Welcoming 2012 With A Look At The Past

Since launching this blog on January 1, 2010, I have written 184 posts. In an average month, between 2,000 to 3,000 readers check to see what I have posted. When a blog is especially controversial that number can jump to  6,000. Readers have posted 1,000 comments. Thank you for your interest.

I started this blog after several New York publishers rejected an idea for a book that I called HOPE.  I wanted to write about successful mental health treatment programs that were helping people recover. Unfortunately, the editors who heard my pitch were not interested in a book about success stories. I began this blog because I wanted to continue writing about issues, mostly mental health related, that are important to me, especially hope.  

The start of a New Year is a good time for reflection –  so I have reviewed my 184  posts and picked out a handful to highlight.  If you didn’t read them when they were originally posted, perhaps you will glance at them now. 

(1.)  The most controversial blog that I have written, appeared on October 4, 2010, under the title:  An Alternative Voice Courtesy of You!   

In that blog, I questioned whether the federal government should be paying for a yearly “ALTERNATIVE” mental health conference that featured presenters who opposed mainstream psychiatric treatment. One lecturer argued that mental disorders do not really exist. My column outraged several people who had participated and helped organize that conference and they were quick to sent out emails condemning me. This resulted in a barrage of  angry comments,  including some personal attacks. The blog and the response that I received was a reminder of just how divided the so-called mental health community is when it comes to treatment and, more importantly, forced medication.

2. On  July 9, 2010, I revealed in a blog that my friend, Sergei Tretyakov, had died unexpectedly at age 53.  Although the Associated Press declined to give me credit for announcing Tretyakov’s death — explaining that a blog was not a legitimate news source — the New York Times, Washington Post and scores of other media published my information. Sergei was the subject of my New York Times best-seller, COMRADE J: The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War. In 2000, he and his family quietly defected while he was the highest ranking Russian intelligence officer stationed in New York City. His wife, Helen, asked me to make public his unexpected death. 

  Unfortunately, Sergei’s death happened only days before the FBI arrested eleven Russian  illegals, including the sexpot, Anna Chapman. This led to widespread speculation that Sergei had tipped off the FBI, which wasn’t the case, and that he had been murdered by Russian secret agents in retaliation, which was ludicrous.

3. Another story that attracted national news was Linda’s Story, Part One and Part Two,    I wrote about how Joan Bishop had attempted to get her sister, Linda, treatment for her severe mental illness. When Linda was discharged from a state hospital in New Hampshire, Joan wasn’t told.  Only later did she discover that Linda had walked a few miles from the hospital and taken refuge in an unoccupied farmhouse. Terrorized by her own thoughts, living only on apples from trees outside the house, Linda kept a diary that chronicled her eventual death by starvation, including her final entry:

Dec. 18th.
This is my 13th day without food. Fell yesterday when coming in from getting snow for water, hurt left knee, shoulder and cheekbone, writing this lying down – only time I feel good is when I am sleeping because then I forget.

Linda’s story was first reported in a local newspaper. Then Joan contacted me and eventually Rachel Aviv, a reporter for The New Yorker . The magazine story prompted numerous commentaries about forced medication and civil rights.

4.  I was watching a college basketball game during March Madness when a Burger King commercial made me so angry I decided to write a blog about it. Let’s Make Burger King Accountable  took issue with the advertisement that showed the company’s King mascot smashing a window and being wrestled down by two men in white coats because he was “crazy.”  I contacted my friends at the Washington Post  and at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, whose executive director, Mike Fitzpatrick, responded with a strong letter to Burger King’s president, condemning the company’s stigmatizing ad. Several national news organizations picked up on Mike’s letter and Burger King eventually issued a weak-kneed statement. Of course, it claimed that it never meant to offend anyone and then its spin masters attempted to use the publicity to generate hamburger sales by emphasizing that the company had low prices. I’ve not bought a Burger King food product since.

5. Of all the blogs that I have written, one of my favorites is Another Earley Advocates! The reason should be obvious. It is about my son who has become a certified peer-to-peer specialist and now goes into jails and prisons to help people with severe mental illnesses. I am tremendously proud of him. He is an example that recovery is possible if a person is given the tools that he needs to get better.

Which brings me to the final blog from the past two years that I would like you to consider. In the Importance of Speaking Out   I wrote about a letter that I had received from a mother whose son has a severe mental illness. She told me that her son had been psychotic and homeless for years and then one day sought help at a community treatment center. When they checked his pockets, they found a scrap of paper that he had kept. It was from an article that I had written for USA Today about Psycho Donuts, a California company that peddles donuts by making fun of persons with mental disorders. I had explained in that article that persons with mental disorders should not be blamed for their illnesses and that sentence was what her son had clung too. When I wrote that article, I had no idea it would touch his life — yet it did.

And that is the point of speaking out. Your voice matters. You can make a difference! You can help people — sometimes without even knowing it.

Be well, have hope, and continue to help others during 2012!

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. Pete, Thank you for your your voice on the topic of mental illness. You so eloquently speak for me and so many others.

  2. Life is challenging enough as it is.  Your plain spoken words help people understand the additional problems families face caused by mental illness.  Through no fault of their own.  It’s tragic, but your clear and strong voice helps us find solutions.  Thank you for putting yourself out there.  We appreciate you.