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

Monday, December 29, 2008


When we examine the actual root of drug addiction, we find that simply put the root is unhappiness, discontent. If individuals lived in a society that was just, where equality and opportunity was present and there did not exist oppression and the current class divisions and economic hardships, there would be little desire for individuals to alter their state of consciousness as they would exist in a high level of contentment. Incarceration of people undergoing addiction does not resolve any issue, it does not provide them with new skills, it does not resolve the issues which led them to addiction. If we are truly to wage a 'war on drugs', then we must wage war against poverty, social injustice, and every means of oppression. We must radically change our attitudes and the ways society operates.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.


Oftentimes individuals are involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities, deprived of their liberty based on the supposed premise that they are a threat either to themselves or to others. However, there are many individuals who are threats to themselves or others who we do not deprive of their liberty. Therefore, who we deem as dangerous is a subjective call. Unless a person has actually committed a criminal act, and has gone through due process, and been convicted, this should be the only time that a person's rights and liberty should be limited. This concept of 'dangerousness' is merely a means of social control, it is to separate from society those who we subjectively deem undesirable. If these persons actually have committed a dangerous act which has infringed on the rights of others, then this should be handled by criminal law procedures. This conception has been argued vehemently by those such as Thomas Szasz.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


We are seeing the collapse of our economic system based on the greed that has been inherent in this system. It is a disgrace that some individuals are able to accumulate wealth individually that is greater than that of some small nations while children are starving, and the middle class continues to shrink and struggle for their survival. It is the barriers of class, religion, race, and so forth that leads to conflict and ultimately our downfall. Our society has lost its sense of community and connectedness, and the desire for profit has caused us to lose sight of the humanity of others. All of these barriers lead to our isolation and alienation. We are each day become more and more alienated from each other, so absorbed into selfish interests. And even the so-called 'helping professions' have become more about the profits that can be gained that the true desire to be with others and to come to their aid. In the age of managed care organizations, the needs of distressed persons are limited by the elite's need to earn profit. The downtrodden are dehumanized, they are looked upon as lesser, and ultimately as a source of profit. They must be kept in their place. If they actually 'got better', where would the profits come from? So, it is easier to drug them into compliance and conformity. It is easier just to 'maintain them', as then we know that our profits are not in jeopardy. Is it possible for us to come to a point where we will place people before profits? What will it take? What must we do?

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.


Children have been seen as property, with few rights, and subject to the domination of others who may not always have their best interests in mind. Children are viewed as slaves, as dependent. If adults treat them badly, they have little recourse. When the reach the arbitrary age of 18, they are then expected tom assume the role and responsibilities of an adult. What if we gave children the rights of adults and taught them responsibility from the beginning? Adult society has been involved in numerous wars, conflicts, attrocities, why do we think we know what is best for children, why do we think we know better than children themselves? Holt (1973) suggested that children should hasve equal treatment under the law. They should be able to participate in the political process, to be legally responsible for their choices and acts; to have privacy; to manage their education; and to decide who is to be their guardian. If we taught children the concept of freedom combined with responsibility, we would certainly see the lessening of many of the troubling scenarios facing young people today. Instead, adult society seeks to control children, and does not provide them with the proper guidance and support, it creates children who are oppressed and neglected, who then rebel against the adults who have hurt them in often unproductive and self destructive ways. If all human beings, children and adults, were accorded the same basic humanity, society could be much for the better.
We spend thousands on residential treatment facilities, detention centers, treatment programs, etc. for youth, but what if we could be pro-active, what if we could instead take these funds and invest them into what our children truly need? The money spent on residential treatment which has dubious outcomes is enormous. And at times a child is placed in such facility from a troubled family life, it makes them more of a conformist to the facilities expectations, and then returns them back to the troubled family dynamics, only to create a vicious cycle. If the children were allowed the ability to live on their own or to choose their guardian from those who may actually care for them, just think what funds which are now funneled to the psychiatric establishment could do for the advancement of children. We are speaking of around $70-100,000 per year, the child could have the best education, travel and explore, and be out of situations of poverty and oppression. But instead, the establishment would rather have its hands on these funds and it needs to keep the vicious cycle going as this is its source of profit. Keep people distressed, keep them labeled, make them "ill' and we will constantly have a flow of profits.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The medical model misses the entire picture

A father recently came to me for a consultation in regards to his seven year old son. He began to tell me of the child's oppositionality and decline at school and left things pretty much at that. Let's say (as seems to be common practice under a medicalized model) that I left things at that and identified the child as the 'problem'. Instead, I met individually with the child who told me of his sadness that his parents fought daily and dad had destroyed objects in fits of rage. Fortunately, the father was willing to acknowledge concerns and asked for help for his entire family. But what if we chose to ignore this child's experience and the social context, only looking at the child's behavior, and this behavior as reported by one source. What outcome would be derived? What 'treatment' would be delineated?
-Dan L.Edmunds,Ed.D.

Friday, November 28, 2008


What we become is a product of our thought and a product of how we choose to respond to the social and political processes at work daily in our lives, from our very birth. The young child begins to learn what responses to give that will gain him or her attention, affection, or approval. The family is the cauldron of our being. Often what we see, we become. Aggression breeds aggression. Lies creates liars. Lack of regard for the child leads to the child have a lack of empathy for others. Poor familial boundaries leads to the child haivng poor boundaries in regards to others. How do some families evoke such violence upon their own children? We live in a society where children are committing the crimes of adults, where children are rapidly entering the world of adults but lack the growth and maturity to be fully responsible and understanding. Because of societal pressures, adults are abandoning their children, and children are thrown into a brutal quest for survival. They are exposed to the corrupt world of adults. Parental egoism and desire for self gratification become passed down to the children. Families shrouded in secrecy and denial are often the most destructive upon the minds of children. This becomes the breeding ground for the most vile of thought and action. These are the families who make lofe about control- 'do as I say but not as I do, do this because I love you". The child has no clear direction. They then begin to seek to break from their painful reality. They are fearful, possibly mre fearful of living than of death. These children because of what they have seen and heard become persons as well who seek to use power, domination, and manipulation upon others. These are the children who become offenders. The mechanical world we exist within, where those who are not of the elite must struggle day by day leads to children being cast aside. The mechanical mentality has infected all institutions. Schools are no longer about learning but conformity, where students produce desired results for their teachers. We are creating frustrated families and frustrated children. This frustration has now built to the level of rage. This rage is destroying the minds of our children. This rage leads to violence and conflict. Is there a way out? Is there another way? It requires us to evaluate our responses. Life is suffering, all are presented with problems, this we cannot escape. But we can chose how to address our problems. If persons begin to lay aside the pain and hurt, and can build resiliency against the violence said to be 'love', if we can become survivors rather than victims, we stand a chance. If society and families can re-evaluate its values and principles, there is a chance. Many times a child is helped by having a helping person journey with them. We cannot do this alone, we must have others to journey with us. We need the restoration of a sense of community, of our inter-connectedness. There are no easy solutions. Sadly, the battle for the 'soul' of our children will mean some will be saved, and some will remain lost. But if even one child can be saved from the pit of self destruction, the efforts of time, compassion, and wisdom will be well worth it. In a world so rife with despair, it is so easy for us to fall into the same traps. Let us guard our minds, let us strive for social justice, and not give up hope that even in our small way, we can make a difference.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

disintegration of community

One of the significant problems in today's society is our lack of realizing our interconnectedness, our lack of community. We become so hurried, so engrossed in our activity, that we do not know or acknowledge or neighbor. We have become alienated and absorbed into ourselves and our own interests and objectives. No longer do we come together for common purposes, rarely do we share in common interests and vision. This is to our own destruction.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sometimes caring is not enough

I have realized that showing caring and compassion are sometimes not enough. As I mentioned in my article on True Friendship, there must be a test to see if the friendship will endure and in my article Journey Through Madness, I commented on the fact that many who are so emotionally hurt trust noone and sincerity is questioned. I recall a therapeutic alliance with a 14 year old man. Though we built a strong connection, because of his immense hurts, familial turmoil, and victimization, he had difficulty trusting. He had moments of progress, but then would continue in self loathing and self destructive behavior. It was hard for him to accept that anyone might actually love him. It was easier to make others fear him, he had to dominate to feel any security. Unfortunately, he encountered the juvenile justice system, a painful experience for him, his family, and myself. But it was at this point that he came to the realization of my sincerity and that I did really care. Before, he had put his energy into superficial relationships. What is unfortunate, that none of these individuals have any concern for him now or even speak of him. He was blind to see where caring could be really found. It is unfortunate that it has taken extreme crisis for him to realize who his friends really are. It is my hope that this realization will carry him through the difficult path that lies ahead.
-Dan L.Edmunds,Ed.D.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A society can be judged by how it treats its children, even those most troubled and disturbed. Many choose to 'throw away' those children who are deemed delinquent. But how did they become that way? It is not just their choices but it is also the failure of adults in their lives to truly reach out and guide these children. Court systems, Child Protective services, and our educational systems fail these children time and time again. They are shuffled off to placements and through psychiatric ceremonials only to become more bitter, more hardened, more distressed, and more disturbed. They sentence them to a spiritual death. We should be investing our time to teach new skills, to change the frame of reference, to show compassion and wisdom. We must have patience and journey with these children, to know that someone truly cares and that their pains and hurts need not be self destructive. But the issue remains greed. It is profitable to keep the status quo, the psychiatric establishment profits and so do others. No one wants to take the time to bother with these children, few are interested in social justice, few want to give the things that would truly rehabilitate.
I hope that there will be those who will wage a non violent resistance and to once again make our children a priority. We live in a society where there must always be winners and losers, it impacts every aspect of how we conduct ourselves, in courts, in politics, in business. If only we can regain a sense of our common humanity, and be able to develop concern for others, even the most troubled. We are creating the monsters by our failure to meet the true needs of our children, we are contributing to their demise. Hopefully we will soon awaken to this and make the important changes.

