Dr. George Atwood: Shattered Worlds, the Experience of Personal Annihilation


This week on MIA Radio, we interview Dr. George Atwood.

Dr. Atwood has devoted a substantial part of his life to the study and treatment of what he refers to as ‘so-called psychosis’.  He has authored or coauthored several books, including The Abyss of Madness published in 2011 and more than one hundred articles.


In the episode we discuss:

  • The story of how Dr. Atwood came to be interested in “so-called psychosis,” including what piqued his interest as a high school student, and his work under mentors Austin DesLauriers and Silvan Tomkins.
  • An overview of his more recent work on intersubjective theory with collaborator and friend, Robert Stolorow.
  • After studying what he refers to as “madness” for over 50 years, Dr. Atwood offers his perspective that madness is not a disease or illness existing within a person, but a subjective experience of self-dissolution or catastrophe.
  • How diagnostic classification systems can result in the false reification of mental diseases in a way that obscures individual realities.
  • The phenomenological approach, or the study of individual human subjective experiences, as offering a hopeful future in a shifting away from “illness” or “disorder” frameworks.
  • How psychotherapy, as a healing process, includes the relational context between clinician and patient, meriting a dedication to personal histories and contexts rather than overt symptoms.
  • The history of the term “schizophrenia,” and how terms such as these are embedded in a Cartesian medical model.
  • A few of Dr. Atwood’s clinical cases and particularly his perspectives on “so-called psychosis” and “so-called bipolar disorder.”

Relevant links:

Dr. George Atwood’s Personal Website with Works and Lectures

Unforgettable Abnormal Psychology Video Lecture 1, Part 1 by Dr. Atwood

Unforgettable Abnormal Psychology Video Lecture 1, Part 2

Unforgettable Abnormal Psychology Video Lecture 2, Part 1

Unforgettable Abnormal Psychology Video Lecture 2, Part 2

All Abnormal Psychology Video Lectures by Dr. Atwood

Unforgettable Personality Lectures by Dr. Atwood

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

© Mad in America 2017


  1. Well, Dr. Atwood, it looks like I’m visitor #8497, 8498, 8499, and 8500, according to the counter on your website. And I see there’s no way to contact you from it. Oh well. I’ve just spent 2 hours reading *most* of what’s on your website. Pretty good stuff. You say that you didn’t want to spend time on “medical training”, in order to become a psychiatrist, and so “settled” for a Ph.D. in psychology. As it is for ALL psychiatrists, said medical training would have been wasted. Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. The DSM is nothing more than a catalog of billing codes. All of the diagnostic allegations in it were invented, not discovered, to serve as excuses to sell drugs. Now that California has legalized all uses of cannabis, I would hope that Dr. E supplants his single-malt Scotch supply with an occasional carefully-chosen cannabis edible. I am NOT alive and well today *because* of the depredations of psychiatry, but in spite of them. If I had not read Dr. Breggins’ “Toxic Psychiatry” over 25 years ago, and had stayed with the demonic quack shrinks, I doubt I’d still be alive. Along with the Phrenology from which it arose, psychiatry belongs on the scrap heap of history. How can such otherwise well-educated persons perpetuate and perpetrate such suffering and EVIL upon the world? Finally, I want to agree with “Sa”, above. Too bad you encountered Zen, instead of the Dalai Lama’s Mahayana! Zen is nothing but head games and word games. And psychiatry is the sound of one brain farting! LOL

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