Comments by Naas Siddiqui, BA, CPS, MA

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  • Dalel- I wish I could help you more than I probably can right now. I’m in a space of laying low. Going through chemical detox from psychiatric drugs is a very difficult process- and many times a lot of trauma reactions that were smothered by drugs resurface – also traumatic memories and triggers resurface. For me a lot of things from years past resurfaced out of context years later, and it was very chaotic. In some places cops are getting trauma trained- but racism also can also impact policing too. I would suggest helping your brother nutritionally, and also help him identify his triggers. Some of us have trauma from bad therapy, but finding a compassionate therapist can be helpful- Maybe also when he is in a better place and feels safe he can write apologies. It terms of legal aid- perhaps a disability rights focused group could help.

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  • i know that i suffered from PTSD symptoms and flashbacks and anxiety responses from witnessing and experiencing police violence as a non violent activist in riot police situations- i participated in many demonstrations in my 20s, and stuff started resurfacing in my 30s. i’m glad mad in america is covering this. i’m also very sad and upset that many black and latino men and boys have fear of police violence as a daily struggle in the USA.

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  • Yes. but who’s mostly doing the diagnosing in the USA? white clinicians. i wish Mad in America would address American racism for real. race is also a whole different ball of wax in the UK. i brought up race for real with the mad in america staff awhile ago, and i was censored by Robert Whitaker. i’ve given up on this site when it comes to looking at racial disparities from the angle of racial justice. i do appreciate your article though. thanks.

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  • I am a survivor of Project Monarch mind control. I have free will now. I can behave how I want. I have had a lot of fun in my life with sexual expressiveness. But I have also had to bear a lot of pain and secrets. I have decided that I don’t want to be seen as a sex object anymore- so I will not behave like one. I know that some people see my body as a commodity. And I can’t change that. I have my history. And I can’t change that. But I can influence the present and the future.
    The commodification of women’s bodies and brown women’s bodies has been going on for years and years and years in human history. It did not start in my family. It happened to me during college. I already had the capacity to dissociate as a coping mechanism though because I did suffer from childhood trauma and adversity because my father suffered from PTSD and a hard childhood himself. But it starts in some people’s families. Very sad. And very sadistic. It also happens to boys and men. Shame on the people who do this. My understanding is that it has happened to at least 2 million Americans and it continues today.

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  • interview with an MK Ultra Survivor. 🙁

    my life too. fragmented. long memory blocks. sexual access to me. more recently, sometimes people i would meet would ask me if i was an undercover cop, and i didn’t understand why- they would say i knew too much. people would just share crazy situations with me about government conspiracy and i didn’t understand why. i have incredibly fast reflexes. i have flashbacks of reconnaissance missions.

    but i am ok now.

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  • Please also never forget that it was exposed in the Hoffman Report c. 2014-2015 that heads of the American Psychological Association were colluding and collaborating with the military in torture. Please also never forget that Abu Grahib happened and the torture victims. Please also never forget that activists and whistleblowers are tortured. Keep us safe. Keep us safe. Keep us safe.

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  • I feel I can safely say that I no longer would be classified as a person with multiple personality or dissociative identity disorder as it is now called, but one could call me culturally competent, and theatrical at times, and perhaps suave.

    Please check out this new book on Marilyn Monroe and other creative geniuses- Marilyn was in the foster care system. Also look at Hershel Walker’s story. And Roseanne Barr’s story. And watch Fight Club….

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  • Now I see myself more as a drug addict in recovery more than a person with bipolar disorder which was the main diagnosis given to me by the mental health system. My first diagnosis before Rx drugs was Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but the only drugs I took were those prescribed to me by my GP and psychiatrists. I feel like I share commonalities with many people in opioid recovery. I have spent time on the streets but not significant time. One advantage that I have is that I don’t have any desire to pick up, and I don’t have to avoid people, places and things around this trigger, because I never tried illegal substances. Another privilege I have is that I don’t have chronic unbearable pain.

    I have 1 year and 3 months in sobriety, after 15 years of psychiatric drugs. Very glad to live substance/chemical free.

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  • don’t i know? 🙁 was on it for 12 years. and was put on doses up to 20 mg. so happy to be psychiatric drug free. at least i never gambled. personally for me being on Abilify led me to problematic and sometimes dangerous impulsivity and compulsivity in my life, and it took almost a year after total withdrawal to stabilize from the way it disrupted homeostasis in my body, brain, and psychology. it also wiped my memory and made me go psychotic from sleep deprivation during withdrawal- but at least i was able to piece parts of my life back together through the dream/nightmare like visions during these times that severely disrupted my work and personal life, and now i can relate to people who’ve done psychedelics and have developed a great capacity for mindfulness? (kind of a sarcastic comment!!). yes, so happy to be psychiatric drug free. i’m continuing to regain my memory- but now through body memory and object/people reminders.
    adverse side effects vary…Article: “Revealed: The prescription drug for depression that ‘drives users to binge on sex, gambling, shopping, and food’

