‘Too different’ and ‘psychosis’

by Kevin Healey

I live in Toronto a city where, more than other places I’ve lived in or visited, it is easier to see what “diversity” means,  at least at one level.

For example, according to information reported on the City of Toronto website:

  • Half of all  those living here were born in another country;
  • 47% of Torontonians report themselves as belonging to a visible minority.

Not that by any means things here are all sorted, not at all, just that this is a place where there is more diversity than most and where there exists at least some degree of acceptance that diversity is a good thing.

Still, here too there are undoubtedly many people, and many groups still waiting, demanding and “fighting to be included in the idea of equality” as much as in any other place.

Where I grew up there’s a colloquialism “same difference” and perhaps those words are  imprinted within me and inform how, for a long time I have believed that we are each as different as we are the same.

More recently though, I have come to see how experiences of being deemed “too different” and “psychosis” are intertwined,  part of the same experience.

For me, experiences that get called “psychosis” are at the heart of the difficulty of living with human difference. For whatever reason we find ourselves deemed “too different” – and it seems we are constantly making up new ones – we can find ourselves overwhelmed and struggling in ways that affect every aspect of our being.

That inner struggle expresses itself in many forms and from time to time it can overwhelm us,  and it comes to the surface in ways others use to deem us even more different: “disconnected from ‘reality'” whatever that means; and “in-psychosis” again, whatever that means.

Whatever the roots of and route towards our own personal “too-differentness”, living through difficult experiences that get lumped together under the heading “psychosis” is where many of do us find ourselves.

We are now further down the road to being cast-out, trapped and seemingly condemned to remain stuck there.

“Madness is supposed to be the beginning of a journey, it’s not supposed to be the end result”
–Jeanette Winterson.

If we are fortunate, this can be a blessing, for those of us who are able to take advantage of it and see that the energy we were using up trying to fit-in, or being some version of ourselves that others would have us be; and that we can better invest that energy into breaking-free, learning and being who we can best be.

Sadly, not everyone is offered that opportunity, or able to create it for themselves and even then many are not lucky enough to be able take advantage.

My own experience has shown me that life is often about surfing that precarious, dynamic balance between fitting in just-enough and also being free-enough to be who I am.

Straying too far from either side of that can be uneasy, scary and lead to me becoming exhausted, and if I’m there long enough, not well.

A couple of years ago I was part of organizing a conference Psychosis 2.0, where one of the keynote speakers was Keris Myrick. At the pre-conference get together the evening before, I well remember hearing her talk of how pleased she was to see the city dressed up, and making a show of being very welcoming.  It was, I think, the week before Toronto Pride which was also that year hosting World PRIDE. So it was quite a show, even more than the usual show. I remember her saying something to the effect “I don’t know if it’s always like this…”  and that giving rise to rumblings in the audience that no, it wasn’t.
More particularly I remember, as she was drawing to a conclusion, speaking to her personal experience of living as a black woman in a world run and dominated by people not many of whom as she said, “look like me”.

”Difference is difficult and dealing with difference is not easy – yet we have no other option but to learn how.”
– Keris Myrick

Difference can be challenging enough when it is at the surface. Perhaps, though it is the differences that lie beneath that are most difficult – how we are affected by our difference, our too-differentness.

Whatever the nature of our own differentness we can be driven or trapped into concealing, withholding, and protecting it: from a world that does not understand and does not know how to accept, our too-differentness.

We can also be driven to protecting the world from our too-differentness, our very being, by wearing a mask or masks that show us in ways that do not cause opprobrium to be aroused in others.

Of course, we can only struggle like this so much, and for so long.

The energy it requires to live like this is just too much to sustain. From time to time it surfaces, and manifests in many ways, some of which stray beyond the boundary of what society regards acceptably different.

I can only imagine how difficult and exhausting it is to live in this world as non-male, none-white person: I only know how difficult it has been and is for me sometimes.

Hearing voices is one of the ways I am different – though, truth be told, even though some people talk of it as “unusual experience” it is really not all that unusual. Three-in-four of us will hear a voice no one else does at least once, usually around significant life events and about one in seven of us of us do regularly.

