Sunday, August 18, 2019

Comments by Sascha Altman DuBrul

Showing 41 of 41 comments.

  • Hey there, if I had time I’d make this more coherent but I don’t so apologies.

    There are so many comments I don’t know how to respond to them, but I really appreciate this little thread that “huh” started so I’ll write here:

    Yeah, Recovery is the new Deinstitutionalization, it’s a term multiple stakeholders can agree to but it doesn’t have any teeth.

    Yes, the Peer Workforce might have been a bad idea to being with, but the reality is that it exists right now and it’s not going away immediately and there are thousands of people working in it.

    Here’s me speaking personally from the heart, and if you want to trash me and the work we’re doing with IDHA go ahead, but I ask you to think outside the frustrating situation we’re ALL in and remember there are multiple perspectives and strategies that can co-exist with each other.

    I’m someone who got diagnosed with a “serious mental illness” when I was 18 and have been in and out of psych wards a bunch of times. In my mid-20s I helped organize a network of peer support groups called The Icarus Project and I worked on that project for 12 years. It was thousands of people, completely outside the mental health system, providing support for each other, mostly online, and creating media to shift the culture of mental health and illness. Some of us took psych drugs, some didn’t. Some of us used words like “bipolar” to describe ourselves, some didn’t and rejected all the labels. We created a supportive community, not without its flaws for sure, but we were a peer based mental health support network.

    I am not interested in arguing with people about psych drugs and labels, and the people on MIA who are stuck in that argument, I have nothing for you, we have moved on.

    Now the above response to my piece is full of really useful criticism. I would be skeptical too. But here’s the deal, and I’ve learned it in the past 3 years working in the system (I went to school and got an MSW and now I get to develop trainings and and train peer workers all over the country):

    The Peer workforce is of course co-opted, but there are also AMAZING people trying to do good work in that workforce. A bunch of them, and I wouldn’t so quickly write them off if you’re not on the ground. There are also a lot of young people who’ve ended up in the system and are looking for direction and we’re finding them and training them to work as change agents. IDHA is a training institute for anyone working in the mental health system, and of course we’re doing some things to play by the rules, and I use language like “saving the system money by providing genuine peer support” because I am playing a game with my language. I appreciate and respect the critiques but remember this is a multi-layered complex game, it’s not black and white.

    I am just as skeptical as you are, if not more, of the peer workforce.

    I think in New York State the people in control of the budgets see it as a way to get folks who are on long term disability off their SSI benefits and be “Recovered”, working menial jobs doing the equivalent of cleaning toilets. Totally agreed.

    But here’s the thing: I’ve never been a peer worker myself, but at this point I’ve met many, many peer workers through my job and our IDHA organizing:

    the people who end up in this jobs have amazing stories to tell, they are important people BECAUSE the workforce has been so co-opted and become a tool of the state. The peer role IS a walking contradiction, but it still exists and you can’t just ignore and write everyone off who doing that work. They are real people who’ve inevitably had really had times or else they wouldn’t be working in the role to begin with. Peer workers are literally at the bottom of the fucking broken-ass public mental health system and get treated so poorly and disrespectfully, that is the TRUTH.

    The person who commented as “huh”: you seem really intelligent and caring so I’m just going to level with you from what I’ve got left of my intelligence and caring: we are organizing the peer workforce to build power and we’re not taking any money from the city or state and we can say and do whatever we want.

    “introducing the appearance of a grassroots movement without any real power that honestly seems to be sugarcoating the whole thing. If the city of NY and agencies that hire peers do think this no-cost support group is a good idea……. There must be something in it for them because they are increasingly being faced with a very transient peer workforce whose eyes are open to the infantilism of their jobs. Just a few pats on the back and sexy progressive language and we all feel great about these mostly dead-end jobs?”

    I hear this critique loud and clear: sure the system is happy we’re supporting their workforce, but we’re not accountable to the system so that means we get to shape the direction of their workforce. They let me train their workers and you should see the trainings I do, I’m surprised they let me even sit at this desk sometimes. My point is that the system is made of human beings, it’s not a monolithical force, and we can change things, both in the system and out in the larger society if we organize.
    I don’t need a lecture from anyone about how oppressive the system is and how we need to abolish psychiatry, go post on someone else’s thread about that.

