By Daniel MacklerIn the far north of Finland, a stone's throw from the Arctic Circle, a group of innovative family therapists converted the area's traditional mental health system, which once boasted some of Europe's poorest outcomes for schizophrenia, into one that now gets the best statistical results in the world for first-break psychosis. They call their approach Open Dialogue. Their principles, though radical in this day and age of multi-drug cocktails and involuntary hospitalizations, are surprisingly simple. They meet clients in crisis immediately and often daily until the crises are resolved. They avoid hospitalization and its consequential stigma, preferring to meet in the homes of those seeking their services. And, perhaps most controversially, they avoid the use of anti-psychotic medication wherever possible. They also work in groups, because they view psychosis as a problem involving relationships. They include in the treatment process the families and social networks of those seeking their help, and their clinicians work in teams, not as isolated, sole practitioners. Additionally, their whole approach values of the voice of everyone in the process, most especially the person directly in crisis. And finally, they provide their services, which operate within the context of Finnish socialized medicine, for free. Open Dialogue weaves together interviews with psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and journalists to create both a powerful vision of medication-free recovery and a hard-hitting critique of traditional psychiatry.
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By Bruce LevinePolls show that the majority of Americans oppose recent US wars and Wall Street bailouts, yet most remain passive and appear resigned to powerlessness. Many Americans have lost confidence that genuine democracy is possible, and Get Up Stand Up explains how major US institutions have created fatalism. When such fatalism and defeatism sets in, truths about economic injustices and lost liberties are not enough to set people free something else is required. For democratic movements to get off the ground, individuals must recover self-respect, and a people must regain collective confidence that they can succeed at eliminating top-down controls. Get Up, Stand Up describes how anti-elitists can unite and recover dignity, confidence, and the energy to wrest power away from the ruling corporate-government partnership (the “corporatocracy”). Get Up, Stand Up details those strategies and tactics that oppressed peoples have successfully employed to gain power. As you read Bruce Levine’s rousing Get Up, Stand Up, inevitably you will be reminded of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which served as a rallying cry for the colonialists to take action against their British rulers. Today, Levine argues, Americans are ruled by a tyrannical “corporatocracy” i.e. government by big business and for big business and his analysis of why the American people remain so passive in the face of such tyranny is smart, lucid, and passionate. Readers will also find, in his proposals for how the “people” today can stand up and “do battle” with the corporatocracy, a stirring call for action that surely needs to be heard.” Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America
By Lauren Spiro
A Daughter's Journey From Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and PeaceThis courageously personal memoir describes Lauren Spiroâ€™s journey from unbearable emotional pain following her fatherâ€™s murder, down into psychosis, through the depths of our dysfunctional mental health system, and finally to a place of transcendent healing and peace where she knows that we are all connected much more deeply than we understand. This book has been a way of sharing meaning found in madness and honoring the vision of a sixteen year old that has lead to her lifeâ€™s work. The Dialogues of Discovery book tour is a testament to the power of dialogue to transform consciousness and an invitation to explore topics touched on in the book, such as; How do you redefine who you are? How do you fill the emptiness in your soul? How do you come to know who you were born to be? How do you find liberation for yourself and others? How do you access and trust your own innate wisdom? Ms Spiro is passionate about developing our capacity for compassion, appreciating the vast intelligence and creativity of the human mind, and co-creating pathways so everyone may come home.
Book ReviewsLauren Spiroâ€™s magical book conjures creativity from tragedy, visions from madness, and leadership from despair. I was especially inspired by her courage to challenge racism in the context of a terrible crime. This heartfelt account of Laurenâ€™s life will inspire everyone to reach higher. ~ Will Hall, host of Madness Radio and author of The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming off Psychiatric Drugs
In this moving, beautifully written memoir, Lauren Spiro tells of unfathomable loss, the madness of a psychiatric system that would diagnose her with â€œchronic schizophreniaâ€ at age 16, and her ultimate recovery from both of those childhood traumas. In her poetry and prose, we see too that wordsâ€”the language that can bring us understanding and compassionâ€”can have a healing power of their own. ~ Robert Whitaker, award-winning author, Anatomy of an Epidemic
In vivid prose and poetry, Lauren Spiro has painted for us a picture of her spiritual journey, a journey that took her from unbearable emotional pain, down into psychosis, through the depths of our dysfunctional mental health system, and finally to a place of transcendent healing and peace. This is a story of hope and love, the story of how a daughter, so devastated by her fatherâ€™s senseless murder, was rescued by his cherished spirit awakening in her adult life. The message is clear: healing of the mind and heart is always possible, love needs to be the guiding star in recovery, and we are all connected, much more deeply than we understand.â€ ~ Dr. Mark Foster, Family Physician
A beautiful story of liberation and growth, Living for Two eloquently expresses the path to forgiveness and offers the reader tools and inspiration to get there. Interspersed with dream-like color paintings and poetry, Laurenâ€™s story blends her personal life history with accounts of the larger movement for mental health liberation. A revealing story that will help other survivors of loss and trauma find hope and possibilities. ~ Cassandra Nudel, Editor, Firewalkers: Madness, Beauty & Mystery
