Friday, March 24, 2023

Comments by Ute_M_Kraemer

Showing 95 of 95 comments.

  • I raise a critical voice with regards to Social Justice in Open Dialogue network therapy. One of my major inspirations being Paolo Freire. Freire described and explained how important dialogues are for respectful learning, whilst being clear that dialogue is insufficient and cannot be transformative without critical exploration of the unequal and unjust social conditions and power relations people live in (but that are partly silenced by dominating ideologies, normative idioms). This is necessary to plan transformative change.

    Forward to more recent times and situations of growing inequality gaps also in the partly post-industrialised and increasingly precariat producing countries of the global North. Wilkinson and Picket have provided us with a detailed and in depth analysis of how inequality – as structural injustice and power (abuse) relations distributed across social settings, families included – how inequality impedes health as well as other resources (and the lack thereof) differently across social (sub)groups as well as trans-generationally.

    In feminist research – but also in other critical social research – the detailed knowledge of how the personal (and intra-familiar) is political has been further developed under the new paradigm of intersectionalities. A paradigm that furthers the understanding of the workings of inequalities.

    Social Justice? I ask. I ask with little interest in floating signifiers, words or emotions when artificially separated from the contentious social realities they arise from and seek to name; therefore I am critical of postmodernist psycho-verbalism usually a privilege of ivory tower academics; a genealogy of word, association and emotion ‘games’ in therapeutic spaces raises many concerns about patriarchy and supremacy on the hidden agenda; feminists certainly have critiqued the hidden agenda of ‘malestream’ privilege-informed therapy.

    Social Justice? Official policy in OD is that people in families in crisis have all the resources – > cause we’re all human (assuming we’re all neoliberal too?). As a survivor of many injust and psychosocially destructive power effects (per example patriarchy in family, workplace, academia) I shall speak up against such a (be born from unanalysed privilege and its ignorance) ‘collective lie’ (Ignacio MartĂ­n-BarĂł). It seems an obvious aberration to pretend that people and families have all the resources. Such positive attitude therapy, that appears to mostly refer to its internal evaluations as relevant insight into ‘human and family resources’, inadvertently (and via the blind spot of privilege and patriarchy) hides inequalities. It consequently legitimises the prevailing but often silenced – apart from mad madness? or open resistance?- unjust und unfair power relations shot through all people’s lives but affecting them in extremely different ways.

    Paolo Freire would have spoken up too! Fortunately there are many critically engaged scholars and activists who have built much more detailed and robust critical knowledge from ongoing explorations of differently positioned people’s lives in diverse subgroups impacted by the matrixes of unequal power distribution and its severely unfair and often harmful effects.

    Very clearly described – and accessible – in the introduction and the chapter on empowerment in Patricia Hill Collins (freely available pdf) 2nd edition of Black Feminist Thought. As many others she exposes the complex societal manufacture of inequalities and injustice which lead to a hugely unfair distribution of social, educational, and psycho-relational resources.

    Something to seriously think about within the overwhelmingly white and privileged circles of OD therapy trainings and conferences – would be to finally start to analyse the silenced white privilege and even benevolent patriarchy that it normalises in times of roaring neoliberalism. Going into people’s home is not sufficient to change a therapeutic space that is traditionally created by white privileged therapists with mostly male seniors, to a space of psychological and social learning where unequal resources and histories are no longer silenced.

    We need a space where, in the contrary, those are actively explored. A space where a multi-perspective analysis of resources and needs – as Paolo Freire would have instigated, as it is already part of Intentional Peer Support work on world-view and unequal backgrounds. A multi-perspective of explorations of the issues created by unequal resources and power imbalances within and beyond families may call for developing new strategies and alliances with networks from the wider community or state organisation. Civil society networks responsive to the needs and empowering the desires of younger and older actors in families. These issues can’t be assumed family matters only, tout au contraire.

    If the positing of families as ‘closed networks owning all resources needed’ (family as such a central category of the neoliberal state) should be intended by the Open Dialogue approach, we would suggest that an analysis of using many less privileged families (or members) as subordinate players in multi-layered power constellations seems of urgency. Otherwise the marginalised families / members may fall prey to a rather disempowering ideology of therapeutic families ‘who can all they need’ and ‘have all they need’- after successsful therapeutic facilitation of distress towards a pretty mystifying, phenomenologically celebrated ‘presentification’ of ‘liveliness’. This cruelly plays into the politics of a neoliberal smokescreen of individual meritocracy – a lie in the face of ever more drastic inequality of resources needed for agency – and excuses the abolition of affirmative action for many disempowered people with little or near no resources.

    Paolo Freire, the knowledge built by various social groups at the margins of ‘manufacturing normal’, and Social Justice DEMAND that social power and resource injustices are explored and accounted for. Such is a necessary precondition for transformative prefiguration, and which can only be achieved through socially enlarged network dialogues as part of critical explorations of lives in unequal settings, in families, schools, workplaces, everywhere. Such is a precondition to build networks and alliances for meaningful learning and new collective forms empowerment – coming also from ‘beyond families’.

    Not a nice comment. No, it can’t be. Sometimes, as Paolo Freire knew as well as the collective action of psychiatric survivors, ‘the subaltern’ must speak when issues at the core of our marginalisation are being misrepresented, silenced or excluded by all or any of the psychiatric providers in power. It is not right but harmful to the more disempowered that privileged circles of family focused therapies are allowed to delegitimise and take away from us the ethical and social means to create more adequate responses, collective action and political claims making.

    In times of swelling inequality gaps and the co-optation of peer workers to foster happily thriving people – with a policy of disregard for many real resource inequalities pretty similar to the Open Dialogue principle that families have all the resources, should grow from present dialogues and dialogically create the best future all by themselves – it is urgent that some of us speak up. As I do here. To protest the mystification of families full of resources and ‘liveliness’ for everyone, and the simultaneous delegitimisation of the social harms and power inequalities, systemic marginalisation and precarisation that continue to impede our lives.

  • Nice. Nice and dangerous…

    The title announces diversity, but the article only contains the reflections of a friendly educated white privileged man. So much about the diversity issues ‘forgotten’. To me this kind of contributions is dangerous as it makes invisible the millions of people, even in US, for whom the ‘probability of a basically safe and good life’ is pretty mince.

    Working poor, living in extreme precarity, racist policing, cities that make it illegal to give food to homeless people… (no Jesus won’t knock on US house’s doors, but god is shareholder value, and godot is gone).

    For how many millions and millions the silent call to become a nice friendly privileged middle class person (in recovery? or what is this really about?) is impossible. Really, and intellectually, impossible for what millions of marginalised (and many of them mad) know differently.

    May be some distressed and marginalised people do (madly and clearly) articulate the trans-structural powers of dehumanisation and disappropriation and violence that constitute the other side of ‘normal’. The normal nice lazy and deceitful jargon of the colour-less, class-less, ‘normally’ well-off authors like Bassman.

    Do you see the walking dead on the other side of the coin of profit? or are they just normal injustices (and normal violences and oppressions) that do not hurt the white privileged bodies and balanced minds on clean cotton cushions in nice apartments or houses?

    Nice by way of exclusion, silencing and deceit?! The niceness of articles like this – of universal (haha) humanist (haha) clinical (haha) professions – should no longer look so nice?

    But I am afraid, I have to disappoint you, and say that I am not nice, rather I am mad and can’t forget. Not even want to forget the patterns of trans-generational violence, the aggressive baggage of fears, deceits, white man’s ‘morality’ turned into oppression/ repression and ruling lies which once blew up my mental/emotional/existencial reality: inviting madness. And I was from a pseudo-privileged family, where violence and injustice of WW2, where violence and injustice (legal) against women were normally silenced; leaving the aggressions the lies and the ghosts. Do you want to recover from the ghosts of history in the present – nonsense, the illusion of presence? That doesn’t even make sense.

    Now I am a once privileged, always white (the skin), (may be) woman writing. Am NOT one of the MILLIONS and millions and MILLIONS of (working, indepted) poor, homeless, imprisoned (most for poverty and racism related situations) people in the US.

    (Please let’s not even imagine that the friendly and nice lifestyle of the privileged in western ultra-modern countries is grounded in extreme exploitation and disappropriation of many people’s in the world, and theft and destruction of their habitat and complex cultures. Ms U, this is not within the philosophical frame of this post! Ms U (the ex-witch) disturbs the reader’s mind, don’t you change the focus and situatedness: the global South, really, who cares, we know that, extraction, theft, wars, terrorism, who we?)

    The focus was: please just recover, recovery is probable, last argument of the Bassman MiA blog. – Or what is this really about?

    Persuade ‘the reader’ that it’s probable and even aimed for to be/come a privileged but humble white person in recovery? They always pretend they are humble, not even acknowledge the daily luxuries they take take take… away. Well, there is something terribly wrong with the pseudo-consensus ‘recovery’ calling of the article. That does not even look at diversity.

    The millions of ignored and silenced people’s issues related to ‘diversity and injustice’ – can you turn on some good music please – stop the blurring of the white-line of privileged ‘recovery’, smiling in the conscience of a safe and well-off niceness.

    My anger and intellectual disappointment are not about the individual Bassman – it is about his narrative being that of privilege and pretense of normality, being the narrative of near all of western/ US psychology, being granted the nomal blindness in the daily light of their privilege. In contrast, ‘relative’ poverty within capitalism is a great teacher of pervasive dehumanisation, until one gets: it is not de-humanisation but de-privilegisation. Who lives in worse poverty may not be able to believe in the typical white privilege mask of ‘normality’ and ‘recovery’. Its UGLY ignorance of the injustices and thefts and real dehumanisations that the privileged ‘lifestyle’ is grounded in for their daily take take take it away, and niceness.

    Modern Psychiatry and Psychology have been and are part of the business of calling illness or deviance the mad and miserable consequences of historical and cultural patterns and powers of/in injustices and violences. But have always been and are much easier to ignore for white middle class folks: they own the humanist and friendly privilege to ignore the misery that feeds their lifestyles. This is why such writing as from Bassman and near all of white friendly privileged psych folks is dangerous – in not being dangerous. Why don’t they go mad, why are they not haunted by ghosts, why don’t they hear the wailing and barking of the erynnies? Why do so many applaud their nice and constant ignorance and silencing of the improbability of a ‘good life’ for millions and millions, not just in the US.

    Diversity should not be in the title – the pretense is sickening, the ignorance as suffocating as it’s dangerous. Makes me angry. And I know why. There is reasons I live and write with ghosts.

    Where are the voices of the ‘hidden unrecovered’? Not so nice?

  • This is very promising news indeed.
    For the sake of journalism, they are historically pretty wrong.
    Declaring a first is an interesting strategy.
    Built on what that needs be deligimised and forgotten?
    The many other firsts?
    Don’t people clearly remember the position of one of the most prominent ‘firsts’, Lauren Mosher, and what happened to his and colleagues soteria development and evaluation/s?
    As to non-psychiatric other ‘firsts’ – obviously they are none but inspired by bringing together strands of knowledges and practices in ‘creative’ ways – why are they silenced.
    Business strategies, UPS. Sociohistorically – and presently – untrue though.
    Or where is the ‘excellence’ enterprise for more cost effective (sorry) grassroots creative hybrids, from the people and that are closer to the people, like consumer operated services, icarus project networks, peer respites, alliances with other community groups to foster tolerance and living in diversity?
    May be we know that claims for excellency are not what is at the core of such organisations that want to be closer to the people they ‘work and socialise’, ‘exchange and practice’ with?
    Insofar as Open Dialogue would be de-psychiatrised and de-clinicised, as do Hearing Voices Groups, which don’t need be run/facilitated by mental health professionals, that would be exciting social development projects.
    As long as philosophies and practices are firmly grounded within psychiatric systems’ institutions and funding/billing, the functionally inÂŽherent degree of privilege and exclusion, as well as distance from not middle class people’s daily lives, will not bring neither cost effective no socially empowering and meaningful change.
    That’s a big one. I am aware.

  • I don’t even try to reflect on the multiple dimensions of how the emotional and the ental worlds of people constantly interact with what is happening to a person in the realities she inhabits – from this start the ground is perhaps a bit more shaky when it comes to the many experiences of ambiguous and conflicting nature – which can lead the complex mental and emotional worlds of folks to expand and crack upen into spheres that can be utterly overwhelming.
    It makes me cry out in pain and anger to read that the newest neoliberal response is to call for more ADAPTATION to and SELF MANAGEMENT … for folks trapped in the interferences and consequences of being a subordinate to enactments of socio-cultural, socio-political oppressions to less subtle abuses, disguised as glorious powers or mean rights of superiors, folks who often struggle for years until all of their survival adaptations break away … and the last hope for being good, self manage and ameliorate one’s strengths to make it to a better place… break under the despair of dark insight or failing escape …
    The more I read of such kinda stuff, that smells of functional sadism, the more I wonder why survivors fall for discourses that are treacherous and in denial of the darker moral and economic traps that, be it in disguise of the normality of patriarchy, racism, winners and loosers, create the weirdest entanglements of minds and emotions… with more or less visible crises.
    Adaptation & self management do little but add another layer of burden on those subordinate to conflicts of injustice that can reach points of becoming unbearable.
    As long as scientistic experts ride happy on their spectrum models … and use vocabulary that excuses and hides socio-political injustices, abuses, oppression … but now demands to be empowered to adapt the marketing versions of the normative injustice scenarios … so the silenced years of struggles, alienations, efforts to adapt to falseness of the folks whose minds find no more trustful ways to cope and overcome … can be silenced now on spectrums of a flat model world… and with the darkness in normality of abuse and oppression, gaslighting and bullying hidden … everyone who crashed must now forget their despair and dissent, and yet by into the new set of lies and false promises… of health as self management in the face of breakdown from years of manipulation and more or less subtle abuses and betrayals…
    Never mind if this reads crazy… the interminglings of so many disguises and lies, the complexity of betrayals and struggles to become the person that is better, reaches better goals before crashing again … now ridiculed and hidden away from orperationalised spectrums of cognitive emotional states … leaving the health industries new emperors to sell get-on with ‘symptoms’ and become versatile to no longer seeing the janus faces of betrayal and abuse, the superiors gained right to special treatments, we should have learned this, no more … here is to the flat spectrum world of win-win-deals for the keep-it-short-and-simple minded new self managers… no more calls for adaptation to unbearable betrayals and hopes to get out of there … as they just do not exist any longer in a win-win-world where everyone wins who self manages his days & strengths and is focused on growth and positive outcomes… it’s a beautiful flat spectrum world for all … and our epigenetics will certainly follow the positive resiliency build by the use of electronic psych-mates to self manage ‘psychotic symptoms’ as outlined in the spectrum video-animation…

  • Hi Tom,
    Thank you for another inspiring article on the recent developments of Open Dialogue in the United Kingdom. My name is Ute and I work with Nick (Putnam) in the partner project Open Dialogue UK.

    We are glad to announce the next international Open Dialogue conference in London on 2 February 2016 – with a special focus on new ways on working together, as per example, by including peers (team members with lived experience of mental distress).

    Please spread the work to all who support Open Dialogical Approaches internationally and are interested in moving it towards more openness and democracy:


    Our 2016 conference takes place on 2 February in London and brings together many of the leading developers of Open Dialogue internationally. Keynote speakers will be Jaakko Seikkula, one of the founders of the approach and Volkmar Aderhold and Petra Hohn, who have been leading the development of the approach in Germany and also in the Parachute Project in NYC. We are delighted to also welcome three key members of the Parachute Project team from New York, as well as members of the Peer supported Open Dialogue project in the UK.

    The conference includes a special focus on peer workers in PARACHUTE NYC and in the peer supported Open Dialogue in the NHS project. Peer worker Corrine Hendy, founding member of the Nottingham Open Dialogue group, will present on her experience as peer in the training for the NHS pilot. Experienced service user researcher Dr Sarah Carr, who will be a panellist at the conference, now also supports the development of the pilot trial for peer supported Open Dialogue in the NHS. It is a special pleasure that Leslie Nelson, a peer worker in the PARACHUTE NYC project, will speak about the peer experience in the PARACHUTE teams.

    We are delighted that Jacqui Dillon and Rachel Waddingham, two internationally acknowledged trainers and speakers from the Hearing Voices Network England, will be panellists on the day of the conference.

    As well as addressing the key themes of openness and democracy, the conference will provide a unique opportunity to get an overview of the current state of development relating to Open Dialogue nationally and internationally. There will also be a panel of leading clinicians/experts from a variety of backgrounds in the UK who will be reflecting on the presentations, including James Davies, Peter Kinderman, Anne Cooke, Sami Timimi and Julie Repper.

    We have a range of price points in the hope that everyone who wishes to attend will be able to, including group discounts and early bird rates:
    * Organisation Rate: ÂŁ110, ÂŁ125
    * Organisation Group Rate**: ÂŁ99, ÂŁ112.50*
    * Independent Practitioner Rate: ÂŁ75, ÂŁ85*
    * Student/Carer Rate: ÂŁ30, ÂŁ35*
    * Service User/Benefits Rate: ÂŁ20, ÂŁ25*

    Early Bird (until 30 Nov 2015)
    * Full Rate (from 1 Dec 2015)
    ** Group rates for 5 or more people

    For further details of the conference and to book places please visit our website by clicking here

    We would love to welcome you in London next February!
    With best wishes,

  • Dear Naasm

    I am very grateful for and moved by your experiences and insights into the roles of ‘transgenerational trauma”.

    It took me more than twenty years, of diverse therapies that would just not work, so that I found myself driven by necessity to explore family HIStory. Not my experiences of interpersonal aggressions, punishments, rejections (lost in a maze of hostile energies scenarios), but to reject all the ‘disordered personality’ figures that psych modern sciences offered to characterize ‘the perpetrator/s’ and the ‘victim/s’ (in my family).

    None of any of the psycho-diagnostic ‘disordered/disturbed selfs’ made any sense with regards to
    a/ my family members as personalities, who were else, more, deeper than any of their potential psychological ‘vignette’- disorder characters;
    and to b/ what had been fuelling so uncontrollably and aggressively, but consistently, the mistreatments and misperceptions that disrupted ‘everything’ within my family and the wider social reality – any possibility of shared meaning making.

    I turned, driven by a need to understand that something human must have happened in the ‘traumatisations’ (aggressions, rejections, negations of mental and emotional lived experience) where all got undermined and blown to pieces…

    After more than 20 years of ‘failed therapeis and psychiatrisations’ to the never to be spoken about earlier lives of my parent(s): lives and social realities I had never known. T

    he lives of ‘Kriegskinder’, the children of WW2. It was a historical journey through photographs and some historical documentaries, as my parents are dead for many years. I visited and reimagined the historical world and experiences of a child in the war, within the bombings of German cities. Of a child sent away to strangers on the countryside, where it was to survive, but haunted by fears of mum and dad, sibling or friends being killed in the terrible city bombings of WW2. Of a child who would go to primary school between the ruins, the invisible shadows of the dead ones buried in the huge piles of ruins where up to 70%, 80% of houses in some big cities had been bombed away, and the ghosts of the bodies in the ruins.

    It took me 25 years, after my so called ‘first psychotic break’ in my early twenties, to empathically imagine the horrors of a war-bombing child, and to be able to hold out my tortured souls hand to a fellow haunted boy that my father may have once been. If anything, it was the totalitarian horrors and brutalities of WW2 and the empathic resurrection of the child I had never known in my father, that created a REAL socio-historical and ‘contextualised’ meaning behind his aggressive, punishing, rejecting, negating ‘decision making’ behaviours.

    The child’s untold experiences of WW2 was something that no psychological scenarios of distorted persons/ psychologically faulty character structures and dynamics had never touched upon.

    The near a century old psycho-diagnostic theatre of obsessed, defective, driven by latent paranoia or overt hateful, self-defensive narcissism… mad or bad ‘disordered’ individuals – now seems like the nightmare of misguided psych sciences in the service of manipulation of ‘selfs’ to me. Psych sciences as technology and white middle classes manipulative games with ‘historical and social victims’ using movie-like fabrication of mad and bad characters.

    This modern scientism has totally illegimitised what had been seen as constitutive of human civilisations over eons: historical totalities, socio-historical values and contentious meaning-structures that people inherit, enact, are educated by as socially-positioned adult person (not a self!) with ancestral and social responsibilities in. What has happened over the 20th century, in particular, in addition to ever more horrifying war slaughters for trans-national economic, imperialist classes interests to declare history dead, and make an understanding of ‘man’ as a psychological actor (and victim) a scientific and popular reality?!

    Important questions arise from an ongoing learning quest through the mazes of historical realities with their wars, imperialisms, celebrations and silencing, negating of the victims (his/stories and realities) on a historical scale.

    I am deeply moved and immensely grateful to your account of socio-historical atrocities people survived before they became adults/parents … and that in my view opens, like my work, the door to the re-acknowledgement of the socio-historical powers that shape historical-cultural experience, and the expansive, circular, dialectic mental and psychic realities we experience.

    These, in my opinion, need be ”re-settled” into the socio-historical and structurally situated forces of cultural meaning making, not as individual endeavour of self-determination in an a-historical market-world; but as a trans-historical and collective task of making us historical subjects, aware of their collective practices and their socio-historical ‘power, privilege and oppression’ transformed in the present; to become fully humanised in the sense of per example Paolo Freire, or historico-politically Hannah Arendt (also her ‘banality of evil’).

    Looking forward to reading more from you, Naas, and from like minded socio-historically engaged, critical social psychologists, and in particular, from survivors of socio-historical oppressions reaching into the present.

    With kind regards

  • Hi Carina,

    Thank you for yet another engaged account of your ‘living organization’s’ shared practices, the openness to question the issues of social injustice not as ‘borderlands’ but as negations, oppression, exclusion, societal harms within wider groups of people. Even though it seems still be individuals harmed by the effects of structural oppression and negation who become guests in the families in the ‘living organization’.

    This may be due to the historical splitting between the treatment of ‘harmed individuals’ and – eventually (or not) – political measures to ameliorate social conditions, be it for economically, racially, trans-generationally marginalized sub-groups.

    A historical exception to this splitting between ‘therapy’ and ‘social politics’ sprang to my mind reading your above reflections and questions:
    The de-institutionalization of psychiatry in some regions in Northern Italy that became known and represented by the workings/writings of Franca and Franco Basaglia. The social processess unfolding in many steps in the development of ‘democratic psychiatry’ were/or became part of regional social politics.

    The diverse social groups engaged developed something else than a ‘mental health community’ in parallel to the regional communities, but reproductive processes in which different social actors and societal agents took part – exemplified by social cooperatives and the political will to create legal frameworks for these.

    It always stikes me that this – regionally restricted – societal inter-group relations and co-operative work changes had been brought about more by political action and a tradition of communist regional political powers than a usual narrower focus on the socialization of therapeutic relations and community allows to recognize.

    When I reflect on what different groups – therapeutic, communitarian, political – developed over many years – with Trieste as a kind of ‘centre’ of hope social and political action – I was and am being inspired and challenged to ‘understand’ these fundamental changes within the historical ‘context’ of the political struggles in Northern Italy. These social and political struggles are described in accounts of the history of worker co-operatives as related to the popularity and necessity of communist party groups in/from their long fight to resist fascism and its capitalists powerful agents in (northern) Italy.

    May be, I take a leap of faith here – but that may seem foolish, the overwhelming destructive powers of neo-liberalist unbridled turbo-capitalism in ever more corporocratic states, have re-produced historical moments in ever more regions where the oppressed, exploited, harmed, negated, abused majorities and radical leftiest, marxist or commune-ist political groups may rejoin in shared struggles for real societal and economic change.

    May be more of us are being forced to experience AND recognize that dispossessed, harmed, exploited groups (not just some particularly mad or breaking individuals), social solidarity bottom up and rightheous claims and fights for re-approprietion of ‘the commons’ and ‘co-operative economies’ are part of the same societal/intergroup dialectical struggles and transformations.

