I’m feeling elated after an amazing evening at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The event, sponsored by Mount Holyoke College Department of Psychology and Education, the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community, and the Freedom Center was attended by about 150 people - students, academics and people from the local community – some as far away as Boston, Connecticut and Pittsburg. The auditorium was packed with people hungry for an alternative to the pharmaceutically driven, biomedical model which dominates so heavily in America. Many were inspired when they heard Ron Coleman and Paul Baker speak late last year and there is a growing momentum for the development of the Hearing Voices Network in America. Change is happening.
My talk, entitled: “Bad Things That Happen to You Can Drive You Crazy! Understanding Abuse, Trauma, and Madness and Working toward Recovery”,
(see this link for further information: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/news/stories/5682743)
seemed to really resonate with others experiences and many people were clearly questioning the adequacy of a biomedical model to make sense of and respond to human distress.
I began by reading ‘A Tale of An Ordinary Little Girl’ and then spoke about the groundbreaking work of the Hearing Voices Movement, its success in many other parts of the world and our intention to revolutionise the way societies think about hearing voices and other unusual human experiences. I ended by stressing the imperative to take collective responsibility for the ills in our societies, to become aware of the dominant ideologies that redefine reality and to challenge oppression, power, social norms and inequalities. I appealed to everyone to join the last great civil rights movement – fighting for the rights of those labelled as mentally ill.
As always, a number of survivors came up to me afterwards and thanked me for telling ‘their’ story. Lots of people wanted to find out more about how they could get involved in the movement, meet with others, start groups. People are impatient for a paradigm shift in the way we understand and respond to human suffering which is now, long overdue. Many are in anguish. Fortunately, there are already some fantastic Hearing Voices Groups running in the area, with several new groups in development. I left feeling proud, inspired and grateful to be part of such a wonderful, powerful movement for change in the world.
There is still so much work to be done. First, it’s time for a bath and then bed.