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MAGAZINE FOR WELLBEING

Winter Issue 51

2013/14

WINTER

ISSUE 51

>> Singing4Health >> Philosophy & Psychiatry >> EFT >> Brain Behaviour >> The Happiness Project >> Reality TV


Equilibrium Patron Dr Liz Miller Mind Champion 2008

Front cover: Eve Jones

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EQUILIBRIUM 2


editorial Through sunshine and storms, the editorial team here at Equilibrium have been working hard to put this issue together and we hope you enjoy it. Packed full of the usual news, reviews and opinion pieces, we’d again like to thank our guest contributors and photographers - do keep sending us your fantastic work! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue, so go ahead and tweet us at @teamequilibrium. And if you’d like to join the team, contribute an article or picture, or find out more, please do get in touch via equilibriumteam@hotmail.co.uk. Wishing you warm wishes for 2014 Kate, Editor/Team Facilitator

disclaimer Equilibrium is produced by service users. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly forbidden without the prior permission of the Equilibrium team. Products, articles and services advertised in this publication do not necessarily carry the endorsement of Equilibrium or any of our partners. Equilibrium is published and circulated electronically four times a year to a database of subscribers; if you do not wish to receive Equilibrium or have received it by mistake, please email unsubscribe to equilibriumteam@hotmail.co.uk

the team Facilitator/ Editor: Kate Massey-Chase. Editorial team: Angela, Dev, Ian, Alan, Polly, Chrissie, Nigel. Graphic design: Anthony Parké.

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EQUILIBRIUM

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Singing4Health And we gave our very own sounds to it too, as it felt natural to produce the sounds that where coming to our lips and to our body. And we sang, and it felt so good. And we knew we were singing very much our own song, and that was a song of nature, a song without words made out of our mood and feelings. A landscape of our very being made sound with our bodies.

Since 2003 I have been a Primal Singing facilitator and performer, as well as an

I

improviser and voice teacher with a health t was that we felt like singing. Like singing

approach. I explore different ways of voice

songs, or learning songs to sing.

production that can be developed either in songs or vocal pieces, that integrate

And we wanted to sing the same song

the creativity and abilities of the different

together. Do we have songs in common, so

groups of people who come to my work-

that we can sing them? Maybe not many,

shops. We do primal singing between other

because we are diverse, so we should find

activities such as improvisation, relaxation,

a song to sing.

breathing techniques and songs.

So we started to find a song to learn to

This has been an amazingly enriching expe-

sing. But we couldn’t read music. And we

rience and a great opportunity for explo-

couldn’t read the words, so someone would

ration of ways to sing and create healthy

try to sing the words for us to remember.

group dynamics, singers with a sense of community and to deal with stress in our

But the words were many and we couldn’t

personal life through developing an activity

remember so many words that were not our

that will make people improve their breath-

words. So we gave our own words to the song.

ing, relax their minds and enjoy the many

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 4

Summer/ Issue 38


Maria Soriano

sounds a human voice can produce,

And they realized that it was a good

giving value to self expression and vali-

idea to sing the song that comes out of

dation in the group over other aspects

you, and wanted to join and sing their

such as number of songs that one has

primal songs too. And they discovered

to “learn”, observing how the group

that it was liberating and aesthetic, and

evolves and becoming more than a

that it felt good too!

“director” who demands what has to be done, a catalyst of processes that will take in the group. Helping people connect with their voices, bodies and creativity towards the magical music that expresses our own. And then, other people who heard us, and who could read music, and read text, and remember words, and make

Maria Soriano is a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners Network and the founder of Singing4Health, that promotes physical, mental and

complex rhythms all at a time... asked us

social well-being through musical activities,

what we were doing. We are singing our

primarily centred in singing.

primal song.

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 5


Philosophy & Psychiatry The Next 100 years

I

was led to this colloquium by a tweet

tions such as ‘Rethinking the First Person

from Medical Humanities – a tremen-

in Phenomenological Psychopathology’

dously active and inspiring bunch

and ‘Incomprehensibility: A New Ethics for

of people at Durham University – and

Psychiatry’.

thought I would enquire within. It was the third part of a travelling symposium marking the centenary of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology. In the few weeks preceding it, there had been a week long summer school in Oxford: Philosophy of Psychiatry: Mind, Value and Mental Health. After which was the 15th INPP conference/travelling three centre UK Sympo-

The second part, at King’s College London, was entitled ‘Conceptual Issues and the DSM’. Among others, there were sessions on “The Definition of Disorder in the DSM: Evolving but Dysfunctional’ and ‘Lost in Translation: Dysfunction and Domains’.  I was to attend the third part.  

sium – firstly in Durham. The one day

The dominant theme was (and still is)

workshop there was titled Current and

Making Change Happen. And how

Future Applications of Phenomenology

philosophy and psychiatry can work

in Psychiatry. This included presenta-

together to achieve this.

