Sunday, December 15, 2019


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).

“Is It Her Hormones?” A Case of Psychiatry Missing the Mark

The case of “Beth” depicts, almost innocently, the trials and tribulations of a well-adjusted, talented 15-year-old who developed depression, paranoia, panic attacks, and self-injurious and homicidal behavior, and “bipolar disorder” after being prescribed antidepressants, and then antipsychotics. After Beth decided - on her own - to discontinue psychotropic medications in favor of hormone therapy, she remained free of psychiatric symptoms.

A Three Pronged Approach to Mental Health System Change

I thought I would begin my blogging career with a description of how I see three elements that reinforce each other in ways that...
Spotlight on Institutional Psychiatry

Spotlight on Institutional Psychiatry

Spotlight on Institutional Psychiatry is a response by psychiatric survivors and allies to Operating in Darkness, a scathing 2017 report on British Columbia’s Mental Health Act Detention System. We hope that professionals will take note of the devastating effects of forced psychiatric treatment and be moved to speak out, and, above all, that survivors will feel encouraged and inspired by our efforts.
ADHD school boy

ADHD: Disempowerment By Diagnosis

Giving a diagnosis of ADHD can profoundly disempower students and lead to what psychologists call “learned helplessness.” Isn’t it time for those of us in education to reclaim our profession? Who are the teaching and learning experts? Doctors? Drug companies? We are! And if we don’t stand up—for our students—against disempowering diagnoses and harmful drugs, who will?

We Need to Go Back to Our Roots in the Civil Rights Movement

I think the militant and committed people in our movement for human rights in psychiatry are not really aware of the damage that has been done to us by those who are responsible for smashing the national conference we controlled and most of the rest of our movement besides. People have grown used to our having no power at all, not being taken seriously, being completely shut out by the media. That isn't the way it was before 1985 and "Alternatives,” and the takeover of our movement by the “mental health” system.

Believe and Know . . . (as it pertains to psych drug withdrawal syndrome...

Mahatma Gandhi said "If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning." That is certainly how recovering from the heinousness of the iatrogenic injury of psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome has worked for me!! -- my unrelenting determination to find a way through the maze of autonomic nervous system chaos has, indeed, brought me many gifts and continued healing . . . and it's not done yet!

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.

Strength-Based Tools in Distress Model Treatment, Peer Support, and Recovery

  Strength-based treatment concepts are even more important in distress model peer support than in clinical settings.  Peer support should be strength-based by definition, according to...
Berlin Wall

In a Post-Trump Election World: What is Insanity?

Insanity is often the result of chronic oppression, trauma, and a sense of injustice and hopelessness. Is it possible we are in the midst of a collective psychosis?

War on Civilization: What Would Happen if Patients Radicalize?

In Paris today we have a lot of people mouthing words that come easily: "Je Suis Charlie." For anyone who wants to be Charlie, who wants to get to know what modern politics is all about, by feeling it in your marrow, try reporting an adverse event on treatment to your doctor. Outside your doctor’s surgery/clinic/ consultation room you can believe you are operating in a democracy. Inside the room you may be treated with courtesy and apparent friendliness but you are being treated in an arrangement set in place to police addicts. This is not a domain in which ideals of Liberty, Equality or Fraternity are welcome.
drug companies money

Taking Big Pharma to Court: Why Lawsuits Have Little Effect on Drug Companies

2018 has already brought particular attention to the pharmaceutical industry’s “profit over patient” mentality, as drug manufacturers and distributors continue to be hit with civil cases throughout the country for their involvement in the opioid epidemic. But the sad fact is that these lawsuits are nothing new.

Introducing Multi-Lens Therapy

How can we restore something as essential to the healing and helping process as knowing what is going on? If your client has an actual biological problem, he needs one sort of help. If he hates his job, he needs another sort of help. It is absurd (and not okay) that a helper would look only at putative “symptoms” and not at what’s going on.

