Science Isn't Golden

Matters of the mind and heart

Celebrate Creative Maladjustment Week by Watching Video

Hold viewing parties for "Call Me Crazy" video of award-winning comedy-drama

This is an invitation to anyone reading this essay to join unique celebration that costs you nothing, that does not require that you move from where you sit right now, and that I think you will enjoy.

You have probably heard of Patch Adams, the physician about whom a movie was made because of the sterling, original work he does with such rare humanity,  humor, and joy. (Robin Williams played him in the wonderful film called by Adams' name.) Patch and the brave and pioneering David Oaks, who founded and heads MindFreedom International, conceived of "Creative Maladjustment Week," which starts a week from tomorrow ... though you can celebrate it any time you want.

Creative Maladjustment Week grew from something the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said in an address to the American Psychological Association, to the effect that he was proud to be "maladjusted" to a society that remained oppressive. So Patch Adams and MindFreedom International, with an increasing number of other groups and individuals, are planning a variety of celebrations July 7-14 in countries around the world. The celebration can be anything you want it to be, and the MindFreedom website mindfreedom.org and the Creative Maladjustment Week page on Facebook includes a number of suggestions.

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Here is one close to my heart. You watch a video of a play that I wrote many years ago about psychiatric diagnosis because I was appalled by what I learned on two DSM-IV committees about how DSM-IV head Allen Frances and his colleagues were compiling the psychiatric diagnostic manual's then-forthcoming edition.

The play is a comedy-drama with music, and unfortunately, it remains all too true today. This is the announcement, which includes a description of the play and what you can easily do to use it to celebrate Creative Maladjustment Week:

The subject of psychiatric diagnosis has been hotly debated in the news recently. A play I wrote called CALL ME CRAZY—a comedy-drama with music— about psych diagnosis and, when done in NYC, was rave-reviewed and played to sold-out houses. A typical comment from an audience member was, "It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me think."

When the play is performed, I include a Playwright's Note in the program to let people know that "Everything in this play is true, especially the parts you will be sure I made up!"

CALL ME CRAZY! What it is and how to use it for Creative Maladjustment Week (or any time)!

Harvard psychologist and activist Paula J. Caplan was shocked by what she learned when she spent two years on committees responsible for compiling the "Bible" of psychiatric diagnosis. She resigned and wrote a play about the subject and called it CALL ME CRAZY.

People are encouraged to do any or all of the following between now and Creative Maladjustment Week or during that week:

--Watch Call Me Crazy yourself at http://youtu.be/BaM6RnHBUO0

--Throw a pizza party or organize a softball game, and have everyone gather around and watch CALL ME CRAZY together.

--Organize a public gathering to educate laypeople and/or professionals about this important subject by having them watch CALL ME CRAZY and then holding a discussion afterward. Consider inviting activists, survivors, and professionals to make comments to get the discussion started.

--Join the Facebook page called Stop Psychiatric Diagnosis Harm and the Facebook page called Call Me Crazy (be sure it is the one about the play, not another one with that name), where you can announce when and where you are doing any of the above, and afterward, post reports about how it went, who said what, what questions or points were raised, and what activism grows out of that.

--Email your reports also to MindFreedom International at office@mindfreedom.org They will post these on their site.

Please consider doing any or all of the above ...and/or helping spread the word by forwarding this message.

Here is a link to the video of the play http://youtu.be/BaM6RnHBUO0

[I am grateful to Karen Rosenthal and Romie at Community Access (NYC) and Laura Haskell (Vancouver) for their help in getting this announcement out and getting the video on YouTube.]

William Gassett viewed the video and posted this wonderful comment: "I just finished watching “Call Me Crazy!” on YouTube. Dr. Caplan warned that the video quality is not great, but that is hardly noticed. Like the audience in the video, the viewer will get into the play thanks to the fine performances of the actors and because of the powerful message of the play. The play centers on the final group discussion of three interns with their lead psychiatrist as they prepare to be out on their own. One of the interns, Harmony, has a lot of doubts and questions about the course of treatment she has observed and participated in during her internship. She is asking questions which are uncomfortable and unwelcome by the others, at first, but in the end, gets everyone thinking, including the audience. This play shows, in an entertaining yet thoughtful way, the kind of discussions that need to be happening among groups of professionals, patients, families, and religious groups all over the country: discussions about the science (or lack thereof) behind the DSM; the use of labels in diagnosis and the harm that can result; and the cost of dissent from the established norm of the APA one must be prepared to expect. The most powerful parts of the play were the stories of the patients. Listening to them takes this discussion out of academia and the theoretical and focuses the discussion where it needs to be: what is really helpful and harmful for people in crisis. Well done, Dr. Caplan."

Here is a synopsis of CALL ME CRAZY:

"Is anybody normal? And who gets to decide? And how do they decide? A young therapy trainee on the last day of her internship starts to question the supervisor she has respected and trusted all year. Desperate for answers to her still unanswered questions about what therapists do, in contrast to what they should do, she clashes with her supervisor...and with other interns, each of whom has a deeply personal stake in sticking by the top guy. As the therapists battle away, four patients from their mental hospital watch and listen, unseen. Each time the therapists miss some major point they need to grasp, the patients rush out and do a song, a skit, a dance, a vaudeville act to try to get through to them. Gradually, some of the therapists, to varying degrees, start to learn what the patients have to teach them about the realities of trying to get help in a time of intense need, about what really helps, and what makes a patient’s life more hellish than before. Freud’s mother, who’s never before had a chance to speak her piece, puts everyone in their place, including her own son’s legacy."


©Copyright 2013 by Paula J. Caplan                            All rights reserved

 

Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., a clinical and research psychologist, is an Associate at Harvard University's DuBois Institute and former Fellow in Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy Program. more...

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