    Thus the splitting of ‘therapy’ and ‘political action’ can be revealed as an illusion that serves the re-production of capitalist service industries. In order to form alliances with ‘mass actors’ of real socio-historical change, one/the we’s/groups interested may indeed be inspired by history, from northern Italy plus many other regions.

    Over the last years I have come to no longer expect – and this is a reflective and a political standpoint – any meaningful societal change from re-groupings between/within corporocracy’s social/health/educational services or other industries. (Recycling, modernisation and expansion of global capitalism.)

    In order to build preconfigurative alternatives, imo (!), multiple groups of change agents need to come from righteously enraged and desperately hopeful groups of the marginalized people PLUS real allies who have decided to chose a commune-ist standpoint and join the struggle – as well as the ‘underground’ celebrations and parties.

    Squatting is a good thing to do, says David Harvey in a recent discussion: We should squat many more things and places. That is the nature of the radical and reflective standpoint I wish to highlight in times of upshooting corporocratic fascism.

    A long essay-ish comment grounded in long term work and praxis: seems I keep going to hit bottom. We are many down here – our realities don’t appear on tele or in tabloids. But we are many here…

    With warm wishes and radical honesty in solidarity,

  • Having reread Will’s blog in its entirety, I wish to correct my final statement.
    Follow the money in the sense of getting the government, that should work for the people and support the marginlaized, to pay is the right thing to do. This is hindered by scapegoating and excluding the marginalized in corrupted politics. A leading researcher in health services research in Britain has recently called the austerity cuts that eradicate up to 50% of social care services measures of social injustice and discrimination. This was a political statement.
    Nevertheless, I wanted to point out that the right demand for government funding of social care and respectful mental health care should highlight that this money is a means for solidarity, diversity, tolerance in the building of welcoming community collectives.
    Many activists since the 1960s and 1970s have turned the ‘vulnerabilities’ of people with mental health problems into more open minded and diverse, mutually supportive and creative abilities nourished in collaboration and acceptance of a huge range of sensibilities, awareness, sadness and mourning, as well as kindness and creativity.
    It is not just about claiming needed money, but about creating welcoming community collectives with a wide range of human connections and welcoming to offer – a contribution to communities.
    Imo, the predominant psychopathological framing and negative attitude against people with mental health problems overshadows the gifts in humanity, mutual care and support, kindness and creativity that tolerant survivor/peer collectives have to offer – to their neighborhoods.

  • Thank you Will,

    for formulating the issues of systematic oppression, exclusion, abuse inherent in unregulated corporocracy and its innumerable economic shock doctrines and destructions of the ‘common welfare’ and the guiding belief in ‘democracy’ and ‘social justice’. For some years I have been considering the priority of oppression, exclusion, abuse as sustained by structural violence and organisational managerialism as ‘fundamental causes’ of disconnect, dissociation, despair and suffering.

    Imo the psychiatrized gaze only focuses on the individual expression of the social, emotional, spiritual disconnect and the embodied terror. Rugged individualism forecloses that mind, spirit, emotions are always inter/dependant of social relatedness and collective co-living, co-enacting, co-thinking, co-believing. Martin Buber wrote that reality begins in meeting, Vygotsky described how mind is social, African wisdom knows that it takes a village to raise a child.

    I agree with Ted that much about the undermining of fundamental social trust and collaboration has been addressed by libertarian socialists, communists and anarchists, with some of the clearest writings done by Thomas Paine!, and has been elaborated to meet the challenges of unbridled feudo-capitalism by diverse social movements in the new millenium.

    In contrast to your opinion that validates ‘lived experience’ as individual expertise of suffering I have been saddened by but also challenge this ‘expertise’ which seems to nicely fit in the inherited and oppressive frameworks of individualist psy’ professionals illness frameworks. There is no liberation psychology in there, no awareness raising, as very rarely the real social shock doctrines, the abuse by more powerful ones and its socio-historical and structural embedding are addressed and exposed as the ‘agents of disconnect and shattering’ of the heart&mind robbed brutally of their necessary belonging to collective cultures.

    Indeed, imo, mad stories carry expertise as testimonies of social and systematic oppression, abuse and betrayal. Imo, who listens to people’s experience of madness as tales of extreme anti-social disconnect and harm that takes place in hierarchies of interpersonal hurt, aggression, rigidity, violence informed by historical and structural powers that be, who witnesses the antisocial violence and harm in all shattered stories of madness, is part of a bigger tale of socio-cultural expertise of the oppressed, abjected and abused.

    This has taken me on a long social road away from mentall illness as well as individualized recovery myths the corporate illness system so gladly incorporates.

    Perhaps there is only one single c/s/x book that I find firm ground in and that I can carry with inspiration from current social movements: Judi Chamberlin’s On Our Own. Rejecting oppressive and deceptive institutions, analysing how their deceit and power abuses work in systemic ways, but moving on to build collectives within the values and practices of libertarian socialism (Judi calls basic democracy).

    The way forward I do see is in clearly embracing the very values and collective practices which Judi Chamberlin describes as one of many current social movements who, more than just movening, claim a place in the commons as our structural and collective place.

    I will look out for a most inspiring reflection by Sascha Altman Dubrul to answer to the ironically challenging ‘go where the money is’. Certainly the money is not everything.


  • Dear Sarah,
    Thank you so much for exposing in clear words the ‘circus’ with the clownish ? entartainment part too-big-a-tent events can assign to psy survivors.
    The industries usual strategy for disempowering the creative and challenging smaller party; the role of a sweet buffon who, thus positioned, unintentionally feeds the big-tent’s interests. Interests that know little about the true nature of the smaller but innovative party (read consumer, survivor collectives).
    I am not holding my breath but actually share my anger about the sweet offer to share your story with the charitable reserved seat holders who are mistaken in believing that they give voice to the voiceless?!
    Becoming voiceless is far from becoming mindless. Much has been written about witnessing in groups of survivors where people share similar/comparable experiences and co-midwife emotions and words for what they have been through. With much of this not being fit for entertainement and recovery-beauty-contest or wellbeing leaflets.
    My point is that I am righteously angry that women and men who are activists, mutual supporters, writers, friends, mums/dads, etc., are being kindly invited to have the helpers for the seemingly voiceless tell or compile (and redact, edit) y/our stories. Which millenium? Whose stories? Whose socially relevant feelings, walks, collective creations, missions and visions?
    Voiceless? Rarely have the colored, the LGBTX, the bodily different, the homeless, the marginalized and the traumatized been voiceless when honestly welcomed by trustworthy peers. Another story: our emotions, our undergrounds, our visions, our words. No conformist sweet smile recovery or borrowing of voices to echo the values of the amalgamation of reserved seat holders in the big tent circus.
    Thank you for speaking for yourself and nourished from years of witnessing, sharing and activism with people who have walked the walk through psychological, emotional and social undergrounds, but who build new places by meeting between equals who share undergrounds and new ways of slowly developing solidarity, with smiles and with scars, with true claims for social justice.
    Kind wishes,

  • Thanks again Bonnie for exposing how psychiatry’s PR machine overrides any critical and meaningful discussion/debate on its ‘science status’ and ‘practices’.
    It is in this vein that I agree with Carina on the exclusion of societal, political and ‘philosophical’ – epistemological- issues.

    Remember the fundamental debates about the ‘ontological’ status of psychiatry’s neuro-biological claims over much of the 20th century, with figures as Heidegger, Sartre, other philosophers, even theological thinkers, challenging the mechanistic reductionism inherent in the scientific make up of psychiatry’s claims.

    With the 1990s decade of the brain and the leadership in science given to all neuronal, firmly rooted in the most simplistic positivism, the enculturated intellectual realm for serious debate seems to have been pushed out as ‘not scientific’. Circulous vitiosus indeed, or rat race, if one prefers.

    As this do-ability reductionism serves and supplies the machinations in power, not only in psychiatry, even the relevancy of ‘philosophical’ frameworks for human distress and mental experience seems lost, resulting in an Orwellian state-of-the-art in psychiatry’s ‘bio’-technical manoeuvres and manipulations. Which brings me back to the PR approach that seems to dominate and guide international psychiatric associations ‘selfie’-campaigns.

    Picking up any of the authors who demonstrated biology-environment inter-relatedness since early 20th century (Uexkull being famous), one does not even need sociology, practical and mental enactments of human part-taking in cultural, political and moral worlds, to clearly expose psychiatry’s neuro-reductionism as wrong.
    In my view, we urgently need all of the here-mentioned to reframe socio-psycho-mental – embodied, affective and intelligent – human experience; we need all of these ‘ingredients’ (factors) to support people in severe distress and fearful confusion, to collectively and politically provide ‘capabilities’ for people to lead socially-co-dependent as well as socially contributing, thus meaningful, lives.

    Not surprisingly these necessary ingredients of socialized human experience – be it in every day life or severe distress – are absent from the mechanisms and machinations of psychiatry’s neuro(cognitive) ‘evidence’ and ‘treatment’ schemata, which have left humanity behind and excluded personhood since the 1990s or longer. My consequence is to claim that 1990s onward (brain) psychiatry is invalid as autonomous science-discipline and harmful in its deduced practices.

  • Hi Carina,

    Sincere apologies, I am not able to explain why Open Dialogue in Social Networks is said to be an medical psychiatric treatment. I see not a single conceptual nor social nor practical familiarity/sameness with medical psychiatry and its neurogenetic hypothesis since Kraeplin and until DSM 5.

    What I learned is that R D Laing saw himself as a psychiatrist, whereas Cooper coined the expression anti-psychiatry which Laing rejected.
    Franco Basaglia literally invented community psychiatry – in the 1970s – and eventually kept the professional title of psychiatrist. Interesting enough Franca and Franco Basaglia were inspired by the philosophers Heidegger, Merleau Ponty (phenomenology) and Sartre (existencialism).
    We need keep in mind that multi-disciplinary discussions on the nature and politics of humanity and madness were part of scholarly, incl philosophical, thinking in the 1960s and 1970s.

    This is in stark contrast to the managerial preference of rigid experimental psychiatry and its modelling of mental aka brain diseases artificially reduced to causal pathways of neuro-chemical mechanisms dominant since the 1990s. Nowadays to support medical psychiatry is to support artificially construed mechanistic models of (human?) mental illness in a circular argument and thus to support harmful treatments based on these scientist assumptions – a categorial fallacy as I wrote above as no human experience nor mental capacities can never be reduced to neuronal functions.

    Just found an amazing short documentary on Franco Basaglia and the liberation of the mad from the institutions with English subtitles on youtube. This clearly shows what was then liberation in psychiatry has been subject to a terrible scientistic counter-revolution in the last 25 years. So the claim of psychiatry is not the same in the hopeful times of Laing and Basaglia as in today’s repressive scientific and politcal ‘climate’. (Climate is not the right English term, I mean political realities of neglect, exclusion and coercion legitimized by the institution of academic psychiatry, at least in US, UK, Germany…)

    Short documentary on Franco Basaglia – liberation of the mad from the mental institution – a wonderful historical and ethical reminder

    Warm wishes

  • Much appreciate Bob Whitaker’s clear arguments and wonder if they are arguments against psychiatry, that is for the abolition of psychiatry. I have stated the same point Eugene Epstein is making – in my words that psychiatry’s neuro-genetic-models of ‘mental’ diseases is a flawed science fiction and a categorial fallacy. I conclude that ‘treatments’ based on false neuro-imbalance- models, but also those rooted in articifial neuro-cognitivist schemata-models, can only do harm. Mind, emotions, beliefs, practices don’t and will never originate in ‘single brains’ nor ‘cognitive schemata’ and thus are not ‘treatable’ as ‘brain or neuro-cognitive diseases’.

    The classical psychiatric diseases have not just been observed in ‘institutions of depersonalizing neglect and oppression’, they have been shaped by their dehumanizing procedures, as Goffman described in Asylums. This is not to say people were not experiencing distress, despair, confusion, affectively altered mental states before their incarceration. It is to emphasize that the ‘total institution’s abuse and neglect’ was the abhorrent anti-relational and anti-social situation of abjection (Kristeva) that shaped classical psychiatric disorders with schizophrenia at it’s core/for.

    I just want to state clearly that there are no psychiatric severe and chronic mental disorders outside of hierachical psychiatric institutions of severe neglect and oppression. This is my strongest argument for the abolition of ALL medical psychiatry, I agree with Bonnie Burstow on the need of abolition.

    This leaves the social/societal and political obligation/responsibility for
    – Support for people overwhelmed by real social life problems and/or the consequences of abuse, violence, victimization, oppression, and, nowadays, severe relational neglect and isolation

    – ‘Eco-social alternatives’ that do actually work by providing a safe relational environment equal to ‘sane and supportive’ relationships, listening, dialogues AND ‘organic and respectful practices’, incl. making crafts, arts, music, care for animals, healing with/in nature:
    Open Dialogue in Social Networks and NAD, Bloom et al Sanctuary, Family Homes in Sweden, Healing Farms in the Netherlands, Bapu Trust in Pune/India, Recovery Learning Communties as in Western Massachusetts, Community Psychology in the Real World Groups as in England, and many more
    – Eco-Social Alternatives grounded in COLLECTIVE values and procedures of ‘democratic participation’ in shared responsibility in community groups (as named above) where EVERYONE is an equal person and takes and gives, as described first and famously by Judi Chamberlin in ‘On our own’

    – In contrast, known since the 1960’s/70’s, ALL hierarchical and categorizing/pathologizing/othering institutions, be them in hospitals, containing-houses for clinically produced chronic mentally harmed, or day centres’ run in controlling and belittling ways for the clinically produced hopeless and re-victimized, are prolonging re-victimization and dullness/helplessness,
    BUT some people as Lauren Mosher, Luc Ciompi with Soteria, E Podvoll
    with Windhorse, and, in my view, above all Franca and Franca Basaglia have been pioneers for allowing people to re-relate organically, socially AND practically in diverse communities they are part-takers in and part-givers to.

    Since the late 1980’s the Hearing Voices Movement and the Trialogue in German speaking countries, with NAD & Open Dialogue in Scandinavia have been creating respectful, participatory social meetings, exchanges with active contributions of ALL – be them seen as psychotic from the outside – participants. HVM, Trialogue, Open Dialogue have ‘proven’ that democratic collective gatherings with dialectic co-production of reflections on extreme experiences in lived social contexts are understandable, shareable and do provide education on human social souls predicaments and struggles. Understandable for all participants and in all people’s lives, incl. mental health professionals freed from their own psychiatric mental prisons.

    As Carina Hakansson writes, and I hereby wish to document, many people all over the world have been standing up and collectively created ‘sane and supportive’ spaces for co-being and collaboration, where each gives and takes with some initially confused or affectively highwired and some from the beginnings more relaxed in their ordinary lives.

    I conculde that we need different Psychosoicalcultural Sciences and use locally adequat, socially and relationally informed evaluation procedures and standards to document dispersed and relational, organic/embodied and practical co-healing and co-production of all participants over time, as Jaakko Seikkula and Tom Arnkil write in ‘Open Dialogues and Anticipations, Respecting Otherness in the Present Moment’, as feminist, disability, survivor and indigeneous researchers, engaged in community practices, have been documenting over more than 30 years, because we learn, revise, evaluate what, who and how matters only as socially and practically related and engaged ‘collectividuals’ (Anna Stetsenko, 2013).

  • Tootallbob,
    Thank you for the information about persons with experience of mental health problems on the board. It would strenghten the validity to have ‘consumer researchers’ participate as they bring the epistemological knowledge and have learned to critically appraise methodologies.

    I won’t do any name dropping here as I guess the board members have the opportunity to contact the ‘consumer researchers’ from the who have been publishing more widely. I understand it may take some time, however, at least in the UK, experienced ‘service user researchers’ have contributed significantly to shape the scope and interpretation of reviews, per example, by including ‘user/consumer research’ published in the grey literature and by informing the interpretation with knowledge rooted in and questions emerging from the lived experience of the treatments under review.

    Read some not so ironical comment by a medical researcher recently who discussed the prevalent ‘biases’ inherent in the ways research has been restricted to fit the neo-liberal agendas of universities with dependancy on industry grants and the peer review procedures being shaped by adoption of similar limited research questions, objectives and often study designs.

    An ‘honest reading’ is an interesting point of view and merits discussion. Bringing in stakeholders from different knowledge production backgrounds makes the question of ‘whose knowledge and interests’ have been legitimated as worth of ‘scientific’ study more tangible.

    With regards to research into the multiple effects of taking neuroleptic drugs, of course RCTs bring in a ‘biased’ focus as power calculation for one main outcome and who defines what this outcome is, there is need of more longitudinal studies, as the ones you’ll certainly critically appraise, and more so, qualitative research into the wide range of effects of taking neuroleptics and SSRIs and other medical drugs.

    Joanna Moncrieff from University College London has done some published pioneer work about consumers’/ users’ experiences of taking medical drugs for mental health issues. The other projects, smaller and bigger, I know about have not been published yet, but are consumer/user researcher led. An expert by experience psychologist from Denmark has done a literature review on studies into consumers experiences with neuroleptics, and found scandanlous few, to inform here qualitative exploration. There may be more out there, be them less recent or published in less ‘biomedical’ journals?!

    It would be great the board informed how consumers/users/experts by experience contribute to inform and shape the foci, re-analyses and interpretations undertaken of the studies being reviewed in the MiA Educational Online Courses.

  • Product
    ‘provide online courses’
    ‘by internationally recognized leaders on unbiased research’
    ‘regarding the short- and long-term effects of psychiatric medications,
    as well as alternative approaches to an over-reliance on pharmaceutical interventions’

    Does not exist. There is always social, professional, educational standpoints.
    Being explicit about the authors standpoint and values permits to situate what is presented
    with regards to authors from different standpoints.

    I assume the main goal of the new education project is the improvement of WHAT IN/ WITH people who experience severe emotional distress or unusual perceptions or beliefs.

    Therefore: Are people with personal experiences of severe distress and diverse experience-based education on biographies with extreme distress in a significant number (up to 50%) the experts who design and deliver the MIA online education?

    Are ‘experts by experience based education’ asked to co-select the range of relatively biased/ epistemologically located studies chosen for review?

    Are ‘experts by experience based education’ asked to analyse the hypothesis, design, data, interpretation, discussion and conclusions of selected studies?

    In the absence of participatory research on the experience of taking neuroleptic medication (I consider this absence a crime in oppressive and expert-biased education) are there being purposefully sampled focus groups held and the data interpreted by ‘experts by experience based education’, eventually alongside academic researchers not funded by pharma?

    For the online education on ‘alternatives’ is it being assured that priority is given to evaluations done of ‘consumer/survivor run projects’ and by ‘experts by experience based education’ or collaborative research projects?

    As long as the answer to my questions is NO, the academic or clinical experts seem to be doing their best to exclude the biased=situated and value based knowledge of ‘ex patients’ with insider and collective experience, of ‘experts by experience’ informed and designed knowledge production on what goes on and what is desired in support for learning and healing from severe distress and it’s many negative social, moral, legal, economic, vocational, educational, cultural etc: implications and consequences.

    Strictly academic or clinical experts b(i)ased – pls suggest a politically correct name for the exclusively dreamt up ‘validity’ of the pretended ‘unbiased’ education program offered.

    On behalf of the routinely excluded and silenced ‘experts by experience’, be them ‘clients’, activists, educators, authors, artists, film makers, ‘peer program’ leaders or ‘consumer/survivor researchers’. The invisible and silenced MADephant in the clinical and academic room.

    I wish I was retarded! Means: These practices of educational science fiction by exclusivist ‘medical elites’ about those silenced, labeled, stigmatized and excluded from knowledge production are never being to be produced on and by MiA.

    Apologies needed?

  • Dear Monica Cassini,
    Wholeheartedly agree with body and soul that dancing activates healing powers.

    I have a dream: Social dance lessons in the community to enhance embodied-ensouled empowerment in the fine felt nuances of shared-mirrored, mutually sensed movements in a common, peopled space: the dance floor. Especially for people who experienced abuse, neglect and te subsequent fading out of the mutually ensouled bodily-being (alive).

    Pierre Dulaine has developed social dance programmes for disempowered, marginalized youths in the US and one has even been adapted for practice in psych hospital and community in Switzerland. ‘Patients’ and ‘staff’ dance together!

    Take the lead… with chacha, samba, foxtrott, waltz … in fine, focused, flexible, fabulous dance-partner teams.

    I have this dream to come alive in community programmes for embodied mental health xxx

  • Thanks Steve for highlighting important barriers but also changes in social practices needed for a liberation from psychiatric oppression and social control to be replaced by collaborative action in rebuilding communities. Grassroots is an important ‘call’ here.

    In my view the politics of dispossession and socio-economic and socio-cultural injustices – with conventional healthcare being positioned in the mazes of these politics by its middle class history, values, education – need be adressed. There are politcal, human rights and capabilities reasons for the marginalized to have the right to claim for democratic funding for grass roots community building. As long as the people in power (?!) do not agree with that knowledge, practice, assets ownership are ‘rightfully’ in the hands of a mostly white elite – permissive of colored peers – in capitalist ideology of nation, ownership, elitism, patrichism, financial high stakes gambling, social and ecological destruction.

    The question of participation and shared action as well as responsability for all collectives of people concerned for me is a defintive starting point: with liberatory exploration, action and narratives beyond the current mental health/illness ideologies.

  • Dear Sinead,

    As long as many many groups are excluded and only stellar critical leaders are invited to discuss the reimagination of future mental health and communities, there can not be expected transformative change that is informed by the knowings of these excluded many many groups and people.

    It so happens that the leaders most often represent the practices and knowings of the privileged whereas ever more marginalized people are left devoiced, but paternalstically made decisions and created visions about. That is not ‘common visions that can only be build from grappling with the ‘social and psychological’ defeats caused exactly by culturally, socially, economically deeply injust politics and the crippling inequality gaps they produce.

    As soon as the video of Laura Delano’s talk will be made available, I will watch it, cause I am eager to learn what she shared and proposed.

    In contrast to you I do not see how a solidarity and ‘surreal’ vision and celebration of (whose) ‘victory’ can be meaningful as long as majorities of people are excluded. Wonder what is so difficult to grasp in here. And that does not want to make me celebrate cause it is exactly anti-democratic. How can I want to celebrate something like this?

    Gutter-class-belonging is a metaphor, as I rent a small room. I am only gutter-class with regards to the ‘normal community face-to-face meetings of the more wealthy’ – as there is lack of commons, at least in winter time, there are no places/rooms to meet up without having to pay for it. I would never have imagined how oppressive the blody capitalism is to poor people who are always excluded, had I kept with the lower middle class I had been born into. I would never have imagined how long is the road to not just hide in shame and blame oneself, but to speak up against injustice and exclusion – if I had not shared with other ‘loosers’, and reading critical books and learning about inwards turned oppression and silencing. So I am aware of my reasons to be worried about celebrations and conferences where a majority of people affected by the subjects under debate are excluded. And it is not a hazardeous happening who are the majorities excluded but whom is spoken for. Obviously I think it’s great at least Laura Delano was given the opportunity to speak out about survivors liberation and action. One project can not be expected in the midst of all the non survivor speakers to take on the claims and knowings and wishes of the majority excluded.

    It is rather disturbing that insistence on more knowing voices from the realities of survivors even needs be explained. Taking on the illusion that some stellar leaders really can create and envision on the basics of silencing and excluding the majorities of those deeply affected, seems totally narrow minded and prolong as well as legitimate, by celebration, socially injust practices.

    Strangely enough my proposal to think about the difficulty of caring for communitarian concepts – community projects would need be co-produced by the excluced or they only pretend to be communitarian – whilst enjoying the beneficts of limited ‘middle class’ and proper intellectially acceptable correctness and happiness was not taken up. Therefore the questions of how being allies and partners across different realities created by severe and corrupt political injustice is left silence. May be this question does not sit well with the repetition of the same injustice as in the governing politics of excluding the majorities affected by the debates.

