Saturday, February 24, 2018

Comments by Eric Coates

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  • Julie, love it!

    On my last psych admission I got really out of control. I basically stole a huge, plastic Scrabble board and the tiles to go with them (assembled from who knows how many different Scrabble games?). I had to get this monster out of the game room and into my own room and then sweet-talk the staff into letting me pay for it all with a replacement scrabble set, which I promptly handed to the biggest scrabble player in the place and encouraged her to steal.

    There was actually a sort of thievery ring at my last admission, who raided people’s rooms and sold stuff between the different units. I figured out who they were pretty quickly, and I would taunt them with my iPod Nano all the time. But I was smart: I kept the iPod in my pants pockets 24 hours a day, whether that was in my daytime shorts or my pajamas at night. No one was able to steal my iPod. I did the same thing with my money.

    One last thing I will say is that I always make sure to steal a book from the library. You can only have 1 book out at a time, and you pick the very best book you can and hold onto it until they let you out, and you take it home with you. I have two awesome books that I would never have otherwise had because of it. Thank God for the prison library! I have also acquired 4 Bibles in different versions (Bibles are a kind of addiction for me) and a magisterial version of the Koran — all books that were just out on the ward.

    Anyway, congratulations on that pool ball!

  • Sa, I did perhaps overstate my case about violence a little bit. There are indeed some people who are so far out there with their beliefs that they can’t help reacting with violence, whether out of perceived self-defense or some other reason, and I appreciate that perspective. However, most of the people I’ve known in psych wards who were violent were simply aggressive persons to begin with, and they would have been violent in any aspect of life, whether in a psych institute or some other aspect of life — normal life included. But thanks for speaking up, because it is important to do so.

  • Thank you for being one of the few psychiatrists out there who is willing to speak about the human cost to your profession as well of the medical model. People quote Dr. Szasz all the time, but tend to forget that he, too, was a psychiatrist. I hope there will be more like you in the future.

  • I am glad for you that you finally realized what was happening. It also took me about 8 years to realize what was happening to me, although I was on an antipsychotic (Zyprexa) which has very different effects. I am sorry that you had to lose as much as you lost, and I hope that you, as I have been able to do, are able to recover what you have lost now that you are not drugged into oblivion.

    Good luck!

  • You write about how non-Western experiences all relate to spiritual experiences and shamanism. I appreciate that immensely.

    You might want to also consider how this is happening in the Western world. This is something that I wrote about for MIA about a month ago. There is not only a non-Western, shamanistic world; there is also a Western world, with its own spiritual and artistic tradition. Perhaps instead of privileging non-Western approaches, you might consider those closer to home, and realize that they are just as valid as any others.

  • Thanks to you both for supplying us with this podcast.

    Even here on MIA, there is still talk (and the language) of “mental health” and of “diagnoses,” etc.

    It is time for this to end, and though I have spoken to Mr. Whitaker about rejecting this medical language, and have in fact called for a world conference for us all to get on the same page and begin to speak a unified language that calls it all what it is — spiritual emergence — I have so far been unsuccessful in garnering any support. I keep trying and trying and trying to get people to come together and create a new language, but to no avail.

    I understand fully that Mr. Whitaker is dealing with a situation where the language is controlled by psychiatry and Big Pharma, and that in order to successfully communicate with most people, that he has to allow medicalized language, just to bring people in. But at the same time, this is killing us. We have to update the language now, or we will never succeed.

    The power of the psychiatric/pharmaceutical establishment is that they control the dialogue. They all speak the same language — “mental illness”, “chemical imbalance”, etc. In this way they control the media, the advertising, and the public dialogue. Until we unify and begin to speak an alternate language that is consistent, rhetorically powerful, and related to what real people experience, we will fail. You, Mr. Hall, have written quite recently about how we can’t succeed until we reform campaign donations. The other half of this is to stop speaking THEIR language — to change the way that the situation is discussed, and so change the paradigm in people’s heads.

    Thanks for this podcast. It is what I personally relate to, and it is the direction that our movement needs to move in.

  • Thank you, sir. I sincerely believe that the average psychiatrist, even today, started out with the best intentions, even if Big Pharma’s marketing money has mostly corrupted the entire establishment and skewed their conversation, with their relentless propaganda, in the direction of pharmaceuticals. It is good to see when a psychiatrist, especially one of his apparent eminence, also realized the dangers implicit in the use of psychotropic drugs. I am not opposed to the use of drugs in all circumstances, even if I believe that their long-term use is harmful. Thank you for reminding us of this person, who clearly meant to do good, and was humble enough and cautious enough that he did the best he could with a balance of therapy and drugs. Best to you, sir.

  • This is a far, far more important issue than some people who are new to it all might realize.

    First of all, you start your advocacy group from the grassroots — real people with real issues.

    Then you get it organized and up and running. Success!

    Then, all of a sudden, when you are beginning to change the conversation for real, but maybe you’re still struggling to get those dollars to keep the thing going — like peer support agencies — you hear from a major pharmaceutical company or some other vested interest that offers to fund you.

    You accept the funding.

    What has now happened is that you have a board that is worried about whether they are performing up the expectations of the people from whom they are receiving their funding. All of a sudden, peers who are working in support are no longer encouraged to speak their minds all the time against drugs. All of a sudden, there is no longer a drive towards independent thinking in the organization. The organization is thinking about the source of its funding, and keeping that source happy with what it is doing.

    And this is how grassroots movements are co-opted: taken over by the organizations (drug companies, etc) that come in to fund them.

    The next thing you know, the organization no longer serves its original purpose. In fact, as it falls further and further away from that purpose, it starts to die. People are no longer motivated to come, people don’t want to come any more. Those peer support “professionals” no longer represent anyone. And what happens then?

    The pharmaceutical company sees that it has destroyed your organization quite successfully, and it stops funding you. And one more honest initiative has now been laid down by the side of the highway, as another piece of mental health roadkill. Congratulations! You’ve just been played.

    That’s how it works, folks. Never, ever accept money from any corporation who is outside your organization. It will destroy you. Accept only money from individual donors, or from people who have no agenda. That is the only way you can take money and not have it affect you. And as soon as you feel the money affecting you: get rid of it. Get rid of it, or it will destroy what you have worked so hard to build. That is what has destroyed the peer movement for the last 40 years, and it is what is destroying it now. Get rid of the donors, and fight through on your own. It’s the only way you will survive.


  • I have been screaming about how nursing homes, schools, and jails all use drugs on people for a couple years now. In fact, I am trying to get Mr. Whitaker to take me seriously and publish an extended study that I wrote, called Death of a Psychiatrist, for a couple years now. The use of the drugs in these places, where people are held against their wills, and where they are subjected to all kinds of physical and mental torture, is unbelievable, and I salute your efforts in trying to address this. We are the very few who realize that schools, nursing homes, jails, and psych hospitals are all using the very same methods to confine and contain people, to drug them and control them, and to profit (both themselves and their subsidiaries, such as drug companies and security companies and the borderline “medical profession” such as nurses and aides), and all while they do it with no regard for the human rights and the dignity of the people who are in that way victimized. Thank you for doing this extremely important work. I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are working on the behalf of the psychologically oppressed. You are the most important of them all, because you are addressing this very real need that is out there that no one else is addressing. I have tried my best, but even I have failed to get people’s attention to this very real situation. Good luck to you.

  • I respond only to say: thank you. Schreber was obviously one of those who blazed our trail, and his successful bid to free himself from forced psychiatry at a time that was even more benighted than our own (believe it or not!) is a standard to measure one’s own efforts against. That he was a judge — which, in France, means that you are a lawyer who is trained to be a judge — no doubt helped him in his fight.

