What’s Wrong With You?
What Has Happened to You? Something.


Licensed Mental Heath professionals are trained and are required to find out what is wrong with people.

Unfortunately, 90 percent of the people who could benefit from professional mental health services, in my opinion, are suffering from feeling something is wrong with them. They already feel bad about themselves, like they are failing in life. They often feel a lot of guilt, shame and self-loathing. They are often already judging themselves.

They may have been overwhelmed  by losses, by life events, or have not had their crucial needs met, or have been unloved, neglected, bullied, abused or mistreated by family and others. Because of what has happened to them, they may struggle to not identify themselves as someone who’s lot in life is to be rejected or harmed by others.

Enter the room with them, the totally well-intentioned mental health professional. Too often that encounter adds to the person in need feeling like they are somehow strange, abnormal, defective or damaged goods. Because right away out comes the DSM and the search begins for a valid category of psychopathology symptom cluster. The questions begin- questions aimed at finding abnormal psychology symptoms so a diagnosis can be made and treatment begun as soon as possible.

Graduate psychology and medical school classes in psychopathology train budding mental health pros in preparation for the landmark hour, when they are fully qualified and will legally diagnose their first client or patient. All mental health pros have to diagnose if they want to get paid. Medicaid or private insurance requires a DSM diagnosis.

Iit seems to me that if the medical model of psychiatry and the DSM were like other medical specialties that diagnose physical health problems, then finding out what is wrong ASAP would be absolutely right.

Because when we suddenly become physically ill, we want to know what is wrong with us as soon as possible.  In fact a universal problem with modern health care is that people often have to wait for days or weeks to get a definite diagnosis for even serious physical health problems.

That time lag doesn’t seem to be an issue where DSM diagnoses are concerned. I know people who have been diagnosed bipolar within 30 minutes of their first ever contact with a mental health professional.

Psychiatry has convinced many of us that our natural responses of emotional distress – via depression, anxiety, and the often waking nightmare of extreme states, are symptomatic proof that something is wrong with us that can be quickly diagnosed and should be treated like a physical illness.

There lies the problem.

The solution is to realize that emotional suffering is not proof of the individual being outside the normal range of human emotional experience. Anger is anger. It isn’t a symptom. Terror or despair or self hatred are not symptoms. Intense emotional states that can also give rise to hearing voices, or the creation of fantastical stories we weave to try and give meaning to our emotions, are also our human birthright as much as joy, peace and love are.

We all are capable of having any of the range of human emotional experiences, to any degree of intensity. They are formed by what happens to us and how our needs get met or not met.

The professional clinical assessment that is part of every contact with a client or patient is a detached, analytic, medical profession tool that is totally what should be used if we go to the doctor to find out why we are, for instance, coughing up blood. If that is happening something is seriously wrong with us.

If we feel like killing ourselves it’s not because something is wrong with us in the same physical, medical emergency way.  Something has powerfully happened or is happening in our relationships with others, and we are probably immersed in our most vulnerable feelings about our inherent value and are struggling with our unmet need to be loved.

The detached clinical, diagnostic response is not what we need when feelings of hopelessness, fear or despair are overwhelming us. A broken heart is not a heart condition. A broken spirit does not happen because of a serotonin shortage.

The clinical approach interferes with mental health professionals being sufficiently compassionate.

The suffering of the people I serve as a therapist sometimes brings me to tears. It happens unbidden and I don’t try and stop it. When they see my eyes tear up, a light of recognition goes on in their eyes. It is the light of their being seen by another person who cares.

When I was a medic in the Army treating men in physical agony, my professional responsibility was to not  let myself weep then, but to attend to them with a very detached focus in order to effectively clear the airway, stop the bleeding, and treat for shock.

It’s a tragic shame that emotional suffering has been categorized and treated by the medical profession just like it is a physical injury or physical disease.

They aren’t equivalent.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Everything with psychiatrists is a mental disorder. I told my psychiatrist once that I wanted to go back to college to improve my employment opportunities and my life. He told me I’m suffering from delusions of grandeur. I’m now enrolled in a local college taking classes in the fall. I guess they weren’t delusions of grandeur after all.

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    • I was once interviewed by a psychiatrists who implied that my problem is that I am too smart. He looked like a person who had some complex about his own intelligence and as he talked to me he got more and more fired about my education and presumed IQ (which he didn’t even measure). He said that I can’t have good relationships with people because I think I am smarter than everyone around and I think so much about myself (in retrospect I guess he was trying to diagnose me with narcissism or something). He completely ignored when I (very offended at that moment) told that this is bs and that in fact I have many very smart friends (owing to my profession) to the point I sometimes even feel stupid around them, and just ranted on. Point is – they are so hell bend on finding what is wrong with you that they will push “symptoms” on you and project their own complexes and problems on you.

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      • Thank you B for sharing this painful and very telling example of how a mental heath professional totally fails to be of help, and instead is blaming and judgmental.
        It highlights how as you say, when they are so hell bent on finding what is wrong with you, that the human connection with them becomes impossible.
        Best wishes, Michael

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      • My medical records definitely prove doctors have projection issues. My PCP was paranoid of a malpractice suit, because her husband had been the “attending physician” at the “bad fix” on my broken bone. She projected her paranoia onto me and put me on a toxic drug cocktail. I used to trust doctors, how embarrassing, but that begs the question, who was paranoid?

        The therapist I then went to misdiagnosed these ADRs, and claimed I was a “bad mom,” based upon a list of lies and gossip from the people who abused my child. This therapist, I’m pretty certain, drugged her own child, at least it looks in photos like her child has mental health issues. I kept my child away from psychiatrists, my child eventually healed and became valedictorian of his high school class. Plus many people considered me to be one of the “super moms” in my neighborhood, because I was a very active volunteer. Whose the “bad mom”?

        And the neurologist / psychiatrist, who massively drugged me to cover up the easily recognized and complex iatrogenic artifacts, claimed I was “irrelevant to reality” and “w/o work, content, and talent” so he could rationalize his right to poison me with anticholinergic intoxication causing major drug interaction laden cocktails. Charming, huh? But it’s now looking more like he, his profession, and his toxic drugs are the “irrelevant to reality” and “w/o work, content, and talent.”

        Doctors have major projection problems. What a sick joke psychiatry is.

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      • There seem to be regular moron-shrinks, well educated by mainstream psychiatry’s SMI concepts. So this moron-sity is powerful, violent and potentially or actually harmful.

        Not sooo long ago, I had struggled on my own with the enormous consequences of projects skyrocketing and breaking down as I had created all very super-really in a phase of saving me in a better world. After months of struggles in different realities the dark sides became overwhelming and I finally called for help (in Germany there are local social psychiatric services). I was immediately send see a psychiatrist who after 10 minutes told me I was a ‘textbook case’ of severe mania (bipolar) and no talk therapy would ever work (I’d had some over the years).

        Then I was to see the psychiatrist at the town’s psychiatric service who took more than an hour to listen to my doings and worries; try talk from different worlds all crushing in a way or another having to to with my dream gone wild projects turned desastrous. His medical conclusion was very pragmatic: I needed to be checked at psych hospital and he would recommend I work in a factory after remission. That would be best to calm me down and provide regular procedure far away from crazy imagination. I was totally nailed down – hadn’t I told the psy that I had already be deadened bored by office work (one aspect which had made me want to start to live differently) and wanted to use my intelligence and creativity and education. Now all that ‘over and out’ (I did not go in wild states life dream out of nothing!!!) BUT for protective mechanisms I was to work in a moron factory, deadened before dead. I felt very dangerous black swords coming down on me and finally agreed to go to psychiatric hospital. Terrible times.

