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

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Psychiatrists are college educated, white collar drug dealers who have received sanction to deal their drugs. Their drugs disable the brain, causing a chemical imbalance (which never existed before), subdue the person, and somehow the person becoming docile is interpreted as 'progress'. Rather than society truly addressing oppression in all its forms, we allow the psychiatrists to numb, so we do not have to think.

Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.
International Center for Non-Psychiatric Alternatives

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I have been very inspired by the life and work of Dr. Rufus May. His humane approaches towards distressed persons is something I seek to encourage as well and I appreciate his explanation from actual experience of how the current mental health system operates and what we need to do to develop more understanding and compassion.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

The mad doctor: The extraordinary story of Dr Rufus May, the former psychiatric patient

At the age of 18, Rufus May was diagnosed as an incurable schizophrenic and locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Now, he is a respected psychologist and a passionate campaigner on mental health issues. He is also the guest editor of this special issue. Here, he tells his extraordinary tale

Sunday, 18 March 2007

When I was aged 18, I witnessed first hand how society's approach to mental health wasn't working. I was admitted to Hackney hospital - a psychiatric hospital - and told that I could not leave. On the verge of adulthood, and feeling lost after my girlfriend had left me, I had invested in a spiritual search for guidance. The messages I picked up from the Bible convinced me I had a mission. Seeking to discover what my mission was, I slowly deduced that I was quite possibly an apprentice spy for the British secret service. I was eventually admitted to hospital when I became convinced that I had a gadget in my chest that was being used to control my actions.

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Psychiatric hospital was like another world entirely. Queues for the medication trolley punctuated the boredom and general sense of hopelessness. Any resistance to the regime was quashed by forcible restraints and powerful injections. Many friends felt too scared to visit me.

That experience coupled with being given a diagnosis of schizophrenia made me feel like a social outcast. When my parents were told my condition was probably genetically inherited, the die seemed irrevocably cast. Ward rounds felt like elaborate religious rituals conducted by the consultant psychiatrist, with an audience of medical students and student nurses observing, while my insanity was confirmed and long-term drug treatment prophesied. I found the medication made me feel empty and soulless; I could not think past considering my basic needs. The drugs made me physically weaker and affected my hormones so I became impotent.

I was concerned about this. However, to the outside world, because of the mind-numbing effects of the drugs, I was less focussed on my spy and spiritual beliefs. The doctors pronounced that I was responding well to the medication. I was determined to stop taking the tablets and injections as soon as I could find other ways of staying calm and centred.

The majority of fellow patients were revolving-door patients. I myself was told I'd be back. It was true: I was readmitted twice before I managed to escape the role of mentally ill regular customer. But I was luckier than most: as well as my parents visiting me daily, a close friend came back from selling pots and pans to US servicemen in Germany and began visiting me daily too. I started to pick up on her belief that this breakdown, or whatever it was I was having, was something I could get over.

When I was 12 years old, I had witnessed my mother make a strong recovery from a disabling brain haemorrhage, so instinctively I knew that I could turn my life around with the right support. So I decided not to believe in the doctor's wisdom and planned to get a job as soon as I left hospital. While I was still in hospital, I started going to churches and community centres offering to do voluntary work. Although I must have seemed a bit odd, I found many kind people who were willing to give me tasks to do and slowly I started to rebuild some social skills.

When a friend and fellow patient, Celine, took her own life after being heavily over-medicated, it became a turning point for me. It was a Caribbean funeral and hundreds of people turned up for it. It contrasted strongly with the absence of support she had had when she had been alive and hearing abusive voices from her past.

I realised then that I had found a cause that needed no delusions to support it. Like Celine, I had gone through the strange process of being talked to as if I was not there, of professionals trying to suppress my odd and disturbing behaviour with drugs without trying to understand why I was acting as I was. No one seemed willing to think what was it like to walk in my shoes.

We, as a society, were making people madder and maybe I could do something about changing that. What if I could make a different kind of come-back to the psychiatric ward, as a mental health professional? Then perhaps, in Trojan horse style, I could help dismantle the myths of the psychiatric hierarchy. The more I thought about this, the more I realised I would have to keep my former identity as a psychiatric patient strictly under-cover.

When a junior psychologist informally questioned my diagnosis of schizophrenia, suggesting I had had a temporary psychotic episode instead, it made me think maybe psychology was a way of doing things differently. So my mission was becoming clearer: I would train as a psychologist. I knew I needed to sort myself out to some extent before attempting this journey.

My first job, straight out of psychiatric hospital, was working as a night security guard in north London's Highgate Cemetery. I now think that patrolling the heavily wooded grounds in the dark was a deeply therapeutic activity. With no time to daydream, I had to stay aware and face my fears of the dark and the unknown. I also think just walking in close proximity to nature was a very healing process.

