Thursday, November 30, 2023


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).

In Honor of Fear and Pain

Our use of antidepressants has turned single-episode struggles that recovered 85% of the time within one year, never to recur, into chronic and debilitating disorders that hold patients hostage in their own arrested development. But, If you are in the hole of pain, here’s what I have to say to you. It’s what I say to my patients, and what I tell myself in times of struggle.

Time for a new Understanding of Suicidal Feelings

Is it really best to force someone into the hospital when they are suicidal? Do suicidal feelings plus "risk factors" really mean professionals can predict whether someone might try to kill themselves? And are suicidal feelings the symptom of a treatable illness that should include medication prescription?

Unraveling the Biopsychiatric Knot: the Future History of the Radical Mental Health Movement

I did the research for this article to try and make sense of this story I carry around with me about being someone who is seen as mad, who struggles with what this society considers a serious ‚Äúbrain disorder.‚ÄĚ My hope is that by the time you finish reading my words you will have more tools to analyze this hyper-complicated world around you.

Review: “(Mis)Diagnosed: How Bias Distorts Our Perception of Mental Health”

Psychiatric diagnoses can be shaped by prejudice, reflecting biases that ignore trauma, diminish populations, and invalidate humanity and experience.

Consumers Beware!

Twenty-five years ago, I organized a Mother‚Äôs Day Protest demonstration at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in NYC. We were 12 mothers and one male. The highlight of that APA meeting was the launching of Clozapine, the first of the so-called atypical neuroleptic drugs, which the APA promoted as a ‚Äúscientific breakthrough treatment for schizophrenia.‚ÄĚ Those atypical neuroleptics proved to be weapons of destruction.

How entrepreneurial thinking can improve mental health advocacy

I've been working on starting a business that can use market forces to create benefit for our communities. This is called social entrepreneurship. Different models...
A map of the world depicting the various MIA affiliate locations; Italy's circle is bright green.

Mad in Italy

Mad in Italy's main focus is research, publishing articles on failures of the disease model and the effectiveness of alternate, humanistic approaches. The goal is policy change; the means is data.

An American History of Addiction, Part 8: A Turning Point, But Where Do We...

Practitioners and researchers have increasingly started to feel that the maintenance of the status quo has left the addiction field in a state of conflict and fluctuation.
An abstract painting depicting heads in profile in various colors

Emotional Crisis Response: The Peer-Run Respite/Soteria House Approach Compared to the Conventional Approach

The peer respite/Soteria house model responds to emotional crisis with compassion and curiosity, rather than pathologizing.
Zyprexa Papers

Big Pharma Meets Big Diagnosis, Big Courts, and Big Psychiatric Hospitals

Gottstein’s book is The Pentagon Papers of the traditional mental health system, because he exposes a mind-blowing number and variety of cold-blooded, calculating actions on the part of Eli Lilly in trying to hide what it knew to be the devastating effects of its hugely profitable Zyprexa.

The Downfall of Peer Support: MHA & National Certification

Mental Health America (MHA) has finally unveiled its new¬†National Peer Specialist Certification over much protest. It is dangerous to what we call ‚Äėpeer support‚Äô for MHA to have done this. Even if they did it well. Which, as best as I can tell, they did not.
Opening Up: The Parenting Journey by Anne Peretz

Book Review: “Opening Up: The Parenting Journey”

This is a book about stories, urging families to recognize their own strengths and create new narratives on the path ahead.

The Use of Neuroleptic Drugs As Chemical Restraints

On July 17, I wrote a post on the use of neuroleptic drugs as chemical restraints in nursing homes.  The article generated some comments, one of which touched on some very fundamental issues which, in my view, warrant further discussion. The comment read as follows: "All drugs can be dangerous toxic chemicals when not used appropriately. While many valid points are made in this article, it’s very one-sided and could be considered biased in that it’s written by a psychologist. I’ve seen many patients and families benefit from their use."

On Waking Up From the “American Dream”

I grew up in an environment that taught me my worth as a person was directly tied to my grades, my athletic performance, my list of extra-curricular activities, and my SAT scores. That if I wasn’t the best, I was the worst. That if I wasn’t perfect, I was a failure. At thirteen and in all my psychiatrized years to follow, I never had the chance to step back and process what this all meant, and whether these were values I wanted to hold onto, and I continued through high school and on to Harvard in this existential limbo, simply because I saw no other way.

