Olga Runciman: Moving Beyond Psychiatry


This week on MIA Radio we interview Olga Runciman. Olga is an international trainer and speaker, writer, campaigner, and artist. She co-founded the Danish Hearing Voices Network and sees the role of the Hearing Voices Movement as post-psychiatric, working towards the recognition of human rights while offering hope, empowerment, and access to making sense of individual experiences.

Olga was a psychiatric nurse working in social psychiatry but today she is a psychologist and since 2013 she has had her own private practice in Denmark, working with people who have been labelled schizophrenic or psychotic. Olga is herself a psychiatric survivor and a voice hearer too.

In this interview, we discuss Olga’s professional and personal experiences of the psychiatric system and how she now helps and supports healing and recovery in others.

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In the episode we discuss:

  • How Olga became a specialist psychiatric nurse in Denmark, believing at the time the reasons given for psychiatric diagnoses.
  • How she came to see that there was little evidence or corroboration to underpin the diagnosis and treatment that she witnessed.
  • How Olga was also a voice hearer but kept this hidden from her psychiatric colleagues.
  • How, when experiencing stress and trauma, Olga came to be admitted to a psychiatric ward, diagnosed as schizophrenic and treated with a cocktail of psychiatric drugs.
  • Olga’s experiences of the antipsychotic drug Clozapine.
  • How Olga came to stop her psychiatric drugs which she had been taking for ten years.
  • Psychiatry’s story of hopelessness and chronic illness that is so often sold to patients.
  • How Olga now views her work from a post-psychiatry perspective.

Relevant links:


Olga’s posts on Mad in America

The Hearing Voices network

International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

Postpsychiatry: a new direction for mental health

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

© Mad in America 2017


  1. A very interesting interview. How lucky Olga was able to escape from the horror that is psychiatric incarceration and drugging. Her contributions to the hearing voices network and her work as an educator and psychologist are commendable.
    I was struck by her comments about Clozapine, bc I recently read books and listened to interviews with Elyn Saks and Bethany Yeiser, who credit that same drug for their recovery and stability. How to explain this disparity?

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    • I don’t like Elyn Saks and Bethany Yeiser both because that’s exactly the story that everybody wants to hear ‘Bla-bla-bla, I’m awful condemned schizophrenic, I’m awful and probably shit but thanks to beautiful modern smart doctors with their drug cocktails and awful antipsychotics I’m finally got my stuff together and although I would be fat and ugly and dumb that’s all I can be because I’m schizophrenic’.

      And you also need to say that you forgive everybody who treated you like crap like your parents, your psychiatrists and all your peers, and you understand them and they are great people etc.

      Their stories is something like Hollywood romantic comedie, good guy gets the girl in the end and everybody is happy.

      Elyn Saks would get positive reviews and her book would be sold in thousands while the stories about trauma, abuse, humiliation and force hospitalization are swept under the rug.

      That’s one of the reason we lost so many beautiful people and continue to lose, like Matt Stevenson. All that lie, all that indiffirence, all that humiliation and all that contempt to traumatized people.

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    • Well, strangely, Saks and Yeiser are both slim and trim. And Yeiser lived homeless and “psychotic” for like 4 years, denying anything was wrong with her before giving in to “treatment”. And, I think Saks really tried to avoid hospitalization and drugs, relying on therapy while fighting scary thoughts about killing ppl with her mind.
      It is really difficult to say what is really happening when these two highly ambitious, intelligent, sensitive women claim they are able to function bc of these neurotoxic drugs.

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      • Saks used classical analysis (“lay down on the coach”) which proved to be not so effective.

        I don’t know specifically on clozapine weight gain though, quick search showed that clozapine is highly hepatotoxic. So given that Saks is cancer survivor is not a great choice anyway. If I’m recalling properly she was previously on Navane, which 1st generation and is not causing morbid obesity.

        I also don’t think Saks specifically sensitive. You can see it in her interview. Also from her book you’d get that she wasn’t widthdrawn from the drug for too long.

        I don’t know Yeiser biography so well, but I belive when the person in psychosis is ‘denying anything is wrong’ it is more about desire to be left alone.

        These two women would be even more intelligent and inline with their ambitions if only.

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    • I suspect it depends on the amount. I have noticed that the less in agreement one is with psychiatry the more likely one is to be heavily drugged. Most people do not require much of clozapine before they are pretty affected by it. Certainly for me had I remained on drugs (and not committed suicide) I would be living in group home unable to function.

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  2. Thank you for this valuable podcast.

    The impact and power is augmented by humility and modesty which contrasts so markedly with the arrogance, pomposity, self righteous coercion, deception and dogma of drug-dependent, mainstream psychiatry.

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists might afford due diligence to their motto: – Let Wisdom Guide – by listening to and acknowledging the evidence validity of Olga’s experience, analysis and outcome which is so eloquently recorded in this interview.

    TRM 123. Retired Consultant Physician.

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  3. How did you manage to find the escape velocity, finance and support to become a psychologist? I mean I can appreciate where the motivation came from, but you need more than that from the position you were in. For me it was the other way round, I went from being a skilled professional to being almost destroyed by psychiatry. What I find most difficult is that pretty much nobody believes a word you say, and you are just patronised. The friends, family and colleagues I had before are pretty much meaningless to me other than on a superficial level.

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