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."
Part One: Jessica Lowell Mason describes her personal experiences with involuntary commitment, the psychiatric system, and the courts—leading to her founding of a mad community, Madwomen in the Attic. "This two-part piece outlines our struggle to build a mad community across locations, across differences, across challenges, across borders and barriers, across countries."
Being a psychiatric patient likely puts you at much greater risk for illness or dying from COVID-19. While most of the talk about "mental health in the time of the pandemic" focuses on mindfulness, ways to relieve your stress, and the accessibility to psychiatrists during social distancing, this reality of COVID-19 and mental health is being overlooked.
In the United States and other countries that have a military, there is often a great deal of talk about supporting veterans, but way too often, research aimed at learning what will be helpful is misguided and can even be harmful. The same applies to nonveterans who have been through traumatic experiences. Two new studies exemplify such wrongheaded approaches.
During this global pandemic, organizations have come together to issue a joint statement making recommendations to governments on how to respect and ensure the human rights of people with psychosocial disabilities, who are among the groups more vulnerable to human rights violations as well as infection with and severity of the illness.
The job of educating the public on common medical conditions and the range, efficacy, benefits, and risks of potential treatment options should be undertaken by an independent and objective government health agency, not a for-profit, multi-billion dollar industry with a conflict of interest.
Mad in Brasil launches MIB TV, an innovative communication space open to public participation. Every two weeks mental health professionals, researchers, users of psychiatry, family members and leaders of popular movements will discuss articles of interest on Mad in Brasil.
Our school professionals are under constant pressure to help funnel children into the mental health system and ultimately—and tragically for many—toward psychotropic drugs. So we designed a professional development symposium to address alternatives.
There are three steps to modern psychiatry’s successful business formula: 1. Get people to think that they’re stupid even though they’re smart. 2. Train them to actually think stupidly. 3. Directly stupidify them with chemicals.
Work with open dialogue always starts with a "network meeting" in which the person of concern is invited to talk with members of their social network (i.e., family, friends, co-workers) and at least two professionals from the care team. The main guideline was "nothing about you, without you."
Peter C. Gøtzsche reports what happened, or rather did not happen, when he contacted National Boards of Health in eight countries with his serious concern that the use of depression pills in children is increasing and leads to more suicides. The continued official denial that these drugs cause suicide and that something substantial needs to be done is appalling.
The Boston Globe recently published an atrocious opinion piece, “Massachusetts law meant to protect people with mental illness may make them sicker.” Though framed as an attempt to shed light on a need for better mental health laws, the piece insults those of us of who have been labeled with mental health diagnoses.
This is no goody-goody book but one that compellingly draws our attention to what in our hurried, overburdened lives too easily gets lost, that is, the essential human need for acceptance and validation. Validation, the author says, "is a joining with the distressed person to reflect or give voice to that person’s feelings accurately."
It seems more and more common for people who consider themselves mental health advocates to make the argument that “mental illness is like physical illness.” Have you heard this “depression is like diabetes” tactic? I have a hard time seeing how this is advocating for those in emotional distress.
Women’s issues and mental health were embedded in radical mental medicine fifty years ago. Feminism and sexual politics in the late 1960s and 1970s led to a reassessment of gender-based hierarchies in the mental health establishment, and transformative change was the result.
The following are some ways in which trauma commonly impacts a trauma survivor’s life. Imagine, as you read, how different our society might be if systems of care and justice were as trauma-informed as your life might be.
Such interventions, the report says, "generally involve highly discriminatory and coercive attempts at controlling or 'correcting' the victim’s personality, behaviour or choices and almost always inflict severe pain or suffering."