Robin Murray – 100 Years of Schizophrenia: Is This Enough?

March 25, 2013

Robin Murray, a Scottish psychiatrist and professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College in London presents his keynote “100 Years of Schizophrenia – Is This Enough?” at the 2012 Hearing Voices World Congress in Cardiff, Wales.

Murray is part of The Psychosis Research Group, one of the largest outside the United States. It uses a range of methods to improve understanding and treatment of psychotic illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. For the decade from 1997 to 2007, Murray was ranked as the 8th most influential researcher in psychiatry by Thomson Reuters’ Science Watch and 3rd in schizophrenia research. This is latest in a series of conference presentations which will be featured on MadinAmerica.com

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26 thoughts on “Robin Murray – 100 Years of Schizophrenia: Is This Enough?

    • I listened to Robin Murray’s lecture with genuine interest and pleasure. Among the things he says, there are things which are completely contrary to the prevailing image of “schizophrenia” and “mental illness”, and I do appreciate it very much.

      Let us not forget that plenty of people are still convinced that “schizophrenia” exists and is a horrifying, uncurable, devastating illness. Shortly after my diagnosis of “paranoid schizophrenia”, I was reading this http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/schizophrenia/symptoms.html and felt a tinge of horror when I came across the words: “Typically, patients develop considerable cognitive dysfunction (disordered thinking) within the first 4 – 5 years of the onset of psychotic symptoms. Some evidence indicates that the physical disease process in schizophrenia is progressive, as with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.” This claim appears on the website of one of the most influential newspapers in the world !

      Murray emphasizes that there is a continuum between “sanity” and “psychosis”. I live in a country (Poland) where the vast majority of people diagnosed with schizophrenia firmly believe that they are, and will forever be, “mentally ill”, and often feel inferior to “normal” people. Murray’s idea of a continuum may be, therefore, very uplifting to many people.

    • Ha! Those were exactly my thoughts at the congress. Why I left the room after the first couple of minutes. I tried to go back in about half-way through the talk, and all I heard was “dopamine, dopamine, too much dopamine”, so, turned around and left again. — I did watch the entire talk here, from the somewhat more “safe” position of sitting in front of a computer screen.

      Sadly, I think, Murray has a lot of experience of being with people who have unusual thoughts. But prejudice, yes, has probably more or less always made it impossible for him to recognize his own prejudice that “delusions”, “hallucinations”, and “psychosis” as in “meaningless madness” actually does exist, for what it is, i.e. no less “delusional” than George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s beliefs about Iraq, or whatever belief he, on the basis of his own prejudice, has decided to be “delusional” in any labeled person.

      To me the most disturbing about this talk is that it is given in front of an audience whose main conviction, and Murray can impossibly have been ignorant of the fact, is that whatever the experience, whatever the belief, it’s never a sign of “meaningless madness”, while Murray doesn’t touch on this obvious and decisive difference of belief with one word, but, simply by completely ignoring the different belief of his audience, adamantly insists on his own belief to be the one and only truth. In Murray’s own understanding: too much dopamine, anybody?

      • Thanks! I feel less alone now. It’s a disgrace that someone who proclaims to be interested in people knows so little about their views.

        Ignorance and arrogance rolled up together is what we have here. I’m revolted by the man but knowing that other people see him for what he is helps a lot….

      • Marian, I can assure you that hallucinations do exist and can be extremely distressing. I suffered a lot because of such (very vivid) auditory hallucinations for about a month. I was often literally terrified, there were some nights when I was unable to sleep and my behaviour sometimes had highly unpleasant consequences. I am very happy that I no longer hallucinate. At the same time, just like you, I think that there is no such thing as “meaningless madness”.

        Sadly, I think, Murray has a lot of experience of being with people who have unusual thoughts. But prejudice, yes, has probably more or less always made it impossible for him to recognize his own prejudice that “delusions”, “hallucinations”, and “psychosis” as in “meaningless madness” actually does exist, for what it is, i.e. no less “delusional” than George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s beliefs about Iraq, or whatever belief he, on the basis of his own prejudice, has decided to be “delusional” in any labeled person.

