Robert Whitaker is a medical journalist who used to write articles about the brain chemical imbalance theory, believing it to be true. When the World Health Organisation claimed that living in a developed country was a strong predictor of a poor outcome for those diagnosed with schizophrenia he wanted to know why. Why, if you’re diagnosed with schizophrenia, are you… Read more →
In 2009 Katie Mottram took an overdose. She hated herself and felt like she had ruined her life and she had no choice but to die. Her mother had been through the psychiatric system and had also tried to kill herself. The effect on Katie, as a child, was profound. This is where her depression stemmed from. Despairing and suicidal,… Read more →
When she was 20 years old, Catherine G Lucas ended up in a psychiatric hospital. She had the wisdom to work with a therapist and found that within her experiences lay an opportunity for healing. Gradually, with the help of her therapist, she learned how to take better care of herself. Catherine went on to found the Spiritual Crisis Network,… Read more →
When Sascha Altman Du Brul was eighteen years old he was locked up in a psychiatric ward for two and a half months. He was told he had a biological brain disease that he would have for the rest of his life and there was little hope for him. But Sascha stepped outside of this view and looked into the… Read more →
Dr.Eleanor Longden started hearing voices when she was a student. At first they were harmless and narrated whatever she did. But they became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, and made her life a nightmare. She was hospitalised, drugged and labelled schizophrenic. Eleanor went on to earn a master’s in psychology and demonstrate that the voices in her head were “a sane… Read more →
It wasn’t until she read Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic that she began to seriously reconsider her options. Since September 2010, she has been free from psychiatric labels and psychotropic drugs, and now believes that the human experience should never be pathologised. Read more →
Peer Supported Open Dialogue is revolutionising the way people are treated in the mental health services. It developed in Finland after their mental health system collapsed. Finland had had the worst statistics in Europe for schizophrenia. Now it has the best.
A group of family therapists got together and asked, how can we do it better? Open Dialogue is the answer. It is based on a totally different model to the current one which adopts the brain chemical imbalance theory. It brings together the social network of the person at the centre of concern (the patient) and encourages all those voices to be heard. It taps into the power of the social network, so that it takes an active part in the healing of the family member. It sees mental health problems as a symptom of the social network breaking down and so it aims to repair them. It is a social model that believes in the power of the individual within the collective to heal.
It is being introduced by Dr Russell Razzaque author of the radical book Breaking Down Is Waking Up. And Green Lane Films (my production company) has been asked to film it. My personal and professional life have finally joined and had children! And this video is the offspring.
Melinda Messenger features in this clip that I shot at the Open Dialogue Conference in London earlier this year. Melinda is doing a Transpersonal Psychotherapy training and is the Patron of the UK Spiritual Crisis Network.
If you want to know more about Peer Supported Open Dialogue sign up to the POD Bulletin.
Here’s an extract taken from the last episode, when I’ve just come out of hospital:
“It’s so good to be home where I can potter around, make healthy meals and listen to the radio. I have it on as a soundtrack to my cooking. Like the classic Morecambe and Wise breakfast sketch where they dance to the striptease tune, I move around to the music. Taking a side step and sliding my other foot, Tango like, to join my first, before opening the cupboard door. Reaching for a pan and twisting to the hob and placing it deliberately on the beat. My every move is a dance, connected through the fabric of space, to the rhythm of the Universe. Even when the radio is switched off, I still feel the pulsing of life taking me as its partner.”
I met Norwegian Performance Poet, Artist and Love Activist Åsmund Seip at a poetry evening in Totnes. I was impressed with how he came to write his book of poetry: He wrote one poem every day for 10 days—a practice of honesty and vulnerability. 10 days became 100 days, which eventually became the book 100 Days of Love.
My ears pricked up when I first heard the line ‘I just want to be Normal!’ I’ve thought the very same thing. Towards the end of each episode, I just want the whole ride to end and feel normal again. I want to get back to work making films and going to the cinema and hanging out in cafes. Each episode lasts up to four weeks, and during that time I have to keep away from the crazy fast paced world of modern human industrial life. I’m best communing with the awesome power of trees and animals.
At the end of the poetry reading, Åsmund gifted each of us in the audience with his newly published book. This inspired me to make him a film for him. I hope you enjoy it!