Monday, 7 May 2018

new blog pages: Music Therapy, Arts & Crafts, Green Spaces 😊

Created new pages on blog:

Music Therapy

Music therapy is the use of sounds and music within an evolving relationship between client and therapist to support and encourage physical, mental, social and emotional well-being."
(Leslie Bunt, Music Therapy - An Art Beyond Words, p.8)
[thanks to my son Ed Muirhead for this quote!]

Arts & Crafts

A page about creative pursuits which help a person journey through altered mind states, as happened with me in 2015 when experiencing my 4th reactive psychosis, running out of steam after years of campaigning for justice, following the abuse of my son by Nurses in the locked seclusion room of Stratheden IPCU, Fife.

Green Spaces

A page about outdoor activities for mental health and wellbeing, including horticulture, gardening, exercise, sports, fitness, games, nature study, on the water, wildlife, travel and cycling which I took up properly in early 2016 after having to dispense with owning a car, couldn't afford it anymore.


Some examples of my creative outputs and activities since experiencing another psychosis in 2015:

pencil case for granddaughter 28Dec17
cycling to Hospital Mill crossing Manse Rd Springfield 1Feb16
Lavender, wild poppies, roses 8Oct15
main blog screenshot 3Jan18
Psychosis Journal Opinion Piece Oct17


Saturday, 5 May 2018

PhD Clinical Psychology references: Dr Peter Gordon; Prof Andy Gumley

From Dr Peter Gordon on 2 November 2016:

From Prof Andy Gumley on 5 December 2016 (had to chase it up by phoning the Professor):

my PhD Clinical Psychology proposal; accepted 25Dec16 then withdrawn 9May17

PhD Proposal [27 October 2016] 

Investigating alternative crisis house and safe haven models from the perspective of lived experience: evidencing how the journey through psychoses and severe emotional states may be made safer and more secure by avoiding hospital treatment 

Autoethnographic Introduction 

In 1970 at the age of 17 I first entered the locked ward of a psychiatric hospital to visit my mother who was a patient and came away from the experience crying myself.  Then in 1978 I too became a psychiatric inpatient, voluntary, 3 months after a very painful, induced labour and birth of my second son, having been visited by 2 psychiatrists at home in Lanarkshire who said I had hormone imbalance and “puerperal psychosis”.  In the hospital I was offered Chlorpromazine/Largactyl, refused it, then was held down and injected in the hip with the drug until I would take it in liquid form, then in pill form.  I had been breastfeeding my son so was bound to stop the milk, which I resented.  It was painful and I missed my baby and 2 year old son, but wouldn’t have wanted them to visit the psychiatric hospital and witness my state. 

Within a few days of inpatient care I was put under pressure by nurses to accept ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) but I resisted signing the form.  ECT was a regular treatment for psychosis in 1978 and patients used to line up for it, without question it seemed.  At visiting time in the evening, dressed in pyjamas because our clothes were locked away (we had to eat in mixed gender dining room), I told my husband about my fear of being forced to take ECT and he took me out of the hospital without informing anyone.  It was a common occurrence people escaping from Hartwoodhill in their pyjamas.  Coming off the high dose of antipsychotic cold turkey meant I got serious side effects, muscle spasms, and my brother-in-law with his wife in their car took me back into hospital to be put on medication again. 

I had avoided ECT but the nurses weren’t happy about this and would say to me that if I’d had the shock treatment I would have recovered more quickly from the psychosis.  I didn’t believe them because my mother had been subject to many courses of ECT against her will and because of this resisted going into the mental hospital, as we called it back then in the 1960’s.  I remember in 1966, after the birth of my youngest sister, that my mother had a nervous breakdown.  My father was very distressed and asked me what we should do, because my mother didn’t want to go into hospital.  I was 14 and didn’t know why she was resistant, she didn’t give any details.  I said to my father that she would have to go into hospital, and so she did although I didn’t see her go.  In 1970 I also hadn’t seen her going into hospital because my grandparents would have taken care of it.  But my granny died in the July, my two younger sisters were fostered, and this is when I first went into a psychiatric hospital and locked ward of female patients, as a visitor.  In the same ward was a mother who had killed her child and this was very distressing for my mother who kept going on about it and crying.  I cried too. 

