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Farber Essay, Response to New York Times, 2016/ TI Letter

The Spiritual Gift of Madness:The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement INDIEBOUND BOOKS.

This revolutionary book tells how the Mad Pride movement developed in the last ten years as the successor to the mental patients’ liberation movement. It includes interviews with leaders in the movement as well as an interview with Paul Levy author of Wetiko, spiritual educator and ex-mental patient. Dr Farber believes the most important innovation to emerge from this movement is the proposition that madness is a dangerous gift. To explain this movement Farber has developed a new paradigm of madness and cultural transformation that builds upon the work of leading theorists in the existentialist, Jungian, Christian and Hindu traditions—including R.D. Laing, John Weir Perry and Sri Aurobindo. This paradigm helps to explain why this movement of “schizophrenics” and “bipolars” could change the world

Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt Against the Mental Health System

Some people see visions, express disturbing views, in a disturbing way, believe that they have intimations of a spiritual reality, are confused or unhappy, talk too much, and annoy their relatives. Are these people medically sick, and if so, is the appropriate treatment to imprison them, demean them, and disable them with stupefying drugs and electrically-induced brain damage?

Dr. Seth Farber doesn't think so. He has collected seven true stories of individuals insulted and injured by the mental health system, individuals who then fought back, broke free, and rebuilt their lives.

Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers:Conversations with Jewish Critics of Israel (Common Courage Press, 2005)

"Permit me to thank you with all my heart for your book. It is a ray of piercing truth, amid the darkness that lays claim to our world, from Tel Aviv to Washington, For me, indebted as I am to the prophets from Isaiah to Jesus, you have illumined the human vocation (whether of unbeliever. Jewish. Muslim, Christian); to labor on behalf of justice and peace, to stand with the victimised; 'the widow and orphan and stranger at the gate', to oppose war and its vile tactics--occupation, bombing, sanctions, slaughter of innocents - war, the creator of widows and orphans, of generational hatreds, of a ruined creation - untended wounds on the planet and the body of the human family.The book is simply indispensable, given the welter of outright lies, slants, omissions that sum up our 'unmediating media' regarding the ongoing tragedy of the Palestinian people. To you and the noble minority who people this book, thanks are due from those who seek the truth, ever endangered and dishonored by the mandarins of untruth. "
-- Rev Daniel Berrigan, S.J.

Lunching with Lunatics: Memoirs of a Renegade Psychologist (in progress-unpublished)

"Before I explain, let me mention a discovery I made just a few month ago. I discovered that there are quite a few gerontologists on the leading edge of science who believe we are on the verge of being able to stop or reverse aging. Aubrey De Grey, the gerontologist with the most salient public profile, claims we can achieve virtual immortality this century--one might add if we don't destroy ourselves first.Gerontologists realize that we do not have to die, death is is not part of the inalterable nature of things, it is not the result of a natural law, it is not inevitable, death is a contingency. The fact that through science secular persons are reaching the conclusion--that we (as human beings) do not have to die-- that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother reached through mystical experiences, is another indication that we are dealing with an idea that is now emerging from the depths of our collective unconscious and seeking realization.
But the point I want to emphasize here is the remarkable fact that scientists today are seeking the same goal as humanity’s messianic prophets and seers–eternal life. Thus the opportunity to realize our messianic vision, to transform our ancient “memory” of paradise into reality, has never been so great. (Nor has humanity ever been so imperiled by the threat of self annihilation.) But the collective will to realize this ideal is lacking. We have been trained to believe it is fantasy and few people are prepared to accept it as an imminent possibility ...
Science alone is powerless – a new spiritual awakening is necessary. Science now holds virtual immortality within its grasp. Those of us who grasp the significance of this fact must publicize it so that the idea of eternal life, eternal love, of heaven on earth can incubate and grow numinous within the collective imagination. The problem of the lack of unity of humanity and our failure to realize the pivotal role romantic love could play in enabling us to actualize this ideal must be addressed. Romantic love must no longer be minimized or dismissed as illusory. It is our greatest spiritual resource.The task of our spiritual leadership must be to do everything within its power to make eternal love the new social Imaginary, to promulgate the idea of a society without aging, without war, without death, the vision of a society in which romantic love not death has the last word."

Eternal Day: The Christian Alternative to Secularism and Modern Psychology (Regina Press, 1998)

Dr Farber argues that the archetype of the flawed soul tainted by original sin underlies the contemporary concept of "mental illness" or psychopathology. Classical and modern psychoanalytical theories constitute a secularized version of the Augustinian pseudo-Christian narrative of sin and damnation. Thus Freud's claim to have liberated psychology from religious superstition is spurious. Biological psychiatry like Freudianism claims to have finally freed itself from superstition--Farber debunks this claim. As an alternative to the misanthropic anthropology that underlies over two centuries of psychology and psychiatry, Farber elaborates a Christian humanist metanarrative based on reverence for humanity and all creation -- a narrative rooted in faith in the divine promise (Isaiah, Jesus) of infinite love and immortal life.

Lunching with Lunatics: Memoirs of a Renegade Psychologist.

This is a modern Bildungsroman by a maverick psychologist who is determined to change the world, find his soul mate and prove the soteriological power of madness and of love. He is haunted by a vision–a archetypal memory–of our lost paradise Like the creative misfits and (official) lunatics he befriends, and the mad women with whom he falls in love in this bewitching book-- which is alternately funny, tragic, and intellectually provocative-- he is never fully at home here, except for the ephemeral times when he has found true love. Farber’s peak experiences and his reading of modern mystics like Sri Aurobindo and Vladimir Solovyov, and gerontologists (like Aubrey De Grey) convince him that humanity is destined to attain eternal love and physical immortality-- paradise. It is testimony to Farber’s power as a writer that he is able to make his unusual vision, incredible as it is, seem as if it is just within the reach of humanity.

Unholy Madness: The Church's Surrender to Psychiatry (InterVarsity Press,1999)

Social critics such as Philip Rieff and Christopher Lasch have frequently bemoaned the "triumph of the therapeutic" in our current "cuture of narcissism." But most Christians have made some kind of peace with the reigning power of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic outlooks.

Seth Farber is not one of those Christians. It is his conviction that Christianity and psychiatry are nothing less than competing faiths. Dr. Farber challenges the church to consider how it has neglected its responsibilities in its accommodation to the mental health system. Taking on giants from Augustine to Freud, this book is not likely to persuade all its readers. But none will see these issues in the same way again.

Psychiatry Today (2001)

Read an excerpt (slightly altered) from essay in Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry (2001, 25th Anniversary Issue) "Against Psychotherapy and Biological Psychiatry"

Network Against Coercive Psychiatry

Network Against Coercive Psychiatry is an organization comprised of psychotherapists (including psychiatrists), survivors of psychiatric incarceration (commonly known as "mental patients"), scholars and other concerned citizens.