What we are being required to do and what many are rightly electing to do for their own health—that is, social distance, isolate and quarantine—are exacerbating the felt sense of loneliness that was an epidemic long before the present crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has made it obvious that the precious-sounding axiom “we need each other” is quite literal.
Compassionate Activism encourages people to “take a second look,” as Deron and Linda advised me to do. It is not the easiest thing to do, as we have learned the language and lived the life that profits some while others suffer. Knowing what has happened before can help light a pathway to where we want to be, so sharing the history of mental health is a big part of CA.
For more than four decades, I have worked as a psychiatric-survivor human rights activist. Then, at the end of 2012, I broke my neck. As readers of my blog posts, such as those on Mad in America, know, I have devoted the past few years to rehab and activism. But it has been a while since my last personal blog. Let me sum up my Mad Pride journey today, because a lot is changing.
For psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other therapists to claim that they are essential for warning people that Trump is dangerous is to claim special expertise and insight to which they are not entitled, and it simultaneously demeans the judgment of nonprofessionals and helps strengthen the power of their guilds.
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."
In his book 12 Rules for Life, supposedly based on "cutting-edge research," Jordan Peterson attempts to justify the hitting of children as a form of discipline. But Peterson does so without citing a single study to support his view. In fact, this entire section of the book is bereft of any reference to any research supporting the effectiveness of corporal punishment.
The question that is presently unanswerable is whether this crisis will stimulate progress or regression. I choose to believe that it is an opportunity but that we must fight to make it happen. My dream: To build compassionate communities where people who look, act, or think differently are supported in ways for them to develop their innate potential.
We will continue exploring the challenges and learnings of dialogues in times of crisis on the first and third Fridays of the month, at 12:00 pm EST (5:00 BST). This Friday, May 1, Jimmy Ciliberto, Charmaine Harris, Jasmin Ishaq, Ramune Mazaliauskiene, and Alita and Fletcher Taylor will discuss what they are learning in their respective systems.
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.
Mental health resilience is a function of a well-nourished brain. Even in our developed, western society, our brains are only marginally nourished, contributing to the epidemic of mental illness visible even before COVID-19 arrived on the scene.
TMS not only has not improved my mental health, but also has robbed me of some of the most important things in life. There has been little to no research on or awareness around the negative side effects that TMS can inflict. This must change.
This “advice” to “remain positive” is spreading faster than COVID-19 and even faster than fear. The only people that benefit from that are the people already benefiting from predatory systems of capitalism and psychiatry that were in place long before COVID-19.
A review of the "Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents" books by Lindsay Gibson. Even though adults experience emotional loneliness, such loneliness can also start in childhood when we might have felt (and I would submit, actually were) unseen emotionally by self-preoccupied parents.
Now is not the time for family members to be nursing old hurts or believe the all-too-common delusion we all periodically fall prey to—you can get, without giving, when it comes to goodwill. Gestures of decency, gratitude and appreciation will need to prevail.
Mad in America is proud to introduce a new venture: a web series of virtual “Town Hall” conversations, “Exploring Dialogical Responses in a Time of Crisis,” on Fridays at noon, eastern standard time. The first live town hall will be held on Friday, April 17.
Just like jails, psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers in Washington, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Louisiana have seen major outbreaks of the virus, revealing, in similar fashion, the health dangers inherent to forcing large groups of strangers to live in small, confined, and often filthy spaces.
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.
How do Western-trained Muslim therapists work with clients that believe they are possessed? How do they balance their belief in Jinn with their knowledge of psychological/sociological theory? How do they formulate and work with a client in the British context?
Most, if not all, mental health providers, will face dealing with major ethical issues. In their quest to reach as many consumers as possible, to streamline the process, to be as efficient as possible during this pandemic, was the therapeutic process truly helpful? Were key components of what “should” happen between both parties still prioritized?
The words psychiatrist and psychiatry, along with their counterparts in other languages, have come to mean something that is not reflected in their Greek origins. Would you allow a psychiatrist to treat an illness of the soul (in Greek, ψυχή [psychí]) if he or she couldn’t explain what part of the human person psychiatrists treat?
We need a new narrative of shared distress to replace the failed one of individual disorders. We need human connection and mutual support. We can learn to manage our feelings in a way that helps us through the crisis and gives us the energy to make much-needed social and environmental changes afterwards. The usual dividing lines melt away in the face of global emergency. We really are all in this together.
The psychiatric hospital of today is a panopticon, a modern prison for the daring mind and for weird behavior. I was once inside and thus, am inviting you to have a look. I will take your hand, and encourage you to join me, on an exploration of the inside of the psychiatric institution. We'll have a small peek, but in reality, it is much more distressing for the one who is being observed.
We need to stop believing that suffering people are genetically inferior or “diseased.” You, as sufferer, are not alone in having social determinants of health. They are universal. They are systemic. And they are not solvable or “addressable” at the individual level. The only way to alleviate negative social determinants of health is to create a more equitable, inclusive, and just society.
The debate between the majority and dissent shows how distorted and destructive the stereotypes of madness are as they have passed down through the law. But there are also winds of change coming from tensions inherent in the insanity defense itself, and we should take this opportunity to develop some sensible policies.
Part Two: Jessica Lowell Mason describes founding a mad community, Madwomen in the Attic, the challenges faced during its first year, the importance of community, and projects and hope for the future. "This two-part piece outlines our struggle to build a mad community across locations, across differences, across challenges, across borders and barriers, across countries."