Mental Illness and Gun Violence / Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Mentally ill people don’t contribute to gun violence any more than any other group, but senseless violence strikes the public as shocking. Intervening to prevent all the different kinds of violence by different groups and people is important. Most potential perpetrators hide their intentions or anger, and people with serious mental illness can too, but often mentally ill people are obvious to everyone around them before they act violently.

Society as a whole, and down to every personal level, is in tension between embracing and being embraced by every other member. Any change how we commit ourselves to keeping in touch with each other is part of our social world. We constantly hear messages to feel part of life (and messages to reject this and lash out at people). Maybe a look at one alternative to how we look at ourselves may be helpful in how to understand what might work better.

Everyone is familiar with how sports are organized at high schools. Varsity and Junior Varsity are usually the only divisions. A similar but completely different way to divide students is to include all the students, and divide them all into different groups. Varsity, Junior Varsity, Fresh Person Varsity, General, Big Group and All Group. These are split into male and female  co-ed and single sex teams in fluid and informal ways. All for the same or all of the  sports. Even the disabled participate — everyone does. This brings about a remarkable social change among the student body. When outreach to bring struggling students into the social fabric is prioritized, all of the potential people who could go on to act out violently are reached.

Army Sgt. BoweBergdahl was homeschooled. His father describes him as “psychologically isolated.” What he missed in school contributed to his actions. What those U.S. soldiers around him lacked in having skills to reach him also contributed to what happened.

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Basic Steps to Recovery

Here is an an article by Mark Ragins, from Mental Health America’s Los Angeles clinic, The Villiage, where the do outreach to people on the street.

Road to Recovery

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SAMHSA: Anti-Psychiatry Movement and Recovery Movement Reach Agreement

Immediately below is my understanding of the new SAMHSA approach to medications for people with serious mental illness.

What they proposing is using the “Eastern Finnish Dialogue “ treatment protocol, outlined by Roger Whiticker in his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic. The anti-psychiatry movement appears to be accepting this as a compromise, and the polarization of the recovery and civil rights movements is largely a thing of the past.

Treating people with the Eastern Finnish Dialogue method is just that, a dialogue. When a person arrives psychotic or suicidal, the first question is “What Happened” . Then the person is left alone in a natural setting and offered tea etc. If they want to talk, the idea is to obtain their  story. By no later than the next day, if  they remain so agitated  or depressed that they are not safe, they are calmed down with a benzodiazepine. If they are suffering depression leading to suicidal thoughts, they might receive something else, besides a benzodiazepine. Hopefully they will sleep..  Once they awake, they may be alright, but, if not, a course of antipsychotics or whatever is appropriate is tried until it has a chance to work. If the person returns to a normal range of emotions and feelings, it is not assumed that they need continued medication to retain this, but instead the medications are slowly drawn down. If the person continues to be OK, then they continue in treatment without medication until the need for it might become clear. If after the first trial of medications has been tried and failed, the sequence is repeated at least 3 times as necessary. After that, if the person needs the meds, they are resumed as a continued but temporary remedy. Indeed, some people will need them for their  lifetime.

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Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

  • Go to bed at the same time each night even on weekends. This helps your body clock get used to these times.
  • Sleep in a comfortable bed.
  • Create a calm bedroom environment. Sleep in a dark room and avoid turning your bedroom into an entertainment centre with televisions, computers and stereos.
  • Regular exercise is a great way to improve your sleep. Just be careful not to do it close too bed time as exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly.
  • A healthy diet will also help but eating a large heavy meal too close to bedtime will interfere with your sleep.
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Fruits, vegetables and a handful of walnuts — The Mediterranean Diet is better than a low fat one

Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as healthy. Now a study released Monday of the effects of a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, vegetables, fruits and fish confirms that…[the Mediterranean diet is the best one–better than a low fat diet].

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the diet can reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by 30 percent.

[T]he Mediterranean diet …was [better than an…] assigned a low-fat diet.


[O]ne of the diet’s main benefits is that it’s not only heart-healthy, but it also promotes a way of eating that people can follow for a lifetime rather than just a few months.

“You just have two fists of cooked vegetables per day; one fist – or the size of a tennis ball – serving of fruit each day,” he said. He advised people to make olive oil their primary choice of dietary oil and have about 12 nuts daily – preferably walnuts, because they are a source of the healthful omega-3 fatty acid.

