Inner Fire: Healing and Recovery Without Meds

Beatrice Birch
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For five years, I and others worked to create a residential healing community in Brookline, Vermont, where people could recover from debilitating and traumatic life experiences, which often lead to addiction and mental health challenges, without the use of psychotropic medications. We welcomed our first six seekers to a yearlong, therapeutic and farm-based, day program last September, and we now can report on what we have learned during this time.

First, the background to Inner Fire.

I decided to create Inner Fire after spending years working at a therapeutic residential center where our clients constantly stood before me and asked, “I hate being medicated. Isn’t there a choice?” And as these questions kept coming at me, I asked myself: “Why these questions at this time in my life?”

Previous to my working at that center, I had worked for more than 30 years in anthroposophical and alternative medical and alternative therapeutic centers in England and Europe where we never medicated people but rather assisted them to work through their challenges. I knew I could not lie to my new clients and say, “No, there is no choice. Just take your meds.”

Finally, I was moved to action after Zach committed suicide. He was the sixth person I had known who had committed suicide because he felt he had no choice. He didn’t know that there was a possibility that he could recover free from the harmful and stultifying side effects of psychotropic medications. He had experienced no progress toward his deeper healing and felt that no other choice for recovery was available… so he chose to end his suffering amidst a fog of pain.

And then I thought too of a struggling individual in his fifties who angrily stated: “I did not expect to have this kind of a life!” he had been medicated since a teenager and thus simply ‘maintained’ since then.

I was struck by how accepting many parents were, completely oblivious of the options and how they justified one way or another the loss of their offspring. “What else could they have done?”

Nevertheless, within me grew the feeling that these individuals have made a sacrifice so that we will wake-up! We are allowing our brothers and sisters to be dehumanized by the medical model. We are not machines which can be tweaked and manipulated. To be a human being is challenging and complicated. Human beings think, they feel and they do. If you know anything about the side effects of the medications, you know that over a period of time, the medications typically would disconnect any of us from our thinking, our feeling and our will.

Those striving individuals who still have a connection to their inner fire fight against this damping down and homogenizing experience. They need to be supported to engage proactively in their journey of balancing and thus healing on a deeper soul spiritual level, while tapering off their psychotropic medications.

I knew I had to take the best of my varied life experiences, find colleagues and simply offer a choice for those seeking an option to the predominant medical model in the United States.

My background

I am a practitioner of Hauschka Artistic Therapy, a three-year, full-time and medically based training which is founded on the grounds that human beings are ‘three-fold’, having a body, a soul and a spirit and each artistic medium–clay, watercolor, pastel etc.–works upon the relationship between the bodies of the human being in unique ways. Thus the artistic process specifically supports the balancing of the soul, the seat of trauma.

It is a remarkable experience to accompany individuals as through different artistic mediums, they tap untapped wells within their innermost soul and discover aspects of themselves they never knew were there. Being proactive is a key ingredient to healing: One day a client of mine south of London declared, learning of my moving away, “you can’t leave, you healed me!” My response was, “You picked up the paint brush.” Indeed, we can become addicted to cocaine, therapists and yards sales! It is essential that an individual acknowledge support but that in fact, through their engagement, they have healed themselves.

As mentioned earlier, being a human being is complicated and we have a choice as to how we respond to the challenges we meet in life. We all respond to trauma somewhere in the spectrum: for example, some of us respond to traumas by flipping out and we end up hovering, wanting at all costs to disconnect from our body of pain which has suffered such abuse. Others respond in the opposite extreme: we contract and dare not to breathe out, having to hold our self together for fear of falling apart. Such soul imbalance leads sooner or later to physical and eventually psychological imbalance. But the human being is a creator and with the right support can re-establish soul balance.

I have practiced this therapy for 35 years in medical and therapeutic centers, prisons, inner city initiatives, residential facilities and my own private practice in Europe and the United States. I have worked with people ranging from 4-86 years old wrestling with anything from cancer, angina, rheumatic conditions, and insomnia to addiction and mental/soul health issues. In Europe, I was used to working with people who weren’t taking medications, but then when I returned to United States in 1999, I developed a private practice, worked in prisons, schools, rehabilitation centers and mental health organizations in Vermont. I was astounded by the overwhelming use of psychotropic medications.

I also saw how case managers wasted so much time organizing medications rather than focusing on the client. Through the overwhelming use of psychotropic medications, these case managers, devoted to supporting struggling human beings, have gradually been pushed to the side, their gifts ignored, as they basically received the message: “we don’t need you and all your gifts and wise, heart forces, we just need you to medicate.” I have had many people working in the system applying for jobs here at Inner Fire saying how they hate what they are doing; they see the meds do not help in the long run, but they have families and bills to pay and so they have to carry on. This in itself is demoralizing.

The Philosophy of Inner Fire

The name Inner Fire captures the reality that only by rekindling and claiming our inner fire can balance and healing occur. Passivity gets us nowhere. We offer the opportunity for those who seek deep and lasting healing to engage in our yearlong, intensive program which first, by establishing the rhythm of daily, creative activities, helps to stabilize the seeker and then supports them as they begin their gradual tapering process. The program offers empowering opportunities through proactive individual and group therapies, a customized work program, a wholesome diet and detox program as well as nurturing, cultural experiences, which together with peer support, help to rebalance and to bring harmony to the distressed soul.

