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Recovering Sanity / Windhorse Community

spiritual_emergency

spiritual_emergency

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Oct 15, 2008
Messages
186


Recovering Sanity: A Compassionate Approach to Understanding and Treating Psychosis
Edward M. Podvall, M.D.

Recovering Sanity is a compassionately written examination of the experience of psychosis and related mental illnesses. By presenting four in-depth profiles of illness and recovery, Dr. Edward Podvoll reveals the brilliance and chaos of the psychotic mind and demonstrates its potential for recovery outside of traditional institutional settings.

Dr. Podvoll counters the conventional thinking that the millions of Americans suffering from psychosis can never fully recover. He offers a bold new approach to treatment that involves home care with a specially trained team of practitioners. Using "basic attendance", a treatment technique inspired by the author's study of Buddhist psychology, healthcare professionals can use the tools of compassion and awareness to help patients recover their underlying sanity. Originally published as The Seduction of Madness, this reissue includes new introductory material and two new appendices.


Edward Podvoll's The Seduction of Madness is far and away the best written, most cogent, compelling history of our attempts to come to terms with the fascinating terrifying monster of madness. What kills most books about insanity is the almost irresistible urge to romance the disease and project our social, aesthetic, religious values onto such a big inviting canvas. Edward Podvoll's book is admirably free of such romance. We are all still a million miles away from knowing enough to say who will and who won't get better and what we can do to improve our odds but we will look long and hard without finding a better statement of the problem.

- Mark Vonnegut, author of The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity


The Seduction of Madness is a radical reconsideration of the psychotic mind and its never-lost potential for "islands of clarity" and self-recovery -- one which provides us with desperately needed, humane alternatives for understanding the psychotic patient. This is first a book for patients, families, friends, and physicians but it is equally an eloquent, and phenomenologically fascinating, meditation on the structure of mind.

- Oliver Sachs, M.D., author of Awakenings

Source: Recovering Sanity: A Compassionate Approach to Understanding and Treating Psychosis
This book is divided into two parts; the first focuses on four case studies of psychosis with depth, clarity and painstaking sensitivity. Anyone who has gone through such an experience is bound to recognize aspects of their own experience in the personal stories he has shared. What makes this book truly remarkable however is the second half of the book. Podvoll applies the same discriminating detail to this half of the book as the first as he details the creation of environments in which recovery can be fostered and "insights of clarity" -- always present -- can be encouraged, while discouraging the "asylum mentality" that inhibits recovery efforts.

I recommend it highly for those who are reaching for recovery for themselves or a loved one.




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spiritual_emergency

spiritual_emergency

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Edward Povall, the author of Recovering Sanity has worked with a group of other professionals to create a modest community treatment program in Boulder, Colorado. It's possible that a rare, few people might be able to utilize their services for themselves of a family member. More likely, that will be impossible. However, what I think is truly remarkable about the book and the Windhorse Community approach is it presents a number of steps that can be adapted for one's personal use. For example, caregivers typically struggle with a heavy load but it might be possible for them to borrow on the team approach used in the Windhorse Community by drawing on local and family resources. Not only would this ease the strain on caregivers, it would also help foster social relationships for the individual in crisis. In turn, this can assist them in moving back out into the larger world when they are ready to do so.

I'm very impressed with the book and the Windhorse approach. If you're interested in alternative and humane approaches to recovery, please read the brief excerpt below from their website as well as the other links offered at their site. In particular, this link is worthy of a thorough read: Recovery From Psychosis at Home


ABOUT WINDHORSE COMMUNITY...

"Windhorse" refers to a mythic horse, famous throughout central Asia, who rides in the sky and is the symbol of a person's energy and discipline to uplift himself. Windhorse is literally an energy in the body and mind, which can be aroused in the service of healing an illness or overcoming depression.

— from Windhorse Project founder Dr. Edward Podvoll's book Recovering Sanity (Shambhala Publications, 2003, p. 224); previously published as The Seduction of Madness by HarperCollins, 1990.

Recovery at home and in community
Since its inception in 1990, Windhorse Community Services, Inc., (WCS) has offered home-based treatment and recovery options to residents of Boulder, Colorado. Clients have also temporarily relocated to Boulder from around the United States to enroll in our service, seeking complementary or alternative treatment to mainstream psychiatric care.

WCS has worked with clients with a wide range of diagnoses and conditions, including schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, affective disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, personality disorders, closed-head injuries, obsessive-compulsive disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, autism, challenges of aging, and terminal illnesses.

WCS has provided skilled support to people in a variety of transitions, such as medication changes and withdrawal. Our services are applicable to people on a wide continuum of functioning – from those who function relatively well to those who have extreme difficulties in daily living. We have worked successfully with very complicated and unusual situations. Many of our clients do not easily fit into standard treatment options and seek very individualized support. Our services are offered for the long- or short-term and can be consultative or educational. We can support the work of psychiatrists or psychotherapists who have a working alliance with a client, but who under a standard outpatient arrangement cannot offer enough structure and follow-through to promote the recovery and/or safety of the client.

