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Ron Bassman (pictured here) is a psychologist, a survivor of extreme psychiatric human rights violations, and an author. Ron reviews the book Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry.

Book Review: Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry

Date Published:

Jan 01, 2008 01:00 AM

Author: Ron Bassman


Review of:

Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry

co-editors: Peter Stastny and Peter Lehmann


Ron Bassman, PhDby Ron Bassman, PhD

For half a century I have been immersed in the mental health field, for the first decade as a patient labeled with schizophrenia, for the next forty years as a psychologist.  It gives me great pleasure to review a most remarkable and well-needed book, Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry.  Peter Lehmann and Peter Stastny , a psychiatrist and a user/survivor have collaborated in selecting sixty-one authors to share their work and experiences with psychiatry.  


In the Introduction, Lehmann and Stastny set forth their fundamental premises:

  1. psychiatry, as a scientific discipline, cannot do justice to the expectation of solving mental problems that are largely of a social nature,
  2. its propensity to use force constitutes a threat, and
  3. its diagnostic methods obstruct the view of the real problems of individuals.


Hope and possibility cut across the perspectives of authors chosen from different cultures, ethnicities and professional disciplines.  Their writings are energized and confirmed by the narratives of the true experts – the witnesses whose personal experience of treatment and recovery tell us that we can and must do better.  The reader is compelled to take a fresh look at what is possible when one is not locked into looking at stress, trauma and emotional pain as exclusively a biochemical condition requiring a physical intervention.

With so much known about the ineffectiveness and harmful effects of current psychiatric practices, why do we continue on this path?  Why is there little support for proven alternatives?  As a reviewer of their work, I share with the editors the hope that this book will spark interest and serve as a catalyst so that we may stop thinking alternatives, but instead begin thinking of a wide array of viable choices from which people can choose – choices that reflect individual needs and contexts, rather than hypothetical formulas.

Ronald Bassman, Ph.D. is author of, A Fight to Be: A Psychologist’s Experience from Both Sides of the Locked Door. For more information see his web site www.ronaldbassman.com.

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Publication information:


Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry
Peter Stastny, Peter Lehmann (eds.)

Soft cover, 432 pages, 3 figures, 14,8 x 21 cm, British ISBN 978-0-9545428-1-8 / American ISBN 978-0-9788399-1-8. Berlin · Eugene, OR (USA) · Shrewsbury (UK): Peter Lehmann Publishing 2007. € 24.90 / US-$ 34.50 / £ 16.99 / CHF 43.70 / CAD 35.- / AUD 38.- / JPY 3900 /

Available in MindFreedom's Mad Market at www.madmarket.org

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Caitlin Belforti: Psychiatric survivor, young adult leader, student

Caitlin is a survivor of maltreatment of Adelphi University's student counseling center. A young adult new to the movement, Caitlin hopes to continue to her involvement in the psychiatric survivor movement and bring more attention to an issue that is all too prevalent and all too ignored. Also an actress and a poet, Caitlin hopes to use the medium of performing arts to spread awareness, and to reach fellow survivors. She says, “Many thanks to the support I have received so far from the cool crowd that is MindFreedom!" Caitlin is speaking at the MindFreedom International peaceful protest of the American Psychiatric Association in Philadelphia, OccupyAPA 2012.
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