Sunday, 13 December 2009

Trauma Survivor



Description at YouTube:

"Elemental Ireland
Those termed "psychiatric patients" are in fact trauma survivors. Many who find themselves caught in the net of bio-psychiatry are responding to the abnormal circumstances of a traumatic childhood; the hated child, the abandoned child, the neglected child, the exploited child, the defeated child and the silenced child, to name a few.

Exploring 'The Roots of Violence' by Alice Miller. This video contains quotes by Alice Miller and by Elemental Ireland.

'For some years now, there has been proof that the devastating effects of the traumatization of children take their inevitable toll on society - a fact that we are still forbidden to recognise (a fact that is commonly denied). This knowledge concerns every single one of us and - if disseminated widely enough - should lead to fundamental changes in society; above all, to a halt in the blind escalation of violence'. Alice Miller

Having recently discovered Alice Miller, as a parent I found her work a welcome challenge. She has made me think deeply both about the way I parent and society's attitudes to children. It is a matter of urgency for me to heal my own wounded inner-child, so I can parent my children in the best possible way. She has tapped into great truths that I knew deep down but was afraid to voice to myself and in public. A good website exploring Alice Miller's work is Daniel Mackler's iraresoul. Daniel has made an excellent film called 'Take These Broken Wings' about recovery from (so-called) schizophrenia without medication.

Many trauma survivors are terrified and find it difficult to trust. They struggle with repressed rage and anger. Many are further punished for being trauma survivors by coercion and forced 'treatment'. They are further battered and broken by bio-psychiatry.

In most cases, the trauma survivor is silenced three times; firstly by their families, then by society and then by bio-psychiatry.

Wouldn't this make you angry?"

Some time ago, I lent Derrick Jensen's A Language Older Than Words to a friend. Earlier this week, I got it back: "I couldn't read past the first pages. Too painful to read about all this violence and abuse." Yeah. It certainly is a lot less painful to close your eyes to reality. It just won't change anything.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

"Our society is run by insane people..."

X-mas greetings from John and Yoko. In honor of the occasion (cough, cough...) a little early.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Primal therapeutic oppression - Arthur Janov knows what you need!

Yesterday, my attention was drawn to the comment section of this post on this NYT-article on modern lobotomy at Mr. Arthur Janov's - yup, the Arthur Janov - blog.

My attention was drawn to the blog of the guru of the 1970ies screaming-hype by a comment on a blog post about, and this is somewhat important, Liberation psychology - by the way an awesome piece by Bruce Levine, and if you haven't yet, go read it! - at a Norwegian blog.

In his article about Liberation psychology, Levine states with Jesuit priest, therapist and activist Ignacio Martín-Baró:

"The prevailing psychology, (...), is not politically neutral, but favors maintaining the status quo. Reducing human motivations to the maximization of pleasure fits neatly into the dominant culture. Martin-Baró astutely observed that most prevailing psychology schools of thought—be it psychoanalytic, behavioral, or biochemical—accept the maximization of pleasure as the motivating force for human behavior, ignoring other human motivations, including the need for fairness and social justice. Prevailing psychology’s focus on individualism, he wrote, 'ends up reinforcing the existing structures, because it ignores the reality of social structures and reduces all structural problems to personal problems.' "

So, you might say the prevailing paradigm in today's psychology pathologizes suffering as an individual flaw - and it doesn't matter if this flaw is seen as biological, existential, spiritual or whatever else in nature - rather than viewing it as an expression of a very healthy discontent with and rebellion against a thoroughly oppressive culture.

Bruce Levine writes:

"Aldous Huxley predicted, 'And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude.' Today, increasing numbers of people in the U.S. who do not comply with authority are being diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric drugs that make them care less about their boredom, resentments, and other negative emotions, thus rendering them more compliant and manageable."

Psych labels and the inevitably following "treatment" have indeed become our time's most employed means of oppression. Political, societal, and individual oppression.

Now have a look at this comment by Arthur Janov:

"There are many many reasons why we cannot take some people; those who really need a living arrangement supervised or controlled as is the case with psychotics."

Us and them, yup. The "psychotics", the lesser-than-human beings, who, because they are "psychotic" and thus lesser-than-human, need to be supervised and controlled, i.e. oppressed.

Since I've managed to see through and quite successfully ward off most attempts to oppress, retraumatize, and consequently silence me, that I, too, found myself subjected to in therapy, since I actually beyond the attempts to oppress, retraumatize and silence me also was as lucky as to receive some real help from my therapist, making it possible for me to find my own language and voice my discontent with and rebellion against the ongoing oppression in society, I left the following comment at Janov's blog:

" 'They need a supervised life.'



Wow wow wow! Mind-boggling to witness therapists know just exactly what it is their clients need!



As it may be true that, while going through acute crisis, most 'psychotic' (whatever that term means) people need a secure environment where they can be safe from (further) assault and trauma, 'secure' doesn't mean 'secured', as in 'supervised'. Or why not simply 'controlled', as in 'Let's lock 'em up and throw away the key!'??


How about a little more respect for the person in crisis, and his/her own knowledge of what s/he needs?



Marian, Denmark, blogger and expert on her own needs" (Janov likes to know about his commenters' location and profession)

Well, what of course I should have written isn't "their clients" but "people". As this is what therapists, Arthur Janov included, usually have the arrogance to assume, that their "expertise" entitles them to know what everybody else, not just their particular clients, needs. - Let's recapitulate here: arrogance is a response to fear.

Arthur Janov, like many other therapists, doesn't take "psychotics". But while he himself prefers to think, that he can't take these lesser-than-human beings because he can't provide the control they, like a ferocious wild animal, in his opinion are so much in need of, in truth he, as it will seem to me, can't take them because he lacks the self-control he'd need in order to be able to provide a safe and spacious enough place for people in extreme states of mind where they can liberate themselves from society's oppression, and fully come into being.

And while I think, it is better for a therapist to admit that s/he doesn't have the amount of self-control, -awareness, and -respect to deal with the whole range of human experiences, the extremes included, than to pretend to be able to deal with the extremes when the contrary is the case - these are the therapists who claim the professional expertise, providing the power to label, drug and, whenever perceived as convenient, commit people, to be more important than true empathy and respect -, which inevitably will lead to the person in crisis being retraumatized, I also think that s/he probably isn't fit to be a therapist at all, when s/he feels frightened by the extremes of the human experience to an extent that makes him/her call for "supervision", control and thus retraumatizing oppression. If you can't deal with the whole range of human experiences, but need to apply "supervising", controlling, and thus oppressing measures to the extremes, that means, you can't deal with anything that isn't "supervised", controlled, and thus oppressed by external powers. And that renders you an oppressor yourself.

In another comment Janov replies to someone who's written a letter to the author of the NYT-article:

"Well Walden good work and now let me know if he ever responds. I seriously doubt it."

Janov published my comment, and that's something I guess. But so far, His Greatness Arthur Janov hasn't had much to say to me so impertinently disturbing the worshipping of him at his blog, and I seriously doubt that he's going to have. But, of course, I'm also one of these lesser-than-human beings, a ferocious wild animal, who, had only a "supervised", controlled life been provided for me, never had had the impertinence to disturb the worshipping of His Greatness in the first place... In case Janov surprises me, I'll let you know...
_______________

Cross-published on Beyond Meds.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

John Hunt - punished for being a trauma survivor



A video by Marion Aslan, co-founder of EleMental for John and his family.

Grainne Humphrys, John's wife, writes that the article Marion used for the vid is from last year. So, John is 28 years old today, and has been incarcerated at Carraig Mor for four years.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Hallucinations



In a reply to a commenter who says she hasn't been able to see anything "in this life with a painful connection", Sean writes: "Yes, not all trauma is from our childhood. Sometimes its from adulthood or the peri-natal stage, and sometimes it certainly looks like the traumas are more related to karmic issues, past lives, etc..."

I've heard people maintain they weren't traumatized many times before. Most often in order to defend the medical model: "I haven't been traumatized. So, consequently, I must suffer from a chemical imbalance in my brain." In this case, it's not a chemical imbalance, it's karma from some past life. I'm sure, I don't believe in the chemical imbalance bs. I'm not quite sure whether to believe in past lives, karma and stuff. What I'm sure I do believe in is that there's a lot in this life that is traumatizing, while we don't recognize it as traumatizing. Like being human in an inhumane world, for instance. Whether someone is able to cope with that challenge without having to ask for help, or not, depends on a number of often rather subtle, individual distinctions in their life experiences. Distinctions that often are overlooked.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

More Saturday fun

This morning, before I went to work, on a quick tour checking out the blogosphere for new posts, I came across the comment thread at this post at Furious Seasons that had me die laughing. Why? What's so special about it? Nothing. That's the point.

