Dr Bruce Perry on How To Transform Pain Into Power

A clip from the film of Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry discussing their new book What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing. Here, Dr. Perry explains how to transform post-traumatic stress into wisdom on the path toward healing. Super Soul, Oprah Winfrey Network. [2’16”]

‘I think of the most transformative people I have ever known, every single one of them had personal pain and traumatic experience that was a core element of who they became. And it didn’t crush them… Those people tend to have tremendous empathy for others who are struggling and they tend to have wisdom.’ Bruce Perry M.D., Ph.D.

Learning From the Experts, Part 1

Well, I’m back in the ‘office’ after my long overdue break. It was great to have a serious ‘time-out’ and also sit back and enjoy the Olympic Games. They were awesome and many performances stunning. What stood out most was the camaraderie between the athletes.

Anyway, here is today’s blog which focuses on a piece of research we conducted years ago, research of which I am particularly proud. Gemma Salter, who conducted the main analysis I describe, was one of my star undergraduate project students in the Department of Psychology, Swansea University. She had gained an outstanding First Class Honours Degree and won the prize for the best project of the year for an earlier piece of research she conducted on the impact of substance use problems on family members

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Factors Facilitating Recovery: Mutual Support

I continue with my series of blog posts relating to the factors that facilitate recovery from addiction, which I have detailed in the second last chapter of my eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol AddictionThese factors are also relevant to recovery from mental health problems.

“Acceptance is just one aspect of the fifth key factor underlying recovery, being supported by others. People in recovery stress the importance of having someone believe in them, particularly when they don’t believe in themselves. They also stress the importance of having a person in recovery as a mentor or role model as they travel their journey.

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Michael’s 43rd (Sober) Anniversary

My good friend Michael (Mike) Scott last had a drink 43 years (15,695 days) ago today. Tonight, we will celebrate his 43rd Sober Birthday. This morning, I’m going to celebrate his achievement with a blog post focused on some of Mike’s experiences and reflections.

Mike first contacted me about our Daily Dose website back in 2002. He loved our drug and alcohol news portal that I had launched with Ash Whitney early in 2001. Mike met Ash for the first time (on Skype) a few weeks ago and the pair were mutually pleased to have their first chat.

I gave Mike a big shock when I called him one day back in 2009 and suggested that we have lunch together. He replied, ‘How can we do that? You live on the opposite side of the world.’ I told him that I had moved to Perth on Christmas Day 2008.

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The Power of Story: Lewis Mehl-Madrona

Counting down the days now to the release of my new eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction on Friday 9th April. The book is available via Apple, Amazon or Kobo (price: £4.99, A$8.99, US$6.99, €5.99). Apple users can purchase and download the book through their Books app on their device.

In his interesting book Healing the Mind Though the Power of Story: The Promise of Narrative Psychiatry, Dr Lewis Mehl-Madrona, who I hold in very high regard, emphasises the importance of story. Here are some of his reflections about story (pp. 2 – 4).

Stories help us develop empathy. They allow us understand another person’s world from their perspective. Stories give us unique access to the inner lives and motivations of others. They contain so much more information than we can convey in the statement of facts.

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Brené Brown on Empathy

What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities. RSA. [2’52’]

‘RSA Shorts: The Power of Empathy’ with Brené Brown

An awesome short animation from the RSA involving one of my favourite ladies, Brené Brown. I posted this blog in December 2013.

‘What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.

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Classic blog: ‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White

recovery-contagion-220x186Here’s the latest from recovery advocate William L White.  Wonderful words, just wonderful words.

‘Those of you who have been reading my weekly blogs these past six months will recognize two simple and enduring themes: Recovery is contagious and recovery is spread by recovery carriers.  Those notions first came to me on April 14, 2010 when I stood to speak at Northeast Treatment Centers’ (NET) dinner honoring NET’s 40th anniversary and the achievements of NET members.

Here are some of the words that came to me as I stood before a room packed with people filled with hopes of what their newly found recoveries would bring.

“This night is a celebration of the contagiousness of recovery and the fulfilled promises recovery has brought into our lives.  Some of you did not leave the streets to find recovery; recovery came to the streets and found you.

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Classic Blog: ‘How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life’ by Peter Breggin

Unknown-1-1I have a high regard for the work of the psychiatrist Peter Breggin. Here is an article he wrote on forgiveness for the Huffington Post earlier in the year. Forgiveness plays a key role in recovery.

‘Early in 1865, in his second inaugural address, little more than a month before his assassination, Abraham Lincoln stood before the bloodied, fractured United States to speak about forgiveness, the letting go of hatreds, and the binding of wounds. He implored the people of America:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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‘What does a person need in their environment in order to recover?’ by Mark Ragins

Mark Ragins believes there are four important things an environment must have to facilitate mental health recovery.

1. Relationships, as it is very difficult to recover alone. This is a little more complicated than you might think, as many people distance themselves from someone with mental health problems. A clinician may do this by talking about the illness rather than the person.

People must commit themselves to having a normal conversation with a person with mental health problems.

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‘Why We Need to Abandon the Disease-Model of Mental Health Care’ by Peter Kinderman

DSM-5__DSM-IV-TRExcellent blog in Scientific American by Professor Peter Kinderman. I agree with all that Peter says here.