Like Tom Jones sang, admittedly in a wholly different context, “it’s not unusual” – hearing voices is, actually, remarkably bloody common.

It is, though, another of the ways we can be too-different in a way that our society has yet to develop the capacity to understand, to accept,  and to accommodate such differences, and so instead we construct stories that would have us fear what is a not that unusual at all but very human experience.

It strikes me that within the many ways that we can be different, there is perhaps some shared experience in the many ways we might find ourselves  deemed  too-different.

For whatever reason we that are first deemed to be too-different, that we don’t fit in, and that we’re not good enough to be worthy of being considered as a being-being, as fellow human, the pain that we can feel as a result sits deep within us.

The wound is embedded within every fibre, every synapse and every fleeting second of our being.

William James, who first coined the term psychological trauma, also described this effect as like “thorns in the spirit”.

At those times when life overwhelms us, and which for some of us can be a near-constant experience, the pain from those thorns pops-up to the surface and expresses itself into the world, often in one of the many ways that come, at some point, to be called ‘psychosis’.

And so, once we have been deemed “too different”, we become a sticky target- to which other sticky labels stick themselves all-to-easily.

We too easily find ourselves boxed into categories of others’ making and it can easily happen that we find ourselves cast out to what Franz Fanon called the “zone of nonbeing”, outside of “self”, even beyond “other”, beyond worthy of being regarded as human, more a denial of existence and right to exist as human.

Eventually those cast out there come to believe: “I deserve this”.

This zone serves a function: it allows us to separate ourselves from those who have now been placed within it, so that we can feel ok about whatever is done to them.

And then, one day, we find that we too have been placed within this zone –   or that it’s boundary has been extended far enough that it now includes us too.

I’m interested in dialogue, so I’d like to sign off by asking you to share something:

Q. In what ways have you found yourself deemed “too different”?
Q. And what helped you find your way?

Kevin Healey






Kevin Healey hears voices that you don’t and has done for as long as he or his voices can remember.  Founder and coordinator of www.recoverynet.ca, Toronto Hearing Voices group and the Hearing Voices Café.

Drawing on skills and experiences gained from three decades of group work in organizations, in peer support and the wider community he develops innovative trainings and workshops that enable others to better understand and support those who struggle with the kind of experiences that get called “psychosis”.

A member of the hearing voices worldwide community, in Oct 2016 was honored to receive the Intervoice annual Award for Innovation at the World Hearing Voices Congress in Paris.

Website: www.recoverynet.ca

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Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Spotlight on Psychosis

Faith Ringgold, Listen to the Trees

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month . According to the website for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health, Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was started in 2008 by the US government in an effort to improve access to mental health treatments and services through public awareness. In an effort to raise awareness about BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) individuals and psychosis specifically, I wanted to blog a few facts and resources I recently learned about:


