Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Comments by Sera Davidow

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  • Steve,

    Yes, I think you’re on track and are understanding what I’m getting at very well. I *would* ditch the world ‘client’ (as you seemed to realize during your post) as I’ve seen too many people internalize that they are ‘client’ into their identity and that *alone* can keep them stuck in a system that often isn’t truly helping them. But the rest of what you say is great.

    Kurt, I don’t think anyone here (myself included) are trying to say that you are ‘bad’, but I am saying that you haven’t hit the mark yet… You and co-workers may be miles better than the average clinician who hasn’t considered some of the things you have… But you *and* your co-workers and students still seem to be missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

    If, as you indicate below and Steve says above, you’re only here because you care about Bob’s work and the problems with the pharma industry, you’re missing how deep some of the system’s problems run. I don’t mean the occasional time when it got so big that you were able to see it again (as you’ve named a few exceptional examples above), but when it just stayed at that sort of day-to-day level of bad and power-ridden and oppressive so that it was mostly invisible to those who weren’t looking for it.

    This is the nature of most systemic oppression. The big and obvious examples are able to seen by *most*. But the system actually runs on the more insidious, harder to see stuff… Harder to see because you’re on the power end of it, and so it just looks like business as usual to you. And by you, I don’t mean *you*, but really anyone who is living on the privilege end of the stick (so, also you).

    It’s the *same* phenomenon that means the average white person *can* easily see the really egregious examples of racism, but has a much harder time pulling out the conditions or microagressions that are truly what sets up the environment for those bigger things to happen… Same with sexism… and homophobia… and all of it.

    I hope you’ll spend some more time trying to see.


  • Yes, I misapplied *one* statement (about people being ultimately happy to be in hospital). Everything else has been a response to you. Nothing I said in my last comment – and only one bit of my first comment – had anything to do with what I misapplied.

    Kurt, You’ve come here to this site for the first time… a site full of people who’ve lived these things (though that’s certainly not representative of all bloggers here or the site’s full point), but you don’t seem to have a lot of respect for that. Or, at least, that’s how you come across to me.

    No, I don’t know who you are. But, I do know that what you’re conveying – as I believe someone else said – comes across as feeling tone deaf to me. You’re talking about what you believe to work in the world of ‘suicide prevention’ (a problematic concept at its very roots), but you are speaking in some of the least human-sounding language about what is the most human of matters: life and death.

    I don’t think you can fully see it, which is why I brought up privilege. I hope something makes it all more visible to you at some point.


  • Okay. I was trying to be reasonably polite. This might be somewhat less so.

    Your response – and much of your blog – comes across as pretty pretentious and … well, I’ll leave it at that.

    In fairness to you, I did mix up some of my notes and was attributing some of what Dickson said above to you…So, apologies for that much.

    However, the rest is for you. Your overly academic way of speaking, assumptions about what people (including myself) do and don’t know, and globalized way of speaking about *all* of your students and virtually *all* of your co-workers as somehow different and more special than almost every other clinical worker in the country is extremely off putting.

    And sure, you can’t vouch for an entire website of tools… The problem is, if you’re going to blindly direct people to such a thing, you might want to offer *some* information about just how much drek they might have to sort through. It’s not just that some will work better culturally for some groups than others, and vice versa. Some of it is actually dangerous. Some of it is primarily a marketing tool to get kids into ‘treatment’.

    It’s interesting that you defaulted to your whiteness and maleness when referencing my comment about privilege. It is true, you are privileged in that way, and I share the privilege of whiteness with you. However, what I was specifically referring to is your privilege of power in your role. You’ve never been – at least as far as I can tell – on the opposite end of the ‘suicide prevention’ stick. I have. Almost everyone I work with has. The privilege of not having ever been there – and not living on that cusp now – is big, and I do not think that you recognize it.

    You’re all theory and acronyms. I’m familiar with CAMS (and if I wasn’t, I luckily say through the aforementioned extraordinarily painful and offensive suicide training on Tuesday where it was reviewed). I’m also familiar with the BS that is ‘Zero Suicide’, I’m intensively trained in DBT by Charlie Swenson and Cindy Sanderson. Blah blah blah. I *know* what you’re talking about.