Last month, Philip had a post up telling us it was his 2,500th post. I bet, at least half of them have comment threads completely identical to the one I mention above: "Mental illnesses are biological brain diseases!." - "No, they aren't!" - "Mental illness kills!" - "No, it doesn't!" - "Psych meds help people cope and save lives!" - "No, they don't!" And so on, and so on... Basically the same people, the same arguments, over and over again. At Philip's blog, and I don't know at how many others - also here, btw, from time to time.

This morning, instead of feeling inclined to weigh in, I took a step back, looking at the picture, and, well, I was dying laughing. - No need for me to weigh in, btw. "MsPiggy" already did a great job over there. Factual, intelligent and eloquent. Thanks "MsPiggy"!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Going beyond the limits

You can sense it coming in the 4th movement of the 9th symphony. It goes to the absolute limits of tonality. And then, eventually, the 1st movement of the 10th... Who needs further movements? It's perfect as it is.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

A little Saturday fun



...and two more pieces of good advice for the person who inspired this post: 1. The comment field of a blog isn't the best place to have private conversations. Maybe you should consider e-mail instead. 2. Since you seem to have such great difficulty understanding English, consider another language!

Hope, I expressed myself clear enough this time, and won't get misunderstood, again again.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Some thoughts about A Beautiful Mind and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Usually, I'm not a big fan of filmatizations. Especially when I've read the book before I watch the movie, and when the book's emphasis is about more complex psychological contexts watching the movie often has been a bit of a comedown. An example of such a, in my opinion, somewhat failed adaption is A Beautiful Mind with its rather exaggerated and twisted presentation of "hallucinations", meant to help the audience understand the phenomenon, but actually more fit for obtaining the very opposite effect. And indeed, some stylistic faux pas, one would think directors like Bergman and Tarkovsky for instance had taught the cinema to avoid a long time ago. But, well, on the one hand we have Bergman's and Tarkovsky's feel for subtle nuances, on the other Hollywood's preference for broader strokes of the brush. Like comparing apples and oranges.

Another thing that can give me a kind of comedown experience is when the movie consciously twists the text's "message", exploiting the book's, author's or protagonist's popularity in order to get its own "message" out. This too, A Beautiful Mind is an outstanding example to illustrate, abusing John Nash's celebrity status, letting his character state, that he takes the "newer medications", while we all know that the real John Nash didn't take neuroleptics other than when he was forced to, like during hospitalizations, and never after 1970.

The producers excused their distorting the historical facts, and said they didn't want people to toss out their drugs. In the meantime, the movie doesn't at any point directly state that John Nash didn't take drugs over longer periods. Thus there should be no need to mention the matter at all. Unless the idea was to exploit John Nash's popularity for the benefit of the psych drug industry. On the contrary, I'd say. Given the fact, that Nash did recover, while recovery on neuroleptics virtually never occurs, the truth should have been mentioned.

So, all in all it was with reservations that I ventured into watching the filmatization of Joanne Greenberg's novel I Never Promised You a Rose Garden the other day.

Except for in a single sequence, the visualization of Deborah's "hallucinations" is created in a more subtle way than John Nash's in A Beautiful Mind, and thus more endurable and credible. Never mind that it left me with vague associations to Timothy Leary and Woodstock, just as the decorations, costumes and requisits represent a somewhat strange blend of the 1950ies and the late 1970ies.

Although the movie's last sequences seem a bit rash - and it has to be considered that the standard length for movies, that rarely was exceeded, was 90 minutes back in 1977, the movie's production year - and, compared to the novel, a little superficially happy-ending-like, the movie manages to avoid the all too broad strokes of the brush, and, and this is really an achievement the subject taken into account, it avoids to descend into the melodramatic.

Based on a novel as complex as Joanne Greenberg's, a filmatization can hardly be anything but fragmentary. Nevertheless, the movie succeeds to make the best of its 96 almost-standard minutes, both because it focusses on some of the most essential themes of the novel, and not least because of the actors' brilliant performance (Kathleen Quinlan, Bibi Andersson - oh well, a Bergman-trained actress...), and I was positively surprised to see the novel's basic "message" unchanged.

A comment at YouTube says what the novel teaches us is "to have COMPASSION with the mentally ill". I replied: "What both the book and the movie teach us is that so-called "mental illness" is a choice (out of necessity though). Not a chronic brain disease. And they both teach us that we should make it possible for people to choose freedom, like Frieda Fromm-Reichmann made it possible for Joanne Greenberg. Instead of indefinitely locking them up in helplessness and dependency with toxic chemicals and hopeless messages about defective genes and chronic brain disorders."

I was surprised, but I'd also forgotten all about the movie's production year, 1977, that is about the fact that the movie was shot at a time in history when psych drugs didn't yet play the everything else overshadowing role they do play today, and when psychological and psycho-social causes still were considered. Interesting and refreshing in this context is that the dialogue doesn't get stuck in diagnoses and other crudenesses. Although "psychotic" appears from time to time, "schizophrenia" for instance isn't mentioned one single time throughout the entire movie. Probably also this a 1977-phenomenon.

Although it can by no means replace reading the novel itself, a filmatization of Joanne Greenberg's autobiographic novel that is well worth watching.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden at YouTube.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Spirituality

Probably, posting this vid won't exactly make me more popular. But hey, if I was blogging for the sake of popularity, I'd blog about knitting, cooking or gardening, I suppose.

Monday, 19 October 2009

"... I'd rather have my own suffering than someone else's solution."

Yesterday, Ron Unger posted a link to an absolutely amazing article by British novelist Jeanette Winterson on his blog.

A few quotes:

"My creativity pulled me out of a hopeless childhood, and gave my life meaning and shape. But I have always had various forms of manic depression, (just can't bring myself to call it "bipolar"— whoever invented that dismal term must have been uni-polar—a condition I define as being permanently tethered to the banal)."

"...I'd rather have my own suffering than someone else's solution."

"Wounding—real or symbolic—is both mark and marker. It is an opening in the self, painful but transformative."

"We know from 100 years of psychoanalytic investigation that an early trauma, often buried or unavailable to consciousness, is the motif that plays through our lives. We meet it again and again in different disguises. We are wounded again in the same place. This doesn't turn us into victims. Rather, we are people in search of a transformation of the real."

Well, I could go on and on... Go read the whole article "In Praise of The Crack-Up" at, and this is amazing, this too, the Wall Street Journal's website.

Open letter to Oprah Winfrey in response to the programme about “The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic”

19th October 2009

Open letter to Oprah Winfrey in response to the programme about “The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic”

This is an open letter addressed to Oprah Winfrey and intended to be seen by the public through newspapers and other media, such as a letter to the editor, or included in websites, blogs, Facebook etc.

This is where you come in, please circulate this letter as widely as you can. It would be helpful if you copied me into any email you send, so I can keep track of where it is being posted. Also if the letter is published anywhere online or elsewhere, please let me know.

If you want to add your support, send me your name and some details about who you are and where you live. The more people who sign up the better.

Best wishes and my heartfelt thanks for the many suggestions and messages of support.

You can see the programme about Jani and the accompanying article here

You can download a copy of the open letter here

Paul Baker


Introduction: This letter has been written in response to the Oprah Winfrey programme about Jani "The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic” broadcast on the 6th November 2009. We want to tell you about an alternative and more empowering approach to the experience of hearing voices. 85 members of the mental health community around the world, including voice hearers, relatives, citizens, academics and educators, therapists, nurses and researchers have been moved to sign this letter. Such is the level of concern we feel about the circumstances that Jani finds herself in.


Dear Oprah

We are writing this letter in response to your programme about “The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic”. This concerned Jani, a child who hears voices, and was broadcast on the 6th October 2009.

We do so in the hope we can provide a more hopeful and positive alternative to the generally pessimistic picture offered by the members of the mental health community featured in the programme, and in the accompanying article on your website.
What upset us most and moved us to write the letter, is that, as a result of the programme, parents of children who have similar experiences to Jani will be left with the impression that they are powerless and will not be able to do anything constructive to help their children to come to terms with their experience of hearing voices.

For it is simply not true that nothing can be done.

We say this because we have been researching and working with adults and children like Jani and their parents for the last twenty years, and in doing so have reached very different conclusions from the ones reported on your programme.

We write this letter primarily for parents and carer givers, in the hope that it will enable them to develop a new and more empowering way of thinking about their children’s experiences, and that it will help them to find ways to help those children with their emotional development and with recovering from being overwhelmed by hearing voices.

Unfortunately, there is very little practical advice available about children who hear voices which addresses the needs of parents or other members of the family. This is a shame because they are the most important form of support to such children. So, we want you to know that there are some simple commonsense things that parents can do to help children who hear voices - even children in seemingly hopeless situations, like Jani.

We would like to make the following observations:

One of our founding members, Dr. Sandra Escher from the Netherlands, is an expert on the issue of children who hear voices. She has spent the last fifteen years talking to children who hear voices, and to their parents and carer givers. To date, on this issue, Sandra has carried out the most detailed and thorough research in the world. As a result of her work she offers a new perspective on what troubling voices may represent, and how parents can help a child cope if he or she hears voices.