  1. Black people seeking mental health services are three to four times more likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder (Schwartz & Blankenship, 2014).
  2. Black patients are prescribed higher doses of antipsychotic medication than white patients (Arnold et al., 2004).
  3. Black patients are are more subject to polypharm prescribing practices than white patients (Chaudhry, Neelam, Duddu, & Husain, 2008).
  4. The pattern for over-diagnosing black people with schizophrenia been long-standing throughout the history of the United States, with the association between schizophrenia and blackness  developing as a direct reaction to black protestors during the Civil Rights era (Metzl, 2010).
  5. Although comparative studies have not been done in the United States, the over diagnosis of schizophrenia in Afro-Caribbeans in the UK (including non-immigrants) has been the subject of marked controversy (Ayonrinde, 1996; Pinto, Ashworth, & Jones, 2008).
  6. Public health researchers have explored the reasons behind this over-diagnosis from a variety of angles including, cultural bias among clinicians, acculturative stress, genetic predisposition, greater cannabis-use, and other social factors, including racism and poverty (Pinto et al., 2008). It is important to note that psychosis does not occur more frequently in Afro-Caribbeans living in the Caribbean, indicating migration/immigration and sequelae as highly important (Pinto et al., 2008).
  7. In Haitian populations specifically, paranoia and suspiciousness have been found to be common symptoms of depression. Bibb and Casimir (1996) state that the common presence of symptoms such as persecutory delusions, suspiciousness, and paranoid ideation in depressed Haitians is a leading factor in the misdiagnosis of schizophrenia in this population.
  8. Irrespective of depression or other mental health issues, Bibb and Casimir (1996) state that paranoid discourse is common in Haitian clients, and has “historical, political, and religious underpinnings” (p.107). Specifically, mass intergenerational traumas of the Haitian people, including colonialism, torture by dictatorial regimes, oppression, and slavery have all led to the development of a “socio-cultural paranoia” that is not necessarily “pathological” in nature.
  9. Racism is a risk factor for psychosis.
  10. Mental Health Foundation & SurvivorResearch created a highly informative document called “Recovery & Resilience: Lessons in Healing From Black Women’s Stories” – a must read!
  11. Icarus Project offers a free guide called Madness & Oppression that can help inform personal wellness as well as illuminate important connections between oppression and mental health
  12. My Damn Mind is a harrowing interview with Alan Pean, a young black man shot by police while attempting to seek treatment for psychosis.

This year, ISPS-US’s national conference is focusing on the issue of psychosis and intersectionality. Here’s a description:

Extreme mental states and psychotic experiences occur within a context that includes a person’s unique family story, ethnicity, religion, race, socioeconomic status, gender and sexual identity, trauma experiences, and more. The attempt to isolate these states and experiences from the soil in which they grow often results in diagnosing people instead of understanding them. Yet individuals’ reactions and adaptation to the nexus of social constructs, cultural beliefs, and personal and collective histories that form the backdrops of their lives are sources of their strengths and their suffering alike. How can those who are struggling come more fully to appreciate the complexities of who they are, why they hurt, and what the possibilities might be for transformation? And how can helpers better understand the intersection of these layers of relevant factors so that assistance can be provided that truly fits the person?

ISPS has focused on psychological and social approaches to psychosis, madness, and extreme states of mind for over 50 years. The ISPS-US 16th Annual Meeting will feature a diversity of perspectives on psychotherapies, research on recovery, and theoretical developments. The points of view of experts by experience and family members will be highlighted. A main focus will be intersectionality or the interconnected nature of social identities as they relate to systems of discrimination and oppression.

Come join us in Portland November 17-19th as we discuss these complex questions.


Arnold, L. M., Strakowski, S. M., Schwiers, M. L., Amicone, J., Fleck, D. E., Corey, K. B., & Farrow, J. E. (2004). Sex, ethnicity, and antipsychotic medication use in patients with psychosis. Schizophrenia Research, 66(2-3), 169-175. doi:10.1016/S0920-9964(03)00102-6

Ayonrinde, O. A. (1996). Schizophrenia in Afro-Caribbean immigrants. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 89(8), 480.

Bibb, A. & Casmir, G.J. (1996). Haitian families. In M. McGoldrick, J. Giordano, & J.K. Pearce (Eds.), Ethnicity & family therapy, 2nd edition, (pp. 97-111). New York: The Guildford Press.

Chaudhry, I., Neelam, K., Duddu, V., & Husain, N. (2008). Ethnicity and psychopharmacology.    Joural of Psychopharmacology, 22(6), 673-680. doi:10.1177/0269881107082105

Metzl, J.(2011)  The protest psychosis: How schizophrenia became a black disease. Beacon Press.

