Thursday 27th March, 2014
@ Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre,
17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA
Speakers include: Bobby Baker, Martin Gayford, David Bell,
Wiebke Trunk, Nanna Luth & Meg Harris-Williams
FIND OUT MORE: WWW.ISPSUK.ORG | ADMIN@ISPSUK.ORG
The use of the arts in personalised recovery journeys, as well as in psychological treatment
approaches to working with psychosis, is well known in contemporary mental health practice.
In this one-day conference supported by Tate Modern, clinical and non-clinical speakers will
come together in encouraging dialogue and dispelling some of the myths that persist in
the field of psychosis and the arts, including Van Gogh’s ear.
Confirmed speakers include the acclaimed visual and performance artist Bobby
Baker, the award-winning writer Martin Gayford, the psychoanalyst David Bell and the
psychoanalytically-informed arts scholar Meg Harris-Williams, together with arts therapists,
service users, their family and friends and other specialists working with psychosis.
International gallery curators Wiebke Trunk and Nanna Luth and educators in the medical
humanities will provide a new lens through which ways of approaching the urgent UK
agenda of compassionate care can be looked at in the context of the wider contribution of the
arts for enhancing empathic mental health care.
ISPS UK Charity No: 1098909
I’ve read that you first started to hear voices at age 14, can you tell me what happened?Every Sunday the radio would play the UK top 40. I listened to it and taped the songs I liked. All of a sudden the music went quiet and a troll-like voice issued from the radio: “What do you want, Dolly? How much do you want?” My skin prickled. I shut off the radio in fear. Deep demonic laughter followed. “Can’t get rid of me. I’m yours for life now.”“Who are you?”“I am the universe. I choose whether you live or breathe.” I got up and ran out of the room. I stopped listening to the radio from then on. As the days passed, I thought maybe I just dreamed it all. But they came back and haven’t left me yet.Was it one voice, or many? … What were the voices saying?At first it was only one distinct voice with whispering voices in the background, but not long after my first experience, one voice became many. The voices were quite vicious and abusive, ordering me to kill myself, telling me I was evil and a demon, that my family were better off with me dead and that I would bring harm to them just by being alive. If there was a disaster on the TV, they told me it was my fault. They called me a whore, a slut, that my heart was rotting. Imagine hearing that day in day out, for years on end.When you heard these voices were there any images that appeared in your mind? Did these become visual hallucinations as well?Before I heard my first voices, I was seeing shadows in my room, and sensing presences behind me, or over me when I slept, so they all came together more or less. It was only days after hearing that first voice, that I began to see demonic faces. The voices felt demonic too. I was too scared to know their faces so I didn’t have any images in my mind as to what they might look like.How difficult was it to go about your daily life whilst experiencing these voices?I had no life. I couldn’t function on a day to day level. I rarely went out or communicated with my family. I had no friends, no hobbies, no work, nothing to occupy me but terror. When that happens to you, you either lash out or freeze. I froze. I became a statue for over a decade. I did nothing; I couldn’t do anything. Even when I tried to brush my teeth, the voices were telling to stab myself in the eye with a toothbrush.Do the voices feel as if they coming from inside or outside your head? For over 20 years, they came from outside my head. I even felt the breath and the body heat of the voices I heard behind me. The more I deal with why I have my voices and accept they are part of me I can’t face or are too painful, some of them move into inside my head.Does the distance of the voice change with its character (i.e. angry voices compared to soft soothing voices?) They cover all sorts of distances. Sometimes they seem far and muffled, like they are in the other room. Sometimes they feel so close, their spittle touches me and disgust me. These close ones are the ones that are characteristically negative, abusive and overpowering.Do you believe that the voices you hear are a metaphor, holding traumatic experience safely?Absolutely. The evolution of my voices were at first thinking they were demons. When I was diagnosed with psychosis, I was relieved they were not demons so welcomed a diagnosis. But as the years went on and the medication turned me into a zombie but did nothing to address WHY I was having those voices. Pills do not cure trauma or abuse. Although voices produced terror, they also saved my life. The abuse at the hands of my dad and others was so horrible that if I believed what he told me about why he was abusing me, it would have ended with my suicide. Voices took it away from my heart and head to save my soul, to turn it into metaphor so I can deal with hell in installments. My voices are the sanest part about me. I have to learn to listen to their pain. Voices tell me about the state of my soul. If the voices are telling me I am an alien, it is telling me I am feeling alienated from the human race. If they tell me I am Jesus, God or all-powerful, I know it’s because I am feeling powerless and need to address