First of all, from the research carried out into the experience of adults and children who hear voices it has become apparent that:

To hear voices in itself is a normal experience. Of course it is unusual, but at some time or another, many people hear a voice when nobody else is actually present.

However, it is possible for people to become ill as a result of hearing voices when they cannot cope with them.

For most children (60%) the voices disappear over time as the child develops and as they learn to cope with life's problems, and with the emotions and feelings involved with those problems, which led to the voices starting in the first place.


Several large-scale population (epidemiological) studies have shown that about 4 % of the population hear voices. Of this 4%, about 30% seek assistance from mental health services. Amongst children, however, even more hear voices (8%), and as with adults, about 30% are referred to the mental health services.

This means that there are apparently many more people who hear voices who do not require the support of mental health services than those who do. This is because the majority can cope with their voices and function well in everyday life.

Unfortunately, most of the information that we have about the experience of hearing voices comes exclusively from research with patients: people who obviously cannot cope with the voices and needed help. These are people who feel that the voices made them feel powerless and who were overwhelmed by them. This is the case for research about adults and children who are hearing voices.

However, in our research we found that a common theme in both groups (adults and children) is the high percentage of traumatic experiences that have been the trigger for hearing voices. In adults, around 75% began to hear voices in relationship to a trauma or situation that made them feel powerless. Examples of the kinds of traumas that trigger voices include the death of a loved one, divorce, losing a job, failing an exam, but also longer lasting situations like being physically, emotionally or sexually abused.

The percentage of traumatic experience found as the trigger to hearing voices was even higher amongst children. It stood at 85%, with some traumas specifically related to childhood. These traumas might include being bullied by peers or teachers, or being unable to perform at a certain level at school. Another commonly reported traumatic incident related to hearing voices was being admitted to a hospital for a long time due to a physical illness.

Generally, our research indicates that hearing voices is a reaction to a situation or a problem the child or young person cannot cope with. Voices act as messengers and it may well be a mistake to try to kill the messenger - for instance through administering medication.

Another striking finding is that what the voices say often indicates the problem which troubles the child, but in an elliptical manner. Take just one example: The voices told an 8-year-old boy to blind himself. This frightened his mother. But when we discussed whether there was something in the life of the boy he could not face, she understood the voices’ message. The boy could not cope with his parents’ problematic marriage. He did not want to see it.

In Jani's case, has anyone tried to establish why the rat is called "Wednesday", why the girl is called "24 Hours", and why is the cat called "400"? What do these mean for her? Are there reasons behind this? Furthermore, why did she want people to call her "Blue-Eyed Tree Frog" and "Jani Firefly".

Is this something she associated with safety, and if so why?

Our research also revealed that when full attention was given to the problems facing the child, he or she was able to establish a more constructive relationship with the voices. As a result children became less afraid of their voices. When a child is able to consider the problems that are at the root of his or her distress, and with the emotions and feelings involved, the child is no longer preoccupied with the voices.

Recently, Sandra conducted a three-year follow up study on eighty children who heard voices, aged between 8 and 19. Half of this group received mental health care because of their voices. However, the other half were not given any special care at all. She interviewed the children four times, at yearly intervals. By the end of the research period 60% of the children reported that the voices had disappeared.

Of course figures and statistics like this do not directly relate to Jani. But the overall message is that the chance that the voices might disappear are quite high.

We saw that when children have problems which bring on the experience of hearing voices, their ability to learn to cope with their voices is inhibited. However, if the problems were dealt with or the child’s situation changed - for example, because of changing schools - the voices disappeared.

It is important that we appreciate that the desire to make the voices disappear is a goal of the mental health care services and not necessarily that of the children themselves. There are some children who did not want to lose their voices. This is OK, for the most important thing is that the voices no longer remain at the centre of their attention. This is because, as the relationship with the voices change and became more positive, instead of hindering the child the voices start to take on an advisory role. If children find within themselves the resources to cope with their voices, and the emotions involved with hearing them, then they can begin to lead happier and more balanced lives.

The most important element in the process of positively changing a child's relationship with his or her voice is support from the family. Unfortunately, our research has shown that being in the mental health care system had no positive effect on the voices. However, we did find that what had a positive influence on how the child coped with hearing voices was being referred to a psychotherapist who accepted the reality of the voices and was prepared to discuss their meaning with the child.

We also saw that ‘normalising’ the experience can help parents to deal with the voices. Try not to think of it as a terrible disaster but rather as a signal for something that troubles your child and which can be resolved.

On the other hand, if parents cannot accept that hearing voices is fairly normal, but believe only that it is a symptom of an illness, and are afraid of them, then the child naturally picks up this feeling. Imagine for a moment if you were the child and were afraid of the voices, and when you looked for support from your parents you found that they were even more afraid of the voices than you. Obviously, this would put you under great pressure and probably mean that you would become reluctant to talk about your experiences at all.

There is a second problem. If a person is afraid of the voices then he or she can become obsessed simply by the fear of them. If one is distressed and anxious one cannot listen very well to the story a child tells about his or her experiences. This means that a sympathetic other may fail to pick up on the related emotions and problems that the voices represent.

In our experience, what helps children the most is a systematic approach to understanding the voices. So, in order to help we have developed an interview to help map the experience. This can be used as a way to understand the stress the child is under, and then to work together to find solutions for the problems raised by the experience of hearing voices.

We would like to offer this 10-point guide for parents, indicating what they can do if their child tells them that he or she hears voices:


1. Try not to over react. Although it is understandable that you will be worried, work hard not to communicate your anxiety to your child. 

2. Accept the reality of the voice experience for your child: ask about the voices, how long the child has been hearing them, who or what they are, do they have names, what they say, etc.

3. Let your child know that lots of children hear voices and that usually they go away after a while. 

4. Even if the voices do not disappear your child might learn to live in harmony with his or her voices 

5. It is important to break down your child's sense of isolation and difference from other children. Your child is special - unusual perhaps, but really not abnormal.

6. Find out if your child has any difficulties or problems that he or she finds very hard to cope with, and work on trying to fix those problems. Think back to when the voices first started. When did the voices arise for the first time? What was happening to your child when the voices first appeared? Was there anything unusual or stressful that might have occurred?

7. If you think you need outside help, find a therapist who is prepared to accept your child's experience and work systematically with him or her to understand and cope better with the voices. 

8. Be ready to listen to your child if he or she wants to talk about the voices. Use drawing, painting, acting and other creative ways to help the child to describe what is happening in his or her life. 

9. Get on with your lives and try not to let the experience of hearing voices become the centre of your child's life or your own. 
10. Most children who live well with their voices have supportive families around them who accept the experience as part of who their child is. You can do this too!

In conclusion we would like to stress that, in our view, labelling a seven-year-old child as schizophrenic and subjecting her to powerful psychotropic medication and periodic hospitalisation is unlikely to help resolve her problems with voices. Indeed, the opposite is most probable: Jani will simply become more powerless when it comes to finding ways to cope with her voices.

Because your well respected, award winning show reaches out to so many people, we are concerned that ther will be many viewers who will be left with the impression that the kind of treatment Jani receives is the only one available. If this is the case then there will be children who will be subjected to an unnecessary lifetime in psychiatric care because their families believe there are no alternatives. It is very important to recognise that hearing voices, in itself, is not a sign of psychopathology - and - voice hearers who are patients can be helped to recover from their problems by being supported in developing their own ways of coping with their emotions.

We hope you will give consideration to the possibility of making a future programme showing the other side of the story, one of hope, optimism and with a focus on recovery. Perhaps you could make a programme about a child with similar voice experiences to Jani, who has been helped to come to terms with her or his voices and to discuss with the child, parents and therapists how this was acheived? If there is anyway we could help make this happen, please contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you on the issues raised in our letter.

Yours sincerely,
Paul Baker 
INTERVOICE coordinator

Signed by 85 people from 14 countries, listed in order of the time they were received.


