Psychiatric care in Denmark linked to “a severely increased risk of dying.”

University of Copenhagen researchers led a nationwide study in Denmark comparing individuals who died from suicide to matched controls between the years 1996 and 2009. Essentially, the researchers found that increasing levels of psychiatric care are associated with “a severely increased risk of dying.” They concluded, “The public health significance of this finding may be considerable.” You would think the press and public would be outraged. The study was totally ignored.

The researchers found that taking psychiatric medications during the previous year made a person 5.8 times more likely to have killed themselves. If a person had made contact with a psychiatric outpatient clinic, they were 8.2 times more likely to have killed themselves. Visiting a psychiatric emergency room was linked to a 27.9 times greater likelihood of committing suicide. And if someone had actually been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, they were 44.3 times more likely to have committed suicide within the year.
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Foreword to Dear Luise

“Mom, won’t you tell the world how we’re treated?” This was Luise’s last request to her mother, Dorrit Cato Christensen. She wanted her to describe the treatment she had received in the Danish mental health care system. With this book Dorrit fulfills her daughter’s wish.

What follows is a heartrending account of a life in our psychiatric care system, a life cut tragically short – the same fate suffered by many vulnerable people being treated for mental health problems. Every year more at-risk psychiatric patients end up like Luise – we know that this population’s lifespan averages 15 to 20 years less than others in their age group. This is a clear sign that we have to change the way we treat psychiatric patients.

We must improve conditions by offering quality time, attentiveness, compassion, evenhandedness and respect to every patient, so we can design the best treatment solution for each person. We need to talk openly about mental health issues and strengthen our networks of patients, families and friends. To this end I have set up a virtual meeting place, the website, now consulted by a growing population in Denmark. In 2009 I took the initiative to found an association called Det Sociale Netværk af 2009 (The Social Network of 2009), bringing together a wide range of national voluntary mental health organizations in a joint effort to improve conditions in Denmark for the mentally ill and their relatives. The organization of which Dorrit Cato Christensen is president, Død i Psykiatrien (Death in Psychiatric Treatment), is now part of our network.

I come in contact with many people who have been, or currently are, admitted to a psychiatric ward. Most have inside experience of various facilities and all agree that there are significant differences in approach from one institution to the next. A young girl said to me: “As soon as you set foot in the ward you know what kind of hospital stay you’re in for. Whether the mind-set is caring and responsive, or whether the place is ruled by coercion, constant evaluation and a staff that ignores you.”

We should not, in all conscience, allow sub-standard treatment in a country like Denmark, yet it happens all the time. I have often heard patients say: “You must be strong to be psychologically vulnerable.” When studies show that psychiatric caregivers harbor more negative expectations and prejudices about the mentally vulnerable than the general population, it means there is a problem inherent in our mental health care system. This is exacerbated by a dreadful lack of resources in psychiatric treatment wards.

The most important thing to remember is that first and foremost we are all human beings. We must not forget this for one second, before any incapacity or vulnerability is analyzed, defined and written down. This is why it is so important to see behind the facade of a diagnosis. A diagnosis is like an overcoat – the real person is found underneath it. This is one part of her daughter’s life story that Dorrit describes so movingly for us – her personhood, her humor, her compassion and her zest for life.

When I meet people who support The Social Network, who form networks on our website Psykiskså, or participate in our regular Sunday get-togethers, it strikes me how similar we humans really are and how much we have in common. There is basically no real difference between you and me and a person who happens to have been given a psychiatric diagnosis. It is not a question of these people being completely different, but more that sometimes they may experience so much inner noise that they are thrown off-balance and become vulnerable.

The most important thing we can do for psychiatric patients is not to keep them isolated. Loneliness is their worst enemy. And it is crucial that we nurture hope, that we hope and believe we can find the best in each other, and that we make room for the individual. Hope is the vital life-giving elixir for the soul, mind and body – to be able to sense that the people around you believe in you, that you are valued, that you are needed. We become whole when others believe in us. And we’re most likely to find this when we feel the solidarity of good fellowship.

I would like to thank Dorrit Cato Christensen for her work with mental health patients and their families and friends, and for the very important work she is doing as president of the association Død i Psykiatrien. Her book is a poignant contribution to the debate, in which she openly and candidly tells the story of her daughter’s sad fate and gives us a glimpse of our mental health care system groping for the right treatment. Luise’s hospital records show that she told her caregivers she felt she could not tolerate the drug treatment they prescribed and wanted them to phase it out. But instead of less medication, she got more. This turned out to be fatal.

