Thursday, July 19, 2018

Comments by Alex

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  • “thanks for validating that most therapists are either incompetent or abusive. There’s crossover between the two.”

    I actually had a really good, caring, and straightforward therapist early on, when I first began receiving psychotherapy back in the early 1980s.

    It was later, starting when I moved to San Francisco in the late 90s and began graduate school that I found myself swimming with the sharks, and I dove deep into the black hole of this paradigm. I was going from therapist to therapist, each one more demeaning, arrogant, judgmental, and presumptuous than the last, until I entered the public system and it was like a mine field of incompetence and abuse.

    I agree, Julie, there is a crossover between these two. When the therapist is incompetent, what makes them incompetent is their lack of self-awareness, so all their crap gets relentlessly projected onto the client, and that is nothing short of abuse. And extremely dangerous for the client, lots of post-traumatic stress in the making here.

    Can also lead to suicide ideation, when it adversely affects a person’s feeling of self-worth, which can happen if the client is particularly vulnerable and getting clobbered by their therapist with one shadowy projection after another. That’s not at all uncommon. In fact, I’d venture to guess it is the norm.

  • “I knew a guy who had sex with one of his marital therapy couple.”

    I am not surprised to hear this, it happens a lot. One of the most prominent professors/psychotherapists I had would talk about how in the 1970’s, it was quite a common therapeutic technique, to have sex with a client. Isn’t that clearly prostitution? After all, in these cases, the “therapist” is taking money for sex!

    So violating personal boundaries in the name of “service” has been an issue for quite a while in this field, not to mention extreme abuse of power, in the most overt ways possible. That’s a problem which needs to be addressed in all sorts of ways educational and legal.

    Well, on second thought, it is addressed in school because I did take Law and Ethics of Psychotherapeutic Practice and anyone would agree that engaging in sexual activity with a client is not in the slightest a sound idea for anyone concerned, that it’s entirely abusive, and it is, indeed, illegal, I believe. Yet it does not stop people, they lose their judgment somewhere along the line.

    Just like with teachers engaging in sex with their underage students. I think that’s been going on for a good long while, too–perhaps since the beginning of time–but at least that is being reported now and teachers are getting arrested.

  • Thanks for your very thoughtful response, Shaun. There are, indeed, no clear cut answers, and situations and people and relationships so widely vary and are each unique. As far as what is appropriate to the best outcome, there are different answers for different situations.

    You’re right there are a lot of lousy therapists out there and that is not a harm-free situation. A lousy therapist can do a tremendous amount of harm. These 1:1 meetings are risky, when one member of the relationship is vulnerable, foggy headed, hurting, and/or in need. How to discern a useful vs. useless therapist is a problem for a lot of reasons, and by the time a therapist shows their true colors, much money and energy has already gone down the drain, and disorientation–sometimes quite severe–is the result of bad therapy.

    “Someone with authority needs to be very careful how they wield their power.”

    Yes, I think that’s a truism. What is not clear to me is when a therapist considers himself/herself to have some kind of authority over a client. Why is that? To me, that is a counter-transference because a client has their own agency, pure and simple.

    A psychotherapist provides a service, and whether or not they provide it with competence and effectiveness would be up to the client to report. Yet, critical feedback is most often turned into some kind of symptom, delusion, or transference, and worse yet, the therapist can become so easily defensive. That’s happened to me more often than I can count, and it is truly maddening.

    It’s quite unclear what the truth would be in a relationship like this, I believe. It is simply not straightforward and direct, which is where we find clarity.

    This is why I don’t like the paradigm in which “psychotherapy” is taught and practiced, regardless of the diverse schools of thought and ways of practicing what is called “psychotherapy.” It still boils down to this vague idea of what service, exactly, is being provided here? And what would be considered a reasonable scope of practice?

    The extent to which it can be extremely harmful, if not provided with clarity and competence, needs to be emphasized because I believe it happens more often than not. Can’t prove that, of course, but it is my personal belief, from what I’ve seen and experienced during my lifetime.

    When I was in graduate school, one course I did not see in the catalogue was, “How You Can Do Harm to Your Client if You Are Not Careful, Clear, and Conscientious.” I believe that would be a responsible and eye-opening course to offer, leading to hardy and necessary self-awareness, in order to be “client-ready.” At least that!

    Good discussion about this, thank you, Shaun.

  • Rachel, you put it so perfectly and succinctly. I think that’s the biggest illusion in all this, and what causes such crazy-making problems, all this behind-the-scenes manipulation—which, btw, people who are extremely sensitive to energy can feel yet it can be hard to put one’s finger on. If we follow the thread of that feeling–the energy of it–we do get to the truth.

    But in a dysfunctional and programmed system, people turn a blind eye because that truth will challenge the system, and the beliefs/norms on which it operates, way too much by making people feel and acknowledge things they’ve for so long tried to avoid. That’s an opportunity for the system to heal, change, and grow, but it most often resist this, for so many reasons—e.g., resistance to change, not wanting to face hard truths, etc.

    Personally, I find it so interesting to both study and experience. I went through this with my family. I wasn’t exactly IP’d as a kid, but I did stand out because I was open with my feelings and was truly a present-time kind of person in a very academically oriented family. I was a good student, but I was more into the arts and more of a “free spirit,” which had both its positives and negatives, but overall, I was in the flow as a kid. It was later I had issues and sought help, which began my journey. But we all got our turns being IP’d in a very narcissistically oriented household. My folks were quite emotionally needy, and we were “trained” to fill in those gaps, which of course is a big role for a kid, very oppressive and not freeing.

    And it was much, much later, while I was going through the system and feeling like the IP of the world, that I began to speak my truth to my family, how that system had affected me, and THAT is when something switched in my family and as an adult, I was viewed as “other” and “lesser than”–starting in my 40s, which was a huge blow to me and it led to ego death and having to do consciousness shifting work, if only for my survival.

    That has been my work for years now, because it started to create shifts in this dynamic, to my favor. I began to give all that energy back that wasn’t mine to begin with, and indeed, as I followed that thread through this kind of yucky feeling, it led to a lot of truth that did amount to exactly what you say here–

    “while others play the “golden child” and “winged monkeys” and other roles assigned by the cold, selfish “narcissist” at the center creating the whole drama”

    There has been one person in particular in my family who I discovered was doing this, all behind-the-scenes, and it became extremely obvious from the conversations I was having with other family members and all these contradictions started coming to light.

    The other family members had become unwitting enablers because they believed what they were hearing due to the fact that it fit the program. The one playing the role of “narcissistic abuser” knows the dysfunctional program well and how to keep the power structure in place. It is so fascinating to actually watch this in progress, from the inside out, based on shifting internally one’s self-identity and speaking a new truth, or at least, speaking one’s truth with conviction and integrity. It is a very powerful action and it creates change.

    It was extremely confusing as I processed these conversations, both internally and also with a couple of people in my life with whom I discuss these things, and I realized exactly how the gaslighting was working, not to mention a bit of Munchausen by Proxy and all sorts of seeds-planting based on lies. All in order to create (manipulate into being) a really powerful illusion which would amount to casting shadow over me and in essence, stealing my light. Exactly the same as I experienced in the “mental health” system = stigma. That’s the tool used to create IPs. It is energy-sucking, by design.

    It was amazing to finally see and feel the light on all this. Cracked the code for me. How you say it is spot on, that is exactly how it went. And after years of speaking my truth about it, allowing myself to go into the confusion of it, and then getting my clarity, I am seeing the system changing yet again, and this time, I have way more power because I changed my role in the family.

    And that narcissistic gaslighting abuser? That person is fading from the system it would seem. This is all a family healing work-in-progress and it’s new ground for me so every moment is a surprise. But so far it seems to be working because I made it a point to challenge what they had started to project on me, and I did it out loud, first to the narcissist who started this–and that was a disaster as we all know can be expected, it simply confirms what we know and they pull from their bag of tricks again, and it can lead to retaliation. So then, I started speaking my truth to the one person in the system that I felt could possibly hear me, and that started to shift the energy, slowly but surely.

    Being sensitive to energy, as many of us are who go through these journeys in the assigned role of “MI,” or “the diagnosed one,” is a curse and a gift. At first, it feels impossible to manage life being so senstive with all the harsh energies of the world right now. It’s why we tend to become the peacemakers, we want peace in the world so badly, so that we can get on with things and not be in constant conflict, which is what can add so much static to the collective energy. Conflict can lead to clarity, but sometimes it just seems to beget more conflict, as a norm in the paradigm, far and away from the peace we seek.

    As a “sensitive,” a person can learn to work with this quality and it becomes radar-like, which is a powerful tool in life, but we have to know how to take care of ourselves and how to keep our own energy nourished so that it does not become depleted. I think anyone could benefit from learning this, but being a sensitive type actually requires this for not only survival, but also in order to create a good quality of life, I believe.

    I think it’s also important to keep perspective and remember that these assigned roles are illusions which we can shift, but we do have to work the system, somehow, and what I always say is simply to follow your truth, whatever that means to you. In other words, don’t doubt your information. If it *feels* funky, it more than likely is, regardless of what anyone around you says if you are the only one noticing it. You’re not crazy, you’re a visionary, and those around you are more than likely in denial, if they are trying to make you feel crazy.

    Every voice matters, but the IP is the one carrying all the information. Once they can process it, it is gold. Whether or not others in the system listen is 50/50, but believing in our own truth is empowering, and in my experience, leads to good changes, one way or another.

    Thanks, Rachel, your clarity is extremely inspiring and encouraging to me.

  • Not to belabor anything here and go off topic, but Shaun, I have to say that what you said about sexual transference really triggered some memories from my days in training.

    I remember there was this one director of a well-known training program to which a lot of interns applied post grad school. He was infamous for stopping the interview and then saying to the women who were applying to work there and have him as a supervisor, “Now I feel it is my responsibility to be open here and express that I’m feeling a sexual transference and it’s important we get this out of the way up front, for the sake of our professional relationship.” Something to that effect, and I kid you not.

    And they would come back to our training group at the clinic where I was doing my practicum, and report this, to which everyone would groan and say how creepy it sounded. Don’t ask me how many ended up applying anyway, because I don’t know. I’m simply remembering what this guy was putting out (so to speak).

    This was over 20 years ago, and perhaps since then this has changed, I hope. But, honestly, how is this not power abuse driven sexual assault thinly disguised as the product of transference? And for some reason, no one at that time thought to file a formal grievance, nor did our clinical director take any action, nor was that even in anyone’s awareness. It was uncomfortable for people, but that’s where it stayed, when there could have been so many possible actions to take. These programs are so, so powerful, which is why we’re asking for people to wake up. These things need to be addressed in the open, so that they can be eliminated from practice!

    I had one therapist tell me directly that I was attracted to him and that I should know better than to deny it, given my training. I can assure you that this was not the case, in the slightest. And, in fact, at the time, I’d been with my partner for over 25 years, we’re still happily married, more so than ever after having shared this experience and woke up to it all at the same time. That bonded us even more deeply. So for him to project this, and then try to double-bind and gaslight me that way, is downright criminal, wouldn’t you agree?

    If a male client is being inappropriately sexual with a female therapist, then no, of course she shouldn’t shame him, but she should protect herself, and perhaps suggest a referral? Wouldn’t that be the right message to send, more honest and direct, not to mention self-caring?

    I’ve known plenty of therapists who have crossed that line, themselves, btw.

  • Sounds like you are talking about transference, Shaun. No one should tolerate verbal abuse. Expressing anger isn’t the same as taking it out on someone else, that’s another matter.

    Working in transference is rather dicey, imo, and can lead to all sorts of power dynamics and fuzzy boundaries. I found myself more the target of counter-transference than anything. It was amazing for me to discover what clinicians will assume a client will feel based on their actions. I’ve had therapists actually argue with me about what I was feeling. I think that’s so abusive in a clinical relationship.

    I never went into therapy looking for a surrogate parent. I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and why I was living with so much chronic anxiety, and then, how to do life better, with more clarity, ease, and confidence, so that I could fulfill my life in a way that satisfied me. I needed–or so I believed at the time–a professional who had clarity where I did not.

    Therapy was not only not helpful in this regard, it was the totally wrong focus for what I needed, it turns out. Live and learn.

    Most unfortunately, it actually did do me a great deal of harm, in the end. I had to fix my brain from all that “analysis,” which took me in chronic and crazy-making loops until I was able to reprogram my neural pathways. That was my brand of healing, eventually.

    I say this with all due respect, Shaun, I sincerely hope are not taking this personally, because in no way do I mean it to be. What I express here is all based on my experience. Who knows if our paths had crossed differently and I had actually been your client, somehow, I’d have a different perspective. Maybe I’d be able to say, “But there was this one guy who got it,” I don’t know.

    And despite these conversations, we’ll never know because we’re not in a power relationship. On MIA and in the world at large, we are peers, eye to eye. Were I sitting in your office as a client, this may or may not be the case. What I think is interesting is how subtle yet powerful a shift like that can be, and what a difference that can make in how we present ourselves.

  • I find it helpful to express whatever emotion I’m feeling, including anger of course. I know anger is vilified in the mh world (although it’s interesting because I’ve seen angry clinicians, but that always seems to be ok with them; however when it is from a client–oh boy, look out, here come the projections!). But like it or not, it is a human emotion, and I think it brings clarity and movement to express anger authentically. It is your truth!

  • “Institutions, including universities, have a tiered power structure that is unbalanced to begin with.”

    Yep, right on, Julie. When we can see past this illusion and not buy into the assigned roles of established power hierarchies, then we are waking up. We can transcend these by knowing our own power (knowing our truth), because in reality, it doesn’t matter where we are in the pecking order. People are people, each one of us no one more or less than another.

  • Oldhead, I appreciate this distinction and how they address the issue of change from different orientations. Of course, separate and distinct parts do come together to create a whole.

    I can relate to both of these categories, and then some. Interacting here has taught me a lot about myself and others, been really rich that way because conversations like this do not happen every day in the world. It’s been very helpful for me to process my experience here among others who have had similar experiences–and with interesting differences, as well.

    Although actually *destroying* the system is not my expressed intention, because this is not how I operate, I never considered myself someone focused on destroying something, but rather creating things. As an artist, I have a passion for creativity. (I won’t lie, however–were I to see a wrecking crew going at it, I would not complain, and in fact I would more than likely not only cheer, I would breathe a sigh of relief).

    Still, I am always happy and willing to speak my truth about it as unequivocally as I can, and I will hear what comes back to me, take it from there. It’s always a crap shoot, but I always feel better when I express myself about it, because obviously this is a vital part of change, to speak up and out.

    It also stirs energy, so I know that things manifest from truth-speaking. Speaking my truth in my film changed my life, simply because of the path which the film took from who picked it up, and to where I was invited to show it. Telling the world my story, front and center, generated radical change in my life, this is a direct correlation. No money involved here, just energy, intention, focus, and following a process.

    I believe the two process of creating something new and making obsolete the old work in tandem, that is nature at work. I do my best to express how I feel these old systems have failed us (not just mh but also political, economic, and even educational system to a large degree, etc.), and I’m always ready to share not only my story as a glaring example of how this is so, but also all of my observations from my experience, and how I connect these dots, hoping to give persuasive evidence of how current systems are causing so much harm and damage. I know that more and more people can hear this now because it is so obvious, we are indeed waking up.

    In the meantime, I continue to create my life away from all of this, and that is exactly how the NEW has been happening for me. Not something I planned or calculated or designed, because I would have had no idea how to do that, this was all unknown territory for me, new ground. It all unfolded precisely by following the path away from such toxic corruption. That was the option I took when I was at the crossroads with all of this. I knew it was time to change my life, once and for all. Turned out this required a shift in consciousness, no two ways about it.

