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Andrea Nicki


Thanks very much for sharing your story and experiences. I particularly liked that you shared that you are a survivor of childhood domestic violence. As a survivor of childhood domestic violence, there is a so much I can relate to in your account. I too found much needed benevolent mentors in my undergraduate studies. And I also was drawn to existentialism because of my life experiences. In retrospect, I think that quite a few students in my classes on existentialism had had traumatic home lives. I think, though, it could have been helpful if the professors had taken a more applied approach and helped us better understand some of the reasons for our misery and loneliness. It wasn't until graduate school that I delved into the relationship between my negative feelings and the lack of adult support in my life. In terms of barriers, I found this lack of support to be quite a problem when I had on-campus interviews, which are very stressful. Some students during their on-campus interviews kept in intense contact with a supportive parent. Since I would be especially anxious during these interviews, I felt at a disadvantageous. And there was no supportive adult I could call up in my mind to soothe myself. I think supervisors should make themselves available during these times if needed and give at least some support so to help level the playing field.

I also could relate to your experiences in graduate school. In my twenties, when I was in graduate school, I had a lot of negative feelings and was very nervous, angry and sad. I was continually trying to mask these feelings to come across as normal and, as a result, at times came across as rude and abrasive. I am not sure if you are familiar with twelve step groups like Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. I have found this group to be very helpful. When I was a faculty member at SFU, I suggested to some students who revealed to me their stressful childhoods that they start a group on campus. I think it could be a good way to build some community at school.

I could also relate to some of your challenges in teaching. Because I struggle with nervousness, whenever I had to teach a large class I would get myself revved up to feel more confident and grounded. This helped but then students sometimes complained I would not let them finish their sentences. But I felt I had to cut them off because otherwise I wouldn't remember everything they had said. I didn't explain this to them because I didn't want to be judged mentally incompetent. As you suggest, students can be so judgmental and intolerant. I've had a number of problem students when I have taught large classes. Because managers can blame instructors when there is bad student behaviour and assume the instructor is doing something wrong, I think instructors who struggle with nervousness and emotional differences should be given the option to teach online.

Best, Andrea Nicki

Jake Jackson

Hello Andrea,

Thanks! I'm glad that my interview resonated. I do think there's a terrible silence on mental health that continuously ruins those suffering. Best I can figure, the best thing we can do is speak honestly and openly.

The idea about helping students come up with support groups sounds like a good idea. I'll have to think on that. In the meantime, I have always stressed that I am there for students for office hours and discussion. A lot of this is self-motivated and certainly piecemeal without any real clue what I'm doing sometimes. I do my best to be a listening ear more than anything else.

Regarding teaching, it's actually the most enjoyable thing in my life. While I may have issues here and there with problem students, I do want to stress that the interaction and discussion is what keeps me going some days. I'm extremely pro-student. I do my best to be as firm and open about issues and am constantly trying to figure out how best to discuss issues without shaming students.

Andrea Nicki

Jake, you seem like a great student-centered instructor. With tough classroom issues, it's inevitable to have some problem students.

Best, Andrea


thanks again for offering so many thoughtful remarks in your interview.

I was wondering if you would elaborate on this remark, especially what follows the second comma:
"Meanwhile, the anti-psychiatric movement argues strongly against the horrors of malpractice, yet nevertheless has reduced the state of mental illness to a purely social structure or malingering condition." Do you think there is value in what the anti-psychiatry movement has done? Do you distinguish the anti-psychiatry movement from the mad movement?


Jake Jackson

Hi Shelley,

thanks for your questions. in no particular order: I do see a major difference between the mad pride movements and the anti-psychiatry movement, and it has everything to do with standpoint. The anti-psychiatry movement in general, particularly represented by Thomas Szasz, does not seem to concern itself with the genuine experience of the mentally ill, but instead on their own political/ideological concerns. Szasz directly equated diagnostic terms with racial slurs and argued against the reality of mental illness based upon brain science that he did not possess at the time (and we still don't). I see much of the anti-psychiatry movement as a gross misreading of Foucault: reducing the existence of mental illness as merely a technology of power relations, meanwhile Foucault never denied the very reality of mental differences and anguish.

While there has been a history of abuses from the profession of psychiatry, they still nevertheless are discussing a *real* phenomena, where the anti-psychiatry movement has often confused the ethical for the metaphysical/ontological existence of mental illness. All the movement did was sow doubt and distrust for any and all mental health practitioners, rather than giving a more critical basis of understanding.

Rather instead, we do need to directly concern ourselves with the question of how to center mental illness from the position of sufferers themselves. While there is a certain amount of deviance and noncompliance that is necessary for mentally ill individuals to take adequate care of themselves, an outright distrust of all psychiatry is the wrong approach.

Again, all the systems are flawed and poorly-designed in regards to mental healthcare, but nevertheless we cannot chuck out psychiatry, and mental difference DOES exist.

Jean Mathon

My name is jean I do relate with some of your academic goals and switching majors, I have just completed an Associate's degree in Human Services. now I'am puzzle about continuing with a 4 year degree in Social work, I'am taking some extreme difficult classes in Bio molecular science and Economics. Religion is a very important aspect of life. So, I am a person with Mental health issues as well. I go to extreme low's and Highs. I get rejected at my school because of my ethnic background, my Mental Health and Disabilities, sometimes i just want to give up. but I am not a quitter!!!


Hi Jake, love that you share your experience living with Depression. We just started designing infographics for certain health conditions to create awareness and just finished one for Depression, you can see it here:

Please feel free to share it on your blog :)


Jake Jackson

Hi Carolina,

great, I just tweeted that out. thanks

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