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, December 30, 2010


A colleague asked me about the first person I had worked with as a psychotherapist. Granted, prior I had provided counseling as a chaplain, my first actual therapeutic encounter was in 1999. I visited a psychiatric ward where an 18 year old trans-gender person was a patient. He had engaged in some self-mutilation and his family life was disastrous. I was told his name, but he asked me to refer to him by a female name, which respectfully, I did. I will admit some initial discomfort myself and wondering if I would be able to make a connection. I chose to simply listen to his tragic story and I learned of the brutality he experienced in his family and the challenges he faced with issues concerning his gender identity. The focus of our time was merely 'being with' and supporting. I was greatly concerned for this person, and after our brief time together inquired often about his status after he was discharged. I was pleasantly surprised that he had found a trans-gender minister who was able to guide him further and things began to ease for him.
This was my first lesson in learning about the importance of listening, supporting, and the building of relationship as the fundamentals in emotional healing. Shortly after this, when working with a community based mental health agency, I was assigned a 12 year old boy who many had given up on, as he was diagnosed as 'psychotic' and had an extensive history in the psychiatric system. No one else wanted to deal with him. Though his situation was quite challenging, I was able to develop a strong alliance and we worked through many complicated issues. I later asked why I was chosen to work with him after being told he was the 'most difficult client', and was told that it was because of my ability to 'listen and connect'. I have carried this forward in all my future work with others, to be one who will 'journey with'. But the other key lesson was to understand that I must respect the autonomy of persons, even when they may make choices where I personally disagree. I had to not continue the patterns of control that had often enslaved and brought distress these persons, but to simply be a supportive person to share in their experience and to guide them through times of distress to a more hopeful place.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I recall recently a young man who had come to see me for a consultation, he had made prior suicidal remarks, he was now residing with his biological father after concerns about physical and emotional abuse by his mother. He came in in the most solemn state, unable to identify any of his strengths, and telling me how he felt he was a horrible boy, and that he could do nothing right. I let him vent, and then we discussed the dynamics that led him to believe these things about himself. I asked him what has made him happy, and he said baseball, but his mother would not allow him to play. I encouraged that now he was not living with the mother, that he be signed up for this when possible. We discussed this talent and other dreams he has, and how he does not have to allow others to take this from him. We shared some humor, and by the end of the time he was actually smiling and laughing, something he had not done in some time. This is the key- to listen, share experience, to seek to understand, and to forge a relationship.


In many areas, there are mental health officers and mental health courts which order persons to various sorts of 'treatments'. This is further evidence that the mental health system is a branch of the law and social control (as Szasz has also suggested) and not medicine. Imagine if there were dental health officers- oops, you forgot to floss today, so you will be ordered to a 14 day oral hygiene program! You have not taken care of that cavity- you will be forced to have a root canal or extraction!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Often we see the process where dysfunction is hidden, where myths are told to children to conceal the facts and the reality of their situation. It is these processes which are often more damaging, more destructive than actual lies. It is these processes which can lead a person to mental anguish and even to that which we term ‘madness.’ We see situations where persons are abused and neglected by their families and these experiences are reshaped to appear as something other than what they are. We see individuals so desperate and despairing that they will seek out any means to escape the suffering for but a moment, and the escape is often through methods that are self destructive.

Morris is abandoned by his biological parents, he is then placed in a foster care setting. The foster parents agree to adopt Morris and tell him, “we will take care of you, we love you very much.” The foster parents do not indicate that in reality they are only seeking the financial incentive provided by the State for keeping him. When the now adoptive parents separate, the father becomes abusive and sends him to live on the streets. Through the abuse, the adoptive mother cowers and does not take any action to address the abuse or protect Morris from the abusive father. No one knows of the abuse, it is kept behind closed doors, the family being active in their religious community, the father being involved in various civic projects and community functions. They are looked upon as ‘nice, regular folks’ but behind the closed doors of their home lies another story, one that leads Morris to the greatest of anguish.