    I probably won’t be responding in this thread unless it gets really interesting, but if you want to find me I’m not anonymous and you can send me an email at saschaATmapstotheothersideDOTnet
    (the person posting as “huh” – I shared your thoughts with some of the IDHA folks and we want to be friends with you! get in touch!)
    Watch out for IDHA, we’re just getting started but we’re having a lot of fun so far.
    Mad love, Sascha

  • hey madmom – thanks for your comment. i have another forum where i share ideas and i posted your question and my friend who’s been working as a peer on an ACT team for 13 years responded: What does this woman want!? We are truly on the move! First things first. Peer Workers on ACT Teams and other Mental Health agencies in the field of mental health need a Peer Worker’s support network outside of the mental health system that is truly not accountable to the system to reveal all of the truth of what’s really going on and we are on the right path of doing just that! Secondly- We are almost done developing an across the board job description of authethic peer work where peer workers will no longer be required to report to AOT, deliver medications and enforce med compliance.- Where peer workers will no longer hospitalized anyone, especially against their will and use clinical diagnostic language but only wellness language and do only authentic peer work and think and work outside of the medical model – advocating for and offering choices other than the medical model which are truly client-centered and client-empowering. I and also other peer workers refuse to do what we believe one day we will not be required to do anymore! We are already in the process of strategically doing all of this work for positive liberating change, not only for all peer workers, but also and primarily for all of the client peers we serve. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Slowly but surely we’re get there! We are truly on the move with all of these awesome peer worker’s meetings, trainings and the building of strong powerful peer worker’s networks both in & outside of the mental health field. Patience! A true Peer Worker’s liberating reformation is coming. We must continue to believe that this is possible and continue to strategically put legs to our faith- for faith without works or corresponding positive actions is dead and a dead faith that consist of ideas and words only – cannot and will not accomplish anything. Mission Impossible Will Become Mission Accomplished! You know that I’m resisting and speaking up about a need for and the great possibility of a true Peer Worker’s Reformation with a clear and concise Peer Worker’s Manifesto for the liberation of Peer Workers and all of our brothers and Sisters and for all Peer Clients everywhere, even if it cost me my job and many others are doing exactly the same!

  • After watching that brilliant Campbell video clip I would like to clarify that I’m speaking about the Chinese Dragon, not the European! 🙂 I’m just using pretty language to talk about the power of collective work, I’m all for spiritual and mythological exploration, but the true joy for me comes from group process and the struggle of the oppressed to overcome oppression. I believe in our collective human potential. And unlike the character in that Jackson Brown song you quoted, I didn’t live through radical times and then decide to get a regular day job. I spent a bunch of time locked up in psychiatric hospitals and organized a bunch of people like myself and then used my privilege to get an education and an MSW. Now I have this wild job working in the system but hopefully I’ll make it out alive and in one piece and back to the Mad Underground before too long…

    “Personally, l would change tack and organize a peer group of professional and lived experience people to start changing the system from within, having noticed that it is often the psych-nurse’s who are more open to discuss alternative views of mental health.”

    We’re on it! https://www.idha-nyc.org

    Thanks for the wisdom and camaraderie, BigPicture!

  • “Likewise, 76% of the participants were taking antidepressants. 56% were taking anxiolytics, and 47% were taking antipsychotics. Participants may have also been taking mood stabilizers (38%) and stimulants (13%).”

    I sure would love to get off the lithium i’ve been taking for 14 years but I’ve yet to see any successful studies about the particular drug I seem to be stuck with.

  • Hi Sam – thanks so much for your reply. What if we had the resources in place to be able to hold people through crisis ? That’s a very political question because those resources I’m referring to aren’t just personal resources (like it sounds like you’ve given to your family many times over.) I’m talking about society’s resources: public funding for programs like Soteria Houses and Iwards from the 70s (which were crushed with the rise of biopsychaitry) and now in the 21st century, Peer Respites. The chances of that funding coming from the current administrations are getting slimmer and slimmer, but that’s what I’m talking about. There’s so much funding that goes to things that make us crazy, we could at least have some things that push us in the direction of doing CrazyWise.

