Far be it from me –

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Guest Post By Lisa Cherry – Quick Update on Free Download of Soul Journey

Quick update

Thank you for all your support regarding the FREE download….all of your information about your websites, charities and own books etc. was downloaded over 750 times across the UK, USA, Germany, France and Italy.How cool is that? Who knows what might happen now for any of us?
The next book is well on the way to being finished and I have also written a book on how to start writing….
This was a bit of a practice as I shall just market as an ebook that goes with the writing workshop. If you know anyone who might be interested then please do pass it on…
Have a wonderful Xmas xx


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Guest Post By Lisa Cherry 19 December 2012 – Soul Journey Free on Kindle for Two Days

Greetings lovely women of the world!

I just wanted to make sure that you knew that I had made 51SQx8Og29L._AA160_ available for 2 days as a free download for Kindle users as a Christmas pressie (and also for people that can’t afford to buy it).
The link is:
Please do share with your networks whether by email, FB, twitter etc (I know some of you have already and thank you) so the message is spread far.
I wish you all a beautiful Christmas and for being a part of my perfect year xxx
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From Michael Skinner -The Surviving Spirit Newsletter December 2012


Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy


Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health


Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Kahlil Gibran


Greeting folks,


I hope this finds you well….and yet I am mindful that this being the Holiday Season, it is not always a ‘joyous’ time for all…and for many reasons. This newsletter is not meant to be a ‘downer’ or a depressant, but we do need to be aware of others [and of ourselves] and the pressures and concerns that can be brought on because of the holidays and what they entail. I find the advent of Halloween to be a harsh reminder of the slow walk through the Hallmark Seasons that more often than not, I wish were over. And yet, I do find great joy for the season in spending time with friends, seeing the holiday decorations, get-togethers and so much more…such a darn contradiction.


The term “triggered” can sometimes end up sounding so clichéd…but there is power and truth to that simple word…especially when one has been impacted by the trauma of abuse or losses in life, whatever they may be. Our struggles with trauma, abuse and mental health challenges have their own special way of affecting our lives and those we care for. I wish I knew back then what I know now – it could have helped me to understand why I could go into some deep funk or just numb out, even when in the midst of my happy children and ex-wife in times of celebration. As a child and a teenager, I never knew what was going to happen on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day – the home would look like it was decked out for the holidays and food was being prepared…but one never knew what explosion of rage, brutality or perversion was going to erupt at any moment. I stuffed those memories and feelings down as far as they could go…but all I needed was the slightest trigger of some remembrance, a feeling, a holiday song, a word, and most frustrating, many times I just didn’t know what came over me and I would be numb and oblivious to those that I loved….I can only imagine how confusing and frustrating that was for them. But we weren’t supposed to talk about the past, we were supposed to suck it up and just get over it…aahhh…if it was only so simple. I couldn’t understand the power of dissociation back then…and would just look on at my family in some blank stare…I was there physically, but I had checked out mentally and spiritually.


New Years Eve has its own mixed message…a time to ring in the new and my time to look back over the year and express the thanks and gratitude for what I do have in my life – and yet, it is the time that my brother David took his life…December 27th is my brother Danny’s birth date, he too ended his life several years ago. The calendar has its own unique way of reminding me of past hurts – December 26th and the 29th are the birthdates of my parents, the people who caused me so much trauma and abuse in my young life. Mindfulness has helped me in coping with all of this and taking the time to be good to myself and giving thanks in counting the blessings that I do have in my life. My own personal belief is that one never truly just gets over it….we survive, we heal, and we thrive…but some pains and hurts may always be with us.


