Thursday, February 9, 2023

“Tuff” Love: A Public Safety Alternative

It is no mystery why everyone at the McNair Discovery Learning Center is alive today. Antoinette Tuff was respectful, responsive and kind to a man with a gun. She shared her own difficulties and offered her own humanity. This kind of “Tuff Love” involves real risk, but not more risk. It reaches across vast expanses of human confusion and distress - not to manage, control or subdue - but to attempt connection and offer a lifeline back to humanity. It is the public safety work of the future.


I am quarantined in Stabilization. In front of me an old woman with cherry lipstick and a clipboard asks questions about sexual abuse, but my mind is through the square window on the door behind her. In that room I see a steel bed surrounded by emptiness. On top of it lay leather straps that are uneven in width where they’re wearing thin. Each strap has a set of holes to fasten the buckles tight, and I can see quite clearly that the ones nearest the end are circles while the ones furthest away have stretched into ovals. Tonight will be a Haldol night.

It’s Time for a Revolution Within the Revolution: Coming Out of the Closet on...

If we are to demand justice for our brothers and sisters in hospitals, jails and community-based programs, then we must demand justice for women, Blacks and other POC who are being discriminated against. We cannot continue to be silent while 50% of us are regulated to the back, and not allowed space at the table. Our fellow community members are wounded by the silence. We expect and are now demanding to be treated better.

On the Corner of Distress & Poverty: What Happens to Our Minds When There...

In the last few years, Mental Health First Aid has been backed by the President of the United States, the First Lady, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Council on Behavioral Health (among others). In fiscal year 2015 alone, the federal budget allotted 15 million toward the Council’s MHFA mission of ‘one million trained.’ Yet, this course – promoted with unprecedented fervor and designed to support the average citizen to identify a mental health ‘problem’ in their fellow persons and (strongly) encourage them to get ‘help’ – has little to say about the importance and emotional impact of meeting basic human needs.

Book Review:  Tales From The Madhouse, by Gary Sidley

Earlier this year the British publisher PCCS Books published Tales From The Madhouse: An insider critique of psychiatric services, by Gary Sidley. Gary's criticisms of psychiatry are cogent and convincing. But in addition he has drawn on his extensive experience working in the system to describe in close detail psychiatry's devastating effects in the lives and hopes of real people. Through Gary's sensitively written anecdotes, psychiatry's "treatments" are exposed as the disempowering, hope-destroying tactics that they are.

Mourning: Death, Loss, Trauma, & Psychotherapy – The Universal Agent for Recovery and Change

There are no set rules for grief. It takes however long it takes, sometimes years, sometimes more. Grieving operates on its own time. The very idea that the DSM-5 gives a two-week grace period before diagnosing a ‘biological depression’ is obscene on the face of it, never mind the handing out of Prozac. Other psychiatrists would like to push the window all the way to three or even four weeks. How compassionate. There is no place for antidepressants, ever

On the Tyranny of Good Will: Why We Call Ourselves Psychiatric Survivors

I believe if the public really knew and understood the reason why we who have survived medically-induced harm, and who do not have the human right to — with real evidence — legally expose this, they would support psychiatric survivors and help us to put an end to what has been called ‘the tyranny of good will.’

Blame the Clients?

I'm old enough to remember a time when outpatient psychiatry was almost entirely a talking and listening profession. Depression was considered a fairly ordinary and understandable phenomenon – part of the human lot, so to speak - and remediation was conceptualized as being largely a matter of seeking support and solace from friends and loved ones, and of making positive changes in one's circumstances and lifestyle. In extreme cases, people did consult psychiatrists, but the purpose of these visits was to discuss issues and problems – not to obtain drugs.

From Surviving to Thriving: Unleashing Creativity

There were days that I’d wake up and all I could do was cry for no particular reason, just another miserable day of withdrawal. However, the idea of taking photos would get me out of the house. Especially on those days, the absolutely only thing that would get me to move at all was the idea of taking photos. One particular day, I was just crying, crying, crying, and as soon as I got to a beautiful spot that I loved, I stopped crying, took photos, and felt at peace. I even found that the days I felt the worst were the days I took the best photos.

Are We Discovering More ADHD?

This is an important issue. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. The CDC also notes that the base rates for ADHD varies substantially by state ranging from a low of 4.2% in Nevada to a high of 14.8% in Kentucky.

[Un]Settling In for the Long Haul: The Interplay of Complacency, Stagnation, and Psychotropic...

By the time most of us have gotten into our 30’s and 40’s, a certain order has started to take place. We look for ways to increase convenience and amusement in the midst of our busy lives. We often purge those practices that don’t seem necessary to get through the day. We tend to avoid areas that unnecessarily challenge us to think differently, remain flexible, and push the envelope. We start settling in for the long haul. When complacency and stagnation set in, our human nature, especially of today, seeks immediate promises of relief. And marketers know this. This is where psychotropic drugs, among other artificial endeavors, enter the equation.

Outside the Bubble and Into the “New” Economy

A recent report from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law on "Promoting Employment of People with Mental Illness" provided the same dreary picture that those of us working in mental health systems are familiar with: that people labeled with mental disorders are employed at a much lower rate than their non-disabled peers. The report calls for broader implementation of the evidence-based practice Supported Employment, which is scarcely available to any individuals across the nation served by public mental health systems which favor funding of other behavioral health services.