Many patients and relatives will already be familiar with the situations and events Dorrit portrays here. Many will see their own lives reflected in this story and perhaps even find the energy to fight for a dignified life. I also hope that mental health practitioners will read the book, then stop and think carefully about how they can deepen their professional skills through respect for the individual. We can be certain of one thing – pills are not and never will be enough. We must constantly listen to our patients and think carefully about whether we are giving the right medicine to the right person. The “medicine” that always works for the psychologically vulnerable is to approach them with compassion, nurturing, trust and calmness.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Danish Prime Minister 1993-2001
Member of European Parliament 2004-2009

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Foreword to AsEverWas

Estranged from his parents at an early age, Hammond made up for the loss by exerting his sense of adventure, coupled with an uncanny ability to socialize positively with just about everyone he met. Consequently, where others might have faltered, he moved from scene to scene – first on the West Coast, later in Europe and Morocco – almost magically protected by his innate bonhomie and easygoing lifestyle, while having extraordinary and often hilarious adventures.

We first met in San Francisco in the late 1960s when the Haight-Ashbury was the Mecca of the American youth diaspora; draft dodgers were leaving for Europe, and particularly England. Though Hammond was clever enough to dodge the draft without having to emigrate, the cost of freedom had become too expensive, and he split the US with his wife Wendy and headed east. As Hammond and Wendy passed through London we met again, this time in the squats of Prince of Wales Road, a half-derelict inner-city zone where all you needed to steal a house was a jimmy and a lookout.

All sorts of happenings and counterculture events were flowing in a continuous stream. The underground press, arts labs, psychedelic nightclubs and sheer exuberant street life, coupled with the international exchange of ideas and experiences, made the cities of Western Europe a cultural melting pot. For a life-artist like Hammond this was evidently more than just fun.

Adept at writing, staging spontaneous events and ingesting neuroactive substances, Hammond swam through the culture like a salmon in familiar ocean currents. He could have become a well-known poet or a masterly oil painter, a filmmaker or a travel guide. But the thing about generalists is you never know where they are going to pop up next. And through the whole of AsEverWas runs his laidback delivery, serious yet very funny, with an old-world politeness reminiscent of Alistair Cooke’s Letters from America (and unlike Mr. Cooke, Hammond doesn’t suffer from the impediment of a hungry ego).

The dramatis personae of AsEverWas include many figures, both well known and little known, too numerous to name. But to pick a few at random from a cast of hundreds, look out for poet Allen Ginsberg, author William Burroughs, singers Nico and Carmen McRae, streetwise Hube ‘The Cube’ Leslie, musician Pete Townshend, Digger Emmett Grogan, and TV presenter Kenneth Allsop. Or the cameos of actor Del Close, an unreformed happenings artist (who later wrecked my own piano in a Notting Hill church hall, but that’s for another time). Then there are the funny episodes. I can’t even remember laughing so much as I did at the surreal absurdity and nail-biting suspense of Hammond’s Moroccan adventure.

One other thing, this is a true story, all of it. And the fact that it stops at 1976 can mean only one thing: watch out for the sequel folks. Hammond has returned to his artistic roots and he’s riding high.

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, London, 2002

Therapist in the Wry

Michael Szilagyi

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Therapist in the Wry

Notes from the Crumbling Edge of Mental Health

A delightful peek into the mental health underworld! Michael Szilagyi mixes dark humor with an endearing compassion for humanity in his breakout publication. A must-read for clinicians, students, and anyone seeking to understand the inner workings of the mental health field. — Dr. Jennifer M. Durham, D. Min., LPCC-S, CTT, CTS

While psychotherapy is not recognized as a particularly amusing career choice, Therapist in the Wry delivers a hilarious blow-by-blow account of daily life as a counselor in a community mental health facility in Middle America.

After surviving his colorful half-Hungarian family and facing personal tragedies, gross injustices and many minor mishaps, Michael Szilagyi discovered he suffered from attention deficit disorder and other assorted ailments. But his most serious life-long affliction is dark humor syndrome, activated by almost any therapeutic incident, family occasion or domestic ordeal.

