Short piece by Oliver Sacks from Nov 2012 in the lead up to publication of his book “Hallucinations”.
Seeing things, hearing things, thinking things, feeling things that others don’t is what humans do- we all see, hear feel think in a unique, slightly different way, so we all do it. What’s not “there” about that?
In the language of hallucinations we hear, see something that “isn’t there” – well, just because only one person hears it, that does not mean “it” isn’t “there” – it simply means only one person hears it.
Now, of course, this can be problematic [ Saks says “hallucinations are startling” -they can be but are not always] but it is also an everyday experience, part of being alive, being conscious. Saks offers a number of examples that are either so common that we too have likely experienced it ourselves, or else that are simple enough…
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There has been much swirling debate in social media about spanking…whether or not it is okay to do it, if it makes good parenting sense, if good parents do it…and today I learned that there are get-along shirts that encapsulate upset and arguing or fighting children into a large shirt against their will as punishment.
It is truly difficult to take care of children, and many of us fall back on the parenting strategies we learned from our parents….even when or if that feels very wrong to us….because we are frustrated, have run out of ideas and we go for what we know from embedded memory.
This is an international question. As early as the 1920’s the international
http://www.un-documents.net/gdrc1924.htm community saw a need to address the treatment of children all over the world.
The UN Rights of the Child (full text here)
was born because people understood children…
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After my first experience of psychosis, I did a lot of thinking and wondering about where it came from. I visited my psychologist and we talked about all these different ideas, and put together a strategy in the aftermath. We agreed that the idea in John Watkins book Unshrinking Psychosis that there can be many different reasons for psychosis, including positive ones such as personality reorganisation, or a spiritual awakening, was a good foundation. We drew no conclusions about why I’d had the episode, and made no assumptions about what it meant. Going forwards we decided the best approach was
- For me to work on accepting the idea that I am a person who sometimes experiences psychosis as quickly, gently, and positively as possible. It can be a huge shift in self-perception and identity, and if too large, or threatening to hope and self esteem, people stay mired…
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Christopher Cook on ‘Psychosis and Spirituality’, Joint Special Interest Group for Psychosis (Durham University, 29 January 2014)
If the Museum wins, we will hold a public workshop focusing on the mid-19th century photographs taken bysociety photographer Henry Hering. Hering photographed the faces of scores of Bethlem patients, examining the resulting images in order to detect the patients’ mental health conditions through their facial expressions and features. For more on this renowned collection, see:http://bethlemheritage.wordpress.com/tag/hospital-snapshots/page/2/
Keeping the Hering collection firmly in mind, the Museum plans to work with Rankin to create a new permanent collection of portraits. The project will raise awareness of the extent of mental illness, helping to work away at prejudices by showing that it is not always clear from a person’s appearance that they are unwell.
Dr. Sarah Chaney
UCLCentre for the History of Psychological Disciplines
Vote for the Bethlem Museum to win a day with portrait photographer, Rankin!http://bit.ly/voteBethlem
(voting only open until 28 January so vote NOW and challenge mental health stigma!)
Damaging the Body: To join the mailing list for future events, visit: http://damagingthebody.org
More information about Bethlem’s Connect 10 project:
If successful in the Connect 10 public vote, the Museum would join with Rankin on a project which has its roots in a series of Victorian images in the Museum’s collection. In the mid-19th century, society photographer Henry Hering photographed the faces of scores of Bethlem patients, examining the resulting images in order to detect the patients’ mental health conditions through their facial expressions and features. The Museum holds a strong and renowned collection of these images, showing patients before and after treatment and illustrating neatly the Victorian need for categorisation of patients.
Keeping the Hering collection firmly in mind, the Museum would work with Rankin to create a new permanent collection of portraits. The project would raise awareness of the extent of mental illness, helping to work away at prejudices by showing that it is not always clear from a person’s appearance that they are unwell.
The Museum plans to run a public workshop, during which participants would learn about the history of Bethlem and its collections and be photographed by Rankin. People would also have the opportunity to learn about the skills involved in portrait photography direct from one of the acknowledged masters of the craft.
While often seen as a celebrity photographer, with H.M. The Queen, Mikhail Gorbachev, David Bowie and Madonna among countless subjects, Rankin has been involved in a number of charitable projects, aimed at confronting preconceptions. His photos for Nike were part of a global campaign raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and his most recent major exhibition portrayed people with terminal illnesses.
Victoria Northwood, Head of Archives & Museum, said “Rankin’s work resonates with us for a number of reasons. As part of a working psychiatric hospital, treating patients as well as educating and reducing the prejudices attached to mental health issues, the Museum shares several values with Rankin’s own awareness-raising projects. As we know now, mental illness cannot always be detected in people’s appearances and our project will aim to emphasise this point. Our historic photography collection is strong and it would be wonderful to be able to revisit the medium with a combination of Rankin’s skill and our contemporary values. The prospect of inviting visitors to see the new collection of photographs when the new Museum opens this autumn is particularly exciting. If you agree, please take a minute to vote for us!”
Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3BX
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Fax: 020 3228 4045
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