steven morgan

steven morgan.png


intro’d to Steven via Will Halls outside mental health

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Steven Morgan (steven) peer specialist.. exec direct of the peer run agency another way in vermont.. soteria vermont..

a treatment plan shouldn’t suggest tightening the screws in the cultural machinery that crushed your soul in the first place..t

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i stopped viewing hard times as existential crises and started diagnosing them as medical problems.. at first it was relieving.. because it at least pretended to explain what was going on..

i even started manifesting behaviors just because they were part of the diagnosis, as if i were learning to be ill..t

i went thru a period of time where i was very bad off. i subscribed to the ‘mental illness’ worldview ..t.. and was in and out of hospitals..

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it’s amazing that we think hospitals are places of healing, because it’s just the opposite.. you’re not met w the human connection we need.. in fact, a lot of mental health profession is designed to stay disconnected from you, and to see you as an object..  in a crisis, what i need more than anything is a human being who cares about me, who will sit and be there with me for hours on end. tha tis totally unavailable in a hospital..

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it’s the responsiblity of the society, culture, and family to provide an environment that brings out people’s strengths, whatever they may be

redefine nclb ness.. maté basic needs.. via 2 convos

if we see people who are breaking down as indicators of the larger whole that is in trouble, we can start to ask ‘how can we allow everyone to use their voice?’..t.. but i don’t see that .. i see our society becoming more rigid, more insistent that everyone meet capitalistic ideals..  if someone hates their job, we don’t say ‘quit your job’ .. we say ‘go back to work and take your prozac so you won’t know the diff’..t

mech to listen to all the voices

ie: hlb via 2 convos

i was attracted to the idea of letting go of expectations.. we’re taught to have ambitions and goals to achieve happiness and success. the paradox is that when you let go of expectations.. you get more in touch w your nature..t

langer outcome law

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when you learn how to just be, you end up getting what you really need but didn’t know you needed.

i analyzed my dreams during the daytime and at night they would send me new messages in response..  the back and forth.. propelled me towards a more integrated state..  i discovered an incredible healing potential that is w/in us..  in a way, my dreams acted on what meds had intended to resolve, but much more profoundly: they healed the roots, not just trimmed the branches..

healing (roots of)

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symbols and myth express something that we can’t describe in language. it’s definitely not ‘evidence based practice’

beyond words law

will: the most important things in life are heart-based practices, not evidence based practices,. i learned that from a psych text called the little prince..t

see with heart..

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i’ve learned that meditation is not about a blissful state or even a clear state, but about coming closer to what already is: exploring, acknowledging, and being with it, as opposed to just moving around it..


from 2015


3 min – how do we take our assumptions and leave them at the door

5 min – what i was looking for was someone to be with me in that

7 min – soteria projects.. house.. w people in it.. can go to whenever in crisis.. no judgment.. whole philosophy: being with people..

Soteria is a community service that provides a space for people experiencing mental distress or crisis. Based on a recovery model, common elements of the Soteria approach include primarily non-medical staffing; preserving resident’s personal power, social networks, and communal responsibilities; finding meaning in the subjective experience of psychosis by “being with” clients; and no or minimal use of antipsychotic medication (with any medication taken from a position of choice and without coercion

soteria ness

be you house. .ness.. spaces of permission with nothing to prove.. nclb ness

never nothing going on

Voyce Henrix et al

9 min – the power of having someone witness you where you actually felt seen at your core..t

feeling like the way that you’re experiencing the world is understood.. extremely powerful.. experiences that make you feel like you are alone

invited to exist ness.. see with heart..

10 min – i didn’t think anyone had those kinds of thoughts.. some of those thoughts/experiences were really scary.. so to have someone bear witness to that.. to be present with it and to not be afraid of that.. that shit was really powerful in my life.. it made me feel like i was part of the human tribe again.. and that i had an entry point back into the human community..t that’s what we can offer each other.. if we can sit and be with somebody..

that’s equity.. everyone getting a go.. a new/fresh go.. everyday..

ie:2 convos 3 w/self 30 w/ the day..

nationality: human

11 min – i don’t know if you can get your ego out of the way.. i think getting your assumptions out of the way is the hardest part..t

supposed to’s .. what screws us up most.. pic in head of how it’s supposed to be..

