Take These Broken Wings

Take These Broken Wings, a feature-length documentary film by director and former psychotherapist Daniel Mackler, shows that people can recover fully from schizophrenia without psychiatric medication.  According to most of the mental health field, and of course the pharmaceutical industry, this is not possible.  The film centers on the lives of two women – heroes of mine – who both recovered from severe schizophrenia.  The film traces the roots of their schizophrenia to childhood trauma and details their successful psychotherapy with gifted clinicians.

The first woman is Joanne Greenberg (fully recovered for more than fifty years), the bestselling author of I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.  The second is Catherine new broken wings_image_largerPenney (fully recovered for more than thirty years), a mental health nurse in California whose healing tale was chronicled by her therapist, Daniel Dorman, MD, in the book Dante’s Cure: A Journey Out of Madness.

Their accounts are interwoven with interviews with giants in the field of schizophrenia recovery.  These include Peter Breggin, MD (author, Toxic Psychiatry), Robert Whitaker (journalist, author, Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic), and Bertram Karon, PhD (author, Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia:  Treatment of Choice).  Also featured throughout the film are over 100 interview clips of strangers filmed in New York City’s Washington Square Park who share their points of view on schizophrenia.

NOTE:  I have decided to place all of my films on Youtube for free, because I want to share them with the world.  You can still purchase DVDs of the films if you wish, but I don’t want money to stop anyone from receiving their message.  Here’s to a revolution in the mental health industry!



DVD of this film and both trailers (click here and here) also available with English subtitles.

27 thoughts on “Take These Broken Wings

  1. Dear Daniel,
    I think I am your newest fan! I saw your critic about the mental health system on YouTube and listen to your interview , bought your latest book on Amazon all on one day!
    I think what you do is so amazing and a true gift to all parents ! I wish you would write about how to be better parents , common mistakes parents make or something like that!
    I appreciate all the free and reasonably price books you have offered us and hope to become a therapist like you ( honest , fearless and effective )
    Not sure if you read this but I thought to express my gratitude as a person working to become a psychologist

  2. Hi Daniel, Not sure if your web-site is still active, but I was diagnosed as suffering from Schizophrenia in the early eighties and after a number of times in hospital, I was told I would never recover or work etc.
    Since then I was taken off medications in 97 and have never relapsed.
    I have had my own business, worked in the NHS in mental health for 10 years, did a degree as part of my career, the went overseas and taught Science and English.
    I have my own ideas about what causes psychosis and found that many of the people (except those who were psychotic as a result of illegal drugs) had similar paths into psychosis as I had.
    When I tried to speak to people in the NHS about my ideas they did not seem interested in even exploring any new idea.
    I want to make my own youtube videos but do not have the cameras/lighting etc to do this, but I hope to get help from a universities media studies class, soon, I am just waiting on word. any suggestions from you or any of your commenters would be appreciated.

    • Hi Patrick,
      I would appreciate very much if you can give me some insights what is the path which lead person in psychosis .
      I would appreciate very much your answer …I have son hospitalized because of psychoses at present time and heavily medicated.
      Thank you .Sincerely regards Zorica

      • So typical of Joanne not to “toot” her horn. She never even mentioned this documentary to me last Nov. when we were mounting a new production of “Rose Garden.” I must chide her the next time I see or talk to her.

        I watched the video and ordered the DVD. It was very nicely done and made the point precisely.

        At the numerous talk backs that she and I had with audiences after various productions, it was always amazing how we would always get one professional who wanted to argue for the use of medication, but was totally unable to answer the questions put back to them.

        This information (like in your video) has been hiding in plain sight for over 70 years. Too bad these doctors are so myopic that they can’t see it.

  3. Isn’t it extraordinary that if you get better, you can’t have had schizophrenia? The psychiatrists won’t let go of their beliefs even in the face of major evidence to the contrary.