-Dan L.Edmunds,Ed.D.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I placed my hope in you, I sought your liberation. Shattered. Broken. Lost. You could not respond. I loved you. I still do. But you did not know until it was too late. I embrace you and the tears flow. I know you, but you do not know youself. You wanted control. How out of control things are. Let go. Let go of the pain, the rage, I am with you, know this, if it be your only solace. The torment to me and to you. It will pass, don't give up.I believe in you, you will overcome. Namaste.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Gift of Trust, Love, and Hope

I had the privilege of working with a young man who had experienced much turmoil in his life. From early on, we connected, and over time this bond became stronger. Family sessions were often difficult and challenging, but one on one he would share with me his pain, his dark secrets, his sorrows. He had been abandoned by his father, sexually abused by a peer at age 7, witness to a suicide attempt of his mother, and having a conflictual relationship with his step-father. He had little love in his life to the point where he had no love for himself either. He began to loathe himself and be filled with rage. I sought to be loving but firm, and to steer him towards finding meaning and of resolving conflicts in his life. We had a strong relationship, we could joke together but also share more serious reflections. However, I knew that because he had been so hurt and broken, that he was not fully trusting anyone and he was constantly being sucked into the vortex of negative peer associations and familial dysfunction. I'm spite of this, he progressed, even to the point discharge was discussed by the psychologist. But then came the series of unfortunate events. I noticed him struggling again and isolating. He then had an incident where he was caught unclothed with his younger sibling. I suspected he had been abused again by a peer, but he was not able to develop the courage to relate this until much later. He persisted in some negative actions at school, using domination of others as a way to regain control and his feelings of worth. There was another incident of sexual acting out and this brought charges. I hjad predicted sadly that if better choices were not made that legal ramifications would come and there would be a day where all decisions would be out of his hands, out of his parents, and out of mine. The State became involved. Not understanding my connection to the young man, and wanting everything sterile and clinical, as well as having political machinations, they chastised me for being real and genuine and actually treating this young man as a human being. They had their agenda and decided to proceed. It was not that I did not understand that he needed additional support and help, it was that I was concerned if he felt alone and had no spiritual connection, he would only become more hardened and fall into despair. The young man pleaded with me not to abandon him, and I said I would not. He told me that he wished he would have followed what I said, but he could never trust anyone, but now he knows that I truly cared about him, but he felt it was too late. I had given him a word that means 'I see the love, truth, and divine in you.' He said this word to me as he remembered it. When I exained it meaning, he wept. Now I am left to only hope for the best in an absurd situation, to hope for the best in a system not knowing compassion, not knowing persons, so filled with ego. His mother's words were very meaningful to me in that she said- 'you did not fail, you gave him more than anyone ever did- you gave him trust, hope, and love.' This I did and would do again and again even though the pain has been great. And if any dare say that what I gifted this child with was 'unprofessional', then I must question their heart. It is indeed a great misfortune that those who claim to be in the field of protecting children are so beguiled by greed and corruption, that they lose sight of how to truly reach our children, even the most troubled ones, and deal with them in compassionate, rehabilitative means.

-Dan L. Edmunds,Ed.D.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Sometimes it is difficult to accept things as they are, to come to a patient acceptance. I have looked at the role of the 'bodhisattva', one who postpones their own enlightenment and happiness, to compassionately help liberate others. I am convinced that providing unconditional love and compassion heals much. It is the opening to the door of liberation from distress and deluded minds. Pain and turmoil can only cease by knowing unconditional love, of feeling that someone understands, that no matter how bad things are or have been, we can overcome. I think of the term 'namaste', that we are all inter-connected, and we can join our hearts together, and that there exists within all beings the potential, the seed of goodness and light. It is this unconditional love and compassion that waters this seed and helps it to grow. I think of the lotus, a beautiful flower blossoming from the muck, such a symbol of our world, that from despair, hopelessness, and sufferings, can blossom forth goodness and inner peace.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Left powerless, son, who protected you? Who has nourished your soul? When you cried, did anyone hear? Broken and hurt, torn and shattered, where was your solace? Rage and confusion destroyed your peace. They created the monstrous desire for revenge. I have been hurt, I seek revenge. My pain shall be their pain! My hurt shall be their hurt! They do not know me, I am lost, I do not know myself. They destroyed my soul, and I cannot find it. They shattered my trust, I can trust no one, and I cannot be trusted. I inflict my pain on them and those that are with them. My anger has consummed me. I cannot find my soul, I am void, there is nothing there, yet I need something. I fill this void with more rage. I plead that someone will hear me. I plead that someone will understand. I wait alone. I wait afraid. Will I recognize the one who hears my cry or will I turn away thinking they are one of them? I wait for the one who will hear my cry, yet I remain afraid.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If I opened the door of paradise...

If I opened the door to Paradise, would you choose to remain in Hell? If I gave you my heart, would you notice? Can you respond to that you never knew or had? Surrounded by the demons, yet truly alone. You recognize not your friends. Engulfed in delusions, seeking pleasure in that which but leads to more suffering. How I sought to change the wretched mind. A deafening silence, but then an echo, a constant echo. Are you too far away to hear it? Your hurt is now the hurt of others. You inflict your pain on many. Covered in stinking filfth, they say you are foul. Yet I saw what was within. I saw what was possible. You glorify the one who hurt you. You have indeed become him. A sick cycle. The wheel must be broken. Who are you? What do you see? A mirage. A false image, not you, but that which the demons say you must be to join their legion. You think they laugh and revel with you, they laugh at you, they scorn you. And now in the darkness, they flee, leaving you truly alone. If I open the door to Paradise to you now, will you choose to remain in Hell?

-Dan L.Edmunds,Ed.D

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Treating children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with drugs is not effective in the long-term, research has shown.
A study obtained by the BBC's Panorama programme says drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta work no better than therapy after three years of treatment.

The findings by an influential US study also suggested long-term use of the drugs could stunt children's growth.

It said that the benefits of drugs had previously been exaggerated.

The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD has been monitoring the treatment of 600 children across the US since the 1990s.

'Exaggerated impact'

Most of the estimated 500,000 children in Britain with ADHD receive no treatment at all.


The Department of Health has issued a statement on the treatment of ADHD

But of those that do, most - about 55,000 last year - are prescribed stimulants like Ritalin and Concerta.

The cost of these drugs to the NHS is about £28m.

In 1999, the American study concluded that after one year medication worked better than behavioural therapy for ADHD.

This finding influenced medical practice on both sides of the Atlantic, and prescription rates in the UK have since tripled.

But now after longer-term analysis, the report's co-author, Professor William Pelham of the University of Buffalo, said: "I think that we exaggerated the beneficial impact of medication in the first study.

"We had thought that children medicated longer would have better outcomes. That didn't happen to be the case.

"There's no indication that medication's better than nothing in the long run."

Prof Pelham said there were "no beneficial effects" of medication and the impact was seemingly negative instead.