    For this, I had to do so much internal work and introspection, really look at what my beliefs had been and how they influenced my getting to such a dark space in my life, and then, of course, I worked to change those beliefs and get myself aligned with a new truth. Took a lot of work and focus, but it’s what I do, for me it’s the way to go, and I love doing this work because it creates change in the most amazing way.

    That’s what gave me an entirely new perspective and experience, and it radically changed my reality, and it took. I’m in an entirely new place now, with saving grace awareness.

    This is all based on what came into my life after the mh industry had failed me so miserably, and they could not exist in the same space. Where I finally got my healing was so vastly the opposite of what is dished out by the mh industry. Healers like myself, energy workers, etc., we already know psychiatry is toxic. It’s why we do what we do. This perspective comes from a heart-based view of humanity (one whole), rather than analytic (categories).

    And I agree, I wouldn’t call it an “alternative” for the same reasons you would not. Instead, I would simply call it “healing,” as in–the real deal. Has absolutely nothing to do with what I learned in graduate school, that was crap, and you’re right, the duality, othering, and marginalizing are built right into it, can’t avoid it in that dynamic.

    What I do is different than this. The core premise being unity consciousness, the opposite of duality. So if we get enough people into their hearts and out of their heads, a new society will come forth with no effort and the old will disappear. That’s a choice everyone has to make for themselves.

    But I very strongly believe that it would change the world, were enough people to begin understanding heart-based unity consciousness. That’s the shift I made, and which I am looking to influence. That’s what my community is all about.

  • I see that Rachel. What I’m balking at is the message from Will and Daniel which you channeled in your post. I would seriously challenge them on this, were I to ever speak with them personally. Certainly I’d like to hear more about what they have to say about this, because I believe that is an important conversation to have. I’m not sure they’re right about this, but who knows at this point? I would hope, at least, that they are wrong. That would be a better reality, imo.

  • I agree that eliminating DSM diagnoses is necessary, if only because they are false, and lead to nothing good. It’s just made up stuff based on an extremely narrow and subjectively-based cultural perspective of humanity; it’s totally bogus and indeed leads to all sorts of misconceptions about people in the most negative ways, and none of it based on anything reasonable or true.

    And of course bigotry and the effects thereof are real and stigma comes from bigotry. By this, we can conclude that the DSM is a book of bigotry, kind of a Bible of Bigotry, if you ask me. So yes, let’s get rid of it. But of course, this will not eliminate bigotry in the world, but it definitely would be the start of a good trend, I believe.

    What I’m most interested in is peoples’ healing, that is my main focus and that is based on who I am as a human being, and how my experiences added up for me. Society has healing to do, without a doubt, and this starts with individuals finding their healing paths. Healing, in this case, I would equate with raising consciousness, which is how we shift our energy and broaden our perspective, so that we are taking in more information for consideration.

    I don’t know how to solve the problem of bigotry and prejudice in the world, but I can do my part in it by being ok with myself, aligned with who I feel I am, walking my talk, all that good stuff. From there, I have good clarity and will see my own path of healing and change. I practice this, my partner practices this, and together we help others find their path to heart healing and inner peace. That is my job, what I do for a living, and also my contribution to the community. I do some stuff for pay, and I also volunteer my time, attention, and energy in a variety of capacities without the expectation of remuneration.

    And from there, we have the power to create a new reality around us, and I imagine this will ripple out one way or another. That’s how energy works, and it’s been working for me for years. My own healing has taught me this, and as I’ve said, much has changed around me as I’ve come to know my sense of innate trust in life–that is, to know my light (what I’ve been talking about above).

    Bigotry is based on fear, and I support others in loving themselves, and practicing self-respect. If we love and respect ourselves, we will not fear others, simply because we do not understand them or they are different, etc. If we can get to the point where we truly love ourselves (which is not what we are taught at all in this toxic society, we are taught to be very hard on ourselves, to the point of deeply cutting self-judgment and painfully harsh guilt if we do not appease others), then the collective will benefit from this in so many ways. It starts with one, then ripples outward, as Steve and I had discussed above.

    Huge task to clean up the world from this mess. This is the best I can do with this at the moment. Should more opportunities present themselves to me to help raise consciousness in the world, I’ll be there.

  • “One challenge I see is that many providers within the system genuinely believe in the model of mental illness, and thus they think that anti-stigma campaigns are important so that people get the help they need.”

    Yes, I’m aware of this, which is where the entire issue of stigma becomes distorted to the point where it becomes dismissed, and I think that is too bad because in its truest form and how it plays here, it is not at all to be dismissed. Imo, it is pivotal to why this all gets so murky.

    I think it’s a matter of walking our talk and embodying integrity. We all do what we can. There are no clear answers, other than living our truth best we know how with our awareness of the moment. That’s always my intention, each and every day.

    As we’ve agreed upon, change happens whether we like it or not, that is the nature of life. Best to embrace it and go with it. Otherwise, could be a bumpier ride than necessary. Resist the change or allow it? That is the question. Most certainly, there are greater forces and energies at work beyond our physical being-ness.

  • Thanks, Shaun and yes, it’s been a bullying world for generations.

    With respect to the mental health industry, we’re talking about professional bullying. People make money doing this, at the expense of those who are seeking help and support, often from the effects of family bullying/stigmatizing/ostracizing.

    So it is a triple whammy of adding fuel to the trauma fire: betrayal, deceit, vampirism. It’s quite brutal, as anyone who has experienced this would testify. We’re not talking about merely schoolyard bullies, we’re talking about drunk with power people who can act rather sociopathic if mirrored critically. It is really scary to be on the receiving end of this, and it is pure sabotage. I guarantee you, it cannot be imagined. It has to be felt first hand to get the impact of it.

    My point, always, though, is that this can be remedied with the right kind of healing. And yes, the school of thought from which I’m coming is the one that says we create our life experience from the inside out, this is how it works.

    Not everyone agrees, many people still believe that we create by going outside of ourselves and manipulating others; whereas I maintain we have more control internally than we’ve been led to believe. There’s a reason for that, but that’s yet another discussion.

    For me, personally, this is a supremely empowering perspective, because it is how I took my power back to create my own life my way. That depended on what I believed about myself. This is what I had to transform internally, following the utter confusion and disorientation of severe psych drugs withdrawal coupled with extreme stigma and the inevitable stonewalling which comes with that, from the people whom not only I trusted, but who at one time were my colleagues.

    Guess what I learned? Time to get away from the toxic environment. Made all the difference, and I started to get my head on straight again, and I did my healing work, which was profound.

    Not an easy journey, but this awakening changed my life because I changed my inner landscape, so to speak, and I started to align with my natural innate power again. The evidence is my life, which transformed amazingly over the years, as I did this deep inner work. That’s always my message. Otherwise, we give our power away to the abusers when we identify as their “victims.”

    It’s a tricky one, and I guess controversial, but revolutionary change like this is always a one-step-at-a-time proposition and it is a must to be open enough to explore new perspectives. Otherwise, what exactly do we expect to change? We’re talking about unfamiliar territory here, for most people. I like to give it time to unfold.

  • “It’s not that easy to do – it’s something I work on every single day, and it’s literally taken years to get to where I have a pretty good handle on not letting others’ attitudes and beliefs affect how I see myself.”

    No, it’s not, but it is so rich, empowering, and effective, why not go for it? Me too. Plus, Steve, you and I have had different journeys, we have different spirits, personalities, and processes. It’s different for everyone. For me, this is a lifestyle. I walk around pretty darn conscious these days. It’s a trip! New life, that’s my point.

  • “Being denied housing or having medical concerns ignored or having one’s employment options curtailed due to a “mental health diagnosis” is very real and isn’t something that attitude can change.”

    I disagree with that last part, I do believe internal shifts can open doors to new pathways and opportunities, because it is a matter of where we choose to focus when we face obstacles, even the most extreme ones.

    Attitude = perspective, level of patience, deception vs. integrity, fear vs. trust, willingness to learn, face the unknown, embody humility, ability to surrender to the process, etc. These are malleable traits, we can each grow as we go–although this is why I say the “ego” can be out of control: if we are attached to our ego (necessary outcomes, needing to be right, needing to control others, needing to stay in power), then we will not grow in this regard and our lessons will repeat and repeat and repeat until we’re ready to wake up to something about ourselves.

    This is where I point to the mh system and practices as the best example of stagnation and non-growth, which is not a judgment, I believe it’s truly a fact, which is why these discussions are happening. This is dangerous!

    I do not like how this field teaches people to address their obstacles in life because I see a lot of people feeling very stuck, as I know I once did before I learned how to expand my consciousness and I discovered new perspectives which is exactly what did the trick for me and allowed me to heal as I did.

    No, it’s not about thinking “positive,” per se; it is about seeing the light on things—that is, where do we have power? vs. getting stuck in the illusion of powerlessness. Can we look toward the light rather than insist on shadow-staring? Shadow begets shadow, and if you stare at it long enough, everything will eventually appear that way, even the light. Remember Plato’s The Cave?

    Are we to be victims of life, or creators of it? We choose, and to me, that’s an attitude which can make all the difference.

    It’s also about learning to come back to center after a stressful experience, which many people do not know how to do, they just carry the stress around looking for what to do with it, how to get rid of it. That can be a frustrating inner battle, to say the least. I know this, too, from experience.

    Until we learn to center ourselves and release energy, or detach from that which is clearly not good for us, things can snowball as we repeat bad patterns without knowing why. Some people have been way off center for a long time and have somehow gotten used to it. I like for people to feel it, so that they can heal it. It’s not comfortable at first, and I’m supportive through that process, always holding a space of encouragement and safety. We’re often so much stronger than we think–or than we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves.

    Once we learn to come back to center (which can eventually take simply a few moments, with diligent practice), then we have that very powerful tool for life, and things can change drastically for the better for us. I am living proof of this, and I have many videos from over the years as testament to how this worked for me, as well as my program, which has been a work-in-progress for years. I think all healing work is “work-in-progress.” It is pure creativity.

    In the healing work I did, I learned all about clearing energy, owning our stories, energy boundaries, etc.–all that I did not learn in my MFT training, nowhere near any of this, and turned out to be vital. Made me not only a better counselor but also a better person, clearer from day to day.

    Because I learned how to LET GO of things, and then how to use my life experience as the indicators of my life purpose and soul growth, I have energy for actually creating what I desire in life, rather than wringing my hands day after day and year after year because of “what happened to me.”

    Nor did I look for saviors. Teachers, yes, but I do firmly believe that we are our own guides, healers, gurus, and saviors. In the end, no one can do it for us but ourselves.

    Good teachers can help point the way, but the idea is to never become dependent on the teacher. We will always grow past them, into our own person, if the healing is worth its salt. Otherwise, it becomes just another power-relationship, and we all know about those.

    Took me years to learn this, apply it, and integrate it into my life, but I have and so has my partner, and this is what I teach others in my practice and “healing academy.” This is what it all amounted to for me.

    “So yes, we have to start with ourselves, but then we have to expand it out into the rest of the world.”

    Naturally! I think once we make internal shift, it ripples without effort. That is the nature of energy. Change ourselves, change the world. That’s a given.

  • “It’s good that everyone is so united in their understanding of the “stigma” scam”

    Yes, you can include me in this, the anti-stigma campaigns as they are, are scams.

    “and that…“stigma” is external prejudice, not something to “overcome” internally.”

    I’m obviously the dissenter here. While we can perhaps inspire others and teach by example, we do not have the power to change others, only ourselves. And while I believe that it’s been established that Ghandi never did say exactly “Be the change you want to see in the world,” I do think it is a good guideline and I go by it.

    We’re talking major core changes here, do you think everyone’s going to be on board with that? Most people are scared of change! Even the ones that call for it and would benefit from it, then turnaround and resist it at the same time. I’ve seen this repeatedly over the years. We all have the capacity to grow in our awareness every single day.

  • There is hope, if people can know the power of their own light.

    This following clip is not mine, I just went to YouTube and did a search on “The power of our own light,” and this popped up, a mere 2 minutes of inspiration. It is a quote I dearly love and believe in, and in fact, it is at the end of Voices That Heal. But I’d never heard of this film, and I think the context is perfect. Makes it human.

  • No worries, Steve, I get from where you are coming. I appreciate the clarity and it seems we’re talking about the same thing here.

    My general thesis around all of this is that the stigma comes directly from the system, and it spreads from there. And that is a big problem because it makes people sick. The fact that the system stonewalls, avoids, and dismisses grievances makes it so toxic I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

  • Which, yes, I completely agree with your point. Although I still say that we have power over how we perceive ourselves, regardless of anything, and that makes all the difference.

    We’ve talked about how we’re all “weirdoes,” and we can own our uniqueness this way. Many ways to look at this. But as I’ve said, when projected by the system, it is damning, and that is deeply felt and experienced, and it can really fuck a person up in many ways.

    And when I was first diagnosed, I had no issue with it, I was one of the one’s relieved to know this and that there was some kind of direction to go with it, to manage it so I could get on with my life. This was 1982, not a terribly big deal in my community.

    And it worked for a while, with limitations (living with side-effects). I was open about it, though, made no bones about it, continued to be self-responsible and I worked and went to school, had my coping strategies for anxiety. I felt no judgment or stigma whatsoever, had no negative impact on my self-respect.

    That began later in life, starting in grad school, late 90’s, as I’ve often said, which is when all of this began to come to light for me. I went on to discover it layer by layer. In the end, regardless of what I did to heal or get clarity or stand up for myself–or in any way actually embody my self-respect–I got clobbered one way or another because it is standard procedure to punish certain people, I’ll just put it that way. The independently minded ones, I guess you’d say.

    That was the case with me, and I had my integrity, I was not a trickster. This is so hard to describe and explain. Sorry this is long, but what you say is loaded for me, oldhead, I’ve thought tons about this very issue, based on what I went through. This was the core issue for me.

    So I’d say it isn’t so much the words but the energy and intention behind them, which is easily felt, especially by people like me who are sensitive to energy. The reality is that the damage has been done, and what I’m focused on is reversing the damage, and HEALING. This is what I put forth, regardless of whether it is healing the damage done by the drugs or the damage done by the stigma.

    Stigma is damaging, it’s not a matter of “hurt feelings” or “taking things personally” or “being overly sensitive” or “caring what others think,” etc. It is seriously dispiriting and it affects the nervous system, especially when it comes rapid fire, everywhere you turn. It’s an easy cause of eventual suicide, and certainly suicide ideation. At the very least, it causes chronic anxiety and depression. How could it not? It translates to powerlessness.

    For me, stigma was exactly the reason I had to do backflips just to make a living, and it shouldn’t have been that way. I stepped up repeatedly, and was treated very differently than other “peers.” I got stigmatized for my history, and then for healing, coming and going. That was the main issue of my journey, that which created the most sabotage in my life. No one saw my heart! And that really mattered, because it meant I was the target of mass projections. Trying to figure me out is not how to get to know me. Listening to my heart is. This is what I try do with everyone, listen to their hearts and spirits, not try to dissect their brain. I believe it’s why I’m a good healer.

    I got over what happened after doing healing work as a result of this, and I moved on with things, and found my affinity as we always have the potential to do after disappointments, and I repeat that often so that people don’t give up hope, which I understand how easily that can happen, given all we know.

    Some of the statements I read on here seem to imply some level of hopelessness, and I try to speak up when I see that, for what I think would be obvious reasons.

  • Nice FreeDom, and it is indeed time for a change, so that the one who follows his/her own heart, is, perhaps, the example of change, and then others might see that this is the way to liberation from oppression, to individuate and claim one’s truth as their guide, rather than the need to “belong,” which is when we try to appease the truth of others over our own–square peg in round hole, simple enough.

