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.
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!!
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
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 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
[Written around 2008.]
Despite being dramatically over-prescribed, children have long been the most popular antidepressant on the market. As a natural-born skeptic, I have undertaken a thorough study of the pros and cons of their antidepressant qualities, as follows, though I will leave the final analysis to you:
1. Children are easy to procure, long-lasting, and you don’t need a prescription to get one
2. If you’re willing to raise them generically, they can be relatively inexpensive
3. They often work well in (sibling) combinations of two, three, four or more (though be careful of toxic interactions) Continue reading
[Written in 2008.]
(Note: Although I am aware that this does not apply to all psychoanalysts, it sure does apply to a lot!)
Patient asks: What’s the difference between a psychoanalyst and an average therapist?
Psychoanalyst replies: I have studied the most modern, sophisticated theories of human dynamics, and thus have the tools to understand and unravel the motivating roots of human endeavor…
Translation: Don’t you know that I spent seventy thousand dollars going to psychoanalytic training after I got my Ph.D.? Do you deign to suggest that I wasted the money I struggled to earn spending thousands of hours not listening to mere mortals like you?! Continue reading
[Written in 2011.]
The mental health system in all Western countries is failing, especially when you consider the intensely poor outcomes for people with the most serious issues, such as psychosis. Having been a psychotherapist in New York City, I have given much thought to the mental health system’s failure and have come up with a new theoretical model for the system, from top to bottom. I hereby present it.
1) Abandon Diagnosis and the DSM
My experience as a therapist has taught me that diagnosing people does not further their healing. The diagnostic categories we presently use are so often arbitrary, misleading, stigmatizing, or just downright wrong (and at times all of these) that they end up doing far more harm than good. In fact, I have rarely seen cases where they definitively help anyone.
[Written in 2005. Feel free to read my 2013 commentary on this essay — for context and/or follow-up.]
[Unless otherwise noted all bracketed page numbers refer to Gail Hornstein’s book]
It is characteristic of biographers that they have difficulty identifying with the child and quite unconsciously minimize mistreatment by the parents.
-Alice Miller, from FOR YOUR OWN GOOD
Gail Hornstein’s gift to the reader in To Redeem One Person Is To Redeem The World is that she provided the raw materials to understand the fascinating character and revolutionary work of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. The book’s weakness is that Hornstein did not sufficiently connect the dots of her own careful research to create a psychologically satisfying, three-dimensional portrait of her subject. Continue reading
[Written around 2004.]
Psychotropic medications block the path to enlightenment. They are prescribed by doctors as quick fixes for people who have emotional problems requiring solutions deeper and more complex than anything out of a bottle. Pills may get you out of the house, but they won’t lead you to your soul. Continue reading
[Written around 2004.]
Charging fees is a backbone of what keeps the therapy process professional. Not only does it allows the therapist to survive in the world, but it affirms his self-respect. He gives the best of himself to his patients, and they return the gift with something of value. Patients who pay a fee make a sacrifice – and thus buy a service. This is invaluable for them, because when the going gets ugly in therapy, as it invariably does if the process goes well, they must feel comfortable expressing their negative feelings – which are often toward the therapist – as freely as they need to. This step is made all the more difficult if patients are not clear that they – and no one else – have bought the therapist’s service. Continue reading
[Written around 2007.]
By and large I do not believe genetics to be behind such psychological “disorders” known as schizophrenia, depression, autism, and bipolar. I believe that psychological trauma and other environment horrors lie at their root far more than most are willing to concede – or even imagine. And yet the psychological field so often promotes – however scientifically flimsily – genetic origins. Genetic arguments serve to protect the parents – and basically let them off the hook for their pathological, traumatizing behavior. This is convenient. Or is it? Continue reading