Friday, 17 July 2015

JULY Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We wish to send a reminder about F.E.E.L. monthly meeting as this is now due next week, on Monday the 20th of July
Please join us as we will discuss last month events and the next one in programme, among other things.

June has resulted a very interesting and busy month following three major events dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the start of RD Laing community experiment at the Kingsley Hall in Bow. The more arty one at Cafe Oto, the projection of the documentary Asylum and the reading of the play "The Divided Laing".
Wonderful to get to meet beautiful minds such as Dr Berke, Dr Ridler,  Dr Shatzman, Adrian Laing and Francis Gillett and hear about the creation and early days of the Philadelphia Association and anecdotal stories of those days.

Reviews by Dr Woodhams of the first two events can be read in the following links:

We are now pleased to announce that F.E.E.L. Outsiders Poetry event will be taking part to the Shuffle Festival on Saturday the 1st of August. Opening their doors at the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in Mile End on Friday the 24th July until the 1st of August, the Shuffle will go on for nine days offering diverse opportunities for entertainment and be amused, included a tree house restaurant - that's right, people will have to climb up a tree for this!

On Sat 1st of Aug David Kessel will be running a poetry workshop with the Outsider Poets from 12pm. From 2pm the main stage will host the Outsider performance to which we have invited among other members of the Dragon Cafe', Core Arts, Deaf Poets, Eastbeat and Survivor Poets. There will be a ALL-DEAF show between 6 pm and 7:45pm
These events will be deaf accessible with the support of BSL (British Sign Language) interpreters and live captioning by STTR ( speech to text reporters). We take the chance to thank Arts Council England for offering us the opportunity to fund and make this event happen.

Have a look at the rich programme for the day and we hope you can join us for a fun day of free activities and entertainment that we wish to dedicate to all survivors, their families and friends. For one day let's celebrate lunacy, individuality and diversity looking at the bright side of Life

Please find to follow a series of events and news that might be of your interest.


Trauma, Dissociation & Recovery: ​Working with Dissociative Identity Disorder and Complex PTSD
Central London, EC2A on Saturday 18 July 2015. Time  9.30 am — 5.00 pm
This is a new course and suitable both for people who have previously attended 'Living and Working with Dissociation' as well as people with no previous training or experience.
It will look at how to work in clinical practice with people who have suffered complex and chronic childhood trauma, resulting perhaps in a range of diagnoses such as Dissociative Identity Disorder, psychosis, complex PTSD or borderline personality disorder
Cost: £75.00 per person / £70.00 for 'Friends of PODS' 

For more information and to book please go to:


East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) working in partnership with MINDTower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group,Community Options and Bow Haven, have set up the Tower Hamlets Recovery College for service users, carers and staff who use mental health services in the borough. The project aims to support the recovery and wellbeing of mental health service users and will deliver free courses led by individuals with a lived experience of mental health and recovery. The courses will also feature support from someone who is trained and works within mental health services.

The project is being piloted this month and classes will run from 13th to the 30th July 2015. Another pilot for the college will also commence in September 2015 and will end in November 2015.

For more information on the project, please contact Robert Pickard on 020 7426 2450 or  07908 459 239 or   


Survivor History Group 

The next meeting of the Survivor History Group will be on Wednesday 29.7.2015 at 1pm-4pm (ish) 
Where?  Together, 12 Old Street, London,  EC1V 9BE  
Food and drink to reward those who come. 
Everyone is very welcome at meetings of the Survivor History Group.


What is Talk for Health? The Talk for Health programme is run by Psychotherapist Nicky Forsythe. It trains people to be part of a peer counsellling group – a space to talk honestly and be accepted for who you really are. This is good for wellbeing and confidence.

Who is it for? Free for Islington residents Talk for Health is designed for everyone; we can all benefit from developing our communications and listening skills.

Programme 1: YMCA at the Drum  TASTER: Monday 27th July 4pm to 6pm  ADDRESS: 167 Whitecross Street, London, EC1 8JT  TRAINING: Six Tuesday afternoons from 3pm to 6pm August 3, 10, 17, 24 September 7 & 14  ADDRESS:  The Drum, 167 Whitecross Street , EC1 8JT

Programme 2: The Mind Spa at Islington Mind  TASTER:  Monday 7th September 4pm to 6pm  ADDRESS: 35 Ashley Road, N19 3AG  TRAINING: Two  Mondays 11am to 5pm September 14th & October 12th Four Tuesday evenings  6pm to 8.30pm September 22nd, 29th, October 6th & 20th  ADDRESS: 35 Ashley Road, N19 3AG

Your first step is to book a place on the taster.  Email, call us on 07826 148 461, or text ‘call me’ and we will get in touch with you.