    When we let go of one thing, we’re leaving room for something better. I believe that’s a fact of life, if we are open to seeing this.

    Wandering alone in the wilderness? That wasn’t my fate at all, I have many communities and strong healthy relationships with people who respect the journey I took. We all follow our hearts, that’s what we have in common, and where we feel our connection. We have complementary and compatible creative processes.

    Other than that, we’re all regular human beings, like anyone else.

  • Ok, thanks for the response(s)–all of you.

    First, Steve, your comment above about “brain damage” got my attention, and I felt this was significant in the conversation.

    Then, when I saw this–

    “It’s kind of idiotic to create a group called “weirdos” and then say, “There is great stigma against weirdos. We need to treat weirdos with respect and offer them our support despite their weirdness.”

    Considering the emphasis on the word “weirdos” here and given that we had JUST been talking about this and how it’s projected so pejoratively, and I had also just invited your feedback to the clip I had posted—which came as the result of a program like the one being discussed here, which of course is why I explained that I had eschewed it, although not for these reasons I’m seeing here, but I don’t want to go into that now—to see this before you actually replied to me on the other blog made me think. And, other things you’ve said or seemed to imply over the years here, but I’m not going to dig for those. What I’m putting out here is enough, this is present time.

    I’ve often said the communication on here is confusing, and then I see others saying the same thing. I don’t know, this gaslighting thing is tricky, and I believe we’ve all been swimming in it at times. I can still be a bit unclear about what is being communicated initially, so I check it out, like I did above. Seeing this was like a 1-2 punch, so I reacted from my gut.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever been on that side of social abuse but trust me when I say it is significantly traumatic, it gets into the bloodstream, so to speak, and challenges our most core spirit identity; post-traumatic-mental-health-system-stress (ptmhss) is what I called it, and it was a painful healing.

    I appreciate everyone’s heads up and I hope my response clarifies where I’m coming from.

    I do get impatient with the direction these dialogues take, however, which is why I said they are played—that’s imo, of course, although I’m sure I’m not alone. I find myself getting exasperated on here for the same reasons repeatedly, which best I can say about that now is loss of focus. I think what I believe is important to focus on is different than most on here, that’s what it has felt like.

    I believe the mh system is a destructive entity and I think it’s specifically because it is a socially bullying organization. The projections and gaslighting fly back & forth faster than bullets from an M14. There is just no two ways about it, and that’s that as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s clear as a bell.

  • Hmm, well, considering our previous discussion in the “why men commit suicide” blog, I take it you’re not a fan of my work, perhaps not even of my person, based on this and also what you expressed to me above (seriously?!)–which has kind of been apparent to me for a while, but I was hoping that we could get past personality differences and still find points of commonality, for the sake of this “cause,” (whatever it is, because based on this collective, I’m really not at all clear, even after all these years of reading and participating, I just know my own objectives). But I see now that this is impossible.

    Which is fine with me, all of it, but the method by which this information is all coming about is rather confusing to me. Anything but direct! I fail to see how any of this is productive in any way, shape or form. In fact, I’d call it DEstructive.

    I think after 6+ years of posting here, my time is done. I’ve said that before and came back, often because someone reached out to me and asked me to comment on something. Also because I felt I still had something to express here. Honestly, I can’t think of anything left. I believe all these discussions are played–to.the.ground.

    Ironic—despite my over 30+ years’ textbook journey through the mental health industry inside and out, I don’t fit in here! That’s kind of interesting to me and I guess it’s good information for me along this journey. So many paradoxes along the way, this is just yet one more. Fascinating.

  • “If you have taken psych drugs long enough you may need a tiny amount to survive”

    I can’t speak for everyone and, honestly, I wouldn’t know why some can ditch them altogether and others cannot–given our individual natures and processes–but just for balance here, I was on so many of these psych drugs for 20 years, up to 9 during the last year of this, including 2 benzos (Ativan and Klonopin) and a host of other neurotoxins. It was a carousel of drug “cocktails” for two decades, forever being adjusted.

    And I’ve been drug-free for 16 years now. It was a bumpy ride, to say the least, and I had to find competent healing from other sources, but that’s in the past and I’ve since gone through a transformative process. Getting off the drugs allowed me to do deep core healing which brought me into balance with myself and allowed me to get on with my life in a way that was satisfying and fulfilling to me.

    I don’t know what is right for anyone other than myself, but this message that one might be stuck on these drugs for any reason kind of bugs me, because there is no reason that this has to necessarily be the case, if we do not want it to be.

  • Steve, if you do watch the clip, I’d be interested to hear your feedback. It’s only a small fraction of the film before we get into our personal stories, but it sets the stage via a filmed discussion among those of us who went through the “mental health system journey,” full-throttle. We’re not all of like-mind nor did we have a script of any kind, this is all present time authentic speaking from our hearts. I’m always curious if, above and beyond anything else, people can hear our hearts.

    We do speak about many things discussed here, at different levels of awareness, we are at different stages in our lives, and somewhat culturally diverse, although interestingly enough (considering the topic of this article), 4 of us are middle-aged men. The cast was not planned, either, I sent an email to 30 people in a speakers’ bureau of “peer specialists/educators,” what have you, that particular population, and these are the folks who responded–literally what the universe brought to me, with no calculation or manipulation on my part.

    I was one of these “peers” at the time, although I was independent of the system, had long-since healed from the psych drugs debacle, and was working as a healer and an actor.

    I didn’t mind the “peer” identity at the time, although later I caught on to the implication of it. Someone told me about this program, and so I went back into the system (thinking it really was “advocacy,”–turned out to be the grand illusion) to tell my story to various audiences around San Francisco, including at my own graduate school, where I did my MFT training. It was a GOLDEN opportunity!

    And I did it with a vengeance, really challenged everyone with my truth. Most freedom I’d felt in years, it was so incredibly healing and empowering to do this. And it felt good to tell my own story, and own it!

    I’ve since woken up to what these so-called “advocacy” agencies really are (advocates for the system, “don’t rock the boat” activists, which makes no sense to me, that’s totally an oxymoron), but alas, I was so incredibly lucky that I was able to make a feature film using their platform, to film these stories and to have this new conversation. I’ve used this clip in presentations when I was doing that kind of work. That’s been a while, though, I’ve put the film to rest and am focused elsewhere in my life.

    So, this does come from one of those “so-called” anti-stigma campaigns and we’re all working through various levels of programming. I don’t like them, either, in the end, and when I caught on, they gave me the usual treatment, which is how I discovered their hypocrisy and true agenda, to maintain status quo. But it was an avenue through which a lot of very heartfelt voices could come together to speak a new truth–at least for us, at the time, it was.

    Regardless of any of that, we were trying to communicate in a way that people could hear us, true and real and in the moment. Over the years, as I shared the film, some would hear what was at the heart of all this, while others seemed to be focused on other specific issues which came up for them, which is fine, I think that’s to be expected.

    But I would be curious to know what it is you are hearing here, I know you have good insights and you know these issues well. It would be interesting for me to hear what you think, after all these years of not thinking about this film. Not even sure what I think, I’d have to watch the whole thing again and see how I feel about what I was saying back then! Lots of things have changed since 2011, naturally.

  • I’m glad we agree that being one’s own person does not in the slightest equal “maladjusted,” despite how threatened or uncomfortable the “norm” might feel as a result of someone marching to the beat of their own drummer. Yes, that’s an extremely oppressive message, and quite harmful. Let’s remember the topic of this article.

  • Btw, here’s a 10 minute clip of the film I mention, Voices That Heal. This was filmed in 2011 and we have all evolved in our lives since then. I began to post here shortly after having made this film, and have since learned a great deal. I believe–at least, I hope–that I’ve refined my thinking in many ways, thanks to everyone’s courageous truth-speaking and sharing on here. So a collective thank you for that.

    I’m the guy who tells the story of the therapist that said, “Take your meds and don’t make waves” to a group member, who was a gentleman of about 60 years old, really sweet and smart guy, who wanted to file a grievance. Stuff like that is what inspired me to tell my story, regardless of how vulnerable it made me feel. This shit has got to change.

  • I’m glad you put the word “successful” in quotes because, indeed, I believe this is open to interpretation. What exactly does it mean to be “successful” in a “sick society,” as it were? Success at what, and by what means? And that’s an open question, subject to discussion because I’m sure there would be diverse perspectives on this.

    However, succeeding at liberating one’s self—inside and out—would, in my estimation, not need to be qualified with quotation marks because I believe one can feel whether or not they are truly free, that is a personal assessment to be made internally, and it is quite apparent when it manifests. It is a powerful and unmistakable feeling.

    The more we feel the imprisoning and extreme double-binds of a dysfunctional society, the more potential we have to know our own light. That is quite a journey to take, out of the dark night of the soul. I believe this is what we’re talking about when referring to taking one’s own life. I’d say they’re in a dark night of the soul.

    When people say “oh but they were happy, had it all” or “I thought things were getting better for them,” stuff like that, I’d say the one who took his or her life more than likely felt extremely invisible. How could they not? Obviously, they were not feeling free, and no one around them picked up on it.

    “It is my hope that places like MIA can encourage ‘creative maladjustment’ in those who have begun to see what’s really going on.”

    Personally, I don’t feel maladjusted, never did. I adjusted to everything happening to me, albeit extremely painful and confusing. I was responsibly on my path, following protocol. Anyone who has ever been in a group with me knows that I take healing seriously and pour myself into the process. It’s why I do what I do for a living, I have a passion for this. The healing process, alone, is amazingly creative.

    I’m also a filmmaker, actor, musical performer and director. All of this sprang from my healing, my passions suddenly began to manifest in the most creative way. This has guided my life since my dark night, and it’s been the most amazing process to navigate this with trust, and a bit of awe.

    Makes me extremely grateful for what I went through, to discover myself this way, but it was much harder than necessary, because of…well…how can I put this? Because of a bunch of assholes I encountered along the way. I’m talking about the myriad professionals who came into my path along this journey. And I use that term to be as gentle as I can be and still be honest with my feelings about it, because, really, I’d want to use the word “murderous.”

    Were I to be really neutral about it, I’d say, “seriously narcissistic, self-absorbed, and ego-driven” (even more than “profit-driven,” the ego issues were what I found to be seriously out of control. And that can be dangerous in any kind of so-called “health care” environment).

    And I say this is neutral, because when you apply the meanings of these terms as they are generally understood, it fits to a tee. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. Sorry, but it is what it is.

    When I tried to take my own life, it was because I had just started my withdrawal and that particular part of my healing–which was unfamiliar territory and I was doing it responsibly and under supervision—got really rough when symptoms of the withdrawal began to manifest, and it was a nightmare. I was authentic, present, reporting everything, letting my emotions be what they were, and listening carefully to what I was being told.

    And that last part was a problem, because by listening carefully to what I was being told at that particular time that my brain was an open sponge and trying to heal itself, I internalized some of the most heinous messages a human being can imagine, about myself.

    I’ll spare you the details here, but it was grotesque what they projected onto me, repeatedly and impulsively, directly from their triggers and filtered through their own shadow, with no remorse or self-responsibility. I’d try to argue and push back, and it would get exponentially worse, right off the bat. It was truly terrifying.

    THAT was the real toxicity, more than the drugs. Took me a while to wake up because I was so disoriented, and in the meantime, it was severe and excruciating to be made to believe that I was some “maladjusted” weirdo who would never be accepted as anything else, no matter what.

    And I don’t mind being a weirdo, I think we’re all weirdoes, if we are to be authentic. Who wants to be “the same?” That would be not only oppressive, it would be boring as hell.

    But when they communicate this from inside the system, it is with absolutely no humanity, completely soulless, and quite damning. That’s how I would put it because this is how it felt.

    And even after I had adjusted to professional disenfranchisement (because I won a lawsuit) by creating my own successful business, and then made a film from inside the system, after having detached from it (I went back in voluntarily to speak my truth, ended up with Voices That Heal), and even after I had become a successful stage actor in the Bay Area, thanks to using creativity as a healing tool, do you know that my last case manager/public system “psycho-therapist” did, indeed, write in his notes that I had an “adjustment” disorder?

    Not only had this never, ever been an issue with me (I worked full time and got degrees and fostered a long-term relationship–which is now a marriage–while living with Axis 1 Diagnosis and on psych drugs), but in addition, this was YEARS after coming off drugs, after profoundly good healing work, and after all I had accomplished in the most visible way. I was simply going here for transitional purposes, it was all over my notes that I was attempting to transition from disability. I was showing him my work.

    Wow, can we say projection? And worse yet—SABOTAGE? How is adjusting to and overcoming obstacles and succeeding unequivocally an “adjustment disorder?” That’s just plain weird, for real.

    This is why your statement gave me pause, personally, although I cannot speak for all. Good stuff, though, as always, Steve. I do appreciate what you are saying here, and I agree wholeheartedly, that it is about finding one’s self-respect. The system and its players do everything they can to undermine this, and it works unfortunately.

    Were we to find our power in taking back our self-respect (which is ours to begin with), then perhaps the vampires will starve.

    Moral of the story: Don’t Feed the Vampires!

  • I’d go deeper than merely “very challenging” and “potentially unsatisfying.” Imo, that is an extreme understatement.

    As far as connectedness goes, seems we have a choice to be either co-dependently enmeshed and take the bs, or practice self-care and self-respect, only to face being alienated and ostracized.

    In a toxic system, there is usually one main extremely manipulative controller–the one who is abusing their power rather using it for the greater good–and then all the minions/gatekeepers who fear losing either 1) their job, 2) “approval” 3) their life 4) some other drastic loss if they detach from the group. It’s a cult-like dynamic, where one is punished, shamed, and marginalized for not conforming to the dysfunctional norm, which would basically be about protecting the abuser. With or without consciousness. It’s the program, and it’s based purely on fear. In a toxic system, this is what its members learn, by example.

    This is what I’m talking about, and I believe it is frightfully common. In fact, I think I’d call it the “mainstream norm,” at this point. It’s certainly the example from politics these days. And, I’d say it applies to the “mh” system.

    This is what causes despair, hopelessness and perceived powerlessness–when we are punished and socially bullied for being simply ourselves, and there seems to be no way out of it.

    Well, there is a way out of this, but people have to start knowing how to cope when rejected by a group because they do not wish to be sheeple. That’s courageous and authentic, but a community can make that extremely painful for a person–to the point of causing undue suffering–if only from their own fear-based projections, aka scapegoating.

    So back to connectedness–who would want to “connect” with that kind of society? Yuck. I believe this is to what Mr. Krishnamurti was referring when said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

    So, if you’re feeling like an outlier in sick society, thank GOD! I’d say you’re on your way to healing. I call that “feeling your light,” and it can save your life.

  • I’d venture to guess it has something to do with feeling invisible, hopeless, and utterly disconnected. Having one’s life force energy sucked dry is what usually leads to these feelings, from what I’ve experienced and witnessed in life. Lack of heart and soul nourishment can lead to despondence and lack of worthiness.

    I wouldn’t limit this to why men become suicidal, however. I’d say this is why anyone would start thinking about killing themselves. Social vampirism is an equal opportunity killer.

  • Rachel, I can’t tell if this is really your belief or if you’re being ironic. Are you saying that if someone is not abusive, then, in reality, they are not caring? And if someone is not abusive toward another, then it is because they don’t care about that person? Seems to me that’s what you are implying, although please do correct me if I’m misinterpreting something here. Your statement is very powerful, but it gives me pause.

    My first impulse is to disagree with this, because abuse comes from fear (e.g. of abandonment, and other issues) and where there is authentic unconditional love, there is no fear; they cannot co-exist as one cancels out the other–the way that when a light is turned on in a room, there is no longer darkness there, that cannot be. That’s my belief and perspective, in any event.

