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In Memory of Jacqueline Sparks, Ph.D. (1950 – 2022)

In Memory of Jacqueline Sparks, Ph.D. (1950 – 2022)

11/16/2022

by Barry Duncan, Psy.D.


Dr. Jacqueline A. Sparks, social justice advocate, critical thinker extraordinaire, beloved university professor, ISEPP journal Editor-in-Chief, gifted therapist, and my best friend, died November 3rd after a lengthy illness. The world is not quite as good without her. Behind her voluminous publications, impeccable scholarship, and amazing writing abilities, Dr. Sparks championed two ideals in her work throughout her career. First and foremost, she was driven to transform systems of care to privilege the service user, especially their goals for service and how those goals are approached—to include consumers in all decisions that affect their care. Deeply embedded in her unyielding drive for client privilege was a call for cultural responsiveness and the promotion of social justice. Jacqueline operationalized this ideal in the Partners for Change Outcome Management System or PCOMS, a method that levels the hierarchy in therapy and honors service user views of benefit and relationship. Ten randomized clinical trials and four editions of the PCOMS manual later, this ideal has become manifest. Dr. Sparks was not only a great thinker, she also got things done.

The second ideal was an unwavering commitment to challenge the status quo, to question presumed mental health authority and ask the hard questions. But this was not just rebellious talk to her, it emerged from a deep dive into research and exposing the science, or rather the science fiction masquerading as science, regarding psychiatric diagnoses and psychotropic medication. Our 2000 article in the Psychotherapy Networker, “The Myth of the Magic Pill,” called attention to the flawed science and the financial web of deceit of the pharmaceutical industry. This article was recognized by Project Censored as one of the “Top Ten Under-Reported Stories of 2000.” It also received the “The Networker 20thAnniversary All Time Top Ten Award” as one of the most influential features in magazine history. Since then, Dr. Sparks continued to question the “taken for granted,” exposing the bankrupt science and corruption that permeates psychiatric diagnosis and medication in multiple articles in top tier journals, uncovering the methodological tricks of drug company research and building the case for psychotherapy as a first line intervention for both every day and catastrophic problems that humans face. For this enormous body of work, Jacqueline received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society of Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry.

Pictured below is Jackie smiling broadly holding the Psychotherapy Networker issue containing our award-winning article.

On a personal note, Jackie was also my closest friend, my ally through thick and thin. I counted on her keen analyses and insightful perceptions of any situation, personal or professional, and I knew I could always expect her unyielding support. Knowing this made me stronger and knowing her made me a better person.

Jackie was diagnosed last summer, and she courageously faced and endured everything that might prolong her life. Simultaneously she squeezed every ounce of enjoyment out of each day, playing her violin (she was a brilliant musician), decorating her new house, and traveling with her partner, Martin, and her sister and brother-in-law (Trish and John). Just a couple of weeks before she died, although not able to eat, she travelled to New York and profusely enjoyed a concert (Tedeschi Trucks Band) at the Beacon Theater and a Broadway musical (Six). She excitedly gave me a detailed description of the trip in our last conversation before she was hospitalized.

But treatment did not stop the aggressive spread of the cancer. Suddenly, months left became weeks left, and then days left—the end came unexpectedly rapidly. Our plan for her and Martin to escape the cold and stay with Barbara and I in January was not going to happen. With her death imminent, I flew to Rhode Island to give my last goodbye to my best friend. It was devastating, yet beautiful and inspirational. When Jackie awakened and saw me, she cried and we shared 25 years of love expressed in joyful tears. Unbelievably, in her weakened state, she asked the nurse to help sit her up, with her legs over the side of the bed so she could face me. Her body barely there and her voice but a whisper, we talked until she couldn’t anymore. We discussed our work, our history, our relationship—we laughed and cried, and said everything that needed to be said.

