Blog des AK Psychiatriekritik der NFJ Berlin

Kategorie: Will Hall

Thinking Upstream: Winning Real Mental Health Reform By Joining the Anti-Corruption Movement

At the end of my talk at the American Psychiatric Association Institute on Psychiatric Services, a psychiatrist in the crowded lecture room put his hand up and posed a surprising challenge: Why was I so concerned about reforming psychiatry and ending iatrogenic harm from medications, diagnosis, and forced treatment when there are so many other issues in society to worry about?

Looking back, the answer was obvious: because psychiatry harmed me personally, and because I saw so many others harmed (including both of my parents), I was inspired to make a difference. I wanted to share what I learned so other people wouldn’t go through what I went through. Like many people who endured injustice personally, I was motivated to do something about it.

An obvious reply now, but not the reply I gave at the time.



Open Letter to the Psychiatric Institute of Washington After the Death of My Friend

By Will Hall

Dear Post-traumatic Disorders Program, Psychiatric Institute of Washington,

A close and dear friend is dead.

She was a patient at your hospital, and a few days ago she sent me this text:

“I left the trauma program after 48 hours. I was appalled at the environment, the terrible therapy and being treated like a prisoner. I went there looking for healing and support and found the experience even more traumatic. Western mental health systems are dehumanizing and insane.”

That was the last message I ever received from her. I got a call that my friend’s body was found in the river: she drowned herself.


Will Hall on the anti-identity identity politics of madness

Awhile back I posted on emergent tensions in identity politics and self-positioning within the ‘mad movement(s).’ Of course, this issue also affects folks caught up in self definition, psychiatric labeling, and treatment who might not even be aware of a ‘thing’ being referred to as a ‘mad movement.’

A key part of that post–you can find it here–was a section where I quoted–with permission–from a heated dialogue that occurred on the U.S. International Society for Psychosocial Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS) discussion group. I invited Will Hall to respond, because he’s a person that garners significant respect across various groups in the U.S. ‘psychiatric abuse survivor’ or ‘mad’ movement(s). Will missed the original request, but was gracious enough to give permission for his very thought provoking response to be posted on this blog.


WILL HALL on suicide (extended clip from „Make Me Normal“)

As one of many diverse experts in the documentary MAKE ME NORMAL, Portland-based Counselor and Mental Health Advocate WILL HALL talks about suicide.

Time for a new Understanding of Suicidal Feelings

Is it really best to force someone into the hospital when they are suicidal? Do suicidal feelings plus “risk factors” really mean professionals can predict whether someone might try to kill themselves? And are suicidal feelings the symptom of a treatable illness that should include medication prescription?

I was locked up at San Francisco General Hospital’s psychiatric emergency ward because confinement was considered necessary to protect me from suicide. But when I was forcibly tied down, locked in an isolation cell, threatened with being strip-searched, kept behind barred hospital windows for months and subjected to degrading treatment, it was the hospital that I needed protection from – not my own feelings.

While people are not always mistreated at inpatient units like I was in the United States, the harm done to me in the name of care is a too-common tragedy. Even if some patients feel grateful for being brought into treatment against their will, and even if we recognize a diversity of experience in hospitals, the question remains: Is the possibility of harming people like I was harmed worth the risk? Would society tolerate any other medical intervention with such clear possibility of devastating harm, with such a high record of iatrogenic trauma? Shouldn’t we be looking for other approaches, with less potential for harm, rather than just accepting routine institutional violence?