Posts

Critical & Alternative Perspectives

Critical & Alternative Perspectives

On The Web

The Campaign to Abolish the Schizophrenia Labelwww.caslcampaign.com
CASL is calling for the label of schizophrenia to be abolished on the grounds that it is outdated, unscientific, stigmatising and presents a barrier to effective and appropriate support to individuals diagnosed with the label.

Coming off Psychiatric Medicationwww.comingoff.com
Information about coming off psychiatric medication.

The Critical Psychiatry Networkwww.critpsynet.freeuk.com
The Critical Psychiatry Network provides a network to develop a critique of the contemporary psychiatric system.

The Freedom Centrewww.freedom-center.org
An American-based support and activism community for anyone experiencing mental health difficulties. Includes event lists, links and advice around medication.

The Icarus Projecthttp://theicarusproject.net
Support network started in the U.S. for people ‘navigating the space between brilliance and madness’

The International Critical Psychiatry Networkwww.criticalpsychiatry.net
Created by medical doctors as a forum (primarily for medical doctors) to discuss, critique, and publicise opinions, practices, literature, and events that support critical thinking and alternative approaches to psychiatry.

International Network Toward Alternatives and Recoveryhttp://intar.org/
Gathers prominent survivors, professionals, family members, and advocates from around the world to work together for new clinical and social practices towards emotional distress and what is often labeled as psychosis.

Peter Lehmann Publishingwww.peter-lehmann-publishing.com
Publishes excellent books available in English on alternative approaches to mental health problems.

Mad Chickswww.mad-chicks.org.uk
A new movement, which focuses on issues specific to women mental health service users, using creativity to achieve our aims and attract attention to our causes. Site contains info, creativity etc.

Mad Pride www.ctono.freeserve.co.uk
The all new website of this energetic mental health surivivors organisation. Includes details of future gigs & events, the origins of Mad Pride and their ‘Stop The Suicides’ campaign

MindFreedom Internationalwww.mindfreedom.org

MindFreedom International unites 100 grassroots groups and thousands of members to win campaigns for human rights of people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities.

National Service User Networkwww.nsun.org.uk
Aims to create a network which will engage and support the wide diversity of mental health service users and survivors across England in order to strengthen the user voice.

No Free Lunchwww.nofreelunch-uk.org
This is the UK branch of an organisation that seeks to promote the distancing of health professionals from the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.

PCCS Bookswww.pccs-books.co.uk
Publisher of counselling and psychotherapy books and journals. Committed to reflexive, radical and critical contemporary psychology theory and practice

Soteria Networkwww.soterianetwork.org.uk
Soteria is a network of people in the UK promoting the development of drug-free and minimum medication therapeutic environments for people experiencing ‘psychosis’ or extreme states.

The Spiritual Crisis Networkwww.spiritualcrisisnetwork.org.uk
A UK based network set up to improve access to approaches that view psychosis as a spiritual crisis or spiritual emergence ideas.

Working to Recoverywww.workingtorecovery.co.uk
A site run by mental health trainers Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor emphasising recovery-orientated approaches to mental health care. Includes information about training events, useful links and an online bookshop.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatryhttp://wnusp.rafus.dk/
WNUSP is an international organization of users and survivors of psychiatry.

In Print

Asylum Magazinewww.asylumonline.net/subscribe.htm
Asylum magazine is a forum for free debate, open to anyone with an interest in psychiatry or mental health. We especially welcome contributions from service users or ex-users (or survivors), carers, and frontline psychiatric or mental health workers (anonymously, if you wish). The magazine is not-for-profit and run by a collective of unpaid volunteers.

Appignanesi, L. (2008) Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present. Virago Press.

Barker, P. Campbell, P. Davidson, B. (1999). From the Ashes of Experience. Whurr Publishers.

Bentall, R. (ed.) (1990). Reconstructing Schizophrenia. Hove: Routledge.

Bentall, R. (2003). Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature. London: Penguin.

Bentall, R. (2009). Doctoring The Mind: Why Psychiatric Treatments Fail. London: Penguin.

Boyle, M. (1990). Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? London, Routledge.

Bracken, P. and Thomas, P. (2005). Postpsychiatry: Mental Health in a Postmodern World. Oxford: Open University Press.

Breggin, P. (1991) Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock and Biochemical Theories of the New Psychiatry. Flamingo; (Reissue) edition (2010)

Breggin, P. (2008). Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry. New York: Springer.

Chesler, P. (1972). Women and Madness. New York: Avon.

Cohen, C. and Timimi, S. (2008). Liberatory Psychiatry: Philosophy, Politics and Mental Health. Cambridge University Press.

Coleman, R. (2004). Recovery: An Alien Concept (2nd Edition). Fife: P&P Press Ltd.

Frame, J. (2008). An Angel At My Table. Sydney: Vintage.

Foucault, M. (1965). Madness and Civilization. New York: Vintage.

Greenberg, J. (1964). I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Grof, S. (1985). Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. State University of New York Press.

Grof, S. (1988). The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. State University of New York Press.

Hammersley, P., Langshaw, B., Bullimore, P., Dillon, J., Romme, M. and Escher, S. (2008). Schizophrenia at the tipping point. Mental Health Practice, 12(1), 14 – 19.

Hornstein, G.A. To Redeem One Person Is To Redeem The World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichman. Free Press.

Hornstein, G.A. (2009). Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness. Rodale Press.

Johnson, B. (2005). Emotional Health. Trust Consent Publishing.

Johnson, B. (2005). Unsafe at Any Dose. Trust Consent Publishing.

Johnstone, L. (2000). Users and Abusers of Psychiatry. Hove: Routledge.

Joseph, J. (2003). The Gene Illusion. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

Joseph, J. (2006). The Missing Gene: Psychiatry, Heredity, And the Fruitless Search for Genes. New York: Algora.

Laing, R. (1959). The Divided Self. London: Tavistock.

Laing, R. and Esterson, A. (1964). Sanity, Madness and the Family. London: Penguin.

Laing, R. (1967). The Politics of Experience. London: Penguin.

Millett, K. (1990). The Loony-bin Trip. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Moncrieff, J. (2009). The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mosher, L. et al. (2004) Soteria: Through Madness to Deliverance. Philadelphia: Xlibris.

Newnes, C. et al. (eds) (1999). This is Madness. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

Newnes, C. et al. (eds) (2001). This is Madness Too. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

Nightsky, O. (1999). The Bridge Between Two Worlds. A Shaman’s View of Schizophrenia and Acute Sensitivity. Keepwell (NZ) Ltd.

Rapley, M. Moncrieff, J. Dillon, J. (2011). Demedicalising Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Human Condition. Palgrave Macmillan.

Read, J. and Reynolds, J. (1996). Speaking Our Minds: An Anthology. Palgrave Macmillan.

Read, J. (2009). Psychiatric drugs: Key Issues and Service User Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan.

Read, J. Bentall, R. and Mosher, L. (2004). Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia. Routledge; New edition.

Smith, K. and Sweeney, M. (1997). Beyond Bedlam. Anvil Press Poetry.

Stastny, P. and Lehmann, P. (Eds). (2007). Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry. Shrewsbury (UK): Lehmann Publications.

Szasz, T. (1988). Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry. Syracuse University Press.

Thomas, P. (1997). The Dialectics of Schizophrenia. New York: Free Association Press.

Tart, C.T. (1969). Altered States of Consciousness. HarperCollins.

Ussher, J. (1991). Women’s Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness? University of Massachusetts Press.

Watters, E. (2010). Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. Free Press: Simon & Schuster.

Whitaker. R. (2002). Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.

Whitaker, R. (2010) Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Crown Publishing Group (NY).

A highly skilled, empathic teacher

I have employed Jacqui Dillon on a number of occasions, both as a trainer of mental health-care workers, and as a workshop facilitator with professional and service-user participation.

Jacqui is a highly skilled, empathic teacher who through her work and experience is an inspiration and motivator to all, promoting innovation and much-needed change in the way we approach psychiatry today.

Trevor Eyles
Developmental Consultant, Social Psychiatric Services
Aarhus Kommune, Denmark

Challenging and inspiring

We have used Jacqui on our undergraduate and master’s Social Work courses for the last few years as well as on our AMHP training courses. Jacqui presents an articulate and powerful view of mental illness which is both challenging and inspiring to our students and staff. Feedback from students is overwhelmingly positive, many stating it is the highlight of their course, and that Jacqui’s message is one that will stay with them for life. I personally feel that anyone with any contact with mental health issues should attend Jacqui’s training, and that if more people accepted her views, the lives of people diagnosed with mental illness could be vastly improved.

