Monthly Archives: January 2007

Creating healthy environments in psychiatric wards

no straight jackets

No straight jackets? 

Here’s a cheerful feature from The Guardian about a new male psychiatric ward in South London called The Tarn.  Everyone working at the centre recognises the importance of creating a safe, responsible, stimulating and status rich environment for the severely unstable and often violent men who live there – and the article reports on their very positive results:

 “Francis Adzinku, the trust’s acute and crisis services manager, insists that he and his colleagues developed their distinctive approach in former, very rundown wards, and that it is much more about attitudes and principles.

“If you prepare an environment where you think people are going to throw things around, then they come prepared to do that,” Adzinku says. “But if you put people in an environment where they feel comfortable, where it is clean and where there are nice things to look at, the effect can be wonderful. The philosophy is to have, as much as possible, an ideal environment, and we have a very good multi-disciplinary team who have a clear idea of the philosophy they are working with.” read the article

Posted by: Eleanor


The fatal consequences of not treating PTSD

The almost unbearable tragedy reported today of the former soldier David Bradley, who had not been detraumatised from the experience of serving in the Gulf War, Bosnia and Northern Ireland (discharged in 1995), and who killed four members of his family with a pistol before giving himself up to police – reminds me of a short but poignant case study published in the Human Givens Journal in 2003 about a Falklands War veteran who had lived with severe PTSD for over 20 years until being detraumatised in one session using the rewind technique. He describes his experience:

Ken is a 49 year old Falklands veteran who, between March and June 1982, experienced three terrifying events. A missile hit HMS Antelope, but did not immediately explode. Twenty four hours later, it exploded. Ken had to pull bodies out of the water as he was helping to get his colleagues off the ship.

Ken rated his wellbeing, as a result of these events, as 5 out of a possible 50. He described his life before rewind: “I don’t go to parties because of the noise. I know the balloons will bang. I pre-empt by ducking under a table. I start to sweat; it’s sheer terror for me — it takes me back to the war. I vomit — people think I’m drunk or on drugs. I feel I am back on board; I’m swaying.

“I have lain on the bathroom floor for hours because I feel so physically sick. For days I am on edge, sometimes unable to walk. I avoid sleep because of the nightmares and, after several days, I get hallucinations, I sit in the flat in total darkness for days, curtains drawn. I imagine the bus going by is a jet. The smell of fuel oil, ‘burnt pork’ makes me feel sick. I’m sweating profusely but I am cold and shaking, in a state of mental confusion.

“I was like a zombie, a robot. I saw my GP in 1983, after leaving the navy. I saw a psychiatrist for a year. It did not help; it was a waste of time. I have no recollection of what they said, apart from being told I was a manic-depressive. Medication did not stop the nightmares. I have been prescribed Valium, Mogadon, antidepressants and I’ve been given antipsychotic drugs, and they did not help.”

Seven to 10 days after rewind, he said, “The memories don’t seem to bother me anymore. I’m not fearful. I’m unsure — it’s like bereavement. I’ve had 20 years of a wasted life. It’s like coming in to the light. I felt jolly, joking and then — but what am I going to ‘do with it’? I feel all over the place. I feel like I’m born again at 50.”

Three to six months later, he commented, “I feel my face has changed. The light has come on from within; it’s a spiritual light. I am more relaxed, more at peace. I think I am content. I have laughed more in the last weeks than the last 20 years. I sleep much better; I eat well; I can relax. I feel much more in control. This has been life changing for me — no more flashbacks or nightmares; it was like a prison sentence. My partner has noticed the difference in me. She likes what she sees.”source

The surviving family of David Bradley released a statement saying “My sister and I try to cope with this by trying to believe it was not David who did this unspeakable crime but some other entity that slowly took him away from reality and into some other dark world.”

PTSD indeed strips away reality, leaving suffered ‘trapped’ in a world of heightened emotional arousal, so Bradley was in ‘some other dark world’, and the charges against him were rightly dropped under grounds of diminished responsibility due to’ mental illness’.

It breaks my heart to read about the terrible consequences that can arise from people not being effectively detraumatised after horrific experiences (not just soldiers) – so if you know anyone suffering from PTSD or panic attacks please read this article published in the Human Givens Journal (2005) which decribes how the rewind technique, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR), and emotional freedom therapy EFT or ‘tapping’) share a common mechanism that explains their often miraculous effects on traumatised people, and also explains why the rewind technique in particular is taught to and used by human givens therapists to great effect.

Posted by: Eleanor

A human givens team is to train trauma counsellors in Rwanda

The inter-tribal genocide in 1994 left a huge legacy of trauma in the population of Rwanda.  People who suffered or witnessed terrible events may still be living in the same village as those who inflicted these horrors.  Dealing with the personal memories of these traumas is vital for the future wellbeing of both the individuals concerned and the communities they live in.

Moved by the plight of the Rwandans, two MindFields College graduates, Pamela Woodford and Maarit Brooks, have decided to do something to help and on 24th May they will be travelling to Rwanda to deliver training in the refined HG version of the rewind technique and the human givens approach to mental health. They will be away for ten days and will be training up to 60 local counsellors on how to treat trauma.

