Thursday, May 6, 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).

man looking upset with pills in front of him

SSRI Withdrawal’s Elephant in the Room: Tardive Akathisia

Slower tapering of antidepressant dose is generally more comfortable. However, success or failure after stopping completely mostly relates to whether tardive akathisia occurs.
ECT electricity

ECT Explained by a CET (Certified Engineering Technologist)

A scientific understanding of electricity’s effects on the human body has only been around since the last half of the 20th century. If this understanding of electric shock and electrical injury was had in the first part of the 20th century, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) would likely never have been accepted by modern western medicine.

The Cure for Mood Disorders Is Dementia?

Perhaps the most alarming current trend in psychiatry, documented by Domino and Schwartz (2008), is the rise in prescriptions for the class of drug...

Crash Course in Urban Shamanism

Shamans are the magician spirit healers in tribal, non-technological societies around the world. Anthropologists use the word “shamanism,” from the Tungus people of Siberia, to mean the commonalities between different traditions. Shamans find their calling through a life-threatening initiatory illness or crisis, go into visioning and trance to connect to other realities, shapeshift out of their regular identity to identify with animals, spirits, and even illnesses, and return to the ordinary world to share skills of healing and creativity. Living at the edge of society and defying conventional norms, conduct, and even gender, shamans are respected as a powerful community link to the divine.

Who and What Killed Prince and Michael Jackson? Will the Role of Benzos Ever...

It is the deadly cocktail of benzodiazepines and opiates that is most responsible for the rising rate of opiate overdose deaths... and benzos may actually be THE decisive deadly component in the lethal drug combination. Yes, fentanyl and propofol can be dangerous drugs, but to focus the main attention in this crisis on these rarely used drugs is deliberately misleading...This minimizes the critical role of benzos and rather conveniently lets certain institutions and their leaders off the hook as the main suspects in such a vast number of cases that should be labeled as crimes of negligent homicide.

The “I Am Not The Butcher” Speech

On Thursday I had an interaction with a psychologist where I basically said, "I am not sure I want to attend a workshop you...

Thank You Notes: #ForTheKids

This short blog is inspired by the always entertaining and witty Thank You Notes ritual Jimmy Fallon does on the Tonight Show every week. It’s intended to be funny, but of course not as funny as Jimmy Fallon; he’s the best. People say I am funny, and have a great face for radio, but come on… how funny can you be when you talk about mental health and drugging kids?

The Psychiatry Sandcastle Continues to Crumble

Psychiatry would long since have gone the way of phrenology and mesmerism but for the financial support it receives from the pharmaceutical industry. But the truth has a way of trickling out. Here are five recent stories that buck the psychiatry-friendly stance that has characterized the mainstream media for at least the past 50 years.

Current Research on Outpatient Commitment Laws (“Laura’s Law” in California)‎

Outpatient commitment laws, passed by a number of states, permit forced commitment to ‎treatment of those whom a psychiatrist, psychologist, or mental ‎health official deems in need of treatment. The majority of this “treatment,” while not ‎specifically written in the law, results in coercive tactics to pressure agreement to take ‎pharmaceutical preparations of limited-to-no effectiveness but - as shown in early research - with ‎massive effects on cognitive functions and subsequent decision-making ability, not to ‎mention a long-term or lifelong diminished quality of life and ability to function as a productive ‎member of society.

Consent and Psychiatry: Problematizing the Problematic 

It is rare to get involved in a dialogue over psychiatry without sooner or later someone defending the use of such “treatments” as ECT “as long as they are consented to,” with the term “informed consent” periodically employed. Herein lies the context for this piece. The issue that I want to probe, to be clear, is not whether force should be used—for of course it shouldn’t—but the thorny issue of consent itself—what exactly constitutes consent and what other issues besides consent are critical to factor in when considering what it is and is not legitimate for a “medical” professional to offer.
woman rejecting mask held by psychiatrist

Should You Ever Ask Someone “Are You Suicidal?”

