Sunday, November 28, 2021

Comments by Michael Cornwall, PhD

Showing 634 of 634 comments.

  • Paula was a true force of nature- and her life force was aimed at relieving human suffering in all it’s forms. Her indelible imprint on our lives and her generation will last far into the future lives of coming generations, because the universal message she brought of justice and compassion was so clear and powerful.
    I gratefully got to know her through inviting her to write an article for the Journal of Humanistic Psychology on extreme states.
    Her article- “Another damaging use of the “Schizophrenia” label…and what seemed about to help” was published in December. Paula shared about being with a young person who was labeled, and how she brought her caring and listening to their time together. During many phone conversations I felt her strong presence and unwavering commitment to both fight the dehumanizing power of psychiatry while at the same time be a source of healing to the victims of psychiatric injury.
    My deep condolences to her family, loved ones and friends.

  • Thank you very much Maddie, for your great comment and sharing your very important research. Those 2 quotes by Jay about him not being co-opted and the value of working to change the system from the inside out for the sake of those countless people still trapped and dying in it, are very relevant and true I believe. Jay and many of us activists who stayed inside the belly of the beast for decades, fighting for the rights of those suffering from within, also were just as active at leveraging all of the levels of exterior political power to both stop psychiatric abuse and to build humanistic alternatives based on compassion, and the value of inclusion of survivors and others with lived experience.

  • Hi Bob, in my MIA article- “Remembering a medication-free madness sanctuary” I share about I ward, the 20 med medication free first episode extreme states/psychosis program that served hundreds of people for 8 years! I worked there as therapist for several years. It replicated the same hugely successful results of the NIMH Agnews Project, the gold standard randomly assigned, double blind first episode research, where at 3 year follow up the large cohort of people who got placebo vs those who got Thorazine had a 70 percent lower re-hospitalization rate. Iward was opened as a public sector system diversion program based on the powerful Agnews med-free efficacy results. At the same time, Diabasis House, Jungian John Weir Perry’s San Francisco based program was opened too, based on the Agnew’s results. I did my doctoral follow-up research on Diabasis. Soteria house was also open here in the SF Bay Area then. Loren Mosher’s work there also proved that a non-medication, non pathologizing approach to extreme states works!
    So, as you know I’ve long shared your frustration that mainstream psychiatry has always rejected the facts before their very eyes, that non-medication, humanistic oriented alternative services for people in extreme states can and has been proven to be effective as the Harrow research also proves.
    The big disease model lie that human emotional suffering is caused by a bio-genetic broken brain is what props up psychiatry- and as my latest MIA article shows, that lie is unshakable from within the psychiatric echo-chamber. My article is- “Eyewitness to Psychiatry functioning as a conspiracy theory based cult.”

  • Hi Craig, thank you for your comment! Yes, as I mentioned in my article above, Dr. John Weir Perry shared Jung’s very personal dream work story about Jung’s mother-in-law with me, that Jung had confidentiality shared with John in Zurich in the late 1940’s. Jung had known Perry since the early 1930’s and had written the forward to Perry’s classic 1950 book- “The Self in Psychotic Process.” I did my doctoral research follow-up study on John’s medication-free extreme state sanctuary- Diabasis House, and we were friends for about 20 years. I wonder if Emma’s mother was symbolized in Jung’s recurrent nightmares of a menacing dragon because he knew that she was enraged with Jung for openly having an affair with ex-patient Toni Wolfe while Jung was married to her daughter Emma!

  • Hi River, in my experience because everyone has such different needs as they attempt to be a caregiver for people in emotional suffering, I don’t really have advice, but I’ll share a bit of what I’ve needed and still need.
    For me, feeling merciful love for myself without negating that crucial love with toxic guilt and shame for my human failings and limitations, is needed. I also need to risk pursuing deep connection with people who can really love me. I need to reach out to every source of sacred, benevolent, loving and healing energy that I can find to sustain me. I need to closely embrace the terrifying fact that my next breath may be my last. I need to be like a soldier whose paradoxically liberating minute by minute duty is to protect and love me and mine, while facing the fact that my next breath may be my last.

  • Thank you Peter, for sharing such a valuable message of heartfelt caring! Reading it brought feelings of reassurance and hope, that it’s possible to begin to relieve the suffering of trauma and alienation we all experience in varying intensity in life, through claiming our right to feel the healing presence of self-love and love for others. You have for decades fought against the incredible harm done by the failed institution of psychiatry and the human rights violations of inflicting ECT, psychosurgery, brain damaging drugs and pathologizing labels on countless people.
    But during all those years of fighting the harm done by psychiatry, you also held out and practiced the alternative vision of caregivers offering empathic and compassionate support for people in emotional pain and suffering.
    Thank you my friend for your tireless commitment to both protecting and loving countless people, as your vocation continues to shine in this article here and now.

  • Hi Bob,
    What stands out very strongly for me in Zel’s story is him asking you- “how do you think I felt?”… about being diagnosed and drugged- and him saying- “no one ever asked or ever seemed interested in how I really felt” about being sexually abused and traumatized as a child and labeled as schizophrenic- and- “ no one ever asked how I felt about being fed drugs.”
    As a therapist whose primary commitment is always to provide a safe relationship where all such feelings can be expressed and received with compassion, I’ve served many people with very similar histories as Zels for 40 years. It is so tragic that in the last days of his life he still was asking for someone to listen to and receive his feelings, his emotional pain- emotional pain that kept being multiplied by the injurious human rights abuses of psychiatry, but by his own report, emotional pain that never was sufficiently received with compassion.

  • Bob, I’m glad to be one of the presenters in the upcoming MIA system change webinar. Reading your blog post question about the possibility of remaking psychiatric care, I remembered a conference 7-8 years ago in North Carolina where you spoke after being on the road for months talking about the issues with leading psychiatrists that you raised in your book “Anatomy of an Epidemic.” As I recall, you said you were exhausted and discouraged- that you were possibly reaching the painful conclusion that even the most prominent psychiatrists from some of the most prestigious universities that you’d interacted with, were seemingly not capable of the basic intellectual and ethical honesty necessary to even consider the validity of any serious questioning or challenging of their entrenched belief system.
    I must say, I remember I said to myself as you spoke – “I’m sorry Bob had to spend so much time and energy to discover that god-awful reality!”
    I’m grateful to you and everyone here who struggles for compassionate caring for all who are suffering within and without of the psychiatric system.
    I started my struggle with the psychiatric disease model in the 1970s and at some point realized the only way I could keep it up was to absolutely believe revolutionary change was possible as I’d experienced at Iward, knowing Mosher of Soteria and working with Perry of Diabasis while at the very same time accepting that things would very likely only get worse- but that each day I’d just fight to the best of my ability until they threw dirt in my face.
    In solidarity, Michael

  • Thank you Fr. John, for your very informative comment. The FDA press release on the Monarch eTNS device cited in our article also states that the electrical current reaches the part of the brain “associated with ADHD.” I don’t believe there is such an area of the brain, but the FDA confirms that the electrical current is penetrating into the brain. I don’t believe in the validity of DSM diagnoses such as ADHD or in the psychiatric disease model of human emotional and spiritual suffering.
    Dr. Breggin and I share your concern that harm to the developing brains of children won’t be proven until after the damage has been done. However the reported “side effects” to children in the very small, non replicated research study are headache, sleep disturbance, jaw clenching, and fatigue. These effects already point to potential harm being done to the frontal brains of children according to Dr. Breggin.
    I’m reminded of RD Laing warning that-
    “The so-called side effects of psychiatric drugs aren’t side effects. They are the damaging effects!”
    The Monarch eTNS “side effects” should not be downplayed either.

  • Great point Jim! It’s an important question you raise about why so many caregivers defensively shield themselves from the emotional pain of those who have turned to them for solace and compassion.
    The fact that such clinical emotional distancing is what caregivers are taught to do in grad school, is also very telling about how the whole profession is built on the rigid belief system that claims that the emotional pain and suffering of “patients” is qualitatively different than the emotional suffering that the clinicians experience in their very human lives. I’ve personally known dozens of mental health professionals during the last 40 years and their pain is the same!

  • Thank you for your very important comment Jo Ann Cook. I’ll be doing a webinar here on MIA on November 19th, about helping children, teens and parents in distress via counseling, that can empower them to avoid accepting psychiatric diagnoses and to also oppose medications being prescribed for children and teens, as they all resist the pressure you describe by school staff, child psychiatrists and other prescribers.

  • Thank you to everyone who commented above and contributed to this discussion.
    I’m glad to see when doing a Google search for Monarch eTNS, that this MIA blog article is on the first, main Google search page. I hope people who are urged by prescribers to put one of these electrical devices on their children’s heads all night long, will see our blog article here on the psychiatric abuses of children, if they search Google for information on the new FDA approved Monarch eTNS device.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you Miranda, for this really valuable article! It shows how much the decades of the psychiatric, NAMI and drug company propaganda about the chemical imbalance lie, and that psych drugs are the cure, have influenced the full media spectrum, and all areas of our lives.
    Even Rolling Stone is promoting psychiatric drugs!
    I hope you can get your article to Copper, Cuomo and the editors of the other media outlets too.

  • Thank you mwatkins55 for importantly sharing about your eye opening time as a medical student at an adolescent clinic. I wish I knew of a progressive national parent support organization that is an alternative to the ubiquitous NAMI presence. Maybe a reader here will have and share such information. The public system I worked at in the SF Bay Area had some good parent groups that were helpful and not stigmatizing.

  • Thank you Steve. Good point about the iatrogenic public health crisis. Going to grade school and beyond in the 50’s seems almost idyllic compared to what it’s become the past 30 years, as social and economic stresses have coincided with the rise of psychiatry and DSM pathologizing of childhood and adult behavior. The enormously successful and sinister business plan of the drug companies to supply drugs to every living creature if possible has brought us here now where this electric brain device is approved by the FDA without a moment’s compunction.

  • Hi Ellabelle,
    I think Steve McCrea’s answer about trauma is a good one.
    Yes, I use the term extreme states as it refers to what gets called Psychosis, but I mention that the qualities of emotional, spiritual, soul-depth, archetypal and existential suffering can be active during extreme states too. Many times people in extreme states are experiencing the immense sadness and/or overwhelming anxiety that you mentioned too.

  • Hi Alex, in my experience the trauma and emotional wounds from my past that caused the intense suffering of my extreme states over 50 years ago, still vulnerably live deep inside me, and can be activated if I’m not careful to focus on what and who I need and allow in my life, and to also focus on what and who I don’t need and won’t allow in my life.
    That process may be similar to what you’re saying about coming into the present.

  • Thank you for your comment CatNight. I was able to always be an outspoken activist while working inside the system for 28 years as a dissident therapist. We had a strong group of us who had our own lived experience of extreme states that constantly fought against psychiatric power and NAMI political power- and we often succeeded in getting peer run services funded. We also got a civil service employee, peer counselor job class enacted in the 1990’s that was fully in the union with full benefits. Many of those original peer staff who were the true leaven that served to really transform the system from the inside out, have now been retiring with a full pension and benefits as new peer staff come on board.

  • Hi adikanda, thank you for writing and raising the question about the section in my article linked above- “Remembering a medication-free madness sanctuary” where I recounted my experiences doing family therapy in 1981 with young adults experiencing extreme states for the first time at the I-Ward sanctuary. I described how I was trying to figure out how the larger toxic social matrix impacts families ala RD Laing, as I talked about how I believed if one parent could bring an unshakable love forward for their struggling young adult, then that could be enough to help them weather the storm into young adulthood. But then I also wrote-

    “Freud said that ‘nothing is more important for the healthy development of a child than the loving and protective presence of their father.’ At least one parent needs to be there and hold the child in their heart as the apple of their eye. Even then, the lack of the other parent’s love can be a big enough wound that the developmental hurdle of young adulthood requires that madness to occur.”

    Your life-long devoted love for your son is very present in your powerful comment above.
    Best wishes,

  • Hi Cathy- that’s a very important question, thank you. I’ve been with many people years after their period of extreme states who naturally are still traumatized by the often terrifying and demoralizing ordeal they went through. Often then, them focusing on what their emotions are now about their previous intense extreme states and what caused them, and how they were often mistreated when they got “professional treatment”- plus it’s valuable for them to see how their current dreams are providing deeper understanding of possible integration of extreme state trauma, and how even a deep healing in the psyche can emerge.

  • Hi rasselas.redux- in the article I briefly describe what I think an extreme state might be- “complex multi-dimensional human emotional, archetypal and spiritual suffering”- That’s based on my own experience of such states and from time spent with people. There’s a link above too to my Diabasis House research where I explore your important question “what is an extreme state” in much more depth. An MIA article called “Responding to madness with loving receptivity- a practical guide” also focuses on how I view extreme states.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you again Alex! Good to hear from you as always. Your faith is inspiring. I hope you’re right that light and love are capable of ultimately being more powerful than their polar opposites-
    More powerful for both healing individual people and for stopping the mass destruction movements of war and every kind of planetary destruction that seem to threaten life on earth.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you for writing JanCarol!
    Come to think of it from what you wrote, maybe when empathy occurs and “the whole person he was sensing” happens- “but there was cruelty not compassion in response,” it sheds light on how multi-functional empathy may actually be for humans. Maybe because the capacity for empathy doesn’t restrict empathy to be limited to only being followed by compassion, there has been even a human evolutionary value to having been able to quite quickly sense where “the whole person” right in front of us “lives inside.” Are they dangerous? Do they come in peace? Are they hiding something?
    Tuning into the full person right in front of us empathically- their emotional micro-expressions, eyes, body language, voice and the meanings being expressed via their uttered words, all are registering and being weighed.
    How we respond to all we empathically learn is not narrowly limited just to compassion.
    Maybe that’s not unfortunate as I said in my article, because at times empathically sensing where a person may “live inside” may give us the knowledge we need to run for cover!

  • Hi Judi. Thank you for your powerful comment.
    So many times over the decades I’ve had people describe their initial immersion into the psychiatric disease model gulag and how the deepest core of their naive and innocent selves was veritably transformed. They described a gradual indoctrination into a new form of social and self-identification being systematically created around them in their transformed world as a “mental patient” and also intensley inside them as the almost seamless and inescapable “grooming process” as you say, begins, advances and succeeds.
    I tried to shed some light on this insidious and ritualistic process in my MIA article- “Does the psychiatric disgnosis process act as a degradation ceremony?” Another article focuses there too- “Does a psychiatric diagnosis have the impact of a medical curse?”

  • I agree Steve! Thanks for your comment.
    I tried to describe part of the dynamic you’re importantly highlighting when I gave examples of how psychiatric dogma-bound mental health professionals use their empathy skills to get insight into a person’s emotinal experiences, so that they can then diagnose/label and “treat” that person according to the clinician’s distorted psychiatric disease model belief system. In that closed echo chamber trap as you say, the clinician can not have real caring and compassion because treatment compliance is demanded based on the clinicians self-anointed superior status of professional, unquestionable authority to diagnose and insist on drug treatment, or other potentially invasive or forced treatment.

  • Hi Rachel777, thanks for your comment!
    Since empathy is defined as “Having the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation,” then feeling empathy can be both the necessary prerequisite for then feeling caring and compassion, but empathy also can be used to tune into another person’s inner experience in order to gain knowledge about them that can be used to manipulate or exploit them without feeling caring or compassion for them.

  • Thank you too Alex! Yes, as you say so importantly, the multiplying, cumulative trauma that’s fueled by the clinician’s own emotion avoidant projections and projective identifications, plus the whole monolithic presence of the psychiatric disease model “treatment” system of denying and silencing emotion with medications- can easily crush the life and spirit of anyone-
    Until they are almost against all odds able to escape the trap.

  • Thank you again Alex, for your great comment! I’ve long believed that the whole edifice of the psychiatric disease model of human emotional suffering was and is a massive cultural creation constructed to defend against the truthful emotional expression of individuals of every age in our society. Our culture fears emotional truth so much that we’ve tasked, co-created and funded the psychiatritric disease model to legitimize the control of every citizen’s subjective truth. That control is always exerted in the name of doing what’s best for the “deviating” emotion expressing person in our midst.
    In this light, all those clinical assessments, diagnoses and forced or imposed “treatments” are as you say, fueled by the objectifying projections that places pathology “out there”- residing in the person suffering emotional pain.
    The same unacknoledged unconscious inner fear that prompts a politician to induce fear in others via projective identification, also prompts the diagnosing “mental health” clinician to need to have the emotionally suffering person in front of them to embody the clinician’s fear of their own emotional suffering, so the clinician can safely go on telling themselves that they are beyond ever feeling the emotional pain that they diagnose in others.
    I remember in grad school when a professor defensively responded to me in front of the class after I’d suggested that I believed that any one could end up in an extreme state if a threshold of trauma and loss occurred to them. The professor declared- “Michael, I could never become psychotic no matter what ever happened to me! I have completed a rigorous training analysis and my ego strength is now developed to the point where I’m impervious to ever becoming overwhelmed as you are claiming is possible for anyone!”
    The whole class turned and looked at me, waiting for my answer.
    I said- “ For your sake, I hope that’s true.”

  • Thank you RightsRNotWrong for your hugely needed civil rights work for people in the mental health system in California and for your clarifying comment here about Laura’s Law AOT in California. The various Sf Bay Area counties that have chosen the Laura’s Law court ordered out-patient treatment option have gone through lengthy struggles between NAMI led activists and opponents like my friend Jay Mahler who you might know, and the very large group of people in Alameda County that includes Berkeley and Oakland for example, who fought against AOT.
    In my MIA article called- “Why Invountary Out-Patient Treatment Isn’t Necessary: A First Person Account”- I cite a N.Y. Times article on Kendra’s Law that Laura’s Law was fashioned after. In the N.Y. times article a relative of a person in the mental health system AOT program is quoted- “Now with Kendra’s Law, the police take him to get his monthly shot of Haldol and he’s pretty stable.”
    I understand that the Laura’s Law AOT treatment plans that I assume would always incude medications as part of the plan, are also drawn up as part of the AOT court order.
    Would it require a Riese hearing or a community conservatorship process of the person under the AOT court order to allow the court to have the police involved as in the New York example?
    I think that the “black robe” effect, and being under a court order that includes the AOT treatment plan can also be a form of pressure and coercion on a vulnerable person in the MH system.
    Complying with an AOT treatment plan that includes new digital Abilify will no doubt be something that will be expected if not forced on people to avoid hospitalization in the future.
    Best wishes,

  • Thanks for your comment Richard.
    Under President Obama, the FDA rejected the original digital Abilify approval application based on safety concerns. But in May, 2017 the drug makers reapplied- and now have received FDA approval.
    One of the promises President Trump made in his campaign was to loosen federal regulatory oversight at the EPA and other agencies.
    I believe that the institution of Psychiatry evolved, exists and is tasked to control personal and societal deviance while making a handsome living for the 25,000 MD’s who are psychiatrists.
    Abilify has been the most profitable drug on the market for it’s makers and company shareholders.
    In the coming days we will see Big Brother and Big Business become even more tightly joined at the hip.

  • Thank you Patrice for giving your invaluable, compassionate advice to loved ones and family members who struggle and are impacted as they are also enveloped, as you say, by the psychiatric curse that greatly is harming their beloved ones as happened to your brother. Sending prayers and condolences for you and your family. I’m so sorry you lost your dear brother.
    I hope many people read your comment.
    In solidarity dear friend,

  • Lawrence, the 40 plus psychiatrists that I knew and worked along side as a dissident therapist at several different clinical locations within a large public sector mental health system for 28 years, were not in it for the money. They were not motivated by greed as you have suggested. They all could have made probably double their civil service salaries in private practice or other private psychiatric settings. Many of them had gone to some of the best medical schools in the country. They weren’t slouches. Many had been in the Peace Corps or served as Doctors Without Borders physicians on their vacation times. But all of them but one, had totally bought the psychiatric disease model of human emotional suffering, which was reinforced constantly for decades by the neuroscience stance of the APA and NIMH. But those psychiatrists did, with the best of intentions as altruistic civil servants, harm their patients as I describe in this article by indelibly labeling/medically cursing and harmfully treating their patients based on the true believer ideology of the psychiatric disease model.