        So what? I was lucky some months later that the social service worker and my new psychiatrist all recognized my potential and education and acknowledged my earlier work experiences and academic education. But how much damage and fear I had had to endorsed: NO ONE PSY in time of terrible distress torn between fragmented worlds and in no socially shared realities had even listened to the very real and difficult stories and events which were all in the themes and motives of me going into turbo-states. I was told my manic delusions had nothing to do with my identity. WHAT?!

        That was when psychiatry went dead and dangerous to me: I knew they were wrong. I was horrified they ignored my life history and judged me … from ‘textbook cases’?! I can’t trust these people! I knew they were wrong and ignorant BECAUSE of my life being evidence against their judgements.

        They would threaten me until I took drugs in hospital… but when I was released I went on my own quest to wish to understand. That was when I started research using comprehensive sources which made sense. That was which gave me the ressources to deepen my understanding. That was why my new psychiatrist would trust in my senses and my struggle for meaningful understanding and planning (against all odds).

        I withdraw against the will of all mh professionals (I have some basiscs in neurophysiology which were incompatible wit taking unspecific neuroleptics or anti-epileptics). But I went on reading, drawing, working on my recovery using other sources (anthropology, hearing voices, JW Perry, survivor accounts, recovery stories). And my psychiatrist did not force me to take medication, so I trusted him and shared with him my struggles and my own recovery strategies.

        Three years later my town’s survivor association and my psychiatrist supported me in going back to uni to learn the methodolody for becoming a user researcer (building in my life course and education in anthropology and social psychology). The factory is no longer the living grave menacing to roboterize me. I worked creatively, with grieving and balancing of more feelings (HA, thx to all my extreme experiences). I was finally respected.

        BUT what if I had landed in the coercive claws of mainstream psychiatric treatment and legal guardian power to send me to psych’ hospital and make me take medication. How lucky and educated by anthropologists, alternative psy’ thinkers and survivors was I to have my new psychiatrist respect my recovery strategies and ignore when legal guradian wanted me send to hospital. How many of my survivor peers cannot draw from helpful recovery knowledge from these sources to stand up in the intellectual, moral and human struggle and, over time, make their psychiatrist trust in their capabilities and their own healing stretegies.

        How big a part of my recovering-story is LUCK, cause my psychiatrist is a very open minded and grounded person who supports so many people with altered states experiences. He doesn’t fear some emotional or intellectual turmoil. I sometimes feel I need to say a prayer that I was not left to mainstream psychiatry where the post-psychotic descend into fears, agitation between unreal worlds and diagnostic depersonalization of whomever I was had started with. The ignorant and invalid psychiatric diagnoses reductionism and destructive beliefs in people with psychotic experiences impairments and vulnarabilities would have send me to work in a disabled people factory-like ghetto.

        Imagine this reality: now I am studying abroad, often struggling and developping new strategies to keep me going when times are difficult. Thx to survivor group attendance at Uni I am a student, not a disabled and impaired one. Allowed to struggle and make seemingly small progress at my speed (to assimilate loads of imagination takes time). No more fear of ghetto and morons! Enjoying MIA, relying on peer support group membership, survivor activism, keeping with demanding studying. Always on a trauma-informed recovery-&-ressource building-journey in a multiplex presence.

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        • Thank you very much Ute for sharing your very valuable story of how you made it through so much and have accomplished what others thought was not possible. I’m grateful and feel inspired to see how you have persevered and kept your creative self free!
          Best wishes, Michael

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  2. Thank you for this wonderful article. For precisely the reasons you outline, the biological model of psychological suffering is highly seductive: it enables us to feel that in fact we’re not failures, not defective, but instead experiencing the effects of a broken biology that lies outside our control. As you say, we need an approach that looks beyond these binary scenarios and sees the individual in a context and a life course. Without this we remain stuck in shame and self-loathing.

    The only thing I would add is that, unlike you, I don’t see such a sharp distinction between physical and psychological care. I’ve heard a palliative care specialist say that he is sometimes moved to tears in discussions with families of dying patients. Sharing and showing humanity in the physical care of people is just as nourishing as in the psychological arena.

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  3. In the DSM nosology (naming system) the category labels are syndrome labels. They are not diagnoses of a particular specific Medical illnesses or specific underlying issues in a particular individual’s case.

    Putting a person in a DSM diagnostic box and prescribing patented drugs is lucrative to some and is execrable Medicine.

    A syndrome name can provide some meaning to other Medical Professionals. The syndrome of Pneumonia for instance characterizes the patient’s presenting state. Clearly though this is only the beginning and thorough differential diagnosis is necessary. Pneumonia is the syndrome name. Causes vary… fiberglass inhalation, one or another infection: to responsibly care for an individual, going to all lengths for finding what is the individual’s underlying troubles are according to current knowledge is key.

    The DSM-3, DSM-4 and DSM-5 named categories are naturally not diagnoses of particular, single Medical illnesses. They are descriptive categories that the Psychiatric authority selects based on their Professional opinion:

    “Each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome.”

    Read more, Wikipedia DSM Manual http://sevencounties.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=8212&cn=18

    Thus these “disorder” categories are (at best) syndrome labels as with the syndrome label of Pneumonia.

    Daniel Burdick Eugene, Oregon USA

    “In the DSM there is no assumption that each category of mental disorder is a completely discrete entity with absolute boundaries dividing it from other mental disorders or from no mental disorder. There is also no assumption that all individuals described as having the same mental disorder are alike in all important ways.”


    1) Treatment of Bipolar Disorder by Charles Gant, M. D.

    2) Forensic Psychiatry http://sbmu.ac.ir/uploads/ForensicPsychiatry2010.pdf


    David Moyer http://beyondmentalillness.us

    Who is this website for? It is for anyone who has been told they have a “chemical imbalance,” anyone whose friend or loved one has been told they have a “chemical imbalance” and anyone who told anyone else they have a “chemical imbalance.”

    It is for those who believe they or their loved one have a “mental disease”…

    Daniel Stradford writes of Dr. Sydney Walker

    “Probably no American physician understood this phenomena of misdiagnosis better than Dr. Sydney Walker, a board certified neuropsychiatrist from Southern California.

    When Walker was doing his early medical training in the 1960’s, he went to the school library in search of a text on this subject. He couldn’t find it. Taking the matter to the head of the psychiatric residents, he asked, “Where is the book in the library on the medical causes of psychiatric symptoms?”

    “There isn’t one,” came the reply.”

    Finding Restorative Care for Mental Illness
    by Robert Sealey, BSc, CA

    “Conventional Psychiatrists Prescribe Meds and more Meds

    Modern psychiatrists are busy. With full practices, they label patients and prescribe medications, apparently too busy to learn how supplements can help. Where does this leave sick patients and trusting families? Wandering the mental healthcare maze, hoping for quality care but getting labeled and medicated. “The D.S.M. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual lists many labels for patients with brain problems. After psychiatrists pick a diagnostic label, they prescribe one or more medications. Label and medicate – quick and easy. Efficient, but does this heal?”

    Functional Medicine Dr. Vincent Bellonzi, D.O.

    When treating a patient we strive to provide more than just rapid relief of your immediate

    symptoms. We focus on your overall health examining nutritional, metabolic, immune, hormonal, structural, and any toxicological factors in which you may be involved. Through a personal and comprehensive examination, we try to get to the source of your condition enabling you to restore your health. We also look at emotional and psychological factors as these create the background which shapes every aspect of your health and well-being.

    Most conditions whether it involves heart disease, fatigue, arthritis, cancer, headaches, chronic infections, allergies, elevated cholesterol, depression, anxiety, PMS, menopause, autism, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc. are manageable if the underlying causes are more fully understood.