        To me the most disturbing about this talk is that it is given in front of an audience whose main conviction, and Murray can impossibly have been ignorant of the fact, is that whatever the experience, whatever the belief, it’s never a sign of “meaningless madness”, while Murray doesn’t touch on this obvious and decisive difference of belief with one word, but, simply by completely ignoring the different belief of his audience, adamantly insists on his own belief to be the one and only truth. In Murray’s own understanding: too much dopamine, anybody?

        • Joanna, me too, I’ve had the experiences that psychiatry calls “hallucinations”. So I don’t deny their existence. Which I’m strongly opposed to, both on the basis of my own lived experience and on the basis of working with others who experience among other things “hallucinations”, is psychiatry’s medicalization of these experiences. “Hallucination” is a pseudo-medical term that intends to turn a perfectly healthy and understandable reaction to life into a symptom of illness. I always encourage people to let go of this pseudo-medical, utterly alienating lingo, and to describe their experience in their very own words.

          • Also, Joanna, these experiences can be extremely distressing, yes. But most, if not all of the distress isn’t caused by the experience itself, but by not understanding it, and consequently not knowing how to deal with it. It’s kind of a law of nature that whatever it is which we don’t understand causes us distress. Without the distress there would be no reason for us to make an effort and try to come to an understanding of whatever challenge we face. And without that effort we’d all remain at kindergarten level in terms of our personal, emotional development, and we’d never learn how to navigate life.

          • Marian what you have said about the not understanding the experiences causing distress is so true. While I have not experienced hallucinations, my emotional reactions to things, labelled as symptoms of mental illness, where distressing because I did not understand them.

            I would also say that the systems response to the symptoms we are displaying is also a massive problem. One is usually locked up, heavily drugged on medications that cause horrendous side effects, are told they have a life long brain disease and will never recover. They are also forbidden from talking about what is happening for them, and instead told they are just useless thoughts and beliefs and need to be ignored. These things cause as much if not more distress than the most distressing of symptoms can ever cause.

            That does not mean that many of these symptoms cannot be incredibly terrifying, but I know for myself, that when I was able to view my experiences as normal reactions to horrifying experiences I coped much better than when I thought I had an out of control life long brain disease. When I was able to communicate the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing and not just have them pushed aside, I also coped significantly better and was able to move past them. I could not move past them, when I was told I just had to think differently or was drugged up so I could not express them.

          • Belinda, “I would also say that the systems response to the symptoms we are displaying is also a massive problem.” Exactly. The system’s response is an entirely fear-based one. If you’re already more than terrified and at a loss of what’s going on, it certainly is of no help that you’re met with even more fear and an even more profound lack of understanding. Our society has appointed the people most afraid of, and therefor least capable of and willing to understand extreme states of consciousness to work with people experiencing these states. That’s a foolproof recipe for disaster.

  1. OK. Summoned up the courage to have a look. Some of it is so childish and naive that it’s hard to believe that he has much experience of being with people who have unusual thoughts at all.

    All his prejudiced and frankly silly ideas come tumbling out…

    He also tells some outright lies about his schizophrenia commission work…lies by omission.

    Just laughable….laughable….

  2. Marian,

    I agree with you, Murray is over-the-top (gaga), in love with the dopamine hypothesis – especially, in this video. He takes an unbearably simplistic/reductionist position, which can tend to confuse cause and effect and which *cannot* possibly explain or clarify *most* of the realities behind whatever is called “schizophrenia”; he runs with that dopamine theory in a way that I find, at best, terribly grating.

    Hence, I quite understand the initial reaction you had to sitting in, on Murray’s talk, at the congress. Had I been there, I would have walked out – for the very same reason. However…

    Regarding Theinarticulatepoet’s comparison of Murray, to Torrey…

    Theinarticulatepoet,

    Despite whatever criticisms I may have of Robbin Murray, I’ll *never* put him in the same class with E. Fuller Torrey (not even in jest). Probably, that comparison you made was made was somewhat less than serious? Thus, I should probably not make too much of it, but will say this much, in any case: Murray is *not* a ‘bad guy’ in my mind, nor do I consider him unintelligent.