“Doing” Antipsychiatry on all Cylinders: Possibilities, Enigmas, Challenges

On several occasions I have written about the complexities of antipsychiatry politics, exploring more specifically, how to “do our politics” in a way that moves society squarely in the direction of the abolitionist goal. In this article, I am once again theorizing the “how” of activism—for understanding this territory is critical to maximizing effectiveness. However, this time round, I am approaching it from an angle at once more general and more practical. That is, I am investigating the tools or approaches at our disposal as activists.

Post-Election Considerations for Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

A variety of scenarios of social and economic collapse have gone through many of our minds since Election Day. Insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies want to keep people on drugs, but what if there was no government subsidy for those who can’t pay?

Rep. McCann: Taking Away the Jury Trial is Undemocratic. (Open Letter)

I don't understand your recent sponsorship of a bill to remove "the option for a jury trial for a certification for either a mental health or substance misuse hold."

“Knowing Together” vs. “Knowing Apart”: The Importance of Extending Our Network

A kind of epidemic is occurring in the field of psychotherapy and psychology, with its increasing use of disparate approaches, methods, manual-based formulas and different theoretical schools, each having their own understanding and different treatments. Psychotherapy has come to mean everything and at the same time nothing.

Listening for the Person within “Madness”

As we struggle to invent a humane approach to the extreme states that get called “psychosis” or “madness” or “schizophrenia,” it may be helpful to investigate some of the better approaches developed in the past. While these approaches are not without their flaws, they are often surprisingly insightful. (It can also of course be depressing to notice how truths once more widely known were so easily “forgotten” as compassionate approaches got ditched in favor of the latest coercive innovations.)
lithium salts

Lithium: A Survivor’s Guide for Parents

When I was a young adult, I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder and placed on lithium. I am 61 years old now, living on the edge of end-stage kidney disease. If I could undo everything, by all means, I would not have taken this drug. It is not safe for anyone at any age.

What Role Does Talk Therapy Have in Recovery from Psychosis?

In my graduate education, we were taught how to deal with a wide variety of human troubles — but one big exception was psychosis! For that, we were told to send our clients to the psychiatrist.

Optimal Use of Neuroleptic Drugs: An Introduction

This post and the ones to follow will summarize my current thinking on the optimal use of neuroleptic drugs.

Insight Forty Years Later: A Dream of Progress

In the 40 years since I was wrongly - and catastrophically - "diagnosed" and "treated," I've seen one after another announcement of supposed "progress" in the "science" of understanding and treating "mental illness" come and go — first trumpeted, then with nary a mention, failing to hold their ground and falling away to the mists of time along with the people and the lives they'd ruined. People will continue to suffer and die if the public do not wake up and have the courage to act as a caring community, and stop regarding human problems as "diseases" to be "cured," rather than as challenges that we share.
psych ward art fairy

Stealing Blankets from the Hospital: 
How Life Really Works on a Psych Ward

Every time that I have been confined in a psych hospital, I have collected as many trophies as possible. Sometimes I go out of my way to steal the silverware, or the sheets, or the blankets from the beds, or even the signs off the walls. But it’s the really forbidden stuff that attracts me.

ADHD in France and America

We now have 40 plus years of diagnosing and medicating children for ADHD in the US, and at a population level there’s no evidence that US kids are mentally or cognitively ‘healthier’ than kids in other societies.

The Origins of Mental Health Services

In order to explore the current political context of mental health services, as I will be doing in some upcoming blogs, it is necessary to establish what the modern mental health system actually consists of and what function it serves. It is only by tracing the historical development of mental health services, and analysing how and why the system arose, that we are able to fully comprehend its actual purpose.

Why We Still Need Psychiatrists!

“It is really quite incredible to me that some . . . are willing to denigrate the 8 years of training that it takes to become sophisticated about pathophysiology of the whole body, understand the intricate play of medical and mental problems and really master complex diagnosis, pharmacotherapy, and psychotherapy, as I feel I did in my training”. – A psychiatrist colleague, personal e-mail communication, 4/2/12 This blog, and many to follow, will try to analyze why we are in this “incredible” state of affairs and what to do about it.

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