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).

Rio de Janeiro Aerial Skyline - Brazil

Fernando de Freitas: A “Dear Friend” Who Was a Warrior for Radical Change

Fernando de Freitas, co-founder of Mad in Brasil, passed away January 30. He had devoted his professional life to seeking to transform psychiatric care in Brazil and beyond.

Antipsychiatry Revisited: Toward Greater Clarity

Over the last decade, people have commonly made statements to me of the ilk — “What bugs me about antipsychiatry people is they only care about tearing down; there is no commitment to actually helping people” — Which suggests that there is a serious dearth of awareness about antipsychiatry.

Allen Frances: Still Spinning the Story

Allen Frances' latest article: There are problems in the psychiatric field, but none of these problems can be blamed on psychiatry. But the spurious promotion of psychiatric "diagnoses" as real illnesses, and the routine prescribing of chemical and electrical "cures" were and are psychiatric inventions.

The Culture of Fear and the Lost Art of Organizing for Social Change

Fear. Omnipresent. Difficult to ward off or ignore. Just to advise readers, this long, somewhat involved article has been written for purely didactic purposes. Frankly, I’d like more folks to learn how to challenge their fears, how to organize and do systems change work. I trust readers will find it useful and that I managed to at least approximate what I intended.

The Right to Profit vs. The Right to Know

For years, drug companies have sought to boost sales by hyping the benefits of new drugs while downplaying their risks. A couple of years ago the European Medicines Agency (equivalent of the FDA) set up a program to grant public access to all clinical trial results used in the approval of new drugs. The program was hailed by activists and researchers around the world as a big step forward for patient safety. Now AbbVie, along with another U.S. drug firm called Intermune, has filed a lawsuit to stop the release of clinical trials on their drugs, effectively shutting the whole program down.

Too Much Pies

On March 18th, Ronald Pies, a psychiatrist based in Lexington, Massachusetts, wrote a letter to the New York Times. He argued in favor of the usefulness and harmlessness (when well used) of psychiatric diagnosis and wondered as to the misgivings so many seem to have. The Times invited its readership to participate in a dialogue by submitting responses to Pies’s piece. Laura Delano, Paula Caplan and I were among the relative few who managed to get our voices heard. Pies had the last word, though: He gave just two short sentences to my dispatchment, and summarily disregarded so many years of pain and loss and abuse of power.

They Call This “Help”

“Won’t they know I’m lying?” I asked. “Won’t they know I’m an impostor?” “No,” he said, “not at all. You can tell them you’re suffering from delusions and they’ll believe it almost without question. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any history of psychiatric illness or hospitalization, just make up some nonsense about hearing voices and they’ll swallow the whole thing hook, line and sinker.”
anti-psychiatry pointing out glass house of psychiatry

In Defense of Anti-Psychiatry

Last year, Ronald Pies, MD and Mark Ruffalo, LCSW published an article titled "The Reality of Mental Illness." In it they claim that "most of what is asserted by antipsychiatry is easily refuted by the scientific evidence." Why then do they not refute it? The reality is that they malign us because they have no rational response to our criticisms.

We Need Your Help!

Mad in America, which was founded as a webzine in 2011, is now operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. This provides us with both a new challenge, and this is the exciting part, a chance to dream big. The challenge is to raise the money to pursue our bigger visions for the future.

Remembering the 2003 Fast For Freedom: Time for Another?

On August 16, 2003, six individuals who had travelled from all over the country – Brooklyn; Wilmington, Delaware; Chicago; Portland – to Pasadena, California,...
Illustration including the words "MYTHS" and "FACTS"

Cochrane’s Demise: Misleading Denigration of Benzodiazepines for Acute Psychosis

On a misleading Cochrane review of benzodiazepines for acute psychosis, and how Cochrane responded to criticism.
Close-up photo of hands writing in a journal or notebook

6 Good Things That Happened When I Stopped Believing in ‘Mental Health’

The pursuit of mental health had made me mad. After 12 years, I quit Prozac and found a new psychoanalytic therapist. Life changed, almost overnight.

