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).

Hearing Voices, Emancipation, Shamanism and CBT: Thoughts After Douglas Turkington’s Training

When Doug Turkington, a UK psychiatrist, first announced to his colleagues that he wanted to help people with psychotic experiences by talking to them, he was told by some that this would just make them worse, and by others that this would be a risk to his own mental health, and would probably cause him to become psychotic! Fortunately, he didn’t believe either group, and in the following decades he went on to be a leading researcher and educator about talking to people within the method called CBT for psychosis.
child abuse

Child Abuse, Mental Health and Mental Illness

Psychiatrists and medical doctors don’t ask who was hitting who and how often in your family. These questions would largely put them out of business and invalidate their industries. These questions would make a mockery of their many years of schooling and many prescription pad options. But these questions would also heal.

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For

Those of us with lived experience, here in the US and now around the world have discovered that most mental health professionals have little understanding of what extreme mental states are like. They think those states are a sign of illness. They think that hearing voices and having vivid dreams are symptoms of those illnesses. We who have been through our own recovery know that we are all basically healthy people who have experienced a variety of traumas.
businessman with tape on mouth

Our Movement Has a Cover-up Problem Too

Our movement, by not effectively addressing misconduct and corruption, is creating the same toxic dynamics we see so often in families, in schools, in a society that silences people and drives them into distress and madness.

Time to Abolish Psychiatric Diagnosis?

‘Diagnosing’ someone with a devastating label such as ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘personality disorder’ is one of the most damaging things one human being can do to another. Re-defining someone’s reality for them is the most insidious and the most devastating form of power we can use. It may be done with the best of intentions, but it is wrong - scientifically, professionally, and ethically. The DSM debate presents us with a unique opportunity to put some of this right, by working with service users towards a more helpful understanding of how and why they come to experience extreme forms of emotional distress.

Trying Too Hard to Be Sane, or Trying Too Hard to Recover, Can Lead...

A recent article, "Screw Positive Thinking! Why Our Quest for Happiness Is Making Us Miserable" provides humorous perspective on the ways seeking too hard after happiness can make us unhappy - and, it seems, stupid as well! I'm going to argue that the same paradox also applies to other aspects of mental health, and that some of the major problems in current mental health treatment result from failing to take this into account.

A Pharmaceutical Company That Agrees With Irving Kirsch? Wellbutrin Advertised as 10% More Effective...

Irving Kirsch (the psychologist who has argued that antidepressants offer a marginal advantage over placebos) has agreement from an unlikely source- advertisements from a pharmaceutical company, which agree completely...

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS): How the Last Step to Recovery Became the Final Step...

How persistent, unbearable suffering, due to prolonged withdrawal from antipsychotics prescribed as a sleeping medication, led to euthanasia.
A sepia-tone photograph of a lonely teddy bear small against a window.

Medical Journals Refuse to Retract Fraudulent Trial Reports That Omitted Suicidal Events in Children

The published articles underreported suicide-related events and provided false claims that the drugs were effective.

A Schizophrenia Mystery Solved?

One of the enduring mysteries in schizophrenia research circles has been the disparity in outcomes between schizophrenia patients in "developing countries" and those in...

See What You Want to See

(August, 1985) My first academic article, entitled, “Dissociation and Psychotic Symptoms” is published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. It was a case report of a young girl who experienced visions and voices. We thought that she had dissociative symptoms and we had taught her how to control these experiences through self hypnosis. In the same month, an article was published in another academic journal. This was entitled, “Treatment of Bulimia and Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder with Sodium Valproate: A case Report .” We were describing the same young girl. Our treatments were concurrent. How could this be?

Coming Off Medications Guide – Second Edition – Free Download

The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, written by Will Hall and published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center five years...

Advice to the Newbies: Give Your Heart, & Hold Your Theories Lightly

I was recently asked to give the commencement address for Goddard College's masters program in psychology and counseling. This is what I said.