“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” Peter Marshall


I have friends who have lost loved ones to cancer and other health concerns…so they too struggle at this time of the year, loneliness can kill us inside – so the power of peer support and reaching out is so important for everyone touched by hurts and losses. In last month’s newsletter, we shared “Rocking the Cradle”, a study regarding parents and disabilities – a sobering and horrible statistic was the one that “80% of parents with psychiatric disabilities lose custody of their children”. I think of all the people I know as friends and peers who are part of that shameful fact; all of them good people and good parents, their only misfortune was to have that diagnosis of being labeled “mentally ill” and how that was used as a weapon against them by an angry ex-spouse or partner to cause them to lose the rights to their kids – I am one of those parents and that hurt never goes away…so the holidays can be one painful reminder of something so near and dear to your heart that has been cut out of your life for all of the wrong reasons.


“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


I truly believe that it is okay to acknowledge our hurts, our losses, our struggles and our grief…to embrace those feelings as they come up and find the way that is special for you in letting it be….and then turn to the things that do give us comfort and joy to soothe us and help us heal, especially when in the midst of the Holiday Season. Hopefully some of the resources that we share in this newsletter and from our website can be of assistance to you in your healing journey.


Taking care of yourself is so important. So many survivors forget how because of the trauma they’ve endured.” Marie Waldrep


1] Surviving & Getting Through the Holidays – please visit our website, we have links to twenty one resources that cover trauma, abuse, divorce, loss, vets, staying sober & safe, depression and so much more


“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard


2] Grief Recovery – we share eight resources to help you and those you care for


“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart


3] How Gratitude Can Change Your Life


Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.


“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust


4] Gratitude – Psychology Today 


Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for  what one has – as opposed to, say, a consumer-oriented emphasis  on what one wants or needs—and is currently receiving a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology. Gratitude is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full. Studies show that gratitude not only can be deliberately cultivated but can increase levels of well-being and happiness among those who do cultivate it.  In addition, grateful thinking – and especially expression of it to others – is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.


“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  Elizabeth Gilbert


5] What Is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not? – Psychology Today   


Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It is a call for psychological science and practice to be as concerned with strength as with weakness; as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst; and as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling as with healing pathology.


Nowhere does this definition say or imply that psychology should ignore or dismiss the very real problems that people experience. Nowhere does it say or imply that the rest of psychology needs to be discarded or replaced. The value of positive psychology is to complement and extend the problem-focused psychology that has been dominant for many decades.


“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” John F. Kennedy


6] “I Sparkle When I” – Beth Gager M.Ed. Coordinator of Consumer Empowerment


Back in October I had the honor to give the keynote presentation for the Region Ten Community Services Board Consumer Advisory Council’s 7th Annual Recovery Conference “Once Upon a Sparkle: Remember what makes you shine!” in Charlottesville, Virginia. Beth Gager had created this wonderful handout for the conference and this is worth sharing because we all deserve to Sparkle and Shine.



I Sparkle When I

*sing *dance *laugh *move *create *paint *draw *write *play *sculpt *love *pray *work *run *walk *mother *father *talk *listen *feel *breathe *speak *act *perform *imagine *dream *wonder *hope *believe *think *cry *shout *praise*thank *journal *flow *sit *read *study *craft *encourage *support *fly *dive *swim *soar *experience *care *live *help *assist *cook *clean *wear *dress *adorn *adore *accept *understand *enjoy *practice *plan *think *eat *drink *make *discover *explore *find *bring



If you would like a copy of this sent to you separately as a Word Document, please let me know – it looks great in a picture frame Mike.Skinner@SurvivingSpirit.com  [Thanks Beth!!!]


“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale


7] Georgina Whitehead and Inner Child Concerts – London, England


Georgina is a gifted musician who also uses her musical gifts to help those affected by trauma and abuse – she has recently produced her highly acclaimed ‘Solo Guitar CD’ which has been featured on BBC Radio Norfolk and Radio Yare. For further information and audio samples please visit her CD page.


“The Inner Child Concert is for survivors of all types of abuse and trauma. She will be presenting one of her special concerts on December 30th for The National Association for People Abused in Childhood. To learn more, please visit –http://www.napac.org.uk/eventscurrent.asp


“If children grew according to early indications we should have nothing but geniuses.” Johann Wolfgang Goethe


8] While we are visiting “across the pond”, we would be remiss if we did not feature one of our other gifted and creative friends, Judith Haire, author of the book,“Don’t Mind Me”.


