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.
This week we conclude our series on the untold stories of dementia by presenting a collection of stories from you, our listeners, about the ways that dementia has affected your lives. This collection of ten stories reflects the wide range of experiences and emotions that result from having a loved one with dementia – including frustration and poignant loss, but also warmth, connection, and surprising moments of sweetness.
Update: We received two other contributions to this series from listeners: A link to an Alzheimer’s documentary by Scott Kirschenbaum. The film follows one woman as she talks about her life in an assisted living facility and can be found at: yourelookingatme.com
And this picture below from Sandra Horne, from some of her last days looking after her grandmother who had dementia.
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 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 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.