Dr. Sandra Escher - Board member of INTERVOICE, The Netherlands

Professor Marius Romme, psychiatrist, MD, PhD, President of INTERVOICE, The Netherlands 

Dirk Corstens, Social psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Chair of INTERVOICE, The Netherlands 

Paul Baker, coordinator of INTERVOICE, Spain 

Jacqui Dillon, consultant trainer and voice hearer, chair of Hearing Voices Network England, board member of INTERVOICE, UK 

Ron Coleman, consultant trainer and voice hearer, board member of INTERVOICE, UK 

Hywel Davies, chair of Hearing Voices Network Cymru (Wales), honorary board member of INTERVOICE; UK

Amanda R. E. Aller Lowe, MS, LPC, LCPC, QMRP - Agency Partner, Communities In Schools & Area Representative, The Center for Cultural Interchange, Aurora, Illinois, INTERVOICE supporter, USA

Adrienne Giacon, Secretary and Hearing Voices Network Support group facilitator Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa, INTERVOICE member, New Zealand 

Dr John Read, Associate Professor, Psychology Department, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand 

Ann-Louise S. Silver, MD, founder and past president, International Society for the Psychological Treatments of Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses (www.isps-us.org), ISPS-US, USA 

Matthew Morrissey, MA, MFT, Board Member, MindFreedom International, Northern California Coordiator, ISPS-US, San Franciso, USA

Irene van de Giessen, former voice hearer and foster-daughter of Willem van Staalen and Willem van Staalen, voice integrating foster-father of Irene, The Netherlands

Olga Runciman, consultant trainer and voice hearer (BSc psychiatric nurse and graduate student in psychology), INTERVOICE member, Denmark

Professor Wilma Boevink, Chair of Stichting Weerklank (Netherlands Hearing Voices Network), Professor of Recovery, Hanze University; Trimbos-Institute (the Dutch Institute of Mental Health and Addiction), Netherlands

Marian B. Goldstein, voicehearer, (fully recovered thanks to trauma-focussed therapy, the opportunity to make sense of the voices) INTERVOICE supporter, Denmark 

Professor Dr J. van Os, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, INTERVOICE supporter, Netherlands 

Virginia Pulker, Mental health Occupational Therapist with young people with psychosis, recovery promoter, HVN Australia, Northern Ireland and England. INTERVOICE supporter, UK/Australia 

Professor Richard Bentall, PhD, Chair Clinical Psychology, University of Bangor, INTERVOICE supporter, Wales, UK 

Alessandra Santoni, professional working in a Mental Health Service of Milan, voice hearer and facilitator of a hearing voices group, INTERVOICE supporter,Italy 

Geraldo Peixoto and Dulce Edie Pedro dos Santos, São Vicente - Est. São Paulo - INTERVOICE supporter, Brasil 
Joanna & Andrzej Skulski, INTERVOICE supporters, Polska 

Darby Penney, INTERVOICE supporter and President, The Community Consortium, Inc., Albany, NY, USA 

Jacqueline Hayes, researcher at Manchester University about hearing voices in 'non-patients' and therapist, UK 

Phil Virden, MA, MA, Executive Editor, Asylum Magazine, UK 

Matthew Morris, Mental Health Locality Manager, East Suffolk
Outreach Team, Suffolk Mental Health Partnerships NHS Trust, INTERVOICE supporter, UK 

Ros Thomas, Young Peoples Worker, Gateway Community Heath, Wodonga Victoria, INTERVOICE supporter, Australia 

Dr. Rufus May Dclin/ Consultant Clinical Psychologist, INTERVOICE supporter, UK 

Dr. Simon Jones, INTERVOICE supporter, UK 

Dr. Louis Tinnin, Psychiatrist, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA 

Linda Gantt, PhD, Intensive Trauma Therapy, Inc., USA 

Burton Norman Seitler, Ph.D., New Jersey Institute for training in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Child and Adolescence Psychotherapy Studies 

Ron Bassman, PhD., Founding member of International Network Towards Alternatives for Recovery (INTAR), Past president of The National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, USA

Michael O'Loughlin, Adelphi University, NY, USA 

Dorothy Scotten, Ph.D., LCSW, USA 

Marilyn Charles, Ph.D., The Austen Riggs Center, USA

Bex Shaw, Psychotherapist, London, UK

Ira Steinman, MD, author of “TREATING the 'UNTREATABLE' : Healing in the Realms of Madness”, USA

Mike Lawson, Ex Vice Chair National MIND UK 1986-1992, INTERVOICE supporter, UK 

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D., B.C.S.A., International Center for Humane Psychiatry, USA 

Ron Unger LCSW, therapist, USA 

Daniel B Fisher (Boston, MA): Person who recovered from what is called schizophrenia, Executive Director National Empowerment Center; National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/survivor Org., member of Interrelate an international coalition of national consumer/user groups, community psychiatrist, Cambridge, Mass., USA 

Mary Madrigal, USA

Paul Hammersley, University of Manchester, INTERVOICE supporter, UK 

Phil Benjamin, mental health nurse and voices consultant, Australia

Eleanor Longden, Bradford Early Intervention in Psychosis Sevice, England, UK

Karen Taylor RMN, director Working to Recovery, Scotland, UK 

Bill George, MA, PGCE, Member of the Anoiksis Think Tank, Netherlands

Dr Andrew Moskowitz, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

John Exell, BA(Hons), Dip Arch, voice-hearer, sculptor, artist, writer, poet, UK. 

Tineke Nabben, a voice hearer who has learned to cope with her voices and student, learning to help other children and parents to cope with their voices. Germany 

Marcello Macario, psychiatrist, Community Mental Health Centre of Carcare, Italy, INTERVOICE supporter, Italy

Ian Parker, Professor of Psychology, co-director of the Discourse Unit, Manchester Metropolitan University, England, UK

David Harper, PhD, Reader in Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology, University of East London, England, UK

Wakio Sato:, representative of the Hearing Voices Network - Japan. President of the Japanese Association of Clinical Psychology. The representative of an NPO named "Linden" for community mental health in Konko town, Okayama prefecture, Japan 

Suzette van IJssel, Ph.D., spiritual counsel and voice hearer, Utrecht, The Netherlands 

Jeannette Woolthuis, psycho-social therapist working with children hearing voices, The Netherlands

Dr. Louise Trygstad, Professor Emerita, University of San Francisco School of Nursing, USA

Erik Olsen, Board member ENUSP European Network of Users (x)-users and Survivors of Psychiatry and Executive Committee in European Dsability Forum (EDF)

Astrid Zoetbrood, recovered from psychosis and voices, the Netherlands

Christine Brown, RMN, Hearing Voices Network Scotland, INTERVOICE supporter, UK 

Rachel Waddingham,- Manager of the London Hearing Voices Project (inc. Voice Collective: Young People's Hearing Voices Project), trainer and voice-hearer, UK

Joel Waddingham, Husband and supporter of someone who hears voices, sees visions and has other unusual experiences, UK 

Professor Robin Buccheri, RN, MHNP, DNSc, University of San Francisco, CA, USA

Jørn Eriksen. Board member of INTERVOICE, the Danish Hearing Voices Network and The International Mental Health Collaboration Network, Denmark

Douglas Holmes, voice hearer working in a Mental Health Service in Darlinghurst, Sydney, and facilitator of a hearing voices group, INTERVOICE supporter, Australia 

Matthew Winter, Student Mental Health Nurse and INTERVOICE supporter

Anneli Westling, Relative of a voice hearer from Stockholm, Sweden 

Lia Govers, recovered voice hearer, Italy

Molly Martyn, MA in Clinical Mental Health, Hearing Voices Network of Denver, USA 

Tsuyoshi Matsuo, MD, INTERVOICE supporter, Japan

Janet M. Patterson RN, BSN, USA

Odette Nightsky, Sensitive Services International, Australia 

Barbara Belton, M.S., M.S. trauma survivor who has recovered and former behavioral health professional, USA 

Luigi Colaianni, PhD sociologist, researcher, Community Mental Health Centre, Milano, Italy

Teresa Keedwell, Voice Hearer Support Group, Palmerston North, New Zealand 

Maria Haarmans, MA, Canadian Representative INTERVOICE, Canada

Ami Rohnitz, Voice hearer, Sweden 

Sharon Jones, University of York, INTERVOICE Supporter, England, UK

Gail A. Hornstein, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Mount Holyoke College, USA

Siri Blesvik, INTERVOICE supporter, Norway

Lynn Seaton, mental health nurse, Scottish Hearing Voices Network and INTERVOICE supporter, UK 

Rozi Pattison, Clinical Psychologist, CAMHS, Kapiti Health Centre, PARAPARAUMU, New Zealand

Suzanne Engelen, Experience Focussed Counselling Institute (efc) and member of INTERVOICE. She is an expert by experience and also works for Weerklank (Dutch Hearing Voices Network) and the TREE project, The Netherlands

Further information:

INTERVOICE - The international community for hearing voices.
Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices.
We have found there are many people who hear voices, yet are not troubled by them or have found their own ways of coping with them outside of psychiatric care. This is very significant as it shows you can hear voices and remain healthy.
However, there are also significant numbers of voice hearers who are overwhelmed by the negative and disempowering aspects of the experience. Many are diagnosed as having a serious mental health problem such as schizophrenia – a harmful and stigmatizing concept, in our eyes.
The experience of hearing voices prevents some people from living a fulfilled life in society (especially those in psychiatric and social care) and can lead to having a very poor quality of life. We seek to enable voice hearers troubled by their experience to change their relationship and attitude to their voices and to take up their lives again. We also want to ensure that our innovatory approach is better known by professionals, family members and friends.
We have spent the last 20 years trying to better understand why some people can cope with the experience and others can’t. We have discovered that those people who are not able to cope with their voices, on the whole have not been able to cope with the traumatic events that lay at the roots of their voice hearing experience.
Many voices can be unthreatening and even positive. “It’s wrong to turn this into a shameful problem that people either feel they have to deny or to take medication to suppress.” - Professor Marius Romme


See articles about our work with children here:

Silencing unwelcome voices in children, The Guardian, 22/11/2001 
A psychosocial therapist in Holland has adapted an innovative approach to voice hearing to help very young children dispel the imaginary friends that become realistic foes. Read article here
'She was like a personal coach': An account of hearing voices as a child, The Guardian, 16/11/2001. Read article here
Most children hearing voices stop within three years, Royal College of Psychiatry, 03/09/2002. Read article here

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Beyond redemption? - Critique of an article by Peter Stastny on treatment for first "psychotic episodes".

