Thursday, February 9, 2023


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).

12 Vital Questions of Mental Health

Naturally we human beings want to move from not knowing to knowledge. We want to move from not knowing how to cure a disease to finding a cure for that disease. But this natural desire to know things ought not make us believe that we know something when we do not yet know it. This is the case for what, for a given individual, may be his most important personal problem: his emotional health. We do not know much about “what goes on” inside human beings. Nor may we ever. This is perhaps the largest “not knowing” that confronts our species and maybe also the hardest one to swallow.

Book Review: Parenting Your Child with ADHD: A No-Nonsense Guide for Nurturing Self-Reliance...

I have recently read this book, and I think it would be extremely helpful for parents, teachers, and counselors who work with children in...

Support for SB 614 with Amendment to Supervision Qualifications

Throughout California, the nation, and the world, peer specialists provide services to individuals with mental health challenges. In California, over 6,000 peer specialists are employed. In 2007, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guided states to create peer certifications. Since then, more than 30 states have created statewide peer certifications, and if Senator Leno’s Senate Bill 614 goes through, so will California

US Senator Raises Concerns About Possible Stock Manipulation by Vertex Executives

Senator Charles Grassley is upping the ante on the controversy surrounding the Vertex pharmaceutical executives who cashed in on overstated clinical trial data --...

Family Members – Allies or Adversaries?

After filling with anger from listening to parents' testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly for hours, I realized: Parents believe what they are told and what society believes – that certain emotional experiences are signs of a disease that needs to be treated like other medical illnesses. The reality is that those parents want exactly what I want – for our children to be happy. We owe it to our communities to channel the voices of parents who feel that all the system offers children is diagnoses and drugs.


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.

Does It Matter if We Believe in Mental Illness?

It's clear that different people relate to the idea of "mental illness" and labeling differently. Many people find the experience of being diagnosed with...

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.

Legislators: Don’t try to sneak this through as an amendment. (HB1386)

Your next move will be an amendment to another measure. Do not attempt. You've pulled bogus crap with this since the beginning. You've lied about task force recommendations. You've pulled suprise buttsex scheduling, when proponents somehow got the message, and opponents were left scrambling to get there. Twice. You basically filibustered us on Wednesday, which was also scheduled without notice.

Dr. Pies Still Spinning

Racially motivated invective and abuse are directed against people purely and simply on the basis of their skin color. Anti-psychiatry invective and abuse, however, are based on the activities of psychiatrists. For the past several decades, psychiatrists have been telling their clients, and the general public, and journalists, that virtually all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. They have stated clearly and unambiguously that these putative imbalances constitute "real illnesses, just like diabetes," and that the imbalances are corrected by psychiatric drugs. So when we mental illness "deniers" point out that the various problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving listed in the DSM are not real illnesses, we are actually using the term illness in the same sense as is entailed in psychiatry's scandalously deceptive assertion.

Health Disparity Project Cuts Out the Recovery Movement

Lots of funders are now doing initiatives to address health disparities. But once again we have found that a project designated to help our community has gone astray without even bothering to ask our community what we need. Here's why that matters and what grassroots advocates can do about it.

Entrepreneurship Is The Way Out of Our Mess

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― Richard...

DxSummit Officially Launches

As co-chair of the Diagnostic Summit Committee of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, I am pleased to announce that today we officially launch the Global Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives (, an online platform for rethinking mental health. Our goal is to provide a place for a collegial and rigorous discussion of alternative ways to conceptualize and practice diagnosis. Today's launch is marked by the appearance of our first eight posts. These posts come from a variety of prominent people in the field, each offering a unique perspective on the current state of diagnosis and where we might take things as we move forward.

It’s Not Going To Get Better Soon

I’ve been thinking a lot about George Saslow since I came south to take a timeout and think. I miss him. A lot. Dr....

The Law’s Flaw

Tom Burns, M.D., Psychiatrist and Professor of Social Psychiatry at Oxford, recently said of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) that “compulsion added to otherwise decent care makes no difference.” This was no easy conclusion for Burns, who for twenty years “argued ardently” for Community Treatment Orders (CTO’s), which are described as the British version of California’s newly passed AOT laws. "I worked for more than 20 years to get the CTO law passed," he said. "I thought such laws were going to make a difference, but they don't."

Persecution: Dangerous Liaisons

From 1951, a system designed for heroin and cocaine addicts – prescription-only status – was applied to all new drugs. Why? These were after all the first truly effective drugs in medicine. But the ability to do good came with a likelihood of doing harm. There was a trade-off to be made between risks and benefits. The new complex trade-offs could not be put on to the label of a drug or even captured in a forty page package insert. They needed to be individual to each person.

Doctor Munchausen: Hear no, See no – What?

Doctors in the 1950s and 1960s made psychiatric diagnoses on orphaned children that led to treatment with antipsychotic drugs, and one of the drivers of this seemed to be that the Church got more money from the State as a result. The doctors, of course, also got paid. This feels like a seriously corrupt nexus operating with near impunity on the basis that no one is going to be bothered to investigate the fate of some orphans.

Changing Trends of Childhood Disability, 2001-2011

On August 11, Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published an article that was based on data derived from a random selection of families concerning their health problems or concerns. Surprisingly, the incidence of disability due to physical conditions declined by 11.8%, while disability due to mental/neurodevelopmental conditions increased by 20.9%. The highest increases were among children under the age of 6, and children from more advantaged homes. At least part of the reason for this stems from the fact that while the prevalence of physical disability is limited by the prevalence of the particular pathology in question, no such limitation applies to "psychiatric disabilities."

Chapter Fifteen: A Haven from Self

A Note to the Reader: Thorough searches of my memory reserves have failed to provide me with a complete and detailed account of my...

Chapter Five: Filling the Void

When I returned to boarding school in the fall of my junior year, I brought with me not just duffel bags of clothes, athletic...

Seclusion & Restraint in Ohio

The use of seclusion and restraint in mental health care in Ohio is legitimately subject to the assessment, criticisms and recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

A Milestone in the Battle for Truth in Drug Safety: Study 329’s Final Chapter...

Arguably the most controversial drug study ever, Study 329, concluded that paroxetine was a safe and effective medication for treating major depression in adolescents. It concluded that paroxetine was a safe and effective medication for treating major depression in adolescents, and it is still widely cited in the medical literature. Though GlaxoSmithKline’s promotion based on Study 329 resulted in the biggest fine in corporate history, the study remains unretracted.

Finding the Inner Wild

Modern “civilized” cultures do not have a good relationship with the wild. It seems we are always doing everything possible to shut it out of our lives, or to kill or tame it to the point where it is unrecognizable. Yet that which is wild is always still lurking, somewhere over the edge of our boundaries and frontiers, and also inside people, both inside the “others” we might approach warily on the street, and even inside our family members and ourselves.

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.

What Will Cause Psychiatry to Change?

I've been on hiatus for a few months now, and I decided that an informal entry would be most fitting at this time. I have had one question on my mind lately: what would motivate Psychiatry to drastically change its mission and practices in a way that is most consistent with contemporary evidence and moral responsibility?