Overcoming the Madness in Us All

Peter Breggin, MD
33
4852

To paraphrase Shakespeare, “One touch of madness makes the whole world kin.” Madness is an entirely relative matter: some of us have a “touch” and others of us have been there and back, more than once or twice. To understand one person’s madness is, to some degree, to understand everyone’s, because these experiences share much in common.

I believe that everything we call madness, craziness, psychosis, serious personal problems, problems in living—the whole spectrum of emotional suffering and personal failure—usually have two underlying intertwined struggles going on within the individual. Since madness itself can be difficult to define or to come to an agreement about, it can help individuals to ask themselves if they are struggling with these two issues.

One struggle has to do with overcoming feelings of helplessness. The other has to do with overcoming feelings of being unworthy or undeserving of love. Put them together and we have helplessness in the face of feeling unworthy or undeserving of love. To understand this is to understand a great deal of what drives us human beings “over the edge” emotionally and into personal failure in our lives.

My personal experience, my clinical work, and all those other things that go into trying to understand life, have led me in recent times to focus increasingly on those two expressions of psychological vulnerability—feeling helpless and feeling unworthy or undeserving of love.

Feelings of helplessness can be experienced in many ways. Anxiety is its more raw and primitive experience, and probably comes closest to what an agitated, upset infant is going through. With age, it can morph into shame and guilt, as well as anger and emotional numbing. Living a good life is profoundly aided by overcoming these emotions. This involves identifying these negative legacy emotions, rejecting them as feelings to obey or to act upon, and determining to live by reason and love.

Sometimes we experience it as demoralizing guilt, at other times burning shame or terrifying anxiety, and sometimes all three at once. We may escape into frustration, anger and rage, but beneath always lies fear and helplessness. We may hear voices or see things that others don’t experience, or more mundanely tie ourselves in knots with obsessions and compulsions. At the root there is the core human experience of childlike levels of anxiety and helplessness, along with feeling undeserving of human care, attention and love.

Similarly, while there are many ways to overcome personal crises and madness, they all have something in common—overcoming feelings of helplessness that are often attached to feelings of being unworthy of love.

Madness as Human Growth

What I mean by madness is an experience of overwhelming emotional distress that leaves us feeling isolated, abandoned, frightened, helpless and unlovable, or worse, unworthy or undeserving of love. As emphasized at the beginning of this post, the experience of madness is entirely relative. For some people it may mean vague feelings of being unable to cope or manage life or a sense of something “strange” or “unreal” happening. In most extreme states, the individual may be enmeshed in a nightmarish horror surrounded by hallucinations. Psychiatry tries to parse out the more extreme manifestations of human distress by making simplistic artificial diagnoses to justify drugging, shocking, isolating and/or involuntarily “treating” the individual.

With sufficient trauma—such as various forms of brainwashing, torture, and unrelenting abuse—extreme madness can probably be brought out in almost anyone. When we admire martyrs such as Socrates, Joan of Arc, and the abolitionist John Brown, it is partly because in a good cause they found the strength not to break down and not to recant their values. However, in addition to current stressors, most of the time there are deep-seated vulnerabilities from childhood smouldering beneath madness and erupting in youth or adulthood.

Severe madness has been called an “extreme state,” “alternative reality,” “emotional overwhelm” or “psychospiritual crisis.” It typically feels like the end of our lives or the end of the world, or both. Yet such horrific experiences can motivate us to reweave our personal and social fabric into a new artistic, spiritual, or even political perspective and approach to our lives.

From Moses, Jesus and Buddha to Lincoln, Gandhi and Churchill, the lives of people we highly value were rarely “normal” by psychiatric standards. Psychiatrists have diagnosed every one of them with degrading labels such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Perhaps we cannot become fully human without going through our own experience of madness or terrifying overwhelm, whether it manifests as adolescent angst, a midlife crisis, or an outright “psychotic break.”

