Blogs

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).

teen suicide

No, Dr. Friedman: The Solution to Teen Suicide is Not So Simple

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In the largest newspaper in the world this week, one of the largest problems in the world was proposed as having a very simple solution. No, the answer to our suicide crisis among youth is not to encourage more teens to embrace more treatment. It’s to pursue multifaceted answers to a complex, multifaceted problem.

E. Fuller Torrey’s Review of Anatomy of an Epidemic: What Does It Reveal About...

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E. Fuller Torrey, through his Treatment Advocacy Center, is the country’s most prominent advocate for outpatient commitment laws, which typically force people with a...
supported decision-making equal legal capacity

Equal Legal Capacity or ‘Supported Decision-Making’?

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At a recent conference on legal capacity, I was struck by the failure of another invited expert to adhere to the paradigm of supported decision-making as articulated by the CRPD Committee. We still need to work to ensure that this paradigm is well understood and appreciated, despite the progress made in national reforms.

“I Was Just Following Orders”: a Seroquel Suicide, a Study Coordinator, and a “Corrective...

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Out here in Minnesota, where the snow is gently falling, many of us are hunched over our computers, puzzling over a document just posted by the state Board of Social Work. It concerns the death of Dan Markingson (or as the document calls him, “Client #1”). Markingson, of course, was a young man under a commitment order who was coerced into a profitable Seroquel marketing study at the University of Minnesota over the objections of his mother, and whose condition spiraled downward until he committed suicide.

Racism and Radical Psychiatry

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A radical caucus within the American Psychiatric Association tried to combat systemic racism in the 1960s. So why is the APA still behind the times?

Foster Youths Meet Psychiatry: First – Do No pHarm

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When a foster youth encounters a Psychiatrist, chances are high that s/he will get medicated. Traumatized foster youth are often prescribed powerful psychotropics due to exhibiting a wide variety of “normal reactions to abnormal events,” such as despair, agitation, anxiety and self-harm. The practice has been well documented; foster children are prescribed psychotropics at a 2.7 to 4.5 times higher rate than non-foster youth. The National Center for Youth Law aptly summarizes the problem as; too many (25% of foster youth medicated), too soon (300 children under the age of 5 in California are given psychotropics annually) too much (adult dosages) and for too long (no planning or reviews for possible discontinuation).

Nutrition, Sleep, and Mental Health

It was somewhat surprising 15+ years ago when Bonnie first began to be challenged (by psychiatrists in particular, who are always being asked about adverse side effects) to answer this question: what are the side effects of taking a broad-spectrum formula? In all these ensuing years, the answer has not changed from her first observations: people repeatedly tell us that in addition to improved mental health and cognitive clarity, they sleep better and they experience relief of constipation. Now, finally, we have evidence for the first of those two ‘side effects’ in the form of an excellent study

So, You Want to Be An Activist?

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Ever since I had realized how I had been so terribly wounded in my life, I had wanted to tell psychiatry they were wrong about me. For me, the Occupy Psychiatry protest in Philadelphia last May 5 was a great opportunity to do that. It's not possible for everyone in the world who is interested in psychiatric human rights to attend the May 19 protest and rally in San Francisco that is being held by Occupy Psychiatry, but there are millions of people who want (need) to see a change and activism can take any number of forms.

The Gauntlet of Protracted Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

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My doctor insisted that my symptoms could not be associated with withdrawal – they had to be symptoms of an underlying condition. I have since learned from legitimate sources that protracted withdrawal syndrome from benzodiazepines can intensify long before it abates, with some symptoms lasting for years.

Am I Having a Breakdown or Breakthrough? Further Reflections on a Depressive Relapse

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In my previous blog, “Back in the Dark House Again: The Recurrent Nature of Clinical Depression,” I reported on my recent relapse into depression that began this summer. As I have comtemplated the seriousness of my episode, the question has arisen, “Am I having a nervous breakdown?” Although I couldn't see it, there was a reason for hope — for a breakdown can be a precursor to a breakthrough.

“Murphy Bill” Continues to Exclude Voices of Millions with Mental Health Conditions as It...

