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More Rest Leads to Less Psychosis

A recent study showed that just a brief internet-based CBT intervention aimed at improving sleep was also effective in reducing paranoia and hallucinations.  (You can access an article about the study at this link and the full academic article at this link.)

This finding adds to evidence suggesting that educating people how to improve their sleep should be a basic part of helping people with “psychosis.”

This idea isn’t new, but hasn’t been taken seriously enough.  One might say, it’s so basic that it gets overlooked (especially by people who are sure psychosis is definitely the result of a special “illness” rather than perhaps just life problems that aren’t being dealt with adequately.)

A classic book on the psychodynamic approach to psychosis, “Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia,”suggests reminding people they have the option of “just resting” if they can’t sleep, and that 8 hours of resting is probably worth 5 hours of sleep.

I encourage something like the “just resting” approach, but I also suggest people try to meditate as they rest.  For example, a person might simply focus on the breath and then gently bring their attention back to the breath every time they get distracted.  People sometimes complain that this type of meditation is boring, and it’s especially hard to do this kind of meditation while lying down without falling asleep – but in this case, that’s not a bad thing!

One of the things that often keeps people awake, once they have gotten “keyed up,” is simply worrying about whether they will sleep or not.  Worry itself is activation and can prevent sleep.  So what I suggest is that people tell themselves they will either get into a good and restful meditative state – if they are awake enough to carry out the meditation successfully – or they will fall asleep, and it really doesn’t matter which happens!  In either case, they will get a decent amount of rest.

One site that has quite a bit on mindfulness to improve sleep is nosleeplessnights.

Anyway, I hope if you have any kind of difficulties with sleep, that you try out some of these ideas!

Expanding the Conversation: Talks on Hearing Voices, Oppression and Recovery

The Hearing Voices Congress of 2017 is over, but it’s not too late to listen to some of the key talks that happened there!

 

Other keynotes:
* Marty Hadge
* Akiko Hart
* Barry Floyd
* David Walker
* Val Resh

Check these out to hear some amazing stories, told with insight into some of the deeper issues we all face!

Many of these videos touch on issues of culture and cultural oppression, and intersections in identity, and how that all affects the altered states of mind that get called “psychosis.”

These are issues that will also be addressed at the ISPS-US Conference in Portland Oregon November 17-19, 2017, where the theme is “Psychosis in Context: Exploring Intersections in Diverse Identities and Extreme States.”  Note that Gogo Ekhaya Esima, featured above, will be a keynote speaker there where she will give a longer talk.  (Early bird discounts for this conference are only good till 9/17).

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Has Anyone Ever Fully Recovered From “Schizophrenia?”

When someone recently asked this on Quora, the first answer they received was the typical perspective offered by our mental health system.  It was stated that schizophrenia is a chronic biological illness, and that no cure exists.  The only hope offered was that many people with “the illness” can “lead productive and fulfilling lives with the proper treatment.”

I believe that answer to be horribly wrong in two respects.

  • First, it contains assertions not based on facts, and it suggests for example that schizophrenia is a “real illness” definitely based on biological differences and that people diagnosed with schizophrenia are only ever able to lead productive fulfilling lives if they continue to receive the “proper treatment.”
  • Second, since hope has been found to be one of the keys to recovery, and since this answer reduces any hope for full recovery, it functions as a kind of dark, self-fulfilling prophecy that impedes recovery.

So I offered the following answer:

The answer [to the question of whether anyone can fully recover from schizophrenia] is clearly yes. While it’s popular to say that schizophrenia is a biological illness, there is in fact no biological test for it, it is diagnosed when people talk and behave in certain ways for a period of time. And when researchers follow people who are diagnosed that way, they find that a great many of them no longer meet the criteria for the disorder when followed up later, and many of them have even very successful lives.

To give just one example: Daniel Fisher. Over a five year period, he was treated for schizophrenia, with drugs and a few hospitalizations. He then worked on recovery, became a psychiatrist, and eventually a national leader in the recovery movement. He got married, had kids, had a good life, etc. He did not continue to take drugs or to have the sorts of problems associated with “schizophrenia” and so he would meet any reasonable criteria for full recovery. He has written about his experience, and I recently reviewed his book “Heartbeats of Hope: The Empowerment Way to Recover”

I think it’s worth noting that when recovery is discussed in the mainstream mental health system, it is discussed usually in terms of working to regain a valued life despite continued illness.  I do believe that focus can be important, but as I argued in my article Moving Beyond Clinical Recovery AND Personal Recovery: Reclaiming the Possibility of Full Recovery,  it is only one side of the possibility of full recovery, which also involves getting to a place where nothing that might seem to be an “illness” remains.