    Gut and Psychology Syndrome -Natasha Campbell-McBride


    So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from?
    Michael Berk, Lana J Williams, Felice N Jacka, Adrienne O’Neil, Julie A Pasco, Steven Moylan, Nicholas B Allen, Amanda L Stuart, Amie C Hayley, Michelle L Byrne and Michael Maes

    Background: We now know that depression is associated with a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response and activation of cell-mediated immunity, as well as activation of the compensatory anti-inflammatory reflex system. It is similarly accompanied by increased oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS), which contribute to neuroprogression in the disorder. The obvious question this poses is ‘what is the source of this chronic low-grade inflammation?’



    Antifungal, antimicrobial action may be involved in Antipsychitoc and Antidepressent drug actions.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17017893 http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/5/505.long

    Cytokine-Associated Emotional and Cognitive Disturbances in Humans

    World Wide Lyme Disease Protest

    ATTENTION DEFICIT AND HYPERACTIVITY DISORDERS by Lawrence Wilson, MD 2009 http://drlwilson.com/articles/attention_deficit.htm

    ADD/ADHD Savvy Patients

    What I Would Do If I Were a Parent of An Autistic Child:
    Recommendations Based on 25 Years of Research Experience
    By: Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D., Center for the Study of Autism, Salem, Oregon

    Stephen Wong
    Behavior Analysis of Psychotic Disorders: Scientific Dead End
    or Casualty of the Mental Health Political Economy?

    ” Page 157. Reliably and Validity

    “The mission of raising the reliability of DSM diagnoses is an ongoing process that continues with the current version of the manual. ”

    “Enthusiasm for psychotropic drugs should also have been tempered by the limited benefits they made to clients’ adaptive functioning and overall quality of life.”

    “Of course, the fact that certain psychiatric diagnoses have low interrater reliability and that expert committees devised them do not negate the existence of these disorders.”

    “Nor does the present lack of replicable data linking mental disorders to brain anomalies preclude the possibility that future research will discover such links.”

    Nutrition by Natalie

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    • Dan, I hope everyone opens your comment to see the great list of very valuable links about diagnosis and about innovative approaches to helping people in emotional distress you have shared with us. Thank you very much.

      Your thought provoking comment about the validity of DSM diagnosis prompted this train of thought for me-
      As far as I know, if my general practitioner prescribes me medication for a health problem like asthma for instance, there is a requirement by my insurance carrier, be it Medicare, or Medicaid or Blue Cross, that the prescription is legally given based on a valid medical diagnosis that my GP can justify because certain diagnostic tests have taken place and are documented in my patient chart. In other words, no valid, documented diagnosis, no prescription, and also if no diagnosis, then no insurance payment to my GP for his time spent prescribing asthma medication for me.

      It has always struck me that so many prescriptions for psych drugs are written by licensed MD’s that are paid for by public healthcare dollars and private insurance carriers, for which nothing resembling a true medical diagnosis has been established. It is surreal in a nightmarish way.

      It speaks to the level of incredible political and corporate power that has been wielded to create the social institution of modern psychiatry. I want to say that what is happening with psychiatric treatment being done for which there is no medical diagnosis or justification is fraud.

      But who is being de-frauded? The government? All the insurance entities both public and private? No, because our elected officials, from the president on down, the FDA, the justice department and all the insurance entities are in on it, they condone it, collude with it and perpetuate it.

      I guess the only people who are victims of medical malpractice and fraud are the American people.
      Best wishes,

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    • Thats it! The ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain is a big fraud on the taxpayer. Part of the fraud involves pretending tranquillizers are medicine. The effect of this approach is that people don’t get help for problems that can be worked out, and that the tranquillisers disable and weaken the ability to cope with life.

      I have been part of the system myself, and my experience is that problems can be worked out.

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  4. I agree completely. Most people coming for help have understandable emotional distress and feel that this distress means that they are somehow defective. When the mental health professional makes a diagnosis, the person not only has the emotional distress, they also are defective in some way. I have seen patients who know that they are appropriately distressed related to life circumstances, but they are coming for evaluation to find out if this distress represents a chemical imbalance, a mental disorder. When this happens, I answer their question and let them know that their emotions are appropriate. Despite a desire to help the person I do not set another appointment; how can their emotions be normal if they need ‘treatment?’ They are grateful to have their own perceptions validated. Still, the fact that they came in for an evaluation underscores how powerful the media has been in convincing people that normal emotions are a disorder.

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    • Thank you Stuart. I hope everyone reads your article here on MIA called – “Psychiatry as a Mixed Blessing”
      In that article you share that you have practiced emergency medicine where people’s lives hung in the balance, depending on how accurately you could diagnose their condition- and as you say above, a psychiatric diagnosis process can be destructive instead of equally imperative, can add to the emotional distress and demoralization of a person.
      Best wishes, Michael

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    • Worse even are the so-called personality disorders. They are basically telling you that your personality is wrong. In other words YOU ARE WRONG. You’re a defective product of genes and broken childhood and whatever bad things are happening to you are because you’re just (subconsciously of course) asking for it.
      In this day and age having emotions is a pathology. I think people running this system have a “personality disorder” of their own and I guess I don’t have to name it.

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    • Stuart writes:” I do not set another appointment; how can their emotions be normal if they need ‘treatment?’They are grateful to have their own perceptions validated ” This is excellent. You realize that among mental health professionals this makes you highly unusual and among psychiatrists, it probably makes you unique. The mental health professional is trained to believe distress is pathology and she makes money by recruiting clients to return.To leave it up to the client to return or not return conveys, as you say, that they have responded appropriately AND you are not in a position to say the client needs “trearment.” How many professionals would sacrifice the opportunity to recruit a w clients in order to act in the most ethical manner?

      Seth Farber, Ph.D.

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  5. As the brain was discovered to be the likely seat of consciousness, a certain implication was born – its structures and processes as the cause of human function and dysfunction. Life’s digested experiences got demoted in our sense of causality as a result.

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    • What do you think is the seat of consciousness? I feel like you’re saying something I want to hear but I don’t fully understand. I think you’re saying (partly) that we don’t look to life’s experiences as the cause for mental illness because the brain is seen as the “seat of consciousness,” the cause of so-called mental illness. I don’t see mental illness as really an illness just a response to living in a conflicted world. See the lyrics of the song, I Find It Hard To Say by Lauryn Hill. That partly explains the issue I see. The contradictions we face and are supposed to accept. I am very interested in consciousness and feel like increased consciousness is the purpose of mental illness.

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      • Science can’t define consciousness let alone explain it. It’s in the realm of philosophy and religion at this point and will likely remain there for a long time. Sure, brain produces thoughts and emotions but who are psychiatrists to define which emotions and thoughts are OK and normal and which are symptoms of sickness? They basically describe a bunch of emotions and behaviours linked to them and label it an illness.

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        • Thanks, B. This is my understanding from reading other books. I guess I hadn’t thought about it much beyond that. I just try to figure out more so what is going on with the world that I was indeed relying on to define myself (like you are saying here) and I feel my reading helped (still helps). It said most people are asleep/unconscious/believe people are flawed.

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    • I found this: http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/one-page-proof-that-attributing-consciousness-to-the-brain-is-absurd/

      Very interesting. Glad I saw your comment. I am reading a book called A Course in Miracles and it says that we are not the body, so obviously the brain would not be consciousness. I never made this connection though. Awesome. Thanks. So obviously, the issue wouldn’t be with the brain. Wow. So much for all the science. It’s so trusted in this culture. I must admit, I was unconsciously trusting science, too. It’s meaningless, contradictory (like people interpretations of the Bible throughout history. Ha.

