Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Power, Threat and the Meaning of "Mental Illness" - ONLINE WORKSHOP: Wed. May 2 ~ 8-9:30 PM EST

A Flyer with a Schedule of Events is attached.  It reads:   POWER, THREAT MEANING MONTH     ANATOMY OF A BREAKDOWN (graphic)  1. Life is hard all by it self 2. Basic needs are insecure 3. Bias and prejudice shut us out 4. Trusted institutions let us down 5. Social responses make it worse 6. Injuries add up 7. BREAK DOWN   MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS:  LACK OF POWER AFFECTS US   Body power – society values preferences, attributes and abilities that you don’t have or identify with  Coercive power – you are subjected to violence, aggression, threats  Legal power – systemic rules or sanctions limit your choices  Economic power – you can’t afford needed goods, services, activities or opportunities on a par with others  Interpersonal power – you can’t meet basic relational needs for intimacy, care and human protection  Social/cultural power – limited access to knowledge, connections and qualifications that make life easier  Ideological power – values, language and meaning  are defined by powerful others   MAY 2018 SCHEDULE   Wednesday, May 2nd ~8-9:30 pm EST                                     Power, Threat and the Meaning of “Mental Illness”  Friday,  May 4th ~8-9:30 pm EST                                         Devalued Identities and "Mental Illness"  Saturday, May 5th ~2-5 pm EST:  Mini-Retreat                   Power, Threat and Unconventional Realities  Wednesday, May 9th ~8-9:30 pm EST                                                         Surviving Rejection and Invalidation  Friday, May 11th ~8-9:30pm EST                                      Surviving Childhood Adversity  Saturday, May 12th ~2pm - 5pm EST:  Mini-Retreat                            Power, Threat and the Meanings of “Mothering”  Wednesday, May 16th ~8-9:30pm EST                                          Surviving Disrupted Identities and Roles  Friday, May 18th ~8-9:30pm EST                                 Surviving Setbacks and Defeat  Saturday, May 19 ~2-5pm EST:  Mini Retreat                                Power, Threat and the Meanings of "Suicide"  Sunday, May 20 ~2-5pm EST:  Mini-Retreat                   Power, Threat and the Meanings of 'Mania'  Wednesday, May 23 ~8-9:30pm EST                                          Surviving Entrapments  Friday, May 25 ~8-9:30pm EST                                            Surviving Disconnection and Loss  Saturday, May 26 ~2-5pm EST:  Mini-Retreat                              Power, Threat and Angry Meanings  Sunday, May 27 ~2-5pm EST:  Mini-Retreat                   Power, Threat and Addictive Meanings  Sunday, May 27th ~Starting 10 PM EST                                                              Memorial Day Story Telling Marathon                                                     26.2 hour vigil, our lives go the distance                                                                       Tueday, May 29 ~8-9:30pm EST                                               Surviving Social Exclusion and Shame   Wednesday, May 30 ~8-9:30pm EST                                             Surviving Coercive Power  To Join Us:   Join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/119362879 Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 Enter Meeting ID: 119 362 879 International callers: https://zoom.us/u/jkwt3wHh     More info at:  peerlyhuman.blogspot.com & facebook.com/groups/WellnessRecoveryRights/
Wednesday, May 2nd ~8-9:30 pm EST      

Join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/119362879

Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656
Enter Meeting ID: 119362879

International callers: https://zoom.us/u/jkwt3wHh
                     
 

"Mental Illness" has meaning

That is the point of the Power Threat Meaning Framework introduced by the British Psychological Society in February 2018, https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/introducing-power-threat-meaning-framework. The framework highlights the links between wider social factors - like poverty, discrimination, abuse and violence and distressed or distressing emotional and behavioral responses. It describes the diverse strategies that human beings use to cope with overwhelming emotions in order to survive and protect themselves and meet their core needs. It argues that meaning and distress must be understood and addressed at social, community and cultural levels, not just individual ones. It joins the United Nations in recommending that a shift of focus towards 'power imbalance' rather than 'chemical imbalance' in mental health awareness and practice. In a word, 'the less access you have to conventional or approved forms of power, the more likely you are to adopt socially disturbing or disruptive strategies in the face of adversity.'  PTM Launch Slideshow, slide 28, https://www1.bps.org.uk/system/files/user-files/Division%20of%20Clinical%20Psychology/public/PTM%20COMPOSITE%20VERSION%2025.1.18.pdf

The framework is non-pathologizing and suggests a unifying, overarching model of human psychosocial functioning that applies to all of human beings, including those without mental health labels. Equally encouraging, the PTM framework recognizes that power operates positively (not just negatively!). The framework encourages both personal agency and social action to create meaningful personal and societal outcomes.


Power Threat Meaning (PTM) in a Nutshell

Mental 'illness' has meaning.  The meaning comes from this:

1. Lack of power  


For a variety of personal, social and cultural reasons, we come to feel under-powered, over-powered, powerless or accountable to be powerful in some way that seems important to us.  

