Saturday, 15 August 2015

August Newsletter.

Dear Friends, 

It was an enormous feat that the Shuffle Festival was back again this year. Glad for the space offered to the Survivors participation and the popular Outsiders Poetry. 
Lunacy brilliance celebration was obviously open and dedicated to everyone. We also kept in mind the memory of St Clements Hospital and all the people that have played a role during its existence, ex-patients and their friends and families, as well as all people and members of staff that made the history of the asylum. We were pleased to welcome more Deaf and deaf-accessible acts in the programme as well and stretch the inclusiveness spectrum of the festival. 
An album with photos and credits to most if not all the contributors can be found here:

Free next Monday the 17th? Join us for the monthly meeting at LARC 6:30 - 8:30 pm, plus find attached the last PEN and a nice list of links and events to follow.

Best wishes for the Ferragosto :)


Lately there have been a series of online webinars such as Shades of Awakening or the currently running Mental Wellness Summit  which are jam packed with information of healthy professional advice that offer solutions for mental wellness that, as openly state, "may not involve a pill".
The beauty of these teachings are that they are multiplying by the day and information, spreading faster than ever, can be easily accessed thanks to the blessing of having internet access in our homes. Education, most of the time self-education, is what saves us and heal us. Doctors are too busy in selling us their pills and keep us depending on them to admit of the slim chances of long term benefits in such addictions. Meditate folks!

''Emotions have healing power because they are the active regulators of vitality in movement and the primary mediators of social life. Therapists seek to find ways to engage with the motives that light up body and mind with emotions. Thus, they must move with the patient in the performance of real desired project and tasks not only tasks that exists as stories in talking. The rhythmic expressive foundation of emotional dynamics is the same for all spoken and unspoken 'dances' of the mind. Emotions are how we dance together and doing so is at the heart of the human enterprise.' 
Colwyn Trevarthen (2009)


More Harm Than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic  a one-day international conference at the University of Roehampton
The Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry invites you to join global leaders in the critical psychiatry movement for a one-day conference which will address an urgent public health issue: the iatrogenic harm caused by the over-prescription of psychiatric medications.
There is clear evidence that these drugs cause more harm than good over the long term, and can damage patients and even shorten their lives.  Yet why are these medications so popular?  What harms are they causing?  What can be done to address the problem?
This event brings together key experts from both sides of the Atlantic to debate these issues, and we invite you to join the discussion (see the programme below).
Places are limited – early booking is advised! We are afraid there are now no more £28 reduced fee spaces.
When:18 September 2015
Where: Whitelands College, University of Roehampton, London SW15 5PU (how to find us)
Cost: £85 for delegates
The Man Who Closed the Asylums: Franco Basaglia & the Revolution in Mental Health Care

Author's Talk: John Foot - Chair Graham Music

Freud Museum 20 Maresfield Gardens London NW3 5SX
18 August 2015 7pm - doors open at 6.30pm
£10/£7 concessions/Member of the Freud Museum 
Writer and Professor of Modern Italian History, John Foot discusses his latest publication, The Man Who Closed the Asylums (Verso August 2015) - The fascinating story of Franco Basaglia, one of the key intellectual and cultural figures of 1960s counterculture - a contemporary of R.D. Laing who worked to overturn institutions from within and ended up transforming mental health care in Italy.
Inspired by the writings of authors such as Primo Levi, R. D. Laing, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault and Frantz Fanon, and the practices of experimental therapeutic communities in the UK, Basaglia’s seminal work as a psychiatrist and campaigner in Gorizia, Parma and Trieste fed into and substantially contributed to the national and international movement of 1968. In 1978 a law was passed (the ‘Basaglia law’) which sanctioned the closure of the entire Italian asylum system.
The first comprehensive study of this revolutionary approach to mental health care, The Man Who Closed the Asylums is a gripping account of one of the most influential movements in twentieth- century psychiatry, which helped to transform the way we see mental illness. Basaglia’s work saved countless people from a miserable existence, and his legacy persists, as an object lesson in the struggle against the brutality and ignorance that the establishment peddles to the public as common sense.
Advance booking highly recommended
For further information or +44 (0)20 7435 2002


Community Options event: Your Say Your Day 
Spirituality & You
Friday 21st of August from 2-5pm
The Brady Arts Centre, Hanbury St, Whitechapel, London E1 5JD
Guest speakers from the Spiritual Crisis Network.
Talks and workshops, plenty of hot delicious food.
More info


Film screening will be followed by a panel discussion that asks, 'Can creativity tame mental illness?'.
23 Aug 2015 From 2:00 pm | Cinema 1 | £7.00 to £11.00 Book Tickets“With Rocks in My Pockets, Signe Baumane presents a sharp, surprising and funny animated feature, plumbing the depths of depression via her family history. Guided by Ms Baumane’s almost musically accented voice-over, this hand-drawn debut feature is based upon the mental struggles of her Latvian grandmother and other relatives. It’s told with remorseless psychological intelligence, wicked irony and an acerbic sense of humour.” Nicolas Rapold in The New York Times 
Despite positive reviews and film festival success, Baumane’s 2014 feature is not set for theatrical release. Her energetic taboo-busting candour and a style of animation that captures the shape-shifting whimsy of the imaginary world deserve to meet and engage a wider audience. 
We will be screening Rocks in my Pockets, preceded by three shorts from Baumane's 2008 web series, The Teat Beat of Sex. The series is an non-squeamish look at how sex works from a female perspective. Each 'explicitly educational' episode clocks in at under two minutes and provides graphic insights into one of a range of coming-of-age issues.


