiaty/Big Pharma cartel, but there are plenty of examples of celebrities and many others posing as “mental health” advocates only to find they are paid to push this spin or derive other benefits even if only to justify their innocence by destroying family members, coworkers and others with bogus DSM stigmas and lies when they are actually malignant narcissists themselves causing much harm to those around them of which they are unaware and blind. As you know, the same holds true for astro turf groups like NAMI operating as cults with mostly those at the top knowing the real Big Pharma agenda and making much profit from it while many at the bottom are brainwashed to believe the junk science lies they push that result in the best profit making group for this industry as acknowledged by many drug companies outed by law suits. As we all know, NAMI posing as concerned family members and a patient advocacy group when many are anything but that, has a great deal of influence in pushing rights destroying legislation for their supposed loved ones. So, they are mostly a destructive force regardless of their so called motives. I think that anyone that pushes their own selfish agenda for one and all families who may not agree with it is evil and character disordered.

    Anyway, I said it was POSSIBLE that Green Lady and others at this meeting could be paid astro turf members which is so common today or she could have her own personal agenda.

    Thus, since we can’t really tell one’s motives for sure, I think it’s the results that count. And when one real coincidentally parrots the NAMI and other astro turf group spin that DSM stigmas are real brain diseases with related genes, chemical imbalances requiring toxic drugs, ECT and other brain damaging tortures or other fraud despite being confronted with the evidence, I think it is safe to say these people are doing much harm regardless of their motives/beliefs and should be exposed as such. Bob Whitaker goes around the country to give talks about his work to the unenlightened to expose them to the facts and truth. So, it’s not a crime to be unaware of this information, but it is a crime in my opinion to force one’s own unproven BELIEFS and self serving agendas on others who may have opposite beliefs and agendas.

    Of course, I am entitled to think to myself what I think of the motives of such people until biopsychiatry finds a way to police my thoughts and stigmatize and poison me accordingly, which I think has already been happening given CIA and other government psychological warfare experiments!

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Donna. Sorry I forgot your comment over on the other blog in the moment that I was replying here, but of course you did read and comment! 🙂 Anyway, totally agree with you about celebrities at all.. I so hope someday to cross paths with Glenn Close, for example.. I’m *SO* disgusted by her ridiculous ‘anti-stigma’ campaign… (Though I so enjoy turning her ‘Sister’ shirt into other words like ‘Dope’ and ‘Idiot.’) Anyway, impact isn’t everything, but it’s ALMOST everything so we’re on the same page there! 🙂

      Thanks again,

      -Sera

      Report comment

  24. Sera,

    After what you’ve gone through for posting this blog, I hope you take a well deserved rest.

    In spite of some controversy, I think your posting this and the related article on drug company front groups like NAMI and others is very valuable especially for those who may not be aware that these groups can be very dangerous traps for themselves and their loved ones. So, I applaud you for writing about issues that can be controversial for some, but all too necessary for everyone, especially potential young victims. As I said, your articles made me more aware of other possible dangerous groups out there with which I may not be familiar that seems to include Active Mind since they are pushing the mainstream biopsychiatry agenda in the guise of helping students. Sound familiar? This is a typical confidence game by every con artist around!

    If I recall, you said you don’t like shoes. So, please lie back and relax shoeless with your favorite beverage and/or snacks after making such a great contribution to a very worth cause: enlightening the unenlightened.

    By the way, when I said you don’t suffer fools gladly, I meant that as a compliment since I like your take no prisoners approach when it comes to would be DSM stigmatizers and brain damaging drug promoters that you deliver with a great dry sense of humor!

    Thanks for all of your encouraging responses. And have a great night since you have more than earned it!

    Donna

    Report comment

LEAVE A REPLY