The Art of Mourning

In graduate school at UT Austin, while engaging in electroconvulsive treatment, my academic advisor would refer to my resiliency. That I suited up, showed up. Graduate school gave me something to hang onto and to busy myself with intellectually; something that was rooted firmly, concretely, in time and space. But most of all it allowed structure back into my world. Conversely, while ECT was a last-breath attempt to abate all further SI (self-injury) attempts, it was intensive and invasive, affecting my cognitive abilities. I struggled with draft after draft for multiple coursework papers.

We Have Seen the Evidence Base, and it is Us

Anyone who has used benzodiazepines and sleeping pills knows how difficult it is to get off them (worse than heroin!) and how much time it takes to recover. Although there is a lot more helpful information on the web these days, a lot of it is based on anecdotal accounts, personal stories and theories rather than “real” evidence.

Bipolarized and Crimes Against Nature

Rethinking Psychiatry recently hosted a showing of the award-winning film 'Bipolarized.' The film criticizes both the mainstream mental health system and societal standards of masculinity. The author of this post draws parallels to the film and the one-man show "Crimes Against Nature," in which psychology professor Dr. Chris Kilmartin critiques traditional standards of masculinity as harmful and unrealistic.

Screening Pregnant Women for Depression

Denmark is now screening pregnant women for depression. Given the clear risks and the unclear benefits of antidepressants, the process of screening pregnant women for depression can take on a bizarre dimension. Here, Peter Gøtzsche imagines one of the conversations that might take place.

What Would a Trauma-Informed Society Look Like?

Imagine if we, as a society, started recognizing trauma, pain, grief, fear, the need for connection and understanding, and oppression without defensiveness or denial. What if, hypothetically, we saw the signs in people who were "defiant," "withdrawn," "oppositional," "depressed," "manic," or otherwise as desperate pleas to have their needs met, and stopped telling them they were sick for doing so? What would a society that actually encouraged expression of emotion, compassion, and empathy look like?

Martin Keller, Principal Investigator of Controversial Paxil Study, Leaves Brown University

I just learned that Dr. Martin Keller, principal investigator of the controversial Paxil study 329, has retired from his position as a professor of...

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered

In Salem Village in the winter of 1692, nine-year-old Betty Parris and her 11-year-old cousin Abigail Williams began exhibiting strange behavior.  A local doctor could find no physical evidence of any ailment. When other young women in the village started exhibiting similar behaviours, Sarah Good, a homeless begger, Sarah Osborne, a woman who rarely attended church, Tituba, a slave from a minority ethnic group, and Dorothy Good, a four-year-old child, were accused of bewitching the girls. They were interrogated and sent to jail.


Free flow had characterized my creative process — and now an art practice that had come naturally since my childhood was extinguished. Not only were my reproductive capabilities shut down on psychiatric drugs, my ability to create art had been effectively disabled.

How Psychologists Meet the Needs of the “Power Structure”: A Talk at the Psychologists...

All power structures throughout history have sought to use groups of people, especially among so-called professionals, who will control the population from rebelling against injustices. Power structures have used clergy—that’s why clergy who cared about social justice and who were embarrassed by their profession created “liberation theology.” Power structures have certainly used police and armies, as has been done throughout American history to try to break the U.S. labor movement. And the U.S. power structure now uses mental health professionals to manipulate and medicate people to adapt and adjust and thereby maintain the status quo, regardless of how insane the status quo has become.

The Shoes Keep on Dropping… What Next?

If your government espouses freedom for all but abuses citizens of its own as well other countries, its pronouncements are pure propaganda. This article seeks to help readers make the connection between the public and secret behaviors of the U.S. government as it continues to oppress those individuals within its reach that occupy a politically marginalized status; including, of course, persons who are survivors and/or users of psychiatric services.

Mass Murder in Newtown: Why and Where Next?

This is the third time in less than two years that I’m writing an article about young men walking into public venues and shooting a dozen or more people at a time --- first Tucson, then Aurora, now Newtown. The Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, didn’t just walk into the Sandy Hook elementary school where he shot and killed 26 persons, he broke in, determined to carry out the plan he had. “Why?” and “Where Next?” seem to be the questions we are always left with, along with “How can we prevent this from happening again?” Many Americans are also asking, finally, “What is happening to this country?”

The Hot Stove Project: Learning From People who Think Differently

People with mental disorders or differences are often experienced as “hot stoves” in society — at work, at school, at home, in friendships. In addition, providers and consumers who embrace the medical model and those who don’t are often “hot stoves” for one another. The result of arguments for and against those and other divisive perspectives is interference with empathy, understanding, creative solutions, and forward movement as a mental health community.

Invisible Pain

In my practice as a therapist I often work with people who have been seriously hurt by the practice of psychiatry, either directly or indirectly through family members. Many of them started taking psychiatric drugs for moderate depression, or for some anxiety, or for panic attacks. But as time went on, their doses went up. The sad part about this common story is that when the person finally decides that the psych drugs have caused deep harm, and that they want to stop, the road towards coming off these drugs is long and arduous, and there is little cultural support.