Psychiatric Survivor Entrepreneurs


Many psychiatric survivors have created a gift economy of sorts in offering peer support, and this is by no means to criticize those offering their best guidance freely to those who desperately need it. In fact, the gift economy saved my life when it was threatened by psychiatric drugs. Most of us who have come off psychiatric pharmaceuticals relied on the generosity of other survivors who were operating in the gift. The more conventional economy alternative health systems sometime fail us and freely given peer support gives us something to be a part of, where we can give back right away, without any barriers to entry, financial or otherwise.

Yet, my entrepreneurial spirit, as chaotic and unsophisticated as it has been at times, has played a huge role in saving me from being a chronic mental patient with a chronic identity of “sick” or “failure” or “other”. I still feel the weight of all three of these words at times, but my persistence in redefining myself and reassigning value to what I offer others has allowed me to give the most back and escape psychiatry.

Please read the article, “Why You Should NOT Work in the Gift Economy” by Mirror Living, a yoga teacher, healer and gift economist. This article discusses the pitfalls of the gift economy for some, while also giving tips on how to incorporate gifting.

As a kid, I started my first entrepreneurial venture in fourth grade, selling handmade paper fans on the street with my friends. We hand colored regular paper with crayons in a checkered design, folded them into fans and stood out on the street offering them for a small amount of change, 10 cents, a quarter. When business got slow, I went to the corner store and bought a pack of gum to create a new deal, “Buy a fan get a free stick of gum!” For 10 cents, a 5 cent piece of gum and a paper fan that took about a half hour to make by a child, was in fact a great deal!

I wasn’t selling these fans for pocket change, or even for something to do with my friends. I was selling them because I wanted to be somehow part of the flow of the economy; I wanted an adult with a pocketbook to value my “art” and pay me for it, in the currency they consider valuable. And a few did in fact buy our fans.

I bring this up because many psychiatric survivors may receive government funding or have a job in the system or get money from their family and not necessarily need to sell their art or services to sustain themselves (though let’s face it, most are living in extreme poverty, and a higher income would make a huge difference in quality of life and “recovery” from trauma, abuse and psychiatric warfare). In either case, for most of us, there is a need to have our offerings valued by society, even if it starts out in very small ways. For people who work within the system, or elsewhere, at a J. O. B., great, I just happen to be more excited about the emergence of PSEs, Psychiatric Survivor Entrepreneurs.

Like many undervalued and oppressed groups such as women, immigrants, people of color, and differently abled people of all kinds, as psychiatric survivors we tend to downplay our offerings and have trouble expressing our worth in standard societal terms. After all, we were told that we not only didn’t have value, but were a burden on the mainstream as our talents expressed themselves in sensitivity, extreme feelings and “anti-social” behaviors others didn’t like or considered bizarre.

The same is true for many creative entrepreneurs, even the most successful ones, especially the most successful ones. It’s an age old truth that our genius lies in our madness; I have met some of the smartest people, the wisest prophets and the greatest healers in my work with psychiatric survivors over the years. Many of these people are fairly unknown and undiscovered. The question is not whether we have value to contribute to society, though of course many stay stuck internalizing the psychiatric oppression that they don’t for many years, or even their entire lives for those who over-identify as chronically mentally ill.

It breaks my heart to see so many in our community living in dire poverty, even those who clearly have copious amounts of value for others. I have seen this class/status/social standing piece divide the activist movement: those who have moved out of oppressive systems to a large degree, “above,” and those for whom financial insecurity and lack contributes to depression, anxiety and despair, “below”.

Psychiatric survivors who know they have important things to share with the world, in any capacity, need to GO FOR IT; participate in the mainstream economy and offer your gifts for a good amount. It may take awhile to transition off of SSI and food stamps, but I believe that is a good goal for those who aspire to it. My own transition was scary and at times overwhelming; I had days I was wrought with despair that I had so little money and financial security. It angered me from a very deep place that as a woman, “mad person”, healer, intuitive, visionary, writer and artist, I was caught in a negative feedback loop of feeling unworthy, unappreciated and stuck hiding what I could give because it scared me so much to be seen. There are many millions of people out there like me who have been labeled useless by society, who have so much value for all of us.