  • Lawrence I believe the self interest factor is very big, but the dozens of psychiatrists I worked alongside everyday for almost 30 years also really believed in the disease model of human emotinal suffering they had been taught and that’s daily reinforced by the APA, NIMH and drug companies.
    That HMO child psychiatrist who recently held up the plastic brain model to show the child and mother where the child’s so-called ADHD brain was malfunctioning actually believed that lie!
    It’s more than cognitive dissonance at work that creates that false self serving narrative that psychiatrists tell themselves. I believe it is a form of stupidity as it’s defined- “behavior based on a lack of good sense and judgement.”
    Psychiatrists have been trained and brainwashed to believe that it’s actually possible that an 2-3 year old toddler’s brain is diseased without any medical test to prove it, and so they diagnose them with ADHD or bipolar and give them psych meds.
    That big lie about brain disease is at the heart of neuro-biological psychiatry’s Orwellian existence, and is the supportive foundation for the self interest that follows from it in my view.

  • Great article Lawrence, thank you! You show clearly how heroin and opiate use and abuse/deaths is increased by our child rearing culture that’s been hijacked by the psychiatric disease model of human behavior.
    In my recent article titled- “Why do parents give amphetamines and other risky psychiatric drugs to the children they love?” I recount a parent telling me of a child psychiatrist at a large HMO pulling out a plastic model of a brain to show her and her 5 year old child, by pointing to where the child’s “brain isn’t working right” and then saying Adderal would correct that brain defect.
    I do therapy with such parents and children and teens to address emotional distress that psychiatry views as evidence of disease.
    My other recent MIA article- “Do Psychiatrists harm their patents out of stupidity?” addresses the underlying problem of psychiatry as a human rights abusing, failed medical specialty that’s based on false premises that have no basis in scientific fact.
    Best wishes,
    Michael Cornwall PhD

  • This is so sad- for researchers with a huge budget who fail to even do a comprehensive literature review. Because the northern California Agnews state hospital project that they overlooked was a NIMH funded gold standard, randomly assigned, double blind first episode psychosis study that is still the largest ever study of its kind. The randomly assigned group that got placebo had a 70 percent lower re-hospitslization rate than the group that got antipsychotic meds. See my MIA article- “Remembering a Medicatuon Free Madness Sanctuary” for a report on Agnews and on the publicly funded IWard 20 bed program that I worked in that used the Agnews results to get funded and stay open for 8 years! We had similar efficacy results.
    Loren Mosher of Soteria House founded yet another NIMH funded first episode, medication free psychosis program that had remarkable published research results that equaled Agnews. John Bolla did follow up research on Soteria a few years ago that showed the huge unmet need for such programs.
    It’s simple- the majority of people who receive a med free residential place to be during their first experience of extreme states/psychosis are diverted from having the 6 month duration of so called symptoms and miss getting the bogus label of schizophrenia. They are diverted from being in the mental health system for possibly the rest of their lives. My doctoral research was on another California med free first episode program called Diabasis House that got similar results.
    Michael Cornwall PhD

  • Hi All,
    Many thanks to everyone who commented and contributed to the lively and very valuable discussion here!

    Dozens of people on my Facebook page and in Facebook groups who read my article also shared about the harm and human rights abuses done to them by psychiatry, and about the great need for receiving true compassion during times of suffering and when in need of helpful caring from others.

    The article was picked up and featured in the Human Rights section of with a commentary by Dr. Harold Mandel.

    Thank you again to everyone here on MIA for the powerful activism that is present here everyday.
    Best wishes,

  • Ron I’m surprised old friend, that you would imply that some writers, readers and commenters here are coming across as “fanatics making irrational attacks” as you stated in one of your comments above. Isn’t using that kind of name- calling and inflammatory language about critics of psychiatry who may disagree with your positions, much like what we’ve come to expect in some of the rhetoric that Jaffe, Torrey and especially Lieberman used when he publicly called Bob Whitaker a- “Menace to society!”

  • Hi Ron, thanks again for writing. I believe that when our society tasked and bankrolled and gave psychiatry the legal authority to be the medical specialty to respond to people in emotional distress, that a grave responsibility was accepted by psychiatry- especially in light of every psychiatrist’s solemn physician’s Hippocratic oath to “first do no harm.”
    Because of the logical fallacy that the disease model of psychiatry is based on- that there are underlying “physical and organic” disease processes causing the emotional distress that is wrongly described by diagnoses like so-called schizophrenia, then deaths of psychiatric patients treated with that diagnosis are wrongful deaths in my view. Wrongful deaths because the physicians lied about the true causation of distress and because they knowingly prescribed medications that are proven to possibly have health ravaging side effects and meds that even increase the incidence of suicide.
    Podiatrists, Opthomalogists, Orthopedists and other medical specialties like psychiatry, don’t treat patients with “physical and “organic” diseases that are potentially fatal. But those medical specialist’s patients don’t die dramatically earlier under those medical specialists care like the patients of their fellow MDs who are psychiatrists do.
    I believe there should be an informed consent notice given to every patient that is about to receive psychiatric care- “Warning! You are receiving potentially life threatening treatment by the medical specialty of psychiatry. Our patients routinely die 20-25 years earlier than the national average. We can not prove the existence of any underlying physical or organic disease process that itself causes these deaths except in the instance of Alzheimer’s disease. Please know that former NIMH director Thomas Insel affirmed that there are no blood tests, X-rays, MRI tests or genetic tests that can confirm the DSM diagnosis and prognosis that you may be receiving today from your licensed Psychiatrist.”

  • Hi Seth, in private conversations Perry never really strongly emphasized that there are 2 categories of extreme state experiences in the way Grof more pointedly did- that is, you’re either in a spiritual emergency or you’ve got a psychiatric disease. John really focused with Diabasis House on first and early episode extreme state processes because the Esalen inspired Agnew’s Project study he was part of confirmed for him what he’d written about in “The Self in Psychotic Process” that Jung wrote the forward to in the 1950’s.
    John saw how Diabasis like Agnew’s and Iward and Soteria,(not Laing’s Kingsley Hall) could divert 60-70 percent of first breaks from being in the system if they went through madness without meds in a loving setting.
    But what about the 30-40 percent Diabasis couldn’t reach or help? He said he believed they were somehow unable to avail themselves but he wasn’t sure why- just that folks who had the flattest affect and tended towards paranoia instead of florrid super active imagery and emotion charged mythic narratives would somehow need to have their emotional psyches recharged, because he knew without that they were in a barren inner wasteland. Turns out they really were and are. But that’s not because they aren’t in an archetypal process as I found out and shared with him.
    After the Diabasis and Iward(where I’d worked for years)med free madness sanctuaries were shut down, I worked for the next 25 years with many folks who had been on Iward and hadn’t been among the fortunate 60 percent who exited the system after being there. So against my job site clinical supervisor’s direction, but with Perry’s off site anxious blessing. I decided I would ask these so-called flat affect hebephrenic schizophrenics to please share their dreams with me.
    Then out it poured, dream after archetypal dream, full of emotion and amazing imagery, mythic themes along with psychic phenomenon too.
    When he saw what was happening, Perry strongly urged me to write my work up from this period with so-called “chronics” because it had reversed his belief that people who don’t get through madness on the first or second try are pretty much lost.
    I am currently writing a long journal article or possibly a book on it, so stay tuned for the details. Bottom line, because of going through my own un-medicted underworld journey of madness, I never questioned whether anyone else could be reached and helped out of the spiritually barren and often terror fueled darkness filled wasteland too, if true merciful love was offered to them.o, I always believed that by definition, if you are experiencing extreme states your’e in an archetypal/spiritual. polytheistic deity inhabited process. So because the elevator in the psyche/soul goes down as well as up, hell is a spiritual zone too and the denizens of the wasteland are with the wasteland gods and ghosts when we pass them on the street, and if we only see their tragic outer condition, we just don’t know the whole story.

  • Thank you arjuna- I went to CIIS too and am happy to be working with some young grad students from there on developing a Laignian style residential haven for folks in extreme states, that also draws on transpersonal and Jungian psychology. It’s going to be called Gnosis Retreat Center. Michael Guy Thompson, who blogs here on MIA is the point person. The new paradigm, as you say- ever evolving.

  • Thanks for writing Ron. I don’t believe that certain DSM diagnoses like so-called schizophrenia have been proven to be “physical or organic” brain diseases. That’s why I wrote that such DSM diagnoses wouldn’t be potentially lethal, as the proven “physical and organic” disease processes such as cancer and heart disease are, which are treated as such by the medical specialties of oncology and cardiology.

  • Thanks for writing John. Yes, they so often bristle and are appalled at the slightest challenge. I focus on that arrogant behavior in my MIA article- “Are Some Psychiatrists Addicted to Deference?”
    At the end of the article I share about a psychiatrist telling Bob Whitaker after Bob had done a group presentation something like- “I’m not interested in talking about the questions you raised Mr. Whitaker, I just want you to know that I don’t like your attitude!”

  • Thank you George!
    That’s so telling that psychiatrists didn’t ask the great many people in your study about their personal experiences.
    I remember reading that Jung had said that- “Psychiatry has turned the gods into diseases.” Seems like our inherent human birthright for having profound and meaningful mythic, spiritual, archetypal, psychic, soul and mystical experiences- and even our dream experiences have been pushed out of sight and devalued by the psychiatric vision of what it means to be human.

  • Hi George, it’s really great to see a fellow Jungian writer here on MIA, writing on dreams who also was friends with John Perry!
    I look toward to your continued posts on dreams!
    John and I were close friends for about 20 years and I did a doctoral research follow-up study on his med-free Jungian madness sanctuary, Diabasis House. Here on MIA I’ve written a couple of articles you may enjoy about dreams, Jung, madness and Perry.
    A provocative one is called- “Jung’s First Dream, The Mad God Dionysus and a Madness Sanctuary Called Diabasis.”
    In my MIA article- “Dreams: Still the Royal Road to the Unconscious” I share a dream teaching that Jung personally shared with Perry in Zurich about Jung’s own dreams, that John passed on to me in the 1980’s.
    Welcome aboard to MIA!
    Best wishes,
    Michael Cornwall

  • Hi Emily, thank you very much for sharing your experiences and extremely valuable message of liberation. I’m glad you escaped that terrible scene and am very sorry that it was hurtful.
    I was struck by how often the wisdom of your body alerted you to mounting danger- heart racing, hands trembling, head swimming as you approached the freeing but terrifying realization that the group leaders were masterfully working to trap everyone there in the Orwellian bind that is also the dark scheme of psychiatry that says- “if you resist what you are experiencing and interpreting as coercion, then it is proof that you need more force applied against you, to increase your level of submission and compliance.” Inherent in that obscene message of control and destruction of personal freedom, is that the oppressors know what is best for those they would dominate and that the means used to gain submission are justified- everything that is being done by the leaders is in the best interest of the victim of coercion.
    The end game result is masterfully plotted by the oppressors. We see it in the darkness of Orwell’s vision of “1984” when the victim is finally, totally broken down as was skillfully orchestrated. Finally the trap closes and all free will is surrendered completey to the leader as the victim crumbles inside and proclaims- “I love Big Brother.”
    Thank you for your defiance of the oppressors Emily.

    In friendship and solidarity,
    Michael Cornwall

  • Thanks for your very important comment Richard! In my reply to Paris Williams (who cited the Dali Lama being unable at first to understand the western emotional experience of guilt and shame fueled self-hatred)- I refer to the “Fall” that for many Christians is held to be the beginning of human original sin and the corruption of the earth and all nature via disobedience.

    70 percent of Americans are Christians and 70 percent of them believe in hell. They hold the belief that a hell awaits-

    “People who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished” according to a 2015 Pew Research study.

    According to the Pew US study, 22 percent of Jews, 76 percent of Muslims, 32 percent of Buddhists and 28 percent of Hindus also believe in an afterlife hell as described above.

    The person I write about in my article who was paralyzed by extreme feelings of shame and guilt, believed they deserved to burn in hell for all eternity until they finally became free of their burden of shame and guilt through self love.

  • Thank you for your comment Someone Else.
    It’s beyond ironic that for several disease model caregivers I’ve known well over the decades, who themselves became very overwhelmed by traumas and losses in their own lives, did not seek out the standard psychiatric injurious treatment you describe above for themselves.
    Instead, they sought out the loving care you describe. I guess that didn’t strike them as strange because they still clung to the false belief that their patients had mental illness and that their suffering was very different-

  • Thanks for your great comment Matt! I hope people here read it.

    After 35 years of countless times watching disease model caregivers so often intentionally ignore, and be unable to respond with simple empathy and compassion, based on a shared human kinship with the subjective emotional pain of someone in pain sitting 4 feet away from them, it seems to me that the disease model of human emotional suffering has evolved to protect society and its caregivers from the intense kind of emotional intimacy that Searles and you describe- and that I suggest in this article.
    The detached busy work of diagnosis, prognosis and treatment planning and so-called clinical intervention completely miss the mark of what the suffering person 4 feet away really needs.

  • Hi Brian, thanks for writing my friend, and for mentioning Open Dialogue and the healing work of Lewis Mehl-Madrona. All over the world most people have always practiced compassion and loving patience n the face of emotional suffering. Our waning historical era of draconian control and turning a cold shoulder to people in pain surely will not stand.

  • Hi Paris, thanks for your great comment! I think my belief that guilt and shame are not hard wired emotions, but are culture bound, learned emotional responses that we are tragically subjected to learning as children, is supported by Sharon’s description above of the Dali Lama not having any way of grasping her question about self-hatred because he hadn’t been made to feel that way, hadn’t been made to feel shamed and guilt when growing up.

    Joseph Campbell pointed out that male dominant western culture is the only one on the planet with a creation myth that assigns planetary corruption to humans for our role in the ‘fall’- that fall includes not just our own shameful act of defiance that deserves punishment- but Campbell says nature itself has been contaminated by our presence on earth.
    That’s not something the Dali Lama was taught.
    I think the western heroic, patriarchal warrior mythic core also contributes to our heritage of learned guilt and shame, via it’s reification of glory vs disgrace in battle, and through prizing the goals of conquest and enslaving and humiliating enemies.

    With these more fundamental culture defining, shame and guilt engines ever at work above, (over 50 percent of Americans believe that people who don’t live a good life will be punished for eternity in hell)-
    if you then add on the power of modern social darwinism and the materialist imperatives of capitalism impinging on all of us, it looks to me like we live in a toxic shame and guilt making perfect storm.

    These considerations above and the looming possible suicides of those gripped in extreme shame and guilt as I described in the article, brings me the urgency of saying no to the emotions of shame and guilt. Maybe some people can more peacefully resist them via mindfulness as you say, but for me, bluntly and unequivocally rejecting those learned emotions can’t happen quick enough.

  • Thank you for writing LisaO! You know I’m always beyond leery of anything claimed to be measured by fmri’s because of psychiatry’s bogus claims of brain pathology being shown via imaging. I remember feeling good about yogis and zen masters being hooked up to galvanic skin response and blood pressure cuffs in the 70’s to show they were really stress free. I need to catch up with what you know about the brain which I think doesn’t pathologize extreme states and our emotions- learned, culture bound emotions or hardwired ones!
    best wishes, Michael

  • Hi Seth, if you look up the word remorse in the Cambridge English Dictionary it say’s it is- “A feeling of sadness for something you have done.'” Several other dictionary definitions of remorse also clearly distinguish it from guilt.

    And if you Google- guilt vs remorse, you’ll see how clearly remorse involves a person looking inward to feel empathy and caring for another person that they may have harmed.

    That’s what I’m talking about. That kind of transformative emotional remorse aimed at the well being of the other, that remorse makes the learned and destructively induced, culture bound emotions of guilt and shame obsolete.

    Via this restorative subjective emotional experience, as I wrote about in my article above, of feeling this kind of other focused, restorative remorse, that involves taking full personal responsibility for one’s hurting another, and which creates the willingness and pursuit of making amends, of feeling empathy and compassion, and of seeking reconciliation, well-

    the destructive emotions of guilt and shame clearly have no role in that process of self-love while simultaneously caring for the well being of another.

  • If I rob and shoot someone as you describe in your example above, I should be able to be given consequences based on the findings of evidence that prove the facts of my actions. The judgement of the court should be solely be based on my proven actions.

    It seems to me, that for justice to be real, it has to be dispassionately rendered with no attributions or judgements made about the state of a person’s soul or moral character. Otherwise justice is not justice but just another guilt and shame based degradation ceremony aimed at shaming and debasing and condemning the person hood of the one accused of breaking a law.
    Of course justice can’t happen if a law itself is unjust, such as the forced treatment laws enacted to unlawfully control and imprison people labelled with psychiatric diagnoses.

  • Hi Nomadic, I agree that people need to feel what we feel- and that to fully experience and express our emotions such as anger, fear, grief, happiness etc. is imperative for our emotional and personal freedom. Seeking that freedom began for me over 50 years ago as i traversed the emotional suffering of intense madness.

    In my three other MIA articles on emotion listed below, I affirm my long held belief in the core value of emotional freedom – a freedom that the disease model of psychiatry so often destroys through it’s dogma and human rights abuse practices.

    The articles are-
    “Emotions: Keys to Our Freedom”
    “Our Emotions-The Sole Creators of Every Word, Voice, Symbolic Image, Bodily Movement and Thought”
    “For Me Self-Love Requires Both Mercy and Defiance.”

    As I shared in this article on guilt and shame, I believe those two emotional experiences aren’t part of our hard wired human emotional birthright like the experiences of anger, fear, grief, joy, etc. are,. Babies aren’t born with the inherent mammalian/human need to feel ashamed and guilty. That’s why I see guilt and shame as being destructive, learned emotional experiences that are responses to manipulative and oppressive culture bound individual and group domination strategies developed to control the behavior of others.

  • Thanks for writing Alex,
    Yes, the mental health system, the psychiatric disease model world freely dispenses guilt and shame along with DSM diagnoses- and people are guilt tripped if they don’t comply with the dr. orders for med consumption- and if the guilt trip doesn’t work, then forced treatment is a guilt fueled judgemental sanction and form of punishment.

    My MIA article- “Does the Psychiatric Diagnosis Process Qualify as a Degradation Ceremony?” further explores how psychiatry functions to control deviance using shame in the degradation of personal identity.
    I’m glad you feel no guilt for saying what you said above about not being responsible for other people’s feelings!
    Best wishes my friend, Michael

  • Thank you for your wonderful comment Julie! I hope everyone reads it. The childhood you describe of being in nature and you and your brothers freely moving about with a child’s vibrant energy is what I remember of my childhood too. Now every child from birth on, is closely watched for any sign of what might deviate from the dreadful constrictions that pharma backed psychiatry may judge as pathological.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • I’m very sad that Pat has passed and do believe his brutal and injurious mistreatment at the hands of the MH system shortened his life. Pat and I were comrades for many years in Contra Costa County in a strong coalition of activists that included Jay Mahler. For years Pat served on the state mandated county mental health advisory board that was dominated by NAMI and mental health administration, with a few other people with lived experience that got appointed, but were so disrespected that they often left after a month or so of being on the advisory board. If you knew Pat, you know he would never sit still for anyone talking down to or demeaning him or other consumer survivors in his presence. I fondly remember Pat, often refusing to yield the floor in those meetings as he fearlessly and brilliantly challenged the shocked county chief psychiatrist or head of NAMI, who were expecting but not getting deference.
    Pat was a fearless and wonderful force of nature that did incredible good.

  • A Comic book Called -“What’s up With Josh?” from the Shire, Adderal drug company on ADHD! In it an action heroes is saying- “Only a doctor can tell if you have ADHD or not, and it can be scary when you first get told you have it. But it’s much less scary when you understand it.”
    Thank you very much Liz Sydney for the new link in your comment above, to the article about this incredible drug marketing scheme that directly targets kids!.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • I totally agree with you Steve! In the article I mention the enforcement of over regimentation during school hours as being very problematic, but I’m grateful you said that so-called ADHD can be a very healthy expression of boredom and anger in response to being forced to sit at a desk and be subjected to seemingly endless inane and repetitive learning tasks.
    I was like you- spaced out and staring out the window- In a way the whole school based childhood learning experience is surreal and Kafkaesque for many children. As hard wired hunter and gatherer primates we really aren’t built to spend most of our young years cooped up in a crowded room in a building under fluorescent lights.
    Our culture tasked psychiatry and the drug companies to address that situation.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for your very important comment Liz! I should have stressed the huge factor you mention- the tremendous pressure on parents from overwhelmed teachers and burnt out school principles to medicate children who the school staff may be having a difficult time with- for some of the reasons Steve McCrea mentions in his great comment below.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • We can’t easily feel and give empathy, compassion and love to ourselves or to another if we are in the grip of guilt and/or shame and/or fear. We can’t easily receive empathy, compassion and love from ourselves or from another if we are in the grip of guilt, and/or shame and/or fear.