    He was adventurous, he was brave, and he was an unremitting critic of the system that held him hostage. And he was, like me, a brave “schizophrenic” who was not afraid to speak his own truth in public about what he had seen and experienced.

    I realize full well what I risk, in terms of public and private reputation, by coming right out and speaking about all of this. But what gives me strength is that I know, and I know it intensely, that no matter what else may be out there, is that there is a God who will protect me and sustain me, if not in this life then in the what will follow.

    Thank you. To be put in the same class as Schreber is a great honor. I will remember.

  • Every single one of us who is chosen to go through this has unique qualities which are the reason they were chosen for it, and so God basically tailors what you as an individual will be expected to go through. So: there are similarities between one person’s experience and another’s, but not with every single part of it; while there are also similarities to another person’s experience, but not with all of it. What we go through is genuinely tailored to that specific individual. God is so all-encompassing in His knowledge that He truly can, and does, create a very specific experience for each of us.

    And it is not just we who hear voices or have visions or whatever: you are also chosen to be part of this, and your own experience, even if may feel that you are excluded from what is happening sometimes, was chosen for you quite specifically. This does not mean that you have a cross to bear that you can never leave behind if that is what you need. But you were chosen to experience this, just as your loved one was chosen for their own experience as well.

    I have not only been the one who was psychotic, I have also been around other psychotics a lot, and I have learned that all you really need to do is simply listen, and then do your best to believe that what they are describing is a very real experience, and once you accept that it actually might be real (sometimes it isn’t, but in the end God does integrate it all into one experience), you will begin to be able to relate to the world that they’re talking about. The hard part is finally just letting go of the world you are used to, but once you do, it actually becomes very interesting and sort of wonderful. Painful, yes. But amazing at the same time.

    Maybe that is the lesson that is meant for you.

  • Yes, I have also been almost completely incapacitated for long periods of time. Yet I am a very logical person, and I think that God respects who you are as an individual in the end, and so in the middle of chaos He has reached out and given me the logic I need. I don’t know exactly what it is that your own loved one needs, but if you give it time, you might see that she gets it, even if it doesn’t resemble what I need. Each of us has our own purpose, and therefore our own understanding.

    As I said in the article itself, there was a period of very intense psychosis and voicehearing that I had to go through before all this stuff that I presently experience started to happen. In fact, it has taken a very long time for it to start happening, and then for it even to become the dominant thread in what I experience. I started to hear voices, etc., in 2005. There followed a period of about 8 years in which I was drugged to the gills and didn’t really feel anything or experience anything unusual. Then, after I finally got off drugs, the process resumed, and it took a few more months before the really meaningful stuff started to happen. It has taken another 2 years for it to really become the dominant type of experience that I have. So it takes a while, at least in my experience, for God to do His work with you.

    Let me suggest to you this: that God, looking through Time itself, decides that He wants you to have a special purpose of some kind. But along with that, He wants to put you through Hell — to make you suffer for your sins, and to learn the lessons from your own past life that He wants you to learn from — and that this needs (for reasons of His own) to take place before He truly brings you in. In other words, if you stay drugged, outside His reach, the process is never completed. But if you open yourself up and let it happen, you will — I promise you, based on what I have learned about so many others who have gone through this — you will, in fact, finally come to a point where all the confusion and the disorder and the chaos and the pain of it all finally reaches a point where all the voices and the delusions and what God is saying all come together and create a new kind of understanding of what is happening. Or at least that is what I have experienced, and what I have read about. All the stuff that you go through as you suffer and pay for your sins in order to make you a better person are, believe it or not, intended to teach you something that you would never be able to understand if you didn’t go through it first.

    So what I am saying is: Let it happen. It’s bizarre and chaotic and horrible, because your sins are being burned out of you, even if you are forced to repeat them (nothing will make you sick of a sin as much as being forced to repeat it!), but when you finally come through on the other side, which takes a lot of endurance and patience, you will finally be the instrument that God wants to use. I know that’s a horrible thing to contemplate, as it can take years, but it’s what I’ve seen.

    And there is this one thing: once you finally comprehend what is happening, once you finally see for the first time that there really is a purpose to it all and that it is so much greater than anything you ever knew about in your old life, you would never, no matter how much suffering is demanded from you, ever go back to your old life. Never. Trust me. Once you catch a glimpse of the bigger meaning and purpose that is there, you would never go back to the ignorant, meaningless life that you thought you were living before.

    God bless, and good luck.

  • Thanks for alerting us to this very important article. I have bookmarked the site itself for inclusion in my list of regular news sources.

    I would like to point out that the use of PR firms and the fake “institutes” and fake grassroots organizations they organize (called “astroturf”) was a system that was developed by Big Tobacco’s principal PR firm in the 1960s, immediately following the publication of the Surgeon General’s report on smoking in 1963 or 64, I forget which. At that time it was crucial for Big Tobacco to start making sure they controlled the conversation about smoking, and they did this largely by paying fringe “experts” (sort of like climate deniers today) to produce spurious position papers, etc., and then distributing them to the media and counting on false equivalence on the part of newspaper and magazine editors to gin up the idea that there was still a “controversy” about the effects of smoking.

    For a detailed account of how they did this, which I assure you is quite educational (or it was for me), check out the book The Cigarette Century, which I believe was produced by a Harvard Medical historian. I’ve never seen the world the same way since I read it.

  • As you write, money in politics is indeed our greatest obstacle.

    I had considered leaving the movement entirely a couple years ago, and actually did check out for a while, on the very same basis that you talk about: that the movement was a failure, although what I thought was that it would remain one because everyone was doing their own little thing with no unity between them, and unless someone went out and did the necessary work to change things on their own, nothing would ever actually change. My mind has since changed about that. My own specific way of looking at the problem was centered on different issues than the one that you present here, but I can see that without the kind of change you are talking about, even the changes that I was considering would stand very little chance of ever succeeding.

    Thanks for advocating for your point of view.

  • Thank you, Sarah. Your experience and knowledge really show here. I hate to complain about it, but one sees and hears so many screeds — well-intentioned, and informed by some pretty harsh experiences, but still screeds — that seeing someone lay out a well-reasoned and well-informed and articulate expression of their concerns about the need to uphold human rights against the usual practices of the “mental health system” in a way that makes clear how important those concerns are for all of us is quite unusual and quite welcome. Thank you. I’ll share this.

  • Thanks very much for this very informative article, Mr. Oaks. I would like to respond in the spirit that you requested we do.

    I have been working recently on a new article for MIA which contained a section which, unfortunately, it was best to cut simply because the piece was a little too long as it was and, even though the ideas were important, it wasn’t directly connected to the main thrust of the piece. However, the part that was cut bears on a subject which I feel is extremely important, and which I have been trying to draw attention to for some time now, and which I had thought I might devote an entire article to. However, if Mind Freedom is actually looking for these sorts of initiatives, you might be more successful in gaining some traction for it than I have been. This issue is our use of medicalized language.

    In this article of yours, for instance, you used the expression “mental health system.” I’m sure that you’re more than aware of the idea that “mental illness,” so-called, is a contradiction in terms and that no such creature ever has or ever will exist — that it is nothing more than a metaphor at best, yet it is a very dangerous and perilous metaphor for us to allow people to believe in. One of the ways that we allow it to continue is by allowing others to use such terms as “disorder” and “disease” (as opposed to difficulties) “mental health” (as opposed to state of mind or experiences or alternative realities), “medication” (as opposed to drugs or chemicals), and so on ad nauseam. Even worse is when we adopt this misleading and damaging language ourselves and in so doing perpetuate their system by allowing it to remain the dominant paradigm in both our language and in the public’s conception of what we are experiencing. As I say, I’m sure that you’re fully aware of this, and in fact MIA itself uses a default medicalized language, probably for lack of anything else, and though I have approached Mr. Whitaker about it, he seems to be unable at this time to be able to see what would be a solution to that problem at this time. So this is not just you, this is many of us.

