Alternis Insania & The Stigma of Mental Unwellness


Among the most commonly posted name-calling among social, cultural, and political factions seen on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Pathological Liar
  • Sociopath
  • Anti-Social.
  • Predator
  • Deranged
  • OCD
  • Mentally Unstable
  • Schitzo
  • Narcissistic
  • Off his/her meds

I don’t see that anyone is spared from what I’m calling the language of Alternis Insania  which is Latin for the Dialect of Derangement. Bill and Hillary Clinton, along with President Trump are  pathological liars. Nancy Pelosi is certifiably insane.. Chuck Schumer. Ruth Ginsburg. Richard Nixon. Abraham Lincoln? Yes.

Seriously, I can’t think of one outspoken leader on either side of the fence who has not been dismissed  as pathological.  And it doesn’t help when pop-psychologists pipe in with their own two cents, invariably with the requisite disclaimer:  I haven’t assessed …… so I can’t diagnose, but from what i can see ______.   

Participating in this  verbal bomb throwing  might result in a feeling of smugness and justification  simply posting derangement disorder memes in the name of activism and advocacy.

But here’s the problem.  We’ve got ourselves a serious mental health crisis throughout our country:  Increased violence, opioid, alcohol, and other drug addiction, homelessness, and the rate of completed suicide.

We have veterans returning from battle affected by Post-Traumatic Stress, depression, and anxiety.  The loosely estimated average rate of completed suicide by veterans is 22 per day.

And fearing the unfortunate reality that in our culture, mental unwellness is equated with weakness of character, there is little motivation for individuals, soldiers, sailors,and veterans to seek help.  It’s a situation that is worsened by alternis insania  that comes from our leaders and perpetuated by the media.

It demeans the rest of us who have actually struggled with genuine mental unwellness at several points in our lives and have been helped with therapy.

How easy is it to cut and paste from the comfort of the recliner and believe we are fighting for the right while dismissing the “enemy” as mentally disturbed or pathological. Insulting the other side with mental derangement name calling shows ignorance, laziness, and intolerance of an opposing view.

Time to Shift

How about if we dispense with the language of Alternis Insania.  How about if we engage less in mindless posting to our walls and more in purposeful action right outside our doors?

Wisdom of the Ancients

Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the ONE. The ONE is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.   Heraclitus


Which of the one hundred are you?

  • One of the Ten?
    • Your purpose is vague.
  • One of the Eighty?
    • You are a victim.
    • You walk in a march and carry a sign.
    • You leave a mess in your wake.
      • Someone else cleans up your mess.
  • The Nine?
    • You are in the trenches.
  • Or, by the example of your deeds, are you are a One Warrior?
    • You have brought yourself and others back to home and community.

Opera non Verba

In Latin:  Action, and not Words.

Imagine the good that is served by the energy of action not only for the benefit of your community but to yourself?

Adopt a Warrior Ethos

Step outside the comfort zone.

Work a food bank.. Learn CPR.  Read to children. Comfort the elderly. Volunteer at your local VA clinic or hospital. Serve at an animal shelter.

Motion and productivity are far better for mental wellness than lobbing derangement labels from an armchair.

May I Share Your Story?

Wars Change, Warriors Don’t

                                               Steven Pressfield, The Warrior Ethos,2011
  • Are you a Combat Veteran or a Cancer Survivor?

  • Have you overcome Addiction, Trauma, and/or other Dire Circumstances?

    Your Stories and Insights Are Kindly Requested

    The Be-Attitudes: A Handy Guide for Every-Day Warriors

    “A Little Book About Ordinary Survival in a Complex World”

An award-winning Educator, Mental Health Counselor, Army Veteran, and Writer, I continue in striving to  enlighten treatment providers, students, groups, and individuals in the practice of Self-Care, Treating the Addictions, and Suicide Awareness, using a Trauma-Informed approach. 

With more than 17 years’ experience in the treatment of Trauma and Addictions, I continue to be endlessly inspired by my fellow veterans and my own patients’ ability to grow from their own traumas; those who draw upon personal inner strengths and build upon positive past experience and the influences of others.  From their stories of growth I continue to observe a common thread of key attitudes that drive each toward wellness.  I have come to call these traits “Warrior Attitudes”.

I am passionate about this work and now, building upon my own life experience in growing from my personal experience with trauma and addiction, I continue collecting stories of survival and challenge.  

I would like to know and include your story in my current project entitled The Be-Attitudes, and how your Warrior Attitude inspires you to go forward  and continues to drive your growth today.

  • What is it about YOUR Warrior Attitude that has seen you through the worst times, or saved you from yourself in the best of times?

  • Where did it come from?

