May 4, 2009

Mad developments

Category: Mad Movement,Pharma,Politics,Psychiatry — Biella @ 3:13 pm

There is a lot of madness when it comes to psychiatry. One recent example of madness–perhaps insanity– is this faux peer review journal. At least there seems to be a growing counter-current in medicine that wants to sever the umbilical cord between doctors and drug companies as well as a vibrant grass roots move to embrace a different politics in and of madness.

May 24, 2007

Just Say No

I am in SF now and saw that the local weekly just published a really good article on those who steer clear of psychiatric drugs, called Just Say No. It is quite good, check it out.

February 19, 2007

When More Is Not Enough

Category: Academic,Mad Movement,Pharma,Politics,Psychiatry,Research,Tech — Biella @ 12:28 pm

When More is Not Enough is not only clever parody but has such a nice fusion of content and form….

February 13, 2007

Survivor’s Voice

Category: Academic,Mad Movement,Pharma,Politics,Psychiatry — Biella @ 8:25 am

The Radical Journal of Psychcology has just published a series on the Survivor’s Voice and a lot of news continues to develop on the Eli Lily/freedom of speech case

January 20, 2007

The Fury over Zypexa continues, unabated

Category: Academic,Mad Movement,Pharma,Politics,Psychiatry — Biella @ 9:15 am

In the last few weeks the news, no really uproar, over Eli Lily’s suppression of data over Zyprexa, has in no way waned.

The EFF, thankfully, is on board, defending the rights of citizen-journalists to link to the Eli Lily documents and the New York Times continues with what is actually really impressive coverage and the news is making its way into other publications
(and here too.)

It now looks like (and I knew this would happen, it was just a matter of time) that state prosecutors are turning up the heat. Zyprexa is a priceeeeeeeeey drug, truly expensive, and since a lot of folks given the drug are on disability or medicaid, the state has been picking up the tab, so a few states, like Illinois and Vermont may be launching civil and criminal investigations, in part to recup their money.

December 17, 2006

Big News in Pharma Science

Category: Academic,Mad Movement,Pharma,Politics,Psychiatry,Research — Biella @ 10:40 am

So one of the darling drugs for bipolar disorder (and I believe schizophrenia) has been Zyprexa.. Marked by the pharmaceutical company as a wonder drug, for being safe and effective, it has just come out that Eli Lilly, maker of the drug, hid and downlplayed the severity of side-effects.

This is big because critics from survivors to academics and journalists and have been attacking pharmaceutical science for this very reason… This explicit revelation is thus pretty gynormous.

I am frantically getting ready to go to PR, so that is I can say but more later…

October 4, 2006

More videos, Open Minds

Category: Academic,Mad Movement,Politics — Biella @ 11:31 am

So so so, I finally hit a friend with a Mac to start getting the videos from the Open Minds conference is a compressed state and up online.

So far, I only have David Oak’s keynote speech up in part one and part two.

The sound quality is variable. Since the output from my camera was broken, when I was taping, I was not sure if it was a problem with my sound input, or microphone so I will fiddling with it. I started taping without my external microphone and then I used it and then I stopped and then I used it again. But you can hear it despite the changes in volume!

I may make a higher quality version available later for download for a short period of time.

Since I am “Macless,” it will take a while for me to get the others up. But here at U of A a new fancy Mac Lab will soon open and I will get an account and get at least one video a week up. Or perhaps I will get motivated and do most in one sitting.


September 27, 2006

Debian In Venezuela and Psychiatric Survivor Archive

Category: Debian,Mad Movement — Biella @ 8:49 pm

The first psychiatric survivor archive has kicked off in Toronto and Debian Venezuela is soon hosting a MiniDebconf. The word on the streets is that Chavez uses Debian.. Now that would be a great picture to see.

