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Dr. Paris Williams presenting - "Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis"

Ron Unger LCSW

Friday, May 18, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (PDT)

Dr. Paris Williams presenting - "Rethinking Madness:...

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About Rethinking Madness:

"With his groundbreaking new book, Rethinking Madness, Paris Williams takes us into a world in which he joins psychology with Budddhism and Western philosophy to give us a panoramic view of how madness is born, matures, and may be resolved.  Backed by an extensive and engaging survey of historical and contemporary views of psychosis and its etiology, Williams presents an integrative, deep and ultimately humane body ot theory and practice that will be of great use to anyone working in this intriguing and difficult area."  - Joe Goodread, Ph.D., author of Living on the Edge and Befriending Conflict.

What this webinar will cover:

As the recovery research continues to accumulate, we find that the mainstream understanding of schizophrenia and psychosis has lost nearly all credibility:

·         After over 100 years and billions of dollars spent on research looking for schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders in the brain, we still have not found any substantial evidence that these disorders are actually caused by a brain disease.

·         We have learned that full recovery from schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders is not only possible but is surprisingly common.

·         We’ve discovered that those diagnosed in the United States and other “developed” nations are much less likely to recover than those in the poorest countries of the world; furthermore, those diagnosed with a psychotic disorder in the West today may fare even worse than those so diagnosed over 100 years ago.

·         We’ve seen that the long-term use of antipsychotics and the mainstream psychiatric paradigm of care is likely to be causing significantly more harm than benefit, greatly increasing the likelihood that a transient psychotic episode will harden into a chronic psychotic condition.

·         And we’ve learned that many people who recover from these psychotic disorders do not merely return to their pre-psychotic condition, but often undergo a profound positive transformation with far more lasting benefits than harms.

In this presentation, Dr. Paris Williams takes us through a radical rethinking of the experiences often labeled as “psychosis,” exploring how the mainstream understanding of schizophrenia and psychosis has become so profoundly misguided. He reveals the findings of his own groundbreaking research of people who have fully recovered from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders and crafts a clear and coherent vision of the entire psychotic process, from onset to full recovery—one that is more closely aligned with the emerging recovery research and much more hopeful than the mainstream understanding.

As this vision unfolds, we discover:

·         Common factors associated with onset, deepening, and recovery from psychosis; a way to make some sense out of the anomalous experiences occurring within psychosis; lasting personal paradigm shifts that often occur as a result of going through a psychotic process; and some lasting harms and benefits of this process.

·         Ways to support those struggling with psychotic experiences while also coming to appreciate the important ways that these individuals can contribute to society.

·         A deeper sense of appreciation for the profound wisdom and resilience that lie within all of our beings, even those we may think of as being deeply disturbed.

·         That by gaining a deeper understanding of madness, we gain a deeper understanding of the core existential dilemmas with which we all must struggle, arriving at the unsettling realization of just how thin the boundary really is between madness and sanity.


Presenter Biography

Dr. Paris Williams offers the very rare and powerful perspective of someone who has experienced psychosis from both sides—as a practicing psychologist and researcher, and as someone who has himself struggled with psychotic experiences:

In his late 20’s, while in the midst of a very successful career as a hang gliding instructor and competition pilot (winning a World Champion title and multiple National Champion titles), Paris Williams suddenly found himself plunged into a profound struggle with experiences that would have likely resulted in the diagnosis of a psychotic disorder. Fortunately, he managed to avoid becoming entangled within the psychiatric system, and he instead embarked upon a journey of healing and self discovery, working to resolve his own personal crisis while aspiring to support others going through similar crises.

He has since spent over a decade deeply exploring both Eastern and Western understandings of mind and consciousness, studying intensive meditation from a number of different masters around the world, earning a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, working in numerous settings supporting people struggling with psychosis and other challenging and extreme experiences, and conducting a series of pioneering research studies at Saybrook University on recovery from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. He continues to work as a psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Dr. Williams’ Research

During his doctoral studies at Saybrook University, with the assistance of several of the most highly regarded scholars in the field, Dr. Williams conducted a series of three research studies in which he inquired deeply into the experiences of people who have experienced full and lasting medication-free recovery after having been diagnosed with schizophrenia and other closely related psychotic disorders.

Using extensive interviewing and cross-case analysis, and drawing from his own personal experiences as well as the findings of the other recovery research within the field, Dr. Williams discovered striking parallels between the psychotic processes of every participant in his studies. Then, by integrating the latest Western psychological theory with Eastern understandings of mind and consciousness, he was able to arrive at what may well be a nearly universal map of the psychotic process, from onset to full recovery. This map suggests that: (1) there are several common factors that make one susceptible to experiencing the onset of psychosis; (2) there are several common core themes within the psychotic experiences themselves; (3) there are several common factors that support the process of recovery; and (4) the successful resolution of the psychotic process nearly always seems to result in profound healing and a primarily positive transformation of one’s experience and understanding of oneself and of the world.

More Perspectives on the Work of Dr. Paris Williams

"Rethinking Madness" provides not only a compelling critique of the pesimistic and damaging "medical model' that has dominated mental health services and research for far too long, it offers some hopeful alternatives.  In particular, Dr. Williams explains how spiritual understandings, in the broadest sense, can help make sense of even the strangest of experiences, and also help point the way toward recovery." - John Read, Ph.D., professor of psychology, editor of the scientific journal Psychosis, and co-editor of Models of Madness.

"Those of us diagnosed with that crushing word, "psychotic," are too often given labels and false information that results in hopelessness.  In "Rethinking Madness", Dr. Williams turns this "no hope model" on its head. Dr. Williams effectively challenges outdated, disproven, harmful theories that still dominate today's mental health industry.  Most importantly, Dr. Williams listens closely to people who have been through the experiences so often labeled as "psychotic."  Not only does this book show there is hope for full recovery and reintegration into society, but there is plenty of evidence here that this journey may have surprising benefits both for the psychiatric survivor, and for our sick-souled society itself."  - David W. Oaks, Executive Director, MindFreedom International.

"I've been waiting my entire life for this book."  Joanne Greenberg, bestselling author of "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden."

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Have questions about Dr. Paris Williams presenting - "Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis" ? Contact Ron Unger LCSW



Ron Unger LCSW

Ron Unger LCSW is a therapist, therapy supervisor, and consultant specializing in cognitive therapy for psychosis.  He has also been an activist with groups such as MindFreedom International which work to increase awareness of possible harms and human rights violations within the mental health system, and to propose alternatives.  Additionally, Ron is a member of the board of the Mad in America Continuing Education Project, whose mission is to provide on-line courses based on research that is free of commercial interest on topics such as psychiatric medications, including their long-term effects, and alternatives that promote long-term recovery.  


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Dr. Paris Williams presenting - "Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis"
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