Join the Cohesion Workshop Seminar to discuss on how to make Tower Hamlets a more cohesive borough.
This will run on the 8th September 1-4.30 pm venue mile end hospital arts pavilion e3 4qy. 
Contact for more details.


Caring for People with Psychosis and Schizophrenia

King's College London (KCL) have recently developed a new online course focused on some of the relevant issues for carers of people with psychosis and schizophrenia. The initiative was funded from the Ostaka Lundbeck Alliance but the course was developed independently by KCL and will run through FutureLearn (part of the Open University). 

It is a global course and open and free to anyone in the world be part of. It is a two week course designed to offer an in-depth understanding of some of the key issues and questions relevant to carers supporting people with psychotic disorders, including:

·         Why is schizophrenia commonly described as psychosis?
·         How can we best understand psychosis and its key symptoms such as hearing voices?
·         What are the links between cannabis use and developing psychosis?
·         Can psychosis affect physical health?
·         How do medications work and what effects can they have?
·         In what ways are siblings of people with psychosis affected?
·         How can psychosis affect a carer’s health and their relationships?

The course includes a mixture of activities  such as talking head videos, quizzes, written texts and opportunities for moderated discussions between learners.  It will be the first time a course like this has been developed for carers.

The course includes people with lived experience of caring and a number of leading national and international academics and clinicians from  psychology, psychiatry, pharmacy and nursing including:

Professor Elizabeth Kuipers (Chair of the NICE Guidelines for Psychosis & Schizophrenia)
Professor Sir Robin Murray (Chair of the  Schizophrenia Commission)
Professor Mike Slade (100 ways to support recovery)
Professor David Taylor (Author of the Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines)
Dr Fiona Gaughran (Lead Consultant, National Psychosis Unit)
Jacqueline Sin (E Siblings project)

The course is open to anyone with an interest in psychosis and caregiving issues.  We designed the course with carers in mind. However, it would also be relevant for any  student or professional working in a health setting with psychosis and carers.  No previous knowledge of psychosis or experience of caring is required to take the course. 

The course is based on approximately 3 to 4 hours per week study. The point of the course is that you can study how you like, in your own time. It is about flexible learning, in a style that best suits you e.g. if you want to do five minutes, you can do that, if you want to study for more, you can do that too.  
I would be grateful if you would highlight the course to any families you are working with and any colleagues in your Trust  working with families- so they too can pass on. 
The course starts 12th October 2015 and enrolment is open from now. All one needs to do to sign up is simply follow the link
Email enquires can be sent to:


To conclude:
a Whistleblowing PRESS RELEASE - by Dr Bob Johnson
twitter: ‪#‎ASimplerPsychiatry‬

An OPEN LETTER to Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists, of GPs, the CMO & NICE.

Dear President,

Re our ‘Age Of Unreason’

As holder of high public office, what is your response to the excoriating Special Report on mental health by The Economist (11 July 2015) – two sins of commission, (1) & (2), and one of omission, (3)? Who is going to take the present psychiatric profession to task, if you do not?

(1) Mental illhealth is set to cost us up to $16trn by 2030 (all other diseases cost less)

(2) Our current medical approach is pungently described as our ‘Age Of Unreason’

(3) Meanwhile, it’s a medical scandal to omit an approach that is perfectly sensible, obvious, courteous, civilised and inexpensive – for 500 years.*

Bearing in mind that the bulk of psychiatry occurs in general practice settings, heavily chaperoned by consultant psychiatric opinion, where do your medical responsibilities lie? Whistleblowing gets lonely.
The DSM (the current psychiatric ‘bible’) strenuously omits any reference to CHILDHOODS. Also omitted from the DSM is the irrefutable medical fact that child sexual abuse can remain undisclosed for decades – where does it go? Merging these two incontrovertible clinical facts happily accounts for point (3). Yet the BMJ recently adjudged this hypothesis, ‘unhelpful’**. When I then raised all three points above, the BMJ remained complacent. Do you?

Dr Bob Johnson Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Consultant Psychiatrist, twitter: #ASimplerPsychiatry
Empowering intent detoxifies psychoses
P O Box 49, Ventnor, Isle Of Wight, PO38 9AA, UK
GMC speciality register for psychiatry reg. num. 0400150
-formerly Head of Therapy, Ashworth Maximum Security Hospital, Liverpool
-formerly Consultant Psychiatrist, Special Unit, C-Wing, Parkhurst Prison, Isle of Wight.
-MRCPsych (Member of Royal College of Psychiatrists),
-MRCGP (Member of Royal College of General Practitioners).
-Diploma in Psychotherapy Neurology & Psychiatry (Psychiatric Inst New York),
-MA (Psychol), PhD(med computing), MBCS, DPM, MRCS.
-Author of
  Emotional Health ISBN 0-9551985-0-X
  Unsafe at any dose ISBN 0-9551985-1-8

* [Geel is a small Belgian town, pop 53,000.] “Because of the link between economic development, ageing and mental illness, the coming decades are likely to resemble an age of unreason. That is why Geel, which has been caring for people with such conditions for half a millennium, is worth paying attention to. What is striking about the town is how thoroughly normal it seems: the town square with its fake Irish pub; American pop music playing at a polite volume on the main shopping street. Mental illness, so often frightening, seems ordinary here. Geel’s system embodies principles for dealing with it—dignity, openness, kindness, patience—that should be embraced by societies everywhere. [The
Economist Special Report, 11 July 2015, page 5 §7, my emphasis].