    I am quite worried that I have contributed nothing new, but called for seeing the injustices created by such kind of conventions shaping and celebrating futures for those excluded. May be this kicks a bit of political and social reality awakening – cause surreal visions and celebrations don’t help but the partygoers (who was having eaten up by the debt needed to make to attend?, none? how sur-realities of the invisible ‘others’). At least proclaim it a closed group running politics of limited interests and narrow accountability. Building community is the wrong label and subject for such conventions.

  • Sinead, I am a critical psychiatric survivor and have shared reasons for why I see a clear need of getting more people from the gutter-class-community as active participators. To the comfort zone whom of us is supposed to come out of, I have none, this comes with being part of the working and volunteering poor (not poor in spirit). I do not need to apologize to Laura Delano, I do appreciate her workings, nevertheless I’am surprised she is even being suggested as having to represent ‘all’ psychiatric survivors. – I stated that true transformation can only happen when those who need it most are not only being heard but claim the power to contribute from different standpoints than well meaning professionals can. I think that working through difficult issues and standpoints in collectives of diverse people can yeald strong practices and strategies. However, how can priorities include change for those who need it most and have the intimate knowledge from resisting extreme difficulties but being failed by politics if the latter can’t contribute. I have just been to a peer congregation of organisations from very diverse ethnic backgrounds where it was very clear that the diverse experiences of marginalization and resistence and survival against all odds need be worked with. If these voices and knowings are silenced there will be business as usual, because of not knowing what the diverse needs are. And no I do not have amazing capabilities to go beyond recovery. Quite often I just try to keep up with difficult and contentious knowing, with listening to the people who most often feel persecuted and wothless because they have been made – speaking truth to power, the truth of the gutter-class-people I happen to belong to for many a reasons.

  • Appreciate a report from the ISEPP conference. I have been wondering also, why there was such a big focus on The Transition Town movement. I rather missed more info on ‘community building’. On Eutopies (B Burstow) where tensions in professional powers, power of academic education and psy professional status, in my view, needed be radically explored and challenged.

    People majorities in communities (urban, suburban, rural?!) seem to be ever more disenfranchized and empoverished (I refer to critical work done on the situation in the US). The dispossession and exploitation (no living wage etc) plus increase in pivate business containment (prison, policing) have been shown to be produced by neoliberal politics shaped by corporate interests.

    Therefore the overwhelming destruction of social and natural life needs be adressed, with psychiatric and paternalistic health care industries being part of the big business. I however vehemently disagree with the ‘finish line’ statements: we are all put ‘on the same level’ and do face ‘the same issues’. This is where global warming does not address socio-political, ecomomic, racist, gentrified, empoverished, emprisonned problems of severe injustices that produce many violences with a maority of victims and a minority of winners. It’s the illusionaly sameness in the face of death.

    A major difficulty for many mental healthcare professionals seems to be that they are trapped in privatized health business systems whereas many of them have social and communitarian concerns and values. But instead of pretenting to be all in the same boat, social justice must address how severe anti-social injustice and violence and victimization and moral corruption, betrayal and despair are politically produced – in the service of banking and business. How there are social tensions of power and status diversity in potential ‘transition communities’ that need be challenged if one wishes to use inspiration from Transition Towns for communitarian alternatives.

    As long as there is not an fair and representative fraction of survivors/consumers/advocates from all classes and margins, I agree with those who have pointed out that ISEPP is in danger of being a good will celebration of the well educated and well spoken academically qualified only. Nevertheless, I hope to contribute the reminder of the necessity of introducing social dialectics and tensions in dynamic-social thinking and life practices, to call for bringing together survivor/consumer activists, advocates, leaders, educators with mental healthcare professionals who, the latter, know why they need the formers’ real knowledges of many oppressions and resistences if really they want to build collectives for social justice – and not just share Utopias and Well Meaning declarations .

    Bonnie Burstow has addressed some of these issues in her talk on Eutopia (available online).

    Nevertheless there is a huge void, very diff from the invisible menace of global warming: the politics by and for corporocracy and against more social/ist politics for and by people, the politics of restructuration since the 1970s which killed many of the socialist, anarchist, communitarian movements and claims of the 1960s are not even being mentioned.

    Eventually the deeply injust social and professional positioning, different degrees and interdependences of dis/empowerment between the diverse professional and survivor/consumer actors and the oppressed, victimized and contained bodies (in prisons, by psychiatry) could be adressed through analyzing the differential impacts of health business and antisocial politics. The diverse actors may struggle and re-define roles and accountabilities for a communitarian ‘health and justice’ citizenship and therefore reclaim the crucial social functions of a welfare state.

    Having read the report, it seems that the threat of global warming is closer to the concerns of the ISEPP speakers than the historical and present every day struggles and knowings of the majorities in the margins, and many psychiatric (ex)patients belong to these groups.

  • Gratitude again to Philipp Hickey for another informative article based of independent and historical research.
    Appreciate the Reverend to remind us of the soul in psy-s.
    Nevertheless the sould has been annihilated: bio-neuro-techno-psychiatric chemical machinery or rationalised: psych-o-logy.
    The latter professions increase their warm up and take over from psychiatry in crisis – psychiatry subject to the categorical error of postulating neurological causes for mental and cultural productions of a different order: the cognivitists drawing from experiments and cognitive-schemata-modelling, another science fiction as modus operandum – are claiming power for the dressage of patients disturbed thought processes. CBT build on, wait, the PSYCHObiosocial models of human minds functioning.
    Even more dangerous than stupid old neuromythological psychiatry.
    Of course, the knowings of the people in mental and emotional and reallllll social and moral distressess NEED be excluded – as well as those of ‘spiritual healers’, reverends or other humble spiritual guides.

  • Thank you Justin Brown for this wonderfully written piece on Jailing of the Poor, Colored, Opposed or Extremely Passionate or Victimized.

    In the spirit of compassion and truth for liberation I wish to share the wonderful, wonderful passionate speech by Michelle Alexander: New Jim Crow convict under-caste – being wronged by most injust imprisonments.

    No, I am not willing to co-operate with the harmful ideology, pseudo-science, over-medication and coercion Allen Frances support for the ‘Murphy Bill’ is build on and includes. This, in my view, has nothing to do with waiting for psychiatry to become converts. Their knowledge base, methods to build it, concepts of severe distress as diseases excludes the break down of social and moral shared relations and values, the segregation, domination, abuse and betrayal in a brutal society for wealthy and educated profiteurs. Truth telling and social, psychological, moral understandings/readings of destinies in distress leads me to oppose neurogenetic psychiatry’s harmful myths and practices.

    Similar to Michelle Alexander I have been more and more able to face the truths of domination, oppression, abuse, rejection, segregation, psychoterror… in interpersonal relations, replicating procedural and structural social injustices, in the lives of people who respond to unbearable anti-social stresses with emotional and passionate confusion, despair, spiritual emergencies and resonance of persecution in the real world of inustice. It’s not ironic that institutional psychiatry, now to be extended to ‘the community’ perpetuates othering, oppression, threatening, devoicing, ‘zombeing’ and prison-like restraints, pathology-mind poisening , victimisation and stripping of human rights.

    The similarity of many abuses that Michelle Alexander challenges and exposes the explosion in incarceration with those in psychiatric ‘incare-ceration’ should be another wake up call.

  • Huge appreciation of Justin Brown’s politically, socially, legal-wise and existencially concise, and critically enlightening presentation!

    Wonder why people respond mostly to Dr Frances political beauty talk. Frances offers no considerations of the procedures and diagnostic inventions as well as de-personalizing interventions done by psychiatry, on no scientific nor humanistic foundations.

    Frances – softened and positionless mater discvourse – silences the voices of people in distress (de-personalization) and blames critical deconstruction of the apparatus of psychiatry as mere ideology. Were it exposure of an ideology in the sense of philosophical and political social sciences! But that kind of knowledge seems not available to post-positivists. So much about the flatness of critical social and scientific exploration by a leader of his/ a historically situated disciplin/ary. A disciplin/ary in crisis and state of exposure – as clearly and dialectically criticized by Justin Brown and others, from survivor activists to critical of Zeitgeist scholars.

    What would Eisenhower think? What he said in 1961 was:

    ‘In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. …

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.’

    … and of the military-industrial complex, as known.’

  • ‘Antipsychiatry theorizing… is a position on an institution — not a position on individuals. Advocates in no way deny that some people may be helped by their psychiatrist, just as some are helped by their priests. What antipsychiatry is maintaining rather is that psychiatry’s fundamental tenets and practices are insupportable — both epistemologically and morally.’

    Appreciate Bonnie Burstow’s clarifications of what Antipsychiatry is about: against what AND for what.

    I resume what I call the legal institution of psychiatry today as the biomedical-pharmaceutical-political complex. The rise and history of modern psychiatry has been analyzed famously by Foucault. The function and history of the ‘Asylums’ play a central role. Kraeplin and Bleueler have forged the paragons of psychiatric diseases in Asylum inmates. Goffmann has later scrutinized how the assumed ‘psychiatrically ill behaviors, especially ‘negative symptoms’ and ‘regression’, were adequat responses to institutionalisaton.

    In the 1960s and 1970s internationally big groups of anti-psychiatric-institution mh professionals rallied for, and in most western nations, often together with other democratic movements, achieved political abolition of asylum institutions and created what was called deinstitutionalisation and social psychiatry.

    In contrary to the US history of anti-psychiatry, in Europe inspirations came from humanistic psychology and from often radically socially positioned psy’ philosophers as, after Sartre, Guattari/Deleuze. The most famous anti-psychiatrists in the aboltion of asylum institutionalized psychiatry were Franco Basaglia and his wife in Italy creating participatory community spaces for the formerly incarcerated.

    Lauren Mosher’s Soteria which inspired per example famous Luc Ciompi was at least as important as RD Laing’s community house.

    I name these historic examples to recall that anti-psychiatrists in EUrope always had humanistic, socially/solidarian values and social democratic political and structural agendas and proects. They were against the asylum-medical-&-oppression psychiatry because and with the socially and community democratically rooted values, agendas, practical community programs they developed and politically faught for to become legalized.

    From a European viewpoint Sasz had very little influence, especially because of the acknowledgement of inustice and oppression suffered by inmates and therefore socio-political programs for social, psychological, collective and educational/vocational support needed, as rights, for those who had suffered injustice and severe forms of distress and isolation/coercion.

    Never, from a European perspective, have anti-psychiatry networks of mh professionals and philosophers been promoting a ‘normalisation of extreme distress’, oblitering its context of extreme social injustices, which some find disturbing with regard to Sasz. Always was the European anti-psychiatric institution movement motivated by
    a/ a relational and contextual appraoch to people suffering extreme distress
    b/ a clear exposure of the oppressive and debilitating impact of psychiatic institutional emprisonment, coercion and de-humanization of inmates
    c/the knowledge and vision of a totally different social, psychological, practical community support and integration for people experiencing extreme distress.

    What seems a challenge nowadays – apologies if I am wrong – is the lack of socio-political analysis of the functions of the biomedical-psychiatric-political complex with the legal extension of coerced treatment in the community. The new challenge in my view, but historically founded by Foucault, Deleuze/Guattari, is to analyze in parallel the criminalisation of the socially oppressed and empoverished, the criminalization and banning of the homeless, and the coercion of people with unusual behaviors and beliefs IN THE WHOLE TERRITORY of the states who have such legislations.

    Psychiatry as a legal and socio-political institution has become much more totatitarian – more fascist than in the times of the asylumns. We are faced with a biomedical pharmacautical legal complex that can be carachterized as part of a total oppressive politics, legislation and execution of diagnostic and de-personalizing/de-subectifying coercive powers – along with criminalization of the empoverished and homeless.

    Historically these total systems of top-down-politically endowed and legalized stigmatisation, control, oppression, emprisonment and silencing have been named fascist.

    Ask me wether I have doubts to be anti-fascist?
    Ask me, as Frances suggests, to be in between anti-fascist and fascist? That is not possible with a totalitarian system and apparatus: todays psychiatric-pharmaceutical-top-down-politics-of-coercion having become extended over the whole nation territory, and in the ‘private’ homes!, we are facing a total fascist system. With biologically and genetically flawed Jews, a non, that was nazi facism… todays scapegoats, see above, the brain-diseased and empoverished. For the brain diseased to be coerced ideolocigally and pharmaceutically there has never been no evicence. For the Jews to be genetically and biologically flawed there was never any evidence either.
    Ask me again?

    Of course a better world is possible!

  • A special thank to Frank Blankenship and Eugene Epstein for focusing on the imperialist commercialist sociopolitical power systems in which a super-minority class immorally rules and shapes oppressive living and work conditions on the majorities. Far to little attention is paid to what many in the ‘helping professions’ know for a long time: oppression, abuse, segregation function embedded in the larger exploitative ‘imperialist/colonialist’ proprietors’ political regiments and their propaganda of double-think, disappropriation, win-or-whip/e out practices. Mary Bolye and Jacqui Dillon from the UK, the critical/radical psychologists from USA, nearly ALL LAMIC critical psycholgists – in the tradition from Marx to Fanon – AND some of the survivor collectives all over the world address the issues of the im/moral violence of feudal-neo-imperialsm and its structuring legal, commercal and poltical forces as being detrimental to practical and moral healing from real distress and severe abuse and oppression. The question of property and power, the exploitative and socially destructive forms of appropriation, is the one hidden away. I always found it typical that psychiatry’s total oppressive power is closest to the military and all forms of inquisition: control and punish disobidience, even n distress and psychoaffactive uproar-in-conflicts-with-overwhelming oppression. In contrast to many Western leaders and thinkers of ‘self-ishness’ and ‘individuals freedom for the pursuit of property’ – in accordance with the values and poltical practces of the 1970s, 1980s survivor collectives and other liberation movements – in my view much more collective-democratic practices, co-operative properties, ideologies of fairness and sharing in mutual dependancy as well as in reciprocal socio-psycho-cultural capabilties are needed. Indeed, it is rugged imperialist exploitation and oppression, embellished in individualist ideology of ‘the Western winners take it all’, and their post-colonialist capitalist partners in exploitation and oppression.
    What I would wish for: that the immoral power abuses interforced within severe distress and affective uproar, mental wild-rides be exposed as dependent on the structural violences. Nevertheless psychiatry stepped in, historically, to transform was in Europe was known as social mass pauperism and despair problem, into pathologies of some neuro-nature, and pathologization and coercion are two sides of the same ‘sword’ (rather than coin). I am rather looking forward to same conceptual paper written by Jan Wallcraft and Kim Hopper about capabilities in social contexts the refuel concepts about empowering collectives in communties. That is pretty much steps in the direction of collective social and cultural change with legal and political implications. And there are amazing examples as the Bapu Trust in Pune/India or the West Mass Recovery Learning Community to live some of the collective capabilities building. This is to communicate hope and relevant alternative practices and not be stuck with anti-psychiatry and anti-imperialism only. Creating places of non-oppressive soldarity must not wait for an abolition of governing feudal imperialism, poltics of democratic betrayal, and their polices, military, media, prisons, psychiatric powers (all run in corporate interests). One of the truth we could tell, to replace the psychologists taking over formulation of people’s problems in de-politicised and de-cultured convinient cognitive-behavior-in-fixed-contexts ways, is the raising of the awareness of the oppressive and frightening and alienating (pseudo)moralities, betrayals and historical oppressions as they crucially interfere with severe distress and uproar of the dis/embodied, terrorized feelings, senses… in menacing and alienating realties. If it is power abuse that makes people go mad, certainly power abuse by whatever class of experts sustaining the abusive forces and hierarchies in power can not be liberation for solidarity. Of course not, the ideologies and practices are exactly the opposites, control, oppression, coercion, ideologic brain washing. That is why I don’t want psychiatry as a player in efforts of liberation in solidarity and fight for collective and interdepency informed rights. All psychiatry pushes goes against the main collective healing practices and solidarity values, as psychiatry – and I am afrait CBTpsy as well – is part of the imperialist powers named before and uses all their techniques and requirements.

  • Gratitude for all the thoughtful and philosophically / intellectually clear, nuanced, tensioned (dialectically reflective) comments and arguments provided by many commenters.

    Most (of us, survivors) keep a clear focus in asking: What is this psychiatric medical expertise that now calls for neo-graecist hermeneutics? What is this new disguise psychiatrists use to position themselves as experts in making meaning of an individuals distress, magically, ehm, hermeneutically re-inserted in social (con)texts so that it needs ‘medically trained’ psychiatric experts to bring hermeneutics higher knowledge to the poor(ly) educated ‘distressed or confused”patient’.

    ‘Our patients’, that what this is about. Make us uneducated sods believe in another magic of medically enhanced ‘art of interpretation’ to help the wildly agitated or confused, suffering mentally ill. The ‘introuvable’ ‘mental illness’, the trick that provides the power to all the oppressive psy systems dogmatic and treatment abuse – now elevated to patriarchical hermeneutics like with the christian missionaries?

    Would they refer to Socratic dialogues, very subversive and dialectic, of a man who did not elevate himself about the youth he was dialoging and co-thinking with, what a danger in the consequences in taking an equal standpoint with one’s partners in dialogue. Ah, but mental patients, they are to confused, to disturbed, they need hermeneutical guidance. Do they?

    Weren’t there the Our Bounty project where SMI labelled people were most apt at chatting with and listening to their equals, most being homeless people – to the huge surprise of the mh professionals these people were most humanely street smart and soci_able in social groups specific and nuanced lives’ rites and realities (academically purified to con-texts).

    Also, I assume, they were in no need of ‘hermeneutics from sophisticated doctors’ who could not make sense of daily realities as marks of the odeurs and ritualistic, very clever talk of people living in abject poverty in the streets. I much prefer social street workers and peers to ‘walk the walk’, know the ironies in seeming atrocies, who daily partake in the accentuated philosophy and silences of those in abject, oppressed or otherwise abused social-margin situations.

    The academic psychiatric beauty talk, needing little understandable philosophical references as authoratative footnotes, seems an exercise of well meaning, nevertheless ‘distant, directive, discursive’ manoevre.

    Not a single reference to the collective endeavours of lived, negotiated, warmhearted, inspired meetings of survivor peers, the wisdom of Deegan’s journey of a heartless heart, the radical democratic stance and collective practice of Judi Chamberlin’s On Our Own, the writings of a small German group of people with experience of extremely widened mindworlds who support each other without no professional intervention, the diverse, kind, intelligent and holistic practices in the West Mass Rec Learning Community, the importance of wamth, humour, heart and everyday practical support as reported from several African survivor organisations, the absolutely honest works of Shery Mead to claim back our extreme feelings, thoughts and troubles from the debilitating and alienating discurse of medical psychiatry, and many many many more.

    So that we stay patients in need of the dubious expertise of hermeneutically, verbosity affluent, necessary medically trained doctors who want to maintain psychiatry – even when abandoning the powerful concepts of diagnoses and mental illnessess and their myth of neurological causation. So that they keep the authoritarian power over the oppressed , now sophistically as well as biochemically controlled ‘poor patients’.

    Ethical and epistemological honesty, practical and social honesty – as a consequence of the interplay of moral, cultural, economic, social and intra-group oppressions and abuses found with people in extreme reactions to unbearable challenges and injustices – would lead to a clear standpoint: medical psychiatry and its harmful treatments were wrong.

    Who did ask for hermeneutically enhanced post-inquisition for a more sopisticated control of witches and perverse homosexuals, who did ask for post-colonialism build on the disappropriation of indigeneous people’s properties, lands, cultures, rights – the oppressors who were the winners and power holders.

    Why should psychiatric survivors wish to allie themselves with the maintainance of expertise of distant and rational academic doctors and their glass-class-castle philosophies and now ‘hermeneutics’ propaganda – lacking real critical engagement and the humble courage of fighting for better rights and opportunities together, hand in hand, with the abused, abjected and patientized.

    Hoping for new perspectives from survivors and some real allies – as Jan Wallcraft and Kim Hoppers to be published work on capabilities as rights and social practices. Knowing there are courageous survivor advocates, activists, researchers, educators, film makers and allies who engage in learning, supporting, working together in the midst of shameless and crying inustices and violent abuses of all sorts, unafraid of being engaged in social movements – because in reality there are no contexts, there are multi over- and multi-empowered social groups, practices, values and missions of liberation from and fight against inustices.

    Hermeneutics are artificial and bougeois intellectial exercises of the past two centuries, dominated and academically entertained by male and totally unengaged, individualistic philosophers and writers in their peer reviewed contexts.

    P&H – None of our, survivors and trustworthy, equality practising allies, critically engaged work, morally positioned in the oppressed patientized sub-classes, but hopefully more and more rich of warmhearted and tensioned solidarity to empower an ongoing ‘patient liberation movement’ from psychiatric oppression, social abjection, societal and moral injustices. To advocate for better housing, better education, healing from abuse and oppression with peers who have been there (and somehow do not need hermeneutics), to advocate for a glocally respected diversity of equalities and capabilities.

  • Excellent writing, Frank Blankenship. I wish I were a native English speaker* and could use the wings, forces, perspectives and nuances of linguistic elaborated ideas for the intellectual and philosophical education of our thinking, viewing, assuming as you can. (*in an English lanaguage blog only)

  • Answer to Frank Blankenship on September 24, 2014 at 9:59 am
    Apologies to post here as there is no reply function in the thread related to Frank’s post mentioned above.

    Issue was/is: Do we need alternatives to end coercive psychiatric practice.

    I had mentioned that for me psychiatric coercion includes
    – invalid diagnoses (that is the DSM III to 5 or ICD ones),
    – psychoeducation as training of chronic mental patients to apply the false diagnostic knowledge
    – psycho-‘treatments’ being indoctrinations deduced from sympom clusters elected by medical pseudo-experts or aberrant cognitive mechanisms isolated and construed by neuro-cognitive psych-scientists (all false knowlegde packaged in neuro-mechanism terminilogy – not any better than psychoanalytic mechanism homunculi of DSM I to II)

    I consider these, plus the harmful neuroleptic medications, and obvious enforced practices, as coercion.

    If all of these indoctrinations and enforced submissions into roles of mentally ill (sub)humans who are accused of enduring incapability of personal judgement and conduct were to be abolised and no alternatives offered, what than happened to despairing people or those changing mental genres of experiences and expression? Let them despair or err in fear of humanity and erased selfness (as often is consequence of abuse, severe and enduring neglect, oppression, victimization, extreme bullying etc)?

    In my opinion with alternatives as
    – open dialogical meetings in wider social networks and respectful humanistic listening, exploration, validation, re-collection of fragmented perceptions or dead emotionality etc.
    – respectful and acceptance based peer support and mutual listening and learning
    – healing practices for our soulful bodies
    – in respectful and relaxed multi-actor (multi wisdom) settings
    most people even in extreme despair or disturbance/extremely extravagant expression of ‘unacceptable’ experiences are offered ‘contact zones’ for human orientation, recollection, listening and learning, healing from shattered psychic and emotional to more relaxed and integrated psychic and emotional self-relatedness.

    Not offer any support as roughly described above to me would leave people in despair and distress, often as ‘shattered selves’ and ‘ghostly victimized’ shadows or persecuted existences.

    Therefore I want to practice and evaluate diverse and complex alternatives to be available – and to replace the psychiatric coercive treatments.

    In my view the experiences of psychiatric survivors, voice hearers, altered reality travellers have contributions to make to such alternatives from their sufferings and shatterings, as well as from the call-to-life or self-defense ingredients in voices, visions, altered reality states etc.

    I am certainly against coercion. I resumed my experience of medical psychiatry as modern inquisition with all the strategies used in inquisition.

    I found allies in the hearing voices movement, survivors, experts by experience, radical nurses, ‘transformed’ social psychiatrists as Marius Romme or few in other countries (European ones).

    I learn in voluntary collective peer support with other people experiencing periods of altered perceptions and beliefs. I learn to appreciate our mutual respect, care and our living alternative ‘knowledge’… I hope that this kind of learning and caring may help to broaden humanistic, ecological services offered.

    It is not compatible with my values to abolish all medical psychiatric coercion and indoctrination … but let people in distress and extreme perceptual vagancies alone – without offers of human reconnect to reconnect with shattered parts of themselves (over-simplified).