“Don’t Mind Me” is the story of her dysfunctional childhood and teenage depression, her abusive first marriage and experience of rape and domestic violence, her terrifying descent into psychosis and her recovery. A very powerful and poignant book….written by a deeply caring and compassionate individual…and a dear friend.


9] The Awakenings Project – Empowering and healing through art


The Awakenings Project is a grass-roots initiative whose mission is to assist artists with psychiatric illnesses in developing their craft and finding an outlet for their creative abilities through art in all forms. The Awakenings Project also works to raise public awareness and acceptance of the creative talents of people living with psychiatric disorders who work in the fields of fine art, music, literature, and drama


The Awakenings Project has grown over the years to encompass several efforts, including Awakenings Fine Arts, The Awakenings Review, Awakenings Music, andAwakenings Drama. The Awakenings Art Show, which debuted in 1996, is now a regular activity of the Awakenings Fine Arts program, along with the operation of a working art studio. At the Awakenings studio, artists have access to a “drop-in” environment providing a supportive creative environment including work space, friendship, and solitude for those who seek it. The studio, located in Elgin, Illinois, since July 2008, is also used for other functions, such as writing workshops, play rehearsals, and receptions.


“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Kurt Vonnegut


10] Lunacy Lost: A Memoir of Green Mental Health by Sue Westwind


A Family’s Shame:

Growing up with my suicidal grandmother, watching my brother’s fall into schizophrenia…I was hospitalized in the late 1960’s for being a teenage runaway with a drug problem. Psychotherapy was king, and it blamed the parents. My parents blamed our genetics, “the Wohler Madness.”



As a young woman in California, I devoured the writings of R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz, and the Madness Network News. I believed electroshock and medications were deployed for social control of persons who were simply different. It was the Vietnam War era, and so much in our culture seemed poised to change.


Healing Myself / Helping Others:

In the ’80′s and early ’90′s I studied many forms of inner work and self-therapy: the Inner Child process, gestalt, yoga, Transcendental Meditation, feminist therapy, shamanic journeys and more. Finally a successful hypnotherapist in private practice, I gravitated to the works of John Weir Perry and Stanislav Grof:

madness as visionary experience.


“We are paying dearly – with our epidemic of mental and behavior disorder – for poisoning our air, water, soil, and each other.

The solution is open to all.  I learned from autism, and found green mental health.”


“If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words.” Johann Wolfgang Goethe


11] Eight Weeks to Whole Health: National Council Offers WHAM Peer Trainings


The National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) now offers 2-day in-person trainings in WHAM – Whole Health Action Management – a new science-based program that teaches participants to set and achieve whole health goals through weekly action plans and 8-week support groups. The training prepares persons with mental illness and addiction disorders, employed in behavioral health organizations, to facilitate WHAM groups that help their peers reach whole health, wellness, and resiliency goals through effective self-management. Trainings are offered anywhere in the country for interested organizations and regions.

To learn how the National Council can bring a 2-day WHAM training to your site, contact Daisy Wheeler, National Council Consulting Manager, atDaisyW@thenationalcouncil.org or 202.684.7457.


“Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its peed. Let me look upward into the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.” Orin L. Crain


12] Defining Trauma: Give Us Your Feedback


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA] is now seeking input from the public on the concept paper, SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Trauma and Principles and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.


For ease of review, the paper is divided into three sections:

1.   Definition of Trauma

2.   A Trauma-Informed Approach

3.   Guidelines for Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach.


Each section has a separate link and unique forum to provide comments and, if you wish, to vote on comment offered by others. You have up to 10 votes to endorse other comments, and you may revise your votes throughout the comment period.