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      • To clarify my views regarding your views: my view is an open-minded one. Obviously SOMETHING is at play to manifest as the self-evident phenomenon of consciousness. Personally, I am torn between: (1) The mind is an electrical field supported by the physical brain, or (2) I am in some advanced life simulation, the nature of which I am relatively clueless about. As for “mental illness”, I think we’re on the same page. We process and adapt to our experience of life, which educates us imperfectly to deal with further life. With regard for your last point, I have concluded that my condition has enabled the breakthroughs which have proven necessary for my subsequent successes.

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        • Thank you jonnylucid, MLuster and B for your valuable contributions to the discussion! Your sharing about the nature of consciousness, reminds me I wrote a couple of essays here on madinamerica you might be interested in about the primary role of emotion in creating our thoughts, words, imagery and symbolic self expression.
          Best wishes, Michael

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        • Jonnylucid, I’m curious about your option (1). If this were the case, why would the mind need to be thought of as distinct from the brain at all? Speaking conceptually here, of course; I’m not referring to two separate physical objects.

          I still like the hardware (brain)/software (mind) analogy. While it’s true that everything that happens in your mind is reflected in your brain, it doesn’t follow that mind events are driven by the brain beyond the rather trite observation that the brain is required for all sensations, emotional or physical.

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          • It seems sensible to me to view the brain and mind as one and the same — the matter and energy composing the brain are all interconnected, and the electricity of consciousness is inseparable from the rest of the matter. But the actual phenomenon of consciousness, while seemingly supported by the entire essential makeup of the brain, may simply be a bizarrely complex field of electrical fluidity, useful to conceive of as a separate phenomenon.

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        • So, my views not open-minded. Uh. Thanks. Really, though I found your comment helpful. I guess science can be helpful in some ways. As can books, talking to other people. Outside sources of information can help you. If you know what you’re looking for.

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        • Ha. Honestly he did seem kind of like he was seeking to advertise his products, but it was interesting what he was saying about the brain being composed of matter like any other object, so that it couldn’t be conscious. But then again, I very vaguely remember someone saying that even matter has some energy to it. I guess what I was looking to know was, what is consciousness(?), after I read what JonnyLucid said. Some say consciousness is what we and everything else here are and that we are all one. (Eckart Tolle says so, for example.)

          I actually wanted to share something else here that I am reading just now that relates to schizophrenia, consciousness and shamanism. I wish there was someplace I could share more stuff with others with mental illness. It’s so interesting to learn more about what could be happening.
          Here’s the link: http://www.mindspring.com/~berks-healing/campbell-schiz.pdf

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          • I should add that I don’t agree with everything in the article. But in my “psychotic episodes” I always did things that entailed suffering, so this interested me for that reason. I don’t know if we have a collective conscious or if humans just strongly believe in suffering and my experiences reflected that. I don’t know. Just wanted to share since I was so glad someone referred to it (in encouraging me to take medicine, strangely) so I could read the whole thing. Feel free to find me on Facebook, by the way. I’m Marla Luster.

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      • Well, consciousness is a complex concept which is not even well defined. But that aside the article sounds really laughable to me – sure, brain is made out of matter but matter and energy are linked and interconvertible. This guy does not understand the topic he’s writing on…

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  6. Thank you pointing out the mindlessness of psychiatry’s recent illogical belief system. I went to a psychologist to try and overcome my denial of the abuse of my child (and understand the interpersonal difficulties I was having with the people who, it turns out, raped my child). I was also suffering withdrawal effects from a “safe smoking cessation drug” / antidepressant, including brain zaps, odd dreams, and odd sexual side effects (all common ADRs and withdrawal effects of antidepressants). Plus, I was distressed due to 9.11.2001, like most people at that time.

    I was stigmatized as “bipolar.” Claiming a person is defective, rather than helping them deal with their real life problems is insane, perhaps even evil, but it’s not medical care.

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    • Thank you Someone Else for sharing about your traumatic experience of being stigmatized instead of being assisted. A great deal was happening in your life that was overlooked by those who should have been there for you in ways that helped you.
      Best wishes, Michael

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  7. I concur and would add a third question: What has happened to Earth? Many in the environmental movement would argue that we need to return to an earlier time, a paradise that we lost through progress and development. Some point to early agricultural societies as the first step in our “Great Mistake.” Others believe that it is only with the start of the industrial era and the extraction of non-renewable resources that we plunged headfirst into the present ecological crisis. Perhaps all are mistaken.

    The transpersonal psychologist and philosopher, Ken Wilber, suggests that the pattern of evolution is to differentiate and integrate, to transcend and include. From this angle we can see that our “Great Mistake,” is actually an important part of a much larger process which leads on to ecological integration. That is to say, the real challenge is not to regress to a time before differentiation but to face those parts of ourselves that we have disowned and reintegrate them. The evolution of the mind required a differentiation from nature and with that greater complexity came the capacity of greater pathology, i.e., disassociation. We are now witnessing first-hand the consequences of that disassociation.

    One way of explaining the ecological crisis using these terms is that the ecological unconscious has become repressed and placed into the individual and collective shadow of the human species and that we are bound to act out this shadow in denial what we cannot integrate into our conscious being. Ken Wilber writes:
    Every neurosis…is a miniature ecological crisis…Neurosis in this sense is an assault on the biosphere by the noosphere…and the neurotic symptoms disappear, or are healed, only as consciousness relaxes its repression, re-contacts, and befriends the biosphere that exists in its own being and then reintegrates that biosphere with the newly emergent noosphere in its own case. This is called “uncovering the shadow” and the shadow is… the biosphere (Wilber, 2000, p. 231).
    The biomedical model is based on an assumption of a skin-encapsulated self separate from the ecological crisis of Earth. We need bigger questions about the context in which we live.

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    • Thank you RISN for this important comment. I agree that the mystery of our life on earth and the inter connectedness of all that exists is our birthright to explore- and how truncated the vision of human nature has become, that seeks to reduce our mysterious nature via the medicalization of experience, imagining the depths of our soul journey can fit into a cookbook of so-called psychopathology.
      Best wishes, Michael

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      • “Imaging the depths of our soul journey can fit into a cookbook of psychopathology,” is such an insanely simplistic and one dimensional way of thinking, I agree. It’s amazing an entire industry of “professionals” are dumb enough to believe this.

        “Mindless” psychiatry – I’ve never met more inane, completely “lacking in insight,” or more deluded people, than the psychiatric “professionals” I encountered. But then again, the psych majors in college were the kids who were not smart enough to get into the architecture, engineering, and business schools … So I guess it’s not surprising they adopted this mind bogglingly simplistic view of humanity.

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  8. Enter “dual diagnosis drug and alcohol treatment” , there you are going to groups and almost every single person has a nice long story of nasty stuff that happened to them. All kinds of child abuse and with the younger guys on dope usually a diagnosis of ADHD at a young age that they later “found out” was bipolar after the usual side effects of stimulants piled up creating the symptoms. MAJOR link between child psychiatry and addiction in young people today.

    I went a little off topic so its group after group in dual diagnosis rehab, processing , coping skills and all CBT stuff until the group on medications comes along and all that nasty stuff that happened to people in there past is dismissed, forgotten, thrown right out the window and everything is boiled down to a brain problem and all the wonderful pills they have for that and the need to be compliant with the pill regime for your brain “illness”.

    “I can never get better my brain is broken” NO it’s not, you can get better and if you have a drug or alcohol problem stay away from those pill pushing centers for “dual diagnosis” unless you want more of the same crap likely got you sick in the first place.

