Neuroqueering Judaism: Reflections on Mad Passover

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For our Haggadah, the reading material that guides the Seder activities, we included a list of the 10 modern plagues: psychiatric incarceration, forced drugging, electroshock therapy, restraint, seclusion, coercive behavior therapies, outpatient commitment, the pathology paradigm, sanism, and societal coercion to recover.

Stop The War On Chronic Pain Patients

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Much has been written lately about an "epidemic" of opioid overdose deaths, in some cases advocating for a blanket reduction in the availability of prescription opioids. Regrettably, many readers will not penetrate beneath the sensational headlines to grapple with the complicated realities of this issue. Few who aren't themselves in pain may realize what harm such articles are doing to tens of millions of people.

The Blinding of Gloria X. in New Jersey State Hospital – Just Another Mental...

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In the early hours of September 19 – about 3 AM, someone estimated – Gloria X. was awoken from her sleep at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, the New Jersey State hospital. Her new (about 3 weeks) roommate, Florence, whom she had trusted, was on top of her punching her in the eyes. Florence pounded her eyes over and over and over – taking out 50 years of rage on Gloria. Why Gloria? No one knows. Or those who know ain’t talking.

Who Needs Radicalisation?

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Where is the evidence base to support the assertion that the millions of people in our “civilised society,” that are defined as having a mental illness, are in fact ill at all? We know that the chemical imbalance theory has been disproven, we know that the geneticists have found nothing to validate a theory that people are vulnerable to inherent defects and that psychiatry remains the only stream of medicine that relies on the subjective assessment of a human being. What we also know is that there are severe consequences for many of those people as a result of these—at best—hypothetical assumptions about the causes of emotional distress.

Launch of the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry

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When I started working in the NHS in Britain I pretty much accepted the mainstream view – that psychiatric drugs work, that the categories of mental disorder have been established via solid scientific research, and that we are now on the cusp of understanding the biology of mental illness. I was wrong.

Response to “The End of Rethinking Psychiatry?”

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In his Mad in America blog post “The End of Rethinking Psychiatry?” Jonathan Keyes writes about the support group Rethinking Psychiatry and how Portland’s First Unitarian Church has withdrawn its assistance and asked the group to leave the church. Jon wasn’t told the full story by his colleagues at Rethinking Psychiatry, and he didn’t ask the church about it. Turns out First Unitarian wasn’t the first organization to cease support for Rethinking Psychiatry; my organization did as well - and here’s some background about our decision.

“Tuff” Love: A Public Safety Alternative

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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.

The Downfall of Peer Support: Are You Kidding Me?

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In April of this year, Sera Davidow authored a blog titled “The Downfall of Peer Support: MHA & National Certification.” I do not agree with much of what she says in her blog, and as the vice president of Peer Advocacy, Supports and Services at Mental Health America I'd like to respond.

On Spiritual Emergence and Other Extraordinary Experiences

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In a nutshell, I switched coasts and moved from Philadelphia to attend CIIS in San Francisco, because I couldn’t tell my story. In Philly I was known for my role as Storytelling Training Trainer, in which I facilitated a workshop to help people share their stories of mental health and substance abuse recovery. But I never felt I could tell my own real story, because the culture there wouldn’t allow it. The culture allowed me to be a person diagnosed with bipolar with psychotic episodes, who was living a meaningful life, but it did not allow me to be a person who is undergoing a very profound developmental process where my psyche was perceiving and processing my universe in ways that were shifting my paradigm of the potential of what reality can be, which for me, is a very spiritual process, and my true story.

Cured Meat: an Underground Art Take on Mental Healthcare

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There was a time when I, as a young woman, had not yet been a prostitute, a heroin addict, a homeless bum, and all that. I was, at that time, a literature student, at a famous school, and things were going well. But an eerie stampede of social workers and mental hospital stays were overshadowing it all. The tentacular reach of psychiatric drugs into the deepest recess of my being was performing a nasty assault on me from within the bloodstream. In order for my life not to be wasted, it became imperative that I get away. So I said goodbye, America. Goodbye, everybody that I used to know.

The Right to Refuse Psychiatric Treatment

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It doesn’t have to be like this. Give us back our autonomy. Grant us the legal right to refuse psychiatric coercion based on our own preferences and experiences. It’s urgent. We don’t have another survivor to lose.

