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 recoverynet.ca 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!
The “abstract” description for my talk is below.
What do we mean by “Expert by Experience” and how might we get there?
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.
- Dora Garcia I SEE WORDS, I HEAR VOICES The Powerplant Contemporary Art Gallery Fall 2015. Retrieved from http://www.thepowerplant.org/Exhibitions/2015/Fall-2015/I-SEE-WORDS,-I-HEAR-VOICES.aspx
- Hauch, V. (2014, Mar. 31) Hearing voices need not mean you’re crazy, says activist. Toronto Star, http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/03/31/hearing_voices_need_not_mean_youre_crazy_says_activist.html
- Hearing Voices Training – Workshop #1 – Accepting Voices – Feb.2016 recovery network: Toronto. (2015, Dec. 27). Retrieved from https://recoverynet.ca/2015/12/27/hearing-voices-worker-training-1-accepting-voices-fri-26- feb-2016/ ISPS-US 15th
- Leung W, (2015, July 12) How hearing voices, long assumed a sign of mental illness, can be a part of the human experience; The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-andfitness/health/voices-in-your-head-not-necessarily-sign-of-serious-mental-illness/article25414537
- Leung, W. (2015, Sep 22) What it’s like … to hear voices. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/what-its-liketo-hear-voices/article26469647/
- Living with my voices, interview with Kevin Healey, The Trauma And Mental Health Report, York University. (Sep 2014). Retrieved from http://trauma.blog.yorku.ca/2014/09/living-with-my-voices-interview-with-kevinhealey/
- Saturday Encounters: Sharing a diversity of experience, perception and language.. Retrieved from http://www.thepowerplant.org/Programs—Events/Programs/Other-Programs/Saturday-Encounters–Sharing-adiversity-of-experi.aspx Stevenson, V. (2016, March 11).
- Toronto cafe hosts monthly meeting on hearing voices. Toronto Star [Toronto]. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/03/11/toronto-cafe-hosts-monthly-meeting-on-hearingvoices.html
- Working With Voices. Workshop#2. Two Day Workshop with Healey K , Umbongo D. Retrieved from https://recoverynet.ca/2016/01/07/workshop-2-working-with-voices-mar-2016/
- Workshop with Kevin Healey; The Powerplant Contemporary Art Gallery. Nov 2015. Retrieved from http://thepowerplant.org/ProgramsEvents/Programs/Other-Programs/Workshop–Words-Seen,-VoicesSpoken.aspx