Featured

An extract taken from a dissertation on DSPD (Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder) by Melody Wimhurst September 2013

Voice

Adshead (2011)offers an insightful commentary on this issue. Forensic psychiatric narrative is discussed within the setting of the courtroom and the psychiatric report is likened to a tragic narrative. The index offence is the ‘crisis point in the narrative which fixes the identity of the defendant’ (Adshead 2011,p.365). A discussion by McAdams and Pals outlining the significance of narrative for the construction of personal identity is explored by Adshead (2011), who purports that the construction of offender identity is a key process in the drama of the criminal court. We are reminded that the defendant whose mental illness ‘causes’ his offence is:

a tragic figure, whose mistaken and damaged mind has brought about his own downfall, as well as creating terror and suffering for others. His ‘offender’ identity may then be combined with a ‘patient’ identity i.e one who suffers: the Greek word ‘pathos’ means suffering and is the root of the word, ‘patient’. As an expert in mental disorders and their relationship with violence, the forensic psychiatrist gives voice to this ‘patient’ identity(Adshead 2011, p.365).

However, Adshead points out that it is equally possible that the forensic psychiatric expert’s narrative can cast doubt on this identity:

These experts ‘create’ monsters with their narrative: classic monsters of story who threaten the community. But if the prosecution depict the defendant as a monster who threatens the community, the defence will try and portray him or her as a person who lost their way in life’s dark wood; who, on a quest, made mistakes and metaphorically, lost ‘sight’ of what was happening or the true import of what they did  (Adshead, 2011, p.365).

 

Griffith and Baranoski, cited by Adshead (2011, p.365), argue that the use of concepts such as narrative does not undermine attention to professional ethics in terms of objectivity, honesty and veracity. If both sides are creating stories, there is no significant concern about ethics as long as both sides are afforded the opportunity to recount their tale. The concerning factor is when only one story is told or where the story teller ‘fails to communicate their ‘voice’’.

 

This struggle for ‘identity definition’ within the courtroom may be viewed as a microcosm of a societal conflict between ‘tellable’ and ‘untellable’ narratives (Burr, 2003, p.145).  It could be argued that the Frankenstein type ‘monster’ represented by the ‘Dangerous and Severe Personality Disordered’ man, and the label pertains primarily to men, offers a ‘tellable’, therefore socially acceptable explanation for the ‘untellable’ ‘mental illness narrative’ of men such as Michael Stone. This ‘tellable’ narrative is perhaps the reason for the language utilised by the tabloid press in relation to murder, for example, the editorial comment: ‘This monster must be caught and put away for the rest of his life’ (The Mirror 1997,p.6).

Once the ‘tellable’ narrative has been articulated, often loudly, through media reporting, the tale is told, the identity of the ‘monster’ is established and the individual in question is incarcerated and effectively silenced. There is no redress with regard to the ‘offender identity’ which has now effectively been legally established within the adversarial courtroom. As Albert[1] comments regarding his perception of stigmatisation:

You’ve done something violent and you are now seen as Mr. Violent. Someone is making a judgement and you can only judge people on their actions (Ferrito, Vetere, et al., 2012,p.12).

This perception of male violence is explored in a television documentary entitled ‘Frankenstein:  the modern myth’. It is interesting that the voices of those who are incarcerated at Broadmoor may be acceptably ‘heard’ within such a programme, which explores the mythology of the monstrous.  Adshead comments during the programme:

I think there’s something about this very childish wish that we can see monstrousness. It’s for real, it’s clear and we’ll know it when we see it and yet… we keep constantly being surprised by it – ‘buthe didn’t seem like that’ – well, what did you think he was going to be like?

It is also noteworthy that the Parole Board Amendment Rules (2009) have removed the right to an oral hearing for prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence. Thus many such men who have participated in the DSPD programme truly do not have a voice.

Perhaps whilst society may not be able to ‘contain’ such a dialogue of cruelty and violence at a macro level, such dialogue may be safely contained within a forensic setting where patients’ voices may be both articulated and listened to. It may well be the role of the forensic psychotherapist to offer an alternative ‘tellable’ and socially acceptable narrative, as in the aforementioned ‘Frankenstein The Modern Myth,’in which Adshead comments:

80% of our people have experienced abuse or neglect, which is about 4 or 5 times the national average…

Hollway (2010)explores the ‘psycho-social subject in evidence-based practice’ (2010, p.9) and demonstrates how unconscious intersubjective dynamics, such as transference and counter-transference, affect the research relationship (2010, p.18). Hollway cites Ogden who presents the subject as dynamically produced in each inter-subjective relationship (2010, p.18). Ogden:

explores the idea of ‘finding yourself becoming a subject whom you have not met, but nonetheless recognise’ by the process of ‘creating a voice with which to speak (think) the words (thoughts) comprising it. The person who is produced in the interview is, in this sense, new (but also recognisable) (2009, p.19).

