Thursday, October 17, 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).

Take a ride on the Mood Elevator

These are not happy times for the embattled drug maker AstraZeneca.  The patent for Seroquel has expired; the company’s profits have plummeted; and its...

Something Rotten in the State of British Psychiatry?

Delegates attending the International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists at London’s Barbican Centre in June this year will almost certainly not hear about the results of the seven-year outcome of the Dutch First Episode (FE) study widely discussed on Mad in America in recent months.
human nature

On Human Nature and Its Implications for the Mind-Body Problem

Peter Hacker's magnum opus explores what it means to be human via an analysis of the language we use. Through disclosing the conceptual framework within which we think, act and come to know things, our deep and implicit understanding of ourselves and our world is revealed.

Important Considerations for Implementing Assisted Outpatient Treatment: A Collaborative Advocacy Agenda

For my entire career a vicious debate has raged about involuntary outpatient treatment largely pitting parents and clinical professionals on the pro side against consumers and rehabilitation professionals on the con side. Like it or not, packaged as Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), involuntary outpatient treatment is increasingly coming to a neighborhood near you. The cornerstone of the con position has always been that even if AOT is done with the best of intentions forcing someone to do something or to change in a way they don’t want to change is inherently an assaultive thing to do. There is a large risk the coerced person will react resentfully and even aggressively in response. There is also a large risk that the people exerting power coercively will be corrupted by their power and abuse it. This damaging effect on staff who forcibly treat people is why I personally wouldn’t want to be involved in it.

Illegal-Psychiatric Drug Hypocrisy, & Why Michael Pollan is Smarter than Me

Before Michael Pollan gained well-deserved respect and influence authoring five bestselling books about food, he got my attention in the late 1990s writing about American illegal-legal psychotropic drug hypocrisy. Then he stopped writing about it. If he had continued his assault on American drug hypocrisy, he likely would have been attacked by many psychiatric drug users, mistaking his confronting this hypocrisy as challenging their decision to choose psychiatric drugs.

Bipolarized and Crimes Against Nature

Rethinking Psychiatry recently hosted a showing of the award-winning film 'Bipolarized.' The film criticizes both the mainstream mental health system and societal standards of masculinity. The author of this post draws parallels to the film and the one-man show "Crimes Against Nature," in which psychology professor Dr. Chris Kilmartin critiques traditional standards of masculinity as harmful and unrealistic.

How I feel After the Carter Center Social Inclusion Symposium

I just got back from the Carter Center Mental Health Symposium on Social Inclusion. I guess this is a prestigious invite, and I was expecting to meet people on the cutting edge of mental health research. I got invited based on my work with the Poetry for Personal Power program where I've helped get together over 1800 young people to talk on stage or listen to each other talking about what they do to get through adversity.

Teen Bipolar Disorder and the Abnormal Brain: Making Sense of New Research

Maltreatment is broadly defined as being “characterized by sustained or repeated exposure to events that usually involve a betrayal of trust.” It includes not only physical and sexual abuse, but also emotional abuse, including exposure to domestic violence, humiliation and shaming, as well as emotional and physical neglect. The way maltreatment is defined has great significance in the way we think about the connection between childhood experiences and adult mental illness. The word “trauma” itself may convey a kind of “not me” response, but when the term is defined in this way, we see that these experiences are, in fact, ubiquitous.

Is Emotional Distress Criminal?

On October 1st the Connecticut State Legislature’s reactionary response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school went into effect. Public Act No. 13-3 requires all people that voluntarily admit to a hospital for mental health reasons (not solely for drug or alcohol treatment) have their names placed in a database administered by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services - for the purpose of automatic suspension of Second Amendment rights.

Is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Effective?

ECT, or shock treatment as it's sometimes called, is a controversial topic. Adherents describe it as safe and effective; opponents condemn its use as damaging and ineffective. But it is still widely used in the US and in other countries. After shock treatment, some clients do appear to be less depressed, but this phenomenon has been interpreted differently by ECT's proponents and opponents. Proponents claim that the ECT treatments have clearly alleviated the depression. Opponents claim that the apparent improvement is an example of post-concussion euphoria, and that the effects are short-lived. My purpose in this article is to examine the evidence that ECT "is highly effective."

The Scientism of Autism

Autism is now simply assumed to represent a real, tangible, identifiable ‘thing.’ But no one is asking the obvious question: On what evidential basis can you conclude that autism represents a natural category that can be differentiated from other natural categories? According to the real science, autism should be seen as a fact of culture, not a fact of nature.

It’s as Bad as You Think: The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor...

