Monday, April 6, 2020

Blogs

Essays by a diverse group of writers, in the United States and abroad, engaged in rethinking psychiatry. (The directory of personal stories can be found here, and initiatives here).

A Peek Inside the Modern Asylum

The psychiatric hospital of today is a panopticon, a modern prison for the daring mind and for weird behavior. I was once inside and thus, am inviting you to have a look. I will take your hand, and encourage you to join me, on an exploration of the inside of the psychiatric institution. We'll have a small peek, but in reality, it is much more distressing for the one who is being observed.
man sits on floor against wall of tunnel

Social Determinants of Health and the Continued Individualization of Suffering

We need to stop believing that suffering people are genetically inferior or “diseased.” You, as sufferer, are not alone in having social determinants of health. They are universal. They are systemic. And they are not solvable or “addressable” at the individual level. The only way to alleviate negative social determinants of health is to create a more equitable, inclusive, and just society.
supreme court

Supreme Court Decides Case on Insanity Defense

The debate between the majority and dissent shows how distorted and destructive the stereotypes of madness are as they have passed down through the law. But there are also winds of change coming from tensions inherent in the insanity defense itself, and we should take this opportunity to develop some sensible policies.
Madwomen in the Attic logo

Making a Mad Community, from Attic to Attic: Part Two

Part Two: Jessica Lowell Mason describes founding a mad community, Madwomen in the Attic, the challenges faced during its first year, the importance of community, and projects and hope for the future. "This two-part piece outlines our struggle to build a mad community across locations, across differences, across challenges, across borders and barriers, across countries."
Madwomen in the Attic logo

Making a Mad Community, from Attic to Attic: Part One

Part One: Jessica Lowell Mason describes her personal experiences with involuntary commitment, the psychiatric system, and the courts—leading to her founding of a mad community, Madwomen in the Attic. "This two-part piece outlines our struggle to build a mad community across locations, across differences, across challenges, across borders and barriers, across countries."
papercut figures surrounding quarantined COVID virus

US Considering Policies That Will Lead to Mass Death Of Psychiatric Patients

Being a psychiatric patient likely puts you at much greater risk for illness or dying from COVID-19. While most of the talk about "mental health in the time of the pandemic" focuses on mindfulness, ways to relieve your stress, and the accessibility to psychiatrists during social distancing, this reality of COVID-19 and mental health is being overlooked.
silhouette of soldiers

The Persistent, Misdirected Search for Causes of Trauma-based Suffering

In the United States and other countries that have a military, there is often a great deal of talk about supporting veterans, but way too often, research aimed at learning what will be helpful is misguided and can even be harmful. The same applies to nonveterans who have been through traumatic experiences. Two new studies exemplify such wrongheaded approaches.
human rights

Joint Statement on COVID-19 and Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities

During this global pandemic, organizations have come together to issue a joint statement making recommendations to governments on how to respect and ensure the human rights of people with psychosocial disabilities, who are among the groups more vulnerable to human rights violations as well as infection with and severity of the illness.
man wearing suit with tv for head

The Perils of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising

The job of educating the public on common medical conditions and the range, efficacy, benefits, and risks of potential treatment options should be undertaken by an independent and objective government health agency, not a for-profit, multi-billion dollar industry with a conflict of interest.
hearts and minds

Tending Hearts and Minds: Changing the Mental Health Paradigm in Our Schools

Our school professionals are under constant pressure to help funnel children into the mental health system and ultimately—and tragically for many—toward psychotropic drugs. So we designed a professional development symposium to address alternatives.
Teacher lecturing student. Blackboard reads "Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance"

Psychiatry and the Stupidification of America

There are three steps to modern psychiatry’s successful business formula: 1. Get people to think that they’re stupid even though they’re smart. 2. Train them to actually think stupidly. 3. Directly stupidify them with chemicals.
hands in circle reaching for speech bubbles

From FACT to POD: How a FACT Team Integrated Open Dialogue

Work with open dialogue always starts with a "network meeting" in which the person of concern is invited to talk with members of their social network (i.e., family, friends, co-workers) and at least two professionals from the care team. The main guideline was "nothing about you, without you."
lone man standing among giant pills