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    • I am not done with this yet, there you have all the people in “dual diagnosis” rehab, people who liked getting high on drugs and alcohol being given all these drugs for things like so called “bipolar” that BLOCK the ability to feel natural highs, that’s what ‘mood stabilization’ is.

      What the hell ? The number one complaint of people in early recovery is “nothing is fun sober” but that doesn’t stop the incompetent doctor that inhabits almost all of these dual diagnosis places from making it worse with disabling psychiatric drugs !

      “I want to get sober to feel like a zombie all day with a stable mood” No one ever say’s that ! So the young people go home on all these pills and decide recovery sucks I’m going to go drink or get high so I can have some fun.

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  9. Hi Dr. Cornwall (Michael)–

    Thank you for your Post: I gravitated toward the contrasting implications of what should and what shouldn’t count as appropriate in the respective fields of medical and behavioral care. To draw that out, just as it would have been inappropriate for you to put your feelings first when you attended to wounded soldiers, it is transparently inappropriate for clinicians to set questions of personal experience, feeling, and value aside in response to their client’s, perhaps incapacitating, emotional distress. Or for that matter, their cognitive dysfunction.

    Letting that sink in, it is impossible not to think of what zealots mainstream mental health professions attract, fixated on eliminating responsibility and sequestering their clients into a legally defined class with diminished status and rights. I guess I’ll just let the Socratic paradox save me, again, since malfeasance can’t explain it all.

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    • Thank you travailler-vous, for your thoughtful comment. I agree with your so clearly saying- “it is transparently inappropriate for clinicians to set questions of personal experience, feeling, and value aside in response to their client’s perhaps incapacitating emotional distress.”
      My Army service was stateside driving a field ambulance, and it would have been inappropriate for me as you say, to put my feelings first when caring for someone seriously injured in an emergency medical situation. Those experiences as a young man always made me see that there was a great problem with psychiatry saying that what they were doing was equivalent to what physical medical care does.
      Best wishes,

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  10. A friend is just going through a change in diagnosis (from Schizophrenia to Bipolar). Same treatment for both diagnosis. Not much change there then.

    He then spent ages on the net looking at the latest research on Schizophrenia and Bipolar and found and obscure paper on a genetic link to an immune dysfunction that is related to Schizophrenia and Bipolar. Now he wants genetic testing.

    No one talks about his life, how his thoughts and emotions might be related to what happened to him. And they never will as long as diagnosis remains core to psychiatry.

    Hey ho

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    • Amazing how you treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis, bipolar and all these distinct and specific “illnesses” with the same 5 drugs given out on the basis of “you took it for a week and didn’t die so it’s working”, isn’t it?

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      • “you took it for a week and didn’t die so it’s working”, isn’t it? – lol!

        This time he nearly died, he developed really bad constipation after a couple of weeks on quetiapine and ended up in intensive care for the weekend. He’s got type 1 diabetes and his blood sugar shot up to dangerous levels while this was happening.

        Now the services keep cancelling meetings……Grr, at least they provide some kind of company and a little be it decent social work. Except the don’t as they don’t turn up

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    • Hi again John,
      Thank you for sharing this very sad and telling example here of how it works when the quest is to find out via DSM diagnosis, what is “wrong”- vs. being with someone compassionately as they explore what has happened to them.
      Best wishes, Michael

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  11. Thank you for this amazing article. Again you hit the nail on the head.
    On the issue of diagnosing what’s wrong with the person as opposed to what is wrong in one’s life circumstances: the thing that helped me most with my problems was when I realised that all that shit was not really my fault. After years of being gaslighted and lied to and then blamed for being paranoid and a horrible person I was still refusing to take all the blame. It took the “professionals” to make me start thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me and maybe it was all my fault. Thankfully, I had my bullshit detector on while talking to them but after these “therapeutic sessions” when the guy was accusing my loving family of abusing me and when I refused to agree with it – of being “too good” and basically suggesting that all my friends aren’t really my friends but they only pretend to be because they are afraid of this awful person I am (no kidding) I spent hours talking to myself, refuting these nonsense notions in my head. Had I been more gullible and I’d have no one in my life anymore.
    The people who really helped me out were my friends and even more my colleagues, who have observed the situation progressing from bad to worse and came to me and told me that it wasn’t my fault, that this person had a pattern of behaviour that I couldn’t have known about and so on. They validated my feelings and confirmed my reality and gave me sympathy and understanding I needed.

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    • Hi B, thanks for this powerful comment. Running the gauntlet of professionals committed to finding what is wrong with a person ala the DSM, is a very disorienting process as you say- gaslighting really sums it up. I have an article here on MIA that you might like called – “Is the psychiatric diagnosis process a degradation ceremony?” In it I explore the process of the public and subjective identity shift that happens when a DSM label is applied.
      Best wishes, Michael

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      • Fortunately for me I’ve been a quite distrustful person since childhood. While some can take it as an absolute negative (like the psychiatrists who were crying about it in my medical records) I personally think that it is a life saving trait in some circumstances. I never simply follow what any doctor tells me to do, I always figure it out for myself whether it makes sense and drop it if it doesn’t. that’s why I never took drugs for more than a month at the time and only because I was sort of coerced to it by my ex.

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  12. Great article, well-written and I agree with the thesis that more often than not psychiatry pathologizes experiences that are simply normal human responses to unhealthy experiences.

    However, let me play the devils advocate for a moment. What about when it doesn’t feel normal or good or healthy or tolerable to you? I’ve struggled with hideous depression and if someone said, “You’re just having a normal reaction to a problematic environment,” I would have felt like the person didn’t get what I was saying. I would have thought, “No actually, this is different. This is not the same as that. A strong reaction is one thing. This is more than that and it’s limiting my ability to live the life I want to and share myself and connect. I would hope that people who are healers, whatever the letters are beside their name, would have curiosity, support and advice. Don’t pathologize, but also don’t minimize. You have to find out what’s wrong before you can work towards the solution.

    Another problem area:
    “It seems to me that if the medical model of psychiatry and the DSM were like other medical specialties that diagnose physical health problems, then finding out what is wrong ASAP would be absolutely right.”

    I see this binary again and again. The medical model works great for physical diseases, but is a horrible fit for mental/emotional issues.

    Two points. First, I’m not convinced the medical model is all that great for dealing with physical issues. Sure, for extreme and acute medical emergencies it’s great. But for chronic physical ailments, the track record is not that excellent. Many of the treatments cause hosts of other issues. Prevention, diet and lifestyle changes, are highly under valued. Plus, stress and emotional issues are at the core of most physical issues, so you can’t just divide mind and body like that. This divide is a holdover from the old Descartian division of human from nature/body, and new science shows this split is limiting and false.

    Which leads me to the next point. While psychiatry and the other fields have much to be critiqued and challenged, we wouldn’t even be having these conversations and this website wouldn’t exist, if these fields drew attention and appreciation to the inner universe that was being ignored by the medical field. Its time for them to grow and we are urging them on, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    Furthermore, advances in neuroscience and psychology, while in their infancy, are moving into far more nuanced and interesting places, including not just looking at pathology, but looking at what healthy emotional and mental life looks like and how we can foster and encourage it.

    Anyway, I wanted to add my two cents to problematize this physical medicine = good/ mental medicine = bad dichotomy that seems simplistic.

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    • I don’t think that telling someone that their, however extreme, reaction to their life circumstances is in any way minimizing it. I’d say it’s the opposite: its’ telling someone – your problems and feelings are real and valuable and it’s not just all in your head, you have reasons to feel that way. And from that moment you can move on to trying to help that person.