    But it’s a major problem. The continued success and power of the psychiatric establishment and their cohorts (the pharmaceutical industry and the prison industry/Jim Crow system that is disguised as psychiatric hospitals and as AOT, for instance) are only able to maintain their power by maintaining control of how people perceive what is going on. As long as I have a “mental illness” which can only be “medicated” because it is an inherent “disorder” and would otherwise be “uncontrolled,” then it is perfectly justifiable for society to take over my “health care” and also protect itself from my potentially dangerous “delusional behavior.” And if that were in fact the case, I would probably agree. And that is how the public perceives the situation, a situation that is created by the power of psychiatrists to move in lockstep with each other on a rhetorical basis by speaking a unified language which everyone thinks they understand, even though we (and they, most of them) are fully aware that it is false. This rhetorical unity and universal understanding then gives them the power to enlist the media, which promotes their ideas, and to publish articles and talk to people on the street and publish ads that then go to perpetuate this rhetorical hold on public discourse and public power. And until that hold is broken, we will never succeed.

    We have no unity. One person calls it extreme experiences, another calls it alternate realities, another calls it spiritual emergence, while others default to psychiatry’s own language. We fail to break down their power structure even when not actively supporting it by default. It is imperative to change this situation and for us all to get on the same page so that we can shift the course of this public conversation into the path that we need for it to go and into which we know it must go in order to save lives. It’s that simple. As the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states, the structure of my language is the structure of my world. Until we set up the right structure, one that accurately reflects our shared reality (even though composed of many different perspectives), we will get nowhere. It’s really that simple. The first thing to do is clean up how we talk and get on the same page with each other and start talking in unison so that we can finally change the whole conversation. Until then, no one will ever understand what we’re talking about. The word will never spread.

    Just as one for instance, I myself do not care for or ever use the expression “extreme experiences.” For one thing, my experiences are not at all “extreme” — for me they are perfectly normal and routine, even if they might be odd to an outsider. Yet I am being branded with that outsider’s perception. Likewise, I do not ever use the expression “mental distress.” I am not at all distressed. I am “schizophrenic” as hell, all day long, every day, but I am not distressed. Maybe some people are, and maybe outsiders are, but I am not, and the term is not up to being a catch-all for every form of mental oddity or individual experience out there. Some manic people are quite delighted with what they’re going through, after all, and so am I.

    So let’s have a conversation. I believe that a conference of some kind, or some other kind of organized communication, and some sort of organized body, such as Mind Freedom might be capable of organizing, should be brought together in order to sort through the various language paradigms, where everyone can say their piece and we can all have some debate and discussion and maybe even some disagreement with each other for a while (in a polite and respectful forum, of course) so that we can finally come to agreement with each other on what you might call “a party line.” This could very well be a virtual conference, one that even meets periodically in order to have new reports and an evolving discussion instead of trying to get it all done in one single shot. There could even be little subcommittees that put reports together. Who knows what such a diverse group of extremely creative people could do?

    For instance, I use the term “alternate reality” myself because 1) I believe that what I am experiencing, no matter how strange it might seem to you, is quite real, and that it’s time for people to open their minds to that possibility and have it acknowledged, and 2) because it’s actually quite inclusive. There are, after all, many, many, many different realities that people like us talk about, and I see absolutely no reason at all that every single one of them isn’t legitimate and important. You don’t have to buy what I say, but what I say needs to be respected in exactly the same way as what the next person says, and it’s time that that was acknowledged. In this way, we could replace the term “psychosis” and “delusion” with a simple term: people who are experiencing another reality. It’s really that simple. Yet I am sure that my own term might not reflect everything that others might think is important to express in our new language that we’re creating, so I think it’s absolutely crucial that there be a forum in which all viewpoints are heard, discussed, and if possible a consensus reached so that we can finally, finally, finally make some progress. We are losing this fight. Badly. And until we begin to move like an army, with a common language and set of goals, we will never get where we want to be. That’s what psychiatry and the whole “mental health establishment” and the pharmaceutical industry does. And that’s why they’re winning. And probably only an organization like Mind Freedom could pull something like this off. I’ve tried on my own, and gotten nowhere. Maybe you would be more successful.

    Bear this one thing in mind: No political party that ever let itself be controlled by the terms that its opposition created the way that we are controlled by their terms would ever be successful. You have to take control of the conversation, or you will never be heard, and you will never succeed. This is not a fight against psychiatry, because they will never concede. This is a fight for public opinion, and with that on our side we can do anything.

    Thanks for your efforts. And good luck with that new chair!

  • I had a numerous short conversations with him, although I never knew what his real name was. It seemed that whenever I visited the comments section of an MIA post, he was there, commenting on something. Whenever I had a post up, he would comment, always in the most supportive way, and when I was gone from posting for a while and then came back, he was kind enough to take the time to be very welcoming and to express the thought that he was glad to see me writing again. A wonderful individual, and I can understand why the staff of MIA and so many others have taken the time to write so many tributes to him following his death.

  • You’re describing something that all of us who are willing to be right out there about what we have experienced have to go through. Even I, a noted author on the subject of voicehearing and schizophrenia, have to go through this. Fortunately, I decided a few years ago to simply stand right up and say fuck you and just be who I am, and it hasn’t really hurt me a whole lot in society. Yet, I have been taken to psych hospitals and confined, and when I was there it didn’t really help me to say fuck you and fight back, saying that I am who I am.

    It doesn’t help me now that I say fuck you and fight back against the local community mental health center.

    But you know what? In the end, all we can live with is ourselves. Yes, it makes life harder to fight back the way that we do. And yet that is what God demands of us. I’m not trying to be delusional here. It’s simply that what God demands of us — that we truly obey our own consciences — is what we do. We have to do it, whether we like it or not. It’s just how it is, even if it hurts us most of the time.

    I’m sorry that the churches don’t understand, but they aren’t the spiritually informed that people like you and me are. They see Jesus up on the wall, on his cross, but they don’t see that Jesus is sitting in the aisle next to them, suffering on a cross that is called society. You have to forgive them. That doesn’t mean you have to hang out with them. Just forgive them, and then go do your own thing. A real saint isn’t worried about what people in a church say anyway. A real saint is doing whatever God tells them to do, and you’re probably out there in the world, working for people. Like in a soup kitchen. A soup kitchen is worth 10,000 times what a church service is worth, believe me. And in a soup kitchen, you will be appreciated. Not judged for what you are, but appreciated for who you are and how hard you are willing to work and what you are willing to give. That’s how it really works. I’m sorry that your churches are full of people who don’t understand that. But you know what? The people who created the churches were creating a space for the weak and the lost and the confused to gather together in safety. The real warriors are the ones who create the churches to protect the weak and the unimaginative. Don’t be one of the weak ones. Be one of the ones who creates something new. You can do it. I believe in you.

    Best, Eric

  • Too true, too true. The scary thing is that most of them probably don’t even realize it. I call it “The Ever-Expanding Mental Health System.” Everyone bitches about how “the system is broken.” Yet all that they do is add yet another professional, at yet another salary, to the system as it already exists. There is never any fundamental questioning of the system as it exists. “The system is broken.” You hear this every day. Yet the very people who say this, from inside the system itself, never actually do anything to change it all radically, from the ground up. It’s the same thing, over and over.

    Thanks for your comments. Be well.

