By Daniel MacklerIn the far north of Finland, a stone's throw from the Arctic Circle, a group of innovative family therapists converted the area's traditional mental health system, which once boasted some of Europe's poorest outcomes for schizophrenia, into one that now gets the best statistical results in the world for first-break psychosis. They call their approach Open Dialogue. Their principles, though radical in this day and age of multi-drug cocktails and involuntary hospitalizations, are surprisingly simple. They meet clients in crisis immediately and often daily until the crises are resolved. They avoid hospitalization and its consequential stigma, preferring to meet in the homes of those seeking their services. And, perhaps most controversially, they avoid the use of anti-psychotic medication wherever possible. They also work in groups, because they view psychosis as a problem involving relationships. They include in the treatment process the families and social networks of those seeking their help, and their clinicians work in teams, not as isolated, sole practitioners. Additionally, their whole approach values of the voice of everyone in the process, most especially the person directly in crisis. And finally, they provide their services, which operate within the context of Finnish socialized medicine, for free. Open Dialogue weaves together interviews with psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and journalists to create both a powerful vision of medication-free recovery and a hard-hitting critique of traditional psychiatry.
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By Daniel MacklerHealing Homes, a feature-length documentary film directed by Daniel Mackler, chronicles the work of the Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden -- a program which, in this era of multi-drug cocktails and psychiatric diagnoses-for-life, helps people recover from psychosis without medication. The organization, backed by over twenty years of experience, places people who have been failed by traditional psychiatry in host families -- predominately farm families in the Swedish countryside -- as a start for a whole new life journey. Host families are chosen not for any psychiatric expertise, rather, for their compassion, stability, and desire to give back. People live with these families for upwards of a year or two and become an integral part of a functioning family system. Staff members offer clients intensive psychotherapy and provide host families with intensive supervision. The Family Care Foundation eschews the use of diagnosis, works within a framework of striving to help people come safely off psychiatric medication, and provides their services, which operate within the context of Swedish socialized medicine, for free. Healing Homes weaves together interviews with clients, farm families, and staff members to create both a powerful vision of medication-free recovery and an eye-opening critique of the medical model of psychiatry.
By Daniel Mackler In June of 2012, twenty-three people came together to discuss the subject of coming off psychiatric drugs. We were psychiatric survivors, therapists, mental health consumers, family members, and activists, united by a passion for truth-telling. More than half of us had successfully come off psych drugs, including cocktails of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. What resulted from our three-day gathering was an unforgettable meeting of the minds. This 75-minute documentary (directed by Daniel Mackler) offers a rare glimpse into the world of coming off psych drugs through the eyes of those who have done it. The film presents, among others, Will Hall, author of the world-renowned “Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs,” Oryx Cohen, director at the National Empowerment Center, Laura Delano, blogger at www.madinamerica.com, and Daniel Hazen, noted psychiatric survivor and human rights activist. Although this documentary is not medical advice, it intends to offer something even better: hope. In a world where increasing numbers of people are put on psychiatric drugs every day, where more than 20 percent of Americans already take them, and where so many are told they need to stay on them for life, COMING OFF PSYCH DRUGS offers proof that another way is possible.
By Daniel Mackler and Matt Morrissey
Dealing with Your Family After You've Been Diagnosed with a Psychiatric DisorderFamily conflict can wreak havoc on people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. A Way Out of Madness offers guidance in resolving family conflict and taking control of your life. The book also includes personal accounts of family healing by people who were themselves psychiatrically diagnosed. Contributors include: Patch Adams, M.D., inspiration for Robin Williams film; Joanne Greenberg, author, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden; David Oaks, director, MindFreedom International; Will Hall, co-founder, Freedom Center.