Far be it from me –

More Harm Than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic – a one-day international conference at the University of Roehampton

More Harm Than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic


a one-day international conference at the University of Roehampton

The Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry invites you to join global leaders in the critical psychiatry movement for a one-day conference which will address an urgent public health issue: the iatrogenic harm caused by the over-prescription of psychiatric medications.

There is clear evidence that these drugs cause more harm than good over the long term, and can damage patients and even shorten their lives.  Yet why are these medications so popular?  What harms are they causing?  What can be done to address the problem?

This event brings together key experts from both sides of the Atlantic to debate these issues, and we invite you to join the discussion (see the programme below).

TO BOOK YOUR PLACE PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK: http://estore.roehampton.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=172&prodid=217

Places are limited – early booking is advised!

When:18 September 2015Where: Whitelands College, University of Roehampton, London SW15 5PU (how to find us)

Cost: £85 for delegates, £28 for students, patients / service users and their families (includes lunch)

*** £70 early bird rate for delegates until 30 June! ***

This conference counts for 7 hours of CPD and we can provide CPD certificates on the day.

Speakers and panellists include:

whitaker 4x3Robert Whitaker

Robert Whitaker is an award-winning science journalist & author, a former fellow of the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University in Boston and founder of the influential e-zine madinamerica.com. He is is the author of five books: Mad in America, The Mapmaker’s Wife, On the Laps of Gods, Anatomy of an Epidemic and most recently Psychiatry Under the Influence (with Lisa Cosgrove). His newspaper and magazine articles on the mentally ill and the pharmaceutical industry have garnered several national awards, including a George Polk Award for medical writing and a National Association of Science Writers Award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for the Boston Globe on the abuse of mental patients in research settings was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.


Peter C. Gøtzsche is Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre.  He graduated as a master of science in biology and chemistry in 1974 and as a physician 1984. He is a specialist in internal medicine; worked with clinical trials and regulatory affairs in the drug industry 1975-1983, and at hospitals in Copenhagen 1984-95. He co-founded The Cochrane Collaboration in 1993 and established The Nordic Cochrane Centre the same year. He became professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis in 2010 at the University of Copenhagen. Peter has published more than 70 papers in “the big five” (BMJ, Lancet, JAMA, Ann Intern Med and N Engl J Med) and his scientific works have been cited over 15,000 times. He is the author of four books, most recently Deadly Psychiatry and Organised Denial (to be published Sep 2015).

Peter B 4x3Dr Peter Breggin

Peter R. Breggin, MD, has been called “The Conscience of Psychiatry” for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field. His scientific and educational work has provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and ECT, and leads the way in promoting more caring and effective therapies. He has authored dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty books including the bestsellerTalking Back to Prozac (1994, with Ginger Breggin), Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime (2008), and Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families (2013). Dr. Breggin acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice and product liability suits, often involving adverse drug effects such as suicide, violence, brain injury, death, and tardive dyskinesia. Dr. Breggin is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former full-time consultant at NIMH. His private practice is in Ithaca, New York where he treats adults, couples, and families with children.

John-Abraham-4x3Prof John Abraham

John Abraham is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine at King’s College, London. Initially trained as a mathematician, he worked with the Radical Statistics arm of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science and then earned three postgraduate degrees: MSc in Science Policy Studies, MA in Sociology and DPhil in Politics. He has published widely in sociology and politics, including four books on sociology of education (e.g. Divide and School: Gender and Class Dynamics in Comprehensive Education) and the politics of food (e.g. Food and Development: The Political Economy of Hunger and the Modern Diet). However, most recently his research has focused entirely on the sociology and politics of pharmaceuticals innovation, safety, efficacy, regulation and cost-effectiveness, especially in the UK, EU and US from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

jmoncrieff 200x262

Dr Joanna Moncrieff

Joanna Moncrieff is a Senior Lecturer in psychiatry at University College London and a practising consultant psychiatrist. She has written articles critical of various psychiatric drug treatments, including lithium, antidepressants and neuroleptics. Joanna has also written about the adverse influence of the pharmaceutical industry on psychiatry. She is also one of the founders and the co-chair of the Critical Psychiatry Network.  Joanna’s research consists of an analysis of all aspects of psychiatric drug treatment. She is interested in the nature and function of diagnosis in modern psychiatric practice, and in the history, politics and philosophy of psychiatry more generally. She has also written three books: The Bitterest Pills, published by Palgrave Macmillan, The Myth of the Chemical Cure, published by Palgrave Macmillan, and A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Drugs, published by PCCs books.