  • I believe that God created a physical universe. And in a physical universe, there are many things that can happen that affect our spiritual universe, which is also physical. And I do believe, quite sincerely, that it is possible that mercury fillings, or even a bad tooth, can cause you to have interactions with a so-called “spiritual universe” that might have been giving you trouble. I hope that you are truly feeling better now, and that you sleep the sleep of the blessed. I’m sorry that it took me so long to reply to your post, but I haven’t been paying close attention to this one for a while. My best to you.

  • I have read the comments by Elaha, Sa, Stephen, and AnotherAccount, and I would like to say right now that you are the most important people on our side of this discussion. There are those who understand the social dynamics, etc: those are the others in this conversation. I wrote this article with those people in mind. Yet I, myself, am one of you. And I believe that this is all a spiritual question, and I am on YOUR side when it comes to all of this as a larger question. God bless you all. I can tell by your comments that you are all God’s people, and that you are all on the right side of things. God bless. Thank you for bringing our side into this conversation — even if no one realizes what you are doing. I hope to see you all again, especially after my next article is posted.

  • Thank you, sir. With my only primitive Spanish (at best, believe me!), I can see that you got the idea. What a wonderful thing that this has crossed the language barrier! My best to you, sir, as you move ahead. A friend once told me that they say: Muerte o suerte! Maybe that’s how it works for us. Bon chance!

  • You certainly seem to have a real grasp of what was going on for these people. Are you German, or of German descent? You are describing the kind of thing that normally only someone inside the situation would know — much as one can tell immediately from a written account if someone has actually spent time on a psych ward. There are certain things about an experience that are almost impossible to imagine unless you’ve actually had the experience.

  • After your inquiry yesterday, I did ask Mr. Whitaker to put one of them back up. He immediately CCed his associate to have it put back up. However, I hesitate to burden Mr. Whitaker or his staff on the basis of my own requests, which might seem needless. If you find the material valuable and would like to ask him to put them back up yourself, please do so. I have no problem with the material being available again. In fact, I would like it if it was. But I wouldn’t want to ask him to put himself or his staff out just to satisfy my own vain, personal desires, especially after I made such an ass of myself when I was psychotic a couple years ago.

  • There is certainly a lot of information here, and I won’t pretend that I can comprehend all of it. However, there are certain things that I would like to state in going forward, and to which I hope both of you can reply.

    1.) there is the sincere acknowledgment that both of you are very sincere in your efforts, and that I hope everyone realizes that.

    2.) although I am not aware of the origin of your disagreement, I will have to state, going from what I have read, that I am completely opposed to any sort of institutionalization of peer support, whether paid or not.

    One of the simplest ways that any professional organization (like psychiatry) can destroy the opposition of a grass roots organization is to buy it. Yes, that’s right: by deciding to “certify” (according to exactly whose expertise?) and then to pay for the work of peer specialists (who chooses them? to what authority, like an institutionalized psychiatrist, or another mental health agency, do they answer?), we turn over our authority to an outside agency. And the psychiatric profession can buy our peers, take control of their training, then control who manages them and what they are allowed to say. And what this means is: certification by ANYONE as some kind of authority is a way to take over and control and then destroy our movement.

    If you want to work in peer support, good for you. But if you want to work for an agency, or a department of something-something-something (the bullshit department), you are not working in peer support. You are working in a system that is about psychiatry and you are supporting psychiatry’s control, because that is who is at the top of your food chain. And if you tell yourself anything different, you are lying to yourself.

    And once they get you on their payroll? Once they have silenced you, as you answer to their managers and their system? Then they cut your funding, and you are back out on the street again. This is how social movements too numerous to mention have been coopted and destroyed: by accepting a paycheck, and being silenced by it, and then not seeing what was really coming.

    Please don’t sell us out. That’s what the whole alliance between the deadly mental-illness system and the mentally ill is really all about. Don’t let this happen.

    And I hope that you two have a lovely debate.

  • All I can say is: Trust God, and let yourself go through it. You will come out on the other side eventually, and even if you don’t, it is because that is the way that God wants you to serve Him. You can never know what purpose He is using you for. Just have faith. He will take care of you in the hereafter. I don’t say that in any glib way. I am one who has reason to know that He is there. Trust me.

  • You are opening up a whole field of discussion here, and I would love to respond sufficiently. However, there simply isn’t time or space right now. But I will at least suggest the outline of my own views to you.

    What if God had decided that there were certain people who were so good that He would make them suffer even more than they otherwise would have, just so as to teach them even more about the world and what it means to sacrifice ourselves for others and for Him? What if trauma is not a biological factor in the situation, but one that comes from God Himself? That it is not a causation in terms of brain development, but a sign that God is testing you and preparing you to become one of His Chosen?

    I realize that this point of view is outside the boundaries that everyone believes in right now, but this is what I believe. And if you are a true schizophrenic, with a split mind — two forms of consciousness at once: the human being’s, and the consciousness that God has given you — then you will understand what it means. This is why I do not use quotes around the word schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is real, real, real — a split mind. Maybe people haven’t encountered it, and maybe most people wouldn’t know what it is when they see it, and maybe a whole lot of people who aren’t schizophrenic at all are mislabeled by people who don’t know better. But we do exist, and I have no doubt at all about what that means. God is here.

  • Your comments are very interesting. To someone outside our movement, they might seem paranoid. Yet to someone who knows about the high incidence of childhood sexual abuse among those who later hear voices, or how common abuse is with “borderlines”, what you have to say makes very good sense. It’s interesting that a doctor actually told you what you say — that doctors would cover up the sexual abuses of the establishment in return for having their own harmful acts ignored. This is not even remotely as crazy as some people might think. These kinds of unspoken — or even spoken — backroom deals used to be very, very common, and in some circles (I’m thinking of governmental power interests here) they probably still are. Thanks for your post.

  • I was very, very psychotic a couple years ago (I won’t pretend otherwise: it was that period that you need to go through before you re-integrate, if you’re a schizophrenic) and I took down those blogs myself in a pique of psychotic rage. I won’t try to explain what I was going through at the time. If you would like a copy of any of that material, I would be happy to supply it. There was one about hearing music as a voicehearer, one about beginning to hear voices again, one about time spent as a prisoner in a mental hospital, and one about what it is like to become awakened, both politically and socially, against the practice of psychiatry. My email is [email protected], and if you would like to write to me and tell me which articles you’re interested in, I can send them to you.


  • Thank you so much! It’s always nice when people actually remember you and what you wrote. And I would LOVE IT if Torrey responded. He won’t, of course — he’s much too highly placed to ever respond to us mere victims of what he’s propounding — but if he did then I would absolutely love to cross swords with him. He would go down in seconds, you can be sure.

    As far as being fair and like Mr. Whitaker himself, I can only say this: that we who are not on the side of big corporations, making money from them for being paid shills, we who are standing for the truth know that our only reward is in being honest, and if that means that we represent the arguments of our opponents in order to show how wrong they are, that is what we have to do. It is an obligation of conscience, and you really can’t fake it. If you believe in the truth — the real truth, which will help everyone when it is recognized as the truth of our situation so that we can effectively deal with it — well, that’s what you have to do. And thank you so much for recognizing that! It is a great compliment to be compared favorably with Mr. Whitaker, who is my own hero and teacher in so many ways.

  • Thank you. I’m doing my best. We don’t have the sheer mass of paid professional writers and trained “experts” on our side, which is what gives them such an advantage even though it’s obvious that they’re wrong. They control the airwaves and the propaganda and the advertising through simple economic power. We do have to fight, even if we are a David against a Goliath. In the end we will win. It’s only a question of how long it will take. Mr. Whitaker’s success in bringing this webzine together, and the newly emerging conferences and consensus among formerly “radical” thinkers is a very good sign. Let’s hope for the best.

  • I take it that you are referring to the experience of schizophrenia or psychosis itself.