NAMI and Robert Whitaker

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Fireworks and heated debate were expected by many when Robert Whitaker recently addressed a group at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) annual convention in San Antonio, Texas. So why was Whitaker invited to the national NAMI convention and how did it turn out?

Holistic Recovery From Schizophrenia: A Mother and Son’s Journey

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I am a mother of a son who was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia in December 2003, a son who is doing well today...

Voices in our Heads: The Prefrontal Cortex as Parasite

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As I considered the voice I heard talking to me in my own head, it occurred to me that what was happening was, more or less, a later development of the brain talking to a more basic and earlier level of consciousness, one which was not verbal itself and was, in fact, the actual seat and locus of my real awareness.

Response To Sandy Hook Report

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I do not claim to know how to heal the wounds from the tragedy that occurred in Newtown on December 14th, 2012. Nor do I claim to know how to prevent future tragedies of this sort. The intent of this post is to oppose ineffective and inhumane practices, prompted by reactions to the events in Newtown and other communities, that are falsely thought to be effective.

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.

The Real Benzo Hysteria

On June 12th, Psychology Today published an article entitled, "Benzo Hysteria: the Chilling Effects of the 'Addictive' label," by Ed Shorter, PhD. A dangerous and unfounded claim was made in its final paragraph, which reads as follows: "The benzos are among the safest and most effective drug classes in the history of psychopharmacology." Benzodiazepines are in fact highly addictive and many people suffer for years from protracted withdrawal syndromes that are disabling.

Some Thoughts About Conferences

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Without judging the motivation of people presenting and speaking at conferences, I’d like to ask the question: can we achieve more with these conferences than generating knowledge and touching people's hearts? Are we preparing the ground for change or are we marking time?

Why the Fuss Over the DSM-5, When Did the DSM Start to Matter, &...

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Why all the fuss over DSM-5? Why did Robert Spitzer, the editor of DSM-III, begin to protest about the “secrecy” surrounding its production as early as 2007? Why did Allen Frances, editor of DSM-IV, begin in 2009 to challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) announced goal that when making DSM-5 “everything is on the table”? Why did he dispute the APA’s position that there had been enough progress in neuroscience to call for a “paradigm shift”, and why did Frances and others go on to protest repeatedly what they viewed as DSM-5’s “medicalization of normality?”

A Mother’s Very, Very Worst Nightmare

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I was Marci’s former psychotherapist. When I heard what had happened, I immediately informed the detectives that I suspected that the homicide and suicide attempt were related to psychiatric drugs.

Researching the Link Between SSRIs and Violence

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In 2010, my 25-year old son was prescribed Prozac for depression. After a psychiatrist doubled his dose, my son became acutely psychotic and had to be admitted to the hospital. Over the next twelve months, during which time he was treated with antidepressants and neuroleptics, my son had five further psychotic experiences. I thought it might be that my son was having difficulty metabolising the drugs.
Marianne Williamson

We Must Hear Marianne Williamson’s Message About the Overuse of Antidepressants

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Although some of Marianne Williamson's rhetoric on the subject of the overuse of prescription medications may be over the top, the topic deserves much more public attention and debate, since it is a crisis as real as the opioid epidemic.

America’s Sweetheart

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Justina Pelletier, a fifteen-year-old girl from West Hartford, Connecticut, has captured the heart of the American public. Whether or not Justina Pelletier may survive her ordeal is yet to be determined. Thousands of people nationwide are praying. What is certain at this point, is that Justina is truly America's Sweetheart and she will never be forgotten.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Bipolar Disorder

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On the 6th of June 2013, ITV's This Morning hosted the News Review. One story was about the actor Stephen Fry and his recent publicity on how he has battled with his ‘bipolar’ condition and suicide attempts. While we don’t have any issue with this and the important message Mr Fry was trying to put across, we do have grave concerns over the comments made by the two guest speakers, and with what was imparted to This Morning’s vast susceptible viewing audience.

Don’t Harm Them Twice (Part II): What Can Be Done?

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When language has been ingrained in a culture for a long time, it takes a concerted effort to change it. How do we stop using the word “addiction” in relation to cases of iatrogenic benzo dependence? Here are a few suggestions.