Robert Goemans, Professional Social Work Lead, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust & Lecturer, University of Lincoln.

Consultancy

I can offer my unique perspective of working with and making sense of profound distress and extreme states of mind and the impact it has on individuals, teams and organizations. I also have extensive experience in working collaboratively, creatively and in partnership with disempowered and disenfranchised individuals and groups to bring about sustained and lasting improved positive outcomes.  I have provided coaching and mentoring, supervision and consultancy to individuals, teams and organisations.

Case Study:

I recently worked as a consultant for a large provider of services to people who are homeless. I was asked to facilitate a process which focused specifically on the experience of female service users many of whom were defined as having complex needs e.g. survivors of childhood abuse and neglect, currently homeless, using drugs i.e. crack cocaine, sex working, issues with self-harm, eating disorders, mental health issues and were also dealing with the effects of the ensuing loss of their families.

My initial remit was to facilitate a day that aimed to critically evaluate how the organisation could effectively improve services for women. The day was attended by service users, front line workers, area managers and senior managers. Drawing on the collective experience and expertise of both staff and service users attending the workshop, the session explored:

  • Whether women presented more complex support issues than their male counterparts?
  • What were the key elements of successful support services for women?
  • How could we best ensure consistency across various projects?
  • What were the essential skills and knowledge required by staff teams?

The information which was shared and documented during this day helped to inform the development of an implementation group for the organisations women’s strategy, and established clear targets which had been shaped and defined by women’s experiences of using the service and staff experiences of delivering the service.

I then facilitated a 2nd complimentary session with staff from a number of different projects and departments within the organisation to capture learning to date and plan the future work-streams: specifically looking at staff training, service structure and equalities issues.

As a consequence there are new, specific learning opportunities for staff, alongside a developing coherence of service delivery to women who have experienced trauma, abuse and sexual exploitation.

This consultation work continues and will inform the future structure, planning and efficacy of services.

Recovery From ‘Psychosis’

In making sense of what has been deemed as ‘psychosis’ it is essential that we see so called symptoms as profoundly meaningful attempts to survive overwhelming and distressing life experiences.  There is inherent meaning in madness which is inextricably bound up in unresolved, traumatic experiences. These meanings may be communicated in a number of highly symbolic, metaphorical and literal ways and need to be untangled, teased out and examined within the context of the person’s life history. Each voice is an echo of the person’s experience so an attitude of curiosity, understanding and compassion towards all voices is the best stance as it will encourage and support internal communication and ultimately, self acceptance.

This work demands seeing the world and human experience in new ways including an understanding that reality is shaped by experience. This, combined with a willingness to view life through the lens of the person’s subjective experience enables the co-creation of a shared meaning to emerge, deepening mutual understanding and leading to increasing acceptance of self and other.  To support and nurture healing from ‘psychosis’, faith in the possibility of recovery is vital.

Schizophrenia at the Tipping Point

It is time for change, argue Paul Hammersley and colleagues. Now is the moment to abandon conceptions of schizophrenia that are outdated and which do nothing to help people burdened with a diagnosis.

Bad Science

The CASL campaign is driven by two central factors:

  • The concept of schizophrenia is unscientific and has outlived any usefulness it may once have claimed.
  • The label schizophrenia is extremely damaging to those to whom it is applied.

 The idea that schizophrenia can be viewed as a specific, genetically determined, biologically driven brain disease has been based on bad science and social control since its inception. English scientists have proven that the concept of schizophrenia is invalid. Indeed, few scientists represent themselves as happy with the illness model, and increasingly it is only seen to serve the interests of the pharmaceutical industry’s voracious appetite for control of human experience. It is also harmful because the diagnostic process makes it impossible to make sense of the problems that lie at the root of people’s distress. The scandal is that in the 21st century intelligent human beings are deemed to be ‘lacking insight’ for questioning a label proven to lack scientific validity.

Survival Techniques

Being proud of my experiences and being able to share them with others, challenges the stigma of having what are considered to be mental health problems, and means becoming a part of a collective voice to improve mental health services for all. This is both empowering and liberating, in itself.