Inner Fire is located in a quiet valley about thirty minutes north west of Brattleboro, a dynamic and creative town in southern Vermont. Grace Brook Farm, on a dead end dirt road, surrounded by flower and vegetable gardens, where all the Inner Fire activities are held at this time, has the Grace Brook running through it which offers relief on hot summer days. Leading to the open field above the Grace Brook farmhouse, where the Inner Fire residential home will be built, are apple trees and blueberry bushes, a terraced herb garden and soon vegetable gardens. Diverse woods on this undulating land open up in the winter exposing the varied wild life. Seekers declare how reassuring, peaceful and safe they feel in such an environment.

The Program

Individuals, eighteen and over, who want to be proactively engaged in their recovery without the use of psychotropic medications, are encouraged to apply to Inner Fire. This includes those experiencing a first time “break” as well as those who desire assistance in coming off their medications or who wish to avoid medication all together.

At this time, we can only offer a day program which begins at 7 a.m. and finishes at 8:15 p.m., and the six seekers, who have been with us since last September, live in two rentals nearby.

Inner fire1

During the mornings, individuals are a part of an intentional work program in the biodynamic gardens, woods, kitchen or household. Two afternoons a week they engage in creative and supportive group sessions, including Biographical Work, Psychosynthesis and when appropriate, Hearing Voices Network. The other three afternoons, individuals participate in specific proactive therapies such as Hauschka artistic therapy (clay, watercolor, pastel), eurythmy and spatial dynamics (both forms of movement), music, speech arts, drama and massage.

Our experienced therapists and guides pool their expertise during weekly meetings focusing on each individual’s progress and regular contact is kept with our medical doctor, homeopath and psychiatrist. Evenings and weekends consist of planned social fiber-building activities such as drumming and singing, hikes and creative, cultural events aimed at nourishing the soul.

innerfire2

Our first year

During the first seven months, all but one of the seekers who arrived last September has tapered off psychiatric medications. One of our seekers is a man who, after 26 years in prison, had been proven to be innocent all along. He has withdrawn successfully from a crack cocaine habit he developed while homeless during the first years after his release. Another seeker will soon be off a very powerful benzodiazepine. “Hell warmed up” is the expression used describing the withdrawal process from this benzodiazepine; however, it has been everyone’s experience that by staying engaged in the program, surrounded by encouraging and loving people who believe in them as a creator and not a victim, that the withdrawal symptoms have not been as debilitating as expected.

I do not want to give the impression that life is a breeze here at Inner Fire, for indeed while coming off these incredibly addictive and for many, trauma inducing medications, one meets many emotions which have laid dormant: anger is a major one. Indeed, who would not be angry having ‘lost’ half a lifetime in a chemically induced fog, devoid of feeling with the inability to take up the challenges which come with simply being a human being. For some reason, we are meant to believe life should always be balanced and harmonious, that there should be no need to cry, and now a-days, if you do cry for longer than a prescribed amount of time, well there is a medication for you! At Inner Fire, we believe that crying and laughing, and we mean belly laughing, are simply ways the soul can breathe out, which is part of the emotional digesting and healing process.

At Inner Fire, we are very fortunate to have a highly respected psychiatrist who guides the tapering process of medications and meets monthly with the seekers. Each seeker has the opportunity to meet with a homeopath, naturopath or anthroposophical MD shortly after arriving and thus receive support on a deeper constitutional level. Our experienced and committed therapists and guides, some of whom have left jobs with benefits to pioneer because they believe in choice and recognize how essential the visibility of this alternative to the medical model is.

Our detox program includes the regular use of the infra-red sauna, a liver compress three times a week after meals, and of course, an organic diet, high in fats and protein and free of sugar and wheat. The rhythm of the day, in itself, is an essential part of the healing process for there is little chance for creating inner harmony if one’s outer life is chaotic.

I should emphasize that Inner Fire is all about choice. We would never tell someone to come off their medications, however, we know too many people who took their lives because they were not aware that indeed, there is a choice. What we offer at Inner Fire is not rocket science. It has all to do with recognizing the challenges of being human and nurturing and guiding while the striving individual takes the time to reconnect with their creative and resilient Self.

Our hope is that this autumn we will begin building a “home” on the property that will house twelve seekers, a kitchen and dining/meeting room, and therapeutic spaces. Our goal is to open this residence in the spring of 2017.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Problem with this is that Healing, Recovery, and Therapy are all still ways of putting the blame back onto the victims. Offering this as the alternative to locked psychiatric wards, lobotomy, and medication, is all just pity seeking, letting perpetrators off the hook.

    It means the survivors never even attempt to claim back what of their life has been taken from them. They lose decades of their lives, and they lose any chance at a legitimated biography, and so what do they do about this, NOTHING!

    We should be working to get civil judgments and criminal convictions on the perpetrators. On the doctors, the therapists, and the parents. And most so called ‘psychiatric cases’ are really just the result of childhood familial abuses. When someone is denied a legitimated biography, they become at great risk for ending up in Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery.

    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/what-is-wrong-about-psychotherapy-t315.html

    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/uncle-tom-and-christian-meekness-t313.html

    Nomadic

    • “Problem with this is that Healing, Recovery, and Therapy are all still ways of putting the blame back onto the victims…. ”

      No. That’s an all negative way of looking at things. What healing, recovery, and therapy are all depends how the individual looks at things and what they want. We can’t make a blanket statement that healing, recovery, and therapy are all ways of putting blame onto victims. While they may mean these things to you, they often do not to others.

      • Nomadic,

        “..Putting the blame back on the victims..”

        My own idea of (my) Recovery is about getting myself straight so that I can be happy and function effectively in the world (because that’s what’s good for me). But I am not the least bit soft hearted towards people that would take advantage of other people in “mentally” vulnerable positions.