From ‚ÄúRecovery‚ÄĚ to ‚ÄúTransformation and Recovery‚ÄĚ

Just ‚Äúrecovering‚ÄĚ one‚Äôs previous way of functioning is not so likely to work, because usually something wasn‚Äôt working prior to the psychosis. It was that which set off the psychosis, and if that isn‚Äôt changed, any ‚Äúrecovery‚ÄĚ may not be worth much, as the problems, and so the need to transform, will likely still be present.

An American History of Addiction, Part 6: The Reagan Reaction

Kevin Gallagher addresses the Reagan era and the "crack" epidemic of the 1980s in this continuing series about the USA and addiction.

‚ÄėEmpathy‚Äô is a False God: ‚ÄėResponsiveness‚Äô is the Real Deal

‚ÄėEmpathy‚Äô has been revered as the emotional analog of wisdom. I‚Äôm here to say that it is vastly overrated, and there is something else far better. More on that later.
Correnn Stormcrow-And I Drown-Flickr

Literally Indescribable: Are Antidepressants Addictive?

‚ÄúMy life was very, very good.‚ÄĚ That‚Äôs how Michael sums up how things were for him‚ÄĒprior to his suffering from devastating withdrawal effects after discontinuing GlaxoSmithKline‚Äôs blockbuster drug Paxil.

Killjoy: The Story of a Misguided ‚ÄėMental Health‚Äô Bot

The bot was created by one Danny Freed, inspired by the suicide of his close friend a few years prior. Danny reportedly balks at calling Joy a ‚Äėbot,‚Äô and refers to it instead as a ‚Äúmental health journaling service.‚ÄĚ Joy operates through Facebook‚Äôs system and auto-chats you at least once a day to check in.
medicalization of conversation

The Medicalization of Conversation

Language, and how we use it, are important to counselling’s conversational work. As a counsellor, my language for understanding and addressing client concerns often fits poorly with the diagnostic and treatment language used to manage services within that system.
risk versus reward

Randomized Controlled Trials of Psychiatric Drugs Tell of Harm Done

The most important data in an RCT is not whether the drug provides a statistically significant benefit over placebo. The most important data is the ‚Äúnumber needed to treat‚ÄĚ calculation (NNT). For¬†the person¬†considering taking an antidepressant or an antipsychotic, the NNT data provides¬†the ‚Äúmath‚Ä̬†needed to weigh the potential benefit of taking the drug against the potential harm of doing so.

Healing From Intergenerational Trauma: Facing the Unfaceable

I spent 15 years slowly preparing for a trip into the unfaceable, in large part by observing an American human rights advocate and coalition builder (who has German heritage) do gut-wrenching emotional healing work particularly related to her internalized anti-Semitism and her internalized white racism. She inspired me with her intelligence, tenacity and determination to be free from the damaging effects of these forms of oppressions. Many of her family members supported the Nazies.

Heaven, Hell, and Psychosis

While the mental health system identifies psychosis as being about suffering, or ‚Äúhellish‚ÄĚ experiences, if you actually listen to individual stories, it is obvious...

My Loss of Cultural Competence Among the Nacirema-Orue

I became an apprentice spiritual healer among the Nacirema-Orue in 1986 and was considered culturally competent to assess and treat community members by 1992. Then, the wealthy class turned toward producing and marketing complex and dangerous elixirs and synthetic herbs which tranquilize, sedate, or hypnotize the afflicted community member rather than working with self-hatred and self-revulsion. This new Nacirema-Orue healing theory presupposes that such individuals actually have damaged brains which these elixirs correct. I’m writing this blog post because I’m afraid of being made invisible.

Schizophrenia Becomes Psychosis Susceptibility Syndrome

Anoiksis (the Dutch association of and for people with a psychotic vulnerability) has introduced a new name for the disease schizophrenia: Psychosis Susceptibility Syndrome (PSS). Together with the old name, its attached prejudices, misleading significance and stigma can be thrown overboard.