    Yes, you can eventually come through it all, and you will not be the person you were before the experience. It can be a terrible period of suffering, doubt and fear, but in the end it does resolve into a new kind of awareness and a sense of possibility. I say this as someone who has endured the most terrible kind of experience that can be imagined (short of actually being physically tortured myself, except by God) and I do not take it lightly at all.

    I hope that your own journey is at a point where it is calm, peaceful and satisfying. If it isn’t yet, then I hope that it will be soon. As Eleanor Longden said (to paraphrase): “Sometimes, you know, it snows as late as May, but the summer always comes eventually.”

  • All the things you mention are very important concerns for me also, especially since I am a schizophrenic myself (I’m sorry, but there is no other term for it at this time, and it is a very, very real experience that needs a word to describe it in some way, even if the old term has come to have a taint of medicalization that shouldn’t be there; perhaps we should simply reclaim the term in the same way that people have reclaimed “gay” or “queer” or anything else that was considered offensive for a while). In any case, I agree with you on all the points you made and this is the focus of almost all my writing these days. Good luck to you, sir.

  • It’s funny, I read the article that Torrey and Yolken had written and I was just sort of puzzled for a while, because it is a very dense piece of material and it takes a while to get your head around terms like “incidence rate” and “prevalence rate” and so forth . . . in other words, to think like an epidemiologist rather than like a normal person. It’s hard to penetrate. But I could immediately sense that there was something wrong with it all, and by the time I got to the end that first time, I had started to spot what was wrong with it all, and their explanations at the end struck me as a lot of smoke and mirrors — that they were essentially lying to themselves and to their public. So this idea sat in the back of my head for the last couple years, and I finally decided to write it down, just to sort of scratch an itch because it bugged me so much, and it is certainly a surprise and a pleasure to think that someone might use it as a resource. That’s really the point of writing for me in the end — sharing ideas, etc. — so I’m glad you consider it so, even if all I meant to be doing was getting a bugbear off my back.

  • Yes, I think that starvation is often one of the roots of the origins of schizophrenia and psychosis. That’s what everything I have read indicates. Anything that puts survival stress on an individual, even if they are still in the womb and are simply being part of a mother’s experience indirectly, it seems to affect things. Even when there is stress a couple generations back, it can affect a person in terms of health and their mental welfare. Thanks for your comments.

  • Thank you. The cat poop theory of schizophrenia, which I believe was Torrey’s pet idea, was certainly one of the more absurd ideas in retrospect that has ever been produced. Yet, you have to sort of admire the doggedness of the psychiatric profession. If they actually had a clue about anything — if they could get over their bias that schizophrenia is physiological or psychological in origin and start to actually examine the evidence of what their own patients are telling them about their experience — they probably would have solved the problem for us long ago. Thanks again.

  • The question of how we all talk about experiences like that we now call “schizophrenia” is something that a friend and myself have been talking about how to address. We are considering how to organize what we are calling a “virtual conference” that takes place over two or three weekends so that people can talk about what we as a community want as a common language to describe things. The biopsych and psychopharm people move in lockstep, with a common vocabulary and rhetoric. We, on the other hand, are divided, and our lack of progress in penetrating the public discourse is one of the results of that. Thanks for your comments.

  • So, once again Sera hits it out of the park. The thing about Sera is that she writes in a popular form about what only professionals usually write about, i.e., how calling someone (like the president) “crazy” is not stigmatizing to that person but stigmatizing to the actual crazy people. In other words, don’t blame me for your violent racist bullshit; the problem isn’t being crazy, like me, the problem is being an asshole like you, and I’m tired of taking the blame for your bullshit, motherfucker. If you really want to read the ultimate on this, you have to read a book about voicehearing called “Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity: Studies of Verbal Hallucinations” that has an article about how every time a schizo kills someone, he is identified in the newspapers immediately as a schizo (“Howard Johnson, a schizophrenic, killed his father last night” is the lead, immediately associating schizophrenia with violence), when everyone knows that schizos are no more violent than anyone else, whereas no one who kills someone is immediately identified as a diabetic, which is also a condition that has no history of violence. It’s a brilliant chapter in the book, probably the best one. Maybe if we all start walking around and saying, yeah, he was a real fucking asshole, and he drove a taxi and he lived on that side of town and he had cancer and he killed people, maybe the public would start to believe that driving a taxi while living on that side of town while fighting with cancer is a serious, serious danger sign.

    Sera, one day you and I are going to start our own magazine. Some day it will happen. If I have to slave in New York 8 days a week to pay for it, it will happen. Bank on it.

  • I am glad to see that someone beside this author and myself also recognizes that:

    1.) Raising awareness is a vital first step in the process of societal change.

    2.) That after raising awareness, we need to begin to push for actual change. It is not enough merely to speak out. We have to actually push for REAL change, and this does not mean attending conferences all the time or merely publishing our views. Those are vital, yes, in spreading the word; but they are not the end goal. The end goal is completely changing the system to a new one. We need to remember that.

    3.) That actual change takes place, whatever it takes to get there. I am not personally comfortable with allying ourselves with other transectional movements, because a) we will always be put last, when confronted with other, much bigger racial and/or sexual and or/gender movements, so we need to stand on our own, and b) because we are not actually concerned with anything that resembles the same issues. We are not concerned about the color of our skin, or the language we speak, or about what genitalia we possess or don’t possess. We are concerned about the content of our mental experience, and that means that we are not actually the same kind of movement as other transectional movements are. We are mental; they are physical. We are all social, but their form of social is not the same as ours. A black schizophrenic is still treated in the same outcast way by black society as he/she is by white society, here in America, which shows that it is not a problem of skin color but a problem of how others perceive and label our behavior and our mental experiences. We should not confuse the issue. A schizophrenic is dealing with a mentally based societal problem, which is social, but not what a black person or a woman or anyone else is dealing with, which is also social but not at all the same thing. And we should NOT ally ourselves with any groups that would take our support to help themselves and then ignore us when we need theirs. This is simple politics. Don’t waste your time on a fake ally. Work for your own cause. Don’t lose sight of what you want. And never forget what you are really about. And allying ourselves with others is one of the worst mistakes we could make. We would lose all our own time working for others, and get nothing ourselves. Let’s be sensible.

    Eric Coates

  • I will freely admit that I have not read all the comments, as it looked like a small book unto itself. But I am sure, having read your post, that you stimulated a lot of intelligent discussion. Certainly some of the names that I saw would suggest that.

    I am going to instead make a comment in solidarity with you. I began to believe, a couple years ago, that MIA (and the conferences, most likely) was basically preaching to the choir and that no one, at least not in this movement, was actually getting anything real done in terms of changing things. I began to believe that if anything was really, really going to change, that we would have to go out on our own and do things independently. That is why I left for a while. And while I am not yet certain that anything is very different from that, I am now focusing my own articles and my own efforts on how to change things for real.

    I will be writing very soon about the actual cost of the “mental health” system, in the hopes that by taking people’s attention away from “efficacy” and instead focusing it on their bottom dollar as well as efficacy (“Why isn’t anything getting done when we’re paying this much?”) I might spread the conversation out beyond our own little group and maybe reach a wider public. That’s just one thing I’m doing. Public information is still a consideration. But I’m doing more than that.

    In addition, myself and a friend of mine are thinking of hosting a virtual conference in which we can begin to address the language of it all. As the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis states, the shape of your language is the shape of the world. In other words, the words you think in control how you think. And if we want to change things, we need to adopt a revolutionary new language which actually represents our own experience if we want it to ever be honestly represented and then to change how things are done.

    I hope to see you there. You are obviously a very brightly shining light, and I can only imagine that you will contribute much to our cause if you continue to be honest enough to make the kind of statement that you did. We don’t need cowards. We need mavericks. You might be one of them.

