Hearing Voices : Workshop #1 | Accepting Voices – Jun 2022

What if everything you think you know about hearing voices is wrong?

Or if not wrong, then it at least limits your ability to:

• understanding a person’s struggle with experiences like difficult-to-hear voices and others that get called “psychosis” and dismissed as “not real” ? 

• support them in navigating their struggle and finding ways they might heal.?

Who this workshop is designed for…


If you are in a leadership position and seeking ways to develop capacity at individual, team and organization level to support clients in ways that fully honors:

  • Truly understanding trauma and the many ways it can manifest, and in ways that are fully congruent with other approaches like harm reduction and health promotion.
  • Centering our interconnectedness and shared humanity; and drawing on them as resource and source of power and practical action for bringing change that supports community and healing.


If you work in health or social services, and especially supporting those who have been pushed out to the margins of society, then you likely…

  • Meet many people who live with difficult-to-hear-voices are told what they experience is “not real” and many of those who struggle.
  • Know too how that can leave you feeling uncomfortable, confused, lost, or powerless.

This workshop is designed for you.

Supporters and carers.

If you support a loved one who struggles, then you likely do too: to understand the nature of their pain and ways you might best support them and support healing.

This workshop is for you too and you are welcome to join us.

This workshop will enable you to…

  • Offer yourself as a one-person safe space to those who struggle with painful experiences that get categorised and labelled as ‘psychosis” and dismissed as “not real”.
  • Understand what hearing voices can feels like to those who experience them, those around them.
  • Open options for support other than those rooted in fear and control and – put them into practice in supportive environments that promote connection and healing.
  • Free yourself from downloading thoughts, language, and acts of stigmatization used against those who hear voices that you don’t hear.
  • Join with a community of practice that is informed by the International Hearing Voices Movement and individuals who experience voices.

Workshop #1: Accepting Voices


  • Mon  27thJune ‘22
  • 9:30 to 5:00pm


  • This is a full day workshop
  • We take an hour interval for lunch.


  • We’ll have tea/ coffee etc.
  • Lunch is not provided.


Church of The Holy Trinity
Trinity Square

[Behind Eaton Centre]


  • Worker / Full $200
  • Family Member / Carer $150
  • Concessions From $100


Registration is online now at EVENTBRITE .

More About This Workshop

This introductory and foundational workshop will open doors of new understanding, in non-diagnostic, non-categorizing ways, of a range of human experiences that get called names like “psychosis”and dismissed as “not real”, when at least to the to the person experiencing them, they are very real indeed.

This workshop is designed especially for those who work in health and social services but is open to all who want to learn how they can better support a person who struggles.

Many who find themselves struggling to support loved ones who struggle and find themselves bewildered and frustrated by the help offered by services have also attended and found it useful for them. Indeed, we find it creates a richer experience when we can come together and learn with and from each other.

The world, society, and culture that we have created for ourselves and each other is not fit for humans. Join in co-creating one that is.

What Participants Have Said About This Workshop

“You gave me a whole new way of thinking about voices.”

“I’m not quite sure what I learned but I feel like my whole Universe has been tilted.”

“Eye opening, Stunned”

“Best workshop I ever attended”

“I learned more from one day with you and Dave than in seven years of training to be a psychologist”

Who needs to attend this workshop?

Really, whether you need to attend is your choice, the above is what some who’ve attended said, here’s another.

“Everyone working in mental health. Scratch that: EVERYONE !!!”

This workshop offers a beginning, an introduction to a non-diagnostic, non-medical, human experience perspective understanding of the kinds of experiences – like difficult-to-hear voices- that are often categorised as “psychosis”.

A key part is making connections between pain, trauma psychosis powerlessness and disconnectedness we can experience when we find ourselves feared and discarded by society.

Q. Do you…?

  • Work with people who hear voices and who struggle with their experience of that?
  • Have someone in your life who hears voices and struggles with difficult experiences that get called “psychosis
  • Feel limited in your ability to understand and support them?
  • Feel frustrated at how the story that voices must mean illness limits us – not only the lives of people who hear voices, but all of us?
  • Feel weary of the notion that we must fear ourselves and fear each other?
  • Want to understand connections between adverse events, trauma , injury woundedness, pain and difficult-to-hear voices.
  • Want to minimise the additional trauma generated by how services are typically designed and operated when working to support those who face being rendered powerlessness and disconnected from society?
  • Feel ready to learn more, and find you keep asking yourself “what else can I do?”.
  • Want to know more about how you can be part of creating the future, and join in with enacting a world that understands and is better able to offer real support?

Q. Are Ready to “tilt your universe”?

If so, then this workshop might help you tilt your universe and emancipate yourself with very simple and very human ways to understand and begin to act to support a person who struggles with difficult experiences that get called names like “psychosis”.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who live with experiences that get called names like “psychosis” and that can be difficult to live with and more difficult to talk about.

Note: If you’re looking for a workshop on how to diagnose and categorise your friends, family and colleagues then please know that this workshop really is not that workshop.