Childhood Origins of Madness

Scientific evidence that has been evolving for years confirms that childhood trauma, including neglect, sets the stage for adult madness. From the perspective of developmental psychology and attachment theory, what we call madness commonly results from the holes or rips in the social fabric that have been woven into us from infancy

As infants we were born into utter dependency, with the consequence of inevitable episodes of fear and helplessness. Wholly unable to survive on our own, we were repeatedly rescued and transformed by those who nurtured us. Those who raise us create the social fabric in which we develop, making our personalities and identities in many ways inseparable from our experiences with the people who raised us. Extremes of madness or emotional overwhelm often result from a lack of or a tearing apart of this intimately woven internal and external social fabric in our early lives. Less severe emotional struggles will also be fueled by lesser but inevitable times of emotional difficulty in childhood.

It therefore makes sense that the “solutions” to madness always involve a healing of the internal and external social fabric through developing new and better approaches to life, usually along with new and better relationships.

My Personal and Clinical Experience

I do not separate my experience of myself—my own suffering and my own attempts to grow—from my clinical experience. In therapy, I often share my personal experiences to make clear that we are all much alike in both misery and recovery, and to offer hope for a person’s ability to transform themselves for the better to at least the level I seem to have achieved. I find little or nothing in myself that I have not seen in others and what I see in others I also see in myself. This viewpoint or attitude helps me maintain the necessary humility required for helping other people.

In a presentation titled “What Makes Us Suffer and Ultimately Recover—Or Not,” I have recently opened my own heart on my radio/TV series to describe the importance to me of feeling “unworthy of love.” It is an experience, I believe, that many people share as among their most devastating fears, anxieties and sources of anguish.

In a follow-up presentation on January 1, 2020, called “The Best Stuff I Have Learned from Life,” I have described my experience of a “loving presence” in my life and in the world. It is something I can experience as often as I choose for spiritual refreshment. I know firsthand how sensing or experiencing the loving presence can reaffirm our basic human worthiness to love and be loved. It can also help us to remember the potential for love in all people.

Based on my personal and clinical experience, I believe that the greatest challenge or threat to our identities and mental soundness comes from the fear of being unworthy of love. We cannot ameliorate this dread wholly on our own but must instead rely in part on resources outside ourselves who invite, encourage, exemplify or draw out our own capacity to feel and to give love.

This is the practical sum of my wisdom: There is love and then there is everything else, all the dreadful and demoralizing stuff, including the breakdown of our sense of self and our relationship with others, ending in overwhelm and madness. To love others, nature, art, pets—to love any aspect of life—is incompatible with madness and provides the way through madness to a better life. And there is a loving presence in the universe upon which we can draw for refreshment and inspiration.

To become a loving human being presents most of us with a significant challenge. To fulfill our promise, we must, again in Shakespeare’s words, overcome “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” We must overcome our own human nature with all its flaws and inner contradictions, and our developmental history with its deficiencies and acquired conflicts. This is our task and our adventure; and it never ends so long as we are alive; and, who knows, it may continue beyond life.

Psychiatry and Madness

Our lifelong task and adventure of taking on life with reason and love can be thwarted by exposure to psychiatric drugs or other psychoactive substances. That is because anything that broadly interferes with the function of our brains will impair our frontal lobe function which then makes it more difficult for us to love, to relate to others, and to affirm higher values.

Diagnoses of madness such as brief psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and panic disorder are created and applied to people in order to justify the power of psychiatry and its physical treatments, all of which do more harm than good. In the last half century, this psychiatric authority has become nothing more than the cowardly, avaricious sales department of the Pharmaceutical Empire.

We are much more than our brains; but drug-induced brain dysfunction impairs our ability to know and to express ourselves as souls, beings, or persons. Psychotherapy can help, provided it is protected by ethical restraints and suits our nature and personal needs; but no help, advice or encouragement will help without our finding the determination and courage to overcome our childhood feelings of helplessness and our negative emotions, including our conviction that we are unworthy love.

How Can We Ameliorate Madness?

