‘Finding Human Life on Earth’ by Carina Håkansson

chakanssonHere is an excellent blog from the Mad in America website. Carina Håkansson is a psychotherapist and manager at Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden, which was founded in 1987.

It’s a funny old world because I spent three years in Gothenburg from 1981 in the early stages of my neuroscience career, conducting postdoctoral research with Arvid Carlsson, the father of dopamine research. Dopamine is the brain neurotransmitter classically associated with schizophrenia.

As some of you know, I left my neuroscience career behind me in 2000 because I did not believe that drug treatments were helping people recover from addiction and mental health problems. Anyway, here is Carina:

‘Through the ISPS listserve, I read a blog this morning written by Thomas Insel, director of the NIMH. The way he described people I daily meet in work and in my own life created a rising pulse, so I decided to find  out some more about his thoughts and practice. I am not saying that what I read on his blog is unknown to me, but still it made me wonder how on earth is it possible to invest so much money – and resources – in research which is so distant from practice, and so far away from humanistic and holistic ideas and theories.

Read More ➔

Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia

understanding“An individual having unusual difficulties in coping with his environment struggles and kicks up the dust, as it were. I have used the figure of a fish caught on a hook: his gyrations must look peculiar to other fish that don’t understand the circumstances; but his splashes are not his affliction, they are his effort to get rid of his affliction and as every fisherman knows these efforts may succeed.” Karl Menninger

What would happen if a team of highly qualified psychologists joined up with a team of people who knew psychosis from the inside, from their own journey into madness and then recovery – and if they collaborated in writing a guide to understanding the difficult states that get names like “psychosis” and schizophrenia”?

Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore, because the result was published a couple of days ago in the form of a report (180 pages) that is free to download. This report is well worth reading. Here’s a summary:

‘Executive Summary
This report describes a psychological approach to experiences that are commonly thought of as psychosis, or sometimes schizophrenia. It complements parallel reports on the experiences commonly thought of as bipolar disorder and depression.

Read More ➔

Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness — from the inside

“Is it okay if I totally trash your office?” It’s a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke.

A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

‘The Power Of The Narrative’ by Peter Bullimore

This is a brilliant talk about an amazing life! A must-watch with lessons to be learnt. Thank you, Peter.

Here is a bio taken from a website I’ll be profiling soon:

‘Peter heard his first voice aged seven, after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a child minder.  But as the abuse went on the voices increased in number, eventually turning sinister and aggressive.

By his mid-twenties Peter had lost his business, his family, his home, everything.  Peter spent more than a decade after that on heavy medication, but the voices never went away. He had to get out of the psychiatric system to recover.

Read More ➔

Trailer for “OPEN DIALOGUE,” an alternative Finnish approach to healing psychosis

Check out this important film from Daniel Mackler.

‘In the far north of Finland, a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle, a group of innovative family therapists converted the area’s traditional mental health system, which once boasted some of Europe’s poorest outcomes for schizophrenia, into one that now gets the best statistical results in the world for first-break psychosis. 

They call their approach Open Dialogue.

Read More ➔

‘Jaakko Seikkula Speaks on Finnish Open Dialogue, Social Networks, and Recovery from Psychosis’ by Daniel Mackler

Daniel Mackler interviews Jaakko Seikkula, PhD, a professor of psychotherapy at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland who is best known for his work with Finnish Open Dialogue.

He speaks about the value of engaging social networks in crisis situations, the development of the Finnish Open Dialogue approach, the idea that there is meaning behind psychosis, and some unexpected benefits in Western Lapland of including family members in therapy with people experiencing psychosis.

You  an read more abut this approach here.

My Favourite Blogs – ‘Loneliness: a call to generosity’ by Pat Deegan

100_0690Here is a wonderful blog from US recovery advocate Pat Deegan:

‘Like many people, I experienced periods of intense loneliness during my recovery after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Over time, I learned that my loneliness was a call for me to be more generous and to give of myself. Here’s what I mean:

Loneliness and being alone are two different things. In my early recovery, being alone was an important self-care strategy for me.

Read More ➔

Recovery from mental disorders, lecture by Pat Deegan

Patricia Deegan PhD is a psychologist and researcher. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teeenager. For years, Patricia has worked with people with mental disorders in various ways, to help them get better and lead rewarding lives.