Pamela and Maarit will be working with a local partner agency REACH (Reconciliation, Evangelism And Christian Healing) which was formed in 1996 in response to the genocide.  Since then, the organisation has trained 3,680 people in reconciliation approaches, including local religious and government leaders, women and young people, belonging to both Christian and Muslim communities.  Their work is now moving from community level reconciliation to dealing with unresolved personal trauma.

Preparation for the training will involve translating the materials into the local language and working with the interpreters who will help Pamela and Maarit deliver the training sessions.  They are funding the trip themselves and will be travelling with their husbands who intend to record the trip and handle necessary admin.

Whilst the thought of delivering training like this into a different culture and language could be daunting, Pamela and Maarit are both full of enthusiasm for the difference the human givens approach will bring to individuals’ lives in Rwanda.  Even so, they would warmly welcome any insights from anyone about localisation of the human givens approach to African cultures – if think you may have any useful advice to give, please leave a comment on this blog or contact us and we will put you in touch.

We wish them all a safe and successful trip, look out for an update (and maybe even some photos!) on how their trip went on this blog and also in the HG e-newsletter.

Posted by: Jane

Waste in the NHS

I’m not quite sure why I haven’t noticed this before but here is an excellent video from the very beginning of this year about wasted money in the NHS, much thanks to Burning Our Money for this.

The other videos are also worth watching – but I can’t sit down to more than one at once because my anger levels rise too much to give them the concentration they deserve!

Posted by: Eleanor

The wrong end of the.. cake.

Someone asked Nasrudin to guess what he had in his hand.
“Give me a clue,” said the Mulla.
“I’ll give you several,” said the wag. “It is shaped like an egg, egg-sized, looks, tastes and smells like an egg. Inside it is yellow and white. It is liquid within before you cook it, coalesces with heat. It was, moreover, laid by a hen…”
“I know!” interrupted the Mulla. “It is some sort of cake.”

I have just come across this ancient teaching story and couldn’t help but notice how true it is. An interesting one to think about.

Posted by: Eleanor

“We’re being cruel to teenagers by forcing them to function in the morning”

DJemaa el Fna and the Koutoubia Minaret at night

Fruit stalls against the medina walls

Me looking out from the balcony

I have returned from Marrakesh (which is an incredible city), to this article from the Western Mail posted on our HG forum about teenagers and sleep:

“Timetabling academic subjects such as English and maths for the start of the school day could be putting teenagers at a disadvantage. A leading scientist claims teenagers follow a different sleep pattern from children and adults which means they’re more awake in the afternoon than in morning. The findings defy the traditional notion that mornings are the best time to learn because that is when pupils are most alert.

“Russell Foster, a professor in circadian neuroscience at Oxford University, said making minor changes to the structure of the school day to take this into account could boost pupils’ performances. According to research presented by Prof Foster in a talk, ‘Society, the Brain and Education – Body Clocks and Sleep’, our bodies are design so that bed times and wake times drift later as children reach puberty, meaning that teenagers and young adults prefer afternoons or evenings for both intellectual or physical activities. This pattern continues up until the age of around 20 when it starts to reverse.

“Prof Foster said forcing teenagers to fit in with our early-to-rise/early-to-bed culture, could be contributing to making them one of the most sleep-deprived groups in society. Although the optimum amount of sleep for teenagers is nine hours, studies in America have shown the average teenager gets only 7.5 hours. Sustained lack of sleep can result in poor performance ranging from impaired vigilance, poor memory, reduced mental and physical reaction times, reduced motivation and depression.

“Prof Foster said small changes such as later starting time for schools would greatly improve alertness and the mental abilities of teenagers during their morning lessons. ‘Teenagers’ body clocks can be delayed by two to four hours,’ he said. ‘Our adult body clocks are starting to gear up their cognitive functions at about 8am but in teenagers this won’t start until 10am or as late as midday. Studies in Germany and America show that when schools have changed start times to later, exam success has gone up and truancy and depression have gone down.’

“He said the problem was also evident among university and college students, and was worsened by the fact that many students were now working longer hours to finance their degrees and were using potentially damaging stimulants to stay awake. ‘It is cruel to impose a cultural pattern on teenagers that makes them underachieve,’ he said. ‘Most school regimes force teenagers to function at a time of day that is suboptimal, and may university students are exposed to considerable dangers from sleep deprivation. This imposition may trigger a cascade of events which at best amplify the problems of adolescents and at worst may precipitate a crisis for the developing brain.’

“Rhys Williams of NUT Cymru, said if schools were to change, they would be more likely to move towards the European model which sees pupils sitting at their desk as early as 7.30am.”

– Perhaps this could also attribute a little to increased onset of psychosis in the teenage years, which is often triggered by a lack of REM sleep as I have discussed before in the Bipolar post.

Posted by: Eleanor

Off to Marrakech


Tomorrow morning I’m going to Marrakech for a few days so the MindFields College blog will be on hiatus until next Monday, ‘inshallah’!

I hope you all have a good week, wherever you are in the world.

Posted by: Eleanor