- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Inner Traditions (April 17, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159477448X
- ISBN-13: 978-1594774485
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement Paperback – April 17, 2012
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“By reclaiming their rightful role as prophets of spiritual and cultural revitalization, the mad--by seeding new visions for our future--can help humanity overcome the spiritual crisis that endangers our survival and lead us to a higher and long-awaited stage of spiritual development.” (Earth Star Magazine, June 2012)
“The book will appeal to devotees of spirituality and/or metaphysics.” (Linda F. Petty, Library Journal, July 2012)
“This book rightly points out the need to reevaluate our classifications of madness and open the door to the sometimes visionary rantings of our fellow citizens.” (Lotus Guide, July 2012)
“A fine pick for any mental health collection seeking different perspectives on the idea of insanity and its treatment.” (Midwest Book Review, July 2012)
“Seth Farber is one of the most provocative and original thinkers in America. He brings us to the threshold of the only questions that really matter: the demarcation lines between imagination and objective reality and between ‘madness’ and ‘sanity’. The Spiritual Gift of Madness is an important book that could revolutionize the way progressive religious people regard what is called mental health. ” (Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religi)
“Farber critically considers the role of madness in culture and sees it as a positive force for change rather than a disease needing treatment. At the same time he does not play down the difficulties encountered by those experiencing such ‘initiations,’ but believes we need to cherish them and appreciate their visionary role in a world gone insane.” (Robert Black, New Dawn, January 2013)
From the Back Cover
SPIRITUALITY / PSYCHIATRY
“An articulate, informed, and lucid exploration of the nature of madness, the Mad Pride movement, and ultimately what it is like to be deemed ‘mad’ by society. Seth Farber’s extensive interviews with leaders of the Mad Pride movement are particularly engaging and memorable.”
--Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
“Seth Farber is one of the most provocative and original thinkers in America. He brings us to the threshold of the only questions that really matter: the demarcation lines between imagination and objective reality and between ‘madness’ and ‘sanity.’ The Spiritual Gift of Madness is an important book that could revolutionize the way progressive religious people regard what is called mental health.”
--Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back
Many of the great prophets of the past experienced madness--a breakdown followed by a breakthrough, spiritual death followed by rebirth. With the advent of modern psychiatry, the budding prophets of today are captured and transformed into chronic mental patients before they can flower into the visionaries and mystics they were intended to become. As we approach the tipping point between extinction and global spiritual awakening, there is a deep need for these prophets to be free to embrace their spiritual gifts. To make this happen, we must learn to respect the sanctity of madness. We need to cultivate Mad Pride.
Exploring the rise of the Mad Pride movement as well as building upon psychiatrist R. D. Laing’s revolutionary theories, Seth Farber, Ph.D., explains that diagnosing people as mad has more to do with social control than therapy. Many of those labeled as schizophrenic, bipolar, and other kinds of “mad” are not ill but simply experiencing different forms of spiritual awakening: they are seeing and feeling what is wrong with society and what needs to be done to change it. Farber shares his interviews with former psychotics who now lead successful and inspiring lives. He shows that it is impossible for society to change as long as the mad are suppressed, because they are our catalysts of social change. By reclaiming their rightful role as prophets of spiritual and cultural revitalization, the mad--by seeding new visions for our future--can help humanity overcome the spiritual crisis that endangers our survival and lead us to a higher and long-awaited stage of spiritual development.
SETH FARBER, Ph.D., is a psychologist, public speaker, and a founder of the Network against Coercive Psychiatry. The author of several books, including Unholy Madness, and an editor of The Journal of Mind and Behavior, he lives in New York City.
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Top customer reviews
Seth explores the history of the Mad Pride movement, interviewing a number of people who have been heavily involved in its development. Along the way, he has a number of objectives:
First, to show the reader that people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder can heal, freeing themselves of debilitating medication. As five of his six interviews were done with people who have been medication and symptom free for years, he does this with great success. I found his interviews to be extremely candid, interesting and educational.
Second, through the stories of the people he interviews, Seth reveals to us the profoundly transformative, spiritual dimension to what is usually labeled as psychosis. Like my own work on YouTube channel, bipolarORwakingUP, I believe this to be a hugely important message, and in this way, Seth and I are kindred spirits. What has been known as `acute psychosis' has a profoundly spiritual aspect to it which, as a society, we have not even begun to acknowledge.
Based on these first two points, Farber takes things further, by suggesting that all people with `madness' are, in fact, potential prophets who are currently being suppressed by the chemical straightjacket of the psychiatric system. Borrowing heavily from `radical' psychologists R.D Laing and John Weir Perry, Farber insists that people currently labeled as mentally ill are the solution, not the problem, to what he sees as a dysfunctional, insane society on the verge of collapse.
But then Seth hits a thought provoking obstacle which, I think, leads him to his most interesting insight. Some of his interviewees, such as David Oaks of MindFreedom.org and Sasha Dabrul of theicarusproject.net have been highly involved in the creation of a movement which is presenting a clear alternative to psychiatry, truly reflecting Seth's premise that they may, in fact, be prophets of a new society. And yet, only one interviewee, Paul Levy, is prepared to embrace Seth's assertion that the 'mentally ill' are, in fact, repressed prophets.
