Mo Hannah: Changing the Teaching of the Biological Model


This week on the Mad in America podcast, we talk to Dr. Maureen (Mo) Hannah. 

Mo is a Professor of Psychology at Siena College, New York, where she has taught since 1992. She is a licensed New York State psychologist practicing with older adolescents and adults.

Mo is an Advanced Imago Relationship therapy Clinician and serves as an Academic Faculty member of Imago Relationships International. Her clinical and research interests revolve around couples therapy, intimate partner violence, and transpersonal psychology. She serves as the Editor of Family and Interpersonal Violence Quarterly and has published seven books and numerous chapters and articles. In 2004, she co-founded and continues to serve as Chair of the annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Mo’s experiences with the psychiatric system, both personally and professionally
  • How poor care in the mental health system led to an unexpected and devastating family loss
  • That Mo feels that her families needs and views were not taken into account when discussing treatment for her elder daughter, Monique
  • The difficulties that parents encounter when a child is old enough to be covered by HIPAA laws, meaning that treatment is not discussed with parents
  • How Alex, Mo’s younger daughter, was put onto antidepressants following the loss of her sister but she had little to no intervention to ensure that the drugs were the right treatment for her
  • That Doctors do not tell patients about withdrawal effects when stopping psychiatric drugs
  • That Alex suffered profound withdrawal effects 3-4 months after she had ceased the drugs, one of the worst issues being extreme insomnia but also anxiety, obsessive thinking and guilt
  • That it was very clear these were drug related effects and not a mental health problem
  • That Doctors should be better informed so they can help their patients make an informed choice about drug treatment
  • That Mo used to be more open to drug therapy discussions with her patients but she  now is very cautious to warn people about potential effects and impacts of withdrawal
  • That Mo has also changed her teaching approach to ensure that her students understand that the view of antidepressant drugs that we have been sold is not the reality that many experience
  • That the view of the drugs as safe, effective and non addictive is too simplistic
  • Mo’s own experiences with Prozac and finding that her own withdrawal was difficult but not as bad as she had witnessed with Alex, and that our experiences of withdrawal can vary widely
  • How Alex had also sought treatment outside the mental health system, in a naturally oriented facility, but still found that knowledge of how to support someone in withdrawal was virtually non existent
  • That Alex is now recovering, but it is a slow process
  • People going through withdrawal need family and friends support and probably not go near a treatment facility
  • Mo’s experience of the ‘biological model’ of psychiatry in her Doctoral clinical internship training and how dominant that message was
  • That people should think long and hard before committing to an antidepressant, they should research the pros and cons and look into all the available non drug options for help first

Relevant Links:

Domestic violence, Abuse and Child Custody: Legal strategies and policy issues

He’s just no good for you: a guide to getting out of a destructive relationship

Surviving Antidepressants

How to Listen:

To listen in iTunes, click here

To listen on YouTube, click here

To get in touch with us email: [email protected]