Prof Peter Kinderman

Peter Kinderman is  Professor of Clinical Psychology and Head of the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, with over 200 academic staff (32 of them professors) comprising psychiatrists, general practitioners, clinical and other applied psychologists, sociologists, public health physicians, nurses, sociologists and academics. Peter Kinderman’s research activity and clinical work has involved studying serious and enduring mental health problems such as paranoid beliefs and hallucinations, psychological models of mental health and the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions, alternatives to traditional psychiatric and diagnostic approaches and how psychological science can assist public policy in health and social care.  Peter Kinderman has an honorary position as Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Mersey Care NHS Trust. He is currently a member of the UK Office for National Statistics’ Technical Advisory Group for the Measuring National Well-being Programme, and served twice as Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology.  Peter is also President elect of the British Psychological Society.

james-davies2 200x262Dr James Davies

James Davies is a co-founder of CEP. He graduated from the University of Oxford in 2006 with a PhD in social and medical anthropology. He is a senior lecturer in social anthropology and psychotherapy at the University of Roehampton and is a practicing psychotherapist, having worked for MIND and the NHS.

James has written widely in academe and has delivered lectures at many universities including Harvard, Oxford, Brown, UCL, Columbia (New York), and The New School (New York). James has also written for The Times, The New Scientist, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Harvard Divinity Bulletin and Salon. He is author of three books including Cracked: why psychiatry is doing more harm than good (2013).

8.45am                                Registration9am – 9:45am                     Introduction followed by James Davies: The origins of the DSM

9:45am – 10:30am             Robert Whitaker: Our psychiatric drug epidemic, a historical overview

10:30am                             Questions

10.45am                             Coffee

11am                                   Peter C Gøtzsche: Why few patients benefit from the drugs and many are harmed

11.45am – 12.30pm            Peter Breggin: How to practice psychiatry without drugs

12.30pm                              Questions

12.45pm – 1.45pm             Lunch

1.45pm – 2.15pm                Peter Breggin: Chronic brain impairment and psychiatric drug withdrawal

2.15pm – 2.45pm               Robert Whitaker: ADHD, changing the child instead of the environment

2.45pm – 3.15pm               Prof John Abraham: The misadventures of pharmaceutical regulation

3.15pm – 3.30pm               Questions

3.30pm – 4pm                    Coffee

4pm – 5.30pm                    Panel discussion: “Prescriptions for change”  Chair: Peter Kinderman  Discussants: Prof John Abraham, Prof Peter Breggin, Prof Peter Gøtzsche, Dr Joanna Moncrieff, Prof Lord Patel of Bradford, Robert Whitaker

TO BOOK YOUR PLACE PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK: http://estore.roehampton.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=172&prodid=217

Places are limited – early booking is advised!

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Good Enough Psychiatry – 2 July 2013, London

Posted on March 27, 2013 by Rai

What makes psychiatrists effective for people who experience psychosis?

A joint one day conference for psychiatrists, for people who are treated by psychiatrists and for people who work with them or commission their services – hosted by ISPS UK and RCPsych Medical Psychotherapy Faculty.

Speakers and chair: Kevin Healy, Jen Kilyon, David Kingdon, Rose McCabe, Brian Martindale, Carine Minne, John Read, Elisabeth Svanholmer

Topics: What makes a good psychiatrist?; Experiencing psychiatric care; Ways of talking about psychotic experience; Cognitive therapy for psychosis or just clinical practice; Psychotherapeutic aspects of routine psychiatric encounters; Continuity in discontinuous worlds

Summary: Psychiatrists affect people with psychosis not just through the treatments they prescribe, but through their everyday interactions with patients and colleagues, and through the ways in which they understand and discuss psychosis and its causes. The ‘good enough’ mother described by psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott was ordinary, imperfect and busy – and also able to support her child to reach their fullest potential.

This conference will explore what it may mean to be ‘good enough’ as a psychiatrist.


