Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Essays by a diverse group of writers, in the United States and abroad, engaged in rethinking psychiatry. (The directory of personal stories can be found here, and initiatives here).

Destination, Dignity: Creating the Future We Want

As I look back on the civil rights movement and all that my ancestors marched for, I sometimes feel as if the civil rights movement has been a dream deferred. We have come far but still have a long road ahead. The intersection of civil rights, poverty and the psychiatric survivors movement has played out now for four generations. Now the psychiatric movement faces its biggest hurdle. We are asking our allies, representatives and members of our community to stand up. We urge you not to endorse the Murphy Bill.
Allen Frances

Allen Frances and the Increasing Use of Antidepressants

Much of what Allen Frances says is sensible, but it would be more convincing if he would lay the responsibility for the present state of affairs squarely where it belongs: on psychiatry. I suggest, in all sincerity, that Dr. Frances abandon his attempt to absolve psychiatry from blame, and that he join the anti-psychiatry movement.

Allen Frances and the “Overdiagnosing” of Children

What Dr. Frances calls "massive mislabeling" is not the assignment of psychiatry's spurious labels as such, but rather what he calls the overuse of these labels. This notion of conservative, careful and accurate diagnosis is a common theme in Dr. Frances's writing, but in fact, it's an empty exhortation, because the criteria are inherently vague and ill-defined.

Would You Want Your Therapist to be Honest?

If a therapist is honest about their triggers, they risk equalizing the power imbalance. They risk being on the same plane as their client. If the therapist has triggers too, they may end up being as “bad” as the client’s, and then what? Then who is the healer?

Teens and Psych Drugs

At the end of an hour long discussion with Holyoke High School students in Holyoke, MA, I was grasping quarter page slips of folded paper as it they were sheets of gold. On these slips of paper were questions the students asked me, as well as their answers to my questions, “What can you do to make yourself feel happier as an alternative to psychiatric drugs?” and “How do you get through hard times?” They included love, eating, snuggling, my boyfriend, my girlfriend, green tea, good friends, drawing, playing guitar, a new book, flowers, fluffy things (pandas), writing, music, talking to friends, not isolating myself and sex novels.

Avoidance of Voices Can Be as Problematic as Listening Too Much

In the system of mental health “care” which is dominant today, “hearing voices” is conceptualized as an illness, and so the goal is seen...

Killjoy: The Story of a Misguided ‘Mental Health’ Bot

The bot was created by one Danny Freed, inspired by the suicide of his close friend a few years prior. Danny reportedly balks at calling Joy a ‘bot,’ and refers to it instead as a “mental health journaling service.” Joy operates through Facebook’s system and auto-chats you at least once a day to check in.

The Icarus Project: One Very Good Reason I Sleep Better at Night!

"You are not alone." If you are mad, that is the Icarus Project's bold promise to you. Every time I read it, it moves...

Rethinking Public Safety – The Case for 100% Voluntary

It is time to create an entirely voluntary psychiatric system. International conscience is clear. The singling out of people with psychosocial disabilities is not worthy of a free society. There are better, safer ways to address legitimate public needs.

Chinese Medicine for Emotional Healing

Chinese medicine offers one proven path to emotional balance and harmony for many people who struggle with anxiety or depression. Many people who receive treatment from a licensed acupuncturist experience significant benefit, and don’t need to take psychiatric drugs.

Forced Psychiatric Treatment (and Protection against it) in Germany in 2013

For years, people in Germany who act like they are radical antipsychiatry activists have said that in this country psychiatric violent (forced) treatment has been forbidden. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Recovering Myself

I have known altered states of consciousness since I was a child.  I clearly remember staring into the mirror in my mother’s bathroom and...

My Daughter and Prozac

While our daughter was growing up, my ex-wife treated our daughter’s body like a temple. She was the only kid among her friends not allowed to drink soda or cow’s milk as they might negatively affect her health. But Prozac for mild anxiety? Sure, no problem. I was honestly and genuinely shocked.

May the ‘Force’ NEVER EVER Be With You! The Case for Abolition

A growing body of evidence indicates that forced “treatment” in today’s mental health system, including all forms of forced hospitalization and forced drugging, may actually cause FAR more harm than good. Recent published studies and articles point towards evidence of physical and psychological harm that, in some cases, may contribute to more suicidality and patient deaths, as well as overall worse outcomes in a person’s state of recovery.