  • Hey thanks for the reply. A close person in my life who does a lot of work around mediation and restorative justice had some thoughts about your reply it feels worth sharing

    “I read the author’s response and have one point. the terminology of “holding” someone accountable doesn’t make sense to me. It is an action that someone other than the accused/responsible person/people does. No one can “hold” anyone else accountable, someone can acknowledge their part in a situation, and take steps to repair it. Others can explain how they or others have been affected. Those others can hope there’s been a space created that allows people to listen to each other. The author seems to be saying that the action of holding someone accountable is something “we” do, and that we have to take it all the way or it is harmful. She doesn’t talk about that transition from harmful to helpful except to mention that (maybe, in some cases) it comes about from connecting someone’s actions with societal context. It feels sloppy and not well thought out. I feel like this idea that “we” can force “accountability” on someone is the source of so much damage, and is important for me to mention, at least to you. Accountability should be about truth and healing. If the way someone or some group is going about doing it causes harm before any possible hope of good, I don’t think it’s being handled responsibily. The article itself was good, her response just hit a nerve for me.”

  • Sera, as usual, I bow to your straight-forward eloquence.
    This feels like a really important piece of writing. I hope it inspires much conversation and action.

    I have a few thoughts to add, which hopefully will be helpful and add to the mix of thoughts. I feel like I’m going out on a limb a bit here.

    So I have 13 years in this “movement” starting from the time the Icarus Project website went online and
    I’m definitely someone who has been guilty of a number of your signs of abusing (or feeding into) male privilege.
    I am not proud of this but back in 2008 I was asked to step down from Icarus after 5 years by a group of women (all of them were my friends and co-workers) for perpetuating a bunch of the behavior you describe, including using my “movement rock star” status to influence vulnerable women, for taking credit for many people’s work by being the face of the organization, and for using my social power to influence “collective” decisions.

    I talk about all of this plenty with the people I’m close to, but it’s not often I find myself writing posts about it on the internet. So you’re inspiring me to try and articulate some of the key pieces and lessons from that time until now.

    It was really hard the way things went down in 08, for me and a bunch of people in Icarus. At the time I really tried to be accountable for all the accusations, I did not duck out of any of it. There was a group of women who called themselves the Women’s Incuentro (inspired by the women’s movement in the Zapatistas) who got together specifically to talk about the gender dynamics in The Icarus Project. There were a bunch of women who were so frustrated, not just with me, but with the social dynamics we were all wrapped up in. They made a list of all their frustrations and posted them on the front of the website. I ended up becoming the target of the frustration. And it was ugly, because it was public, so what that meant was: there were a small amount of people having interpersonal issues, and then a whole bunch of people watching (on the internet) from the outside, trying to figure out what was actually going on. At the time there were rumors that I was sexually harassing women and coercing women to have sex with me.

    Alright, so that’s all part of my history that I carry around, and honesty, that whole situation precipitated my last psychiatric hospitalization, it was definitely one of the hardest periods of my life. I disappeared for a couple years to get my shit together.

    Okay, so, lessons:

    My first response when it all went down was to find lots of women in my life to talk to about the situation and get their perspectives. This was helpful in some ways, but I remember at the time a particularly critical feminist colleague saying that I wasn’t going to be helped by being “comforted” by women because part of my problem was that I was used to getting psychological comfort from the women in my life. She had a good point.

    Also, all the feminist texts I read, from bell hooks to Silvia Federici, were really useful on some intellectual level, helping me to understand the context of misogyny and sexism, but in the end all the good books in the world don’t have the life lessons we need for the kind of growth that allows interpersonal dynamics to evolve.

    I honestly think what helped both me and the situation an enormous amount was healing from a bunch of my own childhood trauma, about becoming more of an adult, more of, dare a say…a man.