The feedback forum will be open from the period beginning Monday, December 10, 2012, and ending at midnight Eastern Time on Friday, December 21, 2012. This forum will provide an open and transparent process for stakeholders to offer their comments about the definitions, principles, and guidelines, and also make suggestions for improvement.


13] Why schizophrenia medication only works for some people – Mental Wellness Today  – Your Partner in Mental Wellness


“Despite considerable scientific and therapeutic progress over the last 50 years, we still do not know why some patients with schizophrenia respond to treatment whilst others do not,” said Arsime Demjaha, MD and colleagues. “Treatment resistance in such a disabling condition is one of the greatest clinical and therapeutic challenges to psychiatry, significantly affecting patients, their families, and society in general.”


“People were created to be loved, things were created to be used; the reason why the world is in chaos right now is because things are being loved and people are being used.” Unknown


The Surviving Spirit is glad to welcome Mary Ann Goughler to our Board of Directors – besides being a caring and compassionate advocate, she is also a gifted artist. Please do take a look at a few of her incredible pieces of art. http://store.survivingspirit.com/webstore/visual-arts.html?p=2


We also want to thank John Mark Clubb for his efforts and time in service to the Board – we know he will continue in his advocacy endeavors of speaking out and writing to help others affected by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns. http://johnmarkclubb.com/


And a ‘gentle reminder’ – The Surviving Spirit is a 501C3 so your gifts and contributions are greatly appreciated – thank you.


We truly hope that our words, thoughts and resources help you in your healing journey…and as the saying goes, “take what you like and leave the rest”.


“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” Maya Angelou



Take care, Mike, Mary, Lynn, Zsuzsi, Rachel, Cynthia & Mary Ann


ps. Please share this with your friends & if you have received this in error, please let me know.


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

                 A diagnosis is not a destiny


The Surviving Spirit – Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy – Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health


The Surviving Spirit Speakers’ Bureau


The Surviving Spirit Facebook Page


mike.skinner@survivingspirit.com   603-625-2136  38 River Ledge Drive, Goffstown, NH 03045


@SurvivinSpirit Twitter


“BE the change you want to see in the world.” Mohandas Gandhi


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Guest Post By Jason Tucker – Female Genital Mutilation – Law Enforcers Facing An Uphill Battle

Female Genital MutilationLaw enforcers facing an uphill battle

It’s a long and arduous task extending basic human rights to every corner of the globe but charities and government agencies are gradually helping to eliminate practices like forced marriage which really have no place in the world of 2012. One of the most sensitive areas that women’s charities and pressure groups are having to tackle is female genital mutilation (FGM).

This appalling practice is still being carried out on the sub-continent and even in ethnic enclaves in Western Europe. It is usually carried out in the name of so-called religious or social tradition but when anyone in authority in particular religions is questioned on the subject, nobody actually seems to be able to quote chapter and verse about its origins.

Viewed from a human rights perspective, FGM reflects the historic inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. The mutilation is nearly always carried out on minors and is therefore a violation of children’s rights. The practice also violates the rights to health, security and physical integrity of the person involved, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

Another dangerous misconception about female circumcision is that it bestows various health benefits. This, of course, is total nonsense. It is, in fact, known to be harmful to the female body in many different ways. First, it is clearly painful and traumatic. The World Health Organisation summarises other effects as follows: “The removal of or damage to healthy, normal genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term health consequences. For example, babies born to women who have undergone female genital mutilation suffer a higher rate of neonatal death compared with babies born to women who have not undergone the procedure end in stillbirth or spontaneous abortion, and in a further 25% the new born has a low birth weight or serious infection, both of which are associated with an increased risk of perinatal death.”

Although the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution banning FGM, some 140 million women and girls alive today are known to be victims and although the practice has been outlawed in most countries, it is still legal in certain nations like Sierra Leone. Even in many countries where it is now officially outlawed, enforcement is proving difficult especially in remote, outlying areas.





“Schizophrenia” : Time To Discard The Diagnosis?



Schizophrenia’: Time to Discard the Diagnosis?