Social Justice and the Benzodiazepine Death Camp

Anne Hull and Dana Priest, of the Washington Post, received a Pulitzer prize for breaking the story of the horrid conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where men were “afloat on a river of painkillers and antipsychotic drugs” Each morning, they were expected to rise at dawn for formation, though most of them were snowed under by benzodiazepines, opiates, alcohol – anything that would push Iraq and the pain away. A year later I too would be snowed under and would fight an invisible war of my own. It wasn’t until months later, deep in withdrawal tolerance that I realized my slide into disability was caused by the drugs.

Psychiatry’s Manufactured Consent: Chemical Imbalance Theory and the Antidepressant Explosion

The title of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent derives from presidential advisor Walter Lippmann’s phrase “the manufacture of consent”—a necessity for Lippmann, who believed that the general public is incompetent in discerning what’s truly best for them, and so their opinion must be molded by a benevolent elite who do know what’s best for them. Why has the American public not heard psychiatrists in positions of influence on the mass media debunk the chemical imbalance theory? Big Pharma’s corruption of psychiatry is only part of the explanation. Many psychiatrists, acting in the manner of a benevolent elite, did not alert the general public because they believed that the chemical imbalance theory was a useful fiction to get patients to accept their mental illness and take their medication. In other words, the chemical imbalance theory was an excellent way to manufacture consent.

Vertex Pharmaceutical Executives Cash in on False Hopes

Senior executives at Vertex Pharmaceuticals made millions of dollars each by selling company stock in the days after the Cambridge-based pharmaceutical reported promising clinical...

Independence From the Therapeutic State

Can you imagine a world in which there were no psychiatrists, no psychiatric hospitals, no DSM diagnoses, no psychologists, no psychotherapists, no psychiatric drugs, no psychiatric patients, no counselors, no self-help groups, no life coaches, spiritual advisors, school social workers, employee assistance counsellors, trauma experts, PTSD specialists, child guidance clinics, drug treatment centers, pastoral counselling, university mental health services, outplacement services for terminated employees, burn-out specialists etc., etc., etc.?

Getting Our Anti/Critical Psychiatry Authors Read: A Case for Book Activism

Our success as a movement depends on our ability to sway the general public—and if the mainstream press and media never afford our books their due—not even the blatantly cutting edge ones (and if anything, these are treated worse) and the general public, as a consequence, remains largely unaware of their existence, the likelihood of succeeding in our primary mission(s) is substantially reduced.

Mental Health Homes Open Their Proverbial Doors in New York: A Look into the...

The first of New York State's "mental health homes," which are intended to serve as the bedrock for a reformed public mental health system, are now open. Will this reform deliver improved care for those with "serious and persistent mental illness?"
evidence-based holistic drug treatment

Assessing Outcomes at the Alternative to Meds Center: Survey Results Prove Promising

I am often contacted by organizations seeking help with documenting how their efforts make a statistically significant difference when it comes to their clients’ success. Let’s take a look at some of the essential aspects that must be considered for those seeking documentation of evidence-based treatment.
paying people to take pills

It’s the Economics, Stupid: The Problems With Paying People to Take Pills

A recent article in Psychiatric Services looks at the use of payments to people for taking their psychiatric medications. I was horrified to read it. We need to reevaluate our prescribing practices, and the true risk-benefit ratio for these drugs, before we throw money at people along with pills.

Can Madness Save the World?

Over the years of my explorations into psychosis and human evolution a very interesting irony became increasingly apparent. It is well-known that people who fall into those deeply transformative and chaotic states typically referred to as “psychosis” often feel, at different points throughout their journeys, that they have received a special calling to save the world, or at least the human race. Indeed, this experience played a particularly prominent role in my own extreme states, as well as within those of at least two of my own family members. From a pathological perspective, this is often referred to as a kind of “delusion of grandeur,” though in my own research and writing, I have come to feel that the term “heroic (or messianic) striving” is generally more accurate and helpful.

Soldiers as Guinea Pigs: the Case of Mefloquine and Tafenoquine

Hundreds of Australian veterans have been diagnosed with serious neurological and psychiatric disorders, often mistaken for post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of mefloquine, a neurotoxicant able to cause a “lasting or permanent” brain injury, and the experimental drug tafenoquine[.] Many maintain they were compelled to participate in trials of the drugs.

Thinking about Care with Care

Weak science and exaggerated reports of discovery aren’t the special province of biological psychiatrists. We don’t really understand much about the suffering that brings people into care. We need to study the beliefs that we like as critically we study the ones we don’t.

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