      One thing that has to be understood that it is not always possible to help someone like that. When real doctors see someone with terminal illness they sometimes just let them go home with a bunch of pain-killers and let them life their life to the end the best way they can. This is a humble way to deal with real illnesses we can’t fight against just yet. Psychiatrists, who don’t have to deal with such hopeless situations to begin with (they can’t ever say if someone is going to commit suicide and die because of how they feel, in contrast to say oncologists who more often than not unfortunately can say that) act like they always know what the answer is. Sometimes you can help someone with real life situations but some things you can’t change: death of a loved one, loneliness, disability etc. The best you can do is to be sympathetic, acknowledge this person experience without trying to minimise it and giving “good advice” and bs comments like “you’ll see it will change” and hope they will find their way out of it. Or ask them if they think they know what would help and see if you can do it. It’s really that simple.

      Psychiatrists just want to give you a pill for life. A pill is not going to fix a broken marriage, bring back the dead or make you find your significant other. That’s simply lying. If anything it will make you even more powerless about dealing with it. An honest way to do it would be to acknowledge what’s going on and if you feel like a person may want a little oblivion you could tell them that there are tranquilizers out there. But tell them also that these pills aren’t going to fix anything or make them “feel better” and explain what the downsides are. If someone wants to kill the pain with pills that may be up to them but they should be told the truth.

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      • But the psychiatric “professionals” don’t do that, quite to the contrary, they deny the ADRs and withdrawal symptoms of their drugs, and claim the drug induced “chemical imbalances” are “life long, incurable, GENETIC mental illnesses.” What they’re doing truly is evil.

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  13. Thanks Marlop for your valuable comment and questions. I agree that taking a non-pathologizing approach shouldn’t mean minimizing or papering over the intensity of someone’s emotional distress. In my experience, since I don’t posit a genetic, brain disease causation for emotional distress and extreme states, then those experiences have always proven to make sense to me- I see them happening on a continuum of normality because I believe we all are capable of them given the right conditions.

    When I hear someone’s story about what contributes to their distress or madness, it adds up, makes sense- even people who have made and survived extremely lethal suicide attempts.

    The western medical model for physical problems certainly isn’t perfect, and also relies too much on a one size fits all approach that often ignores the whole person and alternative healing approaches.

    The medicalization of emotional distress has proven to be an incalculable mistake in my opinion. A glaring example of why the psychiatric medical model is so damaging, is just yesterday the center for disease control issued an alert, reporting that an estimated 10,000 toddlers in the United States between the ages of 2-3 have been diagnosed with ADHD and are taking stimulant drugs like Ritalin and Adderall off label as prescribed by their pediatricians.
    Best wishes, Michael

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    • Michael, I came across this, and I just have to say that your last statistic is revealing. I could cite many others. For example there has been a 40 fold increase in the last decade in diagnosis of “pediatric bipolar disorder”–ever since Joseph Biederman invented “pediatric bipolar disorder” after he accepted $1.8 million dollars from the drug companies. In fact he promised Johnson and Johnson in advance that his research would achieve favorable results for their new drug. Yet Marlop tells us “it is time for them to grow.” Grow they will but not in the manner that Marlop wants. He is wrong. WE should not “urg[e] them on” They will not serve the public good because of exhortations from the terminally naïve. The “advances in neuroscience and psychology” will not be used to help people. Look at Psychiatry’s historical record. Look at what they’ve done since they started taking money from the drug companies. It is time for psychiatry to shrink, to accept less money, to cut their financial ties to the drug companies. Unless they do that they will continue to be a force of evil. I remind Marlop before the late 1970s the APA prohibited the receipt of money from drug companies. Unless they reinstitute those ethical restrictions we must indeed pace Marlop throw out the “baby with the bathwater.” The baby is the son of Frankenstein. And psychiatrists are enabled by armies of “lesser” “mental health” professionals. We must expose psychiatrists as drug pushers— more dangerous to children than the drug dealer on the corner– not advice people, as Marlop urges, to trust and empower them.
      Seth Farber, Ph.D.

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  14. Dr. Cornwall, So not positing the underlying defect works conveniently to help accept something truly physical if it’s found, if an individual’s got a tumor. The person still had the capacity for positive change, if only in honest attention to his problems along the most constructive lines. And hurray when he or she is no longer in the dark and treated.

    Likewise, were there discovered to be biological abnormalities causing “mental disorders”, someone could have these physical defects anyway you pleased and not present disorder, not unlike with some persons who hardly suffer once infected with what may cause most horrible suffering.

    Since these are truthful limits to the assessment process, the disappearance of the person from the thought of how to treat them is all the more difficult to understand, as is why it’s not more prevalent among practitioners to advertise themselves standing in opposition the usual modes of intervention.

    I am convinced that it is not the threat of losing approval from their peers or business standing and clientele that motivates this great going along with the current system. It is the convenience of segregating the most difficult cases and of facing their battles with them if it means confronting myths and dogmas and injustice.

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  15. Michael, while I agree that treating emotional reactions as a physical disorder is ridiculous and only ends up making matters worse, I belong to the school of healers that treats any physical imbalance as having emotional roots. I believe that physical illness is created from unacknowledged fear, which causes the heart to constrict, which, in turn, undermines our natural self-healing (self-correcting) mechanisms. Chronic fear can knock our system out of whack in so many ways.

    Shifting ingrained fear–by recognizing and resolving the issue that caused such overwhelming fear, then releasing the fear and learning to trust again–will go a long way in healing imbalance of any kind. When we heal fear, we stop worrying so anxiety decreases, and we find our way to hope and trust, which causes our hearts expand. This allows healing to occur naturally. That’s been my experience, in any event.

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      • Well, actually it’s falsifiable and it’s false – there are well known causes of physical diseases. You have a bacterial infection and you treat it with antibiotics. You have diabetes type I you take insulin. Problem with psychiatry is that they are pretending like they are as good as conventional medicine and they have real diseases with known etiologies and they have treatments that specifically treat them. All of which is false.

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        • The trouble with this type of thinking is that it can be stretched around absolutely anything. So if someone decides that fear causes physical disease, one can negate the high blood sugar = diabetes relationship by saying it’s fear that causes the high blood sugar. As the poster later clarified, it wasn’t meant to be presented as a theory so the criticism doesn’t apply but if it were a theory, it would certainly be unfalsifiable and unworthy of consideration.

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          • Sorry, I have to disagree with both of you. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is fine, we’re all entitled to believe what we believe.

            Mental health treatments and practices have caused us such tragic and never-ending chaos and confusion, as we talk about at length on here, I like to be open to a variety of paradigms.

            I’m not saying anything new with what I say above. I learned about how energy works, in detail, as part of my healing education. I trained in many varieties of energy healing modalities for years, which is where I found my own healing and integration, during this process.

            Emotion is energy, and so is illness (dis-ease). So is anything and everything. We affect the flow of energy, including in our bodies, with our emotions. We affect the entire environment, and the collective. Social ills, like physical ills, are caused by energy going out of whack. It begins inside each one of us.

            When you see it from that perspective, what I say is perfectly logical. AND, any imbalance is relatively easily remedied, through full ownership of one’s energy. I can personally attest to this in many ways.

            What I say doesn’t negate what you are saying about diabetes, etc. I am seeing the imbalance from another perspective. That’s necessary if a paradigm is going to shift, so that change can occur.

            I’m not trying to persuade you if you don’t want to see it from an energy perspective. But that is from where I’m coming. No reason you have to consider it, whatsoever. But it is my belief, and it’s worked for me and others. We find it to be totally true. I find this paradigm to be of value to healing, so I discuss it, when possible.

            I use this paradigm in my practice, and I’ve had great results and favorable testimonials for years now. So perhaps we simply don’t perceive reality the same way.