Here are some common examples of ways that lack of power can touch our lives: 

  • Body power – society values preferences, attributes and abilities that you don’t have or identify with
  • Coercive power – you are subjected to violence, aggression, threats
  • Legal power – systemic rules or sanctions limit your choices
  • Economic power – you can’t afford needed goods, services, activities or opportunities on a par with others
  • Interpersonal power – you can’t meet basic relational needs for intimacy, care and human protection
  • Social/cultural power – limited access to knowledge, connections and qualifications that make life easier
  • Ideological power – values, language and meaning are defined by powerful others

2. This feels threatening


Needing power and not having it is uncomfortable and often highly distressing.  Some common feelings ('meanings') that arise from lack of power include:


MEANING – what is the Meaning of these situations and experiences to you? (‘What sense did you make of it?’) Unsafe, afraid, attacked Trapped Abandoned, rejected Defeated Helpless, powerless Failed, inferior Hopeless Guilty, blameworthy, responsible Invaded Betrayed Controlled Shamed, humiliated Emotionally overwhelmed Sense of injustice/unfairness Emotionally ‘empty’ Sense of meaninglessness Bad, unworthy Contaminated, evil Isolated, lonely Alien, dangerous Excluded, alienated Different, ‘abnormal’
How lack of power affects us

PTM Framework Overview, page 37, https://www1.bps.org.uk/system/files/user-files/Division%20of%20Clinical%20Psychology/public/INF299%20PTM%20overview%20web.pdf

3. Survival (coping) responses get labelled 'symptoms' of 'mental illness'


We respond to threat in ways that see to overcome, escape or re-balance our perceived power deficits.  Our responses can be physical, mental, social, spiritual.  They can affect every aspect of our lives.  Here are some examples:

Preparing to ‘fight’ or attack Preparing to ‘flee’, escape, seek safety Freeze response Hypervigilance, startle responses, insomnia Panic, phobias Fragmented memory encoding Memory suppression (amnesia) Hearing voices Dissociating (losing track of time/place; various degrees of splitting of awareness) Depersonalisation, derealisation Flashbacks Nightmares NEAD (‘non-epileptic attack disorder’) Emotional numbing, flattening, indifference Bodily numbing Submitting, appeasing Giving up, ‘learned helplessness’, low mood Protesting, weeping, clinging Suspicious thoughts Emotional regression, withdrawal ‘High’ or extreme moods; rapid mood changes (‘emotional dysregulation’) Holding unusual beliefs Having unusual visual, olfactory, tactile sensations Physical sensations – tension, dizziness, physical pain, tinnitus, sensations of heat or cold, exhaustion, skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems and many other bodily reactions Emotional defences: denying what has happened, idealising people, and so on. Intellectualisation (avoiding feelings and bodily sensations) Attention/concentration problems Confused/unstable selfimage/ sense of self Confused/confusing speech and communication Self-injury of various types Self-neglect Dieting, self-starvation Bingeing, over-eating Self-silencing Mourning, grieving Self-blame and selfpunishment Body hatred Compulsive thoughts Carrying out rituals and other ‘safety behaviours’ Collecting, hoarding Avoidance of/compulsive use of sexuality Impulsivity Anger, rage Aggression and violence Suicidal thinking and actions Distrust of others Feeling entitled Reduced empathy Distrust Avoiding threat triggers Striving, perfectionism, ‘drive’ response Using drugs, alcohol, smoking Overworking, overexercising, etc. Giving up hope/loss of faith in the world Relational strategies: rejection and maintaining emotional distance; seeking care and attachments; taking on caring roles; isolation/ avoidance of others; dominance, seeking control over others; and so on Ruminating, reflecting, anticipating, imagining, interpreting, meaningmaking
Ways we try to cope with threat


PTM Framework Overview, page 40, https://www1.bps.org.uk/system/files/user-files/Division%20of%20Clinical%20Psychology/public/INF299%20PTM%20overview%20web.pdf

Threat responses often have appear strange to others - and sometimes even ourselves.  Their meanings may be intuitive and unspoken - even to us.  We may not understand or appreciate that gravity of what we are up against.  This is especially true if we live in a group or culture that marginalizes our core experiences.  

This is critically important to get if we want to make sense of 'mental illness'.   In effect, it is these very threat responses - essentially our attempts to cope with overwhelming personal, social and existential odds - that are currently being diagnosed and treated as 'symptoms of mental illness' by conventional healthcare.  



Tonight's workshop

The workshop tonight will introduce the PTM paradigm and offer a facilitated discussion.  The discussion will focus on 6 core questions posed by the PTM model: 

  1. ‘What has happened to you?’ (How is Power operating in your life?)
  2. ‘How did it affect you?’ (What kind of Threats does this pose?)
  3. ‘What sense did you make of it?’ (What is the Meaning of these situations and experiences to you?)
  4. ‘What did you have to do to survive?’ (What kinds of Threat Response are you using?)
  5. ‘What are your strengths?’ (What access to Power resources do you have?)
  6. ‘What is your story?’ (How does all this fit together?)

The Power Threat Meaning Framework: Guided Discussion, 


For more info:




 



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