    Although for the sake of dialogue and the current beliefs and programs running, I’d say there’s gray area here, it’s not necessary so black & white. In our particular culture, the relationship between abuse and love/caring is complex and multi-layered. That would be an enlightening–and, perhaps, liberating–conversation to have. I imagine people have all sorts of diverse opinions and beliefs regarding this. Thanks for speaking your truth.

  • Someone Else, very inspirational, you are so speaking truth it made my eyes water. We are, indeed, experiencing a mass awakening, how can we not be? And yeah, we’re witnessing it right here.

    “There are millions online now “waking up,” who are learning that our society’s problems are caused by evil systems, like the psychopharmacology/medical/religious industrial complexes’ sins and crimes against humanity. The sins of the fiscally irresponsible, war mongering and profiteering, globalist banksters, who you “mental health professionals” are actually slaves to, and were miseducated by, are being aired all over the internet, too.”

    I guess some would perhaps still see this as “radical,” “extreme,”
    “conspiracy-related” and the like, but imo, it is perfectly stated and *absolute* truth. This is my perception of it, these so-called “systems” which rule the world. I think those pejorative words are actually programs to keep the truth hidden. These are unfounded judgments, imo.

    And while “evil” may even be a word of judgment, I believe it can still justifiably apply here, in all good faith, because we’re talking about institutions which basically bilk people for all they’ve got, cause tremendous suffering (and have for generations) because they, in reality, thrive and depend on the suffering of others (for profit of course), and actually present themselves as “helpful, supportive, healing,” yadayada–when, in fact, we know these are all based on all kinds of oppression and vampirism. First, they create the suffering, then they exploit it. I do think people get this now, I’d tend to guess we’re pretty much all feeling it one way or another in this day and age.

    I think we want to do better, which is why the awakening is happening. I believe therein lies the key to change, and it’s radical because it begins with shifting consciousness, waking up. It’s in everyone to discover what this means for themselves.

    Shout out to the commenters, and also to the authors who created the space for this, set the energy with their words, and then sat back and allowed the conversation to unfold naturally, trusting the process. Really outstanding example, I believe.

    I think this is an exciting and perhaps breakthrough discussion, and an example of great shift in present time. I was on the dubious side, but alas, things unfolded in a surprising way this time. Nice!

  • “I can see why many don’t believe reform is possible. The power structure is too hierarchical and patriarchal. I feel a bit dejected at the moment. This is BS.”

    Kudos, Shaun, on your awakening! Excellent work, and I mean that most sincerely. I imagine that the feeling of dejection will eventually transmute its way into more of a feeling of empowerment and passion to help usher in sorely needed change.

    Now spread the word. BS, indeed. I feel a sigh of relief.

  • “It looks to me like those in charge are simply cowardly and unable to deal with their own emotions. If so, they have no business claiming to be in a “helping profession.” If you can’t handle anger (and other strong emotions), you’re not going to be much help to anyone.”

    Yes, tell this to the very last and final case manager/therapist I ever had before finally saying adios to the system in a “client” role–who said to me once, “If you keep getting angry then that will just cause me to distance myself.”

    There ought to be a law against this. This is a therapist? Anger was a symptom, not a human response, each and every time. I believe this would make a person very sick, were they to comply with this oppression and not know better.

    What I did at that point was to tell him that he’s way out of line and if he doesn’t know how to understand emotions and ask appropriate questions and can only sit in defensive judgment, then this is a complete waste of my time. By then, I had had it with this crap. I then requested my case notes, and that was that.

    I walked away and I felt suddenly free of the “mental health” system burden. When I read my case notes, all I could see was his shadow, projected straight onto me.

    What a shame-based field this is. That’s what makes me angry about it.

    How, exactly, is any of this, in the slightest way, “healing?” It is the essence of dehumanizing!

  • When I was working for voc rehab as a client-turned-staff, they were accusing me of all sorts of things, totally falsely, and I did so many things to attempt dialogue–I responded to their reprimand in writing, requesting a dialoguing before signing anything (because I disagreed with their crazy lies), and they got madder and madder and continued to punish and intimidate me, and refused to help me transfer out of there to another agency. They were angry that I was reaching out in order to attempt getting clarity on anything! They just couldn’t believe I had the audacity to simply want a meeting with management. Who was I to express myself?

    They were atrocious, and I wound up suing them because they simply would not talk to me. After being fired, I requested a meeting for closure, and the CEO wrote me and said, “I don’t have to talk to you, I’m under no obligation,” (seriously), after which I filed a grievance with the appropriate agency, and they made them take a meeting with me, if only for closure.

    I eventually sued at EEOC and won, and even then they did not change their Dickensian ways, and they ended up closing eventually, having lost their funding.

    These folks CHOSE not to dialogue, CHOSE not to change, and instead, CHOSE to close their doors. Gaslighting, stonewalling, avoiding, defensive–yes, that is the standard. Dialogue? Listening? Honesty? Fairness? What’s that? I know it seems so over the top and preposterous, yet it is the exact truth.

    Next story: Years after graduating, I worked for few months as a co-facilitator of a group at the grad school from which I got my MA in counseling psychology. In this group, more than anything, the students complained about the fear they had bringing up any issues with their professors, who of course, were psychotherapists. They described them as avoidant, manipulative, and shaming. It was surreal to sit there and hear all of this.

    Honestly, it took me years to finally grasp the extremely profound extent of this pig-headedness when it came to the non-communication, lack of self-responsibility and extreme lack of regard for others which came from this field. I just couldn’t fathom it. I come from a different reality, a bit more respect than this.

    After 20+ years in or around this field one way or another, I have tons of stories like this.

    Wtf? is all I want to know.

  • Very well said. There are a lot of “fantasies” which I believe many of us are ready to let go of–for example, that there can be any reform in the “mental health” industry. I think it’s quite obvious what happens in these “dialogues.”

    Not to be a naysayer here, which is not my usual style, but “it’s gone too far” is a good way to put it, and yes, the lying has been over the top. Time to clean up this mess, for the sake of the greater good.

    Although I do agree with the premise of this article, that being non-emotional is really an illusion. Transparency is truth and emotions do, indeed, inform us in critical ways. But it’s hard to contain in a group of very passionate people when they are also rightfully angry about injustice which has yet to be remedied, so more power to you!

  • Yes, although no one can force others to practice tolerance and respect. Starts from within, we practice it first on ourselves, then on others, then we become the examples.

    Calling out intolerance and disrespect on an institutional level is also a good strategy for taking steps to make change, except it’s only a beginning step. That’s when the scapegoating either begins or deepens. Still, it is truth so this is where courage comes in.

    The whole process of shifting the paradigm can make a person feel kinda crazy, but this is not a projection, it’s a human feeling and experience, which I’d consider to be “normal” because it’s an inherent part of change. It’s not terrible and it’s not a “condition,” but more so, a state of confusion and disorientation that would be quite natural while core changes are happening. So what? It will pass. And in the meantime, one can learn a lot of really cool stuff that will serve well, and then eventually things come together in a new way. That’s called “transformation.”

    Feeling crazy is part of it, I don’t see how anyone can get away with being part of change without going off center a few times in the process. Big deal, it happens to everyone. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be human.

  • “…why do we need a concept of “mental illness” …?”

    That’s a great question. My response would be because it is a projection through which people can cast their shadow onto another so they do not have to own it themselves and feel it in their own bodies. Scapegoating is so much more convenient.

    Plus, a lot of people seem to have a deep aversion to differences in personality because it takes them out of their comfort zone. And rather than to live and let live, they choose to judge and stigmatize out of fear (again, of their own shadow) and it becomes a treacherous game of social persecution through marginalization.

    A major part of my healing was practicing not identifying with the projection. That was an extremely powerful component in my awakening. There’s a whole other Self underneath all that “labeling and drugging” crap.

  • “We don’t have to clobber each other over the head…”

    Honestly, there seems to be a great deal of disparity around here (and in general, I think) regarding what constitutes “clobbering.” In addition, there are many ways of “clobbering,” including ways which are subtle and insidious, not always overt. Plus, what we witness as opposed to experience first hand can be fraught with projection. Calling out abuse, in and of itself, can get one clobbered by the entire group, in a dysfunctional system–which is what would make it systemically toxic.

    I’d suggest we begin by not “clobbering” ourselves, for any reason. I think that will minimize the chance that we step on others’ toes inadvertently. I believe that is very healing, when we give ourselves permission to love & respect ourselves, first. Then, not only are we more able extend it to others authentically, but we are less likely to get triggered in the first place because our self-respect overpowers outside opinion.

    “Listen to each others hearts beyond the words.”

    Yes, I agree, and with all respect, Monica, I would like to elaborate a bit because I love this, but I’ve become aware that it is not easy, sometimes, because of how we’re programmed in the first place.

    It can take some practice to listen with one’s heart in present time after a long time of having to “figure things out,” which is where our brains become programmed in how they receive and process data/energy.

    It’s one of the reasons I question long-term psychotherapy. I remember what it felt like to have “therapy brain,” is what I used to call it–non-stop mind chatter, always trying to resolve this and that, exhausting my mind and draining my energy, keeping me going in loops.

    Listening with our hearts requires quieting the inner chatter, first, not filtering the information through anything but curiosity and interest in what the other person is saying.

    When you’re looking for “proof” of something to match your agenda, you will not hear a person’s heart. They have a story to tell, and every single story matters, as told by the creator of that story, meaning the one who lived it. I truly believe this is without exception, if we are to enjoy at least universal respect.

  • “Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are somehow different or odd from the norm (but completely understandable human responses when the true circumstances for their emergence are understood) are NOT ‘symptoms.'”

    I agree that they are not “symptoms” but thoughts/feelings/behaviors that don’t fit the norm are not necessarily anything other than authentic. Everyone has their unique process, that would be the diversity. Calling them “odd” sets up a social hierarchy based on marginalization. Needing to fit in or gain approval from the norm is what is overwhelmingly stressful. Being authentically one’s self, despite the norm, is what liberates a person. Dare to be different. It is not only courageous, but it is what leads to change. In fact, I’d say it IS the change!

  • That’s awesome, Shaun. Indeed, flexibility in thinking is a very helpful trait to embody.

    Well, I think inevitably we awaken thanks to others, for I believe we all play a role with each other in this regard, whether we know it or not. Often it is unconscious, I believe. Sometimes, it is by inadvertently triggering another with our truth, that’s always a golden opportunity for more clarity and shifting. In my practice, I call these “spiritual contracts,” which always have a purpose. Fascinating stuff!

  • Shaun, thanks for the thorough response. Like I said, I do get how these mechanisms work and how co-dependence can blind us to our own needs and deservedness. And, indeed, in a society where emotional abuse (which is what I’m really talking about here) is such the norm and at this point, seems to be woven into the fabric of everyday living, it can be really hard to spot and identify. Calling it out can be dangerous, which is exactly why I call it toxic. No boundaries, coming or going, can be ever so challenging!

    And indeed, I agree that social and political norms have created an epidemic feeling of powerlessness. That is the nature of oppression, and how it succeeds.

    So thinking about it now, I’d say it’s about knowing exactly where our power is at all times. I do believe we carry this with us inside, but trauma can separate us from this. Gaslighting, especially, can cause complete disorientation of sense of self, because there is so much vagueness and trickery involved, conscious deceit for the purpose of feeling the illusion of “power.”

    And I call it an illusion in this case because not only is it contingent upon lying and purposeful misrepresentation, but also it is based on having power over another person, rather than power in one’s own life, to make their desires manifest.

    This is where I say a lot of people don’t realize that someone in their vicinity is purposely trying to make them feel unworthy and value-less, to inhibit their confidence by always calling into question their personal reality. That will keep a person tethered and dependent for a long time.

    The idea is to not believe what others say about you while fostering positive self-beliefs, which is a core shift, to my mind, where the true healing lies. Once we heal unworthiness and realize our true worth, then our spirits heal and can take over from there. We are, after all, our own healers and guides, each one of us. Support is wonderful, but healing is done by our spirits. That is my belief, in any event.

    Thank you, Shaun, I appreciate the dialogue. My greatest hope for others is that they find their freedom and get away from chronic negativity, naysaying, and cynicism. Inevitably, it only serves to sabotage anyone in the vicinity. But I do feel folks need to wake up on their own, no one can do it for another.

  • That’s so interesting, LavenderSage, I do believe that we carry ancestor energy and looking at this can bring to light so many of our present time patterns, and then we can make desired shifts. That would release sooo much past time energy and clear our space a great deal. Kind of gets it outside of ourselves, like a connect-the-dots picture, and then we can feel the truth of it within. I can see how this would bring clarity.

    So much of my work is with family contracts, seems to have the deepest impact on any individual, how could it not? It’s our first human blueprint to fall on our spiritual nature.

    So you do genograms? I’m not familiar with this process and how to read it, never done it before. Although I do know of my roots and I’ve integrated as much family information and dynamics as I know how into my healing, so I have done that work exhaustively, always fascinating. But if you actually do these, I’d be interested to know more because I could see myself referring people to you for this. Plus I might be interested in learning this.

    I’m in the process of gathering healers at this very time, we’re creating a healing network in the new paradigm. Do you still have my email? If so, please feel free to write me if you’d like to discuss this further.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • I’m glad to see this, Shaun. It’s hard though, isn’t it? Took me so long to wake up and take these steps for myself.

    Do you ever see your client in a toxic situation and they don’t see it and as a result, they can’t make the changes they desire to make and can’t see the double-binds? I find this to be such tricky territory. People defend their abusers/gaslighters all the time, which I understand how that works and why that would occur, but it feels like a Gordian knot. Any thoughts on this?

  • One last thing, since you mention “ego death”–

    I’m certainly no stranger to this. I had a very peculiar dark night of the soul journey because it involved paradox after paradox after paradox while traversing the “mental health” system. I was a MFT intern and a client at the same time, so I straddled the fence for years, and it was profoundly eye-opening.

    Thanks to major physical breakdown after 20 years on one thing or another (usually more but it changed a lot over the years), I found it necessary to ditch all of the psych drugs I was on (all 9 of them by this time) right in the middle of my internship. I was out of my mind from psych drugs withdrawal, yet traversed San Francisco from one healing community to another, feeling more self-conscious than I could say, because I was healing from brain damage, but did not know it at the time. I was extremely regressed and slowly coming back to life, but I could hardly stay focused on a conversation and it was evident that something was amiss with me. And I wasn’t sure how to explain it at the time because I had no idea the process I was in, no one around me had ever done this and this was just as the web was catching on so I hadn’t been online reading about people coming off psych drugs, that did not exist yet that I knew of. I took the risk without any knowledge of this, if only from medical necessity. I was the first person to do this that I knew of.

    I had no good mirroring, no one knew what to expect, nor who I was, in reality. I was extremely disembodied and all I could feel was a deluge of chronic anxiety, among other painful symptoms and bad insomnia, etc. I was truly the biggest mess ever. But I was determined to heal and get back to myself, so I did anything available to me, regardless of how I knew I was coming across.

    In the meantime, I put up with a lot of very mean people (think urban culture) and I had no defenses. Peoples’ true colors come out when they think you’re out of it, but I was not oblivious to how people were treating me, simply because I had an affect and was very shaky, withdrawn, and really kind of tongue tied. It’s how marginalized people are treated–seriously dehumanized and disregarded. This went on for years.

    I’d been a professional for years, even before grad school, so this put my system into shock. It was a brand new perspective from which I was experiencing life, and not a positive one in the slightest. Rather brutal, in fact.