that. Whether you want to describe voices as flesh, ghost or dream, I have to listen. What has changed over the years is the power dynamic of the voices. They controlled my life for many years, now I am in the driving seat, but I understand they have to be in the passenger seat until they have reached the end of their journeys.You mention that you find it very difficult to make phone calls. Please explain more about this.Try speaking on the phone whilst listening to music or talking on your headphones, and see if you are able to do it. It is physically impossible, because the voice at the other end of the phone is also disembodied, which is the right voice to listen to in the orchestra of confusion? That’s why I think you should have more than one way to contact crisis services than a phone.Often when we hear about conditions like voice hearing it’s considered a ‘broken brain’ issue. Would you agree the issue should be considered in this way?No, because they still haven’t proved it. But what I can prove to you is that people who hear voices have a broken heart that needs healing. The more my heart heals, the less power the voices have.Tell me about some of the art works you’ve produced and the role of auditory hallucinations in the process. Do voices help you in your work? Creativity seems like an exorcism of pain. One day I will write and make art about pretty things and being middle class, but I have still some terrors to release and some ghosts to make even more invisible. Art helps me do that.
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
Before we dive into all of the wonderful resources to share from some truly amazing people, I thought I would take this time to ‘gently’ let you know of the Surviving Spirit’s presence on Facebook. We have two sections, first is our Surviving Spirit Facebook Page – where we hope you “Like Us”, but more importantly, a place to visit and learn from some of the great postings shared there – recent examples include:
Jeanne McElvaney – Recognizing the difference between ordinary memories, trauma memories, and dissociated memories can empower us ~
Rachel Grant – Today’s Blog: Embracing Yourself in Love
Misa Leonessa Garavaglia – Spiritual abuse is the misuse of a position of power and the misrepresentation of information.
And then there is our Surviving Spirit Facebook Group which is a place to visit and share what’s going on in your life, find peer support and share your creative expressions. It is a closed group, so log in and ask to join. Thanks!
Once again we are honored to share with you some helpful insight and information…and as the saying goes, “take what you like and leave the rest.”
1] Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive Dr. Howard Fradkin Foreword by Tyler Perry
Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive is an inspirational new book written to empower male survivors of sexual abuse and assault at any age to develop skills they can use to overcome the effects of their trauma and learn to thrive in their lives. Visit the pages on this website to learn more about my book.
The book is organized to reflect the critical steps I believe are necessary to heal and fully recover from sexual victimization of any form. The first part focuses on essential skills needed to begin the healing process; while the second part focuses on additional skills needed to move toward thriving. Throughout the book, I have incorporated the stories and the wisdom of a group of alumni of our weekends program, who I call the “Silence Breakers”.
Dr. Howard Fradkin – Words and Wisdom – Welcome to my website! I hope you will find inspiration, hope and healing here! I have devoted my career and my life to helping others, and I hope in the words, articles, interviews and links provided here, you will find help for yourself too. What I know to be true is that healing from sexual victimization, no matter what age it started or ended, is absolutely possible and achievable!
I have the pleasure and honor of knowing Howard for many years, dating back to when Male Survivor was first formed, back then they had a really long name, not so now, Male Survivor says it all!
Howard is the real deal….he gets it and his caring and love of helping others shines throughout this powerful book that is a testimony to hope, healing and help. His insight, knowledge and compassion speaks right to you – and that is what I felt while reading this book. I truly felt as if he was in the room talking to me directly, in a gentle and thoughtful manner – that is a wonderful gift of love that he shares, and that is not a word I throw out frivolously. His allies and friends in healing, the “Silence Breakers” also give wonderful insight and testimony on healing throughout the book.
My only ‘disagreement’ with the book pertains to the chapter on Forgiveness. I share his belief that we must learn to forgive ourselves for what was done to us…but I take exception to forgiving those who hurt us – some of us have been able to heal and thrive without having to forgive…and that is okay. That should be a personal choice and belief…
What is Male Survivor? We are committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men through support, treatment, research, education, advocacy, and activism.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love & belonging & joy— the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brené Brown
2] Thursdays @ 10am pst Svava Books answers questions in the OneHealth chat room about childhood sexual abuse.