Join us in enacting a world that understands voice hearing, supports the needs of people who hear voices and regards them as full citizens.

How this workshop fits with others we offer…

This Workshop is part of a structured and modular approach to learning ways of supporting people who struggle.

As a first step that is designed to offer a basic grounding but also foundation for further, deeper learning and practice in supporting people who struggle with experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called “psychosis”.

Participation in this workshop is step towards to other more advanced and learning opportunities, around Hearing Voices approach (sometimes called Maastricht Approach) to living with and supporting those who live with experiences that, though remarkably common, get dismissed as not real, mystified, made taboo and dismissed as “not real”.

  • Working With VoicesStarting and Sustaining Hearing Voices Groups In Your Community
  • Carnival des Voix [running your own]
  • Working with Maastricht Interview
  • Facilitating Voice Dialogue

What you can expect

This workshop is a whole day and a full one, too.

This unique and innovative workshop offers you a non-diagnostic understanding of the kinds of experience like hearing voices that are that are sometimes called “psychosis”.

We offer you simple, everyday language to show you how you can understand such experiences not as “disconnected from” but intimately connected with reality and in ways that can be overwhelming, painful, frustrating, sometimes terrifying response to the reality we share,

It also offers a framework – we call it “The Wormhole”- a heuristic that you can use to held you be more open to your own experiences draw from that to help you truly empathize and understand how better to support people who might be undergoing such difficult experiences.

You’ll leave feeling more at ease with both yourself and your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle.

Join us in enacting a society that understands voice hearing, supports individuals who hear voices and views them as full citizens…

This workshop will enable you better to …

  • Understand hearing voices [and other experiences] as a normal human experience, that can become problematic when a person is left to struggle without support.
  • Share simple data and stories about just how common it is to hear voices – how it is not in itself a problem and many people do – some cultures regard it as bringing great benefit.
  • Peer through and beyond diagnostic frameworks – resist the urge to catalogue and categorize everything you witness as “symptom” and instead.
  • Take an interest in the person struggling with their experience of voices and other experiences called “psychosis” as a human being having a hard time.
  • Begin to accept even the most difficult of human experiences as something that can be understood, explored and even valued.
  • Look within your own experience and relate with different experiences like hearing voices, visions, unshared beliefs.
  • Explore how you can be at ease in your role and be more real with people who have difficult experiences.
  • Offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle with experiences like hearing voices.
  • Connect yourself with a community of people doing just that.

We believe the hearing voices approach is part of broader human liberatory approaches around the world and is emancipatory for all. As Lilla Watson is credited with put it so wonderfully…

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Workshop design…

This is an intensive workshop covering a lot of ground, together we will :

  • Gain insights from people who hear voices, and from others who work with people who hear voices.
  • Learn how we can think differently about voices and other experiences that are sometimes called “psychosis”.
  • Explore how, as workers, we can accept ourselves and each other, relax and enjoy our work: the better to offer support for people who hear voices.
  • Interact – with deep personal reflection, shared sense-making and dialogue.
  • We will also share some simple, practical approaches that you can use in your practice on return to work.
  • Connect with resources and both local network and the global hearing voices community.
  • This workshop is designed to leave you feeling more competent and confident in your own ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space for people who hear voices.

You will not become an expert in one day but you’ll have a good basis for starting and feeling more comfortable – and more human – as you do.

Please feel free to help us let other people know about this workshop by printing, posting, distributing, however you can with your networks…

About the Presenters, Facilitators, Designers

  • Kevin Healey 

hears more voices than you can shake a stick at, so many that even his voices hear voices, and has done so for longer than either he – or they – care to remember but its over fifty years.

Founder and coordinator of http://www.recoverynet.ca, Toronto Hearing Voices group, Anglophone Canada’s longest running, and of the Hearing Voices Café.

Creates and delivers innovative, taboo-busting talks, trainings and workshops that enable people to find new language, and simpler ways to understand surprisingly common human experiences that we’ve made fearful and taboo, so making life even harder both for those who struggle and also for the rest of us to understand.

Shows how we can make simple sense of trauma, pain, psychosis, taboo, and butt-hurt voices, and how they interweave and interconnect our inner-struggle with living in an outer-world that is fast becoming unfit for humans who built it and in which we keep creating results that nobody wants. After you’ve heard him talk you may join those who say they don’t hear voices but now wish they could.

  • Dave U

For many years Dave would only say only one word, now he authors articles at http://www.recoverynet.ca and moderates online support groups for voices to talk directly with each other round the world, he codesigned this workshop – in fact there’s a lot of Dave in this workshop – if you come you’ll get to meet him/ them.

Enjoys creating memes: out of things voices say, about living in a universe that mostly comprises what he refers to as The Weird, and his own wry observations on the human obsession with calling each other horrible names, categorizing and crushing each other into boxes that don’t fit.

As Dave points out, voices have stories too.

Dave’s favourite pastime is pretending to be a jelly while swearing a lot.