        • Fiachra and BPDT, you are both wrong. “Getting yourself straight” simply means learning to function in a world which is unjust without even trying to do anything about it.

          You need to learn to trust you basic impulses. And then you have been violated, you will feel those impulses. Therapy, Recovery, and Religion try to make you believe that those impulses are wrong. They aren’t.

          We need to start convicting and incarcerating some of these familial child abusers, and especially taking their money away from them.

          Telling people that the answer is in therapy is just like telling them that the problem lies within their own head. This is why I call it Second Rape.

          As it can still be, a rape victim goes to police to report the crime. She is made to feel that she is the responsible party, or that she may be lying or exaggerating, and then that she solution is just learning how to live with it!

          Psychotherapy is the reason that familial child abuse continues!!

          Psychotherapy completes what the abuser parents attempted!

  2. I enjoyed reading this article. It sounds like a great program, full of humanity and being with one’s emotions. It made me think of Courtenay Harding’s work in a nearby area of Vermont so many years ago. In spirit, it had some things in common with this, i.e. faith in the capacity of severe troubled people to recover.

    • I’ve go sympathy with the idea of looking back at Moral Treatment. On the otherhand my suspicion is that in practice they might have been quite miserable places for a lot of the inmates. Always living up to someone elses standard. It’s just a surmise but I doubt it was as rosey as is sometimes presented…

      It’s interesting that mad people are presumed not only to benefit from being in the company of other mad people but that they all uniformly welcome gardening / farming in one form or another. Being artistic is another Trope…

      That said I expect a lot people do like theses farm type therapy outfits. I’d hate it. I like the feel of the pavement under my feet.

      • Moral management engendered a movement to build more and more lunatic asylums, and this asylum building movement dramatically increased the numbers of patients you had in the world. This is one major drawback to that reform movement. Once the reforms had played themselves out. and things began to go downhill, the asylums remained. We have only recently got around to shutting down some of these these big Victorian monstrosities that came of moral management.

        The community mental health system, of the sort we’ve got, a rather recent development, preceding and following some of these closures, has created a number of similar problems of it’s own. I think there is much to be said for innovative programs, especially those that keep some sort of distance from mainstream “mental illness” manufacture, but one has to be cautious, as some of these innovative programs have a tendency to resemble conventional programs more and more with the passage of time.

        • I agree. If one wants to go and live on a farm go and live on a farm. If you are working for free or willing to pay for the privilage I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find a place. I don’t think going to one where some people are supposedly mad and some people are accidently not designated mad is a great idea.

          A lot of the big institutions were self sufficient by dint of having a thriving agricultural beating heart with all the inmates doing the heaving lifting. I guess that how they got to be called “funny farms”.

      • No, that happened toward the end of the 19th century, when the early hospitals silted up with untreatable patients. Remember, in those days, patients terminal with neurosyphilis wound up in mental institutions, as did pellagrins and those with depressions related to scurvy (yes, scurvy appears in turn of the 20th century diagnostic manuals, despite wide knowledge that fresh fruits treated it- no refrigeration in the good old days and vitamin C wasn’t isolated until the 1930’s).

  3. Beatrice

    This was a great blog about a great program. I have enormous respect for your work and for your dedication to these people in desperate need of non oppressive supports.

    One important point of feedback which I hope you are open to. In this blog you must have used the term “medications” possibly 25 times. Many people do not believe it is scientifically correct to call psychiatric drugs “medications” and that by using this term you are perpetuating the myths of brain “diseases” promoted by Biological Psychiatry and their oppressive medical model.

    This is NOT just a matter of semantics. Think how the term “medications” impacts the very people you are trying to help. Part of their individual struggle to heal is to cast off the belief (imposed on them by the System) that they have some type of brain “disease” or genetic defect that is causing all their distress, as opposed to looking at their specific conflict with their environment.

    Use of the term “psychiatric drugs” is not only more scientifically accurate but it is directly challenging everything that is wrong with the medical model. This seemingly small shift in use of terms (if explained to your program participants) could have a positive therapeutic effect over time. It will also challenge the broader public and those working in the System who come into contact with your program.

    Your program by its very existence is a political statement challenging the System and so too is the specific language you use to describe it and how it works on a day to day basis. This description can have an important influence on all those negatively affected by the current “mental health” system.

    Psychiatric drugs are mind altering substances NOT “medications.” Sometimes mind altering substance may play a useful role for humans especially on a short time basis. This is especially true when trying to slowly taper from their use after having been on these drugs for many years.

    This issue related to the use of the terminology psychiatric drugs vs. “medications” is just as important of a political distinction as any debate over terms used to describe people of color, gender differences etc. or the debate over Black Lives Matter vs. “All Lives Matter.”

    Keep up the great work. I hope you find this dialogue helpful.

    Respectfully, Richard

  4. In some states now it is illegal to submit a child to “sexual orientation reassignment therapy”. I see this as a tremendous step forward. But people are still sending their children to therapists whose main claim to fame is that they convince the child that their parents are “loving”. I see this is incredibly abusive, probably a felony violation of mandatory reporting, and just sickeningly creepy.

    If a child is going to be in any kind of therapy, that suggests familial conflict underlies it, and that suggests abuse. So it should be overseen by the court, and the child should be represented by an appointed attorney.

    While I would never try to outlaw psychotherapy between consenting adults, as it is only talk, we must stop our government from licensing it, as that legitimates it.