After an emotionally soothing dinner with her fantastic partner, Martin, also a lifelong social justice advocate, I laid awake that night in my hotel feeling the brunt of my grief. Because I couldn’t accept that I wouldn’t see her or talk to her again, I planned to stop at the hospital and see her one last time on the way to the airport. I summoned  a car on a familiar service and waited…and waited until I got the message that no cars were available. I had never experienced this before, but this was a small town, not like the cities I usually frequented. I was frantic. I called other local services but only got recordings. When I was about at my wits end, the front desk person, Stacy, said she would get back to me. I told her I would gladly pay $20 (the cost of the service) for the ride if anyone there could do it. The manager okayed it, and Lucas, a young man of no more than 19 took me to South County Hospital where my friend lay in a Hospice bed.  Lucas, who I noticed was not wearing trendy clothes or expensive sneakers or anything even remotely new, asked me about my friend and told me of his grandma’s battle with cancer. We enjoyed a quiet, empathic, and melancholic ride, our shared experience making an unspoken connection in minutes, if not seconds. There was a wonderful, comforting kindness to this young man that provided some solace to my grief. When we arrived after our brief trip, I pulled out my wallet to give him the twenty, and he told me he couldn’t accept any money from me. I asked if he was sure as it was clear he could use it, but he declined and wished me the best.

I was disappointed because Jackie did not regain consciousness for my final visit. In fact, she didn’t regain consciousness after I left her the night before. I felt fortunate and gratified that I had said everything I wanted to say the day before. But I still said everything I wanted to say, again. Jackie died later that day. But as I experienced my grief about the loss of this stunningly compassionate, brilliant human being, I realized that Lucas somehow personified Jackie’s kindness and integrity. In this world of vitriol and hatred, there are those who care about the plight of others, and act to ease their burden in small but meaningful ways. Thank you, Lucas, for showing the spirit of Jackie, and continuing my faith in the human species.

And thank you, Jackie, for being in my life, enriching me personally and professionally, and being the friend who everyone should be fortunate to have. I love you. I miss you—along with many others whose lives you touched.
 
 

ISEPP Announces New Journal Editorial Staff

ISEPP Announces New Journal Editorial Staff

ISEPP has chosen two of the most qualified people of the critical psychology and psychiatry movement to join the editorial staff of Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry: An International Journal of Critical Inquiry (EHPP).

EHPP's new Editor-in-Chief is Don Marks, Psy.D., Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Training at Kean University, NJ. He is a clinical health psychologist specializing in strategies for living with chronic pain and advanced illness. His work on psychological interventions for chronic pain has led to research regarding sport injury and athlete psychological well-being. He is also a marriage and family psychologist, working primarily with couples and families facing medical illness. Dr. Marks completed both the professional practicum and internship in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine of Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship and served as a clinical instructor in psycho-oncology and palliative medicine at The Ohio State University Medical Center. He has been a member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) since 2005, and he has served as president of the organization's Greater New York chapter. Dr. Marks is the past Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology.

We are also excited to announce that Niall (Jock) McLaren, MBBS, FRANZCP, was selected as an Associate Editor of EHPP. He joins our current Associate Editor, Jim Tucker, Ph.D., in assisting Dr. Marks in continuing to make EHPP an important voice in the critical psychology and critical psychiatry field. Dr. McLaren is an Australian psychiatrist who recently retired after 50 years of practice. He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at University of Queensland. He has published a number of monographs on the application of the philosophy of science to mental disorder, most recently with a fierce critique of the so-called "bio-psycho-social" model, showing how it is without substance. He lives in the rural outskirts of Brisbane with his family and keeps busy growing trees.

Soteria House – Las Cruces, New Mexico

Soteria House – Las Cruces, New Mexico

ISEPP's past Executive Director, Al Galves, Ph.D., has been working hard on the development of a Soteria House program in New Mexico, named Soteria Las Cruces.

Soteria House is the brainchild of the late Harvard and Stanford trained psychiatrist Loren Mosher, M.D., Chief of the Center for Studies of Schizophrenia at the National Institute of Mental Health in the 1980s. Soteria was an unorthodox and novel idea for helping people who had been labeled schizophrenic. It was an intensive program based on a psychosocial and supportive residential approach that demonstrated effectiveness without the use of psychiatric drugs or other medical model approaches.
The Soteria Las Cruces program's advisory board includes the former Leader Pro Tempore of the New Mexico Senate, a current State Representative, the former Director of the Border Health Program, and the woman who was the driving force behind the development of drug courts in New Mexico.
The effort has received $50,000 from the state Behavioral Health Services Division for preliminary planning and a commitment of $30,000 from Dona Ana County for implementation planning once funding is approved by the legislature.
Dr. Galves' team made two presentations to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee.  They have strong support from two of the members, a representative who appropriated the $50,000 from her "Junior" money and Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, vice-chair of the Committee and a senior Senator with a lot of influence in the Senate.
Representative Joanne Ferrary will be introducing a bill to appropriate $966,000 for the first year operation of Soteria Las Cruces.  The Advisory Board members are talking with legislators in anticipation of the session which will convene in early January.
The team's priority now is lobbying legislators and getting ready to testify before the committees and the legislature once it convenes in January.
If you are interested in helping, contact Al Galves at agalves2003@comcast.net.