In 1978 after about 3 weeks a patient I was discharged from the psychiatric hospital, sedated, and over the next year the Chlorpromazine dose was reduced from 400mgs to 100mgs a day. Within the year I was well enough to make the decision to stop the medication, informing the psychiatrist that I had done so.  He wasn’t pleased but it didn’t matter because I was in good mental health.  I made a full recovery and got back on with my life.  We lived on the in-laws farm and had a small flock of Blue-faced Leicester cross ewes which I lambed and sold at Lanark Market as hogs with lambs at foot.  In 1980 I was on the Krypton Factor, Granada TV, as a “Shepherdess” after my sister-in-law got the application forms, and I did the training with her support.  We were told that 10K people applied, 500 of us got interviews in our localities, mine was in STV Cowcaddens, Glasgow, and 32 won through to 8 heats on TV, my cousin who lived in Chester was in another heat.  I was against 3 men and came last, both in the Assault Course and in the show, although I was 2nd for the IQ test, didn’t do well at the general knowledge, subjects I knew nothing about eg snooker.  A moment of fame, front page in local paper, national paper Daily Record took a photo of me with a lamb but it wasn’t published.

In 1984 we decided to have another baby and, as with my 2nd son, I had an induced, traumatic labour, end of November, and gave birth to our 3rd son, again at around 3pm before end of day shift, experiencing altered mind states in the maternity hospital soon after birth.  I knew that it was a psychosis however I hoped to get home and recover in familiar surroundings, supported by family, without medical professionals getting wind of it.  However our GP, a family friend, came to visit me at home, the day after I was discharged, noticed I wasn’t “myself”, called an ambulance which arrived at night.  I voluntarily went out into the vehicle, in my pyjamas, in full view of the neighbourhood, accompanied by two nurses in uniform, knowing that I was going to the same psychiatric ward, leaving my baby and two sons at home with the GP and his wife.  My husband followed the ambulance.  The main fear I had was being coerced to take ECT but by this time at the end of 1984 it wasn’t a regular treatment for psychosis, I didn’t see patients lining up for it. 

On entering the psychiatric ward, or soon after, I was given an internal examination against my will.  This must have been a “procedure” but I resisted the invasion by a black doctor with an afro who put a rubber glove on and came towards me.  My husband was a witness and he apologised to the doctor for my resistance, I remember this, wasn’t drugged at the time.  The reason I resisted was because the birth of my 3rd son had been normal, no complications, a few stitches after a small cut because all my babies had big heads, were measured after birth.  The placenta came out fine.  So I saw no reason for a doctor in a psychiatric ward to be doing an internal.  He wouldn’t have been a gynae specialist, likely a junior doctor, so what was the point of it?  He might have caused damage.  My resistance was futile.  I had to submit. 

After this I was possibly offered Chlorpromazine or they may just have cut to the chase, held me down, injected me with the drug, same procedure, liquid then pills.  An inpatient for about 3 weeks then home for Christmas and discharged soon after.   My husband decided to get a vasectomy and I signed the form when on 400mgs/day of Largactyl.  He didn’t want me to have to go through same again in the psychiatric hospital.  I would have risked it.  Within a year I’d got off the antipsychotic, this time supported by a community psychiatrist who visited me at home in Lanarkshire.  I made a full recovery and by 1986 was very involved in community activities locally and further afield.

In 2002 aged 50 and menopausal I experienced another psychosis, transitioning from child-bearing years, and my sons took me into our local psychiatric hospital which I entered voluntarily with some trepidation, because in 1995/6 I’d raised complaints about my oldest son’s treatment there when he was an inpatient, having experienced a psychosis after leaving home for university in the big city.  He was given ECT involuntarily, had a critical incident, was rushed to Ninewells Hospital, we were called for, fortunately he eventually made a full recovery, with my support. 

Within a short space of time, 2002, I was detained under the Mental Health Act for 72 hours and told that I had to take Risperidone or I wouldn’t get discharged.  They put me in a female dorm with 6 beds, down a corridor that had single rooms on the other side, male patients in some of them.  I swallowed the antipsychotic pills under duress, knowing that if I hadn’t done so then I’d likely be forcibly injected with a stronger dose of medication.  Which I didn’t want, bearing in mind the risks of the mixed gender ward, and the fact that antipsychotics take away agency, making a person more vulnerable to predatory patients.  I knew this from my psychiatric inpatient experiences of 1978 and 1984, having witnessed inappropriate sexual behaviour between patients who were mentally unwell, while under the “protection” of staff who prescribed and, if “necessary”, forcibly medicated patients.

The risks to vulnerable female psychiatric patients in mixed gender wards due to loss of agency, whether through mental distress or enforced drugging, is one of the main drivers for my course of PhD research study. 


This action research PhD will employ a range of methods to investigate crisis houses and safe havens which exist in the UK and abroad, seeking good practice models and positive recovery outcomes, testimonies from people who have used alternative (to hospital) crisis services, hearing from staff working in these resources.  To build up a picture, a map of what services exist, how they have been developed, any challenges along the way, the budgeting structure, the involvement of people with lived experience and their Carers or family members, collaborations and partnerships, and any other details which will help to evidence the benefits of safe haven crisis houses.

A community development approach will underpin the research work 

“It seeks the empowerment of local communities …”

In addition, empowering the individual to act and to be in community with others.