"The children had a substantial decrease in their rate of growth so they weren't growing as much as other kids both in terms of their height and in terms of their weight," he said.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

American society is now filled with the concepts of self interest, entitlement, and playing victim. The downward spiral of our economy should be no surprise, our attitudes have only led to this eventual result. As I have mentioned previously, the education system does not value or reward initiative or creativity, it is rather focused on the self interest of the educators and administrators who seek to have children conform to standards based on tests and gain their compliance so that the administrators can appear as if they have fulfilled their duty while the children actually languish. We are a society that expects others to 'fix' our errors and provide for our relief. We are a society of shifting blame. We are a society that does not seek to take ownership and responsibility. We are a society that knows not how to think critcally but only to possess and consume. The American dream can be now said to be the American nightmare. We do not think of others, but we focus on our own survival, and our political leaders and the elite have placed persons in this uncomfortable position of intense worry for their own survival. When this occurs, the concern for others lessens, and we focus solely on our own needs, our own desires. Society itself is sick, yet it seeks to pathologize those who would react to this sick society, and it offers them its technologies, it offers them its drugs, to numb them into accepting things as they are rather than to actively protest and change the injustices that exist. American society has become apathetic and numb, and if such persists, our further decline is only inevitable. Let us hope that some will awaken from their stupor before it is too late.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Today I spent some time conducting observations in a school. One of the students I noticed had significant reading challenges and appeared to be enormously frustrated with academics because of this. He appeared somewhat distractible and not engaged. The teacher came to me and stated that if 'he had meds he would do better." I saw this as an ignorant and self serving response. She was plainly not understanding how this child cannot read well and this is at the root of the problem and that the dilemma is not an issue of his brain but how SHE can reach him and provide him a REAL education. I explained the recent study that showed no academic improvement or improvement in pro-social skills with kids on stimulant drugs and shared some of my own research. The response was only a blank stare. New York State Teacher of the year and author of "Dumbing Us Down" John Taylor Gatto remarked, "Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity." And this is what I sadly saw, these children had no outlets to explore their curiosity. A token system exists to bribe them into conformity and to make them dependent and unable to develop skills for the real world for the real world does not operate this way. I noticed that there seemed to be as many adults in the room as children. It seems we are doing much schooling, but not educating. Education comes through creativity, exploration. Children who are truly being educated have a zeal for learning. One of the students stated to me, "I hate school, I wish the school would be blasted off by a rocket into space." I did not respond to this, but to some degree in my mind have to admit, I agree. This statement received the response of "well, we don't speak that way", but I am more curious to know this child is so unhappy with the school he is in. Did anyone of the school staff consider that? Probably not. It will remain status quo. And who benefits? Not the children. I share a few other qoutes from John Taylor Gatto:
"...‘How will they learn to read?’ you ask, and my answer is ‘Remember the lessons of Massachusetts.’ When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks, they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease, if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them."
"It’s absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does..."
I have argued for a more humane mental health system as well as for democratic education and an educational system that encoruages our spirited children rather than stifles them. Gatto describes clearly the education system we should all be striving for- "Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die."

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I was contacted by a special education department because they had a teenager, who I will refer to as Bob who was having frequent aggressive incidents at school, had poor motivation, and whose attention was said to be fleeting. Bob struggled academically and had little interest in school. This is what was initially presented to me. So, I met Bob and his family. I first wanted to know something about Bob as a person and the world he was living in. Bob expressed to me that his family was disadvantaged and he often felt 'lost' among his siblings. Bob lacked confidence and felt that because he was not a good reader that school was basically pointless. He spoke alot about conflicts at home that he was exposed to and many times feeling belittled if he did not meet certain standards. My sessions revolved around first understanding his experience. From this, I worked with Bob in being able to come to a realization that all people encounter problems and they have no choice in this but we do have a choice in how we seek to think. I worked with Bob on non-violent communication and posed various scenarios as to how he might be able to work through conflicts with others. I allowed Bob to share his thoughts openly and honestly. I do not believe he had this opportunity before. In prior therapeutic programs that Bob had been involved in he was often taught programmed responses. I noticed this from the beginning as he often had answers to various dilemmas that appeared as if they came from a textbook. I encouraged Bob to be a critical thinker, to develop a higher level of independent thought. I explored with him some of his strengths and interests and began to encourage him to channel this into building confidence. I worked with Bob on a 'life map' to explore short term and long term attainable goals. We also made use of decision trees whereby we would evlauate his decisions and go through on explore the ramifications. He began to read books based on his interests, and this combined with some reading support arranged for him, led him to have more desire to read. As his confidence built, his reading gradually improved as well as his motivation. I spent some time in the community with Bob seeking to provide him positive validation and the opportunity to communicate this thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental atmosphere as he appeared to feel somewhat unheard and repressed before. I encouraged the family to begin to do likewise. I established a discipline plan with the family based on social reinforcement and provided some additional opportunities for outings provided that Bob was willing to follow through on a basic contract addressing what he would accomplish at home and school. The school staff noted marked improvement and the parents stated that the aggressive incidents were eliminated and that Bob appeared to have a more positive attitude. What went from a period of daily calls from the school over various dilemmas, now has become calls from the school to discuss what Bob has accomplished. I saw that Bob was a young person who had been hurt and did not feel a sense of worth. This is what led to him to react in ways that were at times destructive. School did not appear important because he could not grasp many areas, so previously had decided to shut down and give up. At the root of the problem was the desire for attention and validation and the concept of assumed disability that he had adopted. What if Bob had been told he had a chemical imbalance? That he was disordered and could not control his actions because of this so called disorder? Would this have resolved any inner conflicts for him? Would it have built his confidence? or would it have only perpetuated the problem? And so it seems in the education and mental health systems today. We are creating 'disability', we are allowing our children to languish, we are not meeting their true needs. We are forcing their conformity to a broken system.
Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


When we seek to judge behavior, we come upon some great difficulties. Let us say that we have identified a person as 'aggressive'. What exactly is an aggressive act? A person who hunts an animal? Is that an aggressive act? Johnny punches Sally in the nose, is that an aggressive act? A nation invades another nation. Is that an aggressive act? Mr. Smith invests a lot into the stock market. Is he an aggressive investor? George rises to the top of his company. Is he aggressive? How we answer this is based on our values. However, psychiatry would like us to think that judging and categorizing behavior is a science, that it is medicine. So, understanding that these are value judgments, we could say that 'well, a behavior that infringes on the rights of others is a problem'. Indeed, he may be, but to state this means we are dealing with legality, not medicine. Therefore, psychiatry can be said to be an arm of the law, a means of social control and defining who are the offenders of the social 'norms'. From this arises the question as to whether this position should be afforded to psychiatrists to be the arbitrators of values and what society 'should look like'.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

breaking free

As human beings, we all seek to be free from suffering. We all seek to be free from oppression. We all react to what we experience. Some react in unconventional ways. Not all reactions are effective means, yet we react. We all are seeking to create order, a sense of purpose to our lives, though there are varying constructs of what life is, of what it means to be human. Some retreat from suffering or seek higher levels of consciousness through use of substances, but this often becomes destructive, much like a plane soaring to high altitudes only to crash and burn upon landing. Those who become labeled as mentally ill are often seeking to break free from severe oppression and suffering. Yet society seeks to stifle their experience. How dare they break free! How dare they act in ways we do not approve! So we drug and shock them hoping they 'come to their senses' or at least not be a 'bother' to us anymore. If we could only come to realize the transformative process, and support their liberation. If society could but realize its illness rather than ascribing so called illness to persons.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Experience and reactions.

We all react to what we experience. We all seek at some point to create order in life and at times control those events which are uncontrollable. We each have our stories of joys and sorrows, blessed memories and traumas. For some individuals, the way they experience the world has led them to despair, or led them to obsessive behavior as a reaction to the extreme chaos they have internalized. Those we label as mentally ill are those whose reactions to their experience society judges to be without value or problematic. This creates stigma, but if we understood these reactions, if we sought to understand the experience, we would find that these reactions may be the person's only way of dealing with the intense emotions, oppression, or other experiences they have had. As Laing stated, that what is termed insanity may be a sane response to an insane world. We lock people up for behaving in ways we do not like. We argue it is for their own good, and we claim that we can predict their behavior or judge them to be a harm to themselves or others when in reality we do not truly possess this capability, we can only hypothesize based on our own limited perceptions. We believe falsely that those labeled mentally ill are more prone to violence while our 'sane' ones continue to involve themselves in wars and conflicts.
-Dan L.Edmunds,Ed.D.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Impact of Abuse

I have always had particular interest in the works of Dr. Alice Miller who discussed the role of childhood abuse and the development later of emotional disturbance, criminality, addiction, and further cycles of violence perpetuated on their children and others. I have argued that aggression breeds aggression.My article "Trauma Model of Psychological Distress" provided a timeline of when trauma occurs in childhood and the resulting impact in the teen years and into adulthood. The mental health establishment often ignores these important factors instead attributing emotional distress to solely chemical processes. Miller discussed the role of the enlightened witness which lessened the impact of the trauma. I strongly believe that this role is crucial and a buffer to the destructive social and familial forces that impact some children. This is a key part of the person developing resiliency. Even in the most serious emotional disturbances the potential for recovery (and discovery) is possible. It is not an easy process, but a possible one. It is sad that in our age we do not provide long term psychotherapy but focus on numbing people's minds and feelings. This is not recovery, it is repression which often leads to oppression.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oppressive Society