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Summer/ Issue 38


Polly Mortimer

Back in January I was asked to provide

Standout moments for me included the

a 100 word biography/declaration of

patience and kindness of academics

interest and passed the first test (and

within the groups, highlighting the ‘moral

only test!). Then hefty reading material

courage’ of the survivor in sharing their

started to appear in my inbox – some

stories – and how possibly the psychiatric

surely only decipherable by the initiated.

community could follow suit. Off-piste,

Highly intrigued and appetite whetted, I

the amazingly delicious conference

set off at a punishing 4.30 am for Oxford

dinner at which I talked to Anke Maatz,

one bleary July morning and was for the

a young trainee psychiatrist from Zurich.

next two days buried in a fabulous mix of

Breakfast among European philosophy

ideas, thoughts, secret languages, buzzy

teachers from Lublin and Prague, lunch

presentations and edgy controversy – all

with a PhD student from Hearing the

adding up to a really mind-changing

Voice and a researcher for SANE , and

experience.

bonding with Alicia Monroe from Florida,

Dean of Tampa medical school, whose

Not being a philosopher or a psychia-

words are very wise. Conversations with

trist I guess I, as A.N.Other, would have

Sanneke de Haan working with OCD

positioned myself with the service user/

patients who receive deep brain stimu-

survivor cohort – if pressed. I began to boldly declare myself as an ex-psychotic (for that I am), as I found the environment a safe and trusting one. Swiftly I realized that my lack of knowledge of academic philosophy was something of a hindrance (some of the presentations were so arcanely worded that only

lation, and the ethics and outcomes of this intervention. Staying with me are Nev Jones (a US philosopher inter alia) and her fierce but principled calls for alternatives to heteronormative language and othering, as well as the dominance of men as main speakers at upcoming conferences. The power of the poster presentations included a graphic repre-

the inner cabal could decode). But

sentation of a state of breakdown by

nevertheless no-one made me feel at

Gay Cusack from Australia, calling out

all deficient and the atmosphere was

for the work of post psychiatrists Bracken

one of huge support and good will, and I

and Thomas; I was haunted by an eerie

summoned courage from somewhere to

film presented by a Social Sculpture DPhil

be able to feed back to the hall after the

student (and local psychiatrist) Dr Helena

group sessions.

Fox which took us through an asylum cont.

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 7


cont.

like setting to an intricate study of folds

I had come to the conference with the

of bedclothes and gradual revealing of

thought that it was about the philosophy

hands within.

OF psychiatry, rather than philosophy and

Topics flew around – value-based

psychiatry. This set me thinking…

models, narrative and the nature and

There is such a need to interrogate

form of narratives, deacademicising the

psychiatry for what it is. What is it? Does

language, critiques of CBT, the case for

it need to be? Is it a cult or a construct?

psychodynamic psychotherapy, true

What could replace it? Could psychia-

freedom of thought, meaning in delu-

trists all become neuroscientists in this

sions and hallucinations, recovery and

brave and sinister new world of diagnosis

all its meanings, service user engaged

by brain scan? Where will that lead us?

philosophical research, co-production

(experts-by-experience & by-training),

Is there a philosophy of psychiatry? What

and Thomas Fuchs’ lifeworld .

is it? How can the human rights abuses

within the field be ethical? What is psychi-

The colloquium opened with Victor

atric ‘care’? How ethical is psychiatry’s

Adebowale , cross bench peer and Chair

dependence on the major pharmaceuti-

of Turning Point, and his hugely inspiring

cal companies and the use of dangerous

words about change and how to effect

life-threatening drugs on young children

it. The mindset has to change.  In his

and the elderly and others? The fact that

experience there is a tendency of ‘letting

recovery is higher in developing countries

the excellent get in the way of the good

than in industrialised ones needs to be

enough’. Renewal is crucial as well as a

examined. People are still subjected to

shift in power. Who holds the power is key

ECT and lobotomy; is this ethical?

– power needs to be shared.

