Monday, December 5, 2022

Comments by Kevin Healey

Showing 8 of 8 comments.

  • The word “psychiatry” means – or at least it did mean “soul-healing”.

    That this much has been so forgotten alone says much.

    That we have built a belief system that thinks soul healing can only be achieved with academic definitions, chemicals, electricity and coercion is bizarre in the least.

    Academia is not only not the solution but right at the root and core of the problem, seeking as it does to hive human knowledge off into separate fiefdoms members of which then sit atop their own jerry built towers claiming sole right to truth- slinging arrows and arguments at each other in the name of rationality.


    Healing means make whole – breaking down our understanding of human experience into neat little boxes or buckets or academic factions that then engage themselves in a fight with each other is fragmentation – the opposite of healing.

    Human experience does not fit into nice neat little rows of boxes: it can’t since the boxes are entirely a construct made up by a select, self appointed few who deliberately choose a restricted view of human experience and that is itself rooted in narrow beliefs about what must be true.

    True science does claim any truth, it is merely a process of inquiry. The great thing about science is that it can allow us to recognize, eventually, that what people used to believe is not true.

    Today used to be the future, one day it will be the past and in that new future our children and grandchildren will laugh themselves silly at the ridiculous beliefs that hold sway today in the name of ‘truth”.

  • I don’t think this is an “answer” but I do think it’s a small step in a better direction. I believe people have the right to call themselves whatever they like so if some stick to older labels good for them, if others prefer a new one, go for it, if others reject them all, good on them.

    I like the “syndrome” part quite a lot, I also like the “susceptibility” part somewhat – me I believe all 7billion humans are variously susceptible so we all have PSS – I’m not sure about the “psychosis ” part mostly because we don’t know what psychosis is – or at we least can’t agree yet..your psychosis is my dream [I’m serious] …

    …but I do like “PSS” a lot more than “shitzophrenia”, partly because it necessitates a “I have…” or ” I live with…” use of language rather than “I am a …”

    Sometimes, to make a big change we must start by simply moving- take a step, any step, somewhere, any direction, even in a non-optimal direction, just to get moving – so we can get used to the idea that we can move. Once we’re moving, changing direction a little at a time is easier than starting from stuck-still. A sailing vessel likely has to tack with and against the wind to get across the ocean.

    In the end a diagnosis simply indicates what treatment might be useful- that’s all it is.
    I believe that if a person wants to use it as an identity then it’s their choice, no one else’s.
    but what we call others -and populations of others- is something that is worth paying attention to and worth thinking about carefully.

  • Haha Thanks Nijinsky, glad you liked those words and thanks for saying so.

    Maybe the “trap” we fall into is believing that we must accept others’ definitions of a word – any word but especially those we use to describe our experiences.

    Or maybe the trap is even believing that there can possibly be a definition – one definitive meaning – of such words. I certainly do not experience the world as an exact fit with any definitive description and I believe that over seven billion people alive right now each have a unique experience of every moment that passes.So we might just want to accept that some of us will use the same words in different ways.

    For me we each have the right to choose and to use whatever words we see fit to describe our own experiences…

    …and again, for me, part of allowing each other that right [and also honoring and protecting it] means we don’t seek to tell others when they use their words that those words have neither valid meaning nor general usefulness.

    I simply choose my words and let them choose theirs.

    The pcreative tension in the space between is something that we can view as needing [us to] control, or as generative and creative – we do get to choose.

    Let “the system” use words with their narrower, boxed-in meanings – the very same words can have whatever meaning[s] we choose to give them.

    That really is living.


  • Hi Sera

    “However, what I see as more important is getting out of the loop of developing these ‘one right words’ to apply to a whole group of people and just speaking human. Period.”

    …is exactly my point too.

    …which for me means that we will come to accept that we each use words differently and also come to develop new habits such as, rather than saying that a word someone uses – eg “recovery” – no longer works, we can ask…

    “help me understand, what do you mean by that?”

    in the end the only thing that limits our freedom is the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell each other about what is possible…


  • ah, the Hegelian, Marxist dialectical anti-recovery backlash…

    Who says it has been “decided”?

    I’m not so sure it has – who did we appoint to the world council of deciders?

    btw “decide” in its original meaning is to kill or remove life from an idea, usually to give prominance to another…

    Who says “recovery” and “living” are two categorically separate things or entities?

    Who says only one is acceptable and that we have to choose one over the other?

    They don’t have to be separet, indeed they only can be so if we let them become so.

    For me the idea of “recovery” is simple – and it did take me a few years to figure out –

    recovery for me simply means me recovering my ability to be the chief author of my own life, my future, choosing my place in the world.

    Yes I did lose that for a while… and it led to me becoming very ill and detached from the society I found myself in. I did not notice it was happeneing til I was exhauseted and had run out of recources, and felt very isolated lost and terrified. And it took me a long while to build strength , resilience, confidence, to learn, unlearn and and relearn how, in a new country and on a different continent, to live in a way that suited me and also enable others to embrace and accept me.

    For me recovery IS about living: as in living – not simply surviving, hanging on, or existing; but about constantly learning to live- in the way I want to, and choosing what I want my life to be about.

    Now,if that ain’t living I don’t know what is.

    And, if you or anyone want to tell me what recovery is and isn’t then you can try: I’m good.

    Recovery is an important concept – if for no other reason than that we have as a society come to adopt the idea that people don’t, can’t move forward from a life that has become stuck.

