John J. Prendergast, Ph.D., adjunct professor of psychology at CIIS, senior editor of The Sacred Mirror and Listening From the Heart of Silence, and editor-in-chief of Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology.
“In this eye-opening book, Paris Williams effectively challenges the prevailing myths about the origins and treatment of psychosis, suggesting that it is a natural, although precarious, process of self-restoration that should be protected, rather than a hopeless lifelong degenerative brain disease to be managed and medicated. The mounting evidence for the abject failure of the medical model to treat psychosis is presented alongside six case studies of people who fully recovered despite psychiatric treatment and who felt more deeply in touch with hope, meaning, a sense of aliveness and the interconnectedness of life as a result of their difficult journeys. Williams also offers an innovative and profound Duality/Unity Integrative model that synthesizes current Existential theory, attachment theory and Buddhist mindfulness perspectives. Rethinking Madness is an important and hopeful book.”
Joanne Greenberg, author of the international bestseller I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
“Paris Williams has written a much needed and extremely thoughtful critique of the major approaches to psychosis. Current psychiatric treatment, while helpful for some, has proven inadequate for most psychotic patients. This book helps us to understand why. But beyond offering a critical appraisal of current methods, Williams also offers a powerfully hopeful vision of new possibilities for the treatment and transformation of this puzzling disorder.”
Brant Cortright, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and author of Psychotherapy and Spirit and Integral Psychology
“Those of us diagnosed with that crushing word, ‘psychotic,’ are too often given labels and false information that result in hopelessness. In Rethinking Madness, Dr. Williams turns this ‘no hope model’ on its head. Dr. Williams effectively challenges outdated, disproven, harmful theories that still dominate today's mental health industry. Most importantly, Dr. Williams closely listens to people who have been through the experiences so often labeled as ‘psychotic.’ Not only does this book show there is hope for full recovery and re-integration into society, but there is plenty of evidence here that this journey may have surprising benefits both for the psychiatric survivor, and for our sick-souled society itself.”
David W. Oaks, Executive Director, MindFreedom International
“Rollo May once said, ‘One does not become fully human painlessly.’ Dr. Paris Williams’ search for what it really means to be human and how to fully reinvent oneself after being diagnosed with a so-called mental illness echoes May’s assertion. Moreover, Williams’ book teaches us that there is a person behind the label of madness and that madness can just be one’s motion towards healing. This book brings hope to many people who suffer from so-called mental illness and who struggle with the concept of illness, and opens up the dialogue in psychology beyond just the medical model.”
Doris Bersing, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Saybrook University
“Every page of this book was exciting to me, offering clear, profound insights not only into the processes of psychosis/alternative realities, but also into philosophical views about human experience, including the spiritual elements of the psychotic process. This spiritual part can conduce toward health if enlisted in the sufferer's behalf. A spiritual component has seldom been used by the members of the medical establishment in treating the illness in any direct way, until now.
While Dr. Williams never trivializes the anguish and psychic and sometimes physical pain mentally ill people endure, he is never without hope for their relief. His help/harm equation in the recovery process had me enthralled with its truth.
This book should be a part of the training of every physician, psychiatrist, and pastoral counselor, and owned by the family and friends of every mentally ill person as well as the sufferers themselves.”
“This is an important book. It states boldly what many of us working in the field and following research based on lived experience have come to suspect: ‘the mainstream vision of psychosis currently held in the West is somehow seriously missing the mark.’ This book provides compelling research evidence to support this conclusion as well as gathering and developing more hopeful alternatives that offer real healing.”
Isabel Clarke, author of Madness, Mystery and the Survival of God, and editor of Psychosis and Spirituality
Rethinking Madness has been receiving
acclaim from many leaders in the field!
“With his groundbreaking new book, Rethinking Madness, Paris Williams takes us into a world in which he joins psychology with Buddhism and Western philosophy to give us a panoramic view of how madness is born, matures, and, may be resolved. Backed by an extensive and engaging survey of historical and contemporary views of psychosis and its etiology, Williams presents an integrative, deep and ultimately humane body of theory and practice that will be of great use to anyone working in this intriguing and difficult area.”
Joe Goodbread, Ph.D., author of Living on the Edge and Befriending Conflict
John Read, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Auckland, and editor of Models of Madness and the scientific journal Psychosis.