  • Thanks for your article.

    As a young man, who was bullied and abused and generally made to feel like I was an odd individual (I was simply more verbal and a little smarter than the people around me: a geek, in other words), I came to the conclusion as an angry young adolescent that it was more important to be yourself than it was to fit in with everyone else. In other words, I came to believe what Emerson talked about in his essay “Self-Reliance”: “whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.” And this applies to what this research talks about. It is not important to feel happy so much as it is important to be who you genuinely are, whether that involves some anger or not (and I would point out that some social conditions of the countries that are described as
    “less developed” might involve some social conditions, like poverty and blatant oppression, that might produce very, very natural feelings of resentment, anger, and sadness) and that it is actually MORE adaptive to feel those feelings than to simply feel bliss as you make lots of money and eat at fancy restaurants in America, where you might actually start to feel kind of inauthentic. It is, after all, more natural to be an angry black woman in the United States, who is fighting to change things and who has respect for herself, than to be a white man who goes to his office job every day in resignation to the white, privileged, capitalist system that gives him his big paycheck and his worthless existence. Thank you again. Good article. Being you and in tune with your actual surroundings, I believe, makes you happier. Dr. Martin Luther King was surrounded with some pretty horrible stuff, I imagine, but I also imagine that he was very happy in how he responded to it.

  • Was it too expensive? Or was it just a hassle?

    I know that I have been put on drugs that cost, most of the time, about $2,000 a month. I am at present given a shot every month (against my will) that costs about that. So my question is: is it really that it’s too expensive to pay for therapy? I don’t think it is, when you consider what they pay now for me to be drugged. What I think is that the money simply isn’t supplied for THAT specific form of “treatment.” The drug companies get every penny they want. People who actually help other people are, on the other hand, starved of any funds. What do you think?

  • This is an incredible piece of work, sir. Thank you so much. I’m sure that SAMHSA is going to sit up and pay very close attention to this. We who write for MIA may feel at times that we’re screaming in a vacuum. We are, however, the heart of the loyal opposition itself, and in reality, I’m sure that whatever appears on this site is very closely attended to by all of the powers that be, from Big Pharma to Washington, and you just fired the shot that starts the Civil War. Congratulations on your fine work.

  • I am not in any way a fan of antipsychotics, and I am fully aware that the bias of this webzine is against them. I am myself a writer for this webzine, and the last thing I would want to do is to support the use of drugs. However, in the spirit of fairness and science, it must be admitted that you have said that antipsychotic use is associated with better functioning, and this cannot be ignored.

    I have myself been on psych wards, and I have myself seen how various individuals who were psychotic and/or dangerous (I have been both threatened and assaulted by such individuals on psych wards) have actually improved, and improved greatly, with the use of antipsychotics. I have myself also benefited from them at various times. Now, I don’t actually like their use, or approve of it over the long term, but it is simply an undeniable fact that sometimes — SOMETIMES — the use of antipsychotics is helpful. Not always, but sometimes. And I think that this is worth thinking about. We are not here to condemn Big Pharma. That is what I usually do, but that is not our purpose in being here. It is to find out what helps, not what gets in the way.

    Thank you for your article. I find, when reading your work, that you are succinct, pithy, and very informative. Thank you.

  • Thank you for your article, which is clearly and succinctly written.

    I would like to make two suggestions for two anomalies that you point out in your article for which the authors of the study apparently have no answer. They are both social explanations.

    First, you point out that children exposed to antidepressants need fewer special needs classes but miss more of their final exams. Well, I hate to have to put it this way (I’m trying to keep it brief), but perhaps the children of depressed mothers are as intelligent as their mothers were (they may be impaired in some areas but fully functional in others, since not all forms of intelligence are the same), and yet they are also disillusioned. Depression, after all, seems to come out of life circumstances, and if your parents were smart enough to notice the problems of the world and of their own circumstances and perhaps become depressed, then you too might be 1) pretty smart also, and 2) disillusioned enough to blow off your final exams, since none of it really matters anyway. Why bother? This points to a social cause, not a biological one, for depression.

    Second, you point out the increased rate of poverty among those who have parents who used antidepressants. You might need to have actually been in a psych ward at some point yourself, or have been caught in a probation system or a prison system or any other kind of social system that we currently have, but you do not, in general, ever see rich people in psych wards. Rich people get to go somewhere else. Rich people do not end up in the social systems like probation or prison, and if they do, they get the very nice form of it all. And so, once again, you have a social determinant for who ends up on psych drugs: poor people, who don’t have a fancy lawyer to show up and bail them out when they get in trouble, and who get steamrolled into a cut-and-dried form of “treatment” by a stressed-out, overworked psychiatrist whom you might, if you’re lucky, see for five minutes a couple times a week, if that.

    Thanks again for your article. Very informative.

  • Thank you, sir. I realize that many people have very strong feelings about all of this, but I do also feel that there are, believe it or not, legitimate questions on both sides of every debate among us here on MIA. Is there one everywhere in the outside world? No, because people are only too willing to manipulate discussions to serve their own purposes. But here on MIA, I believe that most people are sincere, even though we have some Big Pharma lurkers out there, and so I really do see both sides of it.

    I hope and pray that you and your wife are well. It takes patience and kindness and forbearance. Good luck.

  • I’m sorry, Mr. Blankenship, but I don’t believe that I have suggested here that anyone is less human than anyone else. However, I do believe, and I know from experience, that when you are in a psychotic state that you may simply be living in a different version of reality than others are, and that the expectations about responsibility that apply to the world that others are in but you are not in might not be responsibly applied to you. I am not in any way suggesting that there is a special category for some people, or that they are some sort of privileged “child” who is allowed to rampage as they want to. If you get right down to it, I believe that society should protect itself from dangerous, irresponsible people. But I also believe that there are times when society should make allowances for what someone is going through. That’s all I meant to say.

  • Thank you for thoughtfully presenting this article.

    Perhaps I misunderstand your personal comments, but I thought that they actually represented views similar to those of Dr. Thomas Szasz, for whom I have the deepest respect. His illumination of the myth of mental illness is fundamental to what I believe. I do, however, have two issues with Dr. Szasz. He was, after all, a very right wing conservative, a libertarian, and I believe that while he had important points to make, that he was mistaken about the fundamental nature of two things in regards to “mental illness.” Both of these issues involve the idea of personal responsibility.

    Let me say first of all that psychosis and schizophrenia, when you first experience them, are usually quite devastating experiences. You might find yourself truly believing that the President is trying to kill everyone, or that your neighbor is murdering people and burying them in the basement, and you might believe this totally and sincerely. You might, then, try to kill either the President or your neighbor whom you think is murdering people, and you might do this not because you are a malingering asshole, which is how Dr. Szasz essentially describes such people, but because you sincerely believe that you are helping people. This is not to justify or support such behavior. But there is, in fact, a case to be made for the insanity defense and the idea that you are not culpable for your actions in a criminal way. It’s not that you weren’t acting responsibly. It’s that you simply didn’t have the connection with the world that would enable you to act as other would act, but you were, in fact, trying to be responsible. And I don’t say that because I haven’t known people who were in mental hospitals, having used the insanity defense to escape personal responsibility for actions that they were fully aware were wrong. But there are some people who are so out of it (I would have been one of them) that they are truly unable to understand what their culpability might have been. This is a basic issue that goes to the heart of antipsychiatry’s personal responsibility issue, and I think that Dr. Szasz, as a right wing libertarian, got it wrong.