Pinto, R., Ashworth, M., & Jones, R. (2008). Schizophrenia in black Caribbeans living in the UK: an exploration of underlying causes of the high incidence rate. British Journal of General Practice, 58(551), 429-434. doi:10.3399/bjgp08X299254

Schwartz, R. C., & Blankenship, D. M. (2014). Racial disparities in psychotic disorder diagnosis: A review of empirical literature. World Journal of Psychiatry, 4(4), 133-140. doi:10.5498/wjp.v4.i4.133







Posted in Advocacy, Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Psychosis | 2 Comments

Interview with ISPS member Gregory Shankland

One of the things I like most about ISPS is the diversity of its members. We are truly a creative mix of people including (but not limited to): people with lived experience of voices, visions & extreme states, researchers, students, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, academic scholars, sociologists, nurses, social workers, artists, family members, friends, allies, activists and community leaders.

In “The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In”, 19th century polymath Sir John Lubbock once said:

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

Each month I will interview a member of ISPS to highlight the uniqueness of perspectives within the organization as well as see how each person views the “field” of psychosis through their own eyes. 

This month I interviewed Gregory Shankland. Greg is a voice-hearer,  business strategist and the creator of MADSense a unique model for helping voice-hearers, their family members/friends and mental health professionals better understand and cope with the experience of hearing voices. 

Gregory Shankland

So, tell me a little about yourself…

I grew up in small towns in South Africa which made for a great childhood close to nature. We (I have two brothers) had plenty of room to play and explore, going fishing and canoeing somewhere most weekends.

I did well at school and went on to qualify as a Civil Engineer, which wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped for. I studied Business Economics and Operations Research as a route toward something more stimulating and found my niche in business consulting – which had the right balance between science and people for me.

Consulting can be a nomadic life and working for an international consultancy gave me the opportunity to work abroad – I moved to the UK in 1997 and then to the USA in 1999.

It was while living in New York City at age 55 that I suddenly began to hear voices, out of the blue. The first year was hell!

Quite early on in my experience of voices I realized that I was coping better than most, and doing something different. I was responding directly to the phenomenology as it happened, applying the neuro linguistic programming (NLP) skills I had learned as a business consultant to maintain healthy thinking patterns.

I realized that my response could be turned into a structured methodology and tools for a break-through approach to reducing the lead time to recovery and now offer workshops for clinical professionals and those who experience all types of intrusive phenomena.

How did you find out about ISPS-US? What made you want to be a member?

I wanted to make a difference on a larger scale and decided that the best route for doing so was to tailor my “expert by experience” services toward service delivery professionals and researchers. One professional can reach many customers and I think the recovery movement can be most successful helping the established professionals be more successful too.

ISPS is the obvious group to work with – members are already engaging in searching for innovative alternatives.

What advice would you give someone that just started hearing voices?

What the voice hearer thinks and believes is important – that’s what shapes the relationship with voices. I may be a little unconventional here in that I refuse to be bullied by my voices and assert my right to be happy, in spite of them.

It is a scary, confusing and complicated experience – until you discover:

  1. That many have recovered and you probably will too – be optimistic
  2.  Agonizing over finding an answer to what voices are or what causes them adds fuel to their abusiveness. We haven’t answered this question in millennia, so instead, focus on real world relationships and activity where you have the power to shape your life
  3.  Voices can make your own thoughts scary, that’s the crazy part. Know that you can retreat to a safe couch and say to your voices “Do your thing, I will be here when you are done”. It won’t be pleasant – though it gets easier every time.

How do you think family members can help support their loved ones?

Most of all, believe in your loved one and be yourselves – bring attention to the real world and appreciate it together – shared experiences displace voices.

Voices introduce distortions of expectations and extreme emotions that become difficult to explain or talk about because we have no constructive frame of reference for doing so.

Make it easy by talking about this ‘unwelcome friend’ that arrives when it arrives, in a matter of fact way. Think of it as an anomaly of short duration and reduce the drama you attach to it. This helps you be objective, avoids making the voice hearer the problem and helps shift attention the real world.

Acknowledge that there may be occasional acute phases . Here, we hearers need to feel secure – knowing that there is a safe space and loving support will reduce the severity. Call this a plan – “if this happens, then we will… ”

Better still – learn to identify early warning signs and use breathing to bring the focus to the body and prevent anxiety from escalating to fear.

Have your own life – it builds the resilience you need to offer care to others.

What about the role of mental health professionals? 