Many experienced therapists are finding a common ground in their emphasis on discarding the medical model and psychiatric drugs—and replacing them with caring relationships. Psychologist Michael Cornwall sums up his experience and attitudes in “Reflections on 25,000 Hours of Being With People in Extreme States.” In an autobiographical essay, he emphasizes the importance of “merciful love.” Michael himself endured such an extreme state which overcame him as a young man: “The strange experience of time itself during my extreme states could be measured in agonizing periods of being attacked by tortuous disembodied voices while terrifying, inescapable images filled my mind’s eye.”

Similarly to Michael, in an early book, Toxic Psychiatry, I began referring to so-called psychiatric disorders as experiences of “emotional overwhelm” and also as “psychospiritual crises;” and Michael’s phrase “extreme states” serves as well. My own emphasis on love and empathy is also consistent with his idea of merciful love.

Here are the first three of my 15 Guidelines for Empathic Therapy ®:

  • We treasure those who seek our help and we view therapy as a sacred and inviolable trust. With humility and gratitude, we honor the privilege of being therapists.
  • We rely upon relationships built on trust, honesty, caring, genuine engagement and mutual respect.
  • We bring out the best in ourselves in order to bring out the best in others.

These three guidelines, if applied to all our relationships, will build a good life for us and those near and dear to us. They will also enable us to help others with whom we relate, professionally or not.

The Ultimate Source of Love?

To be their happiest and most fulfilled, people need to think and act upon genuine love. But how can that be done, given how unreliable, untrustworthy, erratic and evil people can be in the way they treat each other? How can we live imbued with love when even the most loving human relationship can be destroyed by death? Everyone who has thought about it knows that we cannot live by the motto, “In Other People We Trust.”

All humans are deeply flawed, with many of us failing to come close to acting by our own standards, at least for periods in our lives. Even worse, some people handle their own sense of unworthiness by jumping at the opportunity for making other people feel worthless.

Given the flaws in all of us, it is no wonder that many people find healing through faith in a loving God. Here spirituality or religion can come together with psychology with an understanding of the universal need to feel worthy of love, and ultimately to give and to receive love. Similarly, it is no wonder that so many people turn to a higher power to find strength, which is ultimately the strength to overcome the feelings of helplessness that have afflicted us since childhood.

A good place for healing, what used to be called a therapeutic community, and a place of worship or church, should have in common the creation of a loving space in which people feel empowered to confront and overcome their emotional helplessness. The same is true for the psychotherapy setting, which can be viewed as a mini-utopia in which reason and love are the standard for relationship. Ultimately, this is what all good, intimate relationships are about—overcoming feelings of helplessness and related feelings of being unworthy of love.

How do we know and recognize love or a loving relationship? By how it brings us to take joy in the existence of other human beings and by how it leads everyone involved to care about, respect, protect and nurture them.

Everything good between and among human beings begins with and draws on empowering, loving relationships. Love and self-empowerment are the most essential ingredients in all the activities we call therapy, healing, recovery, rehabilitation, self-empowerment, personal growth, or enlightenment. Overcoming our feelings of helplessness and becoming a source of love are the most wonderful things we can do for ourselves and others. Life offers many roads for recovery and self-transformation, from therapy and education to friendship, family, work, nature, and spirituality. At the heart of all personal growth is the experience of feeling empowered to love and be loved, which lifts us beyond ourselves to a joyful and treasuring awareness of all that is good in ourselves, others, and life.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Peter, for sharing such a valuable message of heartfelt caring! Reading it brought feelings of reassurance and hope, that it’s possible to begin to relieve the suffering of trauma and alienation we all experience in varying intensity in life, through claiming our right to feel the healing presence of self-love and love for others. You have for decades fought against the incredible harm done by the failed institution of psychiatry and the human rights violations of inflicting ECT, psychosurgery, brain damaging drugs and pathologizing labels on countless people.
    But during all those years of fighting the harm done by psychiatry, you also held out and practiced the alternative vision of caregivers offering empathic and compassionate support for people in emotional pain and suffering.
    Thank you my friend for your tireless commitment to both protecting and loving countless people, as your vocation continues to shine in this article here and now.

