Sunday, September 20, 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).

fragility

Funder Fragility and Forced Collaboration

Dear Funder, You say you want to work on health equity but can you walk the talk? Do you care about hearing the actual community? Do you REALLY want data-driven, accurate info to balance harm vs benefit? Or do you just want to keep your status quo? Dear Funder, Don't be fragile. Move beyond your blind spots. Our people matter.

Where There is No Word for “Alone”

I learned a lot about the meaning of community in Senegal, West Africa where I lived for a few years. One day while I was still learning to speak Mandinka, the language of my village, I asked “How do I say, I am going running (alone, by myself)?” It was explained to me that there was no word for "alone" in Mandinka.

Nitrous Oxide for Depression and Other Hazards of Modern Psychiatry

This week, MIA featured a news item regarding a recent “proof of concept” study conducted at Washington University of St. Louis to investigate whether nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, was effective in reducing symptoms of depression. Why is this a problem?

Madness Radio: Daniel Hazen On Abolishing Prisons

First Aired 5-1-2012 What is it like for a prisoner diagnosed with mental illness? Should we have more mental health treatment in prison -- or...

Volunteers for Psychotherapy Is A Finalist for International Award

Volunteers for Psychotherapy, which is located in Hartford, Connecticut, and has for years run an innovative program that gets clients involved in community programs,...

Not So Rare But Rarely Diagnosed: From Demonic Possession to Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

Throughout the ages, convulsions, contortions of the body and face, including the tongue, super-human strength, catatonic periods, long periods of wakefulness or sleep, insensitivity to pain, speaking in tongues, and a predilection for self-injurious behaviours have all been offered as physical evidence of possession. The modern day interpretation, however, comes with a plot twist befitting a media spectacle. There is growing consensus in the medical community that many prior accounts of “demonic possession” may have represented original accounts of what is now broadly known as autoimmune encephalitis.

The Denial of Pain and Mortality: Or, the Art of Self-Prescribing and the Philosopher’s...

“Don’t look at me! Save yourself!” Andrew* was a 25 year old with an imposing build that was mollified only by his despair and terror. Andrew was losing his mind. I didn’t have to see Andrew and I somewhat wish I never did. I had received a call late at night from Andrew’s nurse. “You gotta give him something man, I mean, he’s freaking out and I feel really bad.”

Effective Tactics for the “Rehumanizing Resistance”: Real Politics 101, Part Two

In Part Two, I discuss strategy and tactics for the Rehumanizing Resistance, including: (1) Traditional, Personal, and Underground Politics; (2) Direct Action and Confrontation: When It Can and Cannot Succeed (3) Organizing: Taking Advantage of the Current Cultural Climate; (4) Alliances and Coalitions; and (5) Film and Media. In Part One, I discussed how the Resistance has been winning scientific battles but losing the war against the expansion of influence of First-Order Psychiatry (which includes American Psychiatric Association and Big Pharma), and how this is due in large part to the First-Order’s effective political tactics and the Resistance’s political naivety.

I Am Also Mad

Today I read Psychiatric News, the newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association, and I was drawn to an article about the new APA President, Jeffrey Lieberman, because the front page teaser announced that "he is 'mad as hell'".
autism definition

I Don’t Believe in Autism

The conversation about what truly constitutes “autism” is an ongoing one. Although I resist the label personally, I do not begrudge anyone for identifying as autistic, or seeking out an autism diagnosis. Leaving this discussion within the domain of medicine is limiting. That’s why a new discourse is emerging, not among doctors, but among activists who push for autistic self-advocacy.

The Head Bone’s Connected to the Body Bone

We have long been told that “low levels” of serotonin in the brain equal bad and sad, and we have been educated by the Pharmaceutical industry about the opportunity we have, through the use of antidepressants, to retrain our wayward neurons: by making the proverbial holes in the strainer that much smaller. But even if you accept the conventional wisdom regarding the role of serotonin in the narrative of mind, merriness, and misery, from where do we think that this magical neurochemical arises?

Cannabis for Treating Psychiatric Problems? A Clear Yes, Maybe.

Marijuana is now legal in two states, and legal for medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Polls show the majority of Americans support cannabis legalization, and more and more of the country is joining the legalization trend. As a counselor working with people diagnosed with psychosis and mental illness I am often asked about my opinion and clinical experience — as well as my personal experience — with medical cannabis.

