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).

Illustration: A hand reaches out of a computer, holding a card with the MIA logo on it

What Does ChatGPT Say About MIA?

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I imagine that I am like many people when it comes to AI, which is that I don’t really know what to make of it. My first request was “write an essay about the Mad in America website.”
nonsense

On Making Non Sense

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I have lost interest in making sense. Insofar as anti-stigma entails a reassertion of my apparently forgotten humanity via the retelling of some personal narrative in which I generalize my unique experiences toward some universal wisdom, I have lost interest in the reduction of stigma. I would much prefer it if you didn’t need me to be comprehensible.
Purple abstract image

Emotional Contagion Spreads Madness—What Can We Do About It?

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In my opinion, emotional contagion is the strongest power known to humankind. Emotions move and flow among people and groups. We absorb others’ emotions.

Seven Reasons Why the US’s New Mental Health Law Is Dangerous

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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.

Spiritual Emergency Round 2: Smashing Warped Philosophies

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My goal now is to focus on solutions for emotional distress, not talking about medical harm. We all know about the problems with medical harm, but not all people are clear about solutions. I'm not that clear, either, but I'm working on it. I'm not talking about revolution any longer, just trying to make my piece of the pie work.

When Medical Muckraking Fails

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Everyone knows how muckraking is supposed to work.  An investigative reporter uncovers hidden wrongdoing; the public is outraged; and the authorities move quickly on...
alternatives to suicide

Alternatives to Suicide: Strategies for Staying Alive

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For more than 7,300 days of my life, waking up the next morning required me to make a conscious choice to diligently pursue something — anything — other than my impulse to die. Maybe the best teachers of how to avoid suicide will not be the people who are afraid someone else will die, but those of us who can explain how and why we regularly choose to live.

The Elusive Emotional Wounds of Omission That Our Culture Inflicts On Us – and...

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When we try to understand why we emotionally suffer, we can look to the ever-growing, reliable knowledge that traumatic, overt emotional wounds of commission can surely cause our emotional suffering via depression, anxiety and even extreme states.

Happy New Year From The Icarus Project!

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I want to begin by thanking Bob Whitaker for the invitation to blog on this site. I am honored to find myself amidst this...
Allen Frances

Allen Frances and the Increasing Use of Antidepressants

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Much of what Allen Frances says is sensible, but it would be more convincing if he would lay the responsibility for the present state of affairs squarely where it belongs: on psychiatry. I suggest, in all sincerity, that Dr. Frances abandon his attempt to absolve psychiatry from blame, and that he join the anti-psychiatry movement.

Mental Health First Aid: Your Friendly Neighborhood Mental Illness Maker

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I did it. I finally did it. I went and took a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) class. I had already conjured it up in my mind to be big, bad and terrible based on what I understood to be its basic premise, the affiliated website, and all I’ve ever heard about it from anyone else. However, the truth is that many of those anyones also hadn’t taken it, and so… what if it was better than we all thought? What if we were full of assumptions and were just plain wrong? What does an actual day in the life of Mental Health First Aid look like?
Illustration depicting a person with a megaphone running up an increasing red bar graph as if it was steps

Critical Psychiatry Textbook, Chapter 8: Depression and Mania (Affective Disorders) (Part Twelve)

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Peter Gøtzsche discusses that depression pills increase mortality, and that psychiatry mistakes withdrawal effects for relapse.
shame traps

Smoke and Flames: Silence In A World On Fire

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A corrupt world is built brick by brick by individual acts of shame and silence. Can we break the silence that protects misconduct even while it means being exposed ourselves? Psychiatry and the mental health system are failing, but they are also just sets of human relationships, relationships we are also part of.

The First “Working To Recovery” Camp: June, 2015

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About a year ago, my partner Ron Coleman said to me "let's have a recovery camp." I said "what’s one of those?" and he said "I'm not sure, but let's invent it." And so, from June 7th to 12th 2015, we created a community of recovery for a week. The next step is to create communities of recovery around the world — not just as temporary camps, but long-lasting oases within our communities.
3D illustration of white DNA double helix against dark blue background. The center of the helix is erupting into a computer-network-like shape

The Schizophrenia Genetics Illusion—A Century of Failure and Hype

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This is the schizophrenia game. It has been played for over a century, and it’s time to stop.

An American History of Addiction, Part 9: How I Became an “Addict”

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My current allotment of Xanax had just run out, and I remembered feeling the last dose wearing off. My heart had started racing and I had become fidgety.

Has Psychiatry Gone Uniquely Astray?

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Science is supposed to be evidence-respecting and thereby open-minded; psychiatry is presently not. But is psychiatry really unique in this respect? Is it the only field of medicine where dogmatically held theories contrary to evidence have held sway for long periods?
twins

Bad-Science Warning: The “Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart” (MISTRA)

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The huge impact of the MISTRA, in addition to the harmful and regressive social and political policy implications that flow from it, necessitates a detailed analysis of the “science” behind the study’s major claims and conclusions. Here I offer a new critique of this famous and influential “separated twin study.”
wilted flower

Language of Mental Illness “Others” People: It’s a Human Rights Violation

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When separation and microaggressions are legitimized and put into public policy and discourse, we become second class citizens and subhumans. This is oppression and bigotry systemically supported and then denied by almost everyone, including those most seriously affected. We come to believe these lies.
DNA particles and diffused glowing lines, 3d rendering

Major Depression: The “Chemical Imbalance” Pillar Is Crumbling—Is the Genetics Pillar Next?

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A more detailed critical evaluation of molecular genetic studies, which have failed to discover genes shown to cause depression.
group therapy

“Be Kind to Yourself… For Us!”

Ann: "I’ve fallen in love! With my group! And they’re in love with me!" Hugh: "The group and you have an important relationship that you’re creating together week after week. This includes breaking down the authoritarian boundaries that keep people in their “places” so that they can’t grow."

A Mental Patient’s View of the Body

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In 20 years of inpatient hospitalization, the psychiatrists that I encountered focused almost exclusively on treating my diseased mind and had no concept or interest in the body. While the wheels of “progress” turn slowly in mental health, I hope that along with ongoing advocacy there will be a focus on responsible health counseling and supporting people in healthier eating and living.
A pill bottle on its side spills white tablets out (photo)

Critical Psychiatry Textbook, Chapter 8: Depression and Mania (Affective Disorders) (Part Three)

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On the latest fad, ketamine, and how depression pills cause dependence and withdrawal.
stress

How the Human Stress Response Explains Away “Bipolar Disorder”

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Here we'll take a look at so-called 'mania.' We'll go through the criteria for a 'manic episode' symptom by symptom so you can see how the stress response is potentially operating. There's practically nothing that happens in human minds and bodies that the stress response doesn't potentially affect.

Abolishing Forced Treatment in Psychiatry is an Ethical Imperative

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Forced treatment in psychiatry cannot be defended, neither on ethical, legal or scientific grounds. It has never been shown that forced treatment does more good than harm, and it is highly likely that the opposite is true. We need to abolish our laws about this, in accordance with the United Na­tions Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which virtually all countries have ratified.