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The Legacy Project

My friend Jack turned me on to this.

This is what’s showing today:

Worry Wastes Your Life

What do older people regret when they look back over their lives? I asked hundreds of the oldest Americans that question. I hadexpected big-ticket items: an affair, a shady business deal, addictions — that kind of thing. I was therefore unprepared for the answer they often gave:

I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.

Over and over, as the 1,200 elders in our Legacy Project reflected on their lives, I heard versions of “I would have spent less time worrying” and “I regret that I worried so much about everything.” Indeed, from the vantage point of late life, many people felt that if given a single “do-over” in life, they would like to have all the time back they spent fretting anxiously about the future.

Their advice on this issue is devastatingly simple and direct: Worry is an enormous waste of your precious and limited lifetime. They suggested training yourself to reduce or eliminate worrying as the single most positive step you can make toward greater happiness. The elders conveyed, in urgent terms, that worry is an unnecessary barrier to joy and contentment. And it’s not just what they said — it’s how they said it.

John Alonzo, 83, is a man of few words, but I quickly learned that what he had to say went straight to the point. A construction worker, he had battled a lifetime of financial insecurity. But he didn’t think twice in giving this advice:

Don’t believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won’t. So stop it.

That was it. His one life lesson was simply to stop worrying.

James Huang, 87, put it this way:

Why? I ask myself. What possible difference did it make that I kept my mind on every little thing that might go wrong? When I realized that it made no difference at all, I experienced a freedom that’s hard to describe. My life lesson is this: Turn yourself from frittering away the day worrying about what comes next and let everything else that you love and enjoy move in.

This surprised me. Indeed, I thought that older people would endorse a certain level of worry. It seemed reasonable that people who had experienced the Great Depression would want to encourage financial worries; who fought or lost relatives in World War II would suggest we worry about international issues; and who currently deal with increasing health problems would want us to worry about our health.

The reverse is the case, however. The elders see worry as a crippling feature of our daily existence and suggest that we do everything in our power to change it. Why is excessive worry such a big regret? Because, according to the elders,worry wastes your very limited and precious lifetime. By poisoning the present moment, they told me, you lose days, months, or years that you can never recover.

Betty, 76, expressed this point with a succinct example:

I was working, and we learned that there were going to be layoffs in my company in three months. I did nothing with that time besides worry. I poisoned my life by worrying obsessively, even though I had no control over what would happen. Well — I wish I had those three months back.

 Life is simply too short, the oldest Americans tell us, to spend it torturing yourself over outcomes that may never come to pass.

How should we use this lesson, so that we don’t wind up at the end of our lives longing to get back the time we wasted worrying? The elders fortunately provide us with some concrete ways of thinking differently about worry and moving beyond it as we go through our daily lives.

Tip 1: Focus on the short term rather than the long term.

Eleanor is a delightful, positive 102-year-old who has had much to worry about in her long life. Her advice is to avoid the long view when you are consumed with worry and to focus instead on the day at hand. She told me:

Well, I think that if you worry, and you worry a lot, you have to stop and think to yourself, “This too will pass.” You just can’t go on worrying all the time because it destroys you and life, really. But there’s all the times when you think of worrying and you can’t help it — then just make yourself stop and think: it doesn’t do you any good. You have to put it out of your mind as much as you can at the time. You just have to take one day at a time. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if possible, but you can’t always do that because things don’t always happen the way you were hoping they would happen. So the most important thing is one day at a time.

Tip 2: Instead of worrying, prepare.

The elders see a distinct difference between worry and conscious, rational planning, which greatly reduces worry. It’s the free-floating worry, after one has done everything one can about a problem, which seems so wasteful to them.

Joshua Bateman, 74, summed up the consensus view:

If you’re going to be afraid of something, you really ought to know what it is. At least understand why. Identify it. ‘I’m afraid of X.’ And sometimes you might have good reason. That’s a legitimate concern. And you can plan for it instead of worrying about it.

Tip 3: Acceptance is an antidote to worry

The elders have been through the entire process many times: worrying about an event, having the event occur and experiencing the aftermath. Based on this experience, they recommend an attitude of acceptance as a solution to the problem of worry. However, we tend to see acceptance as purely passive, not something we can actively foster. In addition to focusing on the day at hand and being prepared as cures for worry, many of the elders also recommend actively working toward acceptance. Indeed this was most often the message of the oldest experts.

Sister Clare, a 99-year-old nun, shared a technique for reducing worry through pursuing acceptance:

There was a priest that said mass for us, and at a certain time of his life, something happened, and it broke his heart. And he was very angry — he just couldn’t be resigned, he couldn’t get his mind off it. Just couldn’t see why it had happened.So he went to an elderly priest and said, “What shall I do? I can’t get rid of it.” And the priest said, “Every time it comes to your mind, say this.” And the priest said very slowly, “Just let it be, let it be.” And this priest told us, “I tried that and at first it didn’t make any difference, but I kept on. After a while, when I pushed it aside, let it be, it went away. Maybe not entirely, but it was the answer.”

 Sister Clare, one of the most serene people I have ever met, has used this technique for well over three-quarters of a century.

So many things come to your mind. Now, for instance, somebody might hurt your feelings. You’re going to get back at him or her — well, just let it be. Push it away. So I started doing that. I found it the most wonderful thing because everybody has uncharitable thoughts, you can’t help it. Some people get on your nerves and that will be there until you die. But when they start and I find myself thinking, “Well, now, she shouldn’t do that. I should tell her that . . .” Let it be. Often, before I say anything, I think, “If I did that, then what?” And let it be. Oh, so many times I felt grateful that I did nothing. That lesson has helped me an awful lot.

Worry is endemic to the experience of most modern-day human beings, so much so that following this piece of elder wisdom may seem impossible to some of you. But what the elders tell us is consistent with research findings. The key characteristic of worry, according to scientists who study it, is that it takes place in the absence of actual stressors; that is, we worry when there is actually nothing concrete to worry about. This kind of worry — ruminating about possible bad things that may happen to us or our loved ones — is entirely different from concrete problem solving. When we worry, we are dwelling on possible threats to ourselves rather than simply using our cognitive resources to figure a way out of a difficult situation.

A critically important strategy for regret reduction, according to our elders, is increasing the time spent on concrete problem solving and drastically eliminating time spent worrying. One activity enhances life, whereas down the road the other is deeply regretted as a waste of our all-too-short time on Earth.

current status- click if it doesn't animate

current status- click if it doesn’t animate

same here

same here

butt issues

this kind of thing requires patience and dedication

this kind of thing requires patience and dedication

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Letter from Actual Sanity

from actualsanity.com

An Unusual Love Letter To The World, Or Whoever May Happen To Read It

Anonymous Author, USA, 2010.

PLEASE NOTE: This letter has been written in a special way. It contains difficult but necessary truths. Some people may feel uncomfortable or upset while reading the first half of the letter, but it is important to keep reading until you reach the second half.

When you get there, you will understand why the first part needs to exist. Please do not be upset or afraid. That is just your ego reacting the way all egos do. Merely observe the negative feelings and let them pass. This letter has been written to help you.

Dear YOU,

Straight away, before anything else, I want you to understand that what you are about to read is a love letter, written because I love you. In fact, it’s very possible that I love you even more than you love yourself, which is why I’m writing to you today.

It’s also why I’m going to tell you some things that might be hard to hear. In fact, they WILL be hard to hear. The first thing I’m going to tell you might hurt worst of all.

YOU, my dear beloved creature, are INSANE. Not just a little insane, in the way you think of the people you may know who are diagnosed with “depression” or ‘bipolar disorder” or what have you. Your insanity isn’t something so easily treated with a pill or a visit to a therapist. I wish it were.

Your insanity is systemic, very nearly universal, and absolutely incurable from within the system that sustains it. Every “professional” you might go to for help is as crazy as you are. Get that straight right here and right now. Your insanity is not recognized, acknowledged, or understood by the “mental health system.” In fact, all that system can do is help you become a happier crazy person.

Yes, my dear beloved human being, you are as crazy as a shithouse rat, and there’s absolutely nothing anybody you might be have trusted to help you can do about it, because they are as insane as you are.

It’s an awful situation you are in, and because you are thoroughly insane, you don’t know how to do anything but make it worse.

Don’t get me wrong, help for your deadly condition does exist. There have been qualified doctors who have tried to help you many times, but because of your insanity, most of you have either ignored them, jailed them, and/or or tried to kill them. And those of you who did want the help they offered still weren’t able to accept it, because you’re just too crazy, thanks to the crazy world around you.

In your madness, you projected your own twisted and warped ideas onto these doctors and tried to make them into gods, villians, lords, martyrs, and damn near anything else your diseased minds could think of to transform them into something other than what they were – your brothers and sisters in humanity who recognized and shared your suffering. All they ever wanted to do was help you, because they loved you that much. They loved you more than you love yourselves, and they paid the price for it.

And how did these doctors want to help you? Without exception, they had only one prescription – to lead you back to you who you really are. In fact, you probably don’t know it, but that’s all “religion” really is and all it was ever meant to be, at least before it was hijacked by hordes of self-serving crazy people. “Religion” means “reconnection” – reconnecting with your real nature – who and what you really are. If you’re a stickler for details, like most of you crazy folks are, go ahead and look it up. That’s the root of the word “religion.”

But before your knee-jerk aversions and pre-programmed ideas kick in and cause you to flee from this page in fear of being assailed by typical proselytizing, let me assure you that I’m not here to preach religion to you – at least not in the crazy, insane sense that you understand religion. I’m not here to convert you to Jesus, Buddha, Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the fencepost. Don’t be scared. I care about your freedom of conscience as a sentient being and I wouldn’t do that to you. Only crazy people are into the whole concept of conversion, because it’s totally insane.

Instead, what I’m here to do is guide you toward the very same medicine those “doctors” I mentioned tried to prescribe for you (with the possible humorous exception of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). But please pay attention – I’m not here to tell you about what you might already THINK those guys taught. It’s a very safe bet that you really don’t have a clue what they actually taught, because the only source of information you have about them is the insane distortions and misunderstandings projected onto them by your fellow crazy people.

So, who the hell am I, anyway? Because I know you much better than you know yourself (just like all sane people understand crazy people better than crazy people understand themselves), I know that’s what you’re probably wondering right about now. What’s my whole deal and what right do I have to talk to you like this? In addition, you’re probably starting to strongly suspect that I’m the crazy one, not you. All the signs are there – or at least all the signs your fellow crazy people have taught you to help you detect people who are actually sane and label them nuts. You see, that’s the whole game – that’s how your insanity maintains itself. You label the people who are actually sane as crazy. It’s so simple that you couldn’t call it rocket science, and yet it’s also diabolically brilliant. And, just in case you care, it’s also progressively killing your whole so-called “civilization” deader than a doornail.

But enough about that right now. By the end of this letter, you’ll either see it or you won’t. As for me, my “personal identity” is not important. Don’t bother trying to discover it, as I’ll deny it even if you happen to guess right. The only purpose of knowing “who I am” in terms of my mundane life in this crazy world would be to check me out and get my “bonafides” in order to figure out if I’m qualified to be talking to you like this. Well, let me tell you straight off, I have no “bonafides” whatsoever in your crazy society. I have no degrees attesting to my ability to pass crazy tests designed by crazy people. I have no insane titles – academic, religious, psychological, or otherwise – to indicate my exceptional achievement in jumping through misguided hoops devised by an insane world. Why on Earth would I choose to spend a single minute pursuing any such thing? Can you tell me? Think about it for a moment or two, and then let’s move on.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you my *actual* bonafides – the actual things that qualify me to write you this rather unusual love letter. Firstly, and most importantly, I care about you. I’ve said it several times already, but it bears repeating. Because you are insane, you don’t understand actual love in the slightest and have to be continually reminded that it isn’t the sentimental nonsense you’re trained to expect from romantic comedies and Hallmark cards, nor is it the self-serving lies you are told by politicians, world leaders, or celebrities of any kind. I’m writing to you today because you are in a life-threatening state of emergency. Your mind is occupied by a deadly, world-killing insanity and I want to help you cure yourself of it. It’s just that simple. I’m no god, guru, lord, master, or martyr. I’m simply an unusual kind of doctor, if you will – one who is not licensed to practice in any state or municipailty in the world other than the hearts and minds of those who sense that something is dreadfully wrong. And those are the only places I need to practice.