  • @Frank,
    Could you please re-formulate why you think it is sheer nonsense that we need have alternatives (different from psychiatric-pharma-industrial complex) in place so that coercive psychiatry can be outlawed.

    I am more practical on this issue and suggest we need alternatives – where people know that mental illness labels are harmful sham, and that psychoeducation being training to be chronic mental patients is most psycholigically iatrogenic.

    Alternatives which collectively practie narratives of mutual self-education, mutual care, exploration of mental diversity, respectful teaching and discussions of interpersonal trauma and the structural violence behind/within it, innovative dialogical support in reowning one’s unusual and extreme experiences as the Hearing Voices/Maastricht approach, support in healing body and mind practices (‘gardening’, walking in nature, yoga, meditation, music making, spoken word, dance etc), sharing values of solidarity with oppressed nature and oppressed humans in awareness raising as well as the ‘healing practices’.

    In my view alternatives need practice and PAR evaluation to create dissemination strategies showing that they actually support people in healing from structural and interpersonal violence and abuse through a variety of critical and open minded learning, healing, collective activity as mentioned (non exhaustive).

    My opinion is that such true alternatives can even show the vast capacities and resources of people with unusual experiences if learning and healing and creative awareness raising for liberation in solidarity are practised and ‘evaluated’ i.e. reflected upon their ‘healing and empowerment’ dynamics and values.

    For me practising and better understanding these alternatives demonstrates survivor knowledge in collective practice and wisdom and thereby exposes the iatrogenic harmfulness and falseness of coercive psychiatry.

    PS I am not from the US but a German survivor, anthropologist, MSc student for survivor research and peer support sharer in the Hearing Voices Network London. I do not see how deepening a divide between the ‘SAMSHA supported Alternatives’ or/and the NEC and the suggested new movement with its valuable criticism of coercive pharma-psychiatry will promote alternatives. Read me within the INTAR spirit, alternatives and alliances.

  • Hi B and seventhsense,

    Glad to read your recent suggestions about survivor peer networking with the ones who work in conventional agencies.

    I am troubled when I learn peer support workers receive supervision or mentoring only be conventional staff; how can they possibly sustain the lived attitude and values of being a peer and offering contact for building mutuality if they are totally immersed in a conventional mh treatment ‘culture’?

    Meeting up with independant survivor peer acticists and workers I see as a necessary personal and collective ‘nurture’ most needed by peers working within mh provider hierarchies and medical work ‘cultures’.

    Thanks for the emphasis on this ‘vital’ issue of survivor peer networking.

  • Thank you, Winifred, for your kind words. Totally get you-tube 😉 A tresor of inspiring and informative lectures and keynotes ‘out there’.

    Here is a link to a presentation by a user researcher about peer support in mental health agencies. Excellent user led study. Important difference when research is conducted from the standpoint of an ‘expert by lived and work experiences’ in PSW.

    Peer support in mental health: an exploratory study of PHaMs in Victoria (2013)

  • Wish to add my stance on psychiatric diagnoses and mental illness, to clarify my difference from Larry Davidson’s view on how much ‘psychiatric treatment’ is being needed.

    On the ‘consumers’ choice of having a mental illness and being in need of psychiatric treatment – it is all done with smoke and mirrors, double think, alienation and coercion.

    What I wish to highlight is the unfairness of presenting the state of affairs as being one where the person with changed perceptions and energies had any choice of how to interprete them. In the general culture the knowledge of how oppressive, abusive relations disrupt and distort one’s bodily, emotional being in the social and socialized values world, the turning ghostly of the self and others, the interference of many troubling perceptions, are not available.

    (One may no longer wonder why, as we all shall believe that we just individually need thrive for happyness, power abuse all over the westernized ‘free world’, nay, go ‘consumer’, and the poor shall watch ‘Keeping up with the Kardishians’. If they are not going mad, damned, shut them the f/p.)

    The first framing people in distress, altered ways to experience themselves and the world, are exposed to nearly always is the one of biopsychiatric mental illness diagnosis, prognosis and drugging with neuroleptics. There is scientific and legal power given to this false and harmful knowledge from manipulated, ‘evidence based’ drug trials and neurochemical interpretations, diagnostic ‘fables’ voted by psychiatric guilds in hidden meetings, re-injected in the technical science fiction of studies designed by people with no experience of altered affective&mental realities (apart from falling in love, the terror of being in a car accident, loosing a child and one’s soul with it, etc., which should be enough to forget about ‘normatized daily functioning’ of white middle class men, bureaucrats and consultants only, as sole standard of human experience and habits).

    The legalized and scientized powers behind the psychiatric diagnoses and treatment are the medical institutions and representatives a person in some extreme condition, thus confused or agitated, encounters as ‘expert helpers’. The person being ‘naive’ and in a ‘confused’ state, meets up with the doctors trusting their ‘expertise’. She has no idea of the falseness of the whole ‘enterprise’ and thus many ‘patients’ first believe that they really have a mental illness (‘broken brain’, ‘chemical imbalance’). So people in distress or agitation are lied to and given harmful treatments, followed by psychoeducation on how to be a schizophrenic or bipolar patient for the rest of their lifes in self-surveillance of mental illness prodrome or symptoms.

    This is actually most similar to early modern times ‘witchhunts’ and other inquisition, most similar alliances of governing power elites, institutions, norms, legislation and ‘treatment’, persecution, harm, terror, even murder. But under the guise of science fiction and neuromythology the neophyte is made to trust and believe the medical and legal experts. Therefore it is not about the person in extreme agitation or confusion or the impact of unusual beliefs having any choice.

    It is about exposing the criminality of the psychiatric diagnoses and mal-treatment system. About exposing that biopsychiatry defines and executes modern witchhunt, terror and ‘soulmurder’. Only if this is done for the general public, would it be correct to state that people becoming confused, agitated, experiencing distorted selves and altered realities have a choice to believe:
    – wether they struggle with the embodied, affective and mental consequences of abuse, repression, exclusion, social abjection or
    – they believe to have a ‘broken brain’ or other mental disease/disorder/illness, with no unique/specific neuro-hormonal processes or bio-markers to qualify any.

    For the time being it is highly unfair to talk as if the ‘neophyte in psychiatry’ had any choice what to believe. And those of us who have been in the psychiatric system know what happens if one protests and resists their diagnoses and other assessments, alarmed by the negation and distorsion of ones’ experiences. Coercion, forced treatment, ‘legal guardian’, never ending re-definition of ones’ thoughts, feelings, beliefs in the most brutal and harmful ways as symptoms of mental illness. Vicious circle of power abuse. It is like inquisition and witchhunt and needs be exposed as the same brutal institutionalized, legalized and, nowadays, pseudo-scientized terror.

  • Beautifully written and most needed humane words with understandable meanings – for severe distress as despair and desparation, for altered affective and perceptive experiences as extremes of spiritual and symbolic, challenging and alerting explosion of wider meanings/processes of the soul, heart and mind.

    What I wish to highlight, however, is the unfairness of presenting the state of affairs as beng one where the person with changed perceptions and energies had any choice of how to interprete them. In the general culture the knowledge of how oppressive, abusive relations disrupt and distort bodily, emotional being in the social world, the turning ghostly of the self and others, the inference of many troubling perceptions, are not available.

    The first framing people in distress, altered ways to experience themselves and the world, are exposed to nearly always is the one of biopsychiatric mental illness diagnosis, prognosis and drugging with neuroleptics. There is scientific and legal power given to this fraudulant and harmful knowledge gained in ‘evidence based’ drug trials, voted by psychiatric guilds in hidden meetings, reinjected in the technical science fiction of studies designed by people with no experience of altered affective&mental realities (apart from falling in love, the terroer of being in a car accident, etc. which should be enough to forget about ‘normative daily functioning as sole standard).

    The legalized and scientized powers behind the psychiatric diagnoses and treatment are the medical institutions and representatives a person in some extreme condition, thus confused or agitated, encounters. The person being ‘naive’ and in a ‘confused’ state, meets up with the doctors trusting their ‘expertise’. She has no idea of the falseness of the whole ‘enterprise’ and thus many ‘patients’ first believe that they really have a mental illness (‘broken brain’, ‘chemical imbalance’). So people in distress or agitation are lied to and given harmful treatments, also psychoeducation on how to be a schizophrenic or bipolar patient for the rest of their lifes in self-surveillance of mental illness prodrome or symptoms.

    This is actually most similar to early modern times ‘witchhunts’ and other inquisition, most similar alliances of governing power elites, institutions, norms, legislation and ‘treatment’, percecution, harm, terror, even murder. But under the guise of science fiction and neuromythology the neophyte is made to trust and belief the medical and legal experts. Therefore it is not about the person in extreme agitation or confusion or unnusual beliefs having any choice.

    It is about exposing the criminality of the psychiatric diagnoses and mal-treatment system. About exposing that biopsychiatry defines and executes modern witchhunt, terror and ‘soulmurder’. Only if this is done for the general public, would it be correct to state that people becoming confused, agitated, experiencing distorted selves and altered realities have a choice to believe

    – wether they struggle with the embodied, affective and mental consequences of abuse, repression, exclusion, social abjection or
    – they believe to have a ‘broken brain’ or other mental disease/disorder/illness, with no unique/specific neuro-hormonal processes or bio-markers to qualify any.

    For the time being it is highly unfair to talk as if the ‘neophyte in psychiatry’ had any choice what to belief. And those of us who have been in the psychiatric system know what happens if one protests and resists their diagnoses and other assessments, alarmed by the negation and distorsion of ones’ experiences. Coercion, forced treatment, ‘legal guardian’, never ending re-definition of ones thoughts, feelings, beliefs in the most brutal and harmful ways as symptoms of madness. It is the same as inquisition and witchhunt and needs be exposed as the same brutal institutionalized, legalized and pseudo-scientized terror.

  • Having read Larry Davidson’s papers for some time, I came to be curious about the honesty of his promotion and research into what people with experience of altered qualities of worldliness and their/our social and cultural, mostly repressive and abusive, life stories could most uniquely bring to radically change mental (and I wish emotional and culturally sensitive) mental health services.

    Today I discovered a talk Larry Davidson gave in 2013 which pretty much covers the whole challenge as formulated through his research and practice. No need to say that I do not share is ideas’ of ‘mental illness’. What I certainly do share is the deep engagement in how people with altered ways to expirience being in the world can transform support and care to be more fully humane.

    Here is the link to Larry Davidson’s 2013 presentation
    Larry Davidson – free public lecture at Melbourne University 1st July 2013
    The contribution to mental health reform by people who have experienced mental health challenges.

  • Thanks JM,
    Very important to hint at the vital importance of the lived dialogical experience in a peer support relationship. The emotional and emodied dynamics of mutuality are wider and deeper and ave more ‘space for play’ than linear writing easily captures.

    I agree with you emphasizing the basic difference between a mutual and a clinical relationsip. Nevertheless how to do active listening if one is the paid provider in mutual support is a central issue. In my view, it is important to sit with not knowing and giving soulful, attentive, respective, embodied listening space for the other to bring up her issues and orient herself in respect and trust ‘offered’.

    When the relationship becomes trusting and ‘fuller’ as well as more ‘natural’, and I appreciate you mentioning the qualities of embodied being there, than sharing from one’s feelings and experiences, being processed and at disposition of others, actually provides the vital nurturing of mutuality.

    I always found it strange that psychoanalysis pretends that the empty mirror of disengaged listening would be ideal for the ‘analysand’. I think we have learned for a century of diverse ‘healing’ relationships that there is a ‘dance’ of give and take in them. One person staying hidden behind a veil of silece is not the solution, may be appropriate in moments, but not as a principle.

    I think the clinical silence creates some kinda myth of unshareable expert knowledge whereas mutual peer support is about getting real in an evolving learning relationship where both have opportunities to give and take, to learn through sharing and exploring real lived issues and acknowledge their social and cultural habits and contexts, not just focus on individual psychological processes in an artificial clinical setting.

  • @seventhsense,
    Appreciate you point out wether the personal response by the intentionally relationship of trust ‘initiator’ may be intrusive and forcloses the sharing of the other peer’s issues and feelings. I remember I had very similar worries in reading some of the ‘active response’ examples in the IPS training manual.

    However, I refered to my practical experience and put the exchange into a lived situation of sharing and relating. Filling it with embodied and felt presence situates the answer to as a ‘nuanced gesture’ of building a real dialogical space of sharing in a relationship. I

    In my view the attitude of real respect of people’s difficult as well as resourceful life-‘stories’ shapes the responsive giving as a not intrusive and dominating one, seen in the lived processes of letting mutuality establish itself in a relationship. This needs, my opinion, an inner stance of always being humble, not judgemental (emotionally) or knowing (supposedly from lived experience). And this stance is actively lived in the IPSupporter sustaining inner spaces where to put one’s own emotions and sudden ideas, let them rest there, and stay present with much inner as well as outer relational space of listening.

    Hoping that my words can transport stg of this lived dialogical listening, processing, reflection (’emotive’ and ‘spiritual’) and reply within a reciprocal relationship to ‘become’.

    About the ‘friend’ concept. I doubt it can be ‘im-posed’. Keeping in mind the many nuances in a mutual and personal relating ‘to and between’ one another, it may rather be an attitude of respect, humbleness, acceptance of the deep realities of the other and ‘honesty’ towards oneself. The latter much relates to the processing and reflecting of one’s own emotional responses to not be allowed to ‘take a lead’. I decribed this by the inner space and time to situate and process one’s own ‘reactive issues’ whilst staying open and present with to other/s.

    This may sound as a clichĂ© but invite trust for a relating process to develop seems important. Discussing that no one knows about what is rigt, best for the other, and what ideas each may have about ‘power’ of an intentional peer supporter seems crucial to me.

    We are so used of functional ‘relationships’ shaped in super-/subordinate roles that it is a wortwile issue where all have the chance to reflect and dialogue about their experience and (implicit) expectations of ‘how response-ability’ happens to be created.

    I found it helpful to ask myself: how do I feel and behave if a friend shares some unresolved issue; how do I feel and situate myself in a mutuality relationship. This is were the concept of, what is in a friend as listener and responder, prooves helpful for me.

    Also, I remember, Shery Mead writes that IPS is not exactly like friendship… so this is a worthy issue of exploration and reflection and learning in inviting and sustaining mutuality and reciprocity in peer support relationships.

  • Beautifully written JM: ‘And I have participated in the 5 day Intentional Peer Support introductory training. Wow! It was 5 days of hands-on practice for providing support from a mutual standpoint. A truly revolutionary way for not only providing peer support, but for moving through life.’

    Yes, an integer understanding of the ingredients in ‘living mutuality’ is life changing – most needed for all people subdued and victimized, the very breathing basis of healing and empowerment. I am sometimes anry that many ‘professionals’ seem to ignore this, wether peers of psy’s.

    Mutuality and respect of the other person’s ‘becoming’/cultural life story to be grateful to learn and share is so humble, sometimes full of all colours of humor, and empowering, mutually, exactly.

    These values and processes, as practised in IPS, don’t constitute yet another dish from a chinese menu for recovery. They’re crucial for restoration of hope, trust, belief, interpersonal and self-other-respect, as well as for socially engaged agency.

  • Thanks for sharing this, seventhsense. Appreciate the workshop you describe. So fundamental in my view.

    An integral part of ‘exploring each others’ worldview’ after opressive&abusive upbringing/relations; as well as emotional and cultural/spiritual resources, often hidden behind the veil of traumatic ruptures and their heart/trust/being in the social world-shattering consequences.

  • Please continue this wonderfully informative comments discussion.

    For several years now, I keep learning, doing, reflecting on survivor/peer support.

    Agree wholeheartedly on improving peer education and mutual learning programs. In my view the history of the survivor movement/s and development as well as ‘best practices’ examples of peer run alternatives are shamefully underrepresented to absent from many educational peer support worker education programs.

    It was my experience also that I did all my learning, emotional and reflective integration of traumatic experiences and their ghostly/implicit consequences only after my peer education through independent trauma survivor trainers. Nothing concerning the many forms and consequences of long term oppressive and abusive relations was never mentioned or shared in my peer education – as it had never been approached in all diverse psych-professional settings I have been in. I doubt the honesty and humbleness combined with empowerment can be achieved by peer support workers without education abvout and the respectful sharing of trauma-to-healing processes.

    The levels and complexities of victimization as a once known ‘normality’ leading to severe emotional, mental, symbolic, embodied distress must be adressed in the richness of symbols, visions, voices, spaces interrupted, ghostlyness… the many ways to suffer the consequences of enduring abuse… as well as the healing and learning initiated by other survivors stories and embodied wisdom of healing. For me this is crucial for my capacity and human quality in ‘deep listening’ and being an active witness in learning with and respecting other distressed ones.

    My gratitude for the work of Shery Mead is endless. In her trauma informed Intentional Peer Support I found the core values, healing, respectful and empowering processes for mutual learning in our real social and cultural realities. I also found the much needed clarity in the rejection of the psychiatric language as alienating, distorting and betraying people’s biographies, social cultures and experiences of severe emotional distress and mental breakthoughs etc.

    Why are the values and procedures of IPS with the honesty and humble humane power of Shery Mead not necessary in every peer support education program – is my big question ?

    Perhaps this is so to brain- and heart-wash peer workers in the ideology of individualistic, ‘unidirectional’ peer work as helpers and role models? Low paid but eager to bring – what ‘lived experience’? in which ‘recovery’ frameworks? – into a psychiatric system that easily adopts a masquerade of disempowered peer workers.

    I disagree with narrow, just ‘experience based’ peer support education that produces cheap and vulnerable ‘peer specialits’… or, words can be like cats who bite their own tails, ‘experts by experience’ – after often less than 14 days of most basic training – with no critical reflection or any historical and sociological discussions about ‘psychiatric institutionalization’?!

    Improvement of peer support work education and training as well as ‘professional networking’ with mutuality based peer support initiatives I see as essential to provide and sustain ‘high human quality’ peer support. I know of wonderful peer run projects both in the US and the UK, none of them being presented in the curriculum of most peer education programs. The liberating Maastricht Approach for voice hearers and people with unusual beliefs is equally missing in most peer training programmes. Do people really want well informed and high quality peer workers, that begs a question, at least in my mind and heart.

    How the existing psychiatric institutions and staff need to change for meaningful, integer and mutuality-empowered peer support to take place within ‘mental health services’ merits much more discussion and critical attention than is yet given.

    A recent study by a team of survivor/user researchers and engaged academics explores some of these issues in ten different agencies in the UK:
    Gillard, Steve et al (2014) free download
    New ways of working in mental health services: a qualitative, comparative case study assessing and informing the emergence of new peer worker roles in mental health services in England

    Closing with a quote from an inspiring, well informed and empowering article by Sandy Watson of Inside Out & Associates Australia (2013) on Peer Workforce Development

    ‘The values of peer work are fundamentally different to that of the mental health workforce, especially around the concepts of equality, mutuality and reciprocity.’

    ‘For consumer and peer work to be positioned as part of the mental health workforce is directly antithetical to the work itself: its social and political histories, its critical analysis, literature, research, values and practices. It is the differences that need to be upheld for consumer and peer work to maintain its integrity as a workforce in integrated mental health service settings.’

    ‘An important point I want to clarify is that my argument is not an argument for separatism, for the complete separation on mental health service teams of consumer and peer workers from non-peer workers. Rather, it is an argument against same-ism and the notion that we are the same as non-peer workers. We weren’t employed on the basis of sameness: our rights in the workplace are different in Commonwealth law, and the services we provide differ in fundamental ways.’

    Excellent paper by Sandy Watson of Inside Out & Associates Australia from her key note address at the Australian Peer Conference 2013

    Free download of paper:

  • Here’s a storyteller Jeanette Winterson who hears voices

    I am interested to discuss the idea of an international collection of narratives by people who experience/have experienced extreme and altered ways to being in and making sense of the worlds in the worlds.

    To me there is a huge chance to open hearts and minds to much more diverse humanity, including sufferings, traumata, neglect/no trustworthy relations, oppression. How disrupture from any shared intimate, trustworthy, reliable social worlds happens, shatters, transforms. How are the experiences of different senses and perceptions in one’s changed ghostly, uncanny, watchfully watched or strangely gorgeous worlds in the world of worlds.

    There is fabulous chances to travel normally stigmatized, technically fragmented, labeled, alienated and psychiatrized human altered wide and broad experiences through narratives. I would welcome a more creative and constructive gathering of many ideas.

    Narratives in their immernse and multi-layered, even exciting, exposure of the many senses in wider and altered qualities of experiences and perceptions, as truly mental, emotional and culture related, fully human experiences, do, by their collective presence, expose the ignorant, poor, fragmented barbarism of reductionist psychiatry, thus they are in themselves ‘antipsychiatry’.

    To safe the multi-dimensional and truly artistic freedom of narratives on the extreme wanderings of psychĂš, strong emotions and mind – people know from moments of extreme fear, losing a close one or falling in love to carefully to build bridges to extreme experiences – I suggested an international committee with survivors, artists, writers, poets who experience altered perceptions worlds, and a minority of strong humanistic mental health professionals as Guiseppe Tibaldi who has co-created the Italian storytelling project.

    Wouldn’t it be inspiring to collect ideas how we think such an international project can be empowering and part of struggle for recognition of people’s extreme experience?

    Repeating the same anti-psychiatry criticism of a project because a psychiatrist co-created and co-develops it, a psychiatrist close to the tradition of Basaglia and the Italian democratic collective movement of liberation from institutionalized psychiatry, repeating the same redundant criticism of psychiatry without discussion of opportunities and challenges of an artistic narrative project with values and realities to still be discovered, to me seems somehow as judgemental and reductionist as the coercive betrayal and lived realities’ killing psychiatry many survivors oppose and many walked away from to co-create alternatives.

    Narratives can be imaginative and captivating voices for alternatives in mutual learning and support, learning to not give in to the despair and isolation that often are part of extreme experiences and altered quality worlds. I will always remember I read the first narrative published by an old lady of the German survivor movement: I was no longer alone with extreme emtional and belief experiences, and as hers, mine made sense and were multiple.

    I found more and from then on had narrative-allies to withstand the lies and betrayals of reductionist and ignorant psychiatry who had insisted my volcanic and wildly changing symbolic messenger experiences had nothing to do with my identity. I knew what had happened in my youth life and I knew how the symbols and main messages or missions were related to shatterings of my social identity. But I needed other people’s narratives from the altered qualities realities in the world to learn, listen, relate to the tales of truth.

  • As I called for independant artists, both rich in tensions and imagination and sense of societal and cultural in/justice, Arundhati Roy’s voice accompanies me since I read ‘The God of Small Things’.

    ‘Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.’

