Coming May 4: A Second Panel on Ways To Support Extreme States


For all who couldn’t make Mad in America’s recent online discussion on extreme states, good news: a sequel is coming.  

“Part II: Supporting Extreme States, Dissociation, & Experiences Labeled as Psychosis,” set for 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4, will dive deeper into the subject with the same extraordinary panelists: Cindy Marty Hadge, Sam Ruck, and Olga Runciman, along with hosts Louisa Putnam and Kermit Cole. You can register right now at the eventbrite link. Tickets are $10 each, with a code provided—extremestates2—for anyone who can’t afford it. 

This time, the participants will be discussing ways to be present and provide caring, conscious validation in the midst of these states, with real-life examples of approaches that can lead to genuine recovery—a concept too rarely considered viable in a paradigm that leans so hard on diagnosis, drugs, and pathologizing. 

Once again, they’ll be speaking from vantages both personal and professional. Hadge is a Hearing Voices Network trainer with lived experience of extreme states; Runciman is a psychologist who specializes in them and has experienced them herself; Ruck is an MIA writer who has supported his wife through her dissociation; and hosts Putnam and Cole are therapists who moderate MIA’s US/Canada online parent support group

During the first panel, I was deeply moved by the intimate and honest stories being told, and by the aura of compassion that pervaded everything. Such compassion shouldn’t be seen as radical or unusual; it should be the norm. Neither, for that matter, should the effort to understand people experiencing extreme states—rather than judge and drug and dehumanize them—be anything but the first, clear, standard approach. The obvious one. 

In my years reading and working for Mad in America, I’ve long been touched by this quest to understand: to see and hear those in distress, comprehending them as whole human beings whose voices need to be heard. Listening should be imperative. And back in March, as the participants spoke of their experiences with candor, I was profoundly moved. (If you haven’t yet done so, check out the reflection Shelley Karpaty posted on her Meditations & Musings blog). 

So mark Saturday, May 4, on your calendars. And register here.  Learning, after all, is the first step to helping. 

—Amy Biancolli, Family Editor 

[email protected]


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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. I may not be able to attend the May 4th meeting, Amy. But I would like to share how I helped a loved one, who was experiencing a first ever – but the worst “psychotic” episodes – I’ve ever personally seen.

    At my loved one’s first hospitalization, I politely mentioned to the hospital psychiatrist, that “I mean no offense, but I’m a critical psychiatry person, and psychopharmacological researcher.” That young psychiatrist’s response was, “So am I.” I politely requested my loved one NOT be given an anticholinergic drug.

    My loved one was calmed down with a benzo, as I expected, but that did not work.

    At my loved one’s second hospitalization, I was unable to prevent him from being put on an antipsychotic initially. And, the lack of a proper withdrawal from that forced tranquilizer, did result in a “drug withdrawal induced supersensitive manic psychosis.”

    My loved one was finally put into the psych hospital at his third hospitalization (he unintentionally called emergency services on himself, via a struggle over my cell phone).

    But my loved one’s hospital psychiatrist did call me, upon my loved one’s request. Where I politely explained that my family has a history of extremely adverse reactions to the anticholinergic drugs, and I confessed I’d dealt with what would best be described as “criminal abuse of psychiatry … a ‘bad fix’ on a broken bone, covered up with complex iatrogenesis.”

    This did result in my loved one being treated politely, with a low dose of lithium only. Lithium does take a little longer to stabilize a hospitalized person (my loved one was hospitalized for about 10 days, instead of being discharged on antipsychotics within 3 days, like most the other psych patients).

    But it did work, at least so far (it’s only been since last fall, so we’ll see). But a 600mg/day course of lithium, did help the most “psychotic” person I’ve ever personally seen … and likely also the most “psychotic” person the ambulance driver, who took my loved one to the hospital the third time, ever saw.

    It was kind of cute how that ambulance driver ran into all the other paramedics, after speaking to me, to say my loved one was “NOT violent” … so this approach may not work with actually violent, rather than merely “psychotic,” people.

    And the psychiatric and psychological industries should stop fraudulently claiming all the people they make “psychotic,” via “anticholinergic toxidrome” poisonings, or a “drug withdrawal induced manic psychosis,” are “violent.” They aren’t.

    Just an FYI, my loved one’s actual etiology was likely being appropriately taken off a known (according to bad drug cocktail of heart meds which were destroying my loved one’s kidneys, but not being put back on an appropriate heart med … combined with likely alcohol induced encephalitis.

    Please pray my loved one stays off the alcohol, which the doctors who live in the town AA was founded, didn’t even recommend as a treatment for possible alcohol encephalitis. No doubt, since that’s not profitable for the doctors.

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