For the disadvantaged youth, what are the choices that the ruling oligarchy allows them? Go into military service and fight the wars for the rich so they can possibly receive the 'blessings' of the rich to pursue an education? Or become a slave to them by amassing student loan debt while the wealthy ones path is paved. There is no real opportunity.Efforts are rarely rewarded, but the good conformists are rewarded. Is it any wonder that many poor kids turn to the sale of drugs and crime? When we do not reward effort, the elite oppress, and opportunities are glim, some are willing to assume the risk and danger if only for a moment to be apart from poverty and struggle. And so it is with our homeless and those we often label mentally ill. They seek to be free from oppression, and thus many depart from the reality and standards of corrupt society. As Laing stated, madness may very well be a normal response to a society gone mad. For these persons, the elite drug them into submission, their experience is of no importance, and so they often wander the streets with little chance of recovery as first, no one seems to care, second, they are damaged by psychiatric drugs, and lastly, society refuses to change.
Where is our sense of humanity? Where is our compassion? Can equality truly exist? We are taught not to worry about such things, there is a pill for these worries. No need to change anything, its all in your brain. You have the money, you can be part of the game, and maybe win. If you don't have money, you lose. Whether this be education, health care, or other basic human rights.
-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Through capitalistic greed and corporate power, the United States is slowly being sold out to foreign interests and powers. We are allowing our nation's assets to be given away. Our freedoms and rights are being eroded often under the guise that 'it is for our own good and protection." We lack choices in government, we are controlled by an oligarchic system, a rulin elite, where the very wealthy are the only players. Third party candidates stand no chance, for example in Pennsylvania, The McCain camp knows that the Libertarian candidate Bob Barr could take votes away and lead to an Obama win in Pennsylvania. However, rather than allowing choice, the Mccain camp is fighting for the removal of Barr from the ballot. So as it is in most political equations today, we are not given any real choices, and the politicians hold all the cards, and seek to keep it that way. With the current dynamics and a generation of apathy, we must seriously look at our future. The current institutions are decaying and eroding, and they are driving people mad. It is not that the systems will admit failure. If you do not like the system, too bad, we will force your conformity, hence a large proportion of American children labeled and drugged.
We must change our minds, and we must do it quickly.

-D.L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I recall a story of Buddha Shakyamuni where one of his monks desired to go forth to teach to a cruel and harsh people. The Buddha tested him with various questions as to what he would do if various cruelty came upon him. The monk described how he would seek the good in them and be patient no matter the ways they sought to treat him. The Buddha eventually blessed him to proceed stating that maybe hw would reach a few. This is the true work of the therapist. The therapist must be strengths based, focusing on the potential of benevolence in all beings, to realize the delusions we all possess, and to patiently join with another, but to respect their autonomy.
-Dr. D.L. Edmunds,Ed.D.

The Mental Health Edge Radio Program

Dr.D.L.Edmunds will be speaking on the program THE MENTAL HEALTH EDGE on the topic of the impact of current psychiatric practice on children. The program will air Wednesday August 20 from 8 to 9pm EST on WTAN1340AM in Clearwater, Florida and can be heard on the internet at www.tantalk1340.com

Autonomy and Responsibility

If therapists are to truly respect the autonomy of persons they must allow the person to make decisions on their own, even if these are poor decisions. The therapist should focus the person on seeking their own solutions, taking responsibility for their own actions and choices. The therapist should not allow for overdependence and should not feel 'guilt' if the decisions of their client do not meet to their own or societal approval. If we think this way, then we are not respecting autonomy.
We must also consider that we cannot change the minds of others, only they can do that. -D.L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Boszormenyi-Nagy developed contextual therapy and as a part of this was the concept of destructive entitlement. He felt that many patterns of thought that were problematic and strains in relationship had to do with issues of justice and that people felt a sense of entitlement. This does not mean that feelings of entitlement means that the person is entitled. However, from this destructive entitlement came patterns of revenge. He saw this concept in conduct problems, substance abuse, and as far reaching as world political conflicts. Nagy focused on building conceptions of fairness and believed that ethical conceptions formed a part of the therapeutic process. I have to some degree been influenced by the work of Boszoremenyi-Nagi, particularly this concept of the impact of destructive entitlement.
In my practice, I have sought to develop a synthesis of Nagy's ideas of the needs for ethical principles to be a part of the therapeutic process, while incorporating the ideas of Laing in that extreme states of mind can be understood. In addition, I have brought into practice the thought of existentialism having realized that many distressed person's dilemmas are often problems of meaning and purpose. I am also in agreement with Adlerian ideas on feelings of inferiority being a motivating factor of the development of some destructive behaviors. My friend and colleague, psychologist Jorg Dao from Germany brought forward to me a different way of looking at therapy. His idea is that the therapist does not seek to analyze or 'fix' the problem but to guide the person to identifying the problem clearly and finding their own answers. I believe that all persons have innate strengths and the potential to come to resolution of their own dilemmas. We need to respect the autonomy of the individual and realize the great resiliency that exists within human beings.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our society does not reward effort and determination, rather we have often developed an idea of entitlement. Our universities are failing because of this. Professors are chosen based on issues of connections and political correctness. The education of our children as well because of this contagion of entitlement. Taxes skyrocket because of this idea. How far do we go to help those who have no desire to help themselves? Should we pay for the medical treatment of one who given knowledge of making poor health choices persists in them? We are a society that feels entitled, wishes not to take responsibility, and prefers to stay numb. Psychiatry provides the concepts to exonerate persons and society of responsibility, and gives them the drugs to escape and be numb, to never have to really address any dilemma. Is it possible we are headed in the direction of the Soviet era where any critical thought was suppressed, often through psychiatric means? Will our society awaken and take responsibility and ownership for its choices and actions? God only knows.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Speaking Engagements and Consultation to School Districts- Special Education Departments

Dr.D.L Edmunds has received numerous requests for media interviews and speaking engagements. Dr. Edmunds has presented at professional conferences, school districts, parent organizations, and other organizations addressing mental health reform, existential approaches, relational approaches, spirituality, self transformation, ethics in practice, diversity, comparative religion, child development and other topics. Fees for speaking engagements within Pennsylvania and New York is $650. The fee for events in other locations within the US is $1000. Please see the website of ICHP for more information and to arrange a speaking engagement.

In addition, Dr.Edmunds has provided consult to school districts in regards to behavioral assessments, individualized education plans, autism and developmental differences, drug free relational approaches for distressed children. To arrange a consultation, please contact via e-mail at:


When I first began academic training as a counselor, I was not exposed to any critical works at all. Part of the training was to accept that mental illness was cased by biological processes, basically chemical imbalances, and that psychiatric drugs were the main avenue of treatment combined with psychotherapy which was seen to be of lesser importance. I did not initially challenge any of this. I like most of my colleagues fell into this pattern of thought. However, it was my experiences visting children's psychiatric facilities, seeing situations of children being abused by staff and staff seeking to cover it up, as well as seeing the devastating effects of some psychiatric drugs (such as a 9 year old with tardive dyskinesia), that many questions were raised in my mind and conscience. From this point, I became exposed to some critical works and began to do thorough research on psychiatric drug effects. Later, I began working with a number of children, some given serious psychiatric labels, and I soon realized that the system really was not listening to their experience, it was not even treating them as human beings. As I began to listen and learn of the experience of many of my clients, I developed a sense of great compassion and vowed that I would take a stand from within the system. This has often been at great cost, but I know that it is my duty to stand up for the vulnerable and to promote social justice and humane treatment.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.


CHICAGO - Cartoons about the psychiatrist’s couch were recently the subject of a museum exhibition. Now, the couch itself may be headed for a museum.

A new study finds a significant decline in psychotherapy practiced by U.S. psychiatrists.

The expanded use of pills and insurance policies that favor short office visits are among the reasons, said lead author Dr. Ramin Mojtabai of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

“The ’couch,’ or, more generally, long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy, was for so long a hallmark of the practice of psychiatry. It no longer is,” Mojtabai said.

Today’s psychiatrists get reimbursed by insurance companies at a lower rate for a 45-minute psychotherapy visit than for three 15-minute medication visits, he explained.

His study found that the percentage of patients’ visits to psychiatrists for psychotherapy, or talk therapy, fell from 44 percent in 1996-97 to 29 percent in 2004-05. The percentage of psychiatrists using psychotherapy with all their patients also dropped, from about 19 percent to 11 percent.

Psychiatrists who provided talk therapy to everyone had more patients who paid out of pocket compared to those doctors who provided talk therapy less often. And they prescribed fewer pills.

'Aura of invincibility' around meds
As talk therapy declined, TV ads contributed to an “aura of invincibility” around drugs for depression and anxiety, said Charles Barber, a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale University and author of “Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation.”

“By contrast, there’s almost no marketing for psychotherapy, which has comparable if not better outcomes,” said Barber, who was not involved in the study.