There’s so much to explore, and I hope

We all parted with great goodbyes and

that this wonderful and awe inspiring

huge goodwill for change. Future plans

conference is just the start.

are being laid and hopefully the conversation that has been started will continue to gather momentum. Academia being naturally conservative and tending

St Catz Colloquium – Philosophy and Psychia-

towards silos of expertise, the fact that

try - The Next 100 years. Making Change Happen

the colloquium happened was a huge

– Oxford, St Catherine’s College. Organizers: Bill

boost, and the power imbalances can

Fulford, Matthew Parrott and Laetitia Derrington.

start to be addressed. As a complete

Department for Continuing Education.

layperson and fairly philosophically naïve,

July 25 and 26 2013

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Summer/ Issue 38


Brain Behaviour

Ian Stewart

A blog on brain behaviour from the

the unit of world peace, he said, and it is

Research Digest could be a sign that

through this experience of bliss that the

mainstream science is catching up

mind can harness the laws of nature that

with the science that the late Maharishi

are located at the minds unfathomable

Mahesh Yogi used to substantiate the

source. The blog in Research Digest refers

benefits that transcendental medita-

to research on the brain using electrical

tion can bring to its practitioners. In order

stimuli to try to fathom the complexities

to spread the ‘good news’ of TM he

of the brain and to produce bliss (Induction of a sense of bliss by electrical stimulation of the anterior insula, Fabien Picard, Didier Scavarda & Fabrice Bartomolei, 2013). Transcendental mediation means you don’t need electrical stimuli, however, as the Maharishi advocated that by practising TM twice daily the unlimited creative intelligence – or bliss – that we all have within us

reasoned that the square root of 1% of

can be tapped and brought to bear on

the population of the world practising TM

our experience in an expert and methodi-

(a law in physics that, to effect a mass,

cal way. It seems to me that while science

you only have to get 1% of the popula-

is becoming aware of the possibilities that

tion to do it), is all that is needed to bring

are within the capabilities of the brain,

about more fulfilled and successful socie-

Maharishi’s science is dawning with it a

ties, leading to world peace. His natural,

world of possibilities is being opened up to

easily learned technique is used to bring

us all.

about optimum use of the brain and its ability to rise to higher states of consciousness, which he addressed in his Science of Creative Intelligence. The individual is

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

Research Digest Blogging on brain and behaviour Thursday 19th September 2013

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 9


Watercolours by Eileen Smith

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Summer/ Issue 38


www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 11


The Happiness Project By Alice Croot

to each topic – eleven topics in all, with December being the chance to put them all into practice – and worked out how she could use that month to explore and appreciate her life more. She says early in the book that ‘I wanted to change my life without changing my life’, a theme which marks

I

her out from many first read The Happiness Project in early

of the famous life-changing biographies

2012 after reading a spate of positively

such as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love

glowing reviews online. I did not really

or biographies about loss, such as Joan

know what to expect – a brand of zeal-

Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking, and

ous, get-out-and-do-good, evangelical guilt

this is precisely what holds its charm. Few of

trip was my worst fear – but actually it did

us could take nothing whatsoever from this

exactly what I had hoped it would do. It

book, with topics that range from vitality

made me think about happiness and ways I

(January) to marriage (February) to money

could become happier.

(July), and certainly in my case even when the topic had no obvious connection to me

Rubin starts with the realisation that

– I have no children, which she spends April

although she was not unhappy, she also

appreciating – there were still things that

was not appreciating everything in her life

made me think about how I relate to other

which she felt she should, so she set about

people in general.

methodically researching happiness and its

For me, the most important point made

causes and came up with a list of what her

is about how deep the connection is

own priorities were. She dedicated a month

between your relationships with other

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Summer/ Issue 38


Gretchen Rubin HarperCollins: New York, 2009

people and your own happiness. This

feel obligated to do but is not neces-

may seem natural and particularly

sary or helpful. An oft repeated truth that

apparent with how you interact with

she finds is that ‘one of the best ways

your partner, your parents, your children

to make yourself happy is to make other

and wider family, but it also includes

people happy; one of the best ways

your friends, people you encounter only

to make other people happy is to be

briefly, your critics, and even the way

happy yourself.’ So if it is weight training,

you gossip – or preferably don’t. She

if it is foreign policy, if it is Barry Manilow –

quotes Tolstoy, who said ‘nothing can

wonderful. Find that passion and pursue it.

make our own life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual

Throughout the book she gives exam-

kindness’, and she does this throughout

ples of other people’s experiences with

without seeming holier-than-thou; in fact,

their own happiness projects as well as

her frustrations and stumblings are part

mixing in her research, which gives the

of what makes the book so relatable,

reader a chance to think about how

and certainly make you feel you are not

to apply these deeply personal resolu-

alone in finding it difficult to resist gossip,

tions to themselves (always resolutions

or not snapping when you have had a

rather than goals – you achieve a goal

bad morning. In many ways it is about

in a way which does not apply to every

being aware of what is happening in

day happiness), and this is followed up

your life and recognising whether or not

by notes at the back which help you to

your actions will contribute to your happi-

set up your own happiness project. She

ness, rather than attempting to live a life

has set up a website (www.happiness-

of impossible virtue.