Register free – http://sexualabusesupport.onehealth.com/ & 2:12 minute audio clip
A safe place to heal – OneHealth is a private and confidential community where you can feel safe and secure when sharing with others and managing your health goals.
A 24/7 source of community and support – Feel instant fellowship with our online community of people who share your health goals.
A set of clinical tools that work – Set and keep track of your goals, and share your experience and progress. Find online community meetings when and where you need them. Share your story and life journey with others.
“If I am overwhelmed, I may be trying to do too much. Today I will try to “Keep it simple.” Courage To Change
3] Kids At Risk Action (KARA) – Advocating for the Rights of Invisible Children
KARA is a non-profit advocacy network focusing on issues related to neglected and abused children. Founded by Mike Tikkanen, a businessman turned socially-concerned citizen, KARA works to educate individuals and communities about the need to protect the rights of children.
OUR MISSION is to advocate for the welfare of at-risk children and youth through the identification and promotion of people, programs, and policies that work.
OUR INITIATIVES include raising awareness of at-risk children by:
- sponsoring KARA Community Forums
- organizing children’s rights Community Action Networks
- offering free audiobook downloads of Invisible Children
- Contact KARA for information about public speaking engagements & workshops
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofmann
4] In mental illness, is ‘stigma’ the wrong word? How about ‘discrimination?’ Arielle Levin Becker The Connecticut Mirror
“When I had cancer, I got cards and flowers,” Karen Kangas’ sign reads. “When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I got no cards and a pink slip.”
A picture of Kangas holding the sign hangs in the state Capitol complex, part of an exhibit called “Discrimination: A Roadblock to Recovery.”
The title is no accident.
People often talk about the stigma of mental illness. But some, including Patricia Rehmer, prefer the term “discrimination.” It’s stronger. It makes people uncomfortable.
And it more accurately describes what people with mental illness face when looking for jobs and housing, in social situations, and even in some legislation that’s been proposed in recent years, said Rehmer, the state’s commissioner of mental health and addiction services.
“I always say it’s the last bastion of discrimination,” she said. “I can’t really think of another group that’s still so discriminated against.”
“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard
5] Ark of Hope for Children brings awareness of and provides emotional care for victims of child abuse, child sex trafficking and bullying (peer abuse). Ark of Hope focuses on care, habilitation and life transformation to help victims become empowered survivors.
When loving people stand in the gap with sacrificial and unconditional love, the trajectory of shattered lives can change forever. Through Ark of Hope programs we encourage local, church, state and international mobilization on behalf of abused, trafficked and bullied children.
Ark of Hope programs:
- “Removing Chains” – Providing safe online chat areas for coaching and mentoring
- “Don’t Stand Alone” – Anti-bullying collaborative effort with three other peer abuse victim support organizations
- “Chain Breakers” – Equipping for maximized, life changing results
- “Harbourage” – Rescuing child trafficking victims and placing them in our child trafficking safe homes
“Love is a great beautifier.” Louisa May Alcott
Ruth Jacobs is another great example of a Surviving Spirit who has taken her own pain and suffering and turned that into a force of greater good for helping others – please do visit her website. And her Facebook pages [ https://www.facebook.com/rujacobs & https://www.facebook.com/SoulDestructionSeries ] where there are all kinds of great sharing, resources, hope and healing.
6] Ruth Jacobs – author http://ruthjacobs.co.uk/
I write a series of novels entitled Soul Destruction, which dispel the ‘happy hooker’ myth and expose the dark world and the harsh reality of life as a call girl. My debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, will be published in 2013 by Caffeine Nights. I studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked my interest in the subject. I draw on my research and the women I interviewed for inspiration. I also have firsthand experience of many of the topics I write about such as posttraumatic stress disorder, and drug and alcohol addiction. My short charity publication, In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl, is available on Amazon.
In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl is available to download from Amazon. All royalties will be donated to Beyond the Streets, a charity helping women exit prostitution. The publication is 77p from Amazon UK here & 99c from Amazon US here. It is also available worldwide.