Next second is remarking upon how “voices” and “humans” behave in ways that are often very much the-one-is–like-the-other. Dave doesn’t really have a bio – like other superheroes he has an “Origins Story”, and like “The Truth…”, at least some of it, is already “ Out There…”

  • Mark Roininen

Mark has many years experience as “worker” with a major social services agency, and has worked with many who struggle with the kind of experiences that get called “psychosis”.

He shares his personal perspective of how being confronted with his own dark side enabled him to relate more simply and authentically with difficult experiences of the people he works with, in-process, freeing himself from merely following “the script” and playing “invisible worker” so that he can be both more professional and more human.

His ability to share stories of his own experience of learning how to do this work offers others hope that they can too.


About “Hearing Voices”

Why we choose to use the term hearing voices, what we mean by it…

Hearing voices is intentional, ordinary language descriptive of a range of human experiences that in Western cultures has been mystified and made taboo, and that we have been taught to fear – and yet which are also remarkably common, likely much more common than you think. No everyone uses this language, all kinds of people live with experiences they might call voices, some choose other languages.

Hearing voices does not presuppose neither that a voice can only come from a human body, nor must be heard by more than one person, or more especially must be also heard by someone called a “mental health professional” .

Hearing Voices as Approach also refers to broadly emancipatory ideas and ways of working that accepts such experiences as very real and meaningful- if sometimes difficult to live with, and that seeks to share ways we can learn to live with such difficult experiences and support and connect with each other.

This approach also includes many other similar experiences that can be hard to live with and harder to talk about and make sense of.

When we learn to put aside our fear of both ourselves and each other we generate possibilities, to create new roles, to connect with each other, and to find richer experiences of being human and co-create a world that’s easier to live in for all of us.


For a bigger, clearer printable version of our poster click the link below:

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Foucault: Madness & Civilization by Then & Now

Video essay, an introduction to Michel Foucault’s History of Madness / Madness and Civilization

by Then & Now:
Michel Foucault’s History of Madness (abridged in English as Madness and Civilization) was a revolutionary exploration of how our interpretations and experience of madness have changed over time, and how they’re not quite as ‘rational’ – or even more ‘rational – than they first appear. Everyone who was worked on the history of psychiatry since has worked in Foucault’s shadow. He looked at history not as a history of administration, of records or politics, or what the psychiatrists said happened, but as a question of something was experienced and how what we think of as timeless actually changes over time.

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Lose Yourself To Dance | Daft Punk

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“Mental Illness”: a Zombie Category if ever there was one.  

Mental Illness: the Zombiest of all zombie categories.

Except for all the others, eh?

There are a great many of them, and they do seem to be multiplying, but is there a zombie category [aside from politics, I guess] that is more zombie than our construct of mental illness? Rampant, rampaging brain-eating hoardes of brain-eating, flesh-creeping rapacious non-thinking, non-feeling zombies gobbling-up all human life before it, imposing dead ideas, imposing disproven hypotheses and faketruths, the great mono-myth zombification as primary understanding of human difficulty and yet, whenever and wherever it does so, proves mostly to be about as useful as a chocolate teapot in a heatwave?

Ok, what’s  zombie category?

I give you Ulrich Beck who coined the term…

I think we are living in a society, in a world, where our basic sociological concepts are becoming what I call ‘zombie categories’. Zombie categories are ‘living dead’ categories which govern our thinking but are not really able to capture the contemporary milieu.In this situation I don’t think it’s very helpful only to criticize normal sociology, and to deconstruct it. What we really need is to redefine, reconstruct, restructure our concepts and our view of society.
Ulrich Beck

Welcome to Zombie land, folks.

  • Are you ready?
  • Zombie Nursing
  • Zombie Psychiatry
  • Zombie Institutions of Learning
  • Zombie Skule for Professionals

Paper from Australia on how the institution of Mental Health Nursing has become Zombie Category.
Tara Brabazon Professor of Cultural Studies / Dean of Graduate Research, Flinders University, Office of Graduate Research, Australia

Rise of the zombie institution, the failure of mental health nursing leadership, and mental health nursing as a zombie category.


In this paper, we propose that mental health nursing has become a zombie category, at least in the Australian context. Mental health nursing is a concept that has lost any real explanatory or conceptual power, yet nevertheless persists in public discourse and the collective imagination. In recent decades, powerful forces have contributed to the zombification of the mental health nursing workforce and the academy. An increase in medical hegemony, the ascendancy of allied health in mental health service provision, the need for uncritical and servile workers, protocol-driven work practices, and a failure of leadership to mobilize any substantial resistance to these trends have enabled the infection to spread. The recognition of zombification, active resistance against the forces that conspire to cause it, and the cultivation of genuine conscientious critical thought and debate offer the only hope of survival of mental health nursing as a thriving specialty.