  • Who are the people throughout your life who inspired you to shape the attitudes that define you?

Contact me today to learn how to submit your story and help to inspire others to grow from adversity.


Follow This Logic

Disclaimer:  This is not a political statement either for or against one of the Presidential candidates.  There are plenty of double standards and hipocricy to go around.

So let me see if I understand something:

“The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma or barriers to seeking out care.” Clinton campaign.

Now, couple this with her recent statement about Trump supporters as “A Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Basket Of Deplorables“.

Now add to these the term “Dropped (his/her} basket” which is a common term for someone who has “lost it”, “flipped the lid”, gone crackers, bonkers, and more. Then ask yourself, who is labeling whom? Equating a specific group who don’t like her with the Mentally Ill? And in so saying, implying that mental illness is deplorable?  Mrs. Clinton, it appears that your Freudian Slip is showing.

I earn a pretty good living by observing discrepancies in a person’s narrative. Call me crazy, but if this is not another case of  blatant hypocrisy, then what is?

Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness month, though, I’d like to think that through a steady drip of conversations about mental health, and that includes compulsive use of substances and other behaviors, that we will become as alert to symptoms of inner unrest as we are of the common cold.  Few things stick in my craw more than careless tossing around of mental health conditions for the purpose of fending off personal responsibility in relationships.

If you are saying that your partner, parent, boss, whomever, is:




Always the Victim


In denial

Passive Aggressive


Self Centered

Overly sensitive

Ad infinitum

Ask yourself if, in fact, by labeling the other in these ways you, yourself, are deflecting responsibility for your own actions, what you say, and how you react to others?

Are these labels simply a defense against being somehow in the wrong?  And, if so, what is so wrong about being in the wrong?

My mother always used to remind us as we were growing up to “taste your words before you spit them out”.  While it is unrealistic to believe we are always going to be perfectly circumspect in our words, it is always good practice to continue to be open to new levels of awareness of what we are actually doing and saying.

Be well.




Trauma Informed: Gaining Momentum

Before communities can begin to tackle problems of bullying, domestic violence, substance abuse, and other mental health problems, they need to look just a little bit deeper than the symptoms.  A great article from the LA Times.

Here in Bradenton, Florida, our opioid problem is the worst in the state.  And while research continues to demonstrate a solid link between childhood/developmental trauma and compulsive use of alcohol/other drugs, practitioners and treatment programs do not screen for adverse childhood experiences.  What a shame.

When Others Criticize

This was featured in Scientific American Mind, a great online journal of evidence based information about our very complicated minds.

When I listened to this podcast, boy, did I ever have to take heart, especially about the one person out of 100 that is only even slightly critical of me.

Implied here is that it takes loads of practice to rewire beliefs that we “should” care about everything others think and reroute the circuits to change “the rules” inside our heads.  It does require the skill of mindfulness and being aware of our reactions to criticism.

It’s only 8 minutes, and Dr. Hendrickson has a great presentation.

Interesting Study

When engaging in practices of self care, one of the 5 elements outlined in the Handy Guide for the Every-Day Warrior involves exercise and discusses the physiological benefits to managing the effects of Chronic Distress and/or Posttraumatic Stress.  The idea is that motion ultimately can benefit and improve what I call Executive Leadership in the mind which, in turn, enhances one’s ability to manage intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, by centering one’s consciousness and being present.

Keep moving!



Back From Hibernation

Well, here we are, 11 days into a new year.  For Benchmark CCE, it promises to be an exciting turn toward expansion of educating the public at large about new and dramatic ways of understanding trauma and its effects on our lifetime health.  The latest literature is brimming with discoveries that have lit new pathways to understanding the attachments humans create to behaviors that sooner or later cause problems, i.e., overuse of alcohol or other drugs, overspending, gambling, thrill seeking, or rage, just to name a few.

We are more than learning about how cumulative trauma originating even in infancy, is foundational to physiological alterations that affect our lifelong health, presenting as afflictions of the body.

I started reading the book, Childhood Disrupted:  How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal.  I will say, first off, if you are reading this blog, what the author has to say in presenting her research will more than likely resonate with you.  Speaking for myself as not only a Mental Health Professional, but also as one who has lived with and worked around  the effects of “Small ‘T ‘Trauma this is a book I would recommend to everyone as a go to reference to identify your history and its effects on your biology, and healing through the host of new and exciting treatment pathways.  Here is the link.

On another note, I am in the process of developing the Every-Day Warrior Blog.  This is where readers are invited to share successes in managing stress, working through relationships, healing their histories, and navigating forward through presence and mindfulness.


So, dear readers, here’s to Every-Day well-being that comes only from well-DO-ing!