Via Gianna's blog, Beyond Meds, I just came across an interesting article by Peter Stastny on MIWatch.org. Although I widely agree to Peter Stastny's observations, two things bother me about his article. One of them is the misconception I see also Peter Stastny obviously holds, that Scandinavia must be paradise when it comes to services offered by the mh system. This is not so! I left the following comment at the post:

Peter Stastny here makes it sound like living in Scandinavia almost is a guarantee for more humane and recovery-oriented care to be provided when a person goes through a "psychotic" crisis. Nothing could be more wrong. "Need adapted treatment", also called the "Vestlapland's model", is, as the name suggests, restricted to a region in Finland, namely Vestlapland. There have been other recovery-oriented treatment approaches that were inspired by the Vestlapland's model, respectively by Soteria and similar projects. For instance the Swedish Parachute Project. All of them have been geographically restricted to more or less minor areas, and many of them are not employed anymore today.

It is true, that community care widely has replaced especially long-term hospitalizations. However, a closer look at how this community care does - NOT - work, shows that it is in fact nothing but what you might call "hospitalization in the community", or, more precisely, on the margins of community. Today, the biological model and thus the almost exclusive reliance on psychotropic drugs as "treatment" dominates psychiatric "care" in Denmark and Norway entirely. In hospital as well as in the community. People aren't warehoused behind the brick walls of a locked ward. They are chemically restrained warehoused in halfway houses respectively in an assisted living facility - more often than not of poor quality; there have been numerous scandals about gross overmedication as well as intolerably filthy and run-down environments here in Denmark over the past years - or, if they're lucky, in their own apartment and at the nearest drop-in center.

About 90 per cent of those who enter the system and receive a "psychosis" or "schizophrenia" label end up as revolving door patients, and on disability.

De-institutionalization has widely failed in Denmark, because it was (mis-)used in order to save the state money, not in order to provide more recovery-oriented services to people in crisis. In the meantime, the overall failure of community mental health care has Danish politicians ask for the re-establishment of hospital beds on locked and secured wards, for the implementation of AOT-laws, as well as for several other initiatives, such as the re-establishment of seclusion rooms, that inevitably will bomb mental health services in this country back to the good old asylum-days. It doesn't occur to anyone that the problem may not be the form - community instead of hospitalization - but the contents - recovery-oriented services instead of drugs, drugs, and even more drugs.

The situation in Norway, Sweden, and as far as I am informed also in Iceland is that AOT-laws already do exist, and are excessively used, and that at least the mh system in Norway has hospitalization facilities at its disposal so as to be able to incarcerate a vast number of people long-term. Norway also is the European country with most incidents of involuntary hospitalization and "treatment", as far as I know, Denmark holds a sad third or fourth position on this list.

By and large, also the psychiatric establishment in Scandinavia has been successful defending a purely biological, and in addition widely on coercion based, "treatment" model, and preventing alternatives from as much as being publicly discussed, or even becoming known to a broader public. IMHO, our system is anything but a model system. And it looks like it will be even less so in the future.
_______________

The other disagreement I have concerning Peter Stastny's article is that also he, as most professionals, seems to believe that when people first had their second, third, or umpteenth "psychotic break" they're beyond redemption. Why his article entirely focusses on alternative treatment options for first "psychotic episodes". I can't tell you exactly how many times I had a "psychotic break" before I eventually received the guidance that made it possible for me to, I dare say once and for all, resolve crisis, but this last of my crises certainly wasn't my first one.

I have no doubt that crisis is "addictive", and habit-forming. The longer and more often someone employs a certain pattern of behavior, certain coping strategies, the more ingrained, probably also neurologically, it becomes. On the other hand, my compared to a teen or twenty-tear-old relatively more extensive life experience also was a huge advantage to me throughout the process of working things out. I'd say, all in all, my chances to recover were maybe different in kind but no smaller than any "first psychotic break" individual's.

No one should ever be regarded "beyond redemption". Recovery is possible and should be aimed at, no matter how many "psychotic breaks" someone has experienced. The services Peter Stastny, and others, are so eager to make available to people who experience their first crisis ought to be available to everyone, disregarded whether they're going through their first, second, or umpteenth crisis.

Monday, 12 October 2009

"Psykisk sårbar" - "Mentally vulnerable". The new, politically correct term in Denmark

There's a new trend emerging here in Denmark. The politically correct term for people in emotional distress is no longer "mentally ill" (psykisk syg) or "insane" (sindssyg - yup, both the "experts" and the media have a preference for this truly value neutral term, especially when it comes to "the schizophrenics"), it is "mentally vulnerable". Beautiful, huh? Like renaming the house slave as housekeeper, or lobotomy as psycho-surgery... Everybody of course just loooves this new term. It sounds so empathetic, so loving and caring, doesn't it?

One of those who are at the leading edge concerning this linguistic revolution is former Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, who recently launched one more amazing website (check out the vid - and cry; no need to speak Danish btw, his facial expression says it all) for, yeah, "mentally vulnerable" people and their relatives.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, whose daughter suffered from "depression", and eventually felt so respectfully listened to, also by her father, that she couldn't bear it anymore - certainly because of the "illness" - and ended her life, now wants to compensate for this tragic loss by publicly pleading the "mentally vulnerables' " cause. As we all know, these, uhm, people don't really have a voice of their own (that's probably why Poul Nyrup didn't hear the least, although his daughter screamed and shouted right into his ears), so they need every NAMI-parent available to speak for them.

"Schizophrenia is a persistent and serious mental illness," it reads on Poul Nyrup's brand new website. Among a whole bunch of other lies. It seems, Poul Nyrup is in dire need of a Truth Injection. Maybe I'll take pity on him and e-mail him one, one of these days. Being no more "mentally vulnerable" than anybody else, and thus able to speak for myself. But frankly I fear, Poul Nyrup's condition is rather persistent and serious, with treatment-resistant denial being one of the core symptoms.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

"What a show!" - Oprah is going to feature Jani Schofield

"An article in the LA-Times, a radio interview (...) a book, hope for a movie contract,..." I forgot to mention something of the most sought-after by every true narcissist: An appearance on The Oprah Show.

Yeah, Michael Schofield made it! Oprah is going to feature Jani's absolutely unique case in her show. Congrats Michael! Here's to you:



(Indeed, the very last words Peter Gabriel sings in this vid are: "Go to hell!"...)

Stephany has written more about the upcoming event here.

Concerning Stephany's doubts whether the show will be one-sided pro-drugs, just watch the Pfizer-ad at the top of this page.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Rosensfole. An ancient Norwegian folk song



A collaboration between the Jan Garbarek Group and Agnes Buen Garnås, one of Norway's best renowned folk singers.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

apples and elderberries







In Scandinavian and English mythology elders give protection from evil, so they mustn't be cut down without asking for the spirit of the tree, the Elder Mother's, forgiveness first, or she will take revenge.

I always ask for forgiveness. Not only elder trees. Nature isn't a resource. It's there in its own right.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Awesome lecture by Will Hall

Gianna has posted Will Hall's lecture "Coming off medication; a harm reduction approach" on her blog. Will held the lecture this afternoon at First World Congress Hearing Voices in Maastricht, Netherlands. Click the link at the top of this post to get to Gianna's blog where you can listen to it.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Freudian slip of the month

The Danish media today reported that the "battle against suicide among the mentally ill has been fruitless". Statistically, once every other week a labelled person commits suicide while incarcerated at a psych prison. In spite of, as the media has it, an increased focus on the problem, various plans of action, increased screening for suicidality, and a lot more controlling measures applied to those, who are assessed to be suicidal, the number of suicides at psych prisons has remained stable. "In spite of"??? Well well...

While surfing the net for blog entries about the matter, I came across a post entitled "Kamp mod psykisk syge slår fejl", which translates into "the battle against the mentally ill has been fruitless".

My comment: "While I suppose the choice of words wasn't a conscious one, the title of the post is right on. It is indeed a "battle against the 'mentally ill'" psychiatry (and society) are conducting. Unfortunately though, there's a limit to how fruitless it has been so far. Psychiatry is actually quite efficient, as the unchanged suicide rates suggest."

Normality

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Who needs shrinks?

