An Open Letter to the Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee RE: HB1386

I ask you to vote against HB1386. I write with a moral obligation to inform you of research findings which were recently defended through the PhD Program in Environmental Psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Throughout this research process, I repeatedly gave examples of people who participated who were silenced and retaliated against for expressing their expert perspectives about the public psychiatric service delivery system. Of grave concern is that this silencing extended to people who were reporting abuse of people who were involved with the public psychiatric service delivery system.

The Hallucination in the Room

I recently read Rachel Waddingham’s excellent post (Me & the Meds: The Story of a Dysfunctional Relationship) on how she eventually managed to get off meds and take control of her hallucinations. This particular piece struck home with me because it illustrates that the biggest problem with the direction psychiatry has taken in the past fifty years is not the meds (acknowledging that meds are a big problem) but the refusal to deal with the obvious: Hallucinations.

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

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

Optimizing Mental Wellness Through Nutrient Therapy: A Gastroenterologist’s Perspective

It was hard to believe, initially, that nutrient therapy could have that profound an impact. My son’s remarkable recovery with “just nutrients” has made me question the entire medical model behind ADHD and other neurobehavioral disorders.

Seclusion & Restraint in Ohio

The use of seclusion and restraint in mental health care in Ohio is legitimately subject to the assessment, criticisms and recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
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A Call for Obligatory Diagnostic Reporting and Appeals Mechanisms

Psychiatric diagnoses are ballooning in scope and in numbers, many have dramatic and life-changing consequences, reliability levels are poor, co-morbidity levels are high, and the validity of many are doubtful. Despite all this, they have escaped any kind of regulation. It's time for that to change.

Stop The War On Chronic Pain Patients

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.

Well-Being Therapy: A Guide to Long-term Recovery

If a patient has high cholesterol or sugar, the doctor may prescribe a drug to lower what is too high, but he/she generally adds some suggestions: for instance to avoid certain types of food, to do more physical activity, to refrain from smoking. But if someone has a low mood and sees medical help, the doctor--particularly if he or she is a psychiatrist--will likely just prescribe a drug and not encourage any “self-therapy.” The problem with his approach to care is that psychiatric drugs, even when they are properly prescribed, may help very little in the long run and create a number of additional problems

Soldiers as Guinea Pigs: the Case of Mefloquine and Tafenoquine

Hundreds of Australian veterans have been diagnosed with serious neurological and psychiatric disorders, often mistaken for post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of mefloquine, a neurotoxicant able to cause a “lasting or permanent” brain injury, and the experimental drug tafenoquine[.] Many maintain they were compelled to participate in trials of the drugs.

Saving Congressman Murphy from Fraudulent Information

I’ve come to realize that the very good intentions of Congressman Murphy to fix an obviously not-working mental health prevention, intervention, and treatment “system” has caused him to be swarmed by a flock of flatterers flogging fraudulent “facts.” Thus, at the behest of my colleague, I wrote a letter to Congressman Murphy, who is obviously a leader for issues of mental health. My letter was delivered to him personally, and I share much of it here. The more I thought about the pickle the Congressman is in—surrounded by people either flattering him or yelling at him—the more compassion I have for him as a human trying thread his way through the siren songs.

I’m Going, Are You? How to Get Involved in the Annual Protest of...

On May 4, 2014, I will be speaking out with many others at the Annual Protest of the American Psychiatric Association, which is organized this year by MindFreedom International and the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights. It is just a few days away and I am so inspired by the outpouring of support people have given to this effort!  There are literally people coming to the protest from all over the country - including Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, and Detroit (that I know of).

An Intersubjective Approach to Treating Young Children With Autism and Related Challenges

For too many years I was taught and believed that children diagnosed with autism were incapable of learning through the normal channels of relationship. I accepted that they must be taught differently and could easily dismiss their frequent displays of emotional distress as simply a symptom of their autism. This all changed when I attempted to reconcile what the autism intervention and child development fields had to say about what children need for optimal social and emotional development.

