The Lucas James Finnegan Fund

The Lucas James Finnegan Fund has been created by Louisa Putnam, in memory of her son. She writes:


Lucas James Finnegan was born June 1st 1980. He had whispered to me while in the womb, “Call me Luke.” I had had a vision in which I saw rainbow lights coming out of his fingers and palms, toes and soles. I made meaning of that, thathe was, perhaps, a healer. I had also “seen” a being at the foot of the bed shaped like a rhombus,” when he was a baby. I thought maybe this was the form of a being who watched over his incarnation. I heard voices and saw visions, and he continued to. Hearing what I was thinking and finishing sentences, sensing feelings around him and thinking often that they were his, seeing inter-dimensionally, having big dreams . . .  he was just born this way. He fought to fit into the social order, to be “normal.” Playing piano, chess competitions, fierce soccer matches, writing poetry, listening to music gave him succor. He was unusual.

Lucas James Finnegan, age 17

In tenth grade, he got the prize for scholarship, was president of his class and top student academically in his class. He chose to make a change, challenge himself and go to United World College, where students selected from countries around the world came to do the IB baccalaureate. He wrote his senior paper on the Mozart Effect and studied the Fourier decomposition, the intersection of music, physics and mathematics.

Then the crash, a drug trip in Amsterdam that sent him out of his body and into what he reported was a near death experience, in which he was being guided around the universe by two light beings. He reported being given a choice to stay in that dimension or come back to earth. He said that he “looked back at us” and chose to come back to help.

Thirteen years of, for the most part, hell followed. During his second psychosis, a kind Santa Fe psychiatrist held up a pill of Zyprexa and told his father and me that this “medicine” was safer than aspirin and “like insulin for diabetes.” I disagreed. His dad thought the doctor knew best. A battle over drugging ensued. He and we were told repeatedly that Luke had an “incurable, progressive brain disease” and to start mourning the life he would never have. He died while “meds compliant” for most of those thirteen years, on 8 psychiatric drugs. He took his life while in a “treatment place,” finding no way into a livable future.

I have written about some of our journey in a short article, called “A License to be Crazy” in The Journal of Humanistic Psychology. For four years I worked on an auto ethnographic dissertation under the wings of the Taos Institute, about our intergenerational family journey into madness. I set it down when my partner, Kermit Cole and I and I took up a training program in Open Dialogue in Finland. Now weekly, through Mad in America, we listen to parents with children or family members in the psychiatric system or traumatized further by being diagnosed and set on psychiatric drugs. We seek to create safe space for dialogue and sharing support and resources. We support families in mental health crises, hoping to offer an alternative to the biomedical model’s response to Luke’s unusualness.

From one of his poems, “Coming from the place of heart”:

When will the age dawn

of time immemorial?

I don’t know what that means!

It means: time out of mind.

(Which is perfectly simple.)

I am a lost soul in the dazzling scene.

Or was.

Until I chose to come from the place of heart

as the always conscious consciousness

as a star in the one mind.



Mad in American Foundation was established as a 501(c)3 as a tax-exempt organization in 2015. If you wish to contribute to the Lucas James Finnegan Fund,  please do so here.