    And I disagree with most of it.

  • Kurt,

    I have admittedly only read through your blog and then skimmed the comments, so I may be missing something already said in the subsequent dialogue, but I would like to point out that you have linked to a ‘suicide prevention’ resource that promotes products that are – in some cases – pharmaceutically funded. For example, it includes the SOS program about which I wrote a blog (https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/01/middle-school-invasion-when-the-pharmaceutical-companies-come-to-town/) when they tried to peddle it to my son at his middle school.

    While I understand what you’re getting at with some of what you write, I found myself reacting with concern to a number of points. For example, this emphasis on restriction of means… It reminds me of a suicide and self-injury training I attended earlier this week.. One (of many of) the most disturbing moments was when the trainer said that – after a particular suicide – he restricted anyone receiving services at the org where he worked from living in an apartment that was any higher than the second floor. Great. (Not really.)

    I’m also having trouble getting past your statements about people basically being happy to be locked up and become powerless… I mean, sure, some people experience an *element* of that, but if that’s your main takeaway on most occasions, I fear for what you’re missing.

    On the whole, I hope you realize that when you live the privilege of as much power as you hold, it’s almost *inevitable* that you’ll be missing several elements of what it is like to live on the other side of that power split. I hope you’ll hold that in mind and consider it deeply as you move forward.


  • Steve, I appreciate your comments here. I really don’t see autistic people telling other autistic people that they *must* be happy to be autistic, or that points of struggle that may somehow be connected to being autistic aren’t actually struggles… Same for people with various psychiatric diagnoses.

    What I *DO* see is people with those experiences saying ‘let me decide for myself what is ‘struggle’ and why, and stop trying to speak for me, or force your ideas on me based on your perspectives’…


  • Strandra,

    If you haven’t heard people say ‘I want it back’ or, more commonly, ‘I wouldn’t want to lose it’ in regards to some of the experiences that have led to their psychiatric diagnoses, than you surely haven’t been listening. I have heard *lots* of people say they wouldn’t want to lose their voices, especially once they’ve learned to navigate them. I’ve heard many people say they appreciate the benefits their various sensitivities bring, especially once they’ve learned to balance them and navigate the world. And so on and so forth

    As to polio and who was or wasn’t ‘born this way’… Many people certainly do have the experiencing of having been born autistic, or neruodivergent and coming to appreciate many of the benefits that have come with that for them.

    Your excuse that many people who are autistic have difficulty with communicate is immediately belied by hundreds of thousands of autistic voices, several of which are found in the links I have included in this blog. Sure, there are people who would choose otherwise… Many of us would choose something different than what we have, the intensity and variances of our why or why nots are based on many different variables. I’d not take away from someone their desire to be different… but you’re ignoring and discounting MANY people with your extremely simplistic response.

    Perhaps even more importantly, whether or not you think of autism as an example of born neurodiversity, there are many points in this blog that hold either way. And there are many voices that I include that you might benefit from hearing.


  • John,

    Sami is great. I’ve met and interviewed him for a film I’m working on.

    However, I don’t feel like it’s my place to argue against such a diagnosis, when people who are quite empowered and educated about their experiences say otherwise.

    What’s clear to me is that the approach of Autism Speaks and NAMI are abusive and damaging, and that can certainly drive a diagnostic process that is dehumanizing (such as the one that led to my own pscyh diagnoses, which I’ve since discarded). And, I’ve certainly heard from people who’ve been given autistic diagnoses that oppose or feel harmed by them.

    But, I don’t think it’s necessary to buy into a ‘autism diagnoses’ are inherently bad or wrong framework in order to see that was Autism Speaks has to offer is terrible!


  • Hmmm… Looking at the 990s for the overall orgs is interesting. Have you checked them out?

    Here’s what I find for Autism Speaks on the contributions/grants line:

    (2012) 53,245,999.
    (2013) 63,725,069.
    (2014) 57,552,851.
    (2015) 58,085,859.

    Unfortunately, that shows an overall upward trend, albeit gradual/small.