This film features clips from a lecture by Patricia Deegan on the subject of her own route to recovery. She describes how her diagnosis took on ‘a master status in terms of her identity’. Her humanity seemed to others ‘to be quite secondary.’

‘He had read a generic text book and simply applied it to the case in font of him. Schizophrenics don’t recover, Pat Deegan won’t recover. It was that simple…’

Read More ➔

‘Full Recovery from Schizophrenia’ by Paris Williams

Full-moon-dark-sky-300x200‘This is the first of a series of blog postings related to my own series of research studies (my doctoral research at Saybrook University) of people who have made full and lasting medication-free recoveries after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

This is very exciting research because it is one of the few areas within psychological research that remains almost completely wide open. One reason it is so wide open is that most Westerners don’t believe that genuine recovery from schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders is possible, in spite of significant evidence to the contrary.

Since there are some very hopeful findings that have emerged within this research, I want to begin this series of postings by summing up one particularly hopeful aspect of my own research, which is a group of five factors that emerged which are considered to have been the most important factors in my participants’ recovery process. But before looking closer at these factors, we should back up for a minute…

Read More ➔

‘Hope and Recovery: Part 2’ by Pat Deegan

rsz_beautiful-bhutan-pictures-91‘Recently I was asked to give some brief comments for a German publication.  I was asked: “Given that hope is an is an important aspect of recovery, how can professionals give hope. Have you experienced someone giving you hope? Do you remember a special situation?”  I replied:

“Professionals can’t give hope. But they can be hopeful. They can root their work in hope. Hope is different than optimism.

Optimism is shallow and trite. Optimism is false hope. Workers who are optimistic are like cheerleaders at a football match. They say shallow, unhelpful things like, “I just know you can recover. Everything will be all right. Tomorrow will be a better day.”

Read More ➔

‘Hope and Recovery: Part 1’ by Pat Deegan

lighthouse_01‘Hope is important to recovery because hopelessness and biological life are incompatible (Seligman). When faced with adversity, human beings need hope in order to overcome. Mental health professionals can contribute to hopefulness for recovery or they can convey hopeless messages which are toxic and soul killing.

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 17, my psychiatrist told me that I had a disease called schizophrenia and that I would be sick for the rest of my life. He told me that I would have to take high dose haloperidol for the rest of my life. He said, I should retire from life and avoid stress.

I have come to call my psychiatrist’s pronouncement a “prognosis of doom”. He was condemning me to a life of handicaptivity wherein I was expected to take high dose neuroleptics, avoid stress, retire from life and I was not even 18 years old!

Read More ➔

Development of the recovery model in the mental health field, Part 1

rsz_emil_kraepelin_1926A recovery revolution is occurring in both the addiction and mental health arenas that is challenging practices within both fields. In various places in different countries, recovery is becoming the concept around which addiction and mental health systems of care are being organised.

A transformation of systems of care is underway, shifting away from systems based on pathology to ones that promote wellness and recovery. Hopefully, these changes will also see a much needed bridging between the addiction and mental health fields.

Where did this interest in recovery arise? And why do we feel that we need to change our present systems of care? In this, and in following blogs, I will look briefly at the development of the recovery model in the mental health field.

Read More ➔

Recovery and what it means

What is does it mean being in recovery? Film made by mental health recoveree and involves four people diagnosed with schizophrenia. ​ [2 clips]

Read More ➔

Pat Deegan film clips

Pat is a leading mental health recovery advocate, as well as psychologist and researcher [4 clips]

Read More ➔

Loneliness: a call to generosity

100_0690Here is a wonderful blog from US recovery advocate Pat Deegan:

‘Like many people, I experienced periods of intense loneliness during my recovery after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Over time, I learned that my loneliness was a call for me to be more generous and to give of myself. Here’s what I mean:

Loneliness and being alone are two different things. In my early recovery, being alone was an important self-care strategy for me.

Read More ➔

Recovery from mental disorders, lecture by Pat Deegan

Patricia Deegan PhD is a psychologist and researcher. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teeenager. For years, Patricia has worked with people with mental disorders in various ways, to help them get better and lead rewarding lives.

This film features clips from a lecture by Patricia Deegan on the subject of her own route to recovery. She describes how her diagnosis took on ‘a master status in terms of her identity’. Her humanity seemed to others ‘to be quite secondary.’

Read More ➔