ISPS UK members: £115

Non-members: £145


Unwaged service users and family: £40 (Please contact the office for availability of £40 places before paying on line)

Please also enquire about free places

Download: Good Enough Psychiatry Poster | Programme and Application Form


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This One Is For The Mental Health Community – By Richard Bentall

From Richard Bentall:

Last week, Dr Frank Hirth of King’s College London was on Radio 4 saying that his research into the neural circuitry of the fruit fly might help us understand neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia. To cut a long story short, I got copied into some correspondence about this between Dr Hirth and a colleague and was moved to join in as follows:

Dear Frank,

My friend and colleague Dave Pilgrim forwarded me your email to him, which I feel moved to reply to. I am copying in various colleagues who are as concerned as I am about the naive biological reductionism that seems to be dominating media discussions of mental health these days. Briefly, the problems with this view when applied to ‘schizophrenia’ are:

(i) Schizophrenia is a meaningless construct

There is no syndrome of schizophrenia and nobody can agree on who is schizophrenic. To my knowledge, no statistical study has ever identified a cluster of symptoms that correspond to the Kraepelinian concept or its subsequent revisions. Most recent studies have converged on a multidimensional model that incorporates all psychosis diagnoses (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, delusional disorder, depression with psychotic features etc) within five dimensions of positive symptoms, negative symptoms, cognitive dysfunction, depression and mania/excitability, or even more complex structural models (see Demjaha, A., et al. (2009). Combining dimensional and categorical representation of psychosis: the way forward for DSM-V and ICD-11? Psychological Medicine, 39, 1943-1955 and, one of my own papers, Reininghaus, U., Priebe, S., & Bentall, R. P. (in press). Testing the psychopathology of psychosis: Evidence for a general psychosis dimension. Schizophrenia Bulletin, available online). In recent field trials, the proposed DSM-V criteria for schizophrenia generated a derisory kappa of 0.46, showing that clinicians working with a precise definition of the disorder and following a diagnostic interview often could not agree on who was schizophrenic and who was not (Regier, D. A., et al. (2013). DSM-5 field trials in the United States and Canada, Part II: Test-retest reliability of selected categorical diagnoses. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170, 59-70)!

(ii) Heritability coefficients are misleading

It is often forgotten that heritability coefficients are, actually, just fancy correlation coefficients. We all know, or should know, that correlation does not necessarily prove causality. Heritability coefficients are statements about populations and not individuals so that it is wildly misleading to suggest that high heritability = mostly genetically caused (for a detailed discussion of this, see Bentall, R. P. (2009). Doctoring the mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail. London: Penguin.).

In fact, precisely because heritability coefficients are correlations which attempt to parse up the variance in a trait to genetic and environmental causes, low variance in the environment leads to inflation of the apparent effects of genes. This is why, for example, IQ is highly heritable in middle class families (where environmental variation is low) but very low in working class families (where environmental variation is high) (Turkheimer, E., et al. (2003). Socioeconomic status modifies heritability of IQ in young children. Psychological Science, 14, 623-628). Also, heritability coefficients assume an additive model of genes and environment, which is wildly implausible given what we know know about how genes work. Again, assuming an additive model when there are G x E interactions leads to massive inflation of heritability and an underestimate of environmental effects (Dickins, W. T., & Flynn, J. R. (2001). Heritability estimates versus large environmental effects: The IQ paradox resolved. Psychological Review, 108, 346-369). This is probably why, as you know, molecular estimates of heritability are generally much lower than those based on the methods of classical genetics. The ‘missing’ heritability in these studies is probably phantom heritability.

Incidentally, you will also know from the genetic studies that you cite, that the consensus amongst geneticists is now that many common alleles (perhaps many hundreds) probably each confer a tiny risk of all kinds of severe mental illness. Although some CNVs have much higher association with psychosis, they account for only a small proportion of patients and are also associated with intellectual disabilities and autism (Owen, M. J. (2012). Implications of genetic findings for understanding schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 38, 904-907. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbs103). This is further evidence, if ever it was needed, that schizophrenia is a meaningless construct and confirms the impossibility of devising a genetic test for the disorder.