It was during this time that I successfully came off my psychiatric medication, against doctors' advice. I then spent several years doing a range of jobs and learning creative ways to express myself, using dance and drama. I shifted my focus from thinking about myself to trying to help others, while making sure I looked after my mind and body. I used the outdoor gym on Parliament Hill, sport and breathing exercises as natural ways to manage my moods. I was careful to avoid unreliable or abusive friends and stick with people who had stuck by me. Studying sociology helped me understand the wider structures of society, demystifying such things as the class system and power relations between men and women.

I was reminded of the prejudice against the subject of mental illness when a right-on community centre refused to support me and a group of amateur drama students putting on a play about a nervous breakdown. Nevertheless, from drama classes I learnt the art of re-inventing oneself through improvisation. I will always remember how one of my drama teachers impressed upon us all the message that "this life is not a rehearsal". My confidence in acting was to become useful over the next 10 years of carework and psychology training, where I chose to keep quiet about my previous role as a psychiatric patient, to avoid the possibility of discrimination.

For me, the dividing line between the mentally ill and the sane was more a question of social boundaries than actuality. I had found some very mad people in hospital very helpful and some of the so-called "well" nurses quite bullying and hostile, it suggested to me that to some extent madness was in eyes of the beholder. I also knew that my own madness had been meaningful; for example, my fantasies about being a spy had given my life meaning and my search for a spying mission was a metaphoric search for a meaningful quest in my life.

My training as a psychologist in the early 1990s, coincided with a time when psychology as a profession was beginning to interest itself in trying to understand and work with madness, an area which was usually associated with the more medical, drug-prescribing profession of psychiatry. For the past 10 years I have been working as a psychologist covering a broad range of mental-health problems. I know that to really help someone who is deeply suffering or confused, we need to be very creative and offer a wide range of resources.

In Bradford we have self-help groups where people are encouraged to help others as well as themselves. We also create spaces where for example art, spirituality and physical relaxation can be explored in a number of different ways. We have Tai Chi classes, dance classes and African art classes, as well as political and cultural discussion groups. If people hear troubling voices, I want to understand these beings that haunt them. I will sometimes communicate directly with the voices and try to facilitate a peace process between the voices and the person hearing them.

I must be living proof that people can resist so-called command hallucinations, because initially many voices feel threatened by me and tell the voice hearer to attack me. I am still unscathed, which is a strong testimony to the fact that people who hear voices can learn to resist the most bullying and aggressive of them. So instead of encouraging people to suppress their experiences, which I think generally makes them worse, I try to assist people to face their demons in their own time.

Is society any madder than 20 years ago when I was in hospital? It seems to me that some things are getting worse and some things are getting better. People are getting bolder in talking about their experiences of distress and madness. This is refreshing; the status quo, in which well-meaning professionals and charity heads are the only experts, is starting to be challenged. Britain is a leading light in this consciousness raising, where people are coming out more and more about their experiences of emotional distress. Consequently, a broader range of ideas and approaches to what helps us heal troubled minds is being listened to.

At the same time, the might of the pharmaceutical industry is stronger than ever before; drug companies are ruthlessly promoting the simplistic and misleading "chemical imbalance" theory of mental distress, while marketing our discontent as diagnosable medical illnesses. In the US, they have been very successful, with roughly 10 per cent of women taking anti-depressants and an astonishing 10 per cent of children being treated for ADHD with the amphetamine derivative Ritalin. Each year in this country, prescription rates rise for psychiatric medication.

While I am not against all use of mind-altering drugs, this trend is worrying. I think that when drugs appear to work, the main effect is that of masking a patient's problems, but as soon as you remove them the problems bounce back, often with a little more oomph due to the fact they have been artificially suppressed. You also need more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect, because our brains build up a resistance to all mood-altering substances. We are then likely to experience the more negative effects of the medication and develop a dependence.

So drugs are limited in their usefulness and are perhaps best used as a last resort and for short periods of time. This is not going to be popular in the board rooms of Big Pharma, the Big Brother of mental health. But if we are going to make progress in our quest for healthier communities, we are going to have to limit the pharmaceutical industry's influence on how we understand our minds and approach the recovery process.


ROOTS OF DISTRESS addresses the social, familial, and political processes that drive people 'mad' and leads to serious emotional distress. It examines the methods of communication within families, the social problems we face, and explores means of creating transformation in ourselves and how we interact with others and our world. The text is available to be ordered at http://stores.lulu.com/voice4kids.
Also available at this site are prior works-

Our behaviors are how we communicate distress; they are for some the only form of communication they know.
Is our work solely leading people to become proper conformists, to do what others are doing? Is our work solely to make people adapt to totalitarianism, to do what they are told to do? It has always been these two processes that have led to the most dangerous of outcomes. When freedom and autonomy are taken, and individuals can no longer be individuals, when critical thinking has ceased, we have entered a dreadful place. Maybe we are already there.