    For NAMI, I find:

    (2012) 8,375,875
    (2013) 8,605,802
    (2014) 11,226,125
    (2015) 7,934,069

    So, they each have a bump year where things were substantially higher and that seems not particularly reflective of the overall trend… NAMI seems less clearly going up, but not exactly consistently headed down either…

    And *holy crap*, I didn’t realize that Autism Speaks was that much bigger than NAMI overall.

    Interesting stuff.

  • The_Cat,

    I don’t know if there’s an easy way to truly measure that… When I personally just googled ‘NAMI criticisms’ two of the articles that popped up on the very first page were:



    I myself have also written about NAMI on more than one occasion:



    (Though I’m certainly not making the front page of any google searches)…

    And while I wouldn’t choose to promote anything from CCHR (being the Scientology front group that they are), all four of the above links note the NAMI/Pharma link.

    And, as I said at the top, I’m just not sure how to measure the success in fighting back. It doesn’t seem we’re too successful as of yet on either front. Hoping we can change that somehow!


  • Thanks, Feelingdiscoruaged.

    I should clarify that the woman’s org analogy was from an autistic blogger who goes by codeman38.

    I intentionally quoted and referenced a number of autistic people here, because I did not want to be just another non-autistic person speaking about autistic experiences, without actually including those voices. Though I recognize the risk in doing so under my name is still that their words could be attributed to me, so I want to be careful about clarifying that when I can, too.

    I really appreciate this point: “Normal people are allowed to be assertive, independent and have good self esteem. For the “mentally ill” these are no no’s.”

    I’m glad it feels like your voice and awareness are coming back.


  • Pat,

    I’m not sure I’m totally following what you mean? I love to write and stir things up, but as you know, I also work in a world where many of us are out there doing the work in person, too.

    I really don’t think there’s agreement on this national certification business, including that it needed to exist at all. Thus, I don’t know that the answer is to simply offer MHA some competition.


  • Julie, I hear you. I think the only challenge with *no* training if we’re going to do this whole ‘peer’ thing is that *so* many people go through some of those life experiences and come out the other end all full of internalized oppression. I have to admit that I do find *some* training helpful on top of all that personal life experience to help work through some of that, think through what it really means to ‘be’ with people, be curious, support, etc. But overall, I appreciate your post a lot. 🙂

  • Stephen,

    If I had more time on my hands, I’d be fascinated to do some research that involves not only comparing licensure requirements between these various professions and the peer role, but *also* the logistics involved in meeting those requirements as they differ for each, *AND* how they’re applied… For example, I imagine a requirement that one put their licensure on ‘hold’ as a dentist is *likely* to bear many fewer actual risks and lower likelihood of abuse than for a peer role. Oy. What a mess.


  • Frank,

    Overall, I agree with you the idea that everyone who goes into the system should come out as its employee. However, there are many people for him that has been a really important path. Many of my co-workers have seen the depths of the system, and now get much satisfaction out of fighting against it in the way that they do. Of course, most of them also work with the RLC which is much less direct than working for a traditional provider. Working in a traditional provider in a peer role is a terribly hard position to sustain and not lose sight of one’s self again.

  • Hi The_cat. Comparing some of what happens in this world with Munchausen Syndrome is interesting… There does seem to be a bit of a common element in terms of somehow getting emotional gratification via public attention associated with one’s child’s struggles… Although, I’d stop short of the idea that most of these parents don’t also really care about their kids and wouldn’t find it much more important for their kids to be in a happier, better place.

    Thank you for the story! I look forward to checking it out.

  • Laysha,

    It is a really good question, and not one to which I have the answer. Of course, my fantasy is that articles like this one and word of mouth will prevent so any people from taking the damn thing – or organizations from being willing to pay for it – that it will fall apart for lack of funding. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely, but it won’t keep me from trying!!

    Do you have any other suggestions?


  • Dan,

    It’s all needed. As you know, I spend most of my day focused on creating. This recent Sun Magazine article speaks to much of what I’m doing with my day job 🙂 http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/496/an-open-mind

    But speaking out against the Globe… and hoping others are listening (both those who might join in the speaking out, and those who might be swayed by the speaking), whether or not the Globe folks themselves are… It’s all important.