    • Good to hear from Dr Breggin to start off 2020. For some reason the backstory to the Soderburgh movie “Unsane” comes to mind after reading some of the articles on this site. The corporate rehab, Big Pharma symbiosis. I’m not strictly against either one but the corruption seems to be ignored by too many except for the rare long NYT or magazine article.

      I’ve had auditory hallucinations since 2003. In my 50’s I had the usual menu of anti-psych drugs followed by what I would call extreme states beyond insomnia caused delusions and then managed to come out the other side still alive and in decent shape. All the prescriptions made things exponentially worse. My one voluntary hospitalization was a major mistake. (My insurance may or may not have had something to do with the length of my stay.) My version of “extreme” 10 years ago might be called something milder by a professional. Today, no anti-psych prescriptions for 10+ years, no prescriptions for anything.

      Back then the professional emphasis was compliance and stigma. 10 years later? Little change except for high concept brain ghial cell inflammation as either cause or effect. Depression drugs are said by an ex-girlfriend to have improved. Good for them and her.

      I made the mistake of briefly mentioning the above to my GP. Amazing to see the change in his attitude. To him I am now one of “them.”

  2. All humans are deeply flawed,

    This is getting a bit much. I miss the old Dr. Breggin. There are enough preachers to go around already. But if we’re all “deeply flawed” I guess we could all use some of that “empathic therapy,” huh?

    “Toxic Psychiatry” is more up my alley.

    • I agree oldhead.

      Dr. Breggin has done excellent work with Toxic Psychiatry, Medication Madness, and other books. It is great that he encourages empathy, love, and even faith in God. These things are wonderful. But of course they have nothing to do with psychiatry. Psychiatry is inherently the very opposite of empathy, love, and faith in God. Psychiatry is a pseudo-scientific system of slavery that masquerades as a medical profession. I will never tire of saying it. Psychiatry is the very cause of the problems that it purports to remedy. Psychiatry is torture, abuse, and deception. It is the antithesis of all that is good.

      Of course we are all deeply flawed. Of course we all need enabling power to love and to be loved. But if we truly wish to love those who have been labeled as “mad” or “mentally ill,” we need to start thinking more clearly about what is going on. Thomas Szasz was exactly right. So-called “mental illness” is a myth. It is a destructive myth that spreads through the “chemical imbalance” hoax and the aid of the wretched psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex.

      Do we truly want to understand madness? Please allow me to elucidate the matter: It is sheer madness to suppose that psychiatry can be improved upon or fixed. It is madness to suppose that anything but the abolition of psychiatry will help the millions of innocent victims of psychiatry. It is madness to pretend that empathy, love, and any amount of so-called “psychotherapy” can supplement the unspeakable harm that is caused by psychotropic drugs, the vicious labels of the DSM, and the litany of abuses for which psychiatry is guilty.

      Enough is enough. Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry.

        • Don’t be too hard on yourself. I believe that it is natural for those in distress to seek solutions from those who are perceived to be authority figures or persons capable of offering healing. It is human.

          Psychiatry has deceived the entire planet, but now you are one of the few who has been enlightened. It’s kind of like the Matrix. You took the red pill and you discovered the truth. Now you can help in the resistance.

        • Or are we supposed to overcome our “sanity” in order to gain pride in our newfound madness? War, environmental degradation, and putting profit over people all along have been equated with “sanity” while our present head of state is about as big “a danger to self and others” as you are likely to run across in several lifetimes.

          Regarding “flawed”, I don’t know about “deeply”, but you find “perfection”, and you’ve just performed an instant lobotomy on yourself.

        • Good question oldhead.

          It’s all bogus. We need to stop pretending that somehow we are all mad in order to express solidarity with those who have been labeled as “mentally ill.”

          Instead of the insane claim that we are all mad, why don’t we just work to abolish psychiatry along with all of the fictitious diseases that it manufactures.

          Every human being, to varying degrees, is born with the capacity to reason, to choose, and to act. Labeling people as “mad,” whether oneself or others, is foolish.