The findings, published in Monday’s Archives of General Psychiatry, are based on an annual survey of office visits to U.S. doctors. Of more than 246,000 visits sampled during the 10 years, more than 14,000 were to psychiatrists. The researchers analyzed those psychiatrist visits.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Autism and Developmental Differences

Dr.D.L.Edmunds has developed one of few drug free relational programs for autistic and developmentally different children. Dr.Edmunds provides consultation to children, families, and school districts in Northeastern Pennsylvania and is available for phone consultation to those residing in other areas. Dr. Edmunds has worked with over 80 children with developmental challenges, developed a support group, was involved with a therapeutic equestrian program, and has delivered numerous lectures and seminars. His approach encourages autonomy, development of increased independent skills, the forging of emotional connections, and self advocacy. The program is not coercive and respects the dignity of the child. For more information, please see:

Monday, July 28, 2008


Problems in life are inevitable, we cannot escape them, we do have no choice in this. What we do have a choice in is how we wish to address these problems. We have the choice to decide to allow these problems to make us anger, bitter, depressed, anxious, etc. Our other choice is to become patient, to transform our minds towards total acceptance. When problems befall us we can also think of the causes that we may have created or misguided deeds or actions that may have led to our present experience. We must realize that birth, death, aging, and sickness are events we cannot escape. So many people indulge in various distractions and temporary pleasures to not have to think of these events. However, all pleasures lead to suffering. For instance, we may have one drink that is pleasant and relaxing, but multiple can cause us to become ill or hungover. We must begin to examine our minds. Even if we are not raging, we must examine the angry minds we possess. Simply being impatient is an angry mind, it is a mind based on not being able to come to acceptance, of seeking to change that which cannot be changed. One of my clients, age 14, commented that he felt he has always had 'anger problems' and that he feels that he has always 'had problems in my life." I discussed with him the root of his anger, patience, and the concept of total acceptance. I told him that he can change his mind to not look upon himself as the 'kid with problems' but realize that we all undergo problems, it is the human condition, and that he can transform his mind to accept this fact and develop patience and total acceptance.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


In many of the instances of troubled teens I have encountered in my work, I have noticed that a common theme is that they are lacking meaning and purpose. This does not imply that they must have a particular religiosity. What I am referring to is that they have become lost along the way, somewhat apathetic, and their zeal for life has been squashed. Many of these kids are solely of the attitude that 'whatever happens, happens." Because current psychiatric practice is focused on the medicalization of experience, it may be missing a key component to the resiliency and recovery of these troubled teens. Many of them I have worked with have been involved in numerous psychiatric programs, they go through the motions, or they become distrustful, questioning genuineness and sincerity in the system, and still on a quest for something more. The defiant interactions of these children are only fueled more by these problems inherent in current psychiatric practice. When persons feel they are unheard and become desparate, they often adopt a defiant stance. If we sought to create places of sanctuary, places of understanding, places where experience is heard, we may be on a better track to meeting the needs of troubled teens. I have been confused many times how that drug addicted teens are weaned off of street drugs only to be psychiatrically hospitalized and given prescribed drugs. I wonder what message we are sending.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Dr.D.L.Edmunds is the leader of the worldwide movement for a more humane mental health system. An existential therapist working mainly with children and teens, he has developed approaches focused on restoring relationships, developing meaning, and resolving conflicts. His focus has also been in regards to consciousness, extreme states of mind, developmental differences, and exploring the human condition. He has been a strong advocate for social justice issues.
1991- Edmunds serves as a legislative aide to State Senator Robert W. Schaffer. He later serves as the youngest registered professional lobbyist and involves himself in various political campaigns. He becomes a member of Students for Peace and Justice.He serves as a volunteer for the Larimer County Veterans Affairs Office.
1992- gains approval for the creation of a Youth Commission in Ormond Beach,FL. He serves as a campaign coordinator for a congressional campaign. Meets Martin Luther King III.
1993- volunteers with Peninsula Medical Center and as part of the REACH program for developmentally challenged children at St.Brenden's Catholic Church in Ormond Beach.
1994- organizes a student ministry at the University of Florida.
1995- completes coursework in Chinese Buddhism with Dr. Chih wa Chan as well as Comparative Religion and Christian Mysticism with Drs. Dennis Owen and Gene Thursby.
1996- is ordained as a deacon in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
1997- earns a BA in Comparative Religion, minor in Socilogy from the University of Florida. Receives ordination to the priesthood in Greek Old Calendar Orthodox Church.
1998- publishes journal article on the State of the Soul After Death in University of Scranton's Journal for Eastern Christian Studies.
1999- receives MA in Theology from the University of Scranton. Received into National Honor Society for Theological Studies.Begins doctoral program in Community Counseling at University of Sarasota.
2000- completes doctoral level coursework in Dispute Resolution via Nova Southeastern University. Spends a period attached to an Eastern Orthodox monastery.Begins practice as a therapist with a private agency.
2001- hosts local radio program addressing family issues and needs of children.
2002- begins autism support group and publishes articles on relational approaches.
2003- begins delivering lectures on autism and developmental differences as well as drug free relational approaches to ADHD.
2005- presents at ICSPP conference.serves as clinical coordinator for therapeutic equestrian program. Begins work as a psychological evaluator.
2006- delivers a number of speeches and presentations on human rights in the mental health system. Receives Doctorate of Education in Community Counseling from University of Sarasota. Publishes text- Children Our Treasure.
2007- appointed Dean of Faculty and Professor of Religion and Human Services for St. James Theological Seminary. Receives honorary Doctorate of Education.
2008- appointed as faculty and member of Advisory Board for European American University. Received as a clergyman in the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church. Performs ordination to minor orders of a person with Down's Syndrome. Begins work on development of Lazarus House project.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Forces That Drive Us Mad and Being Human Again

There are powerful social forces which are heeped upon us. We cannot escape them. Children are told to behave 'appropriately'. Yet, what is appropriate? What does this mean? It is a social construct, and the most powerful of these social forces is the family. From the earliest point, a child is taught what are the 'appropriate' responses- when and what to laugh at, when to cry and when not to, and often how to feel.The family defines what is 'appropriate' but is it? One family may condone violence, another abhor it. The dynamics of the family shape us for life. What has been the experience of the parents may be forced upon the child to be their experience. Hence why adolescence is often a turbulent time as the teen seeks to become autonomous and create an experience apart from their parents experience or what they have been told to experience. But what of those who are stifled to the point where they can experience nothing but what the other has told them to experience? Here lies some of the root of what we may term 'insanity'. Being that each seeks a level of autonomy, each seeks to have their own experience, when this does not arise, then the person must cast off the shackles of these familial and social forces, often to the extreme of departing from all accepted notions of reality or what is termed by the mainstream as 'acceptable'. Once again, what is 'acceptable'? The message can be contradictory. We may be taught through our familial faith to not harm another, yet we are exposed to the forces of violent society, the prevalent self centeredness and greed, and we may then ask, what is 'acceptable'? Is the 'acceptable' necessarily what we have been taught? Is it necessaerily what we have learned? What is it that we have learned? Is it possible that we may have to unlearn? Behavior results from our experience. If a behavior is deemed by some as maladaptive, it can only be seen in light of experience. But can we really know the experience of another? Will we only choose to judge the experience of another by our own experience? Will we invalidate the other because they do not share our perception of experience? Will we force them to have 'our experience' and thus behave as we do? Are we right? Are we wrong? Who is to say? Could there be commonality in our experiences that we can recognize? Can we journey with each other? To find what is 'acceptable' is to find our humanity, to find our inner being, to find those links of experience which remain in spite of the social forces that cause us to sway this way and that, and for some tear at their core being and identity. When we are free, we can experience the other, when we are free, we can be ourselves. If we are free, we can reshape these social forces, and they will not be storms, but unifying forces helping us to recapture our sense of what it means to be human and to truly love again. How do we be free? Must be become 'mad' to be free? But are the 'mad' really free or have they been driven to this barren place? We can only be free once we have come to a state of unlearning, of unknowing, a rebirth where we are not bound by blame and shame and the darkness of past traumas or of ideas we have learned and carried forward because it is all we knew.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Tonglen is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice. Tonglen means 'giving and taking". It is a selfless meditation where the person envisions and takes in the suffering of another person and gives back compassion and thinking of the happiness of others. This is a practice in virtue and is very useful in our developing not only a greater sense of our own happiness, but further empathy for others. The practice is similar to homeopathy or vaccination in that we take in a small mount of poison that helps to innoculate us from future misery.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

ADHD, BIPOLAR,SCHIZOPHRENIA, PSYCHOSIS- Drug free psychosocial approaches and counseling

Dr. Edmunds is expanding his consultation to school districts, families, and organizations in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York.Please see the following sites for more information:


If I could but change your heart...