James lives in a upper middle class neighborhood. He is provided much in the way of material wealth, but emotionally he is deprived. His brother is put in a glorified role, and many expectations are placed upon the brother. The father is emotionally abusive and often distant. The mother makes excuses for the father or tries to reshape the events that James has experienced. The mother is a master at mystification. In the community, they present a good ‘public image.’ The brother begins to rebel, and automatically he begins to be defined as ‘the problem’ as the mother seeks to find out why he is so angry and depressed and has him put on a psychiatric drug. James begins to feel that a lot of the attention, even if negative, has been diverted to his brother, so he begins to act out. He experiments with his brother’s psychiatric drugs, and then it moves on to experimentation with other drugs. He seeks to fill the empty void in his life with the drugs. The parents, particularly the mother, begin to worry about how they will be perceived in the community by their ‘unruly’ sons. They decide that it would be good in order to preserve the ‘integrity’ of their family to send James away to live with other relatives. They do not relate to the relatives the circumstances of James’ challenges and they dare not say to their friends and neighbors why he has left. Instead, they say, “Oh, James, is going on a vacation for awhile, he is visiting his Aunt and Uncle.” Feeling lowered esteem and it plummeting even further by being sent away, as well as the impact of much drug use, James enters into a psychotic state. The aunt and uncle have no idea of what to do and they call the parents. The parents and the aunt and uncle without James being aware arrange to have him admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The cycle of psychiatric hospitalizations continues, and each time the story remains that he is ‘on vacation’ or ‘visiting someone’. In the interim between hospitalizations and in his confusion, he indulges himself in superficial relationships, having unprotected sex, and engaging in more drug use with so called ‘friends’ because he has felt abandoned by his family and has become alienated from the world around him. Eventually, the ‘vacation’ story has worn out its usefulness and as questions begin to arise from family, friends, and neighbors, a new story must be developed. The family stumbles upon a new and wonderful story- let us make him ill. If we can say that he is ill, then people will take pity upon him and upon us. So, from that day forward, James is said to be ill. James has a terrible break-up with a girlfriend and in this goes into a rage, becoming suicidal, arguing with his mother, and entering again into a psychotic state. This is said to be his illness. James himself begins to like this idea of being ill, as he finds that he can manipulate situations, excuse himself for poor choices, and escape from difficult and challenging situations by saying he is ill. So, ill he remains. As the questions come from the outside to explain this illness and as some carefully guarded details become known, James is left flustered and devises means of escaping these people and these questions. He has educated himself well about his illness and comes across to others as an ‘expert’ on all matters pertaining to it. If he cannot just plainly escape, then he can present this ‘expert information’ and hope that it leads persons off the track. He talks of wanting to be apart from his family, of stepping away from the typical societal expectations, however remains attached to his family solely for financial reasons. He does the talk of wanting to be apart but really cannot live without his ‘things’. So, James too projects a public image of being this person desirous of a Bohemian lifestyle, but in reality happily receives whatever the parents offer him financially.

And so it is with the entanglement that we create. It may be very easy for individuals to separate from the person or persons who have contributed to their distress, but is this separation to be called liberation? The liberation only comes when we are able to face up to the truth, to confront our experience, and to unlearn all that which was said to said to be and all the messages of who we were said to be. Then we can start life anew, this is not an easy task.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


lets say we go to our physician and the nurse checks our heart rate, she then accidentally drops the chart on the floor and it startles us, she then checks our heart rate again and notices its elevated. She reports this information to the physician who based on this diagnoses us with heart disease.
If this actually happened, we would find it absurd and we would never encounter this physician again. But this IS what happens every day with the psychiatric establishment. They have no credible evidence that any so called disorder is an actual disease and if a person should have a physiological change because of a trauma or so forth, then this is used to somehow give 'evidence' of disease rather than looking at it as a natural response to the experience of the person.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Response to An Ardent Follower of Bio-Psychiatry

