Your daily reinforcement

Do you feel sometimes that you are mostly alone in your belief that your relative does not have a diseased brain? The insightful blogger Alt_mentalities has reminded me once more of Dr. Loren Mosher’s important contribution to viewing schizophrenia as a psycho/spiritual breakdown and healing process rather than a real “disease” as mainstream psychiatry would have us believe.

If you aren’t already familiar with his work, the two must read articles are

Still Crazy After All These Years – Jeanette De Wyze  interview with Dr. Mosher
San Diego Weekly Reader, Vol. 32, No. 2, Jan. 9, 2003


Dr. Mosher’s letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association – accusing psychiatry and pharma of getting into bed together. The letter was written in 1998, when psychiatry and pharma were still indulging in foreplay by today’s standards!

Some extracts – but the letter is chock full of memorable quotes, so read it in full.

No longer do we seek to understand whole persons in their social contexts — rather we are there to realign our patients’ neurotransmitters. The problem is that it is very difficult to have a relationship with a neurotransmitter — whatever its configuration…….

…….In addition, APA has entered into an unholy alliance with NAMI (I don’t remember the members being asked if they supported such an association) such that the two organizations have adopted similar public belief systems about the nature of madness. While professing itself the “champion of their clients” the APA is supporting non-clients, the parents, in their wishes to be in control, via legally enforced dependency, of their mad/bad offspring: NAMI with tacit APA approval, has set out a pro-neuroleptic drug and easy commitment-institutionalization agenda that violates the civil rights of their offspring.

……..“Biologically based brain diseases” are certainly convenient for families and practitioners alike. It is no-fault insurance against personal responsibility. We are all just helplessly caught up in a swirl of brain pathology for which no one, except DNA, is responsible.

Alt_mentalities has posted a must-read piece on the work of Dr. Loren Mosher (Soteria) and of John Weir Perry.

It’s worth saying, again and again and again, that schizophrenia is a self-healing process. I have posted an extract from Alt_mentalities post below, part of a more in-depth interview with John Weir Perry.

Schizophrenia as a self-healing process:

“Schizophrenia” is a self-healing process – one in which, specifically, the pathological complexes dissolve themselves. The whole schizophrenic turmoil is really a self-organising, healing experience. It’s like a molten state. Everything seems to be made of free energy, an inner free play of imagery through which the alienated psyche spontaneously re-organises itself – in such a way that the conscious ego is brought back into communication with the unconscious again…

It [psychosis] is like the mythological image in a perfect stained-glass window being smashed, and all the bits and pieces being scattered. The effect is very colourful, but it’s very hard to discern how the pieces belong to each other. Any attempt to make sense of it is an exercise in abstraction from the actual experience. The important thing is to find the process running through it all.

“Chronic schizophrenia” – a cultural construct:

[Interviewer:] So are you saying that the reason we have so-called “chronic schizophrenia” in our society, – where a person is medicated, distressed or hospitalized for decades – is really cultural? A society which refuses to understand the healing nature of the phenomenon?

Yes, it seems so. Of course, there are some unusual cases where the individual simply can’t handle the impact of all this unconscious content, or doesn’t know what to do with it, and freaks out. But from my experience at Diabasis, I’ve seen so many people go the other way that I really do feel “chronic schizophrenia” is created by society’s negative response to what is actually a perfectly natural and healthy process.

A mother’s survival tricks

I know I’ve repeated what I am about to say many times in other blog posts, but I’m running out of ideas for this blog (LOL) and I figure it never hurts to reinforce what worked for me to keep my head above water in this journey. If it works for me, it might work for other parents in the same boat.

1. My husband, Ian, and I have kept our promise to each other, going on three years now, not to discuss Chris in any way that would signal there is a PROBLEM with him that needs fixing. We don’t discuss Chris’s current job search, his unfinished  university degree, his hanging around the house during the daylight hours without much to do. Because if we did, we would soon start to WORRY and FEAR would gain the upper hand. Chris would bear the brunt of our anxiety, which would not help him to move forward. Ian and I refuse to get sucked into this anxiety inducing zero sum game. Chris is moving in the right directions, on his own initiative, and doesn’t need us to prod him.