  3. Thank you for your community service in leadership of important challenges to abuses by psychiatry.

    “I often share my personal experiences to make clear that we are all much alike in both misery and recovery.” Do you believe that children experience similarly distressful experiences? Might being a financially secure, widely admired community leader make your “recovery” from “helplessness” appear more atypical than exemplary?

    I really appreciate the emphasis of the post on promoting love and a more kind, caring community to reduce human suffering; thank you again for your community service.

  4. I first read Dr. Breggins’ “Toxic Psychiatry” in 1992, or 3…. He set a snowball rolling that SAVED my LIFE, and allowed me to escape from the dead-end evil hell of the pseudoscience drug racket known as psychiatry&psych DRUG$$$….Toxic guilt and toxic shame describe and explain ALMOST ALL of what Dr. Breggin describes here, and a conscious and deliberate turn towards the REALITY of the here and now, total acceptance of ourselves and reality as IT IS, can lead us to WHOLE, HEALTHY, and HAPPY LIVES, which should be our birthright….
    So-called “mental illness” is something that either we ALL have, or else NONE of us have it. It must be ONE or the OTHER…. I now see myself as ONE with ALL that IS…. Guess I’m just a chronic undifferentiated normal human dude!…. But I still can’t drive 55….

  5. Psychiatry made me hate myself and inspired me to fear life as well as to dread my future, so every action I took came from these beliefs, consciously or unconsciously. And, in fact, I could not take much action because these chronic feelings led to spiritual and emotional paralysis. Whatever actions I did manage to take from this perspective, it amounted to self-sabotage.

    To heal the suffering which this was causing, I had to learn to love myself again (which meant calling out abuse in the moment and walking away from it, radical self-care, and trusting my inner voice and intuition over any dissenting opinion of others), which I believe is our natural state of being before it becomes corrupt with negative projections and internalized oppressive self-beliefs (starts early!), and then to embrace life from a new perspective, that of the soul, which, in essence, is everything. That allowed me to shift my beliefs into one more aligned with spiritual awareness, which encompasses the entirety of our existence, rather than merely the physical aspect of it, which is miniscule in the bigger picture. We can choose to see spirit in others, and that is a whole new perspective on humanity, and we can feel this in our hearts because it is where we are universally connected.

    There is so much more to us than meets the eye, and that’s where love is clear, profound, and abundant, and creativity is limitless. Embracing and learning our multi-dimensionality is to gift ourselves with integral awareness, and that is truly powerful, from the heart. Radical shift in perspective would mean radical shift in the world, unfolding into a heart and spirit based reality. This is what gets my vote, and my attention.

      • “the more time I spend loving myself and others, the less time I spend in fear or anxious or despairing. It’s definitely a shift in perspective.”

        That’s it! Thank you, always, kindredspirit, for your encouragement and for your crystal clarity. I know you are a light and a healer as well, I’ve said this often on here.

        This has been some journey to get to this, but this is absolutely the crux of it, from what I’ve been able to gather, THE healing. I so understand it is not easy sometimes, but once we get it, it does get easier I think, because it becomes our new familiar, based on good feelings because we are perceiving the unity of spirit over the illusion of separation (ego, competition, us vs. them, etc). That is love triumphing over fear.

        That’s the self-healing, choosing to focus on that which we love, enjoy, feel moved by– feeling those feelings and practicing them with conscious focus. And indeed, it is our most natural anti-anxiety, we soothe ourselves from the inside, simply from choosing how we focus and practicing it deliberately.

        That’s our power, and really and truly, it is based on love, it’s not abstract when we actually feel it. And indeed, this will elicit new thoughts, new inspiration, and new manifestation. How could it not? And there is core change, right there.

        Were we all to practice this, the world would change with such greater ease because we are changing from the inside, it is organic not forced. Our physical cells respond to these feelings, and it can only ripple outward, that is nature. Giving and receiving love is the path we’re wanting to access, and that will allow energy to flow, which is where we find all the good stuff, including greater ease in life, which I cherish.

