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).

Why Neuroscience Cannot Explain Madness

18
The decision by the National Institute of Mental Health to part company with the APA’s forthcoming DSM-5 should not be taken as evidence that biological psychiatry is entering a terminal decline. Far from it, as the Director of NIMH Thomas Insel’s blog of 29th April 2013 makes clear, the reason NIMH has opted for its own Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDoC) is because they believe psychiatric patients deserve something better.

How Biological Psychiatry Can Harm: A Mother’s View

12
A complex set of cultural forces that have come together in a way that amounts to prejudice against children. A range of professionals who care for children, including psychiatrists, pediatricians, occupational therapists, educators, and many others, must join together with parents to overcome this prejudice. We must recognize the value and necessity of protecting time and space to listen to these youngest voices.

The New York Times and all that…

6
It has been indeed an honor to have my story fea­tured on the front pages of the New York Times. It is rare that peo­ple with...
mental hospital deinstitutionalization

How President Trump and Dr. Drew Got It Wrong on Deinstitutionalization

37
Compounding the lack of participation of former and current patients, a major theme of the summit was that Americans diagnosed with “serious mental illness” should not be able to make their own treatment decisions.

Fact Checking the New Yorker

0
In the March 1 issue of the New Yorker, Louis Menand surveyed the topsy-turvy world of treatments for depression, writing in part of the...

Federal Mental Health Agencies: Remember Ivory!

13
Ivory McCuen needed warmth and a home the night she died. Court-ordered psychiatric drugs deliver neither warmth nor a home. Federal agencies need to consider people with lived experience.
mental health act

The Interim Report on the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act: A Response

31
The report has succeeded in being supremely ambitious in its breadth, whilst remaining disappointingly cautious in its goals. The emphasis is on smaller changes in the immediate future, and kicking more progressive reform into the long grass. It alludes to but does not enshrine a rights-based approach.

A Bridge Over Troubled Water: What’s This About Being a Hopeless Reformer?

103
My role within the Mad in America community has been to provide a perspective largely conditioned by six years as a state mental health commissioner. I believe that, realistically speaking, psychiatry isn't going away. Cultures in everything from state hospitals, to community-based inpatient programs, to crisis services, to outpatient settings don't change quickly.

Stop Saying This, Part 6: It Takes Two, Life’s Not Fair, and More

9
It’s common that both people are contributing to the issue in one way or another. However, there is at least one instance that renders “it takes two” unavailable for blanket-statement use, and that is abuse.

A Brave New World – Somatic Psychiatry in the Spotlight

57
Historically, psychiatric diagnoses were never intended to signify literal brain diseases. They used to be a shorthand and a guide to point to the psychological issues that presented. This is how it still should be today. The way diagnosis is now used is a travesty. 

The Murphy Bill: People are Afraid

94
Recently, the Murphy Bill in the United States Congress has resurfaced as a tangible threat to the civil liberties of individuals labelled "seriously mentally ill." As many others might relate, my reaction was one of rage, sadness, and utter bafflement. Yet, here we are. Having defeated the bill once, it is back like herpes. After my frustration and anger dissipated a bit, I pondered this and was hit with a "duh" moment. Politics is not about facts; politics is about power, money, and playing on the emotions of society.

It’s the Coercion, Stupid!

71
Both Michel Foucault and Thomas Szasz dated the beginnings of a distinct Western institutional response to madness to the late 1500s-early 1600s. But while for Foucault it started in France with the creation of the public “hôpital général” for the poor insane, for Szasz it began in England with the appearance of for-profit madhouses where upper class families shut away inconvenient relatives. Regardless of their different ideas on the beginnings of anything resembling a mental health system, both authors agree that it was characterized by the coercive incarceration of a specially labeled group.

A Journey Into Madness and Back Again: Part 1

4
During the past 29 years I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, Biploar II and complex PTSD. I have tried numerous drug combinations and have been through ECT several times. None of this helped me. My road to recovery started when I decided to rebel against conventional psychiatry.
discrimination

The Psychiatric Narrative & The Boston Globe: Violence, Force, & Derogatory Labels  

50
The Boston Globe recently published an atrocious opinion piece, “Massachusetts law meant to protect people with mental illness may make them sicker.” Though framed as an attempt to shed light on a need for better mental health laws, the piece insults those of us of who have been labeled with mental health diagnoses.
3D illustration of a model house in construction on a table of blueprints

Feel Hopeless About Reforming a Broken System? Incremental Change Is Still Change

33
Despite all our efforts, it seems that a radical transformation of the system has not yet occurred. However, incremental changes can directly improve the lives of thousands.
trauma blocks frontal lobes

Trauma Blocks the Frontal Lobes – “Verbal Physiotherapy” Can Unblock Them

17
Trauma makes the speech centers of the brain shut down. This is why talking about abuse is so difficult: the words are blocked. If you reclassify trauma effects as trauma-strokes, and you adapt physiotherapy to take this clinical evidence into account, then you come up with Verbal Physiotherapy.

Racism and Radical Psychiatry

146
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?

The Politics of Distress: A Discussion With Dr. James Davies on His New Book,...

28
James Davies on the medicalization and individualizing of distress and its connection to neoliberal ideology, and the need to focus on pervasive inequality and other social causes.
crossroads

2017: A Wake-up Call on Mental Health and Human Rights

27
At Mental Health Europe, we see 2017 as having been a crossroads for mental health and human rights. Let’s ensure that this yields concrete change in 2018 with the support of like-minded communities ready to take the discussion to the next level and truly enact this as a civil rights movement.
Data filter vector illustration. Flat tiny information selection persons concept. Technological artificial intelligence cloud storage content analysis management for digital file collection system.

What the RADAR Trial Tells Us About Antipsychotic Reduction and Discontinuation

53
Although the trial showed that you are more likely to relapse if you stop or significantly reduce your antipsychotic medication, it did not show that relapse is inevitable.

How to Support Healing from Psychosis Versus Imposing Social Control

48
This article is written for the loving supporter or social worker. My hope is that it will help you gain strategies for how to handle the relationship with someone experiencing psychosis.
rainbow

When Rain Comes, Words Are Unnecessary: Our Search for a Better Way

27
As stories wove together, Ron turned to the son and said, “You know, I don’t think you were ever schizophrenic at all.” There was an extended silence as this statement sunk in and the group drew closer to hear what came next. But the rain fell harder until all sound was drowned out. We sat together, feeling the rain soak into our ears, our bodies, the ground; words were unnecessary.

The Dramatic Results of John Weir Perry’s Diabasis House Program

14
John Weir Perry’s Diabasis House Program both built on and exceeded Jung’s previous understanding of psychosis.

22 Human Rights Defenders Tell Senate: Ratify Disability Rights Treaty Without Limitations

5
Psychiatric survivors know that U.S. law does not protect our rights under the CRPD and needs to be changed; it is also contrary to human rights principles for any country to assert that its own law represents the limit of its treaty obligations.
Photograph of flowers in a field

A New Liberation Movement, Focused on Relationship

8
The harm that medical-model practitioners inflicted on me had to be managed and overcome. This delayed my progress resolving my childhood traumas.