Nothing about us without us? Are you bonkers?

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This is an excellent article from The Alliance for Counselling & Psychotherapy. It de-individualises and de-stigmatises mental illness by placing it firmly in the context of neoliberalism, which is a doxa  –  an over-arching political and economic dominant narrative and mode of social organisation. Neoliberalism has a dire impact on increasing numbers of citizens, and on those who are a part of already marginalised social groups in particular.

A doxa is something that comes to be regarded as common sense;  it is taken for granted “knowledge” in society. It is the experience by which “the natural and social world appears as self-evident.” As an over-arching and self referential, self perpetuating idiom of belief, it is difficult to challenge from “within” the idiom. Yet neoliberalism is just one choice of social organisation amongst several alternatives. It isn’t a rational or democratic choice, since it is increasingly detrimental to the majority of ordinary people.

R.D Laing once said that: “Insanity is a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.” That has probably never been more true than it is now. How can therapists address these real and pressing issues? One thing is certain, it isn’t by claiming value neutrality and by simply “treating” individuals. Kitty.

Alliance blog

In May this year, I joined members of the Mental Health Resistance Network at an event at the Old Vic. It was a panel debate on the state of mental health provision in the UK, one of their Voices Off events linked to the production of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. The original panel was Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health; Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind; and Simon Wessely President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. MHRN members protested that there were no service user speakers, and eventually Peter Beresford and Alice Evans were invited onto the panel.

Inspired by the desperate lack of service user voices, mental health activists rapidly got together a zine to distribute at the meeting – a passionate collection of first-hand experiences of living on the sharp end of mental health disability in the UK. Jay Watts of the Alliance contributed a cartoon…

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