Dr. Peter Breggin

Fifteen Principles of Life for Thanksgiving

1. Love is joyful awareness. Love life--people, animals, nature, gardening, art and music, sports and exercise, literature, God--anything and anyone that brings you a joyful awareness of the wonder of being a living creature.

2. Gratitude satisfies the spirit. Be grateful for all that you love and if you cannot think of anyone or anything that love, then be grateful you still have a chance to love.

Be especially grateful for the opportunity help and to serve other people and good causes.

3. Gratitude is the antidote to self-pity. Feeling sorry for oneself is ruinous. Especially don't fall into believing that we live in the worst of times. It takes little imagination to know how much worse it has been for other people in previous ages and in other places. Be grateful for this life.

4. Ethics guide the good life. Put ethics and principles above pleasure, convenience, safety, income, career, your presumed place in the world, and the way others view you. Living a principled life is the key to a satisfying life.

5. Everything good requires courage. Find the courage to love, to be grateful, and to live by sound ethics. Especially be brave enough to speak when you are afraid.

6. Dare to seek romantic love. Abiding love for a partner in life is the nearest we get to heaven this time around.

7. Make a living by doing something that you love. Many people find a way to do it. Your occupation should feel like a privilege, a pleasure, and an opportunity to serve.

8. Approach every single challenge in life with determination to master it. Otherwise you won't handle it. Feeling helpless in the face of adversity is a prescription for failure. Deciding to take on the challenges is a prescription for self-satisfaction and makes success more likely.

9. Don't hide from or stifle your painful emotions. Feeling pain signals that there is something wrong in your life that needs immediate attention. Invite your painful emotions to tell you everything they can about what you really want out of life. All psychoactive substances, from illegal drugs to psychiatric medications, suppress our real emotions and should be avoided, especially in time of suffering and fear when we especially need to know what we are feeling.

10. Reject being labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis like depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. There are no "psychiatric disorders;" only life disorders. All of us have to struggle, to go through hard times, and to find a way of becoming more in control of our emotions and more successful in our actions.

11. Don't think of yourself as a survivor. Intending to survive guarantees little more than getting by. Think of yourself as some who intends to triumph.

12. Forgiving other people liberates us from hate. You won't get even by hating, you'll get miserable, bitter and spiritless. Take care of yourself by forgiving, and if necessary by avoiding hurtful people, but don't waste a minute hating.

13. Seek a worthwhile life rather than happiness. The search for happiness will distract you from what matters and even make you crazy. Happiness is often a matter of luck--the way we are shaped by childhood, where we happen to be born, health, and circumstance.

14. No one knows the meaning of life but it's certain that life is best lived with love, gratitude, ethics, courage, and a determination to give it your best effort. A sense of worth is guaranteed and happiness will often tag along as well.

15. Let your spirit be touched, and touch the spirit of others, with love.

Copyright by Peter R. Breggin, M.D., Thanksgiving Day 2006. Please copy and send these intact guidelines along with the copyright notice to anyone you wish



Bio: Dr. Peter Breggin

Dr. Peter Breggin Peter R. Breggin, M.D. began in the full time private practice of psychiatry in 1968. Dr. Breggin has been informing the professions, media and the public about the potential dangers of drugs, electroshock, psychosurgery, involuntary treatment, and the biological theories of psychiatry for over three decades. Since 1964 Dr. Breggin has been publishing peer-reviewed articles and medical books in his subspecialty of clinical psychopharmacology. He is the author of dozens of scientific articles and nineteen professional books about psychiatric medication, the FDA and drug approval process, the evaluation of clinical trials, and standards of care in psychiatry and related fields. His most recent books are The Ritalin Fact Book (2002) and The Antidepressant Fact Book (2001).

In 1972 he founded The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP) as a nonprofit research and educational network. The Center is concerned with the impact of mental health theory and practices upon individual well-being, personal freedom, and family and community values.

He also founded the peer-review journal, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. In 2002 Dr. Breggin and his wife Ginger selected younger professionals to take over the leadership of the journal and ICSPP (see ICSPP.org). They also decided to improve their lifestyle by moving to the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York. However, Dr. Breggin is not retiring. He is continuing his clinical practice, forensic work, and research and writing.

For thirty years Dr. Breggin has served as a medical expert in many civil and criminal suits including product liability suits against the manufacturers of psychiatric drugs. His work provided the scientific basis for the original combined Prozac suits and for the more recent Ritalin class action suits. His efforts as a medical expert have resulted in the FDA changing numerous official drug labels.

Dr. Breggin's background includes Harvard College navy;">, Case Western Reserve Medical School at Harvard Medical School, a two-year staff appointment to the National Institute of Mental Health, and a faculty appointment to the Johns Hopkins University Department of Counseling.

Dr. Breggin is the author of nineteen professional books, including The Ritalin Fact Book (2002), The Antidepressant Fact Book (2001), Talking Back to Ritalin, Revised (2001), Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs (with David Cohen, Ph.D., 1999), Toxic Psychiatry (1991), Talking Back to Ritalin (1998) Beyond Conflict (1992), and with Ginger Ross Breggin, Talking Back to Prozac (1994) and The War Against Children of Color (1998). In 1997 Springer Publishing Company simultaneously released Dr. Breggin's professional books Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Role of the FDA and The Heart of Being Helpful: Empathy and the Creation of a Healing Presence. Dr. Breggin has also published approximately thirty peer-reviewed articles in the field of psychiatry.

Dr. Breggin's reform work began in the 1950s as a college student when he directed the Harvard-Radcliffe Mental Hospital Volunteer Program. He graduated with honors from Harvard and then received his medical training at Case Western Reserve. He took his psychiatric training at the State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center, and at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, where he was also a teaching fellow at Harvard Medical School. Before going into private practice in 1968, he spent two years as a full-time consultant with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In November, 1998 he was a scientific presenter at the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Dr. Breggin's work is frequently covered in the national media such as the New York Times, Time, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker. He regularly appears on radio and TV, including "Oprah," "Larry King Live," "Montel Williams," "Sally," "Donahue," "20/20," "60 Minutes," and "Nightline." Dr. Breggin frequently gives workshops and presentations in North America and Europe.