Blog des AK Psychiatriekritik der NFJ Berlin

Kategorie: Stimmenhören

Open Letter to Allen Frances

This is an open letter from INTERVOICE to Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus at Duke University, about an article he published in the Huffington Post entitled Psychiatry and Recovery: Finding Common Ground and Joining Forces.

Professor Frances is an influential American psychiatrist best known for chairing the task force that produced the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) and for his more recent critiques of the current version, DSM-5.

His article was written in reaction to an Op-Ed by Eleanor Longden, an INTERVOICE board member, published in the Huffington Post entitled Why I Thank the Voices in My Head. This article followed up the very well-received video of Eleanor’s TED talk about her experience of hearing voices. Within a month of being posted online, the video of her speech has been viewed on the TED website over 780,000 times and on YouTube a further 58,000 times.

This open letter addresses the points of concern we have about his article and seeks to initiate a dialogue, both with Professor Frances, and others who are concerned and disheartened about the direction that psychiatry is taking.


How Can We Talk About Difficult Experiences Non-Violently?

I really valued the massive Melbourne Hearing Voices conference last week. There were many highlights, but for me the theme of reconciliation between voice hearers and mental health workers was a powerful one. How can we talk about difficult experiences and be as non-violent as possible? I like this idea. As Russel Brand says (in his recent Huffington Post interview) if you stay non-violent in your protest for a more compassionate equal society, you create a paradigm shift.

This emphasis on creating understanding conversations at the conference was encouraged with dialogues between people on specific subjects  – medication, spirituality, psychological approaches to voices etc. – rather than keynotes.  It seemed a move away from presentations of competing knowledges, toward a more dialogical conference; a respectful exchange of different viewpoints, feelings and values. When you have a range of views in a presentation it’s less easy to adopt a “good guys vs. bad guys” mentality; you start to see the complexities in more relief.


Class, intersectional discrimination & voices (from New Jersey)

A recent series of tweets by @maddoggiejo on social justice (housing, welfare, disability supports), “recovery stories,” and voices, reminded me of the importance of ongoing efforts to inject “recovery” discourse with reminders of the powerful and complex intersections between class, poverty, marginalization and the development, course and impact of voices/psychosis.


Guiding Voices, Trauma-Induced Voices

I have facilitated support groups and worked one-on-one with those who hear voices for nearly 10 years.. The insights I’ve come to from my own experience have often facilitated understanding for others. Here is what I have learned from my experience of hearing voices.


Hearing Voices Network Launches Debate on DSM-5 and Psychiatric Diagnoses

When I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the clear message I received from the mental health system was that I was ill. Everything that I said and did was caused by my illness. The horrendous abuse which I had disclosed “never happened” – even thinking it did was part of my illness. If the abuse did happen (one psychiatrist did believe me) then, in his words, “Pandora’s box should never have been opened”.

Because I was ill, “I needed to take medication.” The fact that I didn’t want to take medication was “because I was ill.” If I wanted to get better, I “must accept my diagnosis and take medication” and then they would give me welfare benefits and a free bus pass. I wouldn’t ever recover. I would always have this illness. I wouldn’t be able to work. I didn’t know what was best for me. I lacked insight. As mental health professionals, they all knew what was best for me, because they were the experts.