    The thing about “ego death,” in reality, is that it’s a deprogramming (again, releasing the old to allow for the new), so surrendering to transformation is actually an amazing process, doesn’t have to be horrible. We’re releasing all sorts of things we no longer need, like beliefs that inhibit us and make us feel limited. It’s actually the essence of *liberation.*

    Good time to learn deep trust, profound patience, and most of all, grounding. That was my first lesson in finding my center, amid all the roller coaster rides. That was my saving grace, because once you know your center, then you can allow your emotions to guide your creativity. I love my emotions, but I drive them, not the other way around. The do not hinder me now, they totally fuel me. It is my essence, the entire range. We needn’t get stuck in despair or fear if that gets triggered. We can totally focus our way out of that and train our neurons in the process. It’s a very cool process, I’ve done this for years. It’s second nature now.

    Sensitivity, passion, creativity–all good stuff. To my mind, that is our divine guidance. Nothing to judge here! We can learn to enjoy these, rather than to be tormented by them. Life is a process, can’t get any more basic and universal than that.

  • “transcending dichotomies, dualities, and binaries can be quite challenging when the whole world is set up this way”

    Yes, it is challenging, and it’s also a choice, and there are many when one gets to this awareness. Although just because the world is “set up” in a certain way, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the option to create a new “set up,” aka “a new paradigm.”

    Yes, it’s very challenging, but some of us feel it is worth it, considering this current world is busting apart at the seams at present, at least a lot of us see it that way. Making way for the new, perhaps? Also an option. Transforming out of these dark ages we’ve been in for a while will definitely take some doing. Are you up for it?

    “I’m not cool with requiring enlightenment for folks to be treated more humanely.”

    I honestly don’t know what you mean by this. “Enlightened” or not, I’m sure we both feel that people should be treated humanely and with respect, as we all wish to be.

  • Just to clarify, I did completely misunderstand something which you wrote, Chris, which is why I started with “I agree with you that…” I can see that this is not the case. When I read the following paragraph, I honestly thought it was meant to be universal, meaning “you” in general, as in *any of us* because it’s who we are–

    “If you know you’re bipolar, you are conscious of something to which others are oblivious. If you don’t know you’re bipolar, it’s because you have been indoctrinated into the use of such a word as mere pathology. We live in a bipolar universe, in bipolar bodies, with bipolar psyches, using bipolar neurology and bipolar chemical processes along spectrums of experience.”

    Because yes, we do live in “multi-polar” universe, which some even call “the multi-verse.” I don’t say “Bi-” simply because I believe there are more than two poles. So yes, I do believe it is universal, and I understand now, from reading again, that this is not your belief, which I respect completely of course.

    I happened to have been diagnosed “bipolar” 36 years ago and lived with that for a good long while, still living a full life but with that label attached and taking psych drugs for it. It eventually all caught up with me in a catastrophic way 20 years after it had all started, and led to a transformative awakening on many levels. It was a wild ride for a good long while there, but I’m grounded and at peace now, after a lot of in depth healing work.

    I have long renounced and have moved far away from any of that, have nothing to do with diagnoses or psych drugs, I’m not part of any “mh” community any longer, working with other healers, teachers, artists, etc. in my community. I’m paying forward what I learned in many ways, been an extremely creative and fulfilling journey for me, continues to be.

    But I certainly feel my “bipolar-ism” as well as all of myself on any given day, as does my partner (who does not have a DSM history), as do my business partners and friends, none of whom went through any of this. But we’re all who we are, light and shadow, so to speak. We all have our emotional range and our triggers, that is what being human is, to my mind, evolving and refining as we go. I do believe this is universal because I connect with anyone this way.

    So I would say that we’ll be better off when EVERYONE realizes they are *at least* bipolar, because that is part of being human. Although it will be a rude awakening, but it doesn’t have to be a label, simply a human quality. There’s always more of ourselves to discover as we go along.

    I do very much respect, of course, where you are and what your beliefs are at this time, as I do anyone. We’re all on a journey, learning as we go, doing it our way, growing, expanding, fumbling, exploring, manifesting. Who can stop us? Only ourselves.

    From what I can see, your work has been seriously impressive. There are always new things to learn, for all of us.

  • Chris, I agree with you that it is a universally human quality to have poles. We can go from the depths of despair and fear to feeling elation and love in the blink of an eye, depending on how we are navigating our focus and allowing our perspectives to shift. I believe this is because we are naturally flexible in our ability to feel and think. I see our emotional landscape as a fluid river of energy, in its most natural state, and we can certainly choose how we perceive anything. This can change over time, with varying life experience as we move along, which I’d call evolution in thinking.

    However, I wouldn’t stop at “bi-polar.” When we are REALLY awake, we realize that we are much more than this. In fact, I’d say we are continuously expanding multi-dimensional beings, moving along the upwardly mobile evolutionary spiral. This will affect how we interpret and/or respond to our own emotions. This also can change quite a bit over the course of a lifetime, if we allow it to, which would be the blueprint of personal transformation.

    Does any of this ring true for you at all?

  • It’s a cat and mouse game with words. Also, a painful reminder of my long past days in psychotherapy.

    Ironically, one of Pinter’s best known works, which was made into a fascinating film with Jeremy Irons and Ben Kingsley, is Betrayal (play 1978/film 1983). It occurs in reverse chronology, so it’s a mind fuck.

  • I agree, I believe Christ Consciousness is in the collective, any one of us can go in and out of that state of being, we are each a unique aspect of it. The phrase, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” comes to mind. I believe that to be human and spiritual at the same time requires radical permission to be who we are at any given time, and also to allow others to be who they are. We can certainly choose and discern what our preferences are without being in judgment.

  • You tell your story with a lot of power and conviction, thank you for sharing your experience and insights.

    I agree with you that there are energies and perspectives at work which seek to separate us not only from each other but, primarily, from ourselves. We’ve been so thrown out of synch by what we’ve been programmed to believe about ourselves. Good for you for taking back your power!

    “…and if we can’t comprehend our interconnection, we are all doomed.”

    Hmm, not sure I agree with this. Personally, I do not believe anyone is ‘doomed” because we’re all on a journey and we each do it our way. Life affords us myriad hurdles to jump in order to awaken to different aspects of ourselves, and I believe this is endless because consciousness does not end when our bodies cease to function. Our soul is on a growth path; evolution is satisfying to the soul, otherwise we feel stagnant, which is not a good feeling, and in fact, can lead to suffering. That’s what I believe and practice, in any event.

    Plus, there are those who get that we’re all connected and actually practice this belief by acting upon it, living that belief and reality supported by their actions. That would be what I consider to be embodying one’s truth and walking the talk, and then we know synchronicity, and we simply have to remember to not give others the power to sabotage us. Which takes me to–

    “In order to create change for ourselves, we have to step into our power…”

    Yes, I love this. And of course, stepping into our power means internal change because this is what we are looking to transform, given that the journey through the “mental health industry” is specifically about becoming disempowered through a variety of means about which we talk all the time on this website. My perspective is always that internal change leads to external change, from the ground up and based on truth and integrity, which would be a good shift to experience, imo–true change and transformation. Starts with each one of us, to ripple outward. That’s what I believe, in any event.

    Thanks for a thoughtful and honest article, I enjoyed reading it.

  • Well, given that the discussion seems to be done here, I’ll just say this at this point and move on—

    What has made the idea of “suicide” impossible for me now is what I learned coming back from the dead. Those of us who subscribe to the perspective that, in reality, we are soul/spirit/energy beings who are in the process of having a human experience for the purpose of soul growth, heart expansion, and awakening to our true selves–and there are many, many, so many of us who subscribe to this; it is an ancient wisdom which, thanks to the internet, tons of people now practice this belief openly and teach it and guide and heal from it and it is manifesting the most abundantly fruitful results–know and understand that when we take our own lives and purposely interrupt our life journey due to overwhelm of despair, chronic suffering, shame, powerlessness, and generally fear-based living, then we inevitably will come back to that point so that we can, once and for all, learn what we need to learn there, and jump those hurdles. It is part of our soul growth, and we will not evolve until we get this.

    This is a belief from a specific perspective which, as I’ve said, many people all over the planet share. Not everyone sees life this way, however, and might even disparage this perspective, because it is not “scientifically based” in western scientific terms, whatever that means.

    Yet, it is a practiced belief for so many because it breaks through all of the glass ceilings, which is what cause the above named negative feelings to become chronic. Again, those damn tiny little boxes. We are soooooo much more than that.

    And when we are discouraged and belittled and shamed and diagnosed and drugged for wanting to express these unique aspects of ourselves, the result is suffering. That is inevitable, of this I’m certain. We’ve gotten so used to it and inured, but now we are being asked to awaken to this, and process it one way or another. Too much truth out there to avoid at this point. The elephants in the room are obvious and lit up for all to see.

    Point being: it can save lives to explore this perspective. I got over a lot of humps during my time of healing by remembering that I’ve gotten this far, I may as well keep going. Were I to kill myself at any time, I know I’d just have to keep repeating the same thing over and over and over again, until I learned my lessons and expanded my perspective, so that I could get what I needed from the experience, heal whatever trauma I may have incurred, and get on with my life, moving forward and in greater peace of mind.

    Exploring new consciousness like this would be the first step in transformation.

    I’ve appreciated talking about all of this, it has brought me a lot of clarity on many important things for me right now. I hope what I’ve said here can help others, or someone.

  • “Perhaps we can stop blaming individual defectiveness and poor genetic stock, and start acknowledging that our society is sick.”

    Whatever we mean by “society is sick”–with which I agree, something is terribly amiss in our society at the core and it is adversely affecting humanity on the whole, I believe this is obvious–I’m sure it would be helpful to be specific here. How, exactly, does this manifest in our society? It affects us all, we are all part of “society.”

    When we know the root cause of any imbalance and trace the cause-and-effect ripples, we can do something about it. “Healing” (positive change, coming into balance) for society would depend on specifics, here.

    “Perhaps it’s time we do something different.”

    Yes, once we figure out/awaken to what “we” are doing wrong. Otherwise, how can we know what to do differently? In essence, that means bringing our own shadow into light, so we can integrate that, somehow. This is how evolution occurs, I believe, when we face our shadow squarely in the eye. To heal it, we have to feel it.

    But we have to do it ourselves, no one can do this for us. That will require tremendous courage and humility, which would be great expansion for humanity, I believe.

    Awakening to stuff like this is really powerful, and can bring about very strong emotions because everyone’s self-beliefs and core perceptions will be challenged; that is the nature of radical change. It’s vital to keep perspective and grounding while radical change occurs, at the core. That’s what we’re talking about here.

  • “You, and nobody will ever know for sure what drove you to think about suicide as the ultimate solution.”

    Jclaude, I stopped reading your response right here. This is exactly the problem with these dialogues, so thank you for this glaring example.

    How on Earth would you know my reality better than I would? For the sake of helping to bring clarity around very tough issues, I am making myself vulnerable by speaking publically about something very intimate and transparent from my personal experience—on which I’ve reflected for years and years and about which I’ve spoken with people who know me and are part of my life and have been part of my journey–and you, whom I’ve never met nor do I know who you are–categorically deny it and invalidate it.

    There is a form of GASLIGHTING happening here, can’t you see that? Can’t you see that this is purely a projection on your part? How do you think it would feel to hear that you don’t know what you’re talking about with respect to your own life and experience? This is precisely what so many of us psych survivors complain fervently about. It is a personal boundary violation!

    This is why people say these environments are “unsafe,” and why we call it courage when we tell our stories. We risk exactly this, complete negation of our spirit, heart, and personal information. Do I take it personally and believe it? Of course not, I’m used to this by now. But I do feel and believe that it is painfully illustrative of a huge problem we have going here.

    Well, there’s the mental health industry for ya—in black & white. I rest my case.

  • Given that this blog is about suicide, this thread began with my post wondering how many people take their own lives while receiving “mental health services.”

    This came from my experience of feeling driven to take my own life because psychiatry had rendered me powerless in my defenses (thanks to being drained and temporarily disoriented from neurotoxins and subsequent withdrawal), and then as a bonus, I got treated like a worthless piece of crap with, apparently, no rights, and was given a very negative prognosis for my life by therapists and psychiatrists, AFTER I ditched the drugs.

    Which, btw, was a false prophecy because my life is just fine after working hard as hell to get back on track once I left this all behind me, thank you very much. But it nearly killed me to hear what was said to me because I was believing it for a moment.

    I would say this all drove me to want to kill myself, after all the hard work I’d put into life and into my healing. It was more brutal than I can adequately put into words at this time.

    So when do we acknowledge that “something” is not working? That’s the title of this article. I don’t know, when do we?

    Regarding “alternatives,” I do a lot of alternative healing, that’s my vocation in life. Healing exists already in many shapes, sizes, and forms. It’s just a matter of researching with an open mind. We have many ways to heal, based on our beliefs about life, spirit, the mind, and the body. Psychiatry is nothing even close to this, does not resemble healing in any fashion, from what I can see.

    But the real alternative to psychiatry is humanity and empathy, because I see none here. A sound, just, and progressive society would be psychiatry-less, because this institution only interferes with nature, and it is highly corrupt, that is obvious.

    Progress and clarity exists in the world, just not anywhere near the institution of psychiatry nor anywhere in the mental health industry, from what I can gather. I’ve seen nothing that convinces me there is even a hint of “new paradigm” anywhere along this arena. It is a dead horse already, to my mind.

    The problem is all this dependence on it. That causes the kind of stress that can lead to suicide, because it’s like being caught in a web of systemic co-dependence.

    Ok, I’ve said enough here, I don’t want to keep beating that horse. I just wanted to make clear how this conversation is relevant to this article because I’m saying psychiatry can way too easily lead to suicide, in so many ways. I know people claim it helps them, and there are staunch defenders of psychiatry who are clients of it. Yet it hurt me so terribly, and I know I am not, by any stretch, the only one who can reasonably claim this.

    My question right now would be, how to reconcile this profound split? Those are two completely disparate realities. Yet, they co-exist, although not peaceably, that is certain.

  • Thank you, yes, this is a really good summary, and it makes sense given what I’ve absorbed over the years from reading and dialoguing here.

    And I agree, this is so much more than simply “where to get help,” I think the entire perspective from which psychiatry operates, regarding “what it means to be human,” is completely askew–a painfully narrow box into which no one can really fit, it’s just not realistic. It’s pure solipsism, and in turn, inherently oppressive.

    So I think psychiatry is based on delusional thinking, to be honest. If that’s the dominant paradigm, then what it is “selling” is 100% illusion, and members of this club are making tons and tons of money committing fraud, at an extremely high cost for its takers, and for society at large. That’s the clearest conclusion I can draw from what I’ve experienced and witnessed.

  • “And people who are concerned about “real” names should focus elsewhere. It’s a false issue. Those who don’t realize how dangerous this stuff can be need to study how this system operates, if only for their own safety.”

    People on here have been wondering how the LGBT movement has gotten so far in its efforts and I’d say one major reason is because people came out, despite the obvious dangers. I believe this level of courage may be highly relevant to the success of a movement. Otherwise, one is simply putting their fear on display, and I think the “powers that be” pick up on that, and it keeps them confident.

  • “…but if we’re talking beliefs, don’t you think your own knowledge and experience regarding the evils of psychiatry is something from which they would benefit, and that at least a strong warning might be in order?”

    That’s why I’ve been talking about it all these years. I’ve been publically transparent with my entire process over the years. A lot of my information has evolved, I learn as I go. There is so much nuance to these issues and a vast array of conflicting perspectives. How to make sense out of any of it?

    While at first it wasn’t as a “warning” but more an attempt to educate from the perspective of my healing, it did eventually become more about calling out corruption and oppression–in addition to institutional malpractice–and to be honest, I was shocked to the degree this became the case. I’d been in the midst of it, so I had a ton of self-reflection to do as to what my beliefs were.

    What you’re noticing in me when you say “change” is, for me, specifically, healing. This is how I experience it, certainly feels better to me.

