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).

Three Suicides: Honoring Lives Lost to Benzodiazepines

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I am still trying to reconcile what these chemicals are capable of, how the urge can morph into an action, how we maybe just don’t understand suicide all that well. For me, the suffering was so intense it was too painful to stay alive. I understand how my friends felt in their last moments.
Painting of Dostoevsky by Vasily Perov

Dostoevsky: A Psychologist We Can All Learn From

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Psychology has greatly broadened its scope since Nietzsche’s day and yet his implied criticism is one the discipline is still wrestling with.

There’s No Duct Tape for Benzo Withdrawal

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It’s stunning what a quarter milligram of a benzodiazepine can do to the body. I’ve been detoxing off a high dose of benzodiazepines since September of 2011. The first few months were a failure. But this past May, I found my expert and thought I had the formula. Things were going well for detoxing off a substance many deem more addictive that heroin. That is, I realized, until they weren’t.

Psychiatry’s Medical Model: How It Traumatizes, Retraumatizes & Perverts Healing

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The beginning of healing from trauma requires stripping power away from disconnecting violators like psychiatry's medical model.
trauma-informed doctor

Trauma Outside the Box: How the ‘Trauma-Informed’ Trend Falls Short

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Becoming "trauma-informed" is often just a way to advance one's career and feel good about oneself while pretty much doing nothing different. Here's a glimpse into the ways in which mainstream services and trauma specialists are perpetuating harm while patting themselves on the back for being progressive and aware.

The Gauntlet of Protracted Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

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My doctor insisted that my symptoms could not be associated with withdrawal – they had to be symptoms of an underlying condition. I have since learned from legitimate sources that protracted withdrawal syndrome from benzodiazepines can intensify long before it abates, with some symptoms lasting for years.
police killings

End Police “Wellness Checks.” Now.

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If you are a mental health worker or advocate, there's a way to help dismantle police brutality and systemic racism in the U.S.
OCD worry monster

Helping Children to Overcome OCD: 6 Creative Strategies for Parents

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Here, Dr. Ben Furman offers a creative approach to helping children who struggle with OCD. Explaining why behaviors like reasoning, reassuring, and superstitious rituals don’t work, he suggests engaging alternatives that teach kids how to manage their “worry monster” and make sense of their distressing experience.

More on Benzos and Cognitive Damage

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There is mounting evidence that benzodiazepines are causing Alzheimer's Disease. I cannot imagine any genuine medical specialty ignoring or downplaying information of this sort. But psychiatry, with the perennial defensiveness of those with something to hide, promotes the idea that they are safe when used for short periods, knowing full well that a huge percentage of users become "hooked" after a week or two, and stay on the drugs indefinitely.
man contemplates suicide

Rising Rates of Suicide: When Do We Acknowledge That Something Isn’t Working?!

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Scapegoating a purported unseen "illness" may provide temporary comfort from acknowledging the horrors and injustice of the world, but it is a delusion — and one with fatal consequences for many. When 45,000 people a year would rather die than live in this world any longer, it might behoove us all to consider what is happening in the world to cause this.

Not Just a Dream: Finding the Mental Health Community I’d Been Longing For

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I dreamed of a place where healers weren’t afraid of intense states like madness. They embraced it; maybe they’d been through it themselves.

How Reliable is the DSM-5?

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More than a year on from the release of DSM-5, a Medscape survey found that just under half of clinicians had switched to using the new manual. Most non-users cited practical reasons, typically explaining that the health care system where they work has not yet changed over to the DSM-5. Many, however, said that they had concerns about the reliability of the DSM, which at least partially accounted for their non-use. Throughout the controversies that surrounded the development and launch of the DSM-5 reliability has been a contested issue: the APA has insisted that the DSM-5 is very reliable, others have expressed doubts. Here I reconsider the issues: What is reliability? Does it matter? What did the DSM-5 field trials show?

Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped

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In a recent commentary, University of Toronto historian Edward Shorter laments the efforts of people like myself in states like Texas who have successfully put limits on shocking children in order to induce grand mal convulsions. His argument is that we who have fought against this are denying children a benevolent medical treatment. In order to understand why Shorter’s plea to use electroshock on children is so egregious, we need to know what it does to children’s brains, which means a look at the science.
blind to danger

The Three Most Important Facts About Psychiatric Drugs

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Psychologist and educator Michael Corrigan was a guest on my radio show and brought up some questions about how to communicate with people about psychiatric drugs. Specifically, he asked, “What are the three most important things for anyone to know about psychiatric drugs?” Here is my answer.

Back to Basics: What’s Wrong with NAMI

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It seems one mostly needs to already know what they’re looking for in order to find the most established criticisms of this particular organization. And even with knowledge and intent, it can require some fairly persistent Googling efforts to unearth all there is to be found.
quitting antidepressants

Lingering Side Effects of Quitting Antidepressants

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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.

Stopping the Madness: Coming Off Psychiatric Medications

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Millions of patients find themselves caught in the web of psychiatric sorcery - a spell cast, hexed, potentially for life. They are told that they have chemical imbalances. They are told that the most important thing they can do for themselves is to "take their medication," and that they will have to do so "for life." Most egregiously, patients are sold the belief that medication is treating their disease rather than inducing a drug effect no different than alcohol or cocaine. That antidepressants and antipsychotics, for example, have effects like sedation or blunting of affect, is not a question. That these effects are reversible after long-term exposure is.

What’s the Harm in Taking an Antidepressant?

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We know that all drugs have side effects. That’s just part of the deal right? But is it really possible that an antidepressant can cause a sane person to act like a cold-blooded criminal?
hear nothing

Dear Mental Health Professionals: Please Stop Defending Yourselves and Listen

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Most people who enter the mental health field do so with good intentions. But when it comes to opening up to ideas or information that challenge your worldview or how you conduct your business, on the whole, you’re doing a pretty poor job.
avalanche

My Diagnosis of ADHD and the Downfall That Followed

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A simple, one-time visit to an unfamiliar counselor resulted in my diagnosis of ADHD. That same visit started my avalanche of drug abuse. I was 19 years old when I was falsely diagnosed with ADHD, and it forever changed my life.

Carrie Fisher, Dead at Age 60

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First they sell you the "illness" that they've invented. Then they sell you the drugs to "treat" the "illness." Then they sell you more drugs to counteract the adverse effects. Then they sell you electric shocks to the brain. Then you die prematurely. Then they wring their hands in mock anguish, and say what a terrible illness this is, and that without their "safe and effective treatments", you would have died a lot sooner.
Vector style illustration of a woman hugging her knees with cloudlike scribbles on a blue-gray background

Splitting Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder

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Recognition of C-PTSD might be a double-edged sword, further marginalizing the very individuals it aimed to assist.

The Case Against Antipsychotics

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This review of the scientific literature, stretching across six decades, makes the case that antipsychotics, over the long-term, do more harm than good. The drugs lower recovery rates and worsen functional outcomes over longer periods of time.

Spiritual Side Effects of Psychiatric Medication: From Helpful to Harmful

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The larger narratives put forth by psychiatry and neuroscience often eclipse the equally important stories of lived experience. The easiest way to understand how people are engaging spiritually with their prescriptions is to hear it in their own words.

Stop Saying This: Phrases That Sound Helpful, But Are Actually Gaslighting, Part 1

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Therapists seem to have a reference book where they go to find phrases that sound really helpful but are actually gaslighting and self-serving.