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Eleanor Longden: The Voices in My Head (TED Talk)

10 Aug


From an interview with Jon Ronson in The Guardian:

“Owing to a series of childhood traumas, I was a very anxious and unhappy teenager, and the voice’s methodical observations started to feel like a reminder that in the midst of crushing unhappiness and self-doubt, I was still carrying on with my life and responsibilities. I even wondered whether other people had similar commentaries but just never talked about it.”

“I…started making links between my emotions and the voice, and by putting this theory to the test, had achieved some positive results. In this instance, I’d stood up to another student in a particular seminar group who used to put me down a lot – usually, if I tolerated it, the voice would sound irritated, but when I was assertive and defended myself, it returned to its normal, calm tone.”

“[W]hat what research suggests is that voice-hearing (and other unusual experiences, including so-called delusional beliefs) are surprisingly common in the general population. This recognition has led to the popularity of ‘continuum models’ of mental health, which suggests different traits and experiences are all part of human variation – not strictly categorical in terms of ‘us and them,’ ‘sane and insane,’ ‘normal and abnormal.’ However, I do think life events play a vital role in determining who becomes distressed and overwhelmed and who doesn’t. This might include experiences of abuse, trauma, inequality, powerlessness and so on, but it can also include the immediate reactions of the people around you. If you don’t have people who will accommodate your experiences, support you, and help you make sense of what’s happening, then you’re probably much more likely to struggle.”

“For me personally, an analogy for all this is ‘a psychic civil war’. You start taking a blaming, negative stance towards your own mind. And the more I began to become fearful and resistant towards the voices (shouting at them, trying to drown them out, being abusive towards them) the more persistent, intrusive, and aggressive they became. I explore this concept in a lot more detail in the TED Book, but it has been neatly summarized by Marius Romme, co-founder of the Hearing Voices Movement: voices are messengers that carry important messages about genuine problems in the person’s life. Therefore it simply does not make sense to ‘shoot the messenger’ and deny the content of the message. My voices embodied all my (considerable) emotional problems.”

“Our society is given extraordinarily pessimistic messages about ‘schizophrenia’ (even though, as I discuss in my TED Book, the concept of schizophrenia as a valid entity is very problematic and contested) and in turn it can fill people with an overwhelming amount of hopelessness about themselves. Of course, everyone’s recovery story is unique and different, just as our experiences are. But I think a crucial part is providing hope, information, and choice. And being given opportunities to make sense of what’s happening to you, and what can be done about it: if passive drugging, sedation, and silencing is the cure response, then an active understanding, exploration, and integration of the emotional and social meaning of the person’s experience is the recovery response. But my own feeling is that things would never have got as bad as they did if I’d had someone available from the beginning to help de-escalate this crisis in a more positive way.”

“In my own case, I believe the reason I began hearing voices had to do with traumatic life events, and this was a separate issue that certainly needed to be dealt with. But what actually happened was that I ended up on the Schizophrenia Scrapheap – diagnosed, drugged, discarded, and with all the problems that had driven me mad in the first place still unprocessed and unresolved. Plus a whole burden of new difficulties, in terms of stigma, discrimination, medication side-effects, and a crippling sense of hopelessness, humiliation and despair about myself.”

“It was a complex process and happened gradually – and some voices took longer to change than others. But primarily it was when I stopped attacking and arguing with them, and began to try and understand them, and relate to them more peacefully. It was about putting an end to the internal civil war I mentioned earlier, because each of them was part of a whole – me! I would thank them for drawing my attention to conflicts I needed to deal with. I remember one very powerful moment, several years down the line, when I said something like, ‘You represent awful things that have happened to me, and have carried all the memories and emotion because I couldn’t bear to acknowledge them myself. All I’ve done in return is criticize and attack you. It must have been really hard to be so vilified and misunderstood.’ There was an immensely long pause before one of them finally responded: ‘Yes. Thank you.'”

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/08/ted-talk-eleanor-longden-schizophrenia

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“Study Points to ‘Shared Biology’ between 5 Psychiatric Disorders”

2 Mar

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505269_162-57571760/study-points-to-shared-biology-between-5-psychiatric-disorders/

From CBS News’s website:

“For the first time, researchers were able to see if there are any genetic variants that are linked to not just one of those disorders, but to all five. ‘And there were,’ Dr. Jordan Smoller, one of the lead researchers in the study, said on ‘CBS This Morning.’

Smoller, a psychiatry professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, explained, ‘There were several regions of the genome, several variations that seemed to increase the risk for all five. It’s important to realize, of course, that this is a small part of the genetic component of these disorders, but it points to a shared biology.’

The researchers took this approach because disorders often cluster in families. Smoller added, ‘It’s not only that, we sometimes see the same family being affected with multiple kinds of disorders, so there was some evidence that there would be shared links, but this is the first time we’ve been able to see specific DNA variations.'”

Thanks to the blog Depression Time for originally posting this. I highly recommend checking it out:
http://depression-time.com/

“Mental Health for All by Involving All” by Vikram Patel (TED Talk)

28 Feb

An exciting talk about innovative ways to deliver mental health services in the developing world by training and empowering regular people to care for members of their communities who have mental illness.

 

“The Maria Bamford Show”

14 Feb

In 2006, stand-up comedian Maria Bamford had a nervous breakdown in the middle of a set and dropped off the comedy scene to stay with her parents in Duluth MN while she got her head together. During her convalescence, she created “The Maria Bamford Show,” a series of video shorts chronicling her interactions with her parents, sister, and friends as she tries to find stability.

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“The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive”: Excellent Documentary by Stephen Fry

11 Feb

Stephen Fry, the British actor best known in the States for his recurring role on the TV show Bones and his tasteful nude scene in Guy Ritchie’s last Sherlock Holmes movie, also happens to be bipolar. After being diagnosed at the age of 37, he sought understanding of his illness by reconnecting with people from his past and discussing his troubled youth in which he exhibited behaviors now recognizable as symptoms of mania, stealing and profligate spending being the standouts. He also reaches out to other bipolar folks, including a college student struggling to fathom how her illness affects her creativity as a writer, a heavily medicated woman prone to catatonic stupor, two brothers who were diagnosed bipolar at the ages of 11 and 17,  and bipolar actors Carrie Fischer and Richard Dreyfuss.

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Joshua Walters: On Being Just Crazy Enough (TED Talk)

4 Feb

Very short, cool TED Talk by a stand-up comedian discussing bipolar disorder and creativity.

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