A Time for Heretics

One of the amazing things about my new life and new career is the people I have met. I have become part of a movement that is filled with heretics. I am constantly inspired by the people that have the courage to write in this and other forums. I am inspired by the people that protest and refuse to accept a broken paradigm.

Launching MIA Reports

When we launched Madinamerica.com a little more than two years ago, we had in our sights the day when we would begin publishing original journalism pieces. Today, with the publication of Rob Wipond's article on Cindi Fisher, we have finally reached that goal.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder: The ‘Illness’ That Goes On Growing

According to the APA, intermittent explosive disorder is characterized by angry aggressive outbursts that occur in response to relatively minor provocation. This particular label has an interesting history in successive editions of the DSM. Psychiatry needs illnesses to legitimize medical intervention. And where no illnesses exist, they have no hesitation in inventing them. And since they invented them in the first place, they have no difficulty in altering them to suit their purposes. Of course, almost all the alterations are in the direction of lowering the thresholds, and thereby increasing the prevalence.

A Collective Human Potential Movement

A Mental Health Recovery Movement is a good start, but frankly I am more interested in a movement that uses the language of “transformation," a movement that recognizes the powerful of our collective potential to transform the world, that isn’t willing to compromise our visions of a better world, has the ability to capture many people’s imaginations, and is capable of building coalitions across many boundaries.

A Declaration of Interdependence for the Era of the Murphy Bill

How we think about health, happiness, and self-fulfillment, how they are linked with flawed systems of government has been assigned to the domain of social scientists. The most influential of those are the psychiatrists who have been given the government-mandated power to diagnose, incarcerate and forcibly drug those who are perceived to have a form of mental illness. I believe that such power is arbitrary, unjust and frequently harmful.

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.

Open Letter about BBC Coverage of Mental Health

Following Richard Bentall’s inspired Open Letter to Stephen Fry, we – a group of people who have (and still do) use mental health services, who work in mental health, or who work as academics... or fall into more than one of those categories – have decided to write a parallel Open Letter to the BBC and other media organizations about their coverage of mental health issues. We need as many signatures as possible!

Letters from the Front Lines

Dear Bob-- I've had a couple of remarkable conversations, not with my own patients, but with friends and acquaintances asking me for advice.  Each example...

Is Psychiatry “Salvageable”?

A reader in the commentary here asked me if I think “psychiatry is salvageable.” This is a timely question that requires careful consideration. First, I’ll...

Human Rights Report on Forced Drugging in the U.S.

In March, the United Nations Human Rights Committee asked the U.S. to explain how it sees nonconsensual medication in psychiatric institutions as being compliant with Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (including nonconsensual medical and scientific experimentation). A group of grass roots survivor activists have sent a report on forced drugging in the U.S (along with an executive summary) to the Committee.

On the Corner of Distress & Poverty: What Happens to Our Minds When There...

In the last few years, Mental Health First Aid has been backed by the President of the United States, the First Lady, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Council on Behavioral Health (among others). In fiscal year 2015 alone, the federal budget allotted 15 million toward the Council’s MHFA mission of ‘one million trained.’ Yet, this course – promoted with unprecedented fervor and designed to support the average citizen to identify a mental health ‘problem’ in their fellow persons and (strongly) encourage them to get ‘help’ – has little to say about the importance and emotional impact of meeting basic human needs.

A Moment Passed Too Often

What if, in that moment, nothing happened? What if I was given a second to collect myself enough to engage in the conversation surrounding my future? No one asked me what I would like to do. I was never given the chance to regain my equilibrium before I was drugged and bagged for the next decade.

Do You Still Need Your Psychiatric Diagnosis?

Do you still need your psychiatric diagnosis? The answer for practical purposes is probably ‘Yes.’ In the current system, diagnosis is essential for accessing services and benefits and, particularly in the USA, for covering your treatment costs. But do you need to believe in your diagnosis? Do you have to accept this particular attempt to explain your difficulties, and to take it on as part of your identity by becoming one of the ‘mentally ill’? since psychiatric diagnoses have been admitted to be non-valid even by the people who drew them up, professionals should not be offering people the ‘choice’ of describing their difficulties in diagnostic terms in the first place. That would still leave people with the right to adopt whatever explanation suits them as private individuals.

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