It has become increasingly mainstream  to criticize psychiatry for its corruption by drug companies, invalid diagnoses, lack of long-term treatment effectiveness, and other scientific failings. The recent book, Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness , by radio host and therapist Will Hall, reminds us that perhaps the most pathetic aspect of “inside mainstream mental health” is how simplistic, boring and reductionist it is, when our natures are so complex, fascinating and non-reductionist. Outside Mental Health restores the full range of color to our humanity.
As a young man, Hall was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The central question Hall asks is: What does it mean to be called crazy in a crazy world?
This central question leads to specific questions that include: What does an “altered state” mean, and can it be terrifying but also exhilarating and illuminating? Is hearing voices really a symptom of illness or simply another dimension of our humanity? How much does context affect the experience of illicit and psychiatric psychotropic drugs? What is the relationship between modern art and what is commonly called psychosis? How can jazz, punk and political activism help people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? And what egalitarian alternatives outside of mainstream mental health have been found to be more helpful for people experiencing altered states?