2. Entrusting Chris to the hands of other professionals. There was a time when Ian and I needed to get involved with Chris’s doctors, but this regular contact was anxiety provoking for us. Ian and I disagreed about the value of the medications, and it was traumatizing for me, at least, to continually interact with doctors in a clinical setting. Chris is no longer being treated in a clinical setting. His psychiatrist, Dr. Stern, is a private therapist. Though I’m wary about the danger of Chris becoming a perpetual patient the longer he continues to see Dr. Stern, I had to trust her enough to let her get on with her job. So, I haven’t corresponded with Dr. Stern for at least two years now. She’s doing her job, I’m doing mine.  Chris also sees an occupational therapist. While I may wonder what we are paying her for since Chris doesn’t yet have an occupation (LOL), I generally keep my mouth shut and let her get on with her job.

3. Trusting Chris more. This strategy(?) worked better as soon as Chris was able to function better. I remember when Chris left the hospital (for the third time) and I felt that I had “had it.” All the hard work to get him to take his meds, then all the hard work getting him off his meds, still resulted in his landing back in the hospital and back on meds. I was sick of being his nurse. He still needed guidance, but a line had been crossed. The old way of working with him simply wasn’t working. I stopped asking about whether he was taking his meds. He knew very well what the consequences were for going off them cold turkey.  I had to trust him enough to figure that he had learned something from this latest ordeal.

4. Letting go through yoga and meditation.

5. Reading only the good news that other people write about schizophrenia and mental distress. This is becoming easier as there is now more good news on the Internet than when I first got started.

6. Giving Chris daily hugs and praise.

First step: Stop looking at the person as mentally ill

Discover and Recover: Resources for Mental and Overall Wellness is a excellent “go to” place for people wanting further information on alternative therapies and empowering their own recovery. I’m reprinting a recent comment(s) to another of my posts from its founder, Duane Sherry.

Discover and Recover Jan 27, 2012 02:32 PM


I’ve been taking an online course through the University of North Texas, WISE Program -Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment – UNT was the largest rehabilitation counseling program in the world until very recently… It is no longer the largest, but still has a sizeable graduate degree program.

Last night, I read a great article – ‘Strategies for Healthy Relationships and Mental Wellness’ by George Nostrand.

I wanted to share with you and your readers some of what the article was about…
He describes “mental illness” in a refreshing way:

“The first step in working with someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness is to stop looking at the person as ‘mentally ill.’ Everyone struggles at some point with varying degrees of mental illness. We all feel depressed, anxious, paranoid, and angry. In addition to dealing with a host of other emotions, our thinking also becomes confused, we get lost in our thoughts, and we just plain have days when our brains doen’t want to function.”

“As a result, mental illness is normal. A person becomes mentally ill when normal thoughts and emotions go beyond a point of ‘comfortability’ and self-management. In these instances, thoughts and emotions cause extreme disruptions in people’s lives. When it comes to work, these interruptions to healthy functioning can lead to embarrassing situations, sporadic work history, and take a serious toll on people’s self-esteem.”

He also has some good things to say about the therapeutic value of work:

“Work plays a crucial role in recovering from these periods of disruption. Nothing: not medications, therapy, or any other element of treatment, can provide the wide-ranging and crucial elements of recovey that work can. It is the only way for people to regain their independence and reintegrate into their respective communities. This is why it is so important that vocationial services be provided in a way that is empowering to the individual.”

My thoughts:

The article by George Nostrand, Strategies for Healthy Relationships and Mental Wellness will be read by people around the world, through the UNT WISE online program. I find it encouraging that so many people will be reading his words about “mental illness”… Hopefully, professionals will begin to think of “mental illness” in a new light.

I have long-thought that the paradigm shift that is needed to transform the mental health system will likely come through self-directed programs and those that offer peer support. I won’t hold my breath waiting for psychiatry to promote the concept of recovery… and psychology seems to be slow out of the gate as well. 

But I do think rehabilitation programs such as the one at the University of North Texas offer some hope, along with those at Boston University and Temple University.
We have a long way to go, but at least it’s a start:

Boston University – Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation – Repository of Recovery Resources:
Temple University – Collaborative on Community Reintegration (Rehabilitation and Research Center:

Be well,

Friday fun

It may be time for you to “do the needful” by sizing up your marriage prospects using an Indian dowry calculator! This calculator is Dedicated to all the match making aunties of India  Like 78,788 people like this.

Chris’s comment:

I think “skin colour” is a huge bump on the scale. I did it for me (little do they know) skin colour: “wheatish” caste Kshatriya (warrior) unemployed, no alma mater height 6′ father’s profession “teacher” dowry: 25 Lakh (is this the price of a Big Mac?”)

