Fear, grief and despair are uncomfortable and are seen as signs of personal failure. In our culture we call them "negative" and think of them as "bad." I prefer to call these emotions "dark," because I like the image of a rich, fertile soil from which something unexpected can bloom. Also we keep them "in the dark" and tend not to speak about them. We privatize them and don't see the ways in which they are connected to the world. But the dark emotions are inevitable. They are part of the universal human experience and are certainly worthy of our attention. They bring us important information about ourselves and the world and can be vehicles of profound transformation. … [click on title to read and view more]
The war on grief
by Robert D. Stolorow The DSM5, the most recent version of psychiatry’s diagnostic bible, makes it possible to classify grieving that endures beyond a rather brief span of time as a mental illness. … [click on title to read and view more]
You’re invited to celebrate UNHAPPY HOUR
You're invited to celebrate Unhappy Hour. It's a ceremony that gives you a poetic license to rant and whine and howl and bitch about everything that hurts you and makes you feel bad. During this perverse grace period, there's no need for you to be inhibited as you unleash your tortured squalls. You don't have to tone down the extremity of your desolate clamors. Unhappy Hour is a ritually consecrated excursion devoted to the full disclosure of your primal clash and jangle. … [click on title to read and view more]
In memory of Robin Williams…
By Leah Harris Like millions, I am sitting with the fact that one of the funniest people to grace the planet has died by his own hand. Robin Williams’ death has hit people of my generation, Generation X, especially hard. After all, his face flashed often across our childhood screens. Mork and Mindy episodes were a source of solace for me as a little girl, as I bounced around between foster homes and family members’ homes, while my single mother cycled in and out of the state mental hospital, fighting to survive. I could laugh and say “nanu, nanu – shazbot” and “KO” and do the silly hand sign and forget for just a little while about living a life I didn’t ask for. “You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it,” may become one of Robin Williams’ most famous quotes. I was always struck by how he moved so seamlessly between wacky comedy and the most intense dramas. He was so magnificently able to capture the human experience in all its extremes. He threw all that intensity right into our faces, undeniable, raw, frenetic. He showed us our own naked vulnerability and sparks of madness and gave us permission to laugh in the face of all that is wrong in this world. … [click on title to read and view more]
The general argument here can be made about all labeled psychiatric disorders. Most often, they are not brain disorders as popularly understood in psychiatry, but instead a combination of many things in our lives and environments intersecting with our bodies, too. … [click on title to read and view more]
The Anti-DSM otherwise known as The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism
Psychiatry and psychotherapy obsess on what's wrong with people and give short shrift to what's right. The manual of these professions is a 943-page textbook called the DSM-IV. It identifies scores of pathological states but no healthy ones. Some time back, I began to complain about this fact, and asked readers to help me compile material for a proposed antidote, the Anti-DSM -- a compendium of healthy, exalted, positive states of being. As their entries came in, we at the Beauty and Truth Laboratory were inspired to dream up some of our own. Below is part one of our initial attempt at creating an Anti-DSM-IV, or as we also like to call it, The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism. … [click on title for the rest of the post]
Grief is subversive
I would like to suggest an idea for consideration. Much of what is labeled psychiatric disease is grief that has never been expressed or properly felt, or validated. If we have unexplored trauma, then it's likely we have unexplored grief too. Some of us need to begin a grieving process that never started in order to heal. Some of us have a life-time of grief that needs to be allowed and experienced. We can choose to challenge our culture's fear of grief and the dark emotions and begin to heal and turn it around. … [click on title for the rest of the post]
People often want to believe that depression has some distinct pathology. It does not. Clinical depression is very much a garbage pail term for feeling shitty and that may manifest in a large number of ways and have many different combinations of etiologies.
Freaking out therapist types: on being subject to the clinical gaze and the conditioned mind
An important thing to remember is that we’re always dealing with fear when we are confronted with disbelief about our lives free from psych meds. They are afraid of what we have accomplished and they are afraid of what we know. They are afraid that our message will harm people. Harm only comes if people are coerced. People need to do what they need to do wherever they are on their own self-directed path. That includes taking meds if that is what they are resonant with at any given time. That is the key thing to understand. Those of us who were harmed have largely been denied our experience and often forced to get treatment we knew we should not be getting. Folks who find psychiatry helpful have a hard time understanding that we’ve had a radically different experience. Many of us too have a hard time believing some folks have benefitted from what has so gravely harmed us. We must embrace our differences. .… [click on title for the rest of the post]
The emotional spectrum
Moods, mental states, emotions, feelings (negative and positive) exist on a spectrum. Human beings can experience any and all of the spectrum. It's not an illness to feel shitty, even really heinously shitty, sometimes. It's also not abnormal to get confused about the vast content of our psyches. This confusion can play out in numerous ways. Our society likes to pathologize these varieties of confusion. The DSM might be considered the book of pathologizing the human experience.
In fact given the state of humanity and the planet it's a healthy sign to be struck quite heavily at least some of the time by the seriousness of our times. We need only learn to be with ourselves -- body, mind and spirit. That is what, as a species, we've forgotten. It's what we need to relearn and it's what we need to teach our children. … [click on title for the rest of the post]
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