Pages

Critical & Alternative Perspectives

Critical & Alternative Perspectives

On The Web

The Campaign to Abolish the Schizophrenia Labelwww.caslcampaign.com
CASL is calling for the label of schizophrenia to be abolished on the grounds that it is outdated, unscientific, stigmatising and presents a barrier to effective and appropriate support to individuals diagnosed with the label.

Coming off Psychiatric Medicationwww.comingoff.com
Information about coming off psychiatric medication.

The Critical Psychiatry Networkwww.critpsynet.freeuk.com
The Critical Psychiatry Network provides a network to develop a critique of the contemporary psychiatric system.

The Freedom Centrewww.freedom-center.org
An American-based support and activism community for anyone experiencing mental health difficulties. Includes event lists, links and advice around medication.

The Icarus Projecthttp://theicarusproject.net
Support network started in the U.S. for people ‘navigating the space between brilliance and madness’

The International Critical Psychiatry Networkwww.criticalpsychiatry.net
Created by medical doctors as a forum (primarily for medical doctors) to discuss, critique, and publicise opinions, practices, literature, and events that support critical thinking and alternative approaches to psychiatry.

International Network Toward Alternatives and Recoveryhttp://intar.org/
Gathers prominent survivors, professionals, family members, and advocates from around the world to work together for new clinical and social practices towards emotional distress and what is often labeled as psychosis.

Peter Lehmann Publishingwww.peter-lehmann-publishing.com
Publishes excellent books available in English on alternative approaches to mental health problems.

Mad Chickswww.mad-chicks.org.uk
A new movement, which focuses on issues specific to women mental health service users, using creativity to achieve our aims and attract attention to our causes. Site contains info, creativity etc.

Mad Pride www.ctono.freeserve.co.uk
The all new website of this energetic mental health surivivors organisation. Includes details of future gigs & events, the origins of Mad Pride and their ‘Stop The Suicides’ campaign

MindFreedom Internationalwww.mindfreedom.org

MindFreedom International unites 100 grassroots groups and thousands of members to win campaigns for human rights of people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities.

National Service User Networkwww.nsun.org.uk
Aims to create a network which will engage and support the wide diversity of mental health service users and survivors across England in order to strengthen the user voice.

No Free Lunchwww.nofreelunch-uk.org
This is the UK branch of an organisation that seeks to promote the distancing of health professionals from the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.

PCCS Bookswww.pccs-books.co.uk
Publisher of counselling and psychotherapy books and journals. Committed to reflexive, radical and critical contemporary psychology theory and practice

Soteria Networkwww.soterianetwork.org.uk
Soteria is a network of people in the UK promoting the development of drug-free and minimum medication therapeutic environments for people experiencing ‘psychosis’ or extreme states.

The Spiritual Crisis Networkwww.spiritualcrisisnetwork.org.uk
A UK based network set up to improve access to approaches that view psychosis as a spiritual crisis or spiritual emergence ideas.

Working to Recoverywww.workingtorecovery.co.uk
A site run by mental health trainers Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor emphasising recovery-orientated approaches to mental health care. Includes information about training events, useful links and an online bookshop.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatryhttp://wnusp.rafus.dk/
WNUSP is an international organization of users and survivors of psychiatry.

In Print

Asylum Magazinewww.asylumonline.net/subscribe.htm
Asylum magazine is a forum for free debate, open to anyone with an interest in psychiatry or mental health. We especially welcome contributions from service users or ex-users (or survivors), carers, and frontline psychiatric or mental health workers (anonymously, if you wish). The magazine is not-for-profit and run by a collective of unpaid volunteers.

Appignanesi, L. (2008) Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present. Virago Press.

Barker, P. Campbell, P. Davidson, B. (1999). From the Ashes of Experience. Whurr Publishers.

Bentall, R. (ed.) (1990). Reconstructing Schizophrenia. Hove: Routledge.

Bentall, R. (2003). Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature. London: Penguin.

Bentall, R. (2009). Doctoring The Mind: Why Psychiatric Treatments Fail. London: Penguin.

Boyle, M. (1990). Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? London, Routledge.

Bracken, P. and Thomas, P. (2005). Postpsychiatry: Mental Health in a Postmodern World. Oxford: Open University Press.