  • Hi Julie,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, as always. 🙂 I know it’s true that the Globe is not alone… though it’s beyond my capacity to poke at them at all. :p But almost everything I write could be lifted and applied to these other outlets as well. Though I worry that the Globe’s Spotlight Team has more capital and credibility than most. I mean, they’re saying the same stuff everyone else is, but already seem to have been lauded more than most for doing so… as if they’re saying something new.

    Anyway, I’m sorry about your CBFS experience. 🙁 I wish it were more surprising…


  • I fail to see how you’re interpreting me as having said much of anything about Hilary Clinton, let alone that she would have been some sort of savoir? This blog is quite clearly primarily about the problem of diagnosing Trump. While I do express some negative feelings toward him on occasion, that doesn’t change the primary focus and has next to nothing to do with what I do or don’t think about Hilary or how she would have treated people who’ve been psychiatrically labeled… That seems like quite a leap…


  • Thanks, Zippy. I appreciate you’re mansplaining… Though, I’m not 100% sure you’re a man? Are you? An, thanks for your mansplaining explanation… It’s always good – as someone who has experienced a particular type of oppression – to be told by someone who hasn’t when and when not to be offended!

    Thank you 🙂


  • Zippy,

    You’re treading in territory where many of experienced systemic oppression that has crushed their lives and spirits. You’re speaking from a place of privilege when you tell those who’ve experience oppression that you have not that they’re trying to curtail your speech and thinking. What I’m telling you is that that terminology has been used to harm people. It has done harm. It continues to do harm.

    I suspect you could find another way to express your meaning. Kind of like you could express your concern for Trump’s behavior without using the non-science of psychiatric labels that have also harmed people.


  • “We shouldn’t be squeamish about applying DSM criteria upon the powerful. Otherwise it remains only a way of manipulating the less powerful in this society.”

    That’s an interesting point, lizadeeza. You seem to both be acknowledging that it’s a manipulation, *and* wanting to see groups across classes more equally ‘manipulated’? I’m not sure I get that.

    Certainly, many of us see that he’s a danger to this country. I maintain that I don’t need the DSM to see that.


  • It is not my fear. It is a reality. One I see *every* day for hundreds of thousands of people.

    No one is suggesting we ignore people are struggling. What we are suggesting is that these experiences of struggle are very human, and often environmentally related in some way… And that we need not segregate out those who are struggling with diagnosis. This medicalized manner of regarding people’s human suffering came about for many reasons… To make psychiatrists feel more legitimate… For the purpose of billing. As an effort to to reduce what you keep calling ‘stigma’ (and I would call prejudice and discrimination).

    It has succeeded only at those first two causes, ant not to anyone’s betterment.


  • I am suggesting that people struggle. Sometimes deeply. And that it leads us far down the wrong path to understand those *human* struggles by lumping them all into *medicalized* groupings that are largely artificial.

    Sure, *sometimes* people will speak to benefits… Helped them better connect with others with similar struggles and hear what’s worked for them, etc. But the benefits are far outweighed by the negative impacts, many of which I’ve already mentioned.

    We’d be far better off seeing struggle as struggle, and then being able to pick and choose from the array of supports that people have used to make their way through such struggles… Lumping the struggle into a man made category that does not objectively exist, narrows our view and our options and does harm to many of us.


  • I do not ‘have’ a ‘personality disorder’. I have a diagnosis that was the subjective opinion of other human beings, based on the subjective process of man made creation of that diagnosis for which there is no test and cannot be a test because it is literally only a way of trying to boil down what is going on with someone.

    And, if that way of boiling down an explanation didn’t lead to poor assumptions about what to ‘do’ with them, and/or lead to discrimination against them in all matters of life (including child rearing, employment, housing and basic freedom), that wouldn’t be the end of the world. But that’s not how it works.