Seth suggests that the Mad Pride/anti-psychiatry movement is currently stuck in a form of post-modern secularism which, due to its respect for `diversity' silences any form of generalized theory - even theory that embraces and validates the obvious - namely that most people labeled with bipolar disorder and even schizophrenia undergo profound spiritual experiences which have tremendous transformative potential. So much for diversity!
Was I entirely convinced that all people with mental disorders are potential prophets? Not quite. While there is no doubt that some, like Paul Levy, have this visionary characteristic, I'm not convinced that that's the case for all. However, Seth Farber's book is a bold stroke in a largely unchartered direction, and, in my opinion, his critique regarding the politically correct dogma of `diversity' holding back the Mad Pride movement is bang on. For this reason alone, this book is worthy of serious attention.
What are the spiritually unique gifts that may be seen as dangerous to the status quo that the self-titled "Mad" possess? According to Dr. Farber, "the implicit goal of the Mad Pride Movement is a transformation of society as a whole." This mission sometimes becomes a thorn in the side of the so-called "mentally ill." With some of their commitment to right the wrongs of this world, these "budding prophets" (prophecy being a dangerous gift) are burdened with their own conviction to make good on their vows and in doing so, they are tortured, persecuted, damaged, ostracized, and labelled defective by the establishment, because the thoughts verbalized and sometimes accentuated in the physical body, seem unintelligible, confused, disordered, incoherent, grandiose, delusional and psychotic by the "normal" population The special people are seen as worthy only of incarceration and redirection, which does nothing to cure their "disease" or any of the problems of the world. Rather, it incurs the humiliation, anger, sometimes suicidal depression of those receiving the law-enacted care.
One of the reasons this happens is that the "Mad" person often goes off by himself or herself or in small groups and decides to prophesize or "warn" the masses of ignored potentials for catastrophes in places where people are not even thinking one iota about the problem-solving the "Mad" person finds urgent, crucial and often fatal if not solved. Dr. Farber wants to unite all who have this "madness" in common, so that they can stand together, strong, in their collective quest for social change, not only in critical failures of the establishment in their own treatment as "mental patients," but also in issues of social concern that do not engender leadership action from the "normal" leaders of society, such as Presidents, actors, journalists, etc. to alleviate the crises in the world. He urges both the "Mad" and the "Normal" to take responsiblity to find ways to end wars, be proactive with energy problems, protect the environment and to see and understand the resulting horrors of not changing quickly and taking measures that would end the massive extinction of species, armed skirmishes, to use a mild term, that maim and kill innocent human beings, industry's genocide of indigenous tribes in the human family and desecretion of sacred grounds, crushing poverty in more than half the world and lack of good, clean drinking water, etc.
Dr. Farber speaks highly of the web-based community housed under the banner of the Icarus Project, at least subscribing to its founding mission statement, which seeks to unite those labelled mentally ill to effect social change. I sense that he is somewhat miffed that one of the founding members of the Icarus Project is now on lithium touting its immediate benefits, although with the hope that one day he might get off it. Dr. Farber is against the use of most prescription drugs offered as "stablization" by the professional psychiatric community. In fact, in most cases he finds this criminal.
Also, in the case of another interviewee, he found it somewhat unsettling that the interviewee, who was a leader himself, did not believe all labelled persons were endowed with this special prophetic-messianic ability. Wanting this unique prophetic personality across the board for all of the "Mad" is ultimately a beautiful dream. However, what Dr. Farber is saying in my estimation is: There is a seed that is capable of germinating in all "Mad" people and maturing into a responsible prophetic person that can lead the masses from totally destroying the Earth, including annihilating the human race, which if the warning, the prophecy, is not heeded, would be a fatal choice for both the "Mad" and "Normal" persons alike.
The most interesting point comes from Dr. Farber's comparison of the Mad Pride Movement of today to the Civil Rights Leadership under the inspiration of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1960's, whose life and dream has made alliances where foes only once existed. These are the words I believe Dr. Farber would want you to take a searing iron and brand into your soul should you get forgetful or lackadaisical about the mission espoused by every great religion/philosphy/scientist that ever existed. These are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., the essence of Farber's own Soul:
"So let us be maladjusted, as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day would cry out in words that echo across the centuries, 'Let justice run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.' Let us be as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had the vision and courage to say this nation could not exist half slave and half free. Let us be maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could look into the eyes of men and women of his generation and cry out, 'Love your enemies.'"
It is the only way to truly launch a world-wide Olympian Mad Pride Movement and gain the respect of the "Non-Mad" World and Unite to bring about what all of us want: Peace and Respect, Reverence for Creation, the Earth, the Sun and Moon and Stars and All Sentient Beings. Extinction is not a choice in this matter at all. This is why Dr. Seth Farber worked to exhaustion on this book. For you, for me, for Us.
Written by Carol Gene Goss, Journalist
If you have bothered to read down to this point so far, please note that the above was all written by Carol Goss and only edited very well by me, because we understand each other very well, and everyone should know the bliss of having a bff, in case anybody got that wrong it means best friend forever! So if u want to see also my review, please see the comment below, which was written as a comment because I couldn't figure out how to edit this before.
I edited the comments below. Meanwhile, while we might be talking about experience, probably the best book to read by Laing is "The Politics of Experience."
My review is more about Seth. I will say more after I finally do read the book. He will laugh because he predicted it would take me a year to get around to it. It is more than a year now!