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  • Bringing up the topic of compulsive sex as a side effect of Abilify is hard as a survivor of this. i was on Abilify particularly for 12 years, and was put on dosages up to 20 mg. it was incredibly hard for me to come off Abilify, especially since most of my psychiatrists wouldn’t let me, but i finally found an integrative psychiatrist in San Francisco who supported me in coming off. So happy to be psychiatric drug free. My sexual behavior was not just formed by side effects of psychiatric drugging, but i know that that being on this psychiatric drug that was prescribed to me as treatment contributed to putting me very risky and compulsive situations with regards to sexual behavior, and this became normalized for me, and i had to deal with rape on more than one occasion as a consequence, slut shaming as a consequence, and being ostracized, and facing the consequences of hurt lovers feelings and burning bridges because i was so unpredictable. i grew up with certain values around sex – i grew up in a devout Muslim family, so this behavior had very devastating consequences as well to my relationship with my family and how they viewed me.
    figuring out healthy sexual behavior for myself and values now is really important for me, now that i’ve been psychiatric drug free for over a year. Article “Patients say Abilify turned them into compulsive gamblers and sex addicts”.

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  • I wanted to share a very short personal story about the formation of my core identity struggles and formative factors in my worldview, since identity politics is such a potent, relevant and important topic right now, and how people’s worldviews have developed is important to look at if there is a desire to create dialogue in these charged times. My dad liked to boast about me when I was growing up- He’s a professor, and used to tell everybody this story about me from when I was in nursery school. I went to a Friends nursery school (Quaker tradition) in a rich, white, politically progressive very small town (pop around 6,000 at the time). I got in trouble with my nursery school teacher because I was overly insistent to the other kids that it was a “mala” not a “necklace”. My first language is Bangla. My parents taught me two words in English before I went to school- “potty” and “hello”. My parents had fluency in English- but my dad didn’t want me to pick up an accent from their English. I was the shining star that faded once she went to Yale and got diagnosed by their mental health services with anxiety and depression and was kicked out of school. My grades at the time were all As, except for a B in Freshman Organic Chemistry. The first time I was involuntarily hospitalized at Yale and kicked out was a few days after the towers toppled, September 11, 2001. Wow- now I’m realizing there probably was an Islamaphobic element to me being kicked out. I have a very Muslim last name. Dr. Eric Millman, the psychiatrist who kicked me out was incredibly mean to me- treated me subhuman when he dismissed me from Yale and yelled at me. Thankfully I reapplied and stuck it out at that school, and eventually got my Bachelors.
    This about sums up my core identity and core struggles and development of my worldview. Lol. (but I guess I’m not really laughing)

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  • Racism, profit over people, and other-ing and stigmatizing, so sadly are foundational and a huge part of the fabric of the United States of America we call home. The biomedical psychiatry industry sustains itself on racism, other-ing stigma, and profit over people.

    I’m sharing a personal blog post here (with some new edits here to add context) reflecting on how this value system in the US has deeply hurt my life and continues to hurt others.

    “the “crazy” activist- a short reflection on being able remember my life after coming off psychiatric drugs”

    When I think about my capacity, organizing strategies and behaviors, and determination for the ICC CHANGE Campaign- Diversity and Recognition in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology- a successful campaign to expose and help unroot institutional racism that deeply harmed people of color therapists in training at my graduate school of counseling psychology – see CIIS ICC CHANGE petition – I’m realizing that a lot of the unrelenting fuel that powered me, came from reserves- really high momentum that had been stopped in its tracks. In 2003-2004 I was a lead student organizer and researcher at Yale for a transparency campaign on university investments, and an investigation of one of our university investors- a hedge fund called Farallon Capital Management, which was investing the school’s money in a very lucrative way, that had deep harmful environmental and social impact in the United States and globally. The campaign got big and extended to other schools, and got national attention and coverage. I, along with my fellow student organizers, interviewed with the Wall Street Journal and other really big papers. During the campaign- I tried to come off Lithium- which I feel had been very haphazardly prescribed to me by my psychiatrist Dr. Adam Spivack at Yale University Student Mental Health- which was then called Mental Hygiene, long before the campaign. He wouldn’t listen to my complaints that the drug had started to slow me down significantly and made me feel dead inside, and had started really effecting my schoolwork. He would not let me come off. Trying to come off Lithium cold turkey threw me into a world of altered states, not sleeping, being really sped up, hearing voices, paranoia, deep emotional instability and erratic behavior- this had never happened ever in my life before – I’m sure it has parallels to chemical withdrawal from street drugs. I was removed as a lead organizer from the campaign, which made sense. But as I eventually got put on heavy antipsychotics by Yale mental health services and psychiatrists in my treatment path, I lost access to much of my long term memory, and honestly, eventually forget much of my involvement in the campaign, -and eventually with long term usage, forget much of my life. The myth at the time of American psychiatry then and unfortunately still present now- was that my bipolar illness was coming back, off the drug. But I had never had these symptoms before. I had gone, what’s known as, psychotic. I was thrown out of school in 2004- but because of tenacity- I was re admitted after a few tries, and was able to complete at Yale. The UnFarallon investment transparency campaign I feel, fizzled, partially, I feel, from the loss of one of its main organizers.