The Speech

I’ve given the “the speech” hundreds of times to skeptical young people, to frightened families and to many homeless men and women. I’ve assured them all that “mental illness is like diabetes and your medications are like insulin.” I delivered this speech with all good intentions and unquestioned certainty of its veracity and helpfulness. I really bought the whole chemical imbalance narrative — hook, line and Seroquel.

ECT Day of Protest: Time for You to Take Leadership

Work on the May 16 International Day of Protest Against Shock Treatment is moving right along. This spontaneously-organized, grassroots effort now includes 21 cities in 16 states, plus two each in Canada and the United Kingdom. There will also be demonstrations in Ireland, New Zealand, and Uruguay. We CAN win, and you CAN be a leader.

Sounds of Silence from Inside the Jail

I think about a healthy early infancy, about reaching out and being gently held and about the attachment bond that nourishes the mind, body and spirit as I watch the inmate sitting at the table in SuperMax, where the inmates are in isolation due to their high profile status or history of repeated violence inside the jail. I will not touch him and he will not reach out to me. He is a 3rd strike inmate, sentenced to 25 years to life, housed in SuperMax jail while he awaits his last appeal.

Eyewitness to Psychiatry Functioning as a Conspiracy Theory-Based Cult

The psychiatric cult uses its conspiracy theory of the cause of human suffering to let society off the hook while it enforces society’s oppression.

We Are All Adam Lanza’s Mother (& other things we’re not talking about)

I do not understand how we can continue to avoid the conversation about psychiatric medications and their role in the violence that is affecting far too many of our children, whether Seung-Hui Cho, Eric Harris, Kip Kinkel, or Jeff Weise (all of whom were either taking or withdrawing from psychotropic medications) or the scores of children and adults they have killed and harmed. It is not clear what role medications played in the Newtown tragedy, though news reports are now suggesting there is one.

Madness Radio: Eleanor Longden on Voices and Trauma

Hearing distressing voices is highly correlated with traumatic experiences, and many people report that their first experience with distressing voices occurs after a trauma....

Intensive Home Treatment for Acute Mental Disorders: An Alternative to Hospitalization

Unlike hospital treatment, IHT is attentive to family issues and helping negotiate re-entry into work or school. It is also consistent with the recovery principle of least intrusive interventions.

Is Emotional Distress Criminal?

On October 1st the Connecticut State Legislature’s reactionary response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school went into effect. Public Act No. 13-3 requires all people that voluntarily admit to a hospital for mental health reasons (not solely for drug or alcohol treatment) have their names placed in a database administered by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services - for the purpose of automatic suspension of Second Amendment rights.

The Hidden Epidemic Exposed: The New Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) Resource Center

The Tardive Dyskinesia Resource Center offers a simple yet thorough introduction to the drug-induced disorder, a list of offending medications, and illustrative videos. It is is one more step in the direction of educating the public, as well as the professions.

Becoming a Hearing Voices Facilitator

For three days in December, I was fortunate enough to attend the Hearing Voices Facilitator Training held in Portland, OR. This training expanded my understanding of the voice hearing experience and equipped me with a number of tools to use in facilitating hearing voices support groups. Grounded in a feeling of community, the training was dynamic, emotionally therapeutic, and educational all at the same time – a crystal clear example of how support groups themselves might manifest in the lives of their members.

“Heartbeats of Hope: The Empowerment Way to Recover” – A Book Review

We seldom have a chance to hear from someone who combines the perspective of a longtime psychiatric survivor and activist with that of being a psychiatrist. I disagreed with only one significant point — that a person does not have to be off all medications to show “complete recovery” from “mental illness.”

A Journey Into Madness and Back Again: Part 1

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.

Do We Need More Hospital Beds?

In an article published by the Treatment Advocacy Center, The Shortage of Public Hospital Beds for Mentally Ill Persons, the authors (D. J. Jaffe and E. Fuller Torrey) present the idea that we have far too few hospital beds in this country, and because of that there has been a dramatic shift towards the diversion of people labeled with mental illness into prisons and homelessness. Their answer to this issue is that we should radically increase the amount of hospital beds and we should also dramatically increase our reliance on outpatient treatment in the form of mandated involuntary medication programs. As many people know here, the TAC has been highly influential politically and the authors of this paper have been instrumental in getting laws passed that mandate the outpatient use of psychiatric drugs for people who have been civilly committed.