FAQ: My life is based on a true story

I put 10 years into alt-rock radio before settling in Austin where I live on psych disability and legislative tracking when the patriarchs are in session. I’ve been a burden on the welfare state since before you were born, in exchange for a colorful array of psychiatric labels. This is how it’s done, no such thing as a free lunch. I take this American safety net seriously, its bureaucrats less so. 

My no-count husband, Major Depression, is the leading cause of disability in the United States. The black dog pounces and I wallow in squalor, when dogs run free, I try to, as they say, put it out there. I’ve been spewing my fortunate life history since 1989. This portal leads to the online archive. I am Robin in the ridiculous boots.

I have lots of stories about what’s out there. I’ve been a D V crises counselor, hotline volunteer, Alzheimer’s attendant, house manager at a residential flophouse, CPS intern, prison advocate, and patients rights liaison at Austin state hospital; all jobs lost to breakdowns and smashups, but I am, objectively speaking, a high-achieving nobody.

This blog, now defunct, is a timeless and enduring exploration of sucky developments in theory and treatment of mental distress — especially psychopharmacologicalism and insulting, vapid, short-term correction therapies, that too often translate to the denial of basic rights and resources for those unwilling to comply with dominant psychiatry, which increasingly controls social services and the law.  You’ll come to see how diagnostic mislabeling is not a mistake, but a fucking political issue, linked to coercive policies, that together comprise the reigning (and speculative) biological model of mental illness under critique here.

It’s not the model I take issue with, but the dogmatism. Biopsychiatry is a single-minded approach that ignores simple, obvious and straightforward narrative explanations for psychiatric phenomena.

Maybe some folks have been harmed by their heredity, but my own genes have never broke my bones and dragged me down the stairs. People like me, who have been damaged by experience are not well served by the medical model. As a champion of humanistic psychology it just makes sense to take their dismantling of existential theory and application as a personal offense.

About blog comments:

Save them, you’re here to learn. If you get *triggered* that might be a clue you need to connect with a radical mental health professional.  Meanwhile have a drink and try to relax.


Here’s to a little less behavior mod and a lot more uproar. Namaste, and enjoy your stay, it’s later than we think.


54 thoughts on “FAQ: My life is based on a true story

  1. Hi…
    I tried to register at “Our Common Condition” and it wouldn’t let me because it said my email verification didn’t match my original email. But it did. Any suggestions?

    I’m really enjoying your blog and have started digging into the archives. I’m especially interested in your take on CBT. I’ve always found it despicable as well, but could not articulate why. It seems you are putting into words some of what I’ve felt intuitively. In general I simply have felt that it is insulting to my intelligence and condescending as well. I’ve mostly stayed away from it, but always wondering if I was letting something good slip by me. It’s good to get my gut validated. (I’ve really only looked at books and online descriptions–and I went to two DBT classes–had automatic negative reactions to all of it–still want to try and figure out exactly what I think of it so I can talk intelligently about it)

    Anyway would love to check out your bulletin board.

  2. Hey Gianna,

    I lasted about 6 sessions into DBT myself, left in disgust, the therapists were more sour and bitter than I’ll ever be, that’s a bad sign.

    But I’m ambivalent, too, there’s some good tools there, all the ZEN stuff, I wish there were free DBT classes available and think there should be, run by non-professionals like AA Groups.

    Meanwhile I have a link on self-help here where we can teach ourselves DBT for free.

    My board, eh. Well, that’s one reason I abandoned it, people should be able to post without even joining, but they’re making so many changes I just quit and use it for an archive. For support and online friendship I hang at the Bob Dylan Shelter, they’re more sophisticated about mental health than most mental health boards anyway.

    Here’s a link, come by sometime.


  3. I don’t know what the heck the problem is but that ezboard is not accepting my email address.

    Was hoping to get in some interesting dialog.

    I read that thread from the bulletin board on cognitive therapy you have on here and I wanted to join. Anyway–I’ll try another day–maybe something is just wrong with it right now.

  4. Gianna, I looked at your email address, never seen one like that before. The underline _ between your name and @ might be the reason the boards don’t recognize it.