Secondly, I’m qualified to talk to you this way because I’ve spent far more time and energy figuring out how to be sane than most of you have spent doing anything in your entire lives. While you were wasting time at your insane, world-killing jobs, schools, and churches (sorry, but it’s true), I was working hard every day, all day, 7 days a week trying to figure out how not to be as crazy as you are. I did this for 15 years. That’s 15 long, hard years, trudging through 10 miles of psychological snow every day, uphill both ways. I have given blood, sweat, and tears for a scrap of actual sanity – just a scrap. And in comparison to your crazy society, a scrap of actual sanity is like a ten-ton hammer.

And why did I do such a thankless thing? Because I care for you. I see your suffering. I see your world dying – being murdered. I see the never-ending tide of your pain and tears. I see your self-inflicted tragedy reflected in six billion hauntingly brilliant shades and colors, and because I am not insane like you are, I cannot simply stand by and watch it happen without doing anything in my power to help. I’m not a hero, a martyr, or a grandiose person by any means. I’m just a flawed, ordinary human being like yourself who, through a fortunate series of misfortunes, had the dumb luck to become distanced enough from your crazy world to get a glimpse of actual sanity. That’s the only real, significant difference between you and I. It doesn’t matter that my IQ is higher than yours (which it perhaps isn’t) or that I read better books or comb my hair backwards or smoke Camels instead of Marlboros or anything else. It only matters that I, though no fault, merit, or intention of my own, just so happened to end up living a rather different sort of life than most of you have, and therefore I have gained access to a rather different sort of perspective.

However, on the other hand, don’t take me for one of your beer buddies, because that would be just as wrong as the opposite error. Don’t doubt that after 15 years of practice, I understand every bolt and screw in your diseased minds better than most of you will ever understand yourselves, even in 100 crazy lifetimes. Believe me when I tell you that should you find yourself in my presence, it would take no more than smallest flick of my metaphorical wrist to psychologically destroy you in any way I should so choose. I’m not exceptional or special in this regard – all sane people have the very same ability. Like Jeff Goldblum’s cable TV repairman character in the movie Independence Day says to his father when asked how he managed to triangulate someone’s location electronically, “all cable guys can do it, Dad.” It’s not hard to manipulate the crazy fears and insecurities of the insane. Your “authorities” and “rulers” also know just enough about how the madness of your world works to be capable of turning your screws to destroy you for their benefit, – and guess what? That’s exactly what they do. But I don’t, because I have no interest in enslaving or exploiting you.

On the contrary – I want to free you, which is a much taller order.

Because destruction is not what I want for you, I will never stop caring about you no matter how many times you laugh in my face, belittle me, spit on me, or attempt to mistreat me in any of the ten thousand ways your insane society has taught you to marginalize and neutralize the threat of people who dare to be sane. Your attempts to turn me against you lost their power years ago. Rest assured, I’ve got training in this, because you started early with me. You tried to destroy me in your insane school system long before a hair had even thought to sprout on my chin – but I survived, recovered, and grew beyond anything you could have imagined.

Pay attention – the fact that you think this is a self-pitying “sob story” indicates just how insane and clueless you are. It is precisely the opposite. Do you want to know what fear is? Then read and understand now – you cannot stop me from caring for you. I will do everything in my power to drag you, quite possibly kicking and screaming for all you’re worth, into the light. I will do everything I can to save you from yourselves no matter how hard you fight to defend your twisted attachment to self-destruction. Through the priceless gift of over thirty years of your ceaseless opposition, you have given me that power, and I thank you for it on behalf of all those who have benefited and will benefit until the day they shove me into a pine box and I am forced by Nature herself to stop doing my own small part to free a suffering world.

Incidentally, just in case you care, Jesus and Socrates had the same love for you, and you killed them for it – exactly as they had planned and willingly allowed. In permitting you to fool yourselves into thinking you had destroyed them, they became more powerful than entire civilizations and empires. You read their words today because they did as I have done, and as all sane people must do in the face of your insanity – they allowed you to give them the gift of your ignorance and hatred. As you hated them more fiercely, so did their light shine ever-brighter, until in at last killing them, you ignited them as eternal stars in the heavens, never to die.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m nowhere near the level of of a Jesus or a Socrates. You can put away that “he’s a lunatic who thinks he’s Jesus” label you’re trying to stick on me as one of your predictable little pre-programmed defense mechanisms. Only in my dreams am I at such a level – but I don’t needto be at that level to tell you what you need to be told. A lesser degree of development will suffice just fine, because to be frank, it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that our world, under your insane psuedo-democratic “leadership,” is in serious trouble. Heap big trouble, kemosabe.

But this letter is not about me, Jesus, Socrates, or anybody other than YOU. And that, of course, is where the tricky part comes in. You see, while I have the power to destroy what is good and beautiful, just as you do (and which you have a habit of psychotically utilizing at every opportunity), I lack the power to do the opposite. I cannot give you the gifts of sanity, love, and freedom. If I could, I would do it instantly. I would do it with such force as to imprint compassion and truth on your soul irrevocably. But I can’t. You have to freely accept the gift of sanity of your own volition, and that’s incredibly hard for you to do, because you’re so thoroughly insane.

Oh yes, you are disastrously insane. I know I’m in danger of the broken record effect, but have I reallymade that clear enough yet? Have I repeated it frequently enough for it to begin to penetrate the massive concrete bunker of crazy that is your mind, even just a little? No, probably not. But perhaps, just maybe, the utter “weirdness” of what I am saying has interested you enough to keep reading. Maybe you want to see where this whole bizarre trainwreck leads, because that’s still what it is to you, isn’t it? A bizarre trainwreck obviously written by a crazy person. Something on the order of the Unabomber or David Koresh, no doubt. You’re programmed to associate any sudden appearance of actual sanity with those caricatured, media-pimped bogeymen to make it go away. That’s okay, I don’t mind. Please go right ahead reading under the assumption that I’m a nut. I don’t blame you at all, because you have absoutely no other way to see it – at least for the time being.

Nonetheless, please understand that your world IS crazy, regardless of whether or not I am. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are some seriously whacked-out people. You do crazy, crazy, batshit crazy and insane things and label them “normal,” “necessary,” or “justified.” Don’t you see that when you do that, you are declaring to all the world that you are crazier than a shithouse rat? You go to war and justify it as “a fact of life.” Thousands are slaughtered for the sake of absolute lies and evil motives, and you don’t bat an eyelash. That’s not “just the way life is,” it’s batshit crazy – I mean drooling, straightjacket batshit crazy. Can you imagine YOURSELF doing it? Would you REALLY fire a deadly weapon at another human being just because “your leaders” told you to? If you would, then my God, you are really crying out for the tender mercies of Nurse Ratchet.

But that’s not even the worst of it. Like a group of sugar-buzzed, frenetic children playing a massive game of “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” you view life as a contest, a race, or a competition to control as large a share of the world’s resources as you can get your hands on in the 80 trifling years you have on Earth – and you don’t see a damn thing wrong with that, even as your brothers and sisters in humankind starve and die because of it. In fact, you celebrate this madness, preach about its “necessity” and “morality,” and assure the world that “there is no alternative.” That is murderously, shockingly, abysmally crazy. It is among the craziest things that any intelligence could concieve of. Even God Himself would have considerable difficulty devising a more insane world than yours – the very same one you are trained to think of as “normal.”

You are killing yourselves. And in reality, it is worse than that – you are murdering yourselves, and murdering as much of this beautiful, irreplaceable planet as you can manage to take down with you. But, being blindingly insane, you certainly don’t stop at homicide and terracide (the murder of planet Earth). That wouldn’t be nearly enough to satisfy your psychotic thirst for destruction. It isn’t just that you kill, rape, enslave, and destroy in the name of “war,” “politics,” economics,” “religion,” “truth,” or a thousand other distorted self-serving fictions and fantasies. Merely doing that would mean that there would be some period of your lives in which you were not behaving insanely, and that simply won’t do. Your virulent madness will settle for nothing less than complete domination of the entire human experience, lock, stock, and barrel, 24/7/365.

And so, you enslave yourselves. You sell yourselves to the highest bidder. Without so much as a twinge of conscience, you shamelessly piss away your ONLY two God-given (or Nature-given, if you prefer) resources in this life – your precious time, and your precious energy. And let me assure you, my dear insane friends, these are not resources which you have in great supply. You’ve been told over and over that your lives are short and your energies are limited, but you don’t really believe it, because you are completely in denial. You behave with unbelievable recklessness, acting as if you had unlimited amounts of time and energy to waste on utter trivialities, traps, distractions, mental prisons, and every other kind of insane, diabolical pitfall your fellow crazy people expect you to spend your whole life falling into. And before you can say “Orville Redenbacher,” whammo, right out of the clear blue sky and much to your total surprise, you are going to be out of time and wake up dead – but not before realizing at the last minute the enormous true value of what you wasted and threw away.

But hey, I could go on and on (and trust me, I really could), but you get the idea by now – even if you refuse to accept it because of the insane brainwashing you’ve been callously and cynically subjected to every day of your life right up to this moment. So let’s cut to the chase, right? Well, here it is on a silver platter:

Pitiably, regrettably, and disastrously, your insanity almost always prevents you from realizing that all you have to do in life is love each other. That’s it. Nothing less, nothing more. That is the ONLY thing that determines whether or not you are “successful” as a human being. Do you understand? All you have to do is really give a damn about your neighbor and act like it. I mean really care, in the same way you care about yourselves. You’ve been told this before, but your insanity ensures that it is the LAST thing you really want to do. You’ll go to any lengths to avoid taking it seriously. You’ll move Heaven and Earth – literally – to run away from it.

Because of this, you’re destroying yourselves and taking everybody on Spaceship Earth down with you. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but you’re crazy – homicidally crazy – and you’re killing yourselves along with your brothers and sisters. Worst of all, barely one man or woman in ten thousand even has the small scrap of actual sanity needed to suggest that maybe you ought to cut it out. You are well and truly screwed, and had better start considering the possibility of paying attention to what I’m saying here very quickly. Like yesterday, or last week. You have no time to waste, because even if you don’t value your own time and energy, rest assured that I do. What this means is that I am an extremely limited resource. There aren’t very many like me in the world (especially since you’ve worked so hard to erase us all from existence) and your chances of even encountering this message to begin with are extremely slim – but somehow you did anyway. And do you know what that means?

It means that congratulations are in order, because you have just won the lottery. Not the money lottery, of course, which would only entrench you in your insanity even further. If you’ll kindly allow me a slight (but relevant) tangent, it bears noting that your love of money is perhaps the clearest sign of your tremendous sickness. If you had any actual sanity at all, you would hate and despise money beyond belief. I know that statement just pegged the needle on the handy-dandy “crazy meter” you’ve been programmed to use to defend yourself from the dangerous influence of people like me, but just for kicks, why not consider it anyway? You think of yourself as a freethinking person, right? It won’t kill you to entertain an idea, will it? Just turn it over in your head, if you have the cajones. As a thought experiment and nothing more, take a minute or two to play with the idea of actually hating and despising money. It feels completely bizarre, foreign, and crazy to you, doesn’t it? Guess what. That’s because you are thoroughly insane.

There, that was good practice, and if you’re still reading, I’ll assume it didn’t kill you. Give yourself a round of applause, but don’t get too carried away. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Money, war, and selfishness are only three of the countless sick, twisted, insane, and evil ideas you believe are “necessary facts of life,” but they are perhaps the three finest examples of how deep your craziness runs. Why did I mention selfishness, you may be wondering? Isn’t the acceptance of selfishness so well-ingrained in modern thinking as to stand beyond question? Haven’t you, for thousands of years collectively and decades individually, heard and been comforted and justified by continual rationalizations of selfishness, its basis as the foundation of human nature, its necessity, and even its virtue? Of course you have, because you are part of a ravaging horde of crazy people trying to convince each other how real and wonderful your twisted and destructive delusions are. That’s the gist of it in a nutshell. A nutty nutshell.