Preliminary findings from the independent Inquiry into the ‘Schizophrenia’ Label (ISL) finds that over 80% of those who gave evidence believe the diagnosis is damaging and dangerous.


The label has destroyed my life, friendships, relationships and employment prospects.” [Survey respondent]


The doctor at the hospital kept asking me if I heard voices. I didn’t know what she meant by this. Was she checking my hearing, my awareness? Was she using a metaphor? I didn’t know. I said yes as I could hear the voices of nurses and patients on the ward down the corridor. That sealed my fate.” [Testimony submission]


When [my son] found that some people recovered he was adamant that he would be one of these and this has helped him to fight for services he needs and to maintain good self-awareness. Therefore largely the label has not been unhelpful — but very very scary.” [Survey respondent]


The independent Inquiry into the ‘Schizophrenia’ Label (ISL) was launched in April to investigate the usefulness of ‘schizophrenia’ as a diagnosis and medical condition, and the impact this diagnosis has on people’s lives. Since the launch, the Inquiry received evidence from around 500 people in the form of responses to an online survey, testimony submissions via the Inquiry website, comments on Facebook, a focus group in Manchester, and other submissions in the form of articles, personal narratives and memoirs.


The coordinating group and the independent panel are currently collating and examining the evidence. Preliminary results from our survey show that:


  • The majority of respondents feel that a diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ is damaging: Over 80% of the respondents said that the diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ makes life more difficult for people diagnosed; 88% think that ‘schizophrenia’ is associated in the minds of the public with violence against others despite evidence to the contrary.
  • 50% thought that they would be treated more harshly by the criminal justice system.
  • 60% of respondents believe that ‘race’ and ethnicity affect the diagnosis of schizophrenia, for a range of reasons including impact of social class, racism and cultural assumptions.
  • Well over half (57%) of the respondents do not see ‘schizophrenia’ as a medical illness and do not think that there is enough scientific evidence to underpin the diagnosis.
  • 49% think that medication should be given only if a service user requests this.
  • 46% think that the diagnosis of schizophrenia should never be used by professionals in case notes or discussion, with the majority of these arguing that people’s own words for their condition or problems should be used.
  • Alternatives to diagnosis include working with people’s narratives as the basis for support and using techniques developed based on this concept such as those promoted by the Hearing Voices movement and the Finnish Open Dialogue project.

The recent report from the Schizophrenia Commission, headed by the mental health charity Rethink and the Psychosis Research Unit at the Institute of Psychiatry has made 42 recommendations to change the way people diagnosed with schizophrenia are treated. However, our preliminary findings show that the diagnosis itself and its usefulness and validity are under question and may need discarding completely. The initial reading of the evidence submitted to ISL shows that there is no consensus in how we should understand our own and other people’s distress and its manifestations, and that it is time to move away from psychiatric diagnoses and support people as fellow human beings rather than as people with a medical illness.


I know that I experience some kind of ‘altered stage’ and I wish I could find non-medical language to talk about my experience without having to recite a whole chapter of my life…” [Testimony submission]


I am in favour of formulating a co-constructed narrative of the service user’s problems and their personal meaning in the context of their life experiences. No diagnosis needed!” [Survey respondent]


ISL, supported by over 40 organisations and 250 individuals, has been run on a fully voluntary basis with no external funding. The Inquiry will report fully in the New Year. For more information and to read the testimonies, please visit www.schizophreniainquiry.org.


The coordinating group

Inquiry into the ‘Schizophrenia’ Label



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Surviving Spirit Newsletter, November 2012



Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy


Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health


Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.– Kahlil Gibran



Hi Folks,


I hope all is well in your corner of the world, things are okay here…doing my level best to practice gratitude and being thankful for what I do have in my life, it can be so easy to forget or lose sight of what we do have that is good, despite the obstacles and challenges we face in the day to day.