  4. I too am weeping in gratitude. I read `I Never promised You a Rose Garden in the 1960s when I was in a very dark place. I think it was the reason I went into psychiatric nursing in 1969. I became a nurse/clinician, counsellor and advocate who never believed the emerging bio guys’ belief it was all in the chemicals & genes. I worked with a large group of young people diagnosed with schizophrenia as we produced, performed & toured a stage production for 6 months. No one had any sign of psychosis for the entire 6 months. Nobody reneged on rehearsals or performances even when they were drugged to almost a standstill. After 6 months it was disbanded (not by me, I was a 3rd year student). Two of the most talented killed themselves within 3 months, one went on to be a successful executive of a peer organisation who retired a couple of years ago. The others, I think, were swallowed by the system. I still remember them as if it was yesterday. I too, had issues, and in my old age fell foul of the mental health system. After 13 years, including 87 ECT treatments, I walked away, dropped the drugs and haven’t been `sick’ since. As a result of that book I believed that everything had a cause. It was just a matter of finding it, working with it & moving on. It could be hard work. I was also often impressed by the sheer courage of some people facing dreadful futures as we were told at the time. Schizophrenia was a life sentence they said – `I Never Promised You a Rose Garden’ put paid to that, I thought. I still regret that theatre, music & art are so ignored by the entire psychiatric profession. I am now attempting to be an advocate & activist, but, as `Deborah’s’ doctor said in the book, if one by one is OK by God, then one by one it must be. I was an advocate for a young woman recently, and together with her family we managed to alter the totally unnecessary path an aggressive bully of a doctor was pushing. I hope she can stay clear of the `system’. During the theatre episode I met one of the most courageous people I have ever met. I don’t know what became of her but, given her appalling background, a nasty & much maligned `illness’, she stands clear as a beacon to me over 40 years on. I would like to buy all the DVDs you have & I will ASAP. Thanks

    • Thank you Dierdre! I appreciate hearing what you’ve written, painful as it is. ECT…..so scary. I actually just made a new short film (for Youtube) and in it there are two people who have had ECT. One speaks about it in some (painful) depth. It can be such a horror…… I did an internship at a psych hospital for ten weeks in NYC where they gave electroshock. Let’s put it this way: I am no fan of that hospital or their treatments!! Here’s my new film if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGcL6ntKuR0

      Wishing you all the best!

  5. I am weeping in gratitude for this movie and your generosity.I was given “I never Promised you a Rose Garden” after a total of 7 years of instituional “treatment” In Aotearoa New Zealand. My first psychois altered the rudder of my life profoundly. I have always yearned for a caring that did not involve medications. I have been working as an advocate against forced treatment for many years the fire of my advocacy burnt into my being from what I have witnessed and experienced. I have always said my mania is my friend. There is so much I would want to say here but for brevity sake I am a wash with gratitude that a friend said money is not needed for the revolution. The return of such open giving will be manifold and manifest. Bless the beauty of your own pathway.
    Annie Helm, Wellington New Zealand

    • Hi Annie,

      I just wanted to say thank you so much for your beautiful message. I also live in Aotearoa NZ and have watched my Mum suffer through the psychiatric system for most of my life. I am doing eveything in my power to support her and learn about the best ways to do that. I want to be a part of the revolution within this country. Blessings to you.


  6. Hi Daniel,

    Having watched the trailers for Take These Broken Wings, I’m really keen to see the full film. I’m a filmmaker myself (although things are getting in the way of the films a little at the moment), but also on a journey to get well. I was wondering if there is any online streaming option, a way to see the film over the internet for a lower cost? Your film is worth every cent you charge – I know the labour s involved in personal projects – but I am not in a position to afford the DVD right now.

    Many thanks, for all your work

    • hi Will,
      I’m working on a new, good option right now!! I will reply to you backchannel — all the best,

  7. That gives me so much hope for my soliloquy son who has been diagnosed in 2004 paranoid schizophrenic. Weaning from Invega Sustena injections with no medical supervision. He talks aloud 12 to 16 hours a day.

