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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and Narrative Medicine.
SHARE Wednesday, March 23, 2011 Narrative and Science: Day 13 of the Australian Journey (2047 views)
Today was our last full day in Australia and the occasion for a lecture and series of discussions at the University of Melbourne's Center for International Mental Health and School of Population Health. We explored the bridges between science and the indigenous world view of narrative. Particularly we were impressed with how neuroscience is completely supporting indigenous knowledge about narrative and its importance!
SHARE Tuesday, March 22, 2011 The Power of Community: Day 12 of the Australian Journey (1928 views)
Day 12 of our Australian Journey for cross-cultural exchange in mental health was a low-key day of exchanges about healing in community. We explored the concept that healing cannot occur so easily without involvement of the entire community. Those people to whom we are accountable must agree to allow us to change, or we will not change. We must be invited by the important others in our life to perform a different story.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, March 21, 2011 Beyond Narrative Therapy: Day 11 of the Australian Journey (2731 views)
On Day 11, we engaged in dialogue about the narrative therapy of Michael White, which is what most people in Australia and the United States index, when we say narrative practices, and the narrative practices of indigenous people. While we deeply respect Michael White's contributions to psychology and humanity, we present him as one branch on a tree of narrative in which indigenous people live in the trunk and the roots.
SHARE Saturday, March 19, 2011 Approaches to Trauma in the Indigenous Community -- Day 10 of the Australian Journey (2606 views)
Today is Day 10 of the Australian Cross-Cultural Mental Health Journey. Today we talked about trauma in aboriginal communities and how to address that trauma. We collaboratively arrived at some ideas to propose. We agreed that narrativizing is necessary. We need to hear the stories of woundedness that people have to tell and to celebrate their resistance to abuse and to focus more on the resistance than on being a victim.
SHARE Friday, March 18, 2011 Implementing Narrative Practices: Day 9 in Australia (1960 views)
The highlight of Day 9 in our Australian cross-cultural mental health journey was a workshop for indigenous mental health and human service providers on how to make their services more indigenous friendly. This involves, of course, conscious decolonization of our clinical practices. We talked about the need to become more narrative, to listen longer and more deeply to the stories people tell us and to hear stories of others.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 17, 2011 Narrativizing is the first step at becoming indigenous friendly -- Day 8 (2254 views)
On Day 8, we asked how do we transform health care to become more indigenous friendly, whether it's mental health care of general medical care. The answer that jumped out was to implement narrative practice. Indigenous cultures are virtually uniformly cultures of story in which stories matter greatly. Being heard means having the opportunity to tell one's stories. "Treatment" begins by hearing and acknowledging stories.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 16, 2011 Still More Similar Than Different -- Day 7 of the Australian Journey (2320 views)
Today finds us in Day 7 of our Australian Cross-Cultural Mental Health Journey. They lessons of these week have been very consistent -- indigenous from anywhere in the world is more similar than different. An elder proposed an answer for this. He said, "When you listen to the spirits and to nature and show respect, you get the same guidance 'cause spirits talk to each other. They know how the world should go!"