Why Paul Steinberg Has It All Wrong (and Should Stop Seeing Patients)

(This commentary originally ran on Beyond Meds) In his New York Times op-ed entitled “Our Failed Approach to Schizophrenia“ Paul Steinberg, a psychiatrist in private practice, proposes we...

Makers of Risperdal Sued for Breast Development in Boys

Thousands of boys and young men are lined up in courthouses around the country to sue J&J for gynecomastia caused by taking Risperdal as young children. The condition is irreversible except by surgical removal. Collectively, they have become known as the Risperdal Boys.

Beyond the Medicalization of Insomnia

There is hope that the truth about sleeping pills will become more commonplace. As it does, however, we are faced with an even greater challenge: to move beyond the medicalization of insomnia in order to help people sleep better naturally. The alternative paradigm I suggest is that nutrition is a primary cure for insomnia.

Schizophrenia Becomes Psychosis Susceptibility Syndrome

Anoiksis (the Dutch association of and for people with a psychotic vulnerability) has introduced a new name for the disease schizophrenia: Psychosis Susceptibility Syndrome (PSS). Together with the old name, its attached prejudices, misleading significance and stigma can be thrown overboard.

Reappropriating Bipolar Beyond Pathology

It’s still not easy for me to say, “I’m bipolar.” Know that I’m bipolar for good reason, reappropriating a painful word, so those in pain can find me—so you can find me. This is how I reappropriate a term used to strip me of my humanity, a term used to sell me counterfeit versions of reality. I refuse to let go of a label that helps me find my people, no matter how painful it is to retain.
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The Angry Congressman: Tim Murphy’s Lack of Insight

The most spectacular part of Rep. Murphy’s hypocrisy has nothing to do with abortion or reproductive rights. Allegations of his dangerous behavior and his lack of insight into his own actions would be enough to commit him, involuntarily, to psychiatric treatment under the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act that he championed.

On Spiritual Emergence and Other Extraordinary Experiences

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.

Creating More Equal Societies Decreases Mental Illness: What Should We Do?

Consider what would happen if people in the United States were able to bring about greater income equality, akin to Japan’s.  The rate of mental disorders would drop by half.  Life expectancy, even of the upper middle class, would increase.  There would be more trust, fewer homicides and fewer prisoners.  These are some of the well documented effects of increasing income equality, as the social scientists Roger Wilkinson and Kate Pickett explain in their book The Spirit Level, and on their website,

Flibanserin: The Female Viagra is a Failed Me-too Antidepressant

Since a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee, on June 4, recommended approval of flibanserin (AddyiTM) in June, there have been numerous editorials and news stories about the controversies surrounding the first “pink Viagra” to hit the market. We have sought to understand the process and financial incentives that led the advisory committee to recommend its approval, with Sprout Pharmaceuticals prepared to market it as a treatment for a new disorder in DSM 5: Female sexual interest/arousal disorder.

“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.

The Great Turning

When I first heard of the proposed “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013” (H.R. 3717)”, I felt relieved and thought “maybe somebody has finally got it!” However, as I read and processed the words I realized just how much Tim Murphy didn’t get it. Is this mental health system broke? Yes it is. Can it be fixed? Yes it can. But we must do it collectively and with the experience and voices of those with true lived experiences including their families and allies. I stand with millions of others who have shown through our resiliency that our movement is real, has saved lives and most of all we have people that can give voice to what really needs to be changed within the system. If only people will listen.

Mental Illness, Right & Wrong, Drugs, and Violence

The recent incident in the grounds of Washington Capitol, involving a young educated woman, brought shock to many people. It was another opportunity to blame a victim of mental illness and demand further restraint and medical attention for such individuals. Yes, we are lacking dignified, caring, discerning and attentive treatment for those whose spirits are broken. But we certainly don’t suffer from a lack of medical treatment for such individuals. It is time for policy-holders, and our scientific community to ask the 'heretical' question; “Could the drugs be the culprit behind the violence?”

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

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.