Pigeonholed as an underachiever through his school years, he proceeded to ace college and qualify as a licensed clinical counselor. Not being entirely normal himself, he had an intuitive feel for what his clients must be experiencing. From behind his nom de plume Szilagyi takes a fond swipe at everything – vacuous team leaders, incompetent administrators, eccentric co-workers, exotic family members, even his pet cats. The people he identifies most readily with are usually his patients – the isolated and lonely, the weird and the lovable, sometimes the violent and felonious.

By turns deadly serious and gently mocking, at times totally outraged, often laughing uncontrollably, the author brings home the absurd reality of working on the front line of America’s crisis-ridden mental health system.

Author Bio

Michael Szilagyi

Michael Szilagyi is a pen name invented to represent the train wreck of letters that appear in the author’s real name. In fact, many names and identifying materials in this book have been significantly changed in order to protect the innocent – and several of the guilty.

The man who isn’t really named Michael Szilagyi lives and works in a place that isn’t really named South Irontown in a part of the country that is near a body of water that may or may not be one of the Great Lakes. He is a psychotherapist, writer, musician and visual artist who lives with his wife and son at an undisclosed location.

The author is not related to his historical namesake from Hungarian history. That Michael Szilagyi was a medieval general and regent, a well-connected and powerful man whose daughter was the second wife of Vlad the Impaler. Szilagyi reigned over the Hungarian people with great distinction until he was overthrown, tortured and sawed in half by the Ottoman Empire in 1460.

News & Views

Anyone who has worked in non-profit mental health will love this book. The descriptions are vivid and at times wrenching. Szilagyi’s words paint images that I, as a therapist, have seen over and over. Those who have worked with the downtrodden or hope-lacking will find affirmation and hope throughout these pages. The end point – at which one arrives via light humor, gallows humor, Szilagyi’s vulnerability, and notes on the history of a profession – is a poignant reminder that all helpers are there to help those who come seeking help and that such connections are sacred and meaning-making for all involved.

As a mental health professional, I found reading Therapist in the Wry thoroughly affirming. Szilagyi’s writing communicates the experience of honoring those we serve while working in a challenging mental health system. Humor lightens the read as Szilagyi relays his own family stories, historical pieces of the profession, and aspects of this career choice, including education, research and funding concerns. His humanity is present as he describes the suffering and joy his clients experience in their healing process. I recommend this book for therapists, interns and anyone interested in the mental health field. It is both a realistic and hopeful read.

Szilagy’s sardonic portrayal of a flailing community mental health agency is sure to ring true for those who have ever been on the payroll of non-profit organizations. Szilagy uses a pleasant mix of dark humor and insightful observations in an attempt to make sense of the absurdities that are part of his everyday life as a counselor. But through all of the frustrations and downright scary stories, Szilagy is able to bring to light the real reason anyone would choose to work in the mental health field – and that this is a belief that we can be a positive influence on people who need it the most.


TitleTherapist in the Wry: Notes from the Crumbling Edge of Mental Health
SizeTrade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
List Prices$18.95
PublishedFebruary 5, 2015
BISACPsychology, Humor

When a Psychopath Falls in Love

Herbert Gold

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When a Psychopath Falls in Love

A novel

Herbert Gold’s new novel is a funny, sad romp through the San Francisco he has staked out as his primal territory, filled with flimflam artists, lost summers of love and, most of all, fathers on the run, looking for a little bit of mercy and poetic meaning to their lives. — Jerome Charyn, Author

The intriguing new story from prizewinning author Herbert Gold, his twentieth novel in more than six decades, takes us on a journey of lost souls seeking attachment, revenge and redemption at the edge of San Francisco Bay.

When impoverished court translator Dan Kasdan lets lawyer and con artist Ferd Conway suck him into a shady property deal in Haiti, he’s unprepared for the life-changing complications that follow. First, an unknown daughter has just turned up at Dan’s door in the Tenderloin, nineteen years after a forgotten encounter in the Summer of Love. She, her half-employed husband and their disabled baby son need his care, attention and cash. All this just as Dan’s swollen prostate is confronting him with his own mortality.

It’s bad enough when his cohort manipulates Dan into a love affair with Petal, a young woman his daughter’s age. But when Ferd starts pursuing Dan’s daughter as lover and would-be father figure, Ferd’s sleazy disloyalty changes Dan forever.

