Daily Interviews With Professionals and Psychiatric Survivors
May 7-9, 2018
Robert Whitaker is a journalist and author who began his career as a medical writer for the Albany Times Union newspaper in Albany, NY in 1989. Whitaker was named a Knight Science Journalism fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and became director of publications at Harvard Medical School. He then co-founded CenterWatch, a publishing company that covered the pharmaceutical clinical trials industry. Whitaker was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and in the early's 2000's, and published his first book Mad in America about psychiatric research and medication. Then, in 2010, he published Anatomy of an Epidemic, which won an Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best investigative journalism. Whitaker's main thesis is that psychopharmacological drugs work well to curb acute symptoms, however, patients receiving prolonged treatment courses often end up more disabled than they started.
Emily Cutler is a victim of involuntary commitment and a psychiatric survivor. She graduated with her B.A. in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania, where she completed an honors thesis on sizeism among adolescents and strategies for introducing fat acceptance into schools. She currently serves as an assistant editor at the critical psychiatry web magazine Mad in America and is the founder of the grassroots group Southern California Against Forced Treatment, which raises awareness about the issue of involuntary commitment and coercive mental health interventions. She is an incoming PhD student at the University of South Florida, where she will be researching involuntary commitment and mad studies. Emily is passionate about combating paternalism in all its forms.
Jill Kesti is a psychiatric survivor and founder of the group Coalition to End Forced Psychiatric Drugging. They believe that states should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock, and mild-altering drugs for both long and short term application.
Grace Nichols is a teacher, disability analyst and psychiatric survivor. She holds a History BA, a Biology BS and a teaching credential. She was hospitalized twice and held involuntarily each time. There was a threat to her custody on the basis of being diagnosed with a mood disorder which she successfully fought, retaining her custody and raising her two children. Today, she works for social security and strives to inform and empower claimants as well as analyze medical records; she also works as an environmental advocate, convinced that our personal well-being is bound up in our collective well-being and our respect for our mother earth.
Jim Gottstein graduated from Harvard Law School and was involuntary hospitalized twice in the 1980's due to mania. Jim represented people diagnosed with mental illness in the Alaska Mental Health Trust Lands Litigation, which resulted in a settlement valued at over $1 Billion. Jim then co-founded the organization PsychRights in 2002, and has won five Alaska Supreme Court cases surrounding Alaska's involuntary commitment and forced drugging practices. Jim also won a United States Court of Appeals decision stating that that psychiatrists who write psychotropic drug prescriptions to children to be reimbursed through Medicaid that are not for a "medically accepted indication" are committing Medcaid Fraud.
Kermit Cole started off as a film director and is now a Marriage and Family Therapist and founding editor of MadinAmerica.com, a webzine started in 2012 which serves as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care in the United States (and abroad). Inspired by the Open Dialogue model in Finland, Kermit works in treatment teams with 'severely traumatized and psychotic clients'. He believes "the best way to sustainably resolve the problems we confront in ourselves is to focus on the problems between people, rather than look for something 'wrong' with people that we can 'fix.'"
Jen Padron is a psychiatric survivor from Atlanta, GA. She has consulted with Vanguard Communications to SAMHSA on wellness and social inclusion initiatives nationwide and for a Stanford
University and NASHMPD Expert Q&A on experienced psychosis and cultural attunement. Currently, she’s a Consultant to Southern Methodist University on an NIMH and University of Texas at Austin Hogg Foundation-funded study of Latina/o youth and early experienced psychosis. Jen is a Ph.D. Candidate, earning her PhD
in Public Health. She believes in service and is a volunteer board of director member to ACHMA College for Behavioral Health Leadership and sits on committees for peer services and supports national initiatives.
Sean Blackwell is the author of the book "Am I Bipolar or Waking Up?" which reviewers have said such things as "This book saved my life". He also has a popular YouTube series showcasing his research titled "Bipolar or Waking Up" and runs Bipolar Awakenings Healing Retreats all around the world that people have described as: "Sean's healing retreat was a life-saver. It took me into an intense period of trauma-resolving and inner work. After that I could return to normal life, after years of disability and struggle."
Al Galves is a clinical psychologist in New Mexico who believes that psychology is too valuable to be used only to help people with psychiatric diagnoses but, rather, should also be used to help healthy people become healthier. Al is the author of "Harness your Dark Side: Mastering Jealousy, Rage, Frustration, and Other Negative Emotions". Al is also a Board Member of MindFreedom International, an activist organization that fights for human rights in the mental health system.
I'm joined today by "Jenny" who says she is very grateful to have managed to survive and abandon psychiatric treatment and brainwashing following a nervous breakdown that she had at age 22. A decade later, she works a full time job and in her free time she does visual art and runs an anti-psychiatry memes page Facebook and Instagram called Mad Mad Memez. "Jenny" also organizes a social club for women on the autism spectrum and says she enjoys life and work despite dealing with the ongoing effects of her trauma.
Revella Levin is an experienced, effective psychotherapist who works with people diagnosed with schizophrenia and treats them without medication. She is also the author of the book Successful Drug-Free Psychotherapy for Schizophrenia, which provides examples and methods that she has found effective at helping her patients overcome emotional conflicts while avoiding the neurological damage of anti-psychotic drugs.
Peter Gøtzsche is the Director of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen and a professor of research design and analysis at University of Copenhagen. Peter is co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, formed in 1993, which conducts the world's most thorough independent analysis of healthcare research. Author of four books, including "Deadly Psychiatry and Organised Denial".