Three weeks have passed since Mad in America’s International Film Festival took place at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts, USA.
In Iceland, the film has been used as tool in our educational program for ninth and tenth grade, in high schools and the university in Reykjavik and Boston University and University of Mannheim in Germany.
I began to recognize the importance of language in discourse on the subject, having never made the connection between oppressive terminology vs. During my past struggle within the traditional mental health system, processing a toxic psychotropic medication, and an alleged diagnosis of Bipolar disorder back in 1993, I never gave up hope that I would get to the root cause of my symptoms.
When I was twenty-one years of age, twenty-one years ago, I experienced what I now refer to as a spiritual awakening.
One of the Mad Ones is a documentary history of a boarded New York psychiatrist, beloved by all of his patients, who rejects modern psychopharmacology in favor of human interaction. One of the Mad Ones will be screened on Friday, October 10th, followed by a talk with director and Professor Emeritus Philip Singer. It is helping to fight stigma and prejudice, and offers young people an alternative understanding of emotional distress, and a perspective on the importance of taking care of your mental health. What became apparent to me in 2010, as I officially detoxed lithium and addressed healing root causes of my symptoms, was that humanity is facing a serious crisis and global mental health epidemic.

DeSole was intellectually influenced by cultural anthropology but also by the work of the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. I knew that there were numerous flaws and damage being done within our current Western medical model of mental health care. He’s shown working with patients previously “dumbed down” with drugs, using his own unique interpersonal techniques.
We’ve seen it open their eyes to the importance of taking care of others arround them and to show other people respect in every aspect of life. I began to realize through my experiences with Khari [whose story Mars Project is based on], both off-camera and as director, that there were broader socioeconomic circumstances that underscored his story and were all too true for others sharing the same psych-labels. I left the psychiatric ward in May 1993 and set out on a mission traveling the world and seeking out all forms of integrated medicine and therapies to understand and get to the root cause of my symptoms.
One of the things that Laing was notable for was challenging the totalizing mental health orthodoxies of his day, and trying to understand the experiences of people diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ from their perspective. After suffering a heart attack, he recapitulates his career and explains why he’s living in a state of dread.
So I made my first film in 2007, eight years into my therapy career, and then…well, let’s say I just started reaching a huger, wider group of people.

It is profoundly puzzling to me that forty years later, this idea still seems radical in mainstream mental health.
After a couple of years of developing the film and trying to find the right story angle, the penny finally dropped: it should be told from the perspective of people with the diagnosis.
That would be the most fitting and powerful way of telling a story about the contradiction between the medical explanation of ‘schizophrenia’ and the way people with the diagnosis understand their experiences. After all, I wasn’t a trained filmmaker—I was just someone who was moderately tech-savvy and had a strong message and a lot of drive.
And so, without even planning it, a shift came in my life—and eventually making films that reached a lot of people became more tantalizing to me than being a therapist.
DeSole was acutely aware of the opposition to his work with patients by not only the other attending psychiatrists but also the relatives of the patients and owners of the halfway homes who preferred that their tenants be passive and somnolent instead of active and lively.

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