As it relates to the experience of heard voices and other intrusive phenomena – I find it much more helpful to think of hallucinations as unusual inputs and madness as a predictable brain/mind response to unusual information. Our brain works fine – a constant stream of weird information leads to strange outcomes in quite predictable ways. The bio-medical model misses the mark in that it does not consider the relationship between information and emotions (body) – and ISPS members are open to this challenge.

Mental health professionals play an invaluable role in that they offer someone to talk to that isn’t personally and emotionally invested in the voice hearer – as friends and family are. They can ask different questions, offer different insights than those we are closest to and help move us out of the experience of voices and into a more objective perspective.

Having said that, I think we benefit more from a forward looking, coaching style than from “analysis-paralysis” focused on our past.

This is what the recovery movement, Hearing Voices Network, first episode programs, open dialogue all share – a way to provide support while people focus their mind on moving forward.

Looking ahead is what brings hope and optimism.

What type of research do you think we need more of? 

I would like to see and work in research in three areas in particular:

  1. Everything flows from the phenomenology – in quite predictable ways – there are transactional patterns that we should be studying
  2. Stories are our outward expression of the experience. There is a structure to them shaped by the nature of the phenomenology and content of voices
  3. The success factors underpinning recovery.  I believe we can learn much more from success stories.

Other than ISPS-US, what resources have you found helpful and want to share with others?

When I first started to hear voices, I found it very difficult to find practical help in dealing with voices. Online searches offer a wide variety of opinions – which isn’t always helpful.

With this factor in mind I would highly recommend a book I recently read: “On the Frontline with Voices” by Keith Butler

It has sections that highlights factors for the three communities you listed in these interview questions: voice-hearers, friends and family, and clinical professionals.

My own book will follow in the near future!







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Coffee & Psychosis

My newest Internet discovery is a podcast from the UK called Coffee & Psychosis. The podcast was created by a young man with his own lived experience of psychosis and is described on the website as: “a collection of human stories around the subject of madness. What society neatly calls ‘mental health’. Should you lend your feet, the path is lit with curiosity for what lies behind the doors labelled: Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety – and so forth. This is an attempt to unearth a deeper humanity behind the sometimes saccharine view of ‘unwell-being’. The story behind the script. The death of metaphor. This has nothing to do with coffee.” Currently there are three episodes of the podcast and it seems like it will have weekly installments (at least I hope so!) The first two episodes follow the journey of Luke Sandifer, a college student who began to hear the voice of God after a time of intense stress. Sandifer and host look at his experience in a way that is at once humorous, informative and completely genuine. The third podcast explores one women’s journey through an intensive supernatural or mystical experience. All three podcasts explore the topic of psychosis in rich and dynamic ways, bringing into the conversation opinions about how treatment can be improved, the meaning behind “symptoms” and tips for recovery. The host does an excellent job in allowing his guests to speak from their own perspectives while simultaneously drawing from his own experience. All together the podcast is not unlike a really great episode of The Mighty Boosh, (…well, if The Mighty Boosh developed a penchant for talking about mental health in really amazing and unique ways…) I highly recommended Coffee & Psychosis for anyone who has recently experienced first episode psychosis as well as clinicians working with young people. Funny, cool and insightful Coffee & Psychosis is a new and refreshing voice in youth mental health.







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Hearing Voices World Congress in Boston

Hearing Voices World Congress is coming to the United States this summer and it’s going to be awesome. The Hearing Voices World Congress is an annual international meeting for people interested in the Hearing Voices Movement. The meeting has always been held in places quite remote for North Americans… Paris (2016), Spain (2015), Greece (2014), Australia (2013), Wales (2012), Italy (2011), England (2010) and the Netherlands (2009)… but this year it’s located right in our own backyard… BOSTON!

What makes the conference so special this year?