Being a deviant from the structure can have dire consequences for the child, from within the family structure itself and as a result of the energies wasted in a struggle to change something where they have not been empowered to evoke change. They are left only to comply. Their unhappiness and discontent will be ignored to preserve the 'integrity of the family structure."

Familial secrets exist, trust is lacking, and children are guarded about their expression. Children may be lied to and dilemmas between family members masked or suppressed. The real nature of things may be shrouded in confusion and 'mystery'. Mixed messages may arise, or the members of the family may see themselves placed in 'damned if you do and damned if you don't situations." Some family members may frustrate themselves in striving for the 'ideal' structure which never arrives.

In the dysfunctional structure, as in oppressive societal regimes, there are those who seek rebellion. Rebellion against the structure becomes more pronounced in the stage of adolescence where already the teenager is beginning to exert a greater sense of autonomy and desire to be apart from the familial structure. However, because children lack the resources for which to engage in a rebellion that could be successful, the rebellion is always squashed. What does this leave the child to do? They can do little but endure and await the period where they can break free from the structure that they find oppressive.


What exactly is a person? We live, but what does it mean to actually live? Who are we? Where are we going? What exactly are we doing? Must we do anything? Must we go anywhere? It is innate in us to search out for meaning, wherever it may lie.

What is success? We may find many, many answers. It is often our view of what success is that shapes our vision, our goals, and ultimately who we are and will become. Our views of success should be tempered with the reality of our mortality.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


We must look at the various psychiatric labels that are put upon persons as social constructs. If we take for instance, the label of "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)" this tells us alot about the society in which we reside. We have become a society based on competitiveness and where each must 'fight their way to the top', this becomes taught early on in schools and particularly the college admission process. We see the aftermath of these ideas in the corruption we are seeing as well as our current economic woes. ADHD is thus a direct product of a capitalistic society. And what is labeled as personality disorders and schizophrenia and other psychoses are resultant of familial, social, and political traumas, basically oppression inflicted on individuals. But, we have become a mechanical society, bent on seeking to fit in, thus individuals are finding various means to alter themselves (never really knowing or udnerstanding their actual selves) be it through cosmetic surgery or altering their personality and moods through the use of psychiatric drugs. We are being told that "if you become depressed because you lost your job, or you are being discriminated against, or your neighborhoods are not safe, do not worry- there is a drug that will make you feel better" all the while nothing in the environment changes. If we expect people to be more fulfilled, for a real sense of 'mental health' to arise, then we must focus on a radical transformation of ourselves and our society. If we choose not to do that, we will only become more and more mechanical, and we must ask- can such a society truly survive? Will there come a time where we are all driven mad?

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A few stories from my past therapeutic work...

I recall with with fondness, a 5 year old boy I had worked with who had been given a diagnosis of autism. He was completely non-verbal when I first encountered him. He came into my office and began to bang on the computer keyboard. So, out in the main room of the clinic was a large pit of plastic balls. So, I told him, "I am going to have to scoop you up and throw you in the ballpit." He smiled and walked away, only to return to the keyboard with his hand outstretched towards the keyboard, not touching it, just grinning. Just as he touched it, I picked him up and said, "yep, to the ballpit with you." He giggled and smiled, and then returned to the keyboard again, but this time he did not touch it, he just fell into my arms and then for the first time spoke to me, "Throw me in."
In working with a gentleman with Down's Syndrome, I came to discover that he had a dream of being a minister and spent alot of time reading spiritual texts. He frequently would ask me the question- "how do I have a pure heart." And we would have various discussions on ways to treat others kindly and so forth. When he would be argumentative with his mother, she only need say "that's not a pure heart" for him to take a kinder tone. In wanting to help him to fulfill his desire for ministry, I wrote to the Bishop of the LCAC and explained I wanted to have a ceremony and give some sort of responsibility to this person so that he would feel his dream of being a minister had been fulfilled, if only partially. So, this is exactly what we did, a service was held at which he participated and he was admitted to the role of a cleric and given various responsibilities within his means. This event brought enormous joy to him and his family. Similarly, many years prior, I had helped an autistic person with the same dream to become ordained as a deacon in his church, and he later assisted me in my work as a chaplain at a facility for the elderly.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I was informed of an autism telethon being hosted in my area (Northeastern Pennsylvania) and is to benefit "The Northeast Regional Autism Center at Friendship House". First, this program much like the Autistic Society of America are operated by non-autistics who believe that they know what is best for the autistic individual and whose basis is on forcing and coercing young autistic persons into being 'normal' (whatever that may mean). So, individuals who support such programs are led to believe they are helping, or that they are 'helping those poor autistic children." But they are not, maybe without even realizing it they are supporting their oppression. They fail to realize that autistic persons are seeking respect, dignity, and autism (just as left handedness or sexual orientation) is a part of who they are. Autistic persons may need supportive people to help them 'navigate through the mainstream' but they do not need programs that try to force them to be something they are not. I speak this as a person who it was suggested that I may be within 'the autism spectrum" but I have never been one for labels. I fully support the Autism National Committee and autistics.org- the real voice of autism as these groups are actually operated by autistic persons. I am also pleased to see that there exists an Autistic Liberation Movement. As this movement has stated many times-autistic individuals are persons, not puzzles.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.