  • I was diagnosed with a ‘Personality Disorder’ at one point in my life. What it did most effectively was give those who hurt and traumatized me a pass, because the diagnosis suggested it was a ‘mental illness’. The best thing I did to ‘cure’ my ‘mental illness’ was get *away* from the system and all the ‘help’ they were trying to provide me. Whether or not the various things I was doing then or since then had any relation to any sort of diagnosis is completely subjective opinion. But, somehow, I’ve managed to be a successful mother and leader of a fairly complex organization.

    Your ‘perspective’ is *exactly* the sort of thing that leads people to lose their kids because of a psychiatric diagnosis, or not be hired into complex and stressful jobs… Your ‘perspective’ would serve to ruin my life, and it has ruined the lives of many others.

    Look at what someone is doing, not some subjective, man made diagnosis.

  • Yes, it sure is discrimination… It is making assumptions and limitings someone potential based strictly on some sort of label… and, in this instance, it’s a label that has no objective proof as to its existence. What about having been diagnosed makes someone unqualified to act as president? Having been formally diagnosed does not necessarily make someone unreliable or dangerous, nor does NOT qualifying for a diagnosis render someone reliable or ‘safe’. Additionally, having a diagnosis and doing something strange or dangerous doesn’t necessarily mean that one did the later *because* of the former.

    The primary benefit you are offering to diagnosing this man is based on playing on the country’s fears and prejudice about ‘mental illness’ itself to your own advantage. I get that, but it is harmful to do so, because it feeds into erroneous and damaging beliefs that already act as the basis for this system of oppression where psychiatric diagnosis is concerned.

    This is not ‘political correctness’. That’s just an insulting way to shut down the conversation. This is people’s lives. We don’t need diagnosis to see that what he is doing is wrong and dangerous.


  • Let me give a quick summary of the point of the article:

    1. Why is whether or not he qualifies for a psychiatric diagnosis relevant to whether or not he is president? It actually doesn’t matter. What matters is what he’s *doing* as president, and whether or not he is demonstrating that he is fit to serve.

    2. He could have or not have a formal diagnosis, and that wouldn’t tell us anything, and to suggest it would is discriminatory and misguided.

    3. Pointing the finger at some ‘disorder’ in his brain does little to help us examine how we got to the point where we were willing to elect someone who demonstrates the characteristics you describe above.

    4. Arguing about this legitimizes that which is not legitimate… Psychiatric diagnosis is a system heavily influenced by privilege, racism, sexism, and various other biases. Diagnoses can’t be objectively ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ because they’re not objective. This is a distraction, and harmful to those of us who have experienced societal oppression due to the legitimization of such things.


  • Eh, systemic racism refers to all of the systems that we live entangled within. Every last bit of it, as it is an overall system that was designed by white, christian, (etc. etc.) men. In general, systems are racist and people’s actions and words are bigoted. Since racism and sexism etc. are systemic issues, referring to one person *as* that thing doesn’t make a ton of sense. It makes much more sense to say they are a part of it, or have somehow perpetuated or supported it, etc. In some ways this is just semantics, but overall, I think it’s critical that these issues be recognized as systemic and so I think it’s important at that level to try and use the words properly.

    In any case, I don’t really think that argument is particularly helpful here. I get to share some of my political perspective in my blogs. You get to disagree. My overall point about Trump and psychiatric diagnosis remains the same. I’m going to stop responding to this thread now. 🙂


  • Eh, I don’t particularly agree with the frame of ‘everyone is racist/sexist/etc.’ However, I *do* agree with the frame that all white people benefit from white privilege and have participated in systemic racism, and ditto all men re: male privilege/systemic sexism, and so on.

    You can keep putting words in my mouth because … well… this is the comments section and you get to comment… But I didn’t say ‘gotcha’… I pointed out both those who did vote for him and those who didn’t for different reasons. And I *do* think it’s a sign of a real problem that so many voted for him when he was behaving like such an overt bigot and they thought that wasn’t important enough to not vote for him. And, frankly, I’ve heard so many non-white people speak to how that has felt for them to know so many people saw that and didn’t think it was enough to not vote for him…

    So, I stand by what I say. Thanks for trying to talk me out of it, though!