The term ‘zombie’ refers to the idea of the ‘living dead’. Zombies, according to Luckhurst (2015, p. 1), are ‘speechless, gormless, without memory of prior life or attachments, sinking into an indifferent mass and growing exponentially’. In recent years the zombie concept has shuffled from the B-grade movie screen into the realms of serious academic consideration and sociological critique of public institutions (Ryan 2012; Whelan et al. 2013). Ulrich Beck (Beck & Beck-Gersheim 2002) coined the term ‘zombie categories’ to describe concepts that have lost conceptual and explanatory power in the modern globalized world (e.g. class and neighbourhood), but nevertheless persist (stalk the living), despite being dead ideas from another epoch.

This paper begs the reader to consider whether mental health nursing itself has become, or at least is well on the road to becoming, a zombie category. It will be argued that institutions (universities and also healthcare organizations) have directly contributed to the zombification of the mental health nursing workforce.

That is not to say that there are exceptional individuals (academics and clinicians) who embody the self-reflexivity, consciousness, morality, and freedom of will and action, which is the antithesis of the zombie type.

However, as in all classical sociology or consideration of complex social processes, the occasional exception does not disprove the rule (Edles & Appelrouth 2015).

This paper also focusses on the Australian context (which might be illustrative of others), because in one sense the specialty of mental health nursing is actually dead:

(i) university-based, comprehensive nursing preregistration programmes were phased in during the 1980s, replacing specialist preregistration courses (Happell & Gaskin 2013);

(ii) mental health as a specialist field of nursing was removed with the establishment of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme in 2010;

(iii) Mental health has consistently been the least p opular practice
setting for comprehensive graduates (Happell & Gaskin 2013; Stevens et al. 2013);

(iv) A voluntary credentialing scheme through the Australian College of Mental
Health Nursing has failed to deliver significant opportunities to practice outside of the scope of practice of
non-credentialed nurses or be recognized as enabling them to undertake ‘focussed psychological strategies’ (Lakeman et al. 2014); and

(v) Australian is held up as a cautionary example for other nations considering embracing generic mental health pathways (Hemingway et al. 2016). Australian academics have assiduously chronicled the demise of mental health nursing through large numbers of peer-reviewed publications (e.g. Happell & McAllister 2014; Happell et al. 2014; Henderson & Martyr 2013), with little impact on public policy or tangible improvements in the preparation of nurses to work in mental health practice settings or their desire to do so.

Allusions to the death of psychiatric and mental health nursing have been frequent in recent years. Holmes (2006) argued that the process of professional extinction was already well underway, and Hurley and Ramsay (2008) have suggested that mental health nursing was sleepwalking towards oblivion (alluding to the inevitable demise of the specialty in the UK, should they adopt the Australian model). Others have pondered whether ‘mental health’ nursing is an anachronism (Cutcliffe et al. 2013) or an aspirational myth (Barker & Buchanan-Barker 2011) constructed to palliate the anxiety arising from a realistic appraisal of the practice of nurses who work predominantly with people diagnosed with mental illness. Nurses and commentators might talk about mental health nursing and emancipatory concepts, such as recovery, but what nurses actually do is often at odds with the rhetoric (Barker & Buchanan-Barker 2011).

Nurses continue to be employed by state mental health services in Australia (making up approximately 64% of the workforce), but their relative numbers are shrinking (Australian Government., 2013). The number of allied health professionals, such as psychologists, working in state-funded services increased by 120% in
the 10 years to 2011, whereas the nursing workforce contracted by 7%. In Australia in 2015 there were 84.2 nurses per 100 000 population who worked in mentalhealth, and 88 per 100 000 registered psychologists (Australian Government, 2017). This ascendancy of psychologists (particularly in primary care) and erosion
of nursing numbers has been commented on in other countries (Jong & Schout 2016).

In Australia ‘Better Access to Mental Health Care’ is the largest programme that provides subsidised access to ‘focussed psychological strategies’ provided by psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, or general practitioners. Nurses (regardless of experience or qualifications) have been excluded from this scheme, presumably because they are deemed not to have the competence to provide such a service. The one scheme to support mental health nurses in primary care settings, ‘The Mental Health Incentive Programme’ (MHNIP) is an incentive payment paid to practices to employ nurses, and has been frozen for close to a decade (Lakeman et al. 2014). In contrast to ‘Better Access’, in which the practitioner is cast as an autonomous professional, the intent of the MHNIP is for nurses to follow a plan formulated by a medical doctor to treat and monitor people diagnosed as having a mental illness.

Nurses more than any other occupational grouphave played an instrumental role to medicine, often being required to acquiesce to a medical formulation or diagnosis and administer ‘treatments’ prescribed by medicine. The history of psychiatry is replete with failed and often brain damaging treatments (Breggin 1997), and indeed a compelling contemporary critique of psychiatry suggests that diagnostic inflation and overprescription of psychiatric drugs have led to an epidemic of iatrogenic disability (Whitaker 2010).

Throughout history, nurses have been the group that administers (sometimes forcibly) whatever somatic treatment is in vogue; from insulin coma therapy to depot neuroleptics. A workforce that thinks too much about these matters would be ineffectual. To get by, blind faith in medicine and treatments, and obedience, would be more adaptive than critical thinking or resistance (Lakeman 2013).