    Arundhati Roy
    Porto Alegre, Brazil
    January 27, 2003

  • Dear Guiseppe Tibaldi,

    I read your suggestion of an international collection of ‘recovery’ narratives with excitement, more questions, than suspicion. I’d rethink the notion recovery as it is really being politically corrupted in ever more politically driven health systems cuts. However, with a focus on survivor struggles for their lifes, I consider your suggestion to go international as a wonderful means to raising awareness. Could imagine an international group – artistic steering commitee of survivors, civil rights advocates, and artists with keen sense for social in/justice and mechanisms of abuse and oppression – to collect thoughts on the core values of such an initiative. There is much reclaiming of ‘recovery’ as related to the many, sadly mostly bad things, which happened to people and how many survivors found ways sometimes with, often beyond individual therapy, by looking how abuse and oppression often were/are common drivers of them going mad in the first place and than experience abuse, betrayal and lies in the standard biomedicalized psychiatric system. So much of the extreme perceptions and altered qualities of experiencing a world disrupted, far from expressing underlying brain disease, are cries of many hidden truth of about the dark sides of humanity as well as souls cries for battles against bad or with good powers… meaningful with and beyond the individual’s experience. The more, I as an anthropologist and survivor learn from others extreme mental experiences, the more I see them related to the many affective and mental ambivalent and conflicting tensions of artists altered ways to experience and express the worlds in the worlds. Nash had hinted at the same source of inspiration being in his mathematical ‘seeings’ and his unusual belief systems. The notion of ‘loss of reality’ rather reflects the common Angst of the unpredictability and difference in people’s altered perceptions, energies, beliefs and the cultural and spiritual blindness and ignorance of a biomedicalized betrayal and abuse system of silencing, threatening, coercing and drugging/zombieing people in distress or altered quality experiences.
    To simplify, just for know, I would love to see such a narrative initiative open the souls to the many truth in unusual tongues of the souls and minds, with their qualities welcomed in a wide and moving artistic world, with the breathtaking and uncanny facets of mental and affective breaktroughs becoming valued as extreme ways of being and experiential, symbolic, inspiring, be it threatening ‘knowing’ in our huge world of human senses and hidden relations and spheres of meaning making. This is why for me ‘recovery’ narratives seems to narrow a vision, as I see more of menaces, uncannyness, wild tearing open of unusual senses and perceptions which also carry truth, and ways of finding some agency and self-validation through this struggles are often voiced as anything but a ‘common sense’ quietness of ‘recovery’.
    I would welcome to explore and honor the many hidden and stigmatized facets in people’s struggles, disruptures from a trustable social/moral world and various extreme ways of altered quality perceptions and relations in menacing, dangerous or ghost worlds, or calls of blessings, as so very meaningful we do not even know yet. But I am sure true artists and independant artistic film makes will get my message. Honor the altered quality experience as essential insights into people’s lifes and struggles and discoveries, be they in seemingly troubling agency to the common sense at first, and there is new humanity to unfold… ne need to wait that people somehow recover in the eyes of the common sense people, cause everybody gets invited to read and imagine how the altered quality experience are meaningful responses to manyfold difficult, often abusive or threatening relations, often societally mediated neglect, racism, oppression, rejection… and how we can all learn what unfolds thereby discovering layers and possibilities for new awareness… as a path for reclaiming agency with the societally accepted validation of the narratives in their wildness, uncertainty, uncanny features… acceptance of whom may show much more meaningful and tensioned ways of ‘recovery’… having travelled challenging forces in one’s perceptions and beliefs… in my view… can lead to diverse regain of agency which shall artistically and spiritually surprise, not fulfill unjust expectations of survivors needing to become just common sense normal, which of course is impossible if their wide and wild and very transformative experiences be truly acknowledged as contribution to social and human cultures. This kind of possibility is what I would find truly exciting. Nevertheless my excitement comes with the warning that I would find a selection of the most ‘normalizing’ and ‘nicey’ exactly an expansion of the betrayal and silencing of the menacing and uncanny facets of altered human perceptions and experiences, as to be banned and shunned on and on. This is a political, what you mean by freedom is what you honor as part of tensioned humanity – as well as my survivor statement. I read ‘recovery’ stories. I honor the ones where none needs to become just like small and content re-models of ‘more normal people’ who never had the shattering real and mental and emotional experiences of the many survivors. The latter ones for me are part of a continuing rejection and oppression, even if labeled ‘recovery’, of survivors narratives ‘out of all depts’ and with their immense and non-valued truths of extreme states the soul and mind creates within and as response to being human in challenging and overwhelming relations and injust societies which seem to turn away from the uncanny sources of arts and expression and their potentials for diversity without forclosure and rejection of those whose souls and senses needed open so very wide for survival.

    With artistic inspiration and survivor’s regards.
    Ute Maria KrÀmer

  • Thank you for responding so soon.
    Ok, then I gonna look out what R Whitaker is gonna make if the ‘psychiatry as being anti social justice.

    In a talk R Whitaker at ‘Beyond the Therapeutic State – June 26-28, 2014’ related an example where US psychiatry intervened and took away some achievements in social life of young teens considered ‘lost cases’ but supported by some folks who helped them get off neuroleptic medication and get on in shared experiences. Because the youths had been taken of drugs psychiatry made sure the project was shut down and the ‘neglected’ teens put on psychophamaceuticals and into psychiatry again. This is a factual example.

    Obviously the social and political implications of psychiatry as agent of drugging and monitoring damaged individuals (‘…and make the world go away’, Mary Boyle, In: Demedicalising Misery, 2011) how psychiatric science fiction makes go away the social and scientific relevancy and impacts of social injustice is much wider.

    Here is a link to the Whitaker’s talk ‘Beyond the Therapeutic State – June 26-28, 2014’ conference

  • I wrote this, not Whitaker’s saying, for clarification : psychiatry as ‘neoliberal state backed control and pretend to normalize practice’ which serves to hide and hinder the tackling of social, moral, societal and cultural injustice… Best, Ute

  • Hi Frank,

    As a person with some active education in clinical and cultural antropology and a psychiatric survivor, I have been working for years on aspects of social, moral and spiritual injustice und conflicts often inherent in extreme emotional and moral distress and emotional and spiritually altered ways of relating to and experiencing one’s being in an extremely conflicting world: far extending one’s individual dilemmata.

    In my view there are countless ‘meaningful’ themes in many diverse altered states and cognitions/perceptions which, not being reducable to them, relate to immense troubles of injustice seen to ‘psychotic’ amplified looking classes on wordly injustice. The social and moral tensions, oppressions and predicaments of injustice to me often seem inherent in extreme affective and mental experiences.

    Injustice predicaments point at important features of alternatives to psychiatry in values, stakes and organisational challenges. Claims for social, moral and ‘spiritual’ justice as new balancing of powers seem more and more ‘central’ to the developent of collective alternatives for people in despair and existencial moral agency predicaments.

    Development of alternatives have since the 1970s build on more ‘grassroots’ democracy as organisations, collective empowerment and demands for social justice. In my opinion there are new ways to reclaim and develop these values and reciprocity dialogues and doings with regards to many people’s overwelming predicaments (labelled mental illnessess, wrongly in my understanding, having learned from many people who have experienced ‘altered embodied and mental/cognitive worldlyness).

    I see psychiatry based on causal neurobiological hypothesis that seemed medical way forward end of 19th century as outdated by today’s knowledge of complex human mind’s, emotion’s, meaning making’ as well as organic interactions for whom neurological systems are subordinated mediating ‘substrates’. Causal logic is inadequate when it comes to organsisms, neurology in aware human beings living reciprocally in conflicting social, moral, cultural, spiritual worlds.

    Could you please post a reference to Robert Whitaker speaking about psychiatry as ‘neoliberal state backed control and pretend to normalize practice’ which serves to hide and hinder the tackling of social, moral, societal and cultural injustice witin many extreme experiences and witin societies. Thank you.

    Best regards,

    PS Sorry for my typos, I am a late life English as a foreign language speaker.

  • Thank you Philip,
    For acknowledgement. My (and others) ideas and conceptualisations can not be based on what professional practitioners may change to find interesting by listening with compassion and acceptance. They are rooted in complex relations and ‘functions’ of psychotic experiences in people’s biographies, social interactions and societal power/action structures… and the oppressions, abuses, disruptures those exert on the socially weaker/weakened people who experienced psychoses.
    There is heuristic power in our knowledge developed over many years but which goes ignored and rejected by all establishment concerned with knowledge production and dissemination.
    Thus it seems it’s only about professionals now staring to listening differently and … again… the professionals … first?/alone? to create any more systematic meaning from their clients parlances. No.
    We – as many others than me – demand be taken serious, respected and acknowledged for the heuristic depth and breath of our mostly narrative workings.
    Kind regards,

  • Healing with psychosis

    My appreciation, again, to Phillip Hickey for a clear and thouroughly reasoned article. I subscribe to his knowledge and positioning being most needed, but, as you will read, not sufficient to expose the destructions caused by medical psychiatry.

    The reflections Ron Unger shares are most relevant. I base my line of thoughts on them.
    First let me quote Ron: ‘While “antipsychotics” have a toxic effect on people, for many they do have a stronger effect suppressing the part of the person that the person themselves wants to suppress, such as a disturbing voice. This often makes people appreciate the drugs.

    Certainly when “antipsychotics” are forced on people, we can talk about chemical restraint, but it does get trickier for example when people decide they want the antipsychotic drug. In this case, it is kind of about a person using the drug to restrain themselves or part of themselves, which is more complex. An then in many cases an extra layer of complexity is that they only chose to voluntarily use the drugs after being coerced into using the drugs first, and then the drugs themselves may be making the person more compliant and even subservient to other who want them to take the drugs.’

    In my (Ute’s) view Ron Unger highlights the crucial issue of terrifying experiences and menaces underlying and partially thrown up in ‘psychotic feelings, perceptions and interpreations’ – which are highly distressing especially as none around seems ‘trained’ in ways of supporting people to relate to them and make sense of them.

    Oppressions, suppressions, abuses… later ‘soulquakes’ in menacing situations, all, cultural, social, in relationships, in victims… are covered up, distorted and kicked out by psychiatric symptom concepts, a totally inadequate reductionistic causal model of neuro-dysfuctioning, the practice misuse of neuroleptics to ‘zombie-away’ the extremely disturbing to terrifying ways to psychotically experience a menacing or superpower world, or disturbing to terrorist voice hearing.

    In my view it is a scandal of cultural, political and psychiatric ignorance, oppression and abuse to be given the power to override and ridiculise the valuable knowledge from people who have found ways to interprete their psychotic outbreaks of realities in their embodied souls. To exclude from recognition the many survivor stories which are explorative and instructive in the relations they expose between the diverse oppressions, punishments, abuses which disconnected the sufferers from their embodied selves (sorry for oversmplification in terms). Also I refer to survivor stories as much more than stories: they provide invaluable insights into how psychotic experiences are ‘anwers’/’cries of souls and feelings’ which have been eviled, tabooed, suppressed or disrupted in the souls, thinkings, feelings and in the organic living substrate in the people. A German Anthology ‘The sense of my Psychosis’ presents 20 narratives full of multi-layered insights. And there are many more.

    This is what the psychiatric conceptualisations of SMI never ever refer to. In the contrary they only gaze at some ‘delusional’ symptoms of a non-existing ‘neurological chemical dysfunction’ and in consequence recommend/coerce both destructive diagnostic science fictions and chemical compounds which disable the complex functioning of neuroendocrine organic substrates for people’s interaction with the world and themselves.

    Whereas the insightful narratives allow to collect insights into the very real and lived complexities in bodies, feelings, imaginations, perceptions, changes pre- and during psychoses, they are relegated to ‘scientifically invalid’ ‘anecdotes’. The existing ‘ factual science fiction’ of psychiatric diagnoses, ironically, is exactly what is shown to be invalid by the heuristically much more valid collections of narratives with the informative insights they provide. Shery Mead’s workings are an outstanding example, as well as the Maastricht Interviews and the Hearing Voices/Unusual Beliefs approaches.

    I call for new transdisciplinary human sciences to take these survivor narratives and approaches as guides, to work with collectives of lived psychoses’ expert witnesses to develop explorative and participatory research of a wholly different complexity in conceptions and methodologies.

    The need for basing a much deepened, broadened and complex understanding based on the many psychoses narratives is crying out loud.

    There seems no need for medical psychiatry which only hampers this humane endevour to re-explore the soul’s embeddedness and connectedness through the socially and spiritually animated body and the socio-cultural lived/suffered real world pre/during/post psychoses.

    We need interdisciplinary and ‘artistic-imaginative’ psychoses experts by experience together with a whole different human sciences development to be able to support people so that they do not need to suppress, as Ron reminds us of, when and what psychoses finally through up from the existencial difficulties in people’s lifes past and present. Again, this is what psychiatry as a science ignores or distorts, in consequence psychiatry only ‘helps’ to make people ever more alienated and certainly hinders distressed people from healing by intoxicating their whole organisms, not just brains, with neuroleptics.

    To the emancipation and revolution of the people with lived experience of psychoses, to the emancipation of their narratives and their various frameworks – relating psychoses to their biographies within real social and cultural and spiritual worlds – to become the soulful agents and authors of new knowledge production about healing with psychosis.

  • Donna,
    I wish to answer your thougts. First, yes, I have read over the years few ‘psychology’ books and many websites, blogs, crime stories, criminal inverstigations into those ‘individuals’ characterized as psychopaths. Apart from few studies on psychopaths in commerce and big business, nearly all others, perhaps written by ‘experts’ constructed, as you write above ‘psychopaths or evil people with no conscience, empathy, compassion or guilt, which allows them to act as intraspecies predators on normal humans while using charm, deceit and flattery to exploit and prey on others by finding and exploiting their human weaknesses while psychopaths are able to study and mimic normal human emotions and behaviors while hiding in plain sight’.
    As many I had personal reasons for wanting to know wether a very close person in my life was actually a ‘psychopath’- and I do not mean narcisstic traits- but those supposedly evil creatures with no conscience, empathy nor guilt. It is not because I don’t know their conscience, feelings and guilt, that they have none. At least the people I know and others co-patients on wards have spoken about, in the situations and actions described used narcissism and moral aggression, accusation and blaming etc. Nevertheless, for the people I knew these scenes and time-parts of their personalty never respected nor talked to many other facets of their selves in their life stories. This for me is very disrespectful, at least the timewise very narcisstic people I had lost it against and – for societal and economic inferiority reasons – timewise was ‘a targeted victim in a warfare’, because I had challenged them disregarding their higher positions, these people I knew – mostly from others, a little by myself, to have deep feelings and reflectiveness, to know humor, kindness and yes guilt. I also had learned, by getting to now them about the authority figures (hm, parents?) they had grown up with to be totally egocentric or abusive, and this in historical, political, moral, economic contexts and family destinies. So even these ‘evil parents’ had not just been evil. A total lack of considerations for the conditions and histories which mediate the outwards traits and behaviors. To resume, never did any of the people I had had to do with, or the more ‘double faced ones’ co-patients talked about, meet the poverty of the traits described by the experts. Simplified, I disbelied those experts and find their writings unusually judgemental in the field of psychology. This does not even address the lack of broader and deeper considerations of the roles these ,narcisstic’ people hold in much larger, social, normative, political or commercial systems and, if I may refer to the recent writings about the Pfitzer CEO, wich ‘breed and shape’ in everyday shareholder-guided business competition what easily gets denounced as an individuals bad character. I forgot, an acquaintance of mine had had to do with russian mafia, I was near dead just by listening to him. Evil individuals, I not even had this association, but a very intricate organisational system of terrifying ‘business’ conduct the representatives had been bred into over many years I suppose. But I would not even try to guess that therefore in more private parts of their lifes these ‘evil mafia leaders’ had no empathy, conscience nor guilt. As I also wrote, I have myself some narcisstic traits, and feel haunted by still sometimes buying products made in certainly terroristic and dehumanizing conditions for the employees in Asia and like special economic imperialist terror zones. Sometimes I reflect wether this just reveals the deeply evil traits of my character, or wether it has, also, not exclusively, to do with my relative poverty I use as an excuse, still having nightmares about my supporting of terrorist industrial and trade business.
    Psychopaths. There is limits I learned I can’t cross. See many FBI investigations and the mostly, not always, terrorictic chldhoods they reveal of the later serial killers. But I let go of reading or watching these cause I feel like an idiot-voyeur.
    What I miss the most is the sociocultural and structural daily life influences on those which are discussed, by experts?, as evil narcissists, as well as the lack of acknowledgement of ‘islands of empathy and many shades of conscience’ these people always had as far as I had personal exchanges with their, mostly, ex-spouses. So many reasons for me to disagree with individualistic constructs of psychopaths and narcissists, as with borderline or schizophrenics, which are far from people’s real life experiences (inside and outward). I hope I was clear enough myself with sometimes tapping into these kind of expert personality contructs as if they would help me to finally get what this (kinda) person is like. For me it is very very wrong but fulfils some desire I have, which I caracterise as ‘adolescent’- if I am more in defence/revenge lust I name ‘childlike magic thinking’ , to look away from my role and behavior (the looser is a painful, shameful position and I had made many mistakes also) and – ah wish I could – feel and belief there are these evil narcissists and psychopaths as the experts characterise them. For me, that seems to have come to age, because I am even disgusted by the descriptions, which really concerns the ‘experts’ and certainly not the people who are in a relationship with this kind of manipulative characters. At least for me, there were two, and I had not grown into my adult self, that is what I learned for me, and I remember the narcissists I had to do with as much more complex and timewise truly empathic. So much to reflect on my position.

  • Second thought I urgently need to contextualize:
    We allow ourselves be weakened and passive obververs shouting their discontend against the powerful that we empower in doing so BUT NOT ALLOW US ACTIVE CHANGE IN BELIEVING AND DOING DIFFERENTLY, IN EMPOWERING RESISTANCE AND PROTEST WITH LIVED SOLIDARITY AND ALTERNATIVES. ILLUSION ONE NEEDS BECOME A POWERFUL LEADER ‘FIRST, AT LAST, EVER’? WHAT A TRAP. Thereby many of us keep her/himself ‘slave’ to the current commercialization and neoliberalisation of the many realities.

  • I wish to express my disappointment on the individualist ‘psychopathologization’ of supposed irresponsible and reckless powerful actors as the culprits of screening, labeling and drawing innocent children and parents into the pharma-psychiatric complex which has by some lobbyist efforts extended its harmful influence into the educational and social institutions.

    The illusion of moral choices and degree of integrity of values and conduct represents, in my view, an adolescent state of mind, with high hopes and righteous condemnation of ‘the wrongdoers in power’ without the socialized and regulated career experience of making a way into ‘responsible leadership’ within international political, economic, technical systems. It is my view that shaking fists at and vociferating against the psychopaths in power surves the need of individualized morality but misses the political, cultural and technological suprastructures in which political domination and commercialisation execute structural violence, surveillence and exploitation of ‘individuals’ , i.e. by screening kid’s for the ‘state-regulated’ sell-out to consumerism, individualism, defective organicism (a technological and not eco-bio-socia-cultural framing).

    Turn righteous anger against greedy, antisocial psychopaths to me seems a fantasy product of ‘childlike magic thinking’ that imprisons itself in a vicious cycle of shooting at the mythic aggressors where there are no such individually bad and powerful evil actors. The anger and furor that I also experience are all too humane. Any meaningful understanding nevertheless requires what I call adult world views: a shift of perpective/s which allows to see oneself and others as members of worldwide political and commercial systems, to acknowledge one’s part in keeping those systems running (nobody is forced to buy products made in exploitative conditions, but most of us do) and (not) protesting, developing and demanding possible transformations which rely on critical review of eco-culturally accountable economic models, models for reclaiming (via democratic associations and organizations) and rebalancing representative policy powers, models for eco-socially accountable political regulations and transformations of corporate systems’ power which need, in my view, be rooted in the democratic associations and organizations which we can create and make sustainable by respecting and making realities eco-social and cultural initiatives and their international networks. We have the means but most of us, me included, prefer a quick shout back in anger to some bad greedy others in power. We give them power by not beliefing that our eco-social initiatives can grow responsible societal alternatives and provide us with the credibility to develop and claim alternative politics, economics, cultures of solidarity vs. unlimited growth. We allow ourselves be weakened and passive obververs shouting their discontend against the powerful that we empower in doing so. Thereby many of us keep her/himself ‘slave’ to the current commercialization and neoliberalisation of the many realities.

    I suggest have a look at ‘Sacred economics’ and other inspirations which empower us to introduce real and mutually relevant change by appreciation of mutual empowerment with no bottom vs top ideology. Then watering the plants on one’s balcony becomes not an escape from a world run by evil superpowers, but an embodied gesture of empowering solidarity with like-minded people and our eco-system. Connection in such daily gestures can sustain the membership in alternative associations and vitalize to go protest the structural injustice systems and to go claim alternative systems of representative legalisations, regulations, fair trade and fair politics. We can do peer support and education in our free time without first wanting financial rewards, this is why I mention Eisenstein ‘Sacred economics’, as living in empowering mutuality and working with our incredible assets. This gives integrity and drive to political analyes and much needed protests too. Good luck to us who belief that a better world is possible. Get real. Join. Appreciate. Do peer support, alternative education, read Fanon and Occupy, empower ourselves in mutual empowerment, education, action, celebration. Water the plants on one’s balcony and in many hearts and minds.

  • The PSP-CYMH screening questionnaires and ‘educational’ material constitute one of the most fraudulant abuses of ‘science’ I have ever explored. The targeted distorsion of pseudoscience – can it get any more simplistic and therefore false ideology – is just another manoever for the creation of ‘demand’ and ‘dependancy’ from the most criminal shareholders in the pharma business and a minority of magnificence-addicted pseudo-academics. What is even more shocking is the total(itarian) buy in of the entire administrative and educational sector. I would very much appreciate eluciation of the connections with more surveillance strategies as an escalating, if embellished in protection-prevention-care propaganda, expansion of ‘information technology slavery of citizens’ kids beamed into medicalized drug business’. What are the suprastructures of a more perversely sophisticated lobby-mafia-infiltration that makes the lucid warnings of Eisenhower sound like a dark lullaby. Avid and livid to continue reading on this sweet and clean ‘homeland terrorism against normal citizens’ childern’.

  • What happened to ‘Clinging to the Slopes of Everest’ and what was it’s role in inviting us to reflect on More or Less or No more ‘Mental Illness’?

    Clinging to the Slopes of Mount Everest seems pretty non-normal to me. It implies a huge shift from dominating western ‘middle class citizens’ ideas and habits of normal, like grow up close with animals and living/working in nature. People living ‘more farmer style’ may have had a gut fealing of ’emotionally unhealthy up-bringing of kids if they react fearful to the neighbors big dog’.

    It may have allowed to question why framing ‘normal mental health’ vs ‘mental illness’ with the nice acceptance of western world’s well-off’s shared ignorance of inherent ‘imeprialism’ and ‘superiority turned into normality’ should be ‘genrerally’ accredited and for what purpose.

    To put it simply, I feel suppressed and ridiculed as having experienced qualitatively widened, intensified, shining and visionary, as well as visionary and bodily disruptive relatedness, sensing, peceiving, being called by and haunted by dimensions and agents in a reality which got simply called a non-reality by psychiatry (doctors and their reductionist doctrines). Non of my experiences are attributable to causal strands neither to mental or emotional dysfunctioning – but to a different way to be alive in this reality as a qualitatively changed on. It has been very stressful to leave behind the constant persecution by psychiatry – solution: hide, hide even in seclusion, pretend, ly, don’t share anything – and over the years to find ways to live myself with extremely different sensations, visions, ideas/missions without blaming and punishing me for accepting these as messages and scenarios of ‘hidden and unspoken parts of the wider realities’, haunting ones’ from wars, oppressionsof values and beliefs , transgenerational and other traumata, and lived mission-visions of more illuminated, multi-fold nuanced and interwoven dimensions in the wider realities’. I know how psychiatrically ‘educated’ doctors persecute and discredit people with ‘extreme experiences’ which they seem to have no emotional, sensual, perceptive, mental, spiritual, historical and cultural connection with/to. This witch hunt has to end.

    People have done all sorts of things being in qualitatively changed modes of experiencing a widened, spectrified and intensified reality, some give all their belongings, others follow tongues, others may attempt clinging to the slopes of Everest, others have murdered, most have wandered in this newly widened realities. Nearly none has ever been respected or supported with cultural knowledge in making sense of these intense experiences as an extra-ordinary human being, learning to build relations with these intense and widened experiences and visions which are less in danger to make one prone to persecution, forced drugging and being labeled mentally diseased and ill.