Aside from being the first time the Congress has ventured to American shores, the Hearing Voices World Congress planning committee has gathered together a bunch really excellent Keynote Speakers including (but not at all limited to…)

Reshma Valliappan (aka Val Resh):  An artist-advocate for a number of issues related to mental health, disability, sexuality and human rights. Val Resh is the protagonist of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust PSBT documentary A Drop of Sunshine which is based on her true story of recovery and living with schizophrenia without medications. Being compared to John Forbes Nash as ‘A beautiful mind, yet again’ she is a creationist with a beat of her own.

Gogo Ekhaya Esima: An initiated Sangoma Traditional Healer in the Zulu culture of South Africa, certified Peer Recovery Specialist in mental health, trauma survivor, and a spiritual teacher. Gogo Ekhaya is as strong advocate for challenging standardized mental health concepts in America, her work has appeared in the edited collection, “Women & Psychosis:Multidisciplinary Perspectives”, and her shamanic journey of healing and recovery is featured in the documentary CRAZYWISE. Her gifts include seeing and hearing voices of the ancestors, mediumship, and earth based medicinal healing.  Gogo Ekhaya has a full-time shamanic healing practice in Southern California.

David Walker, Ph.D.: A liberation psychologist, writer, and musician. Since 2000, he’s consulted with the Fourteen Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation in central Washington, while his personal connections to Indian Country reach back to his childhood and Missouri Cherokee heritage. His recent critiques and historical analyses of the U.S. mental health system’s checkered role with Native Americans for Indian Country Today (ICT) are both well-regarded and controversial.

The conference will also feature workshops and plenty of time to interact with people from around the world interested in growing compassionate approaches to understanding hearing voices, seeing visions and other unusual experiences.

Things kick off with a FREE event on INTERVOICE DAY:

Wednesday August 16th 2017


Description: A day for people involved in the Hearing Voices Movement to come together, share experiences and hear about new initiatives around the world. Featuring: speakers, open space discussions about topics decided by attendees and the chance to share what’s happening in Hearing Voices Networks in your country.

Metcalf Hall,

George Sherman Union,

Boston University Campus,

775 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA

Then, starting Thursday August 17th and continuing until August 18th is the official Congress. Registration is now open!

See you there!






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They Heard Voices documentary premier and discussion in NYC July 13



A movie by Jonathan Balazs

Co-sponsored by ISPS-US and Hearing Voices NYC

When: JULY 13TH 2017 at 6:30 PM

425 Ave of the Americas
(6th ave & 10th Street)


TRAILER: https://vimeo.com/185557072

THEY HEARD VOICES is a documentary film exploring the Hearing Voices Movement, chronic psychosis and the schizophrenia label. The film is a series of wide-ranging interviews with voice hearers, medical historians, anthropologists and psychiatrists from Britain and America, presenting different people’s views and inviting conversation

Featuring: Erin Emiru, Rai Waddingham, Kevin Healey, Mark Roininen, Angela Woods (Ph.D.), Edward Shorter (Ph.D.), Dr. Avery Krisman, Dr. Albert Wong, Suman Fernando, and Steven Ecks (Ph.D.).

Special Community Screening and Panel Discussion.Join us for a discussion with members of ISPS-US & Hearing Voices NYC: Matt Estrada, Tami Gatta, Peri Zarella & more.

In celebration of Worldwide CreativeMaladjustment Week (July 7-14).
Visit http://cmweek.org for more ideas on how to celebrate MAD PRIDE!

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ISPS-US Virtual Reading & Study Group


The ISPS-US Student & Early Career Committee (Marie C. Hansen, Terri Talley, Halle Thurnauer & Peter Pascatore) is pleased to announce the start of a new initiative– a virtual reading and study group.

Our first reading will be Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia: The Treatment of Choice by Bertram Karon and Gary Vandenbos, a classic text on the psychodynamic treatment of psychosis.

