I just created a music video for a song I wrote — The Seeker’s Ballad. It calms my soul — and maybe yours too?
For those interested, I just put up a new essay on the blog “Mad in America”, titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?“. It was a risk for me to place this essay there, because some of the essay’s ideas, such as a good therapist wouldn’t have children and wouldn’t preach forgiveness of parents, are not in synch with conventional thinking. I assumed these ideas would meet with backlash from more conventional readers, and from the comments of the first few hours, this has proven to be the case. I am finding responding to be an interesting experience. It gets me thinking – and offers me a chance to engage in dialogue.
I am full of fear about my new life. I am planning, with my friend Fred Timm, to start a not-for-profit organization called Conscious Community — a hub, online and also in-person, for people interested in and dedicated to becoming more conscious. This is the first time I have spoken publicly about this group. We have been working hard on formulating its principles for some time and it’s almost ready to go. I don’t want to say much more about it right now, beyond that its ideas are in synch with the values I have been espousing for the last ten or so years.
In framing this essay, I’d like to ask myself some questions about my fear. Sometimes I find interviewing myself to be quite helpful. So here goes. Continue reading
Child mortality has been dropping around the word for decades, but what about the mortality rate of the inner child? From what I have observed, the inner child of most people, even in developed countries, gets stuck in a state of suspended animation forever, such that most people die inwardly before they even become adults. Their emotional traumas overcome them and snuff out their spirit. Their family systems convert their minds into deadness. They lose their creativity and wildness, they block out the emotional reality of their childhoods, and they become automatons. They survive in order to live for comfort, happiness, and emotional camouflage. They become the norm. Continue reading
When people cry for emotional reasons, I have observed that it generally falls into one of two categories. The first is grief-crying, and here are my observations about it:
- Although often painful, it brings a sense of relief and hopefulness afterward.
- It makes people’s faces look younger, healthier, and more free—and sometimes unrecognizably different from their regular faces.
- It brings out inner beauty, and has lasting effects.
- Its intensity can wreak temporary havoc on the immune system, though ultimately it is good for the health. Continue reading
2) Feel passion as I dive in and create first draft
3) Feel shame that draft is not good enough
4) Feel nothing as I self-protectively dissociate and forget about draft Continue reading
For all interested in Open Dialogue (the subject of my third film): A few days ago I posted an essay on the well-read blog Mad In America, all about my thoughts over the last five years on the Finnish Program “Open Dialogue.” The comments after the essay are worth reading too — some really good ones. Meanwhile, in the essay I am fairly critical of the people who are helping to spread Open Dialogue around the world, mostly because they’re not taking a strong enough stand on some of the basic issues that made Finnish Open Dialogue an evidence-based success, namely, focusing work on people in a first-episode psychosis and working with minimal or no meds. Perhaps not surprisingly, none of those folks commented on the essay — though, considering the prominence of the blog Mad In America, it’s pretty likely that most of them (or all of them?) read my piece. But that, sadly, is the nature of the mental health field: discussion and dialogue are great in theory, but questionable in practical reality……
Here’s a link to the piece:
Meanwhile, greetings all — and I plan to be posting a lot more here soon!!
I wrote this little essay half my life ago, back in 1993 when I was 21 years old. I was then on the very beginning of my adult path, which I was manifesting by hitchhiking around the perimeter of Australia, starting and ending in Melbourne, where I’d been living as an exchange student in biology. I wrote this essay one early morning in my tent in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, having hitched there from Western Australia. I’d already made it more than halfway around the continent. Meanwhile, my parents had just split up not a few weeks before, and I found this out via telephone. I knew that when I returned home to New York nothing in my life would ever be the same, myself included. I knew that if I were to survive and thrive that I would have to look deep inside myself and know who I was, what I stood for, and where I was going. And so I wrote, channeling the truth that was pouring out of me. This gem, as I see it in hindsight, was one of my first clear expressions of that. Continue reading
Dear humans of the year 2100,
By the time you read this I will be long dead, probably forty or fifty years already. The things about which I write are obvious to you. To you it is obvious that we, your progenitors, failed. We failed to make the changes necessary to allow our species to live sustainably on this planet. We failed to use the technology at our disposal to live cleanly on Earth. We failed to use farming and waste disposal methods that did not poison the land and water and air. In our quest for lives of comfort we used our planet, and psychologically our children, as a sewer. Continue reading
Based on my experience both as a therapist and client in the mental health field, I have learned that when therapists or psychiatrists give you the following diagnoses all too often here is what they really mean:
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Your obsessive nature is thwarting my compulsion to reorganize your life.