    I look forward to the day when people finally stop looking to Psychotherapy, Religion, and Recovery to interpret their lives for them. Instead they should honor their feelings and their experiences, instead of thinking that something is wrong with them.

    If someone has Survived the Middle-Class Family, then they have zero social legitimacy, because our society is based on lies, denial, and the exploitation of children.

    Why don’t people see this? It’s because the survivors are swept into psychotherapy, recovery, and religion, where they’re new found awareness is trampled on and they are taught again to worship the Holy Family.

    This will not change until people start to honor their own experiences and to recognize how much of their lives have been lost, and then start to politically organize and act.

    Right now we have pity seeking approaches to the Murphy Bill, and we have Psychotherapists advertising. A sorry state of affairs. But it changes the moment we start to demanding criminal prosecution and start suing some of these abusive parents and their psychotherapist collaborators, instead of asking for pity for those deemed mentally ill.

    Nomadic
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/

  5. Beatrice, Inner Fire sounds like a wonderful program. And, absolutely thinking of myself as a “creative rather than a victim,” lots of time in nature gardening and biking, and a healthy low carb / high protein diet is how I survived and healed from my encounter with psychiatry. Those methods can and do work. And alternatives to the current oppressive system are very much needed. Is your program covered by insurance yet? And are you yet thinking of setting up Inner Fire sanctuaries elsewhere in this country?

  6. Thank you Beatrice for responding to me.


    Seekers have been to other ‘rehabs’ and many say they feel safe here for the first time. There is no blame but rather opportunities to discover one’s own strengths, despite the traumas, and move on with life.

    But here right off I have to take strong exception to you. Telling people to move on with life. Nothing could be more disrespectful of their experiences. I don’t see how your rehab is different from any other, telling people that the root problem is themselves, being unwilling to move on, and doing nothing to even attempt to obtain redress.


    We can’t change the past but rather, by working in the present, where the past is reflected, we can still grow and move forward.

    And so again, you are telling people that they, not their abusers and our unjust world, are the problem. I again have to emphasis the strong exception I take to you and your program.


    slowly and carefully tapers off their mind altering drugs with the support of a psychiatrist…

    Rather than just flushing the drugs down a toilet while authorizing an attorney to sue that Psychiatrist for everything he has got? And rather than getting the Psychiatrists who give drugs to children convicted of Crimes Against Humanity in International Court?


    the soul/spiritual dimension of each of us can be strengthened through the therapeutic and work program. I have witnessed too often, that tapering off, for example, crack or mind altering drugs is not healing in itself, but the building up on a deeper soul/spiritual level is also necessary…otherwise one is left with the raw pain for why one went on all this in the first place.

    But where do people come to understand that they have nothing wrong with them, do not need any healing or recovery, but simply they are the survivors of familial abuse, and that the way to change this is legal and political activism. Otherwise they will still always believe that they suffer from Original Sin, and they will still be abusing others with ideas like healing, recovery, and therapy.


    There are other wonderful people doing amazing work on the larger political scale…and meanwhile, I and others want to support those whose lives and being compromised by offering them a choice.

    You are offering them absolutely nothing except more self-abuse, lies, and denial. While I would never want to turn people out onto the street, I strongly disagree with you and your program. And I would hope that people stop putting up with it.

    Nomadic
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/index.php

  7. Hi Beatrice, wow, I got healing just from reading this description along with the pictures. Sounds thorough and, really, quite exquisite. Congratulations for pulling this all together.

    I noticed the cost above, and so I wondered what your clientele is like. How much of this is out-of-pocket? I was wondering if it mostly people from privilege, judging from the price tag. I’m sincerely asking this neutrally. If that were to be the case, at least it’s a start, and much can come from this. Your approach seems totally spot on in how it respects the totality of an individual, including allowing them their process to completion, in a comfortable and nurturing environment. That is great respect.

    I also ask about the money issue because of from where I come and what I’ve been able to do on my own, as I healed from my own heavy-duty disabling withdrawal from psych drugs after 20 years, 9 in the final year. Lots of trauma and drama around it all, but that was about 15 years ago now, and I’ve since done so much in depth healing. I actually trained as I healed.

    After 20 years of it eventually breaking down my system and leaving me more confused and unclear than ever, I finally ditched psychiatry and the entire mental health world, even after I had gotten my MA and did internship as an marriage and family therapist (MFT), because it out and out failed me so miserably, and, in fact, disabled me completely.

    I turned to grounding and chakra work and did an extensive years-long program in San Francisco where I learned to work with my energy, and heal from that perspective. It was life-altering, and I healed like gangbusters, layer by layer, while manifesting all else that I needed alternatively–herbs, acupuncture, Qi Gong classes. I was on disability in San Francisco, exorbitant city, but I found that the universe was really working in my favor, and all of this came to me with ease and extremely cheaply, and it all worked in tandem to heal my mind, body, and spirit after years of seriously messy malaise from psych drugs.

    At the same time, I discovered a singing class, to add some fun to my healing, and wound up in a theater career which I didn’t know I had in me. My spirit was suddenly freeing itself up and a new me was coming forth. I went directly from the mental health system into a surprisingly successful theater and performing career, doing musical comedy of all things. Just a few years prior, I had been catatonic with depression and anxiety, and before that, I had not done anything like this, other than a small bit of high school theater. The natural healing and energy work was literally miraculous.

    I’ve since moved from SF and now live in a small rural Redwoods town in Northern CA, near the Oregon Border. I love your description of the setting, as it made me think of how vital nature has been in the continuation of my healing. I could only go so far in a chaotic and highly-charged urban environment. I love the city, but it is not healthful in the slightest. This is heaven on earth, and it is reflected in the people, as well. Mellow and grounded is good, not the dog eat dog rat race.