If a psychopath really can fall in love, it had better not be with the wrong person. That could lead to murder among old friends.


Reviewer comments on the author’s previous work:

In the course of an impressive career as a writer, Herbert Gold has demonstrated many gifts, among them his talent for making high drama of ordinary events, ordinary people. — Chicago Tribune Book World

Herbert Gold gives his stories a wry, bright air of wonder – he is a born storyteller. — New York Times

One of the most gifted writers in America. — Detroit News

Books by Herbert Gold

Author Bio

Herbert Gold

Herbert Gold was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1924 and raised in the suburb of Lakewood. After several of his poems were accepted by literary magazines, he moved to New York at age seventeen and studied philosophy at Columbia University. While there, he befriended many Beat Generation writers, including Anaïs Nin and Allen Ginsberg.

Gold won a Fulbright fellowship and moved to Paris, where he did graduate studies at the Sorbonne and worked on his first novel, Birth of a Hero, published in 1951. Since then Gold has written more than thirty books and received several awards, including the Sherwood Anderson Award for Fiction, the Commonwealth Club Gold Medal and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award. He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley and at Stanford, Cornell and Harvard.

Since 1960 he has lived in San Francisco.

News & Views

‘A contemporary stylist and moralist’ – 37 years later

Originally published in the Winter 1978 Ohioana Quarterly, Larry R. Smith’s biographical essay is wonderfully prescient of Herb’s recently published 20th novel, When a Psychopath Falls in Love.

Gold’s critics have sought to reveal his talent by referring to Graham Greene, the oral style of Jack Kerouac, “Henry Miller without the sexual posturing,” Sherwood Anderson, “a Whitman hipster combined with Jewish immigrant,” a social recorder and deliberate stylist comparable to Gustave Flaubert, and a John Donne of Cleveland, Ohio. While analogies are often more interesting than revealing, I would describe Gold as having Saul Bellow’s sincerity and skill without his heavy intentions, and as lacking the Yiddish cuteness of Bernard Malamud, but with his humor and heart. He is a chronicler of America’s life styles and motivations on a par with John Updike as a contemporary stylist and moralist.

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‘A deeply and darkly engaging tale…’

Paul Kleyman, Director of Ethnic Elders Newsbeat at New America Media, posted this review on Facebook:

When a Psychopath Falls in Love by Herbert Gold (Jorvik Press), despite its whimsical title, is a deeply and darkly engaging tale with characters that stay with me, their dilemma of humanity sticking in the craw, their sadness lingering like a case of low-grade indigestion grumbling way down in the urban condition.

What turns the pages to the end are the memorable, mostly well-meaning – sweet at times – people Gold has imagined in and around San Francisco’s Hall of Justice. Even Ferd, the scheming lawyer, has an endearing neediness. Will he survive? Will Dan’s good-guy moral sense – challenged at the start by his diagnosis of prostate cancer and his desire to leave something for his newly discovered daughter and severely disabled grandbaby – prevail in the brutal environs of San Francisco’s Tenderloin and South of Market districts?

As it happens, this reviewer knows these areas well, often passing the Hall of Justice, where I’ve just been summoned to appear for jury duty. I’ve even met a non-fictional character in Gold’s novel, the very real Jerry Barrish, noted bail bondsman and metal sculptor.

More than that is Gold’s rich facility for drawing readers into the foggy atmosphere and hazy personalities in this cool gray city of demented souls. There’s Amanda, the daughter, whose 60s-era mother hadn’t wanted to tell Dan she existed. Amanda with her developmentally disabled infant give new meaning to the loner granddad’s life. There’s Harvey, the taciturn homicide detective, and Petal, the hooker, who wants to set things right. And the knife that must be held low to inflict maximum harm.

The ending is deeply disturbing, which my glib journalistic self might call “No Country of Everyman.” And the unanswered questions around the sickening denouement are exactly what sustains and raises so many more about the seething undercurrent of deception and violence I sense on the No. 19 bus, passing by that forbidding gray block about which Lenny Bruce once said, “The only justice in the Hall of Justice is the justice you’ll find in the hall.”

I’d mentioned to friends that the book was released this spring coinciding with Gold’s 91st birthday. It’s his 20th novel and 32nd book. One friend surprised me by asking whether Gold, you know, “still has it.” Oh, yes. Just read When a Psychopath Falls in Love for a genuine and sustaining introduction to the gritty heart of San Francisco. I didn’t criticize my friend for this whiff of ageism, but in Gold’s case, age – his mature vision about murky human motivations – is clearly an asset.