    He apparently has much to learn, about the harms that are caused by the paradigm he supports; and, he *should* be held to task, in that way; but, he’s not the embodiment of all that is wrong with psychiatry, I feel (as is E. Fuller Torrey); in fact, I feel Murray is doing some considerable good. If/when you watch the video (above), see how he reflects on the state of ‘care’ in UK psych wards. He is offering a fairly serious critique, of the so-called “in-patient care” that’s provided by the (UK) ‘mental health care’ system, which he represents and which employs him.

    Of course, one could reasonably say that Murray does not go far enough, in critiquing psychiatry itself; truly, I feel he doesn’t go far enough that way; but, in my view, by studying how he points out the poor quality of ‘care’ that’s provided, in psychiatric “hospitals,” one can reasonably argue he’s effectively *warning* people against entering those places. (At least, I hear him as saying one should do ones best, to steer clear of such, so-called “hospitals” – and, most especially, those which are located in urban centers.) What’s more, he explains, in the video, that: he, personally, has *not* used the “schizophrenia” label, in his practice, for the past ten years. That’s really something worth noting, I feel.

    Could Murray eventually come around to seeing and fully appreciating the trauma-informed model of ‘mental health’ crises and human distress? Will he ever acknowledge the many *various* causes (including, but not limited to, psycho-social causes, abuse and/or dysfunctional family dynamics, etc.), which often lead to a perceived ‘psychosis’?

    As I far as I can tell (from listening to Murray, via videos and audio, found on the Web), he is actually a fairly thoughtful man, whose views have positively developed, across time – and whose views continue to develop. To me, he seems open to new views, potentially. (Note: he has done recent interviews in which he deliberately plays down that reductive, neurochemical explanation so-called “schizophrenia,” calling it a less than certain theory.) And, he does, I believe, have a heart. He has some real sympathy for people with the “schizophrenia” label, I think (if not necessarily a full understanding of them).

    Of course, this is all just my humble opinion, an impression drawn from watching and listening to him speak, online. While I conclude that, of course, he’s no more a saint than anyone in his field, he *does* have a heart – and is no fool, really; so, he’s no E. Fuller Torrey. (Oh, yes, I do view Torrey as a rather dense and decidedly ‘heartless’ man – in his work.)

    Murray is actually becoming something of a critic, of the harms, of his own system – but slowly; there is hope for him, I think; so, while he supports that most simplistic dopamine model, one does *not* find him attempting to make a name for himself, by pushing the CTO (‘community Treatment order’) method of keeping people drugged against their will. In fact, he does not appear to be doing anything that amounts to fear-mongering and/or to *actively* promoting coercion. (If someone finds I am wrong about that, please let me know.) This makes him *very* different from E. Fuller Torrey.

    [We well know: E. Fuller Torrey habitually focuses upon extreme violence that is *supposedly* caused by what he calls “serious mental illness”; he harps on this myth, that extreme violence tends to be the result of “serious mental illness” gone ‘untreated’ by psychopharmacology; and, he would love nothing more than to fully establish AOT (so-called, 'assisted outpatient treatment' - roughly the equivalent of CTO) throughout the United States, to coerce so called “out patients,” into being “compliant”. Torrey wants such nationwide, court-ordered misery to be his legacy; he would be proud of that; he's clearly bucking to be remembered as the Father of forced and coerced psychiatric 'treatments' in the U.S.. So, Torrey gladly (even gleefully) assumes an *adversarial* relationship toward all activist psychiatric survivors. (Indeed, such has been Torrey’s M.O., his Way – consistently – for decades.)]

    As far as I can tell, quite unlike Torrey, Murray is doing an amount of *listening* to survivors… (The Schizophrenia Commission Report, of 2012, was not *fully* inclusive of all views; and, it did not altogether shun the “schizophrenia” label; but, it did, specifically, emphasize those above-mentioned, terribly *poor* conditions in UK psych “hospitals”.)

    So… what I would like to know, about Murray, is this: would he be willing to condemn the CTO program?