    My partner and I started a band which plays for senior residents of an assisted living center, where he works. We’ve done several shows and even made a film of this, which is posted on YouTube, called Dreamcatchers Follies: Music for the Ages, if you want to check it out. I’m not posting the link here since I’m leaving a long comment and I’ve posted my films here recently, I get a bit self-conscious about it, not trying to promote myself, just illustrate to what I’m referring.

    I’ve been a practicing healer for 11 years now–after chakra school I did a medical intuit internship, and work in that capacity as well, via Chinese and vibrational medicine–and am currently transitioning my private practice to a performing arts healing center. I’m starting with a few students this fall, to teach grounding, chakras, Qi Gong (I eventually became a Qi Gong leader when I lived in SF). I’m also an ordained non-denominational minister so I practice as a spiritual counselor, in terms of spirit to body connection, which is what I learned in theater that so profoundly impacted my healing. At the end of it all, we play at different senior venues around town, and anyone from the class who wants to sing or play an instrument can do so, and it is part of their healing process. It’s certainly not required, once can be in the healing program regardless. But it’s an option for those inclined to take a leap of faith. I found that stepping up to this degree was enormously valuable, and where I truly found my spirit. I’d never sung in front of an audience in my life, until I was 44 years old. It’s second nature to me now, go figure.

    I actually was able to create and manifest all of this with hardly any money, really. This was all part of what I learned about energy, how to manifest abundance, without the need for abundant cash–simply the energy of abundance draws to us what we need for the desired goal of manifestation. This was all mind-bending to me as I was learning it, I do not come from this new age energy world. I come from a highly academic family and was a retail customer service manager for 17 years, that was my career before graduate school.

    This was all new to me, as I healed and learned about energy–a whole new world. And one by which I went from disabled mental patient to stage performer, healer, teacher, actor, musician, and filmmaker. The real me that was hidden under all those psych drugs. Kind of a personal Renaissance, really.

    Your blog inspire me to tell this story, I’d never told it quite like this. The performing arts healing center is brand new. I’ve been talking about it, and it has manifested. I have no idea what to charge, but for now, it is free. I guess eventually I should put a price tag on it, this is the culmination of my life purpose, I think, the dots connect perfectly, and there is ease in this process. I take that as a green light form the universe.

    What to charge for healing is always a conundrum for me, always has been, since I started. I threw so much money, time and energy down the drain with 20 years of psychotherapy and psych drugs, it bankrupted me. That’s just not right. I agree with you–healing is a right–a HUMAN right–and should most definitely not be a privilege. I go back and forth with this all the time, still do.

    Thank you for the inspirational blog post, and very best wishes with Inner Fire!

    • I was just looking at your website and I found that I have some questions. I see from your responses that your time is quite limited, but that you are entertaining questions. These are more logistic and administrative inquiries that I have, not sure it would be appropriate to ask these here.

      Would it be ok for me to contact you through your website? I don’t want to take up your time unnecessarily, these are just questions I have regarding the business aspect. I’m learning as I go. Please let me know the most convenient way for you to be contacted about this. Thank you!

  8. Beatrice,

    I can tell you that you would never get the chance to tell me to “move on with life”.

    But this goes without saying.

    More important, you would never get the chance to tell anyone I care about to “move on with life”, or any other sort of Recovery stuff. But this exposes what this is really all about.

    No one ends up in Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, or Recovery, unless they have already been condemned and abandoned by The Family. So it would be impossible for anyone I care about to ever end up exposed to your doctrines. What you are doing is just a continuation of the what started as middle-class family child abuse.

    Nomadic

  9. Alas, Beatrice, at 64 years old and after 40-plus years in the System, both in Connecticut and here in Vermont, I have never had $138,000 dollars to spend on myself, nor any family member willing to “waste” it on me (which is unfortunately what they would consider spending money on my care). This is likely the case for many people with mental illness diagnoses like schizophrenia who have been locked in the System for years, abandoned by their families and deprived of any resources but dubious ones provided by the so-called “benefits” of disability. So while Inner Fire sounds great, it, like so many other programs of its kind, is only available for those with big bucks to spend, and I highly doubt that the State of Vermont will be coming through to spend them on the likes of me any time soon. Regards, Pamela Wagner

  10. I was once sent to a farm for rich kids. It didn’t cost nearly that much because it was 1984. My poor parents thought the place was The Answer. The Great Summer Camp for mental cases that would save the day. I can tell you it was a huge disappointment. Believe it or not I telephoned my folks every chance I could get, crying and pleading with them to please put me in a hospital, that is how much I hated it. We all did. So much for rich kids camp. I was happy for the gal who thumbed out of there but the staff told us all she was manic. I got out as soon as I could. Some people stayed for life. So sad. Julie

  11. Thank you Julie for sharing that. There are some now who are calling for federal regulation of the Troubled Teen Industry. Some are also grouping this issue with Medical Munchausen’s By Proxy.

    I’m sure you know about this, and the outstanding movie made out of it:

    https://www.amazon.com/Bless-Beasts-Children-Glendon-Swarthout/dp/1476766797/ref=sr_1_2/165-3357530-2659747?ie=UTF8&qid=1472582025&sr=8-2&keywords=Bless+The+Beasts+And+The+Children

    I also got involved in investigating one such program some years back.

    The way I look at it is simply that it is all child abuse. You could say that it is something like Munchausen’s By Proxy, in that the idea is to find fault in the child, to break the child. It is based on the idea that the child has some innate fault.