        That is exactly mind, body, and spirit synchroncity. Healing and manifesting are rather breezy once we’ve achieved that. There’s always something to master, that’s the fun of life, I think.

        And I learned this to overcome the effects of the psychiatric scapegoating game. I became a scapegoat even among “peers” at one point, when my healing really took off. So I got on everyone’s shit list during this time and got “the treatment,” as I was trying to recover from all this and create my way forward. It was maddening all over again, but practicing unconditional self love saved my life this time, and I was finally able to get out of that loop.

        Now I can love others–and life–unconditionally, although I continue to discern what is good vs. what is not so good for me, which is how I practice self-love. We’re all human, even our perceived “enemies,” (I don’t like that word, but to make a point). Work in progress!

        Relationships are never easy, but they should at least be fulfilling and enriching, and definitely not draining! For me, it’s a co-creatorship, and that can only be based on mutual love & respect to have any value in the world.

    • I liken it more to “psychopathy”
      If I go to a church, I might be told to pray for forgiveness.
      But people pray and don’t feel forgiven
      Psychiatry says “you have an illness”
      In both cases, while we are in a state of vulnerability, already of self doubt,
      so in a highly suggestive place,
      it takes a suggestion to make us feel “broken”.
      The power of different levels of power between two people, one being
      the authority, the one we go to during a time of self doubt, can have disastrous effects.
      The stuff we go to healers with, are not sins or mental illness.
      In fact, psychiatry could name all problems “self doubt”.
      One is in a highly vulnerable beat up mode, and highly vulnerable to being
      hurt by more negativity, which are states a psychopath is drawn to.
      Why do you think doctors are taught to distance, to resist “manipulation”

      Psychiatry offers numbing, not growing and changing.
      It works identically to a cult.
      Mapping the brain would never heal psychiatry because it has nothing
      to do with lack of science.

    • Thank you for speaking the truth, as always, Dr. Breggin. I agree, the ability to love, and being loved, is how to help people heal. God’s love got me through the insanity of today’s satanic, hatred filled, defamation, and neurotoxic poisoning psychiatric/psychologic system.

      And that love, combined with my love of my child, whose abuse the psychiatric and psychologic “professionals” wanted to cover up for profit for a pastor, did allow me to help my abused child heal. He graduated from university Phi Beta Kappa not long ago, in addition to winning a psychology award.

      Healing child abuse survivors is something today’s psychologists and psychiatrists claim is impossible. Because their hatred, defamation, and systemic neurotoxic poisoning of millions of child abuse survivors system, unsurprisingly, only harms people. Love is the answer instead, I agree.

      https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo
      https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/

      And not only is this systemic, psychological/psychiatric child abuse covering up system illegal, it’s also by design. Since NO “mental health” worker today may EVER bill ANY insurance company for EVER helping ANY child abuse survivor EVER. Unless they first MISDIAGNOSE EVERY child abuse survivor with one of their “invalid” DSM disorders, which is what they all do.

      https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-child-does-not-have-bipolar-disorder/201402/dsm-5-and-child-neglect-and-abuse-1

      Today’s “mental health” industry is one gigantic, primarily child abuse covering up, system. But the “mental health” workers are wrong, child abuse survivors can heal, with love, and when a mom succeeds in keeping her child away from the neurotoxic poisoning psychiatrists. And the insane school social workers, who want to get their hands on the well behaved children, merely because they’ve healed from the child abuse, and are intelligent.

      Wanting to neurotoxic poison the best and brightest American children really shouldn’t be the goal of the school social workers, however. But a psychologist did confess to me that is the goal of the “mental health” workers, since their goal is to maintain the satanic status quo. I think the “pedophile empire” should be ended instead.

      https://www.amazon.com/Pedophilia-Empire-Chapter-Introduction-Disorder-ebook/dp/B0773QHGPT

  6. “With sufficient trauma—such as various forms of brainwashing, torture, and unrelenting abuse—extreme madness can probably be brought out in almost anyone.”

