Extended Book Review: "Rethinking Madness: toward a paradigm shift in our thinking and treatment of psychosis"

Typically when we are labled “Schizophrenic” we are told the familiar line that we have brain “disease” and their is no cure for it and only treatment with lobotomizing chemicals and that we will have to take them for the rest of our lives.

The following book may help you understand that the above is not a fact, and in fact there are many exceptions to the rule.

“Rethinking Maddness: Towards a paradigm shift in our thinking and treatment of psychosis” ~ Paris Williams PhD.

The first thing that is notable about this book is the author. He is a fully recovered schizophrenic, that not only recovered but went on to obtain a doctorate in Psychology and is now a practicing psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The book is remarkable in many ways and for me and I know for many you here it will be like a revelation. A view and treatment that seems so rational and reasonable and almost like common sense, that you will wonder why it isn’t the main thing going.

You may have read or heard alternative theories of psychosis, from nutritional, spiritual, psychic, and other modalities of viewing psychosis. Although those views hold some validity and are reassuring for some people, for the most part (like claims that schizophrenia a biological disease process) the evidence is just not that great and we are lead through a process of belief and disbelief and questioning and ultimately remaining on our medications because we simply do not acquire the type of help from those promoting these views, or, they seem to limited and narrow in scope to really address what is going on.

The book takes the premise that in a nut shell, psychosis is essentially a “existential crisis”. What leads to a psychotic break and what maintains it, is a struggle in our psyche about our existense. By existense, what is meant is the dynamic that we all grapple with: Who and what am I? Who and what are OTHERS? What is my purpose? Why are we here? What is here?

Essentially these are questions that we unconsciously and consciously deal with all of our lives. They are questions of Philosophy and that line of inquiry that has lead the west to incredible breakthroughs in many areas of life.

But on a personal level they are lines of inquiry that we can trace to those transitional periods in our lives where psychotic breaks happen. Many of us developed psychosis in pivotable times in our lives, entering into adult-hood, going to college, major life transitions, going from one stage in our lives to another. Times of experimentation and leaving one paradigm to another in our lives.

The psychotic break happens because we get stuck and do not make the transition; psyche essentially gets in a war with our cognitive constructs (the ideas beliefs and opinions that we have held) and the result is non-consensus anomolous perceptual experiences.

Medical Model Psychiatrists have a materialist and monist philosophical concept. Essentially they posit that the mind and body are one, when they speak of the psyche they are speaking about the bio-electric-chemical organ called the brain. Despite the fact that they have no clue what causes schizophrenia or how to cure it, psychiatry has dogmaticly held on to the idea for over a century that schizophrenia is essentially a biological disease. They have used us to great extent over a couple of centuries as lab rats, essentially trying all sorts of “cures” and “treatments” torturing us, locking us up, in “Hospitals” and “sanitariums”, to “insulin shock”, to removing the stomache and all sorts of surguries including “lobotomies” and now chemical lobotomies with pills … ALL OF THIS … to maintenance their philosophical position that the mind and the body are the same and reality is only what we can touch, taste, hear, smell, or see AND only the concensus version of it, where the hedgemony agrees on what the perception is. Most importantaly this view maintains an “up from the boot strap” kind of individuation, that we are seperate from others and broken beyond repair.

This book draws on a Dualistic Construct and the Idea of a Greater Unity, that is fundemental to most eastern Philosophies. That human beings are essentially dualistic, the psyche (soul mind) resides in the body, but is not the body. It is more like how an operating system such as Linux resides on computer, but it is not the hardware, it is the almost ethereal instruction set, that gives the computer life, that without it the computer is more of a door stop or brick.

The psyche uses all sorts of tactics to intuit the Unity to us while allowing us to individuate through out our lives; sorting and weaving the whole and the parts of the Universe into relationships, social and ecological.

In this model, schizophrenia and the prodormal experience leading to a psychotic break is not the result of brain chemical imbalances, but more so a sticking point in our existense, where a crisis develops: an existential crisis. Our cognitive construct is not able to widen its window size to incorporate new information and experience, instead the psyche is forced to use measures both real and imagined to assualt the narrow Cognitive Construct in an attempt to bring us into the new paradigm of life experience, where we grow, both as individuals and also in our consciousness of the Unity.