  • Don,

    Thanks! I guess I just really feel differently about looking at things *other* than people as being ‘sick’ in their way. ‘Societal ills’ means something very different than ‘mental ills’. The former quite specifically leads to examining (and hopefully undoing) that which is oppressive, while the latter does just the opposite. They seem quite fundamentally different to me.

    But, there’s never anything wrong with explaining precisely what is going on, so I won’t argue that that would be valuable!


  • oldhead,

    I don’t know that I’d frame it as ‘attacking’. I *do* question both those who voted for him, and those who failed to have a strong enough alternative to prevent that. I do come from the position of thinking Trump is a bad choice for this country. I do also personally – although it’s not particularly represented here – come from a place where to vote for him isn’t necessarily to be a racist/sexist/etc. but *is* basically saying one is *okay* with those things…

    I feel okay about having an opinion, and I also feel okay about expressing that opinion in what I write.


  • oldhead, Where precisely am I treating what he says as his imagination? As I said in my response to him, Mad in America *does* allow for inclusion of opinion from its writers. I never said that the blog doesn’t express negative opinions about Trump. However, they are fairly low key, and none of it changes the fact that – love him or hate him – diagnosing him is harmful to all of us.


  • Read as you choose, of course. Mad in America does leave room for author opinions provided they don’t overrun the overall point, and so you will indeed find my thoughts and feelings on a number of issues throughout many of my posts. For example, surely you would be able to tell from my blog on ‘Split’ that I didn’t like the film, etc.

    If you feel so strongly about Trump, that one blog that expresses negative feelings about him within a much broader context of diagnosing him being harmful to us all is enough for you to write off the entire site… well, that seems unfortunate to me, but who am I to argue. I hope you find what you seek!

  • Thanks for your comment! Reading and being reminded of some of these historical perceptions and realities was interesting! I did try to raise a similar point at the start of my article as you probably saw… that this whole idea that it’s all worse for a few diagnosis or that diagnosis makes for a bad president makes no sense!


  • Uprising,

    I’m not so sure I agree… But, of course, I wrote it so that’s no surprise!

    But I think it’s complicated. Some people absolutely like his attitudes and approaches and I think that’s a sign of a societal ill. Others were indifferent to them. And I think that’s a sign of a societal ill. Others were desperate to believe his promises because of how terrible things already were. And that’s a sign of a societal ill. And nobody on any side was really able to produce a solid candidate or come together to ward off what’s befallen us. And that’s a sign of a societal ill. All of it.

    While I’m not down with the idea of ‘mental illness’ I am absolutely down with the idea that people use ‘mental illness’ as a way to try and cover or deflect blame for ‘societal illness’…

    Beyond that, though, I don’t really want to get involved in a Democrats vs. Republicans debate, here… It feels too important to stick to the idea that – no matter where you’re coming from politically – it’s a problem to be calling Trump ‘mentally ill.’


  • AntiP,

    I certainly wasn’t suggesting Frances is *any* sort of solution… But I did think what he said in his own ‘Trump is not mentally ill’ article was revealing and of value (in a way totally different than how he meant it), nonetheless!

    I think you make an important and valid point here:
    “the further requirement that is crucial in defining all mental disorders — the behaviors also must cause clinically significant distress or impairment”.

    NOOOOOOT TRUE. Where i live (DSM criteria applies), you get get locked in a mental hospital (for months), by just refusing to take psychiatric drugs. Allen Frances knows that. Every psychiatric nurse knows that.”

    And, I too considered pointing out that his statement about needing to be suffering/impaired was actually not accurate… HOWEVER, there *is* something accurate about it all the same… That privilege that keeps a certain group from being labeled and losing power in the same way as most of the rest… And that’s where Id ecided to focus. Both are true.


  • Thanks for your comments, Tina. I appreciate your bringing in more of the legal context of using diagnosis to prove Trump unfit… I also agree that crisis can serve to bring us together. I hope we end up looking back at all this as a time that drove us toward meaningful and long lasting *positive* change somehow.


