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 past 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
I was recently going through some old essays of mine and found this one from 2002, written two years before I had a website. I forgot that I even wrote it. I didn’t expect to like it much, but instead found the opposite: I really liked it. It expresses some concepts that I didn’t even realize I was thinking about at that time, and in some ways I find that they may even be more advanced than that which I think about now. Also, at the end of the essay I will discuss a couple of points this essay brought up for me. But for now I’ll leave the essay to you…
••• ••• ••• •••
I grew up in Upstate New York on what was once Cayuga Indian land. To me it is the most beautiful country in the world: rolling hills, crisp, cold streams, cascading waterfalls, Continue reading
I’ve known for a while that I’m rather lost. Not totally lost — but still, kind of lost. I’m not sure exactly where I’m going or what path I’m on. I would say that I have been kind of lost for about three-and-a-half years. It’s a stage of my life.
Recently I have come to think of my conscious life as having been in four stages so far.
The first stage of my conscious life was from about age three or four to age twenty. In a nutshell I guess you could call that stage my conscious childhood. Continue reading
[Written in June, 2011.]
Over the years I have received emails from people (and had face-to-face conversations with many) who feel I present no evidence for the radical sides of my point of view.
These words provide a good challenge for me, and have inspired this essay. What evidence do I have? How have I arrived at my conclusions? Why am I so confident, for instance, when I say that all parents, to varying degrees, are traumatizers? Continue reading
[Written in 2009. Of note, as of 4/1/13: I wrote this essay while I was still a therapist; I ended my therapy practice in March, 2010. Also, when I wrote this essay I didn’t have a paypal “donations” button on my website. I just put that up a few days ago — so hopefully I can invest more time and energy into this website.]
I have been accused several times over the years of running a cult through this website, or at least of being cultish. So I decided to put this cult question to the test—according to the Cult Information Centre’s “5 Characteristics of a Cult” and “26 Mind Control Techniques.”
Of course, this is me “subjectively” putting my own website and point of view to the test, but at least it’s a try!
[Originally posted 12/26/09.]
Lie #1: Romantic Relationships Help People Grow.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, romantic relationships help people become comfortable, and over the long haul comfort is contrary to growth. Most people get into relationships in an attempt to create the safe, womblike childhood they never had. In so doing, they never learn how to love themselves fully—from within. That is the real relationship.
Lie #2: We All Have Sexual Needs.
Sexuality is a misplaced lens through which we express of our desperate, anachronistic desire to have been loved fully as children. Continue reading
[Written in 2008.]
NOTE: THIS IS A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK ESSAY…
“The schizophrenogenic mother” – a mother who creates schizophrenia in her child – is presently a hated, taboo topic in psychology because it blames mothers. The only modern articles that refer to the concept anymore label it as incorrect and disproven. But they invariably fail to say WHY it is incorrect. So I have taken the liberty of doing it for them.
[Note, with humor aside: I actually strongly dislike the term “schizophrenogenic mother” because it lets fathers, who bear half the responsibility for child-rearing, off the hook. Please keep this in mind as you’re reading this list!! Continue reading