‘MIA Continuing Education: Help Us Get The Word Out’ by Robert Whitaker

Unknown-1Mad in America (MIA) is one of my very favourite websites and I check it out for new content every day. Robert Whitaker, who developed the website, is one of favourite writers – his books Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America and Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

What Bob and his colleagues have done at MIA is amazing! They have really challenged the psychiatry and mental health fields to have a serious rethink about they way things are done. They have challenged the very worrying trend of assuming that all emotional distress is biological and needs ‘drugging’. They have challenged the power of drug companies and biological psychiatry. They are trying to put humanity back into human conditions.

I spent 25 years as a neuroscientist before changing career, because I felt that the field did not have the solutions for helping people recover from addiction and mental health conditions. I was also disillusioned by the misinformation that was circulated in the field and to the general public – and the outright fraud that I came across. Fifteen years of working in the ‘real’ world, I feel that I made the right decision.

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MIA Film Festival Short Film Winner: “The Virtues of Non-Compliance”

This film won best short at Mad in America’s International Film Festival. It was co-directed by Evan Goodchild and Sera Davidow, and produced by the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community.

‘The current-day mental health system has been shaped around the idea that people who have been given psychiatric diagnoses suffer in a way over which they have no control and that often results in an inability to care for one’s self.

It is an approach that encourages the idea that professionals need to step in to be the experts and determine someone’s human potential.  These beliefs have also influenced other aspects of our culture to the point where news, movies, friends and family tend to perpetuate the message that we are chronically sick and need to re-adjust our hopes and dreams.

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‘A Tuesday With Bob’ by Deron Drumm

ddrummI cannot emphasise enough how important grassroots activism is for creating change in the mental health and addiction fields. A clear example of a successful movement is Mad In America, started by Robert Whitaker after publishing his book of the same name.

Here’s a thoughtful and passionate blog which illustrates just how much this movement means to people on the ground.

‘Robert Whitaker’s books and website have changed my life in profound ways. Nearly two years ago, thanks to the generosity of Dorothy Dundas, I was able to have dinner with Bob and several activists.

I sat next to Bob for two hours and was only able to summon the courage to say the deeply philosophical words, “I liked your book.” It was a long ride home to Connecticut that night with that phrase repeating in my head and the knowledge that I had lost an opportunity to tell someone how they had changed my life.

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‘How Can We Spread the News?’ by Kjetil Mellingen

kjmelliGreat article from Mad in America with excellent discussion.

‘Ever since I read Mad in America and later Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker, I have been wondering how to spread this knowledge to the masses and how to do this in a way that will make a difference to as many people as possible.

I used to teach creativity and brainstorming to corporations, and I would like to use the brain force of the MIA readers to find out new ways of influencing as many as possible with our message. In creativity research it has been shown that it is important to not be critical of your ideas in the early stages. Anything you can think of may be valuable, even if it seems crazy in the beginning. Often  the craziest ideas can bring the best results.

These ideas are called stepping stones. Just write them down, share them, and often you or others will see a practical modification of the idea that may actually be used.

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Daniel Mackler: Motivators for Growth

One of the best videos I’ve seen in a while. Starts with a bang! Ask those who are going through crisis what they really need for themselves. Found this video on the Mad in America website. Thanks, Daniel.

‘Therapist and folk artist Daniel Mackler discusses the major barriers to creating a more effective and compassionate psychiatric system, as well as the practice of Open Dialogue in Finland, and recognizing pain as a motivator for growth.

Daniel is a musician and documentary filmmaker responsible for such titles as:  Take These Broken Wings, Open Dialogue, Healing Homes, and Coming Off Psych Drugs. For more information please visit Daniel’s website wildtruth.net.

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‘About Mad in America’ by Robert Whitaker

“We started Mad in America as a webzine in February of 2012 and we launched it with the thought that it would become a forum for rethinking psychiatry and also for building a community of people, an international community of people interested in that topic.”

I love the Mad in America website and have been inspired by Robert Whitaker’s books. We’ll be referring to content on this website a great deal. In this short film clip, Robert describes the purpose, history, achievements, community, and future plans of Mad In America.

‘Psychiatry Has its Head in the Sand: Royal College of Psychiatrists Rejects Discussion of Crucial Research on Antipsychotics’ by Joanna Moncrieff

jmoncrieffDuring the time I was a neuroscientist (for 25 years), I became increasingly worried about the blinkered focus of many people that drugs were the sole solution to mental health problems. I was also concerned about the side effects produced by prescribed drugs. In the 13 years since I left this field – well, I stopped doing research – my concerns have increased, particularly with many new research findings. Here is an example from Joanna Moncrieff, from the excellent website Mad in America, of why am I worried.      

‘Two pieces of research have been published over the last two years that should prompt a major reorientation of the treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis, and a fundamental reappraisal of the use of antipsychotic drugs in general.  Put together, these studies suggest that the standard approach to treating serious mental health problems may cause more harm than good.

Long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs has adverse effects on the brain, and may impair rather than improve chances of recovery for some. Many people ask me how the psychiatric profession has responded to this data. Surely, they think, it must have stimulated a major debate within the profession, and some critical reflection about why it took so long to recognise these worrying effects? Sadly, this does not appear to be happening.

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