    It’s time to end the persecution. People with these experiences seem more capable to join and listen and explore em without the need to see everybody as irrational, out-of control, potentially in danger to self and others. Learning intense and mind and emotion transforming experiences is only overwhelming and out-of-control at the beginning… but then how often did I rage with joy or cry with anger or fear learning to walk or to ride my first tiny bike? How often was I afraid of the monsters living in the patterns of the carpet in my bedroom or in illuminated moods being an indian princess listen to whispering souls of natures ghost? I guess my later widened intensified experiences were more transparent to the thousands of dead, the milliards of ghosts, as the endless nuances of lights, beings,visions of possible ennatured cultured beings shining in every corner of reality and being in things turned symbols and messages. I have gone far away from psychiatry to give myself time for historical, cultural exporation and ‘teaming’ the no-longer beastly ‘visionary and haunting sensually illuminated or shattering deadening experiences’. I could do this cause I had always loved literature and had studied anthropology, thus I could actually travel with human companions and no longer be afraid of ‘my brain undergoing a degenerative process if I NOT take neuroleptics’. I do not and my mind is doing fine, my body has learned pain and suffering, my heart can now re-feel moments of love from my childhood, I am grateful for my visions and hauntings as related to human’s terrible history and mostly terrifying industry destruction and corrupted perverse politics, grateful for sensuous visions of care with light, plants, animal, and I live an ordinary-extraordinary life.

    Obviously for myself I find psychiatric concepts of mental disorder not better than witch-haunt or the dehumanizing and ignorant branding of imperialist colonizers of indegeneous people’s cultures and their persecution, disowning, exploitation, punishment, emprisonment and psychiatrization. Don’t read the last lines as some past history.

    And stop diagnosing as mentally disordered and mentally ill experiences and people whom the ‘doctors’ ignore near all about and won’t acknowledge their ‘ecological, social, cultural lived/haunted history and contexts’.

    ‘Normal’ should be historically outdated in a socially diverse and culturally rich democracy rooted in mutual accountablility for people, cratures and nature. No, the western model is one build on aggressive expansiveness and ownership of the well-offs, nicely turned into ‘normal’ on Sunday afternoons or when playing with the kids, that is not what my hauntings and visions allude to. It is demanding to accept and nuance the haunting of human brutality and murder or resurrection and illumination in altered mental experiences. But I resist their dehumanization and abjection as ‘mental disorders/illnesses’.

    “The anonymous current of being invades, submerges every subject, person or thing. The subject-object distinction by which we approach existents is not the starting point for a meditation which broaches being in general.”
    Levinas, Emmanuel. There is: Existence without Existents. 1946.

  • After years of looking into the functional complexity of brain/cns/peripheral ns neuro-humoral delicate functioning, only some weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that a crude chemical imbalance is only caused by neuroleptics and other psychotropic substances. Yes there is myriads of neurochemical transmissions and compunds travelling nuances in the brain/cns/peripheral ns, but they are a delicately concerto of the most fine tuned neurological functioning informed by many levels of bodily ‘experiences’. Never is there anything as an non-specific and widely targeted imbalance apart from drugging up the brain (medical and street drugs) – thereby disabling the fined tuned and interrelated neuronal intercomplexities as enablers and transistors of bodily, emotional functions of living creature in flexible interactions with its lived environments. The latter was the reason that I withdrew from neuroleptics after excaping from psych’ ward. With gratitude to Prof Gerd RehkĂ€mper, neurologist and animal behavior field researcer, who taught his students of the delicate and wonderfull complexity and concerto of brains/peripheral ns, the living creature and lived environment. I just knew these drugs to be shoved into my brain would finish with its delicate-live-enabling fine-tuning. I wish there were majorities of inspiring and honest real biological neurophysiologist researchers. What the hell are psychiatrists taught to believe that overall inundation of brain and peripheral ns could be anything but disabling and harmful in longer term? Thanks Philip Hickey for speaking the ‘biological’ truth to neurotechnocemical abuse of power – enlightenment in the most humane and intellectually liberating sense.

  • Thank you Tina Minkowitz,
    Please understand that I can not do honour to the many points and intricacies you raised.

    My response is essay-ish: Suffering for democracy

    I support the importance of the betrayal, oppression, abuse and rejection done in societies marked by patriarchical, colonizing, racist and military violence and traumata beind many ‘next doors’ leading to to psychiatry. The depersonalisation experienced in forced psychiatrization, I do not understand it separate or fundamentally different from the abuses, betrayals, oppressions, abjections done in societies ruling on class, economic and moral violence build on aggressive expansionism. Societies not based on and legalized in social, ecological, cultural accountabilities which I call responseabilities.

    I suggest that the abused, oppressed and exploited in the many forms of societal violence and injustice share victimization, depersonalization and abjection with the forceably psychiatrized. I do not see people with experiences of forced psychiatric abuse and violence as somehow a special group. Sadly enough, I see psychiatric subjected and abused in similar plights to the many disowned, abused and victimized, growing majorities in the threatened ghettos of the world.

    In my view the danger in acting on the interdependency of the personal and the political lies in the violence of corrupted ‘democracies’ where resistence and protest, resilience and alternatives are NOT tolerated but oppressed and destroyed – through the connections and ‘legal powers’ of unaccountable-private-ownership-class with economic, anti-social, police, prison and military violence.

    As I see it there is no place for healing and happiness outside and safe from the many injustices and destructive powers which structure inequality, oligarchy and violence, nor from suffering and pain. My sincere hope is that the number of survivors of the many injustices, betrayals and violences would come together live alternatives in the hearts and minds of eco-socio-culturally accountable responseability, based on acceptance of hurt, suffering and grief. I rather envisage initiatives in which – protected by the majorities wanting a more eco-socially and morally responsible human world – the real suffering and pains need not be rejected, abandoned and stigmatized as disgrace of unhappiness.

    I honestly think that happiness is inadequate in the actual political sphere of dominating violence and abuse harming majorities worldwide. Happiness within the political struggle of many majorities of the oppressed, assaulted and victimized I see in moments of collective realisation of ‘ilands of caring democracy rooted in responseability’. Self determined action and freedom have only been for the powerful ever. With terribly destructive consequences. I honestly question wether the modern quest for freedom and happiness is else than the yelling and exarcebation of aggressive and deeply irresponsible ‘civilisation’.

    Healing form the acute terrors of abjection and mentally burning uproars, visions and horrors, from the brute mental and action violence of psychiatry – as others in slavery or prisons – for me began in solidarity with the victimization of ‘others’, in solidarity of poverty, in solidarity of having suffered and seen the faces, actions, roles and structures of legalized, powerful class violence lay open. Psychiatry I experienced as inquisition which brought down my naïve illusions and beliefs of any action that is not accountable to respect and support the poor, exploited, victimized.

    The pain and the fears are sleeping in my body, heart and mind, they are hurting in memory and in contact with many sufferings and violences. They are the hurt inside which nourishes my humility, gives me humble feelings. I learned that pain, suffering and sadness, silent being-with in nature, moments of joy with friends, but always the hurting, grieving, wounded breathing inside make me human. I wonder wether the pursuit of happiness is not keeping us in the claws of aggressive lifestyles of expansionism in self-fulfillment. I wonder wether it is not welcoming pain and suffering from injustice and violence, illness and aging, which would enable us to make our social relationships more diverse by sharing the wounds and suffering, by memorizing in body and soul, as necessary for more diversity and solidarity.

    I honestly think that the prioritizing of happiness and wellbeing, apart from being cynically demanded from the powerless, exploited and oppressed as new paradigms of care, is building barriers towards enabling responsible democracies, tolerant through wounding and suffering, therefore able to live in diversity.

    I am as fearful of the power and ideology of the happy thrivers who turn away from the pain and suffering to be, from this turning point on, resilient, expansive, aggressive in the righteous fights and celebrations; thus ultimately in danger of already being aggressors and power-players themselves, perpetuating the historic cercles where revolutions turn into taking power and becoming governors.

    Suffering and hurt, kindness and humbleness may be fundamental to balance possibilities of democracies based on shared responseability in being diverse, suffering and forgiving, for responseability between humans and animals, reconciliating nature and culture.

    (Pls ‘forgive’ the inwoven Germanisms.)

  • Thank you, danke, Sigi, for informing on the policy and propaganda position of Ulrich Hegerl. Once again, I am disappointed by the sticky lobbying and abuse of interest of leading researchers as agents of the psychiatric, pharma and insurance industries. Insurance industry has decisive power about the billing and offering of therapies and drugs in Germany.

    There is good news to, critical social psychiatrists have just published a review on the decrease of cerebral frontal volume associated with first and second generation ‘anti psychotics’. The German authors conclude that the prescription guidelines, demanding ad hoc and long term prescription of ‘anti psychotics’, need be changed and prescription kept to a minimum.
    Abstract in English / Article in German – Nervenarzt, May 2014
    Frontal brain volume reduction due to antipsychotic drugs?
    Frontale Hirnvolumenminderung durch Antipsychotika?
    V. Aderhold1 , S. Weinmann2, C. HĂ€gele3 und A. Heinz3
    These truly social psychiatrists are researching, disseminating and influencing German policy makers, national mental health organisations and guideline expert committees to overhaul the practice of prescription of psychotropic / neuroleptic drugs towards minimization and withdrawal, with providing diverse psychotherapeutic and psychosocial ‘treatments’ as well as peer support.

  • Dear Dad,
    Much more than angry, reading your post, I am impressed about the clearly well informed support you give to your son. It still is a rarity that parents, at first, belief their kid vs the experts and, second, do so much alternative research to see through the neuropathology myth underpinning the drug-pushing and CTO business that psychiatry has become over the last 30 years.
    How is your son doing? Can your son get alternative diagnostic assessments by English psychiatrists who know more about abuse and trauma and would support him in getting access to psychological or trauma-informed talk therapies?
    Has your son contacted advocates or the Hearing Voices Network (open to other mental and emotional struggles following abuse, neglect, rejection, betrayal, oppression, etc) for exchange, exploration of possibilities to proceed?
    As you are not to be deceived by psychiatry turned normalcry-fiction-based control, psychiatric ‘treatment’, based on ignorance and silencing of difficult/shattering experiences, therefore at high risk of harming highly distressed people, you may find support from enligtened people, experts by experience/peer specialists as well as critical of psyciatry professionals. The latter being especially active in the UK with trauma-and-abuse clinicians and researchers beyond them, critical psychiatrists.
    If you were German it would be a pleasure to invite you to join our Experienced Involvement movement with relatives working in and for peer support and humane and respectful therapeutic relationships.
    Chapeau for your well informed actions to support your son in getting more humane and relevant suport. Tell him there are peer support groups with many others who shared the real difficult stories outside of psyciatry, and found mutual understanding and authentic voices, rebuild courage and love of life through the many facets of our stories, there are many more than the dark and confusing ones which dominate in crises, in peer support groups we can be-come whole again, find self-respect and a much broader shared knowledge of the difficulties and beauties of life.
    We survivors say that we belief in healing, recovery and growth through sharing lived stories and tons of humanity. I send these ideas as guiding stars to your son.
    Best wishes to your son and to you Dad (and family).

  • There seem to be regular moron-shrinks, well educated by mainstream psychiatry’s SMI concepts. So this moron-sity is powerful, violent and potentially or actually harmful.

    Not sooo long ago, I had struggled on my own with the enormous consequences of projects skyrocketing and breaking down as I had created all very super-really in a phase of saving me in a better world. After months of struggles in different realities the dark sides became overwhelming and I finally called for help (in Germany there are local social psychiatric services). I was immediately send see a psychiatrist who after 10 minutes told me I was a ‘textbook case’ of severe mania (bipolar) and no talk therapy would ever work (I’d had some over the years).

    Then I was to see the psychiatrist at the town’s psychiatric service who took more than an hour to listen to my doings and worries; try talk from different worlds all crushing in a way or another having to to with my dream gone wild projects turned desastrous. His medical conclusion was very pragmatic: I needed to be checked at psych hospital and he would recommend I work in a factory after remission. That would be best to calm me down and provide regular procedure far away from crazy imagination. I was totally nailed down – hadn’t I told the psy that I had already be deadened bored by office work (one aspect which had made me want to start to live differently) and wanted to use my intelligence and creativity and education. Now all that ‘over and out’ (I did not go in wild states life dream out of nothing!!!) BUT for protective mechanisms I was to work in a moron factory, deadened before dead. I felt very dangerous black swords coming down on me and finally agreed to go to psychiatric hospital. Terrible times.

    So what? I was lucky some months later that the social service worker and my new psychiatrist all recognized my potential and education and acknowledged my earlier work experiences and academic education. But how much damage and fear I had had to endorsed: NO ONE PSY in time of terrible distress torn between fragmented worlds and in no socially shared realities had even listened to the very real and difficult stories and events which were all in the themes and motives of me going into turbo-states. I was told my manic delusions had nothing to do with my identity. WHAT?!

    That was when psychiatry went dead and dangerous to me: I knew they were wrong. I was horrified they ignored my life history and judged me … from ‘textbook cases’?! I can’t trust these people! I knew they were wrong and ignorant BECAUSE of my life being evidence against their judgements.

    They would threaten me until I took drugs in hospital… but when I was released I went on my own quest to wish to understand. That was when I started research using comprehensive sources which made sense. That was which gave me the ressources to deepen my understanding. That was why my new psychiatrist would trust in my senses and my struggle for meaningful understanding and planning (against all odds).

    I withdraw against the will of all mh professionals (I have some basiscs in neurophysiology which were incompatible wit taking unspecific neuroleptics or anti-epileptics). But I went on reading, drawing, working on my recovery using other sources (anthropology, hearing voices, JW Perry, survivor accounts, recovery stories). And my psychiatrist did not force me to take medication, so I trusted him and shared with him my struggles and my own recovery strategies.

    Three years later my town’s survivor association and my psychiatrist supported me in going back to uni to learn the methodolody for becoming a user researcer (building in my life course and education in anthropology and social psychology). The factory is no longer the living grave menacing to roboterize me. I worked creatively, with grieving and balancing of more feelings (HA, thx to all my extreme experiences). I was finally respected.

    BUT what if I had landed in the coercive claws of mainstream psychiatric treatment and legal guardian power to send me to psych’ hospital and make me take medication. How lucky and educated by anthropologists, alternative psy’ thinkers and survivors was I to have my new psychiatrist respect my recovery strategies and ignore when legal guradian wanted me send to hospital. How many of my survivor peers cannot draw from helpful recovery knowledge from these sources to stand up in the intellectual, moral and human struggle and, over time, make their psychiatrist trust in their capabilities and their own healing stretegies.

    How big a part of my recovering-story is LUCK, cause my psychiatrist is a very open minded and grounded person who supports so many people with altered states experiences. He doesn’t fear some emotional or intellectual turmoil. I sometimes feel I need to say a prayer that I was not left to mainstream psychiatry where the post-psychotic descend into fears, agitation between unreal worlds and diagnostic depersonalization of whomever I was had started with. The ignorant and invalid psychiatric diagnoses reductionism and destructive beliefs in people with psychotic experiences impairments and vulnarabilities would have send me to work in a disabled people factory-like ghetto.

    Imagine this reality: now I am studying abroad, often struggling and developping new strategies to keep me going when times are difficult. Thx to survivor group attendance at Uni I am a student, not a disabled and impaired one. Allowed to struggle and make seemingly small progress at my speed (to assimilate loads of imagination takes time). No more fear of ghetto and morons! Enjoying MIA, relying on peer support group membership, survivor activism, keeping with demanding studying. Always on a trauma-informed recovery-&-ressource building-journey in a multiplex presence.

  • Thanks for your critical comments, Julie.
    I regard the internal-external devide as false. The conplexe functioning of the central and peripheral nervous system in living and moving organisms has developed evolutionaly and in the individuals as interacting with environments. Instead of causal models we need better understanding of the organismically and neuro-pathways/circuitries as enabling ‘functional’ behaviour and conscience as well as the patterns and structures of the environment. What I regret is rather the lack in concepts of beavior which takes into account the evolutionary pre-shaped and individually differenciated neuronal pathways for behavior and organismic ‘states’ (arousal, affects, etc.) in the implicit and conscious interaction with ‘self’ and ‘environment’. I understand that due to the false and fraudulant misuse of nonsensical claims about ‘chemical imbalances’ rejection of the relevancy of neural pathway circuitries enabling of behavior can liberate from harmful generalized overprecription of neuroleptics and other psychotropic drugs. My interest is different cause I question the role of neurodevelopmental and organismic distress: how do chronic and acute fear and alert as enabled by neurofunctional-pathway circuitries play a role in emotional and mental extreme experiences. What I find important is – I realized this in my strong malaise about the ’empty noise of chemical imbalance talk’ – it’s about organismic and neuro-structured enabling of functional behavior. Such the magic-noise of generalized transmittor imbalances gets contradicted by the structured and regulated complex functioning of the nervous system of the interacting organism. The contrary is the prove by psychotropic overdose/or maintained neuroleptic drugging: severely disturbing the complex neurological circuitries’ enabling of functions is the result of bombarding multitude of receptors with drug compounds. Therefore I come to agree that any talk, and even my above writing, about ‘chemical imbalances’ is nothing but false. And terribly harmful in the abuse of psychiatry-presciribed, generalized neuroleptic and psychotropic drug consumption.

  • Big thumbs up for this important initiative! Have felt frustrated and angry to many years about millions of activists being kept from access to research findings locked behind multi-dollar pay walls. Sending specific articles out from behind the pay walls of academic peer reviewed journals to a wider ‘public’ is prohibited. I have been doing this to a small degree, emailing to some friends for ‘educational purposes’. Each time I felt the injustice of only reaching a ridiculously small number of ‘peer survivors’.

    The Users & Survivors in Academia and/or the Lived Experience Research Network shareable Dropbox folder is tearing down walls akin to ‘fort know scientific safe’. As they are spread about on individual websites and not systematically indexed, I suggest ‘grey literature’ reports on user/consumer research projects be included in the new drop box. Over more than a decade the latter, especially in the UK, have been pioneering to make users’/consumers’ voices radically change the evidence base of what gets systematically explored and reported about mental health issues from the mouth of lived experience.

  • I agree the pharma industry’s marketing models of ‘chemical imbalance’ are as vague and unspecific as the drug compounds’ effects on the scandalously broad target areas in the brain (and wider neuro-hormonal system).
    With regards to the implication of ‘chemical’ changes in the functional pathways in striatal-meso-limbic and inter-connectivity of ‘higher neo-cortical areas’ – preshaped in evolutionary circuits and adapted through behavioral plasticity – I would be interested in two main questions
    – specification of the useless and dangerous ‘chemical imbalance’ propaganda by context-behavior-related research into functional organic and neural pathways, using dynamic continuum models, and taking into account regulatory mechanisms of mind-body-context inter-connectedness
    – thereby exposing the falseness of an artificial disease model of un-located, non-pathway specific neuro-transmittor deficits or increases like in ‘chemical imbalance in the brain’
    However, my view only, I find it dangerous to promote an idea of there being no chemical imbalances in the brain as this is how it works, through regulated functional changes in transmittors and other compounds. My opinion is that a generalistic stance like ‘done with chemical imbalance theory’ – central and peripheral nervous system interregulation and enablement of organic, affective and mental states, through ‘functional chemical imbalances’ have no crucial role in major distress or fear/victimization/mental responses – can easily discredit the ‘naturalistic opinions’ (anti-medication, anti-chemical imbalance-based disease theory’ especially in the survivor/user/consumer movement. Most often, the critical and conventional psychiatric professionals and especially reseachers are at a much lesser risk to be ridiculed ‘ignorant’, exactly due to their knowledge of neurophysiology and interrelations between neurofunctional pathways and organisms ‘meaningful’ states (alert, attention, fight, freeze, flight etc) and their impact on behavior. In my view many in the survivor/user/consumer movement are vulnarable to ‘naturalistic anti-chemical-imbalance ideologies for two reasons – having suffered real harms by the overmedication with neuroleptic drugs and poly-pharmacy – lack of physiology and neurophysiology education related to organism’ enabled and cns interregulated experiences and behaviors.
    I just wish it is not the survivors/users/consumers who will be blamed of irrationality and extremism again for simplistic opposition to and rejection of the fraudulant abuse of chemical imbalance paradigm for sales of ‘overall’ brain-disease-related neuroleptic pharmaceuticals.
    PS My interest lies rather in the implication of neuronal pathways in central evolutionary circuits as possibly engaged – via organism in context – in fear/agitation/perception/mentalization in ‘delusions, paranoia, mania’. I am interested in possible relaxing and calming processes through embodied and contextualised, be it individual, be it social network, ‘interventions’ with as little use of carefully explained and agreeable neuroleptic medication as possible.

  • Great suggestions B. Better and more media presence can really start things get moving in favor of peer recovery work and peer&professional co-delivered support braking down social barries through collaboration. It’s more engaging seeing people interact in diversity and embodied dialogical ways… than seeing statistics about drug consumption, hospitalisation etc. Reciprocal and fully humane recovery programs are also far more convincing than talk therapy only; who’d ever believed one recovers essential capabilities and interactive trust and skills by talking to a personally unengaged expert only?

  • The Hearing Voices approach has been based on research, evaluated and is continouosly broadening the research in models of psychological, social and even neurodevelopmental factors of Hearing Voices. In practice there are approx 300 Hearing Voices groups worlwide, many co-facilitated by peers and professionals. The number of people who have recovered through psychological, emotional and social learning and empowerment in Hearing Voices groups is increasing ever more.

    My ‘special interest’ concerns the ‘dance’ theme. Different forms of individual dance focusing on emotional awareness have long been part of the canon of ‘Gestalt therapies’ and of mental health services. Over the last decade there is a growing acknowledgement of social dance for embodied empowerment and hole health recovery. There is many essential healing and well-being qualities in social dancing – obviosly it directly improves relationship potentials over all dimensions: embodied, emotional, reactive.proactive, lived respect, partnership, agency, focus, balance, reciprocity AND can therefore transform even unconscious embodied levels of existence often weakened or disrupted in people with severe long-term distress and isolation. Folks wo ridiculise the healing and empowering characteristics of social dancing for people with SMI only demonstrate your ignorance.

    Here is a video documentary of a collaborative social dance project from a psychiatric hospital in Switzerland, with patients and mh professionals dancing together. You wanna know what happened, how people were positively transformed by the experience, here go go: meet Pierre Dulaince dance classes in psychiatric hospitals in Switzerland

    One of my fav hypothesis is that social dance is a powerful support for people tapering of drugs. This has to do with embodiment and implicit meaning making in social dance co-production and the supporting roles of rhythm and music. The day will come social dance and familiar activities will be systematically offered alongside talk and occupational therapies.

  • Julie,
    ‘Chapeau’, thanks and applause for you responding to every single post. I have just up-dated my reading of today’s posts andyour answers. I find it enormously validating how you reflect all the main issues and arguments posted, share your thoughts and compassion about each. Awesome and very constructive. Is their a blog ‘author’ and ‘facilitator’ award somewhere out here for us to dedicate to you? So well merited!

  • @ Julie Leonovs @ Nick Redman

    Thank you for the clear wording and the call for a response on why psychiatrists still give recommendations that are clearly biased towards neuroleptic drugs. The late confession that ‘the psychiatry community has known all along that the theory (on Serotonin depletion) is not true.” (Leo, J. and Lacasse, J., 2012) can make a rather cynical read with regards to guidelines and practices, and primarily, to harm done to patients.

    In my view it is important to support a paradigm shift from ‘treatment’ to ‘reciprocal learning’ using diverse sources of insight, experience, embodied, psychological and social factors in mental health disturbance and step-wise subjective recovery (based on respect for a person defined relation to her unusual experiences). Therefore exploration and evaluation of the social, emotional, developmental, growth processes, the pocesses of change through dialogue and learning in different ‘talk therapies’, peer-run or co-facilitated support groups, peer-run and co-facilitated recovery education programs is needed. It is needed exactly to be able to evaluate the beneficial and possible distressing effects in face-to-face and group-based exchange, learning, growth and empowerment processes vs processes that can lead to distress and rejection. In my view a much better understanding of beneficial and challenging social learning processes in facilitated peer support groups as safe spaces (sic) has shamefully been neglected in research. This may be due to the public opinion, and I am afraid many mh professionals’ view, that peer support is only self-help and the real effective treatment must be conducted by psychiatrists and psychologists.