Before that I also used government money as a “salary,” though small, to support others in withdrawal, and for those doing the same, great, AND I’d like to see you making more money, being more integrated into “success culture,” to fully and thoroughly leave behind the outcast identity.

The current economic system is not a great one, most of us can agree to that, but it is the one we have at the moment and as people labeled “mad”, one of the best ways to integrate our vision into mainstream culture is to have them pay us for it. Because it isn’t really about us and them; there’s never been a certain group of crazy people and other normal people who are functioning better. This is a myth that is held in place by financial inequality. As people are valued financially and socially, the “crazy” identity no longer holds them down, and they are then able to give back to those most in need of the innovative ideas and ways that made them crazy in the first place (the genius in their madness).

The good news is you can move from “crazy weirdo living on the fringes” to valued visionary who connects the dots for others, bringing them relief, peace, joy, inspiration and magic, all of the things we humans value the most. I look forward to seeing a new category of consultants, coaches and healers emerge from the psychiatric survivor pool, who learn to offer their gifts in the mainstream economy, for an amount they can live well on, because we will be some of the most important game changers out there. We also have latent business skills many haven’t discovered yet being trapped in “peer roles” for so long.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the peer support model. I love friendship, community and free giving and receiving from fellow humans, but I think many of us are too good at that, at the expense of our own health and thriving, and at the expense of making a larger difference in the world by being more visible in the standard mainstream economy. We do need money, the great majority of us, especially to heal from psychiatric abuse, and I’m excited to see us step into professional roles where we are visible to more people.

Being visible can be terrifying. Saying I am charging money for something that challenges the pharmaceutical industry can make me feel not only vulnerable to criticism and ridicule, but scared for my life. I got this comment on reddit yesterday: Dude she is an anti-med herb healer whose endorsed by an esthetician with some kind of PhD. If you want some non-med ways to fight psychosis there are some good ones by science professors with schizophrenia,” (and wanted to correct their grammar-it’s who’s not whose).

The witch hunt still exists as a consciousness within most of us. Offering healing and guidance that isn’t backed yet by corporate “science” is scary; we have been killed for it, we could easily be ostracized for redefining science, for snatching it back as what it originally meant, from the Latin, scire and then scientia: to know, assurance of knowledge, certitude, certainty. Not to guess and present hypothesis as fact, but to know. I’ve always felt an affinity with the word science, and hurt by how it is misused, because what do we know? We know what we know, knowledge is mystical and mysterious more than it is based on measurable phenomenon. Perhaps we don’t truly know anything and “science” is a moving target that each person must define for themselves, in each moment, incorporating every part of reality they have access to, including the intuitive and ineffable. Science incorporates a lot more feeling and sensing than “modern science” would like to allow for, and it’s this type of knowing that has helped me most as a psychiatric survivor, entrepreneur and business owner.

If you are a psychiatric survivor, please share what has and hasn’t worked for you in creating a reality that is healthy for you while also giving your best to those who will benefit. We can all learn from each other and support each other in the gift, when it feels right, while also sustaining and celebrating ourselves by charging for our services in the regular old economy, the one we need to live in right now to spread our message of hope to the billions who need it.

You’re invited to join the Facebook group Psychiatric Survivor Entrepreneurs for a mutually supportive environment and to discuss these topics, and who knows, maybe even meet a business partner or get an idea.


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. This is an important topic and one I struggle with. I see my work as service and feel that it’s important that some measure of it will always be offered freely.

    I personally believe that there are many different sorts of alternate economies…what you are calling the gift economy being just one. I have not found a way to directly make money via my work and there have been times when I worked up to 80 hours a week for no monetary compensation whatsoever…(no I don’t do that sort of madness anymore)…people do donate from time to time but it’s remains a very small amount in comparison to the hours worked and is not nearly enough to support oneself.

