Gina Nikkel, PhD and Gail Hornstein, PhD in Atlanta at the April 5 panel discussion “What can we learn from people who hear voices?”
As President and CEO for The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care (FEMHC) I have to admit that I get to participate in some life changing meetings and meet extraordinary people. This past week was no exception.Read More
About five years ago, as my own blogging life was beginning, I found John M. Nardo’s outstanding blog, www.1boringoldman. His focus was on the poor quality of studies that formed the evidence base of modern psychiatry. In a painstaking way, he dove into study after study and pointed out their flaws. His outrage was apparent but couched in a graceful eloquence.
There was a comment section and I eventually jumped in. I had some communication with him outside of the blog, but mostly our communication was in the comments. At the beginning, I did not know his name or much about him. Over time, he shared a bit of his story.Read More
Dinah Miller and Annette Hanson are two of the three psychiatrists who blog at Shrink Rap. After I started blogging, I began to search out other blogging psychiatrists and I found them. They also have articles published in Clinical Psychiatry News. My impression is that they are decent, well-meaning, and thoughtful psychiatrists (not unlike most of the psychiatrists I know) who want to demystify our profession. Their writing is clear, straightforward, and accessible. Like me, they are all practicing psychiatrists and they deal with the pragmatic challenges we face in our daily work. They offer critical views but they overall seem proud of their profession and their careers. While I respect their work, in that area we seem to differ; they do not seem to be burdened by the professional existential angst that besets me.
On one topic we agree — the subject of involuntary care is the most vexing, contentious, and troubling topic for psychiatry. To their great credit, they have directed an enormous amount of attention and effort to this subject in their latest book, Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care.Read More
My Own Experience Learning about Recovery
From early in 1990 until 2002 I served as Deputy Chief Medical Officer (=Deputy Medical Director) of the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYS-OMH). From 2002 until the end of 2004 I served as Chief Medical Officer (Acting) for NYS-OMH.
During those 15 years I was invited to consult on hospitalized patients throughout our system. That was a learning experience for me, because it taught me about the limits of what hospital treatment could accomplish. Gradually, I came to see that those limits included the remediation or at least suppression of symptoms but not recovery itself.
As the patients told me, recovery could only flourish where they had the autonomy to pursue their own goals, that is, when living independently in their home communities. I began to encourage my psychiatric colleagues to consider discharge earlier, even if some symptoms remained, so that recovery could begin. When they countered that some symptoms persisted, I had little further to offer, because I did not know, myself, whether greater autonomy would lead to recovery, never having participated in settings where that process could unfold.
So, to find out, within a few months of retiring from NYS-OMH I took a position as team psychiatrist for a not-for-profit organization that provided standard apartment housing and ACT (assertive community treatment=outreach + engagement) services.Read More
Thanks to 130 screening partners in eight different countries across the world, the HEALING VOICES One Night One Voice grassroots global release was a tremendous success. Most importantly, this event has educated and energized folks to be the change they want to see so that healing is possible for everyone. We need to capitalize on this energy and keep up the momentum!
We are inviting you to host a screening for July as a part of Mad Pride Month. You can help people around the world celebrate our “mad diversity” by organizing a town hall style screening in your community!
Also, you are encouraged to either sell tickets and/or ask for donations to make this a fundraiser for your organization. If you are interested, please contact me directly at email@example.com. We need to act fast as July is just around the corner!Read More
Inner Fire, Inc. is a proactive healing community, offering striving individuals the choice to recover from debilitating and traumatic life experiences, (which often lead to addiction and mental health challenges), without the use of psychotropic medications. We opened our doors in Brookline, near Brattleboro in southern Vermont, on September 8th, 2015, welcoming six seekers to our yearlong intentional, therapeutic and farm based day program. Once the Inner Fire Home has been built, our intention is to become a therapeutic residential community.
Seven months later, all but one of the seekers who arrived on psychotropic medications have tapered safely off, having balanced the sometimes incredibly difficult withdrawal process with the empowering, proactive therapies and the practical work. A seeker, proven innocent after twenty-six years in prison, has withdrawn from a crack cocaine habit he developed while homeless during the first years after incarceration.
Another seeker will soon be off a very powerful benzodiazepine. “Hell warmed up” is the expression used describing the withdrawal process from this benzodiazepine; however, it has been everyone’s experience that by staying engaged in the program, surrounded by encouraging and loving people who believe in them as a creator and not a victim, that the withdrawal symptoms have not been as debilitating as expected.Read More
Once again this year, I was fortunate to attend the annual Saks Institute symposium held at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. The topic, fittingly enough in L.A., was mental illness in the movies. Several filmmakers were in attendance, as were a variety of others–some academics, some attorneys, some mental health professionals, and a variety of others, including family members and some NAMI advocates. My observations in this blog are made with the belief that those who participated in the symposium were some of the “best and the brightest” and in no way do I mean to be critical of their aspirations or devotion to the cause of helping move us beyond stigma and discrimination.Read More
Letters from Generation Rx is the second documentary from international award-winning filmmaker Kevin P. Miller about the challenges of treating mental health symptoms with psychotropic drugs. The film includes interviews with Robert Whitaker, Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, Dr. David Healy, and others whose work has defined decades worth of resistance to the blind assertion that psychiatric drugs cure mental illnesses. Aside from the aforementioned, however, this film also provides revealing insights from the “leaders” of the medical community, including a first-ever interview with Thomas Insel, MD of the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and officials at the FDA.Read More
I was recently asked to write an article for SAMHSA’s Recovery to Practice newsletter. This is a slightly edited version of that post.
Let me be clear: I was never anti-recovery. I will admit, however, that when the recovery movement first came to my attention in the 1990s, I was not drawn in. Whenever I attended a presentation on the topic, rather than being able to listen openly to the speaker, I felt defensive. At the time, I was working in a state that was pushing hard to close its state psychiatric hospital. While the mantra was of recovery, it seemed to be promoted by fiat. Since people were expected to recover, therefore, we did not need a state hospital.Read More
The roll-out for Mad in America Continuing Education courses is moving into its next phase–improved formatting of courses and a more aggressive marketing of what we believe are unique CME and CEU resources for professionals and advocates alike.Read More