Fia Backström is an artist and an art teacher. When she was 24 years old she was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for the first time. She experienced psychiatric treatment as a way of disciplining the individual patient to get back into the norm of the production line, so to speak. Medication was presented as the only option. Fia has studied historical and presentday holistic methods, alternative models to psychiatry. By regarding the life system as an ecological web and by working with creative and political expressions of social belongingness, where craziness is a part of life, Fia has been independent of medication since 2011.
Katrine Borre has worked as an independent freelance documentary director since 1985. DR-TV, The National Danish Film Institute and Swedish TV are some of the distributors of her work. Most often, Katrine Borre works on her own with her camera and prefers to integrate with people or environments. She strives to present counter-images or to look at important issues from new angles, always with a focus on individual human beings. The film Mette’s Voice is Katrine´s first story from the psychiatric field and told by someone coming from ”the outside”.
David Cohen is Professor of Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs of University of California, Los Angeles. He has studied the lifecycle of psychoactive drugs and their uses and effects, particularly iatrogenic, in contexts ranging from small helping relationships to whole societies. He is also interested in the impact of medicalization on culture and the role of coercion in systems of care. He has taught in Canada, France, and the United States. His latest book, co-authored, is Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs (2013).
Anne Cooke is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the UK. She is the editor of the British Psychological Society’s recent public report “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality and what can help”. Anne is Principal Lecturer and Clinical Director of the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. She has worked in the British National Health Service for many years, leading psychology services in psychiatric hospitals and mental health teams. She believes that we need to change the whole way we think about the contested area of mental health.
Laura Delano is a psychiatric liberation activist, writer, and community organizer. She entered the “mental health” system as a thirteen-year old and escaped it fourteen years later, after accidentally stumbling upon Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic. Today, Laura works with individuals looking to free themselves from psychiatric labels and drugs, and communities seeking to build alternatives to the “mental health” system. She is an editor, consultant, and film festival organizer at Mad in America and she lives near Boston, Massachusetts, where she has founded a mutual support group for people coming off psychiatric drugs.
Jacqui Dillon is a speaker, writer and activist, and has lectured and published worldwide on trauma, psychosis, dissociation and recovery. Jacqui is also a voice hearer and the National Chair of the Hearing Voices Network in England, Honorary Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London, Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Durham University and Visiting Research Fellow at The Centre for Community Mental Health, Birmingham City University.
Mette Ellingsdalen is a Norwegian human-rights activist. Her work is focused on ending discrimination against people with psychosocial disabilities and on promoting basic rights and human dignity. Mette has a good deal of experience on the inside. She was hospitalized at the age of 22. Over the next 13 years, she was prescribed over 25 different psychiatric drugs, and was given multiple electroshock treatments. Her attempts to address the harmful effects of the treatments were met with indifference by a system that was more about power than about truth and knowledge. From 2007 to 2014 Mette was chair of the user/survivor organization We Shall Overcome (WSO), in Oslo. Currently she leads WSO’s Human Rights group.
Annica Engström, Master of Fine Arts, is a designer, project manager and lecturer. She has worked for several years as project manager at the Foundation Gyllenkroken in Gothenburg. Among other things, she runs the organization’s creative development project. Annica is working actively to contribute to changing attitudes and understanding about mental disabilities in today’s society. By producing exhibitions, lectures, films, books and magazines, she works to convey knowledge to both professionals and the general public.
Eugene Epstein, PhD, MSW Lothar Duda, Dipl.-Psych. Manfred Wiesner, Dipl.-Psych.
Eugene, Manfred and Lothar share much in common: All three are psychologists and practicing psychotherapists in Germany, with much experience as trainers, supervisors and practitioners; they share a critical stance toward mainstream psychiatry, the pharma-medical-industrial complex, as well as the ever-expanding “therapeutic state”. They understand the term “therapeutic state” to mean the widespread and continually increasing use of therapeutic language and vocabularies to describe any and all aspects of our normal lives, or in other words, the pathologizing of everyday life. They have been colleagues and friends for many years and share a strong affinity towards social constructionist theory along with a love for film. They view psychiatric diagnoses as rather unaesthetic and unhelpful vocabularies of infirmity, and psychotropic medications and forced treatment as unnecessary excesses of a society that places little value upon relationship. Using film material from a variety of sources, they invite the viewer to engage in new thinking about possible post-therapeutic futures.
