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Psychosis, Citizenship, and Belonging: Forging Pathways toward Inclusion and Healing

November 1-3, 2019
New Haven, Connecticut

Cosponsored by:
New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (NE-MHTTC)
Connecticut Mental Health Center
International Recovery & Citizenship Collective

Co-Chairs of Program Committee: Claire L. Bien, MEd and Phil Corlett, PhD

The deadline for proposals has passed. Thanks for all of the submissions we received.

About the Meeting

Psychosis is often described as a departure from consensual reality. But who provides the consensus? When our experiences are not validated by those closest to us and are discounted by institutions, our very status as citizens in the communities to which we belong is threatened. Citizenship is not limited to legal status, but includes participation in a world that encompasses acceptance, community integration, and the work of personal and social recovery. Indeed, full membership in society, according to Michael Rowe, Yale Professor of Psychiatry, encompasses the '5 Rs' of Citizenship: Rights, Responsibilities, Roles, Resources, and Relationships, accompanied by a sense of belonging. Yet those experiencing psychosis are often excluded from the 5 Rs, and more. Psychosis is one way in which the mind and spirit respond to feelings of powerlessness, danger, and fear. These feelings are often born of trauma, abuse, discrimination, alienation, and isolation. When disbelieved, and then fed by shame and guilt, they can grow to destructive proportions.

As persons with lived experience, advocates, practitioners, family members and researchers, we also populate communities that have languages and customs that can insulate us from certain ideas and practices in the wider world. Our hope for the ISPS-US 18th Annual Meeting is to challenge that insularity. While respecting each group's point of view, we also want to reach across the institutional, organizational, and practical divides that have been forged by the groups to which we all belong. We seek to appreciate and understand the common themes that spiritual, social, psychological, and biological approaches offer toward understanding psychosis.

It is significant that this celebration of consensus and difference will take place in New Haven, which in 1984 hosted the first ISPS International Conference held outside of Europe. Here in Connecticut, we are excited not only to be able to showcase the beauty and history of New Haven and Yale, but to celebrate the ways we have begun forging new pathways of discovery, understanding, support, collaboration, opportunity, and research.

Our goal is to present new and more nuanced understandings of the relationships between alienation and isolation and psychosis, and to highlight the degree to which a sense of safety and belonging—to family, to community, and to the world—can foster resilience and promote recovery in vulnerable individuals. Join us in New Haven!

This program will interest psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, therapists, nurses, peer specialists and other mental health professionals, students, academics and attorneys, as well as members of the lay public, including people with lived experience of psychosis/extreme states and their families, who are interested in learning about the experience and treatment of psychosis and extreme states.

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Keynote Speaker: Marty Cindy Hadge, IPS

Living In The Margins And The Struggle To Reclaim Citizenship

When resources are lacking, basic needs go unmet, rights are ignored, relationships betrayed, and valued roles hover out of reach, how does one adapt? Some individuals reach a point in their lives when they can no longer bear what they have experienced, and in their struggle to make sense of the senseless, become lost. This happens when individuals are told to believe in a reality that does not match what their hearts, minds, and bodies know to be true. Some may call that phenomenon “psychosis.” Others may say it is a spiritual experience, an existential crisis, or blame governmental forces or aliens. Research has shown that this can be a necessary and protective response to trauma. But the effect on the individual, whose only certainty is that impending doom will be their companion in a hostile world, is devastating. In their efforts to find a path upon which some piece of themselves can survive, the individual’s identity may be shattered or contorted. When they seek help, instead of finding care for and understanding of their own true selves, they are placed in a box; their identities stolen by diagnosis.

This workshop will provide mental health professionals with insight into the lives and minds of people who have lived on the margins and suggest tools for creating spaces where they can make meaning, reclaim their sense of self, and build a life they want to live. When love breaks through the fear, people who have become alienated from themselves can, with support, develop a sense of personal value, dare to trust, and find hope. They can learn to withstand bearing the truth of trauma, and the injustices of the world. In those moments, they may find the strength to own their broken parts and discarded selves. When shame and guilt are left by the way, people can heal, and new ways of navigating their outer and their inner worlds can develop.

Based on current research, and speaking from direct personal experience as well as learning gained through supporting others, this talk will address marginalization and ways of reclaiming citizenship. Such approaches as somatic healing, Maastricht Interview, and exploring the social supports that foster recovery will be illustrated.

Honoree: Larry Davidson, PhD

Recovering the Self in Psychosis

Diverse theoretical orientations on psychopathology, including most recently phenomenological and neuroscientific approaches, consistently have viewed a core component of psychosis to be the loss, or distortion, of a person’s sense of self as an effective agent in a shared, social world. How such a sense of self becomes lost or distorted, and the questions of whether or not, and if so, how it can be recovered have received considerably less attention. These questions are taken up in this lecture. Based on a career’s worth of longitudinal and qualitative research, and enhanced by a growing trove of recovery narratives, this presentation focuses on the recovery of a sense of self as an effective social agent as core to the overall process of recovery in psychosis. Processes of reconstructing a sense of self begin with acceptance and an instillation of hope, which together provide a foundation for rediscovering one’s efficacy in seemingly small but concrete ways, that then are incorporated into a sense of social identity as a worthwhile member of one’s community. Finally, the implications of such an understanding for developing recovery-oriented practices are considered.

Members of FACE (Focus, Act, Connect Every-day), a close partner of the Citizens Community Collaborative of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH), pose for a picture after having spent several hours volunteering at Fish of Greater New Haven, preparing bags for Fish’s Thanksgiving food distribution. Many FACE members have experienced significant life disruptions due to mental health issues, substance use, trauma, homelessness, and incarceration, while some have not had these experiences. The group meets bi-weekly to provide mutual support in engaging with the community and to plan activities and events with community partners.

ISPS-US announces the Rodney Waldron Memorial Scholarship Fund.

17th Annual Meeting Archive

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Wholeness in Extreme States

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