Creating Alternatives to the Medical Model


Last year I visited the United States on a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to explore ‘alternative routes to mental health recovery’ and to visit a range of peer-led, alternatives to the medical model, with the aim of using the knowledge gained to help develop alternatives in the UK. During my 2 month stay, I visited a range of organisations in the US – including the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community, the Icarus Project, Parachute NYC, Soteria Alaska, the National Empowerment Center and the Wellness Co-op – and  I am extremely grateful to all those I met for the time they spent with me. Looking back, all the organisations and services I visited came about because groups of people in the US decided they wanted something different to conventional mental health services, and then decided to work to make that dream a reality. My trip enabled me to see that developing and receiving funding for alternatives to conventional mental health services is not easy – but it is possible.

One of the key questions I had was ‘how do we turn an idea for an alternative to conventional mental health services into reality’? From the visits and conversations I had in the US, it seems that there are several steps:

  • Bring together a group of people who want to develop an alternative to conventional mental health services and have regular meetings.
  • The group should develop a vision – focusing on what is wanted, not what isn’t. For example, rather than saying  ‘a non-medical model crisis house (respite) as an alternative to admission to hospital’ say ‘a crisis house (respite) where people experiencing extreme distress, confusion or altered states can stay and receive emotional support’.
  • For funding reasons the group of people should be in the same geographical area (in England this could be the Clinical Commissioning Group areas, if state funding is desired).
  • The group should be open to all who share the vision.
  • Be prepared for conflict and power issues in the group, and have means of sensitively handling this (such as Intentional Peer Support).
  • Be prepared that it may take years to develop a new alternative to conventional mental health services and there are likely to be setbacks and disappointments on the way.
  • Be prepared that some compromises may have to be made in order to get the end goal.
  • Develop a proposal for the crisis house, or other alternative mental health service, in advance, rather than waiting for grants to be announced.
  • Remember it is possible to cause change!
Jim Gottstein’s Transformation Triangle


Since returning home, I have been working with others in South West England to put these steps into action. In April we organised an event, ‘Choices in Approaches – creating a local alternative to conventional mental health services,’ which was well attended. From this event, several action groups were formed – one focused on developing a local crisis house (respite); others about Soteria approaches and Open Dialogue; and another action group, inspired by Jim Gottstein’s Transformation Triangle, focused on changing public attitudes around mental health. As part of this, several public events are being organised. The first of these is a public screening of the film ‘Beyond the Medical Model,’ created by the Western Massachusetts Recovery Leaning Community, and the second is a public talk by Mad in America Foreign Correspondent Rufus May. More information about all of these activities can be found here. If anyone wishes to help with, or be involved in the work going on in South West England (either in person or virtually) please get in touch.


Further reading

For more information see the full report of my Travelling Fellowship to the US and the blog of my trip.


  1. “Conventional” mental health purporting to present a “medical” model of “care” is one gigantic failure. It has destroyed the lives of countless individuals. The mental “death” “professionals” providing these “services” are out of touch with the concept of humanistic care and healing. ANY alternative would be an improvement! Kudos to anyone with a medical background that is aware that what has been done is largely useless, traumatizing, or injurious.

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    • Honestly, even no alternative would be an improvement because in my humble opinion they do more harm than good. But of course it’s awesome that people like Tamasin are doing great job in creating real help for people in distress.

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  2. One key alternative to the ersatz Medicine of their propaganda machine is the Medical one.

    As part of the pharmaceutical companies taking control of Psychiatry between 1954 and 1973 they suppressed the work being done in testing for biochemical problems and treating them. After 1973 they have had no “Medical model,” everything, every word, phrase and statement is corporate propaganda.

    The intentional suppression of the legitimate doctors and biochemists concerned with chemotherapy in Psychiatry centered on employing bio familiar chemicals (in distinction to halogenated neurotropic drugging chemicals) was a key move in their strategy and helps to form their entire fraud.

    This key element in the history of their strategic actions is woefully left out of reviews of what has happened and the situation at hand by Robert Whitaker, Peter Breggin, M.D., Thomas Szasz, M.D. and others.

    This is not only a gross omission, but seriously handicaps opposition personelle.

    The opposite of fraudulent conman Medical treatment is not a humane, holistic, non reductionist, non-Medical approach. The obvious immediate opposite to fraudulent Medicine is not fraudulent Medicine.

    Possibly a key source of this Achilles heel (of not being able to state that they are not employing the Medical model) is TOXIC Psychiatry by Peter Breggin, M.D.

    The book very much emphasizes the false, cul-de-sac, dichotomy. In the book there is Biological Psychiatry (consisting of the drug, ECT and psychosurgery promoters) and those who expose their harm, manipulations and propaganda who are for non-Medical psychosocial approaches to what are not illnesses and are rather overwhelm.