Enough beating around the bush. If I spend any more time trying to convince you of how insane your world is, I think we’ll both get a migraine. Besides, that’s not even the worst of it, at least from your perspective. Here is the reality, which I promise that you will NOT be able to accept without extreme difficulty. Get your blindfolds ready, because this is going to hit far harder than what I’ve written so far, and cut far deeper. It’s far more frightening and offensive to your diseased minds than an eternity of calling you “crazy” and “insane” would be. That, you can handle (because you’re used to abuse, given that your whole society is based on it) – but what I’m about to tell you, you can’t handle. You’ve proven it over and over for thousands of years. In fact, I’ve only been calling you crazy and insane to prepare you for the REAL awful truth – and here it is:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

Yeah, YOU. The frustrated, depressed middle manager who has already sold away well over half your precious time and energy to the highest bidder only to have life hand you one shit sandwich after another for your trouble. As you lift a drink to your mouth to wash away the pain of your empty existence, know this and at last have hope:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

Yeah, YOU. The kid in school who is picked on continuously, to the point that you’ve given up on life. As you contemplate suicide and consider the unspeakable act of depriving the world of your irreplaceable presence and all the good you will someday do thanks to the gift of your painful origins, know this and understand:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

Yeah, YOU. Whoever you are, whatever you’ve done with your life up to this very moment (even if all you’ve ever done is piss it away), and whichever one of the 6 billion unique and irreplaceable facets of human life on this Earth you might happen to be, know this for a fact and feel its truth in your heart – perhaps for the very first time:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

And that’s the truth you’ll never, ever be told by the insane world that wants to use fear and self-loathing to control you, just as they have done all your life so far. Understand me clearly – this isn’t about “self-esteem” or some slick self-help nonsense peddled on Oprah’s book club. This is about the fact that your incredibly unlikely, miraculous existence is the cold, hard, factual result of a universal process that extends all the way back to Big Bang, the divine moment of creation, the Garden of Eden, or whatever story of creation you happen to prefer. Whether you were created by God, Nature, random quantum fluctuations, or the Noodly Appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the simple fact that YOU are here is a miracle. That’s not New Age nonsense, it’s the very reality of your whole being. I don’t care who you are, what you look like, how much money you make, or what anybody else thinks of you – if anything in this endless Universe is a miracle, then you are a miracle. Learn it, love it, and start acting like it.

People of the world, or at least the few who will ever have the opportunity to read this letter, please – listen. Listen for any reason you like, even if only to ridicule me, use me as an example of whatever insanity you want to project onto me, to try to smear my words or my personality, or whatever you like, but simply listen, just for a few more brief moments. I have some special words to share with you, from a special source. I don’t care one iota if you want to call that source God, Buddha, Nature, my subconscious mind, the collective unconscious, bipolar disorder, sniffing glue, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Allah, or whatever the hell you like. Simply trust, if only for five minutes, that there is a source beyond the ordinary experience you think of as “reality” – a source not subject to the insanity of your crazy world – and whatever it might be, it has begged and pleaded with you for all of human history simply to hear and take heed of a few simple words.

So, with no further ado…

You MUST stop all of this hatred and division. Not for me, and not only for yourselves, but for ALL LIFE. Do you understand that ALL LIFE is what you really are? No, of course you don’t, because your crazy world has denied you this knowledge – but it remains true nonetheless. Can you understand that there is NO SUCH THING as an isolated, truly “independent” being on this world or on any other in this infinite Universe? Every living thing is your brother or sister. KNOW NOW, right now, that this is not some recycled hippie New Age John Lennon “kumbaya” bullshit I’m trying to sell you. That’s how you are denied this truth in your crazy world – it is lumped into those tired old dismissive categories and swept out of your sight, never to trouble you again. But nonetheless, it remains true that not even GOD HIMSELF can alter the fact that unity and interconnection is the ACTUAL TRUTH of all existence. It’s a fact, a complete, stone cold concrete FACT, and the only fact that matters.

Phew, that was a lot of capitalized words. Please don’t get the wrong idea and imagine that I’m trying to preach to you like the self-serving spiritual salesmen do, convince you to believe anything through bullshit sophistry, or bully you into accepting anything that isn’t already present in your own heart. I cannot do that, even if I wanted to! Not even God, Nature, or David Hasselhoff has that power, much less a mere mortal such as myself.

Instead, what I am trying to do is LOVE you. Do you understand that? Have you ever actually been loved – really loved – in your whole crazy, manipulated, pre-packaged life? Perhaps you’ve been exposed to so much blithering insanity disguised as “love” that I am the first person to ever really show you what the real thing looks like. Think of what that would mean. If you don’t now understand in your heart of hearts how crazy your whole world is – when perhaps the one of the only examples of real love you’ve ever known is coming into your life through a random internet web page – then perhaps I cannot help you – but I will keep trying anyway.

Look, I’m not above begging, if that’s what it takes. Please, please stop hurting yourselves and everyone else. Stop all of this killing, exploiting, enslaving, and self-serving blindness. It’s not “necessary,” it’s not “just the way life is,” and there ARE alternatives – an infinite number of alternatives, or at least as many as six billion free and sane human minds can come up with. Your insistence on imagining that utter self-destruction and planet-wide injustice is “just the way things have to be” is so painful. Just in case you’re interested in history, please understand that it has torn the heart and soul out of every indigenous culture you have crushed under its heel. There is a reason so many Native Americans sit around on the reservation and drink their lives away – and it ain’t what you might think it is. It’s not their “laziness,” “lack of education,” “unemployment,” or anything else of that nature. It is the pain of having a sane world stolen from them and replaced with an insane one.

This world has been called a “vale of tears,” and it certainly is – but only because you refuse to stop hurting yourselves and everyone else. Doctor after doctor has tried to cure you of your madness without success, and they have done so *fully knowing* that most people would offer them nothing but a piping hot shit sandwich for their trouble. My efforts will be (and have been) received no differently for the most part, but at least perhaps I can plant a seed in a few rare open hearts.

 

Take this fragile little seed of compassion as my gift to you. Do with it what you will. Throw it out the window into the trash heap ten minutes from now if you must – but just for now, right at this moment and with no thought of the future, take the seed, just because you can. Don’t be afraid. It has taken a few of us “doctors” thousands of years to produce it at the cost of sacrificing everything. We have bled for it, died for it, submitted ourselves to every kind of degradation, rejection, and humiliation for it, worn rags for it, starved for it, and willingly accepted every kind of abuse for it – for no other purpose than to pass it on to YOU. But don’t pity us, because we knew what we were doing and we did it willingly. Take the little seed we’ve made for you, just for a single moment, as our free gift. You don’t have to say a prayer, bow to anyone, go to any church, join any movement, or do anything besides open your heart just a tiny bit and allow the little seed to take root. That’s it. No strings attached, no shipping and handling, no gimmicks. In the words of Huey Louis and the News, “you don’t need money, don’t need fame. Don’t need no credit card to ride this train.”

The rest is just a matter of staying out of the way of your own heart. The seed will grow as grass grows – without effort and without struggle – as long as you simply let it be.

Let the seed grow, and as begins to flower into a mighty oak, begin to understand that you must no longer sell your precious time and energy to the highest bidder. You must no longer waste your resources on things as meaningless as the insane world’s ideas of “status” and “success.” Chasing after those things is a virulent form of insanity that is killing the world, and you have chosen to become sane instead.

Let the seed grow, and as it sinks its strong roots into the fertile soil that is the interconnection and brotherhood of all beings, understand that you must no longer submit to those insane ideas and forces which seek to replace your infinite value and beauty with a false sense of lack. You lack nothing. Whatever belongs to the Universe belongs to you, as your absolute inalienable birthright. If you are being denied any portion of that birthright, it is through no deficiency or failing of your own, but through the machinations of a destructive madness which you have chosen to no longer support. For the first time in your life, you will experience what it is like to be without constant guilt and shame, because for the first time in your life, your heart of hearts knows that you are no longer helping the insane world to kill itself.

Let the seed grow, and as its healthy green leaves turn toward the infinite sun of true Being, understand that the senseless killing, exploiting, and enslaving must end. In the sanctum of your own mind, ask the insane world around you “what part of Thou Shalt Not Kill didn’t you understand?” What part of “exploitation and slavery are wrong” don’t “normal” people get? Don’t hope for a sane answer, though. The crazy world around you is incapable of providing one, but that’s okay, because you have chosen to no longer share their delusions.

When you must kill, even a fly, make a practice of apologizing out loud with true regret – and when you do, reflect on how crazy the world would think you are if they caught you doing that. Understand that it’s not your insanity for doing so, it’s theirs for not. And then know that everything you need to do to live with compassion and actual sanity is just like apologizing to the fly. It is simply a matter of being sane enough to let the whole crazy world think you are nuts for the sake of love. Do you see how this works? Doctor Jiddu Krishnamurti (a “doctor” in the true sense) said it best – “it is no measure of sanity to be well-adjusted to an insane world.” Live with true compassion and you’ll be called a nut. Understand this, accept it, and do it anyway.

Let the seed grow in a thousand other wonderful and surprising ways, as compassion begins to flower in your heart. Never beat yourself up for anything – let the crazy world take care of beating itself up, as it always has. Don’t be afraid to get angry from time to time – no one whose heart knows genuine compassion has ever gone without knowing the burn of anger. You are angry because you care. You are angry because you love.

Most importantly, you are angry because you live in a world that is killing, enslaving, and destroying itself in a state of total self-satisfied, smug arrogance, and by God (or Darwin), you’ve had it up to here. You aren’t just a little miffed or vaguely disappointed at the sorry shape the human race is in. That’s for people who don’t care much, and don’t intend to let such small stirrings of conscience disrupt their TV time. No, that route is not open to you anymore. You already know too much, and try as you might, you can never unsee what you’ve seen in the few minutes we’ve spent together. Sorry, Charlie, but I wasn’t being completely truthful with you when I said I wouldn’t turn your psychological screws. It was a little white lie that was necessary to uproot a big black one.

If you have allowed love and compassion to take firm root in your heart, do not be surprised or dismayed that you are quite capable of becoming enraged, livid, and furious at the insanity of it all. This does not mean you are a “spiritual failure” as the phony, self-seeking “gurus” of the world would have you believe. It means precisely the opposite. You have the capacity for great anger because you have the capacity for great compassion. They are co-identical, like the Taoist concepts of yin and yang, and neither occurs without implying the co-existence of the other. Thousands of children are starving to death every day, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that you may begin to feel absolutely outraged over it. On the contrary – what’s so horribly wrong with the world is that everyone else doesn’t.

Do not reject anger or try to stifle it with feel-good platitudes, as selfish people who care only for their own happiness do. Instead, use your anger. Allow it to forge your love and compassion for a suffering world into razor-sharp weapons of unbreakable steel. Remember, as it is said, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” Peace cannot be won without sacrifice. The sword of compassion forged within your heart is not for striking out at others, but for mercilessly slashing away every false and destructive self-deception and every self-justifying excuse in your own mind, until all that remains is an unquenchable desire to do your small but infinitely meaningful part to ease the world’s suffering – a desire as keenly felt as a drowning man’s desire for air. Become the Bodhisattva, and find your salvation in that of the world.

When anger and frustration come, as they surely will, allow the intensity of these natural feelings to forge your true heart into a fortress that is untouchable and indestructible. Allow them to temper your determination to the point that you will NEVER, EVER stop being willing to reach out to your fellow man in a spirit of true compassion even if they nail you to a cross for it. Allow them to strengthen your resolve so that you know in your heart that not even your own worst fears, or even God Himself, can stop you from reaching out to ease the pain of a suffering world, even if it has to be dragged to the medicine kicking and screaming every step of the way. As Enigma puts it, don’t care what people say / just follow your own way. Don’t give up and lose the chance / to return to innocence. “Innocence” is simply the nature of who you really are. Know that you will do what it takes to be true to your true self. No, that isn’t a redundant or meaningless sentence. If you think it is, read it again until you understand. Read it a thousand times if you must. Whatever it takes.

Let the seed grow, and become strong and powerful, in a way the weak (who are called “strong” in the insane world) will never be able to touch. Never flatter your ego by engaging in self-serving fantasies of yourself as a martyr, but nonetheless prepare yourself to suffer every kind of degradation and abuse for the sake of passing the seed on to just one more open heart. Prepare to be considered “weak” by the “strong” of this world – those who have learned to embrace the insanity, become the craziest inmates of the crazy house, and keep the whole insane system going for their own short-sighted benefit. In the insane world, they call those people “winners,” “leaders,” “the successful,” and “role models.” Accept their rejection, condemnation, and abuse without blame. They know no better.

Let the seed grow, and even in the defining moments when you face your personal demons, learn to summon the world-changing strength to love and bless your enemies, for you know something they do not. Even in all their worldly might, they have no power against the seed you carry. Even their shriveled and petrified hearts might someday, somehow be opened to it, much to their shock and horror. No one is beyond redemption, because we all share in the same infinite source. In your “weakness,” as seen through the eyes of the insane world, lies your greatest power. By staying true to your true self and the seed (for ultimately they are one and the same), you shall overcome.

If you dare, decide right this moment to turn your life around. I’m sorry if this sounds like an “altar call,” but I honestly can’t help that. At some point, everyone has to decide which team they are going to bat for. Please understand that I don’t mean “turn your life around” in the sense of shouting “praise the lord” or doing some kind of “self-help” program or getting a better job or joining the military or attending the University of Phoenix or deciding to spend 20 minutes a day chanting “AUM.” I mean turn your life around in terms of a 180 degree about-face turning away from the whole crazy insanity of this world and toward the REAL truth of who and what you are.

