This talk summarises the recent research demonstrating that experiences like hearing voices and holding unusual beliefs are not symptoms of an illness called ‘schizophrenia’ but are understandable reactions to life events and circumstances.
The social causes of extreme distress, despair and disorientation include: poverty, childhood neglect and abuse, witnessing parental violence, early loss of parents, war trauma, discrimination and rape.
The role of biological psychiatry, and the drug companies, in the minimization of the effects of social adversities will be discussed.
Read, J. & Dillon, J. (2014). Models of Madness: Psychological Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis.
Read, J. & Sanders, P. (2010). A Straight Talking Introduction to the Causes of Mental Health Problems
Geekie, J., Randal, P., Lampshire, D. & Read, J. (2012). Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives.
Bio | John Read
After working for nearly 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and the USA Dr Read joined the University of Auckland, New Zealand. There he published over 100 papers in research journals, primarily on the relationship between adverse life events and psychosis. He also researches the negative effects of bio-genetic causal explanations on prejudice, and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in mental health. John is on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (www.isps.org) and editor of the ISPS’s scientific journal ‘Psychosis’. In May 2013, Dr Read took up the post of Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool.
Books | John Read
Read J., Dillon, J. (eds.). (2013).
Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives.
Geekie, J., Randall, P., Lampshire, D., Read, J, (eds.). (2012).
Read, J., Sanders P. (2010).
Geekie, J., READ, J. (2010).
R.D. Laing stated psychosis is a sane response to an insane situation which eloquently captures the misinterpretation or medicalization of the responses to the daily stressors of discrimination and microaggressions experienced by people of color.
The exploration of the historical connections between institutional forces, psychiatric processes and “otherness” helps to contextualize the voice hearing experience for people of color.
Weaving personal story, film, images and sound we learn how Martin Luther King’s “creative maladjustment” transforms political struggle into understanding, liberation and healing for voice hearers whose true voice has yet to be heard.
Bio| Keris Myrick
Keris Jän Myrick, MBA, MS, PhDc is a leading mental health advocate and non-profit executive, known for her innovative and inclusive approach to mental health reform and the public disclosure of her personal story. Ms. Myrick is currently President and CEO of Project Return Peer Support Network, a Los Angeles-based, peer-run nonprofit organization. She is the President of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) board of directors and is a consultant to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Office of Minority and National Affairs (OMNA).
Her personal story has been featured in the New York Times’ Lives Restored series and The Los Angeles Times. Keris was designated a “Game Changer” by Canadian Broadcast Centre (CBC) radio’s The Current: Changing the Face of Schizophrenia
Michael will lead us in beginning to formulate a succinct answer to the question, “If madness/psychosis isn’t what psychiatry says it is, then what is it?” He also will share proven ways of lovingly being with others in extreme states and performing self care when we are in extreme states.
Bio| Michael Cornwall, Ph.D.
A veteran of his own initiatory madness, has been serving people in extreme states for over 35 years, while also being a human rights political activist, aiding those endangered by the medical model of psychiatry.
Michael served at medication-free madness sanctuaries and completed doctoral research on Jungian John Weir Perry’s Diabasis House.
He leads San Francisco Bay Area and Esalen Institute workshops and conferences on re-visioning madness and fostering ways to lovingly respond to our own and others’ extreme states.
More Michael Cornwall
Talk | Hearing Voices: Recovery, Discovery and Transformation
Research has shown powerful links between painful life events and the experience of hearing voices.
However, the association between voices and schizophrenia mean psychiatric services often respond to voice hearers in ways that maintain distress and disability rather than using people’s life stories to promote healing and psychological growth.
This talk draws on the presenter’s own experience of voice hearing, as well as Romme and Escher’s ‘construct’ method, to show how voices can be understood in the context of life events, and suggests strategies for moving towards healing, recovery – and beyond.
Bio | Eleanor Longden
Eleanor Longden is an award-winning postgraduate researcher with a specialist interest in psychosis, trauma, and dissociation, and has lectured and published internationally on ways to promote creative, person-centred approaches to understanding and recovering from overwhelming events. She is a three times TED speaker, a trustee of Soteria UK and Intervoice: The International Network for Training, Education, and Research into Hearing Voices, and the author of ‘Learning From the Voices in my Head’ (TED Books, New York: 2013).
Talk | Learning From the Open Dialogue Experience
“Psychosis does not exist” is just one of many provocative concepts behind Western Finland’s Open Dialogue, a new approach to crisis that is rich with applications. Low use of medications, team approach, working with families and relationships, dialogic listening, non-hierarchy and openness among professionals, non-diagnostic language, and expectation of recovery all combine to achieve the best outcomes in the world: 83% of patients returned to their jobs or studies and were not receiving government disability, and 77% did not have psychotic symptoms in a five-year follow-up study. This basic introduction to Open Dialogue asks, What vital lessons can all of us learn from these successful practices?
Bio |Will Hall MA, DiplPW
Will Hall is a therapist, trainer, and schizophrenia diagnosis survivor. He has taught internationally on innovations in the social response to psychosis, and his writing has appeared in the Journal of Best Practices in Mental Health, Oxford University Press’s Community Mental Health Care: An Interdisciplinary Approach, and Psychology Tomorrow. Author of the Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, Will is host of Madness Radio and a co-founder of PracticeRecovery.com He completed a certificate in Open Dialogue with Dr. Jaakko Seikkula, Dr. Mary Olson, and faculty at the Institute for Dialogic Practice.
As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet there is method in one’s madness. What gets called psychosis are meaningful responses to troubling life experiences. If we look together at the possible symbolic meanings that psychosis represents new possibilities can emerge. Stories will be told which show the value of honouring the meaningfulness of mad experiences and both collective and individual approaches to learning from and responding to this.
Rufus May has worked as a psychologist in mental health services for over 18 years. He is interested in a compassionate and holistic approach to psychosis rooted in his own experiences as a teenager of ‘powerfully dreaming while awake’ and the limitations of biomedical psychiatric treatment. His work was featured in the Channel 4 documentary the Doctor Who Hears Voices. He has worked with hearing voices groups for 12 years, and the talking with voices/voice dialogue approach for 8 years. He also is interested in a community development approach to mental health, including developing inclusive educational spaces around emancipatory approaches to emotional wellbeing and living in what is very often a mad world.