    So yes, something I often think about as I slowly re-enter the world.

    One thing is that I do see evidence of a universe that is deeply and profoundly supporting me and I am simply letting this unfold at this point…I’ve been getting my needs met in the most amazing ways…I simply don’t have expectations of where my healing comes from anymore…certainly I only “pay” with money for a tiny fraction of the support the universe offers me when it comes to my healing journey.

    With that in mind I have been able to more freely give, but also more freely make boundaries to keep myself healthy because I trust now that as I move into this sort of consciousness that things will continue to flow.

    I’m well aware that this sounds like crazy woo…but it’s my experience and it’s happening. It seems to be happening to others I communicate with as well…I sometimes think of the bible quote: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

    Neither my partner nor I have had a meaningful income for quite a while. I’m aware of my privilege in that we live in our own home and my basic needs are met. Still we need an income to maintain this stuff and things have been working out one way or another…even while being on the edge for several years now…

    I like Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics. Finding that economy is individual…just like everything else…we all find it in different ways and there is no one way to get keyed into ti…here’s something I posted on that

    I’m still learning how to make this all work…and it’s trial and error as much as anything else. I continue to have my donation button and my Amazon affiliate buttons on Beyond Meds because that too counts and I do need to eat.

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    • Thanks for your reflections Monica, and thanks for reading. I do believe that most of what I offer will always be “free” as well. It’s interesting to use the word free, as most of what I freely offer, I actually offer *to* free- to free ideas and parts of myself and others, and it doesn’t feel like an option, but a requirement in order to stay here in this world. My body and mind will completely revolt against me if I don’t give what I have.
      Money is only a possible vehicle for freedom, and will never be freedom itself. But I think what you mean by “free” is “at no cost,” which I understand. I still offer most of my work at no cost too and spend many many hours per week working on things to share with the world simply because I must, and I do so without thoughts of money or compensation or even personal acknowledgement.
      I definitely hear you about being supported in unexpected ways as I have experienced that too! I’ve been “paid” in all kinds of ways including free vacations, housing, travel, publicity, food, and most importantly faith and peace of mind of knowing I am on a path and the Universe is holding me and guiding me.

      Who cares if some people call that woo? 🙂

      I agree with you that having a home makes a big difference. In the past five + years of financial struggle (until recently when I have been stepping out of that), the very worst part has been not having a stable home. There are so many ways that impacts my emotions as a sensitive person ranging from not having privacy, having unreasonable demands made on me, having to smell cigarettes/pot/perfume/cologne all the time, constant anxiety of not knowing what to expect day to day…I could list the stresses of not being a homeowner forever. Even having a huge amount of faith that I was on a path and the universe was holding me didn’t resolve any of those problems enough. Having money does make a big difference in at least knowing you have some options.
      I hear you, though, that even with a home there are many other expenses.

      I love Charles Eisenstein’s work and Sacred Economics was like a bible to me a couple of years ago. What I didn’t take into account entirely, though, was that it was coming from a well off, Ivy League educated, upper middle class, married white male home owner. For his soul, surely he needed to offer some things at no cost. That isn’t to discount its profound wisdom and transcendent value, which can’t be spoken of highly enough…yet I think what Charles needed in order to support his soul was somewhat the opposite of what I have needed. And as you say, we each have a unique path, so only you can know what you need.

      Reading the article I linked to above by Mirror Living helped me to put these things into perspective and not feel as though I was “not living in a sacred economy” just because I was charging a reasonable amount for my time (while still working most of my time to serve others without charging at all). Curious what your take was on that article if you had a chance to read it?

      I’ve noticed a sacred economy has unfolded in my business as well, especially since I have been charging an amount I can actually live on. The clients that have come to me have been so appreciative and I have been able to give them so much. I have felt a profound sense of soul connection and “soul contract” with them that doesn’t feel all that different from the “gift economy” to be honest. I go into almost complete timeless, faith and trust when working with people, and charging an amount I can live on has allowed me to do that.