For more thoughts about full recovery, and the possible role of mental health treatments in accomplishing it (or possibly getting in the way), see Questions and Answers About Recovery.

“Heartbeats of Hope: The Empowerment Way to Recover” – A Book Review

We seldom have a chance to hear from someone who combines the perspective of a long time psychiatric survivor and activist, with that of being a psychiatrist!  So, I was happy to read this heartfelt book by Daniel Fisher MD, where he brings together an integrated vision of what a wise and humanistic approach to mental and emotional crisis might look like.

Daniel starts by sharing his personal story, and that fascinating story alone is enough to make the book worth reading!  He outlines a variety of factors in his earlier experience that set him up for having a severe crisis, such as his taking on the role of “golden boy” in his family, the sexual abuse he received from a teacher, and his later efforts to suppress his feelings which he believed were interfering with his thoughts.  He then describes his “descent into the maelstrom” which left him mute and catatonic, followed by his being hospitalized and diagnosed with “schizophrenia.”  And then he describes what led to his recovery.

But few who recover become psychiatrists!  Daniel clarifies that this was not easy, as most psychiatric training is not set up to support those with humanistic inclinations, much less psychiatric survivors.  He wrote that “it seems that professional training and elevation in status tends to select out the qualities most essential for helping another human being through a crisis.”  But then when he sought support through a peer group, he found that now it was being in psychiatric training that was creating a barrier to fitting in and getting support!  The Mental Patient’s Liberation Front (MPLF) informed him that he could only attend as an ex-patient, not as a psychiatric resident:  but he felt unable to go as only half of himself.  Later, a group formed called Friends of MPLF, and he was finally able to get the support he needed and meet people like Judi Chamberlin, with whom he later collaborated.

While “schizophrenia” is often thought by professionals to be a “thought disorder,” Daniel’s story illustrates the way difficulty in relating to affect, to feelings and emotions, can really be at the root of the apparent “symptoms.”  As Daniel recovered, he learned to accept his feelings and his relations with others as central to his existence, and then this perspective informed his treatment approach once he did become a psychiatrist.

Regarding relations with others, he wrote that “something about being in deep relationship allows the variety of my seemingly independent selves to come together into a community of selves that I call my self.”

The later parts of the book explore what mental health care focused on healing looks like.  He emphasizes supporting personal empowerment, the promise of dialogical approaches, and the basic process of attunement through “emotional CPR.”  Detailed examples of how these approaches work are included.

As I read the book I noticed myself disagreeing about only one significant point.  That was in regards to a statement made that a person does not have to be off all medications to show “complete recovery” from “mental illness.”  This notion is supported by pointing out that many in our society take psychiatric drugs but maintain their social role and are not considered “mentally ill.”

I found that way of talking about the issues to be unclear and unhelpful.  First, I don’t think we should frame anyone as being in recovery from “mental illness” as that term is, as Daniel himself admits, not very helpful to describe what people go through.  And if we describe it instead as being a mental and emotional crisis, then it seems a bit contradictory to say that one is “fully recovered” from such a crisis and yet still in need of medical assistance.  It may be fine to point out that a person is no longer disabled by the crisis and is functioning as well as many who have never been hospitalized but who are taking psych drugs themselves to cope with less extreme mental or emotional difficulties; but I would reserve the term “full recovery” for getting to a place where no further “mental health” assistance is needed.  I think this is important, because we need to make it clear in the way we speak that outcomes where drugs are no longer needed are possible.  This is essential if we are to fight back against the system’s tendency to hook people on drugs without much hope of ever getting off.  Claiming that people still reliant on drugs are already “fully recovered” suggests that no further recovery is possible, and thus tends to cut off hope that getting off the drugs successfully might be possible.

There are those of course who would frame the whole concept of “recovery” as unhelpful, and as a term co-opted by the mental health system.  I would agree that there are problems with the term and with the way its meaning has often been twisted, but I think it remains important as something to talk about when offering much needed hope to people from whom almost all hope has been stolen.  “Heartbeats of Hope” makes a strong contribution to a possible future when hope for recovery will be kept alive within mental health treatment, and people in crisis will be offered human relationships and help in resolving the crisis, instead of being offered the currently popular mix of coercion, lies, and attempts to use drugs to suppress any and all unwanted responses to life difficulties.

