Sunday, August 7, 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).

The Community Psychologist as Covert Operative in the Indian Health Service

Coercive situations like the one depicted in this blog subtly replicate older times when colonizers dominated Indian people using guns and ammo. In the contemporary times, oppressive mental health systems of colonizers use pills and labels to force-feed ‘civilizing’ principles. This intergenerational comparison might seem more intriguing if you consider that the psychiatric nurse in question was a Commissioned Corps officer in full uniform blues while meeting with this girl in the bunker-like Indian Health Service (IHS) clinic located along “Fort Road.” If you drive straight out along that road for 23 miles, you’ll end up on the park grounds of the actual historic fort where this girl’s ancestors were once bull-whipped for non-compliance.

Centering Lived Experience

Lately, after a number of discussions, we have been changing our practices around the issue of labels. No longer do we give a diagnosis at presentations. We place the young person’s story, as told to us, front and center. People listening rarely ask, “What is their diagnosis?” now that lived experiences are central. We are providing a sense of their struggles. We are trying.

9 Ways to Stop the Next Village Shalom Shooting

If you haven't heard about the Village Shalom shooting yet, it happened. This time it's my own community. So I when I list these 9 ways to stop the next Village Shalom shooting know that I speak with full love and compassion. The main thing I want to share is the real story about mental health. Emotional distress can be temporary and transformative. Recovery can mean, "All this goes away."

Father Munchausen, I Presume!

I’ve had some criticism of the recent Doctor Munchausen posts. They’re not fair on doctors. Many people have told me of lives saved by good doctors. It’s not fair to tar these good doctors with the brush of a few Dr Munchausens here and there. So there’s bad doctoring and good doctoring and great doctoring. What would great doctoring mean?

Book Review:  Tales From The Madhouse, by Gary Sidley

Earlier this year the British publisher PCCS Books published Tales From The Madhouse: An insider critique of psychiatric services, by Gary Sidley. Gary's criticisms of psychiatry are cogent and convincing. But in addition he has drawn on his extensive experience working in the system to describe in close detail psychiatry's devastating effects in the lives and hopes of real people. Through Gary's sensitively written anecdotes, psychiatry's "treatments" are exposed as the disempowering, hope-destroying tactics that they are.

The Questions Are Not the Problem

It is possible that if we ask “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?”, we wouldn’t see much of a change at all. Those people who are inclined to think of mental health problems as illnesses, as something “wrong,” would be able to explain that what happened to you was the cause of the illness; it produced what is wrong with you. It is much more crucial to understand “What is happening for you now?”

Madness Radio: Daniel Hazen On Abolishing Prisons

First Aired 5-1-2012 What is it like for a prisoner diagnosed with mental illness? Should we have more mental health treatment in prison -- or...

Madness Radio: Eleanor Longden on Voices and Trauma

Hearing distressing voices is highly correlated with traumatic experiences, and many people report that their first experience with distressing voices occurs after a trauma....

Building Mental Health Exit Ramps: 5 Actions You Can Take in 10 Minutes

I've been working for 2 1/2 years on a system to provide non-medical care for people with emotional distress. I want it to be...

The Empire of Humbug: Bad Pharma

Some psychiatric drugs are extraordinarily effective, for instance benzodiazepines for catatonia or SSRIs for premature ejaculation. These treatments are so effective that controlled trials are an irrelevance. Every trial conducted would show a positive result. The point here is not that it is impossible for a treatment to achieve effectiveness but rather that controlled trials have little useful to contribute to the issue of effectiveness. Randomized placebo controlled trials have not shown any drug within the mental health domain is effective. If a treatment were effective virtually every RCT undertaken would show a positive result.

Murphy’s Legislation Threatens Civil Rights of the “Mentally Ill”

In our nation's history, in the face of fear, we have often risen to achieve noble goals. Other times we have behaved tragically — for instance, interning and seizing property from Japanese Americans during World War II. Certainly, there were spies among us then. Only in hindsight did we recognize that our treatment of the larger group — who were not — was gravely mistaken. We are on the verge of witnessing such an event in our own time.

Understanding Madness as Revolution, Then Working Toward Peace

While some will frame Eleanor Longden’s story, told in her awesome TED video (which has now been viewed about 1/2 million times!), as the triumph of an individual struggling against “mental illness,” I believe the story might better be seen as a refutation of the whole “illness of the mind” metaphor, and as an indication of a desperate need for a new paradigm.

Creativity and the Myth of the Self: A Way of Having Manic-Depression

As I re-examine my creative journey it is impossible for me to distinguish the peculiarities of manic-depression from a more universal experience of the creative process. Not coincidentally the poets, and all the great artists, to whom I was most drawn were ones I later learned shared my "mind" (having depression or manic-depression)—and it was their truths that moved me and revealed most poignantly the secrets of life.

“Open Access” for the Activist Community

As many MiA readers are aware, a substantial percentage of mental health-related research reports — hundreds of thousands of articles, including many of direct relevance to community-based activists, advocates and clinicians — are currently held behind paywalls. While there are now a growing number of initiatives intended to promote (free) “open access,” many important publications remain inaccessible. Many activists and scholars believe open access is a significant social justice issue. We have put together a shareable Dropbox folder with thematically grouped research articles, measures and evaluation resources.

Seven Reasons Why the US’s New Mental Health Law Is Dangerous

This week, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, touting the bipartisan mental health measure as "bringing to reality the possibility of new breakthroughs to some of the greatest health-care challenges of our time." However, the reality behind this legislation is not quite what it appears to be.

“Baby Cry Too Much?”

This is the second in my new series, “Haiku for social change”, the first having appeared on my own blog page. Since this piece is about pharmacology and psychopharmacology, I think MIA is a good home for it.

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