If I could but change your heart- to leave behind attachment and greed- If I could but change your heart- to love your fellow man and perform a good deed- If I could but change your heart- to accept with compassion all in need.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Talking with Papouli

To the town, he is the local 'crazyman' who wonders about, at times engaged in conversation with himself. An elderly man with olive complexion, he is seen by some as a hopeless reject. Tonight I sat with him who I refer to as 'Papouli'. We chatted about religion, politics, and his past in the Vietnam War. What a beautiful man, but with such a broken spirit. The psychiatrists and others have said here is a man beyond reason, a schizo with no hope. Yet, I approached him with compassion, and found our conversation most relevant and of interest. Here is a man who has seen the pain of the world and felt it too! We had a wonderful exchange and as he parted he thanked me and said thanks for being there and for a good conversation. Would many even dare speak to him? Would any dare to be his acquiantance, much less his friend? I do not see a crazy man but a man who knows suffering, a man who knows loneliness, a man who knows what man inflicts upon his fellow man. But in him, I see hope. In our conversation, he gives me the vision of what we must change to truly be human and to love again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


In today's American society, we form about 5% of the world's population yet 80% of drugs used for persons given the diagnosis of ADHD are prescribed in the US. Recently, it was reported that the psychiatrist Biederman was reported to have withheld information about his receiving vast amounts of financial incentives from pharmaceutical companies. This same Biederman has promoted the diagnosis of bipolar and it was his work that the psychiatrist for Rebecca Riley relied upon. Rebecca Riley died from the massive drug cocktail she received. She was only 4 years old. There has been increases in the use of untested anti-psychotic drugs in children. These drugs can cause diabetes, tradive dyskinesia, and even lactating breasts in males. Persons are rarely given informed consent and most are unaware of these dangers. Psychiatry has become one of the most greedy and dangerous forces in our culture. It is being looked upon as a new religion and a means to address the human condition. Yet, it ignores the human condition, it ignores person's experience. We have come to the point of pathologizing much of human experience. There has recently been suggested that compulsive shopping and internet addiction are now 'diseases' in need of drug treatment. Psychiatry has become a money making machine geared at social control. American society is becoming a drugged society, a numb society. As a result, America is plummeting within the world scene. Americans are becoming less motivated, less driven, apt to believe the lies told to them, led to believe that there is something wrong within their brains rather than seeing our society as disordered. There has become an apathy, an acceptance of this disordered society as 'the way things are'. Persons are giving away their freedoms, expecting that the State will protect them or that psychiatry's 'technologies" (drugs) will make able to cope with the societal trends. Rather, it is forcing them into compliance to a system needing radical change. People are being made into victims, taught to feel helpless. As Noam Chomsky states, "All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume." We have become a society which shuns individual responsibility. The rich become richer and ride the backs of the poor, yet the poor have accepted their slavery and become apathetic. There is no critical thinking, no questioning of the way things are. Rather than question, there is ready acceptance of what the 'experts' tell us. Some of the disadvantaged see no way to survive but to accept the fact of slavery. It has become profitable for schools, families, foster parents, and others to have a child labeled and drugged. It is a means to keep everyone in their place. Make the child sit down and shut up, so they may be 'educated'. But what has education become? Critical thinking is not part of our current education system, rather it is based on a rote system of once again keeping people in their place and having them continue to keep the machine operating. People are being treated as machines, without thoughts and feelings, merely dispensible objects that are really but a conglommerate of chemical processes, nothing more. We spend billions to intervene in the affairs of other nations and with the guise that this is for our own good, that we are being 'protected'. But if we were to use our own definitions of terrorism to apply to our own policies and actions, we would find that our governmental policies may be some of the worst terrorism of all. But let's play semantics- when we kill, it is war, when they kill, it is terrorism. Change the language and we can deny responsibility and make it 'justifiable.'
When do we decide to wake up? When do we decide to no longer be controlled? When do we decide that we must again think critically? When do we decide to be human again?

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Making peace with teens and creating sanctuary within a family

How do we make sense of the troubled teen? Particularly those who enter the world of addiction, whose family relationships are torn, and who are often seen associating with 'negative' peers? Many will assume that these teens can be easily identified by their style of dress or maybe by their class, but these struggles can be found in many families. Behavior can be seenn but not experience. What the child may interpret as their experience may be very different from the parent and vice versa. What may have been gravely traumatic to the child may not have been seen as such by the family. In our society today which causes us immense stress and pressure to survive (if we are poor) or attain more (if we are well to do) has diverted attention away from understanding experience. Society has now sought to medicalize experience where any thoughts and feelings, any part of our human condition need not be understood but numbed by a pill. We are a numb society responding to societal pressures. These pressures become unleashed on our children. A parent may fear that their child will endure hardship that the parent may have endured so the parent seeks to force and coerce the child 'out of love' to achieve and do what the parent desires. The teen in a state of exerting autonomy feels threatened and thus rejects in toto the guidance of the parent and seeks after peers who will understand their experience and their pain. As I mentioned that we are taught to be a numb society, some teens choose to numb their emotional pain by illicit drugs. This idea has been instilled by our society. The teen may not realize the self destructive course they are taking because they have convinced themselves that they are free. But it is not freedom they possess, for freedom comes with responsibility, rather they have traded one slavery for another. Parents must take the time to understand the world and experience of the teen, to build communication which seeks to understand their desire for autonomy and which respects their experience. An overprotective stance and coercion leads to the breakdown of communication which is vital for any relationship to survive. We often distrust children, we do not allow them the ability to make decisions and when they are poor ones to see the logical consequences. Why is it that adults assume they possess the wisdom when adult society has engaged in numerous conflicts costing many lives? Could children make the right decisions or better decisions if we solely gave them support and listened and journeyed with them rather than seeking to take away their autonomy they so desparately desire? We all seek to be free. When we seek to create the identity and destiny of the teen, we will fail. They will not be able to develop an identity of their own but will grapple with who they are, meaning, and their purpose. We must allow them to find themselves as we as adults function as coaches in this game of life. We cannot think we can play the game for them or can manipulate the results. When we can become involved with children again in a relationship of trust and respect, then it is possible that what is seen as troublesome behavior will diminish. When the child feels validated, supported, heard, and able to have a voice, they will in turn give the same to the parent. We must be cautious of what we model. If we seek to coerce and manipulate the child to meet our desires as adults, we will have manipulative children. Our methods of communication will be the childs methods. If we focus our time on the mundane, we will find children to do likewise or seek to rebel against this system. Because of the imbalance in power, the child's rebellion is never successful but mostly self destructive but they rarely recogbize this. We can restore sanctuary to families, but it is up to each to take ownership and responsibility for creating it.

Dan L. Edmunds,Ed.D.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


First, I must say how thankful I am to be a clergyman of the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church and to have a supportive and loving Archbishop. Archbishop John Kersey has greatly supported my efforts for a humane mental health system and the Lazarus House project is now mentioned at the Church website at
The Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church is an indepedent catholic body respecting freedom of conscience and seeking to share and live Divine Love.
Lazarus House needs to raise funds towards becoming a reality. We need your help. Lazarus House will be a safe and loving environment for distressed people where they can reduce dependency on psychiatric drugs and feel respected and heard. Please contact me if you can help.

Dan L. Edmunds,Ed.D.


I am collaborating with Connie Shuster of Artists for Recovery in establishing a residence in Philadelphia that will offer a safe and supportive environment for people undergoing serious emotional distress. It will be a place where they can be heard and validated and focus on inner discovery. It will also help in reducing dependency on psychiatric drugs. We greatly need support to make this happen. Please contact me or Connie if you would like to help this effort. See the website below for contact info:



Scranton, Pennsylvania and Human Rights

As a resident of the Scranton metro area, it has been exciting for me to see the expansion of our efforts for a more humane mental health system locally. In addition, I was informed that the Institute for Religion and Public Policy will be locating to the Scranton area. It is great to see efforts for the promotion of human rights flourishing in the Scranton area.

Dan L.Edmunds,Ed.D.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Creating a Sanctuary to Safely Come Off Psychiatric Drugs

Connie Shuster of Artists for Recovery is working on a great project in Philadelphia. The project will be similar in scope to Soteria and provide distressed persons a safe and supportive residential environment in which to come off of toxic psychiatric drugs. This is a huge undertaking. I am pleased to support Connie's efforts and hope others will support this project. If you can assist or would like more information about the development of LAZARUS HOUSE, please contact me via the ICHP website:

Dan L. Edmunds,Ed.D.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


At times and by some, when I have shared ideas about a more humane and compassionate mental health system I have been looked upon as a radical. These are not radical ideas but common sense ideas. They are ideas based on our human potential to love and be benevolent. Force and coercion never solve problems, it only creates more trauma. I sadly see this in the children's mental health system where children are vulnerable and have no voice. I have seen the abuses firsthand. Mental health services have become not about mental health and well being but about control through drugs. If a person shakes and convulses because of the drugs, too bad, we will force you because we 'know what is best for you' Giving people a sense of empowerment and choice and building a relationship is what truly helps in recovery, the Soteria project proved this. But there is much money to be made in drugs, compassion does not pay. We want a quick fix or we want not to be troubled by disturbing people. Sedate them, what value do they have anyway? This is how our present society operates. I see this in some families where they seek to create their model child through technology (drugs) but destroy the child and his spirit in the process. What is normal? As Laing statedn normal man has killed millions of his fellow normal men. Hopefully in time we can come to the realization that compassion is not a radical idea, it is rather a noble idea and the best quality of being human.

