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).

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Recovery: Stressing the Social Basis of the Process

Recovery involves engaging in new material and social contexts and in open dialogues where new ways of understanding and handling the situation are created.
psychiatric abuse

“How Long a Time”: Ten Cold Hard Truths For Ending Psychiatric Abuse

Here are the Ten Cold Hard Truths we must ALL confront in our organizing efforts. If we fail to understand and grasp these truths we will ALL be susceptible to “burnout” and/or a slide into dead-end reformist type strategies that will only derail our efforts to reach the day when we can truly end all forms of psychiatric abuse.

What Is the Emergency?

Secret court proceedings against someone certainly justifies the feeling that people are out to get them. Expressing this sentiment is characterized as paranoia. If people felt they had a fair legal process they are likely to be less upset.

Evolution or Revolution? Why Western Psychiatry Won’t Change by Incremental Steps

...but how realistic is it to expect that the biological skew of Western psychiatry can be sustainably changed one small step at a time?

Supporting Resources: “The Case for 100% Voluntary”

Supporting Resources: 10th Annual Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression (1982), Declaration of Principles (1982), (Toronto, Canada) Minkowitz, T. (June 13, 2014) ‘Why Do We...

Michelle Carter: Did She Text Her Boyfriend to Death?

Today a Massachusetts judge sentenced Michelle Carter for the crime of manslaughter in the suicide death of her boyfriend. I was the only psychiatric and medication expert on either side in this trial, and I testified on behalf of Michelle. Other than perhaps her lawyers, I probably know more about the true story than anyone else.

Addressing the Mental Health Crisis:  What Really Matters

For those who actually believe that psychological problems are on the rise, serious inquiries must ensue. Many have rightly raised concerns about iatrogenic culprits, including drug-induced effects, but this too seems to fall short of accounting for the meteoric rise. Except for those forced to take psychiatric drugs, I would suggest that most seek out drugs in the hope of relieving iniquities caused by factors such as those I discuss below; unfortunately, this may not only lead to avoiding addressing the real issues, but may even lead to further complications of the drugs. Given this, I present five areas for further discussion, which I believe are causal agents for the mental health crisis.
limbic system brain

Psychotherapy is THE Biological Treatment

Psychotherapy addresses the brain in the way it actually develops, matures and operates. The process for brain change involves deactivation — disuse, not utilizing the old brain map; and then creating a new one. Psychotherapy can deactivate maladaptive brain mappings and foster new and constructive pathways.

In Defense of Psychiatric Medications, Part Two

Marcia Angell’s two-part essay in the New York Review of Books, which appeared in the June and July issues, has helped trigger a much-needed...

Defeating Goliath: Mental Health is a Social Justice Issue, and People with Lived Experience...

While I have lived just a few miles away from the Capitol for the last fifteen years, I have been unsure about getting involved in legislative advocacy. I’ve been intimidated by the complexity of the legislative process, and more inclined to leave it up to others who I perceive as having more experience than me. And honestly, I haven’t felt very hopeful about effecting change. My cynicism had turned to “learned helplessness.” And then along came a mental health bill so destructive, so regressive, that I had to step out of my uncomfortable comfort zone.

The Shameful Story that Runs and Runs: A Review of The Bitterest Pills

If the blimp that is psychiatric treatment were a passenger aircraft, the authorities would have grounded it many years ago, but still it continues to inflict harm on countless thousands of people. I read Joanna Moncrieff's latest book with a growing sense of anger and shame. The roots of drug treatment in psychiatry are thoroughly rotten. They sustain the decaying trunk of psychiatric theory and practice through misrepresentations and untruths; it is snake oil peddled by quackery.

Tearing Apart the DSM-5 in Social Work Class

I'm currently a student at the Silberman School of Social Work. This was the final paper for "Human Behavior 3." HB3 is a required class which is basically a crash course in understanding and using the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). In Human Behavior 1 and 2 they cover all kinds of ideas from psychodynamics to systems theory, and have the students practice writing biopsychosocial evaluations. I'm not sure what it looked like in the past but in recent years HB3 has become a DSM memorization class, so much so that we did most of the 5 week class online with modules that looked like the image I'm posting below. I don't know what other people's papers looked like, but here is what I turned in to my professor last week.
alice in wonderland

Doctor O’s Adventures in Wonderland

I am a female physician who survived my own suicide attempt. I had managed to fly under the radar as a very progressive family MD for twenty years. And when I stumbled and bled, the sharks were there ready to devour the carcass. Do I believe that racism and sexism influenced charges being filed against me? I certainly do.