New Book: The Hidden Freud: His Hassidic Roots, by Dr Joseph H. Berke
What’s the connection between Jewish mysticism and Western psychoanalysis?
Freud’s ancestors were Hassidim going back many generations, and included the only Jewish King of Poland. 
Freud was forced to deny these roots in order to be accepted as a secular, German professional.
However, his Jewish background also informed the development of his ideas about dreaming, sexuality, depression and mental structures, as well as healing practices.
/The Hidden Freud: His Hassidic Roots/ considers how the ideas of Kabbalah and Hassidism profoundly shaped and enriched Freud’s understanding of mental processes and clinical practices. The book is now on Amazon:


PSYCHOSES – the case for optimism  

Saturday 10th October 2015, 1:30pm – 5:00pm  
Venue: Bloomsbury Suite, Friends House,  173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ
Dr Bob Johnson & Peter Bullimore with National Paranoia Network Present a Half Day Panel Discussion     
It’s time we   
(2) stopped relying on MIND NUMBING DRUGS, &   
(3) re-kindled the HEALING HAND OF KINDNESS   

(1) DSM-psychiatry isn’t working – 1 in 50 deaths is SUICIDE [>800,000 of 56m in 2012. WHO]  
(2) All psychiatric drugs work by ‘INTOXICATION’alcohol [Myth of Chemical Cure p 244]  
(3) More psychoses were CURED 1796-1850 than ever since. [Mad in America p24]   

Panel: Dr Bob Johnson, Dr Eleanor Longden, Oliver James(stc), Peter Bullimore. 
Chair – David Brindle, the Guardian  Saturday 10th October 2015, 1:30pm – 5:00pm  Venue: Bloomsbury Suite, Friends House,  173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ  
Rates: £15, concessions £5.00. Contributions/donations  welcomed  Email: Tel 07763652490/ 07590837694 –


Revised Mental Health Code of PracticeA revised Mental Health Code of Practice came into effect on1st April, replacing the 2008 version. The Code shows professionals how to carry out their duties under the Mental Health Act 1983 and provide high quality safe care.  The revised Code of Practice seeks to provide stronger protection for patients subject to the Mental Health Act and to clarify roles, rights and responsibilities.  

Find out more about the Mental Health Code of Practice

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Asylum Reconsidered, by Dr Stephen Woodhams

Review of: 
RD Laing 50 @ Kingsley Hall, 12th June 2015

Asylum by Peter Robinson is not set in Kingsley Hall, yet it was in keeping with the anniversary that this screening should take place there. The anniversary is that of the 'social experiment' begin at the Hall in 1965, which gave rise to the Philadelphia and Arbour Associations' community houses. Continuity from Bow up to Archway and elsewhere, was made possible when Joseph Berke Leon Redler and others carried forward their belief in asylum where deeply distressing experiences could be lived through without pressure to 'recover' or be inoculated by chemicals. The word asylum carries long held meanings referring to a safe place, a sanctuary, haven. Each term may convey the sense of protection from immediate external pressure, where by agreed respect for shared space, a person may do as they need to go through their experience.

 The film emanated from one of the community houses in Archway. Shot in 1971, Asylum attempts an anthropological recording, where the makers seek to be part of the household. The aim was to capture a lived experience of a therapeutic community where divisions of practitioner and patient were minimised, and governance arrived at by the will of those in the house. The use of a naturalist form for the film may of course be contended. The house as depicted, contained features recognisable as part of many households, together with scenes clearly belonging to this specific group of people.

Discussion after the film was chaired by Rebecca Greenslade of the RD Laing reading group that had been meeting with the support of the Claremont Project in North London. Over the previous year four of Laing's works had been read, and the screening of Asylum was the culmination of the venture. On stage three figures represented different relations to the film, which is should be stressed only featured Laing in passing. One reason for this, was Morton Shatzman who had been a regular psychiatrist at the house, and who on
the evening, conveyed intimately the atmosphere, daily life and success of the community. Offering a different experience was Francis Gillett who having previously been at Kingsley Hall, had been one of the longest resident participants. His account of another occupant, who had been significant in the film, conveyed the difficult balance between a person living out their experience of distress, and respecting the shared presence of others. Finally was Adrian Laing, who has recently completed a biography of his father. Perhaps not surprisingly for a Kingsley Hall audience, power in the house, and as portrayed on film, was the topic of several contributions as explanation for the ascription, nature and exercise of authority was offered and contested.

It was an evening where through the medium of film, experience and thoughts could be exchanged. Asylum offers insight in to how a therapeutic community can and does provide space where distress, disturbing to sufferer and others, can be lived through.

Kingsley Hall offered its own contribution as the ghost of the original 'social experiment' once more awoke. If that ghost were given voice, it might tell many things, and even a rhetorical question. It has always been easy to demand that 'alternative' approaches to psychological distress answer questions, yet were the pharmaceutical industry placed in the dock, what evidence can it provide for the claims made for the drugs it persuades psychiatrist they should use? At least Laing and others can truthfully say they would not have cost the NHS billions. Our ghost might add, if a fraction of that finance had been made available for asylums where love was the primary treatment, perhaps, as we saw and heard this evening, care may have been a richer experience.

Rebecca Greenslade, Chair RD Laing Reading Group, Nat Fonnesu, Friends of East London Loonies (F.E.E.L.) and the Kingsley Hall commitee.

Kingsley Hall Revisited, by Dr Stephen Woodhams

Review of:
Sunday, 7th June 2015

If you went “mad” how would you want to be treated?

BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a series called 'The Reunion' and it was perhaps something of the kind that occurred at Café Oto* when two distinguished figures were brought together to recall memories and tell the story of a 'social experiment'. The story starts, and yet of course does not, in 1965, when Kingsley Hall was made available for a group of people at very different social­psychological points to live together in a non­hierarchical, non­divided manner. Two of the occupants of Kingsley Hall were Dr Joseph Berke and Dr Leon
Redler, and it was they who had been brought together to make this small yet significant piece of history at Café Oto on a Sunday evening in June fifty years later. Café Oto is not Kingsley Hall. Yet that Sunday evening those that packed into the bare surroundings of a once purpose­built C19 factory,** where seating could leave an impression on a backside and heat aided shedding weight in sweat, may have sensed something of a social experiment. In the gloom of the interior, organiser and anchor for the evening, Dee Sada took the stage to thank everyone for coming. Though Dee gave no indication and took no credit, the event had taken some three years to bring together. However none of this background was revealed, instead after her brief introduction, the stage was given over to film­maker Luke Fowler. What You See Is Where You're At was made, Luke told the audience, some fifteen years previous. Compose of exerts of interviews with past residents of Kingsley Hall and clips of footage shot during the occupancy, What You See Is Where You're At offered an insight to both context and lived experience of RD Laing's idea. The film is worth seeing, though it was perhaps after that understanding of some of what had been seen, became clearer when Leon Redler in conversation with Luke Fowler, explained his path to RD Laing and so Kingsley Hall.

Kingsley Hall is in Bow, an area of East  London which if marginalised from the outside by trunk roads, is yet home to vibrant populations. Among some local people, Gandhi Hall is the immediate and obvious description – the building's most famous resident having stayed there in 1931. Luke Fowler and Leon Redler offered a little of this history as setting for what took place there, though of course that was only one part, another being the circumstance of 'mental health' patients. Despite attempts to move practice forward,
and growing interest in psychoanalytic and other social­interpretive­communication based approaches, regimes involving forced drugs and electro­convulsive treatments were probably dominant in the NHS. The social experiment was to see what might happen when people lived together not as professionals and patients, but as a population seeking to understand diverse experiences and expressions of a circumstance commonly named 'madness'. Leon Redler's analogy with the previous night's Champion's League Final, was in answer to Luke Fowler's question as to difference between Kingsley Hall on film and as lived experience. In essence, just as the match produced 'highlights', so film captured perhaps moments to engage an audience. The lived experience however was very much more ordinary, the everyday routine and even dullness of life for residents. Yet that was perhaps the point – 'RD Laing's Kingsley Hall' has been mythologised to become something exotic. Perhaps a balanced record would read that it was a endeavour to seek more humane means of living with 'madness' and that what ever the realised short comings, the impulse behind the attempt remains valid.

Joseph Berke's presentation differed in style. Anecdotal in places, it revealed some of his experiences and memories. Perhaps best known was his long and at times suffering relationship with the later artist Mary Barnes. The material for her early work is well known and in the film, we see Mary and Joe Berke at perhaps an early stage, where physical interaction is to the fore. Eventually they were to write, Two Accounts of Madness, a title that captures perhaps the spirit of the Hall. Not the separate 'reports' of
patient and therapist, but two stories told of a process lived through together but experienced differently. Fire was a magazine produced at the Hall, and Joe Berke presented a copy to the audience, who may have regretted that images contained could not have been put on view. What was offered however were poems, Joe reading a small number accompanied by Dee. It was in the reading of these perhaps that the sense of
what Kingsley Hall had been about, gained immediacy. Recollections gave insight to the life and times of Kingsley Hall, the poetry portrayed its spirit. An aside admittedly, Joe Berke revealed how Mary Barnes Catholicism had led him to re­engage with his own Jewish heritage, yet perhaps the profession speaks something too of the spirit of the Hall, a sense of sharing and journeying on roads that may enable any participant to reflect on where roots to their own self may grow.

Laing at 50 was an evening made by people, a lot of people, crammed into a hot darkened room. On stage the Bohman Brothers ended the evening making music and poetry where the name RD Laing took on various connections and where ideas associated with him found expression. The social experiment at Kingsley Hall was of course of its time – when else could it have been? The New Left was as others like Stuart Hall have recalled, pervasive ­ RD Laing and David Cooper were contributors to the Dialectics of Liberation Conference at the Roundhouse in 1967. Organisations that have grown from Kingsley Hall, the Philadelphia Association and the Arbours Association are necessarily different from the original experiment, yet what came through from Leon Redler and Joseph Berke was a passion that the Flame, the impulse that gave birth to the Hall should live on. To borrow a term from Raymond Williams, a near cousin in more than age to RD Laing, the long revolution toward a humane psychiatry and beyond that a humane society has to be pursued. Both history marker and celebration, that Sunday evening in June reminds us that any road to social justice has to address despair, suffering, pain and loss as it can be experienced by any person and that love needs be at the centre of any response.


My thanks to Sally England of Hackney Archive for this information.