(iii) There is massive evidence that environmental factors are causal in severe mental illness

The implications of ii above are that you can’t estimate environmental influences from heritability estimates – you have to look for them and measure them in their own right. Recent studies have pointed to a wide range of environmental factors associated with psychosis. These include social disadvantage, migration, living in cities and various forms of victimisation. I attach a recent meta-analysis I conducted on the evidence linking childhood adversity to psychosis (Varese, F., et al. (2012). Childhood adversities increase the risk of psychosis: A meta-analysis of patient-control, prospective and cross-sectional cohort studies. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 38, 661–671. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbs050.) The bare odds ratio between childhood trauma was stable across methodologies (retrospective/prospective) and came in at about 3, much higher than any association with common alleles. More importantly, there is evidence of a dose response effect, with ORs climbing to around 50 for children who have been multiply traumatised. Reaction in the psychiatric community has sometimes been bizarre, with convoluted attempts to explain away the data (see a recent editorial I wrote about this, also attached).

(iv) Brain studies do not provide clear evidence of neurodevelopmental disorder in psychosis

The evidence linking the basal ganglia to psychosis is far from clear cut. The best evidence is from response to antipsychotics, but recent studies suggest that only about 20% of patients show a genuine clinical response (Marques, T. R., et al. (2011). The different trajectories of antipsychotic response: antipsychotics versus placebo. Psychological Medicine, 41, 1481-1488). In any case, abnormal basal ganglia activity could just as likely be attributed to environmental factors – animal studies show that chronic victimisation leads to sensitisation of dopamine pathways in this part of the brain (Selten, J.-P., & Cantor-Graae, E. (2005). Social defeat: Risk factor for psychosis? British Journal of Psychiatry, 187, 101-102).

Current structural and functional neuroimaging studies of psychosis are probably not to be trusted for a variety of complex methodological reasons (Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2011). Excess significance bias in the literature on brain volume abnormalities. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68, 773-780; Button et al. (2013), Power failure: Why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, published online 10 April 2013; doi:10.1038/nrn3475 – this study estimated that the median statistical power of 461 individual fMRI studies contributing to 41 separate meta-analyses was 8%!), not least the emerging evidence that drugs affect brain structure (Ho, B.-C.,et al. (2011). Long-term antipsychotic treatment and brain volumes. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68, 128-137).

In any case, the observed abnormalities could well be the consequence of social and environmental factors (Hoy, K., et al. (2011). Childhood trauma and hippocampal and amygdalar volumes in first–episode psychosis. Schizophrenia Bulletin. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbr085).

(v) A narrow neurodevelopmental approach is damaging to patients

There is little evidence that the biological approach to psychiatry is benefiting patients. Outcomes for patients suffering from ‘schizophrenia’ have not improved since the Victorian age and an increasing number of people are disabled by psychiatric conditions. This is precisely the opposite to what has happened in physical medicine, where genuine advances have led to improved outcomes and reduced disability (see my Doctoring the Mind, and also Whitaker, R. (2005). Anatomy of an epidemic: Psychiatric drugs and the astonishing rise of mental illness in America. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 7, 23-35). Just as importantly, although it is often assumed by doctors that promoting a biological understanding of psychosis will reduce stigma, empirical research provides strong evidence that the opposite is the case, and that biological models actually promote stigma (Read, J., et al.(2006) Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 114, 303-318; Angermeyer, M. C., et al. (2011). Biogenetic explanations and public acceptance of mental illness: systematic review of population studies. British Journal of Psychiatry, 199, 367-372.)

The claim that biological research (on flies or whatever) will one day lead to a cure for schizophrenia is a common rhetorical trick designed to gain publicity and guarantee grant funding. I have no problem with research on the CNS of flies, which seems valuable in its own right. But linking flies to schizophrenia (whatever that is) is really about self-promotion and is damaging to the interests of patients.

Sincerely etc.

