HVN AGM on 26th July 2014

The Hearing Voices network Aotearoa NZ, are holding their AGM on 26th July at the Fickling Center in Mt Roskill Auckland.

We are now accepting committee nominations.

The meeting will be held in the lunch time. Afterwards we will have a wonderful speaker- Paris Williams author of  ‘Rethinking Madness’.

 

 

Open Dialogue evening in Auckland May 30th 2013 with Jaana Castella

HEARING VOICES NETWORK AOTEAROA NZ are pleased to present:

“OPEN DIALOGUE” with Jaana Castella.

an innovative approach to acute psychiatric crises developed by Jaakko SeikkulaMarkku Sutela, and their multidisciplinary team at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland. Jaana is a psychiatric nurse from the Region of Sjaelland who is trained in the “Open Dialogue” technique with Jaako Seikkula and Tom Anderson in 1999 and has been working with people with psychosis using this method and educating others in the techniques.

WHAT IS OPEN DIALOGUE?

Fundamental to the approach is the shift away from an immediate emphasis on trying to eradicate symptoms.   The conversation, or dialogue, is not “about” the person, but a way of “being with” them and living through the crisis together.  What Tom Andersen M.D. called “withness practices” mitigates the sense of isolation and distance a frightening episode can produce and leads to a path of recovery.

Starting in the eighties, there have been a variety of research studies of Open Dialogue and its outcomes with early psychosis.The results consistently show that this approach reduces hospitalization, the use of medication, and recidivism when compared with treatment as usual. For example, in a five-year study, 83% of patients had returned to their jobs or studies or were looking for a job (Seikkula et al. 2006), In the same study, 77% did not have any residual symptoms. Such outcomes led the Finnish National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health to award a prize recognizing the Keropudas group for “the ongoing development of psychiatric care over a period of ten years.”                                                                          http://www.dialogicpractice.net/open-dialogue%E2%84%A0/

See a video trailer about the Open Dialogue method here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBjIvnRFja4

Jaana will share how Open Dialogue works and we will have the opportunity to discuss and ask questions following her talk. This event is suitable for Professionals as well as voice hearers. Jaanas focus in NZ is around Peer support.

Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ are a registered charity independent from Mental health services. Commited to providing research and support for voices and visions in NZ.

When: 7.00 to 9.00 PM Thursday 30th May 2013

Where: Room WF710 , Level 7 AUT Business  School WF Building, 42 Wakefield St, Auckland City 1142.

Cost: $20 for waged , Gold coin Koha for Unwaged. We are a registered charity. These fees will help pay expenses, and support sending our members to the World  Voices Congress in Melbourne this year.

Bookings: Adrienne at 0272650266 or email: hvnanz@gmail.com for a registration form. Please note spaces are limited. You will need to book.

Cultural Perspectives on Hearing Voices June 26th 2010

The Hearing Voices Network are holding an afternoon on Culturual Perspectives on Hearing Voices. We have three great speakers. David Lui I have heard before at a conference. A very interesting speaker on the Pacific Island view of spirit and spirituality in general. He has a great piece in the book Penini Uliuli. You can read an excerpt from the book here

Sneh Prasad has a great deal of knowledge on the ‘Oriental’ Perspective. I spent some time with her when we were planning an article for the website based on a previous talk I had attended. You can see that article here 

Ivan Yeo will talk to us about the Chinese view of psychosis.When I asked him what he would speak about he said this: Chinese see health as a single entity instead of the Western medical model of dualism, which is physical and mental health. Chinese culture has been strongly influenced by Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. How do such perspectives influence the view of mental illness and mental health?

We would really like to have a speaker on the Maori perspective , but have not been able to find anyone who is willing to talk to for us.

However all in all it is looking to be a great afternoon. It will be held at Connect SR 215 Wairau Rd Glenfield from 1pm to 4pm.

All are welcome to come along. But please book, so we know the numbers for afternoon tea. ctc details and our flier can be downloaded from our website www.hearingvoices.org.nz

The Hearing Voices Network aotearoa NZ will hold their AGM afterwards.

Out Of our Heads- NZ Herald 13th May 2010

There is a great article today in the New Zealand Herald today written by Chris Barton, an interview with Rufus May who is here , and running a workshop for us next  week.

Here is an edited excerpt – – To read the whole article- see it here

Former psychiatric patient-turned-psychologist Rufus May has been shaking up the treatment of mental illness by talking to the voices people hear.

 Rufus May’s recovery from delusions – that he was an apprentice spy for the British secret service with a device in his chest that was being used to control him – took time.

He was 18 when he was admitted to Hackney psychiatric hospital in London, diagnosed as schizophrenic and not allowed to leave.

Initially, he believed he was in a place for burnt-out spies. “Eventually I thought people are being treated too badly for it to be a place for burnt-out spies.”

Surely burnt-out spies wouldn’t be humiliated, degraded and forcibly medicated – pinned to the floor while their trousers and underpants were pulled down to their ankles for an injection in the buttocks with mind-altering drugs?…

May had been getting messages about his mission from the Bible and the radio. Between the age of 15 and 16 he was a heavy cannabis user, but he wasn’t smoking at 18 when his troubles began – his first girlfriend left him after a nine-month relationship.

Instead of getting depressed, May drifted into a dreamlike reality, where he was spied upon and felt he had special spiritual powers. In hospital he still thought he could communicate with his girlfriend via the Bible. When he stopped getting messages back, he cried. The dream was over.

“I realised that actually I wasn’t that important and that I was in pyjamas in a psychiatric ward, dribbling. And then I started to think, ‘well, you’re in the pit of society now – the only way is up’.” Coincidentally Yazz’s 1988 pop hit The Only Way Is Up was playing on the radio.

