Saturday, July 24, 2021


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).

Return to Asylums? Let’s Not!

A recent JAMA opinion piece calling for a return to asylums – not the bad kind, the authors insist, but a “safe, modern and humane” kind of asylum – led to a radio debate. Joseph Rogers, executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, talked about his experience in a state hospital: “When I hear the term ‘asylum’ I get my back up because there was no asylum. These places ... are not safe places ... You were warehoused.”

Adverse childhood experiences, genes, and mental illness

Since at least the time of Moses, we’ve wanted to believe that the “child is father to the man,” that to understand adults we need first look to their childhoods. Of late, mental health professionals still wedded to the idea have taken heart from the “ACE” research—adverse childhood events. We need to be careful to read this research accurately, and to understand what it does and does not say.
superhero of the psych ward

How to Get So You’re Running the Psych Ward

Being in a psychiatric prison is about power, and it should be treated that way. There are a number of strategies for how to get through life in a psych ward. Over the course of a couple of extended admissions I ended up developing my own personal strategy, which one would simply call Unceasing Persistence.

March 4, 2011

Bob-- I'm going to share with you a case from today that did not involve psychotropics, but I think it illustrates an important point about...
a plant sprouting from the ground

Insane Medicine: How the Mental Health Industry Creates Damaging Treatment Traps and How You...

Yes, we need to drastically reform the foundational assumptions that govern the ideologies that pervade our systems, but many now know the truth about what is happening, and transformational approaches have been sprouting up organically in the rich soils of human creativity.
prescriptions and suicide

Suicides Are Increasing – And So Are Antidepressant Prescriptions

Disturbingly, our study and others reveal that the black box warning is now ignored in many countries, since antidepressant prescriptions for children are on the rise again. Despite increasing certainty that antidepressants are ineffective and likely cause suicidal behavior in young people, psychiatry continues to claim that they reduce suicide risk.

Healthy Planet/Healthy Mind with Zach Bush, MD

Business as usual — big farming, big pharma and conventional healthcare — is threatening our planet and our very ability to survive as a species. Planetary and human health are at a tipping point. Solutions informed by the science of environmental health, epigenetics and the microbiome, are elegantly simple, but their impact is profound.

Psychiatry’s Oppression of Young Anarchists — and the Underground Resistance

My experience as a clinical psychologist for almost three decades is that many young people labeled with psychiatric diagnoses are essentially anarchists in spirit who are pained, anxious, depressed, and angered by coercion, unnecessary rules, and illegitimate authority. In American history, there have been several shameful periods where groups—including Native Americans, homosexuals, and assertive women—have been pathologized, dehumanized, and meted out oppressive treatments by mental health professionals in an attempt to alter their basic being. Today’s psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counselors would do well to recognize that historians do not look kindly on those professionals who participated in institutional dehumanization and oppression.

Comments on Jeffrey Lieberman and Ogi Ogas’ Wall Street Journal Article on the Genetics...

The March 3rd, 2016 edition of the Wall Street Journal featured an article by past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Jeffrey Lieberman and his colleague, computational neuroscientist Ogi Ogas. The article was entitled “Genetics and Mental Illness—Let’s Not Get Carried Away.” In their piece, the authors started by expressing the belief that a recent study identified a gene that causes schizophrenia, and then discussed whether it is desirable or possible to remove allegedly pathological genes in the interest of creating a future “mentally perfect society.” The authors of the article, like many previous textbook authors, seem unfamiliar with the questionable “evidence” put forward by psychiatry as proof that its disorders are “highly heritable” In fact, DSM-5 Task Force Chair David Kupfer admitted that “we’re still waiting” for the discovery of “biological and genetic markers” for psychiatric disorders.
Drawing of Trump and American flag

Should We Diagnose Donald Trump?

I have been involved in hundreds of commitment hearings in which psychiatric diagnoses were crucial. In that context, I have never witnessed the presence of all three factors: (1) the transparent (honest) use of diagnostic labels (which includes the acknowledgment of the inherent biases built into the labels as well as their limited validity), (2) allowing full voice to and full acknowledgment of the labeled person’s view of reality, and (3) using the labels in a manner that produced a useful understanding, which in standard mental health practice would require that the understanding be significantly more beneficial to the labeled person rather than the labeler.

The Invisible Holocaust and the Gene Hypothesis

The Nazis either killed or sterilized almost all the schizophrenics in Germany, yet this was followed by a doubling of the population of schizophrenics in Germany. If it were really an inherited disease, how was this possible? My own explanation for the appearance of these high incidence rates were the conditions of the time.
DSM dark reality

The Problems with the DSM Mask a Dark Reality We’re All Complicit In

It would be comforting to conclude that the people in charge of such projects as the DSM are perhaps a little sociopathic or deviously immoral. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. We are all inextricably bound to, and complicit in, the problem we are attacking.

If Not Meds, Then WHAT?

