A conversation with Lani Peterson of the Public Voice Project about her work with formerly incarcerated men and women to help them tell their stories in a way that helps them to make peace with their past and move forward in their lives. She explains the importance of telling a story that is bigger than a narrow focus on a bad decision or mistake. She describes storytelling as a key to transforming your self-image, and how others see you. She also discusses the techniques she’s discovered to hold the listener through stories that can be difficult to hear, and the ways that listening can also be a transformative process.
A conversation with Melynda, whose husband’s early-onset dementia has hit their family especially hard. He has frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which unlike Alzheimer’s is not first characterized by problems with memory, but by poor judgment and inappropriate behavior. Melynda’s husband, a doctor, began to make errors in judgment by over-prescribing pain medications to his patients, and was incarcerated for these mistakes. After his incarceration, the family learned that his illness is genetic and that all of the six children were at risk. Melynda talks about her initial struggles to understand what was happening to her husband and how his diagnosis transformed her frustration into compassion and forgiveness. She also discusses their children’s decisions about whether or not to find out if they carry the gene which causes FTD.
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.