Chris’s results:

Getting there, slowly but surely. Right now, your dowry rate is  25 Lakh. If you want your dream dowry, this might not be the most optimum time for you to get married. There are times in life when we are standing on crossroad and need to take some tough decisions. You could go either way from here. Be the master of your destiny and steer it towards your dream dowry. Best of luck!

Astonishing rise of mental illness – is it a global phenomenon?

Has anyone noticed that Robert Whitaker’s latest book has undergone a name change?

Old title: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs, Magic Bullets, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

New title: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs, Magic Bullets and the Astonishing Rise of 
Mental Illness


Does the name change reflect the observation that there is an astonishing rise of mental illness in other countries, as Robert Whitaker perhaps has learned over the course of his international speaking engagements?

Coconut oil

I’m passing on some news about the purported benefits of coconut oil when treating alzheimers, dementia, epilepsy, Parkinsons and schizophrenia.

The video clip states that coconut oil raises the overall cholesterol score, but actually that is because it raises good cholesterol. This is also what niacin (Vitamin B3) does. I had my yearly medical check-up recently and the doctor reported, once again, that my overall cholesterol reading was really high. “But, don’t worry,” she reassured me. “That’s because your good cholesterol is extremely high and it has raised the total score.” Dr. Abram Hoffer recommended niacin to his schizophrenia patients and he also said that the vitamin was good in preventing dementia/alzheimers.

Here’s the consumer’s view of coconut oil. Gianna Kali at Beyond Meds has allowed me to reprint her comment in the main body of this post. I like her idea of using coconut butter as a substitute for peanut butter.

Coconut in general and coconut oil are both foods of the gods…especially if you’re eating a grain free diet like I am…it’s a great substitute.

I eat coconut flour for baked goods and coconut butter to replace peanut butter and cheese…and yes…it helps as a substitute…totally…I miss cheese and it sort of is like a spread that works…I also make homemade coconut milk since I no longer drink cow’s milk and then the coconut oil I use in all sorts of cooking and baking too.

It’s a wonderful food all around the coconut…it’s high in protein and fiber and the fat is good for your brain and body in general.

I eat tons of saturated fat…both animal and plant (coconut oil is a saturated fat…my cholesterol went DOWN when I stopped eating grains and increased healthy fats…people don’t know that grains and carbs is what make cholesterol go up in a lot of people….not fats!! and the grains and carbs will mess with people with blood sugar problems too.

Animal fat needs to be grass fed to be really healthy…in any case both my cholesterol and glucose levels have returned to healthy levels since eating this way.

Smells like pharma tactics

If you want to start a trend with the public, the school system has proven to be a good place to start. I can think of a few trends that I personally witnessed. The first trend was to push technology in the home, not just in the classroom. My husband and I barely had enough money to pay the mortgage, feed the family, and keep the car running, but we kept reading articles in the newspapers that children did much better at school if they had a home computer. Home computers cost $2000, not money we could get our hands on easily.  Huge guilt feelings on our part. Our children would lose any educational advantage they may have had! The parent/teacher interview would go something like this: Teacher: “well, I’m not worried about Alex’s (our middle son) handwriting because he’ll be working on computers in the future anyway. He won’t need handwriting.” The message was clear: Buy a computer or Alex would be chiseling out his writing assignments on stone tablets.

The second trend was the rush to medicate. I again began to feel that my children were being left out. So many children had diagnoses of ADD and ADHD, and dysgraphia (Alex missed out on that one) that the principle’s office had a long line down the hallway at noon of children waiting to be medicated. But, as readers of this blog are already aware, my youngest son Taylor was caught in the ADD web. I was told by the school psychologist that Taylor may never reach his potential if I didn’t put him on Ritalin. I refused to do this. Today, with hindsight, I question who was feeding this information to the school system. Suddenly, teachers were acting like pharma reps.

And, the trend continues. Scare parents into jumping on the digital bandwagon to help Johnny keep up in the classroom. Get the teachers to endorse the product. Get the media to advertise this for you.

iPad a solid education tool, study reports

— More and more schools are jumping on the digital bandwagon and adopting iPads for daily use in the classroom. Apple’s education-related announcements last week will no doubt bolster the trend, making faculty tools and student textbooks more engaging and accessible.

But today another data point emerged, demonstrating that the iPad can be a valuable asset in education. In a partnership with Apple, textbook publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt performed a pilot study using an iPad text for Algebra 1 courses, and found that 20% more students (78% compared to 59%) scored ‘Proficient’ or ‘Advanced’ in subject comprehension when using tablets rather than paper textbook counterparts.