Richard Bentall

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Normalising The Experiences of Voices, Visions & Paranoia – Two Day Skills Based Workshop


Normalising the Experiences of Voices, Visions & Paranoia
Two-day skills based workshop delivered jointly by Paranoia Network UK , Hearing Voices Network, Sheffield, and the Institute of Mental Health .
(This workshop is targeted at all mental health workers, criminal justice personnel, third sector agencies and people who experience voices, visions and paranoia)
The Quaker Meeting House, 22 School Lane , Liverpool L1 3BT – 5th and 6th  September 2013
                                        Facilitators: Pete Bullimore and Chris Tandy
Workshop Content
Day 1
·         The problem with diagnosis
  • Making sense of paranoia
  • The three stages of paranoia
  • Making sense of ‘delusion’
  • Trauma and paranoia
Day 2
  • History of understanding voices and visions using a psychiatric perspective
  • The difficulty with diagnosis
  • Limitations of traditional therapy
  • The three stages of voices
  • Trauma and unusual experiences
  • Understanding voices and visions
  • Helpful approaches
Workshop Outcomes
Day 1
  • Gain a contemporary understanding of paranoia and other alternative beliefs.
  • Gain a critical understanding of current bio-medical constructs of paranoia.
  • Construct a collaborative understanding of paranoia with service users in a respectful, ethical and therapeutic manner.
  • Understand the potential connection between trauma and paranoia.
Day 2
·         Take a critical and thoughtful     perspective on traditional ways of understanding voice hearing and visions.
·         Understand the potential pitfalls of the claims made from other therapies.
·         Take a respectful and ethical approach to the experience of voice hearing and visions.
·         Understand the potential connection between trauma and voice hearing and visions.
·         Develop new ways of talking to and working with people who experience voices and visions.
Some quotes of previous attendees from these workshops:
 ‘A truly inspiring training experience. This gave me so many useful strategies ideas for working with voice hearers’
‘Gained a really good understanding of ways to work with someone with Paranoia’
‘The concepts of frozen terror and the trapped trauma model have made me revaluate how I work with people in practice’.
 ‘Excellent trainers who have the expertise of lived experience and working across a broad range of mental health practice settings’’
Costs (for both days): Full time employed £150, Part-time £60, Unwaged £30
Apply now: please email Karen Sugars karen.sugars@nottshc.nhs.uk 
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Events At Nottingham

Tue 12 and Wed 13 February, 6-9pm, Nottingham

Anti-Psychiatry and Its Legacies, Nottingham Contemporary

Programme of screenings and discussions in the context of the exhibition Piero Gilardi, Collaborative Effects.

Piero Gilardi’s work with marginalized communities, including those confined to mental hospitals, was influenced by Italian psychiatrist Franco Basaglia (1924-80). Alongside Michel Foucault, R.D. Laing, Felix Guattari and Thomas Szasz, Basaglia contributed to the diverse foundations of the anti-psychiatry movement; he argued that all asylums should be replaced by open therapeutic communities, a controversial position which provoked both mental health reform and inspired socially-activist approaches to artistic practice.

Over two evenings, a programme of screenings and discussions focuses on different national contexts involved in the development of Anti-Psychiatry and questions its status as an interdisciplinary critical legacy bridging philosophy with creative and clinical practice.

Tuesday 12 February, 6 – 9pm
Free, The Space at Nottingham Contemporary

6pm Dora Garcia The Deviant Majority, From Basaglia to Brazil (2010, 34’)
Garcia’s film forms part of her ongoing investigation of the political potential of marginal positions. It is structured around encounters with three organisations: Accademia della Follia (Academy of Madness), the Trieste Psychiatric Hospital’s theatre company; Carmen Roll, a former member of the German Socialist Patients’ Collective; and the Freaked on the Scene Theatre of the Oppressed, Rio de Janeiro.

7pm Panel Discussion
With contributions from John Foot, Professor of Modern Italian History, UCL. Foot is currently leading a project focused on Basaglia and the closure of mental asylums in Italy. David Reggio, Kingston University/Universidade Comunitária da Região de Chapecó. Reggio has worked within institutional psychiatry at the renowned La Borde clinic and with the anti-psychiatry movement in Brazil. Howard Caygill, Professor Of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University. Caygill’s research interests include philosophy and psychiatry as well as contemporary European philosophy, ethics and theories of resistance.

Wednesday 13 February, 6 – 9pm

Free, The Space at Nottingham Contemporary

6pm Screening: Luke Fowler, Bogman Palmjaguar (2007, 30’)

The subject of Fowler’s film is a trained conservationist and certified paranoid schizophrenic who is fighting a legal battle against this diagnosis. Featuring discussions with psychiatrist Leon Redler (a former colleague of R.D. Laing), this is a film about the injustices of contemporary psychiatric practice and also a portrait of the Flow Country, a remote area of rare blanket bog and wetland in Northern Scotland.