Hopefully we will soon be sending the newsletter from our website, this will make the task of putting this together and all that entails a little bit easier to do – we are also in the process of tweaking the website and adding things, fixing ‘stuff’ and adding more resources and making them easier to access. Do take a look at a few of the things we have done so far when time permits – www.survivingspirit.com Please note that when the newsletter is sent from the website, it will come from one of these addresses – Mike.Skinner@SurvivingSpirit.com or contact-us@SurvivingSpirit.com

“Let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as unaccomplished as you think you are. To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken, out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.” Marc Hack


1] This could help those who struggle with love, especially if impacted by trauma and abuse and you didn’t receive love as a child and all you know is shame of self because of what was done to you. We all deserve love, compassion, kindness and caring….


Lovingkindness meditationhttp://www.wildmind.org/metta


The Metta Bhavana, or Development of Lovingkindness, practice is one of the most ancient forms of Buddhist practice, one that has been passed down in an unbroken line for over 2,500 years.


We’re often taught as children that we should love others. Religious teachings say, for example, that we should “love others as ourselves.” But how do we learn to love others? And what happens if we don’t particularly like, never mind love, ourselves? The development of lovingkindness meditation practice is the practical means by which we learn to cultivate love for ourselves and others. The practice helps us to actively cultivate positive emotional states towards ourselves and others, so that we become more patient, kind, accepting, and compassionate.


Until and unless you know that you are enough just the way you are, you will continue to look for more. Until you wholeheartedly believe in your own value, worth, and worthiness, in spite of your accomplishments and possessions, or lack thereof, there will always be a void in your spirit.” Author unknown

2] National Counsel on Disability [NCD] Issues Groundbreaking Report “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children” http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/09272012

Key findings:

  • Estimates indicate 6.1 million children in the U.S. have parents with disabilities – Nearly 1 in 10, almost 10% of the population.
  • Parents with disabilities are the only community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children.
    • Removal rates of parents with psychiatric disabilities is as high as 70 – 80 %
    • Removal rates of parents with intellectual disabilities is as high as 80%
    • Extremely high removal rates and loss of parental rights for parents with sensory or physical disabilities. 
    • Parents with disabilities are more likely to lose custody of their children after divorce.
  • Prospective parents with disabilities have more difficulty when it comes to accessing reproductive health care such as assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Prospective parents with disabilities face significant barriers to adopting children.

NCD thanks Through the Looking Glass, the NIDRR-funded National Center for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families, for their valuable assistance in writing sections of this report. Their insight and guidance during the research and drafting of “Rocking the Cradle” was instrumental in its development and completion.

Full report is available on NCD’s website at:

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” – Elie Wiesel


3] Disabled Parents Face Bias, Loss of Kids: Report: National Public Radio [NPR]




Stand up for what is right even if you are standing alone” author unknown


“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” Maria Montessori


4] “Rocking the Cradle” from a personal perspective – http://badcripple.blogspot.com/2012/10/rocking-cradle-on-parenting-and.html


Bad Cripple – William Peace http://badcripple.blogspot.com/


“Paralyzed since I was 18 years old, I have spent much of the last 30 years thinking about the reasons why the social life of crippled people is so different from those who ambulate on two feet. After reading about the so called Ashley Treatment I decided it was time to write a book about my life as a crippled man. My book, Bad Cripple: A Protest from an Invisible Man, will be published by Counter Punch. I hope my book will completed soon.

I am a cultural anthropologist and writer interested in disability studies, body art and modification, and the history of anthropology. I am divorced and have a son, Tom, who is an undergraduate at Hofstra University.”


Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow; don’t walk behind me, I may not lead; walk beside me, and just be my friend.” Albert Camus


5] Trauma Survivors Share Tips for Therapists Dealing with Trauma [from our good friends at Gift From Within – PTSD Resources for Survivors and Caregivers] http://giftfromwithin.org/html/Survivor-Tips-for-Therapists-Dealing-with-Trauma.html


Here are some tips and suggestions for helping trauma survivors from the survivors themselves. They’ve been reviewed by a seasoned therapist and she believes they would be very useful for other therapists and especially for student interns.