      I wrote this article to reach out to others who might happen to have a similar path as mine, where income in the form of money can help to balance us and give us what we need while we give others what they need.

      I will be curious to hear more about your unfolding journey with money and/or the alternative economies.

      Also curious, Monica, what you think of this little bloglet I wrote:

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      • I didn’t actually use the word free…I don’t like that word given it’s overused and tends to devalue valuable work and I therefore avoid using it. I used the adjective freely…which is different in my mind…of course it would most likely be better to come up with a different term.

        The fact is a lot of the folks that really need our help are not only poor, they also suffer from emotional injuries that simply make monetary transactions more complicated. Frankly I think I suffer from that as well. The fact is what we need is love and when we’re talking about our mental health we don’t want to have to pay for something that is our inheritance (again LOVE)…for me this is part of the problem…

        by the way, I have no issue with you or anyone (including me) charging for our work. I will certainly be doing that in some ways in the future…I am letting things unfold, as I said. All I said was that some measure of my work would be given freely…not all of it and sometimes maybe not most of it…balance and being in alignment with that is right for us right now supersedes all else.

        I’ll try to take a look at your other articles later. I’m on hiatus (mostly) from blogging etc and I have a commitment this afternoon.

        It’s nice “chatting” with you.

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    • Dear Monica,

      You write: sounds like crazy woo…but it’s my experience and it’s happening. It seems to be happening to others I communicate with as well…I sometimes think of the bible quote: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

      Which reminds me of the sense of oneness & Biblical metaphor that springs intuitively to mind whenever I undergo a spontaneous experience of the rapture! An experience I often made the mistake of reports to mental health professionals who, in their economic need to survive, dismissed it as psychotic.

      Yet, as I’ve commented below, I have the strong feeling that we are, in fact, involved in an historical shift in human self-awareness which will see us make natural sense of the hidden green language (as the esoteric’s put it) in the Biblical narrative. Mystical mountains and interior caves, being the obvious way that the great mystery of our cosmic reality, is cloaked in images of external reality.

      With my own sense of oneness echoing the Biblical sense of I am, so poetically expressed by a well known victim of psychiatric confusion about the human condition: I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am. ―Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

      While on that famous mystical mountain attained by Moses, a dialogue with Ultimate Reality (God) brought forth a famous quotation about humanity’s exodus from Africa:

      Moses at the Burning Bush
      …13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.…

      The question being, is the current day confluence of spirituality & science, bringing the prophecy of the resurrection (how the body creates the mind) into sight? With an implicit understanding of HOW we are the Universe evolved into a form which is perceiving and acting upon itself.

      The purpose of life resolved, with the secure sense that our children’s children’s children, will go on to populate our Milky Way Galaxy. While in terms of suffering the profound mental dis¬ease labelled as illness, Carl Jung points out in The Red Book, how we have always suffered for the sake of the future.

      If you are familiar with the rituals of the Christian Palm Sunday, I am suggesting that there is much about our internal nature, hidden in the narrative of an obvious sense of external reality. “They took of their cloaks,” suggesting a laying down of the veil of consciousness?

      Warm regards,

      David Bates.

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  2. Chaya, I very much appreciate what you say, here, because I’m one of those entrepreneur, and the fee thing has been such a conflicting issue for me over the years.

    What I charge has varied so much, and is usually the result of an agreement made between me and client, based on their financial situation. I always call it a donation, though, because I don’t want people to feel that if they can’t afford what I set as a fee, then I’m not available to them. Of course I am, so I say pay whatever you’re comfortable paying. To me, it’s a ‘gratitude donation,’ and I receive it as such.

