Changing our Consciousness Logo

Advocacy: Fighting Stigma


Waging Dialogue


Emotional Imprint


The mission of COC is closely aligned with that of the Hot Stove Project The Hot Stove Project

The Hot Stove Project


The capacity to read and respond to the emotional communication of others must include those with mental disorders or other "thinking and feeling differences." In our society, people suffering from these conditions struggle not only with inner demons, but also with conflicting explanations and treatments for their condition, and a society that misunderstands and fears them.

Recovery from mental illness has been shown to be better in third world countries. People are more likely to be treated as people, and their connection with family and community facilitates healing. In western society, struggling individuals are typically diagnosed with a disease and medicated, while others stare and look away. They may feel as if they lost not just their minds, but also their relationships, careers, and status in the world. Hidng the experience from others (or wearing it on their sleeves) interferes with their ability to deepen relationships as others treat them with curiosity and suspicion. Marginalized people are more likely to be paranoid, depressed, unmotivated. They may numb themselves with drugs, rely upon disability payments, or escape once again to unreality. Over-medication can lead to serious side effects, including cognitive impairment. Treatments are offered by different practitioners with different training, and are paid for only if considered “medically necessary.” The perspectives and treatment goals of the consumer, family, medical provider, psychotherapist, and insurance company, often conflict.

COC believes that people who have a history of thinking and feeling outside the box that society considers "normal" have much to offer the world, if only we could reach across the divide and begin to talk to and learn from them.

Documentary Film

Alice Maher, M.D. and Lois Oppenheim, Ph.D, in collaboration with filmmaker Anne Makepeace, are developing a documentary film on mental health that will invite the audience to examine this complex problem from new perspectives. (More to come.)

The Entitlement Project

COC is developing a jobs program and campaign tentatively named The Entitlement Project, because people with mental disorders are “entitled” to more than government benefits in exchange for marginalization. The project will market this message:  If you’re receiving government benefits, remember that other people’s money is used to support you. We don’t mind if you truly can’t work, but if you can, please reconsider your lifestyle and try to find a job –as impossible as that may seem. If you’re hiring, consider interviewing people with a spotty or nonexistent work record. Invite them to speak openly and honestly about their histories, needs, strengths and weaknesses, and be honest about what you need and can accommodate. Take the risk of hiring them on a trial basis. Businesses who successfully usher people from the ranks of the unemployable will obtain free advertising on COC’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

In addition, we hope to develop a web-based community and clearinghouse that brings together employers and jobseekers, provides information, education and support to aid entry into the job market, and assists businesses in expanding their hiring practices. We will reach out to existing jobs program and invite them to add the COC vision to their mission statements. We seek grants and private funding to enable us to hire some of these individuals ourselves, initiate our public relations campaign and begin to make connections between potential employees and employers.