    It is explained well here:
    https://www.amazon.com/Childism-Confronting-Prejudice-Against-Children/dp/0300192401

    Prejudice against children is something very similar to racial prejudice. It is based on the fear that if something is not done, this other will multiply and take over, and they have some sort of an innate defect.

    So you have parents committed to the idea that they have to break their children, make them believe that their desires and ambitions are wrong. Prevent them from being open and free, and make them so that they are warped and creepy, like their parents.

    Of course one writer who continues to do an outstanding job of characterizing this is Stephen King. And ever since Carrie, he has been getting help from his wife Tabitha. You can see her influence in his stuff, like in for example, Gerald’s Game.

    https://www.amazon.com/Geralds-Game-Stephen-King/dp/1501144200/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472582453&sr=1-1&keywords=stephen+king+geralds+game

    It shows how a woman’s entire life and world view are completely determined by some familial sexual exploitation and the need to conceal it and to make the parents right.

    But really all child abuse is based on the conviction that it is the duty of a parent to break their child. This way the parent does not have to face the pains of what was done to them, as they have become the aggressor, and they feel legitimated.

    And so as this abuse starts in childhood, it continues in adulthood in the form of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery and Healing. All of these Second Rapists get the victim to confess their innermost feelings and issues, based on the lie that the therapist and the program are your ally. But they are nothing of the sort. They are not going to do anything whatsoever to help you obtain redress against injustice, and a socially legitimated biography. No, they are just going to show you how the new pedagogy manuals are so much more slickly written. And they are going to do their best to convince you to just self-lobotomize and forget all that happened.

    And then when they get people to make histrionic displays, punching pillows and screaming at them, all that does is further convince the client of their own impotence.

    Even what is comparatively speaking a very small amount of child abuse is a very serious matter. So I say, strip the parents of all their cash and assets. Strip them down to just the clothes on their backs. They aren’t ever going to admit that they are wrong, they will just continue to brag about abusing their child, because they get lots of pats on the back over this.

    So take everything away from them. Then force our government to stop licensing psychotherapists, because this does not protect anyone, it just legitimates it. And then for the doctors who put kids on psychiatric medications, International Court, Crimes Against Humanity. This way they can’t try to invoke the Eichmann defense and say that what they were doing was lawful.

    The Pentecostal Daughter Molester that I helped get a lengthy sentence, he had never admitted that he did anything wrong. And his whole church still believes this. Most all of them have problem children, designated scapegoats.

    So you can’t try to just re-educate these people. Force has to be used against them, police, handcuffs, prisons. They are having children in order to abuse them. You can’t stop them before the fact, but we must deal with them after the fact.

    Those of us who have survived the middle-class family, something which has always operated at the expense of children, must organize and act. Most of us have been afraid to do this, because we have been convinced that we have an innate defect, and because it all comes down to the Self-Reliance Ethic, an adaptation of the concept of Original Sin. So we have allowed ourselves to be further abused in psychotherapy and recovery. Now we must organize and act, to bring about justice. Only then will we have a legitimated public identity so that we might finally be able to develop and apply our abilities and enjoy what life can offer.

    Nomadic

  12. Nomadic, that is absolutely not true. Gould Farm looked like heaven and by all means it was not my parents’ intention to abuse. You are reading things into my story that weren’t there. They wanted only the best for me. Remember, I, too, wanted some “cure” since by all means the other docs had totally blown it. The place promised Getting Back To Nature. They all do. It was expensive for 1984, $50 a day, which was costly for back then. We had to work 6 hours a day and take our pills and not complain. I recall backbreaking work, shoveling snow, which I hated, for six hours, frostbiting my feet, trying to carry pails of maple syrup and spilling it all over myself and not daring to complain about how freezing cold I was. I remember having to “waitress” at their coffee shop and then, getting fired since I am not cut out to be a waitress. I cannot work fast-paced jobs since I don’t know my right from my left. They wouldn’t let us use our brains, ever. Almost as if our brains were now deemed completely useless. I had been a music prodigy and I wondered where all that had gone off to. We were also prevented from forming friendships.

    My parents and I were completely caught off guard. They did not treat ED as I had hoped and refused to acknowledge that I had ED. So I had to live with it while I was there and hope I got better by magic. I am sure if my parents had the money they would have helped me get elsewhere. We simply had no clue what to do. It wasn’t heaven, it wasn’t magic, it wasn’t that dream summer camp they promised. If anyone abused, it was the idiot doctors who refused to listen, the System that put me there, the doctor that had caused my suicide attempt, the previous providers that had failed me over and over, and those professionals that had already deceived me and my parents plenty.

  13. Julie, sorry, but I’m simply reading what you post,


    My poor parents thought the place was The Answer. The Great Summer Camp for mental cases that would save the day.

    So what you are saying is that your parents had already decided that you had some sort of a defect, a disorder. Family life revolved around this concept.

    Now you being a minor, it makes no difference if they and their doctors had convinced you of this. All that matters is that they thought that there was something wrong with you.

    Sometimes it is purely moral, other times it is medical, other times it is psychiatric, and there are other forms too. But it still comes down to making the child a scapegoat, and seeking to fix them or have them fixed.

    This is absolutely abusive, whether the child sees it as so or not.

    People are seeking federal regulations on these troubled teen programs. Some of us want to put an end to psychiatric medications, and some of us want to put an end to parents having the ability to use doctors to convince their child that there is something wrong with them, at least with out court oversight to protect the child, and the child having a lawyer.