projecttoolbox.com) which will help you

Rubin suggests that a key part of being

decide what your priorities are without all

happy is to be yourself, and to be true

her painstaking research – for example,

to yourself. Do not worry about what you

her current front page article talks about

‘should’ like, or think you should like, but

making sure your habits are right, some-

invest in discovering what makes you

thing she talks about in her book. She

happy. It could be a hobby, probably

recommends four things; sleep, exercise,

similar to what you enjoyed as a child,

external order, and managing eating

or it could be cutting out something you

and drinking, things which she works cont.

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM 25 EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 13


cont.

on throughout the book and which do make a difference to her. She also talks here about her other books on happiness at home, and her forthcoming book about breaking habits. When I first read this book I felt energised and motivated to change small things in my life. I started thinking about how I could do what I really wanted and implemented the one minute rule – if something can be done in a minute or

Poetry

Think of the beautiful garden

less then do it. My desk is now almost always

With roses and garlands

clear and has been since that first reading. The

Flowers of all kinds

second time I read it, only a few months later, I

And fresh air

made further plans and did some things which I would not have done otherwise – I jumped

Taking a walk in the park

from a boat into the ocean because it scared

Artistic endeavours

me, and that was as important to me as keep-

Planting plants and exercising

ing my temper when someone was deliberately

provoking my anger. But in reading it again for this review (which only took about a day, on and

Good luck to everybody in the

off – it is a quick read) I have made the biggest

future

changes. I was already much happier than I

And be good with behaviour

was when I first read the book, that is true, but

Do something constructive with

rather than taking small actions I have taken bigger steps. I have contacted people about a

your day

children’s literature book club I had been consid-

As long as it’s just one thing

ering for a while but not made time for, I asked

Communicate effectively

my mother if she would like to do a happiness

Complete your education

project with me next year as a way to keep in

With knowledge and know-how

contact when we are in different countries, and I have thought about whether I am actually really

helping people when I give my time to tasks

I thank you for those special days

which don’t make much difference, even if I feel

you gave me

virtuous, or if there is a better way I could try to

help.

Have fun with life

So would I say the book is for everyone? No,

Good luck for the future

probably not. But if, like myself, you thought that

Everyone

owning one self help book would immediately

spiral into a Bridget Jones-esque binge of lifechanging intentions and no real action then I

Denica Chaplery

would urge you to try this. Gretchen is happier, I feel happier, and there is a real chance that you could too.

Photo: Anthony

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Summer/ Issue 38


Facts: Strange But True!!!!

Here are 21 facts that you might not know, but are all true - even though they might seem strange! 1.

Crocodiles have over 240 teeth in their entire life.

2.

The world’s shortest man, Pinping, is only 2ft 7inches tall.

3.

The 14-foot-long narwhal is a whale whose teeth can reach up to eight

feet long.

4.

Night butterflies have ears on their wings so they can avoid bats.

5.

The T-Rex had a jaw strong enough to chop a person a half in one bite.

6.

Female triceratops wore ‘make up’ (painted their faces) to attract

male triceratops.

7.

Chimps have their own form of political elections within their groups.

8.

Baby robins eat 14 feet of earthworms every day.

9.

Indian police are known to have the largest beer bellies in the world; in

one case, an officer had a waste size that was triple his chest size.

10.

Cows in India can cause traffic jams for miles.

11.

The largest sandwich is over 3ft long.

12. A tiny lizard called a Tiktiky can sever its tail and grow another within

two weeks.

13.

The act of kicking a football, when in space, can cause a person to

move 500 yards backwards, due to the lack of gravity.

14.

There are worms that are 4ft long.

15. A baby Giraffe can already be over 5ft tall when it is born. 16.  An insect called a Mayfair only lives for 8 hours. 17.  An Astronaut sees about 36 sunrises and 35 sunsets in one mission. 18.  When the Mayans played football, they used the head of the losing

captain as a ball for the next game.

19. Dragonflies can fly up to 50 miles per hour. 20.  The first light bulb was actually created by the Egyptians. 21.

An ancient ruler of North East India is known to have over a 101 children and out of 100 only one was a daughter.