If you dare, decide right now to be “in the world but not of it.” Yeah, I know Jesus and some other scary religious people said this, but I can’t help that. They said it because they had to. There’s no other way to give you any chance of becoming sane. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” doesn’t mean that I personally (as in the author of this webpage) am some special awesome being you have to obey and listen to just because I’m The Lord of Lords, Captain America, or even Rick James. Hell no, and please get that crazy rubbish out of your head. Instead, it simply means that this message (the message of compassion) is the only way to actual sanity and a better world – and it meant exactly the same thing when Jesus said it, too. “I, the message of compassion, am the way, the truth, and the life.” Sorry about your bad luck, but no man comes to the Father (your true nature) but through me (the message of compassion). Got it now? Okay, good – and don’t blame me, meaning “me” as in the imperfect human being who is being used as a vehicle for these truths. I didn’t make the rules, and neither did Jesus, Buddha, the Dalai Lama, or anybody else who has tried to carry the message to you.

So, with that in mind, here are some practical steps you can take as soon as you feel ready – but be warned, some of them might be an ouchie at least until you have accumulated some practical experience in not being nuts:

Rather than getting a better job, if you’re single and child-free, see if you can figure out how to get rid of your job completely. GASP! The shock! The horror! Well, get over it. I said what I said and I meant it 100%. If you can do something as monumentally “crazy” (in the insane world’s eyes) as this, holy mackerel, are you ever on the right track in a big way. Although you’ll probably be poor, your spiritual future’s so bright you gotta wear shades. You are on the spiritual short list, as opposed to the spiritual short bus. That’s the ride everybody else who is still chasing after money is taking.

Rather than joining the military, learn what a “conscientious objector” is and see if you can’t become one. Want a hint? It’s the totally ridiculous and nutty belief that “war is always wrong.” Wow, what a concept, eh? If you can get your crazy little head around that, even if takes you 20 years of arguing with yourself over whether Hitler had to be stopped, then oh boy, are you ever moving in the right direction in a Porsche 944. It might come as a surprise to you, but “thou shalt not kill” is an extremely sane idea. The more you get acquainted with it, the quicker you’ll make progress in every area.

Rather than attending the University of Phoenix, why not tear up every degree you might already have and become the dean of your own personal Sanity University? Stop giving credence to the crazy belief that any degree or award the insane world can confer upon you can do one iota to help you move toward actual sanity, happiness, fulfillment, or whatever else you’ve been falsely promised. If you can manage to never have a thought of chasing another one of their gold stars or seals of approval again, then good lord, are you ever taking off into actual sanity at warp speed. Lao-Tsu said it best – “give up learning, and put and end to your troubles.” What you really need to learn, this world doesn’t teach.

Rather than chanting “AUM” for 20 minutes a day, start right now to stand up for compassion in every area of your life, beginning from the tip of your nose and extending outward to encompass the whole universe. Aim high and never take “no” for an answer. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re setting your sights too high. Man’s reach must always exceed his grasp or we’re all wasting our time doing absolutely nothing. Don’t be fooled by those who tell you to “be practical.” They only want to kill their consciences by excusing and rationalizing away their own unwillingness to act. Dream big. Resolve to save the whole suffering world and get busy doing it. By doing that, you’ll already have succeeded. As Gandhi put it, BE the change. That’s all – nothing less, nothing more.

Remember, YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value. If you’re an American, Mister Rogers (one of our truly great spiritual leaders and a thoroughly sane man) told you this as a kid, but the insane world beat it out of you. So now, listen again. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, if you choose to make it one. You have strength beyond measure waiting to be unlocked somewhere deep in your heart. All the “doctors” of history have done their damndest to tell you exactly where to find it, if you’ll just shut off the crazy voices of the world in your head for five minutes and really, sincerely LOOK and LISTEN. Turn off the TV and unplug the phone if you have to, just to find a place to start. Never believe that you cannot change the world, for it is really you and ONLY you who can. That’s a fact, Jack. Learn it, love it, live it.

But please, for the love of Buddha, don’t simply believe anything I’m telling you. I don’t care if you “believe” in me, God, Nature, Santa Claus, science, compassion, a spherical Earth, or anything else. In fact, I’d prefer if you didn’t “believe” in anything at all. Beliefs are dangerous and you don’t exactly have a good history of using them wisely. Instead of believing, go within. Go into the depths of your heart and see if what I’ve told you rings true. Go to the place where there is no logic, no “truth” that can be formulated in words and used to beat your fellow man over the head, no belief, and no chattering mind. Go to the quiet place where faith lives – and I don’t mean Crazytown’s phony self-serving sales-pitch version of  “faith” that asks you to send $100 to Benny Hinn, believe that dinosaurs and man walked the Earth together 5000 years ago, or blow yourself up for the glory of Allah. I meanreal faith – the universal message of the heart. Put aside everything the crazy world has ever told you, go to that small, still place, and see if what I’ve said to you rings true. If it doesn’t, then I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time and you can bill me for your two cents worth.

As your brother in humankind, I am at your service forever, even if you choose to hate me, as many of you have already chosen to do throughout our shared lives together here on Planet Crazytown. It’s okay – I forgive you and always will, for you truly know not what you do. However, you CAN learn. This is your opportunity. You won’t have many more, so take it lightly at your own risk. No conversion, no “sinner’s prayer,” no church, no collection plate, no robes, no rituals, and nothing other than one totally free being in the universe choosing to open himself or herself to the possibility of a better course for the one and only short little human life any of us have.

As it is has been written in every true medicine book in the world by better doctors than me:

“Treat others as you would be treated, that is the only law.”

Or, as one unusually sane man in particular put it:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It is up to you now. Will you at least take the seed into your heart, for just a moment? Will you step outside your self-imposed ego prison for just a brief instant and see that the insane ideas, beliefs and attitudes you have been trained to accept as “normal” are killing you and the whole bloody world spiritually, psychologically, and even materially? Will you, like Nero, choose only to fiddle while Rome burns? Can you, just for a moment, set aside this deadly blindness and arrogance? Will you turn away from the madness, at long last, and face the shining Sun of your true infinite being? Will you reach into the depths of your heart and summon the courage to become who you really are?

I know I promised you no religious nonsense, but if you will allow me one small metaphor in closing, it is this: When you accept the seed of compassion into your heart, it is at that very moment that all sentient beings are saved and the universe and its infinite angels rejoice for all eternity – because eternity is within you.

Yours Truly,
Actual Sanity

P.S. You’ll find no links to my church, my movement, my seminars, my retreats, or anything else. I don’t have any. I don’t need any. I told you I had nothing of that sort to sell, push, or preach, and I was telling the truth. You know what to do if you want any of that. It’s all out there in a thousand forms and a million places. If you want Jesus, he’s not hard to find (although I’d recommend staying away from most churches). Ditto the Buddha, Lao-Tsu, the Dalai Lama, Swami Anybodyananda, Pantheism, Humanism, or whatever appeals to you. As long as you understand that all of these doctors prescribe the same medicine you’ve just been prescribed here, knock yourself out. Compassion is the only medicine in the world on which you can never overdose.

That is all. This is my whole and complete message to you. Take it for what it is – not some “sermon” from on high, not a lecture from some “guru” or “master,” but a heart-to-heart personal letter from a brother in humankind who shares in your pain and heartache. Just for today, and just in the form of these few words, I am merely offering to play the role of your “doctor,” not your “master.” Your true master is and has always been your own heart and nothing else – and if I have been at all successful in opening your mind to its small, still voice, then that is the true medicine.

Good luck to you, and may we each do whatever is in our power to cure our shared suffering together, as brothers and sisters on this little blue ball of mud. I will see a few of you on the streets, at the markets, and on the wires, where you will neither know me nor care to know me – but understand that I do know you, and no matter how crazy you are, you will always be my friend.

And that, very simply, is why I will never lie to you about what really matters. You may now be very, very insane – but you don’t have to be. The choice is yours.

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Filed under Mental health recovery, Spirituality

OCSC/ No Radio

The Oregon Consumer/ Survivor Coalition had it’s Strategic Planning Retreat last week. In attendance were approximately 40 individuals representing a number of consumer operated organizations and individual members. I’ll do a more involved post soon enough but I wanted to get my pictures from the retreat up while I’m thinking of it.

Also, there will be no MLBM radio show this month. We have been preempted by a Halloween Special on KBOO. Next time, then.

The meeting room before the meeting- notice that it's dark outside.

Deb and Diane prepare to facilitate a PATH plan...

This is what it looked like about halfway through the morning.

Deb worked hard to keep up with the thoughts and ideas generated by the group.

Animated discussion about chickens and the delusion of normal-

Amy and Deb- and this is my best shot of the completed plan. The others were even worse.

Now there sits a man with an open mind. You can feel the draft from here.
Groucho Marx


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Filed under CS/X movement, Mad Radio, Mental health recovery, pictures, wellness and systems change

News from MindFreedom

Just sharing-

1 May 2009 – This Friday!
State Capitol Rotunda, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

May Day for Ray: Protest Forced Electroshock of Ray Sandford

Join MindFreedom International in protesting the ongoing forced 
outpatient electroshock of Ray Sandford of Minnesota wherever you 
live: Vigil, write letters to the editor, speak out! If you can get 
to Minneapolis/St. Paul you can join MindFreedom activists David W. 
Oaks of Oregon and Al Galves, PhD, of New Mexico in several days of 
protests, vigils, news conferences and activism.

See ‘Gateway to Ray Campaign’ for info, including downloadable flyer 
and news release:

http://mindfreedom.org/ray

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
9 May 2009
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Say No to Electroshock

Comite Pare-chocs is holding a gathering on Mother’s Day to protest 
ECT, highlighting the fact that it is used much more frequently on 
women than on men.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
10 May 2009
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

‘Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers!’

The Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) is organizing a 
protest that will take place in Toronto, this Mothers Day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
10 May 2009
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Electroshock Protest

Another Mothers Day protest against ECT is being organized by the 
International Campaign to Ban Electroshock (ICBE).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
14 to 15 May 2009
San Francisco, California, USA

Two Seminars Presented by Ron Unger

Two seminars, led by Ron Unger LCSW, will be held just before the 
protest of the APA convention in San Francisco. The first seminar on 
May 14
will be an introduction to cognitive therapy for psychosis, 
which is a psychological approach to helping people who hear voices 
or have beliefs so ‘far out’ that most mental health workers would 
propose drugs as the only possible treatment. The second seminar on 
May 15
will focus on the relationship between ‘psychosis’ and trauma, 
a relationship usually denied by the mental health system which 
instead attempts to convince people they have a strictly ‘biological 
illness’ or ‘biochemical imbalance.’ Ron is coordinator of 
MindFreedom Lane County Affiliate in Oregon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
15 May 2009
San Francisco, California, USA

Free Meeting Before the APA Protest

MindFreedom will hold a free reception in advance of the protest of 
the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco. 
Come to meet other MindFreedom members, socialize, organize, boost 
your spirits, maybe make some signs, and get informed!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
17 to 18 May 2009
Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA

Nonviolent Protest of the American Psychiatric Association

When the American Psychiatric Association holds their large Annual 
Meeting in 2009 in San Francisco, once more MindFreedom International 
will be there to greet them with a nonviolent protest, this time 
complete with skits that will be YouTubed. Sunday, May 17 at 1 pm
and Monday, May 18 at 10 am.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
30 May 2009
Cork City, Ireland

‘Stop Shocking our Mothers and Grandmothers’

MindFreedom Ireland is holding a peaceful protest against ECT this May.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
22 June 2009
Dunstan Hall, Norwich, United Kingdom

Critical Psychiatry Network Conference 2009

The Critical Psychiatry Network is hosting its tenth annual 
conference, entitled ‘Promoting the critical mental health movement.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

13 to 19 July 2009
Everywhere!

Mad Pride Week!

Mad Pride events are again planned in Europe, Africa, North America 
and more. Hold your own Mad Pride event, small or large, wherever you 
are and let MFI know.

While you can hold Mad Pride events at any time, The City of Toronto 
in Ontario, Canada has proclaimed July 13 to 19 2009 as MAD Pride 
Week! Ruth Ruth of Friendly Spike Theater, who is chair of the 
MindFreedom International Mad Pride Committee, said MAD Pride 
Organizers in Toronto will be holding an exhibition, theater events, 
an Annual Bed Push Parade and more. Planning meetings are every 
Friday afternoon at 3 pm
from now until June.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
9 to 12 September 2009
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

NARPA 2009 Annual Conference

The next conference of the National Association for Rights Protection 
and Advocacy (NARPA), which was a founding organization of the 
MindFreedom International coalition, is scheduled for September.

