Sunday, July 3, 2022


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).

Turning Distress Into Joy, Part I:  Forgiveness

The human condition is both incredibly unique and yet so much the same. Our experiences are as vast as the oceans and as similar as the atoms that comprise them. Our calls range from the most secluded of hermits to the most exposed of world leaders. But we are all faced with betrayal and disappointment. We are all faced with each other.
woman walking away, footprints in the sand

To the Young Person Who Doesn’t Identify with Their Disability Diagnosis Anymore

Your diagnosis should serve YOU. Not your parents, your doctors, your teachers, or the next door neighbor. We should be fighting for a future where the person being labeled has the ultimate say over how doctors and therapists view them.

Avoid the Hexperts

My search for peace of mind has taken me from giving up much control of my well-being to bio-psychiatry, to exploring unhealthy behaviors, to ultimately finding peace amidst fellow seekers in the holistic healing world. I found peace on my yoga mat, by eating healthy food, by quieting my mind through meditation, and by surrounding myself with people that nourish my soul. My wife, Carrie, has been by my side as we’ve collaboratively explored ways to enrich our lives and optimize our human experience. Recently, our search has intensified. My beautiful wife was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

Tweeting while Medicine Burns (Psychopharmacology Part 2)

This is the world that lies in store for us. It is not the world of traditional medicine, where drugs treat diseases to restore the social order. It is a world in which medical interventions will potentially change that order.

Cheers for Peers

Any time you create a word that only has meaning in a very specific context and then you start quite literally referring to people as if they were that word, you create more barriers to them moving beyond that context and on with their own life. Sure, it might feel good for a while. It might feel like you finally ‘belong’ somewhere. But what does that mean for your future?

Chapter Eight: “Forget Happiness . . . I’ve Got Control”

At no moment in my childhood-- whether in those weekday hours after school spent exploring the woods with my dog, or on the early...
case against AOT involuntary outpatient commitment

Responding to “The Case Against AOT”—Next Steps for Change

Many will direct their efforts toward repealing involuntary outpatient commitment statutes in their states—an extremely challenging and uphill battle—or reforming abuses. Their arguments will be strengthened immensely by the findings in MIA's report. What follows are suggestions about what kinds of interventions to consider.

Dear Boston Globe, Part II: You Forgot the Facts

Dear Boston Globe: So many terrible things have happened in the last 48-hours or so. On Tuesday, July 5, Alton Sterling was brutally executed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On Wednesday, July 6, another black man, Philando Castile also lost his life at the hands of the police in Minnesota as he sat in his car and reached for his wallet. That same day, the Murphy Bill passed the House, and you released your second 'Spotlight on Mental Health Care' Globe article, this time called  ‘The Desperate and the Dead: Police Confrontations.

Are We Discovering More ADHD?

This is an important issue. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. The CDC also notes that the base rates for ADHD varies substantially by state ranging from a low of 4.2% in Nevada to a high of 14.8% in Kentucky.

Addiction, Biological Psychiatry and the Disease Model (Part 1)

Both addiction and “mental illness” are far more prevalent where there is poverty, patriarchy, and other forms of mental and physical violence; all this creates fertile ground for various forms of trauma experiences on a daily basis. Addiction and extreme states of psychological distress will never be fully eradicated, or even humanely treated on a broad scale, until the material conditions from which they have emerged are transformed in a truly revolutionary way.

Do Antipsychotics Worsen Long-term Schizophrenia Outcomes? Martin Harrow Explores the Question.

Martin Harrow and Thomas Jobe have a new article coming out in Schizophrenia Bulletin that I wish would be read by everyone in our society with an interest in “mental health.” Harrow and Jobe, who conducted the best study of long-term schizophrenia outcomes that has ever been done, do not present new data in this article, but rather discuss the central question raised by their research: Does long-term treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic medications facilitate recovery? Or does it hinder it?

Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness: A Counter-Narrative of Psychic Diversity

It was an awesome experience to give a TEDx Talk at my old school, because, frankly, it was an acknowledgement by an elite institution that I've done something in my life worth listening to. I hope you appreciate my talk and share it with others. So many people who are affected by the mental health system in North America today have no idea how much the rise of the DSM and biopsychiatry has to do with the Reagan era and neoliberal economic policies that reshaped the whole language and culture of mental health. It's like a bulldozed neighborhood with shiny new buildings, after a while people forget how they got there and they just seem "normal."

Reimagining Healthcare

The conventional Western classification systems of health conditions are based on flawed science shaped by reductionist, hierarchical, and profit-driven ideologies. THEN wants to create a new paradigm built upon principles drawn from systems science, the life course perspective, developmental neurobiology, and other evidence-informed studies.

What Happened to those Who Were Suicidal in Study 329? And to the Learned...

