At the end of my talk at the American Psychiatric Association Institute on Psychiatric Services, a psychiatrist in the crowded lecture room put his hand up and posed a surprising challenge: Why was I so concerned about reforming psychiatry and ending iatrogenic harm from medications, diagnosis, and forced treatment when there are so many other issues in society to worry about?
Looking back, the answer was obvious: because psychiatry harmed me personally, and because I saw so many others harmed (including both of my parents), I was inspired to make a difference. I wanted to share what I learned so other people wouldn’t go through what I went through. Like many people who endured injustice personally, I was motivated to do something about it.
An obvious reply now, but not the reply I gave at the time.
Marijuana is now legal in two states, and legal for medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Polls show the majority of Americans support cannabis legalization, and more and more of the country is joining the legalization trend. As a counselor working with people diagnosed with psychosis and mental illness I am often asked about my opinion and clinical experience — as well as my personal experience — with medical cannabis.
A few months ago I met your son. He said he would be waiting for us in the Berkeley park near where he sleeps outside at night, but at the last minute he called and was in San Francisco. He said he was at “the Mrs. Doubtfire house” with a photograph of his best friend, and that the photo showed numbers and codes predicting Robin Williams’ suicide. He found the house where Williams made one of his films, and was trying to talk to the owner. It was all part of a complex plan, marked mathematically in signs and omens he was collecting.
A translator from Thailand volunteered many hours of work to translate the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs into Thai! I am deeply appreciative…
You can download the file, and other translations of the Guide, at www.willhall.net/files/comingoffmeds
This is an extraordinary service to Thailand and to Thai speakers around the world. The translator is remaining anonymous due to the extreme psychiatric violence that is routine in Thailand, but sent this statement:
The Thai translation of the guide was inspired by a Thai person who went through forced treatment of the mainstream psychiatry and was traumatized because no one listened to her real cause that lay in her mind, but instead people around her judged her superficially and wanted a quick fix. She has learned about the alternative psychiatry and was deeply afraid of the ignorant medical practice and drug use. She deeply wants the mainstream psychiatry to be transformed into compassionate non-judgemental listening and holistic treatment.
” Depressed. ”
It’s a word I put in quotes because, like so many words we use to describe our mental health experiences, it has as much power to confuse as it does to clarify. We live in a culture bombarded by media and sped up by rapid-fire social interactions. It’s definitely useful to grab hold of a simple, short, sound-bite term, to quickly describe what we are feeling or suffering. “Depression” is such a word – it evokes and encapsulates, conjures the images of that ugly pit of despair that can drive so many to madness and suicide. Yet at the same time the words we use, strangely, become like those pens deposited in medical offices and waiting rooms around the world: ready at hand, easily found, familiar — and tied to associations, marketing and meanings we were only dimly aware were shaping how we think.
When I was locked in a psychiatric hospital, I wasn’t able to have much of a conversation with my parents about what was going on. Phone calls were tense and filled with silence, and as I stood at the ward payphone I was so confused and frozen in fear that each call just confirmed to my parents how lost I was. Each day as a patient centered around the various prescriptions I was on, and, like so many people suffering in a psychosis, helping me became a wait to “find the right combination of medications.”
Some thoughts after interviewing Tim Dreby:
Everyone has beliefs that seem too bizarre, illogical, or fantastic to someone else to accept. Religious views, paranormal interpretations, political convictions, interpersonal conflicts — all can put us in a category where other people consider what we think to be incomprehensible. Just spend time with someone from a different culture than yours, and you are likely to encounter things that don’t make any sense to you at all, yet the other person is living with them as if they were true.
We’ve learned to co-exist with different beliefs as one of our most cherished values of tolerance in a multicultural society. That lesson can be key for encountering the different realities in situations where someone is being called psychotic, delusional, schizophrenic or mentally ill.
Dylan Tighe’s new play “RECORD: Questioning A Scientific View of Mental Health” Features Madness Radio !
Dylan writes, “Thank you so much again for use of material. It really made a great contribution to the play.”
My talk at Alternatives 2012 has just been transcribed by Madness Radio listener Rene Bermudez!
You can listen to the audio of the talk here: http://beyondmeds.com/2012/10/13/willhall-keynote-alternatives/ and read the entire transcript below (thanks Rene!)
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