    Then there’s the part of my practice which I really enjoy doing as a volunteer, and I do this robustly because it feels so good, and it makes me feel abundant. Including my film, which I’ve always only offered as a public service, I’ve made no money on it, yet it changed my life as though I had made millions, seriously. It allowed me to be free and retire from the oppressive rat race so that I could do my own thing, total freedom. Given that the film was about truth speaking as way to heal, and calling out injustice, stigma and discrimination, I feel the universe has validated me big time. I made it with no money, while on disability, and I’ve been rewarded in all ways that were truly transforming in every way. Still amazing to think about, and trace how all that occurred–a series of miracles, really.

    That’s the power of energy, as we can achieve abundance simply from knowing how to focus in a way that creates it. That’s part of my healing program, how to connect with our stream of abundance, we all have it. It’s just that all this trauma and illusion has cut us off from it because it made us feel dependent, that was part of the program we were given. ‘Abundance’ is a really powerful spiritual energy, which transcends ‘money.’

    While I try to keep from being taken advantage of and drained from too much giving and not enough receiving, at the same time, I know the universe has my back and pays me. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve done pro bono healing work for someone in need, and within a week, something really spectacular comes to me, often a check from another source I had not expected. That’s happened more than a few times. It’s pretty awesome to experience this, because I feel as though I’m being well taken care of, whether I charge or not.

    Although still, I think it’s important to have mutual energy exchange, so even charging $5 is symbolic of this, so there is a sense of an exchange taking place, which I feel is sound, especially in healing. A healer utilizes a lot of energy on the behalf of the client, and that does need to be replenished, somehow.

    Although I did take pause with this sentiment:

    “The good news is you can move from ‘crazy weirdo living on the fringes’ to valued visionary who connects the dots for others, bringing them relief, peace, joy, inspiration and magic, all of the things we humans value the most.”

    Isn’t this really in the eye of the beholder? Our identity is based on how we feel about and perceive ourselves, not on labels or on what others perceive or interpret, based on our own personal or business practices. We can’t really help or control what others project, and we do live in such a judgmental and stigmatizing society, where one tends to shoot first and never asks questions. The words you use here are a perfect expression of very dangerous stigma, as it is totally disregarding of a person’s humanity, which makes them extremely vulnerable to abuse and degradation. I know that’s what we’re trying to eradicate, so I wanted to include this here.

    Overall, though, I believe our new generation of healers and teachers has an opportunity to go way outside the box, and create an entirely new model of business. I ran businesses for the first 20 years of my working life, so I know how it’s done, and I know what it implies by today’s business standards.

    But I don’t run my business the same way, not at all, because I don’t want to fall into the same power dynamics which can easily come with money, and that does screw things up, from my experience, especially when it comes to healing. I’ve had paying clients try to hold money over me as a way of control and manipulation, which is when I know they need lessons in humility and gratitude, that would be healing to a person who does this. When I see a dangling carrot, I’m actually seeing a red flag, that would be how I perceive it.

    Anyway, just some thought I wanted to offer, my whole process around this, in fact. I think it’s important, because it’s part of the emerging new world of healing. How do we want to do things better than they’ve been done before? is always my question as I continue to evolve and expand my practice.

    Thank so much for bringing this up, it’s giving me some new thoughts on the matter. This issue has been never-ending with me! Money is fine, I don’t have a problem with it, per se, but I really hate our collective *attachment* to money, I must confess, as this renders us powerless, in the end. Like anything else, money is just energy. Abundance, however, is part of our spirit, so we’re entitled to it, always.

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    • I kept thinking about this as I was just now running some errands, and what formulated for me as I processed this is that, really, what we tend to perceive as odd or weird or fringy could actually be truth and light, in its purest form. After all, we’ve all been so media-programmed as a society to conform, that even being non-conforming could actually be more out of hostility and resentment, rather than truly allowing ourselves to be who we really are. That’s our rebellion, but not necessarily our light.

      Of course, that fear of being different does rear its ugly head occasionally, when we are not feeling our own love. So really, what mainstream calls ‘weird’ is really the new normal, when we honor the truth of our diversity.