“Psychosis: Key Psychoanalytic Concepts” – a webinar with Danielle Knafo

Danielle Knafo Ph.D. is a leader in the field of psychoanalytic approach to psychosis, so I’m very pleased she was the presenter for the ISPS-US webinar, “Psychosis: Key Psychoanalytic Concepts” that took place on 6/28/17.  See below for the recording.

I’m thinking this will be interesting not only for people who aren’t yet familiar with psychoanalytic approaches to understanding and helping people with psychotic experiences, but also for those who are familiar with these approaches but who might enjoy a review and hearing Danielle’s take on them.

In this presentation, Dr. Knafo explains key psychoanalytic concepts that help us to understand and treat psychosis or psychotic phenomena. These concepts include: regression, projective identification, psychic retreats, attacks on linking, islands of clarity, and finding meaning in symptoms. She emphasizes the discoveries, since Freud’s time, that have deepened the understanding of the psyche, allowing the attribution of meaning to symptomology, and permitting human encounters that initiate profound change through insight and communication.

Danielle Knafo, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst, and professor in the clinical psychology doctoral program at LIU Post, where she chairs a specialty concentration on Serious Mental Illness. She is also faculty and supervisor at NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is a popular speaker and a prolific author who has published seven books and dozens of articles on psychoanalysis, creativity, gender, psychosis, trauma, technology and perversion. She maintains a private practice in Manhattan and Great Neck, NY.

Danielle also made a written list of what she believes are good sources from which to learn more about this topic:

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From Madness to Mastery: Gaining Competence with Altered States

Is madness good for something?  If so, there’s something wrong with the medical conceptualization of it as simply an “illness.”  That’s probably why anyone who tries to identify anything good about “psychosis” or “schizophrenia” quickly finds themselves accused of “romanticizing” madness.

Of course, a lot of what happens in madness, or psychosis, for many people, is indeed quite terrible.  Both subjectively and objectively, lives can fall apart, and often do not come back together again.

But psychosis is not always so terrible, and for many, experiences labeled psychotic by mental health professionals have an appeal, an appeal that may be felt both at the time of the experience and even afterward, once the person has “recovered.”  Is this appeal itself just an illusion caused by the “mental illness” or is there something to it?

Because if there is something positive about psychosis, then perhaps what we really need is a balanced view, somewhere between “romanticizing” it as being all good, and “awfulizing” it as being all bad.

One metaphor for a more nuanced view might be found by considering the case of people who get lost in the wilderness.  [click to continue…]

Why Do People Go Mad? A Documentary

“I believe that we will look back on this programme as the moment when the biomedical public narrative finally started to change.”

That’s what Lucy Johnstone said in her review of the BBC Documentary, “Why did I go mad.”  You can access that review at https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/moment-narrative-changed and you can access the documentary itself at

Don’t be put off by some of the babbling about dopamine early on in.  As Lucy comments,

…much of the content of the first half of the programme was spliced with updates about this badly-behaved neurotransmitter, which for mysterious reasons sometimes misfires, over-produces, and generally causes its hosts to feel as if they are living in a sinister Banksy-style funfair (cue images of leering clowns, gargoyles etc..) We were told that ‘anti-psychotic’ drugs can keep dopamine over-production under control, although the sight of David counting out the numerous pills that, as a senior psychiatrist frankly admitted to him, are likely to contribute to health problems and an early death, suggested that these benefits are bought at a very high price.

The documentary moves on to much better stuff, pointing out lots of possible reasons people go mad due to things that happen to them, and also some of the innovative ways people are learning to go about getting better and managing things even while their minds continue to be different than average.

Rai Waddingham is one of the people featured in the documentary – and because she is up front about the difficulties she has had, she has found some people who watched the documentary now want to pity her.

She rebuts the idea that she needs pity in what I think is a great article, “Don’t Pity Me: Psychosis Gave Me Mad Skills”   The idea that something positive can come out of distressing states is one thing that can help counter the sense that one is “less than” others because of having gone through such experiences.

Anyway, check this stuff out, and let me know what you think!

Understanding “Psychosis” and How To Help: The Role of Online Courses

Unfortunately, at least here in the US, it’s rare for formal education to provide an understanding of “psychosis” that goes beyond a narrow medical model.

That’s why it’s important that more educational courses are being offered online.  These usually aren’t for college credit, but many do at least offer continuing education credits for US professionals, and they provide perspectives most often lacking in mainstream approaches.