Kirk Schneider, Ph.D., editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, adjunct professor of psychology at Saybrook Universtiy and CIIS, and author of The Paradoxical Self and Awakening to Awe
Peter Stastny, M.D., lecturer at the Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, and Co-Author, The Lives they Left Behind—Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic
“In Rethinking Madness, Paris Williams writes of how science, history, and personal stories of recovery from madness all tell of how the medical model of schizophrenia/psychosis is horribly flawed and needs to be fundamentally rethought. In a clear manner, he lays out the evidence for a ‘paradigm shift’ in our thinking that, at its core, would offer people who experience madness both hope and the knowledge that robust recovery is possible, and, with the right support, quite common. And as the personal stories in his book reveal, for some, a bout of madness can be a transformative personal journey.”
Robert Whitaker, winner of the George Polk award in medical writing and author of Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic
"Dr. Paris Williams presents a clearly written comprehensive treatise on madness. Deceptively easy to understand, yet thought provoking and challenging, his work offers plausible reasons to overcome the too simple historical medical approaches that ignore the richness of the human experience and the positive potential inherent in one's journey through madness. Dr. Williams' book will expand the reader's view of this quintessential and ubiquitous human experience that we have come to call madness."
Ronald Bassman, Ph.D., author of A Fight to Be: A Psychologist's Experience from Both Sides of the Locked Door
“...There have been a number of books published which have challenged the established verities in the social sciences....Among these challenges to the traditional model, Rethinking Madness stands out for several reasons—it is clear, thorough, fascinating and bold. It is written in easy to understand English, not postmodern jargon; it thoroughly examines and debunks the psychiatric model; and Williams is not afraid to make controversial affirmations.
The most important and most controversial contention of this book is that psychotic episodes themselves—when not psychiatrically suppressed—are natural goal-directed processes which resolve patients’ life crises, foster their spiritual growth and enhance their capacity to lead courageous and meaningful lives. In order to buttress this contention, Williams gives readers a panoramic review of the existing literature and he presents six powerful case studies based on his interviews with 6 very articulate former patients who believe unequivocally that their psychotic episodes enriched their lives. In order to show that anomalous and ‘crazy’ behavior is socially and existentially intelligible, Williams examines the theories of a number of profound theorists, and ingeniously constructs his own transpersonal-existential hermeneutics which he applies to the experiences of his subjects. Anyone who is skeptical about the mental health system will be convinced after reading Williams' book: There is an alternative.”
Seth Farber, Ph.D., author of Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels, and The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and The Rise of the Mad Pride Movement
With his new book, Rethinking Madness, Paris Williams adds significantly to the growing body of research literature that calls into stark question Western beliefs about the etiology, essential nature, and treatment of madness. Williams has a talent for synthesizing a vast array of research literature in a manner that is both elegantly written and accessible to a lay audience, and he uses those skills to deftly debunk myths about schizophrenia...that go generally unquestioned in the public mind and within the mental health professions.
...Rethinking Madness is one of those rare works that successfully challenges psychiatry’s widely accepted but objectively incorrect beliefs about the extremes of human experience, and does so in a manner that is both scholarly yet accessible. Williams is a wonderfully clear writer dealing expertly with a complex range of theory and deep human experience, and Rethinking Madness is an important book that cannot help but leave the reader with new insights and a sense of wonder at the self-healing power within each of us.
Darby Penney, co-author of The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic
“At last, a book that summarizes the very latest--not in brain chemistry--but in the phenomenology of psychosis. Rethinking Madness is a book of profound illumination both for the scholar and the person struggling for his or her psychical life. I highly recommend this book to all those who are touched by the psychotic experience, which really means all of us--and to find out why, just read this book!”
“Rethinking Madness provides not only a compelling critique of the pessimistic and damaging ‘medical model’ that has dominated mental health services and research for far too long, it offers some hopeful alternatives. In particular, Dr. Williams explains how spiritual understandings, in the broadest sense, can help make sense of even the strangest of experiences and also help point the way toward recovery. These arguments are brought to life by moving accounts of the journeys of several people through and beyond psychosis.”
“This book contains a brave, well-researched, and invaluable new approach to the vexing subject of psychosis. The case studies and the conclusions are novel and unique in their formulations. The insights and theoretical postulates derived from this research are important and likely to move the field forward in unexpected ways. For people who have experienced psychosis or altered states, it is a ray of hope in their struggle to thrive.”