    The research and evaluation into consumer-led/user-led/co-produced experience-based support groups which make use of psychological and social learning processes, using experienced based planning of subjective recovery (with respect to ongoing vulnerability or unusual perceptions whilst supporting constructive meaning-making and self-empowerment, more personal control over distressing experiences and support for the up-take of social, educational, vocational activities) has only been expanding over the last years and funding is still scarce. However, in parallel to social and political activism, it is decisive, in my opinion, to build systematic and broad evidence on the potentials, processes, benefits, but also challenges and potential harms to be addressed, inherent to experienced-based, reciprocal learning and social empowerment in peer support and recovery group programs.

    I agree, the notion of subjective recovery needs be nuanced and critically discussed. I here refer to a fundamental right to socially mediated recovery of self in a subjectively meaningful and active life highly dependent on social opportunities for many people. Social mediating refers to the necessity for most people to be heard and listened and answered in order to listen to themselves, give more hopeful responses to thoughts, voices, roles of self. Facilitated peer support & recovery group programs have unique experiential knowledge, real social diversity and therefore safety to offer which has been too little explored and evaluated.

    To abstain from exploring and evidencing the complexity of processes and benefits as well as challenges in facilitated peer support & recovery learning programs does, in my view, serve traditional treatment policies at the dispense of these ‘new’, experienced-based, facilitated support and recovery group programs.
    The issue of ‘brain imbalance’ is far too complex, in my view, to be debated in dichotomous injections of yes or no, for or against, which miss and distort how the brain and bodily cns work in super-complex ‘imbalance regulations’ being informed by embodied interactions, intentional thoughts and expectations related to social interactions, values, norm and power disparities or structural and interpersonal violence. It is because people know that their brains, bodies, emotions and thoughts (all organically and socially mediated) function in regulated and structurally shaped ‘flows of imbalances’ that nearly everybody, professionals and clients, gives some credibility to the ‘brain imbalance’ claims. Fundamentally, what has been shown through knowledge of brain and embodied functioning is that the brain is not a causal actor and that drug consumption easily and most often result in harmful effects because psychotropic drugs non-specifically target striatal, meso-limbic and neocortical neurological circuits and significantly interfere with the necessary ‘grades of freedom’ for regulation of body-cns-brain. However, this discussion exceeds my knowledge. My contribution is to caution not to get trapped in ‘brain imbalance, true or false’ – debates which by their very over-simplistic wording seem misleading and unhelpful to me. I welcome all research evidencing how the neuroleptic over-dosing of the whole living organ-cns-brain leads to extreme and enduring physiological harms, emotional and psychological impairments, etc.
    Research into activities which support restauring embodied and neurological complexity and flexibility of functioning has been far too little undertaken. This is only partly due to the complexity, dynamics, inter-connectedness and inter-activity to be accounted for. Nevertheless, there may be promising developments in embodiment and inter-action research, and one day more ‘robust and rigorous’ evidence on the healing emotional and organismic and mental (complex inter-regulations restauring) effects of yoga, animal contact, multi-layered processes in music making, and many more.

    In my view building a scientific research paradigm for embodied, emotional, intention and interaction supporting ‘holistic’ activities has been badly neglected. I mention this to emphasize that the ‘brain-gaze’ needs be opened up to a perspective on a more ‘socio-ecological’ research paradigm. This will enhance our knowledge on dialogical, embodied, inter-actional and socially supported healing, recovery and empowerment processes, plus how these can be supported by ‘healthy lifestyle’ activities. The usefulness of these approaches for drug withdrawal, with only minimal use of neuroleptic drugs in the beginning of truly severe organismic, affective and mental ‘terror-disturbance’, is part of my thinking. I hope it becomes clear to the reader why I chose to offer broader questions and perspectives and not respond in a more targeted way.

  • Brilliant
    B, your above arguments blatantly remind me of
    Bad Industry badly needs regulations as not to proceed with Bad Pharma
    Bad Medicine, or better Bad Psychiatry, better stop blabbering about ‘Bad brains’
    Sorry I am on the B track here
    Bravely better psychiatrists should back up their knowledge on Brain Neurology
    Back away from Brain imbalance blabla based on nothing but Bad Science.
    For the better or just my brain brewery, I may be bewildered, but I am not even British.
    Bad bet or good, being curious as a bewitched social scientist be.
    In case this is a bad idea, back with complaints to me!

  • Brilliant.
    I want more ideas how to connect user/survivor work, recovery and inclusion ‘political correctness declarations’, peers and survivors desire to organizational and cultural change to how make this ‘get real’. In my view more and more mental health professionals face related challenges in the gap between policy talk and restructuring of the NHW with new roles of commissioning and ‘out sourcing’.
    Adults with mental health problems do face the social exclusion from education and competitive job market and restauring their mental health can’t demand them to be blind to structural injustice and economic violations done to an ‘increasing majority’ of people. Nevertheless, the basic values of peer work and survivor activism are the ones of civil social change movements, therefore, is there real potention to support mental health in sharing information on both voluntary and ecudational opportunities but also information on the biography, history, and real world conditions of their respective groups, and, third, information on making contact with social activism groups who are based on shared collaboration and equity values?
    As individualisation in psy therapies is well aligned with general neo-liberalist closing down of social services and social institutions, there is no real social context and real social roles and goals to be found in therapies. However I have never met people set a ‘personal’ goal if similar ones exist as opportunities in the real social world people need to play their roles in. There is, in my view, no individualist way out of patient-dependency role! There must be a mes-osocial and jobs/roles/careers real world context for people to re-connect and take up socially transfered responsibilities. Individual self-responsibilisation is a non-sense idea, one responds, so social actors and structures are the necessary condition for responding and being responsible for. No ‘personal recovery’ and getting an active social live which is not dependent on the real social context. And lots of drugs and addictions do not have to do with individuals vulnerability or ’caused’ by abusive upbringing, but with social dicrimination, exclusion, oppression and being rejected from social existence, so being negated adulthood.
    I’d like to know how the WRAP groups and the Recovery Colleges adress this issue.

  • @ wileywitch
    Mark Sullivan

    Thank you every one for sharing your ideas and perspectives!

    Expert by Experience peer support, reciprocal and deeply motivated learning, sharing and trying ‘felt roles’, building understanding on characteristic features of traumatising disruptues, mental and emotional expeditions of extreme nature, as well as creative, empathic, strategic, social competencies, there is much of unique insight, compassion and getting real that peers in recovery can offer. There is a reason we do not refer to our support as ‘cognitive behavioral’. See how our ‘principles’ differ: Respect, equality, mutual responsibility, tolerance of diversity, acceptance of extreme altered emotional and mental experiences while addressing the distressed person with utter dignity, creating safety through peers being attentive and present with honest resonance, being real as an individual, in my view qualify as embodied and respectful interpersonal welcoming and basic human validation. I still think that Shery Meads trauma informed IPS is invaluable to me. So thanks for sharing your support for peer recovery communication.

    I like this quote from a Dutch peer run recovery programme:
    ‘To gain confidence with your own strengths and then develop and expand them, one needs experiental knowledge. … All these individual stories together form collective experiental knowledge: knowledge how it is to live with mental vulnerability and its consequences. … On an individual (interpersonal/group) level it helps empower fellow sufferers in their quest for their own strenght/s. On a higher level it paves the way for user (consumer/survivor) influence in improving mental health services.’

    What I appreciate in facilitated peer recovery groups is that there is not one expert with mystique higher knowledge and psycho-power; there is not one who owns the ‘right knowledge’, the ‘being the normal role model’. I belief this absence of authority in ownership and leadership is crucial. Its replaced by a shared WE, you and you and you, space, by dialogues owned and made by all, by travelling thoughts, feelings, real experiences which people can feel, try on (if I may say so), with dialogues created together, you and me and you and we, and this creates real people learning. Powerful cause no one has THE power, but everyone empowers and takes home shared ME-power.

    So yes, peer recovery groups are such a wonderful healing ‘innovation’ : cause historically it is new,people can now come together from all kind of ethnic and educational backgrounds, ages, genders and transform disadvantages in mutual empowerment. I always wonder how magic it is that loving some feelings or ideas in other survivor peers so much opens my own being to feel and like and belief in myself, cause I do not need to be ‘normal’, I am deeply liking some awesome qualities in my peers and this also transforms my heart and my mind, so I can believe in them but also in myself. Seeing peers talents and strenghts with being far from the ‘normal perfect illusion’ and deeply loving them for wonderful qualities, gave me my capability to re-like myself and even re-love something in myself – such a deep power from their heart to mine. Well, one day I will hopefully write about these kind of experiences and qualities which are unique to peer recovery groups <3

  • THE TRANSFORMATIVE AND EMPOWERING ROLE of SURVIVOR COLLECTIVES is now crucially necessary for clinical and academic knowledge to rebuild relevancy, validity and potential for recovery support – COLLECTIVE CHANGE and REDISTRIBUTION of KNOWLEDGE BUILDING POWER URGENTLY NEEDED

    I appreciate that the discussion about the availability and assessment of how CBT for ‘psychosis’ is carried forward here on the MiA blog, my constant source of inspiration, learning, and, yes, comraderie with socially engaged survivors and mh professionals with lived experience of sharing ‘clients’ problems, distress and extreme experiences in their real worlds.

    Having attended to the ‘debate’ if CBT for psychosis has been oversold, I am thankful for Peter Kinderman actually including the voices and views of clients who had received CBT and their carers. For me it was crucial to ave the occassion to appraise the respectul and emphatic attitude Peter Kinderman has toweards his ‘clients’. Because, yes, I am critical of the academic conceptualisation of CBT as in the individual’s thinking causes the indivividual’s affective appraisal and it’s the individuals affective-cognitive ‘praxis’ which cause te individual to behave is a specific way. Sounds like an artificial exercise, pardon, experiment in some psychological laboratory. This needed to be said, in an oversimplistic fashion, as the London debate was not the place to discuss WHAT kind of CBT was (to be) ‘delivered’ by WHOM, only clinical psychologistsß, with what kind of training and ‘clinical’ experience and attitude (human beliefs), HOW MUCH of CBT, individual CBT or group CBT, WHAT are the safeguards that the beliefs, voices, experiences of the clients are respected etc.

    During the debate only the mean aggregated effect of CBTp treatments, measured as change in ‘positive symptoms’ or compiled ‘positive and negative symptoms, was presented in the way scientists do this: as a meta-analyses, a summary and weighting of the mean overall effect on clients’ symptomatology from all included CBTp studies. For information, the overall effect size from approx 20 trials was found to small – and confidence intervals cause for statistical doubts on chance findings, by the presenting scientists wo backed the notion that CBTp for psychosis has been ‘oversold’.

    Dear reader, pls do not shoot the messenger, I did not choose the terminology neither the methods = how to conveice and manualize CBTp and how to assess its ‘impact’ on ‘psychosis symptoms’ in the trials/studies. However, the aggregation of the studies in a meta-analysis is what mental health politics, mh professionals commissioning and decision making is expected to be based on. It builds the famous scientific ‘evicence base from most rigorous and unbiased studies.

    My criticism is straightforward – I question the danger of training individuals attention and behavior in self-centred thinking, feelings and behavior at the dispense of the biographical and, here is the real danger, social, cultural, economic and political powerful oppression, exclusion and injustice violence and how they really trans-act on people’s disempowering experience of violence of all sorts. The thinking, beliefs, behaviors and affects of people are not magically created in their ‘subjective inner worlds’, but obviously relate to many interactions in the real and most often injust and agressive and violent social world, through policies and rules and finally single actors and life events. In my view the danger of CBT is to individualise and ‘family-base’ the thinking, feeling, beliefs and values which individuals… only share, learn and suffer in real life contexts which are shaped by powerful cultural and econimic politics and, nowadays, neo-liberalist individualist norms of behavior, activity, values and strategies of self-responsibilisation and economic professional achievements.

    Therefore I see a huge risk of highly educated professionals, taking for granted their styles of tinking and experiencing in self-controlled manners, which is totally related to their social classes and cultures norms, behaviors and powerful groups, to be given the power to conceive of, structure, stratagize and train peope with experiences of extreme distress, social injustice and its translation to oppressive life events who often come from wholly different real worlds. What if… collectively expressing and adressing their experiences would allow people ditressed from multi-layered injustice to reconnect with their real world contexts and create empowerment, social recovery and healing social group adherence in ways to express their experiences, needs, collective and cultural powers, claims and hopes. Well, here is just one example from a music project based in one of the most ethnically diverse and socio-economically disadvantaged boroughs of London, people with and without experiences of extreme distress (psychosisof all kinds) go on stage and voice their experiences, desires, fears and claims

    Back to the evidence-base, the scientific studies on CBT for psychosis. Even though ‘user involvement’ in research is politically prescribed, most often this has resulted in some powerless consultation invitations of select service users. In my view, had people with the experience of ‘living their lifes with voices and extreme beliefs’ decidedly collaborated in the trials of CBTp many changes would have been introduced:
    – respect for and learning about the ethnical and cultural (marginalised) groups the clients come from need to be acquired by ‘providers’ of CBTp
    – individualisation of experiences, thinking, feelings, values, beliefs, oppression, violence. abuse, exclusion were seen as ‘ignorant’ and need to be replaced by exploration of wider social, political, cultural and economic norms and legistlation and their transmission to stressful life events or chronic injustice and oppression, and to include option for healthy tinking and feeling and action related to the injustices faced in the real world and social groups – this could be done by mh professionals of diverse ethnic backgrounds, survivor peers and clients, so a call for group ‘CBTp’ (is that still CBT?)
    – learning to relate extreme distress experiences to interpersonal as well as social norms, beaviors, values and violence as a way of ‘meaningfully living with voices and other extreme experiences’ and to accept the meaningful role of distress-related extreme and unusual experiences
    – ‘positive symptoms’ reframed as meaningful responses to oppressive cultural norms and interpersonal injustice, neglect, abuse, violence, despair, exhaustion no longer seen as to be made disappear; therefore a decrease in positive symptoms can’t be seen as ‘benefit’ of few session-long CBTp. This may even be regarded as nonsensical as voices, thoughts, feelings and values are challenged in any kind of ‘treatment’, ‘therapy’ and is is to be HUMANELY expected and known to happen that voices and feelings become more vital when starting a new interaction (especially before trust can build).
    – ‘negative symptoms’ are to bee questioned critically too as the challenging and adressing of voices, beliefs, extreme experiences is stressfull to the people experiencing them and it is understandable they may need to be for themselves to figure out how to deal with all this new stuff coming up in sessions and fuelling their voices, visions, beliefs, experiences, just like anybody would react with strong feelings or critical and difficult thoughts when opening up, being assessed, being ‘trained’ to change ones beliefs by a powerful professional, most often from a totally diff cultural and social background

    THEREFORE I conclude that I find the conception of CBTp trials needs to be ethically and humanely challenged and needs a complete overhaul with regards to all the decisive ‘ingredients’ mentioned.

    HOW anybody came to expect that some 6-8 sessions of CBTp offered to a distressed person by a person from amentally, emotionally and culturally ‘alien?’ reality should make only the clients beliefs and voices ‘decrease’, ‘go silent’, ‘become obidient’ and the client be expected not have a need to be on his own to cope and digest (negative symptoms) for me is not a myth neither a miracle. It is based on the culturally and professionally accredited power of research designers of the CBTp trials to, it seems, mostly be ignorant of the real life experiences, emotional and intelligent ideas, struggles, values, beliefs, voices, visions, etc. of people diagnosed with psychosis.

    It may be the voice of my ignorance that I only know of the HEARING VOICES MOVEMENT with more than 300 groups/hubs/networks worldwide to have developed a different understanding of voice hearing and extreme experiences or beliefs based on collective sharing of experiences, knowledge of distress, oppression and abuse, acknowledgement of the meaningsful roles and different cultural values that voices, beliefs and extreme experiences can have in our real social and cultural worlds. As much as I welcome the familiarities in CBTp and some ingredients of Dialogues wit Voices, there are more crucial and promising differences. It is time to keep straight forward: In my opinion, it is the clinical and scientific communities who need to learn with and collaborate with people with unusual experiences, hearing voices and beliefs as social groups including an immense ethnic and gender, educational and cultural diversity (incl the cultures of living in the streets as we have little chairs and palaces) to be enabled to reframe the understanding of peoples’ extreme experiences and to create together learning approaches based on sharing of power and knowledges. INTERVOICE/ THE HEARING VOICES MOVEMENT and independent survivor conceived and peer led recovery initiatives and their organisations SAMSHA with NATIONAL EMPOWERMENT CENTER, PILLARS FOR PEER SUPPORT NATIONAL CONVENTION of ORGANISATIONs have enormous socially embedded and experience based knowledge to offer.

    ‘THE PERSONAL IS THE POLITICAL’, states Jacqui Dillon, chair of Hearing Voices Network UK. In my view we continue to fail and betray people if we do not collaborate on what to do together to make meaning making relevant to the real social worlds’ people act and suffer in, to relate to collective learning and the need for collective social and political action. CBTp is part of a treatment approach governed by individualist and cognitive paradigms from ‘operationalist experimental psychology’. It is therefore in great danger to be used as an instrument of indoctrination and injustified individualist disempowerment of often disadvantaged people in extreme distress or struggling to make sense … of what is more than their subjective lifes.

    This ‘pamphlet’ is written by a middle-class, white, female survivor. My own journey into benefit related poverty, coming together with people from diverse BME and cultural backgrounds (see the link to the music project) keeps challenging and teaching me. In my view people from middle class backgrounds can choose to play a role as long as we are aware how our ‘strengts’ and ‘capabilities’ , our (often) rationalist rigidity and suspicious individualism, which I blame weaknesses, are shaped by our social groups and different struggles with neoliberal oppressive and destructive politics, and how we can differently benefit from collective learning and solidarity and diversity in social action, especially in mental health systems and for the creation of severe distress related support and collective education. I think that it is for people blinded by the prisons and privileges of their own cultures and groups to want to learn from people with diverse and different experiences, and I am convinced this applies to us all. Measure our contributions to what each of us is challenged and invited to learn from other groups – cause the struggle against destructive corporate elites overrruling democracies and destroying social accountabilities basically brings us together.

    Individualist interventions separated from social collective activism and community work seem displaced with regards to the struggles but also the opportunities of people with experiences of severe distress and extreme ideations. Cause injustice, abuse, disempowerment is what takes place in the experiences of people with extreme distress; whereas the chance to learn about diversity as well as common challenges is what can empower for reciprocal, collective learning and common strategies for social recovery and social change.

    More a pamplet than a response. I am convinced we need the broader real life worlds’ context to be able to get what is happening, to be able to see and create understanding, learning and empowerment opportunities yet excluded from clinical work and academic research.

    Ute Maria Kraemer
    Anthropology Maitrise, survivor (privileged? and working without pay, so privileged?), currently MSc Mental Health Services Research education to work as a survivor anthropologist researcher later, research to be based in collective movements fighting for socially accountable democratic systems, and survivor movements claiming these rights and responsabilities

  • Dear Leah,

    Thank you for addressing the crucially important issue of VIOLENCE and TRAUMA in our society, both structural and infiltrating groups and families. Your insight, reflectivity and courage to address these essential problems in our mega-stress and conflict-burdened modern society are much needed and appreciated.

    I would like to honor the pioneer works of two american ladies at this occasion:
    Shery MEAD’s development of trauma-informed peer support (now Intentional Peer Support)
    Judith HERMAN”s clinical, feminist and research work on Trauma and Recovery
    Both ladies, their colleagues and clients/peers are my constant inspiration.

    Here in England, two lady trauma survivors have collected and developed amazing insight on ABUSE, TRAUMA, DISSOCIATION – Jacqui DILLON honoree researcher & Eleanor LONGDEN psychologist. They deliver 2-3 day workshops which are truly life changing.

    Inspiring TED talk 2013 video by trauma survivor & psychologist Eleanor Longden, research coordinator of INTERVOICE Hearing Voices Network International,

    For people interested in a comprehensive summary of recent academic research on trauma, neuro-development, post traumatic distress, an excellent lecture by one of the leading US experts Bessel VAN DER KOLK, MD, Boston University School of Medicine, Trauma Center Boston, May 2013, CHILDHOOD TRAUMA, AFFECT REGULATION, POST TRAUMATIC DISORDERS

    With gratitude for your fabulous work at the National Empowerment Center and with the consumer/survivor movement and with
    Kind regards

  • Dear Oryx, Kate, Russerford, Jonathan and all contributing to this blog-discussion,

    Reading each of your shared experiences stirs up my mind, heard, and every cell. Rarely if ever, do peope listen and answer whom their intense experiences brought to diverse and, for some, even opposing views, values and beliefs.

    I am writing as a survivor of long term existencial mental and emotional and physiological changes between fragmented ways of life. My severe anxiety, loss of any feel and idea who I may be, wild and creative intellectual work, terrible but silenced fears of peers, struggles to survive in thinking the world, explosions of an inherently shattered reality, were my struggles to be even a teenager, my struggles being terrified of the dark unknown of adulthood.

    I have never been severly abused, neither sexually nor physically in my childhood. I had parents which were role models in the community. I had parents who put all their efforts into selecting options of a good life and opposing to as well as forbidding any potentially risky ones. I learned early on to be shunned by other teenagers who mocked my beastly intellectual survival fights and who were shocked by my outbursts of violent and gostly changes of identity (the chinese geishy at a college dance, the egyptian flower girl at a uni workshop, the girl with the black hand painted in her face climbing on the balcony…)

    What I learned in order to understand my terrifying struggle and breaks was something that is rarely if ever acknowledged nowhere: that my parents had both endured terrible injustice, political terror, isolation from their families, for one, and a most ideological religious faith and morale straightjacket for the other. Both of my parents were born before WWII in Germany, both witnessed the fears and partly horrors of the bombing of cities, both grew up with the morale and strength to have to make it in life, create a place of safety that no one can disrupt. Their severe protection and control have been totally confusing to me, nevertheless, they always wanted the very best and were, as I said, socially, economically and culturally successful and much liked work colleague or friends. No one had ever hold out a hand to any of my parents when life knocked them down, there was no knowledge around as how to understand their extreme needs of control and success and their fears of bad which other people or teenagers would possibly bring unto their kids, my sis and myself.

    I think that until today, the terrors many of our parents have survived, social or educational injustice, terrors of economic depression or political persecution, and the very strengths and struggles they mustered when growing up and making a life have not been acknowledged. In my case, my parents wanted me to become a person like they deeply felt would lead a save life therefore all my unruly and emotional sides were shunned etc. In my story, sadly, one parent was so disappointed that I got rejected as a no-longer child. This parent was a hard working, kind person who was possibly horrified by my first teenager emotions and later my my roaring intellect, as the mad impersonations of other cultures heroines etc. did not happen to me when I was anywhere home.

    So, what I want to contribute is that as long as the strengths, fears, terrors, eventually over controlling and may be intrusive interventions done by parents (who want to ‘save’ their ‘disturning teenagers and adolescents’) are not listened too, as long as no one listenes to the terrible wounds they hide in their heards and souls, we may well stay at risk of remaining pray to the mindless and controlling of a psychiatric system that offers quick fixes by neuroleptic medication and is harmful when executing overprescription of pharmaceutical drug cocktails, as for the latter, there is evidence base on the harmful effect of long term neuroleptic drug-consumption. Drugs are turning people into emotional robots, or even worse, into zombies, and there is growing scientific evidence on these effects plus the harmful impact on metabolism etc. However, what I find so very destructive, is that the silencing and zombeing repeats what my parents needed to do their whole lifes: silence and swallow their pains, fears, terrors, losses, deceptions the very hard blows they endured as children, teens, and even adults. No one ever held out a hand to my parents neither our whole family.

    Therefore I want parents and siblings to be heard and supported, therefore I support the Open Dialogue approach where families are invited to speak about distress, fears, misunderstandings, misfit of best intentions, even unintended psychological mutual terrorising and pains and mad overcompensations as forces and powers of us all being humans and being humans in often economically or politically cruel times.

