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).

psychiatric medications who decides

Psychiatric Medications: Who Decides?

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One “side effect” of meds is that they can reinforce people’s passivity towards their emotions, obscuring an understanding of themselves as having agency, as being the active creators of their lives — including their emotional lives. This has to be on the table in talking with clients about whether they want medications to be part of their development picture.

Summing Up the NIMH Trials: Evidence of an Effective Paradigm of Care?

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In the past 15 years, the NIMH has funded a number of major, multicenter trials of drug treatments for mental disorders in adults and...
middle-grounders

Why “Middle-Grounders” May Be as Dangerous as APA Presidents

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When above-the-fray/middle-roaders jump on bandwagons and criticize only those aspects of psychiatry that have become fashionable to criticize but don’t challenge the legitimacy of psychiatry as an authority, they hurt more than they help. They provide the false impression that psychiatry is self-correcting and progressing.

Some Thoughts on the Origins of Mental Illnesses

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One of the things debated and discussed in blogs such as this, and in a lot of other places, is the nature of “mental...

Elimination of Bias, Not Disclosure of Bias, Must be the Standard

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Disclosure is an insufficient strategy for mitigating bias because bias does not result from the concealment of financial ties but from their effects. Even worse, social psychologists have demonstrated that when individuals disclose a competing interest, they give even more biased advice.

Bipolar Everywhere

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A recent dramatic rise in diagnoses of Bipolar has been documented (Moreno, Laje et al., 2007). Bipolar used to be a relatively rare event. When working at the state hospital during the 1970s, over a 7 year period, I recall only 4 or 5 patients with a bipolar diagnosis.

Autism, Antidepressants, and Pregnancy: The Basics

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This month, the seventh study and eighth study came out on the topic of antidepressant exposure during pregnancy and autism.  And these studies showed, as essentially all of the others have, that antidepressant use during pregnancy (principally with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) is associated with autism in the exposed children. With so many children being diagnosed with autism and so many women taking antidepressants during pregnancy, everyone wants to know: are these things (the antidepressants) associated with autism or not?  Quite frankly no one has the time to read through all eight scientific papers (and dozens more animal and basic science studies) to understand this important area, so I will do my best to briefly summarize it here.
A teenage girl writing

A Developmental Response to Trauma and Trauma Language

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Understanding life events (and/or our responses to them) as trauma has transformed how we suffer and how we relate to pain.

Causing a Stir: Launching “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia” in New York City

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Those of you who read the New York Times may have seen its coverage of the British Psychological Society’s recent report, ‘Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help.’ The report has been widely welcomed and many have seen it as a marker of how our understanding of these experiences is changing. The report has not been without its critics. We (Editor Anne Cooke and co-author Peter Kinderman) are coming to New York this month to launch the report in America.

Healing Voices Film

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Many of you may be aware that I am co-producing a film with PJ Moynihan entitled "Healing Voices." You may not be aware of all that has led up to this and why I think this type of film is so important for our movement, which is the purpose of this post. When I first encountered the mental health system 13 years ago after attempting to fly my car, I was shocked to see how people were treated. I basically felt I was thrown out of the human race. I had just been through an amazing, spiritual experience, an emergence really, yet nobody wanted to talk about what led up that moment.

“They Need to be Held Accountable”

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Psychiatrists at the University of Minnesota forced a young man into a profitable study of antipsychotic drugs over the objections of his mother, who desperately warned that his condition was deteriorating and that he was in danger of killing himself. On May 8, 2004, Mary Weiss' only son, Dan Markingson, committed suicide. A petition to the governor of Minnesota now asks for an investigation.
Unhappy Woman In Converstion With Friend Or Counsellor

“Get Over It”? A Response to Empower Parents to Repair Instead of Victim Blame

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An epidemic of children blaming their parents in therapy? In my 20 years as a psychologist, I've seen the opposite.

Nutrition Above the Neck: Why is This Topic Met With Hostility?

