Let me introduce myself. My name is Eric Maisel and I’m the new editor for parent resources at Mad in America.
I was born in the Bronx in 1947 and grew up in Brooklyn. As a boy I thought I would be a scientist—a physicist or an astronomer—and I attended one of New York City’s math-and-science high schools, Stuyvesant. I graduated high school young and started at Brooklyn College at the age of sixteen. I was too young for college and by the age of eighteen I’d flunked out. I then joined the Army (in 1965). After the Army I attended first Oregon State University and then the University of Oregon, where I got an undergraduate degree in philosophy.
At the age of 24 I started writing. I got a Master’s in creative writing from San Francisco State University, I wrote both fiction and nonfiction, and by the age of 35 had written many books. At that time my wife and I had two small children and we needed more income, so I returned to school and got a second undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master’s in counseling from San Francisco State University. I went on to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, later getting a doctorate in counseling psychology.
For the past 35 years I’ve worked first as a family therapist and then as a coach to creative and performing artists. Over the course of my writing career I’ve written more than fifty books and the subjects that have interested me the most are mental health, meaning and life purpose, and creativity and the creative life. I’m also the parent of three and the grandparent of five, and my wife and I will be celebrating forty years together this November.
Today I’m a retired family therapist, an active coach (and trainer of coaches), a workshop leader and lecturer, and I continue to be passionately involved in mental health activism, especially where it comes to children’s mental health. I know how hard it is to be a parent, how much pressure children experience growing up nowadays, and how difficult it is for the average parent to get educated about alternatives to the current, dominant “diagnose a mental disorder and provide a chemical fix” paradigm that is affecting so many millions of parents and children. I hope that this new MIA parent resource section that I’ll be curating will help to educate you and point you in the direction of valuable resources.
No doubt the parent resource section will morph over time, but let me share with you how we are starting out. There will be pieces that I write—they will appear in the left-hand column at the bottom of the resource page. There will be interviews that I conduct with folks who have something to say about children’s mental health—those interviews will appear in the central column at the bottom of the resource page. Then there will pieces written by others (which may have appeared previously on Mad in America, Psychology Today, etc.) that will appear in the right-hand column at the bottom of the resource page. I’ve already posted a great deal of material of potential interest to parents, and I hope to post a lot more as we move forward.
Right now these resources aren’t grouped into sections or categories; no doubt eventually they will be. We are just getting our feet wet here <smile> and we shall see how we ought to proceed as we locate more resources and hear from readers. We actively seek your input and would love to learn about any resource you consider relevant (a blog post, a book, an article, a person, an organization, etc.) and we’d also love to hear about your personal story, if you’d like to share that. Just contact me at [email protected] and let me know!
You might find some of my books of interest to you. My latest is called Overcoming Your Difficult Family (New World Library, 2017) and describes the skills needed to deal with difficult family situations. A book of mine called The Future of Mental Health (Transaction Publishers, 2016) might also interest you. In it I deconstruct the current “diagnosing and treating mental disorder” paradigm and explain what shifts look to be possible in the direction of a more humane and honest mental health system. Also of interest may be Rethinking Depression, The Van Gogh Blues (of special interest to creatives suffering from existential sadness), Hearing Critical Voices (a collection of interesting interviews with folks in the critical psychology and critical psychiatry camps), and Life Purpose Boot Camp.
The three primary goals of this new parent resource section are: 1) to help parents better understand the current “mental disorder and chemical fix” system and especially its flaws and dangers; 2) to point parents in the direction of alternative help, help that might complement or supplement what they are currently trying or replace what they are currently trying; and 3) to provide a place where the voices of parents, children, critics of the current system, and alternative helpers can be heard. I hope that you’ll join me and I hope that you’ll stay tuned!
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.