The Hometown Boy Returns

Lakewood-Library-HerbOne of the heroes returning to his home town of Lakewood, Ohio, in May was Herbert Gold, whose 20th novel is just out (in hardback, paperback and eBook). That’s our hero Herb on the left, next to Gilgamesh of Uruk and Batman.

Check out the listing in the local library’s spring/summer program guide.

‘Elder Statesman of the Beat Generation’

San Francisco writer and author Herb Gold, deemed an “elder statesman of the Beat Generation,” turned 90 on March 9 and celebrated with his kids and grandkids.

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How I Failed to Meet Hemingway

A special essay in The Chronicle by Herbert Gold, January 2, 2011

In Havana, 1959, I was camped out at the Ambos Mundos Hotel, trying to write a film script based on my novel “The Man Who Was Not With It.” I had driven my beat-up, badly used Ford (transportation for the poverty-stricken recently divorced) to Key West and then flown to Cuba by Q Airlines (slogan: “Ten Minutes, Ten Dollars”).

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Nothing Ever Finished

Toward the end of this reflection on his own aging and what he calls “the encroaching inevitable,” Herbert Gold, a novelist who has turned out a book every few years for more than half a century, says that writers never stop writing, are “always on the lookout for the next book.”

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Ohio Reading Road Trip

[at age 17, Herb Gold] traveled to New York and went to a party given by an editor and attended only by other poets. That night, he met poet and author Anaïs Nin, who softly asked him to come with her to her houseboat in Hoboken. He agreed and followed her out of the party. “I was ready for whatever came next,” he remembers.

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Herbert Gold Interviews Vladimir Nabokov: The Art of Fiction No. 40

Paris Review No. 41, Summer-Fall 1967
Interview by Herbert Gold

From the interview:

Let me suggest that the very term “everyday reality” is utterly static since it presupposes a situation that is permanently observable, essentially objective, and universally known. I suspect you have invented that expert on “everyday reality.” Neither exists.

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When a Psychopath Falls in Love
A Novel
SizeTrade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
List Prices$18.95
PublishedFebruary 11, 2015
BISACLiterature, Psychological Fiction

How does an expert in
‘creative retirement’… retire?

When Jorvik Press author Ron Manheimer retired in 2009 as founding director of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, he thought he knew how to leap into the next chapter of life.

Heading up this lifelong learning, leadership and community service program at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, he had led countless weekend workshops for hundreds of people considering their next chapters.

He formulated his approach as Ten Keys to a Creative Retirement. One of the keys, “adaptive reuse,” advised pre-retirees to reflect on how they might extend their accumulated talents, knowledge and interests, and project them into new yet related activities. Ron borrows the term from the field of architecture where it refers to restoring an old building to house new functions, like turning an empty warehouse into an art museum or an outdated fire station into a restaurant.

As an example, Ron points to a former banker with a love of classical music who became the treasurer of the non-profit board of a civic orchestra.

But instead of following his own best repurposing advice, Ron headed elsewhere. “For a truly creative retirement, I decided I should try to come up with activities that would be unprecedented for me,” he says.

Not much of a gym guy, he found a personal trainer, developed an exercise program, lost 25 pounds and took up hiking. Apprehensive about death, he became a hospice home visitor. A longtime grant seeker, he joined the board of a foundation that funds other people’s projects.

“I loved these new ventures but then I started running out of inspiration,” he says. “I still had lots of time on my hands and, though I was beginning to feel anxious, I didn’t want to fill up my time just to keep busy.”

Ron went back to his keys to a creative retirement and took another look at adaptive reuse. “I thought, how can I extend the things I’ve done for many years and make them fresh again?”

An author of several books and a raft of scholarly and popular articles, he came across a deferred book project. “Clearing out some old computer files, I discovered the chapters I had put aside. Work and family demands had halted any progress on the book several years earlier.

“But I felt the spark of intellectual excitement still alive in those pages. It was about how philosophers portray their own life experiences and realize their most noteworthy ideas.