    As I see it, much of me becoming a crazy but ghostly intellectual, later a mad person torn between grandiose save me in a better world journeys, having me and my burning worlds flame up like volcano and tear me to pieces and push me down like faceless lava, being torn into the hottest and most shattering experiences in body, feelings, seductions, agressions, despair, rage, visions and crucifications, could have been ‘prevented’ – if ever the hidden fears, pains and terrors of my parents had been acknowledged, if they had need not to be so terribly controlling and rejecting huge parts of possible lifes from their kids, thereby unvolontarily distorting everybordies souls, hearts, relations, hopes.

    The true stories have never been told, so much of the feelings and dreams in my parents hearts have never known safety and togetherness. In my view, we will not be supportive in our journeys towards humane recovery – with careful and supported drug withdrawal for most – if we do not embrace in our families, communities and the psychosocial supports by peers or caring professionals – wise and totally humane people unafraid of all sorts of trauma and consequences – as long as we do not create safe collective places where stories can be told with all the pain, struggles and the dreams they contain.

    In my view, we need social common spaces to tell stories, to mourn the deaths and the losses in our family histories, to honor the hardships and hard work of most parents – ere one to us unruly teenagers also! – and to practice acceptance, learning and forgiveness. This is what the people in South Africa choose after Apartheit, no revenge, no correction, no drugging up, but collective places for telling and sharing painful stories with all teir longing and potential for love and strength.

    Cause if we don’t these kinda stories will come up in mad bits and pieces from one generation to the next. Or have people never become kind and strong adults as I have not been able too, cause I lived in the uproar of silenced dreams and horrors, restaging them in was got diagnosed as madness. Losing my father who rejected my out of ignorance and horror about the wildly thinking and madly acting non-daughter I had become. He never shared his traumatic childhood stories… as many of our fathers and mothers don’t. So we need to come together and share the terrifying, painful, deeply sad, deeply longing for feelings and love and dreams stories.

    That would be a very very different kind of recovery collectives, and we could invite the wise and senior people to help us build communities for story telling and creating transgenerational justice.

    So that mum’s like Kate are not left alone at the hands of a silencing and helpless psyciatric systems with mostly drugging up on offer. Mums’ and dads’ and siblings’ no longer left alone in protecting, and eventually overprotecting, their daughters and sons with mad experiences. Our madness in the community announces stories need to be told, and mums and dads need the support of groups of people with deeply humane knowledge and rituals for story stelling, forgiveness and finding amazing strenghts from reconciliation and discovery of their own families and their social groups real histories.

    With kind regards and loving wishes from a survivor, me a dauther who lost her (departed) father through his rejection cause there was no humane help for understanding, storytelling and reconciliation.

  • What are the possible consequences if scientists search only in the (very) dark? Omitting to include who switched the light of or what else has been going on in the real world where they selected their convenience sample – with questionable proportions from forensic and other mental healt services pulled together. Are we told what the ‘violence’ committed by the study participants was? Still, this is not what troubles me most. It is the omission of the historical, political, economical reality, the culture of occupation, civil wars, religious wars, independence wars … brutality and aggression for more than a century. The convenience sample was chosen … in Ireland, that is all we are told. What are we told about the wars at many levels which may have caracterized the cultural normality, over generations, from which the participants may have been selected? The omitted context is not only described for generations in daily papers, history textbooks, pamphlets. I remember the tribunals Hannah Arendt wrote about in after-Nazi Germany. Where she found that the executioners in te camps were not evil, but normal citizens living in times of war and racism, terror and fear. May be looking in the very dark only omits the essential factors which may lead a small proportion of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and who have a higher rate of diverse and multiple abuse experiences to be (how) more violent, or criminal, we are not told how, as many more others from this historical population plagued by generations of oppression and wars of all sorts. In my view, however, the applied reductionism of seemingly causal relations – by themselves?! – can lead to very dangerous conclusions and generalizations which may be fundamentally wrong. Therefore such kind of reductionist science can be dangerous with regards to public stigma and policy implications. Lack of historical and cultural and oppression, injustice, guerilla and war as well as economic depression related information can be so very dangerous. It can mislead readers to believe in associations which exclude decisive factors and present wrong concepts, easily inflated into ideologies, stigma and risk prevention politics for the wrong reasons and affecting a groupof chosen scapegoats. Very worried reflections I suggest as a clinical and cultural anthropologist and user/survivor researcher.

  • Dear Philip,

    Thank you for enriching the ‘never ending debate’ on the pretense that unusual forms of feeling, thinking, perceiving, behaving are caused by ‘irregularities’ in ‘the brain’ (with the exception of lesions). I much appreciate the stringency of your arguments.

    I wish to add that I strongly disagree with two fundamental assumptions in these kinds of conceptions:

    1/ I wait for the day that we stopp to apply causality to the understanding (or explaining) of human agency and experience. Ever since the establishment of biology the challenge was to be able to conceive circular and dialectic processes as modalities of human conduct in reciprocity with relevant others or ‘things’ in the environmental context.
    2/ For proper human sciences the dialectic and reflective nature of emotional and mental experiences which always presuppose specific social, cultural and spiritual contexts needs to be considered.

    It has been demonstrated many times that no perception, no emotion, no consciousness nor conduct are reducible to or can be caused by brain/organic processes. As the nervous system within the living organism is part of broader mediating systems, drugs or lesions/organic malfunctions can disrupt the above mentioned ’emergent’ abilities which will always be dependent on the interrelations with social agents and environmental factors.

    For the reasons mentioned above I am disappointed that the nature of the critical thinking on human experience has not a long time ago said good bye to the never ending debates between many different rationalist and causal conceptualisations which compete for a consistency that in its linearity and ‘physicality of chains of arguments’ misses the challenging complexity of biology as well as human experience and conduct.

    I would much appreciate suggestions for more adequate ways to conceive of human experience which may make oblivious the false claims of mental illnesses. ‘Der Geist kann nicht erkranken’ – The human mind/thinking can’t get sick – some old German Psychiatrist stated. A ‘thought disorder’ is an impossible concept. I hope this example illustrates the logical fallacy.

    It does nothing to reveal the complexity in animal and even more human experience, emotions, interactions, interrelatedness, conduct and consciousness/thinking.

    With kind regards

  • I would appreciate if commentators care and dare to respond also to the challenge in the project’s quest: a critical – pondered arguments by the writer – appraisal – considering what are the key points and the nature of thinking – of research by user/survivors.

    It is about what are the main questions of survivor research? What are the social signatures in saying one is a survivor/user/activist? What knowledge – beliefs in views on life, social positioning or belonging, values claimed necessary – is used in the survivor movement and in survivor researchß What do we have to offer when we recuse to own ‘naive’ lived experience only?

    What are the essential features survivors/consumers see as needed in the overall-picture and framework for the knowledge of survivors? How can we not be one-sided or rely on taken for granted beliefs ?

    How can we bring together the similar and essential from our diversely interpreted distress experiences and use it to bring about change in mental health services research which is dominantly restricted to technological expert investigations and distant controllable concepts.

    I do wonder that survivors writing about yoga and meditation and spirituality – all philosophies and practices which to me seem strangely closer to east asian cultures than western ones – are generally welcomed warmly by peers.

    When it comes to the challenge of building survivor/user knowledge and reflecting on it’s main features – I wonder why this intellectual project of survivor research seems less reflected upon but readily decried in some commentaries.

    I sincerely wish that survivor/users take care enough to see what the challenge to build survivor knowledge is about: a critical enterprise is one in which one or a group is asked to get to know ones/their thinking and beliefs. Thus use key words and beliefs with the ability to move and remove from standpoints. This allows to learn and to argue with respect even if the arguments of the other(s) differ from mine/my group’s.

    I wish genuine interest and respect to be granted not only to organic food, kandalini and meditation but also to the challenging enterprise of how-to-do survivor research.

    Kind wishes,
    Ute Maria

    PS I am a non-native English writer. I still care and dare to answer to the call for papers/ideas/comments on the nature of survivor research.

  • Thank you RON COLEMAN for sharing the beginnings of Hearing Voices UK with us. I am grateful you clearly write how survivor-peers could not life a full and long life as fully recovered indivuduals. Having rebuild their own personalities and living an active life in the survivor/Hearing Voices movement could not save them from the slow metabolic death brought to them by harmful and finally murderous psychotropic ‘medication’.

    I have taken from my shelf the book ‘My voices – terrorizing spirits and guardian angels’ written by German Hearing voices pioneer Hannelore Klafki. I swallow my tears and will use the rage against the medical-industrial complex – characterized ‘organized crime’ using methods like Stalin or the mob in Peter Gotzsche’s new book – Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime – to build my courage in speaking out against the muderous abuse of psychotropic overdosis and the chronic prescriptions of psychotropic drugs which are always inherently harmful to the regulatory networks in the brain-environment interaction and the organism-embodied interactions called LIFE.

    Instead of being a shameful survivor of psychotropic drugs I quickly came off from against the will of all psy’s, I will be grateful to have the chance to speak clear words against legalized abuse and murder by prescribing and often coercing people to take harmful drugs for years and years. Being furious and feeling hatred against such practices does not exclude the gratitude and love for the Hearing Voices/ Survivor activists slowly murdered by overdoses of psychotropic drugs. It is part of the gratitude and honor they deserve – in my view.

    I dedicate this commentary to Hannelore KLAFKI – RIP – (co)founder of the German Hearing Voices Network. With tears in my eyes; gratitude and strength in my ‘heart and mind’. You and many others being murdered by harmful psychotropic drugs legalized and positioned in Mental Health Guidelines must inspire our survivor speak out against all who are knowing liers and betrayers in this harmful medical-globalized system.

    Thank you pioneers of the Hearing Voices movement, all dead and alive. Thank you for remembering your friends and allies, dead and alive, Ron Coleman.

    Kind wishes (with tears and furious, loving strength)

  • Dear Rachel,

    Thank you so much for this article which, to me, is written in humane and lived experience words.

    The following is rather an ‘essay’ than a post.

    To me, it is compassionate to read that you felt and saw yourself as a monster, also in the mirror, and were persuaded to hide a dangerous alien inside when you created, in my words, ‘mythic’ and ‘animated’ image-creature-meaning of your identity.
    This seems very close to the lived drama meaning-making which resonates from the soul AND animated suffering flesh, may be a drama genre familiar with Grimm’s Fairy (and Monster) Tales. I emphasize this ‘genre’ because it is important to me that this vivid ‘mythic’ meaning-making is closely connected to the experience, thus dramatic, and not yet part of an ‘authored story’ – in which the me-authour would designate the monster as such. To me in a diffrent modality of meaning making the monster has rather overtaken the abused ‘one’, the me having no socially acceptable language as a human being ?!

    There is a moving reason (Beweggrund) for me to make the difference between genres as between being subjected in a soul’s mythic drama of lived experience of abuse, feeling a monster as a kid/teen, being made feel a monster and an alien, and the notion of ‘story stelling’. I myself was told by my psychological abusers that I was a subhuman without no real human feelings, plus, that I could not recognize that what I took for my intentions and for my feelings and my beliefs was part of my self-delusion. As my psychological abusers were my parents, they were certainly right, morally and humanely, as they knew me since my birth and thus had the longer and superior knowledge about the truly bad seed of evil intention in me. After having, in the flesh and in the mind, lost interactive agency and contact with my feelings, I then started believing that ‘a monstreous witch’ was hidden in me, as my true self my parents could see had evolved inside me from my birth.
    However, this was no story I told… instead, in the nights, I disappeared into the woods, curled onto the earth, and hurled to the superior being God behind the moon, why HE had made me a monstreous witch inside without me knowing why and how ?

    As a teenager I was not able to tell ‘a story’ about this tortureous frightening intermingledness of an evil witch charecter in my ‘infected’ true/deep self I had never chosen to become.
    Instead, I ran in the woods in the night. Instead, no longer knowing who ‘me’ was, I started living on a sliding egg-shell… Instead I was nothing but a good scholar whose intellectual rage was rejected by most of my classmates, the boring, avid, ever-questioning learner, no grades good enough. The only currency I had to pay for my childhood were grades, that was the rule ‘at home’.

    At the A level graduation party I painted a huge black hand in my face… at the A level graduation ceremony I appeared fully costumed like a japanese-chinese geisha mix-creature… at Uni I clothed in my real greek dress and painted my eyes and face in persian flowers… Never, in these years of having no clue who I was, apart of being frightened of the ‘monstreous witch inside me’ (age 17 – 20), did I have no story to tell from or about me.
    To me, it is very important that the emotional-psychological traumata inflicted ‘through’ my heart, flesh and soul, had ripped my me out of any ‘tellable’ story, in which I would still have been related as a human young ‘girl’ to other people – nonono, that was not possible (possible in the sense of a conditio humana).

    When have I been able to ‘tell’ my story?
    Neither live nor tell any story was my noman’s land. Later, for many years, I switched between submission in some short-time job and the desire to start my life in exhilirating and courageous new projects including what I had once loved, horses, good people, from before the traumata and the shattering…

    … but no escape from my guilt – the answer to my vivid resistance at age 17 to the brake of contract in selling my horse had been that I needed to be wiped out as a horse-lover in this childish, egocentric, subhuman-horse-madness to be terminated! by my own parents… yes, they succeeded: my tears for not wanting to loose my horse were making me and the whole family suffer… me being sad was inflicting a terrible destiny on the whole family… – thus I turned into a ghost and would never be able to love and grief again… for approx 25 years.

    No story I had to live, no story I had to tell… poems at age 19-23 seem to have been my ‘last true words’… poems, some desired fruits of life torn open and swollowed, some wars of the soul scattering onto roads untravelled…

    No, the psychological trauma of being judged subhuman, heartless, without compassion for my family, childish, reckless, at age 17teen had not been the only disruption and punishment of flesh, heart, soul… my horse, however, had been the one living creature which I had loved with all my kid-to-teen love in soul and flesh. For earlier ‘not normal’ child behaviour, which I had related to my first therapist, I was told to have been severely emotionally neglected. Means no genuine loving relations where lived in our family, each parent emotional-mentally allied to one of the two kids, in order to maintain a marriage none of the parents had the wish to really leave, a family secret, I was told to be a ‘crazy lier’ when I challenged the same at age 18. (After the dead of both parents, 17 years ago, my sister found letters addressing a possible seperation written by my mother, when my sis and I had been kindergarden-kids.)

    Only in the lights and torrents of passionate real life drama could I later, so much later, write in and about my exploding desires to crush into life: ‘volcano lover’ and ‘horse-rider-actress’ and ‘creative writer’ … in life experiences which psychiatry then labelled ‘bipolar disorder’ or ‘schizo-affective disorder’. At that time I was to experienced to believe the psychiatrists in the hospitals, the same who had not paid attention to the few utterences of lost love with animals after weeks of darkness following a suicide attempt, instead they had convicted me to end my psychology studies and take a job I did not feel anything about but distrust. It took me a year after dismissal into the job to be carried into a flaming effort to start my life in a foreign country… later labelled a manic episode. The psychiatrists and nurses again lost my little trust in their possible competency and knowledge when all members in the team insisted that ‘the issues in my manias were irreal and had nothing to do with my true identity nor real life’ with the power of psychiatric disease knowledge. My gut and intellectual reaction was instantanous: WHAT ???? I KNEW that ONE ESSENTIAL LIVED TRAUMA OF MY LIFE was part of the issues in my desire to make a life as a LADY-ME, ACTRESS-DANCER, HORSE-LOVER and CREATIVE WRITER in the volcanic eruptions into fuelled creative life-projects THEY called manic states. My conclusion came in no time: IF THEY, MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE TRAUMA DYNAMICS BEHIND THIS VOLCANO ERUPTION INTO MY DESIRED LIFE … and THE ABYSS I WAS FALLING IN ALL THE SAME … THEN THESE PSYCHIATRISTS AND THEIR DISEASE MODELS WERE NOT TRUSTWORTHY!

    Thus, after my terrified experiences in psychiatric wards, being aggressed of having a degrading brain disease and menaced into having to take medication to get out and survive, thus, once I was ‘outside’, I started to connect in writing my explosive and shattering quests for a ‘My life with love and love lost’. La trame des mes voyages volcaniques et des mes chutes en les tenebres. Mes desirs de (entre)prendre une vie a moi, m'(r)amenaient en France, pays des mes etudes et (de)bout d’une vie que j’avais choisie en equipe anthropologique… pas bete donc, ce desir profond rallie a d’autres passions de ma vie perdue en mes quetes volcaniques ulterieures.

    Thus, after aggression in and escape from psychiatric wards, I started with collecting fragments of scenes… damaging scenes with my real father, I had ever banned as disguised, him being the good family father. Before I could find a voice I had to find the courage and vulnerability to admit what had been done to me… fragments, scenes of aggression and feelings of fear, hurt, destruction came in images, in few words, not yet a story. The beginning of me telling and re-telling scenes of my life came with the acceptance of the aggression and destruction done in/to me. Only at the age of fortyandsome… I was able to cry for the very first time from the deepest recedes in my flesh (!) and heart (!) and soul (!) … this was when I could begin to tell and re-tell what is my re-writeable and ‘shareable’ life-story… a story?! A story?! filled with emotions and inspirations in sharing ‘broken wings’ and ‘unbroken desires’ with other trauma-survivors. At least for me, there would be no ‘lived living story’ had the desires of ‘soul-heart-flesh’, had the killings in soul-heart-flesh… not first found expression and acceptance in poetic, dramatic, animated scenery-language, the languague filled with tears of blood from the soul’s feeling eyes.

    Perhaps, may some suggest, that I am wandering to close to ‘psychotic-near processes’ with my relation to the poetic-dramatic-mystique imaginative language, a language which resists to be ‘ordered in re-writeable life stories’, cause I feel threatened by the bony fingers of death of life, toujours apres, in having to tell ‘my story’.

    Perhaps I have to reign in myself! The death, the murdering, the killing of live is done in the categorial reifications of disorders and symptoms, in the dehumanizing production of the marketable slave ‘schizophrenic’ or ‘bipolar’. Medically informed and legally bound to be trained as a disease controlling puppet through psychoeducation and auto-surveillance of that dangerous evil inside, this ominous monster hiding in a diseased brain and which shall show itself in early warning signs to be closely monitored, all one’s patient life not to be lived any more. Sounds like some computer game, doesn’t it?!

    Rachel describes in a honest words the dehumanizing ideology and ‘brain wash’ procedures of psychiatric diagnosing and disease terminology as modern inquisition propaganda and practices in ‘mental health services’ (double speech). This medico-technical ‘abuse’ of human beings suffering in the flesh, heart, soul and mind, that uses objectifying scientistic terminology plus harmful neuroleptic medication (instead of Benzos to relief cruesome agonies as terrifying persecutions) is exposed as ‘false knowledge’ by Joanna Moncrieff, as technological paradigm in mental health by Patrick Bracken to name but two of many critical psychiatrits/psychologists.

    My contribution adresses an issue which is heavy on my soul and mind: do people having suffered trauma and betrayal with the inherent exclusion from society as the ‘evil culprits’ who took part in the abusive relations, with the inherent exclusion from socially and morally accepted language, with the inherent loss of being acceptable me-for-a-you… find compassion and understanding when they can not, or wish not, tell ‘stories’. I felt like an idiot for years for not being able to have a clue about me and far from being capable to author something like the smallest beginning story. This is why I welcome the language of the soul in the body, the language of pieces garbage or of a leaf in the street, the language of voices or visions who are, perhaps, like ‘sei personaggi in cerca d’autore’ (Luigi Pirandello)… voices and pieces of the drama of shattered lifes who are searching for broken dialogues … on the difficult journey to find trustable listeners who may inspire the longing to adventure into the sharing of lived fragments and the renaissance of a me-voice. Stories for many of us … seem to be far far away, like an oeuvre for the ‘good people’, the ones’ whose wings were never broken, or the ones’ whose wings have regrown and who can fly on a sunny day accompanied by the smiles of friends.

    My wish is to welcome the pieces of broken and bleeding poetry, the eyes or fingers of magical objects, the shameful and burning me-voices sharing a painful memory or a crazy desire with ‘soulmates’ or trustworthy humans. My wish is to welcome the seeds of potential stories, even if the single seed my not break through, even if some seeds may need to crack open in ‘poetic gestures and images’… on their jounery to become, eventually, one day a story of a survivor, an individual who has found his or her story co-authored in years of holding to newly woven ribbons of friendship and to sharing fragments of their lifes in mutual support groups or collectives like the hearing voices movement.

    With warm wishes
    Ute Maria

  • Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immanuel Kant

    Dear Robert Whitaker,

    This talk is a talk of enlightenment. My many thanks for your exposition of the more complexe neuro-physiolocigal interrelations mediating the biochemical molecules knows as neuroleptics/anti-psychotics.
    Having been inpatient with a psychotic diagnosis in Germany in 2007, I questioned and refused taking neuroleptics because I did not wanted an uncontrollolable quantification of receptors at the post-synaptic side. I refered to the known biological mechanism of “repair of insult” which the brain activates as response to regular (street)drug intake – leading to severe forms of supersensitivity and addiction/craving as well as the acknowledged vegetative and cogito-emotional thuderstorms upon withdrawel of (street) drugs. The psychiatrists on the ward first attacked my naive misunderstandings of neurophysiology and threatened me with a prospect of loss of brain matter if I refused medication. Thus I role-played the compliant patient for being able to leave hospital. My research, in my view, seemed to confirm my conceptions – however NOT A SINGLE PSYCHIATRIST I saw would allow or be able to discuss these complexe projections and loopings (meso – limbic with basal ganglia – and neocortical feedback/forward projections and loops).

    However, these slowing down in part of the interconnected neurological sub-systems with agitation in other parts or diminished activity/later substance-degradation in again other parts are demonstrated by both: 1/ “side” effects of the neuroleptics (drugs can’t read pharma notice and introduce changes, never “side” effects) 2/ adequate behaviour which would correspond to a natural situation in which the person and its CNS interact – as this is mimicked by the introduction of neuroleptics.

    Robert Whitaker, you are the first person who demonstrates the more complex and more wholelife-biologically understandable neurophysiological interactions – be it as a sociobiological response – be it via the introduction of neuroleptics (monoamine-interfering molecules mostly). How often did I ask: how comes medical doctors do not think with the proper neurological prsocesses they have studied at Uni? This is where my basic knowledge in neurophysiology comes from: I have had the pleasure to study with one of the meading brain-AND-behavior researchers at a medical university in Germany, Prof RehkĂ€mper. We students were asked to struggle to understand the intelligency in the complexity of neurophysiology in a socially interactive mammal subject. This saved me from taking drugs because I would be able to recuse the destructive dummy-models of reductionist pseudo-science.

    I am dancing with joy and brightness about your research and clear thinking which is the responsable use of an intelligent man’s capacities and calls for emergence of reductionist psychiatrists self-induced immaturity. Instead of complex and dialectic understanding of embodied neurophysiology the dummy-scientists construe tiny little brick-models of the intelligency of kids in the kindergarden. But the qualities of good European enlightenment thinking and the liberal qualities of responsible and challenging journalism as Your work demonstrates should introduce a “Kopernic turn” in medical research and medical treatment with the necessary combination of neurophysiology and social interaction.

    My bright joyous happiness and empowering support taken from your work, all of it!, is the most vital thank I wish to render to you!

    (from Germany, currently studying at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, UK)

  • Hello David Healy,

    Am reading your books and blog and glad to learn from your enormous knowledge, work, responsible civil and medical actions. I was glad to attend to your lecture in London Nov 2012. Thanks for your exposing and changing our ideas about medical science and practice.

    Best regards
    Ute Maria Kraemer from Germany
    Graduate at Institute Of Psychiatry King’s College London

  • Dear Alice and respondents,

    Highley appreciate all the experiences and perspectives shared on RECOVERY. For approx. one year I have been a reader – living both in Germany and England. It takes a little courage to join in – not being a native Engish speaker. Peer support for healing and realizing oneself is what my prior mission is – thus related to recovery, exchange and growth. Am happy to listen, read and participate – here or at National Empowerment Center.

    Very kind wishes for you in 2013,