Bob Foss was one of the first proponents of Laingian Existential Phenomenology in Scandinavia, radically criticizing the psychiatry of the day. He brought with him this conviction into his subsequent vocation as a filmmaker and screenwriter. He is the director of the film Philadelphia Network (1977) and author of the book Film Making – Narrative and Structural Techniques and has written several motion picture screenplays. He is currently the editor of The Searchlight, a magazine published by the Norwegian psychiatry user organization We Shall Overcome.
Elias Hersi lives in Gothenburg. He is a poet and a musician, playing mainly blues and hip-hop, and his biggest dream is to become a P.E. teacher or a music teacher. He wants to continue his education and take back all the years he missed because of what he suffered in life. Elias says, ”Now I feel better and wish all the children and adults in the world a good life and good health. I also hope that my film, Elias´ Angels & Demons, can help you as it has helped me. The film was a heavy burden to bear, and if you cannot unload your heaviness yourself then you must dare to ask for help, do not hesitate a second!”
Carl Pontus Hjorthén is a Swedish film director and actor. In his childhood and youth, he played the son of his father’s character Willy Strid in the Swedish National Public Television series Home to the Village. He has lived in Spain for many years but is now back in Sweden. In collaboration with Martin Jönsson, Carl Pontus Hjorthén has made several films, including Mari Carmen España: The End of Silence (2008), The Secret (2009), about the life of Carl-Ivar Nilsson, and Football’s Last Proletarians (2011), about the successes of Gothenburg Football Club in the 1980s. His film A New Life (2014) is about Inge Schiöler and the Gothenburg colourists.
Carina Håkansson founded the Family Care Foundation in 1987. In the autumn of 2015 she is going to launch the Foundation for the Extended Therapy Room, the purpose of which is to use therapeutic practice, research, advocacy in order to place psychotherapy where it belongs: in a social, political, cultural and relational context. Carina has a PhD in Psychology and is a licensed psychotherapist. She has written several articles and three books.
Peter Kinderman is Professor of Clinical Psychology and an honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Mersey Care NHS Trust. He is Head of the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool. The Institute conducts world-leading research in the areas of well-being and public health as well as research on mental health and applied psychology. Peter is the President Elect of the British Psychological Society and co-author of their recent public report “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality and what can help”.
Lars Lejring is a freelance journalist from Gothenburg with a focus on people’s social and emotional life conditions. He works with a variety of expressions; the written word, the radio medium, photography and film. He is the director of the film Conversation with Barbro Sandin and has made a documentary about what is called schizophrenia for Swedish National Public Television. He has written books on the same theme. Lars Lejring also has a background as an artist and painter.
Hanna Lundblad-Edling works at the Family Care Foundation as a social worker and a psychotherapist. At present she is also the project leader for the film festival Driving Us Crazy. She has written the book Nine Lives – Stories of Ordinary Life Therapy (2014) published by Mad in America Books. Hanna has a background as an actor, artist and ceramicist.
Nina Norén has worked as an actor since 1978. She is educated in both physical experimental and traditional theatre. She teaches acting and directs in different theatre schools, in Sweden and internationally. In 2005 she and director Sara Larsdotter started the independent theatre group Theatre InterAkt. They have created a trilogy of plays which mirror groups whose voices are seldom heard in society and who can easily be hidden and forgotten. Their play Songs from the Silent Voice is one of them. As a child in a very difficult family situation, Nina found that art could become a saviour. She believes in theatre as a healing power for individuals and society.
Daniel Mackler is the director of several documentary films on recovery from psychosis without medication, including “Open Dialogue”, “Healing Homes” and “Take These Broken Wings”. These films have been subtitled in as many as twenty languages and have been screened worldwide. Daniel has also worked as a psychotherapist in New York City for over ten years.
Writer-Director Terry McMahon’s debut “Charlie Casanova” was awarded Best First Feature at The Galway Film Fleadh and was distributed by Studio Canal. His follow up “Patrick’s Day” was awarded The Directors Guild of America Finders Series Award, The Grand Jury Prize at Woodstock Film Festival, Best Film at The Galway Film Fleadh, the Audience Award at The Cork Film Festival and three Irish Film and Television Awards. McMahon has lectured in Trinity College Dublin, The National Film School, The John Huston Film School and The Casa del Cinema in Rome.