    A patriarchal culture’s defining myth form can induce much guilt, shame and fear. The belief in Divine judgement can elicit emotions of guilt, shame and fear.

    A 2014 Pew Research Center, Religious Landscape Study found that roughly 72% of Americans say they believe in heaven- defined as a place “where people who led good lives are eternally rewarded.”
    58 % of US adults also believe in hell- a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”
    According to this study, 70% of Christians believe in hell, 22% Jewish Faith, 76% Muslim Faith, 32% Buddhist Faith, and 28% Hindu Faith also believe in hell as described above.

  • I understood Marcuse’s great refusal to mean that subjectively, person by person a defiance to oppression is individually realized and that organic process then creates a collective political wave of revolution.
    “The personal is political” was a feminist rallying cry in the 60’s and 70’s.
    A recent blog post I wrote here on MIA called- “For me, self-love requires both defiance and mercy” draws on the need for a great refusal of sorts to accept any outer or inner oppression, while at the same time claiming the right to give and receive empathy, compassion and love, as a way to redress the wounds of both commission and omission I believe our culture inflicts on us.

  • The overarching myth forms that historically emerge that various cultures embrace to create their cosmologies, theologies and social structures and cultural institutions- (that include their economic and political institutions, like feudalism or capitalism)- are patriarchal if a male deity is the creator of it all and rules over it all in any cultural aeon myth form.
    That’s what I was referring to Oldhead, when I wrote about the mythic and archetypal roots of our own patriarchal culture.

  • Hi oldhead, thanks for your great comments. I do think the patriarchy in the broadest sense, because of it’s inherent values that reify power over others, naturally birthed feudalism and capitalism- and as 2016 capitalism morphs into an ever more blatant oligarchy, it almost is like a return to feudalism is happening.
    The Citizen’s united supreme court ruling set the stage where just a couple of days ago, multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson pledged $100 million dollars to multi-billionaire Trump’s campaign for president.
    Our daily bread of alienation does to a huge degree flow from our modern serfdom. We may be able to more freely complain about the polices of the ruling capitalist oligarchy than the serfs could about the king, but I think until we practice a person by person subjective form of Marcuse’s “great refusal”- that capitalist economic oppression will keep the upper hand.
    Previews of a very grassroots wave of person by person, subjective great refusal, came in the 60’s when holding a heart-centered personal inner commitment to peace and love and ant-war beliefs were extolled as themselves being revolutionary acts.
    I guess what I’m writing here about the cultural wounds of omission that deprive us all of the necessary abundances of empathy, compassion and love that we all need, really does come from those younger days for me when hearing John Lennon sing -“All you need is love” said it all.

  • Thank you so much for writing Richard. In response to your central question above- “Is this not where it all begins?’ I’d sadly say, no I don’t believe so.

    In fact I wish the profound, unconscious alienation that the hugely liberatory Marxist analysis so powerfully explains, explained and captured the roots of the beginning of the path of immeasurable human suffering that empathy, compassion and love, thankfully can be the antidotes for- both personally and collectively.

    If the revolutionary message of Marx could completely solve our culture’s tragic state of wasteland-like, planet destroying existence, then such a political and economic solution as Marx envisioned via the death of capitalism should be pursued with our every waking breath.

    But the death of capitalism and the rise of a benevolent, egalitarian social/economic world can only be a partial solution to our culture’s dilemma in my view.

    What I’ve been calling the patriarchy, that began in earnest thousands of years ago, recently and logically spawned capitalism, just as it also logically built up the institutions of science and it’s offspring and tool for deviance control, the disease model of psychiatry and likewise the obscene modern warfare tool , the atom bomb.

    It sounds strange perhaps to confess that Joseph Conrad’s- “The Heart of Darkness”- is still my go to book for comfort. In it I see confirmed the dark vision that confronted me in my year of madness over 50 years ago.

    Against that backdrop, to me the patriarchy is just a metaphor for the larger human potential tendency to hoard and abuse power 0ver others, and to revel in organized sadism, cruelty and to be hypnotized by the seductive malignant narcissism of mass leaders like Caesar. Hitler, Stalin and even our own amazing Trump.

    The looming evolutionary dead end for our species loosely named patriarchy, really hit it’s stride with the creation of the city state and the creation of agriculture. Until then our hunter gatherer homo sapien brain pans couldn’t come up with the organized people power and hi-tech to eventually blow up the planet.

    That’s why I’m a fan of Dionysus who never strayed inside the city walls except to call folks back into the mountains to wild freedom.

    So, my swan song is just to keep it simple and say I know empathy, compassion and love can heal, can help us night and day.

    There is a heart of darkness and unspeakable horror, there is a heart of light and unimaginable love. That heart is one undivided heart there inside each of us and there inside everyone.

    To readers here I’d write-
    “Try and choose more light today in your heart than darkness, more love in your heart today than cruelty- before it’s too late and your very short life is over. You may need some help doing that from a higher power. I did.”

  • I’m grateful Alex, for you telling us all of your odyssey of transformation and quest for personal freedom- that really is a hero’s journey story as Joseph Campbell describes it.
    That heroic struggle so often begins in the microcosm crucible of our families, that are themselves entities that are formed and exist in the surrounding toxic cultural macrocosm universe we’ve been discussing- where woundings of commission and omission are rampant.
    It emboldens and soothes me to hear your story both for it’s defiance and for it’s soulful good news of freedom claimed by your loving heart now beating so wide open.

  • Thank you very much uprising, for sharing my comment response about the patriarchy that I wish I’d been able to think up and work into the article when I was writing it. But with you and the other wonderful commenters here, together we so often expand on the original blog posts in our conversations in ways that we co-create a living document that is enhanced.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Hi Alex, great to hear from you as usual and to share these pages in conversation as we’ve done for a few years now. I agree with every thing you wisely say above- and believe it’s true about the modern mass media and how we’re programmed by it, and wounded and emotionally manipulated by it.
    But the necessary pre-condition for that modern instrument of oppression to have emerged, was the destructive power of thousands of years of patriarchal myth forms and male ruled culture shaping institutions, that have scorned our human needs for the healing and life renewing intimacies of empathy, compassion and love.
    In the name of glorious war, through the fear and loathing of feminine sexuality via body shaming spiritual purity, and by the hunger to absolutely subjugate or annihilate whole nations, continents and races, the patriarchal aeon has proved itself a human species evolutionary error and dead end.
    I believe we’re in the final death throes of that waning patriarchal mythic aeon- and finding sources now of love, compassion and empathy are like finding hidden springs in a tortured wasteland.
    We’re literally dying of thirst.

  • You say- “Society sees those who can’t function without love as useless eaters, it is an unfortunate truth.” I don’t believe that’s true jackdaniels. It looks to me that our culture is very conflicted over whether we view empathy, compassion and love as prized or not.
    Because empathy, compassion and love are in desperately short supply in our daily lives, doesn’t mean they aren’t also desperately missed and longed for- even secretly so by the most Spartan of rugged individualists.

  • Hi Richard, I agree we need a broad array of political tactics. I also have long agreed with Herbert Marcuse and others, that the “long march through the institutions” that I practiced for almost 30 years has great value in transforming and weakening the oppressive system from the inside out- by being change agent catalysts, Resistance fighters inside the belly of the beast we help prepare the hour of it’s collapse. That long march is not everyone’s calling I know, but serving in the Resistance behind enemy lines has a venerable history.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for your encouragement to write a book like that, BPDTransformation, B.A.. I’ve found the person-centered approach to also be helpful with people of all ages. I think the youngest child I spent time with who was suffering emotionally was 2 1/2 years old, and the oldest senior was in their 80’s. I guess we’re never too young or too old to need to be seen and heard and cared about.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Hi Bruce, thank you again for a very important article. I’m very surprised though, at your huge omission of not listing Peter Breggin as a high profile critic of psychiatry. Since the 1970’s no one has been bolder in their full throated condemnation of the disease model of psychiatry and it’s practices such as ECT and the use of medications. Breggin was smeared by NAMI with psychiatry’s blessing in an attempt to strip him of his license by the Maryland Medical Board for publicly speaking out against the use of medications.
    As a front line dissident therapist and anti-psychiatry political activist working full time in a large urban public mental health system for 28 years, I know first hand and exactly why the Resistance you describe has failed so miserably in the political power struggle with the unholy alliance of Psychiatry, NAMI, Pharma and gutless politicians- and therefore why there are forced in-home treatment laws in almost every state and possibly soon nationally.
    My April 2014 MIA article- “It’s time for a stronger political ground game to compete with NAMI and company on forced treatment” outlines why the Resistance has lost and will keep losing on every political issue, not just on forced treatment- if a city by city and county by county grassroots effort to match what the unholy alliance has perfected isn’t mounted.
    Their political battle plan is simple. Build a relentless, ever present and ruthless political ground game from the bottom up and you can always win locally and nationally.
    So to show what I’m talking about let me ask some pointed questions based on my experience, as I do in the article.
    Bruce, and MIA readers. do you know the names of every mayor and city council person in every city and town in your county? Do you know the name of your County’s CEO, Health services director, mental health director, adult and children’s county mental health chiefs, plus the names of every elected county supervisor in your county? Are you now or have you been a member of an organized coalition of Resistance activists who have met with every person I’ve listed above in the first week they got hired or elected, and on a frequent, regular basis since then to strongly lobby them to oppose the unholy alliance and to adopt and support the vision and agenda of the Resistance?
    If the answer to all the question above isn’t a resounding yes, then please understand why winning the political grass roots contest with the unholy alliance will never happen. Because NAMI, as the designated human face of the unholy alliance, has done and is doing as we speak exactly what I’m sharing above. They face to face lobby every person who may have any possible effect on tilting the political ground in their favor. In every meeting they unfailingly put the person of possible influence on the spot, to get them on record. They almost always either bring or tell about a local NAMI family member who has tragically lost an offspring to suicide and ask- “Are you in support of increasing psychiatric staff in the county system? Are you in favor of the civil commitment laws that provide for court ordered community treatment? Are you aware of what psychiatry has proven?- that mental illness is a medical disease that deserves the same allocation of psychiatric resources as the other medical specialties. And finally, do you know how many registered NAMI voters there are in your city, your county?”
    How do I know what transpires in those NAMI meetings with all the people I’ve t listed above? I met with the all same people. For 20 years I was the leader of a broad based coalition of Eesistance reformers. Many times our group would meet the NAMI contingent in the waiting rooms of politicians or other decision makers. If they were scheduled first, we would go in next and see the looks on the faces of the people who had just been grilled by the NAMI leadership. I personally know some of those politicians and decision makers and they told me the questions NAMI asked them in order to leverage them on the public record.
    One of those guys who’s a friend of mine started out as a city councilman and is now a very powerful California state senator. I remember what he told me when I was working on his campaign for county supervisor- “Jesus Mike, you know I support the progressive work you and the folks in your coalition represent, but I get so much damn pressure from NAMI and Dr. H. the chief of county psychiatry to vote for the changes they want. They even not so subtly threatened me that they’d support who”s running against me if they think my opponent is are more pro-mental health as NAMI sees it. They even told me how many NAMI registered voters there are in my district! Please know I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna be able to work to give you guys much of the consumer run services that you want this year, if I’m gonna win this election!”
    We did get alot of the peer run services and peer specialist civil service jobs we fought for though over the years.
    We tried to match the grassroots political ground game of NAMI and the unholy alliance.

  • Great blog Bob!
    I see Allen that patronizingly thinks you’re- “unbalanced by a lack of clinical and life experience with the constituency whose needs you ignore.” He’s pulling the good old medical professional rank on you there, with a guilt trip attached. How dare you, a journalist, be so unwilling to be mentored by him, a licensed MD, into the “middle way?” At least Allen didn’t publicly call you a “menace to society” as his comrade Dr. Lieberman did.
    As a clinician who has spent my career since 1978 specializing in serving people in all kinds of extreme or psychotic states, I daresay I’ve spent more hours face to face with people with a psychosis diagnoses than Allen has. He’s wrong about you being guilty of causing harm, that you are ignoring the “needs” of people he believes need antipsychotics, by your not publicly embracing his “middle way.” You’d have to partially embrace the disease model to do that, but to do that you’d need to ignore all the evidence you have discovered all these years- all the evidence you’ve shared that really meets a huge unmet need of countless people- the need for the truth.
    I never believed in the disease model. So in the spirit of Open Dialogue, Soteria, I-Ward, Diabasis and many other approaches that don’t pathologize emotional suffering, but instead help people have a full emotional life, antipsychotics are seen for what they are, very powerful drugs that block, numb and suppress emotion. When that happens, all the emotion-fueled so-called symptoms of extreme states slow way down and recede- but those emotions and behaviors aren’t given a chance to be understood, integrated and resolved.
    Allen needs to have a conversion. He needs to put his energy into promoting proven services that help people while avoiding the use of meds. But to do that he’d have to abandon the disease model.
    Stranger things have happened to people who finally see the error of their ways.

  • Thanks for writing Someone Else and for sharing that damning and truthful information about the dangers of medications. I worked at that clinic 9 years ago and while there I frequently shared such information with all the doctors about the risks and dangers of meds and how helping people without meds as I did every day was possible. Then as now, such warnings that I repeated were ignored. They usually responded by saying that they had been trained to believe that brain imaging tests could show that psychosis damages the brain, so they were required to stop such damage with meds.
    Psychiatry has become a morally bankrupt and failed social institution in my opinion because of such gross negligence and the enormous harm done through the wholesale use of harmful meds- now even on toddlers under three years old.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for these great points you make Liz. The fantasy of precision in medicine is that, a fantasy as you show, but it may be a more a compelling fantasy for psychiatrists. They may really long for psychiatry to be a medical specialty that ranks with cardiology in it’s perceived precision and diagnostic sophistication, as Dr. Insel dreams of.
    For 15 years in a public clinic, i shared a wall with a psychiatrist in the next room. He was a nice, friendly man who greeted me every morning. He wanted to help people as the practicing physician he had trained so long and hard to be. He believed in the biological and genetic causes of his patient’s suffering.
    I never referred any of my clients to him for meds. I never referred any of my clients to any of the other psychiatrists in the clinic either. He, like them- knew I was a dissident therapist. Sometimes he and the other docs would refer someone to me for therapy.
    Everyday the doctor in the room next to mine sat in his room with a DSM and a prescription pad and pen. All day long he wrote out prescriptions on the pad. For anxiety he used 2 or 3 drugs. For depression, 2 or 3. For psychosis 2 or 3. Sometimes he would order a blood test.
    That was it. A small room, a DSM, a prescription pad, a pen, 3 to 4 patients an hour.
    There are over 25,000 psychiatrists in the US and a I believe most of them spend their days like he did.
    How wonderful if that changed- if he and the rest could order bio-marker tests soon as Dr. Insel seems to promise is coming for them to do. Then would the psychiatrist in the next room be happier? Would this new era of bio-markers mean he was practicing precision medicine?
    I don’t think so. I think there still will be the small room, the DSM with the new 10 page biotype guide for psychosis, the prescription pad, and a pen. I think that’s the future because any way you cut it, first and foremost, the drugs still will need to be prescribed.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Right on Steve, and religions are based on beliefs that are deeply held personal values, that are really non-negotiable, fundamental, revealed truths. Revealed truths that the religion codifies into dogma.
    Psychiatry does something very similar when they claim their theory and applied practices are based on irrefutable scientific evidence. Like many of us here I’ve debated with many psychiatrists over the years about issues as you raise. like the efficacy of giving stimulants to children. Because of my alternative orientation they say I’m wrong because they have science on their side, much like a fundamentalist saying that about god.
    Even when I hold up research refuting them they say the research itself is compromised because I’m coming from a faulty belief system- because I don’t embrace bi0psychiatry. It’s like someone telling me I’m going to hell if I don’t accept Jesus.
    When I say they also have a belief system it gets very interesting.
    They say no, they don’t!
    Once again science is claimed to be a pure basis for their claiming what to them, has clearly been proven to be true.
    So, my trying to point out that we all operate from our belief systems is seen as proof that I just haven’t received the revealed truth.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Great point oldhead! A great many people sharing here on MIA and on countless other forums are telling everyone that there came a day for them when they realized the disease model explanation wasn’t true or valid for them.
    But that day of insight isn’t counted by the powers that be as a day of personal liberation and celebration- no, it’s counted as a day when the person fell victim to the dreaded symptom, anosognosia. A person stops believing in the disease model and they believe that’s a personal victory- but the exact opposite attribution is often made by powerful caregivers and family members in their life. How crucial it is at that juncture that the person who stopped believing has support from others who also have stopped believing.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Hi Oldhead, I think if eugenics is based on identifying types or groups of people who are somehow publicly shown to be very biologically or physically different from an arbitrary norm because of a heritable trait or condition, then I believe the disease model of human emotional suffering that psychiatry espouses, has always been tainted that way. We know that some diagnosed people are often called schizophrenics- “She’s a schizophrenic.”
    I wrote an article here on MIA called- “Does the psychiatric diagnosis process qualify as a degradation ceremony?” It explored the experience of a total identity re-assignment that happens via diagnosis. Won’t this new biotype system surely result in the common identity assignment parlance being used too, but with a more Orwellian twist- instead of “He’s a schizophrenic.” I imagine it will be-“He’s a type 1 or she’s a type 2.”
    Not- ‘”She has been diagnosed with type 2 psychosis” but- “She is a Type 2.”
    When humans start getting classified by biological types then it’s not a stretch to start ordering or ranking which types have more value and utility in society, and which types are less productive or pose a risk. Especially when even now for people labelled with certain DSM diagnoses of psychosis, we see they are being demonized as dangerous to society and our homeland security, and are believed to need laws to force psych drug treatment in their homes.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thanks Steve, for your comment and for pointing out a research methodology problem of fishing for coincidences and correlations. Yes, is this another breakthrough that will not sustain itself? Again, my concern is that Dr. Insel, who I think is probably a good poker player, risked a lot by betting this biotype diagnostic system can be defended by the powerful alliance of the NIMH, NAMI, psychiatry, pharma and the politicians who do their bidding.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thanks BPDTransformation, B.A., for your powerful comment. I hope you’re right, that activists can challenge this new diagnosis system strongly from now on. I worry that the momentum of the NIMH research agenda that Dr. Insel was the architect for, has so much political and financial support that it will be very hard to slow it down. The fact that Dr. Insel is now proclaiming that agenda is bearing this fruit- a new bio-marker based, biotype diagnostic system, is a huge victory for him and the vision that you and I and so many so strongly oppose.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • My same thoughts too Oldhead! There will no doubt be those efforts to suppress and dismiss this research- especially since it was prompted by Bob’s work. But some of the researchers are epidemiologists from Columbia where Dr. Lieberman is chair of the dept. of psychiatry- how could the study easily be dismissed that was done by his colleagues at Columbia?
    It’s going to be interesting to watch the fallout from the research and Bob’s article here- especially when Torrey and Jaffe and NAMI leaders weigh in.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Congratulations and thank you so much Bob! This landmark research that cannot show the justification for widespread anti-psychotic treatment never would have happened without your sustained efforts going back to 2002 with the release of Mad In America. The researchers come right out and say that your journalism challenged them to do this landmark study.
    I can’t help but smile when I think of how this world class academic study that was prompted by your work, is being digested by your critics like former APA president, Dr. Lieberman- who publicly called you “a menace to society”- and referred to people who challenge psychiatry as- “Idealogues who are spreading scientific anarchy.”
    I’m so grateful to you and Kermit Cole and all the crew at MIA for hanging in there all these years. This is truly a day of vindication and celebration!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Someone Else, for your inspiring and wise comment. I hope many people read it. It bolsters my belief in the need for loving self care and compassionately caring for others too. I’m grateful you were embraced by those inner sources of eternal love you describe that helped you through withdrawal into a deeper healing and knowing.
    Best wishes, and in that fellowship of believing in love,

  • Thanks for your valuable comment Laura- I agree that this new digital psych drug may be just the beginning of a whole generation of chipped drugs across the board. Where profit is the motive, the drug companies have proven to be shameless and ruthless. Abilify was the top selling drug in the US last year with 7.2 billion in sales. It went generic this year- but if this new digital form is approved by the FDA, it will be a huge proprietary money maker for Otsuka and Proteus.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Great points Timothy, thank you. Like me, I’m sure you have known psychiatrists and MD’s who have sadly had breakdowns and those breakdowns were hushed up in high-end treatment programs-
    For addicted/impaired physicians who attend closed AA and NA meetings there is a special degree of anonymity as you point out.
    The health care world is a very class stratified system in itself, and the consumers in the public mental health domain especially, are often afforded very little respect due to their economic status.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for your very moving and valuable comment Julie. The subjective/emotional, inner worlds of staff and providers when compared to those carrying a psychiatric label reflect such complex similarities and differences it seems to me. Providers and staff are trained and regimented, expected to hold certain beliefs while those of us in emotional distress have to find our way to meaning and freedom often on our own.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thanks Stephen- I agree with your comment very much. The irrational that was embraced in Greece and came via Dionysus, is so often infused with intense emotion that I see psychiatry as being tasked to control much of what isn’t logical and reasonable. But at what cost? Now 1 in 4 women in the US have a psychiatric diagnosis and are on medication for example.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for writing The_cat, and for giving examples of how random life losses and traumas can cause a person to go into extreme states. I know someone who was in a car accident where a friend was killed. It was too much for them and they got diagnosed bipolar.
    I don’t think people diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder are immune from experiencing extreme states if they also experience too much trauma.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Hi Alex,
    I hope people read your remarkable comment! Sometimes it seems to me that such potentially very damaging pronouncements like what your professor made about you, can effect us like a kind of curse unless we ward them off and push back as you so wonderfully did.
    I’ve known about your creative work and big contributions for individuals and the greater good for some time. I hope that professor also knows about you and realizes how and why his belief system failed him.
    Best wishes,

  • Hi Sandy,
    I believe we all are fallible and unconscious via cognitive dissonance and in other ways at times our whole lives. In this shame and guilt based culture I think the stakes are higher and the incentive to not let into awareness a mistake is heightened.
    I recently saw a video clip where the legendary Bertam Karon, now in his nineties I believe, said that he confesses to his psychoanalytic students that every time he begins a session with a client, he feels a wave of anxiety and asks himself something like- “Who do I think I am to presume I can help this person in need?”
    I felt relieved hearing that, because I always feel that way too- and yet you and I and so many others step into that room and try to do our best. Sometimes the stakes are very high.
    Thank you for shining your light.