Over 14 months May was admitted to hospital three times. His recovery began with going to church.

“I was religious with a capital R, then. I was trying to be a nicer person. I thought, ‘I need to find a way to be of value to society so they don’t lock me up again’.”

When he was discharged, he was put on two-weekly injections for about six months, as an outpatient. He decided to become a clinical psychologist. “I transformed, maybe not intentionally, but I found my mission – to try and change society’s approach to mental health. In a way he did become a spy. “For a while I infiltrated mental health services.”

It was cloak and dagger – when training in the East End, not far from where he had been sectioned, he was recognised on a couple of occasions by nurses. Fortunately they didn’t blow the whistle.

He didn’t tell his university about his illness until he was qualified. “I separated from my delusions and they became metaphors that I could use symbolically.”

May is in New Zealand doing some teaching with Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ – a group dedicated to providing a better understanding of what it is like to hear voices and have visions and to reduce stigma around the experience.

During his mental illness, May didn’t hear voices. He had delusions and unusual beliefs. But that didn’t stop him being diagnosed with schizophrenia. “I was given that label when I was 18 and I had a psychotic episode.”

May argues the diagnosis of schizophrenia is a meaningless construct – a catch-all that does little more than label people with incurable hopelessness.

Is the label “psychotic episode” any better? “A bit. I had a breakdown. I quite like the lay terms: ‘I went crazy’ or, ‘I was mad’ – I don’t see them as any less scientific as saying ‘psychotic episode’.”

Though May can unpick the nonsense of psychiatric diagnoses, what’s really radical about what he does is his therapy. He talks to the voices that schizophrenics hear.

The idea developed from Accepting Voices by Marius Romme and Sandra Escher. It also builds on the work of people like Dirk Corstens, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist from the Netherlands, who runs voice dialogue workshops.

“I believe people’s voices are beings from their unconscious,” says May. “We all hear voices in our dreams. We all meet other people in our dreams – sometimes people we know, sometimes they’re not known to us or they are other creatures.”

He says people who hear voices are able to access their dream world when they’re awake. “They’ve got these characters talking to them.” He talks to the voices through a kind of role-play adapted from couples’ counselling techniques where different “parts” or personalities speak verbatim from a selected chair.

May says initially the voices often find him very threatening and do tell the person to hit him or worse. But so far, having spoken to hundreds of voices, it’s never happened. “I guess because I’m there to help the person and I’m being respectful. The first thing I teach people is that they don’t have to do what the voice says.”

The other thing May does is the opposite of what happens in exorcisms. He tells the voices he is not trying to get rid of them. When that message gets through he finds the voices often calm down.

Though the voices are like nightmare figures, mostly May finds they’re trying to protect the person – albeit in a macabre way. “So I don’t see them as the enemy. I’m just saying we need to have peace talks with those experiences, not have a war trying to shut them down with medication.”

May regards most mental health problems as some kind of post-traumatic reaction – be it the trauma of being alone, not having meaning in one’s life, or be having been abused. If voices are part of a person and the therapy is designed to get people to accept and understand their voices, how does May go about integrating an evil voice?

“It’s a destructive voice. I would define evil as causing harm. A destructive energy is a very frightened energy coming from some place of fear. So I don’t want to demonise it, I want to understand it.”

He describes the case of a placating and gentle man who had a an angry, commanding voice telling him to harm himself.

“I asked him to ask his voice why he wanted him to harm himself. The voice said, ‘to show people how powerful you are’.” The man then asked the voice whether, if he was powerful in other ways, he would still have to self-harm.

Would the voice be happy if he was powerful in other ways? “The voice said: ‘That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for years’.” On face of it, the voice was evil, but what it represented was the man needing to reclaim power in his life.

In another case, May spoke to a person’s voice which was claiming to be a demon – an incubus. It said to him, “When you go home, take a long good look in the mirror”. May was a little threatened, but a few weeks later the person had a memory of her adopted mother saying, “look in the mirror, look at the evil in your eyes”. Here the voice was an echo from the past of a time of oppression.

“I see them as messengers,” says May. “They may appear as evil, but they’re messengers about injustice. Evil is part of life. Destruction and violence are part of our lives and we need to understand it, not cast it out.”

May believes people have different coping mechanisms for stress in their lives – “different ways of retreating from the world, or looking after ourselves that can sometimes turn into problems”. Problems we don’t really understand and which we call schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or manic behaviour. It’s a view that flies in the face of the “chemical imbalance” theory of mental illness that sees patients medicated to redress chemicals supposedly missing from their normal functioning.

May is not against the use of drugs in treating mental illness, but he does think they are used with too heavy a hand. “We are over-convinced of their value.” He is a fan of combining body therapies – running, walking, swimming, Tai Chi, dance or boxing – with other treatments.

“A lot of psychiatric therapy is moving to the idea that we should work with the body as much as the mind – we’ve probably got to get out of our heads.”

In in his own case, an obsessive preoccupation with his problems didn’t help. “The more one obsesses about something, the more real it can get.”

Yes, he agrees providing scientific evidence for his approach is difficult. “But we didn’t need an evidence base to show that slavery was wrong. We know people’s sadness or confusion is related to their lives. We also know that pills aren’t the final answer.”

What helped in his recovery was people accepting him and not giving up on him. “I think we could have brilliant mental health services, but still people would struggle because the community gives up on them and says, ‘We can’t help you, go to your doctor’.”

May says his work is about building an emancipatory social movement that frees people to help each other more.

“I am idealistic,” he says. “What I try to teach people with their voices is how [they can] appreciatively separate from these experiences and use them, but not be used by them .”

www.hearingvoices.org.nz

What a great article. We  at the HVN are grateful to Rufus for all his support for our organisation.