    After I was recently finally able to get free of psychiatric drugs, after 15 years, just last February, with an integrative psychiatrist, who like no other psychiatrist, put effort into helping me come off, I had so much frozen momentum. I was able to use that momentum towards a good cause though- The ICC CHANGE campaign- Diversity and Recognition in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology.

    I’m so glad to be off psychiatric drugs and have memories return. I hope with time that the damage the drugs did to my brain in terms of long term memory access, will completely repair. And glad that my organizing momentum that had been shut down got put into good use, once again. It also got put to good use too in 2008-2009 as well on another activist initiative, during another time I was trying to come off psychiatric drugs to return to myself and release the momentum!

    This time it was putting tons of energy and fight into integrating Peer Specialists into the Philadelphia Community Behavioral Health system as the Certified Peer Specialist Trainer and Coordinator for Philadelphia and liaison to the Philadelphia Department of a Behavioral Health. It was an incredibly huge uphill battle against mental health and substance abuse stigma. Again during this time I didn’t have proper clinical support. My psychiatrist, Dr. Claudia Baldassano at the University of Pennsylvania, refused to provide clinical support with the tapering process even though I informed her that is what I wanted to do was trying to do. She was an incredibly negligent clinician, and I struggled with deep harmful side effects of withdrawal while I continued my activist work. I have to say now I feel I have used up the unfinished momentum from the Unfarallon campaign. But have lots of wisdom from my experience. In the original blog post, which can be found here- there is a sketch of me speaking in 2003 by my friend Ralph Ferrucci who is also a political activist. Not sure what event this was- probably an anti-war rally. No blood for oil. George W’s War in Iraq.

    One of Farallon’s investments – this hedge fund that was investing billions of Yale’s money and other school’s money- was a water privatization venture in Colorado at Baca Ranch- which involved taking and destroying the land and water resources of indigenous community who lived there. We continue to see many big money repeats of plundering behavior. And we saw it happen again at Standing Rock. For any of you interested in the the Unfarallon campaign’s work- here is the campaign’s web archive-

    I feel transparency and divestment of big university money can still be a very effective way in the fight to save our planet. Also if you’re interested in reading about how the Unfarallon campaign had big impact years after it was over- this is an interesting article- Tom Steyer lives in San Francisco- he’s know as the green billionaire. Before the Unfarallon campaign it was oil and dirty energy…

    It is very much a time now both of hypocrisy and uncovering (I believe the ancient Indian texts- the Vedas – predicted this, but I haven’t closely studied the texts- a close friend told me) with our new President elect. I choose to continue to uncover the hypocrisy even though it has and will continue to make me a target of those who don’t want it exposed- those who believe in and/or are entrenched in with the value systems of racism, profit over people, other-ing and stigma.

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  • Thank you so much for sharing this viewpoint knowledgeispower. I really do feel everything you wrote is accurate for me and others I know who have been put into this situation. It saddens me that colleges that have good names, that give you degrees that land you good jobs (i feel there is no denying that) and that cost an arm and leg would care so little about members of their student body, and have such little sensitivity to the ‘going to college for the first time’ issues.

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  • Fiachra- I am so glad you are off. And thank you for sharing a little bit of your story. I feel it is immensely painful and isolating, what we had to go through, and so scary that biotech in collusion with doctors is continuing to create this. I feel though now- that we can start to do these things less in isolation- now that the myth finally is being busted on a larger scale. I’m very much in deep gratitude to the anti-psychiatry movement pioneers who started paving the path.

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  • Old head- I agree with you. I also know working in community mental health for a long time, and in systems change, and going to psychology graduate school that people are in different stages around the myths- and that the myth needs to be bo debunked rapidly but also delicately, because this is a country wide and international crisis.

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  • Yes! I did! And me and parents dished out more than a pretty penny!!!

    Feeling good, and also dedicated to help others learn the myth. Since I have community mental health skills, therapy skills, some holistic knowledge, and lots of resources and colleagues and friends in alternative and holistic medicine, I really want to eventually create a low fee clinic with various practioners- naturopaths, nutritionists, therapists, MDs, body workers, peer supporters, fitness coaches, etc to help people come off psychiatric drugs if they choose to. Now if only I could get the $7 million do to that!!!

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  • i already agree. thank you. and thank you for sharing your wisdom. and congrats on being clean from psychiatric narcotics for nine years!!

    i wish we had funded 12 step models for coming off! i feel like lots of folks in AA and NA and in recovery from opiates, etc, totally get my story. i know there have been groups, but not at the level of 12 step.