    I have a lot of friends and am well-established in my community. I work with clients and I have students. And everyone who knows me knows my story and exactly how I feel about psychiatry and “mental health” anything. I’ve diverted a lot of people away from that, I’m pleased to say.

    But other than to share my story and opinion, I have no control over whether or not I will be heard or believed or any of that. I try to be mindful of my communication, to be as clear, direct, and truthful as I know how. I may not always succeed here and I try to grow in this regard.

    But communication is also about hearing what is being said, and this is so often not the case. When I detect that, I will honor it, but will not push against it. I do not feel that is productive, and in fact, can feel exactly oppressive, considering how sensitive these issues are.

    Beliefs, in general, are very personal and reflect our values and how we perceive anything. There’s a lot to say about how we acquire them and how they impact our lives, personal realities, communication style, and relationship dynamics. Those would be whole other discussions to have.

    I do appreciate this dialogue, oldhead, and am glad we have both evolved toward common ground, perhaps? At least that might strengthen these efforts, I hope.

  • Not sure although it seems that you are maybe asking whether I fall into the “reformist” or “abolitionist” category, to which, if that were the case, I’d say that I used to be more of reformist, when I was first waking up to how the entire field was askew and misguided. I figured there was a new dialogue to have, here, given the clarity my particular journey brought me once I had kicked the psych drugs.

    But then, after years of attempting to dialogue with so many different people in so many ways–even making a film hoping to start a new conversation–while at first things would seem to rev up a bit, it just always ended up going nowhere but south.

    And I noticed the same damn dynamics repeatedly, always amounting to shutting down dialogue just when we were getting to some truth–at least that’s how it seemed to me. Just like in 1:1 sessions, group therapies, and just plain ol’ trying to dialogue for clarity or common ground, there was just always some mechanism of defense which would inevitably deteriorate the whole thing, and usually in kind of nasty ways, it seemed, rife with negative and highly provocative projections. Every damn time.

    I keep saying “it seemed” because with all that gaslighting going on, clarity just falls by the wayside, and one simply has to trust their gut.

    Anyway, after years and years of going in circles with professionals in the field (I was in the center of things for a good long while), I gave up and now I feel what I feel, that it’s rather hopeless.

    Still, I do wonder about the folks who are dependent on the system. They do have their right to what they feel they need, as well. I do not want to dismiss that.

    So it’s a conundrum, but for the record, I am absolutely convinced there is no reforming here. I’m done trying to dialogue with the mental health industry, I am more than doubtful that this will lead to anything good. Although speaking my truth about it is vital in my path, it is how I continue to heal and grow in my clarity.

    So what are other definitions of anti-psychiatry? I’m curious to know exactly how you define that, oldhead, or by others who’ve been at this a long time as you have. I still consider myself a newbie in many ways, still learning these things.

  • I believe that psychiatry is a dangerous institution with only negative value for society. I do understand very well that some people feel that psychiatry is necessary for them to have quality of life, and I am in no position to argue with them. So to say psychiatry should be history would be dismissing the reality of many people, and I do feel this is worthy of pause.

    However, at the same time, I know that my experience along with thousands upon thousands of testimonials which I have read and also from stories I’ve heard in person, from those whom I know personally, would add up to the institution of psychiatry being nothing more than a social vampire and extremely dangerous. Considering that psychiatry almost killed me and has killed many—not just with neurotoxins but also with crippling discrimination and dehumanization, causing egregious stress and fear/paranoia—and which certainly has been, at the very least, profoundly dispiriting for so, so many–then yes, I, personally, would like to see it in the dustbin of history, so that we could reroute, in a way more productive and fruitful way, the *enormous* amount of resources which this toxic institution sucks up so recklessly and fraudulently. At this point, just about anything would be more productive than what they are doing.

    I actually came to this thread specifically to post this article I just read, to elaborate a bit, because this is yet another thing about psychiatry which bothers me, and it will even further illustrate why psychiatry is dangerous in so many ways. This article is about the kids who have been separated from their families and who are being held in these “detention centers,” getting drugged with neurotoxins to keep them quiet.

    “One of the more gruesome details includes allegations that children at the Shiloh Treatment Center near Houston, Texas were routinely dosed with unneeded antipsychotics to keep them quiet and compliant.”

    They don’t mention psychiatry or psychiatrists, they just talk about the drugs which psychiatrists routinely use as tools to “serve” their clients. Problem is, I can’t tell where psychiatry ends and government oppression and cruelty begin, the lines are so blurred here. So that gives me pause, as well.

    I didn’t expect to find your question here, I just came to post this article. I hope I’m clear about where I stand. I do feel very strongly about it and feel I have so many ways to back up what I say concretely. I do not want to be ambiguous about what my truth is here. Thanks for asking.

  • I would call these “ivory tower” perspectives. I believe being human and how we evolve in our process of life–including how we choose when to be social or not–is purely an individual matter. We all have our own unique and creative ways of doing life.

    Some people harmonize with each other and some do not. Some can co-create together like gangbusters, while others are continuously clashing and nothing really gets accomplished, aside from chronic unresolvable conflict and constant frustration. Relationship to others is a continuum, I believe, and can be fluid or rigid, depending on many things in our lives, like what our beliefs are about relationships, and what we carry in our hearts. That would be outside any box, true to who we really are rather than being a measure of someone else’s standard.

    Building boxes–aka “models”–in which people are supposed to fit will always lead to elitism, classism, inequality, prejudice, stigma, and marginalization. That is our current paradigm, over and over again, passed down from generation to generation, from revolution to revolution. No one model fits all, and I don’t believe it ever will. I would consider that to be the essence of “de-humanizing.”

  • Same here, Auntie Psychiatry, I woke up to the truth here about 25 years after I first reached out for help. That’s when my system began to completely deteriorate and things got really, really bad all of a sudden because the drugs had been eating away at me all those years, unbeknownst to me. And then there was the introduction of the social abuse and marginalization later in life, to add insult to injury, quite literally!

    Connecting those dots was my rude awakening, and getting back on track with my life obviously meant completely annihilating psychiatry and the entire “mh” system from my life and energy. That took some doing, psychiatry proved to be costly in many ways. I had a lot of healing to do from the result of their malpractice. No other word I can use for it, it was purely systemic malpractice, and I will stand by that with all sorts of evidence and witnesses.

    And you’re right, we can’t “unawaken” from this, it is so glaring and pervasive. And while I’ve since moved on and have settled just fine into the flow of life again, in a new and transformed way, it’s also hard to forget. Seeing psychiatry continue to thrive at the expense of others is like a kick in the gut.

  • Yes, oldhead, I believe I am anti-psychiatry, if it is defined as I see it on Wikipedia–

    “Anti-psychiatry is a movement based on the view that psychiatric treatment is often more damaging than helpful to patients. It considers psychiatry a coercive instrument of oppression due to an unequal power relationship between doctor and patient and a highly subjective diagnostic process.”

    Exactly my experience repeatedly over the years. Although thankfully, I don’t have anything to do with psychiatry or “mental health” anything any longer. For me, personally, that’s a thing of the past and I’ve done a lot of healing from the post-traumatic stress of my experience in the “mh” system. I post here on occasion now to speak my truth about it, feels good to me to do so and hopefully my voice can make a difference here.

    I know psychiatry to be an extremely dangerous institution, esteemed members of which seem to all-too-often resort to gaslighting and shaming when challenged by its critics, as though it were second nature. Absolutely ZERO reasonability, totally oppressive. Can’t say enough how sinister I think that is, whether it is conscious or not. I have found it to be intricately woven into the fabric of psychiatry and its ilk.

  • This is fantastic article with some very poignant passages and brave, direct truth, I believe. Thank you for writing this. It was healing for me to read.

    “Our culture is exceedingly emotionally abusive. That it would find it acceptable to dismiss the pain driving suicidal ideation as weak, selfish or cowardly and continue to refuse to engage in self-reflection is but one piece of evidence of that. To think of suicide as weak, selfish or cowardly is to blame the person for being unable to continue to live in an environment that is more and more unsuitable for life. That’s gaslighting. Why are we more comfortable perpetuating a culture that seems to cheer on the extinguishing of more and more of its members as it denies any responsibility for their deaths than we are working toward creating something human beings can actually thrive in? What have we become?”

    This is so powerful and rings as unequivocal truth to me. Perfect questions, too. I would add, “How can we transform?”

    “…even if suicide were weak, we need to ask what’s wrong with being weak. Who is telling us that being weak is categorically a failure or deserves criticism?”

    Thank you, yes, we are Human. No one is strong all the time, that would not be human. Humility is part of being human, and sometimes it is thrust upon us, and we feel our humanness. We’re far from perfect. Is that ok?

    And especially when we are weakened by not only toxic chemicals but also by a toxic double-binding dismissive, dehumanizing, and marginalizing environment, we are particularly vulnerable because our defenses have been so systematically worn down. That’s not a fair fight, injustice and power abuse is all over this. Fighting chronic barrages of grotesquely negative projections and shaming stigma can be more than a person can handle after a while. It is life-force draining.

    Oh yeah, how on earth can we influence change here? Feels like alarms are going off. Wake up call to some new kind of humbling truth, perhaps? There’s a missing piece here.

  • I would be interested to see numbers related to how many people take their own lives while receiving “services.” I was surrounded by “professionals” at the time of my attempted suicide, none of whom thought to ask me what was going through my mind that I felt that suicide was the answer for me. I wasn’t asked how I was feeling, I was told by how I looked what I was feeling.

    And I remember this one psych nurse who, on my first night in the hospital, laid sooo much guilt on me for not thinking of others in my life. She hadn’t a clue of my life, my past, or what I’d been through, but she effortlessly projected her judgmental opinion onto me. The shrink who saw me while I was in the hospital “accused” me of being manipulative. I was in shock and said nothing, hardly being able to speak above a whisper anyway, and he stormed out of the room frustrated. I thought about doing it all over again.

    I remember every moment of my life, including what led up to this, the beliefs I was holding and where they came from, and why I was so vulnerable at that moment. I was seeing a shrink twice a week because I was told I had to–which turned out was a complete lie, but it was the program I was running from the brainwashing system and my mind was so messed up from the psych drugs withdrawal, I really had a hard time thinking for myself during that time; I was painfully confused and disoriented, so I did what I was told, out of fear and intimidation.

    I remember every moment of hanging in the balance between life and death, and even my consciousness leaving my body. Nope, things don’t go black–in fact, it becomes an enormously colorful and vivid landscape of energy. It’s as if I learned more in those few seconds than I had in my entire life on Earth.

    Somehow, I chose to stick around and got myself back into my body, feeling I now had a mission on Earth, and I’ve since followed that path and continue to this day–to help raise the frequency of this planet. We are, after all, energy, and we do give out vibrational signals which can be felt by others (people with a sense of empathy, who are not walled up, which is another factor in all this), and we are all connected as a field of energy. Like it or not.

    After getting out of the hospital after a few days, I never took another chemical drug for anything and went all natural for the remainder of my healing journey, learning radically new perspectives that were FINALLY working for me, and a new and way improved reality began to unfold for me. Never again would I step foot into a psychiatrists office, and instead, I focused on healing my heart and spirit from repeated wounding and the lowest self-esteem ever. I had to own up to my choices and I worked hard to shift my perspective and self-beliefs. Changed me on the inside and led to wonderful changes on the outside.

    I’m a different person today than I was 16 years ago, all guided by these monstrous experiences. So at least they were meaningful and useful. Still, I believe there are easier ways to grow and evolve than going deep into an oppressive and dangerous system. That is my main point here. That is what is not working here and going so,so wrong. THE SYSTEM. Personally, I think all systems are failing now and new ways of doing things are being presented worldwide.

    But specifically, this “mental health/illness/disability” system is the hub of hypocrisy and fraud. From my experience, I honestly do not feel it is redeemable. It is a toxic beast and needs to be put to rest, for everyone’s sake. That is my conclusion from my experience in it. There are tons of ways to find healing, clarity, grounding, balance, and wholeness. “Mental health services” is not one of them, and to me, seems to mostly rely on making people dependent on them. Sorry to those in the field, but truth is truth. WAKE UP!!!

  • Thank you, Susan, your kind words are very much appreciated. It’s been a humbling journey, as life can often be. I haven’t spoken publically about this in a while but it seems as though it’s time to lift all the veils if we are to know truth.

    And it’s definitely time for soul growth and heart expansion if we are to move forward from what we have going on now, which. indeed, does not appear to be working for the vast majority of humanity. I try to be the best example I can be, although life does wear on us all. My faith is deep now, and that matters more than anything, as far as inspiring me to, once and for all, embrace my life in terms of gratitude, appreciation, love, and infinite creativity.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, knowledgeispower. I just watched the whole thing and not only found it extremely interesting–and I definitely agree with her– but also I’m pretty much living proof of what she is saying about how we can totally rewire ourselves and create all sorts of positive changes this way. My years long healing from “mental health/illness” industry-related internal mayhem was made possible by applying things such as neuroplasticity, shifting all sorts of old and outdated thought patterns, beliefs, and impulses based on defensiveness and fear.

    In fact, in the middle of my journey through the “mh” system, surrounded by all sorts of clinicians, case managers, and social workers while all the while feeling extremely hopeless, discouraged, and completely alone in my mad mind and in the dark, I did attempt to take my own life and it came scarily close to working. I was seriously fucked up after this, but I got out of the hospital and within a few weeks was at voc rehab. Long story here, but I trudged on, thanks to the hope I was receiving OUTSIDE of the “mh” world. This was 16 years ago and today, nothing could be further from my thoughts now, I love my life, ups and downs, challenges and all.

    I was also able to shift my nervous system by taking some risks and really putting myself out there, while knowing where my support was. Over the years, I learned entirely new perspectives based on my experience going through the dark side of life for a while. I continue to learn as I go, and in essence shift my internal landscape.

    I’ve lived with my partner for 33 years now who has witnessed change after change after change in me, thanks to the kind of healing work I do. He thinks it’s awesome and miraculous, and has followed suit and, in turn, has also been able to shift his old traumas and outdated brain habits, while nourishing his nervous system with hardy healing energies (e.g., gratitude, as you mention, and easing up on judgments to feel more compassion). We’ve both changed radically over the years–out of necessity!

    And, indeed, it has changed our outer world. Thanks to many converging factors, I lived with underlying fears and insecurities for a long time into adulthood, and then with a lot of anger and resentment as I woke up to how this society worked, and the profound post traumatic stress the system had left me with, even after I had finally gotten disentangled from it all and detoxed my system physically, emotionally, and spiritually (energetically). I did so much healing work with a variety of teachers in a few different healing communities, which amounted to allowing our internal systems come back into their natural balance and alignment. From there, life really changes in so many ways. That is quite a transformative process–I’d call it a miracle of nature.

    Lots more to it, like learning the process of “transmuting energy,” and also what it means to have a soul journey and purpose.

    But yes, I love the work which Tania is doing as shown here because it speaks to change motivated by introspection and self-awareness, each of us responsible for our own energy and what we are putting out into the world, the collective. In turn, I believe the more we can practice inner peace, the more we are creating peace in the world. How can that not be true?

  • Everyone could stand to be a bit kinder, a bit more patient, and a bit less judgmental–and this applies to self as well as to others. Being the example of what we expect from others can go a long way.

    Still, another issue is that we live in a world where bullies can win (as pointed out in Noel’s previous article). This can be a very rude and discouraging awakening to profound social injustice that can lead to overwhelming frustration, despondence, and, eventually, hopelessness. What is the point of living oppressed, in constant fear, and with our hearts and spirits invisible to others? I honestly do not believe life is intended to be this way, and eventually, it catches up with us in the most unsettling of ways, draining us of our life force. Yet, this is what it has become for what seems to be the majority of the planet.