    Benjamin, your board is a mess. The neon fonts are hard to read and your rhetoric is fanatical. No one is going to be outlawing psychiatry, aint gonna happen. You want people to take you seriously you need to sound reasonable.

  5. The Black Dog, eh. I have one too…and like you, feel the need for shared personal narrative, redemptive value included.
    Thanks for all of this, and I hope you find the time to visit off and on.
    Paula Apodaca
    E. is for Epilepsy by Paula Apodaca
    and you have the rest…

  6. I been wondering when you’d find me. I drop by your blog now and then, like it, ya got style, always have, Zo. I miss the back and forth, your brainy in-depth perspective on all things psychological. I remember our connection, and will try and stay more in touch this time.

  7. Hiya Chuck,

    Everything’s against me, been trying to see your movie since 2:00 AM and it’s now 6:48. RealPlayer keeps making me download new stuff, then I have to re-download your movie, it just disappears. OK, coffee’s on, we’ll get there, it’s DSL, so we’ll get there, we’re cool, right? No, 2 minutes ago it says I have to install Quicktime so will try that, see what happens.

  8. I just saw it, and liked it in the good way. First, she’s not some famous waif everyone but me recognizes, right?

    She seemed like a reasonable American teenager, sorting through some disturbing shit that comes with her times. Maybe they’re all tempted by cutting, the decision they have to make, a rite of passage in itself.

    And maybe she seems dismissive when talking about her peer group, the people she’s seen screw themselves up? Nah, her taste in music belies a cold heart. She strikes me as good therapist material, observant and interested, the things she talks about.

    Nice work, thanks for sharing it.

  9. Thanks, you didn’t need to stay up all night.

    As you can probably imagine, the cutting bought her some therapy, but she refused to have any meaningful dialog with the therapist, if that were even possible, and got one prescription after another which she resisted taking for any consistent stretch. Everyone agrees that her problems stem from a messy divorce when she was quite young and the behavior of her father in its wake. He punished the mom by refusing to have anything to do with the child and naturally, she idolizes him and hates her mom, who in addition to the divorce, made a bad choice of second husbands which resulted in a constant state of tension, harsh words, and screaming fights. The fact that three classmates in a small school chose to hang themselves in the course of a year did not help, nor did the other friends killed in car crashes. None of that is really a mystery. But what about the guy that films it and puts it on the internet as a piece of art? What’s up with that?

  10. Hi

    I’ve been looking at your blog and I think it’s brilliant.

    I’m a psychotherapist who also happens to think that much of the field of psychotherapy is absolute shit dressed up as science.

    The CBT political machine is, in my view, a cynical power-hungry, money-making venture that simply preserves the ugly societal status quo, rendering suffering persons ‘defective’, ‘dysfunctional’ and socially ‘deviant’ where they have the misfortune (or courage) to be different from the robots we’re encouraged to be. CBT can be learned in an afternoon by anyone who can read (and some who can’t). The fact that they’re offering it as computer software says it all. The fact that Lord Layard (the economist) has promoted CBT in the UK says something more about the capitalistic bent of CBT (Capitalist Bullshit Therapy?)

    Clinical Psychology is fulfilling the same role, with tidal waves of clinical psychologists and CBT therapists flooding the UK at the moment and pathologising everything that moves. The pseudo-medical approach serves to bolster the fevered egos of those who didn’t quite make it to medical school but want the kudos of the ‘Dr’ image. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is awash with these folks and I work alongside them; witnessing the ugly labelling and reduction of suffering souls into ‘patients’ who are forced to retain stigmatising labels for the rest of their lives, simply because they found themselves vulnerable in the wrong company.

    I love your website, your lively spirit and your cause.



  11. You have no idea how much I appreciate what you’re doing here. As a “consumer” on psych-disability for a dissociative disorder and complex PTSD I’ve also had my run-ins with the political side of the mental health system. I’ve written letters to congress, etc., but nothing sticks. I feel like an alien at the local mental health center because of my treatment plan — the answers to it’s end do not lay in my brain chemistry.

    So thanks so much and I’ll be subscribing here.