Here’s just a few examples of the kind a things you might find:

I’m putting together a page where I’m listing all of the online courses I know of which present a wider understanding of how to help those who experience “psychosis”:  you can access that page here.

Training in Effective Therapy for Psychosis Should Be Widely Available

When I was trained to be a mental health therapist, I was taught how to offer therapy for  wide variety of psychological problems – but not for psychosis.  We were essentially taught that human problems were understandable up until a certain point, but beyond that ….”There Be Dragons!”  And these “dragons” could only be addressed by drugs, so people should simply be sent to the psychiatrist and not offered any therapy.

It is now more widely understood that “psychosis” is often an understandable response to life difficulties and trauma, and that therapy can at least often be helpful.  But in most locations in countries like the US, training in how to get started in practicing therapy for psychosis is simply not available.

To help remedy that, I’ve put a lot of time into putting together 2 online continuing education courses that people can take anywhere, to get a great start in learning to be effective in helping people recover from “psychotic” difficulties!

Online courses allow people to watch video lectures and demonstrations at their own pace, while also being able to ask questions in writing, and get answers (within a few days) as they go along.  The two courses (currently on sale) are:

CBT for Psychosis: An Individualized, Recovery Oriented Approach (5 CE credits),

and

Working with Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychosis:  CBT and Other Approaches to Understanding and Recovery (6 CE credits).  I’m the instructor for both of these courses.

The regular price for each course is $90, but they are available for less, just $50, at the above links.

Both courses provide both a deeply humanistic view of the difficulties involved in “psychosis” along with practical and understandable “evidence based” approaches to being helpful.  And both come with CE credits for most US mental health professionals (more detailed information about CE credits is available at this link.)

Registration gives you lifetime access to the videos and other course materials, you can go back and review them whenever you want.

What follows are descriptions for each course, followed by some testimonials from students: [click to continue…]

“Navigating” Recovery: Difficult When the Map is a Psychiatric Fraud!

I was recently asked to contrast my views on psychosis and recovery with those offered by NAVIGATE, a US government (NIMH) sponsored program aiming to guide early intervention programs for psychosis.  This inspired me to inquire into what NAVIGATE does tell people and families about psychosis and recovery.  What I found, unfortunately, was quite disturbing.

Navigate presents itself as a very humanistic program, with the goals of “helping people work toward personal goals and recovery.  More broadly, the NAVIGATE program helps consumers navigate the road to recovery from an episode of psychosis, including supporting efforts to function well at home, on the job, at school, and in the social world.”  The emphasis of the program is broad enough to include “Supported Employment and Education, Individual Resiliency Training (IRT), and Family Education.”

Unfortunately, while these mostly progressive components have value and may help some toward recovery, NAVIGATE includes them alongside a basically toxic collection of blatant misinformation about psychosis which is likely to have the opposite effect.

(I should note that what I write here is based on my review of specific sections of the Navigate Family Education Manual.  As far as I know other educational materials produced by this program may be not quite as bad; though it is also possible that they may also be worse.  What I do know is that the family manual is terrible enough to suggest the program as a whole is way “off course” from where it should be.)

Early on in my review of that document, I encountered this declaration, prominently made in a text box on page 92:

Psychosis is nobody’s fault:   People do not cause it.

Wow, really?  People “never” contribute anything to causing psychosis?  Believing that requires completely ignoring what is now a vast collection of evidence that shows that adverse childhood experiences, including various forms of child abuse, do play a large role in making later psychosis more likely.  That isn’t to say that people abusing other people is the only possible cause, but this claim by NAVIGATE that people never have anything to do with causing it is simply inexcusable.

The dishonesty of this statement sets my cynical side to wondering:  did child rapists and other abusers of children pay NAVIGATE to so brazenly exonerate them from being blamed for contributing to later experiences of psychosis in so many of their victims?

And providing this sort of misinformation doesn’t just benefit abusers and minimize the importance of fighting child abuse as a way to prevent psychosis; it also makes it more difficult for people who have experienced such abuse to understand what happened to them and to work toward recovery.  Even though their extreme experiences may be an understandable reaction to terrible things that happened to them, they are told there is no relationship whatsoever, and that the blame should go to their “psychotic illness.”