    A truth that is being exploited by the hospital staff at one hospital that I can name. When they don’t like the truth, they subject you (and your family) to some of the most vile abuses I’ve ever witnessed. “We’ll fuking destroy you” I was told by the Operations Manager for my complaint regarding the ‘spiking’ of me and the use of a known torture method to enable me to be ‘verballed’. And they have the full support of the Chief Psychiatrist and the Minister for Mental Health.

    Yes I can now be slandered as being ‘mad’, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact it only really started the day that I was tortured and kidnapped (it would be ‘referral’ and ‘detention’ had I been a “patient”, hence the need for fraudulent documents and negligent lawyers) by a State Government that is concealing their human and civil rights abuses with negligence, fraud and slander disguised as medicine.

    The State knows no love, the State knows one thing, that no matter what they are always right, despite the harm inflicted on their own citizens.

  7. Wouldn’t we feel helpless and unworthy if we never connected with our parents? If we never felt known or understood by them it presents an almost impossible situation to the mind, since we come with the need to feel present in some other minds. Madness could be the way the mind tries to find a way to manage our life when what we need for survival is absent. And maybe we underestimate the level of connection we need.

  8. Dr. Breggin, This essay was a crisp, clear, wave of sparkling water going into the new year.
    I am finally healed from my decade buried in the industry following a false ‘lifelong’ bipolar diagnosis (2004)…courtesy of the DSM IV tidal wave.
    After 11 years of side effect horrors, I roused what was left of my lizard-brain and successfully, ‘officially’ reversed the ‘lifelong’ diagnosis & had professional (albeit 1st-time for the doc) guidance off the drugs for 2+ years (2016).
    I have worked thru the 3 subsequent years of 18 seizures (they stopped early 2019)…rebuilding my brain & body, deciding who I was going to be for what was left of my life at 69…and chose joy, not bitterness. It wasn’t a clear & obvious choice during that time.

    My 3rd act begins this year-moving back ‘home’ cross-country (I never thought I would/could return), re-starting my business-a modestly successful artist…. & buying a beautiful new nest.

    Your essay captures so much of what I learned about myself & life BECAUSE of this terrible thing that happened. Who knew?

    I’m SO happy to be alive….& know I’m NOT helpless….i can count on myself.
    Perspective is everything…my anger & outrage are compartmentalized…& under control. They’re part of me like battle scars…. I let them out occasionally & let them stretch their legs. Feels right & good.

    In the end, I got lucky and I know it. Most don’t get 2nd chances in that terrible place. I still fear REAL illness & definitely know evil is always present in the world….. I keep my ‘exit’ paperwork on my phone…just in case.

    And now I’m on to ‘Carpe Omnia’.
    Life is short.
    Thx, Doc.

  9. I have found my biggest problem has been the re-search. At least I think that was/is the problem or part of it.
    I remain my own researcher. I only discovered through trials I conducted, that if I or others measured myself against others I failed miserable. I then conducted another trial 20 years later and found my first trail had been biased.
    I am in the third phase of my research.

  10. Psychiatry is an absolute crime. Crime in essence, according tasks that it is called to solve. She is the crime and from the standpoint of the current law. Psychiatry is contrary to the fundamental principles of law. Not a violation of psychiatric rules is a crime. Enforcing psychiatric rules is a crime. There is no and there can be no reason to legitimize psychiatry. This is my position, my convic-tion, which I adhere to all my life. And life happened terrible. More than once I caught myself thinking that I was probably the worst victim of psychiatry. There are grounds for such an assessment. And because the I suffered so badly, I have the right to have my own judgment. My fate gives me such a right.
    In 2015, I opened a petition: https://goo.gl/sMnJ6y In fact, in this petition, I basi-cally set out my claims to humanity, which permits such a monstrous atrocity, which is psychiatry. This petition suffered a sad fate. – From the very beginning, Facebook admins, and then change.org, blocked signatures. And from the very beginning, I many times paid attention to it. Wrote about it wherever he could. Despite this, without any embarrassment, the signatures continued to be blocked.
    Two years later, the petition was closed. At that time, 1517 signatures were listed. At the moment, there are 1505 signatures. That is, after the petition was closed, the number of signatures was reduced by 12. How much were they re-duced during action the petition? !!!
    Even then, I drew attention to the fact that neither Facebook admins nor any of-ficials needed to block signatures. This is necessary exclusively for psychiatrists. And of course, signatures were blocked according to the wishes of psychiatrists. So they have the ability to exert pressure and force the ad-min of social networks. And not only them. It looks like these criminals have tremendous power. This, their unlimited power, explains the continuation of the legitimate activities of psy-chiatry in spite of the monstrous victims and all the efforts of opponents of psychiatry.