Each treatment we design is conducted as a unique process. Every attempt is made to match the clinician's style, training, and experience to the needs and personality of the client. We select from a group of highly trained and experienced clinical associates when staffing a treatment effort. We also have cooperative relationships with a variety of local specialists in order to provide specific expertise as needed.

Source: About Windhorse Community Services
Please note, I do not work with the Windhorse Community or act on their behalf in any capacity. I am, however, interested in psychosis, schizophrenia and recovery, particularly those approaches that can be adapted to self-help.

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A

Apotheosis

Guest
Thanks for the info Spiritual_Emergency, I wish that there was more stuff like this on offer & accessible to "sufferers", It's a shame that there doesn't appear to be anything like this in the UK.
 
spiritual_emergency

spiritual_emergency

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 15, 2008
Messages
186
Apothoesis: I wish that there was more stuff like this on offer & accessible to "sufferers", It's a shame that there doesn't appear to be anything like this in the UK.

Hello Apothoesis,
I've got a feeling we've met somewhere else before. If that's the case, you would know that the bulk of my online time is devoted to the topic of psychosis, schizophrenia and recovery.

A number of the people I speak with are limited in terms of the resources that are available to them -- perhaps they're on a disability income and couldn't possibly afford to enter independant psychotherapy or maybe they have the money but their desired treatment protocol isn't available in their community. In all cases, I always say learn everything you can from those who are producing recovery because quite often, what they are doing can be adapted to your own purpose.

For example, the basic tenet of the Windhorse Community Program is that first of all, care takes place within a home or home-like setting. The individual in crisis is assigned a team to work with. This isn't the traditional sort of team some of you might be familiar with. Rather, each team member comes into the home approximately twice a week for a three-hour shift. The focus of those "visits" is not "treatment" or psychotherapy -- it's on being together and tending to the daily necessities of life. For example, if the individual in crisis is due to clean their room, the team member might assist with that. Or if the team member has to pick up his kid from soccer practice, the individual in crisis might accompany him while he does that.


Basic attendance activities include working with the client to accomplish household activities, physical exercise, artistic or recreational activities, errands, proper use of medications, and communication and relaxation with staff members. All the team members, including the psychiatrist when possible, meet weekly to review treatment details and progress. As soon as it is practical, the client is invited to join this team meeting. There also is a weekly house meeting with the client, housemate(s), and team leader to focus on household issues.

Sometimes a client entering WCS care from the hospital needs the support of a therapeutic household and a relationship with a psychotherapist and/or psychiatrist, but not a full-team situation. In this case, one or two WCS clinicians will do basic attendance shifts with the client several times a week. Basic attendance can help with problems of isolation, coordinating medications, helping to find work, keeping the household and finances organized, and working with a consistent schedule.

Source: Windhorse Clinical Approach
In the case of the Windhorse Community, all the team members are professionals -- either psychologists or psychiatrists who have also undertaken training in Buddhist psychology at the Naropa University. Some case scenarios are included in this link that can help others gain a better understanding of how the Windhorse teams function: Recovering From Psychosis at Home. Most of us would not be able to create that kind of environment for ourselves (and some of us wouldn't want it even if we could!) but we could ,quite possibly, create a support team comprised of family members, friends, and perhaps members of the local community such as university students, members of religious organizations or individuals within the community who had moved through a similar crisis.

It's easy to see how this approach would ease the burden on caregivers. However it would also be beneficial to individuals in crisis because it would maintain or foster relationships with a larger social circle. Typically, those relationships suffer when individuals are hospitalized, isolated from family and friends, stigmatized, etc. Students in psychology, psychiatry or social work programs would also benefit by having the opportunity to work intimately with individuals who are attempting to recover from a schizophrenic process and be exposed to alternative compasionate treatments in the process that might well impact their future client/patient relationships.

In some ways, the Windhorse approach is similar to one that is being used in Scandinavian countries...

When a member of the community (usually a young adult) goes into a state of severe emotional distress and their reality becomes distorted, a team of professionals convene several meetings with the significant members of the person’s social network. The person in distress is always present at such meetings. Open dialogue, in down to earth language, is used to frame each person’s understanding of what has been happening within the network to lead the person in distress to respond in such a fashion. They use some of the ideas for a reflecting team developed by Tom Anderson in Norway.

Such meetings allow the person in distress to remain in his or her home without hospitalization, and to require little medication. Apparently, the break in the conversations, which had caused acute distress, is repaired. This allows the young person to resume connection with the people and conversations necessary to orient him/her to reality. The recurrence rate is very low, most likely because such an approach strengthens the person’s connections with their network, rather than rupturing such connections as frequently happens in hospitalization. This approach is similar to the community healing ceremonies utilized in developing countries. The recovery rate in developing countries is much higher than in industrialized countries.

Source: Learning from Northern Europe

See also: Open Dialogue Treatment


Overall, I think the Windhorse team approach could be adapted to individual circumstances and offers a lot of benefits even for those who couldn't possibly afford to travel to centers in other countries.


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A

Apotheosis

Guest
Overall, I think the Windhorse team approach could be adapted to individual circumstances and offers a lot of benefits even for those who couldn't possibly afford to travel to centers in other countries.
It appears to be a highly effective, rational & healthy approach. I will look into the links you provided further. Thank you for the information.
 
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