Visionary Psychiatrist: Dr Daniel Fisher

First Aired: 08-01-2011 -- 8 comments | Add comment
Dr Daniel Fisher

Can breakdown sometimes be breakthrough? Neuroscientist Daniel Fisher suffered an extreme emotional state and ended up in a locked psychiatric ward diagnosed with schizophrenia. His crisis of scientific faith fueled his recovery, and he went on to become a practicing psychiatrist bringing new insights to work with people experiencing psychosis and their families.

Today Dr. Fisher is Director of the National Empowerment Center, guided by a vision he had in solitary confinement of mental health system change, including the peer movement and hospital alternatives.

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8 comments on “Visionary Psychiatrist: Dr Daniel Fisher

  1. Excellent and informative post. I am a regular visitor of this site.I always appreciate your work. You should keep it up forever. Thanks for this great article.

  2. I can’t identify with someone who has experienced elements of psychosis induced by the use of drugs. The fact that he had Paranoia intrigued me but I lost all respect when he said that.

    People who have a mental illness experience this horrifying element (much more like a living nightmare that goes on for days or weeks or longer not just one evening.) I am really disappointed!

    How does one account for psychosis without any prior drug history?

    I did not choose to do drugs yet I became ill. Something so severe could not be induced by the vanilla non traumatic life I lived until then.

    He can not be a spokesperson for this.

    1. It sounds like you are on this site looking for programs that relate to your experience personally, which is a great thing to do and I can’t shrug off how important it is to find others “like us.” However, we can’t dis-include everyone who you don’t like. Personally, I do not experience chronic madness but did experience elements of psychosis during a 6-month long period in my life. Do I have to go away now, because 6 months is not the same as living with it for my entire life? We might not be the same, but no, I should not just disappear because my madness doesn’t “fit”.

    2. Hi Teresa, many people who are diagnosed with psychosis have previous drug use histories; many don’t, Madness Radio presents all kinds of experiences. Drugs can represent an overwhelming stressful experience, and what I see is that stressful experiences of many kinds can trigger psychosis combined with other things. Dan’s experience did go on and on for weeks and longer, not just one evening.

      Understanding triggers and stressors is to me vitally important, but as Dan explained he was facing a personal crisis of faith around his life path and I believe that was the real source of his breakdown, because addressing that was the source of his recovery. he was living falsely and it tore him in two, and then he had to rebuild himself on a more solid footing. Drug use, according to him, was the final breaking point, not causal, and his motivation for taking drugs was this deeper search for some resolution of his dilemma, which is ultimately found but only by going crazy for a while. It’s tempting, but too simplistic, to focus on drug use alone without understanding why someone uses drugs or the larger context of their life. Many people take drugs: to understand madness we need to understand the person, and doing that is the reason I interview people like Dan.

      — Will

  3. What a wonderful and empowering story. There are a lot of diverse people to learn and draw from who have reached into the core of society and solved issues of an old and overly wasteful approach to mental care. Have we forgotten compassion is necessary for human connection on emotional / psychological levels? One thing I know is a strong sense of unity can reestablish health care and mental stability, judging people as crazy or psychotic is like trending people for their mannars soo 1950s. We are in a time that needs progressive action or people can dig their heads in the sand…but that won’t help the serious issues that future generations and our youth face. I know that basically dopamine is a nueron that deals with transmission between synapses, but dopamine issues are really in context with environments and searching for truths when most people would rather look away from what’s ahead if course in a mindless culture what do we look at until the light blinds us when we wake up. I imagine chemistry could be studied at a more honest and quantum level…but most people are made to be adaptive and persevering while the psychiatric model is like almost a counterintuitive and dogmatic and so antichrist IMO. Sure drugs are great but freedom means community and interactive space not box after box after box of space. Its about potential not results…because potential action is better than so called productive complacancy. I hope less people get sucked into the vortex of medicalized pathologizing stigmatizing and extremely patronizing illogical redundancy of dsm BS and yea wake up to reality with a little self non censored truth. I think logic us really interesting too bad all the brilliant minds of this generation get kabelled pathologized tortured or just plain ignored.

  4. Very powerful. Thank you for sharing your experience and work!

  5. Thank you for this very personal talk on mental health. The talk was enjoyable, rich and relevant. One of the points that particularly stood out for me:

    “nobody in the laboratory is ever going to have any idea of these other realites….
    These altered states are not primarily due to biochemistry but are much more about our aspirations, our dreams, our traumas… our life”

    This is so relevant and so little addressed in mainstream mental health. As you indicate in your talk, nobody focusing solely on medical biologies has a clue. So few providers understand that the important issues are our aspirations, dreams, traumas and life. Our meaning and connection, our spirituality.

    Bob Manrodt – Pennsylvania spiritual supports facilitator

  6. Very cool. Dr. Dan Fisher works relentlessly on behalf of the swiftly moving psychiatric rehabilitaiton, integration, recovery, consumer/psychiatric survivors throughout the World. I’m happy to say that Fisher will be in Austin, TX for the TCE Leadership Symposium on Aug 8-10, 2011 and introducing eCPR to Texas with sponsor USPRA TEXAS, via HOPE Texas Mental Health Resource Network, Bluebonnet Trails Community Services and Austin Travis County Integral Care. I knew I’d like Dan immediately when he was the USPRA TEXAS Windows to Wellness 1 Keynote with Dr. Peggy Swarbrick. He is instrumental in helping Texas consumers build the statewide consumer network.

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