Stories – Not Diagnoses

From Mad in Norway: The annual Mad in Norway seminar was held on 2 December 2022 with over a hundred participants in attendance. This was the second year in a row that the seminar took place at Litteraturhuset in Oslo, and it has become a tradition. Following is a summary of the talks and events that took place.

Click here to read this article in English, or here for the original Norwegian.


  1. – “Words affect both the person who utters the words and those who receive them.”

    THAT’S an understatement. Psychiatric language devalues people and allows practitioners to talk down to them. Not very “therapeutic”.

    – “But psychiatry has the problem that it does not base itself on what people actually say, but what it thinks they mean.”

    Here’s what most psychiatrists (and psychologists) fail to see: that DSM “diagnoses” are no more accurate and even less useful than the Freudian interpretations of yesteryear. In other words, they’ve merely exchanged one bogus idea for another. Not very “insightful”.

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  2. “Johnstone points out that if you only have a trauma-informed focus, you can fall into a trap of becoming too individual-focused and forgetting the interaction with the power structures in society.”

    This point can’t be emphasized enough. Therapist who say they “treat trauma” are doing the same thing as those who use DSM labels, making “trauma” just another label that ignores the surrounding situation, or “story”.

    The only thing people need is to be heard by someone who doesn’t hijack their story, “trauma” or not.

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  3. This conference is a huge step in the right direction. But I’m afraid it’s just going to spawn another school of “therapy” that inevitably puts itself ahead the client. In other words, just another ego trip for unhealed, unconsciously insecure therapists.

    What helped me get beyond therapy better than anything was learning to heal myself through self-therapy, courtesy Daniel Mackler’s many videos and books. No gimmicks, just truth, through and through.

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  4. “The Power Imbalance”

    “Today, there are few opportunities to get help without also receiving a diagnosis.”

    This is the root of the problem caused by the current “mental health system”. As soon as a diagnosis is given, an insidious process of infantilization starts taking place that may not be dislodged until serious damage is done to someone’s self-concept. It’s as damaging as calling a child “bad”.

    “You make yourself the master of another through language and the power inherent in language.”

    This is exactly what psychiatric language does, FOR psychiatrists, and anyone else who uses it. It gives the illusion of power and knowledge when all it actually does is strip people of their own.

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  5. People need to learn better ways of taking care of themselves emotionally, and this doesn’t happen through “diagnoses”. It happens by being with others who openly share their own struggles, not people who hide behind “credentials” in order charge a fee.

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