  8. Daniel – Received the videos today. We just finished watching the first (Take These Broken Wings) and found it to be inspiring. Though I realize that schizophrenia is a complicated illness this video shows that there is hope for recovery without medication. It would be wonderful if all professionals could display the kind of empathy displayed by those in the film. To truly value another human being seems to me the single most important thing we can do in life – and to communicate that so the other feels as if they do have value. Fear holds us back when interacting with the mentally ill – will we say or do something wrong, will they hurt themselves or others, how do we know what is working and what is not – most of us fear the unknown, and there is little in the world that is more unknown than a fragile mind that is often out of touch with reality. The schizophrenic will often test the limits of our acceptance in ways that we are simply unable to maintain. I ordered these films for a friend whose daughter was diagnosed a few years ago – in her early 20′s – and has been in and out of treatment. She is an RN and has witnessed the rampant over-medicating of young people so she is against medicating her daughter. It is my hope she can find a therapist in this area that could treat her daughter without drugs. Thank you so much for creating these videos!

    • Thank you for sharing this, Pat. Glad to hear you found value in it. There’s also an interview with me about the making of this film. It’s on Youtube if you wish to see it: http://youtu.be/9-_sytUZV7o

      It’s not always easy to find a clinician who will work without psychiatric drugs — or who has much of idea of what to do that will be useful. But there are some out there!! And also some peer-oriented or consumer groups have a much more enlightened perspective, and can be very useful — at times much better than therapy, I think.

      All the best to you, to your friend, and to your friend’s daughter——

    • “To truly value another human being seems to me the single most important thing we can do in life”. Catherine Garcia

      Wow! Rescuing animals is humane, rescuing humans is divine.

  9. Blackbird singing in the dead of night
    take these broken wings and learn to fly
    All your life
    you were only waiting for this moment to arise

    Blackbird singing in the dead of night
    take these sunken eyes and learn to see
    All your life
    you were only waiting for this moment to be free

    Black-bird fly
    Black-bird fly
    into the light of a dark black night

  10. I would love to know more about your work and purchase your videos. As a mental health nurse I work casually where drugs are mandatory most of the time. As a clinical hypnotherapist I have my own practice where I subscribe to the theory that it is possible to cure oneself, so facilitate self hypnosis for my clients. It’s difficult doing the 2 jobs!!! I am thinking of ways I could do some research to bring about change.

  11. Hello Daniel
    How do I get a copy of the DVD take these broken wings in Australia Daniel? It needs to be PAL, area 4.
    By the way love your work and approach to suffering.
    This is coming from a psychiatric survivor and therapist in Australia
    Do you plan to come to the international hearing voices conference in Australia this year – we would love to have you!
    Warmest wishes Sandy

    • hi sandy,
      greetings!! my films are all pre-set to show in all regions, and although it’s NTSC (not PAL) in my experience they’ve all played in PAL DVD players and on most PAL computers…. I don’t know if they’ll work on yours….but if you buy it and it doesn’t work I will refund your money.

      also, i am coming to australia in october and maybe part of november, 4 weeks. a different conference, and then my plans are not set. i lived in australia for 8 months in 1993 — haven’t been back since!! very much looking forward to coming!!

      all the best to you,

  12. Hello
    I’m a psychology student
    and I would like to ask if you have any experience with mindfulness treatment in cases of psychosis ?

    • Hi Katerina,
      Yes, I do have some experience with this. In the most general sense I have a lot — because I personally practice inner dialoguing, which is rather like mindfulness, and sometimes people in extreme states find this useful. But in the specific sense I have visited or lived at a few different programs where they take mindfulness pretty seriously, and use that word. I’ve been at all 3 Windhorse programs in the USA (Northampton, MA, Boulder, CO, and San Luis Obispo, CA) — and they, and especially some of their clinicians, take mindfulness seriously…and I think it’s pretty helpful for some of the folks they work with.
      all the best,

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