    When you see a child who is obviously under the impression that they have a defect, and is having trouble with ED or anything else, there is reason to suspect at a minimum psychological child abuse. This is why we have mandatory reporting laws.

    The doctors on the public payroll tend to comply with this, as the public would have zero tolerance for their becoming complicit in child abuse. But the doctors who market their services to parents, along with these Fix My Kid Camps, obviously don’t want to report.

    The last guy who came to me with this huge story about all that was wrong with his eldest daughter, I helped get a long sentence in the state prison for sexually molesting her and his other two girls. The wife was behind him at every juncture. And they also abused their eldest son by getting him removed from the home and convinced that he has a psychiatric condition and would need to be on drugs his whole life. And with the younger boy they abused him by having him vouch for the parents when the father was on trial for sexually molesting the girls. This boy was presenting the view of the parents that the problem lie with the eldest girl.

    It will be a long time before this father gets out of prison. We have excellent police and prosecutors. But mostly it was the tenacity and courage of this eldest daughter that did it.

    And on the ground I never stop talking about the role this guy’s church played.

    If a child is having problems, very likely that it is coming right from the parents and their view of the child. And the way to handle this is not Therapy, Recovery, or Religion, for the child. It is intervention, lawsuits and criminal prosecution for the parents.

    Nomadic

  14. Nomadic, I was not a minor when I went to the Farm. I was 26 years old. The decision to go to the Farm was a joint decision between me and my parents based on the propaganda of the Farm, mostly my own decision. I also went for an overnight to “try out” the Farm. My parents were not present for this overnight. I was, and I was the one who spoke with the director myself, as a 26-year-old competent adult. I was sold their goods. My parents, unfortunately, paid the bill. Later on, I found out the truth, that the place was not what they said they were.

    Also, I did indeed have a problem. I had very serious eating problems that were never addressed nor even acknowledged. I had just tried to kill myself because those eating problems had not been addressed by my former providers. I nearly died a few years ago for the exact same reason. Yes it was a problem, a problem that psychiatry has no business treating, and has no relevance nor is helpful. I really don’t have any desire to argue this one with you any longer, Nomadic.

    I do not appreciate it when you impose your very limited ideas about the world on me or on others here. It is not helping me. In fact, it’s a nuisance reading your posts, which impose on me and others. Please realize that not all of us grew up the way you did. We grew up in all different ways, in different cultures, in a variety of settings. We are different people and we have many types of challenges in our lives. We cannot be judged based on your standards nor can we solve our problems based on your solutions that very well may only work for you. We each need to find our own, leave us be.

    No person can say, “My way is the normal way,” or, “My way is the way everyone is.” It’s simply not true. We have all perhaps been guilty at one time of judging others based on the standards with which we were raised, but later on, we learn to open our minds a bit. I suggest you try doing that.

    Julie

  15. Julie you wrote, “Please realize that not all of us grew up the way you did. ”

    You say that, but you do not know anything about me.

    What I will tell you is that no one I care about would be sent to any type of a Recovery or Fixing Farm, any more than they would to Psychotherapy or Psychiatry.

    Yes, some types of eating are unhealthy and even life threatening. And so everyone will seeming want to see that change. But particularly between parents and child, things are not always as they seem.

    And even for an adult, there is something going on when someone is sent to such a farm, and it involves their parents.

    I have had some luck in trying to talk sense into people in the Pentecostal Ministry Teen Challenge. Now I was relieved when I learned that it mostly does not any more deal with juveniles. But it is still based on the premise of moral defect.

    So I talked with one man, maybe in his late 20’s, who had been for his second time in the State Prison for heroin use. His parents came up with the idea of Teen Challenge, and he was in.

    I explained to him that this is just preying on victims and we talked at length and he understood. And he said that what he really wanted was a job.

    I commended him for this. And I have had some luck with other Teen Challenge people.

    I find it extremely annoying and disheartening when people actually seem to believe that just for no reason at all that they ended up in the Mental / Moral Health System, and cannot see that that had to have come from The Family. And even more disheartening when there are Psychotherapists who are advertising a parental exoneration agenda, and when there are those making a political cause out of thwarting child protection efforts.

    Nomadic

  16. The guy who has got it right here is Steve M.

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/09/globe-taste-medicine/#comment-94306

    I quote here from Steve, “I recall my brief stint as a public school teacher. I went in naively believing that the school system was there to educate students and prepare them for adulthood, and that the failures of the system were due to lack of insight or skills. What I discovered is that the school system appeared to be geared less to educate and enlighten than to cow and demoralize students into automatic compliance, either out of fear or desire for conditional reward. It is designed to create compliant citizens, not to teach people to think, and it’s not broken – it works quite well at doing exactly that. ”

    I consider this to be one of the best posts on this entire forum.

    Well this is how it is with the middle-class family. It is designed to harm children, to make them into what our society expects. So when a child is harmed it is not an aberration, it is exactly what is intended.

    Most of all it revolves around the Self-Reliance Ethic, which is a kind of guilty until innocent type of crime, like Original Sin.

    So when a child somehow escapes the full intended effect, we have Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery to complete the job of inflicting the harm that the family failed to complete.

    And Recovery in particular is based on the Self-Reliance Ethic, measuring up to social expectations. People go along with the concept because it shows that they are complying with what their parents expect.

    Rick Warren of Irvine California, who founded the Saddle Back Church and was able to get it above 20k members in just 20 years, talks non-stop about how, “Everybody needs Recovery.”

    Warren graduated from a Baptist Seminary. Recovery IS the new Original Sin.