A great deal of the information published on MadInAmerica is devoted to this very important question, so many constructive ideas are often presented. We think that nutrition and diet should always be part of the conversation.
man's back on blue background vector illustration

Please Stop Saying Depression Is Like Diabetes

It seems more and more common for people who consider themselves mental health advocates to make the argument that “mental illness is like physical illness.” Have you heard this “depression is like diabetes” tactic? I have a hard time seeing how this is advocating for those in emotional distress.

A Stranger in a Strange Land (Pt. 2): What Happened to You?

Through the act of deep listening to personal stories of distress and healing, I have become convinced that even the most well-meaning mental health professionals are persistently asking the wrong questions. We are operating within a system that prizes the stability, conformity, and sedation of persons with experiences too unusual or too "disruptive" to social norms. It is a system that asks the question, "What is wrong with you?" and it is a system that defines "fixing" the problem as managing symptoms so that people aren't a bother (financially, logistically, and socially) to other people.

Overcoming the Stigma of Depression

One of the roadblocks to recovery for those who suffer from depression is our culture's tendency to stigmatize depression and other mental health disorders. After my first hospitalization, I remember the dilemma I faced in trying to explain my three-day absence to my employer. If I told the truth—that I was being treated for anxiety and depression—I stood a good chance of losing my job. Instead, I reported that I had been treated for insomnia at a sleep clinic. In another instance, a client of mine who worked as a nurse was petrified of telling her colleagues that she dealt with depression, but when she shared her diagnosis of cancer, they showered her with with love and support.

Dare to Dream: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said that “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” For those of us diagnosed with mental illnesses and our families and loved ones, we know all to well the effects of these inequalities from personal and first hand experiences. For those of us like me, we also know of the extreme health and mental health disparities that exist within our communities of color.

RCTs: Really Concerning Trends in Research and Marketing

An RCT is simply a research tool and, as a tool, it can be used in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, the idea of a hierarchy of evidence seems to be hypnotically seductive for many people and powerfully useful for the drug companies. In order to get a drug to market, regulators in the US such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and also in Europe, only require the drug companies to produce two RCTs with statistically significant positive results. Perhaps this very low standard has contributed to the fact that RCTs can be much more useful as marketing tools for drug companies than for discovering new and useful ways for people to live healthy and meaningful lives.

Confirmed: Las Vegas Shooter on Benzos

A Las Vegas newspaper has released the autopsy blood toxicology report for Stephen Paddock. Three metabolites (breakdown products) of Valium were found in his blood: nordiazepam, oxazepam, and temazepam. Paddock’s autopsy report confirms he was a regular user of Valium, at least in the days leading up to the shootings.

Pandora’s Box

This morning I remind myself to point my eyes forward. I tend to want to re-do the past and try to make bad things...

Apply Yourself, Your Whole Self, and Nothing But Yourself

Now, personality tests are being used to determine which side of the wealth gap people will fall on. Who you are is not neutral — the lens your personality-test results will be viewed through is: “are you a good worker?” Any definition of this will likely exclude psychiatric survivors, those labeled by the DSM and those who see, think, hear, speak and feel differently.

Researching the Link Between SSRIs and Violence

In 2010, my 25-year old son was prescribed Prozac for depression. After a psychiatrist doubled his dose, my son became acutely psychotic and had to be admitted to the hospital. Over the next twelve months, during which time he was treated with antidepressants and neuroleptics, my son had five further psychotic experiences. I thought it might be that my son was having difficulty metabolising the drugs.

Open Letter to Family Doctors and Mental Health Practitioners From an Average Kid Acting...

Hey Doc; I was wondering if before you see me the next time and tell my parents that I still need to be medicated for ADHD, you might consider a few things about me that you might not know. You see as a kid who can barely pick out an outfit that matches, make my bed, or wake up not hoping it's Saturday, I kind of have an active imagination. Like nearly all of my friends, I hate taking baths and I like to daydream. And when I daydream, I seem to not pay attention to what others are talking about. I kind of get lost in my own little world where rainbows do lead to pots of gold, leprechauns are real, life often feels like my favorite video game, and fart jokes never get old.

Foxes Guarding the Henhouse: the Role of the Chief Psychiatrist

I do not wish to discuss an individual patient. I wish to discuss the conduct of the psychiatrists at Upton House, Dr Katz in particular, who have been responsible for the administering of over 50 ECTs consecutively to a patient, and have reportedly repeatedly restrained this patient to a bed, on one occasion for approximately 60 consecutive days.

When There’s No Place Like Home…. 

The most difficult decision I have had to make as a clinician has been to send a person into a locked psychiatric unit for up to 72 hours. The emotional impact affects the individual who is going to be placed on the 72-hour hold, and their family. The emotions that are involved in the process of observing the person, collecting information, and finally making the life-altering decision are powerful and long-lasting for the person making the decision as well. That is, if they are compassionate and involved, and fully aware of the consequences.

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