Laurenâ€™s story embodies the strength and resiliency of persons who have experienced trauma. With refreshing insight she graciously shares her journey and the tools and resources that have been the wind beneath her wings. ~ Nikki Migas, MPA, Managing Director, CARF International
Lauren takes us on a journey where culture and cosmology enter different doors of the same house. Living for Two is a love story that celebrates the fragility of humankind and the resiliency of one very brave and wise little girl. ~ Cardum S. Harmon, author, Mandala Project: Transfiguration of Ordinary Souls
Lauren Spiroâ€™s Living for Two provides a compelling account of the struggle to map the unfathomable territories that lie at extremes of human experience. Her recovery and transformation after senseless violence, profound loss, spiritual emergency and extreme mental states exemplify hope, resilience and post-traumatic growth. People in recovery, psychology and social work students, helping professionals, children of violence, and others will find this small volume worthwhile. ~ Priscilla Ridgeway, PhD, co-author, Pathways to Recovery
Lauren invites the reader to accompany her through experiences of devastating personal loss and abuse, and being further harmed by the mental health system. Laurenâ€™s creativity, reflected in her prose, poetry, and painting, evoke insight and empathy in the reader. Living for Two takes its place in the literature of personal challenge and recovery, and the ensuing social activism they engender. ~ Jonathan Finkelstein, PhD Associate Dean, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
A powerful story of a young womanâ€™s experiences with trauma and her courage to reclaim a path of recovery and healing. This memoir should be read by all who work in the mental health field. ~ Kevin Ann Huckshorn PhD, RN, State Director, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Delaware
Laurenâ€™s story is as courageous as it is tender in her exploration of how our deepest losses shape the soul, how fear and misunderstanding can too easily silence it, and how love can give our souls voice again, no matter how long they have been silent. Laurenâ€™s memoir invites us to consider whether there is any wound love cannot heal. A question we must answer with our own lives and hearts. ~ Jennifer Maurer, Managing Director, Mother Bear: Families for Mental Health
Powerfully written, this personal journey from loss and sadness to reclamation and healing is soul-redemptive and emotionally stirring. Thank you Lauren for being real, vulnerable, and sharing your story which will ultimately empower others to share theirs. ~ Amikaeyla, Singer / Songwriter / Executive Director, ICAHSI, The International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute
The current-day mental health system has been shaped around the idea that people who have been given psychiatric labels suffer in a way over which they have no control and that often results in an inability to care for ones self. It is an approach that encourages the idea that professionals need to step in to be the experts and determine someone's human potential. These beliefs have also influenced other aspects of our culture to the point where news, movies, friends and family tend to perpetuate the message that we are chronically sick and need to re-adjust our hopes and dreams. In some instances, people have been told they won't be able to handle living on their own, going to school, working, getting married or having children. Many have been told they need to take medications, even if they leave them numb, and participate in programs that treat them as if they are children. The Virtues of Non-Compliance talks back to all those ideas in the voice of people who have been there, who have been told they can't, and who have gone on to live their lives on their own terms.
Hearing Voices that are Distressing: A Simulated Training Experience and Self-Help StrategiesJust as rehabilitation students gain insight into the experience of physical disability by using wheelchairs, so too can mental health professionals and students experience a simulation of some of the challenges facing people with psychiatric disabilities. Who should attend this training? This training has been developed and piloted for a wide range of people including: inpatient/outpatient psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists; direct care workers in residential, day treatment and psychosocial rehabilitation programs; mental health administrators and policy makers; family members and friends; and academic faculty and students. A modified version of this training emphasizing self help skill building (and no simulation experience) is available for voice hearers who want to learn to control or eliminate distressing voices. Hearing voices that are distressing is a training in which participants use headphones for listening to a specially designed audiotape. During this simulated experience of hearing voices, participants undertake a series of tasks including social interaction in the community, a psychiatric interview, cognitive testing, and an activities group in a mock day treatment program. The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing and discussion period. The workshop also includes:
- A lecture exploring the research and literature on hearing distressing voices
- Presentation of self-help strategies for coping with or eliminating distressing voices
- Practice exercises where participants learn to teach self-help skills to voice hearer
- To empathize more deeply with the challenges voice hearers face
- To reduce the fear and stigma surrounding the voice hearing experience
- To learn to teach self help skills to voice hearers
Call the National Empowerment Center at 1-800-769-3728 for more information
By Katherine Sharpe
A compelling and troubling exploration of a generation raised on antidepressants, and a book that combines expansive interviews with substantive research-based reporting, Coming of Age on Zoloft is a vitally important and immediately engrossing study of one of Americans most pressing and omnipresent issues: our growing reliance on prescription drugs. Katherine Sharpe, the former editor of Seed magazines ScienceBlogs.com, addresses the questions that millions of young men and women are struggling with. Where does my personality end and my prescription begin? Do I have a disease? Can I get better on my own? Combining stout scientific acumen with first-person experience gained through her own struggle with antidepressants, Sharpe leads the reader through a complex subject, a guide towards a clearer future for all.