Historically, nursing has served to be the eyes and ears of medicine (Lakeman 2014). They could at least assess, intelligently report, and take part in a conversation around diagnosis and treatment. With the doubling of the medical workforce in Australia in the 10 years to 2015, almost all as specialists or specialists in training (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016), this need for nursing to be ancillary perceptual and sometimes analytical extensions of medicine has been diminished and devalued. Rather, the workforce requirement is more for a body of people to be the strong arm or defensive shield of medicine; containing, coercing, enforcing, and administering treatment. One potential consequence is that working as a mental health nurse (i.e. being a nurse who works in a ‘mental  health settings’) is apparently the most dangerous ‘profession’ in Australia (Lakeman 2015).

It is also been noted (at least by other disciplines) that increasingly mental health care has become procedurally driven, risk averse, and concerned about rationing scarce resources (Tew 2014, p. 41). In the Australian context, mental health work is driven by computer protocols to gather data to feed activity based funding logarithms (See: Independent Health Pricing Authority, 2016). In this new world order, creative, thinking, reflexive practitioners are not required, and indeed anything that does not fit the model of care, as determined by the computer system, is not seen to exist. In this world, a compliant, docile workforce following protocols, pathways, procedures, and assiduously auditing themselves is necessary for the maintenance of what is increasingly becoming (like education) a production line process.

Not only does the practitioner not need to think, but the reduction of mental health care into a set of tasks, procedures, and processes cannot only deaden initiative, but also contribute to the zombification of the workforce. It has long been recognized that those who are unable to exercise initiative in their work or find some kind of creative outlet risk losing these  capacities.

Adam Smith (1827, p. 327), who was the principal author of the modern stratification of labour, suggested that people working in the lowest in the lower tiers of creative endeavour observed:
The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.

Like zombies, the idea of mental health nursing will not die. Despite comprehensive nursing being the basic nursing qualification, and the registered ‘mental health’ or psychiatric nurse being an historical artefact, the Australian Mental Health Commission (2015) review of mental health programmes recommended that 1000 ‘registered general nurses’ be immediately retrained as ‘mental health nurses’ (which they suggest could be  done in 1 year) to address a projective workforce shortfall in 2016. The government did not take up this recommendation, and there was no published commentary on it at all. The notion of the ‘mental health nurse’
continues to be invoked and applied to people who can make no reasonable claim to the title, and in keeping  with notions of the zombie category, it is employed as if it were a living, clearly-defined category of nursing (when it is clearly not).


Nurses, including those who are identified as mental health nurses, are in a large part a product of their education. While some academics in Australia might claim the mantle of mental health nurse (or might even be credentialed), by and large full-time academics in Australia are conspicuous by their lack of recent, meaningful experience in the craft they are supposed to teach. Indeed, such real world experience might be considered an obstacle to obtaining ‘tenure’ in the modern age. Tenure arose as a protection from being sacked for exercising the duty to tell the truth, regardless of how unpalatable that might be to others, including one’s bosses (Fuchs 1963). The pathway to tenure and secure employment has little to do with demonstrating skill in one’s craft. Tenured members of the academy often hold themselves up as leaders and invoke leadership as the means to promote and enhance the occupation of mental health nursing.

However, leadership to date has failed to enhance, promote, extend, or expand mental health nursing because of the zombification of the academy, leadership, and mental health-care institutions.

The concept of the ‘zombie bank’ is an archetypal zombie institution, which was popularized in the recent global financial crisis as a representation of contemporary capitalism in crisis (Nelms 2012): Undercapitalized, if not entirely bankrupt, with little hope of recovery, but kept alive by vast injections of capital from governments and sucking the life out of the economy through voracious consumption of tax money, capital, and labour. There is an increasing recognition that other zombie institutions might be in our midst. Arguably, universities, mental health services, professional guilds, hospitals, and programmes have many features of zombie institutions. As Whitaker (2010) notes, the vast investment in mental health drugs and the expanding mental health industry has not demonstrably improved the mental health of nations (quite the opposite), and with an absence of any self-consciousness, lobbyists point out that globally mental health is in fact deteriorating rapidly and they demand more resources (Prince et al. 2007).

The university ought to be the institution that the public can look to, to point out these paradoxes. However, far from living up to the ideals of the university as conscience of society (Brubacher 1982), or at least offer a critical commentary, the university itself has become mortally infected with production line processing of students, and nonsensical targets around research and ‘academic’ outputs (Whelan et al. 2013).

The zombification of the neoliberal university (Whelan et al. 2013) and the Australian academy in
particular (Ryan 2012) has been given recent attention.