The reading selections will be on a two week cycle, with a week for reading and a week for discussion, using the following dates:

Week 1 (6.19-6.25) Read Chapters 1&2
Week 2 (6.26-7.2) Discussion
Week 3 (7.3-7.9) Read Chapters 3&4
Week 4 ( 7.10-7-16) Discussion
Week 5 (7.17-7.23) Read Chapters 5&6
Week 6 (7.24-7.30) Discussion
Week 7 (7.31-8.6) Read 7&8
Week 8 (8.7-8.13) Discussion
Week 9 (8.14-8.20) Read Chapters 9&10
Week 10 (8.21-8.27) Discussion

The reading group will be conducted through a closed Facebook group. You can access the group here. All ISPS members are welcome to join, with a special invitation to student and early career professionals.

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Video Resources on Psychosis

The following is a list of video resources put together by ISPS-US member Brian Koehler, related to Subjective Experiences, Recovery, Medication, Psychosocial Therapies, etc.
Brian Koehler PhD teaches at New York University & TC, Columbia University.

Subjective Experience & Recovery

Elyn Saks, Debra Lampshire and Paris Williams are all world experts on mental health. They’re using their personal experiences and working in their respective fields to debunk the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia. 2016 28 minutes

Continue reading

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“Psychosis: Key Psychoanalytic Concepts” with Danielle Knafo

Danielle Knafo Ph.D. is a leader in the field of psychoanalytic approach to psychosis, so I’m very pleased she was the presenter for the ISPS-US webinar, “Psychosis: Key Psychoanalytic Concepts” that took place on 6/28/17.  See below for the recording.

In this presentation, Dr. Knafo explains key psychoanalytic concepts that help us to understand and treat psychosis or psychotic phenomena. These concepts include: regression, projective identification, psychic retreats, attacks on linking, islands of clarity, and finding meaning in symptoms. She emphasizes the discoveries, since Freud’s time, that have deepened the understanding of the psyche, allowing the attribution of meaning to symptomology, and permitting human encounters that initiate profound change through insight and communication.

Danielle Knafo, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst, and professor in the clinical psychology doctoral program at LIU Post, where she chairs a specialty concentration on Serious Mental Illness. She is also faculty and supervisor at NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is a popular speaker and a prolific author who has published seven books and dozens of articles on psychoanalysis, creativity, gender, psychosis, trauma, technology and perversion. She maintains a private practice in Manhattan and Great Neck, NY.

Danielle also made a written list of what she believes are good sources from which to learn more about this topic:

Continue reading

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Shamanic Spiritual Emergencies: the dialectic of distress and spirituality – a webinar

What is the relationship between distress and confusion that gets called “psychosis” and the states of consciousness that might be described as shamanic or spiritual?

To explore this, the next ISPS-US webinar will feature from Ingo Lambrecht, who has perspective on this based on both having both experienced shamanic training as well as having extensive experience working in the mental health field as a clinical psychologist specializing in psychosis.

So consider joining in on 4/6/17, 3 PM EDT!  You can register at  https://spiritualityanddistress.eventbrite.com  There will be time for participants to ask questions.

Here’s more details about this event:

Shamanic Spiritual Emergencies: the dialectic of distress and spirituality, with Dr. Ingo Lambrecht

Throughout shamanic history, extreme states have been configured in relation to states of distress and spirituality. It is however not clear to what extent these states are separated, the same or if integration is at all possible.

In this presentation the aim is to explore the different positions possible when faced with psychotic distress and spirituality. It will draw on the presenter’s experiences during his shamanic training. It will consider some indigenous and current models and interventions of spiritual emergencies.


Dr. Ingo Lambrecht is a consultant clinical psychologist working at Manawanui, M?ori Mental Health Service in Auckland, New Zealand. His special interests include children and adolescents, psychosis and personality issues, as well as trauma and mindfulness. He has also written on the cultural-clinical interface through clinical and psychoanalytic work in different cultural settings, and was privileged to undergo an intense shamanic training as a sangoma, a South African traditional healer. In addition to his recent book, Sangoma Trance States (AM Publishing, 2014), he has contributed articles and chapters on the relationships between culture, psychosis, and spirituality, presenting at national and international conferences on these themes.

ISPS-US online meetings/webinars are free to ISPS members, with a donation of $5-$20 requested from others, though no one turned away for lack of funds. Please do register if you want to attend!

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