Introducing “Ten Tips for Parents”

As I settle into my role as the editor for parent resources here at Mad in America, I’m reaching out to folks who have something to contribute to the conversation and asking them if they would be willing to condense what they know into a Ten Tips format for easy digestion and comprehension. The first four are now available.

Guidelines for a Thoughtful Discussion

Back in December,  when I decided to turn into a webzine, I envisioned it as serving several purposes. I wanted to create a...

A Reply to Peter Kramer: Do Serotonin Imbalances Cause Depression?

A recent article on the website i09 titled, ‘The Most popular Antidepressants are Based on an Outdated Theory” has again raised the issue of Chemical Imbalances.  It is interesting that the author of the  i09 piece cites Dr. Peter Kramer and states, “Some psychiatrists vehemently disagree with the way journalists and other psychiatrists have pushed back against the chemical imbalance theory….” In both cases he cited what he considered the best evidence in support of the theory, but he did not discuss the research in any depth. Back in 2008, we took an in-depth look at the evidence that Dr. Kramer used to support the chemical imbalance theory. When one takes a closer look at that research we do not think it supports the theory. For this reason, we are reposting our 2008 essay about this.

Spiritual Side Effects of Psychiatric Medication: From Helpful to Harmful

The larger narratives put forth by psychiatry and neuroscience often eclipse the equally important stories of lived experience. The easiest way to understand how people are engaging spiritually with their prescriptions is to hear it in their own words.

Mad in America’s 10 Most Popular Articles in 2022

A roundup of Mad in America's most read blogs and personal stories of 2022 as chosen by our readers.
3D illustration of an upside-down maze with business-people falling out of it into a white void

Critical Psychiatry Textbook, Chapter 16: Is There Any Future for Psychiatry? (Part Four)

On the failures of the publicly funded long-term studies and psychiatry’s fraudulent reporting of these results.

7 Tips to Help a Distracted Child

Simple changes such as keeping a calm home environment, limiting media distractions and enrolling your child in sports will help a child who is inattentive or having problems focusing on his or her school work. They are also useful for any child and can even prevent inattentiveness in an ever-more-distracting world.

Who’s Delusional? And How Do We Support Them?

In mainstream society, when attempting to assess whether or not someone is “mad” or “mentally ill,” a lot of effort is put into trying to determine whether or not someone is “delusional” (i.e, is harboring beliefs that do not conform to those generally held within mainstream society), and if deemed so, trying to coerce that person to conform. I believe this approach, however, is not only seriously misguided but potentially extremely harmful—not just to the individual but also to our society, our species and our planet.

Are You Abled or Disabled? How Do You Know?

People who are considered the highest functioning in American culture such as politicians, lawyers, medical doctors (including psychiatrists), major league sport players, etc., all lack certain abilities that I possess (and, of course, vice-versa). Are their abilities actually the real ones and mine “soft,” surreal, abstract, inaccessible and useless? In order to redefine health, we must redefine worth. Are you sure the “abled” are able to accomplish what you value? Are you sure the “disabled” aren't more able to heal the world?

My Daughter and Prozac

While our daughter was growing up, my ex-wife treated our daughter’s body like a temple. She was the only kid among her friends not allowed to drink soda or cow’s milk as they might negatively affect her health. But Prozac for mild anxiety? Sure, no problem. I was honestly and genuinely shocked.

The Boy in the Closet — How I Lost my Best Friend to a...

Lables such as schizophrenia mask all of the strengths, feelings and talents that individuals possess, The labels can make people's behavior appear aggressive, when in fact they are terrified. On the other hand, people in extreme states respond as all humans do to an approach that is calm, supportive, and allows them the space that they need at critical times. Individuals who have been abused, neglected, or suffered from traumatic experiences communicate these fears to those who have the patience and willingness to listen to them.
online education

Inside an Online Charter School: Labeling Kids “Disabled” for Profit

I’d thought this teaching job would be my chance to make positive changes in children’s lives. But most of the recommendations in students' IEPs were related not to reading, writing, and ’rithmetic but to behavior control and obedience to adults. And the school seemed to be working very hard to prove that the kids were disabled and to get them certified as such.