September 26, 2006

The Long Fire Of Political Action

Category: Academic,Mad Movement,Politics,Psychiatry — Biella @ 1:59 pm

All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

I have made it back from NYC after a pretty intense few days spent at the Open Minds Conference and Icarus-hosted workshops, “Get Your Freak On.” Both were incredibly interesting and I felt the ambivalent rush of excitement and fear that follows the prospect of working on a new project. While I have spent some time researching critiques of psychiatry, I have not spent all that much time with the people involved, academically and personally, in the various movements. And there is nothing like seeing in the flesh and blood some very passionate political work to get the intellectual excitement brewing.

The first time I went to a survivor conference and protest I was living in San Francisco, deeply involved in my hacker research. I learned about the movement from a civil libertarian John Gilmore, who drew inspiration from psychiatric survivors to develop his free speech arguments for drug legalization. I had never heard of them and was intrigued so I naturally poked around the web. And I was fortunate to find out that their conference was being held the following weekend less than 10 blocks from where I was living at the time. I made time to go and unsurprisingly, it was a powerful event, perhaps the most stunning conference I had ever been to. There was something awfully inspiring about a political movement in which the members had experienced heavy doses of trauma, often through heavy “doses” of “treatment” and yet found the energy, will, and life to engage in political action, and in a society that does most everything to dampen the fire of politics.

This weekend was no less inspirational. Even at the academic conference, the personal stories of trauma, survival, and the complex ethical decisions of “choice” in a landscape dominated by one medical model, erupted frequently. These were important eruptions that sometimes probably for some felt out of place in an academic setting where such outpourings are discouraged, buried deep away never to disturb the “calm” and “rationality” of talks. But without them, the conference would have felt dry, staid, and sterile, which would precisely have been the most disappointing atmosphere to have created for this environment.

All the talks were engaging and illuminating and it was great to see and hear many folks working on these topics and especially working to carve out a different political and somatic reality. For me, the talks by David Oaks and Jackie Orr were the most electric and hopefully I will soon get the videos of them as well as most others (as I (tried) to tape most of the conference) up for those who are interested. In the meantime, David Oaks has already
released his talk, which is worth checking out.

One of the more interesting parts of the conference was that it gave a clear indication of one of the great successes and strengths of the mad movement, which is its staying power, its ability to survive (even if not necessarily known to wider publics) generation after generation, which is more surprising given that the vitality of so many of the political movements of the 1960s and 1970s, vanished or languished. This continuity was marked by David Oaks keynote speech entitled “Unite for a Nonviolent Revolution in the Mental Health System: What 30 Years in the Mad Movement Have Taught Me” and just by the fact that he and Celia Brown were there, both who have been involved for decades.

Beyond that, it was also the new faces, the new groups, that include Icarus, and the
Freedom Center, that attest to the ability for this Mad Movement to thus far escape the cruel ravages of time and its intervention, often causing rifts within and across generations.

Sasha Dubrul who gave a talk during the activist panel and founded Icarus four years ago talked about the deep alienation he felt when he first had encountered the rhetoric of psychiatric survivors and, even despite his deeply critical stance against psychiatry. He wanted to create an organization and a message and a place that “resonates with our actual experiences of “mental illness” rather than trying to fit out lives into a conventional framework.” It is a message that swoops into many territories that includes a stiff, unrelenting critique of psychiatry and the pharma industry all the while admitting that not everyone can survive without pharmaceutical drugs (and being deeply grateful for this), all the while also providing pathways to alternatives. It is not easy territories to navigate, due to the and cracks and crevices between positions but then again, most of life is filled with these bumpy textures and not a smooth plane free contradictions.

If Icarus was born in part because existing organizations did not adequately address existing needs and desires, it did not grow and move away from existing organization but moved closer to them and is now is in alliance with
MindFreedom. And this is key. Difference in a political movement adds vitality, depth, opportunity but this can only be brought into healthy fruition with alliances. Otherwise, deep fragmentation follows, which given the already deeply fragmented nature of our lives, and of the political landscape, can end in political stasis. But so far, the Mad Movement has over years taken “mad anger” to fight a mad system, and given the last 30 years, I am sure will provide many more decadesof mad pride.