  • Frank, I kind of lumped all the terms together in this article… In part, because whatever you call it, I do think that who gets labeled as ‘mad’ or ‘mentally ill’ or ‘crazy’ is subject to essentially the same power dynamics and societal structure… But overall, I agree with you that ‘mentally ill’ is the worse of the three because it not only labels, but also attempts to explain *why* in a way that I find particularly damaging and not based in much objective reality.

  • Thanks for reading, John. I agree that the current fragmentation between our communities, and that many of us (including those who’ve been most marginalized) have been taught to turn on one another rather than looking at those in power, has been a significant part of what’s made space for this phenomenon.

  • Eh, I’m going to steer clear of giving *anyone* a psych diagnosis, bcharris.. But I hear what you’re saying. I definitely thing our citizens need to take a look around at themselves to better understand how we got here… And not necessarily entirely in blame, but we do need to figure out how on earth we got here so that we can, perhaps, have a shot and digging ourselves out!


  • Hi Kallena,

    Thanks so much for your comment. I checked out my language (I’d originally used the term ‘alter’ and got feedback that that was not ideal and that ‘personality’ and ‘part’ were better), so I apologize if I got that piece wrong. And thank you for sharing additional layers in terms of how parts might work together and influence one another, etc.

    I’m also saddened here (and wherever) I see people trying to force frameworks on each other, even when it’s a non medical one. It just seems to be a way of being that misses a large part of the point of what we’re fighting for…


  • Nomadic,

    I know you don’t know me in person, but I’m the one who says that none of the system stuff – not therapy, not the diagnoses, not the drugs, none of it – worked for me. That ‘non-compliance’ saved my life. That getting away from the system when I did saved my life. Also, whenever I share my story, I share how problematic the word ‘recovery’ is and how it’s just another part of the ‘mental health/illness’ box that I don’t want to be in. So, you’ll get no argument from me on much of what you say.

    And at the same time, I just don’t find myself wanting to be another person who tells someone else how to live or what they need to do to find their own way. In fact, sometimes, I think doing that actually pushes people *more* into the system, rather than helping them be open to at least considering if there’s another way.

    To be clear, this in *no way* amounts to me encouraging people into system stuff. I spend the bulk of my time trying to build alternative choices to all that, and sharing information about things beyond the medical model, etc. But I don’t want to be just another person in someone’s life saying, ‘Hey, I know better than you.’

    It’s a tricky balance.


  • Hmmm… I replied to this yesterday, but it seems it didn’t show up, so let’s try again:

    Thanks, Steve! 🙂 I particularly appreciate your sharing about the woman who used her ‘teenager’ personality (that she used against people she found threatening) against the psychiatrist. It says a ton about the dynamic we have going in this country with the system that is supposed to ‘help’!


  • Vortex,

    I quite disagree with the idea that ‘Alternative Facts’ are what we offer here, as noted in a previous response to a commenter. I see ‘Alternative Facts’ (as they’re currently being offered up in the media) as NOT facts. People in this world all too often confuse what is opinion with what is fact, and in many instances those ‘Alternative Facts’ are just. not. facts. 🙂 As we get accused of being ‘anti-science’ and all that, I often find we’re being so accused by people who refuse to look at the actual science. I find people I’ve met from this website, on the other hand, to be particularly interested in what research has to say.

    Meanwhile, it is an error in evaluation to simply count up what the majority of villains *look* like. What I spoke to was the *ratio* of representation… Number of characters represented positively who are from a particular group verses number of characters represented in some negative way. Totally different reference point.

    I find it really unfortunate that you are making the assertions you are about race (mostly irrelevant in the 2010s? Really?), and that it is actually your apparent need to diminish the relevance and prevalence of racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on as it very clearly exists in today’s pop culture. My comment on that point amount to one sentence in the actual blog. At this point, it is you and other commenters who feel they must argue about it that are actually diverting the focus away from what this blog was actually about.

    I am hoping that most commenters will be interested in talking about the actual blog and its points. I’m going to do my best to resist the urge to respond to further comments on this point. 🙂



  • Thanks for all your thoughts, CatNight. I remember the ‘Caps for Sale’ book from my son’s childhood (somehow we missed it with my daughter several years later). I’m actually not familiar with the pieces you mentioned (King of Hearts and Madwoman of Chaillot), but curious to look them up! Somehow, I think we need something of … Harry Potter… status or something… that really takes hold in pop culture, but gets at all these issues!


