Experts by Experience Plenary

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Length: 39 minutes

Casadi “Khaki” Marino, PhD, LCSW, Diana Babcock, Lisa S. Forestell & Kevin Healey

Approaches to madness or extreme states of consciousness such as the Hearing Voices Movement and other peer driven frameworks maintain that expressions of distress through image and metaphor represent personal realities. These personal realities concern emotions, conflicts, or traumas and relate to life experiences. The significance of madness experiences can be explored and integrated into one’s identity and life. An individual can grow through such experiences and identity can be reworked from a fragmented or devalued self to one that makes sense in life context. Madness calls for expressing one’s story and deriving meaning from experiences. Experiences with madness become a dimension of one’s life and part of the self-concept rather than all-encompassing or definitional (Longden, Corstens, & Escher, & Romme, 2012).

Individuals may withdraw in the face of devaluing and overwhelming experiences that are difficult to explain to others. Madness has been described as isolation and life disruption and recovery as understanding the contributors to distress and gaining social connection. Social support has been reported to be the most positive influence on recovery. Individuals need to have a sense of being valued by others and as being social included (Windell & Norman, 2012). The degree to which someone perceives that others regard relationships to him or her as important or close has been found to be a strong predictor of subjective recovery (Norman, Windell, Lynch, & Manchanda, 2013).

The Experts by Experience Plenary provides testimonies of the lived experiences of madness and personal and social growth journeys. Individuals explore experiences with distress and disconnection involved in extreme states and the importance of expressing personal realities and finding social connection for recovery.

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