  • Hi Paris, thanks for writing this wonderful article. When I would enter I-Ward everyday for over 3 years, the hair on my neck would stand up because I was walking into a palpable force field of un-medicated madness where up to 20 residents were in extreme states of emotional chaos and creative genius- it was a crucible where the collapsing myth forms of our western civilization were consumed in the fire of visionary and messianic zeal- where wild eyed prophets male and female shouted baleful warnings or paraded in full ecstatic rapture, at times naked bodies full of unbridled sexuality would be running down a hallway, high risks for impulsive self-destruction/suicide and unprovoked violent attacks were ever present.
    Unseen spiritual, archetypal and psychic forces were uncannily at work. They were driving the level of emotional and numinous intensity.
    It was a sacred space where the personal and the cultural norms were blown up and the transformations you describe took place.
    We staff were basically midwives providing food clothing and shelter and love to those in mad convulsions of death and rebirth of old selves and old ways and old belief systems.
    I wish I could have been with you when your eyes were seeing your unfolding vision.
    That mad vision is now bearing it’s edible fruit in this article, your great book and your ongoing work.

    We as a species are in a life and death zone- at a crossroads where the narrow values and barren vision of the past several thousand years of male dominance are either going to be radically altered by the emergence of a new myth form or Gaia will die at our hands.

    But there isn’t enough latuda, zyprexia, lithium or haldol in the world to stop the visionary madness that is erupting, that will provide the emotional rocket fuel and irresistible images and spirit infused words that have always poured forth like mana when an aeon is dying and another is being birthed.
    Love you, Michael

  • Thanks for writing this article Jim. I hope my remarks below are of some value as we all seek to understand the lessons from Soteria Alaska.
    I knew Loren Mosher, and co-led a workshop with him on first episode psychosis based on his experience with Soteria San Jose, and my follow-up research of the Diabasis House first episode med-free program, and my years of serving at the I-ward med-free first episode psychosis program in the early eighties. The whole rationale behind those three bay area programs was to divert the majority of people who first become psychotic from being in the system indefinitely as you say.

    For the past 35 years I’ve specialized in serving people in extreme states as a therapist. I regularly serve people in their late teens and early twenties who are having their first psychotic episode who have had no contact with the mental health system and have not taken any meds- plus I see some who may have been psychotic and placed on meds for the first time in their late teens or early twenties, and want me to help them get off meds and integrate and heal from their life shattering experience.
    So, I disagree with Susan Musante’s assessment that by the time someone is 18 and is becoming psychotic for the first time, they have necessarily been on meds for a number of years. That’s certainly not my experience.
    The developmental glass ceiling of young adulthood that is the stressor that triggers almost all first episodes of psychosis to manifest between around 18 and 25, happens because the young person who is vulnerable from earlier trauma and childhood adversities becomes overwhelmed at college, or on their first job, or in the Army. or from the loss of their first love relationship- and generally is swamped by the huge, sink or swim existential and daunting task of attempting adult autonomy. Jay Haley called these first breaks a leaving home psychosis. They often happen with a rapid, dramatic onset with the young person having no previous contact with mental health services or meds.

    From conversations with Daniel Mackler and other Soteria Alaska staff, I understand that there was a crucial lack of an ironclad MOU with the Alaska mental health administration that insured that every person who is identified at any portal of the system to be in a first break, be admitted at once to Soteria. That is what we had in place for I-ward and it insured our 20 bed residence was almost always full with young people in first episode psychosis. We were open for 8 years and diverted many hundreds of people from being in the system indefinitely. For the story of I-ward, see my MIA article- “Remembering a medication free madness sanctuary.”

    Daniel Mackler even wrote here on MIA about his efforts several years after Soteria opened, to set up ad-hoc connections with individual psychiatrists at psych emergency to send Soteria first breaks.
    I tried to urge Steven Morgan when he was setting up Soteria Vermont to take the necessary political action to get iron clad MOU’s with the state to send Soteria first breaks.
    Without those iron clad MOU’s that in effect force staff psychiatrists by their bosses above them in the organization, to send first breaks from psych emergency and clinics to Soteria, the medical model standard of care that says every second someone is in psychosis, they are undergoing irreversible brain damage, will prevail- and the young person won’t be sent to Soteria.

    The incredible political pressure by NAMI, psychiatry and pharma that forced the closings of Soteria San Jose, Diabasis and I-ward, accounts for the 45,000 acute hospital psych beds being the destination for almost every person who becomes psychotic for the first time.

    If instead, those young people got to go through their process in a loving, med free setting and come out the other side- ‘weller than well” as Karl Menninger said, then a huge percentage of them would not be in the system indefinitely that shortens their lives by 25 years.

  • Thank you for writing this important article Bob.
    I remember a local Northern California chapter NAMI president telling me that NAMI had successfully lobbied the makers of the movie to have Nash’s character say he recovered because of the new antipsychotics- that if the movie producers dared to truthfully show he recovered without meds that they would have blood on their hands- because some people diagnosed with schizophrenia would commit suicide without their meds.
    Nami has successfully used this same fear-mongering strategy to lobby every level of elected politicians to now have forced in-home treatment in 45 states and to push forward the second Murphy attempt to make forced community treatment the law of the land.

  • Hi Sera, thanks for writing this great article on the big tent!
    It reminded me that during the run up to the recent ISPS conference there was a very heated debate on the list serve about Dr. Lieberman having been invited to be a speaker on the plenary panel. Many of us writing opposed his involvement for some of the reasons you mention above. Lieberman had recently called critics of psychiatry- “self serving ideologues who are spreading scientific anarchy.”
    It seemed to me the ISPS leaders who had invited Lieberman and supported him during the debate about him coming, embraced the big tent view that it is valuable to gather people with very opposing positions on psychiatric practices together. We finally were told Lieberman discovered he had a scheduling problem, and couldn’t make it. He has since expressed his contempt for those who dare to disagree with him, by publicly calling Bob Whitaker “a menace to society.”
    There is another dimension to the big tent philosophy that also troubles me. It’s a kind of all embracing, ultimate diversity position that seems more like moral relativism in my view. It surprised me to recently hear it held by some prominent activists. It says that – “All models of understanding emotional distress and extreme states are equal- therefore its not being fair to see the medical model as any less valuable a paradigm than a social/interpersonal or trauma informed model.”
    I raised the evidence of the documented harm done by the medical model, but was told that I still was “not being sophisticated if I singled out the medical model as less valuable.”
    Some aspects of the big tent philosophy seem rather surreal if not Orwellian to me.
    Best wishes,

  • I agree Bob, that individual psychiatrists are motivated to do good. They wanted to become doctors to serve. But as you say, they have been indoctrinated. Even before med school the bio-medical model and the standard of care tied to DSM diagnoses is what they, as members of the general public have been taught is true.
    Once in med school, and then onto psychiatric specialty training, their training takes place in an almost airtight echo chamber.

    Every day for 28 years I worked as a therapist alongside well-meaning psychiatrists on treatment teams at a large public mental health system. Most of them were shocked to hear for the first time that alternative ways of understanding and treating their patient’s suffering even existed. Some took it as good news, some took it as irresponsible, some went as far as Dr. Lieberman and Torrey in denouncing dissident providers like me as dangerous spreaders of false science.

    But I sill keep telling psychiatrists about Soteria, I-ward, Diabasis and Open dialogue. Sometimes it pays off. A chief psychiatrist of a large HMO recently went back after a weekend training I did on alternatives, and shared the message with all of his psychiatrist co-workers.

    Thank you again Bob, and Lisa Cosgrove for your great new book!

  • Thank you Joe, for doing the necessary detective work to expose Lieberman’s and Torrey’s dishonesty. I’m enjoying the idea of them both reading your article, which I’m sure they have by now!
    Please check out my MIA article -“Remembering a medication free madness sanctuary” to see how a loving sanctuary is a better descriptor than asylum for the healing setting you describe. We used no diagnosis, meds or restraints on the 20 bed, open door I-Ward sanctuary I served at for several years.
    You also might enjoy my website- “What is Madness?” at
    Best wishes,

  • I’m very grateful Bob for your continued work to address the damage done by psychiatry, not just to individual lives, but now showing it as a failed medical specialty and monolithic social institution, that has corrupted our very democratic social contract- and even re-defined human nature and human suffering as shot through with incipient pathology.

    But as psychiatry has used science to carry out this betrayal, I have for decades seen science itself as the willing host vehicle that psychiatry has fed off of, and has relied on as psychiatry mutated into the powerful creature it has become.

    Science has been the legitimizing social institution and vehicle for psychiatry even mastering electoral politics- to where now legislation allows forced in home treatment in almost all our states. This hegemony at every turn, has been documented as the operationalizing of the latest science.

    Isn’t the almost sacrosanct historical institution of western science itself the larger “barrel” that psychiatry has grown out of like a hydra?

    With a fundamentalist zeal, our culture believes in a reified empiricism, and has tithed untold billions at the altar of science, fervently building an edifice that makes the centuries of cathedral building in Europe seem puny.

    Let’s dare to look at science itself as a betrayer of the human spirit. How much has Apollo’s victory over Dionysus, Descarte’s victory over Rousseau cost us all?

    The lamentations of the human heart fall on the deaf ears of sterile science and it’s offspring psychiatry.

    Jung said that psychiatry has turned the gods into diseases. He also said if he had lived in the middle ages he would have been burned as a heretic.

    I think part of the solution to rectifying the sins of psychiatry, is exercising some heresy against the soulless science that spawned and sustains it.

  • Thank you Jeremy, for your great comment rebuking Dr. Lieberman about his distorted view of science!
    I’m very glad to see you writing here on MIA, and am moved and heartened by your remarkably open and inspiring first 2 articles. I hope everyone reads them too.

    Since I completed it, I’ve been planning to get my article here into Dr. Lieberman’s hands. Once there, I hope he reads down to your comment- which I imagine would elicit a pang of outrage to see a fellow psychiatrist take him to task. I know he has a special judgement for those fellow MD’s who don’t see things his way and instead stray from psychiatric orthodoxy.
    But you may in fact earn a place on his list of apostates that include beloved friend Peter Breggin.
    Finally, I felt a pang of recognition when you revealed in your MIA article, “On Becoming Critical,” that the main feature of your dark night of the soul was massive fear. That hell of super charged terror was my daily portion during my experience of un-medicated madness almost 50 years ago. I describe that life altering passage in my first blog article here on MIA titled- “Initiatory Madness.”
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you for both of your comments Someone Else. I appreciated your information about anti-psychotics and dopamine in your first comment. I didn’t understand what you meant in the last two paragraphs about the two original educated professions.
    Thank you for expanding on that in your second comment. I was grateful that part of my work as a therapist was to serve children and teens who were victims of sexual abuse, and their families for 20 years. I’m very sorry your child was abused and see your courage to speak out for justice.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Andrew. I think of myself as a self-defined anarchist along the lines you describe. I believe Lieberman misuses the definition of anarchism to create an epithet, that paints critics as dishonest opportunists worthy of being scorned, if not silenced, for not adhering to dogmatic psychiatric orthodoxy.
    If he would have had his way, Dr. Luhrmann’s article never would have appeared in the NY Times.
    Your articles and comments on MIA are great!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thanks Dan!
    I imagine soon after Insel said that bombshell about no bio proof to base a DSM diagnosis on, that Lieberman got furious and as APA president, pressured Insel into their joint memo about the DSM still being the gold standard.
    Bless you Dan- and Leah, Oryx and the team at NEC for all you do- especially the daily battle over the Murphy legislation,
    Best wishes,

  • Thanks Ted! Some people are still wondering how George Bush got elected twice too.
    I think Lieberman was very well known for his beliefs before he ran for APA president and was chosen because the majority of psychiatrists share his prejudices.
    That’s part of the larger rationale for writing this article- and I’m still waiting for a chorus of psychiatrists to distance themselves from Lieberman’s demagoguery.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you Alex. Your moving personal comment makes real, how the enormous failures of empathy that often happen when we are related to as second class beings due to our perceived pathology, are then compounded by actual hostility being turned on us if we dare to speak up- and say we are being mistreated by psychiatry in general or a psychiatrist who we are face to face with.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you Natalie, for sharing this very valuable essay here on MIA! Bringing your cross-cultural field experience and unique perspective as a medical anthropologist, adds an important ingredient to the diverse mix of MIA writers and commenters.

    It’s heartening to hear that some psychiatrists in India that you interviewed, assume recovery for people going through extreme states, given the norm here in the US that psychiatrists assume a lifelong pathological impairment.
    Best wishes, and welcome to MIA!

  • Thank you for your very powerful and valuable sharing here amnesia. I hope many people read it. I remember us talking briefly in Toronto at the Pychosis 2.0 conference. I was struck by your comment here being such a proof of how the psychiatric medical model rules out our human birthright gifts of psychic ability and visionary experience. Thank you again for telling of your harrowing journey with ECT and meds that were harmful.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Laysha for this very powerful article. Weaving your revealing analysis of the multi-layered political forces at work that are destroying almost any confidence in the NIH and NIMH, with your understated pain about what you were subjected to by the “systems,” is both very moving and is a call to renewed activism.

    Thank you too for describing yourself in your bio as having lived experience in the psychiatric, family court, special education and disability systems. It’s a needed reminder of how there is a comprehensive Kafkaesque world that closes around people both young and old to hold them in a net of control, if they deviate from arbitrary social norms. But what kind of a society is at work here, when as you say, from the president on down, we who deviate are subjected to the full weight of a monolithic rejection of who we are in our full humanity for a truncated version defined by so-called experts.

  • Thank you for your comment uprising. I know it is important to honor the personal religious beliefs of everyone. The majority of Americans believe that a hell realm exists as a possible afterlife existence. I’ve seen many people in extreme states and in the emotional suffering of anxiety and depression, struggle with the sense of an innate existential unworthiness, that may result in them going to hell. I think it is valid to have a conversation about the personal and culture shaping beliefs we have that may impact how we view and value ourselves. Some of those beliefs are conveyed to us by social institutions like our religious, political and even science based institutions like psychiatry.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for the great quote from The Birth Of Tragedy- and for reading this essay Laura!

    Nietzche’s hymn to Dionysus and the loosening, liberating power of the instinctual and irrational always has a tonic effect when I read it.

    A couple of days ago I was feeling the need to read The Birth of Tragedy again!

    In The Bacchae, Euripides has King Pentheus threatening to lock the wild and barrier breaking Dionysus in an iron cage. That impulse to stifle freedom, has always seemed the ground plan of psychiatry to me- to imprison and control our rampant emotional expressions via incarceration and med induced subjugation,

    I hope everyone checks out your wonderful website- for your great blog and original writings!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Hi Joanna,
    Thank you for broadening this discussion to include the dimension of how the patriarchal mono myth that surrounds us, that grows out of western culture’s embrace of the Genesis creation story, may effect us psychologically. It reminded me of Joseph Campbell’s provocative statement- “Our story of the Fall in the Garden sees nature as corrupt; and that myth corrupts the whole world for us. Because nature is thought of as corrupt, every spontaneous act is sinful and must not be yielded to. You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to whether your myth presents nature as fallen or whether nature is itself a manifestation of divinity, and the spirit is the revelation of the divinity that is inherent in nature.”
    Many people I’ve seen in therapy over the past 35 years have felt bad about themselves, partially because they believed they carried the stain of original sin, that at their core, they were lacking in inherent goodness and innocence- as they were taught by their parents and religious leaders.

  • Dan, I hope everyone opens your comment to see the great list of very valuable links about diagnosis and about innovative approaches to helping people in emotional distress you have shared with us. Thank you very much.

    Your thought provoking comment about the validity of DSM diagnosis prompted this train of thought for me-
    As far as I know, if my general practitioner prescribes me medication for a health problem like asthma for instance, there is a requirement by my insurance carrier, be it Medicare, or Medicaid or Blue Cross, that the prescription is legally given based on a valid medical diagnosis that my GP can justify because certain diagnostic tests have taken place and are documented in my patient chart. In other words, no valid, documented diagnosis, no prescription, and also if no diagnosis, then no insurance payment to my GP for his time spent prescribing asthma medication for me.

    It has always struck me that so many prescriptions for psych drugs are written by licensed MD’s that are paid for by public healthcare dollars and private insurance carriers, for which nothing resembling a true medical diagnosis has been established. It is surreal in a nightmarish way.

    It speaks to the level of incredible political and corporate power that has been wielded to create the social institution of modern psychiatry. I want to say that what is happening with psychiatric treatment being done for which there is no medical diagnosis or justification is fraud.

    But who is being de-frauded? The government? All the insurance entities both public and private? No, because our elected officials, from the president on down, the FDA, the justice department and all the insurance entities are in on it, they condone it, collude with it and perpetuate it.

    I guess the only people who are victims of medical malpractice and fraud are the American people.
    Best wishes,

  • Hi B, thanks for this powerful comment. Running the gauntlet of professionals committed to finding what is wrong with a person ala the DSM, is a very disorienting process as you say- gaslighting really sums it up. I have an article here on MIA that you might like called – “Is the psychiatric diagnosis process a degradation ceremony?” In it I explore the process of the public and subjective identity shift that happens when a DSM label is applied.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thanks Marlop for your valuable comment and questions. I agree that taking a non-pathologizing approach shouldn’t mean minimizing or papering over the intensity of someone’s emotional distress. In my experience, since I don’t posit a genetic, brain disease causation for emotional distress and extreme states, then those experiences have always proven to make sense to me- I see them happening on a continuum of normality because I believe we all are capable of them given the right conditions.

    When I hear someone’s story about what contributes to their distress or madness, it adds up, makes sense- even people who have made and survived extremely lethal suicide attempts.

    The western medical model for physical problems certainly isn’t perfect, and also relies too much on a one size fits all approach that often ignores the whole person and alternative healing approaches.