“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” Denis Waitley


6] Support for Partners is here to help provide some support for partners of those who have been sexually abused as children, provide resources to develop skills that help partners in their relationships, and provide information about abuse and its effects.

The complexities and challenges of relationships are magnified with survivors of sexual abuse. Those who are in a partner-relationship with survivors often need some support and understanding to help them through the recovery process. Our online forum is a place where partners can both get and provide support. Here is one partner’s feedback on their participation in the forum:


I was shocked to hear of my partner’s past and am sympathetic to his feelings and beliefs, but the discovery left me lost and confused about my own ideas of our relationship. Being a part of the Support For Partners forum – sharing my experiences and reading other peoples’ concerns – helped me realize that I am not alone and that through time, care, and love – my partner and I can prevail.”




The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” Hubert H. Humphrey


7] For Parents & Friends of Rape & Sexual Abuse Survivors Pandora’s Project http://www.pandys.org/secondarysurvivors.html


Knowing that someone you care about has been hurt may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Oftentimes both survivors and their supporters struggle with feeling helpless in the aftermath, and it can take some time to learn how to respond.

For many survivors, support is a crucial part of the healing process, and receiving compassionate and validating responses from friends and family can make a real difference.

You may have difficulty in knowing what to say or do to help your loved one. It’s okay to not have all the answers; non-judgmental listening and simply being there can be a wonderful support for the survivor. Let your loved one know that you care, that you don’t blame them, and that you believe in them. Unfortunately, there are no quick or easy fixes for healing from sexual violence, so it’s important to be patient when the process seems to be taking what some consider to be a long time.


8] Study on Recovering from Mental Health Issues Without Medication Seeks Participants


Resilience: Factors and processes related to natural recovery of people who were given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, or major depression


Ohio State University researchers are inviting individuals in recovery who have a psychiatric diagnosis and who have not used psychotropic medication in the past year to complete a 30-minute online survey. “It is hoped that the findings from this research will assist helping professionals to further understand the natural recovery process….Such knowledge will be of immense value to the design of complementary, [empowering and cost-effective] behavioral [health] treatments and programs for people who were given a mental health diagnosis.” For more information or to participate –



“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl G. Jung


9] Trauma-informed care is as much about social justice as it is about healing.


The newest brochure from the National Center for Trauma Informed Care [NCTIC] is now available [lots of good info and insight]




To learn more about NCTIC, please visit: http://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/default.asp


10] Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain Imaging study finds different forms of meditation may have varying effects on key brain structure – http://www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1520


A new study has found that participating in an 8-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating.  In their report in the November issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston University (BU), and several other research centers also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.

“The two different types of meditation training our study participants completed yielded some differences in the response of the amygdala – a part of the brain known for decades to be important for emotion – to images with emotional content,” says Gaëlle Desbordes, PhD, a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and at the BU Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, corresponding author of the report.  “This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state.”


Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life.” Grenville Kleiser


11] “Mindful Healing” The effectiveness in meditation to treat an array of illnesses has led to studies of how meditation can change the brain – Health & wellness – Jan Brogan The Boston Globe “More and more studies show meditations effectiveness.”




12] Wildmind – Buddhist Meditation -There are several articles posted at this site on meditation and mindfulness in helping insomnia, pain, heart attacks and lots more, some good stuff folks.




13] Tuning in to the love that fills and surrounds you – Rick Hanson PhD http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/tuning-in-to-the-love-that-fills-and-surrounds-you


Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can’t see air, but it’s always available for you.


Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see – but it’s in you and all around you. Love is woven into your day because it’s woven into your DNA: as our ancestors evolved over the last several million years, many scientists believe that love, broadly defined, has been the primary driving force behind the evolution of the brain. Bands of early humans that were particularly good at understanding and caring for each other out-competed less cooperative and loving bands, and thereby passed on the genes of empathy, bonding, friendship, altruism, romance, compassion, and kindness – the genes, in a word, of love.