    A reference to “adrenechrome” on page 110 of TOXIC Psychiatry is a (extremely rigged) reference to the Abram Hoffer, M.D. and the biochemical Psychiatrists who were suppressed by the NIMH and APA (and drug companies) in 1973.

    This crafted statement dismisses the history of their work and its suppression from any consideration — without referencing their names, and without giving a reference.

    “Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s investigators continued to report the discovery of causative substances in the blood of schizophrenics.” “The 1959 American Handbook of Psychiatry held out much hope for these and other blood factors, noting that they were “being explored intensively in schizophrenia, and that the next few years should give decisive answers concerning their relevance.” Nowadays, taraxin, adrenochrome, and the like don’t get passing mention in textbooks.”

    Where is the logic in that! He is illuminating the false actions of psychiatry, its propaganda, though-out the book. But since these do not get passing mention in “their textbooks” we as well should never give them a moments interest either.

    This is anti-rational, just as stating that they are full of manipulative propaganda and then stating that people should only look to non-Medical approaches.

    Again as their Medical approach is in fact merely statements made by propaganda operations that is not evidence as to the value of a Medical approach. These are patent drug sellers, they have no interest in chemical imbalances or a Medical hypotheses, models or concepts, they just say those words… anosognosia, serious mental illness, side effects.

    Just words, no approach, no Model, no side in the debate.

    E. Fuller Torrey treats the suppressed biochemical Psychiatrists approximately the same in his book Surviving Schizophrenia. Peter Breggin in Talking Back to Prozac again has the same extremely anti-scholarly thing going on on the page or two where he states that the absolute only value of a special diet regime imposed on children for a label of so-called “ADHD” is the psychosocial value of having some sort of care shown by the adults (misguided though it is) and structure created for the youth. The only value is psychological.

    Thomas Szasz, M.D. also dismisses with a proclamation of wrongness. Joanna Moncrieff, M.D. leaves this out of her world view.

    So this is decide and conquer. We are supposed to oppose their drug propaganda Psychiatry while accepting that this does in fact represent the Medical approach, which needs to be replaced by using much less drugs and much more psychotherapy. We aren’t supposed to be aware of or mention the suppression of the Medical approach, we aren’t supposed to reference that information.

    Divide and conquer. Part of the information part of the truth is not to be used when fighting against the behemoth.

    In the last two decades enough has been revealed as to Psychiatry and the Drug Companies nefarious actions that it is clearly established that there is no “Medical view” as it applies to them, in contradistinction to that they have propaganda devices they employ – Daniel Burdick.

    Daniel Burdick – The DJ Jaffe Propaganda Operation



    It was known to them that the first serotonin reuptake inhibitor drug fluoxetine (3 fluorine atoms per each chemical molecule) causes suicidality by 1986 — prior to FDA marketing approval.

    Company documents revealed during litigation by Baum Hedlund Law Firm show that their SSRI patent drug causing suicidality was of immediate concern to them as to how to manage the information, not make any reference to it, spin it, keep it under managed control so as not to affect initial approval nor subsequent profiting.

    A Cure Worse Than the Disease
    Baum Hedlund

    Excerpts of Baum Hedlund’s Submitted Written Comments

    The time-line presented to the jury in the Forsyth v. Eli Lilly Trial
    Baum Hedlund

    IN the same time period that the first “SSRI” patent drug was approved by the F.D.A. for sale in the U.S. (and the pill appeared on the cover of Newsweek) the F.D.A. also banned sale – for many years – of L-Tryptophan.

    We Become Silent – Kevin Miller Documentary on CODEX
    “There are several interviews of interest, but the one that I found most interesting is an interview with a high-ranking FDA official trying to explain why the anti-depressant Prozac™ was available to the public while at the time a natural alternative, the amino acid L-tryptophan, was not. This in spite of the fact that Prozac™ has thousands of documented adverse effects, while L-tryptophan has essentially none”

    Documentary about the threat to medical freedom of choice. ‘We Become Silent: The Last Days of Health Freedom’ details the ongoing attempts by multinational pharmaceutical interests and giant food companies — in concert with the WTO, the WHO and others — to limit the public’s access to herbs, vitamins and biochemicals.


    ACNP’s Task Force Report on SSRIs and Suicidal Behavior in Youth 2004

    The Peer Review Professional Journal “Neuropsychopharmacology” published an official ACNP, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Task Force Report on SSRIs and Suicidal Behavior in Youth. This “report” was revealed to have been ghostwritten by a Medical Propaganda writing firm.

