Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 23, 2006


A colleague recently asked me if I felt religion was a positive or destructive force, arguing how that many conflicts in the world appear to have a religious base.
Religion is an established set of beliefs often accompanied with rituals and an ethical plan that codifies how we should look at the world around us and our interactions with others. In some sense, every person, even those without a belief in a deity, could be said to hold to a 'religion'. The issue is how organized and dogmatic this particular religion may be. Whether religion is a positive or destructive force is dependent on the means by which we choose to use it. If this defining of beliefs seeks to provide meaning and guides us in fulfilling relationships, it can be said to be positive. If it is used to merely control the conduct of others or force them to alter their nature, it can become oppressive. Religion then can be a means when there is equanimity and shared values and meaning, a positive force which does help to guide human interactions. If the religion is based merely on fear and intimidation to guide human interactions, it becomes destructive. I have often argued that in today's society, psychiatry has become a religion and is now the 'standard' by which to codify human nature and behavior and to intimidate those who would be deviants. Those who are considered 'mentally ill' are the heretics of this religion. Then there is also those who seek to differentiate between religion and spirituality. "I am not religious, but spiritual." Good heavens, what does this mean? It often appears that individuals try to seek something outside of nature to find meaning. But what exactly is wrong with nature? Why it is that man seeks to somehow 'improve' upon nature? Why can we not accept the majesty and also the mystery of the natural world around us? It often appears that those that cannot find delight in the nature of children want to label them, drug them, or somehow alter their nature to fit into a defined way of how they feel children should behave. But this does not only apply to children. Therefore, when we define 'spiritual', we must carefully understand this term? Are we referring to our own nature and its potential or are we directing this search to something outside of us, something that must be altered? Spiritual should refer to the mind. The mind is not the brain, it is our conscience, our experiences, our nature, and utlimately who we are. To use the term 'spiritual' as recognizing our own potential for benevolence, then this is a positive use of this term.


Some individuals I am aware of from the juvenile justice system often commented that with some children within this system it appears that 'therapy' does not work. They also commented that programs for addressing truancy often appear ineffective.
I began to examine this in light of my experience with some children who have been involved in the juvenile justice system or had truancy concerns. First, most of the programs these children are referred to are often bio-psychiatric. The children are most aware that the therapists they are working with have the intent to recommend for them psychiatric drugs and are also well aware that these therapists are there to control, not hear them. Indeed, the programs are an arm of the law, they are not there to truly help the child or to give them a voice. Psychiatry itself is not medicine, it is social control, an method of dealing with those we consider deviant.
In regards to truancy, should we be more alarmed by children who rebel against the education system or those who blindly follow it? The truant child usually has felt that the education system has failed them, and struggle to have a voice and find relevancy. They are often shuffled to alternative schools that do not meet their needs but only warehouse them. Children, even those undergoing emotional distress, are bright beings, they can sense where there is a problem. However, children cannot be expected to always behave rationally. It is us as adults who must make the rational decisions to truly meet our children's needs and to address the real issues that effect their emotional well being.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The following is some comments from my colleague, Robert Schmidt, a doctoral student in Sociology at Binghamton University. I find this material of great interest.

Medicine in general, and bio-psych in particular, purport a linear notion
of "progress". "Adolescence" is a very recent [and very Eurocentric]
construction. In the 19th century, children were typically
regulated/disciplined through work. And if the golden age of capitalism
(say 1945-1973) operated on a logic of discipline ( in schools, the
factory and the use of paddles in schools) and purported to REFORM deviant
people ( through hard work, discipline and perhaps prisons), then
certainly neoliberalism (1973-present) uses a much more pervasive
technology of social control, but it operates on a logic that people can't
be reformed (although blacks, and other groups considered sub-human,
couldn't be reformed prior to 1945 -- but that's another discussion [that
is not unrelated]).

In attempt to link hard-wired genetics with ever-changing time/space
contingent socially acceptable behavior, people are considered
PSYIOLOGICALLY "sick" before they express SOCIAL symptoms. Blacks are
considered criminals before they commit a crime. A poor child from an
alcoholic family is considered [and expected to be] an alcoholic before
they even experiment with alcohol. "Alcoholics" are always alcoholics;
addicts are always addicts-- it's part of their body. Gays, too, are
treated as psychically different.

Sure, schools don't use paddles. Parents (assuming the child lives in a
nuclear family) don't spank their kids anymore. But if spanking is
"barbaric" and primitive, what is medicine with dangerous known and
unknown side effects? If labeling a child medically "sick" alleviates the
shame of “sinful” and “bad” behavior, what does labeling an otherwise
normal child with ADD/ODD or some other “chemical imbalance” do?

The conclusion from this is that there is no linear progress.