For more info:
http://www.narpa.org

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
9 to 10 October 2009
Syracuse, New York, USA

ICSPP 2009 Conference

The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, 
Inc. (ICSPP) is a sponsor group of MindFreedom. This is an excellent 
conference, especially to network dissident mental health 
professionals critical of the current psychiatric system.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
28 October 2009 – 1 November 2009
Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Alternatives 2009 – Save the Date

This is an event funded by the US federal government. From their 
publicity material: This is the largest national annual mental health 
conference organized by and for people with psychiatric labels. Each 
Alternatives conference offers technical assistance on peer-delivered 
services and self-help/recovery methods. Deadline for scholarship 
application to federal government: 5 June 2009.

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Filed under CS/X movement, Mental Hell Treatment, mindfreedom news

Ray Update from MindFreedom

MindFreedom News – 15 April 2009
Nonviolent Revolution in Mental Health
http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray – please forward

    Ray Sandford Declares “Guarded Victory” for MindFreedom Ray Campaign

    Because of Public Pressure, Ray’s Psychiatrist May Quit Case

The bad news is that this morning, 15 April 2009, Ray Sandford of 
Minnesota had another involuntary, outpatient electroshock, also 
known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.

The good news is today’s forced electroshock could be Ray’s last.

Maybe.

Ray Sandford called the MindFreedom office this afternoon to say that 
because of growing public pressure, Ray’s main psychiatrist Dean K. 
Knudson plans to quit as Ray’s psychiatrist. Dr. Knudson has been 
ordering the forced electroshocks.

If Ray is quickly assigned a new psychiatrist more sensitive to Ray’s 
human rights and need for humane alternatives, then Ray could be free 
of his ongoing forced electroshocks. Ray has had more than 40.

Dr. Knudson had scheduled Ray’s next forced shock for 30 days from 
today. The court order allowing Ray’s forced electroshock does not 
mandate the psychiatrist to prescribe it.

Ray said that his general guardian, Tonya Wilhelm of Lutheran Social 
Service, told Ray in a phone call today that she had talked to Dr. 
Knudson personally. According to her, Dr. Knudson’s insurance company 
expressed concern to him about the enormous grassroots campaign that 
MindFreedom is building to stop Ray’s forced electroshocks.

RAY CAMPAIGN TO CONTINUE

“Tonya told me that because of all the controversy, Dr. Knudson’s 
insurance company may force him to stop being my psychiatrist,” said 
Ray. “Absolutely this is a guarded victory. I want to be sure to 
thank people for their diligence, and for everything they’re doing to 
support me.”

David W. Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International commented, 
“Today is USA Tax Day. If Ray’s supporters keep it up, it looks like 
taxpayers may get a break, and not waste their money torturing Ray 
any more.”

The Ray Campaign will continue, said Oaks. “We need to stay vigilant 
about Ray’s rights, make sure Dr. Knudson quits, and help Ray find a 
better lead mental health professional pronto.”

The Ray Campaign also raises a question: How many other Ray’s are there?

Said Oaks, “It is proven beyond a doubt that there are others 
throughout the USA and internationally who are getting electroshock 
over their clearly expressed wishes. Every USA state and every nation 
needs a ‘Ray Law’ to stop this nightmare forever.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ACTION ACTION ACTION

*** PLEASE SHARE THE GOOD NEWS OF THE RAY CAMPAIGN’S “GUARDED VICTORY”!

Forward this alert to appropriate places on and off Internet!

*** LEARN ABOUT THE RAY CAMPAIGN!

For background including Ray Frequently Asked Questions, Ray’s Web of 
Links, YouTube video of Ray and his mom, National Public Radio 
coverage
, how to participate in campaign, and more, see:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray

*** UNITY WORKS!

MindFreedom International unites to take action for a nonviolent 
revolution in the mental health system.

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Filed under CS/X movement, Links: Recovery, mindfreedom news, wellness and systems change

Study 15

From the Washington Post:

A Silenced Drug Study Creates An Uproar

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 18, 2009; A01

 

The study would come to be called “cursed,” but it started out just as Study

15.

It was a long-term trial of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. The common wisdom

in psychiatric circles was that newer drugs were far better than older drugs,

but Study 15’s results suggested otherwise.

As a result, newly unearthed documents show, Study 15 suffered the same fate as

many industry-sponsored trials that yield data drugmakers don’t like: It got

buried. It took eight years before a taxpayer-funded study rediscovered what

Study 15 had found — and raised serious concerns about an entire new class of

expensive drugs.

Study 15 was silenced in 1997, the same year Seroquel was approved by the Food

and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia. The drug went on to be

prescribed to hundreds of thousands of patients around the world and has earned

billions for London-based AstraZeneca International — including nearly $12

billion in the past three years.

The results of Study 15 were never published or shared with doctors, even as

less rigorous studies that came up with positive results for Seroquel were

published and used in marketing campaigns aimed at physicians and in television

ads aimed at consumers. The results of Study 15 were provided only to the Food

and Drug Administration — and the agency has strenuously maintained that it

does not have the authority to place such studies in the public domain.

AstraZeneca spokesman Tony Jewell defended the Seroquel research and said the

company had disclosed the drug’s risks. Since 1997, the drug’s labeling has

noted that weight gain and diabetes were seen in study patients, although the

company says the data are not definitive. The label states that the metabolic

disorders may be related to patients’ underlying diseases.

The FDA, Jewell added, had access to Study 15 when it declared Seroquel safe

and effective. The trial, which compared patients taking Seroquel and an older

drug called Haldol, “did not identify any safety concerns,” AstraZeneca said in

an e-mail. Jewell added, “A large proportion of patients dropped out in both

groups, which the company felt made the results difficult to interpret.”

The saga of Study 15 has become a case study in how drug companies can control

the publicly available research about their products, along with other

practices that recently have prompted hand-wringing at universities and

scientific journals, remonstrations by medical groups about conflicts of

interest, and threats of exposure by trial lawyers and congressional watchdogs.

Even if most doctors are ethical, corporate grants, gifts and underwriting have

compromised psychiatry, said an editorial this month in the American Journal of

Psychiatry, the flagship journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

“The public and private resources available for the care of our patients depend

upon the public perception of the integrity of our profession as a whole,”

wrote Robert Freedman, the editor in chief, and others. “The subsidy that each

of us has been receiving is part of what has fueled the excesses that are

currently under investigation.”

Details of Study 15 have emerged through lawsuits now playing out in courtrooms

nationwide alleging that Seroquel caused weight gain, hyperglycemia and

diabetes in thousands of patients. The Houston-based law firm Blizzard,

McCarthy & Nabers, one of several that have filed about 9,210 lawsuits over

Seroquel, publicized the documents, which show that the patients taking

Seroquel in Study 15 gained an average of 11 pounds in a year — alarming

company scientists and marketing executives. A Washington Post analysis found

that about four out of five patients quit taking the drug in less than a year,

raising pointed doubts about its effectiveness.

An FDA report in 1997, moreover, said Study 15 did offer useful safety data.

Mentioning few details, the FDA said the study showed that patients taking

higher doses of the drug gained more weight.

In approving Seroquel, the agency said 23 percent of patients taking the drug

in all studies available up to that point experienced significant weight

increases, compared with 6 percent of control-group patients taking sugar

pills. In 2006, FDA warned AstraZeneca against minimizing metabolic problems in

its sales pitches.

In the years since, taxpayer-funded research has found that newer antipsychotic

drugs such as Seroquel, which are 10 times as expensive, offer little advantage

over older ones. The older drugs cause involuntary muscle movements known as

tardive dyskinesia, and the newer ones have been linked to metabolic problems.

Far from dismissing Study 15, internal documents show that company officials

were worried because 45 percent of the Seroquel patients had experienced what

AstraZeneca physician Lisa Arvanitis termed “clinically significant” weight

gain.

In an e-mail dated Aug. 13, 1997, Arvanitis reported that across all patient

groups and treatment regimens, regardless of how numbers were crunched,

patients taking Seroquel gained weight: “I’m not sure there is yet any type of

competitive opportunity no matter how weak.”

In a separate note, company strategist Richard Lawrence praised AstraZeneca’s

efforts to put a “positive spin” on “this cursed study” and said of Arvanitis:

“Lisa has done a great ‘smoke and mirrors’ job!”

Two years after those exchanges, in 1999, the documents show that the company

presented different data at an American Psychiatric Association conference and

at a European meeting. The conclusion: Seroquel helped psychotic patients lose

weight.

The claim was based on a company-sponsored study by a Chicago psychiatrist, who

reviewed the records of 65 patients who switched their medication to Seroquel.

It found that patients lost an average of nine pounds over 10 months.

Within the company, meanwhile, officials explicitly discussed misleading

physicians. The chief of a team charged with getting articles published, John

Tumas, defended “cherry-picking” data.

“That does not mean we should continue to advocate” selective use of data, he

wrote on Dec. 6, 1999, referring to a trial, called COSTAR, that also produced

unfavorable results. But he added, “Thus far, we have buried Trials 15, 31, 56

and are now considering COSTAR.”

Although the company pushed the favorable study to physicians, the documents

show that AstraZeneca held the psychiatrist in light regard and had concerns

that he had modified study protocols and failed to get informed consent from

patients. Company officials wrote that they did not trust the doctor with

anything more complicated than chart reviews — the basis of the 1999 study

showing Seroquel helped patients lose weight.

For practicing psychiatrists, Study 15 could have said a lot not just about

safety but also effectiveness. Like all antipsychotics, Seroquel does not cure

the diseases it has been approved to treat — schizophrenia and bipolar

disorder — but controls symptoms such as agitation, hallucinations and

delusions. When government scientists later decided to test the effectiveness

of the class of drugs to which Seroquel belongs, they focused on a simple

measure — how long patients stayed on the drugs. Discontinuation rates, they

decided, were the best measure of effectiveness.

Study 15 had three groups of about 90 patients each taking different Seroquel

doses, according to an FDA document. Approximately 31 patients were on Haldol.

The study showed that Seroquel failed to outperform Haldol in preventing

psychotic relapses.

In disputing Study 15’s weight-gain data, company officials said they were not

reliable because only about 50 patients completed the year-long trial. But even

without precise numbers, this suggests a high discontinuation rate among

patients taking Seroquel. Even if every single patient taking Haldol dropped

out, it appears that at a minimum about 220 patients — or about 82 percent of

patients on Seroquel — dropped out.

Eight years after Study 15 was buried, an expensive taxpayer-funded study

pitted Seroquel and other new drugs against another older antipsychotic drug.

The study found that most patients getting the new and supposedly safer drugs

stopped taking them because of intolerable side effects. The study also found

that the new drugs had few advantages. As with older drugs, the new medications

had very high discontinuation rates. The results caused consternation among

doctors, who had been kept in the dark about trials such as Study 15.

The federal study also reported the number of Seroquel patients who

discontinued the drug within 18 months: 82 percent.

Jeffrey Lieberman, a Columbia University psychiatrist who led the federal

study, said doctors missed clues in evaluating antipsychotics such as Seroquel.