12 min – does it (intentional peer support) work..? good question.. you know what i think ultimately works.. is good people w good hearts..

14 min – goal of peer support should be about social change.. hard to measure that.. and harder for orgs to want to do structural social change

20 min – in school.. not even just the basics of relationships..


in 2014 – mad in america




had to learn how to not be in touch with those feelings.. too much of a risk.. to be that type of person.. i could be hurt if i was that person

1 min – (first med visit) – starting talking about when i was 12.. cut me off.. cut to chase.. asking about symptoms now.. first time my story became irrelevant

2 min – i took on this id.. that i’m chronically/mentally ill.. reinforced by all lit i read.. by movies i saw.. by everything.. i was scared to have experiences again.. so saw myself as a diagnosis and act as if i was ill and was going to be ill for rest of my life..

3 min – taking all these meds.. i felt tortured.. that’s the best way to say it.. i was reading hospital noted: steven curled up in a ball.. paranoid people are watching him.. people were watching me and i was curled up in a ball.. and i got no help.. ended up in a lot worse shape than i was when i’d gone in there

ended up seeing a therapist.. we started doing a lot of dream analysis.. looking at things that had been neglected.. i think what happened.. my voice started to come out.. then moved to vermont and met some radicals.. they had a story.. and they believed their story explained who they were

5 min – then met someone in same circumstance.. no longer taking meds.. first time i’d ever met someone that said that.. that voice has been so oppressed in our neurological brain = you society..

7 min – so then.. felt bettered.. and wondered.. what happened to my mental illness.. so started to study.. snuck into dartmoth and downloaded articles.. not only was there not evidence to support messages i had been told.. i started to be in shock.. messages i had even promoted.. wasn’t supported.. and most studies were funded by pharma.. also finding.. all these alternatives.. wait.. people get better.. if it was a brain problem.. how is it some are getting better..

9 min – then i came across all this stuff w trauma.. everyone on these meds had trauma in their lives..

roots of healing..

11 min – i discovered all this.. and i got pissed

12 min – got scholarship to conference.. they took it away when they found out mentally ill.. that got me into advocacy..

got involved in trying to create alt spaces.. where stories would be valued.. wouldn’t be treated as animals.. started working on soteria sites


from 2012 – soteria



if you start to really ask the question.. what are we all doing here.. you have to start looking at some of the more neglected corners of human existence.. t.. more intense things.. how societies operate and function.. prison.. war..

i have a drive to understand questions like that.. psychosis in some ways reps this phenom.. that people haven’t quite figured out collectively what to make of it.. and people have mistreated people experiencing such.. t.. but there still is a lot of question marks around it

krishnamurt measure law

i get weary of talking like this.. i don’t want to romanticize it or put it into a psych framework .. ie: end up places where person isn’t coming from at all

most important thing.. try to scrape away a lot of that stuff.. that’s why i have a hard time diving into: ‘what are we actually going to do’ .. we’re going to do what needs to be done.. we’re going to be there with people.. 

let’s do this firstfree art-ists..for (blank)’s sake

a nother way

meet people at another way.. follow paths.. figure out how to make things work in the moment.. not have pre conceived notions about what we need to do w people

as the day..ness

via 2 convos

the best people that do this kind of work have intellectual curiosities in many diff subjects..

hard to dictate what works..  you don’t want to corrupt it by having a lot of presumption.. the bottom line is.. we haven’t figured this out..

no train


oct 2017 – for mad in america

The difference between how many of us live today and how all people lived for eons is not a matter of natural or unnatural—there is no unnatural, as everything comes from nature, including television. The difference is that now we live surrounded by dead things. Take a look around: curtain, table, coffee cup, pen, computer, lights, bathroom, sink, clothes, air conditioning, whatever… all dead. We used to be surrounded by a living world. Not just us, but other animals and plants, which is why they are revolting.

