Archive Vol. 1 No. 1

(What is Madness Network News?)

VOL.1 NO.1 1972

A Communications network for the interchange of energy and support of people in the Bay area who are trying to change the archaic and repressive aspects of the psychiatric treatment centers that they work and live in.

A Clearinghouse created for people who want to plug into the established and/or alternative ”mental health” network, either to get help from it or to work in it.

Research and Evaluation of the different alternatives available to someone having the psychotic experience.

Information about such issues as:

How do you get into a hospital if you want to?

How do you get out?

What it means to be labeled as “crazy,” legally and socially.

How to get Aid to the Disabled.

What benefits you can expect from it.

How drugs are used in treating psychosis.

What it is like to be hospitalized for psychiatric reasons.

And more………..

Artistic Energy—drawings, poetry, prose, letters—particularly

From people who have experienced “madness” directly and also from

Anyone else who wishes to contribute (insane, sane, anti-sane,

Non-sane, supersane, asane, metasane—everyone is welcome).

A voice for the Demystification of the psychotic process.

How Madness Network News Came To Be

In November 1971 Jennifer Gleissner and Tullia Tesauro who had met each other as patients at Agnews State Hospital, put on a workshop in San Francisco for therapists, Encountering Psychosis, or “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Madness but Were Afraid to Ask.” An outcome of this workshop was the growth of a coalition of ex-patients, therapists and others that met together informally over a period of months. Eventually the group began to call itself the Psychosis Validation Coalition. The purpose of “PVC” (as we recall it for shortness sake) has been to affirm both to psychiatric patients and to be the community, that the experience of psychosis is a valid one, and that it has the potential to be a constructive creative process, with opportunities for growth and breaking through into other realms of one’s personality. The group (PVC) felt that it could achieve its purpose in many different ways—one of the ways to be through a newsletter that, would be circulated to all treatment centers and individuals of the “madness network’; in the Bay area, this is that newsletter.

About Distribution

Madness Network News is being distributed free to patients and staff of psychiatric treatment centers and alternative centers in San Francisco,

Berkeley, Marin and the Peninsula. We also have a mailing list. If you wish to be on it a $2.00 donation is requested in order to pay for mailing and Printing. Any additional contribution you wish to make is greatly appreciated. We anticipate Madness Network News appearing approximately once a month.

Our address is:

Madness Network News

P.O. BOX 684

San Francisco, California 94101

If you wish to contribute anything to Madness Network News for publication, please have it double spaced (if written material) and let us know if you wish it returned. If you want it returned, please send us a stamped self-addressed Envelope. In the future we hope to be able to pay some of our contributors for their work, although we are not able to do so now.

Who Is In The Madness Network?

ANYONE concerned about the quality of care given to

Someone undergoing the psychotic experience.


WORKERS in the psychiatric field (professional, paraprofessional And non-professional).

ANYONE who wants to be in it.

Have you ever had “crazy” feelings and tried to get help Have you ever been involved with someone experiencing emotional or psychic pain? Have you ever tried to do something· for that person? If you have, then you are probably aware of the help that can be available. You may have seen how frequently that help is delivered through a syringe or pill along with the underlying message that the recipient is “crazy” and therefore no longer a valid, responsible individual, but an invalid lunatic. You may also be aware of the effect of that kind of help which can often fog the mind and make you forget what you were trying to remember—help that attempts to stuff all of your “not-you” back inside of you. You may also know

of the role of “a crazy” or “mental patient”, a role which if someone hasn’t learned well enough from their parents, the psychiatric system seems invested in perpetuating. There are now people who have experienced that kind of “help” who are beginning to recognize the generally inadequate way in their needs have been met. There are various groups and individuals trying to coordinate their

energies in order to change the psychiatric system. One difficulty in building a movement of this kind is the way in which the psychiatric system tries to insulate itself from criticism. through the process of invalidation and discounting of someone who has been labeled as “crazy.” If you have been labeled in such a way, it may make your expression of dislike of the way you are being related to

often suspect or invalid. The psychiatric system finds it hard to listen to or believe those it is attempting to serve, namely the “patients” even though the

“patient” may be the one who know best what he or she needs to do to change.

This newsletter is to be the vehicle for all people concerned with the constructive change of the psychiatric system from the degradation process it is into the validation process it can be. We intend to use the newsletter to state more clearly the needs of everyone involved in the psychotic experience; to point out inadequacies within the psychiatric system and ways they can be changed; to clarify to the community what the psychotic process is and its role and

responsibility in that process; and to build a network of those interested in developing alternative ways of dealing with the psychotic experience. We also

intend to be the vehicle for the expression of the personal, creative and spiritual

side of psychosis by publishing poetry, drawings, diarys and other kinds of communications from inner space. As part of being a vehicle of change we want

to be a vehicle for expression and validation of the internal reality we all share.   

