What is the BizOMadness Blog?

This blog is devoted to raising critical awareness of psychiatry generally. It is likewise devoted to the antipsychiatry research projects, publications, and related activities of Dr. Bonnie Burstow. Especially foregrounded are The Psychiatry Project, The Madness Project, and "Psychiatry and the Business of Madness". Related to one another, The Psychiatry Project and The Madness Project involve hundreds of interviews, a dozen focus groups, analysis of several hundred documents and their activation, and dedicated periods of institutional observation. The culmination of both as well as of decades of related interviews and activities is "Psychiatry and the Business of Madness" (timely updates on its publication will be provided)--a cutting edge book in which psychiatry is investigated from multiple angles and which begins to tackle the inevitable question: So if we get rid of psychiatry, where do we go from there?

For the Events page to find events related to this research or this book, see

To check out reviews of Psychiatry and the Business of Madness and related publications, see http://bizomadnessreviews.blogspot.ca/

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book Launch for Psychiatry Disrupted a Smashing Success

On Friday, September 12, the much anticipated book launch for Psychiatry Disrupted (Eds. Burstow, LeFran├žois, and Diamond) happened.  The launch was nothing short of magnificent.  A wonderful community event, with the reality and the presence of community palpable. Approximately 120 people were in attendance--the editors, contributors, activists, artists, academics, radical professionals.  The air was filled with excitement. Indeed, you could feel a certain something in the room.  Something that uplifted and joined us to one another.  Also a sense that those of us who oppose psychiatry had inherited the moment and were unstoppable.

Tables included material from all participating activist organizations. All eight speakers were inspiring, thoughtful, and reflective.  While the entire event was uplifting, moments that particularly stand out for me were:  Ambrose Kirby as he told those assembled that the worst thing about psychiatry for the trans community is "not what you think", is not the diagnoses or the bias, but the invitation not to trust one's own body and mind.  Susan Schellenberg as she reasserted the significance of art to resistance. My keen awareness of people behind the scenes like Liam, who had risen early in the morning, and equipped with his cart, stopped in at shops around the city, making sure that there would be sufficient there for everyone to eat. Don Weitz, now his 80s, present and presiding over the CAPA table and Rebecca Ballen, going to the microphone and explaining CAPA. The card for ailing Carla MacKague that so many people signed. Brenda arriving all way from Newfoundland. A. J Withers as they carefully and brilliantly articulated a radical disability critique.

All and all, a rare event.  Thank you to the hosts--CWSE, CAPA, and McGill-Queen's University Press.  Thank you everyone who participated, and otherwise made it possible.  And thank you those who thoughtfully sent us good wishes (and yes of course, we felt you there with us in spirit)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Breaking News about Psychiatry and the Business of Madness

An important victory has just been achieved in my attempt--or more accurately, determination--to have my magnum opus--Psychiatry and the Business of Madness--make its debut to the reading public in the best way possible. What I wanted was a first rate international publisher, moreover a paperback release.  More generally,  I wanted something that would put antipsychiatry on the map in the way it has not been for years, such that it would engender a much needed societal wide conversation. And what goes along with this,  I needed it affordable (which it would not be if released in hardcover only). Given what I felt to be the importance of this book, how could I settle for less?

I turned to  Palgrave Macmillan--an excellent international publisher with outreach throughout the world.  Palgrave Macmillan was very enthusiastic, as were the researchers to whom they sent the book. The snag is, they have a policy about initially releasing scholarly books in hardcover only--a monetary issue. The long and the short is that while they offered me a contract, it was for hardcover only.  I imagined the book quickly buried.  And I was well aware that few people can afford a book such an expense--never mind the audience of psych survivors and students.  I took a deep breath. And albeit it was hard to do so, with my heart in my mouth, I  rejected the offer.   Months of negotiations followed, all of it in good faith. There were moments there where the suspense was almost unbearable. Today, the payoff came. Palgrave Macmillan wrote offering me a contract for a simultaneous paperback and hardcover release.

Within six months to a year, expect to see this book in your local bookstore, on Amazon, discussed in the press.  And do come to the book launch when it happens.

How do I understand what played out here? Let me say that to a degree I was just plain lucky for I had a highly receptive editor and in a way, the timing could not have been better.  Nonetheless, if there is a lesson to be learned here--and I suspect there is--it is to is to know the quality of your work, know the needs of your readers, and when push comes to shove, be willing to stand up for both.