    The medicalization of emotional distress has proven to be an incalculable mistake in my opinion. A glaring example of why the psychiatric medical model is so damaging, is just yesterday the center for disease control issued an alert, reporting that an estimated 10,000 toddlers in the United States between the ages of 2-3 have been diagnosed with ADHD and are taking stimulant drugs like Ritalin and Adderall off label as prescribed by their pediatricians.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you travailler-vous, for your thoughtful comment. I agree with your so clearly saying- “it is transparently inappropriate for clinicians to set questions of personal experience, feeling, and value aside in response to their client’s perhaps incapacitating emotional distress.”
    My Army service was stateside driving a field ambulance, and it would have been inappropriate for me as you say, to put my feelings first when caring for someone seriously injured in an emergency medical situation. Those experiences as a young man always made me see that there was a great problem with psychiatry saying that what they were doing was equivalent to what physical medical care does.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you RISN for this important comment. I agree that the mystery of our life on earth and the inter connectedness of all that exists is our birthright to explore- and how truncated the vision of human nature has become, that seeks to reduce our mysterious nature via the medicalization of experience, imagining the depths of our soul journey can fit into a cookbook of so-called psychopathology.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Stuart. I hope everyone reads your article here on MIA called – “Psychiatry as a Mixed Blessing”
    In that article you share that you have practiced emergency medicine where people’s lives hung in the balance, depending on how accurately you could diagnose their condition- and as you say above, a psychiatric diagnosis process can be destructive instead of equally imperative, can add to the emotional distress and demoralization of a person.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you so much Laurie for sharing your truth about what you went through and still are going through. There is a huge barrier of denial about the destructive effects of psychiatric drugs. I suppose if that wall of denial ever collapses, we could see them finally be taken off the market, as the FDA should have done a long time ago.
    Best wishes to you and your children,

  • Thank you Julie, for telling about the harrowing experience your husband went through withdrawing from Abilify after the unfathomable loss of your beloved Anna. That telling adds to the evidence of a great wrong being done to many of us when we are most vulnerable.

    As a society, I don’t think we can measure the scope of the loss of life and the destruction of human possibility brought about by these psychiatric medications. We are in the middle of a great human catastrophe and can’t see yet how much incredible damage is being done.

    This minute, someone with a medical license is prescribing Abilify to a grieving parent, someone is prescribing Abilify for a 4 year old girl who is going through emotional pain for reasons that should be obvious.

    Our culture has a ban on emotional truth that these drugs enforce.

    I do hope our paths cross again in this struggle my friend. We tried to make a worthy project happen that could have tipped the scales. More opportunities to make a difference always will appear.
    I am mourning your loss.
    Sincerely, Michael

  • NewPC, I hope everyone reads your comment that is bringing tears to my eyes as I read it.
    Your loved one was not a diagnosis or a scientific statistic. How far we have come as a culture to where our beloved ones who are lost are tallied as a number in a drug side effect study. And, when their visible suffering is not the occasion for professionals to vow to never give a substance that visibly harms and can even bring about a wrongful death again.
    Thank you for sharing the truth and your grief with us. It hastens the day when these drug caused deaths are stopped once and for all.
    Gratefully, Michael

  • Thank you again Naas, for being the catalyst for this article, and for your very valuable comment that opens up even more important questions about how we can both deal with, and benefit from our experiences during extreme states- whether during med withdrawal or not.
    I’m very glad you weathered your deep journey into the dimensions of trauma and transformation you describe above, my friend.
    I hope everyone will also read your inspiring and powerful, June 2012 in-depth telling of your personal story that you shared here on MIA.
    I believe this article on medication withdrawal has sparked some helpful discussions, here on MIA and on Facebook, thanks to you supporting me posting it.
    With gratitude,

  • B, I remember years ago when it was revealed that NAMI had a team of full time professional political strategists advising them that was salaried by pharma. As I said earlier, the local NAMI members don’t get a cent personally from pharma, but imagine how full time, world class political strategists have worked in every area of designing the NAMI grass roots ground game and national political campaign.
    That political strategy so far is victorious in getting forced treatment laws passed in 45 states, plus the docfix bill Obama recently signed, and that professionally crafted political strategy now threatens to get Murphy’s legislation passed.
    The pharmaceutical industry has carried out the most successful business plan in corporate American history since Henry Ford. Their amazingly successful drug distribution business model must be the envy of the kingpins who head up the illegal
    drug cartels.
    Thanks for the great NAMI links B!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thanks again B and Leah for opening up this thread with good ideas about media resources. I wonder if local progressive stations across the country like KPFA in the bay area, would be more likely to carry our story than the big shows like Democracy Now? Peter Breggin blogs on Huff Post, maybe he could do a piece on the Murphy legislation to counter Jaffe’s propaganda- I will ask Peter about doing it.

  • Great comment Jonathan! Man you nailed it. If it feels that the whole country is in a dazed state of denial about the issues you raised, maybe it’s because one in 4 women are now taking psych drugs and one in five of all of us in the US are taking psych drugs. The illegal drug cartel kingpins must marvel at the successful drug distribution business model that big pharma has perfected.
    Thank you Johnathan for weighing in here and for your great articles on MIA!

  • Thank you AA for your valuable advice and the great link for withdrawal friendly psychiatrists. Altostrata who is the administrator of that site is a very expert resource on drug withdrawal.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Someone Else for this very disturbing report about your experience contacting 24 mental health service organizations seeking help as you describe. All they offered was hospitalization even for a child.
    Your report adds strong evidence that the professional standard of care for adults and children needing to reduce or withdraw from antipsychotics, is really a standard of care that is grossly negligent in my opinion.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you AC400KICK, for your valuable contribution to this discussion. It’s great that you will be off of AOT soon since you don’t want the injectable. I hope that you will find every resource and support you need to realize your goals. I understand there is a strong Icarus Project presence in some parts of New York. Do you know of it? Icarus founder Sascha Dubrul who writes here on MIA is in Brooklyn. They have a great website too.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Dawn for sharing very useful, personal information here that will help readers gain additional knowledge about drug withdrawal. I’m very glad you and your daughter were able to find, and coach providers in crucial ways to get some of your daughters needs met. Doing that as you are showing us, is part of the learning curve we all face too- how to get health plans and prescribers to shift their practices to really bring us the care we need.
    Will Hall’s Harm Reduction Guide and Peter Breggin’s new book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, are great resources for increasing our self-help knowledge.
    Thank you for offering to help Jay Mahler, me and the Bay Area Mandala Project get some doors open on new and vitally needed services! You have my email address- let’s talk soon.
    Your Contra Costa County former co-worker,

  • Hi Rossa,
    I wonder if there isn’t a growing number of psychiatrists who know that some people are going to need more support than they can offer them to withdraw from Abilify and other antipsychotics. I have heard from so many people these days who have unsuccessfully tried withdrawal at home, and now are saying they believe they need a supportive 24/7 residential program to really do it.

    Here in the SF Bay Area, a group of us activists are developing plans and proposals for a Soteria style sanctuary, plus a harm reduction residential place where people can withdraw from meds with all the wellness and holistic supports they may need. We have been well received by the county mental heath administrators and non-profit service providers we may partner with, that we have shared our developing proposals with.

    Your son has built a very good self care regimen as you say, and you are a remarkably supportive and informed parent. Even so, the 24/7 assistance you both may need to walk him through complete withdrawal may be hard to find right now. An in home team of 24/7 support is difficult to maintain.
    Thank you for your valuable comment Rossa. There needs to be allot more attention paid to this problem of withdrawal from antipsychotics and other psych meds, especially given that one in four women in the US are prescribed psych meds, and one in five of the total population, are taking psych meds.

  • Thank you for that very important clarification and update Matthew. The fatalistic response of medical doctors rarely supporting antipsychotic med withdrawal, and as you say, also not supporting opiate withdrawal as an emerging standard of care, does raise questions of expediency and self interest.

    Isn’t the preservation of the medical model paradigm advanced when again, as you say- the body’s chemistry is viewed as something to indefinitely be managed externally via prescribed medications? Don’t physicians who can see several patients an hour for medication management have a vested interest in people continuing on meds, whether suboxone or Abilify? Of course the drug makers and drug stores profit from every prescription that is filled.

  • A very good question Sinead, thank you. I am imagining laws being passed that prohibit forced community treatment in each state that has forced community treatment laws- or those force laws being found unconstitutional. I’m not sure what variety or scope of a law would have prevented Justina from being in the situation she is in, but the outcry about what has happened to her has a similar level of public outrage that was present in Laura’s law being passed in New York.
    Maybe a Justina’s law could be a historic marker of the tide turning in the struggle to stop forced psychiatric treatment in many of it’s forms. This all is happening now against the backdrop of the UN equating forced treatment with torture.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Great quote B! I remember Bertrand Russell was one of the very first prominent people to come out against the Viet Nam war, and was roundly attacked by many. He opened the war crimes tribunal on Viet Nam in 1967 by saying- “We are not judges. We are witnesses. Our task is to make mankind bear witness to these terrible crimes and to unite humanity on the side of justice in Viet Nam.”
    I have seen 4 year old little children so medicated with anti-psychotic drugs that they drool and slur their words and stumble when they walk.
    We are more than witnesses. We are the ones who will fight to stop forced treatment of our innocent children and everyone else
    who isn’t given a choice to say no.

  • Yes AGniYoga, I agree that a huge unmet need is for more and more people to be able to spend time with another person who lovingly listens and cares about their suffering and their needs. It’s pretty simple. Maybe too simple in this age of psychiatry becoming applied neuroscience.
    If I am really terrified, hearing voices, seeing things and haven’t slept for a long time as I was in my madness days, would I really go to a doctor and ask-“Please, may I have some applied neuroscience, please help me, I can’t take this anymore.”
    Where is the love and comfort in applied neuroscience?
    In 1966 my loving, aged grandmother would be sitting in her chair- and when the voices and terror in me would be unbearable I would go sit at her feet as I did as a little boy and ask her- “Grandma, will you put your hand on my head again please?” And she always would put her hand on my head and sometimes say, “I’m sorry you are sick Michael. you must have the flu dear.” But I didn’t have the flu- or schizophrenia or bipolar. I had a broken heart and an almost broken spirit.
    That kind of loving care she saved me with is what I want in my hours of need and what I want to give others in theirs.
    When all is said and done about politics and ways to make it better for people, we know how much pain we here in this discussion have endured and why we want to help it be relieved for others.

  • It’s great what you are doing Russerford! You are bringing a message of hope to counter the usual one of no hope, and helping people who are in real need who are searching for answers. Your presence in NAMI I believe acts as a leaven that helps transform the organization, just like Keris is doing. I wish you would write an op-ed here on MIA to describe your service and activism.
    Thank you for your comment.
    Best wishes,

  • I hear you Nancy. What is happening with Justina has mobilized people to the degree that a Justina’s law should be in the realm of possibility. You are doing great work there.
    We all have the right to choose who we are morally willing to cast our fate with in this struggle, who we will embrace as allies.
    I don’t know enough about some controversial potential allies like the CCHRR or the Liberty counsel to join forces with them today, but I agree that having the broadest coalition possible is what it is going to take to reverse the forced treatment laws.
    Thank you for your important comment.

  • Great questions Richard, and a valuable challenge to those of us who have spent decades in the belly of the beast of public mental health systems competing with the NAMI led alliance I described- and since I am urging people here to do even more of that!
    I remember from the 60’s the debate of peaceful civil disobedience, and electoral politics vs the Malcom X, Stokeley Carmichael, Black Panther call to revolution- “by any means necessary.”
    I recently met with some people discussing how we could be part of the underground railroad that helps people move across legal jurisdictions who are under court ordered in-home treatment. I said- remembering my days as a Viet Nam war protester, “Isn’t it time that a bunch of us activists are filmed getting arrested and handcuffed for helping people get free of forced treatment?”
    Because I agree with you, that a hard core vanguard group can inspire public conscience in a way that the grind of lobbying politicians can’t.
    But don’t we need both to be happening?
    I guess that underground railroad action still would be civil disobedience ala King and many Viet Nam resisters that went to jail for defying the draft.
    The Occupy movement did a more intense version lately as they took over various public and private locations.
    What do you envision needs to happen now Richard, to create the kind of vanguard presence you believe we need? I feel you may have a manifesto and more at your fingertips.
    With respect, Michael

  • Right now, as the Murphy legislation is being considered Marielutz, I would urge everyone to go ahead and contact their elected representatives in congress, and if possible go and be heard in person when your reps are back home in town. If there are activist groups in your community you could check them out. Psychrights is a national organization that you could support, and the National Empowerment Center and Mindfreedom and the Icarus Project are awesome too. My fledgling website has some links. Supporting Mad in America is a great political opportunity too!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • I agree Leah,
    NAMI is not the enemy, but it seems fair to say we are political opponents when it comes to forced treatment given the National NAMI campaign agenda on forced treatment.
    There are many NAMI members waiting for the good news about choice and alternatives that we need to reach out to- like you did at the hearing yesterday. At one point one of our strongest allies here in the bay area was a local NAMI chapter president who supported a Soteria House proposal that Jay Mahler and I and our coalition got funding for. NAMI can be an invaluable political ally when common ground is shared- and we can learn allot from their political ground game playbook.
    Great thanks for your service and Dan, Oryx and all at NEC!

  • I know what you are saying Rossa, can any political movement claim to be grassroots if it is bankrolled by enormous corporate interests? The huge number of local NAMI members I know are selfless political activists that never get a cent from pharma. They tirelessly go to lobby every tier of the political and mental health administrative infrastructure in their towns and counties and states. That has been the genius of their political ground game. I guess I see those local NAMI members as grass roots activists because of them making up the rock solid base of an almost unstoppable political alliance.
    Yes, with that new Supreme court decision even more money will be pumped into our already corrupt political process.
    Thanks for your comment Rossa,

  • This is really good to hear Sharon. That’s wonderful that you built your own sandtray! There is something magical, it seems to me to see how the sand tray work and dreams bring a level of deeper truth into the room- for both the dreamer and sand tray explorer- and for us too, who receive their creations.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you again ColinB897 for your important contributions to this ongoing discussion. Examining the broad social, interpersonal and personally subjective processes involved in how mega social institutions are gradually evolved, and then may be gradually or dramatically transformed, is very valuable as we think about how psychiatry may be effected by a revolutionary process of change.
    Best wishes,

  • Thanks again Seth for your wise and thoughtful contributions to this conversation about the care of our children and the future of psychiatry as a social institution. I’d hoped this article would prompt such a conversation with MIA writers like you and Chrys, and the other commenters. It has been well received on Facebook, with almost 550 “Likes” and over 1060 views here on MIA. I wish it had been featured here on MIA because more parents and people may have benefited from exploring the issues it raises.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Chrys, you certainly are one of the strong advocate parents and mothers I always think of when I imagine a growing force of opposition to children and teens being harmed by psychiatric treatments. Plus you always have the vision of humane alternatives at the ready to provide tangible hope for the future where our young ones can get their needs met!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Seth, I see dissident psychiatrists like Peter Breggin, Dan Fisher, Brad Lewis and others, playing a crucial role in legitimizing an alternative model to the psychiatric model, but as I said, I don’t believe there are or will be enough dissident psychiatrists like them to reform the social institution of psychiatry consisting of almost 25,000 MD’s whose average national income is $177,520- from either the inside or the outside. Not that status and money are the key factors, but that the belief in psychiatry as applied neuroscience is so ingrained from med school on, that it won’t give way to a psycho-social paradigm of care and underlying assumptions about the causation of human emotional suffering being adopted by more than a small fraction of psychiatrists.

    So I have been tuning into where then, will the change agents in sufficient numbers come from. Like with the dissident psychiatrists , I see the advocates and activists like yourself and many of us with lived experience and those who are psychiatric survivors, represented on MIA as another huge force that will be part of an eventual collapse of psychiatry, but that the most powerful sleeping giant that will bring a moral authority of tangible political power will be parents and loved ones of children who will finally say no more.
    A mobilization of parents and loved ones on the scale of NAMI will emerge to get laws like Kendra’s and Laura’s laws passed to outlaw the wholesale drugging of children and minors instead of legalizing forced community treatment like those NAMI co-created laws have done.

    Imagine a Justina’s law.

    In the first line of my article I said that protecting our innocent young ones is a sacred obligation. There is an innate, visceral emotional response of outrage I hear when I tell about the children I know who are drugged into submission. Innocence is numinous. We are hard wired as mammals also to protect our offspring. It is the most powerful instinctual mammalian response.
    I am counting on the archetypal, sacred obligation to protect innocent children that is inherent in our social contract, and our primitive animal protectiveness to stop psychiatry from harming our children.
    Thanks Seth,
    Best wishes,

  • Ted, I see in the public response to Justina that the awareness of a young person being mistreated, prompts the kind of innate strong protective response that I am suggesting could multiply and translate into legal protections, if more and more focused attention is put on the plight of children and teens who are being harmed by psych meds and forced treatment.
    Thanks for your comment Ted!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Yes Chrys, we need to provide truly humane alternatives to medications for children and teens who are in distress. More and more I see parents and family members wanting choice for themselves and their children. A good example is the huge interest in the Mother Bear family recovery organization that Lisbeth Cooper-Riis and Jen Mauer write about here on MIA.
    Thanks again Chrys!

  • Seth, I don’t believe for a second that psychiatry as a social institution will ever be capable of reforming itself. That would be like the brass at the pentagon and the majority of those in the military industrial complex becoming pacifist Quakers. I believe that ultimately parents and the loved ones of children who are being or have been harmed by psychiatric labels and psych meds, will rebel in large enough numbers to create a wave of political opposition that will forcibly restrict the mistreatment of children and teens via legislation. Young activists like the one I imagine speaking out at the end of my article who were diagnosed bipolar as toddlers and put on antipsychotics, will also be a powerful voice that sways the public against the excesses of psychiatry. Many of us here at MIA are advocates for children’s safety too. Thanks for your comment Seth!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • I agree with Duane about the great value of your posts Phillip!

    I hope you will write something here soon about the very recent dramatic news that the Trinity College of Dublin research group claims to have found a gene mutation in blood samples, that increases the likelihood tenfold of developing either so-called schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.

    What struck me as possibly formidable evidence, was the 25,000 person sample size they claim to have used to replicate their original results.

    I imagine some in psychiatry are viewing this research success as finally finding proof of the genetic holy grail, if not the discovery of the map to where it exists.
    Michael Cornwall

  • In May of 2012 I wrote an essay here on MIA called- “The Big Chill: Psychiatric Drugs Are Now on Trial For Murder,”- that told of a recent murder trial verdict where Prozac was ruled by the judge to be the sole cause of a homicide. Peter Breggin’s testimony convinced the court.

    It seemed a very logical next step, that soon judges would start finding prescribers accountable for suicides and homicides.

  • Thank you Juliemadblogger, LisaO, Skyblueslight and Chrys Muirhead for valuably contributing to the discussion here, and for the great links!

    Your account of awful treatment by people at your church Julie, made my heart sink that such fear driven behavior by those who should be compassionate, is happening more and more frequently.

    LisaO I know you will keep speaking out and fighting for women and human rights as you have for decades!

    I hope everyone reads your very powerful new essay on psychiatry and patriarchy Chrys, that you link above.

    Best wishes All, Michael

  • Thank you Donna for your generous words and reminder that we are all lessened as Donne says when one of us is harmed, lost.

    When the tragedy is multiplied so hugely, as a whole segment of the human family is singled out, made a scapegoat, then the outrage and sorrow we feel is often very hard to bear. I’m grateful for you and all of us who join forces here on Madinamerica.

  • Thanks for writing Dorothy,
    I hope there is a gun free world too someday!

    The post 9/11 neo-McCarthyism that is ratcheting up now seems to be asking us and our brothers and sisters-

    “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the potentially dangerous, mental patient second class citizen population?”- Instead of the witch hunt days interrogation question- “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the communist party?”
    Sending love,

  • Thank you Ilya.
    I am so glad you were at Esalen to bring your heartfelt and inspiring vision of what is possible and supportive of people experiencing extreme states. It’s great to be working with you and other activists in the SF bay area as we plan, propose and pursue funding for the alternative services, that I describe in my response to LisaO’s comment above.
    See you at the next Mandala Project planning meeting this Sunday!

  • That is a very important conclusion Matthew- I do agree with you.

    The three of them spent so much time together at Esalen over the years, focusing on how to better serve people in extreme states and evolving their understanding of madness together- but Dick Price never published a book or a journal article.

    John Perry used to tell me about the energy and inspired thinking that took place during some of those large gatherings that Price convened- especially during the 1968 summer-long symposium called- “The Value of Psychotic Experience.” I listed some of the people above who were there. As far as I know, Dick Price and the poet Allen Ginsberg were the only people present who had been through extreme states.

    I thought of that ratio at last month’s gathering where over 25 of us present had been through extreme states.

    Thanks for your great comment Matthew!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you LisaO for your supportive comment!
    There is good news about alternative services to divert young people from the system like Agnews, Esalen, I-Ward, Diabasis and Soteria San Jose used to do – a Soteria in Alaska has been open for some time, and one is opening soon in Vermont, where a Hilltop Recovery Center is already open.
    The Parachute program in NY is also happening, using Open Dialogue to divert young people from the system. An “Inner Fire,” off the grid refuge is also being developed in Vermont.