*It is very pleasing that FINALLY the corrupt schemes of NAMI is becoming to become made known to the public. Hopefully individuals will begin to realize that NAMI is NOT an advocacy organization but rather a front group for pharmaceutical companies.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Bloomberg News - 6 April 2009

Grassley Probes Financing of Advocacy Group for Mental Health

By Nicole Gaouette

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley expanded his investigation into drug
company influence on the practice of medicine by asking a nonprofit
mental-health-advocacy group about its funding.

In a letter sent today to the National Alliance for Mental Illness,
based in Arlington, Virginia, Grassley asked the nonprofit group to
disclose any financial backing from drug companies or from
foundations created by the industry.

The Iowa Republican, in a series of hearings and investigations, has
focused on financial ties between the drug industry, doctors and
academic institutions. His efforts have led New York-based Pfizer
Inc. to begin disclosing consulting payments to U.S. doctors, and
Harvard Medical School in Boston to reexamine its conflict-of-
interest policies. Now Grassley is expanding his inquiries to
nonprofit groups.

"I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical
industry shapes the practices of nonprofit organizations which
purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions," Grassley
wrote in his letter.

Officials at the National Alliance for Mental Illness didn't return
calls for comment.

The group identifies itself as the largest grassroots organization in
the U.S. for people with mental illness and their families. The group
came under scrutiny in 1999, when the magazine Mother Jones reported
that 18 drug companies gave the group $11.7 million from 1996 to
mid-1999. The article reported that at one point an executive of
Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. worked out of the nonprofit
group's headquarters.

A 2007 annual report showed that the group's corporate partners at
that time included Madison, New Jersey-based Wyeth; London-based
GlaxoSmithKline Plc; Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac; and the
Washington-based trade group Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America.

Financial Report

A separate financial report shows the National Alliance for Mental
Illness brought in $10.5 million in contributions in the year that
ended June 30, 2007. The donors aren't broken out.

Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection,
a New York-based nonprofit that promotes ethical research, said the
National Alliance for Mental Illness may have drawn Grassley's
attention because it lobbies Congress for mental-health funding.

"Academics and physicians give an appearance of authority," Sharav
said by telephone. "Industry gives them the money. Grassley has been
going after each group systematically, and the dots are being

In January, Grassley and Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat,
reintroduced the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which would require
manufacturers to report on payments to doctors and any physician-
owned facility.

Pfizer Announcement

Grassley's investigations have led to changes in industry and
academia. Pfizer made its announcement about disclosing physician
payments in February. In March, the American Psychiatric Association
said it would no longer accept industry support for symposiums and
meals at its annual meetings.

On April 1, Stanford University School of Medicine, near Palo Alto,
California, said it would post on a Web site all income faculty
earned from royalty payments and outside consulting.

In the March 31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical
Association, a group of researchers and physicians called for
professional medical associations to transform their operations to
avoid conflicts of interest posed by "extensive funding from
pharmaceutical and device companies." The group included Steven
Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

In looking back upon the work of the radical psychiatrist, David Cooper, I was particularly impressed with his term of 'liberation zone'. In this psychotherapy should be a place where a person is able to feel free to be themselves and to be able to shake off the shackles that constrain them and lead them to distress and despair. In my book, ROOTS OF DISTRESS ( http://stores.lulu.com/voice4kids ), I have commented extensively on the social and political processes leading to emotional turmoil as well as emphasizing the need to return to understanding experience as well as creating community.
I have expressed as well the frustration with seeing children who are trapped in situations of mistreatment, situations that perpetuate distress and lead to madness, and that manys approach is to solely have them conform or 'adapt' or 'cope' with the injustices. Or worse, they are removed from the situation only to be subjected to new circumstances (hospitalization, residential 'treatment') that only further perpetuates distress and causes alienation. So, I suggest that we need to look carefully at this term of 'liberation zone'. We need to establish places where our sense of community can flourish, where children (and adults as well) can work through the injustices perpetuated upon them, to feel safe again, a place of true sanctuary. If we began to develop these sort of places, then we would be truly contributing to the well being and 'mental health' of persons. But, a situation as this would run very counter to our societal greed, of our expectation to make profit at the expense of another, or really to make profit off the suffering of another.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.