I was recently sent a comment from an ardent follower of bio-psychiatry who accussed me of being an 'amrchair scientist" and criticizing my prior background with Comparative Religious Studies. First, I believe this background gave me some preparation towards understanding individuals, their belief systems, and how they construct meaning, however I do not look at my present work as a religious pursuit or connected to religion at all. Second, I have been directly in the field for 11 years, as a psychological evaluator, behavioral specialist, and psychotherapist. I have worked firsthand with people in serious distress, listened to them, heard their voices, and found that at the key to any emotional healing lies relationship. I have pioneered drug free and community based approaches and have seen that true recovery is possible whereas bio-psychiatry instills the idea that recovery is simply being a lifelong consumer of psychiatric drugs and maybe holding a menial job if you are lucky. My work is to respect the dignity of individuals and empower them, and this is being done, and I am proud to offer an alternative based on humanity and compassion.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


One of the most destructive problems is the breakdown of community, and it is this breakdown that has often led to the breakdown of persons. Though we may put many around us, we are alone. Relationships have become superficial, there is no longer concern for the other, and we are pressed by societal and financial pressures to focus on our own survival. We do not concern ourselves much with the plight of others except a few we may call family or friends, and even then, our concern and attention is waning. It is this which is leading to numerous dilemmas for our children and the diagnosis of a gamut of so-called mental disorders and the their mass drugging to subdue them and force their conformity to a system of madness, a system they and most despise but which continues to perpetuate itself. We may have at one time gone to our neighbors home and asked for an ingredient for a dish and they would give it and invite us in. Today, do we even know our neighbor, do we even care to know our neighbor?
And so we go along wearing masks throughout the day, playing the game, taking upon us the various roles. I see the impact of this upon our children, who become torn when made a pawn in this game. Families seek to project the goodly image to the outside while the reality is that there is immense turmoil and conflict. For some of these children, they begin to become part of the masking reality as well. I recall a young man I worked with whose family life was strained and there had been a lot of traumatic events and harshness. In the beginning, he presented his family as ‘golden’, and denied that anything anyone had noted was of truth. But fortunately over time, he came to grasp the courage and ability to think critically to challenge the way things were and to present reality to the family. And it certainly did require immense courage as in these situations the secrets are safely guarded and no one wants them exposed for what they are. The reaction was to be expected, the blame was shifted, and the young man was made to be the scapegoat and threats issued as to what would happen if he did not change his thinking and accept the myth the family held to. I have seen this similar dynamic in situations of sexual abuse that involves a relative. The only way that the young man was able to finally come to the point of challenging the family system and surviving the verbal assaults was by having one from the outside who had been able to forge a connection with both him and the family. In this, it was possible to advocate for the young man and also challenge the other family members but in a diplomatic way. This tactic worked and it was agreed upon that certain ways of interacting would need to be worked upon. They left behind the myth and came to face reality.
So if we are to truly be alive, to truly move beyond surviving to thriving, if we are to truly be human beings rather than alienated beings or drugged zombies, then we are going to need to return to the sense of community, to lay aside the barriers, and to be able to realize our common humanity. We are going to have to abandon the myths and the games we are often so entrenched within, and accept truth, even when painful.
There are powerful forces at work which pull us to and fro and infect us with ideas of who we are, what we should be, and often block us from becoming. These forces arise within our social and familial structures. We are sent repetitive messages and they become deeply engrained. We may have been told we are not attractive or too attractive, not motivated or too achieving, etc. And we enter the social sphere having absorbed these messages. As we do so we begin a painful process of comparisons. There becomes a striving for something or sometimes nothing at all. But if there is striving, it is for what and for whom? Some sadly seek only to survive, it is all they can do. But if we can realize that no matter what has been dumped upon us and what the conditions are, we retain the choice to become! We have the choice to allow these powerful forces to consume us or to be defiant in the face of them and develop a process of unlearning. In this unlearning, we may be able to break free and emerge into a new world of being.