“Today I will make use of the precious gift of imagination. Thus I will turn away from negativity, self-doubt, and fear, and celebrate life instead.” Courage To Change
Some great news to share from my friend and fellow advocate and member of Males 4 Trauma Recovery, William Kellibrew of the William Kellibrew Foundation [WKF]
As the national conversation about violence prevention continues it is important that the voices of those who have been affected are heard.
Each month we will share at least one story in order to build awareness, educate policy makers and help shape the public policy conversation.
1. Send an email to – info@TheWKFoundation.org
Include: Name, Age, Location, Your Story
2. Be prepared to record a 3-minute video sharing your story.
– What happened?
– How did you feel then and now?
– How are you coping?
– What do you hope will be done to prevent this type of violence in the future?
– What do you think is an important message for others to take away from your story?
We start with a courageous woman from Kansas, Linda Oktach, whose husband was murdered in 1968 on Thanksgiving Day. In response to Newtown, Linda tells her story of survival; raising her 22 month old son who survived the day she lost her husband. It is stories like Linda’s that give us hope. Thank you for your courage Linda. Linda now lives in Kenya.
WKF Stories Restoring Lives: Linda Oktach – YouTube 4:54 minutes
“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” Hubert Humphrey
How do people deal with difficult events that change their lives? The death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness, terrorist attacks and other traumatic events: these are all examples of very challenging life experiences. Many people react to such circumstances with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty.
Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enables them to do so? It involves resilience, an ongoing process that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps.
This article is intended to help readers with taking their own road to resilience. The information within describes resilience and some factors that affect how people deal with hardship. Much of the article focuses on developing and using a personal strategy for enhancing resilience.
“The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.” Shakti Gawain
9] 10 Journaling Tips to Help You Heal, Grow and Thrive – Loran Hills @ Tiny Buddha
Keeping a journal has many positive benefits. Journaling can help with personal growth and development. By regularly recording your thoughts you will gain insight into your behaviors and moods.
Here’s a forum where you can share your own video of speaking out regarding sexual abuse as these courageous folks have done.
“To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.” Samuel Johnson
11] Rethinking mental health: Local practitioners, groups reject mainstream treatment – Tracy Rose, Mountain Xpress Asheville, NC
Asheville psychiatrist Daniel Johnson didn’t set out to transform his profession. But he’s now part of a growing movement, both locally and nationally, that’s challenging the most fundamental assumptions about mental illness.
Dr. Johnson launched a private practice here in 2010 and, like most psychiatrists, he prescribed medications for his patients. But a controversial article he read nearly a year and a half ago got him thinking and eventually led to a profound shift in the nature of his work (see sidebar, “By the Book(s)”).
“Unfortunately, and sadly, more often than not, medications do more harm than good,” Johnson now maintains. “And of course I had contributed to all that in my own practice. I had a lot of soul searching and reckoning to do on a personal level.”
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Oscar Wilde
Ryan Comins is a graduate of Oakland University. In December 2012 Ryan received his Bachelor of Science and Business Administration with a major in marketing and a minor in English. While attending school, he was a member of the marketing honor society Alpha Mu Alpha. Ryan was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder (otherwise not specified autism) at age 12. Through use social media and internet radio, Ryan uses his eloquent way with words to help raise autism awareness.
“If I can see pain in your eyes then share with me your tears. If I can see joy in your eyes then share with me your smile.” Santosh Kalwar
13] How Child Abuse Primes the Brain for Future Mental Illness – By Maia Szalavitz TIME Magazine – Health & Family
Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.
Now, in the largest study yet to use brain scans to show the effects of child abuse, researchers have found specific changes in key regions in and around the hippocampus in the brains of young adults who were maltreated or neglected in childhood. These changes may leave victims more vulnerable to depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the study suggests.
& Study: How Chronic Stress Can Lead to Depression Maia Szalavitz
“They do not want to hear what their children suffer. They’ve made the telling of the suffering itself taboo.” From Possessing the Secret of Joy, by Alice Walker
14] America Has an Incest Problem – Mia Fontaine The Atlantic
People are rightly horrified by abuse scandals at Penn State and in the Catholic church. But what about children who are molested by their own family members?
Last year offered plenty of moments to have a sustained national conversation about child sexual abuse: the Jerry Sandusky verdict, the BBC’s Jimmy Savile, Horace Mann’s faculty members, and a slew of slightly less publicized incidents. President Obama missed the opportunity to put this issue on his second-term agenda in his inaugural speech.