The failure of psychiatry makes the case for Post-psychiatry. Perhaps the
failure of the psychiatry is its sucess: psychiatry serves a specific
funation, and was thus meant to fail. Institutions of power and control
don’t "cure the soul" -- and even if they could, perhaps it is not
desirable to do so. The way in which society defines, produces, labels,
and responds to [deviant] behavior needs to be changed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


What is termed ‘madness’ or ‘mental illness’ is often the person’s only means for expression of their being lost and confused in a world which has caused them deep hurt and pain. Such is not disease but behavior with metaphorical meaning. These individuals have received through life mixed messages and been placed into situations where regardless of the option they choose they feel damned. They seek to break out from the reality which has only caused them distress. The development of hallucinations and delusions are all metaphors for the very real demons they have encountered in disordered society. The inner mind, the voice within us, becomes amplified, and becomes ‘possessed’ with the demons coming forward from the trauma and distress which has been encountered. Rebellion against the system of things becomes self-destructive as the person seeks to send a message to the world of their distress, but it remains unheard. Each coping mechanism that has been employed has often led to failure and not brought them out of the unlivable situation that is their life. However, the catharsis of this pain and grief can go in two directions- it can be misery and existential death, or it can be transformative. Through the pain and struggle, through the breaking out of the ‘typical reality’ one can journey through various modes of altered consciousness. Many deemed ‘mad’ speak of the supernatural. They have sought every attempt to reach out and create meaning. If they can be helped by a loving, supportive network to navigate through this state of confusion and the various realms of altered consciousness towards rebuilding and reconstructing a life of meaning, then they can come forward to a recovery that gives them valuable insight about human nature and who they really are and the reality of the impermanence of this life and the world around us. They will find that suffering is an inevitable, and it that suffering is the state of the world which is mired in greed and attachment. The one deemed ‘mad’ for once has accomplished a rare task- they have completely detached. But this detachment is only from the typical standards of the world. They remain haunted by the visions of their previous life. They cannot escape it, and thus they become anxious and paranoid that something or someone will pull them back to that painful existence. At times, rage comes forward as the reaction to challenges, but who would not be outraged if their voice was suppressed and they became the scapegoat for the problems of their families or those around them? Those deemed ‘mad’, feeling always alone, depart to a world where they remain alone from people, yet may create for themselves beings who give them comfort and solace. This is really the end of their search, to simply be accepted and loved. But here too lies a problem, for when their lives have been devoid of love and they receive unconditional love, it becomes like an overwhelming fire that consumes them. They have never been loved, so how can they respond to an outpouring of love? When all they knew was that oppression and coercion was said to be because ‘we love you’, when ‘love’ really was only about control, how can the person then understand genuine love? Once again, the confusion sets in. To reach the person who has been deemed ‘mad’, we cannot overwhelm. Our sincerity will not be enough, for there trust has been shattered time and time again. It is only through entering their world for what it is, by joining in, and learning to speak the language, can we ourselves begin to understand the experience of these individuals. It is only by this joining in that the person may have the chance for their journey known as ‘madness’ to reach a transformative ending towards recovery.


It appears that many children who are high energy are targeted to be subdued and drugged. It seems that adults cannot possibly tolerate such a child. It annoys them. They want the child to conform and to not disturb their cozy little worlds. We would like to make our children disordered rather than looking at the disorder of our society.
Now lets imagine an idea- that children are equals. God forbid! How could be suggest such an awful idea? Why these children are born with an inherent nature to cause trouble, we need to control them for their own good!
It is always been the desire to control, and particularly claiming we are doing this for 'someone's own good' that has led to oppression and numerous evils.
But children are fellow human beings, they are capable of reflective thought, they indeed are capable of responsibility. Children need adutls to love and guide them, but they can be rational beings if we do not stifle them or cause them trauma. It is often adult interference that creates the harm to children more often than their own independent actions.

Monday, December 04, 2006


My recent book, "Children Our Treasure" is now available to be ordered at my website

This book is a critical analysis of bio-psychiatry and gives a detailed plan for creating a relationship based, humane, and dignified mental health system.


Recently I read a text describing the Summerhill school in Britain, an amazing program geared towards the freedom of children and encouraging their individuality, expression, and creativity.
A comment that struck me is that today we are very concerned about truancy, but have little concern at looking at students who conform to the day to day system with all its flaws. It has always been when we 'just went with the flow' and failed to question that the greatest of evils in history occurred. Our methods of dealing with truancy should not be based on punishment. Instead, we must really take a close look at just how our education system is impacting our children. Just why is it that some children are so avoidant of the experience called school? Why is the process of learning, something that should be a joy and delight, become such a boring, miserable experience for many children? How can we re-create schools to be sanctuaries where children thrive and are excited about the possibilities of sharing new ideas and learning new concepts. What has gone wrong in our education system, and why do we blame the child rather than looking at the real problem?


It was suggested to me of the compariSon between some mental health professionals and the concept of 'prostitution'. Let me explain. With prostitution, an individual pays the prostitute for a service. Both know this is not a real relationship. Each get what they want, one sexual favors, the prostiute payment.
So it is with some mental health professionals. Some feign to care, listen to, and understand their client, but in reality it is the dollar that really matters.
It would be ideal if we could create a mental health system based on private, voluntary donations that would help sustain those in the helping professions while they provide sincere care that is humane, dignified, and based on being genuine.