    Hope Sent,

    ~ Ani

  12. Hello–Think this is really great, thought-provoking stuff. I’ve my own black dog and use music etc to get rid of it. I very much want to be a psychologist but before that I wanted to be a journo maybe the mental health industry is just as bad?

  13. I noticed your comment above mine on another site, and found your blog. It’s really really well done and I am enjoying reading it. I mean, how could you not want to read a blog with the Vermont Teddy Bear that was the reason I stopped buying their bears?

    You’ve given me a lot of food for thought as I enter the world of blogging. Thank you so very much.

    I cannot get on your BB, but please email me privately.


  14. Forgive me, this is my first visit to your blog and I’m still trying to assimilate your ideas. On the one hand it appears as if you’re critical of the system governing mental illness, though as of yet I haven’t grasped your solution. On the other hand I am appreciative that you have brought light to a situation that indubitantly affects a huge quantity of the populace. Therefore, I will check ya out again! Keep up the good work.

  15. Got a chance to peek your blog. Even though I’m not much of a political guy, it appears to me that you have a handle on it (to say the least). Again I say, keep up the good work!

    God bless you, peace.

  16. Today’s lead article on your blog is about being remembered. Having met you in person, I can assure you…you’re unforgettable!

    Was a pleasure spending time with you.

  17. Same here, it became a pleasure when I moved out of snark mode and got honest with you. But in the interest of personal growth and being known I have to tell you what was going on with me. It’s like I had this whole play set up, spent 2 days cleaning my house, bought coffee liquor and flameless candles, so when you were on the way over I put the coffee on and Ella Fitzgerald, and was all set to have things go this certain way. Then you guys came over and waited in the car and it’s like the whole world fell apart. But that wasn’t the problem, that you waited outside or that I had plans too, people always have plans too. The problem began with my withholding the fact of my preparations, which were really ordinary and benign, but left inside me to corrode it wasn’t long before I started feeling like our entire time together was to be an exercise in self-negation. I felt like I couldn’t admit to this in case you’re the only friend I have left in the world, so why stir up shit? But it’s not shit, the fear is the shit, fear that opening up will bring about calamity, when it’s more likely to create intimacy. I am most afraid when things are nice. But it was, *our* time to talk and share meaningfully is something I’ll never forget. Yes. I love you.

  18. There you go. Maybe one day you’ll realize how special and wonderful you are.

    I have photos to send you by the way. I have a shot of two of you that is wonderful!

  19. Just thought I’d note your “dialogue” with the others at FS of late is painful to read. Can’t dialogue with people who are inflexible and rigid, and with very large but dull axes to grind. Good luck to you though in trying.

    Happy Thanksgiving and future holidays beyond.

    therapyfirst, board cert psych MD

  20. They’re hellbent all right. I wonder they’ll run off dguller, the new longsuffering psychiatrist, who is saying things that need to be said there.
    Thanks for stopping by, happy thanksgiving to you too TF.

  21. loved your comment at FS today per 12:47 one. Can you believe this pontification beyond verbage with this group?

    I am glad I am banned, because this is crazy stuff. Dguller seems a bit beyond just making points, eh.

    Good luck there.


  22. thanks, it’s true, and they give the rest of us AXIS II folks a bad name.

    dguller is a godsend. but when he quits posting furious seasons will revert the antipsychiatry semantic swamp it’s become since six awful people took over a blog.

  23. Nice comment today regarding the rigidity of AA. Still goes on in many groups, as related to me by patients.

    Getting quite ugly at that site. The owner didn’t want to hear it then, so now it is up front and out of control. Dguller seems to have a role though.

    Just be careful, even if I am wrong to advise this here.


  24. Hey, FP, was thinking of you. I always want my friends and chosen family around me this time of year. Well, you’re not here physically, but you’re in my thoughts.

  25. Hey this is what the blogosphere is good for, Christmas week, when people scatter and the noise quiets down, I go visiting too. We always connect around this time of year and I hope we always will.

  26. Hi,

    I just wanted to take a moment to add to your comments about FS and Doc Guller.

    Yes, it is a shame that along with him and others any contrarian and reasonable thoughts and offerings to counterbalance the nature and dogma of that blog are stifled but that is the nature of many blog offerings. That is a gravitation of like minds to the exclusion of any differential thinking.