    Given his lofty professional stature (e.g., as seen in his credentials, above and, additionally, in the fact that he’s been knighted, *Sir* Robbin Murray!), I believe he may be a good person to buck for an *end* to the CTO program.

    My ultimate point:

    Because I do feel that Robbin Murray has a heart and can listen to reason, if I were living in the UK, I’d be urging my fellow psychiatric survivors there, to kindly urge him, to, please, do the right thing, in these regards: take a clear stance *against* CTOs – especially, now that we see this study, which was (just yesterday) published in The Lancet, online: “Compulsory Supervision Does Not Reduce Hospital Re-Admissions.”

    That study concludes, “In well coordinated mental health services the imposition of compulsory supervision does not reduce the rate of readmission of psychotic patients. We found no support in terms of any reduction in overall hospital admission to justify the significant curtailment of patients’ personal liberty.”

    See: http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/03/compulsory-supervision-does-not-reduce-readmission/

    Because, here in the U.S., given our recent ‘mass-shooter’ gun violence, there’s so *much* fear-mongering lately, there’s far more mainstream media noise drowning out similar studies, regarding the equivalent U.S. ‘AOT’ programs; so, I am hoping the UK can set an example for the U.S. (and other countries).

    COT *should* be ended.

    Robbin Murray could be one to address this…

    Respectfully,

    ~Jonah

    • Jonah, while I appreciate your approach to Murray’s talk stressing what admittedly at first glance makes Murray look more open to a survivor’s perspective and like a moderate but nevertheless critic, IMO you’re missing a very important point.

      At the core of the human rights violations committed by the mh system isn’t the question whether there should be CTO, or not, whether there should be fewer or more “hospital” beds available, whether there should be fewer or more staff employed at psych “hospitals”, whether people should have access to CBT alongside the inevitable, dopamine-reducing drugs, or not, whether we should say “schizophrenia”, or rather “psychosis”, and so on, and so on. At the core of these violations is the assumption that there would be such a thing as meaningless madness, turning people’s experiences and beliefs into “hallucinations”, “delusions”, and other “symptoms” of the meaningless madness, thus completely and totally devaluing the beliefs and experiences and stripping the person of her humanity. Murray is pretty clear about where he stands concerning this one.

      Personally, I perceive Murray as far more “dangerous” than E. Fuller Torrey for instance, exactly because Murray, contrary to Torrey who at least shows his disrespect for survivors openly, manages to divert people’s attention from the fact that he does not respect people’s own definition of themselves and their experience by focusing on what we all can agree on, but what in fact also is of minor importance.

      • Marian,

        Wow. Great response!

        I agree with you in every way except one; at the end, you say you, ‘perceive Murray as far more “dangerous” than E. Fuller Torrey.’

        Frankly, I don’t perceive either one as more ‘dangerous’ than the other.

        Quite simply, I’ll *not* be one to judge who is supposedly the more “dangerous” of the two.

        (And, note: I never claimed to say who was more dangerous. I compared and contrasted them, to one another, in ways, never mentioning ‘dangerousness’ at all – but, rather, suggesting what I believe are their differing levels of intelligence and *relative* compassion.)

        In my view, it’s the psychiatrists who believe they can make judgments regarding ‘dangerousness’.

        They believe they can be the ultimate judges of human ‘dangerousness’; and, I will not emulate their behavior, if I can possibly avoid doing so.

        For, in their judging people ‘dangerous,’ they (i.e., the psychiatrists themselves) become terribly dangerous and, moreover, quite often, create self-fulfilling prophecies (e.g., by applying their ominous labels and their forced ‘treatments,’ psychiatrists drive more than a few so-called “patients” to destroying their own lives).

        I make no apologies for the human rights violators; and, every psychiatrist who participates in forced ‘treatment’ is a human rights violator…

        Meanwhile, in my view, there are some people in positions of high authority (even human rights violators) who can do considerable good – despite their doing harm in other ways.