    Think about it: you take someone who, deep down, has low self-esteem, had a shitty and complicated family life, got picked on and bullied in school, has a complex about being inferior and “crazy”, and then give them a bunch of attention, a bunch of “rock star” status with other people….then add on a ton of institutional privilege (in my case whiteness, maleness, middle-classness, straightness, and, you know, the cultural blinders that accompany those things — even for those of us who were raised by feminist moms and have been hanging out with anarchists for 20 years) and it’s not hard to see where the desire for fame…the taking up space and hard time listening (add some manic depressive tendencies in there and it’s way worse!) and the not necessarily so healthy sexual and romantic patterns come from. Then have them magnified under the pressure of public life.

    It was really important for me to get the fuck away from that whole situation for a number of years, move far away, do a lot of healing and growing, and building relationships outside the context of that pressure cooker. I thankfully have repaired all the relationships with people who were so pissed at me, and now we all talk about those times as deep learning experiences. I am incredibly grateful for this and I think it makes me a much better, more whole person. By the way it was a lot of work.

    But the big conclusion that I came to from that period is one that has become a guiding value in my life: the importance of mentorship. The importance of both having older or more experienced mentors and being a mentor to others. My dad died when I was 13 and he was raised Irish-Catholic in the 50s and had a lot of fucking terrible backwards ideas about women and gender dynamics. I inherited a bunch of stuff from him. So what I’m saying is I really appreciate and seek out feminist men in my life. Coming out of that period I was lucky enough to be a part of a study/practice group in NYC called Challenging Male Supremacy which was full of awesome men on their own paths and very powerful and transformative for me. And I very much go out of my way to hang out with younger men in my community and I try to be a good example of a man who respects women in all aspects of my life.

    That said, another important lesson I learned from my experience being the target of a whole lot of anger is that sometimes when you’re in a public position of power it is really easy for people who have their own unresolved issues to project all kinds of feelings onto you that aren’t coming from your actions as much as from what you represent in the social narrative. At this point I’ve become used to people directing feelings towards me as if I’m the father they have unresolved issues with or their boss or some other man who once treated them badly. I do my best to avoid keeping the company of people who treat me in such ways, but it’s not always avoidable, considering that, well, we ALL have a bunch of issues we’re carry around!

    So for my own piece of mind I just want to make sure to clarify to whoever’s out there that’s reading these words that I’m not writing all this because I think I’m this enlightened feminist man that’s mansplaining you about how the mad movement should be dealing with sexism. I just want to add a voice in here from a man who has been wrestling with these issues for awhile and has a few thoughts. There are definitely some women out there who don’t see me as the enlightened portrait I’m attempting to paint for you. So it goes.

    I’ve actually been thinking about this stuff in recent months because there’s this man in the community who’s been accused of, well, I think all of the stuff you’re talking about, Sera, and I’ve thought about reaching out to him, and maybe trying to be part of a process of…something? I’ve felt like one of the internet spectators who doesn’t actually know the details so I’ve kept my mouth shut and haven’t said anything to anyone until now. I don’t know what the answer is in his situation but I really appreciate you inspiring and giving me the space to speak a little bit of the complicated truth that makes me who I am.

    In the end I think it’s really, really important that we focus on collective healing more than being individually punitive. I am all for holding people accountable, for people being removed from positions of power, for people taking time away to grow and reflect and come back with gifts of wisdom, but in my lifetime I have seen some really horrible, divisive attempts at “accountability” that have torn holes in the fabric of communities of resistance that I hold dear. There is a lot of spoken and unspoken trauma in this particular mad community of resistance and I hope that we can take into account the ways that we have been hurt, and not recreate them all over again for ourselves and the ones that come after us.

  • “Joanna Moncrieff, MD (MIA Author) on July 1, 2015 at 7:45 am said:
    I have also wondered if just using benzodiazepines rather than antipsychotics might be adequate, and less distressing for the individual concerned.”

    I take very small amounts of benzo’s to sleep at times and I find that quite quickly I develop a tolerance for them. I try not to do it for more than a couple nights. I get the sense that they are very hard on my system and leave me feeling really groggy. I’m not convinced that taking benzo’s instead of lithium makes the most sense for me. I imagine that if/when I end up tapering off the lithium I’ll be relying on benzos for sleep. It will probably be pretty disruptive, as compared to lithium, which has been pretty steady for a long time now. I’m going to do everything I can to take care of my precious kidneys though!