If a doctor had known about Study 15, he added, “it would raise your eyebrows.”

ascent_of_mount_carmel_

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Filed under CS/X movement, Mental health recovery, politics, wellness and systems change

News from MindFreedom and other discussions

It’s been a while since I posted information from MFI or other mental health consumer discussion, so, here, from old to newer; have a full bowl-

picasso_donquixote

NY Times says minor reform is not enough, but stops short of calling
for what is needed: Laws that criminalize extreme psychiatric
corruption. Please forward. See BOTTOM for actions, including
nonviolent protest, you can take.

lunar2009

~~~~~~~~~~
New York Times Editorial – 4 January 2009

No Mugs, but What About Those Fees

New pharmaceutical industry guidelines should stop most drug
companies from distributing a wide range of trinkets and office
supplies designed to keep their brand names before doctors as a
subliminal inducement to prescribe high-priced drugs.

The new code, which kicked in on New Year’s Day, bars the free
distribution of everything from pens to coffee mugs and staplers by
some 40 drug companies that have agreed to the restrictions. That may
seem like small potatoes, but in the aggregate the promotional
products probably cost about $1 billion a year, as Natasha Singer
reported in The Times. The updated rules are the industry’s latest
attempt to restore public confidence that doctors are prescribing
medicines in the patient’s interest. The code still has too many
loopholes.

Although it prohibits company sales representatives from providing
restaurant meals to health care professionals, it allows the sales
teams to continue providing modest meals in professional offices
while pitching their products. It allows companies to continue paying
for so-called continuing medical education for physicians while
correctly leaving the selection of content, speakers and study
materials to conference organizers. There appear to be no loopholes
in bans against providing free tickets to the theater, sporting
events or resort junkets.

None of the steps yet contemplated by industry or professional groups
would completely sever the medical profession and many individual
doctors from their far more disturbing financial ties to the drug
industry.

Over the years, prominent physicians have received hefty fees for
conducting research, consulting or giving “educational” speeches
touting the virtues of drugs to their colleagues. The new industry
code would limit consultants’ fees to “fair market value,” but
critics believe that still leaves far too much room to pay individual
doctors handsomely.

Two investigations now under way at prominent universities show how
much more needs to be done to aerate undisclosed conflicts of interest.

A prominent psychiatrist at Emory University is accused of taking
large payments from a drug maker – and misleading his university
about the amounts – while heading a government study of the company’s
antidepressant drugs. Three psychiatrists at Harvard whose work
fueled an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs to
treat children are accused of failing to report large payments from
the drug makers, most of which they had not disclosed to their
institutions.

Congress needs to pass legislation that would force all drug and
medical-device companies to report a wide range of payments to
doctors through a national registry so that all conflicts are known.
This is a reform that the industry itself now seems willing to
accept. Better yet, the medical profession needs to wean itself
almost entirely from its pervasive dependence on industry money.

~~~~~~~~~~
** ACTION ** ACTION ** ACTION **

Please forward

~~~~~~~~~~
You may e-mail letter to editor of *LESS* THAN 150 WORDS to The NY
Times here: letters@nytimes.com. Include your contact info. Letters
referring to a recent NY Times editorial have a better chance of
being run.

~~~~~~~~~~
Link to editorial:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/opinion/05mon1.html

or

http://tinyurl.com/nytimes-psychiatry

~~~~~~~~~~
MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Thought financial industry corruption was bad? Psychiatric industry
corruption kills kids.

Put psychiatric abusers behind bars. MindFreedom calls for new laws
and enforcement of current laws mandating prison time for extreme
psychiatric human rights violations.

Join nonviolent protests of psychiatric drug money corruption in
front of American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting Exhibit Hall
at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, or WHEREVER you are, 17 to 18 May
2009
. Info about this and other events:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/events_sf