    Fredrick Goodwin, M.D. former NIMH director
    — subsequently hosted NPR National Public Radio show “The Infinite Mind”

    Stealth Marketers – Are doctors shilling for drug companies on public radio?
    By Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer

    Busted! NPR Radio Doc Fredrick Goodwin, M.D. Caught with Undisclosed Financial Ties to Big Pharma

    When Fredrick Goodwin, M.D. left the NIMH he was somewhat famous for the human experimentation they did on black and Latino adolescent boys wherein they overdosed the children on 10 mg/kg of fenfluramine




    1 Boring Old Man — Friday 10 August 2012
    The current Psychiatric Times has an odd article on a familiar topic, Robert Gibbons latest assault on the FDA Black Box Warning about suicidality in children and adolescents on antidepressants [an anatomy of deceit…]. These Gibbons papers [Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior With Antidepressant Treatment, Benefits From Antidepressants] have been reviewed here ad nauseum. They purport to be a meta-analysis of previous clinical trials of Prozac and Effexor and claim to show the drugs to be more effective than the original analyses, and to debunk the notion of suicidality, particularly in youths.

    Fluorine in your drugs – enormous effects
    Russell Blaylock, M.D.

    What Glaxo Really Thinks About Paxil for Children

    Uphill Battle Warning People of SSRI dangers
    Evelyn Pringle

    Experts Battle Over Safety and Efficacy of SSRIs
    Evelyn Pringle

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  3. Well structured and said.

    When “developing the vision” …having access to the actual information could help. Good luck with creating a respite house and such plans and ideas.

    I can add Jim Gottstein to my flawed list — I spoke to him briefly at a conference and he said he couldn’t be interested in Orthomolecular psychiatry = because his spiritual belief includes faith healing. (And that’s as far as I get with Jim in 10 years.)

    At a communciation level this information needs to include stating the obvious exclusion of this from the published literature – by good guys and bad guys alike. The treatment being similar.

    “Focusing on what is wanted, not what isn’t.” Pointing out where Robert Whitaker, Loren Mosher, Peter Breggin, Joanna Moncrieff and Daniel Fisher go in the wrong direction may not be the most persuasive, swell, make-friends-and-influence-people move, and it isn’t necessary to state – one could avoid and go around that part and try to connect.

    There is homeopathy and herbs mentioned here.

    You are probably being overly isolated from the information…

    Information at this level is also relevant to the Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs interest there. One doesn’t want to consider that everything is psychosocial and overwhelm and coping mechanisms and extreme states based on reading Breggin and Moncrieff and National Empowerment Center material. And that psychosocial support is the only card to play. This avenue blocked from sight by both psychopharm propaganda and the psychosocial theorists has additional substantive items.

    Rethinking Psychiatry – Recommended Reading

    Hyla Cass, M.D. On the Wellness Hour

    Daniel Burdick – DSM labels are syndrome labels. They are not diagnoses of Medical illness.

    Old William Walsh, Ph.D is going strong now (and he isn’t much mentioning the suppression since 1973 by Drug Psychiatry and its opponents) presenting the alternative, the Medical alternative — as the way things are going to go in the next century… “Focusing on what is wanted, not what isn’t.”

    About a Path Not Taken
    David Moyer, LCSW
    “This site is about my family’s struggle to ensure that various biological disorders that affect my son and others like him are identified and treated as effectively as possible. This site is about moving beyond mental illness by changing the assessment and treatment paradigm. Psychotropic medications should be the last alternative saved for those cases where exhaustive diagnostic procedures have failed to identify treatable biological markers. When those markers are identified and treated, less, and, in some cases no psychiatric medications will be needed.”

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  4. Within every alternative space,respite,safe house, etc. ,an effective energy healing practiti0ner should be available. Learn an effective system yourself and you will understand why. Myself I’ve learned and can recommend with confidence . It is absolutely paradigm shifting.

    Also I’ve discovered that 1200 to 3000 mg. of niacin followed by a hot mineral bath with Batherapy (not the original variety ,the kind containing lithium as one of the ingredients) with a rubdown using a luffa sponge can be life saving in various manifestations of “extreme states and or sleeplessness”. These are only verified
    by my own experiments on myself . I discovered this combination in 1977 while learning Naturapathy and doing an intense “first do no harm ” search to invent something that would keep me out of psych- institutions away from constant high dose neuroleptic use and especially away from any more electric shock “treatments.” Plus I wanted to come up with something at the time that would make it a reality that no one on earth would ever be forced to get a shock “treatment” ever again. I did read a book by Hoffer and his use of niacin. I believe my combination as stated above takes it to an even more effective level. Couldn’t get anyone to do follow up all these years . Maybe you Tamasin are the one or someone else reading this. You seem dedicated and serious in your quest.

    Years later after having my silver mercury dental fillings, root canals , removed and checked for cavitations according to Hal Huggins advanced dentistry I arrived at regained equilibrium with no more need for drugs or psychiatric interventions. Thank G-d. No more schizophrenia or bipolar or manic depression. Although these labels once assigned follow a person around all their life .I’m 67 years old now and drug free and enjoy living. I only worry about so many others especially the youngest who are now under serious attack.

    Organic fresh made raw green vegetable juicing 32 oz, per day is a great help especially during crisis.Read Robert Young’s book “Sick And Tired”. Homeopathy is also a great help. And I believe Dan Burdick’s comments and sources up above are important.

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