From The Last Psychiatrist's blog: "However, most of these 'patients' do not need these medications, most do not need psychiatry at all.  Of course many do, they are truly sick and but for psychiatry their lives would be chaos."

I'd say, the only reason why the lives of those "many" and "truly sick" people he obviously refers to here, and of whom I'd have been one myself, aren't chaos is that psychiatry has, successfully, destroyed these lives. Not perhaps because it has helped the people sort things out.

But well, he's a psychiatrist, right? And he's no Loren Mosher...

BTW: Last time I was "truly sick" was in 1999, when I'd caught the flu.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

"Search inside your heart..."



Facebook group "The incarceration of John"

Conference "Recovery: A Human Right"

My YouTube-comment: "What is traumatizing to human nature? The very normal though also very unnatural circumstances, that alienate it from itself. Unfortunately, violence is just all too normal in our culture. Biopsychiatry being a kind of meta-violence, as it violates those, who react to our culture's violence. (...)"

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The end of suffering - genes and schizophrenia

This is a post I wrote for Gianna Kali's blog Beyond Meds. I publish it here too, as Gianna's blog has no comment function for now. So, feel free to tear me to pieces. Still, it would be nice if you considered this blog's comment politics...

The end of suffering- genes and schizophrenia

"Det är synd om människorna," is an often quoted line from August Strindberg's A Dream Play. Translated into English, the line becomes: "Human beings are to be pitied," which is a correct literal translation. Nevertheless, it fails to capture the very essence of the Swedish original, and often leads to the misunderstanding that Strindberg intended to say, human beings were to be pitied because of the suffering that is - being human. No, human beings are not to be pitied because their suffering in the world is without comparison, inevitable, and sometimes even endless. They're not to be pitied because of the suffering that is both humanity's greatest challenge and its greatest gift at the same time. There's nothing in nature, human or other, that doesn't serve a purpose. And there's only one purpose: life.

Human beings are to be pitied because they fail to recognize and acknowledge this. Because they have made suffering their worst enemy, whom they fight with all their power and strength. Because they have waged war on nature, not least on their own nature, on themselves, on life. 

That is what Strindberg's line and A Dream Play, which Strindberg himself said was "the child of my greatest pain", as a whole is all about.

The Danish newspaper B.T., a tabloid, ran an article on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009, under the headline "Skizofrene fostre kan sorteres fra" - "Schizophrenic embryos can be screened out".

According to another article at the website of University of Copenhagen, "Genetic Causes of Schizophrenia", a group of European researchers has found chromosomal changes in individuals labelled with "schizophrenia", that they interpret to be the main cause of the "illness". Their research is now granted a fund of additionally 30 million Danish crowns, in part paid by Lundbeck, a Danish pharmaceutical company, specializing in drugs for the "treatment" of "mental illnesses", Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Cipralex/Lexapro is a Lundbeck-product, as is Serdolect, a lesser known "atypical antipsychotic", in part by the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation, and the Danish Medical Research Council.

The additional funding is granted in order for the researchers to develop diagnostic tools, a new generation of drugs, targeting the mutated, "defect" chromosomes, and tools to screen embryos for the chromosome changes in question, so that parents to be can choose an abortion if the embryo shows these chromosome changes. 

The few critical voices that are heard here and there in the media don't go beyond questioning if it is "ethical" to screen out and dispose of embryos, that may or may not actually develop "schizophrenia" later in life, since the researchers admit, that it takes more than the identified mutated chromosomes for the "illness" to manifest. They also have found the specific chromosome changes in individuals who are not labelled, and do not display signs of the "illness", just as they found labelled individuals without the changes. So, basically, the results are not significantly different from what we have seen this kind of research conjure up so many times in the past.

Which obviously is significantly different, increased, once more, is our culture's belief in Social-Darwinism, and eugenic weapons in its war against our existential suffering, against our own nature. Because what the researchers really have found is not the cause of any biological brain disease, but the formal, biological effects of the challenges, humanity faces: social injustice, violence, abuse, exploitation, alienation...

At least since Paul Hammersley and John Read's meta study, we all know, that most people who are labelled with "schizophrenia", are survivors of abuse. And while Hammersley and Read concentrated on physical and sexual abuse, abuse has many faces. Most of what our culture values as "normal" in fact is unnatural, actually alienating us from (our) nature. It is a "toxic mimicry" of nature, to use Derrick Jensen's terminology. To expect our nature to submit to this toxic mimicry without resistance, and deny itself, is a kind of abuse. We're all traumatized by this abuse. It's what the Fall Of Man refers to. No one is innocent.

What we also know by now is that childhood trauma can change both neuronal pathways in the brain and genes. Like all form in this world, also genes react and adapt to the environment they're surrounded and influenced by. The form, our body and also our genes, is always a symbol, a sign, a "symptom", reflecting on a formal level whatever formal, existential, spiritual, psychological, social, etc. challenges we face by reacting to these challenges. A nonreactive entity, if it is a human being, a person, or a single gene, is not fit to survive in this world as it is defenceless exposed to it's destructive abusiveness.

Mutated chromosomes are not the cause of anything. Neither of "schizophrenia". They are a symptom - of the challenges, the social injustice, the abuse, the alienation, the violence and destructiveness we face in this world.

We can try to eliminate our suffering, our reaction to the challenges that surround us, and to gene-manipulate respectively abort humanity into a state of nonreactivity. It will be exactly this, the abortion of humanity. As nonreactive to our environment we will no longer be able to survive. Nonreactivity to the challenges we face will allow this world's destructiveness to unrestrained destroy not only the basis for our biological survival, but, and even worse, since our biological survival depends on it, the basis for our spiritual survival, for the survival of what makes us human: our souls, our suffering souls. We can try. While the researchers, and everybody else, are positive to have found the cause of "schizophrenia", as long as there's one single alive human being left on this earth, they will react to the world. To eliminate existential suffering, we will have to eliminate humanity. Although the Nazis were extremely efficient, murdering people who suffered in the way that is labelled "schizophrenia", although they sterilized everybody whom they did not murder, preventing them from having children, the percentage of people who met the criteria for "schizophrenia" did not decrease in Nazi-Germany. The percentage of Jews did. Remarkably. What does this tell us about the "genetic causes of schizophrenia"?

In the meantime, it nevertheless looks like humanity won't rest until it has not overcome but eliminated suffering by perfectionizing its cultural nightmare's alienation and deadness. It looks like we will eliminate nature, both our own and that around us - and end up perfectly inhumane. The latest research on the "genetic causes of schizophrenia", and the consequences it inevitably will have, is another huge battle won in our war against ourselves, on our way toward a perfectly inhumane world.

So I ask: Is it "ethical" to eliminate life's greatest gift to humanity - humanity itself?

I know, that this is a controversial viewpoint. 'You want people to suffer?!' I hear you, with disbelief. Yes. I want people to suffer. So that they can become aware and conscious. So that they can wake up in the dream, wake up from our cultural nightmare's emotional alienation and deadness. So that they can overcome suffering, realizing that what they thought was their worst enemy in truth is their best friend. So that they can become alive, in the true meaning of the word.

You may accuse me of romanticizing suffering, of being detached from reality, having my head in the clouds. You wouldn't be the first to do so. I'll answer you, that I've suffered myself. Indescribably. And I still do suffer. From being an alive human being. I wouldn't want to trade that for anything in the whole wide world. Suffering isn't a - romantic - accessory to life. It is the incentive necessary to bring about change, to have us keep walking on the road of constant change. And only as long as we keep walking that road are we truly alive. Suffering is not a superfluous accessory to life. There's nothing superfluous, dispensable, in nature. And suffering is natural. It is life.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Wolof - anyone??

Sunday morning with Youssou N'Dour and a request: anyone out there who can translate what Youssou N'Dour sings in this vid?



BTW: "How come I gotta wake up early to go to work," is something I also often ask myself, me too...

Monday, 24 August 2009

Side effects

When I was about 17 I came down with an inflammation in my left knee, a reaction to overwork. I wasn't aware of that, so went to see my GP for an explanation of what was going on. As it is GPs - and virtually all other doctors' too - habit, he prescribed one of Big pHARMa's wonder cures. This was a new drug, that still was in the experimental stage, not yet fully approved. So, yeah, I was acting guinea pig for Big pHARMa.

Luckily, I didn't experience as much as one of all the in part rather frightening possible side effects listed for the drug. And it did the trick, rather quickly in addition. I maybe was on that crap for ten days. At the most. I wouldn't even have started to take something with such side effects as those listed, if I'd been told I would have to take it for at least several weeks or months, not to mention for the rest of my life. And the side effects still were somewhat harmless, compared to those of psych drugs.

Anyhow, had I experienced as much as the suspicion of only one single side effect, I can assure everyone, I'd instantly thrown the pills out. That is, I had not waited for my GP to tell me what to do. I'd stopped taking the poison here and now. I've never had excessive trust in the products of the pharmaceutical industry beforehand. Neither in the infallibility of medical expertise. The only reason I gave these pills a try was that I couldn't wait to be able to get back on horseback again, which the inflammation in my knee prevented me from.

