Tag Archives: schizophrenia

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

“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/

“I Called Them for Help, and They Killed Him”: Policing the Mentally Ill

18 Feb

A twenty-six year-old man with Down Syndrome was killed by three police officers in Maryland today. His crime: refusing to vacate his seat in a movie theater.

Robert Saylor wouldn’t leave his seat after the film Zero Dark Thirty ended,  saying that he wanted to watch it again. The theater’s employees chose to handle this by alerting three police officers who were working there as security guards. The officers handcuffed Saylor and put him face-down on the ground, causing him to asphyxiate. His death has been ruled a homicide.

You can read more about the death of Robert Saylor here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/18/robert-saylors-death-homicide-mentally-ill_n_2711629.html

This tragedy is not merely an example of several individual law enforcement officers using poor judgment. All too often, when police respond to a call for help, a person with mental health issues needlessly dies.

Continue reading

“Creativity Tied To Mental Illnesses Like Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia In New Swedish Study”

5 Feb

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/creativity-mental-illness-bipolar-disorder_n_1972391.html

“The researchers used 40-years’ worth of data from Sweden’s health registry, looking at the anonymous records of almost 1.2 million patients and their relatives. They found certain mental illness — in particular bipolar disorder — are more common among artists and scientists, from dancers and photographers to researchers and authors.”

“Sexual Abuse and Mental Health Sequelae” by Anita H. Clayton

3 Feb

http://www.primarypsychiatry.com/aspx/articledetail.aspx?articleid=682

This article blew my mind. It looks at the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and the development of mental illness, as well as the risks of revictimization. I highly recommend it.

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