Dan L. Edmunds,Ed.D.


I recall my interactions with a number of veterans living together in a group home. A number carried a diagnosis of 'schizophrenia'. I served as a chaplain for some of these individuals and many of them became my friends. I fondly remember Joe in particular. He had been in the Vietnam War and came back with serious emotional scars. He would often repeat at times, 'the shock was awful and tremendous'. I would later learn that he had been subjected to electroshock 'treatments'. Joe used to come to the chapel and we would sit and have coffee. Joe enjoyed coversation and I invited him to help set up for services and to participate as an altar server. Joe always was helpful. There were times that Joe would have some unusual behaviors but I tolerated them, and sought to know his experiences and who he was as a person. I recall one of the more unusual experiences was finding Joe in the middle of the road, kneeling, and looking towards the sky. I stopped my car and asked Joe what he was doing in the road. "I am praying." I jokingly said, 'well, I hope you are praying not to get hit by a car." Joe laughed and I took his hand and led him back to his home. I told Joe that if he wanted to pray that his room would be a far better setting. I saw the immense power in joining in, building a relationship, and seeking to understand. I remember as well that there as a veteran who frequently could annoy others and be disruptive when there was a religious service. He would ask me, "can I have some wine" and repeat this as a mantra. Though I was not sure if he was allowed to have the wine, I agreed to give him a cup at the end of the service if he would agree to respect the others. He was very respectful and together we shared a cup of wine. From there, we began a conversation, and he also began to be more kind to to the others in the group home.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.



First, we must stop looking through the eyes of a medical model, where we see children as broken and disordered and attempts are made to attributing their behaviors and emotions solely to a malfunctioning brain. There is no evidence supporting the psychopathology of a number of disorders. The linkage between the pharmaceutical companies and psychiatry needs to be evaluated as well as the information that is disseminated via the research and materials provided by pharmaceutical company money. One such example is CHADD, the 'support' group for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD that has received a great deal of his funding from the pharmceutical companies. The goal should be to examine the underlying factors of a child's behavior, looking at the child with dignity and respect, and seeing the child as one in conflict rather than a person who is disordered. Such stigmatization remains indefinitely, and labels can often become a self fulfilling prophecy and will follow our children for years to come and shape the way that they view themselves and also the way others view them, particularly the educational system. We cannot look to solely the most cost effective solution when our children's lives are at stake. Indeed, providing a prescription may control aspects of behavior and be though to have a 'therapeutic effect' but never gets to the root cause, and whereas it is far less expensive to medicate than to provide ongoing psychotherapy, it is appropriate and compassionate counsel that will make the difference. Second, the realm of psychotherapy must return to its orginal roots. The word psychotherapy literally means the healing of the soul. We must return the soul to therapy, encouraging therapists to instill within themselves the principles of compassion and empathy that are crucial for any therapeutic relationship to blossom forth. Therapists need to be compassionate and creative, and willing to give additional time and effort to see that a child's needs are met and to also provide community linkages and ongoing support within their environment and to encourage the least restrictive setting for our children. The coercion of parents and families into forced 'treatments' needs to be eliminated. Third, the educational system must be willing to accomodate to meet the various learning styles of children and not seek to place them in a box of rote learning or limit them to one particulat style. Some children may falter in a visual setting and need a hands on approach, whereas others may need other methods of encouraging their effective learning. We must return time, attention, and individuality to the classroom. Fourth, parents need to continue to take an active role in the lives of their children, providing ongoing guidance, validating emotions and not taking a dismissive, disapproving, or hands off approach. Rather, parents must be involved in helping the children develop their own sense of being, and being able to assess themselves. Parents need to avoid nagging their children and becoming entrapped in the propaganda that their children are disordered and need drugs to function. Fifth, our society must change in it attitudes. We are a society where we try to find our answers to ailments within a simple pill. We are a society that has unfortunately lost sight for the welfare of our children. We are a societry where we are prosperous, yet greed often blinds us. Such disorders such as ADHD can be looked upon as a social construct. 90% of Ritalin sales are in the US. This tells us that there is something to be examined within our society that needs correction. Somewhere along the line we have failed our children. This is not to lay blame on any particular individual but to understand that our children are in crisis, and it is up to all of us to take the steps for change. We need to rely less on psychiatry and its devices to solve our problems and more on what we can do within ourselves- to take a holistic approach, to understand the child as a whole person- physical, emotional, and spiritual, and to examine in each of these areas where there may be difficulties that can be alleviated. We need to rely less on others dictating the course of our own and our children's lives and develop workable plan within our own family structure. Nothing will ever be perfect, but even in the most serious disturbances, love and compassion can heal much. We must realize that in some situations within society and within our own lives, we may never be able to evoke complete change. This is the cause of much distress, not problems themselves but how we respond to them. To battle those things beyond our control can lead us to emotional distress, but if we seek live as principled individuals, we can make a difference. What we model to our children and to others has a lasting impact.

Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I am deeply inspired by the work of British psychologist Rufus May. Here is a gentleman suffering psychiatric abuse, diagnosed as schizophrenic and given no hope and fed the lie that he must always takepsch drugs yet recovers and becomes a psychologist! How does biopsychiatry explain such occurrences? I am pleased to support Dr. May and his work to truly understand those undergoing extreme states of mind.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Respect for Autistics Program

In the desire to offer support to autistic and developmentally different children, I have initiated a consultation program to school districts and families in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York that focuses on relational approaches and encourages self advocacy, self determination, and helps the person be able to navigate through the mainstream. Please view the ICHP website for more info or contact me at DoctorEdmunds@DrDanEdmunds.com to arrange a consult.

Monday, March 24, 2008


We are controlled in this country by a ruling elite, whether we wish to recognize it or not. The elite have their paths paved for them. The middle class struggle to survive and are burdened and the elite seek to make them slaves to the system. For example, a middle class young person will be burdened with student loan debt possibly until the day they retire, the elite do not face this. The elite have created this system to keep people 'in their place'. For the poor, the elite have sought to entice them with financial incentives if they will go along with the sad debacle of having their children labeled as 'crazy' or to be shipped off to fight the wars that the elite have created and benefit from. Some are more than willing to submit to this system, to receive the governmental handouts and to abdicate their freedom as well as any responsibility for themselves or their children. The elite seeks to keep this nation ingorant and stupid. Our educational system has become not about learning at all but rather regurgitation of information as the elite would have it. There is no present presidential candidate or any poltiician for that matter that can really save us from the mess we are in. Our only real hope is for people to flee from ignorance and to awaken to the real situation we are in, and for there to exist a true effort to restore social justice. Is it too late?
We must examine the inherent dynamics within families and within society where individuals enact violence upon one another to obtain their own particular selfish interests. This violence may be subtle and may even be said to be done because of love, but underlying it is selfish interest and desire. People are looking to fit a particular model of what it is to 'fit the norm'. Be it cosmetic surgery or psychiatric drugs, we are seeking to escape the actual realities of the human condition. We seek distractions and entertainments. We do not truly want to face the human condition. We only seek to try to escape it. Those who do not fit to our desires are made to be scapegoats, or they are shuffled away, or their freedom is taken away from them. We do not seek to udnerstand them nor do we want to understand them. In families, there can often be one child who is designated 'the problem' and all the dysfunction and turmoil of the family is laid upon this child. They will be the one drugged into submission or sent away so that the family can continue to pursue their selfish interests.
Can we once again become people of compassion? Can we once again be people of understanding? Can we accept what it means to be human? Can we be a human family?