    I’m involved in a SF Bay Area group called the Mandala Project, made up of 6 people who have attended the recent Esalen gatherings(and others). We have proposals being put forward for funding on a peer led and staffed 12 bed, 24/7 initial extreme state house like Diabasis/Soteria, and a proposal for a peer respite/harm reduction med tapering house too, for people who have been in the system for some time and want to avoid a hospitalization or get off meds in a residential setting. We have a proposal for a mobile outreach team too. There is a 140 million dollar amount of mental health services money in the California budget for new services that we are applying to draw from.
    Thank you again Lisa, for all your activism over many decades, and your invaluable support of me in my vocation dear friend. You are a stalwart comrade in this and other social justice struggles. Your groundbreaking work in Feminism and LGTB rights has touched many lives!
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you again Brother Duane. I’m grateful right now, for you capturing that amazing truth about peace bringers in your recent reflections and sharing it here. I’m told that Price wasn’t bitter about what had been done to him by psychiatry. Like you say, he must have seen the path forward was to not repay injury with hate, but like Mandela, seek to give to others, the love and peace he had been denied.
    I’d seen the Mandela quote you shared below a couple of days ago and it really stayed with me. It says to me what I need to hear and daily remember- real freedom is found in the service of others.

  • Hi Sharon,
    Thank you for your comment and important question. As I understand it, from conversations years ago with my friend John Weir Perry, the Esalen gatherings that he attended while Dick Price was alive that I mentioned, were invited gatherings that Esalen funded. The 2011 weekend workshop that I organized on extreme states, was a regular Esalen workshop where people signed up for and paid their own way. Both the 2012 and 2013 limited capacity gatherings were funded by a private philanthropic source. I am currently seeking funding for a 2014 Esalen gathering on extreme states. If that funding doesn’t happen, I plan to try and organize a conference at Esalen that anyone can sign up for and pay their own way. If that kind of regular Esalen conference happens, I will donate all of my conference leader stipend to be made available to offset the cost of those who pay to attend.
    Best wishes,

  • I agree with you Matthew!

    This is a great contribution to the writing here on MIA, Michael.

    Thank you for sharing this wise and compelling look into Laing’s process of understanding emotional suffering and how to best respond.
    I look forward to your upcoming book on Laing. As far as I am concerned Michael, there is no one teaching us about Laing who has a better knowledge of Laing, both personally and professionally.
    Best wishes,

  • Thank you Olga!
    I believe you are so right- psychiatry will not give up power as it becomes more and more discredited, and is willing to use fear to insure it’s monolithic institutional survival.

    The new head of the APA, Dr. Jeffery Lieberman, was shrilly fear mongering, when he recently painted activists like us in the Scientific American as- “Misguided and misleading ideologues and self-promoters who are spreading scientific anarchy.”

    Best wishes,

  • Thank you again Brother Duane!

    We do know for sure that NAMI has made forced community treatment their top national priority for what- almost 20 years?

    I can’t help but think that months ago, this photo ID card program in northern California, probably caught the attention of NAMI national headquarters, and plans are being drawn up to replicate it across the country.
    In solidarity,

  • Thanks Daniel-
    I wonder now how anyone can not be in a national data base that law enforcement can access, once they have received a psychiatric diagnosis, since gun violence is being portrayed as being almost synonymous with having a psychiatric diagnosis.

    There is enormous political pressure on every level of the mental health system, to be able to prevent more mass shootings via early identification of supposed dangerous, diagnosed people.

    One in four women in America are now on psych meds, and one in five of the total population are on psych meds.

    Every psych med prescription requires a DSM diagnosis, that is logged into the computer data base of the public or private insurance provider in order to document the criteria for reimbursement.

    Moving to Colorado isn’t a way anymore to get out of the data base, that I hope hasn’t already turned into a ‘mental patient’ watch list.
    Best wishes Daniel!

  • Thank you again Copy_cat for bringing revealing NAMI information forward. There could have been no forced community treatment laws without the political action of NAMI.
    NAMI, with pharma and psychiatry’s backing became, and still is, seen by the media and elected officials, as the “human face” of so-called mental illness in the US.

  • Thank you Tina. I agree, having to assure or prove to police, that we are under the control of another arm of social control, the MH system- as a way to not be mistreated or possibly harmed is a very wrong. It feels like a violation of basic human liberty and dignity. Must we bow our heads and say- “I am no threat, I have submitted to the power and dominance of the state.”

  • Thank you for this comment Rossa. I am still amazed that many NAMI parents don’t connect the dots and see that the system itself is often injuring their loved ones. But since NAMI parents have chosen to believe the psychiatric brain disease dogma, it seems they are locked into defending the very medical model practices, that can often trap and hurt their loved ones for a lifetime.

  • I have to admit warmac, that this white card program feels to me like a kind of smiling, friendly fascist social engineering expression, of the broader state sanctioned psychiatric project of deviance control, that says to it’s casualties- “Please understand, we are doing this to you for your own good, and the greater good and safety of society.”
    Thank you for your comment, and Niemoller’s haunting quote.

  • Thank you Faith, for your as usual, very thoughtful sharing. I feel unsettled too, about what this white card program portends. I felt a strange urgency about getting the word out about it. I think that comes from being afraid that the general public will not see anything wrong with it, just as they don’t about forced community treatment.
    Best of wishes,

  • Thank you Alix. I think the more we are able to embrace and honor, integrate and understand, the full range of our universal human emotions, the less likely we may find certain ones of them like rage, erupting in potentially harmful ways.

  • Thanks Ted! Yes, psychiatry has become the emotion policing workforce in our society. Their DSM is really a manual that designates the threshold that our various natural human emotions may be experienced and manifested, before being labeled and treated as pathological.

  • Wonderfully said Alex! At the medication-free extreme states sanctuaries I served at, we counted on the deep emotional releases that people experienced to be transformative, because we received them with loving care.
    I wrote about that here on MIA, in an essay called- “Remembering a Medication-Free Madness Sanctuary.”
    Thanks again, Michael

  • I agree Alex, once we commit to really seeking and prizing the reality of fully experiencing our ever present emotional truths, no matter how painful, then the pay-off of feeling real and free becomes so valuable, that we don’t want to lose it. But we often need allot of loving support when powerful emotions caused by trauma well up in us, the power of those intense emotions can also sometimes be the source of extreme states. Thank you for your wonderfully validating comment about your journey!

  • I love what you shared here Daniel- it is real and honest- like you! We all have gifts for ourselves to enjoy and at times to share with others- yours are bountiful my friend- full of caring and generous.
    Like Dorothy said, your words have staying power, as do your films and all your contacts with people.
    I don’t think there are many days that have gone by, since I met you last year that I don’t smile, remembering you and feeling grateful, knowing you are in the world.
    love, Michael

  • There is liberating power in naming something for what it really is. It is a freeing act of defiance. The psychiatric diagnosis process is a degradation ceremony. Shock treatment is a human rights abuse, waterboarding is torture, etc..

    The functionaries assigned by society to control deviance have an enhanced status. In the case of psychiatry, they have even been entrusted by society to define deviance in their echo-chamber diagnostic manual.

    Whether they personally experience the act of diagnosing/degrading another as elevating them during the diagnostic ritual or not, they serve as deviance police for society and are very well rewarded for doing that.

    But some of us defiantly say no. No more diagnosing/identity robbing, no more taking away our identities with the blessing of society.

    Thank you again Suzanne, Stephen and Seth for your great contributions to this discussion!


  • How much of the untold tens of millions of dollars that big pharma has bankrolled NAMI with for decades, has found it’s way to Torrey? How much has his Treatment Advocacy Center received directly from drug companies?

    Thank you Duane and jw_arndt for your informative comments!

    The drug companies and NAMI have needed a prominent psychiatrist like Torrey to legitimize and defend the identity degradation ceremonies of DSM diagnosing millions of Americans.

    But as the saying goes- “Follow the money!”- Torrey was a guest writer in the Wall Street Journal this year. The laws Torrey fights for guarantee more drug sales. Forced community treatment in scores of states means more drug sale profits.


  • In 1997, Torrey wrote that my good friend Jay Mahler and psychiatric survivors like Jay, were responsible for the deaths of at least 500,000 people who should have received forced treatment, after hearing Jay speak against forced treatment.
    Thank you Suzanne and Seth for commenting about Torrey who, along with his sidekick Jaffe, have been demonizing wonderful people like Jay for decades.
    Mental Health Consumer Concerns was founded by Jay in the 1970’s and is the oldest peer run recovery agency in the country.
    Jay had previously received so much forced shock treatment that he developed total amnesia for his personal identity- did not know his name or have any memory about his life.
    His recovery is heroic, and the Torrey’s of the world will never understand why Jay and you and I feel the way we do about psychiatric diagnosis/identity degradation, and the human rights abuses that are justified as medical treatments.

  • Thank you for your comment Naomi. I don’t count on the often lukewarm leftist political response to the human rights abuses of psychiatry to make much of a difference. But I do see a strong defiant chorus of revolutionary fervor mounting across the country in my travels, and even here on madinamerica, that I believe can force change, and ultimately make the medical model of psychiatry obsolete and shunned.

  • Thank you Duane, for so clearly spelling out the huge health hazard of diabetes, that children are exposed to from anti-psychotic drugs. Injuring children is a special kind of transgression that goes against all that is sacred. I hope I live long enough to see justice done for this blatant human rights violation of our nation’s children.
    Your brother in solidarity, Michael

  • The failure of the forced treatment, meds for all, medical model vision of psychiatry, is there for the world to see, in the daily tragedy of people in extreme states, suffering without food and shelter on the streets of our American communities.

    Yes, thank you JefferyC and up-rising, people without food and shelter who are in extreme states, are the most vulnerable casualties of our dog-eat-dog, social Darwinism culture, where the wealthy top 1% protect the unjust social contract we all live under.

  • Thank you again Anonymous. There is real cowardice in the media to not question the fear mongering, that says those of us who get our human rights violated via forced treatment, must be deprived of our rights for the security of the community.

    The media is looking with a coward’s pandering eye to the president, and the across the political spectrum coalition of voices saying that we pose an imminent threat to the community.

    But we live in this country. How far will this go? Will the forced treatment laws that are the law of the land in over 40 states be beefed up, like the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security encroachments of liberty escalated?

    Very recently a dear friend and activist, was at a large, diverse stakeholder meeting in Sacramento, where a local sheriff reported his department has a watch list of all the people receiving mental health services in his county.

    It gives me chills to think of how that happened, and what may be the future oppression, as government, the media and other pawns of pharma and bio-psychiatry ratchet up the fear.


  • Hi Lisa,
    I wrote a letter of protest to NY Times journalist Pam Belluck about her very biased article on forced treatment. I haven’t heard back.

    I think existing resources like Madinamerica, Mindfreedom and the National Empowerment Center, and other groups, could serve as the much needed, pro-active media watchdog entities you wisely envision. They should be contacted by papers like the NY Times, before articles like Belluck’s are printed to ensure some modicum of journalistic fairness.

    I believe major media outlets have been actively courted by Torrey and other medical model advocates for decades, and that the media are routinely fed biased stories too.

    The same media outlets would be hard pressed to refuse Madinamerica and the other groups I mentioned giving input to articles, if it were found out the extent to which the Treatment Advocacy Center, for instance, has possibly dominated the content of articles such as Belluck’s recent article.

    In answer to your second question about family outreach, please look to the great blogs here by Jennifer Maurer and Lisbeth Riis of Mother Bears, to see how new approaches to hope filled recovery resources for families are now available!

    Thank you for your valuable comment Lisa.

    In solidarity, Michael

  • Hi dear Faith-

    I am very sorry for your loss, and for the impact of his suicide on you.

    The unavoidable questioning of oneself after a suicide- “What could I have done differently,” is agonizing, I know.

    Given the huge gaps in potentially life saving services-like both crisis residential and peer respite houses, etc.- and the seeming choice between going back to the hospital or killing oneself, this man’s suicide seems almost inevitable.

    But it didn’t have to be inevitable.

    I learned the hard way, that for those high risk suicidal people like your friend who recently died that I served as a therapist for almost thirty years, that there was a way to greatly increase their odds of survival.

    But it meant that I take primary responsibility in the caretaker hierarchy for their lives.

    In the public mental health systems where I worked, and that you are part of, the highest suicide risk people in the country are served.

    In such a system, I believe it is the therapist’s responsibility to- “carry the life”.

    In the community settings like yours, where I worked, my therapist comrades and I solemnly vowed to do that- by necessity.

    Because the psychiatrist isn’t involved enough to carry the life, and part of what you are dealing with now, is how peers and the community support model have been set up to feel the weight of carrying the lives, without the means to do it.

    Because if someone was as suicidal as your friend, I would have seen him every single day, given him my home phone number to call any hour day or night, plus I would have teamed up with you, and every other natural support in his life to help him.

    But if I believed that all our efforts still were not going to keep him safe, then I solely would make the decision to get him hospitalized in order to survive one day at a time, on 24/7 suicide watch.

    I would visit him every day and get him out of the hospital as soon as I believed he wasn’t going to kill himself the same day.

    You didn’t have the authority to have him hospitalized if you believed it would save his life, and quite frankly you don’t have the training or experience to make such a fateful judgment call.

    The psychiatrist I assume, saw him every month or so and wasn’t “carrying the life.”

    Many therapists today, if they exist at all in public mental health systems, are forced to do brief therapy, and haven’t had the chance to build a really strong connection with someone who needs to feel trust that the therapist will never have them hospitalized unless it is to save their lives, and then get them out the hour they are safe again.

    You know by my recent blog post here that I am opposed to forced “out-patient” treatment.

    We desperately need alternatives to forced hospitalization that almost always means forced meds.

    We need sanctuaries everywhere like I-Ward, that I describe in my- “Remembering a Medication-Free Madness Sanctuary” MIA blog here- where we used no medications or leather restraints.

    I spent many a night there sitting on suicide watch, a few feet from someone at high risk. If they tried to kill themselves, me and other staff would lovingly hold them and stop them from harming themselves until the storm of emotion passed and they could relax safely.

    We need such places so people can pass through their danger zones alive, and not have their human rights violated by forced medication in the hospital.

    Yesterday I spent time with a grieving mother whose son was lost- a casualty of a system of care that is culpable in his death.

    How many more lives will not be carried to safety?

    Yours in the struggle, Michael

  • Thank you DruggedKid and Anonymous!
    I will write a strong complaint to the NY Times journalist Pam Belluck, who failed to write an article that interviews anyone trapped in involuntary community treatment- and I will write to Belluck’s editor too.

    Parents and relatives are interviewed in the Time’s article, about the “identified patient” in their families, but the person in question isn’t.

    That is a classic NAMI political strategy of claiming that parents and relatives are the real, “human faces” of so-called mental illness.

    There would not be these draconian laws if those of us with lived experience, who are the real human faces effected by forced treatment, were given the basic status of citizen by the press and lawmakers.

    No one says it better than you do Anonymous- That instead, we are classified as less than fully human because of our supposed neuro-genetic defects, so our citizen and human rights don’t even get us a damn question from a journalist about how we feel, about the police strong arming us out of our dwellings to get our monthly Haldol injections.

  • Thank you for your fine comment David- you really summed up why a humane approach to helping people in need is rejected by so many decision makers and care providers.

    It seems like once the basic medical, disease model of psychiatry is believed in, a model that actively labels people as broken and dangerous, and often intervenes with force- then a way of helping that belies that approach, is seen as you say, as being too simplistic.

    A way of helping based on establishing a caring, friendly relationship, and based on refusing to do harm, is derided as being naïve, unprofessional and unscientific.

    Thank you for doing all your good work in Ohio. I know you keep speaking truth to power and that isn’t easy.

    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Rossa for this great comment!

    I hadn’t heard of the Tomatis method, so Googled it and see there is allot of history of it helping people in many ways.

    What you say about your son’s voice dropping deeper when he is feeling less anxious, and that lower tones help a person relax- seems to fit into the notion of a feedback loop where what we hear and what sounds we make in response are very connected.

    When someone is in an extreme state, they are often in a heightened sensory awareness state too. If they hear and see that we are coming from a place of inner calm and compassion, then they can more easily start to feel some relaxation.

    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for your valuable comment Sarah. I hope your daughter is able to be out of the hospital and back in the community soon.

    I’ll try to answer your question about how we can helpfully modulate our voices when with someone in an extreme state.

    In the essay- “Responding To Madness with Loving Receptivity: A Practical Guide”- I was suggesting doing what is called relaxed belly breathing and letting our voices be expressive of the relaxed inner state that conscious deep breathing can provide. Doing that seems to help us stay more open hearted too.

    If we do that, there often is a deepening of our voices as opposed to when we speak with our diaphragms tight, and our voice naturally goes up in octaves.

    It sounds like you naturally have a higher octave voice, even when you are relaxed and breathing deeply.

    You have already explored the value of being relaxed, and know how it may help someone in an extreme state-

    It can contribute to someone calming themselves, if we feel and vocally sound as calm as possible ourselves.

    Please say more, if you wish. about the new alpha wave technology. Is it like bio-feedback?
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Larmac, your tragic loss is beyond comprehension for those of us who are parents or a loved one, of a beloved young person such as your son.

    We all here, are in your debt for bravely sharing how this happened, and how the mental health system was culpable.

    Thank you for your willingness to take on the mission of fighting to see that other beautiful souls like your son are not lost. You helped that cause today by sharing what you have written.

    In solidarity, Michael

  • Thank you Copy_cat,

    I am very sorry you got started down the slippery slope of getting medications that later caused the reactions you describe.

    I like what R.D Laing said about psych drug side effect- something like- “These aren’t the side effects of these drugs, they are the effects!”

    Bob Whittaker has zeroed-in on the tragic results that may happen as effects of medications.

    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you Ted,

    It was great to see you again, and hear you speak at the Occupy APA protest in San Francisco!

    I hope people who don’t know you will read your incredible story and essays here on MIA.

    You are a champion for human rights, and for children who see you as living proof, that life can be so different than what their untrue psychiatric labels tell them about who they are, and what kind of future they can expect.

    Best of wishes, Michael

  • I feel the emotion of sadness hearing how they treated you Anonymous. And angry too.

    The betrayal by people who are supposed to help us, but instead do harm, is the most heartbreaking, anguishing and infuriating kind of violation in my experience.

    We have no choice but to fight against us ever internalizing that state sanctioned devaluation of us, that violation of our sovereign and sacred right to not be harmed, because if don’t, that devaluation will kill our spirits.

    Your voice is one of the most true and eloquent forces here on MIA, Anonymous. I always feel drawn to reading your comments because I know your spirit will not be broken.

    You help us all be stronger, and truer to ourselves.
    Thank You, Michael

  • In his comment above, Bob refers to Marvin Ross, who along with the Treatment Advocacy Center, is furthering the ides that Bob shouldn’t be allowed to speak.

    Ross published a hit piece on Bob in the Huffington post a couple of days ago called, “Journalists Are Not Medical Experts” where he patronizingly says-

    “Whitaker does not seem to have learned that he is a reporter with opinions and that those opinions are listened to by some very vulnerable people.”

    and- “There is a big problem with the idea that a journalist who is not a scientist is capable of providing new ideas for more effective treatment of a disease and that NAMI thinks that it is OK to have him give a presentation. Well in my opinion, he can’t nor should he.”

    Wow- there is a big problem with the “idea” that someone who is not a scientist may have something to say.

    That kind of Orwellian rhetoric is consistent with what the new president of the APA said recently- that critics of psychiatry are- “spreading scientific anarchy.”

    In the chorus of Bob’s detractors that are going to jump on the bandwagon after the NAMI mom claimed Bob has blood on his hands, it is interesting to see this twisted version of Bob’s perceived transgression by Ross.

    Since Bob isn’t a scientist he should be silent.

    Don’t be surprised if there is a Pulitzer Prize somewhere in Bob’s future, and if so, it will largely be because his impeccable, groundbreaking science reporting, was done in the face of opposition by huge powerful interests that tried to silence him.

  • Bob you are in good company.

    My dear friend of 35 years Jay Mahler, who was shocked so bad he lost all memory of who he was for a time, and who founded the oldest consumer/survivor rights agency in the country, was speaking at a public conference in 1996.

    Torrey was there and heard him, and as Jay spoke against involuntary treatment, Torrey estimated that Jay and activists like him were responsible for the death of a half million people who had avoided forced psychiatric treatment. Torrey publicly printed his estimate of deaths.

    A few years after that, I was chairing a public meeting with our guest Dan Fisher, who had flown to California to help us get a Soteria House started, when a NAMI leader said Dan was a Nazi who has the responsibility for encouraging a holocaust of death, because he says people may recover to the point where they don’t need meds.