So what does a theory of mind look like in a culture of dead things?

It begins with isolation: I think, therefore I am. I am a mind with a body, and operate as an independent entity in a world of other independent objects and subjects. I am a personality who relates to objects and subjects, not a relational confluence. You and I can relate, but only as separate entities.

Another example: a starving person with no money can be jailed if he walks into a grocery store and eats the abundant food on the shelf. A child can be punished for standing up in a boring class and walking into the forest for relief. An excited person can be locked in a cage for removing all their clothes because they want to feel air. A neighbor can be fined for drinking the river across invisible property boundaries because she is thirsty for real water.

Such actions are irrational only in context.

unlike dementia, or most other diseases, psychosis shows up in every culture we have looked at, past and present. A universal experience is not a disease. It is a trait.

an unusual mind against a frame of industrialized rationalism is not an illness. Sometimes it is that freedom we trade for modern sanity.

Calling the end result a disease, in any case, presumes no purpose, which fits neatly with the dualistic materialism worldview that thinks of organs, like the brain, as collections of parts that can break. Gone is the notion that a brain might have its own emergent self-intelligence, that different brain states may be its way of carefully evolving. Not compensating, which presumes a holistic state of rationalism as baseline, but literally pushing towards something new, independent of will.

if those amplified senses produced by psychoactive plants are similar to those involuntarily experienced, is it too far a leap to assume that whatever the cause, the ecological function of both is to see, hear, feel, know differently in order to grow intelligence?

no combination of senses knows the breadth of a being..But amplified senses get closer. Less sensory gating, less filtering correlates with more perception and creativity, and is a double-edged sword. A musician who pays close attention to sound will over time reshape their brain, open their gates, so they literally hear more of the world. For myself, enhanced sonic perception means I can wail a Hendrix solo (sort of), yet that same reduction in filters allows the sounds of airplanes flying twenty thousand feet overhead to enter consciousness. Find me wearing noise-cancelling headphones in the wilderness.

not yet scrambled ness

That is the trade-off of amplified senses. They cannot easily be honed to perceive more information in one instance and none in another. They are, as the Icarus Project rightly names, dangerous gifts. By focusing exclusively on the first half of that dichotomy, danger—so often flamed by our practice of exporting fear—we squander their gifting potential to open new angles of knowledge, shake loose paradigms of selfhood and culture, expose secrets, create power and meaning, perceive more reality and contribute to evolution.

Lest I be accused of romanticizing, .. Reason is how dominant culture desiccates meaning from a living world and replaces it with disinterested mathematics. Reason is why we curtail mind, designating parts as ill and waging war against their hosts. The results are in, and dismal. Perhaps a little more romance—the flirtation with potentiality—is just what the doctor needs to order.

My longing will always be to reconnect.

To break down old forms of being—to clear the way like mushrooms in a grassrange, we need new eyes, ears, tongues, hearts, microscopes and macroscopes.

Where will these be found?

 a nother way


find/follow Steven:

link facebook

on intentional support site:

Steven Morgan has worked in peer support services for the past decade.  He was originally trained as a Georgia Certified Peer Specialist and worked in traditional service agencies, where he became intimately familiar with the difficulties of practicing peer support within a medical model.  This led to an interest in developing alternative supports, so in Vermont he helped create a peer-run respite, was Executive Director for four years of a peer-run agency called Another Way, and finally became project developer for Soteria-Vermont.  Steven has provided many trainings in systems change at both a local and national level, and has served on several Boards of Directors for peer support organizations.

In 2013, he joined Intentional Peer Support as Operations Manager with a passion for creating *instruments of social change, a love of organizational development, and a belief in the transformative power of community.

*ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

On full moons, he enjoys writing, playing music, woodworking, and taking long long walks.  You can read more of Steven’s story in his article, The Wind Never Lies.

p 2

One day I came across text that specifically labeled “believing the wind is communicating with you” as a symptom of Bipolar Disorder..From then on, the world still spoke to me, but I stopped listening. When the wind would swarm me at too perfect a moment to be coincidental, I would remind myself, “The wind isn’t speaking to you. You have a mental illness that makes you believe otherwise.”..I began to lose trust in my intuition and the significance of my experiences, and the way I made meaning of the world suddenly became a suspect for deceit. Such is the effect of being diagnosed with an illness that presumes to know your mind better than you ever can. You resign your voice and become a doubter.

p 4

my emergence into a walking advertisement for the pharmaceutical companies came at the price of repressing internal conflicts. Indeed, no matter how much support and validation people offered, no matter how many times I reminded myself mine was a medical disease ‘like diabetes’ which required medical solutions, the pills never quit instilling within me their unlisted side effects of shame, unnaturalness, isolation, and dependency. It is simply impossible to forget you are crazy when you eat from five bottles of pills every day..I solemnly accepted that my mind would forever be prisoner to the punishment of my brain.

p 6

Then he happened upon exactly the right words, in exactly the right no-bullshit tone, with exactly the right conviction: “Steven, I too am a wild man.”

p 7

The more I gave attention to my dreams, the more they responded, and soon I was navigating symbols too multifaceted to be trivialized in words. The immediate effect of this experience was profoundly healing. For one, the messages directly opened up locks to expansion and elevation, but more significantly they became an umbilical cord back to God. While diagnosis had disconnected me from others and my own experiences, my dreams mended this separation by reconnecting me to humanity, the divine, Nature, and also to the inseparableness of the three.

p 8

He even told me once he loved me, and he meant it, a moment of naked humanity that single-handedly patched a tear in my heart.

hari addiciton law

To me, recovery meant that I could live a meaningful life with illness.

p 9

my mind sharpened and my heart opened. Both of these factors were double-edged swords. On the one hand I could think more clearly and feel a wider spectrum of aliveness. On the other hand my restored intellect would once again lead me to face the graveness in our world, and my increased sensitivities would once again produce dense emotions in response.

The first and most striking fact I unearthed was that a chemical imbalance had never been observed in a human brain.

p 11

I changed the question from Am I still Bipolar? to Who decides what is Bipolar and what is not?..I was amazed that by merely asking a different question, I encountered a hidden world of alternative perspectives. I dove into criticism of psychiatry—most notably into its history—and grew outraged at what I found. I came to realize that mental illness was a culturally-defined construct, prone to bias and judgment.

biological psychiatry had won the rights to define mental illness, in no small measure because it met the ideological needs and financial ambitions of pharmaceutical companies, who in turn funded many of its institutions, scientists, and research grants. The endless other vessels to understanding behavior—sociology, psychology, anthropology, mythology, spirituality, or just plain ol’ individual interpretation— had been overpowered

I started to wake up to a different reality, one in which I used terms like experiences instead of symptoms, trauma instead of disease, problems instead of illness, and neuroplasticity instead of chemical imbalance. I engaged in a process of re-authoring my life story once again, casting off the disease paradigm and shifting my self-conception from I have Bipolar to I am fully human.

p 13

Each day, my story grows and changes in unpredictable ways, but one thing has become clear in my understanding: I am not nor have I ever been mentally ill. Yes, at certain times I fit all the criteria for Bipolar II in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual, but the conclusions of a small group of academics who create taxonomies of human behavior hardly constitute my truth, thus I grant them no authority. Instead, I perceive my experiences as a complex manifestation of intrinsic character, society and culture, relationships, physical health, biological processes, past experiences, collective energies, and forces beyond my understanding, and each varies in degree depending on the situation. But none of my experiences are ill.

p 14

It is the Great Mystery, and I feel utterly okay not having figured it out.

for what a liberation it is to know that—just like you—I am plainly human: irreducible to theoretical constructs, unfathomable in my fullness, aching and celebrating with pain and love, moving in all directions at once, complex and stacked, an imperfect being and a sliver of God’s perfection.

on crazywise site:


mental health

not normal

crazywise (doc) – (Gabor Maté –maté basic needs lawWill Hall, Phil Borges et al)


hari rat park law via ..

a nother way

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]