National Boards of Health Are Unresponsive to Children Driven to Suicide by Depression Pills

Peter C. Gøtzsche reports what happened, or rather did not happen, when he contacted National Boards of Health in eight countries with his serious concern that the use of depression pills in children is increasing and leads to more suicides. The continued official denial that these drugs cause suicide and that something substantial needs to be done is appalling.
discrimination

The Psychiatric Narrative & The Boston Globe: Violence, Force, & Derogatory Labels  

The Boston Globe recently published an atrocious opinion piece, “Massachusetts law meant to protect people with mental illness may make them sicker.” Though framed as an attempt to shed light on a need for better mental health laws, the piece insults those of us of who have been labeled with mental health diagnoses.
emotion faces illustrations

A Book Review of “Acceptance: The Defining Voice of Validation”

This is no goody-goody book but one that compellingly draws our attention to what in our hurried, overburdened lives too easily gets lost, that is, the essential human need for acceptance and validation. Validation, the author says, "is a joining with the distressed person to reflect or give voice to that person’s feelings accurately."
man's back on blue background vector illustration

Please Stop Saying Depression Is Like Diabetes

It seems more and more common for people who consider themselves mental health advocates to make the argument that “mental illness is like physical illness.” Have you heard this “depression is like diabetes” tactic? I have a hard time seeing how this is advocating for those in emotional distress.

How Radical Women Changed Psychiatry in the 1970s

Women’s issues and mental health were embedded in radical mental medicine fifty years ago. Feminism and sexual politics in the late 1960s and 1970s led to a reassessment of gender-based hierarchies in the mental health establishment, and transformative change was the result.
woman out of focus with rain on glass

6 Ways Trauma Might Inform Your Current Life

The following are some ways in which trauma commonly impacts a trauma survivor’s life. Imagine, as you read, how different our society might be if systems of care and justice were as trauma-informed as your life might be.
the word justice engraved on a courthouse

UN Report: Involuntary Psychiatric Interventions “May Well Amount to Torture”

Such interventions, the report says, "generally involve highly discriminatory and coercive attempts at controlling or 'correcting' the victim’s personality, behaviour or choices and almost always inflict severe pain or suffering."
bridge to hanging lantern in clouds painting

Psychiatry Needs a New Metaphor

The metaphor of “mental disease” is doing more harm than good. Rather than being a tool for communication, it has crossed the boundary from a metaphor to a theory that underpins much of what happens within public mental health services. This places psychiatrists in a position of dutiful compliance with what is essentially a fallacious model.
psychiatrist caution tape

The Most Dangerous Thing You Will Ever Do

I am a psychiatrist and I have been watching my profession deteriorate for many decades. This is my most direct written statement about the dangers of stepping inside a modern psychiatrist’s office. My conclusions are the culmination of mountains of research authored by me and by an increasing number of other psychiatrists, scientists and journalists.
Essex Asylum, 1897

What Can We Learn From the Asylum?

My historical study of the Essex asylum, just outside London, finds that those who were admitted showed significant disturbances of behaviour or evidence of organic disease. Almost two-thirds of those who had psychological, as opposed to organic, disorders were discharged recovered or improved (mostly recovered).
two hands touching a lightbulb

Rethinking “Delusions”: Envisioning a Humanistic Approach to Troublesome Beliefs

A skilled approach to working with beliefs involves both toleration of differences in perspective and an awareness of a variety of possible things that can be tried when a belief is causing problems that do not seem to be tolerable, either to the person or to others with whom they must interact.
cartoon therapist asking question

What Does the Therapist Know? And Why Does It Matter?

One of the things that’s still most challenging for me in doing therapy is resisting the impulse to come up with solutions to my clients’ problems. I find the role of “answer woman” very seductive. It’s not only because the people who come to me for help usually assume, at least at first, that help means solutions.
Scott Kellogg

Working With the Four Dialogues: Using Chairwork in Clinical Practice

In 2001, I discovered the astonishing power and beauty of Gestalt Chairwork. Building on Perls’ and Moreno’s seminal work, I have developed a therapeutic model based on four orienting principles and four core dialogical stances.

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