  • Thanks so much, Yudit. It’s good to hear your husband figured out a way to get off of it. When I think about coming off my lithium the first thing I worry about is the effect it’s going to have on the people closest to me – my partner, my family, my good friends. I’ve been such a train wreck in the past, caused a lot of pain and chaos to the people around me. I think about having kids and I’m scared of being a crazy dad. But in the end I want to be around for the people I love, I’d like to hold onto my kidneys!

  • I’m really glad this conversation is happening, I would love to see a lot more written about lithium use and coming off of it successfully. It’s definitely giving me a lot to think about and share with others. After reading Joanna’s article and most of the comments on this thread I feel compelled to respond with an alternate viewpoint I am not seeing in this conversation:

    I’ve been taking lithium for 13 years and I’m really grateful for it. I’m also consider myself to be really intelligent and not emotionally or physically stunted from taking it.

    What I don’t see reflected in this article or any of the comments below it are the studies Robert Whittaker quoted in Anatomy of An Epidemic about “core responders” to lithium – that there are a small percentage of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder who have a really good, long term reaction to lithium. He didn’t put that in his book because it fit with his argument, he put it in there because he was being honest and wanted to reflect that he had done his homework and I’ve always respected him a lot for that. Lithium also doesn’t fit in with the critique of big pharma profits always running the show because no one makes money off of lithium, it’s a salt and it’s long since off patent.

    I want to say two seemingly contradictory things that are brought up for me by this conversation (because the world is complicated after all):

    1. Reading these words makes me want to slowly taper down off my lithium and get out of the trap that I’ve obviously gotten myself wrapped up in for more than a decade. I never planned to be on this drug for so long and it terrifies me to think of my kidney’s shutting down, growing old too quickly because I’ve been putting so much of this salt into my body for so many years. It’s exciting to hear about people coming off of it successfully because I’ve heard so many stories over the years of people coming off of it really badly.

    2. I have such an incredibly full life, I feel such strong emotions and I’ve wrestled with so many of my demons, and I still have a lot of wrestling to do. I touch the stars with my consciousness, I feel connection to spirit so much larger than myself, I have deep, solid friendships and love in my life. I feel purpose when I get up in the morning, I have good work to do in this world. I don’t feel like lithium has tapped my energy in a bad way, I feel like its given me lead weights to put on my wings so I can fly without fear of getting to close to the sun. That’s been my personal experience.

    When people tell me that lithium is a “brain disabling agent” (Peter Breggin) or that I’m being taken advantage of my psycho pharma complex, that I’ve been duped into poisoning myself, I shrug my shoulders. That’s certainly not how it feels to me. Would I go back in time and try and keep myself out of the psych system, damn straight. But I’ve learned to choose my battles and I know a hell of a lot of other people don’t have a choice as to the situations they end up in.

    There is a particular psychology I’ve witnessed and participated in over the years in the community of folks that read this website: a fear that someone’s decision to take a medication invalidates someone else’s strongly held world view. When we started The Icarus Project in 2002 we started our community guidelines simply: If you take psych drugs you are welcome here, if you don’t take psych drugs you are welcome here. I’m sorry if my decisions to take psych drugs make some folks feel uneasy. The truth is, reading this article and thread make me feel uneasy about my decision to take lithium. Maybe I’ll be inspired to start tapering down after all. But damn, that’s going to mean taking even better care of myself, and I already spend so much energy doing that. I’ll decide how I’m going to pick my battles.

    In my view the evidence that lithium helps prevent episodes of manic depression is far too weak to outweigh the harms it can cause (which commonly include thyroid damage, kidney damage, and acute neurological toxicity at doses very close to those used in practice, hence the need for blood monitoring). Manic depression is a highly variable condition. Some people have many episodes, some people few, and the pattern of episodes varies throughout life as well. Long periods of remaining well are not necessarily evidence of a treatment’s effectiveness. What we would need to demonstrate the efficacy and value of lithium is a prospective randomised trial in which people who had not previously been on long-term drug treatment were randomly allocated to start lithium or placebo. At present, my view is that the evidence that lithium might be effective is not strong enough to justify such a trial, given the health risks associated with it.