~~~~~~~~~~
Read more about USA Congressional investigation of psychiatric
profession here, including past NY Times articles and editorials:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/psych-drug-corp/congress

~~~~~~~~~~
To thank USA Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for leading the
congressional investigation use this web form:

http://grassley.senate.gov/contact.cfm

mp_yb

MindFreedom News – January 2009
http://www.mindfreedom.org – please forward

Another forced electroshock for Ray. ZAP BACK!

Join global nonviolent resistance ONLINE!

This Saturday, 10 January 2009, 2 pm ET, 11 am PT click into:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/davidwoaks

Live Free MindFreedom Mad Pride Web Radio – Special ZAP BACK SHOW.

Ray will be woken up early in his “Victory House” group home near
Minneapolis again this morning, Wednesday, 7 January 2009.

Ray Sandford is scheduled for another forced electroshock.

Under a court order and over his expressed wishes, he’ll be escorted
the few miles to Mercy Hospital, put under anesthesia, and given
another “electroconvulsive therapy” or ECT through his brain.

Ray says, “It is scary as hell every time I go.”

Today, involuntary electroshock continues for Ray and many others all
over the world.

houraidl4

New York Times Article:

Lilly Said to Be Near $1.4 Billion U.S. Settlement

By GARDINER HARRIS and ALEX BERENSON
Published: January 14, 2009

Eli Lilly, the drug company, is expected to agree as soon as Thursday to pay $1.4 billion to settle criminal and civil charges that it illegally marketed its blockbuster antipsychotic drug Zyprexa for unauthorized use in patients particularly vulnerable to its risky side effects.

Today’s Business: Gardiner Harris on the Eli Lilly Settlement
Related
Plea Agreement (U.S. v. Eli Lilly and Co.) (Findlaw.com>

Details of the agreement were provided by people involved in the negotiations.

Among the charges, Lilly has been accused of a scheme stretching for years to persuade doctors to prescribe Zyprexa to two categories of patients — children and the elderly — for whom the drug was not federally approved and in whom its use was especially risky.

In one marketing effort, the company urged geriatricians to use Zyprexa to sedate unruly nursing home patients so as to reduce “nursing time and effort,” according to court documents. Like other antipsychotic drugs, Zyprexa increases the risks of sudden death, heart failure and life-threatening infections like pneumonia in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis.

The company also pressed doctors to treat disruptive children with Zyprexa, court documents show, even though the medicine’s tendency to cause severe weight gain and metabolic disorders is particularly pronounced in children. Over the last decade, Zyprexa’s use in children has soared.

The case is being prosecuted by the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Patricia Hartman, a spokeswoman for the office, declined to comment.

Angela Sekson, a Lilly spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the status of the Zyprexa negotiations. Last fall, the company, anticipating a settlement, had set aside $1.4 billion for that purpose.

The amount of the settlement is a record sum for so-called corporate whistle-blower cases, which are federal lawsuits prompted by tips from company employees or former employees. In this case, the whistle-blowers have not been publicly identified.

Lilly executives have for years insisted that the company’s Zyprexa marketing efforts were legal and appropriate. When asked whether she could repeat those assurances, Ms. Sekson said, “It would be inappropriate for me to comment further right now.”

It could not be confirmed on Wednesday whether the company would acknowledge wrongdoing as part of the settlement. Without a settlement, Lilly risks being barred from participating in the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs — a huge part of its business — even though such bans are almost unheard of for big drug makers because their products are considered so essential.

In the United States, most of Zyprexa’s sales are paid for by government programs because so many of those taking Zyprexa are indigent or disabled. Zyprexa had sales of $4.8 billion in 2007, making it the biggest seller by far for Lilly, whose revenue that year was $18.6 billion. Depending on dosage, the drug can cost as much as $25 for a daily pill.

The settlement may have little impact on how doctors actually use Zyprexa, because physicians are free to prescribe drugs as they see fit. But drug makers are barred from promoting drugs for uses not specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Zyprexa has F.D.A. approval only for the treatment of schizophrenia and the mania and agitation associated with bipolar disorder.

Zyprexa has generated more than $39 billion in sales since its approval in 1996, making it one of the biggest-selling drugs in the world.

And despite mounting concern about Zyprexa’s risks and the negative publicity surrounding the legal case, sales were $3.5 billion for the first nine months of 2008, 2 percent higher than in the first nine months of 2007. Prescriptions for the drug actually declined, but Lilly raised prices on the drug enough to increase its revenues.

Zyprexa was initially received as a significant advance over an earlier generation of antipsychotic drugs. But a series of landmark studies in recent years have cast doubt on that long-held view and suggested that Zyprexa is no better than older drugs that sell for far less.

A government study published in September, for instance, found that Zyprexa was no more effective in children than an older medicine but caused more serious side effects. The children receiving Zyprexa gained so much weight during the study that a safety monitoring panel ordered that they be taken off the drug.

In December 2006 articles in The New York Times detailed hundreds of internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages among top company managers that showed how the company sought for years to play down Zyprexa’s tendency to cause weight gain and metabolic disorders, including diabetes, while promoting unapproved uses.

One 2000 e-mail message, for instance, described how a group of diabetes doctors that Lilly had retained to consider potential links between Zyprexa and diabetes had warned the company that “unless we come clean on this, it could get much more serious than we might anticipate.”

After those articles were published, Lilly threatened to seek criminal contempt charges against Dr. David Egilman, a Massachusetts physician and associate clinical professor at Brown University, who made the documents available to The Times. In September 2007, Dr. Egilman agreed to pay Lilly $100,000 in return for the company’s agreement to drop the threat of criminal sanctions.

On Wednesday, Dr. Egilman said he felt vindicated by the imminent settlement. “I’m glad Lilly is acknowledging their wrongdoing,” he said. “Patients and doctors now know more about the side effects of the drugs they take.”

The government’s case will remain sealed until at least Thursday, when a judge is expected to approve the settlement. People involved in the negotiations say that prosecutors pressed for a resolution in the waning days of the Bush administration to avoid having to get another set of approvals from new bosses at the Justice Department in Washington.

While the settlement is intended to resolve all pending government claims, it is unclear whether all states, which are parties to the case through the federal-state Medicaid program, have agreed to the terms.

Some of the claims and evidence in the government’s case are similar to those made in a pending California state whistle-blower lawsuit in which Jaydeen Vicente, a former Lilly sales representative, described years of what she said were illegal Zyprexa marketing efforts.

Ms. Vicente and other Lilly sales representatives distributed a Lilly study contending that elderly patients who were prescribed the drug “required fewer skilled nursing staff hours than patients prescribed other competing medications” and reduced “caregiver distress,” the lawsuit states. Zyprexa often induces sleep in patients.

“In truth, this was Lilly’s thinly veiled marketing of Zyprexa as an effective chemical restraint for demanding, vulnerable and needy patients,” the lawsuit states.

In October, Lilly agreed to pay $62 million to 32 states and the District of Columbia to settle consumer protection claims related to Zyprexa. It has also paid the state of Alaska $15 million to settle a separate suit and agreed to pay $1.2 billion to 31,000 Zyprexa plaintiffs. Some private Zyprexa claims remain unresolved.

mad-in-americajun03b

MindFreedom News – 14 January 2009
http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray – please forward

Another forced electroshock for Ray Sandford today.

Decision: Protest the mental health system, or not?

by David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

As I e-mail out this message, Ray Sandford is being escorted again
this Wednesday morning, 14 January 2009, from his group home near
Minneapolis, Minnesota to Mercy Hospital for another involuntary,
maintenance, outpatient electroshock under court order.

There is a decision each and every one of us needs to make.

It is the same decision Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks
and thousands of others in the civil rights movement had to make.

To protest, or not?

One of my resolutions for 2009 is to nonviolently protest.

Ray — summoning that unstoppable human spirit that always impresses
me in so many psychiatric survivors — asks us to protest.

Survivors of electroshock human rights violations on the MindFreedom
“Zapback” e-mail list, where the Ray Campaign is being coordinated,
also say it’s time to protest the mental health system.

There are many ways, times, places and reasons to protest.

But it begins with a decision.

Ray’s forced electroshock today is not a fluke.

Ray’s forced shock is not because the mental health system lacks
money, though good programs need more resources.

Ray’s forced shock is not because of a few “bad apples” in the mental
health system
.

Ray is surrounded by an array of taxpayer-funded agencies and
professionals who are charged with protecting and helping Ray.

Ray has had court hearings represented by a court-appointed attorney.
He has a conservator, general guardian and a guardian ad litem.
Minnesota legal advocacy, ombudsman and mental health consumer groups
are well aware of Ray’s shock. Minnesota’s Governor Pawlenty has
received hundreds of complaints. MindFreedom filed a torture
complaint with the United Nations.

The headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
[ELCA], whose six Synods in Minnesota own Ray’s guardian agency
LSSMN, say they have been inundated with hundreds of complaints.
Their official response: They’re not in charge of Ray’s shock, though
we never said they were. We asked ELCA to stand up publicly against
forced electroshock, they refuse.

Ray’s forced shock is a sign and symptom of how extremely oppressive
today’s mental health system remains, and how so much of our society
is complicit with this oppression.

Ray’s forced shock is an excruciatingly painful lesson and wake up
call to us all about an oppression so deep, it is seldom named: sanism.

Ray’s courage has educated so many people. Because Ray called the
MindFreedom office this Fall, many people now know forced
electroshock exists, and that psychiatrists sometimes give ongoing
“maintenance” electroshock. Many now know electroshock is often given
on an outpatient basis.

Many people now know that even Americans living in their own homes,
which are supposed to be our “castles,” out in the community, without
being convicted of any crime, can be court ordered to receive such an
invasive, potentially-irreversible procedure.

Now we know.

Don’t let this knowledge become normal. As MLK said, show your
“creative maladjustment.”

When I was an activist in the peace movement, there was a saying. “To
know, and not to act, is not yet truly to know.”

Reading about this on the Internet is not enough.

Each of us needs to decide and prepare:

Protest or not to protest?

When it’s time for a forced shock, Ray is told because preparation
must begin.

The day before, all food is removed from his fridge because to get
ready for anesthesia he cannot eat for a number of hours.

Then early in the morning staff wake him up and he is brought to the
hospital. Ray is put under anesthesia, and electricity is run through
his head inducing a convulsion. He wakes up with more memory and
cognitive problems.

Ray has had more than three dozen and he says, “It is scary as hell
every time I go.”

Ray’s forced shock is not because of a lack of public attention.

Hundreds have spoken out against this ongoing forced shock. Last
month, Ray’s plight was aired on National Public Radio. Ray’s own
elderly mother, a retired psychiatric nurse, has recently pleaded
with Ray’s psychiatrist to stop (since Ray is under guardianship, she
has no official say).

Most recently, Ray was sent to a neurologist for a check-up, but that
did not stop his shock.

The only change this past month is that instead of weekly
electroshock, Ray is now on a complicated pattern of every other
week, followed by every third week, back to every other week. Instead
of receiving his maintenance electroshock last Wednesday as Ray at
first expected, his shock is today.

Why are we surprised?

Based on the hard-won lessons of so many other groups that have
organized for their basic human rights, how can we expect real change
without protest?

In my 33 years in this field, I have seen many colleagues begin to
work in organizations and agencies that are funded by the mental
health system, and many of them are doing tremendously helpful and
crucial work. This work must continue, it’s a sign of hope.

Today it is common to hear mental health system leaders claim this
system’s values have changed to:

* Mental health consumer self-determination.

* Client empowerment.

* Advocacy and human rights.

* Recovery.

* Consumer-driven trauma-informed peer-delivered services.

And again, there are signs of hope.

But we ask:

Why is Ray Sandford getting involuntary maintenance electroshock this
morning?

Why is there a mental health “Abu Ghraib” operating before our very
eyes?

Why does forced electroshock and forced psychiatric drugging continue
in other states in the USA?

Why is forced electroshock growing internationally?

In my study of history, minor reform of psychiatry is not a solution,
minor reform is one of the problems.

Minor reform fuels more of the same.

When you hear a simple call for “more money” for the mental health
system
— without addressing the required fundamental change, watch out!

Remember Ray.

Truly, we need a nonviolent revolution in the mental health system.

Historically, nonviolent revolution requires nonviolent protest.

So there is one question now:

Protest, or not?

Protest begins with a decision. I hope you make that personal
commitment.

If you agree it is time for protest, please forward this to a
colleague and add in your own words, “I agree, it’s time.”

Remember Ray.

– David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

For links to latest news, Ray Campaign blog, and frequently asked
questions about the “No More Shock For Ray Campaign” go here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray

MindFreedom International
454 Willamette, Suite 216 – POB 11284
Eugene, OR 97440-3484 USA

lunacy-titleCrazy is not even the word for it:

Old news from an unknown source:

“A new generation of drugs is needed,” said Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “It is clear from this data that antidepressants are not the answer.”

Dr. Insel admits that another major treatment outcome evaluation study sponsored by NIMH, “Effectiveness of Adjunctive Antidepressant Treatment for Bipolar Depression,” the largest study yet, confirms that the widespread practice of prescribing antidepressants lacks clinical justification. The drugs were of no value for the treatment of depression thereby challenging US psychiatrists’ aggressive use of combined psychotropic drugs. U.S. psychiatrists’ “strongly held beliefs about the efficacy of antidepressants in treating bipolar depression” is not supported by evidence. The practice can be traced to the influence the drug industry has on U.S psychiatry.

The randomized, placebo controlled study was conducted at 22 major research centers participating in the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD). It focused on patients diagnosed with bipolar I and II who were treated with any mood stabilizer approved by the FDA with and without an antidepressant. Of 366 patients enrolled in the study, 179 were randomized to mood stabilizer and the antidepressant, Paxil, and 187 were randomized to mood stabilizer and placebo. The study was published online in The New England Journal of Medicine, March 28, 2007, and is available free: [Link] Eighteen of the 20 investigators have extensive financial ties to drug manufacturers.

Patients who were randomized to placebo rather than the antidepressant fared better in all outcome measures-except the switch to mania which was reported a fraction of a percent higher among placebo patients-20 (10.7%) compared to 18 (10.1%) of patients on mood stabilizer and Paxil. However, the validity of this outlying finding is uncertain. In his accompanying editorial, Dr. Robert Belmaker point out: “Patients who had become manic in response to antidepressants in the past would not have enrolled in the trial, casting doubt on whether the drugs are safe for all bipolar patients.” [Link]

Another confounding element–which is almost always a problem in psychiatric research–is prior exposure to the drugs: Dr. Belmaker notes: “Almost 90% of the patients in the study by Sachs et al. were using a mood stabilizer at randomization. Thus, the study does not address the possibility that antidepressants can cause mania in patients with bipolar depression in the absence of a mood stabilizer.”

And the STEP-BD authors report that some patients were also taking an antidepressant at the time of randomization which was tapered by 50% the first week and withdrawn by second week. Clearly the effects of prior exposure to these drugs and the effect of tapering (i.e. withdrawal symptoms) may bias the results. Nevertheless, the findings are clearly against use of antidepressants in this population.

Table 3 provides the primary and secondary outcome results of the 26 week study. The primary outcome was “durable recovery” defined as 8 weeks of euthemia (non-depressed). The result: 42 of 179 patients (23.5%) achieved “durable recovery” on mood stabilizer + adjunctive antidepressant compared to 51 of 187 patients (27.3%) on mood stabilizer and placebo.

Results of secondary outcomes: “transient remission” defined as 1 to 7 weeks of non-depression: 32 patients (17.9%) achieved “transient remission” on mood stabilizer + adjunctive antidepressant compared to 40 (21.4%) on mood stabilizer and placebo. Discontinuation because of adverse effects: 22 (12.3%) on stabilizer and antidepressant compared to 17 (9.1%) on stabilizer and placebo.

Finally, an unclear secondary outcome criteria “treatment effectiveness” defined as “50% Improvement from baseline SUM-D score* without meeting DSM-IV criteria for hypomania or mania.” No indication of a duration criteria is given. The finding: 58 (32%) of patients on mood stabilizer and antidepressant compared to 71 (38%) patients on stabilizer and placebo.

The authors acknowledge: “we did not study a “pure” placebo group (one in which no active psychotropic medication was administered) and hence cannot establish the effectiveness of treatment with a mood stabilizer alone.”

Dr. Insell got it half right: “It is clear from this data that antidepressants are not the answer.” However, why does it follow that “A new generation of drugs is needed” ???

What disorder of the imagination do mainstream psychiatrists in the U.S. suffer from that they cannot fathom a world beyond the “next generation” of drugs-all the more so, in light of the evidence that the second generation antidepressants and antipsychotics have proven not only no better than the first generation, but arguably worse ?

ca_suicidal
MindFreedom International – 6 February 2009
Mind Your Freedom in Mental Health
http://www.mindfreedom.org – please forward

Four (4) very brief MindFreedom news items for a nonviolent
revolution
in mental health:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) Academy Award and Forced Electroshock

Ray Sandford of Minnesota has now had as many or more forced
electroshocks as the fictional character portrayed in the Academy
Award-nominated film _Revolutionary Road_:

Thirty-seven (37).

Ray Sandford, though, is a real human being.

Involuntary outpatient electroshock re-started for Ray Sandford, and
is slated to continue indefinitely.

Unless everyone acts.

Last week MindFreedom reported that Ray Sandford postponed one of his
series of forced maintenance outpatient electroshocks because of a
health problem.

Ray phoned the MindFreedom office with the sad news that his doctor
approved him for another involuntary electroshock, and Ray received
it yesterday morning, 5 February 2009.

It looks like thousands upon thousands of united people are needed to
unite to stop involuntary electroshock for Ray, and many others. Let
that include you!

For more info on the Ray Campaign to Stop Forced Outpatient
Electroshock, see this gateway:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2) “Have a Heart – End Forced Electroshock” Show!

Next Guest on MindFreedom Mad Pride Free Live Web Radio:

Mary Maddock of Ireland — Electroshock survivor, author, and
community organizer.

On Valentine’s, Saturday, 14 February 2009, tune in for live free
Internet radio with MindFreedom, and guests that include Mary
Maddock, co-author of the book _Soul Survivor_. Mary is a MindFreedom
International board member who survived forced electroshock.

You can call in live using either your computer or telephone. We’ll
have the latest news about the Ray Sandford campaign.

Time: 11 am Pacific USA, 2 pm Eastern USA, 7 pm [1900] London UTC/GMT