The following description, while sounding nonsensical to outsiders, will have immediate resonance for any academic in Australia:

Universities are increasingly populated by the undead: a listless population of academics, managers, administrators and students, all shuffling to the beat of the corporatist drum…the source of the zombie contagion lurks in the form of dead hand, mechanical speech.
Academic zombie speech is peppered with affectless references to DEST points, citation indices, ERA rankings, ARC applications, esteem factors, FoR codes, AUQA reviews and the like. Aca-zombies participate in numerous Rber-zombified, government-sponsored quality assurance exercises, presided over by powerful external assessors. (Whelan & Gora 2010).

Australian higher education has undergone rapid waves of change, described by Ryan (2012) as massification, marketization, corporatization, and managerialism. The later phases have permeated other branches of the public sector, such as health-care provision, culminating in current preoccupations with auditing, efficiencies, compliance, quality, and measurement. True
to nursing’s humble and servile beginnings and traditional deference to authority, nursing has been conspicuously quiet with respect to any of these changes.

Arguably, it has demonstrated little resistance, and appears on the face of it to be mostly acquiescent, and conformist in satisfying the demands of the organization.
That the demise of mental health nursing is profligately documented in Australia is in part because the metrics of publishing and research outputs are what the aforementioned assessors are concerned about.

Every conversation is a potential research project and a peer-reviewed paper. Rarely is there any serious critique of the status quo from academic quarters (genuine critical thought is not valued or rewarded).

Recommendations for improvement are usually couched as exhortations for more or better leadership, or statements about mental health nurses or academics being ‘well placed’ to act. Even where a serious critique of the restructuring of a national mental health service at the expense of some of the most needy (e.g. Jong & Schout 2016), the critique is published to a
nursing audience, rather than to those who might have the political power or interest to intervene. Zombies do not engage in protest, and are rather ineffective lobbyists.



If zombie films teach us anything (and let’s imagine they do), it’s that zombie pandemics result in the ruinous collapse of society. Only a handful of people survive, and these small bands of refugees find themselves living an existence that is characterized by running and stockading, until they are ultimately overrun. They endure ongoing attacks by the undead and the threat of their own zombification.

A key figure in the zombie movie genre, writer/ director George Romero, observed that his movies are ‘stories about how people respond or fail to respond to
(change)’ (McConnell 2009). Over the course of the 20th century, mental health nursing in Australia has endured changes to factors that were integral to its professional identity (Molloy et al. 2016). The wind down of the standalone psychiatric hospital system, adjustments to its educational preparation, and the loss of the nursing profession’s recognition of its difference
through specialist registration have all contributed to an increasingly ambiguous role for mental health nursing in the changed world of 21st century mental health care (Hercelinskyj et al. 2014).
Faced with progressive zombification of the specialty, the remaining mental health nurses can hide in the hope that they can sustain the onslaught and somehow continue on into the uncertain future. Or they can fight back. As Munz et al. (2009, p. 146) surmise, ‘it is imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly, or else we are all in a great deal of trouble’. The resistance,
which has already taken place, has not have appeared to have slowed the contagion. As noted earlier, the  assault has most recently been focussed on the use of scholarly literature without any obvious impact. Position statements and policies, be they from The Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (Australia and New Zealand) (2015), the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (2015), or the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing (2015), have done little to
arrest the plague.

If mental health nursing has become a zombie category, resistance must involve the collective voice of the living and be targeted to ensure maximum effect (Ryan
2012). Looking at the contemporary milieu of mental health nursing in Australia, the challenge for the speciality is where this collective voice can be gathered. Existing within separate rigid and bureaucratic systems, the synergy that might exist between mental health nurses within practice and education settings is at best constrained.

Within the education and health systems themselves, we see further fragmentation into separate, often competing, institutions and services. The relationships between different areas is more often characterized by rivalry than camaraderie, as neoliberal governance nurtures competition rather than cooperation. Both the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing and the Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation who would seem natural vehicles for dissent, both advocate for conditions that, if realized, could strengthen mental health nursing in its fight against zombification. However, these organizations, being themselves conservative to the point of obsequiousness, have failed to stir significant action from those who might have power to effectively intervene. One thing that seems guaranteed in many zombie movies is government inaction right up until the point that it is too late to contain an outbreak (Zealand 2011).
To successfully avoid a zombie doomsday requires a quick and aggressive response from the living and healthy (Munz et al. 2009). For mental health nursing in Australia, the response to the creeping erosion of the profession has been neither. The results to date would
seem to indicate that mental health nursing is losing the war. This would appear to be in keeping with another quintessential zombie movie theme; that everything turns out badly for everyone in the end (Evans 2009).

On a more optimistic note, recognition and resistance might offer some hope, and the Australian experience might provide salutary lessons for the survival of mental health nursing in other parts of the world.





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Want to “stop the stigma”? Then stop stigmatizing…

“Stigma” is not some mysterious thing.

“Stigma” is not “the problem”.
At least it would not be – could not exist – were it not for
acts of stigmatizing.

When we choose to objectify another we dehumanize them.
In doing so we dehumanize ourselves, too.

When those with more power use that power to objectify and dehumanize individuals and groups with less power – by putting their mark [stigma] upon them – then that is how stigma is created.