  • hey sharon and uprising and frank – it’s semantics really. i think defining oneself in opposition to something is an important first start but an intellectual dead end. and what is this “psychiatry” that we’re talking about anyway, ,considering the biopsych model looks really different than the freudian based model we had back in the day. is it the drugs? is that what we’re against? because if that’s the case, i’m disqualified because i take lithium every night and it’s really helpful for me. i think peter breggin is wrong has the potential foe being harmful when he talks about lithium as a “brain disabling agent” because some people have bad reactions to it. trust me, i would not be able to do everything i do every day with a “disabled brain.” i think “anti-psychotic” drugs can save people’s lives, and that they’re totally over prescribed and given to 8 year olds is not a function of the drugs but a function of capitalism.
    all that said, i’m way more interested in building a movement FOR something then being part of a movement AGAINST something. if it was politically useful to use the term “anti-psychiatry” i would use it with no problem, but in my view its lost its power to engage people in a contemporary way. i apologize if that doesn’t sit will with where you sit. here’s more thoughts i wrote a couple years ago on alternative visions: https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/07/a-collective-human-potential-movement/

  • word. thanks for mentioning him.

    http://brucelevine.net/liberation-psychology/

    “Ignacio Martin-Baró (1942–1989) was both a priest and a psychologist, and it is he who should be given credit for popularizing the term liberation psychology. Martin-Baró’s liberation theology, liberation psychology, and activism for the people of El Salvador cost him his life. In the middle of the night on November 16, 1989, Martin-Baró, together with five colleagues, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter, were forced out to a courtyard on the campus of Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, where they were murdered by the US-trained troops of the Salvadoran government’s elite Atlacatl Battalion.”

  • Thanks so much for your reply Danny. I think the recent conversations about addiction that are happening in the context of a traumatized society are rally important. These days there’s a pretty thriving community of folks writing that I think you would find of interest in our Facebook group (if you find yourself in the strange corporate world of facebook we’ve been inhabiting) https://www.facebook.com/groups/2394863930/?fref=nf
    Thanks again for writing and appreciating my stories, they were powerful experiences for me to have and it feels really good to be able to share them.

  • Woah! I hadn’t checked the comments on this video and until now and I have no idea what Agenda 21 has to do with anything I’m talking about above!

    The political relevance of Esalen and the “New Age” movement in general are pretty minimal.
    I’m a strong believer in the power of good stories, and there are some amazing stories from the history of the Human Potential Movement that I think are relevant for a modern day Radical Mental Health Movement. I write about it at length here if anyone’s interested:
    https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/07/a-collective-human-potential-movement/

    Jen Pardon: I’ve been hearing your feelings of being left out in the list of attendees. I would suggest you write a message to Michael Cornwall (who is a blogger on this site) and see what he has to say. Esalen, by definition, is kind of an elitist place. It’s not the place to have a big gathering because it’s so cost prohibitive. I selfishly am glad that in this case I’m not one of the people in charge of organizing the retreat because I’m way too busy. Sorry its taken me so long to post up here!!

  • hey jen – i hope you get to hook up with jacks in asheville in a couple weeks! i’ll be in nyc but i’m sure we’ll end up crossing paths sometime before too long.

    hey inarticulate: here’s the folks who gave us the money:
    http://www.womensfundingnetwork.org/the-network/member/dobkin-family-foundation
    i’m proud to take money from them.
    you and i wouldn’t be communicating with each other on this website without the benevolent donations of rich allies. so it goes.

  • faith –

    “notions about mental health are a natural gateway to inquiry about the human condition in context and with ample opportunity to build narrative awareness at a personal and conceptual level.”

    for real. and that’s why when we started the icarus project we had no idea the kind of crazy pandora’s box of stories we were opening up. i hope we’ve given a lot of people tools and language for building their narratives.