    My straw was broken and I was excommunicated when I questioned Philip’s conclusions relating to the Wallace autopsy.


    Then too maybe I’m luckier than a few of you as Philip, despite his exhaustion, devoted several paragraph to me:



  27. FP:

    the more I read of dguller’s comments, the more wary I get of his agenda at the site (FS). Good luck debating these folks, as I think the topic matter of the posting (TIme and Borderline issues)has gone beyond touching some nerves.

    Axis II diagnoses are based on long term work with a patient, not as a quick assumption or worse, use a diagnosis to demean or label someone. I do find your rebuttals worthwhile though. Therapy is effective if it is practiced responsibly and appropriately, regardless of the paradigm utilized.

    Again, good luck.


  28. (edited, since I made a long comment that turned into a post)

    Thanks for that, I am upset.

    As for dguller, what do you mean? A nefarious agenda? He’s got a difficult personality, hell, so do you, but ethically, I don’t see a problem, though I’m very open to troublemakers. He is like a lot of us I suspect, ticked off at the bigotry and psychophobia on display and he’s taking them on point by point. I thought that’s what blogs are about, the more education the better.

  29. Well, everyone has a personality, the question is, does it get you through life without too much dysfunction. Everyone is going to have a bit of dysfunction. More good days than not, that is what I believe.

    I am not open to troublemakers of what you note, as I asked Philip to ban me, because my reactions to the site commenters turned me into an addict by my responsiveness to the “bigotry and psychophobia”. I like that word, psychophobia.

    My feelings exactly, fear of psycho’s!

    I’ll read your Jan 17 posting after this.

    Hope it’s fairly warm where you are at.

    Be well.

  30. And now that I’ve read even deeper than my first glance, I’m really glad to see you still around Robin, and Cincinnati misses you. I should have realized that depression would be such a struggle for me when as a teenager I was convinced only Morrissey understood me (although my school boy crush on you finished in the top ten). I’ve finally gotten happy and levelled out from my normal rollercoaster ride and life is much better. You can get healthy if you find the right program and when you get there, it’s every bit as good as you imagined.

    Keep on keeping on.


  31. Thanks for that Scott, and for your wonderful email, which found me yesterday and left me walking on air all day.

    We might say I had a crush on you too during my stint at WOXY, in the way I imagined my brilliant, encouraging, target listener there in the studio with me during every show. I always felt and tapped into that support, especially when I was finally and totally fired. What a ride that was, four years molesting WOXY, I say it was good and good to be remembered.

  32. Hey, great blog!

    Not sure how I found you as I was drifting around the interweb but thanks for your unique pov. I shall bookmark and return.. and return..


  33. Why don’t you write a new post? Same reason I bet, breaking up with the blogosphere, am I right? But posting did occur to me, I got so steamed about the Feministe outrage yesterday


    I had to step away and walk it off. Leaving the house didn’t help, I was out there looking for a fight. It’s like a dysfunctional family; I don’t like most comments that result from my posts, but the reactive, angry and emotional overload seems built in to the blogosphere and I’m burnt out. It doesn’t compare to the fun I’m having on Twitter where people are individuated and psychologically bounded, open, interesting and undefended, and share hand-picked links. It’s productive, I can spend all day reading my Twitter feed, there’s so much going on and I go to it without any sense of dread or conflict. I don’t want to burn bloggy bridges, maybe it’s just how new toys are always usurpers, at least for a time.

    Anyways. Happy Mother’s Day, I hope they spoil you rotten.

  34. Robin, don’t care about the therapy issues now. Do you wanna talk alt rock? I found 2 mid 80’s mix tapes I made of Planet X sessions that I love! You were my alt/punk goddess in those years. One of my tapes I documented pretty well, but the other has many artists I can’t ID. Any interest to help? If not, no worries!

  35. OK, I won’t hold a grudge, most other bloggers would, but I’m too evolved for this shit. Yeah, I’m curious about what’s on that compilation, and wonder about my facility in naming the artists after all this time. How will you get the audio to me? Youtube, MP3 Zip? Send it, I’m up for a challenge.

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