Breggin, P. (1991) Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock and Biochemical Theories of the New Psychiatry. Flamingo; (Reissue) edition (2010)

Breggin, P. (2008). Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry. New York: Springer.

Chesler, P. (1972). Women and Madness. New York: Avon.

Cohen, C. and Timimi, S. (2008). Liberatory Psychiatry: Philosophy, Politics and Mental Health. Cambridge University Press.

Coleman, R. (2004). Recovery: An Alien Concept (2nd Edition). Fife: P&P Press Ltd.

Frame, J. (2008). An Angel At My Table. Sydney: Vintage.

Foucault, M. (1965). Madness and Civilization. New York: Vintage.

Greenberg, J. (1964). I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Grof, S. (1985). Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. State University of New York Press.

Grof, S. (1988). The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. State University of New York Press.

Hammersley, P., Langshaw, B., Bullimore, P., Dillon, J., Romme, M. and Escher, S. (2008). Schizophrenia at the tipping point. Mental Health Practice, 12(1), 14 – 19.

Hornstein, G.A. To Redeem One Person Is To Redeem The World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichman. Free Press.

Hornstein, G.A. (2009). Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness. Rodale Press.

Johnson, B. (2005). Emotional Health. Trust Consent Publishing.

Johnson, B. (2005). Unsafe at Any Dose. Trust Consent Publishing.

Johnstone, L. (2000). Users and Abusers of Psychiatry. Hove: Routledge.

Joseph, J. (2003). The Gene Illusion. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

Joseph, J. (2006). The Missing Gene: Psychiatry, Heredity, And the Fruitless Search for Genes. New York: Algora.

Laing, R. (1959). The Divided Self. London: Tavistock.

Laing, R. and Esterson, A. (1964). Sanity, Madness and the Family. London: Penguin.

Laing, R. (1967). The Politics of Experience. London: Penguin.

Millett, K. (1990). The Loony-bin Trip. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Moncrieff, J. (2009). The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mosher, L. et al. (2004) Soteria: Through Madness to Deliverance. Philadelphia: Xlibris.

Newnes, C. et al. (eds) (1999). This is Madness. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

Newnes, C. et al. (eds) (2001). This is Madness Too. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

Nightsky, O. (1999). The Bridge Between Two Worlds. A Shaman’s View of Schizophrenia and Acute Sensitivity. Keepwell (NZ) Ltd.

Rapley, M. Moncrieff, J. Dillon, J. (2011). Demedicalising Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Human Condition. Palgrave Macmillan.

Read, J. and Reynolds, J. (1996). Speaking Our Minds: An Anthology. Palgrave Macmillan.

Read, J. (2009). Psychiatric drugs: Key Issues and Service User Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan.

Read, J. Bentall, R. and Mosher, L. (2004). Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia. Routledge; New edition.

Smith, K. and Sweeney, M. (1997). Beyond Bedlam. Anvil Press Poetry.

Stastny, P. and Lehmann, P. (Eds). (2007). Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry. Shrewsbury (UK): Lehmann Publications.

Szasz, T. (1988). Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry. Syracuse University Press.

Thomas, P. (1997). The Dialectics of Schizophrenia. New York: Free Association Press.

Tart, C.T. (1969). Altered States of Consciousness. HarperCollins.

Ussher, J. (1991). Women’s Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness? University of Massachusetts Press.

Watters, E. (2010). Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. Free Press: Simon & Schuster.

Whitaker. R. (2002). Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.

Whitaker, R. (2010) Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Crown Publishing Group (NY).

A highly skilled, empathic teacher

I have employed Jacqui Dillon on a number of occasions, both as a trainer of mental health-care workers, and as a workshop facilitator with professional and service-user participation.

Jacqui is a highly skilled, empathic teacher who through her work and experience is an inspiration and motivator to all, promoting innovation and much-needed change in the way we approach psychiatry today.

Trevor Eyles
Developmental Consultant, Social Psychiatric Services
Aarhus Kommune, Denmark

Challenging and inspiring

We have used Jacqui on our undergraduate and master’s Social Work courses for the last few years as well as on our AMHP training courses. Jacqui presents an articulate and powerful view of mental illness which is both challenging and inspiring to our students and staff. Feedback from students is overwhelmingly positive, many stating it is the highlight of their course, and that Jacqui’s message is one that will stay with them for life. I personally feel that anyone with any contact with mental health issues should attend Jacqui’s training, and that if more people accepted her views, the lives of people diagnosed with mental illness could be vastly improved.