Recordings of the ISEPP 2022 Conference

Recordings of the ISEPP 2022 Conference

Didn't get a chance to attend the 2022 conference? No problem. Recordings of the presentations are available here.

Don't miss out on an amazing lineup of speakers and their thoughts on the failed medical model of emotional distress.

ISEPP 2022 Award Winners Announced!

ISEPP 2022 Award Winners Announced!

10/31/2022

During its annual conference this past weekend, ISEPP announced the winners of its three awards:

ISEPP Lifetime Achievement Award - for recognition of sustained and dedicated efforts made throughout one’s career in the struggle to overturn the medical model of human distress. Presented to Jacqueline Sparks, Ph.D. 

Click here to read the citation

 

ISEPP Special Achievement Award -  For recognition of specific projects and programs developed as alternatives to the orthodox mental health system. Presented to Angela Peacock, M.S.W.

Click here to read the citation

 

Mary Karon Memorial Award for Humanitarian Concerns - Named in honor of Mary Karon, wife of the late Bert Karon, who had been a lifelong activist psychologist and member of ISEPP. Mary and Bert were in a serious car accident in 2007, leaving Bert in need of constant and daily care. Mary provided that care with the hope of giving Bert the ability to continue in his fight against medicalized psychiatry. Mary died a few years later, making Bert promise that he would continue his work. This award is given to those who show a similar dedication to supporting the ISEPP mission. Presented to the directors and producers of Medicating Normal.

Click here to read the citation

ISEPP’s Executive Director Interviewed

ISEPP’s Executive Director Interviewed

10/28/2022

Listen to ISEPP's Executive Director Dr. Chuck Ruby being interviewed about his ideas on the mental health industry on Dr. Ben Rall's Designed to Heal Podcast.


 

 

Critical Psychology and Critical Psychiatry Series

Critical Psychology and Critical Psychiatry Series

The Ethics International Press has recently released the first two volumes of a critical psychology and critical psychiatry series: Critiquing the Psychiatric Model and Humane Alternatives to the Psychiatric Model.
Act now to get your copies. Don't miss out on an opportunity to hear from some of the brightest thinkers in the field.

 

CAMPP Demands Answers From Mental Health Member Organizations

CAMPP Demands Answers From Mental Health Member Organizations

ISEPP's action committee, CAMPP, sent an Open Letter to the five major mental health member organizations in Washington, DC, demanding answers about the flawed medical model of mental distress. The letter was signed by over 150 practitioners and academics of the mental health professions.

The letters (and emails) were dispatched July 8, 2022. There has been no reply from any of the organizations.

CAMPP plans to contact several national media outlets about this effort and urge their coverage.

ISEPP Joins In International Effort

ISEPP Joins In International Effort

ISEPP has joined several other international groups calling for the American Psychological Association (APA) to apologize and provide reparations to the victims and families of the U.S. "war on terrorism." The APA and some of its member psychologists were complicit with the military from the early 2000s on, supporting the inhumane torturous treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other black sites. This was a dark stain on APAs reputation, and they have been very reluctant over the years to admit and atone for their involvement in this human rights debacle.

24th Annual 2022 ISEPP Conference – Virtual REGISTER NOW!

24th Annual 2022 ISEPP Conference – Virtual REGISTER NOW!

 

ISEPP's 24th annual conference will be held October 29-30, 2022 between 12pm and 6pm U.S. Eastern time.

This year's title is: A Paradigm Shift: From Pathologizing to Valuing Emotions.  

Register now!