    As a personal note, I have not only seen people abuse the system to escape culpability, I have also seen people who were genuinely way out there who were dangerous. I have been threatened and personally assaulted by such individuals, and yet these very same individuals, when restored to their usual selves, have sometimes come to me, admitted that what they did was wrong, and apologized. So there is hope, but there are also times when people simply cannot be held responsible for what they have done, but without taking all sense of responsibility away from them for the rest of their lives.

    Deeper than that is the concept of disability. There is, quite simply, no way that some people who suffer from psychosis or schizophrenia could work. None at all. I know that I, personally, would have been so distracted by the phenomena that I saw happening around me that I would have followed them, become wrapped up in them, and been unable either to recall what my work assignment was or to even understand its importance in the light of what I was experiencing. Are there actually people who use their diagnosis to create excuses for themselves and malinger? Yes, certainly there are. But the reason that this is accepted as an excuse for claiming disability is actually valid, because some of us are disabled in that fashion. So Dr. Szasz, while doing an admirable job of pointing out one very small problem has actually stigmatized those who are having a genuine problem, which I know is real, because I had it. Now, denying people the role of social responsibility is in fact used as a justification for taking their power of making their own decisions away from them, and I deplore that situation and the people who do it. However, there are actually circumstances in which a person cannot be a responsible member of society as we normally construe it, and using Dr. Szasz’s rationale about it all is not sensible. Dr. Szasz saw social interaction as games. I do not. There is a real game element to it all, but it is certainly not the sum of what interaction or psychology is about.

    I find it unfortunate that antipsychiatry, in its efforts to create liberation for the “mentally ill,” is willing to close its eyes to the reality that these people (myself among them) actually face, simply in order to embrace an ideological position that is intended to liberate us.

    In other words, it’s not cut and dried. There ARE two sides to these questions, and simply brushing them away is neither intellectually honest nor psychologically sensitive. These are the two problems that I have with antipsychiatry’s excessively ideological position in these two areas.

    Respectfully, of course,
    Eric Coates

  • Thank you, sir. I have read this twice. Once earlier in the day, and then again tonight.

    I have been held captive in the psychiatric hospital a couple of times, and I always wonder what it is like for the kids. Here in New Hampshire we have two different wards in the state hospital for children. There is the one for the very young kids, like eleven or twelve years old and less (the pre-pubescents) and we have one where the older kids are. It’s strange. You seem them in the building, always in a group (the adults can get individual building “privileges,” but the kids don’t), most often as they are coming from the gym, where they engage in some serious play time and exercise, or from the library. They have the irrepressible spirits of children. I have always watched them, and they just don’t look disturbed in any way. They just look like kids. I’m sure that they have lives that are as complex as what the adults in the hospital go through. An institution is still an institution. A label is still a label. A psychiatrist is still a psychiatrist, and drugs are still drugs. Being away from home and a regular life is being in a kind of penitentiary, and you still want to escape.

    Thanks for sharing this. I really do always wonder what it’s like for the kids. You are obviously a humane and decent individual, and it’s nice to know that some people do escape. I am something of a nut about wanting to know the history of my state hospital, and I have had mental health workers who had been working at the hospital for thirty or forty years tell me the stories about the children they had seen who then spent their entire lives at the hospital. There was one girl that I was told about who had a bizarre, Kafkaesque story. Her father had simply left his daughter in the hospital, a perfectly normal girl, while he traveled to Europe on business, and unfortunately he died while she was there. She then spent her entire life as an inmate of the hospital. She had no one on the outside to help her leave — to find a job and an apartment and actually be able to leave. She was trapped there. I’m not saying that she was a better or more deserving person simply because she had never had problems. Far from it. But once you are caught in the system, it is almost impossible for most of us to really ever escape.

    I hope to see more of your writing soon. You obviously have a very important story to tell.

  • First of all, thanks very much for your article. I appreciate how it succinctly and clearly lays out some of the issues involved, and that it retains a humane sense of fallibility about one’s own decisions about what is right and what is wrong. It’s refreshing to see.

    Second, I doubt very much that this was a case of “mental illness.” I believe it was a case where the physical source(s) of his physical pain were simply unknown, which is a medical and scientific problem, not a psychological one. It is a reflexive habit of medical doctors these days to refer physical problems that they don’t understand to a psychiatrist. I believe this should be addressed, and that it should stop.

    And third, I have had plenty of time to consider whether mental difficulties are themselves a sufficient reason to kill oneself. There are two answers to this: 1) I believe that suffering is suffering, and that’s all there is to it, and you can die if you want to, and 2) that even more important is your right to die, for any reason, and at any time, and there shouldn’t even BE a debate about “mental illness” at all. The whole debate is a false dichotomy, or so I believe, and I think it should be stated clearly in those terms so we can all get over it and allow people to exercise free choice about their own fates.

    If God (I happen to believe in God, but have no problem with anyone who doesn’t: I was an atheist for a very long time myself) wants to keep you alive for some reason of His own, He will. Otherwise we should all get out of the way and permit people to exercise their own God-given will to make decisions about their own lives.

    Thanks again for the article. I hope I see more of your commentary in the future.

  • I’ve always thought — or at least I have in recent years, since I got old enough to think about it and had a reason to question what voices really are — that it was basically a case of words developing as a grunt to get another hominid’s attention, and then pointing. And then after a while they realized that there was no need to point. They could just grunt in the right way, and it got the whole job done.

    I’d be happy to check out what you say about John Mace if you could send me a good link. You probably know some.

    Good luck!

  • I like that phrase “symptomatic beliefs.” I hope I remember that one.

    However, I hope I can dissuade you from the idea that I think that ALL voices are evolution-based developments of the brain. I believe that our own internal voice, the one that everyone has, is from evolution, but that voices, so-called — the kind that voicehearers hear in addition to the usual voice — is NOT evolution-based.

    Think of it this way: God let us develop on our own (you might call that free will, although I don’t really think of it in those exact terms) and that then he might decide to pick a few people here and there to talk to himself. Or to have other beings talk to. I really do not believe that ALL voices are from our own brains. In fact, I’m pretty confident that it’s very different from that.

    Thanks for your comments. Glad to hear that you’re doing well with it all.

  • I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear exactly what I was writing about. I was NOT addressing the subject of the kinds of voices that voicehearers hear. Those are entirely different from that voice that EVERYONE has inside them, which sounds like your own voice talking to you. That is an entirely different affair. Also, I am not at all in agreement with the idea that voices (plural, as in voicehearers, not “normal” people) come from inside. I very much believe in God, for instance, and that he can talk to you and sometimes does. I believe that my voices are external, not internal. But I will be getting to that subject on my blog in another week or two, or whenever the editors choose to publish it. I hope you will find more to agree with in that one.

  • I really do agree with most of what you say. I’m not sure about the lacking accountability part — not being held responsible for what you do — because society does, after all, need to protect itself from harmful human beings who might prey on or hurt others, and punishment (and attempted reform) is sometimes necessary if society IS going to protect itself. Aside from that, I agree with you.

    Thanks for responding!

  • This is a very interesting discussion. I would be curious to know: are you a voicehearer? It sounds like you aren’t, since it is easier to discount the idea of an outside force when you haven’t been exposed to things like voices that you can clearly tell are NOT your own, and then you see enough things in the outside world that cannot be easily accounted for by the usual empirical world. Especially when the voices either tell you that something going to happen, or tell you what to do, and then when you do it, something extraordinary happens.

    I’m also not sure about the stripping layers away part. I think that’s a very deceptive metaphor that comes out of an outdated (i.e., we’ve grown past that conception of things) form of psychology. They’ve been talking about a “subconscious,” for instance, since long before either you or I were born. Yet there is no scientific proof for its existence at all. So: we can build nuclear reactors and spaceships headed to Mars, but we just haven’t found where this subconscious is located in the brain? I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it. There are things we do that are NOT conscious, but I don’t think there’s a real SUBconscious, if you know what I mean.