    Recovery is a critically important idea for people who work in various parts of mental health system – to help them recognise that just keeping people alive, drugged and waiting to die early is not the best we can hope for; not the best we can do; not the only thing we can fund; simply not all we can expect.

    And it’s important for people who have been subjugated by that system, and lied to by factions of society that simply want to push aside a growing problem they choose not to understand and not to prioritise: being drugged and warehoused and waiting for the end of a shortened life is not the best that people so subjigated have a right to hope for – not all they can expect.

    Words are just devices for conveying and sharing meaning: we don’t have to accept others’ co-opting of a particular use of a word to suit their agenda in order to be able to continue to use that same word our way.

    If we keep rejecting words because we don’t like the way some other people use them where does that leave us?

    What word do we use next? and what do we do when that one gets co-opted?

    Do we want people to not recover?
    Are we going to work and campaigh against people recovering?

    words, eh?

    here’s one – but one – expression of an idea about life, recovery and everything…


  • Thank your for having the conscientiousness to track your practice, and to share.

    I WORK from a peer perspective, mostly running educational groups like WRAP Pathways and Hearing Voices groups but also worker trining. I meet a lot of people who want to reduce or come off the meds they take and can’t find doctors who will support them.So again thank you for offering that.

    Many of the people I meet find The Harm Reducion Guide to Coming off Meds by Icarus Project very useful – I did.
    I know a few people who’ve given copies to their Docs, saying “I want you to read this and I’d like you to support me and work with me this way”.and some have found that their docs agree and it works.
    Some find that their Doc doesn’t agree to work with them and, eventually, they do it by themselves.
    In Canada we have an educational program called GAM -Gaining Autonomy with Medications, authored in Quebec by Celine Cyr. It isn’t about stopping but about becoming more aware and making deliberate choices and doing that in steps.
    Your steps of 25% reductions are, I think, [and this is borne out by widespread experience in peer groups ] way too big for many people. GAM suggests reducing one drug at a time and in 10% steps.

    In WRAP we coach people to learn to spot their own signs of wellness and warnings that they might be becoming less well, and need to act. The earlier we learn to spot those signs and to act the more well we remain. We also coach people to learn about the many “wellness tools” that work for them , to have many and a varied, and to use them, [particularly when they spot warning signs, or especially in a preventive way in trying and testing times , like reducing meds.

    It doesn’t have to be WRAP but working this way helps people figure out how they can monior their wellness and take small actions early – make their own interventions. It’s a slow, patient and iterative process.

    This way folks can learn how to handle even being triggered or a drop in meds, . It’s patient work and takes practice – it often takes a few times someone dropping through to becoming unwell before they can figure out what their key signs are and what work for them and they find the things that work best for them. but the basic questions are “what have I learned works for me?”, and “what else can I do besides take meds?”.

    It takes a while to break powerful patterns that have been ingrained and indoctrinated in people’s behaviour and thoughts that say “i’m sick therefore I must need meds” to learn to see it differently and act differently and simply add a stage or two.

    And when coming off that way of operating kicks right back in and is even more powerful – and teh faster the withdrawal the more powerful the effect.

    What I typically say is that I think there is no such thing as too slow: make the next reduction and monitor what is happening – your own signs, wait at least two weeks, likely a month, and sometimes three months before the next step- and use the things you learned that help you stay well, and do as many of them as you can..

    I think there’s too much focus on meds or no meds – its a fals dichotomy. Many people find they’re being judged by both camps of shoulding: should be on meds /should not be on meds. This for me is the real bipolar – its in our society and institutions and health systems.

    The result is that and many individuls spend their lives bouncing between two ideologies and two worlds – one where people tell them they must take meds and the other that they really shouldn’t. That’s not very helpful and it results in many people feeling even more helpless and more sick.

    In reality what works for most is not one big thing but a real world and very personal mix of dozens of small things….and funnily enough the more of those things we have at our disposal , and teh more we use them the better our life becomes.

    Some, many, even most of us, find that eventually the smallest amount of meds we need is zero. Some of us find we’re better off on smaller doses. But we mostly figure out what else we can and need to do to get well and to stay well besides just taking meds.

    I sometimes say that I used to take meds as a substitute for looking after myself – other things seemed more important at the time; or that I took meds so I could get well enough so that I didn’t need to take them any more.

    You could say I just got better anyway, I don’t. I replaced my meds with the hundred or more other things that I do. It’s much harder work than just taking a few pills that someone told me to take. but its way better for me.

    here’s a bit of info from the Great White North that we’ve been collecting and sharing on coming off – it includes a wee bit on GAM. There are many other resources at this site too.


  • Hi Jacqui, great article and grat to be reading you her at MadINAmerica. ‘Foreign Correspondent’ cool.

    What’s the big deal about “Hearing Voices”?

    I find that many folks in N America think its just a new name for a certain diagnosis- till they discover it incorporates a whole way of thinking, being and acting that’s quite a bit different from anything else they’ve come across certainly in “mental health”….

    Just like the title of your article – we go beyond simply critiquing what others do or don’t do – we actually do something else, creating alternatives and offering a choice.

    We work together – experts by profession and experts by experience working together, learning from each other.

    For example: here in Toronto – this week – we have our first training for mental health workers – designed and lead by voice hearers.

    We’re a community, and a global one at that, many of my supports live in diiferent timezones, on different continents, yet we find common spirit. You’re never alone when you hear voices, but there’s also always someone else awake somewher you can reach out to.

    There are so many good things in the hearing voices movement and so many inspiring people – and you’re one of them.
    Thank you.