Hollway (2009, p.19) purports that qualitative research must build upon such evidence. However, research, representing that which is to be voiced, may not wish to uncover society’s darkest fears of us all being potentially ‘dangerous’. This may be the very reason for silencing the voices of those whom society wants to silence.

[1] Names have been changed to protect identity

On emotional pain

In my experience, emotional pain hurts far more than physical. It builds upon previous pain and compounds it. And it doesn’t go away.

It is the middle of the night and I should be asleep. Inside my heart is heavy and my washing machine thoughts revolve round and round and round, seeking to process my sad. And I don’t get anywhere.

I wish I could switch it off. I wish I could find a way to find sunshine. But I can’t. So I simply battle on, trying in vain to process and find some sort of closure.

For those super-sensitive souls like myself, life does this frequently. It throws a curved ball and knocks you over. And other humans hurt us the most. Especially through underhand, subversive and cruel actions, possibly deliberately intended to wound.

I believe in forgiveness, I really do. But I also believe it is a choice, not an emotion. So I keep choosing to forgive.

I don’t think the pain will stop. Maybe it will heal. But in the meantime, life goes in. It doesn’t wait for me to catch up….

The hallmark of 2020

I have been thinking a great deal about the past year which has been turbulent, to say the least. There are two words which for me encapsulate 2020; sacrifice and kindness.

There have been many acts of sacrifice over the year. One of the most striking acts of selflessness is the many staff who have laid down their lives for people they work for; nurses, care staff, doctors and key workers on the front line.

The BBC highlighted a tear jerking moment recently:

BBC Breakfast presenter’s teams at Covid care home choir – BBC News

Locally to where I live, there is a a new project recently set up called Community Kindness. That is very close to my heart.

So as 2020 draws to a close, I feel that much has been done by humans or humans. There have been many losses as so many have departed the planet, but there have also been great gains and for me it is learning that the real meaning of our lives is how we relate to others. Selfishness and greed haven’t been in people’s vocabulary as much this year and that is good to see.

Today’s recipe of hope is to celebrate someone who has been kind to you this year. Let them know how they have impacted your life; I am sure they will appreciate this X

Acknowledgements

BBC news online (accessed 27/12/2020)

A glimmer of hope

When life is tough what do we do? Dig deep into our hope resources. Sometimes people face horrendously difficult times and all there is is a glimmer, a flicker of hope.

Life has its ups and downs and as someone who has faced many painful times, especially this year, I understand what a glimmer of hope looks and feels like. I have been stuck in a cast for a few weeks now, not driving or going very far. My hopes of writing daily blogs were scuppered because much as I love writing, typing one handed is a bit challenging.

But the glimmer of hope has been that I have my faith, I have health, I have a wonderful job and kind family and friends. It won’t be this way for ever, just for now.

Hope waxes and wanes. Hope fluctuates. But that is life. Being hopeful is an attitude and a choice.

Today’s hope recipe is to choose hope even when she seems a distant memory. Let us choose to find her beyond this pandemic with all its limitations. X

Rain by Hope Wells

Your tears have stopped now

They have dropped onto my aching body

And diminished smile

Slathering me with sadness

Cuddling me with wet comfort

Awaking me to the life that is mine

As I slide through ripped canvas

Onto my mud

I feel my bag of sleep is wet

With tears and tears

O friendly rodents, do you sing this night

Do you shriek with grief of humankind’s unkind acts?

This I understand; skies cry for me when none else cares

Time to think

I can be an overthinker. I admit that and it isn’t helpful. However, I also need time to think and plan and reflect. I need margins.

In our busy world it is easy to rush about doing this and that and going from thing to thing so that our to do list is reduced. But margins are extremely important. Time slots to rest and reflect and mentally recharge. I love having a good think. I can note down what needs to be done, check my calendar and diary and it makes me feel organised.

If we are crazily rushing around, it isn’t good for our stress levels and it certainly isn’t good for our mental health either. We need to have time to recharge and plan. A friend of mine starts every year with a plan of things she would like to achieve in that year. And she is one of the most focussed, organised people I know.

Time spent planning is not wasted. Planning goals and dreams. These are the building blocks for a hopeful life.

Today’s recipe of hope is to sit and carve out some time for planning. If you have got caught up in rushing around, slow down. Plan some breaks in your diary. Plan some rest and relaxation time.

May we all learn to live in a balanced and peaceful way X

Exploded fantasy by Hope Wells

I write these words knowing you will never read them.

You have serrated my heart with your jagged knife

of an ending

which in my mind was a beginning

Me, in my beautiful dress

and you in your lateness

Telling me on our first date

of your six year state

of being with someone

You showed me your darkness

You told me the truth

then said goodbye

And I am still in so much pain

from the loss (one of multiple may I add).

The disappointment and most of all

the cheating me of an ending I had dreamed of

for such a long long time.

Did you want me to hurt? Did you just not know what to do?