    A world in which kindness and patience can prosper feels attractive to me, where bullies do not win because, as a society, we do not enable power abuse. That will be some radical change, and not without resistance. Yes, livelihoods will be at stake here, and other hard truths are bound to surface, throwing into question a lot of long held personal beliefs. That would be the process of radical transformation which would need to occur here, imo.

  • I highlighted this because, to me, it is the grand paradox here to ascend. How can clarity occur where there is chronic deceit happening? Whether or not it is intentional deceit or simply unconscious from habit because this is what the culture requires in order to survive, it still amounts to smoke and mirrors. I’d call it “the program,” or dominant paradigm.

    We’re talking about a population in which so many are justifiably distrustful due to severe betrayal issues. Lots of wounding here, and then re-wounding when one goes through these “systems” (“mental health” system, “disability” system, “social services,” etc.). I am speaking from my own experience and what I’ve heard and read online and off from others over the years.

    And yes, I totally agree with what you say about this being a huge universal issue at the core of it all. We do live in a corrupt and unjust world at present; but to me, for a system of so-called “health care” of any kind–or some kind of social support, in any case–to be such a powerful arm of that oppression would, indeed, point toward perhaps it being the core of it, given the obvious irony.

    That is gaslighting en masse, and it has created absolute chaos because it affects the brain, how we think and perceive, and even how we strategize our lives. It’s caused us to live in a great deal of anxiety, because it is so hard to know who and what to trust.

    Shifting away from gaslighting is an entire paradigm shift, imo, toward integrity. That, alone, will instigate a lot of changes, I believe, because it will generate clarity.

    I hope this speaks to you, Matt, because I appreciate the work you are doing and I do like how you are addressing these issues. It speaks to me.

  • Either projected, introjected, or implied, shame is toxic. Those who project it onto others are not owning their own lack of self-worth and feel threatened (fear) in the face of differences, I would imagine. These are communities which attempt to marginalize others, the weapon being “shame.” Those projected onto would be the scapegoats of that community, to keep “the shadow” at bay, so to speak.

    But one cannot be marginalized or scapegoated if one has a good sense of self and knows where their community of affinity is. Where there is affinity, there can be no shame. Conversely, where there is shame, there can be no affinity. That’s what I believe makes it toxic.

  • Beautiful, Michele, your insights are pristine and I love how you describe your goals and client work. It’s so similar to my own healing path and also my intention with clients/students–releasing the old and transmuting energy in order to access our innate creativity to make manifest the future from present time visions and high heart vibrations aligning with who we are as spirit. That’s my exact process now, as well. Very cool!

    I have a healing and performing arts center which 3 of us founded and have been creating and operating for the past few years. The work we do is based on exactly what you describe, as far as releasing old energy and updating our beliefs in order to align in present time mind/body/spirit awareness so that we may know our selves, purpose, journey, creative process & spirit and work with it in the most efficient and joyous ways possible. Pure empowerment for the purpose of embodying our innate freedom and unlimited creative potential. We also have a band which performs over the holidays for community service, which is part of our purpose.

    My intention is to influence individual and community alignment and uplift, toward unity consciousness. To my mind, it’s all about bringing light to the planet (or allowing it in, depending on one’s perspective), for healing and manifesting purposes.

    The most interesting part of this for me, is that we all have diverse ways of channeling light, no one-size-fits-all here. I love learning these processes because they are so incredibly diverse, and each one of great and equal value to humanity.

    Overall, the framework I use for healing and manifesting work is ascension and multi-dimensional consciousness, to streamline the mind/body/connection for ease, clarity, and deep trust in one’s process. That’s the path I’m on currently and what I share in my work. Not sure whether or not you are familiar with “the ascension process,” per se, but it is exactly what you are describing with your work.

    Fascinating stuff, Michele, and congratulations for embodying your purpose as you are. Working with the universe can get rather mind-blowing, can’t it? I find it to be magical, in the most unexpected ways. Keep it up and, indeed, Namaste!

  • A lot of similarities in our stories, although my psychiatric nightmare began in 1982, and I finally came off of all psych drugs in 2001. Started with a few pills, changed a lot over the years, and all the while I was actually working full time in corporate retail, never disabled. It was painful at times, but somehow, I managed and thought I’d be on the pills for the rest of my life, as I was also programmed to believe all the crap about chemical imbalance. As long as I could do all that I wanted to do, I was ok with taking the pills, I thought that was my option in life, if I wanted to live a full life. I figured I’d do my best to live with the side effects. This was life, as I saw it back then.

    It all went south when I started graduate school in counseling psychology. At the same time that I was discovering and moving through the underbelly of society (aka the so-called “mental health” industry), all those pills began to backfire on me, after having taken them dutifully for 15 years. Turns out they had been gradually chipping away at my well-being, toxifying my brain and other vital organs. I’d been doing regular Dr. visits as per protocol, my vital signs would vacillate a great deal, I’d have panic attacks, then the psych drugs regimen would change. This went on for a decade and a half until one shrink ended me up on 9 psych drugs and others to combat side effects. Almost killed me, and naturally, greatly diminished my functioning.

    With the help of a medical intuit and highly trained and seasoned herbalist, both of whom I was most fortunate to find, I finally began to taper in order to save my life. No one around me had ever done this and no one knew what to expect, so upon graduating, I took the plunge and over a period of several months was finally off of absolutely everything, after almost 20 years of living with these drugs disintegrating me.

    What followed was a journey through the public mental health system which was such a brutal awakening, took me years to recover from the trauma of social abuse. It was truly my dark night journey–horrific and awesome at the same time.

    Like you, I began to work with natural healing and I ended up attending a 3 year energy healing program which began my recovery and healing in full force. I subsequently trained with a variety of healers in different healing communities, synthesizing what I was learning and applying it to myself. Just that self-engagement and self-empowerment alone was profoundly healing. In fact, it was transformational.

    Eventually, I, too, left the city and moved to the country with my partner. Internal shifts leading to environmental changes. Seemed like the natural next step for us, and it has been extremely rewarding. We’ve been able to create a great deal, living in nature.

    I love your message and of course I am fully in synch with it. I’ve since left psychology behind altogether, to instead work with our spiritual natures in how that relates to our emotional and physical bodies. That was the door which opened up the universe to me. As a long-time activist, I have found that working with the energy of light is extremely helpful and supportive. Keeps me grounded and in present time, on the pulse of the energy at hand.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and for shining your light as you are.

  • I think it’s true that a really powerful sense of self combats shaming, scapegoating, shunning, and marginalizing because when we are well-grounded in our personal reality, we can ascend the temptation to identify with the projection– and, in turn, falling victim to it–by perceiving these not as personal attacks, but more so, we can attribute the need to project such blatant negativity onto others as a symptom of a toxic society, which I believe is truth. Those that project shame live in glass houses, guaranteed.

    Shame is a toxic energy, the way radioactive waste spoils the environment. Shame is dispiriting and greatly diminishes life force, leading to all sorts of illness and self-neglect. It’s also been known to kill people.

  • “The notion of ‘sanism’ might help pinpoint the othering which takes place and the legitimising for people to project their fears unto sufferers maybe an alternative to ‘mental illness’…”

    Yep, it’s all based on projections. What is real vs. what is illusion is up for grabs. It’s an entire culture based on gaslighting–which is inherently confusing and crazy-making. That’s the idea.

  • Just to finally bring it around to what I had originally quoted from your article, Emily, and my point based on my experience relating to what you said, simply put: this is exactly the attitude I got from the system, and in general, there is no recourse because it is systemic and people will say all sorts of things to deflect from facing their own shadow, and that of their entire system.

    For me, it started in graduate school and followed me all the way through–day treatment, public health facilities, voc rehab, professional advocacy, Dept of rehabilitation, etc.–every darn layer of that world.

    I saw the common thread, and it is exactly what you are saying, these are great examples you offer and I have tons more. Some are in the film I made years ago, Voices That Heal. This was my reason for making it, to call out systemic abuse. And I got a lot of gaslighting from the system, and even “advocacy,” in return (along with praise and validation, thank goodness! The film polarized, which was an interesting community response, felt powerful to me).

    My particular point is that this is the behavior exemplified from within the so-called “mental health” and “social service” industries, especially when calling them out…on ANYTHING! Tragic irony, imo.

    I think we’re conditioned this way, to turn it back on the truth-speaker/whistleblower/griever so as to avoid taking self-responsibility and face the changes we’d more than likely feel compelled to make after such an awakening revelation. But we can shift that if we so desire, although not everybody wants to, or feels they can. That would be a personal choice/belief.

    I feel it’s quite complicated and lots of different dialogues to have here, but again, I appreciate your truth of the matter because it does match my experience. And I think it’s a huge core problem here, those specific dynamics. They are scapegoating, marginalizing, and overall, sabotaging. Keeps everyone dazed and confused, and the system running merrily along, all challenges to it annihilated through means of “othering (shaming).” Thanks again for pointing it all up and bringing this dynamic to light.

  • Thanks, Emily, although seriously, I am not at all sorry as it was truly one of the most powerfully healing experiences of my life, 14-15 years ago. I went from this to finding my true path, enrolling in an energy healing program and also in a singing and performance class. Been doing both of these since. They were the precursors to what I’m doing now, which is running a healing and arts program which I created and designed.

    In addition, I woke up to how bullies are running the show. I felt like a canary in a coal mine, predicting the leadership we have in place today. It’s entirely the same energy and dynamic. So this has fueled my transformation perfectly, forever altering my perceptions and beliefs about society, humanity, and myself. Best education of my life.

    As far as stopping future abuse, well, I hope in the long run this is true. I’ve been calling out systemic abuse for a long time in all sorts of areas–from my family to the “mental health” industry–and it goes beyond falling on deaf ears, it only gets worse. Yes, it is all those things you mention above, especially the gaslighting. These habits do not break easily, they are multi-layered. I’ve found that, in the end, it’s best to walk away and trust one’s process.

    Leaps of faith are necessary to break systems such as these. Systems do not change easily and there always seems to be a new justification or rationalization for abuse, which is what makes it systemic. Hopefully, we’re making at least some kind of dent here, with dialogues such as these. It’s a hard awakening, I understand this, and it takes many players to hold a system in place, not just “the bully.”

  • “This is what I experienced as someone labeled mentally ill. I was literally considered responsible for the abuses I had to survive. ‘If you didn’t want to get locked up, you should’ve kept your mouth shut, instead of blabbing about your suicidal thoughts,’ one psychiatric nurse said to me. ‘You were a real danger to yourself. You should be grateful people cared enough about you to get you committed to a hospital where you could get treatment. You shouldn’t be complaining about it,’ I heard from countless friends and family members.”

    This really struck a chord with me, big time. Insidious abuse, and most unfortunately, I have found it to be the norm in pretty much all of mainstream society–but, indeed, rampant and standard procedure in the “mental health”-related world. It is crazy-making. Finally, I was able to cut through this in a legal action, which only occurred because I kept getting these kinds of responses from my co-workers in social services. And they actually liked me, quite a bit! It was, indeed, “for my own good.” They were trying to correct me, to help me save my job.

    I’d gone from client to staff at a “non-profit” vocational rehabilitation agency, and in that process of “rehabilitation”–despite doing unequivocally successful work with clients given that I was extremely empathic to their journey at that point, all of us getting back to work after a period of disability–I’d make mistakes here and there with respect to what management expected in terms of communication, stuff like that, and they’d go to great lengths to reprimand, punish, and stonewall me when I attempted to respond in defense of myself. It was insanely trivial, and had nothing to do with my work with clients. The “rehabilitation” aspect of this eluded me, which is something I pointed out in my eventual mediation. It was more like bully methods of management, given their attitude toward the population they were contracted and granted money to “serve.”

    My situation turned into out and out bullying, extremely abusive, and people knew it, it was obvious. I was still recovering from psych drugs damage after only a few months of having started my withdrawal, and I was pretty meek overall, very shaky in, both, my body and in my self-worth, even though my work with clients went well, I was intuitive with this. Didn’t matter. I favored client issues over management ego, and that truly got me into trouble.

    I was denied support and advocacy in favor of facing panels of management on my own, including one private 1-1 meeting with the President of this agency which was so off the charts, I put in writing how unsafe I felt being alone with this guy. Denial of support at that time was a huge legal infraction, and I knew it. They wouldn’t hear of it, and condemned me for suggesting that I was being discriminated against and was having my rights as a transitioning employee denied. So, I shouldn’t have said it? No way I could not, it was too blatant to not call it out.

    And doing so began my journey back to self-respect after 3+ years of taking CRAP from the system because of how I’d been programmed by my upbringing. This was my awakening, finally, to systemic bullying and abuse. What also awoke in me was the post-traumatic stress from all this. I had no idea how badly the public therapists and social workers (including the ones I liked, who had become my friends; they just didn’t know better, it was the example set in the system) had been affecting me until I saw it for what it was. Then, I could start to heal from this, and it runs deep, as many of us know.

    Not thinking it would be possible to find a free lawyer, I started taking steps to look for work elsewhere, but in that process, they fired me because I was not letting them control me this way and I had “the nerve” to fight back and own my personal power. How I was working with clients had nothing to do with anything, it was all about control, and it was so abusive, it was hard for people to believe. But an attorney did and then a mediator did when it was proven beyond a doubt. This agency is no longer in existence. They preferred to close rather than to change their view about people who have been diagnosed as “mentally ill/disabled”, which was the population they served. Really over the top abuse, Dickensian-style.

    Given that it was my first job in a few years and I was really enjoying so much working with clients again–and doing very well on top of it judging by how I was able to match clients with work they liked—I tried in all directions to work things out with them, and especially, I turned to my co-workers, a couple of whom I had become friends with, and asked for their feedback.

    The reason I ended up taking legal action is because as I was trying to get some clarity and support in order to work things out as they were doing this systematically over a couple of months, my co-workers–who were sympathetic because they did like me quite a bit, but who were so scared of management–did blame me for what was happening because I was not “playing the game.” I was told “don’t say this” and “don’t say that,” management is really sensitive.

    One of them told me how “vicious” the President of this place could be if “crossed,” (which didn’t take much for him to feel this way, apparently) so I should learn to “shut my mouth.” She told me this in this very loving way, she wanted to help me save my job and not make waves, that it would come back to haunt and I’d lose my job. She was right of course.

    This co-worker had also been client-to-staff, years before me, and had been passed over for promotion quite often, another elephant in the office. I could understand that she was happy to be working at all, I felt really fortunate to be working again. But at what cost, if the price is “take the abuse!”? Standing outside of it, it seems obvious that we would not want to take the abuse. But when working after a period of not working and not having money, things can get blurry. The problem is, the system knows this, and they take full advantage of it, which is nothing short of oppression through blatant power abuse.

    That is a powerful and debilitating double-bind, purely systemic abuse, where victims of the system are, in turn, driven by fear to enable that same system. Calling it out, distancing from it—both really good actions, I think. That is just too toxic for words.

    Thanks for the insightful article, some great truths here I think.

  • Very courageous and inspiring story. I agree that self-love is vital, to know the feeling of love at all. That is transformational. When we perceive our challenges as our guidance to personal growth and expanding our awareness, it is win/win, and our capacity for love and compassion increases. I believe that is the most powerful healing of all, and has the potential to radically change how we experience life, and reality in general.

  • My clarity, grounding, sense of self, and overall well-being improved a great deal when I finally recognized the energy vampirism happening around me, rejected it wholly and unequivocally, transmuted frustration into courage, and then moved toward a more heart-based consciousness and community. When what I was looking for eluded me in the world, I created it myself. We do have that power and privilege.

  • “People are suffering because society thinks it’s funny to humiliate and torture them.”