      A sick society (as per Krishnamurti’s quote) looks just like what we see around us daily, in neat and tidy ‘polite’ language and power dressing to impress and intimidate–cookie cutter, Stepford Wives type thing. That’s corporate, and also brown shirt Fascism. No diversion from the accepted norm, no creativity, no individuality, etc., which is what makes the system so toxic.

      So I imagine that a healthy society would look completely different–perhaps weird and odd and fringy, from a mainstream point of view. If I were to be viewed this way, I’d consider myself triumphant in accomplishing full separation and identification with anything mainstream, which would be my goal. I do have a very normal, grounded, and productive life, so that perception of me would only validate that I’m off the mainstream radar, which is really a heavy burden lifted.

      I thought of all this because I feel what would make the new professional society novel would actually be the incredible diversity. If no one looks weird, then there is neither diversity, tolerance, or freedom in that culture, and only more of the same societal oppression, expectations, and dualistic judgment. I think that definitely, we want to distinguish ourselves from this.

      In theater, I learned about permission, which allows everyone to be themselves, we give permission for everyone’s process and spirit. It’s why actors and performers can be so incredibly creative while being courageously vulnerable, displaying their soul for audiences. That’s incredibly empowering.

      That’s what my healing business is based on. I don’t ever at all expect someone to aspire to my life, energy, or path. I help them find the connection to their own heart, path, spirit, and authentic personality. We’re often quite surprised when we unmask ourselves, perhaps often, more surprised than those around us. That’s great growth!

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      • “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” In a way, Chaya, we are the Christ – like, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it,” it seems you agree, Alex? And trusting in God to provide is something some of us, likely because God knows it is important to help those being abused, are thankfully blessed with. Although I agree, Chaya, “The worker deserves his wages.” I, too, need to be paid for my time at this point.

        And it does seem our society is dealing with “class wars” right now. It strikes me that there is a “divide and conquer” historic war mentality going on within the US today – the so called “professionals” against everyone else. And the level of economic injustice in the US today is shameful.

        The Nobel prize was given to a schizophrenic who came up with a “game theory” that allows the financial industry to basically rationalize that it’s morally acceptable to believe that life is nothing more than a game of Monopoly, that one may cheat at. Which, of course, is commensurate with John D. Rockefeller’s theory that “competition is a sin.” That philosophy is un-American. Competition is what made this country great.

        But in as much as I do personally agree with the “Beautiful Mind” of that schizophrenic, that all is connected, his “game theory” is insane. Life is more than a game of Monopoly, but it strikes me a “schizophrenic” might sell out, to get his reputation back via a Nobel Prize, by spewing the BS of the unethical monied interests.

        It’s the money worshipers against the kind hearted, at least that was my experience in regards to being stigmatized, and it does seem to be a problem worldwide. I just wasn’t personally expecting it to be a religion my family had made and gave millions to, to be the people who actually drugged me for belief in the Holy Spirit and God, although it is an historically Germanic religion. And the pastor who betrayed me personally was of Russian decent.

        And I come from an ethical American banking family, so to me it seems our society’s problem is we’ve seemingly been taken over by the now claimed to be “too big to fail banks” that our founding fathers warned us of:

        “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered…I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”

        I absolutely agree, Chaya, that we all deserve payment for our time. We are living in a society seeming now controlled by those who the US founding fathers warned us about, and the Holy Bible does warn us that their goal of a “New World Order,” not brought about by God, will be an evil one.

        What do those of us who were attacked, and don’t buy into our seemingly money only worshipping society do? We help each other for free initially, especially as the psychiatric industry’s newest fraudulent eugenics theories that promote the divide and conquer historic war theories, are propagandized throughout our country.

        It strikes me that 9.11.20o1 really was a war against the decent within America who formerly ethically controlled this country. And the psychiatric industry is still controlled and functioning for the psychopathic humans who want to control the entire world unjustly.

