Princess Leia Cast a Light on Bipolar Illness

Maureen MurdockBipolar Illness, Mental Illness4 Comments

Carrie Fisher did not shirk her role as an advocate for the de-stigmatization of bipolar illness. She brought the subject of bipolar into the popular culture in her writing and her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking” where she first posited the idea of “Bipolar Pride Day.” Ms. Fisher was first diagnosed with bipolar at age 24 but like many people who … Read More

Stop Stigma

Maureen MurdockMental Illness3 Comments

Stigma Free Campaign Badge

Welcome to those of you who have been loyal followers of my blog on mental illness, addiction and criminal justice reform. I will continue blogging on these topics from my new blog on this website. I hope you will continue to follow the blog and raise awareness about mental illness, addiction and criminal justice so that we can remove the … Read More

Why ARE We Afraid of the Mentally Ill?

Maureen MurdockMental Illness11 Comments

Last month 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier was shot dead by a Chicago police officer after his father placed a 911 call because LeGrier was acting irrationally, wielding a baseball bat. This was not his first confrontation with the law but the death of LeGrier, who suffered from mental illness, gained national attention because a bystander was also killed. 10 days after … Read More

Report on Treatment of Mental Illness in Prisons by Human Rights Watch

Maureen MurdockCriminal Justice System, Mental Illness7 Comments

Life in Lockup graphic from Human Rights Watch

Those of you who have been reading my blog know that our prisons have become the largest mental illness institutions in the United States. An estimated one in five prisoners in the US has a serious mental illness including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, and major depression. I thought I had read everything about the despicable treatment the mentally ill receive … Read More

Rethinking Mental Illness

Maureen MurdockMental Illness4 Comments

Both the British Psychological Association and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health have instigated a new method of researching mental illness. In the past, researchers were driven by biologically diagnostic categorization drawing a sharp distinction between those who are ill and those who are well. This approach failed to find any clear biological distinction between such illnesses as depression, schizophrenia … Read More

The Neglect of Mental Illness is the Enemy

Maureen MurdockMental Illness8 Comments

Mental Illness Word Cloud

The man who shot and killed a Canadian soldier at Canada’s National War Memorial and manned an assault on Parliament Hill on October 22nd was not a part of a well-resourced terrorist organization but instead suffered from untreated mental illness and addiction. In spite of his recurring attempts to get treatment in jail by committing robberies, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was refused … Read More

New Treatment for Mentally Ill Inmates: Reduce Pepper Spray

Maureen MurdockCriminal Justice System, Mental Illness17 Comments

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Paige St. John writes that California has decided to use special solitary confinement units to house mentally ill inmates as part of an attempt to comply with federal court orders to improve their care. Instead of using pepper spray to calm them down, isolation is the new treatment for the mentally ill. … Read More

A $650 Million Donation for Psychiatric Research

Maureen MurdockMental Illness9 Comments

Recently it was announced in the New York Times that Ted Stanley, age 84, has donated $650 million for psychiatric research. The reason for his generous grant is that his son, Jonathan Stanley, had a psychotic episode in 1988 and was lucky enough to receive effective treatment after a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The older Stanley marvels at the difference … Read More

Deinstitutionalization Hasn’t Worked

Maureen MurdockCriminal Justice System, Mental Illness20 Comments

The recent mass killings in Isla Vista, CA by a man who suffered from mental illness has once again raised the issue of the insanity of deinstitutionalization of the severely mentally ill. Deinstitutionalization (releasing severely mentally ill from psychiatric hospitals) began in 1955 with the widespread introduction of Thorazine, the first effective antipsychotic medication. The widespread use of Thorazine moved the … Read More

The Most Punitive Nation in the World

Maureen MurdockCriminal Justice System, Mental Illness15 Comments

prisoner in handcuffs

Robert A. Ferguson’s new book about our addiction to incarceration, Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment, asks a poignant question about our culture. Do we, as a people, have a drive to punish that is especially virulent? The statistics seem to indicate that we do. According to Ferguson, the United States is the world leader in locking up human beings behind … Read More

When We Embrace Recovery There is Hope

Maureen MurdockMental Illness8 Comments

Frankie & Alice Movie

For the past 8 years, Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry has been working on Frankie & Alice, a film about a 1970s-era black go-go dancer named Frankie who has dissociative identity disorder (DID). Frankie has two alternative identities: a scared 7-year old little girl named Genius and a white, bigoted Southern belle named Alice. With the care and support of … Read More

Caretaking: Is Taking Action Helpful or Harmful?

Maureen MurdockAddiction, Mental Illness11 Comments

I have been to many NAMI and Al-Anon meetings over the years that were attended primarily by mothers and grandmothers dealing with their son’s or daughter’s mental illness and/or addiction. I’ve always wondered why there were so few fathers in attendance. Were they afraid to acknowledge their child had a problem? In general, it seems that mothers take on the … Read More