Stigma only exists when generated by one person’s – or group of persons’ – act(s) of stigmatizing another.

Psychiatric diagnosis is a prime example – an instantiative definition of stigmatizing.
There are plentiful other examples.

“Stop the stigma”  is the dumbest of dumbed down dumbass slogans

“Stop the stigma”
is like
“stop the cheese”.
and we cant stop stigma any more than we can stop cheese by saying, liking and sharing
“stop the cheese”.

We cant stop stigma.
We can only stop the act:
– acts of stigmatization
– acts of stigmatizing.

That “stigma”
Your mark:
That mark – the one you put on me – is not my mark.
Your mark:
That mark you put on me
and will always remain…

When we cease to put our mark [our stigma] onto others
and there will be no “stigma”.

Its not my stigma:
its yours.

you can
fuck your stigma.
Its not mine.
It’s yours to wear,
you wear it.

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Infinite Potential – The life and ideas of David Bohm

Einstein called David Bohm his ‘spiritual son’ and the Dalai Lama relied upon him as his “scientific guru”

I came across the work and ides of David Bohm when learning how to facilitate in dialogues: after having worked for ten years facilitating groups where the goal (and my role was to make easier) the building towards agreement – bringing groups together to work on identifying and framing problems and then problem solving together. whereas, in contrast, dialogue is not about agreeing, but about about learning, becoming and being to generate new understandings and new possibilities.

David Bohm was a quantum physicist who applied quantum theories to thought, and to being – he shared his ideas with the world at a time when the world was was not ready, He was regarded as too different, dangerous and was shunned and shunted to the margins.

It took decades to develop the kind of computing power required to demonstrate the validity of his ideas.

His ideas embrace the profound interconnectedness of the universe- including everything in it – including each of us, how we think, feel, and be, and consciousness, and everything else, and the interrelatedness of everything.

His books are a difficult but rewarding read, this movies is an introduction to his life and his ideas.

Trailer: (2:29 mins)

Full Movie : (1:11 hrs)

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The Shock, The Fist, and The Flesh of Modernity

The Shock of Modernity

A series of three videos by Then and Now on modernity and how it exerts power over us. Each is about 20mins.

by Then & Now

“What is modernity? The end of the nineteenth century was a period of unprecedented upheaval. Factories sprouted in masses, railways were laid at great length, urbanisation sprawled and beckoned, and masses organised capitalistically and politically.

All of this happened at dizzying speed. This was the moment the modern world crashed together and dragged people from the fields to the factory floor.

Within a generation, the entire consciousness of life had changed.

In this video, I look at how consciousness was affected by that change. I look at industrialisation, the move from the country to the city, neurasthenia, Kierkegaard and the concept of anxiety, Nietzche, Darwin and the death of God. I also look at the birth of the railway, Dickens, and sensation novels.

People were nervous, literally – a new diagnosis became popular amongst America’s elites: neurasthenia. It was a contemporary form of stress, characterised by symptoms like fatigue, headache, and irritability. Neurasthenia, according to physician Charles Beard, was the result of a depletion of nervous energy, but was becoming more common as a reaction to the anxieties of the modern world and of the demands of American exceptionalism. Neurasthenia was almost a fashion. Adverts appeared selling ‘nerve tonics’, self help books dominated the shelves, even breakfast cereals claimed to be able to cure ‘americanitus’. “

The Fist of Modernity

By Then & Now”

“The foundations of modern policing are based not on justice, but on the punishing of poverty, the imposition of the status quo, the disciplining of the public, the constriction of liberty, and justified as the protection against an ugly, sinful, idle, greedy, and organised criminal class that has no basis in reality.

In this video I look at the birth of the modern police force in Britain, what the historian V.A.C Gatrell calls ‘the policeman state.’

The nineteenth century was a period of great transformation. Urbanization, industrialization, technologicalization , were all, at the heart, a change in the routines of humans. Modernity, at its simples t, was about efficiency, speed, production, of the maximizing of health, wealth and profit.

It was about scientifically searching for those rules, those methods, those laws, that would bring about the ideal human order.

The first modern, standardized police forced – the Metropolitan Police – was created in 1829, and continued to expand across the century, increasing from around 20,000 in 1860 to 54,000 in 1911.

The preventative police were to be visible, wear uniforms, be of good physique, intelligence, and character – ‘domestic missionaries’ as historian Robert Storch called them.

There was protest:

The Gazette called it ‘a base attempt upon the liberty of the subject and the privilege of local government’ and that the purpose of the police state was to ‘to drill, discipline and dragoon us all into virtue’

A parliament inquiry concluded that ‘such a system would of necessity be odious and repulsive, and one which no government would be able to carry into execution …the very proposal would be rejected with abhorrence’

And that ‘It is difficult to reconcile an effective system of police, with that perfect freedom of action and exemption from interference, which are the great privileges and blessings of society in this country; and your Committee think that the forfeiture or curtailment of such advantages would be too great a sacrifice for improvements in police’.