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 15


EFT - Tapping into Potential worked with and had much respect for. She’d already helped move my art business forward from a very stagnant place to quite a significant place. So if she said EFT had the potential to change people’s lives, I thought it worth giving the time of day. As I write the book is winging its way to me. EFT, or also commonly known as Tapping, was something I’d come across before; I’d met others who’d used it. I’d read the Healing Codes and used some of those ‘touch’ techniques, but to little effect because I’d become so frustrated with the process. EFT works by releasing blockages within the energy system which leads to limiting beliefs and behaviours. It is said that these blockages cause emotional and/ or physical issues and include lack of confidence and self esteem, feeling stuck, anxious or depressed, or the emergence of compul-

S

sive and addictive behaviours, even physio this week I was taking my first webi-

cal issues such as long term back pain.

nar about the foundations of business

practice in the arts, and this webinar,

So it goes back to ancient Chinese beliefs

which was the first to be performed by

based around the meridian system which

this woman, went severely pear shaped –

believes there are electrical energies pass-

that’s to say I could hear nothing through

ing throughout the body. These charges

my phones but white noise. But I did hear

need to somehow be balanced in order to

her say ‘You have to get this book: EFT

function at an optimum level. The tapping

Emotional Freedom Technique “it will

on these meridian points release blockages

change your life”’.

in these energy paths, allowing things to flow more naturally.

Well this kind if information is often ignored, I’ve done it a million times before, but

So EFT treatment involves the use of finger-

this time it came from Rosalind, who I’d

tips rather than needles to tap on the end

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 16

Summer/ Issue 38


Nigel Prestatyn

points of energy meridians that are situ-

But in order to shift the problem, we need

ated just beneath the surface of the skin.

to truly understand the problem and

So it’s like a kind of finger acupuncture,

connect with it on a deep emotional

or acupressure.

level.

The process involves one focusing on

After stating the problem, you’d begin

their own specific problem whilst tapping

a round of tapping whilst using the

with fingers on the end points of energy

‘Reminder Phrase’ which in this example

meridians. The combination of send-

might be, ‘I don’t deserve happiness.’

ing kinetic energy to our energy system,

The key is to get to the real core of

whilst uncovering and focusing on root

the issue, digging around until you find

causes facilitates a balancing of the

statements that really resonate with

energy system thereby eliminating the

your problem on a deeply profound

“short circuit” to the body’s negative

emotional level. These core issues, the

emotion. The tapping areas are:-

powerful ones which bring about real

1) Top of the Head, 2) Beginning of the

change, are often deeply buried, and

Eyebrow, 3) Side of the Eye, 4) Under the

stemming back to our early years. So it

Eye, 5) Under the Nose, 6) Chin Point, 7)

takes a little emotional intelligence to

Beginning of the Collarbone, 8) Under

root around until you find these core

the Arm. The setup area is the ‘karate

issues. Often it is suggested to fire off

chop’ area of the hand. These would

several arrows in the hope of hitting the

be classed as the basic tapping areas,

true core issue.

though there are further areas around the body.

And the way to determine whether the process has been successful or not is

So the ‘Setup Phrase’ might be: ‘I really

by gauging the level of emotional or

don’t deserve to be happy because

physical pain before you start, and again

when I was a soldier at war I hurt many

after several rounds of tapping. So if the

people.’ (Apparently EFT is great for post

emotional pain in our example remains

traumatic stress disorder.) This would

at 10, we need to try other statements,

involve tapping on the karate chop area

if it comes down to 5, then we continue

of either hand. This is a difficult thing

through as many rounds as it takes to

for me to get to grips with, because

bring it down to 1 or 2, or even a zero.

it’s repeatedly stating a negative, and

focusing on that negative, and I’ve often worked hard to do the exact opposite!

EQUILIBRIUM 17


photo from http://albanylibrary.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/reality-tv.jpg

Reality Television & Mental Health

L

ong gone are the days when folks

under the bright studio lights, desperately

gather from all around to applaud the

begging the audience to vote for him and

Gladiators fighting in the Coliseum, risk-

stuttering as the masses of results from the

ing their lives with blood, sweat and tears all

public rolled in. They purposefully dragged it

in the name of active entertainment... Or

out. The lights got brighter, the music louder

have they?

and cheers from the crowd bellowed from beyond. I remember thinking to myself,

I recall being 16 years old and transfixed to

poor guy, what’s going to happen to his

the television screen. Tonight was the night.

confidence if he doesn’t win? More to the

Everyone was talking about it. It was a

point: Why am I watching this in the first

Saturday night and it was the Pop Idol final.