    “I used to really resent some factions of the counter-community for laying cultural claim to truths that, really, are about us all and making relatively simple ideas about human worth, dignity, and function out to be esoteric or radical. I like thinking about ways to make liberation a reasonable and accessible goal for all humans.
    This is sort of a reversal of the co-optation call-out, I guess.”

    i love this. it’s not esoteric or radical to be free! it’s 101!

    “I think that your (de)delineation instinct is a good one re: a generalized human potential movement rather than a parsed movement that promotes the liberation of a single culturally identified group. I have realized more and more that what it is that I’ve been recovering is my sense of what it means to be human.”

    i’m glad to hear you say it. i obviously think so too. and we ain’t the first.

    “We were one thing
    and then we became something else.”

    so it goes. be in touch. scatterATtheicarusproject.net

  • Hey John – Of Course i’ve heard of the Radical Faeries! I’ve been hanging out with the anarchists for so many years and there’s a lot of overlap. I’ve never actually been to Ida and that whole scene in Tennessee but I feel like it’s been to me!

    This is REALLY important:
    As they say in Open Dialogue, the distressed person is expressing the problems of the family and the wider social network in which the distressed person lives…those amongst us who are severely distressed are expressing the cruelty of a wider society and the way we treat people who are severely distressed is a barometer of society as a whole. So drugging distressed people instead of trying to understand them is an expression of a society that has been duped by capitalism and is steeped in callousness.

    I’m going to walk around with this all day and think about it. I’ve heard the theories of Open Dialog and listened to the Madness Radio interviews. I wonder what would happen if we made this dialog more public. It’s one thing knowing it, it’s another to have the tools to do something about it.

    Thanks so much for writing!

  • Stanley –

    “Having a radical proposal is quite popular, but the reality is that most radical proposals floating in the world are different and incompatible on fundamental levels.”

    I really appreciate your comments. You’re right: “popular” and “radical” are pretty antithetical, and when they’re not things are usually pretty scary! I would say that in the days of the Human Potential Movement there was a radical counterculture and Humanistic Psychology was the mainstream face of it. At the Icarus Project we’ve been talking about the relationship between the “underground” and the “mainstream” for a long time now with the metaphor of the dandelion roots and soil structure:

    http://theicarusproject.net/dandelion-visions

    Also, your thoughts remind me of one of Brad’s favorite ideas from postmodern philosophy, Stewart Hall’s “Circuits of Culture”:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=dAqycFD4PBsC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=circuits+of+culture+stuart+hall&source=bl&ots=381W_N0gd1&sig=VBHYXAj8Ie5ufdxOQVUVptHlxac&hl=en&sa=X&ei=57wGUOuyEqii2gX-hNCbBQ&ved=0CFgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=circuits%20of%20culture%20stuart%20hall&f=false

    In both these ideas, there’s the idea of the importance of smaller groups influencing the larger whole. I think, deep in my heart, if I can say such things without sounding corny, I long for a changes on a large scale that reflect the kind of world we’re striving for. When I say a “popular movement” I don’t imagine it actually being made up of “radicals” but I imagine the radical ideas infiltrating the mainstream, inevitably getting watered down, but changing the structure of society. Meanwhile, the mystics will always live on the margins and, yes, that’s just how it is. see you around and mad love

  • Hi David – thanks for the nod to Aldous Huxley and all your thoughts.

    “I find it sad that a Radical Mental Health Movement, seems unwilling or unable to embrace a new awareness which is now staring us in the face.”

    I wouldn’t lose hope too quickly. I think you’re bringing up something really important points and I think sometimes it’s really hard to translate our own internal processes into language that a lot of other people can resonate with. I’m well acquainted with feeling like I’m the one stepping out of Plato’s and telling everyone they’re just watching the shadows on the wall. That’s a lonely place to be. When I think about the difference between a “Human Potential Movement” and a “Collective Human Potential Movement”, one of the immediate things that comes to mind is that group communication has to be primary. Learning how to work in groups can be really hard, and sometimes it starts really small. I love using the internet for exchanging ideas, but it can be just awful for other types of communication. Maybe we’ll continue this face to face sometime.