  11. Thanks Dr. Breggin for your words of wisdom, kindness and genuine advocacy for those who must deal with adversities.

    “In therapy, I often share my personal experiences to make clear that we are all much alike in both misery and recovery.”

    Yes, so very true, and unfortunately that truth, insight and humility is severely lacking in psychiatry and is at the core of why psychiatry ends up being so harmful.

    Thanks for everything you do. Wishing you and Ginger good health and much happiness in 2020!

  12. “helplessness”

    “unworthy or undeserving of love”

    and together,

    “helplessness in the face of feeling unworthy or undeserving of love”

    I didn’t really have the words, but these are very close to describing what feels like the pit that is the core and source of my “madness” – chronic (sometimes major) depression, personal failure, etc.

    I had a lot of therapy on and off over the last 55 years – the last one terminated by the therapist who said she “did not have the emotional resources” to continue. I had feelings and responses from that rejection unlike anything else in my adult life. Six months later I re-cognized the feelings and responses with feelings I had had in connection with my family. Unbearable, traumatic even, and I had numbed it out? I was in-the-bed depressed for 2 days after that and then pretty depressed and withdrawn for several months, slowly crawling back out but not especially “well”.

    With regard to dependency and side effects, antidepressant drugs had very little effect on me so I hadn’t taken them much. But I had a lot of therapy, and now believe I developed a dependency on that which was unhealthy. Except that – well, eventually the numbed out pain was reactivated? Leading maybe to something better? Except that, again, how to move forward at 72, and why did it take so long to get here?

    “. . .Those who raise us create the social fabric in which we develop, making our personalities and identities in many ways inseparable from our experiences with the people who raised us. Extremes of madness or emotional overwhelm often result from a lack of or a tearing apart of this intimately woven internal and external social fabric in our early lives. Less severe emotional struggles will also be fueled by lesser but inevitable times of emotional difficulty in childhood.

    It therefore makes sense that the “solutions” to madness always involve a healing of the internal and external social fabric through developing new and better approaches to life, usually along with new and better relationships.”

    Based on my long and sometimes harmful experience with psychotherapy I believe there is an enormous need for a better understanding of how these fabrics are created, what makes healthy and resilient ones, and how to help mend them – both internal and external. That’s a focus that could radically change our approach to “mental health”.

    • Hi mellaatmad,
      Sometimes therapy people listen but seem to keep people in the same place.
      The person doesn’t quite know why they are in the chair, so they and the therapist
      look as to the “why”.
      So the same stories get repeated, week after week. If repeating stories deepen the channels, repeated
      brooding, then I am not sure how “therapy” can help.
      Rejection hurts and is something psychiatry does with labels and meds. I think to be dropped like a hot potato tells us we are not special enough to invest in. And the feeling of rejection is rarely pleasant for anyone that is invested in a relationship.
      Yet it also tells us the other person might not be emotionally stable enough to tolerate. Call it a mismatch.
      And on both sides, therapist and client, the word ‘resiliency’ plays a role.
      If we drop a therapist, they most likely would not get that depressed about it, yet if every client dropped them, perhaps they might.
      It is all about how many resources we have, in and out and is what you address.

      It remains one of my questions. How does the mind dislodge from the very thing that brought them to therapy?

      I know psychiatry is not the answer to failed therapy, and perhaps most therapy is not an answer to psychiatry.

      I also know that people who are in certain places, certain what we refer to as ‘personality’, bring a richness to the collective social fabric.