The Today Show and ECT: The Full Story & Informed Consent

The Today Show chose to air a segment on ECT, and only interview people who were happy with their experiences — one of whom is a famous author, which gives his testimony more weight. We all know that many people are happy with their ECT experiences. That's why most of us are not asking for a ban on ECT — just for the opportunity for truly informed consent so that people can accurately weigh the potential benefits along with the serious risk of adverse effects.

Is Listening the Key to Living?

We have silenced voices that need to speak. An epidemic of pill-pushing over the past 40 years has not repaired us, brought us closer together or happier and it certainly hasn’t cured us of any mass delusions. In fact it’s given us all new delusions to contend with, ones that are easy to spot if our minds and hearts are set on progress.
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Lingering Side Effects of Quitting Antidepressants

Nobody told me what it would be like when I first stopped taking antidepressants. The worst is definitely over, but I’m still experiencing some lingering side effects. When the hyper-arousal to sights and sounds kicks in and my head starts buzzing, I’ve learned some ways to cope.

Publication Bias and Meta-Analyses: Tainting the Gold Standard with Lead

For decades the gold standard for medical evidence was the review article - an essay looking at most or (hopefully) all of the research on a particular question and trying to divine a general trend in the data toward some conclusion ("therapy X seems to be good for condition Y," for example). More recently, the format of review articles has shifted - at least where the questions addressed have leant themselves to the new style. The idea has been to look at the original data for all of the studies available, and in effect reanalyze them as though the research participants were all taking part in one gigantic study. By increasing the number of data points and averaging across the vagaries of different studies, a clearer finding might emerge. The meta-analysis has gone on to be revered as a strategy for advancing healthcare. It has vulnerabilities.

Psychiatry Disrupted

On August 15, 2014, McGill-Queens University Press published Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution.  The work is a collection of papers by various authors, edited by Bonnie Burstow, Brenda A. LeFrançois, and Shaindl Diamond.  There is a Foreword by Paula Caplan, and a Preface by Kate Millett. It is no secret that there is growing opposition to psychiatry.  No longer marginalized and ignored, as in former decades, anti-psychiatry writers are proclaiming psychiatry's spurious and destructive nature in a wide range of venues.  Even the mainstream media is taking tentative steps in our direction.

EVENT: Town Hall on Children and Psychiatric Drugs

On August 13, Mad in America and three partner organizations will present four international experts to discuss the problem of the widespread psychiatric drugging of children—and seek solutions.

ASIST Suicide Prevention Training: “Safe” for Who?

Ever since the cops and CPS were called on me by someone at an ASIST Suicide Prevention training, I've been trying to see it all as a gift. What better proof to counter those who claim it's "safe" to tell than what happened to me? What better evidence that our system responses are seriously off track? It wasn't safe. Not for me.

An Open Letter to Colin Powell

Dear Colin Powell: You shared that your wife was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having a ‘chemical imbalance.’ You said she was, as a result, put on psychotropics and found success after doing so. I’m not going to attempt to take that away from her, but whereas so many issues encompass shades of gray, the chemical imbalance theory does not. The chemical imbalance theory is not just unproven; It is debunked. But you need not take my word for it.
ECT electroshock hazard warning

Litigation Update: ECT Device Manufacturer Issues “Permanent Brain Damage” Warning

After spending the entire litigation vehemently denying that brain injury was even a possible result of ECT, Somatics, LLC has now issued a warning of "permanent brain damage" in its new risk disclosures. We think this makes the case of anyone who underwent ECT within the statute of limitations MUCH stronger.

Backing Away from Psychiatry

I believe now that fifteen years is more than a fair try. Fifteen years of getting treatment without returning to function is actually insanity. I should have given up after year two. Instead of trusting my intuition and insight, I pushed it down and down... until it finally fought its way back to the surface.

Drug Choice, Scientology, Ego Needs & Other Divides: Real Politics 101, Part Three

Abolishing First-Order Psychiatry—which includes the American Psychiatric Association and its Big Pharma partners—as a legitimate authority in determining “mental illness” as well as abolishing First-Order Psychiatry’s “treatment” and control dominion are primarily political struggles. In Part One, I discussed the Rehumanizing Resistance’s political naivety; and in Part Two, I offered strategies and tactics. In Part Three, I will focus on how the Resistance can overcome frustration and disunity and gain greater strength.
Photo depicting blocks falling over until they reach a block labeled "STOP"

Susan Inman Is at It Again

Veterans of our mental health system know that seeking voluntary care is dangerous. We will organize and find our voice. People like Ms. Inman need to get out of our way.