    Or at least because it causes the bully to feel powerful at the expense of others–which is not power, of course, it’s pure cowardice and delusional thinking. “Bully” and “victim” are two sides of the same coin, and indeed, a powerful system of enabling allows this all to perpetuate. Breaking the system is not an easy feat, but I don’t see any way forward without doing so. Being different is our innate creativity and breaks new ground.

  • Hi Gabi, sorry for delayed response, just saw this. I’m not on the internet much nor tend to post too much these days, but I appreciate your asking for clarity of my intention here so I wanted to give you the best response I can in the moment. What you ask is fair and to respond truly in full would be more detailed now that I can handle; in fact it would be a class, workshop or thesis because our frameworks seem to be radically different. Which is fine, I think that’s natural diversity, but it can impede clarity in communication due to language and interpretation, based on our points of views, beliefs, personal cultures, etc.

    I have attempted to have this conversation online numerous times—regarding “blame” vs. the cause-and-effect nature of energy, and it rarely goes well because these are really different perspectives, and emotions come up galore, which is reasonable, but there needs to be some mindful navigation of this to make it productive, imo.

    “Blame” is fraught with judgment and cause-and-effect is neutral, simply how things work. People can argue about what cause is creating what effect, but that actually has to potential to lead to productive and necessary clarity, whereas “who is to blame?” will never lead to anything but hard feelings, defensiveness, and further conflict.

    I look at these things differently now. I used to ask the kinds of questions you are asking, but that led me, personally, nowhere, whereas now I ask different questions to guide me and move me forward into new clarity.

    You say, “I have no idea how someone without faith could find a way to continue…” I agree, I don’t know either. All I was interested in after grad school was to heal and then get back to work in the world. Turning to “mental health industry” for support only got me sicker and disabled, when I was attempting to go in the other direction.

    The energy and spiritual work (as in, getting to know who I am as a “spirit being,” above and beyond being a “human being,”) is what opened my eyes to new consciousness, so I began to ask new kinds of questions—like, “what are these contracts all about?” referring to my relationship with my own partner. Although I can ask it about any relationship–family members, business partners, friends, enemies, strangers I meet on the street (if that makes a particular impact on me), etc., especially when they are problematic and filled with double-binding situations.

    I believe we operate as per spiritual contracts, that is a core part of my belief system.

    “Double-bind” is a big term for me, I find it to be the essence of “oppression,” which is the main energy I like to address in healing because without getting past that, we’re kind of screwed, I think, and will never be able to fully own our power, which to my mind is inherently detrimental to our well-being.

    That is where I believe we are all equal. We all suffer when we feel oppressed or when we’ve internalized oppression from having lived in an oppressive community or situation. Right now, I believe we’re all feeling it, on one level or another. Seems to be the essence of life in our global society at present, which is what I believe we’re attempting to shift, into more of a feeling of personal freedom. That is healthful on every level, I believe.

    Another thing I believe is universal is that we’re all better off when we can heal this oppression, inside and out. I don’t pit husband against wife or partner against partner or parent against child. In my work and practice—as well as with myself in my own life—I ask, “What is the energy here which is problematic and which is causing stress for everyone concerned?” I feel that is a neutral statement and everyone has a piece of the responsibility. That takes some examination and introspection, as everyone has growth opportunities here, and that is how a system will change through evolution.

    As always, there is so much more to say about this, but I do hope this is a clear response to what you are asking. I wouldn’t say you are being “oversensitive,” I totally understand what you are asking, and why you might interpret what I’m saying as “blaming the partner.” In my relationship, there were things I learned I could do better and there were things my partner learned he could do better. For me, overall, my partner HAD to grow quite a bit before I could really begin to heal. Otherwise, we’d simply be repeating the same dynamic which was not healthy for either one of us, and that is a provable fact, were you to hear the story in detail.

    In the end, he credits my healing for his spiritual and emotional growth, because we were connected that way. But I’m the one that sought this pathway of healing and trusted it. If anyone would have left this relationship due to abusive and double-binding ways, it would have been me. But I’m the one that stuck around and instead chose to have a breakdown (not consciously, but I can see this easily looking back) instead of abandoning the relationship.

    It was treacherous for us both for years and we didn’t know if we could make it through, but at my insistence and persistence, he began to see the cause-and-effect of his energy and, after a lot of resistance, he finally took the same healing path I did, so that he could make core shifts, and that’s when I was able to get back to my innate creativity and grow in all sorts of ways. As a result, we both found our own rhythms and learned to work in unison.

    We are devoted to each other, having both come through our tunnels of darkness, and into the light. But this, only after spending years and years in conflict, confusion, and chaos supreme, and filled with fear that life had disillusioned us both. We trudged forth, examining our contracts and taking full responsibility for each of our paths, energy, and experience of life, and that’s how we came out on the other side unified.

    I’ve said a lot, and I hope at least some of it helps in some way. Very tough situation, I do get this. I followed the light, as it were, and it worked. I got this from Kabbalah, co-creating with the light. I’m Jewish, too, and Kabbalah spoke to me as part of my work. Plus, it overlapped with Chakra work, Law of Attraction, and Buddhist principles of healing. I studied and trained in all of these communities to get as broad perspective as I could on energy, and how it related to the human experience. My conclusion at the end of it all was: we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I live by that and so does my partner. For us, it works because it is our truth, through and through.

    Very, very best wishes to you, Gabi, as you move forward from where you are now.

  • Ok, great, I had thought as such but I’m glad I checked in because I wanted to make sure we had that clarity between us. These issues can be so tricky to discuss openly, especially online. I understand all of our emotional investments in our well-being, and that of our families.

    Yes, any crisis can be exhausting but what we are talking about is yet to be determined in so many ways, which makes it abstract, with so many irreconcilable opinions and perspectives. That is quite a powerful bomb! And as you know, it is, at the core, energy—which, indeed, shakes us up, that’s the whole point because it leads to making us more conscious of ourselves, that is, more awake to who we are.

    How you and your husband experimented with different ways of being is, again, very moving to me, because I can sense how it comes from the heart, to be supportive and help your son to feel his power. In your blog here, you talk about “cellular frequency,” and to me, what you describe can be called “shifting frequency.”

    Life IS an experiment for all of us, and we are naturally flexible, as you have obviously learned. I believe this is a gift for us, to have the ability to shift frequency. We can do this every day until we find the frequency that works for us, and then it will shift again because that is the nature of life, like a river. Sometimes it is placid and relaxing and we can enjoy the fruits of our creative labor thus far; and other times we are in the rapids and have to be more alert to keep balance during rough waters. They are finite, after all, the river is always shifting how it runs its course. Sounds like you are done with the rapids and are ready for a nice, calm lagoon. I know the feeling!

    In energy work, a basic core energy we work with is energy of “ease,” which we can focus into being with intention. That is a very nice and supportive frequency to apply. Doesn’t make challenges go away, but it does help highlight where we can make things a bit easier for ourselves so that the double binding knots kind of untie themselves and we can move forward with a smoother flow.

    Lots more to say about all this, but I will stop here for the sake of this dialogue. You have my contact info if I can be of any further assistance, so please feel free to use it at any time. Many blessings to you and your family for the journey hardily and heartily taken!

  • Rossa, I’m sure you know the utter respect I have for you–at least I hope you have felt this over the years–and I sincerely hope that my perspective here does not undermine this. I’ve worked with families and especially with mothers, and each time my heart opens wider and wider, and my understanding of “the heart of the family” deepens. I can easily feel the anguish, confusion, and the family distress which revolves around dealing with all of this, and I can certainly relate to it, from my own past and from having heard my family’s truth as I spoke mine.

    And I say “all of this” because, honestly, I don’t know how else to put it. What, exactly, is it that we are “dealing with,” here? I believe the jury is still out on this one. Families are families, each one with its own set of unique history, dynamics, contracts, and truth, and that is a highly complex and personal issue.

    My beef, of course, is directly with the “professional” aspect of all this (psychiatry, psychotherapy, social services–aka “the system”) because a few people are making tons of money on what I consider to be a smokescreen, at best, and leaving clients in the dust. Certainly my personal experience with these institutions was abysmal, and turned out, in the end, to be seriously dangerous–and for me, almost fatal. Although after all these years of doing so, I’m done with battling the system. I’ve won a few and lost a few, and I grew into myself from speaking my truth about my experience–kind of a soul-retrieval, if you will.

    My main interest now is to offer whatever information I can from my perspective that will help to bring clarity to the situation, so that we can break this cycle of suffering, one way or another. Again, we’re all doing our best, and, indeed, everyone involved suffers. I’d like to help alleviate that aspect of it, whenever and wherever possible, while still taking care of myself in the process. I think from there, a lot will move forward and new and better dynamics will manifest.

    “They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.”

    This is so interesting because it could be a quote from the one diagnosed (“IP”). I believe the idea of being “punished” (negative consequences) for not going by the established “rules of the game” is exactly what we’re talking about all over this website and when it comes to activism in general. This is the double-binding oppression in which we’ve all existed, and from which people are generally looking to free themselves (at least I think that’s the case, but I’m not going to speak for others). I do believe hardily that truth and authenticity are what lead to clarity, healing, and freedom, whereas deceit is an overt distraction from these.

    Truth-speaking is also a courageous path exactly for this reason, because society will attempt to punish those who follow their own path and veer away from the norm of the community. Leaps of faith are inherent to transformation. It’s not easy, but from my experience, enriching and rewarding, and a game-changer. I think we need that just about now.

  • Samruck, thanks for the response, although I do not identify with being ignorant about these issues. I simply offered my perspective from my experience. I don’t see it as “an attitude,” the way you put it. My only interest and focus is that people be allowed to heal by whatever process suits them best, and that is for them to discover and decide, along with, perhaps, whatever support they trust and with whom they feel safe, for feedback. Period.

  • Hi Gabi, very thoughtful reply, thank you. I appreciate your openness in hearing my perspective and for sharing from where you are coming.

    I’m a psychiatric survivor with my own complex and thorough story of many years drugged, then rugged withdrawal which took a few years, then really great holistic healing came my way, and I even pursued a legal action against the system, for discrimination, which I won. I had been a Marriage Family Therapist intern back in the late 90s, but I defected the field when I realized it was only crashing me–and because it was so obviously based on power dynamics and “othering,” which is what my awakening was really about–whereas subsequent years of energy healing and training worked wonders for me, and is based on radical self-responsibility. I found that in particular to be empowering, as well as opening the doors to radical healing.

    I’ve also been married for 33 years. I was the one with diagnoses and on drugs, but we both had our own demons to face at the same time. It was not a one-sided situation, not in the slightest. Our story of multiple role-reversals during this very intense time for us, that we tell together, opens a lot of eyes. I’ll just say that for now. Perhaps one day we’ll write a book together, when the timing seems right for us to do so.

    On the other side of all this, I’m a mind/body/spirit energy healing practitioner, meditation teacher, musical performer, and I’ve made a feature length film regarding stigma and discrimination in the mental health system which got passed around various mental health communities.

    My story, at the core, is of family healing. That is what I base my entire journey on, starting from before diagnosis, 36 years ago. I have since healed with my family, finally, and in order to do so, the roles HAD to change. Otherwise, I would have been stuck in the same role as always, and at my age (in my 50s), that’s not really an attractive prospect, so I did tons of work in this vein for years and years–involving a lot of challenging truth-communicating, and also shifts in my own perspective and self-perception, and it has paid off handsomely.

    I’m well-individuated from all that, and it’s hard for them, but I’m still there for them when they need support. It was extremely challenging to break the family system, but I believe everyone is better off for it, because at that point, our paths became our own, and I ceased to be enmeshed in that system. I know with certainty that this is what allowed me to heal in the way I had wanted to and that I envisioned I could, when no one else thought I would. Well, I did!

    I guess that, overall, each situation is unique and brings with it unique circumstances which we all do try to address best we can with what we know at that moment. I very much admire your insights regarding your situation, and your obvious fortitude. Not easy situations at all, but indeed, we learn and grow from them. My hope for myself and others always is that suffering can fall by the wayside to be replaced with enjoying life–at least some of the time!

    “At the end of the day, the situation is one long reminder that we can never understand another person and have to judge favorably as far as possible.”

    Love this, and yes I agree, we learn to deepen our compassion–for others and also for ourselves. If we allow ourselves to become drained and tattered, we are no good to anyone. At the same time, we have the opportunity to expand our hearts, and to me, that is what personal growth and healing are all about. It’s a delicate balance, and we learn as we go.

  • “…it’s upsetting for some readers to entertain the idea that they create challenges.”

    It’s true, people can easily resist being mirrored as “challenging,” and often, quite vehemently and defensively (which is challenging in and of itself!). The thing is that this can apply in all directions. I don’t know anyone who cannot pose difficult challenges for another person. I know I have at times, for others, and others have been very challenging for me to deal with. I think it’s how we grow in life, depending on how we address (or not) our challenges, especially in relationship to others.

    When a group of people sit around and discuss how challenging one particular person can be (especially with a label attached), then you are duplicating the “mental health system” because it is based on exactly this dynamic–which is how marginalization occurs, which is exactly systemic abuse, and quite cruel and disempowering at that.

    Everyone goes through passages and transitions in life and can be extremely challenging to deal with at one time or another–kids, parents, patients, doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, presidents, and on and on. Being “a challenge to others” is not a trait assigned to people in one role or another; it is across the social boards and shifts on a continuum, I believe that is natural. Otherwise, you are creating an “identified patient,” which means that this one person will be expected to carry the burden for all that is off balance in that particular community. That’s the problem in all of this, because I don’t see how that can ever be the case, and really sets a person up for failure in life, easily, because they internalize this role.

    The real challenge here is healing this internalized identity, which would mean to find one’s own power and voice in all of this. It is most definitely possible, but it takes a commitment to the healing process as it relates to transformation, because this is what is necessary, I believe, to shift internalized powerlessness-making self-identities.

    I think it’s important to understand that we’re all on a journey of healing and growth, equally. How can that NOT be the case? For me, that is the point of Rossa’s book. At least when I read it, this is one of the main things I took away from it, and I thought it illustrated this perfectly. This is her journey, alongside her son’s journey, which is a separate process of healing and personal evolution. Although one journey does spur another, which is natural and how we are inspired–another way in which nature connects us.

    The assigned roles (patient, doctor, caregiver, et al) are merely different perspectives along the collective journey, which puts each person’s story into a social context. Everyone is healing and growing, that is universal. We’re all just doing it our own way, which others may or may not understand. I don’t believe that matters, in the end, as long as we each understand ourselves.

  • Thank you, Rossa, I’ve very much appreciated your support, as well. I am fortunate that my path of healing coincided with meeting my life goals, so at this point, my sole/soul purpose in life is to give back. It will, indeed, be interesting to discover how I am guided in this regard–all of us, in fact. We are pioneers, and the universe is amazing. Can’t wait to see where we’re all going with this…

  • I’m always so moved to hear your story exploration and discovery with your son, Rossa. You both have invaluable things to share with the world, particularly needed at this time. I hope that one day Chris can feel the inclination to share his perspective.

    Thank you for taking the road less travelled and for chronicling it in The Scenic Route: A Way Through Madness, to share your discoveries, thoughts, and your heart. It is so beautifully written, clear and engaging, I read it in one day, cover to cover, could not put it down. I highly recommend this book to anyone, for many reasons. For one thing, it really shows how creative we can be when it comes to healing, there are always new things to discover.

    But it is your own truth which you continually voice as you take this journey which really strikes a deep chord and rings true, even though I am the other half of a mother-son relationship. Thanks for sharing this most powerful and intimate perspective. It expanded my understanding and compassion, and reminded me that we are ALL on a journey of healing, personal growth, and awakening.