In 1867 the commentator Walter Bagehot wrote that:

‘The natural impulse of the English people is to resist authority. The introduction of effectual policemen was not liked; I know people, old people I admit, who to this day consider them an infringement of freedom. If the original policeman had been started with the present helmets, the result might have been dubious; there might have been a cry of military tyranny, and the inbred insubordination of the English people might have prevailed over the very modern love of perfect peace and order.’

Despite all of this, the fist of modernity raised its clenched rational plan, and swung.”

The Flesh of Modernity

By Then & Now

“Through a history of public health, I look at how early 19th-century public health interventions were a product of a modern line of thought that has a dark side, leading to discrimination, authoritarianism, eugenics, and the Nazis.

What does it mean for a body – flesh and bones – to be politicized? For the rhythm of heartbeats, the density of muscles, and the flow of the arteries to be molded and shaped by power?

What’s the best way to rank citizens on a scale? To make the child’s body still, obedient, but strong?

How far can we go in engineering modern utopian bodies? Is it possible to forge the iron of the national body through recommendations or if not, by force?

Throughout the 19th century, bodies emigrated in droves from the country to the city. Their stomachs were hungry, for food, for work. They crowded flesh on flesh into slums. “Little Ireland” in Manchester had two toilets between 250 people; 5 or more often slept in one bed. Cesspools and dunghills were everywhere. 

At the same time, factory owners needed these bodies to be productive, energetic, malleable.

We take a look at the Philosophical Radicals, who were inspired by Jeremy Bentham, Edwin Chadwick, Social Darwinism, Eugenics, and enforced sterilization. The 1846 Nuisance Removal Acts, Robert Bayden-Powel and his concerns about national degeneration that led to the development of the Scouts, productivity during the First World War, and the development of eugenicist thought and societies.”

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Embracing Our Selves – Hall & Sidra Stone

Embracing Our Selves

The Voice Dialogue Manual
Hall & Sidra Stone

Know that I don’t recommend, don’t make recommendations, except the one recommendation to not ask me for a recommendation. This is not a recommendation it is, probably, as close as it gets to one.

I will say that this book would probably feature – if I could be arsed to make one – in a top five most important books I’ve read, and certainly top three most useful.
It’s also one of only two books I ever read cover-to-cover in one sitting.

Despite some misconceptions, Voice Dialogue is not invented by or in the hearing voices movement but is an approach many have adopted and adapted.

Embracing ourselves is about recognising that each of us has within us some kind of multiple experiences, there are many names we can call them, this book does not tell us what to call them suggests we simply call them whatever works for us.
They do offer a few suggestions, as examples and illustration for those who have learned to close down-their more imaginative, creative selves.

if you like lots of structure and if you like being told what to call your experience, directed how to judge, categorise and  “correct” any deemed by some theory or tradition as “incorrect”, “unhealthy”, or just plain “wrong” or “bad” or “evil” selves within you then you’ll find this isn’t that .

Authors Hal & Sidra Stone work as therapists, from Jungian perspective, and developed this approach in working with couples.

The basic premise is that each of us has within us several selves, and that one or more will likely be more strongly developed than others, perhaps to the point of over-reliance  – and that others will be under-developed and maybe under-used.

Unlike other approaches, they suggest all these have usefulness and purpose in our lives.

What might happen – and what we might be unaware of but that others with whom we are in close-relationship are acutely aware of- is how we tend to rely on our more developed selves more than might be good, and underuse or even neglect our other less developed selves. This come out in relationship, and the closer the relationship the more evident it is to the other person, at eh same time.we are more unaware.

Being unaware of this and having not learned how to work with our own selves and other peoples selves is source of difficulty in relationships.

If we can learn ways to be more aware and ware of the choices we are making subconsciously we can learn to make different choices.

Embracing involves a lot of accepting. Learning to accept all our selves, learning how to recognise their strengths but also recognise when we can choose to develop others, develop other strengths

There is no right terminology, there is no right arrangement or structure, none are categorized,  labelled as “positive” or “negative”, they just are, each a part of a whole that is dynamic, fluid, and navigating that is a question of exploring and coming to know, continually learning and understanding and becoming familiar with our own personal “inner” landscape, and our place in it.


Voice dialogue is not therapy –  indeed they suggest that the work is best done by a person who has not trained as a therapust – because therapists have been trained in and have adopted, maybe even required to adopt, a particular theory or model or idea of  what is “right” and how things “should be”,  some “right” way to interpret, or some goal to aim for and this can get in the way of true dialogue.

It is hard for a therapist to not push their pet theory or pet ther’py upon us.

Hal & Sidra Stone suggest the role of person working with someone who wants to embark on dialoguing is that of facilitator:  simply looking after the process of dialoguing with parts, selves, voices, spirits, or whatever you call yours.

Here’s a video you can watch Hal Stone talking of The Power of Voice Dialogue [9.48].



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Borderline: Misogyny and “Mental Illness” in Collision – Leif E. Greenz

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Capitalist Realism, Mental Illness and Societies of Control – Mad Blender

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