On November 4, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee marked up an amended version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646), introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). However, the bill still does not reflect the voices or meet the needs of millions of Americans with lived experience of mental health conditions because the E&C Health Subcommittee failed to incorporate our recommendations.

Emotional Strategies and Skills for Aspiring Mental Health Workers

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In mental health, we have spent an inordinate amount of effort on the intellectual level. Since most people who come to us for help have deeper needs than that, we’re going to fail most of them if we don’t instead operate predominantly at the emotional level.

The Disease Loop – Mental Health Infographics

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I have been creating graphics to explain some of the work we do. Infographics have a lot of power. This one is a rough...

Unusual Beliefs and Mental Well-Being

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Who’s deluded? Who’s possessed with unusual beliefs? And whose beliefs, if expressed and put into practice publicly, actually cause the greatest harm? Who gets to decide what is abnormal or normal, and based upon what kind of evidence, really?
hate speech

Blaming the “Mentally Ill”: This is Hate Speech

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As could be expected, in the wake of the mass murders in El Paso and Dayton, we have politicians such as President Trump and others such as E. Fuller Torrey blaming the killings on the “mentally ill.” We have heard this over and over again, and I think it is time to call this out for what it is: Hate Speech.

The Danger of Marginalizing People

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Instead of increasing understanding of our differences, the mental health system contributes to the marginalization of people it classifies as mentally ill.
Businesswoman hand trying to stop toppling dominoes on table

Mental Health Survival Kit, Chapter 5: Survival Kit for Young Psychiatrists in a Sick...

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Peter Gøtzsche describes trying to join the psychiatric establishment to bring attention to critical issues from the inside.

Cognitive Therapy Found Effective in Unmedicated Psychotic Patients . . . And Other News

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For a long time, psychotherapy has been seen as providing little benefit to patients with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. However, two recent studies,...

The Children Lead

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How is it that we allow the agendas of others to occupy our childrens’ minds? Is it possible that a stranger can know our child better than we do? Is there anything a baby needs to learn that can’t be taught by being held in a parent’s arms? Because my children’s eyes and ears and thoughts are on me every day, they are key players in my ongoing efforts to live a right life. I count on their eyes and ears and thoughts to shore me up during times of temptation. They always lead me home.
Photo of Darby Penney sitting beside a flower and candle

Remembering Darby Penney — A Fierce Advocate for Justice and Human Rights

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Celia Brown, Ron Bassman, and Peter Stastny mourn the loss of Darby Penney, who fought to transform the mental health system in New York.

Yogurt Cooperative in Spain Provides a Different Form of Help: Meaningful Work

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Every one of the Fageda Cooperative’s 300 workers - from milking shed to packing plant - will tell you that this cooperative makes the finest yogurt in all Spain, if not in the world. Last year, they made 1.4 million yogurts every week. In Catalonia, only Nestle and Danone sell more. But Fageda isn’t in business to make yogurt. For over 30 years, its sole mission has been to provide fully-paid, flexible employment to anyone from the region diagnosed with a mental health problem but who still wants to work.
Jane Whittington with a flower background

Honoring Jane Whittington: 1950-2021

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It’s with great sadness that I am writing of the sudden and unexpected passing of my former husband and best friend Jane.

Reality According to Whom? Listening to My Wife—and The Problems with ‘Psychosis’

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Sam Ruck shares an excerpt from his book "Healing Companions," which describes his life with, and love for, his wife and her “alters.” 
hand behind barbed wire with dark background

The “Madness” of Inpatient Psychiatry

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Inpatient psychiatry is not a place of psychological healing; it is devoid of compassion and full of human rights abuses.

Finding the Meaning in Suffering: My Experience with Coming off Psychiatric Drugs (in a...

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For the last month or so, Mad in America has been hard at work building a directory of “mental health” providers across North America (and eventually, we hope, the world) who will work with people wanting to come off psychotropic drugs.  I’ve been honored to have been tasked with the responsibility of building this directory, and I have to say, it’s been inspiring to talk to people all over the country who do this work, and who “get it”.