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 15, 2011 More Indigenous Similarities Despite Differences -- Day 6 of the Australian Journey (1424 views)
This is Day 6 of the Australian cross-cultural mental health exchange journey. Today we all experienced a form of healing used in the Northern Territories called "burning". They correct usage appears to be, "I burned her and she got well." One doesn't actually get burned, but palm bark is ceremonially placed in the area of an injury or sickness after having been made warm in a fire, accompanied by touch therapy and prayer.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, March 14, 2011 Indigenous People are more Similar than Different -- Day 5 of the Australian Journey (2037 views)
Today is Day 5 of our Australian cross-cultural mental health adventure. We traveled from Melbourne to an aboriginal owned island which has ancient sites and is in the Gippsland Lakes. The take home message for the day came from a Gunnai-Kurnai aboriginal man at the end of the day, who said, "Indigenous people are more similar all over the world than they are different." He had the final word for the day, which is so true.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 13, 2011 Intergenerational and Historical Trauma: Day 4 of the Australia Journey (2052 views)
We continue our Australian cross-cultural mental health journey for day 4. Today's topic was intergenerational and historic trauma. In an inter-faith context we talked about the need for the suppressed stories to be told. We talked about epigenetics, which is the way in which the trauma of the ancestors are genetically transmitted across as many as four generations, if not more. We discussed the need to tell these stories.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 12, 2011 The Narrative Interview: Day 3 of the Australian Journey (1952 views)
Today finds us on Day 3 of our Australian cross-cultural journey. Our focus today is on the narrative interview. How would we interview people if our focus was to elicit their story instead of making a conventional DSM diagnosis. I interview a woman who has been suffering for 12 years and who has finally been offered an antidepressant medication. I show how her suffering can be rendered intelligible through narrative.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 12, 2011 Rescue: When is it Unethical? (1626 views)
An under explored ethical area is that of what Michael Ortiz Hill, in his marvelous new book, The Craft of Compassion, has called professional narcissism. This is when we need our clients to get well for our own needs. Of course, we want to think that we are effective and can help people, but the more we think this way and the less we think of dialogical resolution where each contributes to the outcome, the more harm we do.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 12, 2011 Imaging and doing are not as different as they sound (3454 views)
Contemporary neuroscience has shown us that imagining an act and performing an act are virtually the same. We can strength our muscles almost as much by imagining exercising as by exercising. If mind is so powerful, why aren't we harnessing it for the good. I fear that mostly we allow it to run for the bad, imagining ourselves in any number of dire straights and illnesses, instead of imagining ourselves hale as we should.
SHARE Saturday, March 12, 2011 Eqalitarian Healing: or What can we Learn from Vygotsky (1985 views)
Vygotskyan ideas are useful to explain a concept my colleagues and I are developing for egalitarian healing. We are working to undermine the expert professional/defective client model and to put those who help people and those who are helped on a more equal footing. Vygotskyan theory helps us understand how to do this. Vygotsky describes a More Knowledgeable Other concept in which this Other can teach learner missing skills
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, March 11, 2011 Suicide and Mental Health: Australia Journey Day 2 (2090 views)
Lewis and Coyote Institute are on Day 2 of an Australian journey which is a cross-cultural exchange about ideas for mind and mental health. Today we focused upon suicide which elders told us was rare in Australia prior to European contact, but now, all to common. We focused upon suicide as a modern non-indigenous template for the communication of suffering which sometimes backfires leading to accidental death.
SHARE Thursday, March 10, 2011 Coyotes and Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge (1255 views)
Three of us from Coyote Institute have journeyed to Australia to consult with a local aboriginal group on how to incorporate local culture into their health care and other services. This is the first in a series of daily blogs about the trip. I begin by wondering about coyote as a symbolic muse, an animal who lives at the margin and is currently expanding its territory. We discuss templates for the expression of pain.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, February 10, 2011 The Larger Stories of Education (1383 views)
Art and play are important in psychology and psychology education. I use the opportunity of attending the National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology annual meeting to speculate about the future of psychology education and to ponder the effects of for-profit institutions on education. I suggest that for-profit education can only be mediocre because real education aspires to creativity and for-profit standardizes.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 18, 2011 What we can learn from Tucson and why not to overreact! (2334 views)
The recent tragedy in Tucson has led some commentators to demand more inpatient beds, easier commitment laws, and forced treatment with medication. I argue that none of this would have stopped Mr. Loughner, since he had not come to anyone's attention yet. We need to refrain from overreacting and further stigmatizing the mentally ill, who are, by and large, not violent, and we need to think about ways to reach out more.
SHARE Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Clinic Restructuring (1364 views)
I work part-time in a community mental health center in New York. Recently New York's Office of Mental Health has restructured clinical services. I write about what that has meant for quality of care, which inevitably goes down. I argue that this is inevitable in a "fee-for-service" system. I argue that the alternative is to pay physicians to care for panels of people and to do the best job as they see fit for these people.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 19, 2010 Hearing Voices and Seeing Visions: What to do? (8033 views)
Once upon a time, in most of the world's societies, hearing voices and seeing visions was honored and desired. In contemporary, modern culture it has become the one symptom that allows an immediate diagnosis of a psychotic disorder. In this essay, I write about the downside of pathologizing voices, while still acknowledging that many people suffer enormously from voices and negative visions. I describe how to be healing.