“I loved tracing how thinkers who have had such an important impact on world history described their own life-changing experiences. What if I could put myself into the mind of a Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Simone de Beauvoir, or someone I admired as both philosopher and social activist, Mahatma Gandhi? Where could that take me and take my readers? Maybe I could hitch my midlife transition to their self-transformation.”

Find out for yourself how the project turned out. Buy Mirrors of the Mind here, or order it from your favorite bookstore.

Ron Manheimer lives in Asheville, NC and is available to talk about his new book and the creative retirement process that led him to write it.

Black Crusader

Robert Carl Cohen

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Black Crusader

A Biography of
Robert Franklin Williams

Black Crusader is the story of how a young man from a small North Carolina town who dreamed of becoming a poet was transformed into an archenemy of the US power structure. At school and in college, in the US Army and Marines and in his home town in the 1950s, Robert Franklin Williams witnessed the scourge of segregation, exploitation, beatings and even murder.

He soon decided to apply his combat training, intelligence, organizational skills and fearlessness to take a stand against the race hatred he saw around him. Williams became the first black liberation militant to advocate armed self-defense. But in 1961 an explosion of government-supported racist violence – and a trumped-up kidnapping charge – forced him to flee the country and seek refuge and support among America’s Cold War adversaries, in Cuba, the People’s Republic of China and finally in newly independent Tanzania.

Included in these pages are historic events such as Williams’ talks with Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong, details of the infighting in the Cuban Communist Party, his meeting with Che Guevara, and his impressions of life in China during the first years of the Cultural Revolution.

This biography is based on five weeks of interviews by filmmaker and author Robert Carl Cohen conducted in Dar-es-Salaam in the tumultuous summer of 1968. Detailing the first 44 years of Williams’ life, as told in his own words, it is the story of an enigmatic and charismatic natural-born leader who was pursued in vain for almost a decade by the FBI and CIA.

Williams’ talent for leadership extended to book writing, newspaper editing and managing Radio Free Dixie from exile. Though his message was totally suppressed by the US mainstream media, he was a friend of revolutionary leaders, inspired a generation of civil rights activists in the US, and was admired by millions around the world.

Black Crusader concludes with the bizarre circumstances of Williams’ return to the US in 1969, after which all state and federal charges against him were quietly dropped without explanation. This was followed by the mysterious suppression by mainstream publishers of the first two versions of this book, now republished in full in this new illustrated edition.

Author Bio

Robert Carl Cohen

Robert Carl Cohen has a professional career spanning almost 60 years as a filmmaker, foreign correspondent, public lecturer and author. Born in Philadelphia in 1930, he moved with his parents to Los Angeles in 1939, earning his BA in Art and MA in Motion Pictures at UCLA.

His master’s thesis film, a 10-minute documentary depicting the genetic-environmental basis for human skin color differences, later became the basis for his first book, The Color of Man. Published by Random House in 1971 and Bantam in 1973, it was adopted as a text by the California State Department of Education. It remains the only popular science book on the subject.

As a US Army conscript, Bob served as a cameraman at Ft. Monmouth NJ and at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Paris. After military service he studied for a Doctorate in Social Psychology at the Sorbonne. While an observer at the Sixth World Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957, he was hired by NBC-TV to accompany and film a group of young Americans visiting China in defiance of the State Department’s travel ban.

Returning home, he began a series of public film-lectures about China, and then produced Inside Red China, a nationally syndicated TV special for which he received a letter of commendation from the office of Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles in 1961.

In addition to being the first US journalist to film in China, the popularity of his film lectures led to his being the first American permitted by East German authorities to film there in 1959. And in 1963-64 he became the first American to receive both US State Department and Cuban Foreign Ministry authorization to film in Cuba.

Back in Los Angeles in 1967, he produced Mondo Hollywood, a two-hour color documentary, banned by the French Government in 1968 as “a danger to mental health.” Having become a psychedelic cult classic a half-century after it was made, Mondo Hollywood was honored by a special screening as part of the American Film Institute’s 2014 Festival.

The father of daughters Dianna and Julia, he and his wife Kim have lived in Boulder, Colorado since 1993, where he continues to write, give public lectures and produce documentaries. His videos are viewable at and also at Snagfilms, Hulu-Plus, YouTube and Amazon.

News & Views

Video interview of Robert Franklin Williams, advocate of armed self-defense in the Civil Rights Movement, hunted by the FBI since fleeing Monroe, North Carolina in 1961, after years in exile in Cuba and China, is interviewed by Robert Carl Cohen in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in 1968.

