May 19, 2022

Good morning, MindSite News readers. Today we’re featuring a MindSite News story on Pixar’s coming-of-age film about a Canadian-Chinese teen girl, intergenerational trauma and her inner panda – a movie that reviewer Melissa Hung said she watched with a “flush of recognition.”

Also in today’s newsletter, we include a new book, adapted in a New York Times Magazine story, that looks at the Hearing Voices Network – people who shun psychiatric medications and accept and manage some of the symptoms of psychosis as a way to keep more autonomy over their lives. We also include responses from some readers who say these medications saved their lives. Plus: Why some young people refuse to save money, a surge in fear and anxiety among Black patients after the Buffalo shooting, and more.


Turning Red: A Quirky Coming-of-Age Tale of Breaking Through Intergenerational Pain

Image credit: Pixar

In loving Canadian-Chinese family depicted in Turning Red, Meilin Lee is the perfect, dutiful daughter — until she isn’t. Everything gets complicated after her mother humiliates her in front of the boy she likes: She wakes up the next day to discover that she has turned into a giant fluffy red panda. Whenever she’s overcome with emotion, she poofs into the panda, then reverts to human form when she calms down.

Turning Red is another great offering from Disney/Pixar. Mei is at first horrified by her transformation, but she learns to love her inner panda — the weird, emotional, creative, messy parts that lie within us all. As reviewer Melissa Hung writes, “When you have a mother who sees you as an extension of herself, who has high expectations for you to achieve in ways that she could not, you are bound to disappoint. Turning Red captures the harm caused from grappling with that disappointment but also the hilarity inherent in such intense modes of mothering.”

It also explores the intergenerational trauma that Mei’s parents have tried to hide from their daughter. Don’t miss it, and read more about it in our MindSite News review.

YouTube video


Living with the voices: A peer network challenges psychiatry to accept mental health differences

Image credit: Twitter

After decades of trying to quiet the voices she’d heard since preschool, first with antipsychotic medications, later with street drugs and self-destructive behaviors that landed her in jail, Caroline Mazel-Carlton decided to buck psychiatric convention and accept that the voices were there to stay. As she told author Daniel Bergner for a book released yesterday – and adapted in the The New York Times Magazine – she was also tired of the 50-pound weight gain linked to her psychiatric medications and the shaking and hand flapping they caused. These conditions caused her to be mocked at school and left her feeling barely human.

She made the decision to stop taking her drugs while in treatment at a peaceful farm treatment center in Appalachia for psychiatric patients. Eliminating her prescribed medications in secret, she noticed a striking transformation in herself. Physically, she shed weight the medication caused her to gain and was able to regrow hair that she’d previously torn out. Most importantly though, she soon began to manage herself amidst the mental chatter from her voices. Not long after that, she became a peer support specialist in mental health, helping people who also struggled with auditory and visual hallucinations.

Now, Mazel-Carlton is helping to lead a national movement to reform the way conventional psychiatry treats people with “nonconsensus realities,” known to psychiatrists as psychosis. She works with organizations like the Hearing Voices Network and the Wildflower Alliance, groups that emphasize empathy, peer support and acceptance of other people’s realities. 

The movement’s mission is not without some mainstream support. “Something has gone wrong in contemporary academic and clinical psychiatry,” Harvard-affiliated psychiatrists Caleb Gardner and Arthur Kleinman write in their 2019 article, Medicine and the Mind—The Consequences of Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis. “There is no comprehensive biologic understanding of either the causes or the treatments of psychiatric disorders.” In June, the World Health Organization published a 300-page manifesto on the rights of mental health patients that contested conventional psychiatry’s focus on biology and coercive pharmaceutical treatments.

The Times magazine piece evoked a large response, including some people with severe mental illness who said that without their medications, they could not live:

Save for what? Why ants are turning into grasshoppers

Photo: Shutterstock

While the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered widespread mental anguish, it’s prompted others, notably certain adults under 35, to throw financial caution to the wind. The 27-year-old standup comic Hannah Jones told the New York Times that she used to save nearly all her discretionary income. Now, she says, she’s a “financial nihilist.” Why? “I’m not going to deprive myself some of the comforts of life now for a future that feels like it could be ripped away from me at any moment.” 

Jones isn’t unusual. Forty-five percent of respondents aged 18 to 35 in a Fidelity Investments survey said they “don’t see a point in saving until things return to normal.” More than half in the same age group also admitted to putting retirement planning on hold. 

Still, some experts say this particular attitude is nothing new, but rather a symptom of youth. There’s evidence of that from the Great Depression, the Cold War, and even the 2008 financial crisis.  “Every generation has had an apocalyptic view of their lives,” said financial psychologist Brad Klontz. “We’re not wired to save. We’re wired to consume. If you have an exciting vision of the future, those are the people who aggressively save for retirement. If you have an apocalyptic vision of the future, why would you save for it? Of course you wouldn’t.”

In other news…

Philadelphia therapist Charlotte Andrews told the Philadelphia Inquirer she’s seen an uptick in fear and anxiety among Black patients following last week’s mass shooting in a Buffalo grocery store by a white supremacist who admitted to selecting the store for its location in a mostly Black neighborhood. The fear is that “we are not done,” said Andrews. “This can happen anywhere, and it can happen any time. That’s what I see showing up in therapy.”

Job seekers everywhere experience plenty of rejection, and for recent college grad Jess Thompson, things are no different. In the UK edition of Cosmopolitan magazine, she wrote about how to deal with the anxiety and pessimism that can sometimes creep up during a tough job search. Her two biggest tips: No matter how tough things get, be kind to yourself. And focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. 

Attempting to hide mental illness due to the fear of what might happen to one’s professional or social life can be as time-consuming as working a full-time job. Kimi Culp knows because she used to do it. But after 24 years, she’s publicly revealed her bipolar diagnosis. She wrote in Today about why she decided to come forward.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you’re a veteran, press 1.

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Type of work:

Courtney WiseReporter

Courtney Wise Randolph is a native Detroiter and freelance writer. She is the host of COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience, a 2020 project between WDET and Documenting Detroit which won an Edward R. Murrow...