Read more:

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Therapy Turned Into Laughing Yoga

Physical Therapy (Or Just Exercise) Turned Into Individualized Tai Chi Ending in Laughing Yoga—Therapy Turned Into Laughing Yoga

Every statistic about therapy (and a lot of other things) tells us about how many people it helps—but only if you actually do it. Therapy Turned Into Laughing Yoga is a way to interest more people who “won’t” do something about their chronic physical problems while also interesting them in doing it by helping them feel their own story about ___________ recovery (every person can fill in the “blank” of recovery). And Therapy Turned Into Laughing Yoga provides not just gentle stretching but provides a light aerobic workout through laughing. (It’s hard to hurt yourself laughing whatever the bad reputation it has for doing). Laughing Yoga is a wonderful way to feel better about yourself and bond with other yoga laughers. Follow each daily group session (or do it on your own) and walk to the store and buy  some healthy things to eat. You should try to make new friends, people who will listen without judging you or offering advise (but nobody’s perfect).

How many of us are diligent about doing our physical therapy (or sport’s rehab) work? And whatever our age, we all feel better getting regular exercise—even if it only a tiny bit.  And how many of us eat as right as we could?  Shopping with friends makes it easier to pick out the healthier things. Include a small treat, maybe a candy bar broken into little pieces and shared with the group!

We’ve all had experiences that makes us feel happy or proud. Or you can try this with what you have overcome or are overcoming in life, but if it’s very emotional for you, please do it only while talking with a therapist or at least a good friend.

Physical therapists, sport trainers or make diagrams of the exercises for us to do. they want us to do.  These show us moves which will help heal our bodies. Or approach it this way: where in your body does it hurt? If it hurts it might very well benefit from slow, gentle movement. Talk with your physical M.D. or clinic about what is OK and what is too much of a strain for you. Remember, only do a few moves at first, and if you aren’t too sore the next day, add a few more movements. Don’t overdo it the first day and end up in bed for a week rubbing the parts you hurt!

To start out, pin your diagrams on the wall (or you can in addition or all on your own make you own diagrams)  Rearrange the diagrams in a circle to fit  the actions into actions which become symbols of parts of your recovery story or visualizing your goal or dreams.  This is a narrative but may involve only feelings etc. You are going to choreograph (a fancy word for create a dance) your own recovery story. It can be recovery from anything, many things, it doesn’t  have to be the biggest thing in your life, or you could just choreography your hopes for the future. Do not choreograph yourself being victimized or abused. This is a happy dance and reliving terrible times can harm you further. This is a “recovery” story not an” illness” story—don’t wallow in troubles you found yourself earlier in life. Your story can be real, imaginative or a fantasy.  You can share your story but you don’t have to share it with anyone except your friends.

After everyone has met each day (or week) and all simultaneously, at the same time, acted out or danced their stories, finish with Laughing Yoga and then walk to the store and shop together.

This is a pathway to recovery, finding laughter, making friends and eating good food. . Share the positive things that happen to you with your group and with others in your life.

They story of the history of this therapy is found at the website, where the protagonist , Carlos the Flying Bed Bug Hero, volunteers in his spare time to help other bugs encounter this Tai Chi of yoga.

Or if you want me to help you with your own story of transformation, please email me at

Copyrighted with release if includes attribution to SMH With Special thanks to Sandy who went down all these paths before me  Feb 19, 2013. Brian Youngberg

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The National Empowerment Center’s links to Top Web Sites Like Itself

I sit on local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) board of directors with family members and professionals, and I am impressed with the very different view that people sometimes have of mental illness compared to my own peers, who have had what people are calling the “lived experience.” Of course, most of the family people of (literally) live with family members who are in early recovery, while my peers have often become what is termed (not politically correctly) “high-functioning. I guess I’m a little bit of both, because my politically connected friends, running peer-run services, can barely stand me at times. I wish I could claim I have Asperger’s Syndrome, but I have to admit that I just have personality problems from growing up in an alcoholic family. I have managed to become a peer specialist providing services to the people who come to our clinic, so I have those experiences to reflect on too.

How does this all relate to the National Empowerment Center’s website and its links?

We have all grown a little bit closer to each other, because we’re seeing the commonality of our experiences. So the National Empowerment Center embodies ideas which are not really so different than those of, say, NAMI

Ultimately we need to offer people things they want to do, even if society won’t always let people do everything they want.



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