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  • Frank, I agree, but I also feel that there is a role for therapists and social workers and some psychiatrists right now. i think therapists and social workers can cause harm with their pathology models and savior complexes and thinking they know what’s best for someone attitude, but as a clinician in training, and as a person who has worked in the mental health/substance abuse field in many capacities, i do recognize that there is definitely a need. People are often not held with compassion and often harmed in their communities, in their families, in their school systems, in their jobs, in life. i feel mental health systems and substance abuse systems have caused a lot of harm and damage. but i do believe and have witnessed in their power to really help people flourish and live happy, fulfilled lives. the helping communities that are successful, and the professionals who are really invested in this work, are the ones that really honor and respect the voices of those receiving services.

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  • thank you aria. yes, i was so confused by the process. i would tell certain psychiatrists about side effects, and they would be like- well that’s impossible- that’s not supposed to happen with this drug.

    and make statements like every time you have a manic episode, you lose brain cells, to encourage me to stick with the psychiatric meds.

    and i am so so sorry for what happened to you.

    i feel like it’s a horrible mix of abuse of authority and misinformation, and why can’t i fix this like i’ve been taught.

    that being said, i did find a wonderful person to help me taper off who is a psychiatrist, which i know is rare, and i did have psychiatrists who helped me with their therapy skills and did listen to my complaints about side effects. i was also lucky enough to have parental and financial support in this process to afford private psychiatrists for 50 minute sessions, and not just 15 minute med checks, which i’ve experienced too in health insurance systems.

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  • Hi Alex! yes, withdrawing during grad school was so so so tough!!! but i did it, and i graduated! being in school and having obligations to other people as a therapist helped me stay on track and focused on self-care. i definitely was a mess in ways, but not to my clients. they were my number one priority as the time. i also tried to follow through to the best of my abilities with my volunteer and extracurricular commitments. i’m sorry that you had to go through the harsh difficulty of being over-medicated as well, but from what i remember seeing from your website, it seems like you are doing great as a practitioner.

    i do believe there is a lot of misguided education, corruption, deceit, stigma, just as you say. i have had my fair share of misguided and harmful psychiatrists. and i know a lot about the levels of individual and community harm psychiatrists have caused. some psychiatrists deserve to lose their degrees and/or lose their licenses to practice and/or be put in prison and and/or be fined. Many academics and heads of associations, who have obscured research for kickbacks from drug companies and tried to silence other academics from sharing other perspectives, deserve to lose their posts and be put in prison.

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  • Hi Don. Hope you are doing well- and apologies for such a late late reply!

    Yes, I was lucky to attend one of Gabor Mate’s talks and have read some parts of his books. I will have to learn more about his theory of cultural transmission. I’m glad you found a clinician who validated your experience- and I am sorry you and the previous generations of your family suffered this way and passed on the suffering to you in an unhealthy way. People go through so much in life in every generation! It’s awful that we don’t have the care and community we all need!

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  • Hi everyone! Thank you for reading my essay. I’m attaching a link to my piece from my collaborative theatre production ‘Holding the Shadow: Experiences of Spiritual Emergency’. My skit is an extension of this essay. Unfortunately the camera died partway through my piece- but you can view the first part! You can see some of the other vignettes from Holding the Shadow on YouTube as well.

    Parallel’s naas’s story

    To find out more about the San Francisco New Moon in Taurus, May 6 production visit

    I hope to continue with the Holding the Shadow Theatre Project in Philadelphia with new stories. Looking for funding! 😉


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  • Thank you Rosie. And thank you for sharing a small part of your story. Yes, let’s connect! I am in a period rest, nourishment and self-care, while balancing some obligations and stresses of daily life. But I want to connect soon! your expertise is so needed- the expertise of coming off, and the expertise of being a clinician. Thank you for being, like me, open and vulnerable- we are paving the way so other voices can be heard!

    <3 <3 <3

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  • This was an article I wrote in the Yale Daily News about the difficulty getting re-admitted after being forced to medically withdraw. I was originally Class ’04. I graduated in ’07.

    I was treated as sub human by Dr. Eric Millman who made the call and dismissed me me from the University. I also hold Dr. Lorraine Siggins, the head psychiatrist at Yale Mental Health accountable for all these tragedies and the many more untold stories of harm.

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  • The Yale community was shocked by the recent suicude and loss of Luchang Wang, Class ’17. Some news sources report she was afraid to seek help from Yale mental health services because she was afraid to be kicked out of school, and thus had to struggle without therapeutic help that she might have needed.

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  • I know and hold many stories of harm from Yale mental health services quietly and with confidentiality and honor. My story is not an isolated incident.

    I do not know this writer- but she has a beautiful and insightful analytical and heartfelt perspective on race and the mental health system- also a Yalie and a person of color like me. I feel we share many commonalities, from reading her story:

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  • Hi Kelly. Thanks for the article! It reminds me of Gabor Mate’s work.

