An interview with Dr. Vincent Felitti about his groundbreaking research to show that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s, like abuse, neglect and severe family dysfunction) are correlated not only with mental illness and addiction, but also with physical illnesses like heart disease, lung disease and even auto-immune diseases. He reports that just asking patients about the presence of such painful experiences results in [Read more…]
An interview with journalist and Harvard Nieman fellow, Jeneen Interlandi about her father’s bi-polar disorder. Jeneen describes the way that her father’s illness went under the radar as alcoholism for most of her childhood. She reports that in his blue collar neighborhood, alcoholism was [Read more…]
An interview with Alicia Barnes about her brother Josh Barnes who had schizophrenia. Alicia describes his fear that he had brought in on himself, and how much blame and judgment there is for mental illness. She describes his difficulty with taking medication, and how the medicines impacted his creativity and sense of purpose in writing and playing music. She describes the limits of his care and how he never had access to talk therapy, but only to 20 minute medication checks. She talks about how stigma resulted in his not talking about his illness and how that may ultimately have been lethal for him. She speaks movingly about becoming involved with Bring Change 2 Mind, a group devoted to helping reduce stigma and discrimination for people with mental illnesses.
An interview with psychiatrist, Dr. Jim Gilligan, former mental health director for the prison system in Massachusetts, and the author of three books on violence. Dr. Gilligan reports that many of his patients told him that they had committed murder and other acts of violence because they felt disrespected. He reports that for these men, feeling treated as if they were one down, weak or inferior was intolerable, and that violence was their only means of reclaiming pride or self-esteem. He also observes that punishment tends to generate violence, both in parenting and in our penal system. Punishment relieves people of the guilt (that inhibits violence), but increases their shame, which fuels violent acting out. Under his tenure, the only prison program that successfully reduced recidivism to zero, was offering course toward a college degree. In those men who completed the program, they now had non-violent means of reclaiming their self-esteem, and feeling less ashamed.
An interview with playwright, Cathy Plourde, founder of Add Verb productions about her new play, Major Medical Breakthrough. Cathy tells the story of writing a play to inspire health care providers to screen their patients for domestic violence. She gave sobering statistics about the high numbers of women and some men, who are being abused who see their doctors during the abuse and are never asked about it. Indeed only 10-19% of doctors report that they screen their patients routinely for domestic violence. Cathy stressed that where there is domestic violence, there is also likely to be sexual assault, something that often goes unasked about. She cites the ACE study to show that the more trauma in a person’s life, the more physical health problems they will have, and unless our doctors and nurses ask their patients, the cause of many illnesses will be missed. She gave a thoughtful description of why providers are hesitant to ask, but encouraged health workers to trust that asking the question, providing support and access to resources can make a tremendous difference.