From Reductionism to Humanism, ISPS-US, Boston, Oct 28-30th

From Reductionism to Humanism
ISPS-US AGM/ Conference , Boston, 28-30th October 2016isps-us conf



I’m very pleased to be one of the speakers at this conference.

I’ll be talking about some of the themes you may recognise from and others that run through our trainings and workshops as well as some new work we’ve been doing, especially around understanding and healing trauma.

Mostly I’ll be sharing ideas and showing some ways we might remember that in-midst all our theories about what is wrong, what is needed and all the efforts to fix that are urged and thrust upon us,  at the centre of any “mental illness” story is a person- a human being-  in who is in pain and who is struggling to find their place in the world – and that it is they who do the real work, and that everyone of us shapes the landscape in which that takes place.

The conference is called “From Reductionism to Humanism” – and we certainly have a long ways to go in that journey but ISPS  is trying to bring folks together so we can make a start in that. I joined to play a role in that – come join us.

And besides, it’s Boston!

More information and registration here
Full conference program is here………….program
Abstracts for all the talks here……………abstracts
Register online here……………………….register

The “abstract” description for my talk is below.


What do we mean by “Expert by Experience” and how might we get there?
Kevin Healey


What limits our freedom is the stories and myths we tell ourselves and tell each other. We fear experiences our stories tell us that we cannot understand and doubly fear those from which our myths extinguish any hope of return.

Reduction-ism would have us fear ourselves and each other and put our lives in the hands of “experts” and adopt their words for us. That limited map of understanding is embedded throughout society, governs who we are, who we can be, and reduces us to grim, alienated lives. That story says: “life sucks”.

A humanist approach would have us regard whatever we might experience as an adventure from which we can learn, grow and become more resilient and more connected with what it means to be alive. We can endure and find new strengths for future encounters.

What if we don’t “come-back” but instead come-through, different and somehow renewed?

What if we told ourselves and each other that story?

I will introduce a simple framework we might choose to build our own maps of understanding, name our world in our own words. Drawing on different ways of knowing old, new, and renewed, we can regard every experience as one from which we can learn – including those we fear the most. This approach integrates three simple models: one highly original, one as old as the ages and one from systems thinking but with an original twist. Endlessly adaptable, it sets no limits to the different sources and ways of knowing we can plug-in, play with and draw wisdom from to help us make sense of our world and keep adding to our map so it remains as alive as we can be.

At the conclusion of this activity, participants should be able to:

1. Cast aside a diagnostic framework and imposed words to name their experiences using simple, everyday language.

2. Redefine experiences that get called “psychosis” as states of being: intimately connected with reality and also intensely personal, confusing and painful yet having essential qualities in common with their own.

3. Frame experiences – even and especially the most difficult ones we fear most – as something we might learn from to continually renew our map of how we understand the world.

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2 Responses to From Reductionism to Humanism, ISPS-US, Boston, Oct 28-30th

  1. Loreen Lee says:

    Just read your article again. Yes. systems thinking! Did some googling on it. Then I ‘got lost’…. but please know I follow you now, (in more ways than one). Happy conferencing!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loreen Lee says:

    Please – yes yes yes. Hearing voices – may we redefine/translate – simply as ‘thought’ – expressed by someone at the last meeting as either heard or silent. Again, what comes to mind is Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of silence. We are dealing with our own personal, human, (and even perhaps divine) world here!! We are delving into the ‘esoteric’, we could even say, although we may wish to give that word a more down-to-earth- interpretation. 🙂 We could even say – and perhaps the scientists like Sean Carroll, in conjunction with some philosophers who are with the ‘post’, and also a movement in Hinduism, who assert that they are ‘the’ scientific religion!!! – that this ‘thought’ is but one of the trinity which precedes or includes ‘word’ and ‘deed’. How I would love to go to that conference. I believe it would be better, (or at least as good) as any philosophy lecture! The best to you Kevin. Please, keep recommending those articles, et al. (Oh! yes – am learning to enjoy more, the music too! Indeed, I did really come to appreciate Prince!) As your introduction suggests, we can indeed learn to concentrate, and be mindful, of each and every experience. – We can learn to translate, transcribe, and transcend. We can indeed ex-per-ience the hearing of voices as an ‘ex-per- ttttttttt’!


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