            Doesn’t make either one of us wrong, but more so, diverse in our thinking. And that’s what we’re after, isn’t it? A community of diverse thinking, to help resolve issues that don’t seem to want to get resolved?

            Frankly, and to his chagrin, the poster doesn’t feel terribly encouraged at this time, because I don’t see any desire in these responses to explore, but only to invalidate without question or dialogue. That’s exactly why I totally disconnected from the mental health world! It’s kinda crazy-making, really, I have to say. The end.

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          • Sorry, have to reply here because the thread won’t allow another comment.

            This sentence jumped out at me: “So perhaps we simply don’t perceive reality the same way. ” Are you suggesting that we have different realities? We don’t. I disagree with you based on the merits or lack thereof of your position. That doesn’t indicate a break from reality.

            And, as always, of course it’s fine to disagree. But if you’re going to claim that your approach follows a falsifiable, scientific theory, be prepared to be challenged.

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        • Thanks, Michael. The above are sites which popped up when I googled ‘fear and illness,’ so I’m just sharing them here to provide a glimpse into this paradigm of thought, health, and healing.

          The website that I’m posting here, below, pretty much describes my orientation–that our emotions do have a frequency (measured in Hz), and because of this, they have a direct impact not only on our health, but on the reality which we create for ourselves via which perspective we choose to take at any given moment. This is all fluid, like energy. Present time is present time.


          In my work, we learn how to choose our focus, to manifest a high vibrational feeling. We drive our emotions according to where we focus our thoughts. We have choices, here.

          Although we also have deeply ingrained habits and programming. If we truly desire change in our bodies, in our lives, and in the world, the work is shifting the internal habits of focus and perspective, which creates a different wavelength of emotion, which extends outward into the collective.

          We’re all affected by the emotions of others, as the world is a co-creation of our collective thoughts, ideas, and emotional frequencies. Instead of letting negative emotions sink us, however, we can learn to, literally, rise above them, by training our own thoughts to perceive our own vibration through our emotional experience. It’s a slow process at first, because there is an emotional journey to take, here, in order to create the desired changes. I have a lot of focus and meditation exercises I offer as tools for support in this journey.

          Eventually, with diligent focus, neurons naturally shift into ease and neutrality, without at all sacrificing our emotional experience, as it increases our ability to tolerate negative emotions responsibly and without fear when we do experience them. In fact, they take on a positive connotation–as guidance, rather than something to cause shut down or conflict. From my perspective, that’s sound self-healing.

          Incidentally, I believe this is a time when the world is dividing up into dense and light emotional frequencies, for easier discernment. This is how change is occurring now. We have opportunities to shift our internal densities into more light frequencies, by driving our emotions to more compassionate and radically self-responsible (non-victim) perspectives.

          Every life experience offers a variety of perspectives, (Rashomon), so we choose which perspective to adopt at any given moment, based on our innate sense of truth. The will vary, naturally. This is what creates diversity.

          In any case, this is where I be now. So far so good! And expanding more daily. The big shift for me was when life went from chronic pain, dread, and heartache to daily joy, gratitude, and celebration of life. Two completely opposite feelings/wavelengths. Practicing the latter is what changed my entire outer world, as it radically shifted the quality of my experiences.

          We have a choice in how we perceive our lives, and this will affect our experience of it, and, in turn, what we create for ourselves. Seems totally logical to me.

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          • I find it absolutely staggering to believe most within the psychiatric industry believe it their right to dictate another’s life “story” and future. How insane! Talk about “delusions of grandeur.” My neurologist literally declared my entire life a “credible fictional story” on my second to last appointment with him – in his records. (I hadn’t realized how completely deluded he was until my medical records had been handed over, so I confronted him with his delusions, after reading some of his medical records.) How insane a person must be to believe it’s his right to proclaim my life “fictional.” Nut job.

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    • Alex,

      I hope you’re not inferring that all physical illnesses are due to fear. That would be just as irresponsible as what many health professionals claim in advocating that mental illness is due to chemical imbalances.

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      • I don’t think there is anything ‘irresponsible’ about stating my belief and paradigm. I’m certainly not in the position to force anyone to walk my talk. Nor would I even want that power.

        We’re here to share ideas which are sorely needed in health care–especially mental health, but I feel it’s all integral. How is anything going to ever change around here with that kind of judgment looming?

        If you want more info about what I’m talking about, please see above post in response to Michael.

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        • Alex,

          You are free to make any claim you want on this site. The issue is if we start making claims that are as far out as what psychiatry is making, we are essentially no better than they are with the only difference that we can’t force people into treatment against their will.

          Anyway Alex, my cousin, who died of cancer many years ago, had a great attitude and lived as stress free as one could in her condition. She still died.

          Just saying.

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        • But you’re not just stating a belief. You’re holding yourself out as a healer. You’re encouraging people to accept your theory as valid by saying patently false things like emotions can be measured in Hertz.

          Our current mental health system is appalling. It’s unscientific and unhelpful and costs way too much. Yes, we need change but change for the better.

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        • Thank you both for you input, I do appreciate your honesty and your perspectives. I’m glad we all agree that we don’t have to agree.

          Still, I continue to do my personal work and my ongoing training diligently, and I have loyal clients and students who have done extremely well working with me. That–plus feeling good about it all, in general–is all I need as evidence. Nothing else required. Thanks again.

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          • Alex,

            I don’t mean to be a PIA about this but how do you know someone has done well working with you? For example, if they have diabetes and you feel they no longer have it due to your work together, do you have them take consistent readings on their glucometer as verification that they have improved?

            By the way, this isn’t about being resistant to alternative ideas. As someone diagnosed with sleep apnea, I realize that many people can’t tolerate cpap treatment and instead will seek oral appliance therapy.

            No respectable sleep medicine dentist would let a patient skip a sleep study that measures apneas to confirm the appliance is working and let them judge things by their subjective feelings. They will want proof it is working.

            I bring up this particular example because I wish I had a nickel for everyone who felt they didn’t have sleep apnea and turned out to have it big time. If they had depended on their subjective feelings, their health would have continued to deteriorate.

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          • That’s a good question–how do I measure the success of my work as a healer?

            One way is to go by the testimonials I’ve received over the years, last one was posted a few weeks ago–


            Another way is that many with whom I’ve worked keep me posted on how they’re doing, usually by email. That’s been ongoing for years with some. I really enjoy the exchanges I have with former clients/students. That keeps me very well-informed of how well we did working together.

            (Btw, it’s their work, really. I just give them information, feedback, and tools, but they’re the ones responsible for applying it. I believe that whatever healing occurs is a manifested together, between the healer and the client).

            I tend to see people for a limited amount of time, because I don’t believe in ongoing counseling. I feel this creates dependency. I teach how to self-heal. Check ups and energy adjustments are fine, but I have a 10 week program which takes a person through the trajectory of the core shift I’m talking about, to a sense of personal freedom and unlimited possibilities.

            The third way is to believe in myself and in what I’m doing. My clients know that I’m 100% present with them, while having healthy, yet flexible, boundaries. I’ve worked on all of this over the years, as a goal.

            I’m always evolving my perspective and constantly getting new information about healing, and I integrate it all the time. Partly, I get my information from a school of healers called ‘lightworkers,’ though, not from anything traditionally medical, or even academic, really. We’re energy healers.

            I have MA and internship training as a psychotherapist, but I found that all to be terribly limited and somewhat dubious in many respects, as evidenced by this profound mental health crisis we’re in.

            The lightworker info can sound a bit new agey in rhetoric, which can come across as vague on not terribly practical, but overall, the concepts are sound, ancient wisdom that, when applied to daily experience, are quite remarkable in their effect. Again, that’s been my experience.