    My question to you though is, is this knowledge and the services that arise from this knowledge affordable and accessible to most people?

    I wonder if there are ways it could be framed so that it is more accessible to people without higher ed degrees.

    I’m saying this because, as a therapist (working towards Licensure) it is my hope to bring more holistic, somatic, alternative medicine, integrative, transpersonal, etc., approaches to the community mental health population in an affordable, accessible, and culturally relevant, sensitive, and competent manner.

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  • This article I wrote in Mad In America on coming off psychiatric is the very watered down version, because it’s on this public forum. The nightmares I went through psychologically are not presented in this article, and the consequences in real life of becoming a bipolar patient and what it really did to my life are not written here- The true victimization, and violence (emotional and physical), I faced are not in this story. Many long-time psychiatric survivors know all this already- so I decided not to repeat it in my story, somewhat for redundancy’s sake, and why re-traumatize? When I write for public forums like Mad In America, I always have to give a very watered down version. One day I will be able to write everything. But not today. And never on a public internet forum, unfortunately.

    To give you a small understanding-
    I’ve gone missing several times on the streets in my life, in unsafe and altered circumstances from chemical withdrawal psychosis since 2004 when I first tried to come off Lithium. I don’t remember all that happened in the hospitals and crisis response centers either, for a reason. People are familiar with the alcoholic black out. I experienced many black outs. People are familiar with dissociation and PTSD symptoms and “forgetting” traumatic memories for protective purposes. I experience dissociation, symptoms of PTSD, and have remembered many traumas, but I’m sure have “forgotten” a few. But I have also been blessed in that I have spent many years in self-study in psychology, spirituality and wellness, and have had a lot of peer support in my life.

    I am glad to be alive. Something bigger than me is protecting me. Because I’m still alive. I attribute some of my protection and strength to my ancestors who were killed in the genocide in Bangladesh (1971), including my great grandfather- an altruistic doctor who was shot and killed in public by the West Pakistani army, and to the strong spiritual communities I have been a part of, and to my mom and dad’s daily Muslim prayer.

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  • As an addendum I would like to add something about spirituality. I am hesitant to write this because many people might be quick to want to negate this…As a child I had contact with something greater than myself that would give me contact to another world and help me. I keep quiet about this as a child, because when I mentioned it to adults it immediately was shot down and turned into the worry of a medical condition- as I remember. My guide disappeared as I lost belief in her and as others invalidated her from the start, but when she came back she could no longer speak to me with clarity of vision, because by then I had already been forced drugged and changed, and unable to receive her messages with clear understanding. That being said, I think it’s important to understand reality from many different lenses and cultural perspectives. I do believe my challenging altered states came from visionary access as a child that was negated by society and further damaged by psychiatric medication, hospitalization a, and labeling. Call my crazy or call me inspired. I’ve been called both before.

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  • Aimee, thank you for sharing Paul’s story, and advocating for him. I heard a very similar story from one of the Peer Specialists I trained. It was heartbreaking. A story of pain for everyone involved, but also resilience, forgiveness among the family, yet an injust, stigmatizing criminal “justice system.”

    I have had flashback-like experiences, and altered state nightmare visions during chemical withdrawal from psychiatric drugs psychosis , where my reality would become something else and I would mistaken loved ones for violent sexual aggressors (I have a trauma history with this) or doctors who were force medicating me. The whole tone of the environment becomes quite dramatic- like a movie.

    I am so thankful that I have loved ones who have helped re-orient me, that I’ve developed a capacity for mindfulness through much work on my part, and loved ones who have even held me down and wrapped me up in a sleeping bag, but with compassion and care, to stop me from living out these nightmare states and hurting myself and others.

    I am so sorry for what happened to Paul and his family. I don’t think it’s too uncommon. It’s a great tragedy, and this needs to be fixed.

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  • Hi foglight!

    So I don’t unfortunately know too many psychiatrists personally who will genuinely help people come off or taper except of course the practitioner who worked with me privately- but she also works for the public system in San Francisco, and also teaches. This site might be helpful-their next conference is in San Diego, and there are probably Bay Area practitioners involved

    Also Larry Davidson, MD, at Yale is organizing an effort in New Haven, and may have some contacts. He writes on Mad In America sometimes.

    I’d be happy to grab lunch in SF too if you wanted to chat more!

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  • Thank you everyone so much for your comments of encouragement. And thank you deeply for sharing your voices in response to this post, especially the psychiatric survivors, because our voice is the marginalized voice and oppressed voice. We have to “shout” louder always.

    As a deeply spiritual and religious person, I try to write on public forums, like this one, with a tone of compassion, yet censuring wrongs, but try to maintain an essentially diplomatic tone.

    I do however want to note that I carry and hold rage. Rage towards what has been done to me. Rage towards what I have witnessed affecting my community of psychiatric survivors, and people who have been in the mental health and substance use system who have been ill-treated, disrespected, discarded, have died in the system, because of the system.