  • Matt,

    I say what I say because it’s cis, white, heterosexual men who are most frequently portrayed on TV and in movies as strong, smart, non-criminals and non-sex objects, etc. I say what I say because the ‘default’ role for the portrayal of a white, heterosexual man in pop culture is *not* as the disposable sidekick for comic relief or who is most easily expendable when someone needs to be killed off. I say that because the majority of big Hollywood (etc.) directors and producers are white men who so commonly create starring roles in their own ‘default’ way of thinking (also influenced by what they think will ‘sell’)… which is basically in their image. This doesn’t make them (necessarily) ‘bad’ or ‘evil’, not does it make the average man so. It’s simply more evidence of our container, and how we’ve been taught to think and prioritize and skew. Media is no different than any other part of our culture in that way.

    What you say – that more people of color experience poverty, and so on – is certainly also accurate. But, this is not what is at the root of this phenomenon, even if it’s one influencing factor.

    Race (and gender, etc.) are *always* a relevant issue. Because ‘systemic oppression’ means just that. *Systemic*.

    Thanks for your comment, and for giving me the opportunity to explain. 🙂


  • Thanks, Matt. Yes, at some point, the Globe agreed to publish an editorial I wrote, and I made a point to highlight some of the bad in the current system that they’re ignoring and some of the good (like Open Dialogue) potential they’re overlooking. They published it, but it doesn’t seem to have actually impacted them at all…

    And yeah, it seems so incredibly disingenuous for any of the Globe crew to be hanging on to claims that they’re not pro force (or paternalism). They are terribly clear where they stand in the excerpts such as the ones you cited above.

  • Dear all,

    I am writing just to let you know that I am headed out of town and away from Internet connectivity for most of the next week.

    My general policy as a writer is to respond at least once to each commenter, but I just won’t be able to do that much after today and until the 27th or so.

    I apologize in advance for my silence, and thank you all for reading this blog and any comments you might make. 🙂


  • Steve,

    So true that logic clearly fails here. And it fails so terribly, that the most logical, fact based speakers among us are looked upon as anti-scientific jokes a solid amount of the time. I wish I knew what to do with that, as well. Because I myself feel like I’m stuck in a loop of trying to present logic (albeit with a healthy dose of sarcasm alongside it), and it’s obviously just not enough.

  • Hey Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment and appreciation of my writing style. I know it sometimes gets a little too sarcastic for some. 😉

    I did honestly flag a bit in my energy to cover this series, hence this blog covering four Globe articles at once… However, when Kelly (whose story is featured here) reached out to me and I read the awful San Antonio piece, it was just the kick I needed to not let the whole thing close with at least one more response!

    I just wish we could figure out how to get heard (and get those stories like what you mention here about psych drugs heard) in a much, much broader way.

  • Thanks, Frank. You’re absolutely right that sensationalism was the ‘wind beneath the wings’ of Murphy and his ilk. There are so many powerful societal forces (sensationalism, greed, etc.) at work here that it feels terribly hard to effectively interrupt it here. Hoping these articles have at least served to put a bit more doubt in some people’s minds.

  • Icagee,

    Thanks so much for your comment. I absolutely think there are many of us here who would be able to design supports that would be far more helpful than anything currently offered. And, thank you for some of your own ideas.

    The discrimination one is also huge. Unfortunately, there seems to be an underlying perception among many that when it comes to psych diagnoses many instances of discrimination aren’t actual discrimination, because they’re just ‘truth’.


  • Bcharris,

    I feel a little confused by your comment. Peer-to-peer support is really about coming at supporting one another with as little power differential and as much mutuality as possible. So, being responsible for sending police out on certain situations or being trained in martial arts for use on the job feels confusing to me?

    There’s several other things I feel inclined to say, but since I’m overall not sure I understand exactly your vision, I don’t want to jump into many directions trying to guess.

    Let me know if you want to clarify!