Åsa Moberg is an author, translator and social commentator. She had planned to become a textile artist but in the spring of 1968 she by chance became a columnist for Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, and she remained there until 1980. At present she contributes to several Swedish magazines. She has written 21 books, none of them translated to English. Two of them are Simone and I – Thinking about Simone de Beauvoir (1996), and Adam’s Book (1999), a book about life with the diagnosis bipolar disorder, together with Adam Inczèdy -Gombos. Her most recent book, An Extremely Expensive and Life-Threatening Technique for Heating Water – A book about nuclear power, was published in 2014.
Suzanne Osten is a writer of novels, plays and children’s books as well as a filmmaker and a play director. She was the artistic director of the children’s theater “Unga Klara” in Stockholm between 1975 and 2014. The Swedish Film Institute has appointed Suzanne Osten to be Ambassador of Children’s Films. In 2014 Suzanne directed the play Anna’s Wardrobe at Gothenburg City Theatre. The play, written by Ann Sofie Barany, is about children and psychoanalysis. Suzanne is now working with the film The Girl, the Mother and the Demons.
After 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and the USA, Professor John Read now trains clinical psychologists and conducts research at the Universities of Auckland, New Zealand, and Liverpool, England. He has published over 120 papers, primarily on the relation-ship between adversity and psychosis. He also researches the effects of bio-genetic causal explanations on stigmatization, as well as the connections of these models to the pharmaceutical industry. John Read is on the EC of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (www.isps.org). His books include Models of Madness (2013) with co-author J. Dillon.
Olga Runciman is a psychologist and a psychiatric survivor, a psychiatric nurse and a voice hearer bridging two opposing worlds which never quite meet. She is an activist demanding human rights for the oppressed people of psychiatry. She works hard to open up and expand spaces for voices traditionally never heard, those of the so-called ’severely mentally ill’. She is convinced that if these voices take form and become meaningful, change can occur both within and outside of psychiatry. She wants to increase choices so that psychiatry can be regarded as simply one of many possibilities and its power to force people to use it can be taken away
Haakon Sandøy, film director from Norway. Educated in the Polish Film School (PWSFTViT) with the Vesaas film Brannen/ The Fire (1973). In the feature film Dagny (1977) Lise Fjeldstad gave a vivid portrait of Dagny Juell in 1890s Berlin, Christiania and Krakow. Angels in the Snow (1982) after the novel by Ketil Bjørnstad. By Haakon Sandøys many documentary films should be mentioned: The Warsaw Etiudes ’69 (1969), Standstill Before Freedom (1984). For Your Own Good (1997) and Force Against Conviction (2001), about Arnold Juklerød and his battle against psychiatry, which together with the short film The White Coats (2001) are parts of the film project The War Against Passion. Under construction is the documentary film Coercion and Freedom.
Dylan Tighe’s debut album Record, inspired by his personal experiences of emotional distress and of the mental health system, was released in 2014 to widespread acclaim. Dylan has also worked extensively as an actor and theatre-maker, winning the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Production in 2010. A radio play for RTÉ, the Irish Public Service Channel, featuring songs from the album and challenging the scientific view of mental health, was nominated for the Prix Europa. He has written a chapter entitled “Start Making Sense” that appears in Madness, Psychiatry, and Performance, recently published by Palgrave. Photo: Ros Kavanagh
Robert Whitaker is the author of four books, two of which tell of the history of psychiatry. His first, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill was named by Discover Magazine as one of the best science books of 2002. His newest book on this topic, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors Book Award for best investigative journalism in 2010, and has been translated into Swedish, among other languages. He is the founder of madinamerica.com, a website that features research news and blogs from an international group of writers interested in “rethinking psychiatry”.
Emmy-nominated documentary producer Lucy Winer has been making social issue documentaries for over 30 years. Her decision to return to Kings Park was impulsive, sparking an 11-year odyssey to make peace with her past and the institution that once confined and continued to haunt her. Begun with great trepidation, the resulting film Kings Park, produced with life-partner Karen Eaton, has brought “gifts that I never could have imagined.”