    And so one of the most offensive aspects of this Murphy Bill is that it is presented as being to “help families”. This means helping families to complete the abuse they attempted to inflict, but for some reason were unable to complete.

    So Murphy is intended to make the mental health system, something which should not even exist, into the new Fix My Kid Camp.

    With inheritance laws the way they are, with the Recovery Movement and the Self-Reliance Ethic, very few people are willing to stand up to the concepts which justify the middle-class family.

    So instead they just keep wearing holes in the knees of new pairs of pants, venerating the Holy Family.

    Nomadic

  17. It is really great that there are 2 or more opinions. This way for me the blog is a safe and balanced place, objectiv.
    The idea of having one or multiple choises is what I liked most. For some of us , even a similar choise to psychiatry does not exist.
    I really wanted at some point that research on drugs to exist more and to enroll only to have a more scientific approach of prescribed drugs.
    I do consider all the choises that exist should be covered by insurance.
    I think healers of any kind should offer free services for the sake of statistics and try to prove scientifically their methods through state funding.
    I agree also that the choise of assisted suicide should be legal in any country for the ones who tested all the existing methods on the world and nothing brings an acceptable state.

  18. I have unfortunately had direct experience with Inner Fire and Beatrice Birch. I experienced re-traumatization inside of this dysfunctional community structured by and around a very charming, highly manipulative pathological narcissist whose article you have just read. It is my hope that prospective residents stay discerning and safe from the kind of financial and emotional trauma I experienced. To that end, my advice is that you avoid this place at all costs.

    • The lead woman of the entire project; Beatrice Birch and I initially met years ago when I was going through mental health problems, and was searching for a safe place to heal. I was immediately adverse to how strict her program was within the first 20 minutes of meeting her. There was no way I could afford 100,000 dollars. I chose hilltop instead. She claimed that she saw something in me. Whatever that meant; I don’t tend.to attach to how people feel about me. Good or bad. Years pass; and I went through some rough times. Made mistakes. I had been on the streets, sleeping in the park. Was in the homeless shelter for a while, and then I couldn’t stay there anymore. So I found a room to rent on frost street in Brattleboro Vermont. I was told a few things. 1. That this house was a community. 2. That even though inner fire was a part of this community; they were not paying for the house. Rather; Rob Worton (I am using a fake name), the father of one of their graduates was. Months into living there I missed one of their house meetings due to a job interview and Inner Fire sent me a fake vacancy notice. Yes, in the email it said “Vacancy notice.” only to tell me later on, that it was a mere warning. They also left me a letter telling me that they were sorry and that I just apparently didn’t want to live in a community and that “community is not for everyone.” Completely false. I do value community. I also value space and breathing room at times. Coming from a woman (Beatrice) who apparently values a non-assuming approach. That is not very un-assuming. After a while I was told that Rob could not afford to rent out the house anymore. ( The house went through a couple different room mates, both of which were struggling and on disability. Both of which left abruptly with no notice.) At one point, and inner fire employee came into the house, looking for rent from both of them, expressing that neither of them paid the rent on time, and had skipped paying at some points all together. At the time my mother was helping me pay rent. She paid every month, and has proof that she paid every month. So now: just today. This very morning. Beatrice comes into where I work. I smiled, asked her how inner fire was doing. And she said okay. Then at the end of her transaction she told me that “Even though” I’m doing well, Rob really took a financial blow. And she very clearly implied it was my fault. And said “he kept it open for you.” And tried to guilt trip me, at my workplace for something I did not do. I am not going to place blame on anyone however; Robs financial stress, was not my responsibility. It was his choice, before I even moved in, to pay for that house. I now work and pay my own rent. I did not take anything from them nor was I ever out to hurt anyone. This program, this woman, and their staff did not help me one bit as far as emotional support, or understanding my personal boundaries. I did not feel safe, comfortable, or like I could be myself with this woman. I don’t deserve as one person to be blamed for this. In my personal opinion; this woman should not be working with people who are healing. I’m sorry if this story disturbs anyone who may believe in this program; or if you think I am wrong for sharing it.

      • Sidra,

        I am angered to hear about what you went through. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that, and you are absolutely not alone. Former staff that has all quit since my time at Inner Fire have validated my experiences time and again by sharing their own and those of others before me. Beatrice used a version of that line on me, too (“I see something in you”) to continually coerce me into staying at Inner Fire against my will while I was extremely vulnerable until she’d taken all of my money. Thank goodness you did not live through the horrors of Inner Fire itself.

        I am also so glad you were able to find validation in my comment. Given my experience and what I know about narcissistic abuse, it can push one to question their own sanity. As you described, this is one of the appalling ways that Beatrice takes advantage of vulnerable folks. None of them ever meet her or her program’s impossible standards, and she does everything in her power to lay the blame on them. You are already aware of this, which is great, but in case you need the reminder at any point: rest assured in the fact that you are absolutely not alone in your experience.

        Would you by chance want to get in touch? My hope is to start connecting folks who had negative experiences with Beatrice and/or Inner Fire. I’d like to form a survivors group to counteract Beatrice’s weaponization of separating and isolating “seekers.” It is by cornering people and turning the blame on them, from what is often a relationship with a totally unequal power dynamic, Beatrice uses her silver tongue to sell the lie that her failings and her abuse are everyone else’s fault. This is inexcusable to do to anyone, but most especially those who are vulnerable due to their struggles with mental and emotional health (and who have entrusted her with their lives and finances). This needs to stop.

        If you would like to connect, please feel free to email me at [email protected]