7pm Panel discussion

With contributions from Duncan Double, Consultant psychiatrist Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and founding member of The UK Critical Psychiatry Network, a platform for debate, discussion, lobbying and publication to critique the contemporary psychiatric system.Alastair Morgan, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, Sheffield Hallam University. Morgan’s perspective encompasses critical theory and clinical practice, having worked as a qualified nurse in community adult mental health with marginalized and excluded groups. Angela Woods, Durham University. An inter-disciplinary medical humanities researcher and author of The Sublime Object of Psychiatry: Schizophrenia in Clinical and Cultural Theory.

The events are free – but we recommend booking online in advance:

To register for Part I, Tuesday 12th February: http://ncantipsychfullevening1.eventbrite.com/#
To register for Part II, Wednesday 12th February: http://ncantipsychfullevening2.eventbrite.com/#




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Applications Are Invited For The Position of Associate Editor, Journal Of Psychiatric And Mental Health Nursing

We are seeking applications for the position of Associate Editor within one of the leading international
psychiatric and mental health nursing journals.
The Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing is an international, peer-reviewed publication
providing a forum for the publication of original contributions that lead to the advancement of psychiatric
and mental health nursing practice. It publishes papers which reflect developments in knowledge,
attitudes and skills, and integration of these into practice. Detailed information about the journal can be
found at www.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/jpm.
The successful candidate for the position of Associate Editor will be recognized internationally for his
or her academic and research achievements and will have an impressive track record of publications
and presentations at conferences. The ideal candidate will possess the following skills and knowledge:
 Sound scientific judgment
 Broad knowledge of psychiatric and mental health nursing on an international level
 Awareness of trends and standards within knowledge dissemination
 Excellent written and verbal communication
 Ability to work to tight deadlines
 Previous editorial board and reviewer experience on nursing journals
The main functions within this role are: manuscript handling and quality control, strategic
development, and journal promotion. The post involves working closely with the Publisher and the
Applicants should note that this position requires a weekly commitment of time, with additional time for
meetings. The Associate Editor can be based in any international location. The successful candidate will
start work on the journal in January 2013, and appointment will be for a three year term. There is an
honorarium available for this position.
Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a short assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of
the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, and an accompanying letter outlining the skills
you will bring to this position.
A description of the role is available on request. Please send your application, in confidence, to:
Rosie Ledger, Wiley-Blackwell, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.
Email to rledger@wiley.com
Applications to arrive no later than 30 November 2012

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Making Sense Of Unusual Experiences: Voices, Visions and Paranoia


A two-day skills based workshop delivered jointly by Paranoia Network UK, Hearing Voices Network, Sheffield, and the Institute of Mental Health.
14 and 15 November 2012
Duncan Macmillan House, Mapperley,
10 and 11 December 2012
Bevan House, Springwell Road,
Facilitators: Pete Bullimore, Chris Tandy and Kieran Fahy
Workshop Content
Day 1
The problem with diagnosis
Making sense of paranoia
The three stages of paranoia
Making sense of ‘delusion’
Trauma and paranoia
Day 2
History of understanding voices and visions using a psychiatric perspective
The difficulty with diagnosis
Limitations of traditional therapy
The three stages of voices
Trauma and unusual experiences
Understanding voices and visions
Helpful approaches
Workshop Outcomes
Day 1
Gain a contemporary understanding of paranoia and other alternative beliefs.
Gain a critical understanding of current bio-medical constructs of paranoia.
Construct collaborative understanding of paranoia with service users in a respectful, ethical and therapeutic manner.
Understand the potential connection between trauma and paranoia.
Day 2
Take a critical and thoughtful perspective on traditional ways of understanding voice hearing and visions.
Understand the potential pitfalls of the claims made from other therapies.
Take a respectful and ethical approach to the experience of voice hearing and visions.
Understand the potential connection between trauma and voice hearing and visions.
Develop new ways of talking to and working with people who experience voices and visions.
This workshop is targeted at all mental health workers, criminal justice personnel, third sector agencies and people who experience voices, visions and paranoia.
Costs are £10 (non-waged), £30 (part-time employed), and £75 (waged).
Apply now:
Suzanne Howard, Workshop Administrator, 01777 247284, mobile 0791 7837430 and email suzanne.howard@nottshc.nhs.uk