And I torture myself with this question:

Why oh why do I so still deeply love you?

Australian sunset by Hope Wells

Tendrils of slithy light

Flirt and shove

through darkness

Death in reflection

Inevitable conclusion

The touch of my hand

(A sacrosanct moment)

carried a thousand

potential shared sunsets;

And yet within

the explosive force of

hands touching skin

Unleashing gallons of

sunlight burning like butter

Lay unbirthed a knowledge

That this moment

In sheer force of beauty

Was simply a snapshot

(camera shy perhaps)

of sunfading, flickering

extinction of more hope.

Your words so strong

Held and squeezed for every trace of meaning

conveyed a panoply of

colour which days have

shimmied into soft

softer softest grey

Threads and skeins of gold

have now

shrieked and bellowed

their last goodbye.

I love the beauty of sunset, I love the beauty of your

epiphany in my

life

Despite the pain.

Let’s talk about leprosy

Why this strong title for a post on hope? Because I wanted to write about social exclusion. When I was studying for my Masters in Social Work, I read an excellent paper by Robert Merton on this topic, entitled Insiders and Outsiders: A Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge.

I think back to a memory of my school days when they were picking teams and I was the last one to be picked, an afterthought, an outsider. I think I have always felt on the outside, looking in. I think we either feel like an insider or an oputsider.

Now where does hope come into all this? I would like to turn to a man I really admire, named Yeshua, or to give Him His English name Jesus. I think Jesus was the champion of the outsider. And here is one example. The leper was healed when Jesus spoke the words “Be healed”. No, Jesus did not touch the leper to heal him. He touched him to show His acceptance of a man who felt rejected. The gospel of Mark, which recorded this same incident, mentions that Jesus touched the man because He was filled with compassion for him.

Jesus touched the lepers, the lonely and isolated. the rejected., the outsiders. Jesus displayed social inclusion. Working in a food bank, I meet many people who are poor. do not have a home, have drug and alcohol issues, physical or mental health issues. And they are all welcome and not judged. They are outsiders welcomed in.

I think having experienced that feeling of being on the outside, it makes me acutely aware of when I am not included or invited along. However I use this to try to ensure others never feel like that. I try my best to make everyone feel included, no matter how challenging they may be. Of course social etiquette is important, however some people in society do not experience much kindness and it is my mission to be kind to others.

Today’s recipe of hope is to think about those on the margins. It is to consider helping people who may be outsiders and struggling. It may not be possible, but even a smile to someone who lives on the streets is important, because it means they are not invisible.

May you all feel welcomed and cherished X

References

https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/225294 (accessed 13/08/2020)

(accessed 13/08/2020)

Courage

When I first started writing this blog on January 1st 2020, I promised to have integrity in writing and be transparent. So I will be. So, I want to speak about courage today. The courage and strength to battle on. Because for some of us life would be described as joyous, invigorating and exciting. And for others it would probably be described as a battle.

At the moment, life for me would definitely be described as a battle. I personally have not found the life path very easy and that is why I cling to Hope, to help me get through. Life does not come in a gift wrapped bow for everyone; there are many challenges and sometimes it is hard to find Hope when things have gone awry. But I write this for those who have had a blessed path and those who have not. I particularly want to reach out to anyone battling depression or mental illness today and congratulate you. Because if you are fighting those things, you have courage.

Courage may be deemed strength in battle as in soldiers fighting in a war. But I view courage as strength in life; the unsung heroes who have mental illness and get up every morning with heaviness and pain in their heart, fight against becoming bitter, fight to celebrate other people’s happiness and Facebook pages, when their lives feel empty and bereft, fight to keep going, fight to present a public face when all they want to do is crawl under a duvet, fight to not exit stage left but see a stage that extends beyond today’s suffering.

And the same is true of those battling physical illness; those who are fighting cancer, or chronic pain and keep joyous, keep giving out, keep blessing others. You are all unsung heroes and I salute you today.

And those who are bereaved and are courageously rebuilding their lives that grief has bulldozed through. I salute you. You are amazing.

To all fellow sufferers today who are clinging to hope like a life-raft, I celebrate you. To those who are happy, enjoy and keep hoping. To those who are deeply unhappy, Hope is there for you at this time. She offers her arms of comfort that you are not alone.

And I also want to celebrate those who offer a hope life-raft to the suffering souls. |I want to do a shout out to The Samaritans who hold a hand of non-judgmental hope to those in distress, those who are battling suicide and cannot carry on, those with no-one to listen at 3am. Thank you for being a hero.

Today’s recipe of hope is to celebrate if you have battled on against the odds. Give yourself a massive pat on the back. If you are in a great place and know of someone who is struggling, please look out for them. Please keep in mind those who may seem strong and independent, who live alone. Because they maybe more vulnerable than they appear. Above all, let us be kind to ourselves and one another

May you all know the Hope that comes through courage X

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started