place? Was it because I genuinely liked the

I was glued to the edge of my seat, eagerly

sound of their voices covering songs I had

awaiting the results. As I sat in the comfort

heard a million times before, or did I secretly

of my family home, feet up with a cup of

like having the power of holding people’s

tea, I watched on as one of the finalists

destinies in my hands, knowing that people

was rapidly losing confidence, perspiring

all over the country were feeling the same

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 18

Summer/ Issue 38


By Christina Clark, Psychiatric Nurse

way? I was allowed to feel sorry for them,

of unacquainted strangers through a

excited for them or even dislike them,

television screen. And questions must be

and with a mere 50p phone call I could

asked as to who these audiences are

manipulate their destiny. Their future was

and more importantly what their motives

in my hands!

are. Are they really there to help people become a success in life or just partici-

But can I really go as far as to compare

pants in a game, playing with other

a 50p phone vote to that of a Gladiators

people’s futures?

fate determined by the crowd’s ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’? Okay, so we

Andy Warhol once said “In the future,

can’t exactly accuse the likes of Simon

everyone will be world-famous for 15

Cowell of placing people’s lives on the

minutes.” But ‘At whose expense?’

line in the literal sense – it’s not as though

appears to be the question on lots of

contestants have to slay boars three

people’s minds…

times the size of them or wrestle wild lions to the ground. Perhaps though, society

Emily Marsden, a specialist psychiatric

could go as far as to accuse some of

Nurse, who works with young people

the producers of reality TV shows of plac-

presenting with their First Episode of

ing people’s lives on the line in a more

Psychosis explains how an overnight

emotional sense.

celebrity suddenly becomes very vulnerable. “The media have the power to

Reality is defined as “the state of things

either maintain or crush their over-

as they actually exist, as opposed to

night status depending on what sells

an idealistic or notional idea of them”.

at the time. I imagine that the people

But who exactly defines this? We are

in the media industry who are respon-

surrounded by reality TV shows, but do

sible for their overnight fame are more

they really portray reality? I mean, how

concerned about making money than

many of us suddenly wake up one day

whether that person is feeling okay and

and have become a global superstar

being well supported.”

overnight and what mental pressure must this surreal notion place on people?

When looking at reality TV and mental

I don’t think we can even begin to imag-

health, there have been a plethora of

ine what that must feel like. People are

cases which have bought the subject

literally putting their futures in the hands

to media attention and some much cont.

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EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 19


cont.

more ongoing ethical debates amongst

are psychologically stable and able to cope

professionals. In 2006, a Big Brother contest-

with such experiences. Is this good enough

ant, Shahbaz Chaudry, shockingly claimed

though? Marsden hopes that “firstly, contest-

he wanted to take his own life whilst being

ants have someone that regularly meets with

broadcast live on television. Not surpris-

the person to check that they are coping

ingly, controversy and ethical debate arose

– ideally someone with psychology train-

after the contestant was placed on ‘suicide

ing that can provide therapeutic support if

watch’ and denied exit from the house after

needed. I would also hope that producers

requesting to leave. He was subsequently

and channel executives would have some

pulled out of the show after increasing

awareness of the pressures and make sure

concerns were raised around his mental

people are not put under too much pressure

wellbeing. Unsurprisingly, this raised ques-

– I’m sure that doesn’t happen. I would want

tions around how much support the contest-

to make sure they were aware of all the

ants were being given and whether or not

pressures and negative aspects that come

they were intentionally pushed to their limits

with being on TV/in the spotlight so that they

to increase entertainment and viewing; in

weren’t going in to it blind”.

other words, whether or not he had been exposed to intentional exploitation. Marsden

Another high profile example of the pressure

agrees that reality programmes regularly

that fame can place on a person’s mental

exploit those with mental health problems

health is the alleged ‘mental breakdown’

in the name of entertainment: “In general,

that Susan Boyle endured after coming

reality TV is purely a form of entertainment

runner up on the reality show Britain’s Got

and unfortunately doesn’t seem to exist to

Talent. Concerns were made public after

teach people anything. I feel that in a lot

Susan was rushed to a private psychiatric

of instances, TV producers go for the ‘shock

unit the day after the competition finale. This

factor’ to get good viewing figures, which

too led to numerous viewer concerns that

often means issues aren’t covered very

she was not provided with the correct duty

sensitively. This can often mean people with

of care by the producers of the show. This

mental health issues are depicted as ‘odd’

speed of overnight fame and public expo-

or different to you and I – when the ‘real-

sure must be enough for anyone to find hard

ity’ is that mental health issues can affect

to grasp.

anyone.” Thankfully, after making a good recovery, Big Brother producers, in a response to the