In May 2014, the RIAT team asked GSK what the children who became suicidal in the course of Study 329 have since been told. The consent form says that anyone entering the study would be treated just the way they would be in normal clinical practice. In Study 329, the children taking imipramine were by design force titrated upwards to doses of the order of 300 mg, which is close to double the dose of imipramine given in adult trials by GSK or in normal clinical practice. In normal clinical practice it would be usual to inform somebody who had become suicidal on an SSRI that the treatment had caused their problem.
Leon Kamin

Leon J. Kamin (1927-2017): A Nemesis of Genetic Determinism and Scientific Racism

Leon Kamin should be remembered for his role as an intellectual nemesis of the purveyors of the false ideologies of scientific racism and genetic determinism. The Science and Politics of I.Q., Not in Our Genes, and Kamin’s other writings remain works of major importance.

Mental Health Advocacy in California: Perspectives of Advocates and Decision-Makers

In partnership with the California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations (CAMHPRO), Live & Learn, Inc. conducted a survey on the impact of stakeholder advocacy on decisions affecting public mental health systems in California. The objective was to pilot an approach to help CAMHPRO evaluate the impact of consumer advocacy in the state and to document the activities that advocates engage in (e.g., legislative testimony, demonstrations, campaigns).

How Psychiatry Almost Stopped Burning Man: A Story of Hell and Liberation

As Burning Man nears its 30th anniversary, USA Today has published an article attempting to explain how this still somewhat freakish event came into existence. I enjoyed the article, but as someone involved in the origin story it tells, I believe that an important piece is being left out. This relates to how misguided “mental health treatment” came close to disabling a key organizer of the early Burning Man. This piece is a fascinating tale in itself, but more fascinating when considered as just one example of how a flawed approach to mental health treatment forms a barrier to many forms of cultural evolution and renewal, with oppressive consequences for society as a whole.

Hearing Voices, Emancipation, Shamanism and CBT: Thoughts After Douglas Turkington’s Training

When Doug Turkington, a UK psychiatrist, first announced to his colleagues that he wanted to help people with psychotic experiences by talking to them, he was told by some that this would just make them worse, and by others that this would be a risk to his own mental health, and would probably cause him to become psychotic! Fortunately, he didn’t believe either group, and in the following decades he went on to be a leading researcher and educator about talking to people within the method called CBT for psychosis.

40 Days to Tell the #FDAStoptheShockDevice

Please join us in demanding that the FDA stop the shock device from being down-classified to a Class II device. We have until March 28th, 2016.

The Sedated Society: the Real Story of our Prescribing Epidemic

BBC 5 live ran a recent piece that aimed to explore why antidepressant prescriptions have doubled in the last ten years. Unfortunately, it failed to address the drivers of this epidemic – industry-backed diagnostic inflation and the lax regulation of medicines.

Dialogues as a Way of Transforming Consciousness: Results from Three Teleconference Dialogues of Discovery...

Dialogues are an effective process in bridging an illusionary divide. Any group anywhere can follow a dialogue format and propose questions for inquiry and reflection. Dialogues are relatively easy to convene and they typically result in participants establishing deep connections with one another, having new insights and enhancing one’s knowledge and skills about how to be or work in partnership with others.

The Mental Health Professionals Who Perpetrate Against Us

Victim and perpetrator are involved in a sick dance. As a victim I meditate on my half of this dance… what am I bringing to the equation? How do I release the burden of victimhood once and for all so that perpetrators no longer have any hold on me?

Psychiatry’s Thalidomide Moment

The authors of Study 329 began recruiting adolescents for a comparative study of Paxil, imipramine and placebo in 1994 and finished their investigations in 1997. They dropped a large number of their original cohort, so the randomness element in the study must be open to question. Late in 1998, SmithKline Beecham, the marketers of Paxil, acknowledged in an internal document that the study had shown that Paxil didn’t work for adolescents in terms of the two primary and six secondary outcomes they had established at the start of the study. In a nutshell, Study 329 was negative for efficacy and positive for harm, contrary to their succinct upbeat conclusion.

In Case You Missed This

On November 12th, 2015, the third anniversary of the day that I abruptly stopped taking benzodiazepines, my dear friend, J. Doe, published a two-part article here on Mad in America examining the language that is commonly used to describe benzodiazepine (benzo) iatrogenesis. I wanted a summary of these articles captured in a Youtube video so that those in the thick of benzo neurotoxicity could tune into these ideas in a way that might be more easily digestible. I hoped more benzo sufferers would begin to question how they describe (and allow others to describe) an illness that remains decades behind in understanding and recognition. I also wanted to draw attention to the content again in hopes that more medical professionals would read and understand the crucial distinctions in language surrounding this problem.

Benzodiazepines: Dangerous Drugs

When the benzodiazepines were first introduced, it was widely claimed, both by psychiatrists and by pharma, that they were non-addictive. This claim was subsequently abandoned in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and the addictive potential of these products is now recognized and generally accepted.

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