Bad Things That Happen to You Can Drive You Crazy!

I’m feeling elated after an amazing evening at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The event, sponsored by Mount Holyoke College Department of Psychology and Education, the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community, and the Freedom Center was attended by about 150 people  – students, academics and people from the local community – some as far away as Boston, Connecticut and Pittsburg. The auditorium was packed with people hungry for an alternative to the pharmaceutically driven, biomedical model which dominates so heavily in America.  Many were inspired when they heard Ron Coleman and Paul Baker speak late last year and there is a growing momentum for the development of the Hearing Voices Network in America. Change is happening.

My talk, entitled: “Bad Things That Happen to You Can Drive You Crazy! Understanding Abuse, Trauma, and Madness and Working toward Recovery”,

(see this link for further information:

seemed to really resonate with others experiences and many people were clearly questioning the adequacy of a biomedical model to make sense of and respond to human distress.

I began by reading ‘A Tale of An Ordinary Little Girl’ and then spoke about the groundbreaking work of the Hearing Voices Movement, its success in many other parts of the world and our intention to revolutionise the way societies think about hearing voices and other unusual human experiences. I ended by stressing the imperative to take collective responsibility for the ills in our societies, to become aware of the dominant ideologies that redefine reality and to challenge oppression, power, social norms and inequalities. I appealed to everyone to join the last great civil rights movement – fighting for the rights of those labelled as mentally ill.

As always, a number of survivors came up to me afterwards and thanked me for telling ‘their’ story. Lots of people wanted to find out more about how they could get involved in the movement, meet with others, start groups. People are impatient for a paradigm shift in the way we understand and respond to human suffering which is now, long overdue. Many are in anguish. Fortunately, there are already some fantastic Hearing Voices Groups running in the area, with several new groups in development. I left feeling proud, inspired and grateful to be part of such a wonderful, powerful movement for change in the world.

There is still so much work to be done. First, it’s time for a bath and then bed.

7 replies
  1. Deb Chandler
    Deb Chandler says:


    Thank you SO much for coming and speaking at Mt. Holyoke College last night. It was a great pleasure to hear you speak and to meet you afterwards.

    It is so important for us in the US to see what mental health activism and advocacy is happening in other countries and how our system compares. You said last night that the US is the last in the lineup of “developed” countries to offer hearing voices groups. There is much work to be done. But I am proud to live in Western MA, where we DO have Hearing Voices groups and trainings for more groups to follow, thanks to you, Gail Hornstein, Oryx Cohen and the Recovery Learning Community.

    I hope to stay in touch (I hope also to get to the UK some day soon), and I hope today’s presentation in Framingham goes well!

    Take care,
    Deb Chandler

    • Jacqui
      Jacqui says:

      Hi Deb,

      It was lovely to meet you too – wish we’d had more time to talk – felt like there was so much more to discuss! I’m very pleased that you enjoyed my talk and that as you say, you are in an area where there are some brilliant developments on the Hearing Voices front! I met so many wonderful people in Western MA and hope to come back again very soon…

      The talk in Framingham went very well too – again people were so receptive to hear more about humane and compassionate approaches to responding to extreme human distress and suffering – that make so much more sense to most of what is on offer/forced on people currently.

      I hope you do make it to the UK sometime but in the meantime, would be lovely to stay in touch.

      All the best,


  2. suzanne
    suzanne says:

    well done jacqui!
    you are doing a great job! you are an inspiration to many people. Keep up the great work!

  3. Ann Gonzalez
    Ann Gonzalez says:

    Jacqui, great to find your blog. This IS the last great civil rigthts movement–I’m sorry for the way I got into it, which was traumatic, but I plan to speak and write about this for the rest of my life. I teach university classes and am writing a novel. But slowly and steadily I plan to be an activist and speaker for survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are now being re-abused by conventional psychiatry. It is a tragedy that can’t be allowed to go on unopposed.

    I’m going to read your book. Keep up the pressure on a system too bad not to fail.


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