Essay on “Mad in America” titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?”

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.

A new essay on Finnish Open 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!!


Deconstructing Psychiatric Diagnoses

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

PROTEST PSYCHIATRY – my newest film, free!

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

What Makes a Psychoanalyst? — A Dialogue Between Patient and Analyst

[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

Three Differences Between Therapists & Parents

[Written around 2008.]

There are endless similarities between therapists and parents – including the nurturing and guiding role, the depth and intimacy in the relationship, and the existence of a power differential between the therapist and patient and the parent and child – but three key differences stand out most strikingly.

1) The initiation of the relationship

Child/Parent:  A child enters the lives of his parents after the parents have sex.  He enters the parental world as a completely perfect being – and as close to being a blank slate as he will ever be again.

Patient/Therapist:  Patients enter the lives of therapists through a referral (or self-referral) – and already damaged. Continue reading

Three Differences Between Therapy & Friendship

[Written around 2007.]

1) Purpose of the Relationship

Therapist: The therapist’s purpose is to help the patient face his buried traumas, uncover his blocked feelings around them, resolve them through grieving, ascribe appropriate blame, discontinue his repetitive acting out, and integrate – and thus grow toward enlightenment. This is what the patient pays him to do, and the payment is what balances the scale of the relationship. Where the therapist desires any more from the patient he fails as a therapist and instead acts as a regressive force in the patient’s evolution.

Patient: The patient’s purpose is to grow at all costs. Continue reading

Why Hypnotherapy is Disrespectful

[Written around 2004.]

Hypnotherapy demands passivity on the part of patients. Patients go into the hypnotherapist’s office, sit or lie down, and become unconscious, which is the requirement for entering a hypnotic state, i.e. a trance. And then they don’t consciously do anything. Instead the therapist does the “work,” meaning, he probes around inside their psyche, decides what’s wrong, and then proceeds to fix it…supposedly. Continue reading

Shouldn’t The Best Therapy Be Free?

[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

What Makes A Healer?

[Written around 2004.]

A healer must be humble. Humility is optimal openness to learning. Humility requires suspending one’s preconceived confidence in what is right and what is wrong and listening on a more fundamental level. The healer must be a great listener. He must be open to entering the depths of another’s story, another’s wisdom, and another’s truth. Everyone carries a lifetime of truth in their pain, their symptoms, and their buried hopes, and he must relate to it if he is to help them remove their psychic daggers from their chest. Continue reading