Paranoid Personality Disorder: The way I perceive you staring at me when I ask you extremely personal questions about the most painful experiences in your life really makes me uncomfortable. Continue reading
Twenty years ago this month I graduated from Swarthmore College with a liberal arts degree in biology. I’d been well-trained to do everything and nothing: everything because four years of Swarthmore convinced me that I could learn most anything successfully, and nothing because past that I really hadn’t learned much of practical value. After leaving Swarthmore I entered the world with high confidence and major insecurity. I had some wonderful and very rough years ahead. Had Swarthmore prepared me for a balanced life as it so roundly promised or had it failed me? Reflecting on those formative years of two decades back, I wish to study my college experience, in good Swarthmore fashion, logically. Continue reading
When I was a child, there was a pond I loved. It lay a fifteen minute hike from the apartment complex where my family lived, over a hill and through some woods. It was in the middle of a meadow, fed by a natural stream. In it were tadpoles, a few species of frogs, crayfish, eastern painted turtles and snapping turtles, sunfish and catfish, perch and minnows, dragonfly larvae and salamanders, clams and snails, watercress, algae of several different varieties, and waterlilies. Butterflies of multiple species flitted around its shores, drinking water from the mud and nectar from the flowers nearby. Continue reading
I have recently been enjoying good conversation with some friends who describe themselves as “anarchists” and “voluntaryists.” Although I am new to exploring the meaning of these labels, my friends have explained them to me by returning to certain philosophical cornerstones: the non-aggression principle, respect for boundaries, and the avoidance of the use of force. From what I have gathered, a summation of their point of view, be it political or economic or simply interpersonal, is that all human interchange and interaction should be voluntary: that is, that no one should be forced to do anything by anyone or should practice force on others. Perhaps one could restate it by saying that no one should be aggressive toward others or cross others’ boundaries. This, they explain—assuming I have understood it correctly—is the basis of morality. Continue reading
I’ve been on a roll — just made another mini-film, again starring Fred Timm. It’s on the subject of psychotherapy, healing childhood trauma, and clearing out the old to make way for the new. Enjoy!!
I’ve been thinking for a while about branching out with my filmmaking and making films not just on recovery from psychosis or changing the mental health system. So, I finally did it! I made my first new film, a short film, called TRUTHTELLER. The subject is my friend and colleague Fred Timm, a visionary in New York City who has very clear ideas on what’s going wrong with our species, what the consequences of this will be, and what we need to do to fix it. Continue reading
I just made a new film, called PROTEST PSYCHIATRY, on the psychiatric survivor-lead protest of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in New York City. And I’m thrilled by how it turned out. For starters, I filmed it on no budget whatsoever, created the entire film in three days, and have uploaded it straight to Youtube, so it’s freeeeeee!
This film, for me, was an experiment. Continue reading
For the past seven years I have been making films on recovery without medication from extreme mental states called psychosis or schizophrenia. For the past four years, since I ended my therapy practice, this has been my full-time work—and my passion. I have made four films and have mailed DVDs of them to all corners of the English-speaking world, and I have felt honored to watch their message spread: to mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors, mental health professionals, teachers, family members, journalists, libraries, and universities.
In 2013, thanks to a grant from The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, I came out with new DVD versions of my first three films—each translated into more than 16 languages. My business quickly became far more international, yet I noticed a trend: Continue reading
(written on May 1, 2013, Zagreb, Croatia, finally published almost 8 months later!)
•••• •••• •••• •••• •••• ••••
Why don’t traumatized people take good care of themselves?
Although this may seem like a huge and complicated topic, the crux of the answer to this question is simple. I will break it down into a few parts.
But before jumping in, there are two preliminary things to know:
1) No one is created traumatized. We begin life perfectly unscathed. Continue reading
[I wrote this poem four years ago today, on 12/27/2009. I just dug it up….and liked it.]
•••• •••• •••• •••• ••••
Most people stay in relationships because they are frightened of being alone…
…yet never acknowledge this to their partners.
Most people have children because they don’t know what else to do with their lives…
…yet are terrified to conceive of what this “what else” might be. Continue reading
[I wrote this essay on June 25, 2013 — and probably didn’t publish it until now, six months later, because of the intensity of the ideas. I guess I wanted to make sure I agreed, over a decent period of time, with what I wrote. And I do.]
•••• •••• •••• ••••
1) You’ll traumatize them one way or another
That is, you’re not ready to have kids because you will screw up their lives. Chances are you are not healthy enough to avoid somehow depriving them of their emotional needs, and to deprive children of any of their emotional needs is to traumatize them. Continue reading