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Becoming Psychotic –


If you ask me what has been the most terrifying experience in my life so far I’ll say without hesitation, suffering an acute psychotic episode in my thirties.
This didn’t just happen. I’d grown up in a dysfunctional family, experienced depression in my teens following the death of my grandmother, gone on to marry an abusive man and experienced rape and domestic violence.   When I found the courage to walk away I only took 4 weeks off work.   I cried for most of that time and then returned to work and tried to carry on as normal.   Bottling up my feelings did not help and my anxiety levels rocketed and some time later on a week’s leave, I found myself in a state of terror, alone in my house   I felt on edge. I ate very little.   I hardly slept.. I stayed dressed as I was so full of energy.   My terror increased as I started to experience visual and auditory hallucinations. My imagination was in overdrive.   I opened the back door to be physically knocked back by a rushing crimson and gold tornado hurtling towards me, such was the power of my mind.   I saw all kinds of sinister meanings in the newspaper headlines and thought the editorial was about me.  I imagined there was a nuclear war going on around me.   I thought the house would explode the next time I opened the front door.
I hallucinated about a Fabergé egg fashioned in gold and filigree and black and one point this opened into two halves and I had the feeling I was at the mid point in something.   During this hallucination I was on the phone and I suddenly started to sing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina while pivoting from foot to foot.  I was on a high;  the energy rush was amazing yet the extreme terror I experienced was suffocating.  Some of the hallucinations were in brilliant colour and music played all over my body.  Red and green waves of colour shimmered all around the room . I had regressed to a child like state.  Yet I would lapse into fluent French or German. I thought the chimney was on fire and rang the fire brigade who came to check it and said it was fine.  A friend phoned me, realised how ill I was and phoned a family member  who came to see me and stayed overnight with me.   The next morning my GP came to see me.
I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital later that day. For the first eleven days I refused all food and drink as I believed myself to be dead or in metamorphosis.   My life was thought to be in danger and I was sectioned.  The psychiatrist told my family he was saving my life rather than my sanity.   Ironically I did start to eat and drink voluntarily almost immediately after I was sectioned.   I was still catatonic and mute.   My eyes were dead and there was no light in them.
Flames and fires featured a lot in my hallucinations . The energy rush of the psychosis was quite incredible, almost orgasmic, but in a sinister sort of way.  Some of the imagery will stay in my mind forever –distorted bodies trapped in a huge net at the bottom of the sea, the collapse of an oil rig, of Siamese twins and severed limbs. I saw brightly coloured pictures and songs played n my mind particularly those by Marvin Gaye . I’d visualise extravagant Busby Berkeley musicals and sometimes the chattering of nonsense words in my mind became exhausting.
I was given a cocktail of anti psychotic and anti depressant medication which made me very sleepy
Every day in the psychiatric unit felt like a lifetime.  It is hard to express exactly what it feels like to experience an acute psychotic episode.  The underlying feeling is of sheer terror . I felt under constant threat and as though death was imminent at all times and at the end of a sequence of hallucinations,  I always felt relieved that I was alive, if not alive and well
I had to stay in hospital for six long months and had six treatments of electro convulsive therapy (ECT)  Of course at the time I was sectioned so had no say in this and it was afterwards I discovered that there is brain damage in every case.
My story has a happy ending. I did recover and have been largely free of medication for 12 years.  Sadly I did develop cataracts as a result of taking Chlorpromazine, Amitryptyline and other medications (this was confirmed by the ophthalmologist who diagnosed my lens opacity)

I decided to write about my experience of psychosis in my memoir Don’t Mind Me which was published in 2008.  I went back to the roots of my illness – my dysfunctional childhood  and traumas in adulthood and revelations  about my childhood have caused more than one member of my family to shun me, saying I have lied.  I have told the truth.   In any case I wrote the book to help others as well as myself and to inform mental health professionals and others wanting to gain an insight into mental illness and in particular psychosis.  By speaking out I hope to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and to raise awareness of the devastating side effects of psychiatric medication.



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