Dear Alec I am struggling a little bit with de-coding some of what you’re referring to, and it’s frustrating because it’s hard to process or respond when I’m not sure what you mean. At the same time, this has been a really stimulating thread and I’d like to stay involved in the conversation so I am going to swallow my pride and just ask – I think I understand ‘hybrid’ identity if by that you mean wearing lots of different ‘hats’ as you describe – ex-patient/ survivor/ professional/ lecturer etc? But I am not sure what silo means in this context: “I think we need to get to post-silo’d identity position.” Do you mean not being pigeon-holed as a patient/ carer/ nurse/ psychiatrist/ tutor etc and all just meeting one another as equal human beings? Regarding the paragraph on Zimbardo etc, are you saying it’s basically hopeless/ pointless to try and prepare nurses to remain human in situations that are set up to “reverse humanity” as you put it? I feel a little bit disappointed, as if it you must think me naive to be so ‘hopeful’ in such a situation. It is not that I am blinded in any way to the horror of the situation – I have more than enough experience of our existing mental health system to collapse in despair (I have done, many times). I’ve experienced it as a patient, carer, nurse, advocate, activist and lecturer. I do not defend the hierarchies, the dehumanising, inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, classism, violence, intolerance, abuse, whitewashing, manipulating, fudging, or outright lies inherent in it. I am not even going to bother speaking about “psychiatry”, or drug companies, or capitalism, waste of breath. And yet I do remain hopeful, and not only for a utopia in which the whole system collapses and is replaced by crisis centres and recovery houses and support groups. I’m hopeful also that the people working within the current system also have the potential to become resources if they are supported to do so, if they are helped to wake up and come together and remember what they came to do. I am inspired by Joanna Macy’s ‘Work that Reconnects’, which she used to call ‘Despair and Empowerment’ work – I like the old name as it describes the essence – that through allowing for despair to be fully felt and experienced, and grieved, we are empowered to envision and create a better, kinder world. I am hopeful because I still see the goodness in those nurses, even the ones acting horribly a few years into their work. I fully agree that they could do with better environments to demonstrate that goodness in, but my point is that the majority of nurses being trained TODAY will not end up working in those environments, at least not straight away. What advice would you give a mental health nurse working somewhere in the system today? Other than, leave your job and invest all your time and energy into building something outside of the system, probably on a volunteer basis? I feel very much connected to the plight of those individuals and families who are attempting to get their needs met as I type this sentence, right now, in February 2016. They might not be so interested in plans to make things better some day, when their crisis is so much more immediate than that. I’m very much all for new paradigms and building alternatives outside of mainstream settings, of course I am, and if we could gather momentum and get funded and do these things quicker that would be amazing. However quickly these alternatives develop won’t be fast enough for my friends who are needing the support tonight though. So I would like the nurses who are tending to them this evening to be working in a way that is humane, human, supportive, equal, honest, respectful, compassionate, hopeful, and sustainable (not burning out and leaving two months into their relationship beginning), even within the givens, the limits, the constrictions of the system they are working within. What do you suggest to the nurses working or currently studying with a view to working within statutory services now? I suggest that we teach them to recognise, and to bear those cultural contradictions, and to do what they can to humanise the environments they work in anyway. And of course to subtly undermine and eventually be part of entirely overturning the existing order – Rufus May used to refer to himself as a spy-chologist and I like the idea of training spy-chiatric nurses too. I believe there are networks of them out there in the system already, and they need to find each other, because allies on the inside are what will help them make those micro-revolutions, one ward round at a time, whilst others write blogs and papers and present at conferences and try to win funding grants, slowly turning the wheel for real change on a structural/ societal level.