        Forgive me, I don’t know if any of that makes sense, I’m still trying to understand what seems to be the almost complete destruction of my country and it’s monetary system, while I was drugged.

        I believe we need to convince the world not to buy into psychiatry’s divide and conquer defamatory theology, and go back to the Christian theology of “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” instead. What kind of sick society believes a book of stigmatizations is a “bible’?

        No offense, but it is possible that if there is a God, that He was angry with a nation that inadvertently elected a president whose family had financed WWII, and seemingly has adopted a book of stigmatizations as a “bible,” while hypocritically claiming they are still a Christian nation.

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        • Haha…interesting line of thought Someone Else. I especially like the last part:

          What kind of sick society believes a book of stigmatizations is a “bible’?

          No offense, but it is possible that if there is a God, that He was angry with a nation that inadvertently elected a president whose family had financed WWII, and seemingly has adopted a book of stigmatizations as a “bible,” while hypocritically claiming they are still a Christian nation.

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    • That’s awesome Alex. It sounds like the gift economy works really well for you. I can relate with the sense that the Universe is taking care of me…I guess though, recently one of the ways the universe took care of me was by telling me to charge more for my offerings. I kept getting nudges in that direction. That’s great if your path is different…I have no attachment to there being one way of doing things and I think both can be sacred. I only want to encourage those who never considered charging for their gifts to realize they can be valued in the “mainstream” economy.
      I’m recently learning a lot more about how financial transactions, with money, can be sacred. For example, imagine a wealthy white male CEO paying a low income single mother of 5 kids $1000 to teach him how to make a good meal or grow vegetables in his yard. That was a fantasy I had this morning of how money can be a vehicle for a sacred exchange.
      As for “crazy weirdo living on the fringes,” it’s in quotes for a reason. Not to stigmatize anyone living outside the mainstream economy, but actually to de-stigmatize being different. And one way to de-stigmatize being unique, is to remove its association with poverty. I’m sorry if that cam across as stigmatizing to you. I certainly didn’t mean it that way. I believe we should be able to continue to be as “crazy” and weird as we are while still valuing what we offer, so I’m not suggesting anyone has to conform in order to make a living, in fact quite the opposite. And for those who have no interest in money at all, that’s fine too.
      I do believe that at this particular stage of evolution, money can help our movement to move from fringe to front and center in the public eye…and that is my main goal because so many more people need our message and I don’t want anything to hold our truth back.
      I really appreciate your thoughts about a while new way of doing business and healing. I do agree we need to re-create business in ways that work, and those are quite individual to each person. I honor you for creating your own unique ways.

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      • One other thought Alex… I do believe one way to do what you are suggesting (diversifying professionalism…if I understand correctly) is exactly what I am talking about in this article. I’m not sure if that came across, but it was my intention. Plus I think “craziness” always exists to liberate something…and to liberate, I believe is the highest form of service. I would like to see society value most highly what is in fact most valuable. This would give me a profound sense of “sanity” or living in a real world. I think that might be why it feels so healing to me to witness financial transactions that put high monetary value on liberation/healing arts. It is a visible/tangible expression of a truth.

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  3. Excellent article, and great idea! I have long believed that earning our “daily bread” doing things that have nothing to do with who we truly are is a big part of why life is so unsatisfying for so many. I’m reminded of a quote by Wilhelm Reich:

    Love, work and knowledge are the well-springs of our life. They should also govern it.

    I would also love to join the Facebook group you have started. I have some things I am working on along these lines myself, will look forward to sharing some of them.

    Thanks for posting this.

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  4. Another good essay CHAYA, in our common need to clarify what is actually happening, beyond the headline seeking debates.

    A long time ago, a character created to personify the story of the human condition, suggested we stay in love with each other and not worship false idols. While modern science, in studying human development from the inside-out, suggests that the REAL human economy is within us. That is the innate vitality affects which create health, happiness and a bonded feeling of safety, so vital for our children’s hearts to bloom.

