In an effort to uncover the biochemical basis of mental illness, I obtained a PhD
and carried out neurochemical research at NIMH. I uncovered the mechanisms of dopamine
and serotonin biosynthesis. However, during that research, the reductionist approach to
life it was based upon caused me great despair. As a result, at the age of 25, I withdrew
into my own world. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized on 3 occasions.
During the next 5 years, I recovered from what is described as schizophrenia, and
developed a vision of humanizing the mental health system. To fulfill that dream, I
earned a MD, and completed psychiatric training at Harvard Medical School. I have
practiced as a board-certified, community psychiatrist for 30 years.
My passion has been to bring the hope to all who suffer that they can recover a life and
become experts by experience. To transform national mental health policies from fear to
hope, Judi Chamberlin, Pat Deegan, Laurie Ahern, and I co-founded the National
Empowerment Center. I was a member of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health
(2002-03) and through that position was able to bring hope and recovery to national
awareness. Then I helped organize the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, to
make recovery a reality. Through that Coalition I have been working with a large national
team on a SAMHSA contract called BRSS TACS, or Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale
Technical Assistance Center.
Recently I have been promoting peer-run crisis respite alternatives to hospitalization. I
have also helped develop emotional CPR, a program for teaching community members how help
each other through an emotional crisis.
Contributions to Books
Politics, Handbook of Service User Involvement in Mental Health Research (2009)