Many of us in the U.K. are mad - mad with anger at the injustice and cynicism of a political system that is turning the gap between rich and poor into an unbridgeable chasm. Mad with anger because the most vulnerable in society are now paying the price for a political ideology - neoliberalism - with their lives. We are mad and angry because they are blamed for failings that are not of their making, but which originate in the system under which we live. 'Psychological' assessments, online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other forms of 'therapy' are being used to force unemployed people with common mental health problems back to work. Mental health professionals responsible for IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) have been relocated to help 'assess' and 'treat' claimants.

My Diagnosis of ADHD and the Downfall That Followed

A simple, one-time visit to an unfamiliar counselor resulted in my diagnosis of ADHD. That same visit started my avalanche of drug abuse. I was 19 years old when I was falsely diagnosed with ADHD, and it forever changed my life.

E. Fuller Torrey’s Review of Anatomy of an Epidemic: What Does It Reveal About...

E. Fuller Torrey, through his Treatment Advocacy Center, is the country’s most prominent advocate for outpatient commitment laws, which typically force people with a...

Paradigm Shift

An important study was headlined on MIA this week. The study examined the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat the symptoms of people labeled with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and related conditions who had elected to not take neuroleptic drugs.
young girl at a window on rainy day

7 Tasks for a Parent Whose Child Is Diagnosed with a Mental Illness

When I teach workshops or lead discussions on coming off psychiatric drugs and alternatives, there are invariably parents present who are at loose ends. They want to know how best to help their children, and how it can be possible for their child to live without medication. Here are seven ideas I share with them that may also help you.

Dialogical Recovery of Life

During a recent dialogue training, Dr. Peter Rober, from Belgium, said, "listening deeply, going beyond categories, creates dialogical space in which life can come......

Questions About Jeffrey Lieberman’s “Notorious Past and Bright Future of Psychiatry”

I just attended my first American Psychiatric Association (APA) meeting even though it has been going for 168 years. I was invited to join a symposium on vitamin-mineral combinations as primary treatment of psychiatric symptoms. There was one talk I decided to attend, not because I was particularly interested in the topic, but because it would give me an opportunity to ask Jeffrey Lieberman a question.

World Health Organization Publishes Blog About My 40 Years in The Mad Movement

The World Health Organization (WHO), based in Switzerland, has a project Mental Health Innovation Network that is publishing brief online blog entries to promote “dignity” of mental health system users and psychiatric survivors. This is the blog by me that MHIN distributed, in which I looked back on four decades in The Mad Movement ...
puppet master

The Misuse of Collaboration and Therapy to Deter People From Discontinuing Medication

Gabriel Ivbijaro and Lucja Kolkiewicz produce five pages dedicated to improving adherence with psychiatric medication through collaborative care and the implementation of modified CBT. The use of the word ‘collaborative’ in this context is misleading.

Dr. Lieberman’s Swansong

As my readers know, I am a great fan of Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, President of the APA. In his capacity as president, Dr. Lieberman writes a regular bulletin in Psychiatric News. These literary and intellectual gems have been a wonderful source of inspiration to me in my efforts to draw attention to psychiatry's flaws, and I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that in many respects, Dr. Lieberman has been one of our greatest allies.

The Presidential Primary & Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs

This month the candidates for President compete in our State of Oregon, so this is a very good time to ask the following question: “How do you stand on the controversy of forced outpatient mental health drugs?” This is my 40th year working as an advocate for people labeled “disabled,” and I know that the topic of involuntary psychiatry can be a little complicated for people. After all, if one of our beloved family members becomes irrationally self-destructive, we can become desperate for help. However, this is such an important topic that we need to go deeper than just a bumper-sticker answer.
psychotherapy hints

The Hints That Psychotherapy Clients Drop

Clients regularly hint in passing at what’s causing their distress. The hints we get from a client help us determine which of these many causes are more probable than the others or maybe even which is the cause. Nor is it hard to hear these hints, if we train ourselves to listen for them. Responding to causal hints with a spirit of inquiry and careful talking points deepens the work.

Psychiatry Disrupted

On August 15, 2014, McGill-Queens University Press published Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution.  The work is a collection of papers by various authors, edited by Bonnie Burstow, Brenda A. LeFrançois, and Shaindl Diamond.  There is a Foreword by Paula Caplan, and a Preface by Kate Millett. It is no secret that there is growing opposition to psychiatry.  No longer marginalized and ignored, as in former decades, anti-psychiatry writers are proclaiming psychiatry's spurious and destructive nature in a wide range of venues.  Even the mainstream media is taking tentative steps in our direction.

NARPA Reflections: The Necessity of Disability

I think it is time to reclaim the word disability. Disability needs to be appreciated. To the extent we value community over isolation, anything anyone cannot do, or needs help with, builds community. There are infinite examples in every career and walk of life of how necessary “disability” (since we're calling it that) is for connection, service and meaning in life. Without it we'd have absolutely no need for each other. And the fastest way to despair is to feel unnecessary.

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