'This blog post introduces a hundred-day series of interviews on Psychology Today with folks from around the world committed to non-traditional ways of helping individuals suffering from emotional and mental distress.
Human beings can be helped in all sorts of ways: with better schools, cleaner water, less tyranny, more peace, and fairer institutions. Movements of the last hundred years have given names to these different aspirations for betterment: the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, clean air and clean water initiatives, and so on. Now another sort of “helping” is desperately needed.
We need a mental health movement that takes as its central tasks the following three:
1) Exposing the current, dominant paradigm that claims that human experiences of distress are “mental disorders” that are best treated with chemicals and talk
2) Providing alternatives to this paradigm and painting a broader, richer picture of what can help individuals in emotional and mental distress
3) Creating facilities, organizations, institutions, helpers and a worldwide mindset that support an updated vision of mental health care as human work and not pseudo-medical work.
There is no single slogan to hang from the rafters or rallying cry to shout out that captures the essence of this much-needed movement. But the following may come the closest: suffering isn’t a medical condition. It would be pretty to think that there can be pills to treat life.
Not so long ago women who disobeyed their husbands were diagnosed as hysterical. Slaves who wished to be free were diagnosed as oppositional. Men who loved men and women who loved women were diagnosed as deviant and certifiable.
What are the answers? We would love some short answers that are the equivalent of pills. Unfortunately, there are only long answers and, too often, no answers.
- Individuals in distress often do not make it easy for others to help them
- The challenges of life, from poverty to despair to meaningless work to failed relationships, are tremendously painful and radically difficult to ameliorate
- The particular causes of distress are invisible and unknowable
- “Helping” can only do so much when the problem is something as all-encompassing and debilitating as life itself.
How do we get from here to there? One way, having to do with creating a new helping professional of the future, shifting the focus and practice of current mental health professionals, and paying more attention to the communities of care and other institutions that already exist, is outlined in my new book The Future of Mental Health: Deconstructing the Mental Disorder Paradigm.
In this series I introduce you to people whose work you are likely never to have heard of. How much do you currently know about the Danish Hearing Voices Network? The Finnish Open Dialogue Method? The Australian Rogue & Rouge Foundation? Gould Farm, Rose Hill Center, or Skyland Trail? The free offerings of the British Psychological Society? Social therapy, humanistic psychiatry, or transformational coaching? I am guessing: nothing or next to nothing. You’ll hear about these and much more over the next one hundred plus days. These resources constitute a mosaic of great power and depth.
Georges Simenon, the Belgian novelist who wrote the Inspector Maigret mystery series and five hundred novels altogether, penned very short novels. When asked when he would finally write his “big” novel, Simenon explained that his “big” novel was the mosaic of his small novels. His “big” novel already existed: you just had to accept its form.
To learn more about The Future of Mental Health: Deconstructing the Mental Health Paradigm:
The Future of Mental Health: Deconstructing the Mental Disorder Paradigm - a book by Eric Maisel
To visit the Future of Mental Health website, which is home to a reading list of more than one hundred books in the areas of critical psychology, critical psychiatry and anti-psychiatry CLICK HERE
To subscribe to my weekly newsletter, which will keep you up-to-date on the interview series and provide you with live links to the week’s interviews:
http://ericmaisel.com/newsletter/(link is external)
If you have an RSS reader installed on your computer and would like to follow the series using RSS:
And to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail)
Please enjoy the series, which begins on Monday, January 18, 2016. And please do let others know about it!'