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).

Replacing Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists

During World War II 2.5% of the world’s population died. Imagine a German youth of 18, A Russian youth of 18, a British youth of 18, an American Jewish youth of 18, a French youth of 18, a Japanese youth of 18. Think of the parents of each of these young men. Think of their grandparents. Think of their sisters, their younger brothers — think about everyone affected by that calamity. To say that the “mental health” of all of these people was affected by the fact of a world conflagration is to make a bad joke.

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.

Involuntarily Voluntary

I was never voluntary, no matter how much I convinced myself I was. Only now, my mind, body, and spirit fully free from the mental health system, am I coming to understand this. After desperately searching for answers to that once perplexing question of “Who am I?” I have found that I’m connecting with a true, authentic sense of my Self for the first time.

The Cocktail Party

As a prescription drug and addiction expert for The O’Reilly Factor, Fox National News and many other news outlets, I am often called when a celebrity death occurs. While the loss of a talented actor or musician is tragic, I know from personal experience that the magnitude of devastation from legal drugs is happening to millions of innocent people – through psychoactive medications.
delusions delusional

I Believe There’s a Gene for Psychosis
 And We All Have It!

Without a capacity for delusional thinking, official religions likely couldn’t have thrived, and civilizations couldn’t have developed and flourished. So I conclude that the formula of two parts rationality plus one part delusionality was essential in helping man to ultimately outcompete all other species.
opioid epidemic

Companies That Fueled the Opioid Epidemic Should Fund Efforts to End It

The quickest way to restore safe use of opioid prescription is to insist that the drug companies that promoted the overuse of opioids now create a pot of money to develop powerful TV, radio, and print ads, free continuing education offerings, and drug rehabilitation research.

The Denial of Pain and Mortality: Or, the Art of Self-Prescribing and the Philosopher’s...

“Don’t look at me! Save yourself!” Andrew* was a 25 year old with an imposing build that was mollified only by his despair and terror. Andrew was losing his mind. I didn’t have to see Andrew and I somewhat wish I never did. I had received a call late at night from Andrew’s nurse. “You gotta give him something man, I mean, he’s freaking out and I feel really bad.”

Study 329: MK, HK, SK and GSK

It is appropriate to hold a company or doctors who may be aiming to make money out of vulnerable people to a high standard when it comes to efficacy, but for those interested to advance the treatment of patients with any medical condition it is not appropriate to deny the likely existence of harms on the basis of a failure to reach a significance threshold that the very process of conducting an RCT will mean cannot be met, as investigators' attention is systematically diverted elsewhere.

Destination, Dignity: Focus on a Broken Criminal Justice System

There was a lot said, shouted, chanted and sung about the rights of individuals (such as myself) who have mental health conditions at the March for Mental Health Dignity on the National Mall on August 24. The march—which was sponsored and supported by a list of advocacy organizations as long as your arm—had two basic demands: changes in policies that obstruct recovery from mental health conditions, and changes in society’s treatment of individuals who have such conditions.

Rethinking Cost Containment in Publicly Funded Psychiatric Drug Budgets

Given my experience as a state level administrator several years ago, I have continued an interest in the way which public expenditures for mental health reflect a variety of interests — usually in an attempt to limit expenditures from the state coffers. One of the areas of greatest concern to state legislators each session is the cost of participating in the Medicaid program. A significant portion of state mental health budgets, especially for community mental health programs, is in this pot of money. And psychiatric drugs are a major expense in state Medicaid program. As I will point out, however, there are major advocacy groups who want to expand, not limit access to these drugs.

How My Anger Led Me to Forgiveness

It may sound a bit clichĂ©, but one of the best definitions of forgiveness I’ve ever heard was actually stated by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah’s definition of forgiveness is, “to accept the fact that the past can’t change.”

Hearing Voices Workshop Comes to Vermont

I recently had the great pleasure of hosting a Hearing Voices workshop with Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Many people described this as one of the best trainings they had ever attended. Ron's message is inherently uplifting - after all this internationally known educator was once a mental patient given a poor prognosis. But in addition, they offered pragmatic suggestions for how to think about voices and talk to someone who is experiencing them.

“Depression Among the Elderly Must be Prioritized”

Older people are the group that gets the most antidepressants in Sweden. 17 % of those over 65 used antidepressants in 2019, and in the group over 75 the medication comprised 26 % of women and 16 % of men, according to the statistics from National Board of Medicines statistics.

Chapter Nineteen: Playing the Part

In the months following my five-year high school reunion in the summer of 2006, I drifted about in a sea of indistinguishable days. Amidst...

The Empire of Humbug: Not So Bad Pharma

At the 50th American Psychosomatic Society meeting in New York, Michael Shepherd was speaking. His topic - The Placebo. When the lecture finished, Lou Lasagna said "this paper is now open for questions." Nothing happened. Nobody said anything at all. Lasagna couldn't refrain from commenting: "There are 3 possible explanations. First, you were all asleep and therefore you heard nothing. Secondly, it was so bad that since this speaker has come 3,000 miles you didn't want to embarrass him. Third, it is genuinely so original and new that you don't quite know what to make of it. I'll leave you to decide which it was". What had Shepherd said?

MIA Continuing Education: An Update

As I've told Bob Whitaker and many others, it's taken me 45 years in my career to get to the point where I feel completely free to "do the right thing." By that I don't mean to downplay the work I've done in the public mental health and addictions systems. But now, the Mad in America Continuing Education project moves me in a more recovery-oriented direction than ever, and has a specific focus on the ways in which most programs have over-used psychiatric medications to the detriment of the people we are serving.

Fighting For Change: An Epiphany From Inside the “Movement”

I am a person labeled with “severe and persistent mental illness,” and so I have been trying to break the cycle of oppression that comes with a label like that. At the same time, I am trying to find ways to heal and to accept things about myself that are different from others, while also seeking to raise up my brothers and sisters in this desolate and dark place. This morning, I had an epiphany upon awakening. While it's hard to put into words, it feel's vital, and I want to try and get it down.

Letters from the Front Lines

Dear Bob-- Here's a story of stark contrasts. I saw a man for a physical recently, mid-50's.  He was the picture of health, on no medications...

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.