Malaika Puffer – Long Bio


Malaika Puffer had been a mental patient for nine years when, at twenty-three, she stumbled upon Mad Pride while doing research about her diagnoses. This led her to learn about the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement, which she initially approached with caution. It was frightening to think that her struggles might not be due to chemical imbalances in her brain because if that were not the case she might be forced to believe that “all of her problems are characterological in nature,” as she was once told by a psychiatrist when she was 15. She was intrigued, however, because something about her treatment had never quite made sense, though she was never able to put her finger on what that was. Several months later, in the midst of a crisis, Malaika decided she was no longer willing to continue through life doing symptom management. Instead, she committed herself to healing and to the radical belief that not only was this possible, but it was something she could accomplish by listening to herself and trusting her intuition, regardless of what others said. The success she experienced in this different approach, combined with continuing to read books like Mad In America, led her to conclude that she neither had a broken brain nor a broken character. Rather, all of the thoughts, feelings and actions that had been the basis of being labeled as mentally ill were actually very understandable and sane reactions to internal and external stressors.  Malaika quickly became active in the c/s/x movement and was fortunate to receive a scholarship to become a Certified Peer Specialist in Ohio. Malaika now lives and works in New England where she coordinates peer support services in a traditional setting, and outside of work she is involved in grassroots community organizing and advocacy.  Malaika embraces agnostic and harm-reduction approaches to life and aspires not to be an ideologue.