More info on how to tune in every “Second Saturday” in 2009:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/radio

Get Mary’s book at MindFreedom’s Mad Market at http://www.madmarket.org

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3) Australia Electroshocking Toddlers

Australia is now electroshocking toddlers, including 55 children aged
four and younger, and two kids under the age of four, according to
news reports.

Read essays and news items here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock

In that folder you will find:

a) Essay by dissident psychologist Bruce Levine on Australia
electroshocking young children:

http://tinyurl.com/kid-shock
or
http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock/
electroshocking-toddlers

b) Essay by dissident psychiatrist Peter Breggin on same:

http://tinyurl.com/breggin-australia
or
http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock/
breggin-australia-electroshock

c) Australian news story on electroshocking kids, with statistics:

http://tinyurl.com/child-shock
or
http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock/child-
shock-therapy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4) World Health Organization leader praises MindFreedom International
and Executive Director David W. Oaks

In its legal handbook, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for
zero use of involuntary electroshock over the expressed wishes of the
subject:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock

WHO is the official health organization of the United Nations.

Benedetto Saraceno, MD, Director, Department of Mental Health and
Substance Abuse at WHO said some very positive words about the work
of MindFreedom International, and MFI director David W. Oaks, here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/about-us/david-w-oaks

psychiatry346185227_std

From the Independent:

Voluntary psychiatric patient fights for

freedom

By Tim Healy
Wednesday January 21 2009

A WOMAN yesterday asked the High Court to order her release from a psychiatric hospital, claiming her detention is not in accordance with the law.

The 69-year-old woman, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was admitted to the hospital on December 9 after being arrested by gardai.

She challenged this and yesterday a High Court judge ruled she had been lawfully detained at the hospital.

But the woman had taken separate proceedings, which opened yesterday, seeking her release when the hospital decided she should remain after she had agreed to be a voluntary patient.

The woman became a voluntary patient after an order committing her involuntarily was revoked on December 19 by order of a Mental Health Tribunal.

Last Thursday, the hospital refused to discharge her because it was not satisfied this would be in her best interests. The hospital invoked a provision of the Mental Health Act giving it power to detain voluntary patients.

Last Friday, the woman brought a second set of proceedings claiming the hospital has no power to do so because the MHT had already found she was not suffering from a mental “disorder” as required under law before a person can be committed involuntarily.

The case continues.

– Tim Healy

lunacy-kitten_with_a_gun

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Recovery Roundup- News and Views from the Movement

From MindFreedom:

Human Rights in Mental Health Alert – Please Forward

Calling All Human Rights Activists & Advocates: Support Ann L.!

New York State Citizen to be Forcibly Drugged on Outpatient Basis.

Ann L. says her forced psychiatric drugging makes her “sick and is torture.” But New York State is aggressively pushing for more forced drugging of Ann L. on an outpatient basis in her own community residence.

Ann L. is 50 years old, and says she has been in and out of the psychiatric system since she was 15. Ann says she was locked up for the past seven years in the notorious Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in New York, where she experienced years of forced psychiatric drugging.

Earlier this year Ann L. finally won her freedom.

She thought.

Ann got out of the institution and has been satisfied living in the community in the Irving Berkowitz Residence in West Brentwood. But now the State of New York is threatening to continue her forced psychiatric drugging while living at home even outside of the institution.

The State of New York is seeking to use “Kendra’s Law” to continue to administer forced psychiatric drugs to Ann L. using Involuntary Outpatient Commitment.

Ann L. (not her real name) states that she fears the forced psychiatric drugging will continue to debilitate her health and put her at risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Two independent nonprofit advocacy groups, MindFreedom and PsychRights, have determined that Ann L.’s situation is a priority. They are working together to support Ann L.’s bid for freedom in both the court room and the court of public opinion.

Stop the forced psychiatric drugging of Ann L.!

* * * ACTION * * * ACTION * * * ACTION * * *

Ann L. asks that you contact New York Governor Paterson. Use this web page:

http://161.11.121.121/govemail

or use this web link:

http://tinyurl.com/ny-gov

Phone: (518) 474-4623. Fax: (518) 486-4170

SAMPLE MESSAGE

Your own words & experiences are best. Please be civil but firm:

“I oppose the State of New York continuing the involuntary outpatient psychiatric drugging of Ann L. who is living in the Irving Berkowitz Residence in West Brentwood, New York. Please stop all forced psychiatric drugging in New York State.”

TALKING POINTS

1) Research shows that coercion is bad for a person’s “mental health.”

People subjected to forced psychiatric treatment have been shown to be at increased risk for drug dependence, disabling side-effects of medication, and suicide. Force can result in damage to self-esteem and the motivation toward recovery, as well as inducing or furthering fear and trauma.

2) People recover when they have a real choice among alternatives and volunteer services.

People recover when they are empowered to make their own choices, when they take responsibility for their own lives, and when they are offered hope. Under the conditions of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment this is impossible.

3) People deserve alternatives to psychiatric drugs.

Psychiatric drugging can cause additional mental and emotional problems, and can even kill. More humane and effective alternatives to psychiatric drugs ought to be offered for those who choose them.

4) Psychiatric human rights violations are life-threatening.

Research shows that people in the state mental health system die about 25 years younger than the general public. Remember the public death of Esmin Green who was denied any help while locked for 24 hours in a NY psychiatric emergency room.

ADDITIONAL ACTIONS

Please forward this alert to all appropriate places on and off the Internet.

It just takes a moment to contact additional New York State officials. If you can also phone or write that is helpful, but at least e-mail them. Be civil, be firm, don’t stop!!

Let them all know that forced psychiatric drugging is wrong and must be stopped!

Please contact these New York State officials immediately:

*** Assemblyperson Peter M. Rivera is Chair of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

He is a crucial elected leader focusing on the field of mental health.

Email: riverap@assembly.state.ny.us

Phone: (718) 931-2620

David W. Oaks to be “special presenter” at world

psychiatric congress

by David W. Oaks last modified 2008-07-24 13:06

Every few years, the World Psychiatric Association holds a World Congress. The WPA has invited MindFreedom International executive director David W. Oaks to be a “special presenter” at the Congress, which is in September 2008 in Prague.

David W. Oaks to be "special presenter" at world psychiatric congress

David W. Oaks, MFI Director, will address WPA.

Here is the title and abstract of the talk planned for the World Congress of the World Psychiatric Association by David W. Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International.

World Congress of Psychiatry

Document ID: WCP4323

MindFreedom International, Eugene, United States

David W. Oaks, oaks@mindfreedom.org

Topic: Ethics in psychiatry

Title: AN URGENT NEED FOR DIALOGUE ABOUT A “GLOBAL EMERGENCY” OF  HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN MENTAL HEALTH CARE

Abstract Body: The point of view of individuals who have experienced  human rights violations in mental health care, and the organizations  that represent us, need to be heard by psychiatric professional  organizations. Mediated dialogue must be encouraged between groups  representing psychiatric survivors and groups representing mental  health professionals.

We are not alone. Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, Director of the Department  of Mental Health and Substance Dependence at the World Health  Organization (WHO), has stated, “The violation of human rights of …  psychiatric services users and the recognition of their role and  rights as citizens are a main concern for WHO. WHO thinks that no  treatment can be credibly provided in a context which systematically  violates human rights. There is a global emergency for the human  rights of people suffering from mental health problems. I insist on  the word ‘global’ as people tend to believe that these kinds of  violations always occur somewhere else when, in fact, they occur  everywhere.”

Certain human rights controversies are especially pressing, such as  involuntary electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) against the expressed  wishes of the subject, and long-term, high-dosage coerced  administration of neuroleptic psychiatric drugs.

In a broader sense, though, if a family with a member in severe  crisis is primarily offered psychiatric drugs, when non-drug  approaches can work, this too is a kind of coercion. I respect an  individual’s right to take prescribed psychiatric drugs. However,  being offered only one choice is not really a choice at all. Creating  more non-drug voluntary alternatives has become a human rights concern.

Here is a link to the bio about David W. Oaks on the World Psychiatric Association web site:

http://www.wpa-prague2008.cz/Text/oaks

From Recovery from Schizophrenia (Ron Unger):

Radio Interview

Posted by Ron Unger on July 15th, 2008

An interview with me on “Madness Radio” can be found at
http://freedom-center.org/madness-radio-cognitive-therapy-ron-unger I talk about why I got interested in psychosis, mainly because of my own experiences as a young man that it seemed to me were understandable yet not likely to be understood by our current mental health system. Then I talk about cognitive therapy for psychosis and why I think it is a helpful and needed addition to the mental health field.

Download episode file directly:
http://freedom-center.org/audio/download/384/MadnessRadio-2008-07CognitiveTherapyRonUnger.mp3

Short Video Clip

Posted by Ron Unger on July 14th, 2008

Hugh Massengil videod part of a seminar I did, and posted it to YouTube. I’m discussing the relationship between cognitive therapy for psychosis and medications, and then talking a little about “what is psychosis” and the continuum between everyday errors and “psychosis.” If you want to check it out, it’s available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFjBnScM2Bk

Recovery Stories

Posted by Ron Unger on July 5th, 2008

Recently a couple people I know have put their recovery stories on the web. One is my friend Hugh Massengil, who got his story put on an official state website, even though his story suggests mental health treatment is almost completely off track, at least in its standard form. He is on a committee about increasing wellness among those with mental health diagnoses (very important given data that such people typically die 25 years earlier than average, often due to conditions that are aggravated by medication.) His story illustrates that wellness often is a result of successfully breaking away from traditional “treatment.” You can access his story at http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/mentalhealth/wellness/success.shtml

Another is the story of Oryx Cohen, who is one of the leaders at the Freedom Center http://www.freedom-center.org/ You can access Oryx’s story at http://www.familymentalhealthrecovery.org/2008TorontoRecoveryConf/TorontoRecovery08-OCohenCrashCourseWithPsychiatry.doc It’s a great read, going from his attempt to get his car to fly on the freeway (not very successful) to his attempt to get off psychiatric medications and have a good life (much more successful, though not without difficulty and one big slipup.)

Finally, I’d suggest checking out the video at http://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/2008/06/28/acute-psychosis-in-mania-and-schizophrenia/ It’s an overview of the perspective of psychosis as all about reorganizing the mind, as a positive process if the person gets supported in working through it in a good way. The video is well done and worth the time you will take watching it!

Also, check out this link:

http://www.successfulschizophrenia.org/

Thanks for reading,listening, paying attention.

My prayers go out to you and my wish that everyone you meet will be kind, gentle and wise.

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The world is so full of a number of things…

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

I digress….

had to post this picture:

Mental Health and Mortality

Per our last post, we reported that in Oregon one-third of people treated for mental health diagnosis die before age 50. If you add “co-occurring disorders”, 89 percent of people treated for both mental
illness and substance abuse die before age 50. These numbers are in line with but also in excess of the national data regarding mortality and mental health.

It’s important to note that the figures are based on people who are receiving treatment. It’s also key to point out that these mortality statistics are getting worse not better. Add to these findings the fact that the most significant factor involved in recovery from mental illness is the length of time one has received treatment; that is to say that the longer one receives treatment, the less likely they are to recover.

What conclusions can be drawn?

  1. Mental health treatment is possibly preventing people from getting well and
  2. Our advances in treatment (new drugs, etc.) are killing us faster and faster.

Is anybody listening? Not much, it would appear. In Oregon we are building a new state hospital system at a cost of half a billion dollars. Our mental health treatment centers and support agencies are stuck in a time warp, oblivious to the facts, ignorant of the potential for recovery and blindly pushing the drugs that are killing us at a rate unprecedented for any other major public health issue.

(Note on the incredibly simpleminded continued reliance on large public institutions: I am of the opinion that as long as we have a system that believes that “some people just have to kept in institutions”, we will have a system that incarcerates a large number of people in these settings. It is only when we say that “no one should be treated this way” that we will begin the to take meaningful steps toward an effective community approach to treatment and support. The state hospitals will continue to suck up the majority of the resources at the expense of real treatment, real recovery and real self-determination. The old arguments that we need these places because of “court mandated patients”, “public safety” and the less acknowledged factor of state employees’ unions who resist the shift to community agencies and settings are are all red herrings and scare tactics with no real value in the discussion. Between 1987 and 1999, with fits and starts, the state dismantled it’s large public institutions for people with developmental disabilities (Fairview Hospital and Training Center/ FHTC, the last and largest). The biggest factor in the process taking so long was the repeated arguments mentioned above. In the end, these all turned out to be empty threats that had no value other than their ability to slow things down. Meaningful, secure and recovery based supports can be engineered in the community. Oregon has already done it before. Some of you may say that their is no correlation or equivalence between these populations but that is also just a lie perpetrated by those who would hold back the future. Fairview held hundreds of individuals with mental illness, hundreds who were court-mandated and thousands of unionized staff. It was once a small city; It is now a field of weeds and grass. I was there. I worked at part-time Fairview in the 1970s and was involved throughout the process of it’s closure.)

The institution is not the only problem. Existing community services are often mismanaged, poorly staffed read the Annapolis Coalition report or in Oregon, the Governor’s report) and typically way behind in their acceptance of recovery and self-directed supports (compare your local clinic with the National Statement on Mental Health Recovery).

Are there any silver linings?

We have a consumer/ survivor movement that is gradually learning to work together and spread our collective wings. We have tiny (microscopic in a national sense) new programs that are consumer directed. use peer supports or embrace self-directed service models. We also have a growing emphasis (in Oregon) on “wellness” as a focus and recovery as a real possibility for all people facing mental health challenges (see: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/mentalhealth/index.shtml).

Gradually, the public mental health system is becoming aware of the impact of trauma in the lives of people with mental health issues. While some studies show that as much as 95% of persons with a mental health diagnosis are trauma survivors, our treatment programs are remarkable for their tendency to re-traumatize the afflicted. Effective treatment for trauma has come a long way but is still not widely used. At the same time we are seeing the long term effects of mal-treatment that ignores the trauma factor and leads to greater and greater difficulty in the individual’s ability to recover.

New thoughts are emerging and new ideas slowly joining the mainstream. This from a publication from SAMHSA:

Today’s mental health system has failed to facilitate recovery of most people labeled with severe mental illnesses, leading to increasing expressions of dissatisfaction by people using services, their families, and administrators. Only a fundamental change of the very culture of the system will ensure that the changes made in policy, training, services, and research will lead to genuine recovery. In accordance with the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health report, mental health consumers and survivors, representing diverse cultural backgrounds, should play a leading role in designing and implementing the transformation to a recovery-based mental health system.

This paper provides an outline of how consumers/survivors can catalyze a transformation of the mental health system from one based on an institutional culture of control and exclusion to one based on a recovery culture of self-determination and community participation. At the national policy level, this paper recommends that consumers develop and implement a National Recovery Initiative. At the State and local policy levels, State and local recovery initiatives are recommended. On the direct service level, the paper provides a road map for developing services, financing, and supports that are based on self-determination and recovery.

A recovery-based mental health system would embrace the following values:

  • Self-determination
  • Empowering relationships based on trust, understanding, and respect
  • Meaningful roles in society
  • Elimination of stigma and discrimination

Changing the mental health system to one that is based on the principles of recovery will require a concerted effort of consumers and allies working to bring about changes in beliefs and practices at every level of the system. The building of these alliances will require the practice of recovery principles of trust, understanding, and respect by all parties involved.

(The full article re: above can be found at http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/NMH05-0193/default.asp)

Another positive sign is the increasing clinical and scholarly acknowledgement of the role of spirituality in the recovery process (see: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0787947083.html, http://akmhcweb.org/recovery/rec.htm, http://www.mentalhealthworld.org/34ddnspirit.html, http://www.spiritualcompetency.com/recovery/lesson1.html to name a few resources).

Peer delivered services are supposed to be rolled out in Oregon during the coming year. The state has made necessary changes in it’s Medicaid Waiver to allow billing for peer mentors and service providers.

While the overall system seems to be riding a hand basket to hell, the growing awareness, solidarity and action emerging from the Consumer/ Survivor/ Ex Patient movement is on a collision course with the system that is, was and wishes to always be. It is either a slow motion train wreck or the harbinger of a revolution in mental health treatment.

Things are on the cusp of a change. Part of that change may need to be the collapse of the current system (including our current, mostly pitiful, community service models) under the weight of it’s own silliness. If it happens, this will not be a bad thing.
If all the case managers, therapists, pills and hospitals for treatment of mental illness disappeared over night…

On balance, would we be better or worse off?

On a completely different note:

Pictures I’ve found interesting lately-

windshield grime-art:

I has a cleaning…

Prince says “hai”

Always remember

To check the music page for new stuff.

BTW- I’d love to hear from you about your own music. Do you have any home recordings I can post? Please, no professional quality shite.

Finally,for today, a little video

Avalokiteshvara – Treasury of Compassion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7_cYRAIdTs

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