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


When children have experieced abuse and abandonment in early childhood, this often becomes a 'seared in' memory and halts emotional development to the point where the trauma occurred. They may be seen to have a more 'infantile' mind. These feelings of abandonment are often furthered by demeaning words and condescending language used with the child. Each times this occurs, the child begins to look at themselves as a 'non-entity'. They experience existential death. The external conflict that children see amongst their parents becomes an internal conflict for them, the internal conflict then manifests itself externally (usually as aggression). The child becomes devoid of trust, and those who draw near often becomes the persons who this internal conflict is unleashed upon. It is not that the child is devoid of any feeling for the person seeking to connect with them, it is rather that every connection had strings attached or every connection has been severed. The child becomes anxious and afraid of loss, of even losing themselves, if they are to try again to embark on the process of building a trusting relationship. Laing (1969) stated that 'if there is anything the schizoid individual is likely to believe in, it his his own destructiveness. He is uanble to believe that he can fill his own emptiness without reducing what is there to nothing.' It will be common then for these children to question whether they deserve 'happiness' and many times question if they even 'deserve to exist'. The children who have undergone the trauma of abuse and abandonment lack an identity of their own, they appear as a construct of others and often are conformist. They do what they feel will earn them the praise of others. But in reality this is based on their own fears and their negative perceptions of themselves. These children are prone to be seen as manipulative, but this is because they are seeking to exercise control over some aspect of their lives when prior they had absolutely no control. They strive for ideals they cannot be met. Often their intense desire to control or to engage in certain activities in reality is a crying out for their real desire- to have an actual loving and trusting relationship. But these children do not know how to respond to an outpouring of love. They feel that they do not have a voice, are not heard. It is easier for them to feel hated than engulfed by love, particularly when they have seen love to be about control. They desire autonomy and feel they will lose it in the process of building a true relationship. These children may begin to also de-personalize, they may not be prepared to relate to other persons. They may be perceived as lacking empathy, however this is not that it is not there or could not be there, rather it is their fear that blocks their emotional expression of empathy.
These children are often very hurt so they feel they must hurt others.
What do we do? How do we reach such a child? It requires a patient approach. We must allow the child to vent their frustrations. We must share our understanding that we know they are hurt. We must journey with them as they relate their experience of trauma. We do not judge them or withdraw. Even when their emotional expressions may cause us to be afraid, we continue to reach out. We need to be able to forge relationship know matter what and to help the child come to an understanding of life's impermanency, yet we can still strive for happiness now. The trauma is past and does not need to haunt us. We can encourage this child to explore their own sense of self and engage in activities that give them a positive sense of self worth apart from others. Caregivers and others need to make themselves emotionally available, to look at emotional expression as a time for intimacy and teaching. We need to be able to understand the behaviors, even that which are annoying to us, as a means of communication, and when the child is in the 'right space', to communicate with them and help them process those feelings that were behind whatever incident occurred.
We may be prone to drug the child because the behaviors are seen as 'out of control' or 'disturbing', but whereas this may cause the problematic behavior to lessen, we may be making a grave mistake. We may be subduing the very process by which the child is able to release the tension and pain. We may be numbing but not looking a tthe root cause. Unless we see the behavior, how can we truly know what to do? If we cannot allow the child to express their distress, how will we truly know of their distress?
To be simple, our means of reaching this child is this- to be with them unconditionally.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.


The causation of autism remains in the realm of theory and is speculative. There exists many approaches towards how individuals and society regard autistic individuals. Autism is an umbrella term. It is not a disease, nor is it really an 'entity' in itself. Rather, it is a description of how a person acts and how they relate to their world. Autism is thus very much a part of who the person is. Many programs (such as ABA) seek to alter the autistic person and make them something other. The question is what exactly are we seeking to make the autistic person into and how exactly are we going to make that change? Are we solely seeking to coerce and force a person to behave as a 'typical' person would? Are we programming the person to act in ways that the majority would find more acceptable? Are we assuming that the autistic person is not to be valued? Are we assuming that the autistic person has no innate strengths because they may be developmentally different?
Are we assuming that these individuals lack communication because they may not speak? Are we assuming the likes and dislikes of the autistic person? Are we assuming that they lack intellect?
The attitudes that we put forward are readily understood and perceived. Because an autistic person may lack verbal communication does not mean they do not communicate. It is for the non-autistic persons to be able to learn the language. And it is hear that I given an analogy of what our relationship and help to autistic persons should be. If I am from India and speak Hindi, and I move to England, should I be expected to give up my culture, my language, my identity and adopt all that it means to be 'English'? However, if I do not learn English and something about what life is like in England, I may indeed have some challenges within that society. Therefore, those who wish to help the autistic person should not be set on the notion that they must change the person or force them to be 'typical' but rather accept their developmental difference and guide them into understanding something about the majority who are unlike them, so that they can be able to navigate through society with lesser challenges.
It is necessary for us to see beyond the label. It is necessary for us to understand the autistic person's experience and not come to assumptions based solely on what we may conclude from our limited observation. We must respect the autonomy of autistic persons, allowing them to advocate for themselves, and not bore them with rote exercises that frustrate them or with conceptions that they are a nuisance and that part of who they are must be eradicated. We can begin to join in with them, we can help to forge emotional connections. The autistic person may struggle with their conceptions of bodily space, they may experience sensory challenges that make the mainstream world a confusing place to be. Those in the helping professions must keep sight of compassion and patience and be able to help the autistic person explore and navigate through the world at their own pace. We cannot overwhelm. But because an autistic person may face the challenges I mention does not mean that they lack understanding, often they understand very well, it is us non-autistic persons who do not understand but think that we do. We can only understand by being with and joining with those who know firsthand what it is to be developmentally different.
We can seek to be guides and facilitators, to provide a voice when one may be lacking a voice, to journey with, not to coerce or change.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I am very pleased to have been invited to attend a meeting with representatives of the foster care/ child protective agencies in the State of Florida to discuss the dismal failure of this system. The majority of children in this setting are not being placed with relatives but in highly restrictive placements. In addition, a vast number of these children are being given psychiatric drugs that carry risk of suicidality, mania, and/or permanent neurological damage. The system is not understanding the experience of these children but solely looking at a glimpse of their behavior after being ripped from their natural families and then assigning a diagnosis and drugs. There is an obvious financial incentive to take this unfortunate line of action with these children. It is my hope that vast reform and change can be implemented in this system for the well being of young people.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Drugs Offer No Benefit in Curbing Aggression, Study Finds

The drugs most widely used to manage aggressive outbursts in intellectually disabled people are no more effective than placebos for most patients and may be less so, researchers report.

The finding, being published Friday, sharply challenges standard medical practice in mental health clinics and nursing homes in the United States and around the world.

In recent years, many doctors have begun to use the so-called antipsychotic drugs, which were developed to treat schizophrenia, as all-purpose tranquilizers to settle threatening behavior — in children with attention-deficit problems, college students with depression, older people with Alzheimer’s disease and intellectually handicapped people.

The new study tracked 86 adults with low I.Q.’s in community housing in England, Wales and Australia over more than a month of treatment. It found a 79 percent reduction in aggressive behavior among those taking dummy pills, compared with a reduction of 65 percent or less in those taking antipsychotic drugs.

The researchers focused on two drugs, Risperdal by Janssen, and an older drug, Haldol, but said the findings almost certainly applied to all similar medications. Such drugs account for more than $10 billion in annual sales, and research suggests that at least half of all prescriptions are for unapproved “off label” uses — often to treat aggression or irritation.

The authors said the results were quite likely to intensify calls for a government review of British treatment standards for such patients, and perhaps to prompt more careful study of treatment for aggressive behavior in patients with a wide variety of diagnoses.

Other experts said the findings were also almost certain to inflame a continuing debate over the widening use of antipsychotic drugs. Patient advocates and some psychiatrists say the medications are overused.

Previous studies of the drugs’ effect on aggressive outbursts have been mixed, with some showing little benefit and others a strong calming influence. But the drugs have serious side effects, including rapid weight gain and tremors, and doctors have had little rigorous evidence to guide practice.

“This is a very significant finding by some very prominent psychiatrists” — one that directly challenges the status quo, said Johnny L. Matson, a professor of psychology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, co-author of an editorial with the study in the journal Lancet.

While it is unclear how much the study by itself will alter prescribing habits, “the message to doctors should be, think twice about prescribing, go with lower doses and monitor side effects very carefully,” Dr. Matson continued, adding:

“Or just don’t do it. We know that behavioral treatments can work very well with many patients.”

Other experts disagreed, saying the new study was not in line with previous research or their own experience. Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, said that Risperdal only promotes approved uses, which in this country include the treatment of irritability associated with autism in children.

In the study, Dr. Peter J. Tyrer, a professor of psychiatry at Imperial College London, led a research team who assigned 86 people from ages 18 to 65 to one of three groups: one that received Risperdal; one that received another antipsychotic, the generic form of Haldol; and one that was given a placebo pill. Caregivers tracked the participants’ behavior. Many people with very low I.Q.’s are quick to anger and lash out at others, bang their heads or fists into the wall in frustration, or singe the air with obscenities when annoyed.

After a month, people in all three groups had settled down, losing their temper less often and causing less damage when they did. Yet unexpectedly, those in the placebo group improved the most, significantly more so than those on medication.

In an interview, Dr. Tyrer said there was no reason to believe that any other antipsychotic drug used for aggression, like Zyprexa from Eli Lilly or Seroquel from AstraZeneca, would be more effective. Being in the study, with all the extra attention it brought, was itself what apparently made the difference, he said.

“These people tend to get so little company normally,” Dr. Tyrer said. “They’re neglected, they tend to be pushed into the background, and this extra attention has a much bigger effect on them that it would on a person of more normal intelligence level.”

The study authors, who included researchers from the University of Wales and the University of Birmingham in Britain and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, wrote that their results “should not be interpreted as an indication that antipsychotic drugs have no place in the treatment of some aspects of behavior disturbance.”

But the routine prescription of the drugs for aggression, they concluded, “should no longer be regarded as a satisfactory form of care.”