        It happens all the time; just one good example: The President of my country (Barack Obama) is currently engaged in war crimes. Yet, he is not a fool; and, I do believe he has some ability to care for people; and, I do not hesitate to appeal to his humanity…

        So, while I will not hide my disgust for the way in which Robbin Murray negates the reality of millions, by forwarding his dopamine-hypothesis concepts regarding the *supposed* genesis and/or manifestation of so-called “schizophrenia” (and/or “psychosis”), I will express my hope that he can, nonetheless, do some good.

        In fact, I will appeal to his humanity (here, online, he could possibly receive my words).

        And, I do prefer to withhold my ultimate judgment of the man – because it does seem to me, that he has some willingness to listen, and there is some good I can picture him doing: He could help to end CTOs.

        If he does, by chance, see this comment, of mine, hopefully he would watch this 17 minute Youtube, titled, “Depot injection robs artist of her creativity” (and, I would urge him, by all means, to *carefully* read the uploader’s “About” notes, afterward):

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BBJBMXw7-fw

        Robbin Murray could possibly do much to hasten the end of such barbarity.

        CTOs (and, AOT in my country) are an abomination.

        In my view, it’s *not* unrealistic to imagine that I could be one, amongst many, who could successfully urge Robbin Murray to take a clear stand, opposing CTOs; and, if he did that, that would be good of him.

        I would say, “Thank you. That’s some good you did.”

        (And, perhaps, I’d go on, to suggest other good things he could do – with his established power and influence.)

        Now, I say, Thank You (Marian)! …for your great response (I love *everything* you say in that middle paragraph, which begins, “At the core of the human rights violations…”); it was/is a *brilliant* burst of passion!

        Respectfully,

        Jonah

        • Jonah,

          I appreciate your perspective. I can’t add much to what Marian has already said. I did mean whatever next. Fuller is a different kettle of fish. He owes his fame to a single large donor. Without that we would never have been likely to hear about him, he would just languish in obscurity. Murray on the other hand is a political operator. He is astute enough to temper his message depending on his audience. That’s how he has achieved his influential status. His knighthood is testament to the fact that he has jumped through every hoop the system has set for him with the grace of a greyhound chasing every last scooby snack the system has to offer.

          This act of changing his message to suit worked well in the good old days before the internet. See here how different he sounds when he thinks he is among friends. It reminds me of the infamous Mitt Romney fundraiser.
          http://vimeo.com/39691436

          At least now with the internet their is no hiding place for duplicitous careerists.

          To expect him to challenge the system in any meaningful way is really totally unrealistic. imo. Like any good bureaucrat who has scrambled their way to the top of the dung heap he will look back at the wreckage and shamefully try and paint himself in a good light while failing to accept his own complicity.

          The critical voice from within Psychiatry in the UK is provided by the http://www.criticalpsychiatry.co.uk/ network. At least one of the members http://www.madinamerica.com/author/pthomas/ occasionally writes here.

          Regarding CTO’s. I’ll just make the point that they have become part of the furniture in the UK. It used to be that when people who were detained in hospital went on leave they did so under section 117 of the mental health act. Now CTO’s have replaced that as the leave tool of choice. There are a substantial number of jobbing psychiatrists in the UK who recognize that their use is being abused and refuse to use them. Sir (lol) Murray is a creature of the system and establishment though, the chance that he would take a stand against them must be very slim.

          The CQC (care quality commission) regulates providers in the UK and has published some quite critical reports regarding the usage of CTO’s. Particularly the disproportionate use against black minority and other ethnic groups. However they don’t go as far as to challenge their underlying assumptions.

          http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/media/documents/cqc_mentalhealth_2011_12_main_final_web.pdf

          While I am a huge critic of the system in general their are things to be hopeful about. The voice of Robin Murray is not one of them though. He is a bio-bio-bio man to his paternalistic core. He can’t hide it, it just leaks out of him from every pore. The best we can hope from from him is that he retires and soon.

          I hope that hasn’t come across as to much of a personal attack. He is entitled to his view but I can’t think of him as a potential ally to the survivor movement. Like I say….there are reasons to be hopeful but he is not one of them.

      • Marian,

        Brilliant!

        imo Murray is so arrogant that I imagine that he doesn’t think for a moment that people from the survivor movement would be able to see through his thin rhetoric. He seems to have quite a low opinion of the people he deems in need of his so called help.