Sherry Hirsch


Festival of Creative Psychosis

A Festival of Creative Psychosis is now being planned by Tullia Tesauro for April of 1973. The festival is to be a display of art, poetry and music done by psychiatric patients and ex-patients of wards in San Mateo county and San Jose, to be held in San Mateo. Art will not be sold. It should be labeled by facility and also title, if desired, and some indication as to whether it is wished returned. We encourage those of you who feel comfortable in doing so to identify their work by their own name, as we are attempting to put in perspective the aspect of being

identified as a mental patient. If desired, poetry collected can be published in Madness Network News. Attendance at the Festival will be free of charge and open to the general public. Theater groups will be asked to participate and to lend a carnival air. Patients will be encouraged to participate as much as possible in the Festival. All who attend will be welcome to come in a Medieval costume. We are calling upon patients, ex-patients, mental health staff and others willing to

work on the organizational aspects of collecting and displaying work. Organizational meetings are being held the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at:

30 Channing Road

Burlingame, California

Telephone: 344-5814

Tullia Tesauro

Features To Come

“Lunatic of the Month”

“Dr. Caligari’s Column”


and more……

Some ideas that have been discussed at Psychosis Validation Coalition meetings

That have not yet been acted upon are:

  • Workshops for therapists and others to learn about the other side of madness from those who have been there.
  • Creation of a “Rap Center” for those who have had psychotic experiences—a place where these experiences and the experience of hospitalization can be shared.
  • Opening and operating a store where “mad” artists could sell their wares.
  • “Validation Teams” that would go into treatment centers and educate patients and staff to alternative ways of dealing with the psychotic experience–also educating nuclear and communal families about the psychotic process.
  • Madness Road Shows (guerilla theater) going to wards, hospitals, schools, etc., collecting talent and educating people to the creative potential of the psychotic experience.

There will be a meeting Friday, August 25 at 7:00 p.m. for anyone interested in any of these projects. The meeting will be held at:

                           Alternative Futures

                           2012 Pine St.

                           San Francisco

Bring food to share if you can. If you can’t come and are still interested, write to us at Madness Network News (please include stamp in envelope) and we will try to put you in touch with someone interested in the same project you are.

(Superphrenic #1) #1 is a continuing series. More Cosmic Than Paranoia.

Some answers for the man who asks

“Why do you wear earrings that don’t match?”

Because I lost one and never had the other.

Because my breasts don’t match either.

Because the right one,

The pearl I caught in a golden cage,

Is me.

And you are left

With balls

Hanging from my ear.

Virginia Davis

Spring, 1972

Schematically speaking

love is a triangle;

the mother, the father and

the child each facing in two directions. 

1t seems reasonable.

Given this arrangement then I,

with an iron mother

and the ghost of a father

hardly returned from

the deserts of Africa,

must prove myself distorted.

Or face the multiple dimensions of love.

Virginia Davis

(From a collection of poems written in the winter and spring of 1966)

On E.S,T.*


Power! power like a raw, titanic power, ripped through the earth and slammed against my body and shackled me where I lay. Power! Incredible barbaric power! A blast, a siren of light within me, rending, quaking, fusing my brain and blood to a fountain of flame, vast rockets in searing spray! Power! The hawk of radiance raking me with talons of fire, battering my skull with

a beak of fire, braying my body with pinions of intolerable light. And I writhed without motion in the clutch of fatal glory, and my brain swelled and dilated till it dwarfed the

galaxies in a bubble of refulgence – recoiled, the last screaming nerve clawing for survival. I kicked – once. Terrific rams of darkness collided; out of their shock space toppled

into havoc. A thin scream wobbled through spirals of oblivion, fell like a brand on water, my s-s-s-s-st———

Jennifer Gleissner

April 25, 1971

Electric Shock Therapy

In the mist…..  I thought, I dared to speculate,

I thought I was young woman, twenty-one,

I thought I had friends and I was pretty and smart.

There were good times and good-people, and I was happy

And I looked down over the bulging of my cheek and breasts

Saw the old fat sagging low, the torn tattered dress…..

And I know that somewhere there were, but I wasn’t.

In the mist….  I thought, I dared to speculate, to inquire. I thought there was music and art and poetry, I thought there was God and there was beauty,,,,

And I listened through the screeching, the noise, I heard………

‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,”

‘-Ii th eyes that cried……… deformed……. deformed, because they too had thought,

I saw row upon row of elderly ladies naked bodies shake, quiver…….. And play with themselves, with nothing to recall or remember.

I saw no God though I searched and ached. But there was no one,

In mist…… I thought, I dared to speculate.

I thought there was children and love.

There was sun and flowers and smiles and sun and sun and s……….

And I heard agony and pain……  wailing. I saw death and rain and nobody

caring……. and locks. I tried to see out past darkness past nothing.

I thought couldn’t dancing and holding hands and hugging. But I couldn’t see and

I couldn’t think. Then they handed me the pills………..

Eulogy to the backwards people………..

 Lucy J Bennett.

Statement made shortly before being diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic: 

“I’d rather not be than wrong.”

Virginia Davis