    When you talk about “stripping thoughts away,” I think what you’re really talking about is learning to do 2 things. 1) You learn to see through what that prefrontal cortex (what I call the parasite) is saying, and this is what we achieve when we become mindful, whether that’s through the Buddhist tradition or the Jewish tradition or, hell, you just learn it on your own. Buddhists say that some people are just naturally enlightened and they never need to learn about it at all; it just comes naturally. And the other thing I think that you’re really talking about is 2) how hardwired many of our thoughts and habits are, right in our brain structure, and that you can learn to spot what’s there. For instance, I have what is now an instinctive reaction to much of life that is to simply relax about it. Yet when I was younger, I had a lot (and I mean a lot) of social anxiety and fear about the bigger world and about school. What I did was teach myself, through many years of effort, to basically just shake it off. It is almost impossible for anything to make me worry any more. And that was basically just a case of rewiring my own brain so that it doesn’t do the same thing any more. These are not “layers” after all. In no way does the brain resemble an onion. It’s more like a circuit board, where you can solder new connections into place.

    Anyway, sorry for the long ramble, but the subject interests me. Nice talking, and thanks for the thoughtful responses.

  • I don’t want to intrude on your own personal discussion here, but there is actually a Buddhist theory that the mind itself is the sixth sense. In other words, there is vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell, all of which come from the outside world. Buddhism — Tibetan Buddhism, at least — says that the mind is also a sense organ. We don’t know where our thoughts come from. They just appear and disappear. And in this sense, they are just like the other senses. We can’t explain where it comes from, what it’s really doing, or where it will go. The mind, the thought process, is in other words just another sense organ. So: are you responsible for your own thoughts? Do you create them? Probably not.

    So good luck with it all, and I hope you have a good discussion about it all.

  • First of all, although I am an actual voicehearer, I am not talking about “voices.” I am talking about the same voice that you and I have both heard in our own heads. Second, I thank you that you think I have actually summed up a lot of what’s hurting people. I’m glad about that.

    But to move on to the rest of what you have to say. YOUR internal voice may very well be different from mine. Yours may be helpful in some ways, just as my own was very, very helpful in some ways. And hurtful in some ways. But it really is not the same thing as who I feel I am. I am very much that deeper sense of my own self, and not the other thing that is talking to me. Your own internal voice seems to be more constructive than mine was. Even in my the realms of my own hypothesis, there is a lot of room for variation. Perhaps those of us who are loners, who are writers, who are a little bit too selfish — and I have been all of those things — don’t have a parasite that is quite as benign and helpful as other people might have? Perhaps you are pointing something out here that I hadn’t thought of — our human variation. Perhaps for some people it is not a parasite, but merely symbiotic. I can accept that idea. It’s a good one.

    However, I will have to disagree with you about “it’s not part of me.” I am quite confident that this thing that used to talk in my head was NOT, quite clearly, part of the me that is part of my deeper awareness. No. Not at all, and that’s not trying to disown it. It just wasn’t me, and I remember quite clearly how it has tried to impose itself on me. So maybe you actually have a symbiotic relationship with it, while mine is a little more . . . predatory. It might be just human variation. Or maybe it’s the Devil — that snake which is the power of speech — coming in to hurt us.

    I appreciate your idea of how evil actually serves what is good. That is a very old idea, actually, that comes from at least the time of the middle ages. In Dante’s Inferno, the Devil is trapped at the bottom of Hell, which is not made of fire, actually, but of ice. The worst traitors — and the Devil is a traitor, to God Himself — are trapped in this ice at the bottommost layer of Hell. And the Devil, who was an angel at one time, still has wings. And as he flaps his wings, trying to escape the ice, he also creates such a powerful wind that it cools the ice and keeps it frozen. That is how it all works. The evil that we do keeps us trapped in evil, simply because of who we are. And the good that we do also frees us to do more good, because that is who we are.

    The voice inside is also a part of that. I’m glad to have talked to you. I hope we meet again.

  • Psychosis is a hell of an experience, isn’t it? Glad you made it through. I’m psychotic all day long, every day, but it’s manageable for me most of the time. I would go back to “normal” any day, because it does get pretty exhausting. Nevertheless it’s a pretty remarkable thing to experience, and I wouldn’t be the same person without it. In fact, the old me is long gone. I hope you get a chance to revisit if you want.

    I know: who says that? But psychosis is a hell of a trip, and if it isn’t too horrifying, it’s something that everyone should experience at least once. There’s nothing like it.

  • I can tell that you are also another psych-ward survivor, or at least another one of us from the streets. We are a special breed, that’s for sure.

    I think of myself as being bilingual. I can talk psychotic or I can talk normal. I love talking to psychotics. I love talking to normal people too. Anyway, I really appreciate the poetry. It’s great. I have a whole wall here at home of psych ward art. It’s great. And I can talk in rhyme all day long, just like a rapper. It’s fun. Tiring, but fun.

    Good luck out there. It’s a crazy world.

  • I’m not interested in “promotion,” as it were (not to denigrate what you’re about, if that’s what you do), but I would certainly be happy to get out there and help the voicehearing cause. I’m also interested in psychology in general, so I would be happy to talk. I will email very soon with my own contact information.

  • Perhaps we could also have denial-based therapy, collusion-based empathy, and non-existential based decision making. What do you think?

    I think that we could expand the healthcare system infinitely — if it hasn’t gotten there already (about which I have my suspicions — if only we created enough hyphenised adjectives to describe it all. We could even soon have raw-based cooking, shrimp-based gigantism, and even, most unbelievable of them all, human-based living. Wow!

  • I would like only to add this: I do not believe in “rebound”, but I do believe that when you come off the drugs, in the physical universe that God created, that you do, once again, enter his universe. There is no “rebound.” What there is is a kind of re-entry into God’s world, and that He created it this way on purpose. I am not trying to discredit any “science” of the brain. I am simply trying to emphasize the power of the world that God made.

  • I am an MIA author myself.

    I believe in the gradual discontinuation of drugs, but I do not believe in taking years to do it. I believe that one drug should be discontinued at at time — the most powerful one — but that each drug can be discontinued in a matter of a few months.

    Schizophrenia is a whole other topic, and the “rebound syndrome” is something that I do not believe exists. Rebound is not a result of drugs.

    Think of it this way. God knew exactly what human beings were a few thousand years ago. Religious — which is to say, schizophrenic — experience has been with us that whole time. Jesus and Mary, if they were with us now, would be subjected to a whole range of drug and neuro treatments.j

    There is no such thing as rebound. What there is is a re-emergence of the experience of God, which is nothing at all like what is described as “schizo” in the DSM. It is simply the re-emergence of the God experience — which is, yes, very painful and very difficult and very, very hard to get through. But there is no drug rebound. There is simply the re-emergence of the spiritual experience. And that is very different.

  • Mr. Bertino an supporters:

    I was myself a psychiatric prisoner for a very long time. Although there were no criminal charges involved — which very likely spared me the fate you are going through — I was also forced to endure the system, not because I was a problem, but because I resisted it.

    I am very, very, very interested in your case and will make it a priority to see that it is righted.

    I am the former bestselling author of “Hearing Voices” and a former blogger for this site.

    Issues of civil liberties are paramount for me. I will do what I can to see that you are freed.

    My email is: [email protected]. If you or your trusted contacts wish to communicate with me, this is where you should do it.

    It’s time for the bullshit to stop. In solidarity with you, my brother and fellow prisoner, I can only wish you courage to endure. I know it’s hard. I haven’t had to deal with it as bad as you, but I’ve been there. Love and peace, brother.

    Eric Coates