Friday, January 30, 2015

Experiencing technical difficulties

Unfortunately, I am no longer able to reply to comments posted on this blog, nor can I post replies on other people's.

I am in the process of transitioning this blog to a Wordpress blog and the comments function is one of the casualties. If anyone out there knows how to fix this, your help would be most appreciated.

 I hope to announce the new blog in the coming weeks.

Thanks for your patience!

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Theological Interpretation of Mental illness-A Focus on “Schizophrenia”

originally posted on the Beyond Meds blog

by Elahe Hessamfar

A book: In the Fellowship of His Suffering: A Theological Interpretation of Mental Illness – A Focus on ”Schizophrenia”

fellowshipMy precious daughter, Helia, was diagnosed with “schizophrenia” fourteen years ago at age of 23. Her illness was sudden and shocking to all who knew her. Helia had a good life by all worldly standards.  She was stunningly beautiful, with a kind and sweet personality. She had recently graduated from one of the country’s top universities.  She had a good job and had recently been promoted.  She lived in NYC, the city she loved, was about to be engaged to the man she deeply loved, and was very involved in her local church.  She was a devout Christian who had had a major conversion experience while she was in college, and whose life was centered on her faith in God.
Read more here

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Interview with Ann Cluver Weinberg, author of The Danny Diaries

Ann Cluver Weinberg is a South African writer. In this 2013 interview she discusses how the diagnosis and the gloomy attitude of the doctors was an impediment to helping her help her son. I so identify with what she went through:

"I was frighted and I was frightened by the doctors being so frightened themselves. I thought doctors and psychologists ought to calm you down but these ones were saying "do you know, Mrs.Weinberg, you have got here a very disturbed boy!"

Read my review of The Danny Diaries here. There are two parent memoirs about schizophrenia that capture my own understanding of how to help someone transition through psychosis to recovery. The Danny Diaries is one.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Person of the Year - Corinna West

"If you want to know how young black people overcome adversity, we’ve got over 400 videos up on the Poetry for Personal Power You Tube channel." (Corinna West)

Corinna West is the one woman dynamo behind Poetry for Personal Power, a mental health social inclusion campaign that encourages young people struggling with mental health issues to get up on stage and communicate. She founded Wellness Wordworks in 2008 to show how the recovery community can provide internet skills and business opportunities to their peers. I've always been impressed with Corinna's entrepreneurial and community leadership skills. She seems to have zillions of "I can do" ideas in her head. Corinna's enthusiasm for social change is infectious, not to mention she's got a master's degree in pharmaceutical chemistry with lived experience, having survived homelessness and 12 psychiatric diagnoses.

An amazing woman.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Mysterious Son: A Life-Changing Passage Between Schizophrenia and Shamanism

Rossa's recommendation: Top notch! The best! Can't put it down! Below is a Kirkus Review of Dick Russell's superb memoir. This book should be on every parent's night table and on every therapist's bookshelf. The alternative approach offers great hope even for those who have spent years in hospitals and group homes.


A memoir about the tight bond between a father and his mentally ill son.
Until his son’s late teens, Russell (The Life and Ideas of James Hillman: Volume I: The Making of a Psychologist, 2013, etc.) had enjoyed his relationship with Franklin, a smart, handsome, mixed-race child who was a “dreamer” and a perfectionist but showed no traits considered out of the ordinary. At 17, however, Franklin experienced his first mental breakdown. He was hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia; suddenly, Russell didn’t know how to connect with his son. With honesty and grace, the author writes of the maelstrom of feelings that surged in and around him and his son for the next 15 years as Franklin moved in and out of group homes and the hospital as his illness progressed. Some days Franklin was kind and loving, and at other times, he denied Russell was his father, lashing out with rage and frustration. When an unexpected opportunity arose to take Franklin to Africa, where the author had traveled as a young adult, father and son embarked on the trip with both anticipation and trepidation. Although Franklin’s schizophrenia manifested occasionally, the two-week trip led Russell to believe that his son’s disability might actually be evidence of something more profound, a deep connection with the spirit world. Searching for more answers, Russell and Franklin underwent numerous healings with a West African shaman and a Peruvian healer, who both confirmed Russell’s idea that Franklin was not afflicted with an illness but was undergoing vastly different life events than those around him. The author’s candid account of these difficult years shows his deep commitment and love toward his son and offers readers a new concept on how people with mental illnesses should be perceived.
Not all readers will be convinced, but Russell provides an earnest and eye-opening account of the possible thin line between a psychotic disorder and mysticism.
Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1629144870
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Review Posted Online: 
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today's Obituary

P. D. James, Novelist Known as ‘Queen of Crime,’ Dies at 94

Ms. James gave birth to the first of her two daughters in 1942, during a bombing blitz. She served as a Red Cross nurse during the war. When her husband returned from military service with a severe mental disability, marked by bouts of violence, that kept him virtually confined to hospitals and unable to work, Ms. James was forced to support her family. She went to work for the National Health Service and attended night classes in hospital administration.

Read more here

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I believe I'm 32 again (and it feels wonderful)


What if Age is Nothing but a Mindset?

One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959. This was to be the men’s home for five days as they participated in a radical experiment, cooked up by a young psychologist named Ellen Langer.

The subjects were in good health, but aging had left its mark. “This was before 75 was the new 55,” says Langer, who is 67 and the longest-serving professor of psychology at Harvard. Before arriving, the men were assessed on such measures as dexterity, grip strength, flexibility, hearing and vision, memory and cognition — probably the closest things the gerontologists of the time could come to the testable biomarkers of age. Langer predicted the numbers would be quite different after five days, when the subjects emerged from what was to be a fairly intense psychological intervention.


To Langer, this was evidence that the biomedical model of the day — that the mind and the body are on separate tracks — was wrongheaded. The belief was that “the only way to get sick is through the introduction of a pathogen, and the only way to get well is to get rid of it,” she said, when we met at her office in Cambridge in December. She came to think that what people needed to heal themselves was a psychological “prime” — something that triggered the body to take curative measures all by itself. Gathering the older men together in New Hampshire, for what she would later refer to as a counterclockwise study, would be a way to test this premise.

The men in the experimental group were told not merely to reminisce about this earlier era, but to inhabit it — to “make a psychological attempt to be the person they were 22 years ago,” she told me. 

Read the rest of the article here.