            So these are my measuring sticks. That, plus you can ask my partner of 29 years, who thinks I’m the most amazing healer on the planet. Then again, he is my hubby, so perhaps he’s biased. But then again still, he how I witnessed first hand how I efficiently and somewhat miraculously put myself back together again quite well, after being torn into little bitty fragments, thanks to current mental health care practices and treatment. That’s really what convinced him the most.

            Thanks for asking.

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          • But that’s not “all [you] need as evidence”! Before you tell vulnerable and frankly gullible people that their emotional energy levels are the source of their suffering, you need to subject your therapy to randomised controlled trials to compare against the placebo effect. How much are you charging these people for your work? I’m sorry if I seem hard on you but it makes very angry when I see people being taken advantage of.

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          • Alex, how do you know these people aren’t just responding to kind, caring interaction? The fact that your clients give you glowing testimonials doesn’t address that question.

            Your claim that different emotions somehow emit different levels of energy is absurd. What do you do? Take an electrical measurement of the air around somebody who’s jealous? Sad? Elated?

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          • I charge by donation. I ask a client to consider their current financials, and we agree on this together. I don’t believe that healing is about science. It’s a way more creative endeavor than being guided by ‘studies’ would offer, imo.

            I don’t take advantage of gullible people. That statement would be more demeaning to my clients than having anything to do with me. I remind people that they have minds of their own. If it’s in a fragmented state, then we work on this together. Everything can heal, and we’re in control of that. That’s GOOD news!

            I do appreciate all that you put forth here, although I’m getting this feeling that nothing I say in any way, shape, or form will satisfy you.

            Again, we have completely different positions as far as research and studies go. Is that the deal-breaker, here?

            A lot of really great healing work is done in the world without relying on research and studies. That’s costly and time consuming, and by the time the studies are published, things have already changed. To me, studies can be sorely misguided when it comes to healing. We’re talking about individuality, here, so why would studies be so crucial? If anything, they support what many healers already now.

            It’s more about being in present time, in full ownership and authenticity, having an open heart and mind, and allowing the healing to manifest. Takes focus and practice, but it’s in most–if not all–people to do this, if they so desire.

            Google energy, vibration, emotions, and healing, and tons of stuff will pop up. Just read it and sit with it for a few, see what you think, before blasting what I say without any foundation.

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  16. What a fabulous synopsis of a very big problem. Thank you for describing it so well. As a naturopathic doctor practicing in a state that doesn’t recognize my doctor’s training, I am not allowed to diagnose or write scripts here. In many ways, that’s a blessing! Instead, I have the opportunity to step back and explore with the people who come to see me. We can look at the connection between mental and physical health (and I have the training to be able to refer them on should anything be critical in either area), but go further into that sometimes murky, scary area of emotions, history, patterns, beliefs AND look at ways to accept, love, use and transform them.

    It scares and saddens me how many people I see on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds with virtually no supervision and/or other intervention to help restore a balance to their lives. It is a true disservice.

    I just discovered this blog and website and will certainly be back. I can see there is a wealth of information that I will be able to use each day. Thanks so much.

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  17. Thank you Dorothy. I hope everyone reads your recent blog post- “Behind Locked Doors” and your other very valuable essays on MIA. Your harrowing and inspiring story, and your wise message for us all about the need for compassionate help, is a source of constant inspiration to me.
    Love, Michael

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  18. I am a psychiatrist, who in the last few years has “seen through psychiatry” as Szaz once put it. I continue to work in the field as I have mortage to pay and kids to feed and ever increasingly try and move my clinical encounters beyond diagnosis towards the meaning of symptoms and the suffering. I was rather irked recently, when in a job appraisal, my younger and more inexperience senior doctor, starting saying, “well we know you are very good at reducing medicatio, but do you feel comfortable making a diagnosis and would you know how to start someone on medication?” Well, after floundering around for a couple of minutes, this anti-diagnostic diatriabe suddenly errupted from me… Sure I can make a diagnosis, but does that diagnosis have any validity? And does a diagnosis have any bearing on the persons actual suffering? Are you able to ask a patient, ” not what is wrong with you, but what has happened to you?”

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  19. Dr. Jeremy – Why not tackle the anti-detention and anti-label perspectives in a few articles? Encouragement like that, as well as from your brief recounting of what was surely a much more complex episode is sorely needed for us all. Since your singular overthrow of dogmatism has obviously gone all the way down, any work you were to put into writing would become as effective for personal growth as what you say you are putting emphasis on for your kids’s sake.

    I am sure it is many more people than me who take away as much transformative influence from the posts and comments here as from anywhere, too. Additionally, we have to marvel at the total result for its living proof in the connection of freedom of opinion to the pursuit of happiness. At least, if we get what that means, to express and understand and justify our beliefs credibly well, then it expands our consciousness about survival in our otherwise much degraded society.

    And thanks again, Michael for what you keep doing.

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  20. I know quite a few mental health professionals . . . a few well. I do not think the training they get in a university is particularly good. I am not sure a person can be trained for this profession intellectually. Sure a few pointers of a practical nature. But on the whole I sense that the training becomes a barrier to deep listening. How many think drugs are good idea? A bit of research would show they were not. However, in most circles a person needs to appear to believe that sometimes . . . occasionally . . . some persons. And then the unnatural 50 minute hour, plus a bunch of state rules . . . the sterile offices. The labels. The argot. No, it seems very impersonal and almost designed to create a mental illness whatever that is. Well, we know what an infected wound is. Do we have anything thing comparable for the mind? Should life be easy and comfortable? Religion as superstituti0n replaced by mental health the new superstition? Prayer by drugs. God by scientific knowledge? Etc. The whole approach is wrong yet unlikely to be replaced.

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  21. Thanks Michael . I agree that normal human emotions have become pathologised, particularly in DSM-5, but also in mainstream psychology. Another aspect of the problem, in my view, is that the right/wrong model reflects the materialist belief in an atomised world…where each thing is separate from the other. As such, the individual becomes the locus of ‘wrong’, when, in fact, the disturbance, or upset, or despair, is probably an indicator of the social milieu in which the person lives. ‘Wrong’ societies create ‘wrong’ feelings inside human creatures, particularly a society that encourages consumeristic individualism to the point of establishing widespread spiritual poverty. Of course many people feel ‘wrong’ under such circumstances. It’s a double displacement! On the one hand, not really aligned with the social script we’re encouraged to live by, therefore, out of step with mainstream society, yet, on the other hand, disjointed from the deeper spiritual self. A fringe-dweller in one’s own ontological and social landscapes. Maybe we can invent a DSM label for people who suffer in this way…Disengaged Economic Unit Disorder?

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    • It’s hard to live in a society which tells you – “you’re only responsible for yourself, no one is responsible for you”. We are programmed to believe it and people around you parrot this statement without thinking twice. In fact people are social species, we cannot exist without our social network, not only physically but first and foremost psychologically. We are responsible for other people around us and how we treat them has a profound influence on their health, happiness and well-being. But for the sociopaths who run this planet at the moment it’s not convenient to have people understand that.
      I remember I had a enlightening moment when I saw an interview with Naomi Klein on the Occupy movement. She was telling how she felt uplifted when she saw a person holding a sign saying “I care for you” and that she thought it was the most important message. At first I felt that was kind of corny, like this is the most important, really? And then I realised that she was right, indeed – that all the social and economic ills that Occupy was protesting stem from the notion that we are only supposed to care about ourselves and forget everyone else. We can’t fix anything unless we understand that we should care for one another. You can’t always help somebody else and solve their problems for them but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be trying.

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