What is compelling about this book is manifold. First of all it is written by someone that is recovered and living successfully in the world and took the time to tell us how he resolved his schizophrenia (he had no help from psychiatrists). Second, it is not dogmatic, it is not religious, it does not compel you to swallow a bunch of pills or thought viruses or rituals to “free” yourself. Third, the Duality Unity Integrated (DUI) model is elegant – It really addresses the problem without out complexity and no intrigue. Fourth, It is not dismissive, it is inclusive and wholistic. Once you read it I am sure you will think of the book as an essential part in your collection and recovery and a direction that should be explored. Fifth, the book is full of examples from real people in the Dr. Williams’s practice and research that have over come schizophrenia.

I am already experiencing break throughs because because of the line of thinking and this book essentially codified it, made it clear that I am on the right path, and gave me the freedom to work; it was a real game changer for me and I will cover some of the changes hopefully in some of the posts I make in this forum from this point forward. It just depends on how this post is recieved.


I wrote about the book in this forum not too long ago, but it wasn’t well received. Though, I didn’t explain it as well as you have. I think the book is very optimistic about schizophrenia. It gives me hope that one day, I will no longer be on medication. He also suggests that childhood trauma, or trauma in general can lead to eventual psychosis. This resonates with me as I have experienced a great deal of trauma. It makes sense too. Depression, which I’ve had off and on throughout my life, was caused by stressors, why not schizophrenia?

hey dude,

Your a good bloke and I’ll vouch for that!
A degree in psychology isn’t much these days! Yungian or Freudian or fraudian it don’t amount to much but experience often tells you otherwise…

I don’t read books. I’ve got a brain disorder. It’s chemical in basis and medications are extremely limiting but it’s like anything else these days! Even junkies can justify their existence…is that what you would like me to say? Perhaps not!

Schizophrenics think too much and that isn’t often a good thing! I don’t think as much anymore and that is enlightening…the Japanese had a word for it…Satori…in the left cortex?

Dude! Medications work over placebo! It doesn’t matter what intellectual context you try to place it that beats psychology every single day and that is your challenge! Prove it dude … but seriously your chasing shadows from my perspective and that is crueller than even Jungian rubbish for the worried well…

Beat the placebo dude and I’ll listen to you…otherwise your one of the sanely challenged who chasing constructs from chemical interactions in your brain!


great info there. one of the best posts ive read on these forums


It would be good to have the link to the cut and paste of the original post in this thread.

Hey mister lister, welcome back, its been a long time since we’ve seen you post.

My psychologist wants to shorten our sessions - As a smart psychologist I think she understands that talk therapy can go so far when it comes to helping someone living with a biological brain disorder. She understands that medicine will help me, talking about it or using cognitive strategies plays a limited role - very limited.
She wants to see me for 35 minutes every week to see how Im doing, with my meds with how Im feeling, checking on me. In my view, and I did not read the book nor will I, this book is money in the bank for the author - just another whacked out theory trying to explain away a complex biological based brain disorder like schizophrenia.
I will always believe schizophrenia to be a real and tangible illness - alternative psycho babble theories trying to define schizophrenia is just a silly game I will not be a part of. I need more reality in my life not less

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I get the whole existential crisis and trauma thing, I know what he means because I feel the same way (alone in a universe, that’s what it feels like, but isnt that reality?) and I like to hear from a recovered person, but I think that anti-psychiatry is just wrong. I dont have time to get psychoanalysis and psychologically rewire my entire brain. It’s easier to take my meds and say “■■■■ you and goodbye!” to psychosis.

He’s being too romantic about mental illnesses. I’m sorry to say but there is nothing redeeming or OK about being schizophrenic. It’s a maladaptive genetic disaster and is often responsible for suicides, life on the streets, broken dreams, substance abuse, social isolation and sometimes even homicides.

He is just lucky to have naturally recovered, which is a very unlikely and improbable occurrence. The vast majority of people with schizophrenia should not hope for unmedicated recovery, the statistics just shoot it down before it even leaves the ground.

The vast majority of the psychological community considers schizophrenia to be a neurological and genetic disorder, which means talk therapy will not relieve the symptoms.

And as far as “chemical lobotomies” go, I take two meds for my schizophrenia, I am on a full scholarship to college, I made a 3.96 last semester and I am an amateur powerlifter, I weigh 165lbs and my three lifts add up to over 1000lbs. I sure as hell dont look like I have been lobotomized.


Again Bravo mortimermouse! :smile:

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