  3. I met Robin Murray in London at an event held by the Schizophrenia Commission – they were consulting people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, to find out our opinions. I too had high hopes for the man, and for the event. It was clear from the testimony of all those present that day that the label of schizophrenia was damaging, and posed a barrier to recovery. The summing up by Clare Gerada at the end of the day made that clear. I was devastated, therefore, when the Commission, chaired by Murray, failed to recommend a change of name for the condition.

    I heard Robin Murray speak at the Rethink Members Day event in Nottingham last November. He did criticise the system, although never his own part in it. He said a name change for the condition was perhaps on the cards, but ‘we are not ready yet’. It goes on. I don’t want to be unpleasant, but from what I heard that day, I really have no regard whatsover for him, or his opinions, any longer. I just watched the above video, and I honestly feel that, even though it was on my favourite subject – ‘schizophrenia’ – it was half an hour wasted.

    Fuller Torrey is obviously a menace – I called my memoir ‘Surviving Schizophrenia’ in the hope that people seaching the net for his work might find my book instead or as well as!

    I am reading Agnes’s Jacket by Gail Hornstein – now, there is a text worth its weight in gold. In just the first few pages I realised that this book was just wonderful. Hornstein writes of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, who ‘…insisted that schizophrenia was a condition of abject loneliness caused by early experiences of trauma that could, even in its most severe forms, be healed through relationship’. What more do we need to know?!

    • Louise,

      That is a brilliant and telling point about the name change. All they had to do was recommend a name change. It’s not as if the schizophrenia commission had the power to actually enact a change.

      So the fact that they could even bring themselves to recommend a change speaks volumes. They “recommended” lot’s of things, why not that???

      We know the answer, Rethink sponsored the report and the real name of Rethink as registered with the Charity Commission is The National Schizophrenia Fellowship. All becomes clear when we know that.

      Rethink was set up as and remains a carers charity. Again its paternalistic to its core.

      I’ll look up your book…sounds great!

  4. It’s free to download from Amazon Kindle today and tomorrow. Help yourself – and pass the word!

    I am a member of Rethink – and I actually run a weekly writing group for them (unpaid). I am frustrated by some things about the organistion – most specifically the fact that they are partly funded by drug company money. And as you say, they tend to represent carers more than sufferers.

    However, the people who I have met who work for them are kind and they do listen… I have hopes that over time attitudes will change, and I hope that by joining forces with Rethink I can hope to effect change from the inside.

    I would not encourage anybody with ‘the’ diagnosis to stick their necks out and own up to it – it took me twenty years to muster the courage to do so! One needs to be ready. But I have greatly benefited by ‘admitting’ to being a ‘schizophrenic’ – I am now free of the shame I once felt from being assigned such a label – I see it for the farce it is.

    I know there are thousands of others like me out there who have known how it feels to be completley ‘mad’ and who have subsequently recovered full health.

    As more people stand up to be counted, attitudes will surely change.

  5. Professor Sir Robin Murray was my psychiatrist. He is not the worst psychiatrist I have had. When I was at the NPU I had a terrible psychiatrist whom I will not name and she was actually above the then Professor Robin Murray. I was then allowed to transfer to Professor Robin Murray but as I had already been forced to take clozapine by the previous terrbile psychiatrist he was not able to take me off it and put me back on olanzapine which I could tolerate a lot better than the clozapine which made me feel suicidal. When I was finally discharged and became ill again a few years later my relative rang him up for advice and told her that “I did not display any schizophrenia” so what the hell was I doing on clozapine, I think it was because there was this consultant psychiatrist above him.