    That anger drives me to change things in the way that I can and am capable of, with the limitations put on my professional role, my age, my skin color, my gender, and my past diagnosis and history.

    That being said, I always carry unwavering hope in my heart somewhere, even though sometimes it’s hard to find.

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  • Thank you for your apology. I did not intend to sugarcoat with this statement, as I witnessed this in Philly with my own eyes, and was an integral part of the systems change. Of course there are still lots of issues. And it was a painful process helping coordinate an initiative that brought in all the voices, because I got to hear the stories of how deeply mental health and substance abuse stigmatization runs- within a system- it certainly shakes things up when therapists realize that people who have lived experience of the mental health system and substance use system have a knowledge and ability to help and connect that a therapist will never have, unless if the therapist is a survivor who openly discloses.

    This is not a sugarcoat for me. For me, i was deeply transformed, as a psychiatric survivor, to have top officials listen to me and recognize my voice. I feel proudly a part of the systems transformation in Philadelphia. Tell me Oldhead, who will help everyone come off their drugs at this point in time? And who will take care of the people who suffer through so much violence and oppression in their lives and don’t have the necessary support, that maybe a careful short term psychiatric drug prescription might be helpful. Having come of lithium, Abilify, klonopin, other ssris, benzodiazepines, other anti-psychotics, after 15 years, and being involuntarily hospitalized a few times, and forced drugged myself , I know it is incredibly hard to come psychiatric drugs because of the mythology that mainstream psychiatry has built, because of medical issues, and because there is not enough clinical support.

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  • Old head. I agree. Lots of people get drugged in Philly. I know. I was there. I lived in philly for 7 years. And I worked in philly for 10 years in mental health advocacy. I also am a psychiatric survivor. I have seen you a few times on this forum- and my question to you is, are you always trying to engage in constructive debate, or are you just trying to make people feel bad sometimes? Because I feel hurt by your response.

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  • Thanks for posting, Will!! Exactly. #blacklivesmatter

    Black Lives Matter

    In Philadelphia, as a Certified Peer Specialist Trainer and Coordinator for Philadelphia, and then a Recovery Initiative Specialist at the City Department of Behavioral Health, I witnessed a very amazing beautiful thing.

    And that, was people, majority who were African-American, under the leadership of an African-American Commissioner, Dr. Arthur Evans, using the deep vast wisdom of it’s community to heal itself- as Dr. Evans explains it.

    In Philadelphia community mental health there is a conscious, thoughtful, concerted attempt to bring ALL stakeholders to the table in the discussions of how to support people who need help with substance addiction, emotional support, resources, community connections, and day to day help in our behavioral health system. This includes people who use services (or peers or People in Recovery), providers – administrators, Peer Specialists, doctors, therapists, families, larger community.

    Philly is moving towards becoming a trauma-sensitive and trauma-informed city. Meetings and trainings have been, and are being held, for first responders- such as police and emergency response.

    I know this is all happening. Because I was there. And very active in the systems transformation. I’m sharing a video from 2008 about the Department’s work:

    Many of the people I met who were giving back so passionately as Peer Specialists in Philly, guiding others through the mental health system and substance recovery, were African American men and women. I used to facilitate a Storytelling Training- a training for people in the community mental health system to share their stores of hope, but also share about the harsh difficulties of their histories, and then continue to share the stories with the larger community.

    Black Lives Matter so much. As I listened to stories which were very hard to stomach for me- I was only in my mid 20 and late 20s at the time, and although I had suffered trauma in my life, when I listened to some of the horrors that people had to face, so much community violence, violence in people’s lives, substance use, poverty, discrimination, police brutality, incarceration, mismanagement and cruelty by the mental health and substance use system, etc- it was very hard to bear, and I know I did suffer some vicarious trauma listening, and probably compartmentalized some of the information from having a true emotional response.

    It is clear to me- that systems of oppression, discrimination, prejudice, internal stigma, post traumatic slave syndrome- a concept extensively studied by Dr. Joy DeGruy, have hurt and negatively impacted the black community.

    But because of the extreme hardship all African-Americans face, in my opinion, to some extent, living in this country that has a history of slavery, a history and present moment reality of withholding civil rights from black people, a history and present moment reality of racially based hate crime, a history of Jim Crow and the present moment reality of new Jim Crow, as Michelle Alexander describes it, a history and present moment reality of police brutality, a history and present moment reality of unfairness in the judicial system towards African-Americans, a history and present moment of unequal pay and glass ceilings and deliberate inaccess to power- the community as a whole (and yes there are of course are differences in the African-American community as it is not a completely united community and people chose to express their heritage and values in many different ways and connect with it in many different ways), has a sense of history and power through survival, through hardship, that is a very very potent power. In ways, I have observed, it gives an equinimity (amongst the anger, at being abused and mistreated this way in the United States) and a development of a brotherhood or sisterhood or community consciousness and the drive and capability to fight for equal rights. But black people need conscious allies to support their struggle, racism is so deep, in my opinion, it is very hard to change some things without white allies. I have witnessed and learned this as a Bangladeshi-American who is an activist in diversity and inclusion work.