Robert Goemans, Professional Social Work Lead, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust & Lecturer, University of Lincoln.

Consultancy

I can offer my unique perspective of working with and making sense of profound distress and extreme states of mind and the impact it has on individuals, teams and organizations. I also have extensive experience in working collaboratively, creatively and in partnership with disempowered and disenfranchised individuals and groups to bring about sustained and lasting improved positive outcomes.  I have provided coaching and mentoring, supervision and consultancy to individuals, teams and organisations.

Case Study:

I recently worked as a consultant for a large provider of services to people who are homeless. I was asked to facilitate a process which focused specifically on the experience of female service users many of whom were defined as having complex needs e.g. survivors of childhood abuse and neglect, currently homeless, using drugs i.e. crack cocaine, sex working, issues with self-harm, eating disorders, mental health issues and were also dealing with the effects of the ensuing loss of their families.

My initial remit was to facilitate a day that aimed to critically evaluate how the organisation could effectively improve services for women. The day was attended by service users, front line workers, area managers and senior managers. Drawing on the collective experience and expertise of both staff and service users attending the workshop, the session explored:

  • Whether women presented more complex support issues than their male counterparts?
  • What were the key elements of successful support services for women?
  • How could we best ensure consistency across various projects?
  • What were the essential skills and knowledge required by staff teams?

The information which was shared and documented during this day helped to inform the development of an implementation group for the organisations women’s strategy, and established clear targets which had been shaped and defined by women’s experiences of using the service and staff experiences of delivering the service.

I then facilitated a 2nd complimentary session with staff from a number of different projects and departments within the organisation to capture learning to date and plan the future work-streams: specifically looking at staff training, service structure and equalities issues.

As a consequence there are new, specific learning opportunities for staff, alongside a developing coherence of service delivery to women who have experienced trauma, abuse and sexual exploitation.

This consultation work continues and will inform the future structure, planning and efficacy of services.

Recovery From ‘Psychosis’

In making sense of what has been deemed as ‘psychosis’ it is essential that we see so called symptoms as profoundly meaningful attempts to survive overwhelming and distressing life experiences.  There is inherent meaning in madness which is inextricably bound up in unresolved, traumatic experiences. These meanings may be communicated in a number of highly symbolic, metaphorical and literal ways and need to be untangled, teased out and examined within the context of the person’s life history. Each voice is an echo of the person’s experience so an attitude of curiosity, understanding and compassion towards all voices is the best stance as it will encourage and support internal communication and ultimately, self acceptance.

This work demands seeing the world and human experience in new ways including an understanding that reality is shaped by experience. This, combined with a willingness to view life through the lens of the person’s subjective experience enables the co-creation of a shared meaning to emerge, deepening mutual understanding and leading to increasing acceptance of self and other.  To support and nurture healing from ‘psychosis’, faith in the possibility of recovery is vital.

Schizophrenia at the Tipping Point

It is time for change, argue Paul Hammersley and colleagues. Now is the moment to abandon conceptions of schizophrenia that are outdated and which do nothing to help people burdened with a diagnosis.

Bad Science

The CASL campaign is driven by two central factors:

  • The concept of schizophrenia is unscientific and has outlived any usefulness it may once have claimed.
  • The label schizophrenia is extremely damaging to those to whom it is applied.

 The idea that schizophrenia can be viewed as a specific, genetically determined, biologically driven brain disease has been based on bad science and social control since its inception. English scientists have proven that the concept of schizophrenia is invalid. Indeed, few scientists represent themselves as happy with the illness model, and increasingly it is only seen to serve the interests of the pharmaceutical industry’s voracious appetite for control of human experience. It is also harmful because the diagnostic process makes it impossible to make sense of the problems that lie at the root of people’s distress. The scandal is that in the 21st century intelligent human beings are deemed to be ‘lacking insight’ for questioning a label proven to lack scientific validity.

Survival Techniques

Being proud of my experiences and being able to share them with others, challenges the stigma of having what are considered to be mental health problems, and means becoming a part of a collective voice to improve mental health services for all. This is both empowering and liberating, in itself.