Child sexual abuse impacts more Americans annually than cancer, AIDS, gun violence, LGBT inequality, and the mortgage crisis combined—subjects that Obama did cover.
Had he mentioned this issue, he would have been the first president to acknowledge the abuse that occurs in the institution that predates all others: the family. Incest was the first form of institutional abuse, and it remains by far the most widespread.
“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” Herbert Ward
Kudos to Mia Fontaine for writing this…I would take this a step further and add in child abuse in all of its forms – the silent epidemic that is causing so much suffering throughout our world…someday this silence will end, till then, we all continue to do what we do in our respective advocacy endeavors…and thank you for that.
Take care, Mike, Mary, 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
firstname.lastname@example.org 603-625-2136 38 River Ledge Drive, Goffstown, NH 03045
“BE the change you want to see in the world.” Mohandas Gandhi
In a world gone awry, art can become a welcome release from your troubles and is a very important part of healing from trauma. Art is both fun and relaxing and a great stress reliever. Art can be utilized as a method not only to express your deepest thoughts and feelings, but as a tool to get to know yourself better and to discover your hidden talents. Create art for art’s sake. Art does not always have to be for public consumption, competition or for material gain. Art should definitely not be used as a way for others to analyze your psyche. If your art is very personal, it may be best to use discretion and share it only with trusted friends or family. Ask others you know for their personal perspectives on art, but do not let them discourage you from exploring new modes of personal expression. Make it your goal to try your hand at something new and different that you’ve never done before.
When determining what types of art that you would like to pursue, you may consider exploring the world of art by visiting your local community center or art gallery. Take a good look around your community to get a sense of where your interests may lie. Art takes many forms, such as sculptures in the park, flower gardens, rock formations, and paintings, drawings or photos hanging on the walls of Churches, libraries or local restaurants. Other valuable resources for various ideas are craft and fabric stores, bookstores, or art supply stores. Taking a walk in the woods or walking along the beach will stir your imagination and may bring out the collector in you. Shells, rocks, petrified wood and other assorted nature items are great resources for craft projects like mobiles or collages. The more you observe your environment, the more you will become attuned to the many art forms available to you. Even baking cakes or cookies can become an art form!
It is always helpful to take a class to learn a new skill and art is no exception. There are many opportunities for classes through art centers, community colleges, or even at craft stores, depending on the level of your interest and skill. If finances are a problem, then consider checking out art books or video tapes at the nearest library. There are innumerable experts who have written how-to books on many different art forms, such as jewelry, woodworking, quilting, computer graphics, etc. You can learn almost anything you want to know in self-help books. If you live in a large city, there are large Institutes of Art which are open to the public where you can tour exhibits by world-renowned artists. These displays change with the seasons and are full of amazing works of art that bring fresh ideas no matter how many times you visit.
Find a relaxed atmosphere such as a coffee shop or reading room and bring a spiral notebook or journal with you to jot down notes. Challenge yourself to write a short poem or song on something that is of value to you. Give yourself some personal time to reflect on your creative goals.
Contemplate such questions as:
What types of art do I like most? Least?
What methods of art would I like to learn?
What is my primary interest? Secondary?
What subjects would I like to concentrate on most? Least?
What points do I want to convey?
What is the best way to express a particular point?
What motivates me to create art the most? Least?
What are my future goals?
Write your own questions related to art and write down your answers in your notebook. Your questions and answers will change over time. Keeping an art journal is a good way to measure your progress. If you are proficient in a particular skill which you would like to share, you may consider teaching a class or volunteering with a non-profit agency which specializes in the healing arts. My challenge to you is to embrace your inner child by doing any creative activity which brings you joy and which helps you to focus on the present moment.
Denise Fletcher is the author of “A Thread of Hope” available through Chipmunka Publishing.
By Denise Fletcher © 2012
About the Author: Denise Fletcher is a freelance writer/artist. She finds healing in the arts and writing is her passion. Her creative works have been published through Kaleidoscope, Hopekeeper’s Magazine, Open Minds Quarterly, Bloomington Art Center and other numerous venues. She is the author of “A Thread of Hope” and her latest book, “A House With A Broken Heart” is available for sale on Amazon for Kindle.
Visit the book blog at: www.ahousewithabrokenheart.wordpress.com