Now I wonder how on earth it is, that I hear so many people report all sorts of intolerable side effects of psych drugs, as in this blog entry for instance, while, nevertheless, these people stay on the drugs, waiting for their doctor to decide for them what to do. How come? What keeps all these people from taking control of their life, their well-being, themselves, instead of leaving it with someone, who obviously doesn't care and/or is rather incompetent?? I really don't get it. Is it the spellbinding effect? Can it be the spellbinding effect, when someone realizes they're experiencing side effects, that it is not the "illness" that causes the misery? Is it some sort of half- or unconscious need to repeat the trauma: "I don't deserve to feel good. - But since society doesn't accept a conscious choice of emotional suffering, I choose the suffering the side effects cause"? Or are people really that alienated from themselves that they unconditionally trust in anybody else but themselves to know what's good and right for them, even though their body and soul is screaming at them that this is not so? Anyone?

To prevent misunderstandings: Of course I'm not talking about people who are forced to take psych drugs. That's a different story.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Mari Boine - A voice against oppression

Mari Boine - Gula Gula



Norwegian-Sami singer Mari Boine on the oppression of the Sami people and their culture, including the Yoik, the traditional Sami chanting:

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief. Alternative Ways of Working with Delusions, Obsessions and Unusual Experiences, by Tamasin Knight, with a preface by Rufus May, is now available as a free download at peter-lehmann-publishing.com.



I've only had a short glimpse at Rufus May's preface so far, but the book certainly looks like great reading. Here's the description from Peter Lehmann's website:


"Tamasin Knight's first book Beyond Belief explores ways of helping people who have unusual beliefs. These are beliefs that may be called delusions, obsessions, or another kind of psychopathology.
• Psychiatric treatment attempts to remove these beliefs by medication and other methods. The new approach described in Beyond Belief is different. It is about accepting the individual's own reality and assisting them to cope and live with their beliefs.
• Beyond Belief explains the new approach in a very readable format.
• Many psychological techniques to cope with unusual beliefs are described. These include strategies to reduce fear, strategies to increase coping and problem solving techniques.
• Ideal for mental health professionals, service users/survivors and carers.
"Beyond Belief offers us a ground-breaking way of helping people deal with unusual beliefs. In Bradford we have found this publication it to be extremely helpful to service users, workers and as the inspiration for a new self help group. I am sure that this publication will enable more people to benefit from this knowledge and approach and help us change the way we as a society approach beliefs we find unusual." (Rufus May; Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Citizenship and Community Mental Health, Bradford University, England)"

Friday, 7 August 2009

Good news about Ray

MindFreedom International News - 6 August 2009
Win Human Rights in Mental Health
http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray - please forward

    Ray Sandford Campaign Victory: New Psychiatrist is Official

Ray Sandford just phoned MindFreedom with some very good news.

As you may know, Ray is a 55-year-old Minnesota resident who has
received more than 40 involuntary electroshocks (also known as
"electroconvulsive therapy" or ECT).

Adding to his horror, Ray received these court-ordered procedures
against his wishes -- and even against his family's wishes -- on an
OUTPATIENT basis. That is, Ray would be woken up early in his group
home, and escorted to a hospital for his forced shock over and over
and over again.

Ray asked for help from MindFreedom, which kicked off a Ray campaign
activating people internationally.

Today, Ray said because of his campaign his new psychiatrist -- who
opposes forced electroshock -- has been officially approved by the
mental health system.

Ray already has a new attorney, who is moving toward changing Ray's
guardianship.

Meanwhile, because of the campaign the Minnesota state legislature has
scheduled a hearing this Monday, 10 August, on the subject of
electroshock of committed Minnesota residents.

For more info about campaign news, see the Ray Gateway at:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray

At the start of this Saturday's MindFreedom Mad Pride Free Live Web
Radio show -- which is on the topic of humane alternatives to this
kind of abuse -- you can also hear news updates about the Ray
Campaign, see:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/radio

Thursday, 6 August 2009

poppies - and a thought






The most marvellous monstrosity ever. Not the poppies. Humanity.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Need a gift for your shrink?

Check out chapter three of Greg Craven's book What Is The Worst That Could Happen?, download a preview here. What I like about Greg Craven is that he manages to explain things in a way, that even shrinks have a chance to get it. "Research bias for dummies", something. Or: "Why most psychiatric science is junk". This could be the ultimate hate gift for your shrink. Well, right after Alice Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child, that is, which, as someone recently told me, made her shrink exclaim: "Hell, this is the most awful book I've ever read!" and, subsequently, prescribe huge doses of Trilafon to her.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Psychiatry and politics

One more reply to Will:

No need to apologize! As mentioned, I'm not an angel, me neither. And I've actually enjoyed this conversation too. I like conversations with people, who are open-minded. BTW, Gianna is right. There is a whole lot of judgement and anger, even hatred, out there. On both sides. I recently read a comment on a Norwegian blog, that stated that about 90 per cent of this world's population were traumatized, in one way or the other. It's certainly just an estimation, but in my opinion a very realistic one. Unfortunately. And if trauma isn't made conscious and worked out it gets acted out. Which means war. Like in the war against terrorism, the war against drugs, the war in Iraq,... you name it.

On juge un société à la manière dont elle traite ses fous. -Lucien Bonnafé

Of course it is society that makes psychiatry possible. And I want to emphasize, that I distinguish between the mental health system and psychiatry. It goes without saying: psychiatry was established in order to pathologize certain, unwanted behaviors and ideas, that couldn't be criminalized. Pathologizing behaviors and ideas means to declare them null and void. This quote from Jani's father's blog is one of the most obvious illustrations of what medically diagnozing behavior and ideas aims at: "With schizophrenics, you always have to try to rationalize with them. You have to try and point out where their thinking is irrational. It doesn’t work right then and there but the hope is that it will sink in over time and that Jani will learn to question her own thoughts." (my italics)

BTW, there lies an interesting contradiction in psychiatry's practice of pathologizing and declaring certain thoughts to be "irrational", while no one ever seems to doubt the report of "symptoms" by the identified "patient" to be other than rational.

Well, the thing is, that "psychosis", "schizophrenia", is a reaction to having one's thoughts and feelings declared null and void (because they're unwanted). I dare say, that every single individual who has experienced "psychosis" as a result of psychological trauma (and usually physical abuse involves psychological trauma as well) - in contrast to those, whose "psychotic" symptoms are a reaction to purely biological stressors, food allergies, adverse reactions to drugs, etc. - has had their own thoughts and feelings invalidated in one or the other way. To an extent, that eventually makes them doubt the value of their own, genuine thoughts and feelings themselves. And the moment one's true self starts to protest this invalidation, psychiatry steps in, and accomplishes what others weren't able to accomplish. Because they couldn't scientifically prove one's thoughts and feelings to be without value. Psychiatry can. Or, it claims to be able to. The invalidation of one's personality is scientifically, and thus, taken the status of science in our society into account, indisputably and irrevocably justified. That's why psychiatry has to be a (medical) science. Religion doesn't have that power anymore in our society today. Although it once had: what psychiatry is to our modern society, the Inquisition was to Pre-Enlightenment society. Notice that psychiatry emerges about at the same time as society enters the age of Enlightenment, and the Inquisition comes to an end.

When more and more people turned away from religion as the truth, and instead enthusiastically embraced science, the Inquisition was no longer an acceptable tool to control and oppress unwanted behavior and ideas. It needed to be replaced by a tool, that at least on the surface gave the impression of being scientific in order to be acceptable to an enlightened society.

Psychiatry is one of society's tools to enforce our culture's ideology on people. Probably the most effective one. Where educational institutions for example have great but nevertheless limited influence on individual perception, psychiatry's influence is virtually unlimited. Any kind of being in this world can be defined a mental illness (cf. homosexuality, or being a runaway slave), and while it wouldn't occur to anyone to remove real illnesses like the flu or cancer from the ICD, or to add any diagnoses that lack scientific proof of being an illness to it, psychiatric diagnoses are added to and removed from the DSM faster than you can say "DSM"... always perfectly in line with current cultural norms and values.

Now you'll maybe object, and say that people do suffer and need help. I agree. But the help people really need, is to have their suffering validated, not invalidated. To blame individual biology for suffering, that is caused by cultural norms and values, is to invalidate the suffering.

The vast majority of people I know, I myself included, know that they suffer and are in need of help. It isn't true that they lack insight by definition. The only idea they lack insight in regard to, is the idea that they would suffer from a brain disease and would need medical treatment. Non-psychiatric alternatives like Soteria don't need to force anybody, or lock as much as one single door. Because, in contrast to psychiatry, they validate people's suffering, so people stay voluntarily. Just as I didn't cancel, was late for, or missed out on one single therapy session. Because I felt that both my suffering and my being in general was validated. Not entirely - for example, I experienced being referred to as a "patient" as an invalidation - but enough to have me stay.