Susan went on to become a global superstar

incident, claimed that contestants are

with support from friends, professionals and

screened by professionals to ensure that they

even backing from the media. Perhaps in

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 20

Summer/ Issue 38


turn, shining the light for those with mental

tions of the stigma this may bring from the

health problems and in turn potentially

wider public. It perhaps leads us to ques-

projecting positive outcomes which show

tion the ignorance of the TV producers; just

that mental health problems do not neces-

because you have a mental health problem,

sarily hinder success on reality TV shows.

it shouldn’t automatically exclude you from

The public embraced Susan, even those

being a contestant. We live in a nation of

who didn’t watch the show were able to

equal opportunities and a history of mental

follow her journey due to the vast cover-

health problems wouldn’t legally be able to

age in the media; some even termed her a

impact your employment aspects, so why a

‘national treasure’. She had been exposed

reality TV show? Where do we draw the line?

to the world and had shown everyone that

Another point to also consider is what nega-

she could overcome mental health prob-

tive affects rejection may have on a person’s

lems and that it would not hinder her future

mental health and on a larger scale: the fight

success.

against stigma and discrimination. Marsden emphasises the need to make more effort

Marsden discusses how reality TV shows

to portray people with mental health issues

could also be used to help tackle some of

as normal people “rather than highlighting

the stigma surrounding mental health prob-

their differences or exaggerating their weak-

lems. “For example, well made ‘fly on the

nesses”.

wall’ documentaries can definitely tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness. I do

Reality TV is a culture that defines a huge

however think it’s difficult to get that right as

part of my generation. Sometimes it seems

it’s a sensitive and complex subject. People

as though people around me are more

making the programmes need to have a

interested in voting off the latest Big Brother

good understanding of mental illness them-

contestant, keeping someone in the jungle or

selves or they risk reinforcing stereotypes.”

paying to see a contestant on the X Factor win the Christmas number 1 (again). I often

On the flip side of this, there have also been

wonder how many of these people vote

a handful of high profile cases of people who

in the general elections or even know the

have entered reality TV contests and been

name of their local MP.

denied continuation in the competition due to the fact that they have disclosed a current

It is apparent that much more education

or historic mental health issue. This may well

and insight is needed for the producers of

highlight the high levels of discrimination still

reality TV shows and not just around mental

apparent within the world of show business

health issues but also on the impact that

and perhaps even more so their concep-

‘overnight fame’ can have on anyone, cont.

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EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 21


cont.

regardless of their psychiatric history.

support and sensitivity around these issues

More consideration needs to be given as to

perhaps more people will feel able to enter

whether the entertainment aspect of making

these competitions and be able to spin

these shows really outweighs the ethical

some of the unfortunate existing negative

impact it has on issues such as human exploi-

stigma and portray mental health in a more

tation. None of us can fully predict what

positive light. Some may even view people

such a phenomenon of becoming famous

with mental health problems as stronger

overnight would do to our mental health,

than the ‘average Joe’; having already

hence the necessity for appropriate psycho-

battled through problems they may be more

logical support and mental preparation

mentally resilient and prepared for chal-

beforehand, during and after the process.

lenges and difficult circumstances. They are also perhaps more able to accept the rejec-

But on the flip side, why should mental

tion and also put into perspective the bigger

health disclosure affect the opportunity to

picture and (crucially) the more important

enter these contests? After all, with the right

things in life.

Humour

comedians like Benny Hill, Frank Spencer and Dev

Kenny Evert, which is tongue and cheek, and lots of people still find funny now a days, as

Humour, also known as sense of humour, is

it is very visual. However, comedy since the

defined in the dictionary as “the ability to

mid nineties seems to have changed and I

appreciate or express that which is humor-

think some comedy sketches have become

ous”. There are several theories that make

too over done. A constant use of one specific

humour relevant to wellbeing, like the relief

type of humour could be seen as rather tire-

theory, which says that laughter is a mecha-

some; bringing in more new material it could

nism by which psychological tension is

be more fun.

reduced. This is because it releases a chemical called serotonin, a “feel good” chemical,

Humour also has a unique tendency to cross

into the brain. The best way to see humour as

cultural backgrounds, even if you are from

a form of entertainment; if you think about it,

an ethnic minority. Sometime it is designed

it is trying to cheer you up or trying to make a

to make fun of how people in their commu-

funny point about a subject.

nity behave. A prime example is Goodness Gracious Me, which is about life as a South

Over time different styles of humour have

Asian person in the UK. As a South Asian

been popular and have changed, from

myself, seeing this programme reminds me

Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Buster

what people from this community are really

Keaton’s slapstick silent comedy to today’s

like. You might also be able find some similari-

style of stand-up comedy. Slapstick comedy

ties from your own background.

continued during the 60’s and 80’s, with

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 22

cont.