When children are abused, they are usually prevented from telling their story.   Being forced to keep what happened and all the feelings about it secret then alienates them from others and from themselves.  This alienation can later contribute to developing psychotic experience.  When professionals tell people that their psychosis has nothing to do with the abuse they experienced, they are contributing to the same process that the abuser began, just “piling on” more alienation, more lies, more abuse.

And even when the psychosis is not a response to experiences of child abuse, it can still be the result of various interpersonal events and personal reactions to those events, a result of various conflicts and misunderstandings.  When professionals tell people the psychosis is definitely not the result of any such events, the result is still more alienation that contributes to psychosis and makes recovery more difficult.

So why is NAVIGATE telling this kind of lie?  I imagine, if confronted, they might explain that not everyone who becomes psychotic was abused, and they don’t want parents to blame themselves when perhaps they did nothing wrong, and also they don’t want people to blame themselves for becoming psychotic.  Isn’t it better, they might ask, when no one feels blamed?

Well, no.  It is true that inaccurate or exaggerated forms of blame can be very unhelpful.  But placing blame where it belongs is the way we make sense of things, it’s how we learn to get in control of what we are doing and where we are going.  Identifying the way others hurt or confused us helps us get a sense we could seek out better relationships in the future, with better outcomes.  Identifying our own mistakes also allows us to become responsible for the direction of our life in the future.  We are only completely “blameless” for negative outcomes when we are completely helpless, and by telling people that no one’s behavior had anything to do with causing psychosis, a sense of helplessness is conveyed that is actually a huge barrier to recovery.

A better approach is for professionals to be uncertain about what happened to cause the psychosis and what is going on now, and to support everyone in exploring possible viewpoints or understandings, in a way that supports taking personal responsibility for mistakes but also seeks to avoid inaccurate or excess attributions of blame or responsibility.

But when professionals are uncertain, people and their families may come up with a variety of different understandings, and they might not arrive at a certainty that a psychiatric framework best describes what is happening and they might not decide that drugs are critical to making things better.  And that, apparently, is not acceptable to NAVIGATE.

So readers of the family education manual are informed, for example, that the duty of mental health workers is to “legitimize the psychiatric disorder” (p. 22).   This is framed as something kind and helpful to do for someone – the “symptoms” that are being experienced, we are told, are simply beyond the person’s conscious control, “trying hard” to change things does not work, and so people must be taught to understand them is as part of a “psychiatric disorder.”

I do agree by the way that simply “trying hard” to overcome difficult experiences etc. often fails – but we don’t need the concept of a “psychiatric disorder” to explain why that happens.  People often lack understanding of what is happening in their mind, and the things they then try to bring their mind under control not only often fails to work, but actually makes things worse!  Trying to control thoughts or voices for example often makes them become more intrusive.  And then as things get worse, people try even harder, resulting in escalating problems, creating a vicious circle.  It is this vicious circle which then seems so uncontrollable, and is easily framed as illness.  But the fact that people’s misguided efforts don’t make things better is not proof that nothing will work.  A better approach is to simply notice that life and our minds can be tricky, and people may need help figuring out what does work to manage things, but there usually is a way to do so even if it has not yet been discovered.

What people don’t need is “helpers” persuading them to give up trying to understand themselves or relate to their own experience, and convincing them to see psychiatric frameworks as the only “legitimate” way of comprehending their condition.

But getting back to the NAVIGATE manual:   once people have been convinced that the psychiatric diagnosis is “legitimate” then the next step apparently is to convince them it is definitely “biological.”

So people are first informed that “According to the stress-vulnerability model, psychiatric illnesses have a biological basis.” (p. 93).  And then “because both biological vulnerability and stress contribute to symptoms, treatment for psychiatric symptoms needs to address both of these factors.” (p. 94).

It is interesting to note that the stress-vulnerability model as first introduced did not describe vulnerability as always biological; it instead described people as possibly having vulnerability due to a number of factors, which might range from something genetic to many other factors, including such things as unresolved childhood trauma to dysfunctional beliefs.  The notion was simply that when vulnerability was higher, it would take less current stress to push a person toward psychosis.  As such, it was a reasonable and I believe helpful theory.  Unfortunately, this reasonable theory was soon distorted by biologically focused propagandists to frame vulnerability as always biological and further, always as something known to be certainly present in everyone who becomes psychotic.  The NAVIGATE program is unfortunately choosing to propagate the distorted version of the theory.

One way of challenging this distortion is to simply ask to see the research that shows that there is in fact a type of human being invulnerable to getting psychosis.  Of course there isn’t, and since as far as we know anyone could become psychotic when exposed to enough stress etc., then no one’s experience of psychosis can be taken as proof they have a greater degree of biological vulnerability than does anyone else.