For every person “Are you suicidal?” may assist, there are many more of us who are scared into silence when those words are uttered. Why? Well, “Are you suicidal?” is, in fact, the king of the suicide risk assessment questionnaire. “Are you suicidal?” has become the red, neon, flashing sign that screams “Stop! Don’t talk to me!” Perhaps this might just explain why suicide risk assessments are well known not to work.
TED microphone

Why Scientists Should Reconsider Presenting with TED

How many other scientists like me are going to be flagged, publicly reprimanded by TED, for challenging current ways of thinking? Is it even possible to be innovative and follow conventional thinking at the same time? If there are scientists out there with great new ideas, the TED stage may not be the optimal place to state them.
chess pieces arranged on stairs

Identity, Oppression, and the Culture of “The Mentally Ill”

A "mental illness culture" means that full time work is seen as impossible and discouraged, and your social world only consists of other mental health "consumers" and mental health workers.

Shh… Just Whisper it, But There Might Just Be a Revolution Underway

The idea that our more distressing emotions can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses is a pervasive, seductive but harmful myth. It means that our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane and fundamentally unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems. We need wholesale and radical change in how we understand mental health problems and in how we design and commission mental health services.

I Am Alive

This — this moment — is a gift, just as every moment of my post-Psychiatry life is, and I view it as a second chance, this life I’m living on borrowed time. This is why I’ll be protesting the APA, because Psychiatry took me as far from this life as I could possibly have gone, and it is my duty to use this gift to fight for the freedom of those still enslaved.
Esketamine nasal spray

Nasal Spray for Depression? Not So Fast

Several members of the FDA Advisory Committee perceived this new drug as a potential “game changer” in the way depression is treated. I, however, am NOT one of them. I take my role as the Consumer Representative very seriously and want to make sure that any pharmaceutical drug that the FDA approves shows greater benefit than potential harm.

My Operation Tomorrow: Mental Health Justice, Speaking Out for Our Rights, and Creative Maladjustment

For the past 42 years I have been a psychiatric survivor, and in the last few decades I have seen how working with the disability movement can amplify our voices. But I never expected the idea of trying to find my voice to become so literal!

Why I don’t do “med checks”

I don't do "med checks". What do I do?

Faith Lost

I came through integrative medicine as a stepping-stone to holistic care. I learned about supplements and herbs that could be added on to medications or used on their own to change mood and enhance wellness. I practiced in this way for a couple of years, prescribing and strategically augmenting, before understanding that true personalized, lifestyle medicine obviates the need for medication. It gets to the root. I no longer wanted to enhance psychotropics; I wanted to eliminate them.

CRPD Consultation on Deinstitutionalization: A Reparations Approach

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has announced a series of regional consultations on deinstitutionalization.

Antipsychotics and the Scientific Method

In a recent article in the New Yorker, titled, The Truth Wears Off, science writer Jonah Lehrer discusses an intriguing problem in science. The...

Belief Systems, Nuance, and Productive Advocacy Ideas

For those with lived experience, do people believe your recovery story? What restrictions do people put on you when you tell your story? What one-liners have you found to defuse people's concerns so that they can hear you? How do you stay in the advocacy game instead of getting frustrated at being the only one who knows the data? This is my story of disclaimers, advocacy friends, respect for religious beliefs, and sustainable advocacy efforts.

Involuntarily Voluntary

I was never voluntary, no matter how much I convinced myself I was. Only now, my mind, body, and spirit fully free from the mental health system, am I coming to understand this. After desperately searching for answers to that once perplexing question of “Who am I?” I have found that I’m connecting with a true, authentic sense of my Self for the first time.

Robin Williams or Patch Adams? Watch a Brief Message from David Oaks to the...

You may watch a little eight-minute video message, below, that I sent this past Sunday, October 12, 2014, especially created to be shown during the gala dinner for the Mad In America International Film Festival. The festival brought together many movies that challenge the mental health industry. I wish I could have been there physically because this certainly was one of the main Mad Culture events of the season and many activists, film makers, and other creative folks were in attendance.

Psychiatry and Crime

I have made the point many times that the DSM definition of a mental disorder can be accurately paraphrased as: any significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving. It is important to note that the APA's definition of a mental disorder/illness is entirely arbitrary, in that there is no objective reality to which it must conform. A mental disorder is what the APA says it is, and there is no way to argue that a particular problem is not a mental disorder, because there is no reality against which this kind of labeling can be checked.

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