“Good community development is action that helps people to recognise and develop their ability and potential and organise themselves to respond to problems and needs which they share”

Muirton Fairfield Action Research Project: 

Literature Review 

Here are the books so far identified as core texts for the PhD research journey:

A Gumley, M Schwannauer . Staying Well After Psychosis: A Cognitive Interpersonal Approach to Recovery and Relapse Prevention. Wiley-Blackwell. 2006

M MacCallum Sullivan, H Goldenberg. Cradling the Chrysalis: Teaching and Learning Psychotherapy. Revised Edition. Karnac Books. 2015.

F Davoine, JM Gaudillière. History Beyond Trauma. Revised Edition. Other Press. 2004

M Birchwood, D Fowler, C Jackson. Early Intervention in Psychosis: A Guide to Concepts, Evidence and Interventions. Wiley. 2000

Exploring the teaching in these books will help to frame psychosis as a transitional experience, a journey from one place to another, a way of expressing pain externally as a result of life trauma.  The provision of safe havens and crisis houses should help the person come through the psychosis and/or severe emotional state a more stronger, resilient human being, confident in their own abilities.  The research interviews and conversations, semi-structured with open-ended questions, will have the aim of eliciting information and understanding the respondent’s point of view and personal experience.  Hearing from the person what it was like to be in crisis and have access to safe haven or residential house support rather than psychiatric inpatient treatment.  Listening to staff working with people in crisis, alternative settings, how this may have enhanced their working conditions, in particular the aspect of non-coercive treatment and collaborative practices.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is a useful resource for articles on the research topic: 

Mind, the mental health charity, has links on its website to information about crisis houses and safe havens, the differences, details about services in the UK 

“Crisis house, sanctuary or safe haven? 

These services can be very similar. The main difference is that services described as crisis houses usually offer overnight accommodation with a bed for you sleep in, whereas services described as sanctuaries or safe havens usually don't. Sanctuaries and safe havens might be open overnight as a supportive place for you to go for several hours during a crisis, but they don't usually provide somewhere for you to sleep or live in.” on Mind website

The plan will be to investigate a few Safe haven crisis Houses in detail, and these will include Drayton Park Women’s Crisis House, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust: 

We provide12 women in mental health crisis a residential stay in a domestic setting, as an alternative to acute admission. We also offer non- residential services for women who have stayed previously, such as on-going support groups, peer support space and a range of workshops for women throughout the year.

And the Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service (LSLCS): 

“Philosophy of LSLCS 

Each individual has their own experience of crisis. The causes and impact of crisis will be different for each person. We believe that people are expert in knowing their own situations and with the right kind of attention and support can find their own solutions. 

Research Methods 

A range of qualitative research methods will be used in this PhD project and these will include:

One-to-one interviews
Focus groups
Online survey in conjunction with service or project engagement: as a way of people supplying more information if required, anonymously if preferred.
Observing and attending groups linked to safe havens or crisis houses, to gather information, to participate and to practise reflection-in-action (Schon

A learning system… must be one in which dynamic conservatism operates at such a level and in such a way as to permit change of state without intolerable threat to the essential functions the system fulfils for the self. Our systems need to maintain their identity, and their ability to support the self-identity of those who belong to them, but they must at the same time be capable of transforming themselves.” Schon 1973: 57 

The aim will be to hear what people are saying, to capture this in their own words, to refrain from paraphrasing so as to dilute their meaning, to discover what makes a successful safe haven crisis house, firstly from the perspective of the person with lived experience and then from the paid worker’s point of view.

Conclusion and Hoped for Outcomes 

To prove the case that Safe haven crisis Houses make sense, in both humanitarian and economic terms. 

To provide a platform of gathered information and stories as a base for future development of Safe haven crisis Houses in Scotland, as an alternative to psychiatric inpatient treatment.

To generate conversations about Psychosis as a journey, a transition which can enhance a person’s life experience, bringing more insight and greater self-awareness.

2495 words

the best laid schemes ... gang aft agley

Unfortunately ill health has meant I'm unable to visit Ireland and Wales, despite booking the trips, can't be helped.  I've had flu viruses since the beginning of the year, earache then more recently sore throat and a thyroid cyst which will need investigated.  Last year had a number of stressors and it was a long, cold winter.  My body is obviously feeling the strain.

Therefore I've decided not to plan any more visits further afield as it's too costly, financially and energy wise, with no backup team or academic support, being an old-age pensioner and unwaged carer.   However I will continue to gather information and evidence, contacting projects by Email, researching online, promoting on this blog and others, to influence the development of same in Scotland.

Here was the slide I presented at the Minorities Conference July 2016, BPS, Tabernacle Street, London, about my proposed research:

My vision still remains.