Love is not consolation, it is light.” Simon Weil


14] How Gender Stereotypes Warp Our View of DepressionBy Amanda Gardner l Health.com

Stereotypes about male and female roles may influence the way we perceive depressed people.

It’s a well-known fact that men and women who behave the same way in the exact same situation – whether it’s a job interview, a cocktail party, or a traffic stop – are sometimes perceived and treated differently based on their gender.

Something similar, it seems, may happen when men and women start to show signs of depression. A new study, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, suggests that people of both sexes are less likely to view men as being depressed and in need of professional help—even if a man’s symptoms are identical to a woman’s.



15] The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare has released its new trauma infographic How to Manage Trauma in printable format:




Mission – The mission of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is to champion opportunities that advance our members’ ability to deliver proactive and holistic healthcare services. http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/cs/about_us


16] “Stigma scares off employers” Clay Lucas Workplace Editor for The Age
Having a mental illness is a bigger barrier to employment in Australia than a physical disability, according to a new study.



Research commissioned as part of Mental Health Week, revealed a stigma around hiring people with a mental illness – half the respondents said they could be unreliable and disruptive at work.


At the last census, one in five people said they had been affected by a mental illness in the previous year.


The research highlighted a widespread negative view of mental illness that did not match reality, said Matthew Lambelle from the not-for-profit employment services provider WISE, which commissioned the report. He said a lack of understanding caused some people to avoid hiring people with a mental illness.

The study found an assumption that mental illness inhibited job performance. ”In fact the two are not linked,” Mr Lambelle said.


All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.” Albert Einstein

17] WISE – Empowerment Through Employment http://www.wiseemployment.com.au/en/about-us/wise-story/


Mission: Guiding and inspiring people to realize their potential and achieve fulfilling vocational goals.


WISE Employment is a not-for-profit organization. We empower jobseekers to find meaningful work and become self-sufficient and we help employers to find the right staff by understanding their needs and providing them with workers from diverse backgrounds.

Each year, our passionate and skilled staff assist over 10,000 people into jobs. Our services are cost-free to eligible jobseekers and employers.

Since 2001, we have invested $3.5 million of our funds into innovative projects to support the most disadvantaged in our community including people with disability, mental illness, youth, ex-offenders, refugees and Indigenous communities. WISE Employment also operates four socially-inclusive social enterprises, employing 200 people. Since 1992, we have been empowering jobseekers and employers. We believe the entire community is enriched when everyone is supported to achieve their potential.


“The circumstances of your life have uniquely qualified you to make a contribution. And if you don’t make that contribution, nobody else can make it.” – Rabbi Harold S. Kushner


18] Here’s a great book that helps to break down the barriers of stigma, discrimination and stereotypes – “Firewalkers – Madness, Beauty & Mystery




Winner of a Brimstone Award from the National Storytellers Network.

“Radically Rethinking Mental Illness” – The authors of Firewalkers, Myra Anderson, Carla Beck, Debra Knighton, Joni Michelle, Lauren Spiro, Michelle Sese-Khalid and Tracy D. Stuart chronicle the profound, turbulent, spiritual experience of living through a mental health crisis. What our society labels as “mental illness” can be a sacred quest that has the power to enrich us, reveal unknown strengths, and transform our lives.


Thanks & take care, Mike, Zsuzsi, Mary, Rachel, Lynn & Cynthia


ps. Please share this with your friends & if you have received this in error, please let me know.


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.


                                               A diagnosis is not a destiny  


The Surviving Spirit Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy – Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health


The Surviving Spirit Speakers’ Bureau


The Surviving Spirit Facebook Page


mike.skinner@survivingspirit.com603-625-2136  38 River Ledge Drive, Goffstown, NH 03045 


@SurvivinSpirit Twitter https://twitter.com/SurvivinSpirit


“BE the change you want to see in the world.” Mohandas Gandhi





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