Far be it from me –

Psychosis And The Arts

Psychosis and
the Arts
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

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Dolly Sen – Questions and Answers

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.

http://www.dollysen.com

 
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She’s Got A Ticket To Ride (But She Don’t Care)

It comes to something when a patient is asked to pay a General Practitioner to write a letter to the Department of Work and Pensions. A General Practitioner is surely there to oversee the mental wellbeing of a patient? Shouldn’t a standard letter, sent on behalf of a patient, to the DWP, or indeed any part of HMG, be sent by electronic mail, or by Royal Mail, for the cost of second class stamp? I’ve reluctantly agreed to pay £16.50 so that my GP can convey some information on my behalf. Once again, I shall think very carefully about approaching a General Practitioner for any help in relation to any aspect of my mental well being.

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From BBC Health – Avatars Help Schizophrenia Patients Talk Back To Voices

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22720248

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Making Sense Of Voices – Maastricht Interview Training

Making Sense of Voices- Maastricht Interview Training

A three day assessment skills workshop delivered jointly by Asylum Associates, Hearing Voices Network Sheffield, and the Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham.

(This training is targeted at all mental health workers, criminal justice personnel, and third sector agencies)

 

Facilitators: Pete Bullimore and Chris Tandy

Venues

The Crown Hotel, Crown Place  Harrogate, HG1 2RZ – 3rd, 4th and 5th July 2013

The Institute of Mental Health Building , Innovation Park, Triumph Road, Nottingham NG7 2TU- 17th, 18th and 19th September   2013

Wirral Mind, 90-92 Chester Street, Birkenhead CH 41 5DL- 15th, 16th and 17th October 2013

The Maastricht Interview is a semi-structured questionnaire that is used in therapy with voice hearers. It explores the experience at length and can assist voice hearers in a number of ways. It helps people overcome the shame of talking about the voices and encourages them to describe their experiences. The therapist will need to show the voice hearer that they recognise their experience by demonstrating a completely open-minded interest. By asking the right questions, in this way, the therapist can offer people the reassurance that hearing voices is in fact a well known phenomenon, enabling the voice hearer to feel properly acknowledged. The questionnaire should then facilitate discussion about the voices and confirm the reality of the experience. It is also a means of systematically mapping all aspects of the voices to gain more insight to the experience. This promotes acceptance and empowers people who hear voices.

Training Outcomes

  • Gain an understanding of the Maastricht interview for Voices.
  • Learn how to conduct the interview.
  • Undertake two interviews with voice hearers from the Hearing Voices Network
  • Write reports and develop constructs from Maastricht interviews
  • Develop a shared understanding of voices and ways to help voice hearers

 

Price £300

(Places are limited)

 

Apply now: please email Karen Sugars karen.sugars@nottshc.nhs.uk to book a place on this training

Some quotes from our previous attendees from our joint training initiatives:

‘A truly inspiring training experience. This gave me so many useful strategies ideas for working with voice hearers’

‘Logical and practical solutions for working with voices’

‘It focuses upon Romme and Escher’s ground breaking work with voices which is fantastic!’

‘Excellent trainers that consider the key implementation issues from a voice hearer and worker perspective’

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From The Independent Tuesday May 14 2013 – We need to change the way we talk about schizophrenia If we only ever talk about schizophrenia in the context of a violent murder, is it any surprise that the public think people with mental illness are dangerous?

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/we-need-to-change-the-way-we-talk-about-schizophrenia-8616022.html

 

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From The Observer Sunday 19 May 2013 – Mental illness: the claim that abuse is behind psychosis is irresponsible Oliver James’s assertions are unhelpful and risk demonising people

http://gu.com/p/3gv3y

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Professorial Lecture – Professor Gail A Hornstein -First Person Accounts of Psychosis: Challenges for Mental Health Professionals

Professorial Lecture – Professor Gail A Hornstein
First-person accounts of psychosis: challenges for mental health professionals
Friday 31 May 2013
5 for 5.30pm
Room 9130, Cantor Building, Sheffield Hallam University City Campus

Lecture supported by Sheffield Hallam University’s Department of Nursing and Sheffield Arts and Wellbeing Network

A vast gulf exists between the way medicine explains psychiatric illness and the experiences of those who suffer. Professor Hornstein’s lecture helps us to bridge that gulf, guiding us through the inner lives of those diagnosed with mental illness and emerging with nothing less than a new model for understanding mental distress, one another and ourselves. She will address the importance of listening to the accounts of those who have experienced psychosis as a central component of any mental health practice.

Gail A Hornstein is Professor of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts (USA). Her research spans the history of 20th century psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis and has been supported by the National Library of medicine, the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has compiled a bibliography of first-person narratives of madness which now lists more than 1,000 titles. Her new book, Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness (PCCS Books, UK edition), shows us how the insights of those diagnosed with mental illness can help us radically reconceive fundamental assumptions about madness and mental life. For more information on her work see http://www.gailhornstein.com/

The lecture will be introduced by Peter Bullimore, one of the Chairs of the Hearing Voices Network, and the Chair of the Paranoia Network. Peter heard his first voice aged seven, after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a child minder. Through the help of the Hearing Voices Network he was able to reclaim his life from the system. The Hearing Voices Network is a voluntary organization that is made up of people who hear voices and professionals who all share the same ethos that hearing voices is a common human experience. Peter has worked collaboratively with Manchester University for 12 years on the COPE course collaboration in psychosocial education. He also teaches at many other Universities and runs workshops internationally on voices and paranoia working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Greece.  He is currently undertaking a research project at Manchester University, examining the 10-year collaborative work between the University and the Network.

Places are free and include pre-event refreshments, but must be booked in advance. Email events@shu.ac.uk

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