Why do people readily accept the data showing that nutrients are good for our hearts, and for prevention and (now perhaps) treatment of cancer . . . but they find it so hard to accept the use of nutrients to make us feel better mentally?
psychiatry roulette

The Matrix: Disentangling Anti-Psychiatry

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For the last forty years, psychiatry has been comprehensively critiqued from a myriad of disciplines including sociology, psychology, and the user movement. Is there anything that can be salvaged from the psychiatry project? How would a psychiatrist practice ethically in such a nefarious environment?

Always a Mystery: Why do Drugs Come and Go?

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I’ve been teaching a course on substance abuse for about 30 years now. In this course, I cover a new drug class each week and always review the history of the drug. All of the drugs of abuse, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, opiates are not new on the human scene. They date back to the Sumerians and the Greeks. The question for me is what accounts for epidemics? I have come to believe that epidemics are supplier driven rather than a function of consumer demand. For the current opiate epidemic, the suppliers were the pharmaceutical houses.

Site Updates and Posting Policy

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Shortly after Mad In America launched at the beginning of the year I was invited to take over the site’s web development and to...

The History of Madness Network News and the Early Anti-Psychiatry Movement

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Madness Network News, founded in 1972 by two women inmates of Agnews State Hospital, was an anti-psychiatry journal that served as the focal point for organizing throughout North America, and even overseas.

Immigration Detention: The Mental Health Impacts

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Solitary confinement is not a substitute for medical isolation and its conditions are not conducive to care or recovery, but rather a tool to manage and silence those struggling with trauma exacerbated by conditions they are trapped in indefinitely.

Mickey Nardo: Tangled up in Life

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Mickey Nardo died yesterday. Here is a brief account of his career, chiseled out of him for the Restoring Study 329 site. What strikes me most is his interest in the tangles people end up in. This certainly is a theme that ran through his blog.

“Invisible” Resistance: Taking Charge in the Face of Difficulty and Institutional Rule

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The context in which this article is penned is rule by institutions which are functions of the state, in particular those deemed services; the ways in which these interconnect to create a veritable trap; contrary to current hegemony, the ease with which they can substantially harm those that they “serve.” Pivotal in this article is the “mental health system” and the psychiatric dangers that it presents. At the centre of the discussion are two stories, each involving individuals competently attending to their own needs and/or the needs of their loved ones precisely by keeping one or more of these institutions at bay.

Symptom or Experience: Does Language Matter?

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Of all the beliefs that I have had about my experiences, the belief that I was ‘schizophrenic’ was the most damaging. In adopting the story that others told about me, and abandoning my own sense-making process, I held on to a belief that both hid my traumatic life experiences and rendered them irrelevant. Does it matter if we sometimes slip into the language of illness when we all agree that these experiences are meaningful, personal and have value? Yes. It does.

Allen Frances and the Spurious Medicalization of Everyday Problems

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On April 5, Allen Frances MD, published an article on the Huffington Post blog.  The title is Can We Replace Misleading Terms Like 'Mental Illness,' 'Patient,' and 'Schizophrenia'.  It's an interesting piece, and it raises some fundamental issues. Dr. Frances' position in this and other recent papers appears to be that in general, psychiatric "diagnoses" and "treatment" are OK, but that they are being overused by unscrupulous practitioners with the encouragement of pharma, and perhaps other monied interests. But the central issue is the spurious medicalization of non-medical problems in the first place.
Dr. Gordon Warme, an older man, on a black background, with blue painted scribbles lighting up his legs

Dr. Gordon Warme: The Curious Case of an Unconventional Psychiatrist

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Dr. Warme bucked convention, examining the cultural role that shamans, witch doctors, and placebo cures played in medicine.

May is Power Threat Meaning Month

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In contrast to the medical ("mental illness") model, the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTM) is a non-pathologizing, unifying model of human bio-psycho-social functioning. It applies to all human beings — not just those of us with mental health labels. There is finally a provider-proposed paradigm that is worth the effort of making the public aware.

Miscarried Life

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This is not just about pregnancy loss and motherhood. This is reflective of how we treat many people who have experienced pain and are expressing it in ways not immediately relatable to those around them. It is about how we as a society may contribute to some of the truly awful things that happen not by failing to properly screen and assess, but by quite successfully fostering fear and alienation.