Thursday, June 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).

The Pipeline

I’m overwhelmed by the complicated multi-issue medical reform legislation being batted about. I feel hopeless that any such massive reform bill can survive the...

Rediscovering Traditions of Community Healing – Susan McKeown

Is poetry the way to truly understand madness? Do rituals and music -- such as Ireland's tradition of keening -- have the power to heal emotional suffering? Susan McKeown, Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter and folklorist, supported her partner through an extreme state. She began a journey to uncover intergenerational trauma in her family and in the history of her native Ireland, and was inspired to set poems about madness to music.

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.)

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 ...

The Future of Mental Health Interview Series, Part III

The Future of Mental Health interview series continues with interviews this past week with Claudia Gold on The Silenced Child, Robert Stolorow on emotional trauma and psychoanalysis, Gayle Flanigan on Rose Hill Center, Robert Salvit on Kabbalah and spiritual healing, Susan Raeburn on group psychotherapy, Robert Whitaker on Mad in America, and Isabel Clarke on psychosis and spiritual experiences.

Personal Steps toward a Revolution in Mental Health Care

My friend David Oaks, director of MindFreedom , likes to say that what is currently needed is a non-violent revolution in mental health care.  Mental...

Human Rights and Managed Care: Part 3

Now, enough about me (and my life in managed care). Let’s look more into the two topics of our presentation, human rights and managed...

Suckling Pigs, Stray Dogs, and Psychiatric Diagnoses

In "The Order of Things", Michel Foucault, the great French philosopher cites a ‘certain Chinese encyclopedia’ that notes ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) suckling pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies’.

Partner Bill of Rights: Speaking to the Cycle of Abuse

In 1993, the World Health Bank estimated that domestic violence, or intimate partner violence (IPV), was a greater cause of poor health than traffic accidents and malaria combined. It was believed that 5-20% of healthy years lost for women were attributed to IPV. By definition, violence is considered to be any physical, verbal, or sexual assault that significantly comprises a person’s body, trust, and sense of self. But it is not solely a female issue even as women are disproportionately perpetrated against in this way. Results from a study conducted in the United States found that 22.1 percent of women and 7.4 percent of men reported acts of IPV in their lifetime.

Antipsychiatry, (Ex)consumers, Peers, and ‘This Movement’: Assembling the Histories of Reform and Resistance, Part...

Within the communities that surround Mad in America one is likely to hear reference to "the movement." The basic meaning of this phrase seems clear enough. The movement broadly refers to the groups of people actively rethinking the mental health system, and the treatment of persons labeled as mentally ill, in the United States and abroad. Upon further inspection, however, we realize that there is no centralized ethos uniting these groups. There may be consensus that the current mental health models are troublesome, but within each subset of ‘the movement’ there are many different perspectives about such troubles' causes and solutions.

Real Psychiatry and Darwinian Evolution are One and the Same: Molecular Psychiatry has Missed...

The basic principle for the development of human personality is the very same as for Darwinian evolution. In our quest to understand human biology, we have lost our way. We are looking in all the wrong places. The human organism from the beginning adapts to its salient environment. We can trace our adaptations from a zygote, to an embryo, to a fetus, to a newborn, a baby, a toddler, a child, an adolescent, all the way to adulthood. This also tells us how psychiatric problems arise, and informs us of the appropriate and effective treatment.

Dr. Pies and Psychiatry’s ‘Solid Center’

Ronald Pies, MD, is one of American's most eminent and prestigious psychiatrists.  He is the Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Psychiatric Times, and he is a Professor of Psychiatry at both Syracuse and Tufts. I disagree with many of Dr. Pies' contentions, and I have expressed these disagreements in detail in various posts. But there is one area where I have to acknowledge Dr. Pies' efforts:  he never gives up in his defense of his beloved psychiatry, even in the face of the most damaging counter-evidence. For instance, on more than one occasion, he has asserted, with apparent sincerity and conviction, that psychiatry never promoted the chemical imbalance theory of depression!

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.

Creating Sustainability, Disarming Trauma and Loving One Another

I recently joined BHbusiness Mastering Essential Business Operations as a convener.  The plan is to recruit 15-20 peer organizations to participate in a peer provider learning community.  I decided to create an all peer - or at least a 95 percent peer - learner community with meaningful programs, innovation, and plenty of ideas that may not necessarily be easy to implement. How can we disarm trauma in the midst of creating sustainable communities? We must love ourselves a little harder, love our peers just a little bit stronger and bring our adversaries closer to our hearts.

A Reflective Checklist to Reduce Psychotropic Drugs for Vulnerable Children

This thought-provoking reflective checklist strategy is designed to challenge the increasing 'quick fix' mentality of many doctors who decide to move immediately from a possible diagnosis to medication. With school-aged children we need to promote their Safeguarding, and a Pause-Reflect-Review process that will, hopefully, reduce unnecessary prescribing.

Future of Mental Health Series: Oryx Cohen on his film “Healing Voices”

The Future of Mental Health interview series continued this past week with some very interesting interviews, among them Sara Tai on inner city mental health, Russell Razzaque on psychiatry and mindfulness, and Jane Linsley on Gould Farm. Here is my interview with Oryx Cohen on his new film “Healing Voices” which will be premiering soon.

Set Up for the Con

If biological psychiatrists have lied to us, we need to ask why, as a culture, we have been so willing to embrace those lies. Generally, we’re most apt to be conned when the con men appeal to our hopes and fears. We don’t like to admit that many people rightly fear the influence of therapy. If we want to defeat biological psychiatry, we can’t just show its lack of integrity. We have to offer alternatives that deserve trust.

A Chance for Ohio

While there was much to criticize in the final report of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, the basic observation that the...


It's amazing how much life or death conversation and thinking psych drugs inspire. In a way this seems to miss the point since our lives are obviously about something far more profound than weird chemical combinations that we don't understand. Yet they are what our first-world society has in place to respond to the life or death existential (and holy) questions and crises people tackle.

Persecution: Dangerous Liaisons

If you participate in a clinical trial, the new industry "consent" forms mean you put your children and your wider family and community in a state of legal jeopardy. Because they can hide the data of your experience in the trial, even if you have been significantly injured by the treatment, companies can declare there were no side effects and your invalidated experience can then be used to deny justice to someone who is injured in exactly the same way you have been.

Resolving to Make This Year Mean More

Every year around this time, millions of people make their New Year’s resolutions. In many ways, our resolutions mirror the willful approach that is needed to overcome psychological conditions, even those of a severe nature. We must be cautious about agents which serve to dull us to our particular circumstances and state of mind, whether it be medications or otherwise.

Healing the Body and Mind

My name is Mark Foster. I am a family physician and writer from Colorado, and the co-Founder and president of a new non-profit called...

The Antidepressant Era: the Movie

"The Antidepressant Era" was written in 1995, and first published in 1997. A paperback came out in 1999. It was close to universally welcomed. It was favorably received by reviewers from the pharmaceutical industry, perhaps because it made clear that this branch of medical history had not been shaped by great men or great institutions but that other players, company people, had been at least as important.

A Liberation Journey with Images

I am humbled to share with you my life’s journey, and more importantly to convey a recent experience that has transmuted everything, opening up a new frontier of being more fully alive. I am beginning to see the invisible; or should I say I am beginning to feel it, because it is an inner experience.

Whose Recovery Is This?! Helping Families Heal

Last night I had the privilege of attending my first Family Den with other Mother Bears like myself—parents, spouses, siblings and adult children. All of us have family members who have experienced mental health challenges. All of us had a story to tell.

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