Click to see video

American Film Institute honors Bob Cohen’s Mondo Hollywood

Black Crusader author discusses his cult classic 1967 psychedelic documentary with Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Inherent Vice

Click to view video


TitleBlack Crusader: A Biography of Robert Franklin Williams
SizeTrade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
List Prices$22.50; UK £16.25; EU €22.20
PublishedFebruary 4, 2015 (3rd edition)
FeaturesColor photos and illustrations
BISACBlack History, Civil Rights

Death in Psychiatry – Dorrit Cato, author of “Dear Luise”

“For the first time ever the Danish mental health system has been found guilty of causing the death of one of its patients,’ writes Dorrit Cato Christensen, author of Dear Luise. “This is important news. One hopes that far more psychiatric healthcare providers will be found guilty of causing death with their dangerous treatment. The psychiatric ward where this patient was treated I know very well. My daughter Luise died there from overmedication.

“After the verdict the Clinic Manager claimed that they have learned from the sad story so treatment will be safer, with less medication. I don’t believe them at all,” says Dorrit. “They said exactly the same eight years ago when my beloved Luise died in their care. In our organization Death in Psychiatric Care we see how bad psychiatric treatment really is. People contact us constantly to tell us how a beloved relative who sought psychiatric help suddenly ends up as a dangerously ill zombie. Many report that a relative has died from overmedication.”

Translation of a January 9, 2014 article in Politiken, a leading Copenhagen-based daily newspaper, covering the ruling on Adel’s suicide:

Gross medical negligence led to suicide

Psychiatric Hospital in Amager harshly criticized for overmedicating 26-year-old man. Clinical Manager claims that incidents involving medicine in large doses have led to ‘cultural change’ in psychiatric treatment.


MANIC DEPRESSIVE. His brother says psychotropic drugs changed Adel from a vigorous 26-year-old to looking like “a 90-year-old patient in a hospice.” – Photo: PRIVATE PHOTO


A 26 -year-old psychiatric patient who committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a subway train in June 2011 had been so heavily medicated at the Psychiatric Center in Amager that the side effects were ‘unbearable.’

After two years of deliberations, the Patient Safety Commission has severely criticized the psychiatric hospital for providing treatment to the patient, Adel Saidane, which ‘did not meet generally accepted professional standards.’

Upheld all complaints

‘My older brother suffered so many side effects that were so unbearable that any human being might commit suicide in that situation.’ said the patient’s brother, Hafed Amin Saidane , who brought the case before the Patient Safety Commission.

The report criticized the Psychiatric Center on five specific points. The 26-year-old was overdosed with medication. The doctors did not given any reason for the high doses, as they should have. They failed to take proper care of the patient and were not sufficiently focused on side effects. The hospital ward should have provided Adel Saidane with an individual caretaker so he could not leave the center unaccompanied.

‘All our complaints have been upheld. We were in no doubt that he committed suicide because of the medication’s side effects,’ says Hafed Saidane.

His brother was bipolar but had not been hospitalized for two and a half years. Then in May 2011 he felt distressed and checked himself into the hospital. Over the next four weeks he was treated with several antipsychotics combined with sedatives in amounts that, in his brother’s words, changed him from a vigorous 26-year-old to looking like ‘a 90-year-old patient in a hospice.’

The case has consequences

At Copenhagen Metro Mental Health Services they’re deeply apologetic over the incident. ‘I take this very personally. We are so sorry and my heart goes out to the relatives. It’s a terrible thing and I feel awful about it,’ says Inger Merete Terp, Clinical Manager at Amager Psychiatric Center.

The case is an example of the wide-ranging practice of overmedicating psychiatric patients, which was prevalent in the Copenhagen area until mid-2012, when Politiken began covering the situation.

Overmedication, among other things, led to the dismissal of a Clinical Manager in Glostrup and a reprimand to a deputy director of Copenhagen Metro Mental Health, prompting the adoption of an action plan mandating close monitoring of medication to prevent overdoses.

Subsequently the proportion of patients treated with heavy doses of the antipsychotic Zyprexa was reduced from almost 25 percent to about 5 percent.

‘I think we’ve got a good grip on it and we’ve now ensured that action can be taken on the same day if any mental health center starts prescribing excessive doses,’ says Svend Hartling , vice president of Metro Mental Health.