    You know that NAMI tried to get Loren Mosher fired, and Peter Breggin’s license suspended, for questioning the ubiquitous use and dangers of meds.

    My guess is that Torrey and Jaffe and many NAMI members will now plan some kind of retaliation against you, given that the first publicized attack by a NAMI parent has reached the level of saying you have blood on your hands.

    You aren’t a consumer/survivor/peer or a dissident psychiatrist, but that won’t matter to the people who want to maintain the status quo. Of course that includes pharma and psychiatry as well as demagogues like Torrey, and the thousands of suffering NAMI members who have been duped via the medical model hoax.

    Olga Runciman is right- it is time to watch your back in ways you haven’t needed to until now.

    The powers that be wishfully think that you are vulnerable now because of this NAMI cry that you are a death bringer- but you aren’t more vulnerable.

    You will speak the truth and enough ears will believe you.

    You are in good company- on the high profile list with Loren and Peter and Jay and Dan, and in the good company of a whole lot of anonymous readers and writers here on MIA who are scapegoated everyday for speaking out about the dangers of meds.

    Thank you dear Bob!

  • I loved reading about your synchronicity just now David. Those moments of awe are part of our birthright. We need those special reminders that our deepest longings are not lost in a culture astray in a mechanistic worldview, even though it permeates our daily lives.
    You are not alone brother- you are brave and give us love and wisdom even though from afar. let’s do the Skype magic and shrink the world.
    Thank you, Michael

  • That’s a great observation Steve! Being free of self-condemnation requires feeling self-love, and a self-acceptance that says we are always doing our best. Shame, guilt and the corrosive fear of failure are then not our daily bread.

    The depression that is fueled by self-loathing is like an epidemic in our culture- but your dream emotion when you embraced your shadow self in the healing dream, was not repulsion, but compassion. It is possible to not need Prozac or Xanex.
    Thanks again for your comments,

  • Thank you for your valuable comment Steve, and for sharing your important “shadow’ embracing dream.

    In our culture, where shame, guilt and fear are used so much to motivate us, it can be very liberating to accept and love ourselves with all our imperfections visible to ourselves.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • I’m grateful for your wise questions and comments dear friend Faith!

    Just as we so crucially need someone to receive our extreme states when we are alone, you are so right- we may often need others to hold our dreams as we share them. It is beyond sad that so many mental health caregivers don’t know to welcome the dreams of those they serve.

    But in the medical model world, the inner world is of very little interest-

    And as you say, our culture doesn’t prioritize the needs of those without means.

    As Duane shared with us- it can make a huge difference if our inner world of dreams and our traumatic pain is received with caring by another person..

    Your hope that powerful leaders may be influenced for the better by their night dreams is possible.

    In the late 1990’s a group of us activists met with the conservative politician whose swing vote would decide if a new county general hospital would be built, or if all the underprivileged, indigent and ethnically diverse people we served would be dependent on an upscale, for profit general hospital, that we knew was not going to serve them well.

    The local newspaper had editorialized that the swing vote, Mark, was certainly going to vote along party lines, and that the new public sector county hospital would never be built.

    In our meeting with Mark before the vote was to be taken, I leaned forward across the table from him, and to his and my comrades surprise, solemnly stated-

    “I don’t know why Mark, but it is your karma that your vote will decide the level of suffering or healing, life or death of countless thousands of people for generations to come.”

    He was shocked and visibly taken aback by my personal statement about his karma and the naked truth about the gravity of his life or death vote being so explicit.

    A couple of my comrades sighed and shook their heads as if to say- ‘There goes Cornwall again, going too far!”

    But then to our surprise, Mark blushed and said- “Jesus Mike did you have to put it that way?- because last night I had a dream I have been trying to forget all morning, that I took my young son to the emergency room of the private pay hospital and they ignored us. we needed help and they were rude and ignored us! I guess I don’t have to ask for your interpretation of that dream.”

    I said “No, from the dream, you know what you have to do.”

    Mark surprised many people by voting for building a new public service county hospital.

    He was ostracised by his political party for his vote so strongly that he finally switched and became a democrat.

    Mark is now a very influential state senator, and says that the county hospital vote is the best vote he ever made.

    Whenever he tells of that fateful watershed vote, he tells of the meeting when his karma was laid out in front of him, and remembering a prophetic dream, set the stage for him doing the right thing.

    Maybe old Jung was right- sometimes dreams bring us courage and inspiration that expand the horizons of our individual lives, and work for the greater good.

    Best wishes always Faith,

  • Great to hear from you Duane!

    Thank you for your hope inspiring comment. I’m really glad there was that caring soul who helped you through that dark time of your life. What a blessing when we get what we need when we need it- and what a tragedy when we don’t, or worse- we get mistreated and harmed in our seasons of need.

    Reading your story, I remember now that after my long time of madness, I wandered aimlessly for almost ten years, sometimes homeless and strung out, before I found someone to listen to my story of madness and hear my dreams that haunted me.

    That was John Perry, and for four years, how eagerly I awaited our weekly meetings, carrying a handful of three by five cards covered with my dreams, waiting to share them with him, knowing his gentle presence would help me through my passage of healing. His loving care was what I needed in recovering from the trauma that had injured me so much.

    Thank you again brother Duane- I always feel the gift of your big heart here.

  • Very nice to hear from you Chrys-

    Even though I’ve always been a prolific dreamer and remember almost all of them, which can sometimes be a bit much, I have the experience you describe once in awhile.

    Waking up with no memory of dreams and feeling full of energy and clear headedness as you say, is very valuable too. There is the feeling that much has been accomplished while sleeping that sets the stage for waking action.

    What you say about psychosis/madness being a purposive and valuable process rings true for me. The kind of psychiatry that Jung, Perry and Laing practiced, and Dan Fisher, Peter Breggin and Brad Lewis still do, values the inner life of emotion and imagery that is the ground plan of both dreams and extreme states.

    It seems to me that mainstream psychiatry is afraid of that inner world. It does the wrong thing by forcibly silencing it. Psychiatry commits human rights abuses in the process of silencing our inner worlds of emotion and the imagery and thoughts that arise from our emotional core.

    I wonder what it is like to not want to hear the dreams or experiences of the inner world of someone who comes for help in an extreme state? That sterile but destructive vision of an applied neuro-science bound psychiatry, greatly contribute to our cultural wasteland.

    Thanks again Chrys,
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Hi Dear David,
    Thank you again for a comment that as usual, prompts me to stretch my understanding of madness, and our need for such deep compassion for each other when we feel isolated and estranged in extreme states.
    As years add up, things get simpler for me, it seems.
    The heart is a lonely hunter as the great book title reminds us. It feels like the simple formula of being able to tenderly embrace love for ourselves and others is what we were sent here to live out.
    Dreams are sometimes a way to find that inner repose, and feel ready upoun awakening to understand the need for comradeship and loving connection.
    It is amazing that the living nightmares you mention of war and famine and disease, can’t completely stamp out the light that keeps burning in our dreams at night.

    How about we chat or Skype sometime soon?

    In friendship. Michael

  • Thank you Dorothy for telling us about your beloved friend Lee, and how many years of dreaming about him sustained you, as you talked about him and your loss with a mutual friend. How we need that caring friend to talk with in times of loss.

    After my dear aged grandmother passed, she used to come to me in dreams, but she was young and vibrant and it made me feel good to see her happy and safe.

    I think her loving and comforting presence in my dreams, helped me seek out people with that same quality of caring.

  • Thank you for commenting Jen, and sharing about the wonderful twilight experiences you are having.

    That liminal, threshold state of consciousness is mysterious and as you say, can feel like a portal for exquisite feeling connections with others and our own deep center.

    I refer to the emotional and symbolic richness of that hypnogogic state in my MIA blog essay called- “Emotion…” I describe a technique I came up with that worked for me to hang out there indefinitely.
    Best wishes, Michael

  • Thank you for your comment Dorothy. I feel the same way about the great value of dreams.

    What a contrast to the belief of Nobel Prize winning scientist Francis Crick of the Salk institute and Graeme Mitchison of Cambridge. Their brain research theory claims that REM dream sleep functions to purge the brain of mental activity that might interfere with rational thought and memory. The function of dreams they say is to “unlearn” and purge the brain of unneeded neural connections. They say it may be damaging therefore, to recall one’s dreams because doing so might strengthen neural connections that should be discarded.In their view, according to the NY Times article I am quoting from- “We dream in order to forget.”

    I’m glad you haven’t forgotten your valuable dreams Dorothy- neither have I!

  • Thank you Bob for your strong statement that psychiatry may fail to be worthy to be entrusted with the care of people experiencing psychosis. Any of us who have followed your journalism for many years, knows that this is a huge step for you to make such a bold pronouncement.

    You are a revered and trusted medical science journalist, and your objective assessments about psychiatry have always meant allot to me personally. The positive impact of your books and journalism are beyond measure around the world.

    As someone who did experience psychosis, and who has spent over 30 years serving those in such extreme states in medication-free sanctuary settings and in the community, I must say that in my opinion, psychiatry has already betrayed the trust of those of us with lived experience of psychosis, who needed help from them.

    For me, the evidence of that betrayed trust has been there for decades.

    I saw it in 1978, in the follow-up results of the largest ever in the US randomized, acute psychosis, medication vs placebo double blind study done by the NIMH on acute psychosis. The results were ignored and suppressed by psychiatry, despite the evidence that the young men who got no meds did much better in terms of functioning and had far less re-hospitalizations at follow up years later.

    The results of that California, Agnews state hospital research was finally published in the obscure International Pharmacopsychiatry journal.

    The research article title was- “Are There Schizophrenics for Whom Drugs May be Unnecessary or Contraindicated?” It seems that title from 1978 ironically echoes your 2013 assertion that there is unnecessary and contraindicated use of antipsychotic drugs.

    Another reason I doubt that psychiatry will take the combined evidence of Harrow, Wunderink and Open Dialogue any more seriously than they did the Agnews results, is because of how they responded to John Bola’s powerful research affirming the Soteria projects results a few years ago. John’s cutting edge research was ignored by psychiatry even after the New York Times featured it.

    So, if psychiatry continues to seek it’s identity as applied neuro-science, but in reality clings to a true-believer ideology that science itself refutes, then perhaps your challenging words about trust will be more and more important.

    Should we entrust the care of those in extreme states to the care of psychiatry?
    For me the answer is No.

  • As an Occupy APA protest speaker outside the APA convention tomorrow, I’m going to add 2 sentences to my speech-
    “Mr. President, your legacy of good works has just been tarnished here today by your cheerleading for a group of physicians who blindly inflict human rights abuses on those they have sworn to serve. In supporting the American Psychiatric Association as their keynote speaker here today, you have turned a blind eye to the suffering that psychiatry creates, and have proven that although you may be the most masterful politician of your generation, you have failed miserably to be on the right side of history.
    Dr. Michael Cornwall

  • Dear Dorothy,
    All the wonderful comments above say so much of how I feel about you too. You hold the compassion and fierce passion for liberating all who are oppressed and suffering, in a way that helps us find strength to carry on.
    Thank you again dear comrade.

  • It’s wonderful to hear about this Will- thank you for your courage and willingness to find common ground wherever possible.

    We are on the right side of history in this struggle and opponents can become allies at times, when we welcome them into the circle of common ground. We don’t have to sacrifice our integrity to do that. Sometimes that circle of common ground can feel like sacred ground.
    Bless you for your tireless and inspiring service.

  • Lisbeth and Jennifer,

    This blog message on recovery and beyond is so clear and rings so true. Thank you for this wonderful breath of fresh air, a rare good news message that will be a very valuable touchstone for many!

    I wish Mother Bears Community Action Network had been available during the 30 years I served families every day in a public mental health system, because I would have referred every family that came to me for help, to Mother Bears for vitally needed additional support!

    That support will be most powerfully delivered in the face to face den gatherings that you have created, and that are now starting to meet on a regular basis.

    Because there is such a desperate need for such hope fueled, real time, mutual family member support, I believe it won’t be long until every town and city in the United States and beyond will have regularly scheduled den meetings available.

    There is a new day dawning in the mental health world, as evidenced every day here on Mad in America.

    Lisbeth, I know your vision that has been the source for the creation and the emergence of the Mother Bears Communiuty Acion Network, come straight from your heart that wants to meet the enormous un-met need for families to get the help they need, when they need it!

    You couldn’t have picked a better person than Jennifer Maurer to be the intrepid, ever inspiring Managing Director!

  • Hi Yana,
    It is really wonderful to see you here as a fellow blogger my friend! Your decades of Soteria informed experience shines brightly in the Second Story house.

    When I visited there it felt so right that the all peer staff had created such a receptive, caring and helpful place for people to go be supported, as they to attend to themeselves, as a possible crisis or hospitalization was averted.

    These kinds of peer respite houses should be an integral part of every mental health system in the country.

    Congratulations again on your leadership that made Second Story happen, and daily helps bring the open hearted respite environment to your community for those in need.

  • Hi Daniel-

    I’m very sorry to hear that it sounds like the original San Jose Soteria model of serving people in first episode psychosis, with the stated goal to divert the majority of them from a possible lifetime in the system, was not supported from day one by the mental health administrators in charge of psych emergency in Alaska.

    With out an iron clad policy built into the program design, of every person who comes to psych emergency in first episode psychosis being sent to Soteria at once, the situation you describe was inevitable. The intended first episode residents are not being served as a result of a preventable, initial program design error.

    Three years into the program Daniel, and you are bravely trying to rectify what should have beeen in place from the beginning.

    The I-Ward 20 bed open door, no restraints, medication free first episode sanctuary I worked in for over three years,(see my MIA blog on it here) was contacted by psych emergency within 10 minutes of someone in a first episode psychosis coming or being brought to psych emergency.

    One of us I-ward staff would go to psych emergency and bring the person to our sanctuary at once.

    We were open for 8 years operating that way. From day one, the mental health director in charge of all services and psych emergency made and enforced this policy of direct admission to I-ward of all people in first episode psychosis.

    We kept the integrity of our first episode, med free sanctuary until the day a new mental health director terminated the program.

    I hope you and the dedicated staff at Soteria Alaska can do the political work necessary to obtain the kind of iron clad policy I have described. Without that locked in policy pressure from above bearing down on psych emergency, you will not be able to assure every person in first episode psychosis the chance they deserve.

    I know you all want to do what they were able to do so successfully at Soteria San Jose, I-ward, Diabasis and Open Dialogue in Finland.

    I co-led a conference workshop with Loren Mosher on our common work in medication free sanctuaries. I’m sure he would applaud your efforts Daniel, to make Soteria Alaska a real Soteria house that allows people in first time psychosis to go through their psychosis med free if they choos, and be free of the system because they were.

  • Thank you again David!

    The emotions of awe, ecstacy. bliss, reverence, euphoria, inspiration, serenity, adoration, humor, compassion and love are our birthright. For some of us, to claim them means journeying through the waking dream of madness which can open us to them as well as the exact opposite of every one of them.

    Can we deeply embrace serenity if we haven’t embraced terror?- feel love if we can’t feel hate?

    Does embracing the opposites cancel each other out, or create a midpoint where they co-exist- where we stand on a liminal threshold that we can inhabit moment by moment, no matter where else on earth we may appear to be?

  • Thank you again David!

    In my blog essay here on MIA called- “Our emotions- the sole creators of every word, voice, symbolic image, bodily movement and thought”- I wanted to share how much I believe that our emotions are the primary cause and creators of our second by second subjective worlds- and that we sre in constant intimate reaction to every dimension of that extremely complex and mystery laden matrix that surrounds us- we are immersed in it and move through it always as we live.

  • Thank you for your courageous truth telling Melissa, and welcome as a fellow blogger on MIA! I wish you every good path out of the suffering you have endured.

    Your story remined me of a woman who came to a high end psychiatric hospital I worked at in 1980 to withdraw from Valium. It was awful to see her deterioration as the withdrawal happened.

    A few years later when Xanex and Ativan came on the scene, the head psychiatrist where I worked announced with fanfare that-“Gone are the days of Valium withdrawal which you all have seen to be worse than withdrawing from heroin! These new anti-anxiety drugs are safe for use and have been perfected so that risk of addiction and withdrwal distress are insignificant factors.”

    I didn’t believe him for a second. Did he believe the pharma propoaganda he was mouthing?

    We heard the same kind of untrue claims about the SSRI’s and second generation anti-psychotics- that none of the problems of previous drugs were a concern.

    My point is that there has been and still is, a massive fraudulent campaign at work that is covering up the risks of all pscych drugs. The collusion extends from the university bad science, bogus research done on them, on to the blind eye of the FDA, to the embrace of them by psychiatry, by the sales of them by phamracies and the prescribing of them by every kind doctor with an MD behind their name.

    Someday there will be a full reckoning and the punitive damages will invoilve jail time, not just drug company fines, which have cynically been factored in as a cost of doing business.

    Your writng here will hasten that day. You and your family, and countless other families deserve such justice. Thank you again for making the pain be heard as real.

  • Thank you again Faith.

    I agree that we should be able to ascribe our own meaning to our emotional tuths and life experiences. That is allot easier to do about madness after we have stopped being very actively psychotic.

    My mantra question-

    “If madness isn’t what psychiatry says it is, then what is it?”-

    comes from knowing that if we or our loved ones don’t have a very viable alternative explanation for what is going on with us and a plan too, when we are in madness, when we don’t know who we are, where we are, are a danger to our selves and/or others- or can’t feed or clothe ourselves, then we are at the total mercy of the medical model to define and treat us.

    We will be put on a legal hold, diagnosed and forcibly drugged, based on psychiatry’s power to define and explain what brought us to the hospital in crisis.

    The wonderful somatic teacher Stanley Kelleman, who for decades has helped people find their unique physical based bodily identities, summed up his work this way- “Form yourself or you will be formed by others!”

    My challnege to the consumer/survivor/peer movement for decades, that has largely fallen on deaf ears, has been very similar-

    “Be able to explain what gets us sent to psych emergency or it will be explained for us- be able to define what our own madness is all about- or it will be defined for us in about 3 minutes by any first year psychiatry resident or psychiatric nurse.”

    Alternative programs being developed depend on such alternative explanations being formulated. The fact thet there is only one small med free front end madness sanctuary in the United States, is in large part due to the consumer/survivor/peer movement having not formulated a coherant, alternative explanation for what psychosis really is.

    Without such a competitive, comprehensive understanding and explanation of the causes and needs of those in madness, the medical model meat grinder will continue to be the only game in town when we are in madness.

  • I welcome and am engaged by your words as always Faith. Why is that?

    I believe it is because your emotionally vulnerable and heart wide open messages come from that inner sense of numionous reckoning that you have entered into- It comes from all of you, and seems very much deepened through your experiences of the mystery we are calling madness or psychosis.

    So many people had such a strong response to your recovery story here on MIA. Again, I believe they were effected beccause you speak from that inner place of soul depth reckoning.

    I love the word reckoning because as you say, there is a wholesale engagement in depth of every layer of our existence that can happen through that numinous and soul making process.

    But an individual going through it, or bearing post reckoning gifts to the broader culture is so often misunderstood and even persecuted in our culture.

    That is a commentary on our often heartless and spirit and soul devoid culture, not on those who have visionary and shamanic gifts to bear that are often tragically shunned.

    I’m glad David’s and Anonymous’s comments sparked you to add your catalytic ingredients to the brewing alchemical conversation!

  • Thank you Anonymous. My anger and outrage at what is wrongly done in the name of medicine often reaches the boiling point too. I always look forward to your comments because you are true to your convictions and have great insight into our human need to not be harmed by those we turn to in our hours of greatest need. I hope your retirement is brief if possible. With respect and gratitude, Michael

  • Hi Richard,

    It is great to see you here as a fellow blogger! I welcome your questioning of the disease model from your in the trenches experience, becauae I believe in the end, what will finally discredit that model in the eyes of the public, will not be a mountain of academic research refuting it, but the critical mass of heart felt human stories like Laura Delano’s here- and clear eyed anecdotal wisdom from providers like you who are eye witnesses to what you believe is true and real. When we are willing to speak our truth to power about what we feel in our hearts and guts as you and Laura are doing here, then we will be heard. We stand with the causalties of this dog eat dog, social Darwinism driven, caste system culture- and refuse to have the injustice fueled emotional pain that is happening be papered over by being diagnosed as individual pathology.

  • I agree with you Steven that if caregivers are in their heads, running their experience of being with someone in madness through their theoretical/idealogical “black box” whether that intellectualy ingrained or “downloaded program” be Jungian, Langian, Buddhist or Dialogic, then we miss providing the necessary emotional immediacy and receptiveness of ‘being with’ the persosn and being able to “follow their path.”