    It is very important for us as a community that is proposing alternatives to mainstream psychiatry to join Black Lives Matter. Every race is impacted by poverty, discrimination, violence, mental health diagnosis, substance use, etc. But it’s important to acknowledge that some races in the current day US, have more privilege than others- and there is a sad long history of why, and that racism exists today on many many many levels- from the microaggression to institutional racism, to disparity in services, to police violence, to disproportionate amounts people in prison because of racist policies and a lack of resources and support, etc, etc, etc.

    Thank you.

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    getting of the lithium and the last little bit of Abilify was sooo hard!!! BUT I DID IT. and it has been a few months and things are so good. yes hard, but good! i feel alive again, and restored.

    i did it with the help of a compassionate integrative psychiatrist, a good a therapist, great friends, support from my family (even though they were skeptical i could get off), and a great community of caring mental health activists like you Michael!!


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  • i agree that psychiatry has invented many diseases.

    it framed homosexuality in the 70s as a disease, and homosexuality is still pathologized to this day, and it has been for a long time before the 70s.

    it wanted to create introverted personality disorder in the 90s (i think it was the 90 or 2000s- from the book ‘Shyness’)

    the psych meds psychiatry has invented have caused irreparable harm, and have caused people to commit suicide, attack other people violently, and go into psychosis and then have the label of being crazy, develop diabetes, develop chronic health conditions, and i believe had made people chronically sick, and have effectively isolated people.

    this is all true to me. AND i feel like psychiatrists can be useful in helping people get off psych drugs and with short-term prescriptions.

    i have a lot of friends who are on psychiatric medication, and feel that they need it now.

    There may not be such a thing as psychiatric illness. But there is trauma- personal, collective, and historical. And we do live with other people in a society that can be very oppressive and violent and bullying. i have a friend who is trans and she says she needs the psych drugs she’s on now. and i respect her decision. for the amount of opposition and violence she has faced, i want nothing but peace for her.

    we all numb ourselves in ways to violence and sadness we experience in life. and there are different ways to regulate it…heck some people watch Netflix all the time or surf the internet!

    i numb myself too. i eat junk food to numb myself. even though i know it’s bad for my overall health. i drink diet soda to numb myself. i do this very occasionally now, because i realized how bad it is for my physical health and mood, and how addictive it can be and is formulated to be, but i have control over it now- but i still sometimes do it…and i spend hours on facebook to numb myself.

    there is a serious housing crisis in San Francisco where i live, wars all over the world, and a human history and present of genocide against humans and other species, and destruction our of planet and ecosystem, and so many -isms and phobias and prejudices and oppressive frameworks, like racism, sexism, heteronormativity, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and more. i try to help the best that i am able. but also need to take time for self nourishment, care, and unfortunately sometimes i just can’t take it all and numb myself.

    but i hope we can reach a place in our time as humans where instead of constantly needing to numb ourselves, we can live in peace.

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  • Thanks Ron!

    My psychiatrist in San Francisco actually helped me get off psychiatric medication. I am off psychiatric medication after being on it for 14 years!! and i feel amazing and connected with my self, power, and creativity. i really do owe this to our therapeutic partnership. and to many therapists, colleagues, and friends who supported be in the past. psychiatrists in the past that i had encountered at Yale student mental health services, in community mental health, in private practice, and in the University of Pennsylvania health system were all pretty dismissive or confused or brainwashed.

    My psychiatrist has traditional biological and medical training from Stanford and Tufts, but she’s an integrative psychiatrist and has training in chinese medicine, trained with Andrew Weil, energy work, and jungian analysis. She’s amazing, and she allowed to follow my intuition with coming off psychiatric drugs while also educating me on withdrawal symptoms and dangers. We are in total partnership.

    She works in private practice and for the community mental health system.

    True she is a rare gem, but I think that psychiatrist can learn and un-learn. Medical school has taught them the wrong things. Big PHARMA has had too much influence in education, clinical research, and with bribery. But people can learn more and un-learn bad training, although it takes A LOT of effort.

    Perhaps we need to really look at what our top medical schools are teaching new budding psychiatrists. some of whom may be in for it for just the money and power and legacy, but i believe there are helpers in there too.

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  • Hi Sera,

    Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. I thought this film was well made. Yes, it works with extremes, but often art does. I’m confused about your saying it’s an advertisement for Involuntary Outpatient Treatment? Is that its true intention? I don’t really believe in censoring thoughtful art, but maybe I don’t have the whole story. Yes, the film irks me in some ways, but I like some of the messaging, and it was clearly thoughtfully made and feels more forward-thinking than many films I’ve seen on the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Also the words “drownthemermaid” feels very strong to me. Especially when in the film, the young black man calls himself a mermaid who can swim.