‘The idea that our more distressing emotions such as grief and anger can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses is pervasive and seductive. But in my view it is also a myth, and a harmful one.

Our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane and fundamentally unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems.

We need wholesale and radical change, not only in how we understand mental health problems, but also in how we design and commission mental health services.

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“The Other Side’ by Matt Samet

msametI’ve really enjoyed reading Matt Samet’s blogs on the excellent Mad in America website. Here is his first one, which provides some important insights int withdrawing from psychoactive prescription drugs and recovering from addiction.

‘With little fanfare and even a glance at the calendar to confirm it, I realized as I sat down to write this that December 5 marked the seven-year anniversary of the last time I took a benzodiazepine tranquilizer.

I had been prescribed the pills for a “panic disorder” starting at age 21, and took them daily from 1998 to 2005 as a “prophylaxis” against anxiety, in ever-escalating doses as prescribed. My final dose was, I think, a quarter-milligram of lorazepam, administered on the fourth-floor Affective Disorders Unit of the Meyer Psychiatry Building, at the Johns Hopkins Institute in Baltimore. I have not taken any since.

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‘There’s Nothing Selfish About Suicide’ by Katie Hurley

Robin Williams‘I am a survivor of suicide.

I don’t talk about it a lot these days, as I’ve reached the point where it feels like a lifetime ago. Healing was a long and grief-stricken process. There were times when I felt very alone in my grief and there were times when I felt lost and confused.

The trouble with suicide is that no one knows what to say. No one knows how to react. So they smile and wave and attempt distraction… but they never ever say the word. The survivors, it seems, are often left to survive on their own.

I experienced endless waves of emotion in the days, weeks, months and even years following the loss of my father. The “what ifs” kept me up at night, causing me to float through each day in a state of perpetual exhaustion. What if I had answered the phone that night? Would the sound of my voice have changed his mind? Would he have done it at a later date, anyway? Survivor’s guilt, indeed.

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‘An Open Letter to Persons Self-Identifying as Mentally Ill’ by Andrew L Yoder

ayoderA brilliant and empathic blog off Mad In America. Thank you, Andrew.

‘Hello, My name is Andrew, and like you I have experienced severe cognitive and emotional distress in my life.  This distress was sufficient that I once received a psychiatric diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, though I imagine other diagnosis could have easily been applied as well.

I know what panic attacks feel like.  I know how it feels to experience a “dissociative episode” from the inside out.  I know what it feels like to believe that you are going crazy.  I know what it feels like to convulse in sobs so intensely that you tear muscles.  I know what it feels like to want to die.

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‘Shame & Empathy’ by Dr. Brené Brown

Here’s an early video (2007) from Brené Brown before her TEDx talks went viral. Shame plays a major role in keeping people locked into addiction. Developing shame resilience can play a major role in recovery. 

‘In an excerpt from her new psychoeducational shame-resilience curriculum, University of Houston researcher and educator Brené Brown discusses the destructive nature of shame and the healing power of empathy.’

‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White

recovery contagionHere’s the latest from recovery advocate William L White.  Wonderful words, just wonderful words.

‘Those of you who have been reading my weekly blogs these past six months will recognize two simple and enduring themes: Recovery is contagious and recovery is spread by recovery carriers.  Those notions first came to me on April 14, 2010 when I stood to speak at Northeast Treatment Centers’ (NET) dinner honoring NET’s 40th anniversary and the achievements of NET members.   Here are some of the words that came to me as I stood before a room packed with people filled with hopes of what their newly found recoveries would bring.

“This night is a celebration of the contagiousness of recovery and the fulfilled promises recovery has brought into our lives.  Some of you did not leave the streets to find recovery; recovery came to the streets and found you. 

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Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

“Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection.”

Here is one of my favourite people. And, boy-oh-boy does this lady have a powerful brand. The talk here is one of the most viewed TEDx talks – over 13 million views.

Here’s the TEDx intro:

‘Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.’

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‘Could you ever ‘thank’ your addiction?’ by Matt Kay

59ff221d-8797-41dc-a4cc-0aaac463be8e-620x372Been a while since we had a Matt Kay blog from my old website Wired In To Recovery. So here goes:

‘Is this concept as far fetched as some of you may be thinking? How on earth can I ‘thank’ my addiction and how does it deserve a ‘thank you’.  Bear with me here for a minute and let that thought mull around in your head while I tell you why I am asking it.

I asked this question a while back to some fellow recoverees with what could only be described as ‘mixed reactions’ and no-one seemed to grasp what I was aiming at. As we all know, anyone who has lived through active addiction will know that there isn’t anything positive that it brings.

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Recommended Website: Greater Good – The Science of a Meaningful Life

temp_wellsThe Greater Good website from the University of California, Berkeley is definitely worth a look. I’ll be highlighting various content from this website over the coming months. Here is what they say in the About Us section:

‘The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.

Based at the University of California, Berkeley, the GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: not only do we sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, we help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. Since 2001, we have been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior – the science of a meaningful life. And we have been without peer in our award-winning efforts to translate and disseminate this science to the public.

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‘RSA Shorts: The Power of Empathy’ with Brené Brown

An awesome short animation from the RSA involving one of my favourite ladies, Brené Brown.

‘What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.

Voice: Dr Brené Brown. Animation: Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne) Why not check out Brené’s full talk The Power of Vulnerability at the RSA?

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