    That reminds me that I recently was with a young man who was in a very active madness process. He invited me to walk with him. For 40 minutes I followed where ever he led, one step behind, leaning forward so I could hear his every word as his pent-up non-stop outpouring of metaphorical and emotional truth came out. In those 40 minutes,I never interrupted him once, never asked a question. He has been in the mental health system for several years. I would bet my life savings that that was the first time anyone had not played therapist or expert and just listened without any pre-conceived notions and welcomed whatever he said in open hearted and respectful silence.

  • Huge congratulations to Steven and all who have made this historic Soteria project possible!

    It is so significant as Ted mentions, because it means people will get what they need when they have their first or early madness experience. They will get a heart centered environment where they can go through their often weeks long process without medication. They will be able to come though it and become- “Weller than wel1” as Dr. Menninger of the Menninger clinic famously said.

    Abundant research shows that when that happens, almost 70% of people do not end up in the mental health system afterwards- and it proves that madness is not what bio-psychiatry says it is- a genetically determined brain disorder that inflicts irreparable brain damage every minute someone is mad.

    As the consumer/survivor movement embraces and supports Soteria Vermont’s claim that madness is instead a potentially transformative, purposive, developmental and natural process of growth- as it is now believed to be at Open Dialog Finland, Soteria Alaska, Windhorse- and was at Soteria San Jose, Diabasis, I-Ward, Burch House, Kingsley Hall- then we will have taken a giant step towards seeing that such services are someday available to everyone who needs them.

    Because as it is right now, almost everyone who is in need of such a medication free madness sanctuary for several weeks during their first or early experiences of madness, get the medical model response of a DSM Axis 1 diagnosis of a major psychotic disorder, that comes with a stigmatizing and grim prognosis for the rest of their lives, and are placed on a locked ward with medications and restraints.

    Thank you Steven and all in Vermont for helping turn the tide!

  • Absolutely Ted! We have to show the deceived public that the medical model “brand” will take 25 years off a life, and the human rights abuses like kids on meds, ECT, forced treatment and meds etc.. that are called best practices, are in truth the stuff of nightmare.

    And while doing that, we must at the same time create competing alternatives, a better “brand,” that will act as a magnet to draw folks away from the bio-psychiatry brand, until it withers on the vine- becomes obsolete.

  • Thank you for your important comment Mad in Vermont. The issue of funding good services is a huge problem for some of the reasons you give. There often are strings attached that can be very destructive to the delivery of the most humane and least stigmatizing services
    Yana mentioned in our tv interview here that SAMSHA had cut the budget of it’s own peer run respite pilot project by 55%!

    Finding a stable and reliable funding stream is always very difficult. As I said in the interview, all three of the bay area med free madness sanctuaries got de-funded, as the medical model values were adopted by service delivery administrative and political decision makers.

    You might like to see my blog here called- “Eyewitness to the ruination of a public mental health system- where I recount my 28 years of fighting against and also telling how good and vitally needed services were de-funded and why.

  • You did your valiant, loving best Rossa. Without the needed support and backup, keeping someone at home if they are really mad, is almost impossible.

    In the Bay Area I used to be part of in-home teams put together by the Spiritual Emergnce Network. We would go provide around the clock care in the family home. It often worked to keep someone out of the hospital. If you were able to keep your son for 6 months, then I’d say such a team could probably have made the differnce for you and him staying at home.

    But for many young people that we saw on I-Ward, as I describe in this tv interview- and the same was true at Soteria and Diabasis, who were in their first powerful madness experience- who were really not aware of who they were, or where they were- a 24/7 sanctuary is a must.

    If you haven’t seen it, there is a blog here about my years serving on I-ward called- ‘Remembering a medication free madness sanctuary.’

    We need them in every city.

  • “Friendly Fascism” is a book by sociologist Bertram Gross published in 1980, that many now see as prophetic in it’s anticipatioon of the merging of corporate and government power in ways that disenfranchise, if not bring injury to the public.

    This gradual erosion of the social contract and loss of human and civil rights, was seen to be happening by a process of friendly persuasion, or friendly fascism- not through overt force..

    I think Gross would see the decades long collusion of congress and the presidency and the SEC with the finacial industry that resulted in the recession, as an example of friendly facsism.

    The conservative supreme court ruling that allows unlimited private political contributions might also be an example.

    We could view the monolithic merging of psychiatry, academia and the drug industry- and a compromised FDA, as another example of a very successful friendly persuasion/fascist campaign in as much as it legitimizes some human rights abuses..

    Though certain treatment practices produce injured casualties, this has not produced a public backlash of sufficient power to stop them being done. This is partly because of the aura of respectabilty given to those who provide medical care, and the massive public relations campaign that has made the drug industry the most profitable industry in the country. They are also the number one contributors to political campaigns.

    Such total control over the mental health service industry has been acheived, that every mental health service dollar dispersed by public and private providers and authorized by law as a valid best practice medical intervention, must be documented to be for treatment of a DSM diagnosis.

    So when someone is incarcerated on a psych ward, tied down and injected with drugs, there is no recourse for a human rights violation to even be considered to have taken place.

    This ubitquitous, commonplace, banal example of violence sanctioned by the state with the public’s consent, does qualify as moral darkness of the first order in my opinion.

    That this and other acts such as the drugging of children and forced ECT take place, does not mean the people who are doing it are hate filled, genocidal racist nazis. Because they are not. They are often the pillars of their communities, are most often well meaning people who have devoted their lives to the service of others.

    But the banality of evil can exist and be done in the name of the good, and that is what a friendly form of fascism is all about. It manufactures a cultural normality that is blind to it’s own shadow.

    Psychiatrists like Satel and Torrey who call forced treatment benign paternalism have never been on the malignant end of it..

  • Thank you Leah for this great and revealing report and essay- and welcome to the Mad in America blogger crew!

    The benign paternalism that Satel and others espouse is in fact friendly fascism. Fascism administered with the knowing smile of the true beliver who believe they know best what is needed for those under their control.

    The Orwelliian practice of tying people down on such doctor’s orders in 4 point restraints, and injecting destructive drugs into them, while very well trained staff all the time never raise their voices, is a state sanctioned form of torture as Dan Hazen simply says- “We are people who experienced tourture.” That violence as you name it Leah, is going on in every psychiatric hospital in the United States every hour of the day as you know.

    Some human rights violations are brutal, openly hate filled beatings, torture and killings.

    But the friendly fascism of Satel, Torrey, and every complicit mental health professional, has the agreement of the public to clinically practice professionally delivered, best practice human rights violations- all in the name of the benign paternalism that is encoded in the medical model belief system of bio-psychiatry.

    The moral darkness inherant in the banality of evil is possible because it casts no shadow- due it being practiced in full view at high noon in the town square. It has never been more pervasive- as children now wear the mark of it’s reach in the vacant stares they maintain on the school yard while the drugs do their work.

    Thank you for your tireless work to expose the shadow of banal moral darkness hiding in plain sight.

  • Awesome message Becky! Thank you.

    The FDA and the Justice department, public sector foster care administrators, public sector and private prescibers and pharmacists, are all culpable in the deaths and injury of children and teens who are victims of off label drug treatments.

    Even the huge drug company fines have cynically been factored in as an acceptable cost of making untold billions, as you say.

    It’s not going to stop until people at every stage of the chain of operation start going to jail.

  • Thank you very much ‘researcher’ from Norway- for the very valuable comment and excellent video comment above. I hope everyone watchs it because you so clearly give strong evidence about the effect of how what we believe an experience of madness means, can create such powerful positive or negative results.

    We certainly saw that effect of how madness is viewed effectimg outcomes very powerfully in action, on the med and restraint and diagnosis free open door madness sanctuary I worked at for 3 years, which I describe in one of my blogs here- “Remembering a Medication Free Madness Sanctuary”.

    My Jungian mentor John Weir Perry, was also emphatic that the efficacy results of his Diabasis sanctuary-(which I did my doc research on), should not be understood soley because they didn’t use meds, but more importantly because they also viewed madness as a naturally occuring developmental, purposive, transformative human experience that was not pathological.

    But holding that belief is more than just positive thinking or a CBT or RET cognitive reframing. Ihat belief is rationally/objectively justified, because when people at all phases of a madness experience are allowed to go through it in a safe and heart centered setting, they almost always come out the other side- “weller than well” as Dr. Karl Menniger famously said. There is ample evidence that madness isn’t what bio-psychiatry says it is.

    How tragic then that madness is predominately viewed and subsequently “treated’ in a way that does not fit the facts- and that such a disease based belief system ends up trapping countless people in a life of lowered self realization and limited fulfillment..

  • There is allot of distilled wisdom in what you are saying Duane. I sure love the metaphor of a needed weld being stronger than the original steel!

    Seems like we need such metaphors much more than labels and contaminated words like madness, when we point to the nature of this ancient human/soul/spirit mystery that consumes and can transform us if allowed to do so.
    Thank you again comrade brother

  • Thank you for your comments Lydia. I agree with what you say about the different uses of the word mad. I probably use it to describe my own experience because of my early reading of Laing’s -Sanity, Madness and the Family, and my mentor John Perry’s – The Far Side of Madness.- and because the Greeks talked about the numinous quality of madness. I wish I knew a better way to describe the all consuming experience I went through that I describe in my first blog post here. Calling it an altered state or emotional distress doesnt seem to do it justice. What do you call your experience? I appreciate your sharing.

  • Thank you again Bob for exposing the moral wasteland that too often masquerades as the practice of medicine and science. At what point does bad science no longer qualify to be discussed as science? At what point do we see it as criminal fraud carried out by the same cast of characters who stand behind the recent enormous legal judgements against the drug companies?- the same companies that financially support guys like Gibbons.

    I’d love to see medical journal editors that recklessly legitimize such fraud schemes be identified by the justice departmnet under the RICO statutes as co-conspiratoras- as well as administrators of the tax payer funded university research departments that collude with such research by approving it being done.

    For several years there has been too much evidence that SSRI’s reduce impulse control in some instances of self harm and harm to others. The legendary- “I don’t care” effect of Prozac and other SSRI’s is at play in too many suicides and school shootings by teens who already have marginal impulse control. This well known evidence makes any attempt to remove the black box warninga by Gibbons, a known rep of the drug companies that would profit from it’s removal, part of an organized effort to de-fraud the public in my opinion.
    This kind of fraud endangers young lives everyday. Unfortunately it takes place in the echo chamber of journals and research departmnets that believe their own delusional beliefs about the cause and cures of so-called psychiatric disease.. if you put Gibbons and the psychiatric science guys on a polygraph you would see they are not lying, they believe in what they are doing is true. Is it fraud if zealots believe their own dogmas and go about wreaking havoc for the fervently held belief that it is for the good of others? We used to call that fundamentalism.

  • Thank you brother David. Being present with ourselves is a surrendering as you say- The soul work we all have to endure-or not, takes us deep into liminal territory where the next existential step is always into an empty space that is full of our emerging essence.

    I just saw a fine youtube video clip of my beloved mentor and friend John w. Perry, that just was posted for the first time ever. He talks about visionaries like you undergoing the transformation that is a cycle of death and rebirth- for themeslves and the culture they are embedded in.

  • Thank you again David for the blessing of your visions and open hearted wisdom and kleen eye for detail from writers galore like Tompkins and others. We are writing if not scribbling some kind of new story right here and now too- etching out shapes for an emerging myth- advancing one that the old prophet Lawrence proclaims with gusto- he never having been to psych grad school to be sure! He says- “My belief is in the blood and flesh as being wiser than the intellect!” – damn! that is the point of this whole fumbling blog of mine in one sentence! At least now I know who I can quote to defend my position- thanks to you David!

  • I hope so. Yes David, thank you- it is more than just modern science that has shrunk ‘Mother” and human nature down to a spiritual void and souless wasteland, as Yeats and Elliot both prophetically proclaimed.

    Campbell is right in pointing back to when the notion of a fallen nature came into being as the bedrock myth of our culture. Ever since genesis, nature itself is out of alignment with it’s supposed creator, and especially so are we as the agents of the corruption of nature.

    But we aren’t damaged goods from birth. A new myth form that reveres the earth and the sacred feminine and our un-civilized wild bodies and emotions is raising itelf up over the horizon like a dawning sun, even as we breathe today.

  • Thank you again David. I’m partially responding to how I see, since the ‘age of reason’ began, that thought and rationality and linear thinking have been and are being increasingly reified- as emotion has been and is being increasingly devalued. That seemns to be how modern science and psychiatry prioritize rational thought over irrational emotion.

    That gets operationalized at the cost of stifling the emotional truths that keep trying to escape from the prison of our internalized, restrictive cultural conditioning, and the modern scientific paradigm of human nature, also gets operationalized via the oppressive treatment practices, that come from placing emotional states in the catagories of DSM, bio-medical model pathologies.

    But going beyond that, I’m saying I believe every word and thought, facial and body movement, symbolic image, are spontaneously being birthed second by second, up out of the emotional, affectve, non-verbal- visceral emotional core nature of our primate bodies.

  • David, this is really important and helpful information. I wish I had been able to introduce it all in my blog post. Tompkins and Schore are writers I need to study for sure. Thank you again for this great contribution from your extensive research and hard won personal wisdom. I hope everyone will read your comment above.

    You show that because of our cultural conditioning, our ever present affects/emotions, are very difficult for us to allow ourselves to experience deeply, and express openly- and that in not doing so, we injure ourselves in many ways.

    I believe that is especially true for emotions like anger or uncontrollable grief, sexual desire, spiritual ecstacy, and terror.

    I believe all of our emotional states are our fundamental, moment by moment living truths. So the credo should be- “I feel and express my emotions, therefore I am!” Not our scientific age’s mistaken credo that pathologizes emotion- “I think, therefore I am!”

    To be robbed of our awareness and expression of our emotional truths, is to be robbed of our birthright as free beings.

  • Thank you for your very thoughtful comment Stanley. I must say that as years have passed, I have come to believe the assertions in this provacative blog post about the primacy of emotion. It seems to me that our hearts and glands and chakras are organs of emotion and produce a visceral, gut level intuitive and reliable truth- a form of truth that seems more real to me than that which arises from them in words and mentation. I see those creations of word constructed thoughts as artifacts of the ever present underlying emotion that gives birth to them. I know my Jungian thinking type friends, and people who are very analytical strongly disagree.

    Maybe decades of trying to understand what is the cause of emotional suffering, as I sat with many people who were suffering emotionally in madness and despair, whose whole bodies were shaking with terror or rage or grief, has shifted me out of the mainstream that views the brain and thought as where suffering resides. So, I don’t believe in mental illness as one of my blog states- for me madness and human emotional suffering aren’t what bio-psychiatry and modern science says they are.

  • Dear friend Jen,
    Thank you for your insights and welcome sharing again. Those boundaries you name between madness, insight and transcendence as David Bates also wonderfully points to, are very fluid at times it seems.

    I also have found, as you say, that it is so much harder when we are trying to stay present for a beloved family member who is suffering, or a dear friend. Maybe we know the stakes are so much higher for us because of our abiding love for them and how precious they are to us? We don’t want to let them down- they are part of us, they are our most imtimate heart connections. We can’t as easily don our shaman mantle when we have been in another role of father or husband or son, etc.. Surgeons aren’t allowed to operate on family and loved ones for good reason.

    But being with people in madness or suffering outside our immediate circle brings the same sense of urgency to help and not make a mistake. For me I have to let go and turn that responsibilty over to unseen hands for help and guidance. Prayer and ritual is worth doing every day when other’s lives and futures are at risk- or several times a day sometimes.(-: We are not alone in our efforts.

  • Thank you for your comment YouKidsNever. I’d say that the more we are aware of our constantly shifting underlying emotional states, that we can better understand them and ourselves, and express our emotions in ways that fit our beliefs and values.

    I believe that for a thought to exist, it has already been birthed out of the underlying emotional state that causes us to put words together to give expression to that underlying emotional state.

    For exzmple, if we find ourselves aware of this thought or sentence- “I am really happy today!”- then that thought has arisen out of an emotionsl feeling of happiness that caused those words to form together.

    If we tell ourselves- “I am a bad person.” Then those words or that thought is only possible because of our underlying emotional experience of ourselves in that moment.

  • Thank you again Duane- and for your tireless work to protect our rights.
    I hope everyone supports your efforts.

    Yes, I’d say the constant inner conversation we have as words, images and sentences form up out of the emotional ground of our primarily emotional psyches, happens via the exact same basic process that so-called psychotic voices emerge and express the underlying emotional truth the person is experiencing.

    Our constant inner conversations or- “Normal Self Talk”- can be kindly or mean spirited as can seemingly autonomous voices that psychiatry calls symptomatic of pathology. The only difference as I see it, is that the so-called symptomatic voice often has a stronger emotional charge to it.

    If we make a common mistake like losing our car keys and missing an appointment, we may punish ourselves out of the emotion of shame, by silently calling ourselves stupid. But we can also resolve to not allow ourselves any punitive self talk when we feel shame. We can instead claim the emotions of self forgiveness and self love.

    The same process of healing can occur with a threatening, commanding or accusatory autonomous voice. But it very often requires the presence of a caring other person. As caregivers, we can prime the pump for self love to emerge emotionally, by giving loving respect and a tangible valuing from us, of the person who is having persecutory or other voices arise out of the emotional substrate of self loathing, fear, hatred for others or other powerful emotions..

    Our valuing them and our love for them can cancel out their self or other hate, provide an inner emotional state of safety and self forgiveness to emerge. That new emotional state doesn’t require the presence of the voice or voices that previously expressed the underlying too powerful emotions. Those voices no longer have the autonomous basis for themselves to exist, because the underlying emotions have gradually subsided in the face of being undeniably loved by another.

  • It’s good to hear from you Peter. Im very sorry about the early death of your great friend. We know now that people who aren’t given a medication free sanctuary when they are first mad, and who therefore aren’t able to go through the emotion fueled birthing/renewal process, often end up on emotion sedating medications for life- and that their lives are often shortened by a great many years.

    I’m grateful for the selfless and loving “midwife” care you provide for people in need as you can in Boston. take care Comrade

  • David, thank you for your comment. Do you believe emotions of fear and horror or painful loss may trigger a flight into mania, the mania being an attempt to fly above those emotions? Every person I have known who went into a mania had some kind of emotional state of loss or trauma they seemed to be avoiding temporarily until they crashed into depression. Sometimes it was a job loss or relationship loss, but it also could come from tapping into old emotional trauma via memory or an anniversary reaction or a holiday gathering etc.. That is not to say their mania wasn’t rich with spiritual truths and ecstatic and mystical experiences at times.

  • The experience of hearing voices during madness or during our “normal” constant inner conversation that never stops, shows that we use words to express our underlying emotional state- which is ever shifting.
    We first and foremost are emotional beings, primate mammals that have evolved to have the ability to use speech to express our unbridled, pre-verbal emotions with words in the first 2 years of life. Our thoughts which are made up of speech/words and symbolic visual imagery express our second by second emotional state. Our dream images and dream speech also are expressing our emotional states.

    The emotional states of fear, rage, self hatred and grief will always create inner words, voices and conversation that reflects those underlying emotional ststes. Every other emotion also creates words to express it.

    An interesting experiment to try is to hold an arm up off your bed as you are entering sleep. As you fall asleep you will start to hear inner converstaions and see inagery. Ask yourself- “What emotion is being expressed right now by the words and imagery?” If your arm drops as you fall asleep, it will wake you up and you can again ask yourself, what emotion was present that created the totally spontaneous words and imagery in that hypnogogic state?

    I think this experimaent will show that there always is an emotion present that underlies the creation of every word or voice or image.

    As a therapist, I first and formeost want to welcome whatever emotional truth is trying to express itself through voices, imagery and speech/thought.

    In the medication free madness sanctuaries I served at, that inner procees of freely living the emotional truth that was erupting from deep in the core psyche and somatic body during madness, was seen as the powerful transformative experience that people needed us to support happening.

  • Dan you are right. Thank you for your blog post today. Watching the video of the restrained boy being shocked repeatedly is watching torture happen under medical law as you say. His constitutional rights are being violated. Any child that is shocked is being harmed. It is physical and emotional abuse and those doing it should face criminal charges.

    It is an erroneus argument to say that it is a choice betwwen shocking children and giving them psych drugs. It isn’t necessary to use either to help someone as Mary Ellen Copeland also says. I can testify from many years working as a therapist with young people diagnosed with autism and every other DSM so-called disorder, that loving, and receptive caring is the best way to help them.