Conversion disorder not about mould

Le Roy, New York (CNN)Twelve female students from Le Roy Junior Senior High School in upstate New York are experiencing a mysterious medical condition. Their symptoms include stuttering, uncontrollable twitching movements and verbal outbursts.

Health officials say the symptoms are consistent with “conversion disorder.”

Dr. Jennifer McVige, a pediatric neurologist at the DENT Neurologic Institute who is treating many of the students affected, said, “Conversion disorder is a physical manifestation of physiological symptoms where there is traditionally some kind of stress or multiple stressors that provoke a physical reaction within the body.” McVige said the symptoms are real. “This is unconscious. It is not done purposefully.”…

Officials at the school hired an independent third party to conduct mold and air quality tests but found no environmental cause for the girls’ illnesses. A statement posted on the school’s website said, in part, “The medical and environmental investigations have not uncovered any evidence that would link the neurological symptoms to anything in the environment or of an infectious nature.”

Sanchez’s mother, Melissa Phillips said she does not agree. “I don’t think that all physical aspects of this have been exhausted; not enough testing has been done.”

The media reaction is to express “surprise” that this puzzling phenomenon can’t be traced to a contaminant in the physical environment, just like the medical community continues to be “puzzled” about the lack of clear cut medical evidence for schizophrenia. Here’s what the media should say about conversion disorder, but shies away from:

Conversion disorder: the modern hysteria
Colm Owens and Simon Dein

Conversion disorder is thought to occur primarily in societies with strict social systems that prevent individuals from directly expressing feelings and emotions towards others. Temporary somatic dysfunction is one possible mode of communication, particularly for those who are oppressed or underprivileged. The ‘psychological mindedness’ and ease of emotional expression typical of modern developed societies have led to the increasing rarity of conversion disorders in developed countries (Tseng, 2001

Conversion has been attributed to many different mechanisms. One influential theory, dating back to Ancient Greek physicians who thought the symptoms specific to women, invoked as their cause the wandering of the uterus (hustera), from which the word hysteria derives. The term conversion was first used by Freud and Breuer to refer to the substitution of a somatic symptom for a repressed idea (Freud, 1894). This behaviour exemplifies the psychological concept of ‘primary gain’, i.e. psychological anxiety is converted into somatic symptomatology, which lessens the anxiety and gives rise la belle indifference, where a patient seems surprisingly unconcerned about their physical symptoms. The ‘secondary gain’ of such a reaction is the subsequent benefit that a patient may derive from being in the sick role.

As David & Halligan (2000) point out, the concept of conversion disorder has raised great controversy between the proponents of psychological and physiological models of mental states. Conversion disorder raises the intriguing philosophical problem of how it is that psychological or mental states can effect long-term motor, sensory and cognitive changes in people claiming not to be consciously responsible for them. Theories falls into three main groups: psychoanalytic, learning theory and sociocultural formulations

Psychoanalytic theories

Psychoanalytic explanations of conversion disorder emphasise unconscious drives, including sexuality, aggression or dependency, and the internalised prohibition against their expression (Hollander, 1980). A classic paradigm of this theory is the case of Anna O., who was treated by Freud (Breuer & Freud, 1895). Physical symptoms allow for the expression of the forbidden wish or urge but also disguise it. Other psychoanalytic explanations focus on the need to suffer or identification with a lost object (Ford & Folks 1985). An analytic therapist would attempt to treat a conversion disorder by helping the patient move to more mature defence mechanisms.


It is crucial in any approach to patients with conversion disorder to establish a therapeutic alliance and to allow recovery with dignity and without loss of face. It is important that nursing and medical staff avoid labelling these individuals as manipulative, dependent or as exaggerating their difficulties.

Read the rest here

Charlie Sheen’s amazing publicity stunt

Subtitle: Celebrities’ amazing turn-arounds

Occasionally it’s nice to be superficial  on this blog. Getting out daily posts that try to shed a little light on the upside of schizophrenia —  a “serious mental illness” according to psychiatrists and pharma–is tough slogging.

A lot more rooted in reality
What is his secret?

Charlie Sheen says that last year’s headline-making antics are indeed a thing of the past.

I’m not crazy anymore. That was an episode,” Sheen says, laughing, as he spoke with reporters at Sunday night’s Fox Network Television Critics Association party in Pasadena, Calif. “I think I’m a different person than I was yesterday. Everything is a lot more mellow and focused and much more rooted in reality.”

Sheen, 46, couldn’t be more Zen about his new FX show, “Anger Management,” in which he will star and produce. He reports that casting is underway and that they will shoot 10 episodes in six weeks.