He describes the Amager incident as ‘highly irregular’ and will now ask the executive board of Metro Mental Health whether enough has been done to prevent this from happening again.

Paradigm shift

The Patient Safety Commission’s report is also being sent to the National Board of Health and to chief medical officers in Copenhagen, who will address the issues at a meeting next week.

‘We are discussing whether there should be consequences, so other patients are not put at risk,’ said National Health Board oversight manager Anne Mette Dons. She is generally satisfied that the Metro region has taken effective action against overmedication. ‘There really a has been a paradigm shift.’

Clinic Manager Inger Merete Terp says that the overmedication case has resulted in a ‘culture change.’

‘We need to focus not only on medication but also on patients’ daily lives. We must look at patients’ daily life, see that they can wash dishes or take a walk and do things that contribute to quality of life,’ she says.

The Commission’s ruling will now be taken up with doctors at Amager Psychiatric Center and with other mental health center managers in the Metro Area.

Sacred Mushroom/ Holy Grail

Terry Atkinson

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Sacred Mushroom/ Holy Grail

The Long-lost Origin of Our Most Intriguing Legend

Terry Atkinson’s study presents a fresh and startling theory about the true origin of one of our most enduring legends – the quest for the Holy Grail. Many authorities agree that the core theme of this seductive story, through all its metaphoric mutations over the centuries, is humanity’s unrelenting desire for spiritual transcendence – for a state of heightened consciousness.

Our modern concept of the Grail dates from the 15th Century story of the chalice from Christ’s Last Supper, brought to the British Isles and then buried or somehow lost, and the subsequent holy mission of King Arthur’s knights to retrieve the icon. But in traditional cultures of past millennia, where the legend originates, the goal of this sacred quest was a religious encounter of a different order. Our ancestors sought to reveal the presence of the divine being within through a mind-expanding experience rooted in nature.

Every version of the Grail legend features near-impenetrable coded references to its entheogenic origins – the ritual use of naturally occurring psychedelics to reach transcendence. Approaching the subject like a detective solving an ancient mystery, the author employs textual forensics to explain for the first time the meaning behind several aspects of the story that have puzzled scholars for centuries.

Unlike such works as Holy Blood, Holy Grail (whose theory was used as the basis of The Da Vinci Code), Atkinson’s book delves deeply into Grail literature from the 12th Century, particularly the very earliest written work, Chrétien de Troyes’ Parsifal. Launching a detailed investigation of the legend’s intriguing fish symbolism and examining the key role of shamanism in Celtic and other ancient cultures, the author also uses clues drawn from Grail scholar Jessie Weston’s From Ritual to Romance, the classic study that inspired T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.

The Grail is more real than most recent explicators and fabricators imagine, but in a very different way from that assumed by the old-school searchers. The author’s astonishing conclusion is that the hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria is the long-lost secret origin of the legend.

Author Bio

Terry Atkinson

Terry Atkinson has had a long career as a journalist, columnist and editor. For the Los Angeles Times he created and edited the “Home Tech” section and wrote several columns including “L.A. Beat” and “Sound and Vision.” For the L.A. Times Syndicate he wrote the weekly feature “Sound Advice.” His work has also appeared in other publications, including Rolling Stone and American Film. Atkinson’s wide range of interests led to the discoveries revealed in Sacred Mushroom/Holy Grail: The Long-lost Origin of Our Most Intriguing Legend. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

News & Views

Comitatus review

“… As an artifact of modern medievalism, Sacred Mushroom/Holy Grail may actually tell us a great deal about how that legend has been modified and imported into modern cultural imagination.”


Taking the Piss: Did Shamans Really Drink Reindeer Urine?

Anyone who has studied shamanism in any detail will have heard statements to the effect that shamans imbibed the potent Fly Agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) in a rather odd, idiosyncratic manner: they would collect the urine of reindeer that had eaten the mushroom and become intoxicated as a result, and drink this urine in order to enter altered states of consciousness.

But is it true?


TitleSacred Mushroom/Holy Grail: The Long-lost Origin of Our Most Intriguing Legend.
SizeTrade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
List Prices$15.95; UK £10.95; EU €15.95
PublishedNovember 4, 2013
FeaturesBlack & White; 28 illustrations
BISACSocial Sciences, Folklore & Mythology Studies