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  • thank you lily.c. may your dreams continue. and continue to come true. i like working inside and outside the system. i’ve always lived between worlds, in many ways, as my astute jungian, chinese-medicine and integrative medicine psychiatrist, who has extensive knowledge on energy work, observed in me. i’m a city dweller, building roots in the city, even though the City makes me sick, in many ways. i feel like our cities need a true soul retrieval too…and i hope to help contribute with this long, hard ritual. Save Our Cities! Save San Francisco’s soul!!

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  • i am so sorry for what you have suffered. that is really dehumanizing. i’ve had that happen to me too. and not just with psychiatrists. i had a spiritual crisis before i left the department of behavioral health in philadelphia (which is a very visionary amazing place in ways), and an ally colleague told me that some ppl on staff gossiped that i was manic and made up that i was moving to CA. like whaaat? well i’m graduating in May from CIIS, fingers crossed.

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  • whoah. couples with your roommate? that is soo weird! and terrible! feels unethical.

    um, yes, it does happen at other Ivy’s. i wrote this article a lil while ago for a SAMHSA newsletter, CAFE TA, and they did a good summary of what’s going on with other schools.

    also i would check out temple university collaborative on community inclusion of ppl with psychiatric disabilities (i know weird name, but the professor Mark Salzer who runs it, is a true ally). they do studies on higher ed and discrimination.

    thanks for writing!

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  • yes, thank you! i am not interested in suing. but the links would be great! i could share them! i don’t have that much legal background. i’ve volunteered with the ACLU briefly doing intake and did an internship at medical advocacy for people in prison law firm in the Bay Area, Justice Now, but my legal experience is tiny! please do post the links! and i’ll look up psychrights website. i’ve heard of them, but not visited their website yet! i’ve heard of bazelon mental health too…

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  • i wanted to clarify something. i think and feel that the help my therapist gave me in getting in touch with my anger- an emotion that had been shut down for years because of a difficult childhood environment and because of the hurtful way i had been treated by mental health institutions and higher education (my alma mater, Yale University), because of my diagnosis- it helped me get in touch with the larger anger of the collective suffering of my people of Bangladesh, my larger family.

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  • Thank you Michael. I take Abilify. It is clear after many attempts to taper off it with guidance from therapist and psychiatrist that I am clearly addicted to it for sleep. I cannot sleep without it. I have tried adding other psychiatric drugs like Ativan, Klonopin, over the counters like Benadryl, herbal medicine like NightRest and sleep aides like Ambien, all with the help of clinicians. Bottom line- I’ve been on Abilify for 11 years and am now dependent on it for sleep. Sleep is precious and keeps me sane. This is a true violation of human rights. Although I am ok, and not fearful of monitoring because I have a comfortable relationship with my psychiatrist I am stunned and angered beyond words at this trap.

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  • Thank you, Tim! I wanted to share that my current therapist and psychiatrist have both been invaluable in my healing process. My therapist is trained in processwork, and my psychiatrist practices integrative medicine- she’s transpersonal, jungian, and has training in chinese medicine. It took me 14 years, and switching coasts, to finally find the right psychiatrist, but i found her.

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  • Synchronistically, this article, addressing the mass shooting I witnessed in Springfield, PA (funny, right- the name is like “Anytown, PA”) was published on the date (Oct 30), exactly 30 years after the shooting.

    Sylvia Seegrist, the person who committed the shootings, in prison, commented in the past, “Every time Oct. 30 rolls around, I have a hard time that day. I have a hard time not crying. . . . The idea that I hurt people . . . it’s hard to describe,” said Seegrist.…/1991079187_1_seegrist-pa…

    “For the first few years of Seegrist’s life, such violence would have seemed unimaginable. She had been a bright, happy child until about age 13, when something went terribly wrong. Her mother said the decline started after the girl said her grandfather had molested her.”

    let’s please look at the impacts of childhood sexual abuse and other forms of adversity on children’s psychological health (see Professor John Read’s work on Childhood Adversity and psychosis, and ways to help these children, before we start force medicating people in their homes to prevent mass shootings.

    please contact your congresspeople to oppose the Murphy Bill HR 2646.

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  • Hi Ute,

    Thank you. That is really brilliant. The amount of thoughtfulness, dedication, and work that you put into understanding the sociohistorical context, especially when clinicians totally missed the boat, is really admirable. Thank you for sharing about the Kriegskinder. These stories need to be told.

    In solidarity,

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  • Hi Someone Else,

    Thank you for sharing some of your story. I too was affected by 9.11.2001. I was involuntarily hospitalized for the first time, for a pretty intense depression that arrived around that time. I’m sorry about the pain caused by the child molesters and the pastor as well and the damage caused by drugging. Your healing experience with the synchronicity, love, and harmony sounds beautiful.

    Thank you again, so much.

    With much gratitude,

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