    In shifts the mental health debate towards a sense of a “continuum of human experience,” should we confront the paradox that our human anatomy has not changed in the last 40,000 years, let alone the last 4,000, while we all exhibit the delusional impression, that the changing objects of modernity, have created a change inside us? As Jimi Hendrix famously said “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will be transformed.”

    That transformation is happening right now, as we face the reality of our urban landscapes of survival economies, masquerading as society. With groups like Psychiatric Survivor Entrepreneurs for a mutually supportive environment, involved in a shift in our common perception of what society will look like in 22nd century A.D.

    Imagine, health and happiness being felt as more valuable commodities, than the objects of survival we consider essential to quality of life? IMO there is a realization coming, involving the level of self-ignorance that we simply take for granted, as the dichotomy of being human. All of us reaching our common adulthood, having long forgotten the early experience of life, which wasn’t defined so much by sight, sound and language. But by the NATURE of being alive, that we all have in common, beyond our competitive needs for the false object resource’s, of health & happiness.

    As a Psychiatric Survivor Entrepreneur, I see my own task, as articulating my sense of a looming generational change, as science and spirituality converge, to further illuminate the darkness of our habitually taken for granted, human behaviors. Hoping to broaden discussion about, The Paradox of Modernity.7 In which, material wealth and a poverty of self-awareness, is creating a pressure for human self-realization, which will see an intuitive prophecy realized:

    If the human race survives, future men will, I suspect, look back on our enlightened epoch as a veritable age of Darkness. They will presumably be able to savor the irony of the situation with more amusement than we can extract from it. The laugh’s on us. They will see that what we call ‘schizophrenia’ was one of the forms in which, often through quite ordinary people, the light began to break through the cracks in our all-too-closed minds. -R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience

    Warm regards

    David Bates.

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  5. Chaya, It’s Cheryl from San Francisco. I’m glad you’re not using your assets to market drugs to doctors. I think we are going to see many opportunities in fields like healthcare and educational software for people who are sensitive and creative, as they can see what needs are not being met, and devise creative solutions.

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  6. Psych survivors could form a voting block, and start making demands for change. If we want more community housing, instead of people being sent to expensive hospitals when deemed to be in crisis, then this is something to demand. A house manager, renting a house and charging for the room, board, and other services provided, like counseling, nutrition counseling, meditation, massage, yoga classes, etc., can eventually save enough to put a down-payment on a house and pay a mortgage. If state or city laws allow such houses to be provided for psychiatric survivors, great. If not, open houses for the sober-living community, as in, street drugs or alcohol rehab. (Why is it ok in some places to provide housing for people who were street drug addicts, but not for people getting off psych drugs?) We can ask these questions of legislative representatives, and ask them to change laws. We can ask for help acquiring houses, we can ask for government contracts to run houses, and to get occupants who would otherwise be sent to hospitals, which are far more expensive. A hospital may charge $5,000 per day; a house might charge $500 a day, depending on the level of difficulty and legal risk in taking on the category of occupant. A hospital may charge $10,000 for a ten day stay; a house might charge $2,000. A group of survivors can provide all services, and get salaries, and a career path, with them eventually becoming a house manager, with a house they buy.

    Another route to independence, I’ve just learned of the growing heart monitoring field. Become an EKG tech, as I just did, get a job reading EKGs at $18 an hour, (there’s a class near San Francisco for $400, with books and exam for about $230, in six weeks you’re ready to work, and they are hiring); then become a supervisor at maybe $45,000 a year, and look for other opportunities beyond that. The medical field is growing.

    Community colleges that train people in computer programming are good, too.

    I know someone who went to college for two years, studied computer programming, and was soon making $120,000 a year.

    Psych survivors should not exclude themselves from any field. With 50,000,000 Americans on psychiatric drugs, I’d say psych survivors must be working in every field and every job in America. It’s time for psych survivors to see themselves as the norm, not the exception.

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