x home   x
x courses    
x conferences    
x archive/big issues    
x comment    
x books - new & used    
x members forum    
x contact us    
x advertise your jobs, courses & conferences    

New and second-hand psychology psychiatry and mental health books...

Get email news updates at the members forum

a colleague
about this article



Schizophrenia psychologist launches 'coming off' psychiatric drugs website

January 16, 2008
by Adam James

A psychologist once diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia has helped launch a website advising people how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

May was given the schizophrenia diagnosis when, aged 18, he lived in a "day-dream fantasy world" and thought he was a spy. Rufus May said his psychiatrist told him he would have to take neuroleptic medication for the rest of his life.

But May - against medical advice - later successfully withdrew from all his medication. He went on to qualify as a clinical psychologist and, aged 38, has since become a key voice promoting a non-medical recovery approach to
mental health.

May, who refutes the validity of the schizophrenia diagnosis, fears psychiatry often confuses the withdrawal effects of medication with symptoms of an underlying mental illness.

He has now helped set up, a website providing information on different psychiatric medications, including neuroleptics, antidepressants, Lithium and benzodiazepines. The site - created with input from May's psychiatrist colleagues - details how the drugs interact with the brain, side effects, withdrawal effects and suggested drug dosage rates when trying to come off the drugs.

Before withdrawing, the website recommends people developing alternative ways to deal with "difficult mind states?, sourcing suitable networks of support, and working collaboratively with their psychiatrists.

?It is important to prepare well before starting a reduction process,? states the website.

Speaking to, May said: "The website is about trying to give people safe and succinct advice.

"We know that people are trying to come off psychiatric medication. With the information on the site they are more likely to do it in a safe way.

"Although I think some people might see the site as encouraging people to stop taking their medication, this not the case."

The idea for evolved from discussions among members of a weekly 'Coming Off Psychiatric Medication' support group in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, which May co-runs. Some psychiatric drugs, particularly neuroleptics, have disabling side effects, patients say. includes accounts written by people who have withdrawn from psychiatric medication.

May, who experienced compulsory treatment when in a London psychiatric hospital, came off his antipsychotics without professional help and managed to see through the surges of mania and restlessness which accompanied his withdrawal.

He used his friends, and those he met at community centres and churches, to rediscover his social skills and confidence.

After a number of casual jobs, May embarked on a psychology degree and went on to train as a clinical psychologist at the University of East London. He now works with Bradford District Care Trust's assertive outreach team,

Research by the mental health charity Mind has previously detailed methods used by people when stopping psychiatric drugs.

Read also:
August 8, 2007: Third of patients have no information on side effects of psychiatric medication - findings reported in review of of adult community mental health services in England
Mental health comment
June 6, 2005: Our acute problem - To alleviate the culture of violence on inpatient psychiatric wards exposed by a Healthcare Commission audit, psychologists should have more of a role in care, argues Rufus May. There should also be more service user "consultants" helping manage wards and training of staff. But above all, says May, we need more non-medical residential alternatives to hospital care.
Mental health comment
Feb 7, 2005: Compassion not compulsion - psychiatric treatment by force amounts to state-sponsored violence, says Rufus May.
Sept 23, 2000: Going undercover - When Rufus May was a teenager he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and told he would have to take medication for the rest of his life. He since came off all medication and is now a clinical psychologist with a message, writes Adam James

See also: Psychiatric medication


Six months...and nearly off

Comment from: Anne Brocklesby, writer
Date: March 5, 2008

I have had a look at the coming off psychiatric medication website and find it very informative, and helpful, and something which has been needed for sometime.

The problem for those of us who have been on psychiatric medication is that we are often given no choices as to treatment. We are given medication. Only later we find out about other treatments, and press to obtain eg psychological therapies and counselling.

We also learn more about the need to look after our mental health, and gradually can develop other ways of coping and changing our lives for the better.

We need this information about coming off psychiatric drugs. It is vital. The same as Rufus May, I was told that I would be on medication for the rest of my life. But it just is not necessary.

With the help of my GP I am now, after 6 months, nearly off the medication and am following a gradual withdrawal and reduction process which is working fine.

We need more information about this possibility. We need to know that, in fact, we can improve our mentalhealth through following various therapies or adopting new ways of relaxing like yoga or tai chi, or meditation, or finding out how to cope with our emotions. So mentalhealth is a process, and our need for medication does not need to be for life.

I have already written three books for the mental health publisher Chipmunka Publishing about the mental health field.

I will soon be starting to write a fourth book which is about overcoming the effects of psychiatric medication. In other words, how to learn to move on in life.


May's an inspiration

From: Kellie Hurley, social work student, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
Date: August 27, 2009

I believe Dr May is an inspiration. I am currently working on a thesis for honours regarding a psychosocial approach to assist people who hear voices and would appreciate any contacts or information regarding this. This could mean failed attempts of recovery from a biomedical model,successful recoveries from a psychosocial approach or vice versa.

I do not have much experience in mental health or with people that hear voices but I have become aware of the serious injustice and I endeavour to work with others to bring this injustice to the fore.

Add your comments
What do you think? Email your comments on the above
article to the editor using the form below. Selected comments will be displayed.

First name:
Last name:
Current position:
Place of work:
E-mail address:
Story commenting upon: (type in article headline)
Comments: (you may find it easier to copy and paste from a word file)

© 2001-7  Psychminded Limited. All rights reserved

a colleague
about this article





Nottingham Trent University courses

Receive job and news updates by email

April 9, 2008: This tide's already changed - The recovery approach in mental health is not new say Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker.
Feb 16, 2011: Crisis of masculinity? Time for psychologists to study men- Martin Seager explains why in a society where almost all prisoners are men psychologists should focus more on male psychology.

Oct 9, 2008: Cognitive behavioural therapy; a Labour quick fix
- CBT simplifies what distress is, argues Dorothy Rowe

March 20, 2008: 'Recovery' approach in mental health is idea 'whose time has come' - charity bids to present principles behind ?empowering? philosophy of care

Oct 31, 2007: Getting personal - Stop the psychological therapy "brand warfare" argues Martin Seager

Do you need a conference or events photographer?