And even if a person does have a specific biological vulnerability, there is no proof that treatment needs to “address that factor” as the NAVIGATE document claims.  To better understand this point, consider a person with fair skin, which can be understood as a biological vulnerability to sunburn.  There is no need to modify the person’s skin to avoid future episodes of sunburn – modifying environmental/lifestyle factors can provide a complete solution.   It seems perfectly possible that the same sort of approach could work for any biological vulnerabilities to psychosis.

But there is no room in the NAVIGATE model or educational materials for conceptualizing a rational approach to psychosis without a “biological” treatment.  To make sure drugs are prioritized, NAVIGATE even stoops to the old “biochemical imbalance” myth:

“Scientists believe that the symptoms are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.” (p. 101).  And “Medications reduce biological vulnerability by helping to correct the chemical imbalance in the brain.” (p. 102).

If NAVIGATE had simply informed us that “some” scientists believe that the symptoms of psychosis are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and that many others don’t, then there wouldn’t be much ground for criticism.  But instead they try to convince us that a scientific consensus exists around a notion of biochemical imbalances which actually lacks even realistic evidence, and then they frame the drugs as handily “correcting” the problem, even though the actual evidence suggests the drugs create a biologically abnormal state of suppressed dopamine, and that this in turn causes the brain to shrink, etc.

It is in fact a blatant fraud to convince people that a consensus exists about drugs reversing a known biochemical imbalance, when in fact that consensus does not exist and when better information suggests that the drugs suppress “symptoms” in only a minority of those who take them, and may in fact not only be ineffective in causing more good than harm in the short term, but also reduce chances of recovery in the long term.

Recovery, as you might recall, is supposed to be the primary aim of the NAVIGATE program.  Interestingly though, in the educational materials I reviewed, significant effort seems to go into reducing expectations for recovery!  The document speaks of the importance of “imbuing interactions with hope” (p. 5) but then the best possible outcomes they can cite are that “perhaps” as many as 20% might go on to live “relatively symptom free lives” (p. 6) and the possibility that “a small minority of persons with first episode psychosis (perhaps 10-20%) can live successfully even off medication.” (p. 114).

If NAVIGATE is really attempting to help clinicians “imbue interactions with hope” then they might try drawing numbers from, or even referencing, research that provides a bit more room for hope.    For example, they might point to the Vermont Study, which found that about 34% of a population of people who had been considered chronic and severe cases were able to be living successfully in the community, off mediation, 20 years later after being helped by a psychosocial approach.  Of course, if 34% of a “chronic” population can live successfully off antipsychotics, we would expect that a much higher percentage of people with first episode psychosis would be able to do so.   They might also mention research into Open Dialogue, finding that over 80% of people experiencing first time psychosis were living “relatively symptom free” at a 5 year outcome point, with less than 20% taking antipsychotics.

We don’t know where the NAVIGATE authors found their tiny estimates of how many might be able to fully recover and live without drugs.  But we do know that the overall effect of minimizing people’s chances for recovery, while also convincing people they are definitely biologically different in a way they can’t manage without drugs, is to discourage belief in the possibility of working toward true and complete recovery.

What is emphasized instead is the possibility of what might be called “recovery but still sick.”  The emphasis is on helping people reduce their expectations, so that they will aim only at having some successes in the lives despite continuing to have a biological mental disorder, and will resign themselves to believing they need drugs to correct their “biochemical imbalance.”

I do see lots of value in efforts to help people have a full life despite whatever difficult experiences they might continue to have – and I know that getting support in this way often does help people a lot.  But it’s just sad to see what are otherwise good ideas about how to help people being presented mixed in with poisonous lies designed to make people feel more helpless about managing and making sense of difficult experiences, and pushing them toward increased reliance on drugs.  People deserve honest and balanced information on these topics that allows them to make informed decisions for themselves, not lies designed to push them in a specific direction.

By writing this blog post, I hope to shame NAVIGATE, and NIMH which has supported it, into correcting their educational materials, so that people experiencing psychosis and their families have a chance to become honestly informed about what is and is not known about the sorts of troubles they are having, about chances for recovery, and what might be helpful and harmful as they try to work toward that recovery.

If you are interested in supporting ting this effort, please consider supporting this petition addressed to NAVIGATE and its sponsor, NIMH.  Thanks!

 

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