  6. Thanks Theinarticulatepoet for the link to Dr. Robin Murray’s talk ‘What Drives People Mad’ held at the and Mental Health Research Institute to as you quite rightly point out his people about 6 months prior to his talk at Intervoice. I was present at Intervoice so heard that talk ‘live’ however decided to listen to it again and to the one you linked to.
    It is clear we got a filtered version of the same talk held at the Neuroscience Research Institute where all talk of Schizophrenia as a genetic illness affecting dopamine in the brain was filtered out though not completely as it is difficult to hide ones spots completely. In the non-filtered version Dr. Murray starts his talk on the symptoms of schizophrenia using a patient case story and he introduces the person as a having schizophrenia. This of course is in glaring contrast to his comment at intervoice where he states he has not used that term for the last 10 years or so.
    However I don’t really want to comment so much on his talk I think it has been very well discussed here and I particularly liked your comment Marian March 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm which echoes many of my thoughts. What I think is more interesting is why he and his colleague the CBT psychologist Alison Brabban was there in the first place? For me the Hearing Voices Network’s purpose is a place of sanctuary and the right NOT to be defined within a narrow reductionistic biological paradigm. A paradigm where I and others can be labeled, negated and marginalized and worst of all be subjected to human rights abuses by a state sanctioned system which Dr. Robin Murry as the middle of the road affable psychiatrist represents?
    I had email correspondence after returning from the Intervoice conference but feel it is still relevant.
    Intervoice started out not so long ago as a big family meeting which rapidly grew but we have always had a sense of community, a sense of belonging and pride. This year was the first time I felt a change and the change is the professionals. (NOT those who are our true allies of course) We are now so big and powerful as an organization, we are generating an interest within traditional psychiatry. They are now interested in our way of working and helping each other, why do we think like we do? Who are we? What is it we do? But they come with an agenda wrapped up in pretty paper. You must conform to our way and then you will be truly accepted, we are not that far apart we will allow you to come in with us if you follow our rules etc. This was particularly evident not just with Dr. Murray, but also his colleague the CBT psychologist. She reduced what we do to help each other to – what we did was clearly not that far from the CBT they do every day. She did though, acknowledge emotions didn’t play too much role in CBT but could and should be more incorporated and I believe she said she would work at doing that.
    For most of us emotions is the key and our way of working absolutely involves emotions as trauma and abuse is present in most voice hearers lives. However it was her ‘we must conform’ to research praxis if we wish to prove that our methods work, that was galling, it was her talking about the vulnerability and stress model and genetics that was offensive, it was her assumption that we should cross over to her way of seeing rather than she joining our way of seeing and the whole aspect that we want to be an accepted part of psychiatry that worries me. For there she (and dr. Robin) was sitting in a room FULL of evidence that what we do works and works far, far better than psychiatry and CBT can ever dream of. Yet it was as if that evidence right before their very eyes was not visible, our voices not heard, our qualitative evidence irrelevant! For us to be seen, to be heard we must conform and prove to the likes of psychiatry that what we do works however it would be subject to the approval of psychiatric professionalism.
    Does any of this sound familiar?
    Why am I saying this… I guess because oppression and colonization is a very real threat and it is only recently our voices, which have always been there, are actually beginning to be heard. Our history is a history of silence and suffering and therefore when that is threatened we naturally react so strongly. For there was a big (planned) discussion with Alison afterwards, but not with Dr. Robin. Btw this is not a critique of them as people, it is what they represent. For they really do, as do most people working in conventional psychiatry, believe they are helping and that is perhaps the biggest human tragedy of all, for all.
    So back to my original question what was the purpose for inviting them?

    • I am delighted to see these points made, Olga.

      We (P.J. Moynihan and I) are in the final stages of preparing a video from what we shot at the conference, and our main goal is to try to capture these precise points. I wish we had gotten some peoples’ reactions to this talk, which would have made it possible for us to include the talk and those reactions in the video. But we did get the talk with Allison, and I feel we just manage to capture the points.

      Perhaps in the future, in the larger videos we intend to make, we will be able to include interviews that help to flesh out these points even further. But reading Olga’s comment makes me even more excited to get this video out; I feel it does, to some small extent, capture exactly the moment in history that Olga describes.

    • “(W)hat was the purpose for inviting them?” IMO, it was clearly an attempt by certain people in the HVN to whom the acceptance of mainstream psychiatry for some reason seems to mean more than the HVN as such, to brownnose mainstream psychiatry in hopes that mainstream psychiatry might deign to throw the HVN, or the people in question, a few crumbs (of influence and power) from its table.

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