Summer/ Issue 38


Politicians and celebrities are often mimicked,

shouldn’t be doing. They can be rather over

A quote from Nelson Mandela… “Social equality is the only basis of human happiness”  

exaggerated, no matter what country they

Comment:

made fun of and vilified by comedians worldwide, most commonly leaders of countries (i.e. Prime Ministers or Presidents) and other leading Politicians. Most of the humour is based on what they are doing or what they

come from. Comedians, or anyone who tries to be funny,

In an ideal society, the human

rely on the reactions of people on the receiv-

potential of the individual should

ing end. So if a person attempts a funny joke

always evolve towards an ever

or something silly, and it does not go well, that person may not try that joke again or at least re-work the joke. Most comedians tend

increasing harmony and diversification with others in the direction of

to do situation-based comedy or stand up

progress, achievement and fulfil-

comedy. One way of trying to be funny is by

ment. Social equality should be the

using language to play with different meanings, for example “I am taking a break” can be seen as a person trying to break something. Another interesting way is to be funny is

accepted norm, indeed without it the society would cease to function for the benefit of all.

by finding the meaning of the word in another language, for example in English ‘Hey dude’ mean you are saying hello to someone you think is cool, but in Bengali (a language from

I believe an ideal society motivated by the aspirations of the individual

the subcontinent) ‘Hey dude’ means ‘Hello

should involve a technique – like

milk’.

transcendental meditation – to

When it comes to mental health, humour plays a very important part. When you have

allow the individual to develop his personality so that the inner happi-

“mental health problems” you may find your-

ness of the individual provides a

self in a state where you have trouble control-

stability that resolves problems

ling your moods. Some people describe it as

before they arise, enabling a soci-

being in a big hole without any light at the end. In this state, gentle humour can be useful in making each step less daunting. It can

ety to be one of all solutions and not one of all problems.

slowly helping them get various ideas on how to get themselves out of any situation and to

Ian Stewart

see things from a different perspective.

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EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 23


A Diagnosis Accepting a diagnosis of mental ill health, with

tion for a home-cooked lunch or dinner.

all of the unknown lifestyle implications is – let

Alan is self-employed and works in an advisory

me argue – easier to come to terms with if the

capacity doing consultancy work. Alan is also a

patient can or could be considered already

well-regarded writer and, himself having been

intelligent and well adjusted. Preserving the

moved to do so many times, often prompts

strengths of your personality is, Dr Johnson E

others to tell their life stories as a source of inspi-

Sabine might argue, the very essence of the

ration for others.

struggle with your mental illness.

Alan advises other mental health service users

Alan was first admitted to psychiatric hospi-

to carry on regardless. This does test us more

tal in 1986 and many years later he continues

than non-mental health patients. We all have

to pursue work, leisure, and his pursuit of the

our crosses to bear, however, and Alan is not

Lord’s wisdom. He does not deny his needs for

alone in finding advantage in so-called disad-

extra agency care and support. He is visited

vantage. Take the problem-solving route and

by his carer once a week on Sundays for help

make use of relevant and wider learning oppor-

with maintaining himself and his home – a well

tunities.

appointed and comfortably furnished one bed-

room flat, above and adjacent to the full array

As a parent, his day-to-day life consists of

of locally needed facilities.

making an earnest effort to provide for his

family and, who knows, one day he may have

Living only on a means-tested state pension,

time to read a good book. Take one day at a

this still allows Alan the relative luxury of eating

time, is his maxim: be thankful and count your

in local cafes and the occasional friendly invita-

blessings in all things.

A Personal Interview Alan’s Interview with an Anonymous Participant at the Recovery College: What is your diagnosis and how do you feel about it? Schizophrenia and OCD. I prefer not to think about it because it makes it worse when I think about it. How long have you suffered from mental illness? Around 18-23 years. How do you manage on a daily basis? Sometimes I find it difficult to manage but I try to concentrate on what I am doing at the time. Have you thought about telling your story to the public (anonymously or otherwise)? I come from a South Asian background and mental health is seen as a NO GO AREA so I just keep it to myself. What advice would you give to someone else with a mental illness? What have you found most helpful? Take it day by day. If you are having trouble find a friend or someone you can trust to tell what you are going through. Make sure you ask them to keep it to themselves. What are your hopes for the future? To deal with it better.

EQUILIBRIUM 24


EQUILIBRIUM 25


Food Photography Helen Grace Ventura Thompson

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 26

Summer/ Issue 38


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EQUILIBRIUM 27 EQUILIBRIUM

Equilibrium Magazine for Wellbeing  

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