As for psychotherapy in general, and your experience in particular, that I've heard countless parallels to over time, it is dominated by psychiatry's (society's) ideology. That is, it doesn't validate the individual in crisis and his/her (human) experience. It pathologizes both. And once you and your (human) experience are declared pathological, it can't be you, but has to be the therapist, who knows all the answers. It doesn't work out for the individual in crisis, but it does for society. Society prefers to put up with a growing number of people on disability, people who aren't chronically ill, but chronically denied their true answers, their true selves, to being confronted with these true answers.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Something about intellectual property and copyright

It's not that I don't feel honored, finding out, that someone thinks my latest reply to Will is worth reposting on their blog.

What pisses me off is that, while I wasn't asked whether I'd agree to a reposting, I'm not given any credits, no link, nothing, on the contrary, to make the impudence complete, at the bottom of the blog it says: "Copyright 2008 Seven Human Needs". WTF is the meaning?! Rhetorical question. Just watch the Google ads at the blog...

Of course, I'm not the only one. Robert A. Senser at Human Rights for Workers obviously is a favorite of this spam-blogger.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Another reply to Will

Here's another reply to Will at WillSpirit:

My way to union with the great consciousness... I'm still on my way, Will. I haven't arrived there yet. Like you, I've had certain experiences, epiphanies, peak experiences... I've even spent longer periods of time in a state of inner peace. But I've not attained that state of mind once and for all. I know, that such a place exists, because I've been there. But if being there was a constant thing, at least my Danish blog would look a lot different from what it does. Probably also this one, although it usually isn't quite as pugnacious as the Danish one.

This is something, I thought I'd write a post on its own about, but I may as well at least mention it here and now. For a long time, I've felt sort of an obligation to frequently comment on news articles and stuff on my Danish blog. There are no other blogs commenting critically on what's going on specifically in the field of psychiatry in Danish. And surprisingly many people have told me, they have difficulty navigating and reading sites in English or American. The mh system in this country hasn't only a monopoly when it comes to treatment, but also in regard to which information gets out, and which doesn't... To a far greater extent than in English -speaking countries. Go figure...

One aspect of this is that I found myself constantly confronted with lies, prejudice, ignorance, cynicism, ... in short: violence, exhibited by the news articles etc. I had to read in order to comment on them. Another is that the same violence regularly tried to make it to my comment field, respectively made it to my mail inbox. It is toxic, and it is extremely contagious. It goes straight for the ego, and if you don't watch out, the ego will take control and start a war. Especially if you've been a victim of violence before. You can observe it all over the mh blogosphere. Egos trying to get at each other, acting out their personal trauma. And repeating it, over and over again. Guess, who gets hurt...

I'm certainly no saint. I've engaged in several wars lately. Increasingly belligerent. Acting out and repeating past trauma. It gives a very short-lived, superficial satisfaction to make someone one's enemy and bash them, with some scathing irony for instance. But when the moment of satisfaction is over, it does nothing but hurt. And then you need another moment of satisfaction. And another one, and another one... I've actually suffered a whole lot, recently. Enough to have me reconsider the future of my blogs, and my engagement in the mh-debate on the internet in general. That's what suffering is good for. To bring about change.

Well, drugs. Drugs certainly can open some doors. Hallucinogens especially. And they don't altogether have the sedating, deadening effect that neuroleptics have. However, they altogether alienate oneself from oneself to a certain extent. Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiRvnfrs8UM - BTW a channel I recommend, SFJane.

As for me, I didn't have to clear my brain of pharmaceuticals. I spent my youth moving in what you might call "alternative" circles, where natural drugs like marijuana etc. weren't regarded a big problem, while everybody was highly suspicious of any kind of chemicals. In addition, psychoanalytical theories were the thing. I didn't even know, that psychiatry - or rather: the pharmaceutical industry - had come up with a concept of emotional distress being brain diseases, before I saw myself confronted with the "news" in context with my last crisis in 2004. It had always been a matter of fact to me, that whatever the problem, it certainly was a reaction to one's environment. The massive propaganda everywhere of course had me doubt this matter of fact for a while. It just didn't add up, it made no sense. What made sense, was reading Laing's The Divided Self, and what I remembered from Joanne Greenberg's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which I'd read as a teen.

Well, and then add to that the controlled and oppressed individual's pronounced desire for freedom and self-determination on the one hand, and her just as pronounced suspiciousness towards any authority that tries to take control and oppress on the other. Of course my reaction was: "I alone know what's best for me. No one and nothing messes with my mind but I myself." Luckily, this was respected. So, the only drugs I still will have to clear my brain of are caffeine and nicotine...

I've tried a benzo, once (apart from a suicide attempt that involved valium, but that's a different story). Nasty. Very very nasty. And it would have been even more nasty to experience that amount of loss of control, if it had happened during crisis. That is, during a period of time, where my true self openly rebelled against being controlled and oppressed. - Does psychiatric "treatment" worsen "symptoms"? It certainly does. Maybe not always, but often enough. Involuntary "treatment" by definition.

Last but not least, I was sort of intuitively convinced, that taking anything to numb out the pain would be extremely counterproductive, as I was determined as hell to find out, what the meaning was. And how were I supposed to figure out the meaning, when the pain was gone?


"A major objection to the use of the anti-psychotic drugs in acute crisis situations is that because they are such powerful central nervous system suppressants they may well have the effect of preventing crisis resolution. They are powerful enough to abort a psychological process, which if supported and understood, would resolve itself in the context of a relationship," Loren Mosher says here

The "symptoms" I experienced were indeed signposts, that showed me, clearly and unmistakably, whenever I was on the right track, trying to figure out what had caused what was going on. Without having them show me the way, the whole therapeutic process would have been a grope in the dark, unlikely to lead anywhere, since I was the only one who had the answers to all of my questions. In spite of what many people seem to expect, therapists obviously aren't there to know and tell their clients all the answers. Their only task is to suggest different angles from which to look at the questions, so that one of these angles hopefully may reveal the answer.

Numbing "symptoms" with neuroleptics leaves the client dependent on the therapist coming up with the answers, which actually is, what I see happen all over the place. - A Norwegian blog-neighbour of mine once was told by her therapist: "You know, the problem with you is that you resist being formed." Of course, my Norwegian blog-neighbour did the only reasonable thing, and ended the relationship with this "therapist". - Very convenient for society. But it won't do for the client, as it doesn't provide anything but, at best, just another false ego-identification.

So, in fact I embraced my "symptoms", because I knew, they were showing me the way out of my suffering.

I understand, that not everybody at any time has the opportunity to do as I did. The circumstances were without doubt in my favor. I had the space around me, that allowed me to "freak out" whenever I needed to, and I had someone, who supported me (almost) unconditionally. Most people unfortunately don't have that today. But that does far from mean, that they shouldn't have it. If I say, drugs are okay to use, I indirectly approve of the current paradigm of "care". I can't do that.

Basically, what I would like people to realize is that it doesn't matter what kind of label, how "serious" the problem, drugs simply aren't the answer, other than as a very short-term emergency solution, and never against the will of the person in crisis. I'd like to see the very common misconception eradicated, that there would be people, whose suffering is too severe to be met other than by (massive and long-term) drugging. There aren't. Everybody has the potential to recover, and no one should ever be prevented from it. Actually, it is often those, who suffer the most, and who seem to be "lost cases", who make the most remarkable recoveries. Given they get the right support. Because their extreme suffering also means an extreme incentive to change, and extremely clear signposts on the way to change. This is, what I reacted the most to in your initial post. That some people would need to be drugged. They don't. This, and the idea that all someone would be able to achieve, was learning to live with a chronic illness. It is not a chronic illness.

Compared to what is perceived as "normal" - and "normal" does not equal to "natural", "normal", in contrast to "natural", is a cultural construct - I certainly have "issues", still today. I'm still sensitive to noise, "noisy" visual perceptions, I still hear voices, I haven't abandoned but re-interpreted my "delusions". Does that make me an ill person? I don't think so. I think, it actually makes me more natural, so to speak, than I would be if I were perfectly adjusted to our normality. To me it's a strength, not an illness. Although it also is a lot more challenging to live in our "normal" and increasingly alienated from (human) nature world, and be naturally sensitive, than I imagine it to be for someone, who's sufficiently alienated from their own human nature and nature in general to be regarded well-adjusted to society, I wouldn't want to trade off that sensitivity for any amount of well-adjustment. I wouldn't want to trade off my true self, my true nature, for just another false ego-identification, that inevitably would lead to crisis again and again. In the end, if people think, I'm "weird" because I hug a tree, or have conversations with garden spiders, that's their problem, not mine.

I do understand and respect people who choose long-term medication when indeed they don't have a choice. That people aren't given a choice, is what I can't and won't condone.