Leaving Psychiatric Labels and Drugs – a conversation between five women


Åsa Moberg, Mette Ellingsdalen, Olga Runciman, Laura Delano and Fia Backström

The Swedish journalist Åsa Moberg will have a conversation with four women from four different countries; Olga Runciman from Denmark, Mette Ellingsdalen from Norway, Laura Delano from USA and Fia Backström from Sweden about their own lived experience of being labelled with different psychiatric diagnoses. The conversation will also be about each of their ways back to a so-called ordinary life and about each of their contributions to create a sustainable change in the psychiatric system and in society at large.

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Åsa Moberg

Åsa Moberg, born 1947, author, translator and social commentator. Aspired to become a textile artist but in the spring of 1968 became a columnist for Aftonbladet, where she remained until 1980. From 1986-1996 she worked as a TV critic for the same newspaper. At present she is contributing to Helsingborgs Dagblad, M Magasin and Dagens Samhälle amongst others. She has also written 21 books, none of them translated to English, including Simone and I – Thinking about Simone de Beauvoir 1996, and Adam’s book 1999, a book about life with the diagnosis bipolar disorder, together with Adam Inczèdy-Gombos. She was no Florence Nightingale –The person behind the myth, 2007 is another significant work. Her most recent book An extremely expensive and life-threatening technique for heating water – A book about nuclear power, was published in 2014.


Mette Ellingsdalen

Mette Ellingsdalen (40) is a Norwegian human-rights activist. Her work is focused on ending discrimination against people with psychosocial disabilities, promoting basic rights and human dignity.

Mette was first hospitalized at the age of 22. Over the next 13 years, she was prescribed over 25 different psychiatric drugs, and was given multiple electroshock treatments. Her attempts to address the harmful effects of the treatments were met with indifference by a system that was more about power, not truth and knowledge. This is an important motivation for her advocacy work.

From 2007 to 2014 Mette was chair of the user/survivor organization We Shall Overcome (WSO). In this role she created a platform to amplify the voices of those mistreated and harmed by psychiatric treatment.

Her work is focused on legislative change to end coercion and to promote alternatives.

Currently she leads WSOs Human Rights group, advocating for the full implementation of the Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).


Olga Runciman

Olga Runciman is a psychologist and a psychiatric survivor, a psychiatric nurse and a voice hearer bridging two opposing worlds which never quite meet.

She is an activist demanding human rights for the oppressed people of psychiatry. She works hard to open up spaces so that the voices that traditionally are never heard, those of the so-called ‘severely mentally ill’, take form and become meaningful so that change can occur both within and outside of psychiatry.

Staffs are rarely given access to other truths or other knowledge areas, one of the most important being that the concept of madness can be meaningful and profoundly related to life stories. When this is truly put in the center it has the capacity to change the psychiatric way of thinking.

Ultimately Olga believes that post psychiatry is the way to move forward. Spaces for other voices and choices need to be expanded; psychiatry needs to be regarded as simply one of many possibilities and its power to force people to use it should be taken away.


Laura Delano

Laura Delano is a psychiatric liberation activist, writer, and community organizer.  She entered the “mental health” system as a thirteen-year old and escaped it fourteen years later, after accidentally stumbling upon Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic. Today, Laura works with individuals looking to free themselves from psychiatric labels and drugs, and communities seeking to build alternatives to the “mental health” system.  She is an editor, consultant, and film festival organizer at www.MadinAmerica.com, and she lives near Boston, Massachusetts, where she’s founded a mutual support group for people coming off psychiatric drugs.  Laura can be found at her website, www.RecoveringfromPsychiatry.com.

Fia Backström

Fia Backström

Fia Backström is an artist and an educator, who at the age of 24 was hospitalized the first time. Fia received the diagnosis/label bipolar and was told that it is a chronic disease and that she would have to take medication for the rest of her life. In psychiatric care the focus is on the singular patient, aiming to ‘discipline’ them back into a system on normative and productive terms, with medication as the only option.

Fia has studied historical, and current holistic methods, alternatives to psychiatry, such as diet, meditation, movement, language and body therapies. She has a deep investment in the anti-psychiatry movement from the 70s, specifically the institutional therapy methods at Clinic La Borde with Félix Guattari’s writings, who emphasized the role of desire and creativity as a structuring device, rather than compliance.

By viewing a larger life system as an ecological weave, working with creative-political expression towards social connectedness where madness is part of living, Fia is no longer on medication since 2011. She work as an activist and has been in touch with the Icarus project, a support network by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness.